This is a crisis blog.
There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is
about the last part of the seven interviews that Chris Hedges had with
Robert Scheer (and I add some about intelligence);
item 2 is about an article in The
Intercept that one of the responses of the NSA is to do more against
"hackers"; item 3 is about a major hack of a U.S.
federal agency (not stopped by the NSA); item 4 is
about an article about Wikileaks, that published leaked TISA files; and
item 5 shows that Obama is already busy
helping to keep the NSA collecting everything.
Finally, a repeat from yesterday. Here is a remark on my
summaries: I know that since circa June
11, 2013the titles
of my Nederlogs are pretty unclear, basically because most days I
reviewed at least five articles (which I did not do
and I can only use the titles of the articles if I publish each
separately, which is simply too much trouble.
However, I did all of this year start my Nederlogs with a summary,
while I have collected all of these summaries in English News (aka: summaries). This will help
you to find out what the Nederlogs are about.
1. VIDEO: Robert Scheer to Chris Hedges: ‘I
Will Not Blame’
the American Masses for Imperialism (7/7)
item is an article by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:
As the title says, this
is the 7th from 7 parts of the interview that
Chris Hedges had with Robert Scheer. I am - again - quite
glad that someone
took the trouble to link in the videos and to prepare the texts: it is quite
important, at least for people who want to know
what happened and
who want to react rationally.
So, to start with, here is the video (from
the Real News) of part 7:
here is a selection from the text, after
telling you that part six is here, and you can also find there
to earlier parts:
present part 7 starts as follows (by Natasha Hakimi Zapata):
In the final
installment of the seven-part
interview on The Real News Network, Truthdig
Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer and columnist Chris Hedges continue their
discussion about violence, this time with a focus on whether the
American masses benefited from imperialism. Drawing on personal
experience as well as ideology, the two get into an illuminating
conversation that highlights how, though as journalists and activists
they ultimately work toward the same ends, their fundamental
understanding of American society is in many ways at odds.
Yes, indeed. I agree
that "they ultimately work
toward the same ends" while
also "their fundamental
understanding of American society is in many ways at odds".
As far as I am concerned, I also like both, though ultimately,
while I think I understand Chris Hedges fairly well, and I have been
born in a quite Marxist
family, I am neither a Marxist nor a socialist, nor
indeed - as Chris Hedges is -
a Christian or indeed a religious
believer, for which reasons, since I also still am morally
a leftist, I mostly side with Robert Scheer, who seems to share my
basic disagreements with Chris Hedges, while admiring his courage and
I also agree with.
Indeed, while I do not know much about how Robert Scheer got his
seems fairly likely that he has - as I have - a fairly skeptical
attitude to politics
(for they are certainly not - for the fast majority who engage in these
activities somehow - rationally or scientifically
This is still from Natasha Hakimi Zapata's introduction, and starts
with her "Take a look at the
beginning of their exchange:"
HEDGES: I would disagree
with you in saying that I think most segments of the population did not
ask the hard questions about slavery or about the genocidal
campaign—roughly 2 million Native Americans (by 1900 there’s less than
250,000 left) who were slaughtered—because it was in their interests…So
I think it’s a bit like Nazi Germany, the idea that somehow people are
manipulated. Yes, of course propaganda; the elites always manipulate.
But I think it was in their interest to be manipulated in many cases,
and therefore they didn’t ask the kinds of questions they should have
asked. I think they’re far more complicit than you give allowance for.
SCHEER: This is a
fundamental disagreement we have. I just think, you know, my own
parents…going to work and the kinds of jobs—my father was…running
knitting machines and my uncle was a welder and so forth. (...)
I will not blame them. I blame—even when they are so-called populist
movements, there’s a Father Coughlin, there’s the Koch brothers,
there’s people manipulating them, there’s money pouring in. We saw it
with Occupy. They’re agents of the state coming in. They’re the false
divide-and-conquer…Oh, there are terrorists out there and there are
communists out there, there’s foreign enemy, national security. And
then we buy people off—go into the military, be cannon fodder. And I
just come from a very strong sense that throughout the world—and I’ve
seen it everywhere that I’ve been—the masses of people are manipulated.
My own view is again inbetween the two, with a bit more
sympathy for Scheer, firstly, because like Scheer I come from a poor
proletarian background, and secondly because, again like Scheer, I seem
to carry fewer assumptions than Hedges does.
Then again my position is probably rather personal and not
supported by many:
I mostly do not blame the people I grew up amongst (mostly
ordinary proletarians with few theoretical interests), not
because I cannot see, with Hedges, that "it was in their interest to be manipulated in
many cases, and therefore they didn’t ask the kinds of questions they
should have asked", for I
can, and I also can see the fear and the lack of
courage that moved many of them to consent or conform, but
basically because I hold that the vast majority is simply not
capable of much rational thought, and lacks the requisite
knowledge, intelligence and courage to act and
think like rational individuals.
And I am also quite convinced that this is an important part of
the truth about most people that most people do not wish to see:
Both of my parents had IQs above 130; both went into the resistance
against the Nazis in a country were very few went into the
resistance, and few had their intelligence. And the same for my
Then again, I also live in a country where the fundamental
lie that "everyone is of the same value" is part of the law - in spite of large
differences in intelligence, knowledge, courage, ethics, individuality
or talents - so that if I deny these lies then (i) at
least 49 ouit of 50 will be angry that I dare to regard them as less
intelligent, less courageous, or lesser individuals than - for example
- my parents or grandparents (or Einstein or Russell) and (ii) most of
these will depict me, think of me, and scream at me that I must be "a
dirty fascist", as happened e.g. rather often in the University of
Amsterdam, from which I was removed from the right of
taking my M.A. in philosophy, because I was, according to 16 academic
whores of reason "a fascist", which was a deeply offensive slander,
but it succeeded, so I now tend to be mostly silent about the
big differences I see in intelligence, knowledge, courage, ethics,
individuality or talents, simply because I know most are too stupid to see
them well or at all. 
Now to the interview, of which I have just treated the start, which I
SCHEER: (...) So what I
have seen in my life as a journalist, as a young person, and everything
was a pattern. And this is why I wrote this bloody book, because I
think now, with the new tools of surveillance, you know, being able to
compare our biometrics and with Facebook being able to move the
discussion from pessimistic to optimistic, with somebody like Barack
Obama coming into power because he was able to use all of this data to
target advertising, I see a lessening of the ability of most people to
be able to know what’s going on, to challenge it.
HEDGES: Well, all of that’s
true. And yet I think we as an imperial power are infected with the
disease of imperialism. And imperial power is primarily about the
violent subjugation of others, abroad and at home. And we have become
the richest nation on the planet through the suffering of the wretched
of the Earth.
This is another instance
of the disagreement, and here I am with Robert Scheer, simply because
(i) imperialism is a difficult concept anyway while (ii) it describes
mostly the actions and desires of those who are rich and have a lot of
power, and not of others, or only very indirectly so.
SCHEER: What I’m
disagreeing [on] is that the amount that—we didn’t benefit from
imperialism. I disagree. The rich benefited from imperialism.
disproportionately the rich benefited from imperialism.
SCHEER: No. We benefited
from labor unions. We benefited from our ability to organize.
And even if there is something
to Chris Hedges' point, the problem is that you cannot make the
many poor rationally responsible for decisions they hardly know about,
cannot properly judge, did and do not have any power over, and that
almost completely do not benefit them, but only the rich.
Here is Chris Hedges again:
[crosstalk] they do all of the labor. They work in construction and
they work in the hotel industry, they work in the—everywhere else. And
so the idea—we’re not the country we were. We have become something
really frightening. And I blame the American public, because I think
that there’s a willful kind of blindness.
And we can just take the
case of—African-Americans in this country, two-thirds, the bottom
two-thirds or three-quarters are living worse than when King marched in
Selma. The civil rights was a legal victory, but it was never an
economic victory, and King understood that if there was no economic
justice, there was no racial justice.
I agree with most of that, but
I cannot blame "the
American public" even while I
ternd to agree that their blindnesses are in part "a willful kind of blindness".
My reason is that half of "the American public" has an IQ lower than 100, and also is very badly educated,
and I know they simply do not have the wherewithall to
think rationally in any deep way, which includes knowing rather a lot
they were never exposed to.
Here is the last bit that I will quote, from very near the end of this
HEDGES: And I think that
every totalitarian country I’ve covered from Syria to—they’ve all had
elections. And I’m not saying don’t vote. I mean, I voted for Jill
Stein. As you know, I worked for Nader; I wrote his speeches for him in
2008. But if we don’t build radical movements to push back, mass
movements that defy the system and understand how dark that system has
become, we’re finished.
SCHEER: I agree with that.
And so do I - which makes
me rather pessimistic.
Report: NSA Sifts
Americans’ International Internet Traffic to Hunt Hackers
item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
National Security Agency’s ability to warrantlessly sift through
Americans’ international Internet traffic has been secretly expanded as
part of efforts to identify malicious hackers.
increased surveillance, sanctioned by the Obama administration in 2012,
has allowed the NSA to monitor U.S. Internet networks for information
about hacks originating abroad, the New
York Times and ProPublica
reported Thursday, citing documents from NSA whistleblower Edward
to the Times:
Justice Department allowed the agency to monitor only addresses and
“cybersignatures” — patterns associated with computer intrusions — that
it could tie to foreign governments. But the documents also note that
the N.S.A. sought to target hackers even when it could not establish
any links to foreign powers. […]
It is not clear what
standards the agency is using to select targets. It can be hard to know
for sure who is behind a particular intrusion — a foreign government or
a criminal gang — and the N.S.A. is supposed to focus on foreign
intelligence, not law enforcement.
The government can also
gather significant volumes of Americans’ information – anything from
private emails to trade secrets and business dealings — through
Internet surveillance because monitoring the data flowing to a hacker
involves copying that information as the hacker steals it.
One internal N.S.A.
document notes that agency surveillance activities through “hacker
signatures pull in a lot.”
As I have said before -
and see: NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future
- I believe that a secret organization like the NSA, that is
covered by a secret court, that issues secret
judgments, and that has for 14 years acted in grossly illegal ways
"to get everything" will - secretly - continue to get
everything. (And see item 5.)
3.OPM hack: China blamed for massive
breach at US federal
item is an article by Dominic Rushe on The Guardian:
The Obama administration is scrambling to assess
the impact of a massive data breach involving the agency that handles
security clearances and US government employee records, with suspicion
quickly falling on China, which has been accused of carrying out
cyber-espionage against the US in the past.
familiar with the situation told the Associated Press the hack occurred
at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Interior
Department, and could potentially affect four million people at every
The OPM is the human
resources department for the federal government and does checks for
I say, even though I
am not really amazed. There is considerably more in the article,
including denials by the Chinese.
What I did not
find was more information about whose "security clearances" may
now be known to the hackers, but I would also not be very
amazed if the hackers now know the names and clearances of most who
work for the NSA.
And I do not know how much there is to follow in the press,
especially if the last guess - which is a mere guess - is true.
4.WikiLeaks Releases ‘Largest
Leak of Trade Negotiations in History’ The next
item is an article by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
WikiLeaks has posted 17
documents about the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a giant,
controversial global trade deal being negotiated among the U.S. and 23
other countries. TISA is a lesser-known relative of the Trans-Pacific
Partnership—a deal that President Barack Obama has been actively
campaigning for in Washington.
There is also this,
quoted from Wikileaks:
The 24 countries in the deal together comprise
two-thirds of global GDP. “Services” now account for nearly 80 per cent
of the US and EU economies and even in developing countries like
Pakistan account for 53 per cent of the economy. While the proposed
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become well known in recent months
in the United States, the TISA is the larger component of the strategic
TPP-TISA-TTIP ‘T-treaty trinity’. All parts of the trinity notably
exclude the ‘BRICS’ countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South
[June 3’s] release is the largest on secret TISA
documents and covers numerous previously undisclosed areas. It contains
drafts and annexes on issues such as air traffic, maritime,
professional services, e-commerce, delivery services, transparency,
domestic regulation, as well as several document on the positions of
negotiating parties. WikiLeaks has also published detailed expert
analysis of the topics covered in today’s release.
In fact, as Roisin
Davies also says, you can download them here.
There is also
this, quoted from The Guardian:
document dump comes at a tense moment in the negotiations over a series
of trade deals. President Barack Obama has clashed with his own party
over the deals as critics have worried about the impact on jobs and
Nick Dearden, director of the charity Global Justice
Now, formerly the World Development Movement, said: “These leaks
reinforce the concerns of campaigners about the threat that TISA poses
to vital public services. There is no mandate for such a far-reaching
program of liberalization in services. It’s a dark day for democracy
when we are dependent on leaks like this for the general public to be
informed of the radical restructuring of regulatory frameworks that our
governments are proposing.”
Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future,
said: “Internet users have become increasingly aware that seemingly
obscure and complex policies that impact technology can have profound
impacts on our most basic rights to communicate and express ourselves
freely. Based on the latest leaks, it’s clear that Tisa is not only
unacceptably secretive, it contains provisions that could threaten
internet freedom, privacy, and even global net neutrality.”
The TPP has been particularly controversial because of
the level of secrecy around it – trade agreements by their nature are
negotiated behind closed doors, but restrictions on the TPP are such
that elected representatives aren’t allowed to express any specific
reservations about its content to their constituents. Moreover,
advisers specifically included in the conversation to represent the
public say they aren’t being allowed to read the entire document.
Defying Courts and Critics, Obama Moves to Resurrect NSA's Phone Dragnet
and final item for today is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
A day after President
Barack Obama signed the USA Freedom Act into law, the administration
began efforts to re-start the government's domestic bulk phone records
collection program, new accounts confirm.
The National Security
Agency (NSA) was forced to end its collection of domestic phone data on
Sunday night after key provisions of the Patriot Act expired,
leaving the mass surveillance program without federal authorization.
Under the USA Freedom
Act, the agency will have a six-month grace period to hand over data
retention control to private phone companies and then shut down its
operation for good.
But the government now
says it needs to restart the program in order to end it. According to
an administration official's statement on Wednesday, the White House
will ask the secret court authorized under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) to renew the program for the duration of the
six-month transition phase.
Officials have not
There is considerably
more in the article, but I have said repeatedly that I think the NSA will
simply continue to try to get everything, also if it is
clear that doing so is illegal.
There are basically two reason for this:
On the one hand, the NSA is assembling a database with which they can control
and blackmaileverybody, and on the other hand the
present and previous American governments really want all the power they can get,
and especially all the knowledge about anyone,
regardless of whether that knowledge is collected legally or illegally,
and therefore they will continue to do so as long as most of
the activities of the NSA remain secret and hidden, which they
Speaking for myself, it is quite possible that the differences between
Chris Hedges on the one hand and myself or Robert Scheer on the other
hand are mostly temperamental: I have certainly studied more philosophy,
philosophy of science and logic than they
did, and while I am not a skeptic, I've
found it very hard or quite impossible to convince myself of either the
truth or the probability (> 1/2) of nearly everything I read in politics,
Also, in the end I find it a lot easier to agree to fundamental ethical norms -
"you should be honest", "you should not kill", "you should be
rational", "you should be just", "you should share fairly", "you should
have rational plans" - then I find it to agree to philosophical,
political or religious systems of thought.
 Also, this pretty insane law (indeed
like the U.S. law, formulated by the Founding Fathers who just
conveniently forgot about their slaves and the indians, that "all are
equal") was proposed by someone who claimed to be "a communist" and who
was for many years the leading parliamentarian for the Dutch CP. And
incidentally, while "all are equal" is simply false, the Dutch
"all are of equal value" - you, Einstein and Eichmann, for example,
supposing of course all were Dutch - is also a deeply totalitarian
 This is really one of the basic
differences between myself and most who are or pretend to be leftists:
I know - since age 4, also, when I concluded the other children
in school "did not imagine anything when they said something" - that
there are large differences in individual native talents. I do not
hold individual persons responsible for their talents or lack
of talents, for this is mostly genetic, but persons who deny this
generally - that there are large differences between individual
human beings, even though all are human beings - are too stupid to
Also, I do think it is a major problem that the
intelligence quotient of the average is 100 rather than 130 or higher,
and I hold it very probable - though also not experimentally
decidable - that human history would have been quite different
if only the average IQ had been 30 points higher than it is.