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Nederlog

July 9, 201
Uploading works again + Crisis materials with short reviews
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















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 Sections

            Introduction
1. I can upload normally again
2. Crisis materials (links with small reviews)


This is a Nederlog of Thursday July 9, 2015.

It also is the first - somewhat - normal Nederlog that I wrote since June 30. The reasons are explained in the Nederlogs I wrote between July 1 and July 9, and briefly in item 1.

In fact, this is a crisis blog, and the first somewhat normal Nederlog I wrote since 10 days. It is fairly long, and contains brief reviews of 9 articles plus 1 interview. Since these are all reviewed in one section, there are only 2 items: item 1 briefly outlines I can upload again, indeed as I did the last three years (after a re-install and a change of passwords), and item 2 contains 9 articles plus 1 interview, with brief reviews.

1. I can upload normally again

The title says it all, or at least for the most part: I can - again - upload as I did before, for more than three years. It took trouble and time to get there, but in the end it worked.

However, for the moment I will report as I did the last 8 days: I will give a list
of articles that I found today that relate to the crisis, and I will give only brief reviews.

There are several reasons but the two main ones are time and health (I need time for doing other things, and I have little health: it has been worse, but it is not good. I'll probably get over it if the weather remains under 24 degrees Celsius, but it may get hotter again next week, and then I will not be able to do much.)

2. Crisis materials (links with small reviews)

It is Thursday today and I found 9 files with 10 links. This is too much to comment, and indeed I will only provide short reviews at most. (I have to do
other things as well, and I want to write about other things than the crisis as well.)

The first article is by Reuters in Berlin on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The US National Security Agency tapped phone calls involving German chancellor Angela Merkel and her closest advisers for years and spied on the staff of her predecessors, according to WikiLeaks.

A report released by the group on Wednesday suggested NSA spying on Merkel and her staff had gone on far longer and more widely than previously realised. WikiLeaks said the NSA targeted 125 phone numbers of top German officials for long-term surveillance.
(...)
“The names associated with some of the targets indicate that spying on the Chancellery predates Angela Merkel as it includes staff of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (in office 1998-2002), and his predecessor Helmut Kohl,” WikiLeaks added in a statement.

------------

The next article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Late Sunday, hackers dumped online a massive trove of emails and other documents obtained from the systems of Italian surveillance firm Hacking Team. The company’s controversial technology is sold to governments around the world, enabling them to infect smartphones and computers with malware to covertly record conversations and steal data.
(...)
For the last few days, I have been reading through the hacked files, which give remarkable insight into Hacking Team, its blasé attitude toward human rights concerns, and the extent of its spyware sales to government agencies on every continent. Adding to the work of my colleagues to analyze the 400 gigabyte trove of hacked data, here’s a selection of the notable details I have found so far:

And this it does.

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The next article + transcript it by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

One year ago today, Israel invaded, bombed and shelled Gaza, and continued to do that for the next seven weeks. According to the U.N., at least 2,104 Gazans were killed — 1,462 of whom (69 percent) were civilians, including 495 children. A total of 6 Israeli civilians, and 66 soldiers, were killed. The shockingly high civilian death rate in Gaza included the now-iconic imagery of four young boys from the same family being killed by Israeli warships while they played on a beach in front of a hotel filled with foreign journalists.

Months after the attack concluded, U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon visited Gaza and labeled the destruction “beyond description,” far worse than prior Israeli attacks. At least 17,000 homes “were obliterated or severely damaged during the conflict,” and it will take two decades to rebuild them; that means that “nearly 60,000 people have lost their homes.” On countless occasions, entire large families of Gazans were instantly extinguished by Israeli violence. Because the population of Gaza is so young — 43 percent are under the age of 15, while 64 percent are under the age of 24 — the majority of its residents know little beyond extreme suffering, carnage, violence and war.

As harrowing as that data is, it tells only a small part of the story. Statistics like these have an abstract property to them: cold and clinical. Viewing the devastation of Gaza through their lens can have a distancing effect. They erase the most affecting facts: the stories of human suffering and devastation caused by this attack, the sadism and savagery that drove it.

In fact, this is the buildup for a - very praising - review of a book by Max Blumenthal:
That is what makes Max Blumenthal’s new book about this Israeli attack so compelling, so necessary. Entitled The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, it humanizes this event like nothing else I’ve read.
Here is some more praise:
Whatever your views on Israel and Gaza, Blumenthal is articulate, thoughtful and deeply knowledgeable, and has done extensive, real reporting to write this book. He’s very worth listening to, and the book is highly worth the read.
Glenn Greenwald also did an interview with Max Blumenthal, which comes in a separate file:

This is a good interview, that is well worth reading.

------------

The next article is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The FBI and Department of Justice on Wednesday targeted a new set of threats to national security and law enforcement: not ISIS, or pedophiles, but Apple and Google.

Those companies and others that provide or will soon provide end-to-end encryption make it impossible to read intercepted digital messages — and without naming names, FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said that they will “work with” those companies to ensure access to their customers’ communications.

In a Senate Judiciary hearing Wednesday morning, Yates and Comey said companies that “do not retain access” to consumers’ information can complicate authorized criminal and national security investigations.

Google and Apple, in response to demands from consumers who request higher levels of privacy and security, have been slowly rolling out stronger end-to-end encryption on their devices and services such as Gmail and iPhones.

When messages are encrypted end-to-end, only the sender and the recipient have access to those messages, which are decrypted by means of specific “keys.” Without those keys, the messages look like “gobbledygook,” as Comey put it during the hearing.

There is considerably more in the article. I very strongly hope they fail (for I think the collecting of all information deeply criminal and extremely dangerous: it threatens everyone who does not belong to the goverment, and everyone who does not agree with the government), but I am not confident they will.

------------

The next article is by Ian Traynor on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Greece is under intense pressure to table a last-chance blueprint for radical economic reform, tax increases and spending cuts on Thursday in order to secure a future in the euro and stave off financial collapse.

The reform proposals are to be sent to Greece’s creditors with negotiations at the critical stage. The embattled Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, accused his eurozone creditors on Wednesday of exploiting his country as an “austerity laboratory” for the past five years while formally asking Europe for three more years of rescue funds.

The countdown to Greece’s financial collapse shifted into its gravest phase after European leaders set Sunday as the deadline by which Tsipras has to capitulate to their menu of cuts, tax rises and fundamental reforms of the Greek economy in return for bailout money. Otherwise, EU leaders said, Greece will be cut off from the eurozone, triggering banking chaos, insolvency, and likely an exit from the single European currency.

There is quite a bit more in the article. The last term seems to be midnight today:
With the five-year crisis entering a climactic five days, much will hinge on the details of the reforms that Athens is to send to the troika of bailout supervisors on Thursday. The European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European commission are to receive the details by midnight on Thursday, giving them 48 hours to examine them, negotiate, and reach a verdict before another European summit on Sunday either blesses the proposed deal or focuses on plans for coping with a new Greek currency and how to mitigate the expected post-euro humanitarian crisis in Greece.

------------

The next article is by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:

This starts with the following summary (quite adequate in my opinion):

The budget is a cynical one-nation fraud. The reality is a huge transfer of resources from poor to rich

The article itself starts as follows:

It’s a long-established Tory tradition to play their most outrageous cards as soon as possible after winning an election: impose the most savage cuts and stuff the pockets of their friends without restraint. Margaret Thatcher could barely contain herself in 1979, abolishing exchange controls and cutting the top rate of tax for the wealthiest from 83% to 60% a month after coming to power. Her chancellor, Nigel Lawson, hacked it back again to 40% in his first post-election budget in 1988, fuelling boom and bust in the process. And George Osborne unveiled his calamitous programme of cuts, tax breaks for the rich and tax rises for the poor the month after the 2010 election.
(...)
But he was at it again today in the first fully Conservative budget for a generation: inheritance tax is to be abolished on homes worth up to £1m and corporation tax on company profits is to be slashed further, while benefits and tax credits for the sick, large families, the working poor and the young are to be cut or ditched altogether.

This is a good article, that does make it clear that the Convervative budget is a fraud, and that ends thus:
What Cameron and Osborne have succeeded in doing is set us on course for US-style levels of public spending, and loaded the costs of a continuing crisis on to the backs of those least able to shoulder the burden – while dressing it up as an even-handed necessity, and convincing Labour leaders to dance to their tune on the back of 37% of the vote. That’s what the chancellor means by a “new settlement”. How long any such settlement will be accepted, as Europe is demonstrating, is another matter.

------------

The next article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig

This starts as follows:

The Internet, the electronic nervous system of the planet, has changed human society, profoundly altering the way we conduct our lives. It has been a great leveler, allowing people to connect, publish and share on a global scale. You can write, shop and bank online, or organize a demonstration that could overthrow a dictatorship. But the Internet also opens us to intense monitoring, exposing our most personal, private communications to the prying eyes of corporations and government spies, not to mention criminals. One way we can protect ourselves is with encryption, which provides security for our data, allowing us to send and store digital information safely, essentially scrambling the information. In order to unscramble it, you need a key, a password. The ability of regular people to access encryption tools has prompted the governments of both the United States and the United Kingdom to propose special access to all communications. They want a master key to everyone’s digital life.
(...)
Despite the lofty pledge, Comey and others in the so-called intelligence community want unlimited access to all communications, all the time. They want what digital security experts call “extraordinary access mandates.” This means that any encryption tool would be required to have a “back door,” through which the FBI, the CIA or whomever possesses the requisite authority could access and read the communication, whether it is email, text, video chat or any other format. Why do they want this unlimited access? As Comey and Yates said, “When changes in technology hinder law enforcement’s ability to exercise investigative tools and follow critical leads, we may not be able to identify and stop terrorists who are using social media to recruit, plan and execute an attack in our country.”

Once again (since 29 october 2005...):  Terrorism is only a pretext, and what Comey and his mates want is total control over everyone. If they get it, as they well may, it will be a radical decline in freedom and civilization, and will mean the start of a new corporate authoritarian state run by the big corporations in the exclusive interests of the rich.

This is a good article, explaining the fundaments. Here is the ending:

Ultimately, it is democracy that is at risk. The freedom to communicate without the government spying on us is essential to the functioning of a free and open society.

Yes, indeed.

------------

The next article is by Jennifer Hynton on The Guardian:

This comes with the following summary:

The contradiction of capitalism is that growth just feeds those who are already wealthy. Instead Greece should regain the drachma and keep for-profits at bay

It starts as follows:

Greece’s no vote has left everyone wondering what it all means. While the topline summary is that no won with 61.3% of the vote, this is perhaps not the landslide victory it has been hailed to be.

For a start, there is confusion around what the referendum was actually about. Were Greek people voting to decide whether to stay in the Euro? Was it about saying no to more austerity? Or defending national pride and southern European culture? Talking to Greeks yesterday, you might have thought there were several referendums happening simultaneously – a perfect illustration of just how muddy the waters of the debt crisis are.

For many following the crisis for the last five months, it has become clear that it is not just about Greek debt. Beneath the cultural tensions and ugly stereotypes, an ideological war is taking place. This battle is happening because the current economic system has only two answers to debt crises, recessions and slow economic growth: stimulus and austerity.

In fact, Jennifer Hynton advices the Greeks to exit the Euro and try to do it alone.
Indeed that may be the best plan, but it will be very difficult to realize, also because there are other parties in Greece.

There is considerably more in the article, including a 6-point plan.

------------

The last article I will treat today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This has the following summary:
Environmental and social justice groups warn that resolution promotes corporate interests above public health, safety, environment, and democracy
The article starts as follows:

Members of European Parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday passed a resolution on the pending trade deal between Europe and the United States, backing a controversial provision that critics warn places corporate profits above the health and safety of the people and puts the continent's fragile democracy at great risk.

Despite clear disagreement within European Parliament (EP) over the inclusion of a modified version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, MEPs voted 436-241 in favor of a draft text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

While MEPs have no direct role in the secret talks between nations, the draft will influence the way the European Commission proceeds with negotiations. Once negotiations are complete, MEPs will vote as to whether to accept or reject the final agreement.

Wednesday's vote came after contentious manipulations on the part of EP President Martin Schulz—for which he was accused of "shredding the rules of procedure"—to a remove an amendment that would have taken ISDS off the table entirely.

In case you wonder why the MEPs are so much bound on defrauding their populations: (1) they will personally grow a lot richer, and (2) the majority
acts as if they are already bought:
"Almost all the MEPs that voted in Parliament today have received many thousands of emails from their constituents wanting them to vote against TTIP," trade campaigner Guy Taylor wrote Wednesday. The roll call of the vote, Taylor adds, "shows who’s paying the piper in Strasbourg that MEPs can ignore such a strongly articulated public mandate and instead vote in favour of corporate interests."

Citing the more than 2.3 million people who are calling for an end to the TTIP negotiations, John Hilary, executive director of the international social justice group War on Want, also remarked, "Yet MEPs have chosen to ignore the wishes of their own constituents, siding instead with the business lobby against the people of Europe."

And Nick Dearden with the UK-based Global Justice Now added, "The only reason that MEPs are still trying so desperately to push this through is because of the enormously powerful corporate lobby machine in Brussels. TTIP is fundamentally an issue of people and democracy versus encroaching corporate power."

Yes, indeed. There is considerably more in the article.

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And that was the last of today's articles.

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