July 31, 2015
Crisis: Spy Bill, Obama vs encryption, APA problems, Bernie Sanders 

"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

Prev- crisis -Next


New Spy Bill Sneaking Through Congress, But Rights
     Groups Have a Plan

Obama Administration War Against Apple and Google
     Just Got Uglier

How the American Psychological Association Lost Its Way
4. Sanders Makes History With 2016 Cycle's Biggest
     Campaign Event Yet

This is a Nederlog of Friday July 31, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about yet another bill meant to let the NSA know everything about anyone; item 2 is about Obama and his war on encryption; item 3 is about the American Psychological Association that - unlike other similar professional organizations - embraced the Pentagon and the torturing of prisoners; and item 4 is on Bernie Sanders, and is here mostly because I like Sanders (and I don't see why anyone who reads his program and is not mega-rich cannot support him, in most things: it is not as if there are many honest, credible, and competent competitors).

Also, while this is another crisis blog, I did - again - not gather it after reading through more than 40 websites looking for crisis news, and that - mostly - for two reasons: First, it really takes a lot of time every day, and second, at least now I do not have the energy for it.

But yes, I continue with NL, and there probably will be more crisis blogs as well.

New Spy Bill Sneaking Through Congress, But Rights Groups Have a Plan

The first article of today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Another day, another attack on privacy rights.

In the coming weeks, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on new legislation, styled as a cybersecurity bill, which civil libertarians say is nothing more than the latest incarnation of legalized government surveillance.

A massive coalition of rights groups have launched a campaign against the bill, which is known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Under the banner Stop Cyber Surveillance, the coalition—which includes the ACLU, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, and others—is urging Congress to oppose "CISA, and any cybersurveillance bill that would violate your basic rights in the name of cybersecurity."

How does CISA threaten privacy rights? As Evan Greer, campaign director at privacy rights group Fight for the Future, explained on Wednesday:

Here’s how it works. Companies would be given new authority to monitor their users—on their own systems as well as those of any other entity—and then, in order to get immunity from virtually all existing surveillance laws, they would be encouraged to share vaguely defined “cyber threat indicators” with the government. This could be anything from email content, to passwords, IP addresses, or personal information associated with an account. The language of the bill is written to encourage companies to share liberally and include as many personal details as possible.

That information could then be used to further exploit a loophole in surveillance laws that gives the government legal authority for their holy grail— "upstream" collection of domestic data directly from the cables and switches that make up the Internet.

The coalition sums it up like this: "CISA is fundamentally flawed because of its aggressive spying powers, broad immunity clauses for companies, and vague definitions of key terms. Combined, they make CISA a surveillance bill in disguise. The bill may even make things worse for internet users."

I say. The NSA wants, wants, wants, wants everything, and this is their latest effort to make sure they get everything.

There is more in the article, which is recommended, but what I've quoted is enough to make matters clear.

Obama Administration War Against Apple and Google Just Got Uglier

The next article is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

The Obama administration’s central strategy against strong encryption seems to be waging war on the companies that are providing and popularizing it: most notably Apple and Google.

The intimidation campaign got a boost Thursday when a blog that frequently promotes the interests of the national security establishment raised the prospect of Apple being found liable for providing material support to a terrorist.

Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of the LawFare blog, suggested that Apple could in fact face that liability if it continued to provide encryption services to a suspected terrorist. He noted that the post was in response to an idea raised by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in a hearing earlier this month.

“In the facts we considered,” wrote Wittes and his co-author, Harvard law student Zoe Bedell, “a court might — believe it or not — consider Apple as having violated the criminal prohibition against material support for terrorism.”

FBI Director James Comey and others have said that end-to-end encryption makes law enforcement harder because service providers don’t have access to the actual communications, and therefore cannot turn them over when served with a warrant.

I say?! I do not know how serious Wittes is, and indeed don't know anything about him, but the argument that Apple might be thought to have
"violated the criminal prohibition against material support for terrorism"
is totally insane. Of course, a lot of politics is far from sane, but in this case they might as well prosecute the post office for - terroristically, of course - wrapping up letters in envelopes, because the NSA has to steam them open to read their contents.

3. How the American Psychological Association Lost Its Way

The next article is by Roy Eidelson and Jean Maria Arrigo on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

The American Psychological Association is in crisis.

Last December, a Senate Intelligence Committee report laid bare the extensive involvement of individual psychologists in the CIA's black-site torture program. Then, in early July, a devastating independent report by a former federal prosecutor determined that more than a decade ago APA leaders — including the director of ethics — began working secretly with military representatives. Together they crafted deceptively permissive ethics policies for psychologists that effectively enabled abusive interrogation of war-on-terror prisoners to continue.

These revelations have shocked and outraged not just psychologists but also the public at large. After all, the APA's ethics code for psychologists governs not only its 80,000 members but also underlies the policies of most state licensing boards.

The fallout will be on full display next month as the APA — the world's largest association of psychology practitioners, researchers and educators — holds its annual convention in Toronto. There, APA authorities will face members' confusion and rage during three APA Council governance meetings, a three-day teach-in organized by Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and open town hall meetings. Can this soul-searching be channeled into fruitful reforms, not just for the organization but also the future of the field? A lot is at stake in the weeks ahead.

Well... yes and no. It so happens that I have a(n) - excellent - M.A. in psychology, which is mostly why I am interested, though I am not American
but Dutch. Anyway, here are my yes and my no:

Yes, the quotation gives a (fairly) fair account of the APA - the psychologists' one: there are quite a few more - and its problems. And no, I am afraid it will not have much impact, mostl1y because it probably will be depicted as - "alas, alas, alas!" - a small mistake of some meanwhile dismissed previous leaders, and a few - possibily - criminal psychologists, that did not really touch the interests of the American people.

At least, that is my guess, were it only because most psychologists have easy lives with large incomes, and very few will be willing to risk their incomes, and will - I guess - stress that only a few psychologists were involved in torturing Muslims, and that they themselves have nothing to do with it, etc. etc.

There is also this in the article:

Along with other health professionals, psychologists got placed in key roles in clandestine interrogation operations. When this made headlines, both the American Medical Assn. and the American Psychiatric Assn. issued declarations against their members' participation.

Substantial areas of military and intelligence work are at odds with psychologists' commitment to do no harm.

But the APA's response was different. It launched the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security and stacked it with military intelligence insiders. In quick order, the task force reached a disingenuous, preordained conclusion that psychologists have an important role to play, asserting that their involvement kept interrogations "safe, legal, ethical and effective." The Bush administration immediately used this made-to-order policy to legitimize and continue its abusive detention and interrogation programs.

APA leaders were particularly eager to curry favor with the Pentagon.
I have three remarks. The first two are a bit critical.

First, while I quite agree that the AMA and the A Psychiatric A did well in refusing that their members participated, this does not mean that they are not "
eager to curry favor with the Pentagon", for the Pentagon has enormous budgets, and money is by far the most interesing topic in all professional organizations.

Second, as I have said before: Personally, I see no reason why psychologists - and I mean ethical psychologists - should not be present when people are interrogated by military folks. The condition - "
ethical" - only means that they should do and say as they are supposed to do: You may not use violence, not use sleep deprivation, not use stress positions, nor consent or agree to any other degrading, painful or humiliating treatment of prisoners, for that is illegal and immoral.

My third remark is far more critical, and those who disagree with it should first read and refute "Is psychology a science?" (by Paul Lutus, who is quite successful):

I do not think (not since 1980 (!!), when I studied psychology, and made excellent marks) that psychology is a real science (apart from statistics and methodology, neither of which is psychology proper), and I think anyone who has a real
commitment to do no harm
should stop earning money with a pseudoscience.

It is as simple as that - and no: it will not be heeded, probably by no one (for the great majority of psychologists I have known are - I am sorry to say - not very intelligent, and would  not know how to earn as much as they do with a pseudoscience in a real scientific field, in which indeed they also were not educated in either), so the only reason the argument is here is that I think it happens to be true. [1]

Anyway...there is considerably more in the article, that is quite good, but it should be remembered it has been written by two professional psychologists.

4. Sanders Makes History With 2016 Cycle's Biggest Campaign Event Yet

The last article today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed an estimated 100,000 supporters at more than 3,500 house parties in all 50 states on Wednesday night, at what is being called the largest campaign event of the 2016 election cycle thus far.

The organizing kick-off, which Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) said was aimed at building a political movement from the ground up, saw the democratic socialist beamed into bars, libraries, and living rooms from Alaska to Florida. There was a "custom cocktail" featuring Vermont maple syrup at a bar in Washington, D.C., while a Texas event served up "brisket and biscuits for Bernie."

The man himself spoke from what the Burlington Free Press described as "a modest, steamy apartment" in the nation's capitolHis remarks were delivered "off a yellow legal pad balanced precariously on a wobbly music stand," added Salon.

"Tonight is a historical night and all of us are making history," Sanders said. "Why are we seeing spontaneous uprisings if you like and meetings in cities and town all over this country? My answer is the American people are saying loudly and clearly, enough is enough."

During his speech, the Free Press reports, Sanders touched on his major campaign themes: addressing income inequality, raising the minimum wage, and reforming campaign finance laws. He spoke of "institutionalized racism," making college affordable, and the scourge of mass incarceration. He said the only way to take on the "billionaire class" is with a strong grassroots movement, a "political revolution" involving supporters who knock on doors and talk to friends and family about the campaign.

This is here simply because I like Bernie Sanders. There is more in the article.

[1] It is also true that there are a few sub-fields of psychology that may be seen as - perhaps, though psychologists did not get a really scientific education - possibly scientific, but these really are small sub-fields with few practicians:

Most psychologists are not real scientists, did not get any education in a real science, and they only pretend to be scientists or indeed to know your mind much better than you do, which is, like most other things they say, plain baloney.

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