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Nederlog

September 20, 2015
Crisis: Corbyn-news, Free Speech, "Revolution", Drones, Carlin, FBI

 "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.
Our pessimistic take on Corbyn let our readers down
2. Why free speech is integral to the intellectual life of our
     universities

3. ‘Revolution needed’ for world to meet millennium goals
4. 
Air Force Times Runs Veterans’ Ad Urging Drone Pilots to
     Refuse to Fly

5. George Carlin’s daughter remembers the advent of “7
     dirty words”

6.
FBI Ramps Up Biometrics Programs to Catalogue
     Information on Everyone in America



This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 20, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the coverage of "the English press" of Jeremy Corbyn's rise; item 2 is about an out and out totalitarian proposal by Cameron and Johnson; item 3 is about how you cannot expect "revolutionary changes" from 150 "world leaders"; item 4 is about
an interesting advertisement against droning; item 5 is a brief item about George Carlin by his daughter (which I review because I like Carlin); and item 6 is about a program of the FBI that now extended its finger printing documentation (now anybody's fingerprints - if American) are part of any searches for criminals, regardless of whose fingerprints they are, which is part of a much greater program to know everything about anyone, that I am much against.

1. Our pessimistic take on Corbyn let our readers down

The first article today is by Ed Vulliamy on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
For many of our readers and potential readers, the Labour leadership result was a singular moment of hope, even euphoria. It was the first time many of our young readers felt anything like relevance to, let alone empowerment within, a political system that has alienated them utterly.

The Observer – a broad church, to which I’m doggedly loyal – responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide with an editorial foreseeing inevitable failure at a general election of the mandate on which he won. For what it’s worth, I felt we let down many readers and others by not embracing at least the spirit of the result, propelled as it was by moral principles of equality, peace and justice. These are no longer tap-room dreams but belong to a mass movement in Britain, as elsewhere in Europe.

Yes, that seems true.

This also invites a much larger question, that is not adressed by this article  (and will not be resolved here either, if only because I lack the necessary information):

How many of the English and American journalists have been "bought"? I don't know the answer, and I also don't know how one could know this, but it seems a decent question for the following two reasons - and I will specify what I mean by "bought" after these two reasons:

First, most of the American senators and congressmen seem to have been "bought", and indeed there seem to be at least 100 (!) lobbyists (<- Wikipedia) for every senator in Washington D.C. alone, who are willing to spend a lot of money for - what the lobbyists think are - the right decisions. It also pays very well, according to Wikipedia:
A number of published studies showed lobbying expenditures can yield great financial returns. For example, a study of the 50 firms that spent the most on lobbying relative to their assets compared their financial performance against that of the S&P 500 in the stock market concluded that spending on lobbying was a "spectacular investment" yielding "blistering" returns comparable to a high-flying hedge fund, even despite the financial downturn of the past few years. A 2011 meta-analysis of previous research findings found a positive correlation between corporate political activity and firm performance. Finally, a 2009 study found that lobbying brought a substantial return on investment, as much as 22,000% in some cases.
Second, most - not: all - the American and English press provide the same or very similar news these days, that usually has a rightist Republican or Tory slant, and anyway does not print much of the news that might contradict the dominant messages of the Republicans or Tories.

As to "bought": You don't really need to buy a person if you are able to influence him in key decisions by providing him (or her) with money (in secret) if and when he or she votes or writes in a certain way. This is true of senators, congressmen, parliamentarians and also of journalists everywhere.

I do not know the extent to which this happens, but if it happens, it would certainly explain the similarity of much "news reporting" in various newspapers.

This is supported by these considerations:

Of course the rest of the media were in on the offensive. Our sister paper the Guardian had endorsed a candidate who lost, humiliated; the Tory press barons performed to script. Here was a chance for the Observer to stand out from the crowd. But instead, we conjoined the chorus with our own – admittedly more progressive – version of this obsession with electoral strategy with little regard to what Corbyn says about the principles of justice, peace and equality (or less inequality). It came across as churlish, I’m sure, to many readers on a rare day of something different.
How come "the rest of the media were in on the offensive"? Why was so much that I read in The Guardian propaganda against Corbyn? I am merely asking, but I agree with Vulliamy it is rather odd, if only because it occurred in nearly all of the English newspapers.

And there is this:

During Ed Miliband’s Labour, the Observer robustly questioned the health of capitalism – our columnist Will Hutton calls it “turbo-capitalism”. We urged support for a living wage and the working poor, and the likes of Robert Reich and David Simon have filled our pages with more radical critiques of capitalism than Corbyn’s.

Anyway, how much of what Corbyn argues do most voters disagree with, if they stop to think? Do people approve of bewildering, high tariffs set by the cartel of energy companies, while thousands of elderly people die each winter of cold-related diseases? Do students and parents from middle- and low-income families want tuition fees?

Very clearly, they don't, and Corbyn was elected because he spoke for - at least - hundreds of thousands of Labour supporters. But their voices were mostly simply not heard, because the journalists chose in great majority - I do not know why - not to hear them.

2. Why free speech is integral to the intellectual life of our universities

The next article is by Catherine Bennett on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:
Give or take some slippage at the top, the latest world university league table has UK institutions still ranking high, with 30 out of the top 200. The capital’s colleges were particularly successful. The London School of Economics, for instance, rose from 71st place in 2014, to 35th in the 2015 list. Mayor Boris Johnson crowed: “London is unequivocally the education capital of the world.”

Meanwhile, his younger brother, Jo, the universities minister, was also addressing British students. He found them “disappointing”. Asked to perform the simple task of policing extremism on campus, they promise to be among the worst students in the world. Johnson minor has been irked by the National Union of Students’ opposition to the imposition of the government’s Prevent programme, a duty to keep any eye on everyone that, if not very British, probably has a precedent in North Korea, as well as Conrad’s tragic Under Western Eyes.

I didn't read Conrad's book, but Jo Johnson's program, that desires/obliges 20 year olds the task of "policing extremism on campus" sounds to me very much like a communist program simply because it is out and out totalitarian. It is fit for North Korea, but not for Great Britain.

Well... except for Cameron and the Tories:

The prime minister has further reminded university authorities of their obligations to protect “impressionable young minds”. From Monday, universities must comply, if necessary subject to a court order, with “Prevent duty guidance” on monitoring extremism.
Is David Cameron insane? No, he just wants a Tory police state, where 20 year old students are supposed to smell out and track "extremists" and hand their names to the police. And if they don't oblige, he will use a court order.
For “it is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom”, Mr Cameron promises of his new regulations. “It is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish.” Stifle, verb: “to kill by depriving of oxygen”.
So...what David Cameron is proposing is that all English 20 year olds (who are university-students) must join his program to help him asphyxiate (strangle, murder) anyone with "radical" - non-Tory (?) - views.

I am very glad not to live in Cameron's totalitarian Great Britain.

3. ‘Revolution needed’ for world to meet millennium goals 

The next article is by Heather Stewart on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

World leaders gathering at the UN in New York next weekend must pledge to make a revolutionary effort if they are serious about meeting the 17 ambitious anti-poverty targets for 2030 that they are due to sign, according to Britain’s leading development thinktank.

More than 150 leaders are expected to attend the UN’s sustainable development summit next weekend. The meeting, which will be addressed by Pope Francis, will set the anti-poverty agenda for the next 15 years, by agreeing the successors to the millennium development goals, which guided aid spending and public policy in the developing world from 2000.

I should first say that I know a fair amount about the UN because I knew someone who worked there for quite a while. What I learned was mainly that it
is an out and out bureaucratic organization that mostly runs on its subsidies,
with little regard for the real world, though of course the pretense that they
do care for the real world is always there.

So they did adopt (around 15 years ago) "the millennium development goals".
Here is a short summary:

The London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has chosen one key target in each of the 17 policy areas, and believes that more than half of them will be missed without what it calls a “revolution”: at least a doubling, and in some cases a quadrupling, of the current rate of progress.

This means - since you cannot expect any "revolution" by "150 leaders" - that more than half of the programs will fail.

Here is some more of the ODI:

“The SDGs represent the closest humanity has come to agreeing a common agenda for a truly inclusive future where no one is left behind. This could be within our reach; but not without a sharp, early increase in ambition and action,” the report finds.

On some aims, the ODI finds that current global trends are heading in the wrong direction, so success in meeting them would require a complete reversal. These include protecting the world’s fragile coral reefs, and cutting the size of slum populations in cities. “Put bluntly, the world is so far out of step with these targets that it is running in the wrong direction. They will only be achieved if radical change completely turns things around,” it says.

But "radical change" is simply beyond "world leaders" - and even if they were to vote for it, very unlikely though this is, there will be many different local political reasons why they (or their ministers of finance) can't "just now" vote for the necessary money, "unfortunately".

4. Air Force Times Runs Veterans’ Ad Urging Drone Pilots to Refuse to Fly

The next article is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
On Monday, the Air Force Times, a weekly newspaper with a circulation of over 65,000 subscribers who include active, reserve and retired U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and general military personnel and their families, published the advertisement below, carrying a message from 54 veterans urging U.S. drone pilots to refuse to follow orders to fly surveillance and attack missions, citing international law.
Here is a partial copy of the advertisement. I shrank it a little, to make it fit, and removed the lower part, on which are the names of those who signed it:
          
                                     Clicking the ad will lead to the source
I agree. This is from a report by KnowDrones (that supported the above advertisement):
The ad comes at a time of increasing drone surveillance and attack missions, which are now underway in Syria as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Incidentally: I don't think this advertisement will make much of a difference, but that is in part caused by the fact that Nixon eliminated the draft, and made the American army "professional".

5. George Carlin’s daughter remembers the advent of “7 dirty words”

The next article is by Kelly Carlin on Salon (and I have shortened the title):
This ends as follows:
By the end of that summer in 1972 although the lines may have been drawn, and the sides chosen, there was a wave now, an unstoppable momentum to the movement that my father and thousands of others were riding. Change was happening.  And although I was just a child, who was definitely overwhelmed by some of those events, I am also very proud to have been a witness to the courage that it takes to speaks one’s truth and have your voice heard within a culture that isn’t quite ready to hear it, but must hear it. And so here I stand 40 years later, a new generation, in a new millennium, hoping to be a part of a new wave of truth speakers who are unafraid to once again transcend old structures and battles so that we can move this evolution along.
I picked this because I like George Carlin (<- Wikipedia). There is considerably more in the article.

6. FBI Ramps Up Biometrics Programs to Catalogue Information on Everyone in America

The final article today is by Jennifer Lynch on Raging Bull-Shit:
This starts as follows:

In the last few years, the FBI has been dramatically expanding its biometrics programs, whether by adding face recognition to its vast Next Generation Identification (NGI) database or pushing out mobile biometrics capabilities for  “time-critical situations” through its Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC). But two new developments—both introduced with next to no media attention—will impact far more every-day Americans than anything the FBI has done on biometrics in the past.

One Fully Searchable Database

Being a job seeker isn’t a crime. But the FBI has made a big change in how it deals with fingerprints that might make it seem that way. For the first time, fingerprints and biographical information sent to the FBI for a background check will be stored and searched right along with fingerprints taken for criminal purposes.

The change, which the FBI revealed quietly in a February 2015 Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), means that if you ever have your fingerprints taken for licensing or for a background check, they will most likely end up living indefinitely in the FBI’s NGI database. They’ll be searched thousands of times a day by law enforcement agencies across the country—even if your prints didn’t match any criminal records when they were first submitted to the system.

In fact, much more is going on (mostly in secret):

This seems part of an ever-growing movement toward cataloguing information on everyone in America—and a movement that won’t end with fingerprints. With the launch of the face recognition component of NGI, employers and agencies will be able to submit a photograph along with prints as part of the standard background check.
Yes, and if it is up to the FBI or the NSA everybody's complete dossier - totally  independent from what he or she has or has not done - with everything that they can get, will be somewhere in a secret NSA/FBI/CIA file, including all the mails he or she ever sent, and including all the phone conversations he or she ever had, and all of this, according to spokesmen for the NSA/FBI/CIA, because this might save them from "terrorism" - while in fact the NSA/FBI/CIA are implementing their own state-funded terrorism by knowing everything there is to know about everybody (also outside the US).

As Jennifer Lynch says:
This is not OK. The government should not collect information on Americans for a non-criminal purpose and then use that same information for criminal purposes—in effect submitting the data of Americans with no ties to the criminal justice system to thousands of criminal searches every day. This violates our democratic ideals and our societal belief that we should not treat people as criminals until they are proven guilty.

Well... it is not so much the criminal versus non-criminal purposes that concern me: It is the outspoken totalitarian desire to collect everything on anyone that
disquiets me. And no, I don't trust any government that does so, regardless of its political color.

It will be abused, because "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."(Lord Acton) And this gives more power - knowledge is power - to the governments' secret services than anything else has ever done on earth.

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