This starts as follows:
Edward Snowden on
Thursday hailed as “extraordinary” and a “game-changer” a vote in the European
parliament calling on member states to prevent his extradition to the
The parliament voted
285-281 to pass a largely symbolic measure, a resolution that called on
European Union member states to “drop any
criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and
consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in
recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human
Well... it may have
been "a largely symbolic
measure", and indeed it
probably was, but I agree with Edward Snowden that this is quite
extra-ordinary (for European parliamentarians, to be sure) and it may
be a game-changer (although
I think Snowden is more safe in Russia than in some
West-European country, because of the CIA, mostly).
There is also this:
I agree on the European
parliament (that is, Europe is definitely not a democracy).
Also, I mostly agree with Snowden, although there is also this:
The European parliament
is a directly elected legislature with members from all 28 EU member
states. Its legislative authority is limited. The resolution amounted
to a request that member states reject attempts by the US to arrest and
“This is not a blow against
the US government, but an open hand extended by friends,” Snowden
tweeted. “It is a chance to move forward.”
The second paragraph is
mostly correct, but fails to mention that - therefore -
The US government did
not, however, seem to see it that way.
“Our position has not
changed,” Ned Price, spokesperson for the National Security Council,
said in a statement emailed to the Guardian. “Mr Snowden is accused of
leaking classified information and faces felony charges here in the
United States. As such, he should be returned to the US as soon as
possible, where he will be accorded full due process.”
While the US has promised
Snowden due process, it has charged him under the Espionage Act of
1917, which forbids the disclosure of state secrets and which would not
allow Snowden to argue in his defense that his disclosures had a public
Mr Pryce, spokesperson for the National Security Council, simply lied.
(Then again, the US government often lies and/or misleads
But this is a move for Snowden, though not a large one.
Gates: ‘We Need an Energy Miracle’
next item is by James Bennet on The Atlantic:
This starts as follows:
In his offices
overlooking Lake Washington, just east of Seattle, Bill Gates grabbed a
legal pad recently and began covering it in his left-handed scrawl. He
scribbled arrows by each margin of the pad, both pointing inward. The
arrow near the left margin, he said, represented how governments
worldwide could stimulate ingenuity to combat climate change by
dramatically increasing spending on research and development. “The push
is the R&D,” he said, before indicating the arrow on the right.
“The pull is the carbon tax.” Between the arrows he sketched boxes to
represent areas, such as deployment of new technology, where, he
argued, private investors should foot the bill. He has pledged to
commit $2 billion himself.
I say. That is about 1/40th
of his wealth: I hope he won't become poor. More seriously, this is a
fairly long interview, and Gates should be commended for
believing in global warming, for caring about it, and for being
interested to invest
considerable amounts of money in the search for alternative energy.
There is also this, for
another commendable thing in Gates is that he is realistic about what
the private sector can do:
Yes, the government will
be some-what inept—but the private sector is in general inept. How many
companies do venture capitalists invest in that go poorly? By far most
of them. And it’s just that every once in a while a Google or a
Microsoft comes out, and some medium-scale successes too, and so the
overall return is there, and so people keep giving them money.
Even while Linux is
free and a lot better and safer than Windows... but this is
an aside. There is also this (and this is the last piece I will quote):
The only reason I’m
optimistic about this problem is because of innovation. And innovation
is a very uncertain process. For all I know, even if we don’t up the
R&D, 10 years from now some guy will invent something and it’ll
take care of this thing. I don’t think that’s very likely, but nobody
has a predictor function of innovation—which is weird, because the
whole modern economy and our lifestyles are an accumulation of
innovations. So I want to tilt the odds in our favor by driving
innovation at an unnaturally high pace, or more than its current
business-as-usual course. I see that as the only thing.
There is a whole lot
more under the last dotted link. It is fairly chatty, I must say, and
not everything is credible, but the world's richest man believes in
global warming, is concerned about it, and wants to do something about
it, also financially.
3. Shaker Aamer released from Guantánamo Bay
next article is by Richard Norton-Taylor, Ed Pilkington and Ian Cobain
on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Shaker Aamer has been released after 14 years
of incarceration at Guantánamo Bay, where he was beaten by his American
military jailers but never tried for any offence, the UK’s foreign
secretary, Philip Hammond, has confirmed.
“The Americans announced
some weeks ago that they were going to release Shaker Aamer from
Guantánamo and I can confirm that he is on his way back to the UK now
and he will arrive in Britain later today,” he said.
I say. A mere 14
years in prison, without any real accusation or any trial, and now
free (it seems)! In fact, it seems he was freed because he is
British, and even David Cameron asked Barack Obama to release him (back
in January of 2015).
There is also this (and I recommend the second paragraph):
While it is unclear where
Aamer will be taken on arrival, he has told his lawyers that he wants
first to be given a thorough medical examination, and then wishes to
see his wife. He has said that he wants to discuss his children with
his wife before meeting them.
He may be questioned by
anti-terrorism police or MI5 officers, but given that ministers –
including the prime minister, David Cameron – had campaigned for his
release, he is unlikely to need to spend his first night back on
British soil in a police cell.
I say, again! Real
British leniency: he may not spend his first
night in a British police cell! Amazing how liberal the British
There is also this:
Cori Crider, Aamer’s US
lawyer and strategic director at Reprieve, said: “We are, of course, delighted
that Shaker is on his way back to his home and his family here in the
UK. It is long, long past time. Shaker now needs to see a doctor, and
then get to spend time alone with his family as soon as possible.”
Judging by the
descriptions given by Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve,
which has been acting for Aamer over the years, and visited him more
than 30 times, he will need prolonged treatment. He has been on hunger
strike and held in solitary confinement.
Yes, I suppose that is a fair estimate.
Groups Ask Top US Spy: Just How Many Americans Swept Up in
next article is
by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
In an effort to discern
how many Americans are being swept up in NSA surveillance under a law
that authorizes the agency to target foreigners overseas, a coalition
of more than 30 privacy and civil liberties groups on Thursday demanded
that U.S. spy chief James Clapper determine and publicly disclose such
In a letter
(pdf) addressed to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Clapper,
groups including the ACLU, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the
Sunlight Foundation request "certain basic information about how
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) affects
Americans and other U.S. residents."
The law known as Section
702—which will expire in 2017 unless it is reauthorized—allows the NSA
to collect the phone calls and e-mails of anyone reasonably believed to
be a foreigner overseas, as long as acquiring "foreign intelligence" is
a significant purpose of the surveillance.
I note that this is a very
reasonable request, although I must say I think it will (again) not
be answered, or indeed if it is answered, there will not be any way
to check whether the answer is true (which in the case of Mr. James
who lied to Congress - is a serious consideration).
There is this about the NSA
and the FBI:
(...) the NSA "refuses to
provide even an estimate of how many Americans' communications are
picked up and handed over to the FBI," said Elizabeth Goitein,
co-director of the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security
Program. "And the FBI won’t reveal how many times it searches this
data, without a warrant or any judicial oversight, for information
about American citizens."
Note that this is
precisely how the NSA and the FBI want it: They can research anyone
for anything, and will know absolutely everything the
NSA could find about those they research, but no one except them is
supposed to know it, and no one but the person researched may ever know
it - for the person may disappear, or be served legal papers that
forbid him or her to discuss anything with anyone except for one
lawyer, who also may not say anything.
These are the powers
the KGB had. But the Senate wants them to have these powers, it
seems, in considerable majority.
Finally, there is
"It does not serve
Americans' privacy to keep them in the dark about how often the NSA
scoops up their phone calls and e-mails," said Goitein. "The law
requires the NSA to minimize collection of Americans information, and
the NSA's mission statement includes protection of privacy and civil
liberties. How can the NSA claim to be protecting Americans' privacy if
it has no idea how much data about Americans it's collecting?"
I suppose Mr. Clapper's
"reply" will be along the lines that (1) he cannot say how much the NSA
gathered, because he didn't read them, while (2) he also cannot say how
many he and others did read, because that is secret information.
But I am willing to be
surprised (though I very probably will not be).