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Nederlog

March 21, 2015
Crisis:  UK Police, British voters, Flush the TPP, Net Neutrality, Wikipedia
  "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. UK Police Deem Snowden Leak Investigation a State
     Secret

2. British voters have shifted to the left since last general
     election, study says

3. Flush the TPP
4.
In Battle Over Net Neutrality, It's Industry-Backed GOP
     vs. Civil Rights Groups

5. Twenty-four Million Wikipedia Users Can’t Be Wrong


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 21, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an anti- democratic, in my opinion also slanderous refusal of the British MEP to reveal anything about the case against The Guardian's journalists; item 2 is about a very weak article that suggests that British voters may have turned to the left (this was wrongly selected by me); item 3 is about a fine article by Amy Goodman about the TTP; item 4 is about the ongoing battle over net neutrality; and item 5 is about the case Wikipedia started about its users and writers being checked by
the NSA as if there is no Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution.

Also, this got uploaded a bit earlier than is usual.

1. UK Police Deem Snowden Leak Investigation a State Secret

The first item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

British police claim a criminal investigation they launched into journalists who have reported on leaked documents from Edward Snowden has to be kept a secret due to a “possibility of increased threat of terrorist activity.”

Following Snowden’s disclosures from the National Security Agency in 2013, London’s Metropolitan Police and a lawyer for the United Kingdom government separately confirmed a criminal probe had been opened into the leaks. One of the Metropolitan Police’s most senior officers publicly acknowledged during a parliamentary hearing that the investigation was focusing on whether reporters at the Guardian had committed criminal offenses for their role in revealing British government mass surveillance operations exposed in Snowden’s documents.

I say. It seems to me that what the MEP really is saying is:

'We incline to thinking that any journalist who publishes anything critical of us or our government must be regarded, for reasons of National Security, as a a terrorist.'

And yes, I know they did not quite say it, but then I also wrote "incline".

Here is what they did say, which is quoted in the article with the prefix "The Met wrote in its response" (to Ryan Gallagher) (that):

to confirm or deny whether we hold any information concerning any current or previous investigations into the alleged actions of Edward Snowden could potentially be misused proving detrimental to national security.

In this current environment, where there is a possibility of increased threat of terrorist activity, providing any details even to confirm or deny that any information exists could assist any group or persons who wish to cause harm to the people of the nation which would undermine the safeguarding of national security.

So what they are saying is this: Because they claim that "there is a possibility of increased threat of terrorist activity" from publications in The Guardian (or The Intercept), they do not answer any question about any information they may have about investigating journalists of The Guardian.

I think that is dishonest slander
of good journalism, and also completely anti-democratic.

2. British voters have shifted to the left since last general election, study says

The next item is an article by Nicholas Watt on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The political centre ground in Britain has shifted to the left since the last general election in 2010, a leading thinktank has concluded from a new assessment of the British Social Attitudes survey. The authors of the joint report by NatCen Social Research and Essex University warn the Conservatives that the findings suggest they would be wise to ensure that they are not depicted by their opponents as hostile to public services.

The report is published as the Labour party intensifies its warning about “extreme” Tory spending cuts with the release of a poster of an X-ray of a broken leg saying: “Next time, they’ll cut to the bone.”

I say. How nice that The Guardian helps to warn the Conservatives about their (quote, unquote) " "extreme" Tory spending cuts " ! Not only that: the article quotes a most enlightening view of "Dr John Bartle, of Essex University" who informs the reader, with the help of The Guardian, that:

“The coincidence of these movements with changes of government in turn suggests that the electorate tended to move in the opposite direction to government policy. It is as if the policy mood was a thermostat: signalling the need to cool things when they get ‘too hot’ under Labour by supporting less government activity – less spending, less welfare and less regulation. The mood falls to the right.

“Equally, when things get ‘too cold’ under the Conservatives, the electorate signal their preference for warmer policy – more spending, more generous welfare and more regulation. The mood increases to the left.”

Who could possibly have thought of that, but the great intellect of "Dr John Bartle, of Essex University"! And note the "suggests" and the "tended"!

(Well... in fact I am being satirical: If this is the level of "analysis" that gets quoted in The Guardian, I am sorry: This must be baloney. And the English electorate may have shifted leftward, but I do not think this report is a good source.)

3. Flush the TPP 

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama and the Republicans in Congress are united. Yes, that’s right. No, not on Obamacare, or on the budget, or on negotiations with Iran, or on equal pay for women. But on so-called free-trade agreements, which increase corporate power and reduce the power of people to govern themselves democratically, Obama and the Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder. This has put the president at loggerheads with his strongest congressional allies, the progressive Democrats, who oppose the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the most far-reaching trade agreements in history. TPP will set rules governing more than 40 percent of the world’s economy. Obama has been negotiating in secret, and the Democrats are not happy.

And this gets clarified as follows - and explains part of my strong distaste for Obama, who sides with the few rich against the many poor:

Fast-track gives the president authority to negotiate a trade deal, and to then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. A growing coalition is organizing to oppose TPP and the president’s request for fast-track. The outcome of this conflict will reverberate globally for generations to come.

The TPP negotiations have been held in secret. Most people know what little they do because WikiLeaks, the document disclosure and whistle-blower website, released several chapters more than a year ago. Members of Congress also have been given limited access to briefings on the negotiations, but under strict secrecy rules that, in at least one instance recently, include the threat of imprisonment if details leak.

There is considerably more in the article, which is good and should be read by anyone who wants a fairly brief but clear exposition of the great dangers of the TTP (which is not the TTIP, that also should be flushed, and is the same very anti- democratic secret deal that will destroy most of the remaining European democracies and the rule of democratic law in Europe).

4. In Battle Over Net Neutrality, It's Industry-Backed GOP vs. Civil Rights Groups 

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (in case you believed the battle over net neutrality had finished):

Less than a month after the Federal Communications Commission passed a set of groundbreaking net neutrality protections, both sides of the fight for the internet's future have thrown down their gauntlets.

Republicans are reintroducing previously abandoned legislation that could kill net neutrality protections before they take effect, in a maneuver which is unlikely to be successful, but will serve as, according to Politico's Tony Romm, a "new springboard for sustained political attacks on the White House."

But there is also this in the article:

However, the anti-net neutrality lobby is up against several formidable opponents, spanning Democrats in Congress, government watchdogs, and civil rights activists, all of whom campaigned for more than a year for Wheeler to accept the most progressive proposals for internet regulations.

Matt Wood, policy director for media reform group Free Press, confirmed the organization's staunch support of net neutrality and criticized Republicans for their tactics on Tuesday, stating in a press release, "The phone and cable lobby and their allies in Congress need to stop spreading lies about the net neutrality rules."

"They're not Obama’s secret plan to take over the Internet," Wood continued. "They're not turning Internet access into a rate-regulated public utility and they’re not online censorship. They simply rely on the vital legal principles in Title II, adopted and updated by Congress on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis."

Yes, indeed. There is more in the article. And while the present Republican attempt to destroy net neutrality is likely to fail, the battle is not done yet.

5. Twenty-four Million Wikipedia Users Can’t Be Wrong

The last item today is an article by Cindy Cohn on Common Dreams (which really had a title that is too long):
This starts as follows:

Last week, the ACLU filed a welcome additional challenge to the NSA’s warrantless Internet backbone surveillance (aka “Upstream” surveillance) on behalf of Wikimedia and a number of other media and human rights organizations. We applaud all of those involved in bringing the case.  It adds another avenue of attack on one of the NSA’s most audacious programs—tapping into the very backbone of the Internet and thereby putting all of our online activities under scrutiny.

Wikimedia, the non-profit that operates Wikipedia, succinctly explained in a blog post why the NSA’s “collect it all” mentality is dangerous: it forces Wikipedia users to “look over their shoulders before searching, pause before contributing to controversial articles, or refrain from sharing verifiable but unpopular information.”

Yes, indeed. (Incidentally: the title is mistaken. Of course twenty-four million people may be mistaken. But this is also not the point, which is the quite valid one that - whether or not the users of Wikipedia are right or wrong in their opinions - the U.S. secret services have no right whatsoever to check their reading, searching or contributing to Wikipedia. But this is an aside.)

There is also this:
Both cases are now supported by the NSA’s public admissions that what it calls Upstream involves copying Internet traffic—including e-mails, chat, web browsing and other communications—as the data traverses the fiber optic backbone of the Internet. As our graphic below shows—adapted slightly from one we used in Jewel and based on admissions contained in previously secret court orders (pdf) and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report (pdf) and other sources—the NSA sits between Internet users, such as Wikipedia visitors and editors, and web servers like Wikipedia’s.  It intercepts their communications in order to copy and then analyze and filter them. (Links to the government admissions and other documents supporting this graphic are available here.) This includes reviewing both the content and the metadata of messages retained past an initial filter.



The graphic is in the article: I copied - a smaller version of - it because it makes it
very clear what the NSA does, and that this is quite unconstitutional.

And this article, by the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is quite good (that is: apart from the title)
.
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