|"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- 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
1. Prostitution: Being Raped for a Living
2. The Assassination Complex
3. Tech Companies & Internet Activists Oppose
4. Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit by ACLU and Nation
Magazine Against the NSA
5. No Photos, Please: New Wyoming Laws Stifle Freedom of
Speech and Make Citizen Science Illegal
This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 26, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Chris Hedges on prostitution (a good article); item 2 is about Jeremy Scahill on drones and The Drone Papers; item 3 is about the CISA bill which seems to be pushed through against everybody who is concerned, simply because the government and the NSA want to spy on every American; item 4 is about an insane decision by a US judge who must think the government never says or does anything wrong; and item 5 is about a new "law" that makes it impossible to gather data of almost any kind in Wyoming.
1. Prostitution: Being Raped for a Living
The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
- Prostitution: Being Raped for a Living
This starts as follows:
The reduction of another human being to an object and the glorification of male violence, whether in war or prostitution, are romanticized by popular culture. It is difficult to challenge the lies disseminated about “sex work” and “military virtues.” Those who counter the dominant narrative, even if they speak from long personal experience, are drowned out. Speaking the truth about war or the truth about prostitution is lonely and often futile.
Rachel Moran, who was a prostituted woman in Ireland for seven years, has done in her book “Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution” what I attempted to do in my book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” about the reality of war. And she has endured very similar responses. Women and girls who are being prostituted—like war correspondents and soldiers addicted to the rush of battle, the hypermasculinity and the adrenaline highs that come with war—have often dismissed her, unable to examine the darkness and tragedy of their own lives. Mass culture has largely shut out her and others who speak the truth about prostitution, just as it shuts out those who speak the truth about war. The manufactured illusion of heroes or glamorous call girls plays to a culture that celebrates the commodification of human beings. Those who have escaped the clutches of prostitution or war, often struggling to cope with trauma, guilt and shame, are reticent to resurrect in public the nightmare that will hound them for the rest of their lives.
I have written about prostitution before, indeed on Hedges' instigation (see here), and like to start this with saying that I absolutely never went to a prostitute, indeed - and I am a tall male who meanwhile got to be 65, though I do not look like it at all - because I neither wanted it nor needed it, and because I always agreed with Rachel Moran:
That is: I do agree, but this does not seem to be a widely popular principle among males. There is also this:
She blasts the notion that prostitution is in any way a form of sex. “The nature of sex is mutuality,” she said. “And where you don’t have mutuality, you have sexual abuse.”
“Prostitution is violence in and of itself,” she said. “… [T]o put your hands on another person when you know they don’t want your hands there and to put your penis into the orifices of somebody’s body when you know that they don’t want your penis inside them or near them, that is pathological behavior. And money doesn’t erase that."I agree again, and would like to add that the argument that ordinary people work in order to get paid for doing things they wouldn't do without payments, comple- tely "forgets" that sex is an intimate process that is far more sensitive and personal than getting paid for - say - sticking things in boxes.
And there is this:
Moran rejects the concept of “sex work”—which, she says, has as its primary qualifications “the ability to resist your urge to vomit, to cry, and to pretend that your current reality wasn’t happening.”There is considerably more in the article, which ends as follows:
War is an assault on all systems—social, political, economic, cultural, familial, religious and environmental—that sustain and nurture life. Human beings in wartime become objects to destroy or to be used for gratification, or both. The hypermasculine barbarity of war, which dehumanizes the other, is mirrored in the hypermasculine barbarity of prostitution. America’s glorification of male violence and cultural acceptance of sexual gratification at the expense of another, along with the lust to dominate, humiliate and destroy those who are different from us, have made us callous and cruel. It has rendered us incapable of compassion. It has created a soulless society where the exploitation of the weak and the vulnerable, along with the persecution of the “stranger,” defines our national character.Actually, I don't know whether I agree with "America’s glorification of male violence and cultural acceptance of sexual gratification at the expense of another, along with the lust to dominate, humiliate and destroy those who are different from us, have made us callous and cruel".
My reason is not so much that I disagree with what is being said, as with the suggestion that it may be "America’s glorification of male violence and cultural acceptance of sexual gratification" that cause "the lust to dominate, humiliate and destroy those who are different from us".
I do not think (and have never thought) that all human beings are born equal, and it seems quite likely to me that a considerable part of the more stupid class of males, indeed together with a part of the clever class of males, simply are born callous and cruel, and like to indulge those tendencies where they more or less safely can do so, which also explains a considerable part of the attractions of war: You can do as you please, and perhaps get great riches.
2. The Assassination Complex
The next item is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept:
- The Assassination Complex
This starts as follows:
DRONES ARE A TOOL, not a policy. The policy is assassination. While every president since Gerald Ford has upheld an executive order banning assassinations by U.S. personnel, Congress has avoided legislating the issue or even defining the word “assassination.” This has allowed proponents of the drone wars to rebrand assassinations with more palatable characterizations, such as the term du jour, “targeted killings.”
When the Obama administration has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an “imminent” threat is present and there is “near certainty” that the intended target will be eliminated. Those terms, however, appear to have been bluntly redefined to bear almost no resemblance to their commonly understood meanings.
In fact, this is the first of "The Drone Papers", which I can warmly recommend, but which are bit much to review all the seven articles of in a single Nederlog.
So I start with the present article, and see how much energy I have (in later Nederlogs), and immediately begin with a note on redefinitions (mentioned above).
There are, at present, three dominant ways in which Western governments deal with information of almost any kind:
- they keep it secret and classified (on whatever grounds)
- they lie, deceive, and delude about what they can't keep secret, and
- they redefine any ordinary term in totally ridiculous ways, that also are rarely explicitly stated, and must be inferred.
An example of the last is the extremely sick and degenerate process by which the majority of Scotus redefined (without properly admitting this, also) "the freedom of speech, or of the press" that appears in the First Amendment as ... "the freedom of billionaires to spend any amount of money - in secret, also - to get the elective outcomes they want".
That is just sick and morally deeply degenerate in my view, but it also is the accepted view in the US government:
They can keep almost anything secret; they are allowed to lie, deceive and delude; and they can implicitly redefine any term to meanings it never had in any dictionary if the first two methods fail - and having done that, they can play the innocent and lie about their redefinitions, notably by suggesting or saying that the extra-ordinary meanings are not extra-ordinary at all, or by denying any attempt to get clarity about the specific definitions they presumed.
There is also this:
The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars — between 2011 and 2013. The documents, which also outline the internal views of special operations forces on the shortcomings and flaws of the drone program, were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides. The Intercept granted the source’s request for anonymity because the materials are classified and because the U.S. government has engaged in aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers.
I'd say: Yes, of course. As to the motives of the source:
The source said he decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government. “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source said.
I agree, of course, but there also is a basic argument why "the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government": It is called democracy.
If the people are taxed for their government, they ought to know what it does. If they cannot know what their government really does (with a few exceptions) then the government, whatever it pretends, is no longer a democracy, but is - at least - a form of authoritarian government that excludes its inhabitants from knowing much that is going on, while it continues to force them to pay taxes.
There is also this:
Taken together, the secret documents lead to the conclusion that Washington’s 14-year high-value targeting campaign suffers from an overreliance on signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and — due to a preference for assassination rather than capture — an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects. They also highlight the futility of the war in Afghanistan by showing how the U.S. has poured vast resources into killing local insurgents, in the process exacerbating the very threat the U.S. is seeking to confront.
Yes, indeed. There is also this:
The articles in The Drone Papers were produced by a team of reporters and researchers from The Intercept that has spent months analyzing the documents. The series is intended to serve as a long-overdue public examination of the methods and outcomes of America’s assassination program. This campaign, carried out by two presidents through four presidential terms, has been shrouded in excessive secrecy. The public has a right to see these documents not only to engage in an informed debate about the future of U.S. wars, both overt and covert, but also to understand the circumstances under which the U.S. government arrogates to itself the right to sentence individuals to death without the established checks and balances of arrest, trial, and appeal.
I completely agree. The rest of the article is a summary of the other six articles. You can read them here: The Drone Papers".
3. Tech Companies & Internet Activists Oppose Cybersecurity BillThe next article is by Rob Price on Popular Resistance:
- Tech Companies & Internet Activists Oppose Cybersecurity Bill
This starts as follows:
Dozens of the America’s biggest tech companies are criticising a proposed US cybersecurity bill that they fear does not offer privacy adequate protections to their users.
As The Washington Post reports, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) has bipartisan backing and is due to be voted on next week — but is prompting significant opposition from the tech industry. Apple and Dropbox are the latest to challenge the proposed legislation, and join a chorus of voices including Google, Twitter, Yelp, Reddit, Wikipedia, and HP.
In a statement, Apple said: “We don’t support the current CISA proposal … The trust of our customers means everything to us and we don’t believe security should come at the expense of their privacy.”
So what exactly is CISA? It’s intended to help facilitate the sharing of companies’ data with the US government in order to prevent and tackle crime. If passed, a US citizen wouldn’t be able to sue Google, say, using privacy/antitrust laws for passing on their data to US law enforcement. It also provides immunity from the Freedom of Information Act, making it difficult to someone to find out exactly what information (if any) has been shared with the government.
Actually, I do not think that the CISA is "intended to help facilitate the sharing of companies’ data with the US government in order to prevent and tackle crime": That is just the pretext.
The real purpose of the CISA is to change the laws so that the very few who reach government can control, oversee, and surveil absolutely everybody, who also will never be sure to what precise extent they are being followed and why their private data are being stolen from them: They are poor, secondary mock "citizens" who soon risk being disapppeared (without a trace, without anybody mentioning it for fear they are next), namely for not being sufficiently thankful in applauding whatever their superhuman governers decided they should thankfully applaud.
We aren't quite there yet, but that seems to me to be the kind of future that CISA is preparing. And note that at present almost any American can be shut up by a court order that threatens serious prosecution if the court order is discussed with anyone but a lawyer, who also has to shuut up - which is authoritarian insanity from my point of view.
There is also this:
Privacy advocates have been aggressively campaigning against CISA. When CCIA, an industry body whose members include Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook came out against the bill, it was hailed by activists. “Members of Congress should pay attention: nobody wants this bill. Not the public, not security experts, and not even the industry it’s supposed to protect,” said Evan Greer, campaign director for campaigning group Fight For The Future. “The safety of Internet users personal information is more fragile than ever, if Congress decides to make matters worse, everyone will know it was the result of ignorance and corruption.”
According to Fight For The Future, companies opposing CISA include Twitter, Yelp, Salesforce, Wikipedia, Apple, Reddit, Dropbox, Mozilla, Yahoo, Adobe, Amazon, Dell, Ebay, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, and Oracle.
I agree, except with the claim that "nobody wants this bill": Of course somebody wants this bill: The government does; the NSA does; and the other secret intelligence services do.
What is horrible and frightening is that these three institutions can further their desires with lies, deceptions, threats and frauds, in considerable part because most of the main media have decided not to provide the real news anymore, but
only the news the government likes to hear, and quite independently of whether it is true: It is true if and only if the government says it is true. (See I.F. Stone)
4. Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit by ACLU and Nation Magazine Against the NSA
The next article is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
- Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit by ACLU and Nation Magazine Against the NSA
A federal district judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and others against the National Security Agency on the ludicrous grounds that, because the NSA did not admit to its spying, the plaintiffs’ claim that they were threatened by unwarranted surveillance was based on “subjective fear.”And this is also one of the serious sicknesses that presently rule the USA:
Courts that judge things on the insane and ludicrous ground that - in spite of all the evidence of Snowden - as long as the secret NSA does not admit to spying it is not spying.
With such courts, there soon will be no law that can be used to bring any rich man to justice, and no law than can be used to curtail the government, also not when it indulges in obvious crimes.
This is quoted from The Guardian:
The judge in the case, TS Ellis III, said the suit relied on “the subjective fear of surveillance”, because the NSA did not admit to having collected any of the information it was alleged to have collected by the ACLU. …
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the surveillance program was innately harmful, despite the NSA’s silence on it in court. “The NSA’s mass surveillance violates our clients’ constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, and it poses a grave threat to a free internet and a free society,” said Ashley Gorski, a staff attorney with the ACLU national security project. “The private communications of innocent people don’t belong in government hands.” …
“The court has wrongly insulated the NSA’s spying from meaningful judicial scrutiny,” said ACLU National Security Project staff attorney Patrick Toomey, who argued the case.
As far as T.S. Esler III seems concerned, the principles by which he judges the government are these three, it seems:
- The US government can't possibly lie;
- The US government always speaks the truth;
- What the US government keeps secret, does not exist.
And thus the NSA does no harm of any kind, for everything the US government says about it is true; the NSA never did anything; and that is according to present-day US "law".
As to those whose case was illegally dismissed:
Clearly, they are important and concerned. But not according to T.S. Esler III: What the U.S. government keeps secret, does not exist, and therefore none of these have any standing.
The plaintiffs in the just-dismissed case include Wikipedia, the Nation magazine, Amnesty International and six other organizations. The group alleged that the capture and storage of their communications by the NSA violated their constitutional protections against unwarranted search and seizure.
5. No Photos, Please: New Wyoming Laws Stifle Freedom of Speech and Make Citizen Science IllegalThe last article is by Alisa Opar on Common Dreams:
- No Photos, Please: New Wyoming Laws Stifle Freedom of Speech and Make Citizen Science Illegal
This starts as follows:
By my principles, these "laws" are and ought to be illegal, but indeed they are also what the few rich try to achieve: Complete independence of any law that is not in their interests.
Jonathan Ratner has been tracking water quality on public lands in Wyoming for more than a decade. As Wyoming director of the green group Western Watersheds Project, or WWP, it’s his job. But dipping a sample bottle into a river may now be illegal—thanks to a pair of new laws Governor Matthew Mead signed in March.
It is now criminal in the state to collect data on “open lands”—all private, public, or federal lands outside of towns—if the gatherer plans to pass along the info to the government and does not have express authorization to do so. This means everything from photos of the Grand Tetons to E. coli samples from streams to air-quality measurements near drilling sites is a no-no. Opponents say the legislation is an egregious attack on freedom of speech and citizen science.
Ratner continues to test the water—just not in Wyoming, where his actions could cost him $5,000 in fines and up to a year in prison. “Jonathan now has had to drive to do work elsewhere, in Colorado and Utah,” says Travis Bruner, WWP’s executive director. “Our data collection has suffered as a result and so has public interest.”
And as the above quotation shows, they are quite successful in doing so. Here is some more:
“If you listened to the legislative debates, it was clear: They expressly are trying to quash data collection,” says Michael Wall, staff attorney at NRDC (disclosure).
“It’s insidious. It’s aimed at using the authority of the state to prevent people from protecting themselves. And it’s unconstitutional—it’s pretty squarely prohibited by the First Amendment.”
Well... yes and no: Yes, it is squarely prohibited by the First Amendment - if this is properly read. But no, given the morally degenerate completely unjustified interpretation that the majority of the Supreme Court now gives to the First Amendment: It isn't there to guarantee free speech: it is there to guarantee that the very rich may corrupt all political decisions in the USA by being free to spend any amount of money (in secret, also) on furthering the things that are in their interests. (And the poor, who lack money, should pay for the rich by taxes.)
As I see it, these unconstitutional interpretations of the Bill of Rights will go on as long as the Supreme Court has the present corrupt make-up. It's a very great pity, but that is how it seems to be.