Saturday 30th of September 2023

A dunny by any other name would smell as bad...



What NSA reforms?

By Tuesday, August 13, 9:55 AM

President Obama’s message about the government’s massive electronic surveillance programs came through loud and clear: Get over it.

The president used more soothing words in his pre-vacation news conference Friday, but that was the gist. With perhaps the application of a fig leaf here and a sheen of legalistic mumbo jumbo there, the snooping will continue.

Unless, of course, we demand that it end.

The modest reforms Obama proposed do not begin to address the fundamental question of whether we want the National Security Agency to log all of our phone calls and read at least some of our e-mails, relying on secret judicial orders from a secret court for permission. The president indicated he is willing to discuss how all this is done — but not whether.

“It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well,” Obama said. But if this is truly what he believes, he should have kicked off this confidence-building debate years ago, long before former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden blew the whistle.

Snowden’s disclosures do look increasingly like whistle-blowing, by the way, rather than espionage or treason. If administration officials really welcome the discussion we are now having, shouldn’t they thank Snowden rather than label him an enemy of the state?

As part of its public relations campaign, the administration released a 22-page white paper outlining its legal rationale for collecting and keeping a detailed log of all our domestic phone calls. The document depends on novel definitions of words whose meaning, I always thought, was fairly clear.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act gives the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court the authority to order businesses to hand over “any tangible things” needed for an investigation into international terrorism. “Metadata” about our phone calls is classified as a tangible thing. In the digital age, I suppose that’s an understandable stretch.


pick and choose...

Among President Obama’s more outlandish comments at his Friday press conference was his utterance in response to a question as to whether, given his unilateral postponement of Obamacare’s employer mandate, other presidents could be allowed to pick and choose what parts of laws to enforce.

He declared:

With respect to health care, I didn’t simply choose to delay this on my own. This was in consultation with businesses all across the country, many of whom are supportive of the Affordable Care Act, but — and many of whom, by the way, are already providing health insurance to their employees but were concerned about the operational details of changing their HR operations if they’ve got a lot of employees, which could be costly for them, and them suggesting that there may be easier ways to do this.

First off, this is duplicitous. The president may have consulted with others, but he unilaterally decided to change the law and threatened to veto any bill that would legally concretize his decision.

He compounds his misleading answer by adding: “We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so. But this doesn’t go to the core of implementation.”

As for the “executive authority,” I’d be curious to know where it comes from. Certainly not the law itself. Does he believe the Constitution allows him to only enforce parts of laws he thinks will work? Recall that as a senator Obama bitterly denounced “signing statements,” which entailed a presidential declaration that certain parts of a law were unconstitutional and therefore would not be enforced. Imagine what he would have said had President George W. Bush decided to ignore parts of laws simply because they were bothersome.

on Politische Theologie...


On Dictatorship was followed by another essay in 1922, titled "Politische Theologie" (political theology); in it, Schmitt, who at the time was working as a professor at the University of Bonn, gave further substance to his authoritarian theories, analyzing the concept of "free will" influenced by Christian-Catholic thinkers. The book begins with Schmitt's famous, or notorious, definition: "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception." By "exception," Schmitt means the appropriate moment for stepping outside the rule of law in the public interest. Schmitt proposes this definition to those offered by contemporary theorists of sovereignty, particularly Hans Kelsen, whose work is criticized at several points in the essay.

The book's title derives from Schmitt's assertion (in chapter 3) that "all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts" —in other words, that political theory addresses the state (and sovereignty) in much the same manner as theology does God.

A year later, Schmitt supported the emergence of totalitarian power structures in his paper "Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus" (roughly: "The Intellectual-Historical Situation of Today's Parliamentarianism", translated as The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy by Ellen Kennedy). Schmitt criticized the institutional practices of liberal politics, arguing that they are justified by a faith in rational discussion and openness that is at odds with actual parliamentary party politics, in which outcomes are hammered out in smoke-filled rooms by party leaders. Schmitt also posits an essential division between the liberal doctrine of separation of powers and what he holds to be the nature of democracy itself, the identity of the rulers and the ruled. Although many critics of Schmitt today, such as Stephen Holmes in his The Anatomy of Anti-Liberalism, take exception to his fundamentally authoritarian outlook, the idea of incompatibility between liberalism and democracy is one reason for the continued interest in his political philosophy.[21]


Gus: plus sa change, plus c'est la meme shit.... The smoke and mirrors of politics... This is why the fair maiden was ousted. This is why a lying little rat like devious Abbott is in full cahoots with Opus Dei and why a devious Ruddbott is a church going gnome. This is why Obama choose to spy on you with impunity. This is why we have to choose the least likely of them to put wood sticks up our butt, but this is a sad moment. One could argue we could vote for the cucumbers. 

checking the fact checker...

A new gizmo has come our way from the US and it's my feeling that it's as useless as a toothbrush to stop the rising sea level... But here it is anyway:


Julian Assange goes too far on Barack Obama's prosecutions against whistleblowers

Updated 49 minutes ago

The verdict

Mr Assange is right that the Obama administration has proceeded with more whistleblower prosecutions than all other presidents combined since the Espionage Act was passed in 1917.

However, he went too far when he added that the number was double previous prosecutions.

Seven whistleblowers have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act during Mr Obama's presidency.
Before 2009, charges were laid against six whistleblowers, albeit in only three cases.

If Mr Assange had not gone on to say that Mr Obama had prosecuted twice the number of whistleblowers than all other presidents combined, ABC Fact Check would have rated his claim as correct.

Whether seven prosecutions amounts to a "war on whistleblowers" or journalists is a matter of opinion.


The point of "fact-checker" is to REMOVE THE CONCEPT OF OPINION from the discussion...  IPSO FACTO: Assange is correct in pointing out the Obama administration has doubled the number of PROSECUTIONS... 

and this crap appears ON THE ABC:

Now from a far more serious source:

Mainly true. Sort of true. Pants on fire! An easy optic grab for people who can’t read. The motive being profit.

I’m over pandering to idiots and this new parasitic breed do just that. Their supposed deep analysis of every step, or misstep, taken by those who seek the imprint of your ink-stained finger is ‒ in the scheme of things ‒ too little, too late and too facile.

And it’s kind of grubby.

The whole phenomena has sort of snuck its way into the death-throes of a dying parliament; an electronic ibis feeding on the almost-carrion of those in the headlights. Or, given its U.S. origins — buzzard.

mostly crap...

now would the ABC fact checker be accurate on the economy?...

THERE ARE THREE pervasive myths in Australia regarding debt.

The first is that it is an indicator of sound financial management. It isn’t.

The second is that Australia has a debt problem. It hasn’t.

The third is that Australia weathered the global financial crisis (GFC) because it had no debt at the outset. Not true.

Let’s look at the evidence. First proposition first.

Tony Abbott decries Australia’s “skyrocketing debt”. Murdoch’s tame economists condemn the “spiralling debt”. Economists and observers abroad regard these attacks as just bizarre.

To buy a home, most families find it strategic to borrow. Small businesses, farms and large corporations use overdraughts to operate efficiently. States and nations benefit greatly from borrowings. Generally, the higher the mortgage, the greater the long-term gain. Provided, of course, repayments are manageable and funds are put to productive use.

So, what has Australia got to show for its recent increased borrowings? Well, at the micro level, new roads, railways, energy and water infrastructure, improved school facilities, insulation, social housing, defence housing and other public assets. At the macro level, the strongest economy in the world — and virtually guaranteed to stay that way.

That’s measured by income, growth, jobs, inflation, interest rates, taxes, productivity, savings, terms of trade, credit ratings and other variables.

Second, the proposition that Australia has a debt problem is just laughable abroad.

Australia’s net borrowings – money borrowed minus money lent out – is currently 11.6% of annual income, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

Of the 35 advanced economies on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) database, only five rich nations with a fraction of Australia’s population now have lower net debt to GDP —Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Several are now above 70% — including Belgium, France, Israel, the UK and the USA. Ireland and Portugal are above 100%. Japan is above 130%.

In historic terms, 11.6% net and 20.7% gross are unremarkable. Australia has exceeded 50% gross three times in the last 100 years and went above 100% during World War II.



From Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian


Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation

The detention of my partner, David Miranda, by UK authorities will have the opposite effect of the one intended


At 6:30 am this morning my time - 5:30 am on the East Coast of the US - I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a "security official at Heathrow airport." He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been "detained" at the London airport "under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000."

David had spent the last week in Berlin, where he stayed with Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who has worked with me extensively on the NSA stories. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio. When he arrived in London this morning, he was detained.

At the time the "security official" called me, David had been detained for 3 hours. The security official told me that they had the right to detain him for up to 9 hours in order to question him, at which point they could either arrest and charge him or ask a court to extend the question time. The official - who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654 - said David was not allowed to have a lawyer present, nor would they allow me to talk to him.

I immediately contacted the Guardian, which sent lawyers to the airport, as well various Brazilian officials I know. Within the hour, several senior Brazilian officials were engaged and expressing indignation over what was being done. The Guardian has the full story here.

Despite all that, five more hours went by and neither the Guardian's lawyers nor Brazilian officials, including the Ambassador to the UK in London, were able to obtain any information about David. We spent most of that time contemplating the charges he would likely face once the 9-hour period elapsed.

According to a document published by the UK government about Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, "fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders" (David was not entering the UK but only transiting through to Rio). Moreover, "most examinations, over 97%, last under an hour." An appendix to that document states that only .06% of all people detained are kept for more than 6 hours.

The stated purpose of this law, as the name suggests, is to question people about terrorism. The detention power, claims the UK government, is used "to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

But they obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop "the terrorists", and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

Worse, they kept David detained right up until the last minute: for the full 9 hours, something they very rarely do. Only at the last minute did they finally release him. We spent all day - as every hour passed - worried that he would be arrested and charged under a terrorism statute. This was obviously designed to send a message of intimidation to those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.

read more:


a pissed-off sour kraut...

Germany has obtained information that the United States may have monitored the mobile phone of chancellor Angela Merkel who has called president Barack Obama to demand an immediate clarification.

The White House did not deny that US spies eavesdropped on her mobile in the past but said Mr Obama had assured Ms Merkel that "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor" her communications.

But the strongly worded statement by Ms Merkel's spokesman suggested that Germany was not fully satisfied.

It demanded an "immediate and comprehensive explanation" from Washington.

"She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally," the statement read.

"Between close friends and partners, as Germany and the US have been for decades, there should not be such monitoring of the communications of a government leader.

"This would be a grave breach of trust. Such practices should be immediately stopped."


As the French say: "The US does not have allies.... It has vassals and enemies."