December 29, 2012

Project Censored | Cort Johnson leaves PR

The two main reasons why so very few men dare to be honest in society are that honest persons in authoritarian societies risk their lives, while in non-authoritarian societies they risk their incomes.

Indeed, in society almost all public acting is dishonest and conformist, and almost the only exceptions to this are geniuses, comedians, fools, and idiots.

MM - Comments on Chamfort's Maximes-1.9

1. Project Censored
2. Cort Johnson leaves Phoenix Rising
About ME/CFS


About two things I did not know about: A website monitoring what the media do not monitor, and Cort Johnson exited Phoenix Rising.

1. Project Censored

I found yesterday that there is a website Project Censored which tries to keep track of the things the US media neglect. They have been doing so for nearly twenty years, and it seems a good idea to me.

Of course, there are a number of obvious objections:
  • how do you track or count what is absent?
  • are these folks honest and independent?
  • isn't it a way to propagandize unpopular points of view?
Here are my brief answers:

Tracking the absent. I have noticed myself Dutch papers have gotten a lot worse over the past years: dumbed down, more commercial, less variegated, more main stream, less interesting, less honest.

Indeed, after more than 40 years of daily reading the paper version of the Dutch NRC Handelsblad I gave up on it, after seeing all of the above happen to it, under a new editor and a new board, both despicable, both dishonest, both clearly more interested in making profit than in making a good paper.

Also, while there clearly are problems in tracking, tracing and indeed knowing about what gets not reported, there clearly are hings that certain papers and certain TV programms, and especially those that are widely read or watched, seem to avoid reporting about, or report about in a biased manner.

Project Censored. It seems to be the work of a small independent university that, like Project Censored (<- Wikipedia) has a "a leftist reputation". I quote from Wikipedia:
According to the Project Censored official website, the organization describes itself as a media research group that "tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's major national news media."
Although the group never explicitly takes a political stance, a majority of the stories Project Censored highlights have a leftist political slant, criticizing big business, economic inequality, the Pentagon, damage to the environment, and misdeeds of conservative politicians, among other progressive issues; at least 20 of the "Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007" could be classified in one of these categories.
I am not amazed, and don't particularly care, because I like the idea, since I have noticed myself that the mainstream news seems to me biased and partial, and rather a lot sounds like propaganda.

And I like it that there is a university involved, and I also like it if such a project is based on clear criterions that are related to objective facts and things one can count in a way that makes empirical and rational sense.

Is it propaganda? It's bound to be selective, but again I don't particularly care, for the reason I just gave. Indeed, I would also take a look at what the Vatican considers not reported well enough in the media, not because I agree with the Vatican, but to get some perspective on their perspective.

Anyway... here are some of what they call the "Top Censored Stories of 2013" (sic: I quote, and that is what it says), with their ranking and what they say about it. The dotted link is to their site:
where you find all 25 they list - and I quote by indentation from their site, so that you may learn about some of the things you may have missed seeing in the media:

1. Signs of an Emerging Police State
Since the passage of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the United States has become increasingly monitored and militarized at the expense of civil liberties. The 2012 passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has allowed the military to detain indefinitely without trial any US citizen that the government labels a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism, while President Barack Obama’s signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order has authorized widespread federal and military control of the national economy and resources during “emergency and non-emergency conditions.” Since 2010, the Department of Homeland Security’s If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign has encouraged the public to report all suspicious activity to local authorities, even though actions that the DHS identifies as “suspicious” include the constitutionally protected right to criticize the government or engage in nonviolent protest.
2. Oceans in Peril
We thought the sea was infinite and inexhaustible. It is not. The overall rise in ocean temperature has led to the largest movement of marine species in two to three million years, according to scientists from the Climate Change and European Marine Ecosystems Research project. A February 2012 study of fourteen protected and eighteen unprotected ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrated that this previously healthy sea is now quickly being depleted of resources. An international team of scientists conducted the study over a period of three years and found that in well-enforced marine reserve areas the fish populations were five to ten times greater than the fish populations in unprotected areas. The work of these scientists encourages the establishment and maintenance of marine reserves.
4. FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has embarked on an unusual approach to ensure that the United States is secure from future terrorist attacks. The agency has developed a network of nearly 15,000 spies to infiltrate various communities in an attempt to uncover terrorist plots. However, these moles are actually assisting and encouraging people to commit crimes. Many informants receive cash rewards of up to $100,000 per case.
5. First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions Loaned to Major Banks
An audit of the First Federal Reserve reveals sixteen trillion dollars in secret bailouts to major American and European banks during the height of the global financial crisis, from 2007 to 2010. Morgan Stanley received up to $107.3 billion, Citigroup took $99.5 billion, and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation, and an act of Congress.
6. Small Network of Corporations Run the Global Economy
A University of Zurich study reported that a small group of companies—mainly banks—wields huge power over the global economy. The study is the first to look at all 43,060 transnational corporations and the web of ownership among them. The researchers’ network analysis identified 147 companies that form a “super entity,” controlling 40 percent of the global economy’s total wealth. The close connections mean that the network could be prone to “systemic risk” and vulnerable to collapse.
14. Who Are The Top 1 Percent and How Do They Earn a Living?
The richest 1 percent of the country now owns more than 40 percent of the wealth and takes home nearly a quarter of national income. Evidence based on tax returns indicates that this superelite 1 percent consists of nonfinancial executives, financial professionals, and members of the legal, real estate, and medical professions. Earnings at this level correlate with deregulation and the other legal changes that brought on the financial crisis. While the 99 percent deal with the direct consequences of that crisis, the 1 percent increasingly have left behind deteriorating neighborhoods in favor of wealthy enclaves, further isolating themselves, according to a 2011 Stanford University study.
20. Stealing from Public Education to Feed the Prison-Industrial Complex
A systemic recasting of education priorities gives official structure and permanence to a preexisting underclass comprised largely of criminalized, poor people of color. The rise of corporate-backed charter schools and privatized prisons cannot be understood apart from the record closures of public schools across the country.
22. Wachovia Bank Laundered Money for Latin American Drug Cartels
Between 2004 and 2007, Wachovia Bank handled funds totaling $378.4 billion for Mexican currency-exchange houses acting on behalf of drug cartels. The transactions amount to the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in US history. This case is not exceptional; Wachovia is just one of several US and European banks that drug cartels have used to launder money.
2. Cort Johnson leaves Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising is probably the largest website, at least in terms of registered members and traffic, for people with ME/CFS in the world. It was started - Cort Johnson says - by Cort Johnson in 2004, while it started to get popular when the news about XMRV reached the world, after this had been published in October 2009 in Science.

I was a member of Phoenix Rising for about 3 months in the first half of 2010, and then withdrew myself because it was troll-infested, extremely ill moderated, and was effectively the territory of anonymous sadists,
posturing as ill people but proudly protected by the moderators who acted as if protecting evident sadists was their chosen mission in life. [1]

I tell it as I think it is, and I also admit it was my mistake to enlist as a member: I should have known better - but my excuse was that at the time there were several tens of intelligent and sensible persons who were writing on it, who since then were all removed, one after another, evidently on purpose, evidently to suit the sadistic inclinations of the sick shits and evident dumboes on it who did it, who were all protected by the similarly qualified moderators.

Then again, a considerable part of the blame for the extra-ordinarily ill run Phoenix Rising belongs to the - then - owner Cort Johnson, a strange and devious character with a long past in est (a form of psychobabble and bullshit for the higher educated).

It seems Phoenix Rising changed ownership in August 2010 when it became a non-profit organization, but since I stopped writing for it and withdrew in May 2010, feeling sorely abused myself and having seen several large scale exercises in anonymous public sadism on others - of the ever popular kind "let's destroy everybody who stands out as more intelligent or as different from Us Ordinary People" - that indeed did remove a number of people I liked, I followed it far less closely than before, having concluded that rotters were running it, and that I did not fit there, and also that I wanted my name not to be associated with it.

I kept following it because there still were a few writing on it whom I liked, and because it did have a lot of ME-related information, and because, unlike the trolls who are so very popular there, I really have ME/FM, with repeated medical diagnoses, and since 1.1.1979.

Anyway... the man who started it all and who allowed and furthered that far better people than he got got discriminated and hunted away from Phoenix Rising now apparently got discriminated and hunted away:

Incidentally: The report is by Polly, who is a sensible woman, but this is one of the sites which also is the haunt of the atrocious V99, so this is another site I only briefly dip in to avoid too much spontanenous puking and disgust: I am neither a sadist nor a masochist, and I also dislike reading the prose of idiots and fanatics.

You can find a link to Cort Johnson's new site there, which I do not wish to link to from my site, though I don't mind quoting him:
Eight years after creating Phoenix Rising and two and a half years after turning it into a non-profit I am leaving Phoenix Rising and creating a new website. I don’t think either the Board of Phoenix Rising nor I want to get into the nitty-gritty of what happened.
The site is not a non-profit but I could use your support in several ways.
Good riddance, I suppose, though I very much doubt PR will improve: It has the wrong model, though indeed it may be OK for patients with ME who are not well educated and who want to socialize with other patients and find information about their disease.

Cort Johnson's removal from Phoenix Rising seems good news to me, simply because he stood by and did absolutely nothing while far better persons than he is were grossly, repeatedly and sadistically abused, and I'd like to know why he was at long last kicked out, as seems very likely he was. Since I am not a member of Phoenix Rising since May 2010, I cannot follow the members only discussions, and on the parts of the site I can see, I can find nothing about the removal of Cort Johnson.


[1] My readers may well disagree, and if one hasn't carefully followed the writings on Phoenix Rising and then on MECFS (a site started by others, but very soon taken over by Patricia Carter) one might miss the same pattern I have seen over and over again: Someone distinguishes himself or herself, that is, stands out from the crowd, and then part of the crowd, generally led by a few like "Esther12" and "Bob" starts grossly offending that one person. I wrote out some it about the MECFS site in 2010: ME + me :  Animal Forum - 3: Slaughterhouse 11

Note that describes just 2 months of the goings on on MECFS forums then freshly created, and is mostly not about me. At the time I described the modus operandi, which is a cruel teamsport, rather like bear baiting:


First you find out what will offend someone deeply.
Having found it you offend him or her deeply and rudely, but deny you do.
The other(s) of your team move in to accuse the offended one for feeling offended.
The original offender "apologizes", ambiguously, as if it is the offenders fault.
The other members of the team accuse the offended of not being polite.
And offend in one half of the sentence, and deny they offend in the next.

For those with a hangup on SM it is a fascinating game.


In that last link you find the reasons why I removed myself from Phoenix Rising.

Three more points:

(1) One of the things I find despicable is that almost  everyone involved is anonymous, and almost none of these anonymous folks would have dared to say what they said if there was a fair chance of finding them or naming and shaming them publicly with their real names and addresses, and also they rarely have their own site, so they simply cannot be found, and rely on that.

I find that sick, but indeed it is not limited to forums for patients with ME/CFS, and trolls who claim to be patients. It seems to happen on many forums, that I generally avoid reading forums for that reason.


(2) I have been a member of several forums for people with an interest in programming, and regularly read several more such forums, and my finding there was that while on these forums as well most go by some alias, and while I saw some bickering (in more than 10 years of reading such forums) it all was far less than on the abovementioned forums "for patients with ME/CFS", while the dedicated hunting in packs after one lone member I have seen nowhere else. (It is also true I generally avoid forums, except in the subjects I mentioned, and I also normally avoid reading comments sections.)

(3) Also, on these other forums, for programmers - and I have read at least four these regularly for years, and in two cases for some ten years - people were generally more polite, more kind, more intelligent, more informed, and more helpful, and either there were no moderators, and differences of opinion were almost always quickly settled, or else there were moderators who were polite, sensible and impartial.

By and large, I found the differences with three or four ME/CFS-forums I have also read quite striking.

P.S. Dec 30 2012: Added the above note, corrected a non0working link, and undid some typos.

About ME/CFS
(that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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