June 14, 2013
Crisis: About Snowden's revelations, education, medical research and M.E.

   "Those who sacrifice liberty for  
     security deserve neither."
     -- Benjamin Franklin

Prev- crisis -Next


1.  About mass surveillance
2.  Some background on the Snowden story
3.  "Snowden and the real issues"
4.  Ai Weiwei on Snowden
5.  "10 dishonest pundits on the NSA scandal"
6.  "Secrecy’s Tangled Web of Deceit"
7.  An Education Declaration
8.  Medical research
9.  M.E. and criterions and testing
About ME/CFS


I believe I have paid back most of the harm my walk of over six weeks ago, but  sleeping remains quite difficult for me.

This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway. Today there is a set of nine points. It's again mostly about "The Snowden Revelations", because I think these are very important. In fact, six touch on various aspects of Snowden or his revelations, and three are about other themes: Education, medical research and M.E.

I should also say that I have M.E. and that my health is not better.

1. About mass surveillance

Here is, to start with, an item from Washington's Blog:
Now you may well say that is not very relevant, but the points are (1) these claims are not very credible at all, while (2) the people claiming them know that very well, but in fact (3) it is not primarily a defense against terrorism from the outside, as the means to control everyone inside: "Your government knows all about you - you better watch out!".

And one of the things Snowden's Revelations clarified is how far this has gone, and in how much secrecy this has been done.

. Some background on the Snowden story

This is mostly for those who care about knowing how it was done, from the Guardian, by Ewen MacAskill, who cooperated earlier with Greenwald:

I am not suggesting it is very important, but it very probably is correct and informed. Here is a continuous bit from the end:

"You can't have 100% security and then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience," the president said. Society had to make choices, he added.

Snowden challenged this, saying the problem was that the Obama administration had denied society the chance to have that discussion. He disputed that there had to be a trade-off between security and privacy, describing the very idea of a trade-off as a fundamental assault on the US constitution.

In what were to be the last words of the interview, he quoted Benjamin Franklin: "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."

This (also) poses the question whether my opening quote is correct. I let it stand because that is how I found it, and it says the same, a bit more pithily.

Also, here is another piece of background information, that you can view instead of read:
This is Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, who explains that there is much more that people do not know, which he illustrates by showing parts of an interview with Loretta Sanchez, who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee, who therefore knows, and who says that what now is known through Snowden is "the tip of the iceberg".

Sanchez is a Democrat and adds several times that "it is all legal", but this does not mean it is true, or good, or not merely "legal" in the Obama-sense of the word: By classified documents no one is supposed to see or comment on (which therefore cannot be legal as I use that word).

3. Snowden and the real issues

I thought I had mentioned Chris(topher) Pyle before, but am not certain. Here is an interview with him on Democracy Now!:
The above explains who he is, and mentions the following article by him:
This starts as follows
Edward Snowden is not a traitor.  Nor is he a hero, at least not yet.  But he probably will be martyred by an establishment that cannot abide critics.

Both House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) have called him a traitor, which only shows how ignorant they are.  Under our Constitution (and the Espionage Act of 1917), it is not enough for a leaker to do something that might arguable “aid or comfort” an enemy; the leaker must also have the intent, by his disclosures, to betray the United States. No proof exists the Mr. Snowden had either motive.

Quite the contrary.  Had he wanted to aid an enemy and hurt the United States, he would not have gone public. He would have secretly disclosed very different information to the agents of a foreign power.

Which raises the question:  Why can’t these politicians respect Mr. Snowden for what he is: an ordinary young man who does not claim to be a hero, but is willing to go to jail, if necessary, to start a debate over what our bloated intelligence community and do-nothing Congress are doing to our liberties?
I agree, apart from "ordinary": Ordinary people do not have such careers as Snowden had, and if  they do, then they don't do what he did. Anyway... well worth reading.

4. Ai Weiwei on Snowden

First, as to who Ai Weiwei is: See the link in his name, which is to Wikipedia. He certainly is a man whose opinions are interesting, and he has one:
This starts as follows:

Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it's abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals' privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.

I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a centre for free thinking and creativity as a result.

I agree, except that I am probably less optimistic about changing it. Then again, I agree with this:

When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That's dangerous for human development.

In the Soviet Union before, in China today, and even in the US, officials always think what they do is necessary, and firmly believe they do what is best for the state and the people. But the lesson that people should learn from history is the need to limit state power.

There also are some frightening details about how he was treated in detention, with a silver lining, for which the reader has to follow the link.

5. 10 dishonest pundits on the NSA scandal

Actually, I first had "dumb" for "dishonest", but the present word is far more correct than the first. In any case, here they are, served on Alternet, by Evan McMurry, with the original title:
Not being American, and not being much interested in politics or pundits, I did not know the existence of about half of them, but it is correct to list president Obama as the tenth.

Secrecy’s Tangled Web of Deceit

I have mentioned Ray McGovern before, and do so again, because he wrote a fine article on Consortiumnews, that is mostly about lying, including lying to Congress:

He quotes Ellsberg:
Wednesday’s hearing proved Daniel Ellsberg right in saying earlier this week: “to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads – they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor.”

And he finishes classically:

On Wednesday, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, openly accused Clapper of criminal perjury and called for him to resign, saying, “It now appears clear that the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath to Congress and the American people.” Amash added that “Perjury is a serious crime … [and] Clapper should resign immediately.”

But Clapper too is an “honorable man” – someone deeply enmeshed in the machinations of America’s “secrecy/surveillance state.” It will be interesting to see if he decides to fall on his sword and demonstrate that at least someone has a sense of honor – or he could take lessons from Alexander on the finer arts of dissembling.

O Tempora; O Mores.

Yes, indeed: "The time is out of joint" (Hamlet, 1.5).

7. An Education Declaration

I change the subject to education, that - in my opinion - has been seriously messed up, and has been messed up ever and ever more since the mid 1960ies. I said "in my opinion", but that opinion is quite well founded (<- my published essays), and also goes all the way back to then, in Holland. (The linked essays are from the late 1980ies.)

Then again, I know less about the US and there now is a petition plus declaration, that drew some important names, including Robert Reich, in which the collapse of the education in the US is starting in the early 1980ies:
I list it for those who care about it - though I have to admit that I think it needs generations of work, were it only because education has been systematically destroyed for nearly 50 years now, to the best of my knowledge. [1]

Medical research

Next, I change the subject to that of medical research, of which something similar is true as for education: Since the 1980ies, medical research has changed a lot, and has become mostly "medical" "research".

This I did not know, but it became clear the last 2 1/2 years when I wrote rather a lot about the DSM-5, but it also holds for
"medical" "research" in general - or so the British Medical Journal has concluded, as detailed by 1 boring old man (in fact a psychiatrist, who is neither boring nor dumb):
I quote from this - in fact I quote a quote:

BMJ Press Release

Experts propose restoring invisible and abandoned trials “to correct the scientific record”

Experts are today calling for all unpublished and misreported trials to be published or formally corrected within the next year to ensure doctors and patients rely on complete and accurate information to make decisions about treatments.

Sponsors and researchers will be given one year to act before independent scientists begin publishing the results themselves using previously confidential trial documents.

The BMJ and PLOS Medicine have already endorsed the proposal and committed to publishing restorative clinical trial submissions – and will discuss it in more detail at a meeting in London on Friday 14 June 2013.

This is just the beginning. (Again, I am a bit skeptical about the outcome, but support the idea.)

9. M.E. and criterions and testing

Finally, the disease which plagued me 35 years now. Again I only give a link, to an item on Phoenix Rising:
And no: if you don't have M.E. (or something like it) this is not for you, and even if you (probably) have it, you may not be interested. I linked it because I found it somewhat interesting, and more or less agree: Empirically testing patients is necessary, if only because (1) many may have something else, and (2) the real cause(s) can only be found by continuing to look for it.

[1] As to education and why I am pessimistic: There are very many things that need changing; there is neither the will, with the most, nor the money; and indeed I fear the people who should do it are missing: Those who had a somewhat decent education are in their mid sixties, or older. After that, everything got simplified, and indeed about halved, in Holland. (And to make myself understood: I'd love it to be  shown wrong here, and in my pessimistic attitudes in general. But if I go by the facts and not by my desires, pessimism about what is possible is the usual conclusion I arrive at.)

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 Komaroff

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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