July 23, 2013
Crisis: Snowden, Pharmaceuticals, Borgs, No Rights, Sanity
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin

Prev- crisis -Next

1. Edward Snowden is no 'traitor'
Pharmaceutical Industry "'Mobilised' an Army of Patient

The U.S. Government Is Metamorphosing Into the Borg
Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

About ME/CFS


It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway - and no, sleeping did not much improve, so far. (It's mostly pains of various kinds that keep me awake or wake me up: eyes, arms, legs.)

And presently it is 27.5 degrees Celsius where I am, in my house in Amsterdam, which is too hot, for me. But I am still shuffling on...

1. Edward Snowden is no 'traitor'

To start with, a piece from the Guardian (which is a much better paper than the Times is, now, and also a much better paper than any Dutch one I know):

One reason to list this is that it is by Philip Geraldi, who writes as an "American Conservative". He starts as follows [1]:

There are a number of narratives being floated by the usual suspects to attempt to demonstrate that Edward Snowden is a traitor who has betrayed secrets vital to the security of the United States. All the arguments being made are essentially without merit. Snowden has undeniably violated his agreement to protect classified information, which is a crime. But in reality, he has revealed only one actual secret that matters, which is the United States government's serial violation of the fourth amendment to the constitution through its collection of personal information on millions of innocent American citizens without any probable cause or search warrant.

That makes Snowden a whistleblower, as he is exposing illegal activity on the part of the federal government. The damage he has inflicted is not against US national security, but rather on the politicians and senior bureaucrats who ordered, managed, condoned, and concealed the illegal activity.

Quite so! The rest is also good, though I have a minor reservation about the ending, which is as follows:

The White House's colossal data-mining operation has now been exposed by Edward Snowden, and the American people have discovered that they have been scrutinized by Washington far beyond any level that they would have imagined possible. Many foreign nations have also now realized that the scope of US spying exceeds any reasonable standard of behavior (..)

Here in the United States, it remains to be seen whether anyone actually cares enough to do something about the illegal activity while being bombarded with the false claims that the out-of-control surveillance program "has kept us safe". It is interesting to observe in passing that the revelations derived from Snowden's whistleblowing strongly suggest that the hippies and other counter-culture types who, back in the 1960s, protested that the government could not be trusted actually had it right all along.

My reservation is in fact with the very last sentence, to which I have two objections. The first is - I am 63, I have been there - that most of "the hippies and other counter-culture types" could not be taken all that serious, for various reasons. This does not prove Philip Geraldi wrong, but it undermines his argument or claim.

My other reason is more serious: "Everybody" knows, from Plato and Aristotle downwards - at least if he or she was a half way or better serious thinker - that you really cannot trust governments, not of any kind, and especially not with such powers as the U.S. government has.

Note this has nothing to do with one's political tastes or orientation, and everything with power and corruption, to which all men are liable, and especially those who come to govern, in any state, for any reasons.

This also does not mean all governments and governors are equally bad, for clearly they are not - it only means what it says: They cannot and should not be trusted, nor be given all the powers they want, nor be allowed to get away with more secrecy than is strictly necessary.

Finally, another reason to draw your attention to this is that it seems to me that Philip Geraldi did write a good article, and that it would help a lot if some sort of alliance could be made between conservatives and progressives, if only about the need to stop the NSA spying indiscriminately on everyone, which is in absolutely no one's interests, except those of a very few spies and governors, and - perhaps - their journalistic lackeys.

2. Pharmaceutical Industry "'Mobilised' an Army of Patient Groups

This article I found at Health Care, and it is quite interesting, at least for this patient, but should be interesting for many others:

It starts as follows, and is by Roy M. Poses MD:
I had guessed that this sort of thing was going on all the time, but being kept very well hidden.  Now we have some more evidence.

An article in yesterdays Guardian showed how the pharmaceutical industry is using pet patient advocacy groups in a public relations campaign to defeat calls for for measures against suppression and manipulation of clinical research. In summary,
The pharmaceutical industry has 'mobilised' an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.
Indeed, having been half a year on Phoenix Rising, a patients' organization for people with ME/CFS, I am not at all amazed, indeed neither at the utter lowliness and deviousness of the pharmaceutical industry, nor at the levels to with patients and "patients" may stoop.

Then again, I also have decided to keep myself far from any patient organization where the average IQ is less than 130, and am quite willing to maintain all or nearly all the others (which means in practice: all) are quite capable of being abused like this.

3. The U.S. Government Is Metamorphosing Into the Borg

Next, another article by Subhanker Banerjee, whom I have - I think - mentioned twice before. This one I found on Truth Dig, but they credit it to ClimateStoryTellers.

In any case, it is this:

In fact, is has three or four main theses, to which the Borg aka Atlas is the first, though I cannot take this quite serious:

The DARPA has developed something they call Atlas, which is a humanoid robot, that looks quite like the Star Trek Borg, when "fleshed" out a little.

Borg aka Atlas was gushingly hailed by its inventor, Gill Pratt, in quite incredible terms, since the entity has the mobile (!) intelligence of a 1 year old (not speaking of any other intelligence), for which reason it cannot possibly be what Pratt gushed it to be or become: A replacement of human fire fighters.

Then again, I do not think Robo Sapiens is impossible, though I do not think I myself am a computer, and eventually a good part of humanity may be replaced by mechanical counterparts, who do the dirty work, and do so without any complaints.

Banerjee's second thesis is more relevant:
In 1968, when I was one year old, if I had told you that the U.S. government would someday use the Internet to spy on its citizens and people of the world, you would have said: “That’s a toddler talking.” As it turns out, that year, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later renamed DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense approved a plan to develop what would become the ARPANET—the progenitor of what we now call the Internet. The Internet’s gene is through and through military. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Obama administration has figured out a way to spy on all forms of global Internet communications.
Yes, indeed - though the "figuring out" was mostly by secreting, classifying, lying, and breaking the law, rather than by technical or computational excellence. Also, another part of the problem is that there are hardly any decent laws that apply to the internet, and indeed there hardly is much decent and respected international law.

His third thesis seems to be this - and I agree:
We don’t need robots. Instead, we need to “move in the opposite direction” that Schumacher suggested. We need to care for each other and give space to nonhuman biotic communities to thrive on this Earth.
Then again, as Banerjee also notes: It may very well be too late, and all one can do is revolt. (I am doubtful about this, especially in view of the fact that it is very easy to destroy, and very hard to built.)

4. Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

This is an article by Norman Solomons on Common Dreams, and it is quite serious:
It starts as follows:
The part of the First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom … of the press” is now up against the wall, as the Obama administration continues to assault the kind of journalism that can expose government secrets.
Indeed. Solomons notes, quite justifiedly
Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That’s what the White House wants.
And he ends as follows, again quite justifiedly so, in my opinion:
The administration’s efforts to quash press freedom are in sync with its unrelenting persecution of whistleblowers. The purpose is to further choke off the flow of crucial information to the public, making informed “consent of the governed” impossible while imposing massive surveillance and other violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Behind the assault on civil liberties is maintenance of a warfare state with huge corporate military contracts and endless war. The whole agenda is repugnant and completely unacceptable.

Finally, another article from Washington's Blog, with the following title, including the capitals:
This is by JimQ, whom I have mentioned before - a ca. 50 year old U.S. intellectual with children - and he does have quite a few points I agree with, such as this one:
The world is most certainly ruled by a small group of extremely wealthy evil men who desire ever more treasure, supremacy and control, but the vast majority of Americans have stood idly by mesmerized by their iGadgets and believing buying shit they don’t need with money they don’t have is the path to happiness and prosperity, while their wealth, liberty and self-respect were stolen by the financial elite. Our idiot culture, that celebrates reality TV morons, low IQ millionaires playing children’s sports, egomaniacal Hollywood hacks, self-promoting Wall Street financers, and self-serving corrupt ideologue politicians, has been degenerating for decades.
I mostly agree with this, and especially with the thesis that it "has been degenerating for decades", indeed at least four decades, and since 1970.

But then, if that is true, I rather disagree (more than not) with something like this:
The multitude of insane responses to a financial crisis created by a few greedy psychopathic bankers will be looked upon by historians with contempt and scorn. Future generations will wonder “What were they thinking?” Trillions in wealth were vaporized due to the actions of a small secretive league of highly educated, egocentric psychopaths whose warped sense of morality led them to pillage the wealth of the nation through fraudulent financial products, bribing regulatory agencies, stabbing clients and competitors in the back, and peddling lies, propaganda and misinformation to the public through their captured media mouthpieces. Not only haven’t any predator bankers been thrown in jail, but these villains have grown their parasitic entities to enormous proportions while paying themselves obscene billion dollar bonuses.  (...) Government spy agencies regularly use the U.S. Constitution like toilet paper while accumulating electronic dossiers on every citizen in the country. The rule of law does not exist for the ruling class.
My problem with it is also not that the above is false, but that it is over the top:

Too much insanity and psychopathology, too much pillaging, stabbing, peddling and predators, for one thing, in so short a space.

My main reason is that not only has it been like this, for the most part, the last four decades, but it has been like this nearly always nearly everywhere:

Mankind with a humane civilization always was a hazy, vague and uncertain project, without much chance, and with many causes to believe it would or could not last, and while I agree that the dangers it will not last have been growing exponentially with the growths of science and the internet, there is little cause to be extremely angry about the present evil men: They are as bad as their kind has been the last 25 centuries, at least, though I grant they now are more powerful, and are in a position to do more harm to more people.

Then again, I can understand, and indeed I have written similarly, by and large without being heard or read, except by relatively few, without much success of being really understood. [2]

I may pay more attention to it, but the chance I will do is small in the present heat, and therefore I just have a piece of advice: To survive as a sane man in an insane world has been the fate of most true intellectuals, and is - by and large - best done by trying to stay calm, if only for the reasons that the majority will not understand one anyway, and because almost never have policies been decided by majorities.

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] Actually, in my case I maintain I would not have been heard or understood except by a very few, who could not help me, whatever I had written, but that is mostly the nature of my claims and also the country I live in, although indeed I did not understand this well when I originally wrote what I wrote: Very few are - really - interested in the fate of higher education, and perhaps even fewer are
- really - interested in the fate of an ill person who dares  to protest against being abused by drugsdealers and mayors and aldermen who protect the dealers rather than uphold the law. But thus it is. (The only "satisfaction" I have is that I was ill and would have been ill anyway, whatever I had written.)

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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