23, 2013
Crisis: Human rights, universities, spies, the Right, torture
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

  1. Two Human Rights Groups Target U.S. Drone Policy as

  2. Universities should ditch the talk of investing in the

  3. Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind
       America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State

  4. The Triumph of the Right
   5. Senate Intelligence Committee and Head CIA Lawyer
        Admit Torture Was Unnecessary

About ME/CFS


There are five crisis items today.

1. Two Human Rights Groups Target U.S. Drone Policy as Illegal  

The first item today is by Scott Martelle on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows:

Two notable human rights advocacy groups Tuesday took aim at the United States’ highly controversial—and possibly illegal—use of drones in separate reports that offered chillingly detailed looks at the effects of a foreign policy that has killed hundreds of people, many of whom have nothing to do with militant insurgencies.

The U.S. government has been silent on the policy, other than to defend it in general terms. But the two new reports suggest that the Obama administration needs to review how it deploys and uses drones—with one eye on international law. Amnesty International, citing statistics compiled by Pakistani officials and nongovernmental organizations, estimates the U.S. launched as many as 374 drone strikes in Pakistan from 2004 to the end of last month, killing as many as 900 civilians and seriously injuring at least 600 others.

There is considerably more, and the other group involved is Human Rights Watch.

In any case: They both are clearly quite right - you can't kill foreigners, or indeed your own citizens, in a foreign land without a declaration of war. Also, the use of drones is not merely "possibly illegal": it is evidently illegal to have your own weapons or spies in the air above another country, to either kill its citizens or to spy.

It really is as simple as that. But it will be hard to have this admitted by the U.S. government, and harder to have it stopped, is also true.

2. Universities should ditch the talk of investing in the future

Next, an article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, on the quality of British university education, that continues and answers an earlier article on this topic, that I dealt with, briefly, two days ago:
It starts as follows:
Money talks. After two years of tuition fees at 7,000-9,000 universities are apparently rolling in cash, and their students are demanding value for it. Universities are expected to deliver not just education but jobs. Courses are being tailored to "employability". Research is concentrated in the elite Russell institutions. Now the universities minister, David Willetts, is calling for a "cultural change" to reverse the trend of too much time going on scholarship and not enough on teaching. Is this a new dawn in higher education, or a new darkness?
In fact, the answer is that it is a new darkness, indeed regardless of how much time tenured academics spend on students or research.

Here is a small part of the reasons why:

Today's students may not realise how far this has gone, but their graduate parents might. Contact time has declined. Essay writing has halved. Fifty years ago two-thirds of students received oral (as well as written) feedback, now two-thirds get none. Willetts wonders how this was ever allowed to happen.

The answer is easy. Willetts and his Whitehall predecessors made it happen. Universities have become creatures of government, paid to do what government says. Ever since Thatcher abolished the arms-length university grants committee and eventually "nationalised" higher education in 1988, universities have followed the money.

And they have not only "followed the money": they have simplified, and indeed needed to simplify because (1) the pre-university schooling was simplified, and quite radically, and (2) they wanted to take in more students, not because these were qualified, but because these had to pay a lot more.

Anyway - Simon Jenkins has considerably more, but for me it seems fair to say that the real universities are mostly or wholly dead, though indeed the name and the game are going on, as if never anything happened, the last 40 or a 100 years, except for a few "minor changes", and for a lot more money to be paid for ever less.

O, and something else, that is triggered by the title, and holds of all politicians and all bureaucrats that I have known (far too many):

As soon as any leading politician or bureaucrat talks about time, whether it is the past (that generally is claimed to be "not relevant", if only because that's when they or their cronies committed their crimes) or the future (always the place where the most impossible promises are being made about), they are - very probably - lying and/or deceiving.

3.  Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State

Next, an article by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, who are all employed by U.S. universities, in AlterNet:
This is the first of a new series of articles on AlterNet about what they call the New Economic Dialogue Project.

Here are two of its paragraphs, of which the first is preparatory to the second:

In early June 2013, Glen [n - MM] Greenwald, then of the Guardian, with an assist from journalists at The Washington Post, electrified the world with stories drawn from documents and testimony from Edward Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton working under contract with the National Security Agency, who had fled the country. They broke the news that the U.S. government had been collecting vast amounts of information on not only foreigners, but also American citizens. And the U.S. had been doing this for years with the cooperation of virtually all the leading firms in telecommunications, software, and high tech electronics, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, and Facebook. Sometimes the government even defrays their costs.

For most election analysts, the revelations came like a bolt from the blue, despite a whole series of warning signs. These included Obama’s rapid fire decision to step up the war in Afghanistan right after he took office, the alacrity and severity with which his administration prosecuted national security whistleblowers after promising greater transparency and the administration’s sweeping claims about the government’s right to hold citizens without trial for indefinite periods. Not to mention the Justice Department’s insistence that killing American citizens without any kind of court hearing is lawful, the efforts to prosecute journalists for simply posting links to leaked documents, the overkill that attended official responses to the Occupy movement and protests at the national party conventions, or the White House claims that press freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights do not cover bloggers in an era in which everyone, including the New York Times, uses blogs.

What is the reason for the facts in the second paragraph? Well, the writers did a statistical analysis of the backers of Obama, for the last elections, and found this:
Six industries where the President ran especially strongly attracted our attention: telecoms, software, web manufacturing, electronics, and computers, plus the defense industry. His support in these industries ran far above his average levels of support either for business as a whole or the rest of big business. In fact, it equaled or exceeded the backing these firms afforded Romney.

That is: Obama is and has been doing what his backers wanted him to do. I doubt myself it is quite as simple as this, but this seems fairly good evidence.

In any case, the article has a lot more, and also is the first of a new series.

4. The Triumph of the Right

Next, an article by Robert Reich, from his blog:
This is the first article by Reich - on his blog - since the government shutdown was lifted. He states the reason for his title as follows:

Conservative Republicans have lost their fight over the shutdown and debt ceiling, and they probably won’t get major spending cuts in upcoming negotiations over the budget.

But they’re winning the big one: How the nation understands our biggest domestic problem.

They say the biggest problem is the size of government and the budget deficit.

In fact our biggest problem is the decline of the middle class and increasing ranks of the poor, while almost all the economic gains go to the top. 

I agree, but I must add that part of the reason for this success, that Reich does not discuss, is that the average level of the U.S. electorate, aka "the nation", is - I keep it polite - not high: One can currently convince the majority of almost anything, given enough money to write and publish the advertisement campaign to do so.

And that really is a considerable problem, for which I also do not see any acceptable shortterm solution. (And yes, it is more or less the same elsewhere, in other countries, though there the myths, delusions, lies and destractions may be different. It certainly is the case in Holland.)

Senate Intelligence Committee and Head CIA Lawyer Admit Torture Was Unnecessary

Finally, an article on Washington's Blog
This starts as follows - and the bolding and coloring are in the original: 

A Devastating and Secret Report By The Senate Intelligence Committee Documents In Detail How The C.I.A.’s Brutalization of Terror Suspects During The Bush Years Was Unnecessary, Ineffective, and Deceptively Sold To Congress, The White House, The Justice Department, and The Public.

We’ve extensively documented that:

1. Torture harms our national security

2. Torture is unnecessary to break hardened terrorists

3. Torture is unnecessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation

4. The “enhanced” interrogation techniques were aimed at producing false confessions

5. Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11

6. Many innocent people were tortured

The Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston (who has just been confirmed to act as the Pentagon’s top lawyer) seem to agree with substantial portions of what critics of the torture program have been saying for years.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.


[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay 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 of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that 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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