"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
urges Europe: don't let NSA surveillance concerns
thwart trade talks
2. A Full-Frontal Assault on Democracy in Europe and the
3. Populist De Blasio Is New
York’s First Democratic Mayor
4. Former UN Head Kofi Annan and
Former President of
Call for Decriminalization of Drugs
5. 6 Months After Obama Promised
to Divulge More on
What We Still Don’t Know
6. Five disabled people win
independent living fund appeal
7. 75 Years Later: How the
World Shrugged Off
on patients' lists
There are 7 articles
linked today with a personal note at the end.
And I should add that
the articles are - as usual, except perhaps for the first and the last
- not ordered, while also I have uploaded earlier today a version of
yesterday's Nederlog with fewer typing errors.
Indeed, maybe I
should say again that the Nederlogs are usually uploaded after I have
written them, without
in a first version (most but not all on the site is first version, and not
because I like that), that may be corrected the
Also, I would say
that usually, but not always, the next day's version is the definitive
thereby saying this is free of faults.
Finally, item 7 today is about the Kristallnacht
75 years ago, which is in several ways relevant to the present crisis,
were it only because it shows that then as now that most people
believed that ordinary
people, in these modern enlightened times, would not do
such things; and then as now, when something awful happens, most
witnesses and contemporaries pretend it hadn't happened, or wasn't
important, or also that the victims "asked for it".
The lessons I have
learned in my own life, and also from the
lives of my father and grandfather, show that THE problem
that mankind has is the level of the intelligence, morality and
general knowledge of ordinary men,
for they elect the leaders and they fight their wars
and they do, and think, and feel as ordinary men are told to do, think and feel.
1. Kerry urges Europe: don't let NSA
surveillance concerns thwart trade talks
To begin with, an article
by Paul Lewis in the Guardian:
This starts as follows,
incidentally under a photo in which Kerry stands in an oratorical
hero's pose, with spread hands, looking determined, and showing he
spent a lot of time and training to achieve that look:
John Kerry, the US
secretary of state, sought to salvage forthcoming trade negotiations
with the European Union
amid growing signs that the Obama administration will act to stem some
of the criticism of the National Security Agency's surveillance
Speaking in Warsaw on
Tuesday after talks with Poland's foreign minister, which included
discussions about the NSA, Kerry said he
understood why there were concerns in Europe, but insisted that a
review of its programs would establish "the right balance".
The second round of
negotiations over the ambitious Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) begin in Brussels next
Monday, despite calls in Europe to suspend talks after a series of
disclosures about US surveillance of European leaders.
Well, let me say that I am
quite confident that the Obama administration will do its utmost to
salvage as much as possible of the NSA. But we will see.
Next, as to the other thing
Kerry is trying to achieve, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership, that seems to be designed to give all power to the big
corporations, and to make states servants of them, while ordinary
people have no say whatsoever, see the next item.
2. A Full-Frontal Assault on Democracy in
Europe and the
Next, an article by George Monbiot, that I found on
AlterNet, about the Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership that John Kerry is furthering:
To start, here is what the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is:
Monbiot gives quite a few
quite interesting examples
The purpose of the Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory
differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a
couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the
remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living
daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It
would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will
of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of
our sovereignty say nothing.
The mechanism through
which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It's already being
used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people
and the living planet.
government, after massive debates in and out of parliament, decided
that cigarettes should be sold in plain packets, marked only with
shocking health warnings. The decision was validated by the Australian
supreme court. But, using a trade agreement Australia struck with Hong Kong,
the tobacco company Philip Morris has asked an offshore tribunal to
award it a vast sum in compensation for the loss of what it calls its
These are the goodies that
John Kerry is furthering. That is, more precisely, what he is
furthering is the following set-up:
During its financial
crisis, and in response to public anger over rocketing charges,
Argentina imposed a freeze on people's energy and water bills (does
this sound familiar?). It was sued by the international utility
companies whose vast bills had prompted the government to act. For this
and other such crimes, it has been forced to pay out over a billion
dollars in compensation. In El Salvador, local communities managed at
great cost ( three
campaigners were murdered) to persuade the government to refuse
permission for a vast gold mine which threatened to contaminate their
water supplies. A victory for democracy? Not for long, perhaps. The
Canadian company which sought to dig the mine is now suing El Salvador
for $315m – for the loss of its anticipated future profits.
In Canada, the courts
revoked two patents owned by the American drugs firm Eli Lilly, on
the grounds that the company had not produced enough evidence that
they had the beneficial effects it claimed. Eli Lilly is now suing the Canadian government for $500m, and
demanding that Canada's patent laws are changed.
The hearings are
held in secret. The judges are corporate lawyers, many of whom work for
companies of the kind whose cases they hear. Citizens and communities
affected by their decisions have no legal standing. There is no
right of appeal on the merits of the case. Yet they can
overthrow the sovereignty of parliaments and the rulings of supreme
Which means the end of
democracy in any shape or form. Here is Monbiot's ending:
You don't believe it?
Here's what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work.
"When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases
to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment
arbitration at all ... Three private individuals are entrusted with the
power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all
actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws
and regulations emanating from parliament."
I think he is quite right, but
I also think it will not help, mostly because this is already a set
deal between people who are all bought by the corporations, where
almost no one else is allowed to create any trouble.
could be used to smash any attempt to save the NHS from corporate
control, to re-regulate the banks, to curb the greed of the energy
companies, to renationalise the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the
ground. These rules shut down democratic alternatives. They outlaw
This is why there has
been no attempt by the UK government to inform us about this monstrous
assault on democracy, let alone consult us. This is why the
Conservatives who huff and puff about sovereignty are silent. Wake up,
people we're being shafted.
De Blasio Is New York’s First Democratic Mayor in Decades
article by Peter Scheer on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
By trumpeting economic
and civil rights issues, New York Public Advocate Bill De Blasio got
himself elected Tuesday night to the highest office in the biggest city
The New York Times reports that De Blasio’s win
“cut across all of New York’s traditional divides. He won support from
voters regardless of race, gender, age, education, religion or income,
according to the exit poll.”
The triumphant candidate,
who easily defeated his Republican rival, will be the first Democrat to
run the city in nearly 20 years.
I merely report this, since
it seems at least a little important what manner of man has "the highest office in the biggest city in
America" - and in case you didn't
know: he is married to a black woman (and himself is white).
UN Head Kofi Annan and Former President of Brazil Cardoso Call for
Decriminalization of Drugs
Next, an article by Tony
Newman on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Brazilian President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso have delivered a devastating critique on the failed
war on drugs and are calling on governments to adopt more humane and
effective ways of controlling and regulating drugs.
I note three things, to start
with: First, both are "former" dignitaries, although indeed important
(former) dignitaries. Second, I agree with them - and see below. Third,
I well recall reading and hearing the same or very similar proposals,
in 1969, in the Amsterdam Paradiso, based on the so-called Wootton Report,
that then had been published in January of 1969. Since then over 44
years have passed.
Next, it is said that the two (former) "world leaders" said i.a. the
following, that probably also is true of each of those 44 years:
I should say that, after 44
years, I am quite skeptical, especially because I think that - for
example - the U.S. and the Dutch governments profit from the illegal
drugs trade that they (also) partially protect, and these profits are huge
and untaxed and undeclared, and also seem one important reason why nothing
was done all these 44 years, other than the spreading of lies
and bullshit by governments and police departments.
“Each year, hundreds of
thousands of people die globally from preventable drug-related disease
and violence. Millions of users are arrested and thrown in jail.
Communities all over the world are blighted by drug-related crime.
Citizens see huge amounts of their taxes spent on harsh policies which
are not working.”
They called for
decriminalization of all drugs, a public health approach to drug
policy, and allowing countries to experiment with models of legal
regulation to undermine organized crime.
Months After Obama Promised to Divulge More
on Drones, Here’s What We Still Don’t Know
Next, an article by Cora Cullier that I found on Common Dreams, but
that originated at Pro Publica:
This starts as follows:
Nearly six months
ago, President Obama promised more transparency and tighter policies
around targeted killings. In a speech
, Obama vowed that the U.S. would only use force against a “continuing
and imminent threat to the American people.” It would fire only when
there was “near-certainty” civilians would not be killed or injured,
and when capture was not feasible.
Also, this is a fairly long
and clear article, of which I will list only the points that we still
do not know, after that master of transparency + 90 million secret
documents, president Obama, has publicly vowed "transparency".
Note that in the original each point is followed by a discussion,
that is here left out. The bolding of the points is in the original:
know the U.S. count of civilian deaths
This is followed by some of
the things that we do know, in which Edward Snowden and Jeremy Scahill
are mentioned - which is to say that what we do know generally did not
come from Obama's administration.
don’t know exactly who can be targeted
don’t know if the U.S. compensates civilian casualties
don’t always know which strikes are American
We don’t know the precise legal rationale
behind the strikes
In any case: Look at The TransparencyTM of Obama's
administration, and stand in deep and thankful awe!
6. Five disabled people win independent living fund appeal
Next, a report on the British state of affairs, that is here because I
am an invalid, and invalids are much abused, especially in Britain, it
seems because it is easy to disallow them any payment for anything (as
is also the case for me: apart from minimal dole I get nothing,
in spite of being ill for 35 years), simply because they are in
a minority and are ill.
But not always, as Patrick Butler tells in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I think it is an
excellent outcome - but with the present English government I am quite
pessimistic about how long this will stand. (Also, there is
considerably more in the article.)
Five disabled people have
won their court of appeal
bid to overturn the government's decision to abolish a £300m fund that
helps severely disabled people to "live a full life" in the community.
The independent living
fund (ILF) helps 18,500 severely disabled people in the UK to hire a
carer or personal assistant to provide round-the-clock care and enable
them to work and live independent lives. The government proposed that
the ILF be scrapped in 2015, and its resources transferred to local
The court ruling found
that the government had breached its equality duty in failing to
properly assess what one of the judges called the "very grave impact"
of the closure on disabled people.
7. 75 Years Later: How the World Shrugged
an article in the online edition of Der Spiegel by Klaus Wiegrefe:
This starts with the following
days surrounding Nov. 9, 1938, the Nazis committed the worst pogrom
Germany had seen since the Middle Ages. To mark the incident's 75th
anniversary, an exhibition in Berlin gathers previously unknown reports
by foreign diplomats, revealing how the shocking events prompted little
more than hollow condemnation.
Next, here is a bit that
reports the British consul-general Smallbones' reactions:
To my mind, the best reaction
to this, and other events of WW II, is by Christopher Browning, who
men", in the previous century, in which he explains:
Smallbones reported from
Frankfurt that Jews had been taken to a large building and forced to
kneel and place their heads on the ground. After some of them had
vomited, Smallbones writes, the "guards removed the vomit by taking the
culprit by the scruff of the neck and wiping it away with his face and
hair." According to Smallbones' account, after a few hours, the victims
were taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where many were
tortured and a few beaten to death. The prisoners were even forced to
urinate into each other's mouths. This was one of the details
Smallbones learned from a golfing partner, a German Jew, after the
latter's release from Buchenwald.
"I flattered myself that
I understood the German character," the consul-general wrote, but added
that he had not expected this "outbreak of sadistic cruelty."
The pogroms in November
1938 lasted several days, although history books often refer to the
event merely as one "Night of the Broken Glass" (Kristallnacht)
because Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels announced on the radio on
Nov. 10 that the excesses had ended. Experts estimate that up to 1,500
people died in the days surrounding Nov. 9. It was the worst pogrom in
Germany since the Middle Ages.
I fear we live in
a world in which war and racism are ubiquitous, in which the powers of
government mobilization and legitimization are powerful and increasing,
in which a sense of personal responsibility is increasingly attenuated
by specialization and bureaucratization, and in which peer-group exerts
tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral norms. In such a world,
I fear, modern governments that wish to commit mass murder will seldom
fail in their efforts for being unable to induce "ordinary men"
to become their "willing executioners." "
Since my father, mother and
grandfather were among the very few people who went into the
resistance in Holland in WW II, in which my father and grandfather were
convicted in 1941 to the concentration camp, by collaborating
Dutch judges, that my grandfather did not survive, I think I do have
rights to pronounce on the character of ordinary men. I am not an
ordinary man, and I agree with Browning, and it seems to me quite
likely similar things will happen again, though perhaps this time not
against the Jews, of which there aren't many left, but against Muslims
(also often semites, incidentally).
In any case, in Holland almost the total Jewish population was
murdered, namely well over 100,000 persons, that is also more
than 1% of the total population then, in part because the grandfather
of Amsterdam's former alderman Rob Oudkerk, Cohen, and the
great-grandfather of Amsterdam's former alderman Lodewijk Asscher, also
called Asscher, collaborated with the Germans - but they also were not
punished, although they survived, and who also did not have to
face any court, indeed just as the collaborating judges
who convicted my father and grandfather, and who collaborated again
with the Dutch government after the war, all because they were ordinary men, who followed the authorities, and did as
they were told.
There is also this:
Not only that: The Dutch
government, well before the second world war started, returned many who
they could lay their hands on to the Gestapo, namely in the interest of
the "civil neighborliness" they felt to be due to Hitler's government.
What is also noteworthy
about the documents is what they do not contain. In this respect, they
point to the failure of the international community and its
far-reaching consequences. The diplomats almost unanimously condemned
the murders and acts of violence and destructions. The British
described the pogrom as "Medieval barbarism," the Brazilians called it
a "disgusting spectacle," and French diplomats wrote that the "scope of
brutality" was only "exceeded by the massacres of the Armenians,"
referring to the Turkish genocide of 1915-1916.
Nevertheless, no country
broke off diplomatic relations with Berlin or imposed sanctions, and
only Washington recalled its ambassador. Most of all, however, the
borders of almost all countries remained largely closed for the roughly
400,000 Jewish Germans.
The article ends as follows:
And this cost around 6
million deaths. I'll repeat some of the words with which I started, as
son and grandson of some of the very few who fought against
this in Holland, but I also alter some:
Even the diplomats from
Hitler's closest ally, Italy, were still writing in November 1938 that
it was "unimaginable" that the Jews in Germany "will all be lined up
against the wall one day or condemned to commit suicide, or that they
will be locked up in giant concentration camps."
"unimaginable" thing -- the systematic murder of European Jews -- would
begin roughly three years later.
that, then as now, most people
believe that ordinary
people, "in these modern enlightened times", would not do
such things - but they do, again and again and again, through
all recorded history.
The lessons I have
learned in my own life, and also from the lives of my father and
grandfather, show that THE problem that mankind has is the
level of the intelligence, morality and general knowledge of ordinary men,
for they elect the leaders and they fight their wars
and they do, and think, and feel as ordinary men are told to do, think and feel
- and they generally do so with pride and with dedication, and believe
themselves to be "private individuals" or "free consumers", while
following orders and while not having any original or independent
thought of their own.
So no, I am not
optimistic about the future, especially not if the crisis keeps lasting
or gets deeper: The great majority everywhere consists of ordinary men who think ordinary thoughts; who like
all other men to be just like them; and who have no great ideas or
ideals, except to fit in and do as they are told to, and to make
money for themselves, by being ordinary and behaving as ordinary men do.
8. Personal: on
said there would be a personal part, but the present text exceeds 50 Kb
already. So I'll shift it forward, though I will say what it is about:
I am not, or hardly, following any ME-list anymore, for quite a while
now, because these are manned by ordinary men, who want everyone to be just like them, and
who also love to insist on that wish, especially because they
are all anonymous, and can't be found, and who generally write
a lot, but do so in awful prose,
that cannot enlighten anyone.
Also, I am not - by far - the only one with an
excellent M.A. in a relevant science to part their company:
There are quite a few persons with quite good minds and/or degrees that
I know of who also stopped, it seems mostly because they were rubbished
a few too many times by hordes of perfectly anonymous perfectly
ordinary members of the list, who complained that their texts were "too
compicated", or whatever, and "therefore"... wanted them to leave the
Well, OK. And gladly in my case: I have a large and popular site, and
little energy, and absolutely no faith in ordinary men - and neither my parents nor
my grandparents nor myself ever did belong to that class. 
 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
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.)
 Also, I am glad not to be, but indeed
did not do anything for it: It is nearly all genetical, and can't be
helped or hindered, at least so far. (But yes: Life would be quite
different, if the average IQ were 130 instead of 100.)
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.