Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  November
6, 2013
Crisis: Kerry, TTIP, De Blasio, Annan+Cardoso, Obama, disabled, Kristallnacht
  "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.











Sections
Introduction
  1. Kerry urges Europe: don't let NSA surveillance concerns
       thwart trade talks

  2. A Full-Frontal Assault on Democracy in Europe and the
       United States

  3. Populist De Blasio Is New York’s First Democratic Mayor
       in Decades

  4. Former UN Head Kofi Annan and Former President of
       Brazil Cardoso Call for Decriminalization of Drugs

  5. 6 Months After Obama Promised to Divulge More on
       Drones, Here’s What We Still Don’t Know

  6. Five disabled people win independent living fund appeal
  7. 75 Years Later: How the World Shrugged Off
       Kristallnacht

  8. Personal: on patients' lists
About ME/CFS

Introduction

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 any spelling corrector, 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 day(s) after.

Also, I would say that usually, but not always, the next day's version is the definitive one, without thereby saying this is free of faults.

Finally, item 7 today is about the Kristallnacht that happened 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 activities.

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 United States

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:

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.

Monbiot gives quite a few quite interesting examples
The Australian 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 intellectual property.

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.

These are the goodies that John Kerry is furthering. That is, more precisely, what he is furthering is the following set-up:
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 courts.

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."

Which means the end of democracy in any shape or form. Here is Monbiot's ending:

Investor-state rules 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 leftwing politics.

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.

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.

3. Populist De Blasio Is New York’s First Democratic Mayor in Decades

Next, an 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 in America.

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).

4.  Former 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:
Former UN 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:

“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.

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.

5. 6 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:
We don’t know the U.S. count of civilian deaths
We don’t know exactly who can be targeted
We don’t know if the U.S. compensates civilian casualties
We don’t always know which strikes are American
We don’t know the precise legal rationale behind the strikes
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.

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:

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 authorities.

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.

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.)

7.
75 Years Later: How the World Shrugged Off Kristallnacht

Next, an article in the online edition of Der Spiegel by Klaus Wiegrefe:
This starts with the following bold text:
In the 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:

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.

To my mind, the best reaction to this, and other events of WW II, is by Christopher Browning, who wrote "Ordinary men", in the previous century, in which he explains:
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:

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.

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.

The article ends as follows:

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."

Nevertheless, this "unimaginable" thing -- the systematic murder of European Jews -- would begin roughly three years later.

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:

This shows 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 patients' lists

Finally,
I've 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 list.

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. [2]
 

---------------------------------
Note

[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.)

[2] 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. 1979:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



       home - index - summaries - mail