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  November
13, 2013
Crisis: Hartmann, PEN, Engelhardt, Spying rejected, Trade Deal
  "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. The Plot to Destroy America -- and
       What We Can Do to Stop It

  2. Scared Silent: NSA Surveillance has 'Chilling Effect' on
       American Writers

  3. Mistaking Omniscience for Omnipotence
  4. US, EU Citizens Reject Unchecked Spying
  5. House Pushing Back on Trade Deal (..)
  6. Personal
About ME/CFS

Introduction

This is again a crisis issue, with a brief personal note at the end, about Henry Miller's books.

1. The Plot to Destroy America -- and What We Can Do to Stop It

To start with an extract of a book by Thom Hartmann, that is called "The crash of 2016", with the subtitle that follows:

In case you don't know who Thom Hartmann is (I didn't), I provided a link to Wikipedia, and here say only that he is an American radio host.

He starts by reminding that there are very few left who heard Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933; gives some information about the Great Depression, and then says:

This was America during the last Great Crash, a crash that within a decade led to a world war killing more than 60 million people.

Eighty years later, we are well into the next Great Crash, which future generations will call the Crash of 2016. And this one could be even worse than the last one.

Well... I don't know. Hartmann may be right, or he may be wrong, but in any case the text I linked, that I have all read, consists mostly of quotes of Obama's and Roosevelt's first inaugural addresses, and these prove absolutely nothing.

2. Scared Silent: NSA Surveillance has 'Chilling Effect' on American Writers

Next, an article by Lauren McCauly on Commom Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Recent disclosures of the NSA's widespread dragnet program coupled with its frequent targeting of journalists are having a 'chilling effect' on American writers, stifling their freedom of expression at great detriment to society, says a new report Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self Censor.

Published Tuesday by the group PEN America—an organization of writers dedicated to advancing literature and promoting free speech for writers around the world—surveyed 520 American writers and found they are "not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result."

Note the PEN is, since a long time also, a serious institution, that also exists in many countries. So this sort of news, although it could be expected, seems rather serious, especially because it shows that writers who do engage in self-censorship do not trust their government anymore (in which I think they are quite right).

More specifically:

The report notes, "writers reported self-censoring on subjects including military affairs, the Middle East North Africa region, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the Occupy movement, the study of certain languages, and criticism of the U.S. government."

Further, many writers said they "assume that their communications are being monitored," and have thus changed their behavior in many ways which, according to the authors, "curtail their freedom of expression and restrict the free flow of information."

Yes. There is more in the article, but the lesson is that America is stifling, curling up, and becoming very average and opinionless, because that's the safest. It's a great shame, and one should thank the Obama government for it: "Yes we scan!".

3. Mistaking Omniscience for Omnipotence

Next, a piece by Tom Engelhardt, that I found on several places. I link the one on Common Dreams:
This begins as follows:
Given how similar they sound and how easy it is to imagine one leading to the other, confusing omniscience (having total knowledge) with omnipotence (having total power) is easy enough.  It’s a reasonable supposition that, before the Snowden revelations hit, America’s spymasters had made just that mistake.  If the drip-drip-drip of Snowden’s mother of all leaks -- which began in May and clearly won’t stop for months to come -- has taught us anything, however, it should be this: omniscience is not omnipotence.
In fact, this is also his ending message, but I don't know, also having read the previous item. That is, more precisely: While clearly "omniscience" is not "omnipotence", and while also clearly the NSA is not, as yet, omnipotent (or so it would seem, from the bits and pieces one can gather), it is far to potent for my taste, and it does seem already to influence the writing of books and articles in the U.S. and indeed also the laying of contacts.

For, as Engelhardt writes himself:
The NSA, we now know, is everywhere, gobbling up emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, credit card sales, communications and transactions of every conceivable sort.  The NSA and British intelligence are feeding off the fiber optic cables that carry Internet and phone activity.  The agency stores records (“metadata”) of every phone call made in the United States.  In various ways, legal and otherwise, its operatives long ago slipped through the conveniently ajar backdoors of media giants like Yahoo, Verizon, and Google -- and also in conjunction with British intelligence they have been secretly collecting “records” from the “clouds” or private networks of Yahoo and Google to the tune of 181 million communications in a single month, or more than two billion a year.
Also, the point is not whether there will be any more Snowdens, nor whether the NSA may get more known by some of those it steals the data from (for that is what it does), nor indeed whether the U.S. will transform itself into a full fascist police-state, but that as is far too much power has been amassed in far too uncontrolled hands.

In any case, the article is readable, though I think it a bit optimistic, as indeed is shown by the preceding item.

4. US, EU Citizens Reject Unchecked Spying

Next, an article by Jacob Chamberlain on Common Dreams, that perhaps may hearten a few:
This starts as follows:
A majority of Europeans and Americans are strongly opposed to their governments' covert surveillance of their own residents and those of allied countries, according to a recent poll that comes as spying revelations brought to light by Edward Snowden continue to shock the world.

According to a survey, conducted by the U.S.-based think-tank the German Marshall Fund of the United States, far more citizens disapprove of the dragnet spying techniques of their governments than those that approve—with the most overwhelming figures coming from Germany.

In response to the question “Do you think the [own country] government is justified in collecting the telephone and internet data of its citizens as part of the effort to protect national security, or do you think this activity goes too far in violating citizens’ privacy and is therefore not justified?” 70 percent of Germans said their government is not justified. Only twenty-five percent disagreed.

Indeed, that is a bit heartening, I think, though I also think "the opinions of  the people" are not often very relevant to their governments. But it is better than I thought, and that is something. Also, to quote from the poll itself:

Opposition was generally very high: there was not a majority in any country that approved of government surveillance, and pluralities or majorities said it was not justified in every country polled.
Good!  And you'll find more data and numbers in the article, and it is nice to know that the general population seems to be from roughly 2 to 1 at the lowest, in the US, to 7 to 2 1/2 at its highest, in Germany, to be against spying, as the NSA does it, which indeed is nothing else than stealing private data without their being any specific reason, other than that the data can be stolen.

5.
House Pushing Back on Trade Deal (..)

Next, a somewhat technical article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
Wow, this is amazing. Word has apparently gotten out even to Congressmen who can normally be lulled to sleep with the invocation of the magic phrase “free trade” that the pending Trans Pacific Partnership is toxic. This proposed deal among 13 Pacific Rim countries (essentially, an “everybody but China” pact), is only peripherally about trade, since trade is already substantially liberalized. Its main aim is to strengthen the rights of intellectual property holders and investors, undermining US sovereignity, allowing drug companies to raise drug prices, interfering with basic operation of the Internet, and gutting labor, banking, and environmental regulations.
And to remind you of what is involved: It is essentially the dethroning of states and of local judicial systems in favor of largely secret courts that can assign millions or billions of punishments to states for not being nice enough to big corporations, even if this is quite according to what their populations want:
Let’s give more detail on how heinous this deal and its ugly sister, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, aka the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, are. They would extend the authority of secret arbitration panels to hear cases against governments and issue awards.
There is a lot more in the article, and again it is this that Obama and Kerry want, indeed as if they are lackeys of the multinational corporations.

 6. Personal

Finally, a very brief personal bit: As I said, I have lost all my Henry Milller books, of which I had between 5 and 10, including all the important ones. I do not know what happened to them, but this afternoon I went cycling into the city - which is a joy I could not do since the last millenium - and bought his "Tropic of Cancer" and "Quiet Days in Clichy", in what seem to be decent recent editions. So when I have reread these, I may write a bit more about Henry Miller.

---------------------------------
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.)

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)



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