7, 2013
Crisis: Johnson & Johnson * 2, American economy, Mandela * 2, Snowden
  "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. Jon Stewart on Johnson & Johnson and the DoJ
  2. How Many Straws? - Johnson and Johnson Settles
       Again, Again, Again...

  3. November's Jobs Report Is Good, But Many Americans
       Are Still Struggling
4. Before Mandela Was a Hero, the Right Called Him a

  5. 12 Mandela Quotes That Won't Be In the Corporate
       Media Obituaries
Snowden: Indicted by US, Key Witness for EU 
About ME/CFS


This is another crisis item. It is from a weekend, in which there tends to be less crisis-related materials in the papers, and this is also the case the present weekend.

Also, I have two sections about Nelson Mandela who died two days ago, that seem to me to be more just to the man than most laudations that were poured out over his dead body by the ordinary press, to whom he is a hero only since the 1990-ies, when he was already in his seventies.

1. Jon Stewart on Johnson & Johnson and the DoJ

To start with, an item by Jon Stewart, who mocks Johnson & Johnson, quite justifiedly so:

Note that it is not merely Johnson & Johnson: First, it seems - and see the 100 pieces I wrote on psychiatry the last three years - as if all of Big Pharma is thoroughly rotten in the same way as Johnson & Johnson is, and secondly, it is not only Big Pharma that is thoroughly corrupt: The treatment they get from the Department of Justice, that allows them to buy off the illegalities they committed so as to make many billions of yearly profits by a - relatively! - small financial sum, that also exonerates them of any wrongdoing, seems to me thoroughly and intentionally corrupt.

The mechanism is: You make 10 to 20 billion dollars by grossly falsifying the data on pills, and then you are freed of any future legal trouble by making a deal with the Department of Justice for 5 to 10% of the profits you made.

This is explained more fully in the next item:

2.  How Many Straws? - Johnson and Johnson Settles Again, Again, Again... 

Next, an article by Roy M. Poses MD on Health Care Renewal, that incidentally also runs the previous Jon Stewart item:

Here is part of the beginning:

Impunity by rich and powerful leaders of big organizations, and failure to enforce laws broken by such people is a very old story in American history, but that pattern was interrupted briefly after the great depression through the 1970s.  Now impunity for the rich and powerful is back, and maybe that is why 43% of the American population think our health care system is corrupt (look here).

Of course, the current settlement involved no admissions of wrongdoing.  Like most legal actions against big health care organizations, it is thus paradoxical.  Fines are paid, but at least on paper, not because of any wrongdoing.  So what were the penalties for?  Who knows?  But allowing a settlement without an admission of wrongdoing allows the next settlement to be made as if it were dealing with an isolated problem. 

And here is part of the ending:

So I get to say again, again again...  many of largest and once proud health care organizations now have recent records of repeated, egregious ethical lapses. Not only have their leaders have nearly all avoided penalties, but they have become extremely rich while their companies have so misbehaved.

These leaders seem to have become like nobility, able to extract money from lesser folk, while remaining entirely unaccountable for bad results of their reigns. We can see from this case that health care organizations' leadership's nobility overlaps with the supposed "royalty" of the leaders of big financial firms, none of whom have gone to jail after the global financial collapse, great recession, and ongoing international financial disaster (look here).

Indeed: it is part of a pattern, that started under Bush and gets continued under Obama: Any large corporation is allowed to plunder hundreds of thousands or millions of individuals, on the pretext that "they are too big to fail".

No, they are not: It is simply a pretext that allows them to do anything they please, and get away with it by paying back a small percentage of the profits they made - that also washes the perpetrators clean.

3. November's Jobs Report Is Good, But Many Americans Are Still Struggling

Next, an article by Erika Eichelberger on Mother Jones, that addresses the improvements on the stock exchange:

This starts as follows, with the good news:

The economy added 203,000 jobs in November, according to new numbers released Friday by the Labor Department. The unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent—the lowest level in five years. But many Americans are still struggling.

Employment increased in the private and public sectors, despite the continuing effects of the drastic budget cuts that went into effect in March. Industries including transportation, manufacturing, retail, and leisure and hospitality saw jobs gains, and average hourly earnings increased by 4 cents to $24.15.

But a few paragraphs further it is noted:

And although about 2.1 million unemployed workers found jobs last month, 2.4 million stopped looking. November is the 43rd month in a row in which more job seekers left the labor force than found employment. A total of only 63 percent of American adults are either working or looking for work. That's the second-lowest monthly labor force participation rate in 35 years. (The lowest-ever labor force participation rate was recorded in October, but the data for that month was skewed because of the government shutdown.)

The number of long-term unemployed—those without a job for 27 weeks or more—edged up slightly to 4.1 million. Unemployment amongst African-Americans and Latinos remains much higher than average—at 12.5 percent, and 8.5 percent, respectively. For those without a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is 10.8 percent. It's 14 percent for people under 25.

And there is more, for most of the new jobs are very low paying jobs. In any case: I do not believe the crisis is over, even while I grant the few persons who trade stocks are, perhaps, a bit better of than they were since 2008 - and even that is easily turned around, and probably will be, in 2014.

4. Before Mandela Was a Hero, the Right Called Him a Terrorist

Next, the first of two pieces on Mandela that are not propaganda, as most that I did read (or better: scanned) on December 5 and 6. The article is by Scott Martelle and it is on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows:

Remember, before he was a hero and an international beacon of dignity, healing and quiet power, Nelson Mandela was a terrorist—at least in the eyes of the United States and other Western governments that have been lauding him in the hours since his death Thursday at age 95.

They should celebrate Mandela’s life and mourn the world’s loss. But they should also own up to their own institutional support of the very apartheid regime Mandela fought against with such effect. In their opposition to the efforts of Mandela and the African National Congress to unshackle themselves from the racist South African regime, the conservatives of the era often came across as sputtering, frothing lunatics (some are still sputtering).

Yes, indeed. In fact, until well into the 1990ies opinions as follow were rather normal, in the papers that now praise Mandela:

The British Independent newspaper wrapped up some of the more egregious comments in 1996 as Mandela was about to address both houses of Parliament, and have tea with the queen.

‘The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation ... Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land’ - Margaret Thatcher, 1987

‘How much longer will the Prime Minister allow herself to be kicked in the face by this black terrorist?’ - Terry Dicks MP, mid-1980s

‘Nelson Mandela should be shot’ - Teddy Taylor MP, mid-1980s

There is a lot more in the article, but I now turn to another article on the same subject:

5. 12 Mandela Quotes That Won't Be In the Corporate Media Obituaries

Next, an article by the Common Dreams staff, that starts under the Mandela quote:

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

This is from the beginning:

Nelson Mandela was a powerful and inspirational leader who eloquently and forcefully spoke truth to power. As tributes are published over the coming days, the corporate media will paint a sanitized portrait of Mandela that leaves out much of who he was. We expect to see 'safe' Mandela quotes such as "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" or "after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."

We wanted to share some Nelson Mandela quotes which we don't expect to read in the corporate media's obituaries (..)

Yes, indeed. And then they proceed to give 12 quotes, of which I will repeat two, and leave the rest to you:

"A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens."

Quite so - but it is also true that these days the press is not free from state interference; much of the press has little economic strength; it does not have sufficient independence; it no longer engages in bold inquiries without fear or favor, except in exceptional cases; in many countries a free press is not protected by the constitution; and also in many cases the press does not anymore protect the rights of citizens. (Instead it amuses them, or tries to.)

Also, I am not criticizing Mandela:I am merely showing how right he was, and how wrong much of the current set-up is, when measured by his lights.

Also, there is this quotation:

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.

Indeed, quite so: Poverty is injustice, except for a few rare cases, and it is brought on by those who get rich of it, or by their willing menials and executors.

6. Snowden: Indicted by US, Key Witness for EU

Finally, a short piece by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower indicted by the United States government, is slated to testify by video to the European Parliament later this month about the mass surveillance of EU citizens.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, German member of the European Parliament, announced Thursday that Snowden will present to the Committee on Legal Affairs possibly as early as December 18, Deutche Welle reports.

Snowden's statement, and his responses to questions provided in advance, will be pre-recorded and shown by video, due to the danger that a live stream could reveal his location, EU Observer reports.

This is good news - except that I hope Snowden was filmed in Russia, and did not travel to Germany.


[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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