14, 2013
Crisis: NSA * 3, Pfizer corrupt racketeers, Pentagon, personal
  "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. NSA review to leave spying programs largely
       unchanged, reports say

  2. The NSA's Winter of Discontent
  3. Instead of Reining In Mass Surveillance, Obama Tries to
       Put Lipstick On a Pig

  4. BLOGSCAN - US Supreme Court Turns Down Pfizer
       Appeal of RICO Conviction

  5. The Big Winner Of The Budget Deal
  6. Personal
About ME/CFS


This is another crisis item, and while it is on a Saturday, I still have five items, and a brief personal note. This was written and uploaded a bit earlier than on most days.

1.  NSA review to leave spying programs largely unchanged, reports say

To start with, an article by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian that has the most amazing news - well, not really:

This starts as follows:

A participant in a White House-sponsored review of surveillance activities described as “shameful” an apparent decision to leave most of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk spying intact.

Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, said Friday that the review panel he advised is at risk of missing an opportunity to restore confidence in US surveillance practices.

“The review group was searching for ways to make the most modest pivot necessary to continue business as usual,” Meinrath said.

Headed by the CIA’s former deputy director, Michael Morrell, the review is expected to deliver its report to President Barack Obama on Sunday, the White House confirmed, although it is less clear when and how substantially its report will be available to the public.

I am not amazed, and indeed I would have been amazed if Obama had offered to reign in his - secret, covered by secret courts - spying on everyone, for that takes courage and vision, and would lessen the gigantic possibilities for control and manipulation the NSA and the American government now has.

There is considerably more in the article I an going to leave to you, but here is most of its ending:

The Open Technology Institute’s Meinrath said (..)

“I think what they’re going to find is when the initial dust settles from this attempt to spin the story is that people are going to be quick to realize this is not meaningful reform, this is not a bold new direction, and it is not going to do much to rein in a surveillance regime run amok.”

"Yes, we scan!"

2.  The NSA's Winter of Discontent

Next, an article by Laura Murphy, that originated on the Blog of Rights / ACLU, but that I found on Common Dreams:

This is considerably more optimistic than the previous item, and starts thus:

The summer of Snowden is fast becoming the NSA's winter of discontent.

This week, tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and others published an open letter to President Obama and Congress urging comprehensive reform of "government surveillance efforts." Then more than 500 writers, including five Pulitzer Prize winners, signed a petition to the United Nations calling for a digital bill of rights to protect freedom and privacy online. In that eloquent way of theirs, they wrote: "A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy."

I agree, but the president seems to see it quite otherwise, and one should trust him, the president says (and not try to find out things). In any case, the article is somewhat optimistic, and indeed also gives reasonable evidence.

I leave it mostly to you, but quote the ending:

And with pressure intensifying in the House for a vote, the USA FREEDOM Act should hit the floor sometime in the new year—a vote the Obama administration and the NSA will no doubt lobby hard against.

Here's hoping the NSA's winter of discontent becomes a democratic spring. Innocent Americans should never have to worry their government's awesome surveillance capabilities are intercepting, filtering, collecting, analyzing, and storing the intimate details of their lives. Appallingly, they do.

I hope so too, but my expectation of that outcome is not larger than a probability of 1/2 at most.

3. Instead of Reining In Mass Surveillance, Obama Tries to Put Lipstick On a Pig

Next, an article on the same subject as the last two on Washington's Blog, that was written  later than the previous item, and that is considerably less optimistic:

This says:

We were right to doubt Obama’s sincerity.

Obama is simply going to put lipstick on a pig … and make no real changes.

It then quotes the Guardian I quoted above, and continues to quote the Washington Post:

And the Washington Post writes:

The Obama administration has decided to preserve a controversial arrangement under which a single military official is permitted to direct both the National Security Agency and the military’s cyberwarfare command, U.S. officials said. The decision by President Obama comes amid signs that the White House is not inclined to impose significant new restraints on the NSA’s activities and favors maintaining an agency program that collects data on virtually every phone call that Americans make ….   Some officials, including top U.S. intelligence officials, had argued that the NSA and Cyber Command should be placed under separate leadership to ensure greater accountability and avoid an undue concentration of power.


“The big picture is there’s not going to be that much [additional] constraint” by the White House, said a second U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “They’re really not hurting [NSA] that much.”

Of course, the other main defenders of the status quo – congressional intelligence chairs Feinstein and Rogers – are mounting their own phony “reform” efforts.

Yes. In any case, if the Leahy-Sensenbrenner motion doesn't make it, nothing will stop Obama to carry on as before, although possibly with some props a bit altered.

4. BLOGSCAN - US Supreme Court Turns Down Pfizer Appeal of RICO Conviction

Next, a change of subject, namely to the very corrupt US Big Pharma. The article is brief, by Roy M. Poses MD, and is on Health Care Renewal:
This starts as follows:
Pfizer Inc, which boasts of being the world's largest research based pharmaceutical company, also seems to be one of the world's largest examples of health care corporations that have withstood an amazing number of settlements, fines, and at times convictions for misbehavior without major apologies, significant changes in leadership or corporate culture, or bankruptcy.  (Look here for a list of the cases, and here for all we have written about Pfizer).  

Pfizer, amazingly, has the malodorous distinction of having been convicted by a US jury as a RICO - a racketeering influenced corrupt organization in 2010 (look here).  Pfizer executives, of course, kept their office of counsel busy by appealing the conviction, all the way up to the US Supreme Court.

As discussed on the 1BoringOldMan blog, the court has now turned down the appeal and let the conviction, which had been affirmed by lower federal court, stand.   So Pfizer is now officially a racketeering influenced corrupt organization.
However, none of the individuals who work for Pfizer is prosecuted in any way, I suppose because they too are "too big to fail", or because they may argue, if prosecuted, that they should be treated like bank managers, or because Mr Eric Holder is there to protect the mega-rich and not to attack them.

In any case, they can go on, though they are corrupt racketeers, and they will go on, until they are personally attacked and personally jailed: the profits are enormous. The article concludes thus:
As we have said endlessly, true health care reform will not occur until the leaders of large health care organizations are made accountable for their actions, and are prevented from becoming amazingly rich while their organizations repeatedly commit unethical or illegal acts that harm patients' and the public's health.
And that is what US medicine now is like: A set of "racketeering influenced corrupt organizations", that are only out to maximize their own profits, and that are capable of doing almost anything for that, including falsifying or withholding data, ghostwriting, and bullshitting for decades, as do and did the psychiatrists, since 1980.

5. The Big Winner Of The Budget Deal

Finally for today, a video by The Young Turks:

This is a nearly 11 minute discussion of the big winner in the American budget deal, which is the Pentagon. This receives, for itself, almost ten times as much as is spend on education. They get 652 billion dollars, in a time of peace (or "peace").

The discussion is fairly long and fairly sarcastic, and has several good graphics, such as this one:

6. Personal

Yesterday I said I had been less well for two days, and suspected my vitamins. Whether that's correct is not answered, as I cleared up in the evening. I did take today the vitamins of "the earlier program". It remains problematic, but it also is a fact that this year was better than the last year, which was pretty awful in the second half. My eyes are still far from OK, and I still feel them most of the day, but they are a lot better than they were a year ago.

Anyway. If tomorrow there is little or no crisis news, I'll write a Nederlog on something else, and indeed may continue with my Dutch autobio. But I don't know, and you'll have to find out for yourselves, if interested.


[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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