Snowden offers to help Brazil over US spying in
return for asylum
Next, an article by
Paul Owen in the Guardian:
This starts as
has offered to help Brazil investigate US
spying on its soil in exchange for political asylum, in an open letter from the NSA whistleblower to the Brazilian people
published by the Folha de S Paulo newspaper.
"I've expressed my
willingness to assist where it's appropriate and legal, but,
unfortunately, the US government has been working hard to limit my
ability to do so," Snowden said in the letter.
"Until a country grants
me permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to
interfere with my ability to speak out," he said.
Snowden – currently
living in Russia, where he has been granted a year's asylum until next
summer – said he had been impressed by the Brazilian government's
strong criticism of the NSA spy programme targeting
internet and telecommunications worldwide, including monitoring the
mobile phone of the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff.
There is considerably
more in the article. Note that Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil, but
also note that it would probably be a lot easier to kidnap Snowden from
Brazil than from Russia.
No amnesty for Edward Snowden, White House insists
Next, an article by Dan
Roberts in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is considerably
more in the article. I just want to say that the White House's
spokesman has not dashed my hopes: I never had any.
The White House has
dashed hopes that the administration might be considering an amnesty
for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, insisting he should still return
to the US to stand trial.
acknowledgement that Snowden has raised important matters of public
interest through the leaks to the Guardian and other newspapers, a US
government spokesman said its position remained unchanged.
“Mr Snowden has been
accused of leaking classified information and he faces felony charges
in the US. He should be returned to the United States as soon as
possible, where he will be accorded full due process,” spokesman Jay
Carney told reporters on Monday.
Asked about weekend
comments by a senior NSA official suggesting that an amnesty was “worth
talking about” if Snowden returned the missing NSA documents, Carney
added: “Our position has not changed on that matter – at all. He was
expressing he personal opinion; these decisions are made by the
Department of Justice.”
Edward Snowden Says Judge's Ruling on Unconstitutionality of NSA
Surveillance Methods Vindicates His Disclosures
Next, an article by
Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman, that originally appeared in the
Guardian but that I found on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Edward Snowden, the
former security contractor who leaked a trove of National Security
Agency documents, welcomed a court ruling on Monday that declared
the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records to be a likely
violation of the US constitution.
Snowden said the ruling,
by a US district judge, justified his disclosures. “I acted on my
belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a
constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a
chance to see these issues determined by open courts," he said in
comments released through Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian
journalist who received the documents from Snowden.
Quite so. The article
also cites two senators:
Senator Mark Udall, a
leading critic of the dragnet collection, welcomed the judgment. "The
ruling underscores what I have argued for years: [that] the bulk
collection of Americans' phone records conflicts with Americans'
privacy rights under the US constitution and has failed to make us
safer," said Udall, a Democrat.
Senator Ron Wyden,
another NSA critic, also welcomed the ruling. "Judge Leon’s ruling hits
the nail on the head. It makes clear that bulk phone records collection
is intrusive digital surveillance and not simply inoffensive data
collection as some have said."
Again: quite so.
MPs grill Theresa May over spy chiefs' 'melodramatic soundbites' on NSA
Next, we go to Great
Britain, with an article by Nick Hopkins in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The home secretary, Theresa May, faced
criticism from MPs on Monday for failing to provide evidence to support
the "melodramatic soundbites" of Britain's spy agencies claiming that
revelations from the whistleblower Edward Snowden had damaged the UK's national security.
During a 45-minute grilling by the home affairs select committee, May was
repeatedly asked whether she had evidence to back up "highly emotional
statements" made by the heads of MI5, Andrew Parker, and MI6, Sir John Sawers. They
have said stories published by the Guardian were a "gift for terrorists".
Keith Vaz, the committee
chair, asked five times whether the home secretary had been given proof
to support the agencies' rhetoric. He asked: "These statements are
made, but no evidence is put forward. Do you have any evidence today?"
something. There's also this:
Michael Ellis, a
Conservative member of the committee, asked May why the head of MI5
"feels able to make melodramatic soundbites … and his colleagues made
soundbites to get across their points" without providing evidence.
May said the agency
chiefs should report primarily to parliament's intelligence and
security committee (ISC), which takes a lead on scrutiny of the
agencies and has recently been given new powers.
Vaz told the home
secretary: "What you have given us today, and what we have heard so
far, is only second-hand information. Mr Parker and Sir John are making
statements in open session and nobody knows what the follow-up is."
In any case: It seems
thinking has started in Great Britain. What its outcome will be is not
yet settled, but this is a first step towards rational thought (on the
subject of spying on your total population, as if what can be done must
be done, also without any say-so of anyone except for the spies
7. Folic acid in bread 'could be a health
Next, we change to the
first of three health items. This is from the Daily Mail, that I very
seldomly read, and that still - since I last saw it - paragraphs each
But OK. Here is the
beginning of the article:
Adding folic acid to
bread supplies may significantly damage the nation's health, food
scientists have warned.
A plan to fortify flour
with the B vitamin in a bid to reduce birth defects could backfire by
increasing cases of bowel cancer and trigger problems for people with
leukaemia and arthritis.
But it might take 20
years before the effects of increased consumption by millions of people
become known, says the Institute of Food Research.
The IFR's warning will
fuel debate over whether the benefits of fortifying flour with folic
acid outweigh the health risks.
It comes as the Food
Standards Agency has in principle approved putting folic acid in bread
flour, although Government ministers have yet to make the final
By boosting the diets of
pregnant women, it would cut the rate of defects such as spina bifida
in the unborn baby which can cause serious disability.
However, research has
suggested the human body might struggle to break down folic acid in
even half the amounts proposed for supplementing foods.
In fact, this is mostly
correct, although it is not quite correct that folic acid is a B
vitamin: It is itself inactive until transformed to levomefolic acid
- and some 50% of the population either does not convert most
of it (10%) or only converts it partially. The remaining 50% converts
My problem with it is that
I seem to not convert it (but the Dutch medical men do not wish
to research whether I am one of the 50%, though they are quite
willing to explain to me for twice the costs of doing the
research why they do not want to do the research - and yes, you
read that well), while I have taken very many daily doses of folic acid
each day with B vitamin supplements and with other vitamins, to many of
which it also is added.
In any case: I see no
reason to feed the whole population with folic acid if only 50% of the
population can deal with it well. Also, I find it odd that it is folic
acid rather than levomefolic acid that is added: levomefolic acid can
be dealt with by all.
So yes, I think this may be
a ticking time bomb, indeed not for all, but for the 10 to 50% who
cannot deal well with it.
8. Vitamin supplements are waste of money,
Next, there is an article
in the Guardian without known author, to the following effect:
This starts as follows:
almost never have health benefits, are a waste of money and could even
be harmful, a group of scientists said in a damning indictment of the
Despite one in three
Britons taking vitamins or mineral pills, evidence from studies of
almost 500,000 people suggested that "supplementing the diet of
well-nourished adults … has no clear benefit and might even be
The conclusions were
drawn by British and US academics at the University of Warwick and the
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and published in the
Annals of Internal Medicine.
The scientists also
suggested that companies selling supplements were fuelling false health
anxieties to offer unnecessary cures, according to the Times.
I am sorry, but I do
not believe this - and yes, I am using vitamins since 1983, and yes,
they have helped me, but have not cured me, and no: I do not
know the reasons for this because nearly all the medical "scientists" I
met reasoned like these medical "scientists" (which is a proof of fashion,
rather than of science or "science").
Besides, I have over
the last three years lost nearly all my faith in medical science, since
I now know that:
- many medical
articles in medical "scientific" journals are not written by their
well-known authors but by ghostwriters
- many medical data
that are the basis for the articles in the medical "scientific" journals are kept
secret by the pharmaceutical companies for totally false and dishonest
"scientists" are among the highest paid professionals
- medical "scientists" if doctors are now for
decades the subjects of personal campaigns, that easily run into
tenthousands of dollars per year, so as to make them prescribe
expensive pills, that may not work at all or have side-effects that
have been suppressed
- the "science" of
psychiatry currently has over 400 "disorders" that nearly all come with
very expensive pills, the selling of as many as possible to as many
patients as possible seems to be the only reason this "science" - which
is a pseudoscience - exists, and
- the "science" of
psychiatry has a general answer to each and any medically unexplained
disease: Every patient with a medically unexplained disease has no
disease but has one (or more) of the 400+ "disorders", for which there
expensive psychotropic drugs.
- [two more points on December 18, 2013]
Also, I am ill for 35
years now without having gotten almost any medical help, apart
from sleeping pills; the disease I have is massively
underresearched for lack of money; and besides, I also have rarely met
a truly intelligent medical doctor, though I admit this has happened.
(And yes, I do have an IQ over 150, and I have one of the best M.A.s in
psychology, all taken while I was ill: These facts do make a
And I am 63 and have not been seriously ill for 63 years, except
that I have ME/CFS, and have one of the
very best M.A.s in psychology that was ever awarded, but I never
in my life earned more than the most minimal income, because I
get no help of any kind, apart from sleeping pills
(that I also have to pay myself).
So while I am quite
clear that makers of vitamins are in their business to get better of
it, all the health care givers I have met in my life gave care
because they made a LOT of money that way, and nearly all
of the medical health care givers that I have met - 95% at least - were
extremely well paid frauds, given what they told me about my
complaints, though indeed not all were, and I have seen some good
doctors as well.
Therefore I say that
medical "scientists" should keep their mouths shut about vitamin and
mineral supplements until medical "science" is a real science
again, and not a corrupt partial or pseudo science that seems
to work mostly as an adjunct of Big Pharma: I simply disbelieve their
honesty, their competence, and their integrity, and I also am afraid
this is not so much a way of trying to stop people popping useless
pills, but a way of trying to convert people to more expensive and more
profitable psychiatric drugs.
In case you
disbelieve my dotted points, read on:
9. an action figure…
Finally, a piece by 1
boring old man:
I did not like the article particularly much, for it has a rather
strange way of criticizing Marcia Angell
(<- my article of June 11, 2013) for "formulating shoulds", as if
these are useless, while Angell is one of the few medical scientists
who articulated the right kind of shoulds, and who criticized
psychiatry in public long before 1 boring old man did so.
he does quote Marcia Angell, from an article called "Money and
medical journals", and that quote you get here, in which the
boldings are mine:
I agree these are all
shoulds. Until these shoulds, and some more, are again practised, as
they were before the 1980ies, I am very skeptical of medical science,
for almost each medical man is into medicine to make money, and
the present practice of medical journals stinks of corruption, for
reasons outlined above, and more, while I am totally out on psychiatry:
that is a fraudulent pseudoscience,
that is: intentionally deceptive lying for money, and the sooner it
disappears the better it is for everybody.
medical journals that publish reports of clinical research are owned by
professional societies. Some are distributed to members for free;
others are available by subscription. Some lose money for their owners;
others subsidize their owners. The most extreme example of the latter
is the New England Journal of Medicine , whose income makes its owner,
the Massachusetts Medical Society, the richest medical society in the
country. What they all have in common is their dependence on
support from the pharmaceutical industry – through ads, through support
of meetings, and through the purchase of reprints. This is a huge
conflict of interest, even on the face of it. Journals have an
obligation to report harms as well as benefits of prescription drugs,
yet it is only natural that they would be reluctant to bite the hand
that feeds them. I would favor eliminating pharmaceutical ads in
medical journals altogether; if they want to carry ads, the ads
should be for products unrelated to the practice of medicine.
addition, the disinterestedness of medical journals is all the more
important given the biases introduced by the pharmaceutical industry in
the rest of the system. Negative clinical trials sponsored by drug
companies are often, maybe usually, not even submitted for publication.
Those that are submitted are often designed in such a way to make a
positive result likely. These biases reflect the financial
conflicts of interest that permeate academic medicine. In a sense,
the medical journals are the thin blue line that could help to protect
the integrity of clinical research. When they, too, are corrupted by
conflicts of interest, there is very little recourse.
We also need to recognize
the unusual position of medical journals at the interface between the
public and private sectors. The costs of careful peer review and
editing are substantial, and journals have a right to recoup that
expense in some way. But there needs to be some recognition of the fact
that privately owned medical journals often publish publicly funded
research, and thus are subsidized by taxpayers. As a consequence,
they should make research reports available without charge within a
very short time after publication, and their net income should not be
excessive compared with their costs.
Finally, there are good medical people, and there even are a few
psychiatrists who do good, but all of them practice for
money and nearly all of them are ordinary people,
albeit it a bit more intelligent than most, and also rather a lot
richer than most, and among ordinary people, including medical men and
women, only a few are good or very good, as persons, as scientists, or
as clinicians, while most collaborate with the pharmaceutical
companies, and indeed are also made the subject of many attentions and
lots of salesmanship by the pharmaceutical companies, whose pills they
prescribe, often for profit or because of the special attentions given
to them by pharmeceutical salesmen (and women).
Medicine is sick these days, although it seems sickest in the US, where
also most money is being made, and the reason is the same as that the
banks are sick: "Greed is good". Also, it doesn't need to be sick and
it wouldn't be sick, apart from psychiatry and a few other specialisms,
if only it were better regulated than it