18, 2013
Crisis:  NSA * 4, Snowden * 2, medicine, 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. Tech companies call for 'aggressive' NSA reforms at
       White House meeting

  2. Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with

  3. Snowden: 'I Would Rather Be without a State than
       without a Voice'

  4. NSA Surveillance Is about Power, Not "Safety"
  5. Former Top NSA Official: “We Are Now In A Police

  6. Battle over Snowden on CNN between Greenwald and

  7. before I we sleep…
  8. Personal

About ME/CFS


This is yet another crisis report, with six crisis items and with a seventh item on the crisis in medicine, that seems to me as serious as the crisis in bank management, and to exist for the same basic reasons: deregulation created the plane on which greed manages incredibly large incomes for a few, in the name of bullshit - utter propaganda crap - about "market freedom" or "patients' outcomes".

1. Tech companies call for 'aggressive' NSA reforms at White House meeting 

To start with, an article by Dominic Rushe, Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian:

This starts as follows - and the reader should realize that the White House attempted to put a spin on this:

The top leaders from world’s biggest technology companies called on the US to "move aggressively" to reform the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance operations after discussions with President Obama on Tuesday, resisting attempts by the White House to portray the encounter as covering a range of broader priorities.

Executives from 15 companies, including Google, Apple, Yahoo and Twitter, used a face-to-face meeting with Obama and vice-president Joe Biden to express their concern that the NSA’s wide-ranging surveillance activities had undermined the trust of their users.

The meeting came a day after a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was “almost Orwellian” in scope and probably a violation of the US constitution. Some of the tech companies represented at the White House have already expressed deep concern at the wide-ranging nature of NSA surveillance, and the way it apparently draws information from their systems without their knowledge.

Let me first clarify the spin: There was an attempt by the White House to make this seem "a broad discussion" "on many topics", including "the state of the government's health care sites", that indeed are slow or broken.

In fact, the president and the vice-president only arrived after the side issues were resolved or "resolved" (a Microsoft engineer was appointed), and from then on the discussion was (I quote):

focused almost exclusively on surveillance issues.

Having gotten this out of the way, here is what was discussed with the president and the vice-president (both of whom were very much against spying on all Americans during election days, and now seem very much for):

Specific topics that were raised included Prism, an NSA program that collects and mines internet communications, bulk collection of telephone records and reform of the secret Fisa courts. They also discussed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a 27-year-old law that allows emails and digital communications older than six months to be seized without a warrant. 

Among those meeting Obama at the White House were Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, and Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. Senior representatives from Comcast, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Netflix were also there. So too was Randall Stephenson, the chairman and CEO of AT&T, one of the telecom providers routinely required to provide the NSA with metadata about its US customers.

Incidentally: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which is from 1986, cannot possibly legally allow specifically that "emails and digital communications older than six months to be seized without a warrant", for there were no emails and very little digital communications in 1986. That is, the "allowance" must have been based on some stretch of terminology - and besides, even then it says "older than six months".

There is considerably more in the article, but it doesn't get much clearer, which probably is what the White House intended.

2. Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama

Next, an article by Ian Traynor and Paul Lewis in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.

The German chancellor also told the US president that America's National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.

Livid after learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the Americans were listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel confronted Obama with the accusation: "This is like the Stasi."

The newspaper also reported that Merkel was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, "the NSA clearly couldn't be trusted with private information, because they let Snowden clean them out."

I say. But Angela Merkel is mostly right, though I think she is somewhat unfairly blaming Snowden. For it is not a matter of trust: it is a matter of grave concern that these data on everyone were gathered, and once they were gathered, quite illegally, according to Judge Leon, there always was the risk of some whistleblower(s) - and Merkel could have complimented Snowden on having been quite clever.

Also, there is this fairly odd bit:

Snowden is to testify on the NSA scandal to a European parliament inquiry next month, to the anger of Washington which is pressuring the EU to stop the testimony.

In Brussels, the chairman of the US House select committee on intelligence, Mike Rogers, a Republican, said his views on the invitation to Snowden were "not fit to print" and that it was "not a great idea".

Inviting someone "who is wanted in the US and has jeopardised the lives of US soldiers" was beneath the dignity of the European parliament, he said.

From this it would seem the US president has sent an utter idiot - I mean Mr Mike Rogers - to Europe. Incidentally, as to Mr Rogers and his mental capacities, he also said that

In comments to the Guardian, he referred to the exchange as "a conversation that may or may not have occurred".

OK... chancellor Merkel is - very possibly - a liar, according to Mike Rogers. Thank you, Mr. Rogers! More to the point:

A draft report by a European parliament inquiry into the affair, being presented on Wednesday and obtained by the Guardian, says there has to be a discussion about the legality of the NSA's operations and also of the activities of European intelligence agencies.

The report drafted by Claude Moraes, the British Labour MEP heading the inquiry, says "we have received substantial evidence that the operations by intelligence services in the US, UK, France and Germany are in breach of international law and European law".

There is also this bit, which I am against:

However the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said German and US officials were still in the process of negotiating how any final agreement – the details of which could remain secret between both governments – would be formalised.

I am against this because I do not want spying to be "regulated" by secret agreements between governors: Governors cannot be trusted, especially not as regards spying on everyone, because that is so very much in favour of the privileged few that make up governments, and so very much against everybody else.

What does make sense, and is important it was said, is this:

"We want to be assured that not everything that is technically possible will be done," the German official added.

This is important for several reasons: So far, the White House and the NSA's position has amounted to stealing whatever they can, and altering, stretching, or redefining all laws that oppose this.

There is considerably more in the article.

3. Snowden: 'I Would Rather Be without a State than without a Voice' 

Next, a brief piece by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This is mainly here because of the following part:

Though many media outlets depicted the letter as an offer by Snowden to "exchange" or "swap" his assistance for political asylum, nothing in the letter suggests a quid pro quo.

For example, the USA Today headline on Tuesday morning read: 'Snowden to Brazil: Swap you spying help for asylum.' And even the Guardian reported: 'Edward Snowden offers to help Brazil over US spying in return for asylum.'

But as journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted:

Great opportunity to see how media outlets can distort things: compare headlines about Snowden letter to its content (..)
— Glenn Greenwald

The only thing I deleted from Greenwald's mail is a reference to Snowden's letter, that follows now:

4. NSA Surveillance Is about Power, Not "Safety"

Next, the letter by Edward Snowden, that I found on Common Dreams (and elsewhere):

This starts as follows:

Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government's National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist's camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live.

He was listened to, as he says in a paragraph I skip, and next says:
At the NSA, I witnessed with growing alarm the surveillance of whole populations without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and it threatens to become the greatest human rights challenge of our time. The NSA and other spying agencies tell us that for our own "safety"—for Dilma's "safety," for Petrobras' "safety"—they have revoked our right to privacy and broken into our lives. And they did it without asking the public in any country, even their own.
Quite so. I skip another paragraph, and come to this:
American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not "surveillance," it's "data collection." They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.
Precisely - and as I said and wrote in Dutch on 29.x.2005, that is over eight years ago:
These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.
Or as I called it then and call it now: These programs are about state terrorism and they implement state terrorism. That is what they are for, and that is what they were for, from the beginning. And see item 5.

I skip another paragraph and come to this:

Six months ago, I revealed that the NSA wanted to listen to the whole world. Now, the whole world is listening back, and speaking out, too. And the NSA doesn't like what it's hearing. The culture of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance, exposed to public debates and real investigations on every continent, is collapsing. Only three weeks ago, Brazil led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to recognize for the first time in history that privacy does not stop where the digital network starts, and that the mass surveillance of innocents is a violation of human rights.

I sure hope he is right that "The culture of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance (..) is collapsing", but I have not seen much of it collapsing, though I have seen a lot of discussions, that indeed would not have taken place without Snowden.

Also, one should realize that this is a most powerful drug to have: To be able to control everyone, by controlling - copying, storing, for eventual use - ALL one's information and ALL one's data, of everyone.

This goes very much further than the Stasi, and is as much more powerful and as much more dangerous, in anyone's hands. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" said Lord Acton, and the power the NSA craves is the most absolute power there ever has been.

Then Snowden has this brave statement:

My act of conscience began with a statement: "I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. That's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under."

Days later, I was told my government had made me stateless and wanted to imprison me. The price for my speech was my passport, but I would pay it again: I will not be the one to ignore criminality for the sake of political comfort. I would rather be without a state than without a voice.

I agree, though his final statement is a bit problematic:
If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems.
The problems are (1) that not all band together (2) that the governors are nearly all corrupt and lying (3) that the opposition - the NSA, the US government, the GCHQ, the English government, and so on - is very strong and very well-funded,  by the taxpayers they hope to control, and also (4) that not many of the media follow this in any detail, while (5) that there also are a lot of lies and willing liars, again because the power the NSA's success promises is exceedingly great, and far greater than any government ever had.

I have quoted a little over half of Snowden's letter, but the previous item was quite right in insisting there is no offer of any swap, nor of any quid pro quo - and as I said, there are many lies and many willing liars (although these tend to make up things rather than say "No" where they heard "Yes").

5.  Former Top NSA Official: “We Are Now In A Police State”

Next, an article from Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows, whetre the colors and the links are in the original:

32-year NSA Veteran Who Created Mass Surveillance System Says Government Use of Data Gathered Through Spying “Is a Totalitarian Process”

Bill Binney is the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information.  A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.

Binney has been interviewed by virtually all of the mainstream media, including CBS, ABC, CNN, New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, PBS and many others.

Last year, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together, and said:

We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.

But today, Binney told Washington’s Blog that the U.S. has already become  a police state.

By way of background, the government is spying on virtually everything we do.

And there is this (skipping several paragraphs of interesting links):

Binney told us today:

The main use of the collection from these [NSA spying] programs [is] for law enforcement. [See the 2 slides below].

These slides give the policy of the DOJ/FBI/DEA etc. on how to use the NSA data. In fact, they instruct that none of the NSA data is referred to in courts – cause it has been acquired without a warrant.

So, they have to do a “Parallel Construction” and not tell the courts or prosecution or defense the original data used to arrest people. This I call: a “planned programed perjury policy” directed by US law enforcement.

And, as the last line on one slide says, this also applies to “Foreign Counterparts.”

This is a total corruption of the justice system not only in our country but around the world. The source of the info is at the bottom of each slide. This is a totalitarian process – means we are now in a police state.

I quite agree, and if you want to see the slides referred to you have to follow the link. And I quite agree with William Binney (<- Wikipedia):

This is a totalitarian process – means we are now in a police state

The reason is that the trials will be secret; the evidence will be secret; the outcome may be secret; and lots of people may simply disappear, as happened in Germany.

Also, you cannot trust the government or its bureaucrats: They allowed it in the first place, and they are the only ones to be certain to profit from it.

6. Battle over Snowden on CNN between Greenwald and Toobin

Next, a video by The Young Turks, of a little over 7 1/2 minutes:

Basically, this is a report on the debate between Greenwald and Toobin, that was moderated by Anderson Cooper on CNN.

It is a good report, that I recommend you see.

7.  before I we sleep…

Finally, another article by 1 boring old man, that is a lot better than the previous one (in which he criticized Marcia Angell for formulating shoulds):

There is considerably more in the article, but I quote this paragraph, that bears out what I wrote about the corruption of medicine yesterday:

All of my medical life, pharmaceutical advertising has been part of things, part of being a doctor. I never gave it much thought, What was different about the last twenty-five years was that they found ways to advertise without it showing. It never used to occur to me that an article in a medical journal like the American Journal of Psychiatry was constructed under the tutelage of a drug company. I never thought of famous physicians as Key Opinion Leaders – people whose notoriety was a commodity to be bartered for its impact on my prescribing habits. If that was going on in my distant past, I didn’t know it and I would have considered it fraud. Now, it’s so ubiquitous that it’s the rule rather than the exception, and it has produced an enormous amount of confusion – too much to fathom. And a lot of that confusion is because the famous doctors became KOLs. Maybe Nemeroff, my chairman, was the absolute worst, but there were plenty of others at places like Harvard and Stanford, the venerated halls of learning in medicine and psychiatry. That I was on a clinical faculty at a place where those things were happening and didn’t really know it is a testimony to the very stealth that is on trial here.

Yes indeed: This is how medicine tends to be run these days, which is not by science, not by ethics, but by the profit motive. And this holds for all of medicine, though it probably is worst in psychiatry, that also is not a science but a mere pseudoscience [2], unlike most of the rest of medicine.

And now that I am writing about medicine again, I had a list of points yesterday, to which I want to add two points I forgot:

  • During the last 40+ years the universities have been totally changed: most are now offering "education" at the level of colleges (or lower) forty and more years ago, and they both offer and demand far less for graduates to graduate in, though it is also true that, precisely for that reason, very many more people graduate, and can graduate.
  • This has also been so for medicine. Though I know not enough to make a decent test and comparison, I have met the last 20 years "doctors of medicine" that were "fully qualified" that were much more stupid than the nurses I met forty and more years ago - and no, I am neither lying nor exaggerating.
So that is another large problem: There are far more dumb doctors, in medicine, and indeed in all of science or "science", and these were intentionally created, at least in the sense that the levels of education the universities offered have halved (while the price for the students tripled, quadrupled or more).

Finally, you will not hear many young "academic scientists" about this, firstly, because on average they are more stupid and less well educated than nearly all scientists that were educated forty and more years ago, while also those who made it to academic tenure generally are not the best, a few studies excepted, but the most conformist.

8. Personal

This is another long NL, and in this NL I have not treated all I found, for lack of time and space. There will be some other material this year, although it probably will be mostly on the crisis, on which I have now been reporting since September 1, 2008, which will be a little more reflective, but it depends on my health and on the number of crisis items in the news.

P.S. Dec 19, 2013: I corrected a few typos and added some boldings.

[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] I am a psychologist and a philosopher, and I am quite able to judge the pretensions of the psychiatrists, and they are nearly all false, fraudulent, lies or pretense. They do not know
  • what is the self, a person, or a character
  • what is thinking, feeling, or desiring
  • what is madness (they cannot define it!)
and almost none of them do know any philosophy of science, or anything much outside their own priestcraft of lies, deceptions and frauds, that are nearly all calculated and perpetrated to deceive ordinary people and to sell them expensive psychotropic drugs, that for the most part are almost the same as the  psychotropic drugs of the 1960ies and 1970ies, but minimally manipulated to get a new patent, and also the drugs they sell are very badly tested, many of the side-effects are unstated or were initially unstated, whereas no one knows their long term effects.

So my advice is not to see a psychiatrist if you need mental help, but instead to see a psychologist, while your G.P. anyway is both qualified to prescribe any medicine, and as a rule is much better informed about you than any psychiatrist.

Also, expect miracles of no one: Nearly all that a rational psychiatry or psychology requires to know is not known, and very likely will not be known for at least another thirty years.

To be sure, for psychologists the same points hold, simply because no one has plausible scientifically tenable answers to the above dotted points, but they cannot incarcerate you if they do not like you, and they probably have more attention for your own story, while they also are under no pressure from pharmaceutical companies to sell you expensive psychotropic drugs, and also are far less likely to be visited by pharmaceutical salespersons.

For more, see the psychiatrists dr. Healy and dr. Nardo, who at least write sensibly and who know a lot about the evidence, and especially about the limitations of their colleagues and themselves. Also,
dr. Healy's site has a lot of information about drugs and their side-effects.

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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