23, 2013
Crisis: 4 crisis items + I redid the indexes for the crisis series
  "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.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

  1. The NSA on Trial
  2. 'We Should Be Thanking Snowden': Obama Forced to
       Consider NSA Reforms

  3. Truthdigger of the Week: Judge Jed Rakoff
  4. Major Pharm Company To End Payments To Doctors
  5. I redid the indexes for the crisis series
About ME/CFS


This is and is not an ordinary crisis item: It is, because there are 4 crisis items; it isn't because, at long last, I did something I have been putting off for a long time, because of my bad eyes and the bad qualities of the one and only "WYSIWYG html editor" that seems to exist on Linux, which is called KompoZer - that does not even keep the cursor-position in the file, normally, if you have several files open and switch between them: "Start from the beginning, wherever you were!": I redid the indexes to the crisis series.

Anyway... I now could do it, and I could not have done it the previous year and a half, indeed mostly because of the state of my eyes, so that is a plus.

Apart from that, there are four crisis items.

1. The NSA on Trial

To start with, an article by David Cole that I found on Common Dreams but that originated in the New York Times:

This starts as follows

Ever since Edward Snowden’s revelation that the National Security Agency was collecting and storing data on every phone call every American makes and every text every American sends, the Obama administration has maintained that the program is fully lawful, and that it has been approved repeatedly by all three branches of government. This defense has always been misleading. Since the program was developed, approved, and applied in secret, it had never been subject to public scrutiny or adversarial judicial testing. Now it has, and it has failed dramatically. As of this week, all three branches have called for substantial reforms of the program, and a federal judge has seriously questioned its constitutionality.

This seems to me - well... very weak, and I refer especially to this passage:

This defense has always been misleading. Since the program was developed, approved, and applied in secret, it had never been subject to public scrutiny or adversarial judicial testing.

There are many reasons I find this very weak. Here are four of them:

First, the defense was not so much "misleading" as both quite false, on the rare occasions it was given, and quite missing. It should be very clear that there is no legal defense of illegal acts, and should be as clear that conspiring to collect all the private data on more than 300 million innocent American citizens is illegal.

Second, a program that is developed without "public scrutiny or adversarial judicial testing", and that effects all the computer data and telephone data of every American citizen, is clearly anti-democratic: it allows the government to spy on everyone, while it does not allow any ordinary citizen to know this.

Third, absolutely no one knows what the data that have been gathered - all the computer data, all the phone calls - will be used for: The eventual use depends a lot on whatever administration is in force, and in any case whatever that will be will be opposed by nearly half of the population. (But now the government knows all your sites, all your emails, and all your phone calls, and thinks it self-evident it can get everything that is on all your computers: Whoever told you that "if you are innocent, you have nothing to fear" did not know that, and also certainly did not and could not define "innocent".)

Fourth, a program that "was developed, approved, and applied in secret", especially if it involves spying on all Americans, for no reason at all, is an illegal program, that is developed by illegal methods, that are used to keep it secret that an illegal program is being developed and used.

And these were just four reasons I consider the formulations ... very weak. Now,
because this is a long article, I will only select a few bits. After discussing judge Leon's decision, and mentioning Clapper lied to Congress (without saying he should face a judge, as if the lying of spymasters is free and should be allowed) there is this:

President Obama appointed a commission of constitutional and security experts to review the program, and on Wednesday that commission issued a report of more than three-hundred pages calling for a slew of reforms.

Again, I find this quite weak The commission was composed of friends of Obama; the "slew of reforms" seem to be all cosmetic - and the whole report seems to completely not raise the illegality of what has been happening.

Then there is this:

But the second and even more important aspect of Judge Leon’s opinion is its recognition that the Fourth Amendment needs to adapt to the digital age.

I think not. The founding fathers did not know the telephone either, but their statement is admirably clear: Everyone has the right on privacy, except if there is evidence that he or she may have committed a crime, and then some of his private papers may be seized, if this permitted by a judge.

Besides, it transpires from the discussion that the judges of the secret FISA court who approved the gathering of all the data of more than 300 million Americans did so - they say, not at all mentioning blackmail - because of a 1979 Supreme Court ruling. That is, before almost anyone had any idea of computing, or the enormous differences that makes!

Then there is this:

We may not reasonably expect to keep private the fact of a particular phone call, or even a set of phone calls over a short time period, given the phone company’s knowledge of them.

Why ever not?! What do other people have to do with the contents of our calls or whom we call?! What is "not reasonable" about expecting that private information remains private?! Clearly, every government since the invention of paper letters was in a position that they could open every letter and read it. The reason they did not, is not that they could not, for they clearly could. The reason is the sort of agreement that is expressed by the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

Anyway... there is a lot more, but David Cole does not take a clear position, and I find that very weak, were it only because of the Fourth Amendment, that very clearly has been broken, some 300 million times at the very least.

2. 'We Should Be Thanking Snowden': Obama Forced to Consider NSA Reforms

Next, an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama claimed in his end-of-the-year press conference on Friday that he will consider his NSA review board's suggestions for limited reforms—a development that many say reflects the shift in public debate sparked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Yet, Obama refused to touch the topic of amnesty for Snowden, claiming that public discussion of government spying could have occurred without his revelations, and continuing his vigorous defense of the unpopular mass surveillance programs.

“The president said that we could have had this important debate without Snowden, but no one seriously believes we would have," said Ben Wizner, Snowden's attorney, in an interview with The Guardian: "And now that a federal court and the president’s own review panel have agreed that the NSA’s activities are illegal and unwise, we should be thanking Snowden, not prosecuting him.”

I agree with Wizner. Besides, Obama is a very tricky customer:

However, this did not stop Obama from vigorously defending NSA spying. "There have not been actual instances where it's been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data," he said.

Yet, as the Christian Science Monitor points out, this claim "appeared to run counter to FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court documents released in September. They included a harshly worded court opinion in which a federal judge berated the NSA for failing to conduct phone record searches in accord with legal guidelines meant to protect Americans’ privacy and for misleading the court that agency searches complied with those guidelines."

Of course, the Christian Science Monitor is right, and either Obama lied or spoke on the basis of lies by others - but the trickery is in the first paragraph, which cleverly avoids raising the following question: Did

"the NSA in some ways act(ed) inappropriately in the use acquisition of this data"?

It's just one word difference (and the answer to that question is: YES!).

3.  Truthdigger of the Week: Judge Jed Rakoff

Next, an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truth Dig:

This opens as follows:

Two years ago Jed Rakoff, senior judge for the Southern District of New York, embarrassed both the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup by rejecting a deal to relieve the bank of guilt for cheating its customers out of more than $700 million by selling them bad mortgages. This month, in the pages of the Jan. 9 issue of The New York Review of Books, he stepped forward from the bench once again to criticize the mindset that both led to that deal and produced the financial crisis.

“Who was to blame” for the recession that forced “millions of Americans” into “lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope”? he asked. “Was it simply a result of negligence. … Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices?”

Without quite deciding what occurred, Rakoff asks why “not a single high-level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis.” One possibility is that no fraud was committed. Rakoff tells us he hasn’t performed the examinations necessary to rule on that matter. But others have. In their final report on the subject, investigators with the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission used “variants of the word ‘fraud’ no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the crisis, concluding that there was a ‘systemic breakdown,’ not just of accountability, but also in ethical behavior,” he writes.

Clearly, it was fraud, and the last statement is quite good: There was and there is a systemic breakdown of accountability, personal responsibility and of ethical behavior; this systemic breakdown has been covered and furthered by Obama's administration just as they were by Bush Jr.'s administration; and those who profit from it are the rich and the big corporations, who also have the money to buy such covering and furthering.

There is considerably more in the article, including a good outline explanation of the possible reasons of failure of the American system of justice, but it is clear that I quite agree.
4. Major Pharm Company To End Payments To Doctors

Finally, a five minutes lasting video item by The Young Turks, about the crisis in medicine (that is really a crisis):
This is a good brief explanation why the "thirty to forty years" (I quoted) of pharmaceutical corruption may be ending - not because it isn't profitable, and not because there are suddenly ethical executives at the heads of these firms, who mean well with the patients (though that is how the corporations are selling it) but because the laws change in 2014-2016.

They also give a good brief exposition of the means used to rake in tens or hundreds of billions of profit:

Manipulating and rewarding doctors; writing false articles; keeping the data; only publishing data and articles when these support the corporations; and bullshitting, deceiving and manipulating the public.

5. I redid the indexes for the crisis series

I must be doing a lot better than I have done before, or else something strange happened to me, but I redid the indexes for the crisis series.

There are now two of them, and here are the links:

The reason these needed to be redone is that 90 items disappeared from the first index sometimes this year. These items have been reinserted now, plus 10 more that are (mostly) about the crisis but have no "Crisis:" prefix, which explains the 10 extra files, that I filed under 226 (A to K).

The reasons I did not do this before are my bad eyes, that still are bad but not as bad as they were the last 1 1/2 years, and the bad html-editor I am forced to use on Linux, for that is full of bugs, some quite extreme, such as not keeping the cursor position of the file: Generally, when switching files - but not always (!) - it moves the cursor back to the beginning of the file, which is extremely frustrating.

Anyway... anybody interested in the crisis series can now consult all of them. Also, I should add that the first 81 of them - up to the very beginning of 2010 - are in Dutch, but the rest is in English.

P.S. 24 Dec 2013: Corrected a typo.

[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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