January 7, 2014

Crisis: NSS, NSA, Great Britain, Europe, Medicine, Phoenix Rising

   "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

Prev- crisis -Next  

A Ripley's Believe It or Not National Security State
2. Defining the NSA’s Role
3. At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost

4. Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a

Death By A Thousand Cuts: The Silent Assassination Of
    European Democracy

6. evidencedbasedmedicine isn’t one word…
7. Phoenix Rising 2013 Annual Report

About ME/CFS


This is again another crisis file, although the last item is about ME/CFS, and not about the crisis, at least not directly.

1. A Ripley's Believe It or Not National Security State

To start with, an article by Tom Engelhardt, on his site (and elsewhere):

This is a good article I recommend you read all of. Here is a bit from its beginning:
Since my childhood, in fact, that tripartite government has grown a fourth part, a national security state that is remarkably unchecked and unbalanced.  In recent times, that labyrinthine structure of intelligence agencies morphing into war-fighting outfits, the U.S. military (with its own secret military, the special operations forces, gestating inside it), and the Department of Homeland Security, a monster conglomeration of agencies that is an actual “defense department,” as well as a vast contingent of weapons makers, contractors, and profiteers bolstered by an army of lobbyists, has never stopped growing.  It has won the undying fealty of Congress, embraced the power of the presidency, made itself into a jobs program for the American people, and been largely free to do as it pleased with almost unlimited taxpayer dollars.
I should say that Tom Engelhardt (<-Wikipedia) is a few years older than I am, but not many, but that he is quite correct. Also, it seems to me that the main reason this "fourth branch of government" rules is because it has big money behind it. (And "money rules the world".)

There is also this, also from the beginning, and I should say the "NSS" is the "National Security State":

After all, the focus of the NSS, which has like an incubus grown to monumental proportions inside the body of the political system, would seem distinctly monomaniacal, if only we could step outside our normal way of thinking for a moment.  At a cost of nearly a trillion dollars a year, its main global enemy consists of thousands of lightly armed jihadis and wannabe jihadis scattered mainly across the backlands of the planet.  They are capable of causing genuine damage -- though far less to the United States than numerous other countries -- but not of shaking our way of life.  And yet for the leaders, bureaucrats, corporate cronies, rank and file, and acolytes of the NSS, it’s a focus that can never be intense enough on behalf of a system that can never grow large enough or be well funded enough.
Yes indeed - and I think, as I argued in 2005 (in Dutch), that this - the non-existence of anything like the Soviet Union, with an enormous well-trained army and atomic weapons - is very strong evidence that almost everyone is being had, and is being had by Goering's Principle, so to speak - if they were not explicitly bought, that is:

This is Goering's Principle, that so well served Bush and Obama:
"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
It works the same in every country."
It worked and works very well in the United States.

Anyway - there is a lot more in the article, and it is all quite good. (Though again I came so similar conclusions in 2005, but that was also without knowing anything about the NSA, and merely because of the obvious lies and propaganda about "terrorism" that I did read, almost everywhere.)

2. Defining the NSA’s Role

Next, an article by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

President Obama’s anticipated reform of the National Security Agency’s practices needs to go beyond ending the mass surveillance of innocent Americans’ phone calls. He should force the agency to think less about the quantity of information it gathers and more about the quality.

Obama should ignore the choir of apologists singing in lamentation over the beastly way the NSA is being treated. I refer to voices such as that of Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who on Monday accused Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.—and, by extension, all the agency’s critics—of “trying to create this paranoia among Americans that the NSA is spying on everyone.”

In fact, the NSA is spying on everyone by keeping a detailed log of our private phone calls. This practice was sanctioned by secret court rulings that stretched the words of the Constitution and the Patriot Act beyond recognition. We couldn’t challenge these rulings because we weren’t allowed to know about them. When asked last March whether any such blanket domestic surveillance was taking place, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress and said no. In what universe is it “paranoia” to be angry about all of this?

There is considerably more, and it is good advice, but it seems to me very unlikely it will be heeded by president Obama.

3. At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything

Next, an article by George Monbiot in the Guardian, who is speaking about Cameron's Great Britain, that is rapidly transformed into a sort of neo-fascist state:
This is from the middle of the article, and describes the currently existing situation in Great Britain (thanks to Tony Blair):

The existing rules are bad enough. Introduced by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, antisocial behaviour orders (asbos) have criminalised an apparently endless range of activities, subjecting thousands – mostly young and poor – to bespoke laws. They have been used to enforce a kind of caste prohibition: personalised rules which prevent the untouchables from intruding into the lives of others.

You get an asbo for behaving in a manner deemed by a magistrate as likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to other people. Under this injunction, the proscribed behaviour becomes a criminal offence. Asbos have been granted which forbid the carrying of condoms by a prostitute, homeless alcoholics from possessing alcohol in a public place, a soup kitchen from giving food to the poor, a young man from walking down any road other than his own, children from playing football in the street. They were used to ban peaceful protests against the Olympic clearances.

If you think that is bad, as I do, here is the new thing that is being prepared:

All this is about to get much worse. On Wednesday the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill reaches its report stage (close to the end of the process) in the House of Lords. It is remarkable how little fuss has been made about it, and how little we know of what is about to hit us.

The bill would permit injunctions against anyone of 10 or older who "has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person". It would replace asbos with ipnas (injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance), which would not only forbid certain forms of behaviour, but also force the recipient to discharge positive obligations. In other words, they can impose a kind of community service order on people who have committed no crime, which could, the law proposes, remain in force for the rest of their lives.

To me, this prohibition of "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person" is a neo-fascist law, because it does not have any legal bases other than "nuisance or annoyance", which may be anything whatsoever.

Anyway, here are Monbiot's concluding words:

These laws will be used to stamp out plurality and difference, to douse the exuberance of youth, to pursue children for the crime of being young and together in a public place, to help turn this nation into a money-making monoculture, controlled, homogenised, lifeless, strifeless and bland. For a government which represents the old and the rich, that must sound like paradise.

And they also may be used to shut up Monbiot or the Guardian, simply because they are "causing nuisance or annoyance to any person", such as Cameron.

4. Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke

Next, an article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:
This starts as follows:

If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

Actually, I am not amazed, for I think Frank Zappa - who said so in the 1980ies - was right in his belief that (especially) soft drugs are since long time a way for the authorities of quite a few countries, including Holland and the United States, to generate considerable extra - untaxed, illegal, undeclared - income.

My strong conviction goes back 25 years or more, when I have been caught up in nearly four years of protesting against illegal drugssellers, who had been given personal permission by the then mayor of Amsterdam, Ed van Thijn, to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor of the house in which I lived, and who tried to gas me and threatened me five times with murder because I dared to protest their presence, their activities, and the sounds they made till 2 o'clock in the night.

The whole mistreatment I got then and since, that included a total refusal to even answer any of my letters and any of my phone calls, convinced me that the only good explanation for this is that the authorities took and take a percentage - of at least 25 billion dollars (25,000,000,000 dollars) a year that is turned over in Holland, given the Van Traa-report (Just 1% of this equals
250,000,000 dollars.)

But no one cares, certainly not in Holland.

5. Death By A Thousand Cuts: The Silent Assassination Of European Democracy  

Next, an article by Don Quijones that I found on Naked Capitalism:

There is a lot more in the article that is quite interesting, but here is a single fact from it that I guess most of my readers don't know:
Staggering as it may seem, in the last 20 years the Union has not passed a single audit. Indeed, so opaque is the state of its finances that in 2002 Marta Andreasen, the first ever professional accountant to serve as the Commission’s Chief Accountant, refused to sign off the organization’s 2001 accounts, citing concerns that the EU’s accounting system was “open to fraud”. After taking her concerns public, Andreasen was suspended and then later sacked by the Commission.
And that was 12 massively fraudulent years ago...

6. evidencedbasedmedicine isn’t one word…

Next, to medicine, with an article by 1 boring old man, who seems to be starting to see the light as regards "evidence based medicine", so very dear to professors Wessely, Creed, and Sharp:

This starts as follows:
Evidence Based Medicine [often pronounced evidencebasedmedicine] has evolved into one of my least favorite terms, even beating out chemicalimbalance. The reason it tops the list is that it’s even used by people who are not tricksters like the chemicalimbalance set. They often mean well. They’re saying that you shouldn’t confuse opinion or preference with fact, that too many people in this world render expert medical opinions or advice that aren’t backed up by anything factual – and that’s an excellent point.
Well... yes and no. Yes, it is an excellent point. But much more strongly No, because it should be self-evident that medicine, and physics, and chemistry and any other present-day empirical science is based on evidence, for it is totally obvious that it would not be an empirical science it if wasn't.

So I have always distrusted anyone who spoke or wrote in favour of "evidence based medicine": It is a pleonasm, that also strongly suggests that those who use it, in fact use it to deceive those they address.

Here is some more from
1 boring old man (who in fact is a pensioned psychiatrist):
But that’s not why it’s my least favorite term. It’s because it has been turned into a trick, a surrogate for the scientific method. And it has become an agent of harm.
I quite agree - except that I have immediately objected to the term, not because I had then any evidence that it is in fact "a surrogate for the scientific method", which I agree it is, but because it is a stupid pleonasm anyway, that also is not used for any other real science.

Here is some of the evidence 1 boring old man gives in his piece: This is part of a longer quotation from an article by Des Spence, called "Evidence based medicine is broken", that appeared in the British Medical Journal:

You see, without so called “evidence” there is no seat at the guideline table. This is the fundamental “commissioning bias,” the elephant in the room, because the drug industry controls and funds most research. So the drug industry and EBM have set about legitimising illegitimate diagnoses and then widening drug indications, and now doctors can prescribe a pill for every ill. The billion prescriptions a year in England in 2012, up 66% in one decade, do not reflect a true increased burden of illness nor an ageing population, just polypharmacy supposedly based on evidence. The drug industry’s corporate mission is to make us all sick however well we feel. As for EBM screening programmes, these are the combine harvester of wellbeing, producing bails of overdiagnosis and misery.

Corruption in clinical research is sponsored by billion dollar marketing razzmatazz and promotion passed off as postgraduate education.
And note - again - that in "evidence based medicine", as it is propelled by "evidence based" medical doctors, in actual fact "the drug industry controls and funds most research", and is very corrupt, with the cited evidence as a consequence: a 2/3rd increase of prescriptions, no doubt nearly all of expensive drugs, in a mere 10 years.

Trust your doctor?!
(You may - but he or she can't trust himself, given that much of his or her science has been poisoned by the pharmaceutical companies's riches).

7. Phoenix Rising 2013 Annual Report

Finally, another - more or less - medical theme, that I include because I am still being read by patients with ME:
This is written by Mark Berry, identified as the "Acting CEO of Phoenix Rising" and starts as follows:
Phoenix Rising’s board of directors and volunteers were faced with a daunting set of challenges at the start of 2013, following the departure of our founder Cort Johnson. With only a skeleton staff of volunteers, the tasks that lay ahead of us were to stabilize the organization’s finances and administration; to recruit a new team of writers, editors and publishers to provide content for the website; to continue running the world’s largest ME/CFS forums; and to preserve Phoenix Rising’s reputation as a reliable source of information and a well-moderated meeting point for the worldwide ME/CFS community.
I think most of that is more false or misleading than true - but I do not follow Phoenix Rising as I did in 2010, when I even made the mistake of being a member of it, for four months. Here is why I think so.

First, "
the departure of our founder Cort Johnson" was not so much a "departure" as an ousting, although I do not know any details, for both parties considered it much better to be secretive than transparent.

Actually, I think they did not miss much, and by removing him they made way for a better approach. (I am willing to agree that Cort Johnson is a fair and fairly productive writer, but also that he served as a bad leader.)

Second, the "
skeleton staff of volunteers" has been there all the time, in 2009, in 2010, in 2011 and in 2012, and the only thing I can say is that all the time I have been following Phoenix Rising it seemed to me that all the people I regarded as intelligent, as writing well, or as informed, seemed to be discriminated, both by the far greater group of ignorant persons, and also by such staff as Cort Johnson protected.

I do not know enough of the current Phoenix Rising to pronounce on its staff, except that the present moderator seems better than the ones I had, while I deplore the presence of so many Jody Smith articles. (But OK: she may be wildly admired by the lesser gifted.)

Third, I would guess that "
to stabilize the organization’s finances and administration" was an inheritance of Cort Johnson's behavior, but as long as the reasons to get rid of him are not clarified, this must remain a guess.

Fourth, "
to recruit a new team of writers, editors and publishers" also seems to me a bit of a misstatement: I would guess that the content of Phoenix Rising is mostly supplied by the readers.

Also, this is as it should be, even though I have not much of a taste for most that I've read there. Then again, some of it was useful, also for me.

Fifth, "to continue running the world’s largest ME/CFS forums" can't have been that much of a problem, since indeed it is the world largest ME/CFS forum, and it is mostly written by its members.

Sixth, "
to preserve Phoenix Rising’s reputation as a reliable source of information" seems to me to be a bit of a misstatement, given the huge amounts of uninformed nonsense I read on it, although I agree there is little to be done about that, given that the members do most of the writing, and few of the members have good qualifications (and those who do tend to be pushed out by the majority).

And this was just the first paragraph. I also should mention that Phoenix Rising, which has over 8500 members only has a 6 times larger pageview than my Danish site alone (which is the least visited of my 2 sites), even while my sites are the work of precisely 1 ill person, and are mostly about themes that interest only few (philosophy, logic, computing and ME).

But OK... enough criticism. I wish them well - but they are mostly not for me, and I do follow only one section on the site, and even there I mostly read the titles only.

And one of my reasons to wish them well is that I expect the coming year to be very difficult for patients with ME, especially in the United States and Great Britain.

Indeed, two reasons to pay considerably less attention to ME than I have done in 2010 and 2011 are that (1) the XMRV story turned out to be false (and possibly falsified, though I guess that never will be known), and that (2) I will be 65 next year, and anyway cannot be forced to work since 2011 - which is a risk many younger patients probably will face, very unfair though this nearly always is.

I am also afraid this may cause quite a few deaths, though I would be much relieved to be mistaken.


[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 machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komarof

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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