January 20, 2014

Crisis: Hedges, NYT, Nakedcapitalism, ME/CFS marker, 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.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next  

What Obama Really Meant Was ...
2. Obama’s Changes to Government Surveillance
3. Obama’s NSA Speech: Review Without Review, Reform
     Without Reform

4. Deficient EBV-Specific B- and T-Cell Response in Patients
     with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

5. Personal

About ME/CFS


And this is yet another
crisis file, that was written three days after Obama's speech on the NSA. There is a lot less than yesterday, namely three instead of nine crisis files, but the first, by Chris Hedges, is quite good (except that 4 of the 5 pages are considerably more difficult to read, on my recent Firefox, than is the first page).

The fourth file is on the disease I have for 35+ years now, which is ME/CFS, that started in the case of my ex and me, as is also quite common but certainly not always the case, by an EBV-infection. This seems a good paper, that also suggests a marker may have been found.

The fifth file is a very brief personal bit.

1. What Obama Really Meant Was ...

To start with, an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This is in fact what president Obama would have said, if he had told the truth, or at least what Chris Hedges thinks he would have said. Actually, I do not think Obama would or could have spoken as clearly as Hedges writes, but here are some selections, which are quite good - and I quote more than I otherwise would, because, at least for me, four of the five pages are not easy to read.

It starts thus:
THE PRESIDENT: A small, secret surveillance committee of goons and thugs hiding behind the mask of patriotism was established in 1908 in Washington, D.C. The group was led from 1924 until 1972 by J. Edgar Hoover, and during his reign it became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI agents spied upon and infiltrated labor unions, political parties, radical groups—especially those led by African-Americans—anti-war groups and the civil rights movement in order to discredit anyone, including politicians such as Henry Wallace, who questioned the power of the state and big business. Agents burglarized homes and offices, illegally opened mail and planted unlawful wiretaps. Bureau leaders created blacklists. They destroyed careers and sometimes lives. They demanded loyalty oaths. By the time they were done, our progressive and radical movements, which had given us the middle class and opened up our political system, were dead. And while the FBI was targeting internal dissidents, our foreign intelligence operatives were overthrowing regimes, bankrolling some of the most vicious dictators on the planet and carrying out assassinations in numerous countries, such as Cuba and the Philippines and later Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think this is fairly correct, but reality is nearly always more complicated than one thinks it is. Thus, while "goons and thugs hiding behind the mask of patriotism" probably is correct for a considerable segment of the FBI, there also were some honest patriots involved.

Then again, this is satire. There is a lot more - 5 pages in all, of which the remaining 4 are again without paragraphing and printed in a small column, with a reference to "a help-system" by "" that is totally unhelpful - and I will only select a few bits, that interest me for some reason, and first this:
World War II—which consumed more than 50 million lives and saw 110,000 Japanese-Americans hauled away to internment camps and atomic bombs dropped on defenseless civilians—doubled wartime corporate profits from the First World War.
My point here is that in Holland alone, between 1941 and 1945, more than 116,000 Dutch Jews were murdered (not "merely" locked up); they were manipulated into their deaths by the (great-)grandfathers of the sick and degenerate narko-nazis who refused to protect me nearly four years against their illegal drugsdealers, while in Holland after the war not one prominent Nazi-collaborator ever had to face a court - and nearly all judges had turned Nazi, under the Nazis, and then turned back to Dutchmen, when the Nazis lost the war, because they were helped by the Nazi-collaborator and judge of the Dutch Nazi-collaborating Supreme Court Donner, who is the grandfather of the former Minister of Justice Donner, who protected the yearly billions of dollars of deals just in soft drugs in Holland.

As the Dutch very proudly say: "In which a small country can show itself big!"

Next, there is - and I am skipping - this:
Throughout this evolution [of secret surveillance capabilities - MM], Americans were steadily shorn of their most basic constitutional rights and their traditions of limited government. U.S. intelligence agencies were always anchored in a system of secrecy—with little effective oversight from either elected leaders or ordinary citizens.
Yes. President Obama is also, like many journalists, proud to say that this is as it should be, but he is lying: A secret service that is not carefully and regularly checked and controlled by persons who have nothing to do with it's practices and nothing to gain from it (such as Senators) is a sick secret service, and is so also if all secret servicemen want to do their jobs without any control.

Here is Senator Church, quoted from the Wikipedia article on him, that introduces his words as follows - and all of the rest but the first brief paragraph is Church's text:
More specifically on August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's "Meet the Press" without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency:
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
And that was in 1975! Clearly, the US under Obama has crossed that abyss, proudly also, and with little opposition from the civilian population.

Next, there is this, which I think is quite correct:
To obtain your personal information, the FBI can now freely issue “national security letters” to your bank, doctor, employer or public library or any of your associates without a judicial warrant. And you will never be notified of an investigation. We can collect and store in perpetuity all metadata of your email correspondence and phone records and track your geographical movements. We can assassinate you if I decide you are a terrorist. We can order the military under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act to arrest you, strip you of due process and hold you indefinitely in military detention centers. We can continue to throw into prison those who expose the illegality of what we are doing, or force them into exile, as all totalitarian secret police forces from the SS to the KGB to the East German Stasi have done. And we can torture.
And there is this, also quite correct:
To quash competitors of American companies, we spy on corporations in Brazil, including Brazil’s biggest oil company, Petrobras, and on corporations in Germany and France. We also steal information from the leaders of many countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal cellphone we tapped. (...) We spied successfully on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in addition to Pope Francis and the conclave that elected him last March. Senior U.N. officials and Roman Catholic cardinals are highly susceptible to recruitment by al-Qaida. The reasons are classified. I won’t share them with you. Believe me.
And there is this on the "Review Group" (most of the recommendations of which were not followed):
Over the last six months, I created an outside Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to make recommendations for reform. This group is led by the same intelligence chiefs who carry out the abuses.
As to the trust Obama always requires:
Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say “trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect.” History has too many examples of such trust being breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power. And that is why Congress and our courts have rewritten our laws, from the NDAA to the FISA Amendment Act, to strip you of legal protection.
As to the type of persons Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are, there is this:
As president I understand, as do Bill and Hillary, that political power is about us, not about you. I know where power in this country lies. It does not lie with the citizen. It lies with Wall Street and corporate boardrooms. And since my vanity demands that I be famous, wealthy and powerful, I work hard for these centers of power. None of these centers of power want to see any curbs on the security and surveillance state. And so I will make sure there are none.
As a presidential candidate in 2008 I promised to “reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” I promised to close our detention center in Guantanamo Bay. I said I would revisit the Patriot Act. I told you I would overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued by the Bush administration. I said I would shut down our black sites. And I promised an end to extraordinary rendition. I told you as president last summer that the NSA “cannot target your emails” and that all of our surveillance programs were subject to the full control of Congress.
Which is to say: Obama lied, lied, lied, lied, lied and lied. And yes, he clearly did, very intentionally also.

Next, there is this on the need for the bulk collection of phone records:

This brings me to the program that has generated the most controversy these past few months—the bulk collection of telephone records under Section 215. Why is this necessary? It is necessary because in a totalitarian state the secret police must gather information not to solve crimes but, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, “to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.” We need all of your emails, phone conversations, Web searches and geographical movements for “evidence” should we decide to seize you.
Yes, and that always was the point and is the point.

Anyway - there is a lot more, and it is over five pages, but as I said, all but the first page are printed in small columns, without paragraphing and in small letters, all as if it should rather not be read - which also is my reason to quote more than I would have done otherwise.

But I do not know how this is for others - I am on Linux with the latest Firefox, and everything else works.

2.  Obama’s Changes to Government Surveillance

Next, an article by Josh Keller, Alicia Parlapiano, David E. Sanger and Charlie Savage in the New York Times:

This you can check out yourself, but here is my summary:

Obama did not address most key issues, while all the decisions he has taken are, no doubt intentionally, extremely ambiguous.

That is, the whole speech was pure propaganda, and any reforms were at best (!) cosmetic and ambiguous.

3.  Obama’s NSA Speech: Review Without Review, Reform Without Reform 

Next, an article by Hugh on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:

Obama’s speech on intelligence gathering was the full-on horsesh*t performance many of us thought it would be.

Obama began with a revisionist, some might say tortured, reworking of American history which placed the NSA in the tradition of Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty. I guess what they say is true, that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels and Obama’s wrapping the NSA’s war on the Constitution up in the flag certainly qualifies.

It is a good article, but I will quote only two further bits from it. First, there is this on US presidents, which is in fact a quotation from an interview that Bill Moyers had in 2008 with Andrew Bacevich:

BILL MOYERS: Do you expect either John McCain or Barack Obama to rein in the “imperial presidency?”

ANDREW BACEVICH: No. I mean, people run for the presidency in order to become imperial presidents. The people who are advising these candidates, the people who aspire to be the next national security advisor, the next secretary of defense, these are people who yearn to exercise those kind of great powers.

I think that is quite right. And this is the last but one paragraph:

This was one of Obama’s longer speeches. I think its length indicates the importance that he attaches to surveillance. The lack of real, specific content, and the failure to acknowledge Edward Snowden and the serious institutional problems he raised demonstrate that this is not about reform but damage control. Finally, the question not raised or addressed at all is why our political classes feel the need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a surveillance/police state aimed at everyone everywhere, including all Americans’ electronic communications, yet ostensibly directed against foreign terrorists, even though it has never caught one. Is it as simple as the totalitarian belief that information is power and total information equates to total power?

Yes indeed: It is all very totalitarian, and while total information does not equate to total power, it certainly is a necessary precondition for those who want total power, and who now also have it, in principle, with special thanks to president Obama (and his predecessor).

4. Deficient EBV-Specific B- and T-Cell Response in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Next, to a quite different subject, namely that of having ME/CFS (I still do not like the "CFS" bit, but I attach it for the benefit of search machines) that started with EBV, which is the case of myself and my ex.

I found this on Niceguidelines:
All there is on Niceguidelines is an abstract, which I reproduce because it interests me, though it probably interests few others, and the boldings are mine:
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has long been discussed as a possible cause or trigger of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). In a subset of patients the disease starts with infectious mononucleosis and both enhanced and diminished EBV-specific antibody titers have been reported. In this study, we comprehensively analyzed the EBV-specific memory B- and T-cell response in patients with CFS. While we observed no difference in viral capsid antigen (VCA)-IgG antibodies, EBV nuclear antigen (EBNA)-IgG titers were low or absent in 10% of CFS patients. Remarkably, when analyzing the EBV-specific memory B-cell reservoir in vitro a diminished or absent number of EBNA-1- and VCA-antibody secreting cells was found in up to 76% of patients. Moreover, the ex vivo EBV-induced secretion of TNF-α and IFN-γ was significantly lower in patients. Multicolor flow cytometry revealed that the frequencies of EBNA-1-specific triple TNF-α/IFN-γ/IL-2 producing CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets were significantly diminished whereas no difference could be detected for HCMV-specific T-cell responses. When comparing EBV load in blood immune cells, we found more frequently EBER-DNA but not BZLF-1 RNA in CFS patients compared to healthy controls suggesting more frequent latent replication. Taken together, our findings give evidence for a deficient EBV-specific B- and T-cell memory response in CFS patients and suggest an impaired ability to control early steps of EBV reactivation. In addition the diminished EBV response might be suitable to develop diagnostic marker in CFS.
But there also is a link to the whole paper, that I meanwhile downloaded and read once, more or less diagonally:
The reason I read it "more or less diagonally" is simply that it is heavy going, which is not a criticism.

I do think this is quite interesting, and probably will return to it later: It would be very nice if at least a diagnostic marker could be established, and the sooner the better.

5. Personal

In fact, this Nederlog is uploaded fairly early and was written while I was very tired, because I slept very little last night, without knowing why. But this will probably be better tomorrow, for I have slept fairly decently since September last.



[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)[2]

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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