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Nederlog


  February
20, 2014
Crisis: Bishops, Merger, Unequal US, Journalists, Blunders, 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
















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Sections
Introduction

1. Bishops blame David Cameron for food bank crisis
2. The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Threatens Democracy
3. The United States of Poverty and Inequality
4. Authoritarian Regimes (Like the U.S. and Britain) Treat
     Reporters Like Terrorists

5. The Case for Blunders
6. Personal
About ME/CFS

Introduction:

This is yet another ordinary crisis file. I do not think it is very interesting, but I have to work with what I find rather than what I wish. Also, item 5 is not properly part of the crisis series, but does make an important point, while item 6 is a brief update about the updating of my site.

1. Bishops blame David Cameron for food bank crisis

The first article is by Nicholas Watt in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

David Cameron has been blamed by 27 Anglican bishops for creating a "national crisis" which has seen 500,000 people visit food banks since Easter last year.

In one of the most significant political interventions by leading members of the Church of England since the Faith in the City report in 1985, 25 of its bishops have blamed "cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system" for forcing people to use food banks. They are joined by two bishops from the Church in Wales, 14 Methodist districts chairs and two Quakers.

In an open letter published in the Daily Mirror on Thursday, the faith leaders write: "We must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions."

In one sense, this puts me in a quandary: I detest churches, but I also detest David Cameron, and indeed also detest Tony Blair. Then again, this is easily resolved: They are all rich people, but the Anglican bishops are not politicians (who always lie when in power, and who lately - since Blair - seem to be extraordinarily creepy if leaders), and they also are in the firm majority, and indeed would very probably not say so if it weren't true.

Besides, I know that the English have a rather crazy and quite unfair system of doles (that includes the name), and it also seems to me that Cameron and his cronies are fleecing the poor in their society in order to give what they fleeced to the rich.

And finally it is a damned shame that the poor have to go hungry in one of the richest societies there is. Indeed, the Anglican bishops agree with me (and with the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales):
The Anglican bishops express astonishment that people can be going hungry in the world's seventh richest country. They say that 500,000 people have visited food banks since Easter last year, 5,500 have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition and 20% of mothers are "skipping meals to better feed their children".
There is more in the last dotted link, but yes: David Cameron is to blame, and should go.

2. The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Threatens Democracy

The next article is by Amy Goodman, on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows:

Comcast has announced it intends to merge with Time Warner Cable, joining together the largest and second-largest cable and broadband providers in the country. The merger must be approved by both the Justice Department and the FCC. Given the financial and political power of Comcast, and the Obama administration’s miserable record of protecting the public interest, the time to speak out and organize is now.

“This is just such a far-reaching deal, it should be dead on arrival when it gets to the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission for approval,” Michael Copps told me days after the merger announcement. Copps was a commissioner on the FCC from 2001 to 2011, one of the longest-serving commissioners in the agency’s history. Now he leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause. “This is the whole shooting match,” he said. “It’s broadband. It’s broadcast. It’s content. It’s distribution. It’s the medium and the message. It’s telecom, and it’s media, too.” Back in 2011, when Comcast sought regulatory approval of its proposed acquisition of NBC Universal (NBCU), Copps was the sole “no” vote out of the five FCC commissioners.

There is considerably more, and indeed this seems to me a move that ought to be blocked. Then again, indeed you cannot leave that to Obama.

3. The United States of Poverty and Inequality

Next, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Over the last three decades the wealth of the nation's very richest 1% has grown ten times that of the average worker and over that time period that same tiny elite has captured more than half of the entire income increases, leaving the bottom 99% to divide the remaining gains.

This is all based on a new state-level study, The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, which looks at how inequality has seized hold of the national economy both in the generation leading up to the great recession of 2008 and in the several years following where a so-called "recovery" was experienced by the financial elite while the majority of U.S. population continues to claw its way back.

“The levels of inequality we are seeing across the country provide more proof that the economy is not working for the vast majority of Americans and has not for decades,” said Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center, who co-authored the report on behalf of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). “It is unconscionable that most of America’s families have shared in so little of the country’s prosperity over the last several decades.”

Note that (1) this is so all over the United States, although the percentages differ a bit, and (2) this is so since 1979: Everywhere everyone has done worse, except for the 1% who have done a lot better.

There is considerably more in the article, but its title is quite justified.

4. Authoritarian Regimes (Like the U.S. and Britain) Treat Reporters Like Terrorists

Next an article by Washongton's Blog:
This is cited from around the middle of the article:

Unfortunately, the American and British governments are doing the exact same thing.

The British High Court just ruled that Glenn Greenwald’s partner could be treated like a terrorist because he was trying to deliver leaked documents to reporters.

Amnesty International writes:

It is clearly deeply troubling if laws designed to combat terrorism can be used against those involved in reporting stories of fundamental public interest. There is no question the ruling will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the future.

Indeed, the British government considers the following activities to constitute terrorism:

The disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government [or] made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause.

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner satirically writes:

Relax, everyone. You’re not terrorists unless you try “to influence a government.” Just type what you’re told.

I will return, probably tomorrow, to the British court case against David Miranda, and to Glenn Greenwald's reaction to that.

Here I only point out that it does seem as if British judges did make the argument in the second quotation (although I am not quite certain of this yet), which means, if verified, that they hold that writing anything your government disagrees with is - if the government and the judges are British - sufficient proof that one is a terrorist.

That is insane, and Wizner's reply is about the only adequate reply to this level of gross insanity.

5.  The Case for Blunders

Next an article by Freeman Dyson in the New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:

Science consists of facts and theories. Facts and theories are born in different ways and are judged by different standards. Facts are supposed to be true or false. They are discovered by observers or experimenters. A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. One wrong fact is enough to ruin a career.

Theories have an entirely different status. They are free creations of the human mind, intended to describe our understanding of nature. Since our understanding is incomplete, theories are provisional. Theories are tools of understanding, and a tool does not need to be precisely true in order to be useful. Theories are supposed to be more-or-less true, with plenty of room for disagreement. A scientist who invents a theory that turns out to be wrong is judged leniently. Mistakes are tolerated, so long as the culprit is willing to correct them when nature proves them wrong.

Yes indeed - and this is one of the basic understandings of science that I acquired between 18 and 20, but that very few who did not get a good scientific education themselves, do acquire (with any rational understanding of what is involved).

In fact, empirical theories are never certainly and definitely true, except perhaps if they are very low-level and quite uninteresting, and they are (nearly) always at best probably true - and the probability often is difficult or impossible to be certain of.

Then again, if a theory can be made into technology and it works - think of aeroplanes, transistors, electric lamps, medical injections - the theory is still uncertain, but is much more probably mostly correct than not - though in fact very many theories cannot (yet or ever) be made into technology.

In any case, the quoted paragraphs also are the case for blunders, which is essentially this: Very often, a new theory is so completely uncertain that only experiments will decide whether it is probably true or probably false, and such experiments may be quite difficult to make.

The rest of the essay, which is in fact a book review of "Brilliant Blunders" by Mario Livio, is about some of the blunders (or "blunders") great scientists, including Einstein, have made.

6.  Personal


Actually, I had wanted to (re-)upload more of my site, where "re-uploading" means: refreshing materials that are there rather than adding new materials, but I got blocked again, mostly by complications and differences between what is on the site and what is on my hard disk.

Anyway... all I have for now is that I have not forgotten about re-uploading my site, which has happened now for the complete log-section and for Aristotle, but not for the rest of the site, and I will notify you in a section like this if I have done more of it, which I hope to do soon.
---------------------------------
Note
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that 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 one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the 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 Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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