29, 2014
Crisis+me+ME: Abu Ghraib, Guardian, "the people", internet, SCOTUS, me+ME
   "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

1. The Road From Abu Ghraib
2. Guardian wins three Webby awards
3. Demanding 'Just and Sustainable' Economy For All,
     Thousands March on Congress

4. To Save the Internet We Need to Own the Means of

5. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Chris Hedges’ Indefinite
     Detention Case

6. me+ME

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of April 29. It is a crisis issue, with a short bit on me+ME attached.

O, and there is nothing about Piketty today, which gives me the opportunity to say that I generally follow "the news" (as relayed by the best parts of the press and media), and that Piketty is an economist who got quite famous, with an argument that also seems mostly correct.

And no: I do not have favorite subjects, at least not in the
crisis series, which I also write mostly because almost no one else does it, at least in the sense I construe crisis: See Crisis + DSM-5: It's the deregulation, stupid! and Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis.

Since I am writing now in general terms, here are three related somewhat general considerations.

First, up till yesterday and since September 1, 2008, when the crisis series started, I wrote over 480 Nederlogs wholly or mostly on the
crisis, of which the first 81 are in Dutch, and the rest is in English. In terms of the subjects of the crisis - for me: the economy, health care, education, politics & civil law, public debate and the climate - I do not know what I wrote most about, except that the Snowden revelations and what is related to that, which I would place under politics & civil law, have been the last three quarter years definitely the most frequent.

Second, for those who think the crisis is a favorite subject: No. It is a frightening subject, especially seeing the apathy of so many (but 70% of the Americans are on prescription drugs, mostly anti-depressives, which certainly dispose to apathy, indifference and not caring), which is one reason to write about it, but I myself would much rather write about logic, philosophy, or (classic) literature, even though that draws fewer readers.

Third, I really know of very few who do anything much like I do. In part that is due to me being only one person, who also is ill, which means that, although I have fast internet since 2009, I certainly have seen (and can see) only a small fraction of what is available. On the other hand, I have looked rather carefully and have seen rather a lot the last nearly five years, and about the only ones I more often than not (!) agree with are Noam Chomsky (but I am probably not an anarchist [2]), Cenk Uygur (but I am more scientific), Abby Martin (but I am a lot older, and more philosophical), and the late George Carlin. [3]

Anyway... there is a little more in notes
[2] and [3]. Now to today's items.

1. The Road From Abu Ghraib

The first item is an article by Karen J. Greenberg on Truthdig, but original on Tomdispatch:
This is a fairly long - four pages - survey of torture as practised by the United States. It starts as follows:

It’s mind-boggling. Torture is still up for grabs in America. No one questions anymore whether the CIA waterboarded one individual 83 times or another 186 times. The basic facts are no longer in dispute either by those who champion torture or those who, like myself, despise the very idea of it. No one questions whether some individuals died being tortured in American custody.  (They did.) No one questions that it was a national policy devised by those at the very highest levels of government. (It was.)  But many, it seems, still believe that the torture policy, politely renamed in its heyday “the enhanced interrogation program,” was a good thing for the country.

Now, the nation awaits the newest chapter in the torture debate without having any idea whether it will close the book on American torture or open a path of pain and shame into the distant future. No one yet knows whether we will be allowed to awake from the nightmarish and unacceptable world of illegality and obfuscation into which torture and the network of offshore prisons, or “black sites,” plunged us all.

April 28th marks the tenth anniversary of the moment that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were made public in this country.  On that day a decade ago, the TV news magazine “60 Minutes II” broadcast the first photographs from that American-run prison in “liberated” Iraq. They showed U.S. military personnel humiliating, hurting, and abusing Iraqi prisoners in a myriad of perverse ways.  While American servicemen and women smiled and gave a thumbs up, naked men were threatened by dogs, or were hooded, forced into sexual positions, placed standing with wires attached to their bodies, or left bleeding on prison floors. 

Thus began America’s public odyssey with torture, a story in many chapters and still missing an ending. As the Abu Ghraib anniversary nears and the White House, the CIA, and various senators still battle over the release of a summary of a 6,300-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Bush-era torture policies, it’s worth considering the strange journey we’ve taken and wondering just where we as a nation mired in the legacy of torture might be headed.

Yes indeed, and you may do so by reading all of this article, which is quite good, and by the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law.

2. Guardian wins three Webby awards 

The next item is an article by Mark Sweney on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The Guardian has picked up three Webby awards for work including interactive coverage of the NSA files and a video report on the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar.

Guardian News & Media, the publisher of the Guardian and Observer and network, collected three of 22 Webbys awarded to UK companies.

The Guardian's NSA Files: Decoded, which gave web users a chance to learn what Edward Snowden's revelations about mass government surveillance might mean for them, won the Webby in the best practices category.

GNM also won two Webbys for online video in the news and drama categories.

The main reasons this is here are that I like the Guardian (much more than any Dutch daily, also) and that I think the awards are deserved.

There is more under the last dotted link.

3.  Demanding 'Just and Sustainable' Economy For All, Thousands March on Congress

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In an expression of a "new populist" energy, thousands of demonstrators shut down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC on Monday as they demanded a livable wage and an end to the corporate domination of the national economy and politics.

Under the banner "Battle for the Capitol," marchers carried puppets of corporate lobbyists swarming a 10-foot high replica of the Capitol Building as they blasted rising inequality in America and the outsized influence of big money during elections and in the halls of Congress.

The protesters chanted: "Whose streets? Our streets!"

"This is what the New Populist Movement looks like," tweeted James Mumm of the group National People's Action, which along with the Restaraunt Opportunities Center and the National Domestic Workers Association, organized the protest.

It is something - but "thousands" is not much in a nation of over 300 million. Even so, I agree with the end of a just and sustainable economy for all.

4.  To Save the Internet We Need to Own the Means of Distribution

The next item is an article by David Morris on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
With the announcement by the FCC that cable and telephone companies will be allowed to prioritize access to their customers only one option remains that can guarantee an open internet: owning the means of distribution.

Thankfully an agency exists for this. Local government. Owning the means of distribution is a traditional function of local government. We call our roads and bridges and water and sewer pipe networks public infrastructure for a reason.

In the 19th century local and state governments concluded that the transportation of people and goods was so essential to a modern economy that the key distribution system must be publicly owned. In the 21st century the transportation of information is equally essential.

When communities own their roads they can and have established the rules of the road. The most fundamental and ubiquitous is what might be called road neutrality. Everyone has equal access regardless whether they drive a Ford or a Chevy, a jeep or a moped.
From the rest of the article, it follows that indeed this may still be possible in quite a few of the US communities. Whether it will work? (I like the idea, with some provisos, but since the Dutch Blairite careerist posturer Wim Kok reformed Dutch Labour in the nineties, he also gave most of the publicly owned institutions into private hands "because that is good for the economy". So in Holland this is probably not possible anymore, at least not without a revolution.)

5. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Chris Hedges’ Indefinite Detention Case

Finally, a report on the outcome of the appeal of Chris Hedges and others:
This starts as follows:

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges and other plaintiffs the right to challenge a law that allows the U.S. military to indefinitely detain people alleged or suspected to have helped al-Qaida or the Taliban.

A milestone in the so-called war on terror, the decision leaves the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) intact. The provision was ruled unconstitutional in 2012 by a federal court in New York after Hedges v. Obama was filed in January of that year, but that decision was overturned by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the summer of 2013.

Note that Hedges co-plaintiffs included Ellsberg, Chomsky and West, while what they complained about, which seems to me much like a Nazi-law (that also killed my grandfather and imprisoned my father for more than 3 years and 9 months in German concentration camps), was utterly illegal, 13 and more years ago.

There's also this:

Reuters reports:

The appeals court said the challengers had no standing because they could not show the provision has any bearing on the government’s authority to detain U.S. citizens.

The court said the plaintiffs who were not U.S. citizens lacked standing to sue because they did not show “a sufficient threat that the government will detain them” under the provision.

The first paragraph is complete nonsense: it does bear on the government's authority to detain U.S. citizens, and besides, who objects to public intellectuals taking up the rights of non-US citizens? The appeals court of the U.S., showing that the law protects the state much rather than the citizens (whose interests the state once was supposed to serve).

The second paragraph is complete nonsense, even if true: If the government would detain them - indefinitely, on some hidden place, without benefit of a lawyer - they could not protest either, and be heard.

6. me+ME

I have said that I went down from 4 metafolate a day - together 3200 mcg - to 3, but in fact it very soon became 2, which is 1600 mcg. The reason is that I have had some nights of considerable pain in my legs, especially, which were probably due to some disproportion in the supplements I take, and especially too little potassium.

It is quite a bit better now, and there will be a fuller report on Thursday or Friday.

[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.)

[2] My writing that "I am probably not an anarchist" is due to the fact that I know there are a lot of anarchisms, and I do not know all of them. But I am not a socialist, and many anarchists seem to be a lot more optimistic about the average of mankind than I am, who likes to see them have 50 more IQ points, at least, than they have, though I know that is an irrealistic desire. (And no: my background is a poor proletarian one, albeit also a communist one, which is one reason I have few illusions to loose about the underprivileged.)

[3] By and large most of my differences with most people about politics have to do with my communist and proletarian background, which gives me a different background from almost anybody else, especially because I gave up on communism when many of my generation pretended to be communists, but did not give up on the morals of my parents, which most of my generation never even understood, and next with my very strong grounding in philosophy of science, logic and mathematics, which again gives me a quite different perspective than almost all who are "politically active" (who rarely are interested in science, alas).

As to the four persons I mentioned: They are all four considerably more intelligent than the vast majority, which is one reason to like them, at least for me, for I think that intelligence is quite important, and that most people simply are not intelligent. I have written some about the men on the list (though probably not enough, and certainly not about Chomsky) so here is only a bit about Abby Martin: I know of her only because she spoke out about the Ukraine on RT, where she has a daily program called "Breaking the set", so I do not know much about her, but she is intelligent and I do like her choices, without agreeing with all of them. (Also she looks like a girlfriend I lived with for 5 years, when I was around the age she is now, before she was born, but that is hardly relevant, though a bit odd for me.)

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)

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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