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Nederlog


  May
1, 2014
Crisis: GCHQ, Republicans, Warren, Stevens, SCOTUS, Health, BASIC, M.E.
   "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
Sections
Introduction

1. British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data
     Pools

2. Senate Republicans block minimum wage bill
3. Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren Discusses Her New Book,
     Thomas Piketty and the Disappearing Middle Class

4.
'Money is Not Speech': Retired Justice Stevens Slams
     Dark Money Rulings

5. Supreme Court Refuses to Uphold the Constitution:
     Allows Indefinite Detention

6. The Pervasiveness of Health Care Corruption as Shown by
     Another Roundup of Legal Settlements

7. Thank you, Basic: developers remember 50 years of
     creative coding

8. First Direct Evidence of Neuroinflammation –
     ‘Encephalitis’ – in ME/CFS

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the second Nederlog of May 1. It is a crisis issue. The previous Nederlog of today contains - among other things - my explanation of a songtext of Frank Zappa from 1968, that I think is interesting.

This Nederlog has 8 items, of which the first six are about the crisis; the seventh is about a programming language, that I liked as Applebasic and as Free Basic; and the last is a medical finding on the disease I have now for 36 years.

Anyway - there are two Nederlogs today, together 92.7 Kb, which is more than I wrote in a long time, on this Day of Labor (but not all was written by me: considerable parts were copied, but even so) and I also cycled an hour, so some things are going fairly well, and I am feeling fairly pleased.

More tomorrow on my health: I changed the protocol again, though not very much.

1. British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools

The first item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on First Look:
This starts as follows:

Britain’s electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency’s massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA’s vast troves of private communications and sought “unsupervised access” to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA’s table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb.

The document, dated April 2013, reveals that GCHQ requested broad new authority to tap into data collected under a law that authorizes a variety of controversial NSA surveillance initiatives, including the PRISM program.

PRISM is a system used by the NSA and the FBI to obtain the content of personal emails, chats, photos, videos, and other data processed by nine of the world’s largest internet companies, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Skype. The arrangement GCHQ proposed would also have provided the British agency with greater access to millions of international phone calls and emails that the NSA siphons directly from phone networks and the internet.

And this is the end - where there is a lot in between that I have all skipped - and "they" are the top of the GCHQ, while Huppert is a Lib Dem MP:

“It is now obvious that they were trying to deliberately mislead the committee,” Huppert told The Intercept. “They very clearly did not give us all the information that we needed.”

Decrying the process as a “good example of how governments should not behave,” the Liberal Democrat parliamentarian is calling for significant reform of the U.K.’s current surveillance regime.

“I want to see much greater clarity on how we have oversight, because it is currently not fit for purpose,” he says. “We need much more transparency about what is happening. And we need to revise our laws, because our laws clearly have too many loopholes in them.”

For more, use the last dotted link.

2. Senate Republicans block minimum wage bill 

The next item is an article by Paul Lewis on The Guardian:

This starts as follows - and remember people like Jamie Dimon take home 20 million dollars a year, apart from bonuses, while many CEOs earn 350 times more than ordinary workers:

President Barack Obama sought to revive the electoral fortunes of his Democratic party on Wednesday, saying a decision by Republicans to oppose an increase to the federal minimum wage showed they were out of step with voters, who he said would have "the last word".

Obama spoke at the White House three hours after Senate Republicans blocked the passage of a Democratic bill to increase the federal minimum that a US employer can pay for one hour’s work to $10.10.

A vote to debate the legislation was 54-42 in favour, but failed to reach the required 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster that prevented the bill from proceeding further. All Republicans except for one voted to block the legislation.

There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, but this seems to me sufficient to see which interests the GOP serve: those of the rich.

3. Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren Discusses Her New Book, Thomas Piketty and the Disappearing Middle Class

The next item is an article by Lynn Stuart Parramore on AlterNet:

Actually, most of this is an interview, that is mostly due to Warren's new book, A Fighting Chance. Here is one bit from it:
LP: French economist Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the 21st Century has struck a nerve with its focus on growing inequality. How does Piketty’s research connect with your own writing and research about the forces operating against ordinary people?
 
EW: Thomas Piketty assembles the facts to prove a central point about trickle-down economics: Doesn't work. Never did. He has cold, hard data showing how the rich keep getting richer and how the playing field is rigged against working families. But he also shows that government policies to invest in the middle class and help everyone have opportunities can make a real difference. My research has led me to the same conclusions, and I agree strongly with him.
 
LP: One of the key themes in your book is that the system is rigged, and that bankers and plutocrats are doing the rigging. How can our elected representatives effectively challenge these forces within a system that depends so heavily on their contributions?
 
EW: I've seen Washington up close for years now, as I talk about in the book. What I've learned is that real change is very, very hard. But I've also learned that change is possible -- IF you fight for it. We learned that in the fight for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  I remember when everyone thought that idea was just a pipe dream. But we got out there, we organized, and we fought for it. Now there's a new consumer agency that has already returned $3 billion to families that were cheated.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

4. 'Money is Not Speech': Retired Justice Stevens Slams Dark Money Rulings

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

This starts as follows - and John Paul Stevens (<- Wikipedia) is a retired judge of the Supreme Court:
"Money is not speech."

That was the argument presented by former Supreme Court Justice John Stevens as he attacked the high court's recent ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which crippled campaign finance limits, during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on Wednesday.

"While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech. Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by campaign contributions and expenditures. Those financial activities should not receive precisely the same constitutional protections as speech itself," Stevens said. "After all, campaign funds were used to finance the Watergate burglary, actions that clearly were not protected by the First Amendment."

The retired justice made a rare appearance before Congress to champion a proposed constitutional amendment, put forth by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), that would grant Congress the authority to regulate campaign finance, limiting the ability of super PACs to impact elections.

Yes, indeed. There is more under the last dotted link, including an explanation of how the Supreme Court confused money and speech (quite intentionally, in my view: Clearly "Money is not speech", and you do not need to have the education of supreme court judges to know that).

5. Supreme Court Refuses to Uphold the Constitution: Allows Indefinite Detention

The next item is  an article by Washington's Blog, on another quite crazy Supreme Court decision:
This starts as follows, with coloring and bolding in the original:

“We Are No Longer a Nation Ruled By Laws”

Pulitzer prize winning reporter Chris Hedges – along with journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, activist  Tangerine Bolen and others – sued the government to join the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans.

The trial judge in the case asked the government attorneys 5 timeswriting about bad guys. whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then

The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.

The trial judge ruled that the indefinite detention bill was unconstitutional.  But the court of appeal overturned that decision, based upon the assumption that limited the NDAA to non-U.S. citizens (...)

However:

The court of appeal ignored the fact that the co-sponsors of the indefinite detention law said it does apply to American citizens, and that top legal scholars agree.

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the case, thus blessing and letting stand the indefinite detention law stand unchanged.

Which means according to Chris Hedges (and I think he is right):

If [the indefinite detention law] stands it will mean, as [the trial judge] pointed out in her 112-page opinion, that whole categories of Americans—and here you can assume dissidents and activists—will be subject to seizure by the military and indefinite and secret detention.

Also without any trial. There is the latest American "justice" or you! Anyway... there is considerably more under the last dotted link.

6. The Pervasiveness of Health Care Corruption as Shown by Another Roundup of Legal Settlements

The next item is  an article by Roy M. Poses MD on Health Care Renewal:
This starts as follows:
Legal settlements are one way to document unethical and even corrupt behavior by large health care organizations, even if they may not deter bad behavior in the future.  It is time for another roundup of settlements by large pharmaceutical and device companies, presented in alphabetical order
He next considers Abbott Laboratories, Baxter International, Endo Health Solutions, Hospira, and Pfizer, all with texts detailing how they paid some of their profit back to retain the rest and run off without any further consequences.

Then Roy Poses summarizes:
So it is all drearily familiar.  Big health care organizations seem to repeatedly engage in deceptive marketing, providing kickbacks to health professionals, fraudulent billing, anti-competitive practices, etc, etc.  These practices increase health care costs, and may risk patients' health and safety.  Many of these practices are corrupt, at least according to the Transparency International definition of corruption, "abuse of entrusted power for private gain."  Drug and device companies, for example, are entrusted to provide safe and effective products.  Deceptive marketing, kickbacks to health professionals to encourage overuse, and cutting quality control to cut costs all seem to be examples of abuse of this entrusted power.  The private gain obviously goes to any managers and executives who score bigger bonuses due to the increases in revenue that result. 

Yet there are very few examples of any individuals who gained ever being subject to any negative consequences.  Given that lack, and the lack of any requirement for corporate leaders to admit responsibility, much less guilt, is it any surprise that these practices go on and on.  The failure of current limp legal efforts against such corruption is evident by how many corporations have become ethical repeat offenders.
Yes, indeed. There is more in the summary, and considerably more in the text, under the last dotted link, but here is his last paragraph:
So, to really deter bad behavior, those who authorized, directed or implemented bad behavior must be held accountable. As long as they are not, expect the bad behavior to continue.
Indeed.

7. Thank you, Basic: developers remember 50 years of creative coding

The next item is  an article by Jemima Kiss on The Guardian:
This starts as follows, and is about a programming language - and "BASIC" abbreviates "Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code", while I also added the reference to the Wikipedia article on Kemeny:
It is 50 years since Prof John Kemeny and a student created the programming language Basic at 4am in a New Hampshire basement at Dartmouth College. Their aim was to design a tool that would improve computer literacy in education, a simple, accessible language that anyone could learn quickly and easily.
Actually, I started with Algol and Fortran in 1972, when I worked briefly for a computer science business, that send out programmers for mainframes, but I didn't like the atmosphere there (which was greedy), and programming for mainframes was also something quite different from what it became later on PCs.

BASIC I first met in 1980, when a friend bought an Apple II which ran Apple Basic, and stored the programs and anything else on tape decks, and did little else, but this was quite instructive and productive.

Then I met it again in the guise of Gwbasic on Windows, in the beginning of 1988, but that was rather awful compared to Apple Basic, and also I soon found Turbo Pascal and then Turbo Prolog, which were very much better than anything Gwbasic could do.

Since then there have been quite a few Basics, of which I have used Free Basic, but it is not a favorite programming language for me, though I really liked Apple Basic.

It is rather amazing it still is around, but indeed it is rather simple and it was well thought out (and afterward redesigned some, in several ways).

There is more under the last dotted link, including five testimonials by others.

8.
First Direct Evidence of Neuroinflammation – ‘Encephalitis’ – in ME/CFS

Finally an article by Simon McGrath on Phoenix Rising:
This starts as follows:
A small study with just nine patients has captured the attention of patients and researchers alike after reporting direct evidence of inflammation in the brain of ME/CFS patients. The finding was one of the highlights picked out by Professor Anthony Komaroff in his IACFS/ME conference round up.
And it continues thus:

What makes this study so fascinating is that it provides tantalising evidence supporting not only of current views that inflammation in the brain is central to understanding the disease, but also of Melvin Ramsay’s original name of ‘myalgic encephalomyelitis‘.

Encephalomyelitis is inflammation of the brain and spinal column, and critics of the name pointed to the lack of direct evidence for inflammation of either. This study only looked at the brain, not the spinal column (so could only find encephalitis), but the immune cells found to be activated in the brain are also present in the spinal column.

There is considerably more, but it would be very nice if this were replicated.
If it is, this is good news for the millions with my disease.
---------------------------------
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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