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Nederlog


  May
3, 2014
Crisis: Snowden, Merkel, Obama, Economics, Internet, Drugs Resistant
   "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. Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower
     Edward Snowden

2. US and Germany remain frosty amid awkward visit from
     Merkel

3. White House seeks legal immunity for firms that hand
     over customer data

4. Why Economics Failed
5. How to Keep the Internet Open and Free
6. WHO calls for urgent action to preserve power of
     antibiotics and make new ones


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of May 3. It is a crisis issue.

There are six items with six dotted links. And mind that, while I 
am here not  summarizing today, the last item is a crisis item: there are fewer and fewer drugs that work against the more and more resistant germs of disease, and there is little hope from the pharmaceutical corporations.

1. Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden

The first item is an article by Associated Press on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.

“It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.”
He did so in a video that was shown in a public debate between general Michael Hayden and lawyer Alan Dershowitz on one side, and journalist Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanan, who co-founded Reddit, on the other side.

The place was Toronto, Canada, and the issue was "
Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms." Also, the debate was lost by Hayden and Dershowitz, in the sense that prior to the debate 46% voted against it, and after the debate 59% of the audience was against.

I must say that I think it is good that the issues are - still - publicly debated, and also good that Haynes and Dershowitz were convincingly beaten.

There is considerably more in the article, but I will quote just one more piece:

“What is state surveillance?” Greenwald asked. “If it were about targeting in a discriminate way against those causing harm, there would be no debate.

“The actual system of state surveillance has almost nothing to do with that. What state surveillance actually is, is defended by the NSA's actual words, that phrase they use over and over again: 'Collect it all.’ ”

Dershowitz and Hayden spent the rest of the 90 minutes of the debate denying that the pervasive surveillance systems described by Snowden and Greenwald even exist and that surveillance programs are necessary to prevent terrorism.

“Collect it all doesn't mean collect it all!” Hayden said, drawing laughter.

I take it this shows how utterly ridiculous Haynes's and Dershowitz's argument is, and also that Greenwald's position is reasonable: He is not against surveillance of persons on probable cause; he is against surveillance of all, as is happening now, albeit it still mostly in secret.

Also, I want to add one more thing, to clarify:

Surveillance of all has almost nothing to do with preventing terrorism, and it never had. "Terrorism" was always a pretext: The point is that surveillance of all gives inccredible power to the very few men and women who control the government, and it gives such enormous extra-ordinary power - the few who rule know everything about anyone - as not even the Stasi or the KGB could dream of.

And as Lord Acton observed:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are  almost always bad men."
The powers implicit in surveillance of all are FAR greater than any power any state has ever had, and it is therefore not surprising that these powers are extremely corrupting, and secret, and have been covered by very many lies and by very well-trained liars.

2.  US and Germany remain frosty amid awkward visit from Merkel 

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

This starts as follows:

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s first visit to the White House since the revelation that her calls were bugged by the National Security Agency was never going to be easy.

But Merkel could not have known how quite how awkward her appearance with US president Barack Obama would be. And no one could have anticipated the unfortunate role that, once again, American technology would play in Merkel's public humiliation.

In fact, what happened, thanks to American technology, that has worked well for nearly a century, was this:

But as soon as the event began, it was evident that Merkel, who rarely speaks English in public, was placed at a considerable disadvantage by White House headphones provided to reporters – and the world leaders – for simultaneous translation.

Obama’s remarks were clear. But when Merkel spoke, she was barely audible over a suspicious, crackling noise. Bemused reporters tapped their headsets, wondering aloud if they were listening to something they shouldn’t.

So here one has to ask: Was this accidental or did it happen on purpose?

Here is a bit from the Wikipedia article "Film":

By 1930, silent film was practically extinct in the US and already being referred to as "the old medium".

Of course, sounds were recorded considerably before that, but it is now 85 years ago that silent films had nearly completely disappeared.

I conclude it is more probable than not that the very bad quality of Merkel's speech was engineered, rather than due to a - quite strange - fluke, and it was engineered to assure that she would not be able to say anything clear and audible about surveillance, of herself, of the Germans, or of anyone else.

This must be a mere probability, but that is the weight of the available evidence, also seeing this:

Berlin had been delaying Merkel’s visit to Washington for months, saying she would not come until trust was restored and demanding the two countries agree a mutual “no-spy agreement”. Merkel also wanted to discover what, exactly, was in her personal NSA file.

Both requests were rebuffed. Instead, Merkel will return home with something called a “cyber dialogue”. In other words: the US won't budge an inch, but has agreed to keep talking.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link. I think Ms Merkel has been shown her place by the governors of the US, which may have been quite unwise.

3. White House seeks legal immunity for firms that hand over customer data 

The next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The White House has asked legislators crafting competing reforms of the National Security Agency to provide legal immunity for telecommunications firms that provide the government with customer data, the Guardian has learned.

In a statement of principles privately delivered to lawmakers some weeks ago to guide surveillance reforms, the White House said it wanted legislation protecting “any person who complies in good faith with an order to produce records” from legal liability for complying with court orders for phone records to the government once the NSA no longer collects the data in bulk.

The brief request, contained in a four-page document, echoes a highly controversial provision of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that allowed the NSA to access calls and call data between Americans and foreigners, voiding lawsuits against them. Barack Obama’s vote for that bill as a senator and presidential candidate disappointed many supporters.

Let me start with noting, once more, that global surveillance is illegal by the Fourth Amendment - but this does not bother Obama and his government, for they, and their successors, can get far more power over their population than anyone ever had, and they also have many lawyers and politicians and generals very willing to lie, and deceive, and play word games of any kind, as long as the surveillance continues and is as secret as possible.

The present article is about one of the things that keeps this going, and seeks to provide legal immunity to any provider who breaks the law by handing over records they have of private personal data to the government.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but that is what it is about:

If you cannot get it legally, get it illegally, meanwhile insisting that “Collect it all doesn't mean collect it all!” and promiss legal immunity to anyone who helps collecting all, while publicly denying he does.

4. Why Economics Failed

The next item is an article by economist Paul Krugman on the New York Times:

This starts as follows:

On Wednesday, I wrapped up the class I’ve been teaching all semester: “The Great Recession: Causes and Consequences.” (Slides for the lectures are available via my blog.) And while teaching the course was fun, I found myself turning at the end to an agonizing question: Why, at the moment it was most needed and could have done the most good, did economics fail?

I don’t mean that economics was useless to policy makers. On the contrary, the discipline has had a lot to offer. While it’s true that few economists saw the crisis coming — mainly, I’d argue, because few realized how fragile our deregulated financial system had become, and how vulnerable debt-burdened families were to a plunge in housing prices — the clean little secret of recent years is that, since the fall of Lehman Brothers, basic textbook macroeconomics has performed very well.

But policy makers and politicians have ignored both the textbooks and the lessons of history. And the result has been a vast economic and human catastrophe, with trillions of dollars of productive potential squandered and millions of families placed in dire straits for no good reason.

Well...yes and no, though mainly no. But first the yes: I agree with Krugman that "policy makers and politicians have ignored both the textbooks and the lessons of history": they did.

Otherwise, I disagree - and I did read a reasonable amount of economics, of various kinds and schools also, including Keynes and Marx, and I also read a lot of other things, such as philosophy of science and ethics, that most economists avoid.

Here are some of my reasons:

First, there were quite a lot of economists who helped to prepare the Great Recession, from Milton Friedman (<- Wikipedia) onwards, by bullshit arguments. Krugman may disagree with them, as I do, but they are economists.

Second, very "
few economists saw the crisis coming", and very many said the most inane things about it late in 2008 and in 2009 (I know: I have listened to them on the radio): Surely that means that macroeconomics is not a science like physics or chemistry are, and that it cannot be relied upon, not even on such fundamental question as whether a crisis is coming.

Third, many economists are little better than ideologists-with-a-degree-in- economics: They insist on the most blatant falsehoods, such as that inequalities do not matter to economists, which Krugman himself seems to have been very recently cured from this by Piketty's book.

Anyway...I would not trust an economist because he is an economist. There is too much divergence in their "science", there is too little agreement on even the simplest of questions, and they all talk ideology, albeit these ideologies also differ a lot.


There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but while I agree that "
policy makers just keep finding reasons not to do the right thing" one important reason they can do so is that economists widely disagree about what is their "science".

5. How to Keep the Internet Open and Free

The next item is  an article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
Barack Obama told us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it back in 2007, when he first was running for president.

“We have to ensure [a] free and full exchange of information and that starts with an open Internet,” he said in a speech at Google headquarters, the presidium of cyberspace. “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history and we have to keep it that way.”

He said it many more times. And defenders of Net neutrality believed him, that he would preserve Internet access for all, without selling out to providers like Verizon and Comcast who want to charge higher fees for speedier access – hustling more cash from those who can afford to buy a place at the front of the line. On this issue so important to democracy, they believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be Washington’s infamous revolving door.
There is rather a lot more under the last link, that also exhorts Americans to make themselves heard by Obama, but the fact of the matter seems to be that Obama has, once more, been lying, and lying grossly.

6.  WHO calls for urgent action to preserve power of antibiotics and make new ones

The next and last item for today is  an article by Sarah Bosely on The Guardian: This starts as follows:

Pneumonia will again become a feared killer, surgery risky and diarrhoea fatal if urgent action is not taken to preserve the power of current antibiotics as well as develop new ones, the World Health Organisation has warned on Wednesday.

In its first investigation of the extent of antimicrobial resistance across the world, the WHO said we are facing a huge threat to public health, which could affect anybody of any age.

No country is immune, as bacteria and viruses resistant to drugs travel the globe with ease.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link, which does explain things fairly well, and that also includes this, which does not amaze me, since I have read a lot about pharmaceutical corporations:
New drugs are not on the horizon. There have been no new classes of antibiotics for 25 years, said Dr Danilo Lo Fo Wong, senior adviser on antimicrobial resistance to WHO Europe.
It seems to me that it is likely that many people will die, simply because there are no drugs left to help them, because the germs that will kill them meanwhile have become mostly resistant to all drugs.
---------------------------------
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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