21, 2014
Crisis: Germany, Reich, Whistleblowing, Clinton, Dr. Healy, Maher
   "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. Germany Plans To Ban Computer Companies That Work
     With NSA From Sensitive Public Contracts

2. The Practical Choice
3. The Price of Whistleblowing: Manning, Greenwald,
     Assange, Kiriakou and Snowden

4. Hillary Clinton's Speaking Circuit Payday: $5 Million (And

5. Fucked
6. Bill Maher : most Americans are Dumb and Uneducated

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of May 21. It is an ordinary crisis issue.

Again, I will not summarize what follows, but I will say today's Nederlog is quite a bit shorter than yesterday's (and I keep up the old English grammatical habit of indicating a genitive by "'s").

1. Germany Plans To Ban Computer Companies That Work With NSA From Sensitive Public Contracts

The first item is an article by Glyn Moody on Techdirt:
This starts as follows:

As early as June last year, Techdirt noted that beyond the political fallout of NSA spying, there is a considerable risk that there will be serious economic consequences too. That's because other countries are now aware that one way the NSA has been obtaining sensitive information is through US computer products that have secret backdoors added in some way. In that post, we mentioned that Sweden had banned the country's public bodies from using Google Apps; it looks like Germany is going even further, as reported here in the international edition of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung:

Germany's black-red "grand coalition" government has now tightened the rules for awarding sensitive public IT contracts. In cases of doubt, suspicious companies will now be excluded from such contracts. And companies now have to sign documents to the effect that no contracts or laws oblige them -- nor can they be coerced -- to pass on confidential data to foreign secret services or security authorities.
This is something, but it is as yet a plan, and it is also uncertain how it will be worked in practice. Even so, this may soon cost US companies a lot of money.

Also, being a Linux user: It certainly is better than MS Windows and one can see all the code and it is free. It certainly will not solve all problems, but it will lessen them, besides costing a lot less money. If I were German, I would be quite in favor of the state's mostly switching to Linux. (You can keep MS Windows on a few machines for compatability, but that is really all that is needed: I did not run
Windows for over 2 years now, and I am using the computer a lot and for a lot of things.)

2.  The Practical Choice 

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his blog (which really has a far too long and unclear title, which I shortened):

This starts as follows:

For years Americans have assumed that our hard-charging capitalism  is better than the soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe. American capitalism might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living standards overall. Canada’s and Europe’s “welfare-state socialism” is doomed.  

It was a questionable assumption to begin with, relying to some extent on our collective amnesia about the first three decades after World War II, when tax rates on top incomes in the U.S. never fell below 70 percent, a larger portion of our economy was invested in education than before or since, over a third of our private-sector workers were unionized, we came up with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor, and built the biggest infrastructure project in history, known as the interstate highway system.

But then came America’s big U-turn, when we deregulated, de-unionized, lowered taxes on the top, ended welfare, and stopped investing as much of the economy in education and infrastructure.

Being a European, I do like to point out that the phrase "“welfare-state socialism”" is bullshit. I know it is between quotes, but it is simply false:

Yes, there was a welfare-state in Europe; yes, compared with the US there still may be a welfare-state in Europe; but no: socialism has very little to do with it, and it would be much better to style the system, at least from 1965-1995, as "capitalism-with-a-human-face".

Also, the human face was mainly due to taxing the rich and the corporations, and redistributing the taxes, and it seems to have worked fairly well also, for some thirty years at least, and indeed it also was capitalism: although the rich were more taxed than in the US, they still remained rich, and everything else also was and is capitalistic.

Next, Reich explains:

The fact is, we’re falling behind. While median per capita income in the United States has stagnated since 2000, it’s up significantly in Canada and Northern Europe. Their typical worker’s income is now higher than ours, and their disposable income – after taxes – higher still.

Yes. Indeed Reich gives quite a lot of data that suggests the US is considerably worse of - that is: its many workers are, not its few rich, of course - than are the Europeans and Canadians, and you should read the article if you do not know these quite large differences, that include more holidays, better education, and far shorter hours: the Germans work 28% less than the US workers, and still have a lot more.

Here is the end of Reich's article:

So let’s put ideology aside. The practical choice isn’t between capitalism and “welfare-state socialism.” It’s between a system that’s working for a few at the top, or one that’s working for just about everyone. Which would you prefer?

OK - though I would say that the practical choice is between capitalism-
and capitalism-with-a-human-face. Also, the reason that this is a practical choice is that it can - as yet - be made without either a revolution or a collapse.

3.  The Price of Whistleblowing: Manning, Greenwald, Assange, Kiriakou and Snowden

The next item is an article by Jane Hamsher on Common Dreams, but it originated on FireDogLake:

This starts as follows, with something I did not know:

We were eating dinner last night around my kitchen table when the news of the dustup between Wikileaks and the Intercept came through the tubes. As I read the details to the people who came here to share food and conversation, everyone’s eyebrows raised.

The eyebrows at a lot of tables probably raised as Wikileaks took the Intercept to task for its latest story, and failing to release the name of one of the countries in which the United States is spying on its citizens. The Intercept maintained they had been shown compelling evidence that led them to redact the name; Wikileaks maintained the citizens of the country have a right to know.

The last statement is not a contradiction: Wikileaks probably has not seen the evidence.  In any case: this story is mostly a personal one, by someone who is close to whistleblowers and  their helpers, and her theme is, in her words:

I’ve heard the same concerns in the stories of whistleblowers over and over again — how do you balance the interests of the public’s right to know with the price that individuals could potentially pay for the releasing that information? The answers are neither obvious nor easy.

Yes, indeed - though the story is mostly personal.

4.  Hillary Clinton's Speaking Circuit Payday: $5 Million (And Counting)

The next item is an article by Andy Kroll on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows:
Bill and Hillary Clinton spent the final years of the Clinton presidency cash-strapped and buried in legal debts. But they weren't hurting for long: In her final days as first lady, Hillary landed a near-record $8 million advance for her memoir Living History, and by the time her 2008 presidential campaign was in full swing, the Clintons were flush, together having earned $109 million in the previous seven years.
This means that they made over 15 million dollars a year, which shows that the lives of a former US president and his wife are very well paid.

There is a lot more evidence about being paid very well for speeches by former US presidents, and then Kroll rises a question:
Hillary's for-profit speaking gigs raise a serious question for a possible presidential candidate: Is she being courted by and/or providing access to the well-heeled companies and industry groups—including Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the National Association of Realtors, and the US Green Building Council, among many others—that have paid her to speak?
To me, the answer appears to be quite simple: Yes, of course she is, but no, no one who may be president can escape "being courted" by the rich and  the powerful. So I don't see any special problem, though I am not a fan of the Clintons.

5. Fucked

The next item is an article by Dr. David Healy on his site:
Let me first say that although bad health care (which is the norm in the US) is part of the crisis (as I analyzed it: See Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis and Crisis + DSM-5: It's the deregulation, stupid!) Dr. Healy is regularly checked by me because he is one of the few opponents of the medical system as it exists, which I agree with him is thoroughly corrupt, in many ways also.

However, one of the most important ways in which the existing medical system is thorougly corrupt is its handling of the outcomes of trials, especially adverse trials,  that is, trials which do not support the efficacy of a drug: The pharmaceutical corporations have made it virtually impossible for honest (!) doctors to find out objectively how good drugs are, by making it virtually impossible for them to get a good view of any adverse trials.

This means also - together with other events, such as that the pharmaceutical corporations write much of the stuff that is signed by Key Opinion Leaders in medicine, of course for a nice price - that medicine ceased being a real science:

If the doctors, who are the only one to prescribe most drugs that are being produced, cannot see how efficaceous these drugs are, or what went wrong in adverse trials, they don't really know what they prescribe. And I do think that is the case.

Next, to explain the next quotation, here are some terminological clarifications:
GSK = Glaxo Smith Kline, one of the large pharmaceutical corporations; BMJ = The British Medical Journal; and Ben Goldacre = a colleague and pupil of (sir professor) Simon Wessely, whom I do not trust, while EMA = the European Medicines Agency:

When GSK signed up to AllTrials Ben Goldacre rolled over and purred.  The BMJ featured Andrew Witty on their front cover as the candidate of hope.

Rain on the Parade

In contrast, on this blog, 1boringoldman and on RxISK a small group have warned consistently that this was not good news.  That what would be put in place was a mechanism that gave the appearances of transparency but in fact would lock academics into agreeing with GSK and other companies as to what the outcomes of their trials have been.
Not content with a few academic ghost authors, GSK’s maneuver has put industry well on the way to making Academia a ghost, a glove puppet manipulated by company marketing departments.
But this week EMA has come out and said it is going to put in place the GSK model of data access.
As someone who has been working the GSK system, I can say with confidence that this is a disaster.

I suppose this is right. Here is one more bit of Dr. Healy (and as to the "99%": Dr. Healy is one of the very few medical doctors who has spoken up against the corrupt practices of the pharmaceurical corporations, and who has done so for a long time now):

If I made claims about a drug to my colleagues but refused to show them the data, they’d have no problem telling me to get lost. I’d be boycotted from here to kingdom come.  But when it comes to industry, 99% of doctors lack balls.

Doctors have been given a license to degrade us by treating us like addicts – the origins of prescription-only status.  They have been given a license to print money – we can only get our drugs through them.  The very least they could do in return is show some backbone.

But this is a decadent situation and decadence rarely breeds courage.

Yes, indeed. Besides, the pharmaceutical corporations pay corrupt doctors, and corrupt organizations of doctors, quite well. And doctors tend to be doctors because it pays very well, and not because they put patients first, indeed with a few exceptions.

But OK: medicine is corrupt, and got corrupted by the combination of the pharmaceutical corporations with mostly money-oriented medical doctors, who did not have the spine to protest as their science was made into pseudo-science, where it is impossible to objectively test the drugs they prescribe, because the
data are mostly secret, and are thoroughly guarded by the pharmaceutical corporations.

6. Bill Maher : most Americans are Dumb and Uneducated

The next item
is not an article but is a video with Bill Maher:

It is four years old, and I've listed it four years ago, but I do it again, especially because Bill Maher is one of the very, very few who has the courage to say that dumbness and lack of education exist and are important, and I think (since a very long time, also) that he is right:

Most of the policies that have been accepted in the democratic West have been accepted by many, who did not really have both the brains and the knowledge to judge them rationally, and who also got propagandized and deceived a lot.

You may be in favor of this, e.g. "because it is democratic", but I think you should admit that giving the vote to all adults made it very much easier for the politicians to deceive the many: half of their electorate has an IQ lower than 100, and can and will be deceived in almost any way - and that is all the politicians  need to get "a democratic majority".
[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)

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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