3, 2014
Crisis: Stone, Zapatistas, Krugman, Corporations, Free Press * 2
   "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. Edward Snowden NSA whistleblowing story to be filmed
     by Oliver Stone

2. We All Must Become Zapatistas
3. Paul Krugman Utterly Destroys Inequality Deniers and
     Piketty's Critics

4. Corporations Are Not People. Period.
5. Make No Mistake, This Case Is a Direct Attack on the

6. Supreme Court Sides with DOJ in Attack on Press

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of June 3. It is an ordinary crisis log.

That is, it tries to be, but I am dependent on what I have found, and I found it a bit hard to take everything serious that I read, as will emerge below. In fact, the first four articles were disappointing for various reasons, that I will - briefly, rationally - explain. [2]

This Nederlog also got uploaded a bit earlier than normal.

1. Edward Snowden NSA whistleblowing story to be filmed by Oliver Stone

The first item is an article by Xan Brooks on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

He has tackled the Kennedy assassination and the Watergate break-in, the Vietnam conflict and the Bush administration's "war on terror". Now the Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone is set to whip up fresh controversy with his adaptation of The Snowden Files, an account of the ongoing NSA scandal written by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding.

Stone's thriller will focus on the experiences of the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked thousands of classified documents to the former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald back in June 2013. The film is to be produced by Stone's regular business partner Moritz Borman, with Harding and other Guardian journalists serving as production and story consultants.

I say. The writer of this prose seems to be writing about films for The Guardian. He also tells us:
The former NSA employee has been granted temporary asylum in Russia but faces a 30-year prison sentence if he returns to the US.
I say. I suppose a film critic these days does not have to know the difference between facts and fantasy anymore, and indeed that makes writing a lot easier.

There is considerably more there, but I am sorry that I cannot take Mr Xan Brooks seriously, though he may know a lot about film.
2. We All Must Become Zapatistas

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This I also find hard to take seriously. For one thing, there are the Zapatistas (<- Wikipedia), that "We All", and that includes me, have to "Become": I'd heard of them, but I did not know much about them, though there is these days the Wikipedia, that I just linked to, for your and my information.

For another thing, although Chris Hedges has two pages, he doesn't provide much context or background, and he starts as follows:

Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesman for the Zapatistas (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or EZLN), has announced that his rebel persona no longer exists. He had gone from being a “spokesman to a distraction,” he said last week. His persona, he said, fed an easy and cheap media narrative. It turned a social revolution into a cartoon for the mass media. It allowed the commercial press and the outside world to ignore traditional community leaders and indigenous commanders and wrap a movement around a fictitious personality. His persona, he said, trivialized a movement. And so this persona is no more.

I say: the death of a "fictitious personality". One problem I have with this fictitious personality, apparently depicted in the photography that opens the article, in which we see a balaclava-clad person on a horse, in a military dress, in front of a McDonald's, is that he always seems to have had this balaclava on, and also has not appeared since 2009:

The address last month was the first public appearance by Marcos since 2009.

Is the 2014 "fictitious personality" played by the same man as played the "fictitious personality" in 2009? I have no idea. (Does it matter? I have no idea.)

In fact, I have found it hard to get any rational sense out of this, but I suppose Chris Hedges does mean the following, near the end of his article:

The goal is not to destroy but to transform. And this is why violence is counterproductive. We too must work to create a radical shift in consciousness. And this will take time, drawing larger and larger numbers of people into acts of civil disobedience. We too must work to make citizens aware of the mechanisms of power. An adherence to nonviolence will not save us from the violence of the state and the state’s hired goons and vigilantes. But nonviolence makes conversion, even among our oppressors, possible. And it is conversion that is our goal.

Well...I agree that "revolutionary violence" of small groups is self-defeating, and also tends to harm many others, and that nonviolence is a much better policy. But I do not believe in "a radical shift in consciousness", on any significant scale, and I also do not believe there is much to be gained by trying to convert "our oppressors".

And I have tried to make sense of this, but this is about the most I could get.

3. Paul Krugman Utterly Destroys Inequality Deniers and Piketty's Critics

The next item is an article by Janet Alon on AlterNet:

“Utterly"? Let's is paragraph two of the article:

Now, Krugman points out, it's like deju vu all over again with the scuffle over French economist Thomas Piketty's bestselling new book “Capital in the 21st Century,” and the intellecutally dishonest critics of Piketty's data and conclusions. Most notably, an article by Chris Giles, the economics editor of the Financial Times, which attacked Piketty's work on the basis of what Giles called slight errors in data, went on to claim that this proved there is no such thing as rising inequality and the accompanying phenomenon of increasing concentration of wealth.

I like the "deju vu", and will kindly suppose that this is what Americans think is Real French. Also, the "intellecutally dishonest critics" seems new, but this may be a typo. And I agree the Financial Times article was balderdash, that seems to underline that only economists deny that there is a rise in inequality.

But Ms Alon gives more: she gives arguments, for she continues:
Balderdash, writes Krugman. Giles' "crucial assertion that there is no clear trend toward increased concentration of wealth rested on a known fallacy, an apples-to-oranges comparison that experts have long warned about — and that I identified in that 1992 article."

So there! A real argument! Already "identified in that 1992 article"!
In fact, she continues with quoting Krugman, and could have better removed the last paragraph except - perhaps - for the first sentence:

We have two sources of evidence on both income and wealth: surveys, in which people are asked about their finances, and tax data. Survey data, while useful for tracking the poor and the middle class, notoriously understate top incomes and wealth — loosely speaking, because it’s hard to interview enough billionaires. So studies of the 1 percent, the 0.1 percent, and so on rely mainly on tax data. The Financial Times critique, however, compared older estimates of wealth concentration based on tax data with more recent estimates based on surveys; this produced an automatic bias against finding an upward trend.

That was Krugman himself, and he seems right. Does he “Utterly" destroy Piketty's critics? Hm... those interested in economy may consult

It seems it is not always true that r>g, but that's all I will say about it here. O, and not “Utterly", of course. (But it is an AlterNet article, to be sure.)

4. Corporations Are Not People. Period.

The next item is an article by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Remember back in 2009 before the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling when the U.S political and legal system wasn’t about prioritizing the interests of the extraordinarily wealthy, but instead was fair and just no matter what your social status?

Remember when the electoral system wasn’t corrupted by big money, and your average person had real influence over who could win for political office?

Wait a minute! You don’t remember that? Yeah… neither do I.

OK - but now there is a chance to undo it all, or so Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap seems to think, namely by amending the Senate Joint Resolution 19a:

The plan is that this amendment will get a vote in the Senate this year -- before election season. We cannot allow a proposal that doesn’t address corporate constitutional rights to get traction -- the amendment must match the demand of our movement: “A Corporation is Not a Person! Money is Not Free Speech!”

I say. I agree that “A Corporation is Not a Person! Money is Not Free Speech!” - but it seems the US Supreme Court has judged differently, indeed for total bullshit reasons, and in contradiction with logic, but nevertheless.

So I suppose that the chances that the amendment will match these demands are as close to zero as you like.

But yes, even so: "Corporations Are Not People" (but I do not suppose the present Senate will vote for that).

5. Make No Mistake, This Case Is a Direct Attack on the Press

The next item is an article by Trevor Timm on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
The Supreme Court today rejected New York Times reporter James Risen's appeal of a 4th Circuit decision that ruled the government can compel him to reveal his source under oath. The case, one of the most important for reporter's privilege in decades, means that Risen has exhausted his appeals and must now either testify in the leak trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, or face jail time for being in contempt of court. Risen has admirably vowed to go to prison rather than comply. 

This is the latest victory of the Obama administration in their crackdown on sources, and in turn, investigative journalism. As the New York Timesagain reminded us today, they have "pursued leaks aggressively, bringing criminal charges in eight cases, compared with three under all previous administrations combined."

Make no mistake, this case is a direct attack on the press.
Thankfully, I note this is neither nonsense, nor incomprehensible, nor stupid - though I would have said "free press" rather than "press".

There is more under the last dotted link, but since the same subject is treated in the next item, I turn to that:

6. Supreme Court Sides with DOJ in Attack on Press Freedom 

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This is a fairly long and good article, from which I will only quote a quotation from the New York Times:

The court’s one-line order gave no reasons but effectively sided with the government in a confrontation between what prosecutors said is an imperative to secure evidence in a national security prosecution and what journalists said is an intolerable infringement of press freedom.

The case arose from a subpoena to Mr. Risen seeking information about his source for a chapter of his 2006 book “State of War.” Prosecutors say they need Mr. Risen’s testimony to prove that the source was Jeffrey Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency official.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ordered Mr. Risen to comply with the subpoena. Mr. Risen has said he will refuse.

The Obama administration has sent mixed signals in the case and on the subject of press freedom in general. In its Supreme Court brief in the case, Risen v. United States, No. 13-1009, it told the justices that “reporters have no privilege to refuse to provide direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing by confidential sources.”

I'd say reporters must have privileges to refuse to provide direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing, because the government may be quite wrong about its diagnosis of "criminal wrongdoing", and I'd say that Obama's rule muzzles the press and goes completely and willfully against the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
-- First Amendment
I'd say that Obama's government is abridging the freedom of the press, and very clearly so.
[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] I am currently seeing a whole lot of Monty Python, that I may return to, but I do not think this influenced my judgements. And there is a lot of nonsense, stupidity and falsehood in the world.

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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