9, 2014
Crisis: Hedges, FBI, CIA, Greenwald, Personal
   "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 Rules of Revolt
2. "Extremely Troubling" Documents 
3.  The CIA's cute first tweet can't cover its bloody tracks  
4.  Glenn Greenwald: No Place to Hide - Edward Snowden,
      the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

5.  Personal  

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of June 9. It is an ordinary crisis log.

1. The Rules of Revolt

The first item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This is a much better article than the previous one that counseled everyone to be(come) a Zapatista - and I provided the last link for those who don't know what that is. Also, here is a link to my review.

The present article starts as follows:
There are some essential lessons we can learn from the student occupation of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which took place 25 years ago. The 1989 protests began as a demonstration by university students to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, the reformist Communist Party chief who had been forced out by Deng Xiaoping. The protests swiftly expanded to include demands for an end to corruption, for press freedom and for democracy. At their height, perhaps a million people were in the square. The protests were crushed on the night of June 3-4 when some 200,000 soldiers, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, attacked. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed demonstrators were killed.
Yes, indeed. Next, Chris Hedges does name and discuss 12 lessons, which I will take up in a briefer format, but first I want to make an initial point about revolts.

Since I am the son of revolutionary communists and was born in 1950, I have been in many leftist demonstrations in my teens (much less so from 1970 onwards, for I had then given up on communism, and also lost most of my interest in politics), quite a few of which also got violent, that usually led to some arrests.

But none of the violence ever felt like a revolt or a revolution except for the indeed also quite massive violence in Paris in May, 1968. I am talking here about my own appreciations of events, which may be unlike that of many others, and it is also a bit difficult to explain, although I assume that nearly all who took part in any of the many violent demonstrations I also took part in did not believe the demonstration or the violence were in any realistic sense revolutionary.

In Paris this was different. It was a large revolt; it had some support of labor and of workers who also had organized strikes and had occupied factories; and especially the atmosphere in the streets was different: everybody talked with everybody, which was quite unlike any other demonstration I took part in, for in the other demonstrations there were the demonstrators, with one point of view, and the rest of the population, that for the most part was either not interested or opposed.

I am still not quite certain about the causes of the difference in feelings in Paris of May 1968, but I am rather certain of the following things:

1. Nobody knew what would happen - quite unlike the many other demonstrations, where it was clear that at the end ordinary order would be fully restored, and life would go on as before; 2. everybody (well: many more than usual) talked with everybody, mostly simply looking for information, also mostly in a kind way, even if the partners disagreed -
quite unlike the many other demonstrations, where only the demonstrators talked with each other; 3. most thought, in the early days of May of 1968, in the center of Paris, that absolutely anything might happen - again quite unlike the many other demonstrations.

Then again: This is the only more or less revolutionary situation I've been in and indeed also that revolt or revolution simply failed, and failed rapidly and radically. But it really felt and was different while it was happening from any other leftist demonstration or violence I have seen, and there were several reasons for this, some of which are listed in the previous paragraph. [2]

Now to the twelve points of Chris Hedges, which I will excerpt and comment on, but you should realize that I only excerpt small bits and that you can read all using the last dotted link - and all the points of Chris Hedges are given more text than I quote:
Lesson No. 1. A nonviolent movement that disrupts the machinery of state and speaks a truth a state hopes to suppress has the force to terrify authority and create deep fissures within the power structure.
Yes - but this is not true of "any" movement or indeed of "most" movements, and it also needs to be pretty large (normally) to disrupt "the machinery of state".
Lesson No. 2. An uprising or a revolution usually follows a period of relative prosperity and liberalization. It is ignited not by the poor but by middle-class and elite families’ sons and daughters, often college-educated (...)
Yes - one needs the young well-educated ones, it seems, at least if it is about making revolution (rather than - say - deciding a labor/management conflict).
Lesson No. 3. Radical mass movements often begin by appealing respectfully to authority for minimal reforms.
Yes indeed, and this also happened elsewhere, such as in France in 1968, and in other places. (This may be connected to the previous point.) Also, perhaps more importantly: Radical mass movement often start in an ambiguous fashion, that makes both for size and for (initial) hesitant treatment by the government.
Lesson No. 4. Once déclassé intellectuals make alliances with the working class a regime is in serious danger.
Yes, perhaps. One main reason for my skepticism is that it didn't help in France; another is that, in general, it depends on the insights and plans of the déclassé intellectuals. In brief, they may both add and detract a lot.
Lesson No. 5. The most potent weapon in the hands of nonviolent rebels is fraternizing with and educating civil servants as well as the police and soldiers, who even though they suffer from the same economic inequality usually are under orders to crush protest.
Again: Yes, perhaps. It depends a lot, and normally the chances are not good. My own view is that generally it seems wiser to invest most energy in making one's points and demands as widely known as possible.
Lesson No. 6. When a major authority figure, even in secret, denounces calls to crush a resistance movement the ruling elites are thrown into panic.
Yes, although the main reason for the "panic" (distress, difficulties, etc.) seems to be the recognition that the rulers no langer stand and act in a united way.
Lesson No. 7. The state seeks to isolate and indoctrinate soldiers and police before sending them to violently quash any movement.
Yes - and that may work.
Lesson No. 8. Secrecy is self-destructive to a nonviolent resistance movement. Openness and transparency expose the endemic secrecy and deceit used by regimes to maintain power
Yes, indeed. One does need leaders and spokesmen, but one can and should avoid almost all secrecy.
Lesson No. 9. The state on the eve of breaking a rebellion with force seeks to make police and soldiers frightened of the protesters. It does this by sending in agents provocateurs to direct acts of violence against symbols of state authority.
Yes, that also seems true.
Lesson No. 10. After deadly force is used to end a revolt, which happened when Deng Xiaoping sent more than 200,000 soldiers to  gun down protesters in Beijing, the state invests tremendous energy to foster historical amnesia.
Yes, indeed, and there are quite a few other examples.
Lesson No. 11. Once a movement is put down, wholesale retribution occurs. It is estimated that 4 million people were investigated by state security after the Tiananmen Square massacre on suspicion of involvement in the protests.
Again yes, though this also depends on the type of state. Finally:
Lesson No. 12. Nonviolence does not protect demonstrators from violence. It also does not always succeed. Nonviolence requires—despite what those who advocate violence contend—deep reserves of physical and moral courage.
Yes, quite so - and indeed non-violence often does not succeed, which does not mean it was the wrong choice: it usually is the best choice.

Anyway - if you found this at least a bit interesting, you should read all of the article.
2. "Extremely Troubling" Documents Show How Obama Administration Embraced Foreign Detention of Terror Suspects

The next item is an article by Nick Baumann on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
What happens when an FBI agent steps into a foreign prison to interrogate a US citizen? For several years, even as the FBI has cooperated with foreign governments to question Americans locked up in countries such as Kuwait, South Sudan, and Yemen, the Obama administration has been tight-lipped about the rules that govern such interrogations. FBI officials have told Congress that the same rules apply when FBI agents interview suspects at home and overseas. But an internal bureau interrogation manual suggests that the truth is more complicated—and new information from the FBI shows that key edits were made to the manual as the Obama administration shifted away from the Bush-era practice of questioning terrorism suspects at Pentagon- or CIA-run facilities, and toward outsourcing detentions to foreign regimes.

Actually, I am also interested in non-US citizens, while I think the following snippet, that dates back to circa 2008 and quotes an American CIA-agent concerned with "terrorism" and "terrorists". He was quoted as having said that interrogating such people was very difficult, until 

"one sends them to Egypt: once they're loosing some nails, they are a lot more free with information".

I heard this on the radio and am not certain of all the words, but this was the gist: Once our allies start torturing them for real, we CIA-men hear something.
And I think that may well be correct, and may well be the reason why Obama's government seems quite good at it.

Anyway - the article tells the tale of an FBI manual, known in a heavily redacted form and a later and unredacted form, with the following results (inter alia):

In recent years, the Obama administration has continued to shift away from unilateral measures such as drone strikes, and toward working with foreign allies through means like proxy detention.

Which means that the CIA can go much further with torturing people than inside the US and also that the US government can much better pretend it is guiltless and does not know what happened in other - secret, or not - prisons.

3. The CIA's cute first tweet can't cover its bloody tracks

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

In the latest CIA coup, America's leading spooks have sent the Twittersphere into a frenzy with their chucklesome debut on social media: "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet." How droll! More than a quarter of a million people have retweeted what has been described as "the best first tweet possible". No wonder: it's one of the world's most secretive organisations being self-deprecating, light-hearted, even – dare I say it? – cute.

Here's a story that isn't quite so cute. My parents were among many South Yorkshire families who took in refugees fleeing Augusto Pinochet's Chile in the 1970s. Sylvia was a Chilean woman with two kids. Her husband had been murdered, she had been tortured and – traumatised – she would end her life by jumping from a Sheffield tower block.

Here was just one victim of a junta installed on 11 September 1973 with CIA support after Henry Kissinger declared: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people." Dissidents had electrodes attached to their genitals.

As I have said before: I do not do Twitter and do not do Facebook, and never did and never will. Also, I do not like contacts with worlds where everybody or nearly everybody is an anonymous alias, and in fact you do not know anything about anyone. That is just puppetry and blind man's bluff.

I also know that ordinary men and women seem to live for Facebook and Twitter, and are "hugely impressed how much information can be conveyed in 140 characters" (yes, that is a common quote), but I am more intelligent than ordinary men, and to me it seems like a very large amount of anonymous toddlers who have purposefully damaged and falsified their means of communication, and twit (is the verb, from "Twitter") their wit at the rate of 140 characters max, which also means all formal argument ceased completely.

In short, twitting and facebooking seem activities for the less than 130 IQs, but since the vast majority falls under that description (49 out of 50, roughly) these are the preferred occupations of the ordinary minds. I dislike and deplore it, but I am in a small though intelligent minority.

One reason for this brief exposition is that I know that I live in an extremely democratized age, where anonymous aliases drive most discussions, and where propaganda/PR is the norm and successful PR the ideal for anyone taking part.

Here is more from Owen Jones:

Of course, the CIA is far from alone in trying to lighten up its image: PR offensives are all the rage among tyrants, too. Are you a bloodstained despot who wants to polish your sullied reputation? Your first port of call is surely Bell Pottinger, run by Thatcher's publicity guru, Lord Bell. The dictatorships of Bahrain and Belarus, the Syrian dictator's wife, Pinochet himself – all have had their reputations spruced up by the firm. Its services include cleaning up those embarrassing Wikipedia articles and Google search results. Kazakhstan's pro-western dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev – who locks up dissidents and massacres striking oil workers – is a pro at PR campaigns, hiring Tony Blair at vast expense.

Yes, indeed - and my oh my: Am I amazed at finding Tony Blair as an eager and very well paid propagandist for the rich and powerful! (Not really.)

Owen Jones also tells us:

"Terrorism" is normally used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people hostile to the west. But if we're understanding the term to mean acts of terror committed for political ends, then the CIA is surely the greatest terrorist organisation on earth.

Actually, I never used or understood the word "terrorism" in the first form, that according to Owen Jones these days is normal. Here is my own definition of the term in my Philosophical Dictionary (from 2004):

Terrorism: Attempt to get one's way in politics or religion by violence and murder.

There is rather a lot more there, and I never even considered the "normal" racialist twist ("acts of violence committed by non-white people"), which is utter nonsense and totally false propaganda.

But apart from that, I agree with Owen Jones: The CIA is a terrorist organization, and indeed a state terrorist organization, for it is funded by the US government, which it is also supposed to work for. 

And this is an interesting article that deserves full reading. Here is its final paragraph:

It's in the CIA's interests to craft a cuddly new image: as a team of glamorous, James Bond-style spooks who can take a joke. Given the abject failure of much of the western media to scrutinise its actions – at least until it's too late – it may believe it can get away with it. But its record of torture, murder and subverting democratic governments speaks for itself. However savvy its Twitter campaign, that must not be forgotten.

Yes, indeed.

4. Glenn Greenwald: No Place to Hide - Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

The next item is not an article but a video with Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky:

It is here because of "No Place to Hide", and I must admit that I have only seen the first 25 minutes or so of it, which are Glenn Greenwald's, and which also are quite clear.

I stopped with Noam Chomsky, not because I do not like him (I do), but because he is not a great speaker, and I had heard his story before.

Incidentally: If in Youtube you type "Glenn Greenwald" you get access to 175 videos, and I must say they are not very often seen (for I regard 234, 449 and 655 viewers as not many, for such a famous journalist, who also is a good speaker - but it is true there also are quite a few videos with more viewers).

5. Personal

The previous item was the last
crisis item for today. Here are some further references, to persons I have mentioned before on Nederlog:

Bill Maher: It turned out one Nicole Po has made a nice compilation of pieces from Bill Maher videos. It starts here:
There are 18 more there, that I have mostly seen the last days, though I skipped nearly all "Back Stage" interviews, of which there are quite a few, and also skipped some more.

I like Bill Maher:
He is intelligent and witty (and the two are not the same), and the discussions are often interesting. Also, I like his program quite a bit more than I do Jon Stewart's or Stephen Colbert's, because it is more real, and it has different people both stating and discussing different opinions. And Maher states his own opinions, and does so quite well, both realistically and comically.

And no: Of course I do not always agree with Maher. But I like his program, and also more than others, including Dutch ones: Maher and his staff of writers are more witty than most.

Gore Vidal: I discovered Vidal in 2012, briefly after he had died (and no, I am not an American, nor a homosexual, and I am also not much interested in recent American literature, nor do I have a TV since 1970, which taken together explain my ignorance). He was a sensible and clever man, and Truthdig has four interesting pages with selected essays and videos, that start here:
These are well worth reading or viewing: He knew a whole lot about politics, had been friends with John Kennedy and his wife, and he was quite witty.

Abby Martin: I have mentioned her before: She does a daily series, on weekdays, of half hour shows called "Breaking the set" (link) and she is good.

Here are three bits of earlier programs. First, there is this:

This is from January. You may look at it and learn some, because Snowden's Q&A are not widely reported. (And I do not quite agree with Seaman, who has more trust in US law than either Snowden or I.)

And there is this, which is a bit private:
It's a bit private for me because my father and grandfather spent years as political prisoners (aka: terrorists) in German concentration camps, where my grandfather also got murdered, while my father got knighted after the war (which was in fact "not done", for communists like him, but he had royal support) namely for making an exhibition about the German concentration camps, and indeed one of my father's points was the enormous services big corporations did for Hitler.

This is Abby Martin in August 2013, after making 200 "Breaking the set"s:

It is about what motivates her.
[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] Also, while I do not boast of having been in many demonstrations, I have been, and one thing I have learned is that nearly all my fellow Dutchmen, of nearly every age, have at most the experience with revolutionary situations and feelings that I have: two weeks of Paris in 1968, in May and in June.

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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