14, 2014
Crisis: Newspapers, Surveilling, Suicides, CEOs, NSA *2, Iraq, Lies
   "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. European newspapers search for ways to survive digital

2. Warrantless cell phone tracking ruled unconstitutional in
     federal court

3. Global Recession Has "Led to 10,000 Suicides"
4. 8 Reasons Some CEOs Make 331 Times As Much As Their

5. How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases
6. We anti-war protesters were right: the Iraq invasion has
     led to bloody chaos

7. The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty
8. Senior NSA Executive: NSA Started Spying On Journalists
     in 2002

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of June 14. It is an almost ordinary crisis log.

It is almost ordinary because it contains the findings of two days rather than of just one day, for yesterday I repeated a long and interesting article on philosophy of science and psychiatry, which I did because I want to make a selection from the more than hundred articles I wrote about psychiatry (as a psychologist, a philosopher, and a victim of their lies, delusions and powerhungry intrigues), and also because I have now for a full year faithfully followed the crisis trail, but I do want to write sometimes about other things in Nederlog, which indeed arose because I wanted to write on many diverse things, on a daily basis.

So although it is a Saturday today, there are eight items, and they follow.
Also, this happens to be the longest crisis report of this year, so far, which may be due to the fact it covers two days or (more probably) that I feel reasonably well.

1. European newspapers search for ways to survive digital revolution

The first item is an article by Anna Penketh, Philip Oltermann and Stephen Burgen on The Guardian:
This article starts as follows:

Newspapers are in freefall. Print editions are being discontinued. Editors are being replaced with alarming regularity. Financial losses are mounting. Digital strategies are yet to bear fruit. New readerships are fickle, promiscuous and hard to impress.

If that's true of British and American newspapers, then the situation is, if anything, worse in continental Europe. Here much of the traditional media is considered to be several years behind in the digital revolution, still experimenting with paywalls, digital technologies and alternative means of storytelling. Bankruptcy stalks the sector, and staff layoffs are a weekly fact of life.

Yes, indeed. This is in fact a large article, with three parts by the three writers, namely on the situations in France, Spain and Germany, but I will leave all that to your interest.

Here I make only a few general points:
  • It is a very great loss, that "Newspapers are in freefall", and that applies especially to the so-called quality papers with large staffs of well-trained journalists. There is nothing on the internet that can replace them, mostly for two reasons: 1. there is no money available for them, and 2. this especially hits the few who are well-educated and intelligent: it hardly hits the masses of ordinary men and women.
  • Again, it is a very great loss because without good, investigative, protected journalism there is hardly any real basis for anything like a free, open and democratic society: If most of the news that people see is in fact propaganda/public relations, the end of a free, open and democratic society is very near.
  • In fact, for me it seems as if most good newspapers are dead, certainly in Holland (where especially the NRC-Handelsblad has made a spectacular dive into stupidity and non-offensiveness since 2010: their main business seems to be to bring Mercedes Benz's and Luis Vuitton's advertisements in special packages to their quasi-intellectual audiences: it is not a shadow from what it was in the 1980ies and 1990ies).
  • If the diagnosis in the previous point is too negative (it may be, and there still are a few papers that struggle to get something like good editions out, but with ever less real journalists, ever less real editors and ever less real money) I still do not see any major countervailing powers.
  • I also do not know of any way to make a financially secure and good journalistic enterprise that has several hundred thousands of paying clients - and this is mainly a consequence from the average gifts of average human beings: they do not see the need for good, objective, paid journalism.
I am sorry to sound depressive about the state of journalism, and I do not want to be, but the state of journalism is quite depressing, and indeed it seems as if the majority of good and independent journalism has been driven out, and has been replaced by glibly talking quasi-journalist yes-men from corporations or from some of the propaganda/public relations scams.

2. Warrantless cell phone tracking ruled unconstitutional in federal court

The next item is an article by Associated Press on The Guardian:

This is a bit of good news, and it starts as follows:

Investigators must obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to obtain cellphone tower tracking data that is widely used as evidence to show suspects were in the vicinity of a crime, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined people have an expectation of privacy in their movements and that the cell tower data was part of that. As such, obtaining the records without a search warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, the judges ruled.

"While committing a crime is certainly not within a legitimate expectation of privacy, if the cell site location data could place him near those scenes, it could place him near any other scene," the judges wrote. "There is a reasonable privacy interest in being near the home of a lover, or a dispensary of medication, or a place of worship, or a house of ill repute."

Yes, indeed: quite so. And not only that:

"The court soundly repudiates the government's argument that merely by using a cellphone, people somehow surrender their privacy rights," said ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler, who argued the case.

Again this is quite good, and supports my case that the NSA is involved in the daily billionfold illegitimate stealing of data that are, and must be, fairly expected to be private by those who generate them.

So far, so good, but the rest is less good:

Ultimately the issue will likely have to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

There is more I could have quoted, but this is sufficient, and for me this is not good: The Supreme Court has shown itself to be in majority the Supreme Court of the Rich and the Powerful, and these will want to survey anything they technically can survey, regardless of any Bill of Rights and regardless of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (that these days read almost like a revolutionary document, yet is what the United Nations agreed to in 1948, and rightly so).

3.  Global Recession Has "Led to 10,000 Suicides"

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

U.K. researchers report that the economic crisis in Europe and North America has contributed to the suicides of more than 10,000 people.

The suicides, studied by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, were in addition to the rate of suicide observed in 24 EU countries, the U.S. and Canada before the recession.

Actually, I am a bit amazed there weren't more, simply because many millions have lost a whole lot and/or have large debts (their money went to the richest and the most powerful, for thus it has always worked and still works, especially since Clinton deregulated massively, it seems to be personally re-elected and then make his personal fortune).

There also is given a quotation that is quite interesting:

[Dr Aaron Reeves of the University of Oxford] told the BBC: "There's a lot of good evidence showing recessions lead to rising suicides, but what is surprising is this hasn't happened everywhere - Austria, Sweden and Finland.

It shows policy potentially matters. One of the features of these countries is they invest in schemes that help people return to work, such as training, advice and even subsidised wages.

I suppose the predictable reaction of the American "journalistic" liars for the rich (on Fox News etc.) is that these are - with enormous disdain - "so-cia-list" states, which they say just as honestly as they might say that Obama is a muslim born in Kenya.

But they are not "so-cia-list" states and indeed never were: they are capitalist states that are not almost fully deregulated, and thus there still is a chance for the poor to rise, if not by their own efforts, then by a rise of society that is turned back in a somewhat fair manner, namely to help the many grow a bit less poor rather than to add millions to the few rich (who remain rich).

4.  8 Reasons Some CEOs Make 331 Times As Much As Their Employees

The next item is an article by Dave Johnson on AlterNet:

This starts as follows, with a paragraph of facts that show the effects of deregulation:
Here are some depressing statistics: In 2013, CEOs of S&P 500 companies made 331 times as much as their employees. Your average American worker not in a supervisory role made $35,239, while the average CEO made $11.7 million, according to the AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch website.  CEO pay has increased a whopping 937 percent since 1978, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute.
For me this is sick, obscene, immoral greed, justified by absolutely nothing except sick, obscene, and immoral greed, and no, I am not an opponent of unequal pay - but it is also true that (1) this goes back a long time, and notably to Reagan and Clinton and (2) it has been done, at least initially, rather carefully, and has since been plugged by enormous amounts of propaganda and lies.

propaganda and lies are discussed in the article, that is good. I merely quote the eight points, and leave it to you whether you want to read the full text:
1. Trade deals that work against us.
2. Stock ownership.
3. "Friendly" boards of directors give big raises to CEOs and
     pay cuts
to others.
4. Privatization of public services has forced millions into

5. High unemployment.
6. Weaker unions.
7. Technology.
8. Our government won‚€™t help us.

However, since the article is good, I will quote the text under the last point, that also concludes the article:

Here's the big one. Democracies are more prosperous for regular citizens. When citizens have a say, they say they want good jobs, good wages, benefits and strong regulations that protect people and the environment from the harm that unfettered corporations can and will do.

We used to supposedly be in control of our government. Our government used to supposedly exist for the benefit of We the People and We the People thrived as a result. Now there is barely even a pretense of that. A recent study concludes that we are no longer a democracy, but instead are an oligarchy. (Even when we are able to organize and get the vote out and elect politicians who campaign on a promise to do things like "renegotiate NAFTA" the promise disappears within weeks of taking office.)

Now our government is obstructed by a corporate-backed minority, prevented from doing things that would help the incomes of ordinary Americans. Unemployment is kept high in order to drive wages down. Tax rules are rigged to drive more and more money to a few at the top. Trade deals that work against us are put in place.

These things didn't just happen. They were done to us. High pay at the top and low pay for the rest of us isn't inevitable, it is the result of rigging the rules so they work best for the wealthy.

Yes indeed: quite so. Except that it is also the result of enormous amounts of corporate propaganda, that convinced many of the less gifted that they are each and all "independent consumers without any responsibility or accountability", who get rewarded with branded products if they behave well.

For you can not steal the rights and freedoms of a truly intelligent and highly educated society - but you can steal the rights and freedoms of a stupid or stupefied widely
propagandized society.

And that is what happened.

5.  How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases

The next item is an article by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews:
This is a good article that deserves that it is being all read. It starts as follows:

Rarely do you get a chance to ask a just-retired FBI director whether he had "any legal qualms" about what, in football, is called "illegal procedure," but at the Justice Department is called "parallel construction."

Government wordsmiths have given us this pleasant euphemism to describe the use of the National Security Agency‚€™s illegal eavesdropping on Americans as an investigative tool to pass on tips to law enforcement agencies which then hide the source of the original suspicion and "construct" a case using "parallel" evidence to prosecute the likes of you and me.

Indeed, that is what is comes down to:

First, the secret illegal terrorists of the NSA steal your data, quite illegally indeed, but yes they can do it, and "therefore" they do do it, also quite  regardless of anything you may or may not have done; second, they pass whatever they may have found - potsmoking, whoring, a fight with the neighbors, anything - on to some law enforcement agency; and third, these other terrorist assholes from the government then "
construct" a case using "parallel" evidence to prosecute the likes of you and me", so as not to have to face questions of the judge about the real nature of the evidence.

This has happened and is happening, and I speak of "terrorists" because this is what the practice consists in: it is illegal evidence used in illegal ways.

Bottom line? Beware, those of you who think you have "nothing to hide" when the NSA scoops up your personal information. You may think that the targets of these searches are just potential "terrorists." But the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and countless other law enforcement bodies are dipping their cursors into the huge pool of mass surveillance.

And, chances are that if some of your scooped-up data gets shared with law enforcement and the Feds conclude that you've violated some law, you'll never become aware of how they got onto you in the first place. They'll just find some "parallel" evidence to nail you.

Besides: No one knows all or most of the laws that he lives under, and there are very many quite ridiculous laws in the US, which makes it very likely that if you are a resident of the US you have broken some laws, without knowing it; without knowing that this is known to the terrorists of the NSA; who may have handed their knowledge to the FBI, especially if you are a known opponent of the government; who then "construct a case" against you in which it is impossible for you to know the real reasons and sources of your persecution. Behold American Justice New Style!

O, and incidentally, for those who think this is very recent:
AT&T, for example, apparently has kept metadata about its customers, as well as all other traffic going through its switches, for the past 27 years.
Here it is exposed once more:

Here's how it works: NSA's domestic surveillance though supposedly restricted to detecting terrorism gets wind of some potentially illegal activity unrelated to terrorism. So, NSA passes the information on to the relevant law enforcement agency. It could be a vehicle transporting illegal drugs or a transfer of suspicious funds or pretty much anything.

This evidence then sparks an investigation, but the original information can't be used legally because it was acquired illegally for "national security" purposes. After the tip, "parallel" law enforcement techniques are introduced to collect other evidence and arrest and charge the suspects/defendants.

The arrest is made to appear the splendid result of traditional detective techniques. However, if the court learns of the initial shenanigans, the defendant may be released because her/his constitutional rights were violated.

To avoid that possibility, the government simply perjures itself during the court discovery process by concealing the key role played by the NSA database, exculpatory evidence that could weaken or destroy the government's case.

Next, there is the question why the originally good proposed Sensenbrenner law proposal got remade into something that protects the NSA:

Let me be politically incorrect and mention the possibility of blackmail or at least the fear among some politicians that the NSA has collected information on their personal activities that could be transformed into a devastating scandal if leaked at the right moment.

Do not blanch before the likelihood that the NSA has the book on each and every member of Congress, including extramarital affairs and political deal-making. We know that NSA has collected such information on foreign diplomats, including at the United Nations in New York, to influence votes on the Iraq War and other issues important to U.S. "national security."

Yes, indeed: it seems likely to me this is what has happened, although we very probably will never know it. After all, all it takes is a brief anonymous e-mail of the form (one of several): "Hi, you remember Sisi? She certainly remembers you and how hard you were. Would you like your wife and the people to know how much you enjoyed her? And in which ways? Please be kind to the NSA. Bye."

Here is more:

We cannot escape some pretty dismal conclusions here. Not only have the Executive and Legislative branches been corrupted by establishing, funding, hiding and promoting unconstitutional surveillance programs for over 12 years, but the Judicial branch has been corrupted, too.

The discovery process in criminal cases is now stacked in favor of the government through its devious means for hiding unconstitutional surveillance and using it in ways beyond the narrow declared purpose of thwarting terrorism.

Moreover, federal courts at the district, appeals and Supreme Court levels have allowed the government to evade legal accountability by insisting that plaintiffs must be able to prove what often is not provable, that they were surveilled through highly secretive NSA means. And, if the plaintiffs make too much progress, the government can always get a lawsuit thrown out by invoking "state secrets."

The Separation of Powers designed by the Constitution's Framers to prevent excessive accumulation of power by one of the branches has stopped functioning amid the modern concept of "permanent war" and the unwillingness of all but a few hearty souls to challenge the invocation of "national security." Plus, the corporate-owned U.S. media, with very few exceptions, is fully complicit.

I have not been making this up, nor has Ray McGovern. There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, and it is all quite good, though it will only make you happy if you are very rich or a keen supporter of the US government.

6. We anti-war protesters were right: the Iraq invasion has led to bloody chaos

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

I have encountered no sense of vindication, no "I told you so", among veterans of the anti-war protest of 15 February 2003 in response to the events in Iraq. Despair, yes, but above all else, bitterness that we were unable to stop one of the greatest calamities of modern times, that warnings which were dismissed as hyperbole now look like understatements, that countless lives (literally no one counts them) have been lost, and will continue to be so for many years to come.

In July 2002, the Guardian warned that Britain was "sleepwalking to war". Blair's commitment to invade come what may "which the Chilcot inquiry (when it is finally published) will either confirm or whitewash" is now established. By September 2002, the inevitability had sunk in. In the first demonstration, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in London on 27 September, me and my grandfather among them, full of determination and foreboding. Three weeks earlier, Amr Moussa, then-secretary general of the Arab League, warned that the Iraq war would "open the gates of hell".

Yes, quite so. There is also this:
In a way, opponents of the war were wrong. We were wrong because however disastrous we thought the consequences of the Iraq war, the reality has been worse. The US massacres in Fallujah in the immediate aftermath of the war, which helped radicalise the Sunni population, culminating in an assault on the city with white phosphorus. The beheadings, the kidnappings and hostage videos, the car bombs, the IEDs, the Sunni and Shia insurgencies, the torture declared by the UN in 2006 to be worse than that under Saddam Hussein, the bodies with their hands and feet bound and dumped in rivers, the escalating sectarian slaughter, the millions of displaced civilians, and the hundreds of thousands who died: it has been one never-ending blur of horror since 2003.
Again yes. And presently there is ISIS, black clad hooded reinstitutionalizers of public crucifixions, that have taken over one third of Iraq. All I can say is that it will be even worse before there is a hope that it will get better, for too much that is essential for even a mere halfway democracy has been destroyed, mostly intentionally so, and by the USA.

The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

Rather than confront poverty by extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, endorsing a higher minimum wage, or supporting jobs programs, conservative Republicans are taking a different tack.

They're peddling three big lies about poverty.
And here are the lies, but without the explanatory texts:
Lie #1: Economic growth reduces poverty.
Lie #2: Jobs reduce poverty.
Lie #3: Ambition cures poverty.
These certainly are not the only lies, and maybe not even the most important lies, but they all three have a feature in common that indeed does make them lies, that also are difficult to argue against: They all miss an IF.

I do not know whether Reich missed it, for he explains things otherwise, but he may have, for here is the ending of his piece, that I agree with:

So why do so many right-wing Republicans tell these three lies? Because they make it almost impossible to focus on what the poor really need are good-paying jobs, adequate safety nets, and excellent schools.

These things cost money. Lies are cheaper.

Yes indeed.

Now to the three IFs:

Economic growth reduces poverty - IF the growth is distributed fairly.
Jobs reduce poverty - IF the jobs pay enough.
Ambition cures poverty - IF everyone got free and good education that suits his or her talents.

None of the IFs is even remotely true, and none is true because especially the GOP has taken care that they are not
even remotely true: Republicans have assured there is no redistribution of wealth where they can help it; they have been for minimizing all wages; and they have been against all good public education.

And then they use lies like the present three, to do more of the same.
8. Senior NSA Executive: NSA Started Spying On Journalists in 2002

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog, with a three-line title that I repeat once, because it does summarize the article well (but I don't like long headlines, nearly always):
Here is the main part of the article - and Thomas Drake is an ex-NSA member, who nearly got prosecuted by them, and whose story and difficulties inspired Edward Snowden to do it his own way:

THOMAS DRAKE: Part of what I discovered is that part of the surveillance system, part of the Stellar Wind system - and that's an umbrella term in itself - there were offshoots of that.

It metastasized. It grew like a cancer on the body politic.

One of the things that was done was [along the lines of]: ‚€œYou know what? We've got to make sure (because they were paranoid) we've got to make sure that this stuff doesn't get out - oh yeah, the press. Let's violate the Fourth Amendment and just monitor the press.

The whole story of that has not come out.

There was a program called "First Fruits". They've no doubt changed the name of the program [since then.]

And that First Fruits program was a cutout which was designed from all of the domestic surveillance take. Let's just pipe off from all that is involving designated [reporters] or in some cases whole groups of reporters and journalists.

So you're targeting actual newspapers. You're targeting media outlets.

And you're monitoring "on a persistent basis" their communications.

WASHINGTON'S BLOG: How early did that start?

THOMAS DRAKE: The preliminary version of that - as far as an active program - was in 2002.

Which explains why there are fewer and fewer real journalists, and more and more mock "journalists", who only relay what the government consents with and agree to.
P.S. Jun 16, 2014: Well... I've just restored or corrected quite a number of double and single quote marks (" and ') that somehow were replaced by three strange marks in this post. I do not know what was the cause of that and I also find it strange I didn't see this before. 
[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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