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Nederlog


  July
29, 2014
Crisis: NSA, Banks, Multinationals, Architecture, Microsoft, Nuclear, Chaos, Cristensen
  "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
Sections
Introduction

1.
Top Journalists and Lawyers: NSA Surveillance Threatens
     Press Freedom and Right to Counsel

2. The Absurdity of Celebrating ‘Successes’ of Bailed-Out
     Banks
 
3. The Increasing Irrelevance of Corporate Nationality
4.
So much architecture is monstrous – that’s why we like
     to see it demolished

5.
Microsoft faces monopoly investigation in China
6. John Oliver: America Is a Useless Nuclear Weapon
     ‘Hoarder’ and Nobody Cares

7. All of the Countries which the U.S. “Regime Changed”
     Have Descended into Brutal Chaos

8. Doctor Munchausen: Dear Luise

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 29. It is a crisis log.

Today I found 9 articles sorted in 8 sections about some aspect of the crisis - which I do understand in a somewhat special, though perfectly rational way, I think: See
Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis and especially Crisis + DSM-5: It's the deregulation, stupid!

That is, I include several aspects in the crisis:

The economy, the health care, the education system, politics and civil law, the public debate and the climate are all in crisis, and indeed all but the first have been in crisis or decline since 1980, at the latest, even though this is not clear to many, while the economy has been tottering since the 1980ies and went into crisis mode in 2008, largely due to deregulations, as are the other parts of the crisis.

Also note that my perspective is - at least - a little different from most: I am a radical who is the last of a family of radicals [2], but I am far less political than my family and than most who write about politics, and my basic motivation differs: I am an intellectual and a scientist, and also a human individual, before I am a political person, which in fact does happen more but is quite rare.

Finally, the key aspect of all the crises is either deregulation or - systematic - lack of real and effective rational regulation (as with the climate), and I am not saying this because I am a socialist or marxist, for I am not: I think a real civilization requires extensive regulations to keep civilized [3] -
"Taxes are what we pay for civilized society": Supreme Court judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr - but this is all quite possible in many different ways, and the main thing that keep things civilized is that all parties debate freely and informedly, and come to decisions that do some justice to most parties.

Anyway - more of this later. Now to the news.
 

1. Top Journalists and Lawyers: NSA Surveillance Threatens Press Freedom and Right to Counsel

The first item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

To do their jobs properly, journalists and lawyers sometimes need to be able to keep information private from the government.

And because what journalists and lawyers do is so integral to safeguarding democracy and basic rights, the United States has traditionally recognized their need for privileged communications.

But the virtually inescapable government surveillance exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has impaired if not eliminated the ability of news-gatherers and attorneys to communicate confidentially with their sources and their clients, according to a new report by two rights advocacy groups.

The report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union is based on an exhaustive new survey of journalists and lawyers working in the areas of national security and intelligence. Both groups of professionals describe a substantial erosion in their ability to do their constitutionally-protected jobs.
Yes, indeed - and "impaired if not eliminated" seems rather optimistic, because one does not know (1) whether one is surveilled nor (2) how much one is surveilled nor (3) how much is known of one, e.g. including one's secret passwords that one uses for encryption, if one uses that (as seems the only feasible way to make surveilling less easy).

Here I also notice that Windows 8, and possibly also all earlier Windows, are supposed to have secret spy gates.

There is a lot more in the article, that I recommend you read all of, and it also gets well reported here, by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
I also quote one bit from this article:

"Secrecy works against all of us," said Dana Priest, a reporter for the Washington Post. "What makes government better is our work exposing information. It's not just that it's harder for me to do my job, though it is. It [also] makes the country less safe."

Similarly, lawyers say that government surveillance has crippled their ability to maintain confidential correspondence with their clients, threatening the trust, free exchange of information, and potentially the security of those involved.

Jason Wright, a member of the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps who does work before the Guantanamo commissions, told the researchers that he and his colleagues are "fearful" that their communications with witnesses abroad are being monitored and consequently, attempts to build their case "might put people in harm's way."

The authors charge that this amounts to the "erosion of the right to counsel," which they say is a "pillar of procedural justice under human rights law and the US Constitution."

Again there is more in the article, that I recommend you read (and it does overlap with the previous one).

2. The Absurdity of Celebrating ‘Successes’ of Bailed-Out Banks 

The next item is an article by Don Quijones on Wolf Street:

I will quote just one bit from a lot more:

Case One: The Mother of All TBTF Monstrosities

The financial markets and press broke out the bollinger on Thursday to celebrate the Royal Bank of Scotland’s return to profits, followed by a 10% surge in its shares. The fact that the bank, despite having received a public bailout worth some 45 billion pounds (all of which has by now been squandered), is still, at best, semi-solvent no longer seems to matter. Nor does it seem to matter that the bank’s profits are alleged to be largely the result of systemic fraud, highly creative accounting, and wholesale abuse of its own business customers.

Note that part of the "systemic fraud" is explained in the next few paragraphs.

What I want to comment on here is that I agree this happens, and this happens a lot, and one of the main reasons seems to be that those gambling on stocks and shares have lost all morality: the only thing that matters to them is the profits their own gambles make, and it doesn't matter whether the underlying mechanism is deeply corrupt and rests on abuse. If one makes a profit oneself, all is well.

In fact, I think that has always been the case, although there now is a difference: "Greed is good", also in public self-advertisements. That always has been the sentiment of most gamblers on stocks and shares, but one of the effects of the libertarian "philosophy" is that this and "Selfishness is Good" now also hold publicly, and serve as self-evident justifications everyone is supposed to swallow.

Anyway, there is a lot more under the last dotted link.

3. The Increasing Irrelevance of Corporate Nationality 

The next item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

“You shouldn’t get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from the American taxpayers,” President Obama said Thursday.

He was referring to American corporations now busily acquiring foreign companies in order to become non-American, thereby reducing their U.S. tax bill.

But the President might as well have been talking about all large American multinationals.

Yes, indeed - though Obama tends to say A and do not-A: one wonders why?

There is a lot more and it seems in fact many large companies now have most of their money in foreign countries, while remaining formerly American, and paying very little American taxes. (Incidentally, Holland is one notable example of a country were big corporations like to live formally, because it has very convenient laws for such companies: it takes a lot less in taxes than the original countries.)

We are also told (after I skip several examples):

Increasingly, corporate nationality is whatever a corporation decides it is.

Yes, and two main reasons are that (1) that many corporations are multi-nationals, in producing and managing their products in several countries, while (2) their only moral norm is their own profits, which means that American companies let their products be made in 3rd world countries, taxed in Holland or the Cayman Islands, and sold to Americans and Europeans: Less wages, less taxes, more profits.

Finally, here is another of Obama's sayings:

Which brings us back to American companies that are morphing into foreign companies in order to lower their U.S. tax bill.

“I don’t care if it’s legal,” said the President. “It’s wrong.”

Again, after six years of Obama's "Change! Yes, we scan!" I suppose he means the opposite of what he says: he does care it's legal, and it's right, because he doesn't do much to prevent it, but apart from that, the literal quote is something he does not say about Edward Snowden, who may have broken some laws, because he knew about many extremely wrong things his government did, and
kept secret and keeps secret.

There is considerably more in the article, that you get by clicking the last dotted link.

4. So much architecture is monstrous – that’s why we like to see it demolished

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

I must admit this is part of the crisis only in a somewhat extended sense, and it is here because I hate modern architecture, that is, most anything built since the 1930ies, and especially the horrors built in England and other places in the 1960ies and later.

Why do I hate it? Basically, because it is very ugly and hardly human - but I agree few see it as I do, which is with a considerable liking for good architecture, and also - like my father - with a considerable architectural talent, although neither he nor I did anything with it: We both can draw fairly well; we both are good at mathematics; and we both are or were esthetically sensitive.

Anyway, here is Jonathan Jones:
Personally I am with the enthusiasts who turned out in Didcot to see their local landmark demolished. In fact I can’t get enough of buildings being destroyed. I’ve recently become fascinated by the Action Movie app, which allows you to film special effects sequences. I find it a valuable critical release to virtually demolish buildings I hate (...)
I haven't gone so far, but I do sympathize. Here is some more:
The fact is that a lot of modern architecture is monstrous, and seeing it blow up is an ecstatic release. 1960s tower blocks that were built in an ugly spirit of authoritarian design, combined with corrupt penny-pinching, deserve to be destroyed. As for cooling towers that dominate a town or, much worse, an entire rural landscape, the fewer of them there are, the better.
Yes, indeed. For those who want to see the three cooling towers - each higher than Holland's highest church: 114 meters of concrete horror blocking the sky - go down: There is a nice movie at the start of the piece, and I enjoyed it and it made me laugh to see these architectural monstrosities go down. Nice!

5. Microsoft faces monopoly investigation in China

The next item is an article by Agence-France Press on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:
Chinese investigation into Microsoft is probably targeting its "monopoly" of the country's operating systems market, state media have said, after the US software company became the latest foreign firm to go under Beijing's scrutiny.

Microsoft confirmed in a statement late on Monday that it was under investigation in China, without disclosing details.

"We aim to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect, and we will address any concerns the government may have," it said.

The inquiry comes after China in May banned the use of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system on all new government computers, amid reports alleging security concerns.

Nice, again! I had missed it that China forbade Windows 8 (which may open an enormous market for Linux, which is what I use, quite happily also), which is excellent news.

As to Microsoft: They lie like Obama, who lies like a public relations office: You need to get the real meaning - what he does, what they mean - by denying their statements: Thus, Microsoft does not "
build products that deliver the features, security and reliability" I expect and demand, and it will evade "any concerns the government may have".

And it does help, now and then, to write out these translations to see what policians & corporations really mean with their glib phrases.

But this is good news, for the Chinese market is large and Linux is free, easy to install, and better than Windows.

6. John Oliver: America Is a Useless Nuclear Weapon ‘Hoarder’ and Nobody Cares

The next item is an article by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:

This starts as follows, and introduces a video of 15 m 22 s with John Oliver (who does discuss interesting themes, and does it well):

Utter indifference to the fact that the United States has in its (extremely haphazard) control enough warheads to destroy humanity is the reason we’ll spend $355 billion over the next decade to maintain our nukes. And if you’re thinking, “Oh well, at least they’re in good hands,” the “Last Week Tonight” host will make you think again by providing recent examples of the inept hands watching over these missiles.

The video is interesting, and shows it is mainly a mess - but yes: the nukes are still there. And this item is here because I wrote three days ago that
most of the atomic weapons are still in place, to the best of my knowledge, both in the West and in Russia.
Yes, they are, though it seems they are not in good hands.

7. All of the Countries which the U.S. “Regime Changed” – Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – Have Descended into Brutal Chaos

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:

This starts as follows (colors in the original)

Quantifying the Effects of Regime Change

Since 2001, the U.S. has undertaken regime change in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

All 3 countries are now in chaos … and extremists are more in control than ever.

Yes, indeed - and this is next shown in detail. (Also, Washington's Blog has a next article, Our Totalitarian Future - Part One, that I probably take up tomorrow: I had planned something similar, but he was there first.)

8. Doctor Munchausen: Dear Luise

The final item is an article by Dr. David Healy, and concerns the - enormous - corruptions in psychiatry and medicine that have unfoldened, also in an ever increasing tempo, since 1980:

This starts with the following summary (colors in the original):

Dear Luise by Dorrit Cato Christensen  is one of most extraordinary books about healthcare ever written.  Medical books are usually about great discoveries, great endurance, or triumph in one way or another.  Dear Luise is about the dark side of medicine – the side that offers doctors the opportunities to kill without detection.  It is set in mental health settings but the story of power and powerlessness can be found everywhere from the offices of primary care doctors through to arthritis or cardiovascular clinics.

Yes, indeed - so I have learned the last 4 years in some detail, by reading a lot of psychiatry and some medicine, and by interpreting being left to starve by myself for 36 genuinely ill years without any help except minimal dole (that still insists I am healthy, not because they know anything but because this is cheaper for them and more painful for me, and also refuses to address me by my titles, and refuses to even consider the argument that had I been healthy I would not be in Holland but work at some university elsewhere, with my very excellent degrees).

This starts as follows - and let me congratulate you if you are healthy and therefore, very probably, do not know these things, for healthy people generally do not think about health and healthcare, and indeed I did not either, until I fell ill and did never get better - and this is by Dr. David Healy, while the rest, that is not reproduced here but that you can get by the above dotted link, is by Dorrit Cato Christensen:

Almost forever it seems, psychiatry has been “arriving”.  For decades, its apologists have been saying now we are a branch of medicine.  But nobody outside the field buys this claim.  The extraordinary thing is that psychiatry was the first branch of medicine to have specialist hospitals, the first to have specialist journals, the first to adopt an evidence based approach, the first to eliminate some of the major illnesses it was called upon to cure. Maybe it needs to think again about what real medicine is all about.

Elsewhere in medicine, fifty years ago if a mother was concerned there was something wrong with her child but the doctors could find nothing it was common to give her a tranquilizer and dismiss her as neurotic.  I had a younger brother whom my mother insisted had problems but the doctors decided she was neurotic and perhaps wrecked her marriage by persuading her husband to get her to take a tranquilizer.  My brother died.

By the time I got into medicine, the pediatricians were telling us that even if all tests looked normal we should never dismiss a mother’s instinct. That’s what happened in real medicine.

In psychiatry to this day, if a mother voices concerns that things are not right with her child she will be regarded as toxic and the system will seek to blame her for all problems and to exclude her. They will bizarrely label her as a Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy mother. Things are probably getting worse rather than better. Internet forums are full of children removed from parents and then medicated even more forcibly if the parents complain. There seems to be almost nowhere to go with these complaints – no way to save a child. This is especially common in America but happens in North Wales also.

There is a lot more that I do recommend you to read, simply because it is true, and because you and anyone who gets ill runs the serious risk of being maltreated in the same way, especially though not only by psychiatrists - who are not scientists but pseudoscientists, whatever they claim: This describes them quite precisely in the sense that everything is literally true if "Pseudoscience" is replaced by "Psychiatry", that indeed also has a consciously adopted "general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories":

Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.

A field, practice, or body of knowledge can reasonably be called pseudoscientific when it is presented as consistent with the norms of scientific research, but it demonstrably fails to meet these norms. (Start of "Pseudoscience" on Wikipedia, minus 1 note.)

It is not a happy story at all, and Luise died, and effectively was killed by years of misdiagnosis and maltreatment. But it should serve as a warning to some what doctors and psychiatrists have become, and how much power they have, and that it certainly pays to find a good G.P. before you fall ill - and I say that also because that is also not easy these days. (And I did, after discarding two.)

---------------------------------

Notes
[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] Because my brother and I are the last line of our direct family: We have no children.

As to my being a radical: My father, mother and one grandfather were marxists; my father and his father were in the resistance, arrested and convicted to the concentration camp, that my grandfather did not survive; my father was
knighted as one of the only two communists to which this happened (because "communists are traitors", you see); my mother was in the communist resistance, but not arrested; her parents were anarchists, and her family were atheists since the 1850ies. (And while I disagree with them, I think they were fine and intelligent persons, certainly those I have known, and they were what they were because they were more intelligent and more moral than the average.)

Also, I am the first and only one in four generations who studied at a university and made his - excellent - degree, and while I definitely am a radical I am much less political - I never found any party I could as much as half agree with, and I much dislike the totalitarianism that characterizes all political parties and most of their members - and I also am considerably 
more scientific than my family. I also never met anybody who is more like me than not (except perhaps for Stephanie Faulkner, who died long ago, while the relation we had broke in 1972).

[3] This insight is at least 2500 and quite possibly 10.000 years old, and has taken many different forms, certainly not all equal or well-founded, but civilzed in principle because they all agreed civilization is based on some combination of regulation, consent, and personal freedom. What is quite new and totally wrong and mistaken is the utter idiocy of Ayn Rand, the Tea Party, and the Libertarians who reduce everything to fanatical cries of "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" - which means in effect that all regulations and the state must either go or be minimized for the benefit of the rich and the powerful. This they also never honestly say while it is what their kind of freedom means in practice: the  unregulated freedom of the few rich and powerful to exploit and subject the many poor, and do away with civilization for all; and the freedom of the bankmanagers to pay themselves tens of millions a year, because they are free to fraud and steal, again because corrupted politicians claim "they are too big to fail".


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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