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Nederlog


  July
30, 2014
Crisis: Terrorism, Internet, Wikileaks, The Rich, CIA, Totalitarian Future
  "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
















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Sections
Introduction

1.
Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza
2. Is the internet now just one big human experiment?
3. WikiLeaks reveals Australian gagging order over political
     bribery allegations

4. 
The rich want us to believe their wealth is good for us all
5.
Pushing Release of CIA Torture Report, Senators
     Threaten Use of Special Rule

6. OUR TOTALITARIAN FUTURE – PART ONE
7. Tiny Gaza Visualized Shows There’s Nowhere To Run

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 30. It is a crisis log. (And I did repair the table at the end: This got skewered 2 days ago.)
 
1. Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
As I’ve written many times before, “terrorism” is, and from the start was designed to be, almost entirely devoid of discernible meaning. It’s a fear-mongering slogan, lacking any consistent application, intended to end rational debate and justify virtually any conduct by those who apply the term. But to the extent it means anything beyond that, it typically refers to the killing of civilians as a means of furthering political or military goals.
Yes, and indeed this also agrees with my definition of terrorism, which incidentally is from August 16, 2004, and hardly different in later editions (that concerned the form rather than the contents).

But there are two supplementary remarks that should be made. First, while very many religious and political groups have been acting as terrorists - defined by me as:
Attempt to get one's way in politics or religion by violence and murder - these groups and their supporters do not call it "terrorism", but "freedom fighting" or some such name. Second, by far the most terrorism is state terrorism, that is, it is committed by military men, policemen or secret service men from some state. Incidentally, these definitions are mostly value free: some sort of terror - though the perpetrators almost never call it that - may be justified in some sense.

Next, Greenwald displays two graphics, that contain the following information:

(1) Until July 29 and since July 8, 53 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians were killed
(2)
Until July 29 and since July 8, 826 Palestinian civilians and 275 "militants"  
     were killed.

I quoted "militants" because it was quoted. That is, just looking at persons, 56 Israelis died and 1101 Palestians died, which amounts to about 1 Israeli killed to 20 Palestinians killed.

Here is Greenwald's concluding paragraph:
In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is “terrorism”; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3), that is noble “self-defense.” That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term “terrorists.”
Yes, indeed. For more on this, see item 7 below.

2. Is the internet now just one big human experiment? 

The next item is an article by Dan Gillmor on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

If you thought the internet industry was chastened by the publicfirestorm after Facebook revealed it had manipulated the news feeds of its own users to affect their emotions, think again: OKCupid.com, the dating site, is now bragging that it deliberately arranged matches between people whom its algorithms determined were not compatible – just to get data on how well the site was working.

In a Monday blog post entitled – I’m not making this up – “We Experiment On Human Beings!” the site’s co-founder, Christian Rudder, essentially told us to face the facts of our modern world ... at least as he sees them:

[G]uess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.

I say. Mr. Rudder sounds like a contented mafia boss: "Everybody shoots his opponents to get their own way - what could conceivably be wrong with that?!"

To start with, my websites do not work like that, and indeed I think the great majority of non-corporate websites do not work like that. Also, any experiments done with my two sites, if any, are done behind my back and without my consent.

In fact, it's mainly corporate websites that are out to make money from their customers that may work like that, but I am willing to grant that these far more often "experiment with" - mostly: deceive - their customers, simply to increase their profits, than they let on ("every site"), and they do so because they can and because they expect to increase their profits that way.

Towards the end of the article, there is this:

In the way they operate, the internet companies hold almost all the cards, and their users hold almost none. We – members of the public and academics alike – should not just let it happen, argues the University of North Carolina’s Zeynep Tufekci:

To me, this resignation to online corporate power is a troubling attitude because these large corporations (and governments and political campaigns) now have new tools and stealth methods to quietly model our personality, our vulnerabilities, identify our networks, and effectively nudge and shape our ideas, desires and dreams. These tools are new, this power is new and evolving.

Yes, indeed. And since there are quite a few major bastards who will do almost anything to get rich, and many unintelligent web users, this will continue until almost everything is safely and truly encrypted - which one also can say now is the major mistake of the whole web: it should have been fully encrypted from the start.

3. WikiLeaks reveals Australian gagging order over political bribery allegations

The next item is by Robert Booth on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

A sweeping gagging order issued in Australia to block reporting of any bribery allegations involving several international political leaders in the region has been exposed by WikiLeaks.

The prohibition emerged from a criminal case in the Australian courts and applies throughout the country. It was issued by the criminal division of the supreme court of Victoria in Melbourne "to prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings".

The Australia-wide gagging order is a superinjunction, which means it also contains a clause insisting that the terms of the order itself should remain secret.

Well... that is fascist law in the land of Oz, it seems to me, and I do not refer to the injunction, but to the superinjunction "that the terms of the order itself should remain secret": That is not justice, certainly not in a case like this, that concerns bribery by political leaders: this is evident injustice designed to secretly protect them.

Real justice is public justice; anything that is not public justice must be suspected to be injustice. (It may be justified in rare cases, but not to shield political leaders from bribery allegations.)

4. The rich want us to believe their wealth is good for us all

The next item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

When inequality reaches extreme and destructive levels, most governments seek not to confront it but to accommodate it. Wherever wealth is absurdly concentrated, new laws arise to protect it.

In Britain, for example, successive governments have privatised any public asset that excites corporate greed. They have cut taxes on capital and high incomes. They have legalised new forms of tax avoidance. They have delivered exotic gifts such as subsidised shotgun licences and the doubling of state support for grouse moors. And they have dug a legal moat around the charmed circle, criminalising, for example, the squatting of empty buildings and most forms of peaceful protest. However grotesque inequality becomes, however closely the accumulation of inordinate wealth resembles legalised theft, political norms shift to defend it.

Yes - but the reasons must be that the politicians in the governments that do this are corrupt and lying, which I agree they are in Great Britain, in great majority, and have been for decades, indeed also with a few exceptions.

Monbiot explains it as follows:
The very rich want people like themselves in power, which is why we have a government of millionaires.

But that describes only one corner of their influence. They fund lobby groups, thinktanks and economists to devise ever more elaborate justifications for their seizure of the nation’s wealth. These justifications are then amplified by the newspapers and broadcasters owned by the same elite.

Again yes, but with some additional points. First, while this is true, it has grown, and apparently was started in the early 1970ies, by Lewis Powell Jr. And it has grown mainly by (1) paying many lobbyists (<-Wikipedia), a practice which enormously grew the last 20 or 30 years, also in many countries, and by (2) making almost everything a matter of paid propaganda aka "public relations": there is almost no letter by any kind of corporation that I receive these days that has not been carefully edited by some propagandist: All supposedly in my interests, but all really to further the profits or reputations of those who paid for it. And again, that is so since some 20 years.

Monbiot has another good explanation:
If wages reflect merit, why do they seem so arbitrary? Are the richest executives 50 or 100 times better at their jobs than their predecessors were in 1980? Are they 20 times more skilled and educated than the people immediately below them, even though they went to the same business schools? Are US executives several times as creative and dynamic as those in Germany? If so, why are their results so unremarkable?

It is, of course, all rubbish. What we see is not meritocracy at work at all, but a wealth grab by a nepotistic executive class that sets its own salaries, tests credulity with its ridiculous demands, and discovers that credulity is an amenable customer. They must marvel at how they get away with it.

Yes, indeed - and in fact wages never reflected merit in any way that I can see. When there still were a majority of ordinary jobs, that is, before the arisal of "the service economy", the hardest work was done by workers and farmers, who got the least paid, mainly on the basis of the deception that they had little formal  education.

But Monbiot is right about the "
nepotistic executive class that sets its own salaries, tests credulity with its ridiculous demands" - and also right about the fact that so far they have successfully deceived the great majority.

There is considerably more by way of the last dotted link.

5. Pushing Release of CIA Torture Report, Senators Threaten Use of Special Rule

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

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

U.S. Senators are considering using a special rule to compel the White House to reveal the information from their investigation into the CIA's post-9/11 use of torture to interrogate detainees.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado) have both warned the Obama administration this week that they are willing to use Senate Resolution 400, which gives the Senate Intelligence Committee the power to disclose information it considered to be in the public interest without presidential approval, to publish the report if the White House continues to stall its release. It reads:

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics is authorized to investigate unauthorized disclosures of intelligence information by a Member, officer, or employee of the Senate and to report to the Senate on any substantiated allegation.
The rule was established in 1976 when the committee was formed. It has only been used once in the past (...)
I say. As the rest of the article makes clear, this would require a closed full Senate session, which is rare, and even then it depends on voting, but at least this sounds as if there is a chance the Senate may publish the report it wrote (!).

Whether it will work is an open question.

6.  OUR TOTALITARIAN FUTURE – PART ONE

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

This is a long article that is the first of two, or more. It is interesting and based on quotations by Aldous Huxley, from "Brave New World Revisited", that was published in 1958, 27 years after the publication of "Brave New World".

I agree that the future looks totalitarian, and also that whether indeed it will be, will be decided the next 35 years, until 2050. Happily - speaking for myself - I am 64 now and will be 100 in 2050, so it is not likely I will be around then. But I agree the future looks bleak for almost everyone.

Here is the first paragraph:
As the world explodes in violence, war, riots, and uprisings, it is challenging to step back and examine the bigger picture. With airliners being shot down over the Ukraine, missiles flying between Israel and Gaza, ongoing civil war in Syria, Iraq falling apart as ISIS gains ground, dictatorship crackdown in Egypt, Turkey on the verge of revolution, Iran gaining control of Iraq, Saudi Arabia fomenting violence, Africa dissolving into chaos, South America imploding and sending their children across our purposely porous southern border, Mexico under the control of drug lords, China experiencing a slow motion real estate collapse, Japan experiencing their third decade of Keynesian failure, facing a demographic nightmare scenario while being slowly poisoned by radiation, and Chinese-Japanese relations moving towards World War II levels, it is easy to get lost in the day to day minutia of history in the making.
It does sound to me - how shall I put it - a bit negative, but then I agree that indeed there is a whole lot to be negative about, and also very little that one can oppose to it, at least: apart from propaganda and lies.

The next three paragraphs are long lists of many questions, that ends as follows:
Why have Americans lost their desire to read, think critically, question authority, act responsibly, defer gratification, and care about future generations? Why have Americans sacrificed their freedoms, liberties and rights for the false expectation of safety and security? Why will we pay dearly for our delusional, materialistic, debt financed idiocy? – Because we never learn the lessons of history.
I don't think that answer is quite correct, and it certainly is too vague. And while I do not think I have good answers to all the questions (and no one has), I would say that the main human problem is not that they "never learn the lessons of history" but, more simply and concretely, that the majority of mankind is not intelligent, and therefore ignorant, and for both reasons very easily deceived and taken in. And this has happened, and still is happening, in the great majority of adults, in spite of the fact that - so far - there are some intelligent and rational voices who mostly speak the truth.

This also doesn't prompt any solution but it does locate the problem where it should start: That most human beings are - I keep it polite - not intelligent.

In any case, this first part is mostly about overpopulation:
Aldous Huxley foretold all the indicators of a world descending into totalitarianism due to overpopulation, propaganda, brainwashing, consumerism, and dumbing down of a distracted populace in his 1958 reassessment of his 1931 novel Brave New World.
I agree more than not, but as I said: it seems to me that the writer is a bit to negative in style - but that may be due to me, and I agree that the future of most living persons does not seem happy at all.

7. Tiny Gaza Visualized Shows There’s Nowhere To Run 

The next item is not an article but a video of 12 m 41 s by The Young Turks:

This is from the blurb under the video (minus a note)
“Make sure and tell everyone. Because in five minutes we will strike the target,” says the voice on the line.
Israel’s military has been calling and texting residents of the Gaza Strip for weeks, warning civilians of impending military strikes against Hamas targets. There have been leaflets, too, dropped by the thousands, urging residents of certain neighborhoods to flee.

“It is the intention of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] to carry out aerial strikes against terror sites and operatives in Shuja’iya and Zeitoun ... For your own safety, you are requested to vacate your residence immediately and head towards Gaza City,” read one recent example, provided by the IDF. " The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.
It is over 12 minutes of video, but I like it and it also is - as the phrase goes - "measured". I doubt it will work, but that is not TYT's fault.

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

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.)


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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