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Nederlog


  August
9, 2014
Crisis: Propaganda, Whistleblowers,  Putin, Klein, Authoritarians, Agnotology, NYT
  "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.
U.S. “Humanitarian” Bombing of Iraq: A Redundant
     Presidential Ritual

2. The Unhappy Lives of Whistleblowers and the Anechoic
     Effect

3. Was Putin Targeted for Mid-Air Assassination?
4. Naomi Klein: 'Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on
    
Earth'
5.
Are the Authoritarians Winning?
6. Access Journalism, Agnotology, and Breeding for Elite
     Incompetence

7. New York Times Now Using Torture, Finally

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, August 9. It is a crisis log.

There are seven items and eight dotted links.
 
1. U.S. “Humanitarian” Bombing of Iraq: A Redundant Presidential Ritual 

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts with quotations, in pictures, of 10 headlines that appeared the last 24 years. I will quote some of their titles, sometimes partially since they are evidently propaganda, and prefix the year of publication:

1990: Bush: Saddam Worse Than Hitler
2003: Blair likens Saddam to Hitler
2014: ISIS 'Worse Than Al Qaeda,'

There are seven more, but you get the idea: Make it sound more horrific than any previous horror, and you may get your wishes for more weapons and more military activities satisfied.

Glenn Greenwald then makes 7 numbered points. Here is the first, in part:

(1) For those who ask “what should be done?,” has the hideous aftermath of the NATO intervention in Libya – hailed as a grand success for “humanitarian interventions” – not taught the crucial lessons that (a) bombing for ostensibly “humanitarian” ends virtually never fulfills the claimed goals but rather almost always makes the situation worse; (b) the U.S. military is not designed, and is not deployed, for “humanitarian” purposes?; and (c) the U.S. military is not always capable of “doing something” positive about every humanitarian crisis even if that were really the goal of U.S. officials?

Here are the beginnings of the second and third points:

(2) It is simply mystifying how anyone can look at U.S. actions in the Middle East and still believe that the goal of its military deployments is humanitarianism.

(3) “Humanitarianism” is the pretty packaging in which all wars – even the most blatantly aggressive ones – are wrapped, but it is almost never the actual purpose.

And this is the ending (part of (7)):

Targeted strikes against ISIS is obviously not remotely the same as a full-scale invasion of Iraq, but whatever else is true, and whatever one’s opinions are on this latest bombing, it is self-evidently significant that, as the NYT’s Peter Baker wrote today, “Mr. Obama became the fourth president in a row to order military action in that graveyard of American ambition” known as Iraq.

In brief, this is a good piece you should read by yourself.

2. The Unhappy Lives of Whistleblowers and the Anechoic Effect 

The next item is an article by Roy M. Poses MD on Health Care Renewal - and the actual title is longer:

The actual title starts with  "Retrospective on the Bluhmsohn - Procter and Gamble - Sheffield University Affair:" after which the rest of the title follows.

You can read it, and you can also read part of the source of this paper, which is John Morgan's article in the Times Higher Education:

I may return to the last article in a later Nederlog. What concerns me here is just the following quotation in the first from the second article:

Whistleblowers in universities can hit the national headlines for shining light on issues of public interest, only for their careers to end up in very dark places.

Some of higher education’s most prominent whistleblowers paint a bleak picture about the impact on their subsequent careers. They talk about being persecuted by colleagues after coming forward. But even after leaving their jobs, some believe they still suffer a legacy. One talks about being 'effectively blackballed' from ever working again in higher education.

For other whistleblowers, exile is self-enforced.

In fact, I am a double whistleblower:

I tried to blow the whistle on the gigantic corruption and degeneration in the Dutch universities - and was (with a father and a grandfather in concentration camps during WW II, because of their resistance) extensively called "a fascist" and "a terrorist" (the last because academic philosophers lost their public discussions with me) and I was simply removed as a student from the faculty of philosophy, briefly before taking my M.A., because I had dared to ask questions

Also, absolutely nothing except finishing an M.A. in psychology, with one of the best M.A.'s ever awarded, was possible after that, and I owe the M.A. to the special help I got. But I even was refused 10 dollars a week in the early 2000s by another narko-nazi mayor of Amsterdam in order to clean my house so that I could take the Ph.D.: Not allowed in Amsterdam, especially not if your father and grandfather went to the concentration camp for resisting the Nazis.

I also tried to blow the whistle on the enormous corruption in Holland as regards soft drugs, that most Americans and other foreigners seem to believe are legal in Holland, because they are sold freely in coffeeshops all over Holland. They are not: Soft drugs and hard drugs are still illegal, but a combination of corrupt politicians, corrupt lawyers and corrupt judges have arranged a scene in which the corrupt mayors may give their personal permission to dealers to deal, worth literally tens of billions of dollars each year.

Now, I would guess myself that these political gentlemen did this for a mere 5 or 10% of the turnover, since this can be easily paid by the clients, but I have no proof [2]. But because this dealing happens systematically since the middle 1980ies, and all through Holland, the Dutch illegal/legal drugs sales were at least 260 billion dollars worth, in 26 years, and probably at least double of that if the hard drugs are counted. Also, all of this information is from the only Parliamentary Report on it that was published in 1996: It is not reasonable to doubt it or qualify it.

Again I tried to make my voice heard via the press, and was completely stonewalled (and ill-treated), as happened also in the case of the University of Amsterdam.

I tend to forget I am a double whistleblower because I also am ill since 1.1.1979, and that is the only reason why I am in Holland, since I am Dutch, and the illness is much more important to me than the whistleblowing, but I did - see M.E. in Amsterdam for both: since 2002 on line, and never a single word of disagreement - though I failed to interest nearly everyone inside and outside Holland, because no journalist ever was interested.

Here are two reasons why I failed, which I did not see at all, or did not see as well before the turn of the century:

  • Dutch journalism is completely corrupt: The journalists serve the political masters, and keep out of the papers what threatens to disservice their interests. This has grown worse recently, but in fact existed at least since the early 1980ies. Reason: Each of the two cases I tried to report are of major importance, and should have been widely discussed - but I was systematically ignored, not answered and effectively discriminated by everyone, save a very few.
  • Dutch politicians are completely corrupt: They, the judges, the policemen and the district attorneys have been playing the game of the mafia since the middle 1980ies. Nobody ever discusses them - since the Van Traa Report -  in a rational fashion and based on relevant knowledge, nor does anybody discuss the gigantic judicial treason involved in allowing this "legally illegal" schema of enrichment, that is worth at least 260 billion dollars since 1985, all illegally earned, all untaxed, and for the most part reinvested in housing and building. (In part this also  happened because many Dutchmen profit from it: drugs are cheap and very easy to get in Holland).

There is much more I could say, but I merely repeat that the two cases I tried to blow the whistle on were very important (the radical decline of all education since the middle 1960ies, and the incredible increase in tolerated illegal drugsdealing for profit) and that I totally failed because absolutely no journalist decided to take these cases up, while all mayors, aldermen, politicians, and all bureaucrats systematically refused to answer any of my mails or articles (that were about being gassed and threatened with murder by the drugsdealers they had permitted to deal from the house where I lived, to name just one bit).

To end this theme: I did make no career of any kind, but this is probably much less due to my whistleblowing than to my illness:

If I had not been ill, given the quality of my diplomas and my mind, I could easily have left Holland and found good employment elsewhere, and indeed I would have left Holland anyway at the latest in 1980 if I had been healthy: I live in a sick, immoral, degenerate, corrupt, lazy and highly levelled country, where I very much rather would not live.

3. Was Putin Targeted for Mid-Air Assassination?

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortium News:

This is quite interesting, and starts with a brief introduction:

Exclusive: Official Washington’s conventional wisdom on the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down blames Russian President Putin, but some U.S. intelligence analysts think Putin, whose plane was flying nearby, may have been the target of Ukrainian hardliners who hit the wrong plane, writes Robert Parry.

I think this is quite interesting, because it explains why the - wrong - airplane was shut down, which I found difficult to explain without the present hypothesis (that I did not think of), simply because no one on the airplane had any known connection to the Ukraine or Russia.

It starts as follows:

U.S. intelligence analysts are weighing the possibility that the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a botched attempt by extremists in the Ukrainian government to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin whose aircraft was returning from South America the same day, according to a source briefed on the U.S. investigation.

If true, the direction of the investigation into the July 17 crash has veered dramatically from initial U.S. government allegations that eastern Ukrainian rebels, using a Russian-supplied anti-aircraft battery, were responsible for bringing down the plane killing 298 people onboard.

There is a lot more, all interesting, but indeed the matter is not settled: It is a hypothesis. But it is a good one, that explains the shooting down of an airplane whose passengers and crew had nothing to do with the Ukrainian troubles.

4. Naomi Klein: 'Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on Earth'

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

This starts as follows:

The book's title is not elusive: 'This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate'

Due for release in September, the anticipated new work by Canadian journalist, activist and public intellectual Naomi Klein has now been previewed in a video trailer that appears to lay out its main themes and central argument.

"In December of 2012, a complex systems scientists walked up to the podium at the American Geophysics Union to present a paper," the narrator of the video—Klein herself—says as footage begins of urban high rise developments and burnt out croplands.

And the voice-over continues:

The paper was titled, "Is the Earth Fucked?" His answer was: "Yeah. Pretty much."

That's where the road we're on is taking us, but that has less to do with carbon than with capitalism.

Our economic model is at war with life on Earth.

We can't change the laws of nature, but we can change our broken economy.

And that's why climate change isn't just a disaster. It's also our best chance to demand—and build—a better world.

Change or be changed. But make no mistake... this changes everything.

There is considerably more in the article.

The quotations are from a trailer, that is also contained in the above article. And I also haven't read the book yet, as it is to be published in September, but I want to make two critical points, a minor and a major one.

The minor one is that the above is a piece of propaganda, which I do not mind very much - but to claim that "this changes everything" seems an exaggeration to me, if only because it involves answering a whole lot of questions, most of which have no clear and definite answer - they depend on both a whole lot of facts (that most do not know well or at all) and also on personal appraisals about values and ends.

The major one is that "we" cannot change our broken economy, if "we" are neither billionaires nor powerful political players - and these billionaires and political players, who have the power, will not change it, or only make it worse (e.g. by the TTP).

Furthermore, it seems to me it is not so much "our economic model" or "capitalism" that  is "at war with life on Earth": It is the combination of 7 billion people to feed, with a technology that is incapable of producing enough to feed, house and educate them properly, and satisfies their wants, and that so far is not capable of producing a source of renewable cheap energy.

But OK - I just stated two or three objections that may be summarized thus:

"We" cannot change the economy, and it very probably will not be changed in major ways until it collapses; and if it collapses in a major way many people will die first, and then everything changes (and probably also not for the better, but at least it will be quite different).


Also see the next item:

5.  Are the Authoritarians Winning? 

The next item is an article by Michael Ignatieff on The New York Review of Books:

Since this is from July 10, it seems I missed this. I chose it because of its title. Nominally, it is a review of three books and a paper, and it is written in the NYRB style I am not an admirer of. But here is one quotation from it that is more or less clear and accurate:
The liberal state is in crisis, basically, because its regulatory, legal, and political institutions have either been captured, or have been laid siege to, by the economic interests they were created to control. While the liberal state was never intended to enforce distributive equality, it was always supposed to keep the power of big money from suffocating competition and corrupting the political system. This is the task it struggles to perform today and must recover fully if it is to regain the confidence and support of the broad mass of its citizens.
That seems correct to me, and indeed I would also argue, mostly forgetting about the years until 1965 or 1970, when things started to change, and the long slide towards authoritarianism was started, that it is a fair statement to say that the authoritarians have won:

There is only a remnant of a free press; the media mostly follow the government's instructions as regards what it has to print; the parliaments are in the hands of lobbyists; the governments are authoritarian under a veneer of false democratic paternalism; the governments' secret services secretly spy on everyone and steal one's privacy, mails, websites, and phone-conversations; and the people mostly are undereducated, ignorant, and for the most part willing followers of the governments or the politicians that successsfully have deceived them.

That, at least, is how it seems to me, though I admit I am sketching things from a high level and in broad strokes.

Then again, the article has the considerable merit of dealing at the end - after three books - with a recent paper of Joseph Stiglitz, that can be gotten in pdf here, which it summarizes as follows:
A polemical but persuasive analysis of this problem is to be found in the Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s new white paper for the Roosevelt Institute. Stiglitz argues that the fiscal crisis of the liberal state is to be attributed squarely to three interrelated phenomena: rising income inequality, money power in politics, and systemic tax avoidance by the superrich and globalized corporations.

As inequality rises, Stiglitz argues, it suppresses effective demand. Unequal societies hoard wealth at the upper end instead of spreading consumption and investment through a broad middle class. When inequality holds back demand, corporations sit on large cash hoards, unwilling to invest or consume. As the rich become ever more ingenious in avoiding taxes, the cost of carrying the liberal state falls on a middle class forced to shoulder the burden alone. It is hyperinequality that is choking off demand and starving the liberal state.

Stiglitz’s solution is comprehensive. He proposes a 40 percent income tax rate for those who control the top 25 percent of national income; followed by a 20 percent rate on those who hold the next 25 percent, with tax reductions for everyone in the bottom 50 percent. That tax structure would take care of the national debt problem. He also proposes “a combination of tax rates and investment incentives” that would impose a tax of 15 percent on corporate incomes, and a value-added tax on consumption of 5 percent. Finally, an unspecified carbon tax would move American society toward clean energy innovation and lower-carbon lifestyles.

I have downloaded Stiglitz's paper though I have not yet read it, but I do like the above summary: He correctly diagnoses the problem ("rising income inequality, money power in politics, and systemic tax avoidance by the superrich and globalized corporations") and I agree with the sort of solution he proposes.

Then again, I have no adequate ideas on its chances of success or indeed of its being widely discussed. But it does seem a reasonable and also - in principle: there are many rich forces opposed, and they have the power at present - a feasible approach.

6.  Access Journalism, Agnotology, and Breeding for Elite Incompetence

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
To start with, I had to look up "agnotology" (as well). Here is Wikipedia:
Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.
OK - a useful concept, by any name also: Thee is an enormous amount of "induced ignorance or doubt" (though not only by "inaccurate or misleading scientific data": the whole schema of education is not directed anymore at the production of intellectually competent persons, but at docile followers).

Next, Yves Smith's article starts as follows:

There’s nothing quite like watching systems deliberately made worse, all in the name of better propaganda.

One rapidly escalating trend among officials and government agencies is making more and more information, including decades-old material, either impossible to obtain or accessible only to journalists who are “trusted,” meaning they are deferential to authority and will put the best possible spin on what they are fed.

This is deeply disturbing in a society that tries to maintain the veneer of being a democracy, since it keeps important information from the public and is clearly intended to preserve the image of particular organizations and shield them from what is likely to be well-deserved criticism. Anti-transparency policies are tantamount to anti-accountability.

But at least as bad is the destructive effects on the sponsors of this dissimulation by omission. Yes, they may do better in the short term, but over time, they fall prey to the pathology of believing their own PR. They become convinced that their airbrushed photos and the adoring crowds that are carefully screened for their public appearances accurately reflect their performance and popularity. In more extreme versions, you wind up with Versailles behavior, for instance, when wealthy financiers lash out when anyone dares criticize them, because they’ve come to believe deeply in their own myth-making, that their success is the result of merit, as opposed to luck and conniving.
Yes, indeed, though I have one addition or refinement: It may not be so much that the very rich or their political spokespersons come to believe "their own PR", although undoubtedly some do, as it may be the case that they feel quite free to intentionally bullshit people. (E.g. the compaint by billionaires that billionaires these days are treated as Jews were by the Nazis: That is just utter bullshit.)

That is, they do not speak the truth, nor do they seek to establish a lie: They merely insist on getting their own point of view across, that serves their own interests, all without caring for truth or falsity at all, but only caring for success in being heard or seen. This is also the point of view and aim of all propaganda.

Here is a quotation of David Sirota that gives some backgrounds:

As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, it was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work.

The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”…..

Carlson has conducted surveys of journalists and public information officers since 2012. In her most recent survey of 445 working journalists, four out of five reported that “their interviews must be approved” by government information officers, and “more than half of the reporters said they had actually been prohibited from interviewing [government] employees at least some of the time by public information officers.”

In recent years, there have been signs that the federal government is reducing the flow of public information. Reason Magazine has reported a 114 percent increase in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rejections by the Drug Enforcement Agency since President Obama took office. The National Security Agency has also issued blanket rejectionsAssociated Press reported earlier this year that in 2013 “the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year.” of FOIA requests about its metadata program. And the

That is: "4 in 10 public information officers" or 40% effectively censor journalism and/or exclude journalists because they do not like their reporting. Also, 80% of journalists say that "“their interviews must be approved” by government information officers" - and that is just from two paragraphs.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link, and the article ends as follows:
We seem to be well on our way to having Ministries of Truth fixing history to fit current policy. After all, it isn’t a big step to go from excising unwelcome facts to inserting more flattering ones.
Yes, indeed.

7.  New York Times Now Using Torture, Finally

Finally, not an article but a video from The Young Turks (whom I like, but less than I did previously: There are too many bits of "odd", "shocking", "strange" and "astounding" "news" these days, indeed just as in the Huffington Post [3]):

This takes 9 m 40 s. There is a written summary under it, which I partially quote:
"Under pressure from reporters and editors, the New York Times’ leadership has decided to use the word “torture” with regard to the CIA’s treatment of prisoners in the years following September 11.

Executive editor Dean Baquet published a statement on Thursday announcing the change in style, explaining that since we now know many more details of the CIA’s methods over the past decade – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and caging prisoners in a box – the “plain-English” meaning of “torture” now outweighs the “specialized legal meaning” of the word.“
Actually, the situation is worse, as the video also makes clear: The New York Times - "All The News Our Government Thinks Fit To Print" - seems to have restyled their terminology only because the president did it first. Until then, and since 9/11/2001, the NYT again followed the president, and spoke only of "enhanced interrogation", even though the facts were very clear: the same techniques were called "torture" by the U.S. military if used against their men, and indeed justifiedly so, as the NYT knew all the time.

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

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]
I do not need proof (because of the evidence of four years of terror and neglect, engineered for me by mayor Van Thihn, his aldermen and the Amsterdam police) and cannot give it without endangering my life if I had it, but I do know that it is completely incredible to me that grandsons and great-grandsons of two of the most horrible nazi-collaborators, who managed to help murder more than 100.000 Dutchmen, and who were in the position of personally permitting dealing in drugs that is forbidden and illegal, do not not somehow take a percentage of the billions a year that they allow to be dealt, illegally. After all, this is Holland, where the only maintained moral value is money.

[3] Since TYT also has many more viewers, this is a personal complaint:
I do not like to view or know most of the sensationalistic kinds of news they currently produce but it does seem to attract quite a few.


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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