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Nederlog


  August
21, 2014
Crisis: Intercept, Anonymous, Iraq, Food, Banks, CIA, Pain
  "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.
U.S. Military Bans The Intercept
2. The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter
3. In Iraq, A Bombing Program Designed for the Weapons
     Industry

4. Now Your Food Has Fake DNA in It
5. Big Banks “Bought” Congress … So Credit Derivatives Are
     Bigger than Ever

6
. 'I Could Have Stopped Them': Ex-CIA Lawyer Defends
     Waterboarding Decision

7. Pure agony  

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 21. It is a crisis log.

Maybe I should say (again) that I relay what I found; that I check daily about 40 sites; that my titles in the crisis files generally consist of a sum-up of keywords that are about what the diverse sections are about; that the titles of my sections are the titles of the articles they treat (a few times shortened: a title should not take 4 lines, in my opinion); that I always comment, sometimes briefly, sometimes rather long; and that there is no hard and fast rule for the length of my comments: it depends too much on my health, time, and mood. Also, you always get my real opinions: I don't lie, and do not need to please anyone.

I also think I am doing this well, and anyway I can't do it much better. I have one regret, that I also will not change: The titles are generally difficult to read, at least since I started reviewing on average 5 articles a day, which happened in June 2013.

The only way I can do it better is by doing one subject per file, but that entails too much work for me, and it also entails too many files. So, while I am sorry for the titles, I can't do any better.

Now to the articles of today.
 
1.  U.S. Military Bans The Intercept 

The first item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The U.S. military is banning and blocking employees from visiting The Intercept in an apparent effort to censor news reports that contain leaked government secrets.

According to multiple military sources, a notice has been circulated to units within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps warning staff that they are prohibited from reading stories published by The Intercept on the grounds that they may contain classified information. The ban appears to apply to all employees—including those with top-secret security clearance—and is aimed at preventing classified information from being viewed on unclassified computer networks, even if it is freely available on the internet. Similar military-wide bans have been directed against news outlets in the past after leaks of classified information.

I say. "The land of the free is the home of the brave"?

In any case, this seems to me to be a prime example of military stupidity. Some of my reasons are the following. First, in any case it seems to me stupid to censor almost anything for almost anyone. Second, the more so as soldiers risk their health and lives. Third, in any case The Intercept will be read by a few, whether it is allowed or not. Fourth, it suggests the U.S. has no rational answers to criticism, and therefore wants to exclude its personnel from viewing it.

But OK - it has happened, and will probably not be taken back. The inference must be that, according to the USA's military leaders, the brave in the land of the free will cease to be brave if they
freely get to know the truth.

2. The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter

The next item is an article by Lance Tapley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Like many other news websites, Common Dreams has been plagued by inflammatory anti-Semitic comments following its stories. But on Common Dreams these posts have been so frequent and intense they have driven away donors from a nonprofit dependent on reader generosity.

A Common Dreams investigation has discovered that more than a thousand of these damaging comments over the past two years were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel.

His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, "JewishProgressive," whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under many other screen names.

There is a whole lot more under the last dotted link, including tasteless examples, and I can well imagine Common Dream got quite upset, also because the anti-semitism made them loose support and money.

The last sentence of the article, that is not properly part of the article, is this:
Common Dreams will explore in a future article what might be done about anonymous, manipulative commenting on internet news websites.

Personally, I have entirely stopped reading comments: They are nearly all completely anonymous; nearly all are stupid and uninformed; and the trouble is certainly not worth the yield.

But that is just my decision. In general, I can only think of one way to keep comments:

Demand the real name and an internet address where anybody who wants to write a comment normally can be found. They do not have to publish under their real name (that would be asking too much of ordinary people, and might finish most comments) but they have to unveil to the staff who they are and where they can be found (who may agree not to use their knowledge except in case of misbehavior).

Also, this may be monthly checked, automatically also: "Hello Peter Miller, this is to confirm that your real name is Peter Miller, you were born in 1956, and your alias is Aardvark on our website. Thank you for your cooperation, the website staff."

3. In Iraq, A Bombing Program Designed for the Weapons Industry

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt, that I found on Common Dreams but that originates on tomdispatch):

This is given to explaining the bright American future: The military-industrial complex (<- Wikipedia) sells weapons to parties that are destroyed by weapons it has sold to other partier. Surely, a win-win situation, in terms of market-oriented thinking, that is guided by profits.

Engelhardt explains it thus (amongst considerably more):

To complete the circle, both the Iraqis defending Baghdad and the Kurds now desperately need new weaponry, and Washington is already starting to supply it in the north and soon undoubtedly in the south as well.  Can there be any question that this is a win-win situation for the American arms industry and the military-industrial complex?  It gives new meaning to American bombing campaigns that, since 1991, have proven to be disastrous regional destabilizers.  Think of this as an innovative profit center for American industry and a jobs-creation exercise of the first order: we provide the weapons, we destroy them, then we provide more.

Yes, indeed.  

4. Now Your Food Has Fake DNA in It

The next item is an article by Tom Philpott on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows:
Like many novel technologies in this age of TED Talks and Silicon Valley triumphalism, synthetic biology—synbio for short—floats on a sea of hype. One of its founding scientists, Boston University biomedical engineer James Collins, has called it "genetic engineering on steroids." Whereas garden-variety genetic engineers busy themselves moving genes from one organism into another—to create tomatoes that don't bruise easily, for example—synthetic biologists generate new DNA sequences the way programmers write code, creating new life-forms.
Actually, at the moment it seems to be mostly hype, except for some things like vanilla flavorings, but surely synbio has a large future (if mankind has a future).

So, why is this here? For the following reason, that is related to the fact that I am ill now for 36 years with a disease that is still unknown:
What could possibly go wrong with vanilla flavoring brewed by DNA-manipulated yeast? Well, like genetic engineering, synbio falls into a regulatory void that often allows products to go from lab to grocery store with little or no oversight. Evolva's vanillin and resveratrol will likely sail through the Food and Drug Administration's approval process—and end up in your food without any special labeling—because they are versions of already-existing compounds and thus have "generally recognized as safe" status.

Actually, they are not "versions of already-existing compounds" precisely because they are completely new versions. Here is the end of the article:

Now, you may consider creating new DNA to be an entirely different matter, but whether you find it creepy or cool ultimately doesn't matter: Because synbio foods won't have to be labeled as such, you'll likely soon be eating them—without even knowing it.

Until you get an unknown disease that won't go away - but then, if it somehow depends on the new DNA in your food, you will never find out.

(By the way, a side-remark: This is true of the USA. I do not know whether the same situation is true in Europe.)

5. Big Banks “Bought” Congress … So Credit Derivatives Are Bigger than Ever 

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

This starts as follows (colors in the original)

The Causes of the 2008 Crisis Have Never Been Addressed

We’ve noted for years that Washington never reined in the risky derivatives which helped cause the 2008 crash … and so the big banks hold more derivatives than ever.

We’ve also noted that the financial services industry has bought and sold Congress.

Indeed, Washington never fixed the causes of the 2008 financial crisis.

Yesterday, Janet Tavakoli gave a good overview of the problem to CBC:

We threw money at the banks, and it all came back to Washington in the form of campaign contributions.

And we changed our campaign contribution law sot hat corporations could be considered people.  And banks hired the relatives of people who work in Congress.

So they pretty much bought Congress. So we can’t really rely on them for reform.

***

The low rates – and the changes we made to accounting rules – benefited the banks, and helped them to gloss over all of these problems on their balance sheets, which were never solved.

And in addition, it helped the people who were in financial engineering – the financiers – to do leveraged buy-outs, all debt-based, where basically they were raising debts to pay themselves huge dividends.

And all of the low rates enabled that kind of activity and that kind of leveraging up again.

And it shows that “made in the USA” … the complete irresponsibility of the in the financial forum.

And we will pay the price. It’s hard to say when. But when you see this kind of leverage and this kind of opacity, it doesn’t end well.

***

There aren’t better internal controls [at the big banks].  And they have a bigger, more opaque, more complex market with more players.

Actually, that was all of the article, but this does seem to be the right kind of analysis. Also, I have to say that at present, if I had to make a choice between a major collapse and an NSA-surveilled future, my choice is the first, provided both the banks and the NSA get slaughtered after the next collapse.

6. 'I Could Have Stopped Them': Ex-CIA Lawyer Defends Waterboarding Decision

The next item is an article by Holger Stark on Spiegel On Line:

This is an interview with the former top CIA lawyer John Rizzo. I will only quote one bit from it, which is this - and Rizzo is talking:

So that's when I decided to seek definitive legal advice from the US Department of Justice about whether the planned interrogation techniques violated the anti-torture statute. If the Justice Department had come back with the conclusion that these did constitute torture, then we would not have carried them out.

But the Department of Justice, who do not decide these things, said - I assume - it considered waterboarding "enhanced interrogation", and that terminological change made all the difference.

At least, according to Mr. Rizzo, who is too slick to be caught, and here wriggled himself out of it, by blaming the responsibility in part to the Department of Justice.

For what it is worth: My own guess about 9/11 is now that it was a false flag operation set up by Cheney and Rumsfeld, but I agree that there is no conclusive evidence, and that this is just my opinion.

7. Pure agony

The final item today is an article by Andrew Scull in The Times Literary Supplement, which is a review of "The story of pain" by Joanna Bourke:
It is here because I have had a lot of pain, though this was comparatively mild: I am ill since 1.1.1979, and meanwhile have had some 30 years of nearly constant muscle agues in my arms and legs; I have had several years of rheumatic pains in my hands; and I have had two years of pains in my eyes (that still persist, though it is much less than two years ago).

However, then I read this, from the beginning of the article:
But pain, Joanna Bourke insists in her new book, is essentially social, an aspect of sentient existence that assumes many guises. It is not something that has a single essence or is simply an intrinsic quality of raw sensory experience, but rather a complex cultural phenomenon, a way of perceiving experience that is shaped by language and history. “There is”, she argues, “no such thing as a private pain-event”, in much the same was as there is no such thing as a private language (she borrows here from Wittgenstein).
I am sorry, but that is major rot - and yes, I have excellent degrees in psychology and philosophy, and I see Ms Bourke, who describes herself as "a socialist feminist" has a degree in history.

Also, Andrew Scull tells us that Bourke's technique of writing is very repetitious:
The same stories, even the very same quotations from Bourke’s sources, reappear at intervals – sometimes quite short intervals. The American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell tells us on p23 that “torture clogs the very source of thought” and then he tells us the same thing nine pages later. Wittgenstein informs us on p7 that “mental language is rendered significant not by virtue of its capacity to reveal, mark, or describe mental states, but by its function in social interaction”. He pops up to tell us the same thing in the same words sixty odd pages later.
So, as this is a book by a postmodernist feminist with a Christian background, all I will say is that I read the whole review, and this is a book you safely can miss.

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