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Nederlog


  September
3, 2014
Crisis: US & ISIS, Ukraine, NSA, Scots, Gitmo
  "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
















Sections
Introduction

1.
How America Made ISIS: Their Videos and Ours, Their
     ‘Caliphate’ and Ours

2. Who’s Telling the ‘Big Lie’ on Ukraine? 
3. Challenge to Sweeping NSA Dragnet Reaches Highest
     Court Yet

4. Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing
     act of self-harm

5. Gitmo Exclusive Part I: An Untold History of Occupation,
     Torture & Resistance

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 3. It is a crisis log.

There are 5 items and 6 dotted links. Also, this Nederlog has been uploaded a bit earlier than normal, because the weather is nice in Amsterdam, and I may cycle.

1. How America Made ISIS: Their Videos and Ours, Their ‘Caliphate’ and Ours

The first item is an article by Tom Engelhardt that I found on Truthdig, but that orginates on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

Whatever your politics, you’re not likely to feel great about America right now.  After all, there’s Ferguson (the whole world was watching!), an increasingly unpopular president, a Congress whose approval ratings make the president look like a rock star, rising poverty, weakening wages, and a growing inequality gap just to start what could be a long list.  Abroad, from Libya and Ukraine to Iraq and the South China Sea, nothing has been coming up roses for the U.S.  Polls reflect a general American gloom, with 71% of the public claiming the country is “on the wrong track.”  We have the look of a superpower down on our luck.

What Americans have needed is a little pick-me-up to make us feel better, to make us, in fact, feel distinctly good.   Certainly, what official Washington has needed in tough times is a bona fide enemy so darn evil, so brutal, so barbaric, so inhuman that, by contrast, we might know just how exceptional, how truly necessary to this planet we really are.

In the nick of time, riding to the rescue comes something new under the sun: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), recently renamed Islamic State (IS).  It’s a group so extreme that even al-Qaeda rejected it, so brutal that it’s brought back crucifixion, beheading, waterboarding, and amputation, so fanatical that it’s ready to persecute any religious group within range of its weapons, so grimly beyond morality that it’s made the beheading of an innocent American a global propaganda phenomenon.  If you’ve got a label that’s really, really bad like genocide or ethnic cleansing, you can probably apply it to ISIS’s actions.

You should realize that much of the above - at least the last two paragraphs - is written in irony. This does not mean ISIS (or IS) isn't bad: it means that the existence of ISIS is mostly due to the U.S.'s policies, that now uses this latest of its creatures in a new propaganda war designed to make yet more war:
It calls for Washington to transform Iraq’s leadership (a process no longer termed “regime change”) and elevate a new man capable of reuniting the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the Kurds, now at each other’s throats, into one nation capable of turning back the extremist tide.  If not American “boots on the ground,” it calls for proxy ones of various sorts that the U.S. military will naturally have a hand in training, arming, funding, and advising.  Facing such evil, what other options could there be?

If all of this sounds strangely familiar, it should.  Minus a couple of invasions, the steps being considered or already in effect to deal with “the threat of ISIS” are a reasonable summary of the last 13 years of what was once called the Global War on Terror and now has no name at all.  New as ISIS may be, a little history is in order, since that group is, at least in part, America’s legacy in the Middle East.

That was quoted from the end of page 1. There are four pages in all, and they are well worth reading. And in case you doubt Engelhardt's motives, here is his very last paragraph:
The American record in these last 13 years is a shameful one.  Do it again should not be an option.
I agree, though I much doubt this sane desire will be gratified: There is too much money involved, and there are strong parties in the U.S. that favor war, basically because it makes a lot of money and neither they nor their children are in danger of having to do any real fighting.
2. Who’s Telling the ‘Big Lie’ on Ukraine? 

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts with the following summary:
Exclusive: Official Washington draws the Ukraine crisis in black-and-white colors with Russian President Putin the bad guy and the U.S.-backed leaders in Kiev the good guys. But the reality is much more nuanced, with the American people consistently misled on key facts, writes Robert Parry.
I review it because I am still mostly avoiding the Ukraine, since I do not know any of the languages spoken there, and since I got the feeling of being mostly propagandized rather than informed. Also, I trust Robert Parry considerably more than the ordinary media.

The article starts as follows:

If you wonder how the world could stumble into World War III – much as it did into World War I a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire U.S. political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats vs. black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.

The original lie behind Official Washington’s latest “group think” was that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the crisis in Ukraine as part of some diabolical scheme to reclaim the territory of the defunct Soviet Union, including Estonia and other Baltic states. Though not a shred of U.S. intelligence supported this scenario, all the “smart people” of Washington just “knew” it to be true.

Yes. That is both what I feel may happen and the sort of propaganda I get, also in Holland, also in Dutch. Parry develops the theme quite well, and ends the first part of his story as follows:
But the hysteria over Ukraine – with U.S. officials and editorialists now trying to rally a NATO military response to Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine – raises the prospect of a nuclear confrontation that could end all life on the planet.
Yes. And note that the atomic weapons that were installed during the Cold War still are mostly in place.

And now there’s the curious case of Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine, another alarmist claim trumpeted by the Kiev regime and echoed by NATO hardliners and the MSM.

While I’m told that Russia did provide some light weapons to the rebels early in the struggle so they could defend themselves and their territory – and a number of Russian nationalists have crossed the border to join the fight – the claims of an overt “invasion” with tanks, artillery and truck convoys have been backed up by scant intelligence.

Yes. And in fact there is this on today's The Guardian:
Of course, how long that will last is a good question, but it seems currently like  some progress.

3. Challenge to Sweeping NSA Dragnet Reaches Highest Court Yet 

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

This starts as follows:

Lawyers for the ACLU on Tuesday presented arguments before a federal court as they challenged the U.S. government's claimed authority to bulk collect and search America's cell phone data, which the group argues is unconstitutional and exceeds Congressional authority provided by the Patriot Act.

“The government cannot demonstrate, as the statute requires it to, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all Americans’ call records, over a twelve-year period (and counting), are ‘relevant’ to an ongoing investigation,” the ACLU wrote in its brief (PDF) to the court.

By hearing the case, ACLU vs. Clapper, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals becomes the highest level federal court yet to consider the Obama administration's claims that it can warrantlessly collect the phone records of tens of millions of Americans based on secret approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) or whether its interpretation of the 2012 FISA Amendment, which governs the court, comports with Congressional intent.

Clearly - I would say - the American government cannot prove at all that it has the right to steal "all Americans’ call records, over a twelve-year period (and counting)", while if it could prove so, against the Constitution's amendment, it has proved that the United States no longer is an open, free or democratic society, for that protects the privacy of the vast majority of its inhabitants much rather than steal them. (Indeed, that is also the main reason the stealing and the thieves - the NSA - are all kept secret.)

There is also this:

Government officials have claimed the collection of their private data is not damaging to Americans, but ACLU argues that it is both unlawful and unconstitutional, involving “collection on a scale far beyond what the statute permits on its face, and far beyond what Congress intended.”

The lawsuit states:

[T]he program violates the Fourth Amendment. Phone records reveal personal details and relationships that most people customarily and justifiably regard as private. The government’s dragnet collection of this information invades a reasonable expectation of privacy and constitutes a search.

[T]he program violates the First Amendment. Government surveillance that substantially burdens First Amendment rights, as this program does, must survive “exacting scrutiny.” A program on this scale, however—one that involves the indefinite and dragnet collection of sensitive information about hundreds of millions of Americans—simply cannot survive that scrutiny.

Quite so - and neither the Constitution or its Amendments are negotiable, let it be noted, though I agree that the American governments since 9/11 have ignored them.

Also, I should say that it seems pretty insane to me that the ACLU, that has started or supported quite a few courtcases against the U.S. government, has been voted out of court many times - which also means, at least in my eyes,
that the U.S. government knows or suspects it cannot defend its policies in an
open and fair trial. And no, this is no criticism of the ACLU; it is a criticism of U.S. governments.

4. Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm

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

I'll start with quoting the summary:

England is dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal. Who on earth would want to be tied to such a country?

I agree with the argument, but it is not quite convincing, because it would also need a good argument that, by itself, Scotland can and will avoid being "dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal".

Here is some from George Monbiot, from near the beginning:

So what would you say about a country that sacrificed its sovereignty without collapse or compulsion; that had no obvious enemies, a basically sound economy and a broadly functional democracy, yet chose to swap it for remote governance by the hereditary elite of another nation, beholden to a corrupt financial centre?

What would you say about a country that exchanged an economy based on enterprise and distribution for one based on speculation and rent? That chose obeisance to a government that spies on its own citizens, uses the planet as its dustbin, governs on behalf of a transnational elite that owes loyalty to no nation, cedes public services to corporations, forces terminally ill people to work and can’t be trusted with a box of fireworks, let alone a fleet of nuclear submarines? You would conclude that it had lost its senses.

There is also this:

To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations. It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.

That is a fairly strong argument, although again no argument is given that with Scotland independent, it will be considerably less neoliberal. (Though yes: at least it will have a chance to be, which it now does not have.)

Anyway - the article is fair, and is pro Scottish independence.

5. Gitmo Exclusive Part I: An Untold History of Occupation, Torture & Resistance 

The next item is not an article but a video by Abby Martin and Breaking the set:
Here is the text under the video:
On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin features Part I of her exclusive coverage from Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba, outlining the history of the notorious base and prison from 1898 to today. Abby then goes over some of the most egregious examples of torture committed against detainees, highlighting everything from sensory manipulation to physical beatings and sexual abuse. Abby then goes over the detainees still at Gitmo and why over 70 prisoners who have been cleared for release remain rotting away indefinitely. BTS wraps up the show with interviews with Navy Captain and Joint Task Force spokesperson, Tom Gresback and Lisa Hajjar, a sociology professor at UCSB, about why the military is no longer releasing information concerning hunger striking prisoners and the ethics of force feeding ‘non-compliant’ detainees.
The video takes 28 m 25 s but it is well made and well worth seeing, although it will not make you happier. Also, Abby Martin is one of the very few who makes such videos.
---------------------------------
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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