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Nederlog


  September
7, 2014
Crisis: U.S. police, poverty, Scots, Iraq, NATO summit
  "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.
The police body-cam peep show: are you ready to give up
     your privacy, too?

2. There's poverty in the UK, but we are better off calling it
     inequality

3. Shock new poll says Scots set to vote yes to
     independence

4. Obama and Cameron Find Little Enthusiasm at NATO for
     New Iraq War

5. Nato Summit Is Glaring Proof (If Ever Needed) Of Demise
     Of Representative Government


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 7. It is a
crisis log.

There is an earlier Nederlog today, but it is not a crisis log. Instead, it is about me and my M.E. This is probably not interesting for persons who are not much interested in either subject.

The present crisis log has five items. (I don't think this is very interesting - more tomorrow - but if you want to read the silliest crap I have read so far in The Guardian, try item 2: There is no poverty in the UK because no one earns as little as the poorest Burmese. Yes, really!)

1. The police body-cam peep show: are you ready to give up your privacy, too?

The first item is an article by Trevor Timm on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Despite long-time opposition from some police forces, it now seems the mini-cameras, which can be attached to police officers’ lapel or glasses to record interactions with citizens, cannot be implemented fast enough. A company donated body-cams to Ferguson’s police force, which, under nationwide scrutiny, promptly started using them this week. Soon, cops in Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York will all be experimenting with body cameras – if they’re not already.

If used right, this simple technology could represent a huge win for both citizens and the police (...)
In fact, there are figures like these:
The most well-known study of the practice backs up this theory about body-cams: they stop bad cops. In Rialto, California, the police force wore the cameras for one year starting in February 2012, and as the Guardian reported, “public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.”
But then again, the cameras often malfunction or are switched off, especially when policemen make arrests, and also no one seems to have thoroughly thought through all the implications.

Timm and the ACLU are for it "
as long as there are strict requirements around their use", but neither expects this will solve all or most problems, and I believe they are right.
2. There's poverty in the UK, but we are better off calling it inequality

The next item is an article by John Lanchester on The Guardian:

I thought this would be a thoroughly crazy or utterly silly piece, simply because of the extremely euphemistic title, and I was right. It starts as follows:
We all think we know what we're talking about when we discuss poverty. We have a clear mental image for the poverty of the developing nations. One of the targets for the millennium development goals, announced by the UN in 2000, was to halve the global proportion of absolutely poor people by 2015. At the time the target was announced, the definition of an absolutely poor person was anyone living on an income of less than $1 a day. That criterion has been nudged upwards, in response to new data about prices and purchasing power, to $1.25. There has and continues to be astonishing progress towards and beyond this target, which was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of its deadline – a fact that went eerily uncelebrated.
I do not know whether the numbers quoted are factually correct, but I will suppose they are.

The craziness or total silliness of Lanchester is that he thinks that he knows (a recently pensioned food journalist, it seems) what "poverty" means, but that a man like me, who never in 64 years has attained the minimal legal income, does not know what "poverty" means. Oh no!

What "poverty" means, in the eyes of Lanchester, is (maximally) $ 1.25 a day. Those people are poor. But people who earn more, like everyone in Europe and the U.S. are not "poor". Therefore! Oh no! They are not even starving!

In fact, after a long argument in which he shows he probably does not know the meaning of "propaganda" either, he arrives at this:
This is why I would ban the word "poverty". ("Relative poverty" is too much of a mouthful.) Let's call it what it is – inequality.
Namely (1) because these "inequal" people do earn more than $ 1.25 a day (those who earn less than $ 1.25 may live in Burma or India, but who cares) and (2) "No one actually starves". Oh yes, and because (3) more and more Brits have been propagandized into believing that they too are in favor of austerity (for others, like "welfare queens", "shirkers", and "ill" people, or so it seems).

Clearly, if there are no "poor" there are no "rich" either (though the word
"rich" is not mentioned in the article at all): The "rich" also are not rich, just as the "poor" are not poor - they are both "inequals" (and one class has just a bit more than the other class, or so I must suppose, and things are relatively dandy).

I, who has to do everything, after paying the rents and the energy and the health-insurance bills, from at most $ 10 a day, in a city where one decent bread costs $ 3.50, without any margerine or any topping, am not "poor", according to Lanchester (compared with poor Burmese): I just am a bit more "inequal" (since  I do not starve) than my mates with degrees (all worse degrees than I have) who earn a mere $200.000 or $300.000 or $400.000 or more a year, and who also are not "rich" (compared to some of the Romans in the year 100): Again they are merely a bit more "inequal" than I am, just like I am a bit more "inequal" than they are (in the other direction).

See? Here is the end of the article:
So let's get on with it. Let's start to make them hear what we're saying: it's about the inequality, stupid.
There are no "poor"! There are no "rich"! Everybody is "inequal"! Who doesn't see this is "stupid"! (Jesus, what utter crap.)

3. Shock new poll says Scots set to vote yes to independence 

The next item is an article by Toby Helm and Daniel Boffey on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The people of Scotland are to be offered a historic opportunity to devise a federal future for their country before next year's general election, it emerged on Saturday night, as a shock new poll gave the campaign for independence a narrow lead for the first time.

Amid signs of panic and recrimination among unionist ranks about the prospects of a yes vote on 18 September, the Observer has learned that a devolution announcement designed to halt the nationalist bandwagon is due to be made within days by the anti-independence camp.

There is rather a lot more in the article, but I only mention that
  • there is another poll that stll favors "No" rather than "Yes", and
  • the Conservatives are now ready to promise most everything to the Scots, if only they vote "No" (and then they will not get it).
Anyway - as I've said, I would vote "Yes", but this is mostly because I neither like nor trust the British government, and because this gives the Scots at least a chance to do things a bit less bad than the British government has done.

4. Obama and Cameron Find Little Enthusiasm at NATO for New Iraq War

The next item is an article by Juan Cole on Truthdig (and originally on Cole's Web Page):

This starts as follows:

The NATO summit in Wales was supposed to be all about getting out of Afghanistan.  Instead, two new issues dominated it– the Ukraine and ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

British prime minister David Cameron joined Barack Obama in castigating NATO members for paying ransoms to ISIL and for not stepping up to deal with it.  Cameron is said to be canvassing his backbenchers in parliament about whether they would accept a Royal Air Force role in bombing ISIL positions in Iraq.  He has to do this because last year this time the British parliament shot down any British role in bombing Syria in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s use of poison gas.  Parliament’s reluctance played a role in forestalling an Obama intervention in Syria.

According to Cole, one reason why the Europeans are not much willing to fight in Iraq or Syria is that European Union states have incorporated much international law into EU legal codes, and this might get leaders who infringe the law into court. That seems correct.

And one reason why Obama has to do something (or at least: has to appear as if he does something) are "the Washington war hawks and fear of losing the midterm" elections, and that seems also probably correct.

5. Nato Summit Is Glaring Proof (If Ever Needed) Of Demise Of Representative Government

The next item is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:

This starts as follows:

When the inhabitants of the Welsh cities of Cardiff and Newport rolled out the red carpet for the attendees of this week’s Nato Summit, their normally calm city centers underwent a disturbing makeover. A “ring of steel” some 12 miles long and costing over 110 million dollars was erected to protect the political representatives of some of the world’s freest and most democratic nations as they freely exchanged ideas and thoughts on how to preserve the West’s global domination at the barrel of a gun.

In time-honored fashion, the UK government and mainstream press wheeled out the all too familiar terrorist bogeyman as the prime reason for such extravagent security arrangements. However, the real target of the ring of steel was an entirely different group altogether, a group of people much closer to home — that is, the disenfrancised general public itself.

The reason why Western political leaders feel the need for such heavy-duty protection from the people they’re charged with representing is quite simple: they no longer even pretend to represent them. Instead they have become little more than a protection racket for the world’s largest corporations and richest individuals. As the full scale of the betrayal slowly dawns on the people of the West, public rage is inevitably rising.

I mostly agree, although I also must say I have seen very little of "public rage": That seems to be more wishful thinking than real fact. Then again, the argument that follows the quotation does give good reasons why "the public" should be enraged.

---------------------------------
P.S. Sep 8, 2014: I corrected some typos and inserted a link.
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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