21, 2014
Crisis: Krugman, FBI, Environment, CIA, Obama vs Putin
  "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

Paul Krugman: Saving the Planet ‘Might Be Free’
2. FBI Facial Recognition System Threatens Civil Liberties,
     Group Says

3. The Radical Environmental Solution You've Never Heard

4. CIA Hits 'Pause' on Espionage Against Friendly Western

5. Obama Is Defeated in Ukraine. Status-Quo Truce-Lines

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 21. It is a
crisis log.

There are five items with six dotted links:

Krugman has discovered that saving the planet is cheap and easy (he says); the FBI gets more and more faces in its databases, and very few protest; there is "a solution" to the human population problem (well...); the CIA for the moment stopped spying on allied goverments, but not on allied populations; and Obama and Putin seem to have reached a truce in the Ukraine, so as to better fight ISIS.

1. Paul Krugman: Saving the Planet ‘Might Be Free’

The first item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says he’s been reading “two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change” that prove saving the planet could be “cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines.”
I say?! That sounds pretty revolutionary: By implication, everyone who was worried about the climate the last 45 years, from the writers of "Limits to growth" till the latest book by Naomi Klein, was completely and spectacularly wrong and mistaken: "saving the planet could be “cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines"". Also, everybody who demonstrates today in the U.S. about the climate must be an idiot: saving the climate is - well: "could be" - very cheap and very easy.

Krugman does not articulate the things I just wrote out in the previous paragraph, but these consequences seem pretty evident. So here is the original column:
This starts as follows:

This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news?

I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses.

That clearly settles it: the New Climate Economy Project and the International Monetary Fund could not possibly be wrong - I mean: "These are serious, careful analyses"; therefore everybody who has been saying otherwise must be wrong, and therefore, as Krugman's ending says:
So here’s what you need to know: Climate despair is all wrong. The idea that economic growth and climate action are incompatible may sound hardheaded and realistic, but it’s actually a fuzzy-minded misconception. If we ever get past the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet, we’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines.
So there! Well, apart from "the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet", but clearly these must be bowled over by the two "serious, careful analyses" that Krugman has been reading, that refute 45
of "climate despair" and "
fuzzy-minded misconceptions".

Do I believe Krugman? No, not at all: he is merely propagandizing, indeed to the tune of the IMF, and without giving any specific evidence. This doesn't mean I believe others, but it is baloney to pretend to shift aside 45 years of argument that there are too many human beings; that the temperatures are rising; that very many natural resources are depleting; that very many species are disappearing; that there is no known way to give all 7 billion people the wealth of the average American with known economical means etc. etc., all of which are fact based, if indeed not complete, by a mere two reports, one of which is by the IMF, that seem convincing to an economist.

O, and see item 3.

2. FBI Facial Recognition System Threatens Civil Liberties, Group Says

The next item is an article by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

A ready-to-use facial recognition program unveiled by the FBI on Monday could turn millions of people with no criminal record into suspects of the law, civil liberties watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning.

The operation “will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities,” a statement by the FBI said.

In fact, most of the "photographs associated with criminal identities" are not by persons who themselves are criminals, but who cares? The FBI and the NSA are out to know everything from anyone, and no one is stopping them.

Well, the Electronic Frontier Foundation cares, and I think they are right. This is reported by Al Jazeera:

[C]ivil liberties watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said the system poses a threat to the privacy of all Americans, including those with no criminal history.

EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on NGI in April. FBI documents they obtained showed that the facial recognition component of the system could include as many as 52 million digital images of faces by 2015, the group said.

Up to 4.3 million pictures taken for non-criminal purposes will also be added to the database, documents obtained by EFF showed. Mug shots will be combined with non-criminal facial images taken from employment records and background check databases, technology news website The Verge reported Monday.

And I am sure that is just the very beginning: The NSA wants everyone from everywhere in its databases, because that makes controlling everyone so very much easier.

3. The Radical Environmental Solution You've Never Heard Of

The next item is an article by Larry Schwartz on AlterNet:
Actually, I have heard of them, and I do not like the writing style of AlterNet, but that is not very relevant (although they still don't know that lists - 6 of that, 8 of those, 10 of these etc. - are not articles: they make writing easier for folks who can't write anyway).

So yes, there is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, indeed since the 1970ies, when I also first heard of them (though perhaps by another name), since when I also do not take them serious. I'll explain that in a minute, but here is first Larry Schwartz's explanation for what they stand for:
Their motto is: “May we live long and die out.” An informal movement that coalesced in the ‘70s, the Extinctionists value the Earth and its millions of species more than human survival. Their goal is to convince humans to stop breeding, cease making new babies altogether and allow the human race to slowly disappear—quietly, peacefully and without the suffering and pain overpopulation has wrought on so much of the world. Only then can the world and all the surviving species recover and prosper.
The reason I can't take that serious is that it will convince very few, and therefore will never succeed.

But here are some points introduced by "
The statistics related to overpopulation are sobering" that also are relevant to Krugman's "arguments" (which are so vague I call them "arguments" rather than arguments):
  • Each year, for every 55 million people who die, 135 million are born to replace them. That’s 80 million extra people a year, or the equivalent of one entire USA every four years.
  • 1 in 7 people on the planet, more than one billion people, have inadequate supplies of food and water. 25,000 people a day die of malnutrition, 18,000 of them children under 5 years old.
  • As the need for energy grows, energy resources are becoming more and more depleted. The search for more resources is degrading the lands and seas that nurture us. Burning fossil fuels is heating up the Earth’s climate to dangerous levels. By the year 2020, oil production will likely begin to decline, as we will have accessed the majority of the easily accessible oil reservoirs. The search for less accessible supplies risks more disastrous events like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Overpopulation is forcing the less fortunate of us to live in unsafe areas vulnerable to devastating floods and storms.
  • Population sprawl is destroying valuable farmland and forests (2.2 million acres in the US alone last year).
  • Millions of cars clog our roads and choke our atmosphere. The asthma rate among children is soaring, caused by particulates in the air. The average American spends 2200 hours a year trapped in traffic jams. Increasing prosperity in countries like China and India is adding millions of cars to the world’s roads.
  • The need for more and more farmland is leading to the destruction of the world’s invaluable rainforests and the degradation of the oceans. Pesticide and fertilizer runoff is killing the oceans and waterways of the planet. Overfishing is driving marine life to the brink of extinction. Habitat destruction is leading to extinction of thousands of land animals, plants and insects every year.
I am not saying that is conclusive. (But it is more convincing than Krugman's "solution" of windmills and solar panels: Every four years an additional complete population of the United States gets added to the world's population, who nearly all will want to live at least as well as the middle class in the United States in the 1970ies. I do not think windmills and solar panels will help much to make this flood of new people realize their dreams.)

4. CIA Hits 'Pause' on Espionage Against Friendly Western Governments

The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The CIA has stopped spying on allied governments in Western Europe in response to anger over a German caught selling intelligence documents to the United States and the Edward Snowden revelations of spying by the National Security Agency, according to an Associated Press exclusive.

In early July, following the arrest of a German intelligence officer who admitted to passing information to CIA agents about a parliamentary investigation into the NSA's surveillance program, the German government ordered the expulsion of a CIA station chief operating in Berlin. In 2013, Snowden's leaked NSA documents revealed German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among foreign officials being monitored by the agency. Both events increased tensions between the U.S. and Germany. 

According to the AP, the "stand-down" was put in effect about two months ago, in order to "give CIA officers time to examine whether they were being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery, said a U.S. official who has been briefed on the situation."

There are several problems with this:

First, the CIA is a secret organization, and so you can't believe everything they say (which tends to be minimal and is often false or misleading anyway); second, the only reason they are stopping is "
to examine whether they were being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery", which means that they would spy on everyone if there is no "risk of discovery"; and third, all it says is on hold on the moment is "spying on allied governments in Western Europe": The rest of the West European population gets straight into the NSA's secret databases, or so it seems, and indeed as long as the West-European politicians do nothing, which they have been doing for 15 months now, since Edward Snowden became widely known, and with a few exceptions, the West European population will gets straight into the NSA's secret databases.

5. Obama Is Defeated in Ukraine. Status-Quo Truce-Lines Agreed.

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

This starts as follows:

The great German newspaper German Economic News, headlined on Saturday, September 20th, “Welcome Russia at the G20 summit: End of Isolation” (German original:  “Ende der Isolation: Russland bei G20-Gipfel willkommen”), and reported that, “Because the USA needs Russia in its fight against terror-IS, the G20 speculation to isolate Russia in the world community has been shelved. The conflict in the Eastern Ukraine is therefore classified as [being only] regionally [important].” Moreover, “Americans and Russians agreed behind the scenes on a division of the Ukraine. … The Ukrainian government and the rebels in the east have agreed on the establishment of a buffer zone in the east of the country. … The resulting 30 km wide buffer zone along the [battle] front will be monitored by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).”

This is, essentially, the announcement introducing truce-lines, such as were established at the end of the Korean War and many others.

I say. I do not know whether it is true, but it sounds somewhat plausible, and if indeed it is true, it is a step forward to help prevent a European war.


[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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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