22, 2014
Crisis: Climate change *3, Great Britain, United States
  "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

 Climate change marches: Kerry cites fight against Ebola
     and Isis as thousands join protests

2. Giant, Diverse Climate March Makes History, with
     Protests on Tap for Monday
3. 'Historic': 300,000+ March in NYC for Climate Action
4.  Memo to Miliband: Britain’s social order is bankrupt
5.  Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald
      Trump Doesn’t

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 22. It is a
crisis log.

It is the-day-after the climate change marches (for there were quite a lot), and since there also are not much crisis materials, I have five items for you, of which no less than three, namely from The Guardian, AlterNet and Common Dreams, are about the marches. And there is even a comparison of the three reports, at the end of item 3, which may be a bit interesting itself. (Beware of journalism, even good journalism.)

Apart from the climate change marches, there are two pieces: One by Owen Jones on The Guardian, who outlines "Britain's social order is bankrupt" (and I agree it is) and one by Robert Reich who outlines some consequences from the bankruptcy of the U.S.'s social order - for that too is in pieces (definitely since the Supreme Court allowed money in politics and made corporations have human rights).

1. Climate change marches: Kerry cites fight against Ebola and Isis as thousands join protests

The first item is an article by Goldenberg, Gambino, Carrington, Randerson, Mathiesen and Milman (from four different places: New York, London, Paris and Melbourne) on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

More than 300,000 marchers flooded the streets of New York on Sunday in the largest climate change march in history, vaulting the environmental threat to the top of the global agenda.

On a day of 2,700 simultaneous climate events from Melbourne to Manhattan, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, reinforced the calls from the streets for action by calling on world leaders to take the threat of climate change as seriously as Isis or Ebola.

I've got two comments on this.

First, as there seems to be agreement that "
more than 300,000" marched in New York, I find a title that anounces that "thousands" marched - well: a bit misleading: it sounds as if no more than 1% or so of those who marched in fact did march.

Second, I really do not know what John Kerry is doing in the report. I know he is secretary of state of the U.S., but his whole call, that compares two current threats with a threat that has been known for nearly 45 years now, in which governments also did not do anything that had any major effects, seems typical  Kerryan bullshit to me.

Next, as regards the size of the demonstrations and marches:
Organisers claimed 570,000 people protested in 161 countries, from a handful of protesters in Aleppo, Syria, to the mega-march by 310,000 through New York City – three times as many as the 100,000 people organisers had expected, and easily overtaking the 80,000 who demonstrated for climate action in Copenhagen in 2009.
Since there were at least six journalists on this case, it might have been interesting to have some sort of check on that number. But all they have is this:
In London, organisers said 40,000 took to the sunlit streets and marched to the Houses of Parliament. The protest was peaceful, although loud jeers rose up as the crowd passed both Downing Street and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
There were two London journalists. They can't count or estimate? Or report on others' counts or estimates? (But OK: considerably further down, the numbers in London are estimated to have been between 40,000 and 27,000.)

As to Paris, France:
In Paris, organisers said 25,000 people attended – heavy with the knowledge that history would be made on climate, one way or another, in the city in a year’s time. Police put the attendance at 8,000.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but it does not get more inspirational. I turn to the next report:

2.  Giant, Diverse Climate March Makes History, with Protests on Tap for Monday

The next item is an article by Cliff Weathers on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Organizers claim that more than 310,000 people attended the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday. And while it might not have been  that big, it certainly was immense and easily the largest climate action in world history with people attending from across the United States and around the world, with 2,808 other climate rallies held today in more than 150 countries.

The New York march was attended by notable figures in politics, entertainment, science and the environmental movement, including Former Vice President Al Gore, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, primatologist Jane Goodall, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Keith Ellision (D-MN), Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), actors Mark Ruffalo, Ed Norton, Evangeline Lily, and Leonardo DiCaprio, rock icon Sting, and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

I could have taken some of the names from the previous report, but this one has more. Also, the previous report did not mention facts like these:
Rep. Ellison gave an impassioned speech, where he called for a Robin Hood Tax — a tax on Wall Street also known as a financial transaction tax — as a key solution to addressing the climate crisis. The congressman said it would be a relatively tiny tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments that would generate hundreds of billions of dollars of new revenue.
I do not know how realistic that is (and I suppose it isn't very) but it does at least address some issues and policies, and a possible source of money.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, notably as regards what the march looked like, that was not on The Guardian.

Finally on this topic, there is this:

3. 'Historic': 300,000+ March in NYC for Climate Action

The next item is an article by Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

An estimated 400,000 people flooded the streets of New York City on Sunday for the historic People's Climate March, billed as the largest demonstration of its kind in history, organized by more than 1,500 organizations including indigenous, faith, labor, environmental justice, social justice, youth, and climate activism groups.

The march was at least four times the size of pre-march estimates, which stood at 100,000.

“We said it would take everyone to change everything — and everyone showed up,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

Well... I do not know whether the "400,000" in the first paragraph is a typo, since the title mentions "300,000+", but it seems it is not if the second paragraph is also considered.

As to the third paragraph: I did not know there are 400,000 persons on earth, in all, nor that it would be so easy "to change everything". (I'm sorry, but I don't like

Next, we are told:
Simultaneously, over 2,000 events took place in 156 countries across the globe, bringing hundreds of thousands more participants.
This does not rhyme very well with the "161 countries" mentioned in item 1, but OK.

Finally, we are told about the goals of the New York march, that the other two reports left out:
The goals of the New York march were lofty: “With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.”
I say. It does sound a bit - flatulent, especially contrasting the beginning: "our future on the line" and "the whole world watching", with the end: "good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities", but OK.

How do the three reports compare?

They differ a fair amount. Thus, there is no real agreement on the numbers, the prominent attendants, the goals, and the march itself: the march itself is mentioned in one report; the goals in one other; some of the prominent attendants are in two reports, but while there is overlap there is no agreement; and there also is no real agreement on the number of marchers anywhere.

Then again, here are three concluding remarks:

First, I recall the same sorts of  uncertainties about the marches and demonstrations I attended (a lot, nearly all in the Sixties, to be sure), while second, this does show a failure of much journalism: it seems quite difficult to get even simple facts - such as: how many attended - clearly and unambiguously reported. Third, I am not complaining about journalists here: It really is not easy to report facts correctly, and such that most who do know the facts agree on the report.

So here is the general lesson:
Beware of journalism, even good journalism. (And most isn't, and journalists also are less often to blame than it seems: They often have little time and are usually not much better informed on the specifics they are reporting on than average people. I know, for I lived with one. This also is a reason for me to be quite willing to look at different journalistic reports of the same event: I know it is difficult to report well.)

4. Memo to Miliband: Britain’s social order is bankrupt

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
A slogan should gnaw at the conscience of every delegate of the “people’s party” as they throng to Manchester this week: “Vote no, it’s not worth the risk.” Here was one of the Labour party’s final offerings to the people of Scotland in the climax of the independence referendum. No call for the resurrection of the proud, shared traditions of Scots, Welsh and English people as they defied the powerful to build a better society; no convincing pledge that a new Britain would be forged, just and equal and fair unlike what New Labour failed to deliver. Instead, the hollowed-out husk that is Scottish Labour linked arms with a Tory party consigned by Scots to fringe status, and cheered on corporate titans as they threatened to hit livelihoods or pull the plug on the economy.
Yes, indeed - but then Tony Blair destroyed Labour, as Bill Clinton destroyed the Democrats, and since then the political left and the political right have been mostly exchangeable and corporatist. But I agree there is much more to complain about the left (Labour) than the right (Conservatives): the right still mostly serve the Thatcherite/Reaganist doctrines and policies, with a bit of neo-liberal restyling - but so does most of "the political left" at present. (I added "political" to make clear this is true of politicians much more than it is true of ordinary people.)

And indeed, here is Owen Jones on present-day Labour:
Labour’s annual conference is as unreal a place as anywhere in the pantomime of modern British politics. There is no shortage of well-intentioned and principled activists. But the people who Labour was set up to represent are mostly shut out, except perhaps for the catering staff, bartenders and hotel cleaners. Political climbers speak in verbless sentences, stare over shoulders for someone more useful to speak to and – you suspect – wet their fingers to see which way the political winds are blowing.
British politics, and much of Labour, has become a sport, a professional ladder to climb like any investment bank, even if the top salary only puts you in the top 3% of earners rather than the top 0.01%. You can always use a future ministerial position as a launchpad for a lucrative job at a private healthcare firm or defence giant anyway.
Yes, indeed - and the same happened in Holland (the Dutch Tony Blair is Wim Kok). And here is what makes Owen Jones angry - and I agree:
In the last five years of the most protracted economic crisis since the 19th century, the wealth of the richest 1,000 people has more than doubled. That surge in wealth – of about £261bn – is worth about two and a half times Britain’s annual deficit. Tot up their fortunes and you come up with the sum of £519bn, or about a third of Britain’s annual GDP. And yet in the sixth biggest economy on earth nearly 1 million people have been driven to food banks to feed themselves. The Red Cross has distributed food packages to British families for the first time since the second world war.
Only a sociopath would design such a society from scratch, and yet our political elite maintains and defends this grotesque order and portrays the dissenters as the real cranks and extremists.

Yes, indeed - and the reason Labour acts as if they are Tories is that their leaders mostly are like Tories, and they mostly are like Tories because they want to be: Again look at Tony Blair, who now owns a cool 60 million pounds.

There is a considerable amount more in the article. And I suppose I may be more radical than is Owen Jones, for I do not expect anything useful from Labour or the Tories or the Liberal Democrats except attempts to continue the present mess because it pays them well (and also keeps them employed through "the revolving door", again as in Holland, though there are more political parties there).

But I agree that is not a happy thought. [2]

5. Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn’t

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Thirty years ago, on its opening day in 1984, Donald Trump stood in a dark topcoat on the casino floor at Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza, celebrating his new investment as the finest building in Atlantic City and possibly the nation.

Last week, the Trump Plaza folded and the Trump Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy, leaving some 1,000 employees without jobs.

Trump, meanwhile, was on twitter claiming he had “nothing to do with Atlantic City,” and praising himself for his “great timing” in getting out of the investment.

In America, people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble.

The laws protect them through limited liability and bankruptcy.

Yes. And here is the contrast:

Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over are big corporations, wealthy moguls, and Wall Street.

Corporations are even using bankruptcy to break contracts with their employees. When American Airlines went into bankruptcy three years ago, it voided its labor agreements and froze its employee pension plan.

After it emerged from bankruptcy last year and merged with U.S. Airways, America’s creditors were fully repaid, its shareholders came out richer than they went in, and its CEO got a severance package valued at $19.9 million.

But American’s former employees got shafted.

Here is another contrast: While the Wall Street bankers were bailed out:

Yet more than 4 million American families have so far have lost their homes. They were caught in the downdraft of the Street’s gambling excesses.

Or indeed worse: They were tricked by a combination of Bush Jr.'s promises that everyone could buy a house, and the control fraud that the bankers did by giving
houses to people whom they knew could not pay for them (for that is what happened). 

There is considerably more in the article, and here is its sum-up:

The basic question is who should bear these risks. As long as the laws shield large investors while putting the risks on ordinary people, investors will continue to make big bets that deliver jackpots when they win but create losses for everyone else.

Average working people need more fresh starts. Big corporations, banks, and Donald Trump need fewer.

Yes - but the "average working people" will not get them in the current political climate.


[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 did not vote since I did not have to, any more, in 1971. The reason is that I did not find anyone worth voting for, and indeed the events since 1971 have shown I was correct, I think. (And indeed George Carlin's rule applies: You cannot blame me for the many messes the politicians have made.)

O, as to "What if everybody did so?!": First, most do not and never did. Second: My vote (that I do not make) is 1 in 500.000 to 1 in 14 million or so, and hence makes no relevant difference whatsoever. Third, if "everybody did so", or if over half of the people did so, at least it would be clear we are not living in a real democracy anymore, which is what I think, indeed since 1971. And a real democracy would have better people, of greater intelligence and learning, to vote for, instead of the set of largely stupid careerists that have been on offer.

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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