23, 2014
Crisis: Australia, Climate*2, Wall Street, U.S. Academia, Apple, Banned, Munchausen
  "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

 Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in
     Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers

2. The Coming Climate Revolt
3. Dozens arrested as police face off with Flood Wall Street

4. The shocking true story of academia in 2014 
5. Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds 
6. Banned Books Week: A 'Celebration of the Freedom to

7. Doctor Munchausen: Hear no, See no – What?
8. Record-Setting Climate March Proves People Care & The
     Media Doesn't

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, September 23. It is a
crisis log.

1. Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning. In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.

Despite all that, Australia’s political class is in the midst of an increasingly unhinged fear-mongering orgy over terrorism. The campaign has two prongs: ISIS (needless to say: it’s now an all-purpose, global source of fear-manufacturing), and the weekend arrest of 15 people on charges that they planned to behead an unknown, random individual based on exhortations from an Australian member of ISIS.

Yes. I have shown it several times, but it will serve once again: Here is the inspiration of Tony Abbott, whether he knows it or not:

I do not know what a Tony Abbott knows, and I don't know whether he knows who was Goering. (He probably does, since he has a Philosophy, Politics and Economics M.A. from Oxford. [2]) What I am saying is that he knows how to exploit fear and stupidity:
"All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
Having retrieved that, here is some more Glenn Greenwald:
The Australian government wasted no time at all exploiting this event to demand “broad new security powers to combat what it says is a rising threat from militant Islamists.” Even by the warped standards of the West’s 9/11 era liberty abridgments, these powers are extreme, including making it “a crime for an Australian citizen to travel to any area overseas once the government has declared it off limits.” Already pending in that country is a proposal by the attorney general to make it a criminal offense ”punishable by five years in jail for ‘any person who disclosed information relating to ‘special intelligence operations’”; the bill is clearly intended to outright criminalize WikiLeaks-and-Snowden-type reporting, and the government thus expressly refuses to exempt journalists.
Yes. Perhaps I should add that Tony Abbott is a Catholic who was trained by the Jesuits. Here is a final quotation from Greenwald:
The ease with which terrorism is exploited by western governments—a full 13 years after 9/11—is stunning. Americans now overwhelmingly favor military action against a group which, three months ago, almost none of them even knew existed, notwithstanding clear government admissions that the group poses no threat to the “homeland.” When I was in New Zealand last week for a national debate over mass surveillance, the frequency with which the government and its supporters invoked the scary specter of the Muslim Terrorist to justify all of that was remarkable: It’s New Zealand. And now the Liberal Party’s prime minister in Australia barely bats an eye as he overtly squeezes every drop of fear he can to justify a wide array of new powers and spending splurges in the name of a risk that, mathematically speaking, is trivial to the average citizen.
I do not think I consider this "stunning", but then I am older than Greenwald;
I come from a truly radical family; and I have never been impressed by average intelligence, courage, individualism, knowledge, or wisdom (which of course is very bad of me: most are much impressed by these characteristics in most people, or at least tend to pretend as if they are).

But if you can make a population "overwhelmingly favor military action against a group which, three months ago, almost none of them even knew existed" while also they know they run no personal risk, the only conclusion that seems valid to me is that the majority must be quite stupid. (I am sorry - and yes, I really am.)

Then again, I must be one of the few - together with Bill Maher (<- Wikipedia) - who draws an obvious consequence: Much of what is happening now in politics is based on the carefully cultivated stupidity and ignorance of the masses, that allows their political leaders to do as they please.

2.  The Coming Climate Revolt

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows (and is from the day before the march in New York):

We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades—what John Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. We are no longer a capitalist democracy endowed with a functioning liberal class that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. Liberals in the old Democratic Party such as the senators Gaylord Nelson, Birch Bayh and George McGovern—who worked with Ralph Nader to make the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the OSHA law, who made common cause with labor unions to protect workers, who stood up to the arms industry and a bloated military—no longer exist within the Democratic Party, as Nader has been lamenting for several years. They were pushed out as corporate donors began to transform the political landscape with the election of Ronald Reagan. And this is why the Democrats have not, as Bill Curry
points out, enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s.

We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen impotent.

Yes indeed - I quite agree. Here is Chris Hedges on one of the masters of manipulation:
Bill Clinton found that by doing corporate bidding he could get corporate money—thus NAFTA, the destruction of our welfare system, the explosion of mass incarceration under the [1994] omnibus bill, the deregulation of the FCC, turning the airwaves over to a half dozen corporations, and the revoking of FDR’s 1933 Glass-Steagall reform that had protected our banking system from speculators. Clinton, in exchange for corporate money, transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party. This was diabolically brilliant.
For Chris Hedges, this means that the time to turn to "self-identified liberals in the establishment" is past, basically because nearly all of them are deceivers. He wants something considerably more radical:
If Wolin is right, and I believe he is, then when we begin to build mass movements that carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience, as I think everyone on this panel believes we must do, the corporate state, including the Democratic Party, will react the way all calcified states react.  It will use the security and surveillance apparatus, militarized police forces—and, under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, the military itself—to shut down all dissent with force. The legal and organizational mechanisms are now in place to, with the flip of a switch, put the nation effectively under martial law.
I agree something must be done, but I doubt it is time for a revolution. Yet that is what Hedges seems to favor:
We will have to cease our appealing to the system. We will have to view the state, including the Democratic Party, as antagonistic to genuine reform. We will have to speak in the language of ... revolution.
No, I don't think so. More precisely, while I agree with the first two-thirds, I disagree with the last third: The American population is not ready for it (I think) - which means that, in effect, some hundreds, thousands, or tenthousands will get arrested, and will have to go to jail, and that will be the end of it.

Also, I don't think "the climate" is the right topic to revolt over: You need more concrete topics, such as ever rising income inequalities, which also are the outcome of the last 30 years of fundamentally dishonest politicking, and which hit 90% of the people, all quite unfairly, and which also may be righted quite soon with sufficient pressure, although this means the current House and Supreme Court need to go.

3. Dozens arrested as police face off with Flood Wall Street protesters

The next item is an article by Amanda Holpuch on The Guardian:
This starts as follows (with one redundant "to denounce" removed by me):

More than 100 protesters were arrested after hundreds of people gathered in New York City’s financial district on Monday to denounce what organisers say is Wall Street’s contribution to climate change.

Flood Wall Street demonstrators, primarily dressed in blue to represent climate change-induced flooding, marched to New York City’s financial centre to “highlight the role of Wall Street in fuelling the climate crisis,” according to organisers.

There is considerably more in the article, but I will quote just one more bit to show that today it was not quite as Chris Hedges envisaged (though indeed this was merely the first day after the big march):

Although many protesters set out with the aim of getting arrested, the crowd’s relations with police were considerably less adversarial compared to those of Occupy Wall Street, which happened in the same part of the city.

Legal observers in bright green caps dotted the protests and people were collecting the names and birthdays of those who were willing to be arrested.

So no, this does not prove anything either way.

4. The shocking true story of academia in 2014

The next item is an article by Matt Sacaro on Salon:
This starts as follows:

You’ve probably heard the old stereotypes about professors in their ivory tower lecturing about Kafka while clad in a tweed jacket. But for many professors today, the reality is quite different: being so poorly paid and treated, that they’re more likely to be found bargain-hunting at day-old bread stores. This is academia in 2014.

“The most shocking thing is that many of us don’t even earn the federal minimum wage,” said Miranda Merklein, an adjunct professor from Santa Fe who started teaching in 2008. “Our students didn’t know that professors with PhDs aren’t even earning as much as an entry-level fast food worker. We’re not calling for the $15 minimum wage. We don’t even make minimum wage. And we have no benefits and no job security.”

Over three quarters of college professors are adjunct. Legally, adjunct positions are part-time, at-will employment. Universities pay adjunct professors by the course, anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000. So if a professor teaches three courses in both the fall and spring semesters at a rate of $3000 per course, they’ll make $18,000 dollars. The average full-time barista makes the same yearly wage. However, a full-time adjunct works more than 40 hours a week. They’re not paid for most of those hours.
There is a lot more in the article, but no statistics. But I do think the general picture is correct:

Pay for many professors in many American universities is minimal since 30 years, and comes in third or fourth place (after student dormitories, gymnasiums etc.), and the same has been happening in the universities as elsewhere: A few tenured professors got a whole lot richer, and most other professors, especially adjuncts, earn minimal wages.

5. Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds 

The next item is an article by Micah Lee on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

In a much-publicized open letter last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to protect user privacy with improved encryption on iPhones and iPads and a hard line toward government agents. It was a huge and welcome step toward thwarting the surveillance state, but it also seriously oversold Apple’s commitment to privacy.

Yes, Apple launched a tough-talking new privacy site and detailed a big improvement to encryption in its mobile operating system iOS 8: Text messages, photos, contacts, and call history are now encrypted with the user’s passcode, whereas previously they were not. This follows encryption improvements by Apple’s competitors Google and Yahoo.

But despite these nods to privacy-conscious consumers, Apple still strongly encourages all its users to sign up for and use iCloud, the internet syncing and storage service where Apple has the capability to unlock key data like backups, documents, contacts, and calendar information in response to a government demand.

OK - I will come to iCloud in a moment. I first want to say that I do consider this a genuine improvement, even though I trust Apple as much as I trust the U.S. government: This is "a huge and welcome step toward thwarting the surveillance state".

Now the iCloud. I should start with saying that I've never used a cloud: I have always considered it pretty crazy to put your private data outside the privacy of your own home or your own computer, especially as storage space is these days quite cheap.

And indeed, here is the weakness of Apple's iCloud schema:

The improved encryption in iOS 8 is a great move towards protecting consumer privacy and security. But users should be aware that in most cases it doesn’t protect your iOS device from government snoops.

While Apple does not have the crypto keys that can unlock the data on iOS 8 devices, they do have access to your iCloud backup data. Apple encrypts your iCloud data in storage, but they encrypt it with their own key, not with your passcode key, which means that they are able to decrypt it to comply with government requests.

In order to fully enjoy the benefits of keeping your crypto key private, you should also turn off iCloud syncing for any data that you consider private.

Yes, indeed. (And I may also say that, since I am myself using Linux/Ubuntu, Ubuntu completely stopped its cloud service on June 1, 2014. I have not read any reasons, but I've also never used it, again because I value my privacy.)

But OK: Apple has done something to help its users keep their private data private, and that is A Good Thing. But you can't trust them, and even if you could, the U.S. government may be crazy enough to forbid all encryption, or at least all encryption that cannot be easily undone by the government, as indeed the NSA and the CIA seem to desire.

6. Banned Books Week: A 'Celebration of the Freedom to Read'

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

Actually, this is not a crisis issue. But I like to read (for which reason my home still does not have a TV, now for 44 years) and indeed I owe quite a number of books that were at some time forbidden to be read.

This starts as follows:

Want to celebrate freedom from censorship and open access to information this week?

You might want to pick up a copy of Captain Underpants, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or The Hunger Games. That's because they're on the list of 2013's most challenged books, and this is Banned Books Week, an annual "celebration of the freedom to read."

"Our most basic freedom in a democratic society is our first amendment right of the freedom to read," a statement from American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young reads. "Banned Books Week is an opportunity for all of us—community residents, librarians, authors and educators—to stand together protecting this fundamental right for everyone and for future generations. We can never take this precious right for granted."

Quite so. Andrea Germanos also quotes from the "Banned Books Week Handbook", but that I found a bit disappointing. First the quote:

Censorship is about more than a single book. It is about the intellectual, cultural and political life of the community and the people in it.

Each time a book is removed, it reinforces the idea that books and ideas are off-limits if someone doesn’t like them. It contributes to a culture where it’s better to hide from controversial or difficult topics, than to acknowledge or discuss them. Restricting or banning a book hurts kids and education, because teachers and librarians may decide not to teach or buy another similar book, even if they feel it would be educational or enjoyable.

While that seems all quite true, it is not the criticism of censorship I would like to read, which is this:

Censorship of books, among adult persons, is evil because it gives to a few the means to censor everybody else from reading the thoughts of a third. It may be quite true, though it does not need to be, that the thoughts of the author are bad and reprehensible, or mad and cruel, or pornographic and ugly, or difficult and anti-government, but none of this justifies any censoring - that is: the explicit denial of the right to be informed about what this author wrote - by any one.
The reason censorship of books,
among adult persons, is evil is that (1) it gives a few the authority to deny everyone else any knowledge that the few did have while (2) information as such - if not personal - does not harm anyone. [3]

Anyway, this is a good idea (and my remarks on censorship apply to adults only).

7. Doctor Munchausen: Hear no, See no – What?

The next item is an article by Dr. David Healy on his site:

This is the last article in a series - and no, this is mostly for the medically interested, and less so for others.

I like Dr. Healy because he is one of the few psychiatrists and medical doctors who acts sensibly, and who has acted sensibly for a long time - for indeed most don't, although the degrees of guilt or corruption differ a lot: It varies from accepting the influence of pharmaceutical companies, or accepting the present non-publishing of many medical data, to being a willing partner in corruption by the pharmaceutical companies, and prescribing strong psychotropic drugs to small children.

Also, it is clear to me that dr. Healy cannot say all he wants to say and keep his job, which he does well, and which I also hope he keeps. Here is just the last part of his last piece in this series:

In terms of responsibility, we don’t hold the train driver responsible for Auschwitz. Are doctors little more than drivers operating the train to Auschwitz?

Back in the 1950s or 1960s doctors were little gods. It would have been inconceivable to cast them in the role of train drivers. The men responsible for the medicating of orphans and giving them vaccines were closer to Doctor Munchausen figures or perhaps even had something in common with Dr Mengele – although this is a judgement made easier by the benefit of hindsight.

But today even Professors from Brown, Harvard or Oxford have so little real say that it is in some respects difficult to see them as any more than glorified train drivers.

We live in an era when AllTrials, the BMJ, and GSK can all appear part of a cosy alliance.

It’s also an era when children in orphanages, foster care and in care generally, are getting vastly more psychotropic drugs given to them than ever before.

Thirty years from now if doctors escape judgement because it is deemed they were just train-drivers, it is as likely they will be a vanishing breed as priests are now, as much use as salt that has lost its bite.

Here are some remarks by me:

As to Auschwitz and concentration camps: My father and grandfather were locked up as "political terrorists" in German concentration camps in 1941, basically because they were in the communist resistance to Nazism, which my grandfather did not survive, and I have read a considerable amount about WW II and about concentration camps.

Given that, I don't know whether I would "hold the train driver responsible for Auschwitz": Not if he really did not know what he was doing, but what if, on the other extreme, he knew and agreed with it? Or in the middle: He didn't agree but he knew some? [4]

Next, as to the doctors of the 1950s or 1960s: These covered sadists like Ewen Cameron, who also became head of the American Psychiatric Association, and the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the World Psychiatric Association, while he worked in secret for the CIA, and he much abused very many persons in ways that can only be described as sadistic.

Then again, while Cameron was one of the worst, there were quite a few other medical doctors who also misbehaved, and I am not aware that any of them was ever punished.

Next, I do not think professors from Harvard or Oxford are like train drivers: Even if they have little to say (which I tend to doubt), certainly they act as figures of authority to their patients, whom they tend to seriously mislead if they are psychiatrists.

And yes, it is true that "children in orphanages, foster care and in care generally, are getting vastly more psychotropic drugs" - and these psychotropic drugs also tend to harm them, and tend to be prescribed on very little or no good evidence.

So no: I hold the doctors responsible, as indeed they would hold me responsible if I were willingly harming them. Then again, in "thirty years" most things will be mostly forgotten.

Even so, one of the most frightening things for me is that so very many people live lifes of careful conformity, in which they pretend to be adult responsible members of society, but where most are simply absent as soon as it comes to defending any position without, at least, a considerable group of similar minded.

That was so during WW II, and it was the same during the time in which I lived, though that was a relatively easy time for most in the West, with many freedoms.

8. Record-Setting Climate March Proves People Care & The Media Doesn't

The next and last item is not an article but a video by The Young Turks of 8 m
49 s:

They start with saying 400,000 attended the march in New York, which I tend to doubt, but even so, over 300,000 also is a quite good figure.

The main reason this item is here is to show something about the march, because it does not seem to be reported at all on Fox News.


[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] In case you question this: In Holland, at least, history is no longer taught in schools, except as a free subject, and there are quite a few persons in their teens and twenties who hardly know there was a second world war. I know this may be hard to believe, but this is what you get by not teaching history: A generation that is quite ready to repeat the mistakes of the past, and also to do so quite blindly and enthusiastically.

[3] Note this is about information, not application: one may be informed about many things one may not or would not apply, for many reasons, that vary between disagreement (one doesn't like it) and ethics or the law (it is forbidden to do such things, or one would consider it unethical to do such things). Also, the inserted "if not personal" is meant to refer to the only kind of information that may be genuinely painful: information about oneself or one's family or friends.
(It does seem to me that tends to be more painful than - say - reading about concentration camps, and while I grant the last may be painful in some sense, it is merely information, and one may stop reading it. Also, while I am against censorship, I am also against forced readings.)

[4] It is difficult to say, and most people who lived as adults during WW II are dead. But I do know one thing: My father and grandfather behaved as responsible persons, and most Dutchman either did not at all, or did less so, which is - among other things - expressed by the fact that more than 1% of the total Dutch population - over 100,000 persons - was murdered for being "of an inferior race". (These numbers are not often mentioned in Holland, where everyone is, at least by most, considered to be the equivalent of my father and grandfather, but they are true, as it is also true that not very many were arrested for opposing Nazism, among the very heroic Dutch.)

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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