2, 2014
Crisis: Definitions, Guantánamo, Tories, Mothers, Austerity, Species, Food, War, TTIP
  "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

 New Intel Doc: Do Not Be ‘Led Astray’ By ‘Commonly
     Understood Definitions’

The Government Wants Guantanamo Force-Feeding
     Hearing Kept Secret

3. From Tory tax cuts to the war in Iraq, we’re lurching

4. Single mothers are the real casualties in Cameron’s class

5. Austerity has been an utter disaster for the eurozone
6. It's time to shout stop on this war on the living world
7. Congress Cut $8.7 Billion in Food Stamps in Same Year
     We’ll Spend $22 Billion to Fight Islamic State

8. Costs of Obama's New War in Iraq and Syria Set to
     Explode, say Analysts

9. Leaked TTIP Documents Reveal Powerful Chemical
     Industry Wins

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, October 2. It is a
crisis log.

There are 9 items and 9 dotted links. Most is in continuance of earlier items, and none of it will make you any happier (unless you are a "Greed is Good!" sort of rich person, but then indeed I do not think that you will be reading me).

But OK - I am not writing this to make you happy but to keep you informed:

1. New Intel Doc: Do Not Be ‘Led Astray’ By ‘Commonly Understood Definitions’

The first item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This is a brief piece about the redefined "meanings" that the U.S. government uses when it "communicates". There is this in it:

Although the intelligence community’s astonishing abuse of words has been frequently noted, particularly in the context of surveillance, this may be the first time we’ve actually seen an instruction manual.

And also this:
There’s also a “Guide to the Deceptions, Misinformation, and Word Games Officials Use to Mislead the Public About NSA Surveillance” that Trevor Timm wrote for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Mike Masnick’s more tongue in check “NSA-To-English Dictionary” from Techdirt.
From the last one (since that is the only one offering a list of words and redefinitions):
  • Surveillance: When we actually access full content of your calls and emails, but not when we access all the data about who you talk to, where you are and what you do.
  • Collect: When we run a search on data we collected er... "stored for safe keeping."
  • Relevant: Everything. It might become relevant in the future, thus it's relevant today.
  • Targeted: As long as we're collecting the info for an investigation that involves a "target" then any info is "targeted" even if that info has nothing to do with the "target."
  • Incidental: Everything that we collect... er... store that may become "relevant" at some point but isn't now even though it's "targeted." In short: everything.
  • Inadvertent: Stuff we did on purpose on a massive scale that looks bad when exposed publicly.
  • Minimize: A term we use to pretend that we delete information on Americans, but which has many exceptions, including if you encrypted your communications or if we have a sneaking suspicion that you're 51% foreign based on a hunch.
  • No: When said to Congress in response to questions about whether we collect data on millions of Americans, this means "fuck you."
The general point is this - I think:

When the U.S. government "communicates" with everyone who is not employed by the government (in a high function), especially about matters the government  wants to be secret, it uses most words with quite different senses than these same words have in ordinary dictionaries, but generally also without saying so, and without usually giving the new definitions they use.

This means that these "communications" are intricate pieces of lying (sorry: "speaking the "truth" in government-talk"):

Those who "communicate" in Pentagon-speak (as I shall call it) generally say quite different things than they appear to say - and in fact they might as well precede their "communications" with "For the purpose of "informing" you fools, idiots and opponents, we do not mean what we appear to say, but then again we also do not explain our new terms, that are only meaningful to us, and meant to deceive the rest" - except that they don't state such a prefix, for that again would give away too much.

But here is the short of it:
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
Though indeed one difference is that these days they lie not by affirming what they know to be not so, but by seeming to say what they do not really say, and by not offering their redefinitions either.

2. The Government Wants Guantanamo Force-Feeding Hearing Kept Secret

The next item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The government wants to keep secret a hearing where a hunger-striking Guantanamo detainee is attempting to expose the painful force-feedings endured by prisoners protesting their indefinite detention.

Abu Wa’el Dhiab is a 43-year-old Syrian who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. He has been on hunger strike for 18 months, and has asked a federal court to intervene to stop what he describes as brutal force-feedings conducted by the military at Guantanamo. The World Medical Association holds that force-feeding “is a degrading treatment, inhumane and may amount to torture.” Hearings in his case are set to begin in Washington next week.

It also includes this:
By the summer of 2013, roughly 100 detainees were on hunger strike and about 40 of them were subjected to force-feedings. Prisoners were often forcibly brought from their cells and restrained during the feedings, in which nutritional supplements are pushed down their throats through a tube. A hunger striker’s account of being tied to a bed for 26 hours appeared in the op-ed pages of the New York Times. An article in a prominent medical journal called on doctors at Guantanamo to mutiny, saying that “force-feeding a competent person is not the practice of medicine; it is aggravated assault.” (At least one Navy nurse at Guantanamo has refused to perform the procedure.)
There is considerably more in the article.

3. From Tory tax cuts to the war in Iraq, we’re lurching backwards

The next item is an article by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:
This contains the following:

The spin has been that the Conservatives are now the party of “progress, compassion and social justice”. The unmistakable message of the conference, however, is that they are heading backwards on all fronts.

Nothing got delegates more excited during George Osborne’s speech than when the chancellor pledged £3bn more cuts in benefits. They whooped with delight as he promised that the poorest 10 million households would face two years’ further real-terms losses of income.

They thundered their approval when he told them you don’t “set the poor free by giving them money”. Pain has to be inflicted to “eliminate the deficit”, the chancellor insisted, along with another £22bn worth of “savings”.
The deficit might be “the most important issue that we face”. But there was a still higher calling than fiscal probity: tax cuts for the better-off. The squeeze on child benefit and tax credits for the poorest would, the prime minister made clear, pay for raising the 40% tax threshold on the top 15% of earners – or “middle England”, as the media quaintly likes to call them.

There is a lot more in the article, that indeed shows what Cameron's government is doing:
The real priority is reducing tax for the better-off and a spectacular lurch back to Thatcherism.
Yes, indeed - and see the next piece:

4. Single mothers are the real casualties in Cameron’s class war

The next item is an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:

This is mostly like Seumas Milne in the previous item, except that it is more about single mothers, who are cruelly punished by Cameron's government (if poor, like most), and it contains this bit - although I had to repair the first link (which now works here):

(...) if you want to see how much has really changed then I suggest you read Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 conference speech and see that Cameron is just finishing off what she started. So this is not just politics as usual but the politics of yesteryear tarted up and paraded as the only game in town. Austerity and the acceptance of it as the only meaningful narrative has left Labour simply contesting the same macho territory. Hence Ed Balls having to look hard by promising to freeze child benefit.

And as I've said before, this also makes it clear that the British Labour Party these days - after Tony Blair has destroyed it - is basically a Conservatives Lite Party: There are hardly anymore socialists in it, and even social democracy seems too difficult for them. (It's the same with Dutch Labour, since that was destroyed by Wim Kok: The only ones who remain there are the real bastards, who also have nowhere else to go.)

5. Austerity has been an utter disaster for the eurozone

The next item is an article by Joseph Stiglitz (<-Wikipedia) on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the theory,” goes the old adage. But too often it is easier to keep the theory and change the facts – or so German chancellor Angela Merkel and other pro-austerity European leaders appear to believe. Though facts keep staring them in the face, they continue to deny reality.

Austerity has failed. But its defenders are willing to claim victory on the basis of the weakest possible evidence: the economy is no longer collapsing, so austerity must be working! But if that is the benchmark, we could say that jumping off a cliff is the best way to get down from a mountain; after all, the descent has been stopped.

Yes, though it must be added that the reasonings of the pro austerity folks (nearly everyone in any government, and no: they are not hit by austerity, not at all) is that the 10% or the 1% are not hit, so "therefore" austerity is a success - which indeed it is, quite astonishingly also, if seen for what it really is: The instrument to make the few rich a lot richer, by stealing their riches from the poor (and blaming it on "welfare queens") - modern government of the people corporations, by the people corporations, for the people corporations. ("Corporations are people", according to the current U.S. Supreme Court.)

There is also this:

The most afflicted countries are in a depression. There is no other word to describe an economy like that of Spain or Greece, where nearly one in four people – and more than 50% of young people – cannot find work. To say that the medicine is working because the unemployment rate has decreased by a couple of percentage points, or because one can see a glimmer of meager growth, is akin to a medieval barber saying that a bloodletting is working, because the patient has not died yet.

Extrapolating Europe’s modest growth from 1980 onwards, my calculations show that output in the eurozone today is more than 15% below where it would have been had the 2008 financial crisis not occurred, implying a loss of some $1.6 trillion this year alone, and a cumulative loss of more than $6.5 trillion.

Yes, but as I said: As a schema for enriching the rich by robbing from the poor, which became reality in 2008-2009, when the billions of poor were made to pay trillions of dollars to bail out a few thousands of corrupt and fraudulent bankers, it has been quite successful, especially as no one prosecuted any of the fraudulent bankers. (Thank you Eric Holder!)

Finally there is this:

The hope is that lower corporate taxes will stimulate investment. This is sheer nonsense. What is holding back investment (both in the United States and Europe) is lack of demand, not high taxes.

Again yes, but...: Indeed it is sheer nonsense, but the lack of demand only punishes the 90% of the poor, who do not have the power, and indeed are not represented either, really [2], while it enriches the 10% of the rich, and they have the power.

And this is what the European governors really want: Less money for the many poor, and more money for the few rich, which includes the European governors - and they are quite successful as well (thanks to the mostly thoroughly corrupted media, it seems).

6. It's time to shout stop on this war on the living world

The next item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

This is a moment at which anyone with the capacity for reflection should stop and wonder what we are doing.

If the news that in the past 40 years the world has lost over 50% of its vertebrate wildlife (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) fails to tell us that there is something wrong with the way we live, it’s hard to imagine what could. Who believes that a social and economic system which has this effect is a healthy one? Who, contemplating this loss, could call it progress?

Well, since you ask: Nearly all policians, "left" and "right" and certainly those in government, whether "left" or "right"; nearly all think tanks (that tend to be right anyway); and most of the media will either not care much, or pooh-pooh the problem, or start A Campaign To Save The World - except that campaign really is to make money for those who start it, rather like Live Aid, and similar projects, that also did not get much done to help the poor, but made their organizers much more famous than they were.

Then again, the news that the world lost in 40 years 50% of its vertebrate wild life really is striking news:

(..) what we see now is something new: a speed of destruction that exceeds even that of the first settlement of the Americas, 14,000 years ago, when an entire hemisphere’s ecology was transformed through a firestorm of extinction within a few dozen generations, in which the majority of large vertebrate species disappeared.

Many people blame this process on human population growth, and there’s no doubt that it has been a factor. But two other trends have developed even faster and further. The first is the rise in consumption; the second is amplification by technology. Every year, new pesticides, fishing technologies, mining methods, techniques for processing trees are developed. We are waging an increasingly asymmetric war against the living world.
Yes, and in fact both of these trends are profit driven, and are mostly sold to a generally eager public through the economic propaganda of advertisements. On this there is the following:
What and whom is this growth for?

It’s for the people who run or own the banks, the hedge funds, the mining companies, the advertising firms, the lobbying companies, the weapons manufacturers, the buy-to-let portfolios, the office blocks, the country estates, the offshore accounts. The rest of us are induced to regard it as necessary and desirable through a system of marketing and framing so intensive and all-pervasive that it amounts to brainwashing.

Well...yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I agree with Monbiot's analysis. But no, in the sense that I must be one of the few: To the vast majority, there is no alternative but consuming, and also they do not believe they are brainwashed:

They think it is quite natural, quite human, quite moral, and quite deserving that 7 billion human beings all want to live as the rich Americans - the top 10% then - lived in the 1970ies, and anything which keeps them from satisfying that dream they strongly repel.

And that is the basic human problem: Too many men, with too little intelligence and too much ignorance, willing to exterminate each other in the hunt for riches for themselves. 

7.  Congress Cut $8.7 Billion in Food Stamps in Same Year We’ll Spend $22 Billion to Fight Islamic State

The next item is an article by Juan Cole on Truthdig (and originally on Juan Cole's website):
This starts with the quotation of a headline and a message from last February:

”Congress passes $8.7 billion food stamp cut

By Ned Resnikoff

It’s official: 850,000 households across the country are set to lose an average of $90 per month in food stamp benefits.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 68-32 to send the 2014 Farm Bill – which includes an $8.7 billion cut to food stamps – to President Obama’s desk. Nine Democrats opposed the bill, and 46 members of the Democratic caucus voted for it, joining 22 Republicans.”

And that is quoted to develop the following contrast:
The GOP Congress’s assault on the American working class has been waged with the pretext that the Federal government has no money (what with being in debt and all).
In contrast, Congress has no problem with the war on ISIL in Iraq and Syria, which could cost from $18 bn to $22 bn a year.
Which is to say (and I agree) that the message that the vast majority in Congress sends to their electorate is this:

More than a million Americans must starve, so that Congress can help the rich to bomb the Syrians back to the Middle Ages. Why? Because Americans are exceptional!

8. Costs of Obama's New War in Iraq and Syria Set to Explode, say Analysts

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This has the following in the beginning:

According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments:

Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month. If air operations are conducted at a higher pace and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the costs would be between $350 and $570 million per month. If operations expand significantly to include the deployment of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, as some have recommended, costs would likely reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month.

On an annual basis, CSBA estimates, the U.S. military's operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) could cost as much as $22 billion dollars a year.

This accords with the previous item, by the way. The above continues:

The Pentagon is currently funding the attack through a controversial war fund, dubbed the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is exempt from federal budget caps. The fund was originally created to fund the previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan though defense officials say it will likely be around for the "long-term."

There is also this on earlier estimates for the costs of earlier similar wars:
In 2003, President Bush said his purported goal of bringing democracy to Iraq would require a "lengthy campaign" and cost and estimated $60 billion, which NPP notes is just a "small fraction" of their $817 billion estimate. (Economist Joseph Stiglitz even argues that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could amount to as much as $4 trillion.)
Which means, if this is a safe indicator, that the war that Obama started (which in his parlance is "not a war", though there are many bombings, while there are also "no boots on the ground", which means there are at least 1600 Americans currently employed there) will cost in the order of $ 240 billion.

9. Leaked TTIP Documents Reveal Powerful Chemical Industry Wins

The next and last item if today is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Corporate interests may be winning in U.S.-EU trade negotiations, endangering public health and the environment, a new cache of documents (pdf) leaked on Tuesday show.

Backed by powerful industry advisers and bolstered by U.S. allies who have already made significant concessions to move negotiations along, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal is poised to derail European regulations around the use and transport of chemicals—regulations which are significantly stronger than those in the U.S. The deal would also limit public access to information on toxic and hazardous substances.

There is considerably more in the article, which I will leave to the reader's interests, but I should mention that the TTIP is a secret treaty, that aims at undoing the states' grip - and their populations' grip - on their own economies.

Of course, renowned progressives like Obama and the European leaders are very much for it. I think it is criminal, as indeed are most things that governments want to keep secret.
P.S. Oct 3, 2014: Corrected some small typos.
[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] That is, unless you want to say that a Tea Party follower with an IQ of 80 who believes in the lies of the GOP is being represented by those who lie to him. 

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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