7, 2014
Crisis: Muslims, GCHQ etc., Climate, "Crimes", Brussels, Tax Evasions
  "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

 How Many Muslim Countries Has the U.S. Bombed Or
     Occupied Since 1980?

 UK intelligence agencies spying on lawyers in sensitive
     security cases

3. Climate change is disrupting flower pollination, research

4. Our addiction to criminalising human behaviour makes a
     mockery of private responsibility

5. Water Cannons, Tear Gas Unleashed on 100,000
     Anti-Austerity Marchers in Brussels

6. US Corporations Top List of Those Living in 'Magical
     Fairyland' of Tax-Dodging

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Friday, November 7. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 shows 12 to 14 Muslim countries were invaded or occupied or bombed by the U.S. since 1980; item 2 shows UK spying agencies also spy on lawyers and their clients (thus giving the government a very unfair advantage); item 3 is about climate change, including recent evidence about pollination; item 4 is about criminalizing human behavior in the U.K.; item 5 is about a large demonstration in Brussels that was torn up by police violence; and item 6 is about the tax evasions very many large corporations do.

Here goes:

1. How Many Muslim Countries Has the U.S. Bombed Or Occupied Since 1980?

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Barack Obama, in his post-election press conference yesterday, announced that he would seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from the new Congress, one that would authorize Obama’s bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria—the one he began three months ago. If one were being generous, one could say that seeking congressional authorization for a war that commenced months ago is at least better than fighting a war even after Congress explicitly rejected its authorization, as Obama lawlessly did in the now-collapsed country of Libya.
Yes. As to the number of Muslim countries that were bombed, there is a clear answer:

To get a full scope of American violence in the world, it is worth asking a broader question: how many countries in the Islamic world has the U.S. bombed or occupied since 1980? That answer was provided in a recent Washington Post op-ed by the military historian and former U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich:

As America’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants extent into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.

Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. Whew.

I say. By the way: I do not think that Bosnia and Kosovo really are "Muslim countries" or "countries in the Islamic world", but even if one subtracts these, there still are 12 Muslim countries that were "invaded or occupied or bombed".

Also, as Glenn Greenwald makes clear, these are just Muslim countries: Other American military operations have been excluded from consideration.

According to Greenwald, the main cause of this behavior is "self-blinding tribalism" by persons who are "pathologically self-deluded". I'd rather say the main causes are stupidity, ignorance or negligence (the initial letters spell "sin"), where the last term refers to a refusal to consider evidence that might show one is ignorant or stupid.

2. UK intelligence agencies spying on lawyers in sensitive security cases 

The next item is an article by Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The intelligence services have routinely been intercepting legally privileged communications between lawyers and their clients in sensitive security cases, according to internal MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents.

The information obtained may even have been exploited unlawfully and used by the agencies in the fighting of court cases in which they themselves are involved, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has been told, resulting in miscarriages of justice.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under the law.

The Conservative MP David Davis, a former shadow home secretary, said past practice was to delete such material immediately if it was ever picked up. Amnesty International said the government was gaining “an unfair advantage akin to playing poker in a hall of mirrors”.

I am not amazed. And here is David Davis talking:

“Each of the three main agencies are clearly keeping records of legal privileged material, and have explicit policies to handle it. In the case of MI5 that policy includes concealing from the court that they have the material, including the secret courts and security cleared special advocates paid by the state.

“This change has been carried out without changing the law or telling parliament. This is an enormous breach of defendants’ judicial rights. Indeed, one dreadful possible consequence is that it could lead to historic convictions being quashed in serious cases, including terrorism cases.”

Yes, indeed. There is a lot more under the last dotted link.

3. Climate change is disrupting flower pollination, research shows 

The next item is an article by Damian Carrington on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Sexual deceit, pressed flowers and Victorian bee collectors are combined in new scientific research which demonstrates for the first time that climate change threatens flower pollination, which underpins much of the world’s food production.

The work used museum records stretching back to 1848 to show that the early spider orchid and the miner bee on which it depends for reproduction have become increasingly out of sync as spring temperatures rise due to global warming.

The orchid resembles a female miner bee and exudes the same sex pheromone to seduce the male bee into “pseudocopulation” with the flower, an act which also achieves pollination. The orchids have evolved to flower at the same time as the bee emerges.

But while rising temperatures cause both the orchid and the bee to flower or fly earlier in the spring, the bees are affected much more, which leads to a mismatch.

You might say this considers just two species, but that would be a mistake: There is considerable evidence many more natural relations are being disturbed. This is a study that goes back to 1848 to show it does hold in this case.

As to the wider perspective:

Three-quarters of all food crops rely on pollination, and bees and other pollinators have already suffered heavily in recent decades from disease, pesticide use and the widespread loss of the flowery habitats on which they feed. In the UK alone, the free fertilisation provided by pollinators is estimated to be worth £430m a year to farmers.

Professor Anthony Davy, also at UEA and part of the research team, said: “There will be progressive disruption of pollination systems with climatic warming, which could lead to the breakdown of co-evolved interactions between species.”

Yes, indeed. There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

4. Our addiction to criminalising human behaviour makes a mockery of private responsibility  

The next item is an article by Simon Jenkins on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

If poisoning your foetus with alcohol is a crime, why is it not a crime to abort it? If alcoholism in pregnancy is “attempted manslaughter”, as a QC told the court of appeal this week, surely abortion is murder. Indeed if alcoholism before birth criminally harms a baby’s life, what about alcoholism and a dozen other cruelties after birth? How many are the misdeeds we inflict on our children to which Britain’s “cult of criminality” should now turn its attention?

We need a philosopher – as Raymond Chandler would say – and we need one fast. All we get are bloody lawyers. The motive for this week’s court case in London had nothing to do with the health of mother or child. It was blatantly financial. A local council is acting on behalf of a seven-year-old girl – “CP” – who suffers from acute “foetal alcohol syndrome”. The claimed cause was her mother’s drinking during pregnancy. The suit is intended to shift the cost of caring for her from the council to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on the grounds that the girl is victim of “violence against the person”.

Well, I am a philosopher, but - knowing the species - I do not think they are needed: it would only add to the confusion, and will give very little if any clarity.
But Simon Jenkins is quite right there is a considerable problem:
When that old softie Margaret Thatcher left power, there were 45,000 Britons in jail. The number has doubled. Then there were 130 jailed shoplifters. Now thousands pass through prison each year for offences treated in most of Europe like a parking violation.

I have on file cases of Britons recently imprisoned for crimes as relatively mild as abusive tweeting, poll-rigging, Boat Race obstructing, cathedral desecrating, job-application falsifying, expenses fiddling, urinating on a war memorial, speeding-point switching, licence fee non-paying, and googling in court.
What is the reason that people who committed such crimes are imprisoned?
It seems to me that this expresses the growth of the authoritarian state,
that desires to punish everyone legally who is not "normal".

Simon Jenkins also says:
When Ken Clarke as justice minister tried to rein back this lunacy, David Cameron sacked him. Now we have the proposed crime of “emotional violence” – including “reducing self-esteem” by calling someone fat – showing there is no limit to the law’s ambition. To be against jailing people for such offences is not to condone what they do, merely to apply some sense of proportion.
Yes - and that is what is needed, much more than philosophers: Common sense. But I agree that is a fairly scarce commodity, and one that is not popular among lawyers.

5. Water Cannons, Tear Gas Unleashed on 100,000 Anti-Austerity Marchers in Brussels  

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

More than 100,000 workers took to the streets in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday to protest austerity cuts and free-market reforms that are set to cut vital social services, freeze wages, and raise the retirement age.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest, which saw laborers and other low-wage workers marching peacefully through downtown Brussels to mark the start of an anticipated month-long campaign against the country's newly elected center-right government.

Note the opposition between the peaceful protestors and the violent police - and again I see the police's violence as a sign of the rise of the authoritarian state. As to the Belgian state, there is this:

Belgium's recently elected coalition, which shuts out the Socialist Party for the first time in decades, is made up of three pro-business parties and the centrist Christian Democrats. The coalition said it was forced to institute these new free-market reforms in order to comply with the European Union's budget restrictions.

But residents and other politicians disagreed. Former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, a Socialist Democrat, told Reuters UK, "I share the concern of the people and the measures of the government are unjust."

But this was the response of the Belgian government: Tear gas and water cannons against peaceful protestors.

6. US Corporations Top List of Those Living in 'Magical Fairyland' of Tax-Dodging

The next item is an article by Jon Qually on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and is in part a summary of a long article I reviewed yesterday):
More than 300 global corporations and financial institutions— including well-known names like Pepsi Co., FedEx, JP Morgan Chase, and Amazon—have created complex tax avoidance schemes using the small European nation of Luxembourg to funnel billions of dollars of profits away from the countries where they actually do business, according to leaked documents obtained and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

As part of their reporting, ICIJ and its international media partners released a large cache of Luxembourg tax rulings—called comfort letters—which document the deals given to these transnational corporations in exchange for funneling their global profits through the country. The reporting details how the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was at the center of the deal-making, representing the corporate clients before the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance which governs the nation's tax system.

According to the ICIJ's extensive reporting:

These companies appear to have channeled hundreds of billions of dollars through Luxembourg and saved billions of dollars in taxes, according to a review of nearly 28,000 pages of confidential documents conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and a team of more than 80 journalists from 26 countries.

Big companies can book big tax savings by creating complicated accounting and legal structures that move profits to low-tax Luxembourg from higher-tax countries where they’re headquartered or do lots of business. In some instances, the leaked records indicate, companies have enjoyed effective tax rates of less than 1 percent on the profits they’ve shuffled into Luxembourg.

There is more in the article, but that is the summary, and the article is well worth reading in full.
[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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