10, 2014
Crisis: UK, Berlin, Catalonia, Veganism, Republicans, "(No) Boots"
  "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

UK rights groups reject official inquiry into
     post-September 11 rendition
 Berlin’s digital exiles: where tech activists go to escape
     the NSA

3. 80% vote in favour of split as Catalans vow to push for

4. Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time
5. Beneath the Republican Wave, Voters Still Reject
     Right-Wing Ideology

6. Belying 'No Boots on Ground' Promises, Number of U.S.
     Troops in Iraq Set to Double

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 10. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about a (justified) withdrawal of British rights group from an official inquiry into post 9/11; item 2 is about Berlin as a - relative - "free haven" for tech activists and is good; item 3 is about Catalonia, that voted for independence, though the vote had no official weight; item 4 is Chris Hedges on the virtues of veganism; item 5 is about what American voters will think now they voted a majority of Republicans (and seems a bit naive); and item 6 considers one of the false promises of Obama.

Incidentally: I am now for nearly a month adding summaries like the above one to the summary index. And the present file got uploaded a bit earlier than is normal.

And here goes:

1. UK rights groups reject official inquiry into post-September 11 rendition

The first item is an article by Mark Townsend on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Britain’s leading human rights groups are to boycott the official investigation into the UK’s involvement in torture and rendition in the years after 9/11, grievously undermining the controversial inquiry.

Nine organisations have announced that they want nothing to do with the parliamentary inquiry by the intelligence and security committee (ISC) into Britain’s alleged role in the ill-treatment of detainees.

A strongly worded letter to the committee team investigating detainee allegations says that, despite raising concerns with the government more than six months ago over whether its decision to allow the ISC to lead the inquiry was “lawful or appropriate”, their concerns of an establishment cover-up remained unanswered.

The letter, obtained by the Observer, says the coalition of groups – including Reprieve, Amnesty International and Liberty – have lost all trust in the committee’s ability to uncover the truth. “Consequently, we as a collective of domestic and international non-governmental organisations do not propose to play a substantive role in the conduct of this inquiry,” the letter states.

I say. Well... this seems the right decision to me, because I agree the British government is grossly corrupt. There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link, but the above suffices here.

2. Berlin’s digital exiles: where tech activists go to escape the NSA 

The next item is an article by Carole Cadwalladr on The Observer:

This starts as follows:

It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest thing, Laura Poitras tells me. “Not knowing whether I’m in a private place or not.” Not knowing if someone’s watching or not. Though she’s under surveillance, she knows that. It makes working as a journalist “hard but not impossible”. It’s on a personal level that it’s harder to process. “I try not to let it get inside my head, but… I still am not sure that my home is private. And if I really want to make sure I’m having a private conversation or something, I’ll go outside.”

Yes, indeed: "It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest thing" - and this applies to everyone who fears being tracked by one of the secret services of the Five Eyes or one of their secret mates, though I agree it applies a lot more to Laura Poitras than to most.

Here is some more on the same theme:

What’s remarkable is that my conversation with Poitras will be the first of a whole series of conversations I have with people in Berlin who either are under surveillance, or have been under surveillance, or who campaign against it, or are part of the German government’s inquiry into it, or who work to create technology to counter it. Poitras’s experience of understanding the sensation of what it’s like to know you’re being watched, or not to know but feel a prickle on the back of your neck and suspect you might be, is far from unique, it turns out.

I'd say: Of course it "is far from unique": At least hundreds of millions are somehow being tracked, traced and spied upon, and considerably more if you also count the spying of Google, Facebook etc. - but indeed almost everyone is placed as Laura Poitras is: You do not know how much, or when, or what for, nor do you have any idea about the dossiers that are compiled on you by the secret services, nor any idea about what these are going to be used for in the future.

You don't know, except perhaps that you are being secretively researched. Here is another quotation:

But then Hubertus Knabe tells me: “The minister of the Stasi always said, ‘We have to answer the question, who is who?’ Those were his words. That means, who thinks what? It used to be an obvious fundamental difference between a democratic state and a dictatorial one that you don’t investigate someone until they did a criminal act. Innocent people are not surveiled. And in this, the difference between how a democratic state acts and how a totalitarian one acts has diminished. And this is very, I don’t know the English word. Besorgniserregend? Hold on, I will look it up,” and he taps into his phone. “Alarming! This is very alarming to me.”

Yes, indeed. Anyway - this is a good series of interviews, and there is much more under the link. I think you should read all of this.

80% vote in favour of split as Catalans vow to push for independence 

The next item is an article by Agence France-Presse on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Catalonia’s nationalist government vowed to step up its secession drive after early results showed four out of five voters in the region backed independence in a referendum which Spain’s central government dismissed as “useless”.

Artur Mas, the regional president, called the verdict by more than two million voters “a total success” and said it “made it very clear that we want to govern ourselves”.

I say. I have been to Spain, but briefly, on holidays, and over 35 years ago, but I know a fair amount about the war of the 1930s, of which the most memorable book I read - over forty years ago - is George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia".

Then again, although I'm pleased that it seems some of the spirit that Orwell met in the late thirties still exists, it is a long time ago, while the present outcome, that was quite strong, indeed also was much more symbolic than anything else, and it will be mostly neglected - it seems - by the Spanish government.

Even so, it seems to me that the outcome was good and strong, and indeed much more so than the Scottish vote, that served as its inspiration.

There is more under the last dotted link.

4. Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate—“God grant me abstinence, but not yet.” But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction, and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife—who was the engine behind our family’s shift—and I have made.
And there is this, set apart and bold in the original:
A person who is vegan will save 1,100 gallons of water, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, 30 square feet of forested land, 45 pounds of grain and one sentient animal’s life every day.
I am a bit skeptical about these numbers (and have been a farmer - quite a long while ago, is true - and also have a diploma from an agricultural school), but OK: I side with the argument, sort of.

But personally I will not heed it: I am poor, I am ill, I live and eat very simply,
but I do eat some meat, some eggs and some fish, though not much, and will
continue to do so mostly because I am ill.

Then again, Chris Hedges gives a fairly strong argument for veganism, while the last link also explains a fair amount (on Wikipedia).

5. Beneath the Republican Wave, Voters Still Reject Right-Wing Ideology 

The next item is an article by Joe Conason on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

In the wake of the 2014 midterm “wave election,” Americans will soon find out whether they actually want what they have wrought. The polls tell us that too many voters are weary of President Barack Obama, including a significant number who actually voted for him two years ago. Polls likewise suggest that most voters today repose more trust in Republicans on such fundamental issues as economic growth, national security and budget discipline. But do they want what Republicans in control will do now?

If they are faithful to their beliefs, the Republican leaders in Washington will now seek to advance a set of policies that are simply repugnant to the public—most notably in the Paul Ryan budget, which many Republicans have signed up to promote (though the caucus of ultra-right Republicans considers that wild plan too “moderate”).

House Speaker John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who will be the Senate majority leader in January, will have to try to repeal Obamacare—but they will very likely be pushed further than that. Proposals to reduce Medicare to vouchers, privatize Social Security and gut the federal agencies that protect the health and safety of ordinary citizens and the preservation of clean water and air will soon emerge. They will continue to let the nation’s infrastructure crumble. And they will attempt to shift the burden of taxation from the wealthy to the middle class, working families and even the poor.

Well...yes and no. More precisely, I agree with the consequences, but I doubt the premiss that "Americans will soon find out whether they actually want what they have wrought": Clearly, some will, but how many (or what percentage)?

Indeed, how many Americans do watch more than the big media and try to keep informed about politics? I don't know, but it cannot be a majority, or else the elections would have had another outcome.

This is also why I doubt many or most will find out about politics, if they haven't found out now, and most haven't - I am quite sorry to say. (The last link probably will help the more intelligent, though.)

6. Belying 'No Boots on Ground' Promises, Number of U.S. Troops in Iraq Set to Double

The next and last item for today is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Further undermining his insistence that the U.S. campaign against Islamic State militants will not involve American boots on the ground, President Obama on Friday authorized the deployment of an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq, a plan that would cost $5.6 billion and would more than double the size of the U.S. force in the nation.

"As a part of our strategy for strengthening partners on the ground, President Obama today authorized the deployment of up to 1500 additional U.S. military personnel in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces," the White House said in a statement. "The President also authorized U.S. personnel to conduct these integral missions at Iraqi military facilities located outside Baghdad and Erbil. U.S. troops will not be in combat, but they will be better positioned to support Iraqi Security Forces as they take the fight to ISIL."

I say. Here is Jodie Evans from CODEPINK:

"For months we’ve been hearing 'no boots on the ground' over and over from the administration, but with an additional 1,500, we now have 3,000 American soldiers in Iraq. When will we learn from our mistakes and stop repeating history?" asked CODEPINK co-founder Jodie Evans. "Shame on the President for approving airstrikes without Congressional approval, sending more soldiers to Iraq, giving away weapons that are falling into the wrong hands, and now talking about keeping soldiers in Afghanistan. How did the Peace President become a warmonger?"

Yes - but he only was a "Peace President" in the campaign that led to his first election, and since then has shown he simply mostly continued Bush Jr.'s policies in almost all respects. I am very sorry, but that is the case.

But OK: This is what Obama means by "no boots on the ground". (Maybe he should have said "feet" and should have forbidden his soldiers to take of their socks? Ah well...)

[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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