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Nederlog


  November
23, 2014
Crisis: British paedophiliacs, Whistleblowers, Obama, Big Pharma, Congress, Pensions
  "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
Sections
Introduction

1.
Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases’
2.
  'There were hundreds of us crying out for help': the
     afterlife of the whistleblower

3. Endless War: Obama Secretly Extends US War on
     Afghanistan

4. Big Pharma—Crony Capitalism Out of Control
5.
The death of working-class politics: How the wealthy
     conquered Congress and abandoned blue-collar America

6. Wall Street is Taking Over America’s Pension Plans

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 23. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – (that were disappeared) that were handed out in the 1980ies in England to prevent that the public learned anything about the paedophilia of their political leaders; item 2 is a long and not very good article about whistleblowers; item 3 is about Obama once more not doing what he said, this time about Afghanistan; item 4 is Ralph Nader on Big Pharma and is good; item 5 is a none too good article about the make-up of the American Congress (nearly all millionaires); and item 6 is a decent article about Wall Street's appropriating trillions of dollars of pensions to invest as they please.

And here goes:

1. Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases’

The first item today is an article by Daniel Boffey on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The security services are facing questions over the cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring as it emerged that files relating to official requests for media blackouts in the early 1980s were destroyed.

Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. One executive said he had been accosted in his office by 15 uniformed and two non-uniformed police over a dossier on Westminster paedophiles passed to him by the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle.

The other said that his newspaper had received a D-notice when a reporter sought to write about a police investigation into Elm Guest House, in southwest London, where a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated and may have killed a child. Now it has emerged that these claims are impossible to verify or discount because the D-notice archives for that period “are not complete”.

I say. This sounds pretty crazy - and I do not mean that "a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated and may have killed a child"; I mean that (i) D-notices were handed around to protect the "high-profile paedophiles", and (ii) after the fact the D-notices - which are pretty rare - were destroyed.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but I do think it quite unlikely that this ever will get clarified.

Then again, this gives me a reason to make a few other points I should have made yesterday, when I discussed - what I think is - the fact that currently voting is mostly an exercise in manipulating the dumber half of the voters, that also tends to succeed if sufficient amounts of money can be given to the manipulation, as is currently the case in the United States.

I should have added this on political types - those who consider themselves fit to lead the nation, to speak to millions, and to decide the most fundamental social, economic and legal questions mostly by themselves. I will call them "the politicians", and have learned the following about them, the last 45 years:
  • The majority of the politicians is currently the least fit to be politicians as defined: "to decide the most fundamental social, economic and legal questions";
  • the majority of the politicians - left, right and center: it really matters very little, especially in the U.S. and the U.K. - are not in politics to do well for others, but to do well for themselves and their parties;
  • the majority of the politicians are well-trained, professional liars and deceivers, who generally speak as their PR-advisers advice them, also nearly completely regardless of whatever their own beliefs and values and priorities may be (which in fact are rarely publicly spoken about).
There are, here and there, now and then, a few exceptions to this, who mean well, and sometimes even do well, but this gets less and less especially because the politicians you see and hear tend to be those that got approved by the current leaders, and not others: You nearly always get more of the approved same, if not by the same persons.

Another reason this gets less and less is that political parties - left, right and center - are all organized on totalitarian lines: only the approved party program gets public airing, and that only by approved politicians. This is also why the very few who do survive and get some public airing tend to be considered fools by their own political mates, and also are generally allowed only one subject.

Again, as I did yesterday, I have been painting in very broad strokes, but this is the result of watching politics and politicians for over 45 years now - I have only rarely seen a few who did not belong to the great majority of
the least fit to be proper politicians, by which I also mean that the great majority almost never knows as much about politics, history, and economics as I do (which means that for me they are totally unfit to rule, whatever their intentions: you need real knowledge to make good decisions, that indeed are very rare these days), and also, at least in Holland (it is different elsewhere, is true), extremely few can talk even half-way decently.

It's a shame, but it is a fact, and if you disagree it must be either because you are a lot younger or a lot less well informed than I am (or you live in another quite utopian country, indeed: who knows) - and please note that I am not indulging any party here: it holds across the board, though indeed especially in the larger and more powerful parties.

2. 'There were hundreds of us crying out for help': the afterlife of the whistleblower 

The next item is an article by Andrew Smith on The Guardian:

This is a long article about whistleblowers. I do not think it is very good, but it is long and I will quote two bits of it. Here is the first, from quite a while into the story, that sets the scene, as it were, in general terms:
Whistleblowers have always been with us, but this century they have attained a kind of ubiquity, leading the news on a weekly basis. Last month, a whistleblower reported massive accounting irregularities at Tesco; this month it was alleged mortgage fraud on an unimaginable scale at JP Morgan Chase. As I write, allegedly dangerously lax hygiene at a dental practice in Nottingham has been revealed. And all this while Laura Poitras’s documentary about Edward Snowden screens at cinemas around the country.
(...)
Who are the whistleblowers, and what makes them do it when most of us don’t? The Hollywood-created image is of the awkward outsider; brave, but destined for maverick isolation anyway. In short, not like us. But most of the people I meet in the course of writing this article are essentially conservative. They spoke out because they felt they had to. The real story lies in what happened next.
Hm. I do follow the news quite well, and for at least 45 years, but I can't say that it ever has struck me that "Whistleblowers ... have attained a kind of ubiquity, leading the news on a weekly basis". Really now?! And even if it were true, what does it mean?  What "kind of ubiquity"? Which "news"? And what kind of "whistleblowers"? (I have no idea: this is all too vague.)

And besides (and apart from all that "ubiquity", of whistleblowers): Would it not have been somewhat relevant to investigate why the vast majority - e.g. of Edward Snowden's former colleagues - is not a whistleblower, even while they know there would be much to complain about if they tried? What is it that turns the vast majority into silent, taciturn, conformistic non-whistleblowers? Lack of character? Lack of intelligence? Egoism? Fear?

But OK - these are some of my difficulties, perhaps. As I said, there is a lot more, but I only want to quote one more bit:

C Fred Alford, professor of government at the University of Maryland, is the author of Whistleblowers: Broken Lives And Organizational Power, a study into the personal impact of whistleblowing. It makes for an alarming read. Surprise discoveries include a finding that seniority offers little protection, and that it makes no difference whether a concern is first raised inside or outside the organisation. Of Alford’s three dozen-strong sample group, most lost their jobs and never worked in the same field again; many also lost their families, as court cases and tribunals dragged on for a decade and more. A majority suffered from depression, with alcoholism common. In another study, half the sample group was found to have gone bankrupt. All of this tallied with the people I talked to: the sanctity of whistleblowing may be written into law, in both the UK and US, but for most it will be a traumatic experience. “The greatest shock,” Alford says, “is what the whistleblower learns about the world – that nothing he or she believed is true."
Again: I've never heard of Alford, but it seems his main lesson is: Don't do it!
Then again, I don't know anything about the research or the motives of Alford, nor about his "sample", so again I only am offered vagueries.

Anyway...in case you want to read a long but not very clear report about whistleblowing and whistleblowers, there is the above last dotted link.


3. Endless War: Obama Secretly Extends US War on Afghanistan

The next item is an article by Common Dreams Staff on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Last May 27, in an announcement in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama said:

"2014, therefore, is a pivotal year.  Together with our allies and the Afghan government, we have agreed that this is the year we will conclude our combat mission in Afghanistan... America’s combat mission will be over by the end of this year. Starting next year, Afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country.  American personnel will be in an advisory role.  We will no longer patrol Afghan cities or towns, mountains or valleys.  That is a task for the Afghan people."

Never mind.

The president has now quietly authorized an expanded role for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported last night that Obama's decision is the result of "a lengthy and heated debate" between the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon.

The Pentagon won. An official told the Times that “the military pretty much got what it wanted.”

There is a little more under the last dotted link, but this is essentially it - and no, it seems I am considerably less amazed than quite a few Americans seem to be, and my reason is that, in my opinion, this just is Obama: He generally says what
he thinks is liked; and he generally does what pleases the Pentagon or the bank managers or the big corporations best.

I've noticed this since 2009, and it really is a pattern. What's the reason? Probably not a single one, but so far it worked, although it didn't make him popular.

4. Big Pharma—Crony Capitalism Out of Control

The next item is an article by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams (originally on Nader's site):

This starts as follows:

Two recent news items about the voracious drug industry should call for a supine Congress to arouse itself and initiate investigations about the pay-or-die drug prices that are far too common.

The first item—a page one story in the New York Times—was about the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation, which fifteen years ago invested $150 million in the biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals to develop a drug for this serious lung disease.

On November 19, the Foundation reported a return of $3.3 billion from that investment. Kalydeco, the drug developed with that investment, is taken daily by CF patients (who can afford it) and is priced at $300,000 a year per patient. Who can pay that price?

The second news release came from the drug industry funded Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The Center’s Joseph DiMasi asserts that the cost of developing a new prescription medicine is about $2.558 billion, significantly higher than the previous estimate of $802 million that the Center claimed in 2003.

I notice that the CF foundation got a return of over 2000% on its investment, while the drug that got developed now can be used - in principle, at least - only by those who either still make at least $ 1000 daily, or who have a family that makes that amount. (There will be more who can afford it, but in the end this is because of insurances.)

Clearly, the drug is so expensive, because those who make the drug want to get real rich real fast - and that seems to be quite generally the case, at least when one studies Big Pharma in the U.S.

As to Joseph DiMassi: He clearly is making things up, as Nader also explains, and as indeed also may be inferred from the fact that his - false - estimates grew over 4 times - more than 400% - since 2003.

There are also these two facts mentioned by Ralph Nader:

Another largely ignored aspect of the industry’s R&D is how much of it is directed to products that match, rather than improve, health outcomes—so-called “me too” drugs that are profitable, but don’t benefit patients’ health.

Also, the consistently profitable drug industry has been continually unable to restrain its deceptive promotion of drugs and inadequate disclosure of side-effects. About 100,000 Americans die every year from adverse effects of pharmaceuticals.
Yes, indeed: Nearly all of the psychiatric medicines that have been developed since 1980 were variants of Prozac, that were developed basically to keep having the possibility of describing a very expensive patented mood changer to the millions. And indeed side-effects are generally both there and systematically underreported, not studied, or simply denied, which again is possible because Big Pharma claims to be the owner of the data, and fails to publish these - and see Dr Healy's site in case you are interested in side effects.

Anyway - this is a good article.


5. The death of working-class politics: How the wealthy conquered Congress and abandoned blue-collar America

The next item is an article by Sean McElwee on Salon:

This starts as follows:
Congress is rich. The average net worth in Congress is a bit more than $6 million, while the median net worth is $1 million. To put that in context, $4 million in net worth is enough to put someone in the top 1 percent, and $660,000 is enough to put an individual in the top 10 percent. Meanwhile, the median family wealth for whites is $134,000 and for blacks is $11,000. Emerging political science research suggests that the implications of this class bias are profound and important.
Let me start by saying that I am copying, and that the last statement - about "Emerging political science research" - seems to be there because the writer is
"a research assistant".

In fact, the article seems top heavy with "research" and "opinions" of "researchers" that again seems to depend on "research" these "researchers" somehow did, but you can judge for yourself by clicking the last dotted link.

Speaking for myself, I am not much impressed by the many "researchers" whose "research" gets quoted (for one thing, while I read many times "research" and "researchers", I read nothing about the real research, while I know of none of the researchers), but the initial quote is interesting, as is the following one, by Nicholas Carnes, which in fact seems a fair conclusion for the whole previous century in the U.S.:
If millionaires were a political party, that party would make up roughly 3 percent of American families, but it would have a super-majority in the Senate, a majority in the House, a majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House. If working-class Americans were a political party, that party would have made up more than half the country since the start of the 20th century. But legislators from that party (those who last worked in blue-collar jobs before entering politics) would never have held more than 2 percent of the seats in Congress.
Since I have not researched the matter, it may be that my conclusions are not all that a researcher might want, but it seems to me that something is badly wrong in a supposed democracy (1) where almost everyone who got elected is both a college graduate (as opposed to 1 in 3 in the population) and a millionaire (who is being fed information constantly from lobbyists of all kinds), and (2) where it is an accepted matter of fact that while over half - over 25 of 50 - of the population is a blue-collar worker at most 1 in 50 of these got a seat in Congress, the last 100 years.

6. Wall Street is Taking Over America’s Pension Plans

The next and last item is an article by Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Coverage of the midterm elections has, understandably, focused on the shift in political power from Democrats toward Republicans. But behind the scenes, another major story has been playing out. Wall Street spent upwards of $300M to influence the election results. And a key part of its agenda has been a plan to move more and more of the $3 trillion dollars in unguarded government pension funds into privately managed, high-fee investments — a shift that may well constitute the biggest financial story of our generation that you’ve never heard of.

Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all recently elected governors who were previously executives and directors at firms which managed investments on behalf of state pension funds. These firms are now, consequently, in position to obtain even more of these public funds. This alone represents a huge payoff on that $300M investment made by the financial industry, and is likely to result in more pension money going into investments which offer great benefits for Wall Street but do little for the broader economy.
There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link, that ends like so:

“There is a massive transfer of power and wealth happening from the public to Wall Street, through pensions,” says a former Congressional staffer, who asked to remain anonymous because he has ties to the industry.“The more that money goes into private hands as opposed to public hands, the less that it gets invested into projects which are socially constructive.”

“It’s a policy justified entirely on people’s ignorance of what’s going on.”

Of course, you may learn more about this schema at the next crisis, when most of the pension money will have disappeared, but then indeed it will be too late.

---------------------------------
Notes
[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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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