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Nederlog


  December
2, 2014
Crisis: Snowden, Dishonesty, Killed, "Deep State", Whistleblowers, Exit Humans, Medicine
  "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.
Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for
     NSA revelations

2.
Economic dishonesty is the deadliest deficit of all
3. We Don’t Know How Many Civilians Police Shoot and Kill
     Each Year

4. Deep State? Or Shallow Focus?
5.
War on Whistleblowers: Berlin Gets Serious in the Search
     for Moles

6. Are Humans Going Extinct?
7. déjà vu…

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, December 2. It is a
crisis log.

This is a crisis log with 7 items and 7 dotted links: Item 1 is about Edward Snowden receiving an award from the Swedish parliament (that, I point out, seems remarkably silent about Julian Assange); item 2 is about the enormous
economic dishonesty in the British parliament; item 3 is about the lack of knowledge about how many men get killed each year by the U.S. police; item
4
is a logical exercise on the concept of "deep state"; item 5 is about the secrecies the German government tries to maintain; item 6 is about the possibility that human beings may be extinct real soon; and item 7 is about psychiatry and medicine, both of which are in serious trouble (from a really
scientific point of view: from a financial point of view any fraud that is profitable is a success, proportionally to its profit also, of course).

And here goes:

1. Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for NSA revelations   

The first item today is an article by Ewan MacAskill on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance.

Snowden, who is in exile in Russia, addressed the parliament by video from Moscow. In a symbolic gesture, his family and supporters said no one picked up the award on his behalf in the hope that one day he might be free to travel to Sweden to receive it in person.

His father, Lon, who was in the chamber for what was an emotional ceremony, said: “I am thankful for the support of the Right Livelihood award and the Swedish parliament. The award will remain here in expectation that some time – sooner or later – he will come to Stockholm to accept the award.”

This is nice and deserved, though it would seem to me that if the Swedish parliament can give - deserved - awards to Snowden, it also should order its
legal executives to go to London to interview Julian Assange. (But OK, maybe
that is wanting too many good things, even though this seems fairly self-evident to me.)

There is also this:

The Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, was also among the recipients. The jury citation said his award was in celebration of “building a global media organisation dedicated to responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the challenge of exposing corporate and government malpractices”.

In his address, Rusbridger said: “One of the challenges Snowden poses for us is the recognition that there is no such thing as the public interest. No such thing as one single, monolithic interest that overrides all others.”

I agree with the jury, but I think I disagree with Rusbridger. More precisely, what seems to be the case to me is this:

(1) "the public" is a very difficult concept, since something like the following seems to be involved "a public consist of
the persons concerned with something or some event that they can somehow observe and reason about, and communicate their ideas about to others" and that is very vague and varying over several dimensions;
(2) "the public interest" likewise is a very difficult concept (and more so than "the public", because interests are subjective); but
(3) none of this implies that there
"there is no such thing as the public interest": it all depends - and indeed would be clarified a lot if those who use the phrase "public interest" would also say clearly which public they mean - Englishmen? Tories? Black people? Rich people? Poor people? etc. - and whose interests they are talking about.

So, in any case, while I agree that "the public interest" is quite vague, and very probably is used in vague and contradictory ways, it seems to me it is not useless, indeed rather in the way that "the majority" is both vague and varying, but also not useless (or else democracy is useless).

2. Economic dishonesty is the deadliest deficit of all 

The next item is an article by Polly Toynbee on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (and is about Great Britain):

Never – probably – in the history of political conflict will so many be misled by so few as in Wednesday’s autumn statement. If the chamber had a polygraph and a Geiger counter to measure radioactive levels of untruth, the place would bleep so loud nothing else would be heard. On all sides barely an honest word will be spoken, including the ifs and the buts.

Yet if the public groans that the yah-booing parties are “all the same”, they would be wrong. Far from it – the parties will be lying about very different things for different reasons. Rarely have they been so far apart in true intentions.

I suppose this is true - or especially the first paragraph is: All British political parties lie, lie and lie about the economy, and it is extremely difficult to say what their political leaders really think. But this means that the whole political debate is senseless, at least as something to believe in and quote.

There is also this:
The Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Resolution Foundation and others warn that Osborne’s cuts will feel far deeper and harsher, wiping out whole departments and leaving councils with only their statutory spending.

This time, as Gavyn Davies warns in the Financial Times, there will be no quantitative easing to smooth the path. Austerity unbound awaits. Even the tactfully conservative estimate of the Office for Budget Responsibility says Osborne’s austerity wiped 1% off growth: his next dose could do even more damage. That’s why the Oxford economics professor Simon Wren-Lewis finds these plans “scarcely credible”. The only possible explanation is ideological, not economic, he says. It “represents a shrinking of the UK state that is unprecedented”.

And that is the end of the Tories: no social solidarity at all between the rich and the poor; the poor much poorer, the rich considerably richer; and for the Tories all is fine with Great Britain. (And f*ck the poor, the ill, and the uneducated.)

And there is this:
Osborne has blithely ignored them all, as inequality rises and social mobility falls.

Now he plans to take from the poor to gift the rich. The Resolution Foundation shows how his raising of the personal tax allowance and higher rate thresholds will give £35 a year to the bottom tenth and £649 to the top, with most money going to the top half. Worse still, on The Andrew Marr Show Osborne said its £7bn cost would be seized from benefits.

It ends and sums up like so:
Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems all agree that the public can’t take much honesty. The truth will kill those who try it, they fear. The Tories won’t admit to £48bn cuts, with which the Lib Dems mostly concur; Labour dare not trust voters with their more gentle plans, for fear of looking fiscally soft. And so the cycle of mistrust between people and politics ratchets up. One economist calls this the “candour deficit” – and in the end, that may be the deadliest political poison of all.
This is a decent article (though probably a bit too kind for Labour).

3. We Don’t Know How Many Civilians Police Shoot and Kill Each Year

The next item is an article by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows (and is about the United States):

Michael Brown’s death was part of a tragic and unacceptable pattern: Police officers in the United States shoot and kill civilians in shockingly high numbers. How many killings are there each year? No one can say for sure, because police departments don’t want us to know.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, in 2013 there were 461 “justifiable homicides” by police—defined as “the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.” In all but three of these reported killings, officers used firearms.

The true number of fatal police shootings is surely much higher, however, because many law enforcement agencies do not report to the FBI database. Attempts by journalists to compile more complete data by collating local news reports have resulted in estimates as high as 1,000 police killings a year. There is no way to know how many victims, like Brown, were unarmed.

By contrast, there were no fatal police shootings in Great Britain last year. Not one. In Germany, there have been eight police killings over the past two years. In Canada—a country with its own frontier ethos and no great aversion to firearms—police shootings average about a dozen a year.

There is considerably more, including the fact that one major difference between Great Britain and the U.S. are the gun laws that allow virtually anyone to buy guns in the U.S. but (1) 461 or 1000 killed is far too many, especially as (2) these are often black men or mentally ill men, while (3) it is a great shame, and a sign of the arisal of a police state in the U.S., that it is virtually impossible for civilians to find out how many men are being killed by the U.S. police "because police departments don’t want us to know".

4. Deep State? Or Shallow Focus?

The next item is an article by Lambert Strether on Naked Capitalism:

This starts as follows:
We’ve been hearing the term, or rather phrase, “deep state” rather a lot lately, so I thought I’d look into it.
And indeed he does, rather carefully also. I like the article, because I like logic, but most people do not seem to, so I will leave this mostly to you, except for three remarks.

First, Lambert Strether takes apart Peter Dale Scott's "Glossary of Open Politics". I do not know that work, but indeed this is the way to do it, although it does have one limitation: It is about what Peter Dale Scott wrote, and not about what others
who use the phrase might mean by it.

Second, indeed I have read the phrase "deep state" before, and consulted Wikipedia, that does have a lemma on the term, under the last link, that starts
as follows:
The deep state (Turkish: derin devlet) is alleged to be a group of influential anti-democratic coalitions within the Turkish political system, composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services (domestic and foreign), Turkish military, security, judiciary, and mafia. The notion of deep state is similar to that of a "state within the state". For those who believe in its existence, the political agenda of the deep state involves an allegiance to nationalism, corporatism, and state interests. Violence and other means of pressure have historically been employed in a largely covert manner to manipulate political and economic elites and ensure specific interests are met within the seemingly democratic framework of the political landscape.
For me, the search mostly ended there: I do believe in something like a "state within the state", but I agree that sociological terminology tends to be very vague, and even the term "state" may have no clear meaning, though I like Max Weber's (who also wrote the best book of sociological definitions: "Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft", in 2 volumes), though I would either add "partially" before "compulsory" or delete the whole notion of "compulsory", basically because there is also a lot propaganda involved (that the great majority tends to accept):
A state is a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory.
This is from the article "state" in Wikipedia, that continues (a bit further on) with saying:
There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state.
And this means that there certainly is no academic consensus on "deep state" or "state within the state".

Third, Lambert Strether starts from this "definition" by Scott:
deep state   A term from Turkey, [A] where it is used to refer to a closed network said to be more powerful than the public state. The deep state engages in false-flag violence, is organized by the military and intelligence apparatus, and involves their links to organized crime.
Clearly, for someone who did a great deal of logic, this is not a proper definition, and here are some reasons: (1) Turkey is either mostly irrelevant or needs more explanations; (2) "closed network" (as Strether indicates) is undefined; (3) "it is used" and "said to be" are hardly relevant and vague; (4) "more powerful" is undefined; (5) "public state" is very vague; and (6) the three criterions to single
out a deep state seem haphazard, indeed to such an extent that there may be
a deep state that does not have any of the three characteristics.

But OK - there is considerably more in the article, of which the conclusion is that
In short, I want a theory of the state that helps me to distinguish friend or ally from enemy or neutral, and helps me to pursue the values and interests I share with others like me. “Deep state” analytics focuses shallowly on cabals and cliques. “Deep state” and “overworld” have deep resonance as poetic phrases. But analytical tools must cut as well as gleam. A deeper focus is needed to sharpen our vision.
Yes, quite so.

5. War on Whistleblowers: Berlin Gets Serious in the Search for Moles

The next item is an article by Spiegel Staff on the International Edition of Der Spiegel:
This starts as follows:
Chancellor Angela Merkel's intelligence coordinator, Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, was visibly troubled as he arrived in room 2400 of Germany's parliament building. It's the last straw, Fritsche told the gathered lawmakers with a steely voice and dark expression. Because of the ongoing betrayal of official secrets, Fritsche said, the German government will be filing a criminal complaint. The situation in which classified information has repeatedly found its way into the public domain cannot be allowed to continue, he added.
O, wow! But there is also this:
The move is an attempt by the government to intimidate those who might be supplying secrets to the media, and although it may be commonplace in the United States, it is the kind of step that Germany hasn't seen in years.

Furthermore, the chancellor and her ministers have shown that they are not content to just rely on the judiciary. When it comes to the work of confidential government bodies, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has often made it difficult for the parliament to exercise its monitoring duties. Key investigative committee witnesses are often only allowed to give testimony in secret and files have been liberally redacted out of concern that their contents might end up in the newspapers.

Clearly, this is intimidation, and also clearly, at least to me, Angela Merkel's government goes much too far - in a democracy, to be sure, though that indeed gets more and more hollowed out - in making "it difficult for the parliament to exercise its monitoring duties" and in files being "liberally redacted" to avoid that they may appear in the newspapers.

As Spiegel says:

On the one hand, the government has a justifiable interest in keeping some information away from the public eye, for reasons of domestic security. On the other, though, the need for transparency and control via parliament and the press is greater than it has ever been. In response, the German government has vigorously sought to move entire policy areas behind closed doors.

That has inhibited openness and has weakened voters' faith in an executive that would seem to be unilaterally expanding secrecy -- and to be arbitrarily deciding how to deal with informants.
Yes. This clearly is a mistake and if indeed "voters' faith in an executive that would seem to be unilaterally expanding secrecy" has weakened, that is quite justified: secrecy should be minimized rather than maximized.

6. Are Humans Going Extinct?

The next item is an article by Dahr Jamail on Truthout:

It consists of two parts: An introduction to climate change and an interview with Guy McPherson, a professor emeritus of natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology.

I think both parts are interesting, but I will leave them mostly to your interests.
Here is one small part from the introduction:
We are currently in the midst of what most scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily - a pace 1,000 times greater than the "natural" or "background" extinction rate. Our current extinction event is already greatly exceeding the speed, and might eventually even exceed the intensity, of the Permian mass extinction event. The difference is that ours is human caused, isn't going to take 80,000 years, has so far lasted just a few centuries and is now gaining speed in a nonlinear fashion.
This seems to me just a matter of fact (though the details and the implications are more vague).

And this is McPherson's point of view (lifted from a lot more):

From your analysis, how long do you think humanity has before extinction occurs?

That's such a hard question, and we are such a clever species. It's clear that abrupt climate change is underway. Methane has gone exponential in the atmosphere. Paul Beckwith, climate scientist at University of Ottawa, indicates we could experience a 6-degree Celsius temperature rise in the span of a decade. He thinks we'll survive that. I can't imagine how that could be. He's a laser physicist and engineer, so I think he doesn't understand biology and requisite habitat that we need to survive.

So it's difficult for me to imagine a scenario where we'll survive even a 4-degree Celsius [above pre-industrial baseline] temperature rise, and we'll be there in the very near future, like by 2030, plus or minus. So it's hard for me to imagine we make it into the 2030s as a species.

This is a radical view, and in 2030, if I am around, I'll be 80. I do not know whether McPherson is right, but he has studied the subject for over 30 years,
and I have also seen 45 years of non-action, for the most part, on the side
of governments and parliaments, so I agree the situation is serious.

For more, click the last dotted link.


7. déjà vu…

The next and last item is an article by 1 boring old man (in fact a non-
conventional psychiatrist with a good mind):

This contains the following, under a long quotation from The Lancet:
My reason for posting it has to do with something else entirely – this statement:
    The acknowledged gold standard in terms of research is the randomised controlled trial [RCT], a method that should be applied to all types of intervention, wherever possible.
There was a time in my life when I would have automatically agreed with that statement. In a first career, I was a very medical physician involved in biological research. I was in love with any and every thing about the scientific method. That’s still true. But over the last six years as I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the domain of Randomized Controlled Trials [RCTs], my thoughts about that statement have changed dramatically – even though it seems like it ought to be correct.

The most obvious objection is the extent to which RCTs can be corrupted, manipulated, jury-rigged, etc. The scientific misbehavior in the RCTs of psychiatric drugs is staggering. I could never have imagined anything like it could even happen.
I completely agree - and then 1 boring old man seems to be unaware of professor Molenaar's work (see: DSM-5: Why the DSM-5 is TOTALLY DEAD (yes, it IS), from May 2013) that radically faults part of the RCTs, and also he doesn't know as much philosophy of science as I do, which taught me that RCTs are just one of many mathematical instruments to check scientific hypotheses; that they often are too simple; and that they much facilitate the concentration on small details that seem significant, quite like the fraud Diederik Stapel's "contributions"
to "the science of psychology", but that tend to be wholly eyewash even if completely non-fraudulent, simply because they abstract far too much from far too many possible relevancies and from other hypotheses.

But OK - psychiatry is not and never was a real science, and real science these days also seems to be something only a rather small minority of scientists do.

---------------------------------
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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