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Nederlog


  December
3, 2014
Crisis: Sen. Sanders, Algorithms, Torture, Hot, Intellectuals, Bribery, Doctors, 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.
To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches
     Progressive Economic Vision

2.
'You're the bomb!' Are you at risk from the
     anti-terrorism algorithms?

3. 12 Things to Keep in Mind When You Read the Torture
     Report

4. 2014 on track to be England's hottest year in over three
     centuries

5.
Chomsky: Elites Have Forced America into a National
     Psychosis to Keep Us Embroiled in Imperial Wars

6. Study: Corporate Bribery and Corruption Grease the
     Gears of Global Capitalism

7. Why doctors fail
8. a keeper…

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 3. It is a
crisis log.

There are 8 items with 9 dotted links: Item 1 is an excellent piece on Senator Sanders' vision; item 2 is about the risks all people run because of the NSA and the GCHQ (i.e. you may get on a terrorist list merely because a friend or a friend of a friend might have written something the GCHQ or the NSA have as search terms); item 3 is about "the torture report" of the U.S. Senate; item 4 is about the fact that we had five of the hottest years in the last 300 years in the previous 25 years; item 5 is an article of Chomsky's on ordinary intellectuals; item 6 is about corporate bribery: there is a lot of it, and it generally is started by the high ups (who also profit); item 7 is a conventional story on why doctors fail, with my own reasons; and item 8 is on the same theme, but written by one of the few good medical doctors I know of, and with an additional dotted link by me.

Also, I should say that I have uploaded parts 27, 28 and 29 of my autobio again, with a few small corrections.

And here goes:

1. To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision    

The first item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced his vision for a progressive economic agenda that he says could restore shared prosperity, reinvigorate the middle class, and mitigate a host of social crises that stem from the current system that has created great wealth for a select few while systematically eroding the quality of life for the many.

Detailing twelve economic areas that need immediate attention and major overhauls, Sanders indicated his plan is  driven by the neeed to re-establish the status of the middle class as the key indicator of overall economic health.

"The American people must make a fundamental decision," Sanders said. "Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all?"

Here is Sanders' 12 point plan, as summarized by Jon Queally:
  1. Invest in our crumbling infrastructure with a major program to create jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools.
  2. Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels to create jobs while beginning to reverse global warming and make the planet habitable for future generations.
  3. Develop new economic models to support workers in the United States instead of giving tax breaks to corporations which ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
  4. Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain for higher wages and benefits.
  5. Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty.
  6. Provide equal pay for women workers who now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.
  7. Reform trade policies that have shuttered more than 60,000 factories and cost more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.
  8. Make college affordable and provide affordable child care to restore America’s competitive edge compared to other nations.
  9. Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product, over $9.8 trillion. They underwrite more than half the mortgages in the country and issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards.
  10. Join the rest of the industrialized world with a Medicare-for-all health care system that provides better care at less cost.
  11. Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.
  12. Reform the tax code based on wage earners’ ability to pay and eliminate loopholes that let profitable corporations stash profits overseas and pay no U.S. federal income taxes.
Well... I certainly support it. Whether it will make it, or whether Senator Sanders will become the next president I don't know, and indeed doubt, if things continue until 2016 roughly as they have since 2001, which I don't know, but this is a good plan.

Indeed he agrees himself that it is doubtful:
Such an ambitious plan won't be easily accomplished, Sanders acknowledged and said that the largest obstacle would be whether or not Americans can answer this question: "Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy?"
Well... I agree, but it could have been formulated differently: "Is the American people prepared to have fair agreements for most, or do they want to continue to be exploited and fleeced by the few rich?" - but yes, this is mostly a difference in stresses and not in principle.

Here is Senator Sanders outlining his plan in the senate:

Anyway... this is definitely good news, because it is a coherent, sensible and progressive plan, that is outlined by a senator, and that also is not really radical: Nothing that Senator Sanders desires is incompatible with capitalism.

2. 'You're the bomb!' Are you at risk from the anti-terrorism algorithms? 

The next item is an article by James Ball on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Should our future robot overlords decide to write a history of how they overcame their human masters, late 2014 will be a key date in the timeline. Last week, an official report from the parliamentary intelligence and security committee handed over responsibility for the UK’s fight against terrorism, or at least part of it, to Facebook’s algorithms – the automated scripts that (among other things) look at your posts and your networks to suggest content you will like, people you might know and things you might buy.

Assessing the intelligence failures that led to the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby at the hands of two fanatics, the committee absolved MI5 of responsibility, in part because the agency was tracking more than 2,000 possible terrorists at the time – far more than mere humans could be expected to follow. Instead, they placed a share of the blame on Facebook – which busily tracks its one billion users on a regular basis – for not passing on warnings picked up by algorithms the company uses to remove obscene and extreme content from its site. David Cameron agreed, and promised new laws, so it’s possible that soon Google, Facebook and co won’t just be scanning your messages to sell you stuff – they will be checking you are not plotting the downfall of western civilisation too.

In part, this is about the lies and idiocies of Sir Malcolm Rifkind, that were dealt with the day before yesterday in Nederlog, and in part this is about the question in the title.

There is quite a lot of speculation in the article, and the answer is obviously:
Yes, of course (though it depends on many things, but since the friends of your friends also are searched, there is a considerable chance that you may be, even if you really did nothing wrong, not even according to the NSA or GCHQ).

3. 12 Things to Keep in Mind When You Read the Torture Report

The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report will be released “in a matter of days,” a committee staffer tells The Intercept. The report, a review of brutal CIA interrogation methods during the presidency of George W. Bush, has been the subject of a contentious back-and-forth, with U.S. intelligence agencies and the White House on one side pushing for mass redactions in the name of national security and committee staffers on the other arguing that the proposed redactions render the report unintelligible.

Should something emerge, here are some important caveats to keep in mind:

As for the rest: Here are the 12 points Dan Froomkin lists, but for the supporting and clarifying text of each of the points you must click the last dotted link:
1) You’re not actually reading the torture report.
2) The CIA got to cut out parts.
3) Senate Democrats had their backs to the wall.
4) The investigation was extremely narrow in its focus.
5) The investigation didn’t examine who gave the CIA its
      orders, or
why.
6) Torture was hardly limited to the CIA.
7) Senate investigators conducted no interviews of torture
     victims.

8) Senate investigators conducted no interviews of CIA
     officials.

9) In fact, Senate investigators conducted no interviews at
     all.

10) Bush and Cheney have acknowledged their roles in the
      program.

11) The report’s conclusion that torture didn’t do any good
       is a big deal.

12) No one has been held accountable.
The points all make sense and should be read in full.

4. 2014 on track to be England's hottest year in over three centuries 

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

This starts as follows:

2014 is set to be England’s hottest year in over 350 years, according to the world’s longest continuous record, with climate change at least partly to blame. The whole world has had a warm year and global data, released later on Wednesday, is likely to indicate a new record.

Higher temperatures cause more evaporation and more rain, and 2014 began with England’s wettest winter in over 250 years, leading to widespread flooding. Unless December turns unusually cold, 2014 will beat 1995, 2006, 1990 and 2011 as the warmest year on record. The average temperature in 2014 so far is almost 11.5C, about 1.5C higher than the long-term average.

There is quite a bit more under the last dotted link, but the above is the gist - and note that the previous warmest years were 1995, 2006, 1990 and 2011: Together with 2014 that is 5 years in the last 25 years.

5. Chomsky: Elites Have Forced America into a National Psychosis to Keep Us Embroiled in Imperial Wars

The next item is an article by Noam Chomsky on AlterNet:
This contains the following (and Moore is Barrington Moore, Jr (<- Wikipedia))

Moore offers the following summary of the "predominant voice of America at home and abroad" - an ideology that expresses the needs of the American socioeconomic elite, that is propounded with various gradations of subtlety by many American intellectuals, and that gains substantial adherence on the part of the majority that has obtained "some share in the affluent society":

"You may protest in words as much as you like. There is but one condition attached to the freedom we would very much like to encourage: Your protests may be as loud as possible as long as they remain ineffective. ... Any attempt by you to remove your oppressors by force is a threat to civilized society and the democratic process. ... As you resort to force, we will, if need be, wipe you from the face of the earth by the measured response that rains down flame from the skies."

There is a considerable amount more, and it is good, but also from 1970, originally.

As to the intellectuals - those who got an M.A. or M.Sc. or more - I must say that my communist father (who was very intelligent but not highly educated) had them mostly quite right, as I learned myself in the 1980ies in the University of Amsterdam, from which I was removed, as the only Dutch student since WW II, briefly before taking my M.A., and namely - they really wanted it to be as painful and unfair as they could make it! - as "a fascist terrorist" by a bunch of sick, degenerate, lazy, profiteering and utterly incompetent academic quasi- intellectuals:

You cannot trust any intellectual, and at most 1 in a 100 is honest (and most of these will also sell out if it pays them well).

Then again, I agree real intellectuals are much needed, but I'd also argue that real intellectuals these days are rare, and are surrounded on all sides by fake "intellectuals
", who did the same degree, which they could do because the degree wasn't difficult at all, but who tend to have IQs under 130 and to be in fact, if not verbally, very docile and subservient to whoever is their boss or manager.

Anyway - the paper is worth reading in full.

6. Study: Corporate Bribery and Corruption Grease the Gears of Global Capitalism

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Large multinational corporations are behind the majority of documented bribes worldwide, with most payers and takers hailing from rich nations, according to a study released Tuesday by the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The report, which evaluated data obtained from 427 bribery offense cases spanning the past 15 years, found that 57 percent of all bribes examined involved corporate efforts to obtain public contracts—mostly in western, more developed states. Customs and defense officials accounted for a significant proportion of bribe recipients, at 11% and 6% respectively.

According to the study, the average bribe amounts to 10.9% of the total value of the transaction, with the average payout calculated at nearly $14 million for the cases reviewed.

Besides, there is this:
When it comes to corporate bribes, the analysis found that these instances are generally not committed by lone low-ranking individuals. According to the report, 53 percent of known bribery cases directly involved high-level corporate managers or CEOs. “Most international bribes are paid by large companies, usually with the knowledge of senior management,” the study states.
And also this:
However, the report states that, due to the complex and secretive nature of global corruption, its findings are just "the tip of the iceberg."
7. Why doctors fail

The next item is an article by Atul Gawanda (an M.D. and professor at Harvard who is from India):

I read it all through, but it is a conventional story, that is also mostly about a problem his son had.

As far as I am concerned - and I am a psychologist of 64 who is ill since he was 28 - here are the main reasons why doctors fail:
  • they are far more arrogant than they have a right to
  • they cannot admit that they do not know something
  • they are clever at techniques, and very, very bad at honesty
  • they pretend a whole lot that they simply cannot do
  • they earn too much also in extra payments from Big Pharma
  • the science they rely on has lately much diminished (through major corruptions started by Big Pharma)
  • they are mostly incapable to treat non-standard things well (or even politely)
I have seen far more medical doctors than most, simply because I and my ex-wife were both ill and nobody knew what it was, and the above list of points covers at least 99 in 100 medical doctors I've seen - and I've also lived several
years with medical students on the same floor in a student-flat; I am a psychologist with one of the best M.A.s ever handed out; and I have been
badly frauded by quite a few medical doctors, though I also have met several
who were honest, competent and intelligent, but again not more than 5 in a 100 at most.


8. a keeper…

The next and last item is an article by 1 boring old man (in fact: a mostly pensioned psychiatrist with a good mind):
This is mainly cited because it contains the following:
During all those years, I didn’t like the prominence of pharmaceutical influence everywhere, but may have mistakenly thought it was like the Grand Rounds I mentioned – desperation financing. It was that, but so much more. It was ghost writing, jury-rigged Clinical Trial reporting, Speaker’s Bureaus, payola, etc. It wasn’t just money flowing to institutions, it was going directly into the pockets of academic physicians and other KOLs. Industry was able to buy prominent doctors with a small fraction of the money they made by having them on board.
(...)
I think of psychiatry as the worst offender, but that may only be because I know more about what went on. But when I look at my television set or hear the MRI machines whirring in the background when I go in a hospital, I suspect it’s all over Medicine proper too [it being outside influences pushing the profitability of Medicine wherever it can be pushed in whatever way it can be pushed]. And we can’t operate on a bad apples theory. Too many physicians in high places were [are] on board [just look at PROPUBLICA’s Dollars for Docs or the Sunshine Act site]. We have to swallow our disillusionment and assume that enforcable [and enforced] stops will be required to keep it
from continuing and/or recurring [same
it]. We have now a whole generation of physicians who’ve grown up in this climate, with too many participating, and they need special attention.
In brief: It is a mess in medicine, and it is mostly a mess because most doctors have capitulated to the power of money, mostly from Big Pharma. Here is one from many references I could give, from my own writings about the DSM-5:
The last article ends as follows:
It is morally disgusting, it is fraudulent, it is bullshit, it is pseudoscience, but it pays really well, and therefore it exists and will continue to exist so long as medical doctors are allowed to profit from the drugs or therapies they prescribe to patients, and as long as pharmaceutical companies are allowed to massage doctors with "deep massages", "pheasant hunting", and what not, so as to corrupt them.
But that is modern medicine, according to most medical people so far as I can tell: A fine excuse to make them rich, at the cost of their naive and ignorant patients - and yes, this is worse in the USA than elsewhere, but it is no good in England or Europe either.

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