6, 2014
Crisis: British, Book Ban, Data, Torture, Spying, Chief, China, Surveillance, CBT
  "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

British workers suffer biggest real-wage fall of major G20

2. Prison book ban is unlawful, court rules
3. When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise
     we’re giving away

White House Getting Cold Feet Over Exposing CIA’s
     Torture Secrets

5. UK Tribunal Says Spying Programs Are Legal
Chief constable warns against ‘drift towards police state'
7. China expels Zhou Yongkang from Communist party
8. Surveillance law allows police to act in an unacceptable
     way, say MPs

9. Prof, "CBT is a scam and a waste of money", says leading

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, December 6. It is a crisis log.

There are 9 items with 9 dotted links: Item 1 shows that, thanks to Tory government, the British workers got poorer than almost anbody else; item 2 is about a lifting of
forbidding to send books to imprisoned family members (!!) in Great Britain (which is a bit of Tory sadism, I take it); item 3 is by Ben Goldacre on data-mining, but I doubt he knows enough and is honest; item 4 shows the White House does not want to see the Senate's report on torture being published; item 5 is an odd item on an odd British court that said that spying on everyone is "not necessarily illegal"; item 6 is about a warning by a leading policeman that Great Britain is drifting towards a police state; item 7 is about a very powerful Chinese who got accused of serious corruption; item 8 is about surveillance in Great Britain; and item 9 is medical and about Cognitive Behavorial Therapy, which indeed is just fraudulent bullshit.

And here goes:

1. British workers suffer biggest real-wage fall of major G20 countries 

The first item today is an article by Angela Monagahn and Alberto Nardelli on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (and shows the real interest of the Tories):

British workers suffered the biggest drop in real wages of all major G20 countries in the three years to 2013, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Labour said the report underlined why the government has been unable to get the deficit down. Chris Leslie the shadow Treasury chief secretary said: “Not only are working people worse off under the Tories, we’re also doing worse than all other G20 economies. On average working people are now £1600 a year worse off since 2010.

“As the Autumn Statement showed, and these figures help confirm, the continuing squeeze on living standards is leading to a shortfall in tax revenues. And this is a key reason why George Osborne has broken his promise to balance the books.”

The ILO report reveals that wages in the UK have fallen more than in Italy. The biggest fall in UK wages adjusted for inflation came in 2011, when they fell by 3.5%. In Italy, which was one of the countries hit hardest by the eurozone crisis, real pay fell by “only” 1.9%.

There is a lot more in the article, including graphics, that I recommend you to read, but the general result is as summarized:

Only Greece did worse for the non-rich than Great Britain, but then Great Britain lacks a written constitution and has the Tories leading them (with support by the Lib Dems), who basically want to shift back Britain to the glorious days of the 1920ies, when the poor starved and the rich never had it better (until 1929), and who have succeeded in going a lot in that direction.

2. Prison book ban is unlawful, court rules 

The next item is an article by Alan Travis on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The blanket ban on sending books to prisoners in England and Wales has been declared unlawful by the high court.

Mr Justice Collins has quashed the ban imposed by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, and ordered him to amend his policy on what can be sent to prisoners.

In his ruling, the judge said that it was strange to treat books as a privilege when they could be essential to a prisoner’s rehabilitation.

“A book may not only be one which a prisoner may want to read but may be very useful or indeed necessary as part of a rehabilitation process,” he said.

The judge also criticised Grayling’s open letter responding to a protest by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, with the “somewhat misleading” impression that prisoners could order unlimited books from Amazon via the prison shop.

I say. I did not know this, but I am very glad - and since so few seem to dare to say so and I got one of the best psychology M.A.'s ever awarded, let me say that in my eyes a Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, who can do this, must be a sadist, pure and simple (which does not amaze me at all, when considering Tory politicians: in fact, I would not be amazed at all to find that most are, since this also partially explains their policies).

Of course, now he denies that he ever intended to do so, although a year ago it was instituted to end the "perks and privileges" of prisoners; and now he says that no, no, no it was only as a "conduit for smuggling drugs and extremist materials" while prisoners could buy books (not telling that they may earn as little as 2 pounds 50 a week, nor telling that everything gets searched anyway).

It's bullshit and baloney, but at least a judge has opposed it, on good grounds also: Prisons do not exist to punish only, but also to resocialize their inmates, and for this books are needed.

3. When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away

The next item is an article by Ben Goldacre on The Guardian:

I should start by saying that I do not trust Goldacre, who is or was Wessely's assistant or something similar, and who is a psychiatric pseudoscientist [2], basically because everything I read from him seems to try to have it both ways: he wants to further his career and he wants to be known as a critic.

This item is another example. It starts as follows:

It’s easy to be worried about people simply spying on your confidential data. iCloud and Google+ have your intimate photos; Transport for London knows where your travelcard has been; Yahoo holds every email you’ve ever written. We trust these people to respect our privacy, and to be secure. Often they fail: celebrity photos are stolen; emails are shared with spies; the confessional app Whisper is caught tracking the location of users.

But these are straightforward failures of security. At the same time, something much more interesting has been happening. Information we have happily shared in public is increasingly being used in ways that make us queasy, because our intuitions about security and privacy have failed to keep up with technology. Nuggets of personal information that seem trivial, individually, can now be aggregated, indexed and processed. When this happens, simple pieces of computer code can produce insights and intrusions that creep us out, or even do us harm. But most of us haven’t noticed yet: for a lack of nerd skills, we are exposing ourselves.

The first paragraph is more or less OK - but it fails to mention the NSA, the GCHQ, and the Five Eyes, each of which are tax-paid but extremely secretive spying agencies whose job it is supposed to be to know everything about anyone, regardless how and regardless of almost any laws and also nearly completely in secret. But this does not seem to worry Ben Goldacre.

The second paragraph starts with a falsity: These are not "
straightforward failures of security", for they are neither "straightforward" (try reading the legalese of Adobe or Google!) nor are they "failures of security": In fact, everything is done so that ordinary users do not know what their security is, and do not know how much of their data is being stolen.

The rest of the paragraph also is a - how shall I put it, noting the internet dates back no less than 25 years - a quite strange and innocent seeming review of the - exceedingly dishonest and devious - practices of data-mining.

There is considerably more, but none of it gets really to the point, and nowhere the billions upon billions of private data and private photographs that the NSA and the GCHQ download is even mentioned.

It ends like this:

And yet to most of us, this entire world is opaque, like a series of black boxes into which we entrust our money, our privacy and everything else we might hope to have under lock and key. We have no clear sight into this world, and we have few sound intuitions into what is safe and what is flimsy – let alone what is ethical and what is creepy. We are left operating on blind, ignorant, misplaced trust; meanwhile, all around us, without our even noticing, choices are being made.

O Lordie Lord: We are stupid, we aren't nerds, we don't know, we don't see - and yes this is all true for the great majority of users, but not for some, and it is these - Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras, Binney, the ACLU, the EFF - that somebody who really had to say something useful should have consulted.

So I must suppose this is yet another field the pseudoscientific shrink wants to get to be a public spokesman about.

4. White House Getting Cold Feet Over Exposing CIA’s Torture Secrets

The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

After seven months of promising to release a report exposing CIA torture of terror suspects, the Obama administration Friday reportedly sent Secretary of State John Kerry to ask Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to consider holding off “because a lot is going on in the world.”

The White House has been negotiating with Feinstein since April over extensive CIA-requested redactions before making public a 450-page summary of the committee’s exhaustive investigation into CIA detention and interrogation during the Bush/Cheney years.

But the intelligence community never wanted its dirty secrets revealed. I suggested as early as six weeks ago that administration officials, doing the CIA’s bidding, were stalling negotiations until Republicans took over the chamber and killed the report themselves.

Precisely. In fact:
The net effect of a delay would be to wrest the decision from Feinstein’s hands and give it to incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), who has called the report a “flawed and biased” piece of fiction.
Also, Froomkin has this to say on Obama

Friday’s news was reminiscent of a previous Obama reversal, in the early days of his presidency. Back in April 2009, Obama had said he would not block the court-ordered release of photographs depicting the abuse of detainees held by U.S. authorities abroad. Then he changed his mind.

“[T]he most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in danger,” Obama announced a few weeks later.

Precisely - and note the total bullshit Obama appealed to: If "anti-American opinion" and putting "our troops in danger" are valid arguments to not show the sickening abuse of the American troops, then nothing should ever be shown, and the free press should be completely muzzled, and the CIA should be free, uncontrolled and undocumented to torture whoever they please to whatever extent.

In fact, Froomkin thought likewise, in 2009:
I wrote at the time that Obama had at that point officially joined the Bush-Cheney cover-up of torture.
Yes, indeed. And here is Greenwald:

Back at the time, Glenn Greenwald had this to say:

Think about what Obama’s rationale would justify. Obama’s claim — that release of the photographs “would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger” — means we should conceal or even outright lie about all the bad things we do that might reflect poorly on us.


Anyway, what conclusions to draw? I think the Senate's Report on Torture will not see the light of day, unless Senator Udall publishes it, or somebody leaks it.

5. UK Tribunal Says Spying Programs Are Legal

The next item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:
This starts as follows (and shows something about the British courts that I have long noticed about the Dutch courts: These days, and the last 30 years, at least, the courts are not at all independent, but they are there to help those in power, and usually do so [3]):

A panel of judges in the U.K. has ruled that bulk surveillance programs don’t necessarily violate the human rights of British citizens.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an independent judicial body set up to hear public complaints about secret intelligence programs, reviewed secret British government intelligence- gathering exposed by documents leaked by Edward Snowden.  A coalition of civil and human rights groups had filed a complaint with the tribunal over a program run by the British intelligence agency GCHQ called TEMPORA, which involves tapping and storing vast amounts of internet data from transatlantic fibre-optic cables. The complaint also included the foreign intelligence-sharing arrangements that gave British spies access to programs like the National Security Agency’s internet data-collection program PRISM.

Such surveillance violated privacy and free expression rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, the groups argued.

But the tribunal wrote that “the Snowden revelations in particular have led to the impression…that the law permits the intelligence services carte blanche to do what they will. We are satisfied that this is not the case.”

Top start with, in case you trust the law, you should read note [3], about how the Dutch drugs laws have been used for 30 years now to enrich the illegal drugs dealers; the Dutch mayors or their bureaucrats; and the Dutch housing business  in a completely illegal way that all the time has been shielded by all Dutch judges, who - for 30 years - did not find the courage, the principle, or the legal arguments to protest dealing quasi-legally and extremely profitably in illegal drugs. None of them. Ever. And precisely as the Dutch Supreme Court of 1940: They sacked their Jewish president, and all collaborated, collaborated, collaborated, until 1945, since when they collaborated, collaborated and collaborated with the new British and Canadian forces - and none of the judges was ever punished for anything or indeed had to answer to any court: They worked on, as judges.

Next to what this "panel of judges" concluded:

A panel of judges in the U.K. has ruled that bulk surveillance programs don’t necessarily violate the human rights of British citizens.

First, they are clearly bullshitting and lying, and besides: "don’t necessarily violate" is saying almost nothing other than it is their "impression" that the GCHQ can take your naked pictures and your private mails, simply because they want to (and may, secretly of course, blackmail you with them, somehow).

Second, consider what they said:

But the tribunal wrote that “the Snowden revelations in particular have led to the impression…that the law permits the intelligence services carte blanche to do what they will. We are satisfied that this is not the case.”

Who cares for whatever "impression" anyone got? And what are the grounds for being "satisfied that "the intelligence services have carte blanche to do what they will" is not the case? Almost everyone knows hardly anything about what the GCHQ does.

Anyway - here is the reaction of Privacy International:
“The idea that previously secret documents, signposting other still secret documents, can justify this scale of intrusion is just not good enough, and not what society should accept from a democracy based on the rule of law,” said Eric King, director of Privacy International, in a statement.
Precisely. (And yes: the courts these days are normally the handmaidens of the government, very much rather than independent servants of the public interest - which last term is used correctly and justifiedly here: ordinary people have the right to demand justice, but can't get it anymore, very often, because the courts ceased to work for them.)

6. Chief constable warns against ‘drift towards police state'

The next item is an article by Vikram Dodd on The Guardian:
This starts as follows

The battle against extremism could lead to a “drift towards a police state” in which officers are turned into “thought police”, one of Britain’s most senior chief constables has warned.

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester, said police were being left to decide what is acceptable free speech as the efforts against radicalisation and a severe threat of terrorist attack intensify.

It is politicians, academics and others in civil society who have to define what counts as extremist ideas, he says.

Fahy serves as chief constable of Greater Manchester police and also has national counter-terrorism roles. He is vice-chair of the police’s terrorism committee and national lead on Prevent, the counter radicalisation strategy.

He stressed he supported new counter-terrorism measures unveiled by the government last week, including bans on alleged extremist speakers from colleges.

I say. I agree Great Britain is drifting towards a police state, but I do not know what to think of Fahy, firstly because he "has national counter-terrorism roles" and secondly because he agrees with the government on banning "alleged extremist speakers from colleges" - and I note both the "alleged" and the implied attempt to stifle all rational debate by shutting up anyone who is "alleged" to have "radical" opinions. (NB: This is about debates, and not about actions.)

7. China expels Zhou Yongkang from Communist party

The next item is an article by Jonathan Kalman on The Guardian:
As a rule, I do not have much on China, mostly because I do not speak the language, never visited the country, and do not like propaganda, but this is an interesting item, that starts as follows:

China’s Communist party expelled its former security tsar, Zhou Yongkang, months after placing him under investigation for “serious disciplinary violations,” the state newswire Xinhua reported just after midnight on Saturday, moving forward China’s highest-level corruption case in recent history.

Members of the standing committee of the politburo, the country’s highest governing body, had decided on Friday to revoke Zhou’s party membership and transfer his case and “relevant clues” to China’s judicial authorities “to deal with them in accordance with the law,” the newswire said.

Chinese authorities placed Zhou under formal arrest early Saturday morning to investigate his suspected crimes, it added.

Zhou, 72, is China’s highest-level official to be prosecuted since the Gang of Four were tried in 1980 for overseeing atrocities during the Cultural Revolution. He is the most senior figure in the party’s history to be investigated for corruption.

So this is important. What is he accused of? This:

“Upon investigation, Zhou Yongkang seriously violated the party’s political, organisational, and confidential discipline,” Xinhua said.

“He used his position to give illegal benefits to many people, and took bribes directly and via his family members; abused his position to help his family members, mistresses and friends gain huge profits through business activities at the cost of state assets; leaked party and state secrets; severely breached regulations of corruption by taking a great amount of assets belonging to other people; committed adultery with a number of women, and traded money and power for sexual advantages.”

Which is to say that he was sexually, financially, and personally quite corrupt.
I suppose I believe this - and I don't know Chinese, but I know a lot about communism and have read a fair amount about China - though I also have a question that will not be answered: How much of the above is true for the other leading members of the Chinese Communist Party?

I really do not know - I merely ask.

Zhou Yongkang hasn't been seen in public since October 2013, and the same holds for many of his family members:
According to a New York Times investigation in April, authorities also targeted Zhou’s “wife, a son, a brother, a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law and the son’s father-in-law”, all of whom had apparently used Zhou’s political clout for financial gain. Many were in effect disappeared – held at secret locations for months, incommunicado and without trial.
Incidentally:I disagree with disappearing people, but I know that also seems the real if not the publicly praised aim of Bush's and Obama's governemental policies with the NSA.

8. Surveillance law allows police to act in an unacceptable way, say MPs

The next item is an article by Alan Travis on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Britain’s surveillance laws, which have recently been used by the police to seize journalists’s phone records in the Plebgate and Huhne cases, are “not fit for purpose” and need urgent reform, a Commons inquiry has found.

The Commons home affairs select committee says that the level of secrecy surrounding use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) allows the police to “engage in acts which would be unacceptable in a democracy”.

The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said the surveillance law was not fit for purpose: “Using Ripa to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistleblowers from coming forward.”

I agree with what Vaz said. There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but none that leads to any further conclusion.

Prof, "CBT is a scam and a waste of money", says leading psychologist

The last item today is an article by Jenny Hope that I found on dr. Speedy's site but that originated on the Daily Mail - and yes, this is again a piece on medicine, and how bad it has gotten to be since the 1980ies:
This ends as follows, with a conclusion I know (as a then student of psychology)
from the 1980ies (since when I got an excellent M.A. in it):
The NHS has been advised that CBT may be offered to patients with a range of conditions by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the guideline body.
It is free on the NHS after referral by a GP but not available in all areas and there can be long waiting lists.
The cost of private therapy sessions varies, but it is usually £40 - £100 a session.
Many mental health groups welcome the shift in emphasis in recent years away from medication towards personalised therapy.
But Mr James says research shows CBT is no more effective than placebo in treating anxiety or depression
He says proponents have ‘mis-sold’ the treatment to policymakers and the public, who are wasting their time.
Yes, quite so. I saw the initial stages of this in the late 1980ies, and already then said it was clear bullshit and nonsense, designed to defraud rather than to help the public, and this merely supports this: With "typically 5 tot 20 sessions" this means from £200 - £2000 pounds per therapist per client: Who would not defraud his patients, with support of the NICE and his professional organizations?

In any case, most do, for it gives them excellent incomes (and in Holland most therapists learned and accepted that "everyone knows that truth does not exist", for that was the main lesson all students learned from 1978-2002, at least).

[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.)

[2] Wessely is the fraud who insisted since 1988 that everyone with M.E. is not ill but is a psychiatric patient; Goldacre is or was his assistant. For much more on Wessely see the DSM-5 index. In case you do not think psychiatry is a pseudoscience, you should try to read DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"; in case you lack a good understanding of scientific methodology you should read  DSM-5: Intro 'six questions': Scientific Realism versusPostmodernism; while in case you think you know something about psychiatry you ought to read Thomas Szasz's ideas about psychiatry - and yes, I know that is a lot of reading, but I did a much greater lot of studying the questions, and my overall judgment is plain and simple: psychiatry is not a science, but a pseudoscience, and whoever is sane enough not to be forcibly committed should avoid seeing psychiatrists, and try to make do with psychologists, who also do not know much but have at least two enormous advantages: They tend to not believe the fables psychiatry believe, and they are not allowed to prescribe pills, which is very much in your interests as a patient.
And in case you doubt this: Check out dr Healy's site.

[3] The best evidence is still the Dutch courts: No Dutch judge ever said anything in criticism of the now 30 years old extremely common practice by which Dutch mayors give Dutch illegal drugsdealers the personal privilege to deal marijuana and hashish - both illegal since 50 years - from "coffeeshops".

The only reason I have been able to think of as to why this practice has been silently in force for 30 years now is that (1) the turnover in just marijuana and hashish is at least 10 billion dollars or euros a year (numbers from 1995!), while (2) the mayors or their legal bureaucrats get a nice percentage of this, say 5% (which is easily paid by the clients of the coffeeshops).

Thus in Holland everybody profits:The people can get good and cheap marijuana and hashish without any trouble; the drugsdealers can sell their illegal drugs without any risk and without paying any taxes; they can invest their enormous and quite illegal profits in housing; the mayors and/or their legal bureaucrats get a lot richer - and who would complain other than exceptionally honest and brave persons who found out that the mayor gave some criminals permission to deal from the bottom floor of his or her house? (And clearly such persons are so rare in Holland that they do not deserve any answer of any official Dutch narko-nazistic person, and will not get any for 25 years. Which is what has happened. But the Dutch don't care.)

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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