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Nederlog


  December
17, 2014
Crisis: Torture*2, Food, Wall Street, Sanders, CIA, Criminals
  "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.
 U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers,
      But None to Their Victims

 2.
We are in perpetual denial about our food, but meat is
      bad news

 3.
Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited
     a broken Democratic caucus

 4. Sanders Has a Couple More Good Ideas: Break Up Big
      Banks, Expand Social Security

 5. 'Do No Harm': Doctors Blast Medical Professionals for
      Role In CIA Torture Regime

 6.
The National Security State as a Criminal Enterprise
 7. 
Americans Polled On Torture & The Result Devastates

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 17. It is a crisis log.

There are 7 items and 8 dotted links: Item 1 is Glenn Greenwald on the fact that more than half of the Americans are for torture, with an extra dotted link thrown in to an article by Peter Maass; item 2 is on a George Monbiot article; item 3 is on what caused the bankmanagers' new bill; item 4 is about Senator Sanders, whom I like (more than not); item 5 is about a justified reaction to the torture report; item 6 is a good article on the fact that by now the American government clearly is using criminal means; and item 7 outlines the poll that showed more than half of the Americans want people tortured (well, subjected to "enhanced interrogations", or rather: EIT-ed, really: that's what the American majority wants done, to others, to be sure).

And here goes:

1. U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, But None to Their Victims

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.

Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that - despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.

Yes, that is all true, and it also is repeated several times, with additional good points, in the rest of the article. To start with, here is the main finding from the news poll that is given in the last above link:
Q: All in all, do you think the CIA's treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?
Justified: 59%. Unjustified: 31%. No opinion: 9%
I am sure Glenn Greenwald is right that one important factor that causes this sort
of answer (from a 1000 randomly picked phone numbers) is that very few Americans have seen or heard any extensive decent interview with people who have been tortured.

Then again, also taking into account the to me incredible but quite real stupidity and ignorance of many Americans - see e.g. my
Should I've been a comedian? (over 4 years old) if you don't believe this: most links work - it still seems quite disappointing to me that almost 6 out of 10 Americans vote for torture, which they could and should know is completely forbiddden in law, and which the Senate Committee also showed to have not worked.

And in case you do not know much about the torture the Americans did: Here is another link from The Intercept, by Peter Maass, that is not long and ends with a list of documents:
In any case, the only good thing I can see from this reaction to torture of the great American public is that there should be no objection to publishing all of the 6000 pages of the Senate Committee's report. Also see item 7 below.

2. We are in perpetual denial about our food, but meat is bad news 

The next item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

What can you say about a society whose food production must be hidden from public view? In which the factory farms and slaughterhouses supplying much of our diet must be guarded like arsenals to prevent us from seeing what happens there? We conspire in this concealment: we don’t want to know. We deceive ourselves so effectively that much of the time we barely notice that we are eating animals, even during once-rare feasts, such as Christmas, which are now scarcely distinguished from the rest of the year.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link. (For what it is worth: I do not think that not eating meat will save the planet, although I agree that if you
don't you destroy less nature.)

3. Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus

The next item is an article by David Dayen on Salon:
This starts as follows:

As the CRomnibus becomes law, many rank-and-file liberals have wondered how Democrats, needing to reconnect with the public after another midterm debacle, could in their first order of business help roll back a key Wall Street reform. The answer lies in the nature of this rollback, along with the real lack of communication between lawmakers ostensibly on the same side.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that the CRomnibus was a horrible bill even without weakening Dodd-Frank. It was loaded with favors to wealthy and well-connected special interests, and its very existence, as a must-pass, short-term budget bill larded up with unrelated policy riders that will last forever, sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

The rest of the article is given to a good overview of what did lead up to this particular decision to help the banks and the bankmanagers.

4. Sanders Has a Couple More Good Ideas: Break Up Big Banks, Expand Social Security

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Promising to put forth and lobby on behalf of two bold progressive policy ideas in the months ahead, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has announced his intention to push for new pieces of legislation in the next session, one of which would break up the nation's largest Wall Street banks and another that would expand the Social Security program for all Americans.
Here is some more on the first idea:

“Over the last several days, it has become abundantly clear that Congress does not regulate Wall Street but Wall Street regulates Congress," Sanders said. "If Wall Street lobbyists can literally write a provision into law that will allow too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets that nearly destroyed our economy just a few years ago, it should be obvious to all that their incredible economic and political power is a huge danger to our economy and our way of life."

Sanders said, "Enough is enough.... If Congress cannot regulate Wall Street, there is just one alternative.  It is time to break these too-big-to-fail banks up so that they can never again destroy the jobs, homes, and life savings of the American people."

"At the beginning of the new Congress," he announced, "I will be introducing legislation that will break these behemoth banks up once and for all. If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  I look forward to working with both progressive and conservative senators who have the courage to stand up to Wall Street and protect the working families of this country."

Yes indeed - and what was said in the first paragraph is quite true, and to me it also shows that the U.S. is only formally "a democracy", indeed because its epresentatives are mostly millionaires who for the most part act and desire to act for the banks, and not for the ordinary people, whom they also do not belong to.

There are some who oppose this, and Sanders is one of them, but it really is a fairly small minority - in Congress, to be sure, for their opinions are rather popular, but then "the people" are rarely heard on the mass media, although they are played and deceived to the utmost.

And this is Sanders on social security:
"At a time when prescription drug prices are skyrocketing and one-third of all seniors depend on Social Security for a least 90 percent of their income, we should not be cutting Social Security, we should be expanding it," said Sanders in his speech. "Despite what you may hear from some politicians or pundits on TV, Social Security is not going broke. In fact the program has a $2.76 trillion surplus and has paid out every nickel owed to every eligible beneficiary since its inception."
And here is the speech of Sanders:


5.
'Do No Harm': Doctors Blast Medical Professionals for Role In CIA Torture Regime

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Commom Dreams:
This starts as follows:
A group of doctors and ethicists has released a searing report (pdf) slamming medical professionals for playing an "essential" role in the CIA's torture program, thereby violating "the most fundamental duty of the healing professions" and potentially committing crimes against humanity.

Published by Physicians for Human Rights, the analysis comes a week after the release of the partially-redacted executive summary (pdf) of the Senate report on the CIA's widespread torture program—which includes water-boarding, sleep deprivation, killing by hypothermia, and the act euphemistically referred to as rectal feeding.

"Doctors and psychologists working for the U.S. government engaged in the brutal and systematic torture of detainees," said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR senior medical advisor and a co-author of the analysis. "Health professionals who participated in these crimes betrayed the most fundamental duty of the healing professions—to do no harm. They must be held accountable in order to restore trust in our professions and ensure this never happens again."

Yes, indeed. Here is some more, also completely justified in my eyes:

Doctors, physicians assistants, and psychologists violated "core ethical principles" of the profession, including the obligation to "protect the lives and health of patients under their care from harm and brutality," according to the PHR review.

These betrayals included "designing, directing, and profiting from the torture program," as well as "intentionally inflicting harm on detainees," the report charges. The medical community also enabled "U.S. Department of Justice Lawyers to create a fiction of 'safe, legal and effective' interrogation practices."

In particular, the report slams psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen (identified in the Senate report respectively under the pseudonyms Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar) for their critical role in "conceptualizing and designing strategies for the direct infliction of a combination of physical and psychological harm on detainees." The psychologists' company was paid more than $80 million by the CIA for its services.

This is very well worth reading in full.

6. The National Security State as a Criminal Enterprise

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt on Common Dreams, but originally on tomdispatch:
This starts as follows:

It came from the top and that’s never been a secret.  The president authorized the building of those CIA “black sites” and the use of what came to be known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” and has spoken of this with a certain pride. The president’s top officials essentially put in an order at the Department of Justice for “legal” justifications that would, miraculously, transform those “techniques” into something other than torture.  Its lawyers then pulled out their dictionaries and gave new meaning to tortured definitions of torture that could have come directly from the fused pens of Franz Kafka and George Orwell.  In the process, they even managed to leave the definition of torture to the torturer.  It was a performance for the ages.

Last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who only days after 9/11 claimed that the Bush administration was going to “work the dark side,” once again championed those techniques and the CIA agents who used them.  It was a handy reminder of just what a would-be crew of tough-guy torture instigators he and his cohorts were.
There is also this, that should remind one of the fact that the worst tortures by Americans were not in America, but in secret black sites:
Although what I’ve just described is now generally considered The Torture Story here, it really was only part of it.  The other part, also a CIA operation authorized at the highest levels, was “rendition” or “extraordinary rendition” as it was sometimes known.  This was a global campaign of kidnappings, aided and abetted by 54 other countries, in which “terror suspects” (again often enough innocent people) were swept off the streets of major cities as well as the backlands of the planet and “rendered” to other countries, ranging from Libya and Syria to Egypt and Uzbekistan, places with their own handy torture chambers and interrogators already much practiced in “enhanced” techniques of one sort or another.
And there is this:
What was done couldn’t have been more criminal in nature, whether judged by U.S. or international law.  In its wake, its perpetrators, both the torturers and the kidnappers, were protected in a major way.  Except for a few low-level figures at Abu Ghraib and one non-torturing CIA whistleblower who went to prison for releasing to a journalist the name of someone involved in the torture program, no American figure, not even those responsible for deaths at the Agency’s black sites, would be brought to court.
This is a very good piece that should be read in full - and again: If nearly 6 out 10 Americans approve of torture, what is there against releasing all the 6000 pages of the Senate Committee's Report?! It can't be that the American troops run more danger; it can't be that the Americans would be shocked; it can't be that most of the Americans would object to torturing....

7. Americans Polled On Torture & The Result Devastates

The next and last item for today is a video by TYT (The Young Turks) that outlines the result of the poll that shows most Americans seem to approve of torture (of others, of course):
I must start this with noting that either there were two polls, or there is a bit of  an odd difference about the numbers: In the poll reported in this video 51% of those polled said that the CIA's interrogation methods were justified; 29% said they were not; and 20% was Don't Know.

This contrasts with the numbers reported in item 1, but yes: There the question seems a bit different, viz.
All in all, do you think the CIA's treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified? This got 59% justified; 31% not justified; amd 9% No Opinion.

That last question was about the "
treatment of suspected terrorists", while the question in the video was about "interrogation methods".

Otherwise, the video is decent, but far from
giving good feelings. Except if you like torturing people, of course, but then that seems to be an all-American desire, in majority - for yes: Given that torture has been declared illegal virtually everywhere for ages now, the poll either illustrates a great stupidity in many Americans, or a considerable cruelty, or both. I am very sorry, but that is how it is. [2]
---------------------------------
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.)

[2] Also, I should say there is rather a lot less of TYT in Nederlog simply because I like it less. I was rather enthusiastic about them when I first discovered them in the summer of 2009 - when I got fast internet - and this mostly remained so until around 2012, but since then things have not been well, at least from my point of view, I suppose mostly because they got a lot bigger, and the news they give these days, quite unlike of what it was, is mostly the sort of Huffington Post or AlterNet kind of "news" on the pattern of "5 new idiocies from rightist politicians". Also, these items tend to get "seriously discussed" by panels of three, none of whom is very clever or very verbally gifted as a rule. It still is a lot better than O'Reilly, but I found myself the last year or more rarely watching a video, for I just don't care watching not very gifted panels discussing "5 new idiocies from rightist politicians" or similar items. (Here are some of the latest: "Controversial Crucifix Shaped Penis Necklace Makes ..."; "The REAL Reasons Amal Clooney Deserves Most ..."; "His Shirt Is Powerful But His Unscripted Words Are ..."; "Meathead Cop Whines That Cops Are The Victims in Tami..."; "Pilot Fired After Sharing His Cockpit With..." - I mean: I'm sorry, but I do not live to watch that kind of unimportant nonsense, which also can be multiplied virtually forever. My mind is really too good for that. You may, of course, but I just don't watch it: It really is too stupid, for me. But that's just me...)


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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