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Nederlog

July 12, 201
Crisis: Torture, Jay& Scheer 9/10, $10 a day, Greece * 2
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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. US torture report: psychologists should no longer aid
     military, group says
2. 
Plundering Our Freedom with Abandon - Robert Scheer
     on Reality Asserts Itself (9/10)

3. 71% of the World’s Population Survives on Less Than $10
     a Day

4.
‘Guerrilla Warfare Against a Hegemonic Power’: The
     Challenge and Promise of Greece

5. Caught Between 'Grexit' and 'Hell No' — Greece Submits
    To Austerity's Knife


This is a Nederlog of Sunday July 12, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 files with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the American Psychological Association and its - effective - more than ten years
defense
of torture and psychologists who took part in torture (but the quoted response seems mistaken and wrong to me); item 2 is about interview nr 9 in a series of 10 that Paul Jay did with Robert Scheer; item 3 is about the amount of money most people who are alive at present can dispose over (and some about the riches I receive...); item 4 is about an article by Ellen Brown on Greece, that I liked but that gives little reason to be hopeful about Greece; and item 5 is about an article by Jon Queally that tries to hold the middle between those advicing the Greeks about what they should do.

1. US torture report: psychologists should no longer aid military, group says

The first article today is by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This continues an article from the day before, that I reviewed yesterday (which gives some background that I will not repeat again). The present article starts as follows:

A representative of the US’s largest professional association of psychologists, which is in the throes of crisis after an independent review found it to be complicit in torture, has said psychologists should no longer participate in US detentions and interrogations.

Nadine Kaslow, a former president of the beleaguered American Psychological Association, told the Guardian that psychologists should no longer aid the military at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere – in effect reversing more than a decade of institutional insistence that such participation was responsible and ethical.

“I personally think the council needs to adopt a policy to prohibit psychologists from being involved in interrogation, people being held in military custody at Gitmo and other sites,” said Kaslow.

I say?! You may be a bit amazed at my amazement, but then I am a psychologist (in terms of degrees) and this seems the other extreme.

For consider, according to the American Psychological Association, the following is true:
  • Psychology is a real science.
  • Psychologists are thoroughly trained, intelligent, professional persons.
  • Psychologists have consciences and have their own professional ethics.
So why would a former president of the APA very suddenly insist psychologists should not be present when persons are being interrogated by military specialists? And - for example - insist that military specialists have no right to deprive the persons they interrogate from sleep? And no right to use violence?

Note that my above conclusion depends on the three points that the APA definitely presumes, if perhaps not precisely in my terms - but these were also the terms under which I was educated (in Holland) as a psychologist. And indeed something similar would hold for degreed medics and lawyers (though law is not a science, in my opinion): it seems you want some of these professions present, to see to it that those who are arrested and are being interrogated are not abused by their interrogators.

But not according to the quoted past president of the APA. Here is some more on that opinion (and you can find out more about the Hoffman report
yesterday):

That 542-page report, by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman, found that numerous senior officials within the APA aided torture by changing internal rules – and collaborated with defense personnel in doing so – to permit psychologists’ assistance. The APA further spent more than a decade denying it had opened the door to abuses; aggressively misrepresenting its collusion to the media and the public; and stifling internal dissent.

Hoffman found that APA officials were motivated to collaborate with the Defense Department by “the very substantial benefits that DoD had conferred and continued to confer on psychology as a profession”. Collaboration was “enhanced by personal relationships between APA staff and DoD personnel”, including a marriage between an APA executive and “one of the military’s lead psychologists who supported interrogations at Guantánamo Bay”.

Note that it seems quite clear to me that what Hoffman complained about (and seems to have proved beyond reasonable doubt) are two things: (i) "numerous senior officials within the APA" were corrupted by the Defense Department (that did pay the two psychologists who seem to have designed its torture program with 80 million dollars) and (ii) indeed the main reason for being thus corrupted were
“the very substantial benefits that DoD had conferred and continued to confer on psychology as a profession”.

I'd say this is a very strong fact-based argument against corruption and its dangers; it is not an argument that would lead to excluding professionals from witnessing the interrogation of prisoners by trained military personnel (and saying
loudly: "No, you are going too far: you have no right to abuse prisoners.")

But not according Nadine Kaslow: She seems to think that the fewer professional psychologists (and lawyers and medics) witness the interrogations, the better this is, for their professional reputations, and the professional reputations of their professional associations.

I do not think so at all, for I do not trust military interrogators. Then again, if a past president of the APA believes psychologists are all too easily corrupted, and do not have sufficiently strong individual consciences to protest the abuse of prisoners, I say that if that is so, she ought to be for the abandonment of psychology as a real science - for indeed, as I found, psychology is not a real science (see the article of Paul Lutus), and psychologists are not thoroughly trained (no one was, who was educated as "a psychologist"  in the University of Amsterdam between 1978 and 1993, and I suppose it was no better in any other Dutch university).

And now I suppose one must add to the facts that psychologists are not real scientists, and are not thoroughly trained professionals, the fact - at least: according to the past president of the APA - that American psychologists also
lack the consciences to practice the ethics they learned as psychologists, because they are easily corrupted with money...

I don't say "No!" - remember: I have been trained as a psychologist, and have made one of the best M.A.'s ever - but it doesn't seem right to me.

2. Plundering Our Freedom with Abandon - Robert Scheer on Reality Asserts Itself (9/10)

The next article today is by Anonymous at The Real News Network:
To start with, I have been looking for the text of this video for some days at Truthdig, where it cannot be found. So I decided to try the website of TRNN, and - lo and behold! - there it was.

The reason I was interested is that I like the interviews, and have been reviewing the first 8 parts pf the series. Since I did so, and since you can find the last one here (where you also find links to previous ones, and see the index of Nederlog for 2015), I will once again jump in without further ado.
PAUL JAY: (..) Nine/eleven was a critical moment in American history, obviously. It prepared the conditions for something that many people in the elites and in the military circles had been complaining about, which is it's going to be very difficult to get over what they called the Vietnam syndrome. How do we get America ready to go back to war again? And the attacks on 9/11 got people in the mood. You wrote a book called The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. How did they do that?

PROF. ROBERT SCHEER, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, it was absolutely the moment of truth for our society. We had an enemy. We can argue about did we have to have that enemy in the Soviet Union and China the way we described it. But nonetheless, it was, you know, once the Cold War got going, you had an enemy with a military and the ability to destroy you, and we had the ability to destroy them with nuclear weapons and so forth. It had a certain dynamic. People had adjusted to that dynamic. They figured out limits to it, arms control agreements and so forth.
Actually, this is a theme that hasn't sufficiently been commented upon, also not in this interview: the enormous differences that arose after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. For until the collapse (that started in 1989 and took some years, viz. either to the end of 1992, when the Soviet Union was laid to rest, or to 1999, when Yeltsin gave up power) there were two enormous blocs with major armies and many atomic weapons who were bound to destroy each other if engaged in a major war, while after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the USA had essentially won.

One would assume this implied a radical decline in spending on arms and armies, but this did not really happen at all.

What happened was this:

SCHEER:  What happened was 9/11. And you can argue about how it was interpreted and what it meant, but it certainly traumatized the nation and certainly gave the super hawks an opportunity to--what I argue in my book they did, which is hijack the meaning of 9/11, and which--after all, the people that were your enemy on 9/11 were first of all in part monsters of your own creation.
It certainly traumatized the nation - and the nation got treated, from 9/11 onwards, to enormous amounts of propaganda, that defended the most authoritarian measures, such as secretly surveilling the whole American population and the rest of the world as if they were (and are) spies, without
any rights, any secrets or any privacy, all merely on the basis of propaganda about "terrorism".

This is another major theme that has not been sufficiently commented upon.
I will not do it either, here and now, and continue with more Scheer:

SCHEER: (..) The forces of irrationality, the Project for the New American Century and all that, seized this moment. The other forces capitulated, the more rational, reasonable people around Bush, who exist to this day, you know, and who are critical. Colin Powell would be in that camp.
That is Scheer's opinion (and he knows these circles a lot better than I do). Whether you agree or not, the upshot is this:
SCHEER: I would say that the--and here you get to the whole use of classification and what do we know--that when it comes to discussing not only this chapter but just about any chapter in the evolution of foreign policy, most of us are in the dark. That doesn't mean you can then endorse this theory or that theory. One thing we can know for sure is that the explanation that has been offered to us should be assumed to be bogus. Okay? That doesn't mean you have the alternative explanation.
(...)
After all, we are at the mercy of people who benefit from waging war, or at least preparing war, to do most of the evaluation about the enemy. Right? We get this from people who are in the military-industrial complex. That's what that whole book The Pornography of Power--as you were talking about, the reason they could hijack it is because you have a revolving door between them and the Defense Department, and the very people who are going to benefit from these contracts, are trying to sell these military contracts and so forth, are on both sides of the revolving door.
I agree, and it makes sense to outline the points:
  • The irrational extremists in and around the American governmnent took over most of the power and most of the propaganda (helped by the fact that the major print media were in major financial trouble for loosing most of their advertisements).
  • As to the foreign policies of the USA: Hardly anyone knows most he or she should know; much one learns is propaganda rather than fact; and
    the officialese explanations the government offers are "bogus".
  • Those who give or at least concoct the officialese explanations benefit a lot from waging war, especially since most nowadays also are in and out
    of government through revolving doors.
Indeed, the point I just made about the major print media is also made by Robert Scheer:
SCHEER: You have to throw in another factor, that the conventional news organizations were in a weakened economic position by this point. They're worried if they go out on a limb, whether it was opposing the Iraq War--by opposing I mean showing the contradictions--they might never get their readers or viewers back, that they no longer have the authority of a monopoly market or you can print money and, okay, we'll be Walter Cronkite, and quite late in the Vietnam War, but we'll still challenge it. CBS will not go out of business. Okay. Now you had a feeling if The New York Times challenges the move to the Iraq War too aggressively, you could maybe lose your business. And you don't have that. And they have it to this day.
That is not very well expressed, but is the same point: Trying to write the truth "could maybe lose your business". And so they lied and propagandized rather than go out of business.

And here is one of the (many) consequences:

SCHEER: So what is interesting is you would think that one of the great things about our system of government, an open trial, is we'd learn who these people are. They'd be cross examined. The case would be made. That's never happened.
JAY: Well, you've got to think the reason it never happened is 'cause there's something to hide.
SCHEER: Yes, that's my suggestion. This also is about 9/11, by the way: Responsible journalists know that they have been lied to by the government, but don't know the real truth.
Here is the last quotation:
JAY: Go back to the media again. The mainstream media has more or less just accepted the conclusions of 9/11 Commission. Almost no critique. And everyone moves on. Like, okay, that's that story, even though it's riddled with holes.
SCHEER: It's appalling that they did not deal with the disclaimer. I mean, that would just be solid reporting. You know, here's the commission says this whole narrative was basically handed to us by the U.S. government. Then why do you need a commission? If at the end of the day they're going to take the handout from the government, you're not going to raise any tough questions about what they did, didn't do, what they knew. It's astounding. And given the importance of this event to what happened to the quality of our life, to our freedom, and so forth, it's incredibly irresponsible. You know? Here is an example where the wisdom of our founders in protecting our individual freedom is warranted. We have the right to free speech, free assembly. We should be able to ask what happened on 9/11. Who were they protecting?

Well... I do not know the persons, but clearly the corporations that were being protected were those that made enormous amounts of money, indeed in part through being represented in government via revolving doors: the big banks and the big corporations making armaments, like Lockheed - in brief the
main representatives of the military-industrial complex.

Anyway - this was the last bit I've quoted and reviewed. I think it's somewhat odd that I couldn't find the text of this on Truthdig, but I did find it on The Real News Network, where I also found the 10th interview from 10, so I will probably treat that tomorrow.

3. 71% of the World’s Population Survives on Less Than $10 a Day

The next article today is by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:

This is from "a new Pew Research Center report that looked at changes in income for 111 countries between 2001 and 2011":

As defined in this study, people who are middle income live on $10-20 a day, which translates to an annual income of $14,600 to $29,200 for a family of four. That range merely straddles the official poverty line in the United States—$23,021 for a family of four in 2011.

Perhaps more importantly from an international perspective, the gap in living standards between the world’s economically advanced countries and emerging and developing nations barely narrowed in the first decade of this century. In 2001, 91% of the world’s high-income people lived in North America and Europe; in 2011, the share was 87%.

Globally, there was little change in the share of people living at the higher ends of the income scale. As noted, only 16% of the global population lived on more than the middle-income level in 2011, up slightly from 14% in 2001.
It may interest my readers that I have lived since my 24th year (which fell in 1974) on considerably less than $14,600 a year, thanks to the enormous solidarity of the Heroic Dutch with the poor, the deprived and the ill...

4. ‘Guerrilla Warfare Against a Hegemonic Power’: The Challenge and Promise of Greece

The next article today is by Ellen Brown (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig (but originally on the Web of Debt):
This is here mainly because it is by Ellen Brown, whose ideas I like. This is from the beginning:

The Greek crisis is a banking crisis, and it was precipitated largely by the Mafia-like tactics of the European Central Bank and the international banks it serves (notably Goldman Sachs). As Jeffrey Sachs observed in the Financial Times in 2012:

The Greek economy is collapsing not mainly from fiscal austerity or the lack of external competitiveness but from the chronic lack of working capital. Greece’s small and medium-sized enterprises can no longer obtain funding. . . . The shutdown of Greece’s banking sector brings to mind the dramatic shrinkage of bank lending during 1929-33 in the Great Depression.

As usual, this is a good article, but it will not make you happier.

5.  Caught Between 'Grexit' and 'Hell No' — Greece Submits To Austerity's Knife

The last item of today is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
After submitting a proposal for consideration by foreign creditors overnight, the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras on Friday presented the plan to a full meeting of Parliament, in hopes of securing backing for a plan that would keep Greece in the eurozone by exchanging long-term debt relief and further financial assistance for a new set of of harsh austerity programs and conditions.

"We are confronted with crucial decisions," a government official quoted Tspiras as telling Syriza lawmakers during the morning session. "We got a mandate to bring a better deal than the ultimatum that the Eurogroup gave us, but certainly not given a mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone."

While acknowledging the plan is not ideal, he said: "We are all in this together."

The €53.5 billion plan—which calls for surplus budgets, cuts to pensions, controversial tax increases, and further privatization of industries and assets—looks much like a similar proposal that was put to a vote and rejected by Greek voters on Sunday, but includes important differences when it comes to the prospect of debt relief and includes longer pay-off periods. The Guardian looks at the details of the plan here.

There is also this, by Alex Andreou, who is a Greek economist that supports Tsipras:
Instant, dramatic, pantomime reactions of the type "Tsipras just destroyed Greece" and "Tsipras just saved Europe" are numerous and deeply unhelpful. He has done neither. This isn't a booing or cheering moment. He simply has tried to balance his two basic mandate commands to a. end austerity and b. stay within the Euro, which turned out to be pretty much mutually exclusive, in an ideologically propagated, German-controlled climate. As that became clear, one had to be prioritized over the other. It is fair to say that a shrewder assessment at the start may have revealed them to be mutually exclusive, but shoulda-coulda-wouldas are also not particularly constructive.
Well... I can understand that, but it's not hopeful: it means bending to the strong bastards who run the ECB and the IMF, simply because one doesn't believe the Greeks are strong enough to go back to the drachma and survive (which may be right: if it happens, it will be an enormous struggle).

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

P.S. Jul 13, 2015: Inserted a "by" that got lost, and outdented a bit in item 2.


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