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Nederlog

Jun 26, 2016

Crisis: Brexit and Failures, FBI's Secrets, A possible test for M.E.
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Introduction

1.
Brexit: Insularity and Failure of Western
     Establishment Institutions

2.
FBI’s Secret Surveillance Tech Budget Is ‘Hundreds of
     Millions’

3.
Indicator of chronic fatigue syndrome found in gut
     bacteria

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 26, 2016.

This is another crisis log. There are 3 items with 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about a long article by Glenn Greenwald of which I review only the first three paragraphs (but they are quite good, though I have additions); item 2 is about the degenerate FBI that now even refuses to say how much tax money it gets to spy - illegally - on all Americans (although constitutionally they ought to say at least this, but no); and item 3 is about M.E.: After 7 years of almost nothing, there is a bit of decent research that may promise a way of diagnosing people with M.E. (which would be a considerable advantage, though this finding discloses nothing about a possible cause).

1
.
Brexit: Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept (and I did shorten the title: If you click on the next item you will see the full title):

This is a fairly long article about Brexit by another man I trust (without always agreeing with him) namely Glenn Greenwald. There were two other articles by
people I trust on Brexit that I reviewed yesterday. (I don't like most articles - on Brexit, here - in the main media, for reasons Greenwald explains.)

The present article starts as follows - and I will here briefly analyze the first three paragraphs of the article, and leave the rest to your interests:
The decision by UK voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that – for once – their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of western establishment factions; these institutions have
spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew
condescending scorn at their victims when they object.

This is more or less correct, though I very probably read fewer Brexit-articles than Glenn Greenwald.

Also, had I written this, I might have introduced two levels, namely (i) the distinction between the main media (like The Guardian and The New York Times) and alternative media (like Truthdig and Common Dreams), and (ii) the distinction across these between those who write for the more educated group (all of the above-mentioned) and those writing for the less educated groups (AlterNet and the Daily Mail, for example [1]).

The next paragraph is as follows:

The Los Angeles Times‘ Vincent Bevins, in an outstanding and concise analysis, wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years”; in particular, “since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.” The British journalist Tom Ewing, in a comprehensive Brexit explanation, said the same dynamic driving the UK vote prevails in Europe and North America as well: “the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact.”

Yes, indeed. But I want to precisify some and generalize some.

The precisification is that "
the elites in rich countries" started their "neoliberal" approaches to both economics and politics either in 1979 and 1980 (elections of Thatcher an Reagan) or else in 1971 (with Lewis Powell's exhortation to the rich elite of the USA to organize themselves). [2]

And I have two generalizations:

The first is that what really happened since 1980 is that the rich elites in the US and Europe systematically, both politically and economically, took more and more of the power, and made more and more of the decisions in their own interests, without any care for the incomes, the chances or the health of those who were not rich.

This also was a major change in the New Deal and Keynesian policies that had dominated from 1933 till 1980, and that were almost totally given up by most of the rich.

Also, I don't really think that "
the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand", and my reason is simple:

They did get most of what they wanted (which I agree was both egoistic and greedy, in their own financial interests, and socially very dangerous), and they also did get, and still have, the main media, which were changed from a more or less free press into a press that mostly relays government propaganda as if it were true (plus lots of amusements about trivial things).

Second, Ewing is correct about the "
neoliberal elites"' plans to "sideline and work around democracy", but they have mostly sidelined democracy, namely by replacing the free press (in the main media) by the propaganda press (in the main media), and by getting a lot more votes for themselves and their rightist views by simpleminded but effective propaganda that appeals to simple minds, although it is utter baloney ("Freedom!", "Freedom!", "Free Markets!", "Free Markets!").

In fact, this also holds for many "social democratic" parties, that turned "neoliberal", and in fact ceased to be leftish except in terminology and slogans [3]. Again, this was mostly what the rich wanted, and what the rich got.

And the main reason is that much of the free press has died: The main media these days mostly provide propaganda, bullshit and great amounts of amusements. 

Here is the third paragraph:
In an interview with The New Statesman, the political philosopher Michael Sandel also said that the dynamics driving the pro-Brexit sentiment were now dominant throughout the west generally: “a large constituency of working-class voters feel that not only has the economy left them behind, but so has the culture, that the sources of their dignity, the dignity of labour, have been eroded and mocked by developments with globalisation, the rise of finance, the attention that is lavished by parties across the political spectrum on economic and financial elites, the technocratic emphasis of the established political parties.” After the market-venerating radicalism of Reagan and Thatcher, he said, “the centre left” – Blair and Clinton and various European parties – “managed to regain political office but failed to reimagine the mission and purpose of social democracy, which ­became empty and obsolete.”
This is correct, except for two points:

First "
working-class voters" are no longer "working class", for the simple reason that their working class jobs in factories have been mostly terminated while - because of deregulations - both the jobs and the factories were transplanted to very much cheaper third world countries.

This is another major change, for this also implies the death of the working class, and its replacement by considerably poorer "service" jobs by the many
not highly educated ones, who also were taught egoism and greed from their propagandist papers and TV, and have lost most their feelings of solidarity, decency and justice, and changed socially into a kind of lower middle class egoists. [4]

Second, Sandel also misses that what he calls "
the centre left" is no longer left: Especially Clinton and Blair (and Kok in the Netherlands) transformed the left into the pseudo-"left" (not left except in slogans) that is in fact in terms of policies the centre right, much rather than the centre left.

Besides, Clinton and Blair - both of whom now are very rich frauds - did not fail "
to reimagine the mission and purpose of social democracy":

They expressly and proudly killed social democracy in their parties (outside the levels of slogans and some propagandizing) and they both killed any hope for any other economic system than capitalism.

This was a review of the first three paragraphs of Glenn Greenwald's article, that contains a lot more and is recommended.

But my analysis differs some from Greenwald's analysis, and notably I stress these conclusions:
  • Since 1980 the rich elites in the US and Europe systematically, both politically and economically, have taken more and more of the power, and made more and more of the decisions in their own interests, without any care for the incomes, chances or health of those who were not rich.
  • This also was a major change in the New Deal and Keynesian policies that had dominated from 1933 till 1980, and that were almost totally given up by most of the rich.
  • The rich did get most of what they wanted (which I agree was both egoistic and greedy, in their own financial interests, and socially very dangerous), and they also did get, and still have, the main media, which were changed from a more or less free press into a press that mostly relays government propaganda as if it were true.
  • The rich have mostly sidelined democracy, namely by replacing the free press (in the main media) by the propaganda press (in the main media), and by getting a lot more votes for themselves and their rightist views by simpleminded but effective propaganda.
  • The same holds for many "social democratic" parties, that turned "neoliberal", and in fact ceased to be leftish except in terminology and slogans.
  • The "working-class voters" are no longer "working class", for the simple reason that their working class jobs in factories have been mostly terminated.
  • Clinton and Blair expressly and proudly killed social democracy in their parties (outside the levels of slogans and some propagandizing) and they also both killed any hope for any other economic system than capitalism.
I think these are mostly my conclusions, and I do not know to what extent Glenn Greenwald or the writers he explicitly names would agree with me.

2. FBI’s Secret Surveillance Tech Budget Is ‘Hundreds of Millions’

The second item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The FBI has “hundreds of millions of dollars” to spend on developing technology for use in both national security and domestic law enforcement investigations — but it won’t reveal the exact amount.

Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI James Burrell spoke about the secretive budget of the Operational Technology Division — which focuses on all the bureau’s advanced investigative gizmos, from robots to surveillance tech to biometric scanners during a roundtable discussion on encryption technology.

In December 2015, The Washington Post reported the budget of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division at between $600 and $800 million, but officials refused to confirm the exact amount.

I say. So nobody (outside the FBI etc.) even knows how much the FBI spends on spying on everybody, which itself is illegal (in the USA, by the Fourth Amendment).

There's also this:

The intelligence community sponsored the roundtable on Thursday and Friday to spark discussion among academics, scientists, developers, and tech officials on the finer points of encryption — and to try to answer whether it’s technically possible to give law enforcement access to secure devices without compromising digital security.

Surely that is "technically possible" provided the operating system is changed so that all keystrokes (including those that set your passwords) are monitored
and relayed to the FBI or the NSA (etc.).

It is illegal - by the Fourth Amendment - but almost nobody, these days, cares to even discuss this (!!).

As to the secrecy of the FBI even about the amounts they get from the taxes:

“Of all kinds of government secrecy, budget secrecy is the least defensible,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy run by the Federation of American Scientists, wrote in an email to The Intercept. Publishing the budget is required by the Constitution, he pointed out.

Yes, indeed. But given the lack of really free main media, who cares? (I care, and others care, but our cares are neglected: We don't have any power.)

3. Indicator of chronic fatigue syndrome found in gut bacteria

The third item is by Krishna Ramanujan via Dr. Speedy's M.E. site:

This is reported here because I have got M.E. (that I refuse to call "chronic fatigue syndrome", for this is psychatric bullshit) since 1.i.1979 (which was effectively also the first year of my university studies).

It has the following:

In a study published June 23 in the journal Microbiome, the team describes how they correctly diagnosed myalgic encephalomyeletis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in 83 percent of patients through stool samples and blood work, offering a noninvasive diagnosis and a step toward understanding the cause of the disease.

“Our work demonstrates that the gut bacterial microbiome in ME/CFS patients isn’t normal, perhaps leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms in victims of the disease,” said Maureen Hanson, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and the paper’s senior author. “Furthermore, our detection of a biological abnormality provides further evidence against the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin” (..)

In spite of the fact that M.E. has been medically described since 1965, in the preceding 51 (!) years extremely little money has been invested in researching it because it is a rare disease and - especially - because psychiatrists claim since the 1980ies that there are no unknown diseases:

Every unknown disease, they claim, is almost certainly a "psychiatric disorder" (and they have also extended the number of "psychiatric disorders" from around 50 till 1980 till over 400 (!!) in the DSM-5).

Well, I am a psychologist with a brilliant M.A. and since I know the above I detest all psychiatry as non-scientific bullshit. [5] But this doesn't help me in
getting medical evidence, while the present paper does now seem to indicate a
method of diagnosing M.E., for 83 percent is high. (This also needs confirma- tion, I think.)

As to the second quoted paragraph: I quite agree, in the following sense:

Between 1992 and 2010 my health was quite bad, after not being allowed to sleep enough for four years, living above two illegal softdrugsdealers who were protected whatever they did by Amsterdam's mayor Ed van Thijn, his city police and all his bureaucrats, for these allowed that I was threatened with murder, gassed (really, and almost deadly) and kept constantly out of sleep. Van Thijn and his aldermen even refused to acknowledge receipt of the letters I handed to their personal doormen, and I suppose they did so because they had huge financial interests in the illegal dealings in soft drugs. (I have no proof, but why else did they break the laws that should have protected me for four years and the laws that prohibit soft drugs - forbidden in Holland since 1965 - for 30 years now?!?!)

One of the things that made sleeping (also) difficult after I finally did get a decent home (thanks to my GP, and not to Amsterdam's sick and corrupt bureaucracy) was "pain in my belly", next to muscle aches in my legs and in my arms.

I did not know what this was due to, and got - as usual, and by that time I had lost the fine GP to whom I owe my decent house - no information of any kind from any of the medical doctors I turned to.

But at that time I also bought - excellent - bread in a health-food shop, and at a certain moment I concluded (after experimenting also) that bread made mostly from rice did not lead to pain in my belly, whereas bread made mostly from wheat did.

I was certain of this by the end of 2010, and since then avoid wheat - and have no more pains in my belly.

So yes: I completely support the second paragraph, simply because it fully accords with my experiences.

Next, there is also this on M.E. in general. I repeat it because I have some remarks (after a mere 37 years of M.E.):

Researchers have evidence that an overactive immune system plays a role in chronic fatigue. Symptoms include fatigue even after sleep, muscle and joint pain, migraines and gastrointestinal distress. One hallmark of the condition is post-exertional malaise, meaning patients may take weeks to recover from minor exertion. To test for ME/CFS, clinicians may give patients a cardio-pulmonary exercise test where they ride a bike until they become fatigued. If the test is repeated the following day,  ME/CFS patients usually cannot reproduce their performance from the first day..

“That’s very typical and specific of people with ME/CFS, because healthy people, or even people who have heart disease, can reproduce the exercise on the second day, but these people cannot,” Giloteaux said.

All of this holds for me, in the following senses:

(1) Since I fell ill with M.E. I have had no other illnesses (in particular: no
flues whatsoever, in 37 years), except for some minor problems pissing, that
probably are not related to M.E. and happened 28 years ago.
(2) I have had constant sleep problems from the beginning of the disease; I have had constant muscle and joint pain; I have had gastrointestinal distress;
and my ex (who also has the disease, as long as I have it) and I already in
1979
reported on our
post-exertional malaise (but where pooh-poohed by around 30 medical doctors), for precisely this kind of malaise prevented us attending almost all university lectures (almost always, and since 1.i.1979).
(3) I have been diagnosed by an M.E.-specialist in 2005 who did give me fairly extensive tests, but who some years later was removed as a medical doctor because he had sex with at least one of his patients (on whom he tried very many medicines - she also had M.E. - none of which were given to me or others).

These are also the reasons why I do think M.E. is what I suffer from (although in terms of research and medical knowledge that is quite unfortunate).

Finally, I repeat this:

The researchers have no evidence to distinguish whether the altered gut microbiome is a cause or a whether it is a consequence of disease, Giloteaux added.

I repeat this because I've learned in 2010 that most patients never studied anything (in a university) and reason most unscientifically (and because they are all anonymous they could scold as much as they pleased, which also is my reason to give them up).

But yes, that point is also true (and common in much of real science).


----------------
Notes
[1] I do not wish to suggest that AlterNet and the Daily Mail are comparable, for AlterNet presumes considerably more intelligence. But it is true that from my highly educated perspective, AlterNet does seem more simpleminded than Truthdig and Common Dreams. (And this is one reason why I review less from AlterNet, indeed.)

[2] In fact I think that 1980 is the best year to date the rise of "neoliberalism".

[3] Yes, indeed. Also, I think "the social democrats" may well have been bought, although I do not know that. I do much dislike their dishonesty, which started in Holland in 1995 (when Kok implemented the lessons he had learned from Clinton and Blair).

[4] I think I am quite right in this, which I do because I have been born in a very poor proletarian family, and I have been raised in poor proletarian neighborhoods, and the sort of solidarity there was between the poor until well into the 1970ies simply has disappeared almost totally. And indeed there also are few classical working people left (working in a factory, with a stable job, that paid a good amount of income, after some 90 years of trade union activities). It was there, I know from my own experiences, and it has almost completely gone.

[5] You may disagree. If you do, I recommend reading the following entry that I wrote in 2012:
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis". This is 371 Kb worth of fundamental criticism of psychiatry, both in its assumptions and its practice. Since I am a philosopher
of science and a psychologist, it is good. (It was downloaded a lot, and was
never criticized.)


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