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Nederlog

May 21, 2019

   Three Crisis Articles


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.






Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 21, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

I bought a computer on May 9 with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS MATE and am for the coming months (at least) "between two computers".  I shall continue - for the time being - to write and upload my files from 16.04 LTS (that is: from the old computer, that I bought in 2012) because that is easier right now and the old computer still works (and may continue to work for another two years or more, although I do not know that).

Well, here is a change I made on May 17:

I did not like 18.04 LTS mostly because quite a few files I have been editing for 20+ years can't be installed any more on that (for incomprehensible reasons also) so I had 18.04 deinstalled and got 16.04 LTS reinstalled on the new computer - but that too is quite different from the 16.04 LTS on the old computer...

More later.

Also, and in any case, I decided to write less on the crisis (I did review over 10,000 files since 2013), in part because it makes no difference and in part because I am 69.

But I'll continue Nederlog. At present this is in a midway position between the old style (five reviews each day) and some new style, that I do not know yet, and that for the time being I fix on three or four reviews each day (but that may change and probably will).

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

A. Selections from May 21, 2019:

The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
1. America's Reproductive Slaves
2. Bottle of Lies & Patients' Health

3. The Missing Step

1. America's Reproductive Slaves

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion law in the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory.

The ruling elites are acutely aware that the steadily declining American birthrate is the result of a de facto “birth strike” by women who, unable to afford adequate health insurance and exorbitant medical bills and denied access to paid parental leave, child care and job protection, find it financially punitive to have children. Not since 1971 have births in the United States been at replacement levels, considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, a ratio needed for a generation to replace itself. Current births number 1,728 per 1,000 women, a decline of 2% from 2017. Without a steady infusion of immigrants, the U.S. population would be plummeting.

I did not know that the U.S. birthrate is falling for the fourth straight year, although I did know about Alabama's governor Ivey's recent signing of "the most draconian anti-abortion law in the country".

And I also did not know that
since 1971 births in the United States been lower than replacement levels - which is in fact for 48 years. (I do not know whether this is true, for the simple reason that there are quite a few more Americans now than in 1971.)

Here is some more:

“The effort to block birth control and abortion is not about religion nor about politicians pandering to a right-wing base, nor is it a result of prudery, nor is it to punish women for having sex,” Jenny Brown writes in her book “Birth Strike: Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work.” “It is about the labor of bearing and rearing children: who will do it and who will pay for it.”

Raising children is not a lifestyle choice. It is labor-intensive work that demands of parents, and especially women, huge physical, emotional, financial and time commitments. The wider society reaps the benefits of this work. It has a social and moral responsibility to compensate and assist those who raise children.

Well... I think the second quoted paragraph is quite correct, but I doubt a bit whether Jenny Brown is quite correct in denying that the efforts to block birth control are neither about religion nor about politics, but OK.

Here is some background, about Sweden:

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child; the government-funded subsidy is 80 percent of the parent’s job pay for the first 390 days and a reduced amount for the remaining 90 days. Employers in Sweden pay a tax on salaries to fund parental leave. The unemployed are granted a parental stipend. Parents can split the leave between the two of them. Men take nearly a quarter of parental leave in Sweden, which has one of the highest birthrates in Europe.

I say, for I also did not know the above.

This is about the USA:

If women refuse to produce children at levels desired by economic planners, Brown says, then abortion and contraception will be banned or made difficult to obtain. Social Security and pensions will be abolished so the only financial protection from abject poverty for an elderly parent will be children willing to keep their mother or father fed and housed. Eight states dramatically restrict access to abortion, and legislatures in a number of other states are considering legislation to do so. Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia have only one abortion clinic.

As I indicated above I doubt whether Jenny Brown is quite correct in excluding both religion and politics, but I take it the above is at least partially correct.

Here is some more:

The architecture of the corporate state is designed to disempower women. Most wages are not sufficient for one worker to support a family. This means that both the father and the mother must have income-producing jobs. If a parent takes time off to raise a child, the family income declines, usually by half, and there often is also a loss of health benefits, leaving the parent raising the child dependent on the spouse. This economic dependency makes it harder for a woman to leave an abusive or failed relationship, perpetuating the powerlessness of women that is at the heart of the system. By forcing poor couples to stay together, it frees the state from providing even minimal benefits.

I do like to add that (i) my parents were always quite poor, but (ii) in the 1950ies,  1960ies and 1970ies almost all the income of the family was made by my father, which also (iii) was the social norm then, while (iv) the fact that presently both adults in a family have to work to get an income sufficient for both is at least partially due to the feminists that arose in the late Sixties.

You may disagree, but I've seen all of this happening, which also is an important reason that I disagree with feminism-as-arose-in-the-1960ies: They helped make women into wage slaves.

Here is the ending of this article:

Ignore the religious rhetoric and moral posturing about abortion. This debate is not about the sanctity of life. It is about corporate capitalists who desperately need more bodies and intend to coerce women to produce them.

I agree a bit, but I also think this is too much simplified. But this also is a strongly recommended article.
2. Bottle of Lies & Patients' Health

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbrevisated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

Generic drugs amount to 90% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S., most of them made in plants in India and China. Generic drugs can be more affordable, but in her new explosive book “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” investigative journalist Katherine Eban works with two industry whistleblowers to expose how some manufacturers are cutting corners at the cost of quality and safety. This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued its own update on the state of pharmaceutical quality that found the drug quality of factories in India and China scored below the world average. FDA officials say that’s because more robust inspections have uncovered problems and that “the quality of the drug supply has never been higher.”

In fact, this is rather similar to the situation in Holland, where I live, and in fact I am using sleeping pills (like millions of Dutchmen) that were around three times unavailable in the form I strongly prefer in the past year, which my apothecary/ pharmacist blamed on the fact that they have currently to come from India or China, and "Holland is a small market for them".

Then again, this is not by far the only difficulty with having the drugs produced (much more cheaply, for those who produce them) at the other end of the world:

Katherine Eban also provides strong evidence that (i) the FDA officials are mistaken, mostly because their visits to Indian and Chinese factories are announced at least two months before they happen, which allows the producers of the drugs to falsify all manner of things, and that (ii) in fact the qualities of the drugs that are produced in India and China are quite often inferior to what they should be.

I think both points are very probably correct, but this is a long interview, that is rather difficult to excerpt properly.

Here is the general situation with drugs as sketched by Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show looking at an explosive new investigation that exposes widespread unsafe conditions in many Indian and Chinese factories that manufacture generic drugs that comprise nearly 90% of the pharmaceutical drug supply in the United States. Nearly 80% of the active ingredients of all drugs, brand or generic, as well as almost all antibiotics, are made outside of the United States. Generic drugs are, of course, cheaper than brand-name drugs. But in her new book, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, journalist Katherine Eban works with two industry whistleblowers to expose how many overseas manufacturers are cutting corners at the cost of quality and safety.

This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued its own update on the state of pharmaceutical quality that found the drug quality of factories in India and China scored below the world average. FDA officials say that’s because more robust inspections have uncovered problems. Two factories in China and India were linked to recalls of the commonly prescribed blood pressure drugs losartan and valsartan, after testing revealed the drugs were tainted with possible carcinogens. The report prompted the FDA’s director of drug evaluation and research to conclude, quote, “the quality of the drug supply has never been higher.”

Yes indeed - but as I pointed out above, Eban has considerable evidence that the actual inspections of the FDA, in part because they are announced at least two months before they happen, are often happening in falsified conditions.

KATHERINE EBAN: So, generic drugs are a version of the brand-name drug. They’re not an identical copy, but generic companies reverse-engineer—they break down—the brand-name drug and figure out how to remake it. They have to use the same molecule. They have to use the same route of administration, whether it’s swallowing a pill, injecting. And then they have to submit an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And the FDA reviews data to see whether those drugs are bioequivalent. Do they reach the same peak concentration of drug in the blood? And if the FDA deems that they do, they are approved to make a generic version.
    (..)
So, 90% of our drug supply is generic. The majority of those drugs come from overseas. Forty percent alone of all of our generics are manufactured in India. And if you go to a pharmacy, you will automatically be switched to a generic drug if one is available. What’s interesting to me is, even though the name of the manufacturer will be on the label, consumers will not have information about where those drugs are manufactured.

And that is one part of the problem for consumers of drugs. There are quite a few more, and they are listed in the interview, that I strongly recommend you to read if you had problems about drugs you take and live in the USA or Europe.


3. The Missing Step

This article is by Craig Murray on craigmurray.org. It starts as follows:

In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement.

The European Arrest Warrant must be issued from one country to another by a judicial authority. The original Swedish request for Assange’s extradition was not issued by any court, but simply by the prosecutor. This was particularly strange, as the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm had initially closed the case after deciding there was no case to answer, and then another, highly politically motivated, prosecutor had reopened the case and issued a European Arrest Warrant, without going to any judge for confirmation.
    (..)
The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1. My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutor. That is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public.


I take it the above is correct. There is considerably more in the article, but I only quote one more bit from it, which is Murray's sum-up of what Assange achieved:

Julian Assange revolutionised publishing by bringing the public direct access to massive amounts of raw material showing secrets the government wished to hide. By giving the public this direct access he cut out the filtering and mediating role of the journalistic and political classes. Contrast, for example, the Panama Papers which, contrary to promises, only ever saw less than 2% of the raw material published and where major western companies and individuals were completely protected from revelation because of the use of MSM intermediaries. Or compare Wikileaks to the Snowden files, the vast majority of which have now been buried and will never be revealed, after foolishly being entrusted to the Guardian and the Intercept. Assange cut out the intermediary role of the mediating journalist and, by allowing the people to see the truth about how they are governed, played a major role in undercutting public confidence in the political establishment that exploits them.

I mostly agree, although I would guess that Glenn Greenwald may disagree with Murray about the Murray's claim that Snowden's materials were "foolishly being entrusted to the Guardian and the Intercept". In any case, this is a strongly recommended article.


Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 3 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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