April 7, 2019

Crisis: The U.S. Kidnappers, Atheism in Asia, Nuclear Power, Decrease of Standards, Big Pharma

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



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 7, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 7, 2019.

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

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from April 7, 2019:
1. U.S. Wants 2 Years to Find Migrant Kids Separated From Families
2. Atheism has been part of many Asian traditions for a millennia

3. Nuclear Power Is Not a Viable Solution for Green New Deal

4. Hyperbole and Outrage as Substitutes for Thought, Facts, Accuracy and

5. New York Sues Big Pharma for Opioid Crisis
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. U.S. Wants 2 Years to Find Migrant Kids Separated From Families

This article is by Eliot Spagat on Truthdig and originally it appeared on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

The Trump administration wants up to two years to find potentially thousands of children who were separated from their families at the border before a judge halted the practice last year, a task that it says is more laborious than previous efforts because the children are no longer in government custody.

The Justice Department said in a court filing late Friday that it will take at least a year to review about 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children taken into government custody between July 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018 — the day before U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw halted the general practice of splitting families. The administration would begin by sifting through names for traits most likely to signal separation — for example, children under 5.

I say, and I start - again - with the definition of "kidnapping" that is on the Wikipedia, which starts as follows (and is much more extensive):

In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against his or her will. Thus, it is a composite crime. It can also be defined as false imprisonment by means of abduction, both of which are separate crimes that when committed simultaneously upon the same person merge as the single crime of kidnapping.
Kidnapping may be done to demand for ransom in exchange for releasing the victim, or for other illegal purposes. Kidnapping can be accompanied by bodily injury which elevates the crime to aggravated kidnapping.

Kidnapping of a child is also known as child abduction, and these are sometimes separate legal categories.

And I think that what the Trump government did in this case simply was kidnapping, but then I seem to be the only one (that I have read) who calls it so. Then again, I can read and I can think, and for me it is and remains kidnapping.

Here is some more on this:

The administration would provide information on separated families on a rolling basis to the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to reunite families and criticized the proposed timeline on Saturday.

“We strongly oppose a plan that could take up to two years to locate these families,” said Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead attorney. “The government needs to make this a priority.”

Sabraw ordered last year that more than 2,700 children in government care on June 26, 2018 be reunited with their families, which has largely been accomplished. Then, in January, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s internal watchdog reported that thousands more children may have been separated since the summer of 2017. The department’s inspector general said the precise number was unknown.

So this started with 2700 kids that were kidnapped, and then, half a year later, it emerged that there are 47,000 more, and that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department in fact does not know how many children have been kidnapped (of course, without using that term) by the U.S. government. There is considerably more in this article (but without the term "kidnapping") and it is strongly recommended.

2. Atheism has been part of many Asian traditions for a millennia

This article is by Signe Cohen on AlterNet and originally on The Conversation. This is from near its beginning:

To many, atheism – the lack of belief in a personal god or gods – may appear an entirely modern concept. After all, it would seem that it is religious traditions that have dominated the world since the beginning of recorded history.

As a scholar of Asian religions, however, I’m often struck by the prevalence of atheism and agnosticism – the view that it is impossible to know whether a god exists – in ancient Asian texts. Atheistic traditions have played a significant part in Asian cultures for millennia.

Yes indeed - and you owe my selection of the present article because I am a philosopher, who did almost all to get an - excellent - M.A. in philosophy in the "University" of Amsterdam, but who was thrown out of the faculty of philosophy, as a student, briefly before taking my M.A., because I had criticized the lying frauds who "taught" me, and besides was an opponent of the Marxism and postmodernism that had ruled the "University" of Amsterdam from 1971 till 1995.

I think I was the only Dutch student who was mistreated and abused in this horrible fashion, at least since 1945.

But that is my history, and I will not say more about it. Then again, I did study philosophy, and all I had to do was to hand in my thesis in philosophy, and then I was - also sick for 10 years then, and over 40 years now - kicked out as if I was a piece of filth, by the "University" of Amsterdam in 1988.

I still think that the "philosophy" I was "taught" at the "University" of Amsterdam was almost completely utter bullshit (and I know, for I did - very seriously - study philosophy myself for 10 years before starting to study it in the "university"), but apart from that fact it did agree with academic educations in philosophy that were given in other Western universities in other Western countries in that philosophy was, in these Western universities, only done in the West, at least as far as one could learn in Western universities.

And that was totally false as I knew from the early 1970ies onwards. But Cohen is quite right in what she says.

Here is some more:

While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion.

The Buddha himself rejected the idea of a creator god, and Buddhist philosophers have even argued that belief in an eternal god is nothing but a distraction for humans seeking enlightenment.

While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment.

Yes indeed. Then there is this:

A similar form of functional atheism can also be found in the ancient Asian religion of Jainism, a tradition that emphasizes non-violence toward all living beings, non-attachment to worldly possessions and ascetic practice. While Jains believe in an eternal soul or jiva, that can be reborn, they do not believe in a divine creator.

According to Jainism, the universe is eternal, and while gods may exist, they too must be reborn, just like humans are. The gods play no role in spiritual liberation and enlightenment; humans must find their own path to enlightenment with the help of wise human teachers.

Yes indeed. Here is the last part that I quote from this article:

Around the same time when Buddhism and Jainism arose in the sixth century B.C., there was also an explicitly atheist school of thought in India called the Carvaka school. Although none of their original texts have survived, Buddhist and Hindu authors describe the Carvakas as firm atheists who believed that nothing existed beyond the material world.

To the Carvakas, there was no life after death, no soul apart from the body, no gods and no world other than this one.

Again quite so. And this is a recommended article, and there is very much more philosophy in the East, of which I and everbody else who was taught philosophy in the West was kept completely ignorant.

3. Nuclear Power Is Not a Viable Solution for Green New Deal

This article is by David Moglen on Common Dreams and originally on The Hill. It starts as follows:

The Green New Deal resolution is a bold and necessary path forward to tackle the climate crisis. To be successful, it must leave nuclear power behind.

With just a decade left to stop the worst effects of climate change, we must dramatically transform how we produce, use and pay for energy. And as momentum around the Green New Deal turns into concrete proposals, we must recognize why nuclear power is a discredited and dishonest distraction, not a solution.

To reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 60 percent by 2030, and down to zero by 2050, we need cost-effective, proven energy generation technology that can be scaled up to meet these benchmarks. Nuclear power does not and will not ever meet these criteria.

Yes indeed: I quite agree. Incidentally, here is the Wikipedia on the Green New Deal.

Here is some more:

After 60 years, despite massive subsidies, the nuclear industry is dying of its own accord. Why? Because it’s too expensive, too dangerous and dirty, and takes too long to deploy. Reactors are closing across the country, and major corporations have declared bankruptcy.
For 60 years, nuclear power has posed a serious risk to people and our planet. It will be the same for the next 10,000 years. Our children and generations of their children will be forced to endure the radioactive pollution and fallout from devastating accidents like 3 Mile Island, Fukashima, and Chernobyl, and the permanent waste that no one can safely store. The risks of nuclear proliferation and the spread of dangerous weapons and technology only adds to this.

Yes, I mostly agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Nuclear power is too slow to scale up to our current challenge. Far too slow. In 1997, when the historic Kyoto Protocol was signed, nuclear power’s share of electricity generation globally was around 17 percent. Now, after two decades, the aging fleet of reactors account for barely 10 percent of global electricity generation and about 4.4 percent of global commercial primary energy consumption. Even the nuclear industry’s grandiose and preposterously expensive proposal to build two new nuclear reactors a month, from now to 2050, would be far too little and far too late.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article.
4. Hyperbole and Outrage as Substitutes for Thought, Facts, Accuracy and Truth

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

These days you can’t pick up a paper or tune into the news without hearing someone expressing their outrage about something or other and usually it is about as newsworthy as the sun rising in the East. The reason it gets reported is the outrage itself, not the topic. Trump is a master at faux outrage – witness his oft repeated claim that the Mueller investigation was “disgraceful,” “outrageous” or a “witch hunt.”  Trying to determine whether the Russians interfered with our election and whether our President participated – given the various meetings and emails between them – was anything but outrageous. In fact, it was and is simply a prudent and necessary inquiry.

As for hyperbole, take Congressman Bob Bishop’s (R Utah) comment that “… the ideas behind the Green New Deal are tantamount to genocide.”

Genocide? Really? So taking steps to ward off massive draughts, heat waves, wildfires, extreme storms, social unrest and an explosion in the number of migrants and terrorists and the hundreds of millions of deaths they would collectively cause and the trillions it would cost the economy is genocide? How is it that Bishop is not laughed out of Congress?  Instead, his comment got a fair amount of press.

Yes indeed. And I mostly agree with Atcheson, though I also have two points he does not make:

The first point is that in any large unsorted human group, the average IQ is 100, which is so because it has been designed to be so. This means that half of the people there are have an IQ below 100. And while I do not believe that the IQ is a good indicator of human intelligence, it still is the best - or the least bad - we have.

Also, in part since my IQ is much above 100, I do like to say that intelligence does make a difference between people, and I cannot take people with an IQ below 100 very serious, at least where the use of their rational intellect is concerned.

My second point is that thanks to Facebook (especially) and the internet everybody who has a computer of any kind that is connected to the internet thereby is almost certainly in almost all cases more or less fully known to (i) the secret services of any country and to (ii) Facebook, Google, and a few others who like to know everything about anyone in order to send them "personalized advertisements".

This means also that in the last 20 years the number of publishers has increased from several tens of millions (mostly with access to the paper press) to several billions (with access to an internet computer), and this has spectacularly diminished the average quality of publications (which these days often happen by Tweets, i.e. they are limited to a few hundred characters, which is enough to scream loud, to offend, and to write cheap grandiosities, but not enough to argue in a rational and reasonable fashion).

Together, these two points seem to explain rather a lot of what Atcheson is - quite correctly, in my view - complaining about.

Here is some more from the article:

And by the way, this is a bipartisan affront to sanity. Go to any campus and you’ll see so-called liberals in high dudgeon about some egregious comment someone made, or demanding “safe rooms” because some comedian is coming who might somehow injure them with a bit of humor at the expense of some sacred cow or other – like maybe needing a safe room.

I am quite willing to believe this, and my reasons are in my explanation above. Here is some more:

Conservatives who employ outrage are attempting to substitute emotional intensity for reality, to give weight to the weightless.  But because the press responds as if it were important that someone was outraged, or that someone reacted hysterically to a minor provocation, their attempts are all too often successful.

Liberals who exhibit outrage might be trying to inject an element of social justice into the national debate – to substitute outrage for the kind of collective action that’s been missing from the progressive movement until recently.  More often, they are attempts to make other liberals hew their line and accept their orthodoxy.

Again I am quite willing to believe this - and point again to my explanation above.

Here is one last bit that I quote from this article:

It’s worth remembering that not too long ago – through the 70’s, in fact -- the press and media were barred from holding monopoly positions in news markets; they had to present a variety of perspectives; and they had to provide an opportunity for opposing viewpoints. We still had our share of yellow journalism, but those standards kept it at a minimum, and assured that counter-arguments were presented on outlets like Fox (which didn’t exist until the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned).  Faux outrage stood little chance of gaining traction in such an environment.

Today, if you want to get a headline – or get one kicked off the front page – you just need to shout out something outrageous, or feign outrage

Yes, I agree, but I point again to my explanation above. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. New York Sues Big Pharma for Opioid Crisis

This article is by Mark Steiner on Naked Capitalism, and originally on The Real News Network. It starts as follows - o, and the "A.G."= the Attorney General:

MARC STEINER: Not only do they manufacture the opioids, and not only do they lie to physicians about their addictive nature, they’ve also profited off of addiction treatment. And now, the New York A.G. has them in her sights.

I’m Marc Steiner and welcome to The Real News. Good to have you with us. We recently covered the accusations against the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma for their role in fueling the opioid addiction crisis. It has only intensified since our last conversation. Now with New York Attorney General Letitia James filing a complaint about systemic fraud not only on the part of the Sacklers, eight of whom are named in the complaint, but also a number of other companies that were in collusion to push opioids, fueling the addiction crisis, and attempting to profit off addiction recovery, as well
We’re joined once again by Bill Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, white-collar criminologist, former financial regulator, author of the book The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, and of course, a regular contributor here at The Real News.

Yes indeed (and here is some more on Bill Black).

Here is some more that explains part of the concerns about opioids:

NEWS CLIP: Opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, are highly addictive. Purdue changed that perception through a devious but very effective marketing campaign that attempted to persuade physicians of all specialties that this hundred plus years of medical wisdom was just wrong.

MARC STEINER: So his is where it all began, but this now is really unfolding into being a much more complex case.

Yes indeed, that is true, but it should have been added that Purdue and the Sacklers were much helped in this by the corruption of some leading physicians (now millionaires).

Here is more:

BILL BLACK: Sure. So highly addictive substances that in small quantities can kill you, are obviously something that should be treated with enormous care, and should be prescribed only in unusual circumstances, and should be extraordinarily closely monitored. But of course, you don’t make anywhere near as much money as the drug manufacturer if that’s true. So the drug manufacturers got together with the pain doctors, not all of them but some entrepreneurs, and they tried to change that perception. So one thing they ginned up was a fake study. It was not peer-reviewed. It was not scientific in any way. They looked at about 30 folks and they said look, we don’t see addiction. And so, they actually conned the F.D.A. for a time into allowing a statement that says, “if used as prescribed, is not addictive.” In fact, it was quite addictive when used as prescribed. And of course, it’s often used not as prescribed and it’s extraordinarily addictive in those circumstances. Pain doctors started routinely asking you and they eventually trained general physicians, internal medicine types, to tell me on a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain you’re in. And then it became normal to give you this substance because after all, it wasn’t addictive. And it’s a very powerful high that it delivers in those circumstances. And so, this began the whole process of creating an addiction epidemic. And now, many years later, it is a leading cause of death in the United States, certainly preventable deaths. We get about 70,000 lives lost every year due to overdoses and roughly 40,000 of them are in opioids.

Yes indeed: I think the above is all true - and loosing 70,000 lives each year to "overdoses" means that each year more Americans die from overdoses than Americans died in the whole Vietnam war (between 59,000 and 60,000).

Here is the attorney general from New York:

LETITIA JAMES: In an effort to address the very root of this crisis, today, my office filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit against the very companies and the family behind them– those who make, distribute, and have misled the American people about the true dangers of these drugs. The following manufacturers of opioids: Purdue, Janssen, Mallinckrodt, Endo, Teva, and Allergan, have grossly misled the public about the true risks and dangers associated with opioids.

Very good, and also quite true. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

BILL BLACK: Well what should come is that they should bankrupt all of these companies, get them out of the business, and sue the individuals to the ends of the earth and make sure that they don’t end up with any of the proceeds. As you say, if the documents are accurate, it’s one of the most depraved and cynical means of literally profiting from killing your customers. And remember, this is done all the time in tobacco. It was established, it was proved that that was the tobacco strategy. So why should we be surprised that it’s the strategy here?

MARC STEINER: Right. So basically in one sense, if capitalism itself is not kind of contained or regulated, it will maybe destroy itself with the rest of us along with it.

Yes, I quite agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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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