Monday, July 10, 2017

Crisis: Food, Anti-Russianism, US State of War, The NYT's Crap, G-20 Summit

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 10, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 10, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from July 10, 2017

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. Eating Our Way to Disease

This is by
Chris Hedges and starts as follows:
In July 1976, the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by Sen. George McGovern, held hearings titled “Diet Related to Killer Diseases.” The committee heard from physicians, scientists and nutritionists on the relationship between the American diet and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Six months later, the committee released “The Dietary Goals for the United States,” which quickly came to be known as the McGovern Report. “Decrease consumption of meat,” the report urged Americans. “Decrease consumption of butter fat [dairy fat], eggs, and other high cholesterol sources.”

“The simple fact is that our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years …,” McGovern said when the report was released. “These dietary changes represent as great a threat to public health as smoking. Too much fat, too much sugar or salt, can be and are linked directly to heart disease, cancer, obesity, and stroke, among other killer diseases. In all, six of the ten leading causes of death in the United States have been linked to our diet. Those of us within our government have an obligation to acknowledge this.”

The response to the report was swift and brutal. The meat, egg and dairy industries lobbied successfully to have the document withdrawn. They orchestrated new hearings, supplying a list of 24 experts approved by the National Livestock and Meat Board, so that, in the words of Wray Finney, then the president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association, the public would get “a balanced, correct view of this whole matter.” A new report was released in December 1977. This second edition insisted that “meat, poultry and fish are an excellent source of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals.” The Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs was abolished. Its functions were taken over by the Agriculture Committee. “The Agriculture Committee looks after the producers of food, not the consumers, and particularly, not the most needy,” wrote The New York Times.
There is considerably more, but I should say that I don't believe much of it for two general reasons: (1) the evidence that "your dietary habits are bad for you" is statistical, and (2) I don't trust this kind of statistics, basically because they are too abstract and too indirect.

Also, 1976 is over forty years ago, and in these forty years I have seen the fashionable opinions on what is good and bad for you in terms of eating change through 360 degrees, and back, and it was all based on "statistical evidence" (which - therefore - cannot have been very good).

Basically, my position on "the science of dieting" is that it is no (real) science at all; that it is moved by ideologies and by financial interests; and that you can believe very little that you are told with confidence.

2. Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession

This is by Rick Sterling on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

The U.S. mainstream media and Democratic Party politicians have built a major “scandal” out of accusing Russia of “meddling” in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump win the presidency and possibly even colluding with his campaign to do so. The charges began as “allegations” but now are routinely asserted as facts.

The Washington Post recently ran a long article claiming all the above plus saying the operation was directed by Russian President Putin himself and implying not enough has been done to “punish” Russia. The July-August 2017 edition of Mother Jones magazine features an article headlined “We Already Know Trump Betrayed America. Collusion? Maybe. Active Enabling? Definitely.”

Is this effort to indict Russia and condemn Trump based on facts or political opportunism? Does it help or hurt the progressive cause of peace with justice? Following are major problems with the “anti-Russia” theme, starting with the lack of clear evidence.

And the ten problems that Rick Sterling raises and discusses are these - and I provide only the problems, and not his discussions of them, that you can read by clicking the last bold link:

1) Evidence from CrowdStrike is dubious.
2) The Steele Dossier looks fictitious.
3) The “assessment” from several (not 17) Intel Agencies gives no evidence and seems politically biased.
4) The counter-evidence seems stronger and more factual.
5) The purported “crimes” have been wildly inflated.
6) The anti-Russia hysteria has reduced resistance to reactionary changes in domestic policy.
7) The DNC and Podesta leaks were not bad; they were good.
8) Social media criticizing Clinton was not bad; much of the criticism was accurate.
9) The anti-Russia hysteria distracts from an objective evaluation of why the Democratic Party lost.
10) The anti-Russia hysteria reduces resistance to neoconservative forces pushing for more war.

I think I agree with all of them.

3. The US State of War—July 2017

This is by Nicholas J.S. Davies on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

This is the state of war in the United States in July 2017.

The U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria is now the heaviest since the bombing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s-70s, with 84,000 bombs and missiles dropped between 2014 and the end of May 2017. That is nearly triple the 29,200 bombs and missiles dropped on Iraq in the “Shock and Awe” campaign of 2003.

The Obama administration escalated the bombing campaign last October, as the U.S.-Iraqi assault on Mosul began, dropping 12,290 bombs and missiles between October and the end of January when President Obama left office. The Trump administration has further escalated the campaign, dropping another 14,965 bombs and missiles since February 1st.  May saw the heaviest bombing yet, with 4,374 bombs and missiles dropped.

The U.K.-based monitoring group has compiled reports of between 12,000 and 18,000 civilians killed by nearly three years of U.S.-led bombing in Iraq and Syria. These reports can only be the tip of the iceberg, and the true number of civilians killed could well be more than 100,000, based on typical ratios between reported deaths and actual deaths in previous war-zones.

As the U.S. and its allies closed in on Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and as U.S. forces now occupy eight military bases in Syria, Islamic State and its allies have struck back in Manchester and London; occupied Marawi, a city of 200,000 in the Philippines; and exploded a huge truck bomb inside the fortifications of the “Green Zone” in Kabul, Afghanistan.

What began in 2001 as a misdirected use of military force to punish a group of formerly U.S.-backed jihadis in Afghanistan for the crimes of September 11th has escalated into a global asymmetric war.  Every country destroyed or destabilized by U.S. military action is now a breeding ground for terrorism.  It would be foolish to believe that this cannot get much, much worse, as long as both sides continue to justify their own escalations of violence as responses to the violence of their enemies, instead of trying to deescalate the now global violence and chaos.

There is more in the article. 

4.  Crapification at The New York Times

This is by Lambert Strether on Naked Capitalism. It starts as follows:

Yesterday, Saturday, I had to go the mall to make a purchase, and since the four-hour round trip gives me plenty of time to read, I bought a copy of The New York Times and read it carefully. I came away discouraged. There is a lot of ruin in a great newspaper.

I used to work “the newspaper business,” several careers ago, albeit on weeklies and in production. And I came away with the sense of what a wonderful production — all senses — a newspaper is; how intricately and carefully the pieces fit together, and the craft that goes into assembling the news into a pattern that’s easily grasped by the reader. Day after day! Indeed, hundreds of years have gone into perfecting the craft of composing pages, and I still feel reading a printed, broadsheet newspaper is a more productive use of my time — if comprehension and stories I would otherwise miss or skip be the goal — than reading on a laptop, let trying to get a sense of the news flow through the teensy keyhole of a cellphone’s screen.

Media criticism has the term “blooper,” an embarrassing error. Seeking bloopers is usually a mild form of voyeurism, where on-screen indiscretions by announcers and performers are detected and ridiculed. But bloopers can also be “technical,” as when the shadow of a boom appears in the shot, or the blood-spewing machine malfunctions. Naturally, the cheaper the show, the greater the chance of bloopers. I think the ongoing ruination of the Times is shown in the bloopers I am about to present. I’m going to start with some technical bloopers in the Arts Section, and then move on to what I might term Cognitive Bloopers in the Business Section. (I’m using images that I took when I got back to the house, partly because the images make the sheer scale of the times enterprise so clear, and partly to honor the craft of print production.)

I quite agree with this introduction, though my background is a little different. But I have also worked for “the newspaper business” (long ago, but I did), and being Dutch I read the leading Dutch paper "NRC Handelsblad" from 1970 till 2010 - after which I angrily stopped reading it, because it had been sold and resold several times, and had
in real fact totally collapsed as the - rather good - paper it had been between 1970 and 2010. (But it continued basically by
propaganda and pretense, and is now mostly selling
propaganda and pretense, also on a much lower intellectual level than from 1970 till 2010.)

There is a lot more in the article.

5. Was the G-20 Summit Really Worth It?

This is by Florian Gathmann and Philip Wittrock on Spiegel International. This starts with the following propaganda bullshit:

Unfettered violence. Unbridled brutality. Outside our democratic community. When Angela Merkel held her closing address on Saturday afternoon at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, she used clear words to denounce what had taken place on the streets of Hamburg during the preceding day and night.

Cars and barricades ablaze, shops plundered, water cannons in constant operation, injuries, devastated city quarters, heavily armed special police units: The images of the violence in Hamburg have circled the globe. And they stood in stark contrast to those of the 20 heads of state and government who, at the same time, were listening to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in Hamburg's chic new Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Classical music inside, clashes outside.

The question that must now be asked, which the chancellor must also answer, is this: Was it all worth it? Or was the price too high?

This is just baloney, and the rest of the article isn't any better. In fact, simply asking the question whether something was "really worth it" without specifiying worth for whom, in which terms, for which reasons, is pure propaganda. But this is the level of modern leading journalism.

Ah well...

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