June 1, 2018

Crisis: Jeremy Scahill, American Tariffs, On ¨Vietnam War¨, Big Pharma + Medics, Congress


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 1, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, June 1, 2018.

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 two 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 all well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 1, 2018:
1. White Fear: As the GOP Veers Toward Fascism, Establishment
     Democrats Face a Grassroots Insurgency

2. America Declares War on Its Friends
3. Veterans’ Group Says “No” to Emmy for PBS Vietnam War Series
4. “Behave More Sexually:” How Big Pharma Used Strippers, Guns, and
     Cash to Push Opioids

5. Did Congress Just Shut Down Trump’s War Plans for Iran?
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. White Fear: As the GOP Veers Toward Fascism, Establishment Democrats Face a Grassroots Insurgency

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. This is from near the beginning of the article:

Back in 2014, lawyers and human rights advocates who work with undocumented immigrants began noticing a sharp uptick in reports of abuse, neglect and other mistreatment of children, while in custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And the allegations were horrifying: Agents punching a child in the head, another kicking a child in the ribs, invasive and traumatic searches in the genital areas of teenage girls making them scream, threats of sexual assault, denying medical care to a pregnant teenager, using a stun gun on a boy, causing him to convulse and his eyes to roll back in his head.

In June of 2014, the ACLU and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School filed complaints with the Department of Homeland Security. And Agents punching a child in the head, another kicking a child in the ribs, invasive and traumatic searches in the genital areas of teenage girls making them scream, threats of sexual assault, denying medical care to a pregnant teenager, using a stun gun on a boy, causing him to convulse and his eyes to roll back in his head.

DHS basically did absolutely nothing with this extremely disturbing information. So, in December of 2014, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request. And last week, they released thousands of pages of documents. What emerged from these internal documents was a pattern of atrocious abuse and neglect. These documents are all — all — from before Donald Trump was president.
I say! Well... let me summarize the above:

(1) American police did this: ¨
Agents punching a child in the head, another kicking a child in the ribs, invasive and traumatic searches in the genital areas of teenage girls making them scream, threats of sexual assault, denying medical care to a pregnant teenager, using a stun gun on a boy, causing him to convulse and his eyes to roll back in his head.¨

(2) And this: ¨
Agents punching a child in the head, another kicking a child in the ribs, invasive and traumatic searches in the genital areas of teenage girls making them scream, threats of sexual assault, denying medical care to a pregnant teenager, using a stun gun on a boy, causing him to convulse and his eyes to roll back in his head. ¨

(3) All of this happened during Obama´s presidency.

I conclude this is psychopathy on a large scale from the American police (and no: ¨psychopathy¨ is not the same as ¨sociopathy¨ which is merely a sick psychiatric term for people whose norms or lack of norms, differ from the majority surrounding them), and it is extremely disgusting (for me, though apparently not for those who hold power in the USA).

And I also conclude that Obama was a fraud, like Bill Clinton was a fraud, and - it seems - in both cases for the same reason: Becoming president gave them - who both started as poor boys - the chance to become considerable millionaires (the Clintons are reported to have amassed around $120 million dollars).

In case you disagree: The vast majority of men, especially with some academic degree, want to get rich; ¨Follow The Money!¨; becoming president will very probably - these days, with support from the big bankers you support (who earn 20 million dollars each year, or sometimes considerably more), and with contracts worth millions for autobiographies, to mention just two sources of income - make you a millionaire; and finally the above considerations are all firm facts, whereas the only two things that would distinguish a president from a CEO are his morals and his scope of action, and the fact that the president is mostly paid after having been president, while the CEOs are paid as they are CEOs.

Anyway... here is the second and final bit I quote from this article - and both quotes are from
Jeremy Scahill:

Under Trump, it has now become official policy to literally rip children from the arms of their parents when they cross the border to seek asylum. This is not MS-13 and their kids. This is people fleeing political violence that, in some cases, has been aided, encouraged or caused by U.S. policy. They are separating children from their parents and sending them into detention.

And the Trump administration knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s deliberate. It’s done with intent. The point is to punish people who flee violence, to send them a message that we will shatter your family — and probably abuse your children — if you dare seek life for you and your kids. In fact, we are going to prosecute you as a criminal if you do. In one case, there was a 53-week-old infant who was taken to a court hearing without a parent.

It’s sick. Absolutely, pathologically sick.

I completely agree with Scahill, and this is a strongly recommended article, about which I have one critical comment:

I like it a lot to get written versions of these programs, for they start as audios. The reason is mainly that I read some 4 times or more faster than I talk, and besides, I like to be abled to move back and forward easily.

Therefore - also given the fact that I am ill and unpaid, and take care every day to provide  well-formatted Nederlogs - I would like to see versions with more than bolding as their single feature of editing. Where are - for one single example - the indents?

And I am asking this because I really like Scahill´s series on The Intercept, and also because it is not much trouble, and makes reading a lot easier.

2. America Declares War on Its Friends

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:
To hear the Trump administration tell the tale, it must hit the European Union, Canada and Mexico with steel and aluminum tariffs to stop Chinese manufacturers from flooding markets with these metals and, in turn, protect American workers. That’s a fantasy. Chinese steel mills and aluminum smelters will keep chugging away, and more likely, American farmers and products like Kentucky bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Iowa beef will bear the brunt of these new tariffs — even as the tariffs invite a trade war.
Not only will this do nothing to reduce steel and aluminum capacity in China, it will more than likely prompt the European Union, Canada and Mexico to retaliate by imposing new tariffs on American products, hurting businesses and workers across the country. The president is also effectively isolating the United States from its closest allies — the very countries it needs to work with to put pressure on China to change its economic policies.
I think most or all of this is correct. (But I am a bit doubtful that tariff will ¨do nothing to reduce steel and aluminum capacity in China¨.)

Then there is this:
Indeed, why would Europe, Canada and Mexico, which also suffer from Chinese overproduction of steel and aluminum, have any incentive to work with an administration that seems to care so little about the consequences of its actions on their economies and workers?
This strikes me as moral bullshit: The reason Europe, Canada and Mexico deal with the USA is simply that it is an enormous market for their products, and this will remain so whether or not there are tariffs on steel and aluminium.

But this is a recommended article because of the first quotation above.

3. Veterans’ Group Says “No” to Emmy for PBS Vietnam War Series

This article is by Mike Ferner on Common Dreams. It starts as follows - and I have a personal reason to include this in the reviews of articles I publish in Nederlog every day, that I will briefly clarify after the first quotation from this article:
A national veterans’ organization is weighing in on this year’s Emmy awards with a full-page ad in Variety, saying Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award.
The ad (attached) identifies what it considers the fundamental flaw of the PBS series: Burns and Novick “assert at the beginning that the war ‘was begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.’”  Questioned about this in a New York Times interview, Burns admitted that might have been “too generous to our leaders,” but he stuck by it.
VFP’s ad quickly responds to that “generous” remark, saying, “Even a cursory reading of the Pentagon Papers disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg,” (inexplicably missing from this history) “demonstrates the falseness of this claim of American innocence.”  The painful truth, according to the ad, is that the United States “rained incredible violence on the Vietnamese people merely to replace France as the dominant power in Southeast Asia.”
I think the national veterans´ organization is completely correct: Ellsberg´s Pentagon Papers completely refute the thesis that the Americans started them Vietnam War ¨in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.¨

Here is my reason to include this article:

I paid some repeated attention to The Diggers last year, and one of the important and leading (former) Diggers is Peter Coyote, who these days is both an actor, an enlightened Zen-Buddhist, and an anarchist, and he voiced the text in ¨Vietnam War¨ (as he did with many other documentaries).

Now I have not seen ¨Vietnam War¨ and will not see it (far too long, for one thing), but I have read a bit of Peter Coyote on criticisms of his reading the text for
¨Vietnam War¨.

Well... if the above information about the Pentagon Papers is correct (they and Ellsberg are totally missing from the film), and I think it is, I also think that the criticism of Coyote is correct. (And while there is no chance whatsoever of my being asked to read the text, I do know enough about the war in Vietnam to have refused to read a - quite long - text on Vietnam in which Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers do not occur at all.)

Anyway. Here is another criticism of ¨Vietnam War¨:
Another shortcoming in last fall’s series was it paid far too little attention to the millions of civilian deaths the U.S. caused in Southeast Asia, skips over the millions of people still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange and ignores some 700,000 tons of unexploded ordnance still lurking in the fields of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, still killing and injuring today.
Again I totally agree with the veterans. Here is the ending of the article:
VFP concludes its ad, just above an iconic photograph of protesting G.I.s holding a banner emblazoned with, “We won’t fight another rich man’s war,” by saying that if the Burns/Novick series is “crowned with an Emmy, this defective history of the Vietnam era will become required viewing for generations of young Americans—a seductive, but false, interpretation of events.”
I agree and this is a recommended article.

4. “Behave More Sexually:” How Big Pharma Used Strippers, Guns, and Cash to Push Opioids

This article is by Julia Lurie on Mother Jones. This article starts as follows:

Around 2015, just before overdoses sweeping the country started making national news, a pharmaceutical sales representative in New Jersey faced a dilemma: She wanted to increase her sales but worried that the opioid painkiller she was selling was addictive and dangerous. The medication was called Subsys, and its key ingredient, fentanyl, is a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

When the rep, who requested to go by her initials, M.S., voiced her concerns to her manager, she was told that Subsys patients were “already addicts and their prospects were therefore essentially rock-bottom,” according to a recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit that M.S. filed after leaving Insys in 2016. To boost her numbers, the manager allegedly advised M.S. to “behave more sexually toward pain-management physicians, to stroke their hands while literally begging for prescriptions,” and to ask for the prescriptions as a “favor.”

I say! And incidentally, before going on, this is extremely easily explained if you make one assumption about Subsys (and also about pharmaceutical corporations in general, but I mention these only between brackets):

The only thing Subsys is - really - interested in are its own profits (and they are quite willing to do almost anything to make their profits as large as profitable).

Note that this is about pharmaceutical corporations (which are extremely profitable, wholly apart from Subsys and fentanyl).

Next, because pharmaeutical corporations can´t sell their drugs directly to people, but need medical people to prescribe them, there is this about American medical doctors:

All the while, a handful of Insys employees were quietly filing whistleblower lawsuits, unbeknown to each other, alleging that the addictive drug was marketed to patients who suffered from all kinds of pain—not just cancer patients with breakthrough pain—and detailing dubious sales tactics: taking doctors to strip clubs, paying kickbacks for more prescriptions, posing as doctors’ representatives in order to get insurance to cover the drug.

Incidentally, there is considerably more about American medical doctors in the article. Here is my own estimate of Dutch doctors, indeed not because of fentanyl but because both my ex and myself have ME/CFS since 1.1.1979 (almost 40 years now).

First of all: At present, and after ¨a mere 40 years¨ I am allowed (!!!) to say she and I have ¨a serious chronic disease¨, which in our cases lasted 40 years at least.

We both fell ill 3 months after starting out studies, on study loans, and somewhat older than most students, and have seen - mostly between 1979 and 1983, to be sure (when the Dutch medics who worked then were better educated than the medics who work now, for the times for studying have been radically shortened) - around 30 different medical doctors, most of whom were what the Dutch call ¨specialists¨.

Around 27 of the 30, that is 90% of the medical specialists we consulted, concluded that there was nothing wrong with us that they could find, and ¨therefore¨ concluded that we must be either hallucinating our pains or else were trying to deceive them into declaring us ill. (This is called blaming the victim.)

None of them offered any help, whatsoever. Some were - quite clearly, and both my ex and I are very intelligent, with IQs over 140, which made it possible for both of use to become psychologists while ill while we were not capable of following lectures - sadists; others were so thoroughly immoral that I can only describe them (as a psychologist) as psychopaths; and of all but three it was quite obvious my ex and I were sources of their - very fine - ¨medical incomes¨.

Only 3 of the 20 allowed that we were ill. And this lasted for 40 years for both of us.

My own conclusion (which is psychologically and statistically speaking quite correct) is that

(1) 90% of the Dutch doctors are incompetent as soon as they are asked to judge illnesses which
     are not very common or not easily established with existing medical technology;
(2) 90% of the Dutch doctors do not seem to have humane moral norms, and that because
(3) like any Dutchman who does not have a medical degree, they are doing their jobs
     for the money, like any CEO, and NOT for the patients.

Also, since I have been ill nearly 40 years now, and have seen around 30 medical specialists, and am a psychologist, I am extremely sorry to conclude that the last three points are factually quite correct.

And my own conclusion since around 2000 (for I had the great luck of having found a really good - originally Chechoslovak - Dutch G.P. from 1986 till 1999, who very probably saved my life) is that it is far better for me to avoid Dutch medical people, for the simple reason that 90% is utterly incompetent for the disease my ex and I DO have since 40 years, also because quite a few of those my ex or I did see, were not normal in my psychologists' eyes: They had far too much power for the level of morals they had.

Back to the article, the USA and fentanyl:

Mother Jones combed through the five whistleblower complaints, as well as the complaint filed this spring by the US government based on the whistleblowers’ allegations. Here are the highlights:

Strip clubs and shooting ranges

Insys employees took doctors to strip clubs, fancy dinners, parties, and shooting ranges “so that the doctor then returns the ‘favor’ to the sales representative by prescribing SUBSYS,” Guzman alleged.
As I think I have made sufficiently clear, I think that around 90% of the Dutch medics also would love to go ¨to strip clubs, fancy dinners, parties, and shooting ranges¨, paid by pharmaceutical corporations, in reward for them prescribing fentanyl.

Here is more on American medical doctors and ¨sales representatives¨ for fentanyl:

Hire a sales rep “banging a doctor”

Sex appeal appears to have been a key tactic in driving up Subsys prescriptions. 

In 2012, Insys hired a new sales executive: Sunrise Lee, a Florida escort service manager and former strip club dancer with no academic degree, according to Guzman’s complaint. Burlakoff allegedly defended the decision, claiming, “Doctors really enjoyed spending time with her and found Sunrise to be a great listener.” He added, “She’s more of a closer.”

The same year, Insys hired a dental hygienist with no pharmaceutical sales experience, reportedly “to have sexual relations with doctors in exchange for SUBSYS prescriptions,” according to Guzman’s complaint.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, that is about how sales representatives enormously extended the market (and the enormous profits) on fentanyl:

“Pain is pain”

The Food and Drug Administration approved Subsys for a specific population: cancer patients suffering from breakthrough pain. Federal law prohibits pharmaceutical marketing for off-label uses, yet Insys’ marketing campaign centered on using the drug to treat pain in general, according to the US complaint. Guzman alleged that on a conference call with the Insys sales team, one often-praised representative demonstrated his technique for the others: “Pain is pain. It does not matter whether it is back pain or a migraine. Pain is pain and Subsys treats pain.”

There is a lot more in the article, that is strongly recommended, and especially if you have pains or fatigues that your doctor can´t diagnose and treats as if they do not exist: It is these days quite risky to consult a medical doctor, for nearly all work for money, and NOT for the patients.

And this was quite different in the 1950ies and 1960ies.

5. Did Congress Just Shut Down Trump’s War Plans for Iran?

This article is by Jamal Abdi on Common Dreams and originally on Defense One. It starts as follows:

In the lead-up to Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran deal, the President operated with near-impunity from Congress and the media. His nomination of Mike Pompeo, an avowed Iran hawk who worked tirelessly in Congress to undercut Obama’s diplomatic efforts and unravel the nuclear deal, met with some controversy but ultimately passed over the toothless opposition of Senate Democrats. Trump’s appointment of John Bolton to round out his “Iran war cabinet” provoked a handful of headlines but received far less media scrutiny than even Bolton’s 2006 recess appointment to a lower position in the Bush Administration. And in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s decision, it appeared he might also bully his way past Congress, the press, and Europe to begin escalating toward military conflict. But the tide may be turning against Trump and his “war cabinet.”

This week, Congress sent a message loud and clear to Trump: you do not have legal authorization to start a war with Iran. As part of the annual defense bill, a massive piece of “must-pass” legislation that provides the legal authority for the Pentagon’s operations, a group of lawmakers inserted a key provision to put the brakes on any plans by Trump, Bolton, or Pompeo to start a war. The language — drafted by Reps. Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Ro Khanna, Jan Schakowsky, Jim McGovern, and Walter Jones — amended the defense bill to state clearly that “the use of the Armed Forces against Iran is not authorized by this Act or any other Act.”

I say, though probably not for the reason you think: I agree with what these American politicians say - “the use of the Armed Forces against Iran is not authorized by this Act or any other Act” - but I am since many years under the impression that wars that the USA enter into must be approved by Congress anyway.

And if this is correct - it is too warm for me to check this now, and I am sorry - as it seems it is (in a democracy) then the above sounds pretty void to me.

There is also this in the article:
If the Senate approves the House’s language, President Trump would likely be forced to sign into law an acknowledgement that he does not have the authority to launch a war against Iran.
Well, yes - but with the Republicans controlling the Senate and the House, it will probably not take much for the Republican majority to go to war anyway. (In brief, I am a bit amazed.)


[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 2 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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