| "They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
| "All governments lie and nothing
they say should be believed."
-- I.F. Stone
| "Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men are
almost always bad men."
-- Lord Acton
1. Writers in ‘Free’ Countries Now Share Surveillance
Concerns With ‘Not-Free’ Brethren
2. 'Incomprehensible' Secrecy: Sanders Demands Release
of Trade Agreement Text
3. Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a
4. On M.E. and me
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 6, 2015.
This is a crisis log, at least as regards the first three items: There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a PEN-report that shows quite a few writers self-censor, because they are afraid their mails or writings else may cause problems with some secret service; item 2 is about Senator Sanders' - eminently reasonable - call to publicize the text of the secret TTP; item 3 is about an article of Robert Reich that indicates the dangers and the wrongness of secret trade agreements; and item 4 is - briefly - about myself and M.E.
The point of the last section is mainly that I seem to be doing something wrong, since I am not sleeping well and am getting more tired and less energetic, although I slept fairly well from September 2013 till December 2014, and felt a bit - not much, but a bit - better most of last year.
1. Writers in ‘Free’ Countries Now Share Surveillance Concerns With ‘Not-Free’ Brethren
The first item today is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
- Writers in ‘Free’ Countries Now Share Surveillance Concerns With ‘Not-Free’ Brethren
In fact, the last link - international survey - does not work. The real link is the following:
Writers living in liberal democracies are now nearly as worried about the government watching them as their colleagues in countries that have long histories of internal spying, according to an international survey conducted by PEN, a literary and human rights organization.
Brave writers have historically stood up to even the gravest threats from authoritarian regimes. Conversely, there have always been some who willingly censor themselves.
But the online survey of 772 self-selected respondents in 50 countries nevertheless indicates that the mass surveillance programs disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden are chilling freedom of expression – in some cases, nearly as much as in countries the U.S. considers repressive.
This is a 3 MB pdf file. Here are the general results:
- Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor
Response to “the government’s collectionWRITERS: 66% disapprove - 22% don't know - 12% approve
of telephone and Internet data as part of
PUBLIC: 44% disapprove - 6% don't know - 50% approve
1. PEN writers now assume that their communications are monitored.There is a whole lot more in the pdf, including many quotations of writers and a call (in fact: a series of calls) on the U.S. government.
2. The assumption that they are under surveillance is harming freedom of expression by prompting writers to self-censor their work in multiple ways, including:
a) reluctance to write or speak about certain subjects;
b) reluctance to pursue research about certain subjects; and
c) reluctance to communicate with sources, or with friends abroad, for fear that they will endanger their counterparts by doing so.
2. 'Incomprehensible' Secrecy: Sanders Demands Release of Trade Agreement Text
The second item today is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
There is also this:
With Congress on the verge of taking up the controversial, corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is demanding that the chief trade representative for the United States turn over the full text of the proposed trade agreement.
"It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it," Sanders said in a letter (pdf) sent Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. "Members of Congress must have the opportunity to read what is in the TPP and closely analyze the potential impact this free trade agreement would have on the American people long before the Senate votes to give the President fast track trade promotion authority."
Proponents of the pact, which would encompass 12 nations that represent 40 percent of the global economy, are pushing for a fast-track process that would hand over negotiating authority to President Barack Obama, who supports the deal. Critics claim the TPP poses threats to civil liberties, workers rights, public health, food safety, and global financial stability.
I reviewed Sander's essay here and I think he is right.
In addition, if Sanders' request is turned down, he asked Froman to spell out the legal basis for the denial.
"Please also explain why you think it is appropriate that the representatives of the largest financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, media conglomerates and other major corporate interests not only have access to some of these documents, but are also playing a major role in developing many of the key provisions in it," Sanders added. "Meanwhile, the people who will suffer the consequences of this treaty have been shut out of this process."
Just last week, Sanders penned an essay outlining the top ten reasons why the TPP must be defeated.
3. Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a Pending Disaster
The third item today is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
- Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a Pending Disaster
Yes, indeed - and such secret treaties are fundamentally undemocratic: The very least that is necessary, in any real democracy, and as Senator Sanders outlined in the previous item, is that the plans for the treaty are made public, so that the Senate can be involved (even though it will probably pass in the current Senate).
Republicans who now run Congress say they want to cooperate with President Obama, and point to the administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, as the model. The only problem is the TPP would be a disaster.
If you haven’t heard much about the TPP, that’s part of the problem right there. It would be the largest trade deal in history — involving countries stretching from Chile to Japan, representing 792 million people and accounting for 40 percent of the world economy – yet it’s been devised in secret.
Lobbyists from America’s biggest corporations and Wall Street’s biggest banks have been involved but not the American public. That’s a recipe for fatter profits and bigger paychecks at the top, but not a good deal for most of us, or even for most of the rest of the world.
This is the ending of Reich's article:
Well... of course it is all very good according to the "big corporations and Wall Street banks", including the fact that it is all a big secret that only they and a some U.S. government officials know about.
In other words, the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.
At a time when corporate profits are at record highs and the real median wage is lower than it’s been in four decades, most Americans need protection – not from international trade but from the political power of large corporations and Wall Street.
The Trans Pacific Partnership is the wrong remedy to the wrong problem. Any way you look at it, it’s just plain wrong.
But Reich is quite right that this is a "pending disaster" for most of the populations involved (many hundreds of millions of people, nearly all without any important ties to the corporations or the banks).
4. On M.E. and me
The present file is fairly short mostly because I am quite tired and have little energy, after not sleeping nearly enough at least three times the last 11 days.
This is quite disappointing, because I was feeling a bit better than before during most of 2014.
What is the reason? I don't know, mainly because the cause of the disease I have is unknown, as there is very little medical research in it (compared with other diseases with similar outcomes for patients, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis).
There are quite a few possible reasons, but I shall assume - I do not know with what probability - that I made some mistake in the protocol I am currently using, that did seem to help in 2014, but that indeed I started changing a bit towards the end of 2014.
So what I shall take now for the next two weeks is
Morning: 2 C, 1 Ca+D+K, 1 VM-75, 2K, 1 MF
Evening: 2 C, 1 Ca+D+K, 2K, 1 MF
and see how that works (and C = vit C, Ca=Calcium, D=vit D, VM-75=a mega- supplement, K= Kalium, MF = metafolate).
There will be more on this subject around January 25.
P.S. Jan 7, 2015: Added the K that I forgot to the supplements.