Jul 26, 2016

Crisis: Turkey, Assange, Big Pharma's Corruptions, Hillary-Kaine, ECB
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Turkish Authorities Are Committing Mass Torture in
     Crackdown: Amnesty International

2. Julian Assange: Choosing Between Trump or Clinton is
     Like Picking Between Cholera or Gonorrhea

3. You Won't Believe the Outrageous Ways Big Pharma
     Has Bribed Doctors to Shill Drugs

4. Hillary-Kaine: Back to the Center
5. How the ECB is Officially Above the Law


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about a - credible - report that Erdogan's Turkish government now is committing mass tortures; item 2 is about Julian Assange, and while I admire him because of Wikileaks, he seems to have adopted some attitudes I do not (at all) agree with (and I explain myself); item 3 is about the outrageous corruptions big pharma committed (which this psychologist who is ill for 37 years without getting almost any medical help finds easy to believe); item 4 is about the Hillary-Kaine partnership, which indeed is center right; and item 5 is about the ECB, which seems to beyond any legal interference whatsoever, rather like the Cosa Nostra, except that the ECB is more powerful, even less responsible and far richer.

Turkish Authorities Are Committing Mass Torture in Crackdown: Amnesty International

The first item today is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:
  • Turkish Authorities Are Committing Mass Torture in Crackdown: Amnesty International
This starts as follows (and doesn't amaze me at all):

The global watchdog organization Amnesty International says it has received “credible evidence” that the Turkish state under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is committing mass torture—including rape—in a crackdown following an alleged coup attempt.

“Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them,” the organization reported on Sunday. “In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.”

There is considerably more about the tortures and abuses in the article, but I'll skip them to arrive at this:

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week,” said John Dalhuisen, director for Amnesty International’s Europe branch. “The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention.”

“It is absolutely imperative,” Dalhuisen continued, “that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

I quite agree that the director for Amnesty International’s Europe branch can hardly say anything else, but it is clear (I think) that what he asks for, which incidentally completely accords with international law, will not happen.

What does happen, next to the tortures when one is imprisoned, is this:

Last week, Erdoğan announced that he is placing Turkey under a state of emergency, thereby granting himself broad latitude to take unchecked executive action. Invoking this state of emergency, the Turkish government on Saturday dramatically expanded its powers to incarcerate people without charge for up to 30 days.

According to Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director for Human Rights Watch, that decision followed the “mass detentions of soldiers, the suspension from their jobs of more than 50,000 civil servants, including 15,000 teachers, the forced resignation of more than 1,500 university deans, and a purging of the judiciary: 979 judges and prosecutors were detained, about 632 jailed and another 2,745 judges suspended.”

In brief: Erdogan is doing his best to abuse the failed coup to make his own government as strong as possible - which means he is changing it into a dictatorship that uses torture as its political instrument, as is also illustrated by his dismissing over 65,000 persons who very probably had nothing to do with the military coup (but who indeed may not like Erdogan).

This is a recommended article.

2. Julian Assange: Choosing Between Trump or Clinton is Like Picking Between Cholera or Gonorrhea

The second item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
  • Julian Assange: Choosing Between Trump or Clinton is Like Picking Between Cholera or Gonorrhea

This starts as follows:

Following the end of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump has received a surge in his popularity. He’s now leading Hillary Clinton 44 to 39 percent in a four-way match-up, according to the most recent CNN poll. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson received 9 percent, and Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein received 3 percent. But for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the threat of a Donald Trump presidency doesn’t inspire him to back Hillary Clinton. When asked, Assange said: "You’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea?”

It shows how much confidence Hillary Clinton inspires, though that is not my theme. As to my theme, here is Assange:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, you’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea? Personally, I would prefer neither. Look, I think—you know, we know how politics works in the United States. Whoever—whatever political party gets into government is going to merge with the bureaucracy pretty damn fast. It will be in a position where it has some levers in its hand. And so, as a result, corporate lobbyists will move in to help control those levers. So it doesn’t make much difference in the end. What does make a difference is political accountability, a general deterrence set to stop political organizations behaving in a corrupt manner. That can make a difference, because that changes the perception of what you can do or not do. And so, always—well, almost always, you should choose the principled position, which is to set a disciplinary signal about acting in a corrupt way, and take a philosophical position, which is our institutions can only be as good as our understanding of our institutions.

I am sorry, but this is just incoherent. Here are my reasons:

First, I agree "corporate lobbyists" probably control most politicians, both of the Democrats and the Republicans. Second, I agree (though this is not stated) that both the Democrats and the Republicans are effectively pro rich, pro TPP, pro TTIP, pro deregulations, and pro lower taxes for the rich, though indeed not for the same reasons and not with the same plans. Third, I also agree that what would make a difference is "
political accountability", except that it hardly exists (beyond Twitter).

But none of this implies in any sense that there is nothing to choose between the two main presidential candidates, while taking "
the principled position" - which is also said to be a "philosophical position" - will very probably mean more votes for Jill Stein and less votes for Hillary Clinton, which makes it more likely that Trump will be the next president.

Is that what a "principled position" should be happy with? I don't think so, for I think there is a large difference between Clinton and Trump, and that is that - while both very probably will be bad presidents - Clinton is sane and fairly predictable, while Trump is not sane and completely unpredictable.

You may disagree, but then you should say that for you (i) Clinton and Trump are equally bad and equally sane [1], and so (ii) you will vote for a candidate that will not win, but increases the probability that Trump wins.

Finally, a remark about the thesis that "
our institutions can only be as good as our understanding of our institutions".

I am sorry, but that is baloney: It doesn't say who "we" (as implied by: "our") are; it doesn't acknowledge that there are large differences in how institutions are perceived; it doesn't acknowledge that my (and many other intelligent persons') understanding of the institutions I live in is far better than my (and many others') power over them; it doesn't acknowledge that most institutions are kept up by people and their actions who do not understand much (that is adequate) about the institutions they do keep up (from most politics to most religions); and it doesn't acknowledge that knowledge about the various institutions varies a great amount (i) per person and (ii) per institution.

There are three interviews with Assange on the last Democracy Now, and I select one more bit from one other interview there:

  • Assange: Why I Created WikiLeaks' Searchable Database
The bit I selected is this:
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, WikiLeaks has become the rebel library of Alexandria. It is the single most significant collection of information that doesn’t exist elsewhere, in a searchable, accessible, citable form, about how modern institutions actually behave. And it’s gone on to set people free from prison, where documents have been used in their court cases; hold the CIA accountable for renditions programs; feed into election cycles, which have resulted in the termination of, in some case—or contributed to the termination of governments, in some cases, taken the heads of intelligence agencies, ministers of defense and so on. So, you know, our civilization can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilization is. We can’t possibly hope to reform that which we do not understand.
There are three comments on this I wish to make.

First, I agree - by and large - with Julian Assange on Wikileaks: It is very important; it does a lot of good; it is also quite necessary in the present time where the mainstream media have all sold out to the rich; and I admire Assange for creating and leading it (without always agreeing with him).

Second, I have said what I think needed to be said about his glib but false thesis about institutions, and in fact it is similar with the quite similar false thesis about "our civilization" viz. that "
our civilization can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilization is": No, for "our civilization" is carried
by a vast majority of persons acting in it who have hardly any adequate knowledge about the institutions, the conditions, the structures or the important facts that are important in these civilizations.

Third, the final thesis, that we "
can’t possibly hope to reform that which we do not understand" also is a fairly spectacular case of blindness. To illustrate, take climate change: Of course that is - somehow - much influenced by very many persons who do not understand it (well or at all), and who also may fanatically deny it exists.

It is the same with most other political and religious things, and that is also the problem: Politics and religions are very important in helping people to make choices, but most of politics and religion must be false or nonsense, indeed for anyone who has any intelligence, and quite regardless of his or her political and religious beliefs, values and choices.

So I quite disagree with Julian Assange, although I am also quite willing to agree that the differences are mainly philosophical (and not practical, nor about Wikileaks). What is his main mistake, in my view?

I think he believes that he is doing science when doing politics, whereas in fact most political acts are moral or ethical, and also are informed by moral and ethical positions, much rather than by science and scientific positions (which anyway are only open and known by small minorities).

3. You Won't Believe the Outrageous Ways Big Pharma Has Bribed Doctors to Shill Drugs

The third item is by Martha Rosenberg on AlterNet and originally on The Influence:
  • You Won't Believe the Outrageous Ways Big Pharma Has Bribed Doctors to Shill Drugs
This starts with a subtitle that is relevant:
Think lap dances, trips to the Caribbean, and countless free lunches.

Yes, indeed - but let me first correct a mistake that may be suggested by the title of the article: I am a psychologist who is ill since 1.i.1979 (the first year
of my studies [2]), and so is my ex, but after 37 years of illness it is still not admitted by most medical doctors that I am ill:

Either I must be lying or I must be insane is their opinion about me - which after 37 years of hearing that utter nonsense the main inference I have about most medical doctors is that most medical doctors care much more for the - excellent - money they earn with their craft than for their patients [3], and that most medical doctors that I have seen excelled at nothing, except that they were great liars. [4]

Then again, I am a psychologist (with an excellent degree, in spite of illness)
and I am ill for 37 years without getting any help or any rational diagnosis from nearly all the medics I have turned to for help, and while this explains my position about medicine fairly well, my position is simply too extreme to
hold for most people, or for most patients, or indeed for most psychologists:

Hardly anyone is ill for 37 years; hardly anyone has been as scabbily treated as my ex and I have been; and hardly anyone has a psychology degree as good as we do [5].

But no, I have lost virtually all the faith I once had in medical doctors (after 37 years of maltreatment by most doctors), and I have also lost virtually all the faith I once had in medical science, after reading now for six years about the horrible corruptions most doctors seem to live by: Medical science has been grossly corrupted by big pharma.

And this article is about medical corruption (which is very widespread, for the simple reason that medics are people first, and tend to like money a lot):

Doctors seldom have to go hungry at lunchtime when Pharma reps are around. Not only do reps reliably bring lunch and free drug samples, until fairly recently they wielded thousand-dollar budgets to send doctors on trips to resorts, golf vacations and to sought after sports events. No wonder the docs saw them.

But by 2010, much of the over-the-top Pharma largesse had ended. Not just because the press and Sunshine Act exposed the huge payments, naming names—but because practically every major drug company from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Eli Lilly, Abbott, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson to Amgen, Allergen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, Novartis and Purdue had settled a wrongdoing suit. Both doctors and the public largely viewed Pharma’s safety and effectiveness claims as “bought” by such extravagance.

I am willing to believe it declined (and there are some numbers in the article that support this) but from my daily readings of the blogs of some medical men I do trust the corruptions of big pharma simply go on, and indeed they also can go on because the above mentioned "sanctions" were much like the "sanctions" imposed on the bank managers:

They pay back a small percentage of the profits they gained, and are rewarded by "legal" regulations that do not punish any leading doctor, nor accuse any pharmaceutical manager, nor change any of the practices.

Here are some examples (of many possible) about how much medical doctors are rewarded these days:

According to ProPublica, Sujata Narayan, a family medicine doctor practicing in Stanford, CA earned an astounding $43.9 million promoting drugs for Pharma. Karen Underwood, a pediatric critical care doctor in Scottsdale, AZ received a walloping $28 million. Moreover, hospitals are also awash in Pharma money with the City Of Hope National Medical Center receiving $361 million and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation $22 million.

Pharma also pays doctors to conduct studies of its drugs often paying them for each subject they recruit and winning their loyalty because they are then familiar with the drug after monitoring subjects on it.
As I said: These are just a few of very many. Then again, while these are big corruptions, there are many more smaller corruptions, such as these:
The study found doctors who received even one free meal were 70 percent more likely to prescribe the brand-name beta blocker Bystolic, 52 percent more likely to prescribe the brand-name ACE inhibitor Benicar, 118 percent more likely to prescribe the brand-name antidepressant Pristiq and 18 percent more likely to prescribe the brand-name statin Crestor.

And that is just for a few drugs. It is - to the best of my knowledge - the same with all psychiatric drugs, and with very many patented other drugs, simply because the patents bring in a load of money, and the load of money
then is partially spend by big pharma to corrupt medical men and women to try to sell more of the patented drugs with more profits, in which they generally succeed.

In brief (and I am speaking here both as a psychologist and as a sick man for 37 years now):

Medical science and medical persons are very often grossly corrupt and quite incompetent, and this has systematically happened since the 1980ies because most medical persons are gladly corrupted (which they call differently, or course: probably they are being "helped with some money") while big pharma gladly corrupts (which they - you are amazed! - also call differently: probably "helping with some money").

And you may prefer to think differently, but then you have not been ill as long as I have; you have not seen as many medical doctors as I have; and you do not have a degree in psychology as good as mine.

I think it is a very great loss, but I am not blind. [6] And this is a recommended article.

4. Hillary-Kaine: Back to the Center

The fourth item today is by William K. Black (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:

  • Hillary-Kaine: Back to the Center

This starts as follows:

By picking Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has revealed her true preferences and shown that her move to the left on policy issues during the primaries was simply a tactical move to defeat Bernie Sanders. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. Clinton can talk about caring about the U.S. public, but this choice cuts through the rhetoric.

Yes, indeed. I never trusted Hillary Clinton (but that is nothing special to me: I never trust any professional politician, for I know nearly all are very common men with only one talent: To lie in their own interests), but for those who want some background, here is what her husband wrought when he was president:

The DLC leadership, which included President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, entered into a series of cynical bipartisan deals with the worst elements of the Republican Party, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Wall Street elites that:

–Destroyed Glass-Steagall (the New Deal reform that separated commercial and investment banks)

–Created a massive regulatory “black hole” in financial derivatives that Enron and later the world’s largest banks exploited to run their fraud schemes that led to the Enron-era scandals and the Great Recession

–Drove Brooksley Born from government because she warned about these derivatives and sought to protect us from the coming disaster

–Cut the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) staff by over three-quarters, destroying effective supervision of banks

–Cut the Office of Thrift Supervision’s (OTS) staff by over half, destroying effective supervision of savings and loans such as Countrywide, Washington Mutual (known as WaMu, the largest “bank” failure in U.S. history), and IndyMac. OTS was also supposed to regulate aspects of AIG and Lehman, but had no capacity to do so given the massive staff cuts and its deliberately useless regulatory leaders chosen by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

That was on Bill Clinton. This is on Tim Kaine:

Kaine, like Hillary Clinton, has embraced for decades the DLC/’New Democrats’ agenda – meaning they are allies of Wall Street. They embrace a neo-liberal, pro-corporate outlook that has done incredible damage to the vast majority of Americans.

Kaine is actively pushing to weaken already grossly inadequate financial regulation and pushing to adopt the indefensible “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP).

By choosing Kaine, Hillary Clinton is signaling that her new-found support for financial regulation and opposition to TPP is a tactical ploy to win the nomination before she “pivots” back to the disastrous policies that she, Kaine and Vilsack have helped inflict on the world for decades. She is playing into Trump’s claims that she is not honest.

Yes, indeed. And there is this on what the Clinton-Kaine partnership may bring:
And that’s just on the finance. On the economics, the choice of Kaine signals that Hillary Clinton is openly returning to her life-long embrace of the economic malpractice of austerity. Recall that Bill Clinton tried, in league with Newt Gingrich, to largely privatize Social Security. That is Wall Street’s greatest dream.

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended.

5. How the ECB is Officially Above the Law

The fifth
and last item today is by Don Quijones on Naked Capitalism and originally on Wolf Street:

  • How the ECB is Officially Above the Law

This is from near the beginning, and this article is here because I did not know this (though I am a European, who is "well informed"):

The ECB and all of its affiliated national central banks are, by law, above the law of national jurisdictions and answerable only to the European Court of Justice, provided they are fulfilling the functions and responsibilities assigned to them by EU law. This is particularly true in relation to bailouts of Europe’s financial institutions, an issue that is once again on the front pages, as the financial sector of Italy readies itself for a bailout of potentially biblical proportions.

No European institution is as immune from national law as the Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which was founded on September 27, 2012, as a permanent facility within the ECB to provide bailouts to countries that are in distress. It currently has an authorized capital limit of €700 billion, though that can be expanded at any time by the board of governors, and individual Eurozone member states are “irrevocably and unconditionally” required to cough up the funds.

I am sorry, but I must read what is being said in the first paragraph of the quotation as follows:

The ECB is completely above any legal control by anyone, because the only ones capable of controlling it, the ECJ, can control it only as long as there is nothing to control, and cannot control it in all other cases.

I say! And this is about the ESM organization, which sounds as if it is the Cosa Nostra, though in law:

Under Article 32 of the consolidated ESM Treaty:

“The ESM, its property, funding and assets, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall enjoy immunity from every form of judicial process except to the extent that the ESM expressly waives its immunity…”

To hammer the point home, Article 32 further states that:

“The property, funding and assets of the ESM shall, wherever located and by whomsoever held, be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation or any other form of seizure, taking or foreclosure by executive, judicial, administrative or legislative action.”

The same article also points out that the “archives of the ESM and all documents belonging to the ESM or held by it, shall be inviolable.”

It’s not just the ESM’s property, funding and assets that are inviolable; so, too, are its employees. To wit, from Article 35:

In the interest of the ESM, the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, Governors, alternate Governors, Directors, alternate Directors, as well as the Managing Director and other staff members shall be immune from legal proceedings with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity and shall enjoy inviolability in respect of their official papers and documents.

The above clauses provide the ESM and its employees with not just complete immunity from national law, but total impunity. It’s a recipe for rampant abuse of power and white-collar criminality.

In brief: These persons are Übermenschen (German for supermen): they are completely beyond any and all legal control, and can do what they please to do about the hundreds of millions of ordinary men they dispose over without facing any legal consequences; and their institutions are better protected from any legal interference than the Cosa Nostra.

Welcome to the neofascist European Union...

[1] I have recently "learned" that according to one crazy philosopher no one should say Trump is mad or Clinton is sane because The Great Freud taught us that (i) only psychologists and psychiatrist who (ii) do personally know the people they are judging, are capable and allowed to make such judgements - which means that almost anyone saying that Trump is evidently mad is transgressing the bounds The Great Fraud has pulled up.

First, the Great Fraud did not live by his own rules at all. Second, if this is serious, no one should be allowed to say anything that does not firmly belong to his or her own academic specialism, and no one who is not an academic is allowed to say anything.

I am sorry, but I am for free speech: Anyone is allowed to say anything - and if judged rationally is judged by the evidence he or she gives. And for me - I admit that I am a psychologist, but the same was seen by many others who are not blessed with A Degree in The Science of Psychology - Trump is not sane, and I do think I and others are allowed to say so.

[2] I am adding this because personal circumstances used to be relevant: Both my ex and myself fell ill in the first year of our studies (on loans), which handicapped us enormously and had no vision of any advantage whatsoever for us.

They are no longer: Everyone these days (when judged medically) has totally lost all his individual characteristics, and is only judged by his supposedly belonging to a group.

So my ex and I must be either liars or mad, because some of those who worked got off without working and getting 80% of their salaries by claiming to be ill.

I am sorry, but that is madness - but by the doctors, not by us. (And no, I have stopped argueing with doctors. These days I avoid the dishonest and the corrupt.)

[3] Given that I have tried between 1979 and 2010 to speak rationally with medical doctors, and could find just three out of the thirty I tried, I think I am quite justified to infer that for most medical doctors, just as for everybody else who is doing a job, the salaries they earn are much more important than the rights or the healths of their patients.

You may disagree, but only if you have been ill longer than 37 years, while the doctors mostly lied to you and about you, as happened in my case and that of my ex.

[4] I am sorry, but my psychological M.Sc. degree had an average of 9.3 (which is far higher than nearly anyone ever scored), indeed in spite of the fact that I almost never attended any lectures, while I also had (at age 28, briefly before falling ill) an IQ of over 150.

So no, most medical doctors I have seen (with a small minority of exceptions!) - mostly ordinary G.P.s or ordinary medical specialists - did not strike me as anything special, neither personally nor intellectually nor morally.

Also most medical doctors I have seen, although nearly all were paid, did precisely nothing to help me in any way.

Besides, while medicine used to be hard study which lasted around 12 years, it is these days a study which is very much easier to get access to than it used to be, while it now lasts 6 years to produce a medical doctor (from much worse human material than was allowed to enter a medical study 45 or more years ago).

It is no wonder that among the "doctors" I have recently seen, some struck me as so incompetent that I would not have allowed them even to enter a nurse's education 45 years ago: If their IQs were over 105 I would be most astounded. But they were "medical doctors".

[5] For my ex (who also still is ill) had an IQ of 142 and also got a fine degree, in psychophysiology, and after a lot of trouble because she also could hardly follow any lectures.

[6] It is a very great loss because both medical science and medical people have been grossly corrupted by big pharma, and because these corruptions are hardly undoable without a collapse of big pharma.

In case you want to know more: Gwen Olsen videos is a link to a series of videos by a former pharmaceutical representative, who saw through the bullshit and the corruptions she was supposed to serve.

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