August 1, 2015
Crisis:  Julian  Assange,  Krugman on China,  Trump  & U.S. Education

"They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- 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

Prev- crisis -Next


Kafka-like Persecution of Julian Assange
Paul Krugman: China's Leaders Have No Idea What They
     Are Doing


This is a Nederlog of Saturday August 1, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 3 items with 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about a good article by John Pilger about Julian Assange; item 2 is about an article by Krugman about China; and item 3 is nominally about what makes Donald Trump so popular, but really is here because it lists a few facts about education in the U.S.A.

There also is a longer file from earlier today -
Autobiografie 1986 - Jolanda - but that is a Dutch file in the series that sketches my autobiography. This one sketches my life in 1986.

Kafka-like Persecution of Julian Assange

The first article of today is by John Pilger (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews (and also on John Pilger's site, where it is called "Assange: the untold story of an epic struggle for justice"):
It starts like this:

The siege of Knightsbridge is both an emblem of gross injustice and a grueling farce. For three years, a police cordon around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. It has cost £12 million (about $18.7 million). The quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His “crime” is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange is about to flare again as it enters a dangerous stage. From Aug. 20, three quarters of the Swedish prosecutor’s case against Assange regarding sexual misconduct in 2010 will disappear as the statute of limitations expires. At the same time Washington’s obsession with Assange and WikiLeaks has intensified. Indeed, it is vindictive American power that offers the greatest threat – as Chelsea Manning and those still held in Guantanamo can attest.

I say: after five years. A little further on, there is this:
WikiLeaks continues to expose criminal activity by the U.S., having just published top secret U.S. intercepts – U.S. spies’ reports detailing private phone calls of the presidents of France and Germany, and other senior officials, relating to internal European political and economic affairs.

None of this is illegal under the U.S. Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistleblowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal.” In 2012, the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama boasted on its website that he had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other U.S. presidents combined.

Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had pronounced the whisletblower guilty. He was subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison, having been tortured during his long pre-trial detention.

Few doubt that should the U.S. government get its hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. Threats of the capture and assassination of Assange became the currency of the political extremes in the U.S. following Vice President Joe Biden’s preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a “cyber-terrorist.”
And there is considerably more in the article,  some of which is almost certainly news for you (as it was for me). This is a recommended article.

Paul Krugman: China's Leaders Have No Idea What They Are Doing

The next article is by Janet Allon on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

Paul Krugman turns his attention to China in Friday's column, and determines that despite Donald Trump's assertion that China is "eating our lunch," the country's leaders have no idea what they are doing. Politicians who happen to preside over booms (Jeb Bush) tend to take credit for those booms, Krugman points out. China is no exception.

"This is the context in which you need to understand the strange goings-on in China’s stock market," he writes. "In and of itself, the price of Chinese equities shouldn’t matter all that much. But the authorities have chosen to put their credibility on the line by trying to control that market — and are in the process of demonstrating that, China’s remarkable success over the past 25 years notwithstanding, the nation’s rulers have no idea what they’re doing."

Let me first explain why this article is reviewed here: Because it is about China, which currently is one of the biggest economies in the world, that also has been growing a lot the last ten years, at least. Therefore, what effeccts China in a major way, effects the rest of the world. (And for the same reason I paid attention to China before: See here and here. There is more in the 2015 index.)

As to what the Chinese leaders are doing: They are trying to influence the Chinese stock market, possibly - at least: this is one explanation I have read - because many of its investors do not have much money.

There is considerably more in the article, that I leave to your interests, apart from this summary at the end:
The response has been an "an all-out effort to prop up stock prices," Krugman continues, which might be a good strategy for a couple of days, but not something to be sustained. Here is the irony: "It also looks as if the Chinese government, having encouraged citizens to buy stocks, now feels that it must defend stock prices to preserve its reputation. And what it’s ending up doing, of course, is shredding that reputation at record speed."


The next article is by Robert Paul Wolff (<- Wikipedia) on his blog:
Actually, although there is a bit of explanation about Trump and his popularity at the end, I selected this mostly because I wanted some facts. Here is the first:
In the United States today, roughly two-thirds of all adult men and women do not have four-year college degrees -- Bachelor's Degrees, as they are called in America.  When I went off to college in 1950, only five percent of adults had college degrees.  The number has been rising more or less steadily in the sixty-five years since, so among adults in the cohort of Americans in their forties or fifties, to which most of the Focus Group participants appeared to belong, many more than two-thirds do not have college degrees.
That is, the proportion of those with B.A.'s rose from 1 in 20 in 1950 to 1 in 3 at present, which is over 6 times as many. I'd like to suggest that the people in 1950 got a considerably better (and more demanding) degree than the people now, simply because there were far fewer students, who were on average more gifted. If you offer a university education that is fit for at least half of those with IQs over 100 (which half the people have got, or less), it cannot be a very demanding education, for else there would be considerably fewer degrees.

Here is the other fact:
There are just shy of 2,500 degree-granting four year colleges and universities in America.  [Two-thirds are private, but because of the size of the big state universities, sixty percent of college students are enrolled at public institutions.]  If you can tear your eyes away from the two dozen famous elite institutions, you find maybe three hundred others that anyone has heard of who does not actually live in the town where they are located.
That are quite a lot of degree-granting colleges and universities, but then again the US has over 300 million inhabitants (so it has less than 1 degree-granting institution per 100,000 inhabitants).

According to Robert Paul Wolff, anyone with any college degree from any of these institutions still is "head and shoulders" above the two-thirds of Americans that do not have a college degree (in terms of "educational credits", to be sure).

I don't know whether I believe that, nor do I know how much a B.A. in psycho- logy, economics, anthropology or sociology is worth, but it is true that four more
years of education will make some difference. is the anecdote Robert Paul Wolff tells to explain Donald Trump's success under the mostly none-college educated "working class Republicans":

There is a great old story about Jack Kennedy when he was first running for the Senate from Massachusetts as the fair-haired privileged son of his rich rum-running father.  As the story goes, he was campaigning at a factory in Southie, surrounded by workingmen. and he confessed that he had never held a regular workingman's job a day in his life.  One of the men around him called out, "Ah, Jack, you dear boy, you haven't missed a thing!"

Sometimes, those at the bottom take up one of those at the top as their hero.  That is what working-class Boston did with Jack Kennedy , and that seems to be what working-class Republicans right now are doing with Donald Trump.
Possibly so, though I'd say Kennedy was far more deserving than Trump. And is it possible that the difference in standards corresponds to a difference in education of the none-college educated "working class"? (For that certainly did not improve either.)

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