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Nederlog

Sep 21, 2016

Crisis: Totalitarian USA, Apple's Exploitations, TISA & Neofascism
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Introduction

1.
Calls to Treat Terror Suspects as "Enemy Combatants"
     Push U.S. Toward Totalitarianism

2. The Ugly Truth Behind Apple’s iPhones
3. TTIP 2.0? New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known
     TISA Trade Deal
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 3 items and 3 dotted links: Item 1 shows prominent politicians in the USA are trying to introduce totalitarianism in the USA (in which they may well succeed, and will have succeeded if Trump becomes the new president); item 2 sketches how Apple got its riches: By exploiting the Chinese poor who have to work at least 10 hours a day for $1.60 an hour, and by refusing to pay any taxes in the USA (but it is all very profitable for all Westerners: less expensive iPhones); and item 3 sketches the TISA, which is one of the four ways neofascism is being introduced by the lawyers of the mullti-national corporations (via the TTP, the TTIP, the TISA or the CETA). [1]

Incidentally, this has just three items because this is all I could find that I want to review. And maybe there will be nothing tomorrow, though the probable reason will be that then I might have another part of my - Dutch -  autobiography.

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click twice to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. And it was yesterday still or again the case.) [2]

1. Calls to Treat Terror Suspects as "Enemy Combatants" Push U.S. Toward Totalitarianism

The first item
today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump responded to the weekend attacks by lashing out at Muslim immigrants and refugees, calling them a "cancer from within," while Democrat Hillary Clinton said Trump is helping ISIS to recruit more fighters. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called for the New York bombing suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, to be treated as an "enemy combatant" rather than be treated as a civilian suspect. "The idea that they should all be collectively punished … is, frankly, racist. And that’s what we should call it," says lawyer Ramzi Kassem with clients held in Guantánamo. "The notion that we should generalize ... military detention, extrajudicial imprisonment is not only absurd and runs against U.S. and international law, but it is the practice of totalitarian regimes."
I don't think I agree with all of the above (for one thing Rahami is of the same white race as I am) but I do agree that military detention and extrajudicial imprisonments are totalitarian, and also (it seems to me, who knows a lot about the subject) fascist or neofascist. (But hey: You can't censor Trump who censors everyone!) [1]

Here is the racist Trump:

AMY GOODMAN: (..) I want to return—to turn to the response of the major-party candidates, of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, who responded to the weekend attacks by lashing out at the Muslim immigrants and refugees, calling them "a cancer from within," suggested American security forces should follow Israel’s example in racial profiling. He said this during an interview on Fox News.

DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to have to hit them much harder over there, and we’re going to have to find out—you know, our police are amazing. Our local police, they know who a lot of these people are. They’re afraid to do anything about it, because they don’t want to be accused of profiling, and they don’t want to be accused of all sorts of things. You know, in Israel, they profile. They’ve done an unbelievable job, as good as you can do. We’re trying to be so politically correct in our country, and this is only going to get worse. This isn’t going to get better. And what I said is, you have to stop them from coming into the country.

Of course: The American police is exemplary and so is the Israeli police.
AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called for Ahmad Rahami to be treated as an "enemy combatant" and placed in indefinite military custody rather than be treated as a civilian suspect.
If so (I don't know, but Amy Goodman is usually correct), then all three are at least totalitarians (which doesn't amaze me at all), who also seem bent to redesigning the American laws (which forbid this, quite correctly) into a new (neo)fascist model.
RAMZI KASSEM: (...) Then, when you move on to labels like enemy combatant and even the label of terrorism itself, these are labels that really impede understanding. They blind us to other possible understandings of these acts of violence, ranging from the personal to the political to the psychological. As long as we’re obsessing over who to call an enemy combatant, who to label a terrorist, we’re preventing ourselves from gaining a deeper understanding of whatever the phenomenon is. (...)
As someone who’s represented Guantánamo prisoners for over a decade, I can tell you that the notion that we should generalize that practice, generalize these legal practices— military detention, extrajudicial imprisonment—is not only absurd and runs against U.S. and international law, but it is the practice of totalitarian regimes.
Yes indeed, but since I criticized "terrorism" already in 2005 (in Dutch) I again like to repeat that in my opinion (1) the concept of terrorism was introduced to allow the Western secret services to make dossiers about absolutely everyone - which they did (to the best of my knowledge, and according to Snowden: this is one of the many things governments keep secret for 15 years now, as if that is democratic), which (2) will allow each and any future government to select whoever it dislikes (on the basis of their secret dossiers, that few know much or anything about) and do whatever it pleases with them (as the prisoners in Guantánamo have been treated for 14 years now), including disappearing them without a trace. [3]

That is what I have been expecting for 11 years now, and while (2) hasn't quite arrived, it will arrive as soon as Trump becomes president of the USA, which happily isn't certain yet.

2.
The Ugly Truth Behind Apple’s iPhones

The second item is by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

New product releases from Apple often are a time for analysis, comparison and celebration. But the arrival of the iPhone 7 has brought unwanted attention to the company’s darker side of globalization, oppression and greed.

I must start this with confessing that the last time I liked Apple was in 1980, when a friend bought an Apple II (still with a cassette-deck tape to save your work), which then was a whole lot better than anything else that might have been called "a personal computer". (I don't think even that name was accepted, in 1980.)

That is meanwhile 36 years ago, and it wasn't the work of Steve Jobs, but of Steve Wozniak (the programming genius) who had taken care that, in 1980, one could write good Basic programs on Apple, with considerable commercial potential (for my friend taught himself quickly to program well, and soon had
a financial administration program in it, that he rented out to the Milky Way in Amsterdam, that used it for quite a while).

And indeed I never liked Steve Jobs: He seemed and he seems more of a fraud than of a decent programmer, and indeed he died extremely rich as well. (I do not know whether he was literally a fraud, but he definitely was so much bent on advancing himself that he did fraud Steve Wozniak in the late 1970ies, who let that pass. In any case: I always liked and admired Steve Wozniak, who is the true designer of the early Apples, and I always disliked and did not admire Steve Jobs, who was in my opinion only an - admittedly  very slick - salesman.)

In any case, here is how Apple assembled its extreme riches:

In a report from The Guardian, Aditya Chakrabortty says that Apple oppresses Chinese workers, does not pay its fair share of taxes and deprives Americans of high-paying jobs while making enormous profits.

I think Chakrabortty is quite right. Here is some more:

Apple’s iPhones are assembled at three firms in China: Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron. While Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company cares about all its workers—calling any words to the contrary are “patently false and offensive”—the facts on the ground show the opposite.

In 2010, Foxconn employees were killing themselves in high numbers—an estimated 18 attempted suicide and 14 of them died. The company responded by putting up suicide-prevention netting to catch them before their deaths. Apple vowed to improve worker conditions at the plant, yet in August, after reports surfaced that changes in overtime policies caused great stress among workers, two employees killed themselves.

I'd say that Tim Cook is - in his own words - a "patently false and offensive" liar. Here is more on the - Chinese - work conditions Tim Cook seems to love, because it allows him (and other high Apple functionaries) to become mega- millionaires or billionairs from 72 hours a week of forced working against the minimal pay that is standard in communist China:

At the Wistron factory, a Danish human-rights organization found it forces thousands of students to work the same hours as adults, for less pay. Students were told they were required to work if they wanted to receive their diplomas. Using young people to work is not a new revelation about Apple. In 2010, the company admitted that 15-year-old children were working in factories supplying Apple products. At a plant run by Wintek in Suzhou, China, workers reportedly were being poisoned by n-Hexane, a toxic chemical that causes muscular atrophy and blurred eyesight. 

At Pegatron—the other iPhone assembler—U.S.-based China Labor Watch found staff members work 12-hour days, six days a week. They are forced to work overtime, and 1½ hours are unpaid.  One researcher working there had to stand during his entire 10½-hour shift. When the local government raised the minimum wage, Pegatron cut subsidies for medical insurance.
But listen: The less Apple pays to the Chinese it exploits, the less a new iPhone needs to cost! The more Apple exploits the communist Chinese, the
less expensive Apple's phones need to be to Westerners! We Westerners all
profit form the exploitation by Apple of the communist Chinese (insofar as we buy Apple products, to be sure, which I never do nor did) - and isn't profit the one and only moral norm that Milton Friedman (who also supported the Chilean torturers) allowed?!

Here is The Guardian, that explains where Apple's enormous profits come from: From paying poor Chinese $1.60 an hour (instead of the 7 to 10 times as much it would have to pay the poorest Americans, if Apple's iPhones would have been made in the USA):

While iPhone workers for Pegatron saw their hourly pay drop to just $1.60 an hour, Apple remained the most profitable big company in America, pulling in over $47bn in profit in 2015 alone.

What does this add up to? At $231bn, Apple has a bigger cash pile than the US government, but apparently won’t spend even a sliver on improving conditions for those who actually make its money. Nor will it make those iPhones in America, which would create jobs and still leave it as the most profitable smartphone in the world.

It would rather accrue more profits, to go to those who hold Apple stock—such as company boss Tim Cook, whose hoard of company shares is worth $785m. Friends of Cook point to his philanthropy, but while he’s happy to spend on pet projects, he rejects a €13bn tax bill from the EU  as “political crap”—while boasting about how he won’t bring Apple’s billions back to the US “until there’s a fair rate … . It doesn’t go that the more you pay, the more patriotic you are.” The tech oligarch seems to think he knows better than 300 million Americans what tax rates their elected government should set.

As the second of the above paragraphs makes clear, exploiting poor communist Chinese workers is not the only way how Apple assembled more cash than the American government: Apple - whose profits are earned in China, not the USA, though Apple is from the U.S. - also refuses to pay taxes to the U.S. government, because it claims that the - already very low - American tax rates are too high for getting the profits that the very noble and most kind and goodhearted Tim Cook wants.

Indeed, here is some background on who are the richest in the world now: Multi-national corporations like Apple:
According to a new report from Global Justice Now, a group based in the United Kingdom, 69 of the top 100 economies in the world are corporate entities (an increase from 63 a year ago). Apple is one of those corporate entities. With $234 billion in revenue in 2015, Apple is the ninth-largest company in the world and is wealthier than most countries.

So I don't think I am saying something amazing if I say that I learned in the 1950ies that fascism is the rule of the corporations in the state, which went back to a Marxist definition of fascism from the 1930ies, that indeed is also not complete or adequate, but that did - very correctly - stress both the importance of the economy and of the corporations in fascism.

And I think I am justified in holding that a decent definition of neofascism centers on the role of the multi-national corporations and their exploitation of everybody who is not rich, in creating neofascism.

Then again, this is profitable to Westerners, and the Left is widely reported to be dead, while the right is said to be progressing and progressing in both Europe and the USA, where the multi-national corporations are grabbing more and more power after successfully deregulating most laws that defended democracy and the non-rich. Therefore, I believe that neofascism may very well be the future (and will be the future in the USA if Trump becomes president).

Would Tim Cook care? I think not. He only cares for his profits, so far as I know.

3. TTIP 2.0? New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known TISA Trade Deal

The third and last item today is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:
This starts with a sort of subtitle:
'The deal, a spiritual and practical sibling of the much-maligned TTIP and TPP free trade agreements, is designed to drive deregulation across the vast global services sector'
Actually, the USA has been deregulating now since the 1980ies, and I think myself that - thanks to the help of many corrupted politicians - most that could be deregulated in the USA has been deregulated, which meant that e.g. Apple (see the previous item) could export its production to China, while refusing to pay any taxes ("Taxes are what we pay for civilized society", according to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.), though indeed by far not Apple alone. But let's concentrate on Apple for a few seconds:

(1) Apple could transport its production to communist China, where people have to work for 10 to 12 hours a day, for $1.60 an hour, (2) Apple could transport most of its deals to Ireland (where the tax rates are extremely low), and (3) Apple doesn't pay taxes to the American government anymore, because - while it has more cash than the American government - it wants to force paying far less tax (than the anyway very low rate there is).

I think deregulations were used for this, and these days it is not so much deregulations that matter, but governmental power and the laws. Here is more:

Greenpeace Netherlands exposed the threats to democracy and climate action contained within the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on Tuesday with new leaks divulging several chapters of the clandestine global trade agreement. 

"It's a sad day for democracy when ordinary people are dependent on leaks to learn about the far-reaching consequences of toxic trade deals that are being cooked up behind closed doors," said Nick Dearden, head of the U.K.-based Global Justice Now.

And TISA is perhaps the least well-known and most highly protected of the imminent agreements: "Somehow TISA is also even more secret than the notoriously covert CETA, TTIP and TPP deals, with parties unable to release details of negotiations until five years after it has taken effect," Greenpeace observes.

I agree democracy is threatened by each of the TTP, the TTIP, the TISA and the CETA; I agree that it is a completely dictatorial shame that nobody but the designers of these new "laws" are allowed to read them; and I question why this threat to democracy and these sick and dictatorial practices are not called what they deserve to be callled:

They have totally ended democracy in that they already threaten to become "laws" while being mostly or completely unread by most parlement- arians: Why not admit that the new "courts" the multi-nationals insist on simply are neofascist courts (where only states or multi-national corporations can appear, and where most of the trials seem to be done in secret)?

Do they not because they believe in the reality of a communist take-over?!

I mean: It is a take-over, it is a revolution, if you can get rid of nearly all the laws that protected the non-rich, and can stop all democracy on the grounds that this stops some of the projected profits of multi- nationals?!

Which if correct - that they stop some of the projected profits, much rather than that this terminates democratic government and democratic laws - will be used to convict the inhabitants of the nations whose democratic plans might have entailed some lesser profits of multi-nationals, to pay hundreds of millions or several billions out of their taxes to the multi- nationals in punishments because they lessened the profits of the multi- nationals?!

Here is some more:

These latest leaks "confirm what civil society groups, trade unions, and consumer watch dogs across the world have been warning against, that TISA is a turbo-charged privatization and deregulation deal that will enormously benefit corporations at the expense of ordinary people and democracy itself," Dearden added.

Indeed, the leaks from the highly secretive deal—currently being negotiated by 50 nations around the world—affirm that with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on the ropes, other such "democracy-wrecking" deals are looming.

If democracy is attacked - which is what the NAFTA did, and the TTP, the TTIP, the TISA and the CETA all do - and if this happens by projected "laws" that are kept mostly secret until they are law, then what is happening is a revolutionary attack on democracy, that is financed by the multi- national corporations, set up and designed by their lawyers, and is designed to introduce a kind of neofascism in which only profit is a moral norm (and the more the better), and where nearly all poitical powers are in the hands of the very rich and their multi-national corporations.

I cannot see where I am mistaken in the above analysis - exept of course that I call it by the perfectly adequate but very politically incorrect term "neofascism", of course (which may make me a criminal: one should not offend the very rich).

This is what Greenpeace (Netherlands?) thinks:

"The deal, a spiritual and practical sibling of the much-maligned TTIP and TPP free trade agreements, is designed to drive deregulation across the vast global services sector," observes Greenpeace, "increasing international trade in everything from banking to energy services."

I say again: No, it is not so much deregulation that is the end, for deregulations have been going on for 35 years now: It is a real social revolution that is the end, in which the muti-national corporations will
have all powers, and much more than any government, which they also
can stop in any act if that act threatens their projected profits.

Also, this real social revolution is to be introduced by the very means it furthers: The neofascists who designed these new "laws" do not allow anyone to read these new "laws", or to criticize these new "laws", until these new "laws" have been driven through parliaments everywhere without being properly read by anyone, and without (hardly) any criticism.

That is what I see happening, since 2005 at the latest (accompanied by the also fascistic end of getting secret dossiers on absolutely everyone, that are being gathered now in secret by plenty of secret services, whose acts, motives and persons are all secret, apart from Snowden and the Wikipedia).

Here is the last bit I will quote:

Greenpeace also notes that while going "[w]idely unnoticed by the public, TISA could be finalized by the end of this year."

"We now know that TISA will undermine COP21, further deregulate the financial sector, stop failed privatizations being brought back into public hands, and undermine data privacy laws," commented Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Service International. "What else are our governments keeping secret from us?"

So the neofascist laws that hardly anyone knows may be "law" - thanks to Obama, I think, who is finishing Bill Clinton's work, and may hope to be at
least as well rewarded as Clinton - by the end of the year.

Finally, about "w
hat else are our governments keeping secret from us?":

How much
each of the politicians who support or do not attack this attack on democracy have been paid by the rich (though indeed the government may not know, although the secret services should know).

For again: This is a neofascist law that seeks to give most powers to the multi-national corporations, and that is being introduced in a neofascist way
by forbidding almost anyone but the lawyers of the multi-nationals to see what is in these "laws" before they have become "law".

But I am 66 and have no children, so I can say what I please, it seems quite unlike most others (and precisely as in the University of Amsterdam, indeed, where I was called "a dirty fascist" for 12 years because I was pro science and pro truth, and disagreed with the "marxists" who had the power. And then as well I was one of the few to protest, just like my parents both belonged to the ca. 1/5th of 1% of the Dutch who went into the resistance against the Nazis). [4]

---------------
Notes
[1] I am very, very, very sorry if I offended you by using such a politically most incorrect term like "neofascism", and I am so very, very, very sorry because even a fascist or neofascist like the nearly always lying Donald Trump is not called either a fascist nor a neofascist (by most: There are a few who do, but not in the main media), nor do most of the main media deign to inform their readers that Trump lies, lies, and lies.

It so happens that I am 66 and made one of the best M.A.s ever awarded, also without attending any lectures because I was illl while I studied, and am still ill; it so happens that I also got an excellent B.A. in philosophy, where I was then - completely illegally - denied the right to take an M.A.; it so happens that both of my parents were - intelligent, sincere, if not highly educated -  communists for 45 years, who both were in the Dutch resistance (as some of the extremely few); it so happens that both my father and grandfather were committed to German concentrationcamps in 1941 for resisting the Nazis. which my grandfather did not survive; it so happens that my father - to the best of my knowledge - was the only communist ever knighted by the Dutch Queen while the Dutch Communist Party existed, for designing and building an exhibition about fascism, resistance and concentration camps; and it so happens that a Leftist antifascist like me was scolded for 12 years that I am a "dirty fascist" by the - sorry, sorry, sorry - fascists from the ASVA, absolutely none of whom had courageous revolutionary parents like mine, nor did anyone there have my intelligence, nor indeed the quality of my M.A.

Those in the ASVA who survive (all neoconservatives, if I well understood, since 1991 (after the CPN was terminated, after the Soviet-Union was terminated) who object to my terminology can go to court.

[2] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (really: the KPN), simply because these haven been lying to me from 2002-2009.

[3]
For that is what I think since 2005, and nothing that happened the last 11 years has changed one whit about that. On the contrary, indeed.

[4] I am not certain how many went into the Dutch Resistance. I do know that only the Dutch Communist Party went into the Resistance - on May 15, 1940 - as a large group and as a political party, and that they lost 2000 members in WW II. I've read numbers that amounted to 18,000 Dutchmen in the Resistance (which is about 1/5th of 1%). It seems to me a lot, knowing Dutchmen, and knowing that immediately after the war 99.99% of the Dutch - according to someone who worked on the submarine of Piet de Jong (<-Wikipedia: He also was prime minister), who had escaped and worked for the English in WW II - claimed to have been "in the Resistance". Nearly all of them lied.

And indeed I saw the character of most Dutchmen in the University of Amsterdam, where for many years I was one of the few who was not a "Marxist" and not a "postmodernist", simply because the Dutch universities had been handed over to the students in 1971, and most of the students were guided (in Amsterdam) by the ASVA, in which everyone around 1980 was a member of the Dutch Communist Party (<-Wikipedia: good article, in English), while the ASVA had the absolute power in the University of Amsterdam, together with the Board of Directors who came from the "Social Democrats", from 1971 till 1995 (when the Dutch universities were taken from the students, since when they are again ultra-conservative, but still under "Social Democratic" - extremely well earning - leadership).


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