Dec 22, 2016

Crisis: European Privacy (?), Global Warming, Trump's Fraud, Chomsky, Krugman
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In Major Privacy Victory, Top EU Court Rules Against
     Mass Surveillance

2. Global Warming Already Is Causing Local Extinctions
3. Donald Trump’s ‘Half-Blind’ Trust Scheme Is Called

4. Chomsky: Trump's National Security Adviser Wants the
     U.S. to 'Go to War with the Whole Islamic World'

Has America Fallen? Krugman and Europeans Raise the

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, December 22, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a decision by the top European Court that looks more positive than I think it is; item 2 is about effects of global warming; item 3 is about what seems to be a Trumpian fraud that will enable him to continue to lead his businesses (via his children) while being president of the USA; item 4 is about an interview with Noam Chomsky; and item 5 is about Paul Krugman, whom I don't like (based on 3 1/2 years of daily reading), and neither do the authors of the article.

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in November 2016. But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. Since then it mostly wasn't (until and including 20.xii).

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/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [0]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: This was so-so till 18.xi and was correct since then (most or all days).

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

1. In Major Privacy Victory, Top EU Court Rules Against Mass Surveillance

The first item today is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The European Union’s top court has severely undermined the British government’s mass surveillance powers in a new ruling that could rein in police and spy agency investigations.

In a judgment handed down in Luxembourg on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice declared that the “general and indiscriminate retention” of data about people’s communications and locations was inconsistent with privacy rights. The court stated that the “highly invasive” bulk storage of private data “exceeds the limits of what is strictly necessary and cannot be considered to be justified, within a democratic society.”

I say, though I am also quite skeptical. And I am skeptical because I am a European and much dislike the European Union, and consider the parts of the
new European laws that I have read totally fraudulent. And since I have exposed this repeatedly, I will now only link you to the latest Nederlog in which I did so: December 12 last.

Therefore I am not optimistic, although the result is positive. Then again, here is a negative point: The "European Court of Justice" does not seem to be against bulk gathering of private data, which I think - indeed since 2005 (Dutch link) - is a neofascistic degeneration of democratic rights.

But let's first look at the positive side:

Camilla Graham Wood, legal officer with the London-based group Privacy International, hailed the ruling as a victory for civil liberties advocates. “Today’s judgment is a major blow against mass surveillance and an important day for privacy,” she said. “It makes clear that blanket and indiscriminate retention of our digital histories — who we interact with, when and how and where – can be a very intrusive form of surveillance that needs strict safeguards against abuse and mission creep.”
I say. But while I agree that "blanket and indiscriminate retention" is bad, I also think that (i) "blanket and indiscriminate gathering" of data - all emails, all phonecalls, of everyone, regardless of his or her legal status - is worse for this starts the whole problem (and this is not what a democracy is for: Giving
anonymous secret service persons the full rights to know anything anyone writes or says on the internet
: That is much worse than the extreme powers Hitler's Gestapo had), while (ii) the ruling does not seem to me to be doing much other than impose a few limits on (boldings added) "
the general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data", that (iii) also do not seem to be enforceable, for the secret services are secret (and mostly beyond the control of the courts).

Again, there is this:
The European court’s panel of 15 judges acknowledged in their ruling that “modern investigative techniques” were necessary to combat organized crime and terrorism, but said that this cannot justify “the general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data.” Instead, the judges stated, it is acceptable for governments to engage in the “targeted retention” of data in cases involving serious crime, permitting that persons affected by any surveillance are notified after investigations are completed, and that access to the data is overseen by a judicial authority or an independent administrative authority.
As far as I can see, the European court approved that anonymous secret service persons can investigate everyone in everything without any regards: Anyone might be a terrorist "ergo" everyone must be checked in everything that can be checked - but (the judges decided) while they can get everything from anyone, the state is also allowed to retain what they think they need. But "access to the data is overseen by a judicial authority".

I say - and I am still as skeptical or more skeptical than I was. In the end, the European Court of Justice seems to approve of general and indiscriminate gathering of all the data that anyone uses the internet for, and only articulated a few restraints that hardly seem enforceable.

2. Global Warming Already Is Causing Local Extinctions

The second item is by Tim Radford on Truthdig and originally on Climate News Network:
This starts as follows:
Climate change is already beginning to alter the natural world. A study of 976 plant and animal species worldwide—freshwater, terrestrial and marine—reveals that local extinctions have happened in 47% of their natural ranges.

This does not mean that species have become extinct: the effects are local. Amphibian species that once frequented particular ponds and streams have slipped away, meadow wildflowers have migrated, and once-familiar butterflies and bees have flown favourite nesting places, all in response to global warming.

John Wiens, an ecologist at the University of Arizona at Tucson, reports in the Public Library of Science Biology that he searched the biological databases for studies that recorded the “warm edge” of a species’ habitat: that is, the boundary of the range where conditions start to become too warm for comfort for any particular species.

He may not have expected to see much change, because as a global average the world warmed by just 0.85°C between 1880 and 2012. The forecasts for global warming this century suggest that—unless humans make drastic cuts in fossil fuel consumption —they could rise by another 4°C.

So actually this may seem to be a little exaggerated: It seems as if species have changed places, because the places they occupied grew too warm. (?)

Then again, there is also this:

The researchers looked at rates of habitat protection versus conversion in 825 natural ecosystems since 1992. They found 41 ecological regions in 45 nations in a crisis state: humans there had converted more than 10% of the remaining natural habitat in the last 20 years.

“An area of 4.5 million square kilometres, or about two-thirds the size of Australia, has been converted to human-dominated land use in the past two decades alone,” Dr Watson says.

“As a consequence of past and recent habitat loss, almost half of the world’s eco-regions now must be classified at very high risk, as 25 times more land has been converted than protected.

“These highly converted and poorly protected eco-regions occur across all continents, and dominate Europe, south and south-east Asia, western South and North America, western Africa and Madagascar.”

I say. And this seems much more as if the human species is going to destroy the earth they inhabit, which indeed I think since 1972. And no, I have seen very little to stop this the last 44 years: We're still on the path plotted by "The Limits to Growth" (<- Wikipedia) in 1972.

3. Donald Trump’s ‘Half-Blind’ Trust Scheme Is Called Absurd

The third item is b
y Nadia Prupis on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

President-elect Donald Trump’s team is reportedly considering setting up a “discretionary trust” that would allow Trump to distance himself from his businesses while still reaping their financial benefits—an arrangement that, as government watchdogs put it, is “inappropriate” at best and “a betrayal” at worst.

Politico on Wednesday reported that Trump aides were speaking with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) this week, indicating that the team is still attempting to sidestep ethical boundaries rather than abide by them. It’s the latest in a series of steps by the family that indicate they are selling off access to the president and attempting to profit off Trump’s rise to power.

Yes indeed. And here is the explanation:

In a typical blind trust, an independent financial manager takes over the official’s assets and handles them without input from the owner. Assets that are considered conflicts of interest—of which Trump has a historic amount—are sold off and replaced.

But, Politico’s Josh Gerstein writes,

with a discretionary trust, the conflicts almost magically disappear because the investments aren’t considered to belong to the incoming official at all—even if they’re producing a steady stream of income for the official. Instead, the assets are held in a trust that is often overseen by a family member who can, but is not legally required to, send revenues from the assets to the government official. Another benefit: there’s no explicit prohibition on the official talking with the trustee about the financial holdings.

“You don’t have to disclose it, since you don’t own it, Aunt Millie owns it,” Painter said. “And it cures your financial conflicts of interest under the criminal statute. ... If you really have a discretionary trust, you can participate in government decisions that affect those assets—if they let you get away with it.”

In brief, it looks like a fraud (<- Wikipedia) that allows Trump's kids to run Trump's businesses in Trump's interests, while pretending this doesn't matter anymore because Trump himself doesn't run his businesses anymore (which also may be a fraud, for Trump's kids can talk to Trump about the business they are running).

And indeed it is my guess this is a good indication of Trump's wider plans for his presidency: He will use it to enlarge his own fortune and his own power, and will use any lie to succeed.

4. Chomsky: Trump's National Security Adviser Wants the U.S. to 'Go to War with the Whole Islamic World'

The fourth item today is by Hafeel Farisz on AlterNet and originally on Chomsky.Info

This is too long to extract, but I will select a few points from it. The speaker is Noam Chomsky in any case.

There is first this about "neoliberalism" (between quotes because it is a propaganda term):
One factor that is common and which is very significant is the neoiberal program that was instituted globally, roughly around 35 years ago, around 1980 or a little before and picking up afterward. These are programs that were designed in such a way that they marginalize and cast aside a considerable majority of the population.
Yes, and they did this mainly by "deregulating", which is another propaganda term, for this amounted in fact to breaking down the laws that protected the non-rich from the depradations of the rich. Again, this was - more or less properly termed - not any form of "liberalism" (other than the freedoms for the few rich to plunder the many poor), but a form of either neoconservatism or neofascism (as defined by me).

And I think Chomsky is quite right this started around 1979/1980, with the leaderships of Thatcher and Reagan, though the rearrangement and dedicated concentration of the rich for the rich seems to have been started by Lewis Powell Jr. (<- Wikipedia) in the early Seventies.

Next, there is this about Reagan's propaganda:
(These are) images that Ronald Reagan concocted. Their thinking is that, the federal government is helping to put them in line ahead of me, but nobody is working for me. That picture is all over the West. A large part of it was behind the Brexit vote, in the United States they would blame Mexican immigrants, or Afro Americans, in the U.K. they would blame the Polish immigrants, in France the North Africans and in Austria the Syrian immigrants. The choice of target depends on the society, but the phenomenon is pretty similar. The general nature is pretty similar. There are streaks of racism, xenophobia, sexism, and opposition to gay rights and all sorts of things.
Yes, although I should add this is not just "racism, xenophobia, sexism, and opposition to gay rights", for it is in fact considerably more: Greed, envy, egoism, wishful thinking and willful blindness to any facts that oppose these.

And I am sorry, but while I blame Reagan for inventing these gross racist, xenophobic, sexist and other lies, I blame the millions he deceived as much,
for most of them cultivated their own stupidity, ignorance and wishful thinking rather than opposing them.

Then there is this on the ever expanding militarism of the USA:
Donald Trump’s position and that of Paul Ryan and other right-wingers is that we should sharply build up the Pentagon. They talk about our depleted military forces. I mean you don’t know whether to laugh or not. The U.S. spends almost as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. It is technologically far more advanced. No other country has hundreds of military bases all over the world, actually forces fighting all over the world. But ‘we are a depleted military force and everybody is about to attack us and we have to build the military more'—is that isolationist?
Yes indeed, and no: That is not at all isolationist. There is also this on the voters for Trump:
Take the Trump voters in the United States, many of them voted for Obama in 2008. Why? If you remember the campaign slogan, it was hope and change and they were voting for hope and change. They didn’t get any hope and they didn’t get any change, so they are disillusioned and now they are voting for someone else who is calling for hope and change.
I suppose this may well be true (but I do not know any percentages). Then again, I must say that if one was misled to voting for "hope and change" by Obama's lies, and "now they are voting for someone else who is calling for hope and change", I am sorry but the underlying reason must be mostly stupidity or willful ignorance: It is not as if there was no honest information about Trump. Everyone with minimal intelligence could find it on internet, though indeed not (or hardly) in the mainstream media.

Here is the last bit I'll quote, which is Noam Chomsky on religion:

Personally, it means nothing to me, but if it means something to other people, that is fine. As long as they don’t bother others. I don’t ridicule it, I don’t have contempt for it, I have respect for their views, but they are not mine.
I mostly agree, with two qualifications: First, I got a completely atheist education by complete atheists, and am very grateful, for I did not have to free myself from any religious nonsense fed to me as child. And second, while I agree mostly with the norm "[a]s long as they don’t bother others" it seems
all major religions do try to convert others, and do so mostly by nonsense or by scientific falsehoods.

Then again, I must say that I have no strong motive to combat religionists, which I seem to owe most to my having had a completely atheist education.

5. Has America Fallen? Krugman and Europeans Raise the Question.

The fifth item today is by Pam Martens and Russ Martens on Wall Street On Parade:
This starts as follows and is here mostly because I have been following Paul Krugman now for years (daily since June 2013); have hardly found anything worthwile to report; and found him a rather dishonest Clintonite, overall, who reminds me a lot of the Dutch frontmen of the "social democrats", who are in fact awful "neoliberal" liars.

Here is the initial bit on Krugman:

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman is raising a question in the pages of the New York Times this morning that has been on the minds of Europeans since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election on November 8: has America fallen?

Krugman’s column came two days after we had heard the following story from a friend: a few days after the November 8 election, a young man in his twenties got into a cab in New York City heading for John F. Kennedy International Airport. The cabbie asks why the young man is leaving. The student explains that he has been attending a university in New York City but his parents in Germany had called and ordered him to come home immediately. Their exact statement to him was: “leave immediately, America has fallen.”

In fact I don't say, for this is an isolated fact and indeed also one without any decent explanation. Then there is this:

In Krugman’s column this morning, titled “How Republics End,” he writes as follows:

“Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.

Well...yes and no, and especially for a prominent public person like Paul Krugman: Yes, there are parallels between fascism in the 1930s and the
arisal of Trump, but especially prominent public persons should know that
there are many different definitions of "fascism", and hardly any decent one
(that I found, and I seriously looked) of "neofascism".

For me that was a reason to investigate the definitions of "fascism" I did find (no less than 22) and to propose new decent definitions of both "fascism" and "neofascism", but Paul Krugman did no such thing.

Before turning to what Krugman did and did not do, here is something on a writer and an article in Spiegel International, that I reviewed - rather angrily, but justifiedly so - on November 25 last. I refer you to that review, while here
is a summary offered by the Martens:

In November, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine headlined an article: “How Much Mussolini Is There in Donald Trump?” The writer, Dirk Kurbjuweit, subjects Trump to a 14-element fascism litmus test developed by writer and scholar Umberto Eco. The fascism elements that make Trump’s rise to power particularly worrisome under the Eco test are these:

a “distrust of the intellectual world”;

“seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders”;

“the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups”;

an appeal to nationalism;

“the followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies”;

“transfers his will to power to sexual matters”;

amplifies the message that those in power in government are “out of touch” with what “the people” want;

“All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a talk show.”

Under the Eco test, the writer Kurbjuweit warns that “eight of the criteria apply, five do not and one cannot be determined yet.” Kurbjuweit also warns: “Eco did not provide guidelines for interpreting the results. But he did write: ‘It is enough for one of them to be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.’ ”

This is a more or less correct summary but it is partial. Here is one of my own reactions of November 25:


And then we get the following utterly sick deception and major lie:

If it is fascism, then it would be a disaster on a global scale. See above. But if it isn't fascism, it would be a defamation of Trump's voters to call it that, akin to accusing them of helping to bring a fascist to power and potentially driving them away from democracy forever.
This is utterly deceptive and dishonest bullshit, I am sorry to say: "Fascism" at this point has not been defined at all, but nevertheless Kurbjuweit pretends that he knows that if it (?!?!) exists in the USA, then we will be saved from it by the revolution (?!?!) he opened his article with, and if it isn't, then anybody who says so is committing "a defamation of Trump's voters".

This is total baloney (i) because "fascism" has not been defined at all  (so nobody can say whether or not it holds for Trump and (ii) "Trump's voters" are a completely anonymous mass of Americans, who may be characterized in vast majority, and irrespective of whatever else they are or may be (including fascists) as stupid and ignorant people who in the main have been deceived.

And it is deceptive and dishonest bullshit because it is bullshit (there was not even an attempt at a definition) and it is both deceptive and dishonest because the feelings of an anonymous mass of American voters are or should be completely irrelevant to the issue whether Trump is a fascist, and if so in what sense, and if not, what else he is.

We get to Krugman:

The problem with the New York Times, and particularly Paul Krugman, is that both fail to acknowledge their own role in fueling the Trump craze by serially embracing the crippling policies of the Wall Street Democrats and their gold-plated revolving door between New York City and Washington. Even when the majority of Americans expressed a desire to see the return of the Glass-Steagall Act to break up the power of banks on Wall Street, Krugman tried to push the story that Dodd-Frank financial reform was working. Americans fully understood that toothless financial reform was working quite well for the one percent in their penthouses in Manhattan while stripping wealth from the young, retirees, and the middle class across America. Americans fully understood that Dodd-Frank was an illusion of reforming Wall Street while empowering a massive, institutionalized wealth transfer system to continue unabated.

Yes indeed, I mostly agree and indeed started this review by saying that Krugman is a Clintonite. But I do not know the percentage of "Americans" who "fully understood that Dodd-Frank was an illusion of reforming Wall Street" (I agree it was), and suspect this was not very large.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

Neither Krugman nor the New York Times have owned up to pushing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton when it was abundantly clear that a majority of Americans didn’t trust her. They consciously made a choice to prop up Wall Street Democrat Clinton to the detriment of her serious rival Senator Bernie Sanders, a man who had served for a quarter century in the House and Senate without any of the serial scandals that had sickened the public to the idea of returning the Clintons to the White House. (See related articles below.)

Until Krugman and the New York Times publish an honest self examination of their own role in what Krugman correctly calls America’s “political nightmare,” they will simply be dismissed by millions of Americans as part of the scorn-worthy establishment elite.

I mostly agree, though I do not think this will much lessen Krugman's status in the mainstream media.

[0] 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 have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[1] I am saying this not because I want to offend but because I want to explain, and my own explanatory definition of neofascism is this:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

Also, I am rather certain that most (not: all) of those who style themselved as "neoliberals" in fact are neofascists as defined (even though they probably do not like the term).

And this is fascism as I defined it:
Fascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror, that propounds an ethics founded on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian, rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
See the following if you are interested: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. (This lists 22 definitions of the term "fascism", and critically reflects on them.)

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