Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Crisis: Biological Annihilation, Media, Chomsky, "Libertarians", Reich - On My Eyes

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 12, 2017 

    B. On my eyes

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 12, 2017

The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Era of ‘Biological Annihilation’ Is Underway, Scientists Warn

This is by Tatiana Schlossberg on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

From the common barn swallow to the exotic giraffe, thousands of animal species are in precipitous decline, a sign that an irreversible era of mass extinction is underway, new research finds.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls the current decline in animal populations a “global epidemic” and part of the “ongoing sixth mass extinction” caused in large measure by human destruction of animal habitats. The previous five extinctions were caused by natural phenomena.

Gerardo Ceballos, a researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, acknowledged that the study is written in unusually alarming tones for an academic research paper. “It wouldn’t be ethical right now not to speak in this strong language to call attention to the severity of the problem,” he said.

Dr. Ceballos emphasized that he and his co-authors, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, both professors at Stanford University, are not alarmists, but are using scientific data to back up their assertions that significant population decline and possible mass extinction of species all over the world may be imminent, and that both have been underestimated by many other scientists.

There is also this:

Conservatively, scientists estimate that 200 species have gone extinct in the past 100 years; the “normal” extinction rate over the past two million years has been that two species go extinct every 100 years because of evolutionary and other factors.

Rather than extinctions, the paper looks at how populations are doing: the disappearance of entire populations, and the decrease of the number of individuals within a population. Over all, they found this phenomenon is occurring globally, but that tropical regions, which have the greatest biodiversity, are experiencing the greatest loss in numbers, and that temperate regions are seeing higher proportions of population loss. Dr. Ehrlich, who rose to prominence in the 1960s after he wrote “The Population Bomb,” a book that predicted the imminent collapse of humanity because of overpopulation, said he saw a similar phenomenon in the animal world as a result of human activity.

As I have been saying: There are too many people, and in the 45 years I have been following this hardly anything effective has been done about it.

2. Former FCC Commissioner on How Greater Media Consolidation is a Threat to Democracy and Free Speech

This is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

As the Trump administration weighs the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, we talk about the risks of greater media consolidation with former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. He’s currently special adviser on media and democracy reform at Common Cause.

And here is Michael Copps:

MICHAEL COPPS: You know, it’s just giving too much power to one company, a power that no one company should be able to exercise in a democracy like ours. We’ve gotten to the point now, with the Trump administration and the new FCC, where just about any merger proposal is possible. It used to be, four, five years ago, you know, we’d say, "Well, that merger is so off the charts that nobody would ever consider it." I think that’s gone. Wall Street loves these mergers. But you have to stop and think about the price we are paying for that. They cost billions of dollars. And the first thing they do after the FCC rubber-stamps the proposal is: "Where can we make economies? Oh, how about the newsroom? Let’s shut down the local station newsroom that we’re buying, or let’s consolidate two or three voices into one voice." So, it really is a democracy issue and a free speech issue.

Here is more:

MICHAEL COPPS: Well, fake news is a difficult problem to handle, but I think the best way to do it is to get some real news, to rebuild journalism, to find a model for journalism on the internet, if the internet is really going to be our democratic tool of the future. There is no model there to sustain broadly based investigative journalism. So real news is part of the answer. Media literacy is part of the answer, so training kids—you know, I’m in favor of a K-through-12 media literacy program in the United States, so kids know what’s reliable and what’s not, where they should go on the internet for facts and all of that. And then it’s up to people like you. And you do a wonderful job of it, and some others, too, but not mainstream media, in pointing out what is—what is fake.

But most of all, we need—we need to have an informed citizenry in order to defend our ability to practice self-government. And we’re getting perilously close to not having that now. So, this diminishment of journalism that we’ve seen in mainstream media and our inability to craft a model on new media of the internet to bring reporters back is really costing us. I mean, we’ve lost probably a third to a half of our newsroom employees since the year 2000.
I am sorry:

(1) The internet is not going to be our democratic tool of the future:

It seems basically designed (long ago) for spying on everyone, and has created the secret services that know everything about anyone (not in the sense of knowing-by-humans, but in the sense ofhaving-available-to-humans-in-secret-services). For more see this:
Crisis: propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968.

(2) As to "media literacy": That never existed and does not exist for the great majority of any population of any country.

(3) As to "informed citizenry": That also
never existed, at least not if you qualify this by "rationally informed".

3. Noam Chomsky to Chris Hedges: ‘Everywhere You Look, There’s Public Subsidy’ (Video)

This is by Chris Hedges, and is part two of two interviews. Part one was reviewed under the last link. This has the following introduction:

In the second part of renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky’s recent conversation about his latest book, “Requiem for the American Dream,” with Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, the author explains how the banking, fossil fuel and tech sectors all profit immensely from taxpayer dollars. They also discuss a range of topics including the importance of political solidarity and the damage that gerrymandering has done to American democracy.

The interview is here: On Contact: Noam Chomsky - Part II. This is quite interesting and quite clear. Recommended!

4. This Libertarian Strategy to Make America as Screwed-Up as Texas

This is by Mark Karlin on AlterNet and originally on Truthout. It starts as follows:

When and how were the seeds sown for the modern far-right's takeover of American politics? Nancy MacLean reveals the deep and troubling roots of this secretive political establishment -- and its decades-long plan to change the rules of democratic governance -- in her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. Get your copy by making a donation to Truthout now!

And there is this in it:

Mark Karlin: Can you summarize the importance of James McGill Buchanan to the development of the modern extreme right wing in the United States?

Nancy MacLean: The modern extreme right wing I'm talking about, just to be clear, is the libertarian movement that now sails under the Republican flag, particularly but not only the Freedom Caucus, yet goes back to the 1950s in both parties. President Eisenhower called them "stupid" and fashioned his approach -- calling it modern Republicanism -- as an antidote to them. Goldwater was their first presidential candidate. He bombed. Reagan, they believed, was going to enact their agenda. He didn't. But beginning in the early 2000s, they became a force to be reckoned with. What had changed? The discovery by their chief funder, Charles Koch, of the approach developed by James McGill Buchanan for how to take apart the liberal state.

Buchanan studied economics at the University of Chicago and belonged to the same milieu as F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, but he used his training to analyze public life. And he supplied what no one else had: an operational strategy to vanquish the model of government they had been criticizing for decades -- and prevent it from being recreated. It was Buchanan who taught Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained.

There is considerably more in the interview. 


This is by Robert Reich on his site. This starts as follows:
Say you’re Vladimir Putin, and you did a deal with Trump last year. Whether there was such a deal is being investigated. But if you are Putin and you did do a deal, what might Trump have agreed to do for you?
Actually, I do not think that Putin and Trump "did a deal" "last year": I think that is most probably propaganda, simply because no real evidence has ever been given.

Reich also knows this (I think), but he puts it forward as a hypothesis. There also is a brief video about this, which is here.

B. On my eyes

Here is some more on my eyes and on the present situation with Ubuntu 14.04.

First: what is the present situation with my eyes?

I have been dripping my eyes for more than five years now, and this helped rather a lot, though all quite slowly. My eyes were better now than they were in 2015, when it was simply impossible to use 14.04.

It seems at present as if using 14.04 is just possible, if I take care. That is where it is now. I suppose - if my eyes do not get worse - I can just manage it. But there is a problem:

Second: The difficulties with Firefox blacking out (on my computer) returned yesterday. I suppose Firefox doesn't have sufficient information to do this quickly, but I haven't found the cause yet. (It restores and works after some 10 seconds.)

It is probable that I will find out, but on the moment I have not been sleeping enough and am not well, so I will have to postpone this or the moment.

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