Saturday, August 5, 2017

Crisis: Liberty, Dawkins, The End Of The World, Blocking Leftish Sites, The Diggers

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 5, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, August 5, 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 (usually) 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 August 5, 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. "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor": Trump Admin Attacks Emma Lazarus's Iconic Poem on Statue of Liberty

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! This starts with the following introduction:

Opposition is growing to the Trump administration’s new proposal to implement radical changes to U.S. immigration law and slash the number of immigrants allowed into the United States by half. The RAISE
Act would create a so-called merit-based immigration system that would favor applicants who speak English, have advanced degrees or can demonstrate job skills. On Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta pressed senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over President Trump’s push to admit only English-speaking immigrants in a back-and-forth that lasted for several minutes. Acosta asked Miller about the iconic poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed at the base of the State of Liberty, which reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." We speak about the woman who wrote those words, Emma Lazarus, with her biographer, Esther Schor, about why Lazarus wrote the poem, how it became one of the most iconic verses about the United States and why she has long been a target of white nationalists.

This is quoted because I like the introductions on Democracy Now! This is one bit from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Since President Trump and Republican senators introduced the proposal on Wednesday, many commentators have noted the proposed policy would have likely blocked Trump’s own grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, from immigrating to the United States, had it been in place in 1885. At the time of his arrival, Drumpf did not speak English, and his immigration record says he had no identifiable skill—or "calling," as they called it. The great-grandparents of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller would have also likely been refused entry under the proposed plan, since they spoke only Yiddish. Kellyanne Conway’s great-grandfather, too, would have likely been barred for speaking only Italian.

Well, on Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta, who is the son of immigrants, pressed senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over President Trump’s push to admit English-speaking, only, immigrants in a back-and-forth that lasted for several minutes.
There is considerably more in the interview, which is recommended.

2. The Dangerous Delusions of Richard Dawkins

This is by Jeremy Lent on AlterNet. It is here basically because I disagreed from the beginning - in the 1970ies - with Dawkin's "selfish genes". This is from near the beginning:

In my book, The Patterning Instinct, I explored the underlying misconceptions that have led to our current crisis of civilization, and realized that Dawkins has been popularizing two of the most pernicious. One is the idea that all living organisms are controlled by selfish genes, and that humans, by implication, are innately selfish. Another is the notion that nature is nothing more than a very complicated machine. Both of these core ideas have been shown by countless scientists to be fundamentally wrong. Yet, partly because of the popularity of Dawkins’s own writing, they are widely taken on faith by the same intelligentsia that reject the fallacies of monotheism—and are used to justify some of our civilization’s most destructive behaviors.
It’s a harsh story, and one that has become a bedrock of modern economics, which argues that human beings are motivated by their own self-interest, and their collective self-serving actions result in the best outcome for society. This has led to a commonly accepted pseudo-scientific rationalization for laissez-faire capitalism, using the misappropriated term “survival of the fittest” to justify ruthless exploitation of the poor by wealthy corporations.
Rather than a battleground of “selfish genes” competing to outperform one another, modern biologists offer a new view of nature as a web of networked systems, dynamically optimizing at different levels of evolutionary selection. Ecosystems rely for their health on the tightly synchronized interaction of many different species. Trees in a forest have been discovered to communicate with each other in a complex network that maintains their collective health—sometimes referred to as the “wood wide web.” And regarding our intrinsic human nature, a new generation of scientists has pointed to our ability to cooperate, rather than compete, as our defining characteristic.

Yes, I agree, and indeed this is what I was thinking myself in the 1970ies. And ever since then I have agreed with Dawkins on atheism and God, but have disagreed with him on science. And this is a recommended article.

3. How the World May End

This is by John Pilger (<-Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews. This is from near the beginning, and "Their" refers to the American senators:

Their main aim seems to be war – real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-65 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies – the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indochina, which President Reagan called “a noble cause” and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an “exceptional people.” He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. “Listen up,” he said. “We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom.”

At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls “an eternal present.” Harold Pinter described this as “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously “the left” are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” wrote Luciana Bohne memorably.
There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended. Also, in case you are curious: My own estimate on the chances of arriving at the end of 2021 without an atomic war is still 50/50, because I think, as a psychologist, that Trump is a megalo- maniac who is trying to found neofascism in the USA, and who may well succeed (that is, if he doesn't blow up the world).

4. Sky Blocks OffGuardian as a Malware Site

This article is by Vaska on the Off-Guardian. This is from near the beginning:
Dear OffGuardian readers:

A reader in the UK has just advised us that SKY has been blocking the OffGuardian as a malware site,  using its Sky Broadband Shield to deny the public access to us.

People using Wifi through their Sky package may not find this out and will probably not know how to terminate this intrusion.   The Sky number to call to have them remove their shield is 03442414141.

Between April and June, Google completed a major revision of its search engine that sharply curtails public access to Internet web sites that operate independently of the corporate and state-controlled media. Since the implementation of the changes, many left wing, anti-war and progressive web sites have experienced a sharp fall in traffic generated by Google searches. The World Socialist Web Site has seen, within just one month, a 70 percent drop in traffic from Google.

In a blog post published on April 25, Ben Gomes, Google’s chief search engineer, rolled out the new censorship program in a statement bearing the Orwellian title, “Our latest quality improvements for search.” This statement has been virtually buried by the corporate media. Neither the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal has reported the statement. The Washington Post limited its coverage of the statement to a single blog post.

Framed as a mere change to technical procedures, Gomes’s statement legitimizes Internet censorship as a necessary response to “the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.”

The “phenomenon of ‘fake news’” is, itself, the principal “fake news” story of 2017. In its origins and propagation, it has all the well-known characteristics of what used to be called CIA “misinformation” campaigns, aimed at discrediting left-wing opponents of state and corporate interests.

And here is a list of some of the affected sites (and wsws = the World Socialist Web Site):

* fell by 67 percent
* fell by 63 percent
* fell by 62 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 42 percent
* fell by 37 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 30 percent
* fell by 25 percent
* fell by 21 percent
* fell by 19 percent

Note most of these are used to compose my crisis logs. If Google - which I dislike so much that I almost wholly avoid it - gets its way, soon there will be only sites available that conform to the rich men's ideals of Google's bosses...

5.  30 Years in an American Alternative Movement: Peter Coyote & The Statutes of Freedom

I have been writing about the San Francisco Diggers lately (see here and here) and this is an update that I found on Peter Coyote's site. In fact, it is from 2000 and was originally in French, but it is a good article about the San Francisco Diggers. It starts as follows:
In 1966-1967, in contrast to the San Francisco hippies, the Diggers were revolutionaries.  They vanished from the city when they believed there was nothing more to be accomplished, established communes in the country, and took a new road toward radical environmentalism.

Thirty years later, the Diggers still haven’t abandoned their American Dream.

Mill Valley – one day in late October:
Peter Coyote sits down to lunch in a small Mill Valley Mexican restaurant minutes from his house north of San Francisco Bay. Thin, handsome, animated, not looking his fast-approaching 60 years of age, the film actor, (Pedro Almovadar’s Kika, Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon,) remembers the ‘60s in San Francisco’s hippie neighborhood, the Haight-Ashbury. He also reminisces about the Mime Troupe, the revolutionary theatre company where his acting career began 35 years ago.

“Each of our performances was a frontal attack on the mainstream culture and its fashionable and nonpolitical theatrical shows. When they accepted me into the troupe, I was ecstatic. I believed I was beginning my career with the best, the most audacious.”

Coyote also remembers the Diggers, the most radical group on the West Coast, born of the Mime Troupe and with whom he was very close: a group of militant actor-anarchists, very active during the psychedelic era, who then vanished at the end of 1967 like so much smoke. Coyote knows what became of them; in fact, he was still friends with them in the ‘80s, when they reappeared with a new political point of view, still firmly convinced that social change was possible.

There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended in case you are interested in the San Francisco Diggers. (And no, this is not a crisis article.)


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