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Nederlog

Monday, August 7, 2017

Crisis: US  Militarism, Hedges & Justice, Playing Politics, "Free Press", On US Health Care



Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 7, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, August 7, 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 7, 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. U.S. Ramps Up Border Militarism as Trump Appoints DHS Head General John Kelly to Chief of Staff

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday embraced a proposal to slash the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. by half, in what would be the biggest overhaul of immigration law in over half a century. 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. The announcement comes as Trump replaced his ousted chief of staff, Reince Priebus, with retired General John Kelly, who was head of the Department of Homeland Security. We speak with two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist John Carlos Frey, whose new investigation in partnership with ABC’s "20/20" is titled "Life and Death at the Border."
Two reasons why this article is here are, first, that the USA has been the country of promise for millions upon millions of the poor and non-rich for some 125 years at least, and that Trump's grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, entered the USA as a poor and skillless immigrant a bit over 100 years ago, and would not have been accepted as an immigrant under Trump's own rules.

Here is a bit by John Carlos Frey:
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Right. But it’s a culture that also trickles down to Border Patrol agents, to ICE agents, to customs agents, as we saw those two customs agents that got away with poisoning a kid, a 16-year-old, who ended up dying, with no repercussions, no reprimand, no trial, no indictment. There is a culture of cruelty within law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border. And it seems to be exacerbated by the Trump administration’s rhetoric. They are applauding a militaristic approach. The way that we manage our borders is by building a border wall, increasing the number of agents, allowing them to be more freewheeling. And probably, you know, we’re asking for it here. We’re going to—we’re going to probably see an escalation in excessive use of force. That has been meted out in the past, when we increased the force. As a matter of fact, the increase in the force of law enforcement at the border is being handled by dumbing down the admission requirements. They’re trying to force the—to make sure that there are no lie detector tests. They’re trying to make sure that they get as many agents in as quickly as possible. I mean, what could possibly go wrong if you do that?
(...)
These are not the enemy. So, to point a gun at a person who’s leaving their home country because they’re poor and because they’re looking for a job seems to be excessive. And that seems to be the one and only approach that the Trump administration is employing: Let’s use as much military force at the U.S.-Mexico border as we possibly can to stop migrants, who harvest our crops and work in our restaurants, from coming into the country. They’ve portrayed these immigrants as criminals, as terrorists, as gang members, when the U.S. Border Patrol statistics actually prove that over 99 percent of all undocumented immigrants have no criminal record.
This is a good interview in which there is considerably more, that is recommended.


2. ‘On Contact With Chris Hedges’: Seeking Justice in, and for, a Broken System

This article is by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig, and does duty for Chris Hedges, who usually writes a column on Mondays, but who is on vacation. Then again, there also is his series on RT, and this bit is taken from that.

It is about the - radical and fundamental - changes in the US justice system and its maintenance and exercise:

What happened to the American justice system? While it has always served the needs of some more than—and, it might be argued, at the expense of—others, there has been a shift in recent decades that mirrors similar movements in various realms of American society.

In this episode of “On Contact With Chris Hedges,” the show’s host and Truthdig columnist cuts right to the heart of the issue at hand in classic Hedges style. “Our courts and law schools have become wholly-owned subsidiaries of the corporate state,” he says. “They have abandoned the guiding principles of justice.”

And Hedges doesn’t stop there in his unsparing take (-down): “The judiciary and legal profession serve the needs of the one percent – not the 99%,” he adds. “The rule of law has been inverted; it does not guard against the abuse of power but advances the interests of those with money, power and influence.” 

As I said, this is on RT and consists of an interview with legal scholar Edgar Cahn. This is recommended viewing.

3. Playing Politics with the World’s Future

This article is by Alastair Crooke (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Finally … the U.S. Congress has produced a piece of legislation. And it passed with quasi-unanimous, bi-partisan support. Only its substance is not so much a deep reflection on the foreign policy interests of America, but rather, the desire to hurt, and incapacitate the U.S. President in any future dealings with Russia. (And never mind the worrying impulse towards conflict with Russia this entails, or its collateral damage on others).

The aim has been to see President Trump hog-tied, and “tarred and feathered” for his “risky behavior” on Russia. This aim simply has overpowered any other considerations – such as likelihood that the outside world will conclude that America’s ability to pursue or even to have a foreign policy is non-existent in the face of its internal civil war.  It is a key juncture. For an overwhelming majority of Democratic and Republican Senators and Congressmen, bringing down “The Donald” is all – and the devil take the consequences for America, in the world.
I do not know whether this last bit is correct (and I am not a former British diplomat, as Crooke is) and also I think that the basic problem of the US Senate (and the House) is simply that most of its members have been bought by the rich, and therefore vote and legalize as the rich want them to.

Here is a part of a quote by Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev:
“What does this mean for the U.S.? The American establishment completely outplayed Trump. The President is not happy with the new sanctions, but he could not avoid signing the new law. The purpose of the new sanctions was to put Trump in his place. Their ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power.” (Emphasis added).
Again I don't know whether this is correct. But this is an interesting and recommended article, in which there is much more than I quoted.


4. As White House Ramps Up Attacks on Free Press, NRA Issues Warning to New York Times

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

The National Rifle Association (NRA) drew attention this weekend after its newest ad went viral.

The New York Times was the focus of the video, which was released weeks after an ad that showed images of protesters and left-leaning cities including New York and Chicago, as the narrator warned viewers against liberal indoctrination by public school system, the news media, and other institutions.

Both videos have featured conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch. In the most recent video, Loesch wages an attack on the Times, implying that the paper's reporting does not reflect the views of most Americans.

The ad features the phrase "fake news," popularized by President Donald Trump, but offers no information about why the NRA has singled out the Times. A number of journalists and viewers posted on Twitter about the video following its release, raising concerns about the NRA's threat that its members are "coming for" the Times.

The main reason this is here is that Loesch is a spokeswoman for the guns & rifles enthousiasts in the USA, who are now waging an attack on a part of the media, because this part does not say what Loesch says are "the views of most Americans". That is, she is out and out totalitarian from the start.

There is more in the article, that is recommended (but contains too many quotes of Tweets).
 


5.  I Was There When Medicare Got Passed. Here’s How it Happened.

This article is by Bill Moyers (<- Wikipedia) on Mother Jones and originally on Moyers and Company. It starts as follows:

Watching the craziness in the Senate this week, as Mitch McConnell and the GOP’s zealots drove their clown car into a brick wall and yet another effort to take away health care coverage from millions crashed and burned, I thought back to a different turn of events.

It was 52 years ago this Sunday—July 30, 1965. Two American presidents celebrated the birth of Medicare, the most significant advance toward national health insurance in America’s history.   

I was a White House assistant at the time, working for President Lyndon B. Johnson as he coaxed, cajoled, badgered, buttonholed and maneuvered Congress into enacting Medicare for the aging and Medicaid to help low-income people. For all the public displays over the years of his outsized personae and powers of persuasion, this time he had kept a low profile, working behind the scenes as his legislative team and career health care experts practically lived on Capitol Hill, negotiating with members of Congress and their staffs.

There is considerably more in the article, which I found interesting, where it only for the twin facts that (i) Lyndon Johnson really tried quite a few times to give a decent healthinsurance to the American people (which already in the 1960ies was the norm in Europe) and that (ii) this was made enormously more difficult by the persistent refusals of Senators and members of the House who in fact did as the rich told them: People in the USA deserve health insurance only if they can pay it themselves.

This is still the case now. And this is an interesting and recommended article.

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