Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Crisis: Nuclear Weapons, ¨Dumb It Down¨, Climate, Fraudulent Corporations, On Women

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 3, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 3, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from October 3, 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. The Enormous Cost of More Nuclear Weapons

This article is by Guy Saperstein and Kelsey Abkin on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
An analysis by the Arms Control Association of U.S. government budget data projects the total cost over the next 30 years of the proposed nuclear modernization and maintenance at between $1.25 trillion and $1.46 trillion. This expenditure is not included in our defense budget of $700 billionwhich leads the world in military spending and represents more than the spending of the next seven countries combined—three times what China spends and seven times what Russia spends on defense.
I say! Also I seem to remember - but I may be mistaken - that this increase of (say) $1.35 trillion (and a trillion equals a thousand billion, while a billion equals a thousand million) are basicially due to the Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama.

Here is more to show how much war is worth to the present governors (and those since 2001 or 1980) as compared to non-war projects:

To put this into perspective, this number exceeds the combined total federal spending for education; training, employment, and social services; agriculture; natural resources and the environment; general science, space, and technology; community and regional development (including disaster relief); law enforcement; and energy production and regulation.
As you see, war is much more worth (in dollars) than peace, in the United States.

Here is more on safety in the world, and especially safety from the use of nuclear arms:
The Trump administration just last week considered proposing additional, smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons that would cause less damage than traditional thermonuclear bombs. However, these mini-nukes are not some new, profound proposal. We have had nuclear weapons capable of being dialed down to the power of  “mini nukes” since the 80’s. The 15-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima would now be classified as a “mini-nuke” yet its destruction was monumental. Adding more, smaller nukes is an unnecessary, potentially dangerous addition.
I totally agree, but I take it that the profit on nuclear bombs is enormous.

Here is the last bit that I´ll quote from this article, and it concerns Trump´s character:
[Trump´s] threat that North Korea will be met with “fury and fire” combined with his proposals of mini-nukes only propel the notion that he is not following past leaders in enforcing a no first strike policy.

The danger of revamping this shaky leg of the nuclear triad is in part due to Trump’s demonstrated impulsiveness. As Andrew Weber explains, “There is a 2-3 minute threat of the land-based missiles and it is impossible for the target to determine whether the weapon has a nuclear or conventional tip.” An impulsive president with nuclear codes capable of starting a nuclear war in 2-3 minutes using a weapon that must fly over Russia and has the possibility of mistaken identity, is essentially a recipe for disaster.

As I have said several times before (also before the present crisis around North Korea): My own personal probability on a nuclear war as long as Trump is president are 50/50, simply because Trump is mad.

I do hope that my estimate is - in fact - much too high on the side of war, but then I also am a psychologist who thinks that Trump is mad, and completely unpredictable (with 53,000 other psychologists agreeing with me, but with Allen Frances (I concede) - 1 man - disagreeing that Trump is mad, but then Frances diagnoses the rest of the USA - a mere 300+ millions persons - as having ¨a nervous breakdown¨, and that is modern psychiatry in action).

This is a recommended article.

2. Dumb It Down, Democrats—Or Prepare to Lose Again

This article is by David Masciotra on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from the article:
Progressives lose at the ballot and across the culture because they consistently overestimate the intelligence and decency of the American people.

[Hillary Clinton´s] gravest misstep, which she does not concede and the media never mentions, was that she believed the majority of Americans were sufficiently thoughtful and moral to reject the prospect of a historically illiterate conman who routinely makes racist remarks and once boasted of committing sexual assault, acting as President of the United States.

She was wrong.

I think I agree on just one or two things with David Masciotra: A great amount of the American voters is stupid or ignorant (and most of these are both).

But I totally disagree that the cure for stupidity and ignorance is more stupidity and ignorance, and besides, at least a considerable part of the stupidity and ignorance that does characterize far too many voters is less due to their native abilities than to the incredible amounts of propaganda, lies, and deceptions that make up most of the mainstream news, and that also have been exponentially increasing since around 1980.

Here is some more:

According to the newest poll on the NFL imbroglio, 64 percent of Americans believe that the league should force its players to stand during the opening performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

One can almost hear the whimpers of progressives stressing the importance of “free speech.” The reality is that most Americans don’t know, and wouldn’t care if they did.

If so, 64 percent of Americans denies their own Constution and insists on totalitarian discrimination. Indeed this is also part of my arguments that very many Americans are stupid or ignorant. But while I think the numbers are probably correct, again I do not think that the cure for totalitarian discrimination is more stupidity, more ignorance or more totalitarianism.

There is also this:

The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center recently discovered that 37 percent of Americans could not identify a single freedom that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees. Only one in four Americans could correctly name all three branches of government.

Again I agree that the numbers are probably correct, and strongly support my notion that very many Americans are stupid or ignorant (but then again I reject the implication or suggestion that more stupid and more ignorant advertisements will make a difference for the Democrats).

There is this on the importance of (real) knowledge and (real) science:

Thomas Jefferson, the founding father President Trump likened to Robert E. Lee with little public objection, once wrote, “knowledge is the currency of democracy.” America is bankrupt.

The liquidation resulting from decades of uninterrupted perversion of language and degradation of discourse affects not only the intellect, but also ethics.
Well... yes, but these ¨perversions of language and degradation if discourse¨ started at least 40 and more probably 55 years ago in Holland with the radical simplifications of all education (it was halved or more, since 1965, compared with the maintained standards since 1865), that more or less simultaneously was also begun in the rest of Europe and the USA, and that was considerably increased by the also since 1980 much increased propaganda, lies, deceptions and intentional ommissions that marked nearly all public discourse as presented in the mainstream papers and programs.

Here is the last bit that I´ll quote from this piece of baloney:
Progressives will make political gains when they stop assuming that the majority of Americans operate according to rationality and compassion.
This is bullshit for three main reasons:

(i) Ever since Bill Clinton, the major part of ¨the progressives¨ (also in England with Tony Blair) have engineered what successes they did score by fine manipulations of the decisive - usually quite small - parts of the electorate in key districts;
(ii) all of the salesmanship of both the Democrats and the Republicans is based on misleading the electorate anyway (and not only in elections with advertisements, but with constant propaganda, deceptions, lies and ommissions in the propaganda of the mainstream media); while
(iii) since the Democrats and the Republicans both pull around 50% of the votes, and since 50% of the Americans do have an IQ of 100 maximally, and since it seems as if Masciotra argues for the Democrats, I´d say that it are especially the Republicans who are helped by stupidity and ignorance, and not the Democrats.

So I nearly totally disagree with Masciotra.

3. Humans Have Messed With Earth So Much, Formal 'Anthropocene' Classification Needed: Scientists

This article is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

A group of scientists says that the scope of human impact on planet Earth is so great that the "Anthropocene" warrants a formal place the Geological Time Scale.

"Our findings suggest that the Anthropocene should follow on from the Holocene Epoch that has seen 11.7 thousand years of relative environmental stability, since the retreat of the last Ice Age, as we enter a more unstable and rapidly evolving phase of our planet's history," said Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology, and the Environment, in a statement released Monday.

The scientsts write:

We conclude that human impact has now grown to the point that it has changed the course of Earth history by at least many millennia, in terms of the anticipated long-term climate effects (e.g. postponement of the next glacial maximum: see Ganopolski et al., 2016; Clark et al., 2016), and in terms of the extensive and ongoing transformation of the biota, including a geologically unprecedented phase of human-mediated species invasions, and by species extinctions which are accelerating (Williams et al., 2015, 2016).

Defining characteristics of the period include

marked acceleration of rates of erosion and sedimentation; large-scale chemical perturbations to the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements; the inception of significant change in global climate and sea level; and biotic changes including unprecedented levels of species invasions across the Earth. Many of these changes are geologically long-lasting, and some are effectively irreversible.

I think this is likely to be correct. The article ends as follows:
Getting the formal classification is not a done deal, as more analysis is needed, and a stamp of approval from the International Commission of Stratigraphy (ICS) could be years off. Still, says honorary chair of AWG, Colin Waters of the Geology Depart of the University of Leicister, "Whatever decision is ultimately made, the geological reality of the Anthropocene is now clear."
I agree. And this is a recommended article.

4. Three Insidious Ways 'Overtaxed' Corporations Are Cheating America

This article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It starts with a subtitle:
Big companies are deceiving us and the media won't report it.
Yes, indeed. Here are some selections that show this:
Corporate cheating goes well beyond federal tax reporting, as big companies have used various forms of deception to keep taking from America, especially with a complicit corporate media unwilling to report the facts about their behavior.

1. Give Us Your Technology, Infrastructure, Security, Patent Law....But Sorry, Our Profits Were Made in Another Country.
In fact, the Americans owe this ¨advance¨ to Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin, who made it possible that American firms mostly migrated to ¨the third world¨ countries because of deregulations, simply because the wages were much lower there, and the profits much higher - and fuck the American poor.

Here is how Microsoft makes it billions for Bill Gates and a few others:
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella writes about the "Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone," and the company's commitment to "humans and the unique quality we call empathy." But the empathy apparently doesn't apply to the Americans who rely on tax dollars to support basic needs. Microsoft made over half its 2017 revenue in the U.S., and it has 57 percent of its long-lived assets in our country. Yet for 2016 it claimed a LOSS IN THE U.S. and a $20 billion profit in other countries.
Which probably all were deceptions as well, but who cares if the interests of the billionaires of Microsoft are concerned?

And here are Exxon and Pfizer:

Exxon has over half of its natural gas facilities, half of its developed acreage, the great majority of its productive and development wells, and half of its retail sites in the U.S. but declared $5.8 billion in U.S. losses along with $13.8 billion in foreign profits in 2016. Exxon CLAIMED A CREDIT on its U.S. income tax.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read complained that U.S. taxes had his company fighting "with one hand tied behind our back." The other hand must be fudging the books. Pfizer had half of its sales in the U.S. in 2016, yet claimed an $8.5 billion LOSS IN THE U.S. along with nearly $17 billion in foreign profits. Pfizer paid just 4 percent of its total income on U.S. taxes in 2016, and was one of the nine pharmaceutical companies among the top 30 Fortune 500 firms in offshore tax hoarding.
I think these are all massive frauds (<-Wikipedia): You can´t sell most of your products in the USA, and claim a loss in the USA with a major gain outside the USA. That can only be done with massive frauds.

Here is more massive fraudulence by and for the very rich:
The deceit gets even worse with another form of "profit shifting," by which understated U.S. profits may be understated even more. Some of the profits reported to shareholders as US-earned may be reported to the IRS as foreign-earned. The result is that profits allegedly earned in foreign countries are held indefinitely overseas, with all taxes deferred. S&P 500 companies -- including Apple, Microsoft, and Pfizer -- have stashed away $2.3 trillion, which represents a loss to America of over $800 billion in tax revenue. Apple itself has moved about two-thirds of its worldwide profits to Ireland, waiting, perhaps, for a minimal-tax repatriation deal.
Again utter fraudulence in my eyes - and keep in mind that Apple, Microsoft, and Pfizer are extremely profitable companies (that reserve much of their profits outside the USA, so that they can pay their very rich CEOs etc. more in a month or a year than I can make in 50 years, that is, if I were healthy).

Here is yet another example of massive fraud by the richest companies in the USA:
The worst offenders are the richest corporations, who entice dazzled state officials with promises of jobs. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are together making well over $100 billion a year in pre-tax profits, yet demanded state subsidies to build new data centers. Apple's getting over $200 million from Iowa; Amazon took tens of millions from Illinois and Kentucky; iPhone-maker Foxconn negotiated for tax credits from Wisconsin that could amount to $500,000 per job.
And here is the moral of the story, and its ending:
All the big companies -- technology, pharmaceutical, oil, chemical, agriculture, finance -- owe their great profit-making success not so much to individual, self-made, "start with nothing" innovation and entrepreneurship; but rather to the taxpayer-funded research and development that built the foundations for these industries while the middle class trusted in the American work ethic. Now the middle-income jobs are going away, leaving underpaid service-oriented jobs. The tax money withheld by the big corporations is desperately needed to restore living-wage opportunities to millions of workers. But these companies refuse to pay for all the benefits they've happily taken over the years.
Yes, precisely so - and as I said (in 2012, for example) the big corporations are furthering a neofascism that makes all this utterly normal, and that may soon cost
the lives of millions of poor Americans, who cannot fraud the taxes, and whose real incomes haven´t risen since 1979.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, When a Voice Tells You You'll Never Be Enough

This article is by Mattea Kramer on TomDispatch. It starts as follows (and both quotes are from the introduction, that seems to be by Ann Jones):
Women make up more than half the population of the United States, about 51%. We women are 55% of college students and we take more degrees than men. About 44 million of us between the ages of 15 and 50 have children, but only 5 million or so are stay-at-home moms. That’s because we go out to work: this year 74.6 million of us over age 16 make up almost half (47%) of the labor force. Forty percent of us work in fields thought to be ours by tradition: we are 90% of nurses, 93% of dental assistants, and 97% of preschool and kindergarten teachers. But we are also more than half of the nation’s pharmacists, a third of its physicians and surgeons, a third of its lawyers and judges, and a quarter of its computer programmers. We are the majority owners of 38% of U.S. businesses, employing millions and annually generating revenue in the trillions of dollars.
This is probably all correct. Here is the point:
But here’s a problem: as workers, we don’t get fairly paid. For every dollar a man earns, we average about 79 cents. These days, young women may get closer to 90 cents, but by age 35, if not before, they hit a wall; for older women, the wage gap only widens. Due to that gap, the average full-time working woman over the course of 40 years will be cheated out of $418,800; she would have to work 10 more years to make up the difference. If she’s black, she will be shorted $840,040 and need to work 23 more years. If she’s Latina, she will lose $1,043,800 and need to work another 34 years. Then there’s the special case of the financial and insurance industry: there, women make only 60 cents to a man’s dollar. All this despite the fact that Congress passed an Equal Pay Act more than 50 years ago.
I agree and I think it is very unfair, but I also insist that an important part of the reason that now both adults in a marriage or a partnership with children have to work (to pay for the commercial pick-up of their children) is due to the Second Wave of ¨Feminism¨ that started around 1970, and that I refuse to consider real feminism:

Real feminists would have refused to become capitalists´ wageslaves, and insisted that - at long last, mostly due to technological advances - they could study and develop their own minds, instead of having to participate, as ¨the feminists¨ wanted, as wageslaves.

And I am sorry if this is not accepted by ¨modern feminists¨ (nearly all of whom are very well-provided academics) but my - communist - mother, and my - anarchist - grandmother were both feminists, and not as crazy as the quasi-¨feminists¨ since 1970 who pretended that women get emancipated if they become wageslaves.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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