Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Crisis: Facebook Etc., Democracy, Deceiving Corporations, Pilger, Bolshevism

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 4, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 4, 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 4, 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. Stop Expecting Facebook and Google to Curb Misinformation — It’s Great for Business

This article is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
We’ve arrived at the sad, dumb point in history at which the only thing less surprising than acts of mass violence are the ways in which our planet’s mega information distributors muck everything up with ensuing frauds, hoaxes, and confusion. The problem is thoroughly identified: Facebook, Google, and, to a lesser extent, Twitter have the quality control of a yard sale and the scale of a 100,000 Walmarts. But despite all our railing and shaming, these companies have a major disincentive to reform: money.

In the wake of yet another American massacre, this time in Las Vegas, media scrutiny is aimed once more at Facebook, Google, and Twitter, for the same old reasons. The sites, time after time, and this time once more, served up algorithmic links to websites peddling deliberate lies and bottom-feeder misinformation. These companies provided an untold mass of online users with falsehoods posing as news resources, as is completely normal now and only noteworthy because it was pegged to a heinous national tragedy.
Yes indeed, and I have three additions.

The first is mostly personal: I very much dislike Google. I very much dislike Facebook. I very much dislike Twitter. I very much dislike Amazone. Except for Google´s index, which I have used in the past (until more than five years ago) I never used them, and indeed I can do very well without.

The second is that I currently think (and see this article on Brezezinski from 2012) that the internet was created on purpose to get the means to have the total population controlled (in secret) by the secret services (and indeed also by the masses of propaganda and deceptions that are spread by the mainstream media).

And the third is a general and quite important fact that I have seen rarely discussed: ¨Publishing¨ has changed tremendously since 2000 or so, for now there are - literally - the billions on Facebook and on Twitter, who are nearly all completely anonymous (except for the secret services and the owners of Facebook and Twitter), and who can write whatever they please, and do so, usually within the 140 characters Twitter awarded to its proud users, and normally without any intelligence or any knowledge,
for the billions with IQs of maximal 100, who are the main customers of Facebook and Twitter don´t believe in facts, truth, science, morality, or decency: they believe in whatever seems to support the beliefs they already have, regardless of its accuracy or sanity. They think in terms of wishful thinking, and they arrived mostly on the internet since 2000.

Here is some more from the article:
It’s extremely important to keep Fox News in mind these days. The network is essentially a less sophisticated delivery vehicle for the same sort of news that floats to the top of Facebook and other sites’ traffic: Insincere men barking half-truths and innuendos in order to piss people off.
Yes indeed. And note that Facebook has extremely many members (whose privacies were bought by offering them advertisements).

This is from last paragraph in the article:

There is, too, the problem that we just seem to enjoy being lied to and delight in abusing one another. Hoax posts and sketchy sites get traffic not just from fraud bots, but also from eager readers who care much more about tribalism and score-settling than about accuracy.
Well... I hate being lied to and I hate being abused, and I take it the same applies to Sam Biddle and most other intelligent persons.

But the two very basic problems are these:

First, more than a billion ¨publishers¨ were added to the internet since 2000, and by far the most of these are not highly gifted and many belong to the lower half of the IQ-spectrum: There are now a billion or so Facebook users with an IQ of maximally 100 who can and do have their say everywhere, and who hardly understand anything about computers, mathematics,
science, truth, ethics, politics, philosophy etc.

And second, all of them are fully known (in principle) from the secret dossiers that both the secret services and Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. have compiled on almost any user of the internet.

But as I said, I rarely or never saw these two very fundamental problems recognized or discussed. More later, and this is a recommended article.

2. Rising Threats to Democracy

This article is by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian. This starts as follows:

[This interview has been excerpted from “Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy,” a new book by social critic Noam Chomsky and radio broadcaster David Barsamian, to be published in December.] 

David Barsamian: You have spoken about the difference between Trump’s buffoonery, which gets endlessly covered by the media, and the actual policies he is striving to enact, which receive less attention. Do you think he has any coherent economic, political, or international policy goals? What has Trump actually managed to accomplish in his first months in office?

Noam Chomsky: There is a diversionary process under way, perhaps just a natural result of the propensities of the figure at center stage and those doing the work behind the curtains.

At one level, Trump’s antics ensure that attention is focused on him, and it makes little difference how. Who even remembers the charge that millions of illegal immigrants voted for Clinton, depriving the pathetic little man of his Grand Victory? Or the accusation that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower? The claims themselves don’t really matter. It’s enough that attention is diverted from what is happening in the background. There, out of the spotlight, the most savage fringe of the Republican Party is carefully advancing policies designed to enrich their true constituency: the Constituency of private power and wealth, “the masters of mankind,” to borrow Adam Smith’s phrase.

These policies will harm the irrelevant general population and devastate future generations, but that’s of little concern to the Republicans.
Yes, I agree. There is also this (that I registered several times in Nederlog):
A very important study in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published in March 2017, reveals that the Obama nuclear weapons modernization program has increased “the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three — and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.
Yes, and remember that Obama also was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is the last part that I´ll quote from this article:

Functioning democracy erodes as a natural effect of the concentration of economic power, which translates at once to political power by familiar means, but also for deeper and more principled reasons. The doctrinal pretense is that the transfer of decision-making from the public sector to the “market” contributes to individual freedom, but the reality is different. The transfer is from public institutions, in which voters have some say, insofar as democracy is functioning, to private tyrannies — the corporations that dominate the economy — in which voters have no say at all. In Europe, there is an even more direct method of undermining the threat of democracy: placing crucial decisions in the hands of the unelected troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission — which heeds the northern banks and the creditor community, not the voting population.

These policies are dedicated to making sure that society no longer exists, Margaret Thatcher’s famous description of the world she perceived — or, more accurately, hoped to create: one where there is no society, only individuals.
Yes indeed. There is a lot more in this article, that is recommended.

3. 3 Greedy Ways Corporations Are Cheating America

This article is by Paul Buchheit on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
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.
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."

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. Microsoft goes on to tell its shareholders, "As of June 30, 2017, $127.9 billion was held by our foreign subsidiaries and would be subject to material repatriation tax effects."
In fact - I realize - I may have reviewed this article yesterday, but under another title. If this happens (it has happened several times) I usually discard the second review. But
I liked Buchheit´s article a lot, so this time I will quote some more bits, such as the following:

Former Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman said, "Legislators in Illinois have created an environment that is unfriendly to business and investment."

But friendly enough to tolerate Caterpillar's blatant U.S. tax avoidance. The heavy equipment company has 56 percent of its property, plants and equipment in the U.S., along with over 40 percent of its sales and 43 percent of its employees. But in 2016 it claimed a loss of over $2 billion in the U.S. and a profit of over $2 billion overseas. It took tax credits at both the federal and state levels.
And then are these leading major frauds (<-Wikipedia):
Exxon has over half of its natural gas facilities, half its developed acreage, the great majority of its productive and development wells, and half 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

Dow Chemical had 63 percent of its assets and 35 percent of its sales in the U.S. in 2016, but declared almost 90 percent of its income in other countries.
It is all very, very sick (according to my feelings and values). And this is a strongly recommended article: These firms (and some more) are the major neofascistic frauds.
(And in case you disagree about neofascism: Check my definition.)

4. Pilger Criticizes Ken Burns’s ‘The Vietnam War’

This article is by Denis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

Ken Burns’s 18-hour documentary on the Vietnam War, which aired on PBS and BBC, presented extraordinary footage of the war’s grotesque brutality but also soft-pedaled the motivations of U.S. policymakers as well-meaning albeit misguided, or as the prologue put it, a conflict begun in “good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings.”

This glossing over of U.S. neocolonialism and its deadly consequences angered John Pilger, who cut his journalistic teeth covering the Vietnam War for a decade. I spoke to Pilger after he watched the first couple of hours of the highly touted series.

Yes, indeed. And I did review Pilger´s article on Burns´ documentary here. But this interview is a useful addition, and I agree with Pilger and disagree with Burn, because of argument like this:

John Pilger: (..) If we don’t understand the meaning of the Vietnam War by now, I don’t know where our brains have been all these years.

Like so many colonial wars, it was an invasion based on a series of deceptions and lies. This is effectively denied in the Burns series. It starts off with the narrator saying that it was all conducted in good faith by decent people. It was all a big misunderstanding that grew out of the Cold War, and so on. That is complete nonsense.

The Vietnam War started specifically with the US arming the French to reclaim their colony in Indochina after the Second World War. It really got underway for the US with the Gulf of Tonkin incidents, following which Congress gave President Johnson the authority to start one of the longest bombing campaigns in the history of warfare, called “Rolling Thunder.” The long litany of official documents say it all.

But these filmmakers put aside all this demonstrable truth and obfuscate what really happened in Vietnam.
Yes indeed. And the war in Vietnam was not ¨conducted in good faith¨, and it was not done ¨by decent people¨, and Pilger is right in what he says about the Vietnam War (where he went many times, and about which he made quite a few documentaries).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
But the way it is projected reminds me of the Newsweek cover that described the My Lai massacre as “an American tragedy.” You get a sense of the same thing in the Burns film. Yes, they interview Vietnamese, yes, you see terrible things happening, but the overall sense you are meant to come away with is that it was a great perplexing tragedy, a great blunder. The whole thing was genocidal. The bombing of Cambodia between 1969 and 1975 was something like five times the equivalent of Hiroshima. According to one study that seemed to have credibility, something like 750,000 Cambodians were killed in that bombing. And that was simply a sideshow to the main event in Vietnam. Total war is a form of industrialized killing.
Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

5. The Centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution: a Legacy to Celebrate

This article is by Marcus Papadopoulos on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
This month, commemorations will be held in towns and cities across Russia to mark the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Whilst the state and system that the revolution gave birth to – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Soviet communism – is no longer in existence today, the positive legacy of this pivotal event in history has endured in modern-day Russia. Indeed, as a result of the political, economic and social carnage of the 1990s in Russia, stemming directly from the collapse of the Soviet system, and which Russians continue to be haunted by to this very day, the legacy of what was officially known in the USSR as the Great October Socialist Revolution continues to receive more and more prominence within all age groups in Russia today, including the young.
I say?! Well... I know - compared to most - quite a lot about the Soviet Union because my parents were communists, and because I was born in 1950. In my opinion (and I can give a quite large amount of literature to defend my opinion, from Robert Conquest (see his: ¨The Great Terror¨) to Alexander Zinoviev) the Soviet Union was not a socialist country (as I understand the term ¨socialism¨, and as many agree), but a dictatorship run by the very few who formed the top of the Communist Party.

Under that dictatorship, some 20 million people were murdered and as many or more landed in the gulags (<-Wikipedia) were they were worked to death. There was no freedom of opinion nor a freedom of persons: The country was totalitarian for the full extent of its duration.

But Mr. Papadopoulos (who is a ¨
publisher and editor of London-based Politics First magazine, which is a non-partisan publication for the British Government and the UK business community¨) may never have heard of any of this, for he doesn´t mention the terms ¨dictatorship¨, ¨totalitarian¨, ¨gulag¨, ¨KGB¨, ¨freedom¨, ¨repression¨, ¨terror¨ and many more I would have used to describe the Soviet Union.

He does mention facts such as these:
The Soviet Union, in 1920, was the first country in history to introduce free healthcare for its citizens. For the first time ever, all Russians, regardless of background, would be entitled to free medical treatment, including medications and operations. That was a truly remarkable reform and one that enabled the Bolsheviks to claim, with justification, the moral high ground over the capitalist world.
Education was another area that the Bolsheviks completely overhauled and, in doing so, set a shining example to the rest of the world. Compulsory education for all Soviet children was introduced, while higher education – in colleges and universities – was made free.
Illiteracy in the Soviet Union, which had plagued the old Russia and handicapped her economic and industrial endeavours, was eliminated within a relatively short period of time by the Bolsheviks.
I don´t deny them. But for me the Soviet Union was a non-socialist dictatorship of very few, that killed very many, and repressed nearly all for all the years of its existence, and somebody who praises the ¨socialism¨ of the USSR and misses the dictatorship, the gulags, the repression, the totalitarianism and much more does not seem to be honest, in 2017.


[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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