January 23, 2018

Crisis: On Dr. King, On Surveillance, On The Super Rich, On Apple, On Privacy


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 23, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 23, 2018.

1. Summary

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

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) 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 and since more than two years (!!!!) 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from January 23, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. America Needs a Radical Dr. King, Not a New Obama 
2. Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House
3. While World's Richest 1% Took 82% of All New Wealth in 2017, Bottom
     Half Got Zero, Zilch, Nada

4. Apple & the Guardian: Partners in a death spiral
5. Congress's Ratification of Trump's Spying Power Is a Direct Threat to
     Our Privacy

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. America Needs a Radical Dr. King, Not a New Obama

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig and originally on CounterPunch. It starts as follows:

As the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s violent death (on April 4, 1968) grows closer, you can expect to hear more and more in U.S. corporate media about the real and alleged details of his immediate physical assassination (or perhaps execution). You will not be told about King’s subsequent and ongoing moral, intellectual, and ideological assassination.

I am referring to the conventional, neo-McCarthyite and whitewashed narrative of King that is purveyed across the nation every year, especially during and around the national holiday that bears his name. This domesticated, bourgeois airbrushing portrays King as a mild liberal reformist who wanted little more than a few basic civil rights adjustments in a supposedly good and decent American system—a loyal supplicant who was grateful to the nation’s leaders for finally making noble alterations. This year was no exception.

Yes, I think that is correct. It is also true that this started already at the beginning of 2018,
and it is true, no doubt because of my reading mostly alternative instead of mainstream media, that I have read more unconventional appraisals of King than conventional appraisals.

But I think it is correct that there will be more conventional and (therefore) more or less falsified appraisals - ¨neo-McCarthyite and whitewashed narrative¨s - than there will be more or less realistic ones.

This a more or less realistic story. I think it is mostly OK, but it also is rather long, so my review is limited to a few important points.

Here is the first:

The official commemorations never say anything about the Dr. King who studied Marx sympathetically at a young age and who said in his last years that “if we are to achieve real equality, the United States will have to adopt a modified form of socialism.” They delete the King who wrote that “the real issue to be faced” beyond “superficial” matters was the need for a radical social revolution.

It deletes the King who went on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) in late 1967 to reflect on how little the black freedom struggle had attained beyond some fractional changes in the South.
Incidentally, it seems to me totalitarian (in my usage, but not in the Wikipedia´s usage: according to the Wikipedia´s sick article only states can be totalitarian, and no persons, no policies, no parties, no desires, no ideas, no values, no plans etc. etc.: according tot the Wikipedia´s utterly sick definition nothing human can ever be totalitarian: only states, systems and governments can be, and Orwell must have been insane, I must suppose) to say or suggest that one must be bad or morally inferior to have ¨studied Marx sympathetically at a young age¨.

And while I think it is true to say that Dr. King was a democratic socialist of some sort, and that this fact is often completely repressed in conventional treatments, I think it is also true, and indeed to a considerable extent a recommendation of King´s point of view, that he was less radical than some other speakers for the left in the 1960ies.

Here is some more:
Against those who held property “sacred,” King argued that “property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround with rights and respect, it has no personal being.”

What to do? King advanced radical changes that went against the grain of the nation’s corporate state, reflecting his agreement with new left militants that “only by structural change can current evils be eliminated, because the roots are in the system rather in man or faulty operations.” King advocated an emergency national program providing either decent-paying jobs for all or a guaranteed national income “at levels that sustain life in decent circumstances.” He also called for the “demolition of slums and rebuilding by the population that lives in them.”

Yes, I think that is all true, as is the following bit:

King was a democratic socialist mass-disobedience-advocating and anti-imperialist world revolution advocate. The guardians of national memory don’t want you to know about that when they purvey the official, doctrinally imposed memory of King as an at most liberal and milquetoast reformer. (In a similar vein, our ideological overlords don’t want us to know that Albert Einstein [Time magazine’s “Person of the 20th Century”] wrote a brilliant essay making the case for socialism in the first issue of venerable U.S.-Marxist magazine Monthly Review—or that Helen Keller was a fan of the Russian Revolution.)

I think that is also true, though I am a little unsure about King being an ¨anti-imperialist world revolution advocate¨. Then again, I have not read most speeches by King, and this is not just my shortcoming, but is also due to King´s family, who keep the copyrights.

And in fact, Einstein was indeed a socialist, which is indeed also a fact that is not very often mentioned.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this long article, that is too long to properly review in Nederlog:

It was cruelly ironic that Obama kept a bust of King in the Oval Office to watch over his regular betrayal of the martyred peace and justice leader’s ideals. Consistent with Dr. Adolph Reed Jr.’s early (1996) dead-on description of the future president as “a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous to repressive neoliberal politics,” Obama consistently backed top corporate and financial interests (whose representatives filled and dominated his administrations, campaigns, and campaign coffers) over and against those who would undertake serious programs to end poverty, redistribute wealth (the savage re-concentration of which since Dr. King’s time has produced a New Gilded Age in the U.S.), grant free and universal health care, constrain capital, and save livable ecology as it approached a number of critical tipping points on the accelerating path to irreversible catastrophe. Thus is that one of Obama’s supporters (Ezra Klein) was moved in late 2012 to complain that a president “whose platform consists of Romney’s health care bill, Newt Gingrich’s environmental policies, John McCain’s deficit-financed payroll tax cuts, George W. Bush’s bailouts of filing banks and corporations, and a mixture of the Bush and Clinton tax rate” was still being denounced as a “leftist.”

Yes indeed: quite so. I dislike Obama since 2009 for these and other reasons. There is considerably more in this article, which is recommended.
2. Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

This article is by Ray McGovern (and see the VIPS)on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”

It is a 70 year-old tradition. Today’s lack of accountability is enabled by (1) corruption at the top of intelligence agencies; (2) the convenient secrecy behind which their leaders hide; (3) bureaucratic indignities and structural flaws in the system; (4) the indulgence/complicity of most of the “mainstream media;” and (5) the eunuchs leading the Congressional “oversight” committees, who — history shows — can be bullied by threats, including blackmail, a la former longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

It is a safe bet, though, that neither the FBI nor NSA have deleted their holdings on key Congressional leaders — including House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi (...)
Yes indeed.

And as far as I am concerned, I think the combination of the neoliberal ideology, that - in different forms - is supported by both the Democrats and the Republicans, together with the surveillance of everyone by ever more powerful secret services (and Facebook and Google etc.) and the reorganization of the very rich that was started by Lewis F. Powell Jr. in 1972, as three excellent reasons why I think the most likely development of the West, apart from another major economical crisis, is towards neofascism, as I have define it. (Check the last link.)

You may disagree, but that is what I both think and fear (and why I am glad I am nearly 68 and do not have children).

And also the five point list that illustrates today´s total and very frightening ¨lack of accountability¨, that in fact lasts 17 years now, is one important item in my considerations.

Here is one more bit by Ray McGovern who is, quite justifiedly in the present conditions, without much hope:

The lack of intelligence accountability has created a kind of perfect storm, enabling felonies and lesser mischief ordered by those sitting atop the intelligence community. While press reports indicate that the Congressional oversight committees now have “explosive” documentary proof — not yet deleted — of such crimes, it remains to be seen whether the committees will have the courage to do their duty under the law.

Even if they try, the odds are against their being able to make much headway, in the face of stiff resistance from the heads of intelligence agencies and a suborned/frightened “mainstream media.”

I agree and this is a recommended article.

3. While World's Richest 1% Took 82% of All New Wealth in 2017, Bottom Half Got Zero, Zilch, Nada

This article is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Call it the 'Year of the Billionaire.'

In 2017, a new billionaire was created every two days and while 82 percent of all wealth created went to the top 1 percent of the world's richest while zero percent—absolutely nothing—went to the poorest half of the global population.

That troubling information is included in Oxfam's latest report on global inequality—titled Reward Work, Not Wealth (pdf)—released Monday. In addition to the above, the report details how skyrocketing wealth growth among the already rich coupled with stagnant wages and persistent poverty among the lowest economic rungs of society means that just 42 individuals now hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion poorest people on the planet.

First of all, I like Oxfam and indeed - in spite of very little money - am a monthly supporter of them.

Second, I very strongly dislike the 42 human individuals who hold ¨as much wealth as the 3.7 billion poorest people on the planet¨ and indeed think these extra-ordinarily greedy egoists, whose wealth does incredibly much harm, are very well-placed to deserve the title of sub-humans, for I think the amounts of wealth they have thoroughly obscene and extremely immoral (very much more so than any thief, indeed).

And third, I think all of this extremely excessive wealth of the very few (42 human persons), that directly corresponds with the extra-ordinary poverty of the very many (3.7 billion human persons) can be done away with legally, by setting legal limits to the amounts of money (and power) any human individual may control.

In fact, that last possibility will take a lot of work, but this is the way to a liveable future for the many instead of just for the few. For more see my ¨On Socialism¨.

Here are some of the key findings in Oxfam´s report:

Among the report's key findings:

  • Billionaire wealth has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent. The number of billionaires rose at an unprecedented rate of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.
  • It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.
  • It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016.
  • Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich, nine out of ten, are men.

Again I say that these facts are extremely immoral in my eyes.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which provides some counter measures:

Not just cataloging and lamenting the metrics of inequality, the new report also puts forth a number of policy solutions that should be embraced by people and governments worldwide to reduce levels of inequality and lift billions of people out of extreme poverty. They include:

  • Limit returns to shareholders and top executives, and ensure all workers receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life. For example, in Nigeria, the legal minimum wage would need to be tripled to ensure decent living standards.
  • Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. At current rates of change, it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and employment opportunities between women and men.
  • Ensure the wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance, and increase spending on public services such as healthcare and education. Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.

I agree, although it also seems quite unlikely to me that these counter measures will be practiced, for the simple reason that they have not been practised in the last 2000 years.

This is a recommended article.

4. Apple & the Guardian: Partners in a death spiral

This article is by Jonathan Cook on the Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
This report on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to a UK school to promote the company’s new coding curriculum for schoolchildren could hardly be a better illustration of the way the Guardian newspaper serves as a key propagandist for aggressive global corporate capitalism, helping to create for it a façade of humanitarianism.

The Guardian presents Cook (no relation) as a concerned global citizen, a gay man who fights for LGBT rights and might have been Hillary Clinton’s running mate if things had turned out differently. The article could just as easily have been a press release straight out of Apple headquarters.

Unchallenged by the Guardian, Cook claims via the article to be promoting coding as a universal language bringing people together and serving as a great leveller of mankind, offering everyone the chance to become … multi-billionnaire Tim Cook.

I do not need any convincing that Tim Cook is a very bad man, as indeed was Steve Jobs: Their real aim was to become billionaires themselves and to have as much power by way of Apple over its users and the American government as they could get.

In fact, while I did not know anything about Tim Cook in 1979/1980, a friend of mine had bought an Apple II in 1979, and my opinions about Apple (expensive, not to be trusted) and Jobs (rich, commercial, not to be trusted) were laid back then.

And incidentally, while I always disliked Jobs as a rich commercial liar, I always liked Steve Wozniak, who in fact designed the Apple II (Jobs sold them): He seemed (and seems) very clever and rather honest, and the last can certainly not be said about Jobs, who even frauded Wozniak in the early days of the Apple II, while Jobs cannot be compared to Wozniak in terms of very extensive very basic computer knowledge. (But I agree Jobs was charming, if not angry.)

Here is some more on Apple:

There’s more, much more – and not a word of it suggests that Cook might be primarily thinking of Apple’s brand image, and the effect on sales, as he puts on a few sticking plasters to try to conceal Apple’s central place in an unsustainable pyramid scheme of endless growth and wealth creation on a planet with finite resources.

Cook has, says the Guardian, “become a vocal proponent of privacy against global surveillance, and education to fight issues around gender diversity.”

So presumably all those security flaws and backdoors – the ones we know about so far – that allowed Big Brother states claiming to be western democracies to spy on us were unintended by Apple and its competitors. There is absolutely no way they might have been efforts by these mega-corporations to placate our increasingly authoritarian governments, in a trade-off to ensure no obstacles were placed in the way of their business affairs.

Yes. And to the best of my not very extensive knowledge about Apple (that I have not used since 1983 or so: it seemed to me back then already massively blown up) it made its enormous profits from its computers by having them made for starvation wages in India and some other Third World countries.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, from its ending:

Please do not think I am so naive as to believe that either Cook or Apple could operate in any other way in what is a dog-eat-dog corporate business world. This is not criticism of them for being who they must be in a global competition in which one either devours or is devoured.

But let us not also kid ourselves that this neoliberal world we have allowed to be created in our names is not deeply sick and self-harming – and that, now with climate change accelerating, we are not caught in a death spiral.

We have to change course. That can only happen when we recognise that the corporations we idealise are really psychopathic in nature, and that the corporate media we trust is enabling and hastening their – and our – descent into madness.

I more or less agree to the first two of the above quoted paragraphs, but - being a psychologist - I disagree with the third paragraph for the simple reason that corporations are not - whatever the Supreme Court says - persons, while only persons may be psychopaths.

And while I do not know whether Cook is a psychopath, and never trusted ¨the corporate media¨, I think I do know that, by my moral and ethical criterions, at least, Tim Cook is a very bad man.

5. Congress's Ratification of Trump's Spying Power Is a Direct Threat to Our Privacy

This article is by Marjorie Cohn on Truthout and originally on News Analysis. It starts as follows:
"Today, the United States Congress struck a significant blow against the basic human right to read, write, learn, and associate free of government's prying eyes," Electronic Frontier Foundation Executive Director Cindy Cohn wrote. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Reauthorization Act of 2017, which Congress passed on January 19, poses a serious threat to the privacy of our internet communications.

Congress voted to extend Section 702 of FISA, with minimal changes, for six years. It permits the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect email and texts of foreigners abroad without a warrant, and also allows spying on Americans who communicate with people outside the United States. For example, the NSA can intercept the communications of a US citizen or permanent resident who attends an international conference on human rights or marches against climate change in another country.
As I said and explained yesterday (to some extent) for me the internet = an expressly designed tool to bring about neofascism - and you do not need to believe me, but that
is what I think. (And while I like computers, by now I hate the internet, for the simple reason
that I know a lot about fascism, and a neofascism fuelled by the secret services knowing everything anybody thinks, wants, values, knows and believes, and secretly manipulating them to do what the secret services want, is by far the best foundation
for neofascism that I know.)

Incidentally, since I am Dutch: I do have very fundamental objections to the fact that the NSA can steal my mail, and the mail of everyone who is not American, in secret, as if this theft is decent or moral or can be combined with any real democracy: it cannot. But I know that fact is also one of the reasons why I think the Western world is getting more and more neofascistic, and has been doing so at least since Bush Jr. attacked Iraq.

Here is more:
In 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was using section 702 to spy on Americans through the PRISM internet surveillance program. The government is collecting private messages, without a warrant, from US companies including Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Skype, AOL, Apple and YouTube. It targets foreigners who are "reasonably believed" to be outside the US, even though the surveillance occurs on US soil. However, the communications of Americans can also be incidentally intercepted.
In fact, it is my guess - I must guess about secret services - that all of the above are merely legal skirmishes: I think in actual fact that the NSA simply steals everything it can get from anyone, and may afterward delete some of that. Since this can all be done by computers, this allows the leaders of the NSA to lie in public that ¨no one knows¨ these things.

Also in fact, I thought so before I knew about Edward Snowden, for I published this for the first time in the end of 2012, indeed not through my own work, but because there were also others investigating the NSA by then (like James Risen).

Here is the last bit that I copy from this article:

"Instead of instituting much needed reforms and safeguards, Senators supported legislation that would give spying powers to an administration that has time and time again demonstrated its disregard for civil rights and civil liberties," the ACLU tweeted after the Senate voted to reauthorize section 702 last week.

Precisely. And for me that is also a reason to give up on both the corrupt Democrats and the fraudulent Republicans: They do not protect the citizens against the secret services; they deliver the citizens in their hands.

And this is a strongly recommended article.


[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 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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