March 10, 2018

Crisis: On Women, The Koreas, Democrats & Trump, War Minus Casualties, Deregulations


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 10, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 10, 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 March 10, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Meet Some of the Women Overlooked by The New York Times
     Obituaries Section 

2. South Korea Announces Trump Will Meet with North Korea’s Kim

3. Democrats Should Steal Trump's Thunder on Trade
4. The Illusion of War Without Casualties
5. Wall Street Deregulation Is All About the Money
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. Meet Some of the Women Overlooked by The New York Times Obituaries Section

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
As the world marked International Women’s Day on Wednesday, The New York Times began a new project highlighting the lives of remarkable women who never had an obituary in the paper, until now. The list might surprise you. It includes the pioneering anti-lynching journalist Ida B. Wells; the writer and poet Sylvia Plath; Qiu Jin, who was known as China’s Joan of Arc; the groundbreaking photographer Diane Arbus; the woman who helped engineer the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily Warren Roebling; Charlotte Brontë, who wrote “Jane Eyre”; Henrietta Lacks, whose cells led to a medical revolution; and Ada Lovelace, who is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. The New York Times is calling the project “Overlooked,” and it is part of an effort to make up for the paper’s 167-year history of focusing largely on men—mostly white men—in the obituary pages. For more, watch our full interview with Amy Padnani, digital editor of obituaries at The New York Times, who came up with the idea of “Overlooked.”
In fact, I picked this article mostly because of Henrietta Lacks, whom I know of thanks to Adam Curtis´s "Modern Times: The way of all flesh", that I saw in the beginning of 2013, and that impressed me, in part because I thought her name should have been known much better than it is, while it seemed (and seems) to me that an important part of the reasons for the massive ignorance about her has a lot to do with the fact that she was black.

I also admit that usually I do not pay much attention to March 8, which I do not because I am not a ¨feminist¨ in the style that term has been given since the early 1970ies: I think it was a major mistake from ¨the feminists¨ to get all women working. This meant in effect that not only most men are wage-slaves, but now also most women, and it also meant in effect that to raise ¨a family¨ decently both parents now have to work (unless one of the two effectively made a larger income than the large majority).

Then again, I am a feminist in the sense that I am for equal rights for women, but not if these equal rights imply a setback in status or opportunities, as has been the case since the early 1970ies: ¨Feminism-of-the-1970ies¨ simply implied that the rich now have twice as many wage-slaves.

I know, it is too late...

Here is more about the considerable differences in the obituaries that are published in the American papers:

AMY GOODMAN: What percentage of people in the obituaries are still white men?

AMY PADNANI: About four out of five obits are on white men—are on men.

AMY GOODMAN: What are they?

AMY PADNANI: Sorry, on men. I don’t have the figures for people of color. So, yeah, about 80 percent of our obituaries are about men.

I take it that is quite true. Incidentally, while this concerns the proportions male : female and leaves out race, it seems obvious to me that most of the published obituaries of men are of white men (which itself is more or less justified in the USA, because there are more whites than blacks there).

And this is the last bit I quote from this article, and it is about Henrietta Lacks:

AMY GOODMAN: Now, people may have learned about Henrietta Lacks, who weren’t Henrietta Lacks’s family, through the remarkable book that I think is still on the best-seller list, by Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Talk about who this remarkable woman was and the role she played, and continues to play, in medical research today.

AMY PADNANI: She was a poor, uneducated black woman whose cells were used for medical research unknowingly. And it has led to treatments for cancer, treatments for really common illnesses today. She had these regenerative cells that were unique, and they aided in these medical discoveries that have been benefiting people for decades. So, it’s pretty amazing that she never got the recognition for it.

Yes indeed - and to the best of my knowledge the descendants of her cells are still being used in very many experiments - while she died from cancer in 1951, aged 31 - because ¨[s]he had these regenerative cells that were unique¨.

There is considerably more in this article, that is recommended.

2. South Korea Announces Trump Will Meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
The White House says President Trump has accepted an invitation to meet directly with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. South Korea’s National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong spoke with reporters Thursday night outside the White House after briefing officials on the recent talks between Seoul and Pyongyang, and said the meeting would take place within two months. No sitting U.S. president has ever met with a North Korean leader; Kim Jong-un has never met another sitting head of state. For more, we speak with Tim Shorrock, correspondent for The Nation and the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism in Seoul.
In fact, I wrote yesterday about Korea, but the present article gives some information that was missing yesterday:

AMY GOODMAN: The White House says President Trump has accepted an invitation to meet directly with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. This is South Korea’s National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong speaking to reporters Thursday night, in the dark, outside the White House, near the portico, after briefing officials on the recent talks between Seoul and Pyongyang.

CHUNG EUI-YONG: I expressed President Moon Jae-in’s personal gratitude for President Trump’s leadership. I told President Trump that in our meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearization. Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue. And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible. President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un, by May, to achieve permanent denuclearization.

AMY GOODMAN: The South Korean official went on to say the meeting would take place within two months. No sitting U.S. president has ever met with a North Korean leader; Kim Jong-un has never met another head of state from anywhere in the world.

I think all of this is quite correct, and it also seems to be the case that much of this development is due to South-Korea´s current president Moon.

There is also this, from journalist Tim Shorrock, who specializes on Korea:

Tim, welcome back to Democracy Now! What did you think when you heard this announcement last night?

TIM SHORROCK: Thank you. I was, frankly, elated. And I was kind of expecting this. And I’m going to take a moment here of personal privilege to say I’ve been on this show for 10 years talking about the need for the United States to talk directly to North Korea to resolve this crisis and bring an end to the Korean War. And I feel very vindicated today that this has happened—against the wishes of the media, the think tanks here, who have been down on this idea and who have criticized it and are still criticizing it as we speak. They cannot deal with the fact that the two Koreas have come to an agreement to reach a peace accord in the Koreas and end this state of war between the United States and North Korea.

I think this may well be correct, and I think he is quite right about the fact that ¨the two Koreas have come to an agreement to reach a peace accord in the Koreas and end this state of war between the United States and North Korea¨ - that is, it is mainly the Koreans who did this.

There is considerably more in this article, that is recommended.

3. Democrats Should Steal Trump's Thunder on Trade

This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

There’s an old saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day. In that spirit, Donald Trump and his advisors are at least partly right about trade and tariffs.  

Ironically, he’s totally defying the entire Republican Party, as well as the Bill Clinton-corporate wing of the Democratic Party, and running with policies that progressive Democrats have been pushing for a century.  

While most progressive politicians will admit Trump is right on trade (and several have on my radio/TV show), there aren’t a lot of Democrats these days willing to enthusiastically acknowledge Trump might be right about anything so they’re not much popping up on network or cable TV.

Which is unfortunate: the Democratic Party should return to its progressive/ protectionist/union roots and steal this issue right from Trump’s teeth, saying that he’s not doing it well enough or fast enough. They should run hard in 2020 on Bernie’s suggestion that we use protectionist policies to end our trade deficits and bring back home our jobs.

The disastrous trade deficits we’ve been running since the Reagan era are damaging to the future of America for a variety of reasons, from national security to where the profits from American companies end up, to the flattening of American working wages and benefits.

Well... I agree on the first and the last paragraphs of the above quotation, while I think the sort of program indicated in the middle seems quite improbable, indeed because of the fact that ¨The disastrous trade deficits¨ the USA ¨has been running since the Reagan era¨ and also - I think - because of the fact that most Democratic Senators and Congressmen have been bought by the rich or the bankers already quite long ago.

Here is some of the economical background, indeed since Reagan:

Where do foreign countries and companies and oligarchs get all these dollars to buy US goods? By and large, we gave them to them, in the form of $600 billion a year or so trade deficits that go back to the Reagan era that kicked off modern neoliberalism.  

When we buy more from, for example, China or Israel or Saudi Arabia, than they sell to us, we end up with a surplus of their consumer goods (which eventually end up in our landfills) or oil, while they end up with a surplus of US dollars (which they use to buy our companies, real estate, and increasingly since it was legalized by the Supreme Court in Citizens United, our politicians).

This was not how the Founders intended it.  

The Republicans rejected traditional American trade policies in the 1980s under Reagan, and then most Democrats rejected them with the rise of the DLC and Bill Clinton in 1992, and in both cases they turned their backs on over 200 years of American policy that turned us into the industrial powerhouse of the world.

I think I basically agree with this, and I should also tell you that (i) I am a bit surprised that I more or less like Thom Hartmann (and I am a bit surprised because he it a talk-show host), while (ii) this is a pretty long article of which I only review some bits, and leave most to your interests.

Here is more, on joblessness in the USA and on Keynes (and also on Reagan´s and Bill Clinton´s changes to how the American economy was run, and what for):

Among other things, the article reported that more than 6.3 million Americans had been jobless for more than six months, the largest number since government started tracking joblessness in 1948, and more than 15 million Americans were jobless in January 2010.

What happened to Keynes? How could hundreds of billions of dollars pumped into the economy fail to create jobs making things that working people could buy? If it worked so well in the 1930s and 1940s, why did it fail to go beyond just “stopping the bleeding” and move into the net creation of new manufacturing jobs in the US in the 2010s?

In fact, it hadn’t failed. It did create millions of jobs – probably tens of millions of jobs. The problem is that they were mostly in China.

The simple fact is that we no longer make computers or TVs or clothes or power tools or toys or pretty much anything in the USA, except military hardware, guns, processed food and frakked gas. So when we “stimulate” our economy by putting money into the pockets of working people, they go to Walmart and buy things made in Asia – creating jobs in that part of the world. 

Yes indeed: this also seems quite correct to me - and the changes to Keynes´ policies are in fact due to the fact (I think) that both Reagan and Clinton permitted American corporations to make the biggest profits also if these were realized outside of the USA.

And then one has to consider these facts:

During the 1930s, none of the “Asian powerhouse economies” had adopted American industrialization strategies, so when Roosevelt “stimulated the American economy by putting money into worker’s pockets and they bought toys or clothes or radios, all of those items were made in Alabama or Connecticut or Michigan.  

Now they’re made in China, which experienced a "labor shortage" in 2009 causing its average wage to increase to $1.14 an hour from 80 cents, and its economy to grow by over 8 percent.

And $1.14 is still a little bit more than 1/7th of the minimal wage in the USA, which means that most of the difference goes to the few rich men who created this whole schema, indeed with the purpose of getting a lot richer a lot faster.

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

Under neoliberal policies, we’ve become the world’s largest exporter of raw materials, the world’s largest importer of finished goods, and the world’s largest debtor.  

We now export raw materials to China, and buy from them manufactured goods. And we borrow from them to do it. This, by the way, is the virtual definition of a third-world country.

Yes indeed: I agree. Also, there is a lot more in the article than has been reproduced here, notably about historical developments in the USA and about Alexander Hamilton, and this is a recommended article.

4. The Illusion of War Without Casualties

This article is by Nicolas Davies on Consortiumnews. I am only selecting four bits from this article, and leave a lot unmentioned. Here is the first bit:

In the past 16 years, the U.S. has invaded, occupied and dropped 200,000 bombs and missiles on seven countries, but it has lost only 6,939 American troops killed and 50,000 wounded in these wars.  To put this in the context of U.S. military history, 58,000 U.S. troops were killed in Vietnam, 54,000 in Korea, 405,000 in the Second World War and 116,000 in the First World War.

But low U.S. casualties do not mean that our current wars are less violent than previous wars.  Our post-2001 wars have probably killed between 2 and 5 million people.  The use of massive aerial and artillery bombardment has reduced cities like Fallujah, Ramadi, Sirte, Kobane, Mosul and Raqqa to rubble, and our wars have plunged entire societies into endless violence and chaos.

But by bombing and firing from a distance with very powerful weapons, the U.S. has wreaked all this slaughter and destruction at an extraordinary low rate of U.S. casualties.  The U.S.’s technological war-making has not reduced the violence and horror of war, but it has “externalized” it, at least temporarily.

Yes indeed: All of this seems quite true, and indeed the main reasons are the numbers provided in  the quotation.

Then there is this bit, which in fact only consists of questions:

How would the American public react if far greater numbers of Americans were killed in Korea or Iran – or Venezuela?  Or even in Syria if the U.S. and its allies follow through on their plan to illegally occupy Syria east of the Euphrates?

And where are our political leaders and jingoistic media leading us with their ever-escalating anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda?  How far will they take their nuclear brinksmanship?  Would American politicians even know before it was too late if they crossed a point of no return in their dismantling of Cold War nuclear treaties and escalating tensions with Russia and China?

I leave these for your consideration. Here is a bit on the great violence that is used in Iraq and Syria:

How many Americans know that the bombing campaign Obama launched in Iraq and Syria in 2014 has been the heaviest U.S. bombing campaign anywhere in the world since Vietnam?  Over 105,000 bombs and missiles, as well as indiscriminate U.S., French and Iraqi rockets and artillery, have blasted thousands of homes in Mosul, Raqqa, Fallujah, Ramadi and dozens of smaller towns and villages.  As well as killing thousands of Islamic State fighters, they have probably killed at least 100,000 civilians, a systematic war crime that has passed almost without comment in the Western media.

Yes indeed. And this is the ending of this article:

America’s deluded leaders know nothing of diplomacy beyond bullying and brinksmanship.  As they brainwash themselves and the public with the illusion of war without casualties, they will keep killing, destroying and risking our future until we stop them – or until they stop us and everything else.

The critical question today is whether the American public can muster the political will to pull our country back from the brink of an even greater military disaster than the ones we have already unleashed on millions of our neighbors.

Well... as to the first of the last quoted paragraphs: I believe it is more a matter of prejudice than of delusion, and the prejudice that the present American leaders have seems a rational one if one abstracts from all morals and from all humanity: they do what they do, and further what they further, because it is profitable to the rich and their corporations.

And my own answer to the second paragraph is based on the American history since Reagan became president: Very probably not (very unfortunate as this is). And this is a recommended article, with a lot more than was mentioned in the present review.

5. Wall Street Deregulation Is All About the Money

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
The United States is no longer a Democracy, it's an oligarchy.  
Oh, that’s not the way the Party would portray it, but with the Democratic Congressional  Campaign Committee undermining progressive candidates, telling candidates to offer thoughts and prayers but avoid talking about gun control in the wake of the shootings at Stoneman Douglas high school, and seventeen Democrats  supporting a bill to deregulate the banks while the Party’s leaders do nothing to mount a fillibuster against this latest giveawy to the ultra-rich, there can little doubt about the Party being in thrall to the oligarchy, and out of step with the voters.
Well... I would put it differently, at least as far as the stresses are concerned: The Democrats have been in majority corrupted by the rich and by the banks ever since Bill Clinton was president, and this is still the case, and is also worse than in Clinton´s days.

Here is more by Atcheson:
The fact that a little over 27 percent of the eligible voters put Trump in office is directly a result of the fact that the Democratic Party isn’t democratic. How?  Well, if you read Clinton’s latest book, or the misguided ramblings of neoliberals like Doug Schoen, or look at the latest antics of the DCCC, the neoliberal mafia that administers the orders of the Democratic Party leadership still seems to have no clue that they enabled his victory by refusing to stand for the vast majority of Americans who are—and have been for some time now—getting screwed by the party’s decades long allegiance to the uber wealthy and elitist interests in lieu of the people’s interests.  The party’s cynical centrist-one-day, faux-left the next, center-right the next, while pandering to economic elites and corporate America has shrunk the base of the Party from 50 percent of Americans back in the late sixties to less than 30 percent today.  
And again, while I seem to be in some basic agreements with Atcheson, I would put it otherwise.

For just one thing: Of course ¨
the Democratic Party leadership¨ knows very well how they got rich. They got rich because they screwed their voters for money, that in the case of this leadership seems to have come especially from the rich banks (in such thoroughly sick utter comedies as paying both of the Clintons many times 250,000 dollars for speeches of three quarters of an hour to very rich bankers).

Then there is this:
This rudderless, amoral approach to governance is why just 37 percent believe the Democratic Party stands for something.  And what the neoliberals just don’t get, is that what Americans want are candidates who back a progressive agenda.  Oh, yes, the terms liberal and progressive have been smeared by the Oligarch’s skillful use of branding to make them unpopular terms, but on an issue-by-issue basis, Americans are overwhelmingly progressive.  The only reason the Oligarch’s branding effort worked is because no one countered it.
Once again, while I seem to be in some basic agreements with Atcheson, I would put it otherwise.

Specifically, I think ¨the neoliberals¨ find it very easy yo get that ¨
what Americans want are candidates who back a progressive agenda¨, but they also know that most Americans aren´t rich, while the few rich are willing to pay a lot of money to the less than 1000 members of Congress. (And money comes first.)

Here is Atcheson´s ending:

Meanwhile, forget the Russians—when it comes to messing with our political system, they’re pikers compared to the Oligarchy.
I quite agree. And this is a 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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