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Nederlog

May 22, 2018

Crisis: Bankers´ Desires, Re-electing Trump, ¨Evil Is Great¨, Facebook´s Lies, Supreme Court


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 22, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from May 22, 2018:
1. Bankers Hate the Volcker Rule. Now, It Could Be Watered Down.
2. How the President Could Be Re-Elected
3. "Evil Is Fine Now": Google Ditches "Don't Be Evil" in Company Code of
     Conduct

4. Media Ignore Government Influence on Facebook’s Plan to Fight
     Government Influence

5. Supreme Court Makes It Harder for Workers to Fight Back
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. Bankers Hate the Volcker Rule. Now, It Could Be Watered Down.

This article is by Emily Flitter and Alan Rappeport on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

It was one of the most significant actions by the federal government to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.

The Volcker Rule, named for the former chairman of the Federal Reserve and signed into law, prohibited banks from making their own risky bets with their customers’ deposits. Banks loathed the rule and Republicans vowed to undo it.

Now, a decade after the global financial meltdown, banks are on the brink of realizing their dream. The Fed and other federal banking regulators are poised to soften the Volcker Rule, making it easier for giant banks to engage in a wider range of trading that can be highly profitable, but also very risky.

This is ¨reporting¨ by the NYT, which is the probable explanation for the fact that the writers are not very clear that prohibiting ¨banks from making their own risky bets with their customers’ deposits¨ is and was a form of clear theft by the banks from their customers - which their customers would not feel if the banks won their bets, but which also might mean the banks lost their customers´ money.

Here is some more:

The changes, which are expected to be proposed later this month, are emblematic of the larger deregulatory effort underway in Washington.

This week, Congress is expected to take a significant step toward rolling back parts of the Dodd-Frank law, with the House scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would allow thousands of small and midsize banks to avoid tougher oversight. Similar bipartisan legislation passed the Senate earlier this year, clearing a path for President Trump to sign the bill into law.

And here is the last bit that I quote from this fairly sick article:

But the real action is at the financial regulatory agencies, like the Fed and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which have broad powers over the banking system. The agencies are now largely run by Trump appointees who are sympathetic to Wall Street institutions’ longstanding complaints that they have been hurt by overzealous regulations written after the financial crisis.

All of ¨Wall Street institutions’ longstanding complaints that they have been hurt by overzealous regulations¨ were sick sadistic neofascistic lies: In the last 40 years no one made more than the rich bankers, and they made so much more than before because the rich have been systematically helped by the rich since Reagan.

Anyway... the real news appears to be that if you are not rich and live in the USA you will be screwed by the rich, and you probably have been since 1980. (But the NYT will not say so.)


2. How the President Could Be Re-Elected

This article is by Robert Reich on Truthdig. It starts as follows - and incidentally, I can´t read Reich´s site anymore, for this opens now with a command that you have to open your computer to Javascript, which I refuse, or not see anything written by Reich. This is neofascism in action.

Anyway, here is Reich-on-Truthdig:

Trump’s strategy for keeping power is to build up his coalition of America’s white working class and the nation’s ownership class.

It’s a curious coalition, to say the least. But if Democrats don’t respond to it, it could protect Trump from impeachment and even re-elect him. It just might create a permanent Republican majority around an axis of white resentment and great wealth.

Two decades ago, Democrats and Republicans competed over the middle class. They battled over soccer moms and suburban “swing” voters.

Since then the middle class has shrunk while the working class has grown, and vast wealth has been accumulated by a comparative few who own a large portion of America. Some of their wealth has taken over American politics.

Yes indeed. Here is more:

Since becoming president, Trump has sought to reward both sides of this coalition – tossing boatloads of money to the ownership class, and red meat to the white working class.

One boatload is the corporate and individual tax cut, of which America’s richest 1 percent will take home an estimated 82 percent by 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Another boatload is coming from government itself, which Trump has filled with lobbyists who are letting large corporations do whatever they want – using public lands, polluting, defrauding consumers and investors, even employing children – in order to push profits even higher.

Trump’s red meat for the white working class is initiatives and tirades against unauthorized immigrants and foreign traders – as if they’re responsible for the working class’s lost ground – and other symbolic gestures of economic populism, along with episodic racist outbursts, and support for guns and evangelicals.

Yes indeed. If you are convinced by Trump, that is your problem. I am not, but then I do not belong to the American ¨white working class¨. Then again, Reich may be correct that Trump may get re-elected, and indeed because he succeeds in misleading considerable parts of ¨the white working class¨.

Here is more on Trump:

Trump doesn’t want his base to know that the only way they can permanently become better off is by reining in the ownership class.

He doesn’t want them to recall that the ownership class is largely responsible for hollowing out the middle class. For decades the captains of American industry, backed by the nation’s biggest investors, have squeezed payrolls by outsourcing abroad, cutting or eliminating job benefits, busting unions, and shifting to part-time and contract work.

He’d rather they didn’t see that corporate profits – flowing into higher executive pay and higher share prices – have constituted a steadily larger portion of economy, while wages have been a steadily lower portion. Most economic gains have gone to the top. We have had socialism for the rich and harsher capitalism for everyone else.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.


3. "Evil Is Fine Now": Google Ditches "Don't Be Evil" in Company Code of Conduct

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Is Google finally embracing its evil side?

The company has reportedly stripped from its employee code of conduct a section outlining its longtime unofficial motto, "Don't be evil," provoking a swift reaction on social media: "File under: 'Evil is fine now.'" "Glad this question has been settled!" "Google has finally done what was inevitable—abandoned informal commitment to its founding principle."

When the company restructured in 2015, Alphabet—Google's new parent company—was widely condemned for its watered down replacement, "Do the right thing," but Google's maintained the "Don't be evil" language in its official code of conduct. That all changed "sometime in late April or early May," Gizmodo reported Friday, after reviewing archives on the Wayback Machine.

Well... has Google ever been good? I don´t think so, and all of this is propaganda as well. Here is some more:

Critics of Google have long used the phrase as a rallying cry to challenge practices and policies that strike them as "evil," from concerns about what the company does with users' personal data to its increasing contract [working] with the U.S. military.

Invoking the longtime motto, a dozen employees recently resigned and some 4,000 have signed on to a petition demanding that Google immediately halt its once-secret work on drones for the Pentagon, which was revealed in a pair of reports published earlier this year.
I am sorry, but I do not think Google is "evil" (between quotes): I think it is definitely and darkly evil, and is so because its owners want to be evil, for this makes them the most money.

There is also this:
Beyond the consequences for small and startup businesses in the tech industry, there's also an impact on Google users, and internet users more broadly. As Reback put it: "People tell their search engines things they wouldn't even tell their wives. I mean, it's a very powerful and yet very intimate technology. And that gives the company that controls it a mind-boggling degree of control over our entire society."

Yes indeed. But most of its users seem not to care for the enormous powers Google has, probably because they really don´t understand. To the few who do, I recommend DuckDuckGo.


4. Media Ignore Government Influence on Facebook’s Plan to Fight Government Influence

This article is by Adam Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Facebook announced Thursday it was partnering with DC think tank the Atlantic Council to “monitor for misinformation and foreign interference.” The details of the plan are vague, but Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab wrote in a non-bylined Medium post (5/17/18) that the goal was to design tools “to bring us closer together” instead of “driving us further apart.” Whatever that means, exactly.
Yes, that ¨goal¨ is pure propaganda bullshit, which is all you - ¨dumb fucks¨, according to Zuckerberg - can expect from the sick and degenerate Facebook.

Here is more on the Atlantic Council´s (Facebook´s partner) sick propaganda:
Behind its generic-sounding name and “nonpartisan” label, the Atlantic Council is associated with very particular interests. It’s funded by the US Department of State and the US Navy, Army and Air Force, along with NATO, various foreign powers and major Western corporations, including weapons contractors and oil companies. The Atlantic Council is dead center in what former President Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes called “the blob”—Washington’s bipartisan foreign-policy consensus. While there is some diversity of opinion within the Atlantic Council, it is within a very limited pro-Western ideological framework—a framework that debates how much and where US military and soft power influence should be wielded, not if it should in the first place.
I think that is all correct. Here is more:
Much like “counter-espionage” is another name for espionage, “counter- propaganda” efforts are just propaganda efforts. How exactly will the Atlantic Council define “misinformation” and “disinformation,” and what “foreign interference” will merit the highest priority? Facebook hasn’t released details of the partnership, and the Council’s Medium post was heavy on high-minded platitudes about being “more free and more fair,” but light on methodology.
Well... I add that ¨counter-terrorism¨ should be the name for what the NSA etc. do, except that it isn´t, for that would be too clear. As to what ¨the Atlantic Council¨ will define as ¨“misinformation” and “disinformation”¨: it will very probably never say. But I am sure that anybody who trusts Facebook or its associates (like Cambridge Analytica) will be thoroughly screwed: If you trust Facebook, then you are a ¨dumb fuck¨, according to Zuckerberg.

This is a recommended article.

5. Supreme Court Makes It Harder for Workers to Fight Back

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

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to worker rights, saying that employers can bar their employees from banding together to challenge workplace abuses including wage theft and sexual harassment.

MSNBC host and legal analyst Ari Melber summed up the 5-4 decision (pdf) by tweeting: "Supreme Court rules that you have the right to your day in court, unless a corporation effectively makes you give up that right."

Political activist Zephyr Teachout, meanwhile, said the decision "is terrible news for workers in America," as it makes "it harder for employees to get a fair hearing when they are screwed."

Yes, and I think Zephyr Teachout was quite right. Here is more:

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, finding that "Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written." According to Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, "Not only is [Gorsuch] endorsing the conservative justices' controversial approach to arbitration clauses, but he's taking it an important step further by extending that reasoning to employment agreements, as well."

Yes, I am afraid Vladeck saw this correctly. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion, and read a summary of her dissent aloud—"something justices do only rarely to signify their objections," USA Today reported.

But alas, Ginsburg spoke for the minority. This is a recommended article.

Note

[1]I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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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