July 27, 2018

Crisis: Facebook's Profits, 900 Migrant Children, "Socialism", The NYT & Assange, Bullies


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 27, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 27, 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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 27, 2018:
1. Facebook’s Plunge Shatters Faith in Tech Companies’ Invulnerability
2. More Than 900 Migrant Children Remain Separated from Parents
3. What Makes Millennial Socialism Different
4. The Gray Lady Thinks Twice About Assange’s Prosecution
5. A World Designed by Playground Bullies
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. Facebook’s Plunge Shatters Faith in Tech Companies’ Invulnerability

This article is by Matt Phillips on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

It had become an article of investor faith on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley: Quarter after quarter, year after year, the world’s biggest technology companies would keep raking in new users and ever-higher revenue. And with that, their share prices would continue to march upward, sloughing off any stumbles.

This week, that myth was shattered. And investors responded Thursday by hammering the stock of Facebook, one of the world’s most valuable companies. Shares of the social media giant fell 19 percent, wiping out roughly $120 billion of shareholder wealth, among the largest one-day destruction of market value that a company has ever suffered.

I say - and in fact I am very glad because I hate and despise Facebook and its horrible owner Mark Zuckerberg. Incidentally, if you want to know why look under "Facebook" in the crisis logs - and remember there are nine files of them, that list over 2000 crisis files.

Then again, if you are really interested, here is my first long post about Facebook, from May 16, 2011:
On the sham called "Facebook". It only grew a lot worse since.

Here is more:

Investors dumped Facebook shares after the company reported disappointing second-quarter earnings, in which the company warned of a sharp slowdown in sales growth in coming quarters along with rising spending on security and privacy enhancements.

Incidentally, Facebook has also - still - well over 2 billion members, and I take it only a small minority of these over 2 billion members is capable or willing to write their own sites in html.
And while I do not know the proportion not-capable : not-willing, I also fear the proportion is considerably above 1.

Here is some contextual information:
This year alone Apple is up some 15 percent; Alphabet has gained more than 20 percent; Amazon has surged more than 50 percent; and Netflix is up nearly 90 percent.

Facebook’s stumble suggests that some of these stocks — as well as the broader market — could be particularly vulnerable if their financial results don’t live up to investor expectations.

Incidentally: (1) I use none of these corporations and I do not want to: For me they are the corporate faces of neofascism; (2) "Alphabet" used to be the criminals of Cambridge Analytica, so I don't know how much their present gains are worth; and (3) it is obvious that the investors use only one criterion: their own expected profits from (not) investing in Facebook, and don't care shit for moral considerations, such as that the members of Facebook all have enormous secret dossiers that contain much more knowledge about them than they can recall themselves.

And here is some more contextual information:

Still, the sheer size of Facebook’s fall on Thursday became a focus for investors. The decline in Facebook’s market value was roughly equivalent to the entire value of some of the country’s best-known companies, including McDonald’s, Nike and the industrial conglomerate 3M.

There are few examples of single-day losses so large.
I did not know that, but as I said: I like it. And this is a recommended article. 

2. More Than 900 Migrant Children Remain Separated from Parents

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
It has been nine weeks since the Trump administration sparked a national crisis by forcibly separating more than 2,500 migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Most were seeking asylum from violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Instead, the parents were charged in federal court with a crime for illegally crossing the border, then held in jail and detention. The children, some still breastfeeding, were sent to shelters around the country. Today is the deadline federal District Judge Dana Sabraw set to reunite these families. But the process has been chaotic, and the government admits at least 900 children have yet to be reunited, and some 463 separated parents have been deported—even as their children remain in U.S. detention centers. Officials say the parents voluntarily agreed to leave their children behind. But in court papers filed Wednesday, the ACLU argued many parents say they were coerced or misled into signing forms they could not read, and were confused about what they were agreeing to. We speak to two immigration lawyers, Ofelia Calderón and Carlos García. They are both representing and providing pro bono assistance to parents separated from their children, some of whom have still not been reunited by today’s court-imposed deadline.
I say! Well... if "the government admits at least 900 children have yet to be reunited" this means that the government concedes that roughly 1000/2500 = 2/5 children still remain kidnapped and still remain in detention, in spite of being small children who committed no crime whatsoever.

Also, I insist the 2500 children were kidnapped by the US government, even though the single other person who used this term (which is legal, and I think it totally applies) was Bill Maher.

I also insist that the immigrants whose children were kidnapped have been treated intentionally by the insane neofascist Trump and his government as sub-humans.

Here is some more:
On Wednesday, CNN published audio of a mother pleading with Judge Robert Powell. This is an excerpt.

ASYLUM SEEKER: [translated] To please give me an opportunity to remain here in this country. I want—I need to save my life and the life of my son. I cannot go back to my country, because over there the police, when I went to the police, they did nothing to help me.

JUDGE ROBERT POWELL: Having considered all the evidence, court finds you have not established a significant possibility that you could establish eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal under the immigration laws of the United States.

I think Judge Powell judged as if he is a neofascist as well - and read my definition if you disagree. I also note that he does not seem to address the fact that the U.S. government kidnapped 2500 children.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article, which in fact is about the intentional mismanagement of the rights of immigrants or of the addresses of the children they kidnapped:

AMY GOODMAN: Carlos García, what does it mean when the government says hundreds of people are not eligible to reunite with their children?

CARLOS GARCÍA: Right. There is so much confusion about that. We don’t know. As of Friday, I had—I was in touch with a couple of lawyers who are litigating these lawsuits, and they had indicated that perhaps my client had been identified as a person not eligible for unification. So I was very worried. But the reality is that—who knows if that was true or not, based on any kind of definition? Because we are not getting any kind of information as to what that means. I wish we knew, so that there was a way that we could address that, so that there was a way that we could advocate for our clients, if indeed they were identified as not eligible for reunification. But that’s a definition that the government has not provided to us.

Quite so, and this is a strongly recommended article.

3. What Makes Millennial Socialism Different

This article is by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
The Occupy movement, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders all changed what the millennial generation thinks of as socialism—and made the come-from-behind win of New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez possible. At least, that’s what Ben Judah argues in a recent piece for The American Interest, in which he outlines the many differences between the “old left” and the “new left” in the U.S. and the U.K
I did not know this. Then again, this is also rather hard to establish for me, in part because I have never been in the USA, and in part (and considerably more important) because the histories of both "the “old left” and the “new left”" in the USA have been quite different from the histories of the same in Europe (and in Europe the the “old left” are the social democratic parties, which mostly went Blairite, that is, almost completely corrupt since 2000, while there also were several movements called the “new left” since the late 1960ies).

In any case, the histories of the "left" - let's say - in the USA and in Europe since 1900 have been rather different.

Here is some by Judah:
One major shift on the left, Judah says, has been the coining of the terms “1 percent” and “99 percent,” which he considers one of the most powerful accomplishments of the Occupy movement, because they allowed a new kind of revolution to seep into the imagination of young Americans. A revolution of all classes uniting to fight the uber-rich, not with violence but with the power of the masses; a revolution that Sanders in the U.S. and Corbyn in the U.K. then solidified into grassroots campaigns that gave hope to a new generation of kids saddled with student debt and, soon enough, mortgages as they waded through job markets ruled by 1-percenters who not only had questionable interest in providing workers with a decent living but had politicians in their pockets and spent years eroding hard-earned labor protections.
I agree more or less with this. Here is more on "socialism" in the USA:
London School of Economics professor David Graeber, one of Occupy’s organizerstells Judah that the fact that in 2016 more Americans under the age of 30 were enthusiastic about socialism than capitalism could have emerged only from social movements. In Graeber’s words, “You won’t have seen nothing, ever, nowhere, that would have had anything positive to say about socialism on American television.”
Actually, I do not know whether Graeber is correct, although he may be, and he is certainly right that "socialism" in any of its - very many - forms has been deemed negative on American television, indeed also from its beginnings, in the early 1950ies.

This is also quite different from Europe, where there also are many more political parties than just two (with any fair chance). In Europe, there were, for one example, and to a lesser extent still are, large social democratic parties that held or hold considerable power, though indeed they are not at all revolutionary in any sense.

And here Ben Judah gets quoted:

This is often the trickiest thing for liberals to grasp: for millennial socialists, America does not need a GOSPLAN, a super powerful state, or central planning. What they believe it needs is as much democracy as possible.

Workers’ control, autonomism, corporate democracy, locally supervised nationalized industries—not high-up, mandarin-allocated indicative planning. This is millennial socialism: dreams of socially-owned Ubers and AirBnBs.

Well... in my European understanding of "socialism" this sounds more like anarchism (of which there also are many different kinds). Then again, perhaps "democratic socialism" is the better term than "socialism".

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

There you have it—progressive millennials want to seize control of powerful institutions just as their predecessors did, but their ideas of how and what to do with that power are vastly different, and, of course, could not have been conceived of without those who fought and thought before them.

Actually, I don't think they are "vastly different" and in fact I also do not think that there is a widespread more or less proper understanding in the USA of various political terms, such as "socialism", "democratic socialism", "communism", "anarchism", to name some prominent ones.

And of course, there is a minority of American intellectuals who do understand all these terms more or less as the Europeans do. This is a recommended article.

4. The Gray Lady Thinks Twice About Assange’s Prosecution

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Well, lordy be. A lawyer for The New York Times has figured out that prosecuting WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange might gore the ox of The Gray Lady herself.

The Times’s deputy general counsel, David McCraw, told a group of judges on the West Coast on Tuesday that such prosecution would be a gut punch to free speech, according to Maria Dinzeo, writing for the Courthouse News Service.

Curiously, as of this writing, McCraw’s words have found no mention in the Times itself. In recent years, the newspaper has shown a marked proclivity to avoid printing anything that might risk its front row seat at the government trough.

Stating the obvious, McCraw noted that the “prosecution of him [Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers … he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

That’s because, for one thing, the Times itself published many stories based on classified information revealed by WikiLeaks and other sources. The paper decisively turned against Assange once WikiLeaks published the DNC and Podesta emails.
Yes indeed - this seems all quite correct to me. Here is some more:
McCraw went on to emphasize that, “Assange should be afforded the same protections as a traditional journalist.” The Times lawyer avoided criticizing what the United Nations has branded — twice — the “arbitrary detention” of Assange and his incommunicado, solitary confinement-like situation in the Ecuador embassy in London since March. Multiple reports indicate the new government of Ecuador will evict Assange into the hands of British police.
I agree again. Here is more:
Ten years ago I contended that The Gray Lady — like the rest of the Fourth Estate — was moribund. More recently, I have been saying it is dead. I now stand corrected. Rumors of its death have been exaggerated. But how does one characterize its current state?

Let me borrow a memorable phrase from philosopher Billy Crystal, playing Miracle Max in “The Princess Bride,” while trying to bring the character Wesley back to life. He is just “mostly dead,” Chrystal insisted.

And so it is with today’s corporate media, with a tiny chance, now that The New York Times, watching out for its own equities, might help Assange avoid prosecution for practicing journalism. Actually, he has been accused so far of no crime of any kind.
Well... I don't like The New York Times, but so far I have never thought it was dead or dying.
But McGraw was right and this is a recommended article.
5. A World Designed by Playground Bullies

This article is by Robert Koehler on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

As the week’s news slaps against my consciousness like road slush, some fragments sting more than others. For instance:

“According to the DOJ’s court filing, parents who are not currently in the U.S. may not be eligible for reunification with their children.”

I can’t quite move on with my life after reading a sentence like this. A gouge of incredulity lingers. How is such a cruelly stupid rule possible? What kind of long-term ramification will it have on the entirety of the human race?

Well... I leave "the entirety of the human race" out of consideration, but I do say (and did say above) what I think about the USA's government's policies and of the judges who support it:

I think the USA's government intentionally and illegally kidnapped more than 2500 sometimes extremely small children; I think this happens because the leader of the government is solidly insane (and I am a psychologist); I think another reason this happens is because his government is neofascistic; and I think judges who cooperate with this kidnapping are neofascists or sadists.

Here is some more by Koehler:

This of course is all marginal news, mostly kept in the shadows by the corporate media, which focuses on Russiagate and the Trump Follies, that is to say, on political entertainment, us vs. them, neatly packaged and fed to American news consumers as though it were their unending World Cup tournament. And Hillary Clinton tweets: “Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”

And another gouge of incredulity lingers. Global politics is reduced to winning and losing, our team vs. their team, which makes life a lot more convenient for the powerful because it jettisons the hellish consequences of the game from public awareness: the cholera and torture and such, which are the regrettable side effects of confrontational politics.

I more or less agree with Koehler, but would have put his point quite differently: I think all this differentiation between Good Us and Bad Them is an excellent example of both totalitarian thinking and of totalitarian policies, although both these days are firmly denied by the sick Wikipedia's definition of "totalitarianism" (that seems copied from Brzezinski, who lied: it does not mean what he says it means, and it never did).

Here is an attempt at explanation:

All of which adds up to a con game much, much bigger than Donald Trump, who is basically a malfunctioning cog in the machine. The “machine” is sometimes called the Deep State, which Mike Lofgren, the former Republican congressional aide who coined the term, described as “a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country” — that is to say, Wall Street and Silicon Valley in league with the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security, along with the Justice and Treasury departments, the CIA and much more. It’s America’s quiet, unofficial government, the military-industrial complex holding hands with the prison- industrial complex. The money just isn’t there for most social programs, but it’s there for war, surveillance and incarceration.

I agree with Lofgren that there is a Deep State, as I agreed with Eisenhower that there is a military-industrial complex but I agree both are a bit or rather vague, indeed in part precisely
the non-governmental partners in either tend to be corporations (or some of the individuals who head them) who are extremely secretive about this.

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

The reality, however, as Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens point out in their book Democracy in America? (as quoted by Paul Street), is that government policy “reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”
We’re living, I fear, in a world designed by playground bullies, with institutions focused primarily on self-perpetuation and indifferent to the harm they create. Rules matter. Values don’t.

I more or less agree, but I can't agree with the very last bit, which I would have put as follows:
Rules matter, but only if they conform to the neofascist values of the present American government. And indeed most members of the government, such as Trump, Bolton and Pompeo seem born bullies. 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail