August 8, 2018

Crisis: On Legal Immigrants, Threatening Catastrophy, Trumpism, Julian Assange, On Apple


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 8, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, August 8, 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 August 8, 2018:
1. The Trump Administration’s Crackdown on Legal Immigrants Exposes
     Its Racism

2. Earth Could Be Less than 2 Degrees From Catastrophe
3. Here's How Trump Will Convince Supporters to Stick With Him
4. Pilger Excoriates Media on Assange Silence
5. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook— Serf Labor, Overpriced iPhones, and Wasted
     Burning Profits
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. The Trump Administration’s Crackdown on Legal Immigrants Exposes Its Racism

This article is by Bill Boyarsky on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Lost amid the harrowing stories of children separated from their families is another xenophobic aspect of President Trump’s immigration policy. That’s his effort to sharply limit the number of legal immigrants, who are increasingly from Asia, from entering the United States.

Yes, I said “legal.” These are not undocumented immigrants—the usual Trump target. On the contrary, they are women, men and children who have followed all the rules and laws of the complex immigration process. They deserve recognition. But to Trump and his base of older right-wing white men, they are the enemy, making America less white every year.

Yes, I think that is true. In my terms - as I defined these, carefully also, unlike any journalist I know of - Trump is a neofacist and a racist, and my reason to add racism is - quite simply - that I did not add racism as a characteristic to neofascism (which I still think was a correct decision, even if it turned out to be false of Trump).

Here is some more on legal immigrants to the USA:

The Pew Research Center said lawful immigrants account for about three quarters of the foreign-born population of the United States.

They have applied, been vetted and then wait for permission to immigrate for six years or more. Once in the United States, after a period of time, they can become citizens, taking their oath to support the country in ceremonies often covered by the media. These ceremonies are usually hailed with pride as reminders that we are a nation of immigrants.

But President Trump and his crew have a different view. They don’t want us to be that kind of nation.

Yes. And incidentally, in the USA everyone except the Indians (who have been mostly exterminated) is an immigrant or hails from immigrants. Then again, most immigrant until fairly recently where white.

Here is some more background:

The Migration Policy Institute said, “The foreign-born share of the U.S. population is at its highest level since 1910, with the approximately 44 million immigrants living in the United States representing 13.5 percent of the overall population. With U.S. fertility rates at a historic low, the Census Bureau projects that net international migration will be the main driver behind U.S. population growth between 2027 and 2038.”

The Brookings Institution projects that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will make up 49.9 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.8 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations.

Well... it is a prediction that will take 27 years to become true. I do not care one bit whether it is true, basically because I see no human differences whatsoever (besides color of the skin) between all races, but then I am not called Trump.

Here is Boyarsky's ending:

I’m betting on people like them, rather than Trump’s minority older white base. And I’d say so-called base. I imagine there are people who voted for Trump who are now sick of the racist, dishonest Trump administration.

So take your 30 to 35 percent “base,” Trump, and refill its tanks with more hate. I’ll take the better America I see every day.

I mostly agree and this is a recommended article.

2. Earth Could Be Less than 2 Degrees From Catastrophe

This article is by Jon Queally on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

Warning of a possible domino effect as multiple climate feedback loops are triggered within a dynamic cascade of rising temperatures and warming oceans, scientists behind a frightening new study say that for the sake of humanity’s future they hope scenarios explored in their new models do not come to pass.

“I do hope we are wrong, but as scientists we have a responsibility to explore whether this is real,” Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where the research was done, told the Guardian. “We need to know now. It’s so urgent. This is one of the most existential questions in science.”

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new study, while not conclusive in its findings, warns that humanity may be just 1°C [1.8 F] away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago.

The research, according to its abstract, explores “the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a ‘Hothouse Earth’ pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene.”

I say, for while I know a fair amount of ecology, indeed since almost 50 years now, I did not know the above. Then again, I consider this study quite plausible, indeed precisely because I have been worrying about the "domino effect as multiple climate feedback loops are triggered" ever since 1972 - and in my opinion (then and now) these specific domino effects arise out of the collapse of other feedback loops, that kept the earth cool.

Besides, since I have also witnessed 50 years of far too little actions in the field of ecology, I also think it is more likely than not that 1 degree C more on average will be reached quite soon.

Here is more by Queally:

With Arctic ice and glaciers melting away; increasingly powerful and frequent storms in the Atlantic and Pacific; coral reefs dying from warming oceans; record-setting wildfires in the U.S.; unprecedented heatwaves in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere—climate researchers have been at the forefront of sounding the alarms about the frightening path humanity is now following.

“In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight,” said Dr. Phil Williamson, a climate researcher at the University of East Anglia, about the latest study. “The authors argue that we need to be much more proactive in that regard, not just ending greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible, but also building resilience in the context of complex Earth system processes that we might not fully understand until it is too late.”

Yes, I fully agree although I also think that being "much more proactive" goes against the profits of the big corporations, which also happens to be their final argument: Everying else may collapse, as long as their profits remain the same or are increasing.

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

In order to avoid the worst-case scenarios, the researchers behind the study say that “collective human action is required” to steer planet’s systems away from dangerous tipping points. “Such action,” they write, “entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.”

Well... (i) I agree to all of this but (ii) I also regard it as quite unlikely to happen. And while I hope I am quite mistaken, I fear I am not. And this is a strongly recommended article. 
3. Here's How Trump Will Convince Supporters to Stick With Him

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:

Trump and his spokespeople and other allies have been shifting the narrative from whether Donald Trump and his inner circle colluded with Russians during the 2016 election to "So what! Collusion is not illegal!" Trump's confession on Sunday is but the next step in an overall strategy of normalizing the heretofore unthinkable in American politics and society. In many ways, this is the Trump's administration's guiding principle.

Donald Trump will also continue his assault on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party and their voters' loyalty, patriotism and humanity. This too is but an extension of a decades-long strategy by Republicans and the right-wing media, in which violent and eliminationist rhetoric -- and stochastic terrorism -- directed at liberals, progressives, and Democrats is the norm.

I think this is more or less correct. Here is a question which this poses:

Will it work?


Trump's political movement meets the definition of a cult. As explained by Steven Hassan, one of the world's foremost experts on the subject, "Donald Trump fits the stereotypical profile of a cult leader. His followers fit the model as well. Many of them, especially the ones that say, 'He could do anything and we would still believe him, we would still follow him,' sound like people who have been indoctrinated into a totalistic mindset."

Republicans and other conservatives are increasingly authoritarian and possess a deep disdain for democracy. Research by political scientists and others has revealed that "winning at any costs" -- even if that  means subverting democracy -- is increasingly all that matters for many on the American right.

Well... in fact I am not much interested whether "Trump's political movement meets the definition of a cult". What I am interested in are the stupidity and ignorance of most of the followers of Trump, but then these - quite important - questions are hardly ever discussed
in the American media.

Here is some more:

For Trump and his public, journalists and are "enemies of the people," to be vilified and, if need be, targeted for violence.

What can be done?

Of course the Republican Party and their voters and news media will never stand up against Donald Trump. This will be true even if Robert Mueller uncovers incontrovertible evidence that Trump and his allies intentionally and in violation of law colluded with Russia to undermine American democracy and that Trump personally obstructed justice in an effort to conceal the crimes.

Optimally, Donald Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office. That should also be the fate of any Republican elected officials who aided and abetted Trump's betrayal of American democracy and his treasonous behavior. Unfortunately, this is exceedingly unlikely.
Well... I quite agree that "Donald Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office", but then my motives are - predominantly though not only - that I am a psychologist (and yes, six years of studying it does make for some differences) and that I am quite convinced - since the beginning of 2016 - that Trump has a serious personality disorder, which totally disqualifies him as president of the USA.

Then again, I do agree with DeVega that it is unlikely that Trump will be impeached.

And this is from the ending of the article:

The American people are the country's remaining hope. They will need to engage in nationwide strikes and protests that disrupt day-to-day life. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons that range ranging from cowardice to learned helplessness and exhaustion, most Americans have become used to the moral, ethical,and political abomination that is Age of Donald Trump. Their outrage is spent.
History's epitaph for American democracy -- that less-than-perfect time before the irreparable harm inflicted on our country's democracy and culture by Trump's presidency -- may well include the observation that Americans surrendered their country with surprisingly little struggle.
Well... I do not know whether this is correct, but I agree it well may be. And this is a recommended article.
4. Pilger Excoriates Media on Assange Silence

This article is by Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico on Consortiumnews.
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and investigative reporter John Pilger takes the gloves off on the continuing attempts to upend WikiLeaks and arrest its founding publisher, Julian Assange, in this interview with Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico.

Pilger talks about Assange’s deteriorating health and the physical dangers he faces during this period of virtual isolation. Pilger also excoriates the western media for their silence and pro-government stand on the marginalizing and potential prosecution of Assange, even after they collaborated with WikiLeaks and major high-profile breaking stories.
Yes, I mostly agree. Also, because I consider Julian Assange's present position to be quite serious, I will quote a bit more than usually. Here is the first bit:
DB: John, what is the latest we know about how Julian Assange is being treated and his current state?

John Pilger: His state of health is just about the same, as I understand it. He needs medical attention, the kind of treatment you get only in a hospital. But it has been made clear to him that if he attempts to go to a hospital he will not be given free passage and he will be arrested. Since he was arrested in 2010, Assange has not been charged with a single crime. His treatment amounts to the most unprecedented persecution. Julian could leave the embassy if his own government, the government of his homeland, Australia, applied legitimate diplomatic pressure on behalf of its citizen. We must ask ourselves why this hasn’t happened.

My own feeling is that there is a great deal of collusion between the Australian, the British and the US governments–meant to close down WikiLeaks completely and/or deliver Julian Assange to the Americans.
Yes indeed: I agree. Here is more:
The new foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, Jeremy Hunt, said sarcastically that the British police would offer Julian “a warm welcome” when he came out, when he would face serious charges. There are no serious charges. He hasn’t been charged with anything.

Was Hunt referring to a deal which has already been done with the United States on extradition? I don’t know. But this is the milieu of machination around someone who has the right of natural justice concerning his freedom. Putting aside freedom of speech, the persecution of this man has been something that should horrify all free-thinking people. If it doesn’t horrify us, then we have surrendered something very valuable.
Yes, I agree again. Also, as a personal remark: I am not and never was a great admirer of Julian Assange, but I always thought that what he was doing on Wikileaks was quite important and is good journalism (regardless of my feelings for Assange).

Here is more:
JP: Nothing in my time as a journalist has equaled the rise of WikiLeaks and its extraordinary impact on journalism. It is probably the only journalistic organization that has a 100% record of accuracy and authenticity! All of WikiLeaks’ revelations have been authentic. And it has been done “without fear or favor.”
WikiLeaks has released information that people have a right to know across the spectrum. It has released something like 800,000 documents from Russia, and now WikiLeaks is accused of being an agent of Russia!
I completely agree. Here is more:
Randy Credico: People sometimes forget that, apart from being a journalist, Julian Assange is a human being. You have known him a long time. Could you give us a feel for the kind of person Julian Assange is?

JP: Julian is a very principled individual. He feels very strongly about the moral basis of WikiLeaks. When he first put up WikiLeaks, he wrote that the whole idea of transparency, honoring people’s right to know, was the central aim of the website. He feels that very strongly. Any attempt to do a deal with Julian to shut down WikiLeaks will no doubt be resisted. As a person, Julian is an extremely interesting man. He is very well read. He studied physics. He has a very good sense of humor, and I have often laughed out loud with him about situations that others might consider too bleak to discuss. His black humor is a part of his survival kit. Obviously, he is incredibly resilient. Personally, I could never endure what he has, especially in recent years. But this comes with a cost and his health is continuing to deteriorate. Those close to him are extremely worried.
I do not know anything like the above, but I do accept it. And here is my answer to a question that is not raised in this interview: If Julian Assange does get arrested, will Wikileaks collapse? I think not, and it is continuing right now (but Wikipedia - which continuously grows more horrible - now does not even supply its internet address).

Here is more:
DB: The corporate press has a major responsibility if Julian Assange goes down, don’t you agree?

JP: As you know, Dennis, governments do respond to pressure from powerful media interests. It rarely happens but when it does governments do change their tune. There has been no pressure from media in the United States, Britain, Australia or pretty much anywhere except in programs like yours outside the mainstream. You are absolutely right in that the responsibility of journalists for what has happened to Julian Assange and what might happen to WikiLeaks is undeniable.
The Guardian, which used to consider itself the most enlightened newspaper in the country, has probably been the worst. The frontal attacks have been coming not from governments but from journalists. I described this recently as “Vichy journalism,” a term which now fits so much of the mainstream media. It collaborates in the same way that the Vichy government in France collaborated with the Nazis.
Well... I don't know about “Vichy journalism”, but otherwise I mostly agree. Here is more:
The attacks on Julian Assange illustrate what has happened to the so-called free media in the West. I have been a journalist for a very long time and I have always worked within the mainstream, but the journalism I see now is part of a rapacious establishment and one of its prime targets is Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. This is precisely because WikiLeaks is producing the kind of journalism that they ought to be doing. WikiLeaks has in fact shamed journalists, which might help to explain the deeply personal abuse he has suffered. WikiLeaks has revealed what journalists should have revealed a long time ago.
I think this may very well be quite correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
JP: It’s very simple. This is about justice. In a famous speech given in the 1930’s by Parson Martin Niemoller, he said that first the Nazis came for socialists, but he didn’t speak up because that didn’t concern him. Then they came for trade unionists, but he didn’t speak up because that didn’t concern him. He didn’t speak up when they came for the Jews because he wasn’t a Jew. And, of course, finally they came for him. That might not be a precise parallel, but if Julian Assange is allowed to literally go under, it represents the conquest of all of us. It means that we have kept quiet. Keeping quiet has allowed the great atrocities of histories to take place. If Julian is allowed to be spirited away to some super-max hellhole, it will be a great atrocity.
Yes, I quite agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook— Serf Labor, Overpriced iPhones, and Wasted Burning Profits

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It has a a subtitle which I quote because it is a good summary:
Apple’s business model rests on low wage-labor in China and gouging iPhone consumers in the U.S. The federal cops on the corporate antitrust beat have been asleep for years— a somnolence well recognized by Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google.
Yes indeed. Here is more:

The New York Times screamed its Headline— “In 1997, Apple was 90 Days from Going Broke. On Thursday [Aug. 2, 2018], It Became the first publicly traded American company to be valued at…$1,000,000,000,000.” The first trillion dollar company!

The boosters and commentators cheered, adding, “How High Could it Go?” In CEO’s Tim Cook’s announcement, we learned that there were $20 billion more of the shareholders money spent on wasteful stock buybacks. Stock buybacks enable fatter compensation metrics for Apple’s bosses (see Steven Clifford’s The CEO Pay Machine). Corporate managers love stock buybacks.

Earlier this year Apple executives dictatorially announced that it was going to spend $100 billion to buying back its stock, without of course, receiving the owners-shareholders’ approval. The owners might have preferred that some of that amount be used to pay them greater cash dividends.
Yes indeed. And here are some of Nader's suggestions what Apple could do:
Some suggestions: Two billion dollars (a mere 2 percent of that $100 billion) would double the wages of its 1.3 million serf-workers driven to the wall by Apple’s Chinese-based mega-factory contractor. Another two billion would have made major improvements in the global recycling of the present deadly (to the environment and workers) handling of toxic discarded iPhones and computers. Some of that $100 billion could have gone to productive investments, R&D, shoring up Apple’s pension plan, raising wages of Apple’s employees, paying Apple’s fair share of taxes or, consumers take note, lowering the prices of their over-priced phones and components.
Precisely (but none of this is in Tim Cooke's personal interests, so he will not do it - and specifically he will not rise the wages of the Chinese he exploits).

This is from the ending of Nader's article:

Concentration of market power in other fields feed the likelihood of future instability through a domino effect. The top five megabanks in the U.S. control about half of the deposits, compared to about one-fifth twenty years ago. Labor’s annual share of the nation’s wealth gains have been declining since the 1990s. Speculation on Wall Street, slowed after the great crash of 2008, is roaring ahead toward the inevitable cliffs of unbridled greed. More taxpayer bailouts?

Grave risk levels are signaling caution; yet incredibly, a Republican Congress and Trump have loosened regulation on Wall Street.

Precisely. In fact, my own guess is that there will be a major collapse soon, but I do not know when, nor what its effects will be. 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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