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Nederlog

September 26, 2018

Crisis: Trump & Globalism, Michael Moore, Facebook, Trump & Working Class, Visionary Report


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 26, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 26, 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 September 26, 2018:
1. Trump Boasts and Scorns Globalism to Skeptical U.N. Crowd
2. Michael Moore: Are We Going to Be Like the “Good Germans” Who Let
     Hitler Rise to Power?

3. Facebook Partners With a Pair of Propaganda Purveyors
4. Donald Trump Has Betrayed the Working Class.
5. Visionary Report Demands 'New Social Contract' to Curb Threats Tech
     Giants Pose to Democracy
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. Trump Boasts and Scorns Globalism to Skeptical U.N. Crowd

This article is by Mark Landler on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
President Trump thrust his commitment to an “America First” foreign policy back onto the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. But in his second address on this diplomatic stage, he sounded as eager to claim credit for his achievements after 20 months in office, as he was to disrupt the world order.

If Mr. Trump had changed, so had his audience — no longer as daunted by the insurgent figure who left them slack-jawed last year when he vowed to “crush loser terrorists,” mocked North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” and declared that parts of the world “are going to hell.”

This time, emissaries from around the world listened quietly as Mr. Trump fulminated at foes like Iran and failing states like Venezuela. They nodded as he singled out an enemy-turned-partner, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, expressing optimism for a diplomatic opening that would have seemed far-fetched even a year ago.

But when Mr. Trump declared, “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” the crowd broke into murmurs and laughter.

Briefly disconcerted, the president smiled and said, “I did not expect that reaction, but that’s O.K.”

I say. Well... I am a bit pleased that leading politicians from other countries than the USA can break "into murmurs and laughter", though on the other hand I do not believe that these politicians will save the world from the madman - I am a psychologist - Trump.

Then again, they may do something:

There is also evidence that foreign leaders are more willing to push back. Speaking after Mr. Trump, President Emmanuel Macron of France said the Paris climate accord had survived despite America’s decision to pull out. In a not-so-subtle slap at Mr. Trump, he proposed that countries refuse to sign trade deals with those who do not comply with the accord.

On Monday, France joined Germany and Britain — as well as the other signatories, Russia, China, and Iran — in recommitting to the Iran nuclear accord, repudiated by Mr. Trump in May. They did so even as Mr. Trump urged Europe to isolate Iran and warned of draconian new sanctions that would penalize America’s allies for not cutting off commercial ties with the Iranians.

I think that is good, but it also is my guess this is about as far as the prominent non-American politicians will go, besides murmuring and laughing about some of his words. This is a recommended article.


2. Michael Moore: Are We Going to Be Like the “Good Germans” Who Let Hitler Rise to Power?

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts as follows:
In his new documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9,” filmmaker Michael Moore interviews the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor, Ben Ferencz, who describes President Trump’s policy of family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border and the large-scale detention of immigrant children as a “crime against humanity.” Moore also looks at the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany and compares it to the rise of Trump in the United States.
This is from some days ago, when Democracy Now! published a series of interviews with Michael Moore. Also, I totally skip the first part of this, mostly because I am interested in the opinions of Ben Ferencz, mentioned above.

Here is the first bit that I quote:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, that takes me to the last clip that we’re going to play from your film. We’re talking to Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker, who won that Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, yet another school shooting. But this one is a clip that features 99-year-old Ben Ferencz, the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor.
      (...)
Ben Ferencz, the last Nuremberg prosecutor. Explain, Michael Moore.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I wanted to go speak to him. I didn’t realize there was only one surviving Nuremberg prosecutor. He lives just outside the city here. He is 99. I think his wife is turning 100 in another month or so. And he is a witness from the past, a witness to what happens when you allow fascism to become the way of life and the law of the land. And he’s very powerful, the things he says in the film. At one point he says that Donald Trump, in doing some of these things that he’s done, is committing crimes against humanity. And he says, “You know, this is—I can’t deal with this, because I’m thinking, you know, we hung people for doing some of these things, for behaving like this.”

And one of the inspirations to make this film was a book I had read back in the 1980s by Bertram Gross called Friendly Fascism. And in the book, Gross says that the fascism of the 21st century will not come with concentration camps and swastikas; it will come with a smiley face and a TV show, that the fascism that will take hold in the 21st century, there won’t be a lot of guns fired, because the population will be brainwashed enough. First they’ll be dumbed down—you know, ruin their schools, reduce their press, put whistleblowers in jail. And then brand things—the smiley face. Don’t use swastikas. Just make it happy. “You’re going to be happier if you go my way, the Trump way.”

I think I more or less agree with Ferencz, but I do not know, and indeed one major difference is that the Nuremberg trials came after a World War against fascism, that it defeated militarily. I do hope mankind does not need a third World War - that probably will ne nuclear - to destroy modern fascism, that indeed is rising spectacularly under Trump.

As to Bertram Gross: I think this was perceptive in the 1980s, but while I agree with the dumbing down (that started over 40 years ago in Holland, when most education started to get halved, which is also what the Dutch succeeded in doing - and thus there are far fewer Dutchmen who learned three foreign languages in high school than there were between 1865 and 1965) and with the influence of the media and the internet, but Trump also is using concentration camps for children kidnapped from their parents, while some of his allies parade with swastikas.

Here is more by Michael Moore:
And this is what I find most frightening when I think about, and what I hope this film does in terms of ripping the mask off, what’s really going on here, that we are on—you used the word “precipice” earlier. We are on a precipice. We are on that edge. Democracy has no self-correcting mechanism. It’s a piece of paper, the Constitution. I know we like to get all teary-eyed and all goo-goo about, you know, our wonderful Constitution. It’s a piece of paper. And it’s the human beings in each era that decide exactly what’s going to go on, which part we’re going to listen to and which part we’re not, of this Constitution. And if we get too close to the edge, where we’ve given up too many of our rights, where we’ve allowed the democracy to be whittled down, where we’ve made voting a most difficult thing to do for people who have the right to vote and should be voting—if we do all of that, it could easily fall off that cliff. Before you know it, it could be gone.
I more or less agree that the USA is currently "on a precipice". Here is the last bit that I quote from Michael Moore from this interview:

I took this man seriously from the beginning, and I’m here and I’m telling you now that he has his plans for the way he’d like things to be. He has no intention of leaving the White House. He knows he cannot be indicted. He knows the Constitution won’t allow Mueller to indict him. He can be an unindicted—not co-conspirator, but he’ll be an unindicted criminal. But he doesn’t think he’s going to be impeached. He’s going to call it all rigged. Even if he loses the 2020 election, he’ll say it’s rigged.

Quite possibly so. There is considerably more in this article, which is recommended.

3. Facebook Partners With a Pair of Propaganda Purveyors

This article is by Alan Macleod on Truthdig and originally on FAIR. It starts as follows:

Media giant Facebook recently announced (Reuters, 9/19/18) it would combat “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations founded and funded by the U.S. government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The social media platform was already working closely with the NATO-sponsored Atlantic Council think tank (FAIR.org, 5/21/18).

In a previous FAIR article (8/22/18), I noted that the “fake news” issue was being used as a pretext to attack the left and progressive news sites. Changes to Facebook’s algorithm have reduced traffic significantly for progressive outlets like Common Dreams (5/3/18), while the pages of Venezuelan government–  backed TeleSur English and the independent Venezuelanalysis were shut down without warning, and only reinstated after a public outcry.

I say, for I did not know most of this, including the - supposed? - fact that TeleSur has been reinstated (though indeed their website works at present).

As to Facebook (recently - quite correcly, in my opinion - called "The Toilet" on Last Week Tonight):

According to my own norms Mark Zuckerberg is one of the worst internet criminals I know of (who stole the personal information of over 2 billion persons) and Facebook is a horror - but then I have to grant that I am more intelligent than most and have a better education than most, for which two reasons I now belong to a small minority of those able to publish (on their own sites, as I do, or on Facebook, for the lazy, the stupid and the ignorant, who also don't mind that nearly all of their personal information gets stolen and sold to advertisers).

For those who disagree that Facebook is criminal and/or strongly biased there is this information:

The Washington, D.C.-based NDI and IRI are staffed with senior Democratic and Republican politicians; the NDI is chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while the late Sen. John McCain was the longtime IRI chair. Both groups were created in 1983 as arms of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Cold War enterprise backed by then-CIA director William Casey (Jacobin, 3/7/18). That these two US government creations, along with a NATO offshoot like the Atlantic Council, are used by Facebook to distinguish real from fake news is effectively state censorship.

This seems to differ not at all from straight manipulation - of more than 2 billion users of Facebook. In case you doubt this, there is this:

Soon after it partnered with the Atlantic Council, Facebook moved to delete accounts and pages connected with Iranian broadcasting channels (CNBC, 8/23/18), while The Intercept (12/30/17) reported that in 2017 the social media platform met with Israeli government officials to discuss which Palestinian voices it should censor. Ninety-five percent of Israeli government requests for deletion were granted. Thus the US government and its allies are effectively using the platform to silence dissenting opinion, both at home and on the world stage, controlling what Facebook‘s 2 billion users see and do not see.

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

Public trust in government is at 18 percent—an all-time low (Pew, 12/14/17). There is similar mistrust of Facebook, with only 20 percent of Americans agreeing social media sites do a good job separating fact from fiction. And yet, worldwide, Facebook is a crucial news source. Fifty-two percent of Brazilians, 61 percent of Mexicans, and 51 percent of Italians and Turks use the platform for news; 39 percent of the US gets their news from the site.

This means that, despite the fact that even its own public mistrusts it, the US government has effectively become the arbiter of what the world sees and hears, with the ability to marginalize or simply delete news from organizations or countries that do not share its opinions. This power could be used at sensitive times, like elections.

Again quite so. And this is a strongly recommended article.


4. Donald Trump Has Betrayed the Working Class

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Start with his new tax law–one of the very few laws he actually got through the Republican Congress. Trump said it would likely give every American worker a wage increase of $4,000, but the typical worker’s wages have gone nowhere, which is one reason Republicans have stopped campaigning on the tax law.

Now, Trump wants to use executive action to cut taxes on the rich by an additional $100 billion.  

If that weren’t enough, Trump has cut the pay of average workers. His Labor Department repealed overtime protections, at an estimated cost to workers of $1.2 billion in lost wages each year.

Yes indeed - and two partial explanations are that Trump is rich, and that many of the rich are like Trump: They got rich by effectively stealing from the poor.

Here is some more:

Oh, and remember Trump’s promise to replace the Affordable Care Act with something better? Well, you can forget that one, too. Instead, Trump has done everything he can to undercut the Act, resulting in an anticipated near 20% increase in health insurance premiums, and the biggest burden falling on working families who earn too much to be eligible for subsidies.

As a result of Trump’s undermining of the Affordable Care Act, the number of Americans without health insurance rose by more than 3 million in 2017, after years of declines following the implementation of the Act.

Yes, I do remember, indeed in part because I recently saw a video of Trump promising precisely that. And yes, the rest Reich says is quite correct.

Here is the ending of this article:

Trump’s most recent budget proposal skewers working people with a proposed $763 billion cut in Medicaid and other health programs, $494 billion of cuts in Medicare, and major cuts in education and nutrition over the next 10 years.

Trump has betrayed the working class – but he still claims he’s on their side. That’s one of his biggest lies of all.
More or less so - and no, I still do not believe in "the working class", but then again I also know no one (other than my brother) who has my kind of background, so I will not even attempt to explain this here. And this is a recommended article. 
5. Visionary Report Demands 'New Social Contract' to Curb Threats Tech Giants Pose to Democracy

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
"The crisis for democracy posed by digital disinformation demands a new social contract for the internet rooted in transparency, privacy, and competition," declares a new report that challenges the overwhelming power wielded by large tech firms and the online platforms they now control.

Published by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank New America—and building on a previous paper titled Digital Deceit—the new report by Dipayan Ghosh of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and Ben Scott of the Omidyar Network argues that "as a democratic society, we must intervene to steer the power and promise of technology to benefit the many rather than the few."

The intervention they propose in Digital Deceit II is not small. As Ghosh told the Wall Street Journal, "We need to completely reorganize the way that industry works."

Well... I agree with what the report says, but I also think it is too late. In fact, the report seems to explain this itself:

"For two decades, public policy has taken a hands-off approach to these new markets, believing that regulation might blunt innovation before these technologies reached maturity," the report explains. "Now, we have dominant market players that have built the most valuable companies in the world, and yet they still operate largely without the oversight of public government."

Considering that "the companies that control this market are among the most powerful and valuable the world has ever seen," it notes, "we cannot expect them to regulate themselves."

I agree, sort of, but I stress the fact that "public policy" the last twenty years has been conducted in major part by people who knew little of programming or about computers, while by now the firms, such as Facebook and Google, that were created in part on the basis of this vast ignorance have become "the most valuable companies in the world".

And while I completely agree with the principle that "we cannot expect them to regulate themselves", I should like to know how you can regulate them properly: it seems about twenty years too late for that question, for now they are the richest and most powerful corporations there are.

Here is a survey of what the report calls for:

To promote more disclosures regarding the forces that use social media in hopes of influencing public opinion, they call for:

  • Real-time and archived information about targeted political advertising;
  • Clear accountability for the social impact of automated decision-making; and
  • Explicit indicators for the presence of non-human accounts in digital media.

To safeguard consumer privacy and promote users having more control over personal data, they suggest:

  • Consumer control over data through stronger rights to access and removal;
  • Transparency for the user of the full extent of data usage and meaningful consent; and
  • Stronger enforcement with resources and authority for agency rule-making.

To ensure that consumers "have meaningful options to find, send, and receive information over digital media," they recommend:

  • Stronger oversight of mergers and acquisitions;
  • Antitrust reform including new enforcement regimes, levies, and essential services regulation; and
  • Robust data portability and interoperability between services.

I agree with all of that, but I also think this "visionary report" is probably too late. And this is a recommended article.


Note

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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