January 26, 2019

Crisis: Trump´s Shutdown, On Venezuela, 9/11 & Illegal CIA Operations, Brexit, Temporary Jobs

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 26, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, January 26, 2019.

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 three 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 January 26, 2019:
1. Trump’s Shutdown Was a Cruel Joke
2. The U.S. Is Violating International Law by Attempting a Coup in

3. The Illegal CIA Operation That Brought Us 9/11

4. How Brexit Distracted the UK From Its Real Problems

5. The Permanent Temp Economy
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’s Shutdown Was a Cruel Joke

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

What a debacle President Trump’s shutdown proved to be — what a toddler’s pageant of foot-stomping and incompetence, of vainglory and self-defeat. Mr. Trump tormented public servants and citizens and wounded the country, and, in conceding on Friday after holding the government hostage for 35 days, could claim to have achieved nothing.

He succeeded only in exposing the emptiness of his bully’s bravado, of his “I alone can fix it” posturing. Once upon a time, Mr. Trump promised that Mexico would pay for a wall. He instead made all Americans pay for a partisan fantasy.

Maybe you want a wall. Can you possibly argue that Mr. Trump’s shutdown strategy advanced your cause? He made the right decision on Friday — to sign a bill reopening the government through Feb. 15, giving lawmakers time to reach a permanent deal. But he could have had this same outcome without a shutdown. He ultimately agreed to the sort of bill that Democrats have been pitching for weeks — one that contains not one dollar in wall funding.

Yes, I think this is all correct. There was - of course - a reaction by Trump:

In his announcement, the president struggled to obscure his failure with yet another rambling infomercial about the glory of walls. “No matter where you go, they work,” he said (raising the question of how you can get there if, in fact, there’s a wall in your way). He had nothing of substance to offer beyond the usual specious claims that only his wall can end the border flood of drugs, crime and migrant women who have been duct-taped and stuffed into vans by human traffickers. To repeat: Fewer border-crossing apprehensions were made in 2017 than at any time since 1971; drugs are overwhelmingly smuggled through established points of entry; and the only crisis at the border is a humanitarian one, of people fleeing violence and seeking asylum — again, mostly at established points of entry — under international law.

This is also quite correct. And there was Ann Coulter:

Within minutes of the announcement, the bomb-throwing pundit Ann Coulter — among those credited with having scolded Mr. Trump into rejecting the temporary funding bill passed by the Senate last month — tweeted her judgment:

“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”

The president tried to stand tough for Ms. Coulter and her ilk. Even as federal workers lined up at food banks, sought unemployment benefits and took backup gigs driving for Uber, he insisted he would not give an inch. He stormed out of meetings with Democratic leaders. He indulged in a public spat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over his State of the Union address. He tweeted angrily. On Thursday, he was still vowing, “We will not cave!”

But on Friday he caved.

As to Ann Coulter: I have seen her quite a few times on Bill Maher´s show (before that was made almost wholly invisible by countless uploads with lies and deceptions). I think I would say about her that is she is fairly intelligent, and that she is also a right-wing hysteric. I cannot take her serious, but Trump seems to have done so.

Here is a conclusion by The Editorial Board:

Of course, the new narrative — that Mr. Trump got owned by Ms. Pelosi — isn’t likely to sit well with him, either. And who knows what he’ll do next to try to salve his ego, and salvage some political capital with the minority of Americans who still seem inclined to support him.

Yes, I agree, and this is a recommended article.

2. The U.S. Is Violating International Law by Attempting a Coup in Venezuela

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

As President Trump announces that the U.S. will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s new leader and sitting President Nicolás Maduro breaks off relations with the United States, we speak with a former U.N. independent expert who says the U.S. is staging an illegal coup in the country. Alfred de Zayas, who visited Venezuela as a U.N. representative in 2017, says, “The mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. … This reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003.”

I wrote yesterday about Venezuela - see here - and admitted that in fact I know little about Venezuela. Then again, I agreed yesterday with the letter by Chomsky and 69 others, who protested against the support Trump gives to an "interim president" who never was elected,
and I still completely agree with that.

Here is more from Democracy Now!:

ALFRED DE ZAYAS: (..) As far as a coup d’état, well, it is not a consummated coup d’état. It is an attempted coup d’état. Now, we all believe in democracy. Your program is called Democracy Now! Now, there’s nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état, and also boycotting elections. As you know, there have been 26, 27 elections in Venezuela since Chávez was elected in 1998. So, if you want to play the game, you have to participate in the elections. And if the opposition refused to participate in the elections, they bear responsibility for the situation that has ensued.
Now, is it a coup d’état? Well, this is a matter of semantics. We have here an unconstitutional situation in which the legislature is usurping competences that belongs to the executive and to the judiciary. The judiciary has already declared all of these actions and declarations of the National Assembly to be unconstitutional.

I think this is probably correct (and in fact the situation is also ongoing and changing). Here is some more:

ALFRED DE ZAYAS: (..) But my concern—and I think it is a concern of every person who believes in democracy and in the rule of law—is to calm the waters. My concern is to avoid a civil war. One thing that I told to members of the opposition is that you simply cannot topple the government, and Maduro is not simply going to roll over. I mean, there are 7, 8, 9 million Venezuelans who are committed Chavistas, and you have to take them into account. What are you going to do with them if you topple the government through a coup d’état? What are you going to do with these people? These people are most likely going to fight. Now, we don’t want fighting. We don’t want shedding of blood. Therefore, the only logical avenue now is to call for dialogue.

I more or less agree, although I also think that if the Venezuelan government does get toppled, the next holders of power will be rightists supported by the USA, and these have the example of toppling Allende in Chile in 1973 followed by 16 years of dictatorship.

In fact, this seems a quite likely alternative. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

ALFRED DE ZAYAS: Well, the mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. The mainstream media has prepared, through a conundrum of fake news, an atmosphere that the public should accept this regime change imposed by the United States on the people of Venezuela because, ultimately, it’s supposed to be for the good of the Venezuelans.

Now, this reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003. Now, the mainstream media supported all the lies, all the manipulations of George W. Bush and of Tony Blair to convince the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And on this excuse, it was made somewhat palatable to world public opinion that you would enter Iraq and change the government by force. Now, the fact is that here you had not only a crime of aggression, not only an illegal war, as former—the late Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in more than one occasion, stated. Here you have actually a revolt of 43 states, the “coalition of the willing,” against international law. If there is one tenet of the U.N. Charter that is jus cogens, that is peremptory international law, it’s the prohibition of the use of force. And this attack on Iraq was conducted by 43 states in collusion, breaking all the rules of international law. Now, that was preceded by this media campaign.

Yes, I agree with his analogy. There is considerably more in this article, that is strongly recommended.

3. The Illegal CIA Operation That Brought Us 9/11

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Was it conspiracy or idiocy that led to the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to detect and prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon headquarters? That’s one of the questions at the heart of “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror,” by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski. In their careful and thorough investigation of the events leading up to the attacks, the authors uncover a story about the Central Intelligence Agency’s neglect, possible criminal activities and a cover-up that may have allowed al-Qaida to carry out its plans uninhibited by government officials.

I am Dutch, but I have taken - some years ago - a considerable interest in the questions Scheer and the authors of “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror” pose, and I think the above analysis, that gets considerably expanded by the interview that follows it, is quite plausible.

Here is some more from Scheer´s introduction to his interview:

“When we sat down with Clarke … he told us he couldn’t see any other explanation but that there was an op [and] that it never made it to the White House because it would have had to go through him,” says Nowosielski. “And his friend [then CIA Director] George Tenet was responsible for malfeasance and misfeasance in the runup to 9/11.”

Once the plans for the 9/11 attack must have become clear to the CIA, why didn’t the agency prevent it from taking place? Duffy and Nowosielski come to the simple, shocking conclusion that because the CIA is prohibited from operating on U.S. soil, those involved in the operation chose to avoid prosecution rather than come clean.

Yes, this again seems quite plausible.

Then again, I should add that at least in the interview that follows two things that I also considered plausible some years ago, namely that (1) it is most unlikely - according to many American architects - that a hit by a plane can completely destroy two buildings and also make them collapse as if these buildings may have been set up with explosives to collapse as neatly as they did, while (2) there seems to be some filmed evidence for the occurence of such explosives.

Again I do not know the true explanation (and very few do), but I did find the evidence from the architects rather compelling.

Here is a bit more from Scheer:

RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” where the intelligence comes from my guests. And the title is really appropriate for the book we’re going to talk about today, “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror.” And the authors are John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski. And they are investigative reporters, and the watchdogs here are the people in our intelligence agencies that are supposed to be protecting the nation. And this book cuts very deeply into the unsolved mystery of how 9/11 happened. Why weren’t we better prepared to prevent it? It’s one of the most important events in American history; it certainly has shaped our lives in terms of a surveillance state, our rights and everything else, up to the present. And this book, I think, represents the most exhaustive and well-documented effort to get to the bottom of the whole thing.

I like Scheer, simply because he is intelligent and often right, and I trust the above is a more or less fair introduction to the book.

Here is one more bit from this article:

RN: This is Ray. The book is largely about looking at this case study of the failure leading up to 9/11, the people who were involved in that failure, how that came about, and how they were successful, to the present day, in managing to obscure the public from really fully understanding that this was, in the words of one of our sources, really just a handful of people. And the most jarring thing is that they’re still, in some cases, working today in I guess Trump’s CIA. And we sort of document through the second half of the book what damage was done to America because they remained in their positions.

Yes, I think this also probably is a fair summary. There is considerably more in the article and interview, and it is all recommended.

4. How Brexit Distracted the UK From Its Real Problems

This article is by No Name (no one identified) on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:

In early January, the British parliament debated one of the country's most pressing problems. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur responsible for extreme poverty, had made a harsh accusation against the United Kingdom's government at the end of last year. After a two-week journey through the fifth richest country in the world, Alston, who mostly focuses on Africa and Central America, had argued that Theresa May's government had systematically pushed countless British citizens into poverty. He said, "this is not just a disgrace but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one," and went on to also highlight the country's rising child poverty rates.

This accusation had to be addressed. When the debate in the lower house took place on a Monday evening, only 14 of the 650 parliamentarians were present in the Commons Chamber. The minister responsible sent a deputy in her place. He promised to take Alston's report "seriously." Then the 30 minutes dedicated to the agenda point were over.

This coming Tuesday, the British parliament will once again debate Brexit.

I say, for while I do know that one of the major consequences of both Thatcher and the Blatcherite Blair is that the few English rich grew a whole lot richer, and the many English poor grew a whole lot poorer, I did not know that (according to Philip Alston, who probably said the truth) "this is not just a disgrace but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one," and I also did not know the parliamentary and governmental reaction to the news of great poverty of many English workers (with 16 out of 650 ¨representatives of the people¨ present + one deputy minister).

Here is more:

When Theresa May became prime minister in July 2016, shortly after the Brexit referendum, she seemed to anticipate that the 52 percent of Brits who voted to leave the European Union hadn't merely done so because they passionately hated the EU. She dedicated her first speech to the nation to the millions of British people who, after years of forced austerity, were only "just managing." She called it a "burning injustice" that "if you are born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others." May promised she would, in all her governmental decisions, "not think of the powerful, but of you."
Two and a half years have passed since then, and all of May's decisions since that point have been either wrong or were reversed shortly after being announced. Most of these decisions were related to Brexit. There was, unfortunately, no time for the "burning injustice."

Yes, I think this is quite correct, and Theresa May was simply lying when she spoke about Britain´s poor (although she very probably did not lie when she formulated the following scandalous fact about Great Britain: ¨"if you are born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than¨ if you are not born poor).

Here is more:

Nine years after the Conservative-led government introduced a brutal austerity policy in the wake of the financial crisis, the country has partly been ruined by the process. A study recently concluded that almost 4 million children in the UK grow up in families that cannot afford healthy food. A new welfare system, called Universal Credit, was supposed to make it easier for them to get welfare -- but has thus far mainly made it easier for them to become poor.

I think this is very probably also correct, and it seems a very great shame to me that in one of the richest countries in the world ¨almost 4 million children in the UK grow up in families that cannot afford healthy food¨.

I did live in England in 1972 and 1973 (a considerable part of the time but not all the time, because I got neither a permit to work nor a permit to stay). I have been ill since 1.1.1979 (with what is now known - in Holland - as a ¨serious and chronic disease¨, in fact precisely like my ex, who got ill 9 days after me, and who also still is ill), and this made it impossible to visit Britain again, except briefly in 1983, but I do know the many poor got a whole lot poorer, whereas the few rich got a whole lot richer, all thanks to both the Conservatives and the Blatcherists.

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

The country's National Health Service, once a source of national pride, is in permanent crisis mode, with tens of thousands of positions unfilled. And even if the official number of unemployed people is sinking, the number of "working poor" is constantly growing.

By contrast, there seem to be unlimited resources for Brexit. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on the project. Hundreds of millions more are in the pipeline. Britain's departure from the EU has paralyzed almost the entire government apparatus.

Yes, I mostly agree, although I add that I have not seen any Conservative government since Thatcher that really cared for the poor, or indeed was interested in doing much for them other than lying. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. The Permanent Temp Economy

This article is by Louise Rubacky on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The title of Louis Hyman’s book, “Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary,” gives a glimpse of the specificity readers will find in this meticulous chronicle of the rise of temporary work, from post World War II to the present. Hyman is a thorough and fair-minded guide through the evolution of attitudes toward labor and the resulting societal upheavals. Because he tracks the slow but steady trajectory toward the gig economy from its first steps in recessionary 1958, much of his research will be surprising to those who are not MBAs or labor historians.

This sounds rather interesting for two reasons. The first is general, for it is a fact that more and more people in the West loose their stable jobs and have to earn money (almost always considerably less) by temporary jobs, and the second is personal, for although I am ill since forty years now (with ¨a serious and chronic disease¨), I did work in temporary jobs between 1969 and 1975 (and also for some months in 1978), which I did not because I could not find a stable job, but because I wanted to study and did study, and temporary jobs made it much easier for me to work only part of the time, which I nearly always did.

Then again, the situation in the early 1970ies was quite different from the present situation, simply because many tens of millions lost their stable jobs.

Here is some more:

The U.S. enjoyed about 25 years of economic growth and relative stability after the Second World War, and the ’58 recession was short-lived. Still, it was that long ago that entrepreneur Elmer Singer began to publicly warn of the unlikely continuation of secure, full-time employment for all, and the perils of complacency that would descend on those failing to react to numerous signs threatening corporate vitality.
Singer also correctly read the country’s consistently narrow regard for women; he had the nerve to build a business that for years employed mostly “white-gloved” women, and call it Manpower. (At intervals, Hyman reminds readers of our discriminatory workplace history, including New Deal policies that instituted essential worker protections, except for men of color and all women.)

I suppose this is correct, and indeed I also worked for Manpower in the early 1970ies, and indeed for quite a number of other similar organization, namely as a typist in three foreign languages, which was relatively well paid. Then again, I should add that of all of the many Manpower-like firms I worked for, only a single one seemed polite and fair, and that was not an ordinary Manpower-like firm, but one that was run by students and for students.

Here is some more:

As ethics became less of a priority in business behavior, doors to new ideas of how best to increase profits opened wider. Hyman covers the rotating trends—from conglomeration to growth matrix to reacceptance of monopolies—that defied John Kenneth Galbraith’s theory of corporate stability through measured profit growth. (Hyman quotes Galbraith: “Are the capitalist and communist industrial systems really sisters under the skin?” Ideologically committed free-marketeers might be appalled by this idea, but Galbraith’s analysis that markets and capitalism are incompatible as practiced proved prescient.)

Well... I think this can be mostly reduced to: From the 1970ies onwards, profit was served much rather than poor persons, and that simply implied that most non-rich people working in stable jobs ran the risk of being dismissed, and of having to work in poorer paid (and less well insured) temporary jobs, and this tendency is still continuing and strengthening.

Also, as an aside: I did read Galbraith in the 1970ies, but I was not impressed. My reasons may perhaps be gleaned from what is quoted above: Galbraith´s analysis ¨that markets and capitalism are incompatible¨ seems to suffer from undefined terms (like ¨markets¨ and ¨capitalism¨). At any rate, I was not impressed by him (which I was by Keynes, whom I also read in the early 1970ies).

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

As the turned pages mounted, drawing me closer to stories of today’s extreme have-and-have-not tech world, it was clear that most consultancy research pointed to the same finding: companies would maximize profit by getting rid of people and/or outsourcing jobs to pay people less for their work. Their language of leanness was less indelicate and changed over time, with differences in emphasis like the power of CEO talent. Nevertheless, dumping employees from payrolls was the trend that has proved unstoppable, and will continue.

Yes indeed: ¨companies would maximize profit by getting rid of people and/or outsourcing jobs to pay people less for their work¨ and ¨the trend that has proved unstoppable, and will continue¨. 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail