April 30, 2019

Crisis: The Crees, Profitable But No Tax, Trump & Health Care, Climate Change, Good News

“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 April 30, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, April 30, 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 April 30, 2019:
1. The Last Battle
2. The Number of Giant Companies Paying $0 in Corporate Taxes
     Doubled In 2018

3. Trump is deeply underwater with voters on this key 2020 issue

4. 5 Responses to Climate Change Deniers

5. 62% of Americans Believe US Economy Primarily Benefits Rich and

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 Last Battle

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. This is from near its beginning:

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

I say, and yes this article is about the Cree, and the last link gives some more information. I do not know much about the Cree, but it does seem as if I have to add here that there are not 500 Crees, as the above may suggest, but that there are in Canada some 350,000 persons that are Cree or have Cree ancestry.

Anyway. Here is some more on tar sands:

More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned
that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

I agree in principle with Hansen. Here is some more on the Cree:

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

I suppose the above is correct, but like to add that, at least according to the bit on the Cree that I also gave above, there are some 95,000 Cree living in Alberta, Canada.

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

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed.

I say. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

2. The Number of Giant Companies Paying $0 in Corporate Taxes Doubled In 2018

This article is by Ilana Novick on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

JPMorgan Chase’s attempt at Twitter humor failed Monday morning.

What may have seemed like a lighthearted (and since-deleted) joke about its followers’ excessive spending habits was met with a stream of replies pointing out that perhaps a bank that received $12 billion in bailout money after the financial crisis, whose CEO’s salary is $31 million, and that has a history of mortgage fraud, should refrain from publicly lecturing its customers on their spending habits for coffee and lunch.

The reaction to the tweet is reflective of a political climate in which many Americans are concerned about economic inequality and particularly whether corporations are paying their fair share in taxes. Amazon paid no federal taxes in 2018. Neither did Delta Air Lines, Chevron or General Motors. Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s net worth is $150 billion.

Yes indeed. Also, there is some more on this below. Here is one more bit from the present article:

The phenomenon of giant corporations getting tax breaks isn’t new. As Saul and Cohen report, “For decades, profitable companies have been able to avoid corporate taxes.” What has changed is the increase in companies able to do so. “The list of those paying zero roughly doubled last year,” Saul and Cohen continued, “as a result of provisions in President Trump’s 2017 tax bill that expanded corporate tax breaks and reduced the tax rate on corporate income.”

An April report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) reveals how 60 profitable Fortune 500 companies managed to avoid paying taxes. As the report explains:

In 2018, 60 of America’s biggest corporations zeroed out their federal income taxes on $79 billion in U.S. pretax income. Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes at the 21 percent statutory corporate tax rate, these companies enjoyed a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion.

I say, because I did not know this and believe it. And in general, I think I would argue that, morally if perhaps not legally, corporations that make a profit and do not pay taxes are criminal, and indeed if they are not in law, this is probably because the laws are (morally) criminal. And this is a recommended article.

3. Trump is deeply underwater with voters on this key 2020 issue

This article is by Joan McCarter on AlterNet and originally on Daily Kos. It starts as follows:

Donald Trump is nearly 20 points underwater with voters looking ahead to 2020 on the issue of health care. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that voters, by a 17-point margin, say they are more likely to oppose his reelection over his healthcare sabotage.

Trump’s average approval rating in this poll is at a historic low—by almost 10 points—among all presidents, at 38 percent. In this latest poll, 55 percent say that they absolutely will not vote for him next year. Voter intensity more than a year out is also remarkably high—75 percent of Americans and 85 percent of registered voters say they will definitely vote in 2020.

On the issue of health care, just 23 percent say that they are more likely to vote for him because of how he’s handled it, while 40 percent say it’s made them more likely to oppose him. In 2018, among voters who ranked health care as their top issue, 75 percent voted for Democrats, sweeping them into office in a huge wave.

I say, because I did not know this, and because I like both bits of information, viz. that he is much behind the Democrats on health care, and he is also much behind all or nearly all presidents of the USA in terms of average approval rating.

Here is some more on health care (and also see below):

With Trump shooting his mouth off this way, and fighting in federal courts to have the entire Affordable Care Act overturned, there’s no way health care isn’t going to be among the top two or three issues of 2020, if not the paramount concern—with Trump being Trump, it’s hard to say what could happen between now and then to rise to the top of voters’ issues. Regardless, it’s going to help drive what has the makings of another Democratic tsunami.

I hope the writer is right on another Democratic tsunami in 2020, and I agree on health care, and this is a recommended article.

4. 5 Responses to Climate Change Deniers

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

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone who denies climate change? Here are 5 responses to climate change deniers:

Well, I generally avoid people who are stupid or ignorant, but the 5 responses of Reich are all quite correct. I quote them all, but only the bold parts, for there is some more on the places of the (..)s:

1) The science is undeniable. (..)

2) Tackling climate change is good for the economy. (..)

3) Other countries are charging ahead with clean energy, leaving
     America in the coal dust. 

4) We can’t afford not to address climate change. (..)

5) Oil companies have known for decades that carbon pollution
    threatens the planet, but have sought to block action addressing
     the crisis
. (..)

As I said, I think all of the above is quite correct. Here is the last bit from this article:

At this point, anyone who denies climate change is either willfully ignorant or complicit in protecting fossil fuel profits over the safety and security of our children and grandchildren.

I agree, except that I also think there are some people who are too stupid to follow the above. And this is a recommended article, while the next article also is quite interesting:

5. 62% of Americans Believe US Economy Primarily Benefits Rich and Powerful

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

President Donald Trump frequently claims the U.S. economy is "booming" and "better than ever," but most Americans aren't buying it.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey released Monday, 62 percent of U.S. adults believe the "economic system mainly benefits those in power rather than all people."

Breaking down the numbers by party affiliation, the poll found that 82 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents, and 34 percent of Republicans think the fruits of the American economy are flowing primarily to the top of the income distribution.

I say, for I consider this quite good news. In fact, here is schema that gives the numbers:
                              Works to benefit      Works to  benefit
                              All People                   Those in Power             No opinion

All adults                    |34%                      |62%                              | 4%

Registered voters    |36%                      |60%                              | 4%

It is quite good news, because if people think similarly in 2020 and are consistent and minimally rational, it seems probable that Trump will loose the elections of 2020. Which would be very good news (in my opinion).

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

Economic data appear to support the majority's view.

As the Houston Chronicle reported last week, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "median earnings of workers hardly budged in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the same quarter last year."

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the average worker bonus in 2018 "was just $0.01 higher than in 2017," contradicting Trump's claim that his $1.5 trillion in tax cuts would substantially reward the working class.

Massive corporations and rich Americans, by contrast, have seen their profits and pay soar thanks to Trump's tax plan, which remains deeply unpopular.
Most Americans also feel that the U.S. political system is skewed to reward the powerful—72 percent of U.S. adults believe the American political system "works to benefit those in power" rather than "all people," the Post/ABC survey found.

Incidentally, note this is about the American political system:
                              Works to benefit      Works to  benefit
                              All People                   Those in Power             No opinion

All adults                    |23%                      |72%                              | 5%

Registered voters    |24%                      |72%                              | 4%

I say again, for I consider this good news, 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 3 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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