May 31, 2019

 Crisis: Brexit + British Trumps, Free Speech Threatened, Society in Decay, No "Free Trade"

“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 May 31, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, May 31, 2019.

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from May 31, 2019:
1. Brexit and the Rise of the British Trumps
2. This ‘Fake News’ Law Threatens Free Speech.

3. Society Is In Decay–When the Worst Is First and the Best Is

4. If Democrats Want to Beat Trump, They Better Not
     Nominate a ‘Free Trade’ Candidate
The items 1 - 4 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. Brexit and the Rise of the British Trumps

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
This week’s EU Parliament elections sent political shockwaves across Europe, with far-right nationalist parties racking up major victories in France, Italy, and even the U.K. Established parties in Britain took a pounding as voters flocked to Nigel Farage’s newly-founded Brexit Party. Only days earlier, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May resigned in the wake of repeated failures to secure a deal on Brexit. So where does all this leave the U.K.’s effort to withdraw from the European Union? And what can the U.S. — which in the midst of its own anti-immigrant populist moment — learn from the turmoil across the Atlantic? Guardian columnist Owen Jones joins Mehdi Hasan to talk about the rise of British Trumpism.
Yes indeed, though I observe that the votes for the far-right could have been worse in Europe, while I wish to explain the large vote for the right and the far-right by the fact that large parts of the voters are stupid or ignorant. (I agree I know no one else who dares saying so. But I am thinking so for over 50 years, and indeed that is also one of the main reasons I never voted for nearly 50 years, for I did vote once, but that only because I had to.)

Then again, the left and the greens also won, though a bit less, while the center partially collapsed.

Finally, I do know something about Owen Jones, though most is from 2015 at the latest, which was when The Guardian became uncopiable, and I mostly ceased reading it, including Jones, whom I have read regularly for a few years until 2015.

Here are Jones and Hasan:

OJ: What we’re talking about with Trumpism is happening in this country. The scapegoating of migrants, rich charlatan snake-oil salesmen blaming anyone but those at the top of the society for the problems they’ve caused. The echoes are pretty powerful.

MH: That’s my guest today, the British newspaper columnist and acclaimed author Owen Jones. He went viral here in the U.S. after he refused to join the rest of the British media in showing sympathy for British Conservative prime minister Theresa May who cried as she finally resigned last Friday.

Well, Jones is right in what he says - but then again I explain that by the growing stupidity and ignorance of the majority of the voters, whereas I doubt very much whether Jones would write so even if he would think so.

In fact, Jones - who poses as "an anarchist" in The Guardian, which may be more or less true - now got "viral" for not showing "
sympathy for British Conservative prime minister Theresa May who cried as she finally resigned last Friday": I mean there you have a real anarchist-sanctioned-by-The-Guardian!

Anyway, here is some more:

MH: And just as the Trump presidency has been the disaster that Trump’s opponents warned it would be, in fact more of a disaster than any of us could have possibly imagined, the same with Brexit in the UK. To cut a long story short: the Leave side, the Brexit side, spent the entire referendum campaign in 2016 telling us that exiting the EU would be easy, a walk in the park, a simple negotiation. But guess what? It wasn’t! Turns out leaving is much harder than they thought. And the UK has now been in a state of permanent political crisis, and a bit of a global joke, for the past three years.

The prime minister Theresa May three times tried to get a Brexit deal through parliament, three times she failed; multiple ministers of hers quit in protest; multiple multinational corporations and big banks have upped and left the UK because they want to keep their access to the EU single market. Britain is now close to a no deal Brexit, a no deal Brexit where it just crashes out of the EU on October 31st with no deal, no negotiations, no safety net in place, and which every serious economist and analyst thinks would be an economic disaster for the UK.

Yes, I agree with the above summary. Here is some more on the European elections (for the European parliament):

Newscaster: Far-right parties topped the polls in both France and in Italy.

Newscaster: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party claims an overwhelming victory.

MH: On Sunday night, we got the results of the European Parliament elections. In France, the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen came first, ahead of President Macron’s party; in Italy, the far-right Lega Party, led by the Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, also came first. And guess who advises them both? A familiar name from Trumpworld: yeah, Steve Bannon.

In the UK, a brand new right wing party called the Brexit Party, which was set up just a few months ago with the explicit intent of making Brexit happen, a “no deal” Brexit even, came first in the European elections, winning as many votes as the mainstream Labour and Liberal Democrat parties combined.

Yes indeed: I agree again with this summary. Here is some more on Theresa May:
OJ: (..) But we’re talking quite literally about somebody losing their job, the most powerful position in the country because they were very, very, very, very, very bad at it.

MH: Very bad at it. She’s probably the worst prime minister in living memory. So good riddance now, I think it’s fair to say to Theresa May. Who will replace May as prime minister? Will it be the British Trump, as he’s been described by some, the former foreign secretary, former London mayor, Old Etonian, Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson?

OJ: Tragically, I do believe that our own pound-shop Trump is about to take over. I mean, I don’t know how to describe him for an American audience. I really don’t.
I more or less agree, and do so on Theresa May. As to Jones's lack of qualifications for Boris Johnson: He could have said that he is a fraud and a liar, like Trump.

Indeed, here he is, with a descriptiom of a few of Johnson's qualities:

OJ: You know, he is a joke without a punch line. He once described black people as pickaninnies with watermelon smiles. He once said that if we’re going to have equal marriage, why not have two men marrying a goat? He talked about Muslim women as letterboxes and bank robbers which led to a surge in hate crimes against Muslim women, including people shoving envelopes through their veils. I mean, he is somebody who is a charlatan. He was sacked by a newspaper, The Times, for lying.

MH: For making up quotes, didn’t he? That sounds familiar.

Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
MH: What about another British Trump? What about Nigel Farage? Were you surprised to see him lead the Brexit Party to victory on Sunday when the European election results came out?

OJ: No, I wasn’t at all. I mean, Farage is just pure unadulterated poison. And in terms of obviously, you know, there are many architects. I mean, it really has been a team effort plunging Britain into its current calamity and it is a time of unprecedented turmoil since World War II, Britain at the moment. And what Farage did you know, he’s somebody who has injected into the political mainstream a very, very vicious nasty anti-migrant politics.
Yes, I agree. This is a recommended article.

2. This ‘Fake News’ Law Threatens Free Speech.

This article is by Jennifer Daskal on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Singapore this month joined the rapidly growing list of countries seeking to shield their citizens from harmful content online by passing anti-fake news legislation. While critics have focused on the legislation’s risks to free speech, there’s another, equally grave, concern about this law, which is likely to become a model for the region and possibly elsewhere. Under the law, the government could mandate that service providers track the viewing habits of their users in ways that dangerously threaten their privacy.

The legislation was promoted as a gentler version of laws like those in Australia, Germany and France that require certain kinds of hate speech to be removed from the internet. The Singapore law instead requires websites to post “correction notices” alongside speech that the government deems false or misleading.

Yes indeed. Incidentally, Ms. Daskal is described as "a law professor", while I myself think that it is most probable that the internet will end up as it is being used now in China and Singapore, which in turn means that I expect that quite soon, though not yet quite now, individuals whose ideas or values differ from conformistic majority will end up being arrested and possibly disappearing.

Here is more on the Singapore laws:

But when it comes to privacy, the legislation is a much bigger threat than any of the fake news or hate speech laws that have come before it. The law could be used to require any company that operates as an “internet intermediary” — including search engines, social media companies, and messaging services — to keep records of what users view. But it doesn’t stop there. While it’s unclear how the new law will be enforced, it even appears to leave room for the government to require encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp or iMessage to identify who said what to whom.

I fear this is all quite true. Here is more - and it shows who get enormous powers from the new Singaporean laws:

Under the legislation, any government minister can mandate a correction notice in response to any statement online that the minister decides is false and that undercuts confidence in the government’s policies or is contrary to Singapore’s policies. These ministers can also order that such statements be taken off the internet outright.

I think myself that this is short for: dictatorship. Here is some more on tracking:

Of course, for many service providers, user tracking is hardly a new thing. That is, after all, how companies like Google know to show you ads about shoes, say, and not diapers. But there is something particularly insidious, and damaging, about private parties being told by the government whom to monitor and why. It is, after all, the government, not Google, that can put you behind bars.

Yes, and again I say that the new Singapore laws are the royal road to dictatorship thanks to the internet.

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

And imagine what the government could do with that information if it did in fact demand it. It is not far-fetched to think that governments could, or would, define individuals as threats or potential threats based on what they wrote and viewed. This kind of information in the hands of the government could have widespread effects on the ability to get jobs, financing or travel documents — a China-like social credit scoring system based on online activities.

Precisely. As I said, this has - as yet - not quite arrived in Europe or the USA, but I expect it will be soon introduced there as well, probably at first in part. And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. Society Is In Decay–When the Worst Is First and the Best Is Last

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Plutocrats like to control the range of permissible public dialogue. Plutocrats also like to shape what society values. If you want to see where a country’s priorities lie, look at how it allocates its money. While teachers and nurses earn comparatively little for performing critical jobs, corporate bosses including those who pollute our planet and bankrupt defenseless families, make millions more.
This disparity is on full display in my profession. Public interest lawyers and public defenders, who fight daily for a more just and lawful society, are paid modest salaries. On the other hand, the most well compensated lawyers are corporate lawyers who regularly aid and abet corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. Many corporate lawyers line their pockets by shielding the powerful violators from accountability under the rule of law.

Yes indeed: I think all of this is quite true. Here is some more:

On my weekly radio show, I interview some of the most dedicated authors who accurately document perils to health and safety. The authors on my program expose pernicious actions and inactions that jeopardize people’s daily lives. These guests offer brilliant, practical solutions for our widespread woes (see Their important books, usually go unnoticed by the mass media, barely sell a few thousand copies, while the best-seller lists are dominated by celebrity biographies.

Yes indeed - and once again, I explain these facts mostly by observing that the majority of voters - everywhere, in fact - are neither intelligent nor informed.

Here is some more:

Hospital executives, who each make millions of dollars a year, preside over an industry where about 5,000 patients die every week from preventable problems in U.S. hospitals, according to physicians at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The watchdogs who call out this deadly hazard live on a fraction of that amount as they try to save lives.

Quite so. Here is more:

A major reason why our society’s best are so often last while our worst are first is the media’s infatuation with publicizing the worst and ignoring the best. Warmongers get press. The worst politicians are most frequently on the Sunday morning TV shows – not the good politicians or civic leaders with proven records bettering our society.

No, I am sorry but I disagree with this "major reason". Instead, I think the major reason is the fact that the majority of the voters are stupid or ignorant, indeed even to the extent that few of the majority of voters as much as look at news or ideas that are not supported or addressed by their mainstream media.

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

All societies need play, entertainment, and frivolity. But a media obsessed with giving 100 times the TV and radio time, using our public airwaves for free, to those activities than to serious matters crucial to the most basic functioning of our society is assuring that the worst is first and the best is last.

Well... yes and no again, for I have been seeing and reading "media obsessed with giving 100 times the TV and radio time, using our public airwaves for free, to those activities than to serious matters crucial to the most basic functioning of our society" for the last 50+ years, and my basic explanation is that this is possible for the most part because most consumers of the media are stupid or ignorant (and a full 50% have IQs of maximally 100), indeed even to the extent that few of the majority of voters as much as look at news or ideas that are not supported or addressed by their mainstream media. But this is a strongly recommended article.

4. If Democrats Want to Beat Trump, They Better Not Nominate a ‘Free Trade’ Candidate

This article is by Thom Hartmann on Common Dreams. This is from near its start:

This election cycle, it’s starting to look like Democrats are about to make the same mistake of not defending the paychecks of working people. Only this time, the Democratic quote will be, “Trump won’t succeed in bringing home your jobs, but neither will I because I support all of the trade agreements that took your jobs in the first place.”

Instead, the Democratic Party must return to its pre-1992 progressive/protectionist/union roots and steal this issue right out of Trump’s mouth, saying that he’s not protecting American workers’ jobs well enough or fast enough. They should run hard in 2020 on the Progressive Caucus’s long-held position that we use protectionist policies, including tariffs, to end our trade deficits and bring back home our jobs.

Well... I agree more or less with the first paragraph, but I have serious doubts about the second paragraph, not so much because I disagree with the desire to "bring back home our jobs" but because I think it is much too late:

It all has happened, and the rich could transport their industries to India or China, where the wages are very much lower, and they could do so because the laws have changed, indeed to a large extent already in the 1980ies and 1990ies. I see no way this could be undone, except for some major revolution.

Anyway, here is some more, that supports the diagnosis I just gave:

In 1981, in a bow to their Wall Street and transnational corporate patrons, Republicans embraced “free trade,” rejecting traditional American protectionist trade policies. Through the 1980s, Reagan and George H.W. Bush negotiated NAFTA and helped kick-start the WTO
while Democrats warned us of what was coming.

Tragically, in 1992, a new but growing part of the Democratic Party (the “Democratic Leadership Council,” or DLC) joined Reagan/Bush when Bill Clinton said he was going to push and sign Reagan’s trade deals.

In that act, the Democratic Party turned their backs on the two centuries of American trade policy that had turned us into the industrial powerhouse of the world, beginning the “great decline” of working people here.

Yes indeed. And here is the result:

The simple fact is that we no longer, in any meaningful way, make computers or TVs or clothes or power tools or toys or pretty much anything in the USA, except military hardware, guns, processed food and fracked gas.

Thus, when we “stimulate” our economy by putting money into the pockets of working people, they go to Walmart and buy things made in Asia—creating jobs in that part of the world and leaving our wealth in China.

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

[W]hen Ronald Reagan came into office (..) the United States was the world’s largest importer of raw materials; the world’s largest exporter of finished, manufactured goods; and the world’s largest creditor.

We bought iron ore from other countries, and manufactured it into TVs and washing machines here that we then exported to the rest of the world. And when countries couldn’t afford to buy our manufactured goods, we loaned them the money.

Because of Reagan/Clinton’s neoliberal “free trade,” we’ve completely flipped that upside down.

We’re now the world’s largest exporter of raw materials, the world’s largest importer of finished goods, and the world’s largest debtor.

We now export raw materials to China, and buy from them manufactured goods. And we borrow from them ($1.2 trillion as of this moment) to do it.

This, by the way, is the virtual definition of a third-world country.

Yes, I agree - and indeed I foresaw this back in the 1990ies when Europe was moulded into the European Union as well. And 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 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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