June 5, 2019

Crisis: On China, On the Democratic Party, Assange Not To Sweden, On The Gig Economy

“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 June 5, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, June 5, 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 June 5, 2019:
1. A Chinese Artist Who Criticized Google and Xi Jinping
2. Ryan Grim on the New Progressives in the Democratic Party
3. Swedish Court Blocks Assange´s Extradition; US Says No Vault 7

4. The Gig is Up
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. A Chinese Artist Who Criticized Google and Xi Jinping

This article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

The messages arrived suddenly and then he went quiet. “My identity is leaked,” he said. “I am worried about my safety.”

The Chinese dissident artist Badiucao had been busy preparing an exhibition in Hong Kong to celebrate Free Expression Week, a series of events organized by rights groups. His show was partly inspired by Google’s plan to build a censored search engine in China, and was set to include work that the artist had created skewering the U.S. tech giant for cooperating with the Communist Party regime’s suppression of internet freedom.

But just days before the exhibition was set to launch last year, at a high-profile event featuring members of Russian punk-activist group Pussy Riot, it was canceled by organizers. Badiucao had received threats from the Chinese government and soon went into hiding.

It was a nightmare scenario for the artist, one of China’s most prolific political satirists, who has never revealed his real name. Somehow, police in China had discovered who he was — and they were trying to track him down.

Incidentally, ¨Badiucao¨ does not live in China but in Australia, while Hong Kong still has a somewhat special status in China (since Hong Kong was until 1999 a colony of Great Britain).

Both points are treated below. Here is the first:

Badiucao — who goes by the name “Buddy” — was born in Shanghai and studied law in China before moving to Australia, where he has lived in exile for the last 10 years. Wearing masks and cross-dressing during public appearances, he has gone to extreme lengths to conceal his identity, fearing reprisals from China’s government over his work, which regularly mocks and criticizes President Xi Jinping and his regime’s authoritarian policies.

I suppose so (but don´t know this). Here is more on Badiucao:

Once he discovered that police in China had uncovered his identity, Badiucao disappeared from the internet. For six months, his highly active Twitter and Instagram pages fell silent. But after taking a break to assess his future and his security, the 33-year-old artist has decided that he is ready to return. His latest project, “China’s Artful Dissident,” is a documentary film aired in Australia on Tuesday, in which he reveals his face to the public for the first time.

I say, for this is quite brave. Here is Badiucao on Google:

Prior to the planned exhibition, Badiucao had created several pieces satirizing Google’s planned censored search engine for China. He drew pictures of the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai wearing a “Make Wall Great Again” baseball cap, referencing China’s internet censorship system, known as the Great Firewall. The artist also organized a protest at Google’s headquarters in California, where he distributed some of the red baseball caps to Google employees before being moved on by security.

Google has claimed that it is no longer developing the search engine, known as Dragonfly, but has refused to rule out launching it in future. Badiucao said he was angered by Google’s plan, describing it as “totally unacceptable” and symbolic of a greater battle between free speech and censorship in China. “Developing a new search engine that would help the Chinese government hunt down dissidents and tighten control over free speech — this is just disgraceful,” he said.

I agree with Badiucao (and I regard the internet as the best reason to expect neofascism soon, while I regard Google, Facebook and the NSA as three of the most important neofascist forces on the present internet, for they all try to steal all bits of information from everyone on the internet, which to me is the likely foundation of extreme terrorism later).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which shows that not only Badiucao is in danger, but also his family:

In refusing to keep quiet, he faces the risk that police will return to harass members of his family who remain on the Chinese mainland. That is a common tactic, he said. “They think maybe you are close to that person, so they can hurt that person in order to get you.”

Yes indeed, and to the best of my knowledge this approach started with Stalin in the 1930ies, for he sent whole families - wifes and children, usually - to concentration camps because of accusations against a family member. This is a strongly recommended article.

2. Ryan Grim on the New Progressives in the Democratic Party

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

As the 2020 election heats up and calls for President Trump’s impeachment continue, we look at the deepening divide within the Democratic Party with Ryan Grim, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Intercept. He is the author of the new book “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement.” In it, he writes, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may seem like she came from nowhere, but the movement that propelled her to office—and to global political stardom—has been building for 30 years.”

I say, because I regard Grim´s ¨the movement that propelled her to office—and to global political stardom—has been building for 30 years¨ as an admission that the Democrats and the Lefts have been very powerless in the last 30 years (which also cover Bill Clinton´s presidency).

And I do not know whether I agree with Grim on this assertion, and if I do, it is mostly because the elected Democrats (in the House and the Senate) have nearly all sold out to the rich.

Here is something on Pelosi (the present - centrist - leader of the Democrats):

RYAN GRIM: (..) You know, in 2005 and 2006, the grassroots of the Democratic Party were furious at President Bush for all of the kind of global criminality, the black sites, the torture, the war in Iraq, and, on an antiwar wave, took back the House and the Senate in 2006. The first thing that Nancy Pelosi did—and you may remember this—she said, “We’re taking impeachment off the table.” And this time around again, she’s been trying to do the exact same thing.

Yes indeed. Here is more on Pelosi:

AMY GOODMAN: Yeah, you have a coalition of progressive groups making a fresh call for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The letter from groups including the Women’s March, Just Foreign Policy, CREDO reads, “As Speaker of the House, you have the power to ensure Congress exercises its constitutional obligation to hold this president accountable, but instead of using your power, you are giving us political excuses for why you shouldn’t.” So, this is Nancy Pelosi speaking in San Francisco last week.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Nothing is off the table, but we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case, that even the Republican Senate, which at the time seems to be not an objective jury, will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country.

Well... Pelosi is right (I think) that the present Senate, which has to agree in majority to an impeachment for this to happen, is most unlikely to do so. (I strongly dislike Pelosi, but facts are facts.)

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

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and how she’s become such a powerhouse in Washington?

RYAN GRIM: Right. I mean, she launched her campaign not long after Trump’s election. She was recruited, so to speak, by a group of organizers who flowed out of the Bernie Sanders campaign. They first created an organization called Brand New Congress, and then they split that into two, and one of them became Justice Democrats. Her brother actually nominated her as a candidate. And they went over all of—they got something like 10,000 applications. They told me something like 90% of them, roughly, were young white men. But they were looking for people who could run in districts that matched both the politics and the demographics of it, and they found that in a number of districts, and particularly in New York 14, which is the Bronx and Queens, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

There is more in the article. And this is a recommended article.

3. Swedish Court Blocks Assange´s Extradition; US Says No Vault 7 Indictment

This article is by Joe Lauria on Consortium News. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:
Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange scored two legal victories on Monday when a Swedish court refused prosecutors’ request to have Assange arrested and extradited from Britain to Sweden, while the U.S. Justice Dept. said it would not prosecute Assange for the publication of the CIA Vault 7 files, according to a report in Politico.

The Uppsala District Court rejected a request for a European Arrest Warrant for Assange based on a reopened 2010 investigation into sexual assault allegations that has been twice dropped before. Without the warrant Assange cannot be extradited to Sweden to be questioned.
“I think it is a big victory for Julian Assange, the first one in a long time, and a well-deserved one,” said Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson. “It is also a victory for Sweden, who upheld the rule of law and it’s a defeat for the prosecutors, who were once again punished for not having conducted the case in a correct way. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Well... all I can say about this that I trust Samuelson but do not know enough of the British and Swedish laws.

Here is some more:
Meanwhile in the United States, the online news site Politico reported that the Justice Department has decided not to charge Assange in the release of Vault 7, which exposed some of the CIA’s most closely held secret spying methods. Politico cited “a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.”

Politico said the decision surprised former U.S. officials and national security “experts” given the anger it aroused in the CIA, whose director at the time of the release, Mike Pompeo, then labelled WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” 
Yes, but in so far as I understand the above, only Politico reported this, as yet. Anyway, this is a recommended article.

4. The Gig is Up

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

Uber just filed its first quarterly report as a publicly traded company. Although it lost $1bn, investors may still do well because the losses appear to be declining.

Uber drivers, on the other hand, aren’t doing well. According to a recent study, about half of New York’s Uber drivers are supporting families with children, yet 40% depend on Medicaid and another 18% on food stamps.

It’s similar elsewhere in the new American economy. Last week, the New York Times reported that fewer than half of Google workers are full-time employees. Most are temps and contractors receiving a fraction of the wages and benefits of full-time Googlers, with no job security.

Across America, the fastest-growing category of new jobs is gig work – contract, part-time, temp, self-employed and freelance. And a growing number of people work for staffing firms that find them gig jobs.

I say, for I did not know most of the above. Incidentally, I did work in gig jobs from 1969 till 1978, but this was in Europe, and over 40 years ago, and also I in fact mostly worked for another employer, namely Manpower and a few others.

Anyway, here is more:

Estimates vary but it’s safe to say almost a quarter of American workers are now gig workers.
The jobs problem today isn’t just stagnant wages. It’s also uncertain incomes. A downturn in demand, change in consumer preferences, or a personal injury or sickness, can cause future paychecks to disappear. Yet nearly 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

I say again, for I saw in Wikipedia´s Gig economy that in 2000 that there were far fewer temporary workers (as I think is the more correct term), for in 2000 the temporary workers numbered around 4% (which is around 1/6th of what it is at present, according to Reich).

Here is the reason employers love employing temporary workers:

Gig work is also erasing 85 years of hard-won labor protections.

At the rate gig work is growing, future generations won’t have a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation for injuries, employer-provided social security, overtime, family and medical leave, disability insurance, or the right to form unions and collectively bargain.

Why is this happening? Because it’s so profitable for corporations to use gig workers instead of full-time employees.

Yes indeed - and in fact, having more and more temporary workers shifts the USA more and more back to the 1890ies at least in terms of rights and incomes for workers.

Here is the ending of Reich´s article:

Gig work is making capitalism harsher. Unless government defines legitimate gig work more narrowly and provides stronger safety nets for gig workers, gig capitalism cannot endure.

In fact, I do not see why ¨gig capitalism cannot endure¨, at least as long as the rich are in power and have the present Republicans as their politicians. It will make the vast majority of the USA´s non-rich very poor, but this has been so before, both in the 19th Century and in the 1930ies. 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail