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Nederlog

June 17, 2019

Crisis: On Saudi Arabia, On Hong Kong, On Bernie Sanders' Proposal, On Bernie Sanders' Chances


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






Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 17, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, June 17, 2019.

I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing Crisis files for six years now, since I started to do so after June 10, 2013, which taught me about Snowden.

I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time.

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 17, 2019:
1. Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager
2. Protesters Return to Hong Kong’s Streets, Rejecting Leader’s
     Apology
3. Bernie Sanders' Radical New Proposal Could Transform America
4. FOX News Poll: Bernie Sanders Would Beat Trump By 9 Points
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. Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager

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

In 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across the Middle East, demonstrations also kicked off in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Members of the kingdom’s repressed Shiite minority took to the streets, calling for equal rights and a fairer distribution of oil revenues. The protesters included a group of around 30 kids on bicycles. As a video
released last week by CNN shows, those children were led by a smiling 10-year-old in flip-flops named Murtaja Qureiris.

“The people demand human rights!” the young boy can be seen shouting through a megaphone.

Here’s the problem: Demanding human rights in Saudi Arabia lands you in prison. Even if you’re a kid.

Three years later, in September 2014, 13-year-old Murtaja was arrested while on his way to neighboring Bahrain with his family.

“At the time,” reports CNN, “he was considered by lawyers and activists to be the youngest known political prisoner in Saudi Arabia.

Over the past four years, say human rights groups, this teenager has been subjected to torture and intimidation, as well as a spell in solitary confinement. He has been denied access to a lawyer while interrogators try to get him to confess to the trumped-up charges against him.

I say, for I did not know this - and incidentally children are very widely considered legally irresponsible, which I consider quite correct.

But not in Saudi Arabia:

Last week, we learned that Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 18-year-old Murtaja, who is being tried in an anti-terror court. CNN
reports that the prosecutors want to “impose the harshest form of the death penalty, which may include crucifixion or dismemberment after execution.”

Got that? The unelected government of a close ally of the United States is planning on brutally executing an 18-year-old member of a minority group, for crimes allegedly committed when he was 10 years old.

Let me repeat: Ten. Years. Old.

Yes, I entirely agree with Hasan: This is out and out terrorism (in my opinion).

Here is some more:

We shouldn’t forget the person who is primarily responsible for this outrage: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS. Since his father installed him in power, the violent crushing of political dissent has escalated. According to the CIA, MBS ordered the horrific murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He is also behind the targeting of three Arab activists in Norway, Canada, and the United States.

Yes, I think that is correct.

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

Supporters of MBS often try and argue that these executions are the product of decisions made in court, not in the royal palace. This is a laughable defense. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. There is no independent judiciary. As CNN reports, “The death penalty can only be enforced by order of King Salman or his authorized representative. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is frequently characterized as the King’s deputy.”

Yes, I believe this is also correct and this is a recommended article.

2. Protesters Return to Hong Kong’s Streets, Rejecting Leader’s Apology

This article is by Keith Bradsher and Daniel Victor on The New York Times. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Protesters poured into the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday with renewed determination and a lengthening list of demands, rejecting the government’s retreat on a contentious extradition bill and extending the political crisis gripping the semiautonomous territory.

Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, shelved the bill on Saturday and followed that up with a rare apology the next day, actions that pro-democracy activists dismissed as too little, too late.

And the sheer size of the demonstration — organizers gave an unverified estimate of close to two million of the territory’s seven million people — made clear the public remained unsatisfied.

I say, for I did not know this. Also, I think this is a quite positive sign, although I do not think that Hong Kong can keep such relative independence as was negotiated in 1997 without outside help.

Here is some more:

In contrast to Wednesday, police officers stood by on Sunday in a crowd-control role, with no altercations or arrests reported.

There were no immediate plans for another march. But labor unions, which tend to be weak in Hong Kong, have called for different sectors of society to take turns holding strikes of an hour or two on Monday, including a general strike by many businesses early Monday afternoon.

Perhaps most broadly, the demonstrators are increasingly demanding the departure of Mrs. Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong. The many calls for her resignation — and increasingly, for those of her ministers for justice and security — seemed to put in question her continued viability as the territory’s leader.

Again I think these are good ideas, and I agree that Mrs. Lam should go (but she is strongly supported by Peking (as I keep writing)).

Here is some more:

It was the third time in a week that masses shut down the territory’s central roads over a proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China, a step that rights activists and others fear would chip away at their remaining freedoms by exposing them to China’s opaque legal system.

The bill has fed rising fear and anger over the erosion of the civil liberties that have long set this former British colony apart from the rest of the country. The local authorities have also rejected demands for free elections and ousted opposition lawmakers, and critics say Beijing’s supporters are diminishing the independence of the territory’s courts and news media.

Well... I more or less agree, but I have two corrections:

First, I think "
China’s opaque legal system" is somewhat mistaken for "China’s authoritarian legal system".

And second, I think that "
the erosion of the civil liberties that have long set this former British colony apart from the rest of the country" is more incorrect than correct, simply because China and Great Britain made an accord in 1997 that Hong Kong would have a special status for fifty years.

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

It remains to be seen whether Mrs. Lam can regain the trust not just of Hong Kong’s residents, but among the business community that had supported her and in Beijing. Even her reliable allies as she pushed the bill have begun to splinter; one pro-Beijing lawmaker, Regina Ip, called for an apology hours before Mrs. Lam offered one Sunday night.

Mr. Lam, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Beijing would be unlikely to accept Mrs. Lam’s resignation if she were to offer it right now, but said the odds were rising quickly that she might not be able to finish the three years remaining in her five-year term.

I hope this is right and this is a recommended article.
3. Bernie Sanders' Radical New Proposal Could Transform America

This article is by Marjorie Cohn on Truthdig and originally on Truthout. It starts as follows:

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in his June 12 speech at George Washington University. Sanders quoted FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

Sanders, like FDR, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to health care, affordable housing, education, a living wage and retirement.

“Economic rights are human rights,” Sanders declared. “That is what I mean by democratic socialism.”

Sanders cited figures of vast wealth disparity in the United States, where “the top 1 percent of people own more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.” He said there is higher income and wealth inequality today than at any time since the 1920s. And, Sanders stated, “despite an explosion in technology and worker productivity, the average wage of the American worker in real dollars is no higher than it was 46 years ago and millions of people are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.”

I agree with everything Sanders (who is my favorite candidate to become the next American president, teamed up with Elizabeth Warren), except for one thing:

I agree that "[e]
conomic rights are human rights" but I disagree that implies or is the same as "democratic socialism". (In case you want a relatively clear idea about what I think socialism is, try " Crisis: On Socialism".)

Here is some more:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets forth two different categories of human rights: (1) civil and political rights, and (2) economic, social and cultural rights.

Civil and political rights comprise the rights to life, a fair trial and self-determination; freedom of speech, expression, assembly and religion; and freedom from torture, cruel treatment and arbitrary detention. Economic, social and cultural rights include the rights to health care, education and social security; the right to form and join unions and to strike; and the right to equal pay for equal work, unemployment insurance, paid maternity leave, and the prevention, treatment and control of diseases.

Well... I have two remarks on this quotation.

First, I like the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948, but it seems to be rarely used today, and indeed its purported follow-ups, such as the European Convention of Human Rights are - in my opinion - sick caricatures of the Universal Declaration, as may be illustrated by the latter's Article 8.

Here it is:

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

This is the opposite of Article 12 of the 1948 Universal Declaration, which said:

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
The difference is that under the European Convention the spies of every nation who have been interfering arbitrarily for almost 20 years or more already in everybody's privacy, family, home and correspondence are given "the rights" to do whatever they please against anybody they accuse, whereas also, while the 1948 Declaration insisted that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence", the neofascist European Convention only gives the utterly worthless "right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence" (while each and every secret service of each and every government are completely free to plunder his private and family life and his correspondence in all kinds of ways).

As I said, I regard the European Convention as a neofascist caricature of the 1948 Universal Declaration.


Second, it also is a fact - as is outlined in the article, but I skipped that part - that the USA has (legally) agreed to the political rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration (which, incidentally, it never satisfied to the best of my knowledge - see e.g. COINTELPRO), but never agreed to its economic and other rights.

Here is some more:

Trump and his fellow oligarchs oppose democratic socialism, Sanders said, but “they don’t really oppose all forms of socialism.” Indeed, “they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaires.”

Sanders cited the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street in 2008 by the Treasury Department “after their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior created the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression — with millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings — Wall Street’s religious adherence to unfettered capitalism suddenly came to an end.”

He also mentioned tax breaks and loopholes for fossil fuel companies, pharmaceutical companies, Amazon, and the Trump family who “got $885 million worth of tax breaks and subsidies for your family’s housing empire that is built on racial discrimination.”

As Dr. King observed, the United States “has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”

No, I am sorry: I disagree, and see again my " Crisis: On Socialism": It is extremely confusing to use the same word "socialism" for the solidarity of super-capitalists and for an alternative set-up of capitalist society, and I completely disagree with those who help propound it, also if they include Bernie Sanders and Dr. King.

Here is some more from the article:

“In 1944, FDR proposed an economic bill of rights but died a year later and was never able to fulfill that vision. Our job, 75 years later,” Sanders said, “is to complete what Roosevelt started.”

He then set forth his vision of a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights, which would recognize that all Americans should have:

  • The right to a decent job that pays a living wage
  • The right to quality health care
  • The right to a complete education
  • The right to affordable housing
  • The right to a clean environment
  • The right to a secure retirement
I completely agree with the quotation.

Here is the ending of this article:

(..) Sanders told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, that real change is generated by mass movements. He cited the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement and the labor movement.

“It is time for the American people to stand up and fight for their right to freedom, human dignity and security,” Sanders affirmed. “This is the core of what my politics is all about.” He clarified, “the only way we achieve these goals is through a political revolution.”

I suppose I agree (but Sanders seems most like a social democrat in my European eyes than a socialist) and this is a strongly recommended article.

4. FOX News Poll: Bernie Sanders Would Beat Trump By 9 Points

This article is by the Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing Senator Bernie Sanders, 49 percent to 40 percent among all registered voters nationwide.

The Fox poll also showed Biden leading Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent. Also beating Trump in the poll were Senators Elizabeth Warren (43%-41%) and Kamala Harris (42%-41%), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (41%-40%) of South Bend, Indiana.

Also, support for impeachment is up five points among Democrats since June 2018 (69 percent vs. 74 percent now) and up 15 among independents (25 percent to 40 percent today).  About 9 in 10 Republicans have consistently opposed impeachment.

I say. Well... as I said above: The best candidates for the next president of the USA are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (and both are very much better than Joe Biden - in my opinion).

Here is the ending of this article:

Sanders acknowledged on Sunday that "polls go up and polls go down" but insisted that the survey showed he was the strongest candidate to defeat Trump.

"I think we can win in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan and some of the other battleground states," Sanders said on "Fox News Sunday."

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article.

Note

[1] 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 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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