July 1, 2019

Crisis: On Bernie Sanders, On Kamala Harris, Trump & Kim, No Child Migrant Jails, On ME-Agenda

“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 July 1, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 1, 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. (This still continues: I have ME/CFS since 40+ years.)

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 five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 1, 2019:
1. Why Calling Bernie Sanders a 'Radical' Is Nonsense
2. Kamala Harris Is Everything the Establishment Wants
3. Trump Steps Into North Korea With Kim
4. Abolishing Child Migrant Jails Is the Least We Can Do
5. About ME/CFS on dx revision watch
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. Why Calling Bernie Sanders a 'Radical' Is Nonsense

This article is by Jeffrey Sachs and Vanessa Fajans-Turner on Common Dreams and originally on CNN. This starts as follows:

As the Democratic candidates for president continue to roll out policy positions, many pundits are classifying them as centrists (such as former Vice President Joe Biden) and radicals (such as Senator Bernie Sanders and a few others). But let's not confuse semantics and substance. Voters want and need a different standard: Which candidates have the most pragmatic solutions to America's woes?

Yes indeed: I agree, though perhaps "pragmatic" is not the right term (and perhaps "sensible" might have been better).

Also, I skip a good part to arrive at Bernie Sanders:

Sen. Bernie Sanders has been labeled a radical for advocating for a publicly-financed health care system. Yet other high-income countries finance their health care overwhelmingly through the public sector, with much lower costs and higher life expectancy than in the US, which relies on private health financing for around half of total health spending.
Yes indeed, I basically agree and do so for the following reason:

In the first place, and in quite a few senses, Sanders is "a radical", for no less than 40 years also, and especially when compared with almost all other well-known American politicians with some prominence in the last 40 years. Indeed, that is one important reason why I like him.

But in the second place, Sachs and Fajans-Turner are quite right that most of his proposals and policies, indeed also over the last 40 years, are not radical when they are compared with almost all other Western European countries, since these countries - which are all quite capitalistic - all have most of the proposals and policies Sanders made in law, and often since 40 years or more.

It follows that while Sanders undoubtedly is a radical in some sense, and compared with nearly all American prominent political figures, he is not a radical when he is compared with many European politicians or with their (legal) proposals and policies.

Here is some more:
The same goes for Sanders' call for publicly-financed higher education. Almost every other high-income country has tuition costs that are a tiny fraction of those in the US. Meanwhile, the US has saddled a generation of young people with $1.5 trillion of student debt.
Precisely. And here is more:
Sanders and others are labeled radicals for supporting the Green New Deal, a proposal that calls for the US to move from fossil fuels to clean energy, with the goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions while creating high-paying jobs. Yet every other high-income country is sticking with the Paris Climate Agreement -- which will require decarbonizing the energy system in order the meet the goals of the agreement. Only the US under Donald Trump has announced the intent to withdraw from that agreement.
Yes indeed, though I think myself that the Paris Climate Agreement is far too weak.

Here is more:
Sanders and others are labeled radicals for advocating labor rights for workers, including paid family leave, sick leave and vacation time for all. Yet these protections are commonplace in the other high-income countries.
The ruling class -- dominated by billionaires like Donald Trump and the vested interests that prop him up -- have played the same name-calling game for decades. Legislate tax cuts for the wealthy, turn a blind eye to polluters, shut down tax audits on the rich, abandon antitrust laws, put corporate lobbyists in charge of the regulatory agencies and then attack anyone who calls foul a "radical."
Yes, precisely so. Here is more:
The poverty of our political lexicon adds to the confusion. What Sanders and other so-called radicals are advocating is routinely called "social democracy" abroad -- a phrase used infrequently in the US. It provides a pragmatic course that delivers lower inequality, better health care and improved work conditions, together with high living standards and a dynamic and innovative private sector. Those who live in social democracies rank high on surveys of happiness, with the citizens of Finland, Norway and Denmark in the lead, while the US ranks in the bottom half of the 26 countries.
Yes, quite so - as I have been argueing meanwhile in quite a few Nederlogs. And to repeat my argument once again:

Sanders is a radical when compared to almost all prominent American politicians of the last 40 years, but nearly all of his policies and proposals are not radical when compared with many European politicians and countries, and indeed Sachs and Fajans-Turner are correct in saying Sanders is mostly - in European terms, which are more correct than American terms - a social democrat (and not a democratic socialist).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
For too long, our national politics and policies, fueled by corporate campaign contributions, have put corporate greed ahead of the common good. It's time to stop labeling pragmatic solutions as radical and out of reach, and to adopt effective strategies that have been proven to work in many other high-income countries.
Precisely so, and this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Kamala Harris Is Everything the Establishment Wants

This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Truthdig and originally on Medium.

California Senator Kamala Harris won the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night. It was not a close contest. She will win every debate she enters during this election cycle. If she becomes the nominee, she will win every debate with President Trump.

Well... I think these are mostly the opinions of Johnstone, and I think so because I have seen quite a number of articles were others - Warren is an example - were said to have "won the Democratic presidential debate".

Then again, I do not know much about Harris (and tend to avoid political videos), so this article is or may be interesting.

Here is some more:

The goal of a political debate is to make yourself look appealing and electable to your audience. You can do that by having a very good platform, or you can do it with charisma and oratory skills. It turns out that Kamala Harris is really, really good at doing the latter. She made frequent and effective appeals to emotion, she built to applause lines far more skillfully than anyone else on the stage, she kept her voice unwavering and without stammer, she made herself look like a leader by admonishing the other candidates to stop talking over each other, and she hit all the right progressive notes you’re supposed to hit in such a debate.

Well, I haven't seen the political debate Johnstone is reviewing, but this is somewhat good evidence, in good part because Johnstone is praising Harris for reasons of her skill and intelligence, while she disagrees quite a lot with her on politics.

Here is some more on Harris:

This wasn’t a fluke. Harris has been cultivating her debate skills for decades, first in the Howard University debate team where she is said to have “thrived”, then as a prosecutor, then as a politician, and she’ll be able to replicate the same caliber of performance in all subsequent debates. There’s more to getting elected than debate skills, but it matters, and in this area no one will be able to touch her.

I take this as stated, with some qualifications because I never saw or heard Harris discuss anything.

Here is some more:

Harris is everything the US empire’s unelected power establishment wants in a politician: charismatic, commanding, and completely unprincipled. In that sense she’s like Obama, only better.

It so happens that I dislike Obama because of his policies, but I agree he is intelligent.

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

Kamala Harris [.. would] be able to obliterate noncompliant nations and dead-end the left for eight years, and look good while doing it. She’s got the skills to become president, and she’ll have the establishment backing as well. Keep an eye on this one.

I will, though I am not quite convinced. And this is a recommended article.

3. Trump Steps Into North Korea With Kim

This article is by Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire on Truthdig and originally at The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

With wide grins and a historic handshake, President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone on Sunday and agreed to revive talks on the pariah nation’s nuclear program. Trump, pressing his bid for a legacy-defining deal, became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea.

What was intended to be an impromptu exchange of pleasantries turned into a 50-minute meeting, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations. It marked a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders after talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February.
Yes, I think all of the above is correct. Here is some more:

The border encounter was a made-for television moment. The men strode toward one another from opposite sides of the Joint Security Area and shook hands over the raised patch of concrete at the Military Demarcation Line as cameras clicked and photographers jostled to capture the scene.

After asking if Kim wanted him to cross, Trump took 10 steps into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South for talks at Freedom House, where they agreed to revive the stalled negotiations.

I quoted this mostly to show what Trump did when he stepped into North Korea. Here is some more:

As he left South Korea on his flight to Washington, Trump tweeted that he had “a wonderful meeting” with Kim. “Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!”

Trump had predicted the two would greet one another for about “two minutes,” but they ended up spending more than an hour together. The president was joined in the Freedom House conversation with Kim by his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers.

Well, I dislike it that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were there as well, because the only "political talent" they have that I can see is that they are Trump's daughter and son in law, who were elected by no one (but Trump), but OK.

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

The latest meeting, with the U.S. president coming to Kim, represented a striking acknowledgment by Trump of the authoritarian Kim’s legitimacy over a nation with an abysmal human rights record. Kim is suspected of having ordered the killing of his half brother through a plot using a nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in 2017. Meantime, the United Nations said in May that about 10 million people in North Korea are suffering from “severe food shortages” after the North had one of the worst harvests in a decade.

Trump told reporters he invited the North Korean leader to the United States, and potentially even to the White House.

I think this is correct as well and this is a recommended article.

4. Abolishing Child Migrant Jails Is the Least We Can Do

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

What do you see when you look into the eyes of a child? Until last Monday, over 350 migrant children were jailed in filthy, unsafe conditions by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Clint, Texas. The few outsiders who were able to see these migrant children were universally appalled. Facing national outrage, CBP moved the children out, only to return 100 of the young prisoners the very next day. One who seems content jailing children is acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Mark Morgan, who President Donald Trump has just made their chief jailer by naming him acting head of Customs and Border Protection. “I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under, and I’ve looked at them,” Morgan told Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson last January. “I’ve looked at their eyes and I said, ‘That is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member.'” 

It seems to me Morgan is a crude fool. Besides, I am a total opponent of locking up political refugees, and especially of locking up their children, which seems intentional cruelty to me.

Here is some more:
Very few people have access to these children, so getting accurate information about their welfare is hard. Warren Binford, a law professor at Willamette University, was part of a legal team that exposed the conditions in Clint. She described what she saw on the “Democracy Now!” news hour:
They managed to interview 60 of the children. She went on: “They were sick. They were coughing. They had runny noses. They were filthy dirty. They immediately started to describe the level of hunger that they were experiencing.” Their horror deepened with each interview. “We found out that virtually no one is taking care of these children directly, that they are locked up in these cells 24 hours a day. There are open toilets in many of these cells. There’s no soap, no way to wash their hands. They’re being fed in these cells … many of them are being forced to sleep on concrete because of a shortage of beds and mats and sleeping space.” Guards handed toddlers to older children and told them to take care of them.
Well... to me this sounds like a fucking and sick shame, though indeed this is not quite a concentration camp as the Nazis had them. Then again, these things simply should not happen to children.

Here is the ending of this article:

At least six children have died while detained by Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. Before last year, it had been more than a decade since a child died in the custody of U.S. immigration officials.

Last week marked the first two Democratic presidential debates. Less than an hour away from their Miami venue, in Homestead, Florida, more than 2,000 unaccompanied minors are incarcerated in a for-profit detention center run by Caliburn. Trump’s former chief of staff Gen. John Kelly sits on its board. Debating the fate of jailed migrant children is important, but the life-and-death crisis that they have been thrown into demands immediate action. Abolish all migrant child jails now.

I completely agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

5. About ME/CFS on dx revision watch

This article is by ME Agenda on dx revision watch, which is her site.

Strictly speaking, this is - perhaps - not a crisis writing, but then again I am willing to argue that being ill for over 40 years, as I am and as is my ex, while having been discriminated, been called "psychosomatizers", and being denied all help for over 40 years by 90% of the medics we saw (30) definitely is a crisis, and a very long one, for those who were struck by this.

Anyway. I have known ME Agenda since 2010 (via Phoenix Forums, of which I have been a member for 4 months that year), and the brief summary of my knowledge is that she is one of the most intelligent and most sensible people writing about ME/CFS.

And now she stops doing so, which is a pity. Also, I can understand her quite well, because she is 67, and she is much more intelligent than almost anyone with ME/CFS (who tend to communicate by aliases and messages of 1 sentence, which is one important reason I gave this up in May 2010: I am not stupid enough for that, I am not sorry to say).

Then again, she tried very hard for some 17 years (!!) to make the discussions about ME/CFS rational and informed, and I owe a lot of pertinent information about ME/CFS to her.

Her latest article starts as follows:

In 2002, I set up FreeMEuk — a Yahoo Group support and information exchange for patients with ME, CFS, and carers, like myself. In 2007, I launched ME agenda to provide patients, carers and advocates with information, resources and commentary on the political issues affecting the lives of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) patients in the UK.

In January 2010, I created this site specifically to monitor and report on the development of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5, the development of the World Health Organization’s ICD-11 and on other classification and terminology systems. Where appropriate, I have galvanized stakeholders to participate in review and comment exercises or co-ordinated other forms of response.

Down the years, I’ve undertaken numerous short and long-term ad hoc projects, advised others on technical matters relating to classification and terminology systems, submitted and collaborated in the submission of proposals, briefed politicians and patient organizations and kept patient forums up to date with key developments.

Today I am retiring after 17 years of advocacy work.

My sites will remain online for the foreseeable future. Over the coming months I shall be carrying out some housekeeping on this site to remove or archive older, less relevant content.

In fact, there is a lot more in this article, but that information is mostly about medical terminology, and I will not copy it. The above quotation is all quite correct. And I think
it is an - understandable - pity ME agenda stops, if only because I think myself that the
chances that she will be followed up by someone as intelligent and informed as she is are quite small
. 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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