Monday, October 23, 2017

Crisis: Chris Hedges, U.S. Wars, NAFTA, Two Groups, Noam Chomsky

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 23, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Monday
, October 23, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) 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 nearly two 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 will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from October 23, 2017
1. Our Ever-Deadlier Police State
2. America’s Forever Wars
3. Time for a Fair Trade System After NAFTA Talks
4. Humanity Is Being Split into Two Groups: The
     Privileged and the Billions

5. Noam Chomsky: Trump Has Pushed the
     Doomsday Clock Dangerously Close to Midnight
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. Our Ever-Deadlier Police State

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

Yes, I think that is mostly true.

And incidentally, about the comparison between the police violence in the USA and in England and Wales:

This means that in 27 years there were slightly over 1 person(s) killed per year in English + Wales by the police, while in the USA there were at least 782 persons killed in the USA by the police, in 2017.

And while the USA has about 6 times as many inhabitants, it means that it has 782/6 = appr 130 times as many persons killed by the local police.

Here is more by Chris Hedges:

Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

Incidentally, many are locked up for years because they had some marijuana. The rest is mostly as said, to the best of my knowledge.

Then there is this on the real motivation of what is called ¨criminal policy¨:

Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

That is, the supposed ¨criminal policies¨ are not there to fight crime: they are there to help repress the repressed, which are the blacks and the poor whites.

I think that is correct as well, and if you don´t think so, there is this comparison between the few rich bankers and the many poor:

The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense. We live in a two-tiered legal system, one in which poor people are harassed, arrested and jailed for absurd infractions, such as selling loose cigarettes —which led to Eric Garner being choked to death by a New York City policeman in 2014—while crimes of appalling magnitude that wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth are dealt with through tepid administrative controls, symbolic fines and civil enforcement.

Quite so, I think. And there is this on the real motivation of the so-called ¨War on Drugs¨:

The fundamental role of the police has never changed. Paul Butler in his book “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” and James Forman Jr. in his book “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” echo Vitale’s point that the war on drugs “has never been about public health or public safety. It’s been about providing a cover for aggressive and invasive policing that targets almost exclusively people of color.”

That is, it was not a war on drugs: it was a war on the blacks. I think that is also correct.

I only quote two more bits. The first is this:

The accelerated assault on the poor and the growing omnipotence of the police signal our transformation into an authoritarian state in which the rich and the powerful are not subject to the rule of law.

Yes, I agree. And for more on this see item 4. And this is either the ending or immediately after the ending:

Click here to see Chris Hedges interview writer Alex Vitale.

I copy this so that my readers know. And this is a recommended article.

2. America’s Forever Wars

This is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. While the number of men and women deployed overseas has shrunk considerably over the past 60 years, the military’s reach has not. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere.

An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as “unknown.” The Pentagon provided no further explanation.

There are traditional deployments in Japan (39,980 troops) and South Korea (23,591) to defend against North Korea and China, if needed, along with 36,034 troops in Germany, 8,286 in Britain and 1,364 in Turkey — all NATO allies. There are 6,524 troops in Bahrain and 3,055 in Qatar, where the United States has naval bases.

Yes indeed.

Incidentally, as to the meaning of ¨imperialist¨: There are some 206 sovereign states of which 193 are a member of the United Nations. This means that there are American troops in roughly 170/200 = 85% of all states (and there are no Russian or Chinese troops in any of these states, by the way), or indeed in 172/193 = 89% of all states.

Next, as I insist that counterterrorism = terrorism with the prefix ¨counter¨ (and I insist both are bad, though indeed one kind of terrorism may be less bad than another kind of terrorism, also depending on your personal values):

Many of these forces are engaged in counterterrorism operations — against the Taliban in Afghanistan, for instance; against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; against an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Yemen. So far, Americans seem to accept that these missions and the deployments they require will continue indefinitely.

Yes indeed, except that I want to qualify ¨Americans¨ by ¨Most¨, for that seems to be quite true - not all, but most. And that is also the root of the problem:

If what was done to supposed terrorists in supposed friendly countries (like Afghanistan) was done to Americans in the USA, the USA might disappear, whereas if it is done by American supposed counterterrorists against (in this case) Afghanis most Americans just don´t care and indeed also most of them don´t know.

Here are some partial explanations for this fact:

If the public is quiet, that is partly because so few families bear so much of this military burden, and partly because America is not involved in anything comparable to the Vietnam War, when huge American casualties produced sustained public protest. It is also because Congress has spent little time considering such issues in a comprehensive way or debating why all these deployments are needed.

In fact, it seems to me that Congress has systematically failed to reign in the governments it is supposed to control, at least since 9/11//2001, which is currently more than 16 years.

And also both the draft and realistic truthful reporting on the wars the American troops are fighting outside the USA have been abolished (since 1972):

During earlier wars, including Vietnam, the draft put most families at risk of having a loved one go to war, but now America has all-volunteer armed forces. Less than 1 percent of the population now serves in the military, compared with more than 12 percent in World War II. Most people simply do not have a family member in harm’s way.

This is also true. There is more in the article, which is recommended - and I also agree with the implication that the USA will continue to fight or guard at least 85% of the states there are, as long as Congress has been tied up in non-voting groups by the rich who profit from the wars.

3. Time for a Fair Trade System After NAFTA Talks Falter

This article is by Kevin Zeese on Truthdig and originally on Popular Resistance. It starts as follows:

The NAFTA-2 negotiations seem to be faltering after the fourth round of talks recently held in the United States. The Trump administration is pushing Mexico and Canada aggressively to include provisions from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in order to renegotiate NAFTA in a way that benefits U.S. corporations. Mexico and the U.S. are under particularly high pressure to complete the talks successfully as each country has major elections in 2018.

News reports of the highly secretive talks describe the negotiations as hitting roadblocks. While this is good news, if it is accurate, this is the time for people in Mexico, Canada and the United States to call for each government to not only withdraw from the talks but also to abandon the corporate model of trade that puts profits before protection of people and the planet. Our view is—if it doesn’t work, don’t fix it, get rid of it and adopt a new and more positive trade model.

In fact, I have tried to follow the NAFTA - one of the many contributions by Bill Clinton to the riches of the rich - and the TTP and the TTIP earlier, but I grant that was both boring reading and difficult because these talks, that trade away most of the human and democratic rights of hundreds of millions of persons, are almost a complete secret.

They still are and the neofascist danger - for this is what it is basically all about: creating the neofascist corporate states the rich desire - is as active as it was before, indeed for a considerable part because these major dangers to almost everyone are wrapped up in secret talks about secret ¨trade plans¨.

This is - it seems - about the present situation in the renegotiated NAFTA:

Further, they report “observers briefed by trade negotiators said the mood during the latest session of talks had turned grim and pessimistic, and that most everyone expected Canada and Mexico to roundly reject U.S. efforts to weaken NAFTA’s regional structure with U.S. protectionist measures consistent with Trump’s ‘America first’ agenda.”

There is also this, that I think is too optimistic:

NAFTA was the start of a long line of disastrous trade deals that put the interests of large corporations ahead of the necessities of people and planet. Now that people see the results of this model of trade such as a race to the bottom in wages and worker’s rights, environmental destruction and an erosion of democracy, there is widespread opposition to “free trade.” This was evident in the large movement of movements that stopped the TPP and stalled the TTIP.

I hope Zeese is right but I fear he is too optimistic, indeed in part because the secret talks about trading away the human rights of hundreds of millions are kept secret, indeed ever since the 1990ies.

And this is a recommended article. 

4. Humanity Is Being Split into Two Groups: The Privileged and the Billions

This article is by Vijay Prashad on AlterNet. This is from near the beginning (and I shortened the long title):

What to make of the deaths in Somalia and in Afghanistan, shocking numbers dead, shocking that they have made so little dent in the consciousness of the West. It is hard for the West to acknowledge the bare humanity of the dead Somalis and the dead Afghans. Their names have not been noted, their lives difficult to understand. It is as if there is wall that separates our human species being, those who live in zones of great war and tragedy are separated from those who live with the illusion of peace, in countries that produce the conditions for war but deny that they have a hand in it.

Yes indeed, and this is the other side (the victims´ side) of the same situation as was discussed in item 2 above. Here is some more:

What to make of the refugee crisis, the flood that will continue to grow and bedevil the West? These refugees are again anonymous bodies, huddled together, desperation as their motif. There is something timeless about Salah Jaheen’s poem on a Palestinian refugee, ‘Caging his suffering within his ribs/Withered and starving/Sitting around doing nothing.’

And the point Vijay Prashad is making is that ¨humanity¨ is more and more split into two groups:

On the one hand, the mostly white and for a good part relatively rich populations of Western Europe, the USA and Canada, and on the the other hand the mostly quite poor populations from elsewhere, many of whom lack the distinction of being white or protestants.

Here is how the distinction works out at present:

On Monday, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) celebrated its founding in 1945 with World Food Day. Last month, the FAO released a sobering report that has received far too little attention. In its report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, the FAO showed that global hunger has risen for the first time in a decade, with its figures showing that 815 million people around the planet suffer from hunger. That’s more than 1 in 10 people. The figure has risen by 38 million from last year. The UN’s World Food Program called this report’s findings an ‘indictment of humanity’.

Buried in the report is an astounding number: that 489 million of those who are chronically food insecure and malnourished live in countries affected by conflict. That means the vast bulk of those who are starving live in conflict zones.

Note that these 815 million people are starving ¨in spite of¨ "the charity super-concert Live Aid the following year and the Live 8 concerts in 2005" that was organized by such geniuses of humanity like Bob Geldof, who claimed that they were busy to Make Poverty History:

¨Geldof was appointed an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, and is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognises individuals who have made "an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace", among numerous other awards and nominations.¨

It does do good to some, as you see. And this is a recommended article.

5. Noam Chomsky: Trump Has Pushed the Doomsday Clock Dangerously Close to Midnight

This article is by Emily Bell on AlterNet. This is from near the beginning:

Commenting on the threat of nuclear annihilation, Chomsky explained the history of the Doomsday Clock, which is a “very revealing, brief analysis of the state of the potential for human survival.” 

Of the clock, he said, “Two years ago it was pushed forward to three minutes to midnight. A week into Trump’s term, it was moved to two and a half minutes to midnight—that’s the closest it’s been since 1953... Now it’s more dangerous than it has been throughout the whole nuclear age, and that’s now combined with the threat of global warming. So what are we doing about it? Well, what we’re doing about it is ignoring it.”

Yes indeed. And as I have said several times: Mostly because I am a psychologist who thinks Trump is insane, which also includes that he is quite unpredictable and extremely hard or impossible to control, I think it is 50/50 if humanity gets to 2021 without Trump starting some nuclear war.

I am sorry, and while I do not know what will happen, I think that is - alas - a reasonable prediction: I do not know at all, and anything is possible as long as this utter madman is the most powerful person on earth.

There is also this:

Shawn asked Chomsky about his belief in giving power to everyday people, even those “who are controlled by Fox News.” Chomsky elaborated on the distinction between elite power and the people in American history, beginning with the influence of slave-owning elites during the American Revolution, and how that’s manifesting in the Trump era:

I quoted just the beginning, but the main point is again the enormous differences there are between the few with money and power, and the many they have taken the money and power from, that is in fact also the main subject of item 1, item 2 and item 4.

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 1 1/2 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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