February 26, 2018

Crisis: Guns & Liberty, Xi Jinping, Feinstein, Selective Justice, Computerized Worker Controls


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 26, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 26, 2018.

1. Summary

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

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 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from February 26, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Guns and Liberty 
2. China Paves Way for Xi Jinping to Remain Leader for Years
3. California Democrats Shock Dianne Feinstein; Favor Challenger 54% to

4. A Case of Selective Justice
5. The Technology Being Used to Control Workers by Tech Companies Is
     Freakishly Dystopian

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. Guns and Liberty

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

The proliferation of guns in American society is not only profitable for gun manufacturers, it fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency. Guns buttress the myth of a rugged individualism that atomizes Americans, disdains organization and obliterates community, compounding powerlessness. Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.
I mostly agree with this, although my own position is a bit different from that of Chris Hedges and indeed all other Americans: I am not an American, and I live in Holland, that is about the opposite of the USA as regards guns and gun ownership: While the Dutch criminals - of which there are many, since Amsterdam's mayor Ed van Thijn decided to support the drugs criminals by giving them complete freedom to deal (if they had his "personal permission"), and by not answering anyone (like myself) who was threatened with murder and who was - literally - gassed by his drugscriminals. (I have not been answered for 30 years now!)

I know, for Mr. van Thijn took the liberty of giving his personal friends his personal permission to deal in - totally illegal, then and now - soft drugs from the bottom floor in the house where I lived, instead of in the house where he lived, or one of his aldermen lived, or one of the members of Amsterdam's council lived.

No, it had to be my house, in 1988, and it had to be my health that was destroyed, and has been destroyed ever since.

Since then over 300 billions of Euros have been turned over in Holland merely in soft drugs alone (and I said: billions), for most mayors took the way Van Thijn took in 1988. This means effectively there are no drugs laws in Holland: Anyone who can get a "personal permission" from his mayor to deal in illegal drugs can deal in illegal drugs.

And I am sorry, but since I seem to be the only Dutchmen who cares, I shut up over this (until Van Thijn has died, and I can at long last speak the truth about this extremely bad man), for if I continue to speak the truth my life may be - once again - endangered by drugscriminals protected by mayors and by the police, and I know I will be dead before these authorities lift a single finger to protect me. [2]

Back to Chris Hedges and the USA:
“Second Amendment cultists truly believe that guns are political power,” writes Mark Ames, the author of “Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.” “[They believe that] guns in fact are the only source of political power. That’s why, despite loving guns, and despite being so right-wing, they betray such a paranoid fear and hatred of armed agents of the government (minus Border Guards, they all tend to love our Border Guards). If you think guns, rather than concentrated wealth, equals political power, then you’d resent government power far more than you’d resent billionaires’ power or corporations’ hyper-concentrated wealth/power, because government will always have more and bigger guns. In fact you’d see pro-gun, anti-government billionaires like the Kochs as your natural political allies in your gun-centric notion of political struggle against the concentrated gun power of government.”
Quite possibly so - and I agree with Hedges on this kind of nuts, but (not being an American) I know much less about them than Hedges.

Here is some more:

The metaphors we use to describe ourselves to ourselves are rooted in this national myth. We explain our history and our experience and seek our identity in this myth. This myth connects us to the forces that shape and give meaning to our lives. It bridges, as Slotkin writes, “the gap between the world of the mind and the world of affairs, between dream and reality, between impulse or desire and action. It draws on the content of individual and collective memory, structures it, and develops it from imperatives for belief and action.”
Again I say: quite possibly so, for the same reasons as under the previous quoted paragraph. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

There are some 310 million firearms in the United States, including 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns. The number of military-style assault weapons in private hands—including the AR-15 semi-automatic rifles used in the massacres at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.—is estimated at 1.5 million. The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, an average of 90 firearms per 100 people.

“Total gun deaths in the United States average around 37,000 a year, with two-thirds of those deaths being suicides, leaving approximately 12,000 homicides, a thousand of those at the hands of the police,” writes Dunbar-Ortiz. “Mass shootings—ones that leave four or more people wounded or dead—now occur in the United States, on average, at the pace of one or more per day. Disturbing as that fact is, mass shootings currently account for only 2 percent of gun killings annually. The number of gun deaths—37,000—is roughly equal to death-by-vehicle incidents in the United States per year.”

I say - and I think all of this is factually correct. And this is a recommended article. 

2. China Paves Way for Xi Jinping to Remain Leader for Years

This article is by Gillian Wong on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
China’s ruling Communist Party has proposed scrapping term limits for the country’s president, the official news agency said, appearing to lay the groundwork for party leader Xi Jinping to rule as president beyond 2023.

The party’s Central Committee proposed to remove from the constitution the expression that China’s president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms,” the Xinhua News Agency said Sunday.

“Xi Jinping has finally achieved his ultimate goal when he first embarked on Chinese politics — that is to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century,” said Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, referring to the founder of communist China.

I say - which I do even though I am not very amazed. I explain:

First, while I do not know whether Willy Lam is quite right, I agree this is a bad move, for the simple reason that it gives Xi Jinping far too much personal power (which he has acquired already), for what now seems to be an unlimited time.

And second, I am not amazed because Xi is (also) the head of the Chinese Communist Party, which has almost all the power there is in China, and that now has decided to give him unlimited time as their Number One autocrat or dictator.

Here is some more:

Xi, 64, cemented his status as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao in the 1970s at last year’s twice-a-decade Communist Party congress, where his name and a political theory attributed to him were added to the party constitution as he was given a second five-year term as general secretary.

It was the latest move by the party signaling Xi’s willingness to break with tradition and centralize power under him. Xi has taken control of an unusually wide range of political, economic and other functions, a break with the past two decades of collective leadership.
Yes indeed. And "the past two decades of collective leadership" - to be sure: always by the top members of the Chinese Communist Party - were instituted to prevent the rising of a second Mao Zedong.

Now the Chinese Communist Party is going to give its present leader all the powers Mao Zedong had, while also giving him unlimited time to rule (which may be twenty years or more).

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

“What is happening is potentially very dangerous because the reason why Mao Zedong made one mistake after another was because China at the time was a one-man show,” Lam said. “For Xi Jinping, whatever he says is the law. There are no longer any checks and balances.”

Xi is coming to the end of his first five-year term as president and is set to be appointed to his second term at an annual meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament that starts March 5. The proposal to end term limits will likely be approved at that meeting.
Yes, I think Lam is right in what he said here. And this is a recommended article.

3. California Democrats Shock Dianne Feinstein; Favor Challenger 54% to 37%

This article is by The Common Dreams Staff. It starts as follows:

Conservative Democrat Feinstein won just 37 percent of the 2,775 delegates’ votes, versus 54 percent for her challenger, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. Support from 60 percent of the delegates was needed to secure the party’s official endorsement.

“The outcome of today’s endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign’s momentum as we all stand shoulder to shoulder against a complacent status quo,” de León said Sunday. “California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines.”

“The days of Democrats biding our time, biting our tongue, and triangulating at the margins are over,” he said.

I say - and I admit this is a bit better than I expected. Besides, while I do not know more about De León than is on Wikipedia, he certainly seems a lot better (more progressive, more liberal) than Feinstein.

And here is Glenn Greenwald (quoted):

Dianne Feinstein, 84, has spent her 4 full terms in the US Senate with great loyalty & servitude to the CIA & NSA & various wars. She now wants her 5th full term. But the California Dem Party just refused to endorse her; they prefer her opponent by 54-37%

Yes indeed, for most I know about Feinstein is how she betrayed genuine democrats (which also made her considerably richer than she was already).

Here are some of the things that made her impopular:

Feinstein's oppostion to single-payer health care, her anti-marijuana stance, and her repeated votes for President Donald Trump’s nominations angered many California Democrats.

And rightly so: These were Republican rather than Democrat positions, although I also agree to the thesis that most Members of Congress these days have been bought: the interests they express are usually not those of their voters but of their financial backers.

Anyway... I hope De
León beats Feinstein. And this is a recommended article.

4. A Case of Selective Justice

This article is by Eric Ortiz on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The FBI is busy.

Over the last year, the feds have been conducting two big investigations. One involves NCAA basketball violations and dozens of high-profile characters (players, schools, agents and businesses) exchanging money, which breaks college sports’ amateurism rules. The other involves allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Both stories are treated as A-1 scandals of biblical proportions. They make mere mortals wonder where these superhero crime fighters find the time. Perhaps not investigating potential mass shooters frees up some hours?

In the NCAA case, the news that college basketball players are getting under-the-table benefits is not a groundbreaking revelation. Everybody knows everybody is getting paid in college basketball.

In the Russia meddling case, the idea of foreign electoral intervention is not the scoop of the century. The United States itself has been interfering with elections
in other countries for at least 70 years, and to date, the charge of Russian hacking is short on evidence and long on propaganda.

Yes I agree. Or more precisely, I agree with Ortiz on "Russia-gate" and do not know about the NCAA, simply because basketball does not interest me, and I did not read up on this issue.

Here is some more on "Russia-gate":

Look, Donald Trump is no Abraham Lincoln, but the Russians didn’t elect him. Liberals did, along with some Republican gerrymandering. At a time when millions of Americans are suffering because of the status quo, the Democratic Party chose to run an uninspiring establishment candidate (who won the popular vote but still remains unpopular), and the U.S. political duopoly prevented any alternative voices from being part of the two-party horse race.

I mostly agree, though my own reasons may be somewhat different from Ortiz's: As far as I know all that could be proved about Russia's meddling with the American elections is that they spent some $15 million on it (and parts of that were quite ludicrous) whereas each of the dominant American parties spent around a billion dollars on getting elected.

Here is some more:

The real goal of “Russiagate” has nothing to do with protecting “democracy.” As Black Agenda Report Editor Glen Ford explains, Big Capital is preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, with the broad purpose of repressing dissent.

Support the official Russia narrative, get rich and famous. Oppose the groupthink and you’re a pro-Putin, pinko commie.
Yes indeed. I reviewed Glen Ford's article here and mostly agreed with it.

And incidentally, I think this shows something else (in my opinion, at least), namely that there is no moral arch in history, as Martin Luther King Jr. said a long time ago (that is, he said there is). There may be some sort of arch in technology, but - indeed after more than 50 years of watching history unfold - I don't think there is a moral force (outside the opinions of individual men) that rules history, that would somehow force it to get better (in any sense).

As to the second quoted paragraph: This is an expression of what George Orwell, and very many of the most interesting men I read that wrote on politics since the late 1930ies, called totalitarianism - but that term has been recently totally redefined by some anonymous sado-fascist who is permitted to write his or her lies on Wikipedia. He or she compiled an utter bullshit definition that implies only countries like China and the Soviet Union can be "totalitarian": No person, no party, no ideology, no religion, no plan, no policies, no language can ever be totalitarian (according to this madman) - only countries can be. And Orwell just was an utter idiot, who lied and was mistaken about nearly everything, by logical implication, as I am, and as most writers on totalitarianism I read in the last 50 years were.

I am sorry, but I was - after all - right about Wikipedia: An anonymous encyclopedia (that pretends to be free, and is getting lots of private money to remain free) is bound to collapse under the beliefs, the pretenses and the dishonesties of its anonymous members or under the nonsensical pressures ("an encyclopaedic view", "worldwide interests") of those who supply it with money.

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

Trust us, say the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies, it was the Russians.

When did the FBI, or any U.S. intelligence agency, become Veritas, the virtue of truthfulness and model of integrity?

We already have questions of political bias inside the FBI during the 2016 election, and Robert Mueller, the special Russiagate prosecutor, and James Comey, the fired FBI director, have long histories as pliable political operatives.

Indeed, and there are many more reasons not to trust the FBI, CIA or NSA. Besides, apart from the - very many positive - reasons not to trust them, why would one trust anything anyone says without reasonable factual evidence?!

And this is a recommended article.

5. The Technology Being Used to Control Workers by Tech Companies Is Freakishly Dystopian

This article is by Thor Benson on AlterNet and originally on In These Times. It starts as follows:

You’ve been fired. According to your employer’s data, your facial expressions showed you were insubordinate and not trustworthy. You also move your hands at a rate that is considered substandard. Other companies you may want to work for could receive this data, making it difficult for you to find other work in this field.

That may sound like a scenario straight out of a George Orwell novel, but it’s the future many American workers could soon be facing.

In early February, media outlets reported that Amazon had received a patent for ultrasonic wristbands that could track the movement of warehouse workers’ hands during their shifts. If workers’ hands began moving in the wrong direction, the wristband would buzz, issuing an electronic corrective. If employed, this technology could easily be used to further surveil employees who already work under intense supervision.

Yes. And while most of this is - it seems - at present imagination, all of the above is happening, and also is getting applied - which, incidentally, is another of my arguments that the belief in a moral arch commanding human history is simply false.

And it is false because the rich are quite capable of making anyone working for them considerably less free than slaves were in the 19th Century, while also their employers need not pay for their living when they are not working, and knows everything about them - every hundredth of a second - that can be known.

Here is some more:

Whole Foods, which is now owned by Amazon, recently instituted a complex and punitive inventory system where employees are graded based on everything from how quickly and effectively they stock shelves to how they report theft. The system is so harsh it reportedly causes employees enough stress to bring them to tears on a regular basis.

UPS drivers, who often operate individually on the road, are now becoming increasingly surveilled. Sensors in every UPS truck track when drivers’ seatbelts are put on, when doors open and close and when the engines start in order to monitor employee productivity at all times.

And these are just the merest beginnings.

Here is more on these developments - and for me, employers who "monitor the emails and phone calls their employees make" are neofascists indulging in the latest neofascist technologies to control people:

These developments are part of a larger trend of workers being watched and judged—often at jobs that offer low pay and demand long hours. Beyond simply tracking worker performance, it is becoming more common for companies to monitor the emails and phone calls their employees make, analyzing personal traits along with output.

Some companies are now using monitoring techniques—referred to as “people analytics”—to learn as much as they can about you, from your communication patterns to what types of websites you visit to how often you use the bathroom. This type of privacy invasion can cause employees immense stress, as they work with the constant knowledge that their boss is aware of their every behavior—and able to use that against them as they see fit.

For me, all such bosses are sadists and neofascists who indulge in utterly anti-democratic means and technologies to extend their own riches by destroying each and every human right their employees have.

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

While this level of worker surveillance may be alarming, it has so far gone largely unchecked. Congress has never passed a law to regulate employee surveillance, Maltby says, and he doesn’t think it will any time soon. However, he says that either Congress or the Supreme Court could finally decide that employers have gone too far when they start tracking employee movement during a worker’s time off.

I think "this level of worker surveillance" is not just "alarming": it is utterly inhuman and ought to be completely forbidden. But it will not be, and Congress will not do anything about it, because the internet and the personal computer have been invented - by DARPA - in order to control people.

You may not believe that, but for some more see this:
Propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968 - which shows either Mr. Brezezinski was a most extra-ordinary genius who could foresee technology 25 years in the future (which no one ever could) or else he was a leader of the American military spies who designed and planned the personal computer so that it could be abused by spies to track everyone and anyone in anything they did with a computer connected to the internet.

And I do not think Mr. Brezezinski was an extra-ordinary genius. 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 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 (!!).

[2] Another reason for me to shut up (which I dislike) is that Noam Chomsky wrote something I did not realize before 2000: Wherever illegal drugs are involved, the secret services are involved as well. And I do not feel like playing with my life to test out whether that is true in Holland as well.

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