March 26, 2018

Crisis: The New Serfdom, Facebook, Stormy Daniels, Gina Haspel, "The Media"


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

This is a Nederlog of Monday, March 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 March 26, 2018
1. 'The Gig Economy' Is the New Term for Serfdom 
2. Don’t Delete Facebook. Do Something About It.
3. The Six Biggest Moments From Stormy Daniels’ Interview
4. Trump Should Withdraw Haspel Nomination, Intel Vets Say
5. A Call to the Media: Let's Go Beyond "Preserving Democracy"
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. 'The Gig Economy' Is the New Term for Serfdom

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

A 65-year-old New York City cab driver from Queens, Nicanor Ochisor, hanged himself in his garage March 16, saying in a note he left behind that the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft had made it impossible for him to make a living. It was the fourth suicide by a cab driver in New York in the last four months, including one Feb. 5 in which livery driver Douglas Schifter, 61, killed himself with a shotgun outside City Hall.

“Due to the huge numbers of cars available with desperate drivers trying to feed their families,” wrote Schifter, “they squeeze rates to below operating costs and force professionals like me out of business. They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry. I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead.” He said he had been working 100 to 120 hours a week for the past 14 years.

I say. And working "120 hours a week" = three times as much work as is legally permitted (apart from special circumstances) in Holland, to the best of my information.

Here is more, that generalizes the above specific facts:

Schifter and Ochisor were two of the millions of victims of the new economy. Corporate capitalism is establishing a neofeudal serfdom in numerous occupations, a condition in which there are no labor laws, no minimum wage, no benefits, no job security and no regulations. Desperate and impoverished workers, forced to endure 16-hour days, are viciously pitted against each other. Uber drivers make about $13.25 an hour. In cities like Detroit this falls to $8.77. Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber and one of the founders, has a net worth of $4.8 billion.

Yes, I believe that indeed "establishing a neofeudal serfdom in numerous occupations, a condition in which there are no labor laws, no minimum wage, no benefits, no job security and no regulations" is a major end of the very many deregulations that started under Reagan and that were continued (for payment) by Bill Clinton, who currently seems to own $140 million (together with Hillary).

Then there is this:

The reign of the all-powerful capitalist class has returned with a vengeance. The job conditions of working men and women, thrust backward, will not improve until they regain the militancy and rebuild the popular organizations that seized power from the capitalists.

I mostly agree, though this is in fact a quite pessimistic assessment: Until [the poor] will "regain the militancy and rebuild the popular organizations that seized power from the capitalists", they will not be helped, neither by the rich nor by their own government which is controlled by the rich.

Here is more:

The ruling capitalists will be as vicious as they were in the past. Nothing enrages the rich more than having to part with a fraction of their obscene wealth. Consumed by greed, rendered numb to human suffering by a life of hedonism and extravagance, devoid of empathy, incapable of self-criticism or self-sacrifice, surrounded by sycophants and leeches who cater to their wishes, appetites and demands, able to use their wealth to ignore the law and destroy critics and opponents, they are among the most repugnant of the human species. Don’t be fooled by the elites’ skillful public relations campaigns—we are watching Mark Zuckerberg, whose net worth is $64.1 billion, mount a massive propaganda effort against charges that he and Facebook are focused on exploiting and selling our personal information—or by the fawning news celebrities on corporate media who act as courtiers and apologists for the oligarchs. These people are the enemy.

I mostly agree again. And if you believe Zuckerberg you should know what, in Zuckerberg's own words, you are "dumb fucks, who trust" Zuckerberg. I am neither a dumb fuck nor do I trust Zuckerberg, but I grant he deceived over 2 billion "dumb fucks".

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

The corporate architects of the new economy have no intention of halting the assault. They intend to turn everyone into temp workers trapped in demeaning, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs without job security or benefits, a reality they plaster over by inventing hip terms like “the gig economy”.

I agree. Unfortunately, Hedges did not much to explain "the gig economy" so I included a - somewhat ambivalent - bit by BBC News. And I agree with Hedges that "the gig economy" looks most like an attempt by the very few extremely rich - Zuckerberg, Bezos, Trump - to return to extremely exploitative conditions of the 1870ies in England ("low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs without job security or benefits").

And this is a recommended article. 

2. Don’t Delete Facebook. Do Something About It.

This article is by Siva Vaidhyanathan on The New York Times. This is from near its beginning, and the article seems to be written by an eager and very slippery slave of Zuckerberg:
If you feel the same way about how Facebook affects your daily life, by all means suspend or even delete your account (not that Facebook makes it easy to). But don’t pretend it will make a difference to Facebook or to the state of the world.
But even if tens of thousands of Americans quit Facebook tomorrow, the company would barely feel it. Facebook has more than 2.1 billion users worldwide. Its growth has plateaued in the United States, but the service is gaining millions of new users outside North America every week. Like most global companies, Facebook focuses its attention on markets like India, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil and Mexico. At current rates of growth, it could reach three billion users by 2020.
Hello "dumb fucks" (Zuckerberg's own words for the billions he deceives to become one of the richest men ever)!! Here is Siva Vaidhyanathan to explain you Zuckerberg's own position: You may of course leave Facebook, but if so you are a coward, a degenerate and a helper Twitter and Netflix and Google and Amazon and many more even worse sites!

For watch:
Moreover, quitting Facebook lets Google and Twitter off the hook. It lets AT&T and Comcast and its peers off the hook. The dangers of extremist propaganda and hate speech are just as grave on YouTube, which is owned by Google. Russian agents undermining trust in institutions and democracy are even more visible on Twitter. And every major telecommunications firm, as well as Google and Twitter, relies on surveillance systems similar to the one Facebook uses to run targeted advertising. Facebook is bigger and better at all of this than the others, but its problems are not unique.
Hello "dumb fucks who trusted" Zuckerberg!! Mr. Vaidhyanathan will explain you that you are even dumber fucks if you leave the site of the biggest fraud there ever was, and precisely the same holds for Google, and Twitter, and Comcast, and Youtube and its peers!!

You should stay on these megafraud sites!! Why? Because every body else there is indulging in "
extremist propaganda and hate speech" except for ""dumb fucks" like you!!

You see, Facebook may have frauded absolutely all of its members (except you, of course), but - hey, "dumb fucks" - "
Facebook is bigger and better at all of this than the others," so therefore extremely "dumb fucks" like you should stay there!! Says Mr Vaidhyanathan!!

Here is more, o
"dumb fucks who trusted" Zuckerberg:
Hope lies, instead, with our power as citizens. We must demand that legislators and regulators get tougher.
You see: "dumb fucks" like you are just as powerful as megafrauding billionaires! Believe Mr. Vaidhyanathan!!

And listen, you "dumb fucks":

So go ahead and quit Facebook if it makes you feel calmer or more productive. Please realize, though, that you might be offloading problems onto those who may have less opportunity to protect privacy and dignity and are more vulnerable to threats to democracy. If the people who care the most about privacy, accountability and civil discourse evacuate Facebook in disgust, the entire platform becomes even less informed and diverse. Deactivation is the opposite of activism.
For the last time, all you "dumb fucks"!! If you are a stupid weakling who cannot stand that Zuckerberg knows everything there is to know about you, including your hundreds of "friends", you may leave Facebook. But listen to the honest, sincere and superb Mr. Mr Vaidhyanathan!! If you do so you - a "dumb fuck who trusted" Zuckerberg in Zuckerberg's own words - then you are "offloading problems onto those who may have less opportunity to protect privacy and dignity". See?!

The superbly honest "dumb fuck" of Zuckerberg knows! To leave the biggest and most dishonest fraud there is on the internet, who also, as a matter of course, fucks over your hundreds of friends with Cambridge Analytica, is "
deactivation" which "is the opposite of activism"!!

Ask Mr.
Vaidhyanathan!! One of the dumbest and dearest fucks of Zuckerberg!

3. The Six Biggest Moments From Stormy Daniels’ Interview

This article is by Brandon Patterson on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:

Adult film star Stormy Daniels appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday night in her first televised interview about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump. Daniels claims she slept with Trump once in 2006 while Trump was already married to his current wife, First Lady Melania Trump, a claim the president has denied.

Daniels signed a non-disclosure agreement with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen just ahead of the 2016 election wherein she agreed not to speak publicly about her relationship with Trump in exchange for a six-figure sum. Daniels and her attorney now assert, however, that the agreement was not legally valid because Trump did not also sign it himself.

I knew all of that, but you may not. And I did check at least two other articles dedicated to the above event, and this seemed the best.

Here is more:

Daniels explains why she signed the initial hush agreement:
Daniels told Cooper the offer was appealing because it meant she would receive money and also did not have to worry about the impact that news coverage of her affair with Trump would have on her daughter and family. “The story was coming out again. I was concerned for my family and their safety,” she said.

That sounds sensible. Here is more:

Daniel lays out why she’s decided to talk now:

Cooper opened the interview by questioning why Daniels is talking now. Her answer was straightforward. “People are just saying whatever they wanted to say about me,” she said. “I was perfectly fine saying nothing at all, but I’m not okay with being made out to be a liar, or people thinking that I did this for money and people are like, ‘Oh, you’re an opportunist. You’re taking advantage of this.'”

Well... I think she started the affair with Trump because she was interested in money. And I think, being a realist, that money is still her main interest, although I am willing to agree that the role the opinions of - arbitrary, mostly anonymous - people may also play a role.

Then there is this:

Daniels says she was threatened not to share her story:
“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ “You took it as a direct threat?” Cooper asked. “Absolutely,” Daniels said.

If this happened (I don't know), I think Daniels' explanation is correct.

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

Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the FEC, told Cooper he thinks Cohen’s payment to Daniels could amount to an illegal campaign contribution. “It’s a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he’s allowed to give. And if he does this on behalf of his client, the candidate, that is a coordinated, illegal, in-kind contribution by Cohen for the purpose of influencing the election, of benefiting the candidate by keeping this secret.”

Perhaps. In any case, this is a recommended article.

4. Trump Should Withdraw Haspel Nomination, Intel Vets Say

This article is by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, that includes William Binney, John Kiriakou, Ray McGovern and quite a few more. It is the text of a memorandum to president Trump, and it starts as follows:
With respect, we veteran intelligence officers from CIA and other agencies urge you to withdraw the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director. From what is already known of her leading role in CIA torture 16 years ago, she has disqualified herself.

In 2002 Haspel supervised the first CIA “black site” for interrogation, where cruel and bizarre forms of torture were applied to suspected terrorists. And when the existence of 92 videotapes of those torture sessions was revealed, Haspel signed a cable ordering their destruction, against the advice of legal counsel at CIA and the White House.
Yes, I completely agree with this. Here is more:
We believe that Defense Secretary James Mattis’ lack of enthusiasm for torture reflects lessons drawn from the historical experience of the Marine Corps, as well. Not to mention the twin reality that torture brutalizes the brutalizer, and that US use of torture puts our own troops in serious jeopardy when captured. Moreover, there is no more effective recruitment tool than torture to attract more terrorists.
I agree with this as well. Here is more:

Please also be aware that many signatories to the UN Convention Against Torture take seriously their obligations under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” which applies when those who authorize or practice torture are not brought to justice by authorities in their home countries.

George W. Bush experienced a precarious brush with this reality in 2011, when he had to abruptly cancel a visit to Geneva, Switzerland, after discovering that plans were in place to arrest him as soon as he stepped onto Swiss soil. [See “America’s Stay-at-Home Ex-President”] The widely respected European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights already has made no secret of its intention to proceed quickly against Haspel, should she set foot in Europe.

And again quite so. And here is more:

We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are extremely concerned at the possibility that Gina Haspel might become the next Director of the CIA. Haspel actually supervised a CIA “black site” codenamed “Cat’s Eye” in Thailand where a number of suspected terrorists were tortured. She subsequently collaborated in destroying all 92 videotapes of the torture sessions, effectively covering up what were likely serious war crimes.
The UN Convention defines torture “as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession…” and makes clear that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Precisely, and I fully agree with the UN Convention. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

It is our collective judgment that the loathsome physical abuses that included beatings, repeated waterboardings and anal violations referred to as “rectal feeding” — as well as physical threats to family members — cannot be whitewashed with the convenient euphemism of “enhanced interrogation.” All of those are acts of torture — plain and simple.

I completely agree, and I only add that waterboarding was regarded as torture by the Dutch (who did it on Javanese) in the 17th Century, while "physical threats to family members" are sick, sickening and beastly.

And this is a recommended article.

5. A Call to the Media: Let's Go Beyond "Preserving Democracy"

This article is by Maya Schenwar, who is the editor-in-chief on Truthout. This is from near the beginning:
Last year, when the Trump administration crashed into office, much of its media manipulation strategy looked familiar to me, although it was less slick in some of its methods. Just as "freedom of expression" had meant the freedom to express DHS press releases more than 13 years ago, "freedom of speech," in 2017, meant expanding the influence of churches in politics and eroding rights to contraception (as in Trump's executive order removing the mandate for employers to cover birth control), not to mention bolstering and legitimizing Nazis. However, unlike the Bush administration, which worked to covertly redirect the media to serve its agenda, the Trump administration positioned itself as an adversary, becoming openly outraged at the press.
I think this is more or less correct. Here is more:
As a result, the overall perception of the mainstream media's relationship to the White House shifted. Suddenly, journalists of nearly all stripes were seen as rebels and heroes, standing up against authoritarianism.
This also may be mostly correct, although my own "overall perception of the mainstream media" did not shift, but then I am closely following at least 35 sites every day for nearly 5 years now, and very few non-journalists do so.

Then there is this:
Every large journalism institution -- including those with legacies of condoning chattel slavery, Indigenous genocide, the prison industrial complex and the deportation of millions -- was now a champion of freedom, especially if it was disliked by Donald Trump. Being attacked by Trump became a media badge of honor: proof that one was on the side of keeping democracy alive.
Yes, though with a similar remark as I gave to the previous quotation. But from now on it gets pretty vague and imprecise:
In the weeks and months ahead, I would encourage us to question our tendency to want to uplift the institutions that foster and preserve the status quo, to say things like "these are the institutions that preserve our democracy." The idea that preservation must be our mission, and that guarding existing institutions is the best we can do in terms of maintaining a "free press," is a death knell for freedom, in any real sense of that word.
Well... I do not say "No!", but I myself - at least - never thought or said or wrote any of these things, not in 68 years.

Here is more by Schenwar:
What if we thought of journalism, of media, as something diffuse, flexible and alive? An energy, instead of a building where rich people live? Perhaps "media" should be a verb instead of a noun -- in flux, moving, responsive instead of isolated. At its roots and at its heart, "media" just means a mode of connection, an intermediary, a channel between people.
If you believe that proposal makes any sense - "media" NB: all media, not just the non-mainstream ones - "as something diffuse, flexible and alive"; ""media" should be a verb instead of a noun"; and ""media" just means (..) "a channel between people" - you may explain it to me, but to me this sounds as a combination of nonsense and falsehoods.

The same applies to the last bit that I quote from this article:
Media is propaganda, is art, is lifesaving communication, is misinformation. That's why instead of simply applauding it or condemning it, each of us need to think about what we will make of it -- or how we can and are making it -- ourselves.
And we were just told that ""media" just means a channel between people" while were are now told it also "is propaganda, is art, is lifesaving communication, is misinformation"?! And even without mentioning "the giving of credible or true information"?! And besides: "each of us" covers half of the population with an IQ less than 100, while few of us do work in or for the media.

So no - either I totally misunderstand this article or it is of little or no help whatsoever.


[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 (!!).

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