April 3, 2018

Crisis: Chinese Communism, Bernie Sanders, Facebook Etc., On The Climate, Dr. King Jr.


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 3, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, April 3, 2018. There may not be an NL tomorrow, or it may be later than normal, for tomorrow I will not have electricity for 6 hours (with many others).

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 April 3, 2018
1. China’s Communist Party Is Abandoning Workers
2. Bernie Sanders Details a Nefarious Plot Within the Trump Administration
3. As Facebook Scrutiny Grows, New Campaign Demands Tech Giants
     Pledge to Build 'Surveillance-Resistant Web'

4. Thanks to Climate Disruption, Earth Is Already Losing Critical Biosphere

5. Starvation Wages Are a “Crime”: Lessons from MLK & 1968 Memphis
     Sanitation Strike, 50 Years Later
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. China’s Communist Party Is Abandoning Workers

This article is by Harvey Tomlinson on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
China is a sea of labor unrest. During the first 10 weeks of this year there were more than 400 publicly reported strikes, more than double the number during the comparable period last year. President Xi Jinping’s government has responded with a firm hand: Labor activists are being arrested and assaulted simply for demanding their wages.

As China’s rate of economic growth has slowed over the past few years, China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based organization, tracked a surge in reported strikes — most likely a small measure of all the actual strikes — from fewer than 200 in 2011 to 1,256 in 2017. Government data indicates a 38 percent increase in the number of labor dispute cases heard by Chinese courts, from 589,244 in 2011 to 813,589 in 2015.

First, Harvey Tomlinson is reporting from Hong Kong. And I did not know any of the above, though it does not amaze me. Also, you should realize that 813,589 labor conflicts in 2015 means that there was one labor conflict in China in 2015 for approximately every 1500 workers. And that is a lot of conflicts, in a nominally communist country.

Here is more on what these workers do strike for:

The fact is that in most strikes Chinese workers are demanding only to be paid wages and benefits that are owed to them, and for their legal right to collective bargaining. Still, why are strikes on the rise?

The slowing economy has squeezed manufacturers and service-oriented companies. Many owners have responded by simply not paying workers. Many companies close shop overnight, surprising workers with the closure and the news that they won’t be paid wages that are owed to them. Meanwhile, it appears that workers are becoming more aware of their legal rights to demand pay and benefits.

That is, the workers strike to get being paid for work they did, but were not paid for.

And here is the final bit of this article:

By ensuring that workers can use their legal right to collective bargaining, the government could help families to share more of the rewards of growth and give a boost to the rebalancing of the economy. This was the story of America’s postwar boom years, when strong unions helped to expand the middle class.

The Communist Party should fully embrace its historical claim to representing workers. By enforcing legal protections the party may find that higher household incomes are a solution to slower growth as well as to the country’s more serious ills of unfairness and inequality.

Well... I agree with the second paragraph, but I add that it seems very unlikely to me. Then again, while I am interested in China, I do not know Chinese. And this is a recommended article, if only because one out of seven living men is Chinese.

2. Bernie Sanders Details a Nefarious Plot Within the Trump Administration

This article is by Andrea Germanos on AlterNet and originally on Common Dreams. This is from near the beginning:
Echoing comments he made to the Washington Post last week, Sanders said, "Let us be have the Koch brothers—the third wealthiest family in this country who are going to spend some $400,000,000 on with their billionaire friends on the coming elections—having enormous power over the Trump administration."

"And what the Koch brothers believe," he said, "is not just that we have to privatize the Veterans Administration. They want to privatize Medicare ... they want to privatize Medicaid... they're beginning to go after Social Security."

"We have a Secretary of Education who does not believe in public education, a Secretary of the ...EPA who does not believe in environmental protection. So what you're looking at under the leadership of the Koch brothers is a massive effort to privatize agencies of the United States government and give them over to private corporations. That is what the removal of Shulkin is all about," Sanders said.

I think Sanders is right about this, and here is some support for him:

Sanders' perspective on the president's booting of Shulkin is shared by Iraq war veteran and director of government relations for VoteVets Will Fischer, who told MSNBC Thursday that Trump and the Concerned Veterans for America's desire "to destroy and privatize the VA" was the motivating factor.

Indeed. There is more in the article, that is recommended.

3. As Facebook Scrutiny Grows, New Campaign Demands Tech Giants Pledge to Build 'Surveillance-Resistant Web'

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
As Facebook's data breach at the hands of Cambridge Analytica spurs widespread privacy concerns and demands for accountability over how massive internet companies mine the data of their users for profit, a coalition of civil libertarians and human rights groups on Monday launched a new campaign demanding that all tech companies take concrete steps to protect users' information from exploitation and help build "a surveillance-resistant web."
I say, for I did not know this, and I agree with the new campaign. Also, I do like to point out that Facebook + Cambridge Analytica got data about 50 million American users of Facebook, which is extremely much more data than "the Russians" could gather (for $115,000 dollars it seems, also on Facebook), but that hardly anything of this seems to get through the propagandists on the mainstream media (that still insist with Hillary Clinton that "the Russians did it", in spite of there not having been produced any decent evidence for this purported fact in almost 1 1/2 years).

Here is more on the new campaign and on Facebook (that should be renamed to "Fuckbook", since its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, described his members - rather correctly also, it seems to me - as "dumb fucks who trusted me"):

"This is a watershed moment for the internet," Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, declared in a statement on Monday. 

"Millions of people now understand how their data can be weaponized and used against them, and they are demanding change," Greer said. "Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of the iceberg, and this problem doesn't begin and end with Facebook. If the largest tech companies take the steps outlined in the security pledge, it will change the course of human history for the better."

Well... I basically agree with Evan Greer, although "millions of people", who "now understand how their" private data can be used to completely fuck them over by both the rich corporations and the secret services (any one, from anywhere), does not appear to be enough in view of the fact that Facebook has more than two billion members (who for the most part are solidly ignorant of computing and its dangers).

Then again, these are the facts. Here is more on the demands of the new campaign:

Spearheaded by ACLU, Free Press, Demand Progress, Color of Change, and several other prominent organizations, the "Security Pledge" calls on tech giants to:

  • Move toward "meaningful transparency" by ensuring that users "have access to and control over their data";
  • Protect users' personal information by providing "end-to-end encryption" that would prevent corporate and government surveillance;
  • Cease collecting and storing data that "isn't necessary for your product or business";
  • Provide equal protections to all communities and stop collecting "information that is vulnerable to misuse," like immigration status and political views; and
  • Support "laws that require a warrant before the government can demand information about your users" and "reforms that curtail mass surveillance."

Well... I am quite willing to agree with all the demands, although I add immediately that only end-to-end encryption of all and any personal information will help. Besides, both the secret services and the big corporations have been collecting private data for at least 17 years now, and they will not stop (legally or illegally) until all personal data are encrypted, and they cannot decrypt it.

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

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, argued in a statement on Monday that tech companies' long-term response to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal will ultimately determine whether the internet is used "for transformational change for the better" or for "the extraction of sensitive private information and manipulation towards the benefit of large corporations or for social control by governments."

"The major online platforms are facing a reckoning: How they respond in this moment will help determine whether the utopian vision that inspired so many internet pioneers and users stands a chance of becoming a reality, or whether companies will ignore the public interest and turn the internet against its users towards the end of private benefit," Segal concluded.

I think Segal is too optimistic. Neither the tech companies nor the NSA nor any other spying organization will stop spying until spying is made impossible for them, and this can be done only by encrypting.

And I feel quite certain (after 17 years of continuous and continued spying on absolutely everyone connected to the internet) that the internet will be used against its users, simply because spying is extremely profitable, and because all the rich corporations and all the spies from any government anywhere have had continuous access to almost anyone on the internet since 17 years, and both the big money and the big power are strongly for aggrandizing their profits and their powers.

4. Thanks to Climate Disruption, Earth Is Already Losing Critical Biosphere Components

This article is by Dahr Jamail on Truth-out. It starts as follows:

Two weeks ago, I gave a keynote presentation about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) at a large sustainability conference in Chico, California. During the question-and-answer session following my talk, a student asked me what I thought the world would look like by 2050. His question stopped me in my tracks. I had to pause and take a deep breath, to prepare myself emotionally for what I had to tell him.

Here is the gist of what I said: Based on years of research for my forthcoming book, The End of Ice, along with my work compiling these monthly climate disruption dispatches for four years now, I know that by 2050, we will be inhabiting a dramatically different planet. I believe we will already have tens -- if not hundreds -- of millions of climate refugees from sea-level rise and conflicts born of lack of food and water. What we currently call extreme weather events (massive floods, droughts, hurricanes) will have long since become the norm. In the US, growing food in the Midwest and the central valley of California will be extremely difficult, if not largely impossible, due to shifting weather patterns of rainfall and drought. Some swaths of the world, including the Gulf states in the Middle East and parts of the US Southwest, will be largely uninhabitable due to simply being too hot. Greenland and the Antarctic will both be experiencing dramatically advanced melting, and most of the glaciers in the contiguous 48 US states will have long since ceased to exist. And given that we are officially already amidst the Sixth Mass Extinction Event of the planet, which humans triggered, the biological annihilation that comes with this is happening apace.

I say - and I note that 2050 is about 30 years away. And I am rather strongly inclined to believe Dahr Jamail, and that for two reasons:

The first reason is that I have been following "the environment" since 1972, when I first read "The Limits to Growth", while my second reason is that it turned out by 2014 that the predictions this had made in 1972 (which were then often ridiculed) were still correct - which also implies that all of the - heavily advertised - governments' actions to improve "the climate" had been without any noticeable effect for 45 years.

Here is some more:

Meanwhile, a recently published World Wildlife Fund report has predicted catastrophic losses in the world's forests: As much as 60 percent of the plants and half of all the animals are predicted to disappear by 2100. if temperatures rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C). The scientific consensus states that a 1.5°C rise is a given; in fact, some prominent scientists believe an increase of 3.2°C by 2100 is most likely, given current national commitments. If emissions remain unchanged, which is the current actual trajectory, a 4.5°C rise is the forecast. It is worth noting that oil giants BP and Shell are planning on 5°C of planetary warming by 2050.

I say, again. There is more in the article, which is strongly recommended. I close on a personal note: In 2050 I will become 100, which makes it extremely unlikely that I will live as long. Then again, I hope not to get drowned some time in the coming 30 years, because I live in Amsterdam, which is over 2 meters below sea level. (And if either Dahr Jamail or BP and Shell are correct in their assessments, Amsterdam may need visiting by diving in 2050.)

5. Starvation Wages Are a “Crime”: Lessons from MLK & 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, 50 Years Later

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
This week, commemorations are being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader and peace activist was gunned down April 4, 1968, on the balcony of his hotel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 39 years old. King was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers, who he saw as being on the front lines of fighting poverty and integral to his new initiative, the Poor People’s Campaign. “It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages,” King told people in Memphis shortly before his death. In the late 1960s, King recognized that the next phase in the quest for civil rights and equality would focus on the economic divide.
In fact, I do recall the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, for I was then 18 and a member of various quite leftist groups. And I had expected some more about King's murder,
but maybe it was too early.

Also, while I normally like the interviews on Democracy Now! I did not find it interesting this time. There probably will be more on
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tomorrow or the day after.


[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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