June 19, 2018

Crisis: Nomi Prins, Trump´s Lies, Six Dictators & Children, Julian Assange, On Trump


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 19, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, June 19, 2018.

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 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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from June 19, 2018:
1. Nomi Prins: The central banking heist has put the world at risk
2. Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential

3. Six Dictators Who Divided Children From Parents
4. A Call to Bring Julian Assange Home
5. We Get It — Trump Is Awful
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. Nomi Prins: The central banking heist has put the world at risk

This article is by Liam Halligan on Unherd. It starts as follows - and I am quoting a bit more than I would have done in other cases, namely because Nomi Prins is one of the few economists I like,
and because this article outlines her basic position quite well:

“The 2008 financial crisis was the consequence of a loosely regulated banking system in which power was concentrated in the hands of too limited a cast of speculators,” Nomi Prins tell me. “And after the crisis, the way the US government and the Federal Reserve dealt with this corrupt and criminal banking system was to give them a subsidy.”

Such strong, withering analysis is, perhaps, unexpected from someone who has held senior roles at Wall Street finance houses such as Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs. But Prins is no ordinary former banker.

The US author and journalist left the financial services industry in 2001. She did so, in her own words, “partly because life was too short”, and “partly out of disgust at how citizens everywhere had become collateral damage, and later hostages, to the banking system”.

Since then, Prins has chronicled the closed and often confusing world of high finance through the 2008 crisis and beyond. Her writing combines deep insider knowledge with on-the-ground reporting with sharp, searing prose. Alongside countless articles for New York Times, Forbes and Fortune, she has produced six books – including Collusion: how central bankers rigged the world, which has just been published.

Her main target in the new work is “quantitative easing” – described by Prins as “a conjuring trick” in which “a central bank manufactures electronic money, then injects it into private banks and financial markets”. Over the last decade, she tells me when we meet in London, “under the guise of QE, central bankers have massively overstepped their traditional mandates, directing the flow of epic sums of fabricated money, without any checks or balances, towards the private banking sector”.

I think all of the above is quite correct, and here is a link on quantitative easing - but I should warn you this is a link to the ever worsening Wikipedia.

Anyway... here is more:

Since QE began, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, “the US Federal Reserve has produced a massive $4.5 trillion of conjured money, out of a worldwide QE total of around $21 trillion”, says Prins. The combination of ultra-low interest rates and vast monetary expansion, she explains, has caused “speculation to rage … much as a global casino would be abuzz if everyone gambled using everyone else’s money”.

Much of this new spending power, though, has remained “inside the system”, with banks shoring up their balance sheets. “So lending to ordinary firms and households has barely grown as a result of QE,” says Prins, “nor have wages or prosperity for most of the world’s population”. Instead, “the banks have gone on an asset-buying spree”, she explains, getting into her stride, “with the vast flow of QE cash from central banks to private banks ensuring endless opportunities for market manipulation and asset bubbles – driven by government support”.

Prins describes “the power grab we’ve seen by the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and other central banks”. Using QE, she argues, “these illusionists have altered the nature of the financial system and orchestrated a de facto heist that has enabled the most dominant banks and central bankers to run the world”.

Yes, I think that is correct (and quite important). Here is more:

Prins says that QE has been “a massive deceit and a huge factor in driving inequality – a dedicated effort by institutions with the ability to create money, deciding that it doesn’t go to ordinary people”. While it was sold “as a massive trickle-down programme, helping the incomes of regular households, the benefits have been focused at the very top”.

Stock markets have benefitted, she acknowledges, “but a mere 10% of Americans own 85% of the market”. Prins also argues that low interest rates have harmed most Americans. “We need to normalise the rate environment, so ordinary people get some kind of return on their pensions and savings,” she says.

Precisely. Here is the ending of this article:

“What we’ve witnessed, since 2008, is the unbridled ability of the so-called people at the top to implement socialism for the banks,” Prins tells me. “If anyone had said we are going to give $21 trillion to the global banking sector, it would never have happened – so we’ve had a backdoor process instead, under the pretense it would help ordinary people.”

Quite so, and this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential Threat

This article is by Robert Mackey on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

The president of the United States told a blatant lie about Germany on Monday, claiming that the nation’s crime rate — which is at its lowest level in 25 years — has gone “way up” since Europe granted asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq.

The lie, posted on Twitter by Donald Trump, was an attempt to justify the exceedingly cruel measures he ordered to deter unauthorized immigration, including the arrest of asylum-seekers at the southern border and the removal of their children for detention in cages.
As Mathieu von Rohr of the German magazine Der Spiegel pointed out, Trump’s false claim about crime in Germany — which is down 5.1 percent overall since last year and 2.4 percent for violent offenses — also misled readers about the continued popularity of Chancellor Angela Merkel, even as she resists calls for a crackdown on asylum-seekers from allied conservatives in the state of Bavaria.

Yes, I think all of that is correct. Here is more:

Undeterred by the facts, Trump followed his false claim with a second tweet, in which he revealed that the lie about Germany was part of a broader effort to cast immigration, at least by nonwhites, as an existential threat to both Europe and the United States.

While it was not clear what, exactly, Trump thinks is happening in Europe — where there has been a sharp decline in migration from the Middle East and Africa since 2015 — he repeated the comment in prepared remarks at the White House later on Monday.
Yes, and this is a recommended article - and see the next article:

3. Six Dictators Who Divided Children From Parents

This article is by Juan Cole on Truthdig and originally on Informed Comment. It starts as follows:

Separating children from their parents, as Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and their Myrmidons are doing, is monstrous and has been characteristic of the biggest dictators of the modern era. Here are a few cases, in case you don’t believe me:

1. Joseph Stalin’s police used to designate some Soviet citizens as “enemies of the people” and then would take their children from those families. Some so designated who had their families confiscated were Jews.

2. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s and 1980s: Every family that lived in the cities was forced by Khmer Rouge soldiers to work in the fields in the countryside. This was the time in which husbands and wives, mothers, fathers and their children, and brothers and sisters were all separated from each other.

3. Under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Catholic hospitals were encouraged to steal babies from leftist families at the hospital, telling the parents they were stillborn, and then to give the infants to right-wing families to raise.

Yes indeed, and one can add that the Chilian dictator did the same as Franco did with children than were born to women he was torturing. And indeed Trump fits quite well between these sadistic dictators.

Here is some more:

4. Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, expelled tens of thousands of Iraqis of Iranian heritage. In some instances, Saddam kept the children but expelled the parents.

5. The Myanmar military junta has separated Muslim children from their families, as part of the ongoing attempt by the Buddhists to expel the Muslims.

6 And, yes, Hitler separated children from their families on a large scale. In some instances, he had children with blonde hair and blue eyes born into “Slavic” families kidnapped and given to a German family to raise as Aryans.

Yes. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. A Call to Bring Julian Assange Home

This article is by John Pilger on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.
The Australian government and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be.

They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.

Assange does not ask for special treatment. The government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect Australian citizens abroad from gross injustice: in Julian’s case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that await him should he walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London unprotected.

We know from the Chelsea Manning case what he can expect if a U.S. extradition warrant is successful — a United Nations Special Rapporteur called it torture.
Yes, I think all of this is correct. Besides, I think Assange runs a greater risk than Manning did of being very seriously tortured, simply because the present head of the CIA - Gina Haspel - is a torturer, a sadist and a liar.

Here is more:
I know Julian Assange well; I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously; and I know why they smear him.

In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the U.S. Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”.

This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution” and a unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalise WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.
I agree again, though I must add that the 2008 plan that Pilger briefly describes also depended on the corruption of many papers, such as The Guardian, which is at present, compared with what it was until 2013 or 2014, utterly sick and very dishonest. (But I must admit it pays its journalists well, which seems the most important care the current Guardian has, at least in public.)

Here is more:
The question is why.

Julian Assange has committed no crime. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish episode was bogus and farcical and he has been vindicated.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape summed it up when they wrote, “The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will.”
Well... I think Assange was charged with a crime by the Swedes, but indeed that charge failed, although that failure took nearly five years.

And in any case, Pilger is quite right that the real complaints about Assange are that he spoke and published the truth, and the truth hurt the NSA, DNC etc. This is a strongly recommended article.

5. We Get It — Trump Is Awful

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Every morning the news is full of Trump’s latest antics, and the Republican Party’s complete surrender to his insanity, and the liberal and progressive outlets are the worst offenders.  They just can’t seem to tell us enough, what an idiot the man is.

Here’s the thing.  Those of us who know that Trump is completely unfit for the job, don’t need an endless stream of examples, we need an alternative. And those who don’t, aren’t reading, watching or listening to the news – they’re tuned into Fox, which is not news -- it’s Trump’s version of Pravda, and it’s busy trying to instill fear and create conspiracies. Or maybe they’re listening to Clear Channel or Sinclair, which are even less about the news and more about propaganda.

So the constant bombardment of Trumpian tweets and other daily bits of foolishness is basically useless.  It amounts to a steady stream of singing to the choir. And giving a narcissist like Trump that kind of coverage is like feeding a malignancy.

Meanwhile, the news that matters – the Democrats’ abandonment of the middle class, and their sell-out to corporations and fat cats -- goes virtually unreported in the mainstream media, and grossly underreported in the progressive press.

I agree with most things Atcheson said in the above quotation, and notably with ¨the Democrats’ abandonment of the middle class, and their sell-out to corporations and fat cats¨, but not quite with the thesis that ¨the constant bombardment of Trumpian tweets and other daily bits of foolishness is basically useless¨.

My reasons are that the man is a madman, a neofascist, and a gross liar, and his lies need to be documented and identified as lies. (And you can´t just turn away from his evident madness or his evident lies, simply because he is the most powerful man on earth, who can blow up everyone when he feels like it: His lies must be contradicted as lies.)

But anyway... here is more:

The mainstream media regularly treats us to opinion pieces by pundits who say the Democratic party is going too far to the left, and that this supposed drift will hurt them in the midterm elections. This, at a time when polls show that support for progressive issues like health care (especially single payer), social security, sane gun laws, stronger regulation of Wall Street and big banks, a living minimum wage, a commitment to get the money out of politics, and stronger environmental and climate policies, combined with a commitment to reverse the Republican’s tax cuts for the rich, would give Democrats an overwhelming advantage in the midterms and in 2020.

But the neoliberal establishment that runs the party holds fast to the very policies that are making it shrink into oblivion.  For example, the DCCC and DNC tried to get progressives out of primary races; they urged candidates to avoid specifics about gun control; and they endorsed center right candidates.  At the same time, Pelosi and Schumer’s big idea for the Party’s midterm run is a PayGo bill – a bow to austerity that is strictly center right.

I think the above is all correct. Here is more:

Meanwhile, credible studies like the one conducted by Gilens and Page show that democracy is dead in the US and the country is effectively an oligarchy. This startling but well documented conclusion generated a round of consternation among the usual suspects in the MSM, but it quickly dropped off the media’s radar, replaced by the political horserace and Trump’s reality show Presidency.

Yes, I agree that ¨democracy is dead in the US¨, at least in the sense that the desires and values of ordinary voters simply do not count, neither for the government nor for both prominent political parties, and I also agree that the USA ¨is effectively an oligarchy¨ indeed because the rich have bought nearly all of the representatives of ¨the people¨.

Here is the ending of this article:

The daily din should pale in comparison to the fact that the US has become an oligarchy, that neither party is representing the people’s interests, and that an equitable, just, free and prosperous society would be well within our grasp if the people were offered candidates who represented them, not the oligarchy.

I mostly agree and this is a strongly 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 (!!).
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