June 22, 2018

Crisis: On Facebook, Separated Children, Trump & Nazis, The U.S. Courts, Starving U.S. Kids


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 22, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, June 22, 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 22, 2018:
1. What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook
2. Trump Admin to Indefinitely Detain Migrant Families Together; No Plan
     to Reunite Separated Children

3. Here's Why It's Entirely Appropriate to Compare Donald Trump to the

4. The Trump Takeover of the Courts
5. G.O.P. Wants Hungry Kids to Fund Tax Cuts
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. What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook

This article is by Sahil Chinoy on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Facebook has filed thousands of patent applications since it went public in 2012. One of them describes using forward-facing cameras to analyze your expressions and detect whether you’re bored or surprised by what you see on your feed. Another contemplates using your phone’s microphone to determine which TV show you’re watching. Others imagine systems to guess whether you’re getting married soon, predict your socioeconomic status and track how much you’re sleeping.
Yes indeed, and I should like to say that Facebook is an out-and-out fascistic, degenerate immoral set of thieves of the privacies of at least two billion persons whose privacies should never be stolen and never be abused as they are: To send persons on Facebook advertisements for products that may be a bit cheaper than some other products.

And the above quotation is correct, and shows that Facebook treats its 2 billion members in worse and more invasive ways than anyone in prison who is set to be legally killed: For Facebook there are NO privacies whatsoever.

Then again, this article is rather strange, for it starts quite well and under an enormous picture of a moving made-up eye, while the initial text is clearly and orderly presented, but this soons turns otherwise.

Here is what the fascist spies of Facebook are tracking in their 2 billion members:
A review of hundreds of Facebook’s patent applications reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users’ lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether you’re in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians you’re talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die.
In brief, there is about nothing that is not being tracked:

If you are on Facebook, you should know - but probably don't - that (i) you have no privacy whatsoever, and also (ii) because you have no privacy whatsoever, so have - probably - all your friends and acquaintances, that Facebook of course also all downloaded, knows and abuses.

Now get to where the text that is presented in the New York Times looks as if it has been seriously destroyed. It starts with this introduction, which is fair enough:
Here are seven Facebook patent applications that show how the company has contemplated gathering and exploiting your personal information.
But then it gives headings and bits of text that I found quite difficult to sort out. (It may be my Firefox, but it is the latest Firefox on the latest GNU/Linux, and that makes me doubt it is, as also everying else on it gets displayed well.)

Anyway.... here is a list of headings without texts. (If you want the texts, you can go to the original article and try to sort it yourself. It can be done, but it is not easy on my system.)

Reading your relationships
Classifying your personality
Determining user personality characteristics from social networking
     system  communications and characteristics

Predicting your future
Predicting life changes of members of a social networking system
Listening to your environment
Tracking your routine
Inferring your habits
In brief, the (neo)fascist Facebook wants to know everything about you, so that it can help sell as much as it can to you and besides to control, manipulate, propagandize and deceive you as best as it can:
But with more than two billion monthly active users, most of whom share their thoughts and feelings on the platform, Facebook is amassing our personal details on an unprecedented scale. That isn’t likely to change, said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. “I’ve seen no indication that Facebook has changed its commitment to watch everything we do, record everything we do and exploit everything we do,” he said.
Yes indeed. And I say only very sick fascists do these things, and that is what Facebook is: A neofascist enterprise that is trying "to watch everything we do, record everything we do and exploit everything we do". This is a recommended article, but as I said, the original starts to get quite difficult to read about halfway into it.
2. Trump Admin to Indefinitely Detain Migrant Families Together; No Plan to Reunite Separated Children

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Trump has signed an executive order claiming to end the separation of children from their parents at the border, but critics warn the order could lead to the indefinite detention of entire families. The government has no plans to reunite the thousands of children already separated from their families with their parents. We go to Washington, D.C. to speak with Franco Ordoņez, White House correspondent for the McClatchy Washington Bureau. His latest story is headlined, “Trump’s immigration order replaces one crisis with another.”
Yes indeed. In my summary I will not quote Franco Ordoņez but you can get everything he says by going to the original. Here is more, first by Nermeen Shaikh:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: President Trump has signed an executive order claiming to end the separation of children from their parents at the border, but critics warn the order could lead to the indefinite detention of entire families. As for the thousands of children already separated from their families, the government has no plans to reunite them with their parents.
This means - I think - that the American government kidnapped these children. Or perhaps worse, for it also seems as if (i) few parents of these kidnapped children (none of whom speaks English) know where their children are; (ii) many of the parents (who don't speak English) have been refused and sent back to where they came from; and (iii) it seems as if both the American army and the American police - for the most part - did not record their activities.

So all in all, you may have been fleeing e.g. Honduras because your life was threatened and you fled to the USA with your five-year old; when arriving in the USA your five-year old was taken from you by the police and has been shipped somewhere, no one knows where; and meanwhile you have been transported back to Honduras (where you may have been imprisoned and may be tortured).

American humanity at work! Here is Amy Goodman:
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump also told reporters Wednesday, “We don’t want people coming in from the Middle East through our border using children to get through the line.” The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on Trump’s travel ban by the end of this month. Meanwhile, children taken from their parents continue to be shipped to shelters and detention centers around the country. In New York, people went to the airport to greet children with signs that welcomed them in Spanish. This comes as the Associated Press reports immigrant children as young as 14 who were housed at a juvenile detention center in Virginia say they were beaten while in handcuffs, locked in solitary confinement for long periods and left nude and shivering in concrete cells.
That was more American humanity at work. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

AMY GOODMAN: (..) The government says they have something like more than 2,300 kids. The Intercept is saying if you go back a few months, you add another, what, like 1,400 kids to this? That they have something like 3,700 from last October. But how do they match up these children with these parents? Some of these parents have already been deported.

And as we noted in headlines, you have the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, saying, “How is it possible we have 239 children here in New York City who are being held, as young as nine months old, and we didn’t know about it?” He is the mayor of New York. How do they reunite the children and the parents that have already been separated, many of whom the government has said didn’t have proper documentation to link the two?

Precisely - and as I said above, it seems as if most children have been taken from their parents without any notification, and have been moved to places their parents do not know. And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. Here's Why It's Entirely Appropriate to Compare Donald Trump to the Nazis

This article is by Lucian K. Truscott IV on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

The only discernible difference between what Donald Trump is doing to undocumented immigrants on our southern border and what the Nazis did all over Europe to Jews is that the Nazis had to go from house to house to round up their victims, while all Trump’s Border Patrol has to do is wait for their victims to walk or swim across the border.

That’s it. Practically everything else is the same. The actions Trump’s Border Enforcement agents are taking when they separate immigrant children at processing centers from their parents have nothing to do with law enforcement. Neither did the Nazis when they separated Jewish children from their parents inside the gates of Buchenwald and Auschwitz and Dachau. Trump’s agents on the border are carrying out a policy promulgated by his administration. Nazi SS stormtroopers were carrying out the policy of rounding up political opponents, “undesirables,” and Jews, and incarcerating them in concentration camps. These camps were entirely extra-legal. You didn’t have to be convicted of a crime to be incarcerated in a concentration camp. Nor have the immigrants and their children being held in hastily constructed cages been convicted of crimes.

The “crime”  in Hitler’s Germany and occupied countries was being Jewish. The “crime” committed by the children being rounded up and caged along our southern border is being brown and undocumented.

No, I am sorry: I am European and I know about Nazism i.a. because both of my parents were in the anti-Nazi resistance, as was my grandfather, and both my father and grandfather were arrested in August of 1941, and convicted by collaborating Dutch judges (none of whom was ever punished in any way) as "political terrorists" to concentration camp imprisonment, where my grandfather was murdered.

If you want to know about Nazism, there are many books, but one good survey is "The Holocaust Encyclopedia" by Walter Laqueur, i.a. because it contains quite a lot of illustrations. There are many others, and what you may learn from them is that Trump is very bad, but not - as yet, at least - quite as bad as "what the Nazis did all over Europe to Jews".

For one thing, one difference between Trump and Hitler is that Trump merely kidnapped the children of immigrants and locked them up; the Nazis gassed all Jews they thought could not work, which included all children and most mothers.

I strongly dislike Trump and his policies, but I do not think Truscott IV knows the evidence of what the Nazis did.

Here is one example:

Once they were rounded up, Jews were transported by trucks and trains to concentration camps built all over Germany and the countries Germany conquered and occupied, such as Poland. Down on our southern border, immigrants and their children are rounded up as they cross the border and transported by van and bus to Customs and Border Protection processing centers, such as the one at McAllen, Texas.

Once inside the gates of hell holes like Dachau and Buchenwald, Jewish parents were separated from their children and housed in different facilities. Frequently, husbands and wives were separated from each other, as were brothers and sisters.

Well... often mothers and children were not separated, but were simply gassed together.

Also, while Truscott IV goes on and on about parents being separated, and brothers and sisters being separated, and children being separated, the word "gas" does not occur in the entire article at all, while it is a fact that the Nazis gassed every Jew who could not work, which meant that they generally gassed mothers, children and old people, and only left the men alive (who generally were worked to death within three months).

But millions upon millions of Jews were gassed by the Nazis, and - so far, at least - Trump has not been gassing persons.

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

At a White House meeting back on May 16, Donald Trump called immigrants crossing the southern border “animals.” “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”

Adolph Hitler spoke of Jews the same way. In “Mein Kampf,” Hitler called Jews “vermin,” and “a parasite in the body of other peoples.”

To Hitler, Jews were less than human. To Trump, illegal immigrants are “animals.”

Well, it has come to this. The election of Donald Trump has finally led us to incarcerating people in concentration camps and treating them like animals.

Once again: I strongly dislike Trump, and I think - as a psychologist, which does make a difference - that he is both a madman and a neofascist, but he has not built concentration camps (certainly not according to the ever worsening Wikipedia, which insists that the only concentration camps there ever were, were Nazi concentration camps and Soviet concentration camps) and he also is not gassing people.

So I know this is exaggerated.

4. The Trump Takeover of the Courts

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Trump’s most lasting legacy might be his impact on the federal court system. It must be stopped.

Quite apart from the Supreme Court, Trump is already having a dramatic effect on the lower federal courts.

Even though much of his legislative agenda has stalled in Congress, Trump is nominating and getting Senate confirmation of judges to the federal bench much faster than previous presidents.

Many of Trump’s picks for these lifetime positions are extremists with little judicial experience. For example, Thomas Farr, his nominee for a North Carolina judgeship has ties to a group that has promoted white supremacist policies and eugenics. 

Other Trump picks have openly spread conspiracy theories, defended lethal injection, and one even called a sitting Supreme Court justice a “prostitute.”

Yes indeed, though I think I should add that the nomination of judges in the USA could be much improved as well, although this is an aside.

Here is the ending of this brief article:

This takeover of the federal bench is another assault on our democracy. The power of the courts is being placed in the hands of people who share Trump’s ideology.

That’s why we need to keep up the pressure, and it’s another reason why we need to win back the Senate.

Yes indeed, and this is a recommended article.

5. G.O.P. Wants Hungry Kids to Fund Tax Cuts

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

After tearing apart immigrant families until shamed by international outrage, President Trump and his party have now turned to endangering vulnerable American children.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if House Republicans get their way, more than two million people, many of them young children, will lose access to the food stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The farm bill that passed by a two-vote margin on Thursday includes tougher work requirements and new eligibility restrictions that would make it much more difficult for families who need food assistance to get it.

Yes, I think that is quite correct. Here is how many Americans are now dependent on SNAP: Around 15% of all living Americans are so poor that they "simply don’t earn enough to feed themselves consistently":

Some 42 million poor and working-class Americans use SNAP benefits to buy groceries. A vast majority of them are elderly, disabled or children. Of the people who are both of working age and able-bodied, most do have jobs. They simply don’t earn enough to feed themselves consistently.

These working-age adults already face several requirements and restrictions on how much SNAP aid they can receive. For example, they must register with SNAP and accept any job offered to them, or any training program that they are assigned to. Unless they are older than 49 or raising children, they must also verify, on a monthly basis, that they are working or in job training at least part time (after a three-month grace period).

It follows that getting SNAP is far from pleasurable (and indeed if the Dutch assistance of the poor would have been as bad as the American, I would have suicided long ago, not because I wanted to but because I had no choice, having also "a serious chronic disease" that was for nearly 40 years denied in myself and in my ex).

Here is the summary of The Editorial Board:

The Republicans’ recent tax cut made the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans wealthier, did little or nothing for average workers and added $1.5 trillion to the national debt. The party that passed that law is now using the resulting debt to rationalize taking grocery money, health care and other essentials from the disabled, retirees, and families with children.

I quite agree - first you enrich the very rich, and then you steal what you gave to the few rich from the many poor: yes indeed - 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 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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