June 24, 2018

Crisis: The Climate, EU & Migration, American Inequalities, Trump's Sadism*2


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 24, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 24, 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 24, 2018:
1. A Prophet of Doom Was Right About the Climate
2. EU Sets Crisis Summit on Migration
3. The American March to Inequality: Why the UN Alston Report Alarms
     the Trump Plutocrats

4. Trump’s Mean Boy Nation
5. 'As an American, I Feel Deeply Ashamed'
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. A Prophet of Doom Was Right About the Climate

This article is by Justin Gillis on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The night before the day that would make him famous, James E. Hansen listened to a baseball game on the radio. But his mind kept wandering: What would he say to Congress the next day to convey that humans were endangering the planet?

He had long been trying to raise the alarm without success, and so had other scientists. But then, on June 23, 1988 — 30 years ago Saturday — a Colorado senator named Tim Wirth convened yet another hearing on the topic. Dr. Hansen was one of several scientists on the witness list.
He had conducted rigorous studies of historical temperatures, concluding that the planet was warming sharply. He had helped to pioneer computer modeling of the climate, and the results predicted further warming if people kept pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

In case you want to know some more about James E. Hansen, this was a link.

In fact, I know considerably less about him than I do about the two persons who awakened me to the dangers of environmental changes (as it was then often called), and these were  first Paul Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb", that was published in 1968, but that I read in 1970, and that I did not quite know whether to believe (in part because this also was a real first for me, on the subject of the environment and ecology), and then especially Dennis Meadows, who published together with some others The Limits to Growth in 1972, that I read in 1973.

I should add that two reasons why I found The Limits to Growth convincing (which was not a very common reaction in 1973) were that I liked its mathematics (although I did see it was much more simplistic than the reality) and that I soon came to read some extremely negative reviews by some Dutch academics, that were clearly both false and misleading.

Then again, in 2018 it does not seem to matter much who convinced one that there was a lot more to ecology (environmentalism, global warming, the human population explosion ...) than mere biology, and James Hansen clearly has an important role as well (and one reason I did not read him in 1988 was that I was both removed illegally from the right to take my M.A. in philosophy from the "University" in Amsterdam then and was - literally - gassed with my girlfriend by drugsdealers who had half a year before gotten "personal permission" from mayor Van Thijn to break the law and sell soft drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived).

Anyway... back to the article:

As emissions have soared, the planet has warmed relentlessly, just as he said it would; 1988 is not even in the top 20 warmest years now. Every year of this century has been hotter.

The ocean is rising, as Dr. Hansen predicted, and the pace seems to be accelerating. The great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are dumping ever-rising volumes of water into the sea. Coastal flooding is increasing rapidly in the United States. The Arctic Ocean ice cap has shrunk drastically.

If his warning in 1988 had been met with a national policy to reduce emissions, other countries might have followed, and the world would be in much better shape.

But within a few years after he raised the alarm, fossil-fuel interests and libertarian ideologues began financing a campaign of lies about climate research. The issue bogged down in Congress, and to this day that body has taken no action remotely commensurate with the threat.

Yes indeed. And this means that Congress has not done anything useful in the last 30 years, and in fact not since 1972, which is 46 years ago (in which the total human population more than doubled).... This is a recommended article.

2. EU Sets Crisis Summit on Migration

This article is by Lorne Cook and Nicole Winfield on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
With another migrant rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean and both Italy and Malta again refusing to let it dock, European Union leaders will try to find common ground for tackling a growing political crisis that is threatening to undermine the entire EU.

The leaders of about 16 countries—more than half the 28-nation bloc—will take part in what is being billed as “informal talks” in Brussels on Sunday ahead of a full EU summit next Thursday and Friday, where migration will top the agenda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the meeting involves “talking with particularly affected nations about all problems connected with migration.” She said the hope is to see if “we can reach bi-, tri- or even multinational agreements to better solve certain problems.”

The arrival of more than one million people in 2015, most fleeing wars in Syria and Iraq, exposed glaring deficiencies in EU migrant reception capacities and asylum laws. It has fueled tensions among EU nations and anti-migrant parties have won votes in Europe by fomenting public fears of foreigners.

Well... I think the above is much too optimistic. I think that the underlying problems are three:

(1) there are many refugees from countries that do not belong to the European Union;
(2) the European Union (and many Europeans) do not want refugees from non-European countries
(3) and therefore refugees from non-European countries are treated as criminals and not as

And to this you have to add another problem:

(4) There are too many persons who do not live in Europe who would want to live in (Western)
     Europe because (Western) Europe is much richer than most other countries.

Also, I am willing to agree that if Europe would let anybody who wants to immigrate into it migrate into it, then both Europe and its riches would be soon destroyed.

But that is not the problem which the first three points address, which is about genuine refugees from war and violence in their own countries.

And as far as I can see, the problem sketched by the first three points is systematically not addressed by European governments.

In fact, here is more:

The problem was crystallized last week in a row between Italy’s new populist government, Malta and France over who should take responsibility for 630 people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the main departure point for people trying to reach Europe.

Amid the mudslinging, Spain’s new Socialist government agreed to take charge of the migrants and the ship eventually made a weeklong voyage to Valencia.

That is to say: Italy's new government decided to say (in effect, though to my knowledge not in public): We Italians rather see you drown than that we are willing to take care of you as refugees.

Here is the European plan to deal with refugees:

With plans to reform Europe’s asylum laws bogged down, EU leaders hope to stop migrants leaving North Africa by paying countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to hold people until their eligibility for asylum can be established.

French President Emmanuel Macron said, after meeting Saturday with new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Paris, that both France and Spain want migrants arriving in Europe to be placed in “closed centers” so authorities can decide whether they’re eligible to apply for asylum.

Italy has proposed these “hotspots” be located in the migrants’ countries of origin or transit.

Ironically, the tough talk comes as the number of migrants entering Europe is dropping significantly. The U.N.’s refugee agency says around 80,000 people are expected to arrive by sea this year, about half the number from 2017.

“We do not have a crisis of numbers. We continue to have a crisis of political will,” said UNHCR Europe chief Sophie Magennis.

That is: Europe's countries will treat refugees as criminals; will try to keep them out of their own country and out of Europe; and generally want to lock up refugees as criminals in camps outside Europe in order (they say) to "decide whether they’re eligible to apply for asylum".

In fact, non-European refugees are treated as human inferiors to European inhabitants. And Sophie Magennis is quite right, and this is a recommended article (though it is much too optimistic).

3. The American March to Inequality: Why the UN Alston Report Alarms the Trump Plutocrats

This article is by Juan Cole on Common Dreams and originally on Informed Comment. It starts as follows:
It is no surprise that flacks for the plutocrats in charge of the US like Nikki Haley are squawking about the report on American poverty just issued by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. It throws loads of light on how unequal a society America is, how it is marching rapidly toward even greater, Third World levels of inequality, and how peculiar the US is, as a land of rapacious robber barons and 40 million completely marginalized poor.
Big social statistics are hard to envision. That in a country like the US, with some 320 million people and an $18 trillion annual gross domestic product, the social statistics could be rapidly changing is also hard to fathom.

They are changing, the UN says, decidedly for the worse for tens of millions of people.

The GOP tax massacre of earlier this year will transfer over time trillions of new dollars to the already obscenely wealthy, and result in diminished government services and a much smaller safety net for the rest of us. It was a tax cut, almost all of the benefits of which, went to one-tenth of one percent of the population. It will make them even richer, adding billions to their billions, and make the rest of us poorer. This is a structural change in US society with massive implications.

Yes indeed: I think all of this is quite correct. Here are some facts about the changes in the USA that have been instituted since Reagan became president in 1980 (and I have quoted the text, but did not reproduced images of these statistics):

I wrote about all this just a few years ago:

Average household net worth of whites: $110,000.

Average household net worth of African-Americans: $5000

The wealth gap between white and African-American families tripled between 1980 and 2009, according to the Century Foundation:

1 in every 15 African American men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.

“If current trends continue, one of every three black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino males—compared to one of every seventeen white males.”

So if the UN report were taken seriously, the US would require a social revolution to even approach the normality of a France or Germany, where a handful of billionaires don’t take food out of the mouth of hungry babies.

And that is why the shock troops of Trumpism are so eager to discredit it.

Again yes. And indeed I think that - very probably - only "a social revolution" will be able to make the USA as normal as France or Germany (!!), whlle I also think that the chances that
"a social revolution" will happen are negligible without a major economic recession.
4. Trump’s Mean Boy Nation

This article is by Michael Winship on Common Dreams. This is from near the beginning:
“Time and time again, the president has sought to shift the blame for his own decisions and their consequences to his political opponents,” James Hohmann wrote. “He’s doing it again this week by falsely blaming Democrats for his own policy of forcibly separating migrant children from their parents at the border, which he could stop with one phone call.”
Children in detention camps without their mothers and fathers, the youngest in “tender age” facilities—now there’s a tawdry, Orwellian use of a loving word like “tender” if ever there was one. At first, Trump saw this inhumane fiasco as a success while simultaneously claiming it wasn’t his fault, pointing his stubby little fingers at everyone else; Democrats, Congress, the courts, Obama, of course, and even George W. Bush.
But at bottom, and I do mean bottom, Trump, such White House horrors as Stephen Miller, John Kelly, Attorney General Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and their compliant cronies are responsible and have been willing to lie to us time and again as they held babies hostage to Trump’s obsession with his stupid border wall.
Yes, I think this is all correct. Here is more:
Unrepentant, on Wednesday, a petulant Trump was made to bow to public outrage and political pressure and sign an executive order ending the breakup of families, although the zero tolerance policy continues, kids will still be in jail, albeit with their parents, and multiple court challenges are at hand. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, declared, “This executive order would replace one crisis for another. Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances. If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken.”
I agree with the ACLU: "Children don’t belong in jail at all", but they are still in jail, it seems not with their parents, who also should not be in jail.

Here is more on the Alston Report on global powerty in the USA:
All of this comes just as Philip Alston, an NYU law professor and United Nations special rapporteur on global poverty, has finished writing a report on extreme poverty in the United States. The Republican tax cut bill, he says, “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality,” and worse, “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned, rather than a right of citizenship."
Precisely, except that the "seem" should have been replaced by "are", simply because the richest got most of the riches, and the poorest are being made poorer still, simply from the financial facts about Trump's changes.

Here is the ending of this article:

Trump and his crowd are dedicated to curdling the milk of human kindness. They fill their pockets while destroying America in a misbegotten attempt to take it back to a time of ethnic purity that never really was while establishing a new Gilded Age where only a handful can prosper at the expense of everyone else. We are becoming a mean boy nation, a nation once of immigrants but now one of bullies and tyrants. Our president breaks everything he sees, including our democracy and our republic. 

Only we can fix it.
Yes, I agree, although by now I have also concluded that to fix it (if that happens, which is not certain at all) very probably a major economic recession is needed. And see the next article:
5. 'As an American, I Feel Deeply Ashamed'

This article is by Marc Pitzke in Spiegel International. It starts as follows (and since I dislike capitalization, I have straightened out the capitals in "SPIEGEL ONLINE", for that is too much printed screaming for me, but otherwise everything is as copied):

Spiegel Online: Mr. Bochenek, you recently spent time in two detention centers for immigrants and their children in Texas. What did you see?

Bochenek: The first one was a facility where people are placed right after apprehension at the border. They call those facilities "hieleras" (freezers) because they're kept unreasonably cold. The cells are very, very small and yet they hold up to 30 people. They have concrete floors and concrete benches lining the walls.

Spiegel Online: Why so cold?

Bochenek: We were never given a good explanation for the cold. The border patrol said they keep the cells at a comfortable temperatute. But some are only around 55 degrees (13 degrees Celsius). You can imagine what that feels like if you're sitting on a concrete bench in wet clothing.

In fact, Mr. Bochenek is a "senior counsel to the children's rights division of Human Rights Watch, focusing on juvenile justice and refugee and migrant children" and he seems quite qualified to judge what he sees.

Here is more (and this is were the real and intentional sadism is very evident):

Bochenek: The adults are charged in federal court with unlawful entry into the country, which is a misdemeanor. Upon transfer to the court, federal marshals determine that the children are now unaccompanied and sends them on another track. They treat them as if they never arrived with parents at all.

Spiegel Online: Because once you're charged, your child is separated from you by law. (Trump's executive order instructs the Department of Justice to change that, but it's a cumbersome process that could take some time.)

Bochenek: Yes. The kids immediately go to a different facility. That facility is a large, warehouse-type arrangement with what looked like cages made from chain-link fencing. The migrants who have been there refer to it as the "dark kennel" because they feel like they're being held like animals.

Incidentally, if "unlawful entry" "is a misdemeanor", the adults should also not be locked up and certainly not without trial (and seeing a judge).

Here is more:

Bochenek: The facilities are incredibly basic. The kids get food and a roof over their heads but they're not getting the kind of care and support you expect for children. I saw a five-year-old boy on a green mat with an emergency blanket made from foil. He looked entirely lost. Nobody had ever spoken to him about what was happening. He hadn't seen his parents in a day or more.

Spiegel Online: How are these kids dealing with the situation?

Bochenek: They are completely traumatized with no sense of what happens next. There were no caregivers looking out for them, only uniformed guards checking off lists of names. The children are sitting in a detention facility, with the lights on 24 hours a day.

Spiegel Online: Why are the lights kept on? That borders on torture.

Bochenek: They told us it was for security reasons. It certainly doesn't comply with national or international standards in any sense.

Well... if you lock children up from age 3 to age 15, without them having done anything, and you separate them form their parents, and you lock them into cages, and you let the lights shine on them for 24 hours, the only rational explanation I can give is that the people who do this and the people who ordered this are sick sadists (and sadists should not be in government nor in the police).

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Spiegel Online: How will they be reunited with their parents, if at all?

Bochenek: We do not know. These agencies don't have a good record tracking people. Even before now there were serious problems. Now they created even more problems.

Spiegel Online: You have researched child abuse all over the world. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Bochenek: No. I don't know any other country that has used family separation on this scale. Everything about this is unique.

Spiegel Online: How does that make you feel?

Bochenek: It's morally reprehensible. As an American, I feel deeply ashamed.
Yes, 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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