August 14, 2018

Crisis: ¨The Best People¨, Mass Graves, Iran & the USA, Deregulations, Facebook´s Threats


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 14, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 14, 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 August 14, 2018:
1. Trump, Omarosa and ‘Only the Best People’
2. Mass Graves of Immigrants Found in Texas, But State Says No Laws
     Were Broken

3. Former Iranian Ambassador: Trump’s Re-imposed Sanctions Against
     Iran Are an Act of Warfare

4. How Trump’s War on Regulation is Trickle-Down Economics
5. Facebook Exec Warns News Outlets to Cooperate or End Up Dying in
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. Trump, Omarosa and ‘Only the Best People’

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

President Trump’s spat with Omarosa Manigault Newman, the White House adviser who was fired in December for “serious integrity issues,” is another of those particularly Trumpian innovations in public life — the raging dumpster fire that continues to yield new trash.

In her juicy new tell-all, aptly titled “Unhinged,” Ms. Manigault Newman paints an unflattering portrait of the president, whom she has known since appearing as a contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” in 2004. She characterizes Mr. Trump as a racist, misogynistic narcissist with poor impulse control, severe attention-deficit issues and signs of creeping mental decline, who “loves the hate,” “thrives on criticism and insults” and “delights in chaos and confusion.” Her anecdotes range from the prosaically awful (she claims he has used the N-word) to the freakish (she says she once walked into the Oval Office and found him eating paper). She says the Trump campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month sinecure to keep quiet about her on-the-job experiences. (A copy of the agreement has become public.) And, oh yes, she has secret audio recordings to corroborate some of her claims, including a recording of her firing by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, in the Situation Room.

I say. Well... I think Ms. Manigault Newman is mostly correct, although my own reasons to do so are not her words but the fact that I think Trump is not sane - and if you disagree, at least you should read the psychiatrists´ and psychologists´ evidence that also includes a video. It dates back to 2016, but - in part because I am a psychologist, I suppose - I do believe it. And I also have nearly two years of additional confirmations.

Here is some more:

Mr. Trump has responded with characteristic restraint. He has dismissed Ms. Manigault Newman as “wacky”; called her a “lowlife”; mocked her for her having, he claims, weepily begged him for a job in the White House; and said she was “hated” by her colleagues for being “nasty,” “vicious, but not smart” and “nothing but problems.” Despite all this, insists Mr. Trump, he had tried his best to make things work because Ms. Manigault Newman always said “GREAT things” about him. For this president, there remains no higher job qualification than constantly telling him and others what a super guy he is.

Yes indeed - and in fact the above passage is more evidence that the president of the USA is mentally deranged.

Here is the ending of this article:

Surrounding oneself with smart, competent, preferably noncorrupt people is important for any president. The job is too big for even the most gifted leader to handle alone. But for a president with no relevant experience in, knowledge of or identifiable interest in what the job entails, it is all the more vital. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s claim that he has a keen eye for talent, like so many of his other promises, turned out to be a mix of alternative facts and hot air.

Yes indeed. And in fact the only real talent that I found since the beginning of 2017 is that Trump does have a remarkable talent for lying. This is a recommended article.

2. Mass Graves of Immigrants Found in Texas, But State Says No Laws Were Broken

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Texas says there is “no evidence” of wrongdoing after mass graves filled with bodies of immigrants were found miles inland from the U.S.-Mexico border. The bodies were gathered from the desert surrounding a checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, in Brooks County. An investigation was launched after the mass graves were exposed last November in a documentary by The Weather Channel in partnership with Telemundo and The Investigative Fund. The report also found many of the migrants died after crossing into the United States and waiting hours for Border Patrol to respond to their 911 calls. We speak with reporter John Carlos Frey, who found rampant violations of the law.
I say. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: And in the latest scandal, Texas has claimed there was no evidence of wrongdoing when the bodies of immigrants found miles inland from the Mexican border were placed in mass graves. The bodies were gathered from the desert surrounding a checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, in Brooks County. An investigation was launched after the mass graves were exposed last November in a documentary by The Weather Channel in partnership with Telemundo and The Investigative Fund. In this clip, reporter John Carlos Frey speaks with Dr. Krista Latham of the University of Indianapolis at one of the sites where scores of migrant bodies were buried.

Here is more:

LORI BAKER: They’re unmarked, they’re unidentifiable, and there’s no information on these individuals. We anticipate at least several hundred may still be buried within the cemetery.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: As I investigate why so many lost migrants are dying in Brooks County, I hear about forensic teams from Baylor and Indianapolis universities, who have spent the past two years exhuming migrant bodies.

KRISTA LATHAM: I just feel like everybody deserves to be mourned properly. They still have parents or siblings or spouses or children that are wondering what happened to them. So we’re doing this for the families.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: For years, the previous sheriff would give the bodies to a funeral home, that charged taxpayers over a thousand dollars per body, then buried them, anonymously, in a corner of this cemetery.

Can you describe what kinds of bags the individuals were buried in?

LORI BAKER: They’re biohazard bags, trash bags.

I say, once again. So it seems that the least that happened was that many bodies of immigrants (and it is unclear how or why they died) were given by a sheriff to a funeral home, that then cashed over a thousand dollars per body from the American taxes, and proceeded by burying the bodies in trash bags in unmarked and unidentifiable mass graves.

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

JOHN CARLOS FREY: The mass graves are in a small rural county in South Texas called Brooks County, a very poor county. The migrants mostly come from Central America and Mexico, and they find themselves crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, trying to evade a checkpoint and walking about 40 miles in what amounts to 100-degree heat and 100 percent humidity. Many of the individuals die. They don’t have identification on them. The process by which the county and officials in the area try to identify them is pretty meaningless. And these individuals are buried in a county cemetery, basically dumped into a hole in the ground. Many of them don’t have markers or proper burial techniques. And these graves, in the last couple of years, have been exhumed so that the individuals can be identified, or at least the attempt to identify them.

And that´s it - and please note that almost nothing is known about the people buried in trash bags in mass graves, and that includes the reason why they died. This is a recommended article.
3. Former Iranian Ambassador: Trump’s Re-imposed Sanctions Against Iran Are an Act of Warfare

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Tensions are escalating between the U.S. and Iran after the Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions against Iran last week. This news followed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Trump has threatened other countries seeking to trade with Iran, tweeting, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned the sanctions as “psychological warfare,” saying last week he would not begin negotiations until the sanctions are withdrawn. We speak with Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He served as spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the European Union from 2003 to 2005.
Yes indeed. And this was started by the Trump administration, that - so far - has not found any other country to agree with it, and that also seems to be out for real war with Iran.

Here is more, with considerable background information:
SEYED HOSSEIN MOUSAVIAN: As you know, the Iranian nuclear deal was the result of 13 years of negotiation between Iran and the world powers. The U.S. engaged in negotiation in 2013 and had also bilateral meetings—intrusive, frequent bilateral meetings—from 2013 to 2015. Ultimately, Iran and the U.S., Iran, the world powers, agreed on the nuclear deal. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution approving the deal. And two years after deal, Iran has fully complied with all its commitments. The IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the sole agency responsible for supervising the nuclear program of member states, has 11 times since 2016 confirmed Iran’s full compliance with the nuclear deal.

Now, the U.S. is the only UN Security Council member who withdrew from the deal, who violated the deal. This is bad. This is a big mistake. This is a violation of international law and regulations by the United States of America. However, what you mentioned, the U.S. ambassador wrote an op-ed in London pressuring the U.K. to join the U.S. to violate the United Nations Security Council, and to withdraw from the deal. The U.S. is doing such a move with every European member. The U.S. is pushing all international community, all other countries, and this is really something very strange and perhaps unprecedented.
Yes, I agree with Mousavian. Here is more:
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about President Trump and his increasing threats against Iran. Last month he tweeted to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, ”NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.” This was in all caps. Later, National Security Advisor John Bolton doubled down, saying, “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”
I say (and I quoted literally, although I dislike all caps and also italics, which is also why I avoid italics).

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

AMY GOODMAN: What about President Trump threatening any country that does business with Iran, saying the U.S. won’t do business with them?

SEYED HOSSEIN MOUSAVIAN: This is exactly what I said, a new and unprecedented phenomenon in international relations, because the nuclear deal has—it clearly states in the nuclear—I mean, you would see in the nuclear deal stating that all member, all signatories are committed to facilitate normal economic relation with Iran.
Yes indeed, and this is a strongly recommended article, in which there is considerably more.
4. How Trump’s War on Regulation is Trickle-Down Economics

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

When Trump’s not blaming foreigners for everything that ails America, he’s blaming regulations.

Last week he even blamed regulations for the wildfires now ravaging California. They’re “made so much worse,” he tweeted, “by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount[s] of readily available water to be properly utilized.”

I have news for Trump. California’s tough environmental laws are among America’s (and the world’s) last bulwarks against climate change. And it’s climate change – not regulation – that’s reaping havoc across California as well as much of the rest of the world.  

Oh, and Californians are using water very carefully.

Yet Trump is pushing in the opposite direction. He’s now proposing to let cars pollute more and to strip California of its right to set higher air-quality rules.

It’s not just the environment. Trump is also gutting regulations that protect consumers, workers, investors, students, and children.

Yes indeed, and in fact attacking regulations is one of the most favorite neoliberal (in part also: neofascist) ways of getting more money to the rich. Also, I wrote about this in 2015, and here is a link, which is very well worth reading.

Here is more from Reich:

What’s the justification for all of this? “The Administration’s agenda of deregulation is unleashing the …  true potential of American businesses,” trumpets Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors in its 2018 economic report. 

Translated: Cutting regulations means more corporate profits. More profits satisfies Trump’s donor class.

Precisely - and once again see It's the deregulation, stupid! (for this gives general ideas and backgrounds).

Here is how Reich sums it up:

(..) Trump is taking a meat axe to all regulations. In so doing he’s creating a new form of trickle-down economics – where the benefits go to corporate executives and major investors, while the costs and risks land on the rest of us.

Yes, I entirely agree, possibly with one stylistical exception: Perhaps ¨trickle-up economics¨ is the better term - and unlike trickle-down economics, that does not work for the non-rich, this also does work very well for the rich.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article

They’re using most of the profits to buy back their own shares of stock – thereby boosting share prices.

Which is good for the richest 1 percent of Americans who own 40 percent of the stock market, and the top 10 percent who own 80 percent. But, like trickle-down tax cuts, this does nothing for most Americans.

Trump’s gang of industry lobbyists and executives who are busy deregulating the same industries they once represented will no doubt do very well when they head back into the private sector.

The rest of us won’t do well.
Make no mistake. Trump’s attack on regulation is just another form of trickle-down economics – where the gains go the top, and the risks and losses trickle down.

I entirely agree, possibly with the stylistical exception I noted already. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Facebook Exec Warns News Outlets to Cooperate or End Up Dying in 'Hospice'

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
During a closed-door and off-the-record meeting last week, top Facebook executive Campbell Brown reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth's efforts to "revitalize journalism" will leave media outlets dying "like in a hospice."

Reported first by The Australian under a headline which read "Work With Facebook or Die: Zuckerberg," the social media giant has insisted the comments were taken out of context, even as five individuals who attended the four-hour meeting corroborated what Brown had stated.

"Mark doesn't care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes," Brown reportedly said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "We will help you revitalize journalism... in a few years the reverse looks like I'll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice."

I say! So this is Fuckbook/Facistbook/Facebook in action! As I have been saying since 2011 - here is the link - I strongly dislike and despise Facebook, and I would not want anything whatsoever to do with it, even if my money or my career depended on it.

Here is how the corrupt and neofascist Facebook operates:

Brown's warning about the dire prospects for news outlets that don't get on board with a future in which corporate giants like Facebook are the arbiters of what is and isn't trustworthy news comes as progressives are raising alarm that Facebook's entrance into the world of journalism poses a major threat to non-corporate and left-wing news outlets.

As Common Dreams reported in July, progressives' fears were partly confirmed after Facebook unveiled its first slate of news "segments" as part of its Facebook Watch initiative.

Precisely: Facebook does NOT provide the news; Facebook provides ¨the news¨ it wants its members to read, and does not give any opening to other news (which it might also classify as ¨fake news¨).

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

Reacting to Brown's reported assertion that Zuckerberg "doesn't care about publishers," Judd Legum, who writes the Popular Information newsletter,argued, "Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat."

"In addition to disputed quote, there are also Facebook's actions, which are fully consistent with the quote," Legum added. "We desperately need to develop alternative delivery mechanisms to Facebook."

Yes, although in my opinion there is such an ¨alternative delivery mechanism¨: html.
I write my own site in my own html editor, and anybody who is minimally intelligent can do the same, indeed with little trouble.

Then again, I fear that at least 70% of the members of Facebook - that is: over 1,2 billion of its members - and specifically those who get all their news either from Facebook or from Google, simply lack the brains to do the same. O well.... 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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