August 18, 2018

Crisis: Google & China, Manipulators, Trade Wars, McCain, 565 Kidnapped Children, ME/CFS


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 18, 2018
     B. One Extra Bit

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, August 18, 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 18, 2018:
1. Google Executives Misled Staff in Meeting on China Censorship
2. How to Beat a Manipulator
3. Trump's Trade Wars
4. Trump Snubbed McCain. The Media Snubbed the Rest of Us.
5. 565 Children Are Still Separated From Families Due to Trump's
     Monstrous Policies
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. Google Executives Misled Staff in Meeting on China Censorship

This article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Google bosses have broken their silence on the company’s plan to launch a censored search engine in China amid mounting internal protests over the project.

On Thursday, CEO Sundar Pichai admitted to employees during an all-hands meeting that the censorship project – code-named Dragonfly – had been “in an exploration stage for quite a while now,” according to two sources who heard his remarks. Pichai emphasized his belief that Google should return to China, but claimed that the company was “not close to launching a search product in China.” Facing employee criticism for shrouding Dragonfly in secrecy, Pichai vowed thatwe’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record.”

As a partial aside, this style of answering to quite valid and important questions, which basically consists of snotty lies and evasions, is also the style of answering of Facebook and others, and is in turn based on the enormous power and the minimal legal controls on the corporations.

Here is some background - and one thing to keep in mind is that Google had a lot less money in 2006 and in 2010 than it is has now, which in turn means it now has a lot more power than it had then:

Back in 2006, Google launched a censored search engine in China. But four years later, in March 2010, it pulled the service out of the country, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and hack Google’s computer systems. At that time, Brin was a vocal opponent of the censorship. During Thursday’s meeting, Brin told Google employees that Dragonfly would have “certain trade-offs” but said the process was “slow-going and complicated.”

Yes, that is true - and Brin was also initially raised in the Soviet Union, so he should know what totalitarianism, lies and control by the state's security officials may mean.

Then again, no3w that he has a lot more money than he had in 2010, I think that he thinks that he can vastly extend the money and the power he has, fundamentally by betraying all moral principles he showed off while he had less money.

Here is some more:

Several human rights groups have called on Google to cancel Dragonfly, and a bipartisan group of six U.S. senators has condemned it as “deeply troubling.” Meanwhile, Google employees — most of whom knew nothing about the China plan until they read the news reports — want an ombudsperson to be appointed to review “urgent moral and ethical issues” raised by the censorship.

Publicly, Google has not yet issued a statement. Dozens of reporters have questioned Google about Dragonfly, but they have been told only that the company will not discuss “speculation about future plans.” After two weeks of sustained reporting on the issue, Google has not issued a single response to The Intercept.

My own interpretation is that Brin is now so powerful and rich that he thinks he can bullshit everyone.

Finally, The Intercept has 13 questions for Google (all unanswered so far), which I can recommend all to you, but from which I will quote just two. Here is the first:

In 2010, Google pulled its search engine out of China, citing efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and hack Google computer systems as reasons why it “could no longer continue censoring our results.” Since 2010, according to analysts and human rights groups, internet censorship in China has become more pervasive. Can you explain why Google wants to now relaunch a censored version of its search engine in China? What has changed in the last eight years that has prompted this decision

I think I can answer that, but it is probably not Google's answer: Google wants both more power and more money; it thinks it can get that in China; and it also thinks - but probably will never admit - that all the moral principles it once sported were sported at the time Google had a lot less power and money than it has now.

Here is the last of these 13 questions:

Google’s stated central mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The company’s informal motto is “don’t be evil.” Google has since its early years maintained a list of “10 things” that represent foundational values for the company. One of these values is: “You can make money without doing evil.” Another is: “Democracy on the web works.” Can Google explain how these values are consistent with its plan to launch a censored search engine in China, which will limit people’s access to information about subjects such as human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest?

I have given or indicated my answers, but these will not be Google's. And this is a recommended article.
2. How to Beat a Manipulator

This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Consortiumnews. It has an introduction:
In our political and personal lives many of us have been conned. Here’s how to recognize how politicians and people manipulate us and how to stop them, according to Caitlin Johnstone.
Well... I got an M.A. with only As in psychology; I got a B.A. with only As in philosophy but was denied the right to take an M.A. in it because I criticized my utterly incompetent and lazy "teachers" of philosophy, and besides because I was not a Marxist; and I think I can say how you can prevent being conned:

You need a lot of knowledge; a lot of intelligence; and also some honest ethical principles.

But not according to Caitlin Johnstone:
Humans are hackable. Ask any conman. Our desire to think we have control over our lives often hides this from ourselves, but most of us are highly suggestible and hypnotizable. If you think you’re not, you’re in more danger of being hacked than someone who has humbled themselves enough to see how this works in them.

There’s no need to be ashamed of being conned. Realizing that you’ve been, or are being, conned will naturally bring up feelings of embarrassment, but it’s never your fault that someone’s taken you for a ride. Get clear: conning someone is the crime; being conned is being a victim of that crime. That’s how the law sees it in fraud cases. Manipulators would love you to think that it’s your fault for allowing yourself to be manipulated, but that’s just another manipulation isn’t it?
Well, consider: "it’s never your fault that someone’s taken you for a ride". Also not if you are basically an ignorant and stupid fool? Consider again: "conning someone is the crime; being conned is being a victim of that crime". No, not if it is not a case of straight fraud, as it often is not, but a case of propaganda and deception (that are mostly based on your ignorance and stupidity). And consider once more: "Manipulators would love you to think that it’s your fault for allowing yourself to be manipulated, but that’s just another manipulation isn’t it". No, it is not if they are more intelligent and know a lot more than you do.

Then there is this:
Because of the reach of mass media, every single one of us is in an abusive relationship with plutocratic manipulators. Many of us are in personal relationships with manipulators too. Conveniently, the strategies for dealing with sociopathic manipulators are the exact same, from plutocrats to your live-in partner.
You are easy prey if you don’t know what you want and you leave it up to others to decide for you. If you don’t have a sense of who you are and what you stand for, anyone can come in and co-opt that for their own sick agendas. Sit down, get quiet, and make an inventory of who you are and what you need.
I agree more or less with the first statement, but in fact that has always been the case in my life, for the mass media always were - in various ways, in various respects - dishonest to me and those they were supposed to inform. And while I agree this is considerably more the case now, it is nothing new.

As to "sociopaths": The meaning of "sociopathy" is essentially "one who rejects the current ruling moral norms". I think it is a much abused psychiatric nonsense term, that also leads straight to Soviet-style psychiatry: You may lock up anyone as insane (and start forcing medicines on them) for not accepting the current social norms in your society.

Also, the second paragraph sounds pretty crazy to me if we are talking about adult persons: How can one be an adult person and be lacking "
a sense of who you are and what you stand for"?!?!

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Keep telling the truth to yourself at least, even when it doesn’t tally with your worldview. Remain as intellectually honest with yourself as possible about what the knowable facts are, and what is conjecture or wishful thinking. Verify everything as much as you can so you know you’re standing on solid, factual ground. Manipulators love to keep people as confused as possible. Get as many quantifiable, verified, real-world facts as you can underneath you and build your worldview on them.
This is at best halfly true, and is so basically for two reasons:

First, no one can "
Verify everything as much as you can", for the simple reason that in almost any case there is far too much material to check.

And second, Johnstone completely omits mentioning personal intelligence, wide and varied knowledge of sources of information, and any honest ethical principles. I don't think this article will help you.

3. Trump's Trade Wars

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows - and no, I don't like titles all in caps, and will make them normal, just as I shorten titles of the lengths of tweets:

Trump has gotten America into a trade war with all our major trading partners. He’s put tariffs, which are essentially taxes, on what they sell to us. And they’ve retaliated by putting tariffs on what we sell to them.

Trump’s trade war is dumb and dangerous for 3 reasons:

First: American companies make and sell things all around the world, employ people all over the world, and are owned by investors all over the world.
Well... they are taxed by Trump in the USA, by the U.S. government. This is a better reason:
Second: Tariffs hurt American workers.
Yes, for the simple reason that they have to pay more for everything that comes with some tariff. (But this is no argument for Trump, I think: He is only interested in profits, which are the incomes of the rich, but not of the rest.)

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Third: The best way to increase the competitiveness of American workers has nothing to do with tariffs. It’s to invest in America.
Yes, but Trump is not interested in investing in America, at least not if this would mean or imply giving the non-rich some more money or investing in things like infra-structure.
4. Trump Snubbed McCain. The Media Snubbed the Rest of Us.

This article is by Peter Certo on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

On an otherwise sleepy August day, President Trump signed the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act. Named for the dying Arizona senator who’s championed military budgets for his entire career, the bill increases U.S. military spending to an astonishing $717 billion.

According to my Institute for Policy Studies colleague Lindsay Koshgarian, that’s about double what American taxpayers were spending at the end of the Cold War, and upwards of $300 billion more than what we spent before the War on Terror.

I agree that is a whole lot of money. Here is more:

You’d expect a bill of this magnitude to generate lots of critical coverage — and you’d be right! But only kind of.

The most controversial thing about this bill, to hear most of the media tell it, is that the president refused to thank John McCain when he signed it.

Yes indeed. Here is more:

I ran some numbers of my own: A Google news search on the story turned up nearly 150,000 pieces like this. That’s almost 3 times the number of results I got when I searched the same story, but replaced “John McCain” with the actual price tag of the bill: $717 billion.

To put it kindly, this is garbage.

If the media deems a petty snub more controversial than a massive, war-mongering spending bill, you can be sure Congress will follow. The bill passed by huge bipartisan margins in both the House and Senate.

I agree - and here are some alternative suggestions:

For instance, my home state of Ohio has, by some measures, the most student debt of any state. According to Koshgarian, taxpayers there spent $15.5 billion on the Pentagon base budget alone this past year. For that money, we could’ve funded nearly 700,000 four-year Pell grants.

For Texas, the most uninsured state in the union, their $45 billion in Pentagon dollars could’ve covered 15 million adults and 16 million kids. That’s the entire state — and then some.

Flint, Michigan taxpayers, Koshgarian calculates, spent some $38 million. That could’ve paid for nearly 700 infrastructure jobs to fix things like, say, lead in their water pipes.

Nationally, that money could’ve provided solar power to the entire country. Or funded universal health care. Or debt-free higher education. Instead, we’ll be shelling out more money on fruitless, destructive wars and boondoggle weapons systems like the F-35 (which McCain himself has called “a scandal and a tragedy”).

Yes indeed, and this is a recommended article.

5. 565 Children Are Still Separated From Families Due to Trump's Monstrous Policies

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Amid a news cycle dominated by the day-to-day chaos, antics, and scandals of the Trump presidency, new government numbers released on Thursday offered a grim reminder that the humanitarian travesty sparked by President Donald Trump's inhumane family separation policy is still ongoing, despite the fact that it has faded into the background of corporate news coverage.

In court filings on Thursday, lawyers for the Trump Justice Department said that 565 immigrant children remain separated from their parents and held in detention facilities more than three weeks after the court-mandated deadline for reunification.

While immigrant rights activists and advocacy groups have continued calling attention to the crisis and working tirelessly to ensure that every child is ultimately reunited with their families, much of the media "has largely moved on, worn out and dazzled by other outrages," observed Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur.

Yes, I think that is all quite true - although I miss the word kidnapping, which is what Trump's government did to the 3000 children it removed from their parents, and to the 565 children who still remain separated from their parents, in spite of legal orders.

Here is some more:

"This week, for example, the focus has been on a new book in which a former White House aide, Omarosa Manigault, claims that Trump is a racist. As proof, she claims there is a secret tape of Trump using the n-word on The Apprentice," Legum notes. "Interest in the Omarosa story far exceeds interest in the child separation story, even at its June peak. This week, despite hundreds of kids still in limbo, child separation barely registers."

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

"The numbers are horrible—and it's so important to remember that it's not just numbers: it's kids, torn away from their parents by Trump's cruel policy and put in cages," Andrew Stroehlein of Human Rights Watch wrote in response to the Trump administration's court filings. "U.S. taxpayers have been funding this torture of children and are rightly outraged."

Yes again - and it was and is kidnapping. This is a recommended article.

B. One Extra Bit

This article is by Admindxrw on Dx Revision Watch. It is again concernd with ME/CFS, that my ex and I have since January 1979, but that was admitted by a high medical and legal group in Holland as a "serious chronic disease" only in 2018, also without offering any excuses to anyone for fundamental, false and completely unscientific discrimination by virtually all Dutch medical doctors for forty years:
I will not comment on this because it is technical. Also, while I think this is important, and it is reproduced here for people with ME/CFS, I must admit that I have lost my faith in official criterions, for these are abused anyway by medics, as show in the first paragraph of this review:

My ex and I have been diagnosed for forty years as, in effect, either hallucinators or deceivers, and have lost very much by that diagnosis, that was not even decent medicine, and I have also had to survive two periods of physical terror and murder threats against which virtually all Dutchmen did nothing, basically because we were not their family nor their friends, and we only insisted on getting our human rights - that have been denied to us for forty years.

I only have a warning about Dutch medical doctors: 90% are both incompetent and also knowing liars about any disease that falls outside the normal diseases (I am a psychologist, and my statistics on Dutch doctors are sufficient for this judgement), and besides, 100% have gotten at most half of the education Dutch medical doctors got until the later 1970ies.

[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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