August 19, 2018

Crisis: Truth-Testing Trump, Supermen, British Hacking EU, Netanyahu & Corbyn, U.S. Unions


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

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, August 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 August 19, 2018:
1. Truth-Testing Trump’s 250-Plus Attacks on the Russia Inquiry
2. Your Boss Is Making More Than You Do. Maybe 3,101 Times More.
3. Have British Spies Been Hacking the EU?
4. It Is Netanyahu, Not Corbyn, Who Deserves 'Unequivocal

5. Codetermination? Why Not Just Powerful Unions Instead?
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. Truth-Testing Trump’s 250-Plus Attacks on the Russia Inquiry

This article is by Linda Qiu on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The federal investigation into whether Russia actively sought to help Donald J. Trump win the White House in 2016 has been hanging over his head since even before the election. As president, he has repeatedly criticized the special counsel inquiry and has questioned whether it is the best use of time and taxpayer funds.

Some of the criticism has amounted to presidential opinion — like in calling James B. Comey “the worst F.B.I. director in history.” On Twitter alone, he has used the words “witch hunt” in over 100 posts.

“That whole situation is a rigged witch hunt,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday at the White House. “It’s a totally rigged deal. They should be looking at the other side.”

But hundreds of other statements, since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, included bold assertions about the Russia investigation that have demanded being fact checked.

He hasn’t always been wrong. Mr. Trump’s estimates of the inquiry’s price tag, and his accusations of political bias as demonstrated in texts between F.B.I. officials, are among presidential claims that have passed the truth test.

An analysis by The New York Times found more than 250 examples of exaggerated, misleading or flat-out false claims by Mr. Trump about the Russia investigation.

Actually, this is the only bit that I quote from this article. The main reason is that the rest of the article is charting Trump's veracity, which comes out as nearly though not totally zero (0).

The article is recommended, because I think it is important that the media (in so far as they have any decency left) should check Trump's factual claims.

I also think I should add that I am a psychologist who not only believes the factual truth that Trump is a gross liar, but whose explanation (in fact since 2 1/2 years now) is that Trump is not sane (he has a narcissistic personality disorder, in psychiatrese) and that besides he is a neofascist in my sense, for the simple reason that he satisfies 9 out 9 criterions for not being sane, and he satisfies 10 out of 10 criterions for being a neofascist (and if you disbelieve the latter fact, check out my definition of neofascism).

You may disagree, but the chances are that you know a lot less about psychiatry and psychology than I do, and also that you know a lot less about fascism and neofascism than I do.

And in any case: It is a simple factual truth that Trump is a major liar, and this is a recommended article.

2. Your Boss Is Making More Than You Do. Maybe 3,101 Times More.

This article is by Ilana Novick on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

There’s new data to back up the nagging feeling that millions of U.S. workers experience every payday: Their bosses really are making hundreds of times the amount the average worker does.

On average, that would be 312 times, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, which analyzed the 2017 compensation of chief executives from America’s 350 top companies.

The disparity, The Guardian explained Thursday, “came after the bosses of America’s largest companies got an average pay rise of 17.6% in 2017, taking home an average of $18.9m in compensation while their employees’ wages stalled, rising just 0.3% over the year.”

It’s a gap that’s been widening since the 1990s, the article continues: “In 1965, the ratio of CEO to worker pay was 20 to one; that figure had risen to 58 to one by 1989 and peaked in 2000, when CEOs earned 344 times the wage of their average worker.”

Yes, this is nearly all quite correct (factually correct!) although I would say that (i) the big changes towards the rich started seriously with the nominations of Thatcher and Reagan in 1979/1980, and also (ii) these were major and rightist reactions against Keynesianism, that had been mostly ruling the - quite successful - economies of the West from 1946 till 1980.

Also, I should like to add what I learned from the Dutch mega-rich managers:

In fact, the mega-rich (Dutch) managers all belong to a kind of supermen or superhumans (‹bermensche, in German) who all are - in their own opinions - such specially gifted alpha-males (for the the greatest part) that they deserve to get hundreds or thousands or indeed more times the amounts of money that ordinary non-supermen (Untermensche, in German) receive.

You might disagree, but the answers of the superhuman managers simply insist that if you do it is because you lack the excessive gifts of the superhumans like them.

Here is some more from this article:

New financial disclosures rules allowed the EPI to bring this information to light. It compels companies to publish the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay. The rule, a Washington Post article explained this year, was part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

It took until 2015 for the disclosure rule to be finalized, the Post explained, because of resistance from business advocacy groups “that said it would be onerous and expensive to calculate.”
It survived unscathed and, The Guardian explains, allowed American workers to confirm their worst suspicions about CEO pay:

Last year McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook earned $21.7m while the McDonald’s workers earned a median wage of just $7,017–a CEO to worker pay ratio of 3,101-to-one. The average Walmart worker earned $19,177 in 2017 while CEO Doug McMillon took home $22.8m–a ratio of 1,188-to-one.

You see, Steve Easterbrook and Doug McMillon are supermen, at least in terms of what I've learned from the Dutch supermen. Anyway... this is a recommended article.

3. Have British Spies Been Hacking the EU?

This article is by Annie Machon on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Just after midnight on Aug. 16, I was called by LBC Radio in London for a comment on a breaking story on the front page of The Daily Telegraph about British spies hacking the EU. Even though I had just retired to bed, the story was just too irresistible, but a radio interview is always too short to do justice to such a convoluted tale. Here are some longer thoughts.

For those who cannot get past the Telegraph paywall, the gist is that that the European Union has accused the British intelligence agencies of hacking the EU’s side of the Brexit negotiations. Apparently, some highly sensitive and negative EU slides about British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for Brexit, the Chequers Plan, had landed in the lap of the British government, which then lobbied the EU to suppress publication.

Of course, this could be a genuine leak from the Brussels sieve, as British sources are claiming (well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?). However, it is plausible that this is the work of the spies, either by recruiting a paid-up agent well placed within the Brussels bureaucracy, or through electronic surveillance.
I started with a link to Annie Machon who started her professional life, after her education at Cambridge University, as an agent of MI5 (the English spies) in 1991, from which she resigned in 1997.

Here is some more:
We also have confirmation from one of the early 2013 Edward Snowden disclosures that GCHQ had hacked its way into the Belgacom network—the national telecommunications supplier in Belgium. Even back then, there was an outcry from the EU bodies, worried that the UK (and by extension its closest intelligence buddy, the U.S.), would gain leverage with stolen knowledge.

So, yes, it is perfectly feasible that the UK could have done this, even though it was illegal back in the day. GCHQ’s incestuous relationship with America’s National Security Agency gives it massively greater capabilities than other European intelligence agencies. The EU knows this well (...)
Yes, I agree. (Also, as an aside: It seems likely that both the spies from the USA and from Great Britain get around not spying on persons from their own countries, by letting them be spied upon by their colleagues in the other country, and exchanging their findings.)

Here is more about Great Britain:
On Jan. 1, 2017, the UK government finally signed a law called the Investigatory Powers Act, governing the legal framework for GCHQ to snoop. The IPA gave GCHQ the most draconian and invasive powers of any Western democracy. Otherwise known in the British media as the “snoopers’ charter,” the IPA had been defeated in Parliament for years, but Theresa May, then home secretary, pushed it through in the teeth of legal and civil society opposition. This year, the High Court ordered the UK government to redraft the IPA as it is incompatible with European law.

The IPA legalized what GCHQ previously had been doing illegally post-9/11, including bulk metadata collection, bulk data hacking, and bulk hacking of electronic devices.

It also gave the government greater oversight of the spies’ actions, but these measures remain weak and offer no protection if the spies choose to keep quiet about what they are doing.
I think this is also true, and in fact I think that both the GCHQ and the NSA have been hacking whomever and whatever they could hack (which is nearly everything) since 2001 at the latest, and that they have extremely full personal dossiers about very many persons, though indeed it also may be true that these quite often have not (yet) been read by human eyes.

Here is Machon's conclusion:
So, perhaps this is indeed a GCHQ hack. However justifiable the move might be under the nebulous concept of “national security,” this event will poison further the already toxic Brexit negotiations. As Angela Merkel famously, if disingenuously, said after the Snowden revelation that the U.S. had hacked her mobile phone: “No spying among friends.” But perhaps this is an outdated concept—and the EU has not been entirely friendly to Brexit Britain.
I think she is probably correct, and this is a recommended article.

4. It Is Netanyahu, Not Corbyn, Who Deserves 'Unequivocal Condemnation'

This article is by Richard Silverstein on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Everyone and their brother in the UK - at least the tabloid media and pro-Israel apologists - has got it into their heads that the Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn laid a wreath on the grave of the Palestinian mastermind of the Munich massacre while visiting Tunisia in 2014. Is any of this true?

Well, yeah, some of it. He was in Tunisia. He did lay a wreath. He did honour the memories of dead Palestinians. But nothing beyond that. He laid a wreath that commemorated the 60 Palestinians and Tunisians who died in an Israeli revenge attack on PLO headquarters in Tunis. He did not lay a wreath at the grave of Salah Khalaf, also known as Abu Iyad, the former deputy to Yasser Arafat, who was assassinated by Israel in 1991 and who is buried nearby in the same cemetery.

I think this is all quite correct. Here is some more:

Before we get into high dudgeon over this, let's remember that many Israeli presidents and prime ministers have blood on their hands - terrorist blood. Yitzhak Shamir, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi all ordered the murders, bombings and assassinations of both British and Palestinian civilians. Ben-Zvi even ordered the assassination of a Palestinian Jew, Jacob Israel de Haan, a charismatic anti-Zionist leader who he deemed a threat to the early Yishuv political movement.

These men are lionized by the Israeli state and its citizens. They are heroes of the nation. Israelis flock to their graves in droves and opine upon their role in building the nascent state. Why then do we condemn someone like Corbyn for holding sympathies for the Palestinian dead, while ignoring the exact same behaviour by Israelis? It's beyond hypocrisy. In fact, it's an outrage.

Well... Jacob Israel de Haan was murdered nearly 100 years ago, in 1924. I think that is quite long ago. Then again, I agree with Silverstein that Corbyn has been dealt with quite unfairly (and still is, in many of the English propagandistic papers, simply because they dislike - and fear  -  Corbyn).

Here is more:

Why shouldn't we condemn Netanyahu as roundly as others condemn Corbyn? Corbyn has never ordered anyone assassinated. He's never ordered an invasion of any foreign country. All of which Netanyahu has done again and again.

Not only is this Tunis charge completely fabricated, the incident in question is known, and Corbyn spoke about it and explained it in a TV interview over a year ago.
Well... the positions of Netanyahu and Corbyn are quite different, but I admit that I like Corbyn (without agreeing with him) and that I dislike Netanyahu. And in any case, many English papers did and do lie a lot about Corbyn.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Contrary to what the Telegraph reports, Corbyn's gesture does not indicate support for the Brotherhood. It indicates support for victims of a brutal massacre by the Egyptian military junta. But then, this is hardly the first time the British press has pushed out Islamophobic propaganda. In their desperation to deliver a fatal blow to Corbyn, a significant section of the UK's media will continue to lie and lie and lie.

Yes, I agree with that and this is a recommended article.

5. Codetermination? Why Not Just Powerful Unions Instead?

This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren thinks big corporations have too much power, so next week she’ll be introducing new legislation to address that:

That’s where my bill comes in. The Accountable Capitalism Act restores the idea that giant American corporations should look out for American interests. Corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue would be required to get a federal corporate charter. The new charter requires corporate directors to consider the interests of all major corporate stakeholders—not only shareholders—in company decisions. Shareholders could sue if they believed directors weren’t fulfilling those obligations.

This approach follows the “benefit corporation” model, which gives businesses fiduciary responsibilities beyond their shareholders….My bill also would give workers a stronger voice in corporate decision-making at large companies. Employees would elect at least 40% of directors.

Warren’s basic idea is that workers have lost power over the past few decades and therefore have seen sluggish wage growth. At the same time, this has allowed management and shareholders to pocket the rising profits of corporations since they don’t have to fight workers for a bigger share.
I have published about Warren's proposal before (here) and this is an addition. Here is Kevin Drum's proposal:
Why not instead propose a truly simple and powerful proposal to boost unionization throughout the American economy? If your goal is to increase the power of the working class, this is the way to do it. It’s been done in America before, notably during the “Golden Age” of the 40s and 50s when America was supposedly greater than it is now. It produced a strong economy. It didn’t pauperize the rich. It’s easy for workers to understand. And you’re going to need a Democratic president and 60 Democratic senators to pass it, just like Warren’s bill. If the Democratic Party is ready for Warren’s new idea, it’s ready for my old idea. What’s not to like?
Actually, why not both? Anyway... 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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