September  3, 2018

Crisis: Net Neutrality, Dark Web, 40-Hour Work Week, Trump Vs. Marijuana, "Trump Deathwatch"


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 3, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 3, 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 September 3, 2018:
1. California Passes Nation's Strongest Net Neutrality Bill
2. The Real Intellectual Dark Web -- and They’re Calling Out Right-Wing

3. Why We Have to Go Back to a 40-Hour Work Week to Keep Our Sanity
4. Why is Trump ramping up his unwieldy war on weed?
5. Trump Deathwatch
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. California Passes Nation's Strongest Net Neutrality Bill

This article is by Jake Johnson on Truthout and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

In a major victory for the open internet that could have ripple effects throughout the United States, the California Senate on Friday thwarted aggressive lobbying by the telecom industry and passed the strongest, most comprehensive net neutrality bill in the nation.

“The passage of SB 822 in California has huge implications for our fight to restore neutrality nationwide,” declared the advocacy group Fight for the Future (FFTF) following Friday’s vote. “We also need to harness the momentum from this huge victory to put pressure on our elected officials in Congress.”

Yes. Then again, SB 822 may still not be signed into law:

If SB 822 is ultimately signed into law, it would restore the net neutrality protections repealed by the Republican-controlled FCC last December and implement even stronger rules by establishing “an outright ban on zero-rating—the practice of offering free data, potentially to the advantage of some companies over others—of specific apps.”

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

“We did it,” Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, the primary author of SB 822, said in a statement. “We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation. The internet is at the heart of 21st century life—our economy, our public safety and health systems, and our democracy. So when Donald Trump’s FCC decided to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet.”

As the fight for strong net neutrality protections gains steam at the state level, open internet advocates are hoping the resulting energy and momentum will translate into action in Congress, where the House is working to assemble enough votes to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution to undo the FCC’s deeply unpopular repeal.

I think that this sounds a bit too much like propaganda to me, but OK, if only because I rarely have positive news in the Crisis-series. This is a recommended article.
2. The Real Intellectual Dark Web -- and They’re Calling Out Right-Wing Media

This article is by Taylor Link on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

There's an ideological war raging in the U.S. That's what Commentary magazine's John Podhoretz said in a recent podcast, anyways. And he's not wrong. It might not be a conflict as epic as the Second World War. It's not being fought on a battlefield or in research labs. But it is consuming much of the discourse in 2018, especially on Twitter.

Much of the battles involving the left appear to be partisan infighting: liberals pushing back against the dramatic shift to the left; Democratic Socialists assailing the liberal establishment. Conservatives, meanwhile, have seemingly abandoned any constructive introspection. "Owning the libs" has become their only battlecry.

Possibly so, but I don't have Twittter, I don't want Twitter, and I also think that if you "discuss" things on Twitter, your intellect can't be much better than Trump's.

Then there is the IDW, which is short for the Intellectual Dark Web (?!), where my bracketed "?!" indicates that I do not (even) know whether this is or isn't (or perhaps both) part of the WWW:

The IDW criticizes most, if not all, policies and social movements that have arisen from America's liberal trajectory. Feminism, affirmative action, subsidized health care, Black Lives Matter, wealth distribution, immigration, all have come under fire by the IDW. Their main antagonist may be the "mainstream liberal media," which they vilify for propping up progressive causes. Because of this, conservative media has welcomed these new voices into the tent, even though some whitewash racism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

Perhaps so, but while I do not like the opinions of this group, I also think that both they and their critics should have access on the internet.

Then there is this:

Nevertheless, the most formidable group that has consistently held conservative media's feet to the fire this past year or two has been a handful of anonymous Twitter accounts. These anonymous Twitter accounts — or anons — have fact-checked and criticized conservative journalism to the point that the right can no longer ignore them. Their media criticism has now become mainstream, frustrating conservatives who see this as a blatant attempt to delegitimize and silence right-wing voices.

Well... I strongly despise and much dislike Twitter, which essentially are e-mails that must be so short you can't rationally argue in them (but hey!: they do print your anonymous "name" and address two times in each of your Tweets!) and I also strongly dislike anonymous communications (apart from death threats) simply because it exposes you to anybody's often
utterly insane opinions, without ever being able to hit back at their real persons.

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

Using unnamed sources in "man on the street" reporting is often frowned upon, if not improper. Washington Post journalist Dave Weigel revealed this week that he would not use a quote unless he gets the speaker's full name, age and occupation. This is standard policy for many media outlets.

I completely agree with Weigel, and no, this doesn't necessarily mean that Weigel only should write real names in his articles, but it does mean that he can hold liars responsible, which is completely impossible with anonymous Tweets.

3. Why We Have to Go Back to a 40-Hour Work Week to Keep Our Sanity

This article is by Sarah Anderson on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

If you’re lucky enough to have a job right now, you’re probably doing everything possible to hold onto it. If the boss asks you to work 50 hours, you work 55. If she asks for 60, you give up weeknights and Saturdays, and work 65.  

Odds are that you’ve been doing this for months, if not years, probably at the expense of your family life, your exercise routine, your diet, your stress levels, and your sanity. You’re burned out, tired, achy, and utterly forgotten by your spouse, kids and dog. But you push on anyway, because everybody knows that working crazy hours is what it takes to prove that you’re “passionate” and “productive” and “a team player” — the kind of person who might just have a chance to survive the next round of layoffs.

I say, for I did not know this. Then again, I am not living in the USA but in Holland, where there still are fairly strong unions, and where the 40 hour week has been mostly fully accepted, also legally, since nearly 100 years.

Here is some more on the 40 hour week in the USA:

This is what work looks like now. It’s been this way for so long that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous, and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.

Yes, I agree - and these are the facts. Here are three questions:

How did we get to the 40-hour week in the first place? How did we lose it? And are there compelling bottom-line business reasons that we should bring it back?

I shall give my own answers to these questions, briefly:

The first question is answered (for the most part) by decades of work, demonstrations and strikes by the unions.

The second question is answered (for the most part) by the collapse of the unions: They still exist, but they have far fewer members and far less money.

The third question I answer not by quoting (bolding added) "business reasons" but by considering hours and human rights:

In a workweek of 40 hours, you are working more than 70% of the time, and you are doing that every 24 hours as working 8 hours (plus travel to work), sleeping 8 hours, and having considerably less than 8 hours for yourself, in which you have to do everything you must do apart from working.

I think myself that is more than enough.

Here is more about the arisal of the 40-hour week in the USA:

By 1914, emboldened by a dozen years of in-house research, Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay, and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight. The National Association of Manufacturers criticized him bitterly for this — though many of his competitors climbed on board in the next few years when they saw how Ford’s business boomed as a result. In 1937, the 40-hour week was enshrined nationwide as part of the New Deal.

Yes. And this is about the collapse of the 40-hour week in the USA:

[There] were the early morning-in-America Reagan years. The unions -- for 150 years, the guardians of the 40-hour week -- were falling under a conservative onslaught; and in their place, the new cult of the entrepreneur was ascendant. All the old paternalistic contracts between employers and employees were torn up.

Well... I am willing to believe it, but how where the existing "contracts between employers and employees were torn up"? (In Holland, this would have been rather difficult, and would have taken considerable trouble, although the Dutch situation for workers also were made worse.)

Here is how the rich exploit the young:

The rapacious new corporate ethic was summarized by two phrases: "churn ‘em and burn ‘em" (a term that described Microsoft’s habit of hiring young programmers fresh out of school and working them 70 hours a week until they dropped, and then firing them and hiring more), and “working 90 hours a week and loving it!” (...) And this mentality soon spread from the technology sector to every industry in every corner of the country.

I say. I also think the last sentence may be a bit too strong, but I do not know.

Here is the ending of this article:

But the bottom line is: For the good of our bodies, our families, our communities, the profitability of American companies, and the future of the country, this insanity has to stop. Working long days and weeks has been incontrovertibly proven to be the stupidest, most expensive way there is to get work done. Our bosses are depleting resources from of the human capital pool without replenishing them. They are taking time, energy, and resources that rightfully belong to us, and are part of our national common wealth.

Yes, I agree - but this doesn't mean that the 40-hour week will return, unfortunately. This is a recommended article.

4. Why is Trump ramping up his unwieldy war on weed?

This article is by Matthew Rozsa on Salon. It starts as follows:

Earlier this week, it was revealed that President Donald Trump has created a Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, one in which various federal agencies that oversee marijuana policy work together to find ways to prevent Americans from having access to the drug. According to a summary of a meeting held between the White House and nine government departments in July, "the prevailing marijuana narrative in the U.S. is partial, one-sided, and inaccurate" and needs to be countered with "the most significant data demonstrating negative trends, with a statement describing the implications of such trends."

Set aside the irony of government officials denouncing the pro-marijuana legalization arguments as "partial, one-sided, and inaccurate" while making it clear that they're only interested in data that will support their anti-legalization position, there is a deeper issue here: Trump is ramping up his unwieldy war on weed

Yes, it seems Rozsa is quite correct - which is pretty strange for someone who has any roughly adequate ideas about marijuana, for there are at least 50 years of continuous experiences, and these experiences showed three things: (1) marijuana is not addictive; (2) marijuana is not a port to stronger drugs; and (3) marijuana is much less dangerous than alcohol and other drugs.

And I know this, because Amsterdam and indeed Holland has had mostly legally totally unpunished usage of marijuana the last 50 years, in which millions used it, and the above results are the outcome.

In fact, that was already known in 1968: See the Wootton Report (which is well worth reading) - and these conclusions stood up for 50 years. Indeed, here is a conclusion from the Wootton Report of 1968:

"The long term consumption of cannabis in moderate doses has no harmful effects (…) Cannabis is less dangerous than the opiates, amphetamines and barbiturates, and also less dangerous than alcohol. (…) An increasing number of people, mainly young, in all classes of society are experimenting with this drug, and substantial numbers use it regularly for social pleasure. There is no evidence that this activity is causing violent crime, or is producing in otherwise normal people conditions of dependence or psychosis requiring medical treatment (…) there are indications that (cannabis) may become a functional equivalent of alcohol."

Also, if cannabis were the functional equivalent of alcohol, much less violence and traffic accidents would have resulted.

Back to the article:

"It's a big step towards the prohibitionist status quo that we were in prior to the [President Barack] Obama years," Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, told Salon. "It's not a step back [in the sense that] we're not behind where we were in the 1930s, but we're moving closer to where we were in the 1930s."

I suppose this is correct, but don't know. Here is some more:

"Clearly, under the Department of Justice under the leadership of Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration at large, have many leaders who are still suffering from 'Reefer Madness' prohibitionist era rhetoric," Strekal told Salon. "Even coming out and publicly spreading things that are patently false is going to possibly curb the momentum that we have seen play out through the states and the explosion of public support that we have. Marijuana policy should not be characterized as a partisan issue, and unfortunately under a Republican administration, if they choose to make support for reform become a partisan issue, then it's going to hurt them politically."

Well, I hope so. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

What the Trump administration is doing is blatantly trying to impose the conservative social values of administration members like Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of legalization, on the rest of the country. This is not merely a step back for people who support marijuana legalization. It is also a giant step back for the concept that America is a nation of individuals making individual choices, rather than one in which Big Brother tells us which choices we should and should not make.

I would have deleted the last sentence, simply because the same holds for individuals who believe they should be free to use heroin, amphetamine etc. and these are dangerous, addictive drugs. But this is a recommended article.

5. Trump Deathwatch

This article is by C.J. Hopkins on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
The latest “Trump Deathwatch” began on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. It began in a courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, when Paul Manafort, sleazebag beltway operator and former chairman of Trump’s campaign, was pronounced guilty by a jury of his peers on ten counts of various types of fraud — tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to disclose thirty-one foreign bank accounts which he was using for the purposes of fraud. Or maybe it began in another courtroom, this one miles away in New York City, when, almost at the exact same moment, Michael Cohen, Trump’s ex-lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight unrelated charges of fraud and campaign finance violations, the latter charges stemming from “hush money” paid to two of Trump’s former bimbos.
Yes, I agree, although I think this will not be a "Deathwatch". Here is more:
Mueller, who had previously indicted thirteen Russian “cyber-influencers” who he was certain would never appear in court to laugh derisively in his face, needed to put a “win” on the board, and he needed to do it before the midterm elections. The Resistance® and the corporate media have been desperate for something juicy that they can relentlessly milk for the next ten weeks. They need the Democrats to take the House so they can pretend to try to impeach Trump, or at least subpoena a buttload of folks to appear before a series of congressional hearings that they can drag out all the way to 2020.
I agree, and incidentally do not believe in "The Resistance®", which seems at present to be mostly led by Rachel Maddow.

Here is more from the article:
The Guardian immediately went to live, moment-by-moment “Trump Deathwatch” coverage. Their opinionists started pumping out pieces proclaiming that “Trump’s reckoning has finally arrived,” and demanding he be impeached before “the cancer on his presidency” metastasizes. The New York Times Editorial Board (which is obviously getting a bit fed up with the riff-raff questioning its journalistic integrity) announced that, starting from that very moment, anyone doubting that Donald Trump is a dirty, rotten, Russian agent is a “fantasist” and a member of his “cult.” CNN began babbling about impeachment, as did the BBC, and more or less every organ of the corporate media.
I take it this is mostly quite correct. Here is the ending of this article:
Yes, the corporatist ruling classes need to make an example of Trump to dissuade any future billionaire ass clowns from running for high office without their permission, but even more so, they need to put down the “populist” opposition to the spread of global capitalism and the gradual phase-out of national sovereignty that began with Brexit and continued with Trump, so they can transform the smoldering remains of the Earth into one big happy neoliberal market run by supranational corporations and the “democratic governments” they have bought and paid for …
Yes, or more or less so. And if you haven't noticed it, this is a rather cynical article, which I think is quite justified in the situation. 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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