September 4, 2018

Crisis: Slaves Rebel, 10 Years Of Crisis, Lying About Prisoners, Ruling Class Trump, Anti-semitism


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 4, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, September 4, 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 4, 2018:
1. The Slaves Rebel
2. 10 Years Since Banks Were Bailed Out and People Were Sold Out
3. Lying With a Straight Face
4. It's Clear What Side Trump Is On: 'Not the Working Class. Just the
     Ruling Class'

5. Livingstone on antisemitism
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. The Slaves Rebel

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The only way to end slavery is to stop being a slave. Hundreds of men and women in prisons in some 17 states are refusing to carry out prison labor, conducting hunger strikes or boycotting for-profit commissaries in an effort to abolish the last redoubt of legalized slavery in America. The strikers are demanding to be paid the minimum wage, the right to vote, decent living conditions, educational and vocational training and an end to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

These men and women know that the courts will not help them. They know the politicians, bought by the corporations that make billions in profits from the prison system, will not help them. And they know that the mainstream press, unwilling to offend major advertisers, will ignore them.

Yes, this is all quite correct to the best of my knowledge, except for the first statement: If you are enchained, you may want many things, but unless you can get rid of your chains and somehow flee, you will still be a slave.

Here is some more:

If prisoners earned the minimum wage set by federal, state or local laws, the costs of the world’s largest prison system would be unsustainable. The prison population would have to be dramatically reduced. Work stoppages are the only prison reform method that has any chance of success. Demonstrations of public support, especially near prisons where strikes are underway, along with supporting the prisoners who have formed Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, which began the nationwide protest, are vital. Prison authorities seek to mute the voices of these incarcerated protesters. They seek to hide the horrific conditions inside prisons from public view.

Yes indeed - and while I never as much as visited either a Dutch jail or an American jail (unlike Chris Hedges, indeed), I am quite certain that the Dutch system of arrest, conviction and punish- ment is a lot milder than the American one, both in methods of punishment and in the length of imprisonments.

Then there is this:

Prison authorities have innumerable ways to exact retribution, including placing strikers in solitary confinement and severing communication with the outside world. They can take away the few privileges and freedoms, including the limited freedom of movement, yard time, phone privileges and educational programs, that prisoners have. This makes the defiance all the more heroic. These men and women cannot go elsewhere. They cannot remain anonymous. Retribution is certain. Yet they have risen up anyway.

I think that is correct. Here is more:

Private corporations exploit prison labor in at least 40 states. In some cases these workers are paid next to nothing. They have no benefits, including Social Security participation, and cannot form unions or organize. They are not paid for sick days. And if they complain or are seen as troublesome they are placed in solitary confinement, often for months.

Yes, and here is Dostoevsky, who was quite right:

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Prisons expose how far a state will go to exploit and abuse its most vulnerable. Life in the American prison system is a window into the corporate tyranny that will be inflicted on all of us once we are stripped of the power to resist. The poorest families in the country are forced to pay an array of predatory fees to sustain incarcerated relatives. This is especially cruel to those children whose only contact with an incarcerated parent is through phone service that costs four or five times what it does on the outside. Prison life is one of daily humiliation and abuse. It entails beatings, torture, rape—especially for female prisoners who are preyed upon by prison staff—prolonged isolation, rancid food, inadequate heating and ventilation, substandard or nonexistent health care and being locked in a cage for days at a time, especially in supermax prisons.

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

Since 1970 our prison population has grown by about 700 percent. We have invested $300 billion in prisons since 1980. The prison-industrial complex mirrors the military-industrial complex. The money is public; the profits are private. Those who enrich themselves off the incarcerated are morally no different from those who enriched themselves from the slave trade.

And I agree with this as well, and I have a simple question with a simple answer: How come that "Since 1970 our prison population has grown by about 700 percent"? That is, seven times as much as before? Answer: Because of the profits made by the "prison-industrial complex". And this is a strongly recommended article.
2. 10 Years Since Banks Were Bailed Out and People Were Sold Out

This article is by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Ten years ago, there was panic in Washington, D.C., New York City and financial centers around the world as the United States was in the midst of an economic collapse. The crash became the focus of the presidential campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain and was followed by protests that created a popular movement, which continues to this day.
Well... yes and no, I'd say, for I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008; have nearly always started the titles of my writings - over 2000 files now - about the crisis by "Crisis"; have been reading 35 dailies or weeklies since 10 years; and yet met absolutely no one who wrote about the crisis like I did, namely starting one's files by "Crisis".

Yet Zeese and Flowers are quite correct it has been a crisis the last 10 years. Here is some more about the crisis that has been active for 10 years for everyone in the USA who did not belong to the 10% who earned the most (for indeed for them the crisis was over around 2010, but not for the rest):

By September 2008, McCain and Obama met with President George W. Bush and together they called for a $700 billion bailout of the banks, not the people. Obama and McCain issued a joint statement that called the bank bailout plan “flawed,” but said, “the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.” Obama expressed “outrage” at the “crisis,” which was “a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years.”

By October 2008, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), or bank bailout, had recapitalized the banks, the Treasury had stabilized money market mutual funds and the FDIC had guaranteed the bank debts. The Federal Reserve began flowing money to banks, which would ultimately total almost twice the $16 trillion claimed in a federal audit. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that the Federal Reserve gave over $29 trillion to the banks.

This did not stop the loss of 9 million jobsmore than 4 million foreclosures and the deep reduction in wealth among the poor, working and middle classes. A complete banking collapse was averted, but a deep recession for most people was not.

Quite so. Here is how the schema of extremely widespread corruption and fraud was implemented:

Wall Street executives were not prosecuted even though the financial crisis was in large part caused by their fraud. Bankers were given fines costing dimes on the dollar without being required to admit guilt or having their cases referred for prosecution. The fines were paid by shareholders, not the perpetrators.

Precisely. Here is more:

Many of the root causes of the crisis remain today, making another economic downturn or collapse possible. The New Yorker reports that little has changed since 2008, with Wall Street banks returning to risky behavior and the inadequate regulation of Dodd-Frank being weakened. Big finance is more concentrated and dominant than it was before the crash. Inequality and debt have expanded, and despite the capital class getting wealthier in a record stock market with corporate profits soaring, real wages are stuck at pre-crisis levels.

Yes again. The only somewhat good thing these events promise is that there will be fairly soon another major economic crisis, which is not something I am, in itself, for, because a real and major crisis will lead to very many major problems, but this turns in a somewhat good thing because it seems the only way the Americans can get rid of the many frauds and liars who lead them.

The last bit that I quote is a bit of a contrast:

We can look to Iceland for an example of how to handle the next crisis. In 2008, they jailed the bankers, let the banks fail without taking on their debt and put controls in place to protect the economy. They recovered more quickly than other countries and with less pain.

Yes, but one should realize that Iceland is (i) a very small country (ii) an island and (iii) must have the best educated population of all countries. Anyway, this is a recommended article.

3. Lying With a Straight Face

This article is by Kevin Cooper on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

DEATH ROW, SAN QUENTIN, Calif.— “There are no innocent people on death row in California.” Those were the words of San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos when he appeared in TV commercials to urge voters to pass Proposition 66 on the November 2016 ballot to speed up executions in California.

The measure passed, but his words were not true.

Many conservative, right-wing, death-penalty-supporting politicians, law enforcement personnel and just citizens want so badly to believe this untruth. I remember when conservative right-wing columnist Debra J. Saunders (who seemed to be the lone Republican on the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper editorial pages before she left the newspaper in 2016) used to quote California Gov. Jerry Brown in many of her pro-death-penalty speeches or columns by saying, “Jerry Brown told me that there are no innocent people on death row.”

I normally leave out the locations many press reports start with, but kept it here, simply because Kevin Cooper is on death row in San Quentin.

And as to "there are no innocent people on death row": that is evident bullshit:

Any person with common sense would know that there have to be innocent people on death row and in prison, if only because this modern-day plantation and death camp is run and controlled by mere human beings who, by their very nature, make great mistakes, and some of them are also corrupt. We know for certain Ramos, Saunders, Brown and others who ever said there are no innocent people on death row in this state have been proved wrong.

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

This is an American political narrative, to lie with a straight face to achieve an objective, which, for the most part and historically speaking, is to oppress the people deemed as “the other” in this divided country—especially the poor people who fill up these modern-day plantations and its death rows. In doing so, they drown out the voices of the people who they want to either keep in prison or murder. So, when people like me in places like this scream out at the top of our lungs that we are innocent, people like Ramos, Saunders, Brown and others can put their hand on a Bible and swear in the name of God that there are no innocent people on death row, and that any death row inmates who say they are innocent are lying.

Yes, quite so. This is a recommended article. 
4. It's Clear What Side Trump Is On: 'Not the Working Class. Just the Ruling Class'

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Despite President Donald Trump's claims that he has delivered on his campaign promise, made to families at rallies across the country ahead of the 2016 election, to prioritize the needs of working Americans over the profits of billionaires like himself, workers' advocates on Labor Day railed against the president's clear loyalty to corporations and the one percent—as evidenced by his $1.5 trillion tax cut package and a number of other policies.

There is simply no question as to whose side the Trump administration is really on. Not the working class. Just the ruling class.
— Bernie Sanders
Yes indeed - and the quotation from Bernie Sanders is from a tweet of his, because I am rather sure he wrote it. (And in fact, I think "the rich" is a better term than "the ruling class", were it only because the rich may have different opinions amongst each other, whereas the ruling class at least suggests a single opinion - which tends to be nonsense. But OK.)

Here is more:
In addition to pushing the anti-worker Republican tax law which passed last year over the objections of 55 percent of Americans, Trump has presided over an economy in which real wages have fallen in the last year while repeatedly insisting that exactly the opposite is happening. The president has also celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to weaken unions in Janus vs. AFSCME and pushed steel tariffs which are expected to lead to the loss of 146,000 jobs. Just last week, Trump canceled a planned raise for federal employees and proposed rules that will hurt workers ability to save for retirement while simultaneously moving to lavish another tax benefit on the nation's richest with another $100 billion giveaway.
Quite so. Here is more:
As critics predicted, the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—heralded by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as one that would make a "big difference" for working families—has failed to change the everyday realities for the vast majority of Americans. While the law, on average, added an extra $33,000 to the coffers of the richest taxpayers, only two percent of workers reported receiving a pay increase or bonus after their corporate employers benefited enormously. 
Quite so, again. The article ends as follows:

"Trump makes his populist economic posturing a centerpiece of his stump speech (along with along with attacks on the media and race-bait dog whistles to distract and divide)," Borosage wrote. "Democrats would do well to puncture the myth and expose the lies. Despite all the posturing, this is an administration and Congress beholden to deep pocket donors and entrenched corporate interests, that is acting*- relentlessly and systematically to undermine working people."

Well... I have some problems with "Despite all the posturing, this is an administration and Congress beholden to deep pocket donors and entrenched corporate interests, that is acting relentlessly and systematically to undermine working people". And it is not that I disagree,
but that I can't see a real legal change coming, simply because I agree with quotation: What to do if the great majority of your elected officials have chosen to be corrupt?

But I leave that question to you, and this is a recommended article.

5. Livingstone on antisemitism

This article is by Philip Roddis on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
Back in April 2016, at the time of the suspension from the British Labour Party of Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, I wrote:

Thinking people can go into a tailspin of despair when confronted with the stark truth they’ve overestimated the power of reason. Yesterday self righteousness, pack instinct, unthinking emotionalism, malice and rank opportunism swept reason aside in the Labour Party.

I took the matter seriously, but not seriously enough. At the time the brouhaha seemed just one more attack – of a piece with those on bombing Syriashooting terrorists for Lauralosing Scotland for Labour, Virgin Traingate (did you spot the anachronism there?) and lamentable dress sense – on what Jonathan Cook recently and with characteristic cogency called “an old school socialist Labour Leader, whose programme threatens to loosen the 40-year stranglehold of neoliberalism on British society”.

Yes indeed, and this was the beginning of the attack om Jeremy Corbyn that he is an anti- semite. And that was in my opinion utter trash, but since there are now over 2 billion "writers" on Facebook, who read only Facebook and Google, even the most horrible trash can get popular.

Then there is this in the article:

This morning the Guardian runs a decent opinion piece by Ahmed Samih Khaladi. It’s pretty good and I don’t want to sound churlish, really I don’t. I wasn’t born with a mistrust of the Guardian, you know. I came to it slowly and with reluctance. But this is how liberal media shore up reputations for fairminded and fearless truth-seeking, committed to plurality of viewpoint. They toss a progressive bone or two when it’s affordable and when their reputations have come under particularly heavy fire.

I suppose this is correct, indeed in part because I had similar experiences with The Guardian, that as once a decent leftist-liberal daily, and by now is neither decent, nor leftist nor liberal.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, and ut begins with a quote by Khalidi:

Today Corbyn stands alone among Labour leaders for his open support of the Palestinian cause. This is a remarkable historical turnabout and one that the Palestinians should be unequivocally grateful for. The trouble is that he has singularly failed to make the case in his own defence. Under a barrage of attacks on the antisemitism issue, he has retreated and backtracked, mumbled and fumbled as if he has something to hide, thereby undermining his credibility as leader and peacemaker alike.

Note those last two sentences. Khalidi elaborates on the point I make about Corbyn being too much on the back foot. Many will see this as a personal criticism. Not me. What I see is a decent and principled man locked in by the painfully narrow limits of the ‘parliamentary road to socialism’. Somebody please help me out here, since (a) capitalism is killing us all, and (b) none of the other roads on offer have a shred of credibility.

Well... all I can say is that if you think Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-semite, you must be crazy. Or writing for one of the mainy English mainstream dailies. 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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