from September 24, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
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.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from September 24, 2018:
1. Trump’s China Fight Puts U.S. Tech in the Cross Hairs
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:
2. Just Don’t Call It Privacy
3. Stop Brexit? U.K. Labour Party to Debate New Vote
4. Why I’m Betting on Millennials, this November 6th
5. Trump’s New (Non-Democratic) Normal
China Fight Puts U.S. Tech in the Cross Hairs
This article is by
Cecilia Kang on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
President Trump says
his trade war with China will protect America’s dominance and derail
Beijing’s plan for technological and economic supremacy.
as the fight kicks into high gear this week, American tech and telecom
companies are warning that the industry’s growing reliance on products
made and assembled in China means they are more likely to be
casualties, not victors, in the skirmish.
Trump’s next round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods
goes into effect on Monday, hitting thousands of consumer products from
handbags to refrigerators to bicycles. The tariffs will also hit the
tech and telecom companies that provide much of the gear that powers
the internet, mobile networks, data storage and other technology.
United States customs will begin collecting a tax on circuit boards,
semiconductors, cell tower radios, modems and other products made and
assembled in China and exported into America.
tariffs, Intel warned in a letter last month, are “a game changer for
the American consumer.” The tariffs begin at a rate of 10 percent and
increase to 25 percent next January.
Yes, indeed. And here is some of the background:
American automakers and other manufacturers, the tech sector has
increasingly outsourced production to China, where manufacturing and
assembly of products is cheaper than in the United States. In recent
decades, Intel, Dell, and Apple began shifting manufacturing overseas
to take advantage of lower labor costs and align operations closer to
customers in emerging markets.
for instance, designs and manufactures most semiconductors in the
United States but relies on Chinese facilities for assembly of their
chips, which will now be taxed. Moving those manufacturing and assembly
operations outside of China is unrealistic, the company has warned,
saying “it is too expensive to relocate established and integrated
In fact, this "outsourcing of production to China",
that also may be termed the intentional destruction of production
in the USA, has been the result of nearly 40 years of
I think the last link is still one of the best
explanations I know. I also think that Trump's fight with China is stupid,
but I will not argue that here and now. And this article is recommended.
Don’t Call It Privacy
This article is by
Natasha Singer on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Well... yes and no. That
is, I think Singer is quite right that more is involved
than "privacy", and in fact I think a much better term is
"surveillance" - but then again (having read more than five years of 35
sites addressed to politics and the internet) I fear either term is not
properly understood by the vast majority of
computer users. And that
is the basic problem.
Here is more Singer:
just one flaw with this setup.
a surveillance economy where companies track, analyze and capitalize on
our clicks, the issue at hand isn’t privacy. The problem is unfettered
data exploitation and its potential deleterious consequences — among
them, unequal consumer treatment, financial fraud, identity theft,
manipulative marketing and discrimination.
other words, asking companies whose business models revolve around
exploiting data-based consumer-influence techniques to explain their
privacy policies seems about as useful as asking sharks to hold forth
should not be examining privacy policies,” Marc Rotenberg, the
executive director of the Electronic Privacy
Information Center, a prominent digital rights nonprofit, told me
last week. “They should be examining business practices. They should be
examining how these firms collect and use the personal data of
customers, of internet users.”
Yes, I think that is basically correct, but one
underlying point is that it is not just firms that abuse the
total surveillance of everyone anywhere with an internet computer:
The whole schema of total
surveillance of everyone by "private computing" has been set up in
the late Sixties and early Seventies by American security, that
is by the government's secret spies. They wanted to see and store everything
anyone did by an internet computer, and did everything to get there,
and they fully succeeded.
And I think that what I said in the previous paragraph
are - by now - simple facts. Here is
the last bit of Singer that I quote:
consumers know that digital services and ad tech companies track and
analyze their activities. And they accept, or are at least resigned to,
data-mining in exchange for conveniences like customized newsfeeds and
revelations about Russian election interference and Cambridge Analytica, the voter-profiling company that
obtained information on millions of Facebook users, have made it clear
that data-driven influence campaigns can scale quickly and cause
that leads to a larger question: Do we want a future in which companies
can freely parse the photos we posted last year, or the location data
from the fitness apps we used last week, to infer whether we are
stressed or depressed or financially strapped or emotionally vulnerable
— and take advantage of that?
The facts seem to be these: At most 1 in 50 of all computer users has a
somewhat decent comprehension of what computers are, what they can do,
and how to program them, but the vast majority "decided" or
"accepted" or "resigned to" the fact that the security forces,
indeed like the advertising firm Facebook and others, can and do get
absolutely everything almost anyone makes by an internet computer.
Also, while I definitely am a computer user who does NOT want at all "a future in which companies can freely parse
the photos we posted last year, or the location data from the fitness
apps we used last week, to infer whether we are stressed or depressed
or financially strapped or emotionally vulnerable — and take advantage
of that", the vast majority just does not seem to
And in the end that is why I am extremely pessimistic about the
internet and computing:
Personal computing has been
set up so as to give the governmental spies
of all nations plus the rich to find out everything about anyone,
and this is itself a very strong ground to believe neofascism is
around the corner and also will be unbeatable.
Brexit? U.K. Labour Party to Debate New Vote
article is by Jill Lawless on Truthdig and originally on The Associated
Press. It starts as follows:
opposition Labour Party confirmed Sunday that it will hold a major
debate on Brexit at its party conference this week, raising hopes among
Labour members hoping to stop the country from leaving the European
With the U.K. and the
European Union at an impasse in divorce talks, many Labour members
think the left-of-center party has the power—and a duty—to force a new
referendum that could reverse Britain’s decision to leave the 28-nation
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
has long opposed that idea, but he and other party leaders are under
pressure to change their minds. As delegates gathered in Liverpool, one
message was emblazoned on hundreds of T-shirts and tote bags: “Love
Corbyn, Hate Brexit.”
In fact, I am against
Britain's leaving the European Union (and I lived for a while in
England in the early Seventies, before it entered, but yes: that is
long ago) but my own arguments may be mostly personal: (1) I very
strongly despise the demagogue and pro-Brexiteer Nigel Farage,
and (2) it is my guess that Britain will rapidly get a lot poorer
if they Brexit (but other than a series of journalistic articles I
have no strong economical facts to support this).
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Corbyn — a veteran
socialist who views the EU with suspicion — has long been against
holding a second public vote on Brexit, although his opposition appears
to be softening.
He said Sunday that he
would prefer a general election rather than a referendum, but added:
“Let’s see what comes out of conference.”
“Obviously I’m bound by the
democracy of our party,” Corbyn told the BBC.
Still, Labour faces a major
political dilemma over Brexit. Most of the party’s half a million
members voted in 2016 to remain in the EU, but many of its 257
lawmakers represent areas that supported Brexit.
In fact, I do not
see the validity of the last argument: if the "257 lawmakers" support
Brexit, they are against the majority in their own party. And
this is a recommended article.
I’m Betting on Millennials, this November 6th
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as
Yes, but it is also well
to remind the reader of the facts that (i) Trump became president
through the electoral college with around 60 million votes, (ii)
defeating Hillary Clintom who had around 62 million votes, while (iii)
around 100 million Americans with voting rights did not vote -
which is to say that around 45% of all American voters did not
vote in the last presidential election (which also means that while 45%
of all voters did not vote, no less than 84% of the
voters between 18 and 29 who did not vote).
Millennials (and their
siblings, generation Z’s) are the largest, most diverse and progressive
potential voters in American history, comprising fully 30 percent of
On November 6th, they’ll
power to alter the course of American politics – flipping Congress,
the leadership of states and cities, making lawmakers act and look more
the people who are literally the nation’s future.
But will they vote?
In the last midterm
2014, only 16 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29
In midterms over the last two
decades, turnout by young people has averaged
points below the turnout rate of people 60 and older.
And I think that these proportions are more important than
concentrating on the eligible voters that are between 18 and 29: Almost
half of the American population did not vote in the last
presidential elections; almost 85% of those between 18 and 29
did not vote.
Here is a bit of explanation by Reich:
Also, unlike their grand
boomers who were involved in civil rights, voting rights, women’s
anti-Vietnam War movement – most young people today don’t remember a
political action changed America for the better.
They’re more likely to
political failures and scandals – George W. Bush lying about Saddam
weapons of mass destruction; Bill Clinton lying about Monica; both
bailing out Wall Street without so much as a single executive going to
even recall when American democracy worked well. They don’t recall the
Cold War, when democracy as an ideal worth
fighting for. The Berlin Wall came down before they were born.
That seems correct - but it
does not increase my belief that a considerably higher
proportion of the 18 to 29 year olds will vote in 2018 or 2020.
There is considerably more in
the article, which ends as follows:
Mine is not and my
arguments are above. And in any case, it seems wiser to try -
somehow - to get more of the 100 million non-voters to vote.
As doubtful as these young
people are about politics, or the differences between the two parties,
also know that Trump and his Republican enablers want to take the
backwards to an old, white, privileged, isolated America. Most of
In my thirty-five years of
college students, I’ve not encountered a generation as dedicated to
nation better as this one.
So my betting is on them,
New (Non-Democratic) Normal
article is by John Feffer on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:
During a lifetime of
make-believe, Donald Trump has neve7r pretended to be a conventional
politician. When he finally decided to make a serious bid for office,
his presidential aspirations on the flimsiest of foundations: a wild
conspiracy theory about Barack Obama’s birthplace. His leadership bona
fides were equally laughable, having presided over bankrupt
casinos and failed real-estate
projects, fabricated the persona of a lady-killer, and created a
reality TV show about a tin-pot entrepreneur.
Well... this is more or
less correct, but I disagree with the assertion that "[i]n the 2016 presidential election, the
guardrails of democracy collapsed": The guardrails of democracy in
the USA have been weakened for almost 40 years now (at least).
And then, of course, he won.
In the 2016 presidential election, the guardrails of democracy
collapsed. The Electoral College, designed to weed out all those with
what Alexander Hamilton had once called
“talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity,” delivered
a victory to a candidate who had talents for little else.
And in fact Feffer agrees. First there is this:
Forget Donald Trump
for a second and just think to yourself: Who’s responsible for the last
17 years of never-ending American wars that have convulsed the planet?
Babies? Teenagers? Grown men acting like babies? Let’s face it:
perfectly sober adults, including the man who left ExxonMobil to become
secretary of state, have long seemed intent on ensuring the flooding,
burning, and general destruction of this planet. And don’t forget that
the adults in the Republican Party, backed by their deep-pocket
funders, were responsible for getting Donald Trump over the hump and
into the Oval Office. Ultimately they, and not the policy-ignorant
president, are to blame for the devastation that followed.
And then there is this:
The truth is: those
guardrails of democracy were faulty long before Trump came along and
some of the adults in the room are scarier than the squalling infant.
Such metaphors, in fact, make it increasingly difficult to see what
Trump and his babysitters are really doing: not just destroying a
culture of civility or undoing the accomplishments of the Obama
administration but attacking the very pillars of democracy.
I more or less agree
(but then: why did Feffer assert the contrary in the beginning
of this article?).
Here are two facts about
"American democracy" that are quite true (and these also explain my
quotes around "American
Many democratic countries
wouldn’t tolerate the way the rich and corporations call the shots in
American elections. To win a House seat, for example, now costs,
on average, $1.5 million; a Senate seat, nearly $20 million. By
contrast, in Canada, where neither corporations nor unions can make
campaign contributions and individuals are
restricted to a very modest $1,500 cap on party donations, a
typical campaign for parliament costs
in the tens of thousands of dollars and nearly half of the biggest
In 2010, the situation in
the United States became incomparably worse when the Supreme Court
decided, in the Citizens United case, that campaign
contributions are constitutionally protected free speech. Super PACs
can now spend unlimited amounts of money on elections, giving rich
impact and a way to cover their tracks through “dark money”
contributions. Former president Jimmy Carter has accurately labeled
that decision “legalized bribery.”
Quite so. There is a lot more
in this recommended article.