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Nederlog

June 6, 2019

Crisis: The Lobbying Tech Giants, Trump´s Insane Lies, On ¨The Law¨, Democrats vs Trump


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.






Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 6, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 6, 2019.

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 three 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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 6, 2019:
1. Tech Giants Amass a Lobbying Army
2. Trump Cries “Fake News” as 75,000 March in London
3. ‘No One is Above the Law’ (Except the U.S.A.)
4. If Democrats Can’t Win the Economic Debate, Trump Will Win in
     2020
The items 1 - 4 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. Tech Giants Amass a Lobbying Army

This article is by Cecilia Kang and Kenneth P. Vogel on The New York Times. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Faced with the growing possibility of antitrust actions and legislation to curb their power, four of the biggest technology companies are amassing an army of lobbyists as they prepare for what could be an epic fight over their futures.

Initially slow to develop a presence in Washington, the tech giants — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — have rapidly built themselves into some of the largest players in the influence and access industry as they confront threats from the Trump administration and both parties on Capitol Hill.

The four companies spent a combined $55 million on lobbying last year, doubling their combined spending of $27.4 million in 2016, and some are spending at a higher rate so far this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying and political contributions. That puts them on a par with long-established lobbying powerhouses like the defense, automobile and banking industries.

Well... for me Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are criminal neofascist corporations that dominate the internet because they have attempted to get all private information about absolutely anyone with an internet computer, and largely succeeded - indeed perhaps wholly, for who knows what these neofascist corporations know.

Then again, I also know this is what I think, and I know that my opinions, that fairly may be called the opinions of a brilliant person with a great amount of relevant knowledge, are both unknown and largely unwanted by the average person on the internet, who never went to university, have an IQ of maximally 115, nearly all publish as aliases, and have hardly any adequate idea about computing, or indeed almost all other things.

So I suppose these neofascist corporations will very probably win. Here is how they do it:

As they have tracked increasing public and political discontent with their size, power, handling of user data and role in elections, the four companies have intensified their efforts to lure lobbyists with strong connections to the White House, the regulatory agencies, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Of the 238 people registered to lobby for the four companies in the first three months of this year — both in-house employees and those on contract from lobbying and law firms — about 75 percent formerly served in the government or on political campaigns, according to an analysis of lobbying and employment records.

Quite so. Here is some more:

Earlier this week, the threat of government action became more real, driving down their stock prices. The House Judiciary Committee announced a broad antitrust investigation into big tech. And the two top federal antitrust agencies agreed to divide oversight over Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google as they explore whether the companies have abused their market power to harm competition and consumers.

“Unwarranted, concentrated economic power in the hands of a few is dangerous to democracy — especially when digital platforms control content,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted after the Judiciary Committee announced its investigation. “The era of self-regulation is over.”

I think that if you believe Pelosi you either are a saint or an idiot, and indeed she definitely totally lied when she said that “The era of self-regulation is over”.

There is in fact a lot more on various aspects that relate to lobbying and the tech giants, that I all skip and leave to your interests.

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

“We have seen these tech companies escape accountability for years,” said Lisa Gilbert, the vice president of legislative affairs for the government watchdog group Public Citizen. The group, which has called for more user data protections and for breaking up Facebook, published a study last month showing that in the last two decades, 59 percent of top Federal Trade Commission officials who left the agency entered financial relationships with technology interests regulated by it.

Quite so - but this shows (I think) the likely outcome of the lobbyists for the neofascistic tech giants: I am sorry to say that I think it is likely they will win. And this is a recommended article.


2. Trump Cries “Fake News” as 75,000 March in London

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now. I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

President Trump met with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday to discuss Brexit and a future trade deal, while protests rocked London. In a wide-ranging press conference, Trump laid out plans for a post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom, saying that the U.S. should have access to all sectors of the British economy, including the National Health Service. Trump later walked back his comments after they sparked outrage. Trump’s state visit comes just days before May is scheduled to resign her post on Friday after repeated failed attempts to strike a Brexit deal. Thousands took to the streets of London to protest Trump’s visit—a fact that Trump denied on Tuesday, calling the demonstrations “fake news.” We speak with Cambridge professor Priya Gopal, who says Trump’s claim about the protests is “an outright lie.”

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: Among those who may replace Prime Minister May after she leaves office Friday is far-right former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whom Trump has repeatedly praised, telling The Sun newspaper before his visit that Johnson would be an “excellent” choice for the next prime minister. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to Trump’s comments, saying, quote, “President Trump’s attempt to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister is an entirely unacceptable interference in our country’s democracy.” Trump said Tuesday he had turned down a request to meet with Corbyn during his state visit. Instead, Corbyn joined thousands of demonstrators in the streets to protest Trump’s state visit.

Of course, I think Corbyn is right. Here is more on Trump:

AMY GOODMAN: Trump called the protests against him “fake news.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came—very small. So a lot of it is fake news.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, the protests against the president greatly overwhelmed any well-wishers in London this week. Anti-Trump demonstrators have been flying a 20-foot-long giant baby Trump blimp to protest the president.

Quite so. Here is the first bit of Priya Gopal:

PRIYA GOPAL: (..) The discussion around the NHS is a very good example. We do know that if there is a trade deal with the United States post-Brexit, then, as Trump said, everything is up for negotiation, including the NHS. His backtracking is not to be taken seriously. What is to be taken seriously is that Brexit is precisely about breaking up and selling off parts of the United Kingdom, particularly its public services. Now, in Northern Ireland and in Scotland, and indeed in parts of England and Wales, there is going to be tremendous resistance to this. Across party lines, people value the National Health Service. And the idea that it can be broken up and sold off piecemeal to U.S. investors and privatizers, I think, genuinely does worry many people.

I think Gopal is correct, but I also think if there is a Brexit without any deal and Boris Johnson is the next British prime minister almost anything may happen, except that almost nothing of what may happen will be any good by my values.

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

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump has both expressed his support for Nigel Farage, as well as Boris Johnson. He also criticized Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who he called a “negative force.” He said, if Corbyn were to become prime minister, he may not share intelligence with him. Your response, Professor Gopal?

PRIYA GOPAL: I mean, this is clearly unacceptable. On the one hand, there is all this talk of a special relationship. And, in fact, we really need to be asking what exactly the special relationship means. But if the people who talk the talk of a special relationship are sincere—and Trump is one of the people who uses this phrase—then it seems extraordinary to say that you will not work with the elected prime minister of the United Kingdom because you don’t happen to agree with the choice that the British electorate made. So, that strikes me as extremely unprofessional and, in a sense, really out of line.

I agree and there is a lot more in this article that is strongly recommended.


3. ‘No One is Above the Law’ (Except the U.S.A.)

This article is by Greg Barns and Lisette Adam on Consortium News.
On 11 April 2019, UK Prime Minister Theresa May informed that nation’s Parliament about the arrest of Julian Assange and thanked the Ecuadorian government and Metropolitan Police for their actions and collaboration contributing to the WikiLeaks publisher’s arrest and subsequent detention. In her statement, May said: “This goes to show that, in the United Kingdom, no one is above the Law.”
    (..)
Keeping May’s statement in mind, think about the fact that in her own backyard, on May 20 we had the extraordinary spectacle of U.S. law enforcement agencies being invited by Ecuador to walk into its Embassy and steal Assange’s belongings. Four days later, the U.S. loaded up the indictment it had filed against Assange by adding seventeen additional U.S. charges including; espionage, criminal conspiracy and computer hacking.
In fact, May was lying as if she is called Trump: The laws have been broken against Assange, and have been broken knowingly by the English, and besides, if anything is clear about being ¨above the Law¨ in Great Britain, it is that the rich, the politicians, the government and the GHCQ are all almost completely above the law.
Globally, there are fundamental rights, embedded in the 1945 United Nations Charter and the 1954 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and designed to protect individuals against mistreatment by governments and non-state actors. Fundamental rights are there to protect any individual irrespective of who they are, or where they are.
Yes, I more or less agree, but if you just take a superficial glance at the United Nations Charter you will find that the Western governments that have ruled the last 40 years have forgotten nearly everything about it, although I do agree that the formal principles of it still are formally valid.

Anyway, there is this about Assange:

But in Assange’s case, fairness is an endangered species if not, completely extinct.

The Ecuadorian government completely ignored Assange’s fundamental rights in facilitating the confiscation of Assange’s personal property. Personal property including confidential documents, his legal defense strategy, medical records and electronic equipment. Assange’s seized property was subsequently handed over to the U.S.
Quite so, to the best of my knowledge. Here is more:
If Assange is extradited to the U.S. and faces a trial there, there will be no respect to procedural equality of arms as Assange will have no reasonable opportunity of presenting his case under conditions that do not disadvantage him as against other parties to the proceedings.
Yes indeed. Then there is this on the general proceedings that Western governments (and especially those of the USA, Great Britain and Sweden in this case) have been using:
Moreover, the conduct relating to the proceedings against Assange are anything but legal; it is a political witch-hunt without merit. The gathering of evidence in such an unlawful way indicates the desperation of the U.S. prosecutor to build a case against Assange. A case that has nothing to do with the Law, Assange is supposed to serve as an example; a precedent and a warning that no whistle-blower, organization or person should disclose information about U.S. intelligence, no matter how gruesome this information may be.

Worse still, the high human cost of this biased and tunnel vision persecution is ignored by the UK, the U.S. and let’s face it the country of which he is a citizen, Australia.
I agree with the above, except for ¨the desperation of the U.S. prosecutor to build a case against Assange¨, for I think a case against Assange is in fact quite easy, simply because almost all laws and all legal procedures that would protect him have been systematically been denied - successfully, also - since 2010 at the latest.

This article ends as follows:

One can wonder, why do fundamental rights exist if we allow certain countries to ignore and breach them when it suits them? Theresa May was right: no one should be above the Law. Let’s be clear: ‘No one’ should include the U.S. ’ government.
Well... I think the opening question of this bit is pretty senseless: Fundamental rights are one thing, and quite important; the breaching of them by many governments is a quite different thing, and shows that those governments which break them are above these laws. But this us a recommended article.

4. If Democrats Can’t Win the Economic Debate, Trump Will Win in 2020

This article is by C.J. Polychroniou on Truthout. It starts as follows:

Pundits and economic models predict that if nothing changes in the next two years on the economic front, Donald Trump will be re-elected in 2020 by a bigger margin than in 2016. To be sure, the economy is usually the top priority for voters heading into a presidential election, and the U.S. economy appears on paper to be doing well since Trump moved into the White House.

I think this is both pessimistic and probably correct. Here is some background:

Nonetheless, while the economy looks strong, the economic condition of most Americans is anything but rosy. And, according to a Federal Reserve’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018,” roughly 40 percent of households would not be able to cover a $400 “unexpected expense.”

At the same time, the majority of Americans think that the economic system benefits mostly the wealthy, and want to see the government do something about this situation.

Yes indeed, and I like to add that while I am very poor in Dutch terms, and indeed never in my life since age 17 earned or got as much as a minimal income (even my minimial pension is less than minimal because I lived nearly three years in Norway) I am better of than 40 percent of American households, for I can easily cover $400 dollars ¨unexptected expense¨. (I have been careful with money, but I have for 50 years earned less than almost any Dutchman not in prison.)

Next, there is this:

[W]e interviewed Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

And here is Pollin himself:

Wage stagnation has been a defining feature of economic reality under neoliberal capitalism for almost 50 years now, in the U.S. and elsewhere. The average real wage for non-supervisory workers in the U.S. was about $23 an hour in 1972. (That is the wage in 1972 expressed in today’s dollars, after adjusting for inflation). As of 2016, it was about $22 an hour, 4 percent lower. Meanwhile, average labor productivity more than doubled between 1972 and 2016. If the average wage had kept up with productivity over this 44-year period, the average worker would be earning $49 an hour today. In other words, the gains from rising productivity have flowed upward, primarily to the top 1 percent. This is the single most important factor driving the overall rise in U.S. inequality.

I say, although I think the quoted numbers may be a little high. Here is more Pollin:

Should the Democrats focus on wage stagnation as an issue? Absolutely, yes. Wage stagnation has been a major driver alienating working people who traditionally supported the Democratic Party. Trump has capitalized on this alienation by blaming immigrants for “stealing” jobs from U.S. residents. The Democrats need to explain the real reasons behind the persistence of wage stagnation and consequent rise of inequality.

Yes, I agree, but should add that the - elected - Democrats were almost as guilty of wage stagnation in the last 50 years as the elected Republicans, which leads me to infer that it is unlikely that the Democrats (in majority) will do so.

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

In my view, these features of the Green New Deal should be front and center for any Democratic Party politician, no matter what office they are seeking. Trump and his Republican acolytes are insistent climate deniers. Given what we know about the science of climate change, it is clear that we are courting ecological disaster by not advancing a viable global climate stabilization project. As such, any politician of any party or persuasion is embracing an immoral position by not supporting the most aggressive climate stabilization program possible. The Green New Deal, as I understand the program, has the greatest chance of achieving climate stabilization while also expanding job opportunities and improving mass living standards.

I agree and this is a recommended article, in which there is a lot more than I quoted.

Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 3 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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