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Nederlog

August 16, 2018

Crisis: Security Clearances, Separating Families, On Austerity, Warren's Plan, Affordable Care



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 16, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 16, 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 16, 2018:
1. Trump Yanks Ex-CIA Chief's Clearance, Hitting Vocal Critic
2. Deported Parents Say Trump Administration Is Still Separating Families
     at Border

3. The Evidence Is In, and Austerity Is Declared a Loser
4. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Bold New Legislation to Curb Corporate Greed
5. Hold Them Accountable For Undermining The Affordable Care Act
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. Trump Yanks Ex-CIA Chief's Clearance, Hitting Vocal Critic

This article is by Jill Colvin on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
President Trump abruptly revoked the security clearance of ex-CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday, an unprecedented act of retribution against a vocally critical former top U.S. official.

Trump also threatened to yank the clearances of a handful of individuals, including former top intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as a current member of the Justice Department. All are critics of the president or are people whom Trump appears to believe are against him.

Trump in a statement denounced Brennan’s criticism and spoke anxiously of “the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.” The president described his own action as fulfilling his “constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information.”

However, Democratic members of Congress said it smacked of an “enemies list” among fellow Americans and the behavior of leaders in “dictatorships, not democracies.” Brennan, in a phone interview with MSNBC, called the move an “abuse of power by Mr. Trump.”

I say, and do so because I did not know Brennanīs security clearance has been revoked. Then again, I should add that I neither like nor trust Trump or Brennan.

Here is some more:

Trump’s action, critics and nonpartisan experts said, marked an unprecedented politicization of the federal government’s security clearance process. It also was a clear escalation in Trump’s battle with members of the U.S. intelligence community as the investigation into Russia election meddling and possible collusion and obstruction of justice continues.

This is true, but I think I should add that I neither believe in Trump nor in Russian election meddling, at least as this has been pushed by Brennan, Mueller and others.

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

Brennan has indeed been deeply critical of Trump’s conduct, calling his performance at a press conference last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland “nothing short of treasonous.”

Brennan continued that criticism on Wednesday. “I’ve seen this type of behavior and actions on the part of foreign tyrants and despots and autocrats for many, many years during my CIA and national security career. I never, ever thought that I would see it here in the United States,” he said.

Yes. Then again, in fact I have no idea what revoking the security clearance does mean, and it also is not explained in this article.

2. Deported Parents Say Trump Administration Is Still Separating Families at Border

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Nearly three weeks after the court-imposed deadline for reuniting families forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration has admitted that 559 children remain in government custody. More than 360 of these children are separated from parents who have been deported by the U.S. government. Most of the families separated at the border were seeking asylum from violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Instead, the parents were charged in federal court with a crime for illegally crossing the border, then held in jail and detention. The children, some still breastfeeding, were sent to shelters around the country. Judge Dana Sabraw, who ruled the Trump administration must reunite all separated families, said, “For every parent who is not located, there will be a permanent orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.” For more, we speak with John Carlos Frey, award-winning investigative reporter with The Marshall Project and special correspondent with ”PBS NewsHour.” He is recently back from reporting trips in Guatemala and Nogales, Mexico, where he spoke with asylum seekers waiting for days and even weeks to enter the United States.
Yes, but I should add something that I have thought since I first knew of this, and that is that Trump's government kidnapped around 3000 children from their parents.

And in case you doubt this, here is the beginning of Wikipedia's lemma on kidnapping:

Kidnapping: In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against their will. Thus, it is a composite crime. It can also be defined as false imprisonment by means of abduction, both of which are separate crimes that when committed simultaneously upon the same person merge as the single crime of kidnapping. The asportation/abduction element is typically but not necessarily conducted by means of force or fear.
I see no reason whatsoever not to insist that (i) Trump's government kidnapped around 3000 children (some extremely young), and that (ii) it still keeps over 550 of these kidnapped children somewhere imprisoned.

Also, I do not see any reason why judge Sabraw does not use the term "kidnapping".

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: (...) The Trump administration has argued the ACLU—not the government—should use its network of advocacy groups and information from the government to locate the parents that the government removed to foreign countries. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in response, “The government appears to be taking the remarkable position that it is the job of private entities to find these parents, and it can largely sit back and wait for us to tell them when we find people,” Gelernt said.

Most of the families separated at the border were seeking asylum from violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Instead, the parents were charged in federal court with a crime for illegally crossing the border, then held in jail and detention. The children, some still breastfeeding, were sent to shelters around the country.
    (..)
Judge Dana Sabraw, who issued the executive order demanding the Trump administration reunite all separated families, said, “For every parent who is not located, there will be a permanent orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” the judge wrote.

But why does Sabraw not use the term "kidnapping"?!

Here is some more on the background of those who did seek asylum in the USA, in answer to which Trump's government kidnapped their children and often returned their parents to the countries they were fleeing from:

JOHN CARLOS FREY: (..) I found asylum seekers who are waiting in line to make a claim of asylum. These are individuals who have fled their home countries because of violence, domestic violence, gang violence. They have every right to make a claim of asylum, and the Trump administration has decided to put a kibosh on it. People are having to wait in extended lines, up to two weeks, at the U.S.-Mexico border, just to make a claim of asylum. This is further endangering their lives. They’re in a foreign country. They usually don’t have any money. They don’t have a home. They don’t have a place to sleep. Many of these individuals are there with their children. And having to wait two weeks in some sort of a fictitious line just to make a claim of asylum is caused by the Trump administration’s restrictions on asylum seekers.

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

AMY GOODMAN: They didn’t even realize their children were being taken from them, some told they were being given a bath. We thought there were 2,500, then the government changed it one day and said, “OK, you can say 3,000,” or they said nearly 3,000. And now they say 559 kids haven’t been reunited with their parents. Where are the kids? Where are the parents?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Well, if we all knew where the kids were and where the parents were, they would be reunited. This is a debacle. This is poor management at the very least. This is an inhumane practice of not being able to match children with their parents. In many cases, records were not kept or taken, something simple like a cheek swab for a DNA sample so that there could be an accurate match—excuse me—especially if you’re trying to match children who may be too young to talk, who may be too young to identify their family members—that is a possibility, as well. There is evidence to prove that in 26 cases with parents, that the government didn’t take any information at all; they just took the kids from 26 parents without taking names, without taking any form of identification or any way of even matching them. There’s also evidence to show that at least five children remain nameless, without any sort of identification on them. So these children, we don’t even know who they are, whose parents they are.
So Trump's government kidnapped 3000 children, and it also destroyed or did not take in many cases any identification of the children or the parents, and is still kidnapping 559 children. And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. The Evidence Is In, and Austerity Is Declared a Loser

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

In 2014, Portugal stood on the brink. Its economy had collapsed amid Europe’s debt crisis, and unemployment had doubled. As part of a bailout program with the International Monetary Fund, which had lent the country 78 billion euros ($90 billion) in 2011, its government imposed drastic cuts to wages, pensions and social security.

But then something remarkable happened. Rather than bow to the demands of its European debtors, the Portuguese government elected to reinvest in its public sector, restoring salaries and benefits to their pre-crisis levels. Four years later, the results speak for themselves.

“The government’s U-turn, and willingness to spend, had a powerful effect,” writes The New York Times’ Liz Alderman. “Creditors railed against the move, but the gloom that had gripped the nation through years of belt-tightening began to lift. Business confidence rebounded. Production and exports began to take off.”

Its recovery remains fragile, with unions lobbying for more public spending to reduce inequality. Still, Portugal’s reversal of fortune would appear to confirm what the 2008 financial crisis made abundantly clear: Austerity—the process of reducing government deficits through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts—is not just a failure on a human level but a policy level as well.
Yes, I entirely agree. Then again, I think I should add that I never believed in neoliberalism or neofascism (which is what it often though not always comes down to). But this is indeed a confirmation that Keynesianism (which is neither neoliberal nor neofascist, although it is pro- capitalist) does work if it is tried.

Here is Ryan Cooper:
“The anti-Keynesian forces have been proved conclusively mistaken on every single argument,” he writes. “Their refusal to pick up what amounted to a multiple-trillion-dollar bill sitting on the sidewalk is the greatest mistake of economic policy analysis since 1929 at least.”
And here is more:
“As we have seen, the evidence for the Keynesian position is overwhelming,” Cooper concludes. “Through a combination of bad faith, motivated reasoning, and sheer incompetence, austerians have directly created the problem their entire program was supposed to avoid. Good riddance.”
In fact, I believe the austerians were worse: Their arguments mainly came down to further enrich the rich. Also, unfortunately a single article does not get rid of the austerians (= neoliberals), but this is a recommended article.
4. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Bold New Legislation to Curb Corporate Greed

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

Taking aim at the heart of America’s toxic economic status quo—which has over the past several decades produced soaring corporate profits and CEO pay while keeping workers’ wages stagnant—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would “give workers a stronger voice” in the decision-making of major businesses and put an end to corporations’ single-minded commitment to maximizing shareholder value at the expense of employees.

“Because the wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. households own 84 percent of American-held shares, the obsession with maximizing shareholder returns effectively means America’s biggest companies have dedicated themselves to making the rich even richer,” Warren noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed outlining her new measure. “For the past 30 years we have put the American stamp of approval on giant corporations, even as they have ignored the interests of all but a tiny slice of Americans. We should insist on a new deal.”

Yes indeed: I entirely agree, although I think that favoring the rich and disfavoring the poor became governmental policy with Thatcher (1979) and Reagan (1980), so it is almost 40 years old. And indeed this - favoring the rich and disfavoring the poor - has been practised all the time, with remarkable benefits for the rich, and constant set-backs for the poor.

Here is more:

Tracing what she terms the “shareholder value maximization” ideology to the work of influential right-wing economist Milton Friedman—who argued that corporations have a “social responsibility” to put profits ahead of all other objectives, including public health, worker safety, and environmental protection—Warren argues that corporate America’s unwavering prioritization of shareholder returns has produced a system in which “workers aren’t getting what they’ve earned.”

Quite so, and Warren is quite correct in mentioning Milton Friedman.

Here is what Warren's bill would achieve (although it is very unlikely of being adopted now):

To address this fundamental inequity and establish a system in which prosperity is broadly shared rather than hoarded at the very top, Warren’s bill—officially titled the Accountable Capitalism Act—would:

  • Require American corporations that bring in over a billion dollars in annual revenue to obtain a federal charter, which would force companies to “consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders,” including workers, customers, and communities;
  • Give workers the power to elect at least 40 percent of corporate board members;
  • Ban corporations from making political expenditures “without the approval of 75 percent of its directors and shareholders”; and
  • Allow the federal government to revoke a corporation’s charter if it engages in illegal behavior.

I am all for it, although I do not think it will become law until Trump has been defeated.

Here is some more:

“There’s a fundamental problem with our economy. For decades, American workers have helped create record corporate profits but have seen their wages hardly budge,” Warren said in a statement on Wednesday. “To fix this problem we need to end the harmful corporate obsession with maximizing shareholder returns at all costs, which has sucked trillions of dollars away from workers and necessary long-term investments.”

Warren’s legislation quickly won the support from a wide array of groups, including labor unions, progressive think-tanks, advocacy groups, and legal scholars (pdf).

Yes, and this is a strongly recommended article.


5. Hold Them Accountable For Undermining The Affordable Care Act

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Trump and Republicans in Congress haven’t been able to officially kill the Affordable Care Act. But they’re quietly using 5 strategies to destroy it. Know what they’re doing so you can hold them accountable on Election Day.
Yes indeed. And here are the 5 strategies Reich refers to, which I reproduce without the accompanying texts:
1. They’ve repealed the requirement that all Americans sign up for health
     insurance.
(...)

2. They’ve cut subsidies that help an estimated 6 million low-income
     Americans afford coverage through private insurers.
(...)
3. They want to flood the insurance market with junk plans. (...)
4. They’ve made it harder for people to sign up for coverage (...)
5. They’ve stopped defending key provisions of the law in court.
I think all 5 points are quite correct. Here is Reich's ending:
Don’t let Trump and his enablers hide what they are doing. When millions – including huge numbers of Trump supporters – lose the health coverage they had or their premiums go up, make sure Trump and the Republicans are held accountable.
Yes, and this is a recommended article.
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 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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