USA

This page collects pages on the situation in the USA. Often this is also about fighting neoliberalism which the rest of the world seems to be adopting from the US. (RSS, Search)

2019-10-26 Julian Assange

Assange in Court, by Craig Murray.

In Belmarsh he is kept in complete isolation for 23 hours a day. He is permitted 45 minutes exercise. If he has to be moved, they clear the corridors before he walks down them and they lock all cell doors to ensure he has no contact with any other prisoner outside the short and strictly supervised exercise period. There is no possible justification for this inhuman regime, used on major terrorists, being imposed on a publisher who is a remand prisoner.

This is the UK, not the US. Treatment of prisoners as only a “torture knave” (Folterknecht) would find appropriate.

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UN expert on torture sounds alarm again that Julian Assange’s life may be at risk.

The Special Rapporteur and his medical team visited the imprisoned Wikileaks founder in May and reported that he showed “all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture” and demanded immediate measures for the protection of his health and dignity.

“However, what we have seen from the UK Government is outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity,” Melzer said. “Despite the medical urgency of my appeal, and the seriousness of the alleged violations, the UK has not undertaken any measures of investigation, prevention and redress required under international law.”

– Alex Schroeder 2019-11-02 22:57 UTC

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2019-07-05 Frederick Douglass

I am reading What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? It’s a speech given in 1852 at the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Association by Frederick Douglass. It’s a long read. I recommend it.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Read it, and think about slaves back then, but of all the other victims these days, near you. Think of the refugees trying to reach Europe, and how we keep them in concentration camps; of the refugees trying to reach the United States, and how they keep them in concentration camps, how they keep children in cages made for dogs.

It is our great shame.

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Frederick Douglass episode in In Our Time.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-10-19 12:36 UTC

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2019-04-03 Social Purpose Corporation

I just read The Future of Computing and Why You Should Care by Purism, the company that made my laptop.

Interesting takeaways:

Companies must exploit their users for every dollar or they might face charges from their shareholders. Uuugh!

All corporations, including all Big Tech giants, have a single goal: Maximize Shareholder Value. That’s it. That’s the only goal. But it’s not just a goal. Under eBay v. Newman, a lawsuit setting legal precedent stating: “The law makes it literally malfeasance for a corporation not to do everything it legally can to maximize its profits.”

And we need to work against this by creating more rules.

All future government regulation will be influenced, funded, and lobbied by Big Tech.

So yes, I’m interested in this social purpose corporation future. Or more cooperatives, actually. But these days, the simple fact that a company is allowed “to prioritize social objectives over fiduciary duties” is already revolutionary, I guess.

(Also, from an environmental perspective, I should have bought an old, refurbished laptop, not a new and shiny one!)

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2019-02-13 Nate White on Trump

I saw this quoted and shared on Google+, and all over the net once I went looking. As seen on Quora, someone asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?” Nate White wrote:

“A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, ... no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness. There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul. And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ’Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

  • Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
  • You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish: ’My God… what… have… I… created?’

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

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Comments on 2019-02-13 Nate White on Trump

Never have I ever read a description of this monster so articulately written with such profoundness. Awesome! Thank you!

– Lavern 2019-02-15 15:34 UTC


Yeah, thank you, Nate White.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-02-15 20:38 UTC


Brilliantly said - What most of Americans think but not many can articulate as clearly - Thanks so much for describing this wanna-be-human as he truly is, a total disaster,without heart or soul or concern for anyone but himself

– Elizabeth Daskarolis 2019-02-16 18:49 UTC


At this point most Americans care about the economy (specifically jobs) and the end to constant wars in the middle east. Trump might be everything said in this post but he’s moving in the right direction on both issues that matter to most people in the USA right now and we have enough perspective to know this isn’t a until death do you part marriage, he’ll be gone when his term(s) are over.

– Ruprecht 2019-04-19 20:08 UTC

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2018-12-20 Lies

🔥 Mark Zuckerberg did everything in his power to avoid Facebook becoming the next MySpace – but forgot one crucial detail…: they are on fire! The subtitle for this article: «No one likes a lying asshole.» And it goes on from there: «For some reason, in an era where the defining characteristic of the President of the United States is that he lies with impunity, it feels as though everyone has started policing the use of the word “lie” with uncommon zeal. But it is not some holy relic, it is a word, and it has a definition.» See Wiktionary.

Maybe something that goes back to the link collection about Trump.

Let’s not forget the definition of impunity: «Exemption from punishment.» See Wiktionary.

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2018-10-02 Paper Ballot, Please

The very long article The Crisis of Election Security in the New York Times is just a very long “please don’t introduce electronic voting” for me. In Switzerland, we have an initiative coming up where people try to stop this terrible blight on democracy.

Paper is best!

Paper is not without issues, of course. A systematic approach to study electoral fraud by Lucas Leemann and Daniel Bochsler investigates ways to cheat and uses Switzerland as an example!

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2016-05-26 Proletariat, Precariat, Unnecessariat

The best explanation for the rise of Trump: Unnecessariat.

The Unnecessariat is not like the Proletariat of old, the people who worked hard, nor the Precariat, the people who feared for their jobs but worked. The Unnecessariat are the rest of us. No job, no hope, no future. I remember seeing the first glimpse of that as I watched the movie Winter's Bones (2010). White trash and Meth.

I also like the long arc the Unnecessariat story takes. Gay men dying of AIDS. The economy is not coming back. You can practically hear Bruce Springsteen singing about the post-industrial landscape. Politics for the rich. New tech gadgets for the rich. Tesla! Mars! iPad! For the rich… The rest are simply – unnecessary. No matter who they vote for. But if they vote Trump, at least we'll all go down in flames.

Hello, Hofer, Petry, Le Pen, Orbán. Blocher.

So much posting today. I am alone at home, with a cold. It’s sad, really.

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Comments on 2016-05-26 Proletariat, Precariat, Unnecessariat

Erkältet? Aber nicht alleine! lese jeden Satz und denke ähnlich.

Chris 2016-05-28 12:54 UTC

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2016-03-14 Crypto Wars

I’m sorry, another link post. If you’re a regular reader, you might wonder what this is. A bookmark? In way, yes. I find that I regularly search my blog for stuff I only half remember. I’ve used Google Bookmarks in the past to save links, but as it turns out, I hardly ever use it to find links. The few times I’ve tried, I failed. So now I’m trying to use the blog. And I try to update these posts with more links and summaries. 2016-02-15 With Regards from Russia has grown in recent weeks, for example.

Anyway, cryptography:

Why Are We Fighting the Crypto Wars Again? “American companies are worried that foreign customers might regard their products as direct conduits to American authorities.” Definitely! For the moment, Apple and Google are not too bad, but we think about it every time we put something on the American cloud. Dropbox? iCloud? Google Drive? We always joke about the NSA reading our stuff and nobody laughs.

Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study:

Elizabeth Stoycheff, lead researcher of the study and assistant professor at Wayne State University, is disturbed by her findings.

“So many people I’ve talked with say they don’t care about online surveillance because they don’t break any laws and don’t have anything to hide. And I find these rationales deeply troubling,” she said.

She said that participants who shared the “nothing to hide” belief, those who tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.

“The fact that the ’nothing to hide’ individuals experience a significant chilling effect speaks to how online privacy is much bigger than the mere lawfulness of one’s actions. It’s about a fundamental human right to have control over one’s self-presentation and image, in private, and now, in search histories and metadata,” she said.

I cannot stress this enough. This has happened to me, too. I avoided posting things online; I’ve had arguments with my wife regarding things I wanted to post online. She said something along the lines of “you’re simply stupid if you want to go ahead with it in times like these.” I argued that “if we’re censuring ourselves then there’s no point in fighting for our rights – the bad guys have already won!”

But then again, you learn how to control yourselves when talking to border police and other people of authority. The stakes never seem high enough. Miss a flight? Surely you jest. Is this Facebook post really necessary? Of course not. And thus, quietly, our world changes.

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2016-03-08 Sanders

Why do so many people from Europe want Bernie Sanders to be the President of the United States? An answer on Quora by Ian Jackson, @grownmangrumble.

How Fox News and the Right-Wing Media Machine Made My Dad Crazy, by Jen Senko.

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2015-11-16 Middle East

I haven’t written much about politics in years. I just read the newspaper and cringe. Sometimes I feel like I should “share” links – but with whom? Nobody on Facebook seems interested because it’s friends and family and coworkers and students from many years ago. Nobody on Google+ seems interested because most of the people I know there are there for the gaming with the exception of a small number of information sources, in other words, information just flows in one direction. Nobody on Twitter seems interested because I’m mostly following journalists and politicians and when I finally realized this, I figured there was no point in sharing anything because they don’t read what I’m sharing. Information just flows in one direction.

Luckily for me – unluckily for you, perhaps :) – this blog not only serves as a platform to share information, it also serves as my externalized memory. Which is why I’m trying to push myself to post interesting links here instead of on so-called “social” media – gated communities that will one day be replaced by something else, taking all the information down with them.

I really need to find links to sources outside of Google+ since the inevitable sunsetting of G+ will drag down all those links as well.

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Hi Alex,

I am interested in politics and welcome such posts, for one. By the way, I just read an article in The Guardian that you might find interesting, Mindless terrorists? The truth about Isis is much worse by Scott Atran.

Cheers

– Enzo 2015-11-16 11:33 UTC


An interesting read! I hadn’t heard of Management of Savagery. Definitely something to remember for the next war, when we’re ready to bomb a foreign country. Wikipedia mentions “the value of provoking military responses from superpowers in order to recruit and train guerilla fighters” and I’m thinking this is the strategy all revolutions have been following since the French revolution. Expose the hypocrisy of the ruling elite by provoking them into acts of violence and use this to radicalize and recruit.

Yikes! I just googled for these keywords (expose radicalize recruit revolution) and stumbled upon Selected Literature on (i) Radicalization and Recruitment, (ii) De-Radicalization and Dis-Engagement, and (iii) Counter-Radicalization and Countering Violent Extremism. Using the same keywords and adding a country quickly leads to articles explaining this phenomenon and the dynamic of revolutionary movements. In my case, I just read The making of the Russian Revolution.

Sadly, I have no answers.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-11-16 12:18 UTC

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