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)

2020-11-03 The long arm of the USA

The EFF post on DMCA 1201 (”anti-circumvention”) is a pretty clear description on how politics works. The copyright maximalists failed in the US in 1995, but then they succeeded at WIPO in 1996, then the WIPO Copyright Treaty was passed in the US and presto, they’re back, and they made it! Then hundreds of other countries sign up to this shit, and often copy DMCA language because the USA pressures them to do so (better for business for sure) … and here we are, and it’s difficult to back out of international treatises.

But of course, copyright maximalists were already winning the fight when the Berne Convention was signed, which is why every single snippet written down is automatically protected by copyright. This was back in 1886! This is where we get “all works except photographic and cinematographic shall be copyrighted for at least 50 years after the author’s death” from (started because of Victor Hugo, with extended monopoly protection because of Mickey Mouse, uuuuugh).

Anyway, I like @pluralistic’s EFF post on Apollo 1201: the plan to defeat DRM everywhere. That means, fighting on all the fronts: challenge the organisations with corner cases of the law, shift the norms and narratives (talking about tractor repair and printer refills), talk about DRM code failures and security issues, shift markets away from DRM (books, music)… A multi-pronged approach is what we need. As they used to say: “viel Feind, viel Ehr!” (Georg von Frundsberg)

OK, that Georg von Frundsberg quote led me down the image search for “viel Feind viel Ehr” with lots of World War I maps and martial encouragement, and what looks like Nazi memorabilia, German newspaper headlines here and there using the phrase, and Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia. The German page has more cringe-worthy stuff in the section on reception and legacy.

Anyway, all this talk of how copyright maximalists are destroying the things we love because they want to insert themselves as middlemen between ourselves and the things we love and would rather have the whole thing crashing came down rather than compromise, and because they are often US based, and the arm of the US is long… that’s why I, a European living in Europe have to donate money to a US non-profit to fight for my rights over there.

As this is election day in the USA: I hope all you people in the USA get your act together and vote for the right person. Then fix your system and be a force for good in the world again.

I sometimes feel like just as idiots are ready to forget the evil deeds of Nazi Germany, good people are about ready to forget the good deeds of American soldiers in two World Wars. Time to do some good again.

I know, the other half isn’t going to go away. And so it has been for the longest time. I have no idea of how the USA are going to move forward but I sure hope they will, eventually. Actually, for the love of the planet and everything we hold dear, as soon as possible would be cool.

@Sandra noted that people need to kick out the GOP entirely, not just the orange pumpkin. @dredmorbius noted that for the purpose of copyright maximalists, it doesn’t matter who’s in power. In fact, the democrats seem to be even more in favor of copyright maximalism than the republicans. That’s why I think the entire system needs to be fixed.

Perhaps “hill climbing” applies to this problem as well. Slowly, invariably, the positions of the two parties start to shift. It’s always a 50:50 position but where the line is drawn in terms of the political agenda makes a difference.

Comments on 2020-11-03 The long arm of the USA

Unfortunately voting for the “right” person is impossible when left with only the desperate attempt to pick the lesser of two evils.

– test 2020-11-04 00:28 UTC


Karl Popper writes that Thucydides reported that Pericles said: even though only a few of us are able to make politics, we are still all able to judge it. To not pick the lesser evil is to make us complicit in the greater evil.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-11-04 07:54 UTC


Now I’m wondering where Thucydides said this. Perhaps it was this:

Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters

– Alex Schroeder 2020-11-04 09:11 UTC

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2020-09-29 Assange Trial

Reading the blog posts by Craig Murray on the Julian Assange trials really does show you the naked power of the state and the torture regimes of the US and the UK at work. Just the description of some of the prison practices. Here’s how Administrative Segregation, (AdSeg or X block) where high profile and national security prisoners are held, is described:

He testified that pre-trail detention could last many months or even years. Isolation from other prisoners is the purpose of the X block. Prisoners are in tiny cells of approximately 50 square feet, which is under 5 square metres. The bed is a shelf. On a daily basis only one to two hours are allowed outside the cell, into a small area outside at a time when nobody else is there. The second hour was generally available only in the middle of the night, so was not utilised.

How to rot away in a modern prison, US style.

So many things need reform. There is so much to do and it seem that the to do list keeps getting longer. I’m sure the US can clean up all their shit, once the slumbering giant awakens. For now, however, the grinding down of humans continues.

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Comments on 2020-09-29 Assange Trial

The US prison system has never been about reforming criminals; it’s always been about punishing them. The very founding of the nation rests on that fact, so I’m not sure that change is possible without fundamental reorganization of the very foundations.

~ acdw 2020-09-29 ... about 12:00 UTC ish


I don’t know. Many people say this, for sure. But the prison systems in Europe used to be pretty bad as well (and some of them still are). Europe also has a history of punishment in prisons. Apparently the reason the Swiss penal system looks so positive in comparison are recent changes, the most recent one from 2007. I therefore hope that significant reform is possible, even if the origins are terrible.

Related:

– Alex 2020-09-29 14:52 UTC


You make some great points, and maybe there is hope. I just don’t think, given the bent of national politics in America, it’s going to happen any time soon.

– Case (acdw) 2020-09-29 21:39 UTC

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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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Comments on 2019-10-26 Julian Assange

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


@micahflee writes:

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called Chelsea Manning’s imprisonment and daily fines “an open-ended, progressively severe measure of coercion fulfilling all the constitutive elements of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

– Alex Schroeder 2019-12-31 08:34 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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Comments on 2019-07-05 Frederick Douglass

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


In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2011

Oh my. So, if the USA kills Qasem Soleimani, it’s either a war, or murder. Or is everybody an enemy combatant, now. Ugh.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-01-04 12:45 UTC


The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance:

There will also today be rejoicing in Washington. There is nothing like an apparently successful military attack in a US re-election campaign. The Benghazi Embassy disaster left a deep scar upon the psyche of Trump’s support base in particular, and the message that Trump knows how to show the foreigners not to attack America is going down extremely well where it counts, whatever wise people on CNN may say.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-01-04 17:02 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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Comments on 2018-12-20 Lies

Zuck calls Apple a monopolist. “There are 1,000 reasons to hate monopolies, which means that there are 1,000 on-ramps to a movement aimed at destroying them. A movement for pluralism, fairness and solidarity, rather than extraction and oligarchy.”

– Alex 2020-08-29 20:43 UTC

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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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