TPP: Score One For the Donald

November 22, 2016

no-tppPresident-elect Trump has made it absolutely clear that on day one of his Presidency, he will withdraw the US from support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  We can breathe a sigh of relief because Trump is right — this would be a disaster — although probably not for the reasons I give.

The TPP had nothing whatsoever to do with trade: the US already has good trading relations with all the nations involved in the treaty (from which China was excluded, of course). This was all about deregulation and giving even more powers to corporations than to elected governments. This was about giving powers to corporations to restrict labour and environmental protections.

Trump will find a lot of criticism about this decision from billionaire executives and those they pay — Congressional politicians — to lobby on their behalf.  The loudest screamers will be those most deeply in the pockets of big business, on both sides of the aisle.

What is odd to me is that you would expect Trump to be among that crowd calling for freer trade, less regulation on corporations, and more strength against China.  I am confused as to the why of his position (because I believe him to be a full-bore capitalist and not an economic nationalist) but I cheer him for it.

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Reason #223 NOT to use Facebook

November 22, 2016

anti-facebookBecause they have developed or are developing software to allow the Chinese government to censor Facebook in China. This is their commitment to free speech, eh?

Zuckerberg says it is better to be “part of a conversation”, which is Silicon Valleyese for “we can’t make a profit in China unless we let the government screw with our members’ values.

It is good to read that some FB employees are quitting in protest but, frankly, FB can simply offer more money to attract more coders and systems managers whose resumes do not include any social conscience.

 

Previous Reasons NOT to Use Facebook.


Night Music: Fearless

November 22, 2016


False Memory Syndrome

November 22, 2016

kennedy-and-johnson

Fifty-three years ago today, my mother and father visited their closest friends, Ron and Betty, who lived a few miles from us in West London. I was in the backseat of the small black car.  It smelled of leather and my parents’ cigarettes. I was sullen because I was just turned 14 years old and I had far better things to do than visit my parents’ old fogie friends to play cards.

I remember this all so clearly because, just as we pulled up outside Ron and Betty’s row house, the car radio broke off its normal programming and a solemn voice replaced the happy chatter.  The voice announced that President John F. Kennedy of the United States had been shot and probably killed.  I can still feel the goose-flesh that crawled over my skin. I remember the loud gasp as my father realized what had been said.  John Kennedy was one of my father’s heroes, and he was mine too. He was our hope for the future, and now he was dead. Nothing else about that evening do I remember. I’m sure my folks and their friends discussed the assassination, but that has passed from recall.

Within two years of that day, though, JFK had — in my eyes at least — fallen from the pedestal upon which his charisma, his beautiful family, and his martyrdom had placed him.  He was quickly revealed as just another centre-right US politician who was happy to send the boys to war, who was happy to squander the nation’s wealth on weapons and imperialism, who had no answer to segregation but brother Bobby’s federal agents.  We also learned (perhaps we always knew) he wasn’t quite such a great family man, either; that Camelot was an expensive sham.

Kennedy and his people lived in the tuxedoed world of High Society that was soon to be swept away by the real world of Soul on Ice and Revolver.  We might have hated that big Texas bully who followed Kennedy, but it was Kennedy not Johnson who pushed the US into South Vietnam, and it was Johnson not Kennedy who brought forward the Civil Rights Acts. Looking back, we can now see that both Kennedy and Johnson were equal participants in the cabaret that is America the Superpower. Unfortunately for the truth, Kennedy will always have the smile, the beautiful wife, the cute John-John and Caroline, while Johnson will always be pulling the ears off those damn beagles.