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Both Republicans and Democrats don't Understand that Trump is a Loser
Who covered up the origins of covid, China or Trump?
Craigslist Killed the Local Newspaper and Civility
Joe Biden = Donald Trump part II
The USA is still playing with fire: Change the US constitution
Articles on the USA published before 2021

  • (november 2021) Both Republicans and Democrats don't Understand that Trump is a Loser
    The Democratic Party's presidential candidate in 2020 was an 80-year-old man, Joe Biden, who had repeatedly failed to become president, or even to win the Democratic Party primary, and the vicepresidential candidate was Kamala Harris, a politician who is unpopular even in her own state of California. That was probably the weakest Democratic Party "ticket" in a generation. The election took place during the "Black Lives Matter" protests, which certainly scared the hell out of the white majority. In other words, it should have been easy for a Republican Party candidate to win the presidential election. And, still, Trump lost by eight million votes: it was such a colossal humiliating defeat that Trump is still whining about it. What the Republicans don't seem to understand is that just about anybody would have won that presidential race... except Donald Trump, a widely despised scumbag, idiot and probably traitor (see Trump-Russia collusion). A few weeks later a key Senate election in Georgia should have easily been won by the Republican candidates. The Republican candidates, however, aligned themselves with Donald Trump. They both lost against weak Democratic Party candidates, and that's how the Democratic Party managed to win the Senate. Which part of "Donald Trump is a loser" the Republicans don't understand? It is bad enough that he whined about losing, that he can't get over it, that he is such a sore loser, but he keeps whining and whining. The public opinion is bored beyond belief by this pathetic buffoon. If he runs again, he will lose again, no matter who the Democratic Party candidate is, and by a bigger margin. (And then again he will whine and whine and whine that they stole his toys).
    The Democratic Party too doesn't understand this simple truth: there is nothing inherently exciting about the Democratic Party. Very few people voted for Biden/Harris: mostly people voted against Trump. Very few people voted for Chuck Schumer, the new leader of the Senate: people voted against the senators who worked for Donald Trump. Even fewer people voted for Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House: the Democratic Party lost seats in the House. The first major election in which the Republican candidate was smart enough to distance himself from Trump was won by the Republican (the new governor of Virginia) and by a landslide. The one who kept mentioning Trump was the Democratic Party candidate, not the Republican one.
    Donald Trump is a losing proposition and both parties fail to fully understand this. Too many Republicans still behave like Trump cheerleader or plain prostitutes paid by him (Jim Jordan, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, etc). And too many Democrats behave like the public opinion is on their side on every issue when, in reality, public opinion is opposed to their projects to defund the police, to let illegal immigrants in, to make inflation worse, to relax on terrorism, etc.
    We shall see if the Republican Party will learn from its triumph in Virginia and offer better options to voters than associates of the Trump mafia, and if the Democratic Party will learn from its defeat and will refrain from defending policies that are wildly unpopular.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (november 2021) Who covered up the origins of covid, China or Trump?
    I don't like conspiracy theories but at the same time i don't believe in coincidences. It is obvious that Donald Trump massively miscalculated what covid was. He convinced the US public opinion that there was nothing to worry about and that covid would go away like SARS (despite an early phone call by the Chinese president warning him that the virus was highly contagious). And, even when it became obvious that he had miscalculated, he kept tweeting that covid was just like the flu and there was no reason to take precautions (he is singlehandedly responsible for all the people who refused and still refuse to wear masks). His tweeets certainly killed hundreds of thousands of US citizens. Maybe he was just the incompetent ignorant imbecile that we all know he is.
    But there's more. In October 2014 Obama declared a moratorium on "gain of function" research. In December 2017 Trump lifted that moratorium. Strange, to say the least, for a man who is not known for loving scientific research. He cut more scientific programs than any president in modern history, but he resurrected this specific one.
    It is widely reported that US scientists who visited the Wuhan lab (note: invited by China to visit the lab) in January 2018 reported to the US embassy of dangerous conditions. Less widely reported is the fact that the US embassy alerted Washington (i.e. Trump) and Washington (i.e. Trump) ignored the report. Again, it could just be incompetent imbecile ignorance.
    But suspicions arise when you notice that he withdrew US observers from China. During the Obama years the USA had maintained scientists physically in China and some in the Wuhan lab. The USA had first-hand knowledge of what labs like the Wuhan lab were doing. The CDC has been working in China for over 30 years. Trump ordered a reduction of personnel: by the time that covid started there were only a handful of US health experts remaining in China. He also shut down the Chinese offices of the National Science Foundation and of the United States Agency for International Development, both organizations that had been involved in fighting the SARS epidemic. One of the scientists who was called back to the USA wrote: "We had a large operation of experts in China who were brought back during this administration, some of them months before the outbreak. You have to consider the possibility that our drawdown made this catastrophe more likely or more difficult to respond to." Note the "months before the outbreak". An amazing coincidence.
    After covid started, Trump accused China of being secretive, hiding facts, covering up, etc. But Trump himself had withdrawn/recalled all the US scientists who were there precisely to "spy" on Chinese activities at Chinese labs like the Wuhan lab. Trump did more to "cover up" what the Chinese were doing than China itself. After all, China had allowed US scientists to reside and travel around China, and had invited US scientists to visit many labs, including the Wuhan lab. It wasn't China that banned those scientists from its soil: it was Trump who ordered them to stop what they were doing and fly back home.
    Was it just incompetent imbecile ignorance or some more sinister premeditated action?

    See also the "lab leak" conspiracy theories, both the American one and the Chinese one (i don't believe either of the "lab leak" conspiracy theories but, like in every gossip, there might be some truth here and there).

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (october 2021) Craigslist Killed the Local Newspaper... and Civility. Critics of social networking platforms like Facebook abound all over the world, and for good reasons, but Craigslist seems to have remained under the radar a little too easily. Of course, Craigslist is not a greedy corporation like Facebook, and its founder Craig Newmark is a very different being from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg (and didn't become a billionaire at all). But people and companies should take responsibility for the impact of their technology no matter how rich and powerful they become. If you travel to the rare town where Craigslist doesn't exist or is still underused, you will probably still find a local newspaper. A few years ago i found a town in California (a few hours drive from Silicon Valley) that still had a weekly newspaper of more than 20 pages, with plenty of local news, opinions, letters, advertising, and several pages of classified ads. People used to buy the newspaper not only for the news but also for the classified ads. If you were looking for an apartment for rent, where did you start? That alone was already motivation enough to buy the local newspaper day after day until you signed a lease. The local newspaper was the first place where to post an ad if you were selling a car or even a bicycle. Craigslist wiped out all of that. Studies are ambiguous on whether people switched from newspapers to websites because of the news themselves. In fact, most people in the 1990s (even here in Silicon Valley) were reluctant to use the Internet. The Internet was almost forced on them by their employers. They ketp subscribing to newspapers and every morning you could see the kids delivering newspapers in your street, house by house. There were newspaper vending machines even in front of computer stores. The cost of buying a newspaper was so negligible that not many people were willing to switch to the Internet for news, to a place where they felt uncomfortable compared with their trusted newspaper. I think that many people moved online for news only when the newspaper died, when they had no other choice. So the story goes the other way around: first the newspapers started dying, then their readers moved to online news platforms. I suspect that many newspapers started dying not because fewer readers were buying them (that happened later) but because fewer people were advertising in them. This happened at a time when advertising revenues were still relatively low for the Googles and Facebooks of the world (Facebook wasn't even born yet). But one gigantic force started erasing the advertising revenues of newspapers: Craigslist, launched in 1995. Before Craigslist, there had been electronic bulletin boards to advertise for free but they typically reached only a limited community (e.g. a college community). Initially, Craigslist was not widely used but it was free, and accessible by everyone. It grew rapidly and it would be interesting to see studies of how many people started using the Internet not because of eBay and Amazon (where they could buy cheaper goods, but not for free) but because of Craigslist (where they could post and read ads for free). Indirectly, Craigslist also encouraged people to get other services from the Internet. People who would have normally gravitated around the local community represented in their local newspaper were exposed to the global world of the Internet, and abandoned their local businesses. Then those people started "also" reading the news on the Internet. I don't think that was the primary reason they moved their life online. Most people always complained that the quality of news articles was worse online than in the newspapers. I suspect that the primary motivation for many people was Craigslist.

    Over the years the main defense of those who absolve Craigslist has been like this: "No, Craigslist is not responsible for the death of newspapers: the Internet killed newspapers, not Craigslist." The question then is who took newspaper readers to the Internet. Again, my recollections are that most people were reluctant to get their news from the Internet. Most people went online only for two (free) services: email and... Craigslist. (I am not counting gamers and porn fans). And note that the big newspapers are mostly still alive and influential. The ones that truly died are the small local newspapers. What kills the small local newspaper is not what kills the big national newspaper.

    Another common defense of Craigslist is to point out that most newspapers survived the arrival of radio in the 1920s, and they could have survived the arrival of the World-wide Web in the 1990s if they had been smarter. Well, the local radio station died too in recent years, and, again, one has to analyze why local radio stations went out of business. People were still listening to local radio stations for local news, or simply because they knew the radio hosts. So what killed the local radio station? If you think that the Internet, not Craigslist, killed the local newspaper, then probably you think that music streaming killed the local radio station. No, it was the 1996 Telecommunications Act that removed the limitations on how many radio stations a corporation could own. Before 1996 a corporation was limited to two FM stations in a market, regardless of the market's size. Thousands of local radio stations have been bought by big corporations between 1996 and 1999, and many others were kicked out of business by big corporations that offered lower advertising rates, so that by 2002 just ten corporations controlled two-thirds of the listeners and of the revenues. Again, advertising was the lifeline of local radio stations. So, again, what killed the radio station was the rapid decline in advertising. Then came the rapid decline in the quality of content, which caused listeners to turn away from the radio as a source of news. Music streaming was not the cause but the beneficiary of this transformation: listeners started thinking of the radio as a place where to listen to music (not local news) and then it was trivial to abandon the radio for music streaming.

    Incidentally, the histories of airwaves and cyberspace have something in common. When radio broadcasting began in the 1920s, it was mostly limited to community organizations like colleges, just like the Internet. Then someone discovered that it was possible to make money out of advertising and radio broadcasting became big business, a model that companies like Google and Facebook have basically copied. The difference is that until the early 1980s, a government agency called FCC limited the amount of advertising by a radio station compared with the amount of news, public affairs, and informational programming. If that rule applied to Craigslist today, Craigslist would be forced to devote most of its bandwidth to providing local news in every single region where it provides free advertising. I wonder how Craigslist would manage to survive. Kudos to the thousands of radio stations around the USA that managed to survive for decades. Anyway, the death of the local radio stations makes the death of the local newspaper even more tragic.

    Aron Pilohofer asked the rhetorical question: "Do you really truly believe that, if not for Craigslist, little kids would be riding around your neighborhood today tossing thick newspapers onto your lawn laden with classified ads?" My first answer is "yes" (if there was no website like Craiglist where we can post free classified ads) but obviously i can't prove it other than by pointing at the places where there is nothing like Craigslist and there is access to the Internet (plenty of rural places in Africa, Latin America, India and even the USA). In those places there are still newspaper kiosks stocked with all sorts of newspapers. The Internet per se didn't kill the newspaper (it certainly took a toll, like the radio and television did). Anyway, i would like to ask Pilohofer: "What next?" It is always easy to say that something was inevitable after it happened. But, regardless of why it happened, what next? Shall we simply accept to live without local news forever? Happy that way? If not, then how do we resurrect local news in the age of Craigslist?

    I am not feeling too sorry for the big newspapers, many of which have their own sordid history of negative social impact and many of which had the resources to reinvent their business when the Internet arrived. But the small local newspapers had mostly a positive function in their communities. We all know too well what Donald Trump did, but it is impossible for me to find out what happened to the victims of a car accident that i witnessed recently in a small town of Oregon, despite the fact that three people died on the spot and four were hospitalized (the highway was closed for several hours). There is no local newspaper man who calls the police station and the hospital and the families and puts together a story. During the covid pandemic it was difficult to get simple information about where to get tested for covid or where to get vaccinated. In the past such information would be posted day after day on the local newspaper (and endlessly discussed on the local radio station).

    Newmark may or may not have known that classified ads were the lifeline of thousands of small local newspapers, but he certainly discovered an efficient way to sabotage the whole category.

    Craigslist was a catastrophic invention for the local newspaper, and perhaps for the community at large. The big newspapers had the cash to start a new life online, but the local newspaper was doomed when the advertising revenues shrank to zero. The big newspapers were affected too. Even if their readership was large enough to still generate enough advertising revenues, the loss to Craigslist was enough to slowly erode the quality of journalism. If the newspaper makes less money, it can only afford to pay so much in salaries, and this causes the most brilliant journalists to look for another career. Indirectly, Craigslist caused a general decline in the quality of newspapers. That, in turn, motivated people to move online also for news (not because the Internet platforms are better but because the printed newspapers have become as bad). The small local newspapers shut down. The big newspapers started looking for new sources of revenue to replace the classified ads, and, needless to say, the quality of their journalism suffered: writing better articles does not significantly increase your revenues.

    We can argue forever whether news is better when it's local or global, and how good the gift economy (like Craigslist) has been for consumers, but it is pointless to deny that Newmark's humble invention has been a major factor in the disappearance of local news.

    Craigslist also introduced another problem that is rarely discussed. Extending its "self-everything" principle, Craigslist employs fora managed by users themselves to provide help and to gather suggestions. However, the Craigslist "help" and "feedback" fora are places for bullies to harass users who are naive enough to ask questions or suggest improvements. Those Craigslist fora are displays of the worst mob behavior that you can find on the web. Most of the replies come from frustrated psychos who think their sarcastic remarks are actually intelligent and funny. Replies to users asking for help in using craigslist include: "Might be something to do with you being an idiot" (the only reply to someone asking why his post was flagged for removal), "Here's why X is crying like a bitch" (to someone already crucified by a dozen insults for asking where to post a complaint), "The need is in the eyes of the beholder" (to someone claiming there is a need for a new feature), "You're the problem, with your hypocrisy" (to someone pointing out an obvious problem), and the most common ending to a discussion that is supposed to provide help in using Craigslist: "Good luck learning how to use Craigslist". When a victim of bullying who asked "Why this forum doesn't have a moderator?", someone replied "We are all moderators". Of the more than 100 threads that i checked this morning not one had a polite and helpful reply to a suggestion for improvement or a request for help. They all included plenty of insults to the person posting the question/suggestion. Someone should write a book of quotations from Craigslist's mob-controlled fora. It would be "the" horror book of post-newspaper media.

    Google gets chastised for delivering so much of the information that people consume, but search engines actually invented a service that didn't exist. Facebook gets accused of all sorts of nefarious consequences but social networking platforms invented a service that didn't exist. Amazon, eBay and Craigslist, on the other hand, truly killed an existing business. Amazon did kill the bookstore. eBay killed many small retailers. And, yes, Craigslist killed the local newspaper and caused a steep decline in the quality of journalism, and, by killing the local newspaper, Craigslist had a direct negative impact on socializing at the local level, just like killing the local bookstore and the local retail store had a negative impact on local social life.

    Ironically, lawmakers talk of regulating Google and Facebook, but nobody seems to be interested in regulating Craigslist, which gets 50 billion page views every month (Craiglist itself says "Craigslist users self-publish tens of millions of free postings each month") and has opaque rules for which free ads it accepts and which are "flagged for removal" (no explanation is provided by Craigslist when that happens), i.e. for censorship.

    P.S.: Newmark himself has donated millions to promote journalism. I have no doubts that he's a good man. So were many inventors whose inventions had an impact on human society, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

    P.P.S.: I am a hypocrite because i was one of the very early users of Craigslist.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2021) Joe Biden = Donald Trump part II
    Trump's foreign policy was an absolute disaster. The USA was dragged from one humiliation (North Korea's dictator treating the US president like a fool) to another one (Iraq asking the USA to leave the country after the USA assassinated an Iranian general) and to another one (Russia defended Venezuela's dictator that the USA wanted to dethrone and the US president quickly shut up on Venezuela) and to another one (Saudi Arabia assassinated a Washington Post journalist in Turkey and the US president didn't even complain) and to another one (Turkey invaded Syria and attacked the rebels who had fought alongside the USA). Trump's foreign policy was an endless series of defeats and humiliations.
    Fast forward to Joe Biden well into 2021 and... nothing has changed. The USA is quietly accepting that North Korea has nuclear weapons and rockets to threaten not only US allies like Japan and South Korea but also US troops and territories. The USA maintains sanctions on Iran although it was the USA (Donald Trump) that broke the international agreement on nuclear power: Iran was sticking to it, as confirmed by all international and even US observers. Biden is sticking to Trump's demands that Iran accepts more stringent inspections than those required by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty while Israel, which has never signed the N.P.T., has never allowed any such inspections. The USA maintains the tariffs on Chinese goods (which are really just a tax on the middle class of the USA, since it's the middle class of the USA that pays the higher prices, not the Chinese middle class). The USA still maintains good relationships with Saudi Arabia (with not even a hint of punishing those responsible for murdering Jamal Khashoggi) while Saudi Arabia continues to cause a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The USA still recognizes the rogue government of Yemen instead of the Houthis. The USA still quietly accepts that Syria has been de facto divided among Russia, Turkey and Iran. The USA still quietly accepts that Libya has been de facto divided between Russia and Turkey. The USA still sides with Israel and the US embassy remains in Jerusalem, as it was decided by Trump. The USA didn't do anything to stop Israel from killing 250 Palestinians during the latest "war" against Hamas (May 2021, hardly ever mentioned by Biden's staff). The USA is doing nothing to oust Venezuela's dictator Maduro while imposing even tougher sanctions on Cuba than Trump ever did. Despite two more cyber-attacks traced back to Russia (Russian hackers "DarkSide" disrupted a major fuel pipeline of the USA and Russian hackers "REvil" unleashed a ransomware attack on the IT firm Kaseya that provides software to thousands of corporations), and despite Russia's continued occupation of Ukraine and support for dictators opposed by the USA (Assad in Syria, Maduro in Venezuela, etc), there has been no escalation of sanctions under Biden compared with the sanctions already in place under Trump (which were sanctions originated under Obama). The USA is still out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would have created the largest trading block and political alliance in the history of the world, and the most significant step against China's expansionism. And the USA is withdrawing its troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq, just like Trump had promised to do (whether good or bad, it was Trump's plan which Biden is simply carrying out).
    Where's the difference between Biden and Trump? Well, to be fair, Biden is nicer than Trump when he talks to allies. And his anti-Chinese policies are harder than Trump's: Trump was only interested in the trade deficit, whereas Biden also cares about human rights. But it is telling that Trump's wall is still standing along the Mexican border: it's a powerful symbol that much of the vision of Trump's government is still in place. That vision amounted to "no vision". And that's where Biden stands.

    See also Trump's Foreign Policy in a Nutshell.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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