1. The White House
Asked Social Media Companies to Look
for Terrorists. Here’s Why
2. The Kochs & the Nazis
‘Free to Be a Fool’: Behind the Scenes at the British
Parliament’s Debate on Banning
4. I Ramped Up My Internet Security, and You Should Too
5. ‘Corporate Courts’ Have Taken from the Poor and
Handed to the Rich
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, January 21, 2016.
This is a
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is - I think - a bit of a strange story on The Intercept; item 2 is a quite interesting series of three
files on Democracy Now! on the Koch brothers, the Nazis, and what the
Kochs surrected in the USA; item 3 is about a
debate in the British parliament about banning Trump from Great Britain
(with a good journalistic answer); item 4
is about ramping up one's internet security, but it forgets about operating
systems; and item 5 is about what the TTIP will
mean to Europe (it will destroy it, in my opinion: with the
TTIP Europe will soon be made American, without any
of the social policies that presently, still, serve the European
public: these cost profits and can, therefore, be taken down by the
1. The White
House Asked Social Media Companies to Look for Terrorists. Here’s Why
by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
The White House asked internet companies
during a counterterrorism
summit earlier this month to consider using their technology to
help “detect and measure radicalization.”
“Should we explore ways to more quickly
and comprehensively identify terrorist content online so that online
service providers can remove it if it violates their terms of service?”
asked a White House briefing document that outlined the main
topics of conversation for the meeting. The document, which was
obtained by The Intercept, is now posted
The briefing suggested that the algorithm
Facebook uses to spot and prevent possible suicides might be a
helpful model for a technology to locate terrorists, asking: “Are there
other areas where online providers have used technology to identify
harmful content and remove it? … Something like Facebook’s suicide
This seems to grant far too much
to "the government":
I think the whole internet should
be encrypted so that no one can spy on anyone.
At present only a small part of the internet is encrypted, and nobody
really knows whether the NSA can break the encryptions or somehow can
get the keys, e.g. by invading computers and registering all
And it seems all secret services
are trying to get all the data they can get from any
computer that connects to the internet - and if this is not quite true (nobody
knows, who is not a top governmental spy), this is by far
the safest assumption,
which in fact is also is supported by a whole lot of evidence (mostly
from Edward Snowden).
To make this perhaps a little more urgent: How will you feel in one
year's time (less so, in fact) about "the government's secret
services", if the American government is then headed by Donald Trump,
with - say - Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin as vice-president? (I think
- and hope - this is less likely, but it may happen.)
Then there is this, that also seems
misdirected to me:
First of all, it doesn’t work. Many
experts, including people with law enforcement, academic, and
scientific backgrounds, agree that it’s practically impossible to boil
down the essential predictive markers that make up a terrorist who is
willing and capable of carrying out an attack and then successfully
pick him out of a crowd.
This seems misdirected because I think (since 2005, at the latest) that the
government is far less interested in finding terrorists
than it is interested
in the possibility that it may control everyone who is using a
simply by knowing everything there is to know about him or her,
in far larger detail than they themselves recall.
And once they have the information, they
can start to - again all in deep secret - "Deny, Disrupt,
Degrade and/or Deceive" anyone whose views they Dislike, in
brief, by Destroying them, quite Dishonestly, but very
effectively, indeed as the NSA and GCHQ plan to do and probably
And to turn back a moment to what I wrote
above: Do you really think you can
trust a Trump/Cruz - say - American government? That
may be there in less than a year? And that will have access to everything
the NSA gathered?
Then there is this:
But “identifying” terrorists
is a different matter. “Because of the statistical impossibility of
catching terrorists through data mining, and because of its high costs
in investigator time, taxpayer dollars, lost privacy, and threatened
liberty, I conclude that data mining does not work in the area of
terrorism,” Harper said.
I am willing to believe Harper (and if I were
a terrorist, I would be writing about - say - films and actors and
foods, which would be codes for what I am really talking about), but
(1) this only considers data-mining and not spying, and (2)
this also fails to mention William
Binney (<- Wikipedia) who invented a system that would track
terrorists, and only terrorists, and not take all or most data
from everyone - but he was sidelined by 2001, since Bush Jr. (and
Cheney, and Rumsfeld, etc.) wanted to know everything anyone
There is also this in the article, which does seem correct:
Precisely - and "the government" (possibly
Trump's government, next year) only needs to be known to have
(secret!!) access to much or all anyone does with a computer to
be able to silence most of its - formerly free, now effectively
enslaved - "citizens", simply because they know they must keep
silent, even in their own private journals (if written on a computer),
because they know the goverment's spies check and store everything,
to be used if and when "the government" wants to use it, at some point,
in the coming 40 years or so.
Algorithms that filter content are “a
really powerful tool for a more authoritarian government,” said
“Electronic monitoring and censorship
can be effective for chilling political dissent, removing much content
that authority frowns upon, and making people fearful of discussing
political subjects online,” UC Davis’ Rogaway wrote in an email. “China
already does this quite effectively.”
Kochs & the Nazis
is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as
follows, and is in fact the first of three pages dedicated to
the Koch Brothers and New York reporter Jane Mayer:
I think this is quite interesting. I
recommend that you read all three pages (i.e. files) on Democracy Now! Here
is one reason:
In her new book, "Dark Money: The Hidden
History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right," New
Yorker reporter Jane Mayer explores how the Koch brothers and fellow
right-wing billionaires have funded a political machine aimed at
shaping elections and public policy. The book contains a number of
revelations and new details. Mayer begins with revealing that the
Kochs’ father, industrialist Fred Koch, helped build an oil refinery in
Nazi Germany—a project approved personally by Adolf Hitler. The
refinery was critical to the Nazi war effort, fueling German warplanes.
Mayer joins us to discuss.
According to its own estimates, the Koch
network aims to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 presidential and
congressional races, more than doubling its amount in 2012. The Kochs’
political machine now eclipses the official Republican Party in key
areas, with about three-and-a-half times as many employees as the
Republican National Committee. Charles and David Koch’s 2016 spending
comes as part of an effort to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to
conservative candidates and causes over the last four decades. Their
net worth is a combined $82 billion, placing them fifth on the Forbes
400 list of wealthiest Americans.
The Kochs’ political operations have
exploded in the six years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United
decision, which removed limits on campaign spending by ruling that
donor money is a form of free speech. Citizens United has
allowed the Kochs and others to spend millions in dark money—political
donations where the source is kept secret.
Here is a bit more about the
organization(s) the Koch brothers have set up:
And the Kochs, on their own, probably
would not be able to have the kind of influence they have. But what
they’ve done is kind of a magic trick. They’ve attracted around
them—they’ve purposefully built what they call an unprecedented
network—it’s a pipeline, they talk about it, too—where they’ve gathered
about 400 other extraordinarily wealthy conservatives with them to
create a kind of a billionaire caucus almost. And that’s the group that
met, just as Obama was being inaugurated.
So this is not—it’s an organization that I think people need to
understand is not just about elections. They’ve been playing a long
game that started 40 years ago, when Charles Koch really got involved
in politics in the beginning. And they wanted to change not just who
rules the country, but how the country thinks. They’re very
antigovernment. They are—and they have pushed this kind of
antigovernment line for 40 years through many different channels. And
it’s kind of a war of ideas as much as anything else.
With big money and big power on the side
of the Kochs, in good part thanks to the American Supreme Court.
Finally, here is Jane Mayer, who explains what
the Koch brothers surrected, thanks to the Supreme Court:
There is a lot more, and I recommend you read
all of it (three files): I found it quite
interesting, and not only nor indeed mostly because of the
Nazi-connections of the Kochs (though these are real too, and go back
to the Thirties).
JANE MAYER: Well, what you have to understand
is the Kochs have built kind of an assembly line to manufacture
political change. And it includes think tanks, which produce papers. It
includes advocacy groups, that advocate for policies. And it includes
giving money to candidates. And you put those three together, and
they’ve pushed against doing anything about climate change on all those
three fronts at once. So you get papers that look like they’re real
scientific opinions doubting that climate change is real, you get
advocacy groups saying we can’t afford to do anything about it, and you
get candidates who have to sign a pledge that—their largest political
group is Americans for Prosperity. They have a pledge that says that if
you want to get money from this—from their donors, you have to sign a
pledge saying that, if elected, you will do nothing about climate
change that requires spending any money on the problem. And 156 members
of Congress currently have signed that pledge.
‘Free to Be a Fool’: Behind the Scenes at the British Parliament’s
Debate on Banning Trump
This starts as follows:
third item is by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:
Several of the Americans and
Brits waiting outside the debate room in the airy Westminster Hall on
Monday groaned at the thought that Donald J. Trump’s run for president
hadn’t turned out to be a joke. One thing became clear: No one seemed
to like Trump. Once the debate began, that sentiment was echoed by
Members of Parliament on the committee that was considering two
petitions: The first (and most popular in the history of the committee)
was to ban the Republican front-runner from entering the United
Kingdom. The second was not to ban him.
First a bit of clarification (that is also in
the article): The debate was started by a petition, but the English
parliament cannot (itself) deny Trump's visiting Great Britain, for
this can be done only by the British Home secretary.
But they had the debate, and Natasha Hakimi Zapata, who is American,
was in England to attend it. Here is part of what she thought:
By the end of the debate, I had
no idea how I felt about it. I am a fervent supporter of freedom of
speech, but as a member of the American media told me outside the hall,
“Freedoms, even in America, are very much curtailed already.” And it
didn’t sit too well with me that the politicians whose ideas about
freedom of speech I most agreed with had views on most other matters
that I strongly reject.
And here is what she concluded:
As the daughter of Mexican and
Middle Eastern immigrants, I, much like the Muslim MPs mentioned above,
have felt Trump’s abhorrent words personally and worry about the effect
of his comments on my fellow humans. Would I like to see the
billionaire fool get his comeuppance and be banned, just as he proposes
to ban those of a differing skin tone and belief system than his? Some
part of me says yes. And yet the overwhelming part of me wants a world
in which we all have the freedom to travel as we choose—Trumps and
Muslims and Mexicans alike. And that part of me cannot support a ban on
any person, regardless of whether he or she holds views that are
diametrically opposed to every value I hold dear.
I completely agree - and this is the
genuine liberal approach to freedom of speech and freedom of the
press: Everyone has the right to write or say anything
he or she pleases, with some restrictions on offensive language and
calls for violence, and that is as it should be, also
for the views one is oneself strongly opposed to.
And this is a recommended article.
Ramped Up My Internet Security, and You Should Too
fourth item is by Julia Angwin on Propublica:
This starts as follows:
Some people make dieting resolutions in
the New Year. I make security and privacy resolutions, because those
are the things that keep me up at night. After all, as a journalist,
it’s important for me to give my sources assurances that I will keep
their communications confidential. And in today’s world, that is an
Everyone — journalists or not — faces an
increasing array of attacks on our security and privacy. Even if you’re
not the U.S.’s intelligence chief, whose email
was recently hacked, it’s smart to up your game. So this year, I
thought I’d share my resolutions.
That sounds fair enough, especially from a
journalist. There is considerably more, of which I will just give the
headings and leave out the text, which I leave to your interests
(except for one bit below):
The information given (for which you need the
original) probably will be useful for quite a few - but I also have an
important question (or so it seems to me), which I will introduce by
quoting the beginning of its Section 1:
1. Software updates
2. Ditching old, buggy software
3. Upgrading my passwords
4. Upgrading my encryption key
My question is this: What
operating system does Julia Angwin
It’s not sexy, but at the top of my list
is updating my software to the latest versions. Nothing else matters -
not fancy encryption or strong passwords - if you’re using software
that contains gaping holes that any criminal or spy can penetrate.
And I hate to break it to you, but all
your software is as holey as Swiss cheese. The software updates you
receive are just patches for the holes that have been discovered so
far. More holes will be discovered later. What’s more, updates are
basically red alerts to hackers, pointing them to the holes.
I could not find the information in her article. I use Linux
since nearly 4 years, for quite a few reasons, and I think every
journalist (who wants some of his or her conversations, web-activities
etc. to remain a secret, especially for the NSA and/or the GCHQ) should
The reason is very simple: I think both Windows and Apple very
carefully designed secret parts that allow the NSA (or the GCHQ) to
access any computer connected to the internet, and mostly do what it
pleases with them.
You may not think so, but you know as little as I know
 about the code that runs Windows or
Apple, for that code is a deep, private, heavily protected secret.
But OK: If you do not think so, the rest of this item will be
of little interest.
And here is the rest: I think there are three kinds of spies that I do
not want on my computer:
(1) government spies, of any kind, which in the West are
especially the NSA and the GCHQ, although this is just the top of a long
list - and they very probably know about some of the holes that have
been designed (very probably, I think) in both Windows and Apple's
(2) industrial spies and "data-gatherers", from Facebook down, that also form a very
long list, who want to know everything about you that may be worth
money to their buyers (which seems to be essentially everything, just
as in the case of the secret services);
(3) hackers who invade my computer without my consent and
knowledge (for whatever purpose).
I have been hacked, quite professionally also, in 2009, and
when I found out and warned others the next day my complete computer
was destroyed (Windows was told to self-destruct) causing 1 1/2
years of data loss (at least) due to the complete destruction
of my computer's hard disk. The only reason I did not loose
money is that I don't bank via the internet.
But that also is the least danger - and to keep out especially the
governmental spies (of all kinds) I need an operating system
that is open source and kept safe
by good programmers.
And the only operating system that I trust (more or less: there are
holes in Linux) that definitely does not include secret
portions that allow the governments' spies to essentially do as they
please, which certainly includes getting all the
passwords and encryption keys that Julia Angwin recommends renewing, is
So... my advice is to follow Julia Angwin's advices, but to do so on
Linux, simply because closed source operating systems are
full of holes, several of which are
very probably designed to be there (and probably are there the last 15
years or more).
5. ‘Corporate Courts’ Have
Taken from the Poor and Handed to the Rich – TTIP Will Turbo-Charge
The fifth and last item is by Nick Dearden. I found it on Raging
Bull-Shit, but it originated on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Precisely. Here is some evidence about how
effective these "courts" are -
Huge corporations and the seriously
wealthy will be the big winners from the controversial US-EU trade deal
known as TTIP. That’s the implication of a new study which shows that
billions of pounds have been won by giant companies like Mobil, EDF,
Enron, Suez and Cargill, which have sued governments under similar
treaties for taking action they believe to be ‘unfair’.
The most controversial element of TTIP
is the ‘corporate court’ system, formally called ISDS. This system
allows multinational corporations and other foreign ‘investors’ to sue
governments for enacting regulation which damage their profits.
Proponents argue that this offers investors, like small business,
protection against ‘arbitrary’ government action.
But such corporate courts already exist
in numerous other agreements and have allowed corporations to take
action against many developing countries for freezing water and
electricity prices, raising the minimum wage, introducing a sugar tax
and putting health warnings on cigarette packages.
which I dislike to call "courts", for few can prosecute, and there is
no appeal, and the "judges" are lawyers from the multi-national
The report also shows that the success
rate of cases brought by such corporate giants is around 71% – far
greater than the success rate of smaller companies and investors.
This means, as has often big argued,
corporate courts act to redistribute income from the public purse to
the richest people in the world. $6.7 billion has been won in 48 cases,
with another $1 billion being won by super rich individuals. While
smaller companies and investors do sometimes take action, the report
suggests that any winnings on their part is normally wiped out by the
In fact, the biggest sums have been won
by well-known extractive and energy companies – with Occidental, Mobil,
EDF, BG Group, Enron and Chevron winning cases, especially against
countries like Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina.
This meant billions for these
multi-national corporations, to be paid from the taxes from the
citizens of these countries (who themselves are not allowed to appear
in these "courts").
But they are not the only ones to get
extremely rich by this fundamentally fascist
Another big winner is what van Harten
terms the ‘ISDS legal industry’ – including a selection of corporate
law firms – which has made an incredible $1.7 billion in over 214
cases. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, given a Friends of the
Earth report from last year which showed that legal costs for such ISDS
cases average over $8 million, exceeding $30 million in some cases,
while 80% of the legal costs end up in the pockets of the parties’
lawyers. Elite law firms can charge $1,000 per hour, per lawyer.
And not only that: The TTIP will also be the
vehicle for ruining the goverments, ruining the parliaments,
and ruining the judiciaries.
It will give all relevant powers to the multi-national corporations,
and make everyone who is not rich nor a lawyer for these corporations
their effective slaves.
The biggest losers of all, of course, is
public. In the cases studies by van Harten, $10 billion has
haemorrhaged from the pockets of developing world governments. But this
will only be the tip of the iceberg if TTIP and its sister agreements
like CETA (the EU- Canada agreement) are agreed. After all, most cases
to date have been won outside Europe and the USA. TTIP and CETA will
open up far most lucrative cases up to far more business.
The idea that TTIP is about hard-done-by
small business is clearly untrue. TTIP is a vehicle for channeling
wealth from the public to the 1%.
 Here is some evidence from the Wikipedia article on Binney (quoted minus note numbers):
Binney was invited as a witness by the NSA commission of the German Bundestag. On July 3, 2014 Der Spiegel wrote, he said that the NSA wanted to have information about everything. In Binney's view this is a totalitarian approach, which had previously been seen only in dictatorships.
Binney stated that the goal was also to control people. Meanwhile, he
said that it is possible in principle to survey the whole population,
abroad and in the US, which in his view contradicts the United States Constitution. In October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the NSA began with its mass surveillance, he said. Therefore, he left the secret agency shortly afterwards, after more than 30 years of employment.
 Or less, for I have a computer since 1987, and can program it well in 5
or 6 programming lanuages - but no: such knowledge does not help
against any careful holes that are or may be in any closed
source operating system, like Windows' or Apple's.
 I think this is what it is, and I think
this follows logically from this - quite adequate - definition
of "fascism" that I did not originate, but that is in the American
is defined as "A system of government that exercises a
dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of
state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
The state and the business leadership have
merged in the USA, lately also with the blessings of the Supreme Court.
For more, see the Nederlog of January 3, 2016.