Leaked Catalogue Reveals a Vast Array of Military Spy
Gear Offered to U.S. Police
2. Dilma Rousseff on Ouster: This is a Coup
Impact Every Democratic
Organization in Brazil
3. U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars,
4. Courting the Right, Smearing the Left: The Ethos of the
5. Burkini Bans, New Atheism and State Worship:Noam
Chomsky on Religion in Politics
This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 2, 2016.
is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about the enormous
amounts of - totally unconstitutional, totally anti-democratic - spy
gear that the British firm of Cobham is selling to U.S. police (and I
take a pessimistic view of it all); item 2 is about
Dilma Rousseff and Brazil, and is also not optimistic at all; item 3
is about how the American army (etc.) now for twenty years cannot
properly audited, and how this somehow disappeared trillions of
dollars; item 4 is about the rightist propaganda
and lies that are spread by supposed "leftists" (I deny they
are Leftists in any sense); and item 5 is about a
good interview with Noam Chomsky.
Leaked Catalogue Reveals a Vast Array of Military Spy Gear Offered to
The first item today is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept:
This starts as
A confidential, 120-page catalogue
of spy equipment, originating from British defense firm Cobham and
circulated to U.S. law enforcement, touts gear that can intercept
wireless calls and text messages, locate people via their mobile
phones, and jam cellular communications in a particular area.
The catalogue was obtained by The
Intercept as part of a large trove of documents originating
within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where spokesperson
Molly Best confirmed Cobham wares have been purchased but did not
provide further information. The document provides a
rare look at the wide range of electronic surveillance
tactics used by police and militaries in the U.S. and abroad,
offering equipment ranging from black boxes that can
monitor an entire town’s cellular signals to microphones hidden in
lighters and cameras hidden in trashcans. Markings date it to 2014.
I say. I also take this as good evidence
that there are now definitely two classes of people in the
USA: Those working for the government, and those
who don't and also aren't rich, and the former class (a very
small subset of
the total American population) are now practically allowed to know absolutely
everything about any member of the second class, whose constitutional
rights against being spied upon by the police, by the military, by
the secret services and by dataminers have been completely
If everything you do, and write
and say with your computer or cellphone is secretly downloaded and
stored to be used against you between now and your death, forget
"being a cititzen" and forget about "democracy" and forget
about "protected rights as outlined by the Constitution": The military-industrial-congressional
complex has totally taken over (and what you are believing
in is totally outdated).
And here is a statement by Richard Tynan:
“By design, these devices are
indiscriminate and operate across a wide area where many people may be
present,” said Richard Tynan, a technologist at Privacy International,
of the gear in the Cobham catalogue. Such “indiscriminate surveillance
systems that are not targeted in any way based on prior suspicion” are
“the essence of mass surveillance,” he added.
Yes, indeed, though it is in fact a whole
lot more than surveilling: It is building up dossiers on
absolutely everyone, in which there is far
more information than the people surveilled are able to recall, and it
will be used, if collected by the police, the military or the secret
services for any purpose any future US government (of any
kind, including that of Donald Trump - who likes torturing
people he doesn't like - if he becomes president).
I should also say that this article contains a fairly good survey,
including six pictures, of the stuff that Cobham offers to sale (to
police forces, military forces, secret service forces, and presumably
also to dataminers), which are
all interesting, and are available from the last dotted link.
The article ends as follows:
This is not only "eroding safety" for
everyone who is neither rich nor employed by US governmental forces:
But the proliferation of spy tools like
those sold by Cobham is actually eroding safety, according to Tynan.
“As we move to a more connected world where cars, toys, fridges, and
even implantable devices contain miniature cellphone technology, the
capability to cause harm using one of these devices becomes ever
greater,” he said. “It is unacceptable for our modern critical
infrastructure to be so vulnerable to such interception,” and therefore
“it is vital that the international standards that underpin our
communications are built to the highest security standard possible.”
It is an enormous buildup of incredible powers for the
American police, military, and secret services, who by now must know very
much more than the Stasi knew about East-Germans and then
the KGB knew about Russians - and they know this about absolutely
everyone absolutely anywhere, to the best of my knowledge, for that
is and was their end for over 15 years now.
Since I am not a believer in the goodness, kindness and
intelligence of the vast majority of the men and women I know anything
about, I feel rather certain that these enormous and completely
unconstitutional powers are being built to
And this is an interesting article that is recommended.
2. Dilma Rousseff on Ouster: This is a Coup That Will Impact
Every Democratic Organization in Brazil
item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
The Brazilian Senate has voted to
impeach the country’s democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff
from office in what many are calling a coup. The vote was 61 to 20.
Rousseff denounced the decision, saying there’s no constitutional
justification for her impeachment. In an unexpected twist, the senators
voted 42 to 36 to allow Rousseff to maintain her political rights,
meaning she can continue to stand in elections and hold public office
in the future. Irate opposition senators vowed "to appeal to the
Supreme Court" to reverse the decision. Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment
ends 13 years of rule by the Workers’ Party in Brazil and brings to
power President Michel Temer for the remaining two years of Rousseff’s
term. Temer is deeply unpopular and currently under investigation
himself, accused of receiving illegal campaign contributions linked to
the state oil company Petrobras. We speak to James Green, professor of
Brazilian history and culture at Brown University. He is the director
of Brown’s Brazil Initiative. Green is the author of several books,
including "We Cannot Remain Silent: Opposition to the Brazilian
Military Dictatorship in the United States."
Yes, indeed: This seems a good summary of the
events in Brazil. There is also a good quotation of Rousseff:
They’ve just overthrown the first woman elected president of Brazil,
without there being any constitutional justification for this
impeachment. But the coup was not just carried out against me and my
party or the allied parties who support me today. This was just the
beginning. The coup is going to strike, without distinction, every
progressive and democratic political organization. ...
I fear that she is quite right, and
that soon leftists and any other opponents of Temer's government may be
arrested and tortured again. (Incidentally, if I
were Glenn Greenwald, I'd very seriously consider whether I
wanted to continue to live in Brazil.)
Here is one bit by James Green, who explains "a five point plan" to
restore Brazilian's rich right to power:
This is probably true, although this is the
first time I read about this "five point plan", while I also should say that the main thing the
Brazilian rich want is "a neoliberal economic
policy" - where "neoliberal" probably is a
AMY GOODMAN: What about the significance of
the ouster of the first woman president of Brazil, of Dilma Rousseff?
JAMES GREEN: Well, it’s really part of a
five-point plan that has been articulated by sectors of the
opposition—first to eliminate the president from her office; then to
find a way to make Lula, President Lula, ineligible for election in
2018 to the presidency; then to install a neoliberal economic policy;
to diminish and eliminate all of the social programs that have been
established in the last 13 years; and, finally, to turn back some of
the progressive social measures that have been fought for by the LGBTQ community, women, the black movement in
term for the neofascism (rule of the rich, rule of the
corporations, rule of profit) that is intended. 
And this is a good article, in which there is considerably more, and
that is recommended.
3. U.S. Army fudged
its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds
item is by Scot J. Paltrow on Reuters:
This starts as
Yes, indeed. And since I have been writing
about this before in Nederlog, I can add that - to the best of my
knowledge - this mock accounting started around 1996
and continued ever since: The US Army now gets over 50% of the money
the government gathers, but has not given any honest
and fair accounting or auditing for twenty years.
The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had
to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to
create an illusion that its books are balanced.
The Defense Department’s Inspector
General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful
adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and
$6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices
to support those numbers or simply made them up.
As a result, the Army’s financial
statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded.
The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD
and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting
systems when making management and resource decisions.”
Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the
latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense
Department for decades.
Here is some more:
The new report focused on the Army’s General Fund, the
bigger of its two main accounts, with assets of $282.6 billion in 2015.
The Army lost or didn’t keep required data, and much of the data it had
was inaccurate, the IG said.
“Where is the money going? Nobody knows,” said Franklin
Spinney, a retired military analyst for the Pentagon and critic of
Defense Department planning.
The significance of the accounting problem goes beyond
mere concern for balancing books, Spinney said. Both presidential
candidates have called for increasing defense spending amid current
An accurate accounting could reveal deeper problems in
how the Defense Department spends its money. Its 2016 budget is $573
billion, more than half of the annual budget appropriated by Congress.
Incidentally, Franklin Spinney is the same
man as the Chuck Spinney I mentioned repeatedly on August 29, and who also drew up
one of the schemes there.
There is considerably more in the article, but it does not draw
the conclusion I draw:
Since this has been going on for decades,
what this shows is simply that
4. Courting the Right, Smearing the
Left: The Ethos of the Clinton Campaign
the American Army, the Pentagon etc. is simply completely out of
any democratic or Congressional control, and is systematically
irresponsible and unaccountable, in the end because this makes it easier
to get what they want: There is and has been no effective
control nor any good auditing for a long time now.
item is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Throughout the 2016 Democratic primary,
left-wing critics of Hillary Clinton, including Bernie Sanders,
were repeatedly smeared as racists, sexists, and class-reductionists —
or some combination of the three — by surrogates of the former
Secretary of State, and by the former Secretary of State, herself.
Clinton and her team, for
instance, accused Sanders of making everything "about
an economic theory," claimed that
"black lives don't matter much to Bernie Sanders," and attempted
to paint Sanders as someone who "perpetuates
sexist and misogynistic stereotypes."
Yes. And clearly it all was propaganda for
Clinton, which also happened to be completely false. Not only
But even after Clinton emerged
victorious—indeed, even after Sanders (to the dismay of many of his
supporters) formally endorsed Clinton—the attacks continued, and, in
many ways, they intensified. Perhaps it won't surprise you that Joan
Walsh is still doing
her best to accuse "the anti-Clinton left" of "misogyny,
homophobia, [and] transphobia."
Joan Walsh appears to be one of the many rightist
degenerates who pretend
to be "leftist" while supporting the multi-millionaire Clinton and
blackening her opponents with the dirtiest and sickest "leftist" lies.
(Note that I consider this quite common for "leftists" these
days: They are not Leftist anymore in any real sense.)
Here are more who are very wrong
bad according to the sick and lying propagandists
for Clinton (though
Kirchick appears to be a conservative liar and propagandist):
Among those apparently deserving of the
label "progressive Trump fan" are Glenn Greenwald, Rania
Khalek, Zaid Jilani, Julian Assange, Jill Stein, and Katrina vanden
Heuvel, all of whom, according to Kirchick, are "captive to a crude and
The one sin that unites these
progressive commentators, journalists, and political figures with Trump
is, in other words, that they all dare to question the morality of
America's use of force abroad.
There is considerably more in the article,
that ends as follows:
Rhetoric aside, the party Clinton seems
intent upon constructing is far from a "party of the people." Rather,
it is a party of the managerial class, a party of establishment hawks,
a party of the self-styled "good
billionaires." And it is a party that is, at its core, hostile
to the ambitious aims of the nation's progressive movements.
If we take Clinton's messaging seriously,
perhaps it couldn't be otherwise. "There's an old Mexican proverb that
says 'Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are,"
Clinton said in
her much-lauded speech on the alt-right.
The question that should follow is an
essential one: Who, then, is a candidate who counts
Henry Kissinger among her friends and mentors and celebrates
the endorsements of Republican billionaires and neoconservatives?
And what does a party that touts such characters ultimately stand for?
Whatever it is, it isn't democracy, it
isn't justice, and it isn't progress.
Yes. And I agree Hillary Clinton now leads
a Democratic Party that is mostly like the Republicans were, whereas
Trump heads a Republican Party that is neofascist. I suppose this
illustrates the "shift to the right".
Also, I would never vote for
Clinton nor call for voting for Clinton, if it were not for the fact
that I regard her opponent as both mad, a racist and a neofascist, and
as a very great danger to mankind.
But then that is were American
politics is right now: Choosing between a candidate of the rich right
who poses as a progressive but is as conservative
5. Burkini Bans, New Atheism and State Worship: Noam
Chomsky on Religion in Politics
as a Republican, or a candidate of the rich right who is insane and a
and last item today is by C.J. Polychroniou and Lily Sage on Truth-out:
This starts as follows - and I like to
mention that I have been following earlier interviews of Noam Chomsky
by C.J. Polychroniou, and always found them well done and instructive.
This article starts as follows:
Religion and politics have often
marched hand-in-hand in the course of human affairs. In this latest
interview, leading public intellectual and father of modern linguistics
Noam Chomsky shares his views about religion and its link to politics,
with particular reference to American society and the Israeli/
Palestinian conflict. Chomsky also offers his perspective on the "New
Atheism" movement and assesses the claim that knowledge and reality are
simply socially constructed artifacts.
I have selected some bits, but there is a lot
more in the interview, and I have skipped a lot (you can read by
clicking the last dotted link).
First, here is Chomsky on spiritualism and religion:
Do you believe in the spiritual
factor behind religion or find something useful in it?
For me, personally, no. I think
irrational belief is a dangerous phenomenon and I try to avoid it. On
the other hand, I recognize that it's a significant part of the lives
of others, with mixed effects.
I completely agree.
Next, here is something on propaganda of
the "left" - that I, who is a Leftist son from Leftist parents and
Leftist grandparents, completely reject as real
A drumbeat of propaganda on how "we are
good" and "they are evil," with constant exercises of self-admiration
and abuse of others, can hardly fail to have an impact on perception of
Examples abound, but merely to
illustrate the common pattern, take a current example from the peak of
the intellectual culture: Samantha Power's August 18 article in the New York Review of Books.
Without any relevant qualification or comment, the author presents
Henry Kissinger's sage reflections on "America's tragic flaw": namely,
"believing that our principles are universal principles, and seeking to
extend human rights far beyond our nation's borders... 'No nation...
has ever imposed the moral demands on itself that America has. And no
country has so tormented itself over the gap between its moral values,
which are by definition absolute, and the imperfection inherent in the
concrete situations to which they must be applied.'"
And this is not talk radio, but a leading journal of left-liberal
Incidentally, the first paragraph
illustrates that Orwell's ideas about totalitarianism
have been embraced by "leftists" - in the sense that they
are now as totalitarian as the right, and lying as much and
And the rest shows that "left-liberal
intellectuals" are neither Left nor Liberal: They may
be sick liars who embrace a rightist monster like Kissinger.
Here is another good point by Chomsky
about the distinction between facts and values:
The idea of neutral objectivity is at
best misleading and often fraudulent. We cannot help but approach
complex and controversial questions -- especially those of human
significance -- with a definite point of view, with an ax to grind if
you like, and that ax should be apparent right up front so that those
we address can see where we are coming from in our choice and
interpretation of the events of history.
Yes, I agree.
That is: I also insist that facts are not
because facts are supposed to be so in the real world, whereas
values are some person's appreciations - liked and dislikes -
of both facts and non-facts. But I agree that any problem that is
significant to humans for that reason also invites values (of
possibly many distinct kinds) that inform how humans will
react and think about these problems. And you cannot exclude these
values without invalidating your enquiry, whatever it is: to be human
is to think and to value.
Finally, here is Chomsky on burkinis (and I completely
I don't think there should be laws
forcing women to remove veils or preferred clothes when swimming.
Secular values should, I think, be honored; among them, respect for
individual choice, as long as it does not harm others. Secular values
that should be respected are undermined when state power intrudes in
areas that should be matters of personal choice. If Hassidic Jews
choose to dress in black cloaks, white shirts and black hats, with hair
in orthodox style and with religious garb, that's not the state's
business. Same when a Muslim woman decides to wear a scarf or go
swimming in a "burkini."
There is a lot more in the interview that