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Nederlog

Oct 5, 2016

Crisis: Trump Presidency, Assange, Media Manipulation, Yahoo Spied, Sanders
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
A Trump Presidency Could End Press Freedom
2. Assange Promises ‘Significant’ Leak Before Election,
     Urges Journalists to Lend a Hand

3. ‘Black Ops Advertising’ Dissects the Rise of Media
     Manipulation for Corporate Profit

4. 'Shameful': Yahoo Spied on Email Customers at
     Government's Request

5. Four Reasons to Say "NO" to Donald Trump
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the freedom of the press: I agree with it, but I also think that the New York Times these days is not a good example of what the free press is supposed to be (while it wants to be taken seriously, as "free press"); item 2 is about WikiLeaks, though the present announcement is merely an announcement of things to come; item 3 is about the fact (as I see it) that computers and computing have become the prime instrument of massive secret spying by both dataminers and secret services, and threaten to make the neofascist secret spying on everyone everywhere the norm; item 4 is about Yahoo, that simply searched all emails send through it to find whether it contained any of the strings the secret services wanted it to find, as if the Fourth Amendment never was an element of the Bill of Rights; and item 5 is about an article by Bernie Sanders, who - once again - explains why you should vote for Clinton even if you despise her: The alternative is voting for a neofascist fraud and phony.


-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will. ("xs4all" did OK for one - 1 - day, and then reverted to showing very old openings, also at a wrong place, while I had to click several times to see any new file I had added.)

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

---


1. A Trump Presidency Could End Press Freedom

The first item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
Donald Trump has threatened to sue The New York Times for publishing leaked pages from his tax returns, and the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, said he would do so even if it meant risking jail time. We speak with two investigative journalists who report on Trump’s taxes and describe his legal threats in letters and phone calls, and their reaction. "Mr. Trump, especially given the positions he’s staked out ... would represent a really significant threat to the tradition of an independent free press in the United States," says David Barstow of The New York Times. "I think Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the liberties of the people, to the idea of the First Amendment," agrees David Cay Johnston, now a columnist for The Daily Beast.
I agree with Barstow and Johnson. In fact, I also think Trump represents other clear dangers to the freedoms, the rights and the incomes of most Americans,
but let's for the moment concentrate on "the free press", which was supposed- ly defended by the First Amendment, that does give special attention to the press.

Then again, I should also say that I do not
think that the present New York Times is a good example of a really free press, while I just don't know about the Daily Beast (for I haven't looked much at it).

Here is Barstow of the Times followed by Johnston on the Daily Beast:

AMY GOODMAN: So, the Trump Organization has threatened to sue you, David Barstow, and the Times?

DAVID BARSTOW: They have. They’ve taken, actually, I think, a really remarkable position with us. The letter that they sent to us before we published took the position that unless we had the specific blessing and permission of Donald Trump to write a story about his tax returns, we would be in violation of the law. It was almost—I mean, the notion of prior restraint on the press has been—has been roundly dismissed in Supreme Court decision after Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court has ruled over and over and over again that if reporters obtain documents in the way we obtained them, we have a perfect right under the First Amendment to publish information that’s in the public interest.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: And this goes directly, by the way, to why Donald Trump isn’t getting the critical coverage he should be getting. He called me at home on April 27th to threaten to sue me. Some of the freelance articles that I have written were lawyered way beyond all reason, out of fear. And I’ve had two news organizations say, "We can’t report that, because we’re afraid that Donald Trump will sue us." This is an extraordinary thing for a politician to do. And the Supreme Court in this country has been very clear back to the 19th century that the highest and most protected form of speech is political speech. And this is all about—falls under the rubric of political speech.

I think Barstow is obviously right in saying that the New York Times has the right to publish these documents, and he seems also correct in saying that Trump seems to have set himself up as the supreme censor about anything that concerns Trump: He has to approve, and if he doesn't approve, then nothing should be published about Trump.

In addition, I think Johnston is very probably quite right about the fact that by now there are quite a few news organizations (Johnston mentions two, but there may be quite a few more) that already apply Trumpian rules of self-censorship to their own publications about Trump, on the lines of "We can’t report that, because we’re afraid that Donald Trump will sue us."

Then again, I should also say that (1) the present Supreme Court is quite unlike previous Supreme Courts, and has made major political decisions that
only favor the rich, like "Citizens United", while it also (2) has given several articles from the Bill of Rights, notably the First and the Fourth Amendment, totally implausible interpretations that favored the rich, and the rich only.

So while I do not wish to say all of the present Supreme Court seems to be
serving the rich, I think a majority often does, and does so for political and not for legal reasons.

Therefore I am not at all certain that this Supreme Court will take a similar position as the previous Supreme Courts have done, for the last 130 years or so, precisely because of the two numbered reasons above.

Here is a last bit by Johnston, who warns that Trump is not an ordinary presidential candidate, and that he speaks and seems to think as if the president "is a dictator" "who doesn’t need to pay attention to Congress or to the courts", and who also seems to be mostly driven by his desires to revenge himself on anyone who has thwarted him:

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: David, if he gets elected, he will have the power of federal law enforcement. I’m not worried if he threatens to sue me, as he has, if he loses. But if he wins, he could put you and I and Dean Baquet on no-fly lists. And the courts have been very reluctant to let people off those, if the government claims national security. He can do all sorts of things to mess up your life. And he’s made it clear he will do this. He talks as if the president is a dictator with unlimited power, who doesn’t need to pay attention to Congress or to the courts. He’s talked of firing generals. And the first thing someone does who plans to turn a republic into a dictatorship is they fire those general officers who are loyal to country and replace them with people loyal to him. And in my book, I quote Donald at length, in several forums, as saying what matters to him is getting revenge—that’s his philosophy: get revenge; even though he says he’s Christian, get revenge—and absolute loyalty to him, the person. That’s what these threats of litigation should really concern the voters about.

Yes. There is rather a lot more in the article. Once again, I do have a problem with the New York Times, in that I do not think the present New York Times is a good example of a really free press.

2. Assange Promises ‘Significant’ Leak Before Election, Urges Journalists to Lend a Hand

The second item is by Emma Niles on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

Another trove of secret documents will soon be released by the notorious whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks.

In a Berlin news conference Tuesday morning, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that over the next 10 weeks the website will release documents pertaining to U.S. foreign policy, Google and the U.S. electoral system.

“We hope to be publishing every week for the next 10 weeks,” Assange explained, speaking via video link to a news conference audience. “We have on schedule—and it’s a very hard schedule—all the U.S. election-related documents to come out before November 8. Upcoming series include significant material on war, on arms, on oil, on Google, on the U.S. election and on mass surveillance.”

I say. I have no idea what will be in WikiLeaks planned release of documents and in fact I am myself most interested in the materials about mass surveillance and Google, but I agree these are my personal interests.

Also WikiLeaks has problems:

Assange then moved on to the coming leaks. “The material that WikiLeaks is going to publish before the end of the year is of a significant moment,” he said.

He acknowledged the problems WikiLeaks faces, particularly a shortage of staff and resources. “We are going to need an army to defend us from the pressure that is already starting to arise,” he said. Those pressures, he continued, were largely directed against his asylum status in Ecuador’s London embassy, where he has lived since June of 2012.

Additionally, Assange said WikiLeaks requires more media connections. In order to get the new material out, the organization needs journalists to reach out, he said. “Journalists who are interested in [these] subjects, please write to press@wikileaks.org.”

And this was not - yet - the news from WikiLeaks that Julian Assange promised. But I am curious.

3. ‘Black Ops Advertising’ Dissects the Rise of Media Manipulation for Corporate Profit

The third item is by Mara Einstein on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

Click a button and we can read the New York Times or watch our favorite TV show or stream the latest movie. Submit a query to Google and a world of knowledge appears on the screen, albeit algorithmically delimited. Newspaper or magazine, TV or movie, fact, tidbit, or commentary, no matter how big or small, how significant or trivial: it’s all available at our fingertips, and it’s all absolutely free.

This is the perception we have been lulled into believing. It is time to wake up. There is no free lunch, free movie, news report, or factoid. We are paying and paying dearly.

We pay with our time and our attention—a scarce and valuable resource in the twenty-first century—and the coin of the realm in today’s “attention economy.”

We pay by being forced to engage with what has become an unending stream of advertising blurred to be indistinguishable from legitimate news stories, leading to the utter skewing of our sense of reality. We pay by providing our personal data to marketers, who then use that data to sell us an increasing array of products “specifically targeted to us” by manipulating and whipsawing our emotions.

We pay by turning our relationships into monetizable opportunities, making personal interactions into market transactions, and remaining in a constant state of buying or selling, albeit one that’s been prettied up to look like sharing and making “friends.” Exaggeration? I don’t think so.
Yes, I suppose this does describe the average "we" that these days form "the internet". Then again, I differ from "we", and I also don't quite agree with the above.

First, it simply is not true that the internet is "
all absolutely free": I need to pay a telephone and a subscription to "xs4all" [2] and that takes at least 60 euros a month (which I have to pay from the 1000 euros pension I get). And I also had to pay for the computer and its associated tools (a monitor etc.)

I agree Mara Einstein says so as well, but she seems to think that "we" only "
pay with our time and our attention", and that simply is false: I do pay a - for my very small income - considerable sum of money each month simply to use parts of internet.

Second, I hate advertising and I hate propaganda for at least 55 years now [3], and I avoid them as much as I can, which means i.a. that I do not use Google at all, except for Youtube; I do not use Facebook at all; I do not use Twitter at all; and also I do not pay anything by computer, firstly because I have very little money, and secondly because I still (after 20 years of using internet) do not trust the internet at all: I stay away from it apart from a browser and an email-reader, and I just do not want more internet than I have (which is far less than most).

No matter where we turn in this digitally “enhanced” world, our agency—our personal ability to act freely and independently—is being quashed. We can’t choose the type of content we want to watch or read; we can’t represent who we are; we are emotionally manipulated in the name of corporate profit. This is what marketers call consumer empowerment. I heartily disagree.
Again yes and no, although indeed my answers are personal, in that I have meanwhile learned that (1) computing and computers are being very actively abused by both commercial entities, data miners, and secret services to find out everything about any user of a computer that is connected to the internet, and that (2) - as Mara Einstein says - "we are emotionally manipulated in the name of corporate profit. This is what marketers call consumer empowerment" - except that I am not allowing myself to contribute anything to corporate profits, except for buying computers and for minimal internet access, while I know that all marketeers constantly lie, and what they call "consumer empowerment" I call enslavement of naive users (for the dataminers and secret services know everything about you, in secret, and can, also in secret, manipulate you as they please).

Here is some more by Mara Einstein:
So the advertising model you hated on television now exists online, only it’s worse. While you might not have liked commercials breaking up your favorite TV show, ads now follow you around the Internet instead, moving from your computer to your iPad to your cell phone. Along the way, myriad companies are collecting more and more data about you without your even knowing it, though you may suspect it is happening and don’t like it.

And the advertising is no longer obvious, so you’re never quite sure if you’re getting news or some sort of biased claptrap. With TV, you were anonymous and you knew when you were watching a commercial. Not anymore. Today that cute animal video might be an ad for a mobile phone company, and that article about cocaine use turns out to be an ad for Netflix.
Again, I suppose she is fair about the average computer user, who seems to have done everything to enslave himself or herself.

Then again, I don't have a TV since 46 years and don't want one; I don't have an iPad and don't want one; I don't have a cell phone and I don't want one; I don't use Facebook and hate and despise it; I don't use Twitter and hate and despise it (and these days also quickly switch off "journalism" that is mostly composed from Tweets); and I hate and despise absolutely anyone who tries to find any data about me that I did not formally approve to give: I think all data miners and all secret services are part and parcel of what I call neofascism.

But I also know that meanwhile I am 66 and that I belong to a very small minority who does not want to be enrolled automatically into the neofascist systems of the secret services (any service, anywhere) and the neofascist systems
(any system, anywhere) of the dataminers.

Most ordinary people these days seem to embrace their enslavers, indeed in considerable part because they are both not intelligent and have been and are being massively deceived by professional frauds with far more power over them than anyone ever had.

This is a recommended article.

4. 'Shameful': Yahoo Spied on Email Customers at Government's Request

The fourth item today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
In an astounding and "unprecedented" new account of U.S. government surveillance, Reuters reported Tuesday that Yahoo secretly scanned all of its customer's incoming emails for a specific set of characters, per request of the National Security Agency (NSA) or FBI.

The news agency broke the investigation after speaking with "two former employees and a third person apprised of the events," who described how the email giant complied with the vast government directive and built a custom software program to scan hundreds of millions of accounts for a "specific set of characters."

The classified directive was reportedly sent to the company's legal team last year. "It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters," Reuters reported. "That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified."

I say! The state's terrorists want to search for something in the mails of all users of Yahoo, and hey presto: Yahoo spies on all the emails that all its customer sent through it, as if there is no Fourth Amendment and as if secret services have the right to know anything about anyone, also without informing anyone of anything, and to compile enormous dossiers about the values, ideas, texts, buyings, finances and everything else that these days may be secretively gleaned from anyone.

Here is what Amnesty International thinks about Yahoo's neofascist betrayals of trust, followed by what the
American Civil Liberties Union thinks about it:

Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of technology and human rights at Amnesty International, minced no words when he declared
that, "If true, this news will greatly undermine trust in the internet. For a company to secretly search all incoming email of all its customers in a response to a broad government directive would be a blow to privacy and a serious threat to freedom of expression."

"If true," he continued, "this would demonstrate the failure of U.S. government reforms to curb NSA's tendency to try and indiscriminately vacuum up the world's data. The NSA has clearly not changed its spots."

And Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the order issued "appears to be unprecedented and unconstitutional."

"The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicion-less search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit," he said in a press statement.

I agree, except that I think myself that (1) both dataminers and secret services have been compiling all the data they could get about anyone anywhere for 15 years now, without almost any legal restraint, in
spite of the Fourth Amendment and the Bill of Rights, and that (2) both data-
miners and secret services have been very much helped by the American
government
, that also likes to know everyone's values, everyone's ideas,
everyone's texts and emails, everyone's picture, everyone's income, and -
in brief - everything they can get, by whatever means, from anyone living anywhere.

The article ends as follows:

"This is a clear sign that people can trust neither their government nor their service providers to respect their privacy," added Elsayed-Ali. "Free speech online, and in society in general, cannot thrive in a world where governments can pry into our private lives at will."

Yes, but to the best of my kowledge governments spy and pry at will into the private lives of everyone, for a full 15 years now, without being stopped in any way by anyone, except by a few organizations like Amnesty and American Civil Liberties, most of whose legal arguments are completely neglected by the government and the secret services, and are usually denied even a hearing by the present Supreme Court.

This is a recommended article.

5. Four Reasons to Say "NO" to Donald Trump

The fifth and last item today is by Bernie Sanders on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Too much of the media is looking at this presidential race as if it were a “Dancing With the Stars” contest, a World Series or the Super Bowl. It’s not.

As people well know Hillary Clinton and I had some very vigorous debates during the Democratic nominating process and we certainly do not agree on every issue. Nonetheless, there is no question in my mind that she is, far and away, the superior candidate in this election. That is why I intend to work as hard as I can to see that she is elected.

Here are four reasons why I support Clinton over Trump.

Yes, indeed. I will display parts of the reasons below, but first like to say that I am getting pretty sick by now by all manner of fools who insist that "they cannot vote for Hilary Clinton".

I am totally uninterested in your bullshit: The issue is not who you can or cannot vote for, in your opinion: the issue is that you do not wish to vote against a neofascist, a fraud, a liar, a fool and a phony, because you pretend that your purity prevents you from voting for someone who is far
less bad.

Next, here are the reasons Bernie Sanders gives for him to support Hilary Clinton:

One: At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, we must not elect a president who wants to resurrect the failed trickle-down economics of the past. When the very rich are becoming much richer and there has been a 10-fold increase in the number of billionaires since the year 2000, it is economic insanity to propose, as Trump has, hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the top 1 percent. His proposal to scrap the estate tax would provide a $53 billion tax break to the wealthiest family in America, the Waltons of Wal-Mart. And guess who else would benefit? Trump’s proposal would provide a $4 billion tax break to Trump’s own family.
Yes: Trump is a greedy rich fraud out to make the few rich far richer, at the costs of the many poor.
Two: Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already creating devastating problems in our country and around the world. Unbelievably, despite the virtually- unanimous consensus of the scientific community that climate change is the greatest environmental crisis our planet faces, Donald Trump believes that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by China.
Yes: Somebody who pretends climate change is a hoax is himself (or herself) a total hoax.
Three: Our nation has struggled for centuries to combat racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Sadly, Trump has made bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.
Yes: Trump is a bigot (and a racist, and a sexist, and a neofascist).
Four: Almost every objective observer has concluded that Donald Trump has taken lies and distortions to a whole new level. I don’t often quote Mitt Romney, but the former Republican presidential candidate was right when he called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony.”
Again, yes indeed.

And I repeat again that those who refuse to vote against Trump are voting for neofascism.

This is a recommended article.

---------------
Notes
[1]  Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all"destroy (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] In 1996, when I got internet, I did become a member of the real xs4all.nl. But this was bought between 1998 and 2000 by the Dutch Telecom that is called KPN, that copied all its propaganda, but had absolutely none of its gifts. I have been propagandized by "xs4all" (really: KPN) for something like 16 years now and I very much dislike it because it all was only false propaganda, lies and drivel. The only reason I do not go to another company is that in Holland all internet providers seem equally awful.

[3] Yes, indeed: The first individual political thing I did was when I was 9 and started to discuss with a friend (as old as I was) about the fact that we could see at least three advertisements for gin on the street where I lived, while we both knew that every Friday, which was payday then, we saw - in early 1960, for this is when I was 9 - many drunks go home. I then wanted to know why adults advertised for products they knew were bad for people. (Answer, which I did not arrive at when 9: Because they care for their own profits far more than for the damage they do.)

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