Dec 7, 2016

Crisis: Noam Chomsky, War Powers, "Terrorism", Anti-Trump Protests
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Noam Chomsky Warns of Literal Threats to Our Survival
2. After 8 Years of Expanding Presidential War Powers,
     Obama Insists They Are Limited

3. Tech, Social Media Giants Create Task Force to Identify
     and Delete Online Terrorist Content

4. Paper Owned by Trump's Son-In-Law Runs Alarming
    Op-Ed Calling for FBI Crackdown on Anti-Trump Protests

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 7, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links and it consists (mostly) of some further deliberations on the meanings of Trump's election as president of the USA:

Item 1
is about Noam Chomsky and the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now!; item 2 is about Obama's words about "limited war powers", as contrasted with his deeds; item 3 is about a very dangerous decision by four of the worst computer corporations that they will censor (on undisclosed grounds) what they consider "terrorism"; while item 4 shows that very soon "terrorism" may be identified in the USA with being leftish or opposing Trump or having opinions Trump's son in law doesn't like.

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in November 2016. But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. Since then it mostly wasn't.

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: This was so-so till 18.xi and was correct since then (most or all days).

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.The Mafia State

1. Noam Chomsky Warns of Literal Threats to Our Survival

The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

On Monday night, Democracy Now! celebrated its 20th anniversary at the historic Riverside Church in New York City. Among those who addressed more than 2,000 attendants was world-renowned linguistic Noam Chomsky, who spoke about the two most dangerous threats the human species faces today: the possibility of nuclear war and the accelerating destruction of human-fueled climate change.

The celebration was on December 5, and there is a considerable number of articles on Democracy Now! that relate to it. I recommend you go to Democracy Now! and check them out.

I'll just give three quotations from Noam Chomsky, the first two because they provide interesting background, and the last because it provides a warning about the basic threats to human existence.

Here is the first bit, that concerns the money power [3] of the USA:

By conventional measures, in 1945, the United States had reached the peak of global dominance—nothing like it in history. It had perhaps 50 percent of total world’s wealth. Other industrial countries were devastated or destroyed by the war, severely damaged. The U.S. economy had gained enormously from the war, and it was in—and the U.S., in general, had a position of dominance with no historical parallel. Well, that, of course, couldn’t last. Other industrial countries reconstructed. By around 1970, the world was described as tripolar: three major economic centers—a German-based Europe, a U.S.-based North America and the Northeast Asian area, at that time Japan-based, now China had moved in as a partner, conflict then partner. By now—by that time, U.S. share in global wealth was about 25 percent. And today it’s not far below that.

Note that the USA had around 50% of the total wealth in 1945 and 25% in 1970, where it still is (46 years later!). Then again, this is also quite misleading, as Chomsky proceeds to point out:

Well, all of this is highly misleading, because it fails to take into account a crucial factor, which is almost never discussed, though there’s some interesting work on it. That’s the question of ownership of the world economy. If you take a look at the corporate—the multinational corporations around the world, what do they own? Well, that turns out to be a pretty interesting matter. In virtually every—this increasingly during the period of neoliberal globalization of the last generation, corporate wealth is becoming a more realistic measure of global power than national wealth. Corporate wealth, of course, is nationally based, supported by taxpayers like us, but the ownership has nothing to do with us. Corporate ownership, if you look at that, it turns out that in virtually every economic sector—manufacturing, finance, services, retail and others—U.S. corporations are well in the lead in ownership of the global economy. And overall, their ownership is close to 50 percent of the total. That’s roughly the proportion of U.S. national wealth in 1945 (...)

I am quite well aware of that distinction, since quite a long time also, and indeed made it the crucial difference between fascism (that is state directed) and neofascism (that is corporation directed). My definitions are in note [2] below, and all I add here is that both fascism and neofascism are the political expressions of economic interests, and that the USA was not fascistic in 1945 (nor neofascistic). [4]

Here is the final bit of Noam Chomsky that I'll quote:

The threats and dangers are very real. There are plenty of opportunities. And as we face them, again, particularly the younger people among you, we should never overlook the fact that the threats that we now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns. They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on November 8th, for the reasons you know and that I mentioned. They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.

Yes, the dangers of nuclear war and environmental catastrophe are extremely serious - and have considerably increased with the madman Donald Trump as the next president of the USA.

2. After 8 Years of Expanding Presidential War Powers, Obama Insists They Are Limited

The second item is by Alex Emmons on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Anticipating that Donald Trump might try to fulfill his promises to “bomb the shit” out of terror groups and do a “hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” President Obama released a report on Monday summarizing his administration’s views of the legal barriers and policies limiting the president’s military power.
I should say immediately that I do not like Barack Obama at all. The main reason is that I found, first in 2009 and many times repeated since, that what he says often is quite reasonable, and is brought well, and with considerable charm, but what he does tends to be something quite different.

This is no exception and indeed Alex Emmons seems to be aware of something similar:

But in trying to defend Obama’s legacy, the report paints a picture of an administration far more restrained than it was in practice.

The report comes just weeks before Trump will inherit bombing campaigns in seven countries, a legally unaccountable drone program, and an open prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The new report is the latest in a series of public steps Obama has recently taken to give the appearance of reining his war powers. Over the summer, for instance, the White House released its internal guidelines for drone strikes outside of war zones and issued a new executive order calling for more transparency on casualties going forward.

But both documents could be revoked by a stroke of the next president’s pen – a fact that CIA Director John Brennan admitted at an event in July.

Indeed: The report "paints a picture" (that is far too rosy), and "tries to give the appearance" (of reigning in Obama's war powers), but even if it does something
to give that appearance, Trump can revoke them in six weeks time.

And here is a fine example of what Obama says, in the first paragraph below, and what Obama does, in the second paragraph:

Obama dramatically escalated the use of drones to kill alleged terrorists far away from recognized warzones. In an October interview with New York Magazine, Obama noted that his executive reforms to the drone program were motivated by concern he would hand off a killing program with no oversight or controls. “You end up with a president who can carry on perpetual wars all over the world, and a lot of them covert, without any accountability or democratic debate,” said Obama.

But more quietly, Obama has continued to expand the power of the president to wage covert war. The Washington Post reported last month that Obama was elevating Joint Special Operations Command – the government’s high-level team for global killing missions – into a “ new multiagency intelligence and action force,” with expanded power to launch attacks on terrorist groups around the world.

And here is more of the same:

The report outlines additional legal safeguards the Obama administration claims it applied before it killed American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki – the only American citizen who it says was hit by a “specific, targeted strike.” The report does not mention the other seven U.S. citizens who were killed by drones.

The report boasts that American citizens have due process rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendment no matter where they are, and cautions the Trump administration to take Constitutional rights into consideration when “assessing whether it is lawful to target the individual.”

But the Obama administration has consistently fought to undermine those Constitutional protections. For instance, it has argued that citizens cannot go to court to challenge their place on a government kill list, and courts have no role to play in oversight after a strike has taken place.

That is:

The first paragraph claims there was one killed American, while in fact there were seven more; the second quotes the Fourth and Fifth Amendment, but doesn't mention that the Fourth Amendment has now been raped consistently for 15 years: Everybody (with an internet connection) meanwhile has been made part of secret dossiers [5], whereas according to the Fourth Amendment only very few should be.

And the Fifth Amendment (<-Wikipedia) which is this:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

is utterly falsified as regards (at least) the bolded parts, for example in Guantánamo. Incidentally, as to the bolded words, here is a small part of the Wikipedia article on the Fifth Amendment:

Historically, the legal protection against compelled self-incrimination was directly related to the question of torture for extracting information and confessions.

And the third of the above quoted paragraphs is quite right in saying that "the Obama administration has consistently fought to undermine those Constitutional protections" (that Obama now recommends to Trump).

So all I see in one of the last attempts of the Obama administration is more evidence that the words of Obama are one thing, but his deeds tend to be quite different.

3. Tech, Social Media Giants Create Task Force to Identify and Delete Online Terrorist Content

The third item is b
y Kimi Robinson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have embarked on an online crusade against the spread of terrorist organizations’ messages. According to a joint press release published Tuesday, the four tech companies have entered into a partnership to share information about content posted on their respective sites that has been deemed “online terrorist content.”

“Starting today, we commit to the creation of a shared industry database of ‘hashes’—unique digital ‘fingerprints’—for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services,” states the press release, which can be found on Facebook’s website.

Facebook, Twitter, Google (Youtube) and Microsoft are about the worst computer corporations to start censorship on their own, but now they do, and - as usual - their excuse is "terrorism".

What they understand by "terrorism" is their own secret, and who (or what "algorithm" [6]) will "deem" such and such is "online terrorist content" is also left in the dark, to the best of my knowledge.

I am totally against it, in the first place because these are privately owned companies who should have no right to commit censorship, and in the second place because these four companies are the enemies of everybody who is really for freedom, for honesty, for integrity and against stealing information from computer users.

Here is some more on the proposals of these four horrible corporations:

The companies will allegedly not be in partnership with government entities, according to the news publication Quartz. “The database will not accept hashes flagged by governments and law enforcement,” Quartz reports. “Governments would need to submit formal requests for information maintained in it as they would for any other content inquiries.”

So presumably the censorship will be done by these privately owned corporations, and will be done for unknown reasons, by unknown anonymous persons, or unknown and secret computer code.

Here is more on their plans to extensively and privately remove everything they censored by their private and secret rules:

The tech companies will share the unique hashes “of the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services—content most likely to violate all our respective companies’ content policies.” Each company can then locate content by the same user on their respective sites and delete anything that violates their policies in order to “curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online.” The definition of what constitutes “terrorist content” will vary by company.

And "terrorist content" may very well be what the company doesn't like, e.g. publications of views they disagree with, for example from the non-mainstream media - which then may be removed without a trace because some anonymous person (or some secret code) in one of these companies doesn't like the views.

In brief: This is a horrible idea that gives far too much totally undescribed powers to these anyway horrible corporations
, that are horrible because all of them steal private information from and about their users.

In case you don't worry, read the next and last article I review today:

4. Paper Owned by Trump's Son-In-Law Runs Alarming Op-Ed Calling for FBI Crackdown on Anti-Trump Protests

The fourth item is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

The New York Observer, a newspaper owned by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, published an opinion piece Friday calling for the FBI to launch a coordinated crackdown on nationwide anti-Trump protests, mobilizations and recount efforts.

Titled “Comey’s FBI Needs to Investigate Violent Democratic Tantrums,” the article was written by Austin Bay, a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel and adjunct professor at the University of Texas in Austin.

Note that according to Bay's article "anti-Trump protests, mobilizations and recount efforts" are "violent (..) tantrums", and therefore very easily may be classified as "terrorism", which in turn would sanction that anybody who has a site that calls for "anti-Trump protests" or "recount efforts" may see his site
disappear as detailed in section 3 above.

Here are Bay's dangerous opinions:

Bay’s opinion piece appeals to FBI director James Comey to “conduct a detailed investigation into the violence and political thuggery that continue to mar the presidential election’s aftermath,” including a “thorough probe of the protests—to include possible ties to organizations demanding vote recounts.”

“The hard left’s violent reaction to Donald Trump’s election is vile and dangerous,” writes Bay. “Peaceful protests? No, the demonstrators vandalize and destroy. They have two goals: intimidating people and sustaining the mainstream media lie that Donald Trump is dangerous.”

And here is why these opinions are very dangerous:

Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, the media watchdog magazine of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, told AlterNet that Bay's op-ed is one of the most disturbing things he has seen since the election. “To have the incoming ruler’s son-in-law using his paper to call for the federal police to investigate protests against the ruler, that is pretty far gone,” he said. “It struck me as a ‘first they came for the communists’ moment.”

“He ties up this conspiracy of protesters, people seeking recounts and George Soros into one vast conspiracy that the FBI ought to get to the bottom of,” Naureckas continued. “It shows you the outlines of how you would justify a complete crackdown on dissent. It’s frightening.”

Yes indeed. And this is before Trump is president. Incidentally, as to ‘first they came' (<- Wikipedia) etc. This refers to a quotation of a

"poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Many variations and adaptations in the spirit of the original have been published in the English language."

There are indeed several versions, and it seems not known what the original was, that may have started with the communists (and indeed the communists and the Jews were among the first who were arrested, harassed and locked up in concentration camps in 1933).

Here is the version on Wikipedia:

Back to the article. Here is finally another warning:

Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, told AlterNet that the demonstrations that the New York Observer article took aim at “are constitutionally protected exercises in free speech.” He warned that, “Combined with the recent bipartisan legislation in Congress to crack down on pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses, this may presage a serious crackdown on civil liberties in the coming years.”

I agree.

[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months verynow. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (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).

I am saying this not because I want to offend but because I want to explain, and my own explanatory definition of neofascism is this:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

Also, I am rather certain that most (not: all) of those who style themselved as "neoliberals" in fact are neofascists as defined (even though they probably do not like the term).

And this is fascism as I defined it:
Fascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror, that propounds an ethics founded on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian, rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
See the following if you are interested: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. (This lists 22 definitions of the term "fascism", and critically reflects on them.)

[3] Money and power are very closely connected: The more money you have, the more power you can get; the more power you have, the easier it is to get more money.

[4] I don't think there was a dominant fascist or neofascist movement in the USA at least till 1980, though it should be mentioned that there was some
totalitarianism (McCarthy); there were anti-communist wars (Korea, Vietnam); and there also were quite illegal proceedings by the CIA and other secret agencies that mostly helped the right (e.g. Chili) in South America, especially.

[5] I do not have a strict proof that there now is a (computerized) dossier for everyone with an internet computer or a cellphone, but this is mostly because those who made these dossiers for more than 15 years now are and have been operating in secret. But I think it is very highly probable this is the case, and for evidence you can read the over 1400 files in the
crisis index (or some of them).

[6] Incidentally, I really dislike the term "algorithm". The correct English term is "computer program" (<- Wikipedia) or simply "program".

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