Dec 31, 2016

Crisis: "Russian Hacking", Climate Research, Trump, Fake News, No End-Of-Year
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Experts Aren’t Convinced by FBI and Homeland Security
     Report on Alleged Russian Hacking

2. Scientists Scramble to Protect Decades of Climate
     Research Before Trump Takes Office

3. As Resistance Grows, Trump's Deportation Plans

4. The Way to Fight Fake News Is Real News
5. The missing end-of-year routine on Nederlog

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, December 31, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is (once again) about the hacking the Russians are supposed to have done (as before, I say there is no evidence); item 2 is about climate scientists and others who are trying to save the data Obama's government put on line (before these disappear); item 3 is about Trump's deportation plans; item 4 is about fake news and real news (but the article is not very good), and item 5 is about the end-of-the-year routine that now is mostly missing, since I have been denied
all numbers for both sites I have (together with over 1 GB of data, that I am not allowed to know anything about now).

-- 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 (until and including 30.xii).

Experts Aren’t Convinced by FBI and Homeland Security Report on Alleged Russian HackingIn 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. [0]

In case you visit my Danish site: This was so-so till 18.xi
and was correct since then (most or all days), but not on 25.xii: Then it moved back to 2015 (!!).

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. Experts Aren’t Convinced by FBI and Homeland Security Report on Alleged Russian Hacking

The first item today is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a summary of their inquiry into the alleged hacking of Democratic Party servers during the 2016 elections by groups working at the behest of the Russian government.

Veteran intelligence analyst and NSA whistleblower William Binney, who has criticized as inadequate the CIA’s public case arguing Russian responsibility for the hacking, does not find the new report convincing.

“This is the typical bamboozle type report the IC [intelligence community] gives Congress or anybody else that they want to confuse,” Binney told Truthdig in an email.

I say. In fact, I agree with Binney and others (see below), but I did not know Binney had read the government's report, and diagnosed it as "the typical bamboozle type report the IC [intelligence community] gives Congress or anybody else that they want to confuse". Incidentally, in case you didn't know:
William Binney (<- Wikipedia) worked for more than 30 years for the NSA, and was one it is main men, so he should know about "typical bamboozle".

Here is some more by Binney:

Binney went on to share an evaluation of the new report, which he sent to his peers in the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS):

Gee, I expected to see the IP’s or other signatures of APT’s 28/29 and where they were located and how/when the data got transferred to them from DNC/HRC/etc. They seem to have been following APT 28/29 since at least 2015, so, where are they? Further, once we see the data being transferred to them, when and how did they transfer that data to Wikileaks? This would be evidence of trying to influence our election by getting the truth of our corrupt system out.  And, as Edward Snowden said, once they have the IP’s and/or other signatures of 28/29 and DNC/HRC/etc., NSA would use Xkeyscore to help trace data passing across the network and show where it went. In addition, since Wikileaks is (and has been) a cast iron target for NSA/GCHQ/etc for a number of years there should be no excuse for them missing data going to any one associated with Wikileaks.

“Too many words means they don’t have clear evidence of how the data got to Wikileaks,” Binney added in a second message.

In mid-December, VIPS published a memorandum describing the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking as “baseless.”

Yes indeed. Here are three additional bits:

First, former British ambassador Craig Murray has said that he personally took some of the data that got to Wikileaks, and that he is certain it did not come from the Russians.

And second, here is the reference to my review of Binney and others'  memorandum of mid-December:
William Binney, Ray McGovern and Other Intel Experts Call Russian Hacking Allegations ‘Baseless’.

Finally, note that Binney, McGovern and Snowden all made the obvious point that to prove the kind of things that the government and the mainstream media
want people to believe, you need the IPs, and these are missing, even though the NSA (etc.) tracks everything anybody does on the internet.

This is a recommended article.

2. Scientists Scramble to Protect Decades of Climate Research Before Trump Takes Office

The second item is by Amy Goodman on AlterNet and originally on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:

In just over three weeks, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the next president. According to the Sierra Club, Trump will be the only world leader who still denies the science behind climate change. Following his election, Donald Trump has nominated a number of climate change deniers for top posts, including Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the Energy Department and Congressmember Ryan Zinke to become interior secretary. Now scientists at federal agencies are expressing growing concern that the new administration may attempt to destroy or bury decades of scientific studies on climate change.

In fact, that worry is quite realistic, because - as I have pointed out in Nederlog quite a few times - the very widely accepted belief that what is on the internet will never disappear is completely false: What's on the internet generally will stay there as long as it is paid for, and it will disappear as soon as it is not anymore being paid for.

And this holds for most things, and in particular for all the data that Obama's government drew up and published on its government sites: Exit Obama means exit payments, which means exit of all the data - unless these are being saved:

Senior Trump adviser Bob Walker has already proposed stripping funding of NASA’s climate research, describing it as "politically correct environmental monitoring." In a scramble to protect existing government climate data, campaigns have been launched to copy and preserve decades of government-sponsored climate research.

So climate scientists and others (such as the Internet Archive) are doing their best to save - at least - the data.

Here is their mad opponent [1]:

DONALD TRUMP: All of this with the global warming and the—that—a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK?

BILL O’REILLY: They said that you called climate change a hoax. Is that true?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I might have. ... I believe that climate change is not man-made. ... We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement. ... Our president is worried about global warming. What a ridiculous situation!

Incidentally, by the same insane "logic" of Trump, Trump is a hoax (or a fraud or a profit-driven scam) because "I mean, [Trump's corporations are] a money-making industry, OK?"

But that's enough from that source. Here is Amy Goodman outlining what is being done to save the data of climate science that are on governmental sites that very soon will disappear:

AMY GOODMAN: In a scramble to protect existing government climate data, campaigns have launched to copy and preserve decades of government-sponsored climate research. A guerrilla archiving event was just held at the University of Toronto in an attempt to save the climate studies on servers outside the United States. Organizers in the U.S. are planning additional events in the coming weeks to archive vulnerable government websites and databases that contain climate research. This comes as the End of Term Web Archive, a project administered by the Internet Archive, gets underway. The project captures and saves U.S. government websites at risk of changing or disappearing altogether at the end of presidential administrations. In the wake of Trump’s election, the Internet Archive has announced it will be moving a copy of its archive to Canada.

There is more, for which I refer you to the last of the above dotted links. I hope they succeed, for these data may be quite essential for having a factual basis to contradict Trumpian fantasies.

This is a recommended article.

3. As Resistance Grows, Trump's Deportation Plans Unravel

The third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

President-elect Donald Trump built his campaign on a pledge to build a wall and deport two to three million undocumented immigrants, but the likelihood that his promises will be kept are looking increasingly slim, as reality takes hold and lawmakers and community leaders begin to build their resistance.

The failure to execute Trump's oft-repeated deportation plans could "be one of the first reality checks on his administration," Politico reported Friday.

Speaking with experts and former immigration officials, reporter Ted Hesson outlined what it would take to implement the plan:

Trump would need tens of billions of dollars in new spending approved by Congress. He'd also need years to hire and train new legions of enforcement agents, and to deploy hundreds of judges to relieve the nation's severely backlogged immigration courts. And to find even two million undocumented immigrants to deport, he'd have to change how he defines criminal acts worthy of removal—or start rounding up people without convictions. Added together, the obstacles could be insurmountable.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the average cost for each deportation is $12,213, excluding personnel salaries. So, to deport two million people, would add up to more than $24.4 billion over four years.

I say, which I do because I did not know this, and I think it is a good idea to try to put a decent price on Trump's plans. And there are not only financial difficulties, but also legal difficulties:

Cost aside, Hesson notes that "there don't appear to be anywhere near three million immigrants, legal or undocumented, who are deportable based on past criminal convictions." This would mean that the administration would have to "target many immigrants living in the U.S. legally"—who can legally be deported in the case of felonies and certain misdemeanors—as well as "undocumented immigrants who are low-level offenders," amounting to a policy that is "aggressive" and inhumane.

I don't think that "a policy that is "aggressive" and inhumane" will be difficult for Trump and his cabinet, but the legal difficulties may be appreciable. And these again are not the only ones (next to the financial difficulties):

But polling has shown that even Trump's ardent supporters don't necessarily support his deportation plans.

In an October survey conducted by Pew, 80 percent of all voters and full 60 percent of Trump voters said "undocumented immigrants should be able to stay in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements, compared with 37 percent who said they should not." Only 32 percent of Trump supporters said there should be a "national law enforcement effort to deport" all undocumented immigrants.

This means that about 20 million Americans (it seems, calculated from the voters for Trump in the elections) support Trump's plans for the immigrants, which happes to be about 1 in 16 of all Americans (all of which except for the American indians immigrated or were immigrated since the 1600s).

And I agree that this makes it less likely Trump's government will start to deport two to three millions undocumented immigrants (though I should add
that I know of no limits on Trump's lack of reason).

This is a recommended article.

4. The Way to Fight Fake News Is Real News

The fourth item today is by Monika Bauerlein (<-Wikipedia) on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows (and is by the current CEO of Mother Jones):

On a Tuesday in November, a few hours after the president-elect of the United States tweeted a string of insults at journalists and suggested that Americans exercising their free-speech rights should be stripped of their citizenship, the New York Times published a terrifying story.

Researchers, it said, were finding the "warning signs flashing red" when it comes to the vitality of democracies across the world. From Europe to New Zealand  to the United States, the number of people who say it is important to live in a democracy has plummeted, while the number of Americans who think it would be okay for the military to seize power has skyrocketed.

This is not the kind of conversation most of us expected to have in our lifetimes. Global nuclear war and catastrophic climate change—those might be serious concerns. But the citizens of the world's democracies deliberately tossing out their freedoms, after decades of cheering freedom seekers from Tiananmen to Tahrir? That, honestly, was not on the radar.

In fact, it was on my radar, and since a very long time, just like truth, but I"ll skip that and concentrate on the text.

First of all, I must say that I am not impressed by "[r]esearchers" who were "
finding the "warning signs"" about "the vitality of democracies": Anybody can claim to be a "researcher", while "the vitality of democracies" sounds more like bullshit than like science: "democracy" has not been defined, let alone its "vitality" (and "democracy", in case you missed it, is an abstract term).

Second, I must also say that I find a description like "the citizens of the world's democracies" very vague, indeed in part because I know that these days almost every government, no matter how dictatorial, claims to be "a democracy" (which is not defined in this article).

And third, I should add that in the sense of the original meaning of "democracy" which is "government by the people" there is no democracy, for "the people" govern nowhere: Those who govern are always a few members of a social elite, even if they have been elected honorably and honestly by real majorities.

I think all of these are avoidable vagueries, and most are due to completely not defining "democracy". We shall come to that, after the next quote:

And yet here we are. It turns out that the numbers underlying the Times article may not have been as scary as they originally seemed—but they remain scary enough. For a growing number of people, democracy is failing to make the case that it can produce better governance and a better life. Here in the United States, trust that the federal government can be trusted to do the right thing all or most of the time has gone from more than 50 percent in 2001 to below 20 percent in 2015. Part of that decline is rooted in Republicans' decision to tie Washington up in gridlock—but it goes deeper than that. One of the factors, and the one that hits closest to home for us journalists, is the performance of the press.

Again the tern "democracy" (<-Wikipedia) is used without any definition, so I will here give the one that is on Wikipedia:

Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, Dēmokratía literally "rule of the commoners"), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority". Democracy was originally conceived in Classical Greece, where political representatives were chosen by a jury from amongst the male citizens: rich and poor.

According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: (a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

I will accept the definition, even though the first paragraph is pretty vague, and the second paragraph lists the views of just one person. But I accept all of it, mostly to have some definition, and because I think (myself) that Diamond had it more or less correctly.

Next, "democracies" do not make any case: Persons do.

And since I am a person, I'd say that in the USA there is hardly a democracy as defined: The elections may have been free (if they were not manipulated), but they were not fair, for the few rich had very much more to say (among other things, thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United (<-Wikipedia) decision) than the many poor; the vast majority of the American citizens do not participate "in politics and civic life"; the "human rights" of all citizens are protected in some sense, but not equally (blacks, hispanics, muslims); and the "rule of law" is not applied equally to all citizens, but depends a lot on one's race and riches.

You may disagree with the previous paragraph in some ways, but I think it is mostly correct about the USA.

Then there is the claim that "democracy is failing to make the case that it can produce better governance and a better life". I have said already that "democracy" (an abstract term) does not make any case. And I completely fail to understand why "better governance" and "a better life" should be criterions to measure a democracy by. (What about justice, for example? What about honest governors? What about human rights? What about equality? Etc. etc.)

Finally, there is the case that the trust in the "federal government" has fallen from 50% in 2001 to below 20% in 2015:

These were 14 years of war, in which the American government assigned to itself all manner of rights it did not have before (declaring war, torturing prisoners, surveilling everyone anywhere, not prosecuting the fraudulent Wall Street banks' managers, to name just four big changes): I'd say that these changes were all anti-democratic pro-oligarchic, and therefore the - quite radical - decline in trust of the "federal government" seems to me to have been quite justified.

Then there is this:

Until not terribly long ago, there were a few basic rules for success in the news business. One was that publishing verifiably false information would drive audiences away. If you made stuff up, people would cancel your paper or stop watching your network. Media companies practiced basic quality assurance not because they were deeply ethical, but because their bottom line depended on it.

But for platforms like Facebook, the key is not the credibility of the news we see, since they don't produce it. Their success depends on getting us to engage, share, and stick around (..)
I don't think "basic quality assurance" is the right term for what media companies were supposed to do - reporting the facts rather than anybody's fantasies or lies as if these were facts - but apart from that, I agree that "audiences" made that supposition.

Then again, I think Facebook is not the right entity to criticize here. I dislike Facebook a lot; I am not a member and never will be; I think they are basically frauds who steal your privacy; but it is not Facebook that presents the news originally: Those who produce the news originally are the news media, whether printed, on the internet, or both.

And it is the news media that massively failed, since 2000 or before, and what they failed in was that they ceased to make the distinction between facts on the one hand, and fantasies, lies, deceptions, and frauds on the other hand, and instead they started to report
fantasies, lies, deceptions, and frauds of politicians and governors as if these were facts.

Here is more on that, but again it is not as I would have phrased it:

In their heyday, legacy media left out a lot, mischaracterized a lot, allowed themselves to be taken for a ride (all the way to war). But every day, newspapers and television networks also told us a few things about our politics that had gone through basic vetting—and it was understood that they had. "If it's on the news, it must be true" felt naïve, even foolish at the time, but now we know it represented a social contract far more fragile than we realized. We had an agreement, among a wide swath of society, that news media constituted an acceptable mechanism for sorting fact from fiction.

This year, that agreement finally collapsed.

No, this was not a matter of "a social contract" (<- Wikipedia) at all: Virtually none of the readers of "the news" have any say in what the makers of "the news" do and don't do, nor have they any say in what the makers of "the news" want: Ordinary people can only decide on what they themselves read and don't read.

Next, there also never was any "agreement" "that news media constituted an acceptable mechanism for sorting fact from fiction": First of all, ordinary people have no voice in what the "news media" do and don't do, so they did not agree to anything, and second the news media decided (in majority, not all) that it was more profitable for them not to sort fact from fiction anymore.

What collapsed (if anything) was the supposition of ordinary people (without any voice in the news, other than deciding what to read and not to read) that "the news media" would honestly try to distinguish fact from fiction, and since the news media did not anymore honestly try to distinguish fact from fiction, the ordinary people were correct in dropping their supposition (which never was "an agreement" for they never were consulted or asked).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article (that I think was more disappointing than I expected: Too many vagueries):

Here at MoJo, we've found that a growing number of people from across the political spectrum respond to our painstakingly fact-checked reporting. Our web traffic has increased more than 50 percent this year, with people paying especially close attention to our deep investigations. And a growing number of those visitors choose to support the journalism, too. Just in November, some 8,000 people subscribed to our magazine—that's eight times the number who would have done so in a typical month.

I like Mother Jones, so I am glad they seem to be prospering now. (But the present article was none too good, I am sorry to say.)

5. The missing end-of-year routine on Nederlog

I ended 2015 - see here - as follows, which I partially reproduce here with the dates adjusted:

I cannot do anything that I did since 2004 to mark the end of the year. The reason is that I am now - in spite of having two sites, one since 20 years and the other since 13 years, that together contain over 1 Gb of data and many thousands of files - completely without any statistics for my two sites.

Actually, this has been so for the xs4all site since I started it 20 years ago. At that time - 1996 - having a site was still fairly rare, and xs4all was quite good, as it was a firm of somewhat alternative hackers. By 2000 the firm was bought by KPN - "Dutch" Telecom - who ever since then has parasited on the alternative reputation xs4all had - but all of this was only public relations propaganda: Lies to convert the stupid and the ignorant. By now all they have if you want statistics for your own site is a link to a very small site of one of their users, who explains how you might get statistics for a single webpage by trying to write a Unix shell script, which he explains badly...

I am not saying any more about xs4all because this is the Dutch norm:

In Holland "absolutely everybody is equivalent" (according to the vast majority of Dutchmen, although plenty would insist that real Dutchmen have four grand- parents with real Dutch names) and "everybody knows truth doesn't exist" (because thus nobody ever can be refuted), and it seems it is the same or worse at their competitors, so essentially I have given up on Holland. (And no, I am not exaggerating: All in this paragraph is strictly correct. Incidentally: xs4all has - of course - everything I am looking for in much greater detail than I wish to know it. I take it they sell it to Americans and keep it from me.)

In Denmark, where my other site is located since 2004, it used to be a great lot better: Polite help, clear replies, decent statistics. But I can't get any
statistics since November 25, 2015, and I haven't been abled to get any decent statistics ever since (and no statistics whatsoever since March).

I am too disgusted to write more about this. More next year.

[0] 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"(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).

[1] I do believe Donald Trump is not sane. For more from other psychologically trained people, see here.

       home - index - summaries - mail