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Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

Crisis: Exit Internet Privacy (USA), Trump's Damages, Surveillance State, Chomsky


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Introduction

1. With House GOP Vote, Internet Privacy Is Officially Kaput
2.
4 Ways Trump and the GOP Still Wield Tremendous Power to
     Do Serious and Lasting Damage to America

3. The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate
4. Noam Chomsky: Trump's First 100 Days Are Undermining Our
     Prospects for Survival
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday
, March 29, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four dotted links: Item 1 is about the destuction (in the USA) of internet privacy; item 2 is about the four ways in which Trump (still) can do very great harm; item 3 is about the surveillance state; and item 4 is about an interview with Noam Chomsky that is quite good.
March 29: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site now got stuck on Sunday March 26. It seems now that over a year of signs are correct, and this means that my Dutch site is now updated once a week - instead of immediately after (daily) updating, as xs4all succeeded in doing from 1996 till 2015.

Sorry mates, but I do not accept this. More later, for in this way I cannot run a decent website (as I think the utter degenerates who are doing this are planning to make me do).

Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)

1. With House GOP Vote, Internet Privacy Is Officially Kaput

The first article today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Despite widespread popular outcry, House Republicans on Tuesday voted to strip citizens' of their right to privacy online, selling out the American public to the deep-pocketed telecom industry.
(..)
Open internet and privacy advocates immediately condemned the resolution, now poised to become law pending a likely signature President Donald Trump.

Laying out the implications of the vote, Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now, declared, "Congress today voted to sell off your privacy and your security online."

"Your internet service provider can see almost everything you do online — from many of the websites you visit, to apps you use, and even some of your private communications," he continued. "[Internet Service Providers] (ISPs) want to sell off that treasure trove to increase corporate profits, and apparently Congress is fine with that."

Indeed, and thus the USA moved several steps closer to full neofascism. Here is how the Internet Service Providers are going to profit from it:

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said that Republican lawmakers "once again that they care more about the wishes of the corporations that fund their campaigns than they do about the safety and security of their constituents,"

"Gutting these privacy rules won't just allow Internet Service Providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance, and fundamentally undermine our cybersecurity by making our sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and foreign governments," she added.

Yes, though I should add that "our cybersecurity" went to bits already in 2001/2 when Bush - effectively - allowed spying on all Americans. Here is some more:

Further, as Matt Stoller, fellow at the Open Markets Program at the New America thinktank, outlined in a lengthy Twitter thread earlier Tuesday, the resolution is more than an invasion of privacy but also "about market power and the ability to manipulate you with algorithms."

"Do you want your insurance company to adjust your rates based on your web browsing activity?" Stoller asked. "Do you want prospective employers to use as a criteria who you are thinking of dating? Do you want your ISP or any buyers of data to know you are communicating with politicians or political advocates? Do you want airlines to raise ticket prices on you without you realizing it, based on their knowledge a family member just died?" He added, "That's what this is about."

In brief: This is about making you a subservient menial who can be exploited, deceived, advertised, and investigated to the fullest possible potential: You have no more privacy (in the USA).

Here is some more:

What this means practically for users of the internet is that one's search history—information about health, finances, and other private matters—as well as their location and the applications they use, could soon be tracked by internet service providers (ISPs) and then sold to a third-party without an individual's permission.
(...)
What's more, coming in the form of a CRA, the legislation prevents the FCC from putting any similar rules in place in the future. As Jeremy Gillula, senior staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) explained to NPR ahead of the vote, the bill "really is changing the status quo. It is essentially dismantling years of privacy protection that people have had in this country."

Yes indeed. It is also about taking away nearly all powers of nearly anyone - but I do agree that those with IQs below 115 or 130 probably need not fear a lot: These measures will be used to weed out any of the more intelligent who desire not to be bought by the rich or the government.

And this is a recommended article.

2.  4 Ways Trump and the GOP Still Wield Tremendous Power to Do Serious and Lasting Damage to America

The second article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This begins as follows:

For millions of Americans, Friday’s collapse of the House Republican leadership’s bill to defund Obamacare, take $880 billion out of Medicaid and give the wealthiest hundreds of millions in tax cuts they don’t need, was a spot of good news.
(..)
But as a new week begins in Washington, it’s time to take a deep breath and realize that Trump and Republicans in Congress, as dysfunctional as they appear, still have great power to wield.

Yes indeed - I agree to both points made. Here is more on the destructions Trump can wreak:

There are four major areas where Trump’s team can wreak great destruction of public policies in the near future and lay the foundation for harm lasting for generations. It may be that the House Republicans are so internally split that they cannot pass major legislation like the Obamacare repeal. But they can still pass a budget that eviscerates safety nets, human services and science unlike anything in recent memory. The White House can use its reach to revoke and rewrite federal regulations in any area it wants, especially those that threaten corporate profits. The Supreme Court’s ideological majority hangs in a balance, but even if Senate Democrats block Trump’s first pick, he still is poised to appoint more federal judges than any president in decades. And if Trump’s team gets frustrated with domestic issues, they can rev up the war machine overseas.

Again, yes indeed. There is considerably more in the article, which I leave to your interests. This is a recommended article.

3. The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate

The third article is by Ray McGovern and William Binney on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump.

This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?)

In fact Trump was told something he could have known, namely from Snowden, but indeed - very probably - did not.

But I think McGovern and Binney are correct in saying Trump either must decide he will attack the surveillance state (which I take it is part of the deep state, but let that be for the moment) or sort of live with it without doing much or anything against it.

Here is some more:

What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail.

It is my guess that Trump will do as Obama did, if only to protect his very own interests. Here is why:

The reality is that EVERYONE, including the President, is surveilled. The technology enabling bulk collection would have made the late demented FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water.

For more, see "Snowden" in the indexes for Nederlog since 2013. Here is what Nunes probably told Trump:

At his evening meeting on March 21 at the Old Executive Office Building, Nunes was likely informed that all telephones, emails, etc. – including his own and Trump’s – are being monitored by what the Soviets used to call “the organs of state security.”

Yes - or so we may assume. This article end as follows:

Now, we suspect that much more may be learned about the special compartmented surveillance program targeted against top U.S. national leaders if Rep. Nunes doesn’t back down and if Trump doesn’t choose the road most traveled – acquiescence to America’s Deep State actors.

Indeed, but I do not think the chances on that are large: Trump is there for the rich,
and the Deep State also covers the interests of the rich.

4. Noam Chomsky: Trump's First 100 Days Are Undermining Our Prospects for Survival

The fourth and last article today is by C.J. Polychroniou on Truth-out:
This starts as follows:

The first 100 days are considered to be a benchmark for presidential performance. This is part of the legacy of FDR, who managed to reshape the US government's role in the economy within the first 100 days of his administration. However, the fact of the matter is that usually, a first-time president doesn't have the slightest inkling of what governing from the Oval Office is all about. There's no better proof of that than the early records of the most recent US presidents, from Nixon to Obama. Nonetheless, no recent US president has demonstrated such an overwhelming ignorance about governing as the current occupant of the White House.

But is Trump's apparent inability to govern and conduct himself in a remotely conventional manner an innate character flaw or part of a well-conceived strategy aimed at a society that loves reality TV? Is Trump's fondness for Putin simply an "infatuation" with a strongman and admiration for autocratic rule, or something of a more political and strategic nature? And what does Trump mean when he says "jobs?"
As I have argued quite a few times and for over a year, I think the best explanation for "Trump's apparent inability to govern and conduct himself in a remotely conventional manner" is neither "an innate character flaw" nor a "part of a well-conceived strategy" but is that he is mad - a megalomaniac aka (in psychiatrese) as a grandiose narcissist.
For more, see here (by professors of psychiatry and clinical psychology).

Here is more by Chomsky:
Noam Chomsky:  Meanwhile, the real work is going on more quietly, spearheaded by Paul Ryan, a different and more malicious kind of posturer, who represents the most brutal fringe of the Republican establishment and somehow manages to present himself as a man of ideas (..). The ideas are quite familiar. They are the standard fare of the component of the Republican establishment dedicated with unusual ferocity to enriching the rich and powerful -- bankers, CEOs, and other types who matter -- while kicking in the face the vulnerable, the poor and Trump's rural and working-class constituency. All of this abetted by the ultra-right billionaire cabinet and other appointees, selected very carefully to destroy whatever within their domains might be helpful to mere humans, but not to the chosen few of extreme wealth and power.
Yes, I quite agree, and I have been saying so for a long time. And for me the ideology of Trump is quite well-described by my definition of neofascism. Indeed, one additional reason to prefer that term is the following fact (and this is still Chomsky talking):
Of course, undermining the system will harm a great many people, but that cannot be a consideration. After all, Ryancare was going to add some 24 million to the ranks of uninsured, which might kill more than 40,000 people annually according to an analysis by health care specialists Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein. If the health system can be substantially damaged, and people really do suffer sufficiently, then the propaganda drumbeat can proceed to blame the disaster on the political opposition, and maybe even get away with it. A good deal is possible in the era of "alternative facts." We are already witnessing the early stages.
If you are willing to kill 40,000 people each year by a measure that will bring the very rich each and all over 100,000 dollars, then I think "neofascism" is the right sort of name.

And there is this on Donald Trump (Chomsky still talking):
The lead character in the show does indeed present himself as a thin-skinned megalomaniac whose only ideology is Me. But his appointments, and the policies for which all of this is a cover, are too systematic to be merely random shots.
Yes, but this seems to me somewhat of a shift in Chomsky's position, because he also has described Trump earlier as "unpredictable". I think - for quite a long time as well -
that Trump does have an ideology, and that ideology is best described as
neofascism (in my sense).

Next, one of the characteristics by which I defined neofascism is that it - unlike fascism - seeks to empower the multi-national corporations as far more important than national states.

In this context, the following is quite important (Chomsky talking):

(...) corporate ownership of the world's wealth is becoming a more realistic measure of global power than national wealth as the world departs more than before from the model of nationally discrete political economies. The results of [Sean Starrs'] investigations are quite striking. It turns out that in virtually every economic sector -- manufacturing, finance, services, retail and others -- US corporations are well in the lead in ownership of the global economy. Overall, their ownership is close to 50 percent of the total (...)
And there is this on Trump's budget proposals:
Trump's budget proposals are very clear: expand the military and lavish gifts on the rich and powerful, while the rest are somehow to fend for themselves, including his rural and working class constituency.
Finally, there are also some reasons for hope:
At the same time, there are very promising opportunities ahead. A serious program to heal the pathologies of the neoliberal era could attract very broad popular support. There already is popular support for progressive programs.
(...)

It's easy to succumb to a sense of futility and despair, but objective circumstances provide no justification for that stance. There have been many gains over past years thanks to struggles undertaken under far harsher conditions than those of today. These gains provide us with a legacy that offers a great many opportunities to avoid the worst, and to move on to a much better future.

I hope Chomsky is right. There is considerably more in the article, which is  strongly recommended.

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