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Nederlog

Friday, Apr 21, 2017

Crisis: American Terrorism, Ailes & O'Reilly, Jeremy Corbyn, Julian Assange


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. America Is the World's Biggest Terrorist Organization—Why Is
     That So Hard to Understand?

2.
First Roger Ailes, Now Bill O'Reilly: Sexual Harassment Scandal
     Ousts Top Men at Fox News

3. U.K. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn Shocks Critics With a Rousing
     Speech Against the Establishment (Video)

4.
As Reports of Assange Arrest Warrant Emerge, Who Will
    Defend WikiLeaks?
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, April 21, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four links: Item 1 is about an article that seems a bit mistaken; item 2 is about Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, both of whom have been dismissed from Fox News for - extensive - sexual harassments; item 3 is about Jeremy Corbyn's speech (with some criticism of The Guardian by me); and item 4 is about a report about the arrest of Assange, that seems a little premature to me.
April 21: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site - of course! - is still stuck on April 15. These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them.)

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. America Is the World's Biggest Terrorist Organization—Why Is That So Hard to Understand?

The first article today is
by Vijah Prashad on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

A few years ago, I asked a retired Iraqi Air Force officer what it felt like to be bombed periodically by the United States in the 1990s. Whenever US President Bill Clinton felt irritated, I joked, he seemed to bomb Iraq. The officer, a distinguished man with a long career serving a military whose political leadership he despised, smiled. He said with great lightness – ‘When our leadership said something threatening those words itself were taken to be terrorism; when the United States bombs, the world does not even blush.’

To me this is an intuitive statement.

To me it isn't, and it isn't because I know some history, which tells me Iraq was a dictatorship in the 1990s. I also do not think Clinton's policies and bombing of the 1990s were justified, and indeed I agree considerably more than not with the statement that America is the world's biggest terrorist organization, but the above quotation does not seem to me to be quite correct.

Indeed, I can explain the title of the article (more or less, from an admittedly Western point of view) and will do so now, also because this explanation is not mentioned in the article:

In Western Europe, the USA and Canada are still widely seen as their liberators in WW II, and in these terms the USA and Canada are seen as democracies, and Nazi-Germany and fascist Italy as dictatorships.

I think - speaking in general terms - that perception (that got started in the 1940ies) is considerably more corrrect than not, and the same political opposition - democracy vs. dictatorships - was extended in the 1950ies to the economical opposition between Western capitalism and Russian and Chinese "socialism". [1]

By this time, and from the 1960s onwards, when the USA got involved in Vietnam, the same opposition - democracy vs. dictatorship - that was already quite confused, was used to explain the USA's presence in Vietnam, and indeed the USA's policies against
the so-called "socialist states" in far more general terms: The USA were the good forces, for democracy and freedom, and those they were opposed to were the bad forces, against democracy and against freedom.

Most Westerners mostly accepted these terms, and indeed most Westerners followed the mainstream media, that generally also accept these terms. Next, as to terrorism: While something like a more or less correct definition of terrorism simply states that terrorism consists of attempts to get one's way in politics or religion by violence and murder that is directed especially at civilians, quite a few legal types and most governments insist that their violence directed at civilians for political reasons (mostly) is not terrorism, "because states cannot do terrorism", which is a plain prejudice.

Then again, taken together these brief considerations answer the question of the title of this article:

Most Western Europeans do not think of the USA as a terrorist organization because (i) they think of the USA as a democracy, that also liberated their country from Nazi dictatorship (over 70 years ago); because (ii) several of the countries that the USA went into war with (of some kind) are dictatorships; because (iii) even if Americans see civilians killed by military (which they rarely see because these pictures tend to be censored on TV), they tend to believe that states, and especially their own USA, cannot do terrorism "because they are states"; while (iv) most Western Europeans and most Americans follow the mainstream media, that agrees with (i) to (iii) inclusive.

Therefore most Americans and most Europeans do not see the USA as a terrorist organization, and in the circumstances that ought to be rather easily understandable - or so I think.

Here is one bit from the article that shows how things do - more or less - proceed in the mainstream media:

It is always the ‘rogue state’ that is the threat to the world order – Iraq here, North Korea there. And in that ‘rogue state’ it is always the dictator who commands the entire monstrosity. Mockery is the guise with Kim Jong-un as it was with Saddam Hussein.
(...)
Threats are made to emanate from them – they itch to attack and are only held back by the democratic role of the United States, who sanctions the countries till they starve or patrols their waters with massive war ships to intimidate them into surrender.

Yes, but I think I explained that rather fairly. Here is the last statement that I quote from this article:

Amnesia is the mode of thought in the United States. Cluelessness about its belligerent history is now general.

Hm. Maybe I am more critical of the USA than the author of this article, for I'd speak of stupidity rather than of "amnesia", and of ignorance rather than of "cluelessness".

And I think this article might have been considerably better if its author had shown some more awareness of the explanation I offer for the question its title poses.

2. First Roger Ailes, Now Bill O'Reilly: Sexual Harassment Scandal Ousts Top Men at Fox News

The second article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

The longtime Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is out, after more than half a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment. His departure follows the similar ouster of longtime powerful Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was also forced out this past summer after more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment. Over 50 advertisers boycotted "The O’Reilly Factor" over revelations O’Reilly and Fox paid $13 million to settle lawsuits by five women who accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior. For more, we speak with civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom. She represents three women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances.

This is here as a follow-up to yesterday's news that also was reported in yesterday's Nederlog, viz. that O'Reilly was dismissed from Fox News. As I said yesterday, I am treating it in Nederlog beause both Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes were quite important in presenting and creating the conservative news. And it is true both were dismissed after quite a few complaints about their sexual harassments.

There is considerably more in the news about this. This is from Democracy Now! and consists of an interview with a lawyer who represents three women who accused Bill O'Reilly:

AMY GOODMAN: While news about Bill O’Reilly’s dismissal was making headlines Wednesday, he was at the Vatican, where he briefly met the pope.

For more, we’re joined by Lisa Bloom, civil rights attorney at The Bloom Firm. She represents three women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances. She is one of the women who’s being credited with bringing Bill O’Reilly down.
(..)
LISA BLOOM: Wendy Walsh came to me several months ago and told me that The New York Times wanted to publish her story, and all of her friends were saying to her, "Don’t do it. He’s going to come after you. This is going to be very scary." She asked me what I thought. I said, "You absolutely have to do it, Wendy. You have to do this for your daughters. You have to do this for other women. I know you’re scared, but I will stand with you at no charge. And not only that, Wendy, but we are going to bring him down." I promised her that months ago. Three weeks ago, the story broke with Wendy. We had a media and a legal strategy in place. We executed it for the last 18 days. And yesterday, he announced—or the company announced that he had been fired. I think the plan went flawlessly.

I think this is a bit too much like "The Victor's History" [2], but then again Bill O'Reilly was a quite important voice, who had a lot of power. Incidentally, "the plan" of which Bloom speaks was to try to keep it in the news, in which they also succeeded.

Here is more:

LISA BLOOM: And ultimately, these cases, like all of the sexual harassment cases I’ve been doing for 30 years, are about women’s equality in the workplace. It’s about our right to be treated with respect and to have our careers. You know, most of us can withstand a comment or two that we don’t like. But when our jobs are threatened because we don’t sleep with the boss, that’s at a whole other level. And that’s been going on, according to multiple women, with Bill O’Reilly and others at Fox News for a very long time.

Yes, I totally agree with that. And Bloom is simply correct in saying that "with Bill O’Reilly and others at Fox News" this went on "for a very long time."

There is considerably more in the article that I leave to your interests. I will only quote this last bit:

LISA BLOOM: Can I just say something about that? You know, Sean Hannity, we never hear any complaints about him as a sexual harasser. Tucker Carlson, Matt Lauer—I mean, there are many prominent, wealthy men in the media who have zero complaints for sexual harassment. It’s only Bill O’Reilly, over and over and over again, by women, several of whom have had tapes, reportedly, of him calling and being very sexually explicit on the phone, propositioning them, telling them what he wanted to do with them sexually. It has nothing to do with him being in the public eye. It’s about his conduct and his behavior.

Well... yes and no. Yes, in so far as there were many complaints about Bill O'Reilly while there are no complaints of sexual harassments about some other conservative hosts. No, in so far as (i) it was not only Bill O'Reilly who was accused of sexual harassments at Fox News, but also Roger Ailes, who led Fox News, while (ii) it also
seems - at least - as if it are especially the American conservatives who are prominent at sexually harassing women.

But this is a recommended article.

3. U.K. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn Shocks Critics With a Rousing Speech Against the Establishment (Video)

The third article is by Natasha Hakimi on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

“Much of the media and establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion,” British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Thursday. “They do not want us to win. Because when we win it is the people, not the powerful, who win.”

Kicking off Labour’s 2017 election campaign two days after Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of the ruling Conservative Party, called for a snap election on June 8, Corbyn surprised critics with a powerful address in which he portrayed Labour as the people’s party and reminded his audience that while the polls show the odds are against him, they were also firmly against him during the Labour leadership contest he won in 2015.

Corbyn has been a consistently embattled leader, dealing with revolts from within his own party, as well as a strong media bias against him. He came out swinging on Thursday against his “morally bankrupt” Conservative opponents and those that “monopolize the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in the country.”

This article also continues news I reported in yesterday's Nederlog. I like Corbyn, indeed without agreeing with him, and I do so mostly because he is a real Social Democrat, and not a neoliberal Blatcherist/Third Way bullshitter who betrayed his own background, his own party and his own ideology in order to become prime minister and a multi- millionaire (and he succeeded in that, as he succeeded in deceiving most British about Iraq).

There is this quoted from The Guardian (which may not have been the happiest choice, because The Guardian these days is a Blatcherist paper that opposes Corbyn):

Jeremy Corbyn has had a very good morning. Westminster received opinion - which is sometimes right, but often not - has it that he’s a total electoral liability, but today he sounded like an effective campaigner. He delivered a speech that was focused, coherent and passionate. ... He neatly inverted his perceived negatives - that he’s unconventional, and that he’s expected to lose - by saying that he had defied odds of 200/1 before and that it would take an outsider to shake things up. And he answered questions at length from journalists, without resorting to the brittle passive aggression he sometimes deploys in Q&As, with a candour that contrasted with Theresa May’s fairly dire record when it comes to media scrutiny.

I take it this was more or less factually correct reporting, except for the suggestion that Corbyn's speeches are often not "focused, coherent and passionate" and the claim that
he sometimes resorts to "
brittle passive aggression he sometimes deploys" - but then this is The Guardian.

In the same laudatory fashion the same paper continues:

Maybe it wasn’t Martin Luther King, but it was easily the most stirring thing anyone has said in this election campaign so far.

That is not to say it will prove transformative. It is very hard to shift public opinion much during a short election campaign and Corbyn’s message will resonate more with Labour diehards than with floating voters. Framing the election as a contest between the establishment and the people obviously fits Corbyn’s politics, but it might have worked better in 1989; polling evidence suggests that, it is not just the establishment that is happy with Theresa May and her government, but the people too. May is popular with all demographics. There might just not be enough people out there who care as much as Corbyn about the system being rigged.

You see, it wasn't as good as Martin Luther King, but it stirred its audience. Then again, it stirred its audience with a message fit for 1989, and not for 2017, for The Guardian "knows" that "May is popular with all demographics" (?!?!?!), and therefore it compares
him condescendingly with the long dead Martin Luther King, adding he is not as good a speaker, while saying his message might have been fine, but in 1989.

That is the news from The Guardian, which these days is so sick and so rotten it even advertises its advertisers on its front page and asks for money from its readers to do what it calls "investigative journalism". [3]

Natasha Hakimi comments:

It’s interesting, to say the least, that The Guardian seems to think the “rigged system” argument is outdated, given that Bernie Sanders, who’s now the most popular politician in the United States, ran on a similar platform and had an unexpectedly high level of success.

I'd say that the reason is that under Viner The Guardian became a lying Blatcherist defender of the rigged system it denies exists.

Anyway... Natasha Hakimi also (quite sensibly) gave the complete text of Corbyn's speech, and here is one bit from that:

Britain needs a Labour government that is prepared to fight for people in every part of the country, our towns, villages, as well as big cities.

A Labour government that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people’s lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here.

Because the Conservatives, drunk on a failed ideology, are hell bent on cutting every public service they get their hands on, and they will use all of the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to keep their rigged system intact.

Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life.

Don’t be angry at the government ministers running down our schools and hospitals, they tell us, be angry instead at the disabled woman or the unemployed man.

It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging.

I agree with Corbyn (and dislike The Guardian these days).

4. As Reports of Assange Arrest Warrant Emerge, Who Will Defend WikiLeaks?

The fourth and last article today is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The Trump administration in the United States has prepared criminal charges in order to arrest Julian Assange, founder and publisher of the media outlet WikiLeaks, CNN reported on Thursday.

I am a bit puzzled, because I thought that Julian Assange has been locked up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 because there are Swedish criminal charges against him that - as Assange says, I believe correctly - when Assange is delivered into Swedish hands will rapidly send him to the USA to be prosecuted there.

In fact, that still seems to be the position:

Though U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said that arresting Assange was a "priority," nobody in the government has yet gone public with the filing of official charges or the issuance of an arrest warrant. A lawyer representing Assange said neither he nor his client has been notified of any charges.

"We've had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange," attorney Barry Pollack told CNN. "They've been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange's status is in any pending investigations. There's no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher."

Assange has long believed the U.S. maintains a sealed indictment against him, the key reason he has remained under asylum protection at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Yes, indeed. And in so far as I understand it - and see the Wikipedia item Julian Assange - little has changed about Julian Assange's situation. I have read the CNN
news but this also doesn't say much.

I quote Assange's lawyer from it:

Pollack said WikiLeaks is just like the Washington Post and the New York Times, which routinely publish stories based on classified information. WikiLeaks, he says, publishes information that is in "the public's interest to know not just about the United States but other governments around the world."
Yes, indeed, and one additional point is that both the Washington Post and the New York Times published Wikileaks' stories. Also, there is this:
But Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, argued that US prosecution of Assange sets a dangerous precedent.

"Never in the history of this country has a publisher been prosecuted for presenting truthful information to the public," Wizner told CNN. "Any prosecution of WikiLeaks for publishing government secrets would set a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration would surely use to target other news organizations."
Yes indeed.

---------------

[1] Here "socialism" is between quotes because I reject the notion that these nations were socialist. (I think they were more like state-capitalist dictatorships.)
But this is more personal.

[2] The "victor's history" refers to the fact that the histories written (by historians of nation X) soon after X has won a war against Y tend to be much more one-sided than was justified according to later histories.

[3] I am sorry, but my once rather positive judgement of The Guardian now is negative since I learned that The Guardian does not allow anymore that its news and journalism are copied (which I think is a major shame); does include at least as much Javascript in its journalism as
real journalism; has turned very firmly Blatcherist with the arrival of Viner as chief editor; and now also dangles bits of advertising at the end of its website that are written by advertisers, that are listed below the announcements of these advertisements (all of which is sick in my eyes in what is purported to be a daily paper which brings the daily news). For more criticism (I am not by far the only critic of the present Guardian) see the Off-Guardian.


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