Saturday, May 13, 2017

Crisis: Barrett Brown, Trump & Russia, Russia's Pride, Republicans, William Binney

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Jailed Reporter Barrett Brown on Press Freedom, FBI Crimes
     & Why He Wouldn't Do Anything Differently

2. Donald Trump's Financial Ties to Russian Oligarchs and
     Mobsters Detailed

Russia’s Pride in WWII Victims and Heroes
Are There 22 Patriotic House Republicans?
Top NSA Whistleblower: Ransomware Hack Due to “Swindle of
     the Taxpayers” by Intelligence Agencies


This is a Nederlog of Saturday
, May 13, 2017.

This is a crisis log with five items and six dotted links: Item 1 is about a jailed American reporter, Barrett Brown, and includes bits by Glenn Greenwald; item 2 is about a Dutch TV-program (in English), that now is also visible on Youtube, that details the real ties between Trump and Russian oligarchs (that Trump all denies); item 3 is about why Russia is important: it is the largest country in the world; it has about 145 million inhabitants; and in WW II no less than 27 million Russians were killed; item 4 is about an article by Robert Reich, who lists grounds to impeach Trump, and asks whether there are enough patriotic Republicans to do so (my answer: on the moment, no); and item 5 is about an article about William Binney, who outlines how the American population gets swindled by the intelligence agencies.

Today's Nederlog is a bit smaller than it would have been if I had slept better and had less to do besides...

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for no less than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 13: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site is off again and this time shows May 11 and nobody told anyone that to get the proper NL you have to reload once of several times ....

They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most and without any problem, as indeed is the work of ISPs.

I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And what changed is that you have to refresh (and refresh and refresh and refresh) to get the latest, which is again NOT as it was before, from 1996 till 2015, and which for me this only serves to make it extremely difficult for naive users to get the latest from my site - that for them may seem to have stuck somewhere in 2016 or 2015.

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. Jailed Reporter Barrett Brown on Press Freedom, FBI Crimes & Why He Wouldn't Do Anything Differently

The first article today is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaihk on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
We turn now to the investigative reporter Barrett Brown, who recently completed a four-year prison sentence related to the hacking of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, which exposed how the firm spied on activists on behalf of corporations. He was released from prison earlier this year but was unexpectedly rearrested late last month, one day ahead of a scheduled interview for an upcoming PBS documentary. Brown was detained for four days and then released without receiving any formal written explanation for the arrest. For more, we speak with Barrett Brown, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald.
I think I have paid once attention to Barrett Brown in Nederlog, but that is about it.
But he turns out to be quite important:

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to investigative reporter Barrett Brown, who recently completed a 4-year prison sentence related to the hacking of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, which exposed how the firm spied on activists on behalf of corporations. At one point, Brown faced a hundred years in prison before pleading guilty to lesser charges, including transmitting threats, accessory to a cyber-attack and obstruction of justice. Supporters say Brown was unfairly targeted for investigating the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors.
I say. It is probable that I did not report on Brown because he was jailed around the time I started commenting seriously in Nederlog on the crisis, which I have been doing since September 1, 2008, but have been doing seriously since June 10, 2013 (when I learned of Edward Snowden's existence, and some about the facts he revealed).

Then there is this:
AMY GOODMAN: (..) Despite pressure from authorities not to speak to the media while under house arrest, Barrett Brown has opted not to keep silent. Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I spoke to him earlier this week, along with Glenn Greenwald, who was in our New York studio.
There is in fact rather a lot more, of which I will quote only one bit by Barrett Brown:
BARRETT BROWN: Yes. You know, the—I’ve been covered quite a bit in the press, especially when I was involved in Anonymous back in 2011, sometimes over really silly things, inconsequential things, but, you know, things that were kind of lurid and exciting and perhaps seemingly romantic.
And I’m going to continue to do my activism work. I’m going to continue to try to organize citizens against state criminality. But I can’t do that from here, you know, without being arrested, you know, by any official who chooses to do so. You know, in another—I have no problem doing prison time or being oppressed, you know, in the public eye, if it helps. But it just doesn’t help that often. It just doesn’t lead to anything. This is not the kind of society in which people say, "Oh, no, that’s—you know, something terrible has happened. Let’s act on it." They just don’t.
That is, Barrett Brown plans on leaving the USA and on getting a new nationality.

Here is Glenn Greenwald, who comments on the importance of Barrett Brown:

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, let me just say that the Barrett Brown case is probably one of the most significant threats to press freedom that has happened in the United States in the last, I would say, two decades at least. And it’s received remarkably little attention in the mainstream press, because they only pay attention when they themselves are attacked. So, Donald Trump attacks some—posts some childish insult about the media or calls them the enemy of the people, and it’s wall-to-wall coverage in The New York Times and CNN. And yet, here was Barrett, doing some of the most intrepid and important journalism in the United States, digging into this incredibly opaque and powerful faction, and because of his journalism into those areas, that is what directly triggered this FBI investigation and attempt to imprison him. And the reason he got so little support from media organizations defending his press freedom was because they only care about press freedom when it comes to large corporate media outlets that aren’t actually threatening to the government.
The scribblings he did for us in prison on paper with pencil won the National Magazine Award for the columns that we published. And yet, now he’s saying, just like Laura Poitras felt when she had to edit her film Citizenfour, that he can’t safely do journalism in the United States.
Yes, indeed. And this is the last bit that I'll quote from this article, which is Greenwald on his own experiences:
GLENN GREENWALD: (..) You would think, in just a normal, healthy democracy, you would have the government over here being adversarial to press freedoms, and then you would have journalists vehemently defending the power of the freedom of the press. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And yet, in so many cases, especially when the government targets journalists who aren’t popular among or working within these mainstream outlets, not only do the journalists ignore it or acquiesce to these efforts to punish and criminalize and attack independent journalists, they become the leading cheerleaders. When I first started doing the Snowden reporting, it wasn’t, you know, James Clapper or Keith Alexander going on TV calling for my imprisonment; it was David Gregory or Andrew Ross Sorkin or other journalists who work at The New York Times, someone with an institution with a history of defending press freedom. And so, that is a huge problem, is, because so many mainstream journalists in the United States identify not with journalism, but with serving the interest of the U.S. government and the national security state, they become the leading spokespeople, the leading advocates, for the right to criminalize journalism.
Quite so, and I have to admit that especially the last statement of this quote makes me rather pessimistic, and I agree this is a really "huge problem".

This is a recommended article.

2. Donald Trump's Financial Ties to Russian Oligarchs and Mobsters Detailed

The second article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. I shortened the long title:
This starts as follows:

Donald Trump's business partners have included Russian oligarchs and convicted mobsters, which could make the president guilty of criminal racketeering charges.

That's one of the eyebrow-raising takeaways from a 45-minute Dutch documentary that aired last week, titled The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump, Part 1: The Russians. The first installment of the investigative reporting series, produced by Zembla, does what no American TV network has yet dared to do—take a deep look at the organized crime links and corrupt international business strategies used by Trump and his partners in his properties.

I say! It so happens - as I have several times explained - I dislike propaganda and advertisements so much that (while I am Dutch and live, alas, in Holland) I do not have a TV since 1970, and therefore I neither knew this nor saw it.

Fortunately, for those who care, it is - today at least - on line in English:

Incidentally, in case you do want to see it, you probably have to be rather fast, but today I did see the beginning of it (and had no time for seeing more).

This is what it is about:

The documentary shows how Trump not only helped hide the identity of his mobster business partner, prompting an ongoing lawsuit accusing Trump of criminal racketeering, but also how Trump used that internal company crisis to demand more money. It goes on to show how Russian oligarchs saw Trump's properties as a way to get their money out of Russia, and describes the international financial networks that are akin to a pyramid scheme for money laundering. It also notes how the law firm of Trump's political adviser, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani, helped set up a money-laundering account in the Netherlands used by Bayrock.

And here is some background information:

They go on to show that while Trump denies his ties with Russia, many Russians have deep financial ties to him.
The documentary's YouTube description barely does justice to the film's investigative reporting. While American journalists are following Trump's tweets and tantrums, they followed the money into a world where the lines between outright profiteering and organized crime are blurred. What they found on a fact-based money trail reveals much about who the real Trump is and how he operates.

As I said, it is visible today (and I don't know how long). And this is a recommended article.

3. Russia’s Pride in WWII Victims and Heroes

The third article is by Gilbert Doctorow on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

To understand Russia, it is worth reflecting on the tradition of the Immortal Regiment march on May 9 when hundreds of thousands of Russians pour into the streets of Moscow and other cities holding the faded photos of family members who died in achieving the victory over the Nazis in World War II.

The march is a showing of national solidarity that is unthinkable in today’s Western Europe or the United States (although those societies also have their patriotic holidays, from Bastille Day in France to July Fourth in the U.S.). In Russia, the Immortal Regiment march demonstrates a national solidarity forged by the shared and searing experience of every family’s wartime losses, a death toll that totaled about 27 million.

This year, despite poor weather, Muscovites took pride in having a still bigger turnout than last year. The media reported that it was the coldest Victory Day in Moscow ever, yet the official crowd number was given at 850,000.

Yes indeed - and long time readers of Nederlog may recall that I did pay attention to May 9 in Russia on May 9, 2015. And indeed one of my main reasons was that I know since a long time that no less than 27 million Russians were killed by the Nazis in WW II, which is a lot more than in any other country.

Here is some more:

Personally, I have never enjoyed large crowds. They make me claustrophobic. But it was a very good-natured assembly. It was multi-generational with a lot of toddlers carried on shoulders of parents and relatives, while their older siblings were kept in tow, subject to warnings that “you don’t want to get lost.”

If the mood of participants may have resembled the bonhomie of strollers in New York’s Central Park on a Sunday afternoon in spring, the event clearly had its specificity, which set it apart from anything I have witnessed outside of Russia.

And this is on why this is important:

Reflecting on the day’s march and the outpouring of a non-belligerent national pride, I instinctively thought of the hawks and loudmouths in the United States who portray Russia as a nation of barbarians that must be countered with military force at every turn. While that extreme propaganda is extremely unfair, it is true that Russia is a nation that should not be trifled with.

I quite agree, and am pretty certain that the Russians are hard to defeat in a conventional war. Then again, the other reason why I pay attention to this is
that with Donald Trump as president, the risk of a nuclear war is considerably
greater than it was
(not only according to me), and then it may be over with
in 5 to 10 minutes (and probably the USA, Europe and Russia blown up).

And this is a recommended article.

4. Are There 22 Patriotic House Republicans?

The fourth article is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Trump warning to former FBI Director James Comey against leaking anything negative about him – tweeting “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” – is deeply troubling.

The core issue here is not whether Trump is secretly recording his meetings or telephone calls (Trump and his White House aides refuse to say whether he tapes his visitors, something he was suspected of doing when he was in business in New York).

The real issues are these:

(1) The illegality of a President of the United States seeking to intimidate a potential witness in a congressional investigation.

(2) The illegality of a President potentially intimidating current FBI personnel who are investigating that president or his aides, by firing the former FBI head who was leading such an investigation and now threatening retaliation against him.

I would add the fact that Trump may be secretly recording his meetings or telephone calls (which brought down Nixon), but otherwise I agree.

Then there is this question:

The question now is whether there exist 22 House Republicans whose loyalty to the United States exceeds their loyalty to the Republican Party, who would join with House Democrats in seeking a bill of impeachment.

I am afraid that this is not the case. As yet. But I agree that it seems to me that there are sufficient reasons to impeach Trump, and that I hope he will be removed somehow before he blows up the world in a fit of pique.

5. Top NSA Whistleblower: Ransomware Hack Due to “Swindle of the Taxpayers” by Intelligence Agencies

The fifth and last article today is by Washington's Blog on his site:
This starts as follows:

What should we make of the global ransomware attacks which happened today?

We’ve documented that the intelligence services intentionally create digital vulnerabilities, then intentionally leave them open … leaving us exposed and insecure.

Washington’s Blog asked the highest level NSA whistleblower ever* – Bill Binney – what he thinks of the attacks.

Binney told us:

This is what I called short sighted finite thinking on the part of the Intelligence Community managers.

This is also what I called (for some years now) a swindle of the tax payers. First, they find or create weaknesses then they don’t fix these weaknesses so we are all vulnerable to attack.

Then, when attacks occur, they say they need more money for cyber security — a total swindle!!! [Indeed.]

This is only the second swindle of the public. The first was terror efforts by saying we need to collect everything to stop terror — another lie. They said that because to collect everything takes lots and lots of money.

Then, when the terror attack occurs, they say they need more money, people and data to stop terror. Another swindle from the start. [The war on terror is a “self-licking ice cream cone”, because it creates many more terrorists than it stops.]

And, finally, the latest swindle “THE RUSSIANS DID IT.” This is an effort to start a new cold war which means another bigger swindle of US tax payers.

For cyber security, I would suggest the president order NSA, CIA and any others to fix the cyber problems they know about; then, maybe we will start to have some cyber security.

The bottom line is that our intelligence services should start concentrating on actually defending us, rather than focusing their resources on offensive mischief.

I like William Binney (<-Wikipedia) and have quite often quoted or mentioned him, and he seems completely right in the quotation of him.

And this is a recommended article.


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