This starts as follows (and this is
from The New
Evan Williams is the guy who
opened up Pandora’s box. Until he came along, people had few places to
go with their overflowing emotions and wild opinions, other than
writing a letter to the newspaper or haranguing the neighbors.
Williams — a Twitter
founder, a co-creator of Blogger — set everyone free, providing tools
to address the world. In the history of communications technology, it
was a development with echoes of Gutenberg.
here we are in 2017. How’s it going, Mr. Williams?
the internet is broken,” he says. He has believed this for a few years,
actually. But things are getting worse. “And it’s a lot more obvious to
a lot of people that it’s broken.”
In the first place, here is a
Wikipedia link to Evan
Williams. From this it emerges he initiated the extremely
moronifying Twitter and also Google's Blogger. He also is a
billionaire in dollars.
What would a guy like that have
to say? The above is mostly baloney, but he says he thinks (one must be
careful to infer that he thinks what he says) that "the intenet is
I agree, but I think it was intentionally
broken from the start, and specifically by not
encrypting anything, which realized the possibilities for spying on
everyone that were already foreseen in 1968 (see here).
Here is more on what Williams
may have in mind:
are using Facebook to showcase suicides, beatings and murder, in real
time. Twitter is a hive of trolling and abuse that it seems unable to
stop. Fake news, whether created for ideology or profit, runs rampant.
Four out of 10 adult internet users said in a
Pew survey that they had been harassed online. And that was before
the presidential campaign heated up last year.
“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange
information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better
place,” Mr. Williams says. “I was wrong about that.”
Speaking just for myself: I
hate Facebook. I hate and despise Twitter. I completely fail to
comprehend why Williams does not terminate Twitter if he thinks -
correctly also, it seems - thay it "is a hive of
trolling and abuse that it seems unable to stop".
But then he still makes money from it, "so why stop it?" (as he will probably be thinking).
Here is the last bit that I'll
quote from this:
No, not at all: The troubles with the
internet are (1) it has delivered the full and complete privacy of at
least 4 billion persons into the hands of - probably very many - secret
spies that work for governments, which (2) makes it possible to
completely control absolutely everybody by the very few who govern, and
(3) it also has extended the capacities to spy on absolutely everything
anyone does to commercial firms like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
The Silicon Valley entrepreneur first drew notice during the
dot-com boom, for developing software that allowed users to easily set
up a website for broadcasting their thoughts: blogging. By the time
Google bought the company in 2003, more than a million people were
came Twitter, which wasn’t his idea but was his company. He remains the
largest individual shareholder and a board member.
After fame and fortune come regrets. Mr.
Williams is trying to fix some things.
The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams
says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and
see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet
interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car
crashes, so it tries to supply them.
And I think Mr. Wiliiams is either bullshitting or a fool.
Rights Lawyer: Sweden Dropping Investigation of WikiLeaks' Assange is
"Long Overdue Decision"
The second article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy
This starts with the following
prosecutors have dropped an investigation into allegations of sexual
misconduct by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has denied the
allegations, which he calls a pretext for his ultimate extradition to
the U.S. to face prosecution under the Espionage Act. Since 2012,
Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. It’s not
clear whether Assange will emerge any time soon. "This is a small
victory, but in this long road to free Julian Assange and all the
people working for WikiLeaks," says our guest Renata Avila, a Courage
Foundation trustee and human rights lawyer. "But it will finally help
us lawyers to focus on the main issue, which is the persecution, the
political persecution, and imminent prosecution of Julian Assange in
the United States."
I paid yesterday some attention to the dropping
of Sweden's investigations into Julian Assange. And I agree with the
above. Here is some more:
AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks tweeted Friday, quote,
"UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US
extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to UK,"
end-quote. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed
the U.S. has prepared a warrant for Assange, calling his arrest a
For more, we’re joined by Democracy
Now! video stream—Renata Avila is with us, a Courage Foundation
trustee and human rights lawyer. She’s been advising WikiLeaks and
Julian Assange under the direction of Baltasar Garzón, the former
Spanish judge who has indicted Augusto Pinochet, Osama bin Laden, Bush
administration officials and many others on human rights grounds.
Incidentally, I think it is unjust that
the British government "refuses to confirm or
deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for
Julian Assange". There is some more below on
First there is this:
AVILA: I cannot hide my
smile, to be honest. It is such a week to celebrate. It is a week to
celebrate. This is a small victory, but in this long road to free
Julian Assange and all the people working for WikiLeaks. But it will
finally help us lawyers to focus on the main issue, which is the
persecution, the political persecution, and imminent prosecution of
Julian Assange in the United States. And so, we are ready now for the
battle to defend his right to publish. It was a long overdue decision
from Swedish courts. Even the United Nations told them to do so more
than one year ago and declare his detention arbitrary. But now,
finally, for the second time, we can say that he is innocent in the
Swedish system. He has never been charged of a crime. And we hope that
this will help people to focus on the issue that matters in this case,
which is our right to know and his right to publish.
Note first that in fact Assange "has never been charged of a crime"
(by Sweden). And second, she is right that this will at least "help people to focus on the issue that matters in this case,
which is our right to know and his right to publish".
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from
AMY GOODMAN: Renata, NSA
whistleblower Edward Snowden has called on Donald Trump to drop the
U.S. government’s investigation into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He
joined more than a hundred other activists, journalists, government
workers in signing an open letter from
the Courage Foundation to President Trump that calls prosecuting
WikiLeaks, quote, "a threat to all free journalism." The letter asks
the Department of Justice to drop plans to charge Assange and other
WikiLeaks staff members, and reads, quote, "If the DOJ
is able to convict a publisher for its journalistic work, all free
journalism can be criminalised." So, if you can respond to this,
Renata, and also what happens now? Has the Ecuadorean government
responded? And what about the British government? If Julian Assange
steps foot outside—he is not wanted by Sweden—will the British
government arrest him?
AVILA: I will answer the
last question first. The U.K. is refusing to respect its international
obligations. And they said that—Met Police issued a statement saying
that they will arrest him. They will arrest him for a minor infraction
on jumping bail. But it is a misunderstanding, because he didn’t jump
bail. He had—he didn’t stay a night in the house under house arrest,
because he needed to exercise his right to asylum.
I think Avila is right, but here the
connection with Germany stopped working. This is a recommended article.
Did Trump Commit High Crimes and Misdemeanors?
The third article is by Marjorie Cohn on The Huffington Post:
This starts as follows:
Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein has responded to the crescendo of outrage by appointing former FBI director Robert
Mueller as special counsel to investigate “any links and/or
coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated
with the campaign of President Donald Trump’’ and “any matters that
arose or may arise directly from the investigation’’ as well as any
other matters within the scope of the Department of Justice (DOJ)
regulation on special counsel appointments.
I have written about the appointment of
Robert Mueller III two days ago. See here.
The present article is interesting (for me, at least) because it looks at the American
laws and the hitherto existing evidence. First, there is this:
Incidentally, note that this - "the cover-up is worse than the crime"
- was also true of Nixon, who was forced out of office, in the end.
Evidence of a Cover-up by Trump
As evidence of President Donald Trump’s
malfeasance emerges, the old adage that the cover-up is worse than the
crime may once again prove true.
There is circumstantial evidence of
improper contact between members of the Trump administration and
Russian operatives during the presidential campaign. At this point,
however, we have seen no concrete proof of criminal conduct.
But evidence of a cover-up continues to
mount. Trump has admitted the Russia
investigation motivated him to fire FBI director James Comey.
Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of
former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump made veiled threats to Comey about
possible tapes of their conversations. Trump demanded that Comey pledge
loyalty to him, but Comey refused.
Next, there is this on when an offense is impeachable:
What are High Crimes and
Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 65 that offenses
are impeachable if they “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or,
in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They
are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated
POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the
Again incidentally, I would say that there
are, by now, plenty of reasons to suspect Trump of "the abuse or violation of some public trust", althogh I also know that this suspicion is very much
colored by U.S. party politics.
This seems correct:
There is strong evidence that Trump
committed high crimes and misdemeanors to support an impeachment
investigation. Mueller will undoubtedly uncover a great deal more. The
new special counsel should send the results of his investigation to the
House of Representatives, where impeachment proceedings take place.
Then there is this:
Yes indeed, although (incidentally again) it
seems as if Trump seems to be mostly not conscious of the sharp divide
between the judiciary and the executive powers of government (in a real
Obstruction of Justice
The articles of impeachment in the cases
of both Nixon and Clinton contained allegations of obstruction of
The federal obstruction of justice statute punishes
anyone who “corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening
letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors
to influence, obstruct, or impede . . . the due and proper exercise of
the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being
had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint
committee of the Congress.”
A conviction of obstruction of justice
requires “acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing
If Trump did fire Comey because the
latter’s investigation was getting too close to incriminating Trump, it
would be a cover-up, and strong evidence of obstruction of justice.
This is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Yes indeed. There is more in this article and
it is recomnended.
The federal witness tampering statute punishes
anyone who “knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly
persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in
misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to influence,
delay or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding”
A person also engages in witness
tampering if he “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any
official proceeding, or attempts to do so” or “intentionally harasses
another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any
person from attending or testifying in an official proceeding.”
Comey reported that Trump asked him for
his loyalty. Although the FBI requires its officials to pledge fealty
to the Constitution, not to any individual leader, Trump sought to
elicit a personal loyalty oath from the FBI director. This may be
evidence of intimidation to prevent Comey from testifying against Trump.
4. The Long Ordeal of
The fourth article today is by John Pilger on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Julian Assange has been vindicated
because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor,
Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession
with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but
exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its
crimes of war and “rendition.”
Had Assange not sought refuge in the
Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind
of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.
This prospect was obscured by the grim
farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James
Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it
up as they go along.”
It may have seemed that way, but there
was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document
prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold
a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.
The “mission” was to destroy the “trust”
that was WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity.” This would be achieved with
threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution.” Silencing and
criminalizing such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.
In case you do not know: John Pilger is an
Australian journalist who lives in Great Britain since a long time, and
who supported and supports Julian Assange, also
since a long time.
Here are two of the main reasons why
Pilger supports Assange:
Quite so, although one should not put too
much trust in Obama. Here is more on the First Amendment:
Perhaps this was understandable.
WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs,
including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the
wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for
sovereignty and international law.
These disclosures are protected by the
First Amendment of the U.S, Constitution. As a presidential candidate
in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded
whistle blowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be
protected from reprisal.”
The First Amendment protects
publishers, journalists and whistleblowers, whether it is the editor of
the New York Times or the editor of WikiLeaks. The very notion of free
speech is described as America’s “ founding virtue” or, as Thomas
Jefferson called it, “our currency.”
I quite agree with this. But the US
government changed the allegations against Assange (who has only been
publishing documents that the U.S. government wants to keep secret):
Faced with this hurdle, the U.S. Justice
Department has contrived charges of “espionage,” “conspiracy to commit
espionage,” “conversion” (theft of government property), “computer
fraud and abuse” (computer hacking) and general “conspiracy.” The
favored Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and
conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life
imprisonment and the death penalty.
Assange’s ability to defend himself in
such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the U.S. declaring
his case a state secret. In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked
the release of all information about the “national security”
investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was “active and ongoing”
and would harm the “pending prosecution” of Assange. The judge, Barbara
J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show “appropriate deference to
the executive in matters of national security.” This is a kangaroo
That is to say: The U.S. government
accuses Assange of "espionage", I take it because this "has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty", which is not based on facts, while next it also
has blocked "the release of all information" about Assange simply because of this false
Here is some more on Assange's
illegitimate treatment by the Swedes:
Writing in the Swedish press, a former
Swedish prosecutor, Rolf Hillegren, accused Ny of losing all
impartiality. He described her personal investment in the case as
“abnormal” and demanded she be replaced.
Assange asked the Swedish authorities
for a guarantee that he would not be “rendered” to the U.S. if he
was extradited to Sweden. This was refused. In December 2010, The
Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward
extradition to the U.S.
And here is part of Pilger's sum-up:
I agree, although I would say the U.S. threat
was (also) a threat of democracy, individual freedom, and freedom of
For almost seven years, this epic
miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign
against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents. Deeply
personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man
not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted
out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his
wife. That the U.S. threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists,
and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the
ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism.
There is more in the original, and this is a recommended article.