Sunday, August 6, 2017

Crisis: Freedoms Threatened, National Security State, Internet, Neocons, Manipulation

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 6, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, August 6, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from August 6, 2017

The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. In 'Direct Attack on the First Amendment,' Sessions Declares War on Leaks

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. This stars as follows:
Citing the "staggering" number of leaks that have emerged from the Trump White House over the last several months, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced during a press conference on Friday that the Justice Department is gearing up to intensify its pursuit of those who disclose sensitive and classified information.

Sessions went on to declare that the Justice Department will seek to punish not just those who leak the information, but also the news organizations that decide to publish it. The department will soon be conducting a "review" of its "policies affecting media subpoenas," Sessions said.

These comments—which come in the midst of President Donald Trump's sustained attacks on journalists and the media—were viewed by press freedom groups, journalists, and civil libertarians as "a direct attack on the First Amendment."

Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in response to Sessions's press conference that "[e]very American should be concerned about the Trump administration's threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists," as it represents an attack "on democracy as a whole."

I care considerably less for the First Amendment (<- Wikipedia), although I think it is important as regards free speech and the freedom of the press, as I do about the rise of totalitarianism and neofascism in the USA, for that is what it is: Soon "the media" in the USA will only be allowed to print what the government allows them to print.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

2. What’s Worse: Trump’s Campaign Agenda or Empowering Generals and CIA Operatives to Subvert it?

This article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. This starts as follows:

During his successful 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, for better and for worse, advocated a slew of policies that attacked the most sacred prongs of long-standing bipartisan Washington consensus. As a result, he was (and continues to be) viewed as uniquely repellent by the neoliberal and neoconservative guardians of that consensus, along with their sprawling network of agencies, think tanks, financial policy organs, and media outlets used to implement their agenda (CIA, NSA, the Brookings/AEI think tank axis, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, etc.).

Whatever else there is to say about Trump, it is simply a fact that the 2016 election saw elite circles in the U.S., with very few exceptions, lining up with remarkable fervor behind his Democratic opponent. Top CIA officials openly declared war on Trump in the nation’s op-ed pages and one of their operatives (now an MSNBC favorite) was tasked with stopping him in Utah, while Time Magazine reported, just a week before the election, that “the banking industry has supported Clinton with buckets of cash . . . . what bankers most like about Clinton is that she is not Donald Trump.”
Yes, or a bit more precisely:

While in previous days - and until about 1980 - "the American people" had some voice in their own government, which they could publish in the media and enforce in elections, since 1980 the very rich (like the Koch brothers, but there are quite a few more) bought most of the Senate (a hundred persons, in all: Not very difficult if you own billions) and most of the House, and also heavily centralized the media, which now also mostly - especially the mainstream media - talk in the terms and only deal in the subjects that their rich owners desire are talked about.

Democracy is dead in the USA, indeed not because the majority of the American people desire it, but because the majority of the extremely rich have bought the majority of the Senate and the House and the vast majority of the mainstream media. And they only wish to hear or read what the very rich approved is good for "the population" to hear or read.

There is also this, from somewhere in the middle of the article:
Whatever else is true, there is now simply no question that there is open warfare between adherents to the worldview Trump advocated in order to win, and the permanent national security power faction in Washington that – sometimes for good, and sometimes for evil – despises that agenda.
I don't know, in fact mostly because both the Republicans ("the worldview Trump advocated") and the Democrats ("the permanent national security power faction in Washington") have been bought by the very rich, in large majority at least.

And while I agree with Greenwald that what he now calls "the
National Security State" may dislike Trump basically because he is not sane but is a very unpredictable megalomaniac who doesn't follow their views when he doesn't like to, in fact their difficulties with Trump are management problems - how to control Trump's utter lack of sanity - much rather than ideological or political difficulties: They have solved their principal difficulties simply by buying most of "the people's representatives".

Here is Greenwald's ending:

In terms of some of the popular terms that are often thrown around these days – such as “authoritarianism” and “democratic norms” and “U.S. traditions” – it’s hard to imagine many things that would pose a greater threat to all of that than empowering the National Security State (what, before Trump, has long been called the Deep State) to exert precisely the power that is supposed to be reserved exclusively for elected officials. In sum, Trump opponents should be careful of what they wish for, as it might come true.
First, I think I like the substitution of "the National Security State" for "the Deep State", fundamentally because it is more clear as to who is in the Deep State and who runs the Deep State (the secret services of the USA, basically, together with some very rich men and their lawyers and senators).

But second, and supposing I am right that the National Security State has most of the powers they wanted anyway, I am still more against Trump than against Obama - say, if the political frontmen are to be mentioned - simply because (and I am a psychologist, who knows a lot better what madness is like than most non-psychologists) I think Trump is not sane but is a madman, and one should not give madmen the powers to blow up the whole world.

And this is a recommended article.

3. Internet Party of New Zealand Hosts #AntiSpyBill Live Event

This article is by Emmy Niles on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

The Internet Party of New Zealand is live-streaming its general election campaign, featuring guests such as award-winning investigative journalist Barrett Brown, hacktivist Lauri Love and stand-up comedian Lee Camp. The party’s platform is based on internet freedom and consumer privacy protections, and it’s looking to the public to help draft legislation during the #AntiSpyBill event, which will stream live on YouTube on Sunday, Aug. 6, from 8 p.m.–11 p.m. NZST (1 a.m.– 4 a.m. PDT).

A press release from the Internet Party explains:

Once finalised the draft legislation, dubbed the 2017 #AntiSpyBill, will be submitted to human rights, privacy and political organisations and groups around the world, to lobby for its adoption.

The initiative seeks to counter the damage to democratic and human rights inflicted upon New Zealanders by a string of draconian spying laws passed between 2013 and 2016. These laws have retroactively legalised previously illegal targeting of New Zealanders, including warrantless spying and covertly filming them inside their homes, Orwell-style - a practice referred to in law as “domestic visual surveillance”.

There is some more in the article, but it is basically here because I think that "spying and covertly filming them inside their homes, Orwell-style" probably happens now all over "the West", and not just in New Zealand or the USA or Great Britain.

Anyway, this is a recommended article.

4. Neocons Leverage Trump-Hate for More Wars

This article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews. This starts as follows:
A savvy Washington observer once told me that the political reality about the neoconservatives is that they alone couldn’t win you a single precinct in the United States. But both Republicans and Democrats still line up to gain neocon support or at least neocon acceptance.

Part of the reason for this paradox is the degree of dominance that the neoconservatives have established in the national news media – as op-ed writers and TV commentators – and the neocon ties to the Israel Lobby that is famous for showering contributions on favored politicians and on the opponents of those not favored.

Since the neocons’ emergence as big-time foreign policy players in the Reagan administration, they also have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, receiving a steady flow of money often through U.S. government-funded grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and through donations from military contractors to hawkish neocon think tanks.

Yes indeed. There is considerably more in the article, that ends as follows:

In other words, the prospects for advancing the neocon agenda of more “regime change” wars and coups have grown – and the neocons can claim as their allies virtually the entire Democratic Party hierarchy which is so eager to appease its angry #Resistance base that even the heightened risk of nuclear war is being ignored.

In fact, I believe "the neocon agenda" has the vast majority simply because most Senators and most House members have been bought by the rich. But this is a recommended article.

5.  Free your brain: How Silicon Valley denies us the freedom to pay attention

This article is by David Priest on Salon. It starts as follows:

In late June, Mark Zuckerberg announced the new mission of Facebook: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

The rhetoric of the statement is carefully selected, centered on empowering people, and in so doing, ushering in world peace, or at least something like it. Tech giants across Silicon Valley are adopting similarly utopian visions, casting themselves as the purveyors of a more connected, more enlightened, more empowered future. Every year, these companies articulate their visions onstage at internationally streamed pep rallies, Apple’s WWDC and Google’s I/O being the best known.

But companies like Facebook can only “give people the power” because we first ceded it to them, in the form of our attention. After all, that is how many Silicon Valley companies thrive: Our attention, in the form of eyes and ears, provides a medium for them to advertise to us. And the more time we spend staring at them, the more money Facebook and Twitter make — in effect, it’s in their interest that we become psychologically dependent on the self-esteem boost from being wired in all the time.

This quest for our eyeballs doesn’t mesh well with Silicon Valley’s utopian visions of world peace and people power. Earlier this year, many sounded alarm bells when a “60 Minutes” exposť revealed the creepy cottage industry of “brain-hacking,” industrial psychology techniques that tech giants use and study to make us spend as much time staring at screens as possible.

Yes, indeed. There is considerably more, including Priest's answer to the question what ordinary people should do.

My own response is this:

I don't like Windows. It is not open source. I don't use it.
I don't like Facebook. It combines propagandizing with spying.
I don't use it.
I don't like Google. It's spying.
I don't use it (except for Youtube).
I don't like Twitter. It's stupefying.
I don't use it.

And I think anybody can do this. This is a recommended article.


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