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Nederlog

Friday, October 13, 2017

Crisis: Tech Giants, Trump Unravelling, Ai Weiwei, Trump & Genocide, Reich

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Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 13, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, October 13, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from October 13, 2017
1. Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now
     Viewed as Threats

2. “I Hate Everyone in the White House!”: Trump
     Seethes as Advisers Fear the President Is
     “Unraveling”

3. Ai Weiwei's Harrowing Film on the Refugee Crisis
     Is a Must-See

4. Trump Threatens Genocide, Crimes Against
    Humanity in North Korea
5. Is Trump Unraveling?
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. Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats

This article is by David Streitfeld on the New York Times. It starts as follows:

At the start of this decade, the Arab Spring blossomed with the help of social media. That is the sort of story the tech industry loves to tell about itself: It is bringing freedom, enlightenment and a better future for all mankind.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, proclaimed that this was exactly why his social network existed. In a 2012 manifesto for investors, he said Facebook was a tool to create “a more honest and transparent dialogue around government.” The result, he said, would be “better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.”

Now tech companies are under fire for creating problems instead of solving them.
I don't think Suckerbug from the spying Fuckbook ever publicly said anything that is honest and true, but then again I despise him and his company and I don't want anything to do with it and never did.

As to David Streitfeld: He is - it seems: I am not a regular reader of the NYT, though I glance at it every day - one of the computer specialists of the NYT who was, until now it seems, a strong enthusiast for computers and computer technology.

I am not - and I explained this quite thoroughly in 2012 (before knowing anything about Edward Snowden, whose courage and honesty in 2013 strongly supported me) in my
Crisis: Christmas sermon: Hypotheses about CF+SS [2]: I did like computers from 1979, when I first used an Apple II of a friend (I got my own computerin 1987) until ca. 2010, but I have learned since then that everybody is spied upon by very numerous secret services and by very numerous corporate entities like Google, Facebook, Apple, Windows and Amazone, and is very probably far better known by their secret dossiers these entities compiled on them than they know themselves.

Since I think spying on ordinary citizens is fascistic, extremely immoral, extremey sickening, and extremely dangerous for everyone spied upon by any entity, and in total contradiction with my human rights, I have radically diminished my computer activities since 2012, limiting myself to Firefox and e-mails on a desktop. I don't have and never wlll have a cell-phone; nor a Facebook account; nor do or did I buy anything from Amazone; and neither do I use Windows since 2012 nor an Apple since the early 1990s, etc. etc.

In brief, my own conclusions about computers and the internet - and see
On The Crisis: Robert Reich, Socialism, 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis that is the latest version of the hypotheses I first stated in 2012 - are that

1. Computers and the internet are by far the best means to start a
neofascistic society in which almost everyone is fully controlled by totally unknown entities and persons who can manipulate and deceive them, and control whatever information they get, and also

2. They have been very probably designed (see
Crisis: propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968) to do and be precisely that (for otherwise Brezinski could not have predicted in 1968 precisely what was there by 2000).

You may disagree, but I know a whole lot about computing and politics,
and much as I dislike these conclusions, I think they are very probably factually true.

Anyway, back to the article, that certainly was written by someone who is much less radical in his opinions than I am:

Tech companies have accrued a tremendous amount of power and influence. Amazon determines how people shop, Google how they acquire knowledge, Facebook how they communicate. All of them are making decisions about who gets a digital megaphone and who should be unplugged from the web.

Their amount of concentrated authority resembles the divine right of kings, and is sparking a backlash that is still gathering force.
Precisely. Incidentally, I have concluded - from information others compiled about my sites - that Google very probably bans me, although so far Youtube works for me.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this piece:

Justin Rosenstein, a former Facebook engineer, was portrayed in a recent Guardian story as an apostate: Noting that sometimes inventors have regrets, he said he had programmed his new phone to not let him use the social network.

Mr. Rosenstein, a co-founder of Asana, an office productivity start-up, said in an email that he had banned not just Facebook but also the Safari and Chrome browsers, Gmail and other applications.

Rosenstein is right, though also not - by far - as radical as I am.

There is a lot more in this article, that is recommended.
 

2. “I Hate Everyone in the White House!”: Trump Seethes as Advisers Fear the President Is “Unraveling

This article is by Gabriel Sherman on Vanity Fair. It starts with the following subtitle:

In recent days, I’ve spoken with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.

The article itself starts as follows:

At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”

Yes indeed - but it is also true that psychologists (like me) could have told him so very much earlier, and indeed did so in my case (and I  certainly was not - by far - the first to do so) e.g. in Crisis: Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? and in Crisis: Donald Trump is a megalomaniac neofascist (I think).

Incidentally: when I do speak of "neofascism" I am not scolding; I am using a quite good definition (that I have not seen anyone else use, but then again I know much more about fascism and neofascism than the vast majority does [3]).

Here is more by Sherman:

In recent days, I spoke with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.

I only like to draw your attention to my Crisis: Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? - that mostly consists of quotes by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who said (and predicted) just that in 2016.

Then there is this:

According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision.

I say. Well... the president of the USA can start a nuclear war in five minutes or so. I very much do hope Kelly or others prevent his doing so, but these are the facts: If Trump wants to start a nuclear war, he very probably can do so, as long as he is president of the USA.

And that is also the subject of the last quotation from this article:

One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts.

First note the term "speculated". And second, tackling the president of the USA is both very difficult and very risky.

There is more in the article, that is strongly recommended.

3. Ai Weiwei's Harrowing Film on the Refugee Crisis Is a Must-See

This article is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Once called the “contemporary art world’s most powerful player,” Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei has turned his focus onto the most urgent humanitarian issue of our time: the global refugee crisis. In a new documentary called “Human Flow,” the artist—who has made political statements the core of his art—explores how war, violence and climate change have made refugees of 65 million people.

Ai, who traveled with his camera crew to 23 countries over the course of a year, captured intimate moments of desperation that have driven refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Palestine, Myanmar and elsewhere, risking their lives to escape violence. The film is sweeping and vast, with drone-camera shots utilizing aerial views to showcase the extent of the crisis, combined with intimate iPhone footage taken by Ai.

I wrote about Ai Weiwei on October 10 (and this is strongly recommended, as are the sources on Democracy Now!).

This time it is about another subject than Ai Weiwei himself, namely about no less than 65 million refugees that are - for the most part - left to their own miseries by the governments of Europe and the USA:

“Human Flow” is essential viewing for Americans, whose government has not only had a hand in creating many of the crises that drive migration, but is also actively closing the door to refugees. “The U.S. does have a responsibility,” Ai told me in an interview about his film. “Very often people in the United States think that something happening in different continents doesn’t really affect the U.S.” But, he says, “Look at U.S. policy and what’s happening today: the travel ban, or the building of this ‘beautiful’ fence or wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It all shows that the leadership has a very, very questionable position in dealing with migration and refugees.”

Indeed, President Donald Trump—with the help of the Supreme Court—has kept in place a de facto blanket ban on refugees entering the country.
Precisely. There is considerably more in the article, that ends as follows: 

What Ai’s film offers is what is missing most from our discussions of the refugee crisis: the fact that those who are fleeing are real people who bleed when they are injured, who cry when they are hurt, among whom are innocent children and tired elders, who are all being abandoned in a moment we will collectively look back on in shame.

“Human Flow” opens in theaters nationwide in October. Learn more online at www.humanflow.com.

I have one point of criticism: if "our discussions" missed "the fact that those who are fleeing are real people who bleed when they are injured" then I infer that "our discussions" were much more like propaganda than like the real facts.

But this is a recommended article.


4. Trump Threatens Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea

This article is by Marjorie Crohn on Truthdig and originally on Truthout. It starts as follows:

Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19. That threat violates the UN Charter, and indicates an intent to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, the war crime of collective punishment and international humanitarian law. Moreover, a first-strike use of nuclear weapons would violate international law.

By threatening to attack North Korea, Trump is endangering the lives of countless people. In the past, he has indicated his willingness to use nuclear weapons and Kim Jong-un has threatened to retaliate. The rapidly escalating rhetoric and provocative maneuvers on both sides has taken us to the brink of war.

Yes, I agree, although to speak of "endangering the lives of countless people" is considerably less precise than it could be: There are 24 million North Koreans and 61 million South Koreans, and all of these are personally threatened by a nuclear war: That sums to 85 million persons - and that is assuming that a nuclear war, if it occurs in Korea, remains limited to Korea.

Here is North Korea's reaction to Trump's - utterly illegal - threats:

Trump’s threat prompted North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho to state, “Given the fact that this [threat] came from someone who holds the seat of the US presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war.”

Ri added, “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make counter-measures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

Next, a considerable part of the rest of the article is taken up by good explanations why Trump's threats were illegal. I leave them to your interests, and only quote the ending of the article:

Donald Trump’s apocalyptic threat against North Korea violates international law. It also imperils the lives of untold numbers of people. We must urge Congress to prevent Trump from launching a catastrophic war.

Yes indeed - but (thanks to Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, in good part, for they destroyed Bernie Sanders' chances to compete with Trump about the presidency) Congress is Republican, and most of the Republicans are very rightist.

And this is a recommended article.


5. Is Trump Unraveling?

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Last week, Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview with the New York Times that Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

Corker said he was concerned about Trump. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said, adding that “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here … the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Corker’s interview was followed by a report from Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair, who wrote that the situation has gotten so out of control that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack.
In fact, I have reviewed both Corker and Sherman's article in Nederlog. But this was by way of introduction.

Here is more:
Kelly has tried to keep Trump focused by intercepting outside phone calls to the White House and restricting access to the Oval Office. Many of Trump’s advisors believe he is “unstable” and “unravelling” quickly. 

Is Trump really unraveling? Are Republican leaders ready to pull the plug? I phoned an old friend, a Republican former member of Congress who keeps up with what’s going on. I scribbled notes as he talked:

I am not a lawyer (like most American politicians, it seems) but I am a psychologist, and it is obvious to me - as a psychologist - that since March 14, 2016 that Trump is not sane.

Here is some of the dialogue between Reich and the "Republican former member of Congress":

He: (..) Others are thinking about doing what Bob did. Sounding the alarm. They think Trump’s nuts. Unfit. Dangerous. 

Me: Well, they already knew that, didn’t they? 

He: But now it’s personal. It started with the Sessions stuff. Jeff was as loyal as they come. Trump’s crapping on him was like kicking your puppy. And then, you know, him beating up on Mitch for the Obamacare fiasco. And going after Flake and the others.

I say: They were not much worried when millions of others were threatened, but they were when it got personal. And while I grant that is the normal reaction, they have extremely powerful positions that do require an interest in the interests of others than themselves.

But OK... here is some more:

Me: You think Trump is really thinking nuclear war?

He: Who knows what’s in his head? But I can tell you this. He’s not listening to anyone. Not a soul. He’s got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me. It’s starting to scare all of them. That’s really why Bob spoke up.

I say, once again, but this time because I entirely agree: "He’s got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me."

Here is the ending:

Me: So what’s gonna happen?

He: You got me. I’m just glad I’m not there anymore. Trump’s not just a moron. He’s a despicable human being. And he’s getting crazier. Paranoid. Unhinged. Everyone knows it. I mean, we’re in shit up to our eyeballs with this guy.

I agree, although - again as a psychologist - while I do agree "he is getting crazier" I know that the ordinary moral norms that do apply to ordinary normal people do not quite apply, in the same sense, to people who are insane, as I think Trump is.

Then again, he also is the president of the USA, who can start a nuclear war when he pleases.

------------------------------
  Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

[2] I gave this reference to 2012 because it is the earliest reference, but the latest update is here: On The Crisis: Robert Reich, Socialism, 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis.

[3] Because my grandfather was murdered by the Nazis in a concent- ration camp; my father survived more than 3 years an 9 months of German concentration camps (both for resisting the Nazis); and because I have been - totally falsely, because I did oppose the communist and later postmodernistic ASVA - called "a filthy fascist" (many times) and "a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist" for opposing that ASVA.

The first happened the first time over 40 years ago (and was many times repeated until 1989); the second happened in 1988, when I was illegally denied the right of taking the M.A. in philosophy after I had publicly criticized the totally incompetent parasites (all but one) wo "taught" me.

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