Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Crisis: CIA & Binney, Bernie Sanders, Chomsky, Reich on Trump, Extreme Poverty

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from November 8, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday
November 8, 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 November 8, 2017
1. CIA Director Met Advocate of Disputed DNC Hack
     Theory — at Trump’s Request

2. Bernie Sanders Warns of 'International Oligarchy'
     After Paradise Papers Leak

3. Chomsky: High College Tuition Is a Blunt
     Instrument to Keep the Middle Class Down

4. A Year Witout A President
5. Extreme Poverty Cut in Half? Only in the Minds of
     the Capitalists
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. CIA Director Met Advocate of Disputed DNC Hack Theory — at Trump’s Request

This article is by Duncan Campbell and James Risen on The Intercept. This article starts as follows:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo met late last month with a former U.S. intelligence official who has become an advocate for a disputed theory that the theft of the Democratic National Committee’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign was an inside job, rather than a hack by Russian intelligence.

Pompeo met on October 24 with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community’s official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year’s theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was “leaked,” not hacked, “by a person with physical access” to the DNC’s computer system.

In an interview with The Intercept, Binney said Pompeo told him that President Donald Trump had urged the CIA director to meet with Binney to discuss his assessment that the DNC data theft was an inside job. During their hour-long meeting at CIA headquarters, Pompeo said Trump told him that if Pompeo “want[ed] to know the facts, he should talk to me,” Binney said.

I think this is quite interesting, and do so mostly for two reasons:

(1) I agree with William Binney (and with Robert Parry and others) that the ¨evidence¨ given by some of the American secret services that ¨Russia pirated the American elections¨ etc. is not real evidence but is in fact propaganda, and

(2) I agree with Binney that it is more likely that the DNC´s computer data were not hacked but were most probably leaked.

I have written before about this (check the index with ¨Russia-gate¨). Here is some more:

Binney said that Pompeo asked whether he would be willing to meet with NSA and FBI officials to further discuss his analysis of the DNC data theft. Binney agreed and said Pompeo said he would contact him when he had arranged the meetings.

It is highly unorthodox for the CIA director to reach out to someone like Binney, a 74-year-old ex-government employee who rose to prominence as an NSA whistleblower wrongfully persecuted by the government, for help with fact-finding related to the theft of the DNC emails.
Yes, I think that is all true, but it is also true that Trump is opposed by the secret services, that may be a part from the military-industrial complex or the Deep State, and that Binney preferred Trump over Clinton in the last elections.

As to how Trump knew about Binney, there is this:
It is possible Trump learned about Binney and his analysis by watching Fox News, where Binney has been a frequent guest, appearing at least 10 times since September 2016. In August, Binney appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show to discuss his assessment that the narrative of Russia hacking the DNC during the 2016 campaign is untrue, stating that “many people are emotionally tied to this agenda, to tie the Russians to President Trump.” Binney said he is not sure how Trump found out about his analysis.
“I was willing to meet Pompeo simply because it was clear to me the intelligence community wasn’t being honest here,” Binney said, referring to their assessment of the DNC email theft. “I am quite willing to help people who need the truth to find the truth and not simply have deceptive statements from the intelligence community.”

I completely agree with Binney´s ¨I am quite willing to help people who need the truth to find the truth and not simply have deceptive statements from the intelligence community¨.

There is considerably more in this article, that is recommended.

2. Bernie Sanders Warns of 'International Oligarchy' After Paradise Papers Leak

This article is by Ed Pilkington on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian. It starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders has warned that the world is rapidly becoming an “international oligarchy” controlled by a tiny number of billionaires, highlighted by the revelations in the Paradise Papers.

In a statement to the Guardian in the wake of the massive leak of documents exposing the secrets of offshore investors, Sanders said that the enrichment of wealthy individuals and companies in tax havens was “the major issue of our time”.

He said the Paradise Papers opened the door on a “major problem not just for the US but for governments throughout the world”.

“The major issue of our time is the rapid movement toward international oligarchy in which a handful of billionaires own and control a significant part of the global economy. The Paradise Papers shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” the US senator from Vermont said.

Yes indeed: I agree with Bernie Sanders, although I would use other terms to describe the same drift:

The rich and very rich in the world have combined with the secret services and the mostly corrupt (= bought by the rich) politicians who falsely claim to represent (the interests) of the non-rich and the poor.

And I call this drift neofascism (<- good definition) and have analysed it several times since 2012, the last time here On The Crisis: Robert Reich, Socialism, 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis
This is strongly recommended, for it is - by far - the most fundamental analysis I have given.

Here is some background information:

Sanders’ intervention in the debate sparked by the Paradise Papers marks the most prominent political response to the leak in their opening 24 hours. The investigation stems from the leak of some 13m files obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany and shared with almost 100 news organisations around the world including the Guardian by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Yes indeed, but I should add that if the Paradise Papers are developed and investigated as were the Panama Papers, I am rather doubtful whether the present developments will last longer than three to five months.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

3. Chomsky: High College Tuition Is a Blunt Instrument to Keep the Middle Class Down

This article is by C.J. Polychroniou on AlterNet and originally on Truthout. It starts as follows:

In an increasingly unequal country, the stakes are high for debates over student debt and the prospect of free higher education. Driven by neoliberal politics, our current educational system is both a product of and a driver of deep social inequities. In this interview, world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin take on the question of who should pay for education -- and how a radical reshaping of our educational system could be undertaken in the US.

This is the third part of a wide-ranging interview series with world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin. Read part one here and part two here.

These are good interviews, that I also have reviewed before. I can recommend them all and choose from the present one four bits by Noam Chomsky, that are chosen from a lot more text.

Here is the first bit:

Noam Chomsky: The educational system was a highly predictable victim of the neoliberal reaction, guided by the maxim of "private affluence and public squalor." Funding for public education has sharply declined. Tuition has exploded, leading to a plague of unpayable student debt. As higher education is driven to a business model in accord with neoliberal doctrine, administrative bureaucracy has sharply increased at the expense of faculty and students, developments reviewed well by sociologist Benjamin Ginsburg. Cost-cutting dictated by the revered market principles naturally leads to hyper-exploitation of the more vulnerable, creating a new precariat of graduate students and adjuncts surviving on a bare pittance, replacing tenured faculty. All of this happens to be a good disciplinary technique, for obvious reasons.

For those with eyes open, much of what has happened was anticipated by the early '70s, at the point of transition from regulated capitalism to incipient neoliberalism. At the time, there was mounting elite concern about the dangers posed by the democratizing and civilizing effects of 1960s activism, and particularly the role of young people during "the time of troubles." The concerns were forcefully expressed at both ends of the political spectrum.

I agree with everything, but do like to say that in my experience the Powell of Holland was minister Cals, who - at least! - halved all highschool educations & examinations in 1965, one hundred year after these quite good educations were instituted.

And I was there, and was so much appalled by this that I gave up the Dutch schools in 1967 (but I probably was the only one who did so).

And here is more on the hero of the right, Lewis F. Powell Jr., who organized a lot of the revolt of the rich, which was instituted by the rich to retain and extend their enormous advantages on the non-rich:

At the right end of the spectrum, the "Powell memorandum" sent by corporate lobbyist (later Supreme Court Justice) Lewis Powell to the Chamber of Commerce called upon the business community to rise up to defend itself against the assault on freedom led by Ralph Nader, Herbert Marcuse and other miscreants who had taken over the universities, the media and the government. The picture was, of course, ludicrous but it did reflect the perceptions of Powell's audience, desperate about the slight diminution in their overwhelming power.

Again I agree with all of this, although I must add that I did not hear these things - from the left - in the 1970ies and the 1980ies (apart - perhaps - from Allan Bloom).

There is also this bit, that I think I must disagree with:

At the other end of the spectrum, at about the same time, the liberal internationalists of the Trilateral Commission published their lament over "The Crisis of Democracy" that arose in the "terrible" '60s, when previously apathetic and marginalized parts of the population -- the great majority -- began to try to enter the political arena to pursue their interests. That posed an intolerable burden on the state. Accordingly, the Trilateral scholars called for more "moderation in democracy," a return to passivity and obedience. The American rapporteur, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, reminisced nostalgically about the time when "Truman had been able to govern the country with the cooperation of a relatively small number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers," so that true democracy flourished.

The reason I disagree is that this is not ¨the other end of the spectrum¨ but merely another right-wing variant.

And here is one very central point:

Student debt is structured to be a burden for life. The indebted cannot declare bankruptcy, unlike Trump. Current student debt is estimated to be over $1.45 trillion, [more than] $600 billion more than total credit card debt. Most is unpayable, and should be rescinded.

That is: People with student debts will not revolt or protest, unless they are very special persons. And precisely that was the main point of loading everyone with student debts, which only the large proportion of the non-rich will not be able to pay. Which shuts them up for life, in most cases. And that was the point.

There is considerably more in the interview, that is strongly recommended.

4. A Year Witout A President

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

It seems like forever, but it was just one year ago that Donald Trump was elected president. So what have we learned about the presidency and who is running the country? 

1. The first big thing we’ve learned is that Trump is not really the president of the United States – because he’s not governing.

No, I think this is simply considerably more misleading than not. I agree Trump is a bad president, and that his government is lousy, but these agreements do not at all entail that Trump is ¨not governing¨: Clearly, he is governing, except that he does not do this at all as Reich (or I) would desire.

Here is more on what Trump does do:

Instead of governing, Donald Trump has been insulting, throwing tantrums, and getting even:

Equating white supremacists with people who protest against them. Questioning the patriotism of NFL players who are peacefully protesting police violence and racism.

Making nasty remarks about journalists, about his predecessor as president, his political opponent in the last election, national heroes like Congressman John Lewis and Senator John McCain, even the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico.

Or he’s busy lying and then covering up the lies.
Once again: I agree with Reich that this is despicable, but unlike Reich my own conclusion that this despicable behavior is what Trump understands by ¨governing¨.

Here is another point of Reich:

2. The second thing we’ve learned is that Trump’s influence is waning.  

Since he lost the popular vote, his approval ratings have dropped even further. One year in, Trump is the least popular president in history with only 37 percent of Americans behind him.

Most Republicans still approve of him, but that may not be for long.

I think here Reich is correct, and this is mildly hopeful. There is more in the article. 

5. Extreme Poverty Cut in Half? Only in the Minds of the Capitalists

This article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. This is from near the beginning:
Extreme Poverty Has INCREASED, in Terms of Wealth 

According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2016, the median wealth of the world's adults is $2,222, down from $3,248 at the end of 2007. While the rich people of the world have taken more than their share of the $35 trillion wealth gain since the recession, the world median has dropped by over $1,000!
I think this is quite true and Buchheit uses these facts to contradict what he summarized in his title: The rich capitalists are not beyond any lies, and now they lie that extreme poverty was halved. Buchheit´s argument, as indicated by his numbers, is the opposite:

Ordinary and poor people, worldwide, have lost one-third of their wealth to the richest of the rich.

Then here is this on ¨the poverty threshold¨ that is used by the World Bank:
The Poverty Threshold is Absurdly Low

The world poverty threshold was recently increased by the World Bank from $1.25 to $1.90 per day. Numerous sources have recognized the absurdity of this dollar amount for day-to-day survival. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development argues for a $5 minimum; ActionAid says $10; even the World Bank admits that the $1.90 poverty line is "too miserly for middle-income countries," and that"more than 50 percent of the population in IDA [the world's poorest] countries live on less than US $6 a day and are considered at high or moderate risk of relapsing into poverty."
I agree: The ¨poverty threshold¨ is ridiculous, and should be - at least - somewhere between $5 or $10 to be realistic. (As an aside: I think Bill Gates´ gigantic riches, when spread out equally over all living persons, would give each person around $10.)

Here is more:
An Extra $1 a Day, But Is It Worth It When You're Living in These Conditions? 

China may have pulled millions "out of poverty," but in reality they've gained a few dollars a day while the country has become increasingly unequal in terms of wealth. The new Chinese "middle class" has in many ways gone backwards. According to China Labor Watch, weekly working hours in Apple's factories surpass 60 hours, much of it without compensation.
Quite so: What the Chinese did - who live much more in an extreme form of state-capitalism organized by ¨the Chinese Communist Party¨ than in a state of socialism organized by the same - was to increase the riches of the few rich Chinese, again at the costs of the more than a billion Chinese poor, who now may contribute to Steve Jobs´ greedy dreams, and to Tim Cooke´s thefts of billions from the American taxes, by working 60 hours a week for a couple of dollars for Apple (etc.)

This article ends as follows:

Conditions getting better? Only in the minds of capitalists who don't want their comfortable lives disrupted by a rebellion among their billions of victims.
Indeed. And this article is strongly recommended.

I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 (!!).

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