Friday, December 22, 2017

Crisis: Free Speech, Human Rights, The Horrible Facebook, Robert Reich, Darkest Day
Sections                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 22, 2017

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, December 22, 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 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.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from December 22, 2017
1. J20 Defendants Found Not Guilty in Trump Protest Case That
     Tested Free Speech

2. Trump's State Department Explicitly Doesn't Care About Human
     Rights Anymore

3. Has Anyone Spread More Fake News in 2017 Than Mark

4. The Big Picture Of How We Got Into This Mess (Of Trump) And
     How We Get Out Of It

5. The Darkest Day of the Year
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. J20 Defendants Found Not Guilty in Trump Protest Case That Tested Free Speech

This article is by Emily Bell on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
One month and one day after the start of the closely watched so-called J20 trial, the six defendants have all been found not guilty.
The defendants originally faced a felony charge of inciting a riot, multiple felony charges of property damage and misdemeanor charges of engaging in a riot and conspiracy to riot.

Though Judge Lynn Leibovitz acquitted the defendants on the count of inciting a riot December 13—a charge that carries possibly five decades of jail time—the other counts went to a jury and were not announced until Thursday.

This beginning is not very clear, so I repeat some background information:

More than 200 people were arrested on Trump's inauguration day when and because they protested against Trump.

The basic point is that they then were prosecuted - essentially mostly for doing nothing but protesting - with threats of punishments up to fifty or sixty years of imprisonment, which is in my eyes neofascism pure and simple: In Holland, you risk such punishment only if you cruelly killed three or more persons; in Norway you can't get a punishment that lasts longer than 20 years for doing anything whatsoever.

And while I am not saying the Dutch or the Norwegian legal systems are good, it certainly is much more humane to err on the side of humaneness than on the side of neofascistic sadistic cruelty, which is what these prosecutions are.

Back to the article:

The charges originated on Trump’s inauguration day, or J20, when more than 200 people attending protests were “kettled” and arrested. The J20 trial brought to light the extreme conduct of the Metropolitan Police Department on inauguration day.

The six defendants in the first trial included journalist Alexei Wood and two medics.

These unprecedented trials were viewed as an encroachment on freedom of the press and free speech.

Yes indeed: Clearly, if you can be locked up for 50 years for saying "No!" to Trump,
the laws that allow this gross inhumanity are neofascistic
(and check my definition if you disagree).

2. Trump's State Department Explicitly Doesn't Care About Human Rights Anymore

This article is by Heather Digby Parsons on AlterNet. This is from near the beginning:

Progress on human rights seems to come in fits and starts and is commonly denied to minority populations as long as possible. Still, hypocrisy being the proverbial tribute vice pays to virtue, there is value in having ideals even if you don't entirely live up to them. At least they remain alive and part of the dialogue. When a nation is the world's only superpower, it especially behooves its leaders to make the effort to promote and adhere to such ideals as much as possible, lest the rest of the world gets the wrong idea and decides it is a menace they need to oppose. This is just common sense.

Well... more or less.

For one thing, I do not know of anyone that "entirely" lives up to his or her ideals, whatever they are, and for another thing, I never looked upon any American government during my years - from Eisenhower onwards - as being particularly humane or being much oriented by ideals, but with these remarks granted, I mostly agree.

Here is more:

As early as 1974, in the wake of Richard Nixon's downfall, Congress was holding hearings and making demands that the U.S. put human rights at the center of its foreign policy. This was not just a moral consideration, although that was paramount. It was also a practical concern, since America's global credibility had been so damaged by the Vietnam debacle that it was no longer able to properly exert influence on its own behalf with soft power. Congress stepped into the foreign policy arena with a demand that the government raise the issue in international institutions and, more importantly, restrict aid to governments that consistently violated human rights.

Again more or less.

For one thing - and I recall the Seventies very well, since these are the years when I was between 20 and 30 - I certainly either missed or totally disbelieved and forgot the "paramount" "moral consideration" that Parsons attributes to the USA (in 1974, or there about), although I was then rather well aware of the "practical concern" that motivated the USA's own policies.

Then there is this:

When Donald Trump said he was going to make America great again, everyone had different ideas about what exactly he meant. But his bloviating about how much he loves torture and mass executions should have alerted everyone to the fact that human rights were not going to be central to his foreign policy.

Nonetheless, one might have expected that his secretary of state would at least be conversant with the concept. But apparently Rex Tillerson didn't have a clue. According to Politico, three months into the job he blithely announced that it was "really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values like freedom, human dignity and the way people are treated."
And once more I say: more or less.

Thus, I always understood "Make America Great Again" as pure propaganda, that never was intended to convey anything either clearly or exactly.

Here is the ending of this article:

Either way, whether it's Tillerson's crude dismissal of human rights and values, his deputy's cynical Kissinger-esque realpolitik or Trump's fatal attraction to tyrants and despots, it would appear that promotion of human rights is no longer an American ideal. It's just another norm tossed on the dumpster fire we call the Trump presidency.

I dislike Tillerson, Trump and Trump's government, but I should add that I do not believe in the "care about human rights" of any American president since Ronald Reagan, and this includes Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

So I am sorry, but this article did not really teach me anything.

3. Has Anyone Spread More Fake News in 2017 Than Mark Zuckerberg?

This article is by Matt Gertz on AlterNet and originally on Media Matters. This is from near the beginning:

In India, The Washington Post reported, “false news stories have become a part of everyday life, exacerbating weather crises, increasing violence between castes and religions, and even affecting matters of public health.” In Indonesia, disinformation spread by social media stoked ethnic tensions and even triggered a riot in the capital of Jakarta.

Throughout the year, countries from Kenya to Canada either fell prey to fake news efforts to influence their elections, or took steps they hoped would quell the sort of disinformation campaign that infected the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Last December, Media Matters dubbed the fake news infrastructure 2016’s Misinformer of the Year, our annual award for the media figure, news outlet, or organization which stands out for promoting conservative lies and smears in the U.S. media. We warned that the unique dangers to the information ecosystem meant “merely calling out the lies” would not suffice, and that “the objective now is to protect people from the lies.”

Yes indeed. In fact, I consider Facebook one of the sickest, most neofascistic, most immoral ways of deceiving more than 2 billion persons and stealing their privacies from them, which this extremely sick and morally degenerate sickos "reward" by returning selected advertisements to their users.

It is an utterly and totally sick way of stealing the privacies of 2 billion people for the private gains of the sick man who dreamt up this schema of getting rich.

I very much dislike it, and this is a more or less decent article about it, so I will scrap my comments on this utterly sick Fuckbook.

Here is more:

Twelve months later, too little has changed in the United States, and fake news has infected democracies around the world. Facebook has been central to the spread of disinformation, stalling and obfuscating rather than taking responsibility for its outsized impact.

Media Matters is recognizing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as 2017’s Misinformer of the Year.

Quite correctly so. Here is more:

Facebook’s sheer size and power make comparisons difficult. But Zuckerberg himself has defined at least one key role for the website. In 2013, he told reporters that the redesign of Facebook’s news feed was intended to “give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can.” This strategy had obvious benefits for the company: If users treated the website as a news source, they would log on more frequently, stay longer, and view more advertisements.

Zuckerberg achieved his goal. Forty five percent of U.S. adults now say they get news on Facebook, dominating all other social media platforms, and the percentage of people using the website for that purpose is rising. The website is the country’s largest single source of news, and indisputably its most powerful media company.

The sick thief of the privacies of 2 billion people (!!) "achieved his goal". Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Facebook’s news feed is designed to give users exactly what they want. And that’s the problem.

All content largely looks the same on the feed -- regardless of where it comes from or how credible it is -- and succeeds based on how many people share it. Facebook’s mysterious algorithm favors “content designed to generate either a sense of oversize delight or righteous outrage and go viral,” serving the website’s billions of users the types of posts they previously engaged with in order to keep people on the website.

When it comes to political information, Facebook largely helps users seek out information that confirms their biases, with liberals and conservatives alike receiving news that they are likely to approve of and share.

I agree, but my opinions on Facebook and Zuckerberg are much more radical than the opinions expressed in this article. But all I say here is this:

If you are on Facebook, no matter who you are, you are a moron in my opinion because you sold your privacy in order to get personal advertisememts that might gain you a few cents (which is sick), and you also are a personal danger to all your friends and all your family members, because these are tracked as well by Facebook, simply because they are your friends or your family members.

4. The Big Picture Of How We Got Into This Mess (Of Trump) And
How We Get Out Of It

This article + video is by Robert Reich on his site. Here is the complete text of his article:

There’s too much yelling these days, so we made this a silent video. (The only casualty was my arm, which ached for days afterward.) Hope you find it helpful. Best wishes for a 2018 that’s better for America than 2017 was.

And here is a link to Reich's video:

The Big Picture (etc.)

It is quite good and strongly recommended. It takes about six minutes.

5. The Darkest Day of the Year

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

President Donald Trump is being credited with achieving the much-touted and long-awaited first legislative accomplishment of his presidency, signing the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law. He described it as “an incredible Christmas gift for hardworking Americans,” but in reality it’s the largest wealth transfer from the bottom to the top in American history.

Congressional Republicans, bused in from Capitol Hill, gathered at the White House for a photo op with the president, where the serial adulatory statements showered on Trump were described by one political commentator as “nearly pornographic.”
Yes indeed, and in support of the first paragraph you are recommended to view Reich's video in the previous item.

Here is more:

This is a dark day for the United States. A country’s annual budget is often described as a moral document, defining the nation’s values. Its tax system codifies its fairness. Who pays into the system, and who reaps the rewards? Clearly, Trump, his family and his businesses will profit enormously. One essential element of this new law is that the tax breaks given to corporations and the wealthy are permanent; those given to the working and middle class are temporary.

“This tax bill is a moral and economic obscenity,” Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said. “It is a gift to wealthy Republican campaign contributors and an insult to the working families of our country."
Yes, I entirely agree. Incidentally, it seems as if Trump himself - all alone - profits by around $15 million each year, with similar rewards for his son-in-law Kushner.

Here is more:
Undermining, eliminating or privatizing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have been central pillars of the conservative movement for decades. By slashing federal tax revenues, Republicans are setting the stage for future deficits that will fuel their jihad to slash these programs, which are vital to middle-class and poor Americans.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, issued a scathing report, stating, “The tax reform package is essentially a bid to make the U.S. the world champion of extreme inequality.”
Yes indeed. For more on Philip Alson in Nederlog, see here. This is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
The Senate passed the bill after midnight Wednesday, interrupted by protesters, many in wheelchairs, chanting, “Kill the bill! Don’t kill us!” Barkan later tweeted: “Last night after the Senate vote, peaceful protesters in the gallery were telling personal stories about how this bill will hurt them and their families. And Republican Senators were laughing at them. It explains everything. They do not see our humanity.”
Quite so. And this is a strongly recommended article.


[1] 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 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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