from March 19, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) 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.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from March 19, 2018
1. Facebook’s Role in Data Misuse Sets Off a Storm on Two
2. Building the Iron Wall
Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower: How We
Influenced U.S. Voters
4. Facebook's Recurring Nightmare: Muddying Up Elections
5. Jared Kushner, You're Fired!
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:
Role in Data Misuse Sets Off a Storm on Two Continents
This article is by Matthew Rosenberg and Sheera Frenkel on The New York
Times. It starts as follows:
American and British
lawmakers demanded on Sunday that Facebook explain how a political data
firm with links to President Trump’s 2016 campaign was able to harvest
private information from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without
the social network’s alerting users. The backlash forced Facebook to
once again defend the way it protects user data.
Yes indeed, for the first
statement in the above quotation. But I should add that I think the last
statement I quoted is FAR too kind to Facebook, and indeed I
would have asked by what right Facebook collected its user
data: For me, it seems by fraud or by propaganda,
and the propa- ganda mostly speculated on the massive ignorance
of the vast majority of its members about programming,
about computing, and about their rights.
Indeed, I would not be amazed if Facebook committed 2 billion frauds in collecting its members , who are
"dumb fucks who trust" Mark Zuckerberg, in Zuckerberg's own words -
where I should add that I do not know which data Zuckerberg's
AI slurps up, nor do I know how many of these data are
(or should be, in a morally decent society) completely private
(e-mails, incomes, health- status, doctors' opinions, bank accounts,
school histories, political values, and indeed most things).
Then there is Amy Klobuchar:
Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, went so far as to press for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s
chief executive, to appear before the panel to explain what the social
network knew about the misuse of its data “to target political
advertising and manipulate voters.”
Again I both am
and am not amazed by Rosenberg's and Frenkel's "so far": Do
they really mean to suggest that in
their opinion such a widely loved member of the internet as Mark
Zuckerberg should not explain how
he managed to get the private data of no less
than 50 million Americans?! And precisely
- provably - what he did
acquire?! And that again was acquired by Cambridge Analytica?!
I think that is utterly crazy, but I know he has
something like a superhuman status, as someone who could squeeze 70 billion dollars out of misleading his
members and abusing their private information.
Here is the last bit I quote from this article, and this bit seems
The calls for
greater scrutiny followed reports
on Saturday in The New York Times and The
Observer of London that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm
founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican
donor, had used the Facebook data to develop methods that it claimed
could identify the personalities of individual American voters and
influence their behavior. The firm’s so-called psychographic modeling
underpinned its work for the Trump campaign in 2016, though many have
questioned the effectiveness of its techniques.
did not inform users whose data had been harvested. The lack of
disclosure could violate laws in Britain and in many American states.
indeed - although I should add that this is from The New York
Times, which has been saying for more than a year that "the
Russians" decided the American elections from 2016, essentially on no
whatsoever: What about stealing no less
than the privacies of 50 million Americans, by a British-American firm?!
Then again, that is a question which is neither posed
nor answered in this article. There are two more articles about
Facebook or Cambridge Analytica reviewed below, here
the Iron Wall
This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Sen. Ted Cruz of
Texas, along with 18 members of the House of Representatives—15
Republicans and three Democrats—has sent a letter to Attorney General
Jeff Sessions demanding that the Qatari-run Al-Jazeera television
network register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA). The letter was issued after Al-Jazeera said it
planned to air a documentary
by a reporter who went undercover to look into the Israel lobby in
the United States. The action by the senator and the House members
follows the decision by the Justice Department to force
RT America to register as a foreign agent and the imposition
of algorithms by Facebook, Google and Twitter that steer traffic
away from left-wing, anti-war and progressive websites, including
Truthdig. It also follows December’s abolition of net neutrality.
I like Chris Hedges, in
part though not only because he is a good writer. And while I agree
with most that is being said here, I should add that this is one of his
lesser openings in his weekly column on Truthdig, though I probably
agree with him that it could not have been put
much shorter nor much clearer in the format used.
The ominous assault on the
final redoubts of a free press, through an attempt to brand dissidents,
independent journalists and critics of corporate power and imperialism
as agents of a foreign power, has begun. FARA, until recently, was a
little-used regulation, passed in 1938 to combat Nazi propaganda.
And in any case, here is some information about "the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)" (minus note numbers):
The Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA) is a United States law passed in 1938 requiring
that agents representing the interests of foreign
powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity" disclose their
relationship with the foreign government and information about related
activities and finances. The purpose is to facilitate "evaluation by
the government and the American people of the statements and activities
of such persons." The law is administered by the FARA Registration Unit
of the Counterespionage Section (CES) in the National
Security Division (NSD) of the United States Department
of Justice/ As of 2007 the Justice Department reported there
were approximately 1,700 lobbyists representing more than 100 countries before Congress,
the White House and the federal government.
I admit this is from
Wikipedia, that I do not trust any longer, because the lies it presents
(which cannot - according to the
lying Wikipedia - apply to persons, political parties, plans,
programs, or propositions of anyone, unless
these are part of a totalitarian state,
which makes total nonsense of over 50
years of reading I've done in totalitari- anism, from George Orwell
Then again, I meanwhile
also discovered who are the restylers of the concept of
totalitarianism: The rightist neofascist (?) Carl Friedrich (whose "concept of a "good democracy" rejected basic
democracy as totalitarian"
(Wikipedia): such a man) and the neofascist
Brzezinski, whose mind may also been one of the first to approve of computers
as instruments to introduce neofascism
(which he called "technotronics" in the late 1960ies: See here).
To end these remarks on
the last quotation: I also admit this beginning on FARA is not
very clear, and that I copied its last statement simply because it
Then again, I do agree
with the second paragraph of what I quoted above from Hedges, and here
The handful of
independent websites and news outlets, including this one, and a few
foreign-run networks such as Al-Jazeera and RT America, on which I host
a show, “On Contact,”
are the few platforms left that examine corporate power and empire, the
curtailment of our civil liberties, lethal police violence and the
ecocide carried out by the fossil fuel and animal agriculture
industries, as well as cover the war crimes committed by Israel and the
U.S. military in the Middle East. Shutting down these venues would
ensure that the critics who speak through them, and oppressed peoples
such as the Palestinians, have no voice left.
I take it this is also
correct, although I am aware that this presupposes more
knowledge about e.g. the mainstream media than is given in this
article. I do have that knowledge, and I think the above is
Then there is this:
The anonymous site
PropOrNot, replicating this tactic, in 2016 published a blacklist of
199 sites that it alleged, with no evidence, “reliably echo Russian
propaganda.” More than half of those sites were far-right,
conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were progressive,
anti-war and left-wing. They included AlterNet, Black Agenda Report,
Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and
the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot charged that these sites
disseminated “fake news” on behalf of Russia, and the allegations
became front-page news in The Washington Post in a story headlined
“Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during the
election, experts say.”
Yes indeed, and I wrote
repeatedly about PropOrNot in 2016 and
this was - in my terms, to be sure, and not the sick
preferred by Friedrichs, Brzezinksi and the Wikipedia - a totalitarian
attack by anonymous bullshitters on
the proper meaning of totalitarianism.
To date, no one has exposed
who operates PropOrNot or who is behind the website. But the damage
done by this black propaganda campaign and the subsequent announcement
by Google and other organizations such as Facebook last April that they
had put in filters to elevate “more authoritative content” and
marginalize “blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright
false information” have steadily diverted readers away from some sites.
The Marxist World Socialist Web Site,
for example, has seen its traffic decline by 75 percent. AlterNet’s
search traffic is down 71 percent, Consortium News is down 72 percent,
and Global Research and Truthdig have seen declines. And the situation
appears to be growing worse as the algorithms are refined.
I think I agree with everything quoted, although I do not know
about the percentages (which I do believe).
As a partial aside, of the sites mentioned by Hedges, I read
AlterNet, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, and
Truthout every day since 2013 at the latest (and
probably also before), while I read Black Agenda Report regularly
but not every day, CounterPunch some times (but I dislike its
site: Too many advertisements), and the World Socialist Web Site occasionally.
Here is some more on Google and Amazon:
The lines separating
technology-based entities such as Google and Amazon and the
government’s security and surveillance apparatus are often nonexistent.
The goal of corporations such as Google and Facebook is profit, not the
dissemination of truth. And when truth gets in the way of profit, truth
Yes indeed, and the reason
for the first statement is that Google and Amazon do much of the
work that the American government's spies are supposed to do: There
is a considerable overlap of the activities of the NSA and
Google and Amazon (and also some differences).
As to the other two statements that I quoted: I completely agree: Yes "when truth gets in the way of profit, truth
is sacrificed" (nearly
oligarchs, lacking a valid response to the discrediting of their
policies of economic pillage and endless war, have turned to the blunt
instrument of censorship and to a new version of red baiting. They do
not intend to institute reforms or restore an open society. They do not
intend to address the social inequality behind the political
insurgencies in the two major political parties and the hatred of the
corporate state that spans the political spectrum. They intend to
impose a cone of silence and the state-sanctioned uniformity of opinion
that characterizes all totalitarian regimes. This is what the use of
FARA, the imposition of algorithms and the attempt to blame Trump’s
election on Russian interference is about. Critics and investigative
journalists who expose the inner workings of corporate power are
branded enemies of the state in the service of a foreign power. The
corporate-controlled media, meanwhile, presents the salacious, the
trivial and the absurd as news while fanning the obsession over Russia.
Again I quite agree and
like to add that "the
state-sanctioned uniformity of opinion that characterizes all
totalitarian regimes" is totalitarian
in my sense, but not at all in the late Friedrich's and the
late Brzezinski's sense: They would protest that an obvious
democracy like the USA cannot possibly harbour anything like
totalitarianism (for only Hitler, Stalin and Mao ran totalitarian
states, indeed with some smaller states).
And this is from Hedges' ending:
The iron wall is
rising. It will cement into place a global system of corporate
totalitarianism, one in which the old vocabulary of human rights and
democracy is empty and where any form of defiance means you are an
enemy of the state. This totalitarianism is being formed incrementally.
It begins by silencing the demonized. It ends by silencing everyone.
Yes indeed - except that, once
again, Friedrichs and Brzezinski would protest (if they were alive)
that only states can be
totalitarian, while an obvious democracy as the USA cannot possibly
show totalitarianism, and they would probably have added
(if alive) that corporations (in their neofascist ideologies) cannot possibly be totalitarian either, but
instead are the strongest bonds on freedom.
I agree with Hedges and Orwell, and totally reject Friedrichs and
Brzezinski, but you should keep in mind that while there still are
some sites that do give more or less correct definitions of
totalitarianism, most sites seem to have switched to the neofascist
use that Friedrichs and
Brzezinski propounded, in complete contradiction with Orwell
and many other respectable authors.
Analytica Whistleblower: How We Influenced U.S. Voters (Video)
This article is by Eric Ortiz on Truthdig. It starts as
Did data analytics firm
Cambridge Analytica win the presidency for Donald Trump?
"I think it probably played
a part," said Christopher Wylie, the data scientist who worked for the
company and built the software program---using data collected from
50 million unsuspecting Americans during the 2016 presidential race.
Yes indeed - and unlike
the former bit, this is not written by someone kneeling before
the superhuman Zuckerberg. Here is some more:
In an interview
with The Guardian, Wylie explained how Cambridge Analytica
influenced voters in the United States by creating personalized
"Instead of standing in the public square and saying what you think and
then letting people come and listen to you and have that shared
experience as to what your narrative is, you are whispering into the
ear of each and every voter, and you may be whispering one thing to
this voter and another thing to another voter," Wylie said.
Yes indeed - and in
fact this may pertain to no less than 50 million privatised
narratives (privatised by AI), although I do not know this. But
I do know that having the personal data of 50 million
American voters does give those who possess it very strong
possibilities for influencing very many American voters.
Here is the last bit I
quote from this article:
data war whistleblower decided to come clean about Cambridge
Analytica because he regrets his role in what he called a "grossly
unethical experiment" to sway public opinion.
"I can't say for sure what
was the defining factor in getting Trump elected or growing the
alt-right," Wylie said. "[But] if you want to fundamentally change
society, you first have to break it. It's only when you break it is
when you can remold the pieces into your vision of a new society. This
was the weapon that Steve Bannon wanted to build to fight his culture
Yes, and I did not
see the video of Wylie, although this is accessible from the article.
But this is an interesting and also to the best of my knowledge a factually
correct article, that is recommended. There also are some more data
on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in the next item:
Recurring Nightmare: Muddying Up Elections
This article is by Ryan Nakashima and Anick Jesdanun on Truthdig and
originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Facebook has a
problem it just can’t kick: People keep exploiting it in ways that
could sway elections, and in the worst cases even undermine democracy.
News reports that Facebook
let the Trump-affiliated data mining firm Cambridge Analytica abscond
with data from tens of millions of users mark the third time
in roughly a year the company appears to have been outfoxed by crafty
outsiders in this way.
O, come on: "Facebook
has a problem"?!
Facebook made -
potential - problems for two billion of its users by extracting
all the personal and private information from them it could get (I
guess, for Facebook also keeps nearly everything it does a private
secret: it has privacy rights none of its
members has) and by making very many billions of dollars for its
owner by selling the private information it stole from
its users (either directly or by misleading them) to all manner of
Each new issue has also
raised the same enduring questions about Facebook’s conflicting
priorities — to protect its users, but also to ensure that it can
exploit their personal details to fuel its hugely lucrative, and
precisely targeted, advertising business.
Well... I do not
know any evidence
whatsoever that supports the notion that Facebook does "protect its users" in anything whatsoever except in
getting as much personal and private data from them as possible, while
also confusing and misleading them about which data it does and does
not gather (and what it does not gather seems to be only what its
spokespersons say is or may not be gathered).
But here is some more on
the real things that Facebook does:
Facebook may say its
business model is to connect the world, but it’s really “to collect
psychosocial data on users and sell that to advertisers.” said Mike
Caulfield, a faculty trainer at Washington State University who directs
a multi-university effort focused on digital literacy.
Quite so. And
for me, Facebook is a 2 billionfold fraud of its users
("dumb fucks" who trusted the owner, in the owner's proud own words),
that so far produced 70 billion dollars for its owner in a few
years, that is, 35 dollar per member. And the 70 billion dollars are
just the profits: the private data of 2 billion users are very
probably sold for a whole lot more.
Here is a bit more on
Christopher Wylie, a
former Cambridge employee who served as a key source for detailed
investigative reports published Saturday in The
New York Times and The
Guardian , said the firm was actually able to pull in data
from roughly 50 million profiles by extending its tentacles to the
unwitting friends of app users.
In fact, this only
concerns the mechanism of stealing that Cambridge Analytica
used, but it does not say anything about which
private data it did succeed in stealing
from Facebook (nor indeed the related questions whether Facebook was
willing to sell these data to Cambridge Analytica and - for example - the
latter might have thought the price was too high).
Here is Wylie, who -
more or less - explains what was going on:
Wylie said he regrets the
role he played in what he called “a full service propaganda machine.”
Cambridge’s goal, he told the Guardian in a video
interview , was to use the Facebook data to build detailed
profiles that could be used to identify and then to target individual
voters with personalized political messages calculated to sway their
“It was a grossly unethical
experiment,” Wylie said. “Because you are playing with an entire
country. The psychology of an entire country without their consent or
Yes indeed - and I add these possibilities were both foreseen in 1967 and
1970 by Zbgniew Brzezinski, then head of American security,
and he wanted them very much,
precisely to make such use of them as Wylie sketches here: See here. And he did get precisely
what he wanted, ca. 1992.
Then there is this:
Jonathan Albright, research
director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia
University, said Facebook badly needs to embrace the transparency it
has essentially forced on its users by sharing their habits, likes and
dislikes with advertisers.
I think this is a very
strange way of putting what is going on: Facebook simply stole
the private information about the "habits,
likes and dislikes" (together
with very much more, it seems) from its users, and indeed it should never have had the right to do so (which
anyway is extremely tenuous, indeed in good part because while
Facebook seems to steal as much as it can, it is about itself, its
algorithms, its interests, its clients etc. etc. etc. as silent as it
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
“It’s a disgusting abuse of
privacy,” said Larry Ponemon, founder of the privacy research firm
Ponemon Institute. “In general, most of these privacy settings are
superficial,” he said. “Companies need to do more to make sure
commitments are actually met.”
Well... yes and no. I
agree with Ponemon that "privacy
settings are superficial"
(and indeed not only with Facebook but - it seems - everywhere) and two
important reasons for this are (i) only a very small proportion
of the members of Facebook seems to know much about programming and
computing, while also (ii) only a small proportion of the members of
Facebook seems to know much about the laws that may apply.
I agree with that. But
I fundamentally disagree that "[c]ompanies need to do more to make sure commitments are
I think the laws - virtually anywhere - should
be changed (back, if necessary or possible) so that it becomes a very serious felony to own or use any of the private information of any of the users of the internet without some prior, clear and fundamentally
non-secret decision by a judge, quite as with paper mail 25
and more years ago (!!).
changes have been made and are actively maintained, anybody's
privacy will remain up for grabs by spies from anywhere with access to
internet cables and also by big corporations from anywhere with access
to the same.
Kushner, You're Fired!
This article is by Nomi Prins on Tomdispatch. It starts as
Here we are a little more
than a year into the Trump presidency and his administration’s body
count is already, as The Donald might put it, “unbelievable,
Among the casualties
are Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson; my former boss at Goldman Sachs, economic policy chief
Gary Cohn; National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; FBI Director James
Comey; White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Sean
Spicer; four other communications directors including Hope Hicks who,
having been Ivanka
Trump's confidante, was elevated to the status of the president’s “real
daughter” before her own White House exit; chief strategist Steve
Bannon; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; a bunch of other instant relics
of Trumpian political history, and a partridge in a pear tree.
(Actually, a 200-year-old
magnolia uprooted from the White House grounds thanks to the first
Yes indeed. These are
all facts and I
also like Nomi Prins.
This is what she proposes to do and indeed does in the rest of her
Given the not-if-but-when
nature of Kushner’s departure from the White House, it’s none too soon
for media outlets to prepare themselves. With that in mind, here
is a prospective political obituary for him.
Well... I think it is
mildly interesting, but I will not review more of mere speculations,
although I do agree with Prins (it seems) that Kushner is an
incompetent, like many of Trump's other appointments. I leave the rest
of this to your interests.
have now been
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
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 (!!).