May 3, 2018

Crisis: Cambridge Analytica, ¨Human Rights¨, Trump As God, Zuckerberg, Nader, Corbett


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 3, 2018
     B. One extra bit

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 3, 2018.

1. Summary

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.

On the moment and since more than 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 I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from May 3, 2018
1. Cambridge Analytica to File for Bankruptcy After Misuse of Facebook

2. Uncle Sam, the Human Rights Hypocrite
3. Fighting Off Foreign Payments Lawsuit, Trump Asserts 'Absolute

4. Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand Journalism
5. An Open Letter to Jeff Sessions on Corporate Crime
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.  Cambridge Analytica to File for Bankruptcy After Misuse of Facebook Data

This article is by Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The embattled political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica announced on Wednesday that it would cease most operations and file for bankruptcy amid growing legal and political scrutiny of its business practices and work for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The decision was made less than two months after Cambridge Analytica and Facebook became embroiled in a data-harvesting scandal that compromised the personal information of up to 87 million people. Revelations about the misuse of data, published in March by The New York Times and The Observer of London, plunged Facebook into crisis and prompted regulators and lawmakers to open investigations into Cambridge Analytica.

Well... there also were ¨revelations¨ that were not in the mainstream media like the New York Times and The Observer, and - in my opinion, at least - these were usually better, more informative, longer and more truthful.

But indeed the main news is Cambridge Analytica - thieves of 87 million private profiles of internet users, that were quite possibly used to make Trump win the elections (although Mueller doesn´t seem to investigate that realistic possibility: the elections have been stolen by the Russians, seems Mueller´s false tack) - is closing down.

Here is some more:

In a statement posted to its website, Cambridge Analytica said the controversy had driven away virtually all of the company’s customers, forcing it to file for bankruptcy in both the United States and Britain. The elections division of Cambridge’s British affiliate, SCL Group, will also shut down, the company said.

But the company’s announcement left several questions unanswered, including who would retain the company’s intellectual property — the so-called psychographic voter profiles built in part with data from Facebook — and whether Cambridge Analytica’s data-mining business would return under new auspices.

In my opinion, until the thieves of Cambridge Analytica disappear in prison for 10 to 20 years (which is most unlikely), (i) Cambridge Analytica´s closure serves to give as little information as possible to the press, and (ii) it will soon start under an other name, and keep using ¨the company’s¨ - STOLEN - ¨intellectual property¨, and (iii) will be doing further services, especially profitable but doubtfully legal services to very rich billionaires like the Mercers.

Here is some more about Robert Mercer and Cambridge Analytica apparently thoroughly corrupt chief executive:

The company, bankrolled by Robert Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor who invested at least $15 million, offered tools that it claimed could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. Those modeling techniques underpinned Cambridge Analytica’s work for the Trump campaign and for other candidates in 2014 and 2016.
The company was also forced to suspend its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after a British television channel released an undercover video. In it, Mr. Nix suggested that the company had used seduction and bribery to entrap politicians and influence foreign elections.

Yes indeed. This is a recommended article, and I added a fine story today as an extra bit: The Weaponization of the Media, below, that is strongly recommended.

2. Uncle Sam, the Human Rights Hypocrite

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. This a very fine article that starts as follows (and is only very partially reviewed here, but strongly recommended):

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signed by the United States and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948, the document was a great and shining step forward in the articulation of how human beings might organize their social and political systems in accord with democratic and civilized ideals.

The U.S. has long wielded the Universal Declaration (UD) as a weapon to brandish selectively against officially designated enemies. But seven decades after its signing (and trumpeting) the document, American society stands in rarely noted gross violation of the declaration’s key principles.

Take the UD’s first’s article: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The United States falls far short here. Someone born into one of the 57 percent
of U.S. households with less than $1,000 in savings will not enjoy remotely the same amount of “dignity and rights” as those enjoyed by someone born into the top1 percent of households, which together possess as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of U.S. citizens. Access to basic means of comfort, dignity and freedom—like quality housing, quality education, strong legal representation, leisure, travel, health care, quality food and recreation—is filtered by the militantly disparate distribution of wealth and income in the U.S., the most savagely unequal nation among all Western “capitalist democracies.”
Yes, I totally agree. I also have some additional introductory points, the first a link while the others consist of several serious warnings.

The link is to my own copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In fact, that copy is eight years old and was added to my site in the first half of 2010 (in a medical context).

The serious warnings are these:

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and I mean the real one, of 1948 - although it is mentioned fairly frequently, seems to be rarely read, and is by now almost completely without any political influence.

Second, there are various reasons why that Universal Declaration is without influence, but they can be mostly put together by saying that (i) the - real -
Universal Declaration of Human Rights is strongly disliked by almost all governments, because if it were taken seriously many tasks of governments should be changed, and the governments nearly all strongly dislike any diminution or restriction on their powers, and (ii) most governments have in fact articulated alternatives to the - real - Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Third, one of the sickest, most inhuman and explicitly terrorist replacements of
the - real - Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the utterly degenerate totally immoral replacement of the European Union of the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights by their sick, neofascistic and terroristic replacement, the so-called ¨European Convention on Human Rights¨.

The basic difference between this neofascistic version - that dates back to 1950! - and the Universal Declaration is that the Universal Declaration forbade state terrorism, while the European Convention of ¨Human Rights¨ ascertains that all state terrorists of each and every European government have the ¨positive obligation¨ to - secretly - interfere with anyone who attacks their state,
according to its goverment.

The sick Wikipedia formulates this as follows:
Article 8 sometimes comprises positive obligations: whereas classical human rights are formulated as prohibiting a State from interfering with rights, and thus not to do something (e.g. not to separate a family under family life protection), the effective enjoyment of such rights may also include an obligation for the State to become active, and to do something
That is in clearer words: the - secret! - terrorists that are employed by every government as their very own - secret! - security are now obliged to destroy all human rights and all behaviors that their governments are displeased with.

Here is more by Paul Street:

Article 2 of the UD proclaims, among other things, that everyone is entitled to human rights and freedoms without distinctions of “race, color” and “national or social origin.” Here again, the U.S. stands in stark contravention.

Median white wealth is 12 times higher than median black wealth in the U.S.—a reflection of persistent anti-black discrimination and segregation built into the nation’s social structures and institutions.
And more:
The UD’s fourth article declares, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.” Hundreds of thousands of U.S. prisoners—the modern-day and very disproportionately nonwhite human chattel that provides the essential raw material for the self-declared “Land of Freedom’s” curiously gigantic prison-industrial complex—perform labor tasks for tiny levels of compensation and often for no payment at all. The Global Slavery Index estimates that 57,000 people are victims of human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, with illegal smuggling and trading of people, for forced labor or sexual exploitation, in the United States.
There is much more in the article, that is strongly recommended.

3. Fighting Off Foreign Payments Lawsuit, Trump Asserts 'Absolute Immunity'

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Claiming the president has "absolute immunity" from legal action both in his official capacity and as a private individual, lawyers representing Donald Trump called on a federal court to toss out a lawsuit accusing him of violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause by accepting payments from foreign governments at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Norm Eisen, former White House ethics official and chair of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, said that if the court accepts Trump's argument, it would effectively mean the president "is beyond the reach of the law."

Filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia in June, the suit accuses Trump of committing "unprecedented constitutional violations" by refusing to "disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and foreign powers."

This is utter bullshit - and I don´t mean Jake Johnson´s text, but the claim of the president´s lawyers that he has ¨absolute immunity¨: If so, Trump = God. And while I feel sure Trump agrees, I agree with the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia. And I also note Trump´s private dealings as president were - and still are - a major legal stumbling block.

Here is some more:

In his court filing, Trump lawyer William Consovoy argued the Maryland-D.C. suit "has the potential to divert the president's attention from his official duties. The Supreme Court has concluded that the costs to the nation of allowing such suits to distract the president from his official duties outweigh any countervailing interests."

As AP reports, Consovoy also "argued that federal officials can only be targeted for accepting unconstitutional payments in their official government function and not as private citizens. But in the case of the president, Consovoy added, Trump is also 'absolutely immune' from legal action in his official capacity."

Is Consovoy perhaps insane? I have no idea, and in fact suspect he is as dishonest as he is tall, but in any case, his filing is complete bullshit, and this is a recommended article.

4. Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand Journalism

This article is by Adrienne LaFrance on Common Dreams and originally on The Atlantic. I should add, before going on, that the title seems quite odd, but it is balanced by a subtitle:
Either that, or he doesn’t care.
Indeed, I conclude he doesn´t care. More below. Here is the start of the article:

Mark Zuckerberg wants you to know that he cares, really cares, about journalism.

“I view our responsibility in news as two things,” he said in a wide-ranging conversation with a small group of news editors and executives assembled in Palo Alto for a journalism gathering known as Off the Record on Tuesday afternoon. “One is making sure people can get trustworthy news.”

The other, he said, “is building common ground in society.” It turns out that “common ground” is suddenly Zuckerberg’s preferred euphemism. (That, and “community.”)

“You’re not going to be able to bridge common ground,” he said, unless you have a “common set of facts so that you can at least have a coherent debate.”

And here’s where the contradictions flood in.

Zuckerberg runs a media company that distributes news, but doesn’t have a proper newsroom. He runs a media company that has—with Google’s help—dominated the vast majority of digital ad dollars and eviscerated the journalism industry’s business model, all while preaching about the importance of journalism. He runs a media company that, he says, believes deeply in the need to sustain independent journalism, but won’t pay publishers to license journalistic content. And he runs a media company that has decided to show its users less news from professional outlets—it’s really not what people want to see, he says—in favor of more individual opinions.

Yes, quite so. Also, Zuckerberg made $70 billon that way, in merely 14 years, which means he made $5 billion each year (on average), which means he made almost $14 million dollars a day, which in turn means he made $570,766 - over half a million dollars - each hour, for 14 years, all averaged out.

You think a man who makes more per hour than all 100 senators combined may get in a week or a month has any responsibility? I do not. (If only because he has the money to buy almost everyone.)

Besides, here is another argument:
Deciding what to believe based on other people’s opinions is not only not journalistic, it’s arguably hostile to the press as a democratic institution. The truth may be nuanced, but reportable facts are often quite straightforward. As any journalist can tell you, the best answer to the question “what happened?” is not why don’t you ask a bunch of your friends what they think, organize their views along a spectrum, and then decide where to plant yourself.
Precisely - but over 2 billion morons seem to think their ¨Facebook friends¨ do know everything better than qualified journalists.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. An Open Letter to Jeff Sessions on Corporate Crime

This article - indeed in fact an open letter - is by Ralph Nader and Robert Weissman on Common Dreams. It starts as follows (after the address, which is indeed Jeff Sessions´ official one):

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been clear about the dangers posed by corporate crime.

In its strategic plan for fiscal years 2014-18, the DOJ states that economic crimes present “very severe threats to the United States’ economy” and that the “explosion of financial fraud over the past few years has threatened the Nation’s financial stability.”

To put the gravity of these threats in context, the DOJ has recognized that “threats to the U.S. economic system must be addressed with the same seriousness and sense of purpose that guide efforts to protect the safety of the Nation.”

In similar terms, the DOJ calls health care fraud “one of the most destructive and widespread national challenges facing our country.”

In April 2017, you told a group of compliance officers meeting in Washington, D.C., “We will enforce the law.  We’re not going to back down to powerful forces, big companies or powerful economic interests.”

To properly face these major threats, it is important that the DOJ have more specific and timely ways to measure the incidence and severity of corporate crime, to determine whether its efforts against them are successful or not, and the many ways they might be improved.

Currently, the DOJ does not compile comprehensive data on corporate crime. This is a notable oversight.

Indeed - and to say the least! Here is what Nader and Weissman believe is necessary:

The DOJ should launch a parallel program for corporate crime and law-breaking, including but not limited to antitrust and price-fixing, environmental crimes, financial crimes, overseas bribery, health care fraud, trade violations, labor and employment-related violations (discrimination and occupational injuries and deaths), consumer fraud and damage to consumer health and safety, and corporate tax fraud onshore and offshore.

A pittance invested here will go a long way toward promoting more lawful corporate behavior and the critical public support the DOJ needs for adequate enforcement budgets and stronger laws.

The DOJ should produce and maintain a corporate crime database.  This is an elemental form of accountability.
I completely agree. Here is more:

At a minimum, the corporate crime database should:

  • Be searchable by parent company, major subsidiaries, corporate official name, industry, type of crime, city, state, and date of crime.
  • Contain individual company data, including the number of civil, administrative and criminal enforcement actions brought against corporate defendants by government agencies involving a felony charge, misdemeanor, or civil charge where potential fines may be $1,000 or more.
  • Specify the agency bringing each charge, the charge, the name of the company charged (including the ultimate parent company), and the outcome of the action if any, including plea agreements, consent decrees, findings of innocence, convictions, and fines and other penalties.
Quite so. And here is yet more:
It should include not only costs of crimes committed by individuals against businesses and investors (white-collar crime), but also the costs that corporate crime imposes on the rest of society, including the resulting deaths, injuries and property damage. In addition, millions of Americans lost their jobs, due to the financial crisis of 2008-9, which was caused by mortgage fraud and reckless speculative Wall Street gambling. Imagine Americans lost trillions of dollars because of financial sector greed and lawlessness.
Precisely so - but here is one more highly relevant fact:

More than one-third of a century has elapsed since the DOJ issued a thorough analysis of corporate crime in America (“Illegal Corporate Behavior”, October 1979).

We are well into the 21st century, and non-governmental unofficial databases on corporate crime have been created to partially fill the void.

In 1980 Reagan became president, and since then - that is: for 39 years - there has been no ¨thorough analysis of corporate crime in America¨ whatsoever.

This is a strongly recommended article.

B. One extra bit

Persons who read considerably more of Nederlog than a few daily bits - Nederlog exists since 2006 (or indeed, but the first two years only about Holland, since 2004) and is fully present on my site - know that until a couple of years ago I regularly reviewed seven or eight articles a day.

I stopped doing so for various reasons some years ago. The most important one is that I have a serious chronic disease since 1.i.1979 (and meanwhile am almost 68, and also got serious eye- problems in 2012, that have lessened but have not disappeared), while a secondary important one is that I thought reviewing 5 of the best or most interesting articles I could find every day on 35 sites was generally sufficient (while it is also something I do not know anyone else does).

But occasionally I do find special bits, and this is one:

This article - which originally is a podcast - is by James Corbett on his site. This is from near the beginning:
Now openly admitted, governments and militaries around the world employ armies of keyboard warriors to spread propaganda and disrupt their online opposition. Their goal? To shape public discourse around global events in a way favourable to their standing military and geopolitical objectives. Their method? The Weaponization of Social Media. This is The Corbett Report.
Yes, I agree (although ¨Weaponization¨ is a metaphor). Here is more:

It didn’t take long from the birth of the world wide web for the public to start using this new medium to transmit, collect and analyze information in ways never before imagined. The first message boards and clunky “Web 1.0” websites soon gave way to “the blogosphere.” The arrival of social media was the next step in this evolution, allowing for the formation of communities of interest to share information in real time about events happening anywhere on the globe.

But as quickly as communities began to form around these new platforms, governments and militaries were even quicker in recognizing the potential to use this new medium to more effectively spread their own propaganda.

Their goal? To shape public discourse around global events in a way favourable to their standing military and geopolitical objectives.

Precisely. And here is a list of the most dominant asocial media:
Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Snapchat. Instagram. Reddit. “Social media” as we know it today barely existed fifteen years ago. Although it provides new ways to interact with people and information from all across the planet virtually instantaneously and virtually for free, we are only now beginning to understand the depths of the problems associated with these new platforms. More and more of the original developers of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter admit they no longer use social media themselves and actively keep it away from their children, and now they are finally admitting the reason why: social media was designed specifically to take advantage of your psychological weaknesses and keep you addicted to your screen.
Yes indeed. Here is more:
It should be no surprise, then, that in this world of social media addicts and smartphone zombies, the 24/7 newsfeed is taking up a greater and greater share of people’s lives. Our thoughts, our opinions, our knowledge of the world, even our mood are increasingly being influenced or even determined by what we see being posted, tweeted or vlogged. And the process by which these media shape our opinions is being carefully monitored and analyzed, not by the social media companies themselves, but by the US military.
Quite so (and besides, ¨the US military¨ in the form of the NSA (and its associates) in fact download absolutely everything they can get in any way: see here).

Here is more:

The DARPA document that details the Pentagon’s plans for influencing opinions in the social media space is called “Social Media in Strategic Communication.” DARPA’s goal, according to their own website, is “to develop tools to help identify misinformation or deception campaigns and counter them with truthful information.”

Exactly what tools were developed for this purpose and how they are currently being deployed is unclear. But Rand Walzman, the program’s creator, admitted last year that the project lasted four years, cost $50 million and led to the publication of over 200 papers. The papers, including “Incorporating Human Cognitive Biases in a Probabilistic Model of Retweeting,” “Structural Properties of Ego Networks,” and “Sentiment Prediction using Collaborative Filtering,” make the thrust of the program perfectly clear. Social media users are lab rats being carefully scrutinized by government-supported researchers, their tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram pictures being analyzed to determine how information spreads online, and, by implication, how the government and the military can use these social media networks to make their own propaganda “go viral.”

As worrying as this research is, it pales in comparison to the knowledge that governments, militaries and political lobby groups are already employing squadrons of foot soldiers to wage information warfare in the social media battlespace.

Yes indeed - and I think this was already planned between 1967 and 1970 by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who then was a very high DARPA official, who wrote between 1967 and 1970 these words, which exactly correspond to what the DARPA got with the introduction of the worldwide web, html, and totally unencrypted emails.

In 1967:

The idea of the technotronic society seems to be under the auspices of Zbigniev Brezezinski, until recently a member of  the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, and now Director of the Research Institute of Communist Affairs at Columbia University. The 'technotronic society' seems to be the  exact opposite of the society of 'spontaneity' demanded by revolutionary students, who Mr Brezezinskin evidently regards as pathetic throw-backs, survivors of Romantic days, forlornly playing out anachronistic roles:

Our society is leaving the phase of spontaneity and is entering a more self-conscious state; ceasing to be an industrial society, its is being shaped to an ever-increasing extent by technology and electronics, and thus becoming the first technotronic society.
And in 1970:
However Mr Brezezinski does not expect that the Luddite lovers of freedom and anarchy will seriously obstruct the new order. For one thing, 'it will soon be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to- date, complete files, containing even personal information about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them.

"The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities."
– Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, 1970

In brief: It was all planned from the very start (or indeed before: in 1967 there were no PCs as yet). Also, while I quote the above from Stephen Spender´s excellent text of 1969 (¨The Year of the Young Rebels¨) - which is on the internet totally unretrievable - and could get some facts from earlier versions of Brzezinski´s personal file on Wikipedia, these earlier versions all have been ¨cleaned up¨ so as to contain nothing of the above.

There is a lot more in the article and it is strongly recommended.


[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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