May 16, 2018

Crisis: On Feminism, ¨Personal Data¨, Gaza, On Nazism, The USA and War


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 16, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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 16, 2018:
1. Gina Haspel and the Fiction of a Feminist CIA
2. Europe’s Data Protection Law Is a Big, Confusing Mess
3. Palestinians Mark 70th Anniversary of Nakba After Israel Kills 61 &
     Wounds 2,700 Protesters in Gaza

4. 'Death of Democracy' author says Trump’s 'cultivation of dishonesty'
     strongly reminiscent of Nazis

5. A Staggeringly Well-Funded Blowback Machine
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. Gina Haspel and the Fiction of a Feminist CIA

This article is by Cora Currier on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Since the announcement of Gina Haspel as the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the CIA, the White House, the agency, and its defenders have leaned heavily on the fact of Haspel’s gender, singling out its historic significance, and suggesting that she ought to be supported because of it. They use it to undermine critics who believe that the most salient thing to consider about Haspel is her role overseeing a CIA black site prison in Thailand, where people were tortured, and her role in the destruction of videotapes of interrogation sessions.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted last weekend that “any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite,” while Trump’s tweets often mention she’s “a woman.”

I say. Let´s see: There are about 0,000000001 Americans who torture while about 0,5 Americans are women, so therefore anyone who opposes the nomination of a torturer as head of the CIA ¨is a total hypocrite¨ who opposes ¨women’s empowerment¨?!?!?!?!

How insane can one be, as spokesperson for the present White House?!

In any case, my conclusion us that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is an utter fraud or else totally insane. (Of course, she may be both.)

Here is more by Cora Currier:

But even if she did make it easier to be a woman working at the CIA, that misses a bigger point: What are those women working for?

Haspel’s case makes a caricature of feminism that would say any glass ceiling is good to break: The Onion headline, “Gina Haspel Recalls Having to Torture More Prisoners Than Male Colleagues to Prove Herself” must have been only too easy to write.

Well... I ceased being ¨a feminist¨ (if indeed feminists allow males to be feminists) in 1970, because I opposed the ¨feminist¨ academic females who then made careers in academia by effectively trying to force all women to become wage-slaves.

They also succeeded, so now in any ordinary family both parents have to work to get an income to raise a family, and most parents ceased to be able to educate their own children properly.

A global feminist perspective insists that we can’t blindly celebrate the historic advancements of women within the U.S. national security state at the expense of critiquing the policies in which those women are implicated. We have to consider the impact of U.S. wars, assassinations, surveillance, and other policies on women the world over. It’s analogous to the critique of the corporatism of Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in” feminism: It may be good for the careers of individual women, but it does nothing to address the injustices perpetrated by the system as a whole.

As I said, I don´t think most ¨feminists¨ since 1970 are real feminists (as e.g. Emma Goldman was). And besides, feminism or ¨feminism¨ are both totally inappropriate when discussing torturers, as I explained above.

2. Europe’s Data Protection Law Is a Big, Confusing Mess

This article is by Alison Cool on The New York Times. It starts as follows:   
There is a growing realization that our data is under attack. From breaches at Equifax to Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of the profile information of more than 87 million Facebook users, it seems as if none of our personal data is safe. And more and more about us is being captured, stored and processed by smart devices like thermostats, baby monitors, WiFi-connected streetlights and traffic sensors.
I have no idea who Alison Cool is, but if the above are his true ideas - ¨it seems as if none of our personal data is safe¨ - he doesn´t know much. According to William Binney - who was one of the greatest experts in the NSA - the NSA has been copying everything from everyone everywhere (also from all Americans) since 2001 or 2002.

Therefore Cool´s ¨
growing realization that our data is under attack¨ may be true for some of the 2 billion morons on Facebook (that steals at least 600 MB of ¨personal data¨ on each and everyone of its members) but is utterly ridiculous from a somewhat informed point of view.

Then again, there is one bit in his article that I quote, as a European also:

In the United States, people who are concerned are looking to Europe. They see Europe’s “right to be forgotten,” by which citizens can force companies to erase some of their personal data, as a step toward regaining ownership of their online selves. And on May 25, the European Union will bring into force the most sweeping regulation ever of what can be done with people’s data.

This law, the General Data Protection Regulation, will give citizens greater control over their data while requiring those who process personal data in the European Union or about its citizens to take responsibility for its protection. The G.D.P.R. will give Europeans the right to data portability (allowing people, for example, to take their data from one social network to another) and the right not to be subject to decisions based on automated data processing (prohibiting, for example, the use of an algorithm to reject applicants for jobs or loans). Advocates seem to believe that the new law could replace a corporate-controlled internet with a digital democracy.

There’s just one problem: No one understands the G.D.P.R.

Well... nobody understands much of ¨the law¨ anyway, without being a lawyer, as anyone who has ever tried to read some of the internet laws will know, and besides, there still is hardly any law designed for the internet that works or that is reasonable and rational.

Then again, I do know that the ¨
G.D.P.R.¨ is a major fraud for the simple reason that there should be NO ¨personal data¨ - your age, your face, your income, your ideas, your values, your interests, your photographs, your income and so on and so forth, including your porn and your videos - that now are ALL known to both your government´s spies (that call themselves ¨national security¨) and to Facebook, Google, Apple etc. - and that anyone with sufficient power or money can get, totally unproblematically also, and since the last 15 years or so, and that no one without power or money can get.

I think the internet is by far the best means to introduce neofascism everywhere, and has been designed on purpose to do so, although those who designed it did not call their ideal society ¨neofascism¨ but - in the late 1960ies - ¨technotronic¨.

This is quoted from a Nederlog of May 3, 2018:

I think [the present form of the internet] 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).

3. Palestinians Mark 70th Anniversary of Nakba After Israel Kills 61 & Wounds 2,700 Protesters in Gaza

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

The Israeli military killed at least 61 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded 2,700 more for protesting Monday’s opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the Israeli occupation. It was the deadliest day for Palestinian protesters since they launched the nonviolent Great March of Return on March 30. Palestinian leaders are accusing the Israeli military of carrying out war crimes during Monday’s crackdown. More protests and a general strike across the Palestinian territories are planned for today. We get an update from Gaza with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.

I reported yesterday on this, when the number of killed Palestinian civilians was 55 and the number of wounded Palestinian civilians was 1200, and I take it the present numbers - 61 killed and 2,700 wounded - are probably correct. (The shooting took place the day before yesterday.)

And I also said yesterday (and I correct the number today):
[T]his means over 1200  over 2700 Palestinians were wounded or killed in one day by Israeli military. And yesterday I pointed out - see ¨On Gaza¨ - that in modern war in the last 50 or 60 years it are mostly civilians who are being killed by the military of the opposing party (which incidentally also happened in WW II).
I agree these are war crimes, though as I also said in the just quoted bit this seem to be the form many modern wars take: The military kill mostly civilians from the other party.

Here is more (also with a correction by me of what seems a typo):

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, the Palestinian permanent observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, condemned Israel’s actions.

RIYAD MANSOUR: Of course, this massacre is taking place at the same time when the United States of America, illegally and unilaterally and in a provocative way, is opening its embassy. It is very, very tragic that they’re celebrating an illegal action while Israel is killing and injuring thousands of Palestinian civilians. This is the life of the Palestinian people. And those who think that opening the embassy open doors to peace, let them look at what is really happening in the Gaza Strip. Is killing 45 civilians and injuring 2,000 [would be] helpful to open doors for peace, or is it deepening the resentment and atmosphere of hatred between people, instead of moving in the direction of peace?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Meanwhile, in Washington, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah called the deaths of the Palestinians propaganda.
I think Mansour spoke correctly, except that the actual numbers are higher. Here is Raj Shah (quoted):

JESSICA STONE: Jared Kushner, in his speech, pointed a finger at the Palestinians, saying they were responsible for provoking violence. But given the fact that it’s only Palestinians who are being killed, should Israel not shoulder some of the blame?

DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY RAJ SHAH: Well, as I said earlier, we believe Hamas bears the responsibility. But this is a propaganda attempt. I mean, this is a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt. I think the Israeli government has spent weeks trying to handle this without violence. And we find it very unfortunate.

I think (as a psychologist) that Shah is a sadist and total - and as I said: sick - liar. I mean: The Israeli Army shot 2700 civilians, killing over 60, and Shah says these civilians are to blame?!

This underlined by the following bit, that is the last that I quote from this article:
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Gaza, where we’re joined by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. He’s a Puffin fellow at The Nation Institute.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: That’s right, Amy. I mean, we’re on the spot, just east of Gaza City, where the most casualties took place. Twenty-seven people were killed here, according to the Ministry of Health. And it was a scene of chaos, in many ways, with burning tires, tear gas, young men throwing rocks and these kites flying over. But you have to understand that the sniper bullets don’t come in quick succession. It’s not a barrage of fire. It’s methodical. It’s patient. It’s precise. You hear a shot, and someone falls down. Then his bloodied body is carried away. You wait a few minutes, you hear another shot, and another body falls. And that’s how 1,350 people were shot yesterday—slowly, by Israel. And the death toll now has gone to over 60. The number of injured is 2,700, over 2,700.
I say. This is a recommended article.

4. 'Death of Democracy' author says Trump’s 'cultivation of dishonesty' strongly reminiscent of Nazis

This article is by Chauncy DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:

Donald Trump's behavior is drawn from a familiar authoritarian playbook: threats of violence against his political enemies, contempt for the rule of law, incessant lies and corruption, militant nationalism, disdain for a free press, and the portrayal of his supporters as "real citizens" over and against lesser others. Trump has merely adapted those most vulgar of political tactics to fit America's political culture.

But there are more sinister echoes from one of the darkest moments in modern history in Donald Trump's version of American fascism. Some people hide behind sophomoric rules of internet culture, where to compare anything in American life to the horrors of Hitler and the Nazi era is automatically dismissed. That is functional surrender. Real resistance requires facing  America's present circumstances with open eyes.

Well... I am pretty certain that I know more about fascism than DeVega does, although that is not DeVega´s fault (who also is neither a philosopher or a psychologist, as I am) and is mostly due to the fact that both of my parents and one grandparent were in the - real - resistance against Nazism in WW II, and that my father and his father were arrested by the Nazis in August of 1941, and were then convicted as ¨political terrorists¨ - by Dutch collaborating judges - to concentration camp imprisonment, that my grandfather did not survive.

One of the things I learned is that there are many different ideas about what ¨fascism¨ means. Here is one survey of 21 different definitions of the term ¨fascism" that I wrote a few years ago:
On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. This considers 21 different ¨definitions¨ (between quotes, because most writers about fascism don´t seem to have clear ideas of what definitions are) of the term ¨fascism¨.

And I think that the ¨
familiar authoritarian playbook¨ that DeVega mentions in his first paragraph is sufficiently close to quite a few of the different ¨definitions¨  of the term ¨fascism¨ to be called fascism.

Here is more by DeVega:

How is Donald Trump's political style and agenda similar (or not) to that of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler? What parallels and comparisons exist between the economic and social crisis in German society and democracy during the 1920s and 1930s and the United States in the age of Trump? How did mainstream right-wing German politicians -- like Republicans today -- enable Hitler's rise to power? How are anxiety and guilt among the dominant group regarding their treatment of minority groups used by right-wing authoritarians? What lessons do that earlier era of "fake news" and "the big lie" hold for America now?

In an effort to answer those questions, I recently spoke with Benjamin Carter Hett. He is a professor of history at Hunter College and the City University of New York and author of the new book "The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic."

I think DeVega´s questions are justified, but mostly not easily answered. The interview with Benjamin Carter is fairly long. I´ll leave it to your interests except for one bit:

The NRA and other gun obsessives love to argue that if the Jews in Germany had had guns, they would have been able to stop Hitler. By implication, America should never have serious gun control.  

The idea that there wouldn’t have been a Holocaust if there had not been gun control is so historically illiterate on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. There were between  5.5 million and 6 million victims of the Holocaust. Of those, only -- I hate to say "only" in this context, but relatively speaking -- only a couple of hundred thousand were German, meaning only a couple of hundred thousand lived in a country where the Nazi laws were actually relevant. The great majority of Holocaust victims were from Poland or the Soviet Union, so German laws had nothing to do with them. So NRA types would have to take their complaints and theories to Joseph Stalin.

Then you have to consider the circumstances under which people died in the Holocaust. I actually read a comment where someone actually said, “If people had guns when the Nazis came to get them to put them on trains and send them to the camps then they could have fought back.” Well, by no means did everybody who was killed in the Holocaust die that way. Nearly half of Holocaust victims died at the hands of mobile killing squads. These were basically massive forces of police officers who swept through areas like Poland and the Soviet Union just behind the German army as it advanced.

Besides, the Jews were everywhere in a rather small minority, while the Nazis were a dictatorship, that also had abolished most of the laws that existed before them. The whole idea of the NRA is totally ignorant and ridiculous, if indeed it is not sick and malicious.
And this is a recommended article.

5. A Staggeringly Well-Funded Blowback Machine

This article is by Tom Engelhardt on Common Dreams and originally on TomDispatch. This starts as follows:

Note from Tom: Today’s post is an excerpt from my newest book, A Nation Unmade by War, my personal portrait of our increasingly mad world. It’s just hitting the bookstores, so do support TomDispatch (and me) by picking up a copy.

As I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into America’s war on terror from September 12, 2001, through fiscal year 2018. That figure: a cool $5.6 trillion (including the future costs of caring for our war vets). On average, that’s at least $23,386 per taxpayer.

Keep in mind that such figures, however eye-popping, are only the dollar costs of our wars. They don’t, for instance, include the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably -- in these years, almost uniquely -- bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called “national security.” That’s not, of course, what would make most of us more secure, but what would make them -- the denizens of the national security state -- ever more secure in Washington and elsewhere. We’re talking about the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. nuclear complex, and the rest of that state-within-a-state, including its many intelligence agencies and the warrior corporations that have, by now, been fused into that vast and vastly profitable interlocking structure.

Yes indeed: I think this is mostly quite correct. (I do not know about the $5.6 trillion, but I accept it as a fair estimate.)

There is considerably more in the article, but I quote one more bit:

If I could bring my parents back from the dead right now, I know that this country in its present state would boggle their minds. They wouldn’t recognize it. If I were to tell them, for instance, that just three men -- Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett -- now possess as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, of 160 million Americans, they would never believe me.

How, for instance, could I begin to explain to them the ways in which, in these years, money flowed ever upward into the pockets of the immensely wealthy and then down again into what became one-percent elections that would finally ensconce a billionaire and his family in the White House? How would I explain to them that, while leading congressional Democrats and Republicans couldn’t say often enough that this country was uniquely greater than any that ever existed, none of them could find the funds -- some $5.6 trillion for starters -- necessary for our roads, dams, bridges, tunnels, and other crucial infrastructure?
These are - I think - all fair questions. And this is a 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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