May 17, 2018

Crisis: On Julian Assange, Sadist Gina Haspel, Gaza, Net Neutrality, U.S. Imperialism


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 17, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 17, 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 17, 2018:
1. Ecuador’s Ex-President Rafael Correa Denounces Treatment of Julian
     Assange as “Torture”

2. Key Democrats Back Gina Haspel’s Confirmation as CIA Director,
     Despite Her Record on Torture

3. Norman Finkelstein: Palestinians Have the Right to Break Free of the
     “Unlivable” Cage That Is Gaza

4. Trump-Obsessed Media Outlets Again Ignore Critical Net Neutrality

5. On U.S. Imperialism, Capitalism and Fascism
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. Ecuador’s Ex-President Rafael Correa Denounces Treatment of Julian Assange as “Torture”

This article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, in an exclusive interview with The Intercept on Wednesday morning, denounced his country’s current government for blocking Julian Assange from receiving visitors in its embassy in London as a form of “torture” and a violation of Ecuador’s duties to protect Assange’s safety and well-being. Correa said this took place in the context of Ecuador no longer maintaining “normal sovereign relations with the American government — just submission.”

Correa also responded to a widely discussed Guardian article yesterday, which claimed that “Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy.” The former president mocked the story as highly “sensationalistic,” accusing The Guardian of seeking to depict routine and modest embassy security measures as something scandalous or unusual.

Well... I agree with Correa that ¨his country’s current government for blocking Julian Assange from receiving visitors in its embassy in London¨ is very unfair but I don´t agree it is ¨torture¨ (at least not compared with people being waterboarded or people being pulled their nails out).

Here is more:

On March 27, Assange’s internet access at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was cut off by Ecuadorian officials, who also installed jamming devices to prevent Assange from accessing the internet using other means of connection. Assange’s previously active Twitter account has had no activity since then, nor have any journalists been able to communicate with him. All visitors to the embassy have also been denied access to Assange, who was formally made a citizen of Ecuador earlier this year.

Again, this is very unfair (but it is not torture). Here is some on the background:

Assange has been confined to the embassy for almost six years, when Ecuador granted him asylum in August 2012. The grant of asylum was made on the grounds that Assange’s extradition to Sweden for a sexual assault investigation would likely result in being sent to the U.S. for prosecution, where he could face the death penalty.

From the start, Ecuador told both the U.K. and Swedish governments that it would immediately send Assange to Stockholm in exchange for a pledge from Sweden not to use that as a pretext to extradite him to the U.S., something the Swedish government had the power to do but refused.

Yes indeed. And here is more on Julian Assange´s current fate:

In January, doctors who examined Assange inside the embassy warned that continued confinement posed grave threats to both his physical and mental health. Assange’s mother said earlier this week that his health was “rapidly deteriorating” and had become “extremely dangerous.”

Correa cited those facts, as well as Ecuador’s legal obligations under international law to asylees, to denounce Ecuador’s denial of visitors to Assange as “basically torture.” Denial of visitors is, Correa said, “a clear violation of his rights. Once we give asylum to someone, we are responsible for his safety, for ensuring humane living conditions.” But “without communications to the outside world and visits from anyone, the government is basically attacking Julian’s mental health.”

Once again: I think Assange´s treatment very unfair, and I take his doctors´ advice seriously, but I think it was a mistake of Correa to say this is ¨torture¨, although I agree it may be ¨attacking Julian’s mental health”¨. This is a recommended article.

2. Key Democrats Back Gina Haspel’s Confirmation as CIA Director, Despite Her Record on Torture

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
The Senate Intelligence Committee approved President Trump’s nominee for CIA
director, Gina Haspel, sending her confirmation to the full Senate floor. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. She also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. A number of key Democrats have come out backing Haspel, after she said the CIA torture program should never have existed, even though she repeatedly refused to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral, during her confirmation hearing last week. For more, we speak with Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Intercept. His latest story is headlined “Ahead of Vote on Gina Haspel, Senate Pulls Access to Damning Classified Memo.”
As far as I can see Gina Haspel tortured people in Thailand for the USA (but she was ¨just following orders¨ and besides ¨She Is A Woman¨) and then destroyed the evidence that she did; and now is being nominated as the head of the CIA.

I think the CIA is being changed into an explicitly torturing American secret service that is headed by a sadist who has been shown to be a torturer and a liar.

Here is Ryan Grim:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ryan, it was bad enough, her participation, in terms of the torture, enhanced interrogation, but the whole issue of her being involved in the destruction of the tapes. Could you talk about that, expand on that somewhat?

RYAN GRIM: Yeah, exactly. She was a central driver of—you know, bureaucratically, of this push to destroy these tapes. Sometimes her role is cast as: “Well, she was asked to do it by her boss. And so, why are—you know, and it was approved by a lawyer. So why are we even putting this on her?” In fact, this was one of the things that she was most concerned about at the time. The Bush administration White House—and, you know, let that sink in—and Porter Goss, head of the CIA at the time, were all opposed to the destruction of these tapes. The senior lawyers who were involved with it said, “Do not destroy these tapes.”

What Haspel appears to have done is figured out a bureaucratic workaround, where she found some low-level attorneys and asked them, “Does Jose Rodriguez have sole authority, on his own, to make a decision about what to do with these tapes? And would it be legal for him to destroy these, if he decided on his sole authority?” And these lawyers said, “Yeah, I suppose that he has that authority.” But she knew at the time that the policy was to preserve this evidence. She went around—those lawyers went around the White House, went around the senior leadership at the CIA. And she and her boss just, essentially, unilaterally, among themselves, destroyed the tapes, knowing that once they were destroyed, the only thing that could be done was to ask for forgiveness—which, astutely, they realized that they would get.

Yes indeed. So once again: I think the CIA is being changed into an explicitly torturing American secret service that is headed by a sadist who has been shown to be a torturer and a liar. And the Democrats who supported nominating a sadistic torturer as head of the CIA are sick and immoral degenerates. This is a strongly recommended article.

3. Norman Finkelstein: Palestinians Have the Right to Break Free of the “Unlivable” Cage That Is Gaza

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
This spring’s mass nonviolent protests in Gaza come as the human rights conditions in the “open-air prison” have even further deteriorated. Last year, the United Nations issued a report warning Gaza is already “unlivable.” The majority of its water is contaminated, and electricity is limited to only a few hours a day. About half the population is children. Almost all are refugees who are prevented from ever leaving the tiny Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on Earth. For more, we speak with Norman Finkelstein, author and scholar whose most recent book is titled “Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.”
I think this introduction is factually correct. Here is more by González and Finkelstein:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was the State Department spokesperson. Norm, this whole—people forget that the blockade, how the—the origins of the existing blockade around Gaza as a result of Israel’s reaction to a democratic election that occurred in the Palestinian territories. Could you refresh the viewers’ minds about this? And who is responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: OK. First of all, as Amira Hass, the respected journalist from Haaretz, pointed out today in the newspaper, the blockade of Gaza, in its milder form, but still severe form, it goes back 27 years. It started in 1991 during the first intifada. The blockade was then significantly, qualitatively intensified after the Hamas won the parliamentary elections—what Jimmy Carter, who was an observer, called a completely and honest—completely honest and fair elections, in January 2006. The immediate reaction of Israel, followed by the United States and then the EU, was to impose this brutal blockade on Gaza, which at a certain point even blockaded, prohibited chips, potato chips, baby chicks, chocolate from entering Gaza. And then, after Hamas preempted a coup, orchestrated by the United States, Israel and elements of the Palestinian Authority in 2007, Israel ratcheted up the blockade of Gaza.

This is also all factually correct to the best of my knowledge. Here is more:

Now, we have to be clear, and I don’t want to get too dramatic about it, too emotive about it, but we have to be clear about that blockade. Number one, it’s a flagrant violation of international law, because it constitutes a form of collective punishment. Number two, since 2012, the United Nations—and these are very staid, conservative bureaucrats, who don’t use—they don’t use poetic language. They start, in 2012, by saying—issuing a report in the interrogative: Will Gaza be livable in 2020? In 2015, UNCTAD issued a report. It then used the declarative. It said, on its present trajectory, Gaza will be unlivable in 2020. Now, bear in mind, literally unlivable. These are U.N. reports by professional economists. By 2017, the U.N., Robert Piper, he said, “We were too optimistic. Gaza passed the unlivability threshold years ago. Gaza, as we speak, it’s unlivable.”

Now, what does that mean concretely? Ninety-seven percent of Gaza’s drinking water is contaminated. Now, bear in mind, of the 2 million people in Gaza, 1 million or more, 51 percent, are children.
And this also seems factually correct. Here is a summary:
Two million people, half of whom are children, are trapped, caged in an unlivable space where they are, to quote Sara Roy, “slowly being poisoned.” Unless you believe that Israel has the right to poison 1 million children, it has no right to use any force against the people of Gaza. They have the right to break free from the cage Israel has created for them.
I agree and this is a recommended article.
4. Trump-Obsessed Media Outlets Again Ignore Critical Net Neutrality News

This article is by Dina Radtke on Common Dreams. This is from near its beginning:

Net neutrality requires internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to give their users equal access to all internet content. Upending these rules means that, for a fee, ISPs can prioritize certain websites, allowing them to load more quickly on their users’ devices, and slow down or even block other sites. As Wired’s Klint Finley explained, “Well-established services from deep-pocketed companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft will likely remain widely available. But net-neutrality advocates argue that smaller companies that don’t have the money to pay for fast lanes could suffer. In other words, protecting net neutrality isn't about saving Netflix but about saving the next Netflix.”

The FCC, led by Trump-nominated Ajit Pai, decided last year to end net neutrality rules in a move that voters across the political spectrum largely opposed. Leading up to the FCC’s vote, though, many media outlets were shockingly silent on the repercussions of upending consumer protections on internet access.

Yes, this seems basically correct. Here is some from the ending of this article:

As Democratic senators made a last-ditch effort to salvage net neutrality rules -- which passed in the Senate -- coverage by many media outlets is still nowhere to be found.
Additionally, a Nexis search for “net neutrality” produced zero results among the nation’s top newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post, and USA Today.

Yes again, and I should add that even if the Senate now disapproves, Trump approves, and he will very probably disapprove that net neutrality is maintained. This is a recommended article.

5. On U.S. Imperialism, Capitalism and Fascism

This article is by David William Pear on The Off-Guardian and originally on This is from near its beginning:
For centuries the U.S. has preached that it believes in democracy, freedom and self-determination, but its actions towards other countries speak louder than words. Internationally the U.S. is a predator and a bully. It subjugates small countries, corrupts them by backing right-wing dictators, and enables death squads to commit mass murder of all suspected dissidents. During the First Cold War leftists, anti-colonialists, nationalists and intellectuals were called “communists” and imprisoned, tortured and executed. Now they are called “terrorists”.

The foreign policy interests of the U.S. are to promote the neocolonial interests of U.S. corporations, and to project the financial and military power of the U.S. internationally. If the U.S. cannot bully a head of state into collaborating then it backs a military coup d’etat, stirs up internal violence with divide and conquer strategies, and covertly uses mercenaries to start civil wars. If all else fails it will find a pretext or a false flag to invade and overthrow an unfriendly government.

Yes, I basically agree with this. Here is more, from the middle of this article:

Today the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria can be laid posthumously at the feet of Brzezinski. Carter has escaped public blame and he still teaches Sunday School as the Nobel Peace Prize president. Brzezinski was so good at killing millions of people that he went on to advising another Peace Prize president how to do it. President Obama called Brzezinski “one of our most outstanding thinkers”. Obama picked up the killing where W. Bush left off.

Killing millions of people instead of trying to control them is the model for asymmetrical warfare. Asymmetrical warfare is when the U.S. destroys a small country that has a limited ability to defend itself and cannot strike back. The tools of the trade are the CIA, air power, missiles, drones and mercenaries.

Actually, I think Brzezinski was a considerably worse man than is indicated in this quotation, but I explained so yesterday:

See Europe’s Data Protection Law Is a Big, Confusing Mess that outlines that Brzezinski seems to have designed the internet; that he did so explicitly as an authoritarian neofascist (which are not the terms he used: he called it ¨technotronic¨ in 1969/1970 but it was then  already in fact authoritarian neofascism); and that he has completely succeeded.

If the future of mankind is neofascism, as seems quite likely now (apart from a major economical crisis), then mankind owes this for a good part to Brzezinksi.

Here is the ending of this article, with which I can only partially agree:

Vladimir Lenin explained how today’s U.S. foreign policy works in his 1917 thesis on the causes of World War One: “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. Capitalism leads to monopoly, monopoly leads to imperialism and imperialism leads to war. Capitalism also leads to inequality. Inequality and democracy cannot coexist forever because there are limits to expansion and growth. To preserve inequality requires fascism and a police state. Democracy can only thrive if there is more equality. Eventually, choices will be made between fascism or democracy, and between capitalism or something else?

I can only partially agree to this because I have known this kind of analysis for something like 60 years now: it is Marxism. Also, the above is very schematic. (¨Capitalism¨, ¨Monopolism¨, ¨Imperialism¨ etc.)


[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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