July 17, 2018

Crisis: US Media, Greenwald vs. Circincione, New York´s Totaliarian Intolerance, Roundup


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

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

And I like to say that today it was rather difficult to collect a somewhat fair summary of the press, mostly because of yesterday´s meeting of Putin with Trump. I have chosen, in the end,
for two different summaries - item 1 and item 5 - and to let an interview with Glenn Greenwald (in two parts: item 2 and item 3) do the rest.

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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 17, 2018:
1. US Media is Losing Its Mind Over Trump-Putin Press Conference
2. Debate: Is Trump-Putin Summit a “Danger to America” or Crucial
     Diplomacy Between Nuclear Powers?

3. Greenwald vs. Cirincione: Should Trump Have Canceled Summit After
     U.S. Indictment of Russian Agents?

4. In New York, Intolerance Has Become Routine
5. “Surrender Summit” Roundup
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. US Media is Losing Its Mind Over Trump-Putin Press Conference

This article is by Joe Lauria on Consortiumnews - and see the introduction of today. It is has a subtitle, which I reproduce:
The media’s mania over Trump’s Helsinki performance and the so-called Russia-gate scandal reached new depths on Monday, says Joe Lauria
And it starts as follows:
The reaction of the U.S. establishment media and several political leaders to President Donald Trump’s press conference after his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has been stunning.

Writing in The Atlantic, James Fallows said:
    “There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.

    Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

    Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not  realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.

    Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions … never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.”
As soon as the press conference ended CNN cut to its panel with these words from TV personality Anderson Cooper: “You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, surely, that I’ve ever seen.”
I say. It seems (to me and to some others) that the reason for Fallows´ and Cooper´s opinions is that they believe (or perhaps pretend to believe) the reports and indictments of the mainstream media (mostly) that agree - falsely - that these reports and indictments are not merely possible but are true, which in fact is - quite literally - a prejudice.

Here is a bit more:
White House correspondent Jim Acosta, ostensibly an objective reporter, then gave his opinion: “I think that sums it up nicely. This is the president of the United States essentially taking the word of the Russian president…over his own intelligence community. It was astonishing, just astonishing to be in the room with the U.S. president and the Russian president on this critical question of election interference, and to retreat back to these talking points about DNC servers and Hillary Clinton’s emails when he had a chance right there in front of the world to tell Vladimir Putin to stay the HELL out of American democracy, and he didn’t do it.”
This is pure ideology. There is a lot more, which I leave to your interests. Here is one more bit, this time by former CIA director John Brennan, who well may be one of the ¨intelligence sources¨ that are believed to be infallibly true by mainstream reporters, while in fact they are mostly stories without real evidence (so far, at least):
The media’s handlers were even worse than their assets. Former CIA director John Brennan tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Again there is a lot more in the article, that I leave to your interests, but here are two general explanations, both of which seem correct to me:
But there is a simple explanation why establishment journalists are in unison in their dominant Russian narrative: it is career suicide to question it.

As Samuel Johnson said as far back as 1745: “The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion …since vanity and credulity cooperate in its favour.”
The first paragraph seems both true, and is yet another indication that the mainstream press (those who have ¨establishment journalists¨) is in fact totalitarian (except in the Wikipedia´s and the late Brzezinski´s opinions).

The second paragraph is simply true since 1745, or perhaps 500 BC, but it is also an opinion most people who are remarkably less intelligent than Johnson (which comprises the vast majority) have strongly disagreed with.

And there is a lot more in the article, which is recommended.

2. Debate: Is Trump-Putin Summit a “Danger to America” or Crucial Diplomacy Between Nuclear Powers?

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
As President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, we host a debate on U.S.-Russia relations. In Washington, D.C., we speak with Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Greenwald calls the Trump-Putin meeting “excellent” and adds that President Obama also sought diplomacy with Russia. Cirincione calls the summit “a danger to America and to the West.”
In fact, this is the first of two articles both of which I extract to a certain extent, and I do so because these opinions at least are reasonable. In fact, this applies both to Glenn Greenwald and to Joe Cirincioni, although they disagree.

Here is the beginning of this - long - interview:

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we are hosting a debate.

In Washington, D.C., we’re joined right now by Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late and Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, his recent Defense One article headlined “A No-Cost, No-Brainer of a Nuclear Deal.”

Joining us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept, recently returned from a trip from Russia, where he met with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. He tweeted a photo of them together with a caption reading “So excited to reunite today with one of this generation’s greatest whistleblowers and my colleague in defense of press freedoms, Edward Snowden.”

This is just the introduction. Here is first Joe Cirincioni:

Joe Cirincione, you’re deeply concerned about nuclear weapons, about the nuclear arms race. Do you think this meeting, this summit that Trump has called in Helsinki, is a good thing?

JOE CIRINCIONE: No, I do not. This is a danger to America and to the West. This is without precedent in modern American history. We have never had an American leader that was this weak, this obsequious towards a murdering tyrant like Vladimir Putin. Both of these gentlemen have terrible records on freedom of the press, on encouraging a participation in the rule of their countries.

There is one good thing, and only one good thing, that I could see that could come out of this meeting, and that is the extension of the New START agreement, the agreement that limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces. We’ve been limiting these forces since Richard Nixon agreed to do so in 1972. This deal expires in 2021. If those limits come off, we will not only be in an arms race, which we now are, but we will be in an arms race without guide rails, without limits, without any kind of structured talks to limit the arms race. That is the only good thing that could come out of this summit.

And I note that Cirincioni is a strong opponent of nuclear arms, and in fact agrees with Greenwald on quite a number of things, though not on the Trump-Putin meeting.

Here is Greenwald on the same:

GLENN GREENWALD: I think it’s excellent.
It is true that Putin is an authoritarian and is domestically repressive. That’s true of many of the closest allies of the United States, as well, who are even far more repressive, including ones that fund most of the think tanks in D.C., such as the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. And I think the most important issue is the one that we just heard, which is that 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are in the hands of two countries—the United States and Russia—and having them speak and get along is much better than having them isolate one another and increase the risk of not just intentional conflict, but misperception and miscommunication, as well.

I agree with this. Here is some more, this time Greenwald about the mainstream media:

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I mean, I think this kind of rhetoric is so unbelievably unhinged, the idea that the phishing links sent to John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee are the greatest threat to American democracy in decades. People are now talking about it as though it’s on par with 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, that the lights are blinking red, in terms of the threat level. This is lunacy, this kind of talk. I spent years reading through the most top-secret documents of the NSA, and I can tell you that not only do they send phishing links to Russian agencies of every type continuously on a daily basis, but do far more aggressive interference in the cybersecurity of every single country than Russia is accused of having done during the 2016 election. To characterize this as some kind of grave existential threat to American democracy is exactly the kind of rhetoric that we heard throughout the Bush-Cheney administration about what al-Qaeda was like.

And I agree again. Here is still more Greenwald, this time on Joe Cirincione:

GLENN GREENWALD: I actually think that Joe and I are largely in agreement on most of these questions, with the exception of how to look at what happened in 2016. And I think it’s time that we move past 2016, fortify our computer systems, try and of course have cyberdefenses, like we’re already doing, but instead of looking at the world through the 2016 election, look at it through The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, that is now at two minutes before midnight, the worst rating since 1953 for the threat to humanity, largely because of the threat of nuclear weapons, along with climate change, that is in the hands of these two countries. And let’s hope for more and more and more dialogue between Russia and the United States, and move away from the rhetoric that says it’s treasonous or dangerous for us to meet and talk and have dialogue.

There is a lot more in this interview that is strongly recommended. There´s also more, and that comes next, in extracted form:

3. Greenwald vs. Cirincione: Should Trump Have Canceled Summit After U.S. Indictment of Russian Agents?

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following ibtroduction:
Watch Part 2 of our debate on U.S.-Russia relations as President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. In Washington, D.C., we speak with Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.
For Part 1, see above. This is from near the beginning of the article:

AMY GOODMAN: What is the START treaty?

JOE CIRINCIONE: There are about 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world. This is a heck of a lot of nuclear weapons, but it’s better than the 70,000 we used to have during the height of the Cold War in the 1980s. We’ve come down. And the reason we’ve come down is that U.S. and Russian leaders have steadily made agreements to reduce their arsenals, step by step, with verified inspections. The New START treaty is the most recent of those agreements. It limits both the United States and Russia to a certain number of deployed long-range systems. The number is 1,550. They can have no more than 1,550 hydrogen bombs on missiles and bombers. Now, that is a huge number. That’s still more than enough to destroy human civilization many times over. But at least you’ve got that limit. And the hope is that you keep going down, down, down.

The risk is that that current treaty, the New START treaty, that President Barack Obama negotiated, will end. It’s got an expiration date, like milk. It’s going to expire in 2021—2021.
This is all true to the best of my knowledge. Here is more by Cirincione:

JOE CIRINCIONE: (..) And I do agree that world leaders should meet. It’s the meeting now, at this time, the way Trump is meeting with him. Again, you don’t need this summit to extend New START. You can do it in a phone call. So, what’s happening is the validation that this meeting is giving to Vladimir Putin, this acceptance that it’s giving it to him, to say that everything he’s been doing, all his interference in the U.S. electoral process, is OK, is fine. And, in fact, that “I am closer to you, Vladimir Putin, than I am to my allies in the Western alliance.” This is deeply troubling.

You have to understand, what Donald Trump is doing is systematically taking apart the liberal international order, the systems, as we keep referring it to, of a rules-based system, that we’ve put in place since World War II to prevent conflicts of that kind. He is systematically taking a wrecking ball to these trade agreements, to these alliances, to climate change accords, to anti-nuclear treaties, agreements, like the one we had with Iran.
I think this is also mostly true. Here is Greenwald on the dangers Trump poses to Russia:
GLENN GREENWALD: (...) Sending lethal arms to Ukraine, bordering Russia, is a really serious adverse action against the interest of the Russian government. Bombing the Assad regime is, as well. Denouncing one of the most critical projects that the Russian government has, which is the pipeline to sell huge amounts of gas and oil to Germany, is, as well. So is expelling Russian diplomats and imposing serious sanctions on oligarchs that are close to the Putin regime. You can go down the list, over and over and over, in the 18 months that he’s been in office, and see all the things that Donald Trump has done that is adverse, in serious ways, to the interests of Vladimir Putin, including ones that President Obama refused to do. So, this film, this movie fairytale, that I know is really exciting—it’s like international intrigue and blackmail, like the Russians have something over Trump; it’s like a Manchurian candidate; it’s from like the 1970s thrillers that we all watched—is inane—you know, with all due respect to Joe.
As far as the indictments from Mueller are concerned, it’s certainly the most specific accounting yet that we’ve gotten of what the U.S. government claims the Russian government did in 2016. But it’s extremely important to remember what every first-year law student will tell you, which is that an indictment is nothing more than the assertions of a prosecutor unaccompanied by evidence. The evidence won’t be presented until a trial or until Robert Mueller actually issues a report to Congress.
Yes indeed. And this is Greenwald on both the USA and Russia:
GLENN GREENWALD: The United—I’m sorry to say this, but it’s absolutely true. The United States and Russia have been interfering in one another’s domestic politics for since at least the end of World War II, to say nothing of what they do in far more extreme ways to the internal politics of other countries. Noam Chomsky was on this very program several months ago, and he talked about how the entire world is laughing at this indignation from the United States—”How dare you interfere in our democracy!”—when the United States not only has continuously in the past done, but continues to do far more extreme interference in the internal politics of all kinds of countries, including Russia.
Yes indeed. Here is the last part I quote from this fine interview, and this time it is Greenwald on the failures of the center-left parties in Europe and the Democratic Party in the USA:
GLENN GREENWALD: And I think the most important point is the one that, as I said, Joe made just this week, which is that until the Democratic Party figures out—and this is true not just of Democrats but of center-left parties all throughout Europe and here in Brazil—until they figure out how again to reconnect, not with the highly educated class and the rich and the metropolitan enclaves, but with the working class of these countries, that feel trampled on and ignored, and for that reason are turning to demagogues, we’re going to have more Donald Trumps and worse Donald Trumps, not just in the United States, but throughout the world. And that is, for me, the greatest problem that we face politically.
This seems also true and there is a lot more in this interview that is strongly recommended.

4. In New York, Intolerance Has Become Routine

This article is by Rahima Nasa on Truthdig and originally on ProPublica. It starts as follows:

It is just a snapshot, but it makes for a plenty ugly picture all the same: The New York City Commission on Human Rights surveyed more than 3,000 Muslim, Jewish and Sikh residents of the city late in 2017 and found striking rates of racially and or religiously motivated assault, harassment and workplace discrimination.

Some 38 percent of those surveyed said they had been verbally harassed or taunted because of their race or faith. Nearly 10 percent said they had been the victim of an actual physical assault. A similar percentage of those surveyed said they had seen their property vandalized or otherwise defaced.

Lurking in those broad numbers are some more specific outrages: 18 percent of Sikhs surveyed said they had been denied service by a local business; roughly 6 percent of those surveyed who said they wore religious garments reported having had someone try and tear those garments off them.

I say, which I do because I had no idea it was as bad as this. And - once again! - in my (very well informed) opinion this is strong evidence that totalitarian attitudes are increasing a lot in the present USA, but them again I am not allowed to say so by Brzezinski´s bullshit opinions about totalitarianism, that lately have been printed as gospel truth on the sick and sickening Wikipedia.

Here is more about totalitarianism in the USA (except in the Wikipedia):

Some 17 percent of those surveyed reported some form of discrimination at work — from being told they could not observe their faith to being told they could not wear religious clothing. Roughly 3 percent reported being fired because of their race, ethnicity or religion.

The findings are consistent with national and local trends. The FBI and the New York City Police Department have seen increases in reports of hate crimes in the last several years. A recent report from the California attorney general’s offices  showed that hate crimes in the state have increased by about 17 percent in the last year and have been on the rise for the last three years.

Again I say this is strong evidence for mounting totalitarianism in the USA, and add that according to Brzezinski on the Wikipedia this is all utterly mistaken: ONLY nations can be totalitarian, according to him, and people or parties just cannot be totalitarian, as indeed - in Brzezinski´s opinions - the USA cannot be totalitarian either.

Here is the ending of this article:

The population perhaps most at risk? Black Muslim women in the Bronx, where one in five reported being physically assaulted in the months in question.

Carmelyn P. Malalis, the city human right commissioner, said one of the things that struck her in the survey was how many of those reporting abuse “have accepted these indignities as part of their everyday lives.”

“Sadly, the high rates of bias and discrimination revealed in this survey were not surprising given the recent wave of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric surrounding changes in federal immigration policies and bias-motivated attacks and harassment against these communities,” said Malalis.

I agree with Malalis, but the Wikipedia and Brzezinski do not. And this is a recommended article.

5. “Surrender Summit” Roundup

This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:

Now fully alert, I’m making the rounds of TV and the print media. So far, Mike Pence has defended Trump’s performance in Helsinki, but that seems to be about it. Here’s a quick roundup:

  • On CNN they are openly talking about whether the pee tape is real.
  • Michael Anton — a diehard Trump supporter who worked at the White House until recently — cancelled his appearance on CNN because he said he couldn’t defend Trump.
  • Conservative journalist Byron York on Fox: “Putin wasn’t taking the side of the US intelligence service. That’s a significant mistake.”
  • Anderson Cooper: “Perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a Russian summit ever.”
I started today´s Nederlog with the explanation that today it was rather difficult to collect a somewhat fair summary of the press, mostly because of yesterday´s meeting of Putin with Trump, and I also quoted Joe Lauria.

And in fact, the present article was the best somewhat fair summary of the press. Here is more:

  • John King: “You should call this the surrender summit.”
  • Charles Sykes: “On Monday, Trump found that bigger bully and his cowering was the embarrassment heard round the world….Trump’s performance is frequently compared to Neville Chamberlain. But this is unfair to Chamberlain, who, although deeply wrongheaded, was in fact a serious and patriotic man. Trump’s performance in Helsinki was something else altogether, a performance so servile that we struggle to place it in context, because there are no parallels in the history of the American presidency.”
  • And here is more:

  • Sen. John McCain: “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”
  • Sen. Bob Corker: “I did not think this was a good moment for our country.”
  • Sen. Jeff Flake: “This is shameful.”
  • Thomas Friedman: “Such behavior by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values, that it leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.”
  • Paul Ryan: “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”
  • CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto: “A sad and dangerous day for America.”
  • State Department: Nothing. The entire department went dark today.

That’s a sampling from journalists and conservatives. You can probably guess what Democrats had to say about all this.

In fact, this is a strongly recommended article, because it gives many opinions in a small space.

[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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