July 28, 2018

Crisis: Political Intelligence, Chomsky on "Family Separation"*2, No More Privacy, Assange


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 28, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, July 28, 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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 28, 2018:
1. Double Negative: Trump, Putin, and the Destruction of Political

2. Noam Chomsky on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Spectacular” Victory
3. “Brutal and Sadistic”: Noam Chomsky on Family Separation
4. Living in a World Bereft of Privacy
5. Why Americans Need to Defend Julian Assange’s Freedom
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. Double Negative: Trump, Putin, and the Destruction of Political Intelligence

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. This starts with the following introduction:

There has been a lot of action the past two weeks relating to the Trump-Russia saga, but does any of it matter? This week on Intercepted: Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen analyzes the fallout from the Trump-Putin summit, what Putin actually wants from Trump, and the indictment of 12 Russian GRU officers. The Intercept’s Micah Lee offers a technical analysis of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of the Russian intelligence operatives who the U.S. Justice Department alleges cyberattacked the Democrats and election software providers. Jeremy argues that Trump is sort of right about stripping security clearances from former senior CIA officials, but for all the wrong reasons. NYU professor Nikhil Pal Singh talks about the ahistorical analogies used to describe Trump and l’affaire Russia, the “far more consequential threats to U.S. democracy” than what is on cable news 24/7. Experimental electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never discusses his Russian roots, Steve Bannon’s favorite book, and the inspiration for his cinematically dystopian album, “Age Of.”

I gave you the complete introduction so that you can see what you miss. In fact, I quote only three bits from the interview Scahill had with Masha Gessen.

Here is the first bit, which is in fact by Scahill and about former CIA or NSA persons like Hayden and Clapper:

JS: Privatizing your supposedly national service, service that is constantly held up with no sense of irony or hypocrisy as evidence of the impeccable character of the pundit or corporate board member who is running their mouth off, that’s legalized corruption and it should be abolished — not for political reasons, not because these people are speaking publicly about Donald Trump, but because they are using their previous positions for private agendas, whether that be lucrative consulting gigs or to engage in historical revisionism in an effort to mislead the public into trusting the most dangerous institutions in our society. Or worse: viewing these people, because they were former senior CIA people, as above criticism or that they represent the very definition of patriotism and to oppose them makes you a traitor. It would be one thing if these people were being challenged when they go on TV or investigated, called out, exposed as part of their cushy lives in the private sector. But that never happens — ever. Instead, this has been a literal and political cash cow, for people, some of whom are responsible for some of the worst crimes committed in the name of the United States when they were doing their official jobs. Allowing these people now to engage in what amounts to insider trading with the most sensitive information possessed by the United States while never holding them accountable for their tenure while they were in office is undemocratic and worse.
It is worse because it is essentially and fundamentally totalitarian - in my and Orwell's sense, but not at all in the sense of Zbigniew Brzezinski who was a mate of Hayden and Clapper.

According to Brzezinski these cannot possibly be
totalitarian because (i)  they served the strongest force for Democracy in the world (the USA), and because (ii) nothing and no one ever can be totalitarian, according to the present utterly sick Wikipedia, unless he or she is an inhabitant of a totalitarian country like the Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany, and more specifically because (iii) ONLY countries and not persons, nor plans, nor policies, nor propaganda, nor values, nor ideals ever can be totalitarian.

I think and indeed I know all of that is utter and total bullshit, but then again that is "your" ("completely free"!) Wikipedia.

Then again, I totally agree with Scahill and indeed with Kiriakou.

And here is Masha Gessen on "the news" in Russia:

JS: So how is it covered in the Russian News Service then?

MG: It’s a complicated thing to describe, not because the Russian media aren’t a monolith, which there are, you know a minute almost the entirety of Russian media are controlled by the state. Broadcast messages that are literally written in the Kremlin, and passed down to the news services, which is how most Russians get their news.

But that’s not the hard part to explain. The hard part to explain is why we would see, for example, in a news entertainment programs actually comment that Trump appears to be Putin’s agent. I’m having a hard time sort of trying to figure out how to explain it to an American audience, because there’s a kind of postmodern propaganda twist to it. Right? It’s like we are laughing about this because it is absurd on the face of it, and yet we are rebroadcasting it because it’s so incredibly flattering. And no, we don’t expect you to believe it, but still it’s the only available reality so you do believe it. That kind of thing. Right? But it’s, you know, it’s a message of power. It’s like Russia has never been more powerful, not even during the Soviet period did it have an American president in his pocket.

I take it - of course - that Gessen is right about how propaganda and "information" are at present being downloaded on the Russians, but I like the reference to postmodernism - which is essentially the thesis that there is no truth whatsoever: absolutely everything is a story, and there simply are no independent facts that would or could or do confirm or infirm these stories - because I know a great lot about it and spent over 40 years battling with it, which is a battle I lost because all Dutch leading politicians combine personal greed and utterly dishonest and also totally unashamed totalitarianism (but not in Brzezinski + the Wikipedia's sense).

I first met postmodernism in August of 1978, that is almost 40 years ago, in the hall of the Maagdenhuis in Amsterdam, when the academic year 1978-1979 was officially opened by the postmodern neofascist liar professor Brandt, who literally asserted (in translation) that

  • "Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist"
He did this as "a scientist" (well... a historian), opening an institution dedicated to science, and what he asserted amounted to the thesis that absolutely everything one hears or reads from absolutely everyone, including all scientists, is only propaganda.

And his point of view was the ideological basis of everything that happened in the "University" of Amsterdam, and certainly between 1978 and 1995, although the reasons for that had little to do with totalitarianism as such, but with the fact that in 1971 (in fear of Parisian revolts as in 1968 n France) effectively all Dutch universities had been handed over effectively to the students, while the students who had the power from 1978 till 1983 were mostly quasi-communists (they said they were communists and they were members of the Dutch Communist Party, but either they were real communists and my parents and grandparents who had been heroic in WW II and been communists for 40 years then were not communists at all but utter frauds, or else the situation was completely the inverse, as I think it is and was).

And from 1983 till 1995 the leadership in the Dutch Universities all were postmodernistic for the same reason, while I - who like my ex has now 40 years of a "serious chronic disease" - was put away, systematically also, by the quasi-communists from the ASVA as "a dirty fascist" and (in 1988) as "a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist" because I had dared to criticize the uttely incompetent academic parasites who were supposed to teach me philosophy but who lied, and lied and lied.

Also, I have been repeating this story for 40 years now; I have found that 95% of the students much rather have the easiest M.A.'s possible; and my own view is that totalitarianism, postmodernism, and lying and propaganda have won, especially with universal surveillance of everyone by the secret services, and that they only can be shoved aside after a massive collapse of the American economy.

You probably disagree, but you certainly did not have my 40+ years of being called "a dirty fascist" and "a terrorist" by otherwise postmodernistically nice (and quite stupid) academics.

Also, having myself an IQ much above 130, I say that the only persons capable of working out the propaganda and totalitarianism they are exposed to daily by their TVs and their papers need an IQ of 130 or higher, which means that they must belong to the brightest 2%.

Anyway... back to Scahill and Gessen:

JS: You know, Masha, one of my biggest fears when I sort of try to step back which I feel like we all need to do pretty regularly in this context and look at like what are the big ramifications of the way we are talking about the Trump presidency, and Trump-Russia so to speak in this moment in time? And I think that the liberal kind of lionization of the FBI, the CIA, the valiant intelligence community, it’s like the Support the Troops line on, you know, massive steroids. And I think it’s going to have far-reaching implications because so many prominent liberals, Democrats and others have gone all in with endorsing the FBI/CIA/NSA as sort of the front that’s keeping us safe from the Soviets taking over America. And I am concerned that that is an on ramp to embracing a much more authoritarian state in the United States.

MG: I agree with you.

I agree with both - and I really have tried, indeed for over 40 years, but one of my main conclusions is that to be able to defend yourself from totalitarian propaganda is to have an IQ that 49 out of 50 miss. I am sorry if this is pessimistic, but this is the result of 40 years of trying and 40 years of failing. 

2. Noam Chomsky on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Spectacular” Victory

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
The 2018 midterm election season has been roiled by the internal divisions between the Democratic Party’s growing progressive base and the more conservative party establishment. In New York City, this division came to a head with the most shocking upset of the election season so far, when 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez handily defeated 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. Ocasio-Cortez ran a progressive grassroots campaign as a Democratic Socialist advocating for “Medicare for All” and the abolition of ICE. For more on her victory and what it means for the Democratic Party, we speak with Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author.
I have written about Octavio-Cortez before, and repeatedly. Here is Noam Chomsky:
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I think there’s—her victory was a quite spectacular and significant event. I think what it points to is a split in the Democratic Party between the—roughly speaking, between the popular base and the party managers. The popular base is increasingly, essentially, social democratic, following, pursuing the—concerned with the kinds of progressive objectives that she outlined in those—in her remarks, which should be directed not only to expanding the electorate but to the general working-class, poor population of the world, of the middle-class population of the country, for whom these ideals are quite significant. They can be brought to that. That’s one part of the party. The other part of the party is the donor-oriented, managerial part of the New Democrats, so-called, the Clintonite Democrats, who are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. The Republican Party itself has drifted so far to the right that they’re almost off the spectrum. But the split within the Democratic Party is significant, and it’s showing up in primary after primary. Will the party move in the direction of its popular base, with a, essentially, social democratic, New Deal-style programs, even beyond? Or will it continue to cater to the donor class and be essentially a moderate wing—a more moderate wing of the Republican Party? And unless that issue is resolved, I don’t think they have a very good chance in the forthcoming elections.
I more or less agree with Chomsky, but not quite.

I agree with him on the splitting of the Democratic Party and on the Clintonite Democrats, and also on the fact that the non-Clintonite Democrats tend to be mostly social democrats (rather than democratic socialists), but I think even something as weak as social democracy probably will fail in the present totalitarian USA, where money, propaganda and lies determine most things, including the outcomes of elections.

Here is more by Chomsky:
We should bear in mind that, for now almost 40 years, since the neoliberal assault began, taking off with Reagan, on from there, a large majority of the population are living in conditions of stagnation or decline. Real wages are—for, say, male real wages—are about what they were in the 1960s. It’s been—there has been productivity growth. Hasn’t gone to working people. It’s gone into the very few extremely overstuffed pockets. And that continues. So, the Labor Department just came out with its report for wages in the year ending May 2018. Now, they actually slightly declined.
Yes, but if the majority of the American electorate cannot even make up their minds after 40 years of being systematically shafted, what will?!

Here is some more by Chomsky:
Notice, as everybody’s well aware, the tax scam was a purposeful effort not only to enrich the super-rich and the corporate sector—corporate profits, of course, are overflowing—but it was also an effort to sharply increase the deficit, which can be used—and Paul Ryan and others kindly announced to us right away what the plans were—the deficit could be used to undermine any elements of government structure which benefit the general population—Medicare, Social Security, food for poor children. Anything you can do to shaft the general population more can now be justified under the argument that we have a huge deficit, thanks to stuffing the pockets of the rich. This is an astonishing phenomenon.
Yes, indeed. But this has also been going on for forty years... In brief, I mostly agree with Chomsky, but I guess I am more pessimistic. And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. “Brutal and Sadistic”: Noam Chomsky on Family Separation

This article is also by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Federal officials say 711 children remain separated from their parents despite Thursday’s court-imposed deadline for the Trump administration to reunite all migrant children separated from their parents by immigration officials at the border. More than 400 parents have been deported back to their home countries while their children remain in U.S. custody in facilities scattered across the United States. For more on the Trump administration’s family separation policy and the roots of today’s refugee crisis, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and professor Noam Chomsky.
Yes, indeed. I select only one bit from this interview:
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, it’s a major scandal, of course, and properly condemned throughout the world. Taking children away from their parents, sending them off somewhere, losing track of them, you know, it’s hard to think of a more brutal and sadistic policy.
But the immigration policy altogether is a grotesque moral scandal here, and in Europe, I should say.
So, essentially, what President Trump is saying is, we’ll destroy your countries, slaughter you, impose brutal regimes, but if you try to get out, you’re not going to come here, because America is full.
Yes, I quite agree, although I would have liked to see more persons than merely Bill Maher and myself who insist that taking these children from their parents is kidnapping.

Incidentally, here is the beginning of the item "kidnapping":
In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against his or her will. Thus, it is a composite crime. It can also be defined as false imprisonment by means of abduction, both of which are separate crimes that when committed simultaneously upon the same person merge as the single crime of kidnapping. The asportation/abduction element is typically but not necessarily conducted by means of force or fear. That is, the perpetrator may use a weapon to force the victim into a vehicle, but it is still kidnapping if the victim is enticed to enter the vehicle willingly, e.g., in the belief it is a taxicab.
How does this differ from what Trump and his government are doing?!

4. Living in a World Bereft of Privacy

This article is by Annie Machon on Consortiumnews. It starts with the following subtitle
As Edward Snowden confirmed beyond doubt, we live in a world where our most intimate moments can be seen by would-be extortioners and, more alarmingly, by our governments, says Annie Machon.
Yes, precisely.

And I think this was the most important bit of confirmation and news that I ever read:

Absolutely everyone living absolutely anywhere is totally open for the secret services (from anywhere) and has no private secrets whatsoever: Everything he or she does with any computer (cellphone, tablet) connected to the internet can be read by each and every secret service and by some of the richest men (from Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft) and by nobody else (other than some hackers).

And I think this is basically although not only thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee: He laid the foundations of neofascism and universal spying on everyone.

Here is more by Machon - and I copy this simply because this may happen to many nowadays:
A few days ago I first received a menacing email from someone calling herself Susana Peritz. She told me “she” had hacked my email, planted malware on my computer, and had then filmed me getting my jollies while watching “interesting” porn online. Her email had caught my attention because it mentioned in the subject line a very old password, attached to a very old email address I had not used for over a decade. The malware must have been planted on a defunct computer.

Putting aside the fact that I am far more concerned about GCHQ or the NSA hacking my computer (as should we all be), this did rather amuse me.

Apparently, I must pay this “Susana” $1000 via Bitcoin or, shock, have my alleged pleasures shared with my acquaintances. And just last night I received another courteous request for cash from someone calling themselves Jillie Abdulrazak, but the price has now been inflated to $3000.

Why am I not concerned? Well, I can safely say – hand on heart – that I have never watched online porn. But this got me thinking about how or why I could have been singled out for this mark of a blackmailer’s esteem, and that brings me on to some rather dark thoughts.
In fact, the same holds for me, but I have never been blackmailed sofar (and don't think I can be). Then again, I assume I am being followed by spies since 2009, when I got fast internet, and since when I have received only very few emails about my large sites (and most of that was trying to move me to put advertisements on my site).

I think that is on purpose, and I thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee and others for it: You made everybody's mail visible for anyone who could catch it.

Here is more Machon:
Ever since I worked as an intelligence officer for MI5, before going on the run with Shayler during the whistleblowing years in the late 1990s, I have been painfully aware of the tech capabilities of the spies. Even back then we knew that computers could be captured by adversaries and turned against you – keystroke loggers, remote recording via microphones, cameras switched on to watch you, and many other horrors.

The whistleblowing of Edward Snowden back in 2013 has confirmed all this and more on an industrial, global scale – we are all potentially at risk of this particular invasion of our personal privacy. I have kept my computer and mobile camera lenses covered for all these years precisely because of this threat.
Yes, and in fact I think this is an understatement: I think absolutely everyone (with an internet connection) can be followed and is being followed, and the results are stored, simply because both are quite easy and quite cheap for the secret services.

Then again, I have no webcamera, have no microphone, and only use Firefox and Thunderbird on the internet and nothing else (and am not a member of anything, and do not want to be). I also very probably will never use more, for I hate being spied upon by anyone, and especially by the secret services.

Here is the last bit of Machon that I quote:
I have spoken about privacy and surveillance at conferences around the world and have many, many times had to debate the supposition that “if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.”

However, most people would like to keep their intimate relationships private. In this era of work travel and long distance relationships, more of us might well have intimate conversations and even video play via the internet. In an adult, consensual and mutually pleasurable context, we are doing nothing wrong and we have nothing to hide, but we surely don’t want the spooks to be watching us or listening in, any more than we would want the criminals capturing images and trying to shake us down for money.

This low-level and laughably amateur attempt at extortion is risible. Unfortunately, the threat from our governments spying on us all is not.
Yes, I agree - and as to the conformist, cowardly and utterly stupid notion that “if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide”: What counts as doing wrong may change with each and every government, and the government should NOT have any insight into mails and private information anyway, nor should the governments' spies. And this is a recommended article.

5. Why Americans Need to Defend Julian Assange’s Freedom

This article is by Nozomi Hayase on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Over 50 years ago, in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, addressing a struggle of the civil right era, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” His message is now more prevalent than ever in the current political climate surrounding WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
Yes, precisely - and my own conclusion of King's words is that "the appalling silence of the good people" has mostly if not completely been maintained in the last 50+ years. I also think it will continue, for now everybody knows or should know that everything they write will end up in some personal dossier with many secret services, with Facebook, with Google, and probably also with Apple and Microsoft, while I also have come to the conclusion - after trying to turn on the student population of the "University" of Amsterdam to rationality and science, which had success in 5% of all votes - that you need an IQ over 130 to be credibly and with motivation for rationality and science.

O, and as to
Nozomi Hayase: She has worked for Wikileaks. Here is more:
These efforts to destroy WikiLeaks brought a long dreadful persecution of Assange. He has been detained for 8 years, first in prison, then under house arrest and now as a refugee living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In 2012 he was granted political asylum against the threat of extradition to the U.S., relating to his publishing activities with WikiLeaks. The UK government, in violation of UN rulings that indicated the situation of Assange as arbitrary detention, kept him in confinement, depriving him of medical care and sunlight.
Yes, quite so. Here is more:
In late March, this already untenable situation got worse. Pressured by the U.S., Ecuador’s new President Lenin Moreno put Assange in isolation by cutting off
his access to the Internet, denying him phone calls and visitors, including Human Rights Watch. The latest news about him indicates that the Ecuadorian government
is close to finalizing an agreement with British officials to evict Assange from the embassy. How did this all happen? Here we have a Western journalist, who has not been charged with any crime, being punished for providing information that shed light on crimes and corruption of governments.
Again I completely agree, and here is more:
This attitude toward WikiLeaks flipped during the election season in 2016. WikiLeaks’ publication of damaging information from the Hillary Clinton campaign during the final weeks leading up to the election was met with Democrats’ hostile criticism. In their minds, WikiLeaks has changed.
Actually, I doubt this: I do not think that "the Democrats'" minds have changed: Hillary Clinton lost the elections thanks to her own lack of an interesting personality and her own (and her husband's) enormous corruptions. The Democrats changed their minds on Wikipedia because most of the elected Democrats are equally corrupt though not equally rich as Hillary Clinton.

Here is some on Assange:
Julian Paul Assange is a computer programmer and journalist with an independent mind and deep knowledge of the workings of hidden forces of control. Raffi Khatchadourian, a staff writer at The New Yorker, who profiled Assange in his article in 2010, described how this Australian native, who recently obtained citizenship in Ecuador came to “understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution”.
Well... I think myself it is still the struggle between the (real) left and the right and the fact that an individual's human and other rights now are as nought to most governments and all secret services, but OK.

Here is more:
Similar to the faith in the wisdom of ordinary people to govern themselves, expressed in the preamble of the Constitution with its first words “We the People”, Assange believed in the significance of ordinary people and their ability to engage in history. Thomas Jefferson recognized how, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press…”. Just as founders of this country did not trust their own government and created a safeguard for individual liberty, Assange believed in the importance of an informed public in the functioning of democracy.
Clearly - I would say - so does anyone with any more or less real leftist convictions. Then again, I admit that I have been trying to change people's opinions since more than 40 years, and I have basically given up because of universal surveillance (which will introduce neofascism, if it has not yet) and because I think you need to have an IQ of at least 130 to be able to see through the extremely many lies and propaganda you read every day. (And 1 in 50 are in that position, which - alas - seems not enough.)

Here is more:
WikiLeaks has not changed. It has not abandoned American ideals that have fueled the engine for this organization. WikiLeaks accepts information that is of public interest. It verifies and publishes authentic documents that fit the criteria
of having “diplomatic, political, ethical, or historical significance, which has not been published before, and which is being suppressed”. It does this, no matter who is in office and which nation-state rises to global dominance, and even if doing so makes it a target of massive political retaliation.
I agree with this, and here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Prosecution of Julian Assange is a persecution of American ideals. Criminalizing the act of publishing through the Espionage Act destroys the First Amendment as the guardian of democracy. This not only sets a dangerous precedent for press freedom, but it could allow the beginning of a new totalitarianism.
Well... in my opinion the First Amendment was completely destroyed in its original meaning by the utterly sick "interpretation" of the majority of the Supreme Court in 2010, in the "Citizens United" decision. And if I were to give a date for the legal arisal of "a new totalitarianism" (but not according to the sick Wikipedia) I would give 2010 or else 2001, which was when everyone's mails, values, ideas, preferences, privacy etc. etc. were made the free field of the secret services. But 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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