August 7, 2018

Crisis: Ahed Tamimi, Reich & Trump, Neofascist Facebook, Infinite Wars, Trump & Hitler


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 7, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 7, 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 August 7, 2018:
1. Meet Ahed Tamimi, 17-Year-Old West Bank Activist
2. Where Trump Sees Foreign Danger
3. In Bid for 'Dystopian' Surveillance Power, Facebook Asking Big Banks
     for Customer Data

4. The Legacy of Infinite War
5. Historian on comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler: “My resistance …
     is being overcome”
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. Meet Ahed Tamimi, 17-Year-Old West Bank Activist

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Seventeen-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has been freed from Israeli prison after eight months behind bars. Known to some as the Rosa Parks of Palestine, Tamimi became a hero to Palestinians and people around the world last year after a viral video showed her slapping a heavily armed Israeli soldier near her family’s home in the occupied West Bank. The incident came just after Tamimi learned her cousin had been gravely wounded by an Israeli soldier who shot him in the head using a rubber-coated steel bullet. Video of Tamimi confronting the soldier went viral, elevating her into a symbol of Palestinian resistance. Ahed was soon arrested in the middle of the night and charged with assault in an Israeli military court. She was sentenced to eight months in an Israeli prison and celebrated her 17th birthday behind bars. Her mother was also arrested and charged for incitement, in part for streaming video online showing the interaction between Tamimi and the Israeli soldier. Tamimi and her mother, Nariman, were released in late July. We speak with Ahed Tamimi from her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
I have not seen most of the above, but I do think Israel (or Israel´s present government) is completely on the wrong way, and one reason I think so is that they are at present - like Donald Trump - prosecuting children (though this started some nine years ago, in Israel).

Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: Ahed, welcome to Democracy Now! How does it feel to be free from jail?

AHED TAMIMI: [translated] It’s an extremely wonderful feeling. I hope all prisoners, men and women, live to experience this joy. Of course, my joy is incomplete, because my brothers and sisters remain in prison. And I hope that they are liberated and feel the happiness that I feel today.

Here is more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Can you explain, Ahed, what actually led to your arrest?

AHED TAMIMI: [translated] They accused me of hitting a soldier. I had 12 charges brought up against me, but the main one was the charge of hitting a soldier in front of the door of my house. My goal wasn’t to hit him. I didn’t intend to hit him. He had shot my cousin in the head, and my cousin was going to die because of the injury. The soldier at the front of my house was shooting at children and young men in the street. I’m not the one that went to him. He’s the one that was at the front of my door.

This is one of the crazy things the present Israeli government is doing: Prosecuting children for resisting heavily armed soldiers who shoot them, often to death.

Here is some more:

AHED TAMIMI: [translated] The prison was very, very difficult. There were 29 other female prisoners with me. The numbers would go up and down depending on the situation. The conditions for female prisoners, and male prisoners, is difficult. The rooms are very, very small. There are no air vents. There was medical neglect and prevention of education. They attempted to prevent us from getting educated.
And here is some more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Now, Ahed, following criticism, widespread criticism, Israel instituted a separate military court for minors, for children, in 2009. What, if anything, has changed since then?

AHED TAMIMI: [translated] Nothing’s changed. There are children who are in Israeli detention for over 10 years, children sentenced to 13 years, children sentenced to 14 years. The court just changed its name to a children’s court. The judge is still a Zionist judge. The court is still a Zionist court. It’s still a racist court. So nothing has really changed.

Well... I am completely against children´s courts, indeed also if the children these courts convict threw stones to Israeli soldiers etc. And this is a recommended article.

2. Where Trump Sees Foreign Danger

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

What’s the most worrisome foreign intrusion into the United States – unauthorized immigrants, Chinese imports, or interference in our democracy?

For Trump, it’s immigrants and imports. He doesn’t care much about the third.

“Border security is national security,” Trump said last week, as he threatened a government shutdown if Congress didn’t come up with money to build a wall along the Mexican border (at an estimated cost at least $25 billion).

Meanwhile, Trump has ordered his administration to consider raising tariff rates on $200 billion of Chinese goods, prompting China to threaten higher tariffs on $60 billion more of American goods.

I agree, and here is more:

Trump has it backwards.

Illegal immigration isn’t the problem he makes it out to be. Illegal border crossings have been declining for years.  

And if the Chinese want to continue to send us cheap imports that we pay for with U.S. dollars and our own IOUs, that’s as much of a potential problem for them as it is for us.

But Russian attacks on our democracy are a clear and present threat aimed at the heart of America.

Facebook recently announced it uncovered a major disinformation campaign with the hallmarks of the same Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency responsible for election interference in 2016.

Well... I disagree with the last two quoted paragraphs:

¨The Russians¨ undoubtedly did some things they should not have done, but so did the Americans to Russia, and besides what ¨the Russians¨ really did is - still - mostly hidden in fact, which means that most of what one can read about it must be propaganda.

Second, I distrust (and despise) Facebook and Zuckerberg, and I will not believe anything they say without independent evidence.

Here is more propaganda (I am sorry):

FBI Director Christopher Wray warns that “Russia … continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.” Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, says “Russians are looking for every opportunity … to continue their pervasive efforts to undermine our fundamental values.”

Here is Reich´s ending of his article:

[T]he essence of America – the attribute we must hold most secure because it defines who we are and what we strive for – is a system of government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Lincoln put it.  

If Putin or a Kremlin-connected Ukrainian strongman or even a giant Chinese company undermines this, they rob us of our most precious legacy.

Trump cares more about unauthorized immigrants and Chinese imports than about the sanctity of our democracy. This is a tragic mistake.

Well... I think it has been shown sufficiently well (and several times, by several researchers) that the USA does no longer have ¨a system of government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Lincoln put it.¨

What it has is a system of government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich, and that is no longer a real democracy in any sense, even if it is also - not, yet - a system of explicit fascism or neofascism.

3. In Bid for 'Dystopian' Surveillance Power, Facebook Asking Big Banks for Customer Data

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Apparently not satisfied with access to its users' call history, text messaging data, and online conversations, Facebook has reportedly asked major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to hand over their customers' sensitive financial data as part of the social media giant's ongoing attempt to become "a platform where people buy and sell goods and services."

And according to the Wall Street Journal—which first reported on Facebook's plans on Monday—the social media behemoth isn't the only tech company that wants access to Americans' financial data. Google and Amazon have also "asked banks to share data if they join with them, in order to provide basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa," the Journal pointed out, citing anonymous sources familiar with the companies' ambitions.
Neofascist Facebook is based on the sickest system of personal spying that I have ever heard of, and you should multiply that by over 2 billion of its members.

And I am not amazed that neofascist Facebook is joined by
neofascist Google and neofascist Amazon.

Here is more on the neofascists from Facebook:

Over the past year, Facebook has reached out to some of America's largest banks to request "detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users," the Journal notes. "Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger."

In response to the Journal's reporting, critics of corporate power used the word "dystopian" to describe the push by Facebook, Google, and Amazon for ever-greater access to users' personal information in a bid to boost profits.

Well... I don´t think Facebook is "dystopian" (with or without quotation marks): I think it is explicitly and consciously neofascist (and if you disagree you should read my definition).

Here is more by the Honest Facebook headed by the Honest Zuckerberg:

While Facebook insisted in response to the Journal's story that it doesn't want to use any of this data for advertising purposes or share it with third parties, many pointed out that there is no reason to trust Facebook's expressed commitment to user privacy, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other abuses.

If you believe Facebook or Zuckerberg, you´ll be abused by them. And here is the last bit from this article:

Highlighting the fact that "Facebook has been a cesspool of privacy issues for quite a while," technology writer Curtis Silver argued in a piece for Forbes on Monday that it's time to "quit Facebook before it inevitably accesses your banking data."

"There has been no evidence up to this point that Facebook is anything other than what it is. What is it? A data content farm for paying customers," Silver writes. "How much more of your personal existence are you willing to give up to continue to be a sieve of your data for a multi-billion dollar corporation?"

Precisely, and this is a strongly recommended article.

4. The Legacy of Infinite War

This article is by Nick Turse on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:

Raids by U.S. commandos in Afghanistan. (I could be talking about 2001 or 2018.)

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen. (I could be talking about 2002 or 2018.)

Missions by Green Berets in Iraq. (I could be talking about 2003 or 2018.)

While so much about the War on Terror turned Global War on Terrorism turned World War IV turned the Long War turned “generational struggle” turned “infinite war” seems repetitious, the troops most associated with this conflict -- the U.S. Special Operations forces -- have seen changes galore.
Yes indeed, and the main impact is that what started in 2001 as the War on Terror seems to have grown 17 years later, all of which were years of war, into something that may be called infinite war, although I disagree with the term ¨World War IV¨. Then again, especially with an insane president like Trump, it may soon turn to World War III - which probably will destroy mankind, if it is nuclear.

Here is more - and Afghanistan now has been in more or less continuous war since 1979:
Today, they contest for or control about 44% of Afghanistan. That country also hosts many more terror groups -- 20 in all -- than it did 12 years ago. “Vicious Iraqi dictator” Saddam Hussein is, of course, still dead and gone, but in 2014, about a third of “the new, democratic Iraq” was overrun by Islamic State militants. The country was only re-liberated in late 2017 and the Islamic State is already making a comeback there this year. Meanwhile, Iraq is beset by anti-government protests and totters along as one of the most fragile states on the planet, while the Iraqi and Afghan war zones bled together -- with U.S. special operators now fighting an Islamic State terrorist franchise in Afghanistan, too.
Here is more and SOCOM refers to United States Special Operations Command:

In spite, or perhaps because, of these circumstances, SOCOM continues to thrive. Its budget, its personnel numbers, and just about any other measure you might choose (from missions to global reach) continue to rise. In 2006, for instance, 85% of Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed overseas -- Army Green Berets and Rangers, Navy SEALs, and others -- were concentrated in the Greater Middle East, with far smaller numbers spread thinly across the Pacific (7%), Europe (3%), and Latin America (3%). Only 1% of them were then conducting missions in Africa.

Today, the lion’s share -- 56% -- of those commandos still operate in the Greater Middle East, according to figures provided to TomDispatch by SOCOM, but all other foreign deployments have grown at that region’s expense. Africa Command has leapt from last to second place and now hosts 16.5% of America’s overseas commandos, European Command 13.9% of them, the newly renamed Indo-Pacific Command 8.6%, and Southern Command 4.5%.

And here you should also know that the USA has some military presence in at least 135 countries in the world.

Here is more on SOCOM:

As deployments have shifted geographically, the number of special operators overseas has risen dramatically. In any given week in 2001, an average of 2,900 commandos were deployed abroad. By 2014, that number had hit 7,200. Today, according to SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw, it’s 8,300.

A generation of commandos have spent their careers fighting on the proliferating fronts of Washington’s forever wars, hopping from one conflict zone to another or sometimes returning to the same campaign again and again. Some have spent much of their adult lives at war and a number have lost their lives after multiple warzone tours, still without a victory in sight. “At this stage in the ongoing counter-violent extremist type of fight, it is not a rare exception for airmen to be on their 12th, 13th, or 14th deployment,” Lieutenant General Marshall Webb, the chief of Air Force Special Operations Command, told the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities earlier this year.
Yes indeed, and I add that one reason for this fighting for 17 years that some U.S. military men engaged in is that the draft was ended by Nixon in 1972.

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended.

5. Historian on comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler: “My resistance … is being overcome”

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on Salon. It starts as follows:

President Donald Trump is a symptom of a much larger problem. New research suggests that Trump's supporters are so motivated by racism and bigotry that they may be willing to overturn American democracy so that white right-wing Christians like themselves can maintain continued power over our society.

Ultimately, history teaches many lessons. The question then becomes whether we are willing to learn them. How is Donald Trump similar to, or different from, authoritarians and fascists such as Adolf Hitler? In what ways are "regular people" and Trump's "average" supporters implicated and responsible for his assault on democracy and campaign of cruelty? To what extend does the cruelty of Trump and his enablers toward immigrant children and other groups channel the evils of the Nazi regime? Do individuals working together have a chance to slow down Donald Trump and the Republican Party's assault on American democracy?

I more or less agree, although I also should warn you that in 22 years of reading on the internet I have failed to find a single definition of ¨fascism¨ outside of the Wikipedia, which lists 21 different definitions of fascism, and I completely failed to find any definition of neofascism.

In fact, I reviewed the 21 definitions of fascism (about which I think it is fair I know a lot, in part because both of my parents were in the resistance in WW II, and both my father and his father were arrested, convicted as ¨political terrorists¨ in 1941, and sent to German concentration camps, which my grandfather did not survive) here: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions

This is strongly recommended, though by now, having reviewed very many articles that mention ¨fascism¨ but that never did define it, not even unreasonably, I think that to demand at least a tolerably clear definition of ¨fascism¨ is simply asking too much from most ordinary journalists.

Back to the article:

Looking at Trump and his supporters' authoritarian views and apparent disdain for normal politics and democracy, it does not seem that this situation will end well. 

I do think there's certainly a very strong possibility that it's not going to end well -- and that's from the perspective of a German historian. And as a historian, my natural tendency is to always try to stop people from invoking Hitler. In most cases it was not appropriate to make such a comparison. But now, with Trump, my resistance and that of other historians to making that comparison is being overcome.

But there is an important qualifier: History doesn't have to repeat. It doesn't have to look exactly like what happened before. It won't. But if we wait for Trump and this moment to fully become like Hitler and the Nazis, and that is the point at which you start to act, then it is already too late.
Well... I more or less agree, but what do Frankel and DeVega think fascism is? Neither tells. And here is more by historian Frankel:
Where I see things going right now with Donald Trump is that if he is not stopped the result will be some form of authoritarian, racially exclusionary democracy. My focus is much less on a particular system, whether he's a fascist or not. It's much more the question of exclusion. Trump and his allies are trying to create a kind of white, Christian, male-dominated national community for their followers. He's drawing the boundaries around that community and excluding all those groups that don't fit in, whether it's the handicapped, immigrants, Muslims, Jews or other groups. Those Americans and others who are not part of Trump's imagined community will be second-class citizens and will have their rights restricted.
Again yes and no: I more or less agree with Frankel, but why does he not define what he means by fascism, while insisting he does not want to talk about it, in spite of the fact that he is a historian who specialized on Hitler´s Germany? I think that is fairly odd.

Here is some more:

Of course Hitler was not elected chancellor before he came to take full control and power. The most he had was 37 percent of the vote in a multiparty system, which means about two-thirds of the country didn't want a Nazi dictatorship. At the same time, if you take all of the people who voted for the Nazis, the Communists and the German nationalists, a significant majority of Germans voted for some kind of dictatorship.

They were certainly not voting for democracy anymore. That was finished. And so the notion that the end of democracy under Hitler came as some kind of surprise to Germany is partly false because most of them didn't want democracy anymore. They were looking for something else.
I am sorry: This just is too vague, for a historian who specialized on the period, and especially that ¨a significant majority of Germans voted for some kind of dictatorship¨.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this interview:

As a historian of Germany, what were your thoughts when you first heard about Trump's concentration camps for immigrants, refugees and migrants? Especially the children who are put in very Nazi-sounding "tender care" baby prisons? 

Trump and other Republicans and Trump-supporting conservatives en masse only care about people who are in their group. Therefore, if you make fun of Ivanka Trump you are going to be demonized. But for them, if you make a horrible remark about a disabled child who has been removed from the arms of her mother: "So what?" That person’s mother should never have crossed the border. They are not thinking about that person as a human being.

I more or less agree, but it´s vague again, at least for a historian who specialized on Hitler´s Germany.


[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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