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Nederlog

August 9, 2018

Crisis: Totalitarian Google, Justice in U.S., Trump & Wars, Childrens´ Detention, Monopoly



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 9, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 9, 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 9, 2018:
1. Inside Google’s Effort to Develop a Censored Search Engine in China
2. Immigration Judges Say Justice Dept. Undermines Independence
3. Giving Trump Carte Blanche for War
4. 99-Year-Old Nuremberg Prosecutor Calls Trump's Detention of Children
     a 'Crime Against Humanity'

5. Monopoly or Democracy?
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. Inside Google’s Effort to Develop a Censored Search Engine in China

This article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Google analyzed search terms entered into a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for a censored search engine it has been planning to launch in China, according to confidential documents seen by The Intercept.

Engineers working on the censorship sampled search queries from 265.com, a Chinese-language web directory service owned by Google.

Unlike Google.com and other Google services, such as YouTube, 265.com is not blocked in China by the country’s so-called Great Firewall, which restricts access to websites deemed undesirable by the ruling Communist Party regime.
    (...)
It appears that Google has used 265.com as a de facto honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users’ searches before sending them along to Baidu. Google’s use of 265.com offers an insight into the mechanics behind its planned Chinese censored search platform, code-named Dragonfly, which the company has been preparing since spring 2017.

I have written about this before - see here. Also, while the present concern is about assisting totalitarian countries to remain totalitarian (by helping to arrest anyone who deviates more than a tiny little bit from what the government desires them to think, feel and value), I think this is the probable future of everyone.

Also, to offer a parallel: I think Google´s actions are quite comparable to its assisting Hitler and Stalin to maintain their totalitarianism - except that Google is extremely much more powerful than Hitler´s Gestapo was, and than Stalin´s KGB was, in terms of what it knows about people.

Here is more on how Google proceeded in China:

After gathering sample queries from 265.com, Google engineers used them to review lists of websites that people would see in response to their searches. The Dragonfly developers used a tool they called “BeaconTower” to check whether the websites were blocked by the Great Firewall. They compiled a list of thousands of websites that were banned, and then integrated this information into a censored version of Google’s search engine so that it would automatically manipulate Google results, purging links to websites prohibited in China from the first page shown to users.

As I said, this is much like helping the Gestapo or the KGB, except that Google is thousands, tenthousands or a million times as powerful as were the KGB or the Gestapo.

Here is more:

According to documents and people familiar with the Dragonfly project, teams of Google programmers and engineers have already created a functioning version of the censored search engine. Google’s plan is for its China search platform to be made accessible through a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named “Maotai” and “Longfei,” as The Intercept first reported last week.

The app has been designed to filter out content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political opponents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. The censored search app will “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases, according to internal Google documents.

As I said, this is the future for the USA and Europe as well, with the USA probably the first to follow, possibly already in 2020, if Trump wins the elections and wants to stifle all criticisms of the press and on the internet.

Here is how Google´s top proceeds:

A week on from the disclosure, Google’s leadership has still not commented internally about the plans, sources said. Google did not respond to a request for comment on this story. The company’s press office has so far refused to answer questions from dozens of reporters about Dragonfly, saying that it “will not comment on speculation about future plans.”

One insider told The Intercept that memes have circulated among company employees portraying images of China’s censorship. One meme showed a Chinese internet user searching for information about the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, only to receive a result saying that the atrocity was a myth.

Quite so, and this is a strongly recommended article.


2. Immigration Judges Say Justice Dept. Undermines Independence

This article is by Claudia Lauer on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Immigration judges on Wednesday accused the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of undermining a Philadelphia judge’s independence by having cases removed from his court, apparently because the federal officials deemed him too slow to make decisions on deportation orders.

A grievance filed by their union asks for the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to acknowledge in writing that it will not interfere with the “decisional authority” of judges in the assignment or reassignment of cases.

“The decisional independence of immigration judges is under siege,” said Los Angeles Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor in her role as president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “If allowed to stand, the agency can simply forum-shop its cases for the outcome it wishes to achieve.”

Precisely so - and in case you did not know this concerns the independence of the judicial side of the state (the judges, the police etc. etc.) from the executive side (the government), which is one of the few bases of freedom:

If the executionary part is to decide who is going to judge whom and when, you may as well leave the judges out - and the government then is totalitarian.

This is from the ending of the article:

The judges’ union said the Justice Department’s action not only undermined Morley’s authority but “also threatens the ability of all immigration judges nationwide to fairly apply the immigration laws of the United States consistent with due process rights of parties.”

Quite so, and this is a recommended article.

3. Giving Trump Carte Blanche for War

This article is by John Kiriakou on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Have you ever heard of Senate Joint Resolution 59 (S.J.Res. 59)? Neither had I. A friend of mine saw a blurb about it on an obscure national security blog and brought it to my attention. At first glance it didn’t seem to be any big deal. It’s inelegantly named the “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2018.” It was introduced on April 16, 2018 by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
   (...)
It’s hard to oppose a bill that would “keep Americans safe,” as Corker said in the SFRC hearing. But this bill is so bad, such an affront to our freedom, such an attack on our civil liberties, that we should be compelled to oppose it.

S.J.Res. 59 is bad for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, it would provide blanket permission for the president to launch a military attack of literally any size and intensity whenever he wants without specific congressional approval. That seems obviously unconstitutional to me, although I’m not a constitutional scholar. Still, the constitution says in Article I, Section 8 that only Congress shall have the authority to declare war, among other things military. It does not allow the president the ability to launch a war.
Precisely, and I agree fully with Kiriakou - and yes, this is fully anti-constitutional. (Also - parenthetically - what a sick neofascistic horror is Tim Kaine!)

Here is more on the totalitarian horrors Tim Kaine introduced (with a Republican):
Second, according to Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, it also would write the president a “blank check to lock up Americans who dissent against U.S. military policy.” That’s right. If you oppose U.S. military policy, the president would have the right to lock you up indefinitely without charge.
     (...)
This is different. This would mean everybody would be at risk. It would mean you could be held in a gulag, incommunicado, if the White House doesn’t like your politics.

The reason this could come to pass is that, third, the bill is (probably unconstitutionally) broad. It says that the president may, “use all necessary and appropriate force” against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and their “associated forces” anywhere in the world and without limitation. But it doesn’t define what “associated forces” means, nor does it define a “co-belligerent,” someone acting in support of one of these countries or groups. It allows the White House to do that for us.
Precisely: This proposed law is completely totalitarian (but not according to the sick Wikipedia, that uses an intentionally falsified definition): If the president can decide to lock up anyone who is against any of the wars the president can personally start, indeed for an indefinite time and without any trial, that is totalitarianism.

Here is part of Kiriakou´s ending:
This terrible bill is stuck in the muck of the congressional process right now. As the months tick by, there’s a greater and greater likelihood that it will simply die. But that doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that Congress is generally made up of lemmings and cheerleaders for the military/industrial/intelligence complex. They do as they’re told, whether it’s by their leadership or whomever happens to be sitting in the White House. That’s bad for the country. It’s bad for the constitution. And it’s bad for future generations.
Yes, I fully agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

4. 99-Year-Old Nuremberg Prosecutor Calls Trump's Detention of Children a 'Crime Against Humanity'

This article is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

The last surviving prosecutor at the Nazi Nuremberg trials just offered harsh criticism for the Trump administration's family separation crisis resulting from its cruel immigration policies, calling it "a crime against humanity."

Ninety-nine year old Ben Ferencz made the comments in a recent lengthy interview with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, which was posted online Tuesday.

I completely agree with Ben Ferencz, and indeed have said from the beginning that the government of the USA has been kidnapping children. I still think so.

Here is Ferencz, first speaking and then in a tweet:

"It was outrageous. I was furious that anybody would think that it's permissible to take young children—5, 4, 3 years of age—and take them away from their parents and say the parents go to another country and the children go to another country, and we'll get you together, maybe, at some later date."

Forcing desperate young parents to surrender custody of their weeping children because they were unable to comply with restrictive immigration rules is a disgrace to our great country. Such cruelty should be condemned as a crime against humanity.

Precisely. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Ferencz also denounced the ongoing "glorification of war-making." He said, "The capacity to kill human beings has grown faster than our capacity to meet their vital and justified needs," noting, "Nobody wins in war; the only winner is death."

He's still expresses optimism, however, about the state of the world. But he said that hope lies not with diplomats or national leaders. Rather, "the students are with us, and I think the future lies with them." Some young people, he said, "are thoughtful enough to realize they're in great danger."

I agree with Ferencz on war, but I am afraid I am less optimistic than he is, even though I grant Ferencz may be right about ¨the students¨:

Even if he is right, all communicate by computers, and what they read and write gets fully stored by the secret services of many countries, which means that nearly all of
¨the students¨ may be picked up by their governments in times of trouble for their governments. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Monopoly or Democracy?

This article is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams and originally on Creators. It starts as folows:

America's political history has been written in the fierce narrative of war — not only our country's many military clashes with foreign nations, but also our own unending war for democracy in the U.S.

Generation after generation of moneyed elites have persisted in trying to take wealth and power from the workaday majority and concentrate both of those things in their wealthy hands to establish a de facto American aristocracy. Every time, the people have rebelled in organized mass struggles against the monopolist and financial royalists — literally battling for a little more economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity. And now, the time of rebellion is upon us again, for We the People are suddenly in the grip of a brutish level of monopolistic power.

Corporate concentration of markets, profits, workplace decision-making, political influence and our nation's total wealth is surpassing that of the infamous era of robber barons. Apple, which just became the first U.S. corporation to reach a stock value of a trillion dollars, is now larger than Bank of America, Boeing, Disney, Ford, Volkswagon and 20 other brand-name giants combined. Just five tech superpowers — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix — have raked in half of this year's stock price gains by the 500 top corporations ranked by the S&P index. A recent gold rush of corporate mergers has created mega-firms and shriveled competition in most industries, including airlines, banks, drug companies, food, hospitals, hotels, law firms, media, oil and more.

I fully agree with the last paragraph, but less with the two previous ones, because I do think that war outside the U.S. (committed by the U.S.), such as in Vietnam or Iraq, is considerably more violent than war inside the U.S.

Then again, the important part is the third paragraph, and that is quite correct, and rhymes 100% with my definition of neofascism.

Here is more:

The results of fewer and bigger corporations is that those few attain overwhelming power over the rest of us. They are able to control workers' pay, crush unions, jack up prices, squeeze our smaller businesses, dominate elections, weaken environmental projections... and become even fewer, bigger and more powerful. Thus, they are waging all out corporate class war on American people, and on our democratic ideals, and they're winning.

Yes, I completely agree - and indeed for my own part, I´d say they have won, and they have won thanks to the personal computer, that can and does spy on everyone and everything, and that downloads everything to the secret services, who know millions of times more about their own and other populations than did the Gestapo or the KGB.

Here is some more:

Yet, in the stunningly short period of the last couple of decades, corporate political money and the public officials it bought have enshrined monopoly power as a legitimate form of business in our land, aggressively protected from public "meddling" by lawmakers, regulators and judges. For example, after our grassroots economy was crushed in 2007 by the greed of too-big-to-fail Wall Street banksters, officials bailed out the villainous banks at the taxpayer expense and deliberately made them bigger, more powerful and more dangerous than ever. Today, just five banks control nearly half of all financial assets in the U.S.

Yes indeed, and I add that this became possible in 2007-2009 because most Democrats sold out to the rich.

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

Three decades ago, 50 large media conglomerates controlled 90 percent of the media. This year, after yet another merger of giants is completed, just 5 mega-media monopolists will control 90 percent of what we see, hear and read. It is not in their interest to inform the public about the threat that monopolies pose to our democracy.

Precisely - and this is a strongly recommended article.

Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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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