October 27, 2018

Crisis: Bashing Migrants, Divided USA, Voting Machines, Trump Is Un-American, Censored Internet


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from October 27, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, October 27, 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 October 27, 2018:
1. From Caravans to Cages: Why Trump Bashes Migrants
2. Most Americans See Sharply Divided Nation, Poll Finds
3. Texas Voters Complaining That Machines Keep Changing Their Senate

4. 'Un-American': 200 Veteran Journalists Accuse Trump of Violating the

5. Civilized Societies Don’t Call It Censorship, but Copyright
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. From Caravans to Cages: Why Trump Bashes Migrants

This article is by Mehdi Hassan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
If the media’s to be believed, the United States is about to be overrun by a horde of terrorists and criminals from Central America. And it’s not just Fox News or Breitbart that are partaking in this narrative; ABC News calls it the “caravan crisis” and the Associated Press ran a piece headlined, “A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US.” Contrary to Donald Trump’s claims and mainstream reporting, the migrants on this “caravan” are innocent men, women, and children; unarmed people; the most vulnerable of the vulnerable; people fleeing violence, persecution, and extreme poverty. To follow Trump’s lead and present these people as an “assault” on America, is irresponsible, dishonest, alarmist, and racist — and it’s a distraction from what has really been an immigration crisis at the border: the so-called “separation” of migrant children from their parents by the Trump administration.
Yes, quite so, except for ¨the so-called “separation” of migrant children from their parents by the Trump administration¨: I am sorry, but this was (and is) kidnapping, as also shown by the Wikipedia´s definition:


In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against their 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.
I also wrote so immediately after I had first heard about it; I am legally correct - but I have still to see the first journalist who agrees with me.

Also, while this is a good article on the kidnapping, the racism and the lying Trump and his government indulge in, it is far too long to excerpt somewhat decently, so what you will get in this review are some selections from its beginning.

Here is the first:

Mehdi Hasan: I’m Mehdi Hasan. Welcome to Deconstructed. Another week, another so-called immigration crisis. The midterms are around the corner and the racists and nativists are out in force. I’ll speak to the legendary Mexican-American journalist and Trump’s bęte noire, Jorge Ramos.

Jorge Ramos: I’ve been in this country for 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. We are normalizing racism. We are normalizing cruelty.

Ramos is right, I think. Here is more:

MH: If the media’s to be believed, the United States is about to be overrun by hordes of terrorists and criminals from Central America. And we’re not just talking about Fox News or Breitbart. We’re talking mainstream media organizations. ABC News calls it the ‘caravan crisis’.  The Associated Press, yeah AP, ran a piece headlined: “A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US”.

I mean, seriously? An army marching towards the US? What, to invade and occupy this poor, weak, defenseless, borderless country? Come on! This is a quote ‘caravan’ of innocent men, women and children, unarmed people, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable: refugees, asylum-seekers, people fleeing violence and persecution, and yes, extreme poverty too.

They come from countries, by the way, like Honduras, which the US helped destabilize in the first place by backing violent coups and turning a blind eye to state-sponsored violence and persecution. To follow Donald Trump’s lead and present these people as an “assault” on America, is irresponsible, dishonest, alarmist and racist. Even if all 7,000 people make it across the border, into the US and claim asylum, which is highly unlikely, that would only represent around 1% of all US asylum claims. 1%.

Yes, quite so. Besides, the USA had slightly over 325 million inhabitants in 2017, and 325 million divided by 7000 equals 0.000021538 i.e. 1 refugee per 46428 inhabitants.

Here is more:

And yet two weeks away from the midterms, Trump and his racist cronies have succeeded in getting the “liberal media” to focus on this mythical threat from central America rather than, I don’t know, their ongoing attacks on healthcare and Medicaid, their regressive tax cuts, Trump’s own history of tax fraud, the murder cover-up in Saudi Arabia, the Russia investigation and of course the guy accused of sexual assault that they forced through onto the Supreme Court.

But this is why Trump won. Seriously. This is why Trump won. At every turn, at every juncture, in his journey to the Oval Office, and since he arrived in that office, a mainstream media that supposedly hates him, and that he supposedly hates, wittingly or unwittingly has helped him, boosted his message, echoed his lies, reinforced his racism, danced to his white nationalist tune.

Well... yes and no. I more or less agree with the first quoted paragraph, but the second paragraph seems mostly mistaken to me:

Trump did not win the elections because the ¨mainstream media¨ ¨wittingly or unwittingly has helped him¨, although this plays a role as well, but because most of the readers of the mainstream media (aka corporatist media) and also of Facebook simply are not intelligent enough or do not know enough to read these media critically.

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

Then there are the unaccompanied kids, who came to the US alone – there are more than 12,000 of them now being held in detention – 12,000! – that’s more than five times the number that were in custody 18 months ago and a record high. It’s barbaric. It’s a moral disgrace. It’s a crime. And it should be — in a normal world, it would be — a political catastrophe for the president that caused it.

Yes, and as I said in the beginning of this review, this article is too long to properly excerpt, and all I have quoted is from its beginning. Then again, the article is strongly recommended. 
2. Most Americans See Sharply Divided Nation, Poll Finds

This article is by Juana Summers on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
With just two weeks to go until the critical midterm elections, an overwhelming majority of Americans say the United States is greatly divided, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. Few Americans believe those stark divisions will get better anytime soon.

The newly released survey found that more than 8 in 10 Americans think the country is greatly divided about important values. Just 20 percent of Americans say they think the country will become less divided over the next few years, and 39 percent think things will get worse. A strong majority of Americans, 77 percent, say they are dissatisfied with the state of politics in the country.

The poll was conducted Oct. 11-14 in the final sprint to the midterm elections, in which President Donald Trump has been rallying his supporters to turn out to vote in November. Overall, 59 percent of Americans disapprove of how Trump, a Republican, is handling his job as president, while 40 percent of Americans approve.

I did not know this, and while I do not strongly believe in either polls or statistics, mostly because these tend to simplify matters unduly (as George Orwell also thought), the quoted statistics are fairly clear.

Here is more:

How Americans view Trump divides along partisan lines, according to the poll. While 83 percent of Republicans approve of how Trump is handling his job, 92 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents say they do not approve.

According to the poll, nearly half of Americans say they aren’t hearing enough from campaigns about the issues that matter most to them. Fifty-four percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans say they are hearing too little about key issues.

Overall, top issues for Americans include health care, education, economic growth, Social Security and crime, each of which was called very important by at least three-quarters of Americans.

I did not know this either, and I want to make a comment on ¨nearly half of Americans say they aren’t hearing enough from campaigns about the issues that matter most to them¨: Quite possibly so, but why are you so blind if you have internet (which so far is more or less working, but may stop working except for the rich, at least in Europe, starting in 2019: see item 5)?!

It may take a little trouble, but so far I have been somewhat decently informed the last 9 years of having fast internet, and I did so mostly by selecting 35 sites from several hundreds that were available to me, and I completely fail to see why intelligent and informed Americans could not do the same.

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

Majorities of Americans also say that they are dissatisfied with the gap between the rich and the poor, race relations and environmental conditions. But there are partisan splits. Eighty-three percent of Democrats are dissatisfied with the gap between the wealthy and the poor, compared with 43 percent of Republicans. Of environmental conditions, 75 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of Republicans say they are dissatisfied. And while 77 percent of Democrats say they’re dissatisfied with race relations, about 50 percent of Republicans say the same.

Well, OK... the split in American opinions does seem to follow mostly the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. Then again, that split seems to me to be mostly forced by the fact that there are just two parties in the USA from which a president may be elected. Anyway... this is a recommended article.
3. Texas Voters Complaining That Machines Keep Changing Their Senate Vote

This article is by Matthew Chapman on AlterNet. This starts as follows:

On Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported that several voters in Texas were having technical difficulties with ballots on their electronic voting machines.

Specificially, when some voters tried to use the "straight-ticket" party option, which allows them to automatically fill in every partisan office with the Democratic or Republican candidate, they reported that not all of their votes were tallied correctly. In particular, some Democrats complained that when they looked over their ballot, they noticed that the spot for U.S. Senate was either blank, or had selected Sen. Ted Cruz instead of El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke (..)

I say. And - if you were willing to argue with me - I agree that ¨several voters¨ is not much, but then again (i) I have several times since 2016 reviewed articles that insisted, for various reasons, that voting is made much more difficult in the USA, and articles that (ii) assert that many voting machines that are used in the USA are easily hackable.

For more on this see Greg Palast. Here I continue with this article:

The offending machines, which have generated complaints in Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery, and Tarrant Counties, are nearly a decade old, having first been certified in 2009, and are in use in 82 of Texas' 254 counties. State and county officials assert that the switched or blank votes are a known software glitch caused by human error, and say that upgrading the machines — which would cost $50 million in Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth alone — is not feasible.

Voters who spot the error can correct it — the machines will display a list of all final selections before the voter casts the ballot. But voters should be careful to double-check, as it would be easy to miss the swapped vote before hitting the button.

I say. I am inclined to strongly doubt a real interest in a real democracy on the part of ¨[s]tate and county officials¨ who agree this is due to ¨a known software glitch¨ but who claim this cannot be repaired, but that may be just me.

Then again, this also is a much wider problem:

Texas is not alone in this problem. On Tuesday, the NAACP filed a complaint in Georgia alleging that voters trying to cast a ballot for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams were instead getting recorded for Republican Brian Kemp, who also happens to be the Georgia secretary of state overseeing the election.

Electronic voting machines are coming under increased scrutiny as the aging technology exhibits not just software glitches but vulnerabilities to hackers.

Quite so. Anyway... this is a recommended article, that may become more prominent if Trump wins the 2018 elections as well.

4. 'Un-American': 200 Veteran Journalists Accuse Trump of Violating the Constitution

This article is by Julia Conley on AlterNet and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

More than 200 veteran journalists have signed a letter demanding that President Donald Trump end his repeated attacks on the news media in light of the attempted bombing at CNN's New York offices, calling his open support for violence against reporters and media outlets "unconstitutional, un-American, and utterly unlawful."

"Trump's condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press—which includes labeling any reportage he doesn't like as 'fake news' and barring reporters and news organizations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events," wrote the journalists, many of whom are retired after working for media outlets including ABC NewsCNN, and CBC.

I say, because I did not know this and because I think this is rather important, in part also because the more than 200 veteran journalists also support the PEN´s lawsuit against Donald Trump, that I reviewed here.

Here is the letter that more than 200 veteran journalists signed (in italics, although my eyes don´t like that, because it is put in italics in the original):

On the heels of the recent brutal murder of a The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump chose to celebrate the assault of The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by an American congressman—an attack that occurred while the journalist was simply doing his job, posing questions to a politician.

Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte (R) bodyslammed Jacobs, knocking him to the ground and beating him severely enough to send him to the hospital. Although Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault and was fined, the President of the United States praised this violent behavior at a Trump rally in Missoula, Montana, on October 18.

Trump’s condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press—which includes labeling any reportage he doesn’t like as “fake news” and barring reporters and news organizations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events.

One of the pillars of a free and open democracy is a vibrant free press.

At his inauguration the President of the United States swears to protect the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment.

This President is utterly failing to do so and actively working not simply to undermine the press, but to incite violence against it as well.

In a lawsuit filed by PEN, the writer’s organization, against Donald Trump, they charge him with violating the First Amendment. We, the undersigned, past and present members of the Fourth Estate, support this action.

We denounce Donald Trump's behavior as unconstitutional, un-American and utterly unlawful and unseemly for the President of the United States and leader of the free world.

I completely agree with the above quotation, and refer you once again to PEN´s lawsuit. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Civilized Societies Don’t Call It Censorship, but Copyright

This article is by Xnet on Naked Capitalism and originally on openDemocracy. It has a brief introduction by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, with which I start this review:
The US press has only given at best cursory coverage of the proposed European Copyright Directive, which would make it impossible for any posts with links in them, particularly ones like Links and Water Cooler, to be served to readers in Europe without the publisher being obligated to pay the content owner. In practice, a judgment against a business that did not have any business presence of assets in the EU would not be enforceable, but a likely outcome of this Copyright Directive becoming effective would be that sites like ours would be barred on European ISPs.

This article provides a fine layperson-friendly explanation of how the European Copyright Directive would work and why it is such a threat to freedom of expression.

Yes, I think that is correct, and it also tells me a bit more than I thought I knew, namely that ¨a judgment against a business that did not have any business presence of assets in the EU would not be enforceable¨.

I have no ¨business assets¨ whatever, but it seems, nevertheless, as if my Nederlog as I have been writing it for ten years may be forbidden next year, because I cannot and will not pay those whom I quote.

Here is more by Xnet:

With the approval in the European Parliament of the final text of the Copyright Directive, which will be definitely put to the vote in a very few months’, the European Union has lost a historic opportunity to produce copyright legislation adapted for the Internet in the twenty-first century. What the European Parliament will finally vote on is a technophobic text, tailor-made for the interests of the copyright monopolies which, moreover, doesn’t guarantee the right of authors to have a reasonable standard of living as a result of their work.

If the law is eventually passed, it will be used for wholesale curtailment of freedoms and more censorship, in keeping with the bizarre idea that anything that doesn’t produce hard cash for the major playerswhich doesn’t mean authors! – has to be prohibited and eliminated.

I have three comments on the above bit:

First, I´d say myself that this new European law is not ¨a technophobic text¨ precisely because
it is ¨
tailor-made for the interests of the copyright monopolies¨, but this may be a matter of style.

Second, I like to quote what I remember of something the late Dutch author Hugo Brandt Corstius wrote in the 1960ies, which he then put as a question (and I don´t know whether this is quite exact):

Do you know what would cost you a million dollars yesterday, 25 cents today and nothing tomorrow? The daily paper.

This was quite true in the 1960ies, and remained true until the 2000s. It is also what I base my Nederlog on, for the simple reasons that (i) I know that very few articles that are published on any day will be read later, while (ii) I also think that the changes the internet introduced will be very important later on (unless we will have a tyrannical neofascism, where the truth will be what The Leader says, and anybody who doubts that is fit to be killed).

Third, I want to remind you of a prediction that the late Gore Vidal made in 2008:
He estimated it would take 10 years until the internet would be in the hands of the rich, and its freedom would be only a thing of the past.

It seems he was off by one year.

Here is more on what ¨the Europeans¨ - correctly: the European government, but not the European people - want to introduce in 2019:

This threat to such basic rights as freedom of expression and access to culture and information lurks in ruses which are mainly hidden in two articles of the Directive:

Article 11: no link without a license. Article 11, otherwise known as the “Linktax” article, has created a new economic “right” for magnates of the written press. This ‘right’, moreover, implies indefinitely restricting the possibility of citing the press online.

If this seems absurd, arbitrary and counterproductive, we invite you to read the proposal itself. This is an ambiguous text, described by the jurist Andrej Savin as “One of the worst texts I have ever seen in my 23-year-long career as a law scholar.” Given its muzzy formulation, the safest response for any platform will be not to link to any media publication without explicit permission.

Speaking for my own sites: I will never do so, because I think it is utterly insane, totally anti-democratic, very authoritarian, and besides, I also lack both the time and the money.

Then there is this in the article:

Where are they trying to go with this? What sense is there in this move by the press barons to push laws which prevent you from linking up to their content, disseminating it, and commenting on them? Is this just a mix of ignorance and greed, or something like shooting yourself in the foot?

What they are doing is to make it impossible to talk rationally - with reference to evidence - about politics on line, except if you are rich enough to pay the rich, and this happening on purpose, and is the next step towards neofascism, which is the direction both Europe and the USA have at present, and which if it is successful may last for hundreds of years, all thanks to the internet.

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

The initial idea of the fathers and mothers of the World Wide Web and the Internet, as we know it, this idea of an open architecture for sharing links without restriction, was crucial to its success. And it would be radically undermined if the directive is approved.

Now the EU wants to create an Internet with a licence. And since we are a civilised society, they can’t call it censorship so they say “copyright”.

In the final vote, all the power and wealth will be on one side. We, the people, who are on the other side – in favour of freedom of expression, an open Internet, and copyright laws adapted to the twenty-first century, which will enable authors to make a decent living and not have to scrabble for crumbs dropped from the table of the Internet moguls – will be vilified, slandered as thieves, hackers and pirates, and absurd allegations will be made against us.

Quite so, and this is a very strongly 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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