November 10, 2018

Crisis: Humanism vs. Trump, Doctored Video, Very Many Killed, Important Issues, Jeremy Corbyn


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 10, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 10, 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 November 10, 2018:
1. An Urgent Call for Humanity in the Age of Trump
2. White House Smears CNN Reporter With Doctored Video
3. Half Million Killed by America's Global War on Terror
4. The Issues That Won't Go Away
5. Jeremy Corbyn: 'We Can't Stop Brexit'
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. An Urgent Call for Humanity in the Age of Trump

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Since ISIL targeted the Yazidi community in Iraq and Syria for genocide in 2014, Nadia Murad, co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has seen as many as 18 members of her family, including her mother, either killed or go missing. She has been enslaved and repeatedly violated, narrowly escaping the Islamic State with her life.

In recent years, she has found a champion in lawyer and human rights activist Amal Clooney, who helped her present her story to the U.N. as the first goodwill ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. Now Murad’s speaking tour is the subject of “On Her Shoulders,” a powerful new documentary from director Alexandria Bombach.
What emerges is an intimate portrait of a survivor—one who has endured a kind of trauma few can begin to fathom. The film also explores what it means to be perceived as an “other,” not just in Murad’s native Iraq, but across the West.

I did not know about Nadia Murad, and this is a link to some information about her. Incidentally, here also is a link to Amal Clooney (and yes, she is the partner of George Clooney).

And as to "a kind of trauma few can begin to fathom": I agree, and indeed I only know of families in which 18 or more killed from WW II, for then similar things happened to the Jews, and I know a Dutchman who lost at least 35 of his family members then - but with the psychological difference that he was born almost ten years after WW II.

Here is more:

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s Alexandria Bombach, who won the Best Director in U.S. documentary at Sundance earlier this year. She has made an incredible movie on Nadia Murad, this heroic woman from the Yazidis ethnic group and religion based mostly in Northern Iraq, but also spread because of refugee status and everything else, throughout much of the world. And Nadia won the Nobel Prize along with another activist against sexual violence. She was a rape victim in the brutal ISIS attack on the Yazidi people.
Alexandria Bombach: Yeah, Nadia, I met her in July of 2016. The production company RYOT hired me to make a short film about her. I had followed the genocide as it was starting in August of 2014, and when Nadia gave her speech, I saw a video of her giving her testimony at the U.N. Security Council in December of 2015, but it wasn’t until July of 2016 that I actually met her. After that, I followed her for three months during her campaign.

Quite so, and this is the beginning of the interview that I found reasonable but not great. Here is one bit of it:

Alexandria Bombach: (..) What I saw is that every time she told her story, it was taking little bits of her, and pieces of her. So many people wanted to take photos, and wanted meetings, and wanted testimonies, and throughout the film you kind of see her start to question what difference this is actually making.

As a storyteller, as a documentary filmmaker, I was really confronted with what is our responsibility to survivors? What is our responsibility to refugees, and to these stories of people, and how are we packaging stories of trauma? What questions are we asking? What are we not asking? That became kind of the central idea around the film.

RS: Yeah, and I think it’s a very powerful idea. It goes against another current in documentary filmmaking, and in fact, in journalism, which some have called disaster porn. We see these tragedies, and then you show people this starving kid with flies around his head moments before he dies. Yes, it’s awful, but you lose the sense of a human being, you have an object.

I agree with this. There is a lot more in this article, that is recommended.

2. White House Smears CNN Reporter With Doctored Video

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

On Wednesday, mere hours after President Donald Trump forced Jeff Sessions out as attorney general, the White House revoked the press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta. The decision was confirmed by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who wrote in a tweet that evening, “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. …”

By Thursday, Sanders had distributed a video of Acosta allegedly chopping at the arm of an aide. At first glance, the footage seems to capture the confrontation as it unfolded on live television, with the reporter resisting the woman’s efforts to seize his microphone. But upon closer examination, a segment of the tape appears to have been doctored to make his action look more violent than it actually was. It also lacks audio of Acosta imploring the White House staffer, “Pardon me, ma’am.”

I've read about this before, but this is a good journalistic report, that shows that not only does Trump lie and lie and lie like a madman (which he is), but that his own staff lies as much as he does and also lie themselves with doctored videos that totally misrepresent events.

And in fact Acosta is not "a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job":

“Critics said that video—which sped up the movement of Acosta’s arms in a way that dramatically changed the journalist’s response—was deceptively edited to score political points,” reports The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell. “That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, known for his conspiracy-theory videos on the far-right website Infowars.”

The incident began when Acosta asked Trump if he thought that he had “demonized” an entire community by referring to the Honduran migrant caravan now crossing Mexico as an “invasion.” The president responded dismissively, telling Acosta, “I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.” After repeatedly declaring “that’s enough,” Trump pointed at Acosta, calling him a “rude, terrible person” who “shouldn’t be working” for the network.

This was Trump brutalizing Acosta. And the video was manipulated (and there is more about that in this article, but that was skipped by me).

Here is a the president of the White House News Photographers Association:

“We know that manipulating images is manipulating truth. It’s deceptive, dangerous and unethical,” Whitney Shefte, president of the White House News Photographers Association, said in a statement. “Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country’s highest office with vast influence over public opinion.”

Yes, though manipulated videos are always lies, and journalistic lies are always bad. This is a strongly recommended article.

3. Half Million Killed by America's Global War on Terror

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
The United States' so-called War on Terror has killed about half a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to a new estimate from the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute.

"This new body count signals that, far from diminishing, the war is only intensifying," Stephanie Savell, co-director of the project, pointed out in a piece
for Axios. The overall death toll "is an increase of 113,000 over the last count, issued just two years ago." 

The new report (pdf) estimates that since 2001, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed because of war violence in those three nations—a tally that does not include "the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the U.S. joined in August 2014," and "indirect deaths," or those killed by war's impact on public health, such as limiting access to food, water, hospitals, and electricity.

Over 480,000 have died due to direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but the number of indirect deaths - because, for example, of war-related disease -- is several times larger.
Yes, I think the above is correct - and it means that around 1,5 million people have been killed by various means just in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Here is more:

Regardless of how Democrats in the House proceed, Neta C. Crawford, a Boston University political science professor who co-directs the Costs of War Project, argued in the report's conclusion that there is a need to keep the public more informed about the consequences of the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East in order to drive demands for improving U.S. foreign policy.

"This update just scratches the surface of the human consequences of 17 years of war," Crawford wrote. "Too often, legislators, NGOs, and the news media that try to track the consequences of the wars are inhibited by governments determined to paint a rosy picture of perfect execution and progress."

I agree with Crawford, and also point out that the mainstream aka corporate media generally do not like to report on non-Americans who get killed, other than in a very superficial way - and see item 1 above.

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

Responding to the report's findings, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif drew attention to the human and financial consequences, tweeting: "Cost to U.S. taxpayers: 7K dead Americans + $5.6 trillion. Cost to MidEast: Unfathomable."

US' so-called 'War on Terror' has cost 500K+ lives. 110K+ dead just since 2016. Debacle has caused destruction in Iraq, Syria, Libya & Yemen. It has spawned ISIS & multiple Al Qaeda affiliates. Cost to US taxpayers: 7K dead Americans + $5.6 trillion. Cost to MidEast: Unfathomable

I think Zarif underestimated those who were killed by the 'War on Terror', but in any case, it seems to me the 'War on Terror' was and is propaganda to terrorize non-Americans in the Middle East. This is a strongly recommended article.

4. The Issues That Won't Go Away

This article is by Robert C. Koehler on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

How much real change manifested itself in the 2018 midterms? How deeply does the outcome reflect the American soul?

Apparently, about 113 million Americans, basically half the electorate, felt compelled to vote in the midterms, revved up either by intense opposition to or support for Donald Trump. This is a lot more than usual for a non-presidential election, but still fairly pathetic for “the world’s greatest democracy.”

I say, for this is the first time in a lot of reporting that I glanced at or partially or completely read about the American elections which says that about half of the Americans who were qualified to vote did vote, whereas half did not.

Also, while I think this is a good article, I have no idea whatsoever about what "the American soul" is supposed to be. Then again, it is a fact that just half of the American electorate voted, and I more or less agree with Koehler that this is "fairly pathetic for “the world’s greatest democracy”", except that I think that one main reason for Americans not to vote is precisely that they feel it makes no difference anyway - which (if true, as I think it is) strongly suggests that American democracy is no longer true, whereas American plutocracy is.

Here is more:

How much closer did we move to becoming a nation able and willing to focus on the real issues that threaten the planet?

To the extent that the election was about Trump and Trumpism:

“. . . keep in mind,” Tom Engelhardt reminds us, “that he entered an unsettled world already well prepared for such a presidency by his predecessors in Washington. If the fascist . . . tendency that lurks in him and in the situation that surrounds him does come out more fully, he will obviously be aided by the ever more imperial presidency that was created in the decades before he left Trump Tower for the White House.

“When he entered the Oval Office, he found there a presidency in which — particularly on the subject of war (the president was, for instance, already America’s global assassin-in-chief) — his powers increasingly stood outside both Congress and the Constitution. The weapons he’s now bringing to bear, including executive orders and the U.S. military, were already well prepared for him.”

Well... I like none of the American presidents since Reagan, but I think Trump should bear more responsibility for his personal decisions, whereas it seems to me to be simply unconstitutional to say that the president's "powers increasingly stood outside both Congress and the Constitution":
I think that is plainly illegal.

Here is more:

This country has been spiraling in the wrong direction for a long time. Some progressives determined to change the game were among those who gained office in this election, which is something worth celebrating — but hardly reason to heave a sigh of relief. Most of the issues that truly matter, that require a fundamental shift in American politics, remain rawly unaddressed and unacknowledged. They were essentially invisible in the mainstream election coverage, which, as usual, presented it as a horse race for the entertainment of Spectator America, not the creation of the future.

These issues include:

A. Militarism, endless war, unconscionable military spending, nuclear weapons. This was utterly off the table in the midterms. As Chris Hedges pointed out, some 85 percent of Senate Dems voted for this year’s $716 billion military spending bill, indicating a “unity” of surrender to military-industrialism. We no longer glorify our wars, we ignore them.
I agree that the USA "has been spiraling in the wrong direction for a long time" (and again the presidency of Reagan that started in 1980 seems to have been the main starting point), and I also agree with Koehler that the winning of the House by the Democrats "is something worth celebrating — but hardly reason to heave a sigh of relief".

And I also agree with Koehler's "
issues that truly matter, that require a fundamental shift in American politics" [but that] "remain rawly unaddressed and unacknowledged", and for this reason I list all of them, though far from completely.

I agree with A. and here is part of B. (and if you want to read all, which is recommended, you should click on the title of this article):
B. Climate change, environmental catastrophe. This is not unrelated to the issue of war, since the world’s militaries are by far the biggest polluters. While environmental sanity is at least something that can be addressed politically, the urgency of global warming hardly has political traction.
And besides global warming is denied by almost all Republicans including Trump. Here is C.:
C. Poverty, inequality.
I suppresed nearly all text here, but Koehler is quite right it is important and mostly ignored by the mainstream/corporate media. Here is a part of D.:
D. Guns, violence, mass murder, a culture of violence. This issue still carves a deep gouge across the American electorate. Mass murders keep occurring. Should we get serious about gun control or should teachers and rabbis be armed? There is no real dialogue across the divide. We still live in a culture that worships violence.
I agree (and the situation in Europe with regards to guns is almost the opposite of the situation in the U.S.). Here is a small part of E.:
E. Militarized police, police shootings and racism.
Quite so. Here is a part of F.:
F. The prison-industrial complex. The United States has the largest prison system in the world (and it’s becoming increasingly privatized), with 2.3 million people — mostly impoverished people of color — behind bars. Our prison system is a regrouping of Jim Crow America, which can’t stand having a country without second-class and tenth-class citizens.
I think that is quite correct. Here is a small part of G.:
G. Immigrant scapegoating, hatred and fear.
Quite so. And here is a part of H.:
H. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, hacking. Ah, democracy, a nuisance to the powerful, a system to be gamed! If the voting can’t be controlled, my God, Republicans could lose.
Again I quite agree. Also, in this review I did at least mention all the points Koehler mentions in his strongly recommended article, simply because I think he is right and all the points are important (and are mostly hardly considered in the mainstream/corporate media).

5. Jeremy Corbyn: 'We Can't Stop Brexit'

This article is by Jörg Schindler on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:

The man upon whom the hopes of young men and women in Britain rest enjoys taking pictures of drain covers and making jam. He wears baggy blazers and, when necessary, smuggles English cheese into his Mexican vacation lodgings. In other words, he leads the averagely eccentric lifestyle of your standard British retiree.

Except that Jeremy Corbyn, 69, has his sights set on becoming the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. Ever since the man from the London borough of Islington became the surprise Labour leader in 2015, the party has been experiencing an unprecedented boom. Not unlike Bernie Sanders in the United States, Corbyn's decidedly socialist and pacifist positions have been received enthusiastically by mostly young voters. With its 540,000 members, Labour is now the largest political party in the European Union. In the 2017 election, it received 40 percent of the vote, despite significant attacks on the party from the British media and a bitter internal battle.
I say, which I do because I did not know all of this. Also, this is a fairly good interview (but I think in English one should write "Spiegel" instead of "Der Spiegel", though this is a quite minor point).

Here is more:

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. Corbyn, when you look across Europe at the moment, do you fear that social democracy is doomed?

Corbyn: Not at all. Look at Portugal where the Socialist Party has formed a successful left-wing government. Also the Swedish Social Democratic Party did comparatively well in the last election.

DER SPIEGEL: These are the last bastions. In Germany, France, the Netherlands and elsewhere, social democrats are on their way to becoming splinter parties. Why are they doing so poorly?

Corbyn: I think the main point is how you deal with the economic crisis of 2008. Do you continue to allow austerity to dominate and manage an economy which, in effect, is redistributing wealth in the wrong way or do you offer an alternative? I think left parties that are putting forward a coherent anti-austerity alternative will get huge support.

Well... I will not discuss the social democrats outside Holland, but I think the traditional Dutch social democratic party - the PvdA - stopped being social democrats (and never were socialists) with the reign of Wim Kok who became prime minister in 1994, and changed it to a vague Blatcherist kind of party. (Wim Kok is hugely admired by most leaders of government, and was a big liar and careerist who is much despised by me).

Here is more:

DER SPIEGEL: At the moment, though, it is right-wing populist parties across Europe that are getting significant support.

Corbyn: When communities become disillusioned with politicians and politics, it can be extremely dangerous. And hence, I find the rise of the far right in Austria and Germany very troubling and very concerning. At least the AfD (Germany's right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party) didn't hasn't grown any further in the polls recently, but I do find the rise of this party quite frightening.

DER SPIEGEL: The decline of social democracy started after figures like Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder were in government. Is that just coincidence?

Corbyn: What Tony Blair wanted to do was turn the traditional social democracy into what he called a third way.

Well... yes, though more precisely Blair was a Blatcherist who seems to have worked only to get as much money as he could for himself, in which he succeeded (for he seems to own more than 100 million pounds now).

In other words Blair was an enormous fraud. Here is more:

DER SPIEGEL: Your answer is a sharp turn to the left?

Corbyn: What we're offering here are coherent policies. It's the values behind it that are so important. The values that you work for the entirety of society and don't blame minorities, that you invest in education, but above all, that you give people hope. I really think many people across Europe need the perspective that they will be able to achieve something in their lives because the levels of depression in post-industrial areas is huge. The levels of underemployment, short-term employment and insecure employment are huge. And I think that is very dangerous to society. What we're saying is that there has to be a realignment of wealth within our society.

I quite agree with Corbyn (though I also think he needs another crisis to implement many of his changes). Here is more:

DER SPIEGEL: Yet the current level of unemployment in Britain is the lowest it has been since 1975. Despite Brexit, the economy is growing.

Corbyn: That masks the fact that there are 1 million people on zero-hour contracts (Eds. Note: contracts that do not guarantee a minimum amount of work) and that real wages have been frozen now for 10 years. Almost 4 million people accessed food banks last year in the sixth richest country in the world. The Conservatives tend to measure everything by the prosperous parts of London and the southeast. It's simply not the case with the rest of the country. We have the lowest levels of wages paid in the East Midlands, which is less than two hours from London by train.
Precisely - and I lived in the East Midlands in the early 1970ies (before Great Britain became a part of the European Union).

Here is more:

Corbyn: (..) We're offering that radical alternative.

DER SPIEGEL: It is one that includes the nationalization of the railways and the electrical grid, more workers' rights and a massive redistribution of wealth from the top to the bottom.

Corbyn: Our policies are sensible, inclusive, and they are actually quite mainstream. A majority of Britons support bringing the railway back into public ownership.

Well... I agree again with Corbyn. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine interview:

DER SPIEGEL: Why is it that so many young people flock to you?

Corbyn: It's not a personal thing. It's about us as parties and movements offering some hope. Young people never turned off politics. Politics turned off young people because it didn't offer anything to them. I grew up in the 1950s and '60s and I always believed that I would probably have a better life than my parents had. And my parents were not poor. The turning point was the politics endorsed by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Their message was that the young had to pay for education, pay for health, pay for pensions, that society doesn't really care about them.
Yes indeed. There is a lot more in the interview, and this article is strongly recommended.

[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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