February 14, 2019

Crisis: The Green New Deal, Israeli Lobbyists, Profit From Online Data, Warren, U.S. Senate

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 14, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 14, 2019.

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 three 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:

. Selections from February 14, 2019:
1. The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn on the Green New Deal
2. Criticizing Israeli Lobby & AIPAC Is Not Anti-Semitic

3. California Governor Wants Users to Profit From Online Data

4. Trump’s Assault on Elizabeth Warren

5. Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?
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. The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn on the Green New Deal

This article is by Naomi Klein on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

“I really don’t like their policies of taking away your car, taking away your airplane flights, of ‘let’s hop a train to California,’ or ‘you’re not allowed to own cows anymore!'”

So bellowed President Donald Trump in El Paso, Texas, his first campaign-style salvo against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s Green New Deal resolution. There will surely be many more.

It’s worth marking the moment. Because those could be the famous last words of a one-term president, having wildly underestimated the public appetite for transformative action on the triple crises of our time: imminent ecological unraveling, gaping economic inequality (including the racial and gender wealth divide), and surging white supremacy.

Or they could be the epitaph for a habitable climate, with Trump’s lies and scare tactics succeeding in trampling this desperately needed framework. That could either help win him re-election, or land us with a timid Democrat in the White House with neither the courage nor the democratic mandate for this kind of deep change. Either scenario means blowing the handful of years left to roll out the transformations required to keep temperatures below catastrophic levels.

Yes, I think this is more or less correct. Here is more:

Back in October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a landmark report informing us that global emissions need to be slashed in half in less than 12 years, a target that simply cannot be met without the world’s largest economy playing a game-changing leadership role. If there is a new administration ready to leap into that role in January 2021, meeting those targets would still be extraordinarily difficult, but it would be technically possible — especially if large cities and states like California and New York escalate their ambitions right now. Losing another four years to a Republican or a corporate Democrat, and starting in 2026 is, quite simply, a joke.

Yes, but I don't agree with the conclusion, at least not if this is read as it stands: If Klein is right on the two alternatives, and I think she is, "[l]osing another four years to a Republican or a corporate Democrat" is not so much "a joke" as a tragedy.

Here is some more:

Those are the stark options before us. And which outcome we end up with depends on the actions taken by social movements in the next two years. Because these are not questions that will be settled through elections alone. At their core, they are about building political power — enough to change the calculus of what is possible.

That was the lesson of the original New Deal, one we would be wise to remember right now.

Well... I don't really know whether this really is, as Klein says, "the lesson of the original New Deal", and besides, the original New Deal started some 85 years ago. But Klein does appear to be correct that the Green New Deal does seem to be the sort of program that the Democrats ought to adopt - which is not at all certain they will, for Pelosi and other currently leading Democrats are against. And this is a recommended article.

2. Criticizing Israeli Lobby & AIPAC Is Not Anti-Semitic

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

Democratic Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is facing criticism today after commenting on a tweet by Glenn Greenwald. On Sunday, Greenwald tweeted, ”GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.” Rep. Omar retweeted his post and added the line: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” She later named AIPAC as the organization paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.

Yes, this seems mostly correct to me, and I also agree with Greenwald that "It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans."

Then again, I may be a bit more aware of how many "ordinary democrats", both inside and outside the USA, seem to be moved by what are essentially totalitarian arguments (which you cannot judge anymore correctly if you use Wikipedia to get clarity on totalitarianism, for the present item on totalitarianism almost only reflect the lies by Brzezinski).

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: (..) On Sunday, you tweeted, quote, ”GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans,” you wrote.

Well, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota retweeted your post and added the line, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

Then, an opinion editor from The Forward newspaper tweeted, “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”

Ilhan Omar then responded to that tweet by writing, ”AIPAC.”

Democratic Congressman Max Rose responded to Omar by saying, “Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself.”

Well... as far as I can see Jews like Max Rose seem to be deeply hurt by criticisms of Nethanyahu or his policies, rather than of Jews in general. (As for me: I am not an anti-semite at all, but I do not like Nethanyahu, and I also do not like mixing up criticisms of the Jews with criticisms of Nethanyahu.)

And here is Greenwald (who also has a Jewish background, incidentally):

GLENN GREENWALD: This is all so ridiculous. It’s all based upon this demand that we indulge what everybody knows is an utter and complete fiction, which is that we’re allowed to talk about the power of the NRA in Washington, we’re allowed to talk about the power of the Saudis in Washington, we’re allowed to talk about the power of big pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street and Silicon Valley and the fossil fuel industry in Washington, but we’re not allowed to talk about an equally potent, well-organized and well-financed lobby that ensures a bipartisan consensus in support of U.S. defense of Israel, that the minute that you mention that lobby, you get attacked as being anti-Semitic, which is what happened to Congresswoman Omar.

And I think the context here is really important. For a long time, the bipartisan piety was not just that the U.S. has to support Israel, but that, in particular, the effort to boycott Israel in protest of its occupation of Palestine is not just misguided, but anti-Semitic. That’s the official position of the Democratic Party, of Hillary Clinton, of Chuck Schumer, of every leading Democrat.

Yes, I completely agree with Greenwald. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

GLENN GREENWALD: What the congresswoman said is very uncontroversial. Everyone knows AIPAC is an extremely intimidating lobby, just like the NRA is. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out. There’s certainly nothing anti-Semitic about saying that, about criticizing the Israeli government for its aggression and militarism. And anybody who cares about Palestinians and about the ability of Muslims in the United States to be able to speak freely ought to be defending her.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article.

3. California Governor Wants Users to Profit From Online Data

This article is by Don Thompson on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set off a flurry of speculation after he said the state’s consumers should get a piece of the billions of dollars that technology companies make by capitalizing on personal data they collect.

The new governor has asked aides to develop a proposal for a “data dividend” for California residents but provided no hints about whether he might be suggesting a tax on tech companies, an individual refund to their customers or something else.

“Companies that make billions of dollars collecting, curating and monetizing our personal data have a duty to protect it,” the Democrat said in his first State of the State speech Tuesday. “California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data.”

No, this is a thoroughly sick proposal by Newsom. What he is proposing amounts to this:

Each and every secret service of each and every country is allowed to store everything anyone puts anywhere on line, including the full texts of all your emails and all the emails of your friends and family, and including all pornography you somehow included, and precisely the same things are allowed to each and every corporation that is rich enough to do so - but hey, they ought to return a few percent of their profits to the billions they stole all the privacies from.

Then I have to admit that although this is thoroughly sick, it is slightly less sick than simply stealing everyone's privacies, make billions from them (if it are the rich corporations stealing these), and pretend that it the normal thing to do "because of terrorism".

There is also this in the article:

Starting next year, California’s European-style privacy law will require companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they have collected and why, which categories of third parties have received it, and allow consumers to delete their information and not sell it.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, predicted in November that California would consider legislation that would “send a shiver down the spine” of tech companies.

He described the proposal as returning 25 percent of the value of an individual’s data. It wasn’t clear how the calculation would be made.

Well... the first paragraph seems to say that the corporations can steal everything on your computer, but that then they ought to delete the information if "consumers" request this - which I think is ass backwards.

Besides, why should Google and Facebook own up to what they did, especially since they can pretend it is all their legal right to steal everything and not to own up about anything they stole, as part of their corporate secrets?

Also, I think that "returning 25 percent of the value of an individual’s data" probably comes from Warner's thumb - or he knows far more of Google's and Facebook's secrets than almost any other politician.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which shows not everyone is crazy or corrupt:

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said Newsom “is off to the wrong start” on protecting consumer privacy.

“They shouldn’t be tricked into giving away their privacy for a small discount,” he said in an email. “Selling it for a few bucks isn’t the answer and will make the problem worse.”

I agree with Chester, and this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Trump’s Assault on Elizabeth Warren

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

Elizabeth Warren is one of the most talented politicians and policy leaders in America. We must not allow Trump or anyone else to “swift-boat” her because she identified herself as an American Indian three decades ago.

At worst, Warren may have stretched the bounds of the definition of whiteness. That’s understandable. She grew up in Oklahoma, a state created from Indian Territory. She probably witnessed the disrespect and occasional brutality that Native Americans were, and still are, subject to. Her own genetic test showed at least one Native American ancestor. She has stressed that she is not a member of a tribal nation.

Well... I more or less agree with Reich, although I also have to admit that I do not rightly understand what Americans are quarreling about, for this seems - in this case, at least - to be about being 1/32 parts of Indian descent.

Then again, Warren may have been mistaken (thirty years ago) to call herself "an American Indian", and indeed I think she was if she did (which I do not know), but then if that is the worst, it seems as nothing compared to what Trump did:

Warren didn’t call Mexicans rapists. She didn’t call nations populated primarily by black or brown people “shitholes.” She didn’t assume all Muslims are terrorists. She didn’t characterize black neighborhoods as war zones. She didn’t assert that an American president was born in Africa. She has not sexually assaulted anyone. She has not paid hush money to prostitutes. She hasn’t insulted Native Americans by calling a leading politician “Pocahontas” and joking about the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

Yes, Reich is correct about it. Here is the ending of his article:

It’s far better for a presidential candidate to err on the side of racial or ethnic inclusiveness than for a president to whip the nation into a dangerous and delusional frenzy of racial or ethnic divisiveness.

Quite so, and this is a recommended article.

5. Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?

This article is by David Swanson on Washington's Blog. It starts as follows:

In 1973 the War Powers Resolution weakened the U.S. Constitution’s placement of the power to start and end wars with the first branch of the U.S. government, the Congress. The new law carved out exceptions to allow presidents to start wars. However, it also created procedures by which a single member or group of members of Congress could force a vote in Congress on whether to end a war. Despite weakening the written law, the War Powers Resolution may finally be about to prove itself to have strengthened the ability of proponents of peace to put an end to mass slaughter.

Since 1973 we’ve seen numerous wars waged in blatant violation of both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, not to mention the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. But we’ve also seen Congress members like my friend Dennis Kucinich force votes on whether to end wars. These votes have usually failed. And the Congress that ended this past December illegally refused (in the House) to even hold such votes. But debates have been created, people have been informed, and the notion that a law still exists that merits respect has been kept alive.

Yes, I think this is mostly correct - and I definitely agree with Swanson that in anything like a genuine democracy, it ought to be parliament (in the USA: the House + the Senate) who declare war, and not the president.

Here is some more:

Never yet have both houses of Congress jointly passed a War Powers Resolution bill to end a war. That may soon change. On Wednesday, the House voted 248-to-177 to end one of the many current U.S. wars, that on Yemen. (Well, sort of. Keep reading.) Back in December, during the previous Congress, the Senate passed the same resolution (or nearly identical).
Of course, either house of Congress alone could refuse to allow a dime to be spent on U.S. war-making in Yemen. But there isn’t any mechanism, as far as I know, for a member of Congress to force either chamber, despite its “leadership,” to hold a vote on doing that. This is why making the War Powers Resolution real by finally using it is so valuable. Despite all the caveats, and despite all the steps that will remain to be taken, for Congress — after 46 years and more wars than anyone can count — to finally legislate the end of a particular war is ground breaking.

If Congress can end one war, why not eight more? Why not the ones that are threatened and not yet begun?

Yes, I fundamentally agree with Swanson (although I may be a bit more skeptical). 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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