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Nederlog

March 21, 2019

Crisis: The Torture Machine, Climate Authoritarianism, Twitter´s Terrorism, US Military, Censorship


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







Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 21, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, March 21, 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:

A. Selections from March 21, 2019:
1. The Torture Machine of the Chicago Police
2. The Future of Climate Authoritarianism Is Now

3. Twitter Restricts Account of Julian Assange’s Mother

4. 'Military Keynesianism is Back!': Democrats and Trump Agree on
     Pentagon Increase

5. Censorship and Arrests in Wake of Christchurch Attack
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at everyorning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. The Torture Machine of the Chicago Police

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

We look at the Chicago Police Department’s long history of violence against African Americans, from the murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton to the reign of torture overseen by commander Jon Burge. The brutality of the Chicago police force is laid bare in a new book by leading civil rights lawyer Flint Taylor. It’s called “The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.” The book exposes decades of corruption and cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department. We speak with Flint Taylor, who has represented survivors of police brutality in Chicago for nearly half a century.

I say, for I did not know most of this - and yes: ¨torture machine¨ is quite correct.

Here is some more on Flint Taylor, while here is some more from the article:

AMY GOODMAN: The decision is the latest in the struggle by activists, lawyers, journalists to hold the Chicago Police Department accountable for its long history of violence against the city’s citizens, particularly African-American men. Much of that history is chronicled in a new book by a leading Chicago lawyer fighting police torture. The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago exposes decades of corruption and cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department, from the murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and Mark Clark to the reign of torture overseen by Commander Jon Burge. Under Burge’s reign, from 1972 to ’91, more than 200 people, most of them African-American, were tortured with tactics including electric shock and suffocation.

We’re joined now by the book’s author, Flint Taylor, an attorney with People’s Law Office who has represented survivors of police torture in Chicago for more than 25 years.

Flint, welcome back to Democracy Now! Why did you name your book The Torture Machine?

FLINT TAYLOR: Well, thank you, Amy and Juan. It’s a pleasure to be back with you.

I named it The Torture Machine for two different but related reasons. First of all is rather obvious. On the cover, the torture machine, that was the electric shock box that the notorious Commander Jon Burge and his men used on many African-American suspects over that 20-year period that you just mentioned. But also “the torture machine” refers to Chicago’s machine, the notorious political machine, often known as the Daley machine and the Democratic machine, here in the city, which not only countenanced this torture, covered it up, but also was involved at the highest levels of the police department and, yes, the State’s Attorney’s Office, when Richard M. Daley was the state’s attorney of Cook County—were involved in this conspiracy, this scandal, that has gone on for so many decades in this city.

Yes indeed:

The torture machine is on the cover, and it is as real as the torture machines the KGB and the Gestapo used, and I also agree with its second metaphorical use. Also, I think it bears repeating that these sick tools were used for a 20-year period, in which they also were continuously covered by ¨the highest levels of the police department and, yes, the State’s Attorney’s Office¨.

Also, here is some more on Jon Burge, and the article on him starts as follows (and is interesting):

Jon Graham Burge (December 20, 1947 – September 19, 2018) was an American police detective and commander in the Chicago Police Department
who was accused of torturing more than 200 criminal suspects between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions.

Back to the article, which goes back to 1969, the Black Panther Party and Fred Hampton, who was killed by the FBI aged 21 in 1969:

FLINT TAYLOR: Yes. On December 4th, 1969, 14 Chicago police officers working under the control of the state’s attorney of Cook County—at that time, Edward Hanrahan—raided a West Side apartment where Black Panthers were sleeping. And one of those Black Panthers was the chairman of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, a charismatic young leader, who was targeted not only by the police, but by, it turns out, the FBI. And that raid, which was covered up, was claimed to be at first a shootout, was later shown to be a total shoot-in. And then, over the years, as we and others were able to litigate a case in federal court, we were able to show not only that this was a vicious, racist attack on the Panthers and its leadership, where two men were killed and many others wounded, but it was part and parcel of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, the counterintelligence program devised and implemented by J. Edgar Hoover over the years, which in the late ’60s targeted the Black Panther Party, and specifically Fred Hampton in Chicago, and, in fact, that the raid on the apartment was part of this COINTELPRO program.

Yes, I think all of the above is correct, and here is a Wikipedia-reference to COINTELPRO.

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

FLINT TAYLOR: (..) The Wilson case arose in February of 1982. Two white police officers were shot and killed. The two black perpetrators had escaped. And the city of Chicago, under Jane Byrne and Police Superintendent Brzeczek, set out on the most vicious and terroristic manhunt in the history of the city. They terrorized the black community. They kicked in doors. They dragged people out of their houses. If they thought that they had some information about the killings, they tortured them. They tortured them with suffocation. They tortured them with all kinds of medieval types of torture. They finally found the two people who the eyewitness identified as the persons who were involved in the crime. And the person who was identified as the shooter was Andrew Wilson.

Andrew Wilson was taken back to the police headquarters on the South Side of Chicago. And this notorious commander, who at that time was a lieutenant in charge of the manhunt, by the name of Jon Burge, led a torture of Andrew Wilson that included electric shock with the torture machine, that is mentioned and depicted in my book, and suffocation with a bag. They handcuffed him across an old, ribbed steam radiator and electric-shocked him so that he was burned across his chest. And they also burned him with cigarettes, beat him and got a confession from him.

I say, but I quite believe Flint Taylor, who must be a brave man himself. There is considerably more in this article, that is strongly recommended.


2. The Future of Climate Authoritarianism Is Now

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. This is from near its beginning:

[T]he age of climate chaos we have entered is all too real. By 2050, the U.N. projects that there will be as many as 200 million climate refugees across the globe. That number could climb to as high as 1 billion if we fail to take radical action to reduce carbon emissions. To put those numbers in perspective, the Syrian civil war that has so roiled the West had produced 5 million refugees as of 2016. As David Wallace-Wells observes in his haunting “The Uninhabitable Earth,” we are not witnessing a “new normal” but something far more terrifying: “That is, the end of normal; never normal again.”

“We have already exited the state of environmental conditions that allowed the human animal to evolve in the first place, in an unsure and unplanned bet on just what that animal can endure,” he writes. “The climate system that raised us, and raised everything we now know as a human culture and civilization, is now, like a parent, dead.”

I think the above is correct. Here is some more:

Of course, climate change is already transforming our politics in ways we never imagined and might not yet grasp. Consider far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s recent meeting with Donald Trump at the White House. “Today, we don’t even have to gaze into the future, or trust that it will be deformed by climate change, to see what that would like,” Wallace-Wells writes. “In the form of tribalism at home and nationalism abroad and terrorism flaming out from the tinder of failed states, that future is here, at least in preview, already. Now we just wait for the storms.”

Well... I more or less agree, but I studied a lot of logic, and I dislike somewhat paradoxical statements like ¨the future is now¨. Then again, this may be mostly personal (and extremely few or none of my readers read as much logic as I have).

Here is more by Wallace-Wells:

David Wallace-Wells: I think it might actually be more helpful to look at 2 and 4-degree temperature increases, which is the difference between a best-case scenario and business as usual. At 2 degrees, the U.N. estimates we will have 200 million refugees at least, possible as many as 1 billion, which would be as many people as live in North and South America combined. I think those numbers are a little high, but the fact that they’re in the hundreds of millions at all should terrify us.

Yes indeed. Here is some more (and the speaker is Wallace-Wells):

The track that we’re currently on, which would raise temperatures by 4 degrees Celsius [7.2 F] or more by the end of this century, would mean $600 trillion in global damages. That would gobble up all the wealth that exists in the world today. It would mean a global [gross domestic product] that was at least 20 percent smaller, possibly 30 percent smaller, than the global economy would be without climate change. That’s 10 times the size of the Great Recession, only it would be permanent. Countries in the equatorial band would have the very possibility of economic growth completely wiped out by climate change.

I suppose Wallace-Wells is correct when he speaks about ¨the track that we’re currently on¨, but I do not believe myself that the human world can survive on a setback that is ¨10 times the size of the Great Recession, only it would be permanent¨ without various revolutionary movements, though I grant these may be repressed by the fact that the national securities by now know almost everything about almost anyone with some internet computer (for the internet was designed by DARPA so that it could and can know everything by anyone).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article (and the speaker is still Wallace-Wells):

As to how we’ll ultimately evolve, I would say that the likeliest outcome is a world that remains recognizably capitalistic but is reshuffled in profound ways by the forces of climate. Every country will move differently—some will move in totally opposite directions—but I suspect [the majority] will be oriented around the principle of profit and economic growth, even as growth will become harder and harder to achieve.

On a more individual level, it seems unlikely that we’ll have a total retreat from the values of self-improvement and material comfort that have come to dominate both the affluent West and much of the planet over the last few decades.

I think this is all speculation that may or may not be correct. My own guess is that it probably is not correct, for a reason expounded under the previous quotation, but this is also speculative. And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. Twitter Restricts Account of Julian Assange’s Mother

This article is by Joe Lauria on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
The Twitter account of Christine Assange, the mother of the arbitrarily detained founder of WikiLeaks, has been restricted, she told Consortium News on Tuesday.

“My Twitter account has been ‘blocked due to ‘unusual activity,'” Ms. Assange wrote in a text message. Twitter, however, has provided her no reason for its action.

Ms. Assange is a prolific user of Twitter in her campaign to free her son who has been a refugee in the Ecuador embassy in London since 2012.

While a user can access her page by agreeing to view her profile, Ms. Assange told Consortium News she is unable to post new Tweets to her account nor see anyone else’s.
I say, but Lauria seems quite right and also reproduces a Tweet by Twitter, addressed to Assange´s mother, which says this:
Caution: This account is temporarily restricted.
You are seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account.
Well... I say. To me it seems as if Twitter is indeed a neo-fascistic organization, that does its very best (i) to make all rational discussion either completely impossible or at the very least much more difficult than ordinary e-mail (because they pass only a few hundreds of characters, which in my - rational - opinion is utterly crazy) and (ii) they stop accounts being used, as is Ms. Assange´s account by giving ¨warnings¨ which are issued because of ¨some unusual activity¨ - which is plain terrorism as stated.

Here is more om Ms. Assange:
In the past ten days, Ms. Assange tweeted direct replies to Hillary Clinton and John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser. Bolton had tweeted on March 9: “US military should use #Wikileaks for cyber warfare target practice. Take down their capabilities & prevent further harm to nat’l security.”

Ms. Assange’s reply to Bolton is no longer visible under his tweet.  Nine replies to Bolton are now “unavailable.” Ms. Assange said in a text message that her reply began by calling Bolton’s tweet, “Fascist talk!”
It seems as if Ms. Assange is not allowed to say to Bolton that he uses “Fascist talk!”. I grant this is not diplomatic, but what is wrong with it? Even if you disagree with Ms. Assange?
I do not see anything wrong with it, for I am a proponent of free speech.

And here is more on Twitter and Julian Assange:
Twitter uses algorithms unknown to the public to remove, block, suspend or restrict accounts of its users. Like other social media companies, Twitter has also come under intense U.S. congressional pressure to censor accounts deemed hostile to U.S. interests.

Julian Assange has remained in the embassy to avoid arrest by British authorities for skipping bail from an investigation by Sweden that has since been dropped. He has not been charged with a crime by either Sweden or Britain.

Assange was granted political asylum by the previous government of Ecuador seven years ago. The current government, however, has made it known it wants him to leave and has made various moves to force him out.  His contact with the outside world has been restricted.  Twitter deleted his account on March 28, 2018. British authorities have not permitted him to leave the embassy for urgent medical treatment without being arrested.
I say. Well... here are my comments, per paragraph:

First paragraph. Firstly, I do not see why Twitter should be allowed ¨
to remove, block, suspend or restrict accounts of its users¨. I suppose with many users you need some control, but my own opinion is that the control should be overseen by some real judge, indeed quite as the paper mail was supposed to be run: No one is allowed to see that except the addresser and the addressee, except under control of a judge, and for legal reasons.

And secondly, if Twitter does ¨
censor accounts deemed hostile to U.S. interests¨ (for unknown reasons, using secret algorithms) it is actively being totalitarian, in my and Orwell´s sense, though indeed not in the thoroughly falsified sense on the Wikipedia.

Second paragraph. In any case, it seems to me an English totalitarian practice (again in Orwell´s and my sense) to effectively keep someone locked up while there are no charges against him.

Third paragraph. I only comment on the facts also noted in my previous comments on these paragraphs: The British government is persecuting Assange for totalitarian reasons (and not - anymore - for legal reasons) and Twitter was there as well as one of their willing totalitarian tools.

And this is a strongly recommended article.


4. 'Military Keynesianism is Back!': Democrats and Trump Agree on Pentagon Increase

This article is by Eoin Higgins on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

President Donald Trump's requested military budget is another record breaker—and Democrats are countering with their own increase. 

The Trump administration unveiled the details of its proposal to the public on March 12. At $750 billion, the military seeks to receive $36 billion more than last year's record $714 billion budget—an increase that experts say is aimed at China and Russia. Democrats have signaled that the increase is a nonstarter, but their counter-offer of $733 billion isn't exactly a difference in more than degrees, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone

"The Democrats want to lower Trump's number," said Taibbi, "but still give the Pentagon a raise."

Yes, that seems all quite true. Here is some more on the Democrats´ decision:

The Democrats proposed $733 billion budget would give the military most of what it wants in 2020, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in comments to the Federal News Network's Scott Maucione.

"The House Budget Committee, the number that they've talked about for defense is $733 billion," said Smith. "It's a not insubstantial number."

While some commentators argued in favor of the defense budget, or, at least, in favor of not fighting it, progressive critics fought back.

Well... I note two general points. First, the Pentagon does get far too much from the American taxes, namely more than 50%, which is all directed towards war. And second, I think Trump and his government seem to be steering towards more wars - and Trump (whom this psychologist thinks is insane, as do many other psychologists) also may make such wars nuclear.

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

At Bloomberg, Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies Hal Brand went further, framing the increase as somehow "progressive" and the right thing to do for working people. 

"Progressives should learn to love, or at least tolerate, high levels of military spending," wrote Brand, "precisely because it tends to advance a key progressive goal: Improving the economic fortunes of the middle class."

The argument was roundly rejected by critics.

Journalist Ben Norton sarcastically noted the use of an economic argument to further the war machine.

"Military Keynesianism is back!" Norton tweeted. "And these 'progressives' want you to know that killing people in the Global South is 'Good for the Economy'™"

I think Brand spoke as a pure propagandist (of the rich) and not at all as a scientist, although that may perhaps be expected from someone who is ¨Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor¨. Also, I personally like Keynes, but I agree Keynesianism refers to a type of economy much more than it does to Keynes, while I think Norton is correct when he wrote that Brand´s - propagandist - advice to progressives implied ¨that killing people in the Global South is 'Good for the Economy'™¨ (which is sick). And this is a recommended article.

5. Censorship and Arrests in Wake of Christchurch Attack

This article is by Kit Knightly on the Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:

No matter the source of the violence, no matter the politics or casualties or the location, it seems the reaction of governments in the face of “terrorism” is virtually always the same – clamp down, hard, on individual rights.

This grand tradition goes back hundreds of years, from James I’s crackdown on Catholics after the Gunpowder Plot, through to the despot’s charter that is the Patriot Act, passed within six weeks of 9/11. Just last year, famously, gab.com was heavily targeted in the wake of the “Magabomber” (fake) bombings. (Our article predicted that further purges were on the horizon).

The pattern is established: The state will always – ALWAYS – use a crisis, real or invented, to enhance their power. Most of the time this is done at the cost of individual liberty.

Yes indeed, but I have several remarks, that I will again give per paragraph:

First paragraph: In fact, my own comments - that started in 2004 - were that in my opinion terrorism was invented, as it was done in fact, to give as much power as possible to the police and the national security, and that 9/11 was only the occasion to start practising that idea in full.

For more see Goering, whom I have quoted repeatedly:

         

Replace ¨attacked¨ by ¨terrorized¨ and Goering´s advice fully applies to most governmental and national securities´ ¨anti-terrorism¨ activities since 9/11, which were not intended to save democracy or to help ordinary civilians, but were and are intended to extend the power of the national securities and the governments against anyone who might oppose them.

Second paragraph. Yes indeed - and see my previous comment.

Third paragraph. Well... maybe not ¨ALWAYS¨ and that is also not necessary for establishing a pattern. And in fact with ¨MOSTLY¨ for ¨ALWAYS¨ the pattern is as valid, and indeed what increases the power of the state, or its police, or its national security decreases the power of the individuals and the many different kinds of opponents of the state, the state´s power or the national security.

Back to the article:

The Christchurch mosque shootings are proving no exception to this rule. NZ police are currently threatening people with 10 years in prison for sharing the live-streamed footage, and other punishments just for owning a copy of the recording.

RT reports [our emphasis]:

Video footage of killer Brenton Tarrant’s shooting spree at a Christchurch mosque on Friday – which left 50 worshippers dead – was pulled from Facebook immediately after the massacre. With the footage proliferating on several hosting platforms afterwards, the Kiwi authorities have already charged an 18-year-old man for sharing the video, as well as for posting other “objectionable” comments days before the shooting.

The teenager faces up to ten years in prison, under New Zealand’s ‘objectionable and restricted material’ laws. Police have meanwhile issued an overt threat to anyone else looking for the video.

This crackdown is, simply put, crazy. You can’t charge people for owning a copy of a video that was live-streamed over the internet to millions of people, and you certainly can’t make it illegal to even watch the video. (Further, we as a people, must strongly resist the idea that being “objectionable” could ever be considered a crime. That is insane.)

I completely agree that these crackdowns of the NZ government are ¨crazy¨ and ¨insane¨. Indeed, for comparison: In Holland you may go to jail for 8 years for murdering someone.
In the current New Zealand you are threatened with 10 years of jail for owning and sharing a video with news.

Besides, that is not only ¨crazy¨ and ¨insane¨: It is quite sick (but see above).

Here is more on the quite arbitrary nature of New Zealand government´s terrorism:

Of course many publications posted some small sections of that document. None of the mainstream outlets have been blocked. Facebook live-streamed the video – Facebook isn’t blocked. These “crackdowns” on the internet never hurt the internet giants, they are directed solely at the fringe.

Quite so, or so it seems. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

We don’t know all the facts of the terrorist attack – whether it really was a lone lunatic, or another example of state-backed terror – there’s no knowing exactly what happened yet. But whatever proves to be the case, there is absolutely no denying that the NZ government is already using it as excuse to overreach and shut down dissent and free speech on the internet.

This will spread. Parliament and congress and all the others will come together to demand “action” from internet giants, and google will further fix their algorithm to push mainstream outlets to the front, and sideline the alternative. Facebook and twitter will increasingly shadowban or quarantine pages – putting up bulkheads to prevent information flowing to the wrong places.

“Hate speech” will become a “crime” punishable by being denied access to the internet, or fined huge amounts of money…the exact legal definition of this “hate speech” will be fuzzy and vague. Shifting to meet government needs.

I fear this is all quite correct, 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 3 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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