March 24, 2019

Crisis: Threat Within, On Nuremberg Trials, Brexit Rethink, Democrats´ Undemocracy, On The ICC

“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 March 24, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, March 24, 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 24, 2019:
1. The Threat Within
2. The U.S. Deserves Its Own Nuremberg Trials

3. One Million+ March in UK to Demand Brexit Rethink

4. The DCCC’s Undemocratic Decision

5. U.S. to ICC: We Will Break Your Legs
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 Threat Within

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


Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and federal law enforcement agencies have equated terrorism with Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other international extremist groups. As a result, many Americans have come to view terrorism as a uniquely Muslim phenomenon.

In the past week, news coverage has focused on horrific massacres at two New Zealand mosques, where 50 people were killed by a white supremacist. But these were only the latest in a long series of attacks that have gained international attention since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, when another white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a young woman. In a single month last year, a Donald Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to Democratic Party leaders and critics of the president, and a man walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and gunned down 11 worshippers in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. In the wake of these violent acts, the conversation about terrorism in the United States has slowly shifted to domestic extremists.

“The Threat Within” examines how the arbitrary nature of federal terrorism prosecutions has warped our understanding of ideologically inspired violence in the United States.

Read the Stories

Well... in fact it is Sunday today, which still has the least News of the week, and I decided this time to draw the attention of my readers to a series on The Intercept. The series consists of five parts, and you can read all of them starting here: Read the Stories.

I do not know yet whether I am going to review any of it, but that decision (or lack of a decision) is mostly due to my decision that I review at most 5 articles a day in Nederlog (which again has to do with the facts that I have been ill for over 40 years and am nearly 69).

In any case, I like the idea of the series, although I also have a comment, which is this:

When I read that (because of how the US government present its cases) ¨
As a result, many Americans have come to view terrorism as a uniquely Muslim phenomenon¨ my own reaction is that - if so - as many Americans must be quite stupid or quite ignorant and very probably both.

I am sorry if you disagree, but this seems to me to be a simple fact. Here is some more on the series:

An Intercept analysis of federal prosecutions since 9/11 found that the Justice Department has routinely declined to bring terrorism charges against right-wing extremists, even when their alleged crimes appear to have met the legal definition of domestic terrorism: ideologically motivated acts that are harmful to human life and intended to intimidate civilians, influence policy, or change government conduct. According to The Intercept’s review, the Justice Department applied anti-terrorism laws against only 34 of the 268 right-wing extremists prosecuted for such crimes in federal court since 9/11. In the same period, they used those laws against more than 500 alleged international terrorists.
What is abundantly clear from our analysis of this data is that terrorism is a political construct. “The Threat Within” demonstrates that what critics of the Patriot Act predicted has come to pass: The country’s anti-terrorism laws have been used disproportionately to punish people whose political views are unpopular or perceived as foreign.

I take it most of the above is correct, although I also stick to what I wrote above: If you are an American who presently believes that (I quote from the previous quotation) ¨terrorism [i]s a uniquely Muslim phenomenon¨ I think you do not know the meaning of the term ¨terrorism¨ nor anything about history.

Also, I think the above is mistaken when it says ¨ What is abundantly clear from our analysis of this data is that terrorism is a political construct¨: No, for the ¨terrorism¨ that the American government admits is based on a very partial definition, and also seems to pretend as if the only thing that matters is what Americans think.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The Intercept’s reporting for this series was informed by the collection and analysis of data for federal prosecutions of domestic extremists since 9/11. Contributing writer Trevor Aaronson and researcher Margot Williams examined hundreds of prosecutions to identify crimes that appear to have met the Patriot Act definition of domestic terrorism: “acts dangerous to human life” intended to intimidate civilians or influence government in the service of a domestic extremist ideology. A second analysis, of federal prosecutions of radical environmentalists and animal rights activists, included cases that were prosecuted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act or its precursor, or described publicly by the Justice Department as domestic terrorism. The Intercept’s data can be downloaded for analysis from GitHub.
I think the above is the correct procedure, and this is a recommended article. 

2. The U.S. Deserves Its Own Nuremberg Trials

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

Are Americans capable of committing atrocities on the same scale as Germans did under Nazi rule? That is the question that University of San Francisco ethics professor Rebecca Gordon and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer grapple with in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” Gordon, author of “Mainstreaming Torture” and “American Nuremberg,” posits that if America’s actions in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, were to be scrutinized the way Nazi Germany’s crimes were probed in the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. would likely also be found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Well... I am quite capable of believing that ¨Americans [are] capable of committing atrocities on the same scale as Germans did under Nazi rule¨ but then again I know quite a bit about WW II (in which my grandfather was murdered by the Nazis and my father spent more than 3 years and 9 months in German concentration camps, both for being in the resistance), and in WW II around 73 million people were killed, and while I do not like the American war crimes since the end of WW II at all, I certainly do not believe they killed 73 million persons, even if I count Korea (in the early 1950ies) and Vietnam.

Besides, there is another difficulty (which is not at all discussed in this article), namely that the Nuremberg Trials were both judicially and morally rather special. I shall not discuss this either, but I do want to make the remark.

Here is some more:

Robert Scheer: [Y]ou wrote two very important books, maybe the most important in some ways. One is called Mainstreaming Torture, and another is called American Nuremberg. So the question I want to ask you, you know, because we’ve always treated the crimes of others, particularly the Germans, the worst crimes of modern history, as an aberration in the development of the human race. Those people went berserk, crazy, and they were evil; now we have another category, Muslims are evil, they do terrible things. We’re recording this on a day where in New Zealand, some 48 people trying to practice their religion were killed. So we see a lot of crime against Muslims, as there was obviously a lot of crimes against Jews and other people.

I read neither book. Then again, since I do know a fair amount of history, I do not think that ¨the Germans¨ in WW II committed ¨the worst crimes of modern history¨ (other than numerically, indeed) and formed ¨an aberration in the development of the human race¨. Similar things happened throughout human history, though indeed not quite on the same scale.

Here is some more:
Rebecca Gordon: (..) [C]oming to Nuremberg, what I was trying to do in the book is to say how important the principle was that was established at Nuremberg, which is that international law is real law. And when you break international law, there are genuine consequences, and people can and should be held accountable. So what I looked at was the conduct of this so-called War on Terror in the post-September 11th period, and asked: Could the United States be accused of the same categories of crimes for which the Nazi leadership were held accountable? And there were three categories that were established by the prosecution, and these were crimes against peace; ordinary war crimes, which had already been well described in the body of international law; and a new category, crimes against humanity, which was created in order to take in the enormity of what had been done in Europe by the Nazis.
Yes, this is mostly correct - and Gordon is also correct that there was ¨the principle was that was established at Nuremberg, which is that international law is real law¨, and something similar holds for ¨crimes against humanity¨.

Here is some more:

RG: And of course the Bush-Cheney administration very early on decided to create a third, nonexistent category called unlawful combatants. But this designation doesn’t exist in the International Red Cross’s understanding; it doesn’t exist in the Geneva Convention’s. It was just a convenient way of saying this particular group of people, whoever it is that we choose to capture, detain forever, torture–they have no legal standing in the world. They exist outside of international law.

Yes indeed - and I quite agree this was a crime. Here is some more:

RG: But in fact, in Iraq, we don’t know because there are many different counts, but anywhere between 500,000 and a million people have died in the U.S. invasion and occupation in Iraq. And when you lay that against the 3,000 people who died on September 11th, none of whom were killed by anyone even from Iraq, you also see that we have violated another rule of just war theory, which is proportionality. We have destroyed human life out of all proportion.

Yes again, although there would be quite a lot to say on the assumptions being made here, which I will again not do here and now.

Here is more:

RS: American exceptionalism–I’ve mentioned this a number of times on this podcast–to my mind, is a really, it’s the most profound problem that American people have to face.

RG: It’s a vicious idea. And it’s been taken up in different ways by both the liberal democratic world, and by the, you know, the hard right in this country. The idea that by definition, the United States can do no wrong, because we are the leader of the so-called free world. Which is a locution I don’t even understand anymore, given that we’re not competing anymore with the unfree communist world that supposedly we were in opposition to. But the idea that–and this was the argument, actually, that the Bush administration made about torture. By definition, the United States is a country that does not torture. Therefore, whatever it is that you are observing, it cannot be torture, because that would be a logical contradiction, because we are the nation that doesn’t do that.
Yes indeed: I think Scheer was quite right when he said that ¨American exceptionalism (..) [is] the most profound problem that American people have to face¨.

And I think Gordon´s reply also is adequate. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
RG:  And if there’s one virtue I would like to see developed, and that I try to develop in my own students, it’s this virtue of practical wisdom, where you actually are responsible for what the effects of your actions can reasonably be foreseen to be. And this is something that we in the United States really don’t have. It’s trained out of us, we don’t have it. And part of it, yes, is that capacity to understand that the ability to do evil things exists in all of us, and it’s also to understand that when you multiply that capacity by the technological and economic power that a country like the United States has, the results–well, the results could be the end of human society, because of climate change. I mean, the results are so terrible, and we need to be able to see it.

I think I agree more with Gordon than not, but I do like to point out that (i) every adult is ¨responsible for what the effects of your actions can reasonably be foreseen to be¨ under virtually any legal system, and quite regardless of ¨this virtue of practical wisdom¨, and also that (ii) I do not believe that ¨this is something that we in the United States really don’t have¨, for the simple reason that most Americans keep to the American laws, especially if they know they are observed. But this is a recommended article.

3. One Million+ March in UK to Demand Brexit Rethink

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

With the right-wing U.K. government of Prime Minister Theresa May under fire for the chaos unleashed by failed Brexit negotiations—and a final deadline swiftly approaching—more than a million people took to the streets of London and other cities on Saturday as part of "People's Vote" demonstrations demanding a new referendum on whether or not the country should leave the European Union.

According to the Independent: the estimate of over one million demonstrators, "provided by the People's Vote UK, would make it the biggest march to be held in the UK since the Iraq War protest in 2003."

I say, and I do believe the above is correct. Here is some more:

According to BBC:

The streets around Park Lane were teeming with people hours ahead of the march's scheduled 1pm start, having come from all corners of the country - and some from further beyond.

The blue and yellow of the EU was splashed all over the ever-expanding crowd, which was full of groups of families, friends, colleagues and political groups.

Many people came draped in flags and carried homemade signs, featuring slogans ranging from playful - "Never gonna give EU up" - to political - "Forget the Ides of March - beware the Brexit of May". And then there were the plain angry - "Brexit is treason".

And this article (which has a lot of Tweets, which I dislike) ends as follows:

Rob Worthy, a 62-year-old unemployed grandfather told the BBC he was not the typical political activist, but said the demonstration was vital for the nation's future.

"This is the first time in my life at the age of 62 that I've come to something to make a statement because I see no future for this country, for my kids or my grandkids," Worthy said. "It's just a total mess so I thought I've got to make a stand."

He is just one man, but I quite agree that Brexit at present is ¨a total mess¨. And this is a recommended article.

4. The DCCC’s Undemocratic Decision

This article is by Elizabeth Bruenig on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced that it will refuse to do business with vendors or consultants who support Democrats attempting to primary incumbent Democrats in blue districts. Firms that contract with the DCCC learned of its decision via a list of new hiring standards sent out Friday morning. “The core mission of the DCCC is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents,” the form reads. “To that end, the DCCC will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting Member of the House Democratic Caucus.”

I have commented on this before, and my general response is that (i) I completely agree with the title: This is an undemocratic and indeed an anti-democratic decision, that (ii) smells far too much as if the elected House Democrats are all of a quite different and considerably better class than any of their opponents (who try to take their positions, by getting elected by the common people of the USA), and that (iii) is utter rot and totally undemocratic bullshit. (Though I do also have a somewhat dark guess about what the elected House Democrats mean when they suggest that they are all of a considerably better class than their opponents: They mean that the majority of them are corrupt, and that they love that.)

Here is some more from this article:

The DCCC’s move to undercut primary challengers comes at a particularly ironic moment for the Democrats: 2020 candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have advanced the idea of abolishing the electoral college in order to empower the popular vote; meanwhile, Andrew Gillum has launched a massive voter registration drive in Florida; and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is pushing back against voter suppression in her state. It would be fair to characterize the 2020 Democratic message as primarily centering on the importance of democracy itself, with due focus on enacting the will of the people.

Well... I think I would have said or added that ¨It would be fair to characterize the 2020 DCCC´s  message as primarily centering on the UNimportance of democracy itself, withOUT ANY focus on enacting the will of the people.¨

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

But the DCCC’s decision, and establishment Democrats’ placid acceptance of it, call into question just how serious the party of democracy is about the practice of democracy. The committee doubtlessly has its reasons for jealously protecting its incumbents, but its members should ask themselves if those reasons ought to supersede the voters’ right to choose among candidates in free and fair elections carried out on even fields.

Well... again I am a bit more radical (it seems) than the writer of this article, for I think that - in a real democracy, at least - there are NO ¨reasons¨ to ¨supersede the voters’ right to choose among candidates in free and fair elections carried out on even fields¨, for that is an essential part of what ¨democracy¨ means. And this is a recommended article.

5. U.S. to ICC: We Will Break Your Legs

This article is by Andre Vltchek on the Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:

Well, not exactly like that, but in a way, yes. Now, finally, ‘the gloves are off’. The U.S. is openly threatening the historically timid ICC (International Criminal Court) and its judges. And unexpectedly, the ICC is hitting back. It refuses to shut up, to kneel, and to beg for mercy.

Suddenly, even the Western mass media outlets cannot conceal the aggressive mafia-style outbursts of the U.S. government officials. On March 15, Reuters reported:

The United States will withdraw or deny visas to any International Criminal Court personnel investigating possible war crimes by U.S. forces or allies in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

The court, which sits in The Hague, responded that it was an independent and impartial institution and would continue to do its work “undeterred” by Washington’s actions.

I agree that the title of this article is a bit strong, and I agree with the rest of the above, and indeed I also think that the International Criminal Court did have no other reply than it gave, if it is to be taken seriously, which I think it is.

Here is some more:

Washington took the first step on Friday with Pompeo’s announcement.

“I’m announcing a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel,” Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent.”

And so it goes… Mike Pompeo’s arrogant facial expression appeared above countless reports and it said it all: the world has to listen to the US dictates, or else!

Or in other terms: We Americans (who love Pompeo) disagree with international law, and say Fuck You to it. For this is what is happening.

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

Human Rights Watch called it “a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators” at the ICC.

“The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability,” it said. “Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked.”

Amnesty International described the move as “the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents three people before the ICC who say they were tortured in Afghanistan, called the decision “misguided and dangerous” and “an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day.”

Yes indeed: I completely agree, and this is a 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 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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