March 30, 2019

Crisis: Senate Vote on Climate Plan, Chelsea Manning, Mueller Report, Surveillance Capitalism, Slane

“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 30, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 30, 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 30, 2019:
1. Senate Vote Against Climate Plan Was Attempt to Stifle Growing

2. Chelsea Manning Has Sacrificed Everything Twice

3. Redacted Mueller Report Expected to Be Released by Mid-April

4. Surveillance capitalism is the newest threat to democracy

5. Mueller Finally Gives up His Two Year Search
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. Senate Vote Against Climate Plan Was Attempt to Stifle Growing Momentum

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

In a move Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called a “bluff vote,” the Senate rejected the Green New Deal on Tuesday, after 43 Democrats voted “present” on the measure introduced by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Four other Democrats joined all 53 Republican senators in voting against the Green New Deal. As Democrats blast McConnell’s move to push the procedural vote, we speak to one of the lead policy writers for the Green New Deal, a proposal to transform the U.S. economy by funding renewable energy while ending U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Rhiana Gunn-Wright is the policy director for the nonprofit New Consensus.

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah ridiculed the Green New Deal. During a 14-minute speech on the Senate floor, he showed a series of fantastical images that included former President Ronald Reagan riding a dinosaur and Aquaman on a giant purple sea horse. Lee also evokes Luke Skywalker from Star Wars riding a tauntaun, a mythical snow lizard, to belittle the Green New Deal.

Yes indeed. I shall not copy a part of the speech by the idiot Mike Lee, but you can find it in the original, which is here.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: What happened? And why did the Democrats abstain?

RHIANA GUNN-WRIGHT: Right. So, Mitch McConnell, or, I should say, Majority Leader McConnell, decided that he wanted to do this vote a while back, when the Green New Deal started to pick up steam. And this was the fruition. It actually got pushed back once or twice. And from my estimation—I focus on policy, so I’m not an expert on the political side—was that it was really an effort to embarrass Democrats, to show cracks in support for the Green New Deal, and essentially to try to stop the momentum.

No, I do not think that this "was really an effort to embarrass Democrats". I think it is considerably more likely that this was an effort to show that the majority of the presently elected Democrats in the Senate are against the Green New Deal (incidentally, a whole lot better than "the GND"), and it completely succeeded, at least in the Senate: No Democrat in the Senate supported the Green New Deal.

Here is some more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, what do you know about what Democrats—at the moment, what their opposition to the Green New Deal is?

RHIANA GUNN-WRIGHT: Largely, it’s that the resolution is a nonbinding resolution that sets out goals and doesn’t have policy specifics right now. And so that is the main opposition. And my understanding, I think there are some fears also about cost and feasibility from particular senators. But I think it’s also important to recognize that all of the senators who are currently running for president have backed the Green New Deal.

Again I think Gunn-Wright is mistaken: It is not so much that "the resolution is a nonbinding resolution that sets out goals and doesn’t have policy specifics right now", but it is that the Democrats in the Senate are against any Green New Deal.

Then again, she is right that "all of the senators who are currently running for president have backed the Green New Deal" - which shows a considerable difference between what the Democratic senators want and what the voters for the Democrats want.

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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what about the fact that Republicans have been saying such bizarre things about the Green New Deal? I mean, we just saw, you know, a dinosaur and a tauntaun and so on. So, you know, what is that about, and how can you possibly combat that?

RHIANA GUNN-WRIGHT: Right. Well, the reality is they’re not taking this seriously. They’re not taking this threat seriously.

No, I am sorry but I disagree again with Gunn-Wright: The Republicans indeed are "saying such bizarre things about the Green New Deal" but not because they do not take it serious, but because they are afraid of what a worked out Green New Deal may mean in the presidential elections of 2020. And there is considerably more in the present article, that is recommended, although I am not impressed by Gunn-Wright.

2. Chelsea Manning Has Sacrificed Everything Twice

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. This is from near the start of the article:

Since returning to prison on March 8, Manning has spent 22 hours each day in total isolation at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., according to the advocacy group Chelsea Resists. “Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material,” the group wrote in a statement last week. “She has not been outside for 16 days. She is permitted to make phone calls and move about outside her cell between 1 and 3 a.m.”

Manning is currently incarcerated for refusing to testify before a grand jury in an ongoing federal investigation of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Judge Claude Hilton of Federal District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia has ordered that she remain detained until she decides to testify or the grand jury completes its work. In a statement of motion, her attorneys have raised the possibility that her subpoena was an act of reprisal, arguing that “[t]he President of the United States himself tweeted that Ms. Manning ‘should never have been released.’ ” Manning has pledged to fight the secrecy of the court’s proceedings and to “exhaust every legal remedy available.”

Yes indeed: I think all of the above is (very probably) true, including the notion that Manning's "subpoena was an act of reprisal", which is - in my opinion, without proof - probably correct.

Here is some more:

This is not the first time Manning has put her physical and psychological health at risk on behalf of the American public. In 2010, the intelligence officer who then identified as Bradley was found guilty under the Espionage Act after turning over upward of 750,000 classified or otherwise sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks. Those documents revealed, among other atrocities, that it was official U.S. policy to ignore torture in Iraq, and that the majority of inmates at Guantanamo Bay are either innocent or low-level operatives. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison but served just seven and a half after receiving a commutation from Barack Obama shortly before he left office.

Yes indeed, although I think the "just" in "served just seven and a half" (years) is a bit of a mistake. Here is some more:

Daniel Ellsberg, who risked a life sentence to leak the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times as an analyst at the Rand Corp., believes that Manning is nothing less than an American hero. “Manning knowingly risked her freedom then for truth-telling and actually suffered seven and a half years in prison,” he recently told Truthout’s Marjorie Cohn. “I admire her for what she is doing, risking and enduring right now.”

That she is willing to withstand prison a second time, despite being granted immunity for her testimony, is a testament to her courage.

Yes indeed. Here is the ending of the present article:

Prior to his order, Manning told Hilton that she will “accept whatever you bring upon me.” That has meant re-entering prison without knowing when she might be released, along with weeks on end under dehumanizing conditions. For her remarkable bravery, for her willingness to defy a U.S. government that seems to grow more hostile to whistleblowers with each successive administration, Manning is our Truthdigger of the Month.

I agree and this is a recommended article.

3. Redacted Mueller Report Expected to Be Released by Mid-April

This article is by Michael Balsamo and Erick Tucker on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation will be sent to Congress by mid-April and will not be shared with the White House beforehand, Attorney General William Barr said Friday.

Barr’s timeline, included in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, sets up a possible showdown with House Democrats, who are insisting they see the full report next week.

Yes indeed. And I think it is somewhat good to know that part of Mueller's report will be known (to members of Congress, at least), while it is rather bad to know that Barr will redact the report, which I think should be published in full.

Here is some more:

Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with Russia, Barr wrote, and did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided on their own that Mueller’s evidence was insufficient to establish that the president committed obstruction.

Barr said he is preparing to redact multiple categories of information from the report and Mueller is helping the Justice Department identify sections that will be blacked out in the public version.

OK. This is slightly more precise, though I think that the report should be shown in full.

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

Barr’s letter drew a quick — and critical — response from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who had demanded the full Mueller report by April 2.

Nadler, D-N.Y., said that deadline still stands and called on Barr to join him in working to get a court order allowing the release of grand jury information to the committee, rather than spending “valuable time and resources” keeping portions of the report from Congress.

“There is ample precedent for the Department of Justice sharing all of the information that the Attorney General proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees,” Nadler said in a statement. “Again, Congress must see the full report.”

I agree with Nadler and this is a recommended article.

4. Surveillance capitalism is the newest threat to democracy

This article is by WhoWhatWhy on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The rule of Big Brother has begun, and we are all enabling this new authoritative regime, critics charge.

We are empowering “surveillance capitalists” by revealing our every thought, word, and deed through our networked devices — our cars, cell phones, laptops, notepads, sensors, and voice-activated speakers (which do as much listening as speaking) such as Google’s Alexa and Amazon’s Echo.

So say certain politicians including Canadian Member of Parliament Charlie Angus and academics such as Harvard Business School professot Shoshana Zuboff. They foresee a new type of business model, referred to as surveillance capitalism. They claim it is currently practiced by tech giants Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and that it is threatening the social compact that underlies democratic capitalism.

But their concerns go far beyond data privacy and identity theft.

Well... mostly no, which I say not so much because the above is false, but because it is very incomplete:

First of all, "t
he rule of Big Brother" began when the internet was opened, and not nearly 30 years later.

Second, indeed it was and still is
"the rule of Big Brother", that is, the state and its (anonymous and mostly secret) security organizations, who also got access to everything anyone writes on a computer connected with the internet, thereby completely destroying all privacies of anyone with an internet connection (which now also is more or less forced, because almost all services that existed before the internet are being terminated).

Third, while I think Zuboff is mostly right, in my own diagnosis from 2012 - which is: "
Crisis: Christmas sermon: Hypotheses about CF+SS" - I called it "corporate fascism" rather than
"the surveillance state", for the simple reason corporate fascism seems a much better name than
"the surveillance state", because I do not see what else it can be when all privacies of anyone have been totally destroyed and have been replaced by constantly being watched over by machines or anonymous persons who can control absolutely anything one writes on the internet, and who know everything one did, said, wrote, did or valued.

Here is some more:

In this brave new world, where the Internet of Everything enables the capture of vast amounts of behavioral data, a new breed of competitors has realized that the intelligence they can capture on their customers may be more valuable than the products and services they offer.

When combined with other sources of information, these troves of data can be manipulated by AI and machine learning platforms, creating descriptions of who we are, and predictions of what we will buy, what we will do, and whom we will vote for.

Yes, but once again: First, there was the internet which, as it was designed, was designed to destroy all privacies of everyone. (One proof of this is here: Brzezinski effectively predicting in the late 1960ies that the internet would destroy all privacies of everyone connected to it.)

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

In her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, Zuboff defines surveillance capitalism as “a new economic order that claims human experience as a free source of raw material” to be mined and exploited to expand power and control.

As Angus frames it: “The problem is the unprecedented economic control of every form of social discourse and communication.”

In the classic “Invisible Hand” theory of free-market capitalism, individuals’ pursuit of their own self-interest ends up producing tangible benefits for the society as a whole. In surveillance capitalism, cold, calculated manipulation replaces the aggregated choices of a large number of freely acting individuals.

No, I am sorry: This is again far too partial. I also must say, before going on, that I still have not read Zuboff's book, but even so:

Firstly, Zuboff may have defined "surveillance capitalism" as "
a new economic order that claims human experience as a free source of raw material" (?!) but I define corporate fascism as being based on a social order that is such that extremely few men in the government or the security organizations know absolutely everything (in principle) about absolutely anyone absolutely everywhere.

That is THE model for absolute terrorism, as Hitler's Germany and the Soviet Union have shown, when not 1/10,000th part or much less was known about everyone by the Gestapo and the KGB.

Second, while Angus was right, and indeed Zuboff was right, that the derived possibility of the complete "
economic control of every form of social discourse and communication" was implicit in the state's intentional destruction of all personal privacy, the state's intentional destruction of all personal privacy came first and was and is basic.

And third, while the third quoted paragraph is right that in "
surveillance capitalism, cold, calculated manipulation replaces the aggregated choices of a large number of freely acting individuals" I insist that corporate fascism was and is at the basis of all this, and consists in the complete denial of any private freedom of anyone using the internet: Either you think, want, desire, value and do what the state wants you to think, want, desire value or do, or else you may get arrested and disappear - as is happening in the current China.

Anyway... this is a recommended article, but it tells at most half of the real story, in my opinion.

5. Mueller Finally Gives up His Two Year Search

This article is by Rob Slane on The Off-Guardian, and originally on the Blogmire. It starts as follows:

Quelle surprise. After more than two years looking for a non-existent needle in an ever-expanding haystack, Chief Hunter of the Needle, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has finally declared that he hasn’t been able to find it. This ought to come as no surprise, because as we know non-existent needles don’t exist. Except, of course, in the minds of hundreds of foolish Democrat politicians and their dutiful stenographers in the mainstream media, or Global Pravda as it is known on this blog.

The fascinating thing about it all is that it wasn’t hard to grasp that the needle didn’t exist. It was obvious from the start.

Well... I think this article was a wrong choice by me, mostly because I do not like its prose. (Two examples: "Chief Hunter of the Needle" and "we know non-existent needles don’t exist".)

Here is one more bit:

Firstly, although I have zero time for the present incumbent of the White House, who I consider to be a man-child possessing stratospheric levels of folly, egotism and petty vindictiveness, the one commendable thing about him was that in his campaign, he seemed to be fairly keen on not starting a war with Russia. That seems to me be to be a Good Thing! True, his plan was never any more detailed than repeating the phrase,“I think we can get along” over and over, but for anyone who isn’t keen on nuclear war, it was still preferable to the sentiments of his opponent, Mrs Warmonger.

I am sorry, but I do not like this prose. 

[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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