April 15, 2019

Crisis: Ecuador & Assange, Criminalization, Ellsberg & Assange, On McConnell, Ordinary People

“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 April 15, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Monday, April 15, 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 April 15, 2019:
1. Lawyer: Ecuador Is Spreading Lies About Assange
2. Julian Assange and the Criminalization of Journalism

3. Daniel Ellsberg on the Importance of Julian Assange

4. How McConnell is Killing the Senate

5. Bully Donald’s Firings: Why Do They Slink Away & Stay Silent?
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. Lawyer: Ecuador Is Spreading Lies About Assange

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

A lawyer representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Sunday that Ecuador’s government has spread lies about his behavior inside its embassy in London, where Assange sought asylum in 2012.

Lawyer Jennifer Robinson told British TV network Sky News the Ecuadorian government is spreading falsehoods to divert attention from its decision to revoke his asylum and allow his arrest at its British embassy.

“I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy,” Robinson said.

The Latin American country has claimed Assange’s actions deteriorated before his arrest Thursday and included putting excrement on walls, leaving soiled laundry in the bathroom and not properly looking after his cat.

Well... I believe Assange's lawyer. As to Assange's asserted misbehavior: Firstly, I don't believe it without evidence (which very probably will remain absent), and secondly, even if it were true, how can you compare these actions with the betrayal-for-money that Moreno did?

And I also have a remark about Assange's personality: I never met him, never talked or mailed with him, and effectively do not know him at all, indeed neither in his official life nor in his personal life.

I think that is the same for almost everybody else judging Assange. For me this means that while I like his actions (in his official capacity, as leader of Wikileaks) I simply don't know him as a person.

Back to the article:

Moreno said Assange abused Ecuador’s goodwill, mistreated embassy staff and used his perch to try to interfere in other country’s political affairs.

Assange has had “a very difficult time” since Moreno took office in Ecuador in 2017, Robinson said.

Assange, who appeared much older when he emerged from the embassy than when before he sought refuge there in August 2012, is in custody at Belmarsh Prison in southeast London awaiting sentencing in Britain for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden as part of an investigation of a rape allegation. Sweden is considering reviving the investigation.

Yes, this is all true, though I disbelieve Moreno (who got funded with over 4 billion US dollars, that may have been offered to him to betray Assange, although I do not know this for a fact).

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

Assange has denied the rape allegation, asserting the sex was consensual. He also has not formally responded to the U.S. conspiracy charge. His indictment was made public hours after his Thursday arrest, but Assange’s lawyers say he is a legitimate journalist whose prosecution would have a chilling effect.

The extradition court in Britain will not be judging the evidence against him, but will evaluate whether the crime he is accused of would be a crime in Britain.

Assange’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 2. In the meantime, he is expected to seek prison medical care for severe shoulder pain and dental problems, WikiLeaks has said.

Yes again, and this is a recommended article.

2. Julian Assange and the Criminalization of Journalism

This article is by Marjorie Cohn on Truthdig and originally on Truthout. It starts as follows:

After living under a grant of asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for nearly seven years, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was forcibly ejected and arrested by British police on April 11. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, accused Assange of “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.” After an anonymous source revealed the “INA Papers,” a dossier that implicated Moreno in money laundering and contained personal photos of his family, WikiLeaks tweeted about it but denied any connection to the hacking.

Yes indeed, and in fact this is a fairly long and good article that tries to get some of the background of Assange and his recent arrest clarified.

As to Lenin Moreno: What he claimed is bullshit, while it is true that he has been accused of money laundering. I do not know whether that is true.

Here is some more from this article:

Assange’s arrest comes thanks to the Trump administration’s decision to pursue WikiLeaks. The Obama administration refrained from indicting Assange for fear of establishing “a precedent that could chill investigative reporting about national security matters by treating it as a crime,” according to Charlie Savage of The New York Times. Obama’s government had difficulty distinguishing between what WikiLeaks did and what traditional news media organizations like the Times “do in soliciting and publishing information they obtain that the government wants to keep secret,” Savage wrote. News organizations, including the Times, published articles that drew on documents WikiLeaks had published in 2010, including “logs of significant combat events in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

But the Trump administration decided to come after Assange. In 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo said, “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service.”

Yes indeed, and Obama was right in (not) doing what he did with respect to Wikileaks. Then again, for Trump most or all of the (U.S.) press is his enemy, so it is not very amazing that he attacks Wikileaks, even if this might harm all of the American press.

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

Assange’s April 11 arrest was based on two grounds: failure to appear on a British warrant in 2012, and a warrant of extradition to face indictment in the United States. After his arrest, Assange was taken before a British judge and pleaded not guilty to failing to surrender to the court in 2012. District Judge Michael Snow convicted Assange, who now faces 12 months in prison in the U.K. for that offense. This is unrelated to the charges Assange would face in the United States. The indictment says Manning provided WikiLeaks with 90,000 “war-related significant activity reports” about Afghanistan, 400,000 about Iraq, 800 Guantánamo detainee “assessment briefs” and 250,000 U.S. State Department cables. WikiLeaks published the vast majority in 2010 and 2011. The indictment alleges Assange helped Manning attempt to crack a password to make it harder to identify Manning as the source of the classified information.

Yes, this is also true, or so it seems. And incidentally, if Wikileaks had not reported on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is extremely doubtful that anyone else would have reported them. And as I said, this is a fairly long and good article that tries to get some of the background of Assange and his recent arrest clarified, and it is strongly recommended.

3. Daniel Ellsberg on the Importance of Julian Assange

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. In fact, it is a repeat of an earlier interview with Ellsberg. I will quote two bits from the introduction to the interview and one bit from the interview.

In a 2010 piece, Scheer writes:

All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases … It is unconscionable to target Assange for publishing documents on the Internet that mainstream media outlets have attested had legitimate news value. As in the historic case in which Daniel Ellsberg gave The New York Times the Pentagon Papers exposé of the official lies justifying the Vietnam War, Assange is acting as the reporter here, and thus his activities must be shielded by the First Amendment’s guarantee of journalistic freedom.

… It is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of what every American president has claimed is our inalienable, God-given right to a free press, not to join in Assange’s defense on this issue, as distinct from what increasingly appear to be trumped-up charges that led to his voluntary arrest on Tuesday in London in a case involving his personal behavior. Abandon Assange and you abandon the bedrock of our republic: the public’s right to know.

Yes indeed: I quite agree. Here is more by Scheer, this time after Assange's (latest) arrest:

Writing to Truthdig staff members as news of Assange’s arrest broke Thursday, Scheer reiterated his unwavering position:

This is a freedom of the press case period. Assange is being punished for courageously doing his job as a journalist who is the subject of one of the most dangerous witch-hunts in U.S. history precisely because he revealed information that the American public had a compelling right and need to know revealing U.S. government war crimes.

Yes, I completely agree with the above.

Here is the last bit that I quote, and this is from the interview, and is about ordinary people, to which I do not belong (as a child of two communists, and a grandson of another communist, with a father and grandfather convicted as "political terrorists" in 1941, during the Nazi occupation of Holland, which killed my grandfather and caused my father over 3 years and 9 months in four German concentration camps).

Here is Ellsberg's statement on ordinary people:

DE: Yes, we’re all good Germans, to a very good first approximation, and second approximation, and third approximation. That’s what “decent” means – decent Germans, decent Americans, ordinary people will–and I put it in terms of the government, but look at corporations. To keep their job, to keep their career, or just more generally to keep a privileged status, a membership. Like being white versus nonwhite, and to show, and to keep the sense that is superior. Or to be male versus womanly and unmanly. People will do, humans will do–almost all of them, not quite all–but almost all of them will do anything to avoid losing that membership and being ostracized.

I completely agree with Ellsberg - and see my ordinary men in my Philosophical Dictionary - and I admit (and am proud) that my parents and grandparents were definitely not ordinary people. And this is a recommended article.

4. How McConnell is Killing the Senate

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows (and is not about Assange):

Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the worlds greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

I think Reich is correct about McConnell. Here is some more on him:

Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the Supreme Court) to require simple majorities.

In response, McConnell fumed that “breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American.“ If so, McConnell is about as un-American as they come. Once back in control of the Senate he buried Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by refusing even to hold hearings.

I also think the above is correct. Here is some more on McConnell:

Step by step, McConnell has sacrificed the Senate as an institution to partisan political victories.

There is a vast difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms of our democracy, and winning by subverting those norms.

I agree again, and especially with the second paragraph. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

In terms of shaping the federal courts, McConnell has played “the long game”, which, incidentally, is the title of his 2016 memoir. Decades from now, McConnell will still be shaping the nation through judges he rammed through the Senate.

But McConnell’s long game is destroying the Senate.

He is longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans in history but Mitch McConnell is no leader. He is the epitome of unprincipled power. History will not treat him kindly.

Perhaps, although I hold no opinions on how "history" will judge McConnell. And this is a recommended article.

5. Bully Donald’s Firings: Why Do They Slink Away & Stay Silent?

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Snarling Donald Trump, after being selected as President by the Electoral College, brought one undeniable quality to the office – a lifetime of bullying people below him. During his career as a failed gambling czar and corporate welfare king, deceitful Donald bullied his employees, (many of whom are undocumented), consumers, and creditors (profitably jumping ship before he bankrupted his shareholders).

He honed his bullying skills through his television program – The Apprentice – where he dramatically kicked participants off the show each week using his catchphrase, “You’re fired!”

Donald has fired many of the officials he appointed. He was, however, too cowardly and discourteous to fire his appointees directly or privately. He would fire them by tweets or have someone on his staff perform the deed, while he would publicly degrade and humiliate the same people he had often flattered.

Yes, I think this is correct. Here is some more:

After naming Jeff Sessions, his first 2016 campaign supporter in the Senate, Attorney General Trump went berserk when Sessions did the right thing and recused himself in March 2017 from supervising the Mueller probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Time and time again, Trump would publicly unleash invectives about Sessions—whom he initially showered with praise. Right after the 2018 elections, Trump sent his Chief of Staff, former General John F. Kelly, to  order Session’ resignation. Trump couldn’t muster the minimal courage to do it himself. But then what can you expect of a gung-ho war promoter who evaded the draft after he graduated from a military academy.

Soon it was Kelly’s turn. Trump harangued Kelly privately and publicly for months – Kelly told associates that he had never been treated so crudely. Trump pushed Kelly out. Before that he pushed out his once praised Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, whom he later called “dumb as a rock.”

I think the above is also correct, and I note that Tillerson, Kelly and Sessions all have been described by the mainstream - corporatist - media as persons whose sanity and calmth would keep Trump in check.

Well, whatever is true about their person, they failed. Here is some more:

What is remarkable is that after most of these people are “unceremoniously expelled” and their reputations damaged, they slink away without fighting back. (The fired VA chief did make the rounds of TV interviews for a week making his case).

The fired officials are not without their circles of significant influence. They have serious fears about Trump’s impulsiveness, his indifference to pressing realities, his weaknesses for flatterers and Donald Trump’s dangerous agenda for our country. James Comey has been writing op-eds critical of Trump, but not urging any mobilization of his establishment colleagues against Trump’s re-election.
None of this should diminish the declared patriotic aversion of former Trump administration officials to what Trump is doing to the country on many fronts. What they can do is start a third party Republican-style challenge to Trump and give more than a few million, reasonable, and troubled Republicans a place to go in 2020.

No, I don't thinks so these people (or others who have been fired by Trump) will do so, and the main reason why I think they will not is - as explained above - that they are ordinary people compared with my parents and grandparents. And 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 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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