June 13, 2019

Crisis: The U.S. Census & Elections, On Brazil, Hacking the U.S. Elections, Kiriakou & Bolton

“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 June 13, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 13, 2019.

I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing Crisis files for six years now, since I started to do so after June 10, 2013, which taught me about Snowden.

I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time.

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 13, 2019:
1. The Census: Another Brick in Trump’s White House Wall
2. How Brazil’s Elites Jailed Former President Lula
3. Microsoft and the Pentagon Are Quietly Hijacking U.S. Elections
4. John Kiriakou: Bolton’s Long Goodbye
The items 1 - 4 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 Census: Another Brick in Trump’s White House Wall

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Wednesday brought yet another demonstration of the Trump administration’s indifference to the constitutional system of checks and balances. The president asserted executive privilege over all documents requested by the House Oversight and Reform Committee in its investigation of his administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The battle over the integrity of the census has been fiery, with good reason. The addition of the question could result in a major undercount of residents in Hispanic and immigrant-heavy areas, skewing the electoral map in favor of Republicans.

Yes, I think the above is quite correct. Here is some more:
Also gnawing at Democrats: the fact that Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, appears to have lied to Congress in his March 2018 testimony regarding the question’s origins. More than two dozen states and cities are suing the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau to block the citizenship question.

Mr. Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, defying Congress’s legitimate oversight functions, came just as the House Oversight Committee was preparing a morning vote to recommend holding William Barr, the attorney general, and Mr. Ross, the secretary of commerce, in contempt of Congress for failing to provide subpoenaed documents related to the census. The vote was delayed until afternoon, but ended up with the committee passing the contempt resolution largely along party lines.
Well, that is good and sensible. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
House Democrats are right to be aggressive with their oversight demands. They have little reason to believe that Mr. Trump’s administration is operating in good faith, and he seems to have adopted a strategy similar to the one he used in business: bog things down in the courts until your opponents give up. Or, in this case, until after the 2020 election.

The legal fight to block the new census question now sits before the Supreme Court, and early signs are that it will overturn the decision of the lower courts and rule in the administration’s favor. If anything, this makes it all the more important that Congress act. As Mr. Cummings noted Wednesday, “Congress has an independent — independent — responsibility under the Constitution to oversee the census, separate from any private litigation.”

The American people need to know whether the Trump administration is manipulating the official tools of government in the service of a partisan power grab.
I agree, but I don't know whether this will succeed, although I strongly hope so. And this is a recommended article.

2. How Brazil’s Elites Jailed Former President Lula

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

A political crisis is growing in Brazil after The Intercept revealed that the judge who helped jail former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva likely aided federal prosecutors in their corruption case in an attempt to prevent Lula’s Workers’ Party from winning the presidency. Leaked cellphone messages among Brazilian law enforcement officials and other data obtained by The Intercept point to an ongoing collaboration between Judge Sérgio Moro and the prosecutors investigating a sweeping corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash. Lula was considered a favorite in the lead-up to the 2018 presidential election until he was put in jail and forced out of the race on what many say were trumped-up corruption charges. The leaked documents also reveal prosecutors had serious doubts about Lula’s guilt. The jailing of Lula helped pave the way for the election of the far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro, who then named Judge Sérgio Moro to be his justice minister. We get an update from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, whose reporting is based on a trove of internal files and private conversations from the prosecutorial team behind Operation Car Wash.

Yes indeed, and this is a good summary. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: The Intercept's reporting is based on a trove of internal files and private conversations from the prosecutorial team behind Operation Car Wash. The Intercept has dubbed the files “The Secret Brazil Archive.” As a result of The Intercept's reporting, Brazil’s Supreme Court has announced it will reconsider an appeal by Lula to be released from prison. Calls are also growing for Sérgio Moro to resign as justice minister. The Brazilian Bar Association has called for Moro to be suspended and for all prosecutors involved in the Car Wash scandal probe to be disbanded.

I say, for this is a considerable albeit initial success. Incidentally, here is a link to The Intercept's The Secret Brazil Archive”.

Here is some more:

Vermont senator, 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told The Intercept, “Today, it is clearer than ever that Lula da Silva was imprisoned in a politicized prosecution that denied him a fair trial and due process. During his presidency, Lula oversaw huge reductions in poverty and remains Brazil’s most popular politician. I stand with political and social leaders across the globe who are calling on Brazil’s judiciary to release Lula and annul his conviction,” Senator Sanders said.

We go now to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to speak with the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who broke the story.

I agree with Bernie Sanders. Here is some more:

GLENN GREENWALD: (..) So, as your audience likely knows, because I have discussed it with you many times and you’ve covered it with other guests, Brazil is a country that has been swamped by multiple political crises—the impeachment of former Workers’ Party President Dilma Rousseff, who succeeded Lula, the ascension of this far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, economic crises and the like.

But by far the biggest event in Brazil was the imprisonment last year of former President Lula da Silva, not just because he was such a giant on the world stage democratically, which he is, because he was elected overwhelmingly twice, in 2002 and 2006, and his presidency was so successful in lifting millions of people out of poverty, in transforming Brazil, that he left Brazil and—left office, I mean, with an 87% approval rating, which is unheard of. So, to put somebody like that in prison is an earth-shattering story in and of itself, but it was made all the more consequential by the fact that all polls showed that Lula, who was running again for president last year—he was term-limited out of office the first time—was the overwhelming favorite, was the massive front-runner, was ahead by 20 to 30 points in every poll, including ahead of Jair Bolsonaro. And so, to imprison Lula meant that he was rendered ineligible under the law to run, and that’s what paved the way ultimately for Jair Bolsonaro’s ascension to control over Brazil, which is the fifth most populous country in the world (..)

Yes indeed: all of this seems quite correct. Here is some more (Greenwald speaking):

The archive that was provided to us by our source, this massive trove of secret documents, about their internal communications, about their internal actions, their chats, their audios, their videos, an archive that, as I’ve said, is bigger in size than the Snowden archive was, which until that point was the largest leak in the history of U.S. journalism, bigger than that, finally enables us to see the truth about what they really did.

I say, for this is a bit amazing. I wonder a bit how Greenwald measures the size of his archive, that seems to contain a lot of taped messages, which take considerably more space than text, but OK.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is now-jailed former President Lula da Silva. The Brazilian Bar Association has called for Moro to be suspended and for all prosecutors involved in the scandal to be disbanded. Yet, as you’ve pointed out, Bolsonaro made him a kind of super justice minister, bringing together the functions of law enforcement, surveillance and investigation, which were distributed to several ministries, all under Moro’s super justice minister position, making him, as you pointed out, Glenn Greenwald, the second most powerful person in Brazil now. So what happens?

This seems fairly strong evidence that Greenwald is right. Here is some more by Greenwald:

GLENN GREENWALD: (..) [A]s you guys know, I’ve been one of the people, along with Noam Chomsky and Matt Taibbi and a few lonely others on the left, who have been skeptical of the Russiagate story, in part because we know that these agencies have a long history of lying. And the FBI and the CIA and the NSA in the U.S. were vehemently opposed to Donald Trump and wanted Hillary Clinton, because they trusted her much more. And so there was a concern always, on my part, that they were abusing their prosecutorial powers to interfere in our domestic election in the United States in order to help the candidate they wanted to win and hurt the candidate that they wanted to lose.

That seems sensible - and in fact I was also one of those who did not believe the Russiagate story from the very start, but I admit there were quite a few others, though indeed not at all a majority.

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

I believe, even with just what we’ve shown—I’m not saying Sérgio Moro is about to be put out of office, because he still has the support of Bolsonaro. He’s still crucial to the government. But certainly he’s severely damaged and weakened, and will continue to be more damaged and weakened as we reveal more. I’m not sure he can survive that. But I do think there’s a good chance that the Supreme Court will say that the conviction of Lula da Silva was a byproduct of so much impropriety that we cannot let it stand, that at the very least he needs a new trial and needs to be let out of prison while this new trial proceeds.

This seems to me a good if partial result. Also, there is considerably more in this article than I quoted, and this is also a strongly recommended article.

3. Microsoft and the Pentagon Are Quietly Hijacking U.S. Elections

This article is by Lee Camp on Truthdig. This is from not far from its beginning:

Microsoft is foisting its ElectionGuard™ software on us, but worry not that we Americans will be tied down by laborious public debate as to the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of said software. According to MintPress, “The election technology is already set to be adopted by half of voting machine manufacturers and some state governments for the 2020 general election.” Hardly any public discussion will plague our media or tax our community discourse.

Microsoft describes ElectionGuard™ as “a free open-source software development kit” that “will make voting secure, more accessible, and more efficient anywhere it’s used.”
In fact, this seems one of the ways to manipulate the American elections of 2020. Here is some more:

[A]s Webb stated: “… there is an added layer of concern given Microsoft’s past, particularly their history of working with U.S. government agencies to bypass encryption.”

So, the company setting up the encryption for our elections is a company with a resumé of helping the U.S. government break encryption.
Yes indeed. Here is some more:

Microsoft (..) are doing it in partnership with a cyber security firm called Galois. Whitney Webb again:

“Though it describes itself as “a privately held U.S.-owned and-operated company,” public records indicate that Galois’ only investors are DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the Office of Naval Research, both of which are divisions of the Department of Defense.”

Did you catch that? Galois claims to be a private company, but its only investor is the fucking Pentagon. To rephrase something you already understood in another way so that you get mildly annoyed with me: Microsoft and our war machine are taking over the American election system.

I think I agree with the above. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

MintPress further revealed Galois has a spin-off company called “Free & Fair” that creates technology for elections and worked with Microsoft to make ElectionGuard™.

Unfortunately, Free & Fair is connected to every form of neocon think tank, government agency and large corporation. They’re especially in bed with the Department of Homeland Security.

So what’s wrong with that?, you might ask.

As Webb details, “before, during and after the 2016 election, the Department of Homeland Security was caught attempting to hack into state electoral systems in at least three states — Georgia, Indiana, and Idaho — with similar accusations also made by Kentucky and West Virginia. … DHS, which initially denied it, later responded that the attempted breach was ‘legitimate business.’

I say. There is considerably more in this article, which has - in my opinion - the weakness that Camp seems to have written it initially as a comedian's piece (and he is among other things a comedian). Anyway, it is recommended.

4. John Kiriakou: Bolton’s Long Goodbye

This article is by John Kiriakou on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
Everybody in America knows that Donald Trump places a premium on what he considers to be “loyalty.” You’re either with him or against him. The White House staff has been a revolving door from virtually the start of his administration. It’s not unusual for aides to last mere weeks or months, only to then be thrown out on the street.

Trump then inevitably says something about “loyalty.”

The situation isn’t unique to just the White House political and domestic policy staff. It is just as pervasive at the National Security Council. Nobody is sacred. Remember, you’re either with him or against him. Now it’s John Bolton’s turn to find himself in a corner. I believe that his days as national security advisor are numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press.
I say, and this is new to me. Also, I am glad, for Bolton seems to me a dangerous idiot (where I do not use "idiot" in the psychologists' sense, mostly because I just do not know enough about him).

Here is some more - and Kiriakou said before this that he has quite a number of friends of differing political opinions, many of whom work or worked for the U.S. government:
Here’s what my friends are saying. Trump is concerned, like any president is near the end of his term, about his legacy. He said during the campaign that he wanted to be the president who pulled the country out of its two longest wars. He wanted to declare victory and bring the troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq. He hasn’t done that, largely at the insistence of Bolton. Here we are three years later and we’re still stuck in both of those countries.

Second, my friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.
Kiriakou is correct about Trump. I don't know that he is correct about Bolton, but I suppose he is.

Here is the ending of this article:

Trump said just a week ago that he was willing to begin talks with the Iranians “with no preconditions.” This was a major softening of U.S. policy toward Iran and it immediately drew Bolton’s ire. Indeed, The New York Times pointed out that the policy directly “overruled a longtime goal of (Trump’s) national security advisor.”

All of this has made Trump angry. He’s constantly being one-upped by one of the Washington swamp monsters he promised to rid the city of. He finally seems to have come to realize that even establishment Republicans dislike and distrust John Bolton. And now he understands why.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, has very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton. Let’s hope he finds one that he and Trump both like sooner, rather than later.
I do hope Kiriakou is correct 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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