December 16, 2015
Crisis: Hirsi Ali, Internet, No Real News, No Real Campaigns, Terror
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This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 16, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald, that is in considerable part about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, about whom I, as a Dutchman, know a lot more than most Americans (for she started her career as "a refugee" in Holland); item 2 is about the reasons why the internet is getting slower; item 3 is about how the news on the main media in the USA collapsed to single-subject propaganda; item 4 is about why the presidential campaigns, as they were before Citizen United, are now dead; and item 5 is about a possibility that officials from the Bush administration may (might?) be prosecuted for their decisions.

1. When the State Department Tries to Choose Muslim Thought Leaders to Win “Hearts and Minds”

The first item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This is from near the beginning:
How do you convince the people of that region to like you when you’ve spent decades bombing, invading, and droning them; arming and propping up the tyrants who suppress them; lavishing Israel with the weapons, money, and U.N. cover used to occupy and brutalize Palestinians; and just generally treating their countries like your own private plaything for war and profit?
The answer to this question should be clear: By massive amounts of propaganda lies. Then again, who should mouth these lies? Here is part of the answer:
One of the most embarrassing tactics is when the U.S.
government (and its media allies) select people whom they hold out to the Muslim world as the people they ought to follow; invariably, the U.S.’s selected “leaders” spout views and engage in conduct more anathema to the overwhelming majority of Muslims than the U.S. government itself is.

In fact, the US selected recently the major former Dutch fraud (she may still also carry a Dutch passport: I don't know) Ayaan Hirsi Ali - who is a fraud [1], an atheist, and a neo-conservative admirer of Dick Cheney - as their spokesperson to convert Muslims.

Glenn Greenwald asks, quite rightly:

Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali likely to be the effective messenger to the Muslim world that the State Department envisions her to be? Last year, she revealed her choice for who should win the Nobel Peace Prize: Benjamin Netanyahu. “He does what is best for the people of Israel, he does his duty,” she said. “I really think he should get the Nobel Peace Prize. In a fair world he would get it.”
But I doubt that he knows what I know about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which I know simply because she started her fraudulent career in Holland, back in 2002-2003, and there has been spent an enormous amount of ink in in Dutch papers on her status and her integrity, which was decided between 2007 and 2009: she is a clear fraud, according to most Dutchmen.

One good source on her this letter that I wrote slightly over ten years ago (!), in November of 2005, in English:
There is a whole lot more I could quote on Ali, not just by myself but by many Dutch papers, but I limit myself here to the observations that (i) her role in Holland was played out around 2009, when - after 7 years - most Dutchmen knew she was a fraud, since when (ii) she moved to the USA, where she has been ever since gracing the neoconservative propaganda-tank American Enterprises and has sat at the feet of Dick Cheney, and where she still makes money with posing as an authority on Muslims and on politics.

As I said in 2014 (when I reported the above news about her preference for Netanyahu that Glenn Greenwald also repeated):
The brief of it all is: She is a mere careerist, capable of saying anything, and when watching her sayings the best guide is to ask oneself 'how would this serve her own interests?'
2. It’s not just you: the Internet is actually getting slower

The second item is by Lulu Chang on Digital Trends:

This starts as follows (and is in fact from June 2015: I didn't notice it before):
You’re not getting more impatient — it’s just that the Internet is literally getting slower. According to new data from the HTTP Archive, the significant increase in size for the average webpage has contributed to significantly longer loading times, leading to significantly more frustrated consumers. With the average site now 2.1MB (up 100 percent from just three years ago), it is no surprise that the Internet is actually taking more time to deliver its results to you.

As CNN explains, the reasons behind this lag time are generally well-founded. With more websites featuring heavy imagery, videos, and other bells and whistles that we take for granted, there is certainly more data being hosted on the average website as compared to a few years ago. In fact, this imagery takes up about 75 percent of a website’s size, so if you’re looking for a more efficient site, chances are you’re also looking for a less aesthetically pleasing one.

Really now? I have no reason to distrust Lulu Chang and I checked out the reference she gave, but I am not convinced, though she may well be right that the internet is slowing down.

Here are my reasons:

First, I have a website since 19 years, that is mostly html and is currently a bit over 500 MB. But these are thousands of files, mostly well under 100 Kb each, and they are never loaded all, while what is most loaded - the index and items from Nederlog - are normally between 20 Kb and 50 Kb.

Second, I do some imagery, but that also is rarely over 100 Kb and normally less, and I don't do any videos nor any JavaScript. It is true that the blue background of my site is probably the most loaded item on it, but even that is just 46 Kb. (Also, I maintain the site-as-is since 2003 now: with the blue background, in Verdana 13 points, and I think that - in a proper browser - it looks quite well. [2])

So it is certainly not due to my websites (I have two, both the same), which indeed also load quickly nearly always. Then again, my websites, whether slow or fast, are just a very tiny bit of the internet.

Here is an alternative explanation for why the internet may be slowing down, that is also speculative:

Third, I would not be amazed if there is a real slowing of the internet not because of the size of the websites (and incidentally: web sites are not loaded, but only files that are part of it, while I don't think I ever downloaded a webpage that was 2.1 MB or more, apart perhaps from Youtube, and that went piece by piece as the video unfolded) but because some major websites are already now giving priorities to some major websites (like Facebook, for example).

I do not know this, but this seems at least as good an explanation as the earlier above one.

3. World without Context: Why the News Couldn't Be Worse

The third item is by Tom Engelhardt on Common Dreams, and originally on tomdispatch:

This starts as follows:
Here’s one thing it’s hard not to notice: the line-up of stories that we used to call the “news” seems increasingly like a thing of the past. Remarkably often these days, the “news” is a single hyped-up story -- most recently, the San Bernardino shootings -- reported frenetically and yet formulaically, often in near- apocalyptic fashion. (...) To fall back on the anchor of Avon, it often enough seems like a tale told by a collective idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I say. I am Dutch and hardly ever look at American news as displayed by the main media, so I have to rely for this on others, like Tom Engelhardt. (I do look very occasionally, but not enough to base any statistics on.)

Here are some specifics about his experiencies with the American main media:

Above all, the 24/7, all-hands-on-deck news story obliterates context, or rather becomes the only context of the moment. To offer the most obvious recent example: in the days in which the San Bernardino shootings ate the screen, most Americans would not have noticed that the fate of the planet was being seriously discussed and negotiated in Paris by representatives of just about every country.
And here is some more:
For all of this, the media now bears a certain unacknowledged responsibility.  Above all, single-event news throws our American world -- and particularly its dangers -- out of whack, while playing into irrational fears and prejudices.  It helps create news of its own in an increasingly unbalanced country.  What it doesn’t offer is perspective.
Yes, though it might be argued plausibily that a perspective is given: "This is how it is, trust the news!". I agree such a perspective is bullshit, but it is a perspective.

Here is Tom Engelhardt's conclusion:

The winners of the latest version of the news and election cycle won’t be the American people or the electoral system or a deeper knowledge of how our world works.  Those winners will, however, include Washington’s national security state, which has bet its future on American fear, and the Islamic State, for which this media environment is the royal road to a completely irrational, even cockamamie “clash of civilizations.”

In other words, the news is the news, and it couldn’t be worse.

I suppose I agree - except that I am convinced that although the American news is very bad and is mostly propaganda, I am also convinced that it (still) can be worse, possibly not by itself (a single story brought as propaganda and labelled as "news" seems about as bad as it can get) but in case the American government intervenes, and prescribes what it wants to see as "news" and what should not be on TV.

We aren't there yet, but we surely are moving in that direction.

4. Why This Was the Year the Traditional Presidential Campaign Died

The fourth item is by Tom Murphy on Mother Jones:

This is from the beginning, and outlines what happened in a recent campaign that was supposed to be for Carly Fiorina (and indeed was, except that everything was so designed as to keep it completely unclear who funded it):

But unbeknownst to the voters in the room, they were guinea pigs in one of the most brazen experiments in modern politics. The people with the clipboards to whom they'd just given out their names, addresses, and phone numbers weren't with the Fiorina campaign, despite what some of these volunteers had strongly implied. True, they did all seem to be wearing CARLY T-shirts and CARLY stickers, but technically, it was an acronym. When I asked a man with a clipboard what it stood for, he said he wasn't authorized to answer.

In fact, the event was run by a super-PAC, one to which Fiorina has, to an unprecedented degree, outsourced virtually every aspect of her operation but the stump speech itself. Signs, shirts, stickers, phone calls, canvassing, event staffing, ads, grisly rapid-response abortion videos—even a documentary, Citizen Carly, which it screened in four states. Super-PACs can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations, but they are prohibited from naming themselves after a candidate. So after the Federal Election Commission threatened the group with penalties last summer, the super-PAC formerly known as "Carly for America" became "Conservative, Authentic, Responsive Leadership for You and for America"—that is, CARLY.

There is rather a large amount more that looks at various candidates and also at various managers, which I leave to your interests.

I merely quote one more bit:

The only campaign that would have even been legal eight years ago belongs to a 74-year-old socialist.
Note the "legal", which I suppose is correct, because only Bernie Sanders is not paid for by some super-PAC, that indeed were all illegal eight years ago.

5. Court Rules Bush Administration Can Be Sued for Its "War on Terror" Conduct

The fifth item is by Thom Hartmann on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

For almost a decade and a half, the people behind the Bush administration's shameful treatment of terrorism suspects have avoided punishment for their crimes, but that may be about to change.

The courts have had their say and have ruled that former Bush administration officials can, in fact, be sued for how they conducted the "war on terror."

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals made that pretty much official on Friday when it refused to hear a challenge to its earlier ruling in the case of Turkmen v. Ashcroft. That case involves hundreds of Arab, Muslim or South Asian men who were detained and then abused by our government in the weeks following 9/11.

I say. I did not know that. Here is some more:

Some of them were beaten by security guards and kept in solitary confinement, which the United Nations considers a form of torture. After they were released, these men sued the people they say authorized their detentions - people like former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former FBI director Robert Mueller.

A district court initially blocked their claims, but in June, the Second Circuit Court allowed them, saying that Ashcroft, Mueller and company could be sued. The government then made one more last ditch push to protect the Bush administration, but that effort failed last Friday when the Second Circuit rejected it.

OK, though I doubt these officials will be punished, though I think they should be. But indeed if there is going to be a case, I'll be quite interested in the evidence.

[1] In the sense "fraud" is used in the USA. I quote from the Wikipedia lemma: "In law, fraud is deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain." This is certainly true for Ali's becoming a refugee in Holland. Apart from that she lied very many times, and she exaggerated many things.

[2] In part my own liking for it has a lot to do with the fact that most files look like the present one, in that there is a text-window inside the screen-window that allows me to make pages that are roughly as broad as bookpages, instead of taking the whole width. I really like that a lot better than printing text over the full width of the page, whatever that is.

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