Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

Crisis: Online Privacy 1 and 2, Chomsky, Trump, Starr On War, Timothy Snyder

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. To Serve AT&T and Comcast, Congressional GOP Votes to
     Destroy Online Privacy

As Trump Complains About Alleged Surveillance, Republicans
     Gut Internet Privacy Rules

3. Noam Chomsky: Trump's Threat to Human Civilization Is More
     Immediate Than We Realize

4. Trump’s Fog Machine
5. Edwin Starr - War (What is it good for) + Lyrics HQ!!
6. Timothy Snyder On Tyranny | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

This is a Nederlog of Thursday
, March 30, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with six items and six dotted links: Item 1 is a review of Glenn Greenwald's reaction to the total destruction of online privace in the USA; item 2 is an addition to this, that explains there very probably also will be more surveilling; item 3 is about a recent interview with Noam Chomsky; item 4 is about Reich on Trump's fog machine (in propaganda); item 5 is a version + text of "War - what is it good for?", simply because it is a good song that is still very relevant, and
that I recall hearing first in 1970; and item 6 is a part of an interview Bill Maher had with Timothy Snyder.
March 30: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; and even the Dutch site was on time! I say! But I doubt this will much improve, for it is wrong now for 15 months or more. But this was today's news about updating.

I have to add that where my site on stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)

1. To Serve AT&T and Comcast, Congressional GOP Votes to Destroy Online Privacy

The first article today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Clarifying events in politics are often healthy even when they produce awful outcomes. Such is the case with yesterday’s vote by House Republicans to free internet service providers (ISPs) – primarily AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – from the Obama-era FCC regulations barring them from storing and selling their users’ browsing histories without their consent. The vote followed an identical one last week in the Senate exclusively along party lines.

It’s hard to overstate what a blow to individual privacy this is. Unlike Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google – which can track and sell only those activities of yours which you engage in while using their specific service – ISPs can track everything you do online. “These companies carry all of your Internet traffic and can examine each packet in detail to build up a profile on you,” explained two experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Worse, it is not particularly difficult to avoid using specific services (such as Facebook) that are known to undermine privacy, but consumers often have very few choices for ISPs; it’s a virtual monopoly.

Yes, indeed. I also think that Greenwald is as optimistic as he can be. I am not optimistic, and I think this is a horrible idea, but I also believe Greenwald agrees
with me.

Here is some more:

It’s hardly rare for the U.S. Congress to enact measures gutting online privacy: indeed, the last two decades have ushered in a legislative scheme that implements a virtually ubiquitous Surveillance State composed of both public intelligence and military agencies along with their private-sector “partners.” Members of Congress voting for these pro-surveillance measures invariably offer the pretext that they are acting for the benefit of American citizens – whose privacy they are gutting – by Keeping Them Safe™.

But what distinguishes this latest vote is that this pretext is unavailable. Nobody can claim with a straight face that allowing AT&T and Comcast to sell their users’ browser histories has any relationship to national security. Indeed, there’s no minimally persuasive rationale that can be concocted for this vote. It manifestly has only one purpose: maximizing the commercial interests of these telecom giants at the expense of ordinary citizens. It’s so blatant here that it cannot even be disguised.

Hm. As far as I am concerned, "a virtually ubiquitous Surveillance State composed of both public intelligence and military agencies along with their private-sector “partners”" is by far the best beginning of a neofascism that may rule the earth for centuries, precisely because the few who rule "know everything" in the sense that they can let their programs root out anyone who disagrees with them, after which these disagreeing individuals simply are disappeared ("legally", as well [1]).

I think that is the most probable future unless it gets radically stopped. I also am not impressed by the blatancy of the commercial interests:

That’s why, despite its devastating harm for individual privacy, there is a beneficial aspect to this episode. It illustrates – for those who haven’t yet realized it – who actually dominates Congress and owns its members: the corporate donor class.

Yes, but how many realize this? I think only a small minority: the great majority still either mostly believes the political myths they have been served for decades or else has given up on politics.

Then there is this:

There is literally no constituency in favor of this bill other than these telecom giants. It’d be surprising if even a single voter who cast their ballot for Trump or a GOP Congress even thought about, let alone favored, rescission of privacy-protecting rules for ISPs. So blatant is the corporate-donor servitude here that there’s no pretext even available for pretending this benefits ordinary citizens. It’s a bill written exclusively by and for a small number of corporate giants exclusively for their commercial benefit at the expense of everyone else.

Actually, there probably will be an expansion of the spying done by the security services, simply because they get more material, and completely for free and without any regulations. See the next item.

Here is Greenwald's lesson from this:

This, of course, is the “swamp” that Trump vowed to “drain,” the oozing corruption of both parties that he endlessly denounced (just as Obama did before him in 2008). If Trump signs this bill, as expected, perhaps it will open more eyes about how Washington really works, who really controls it, for whose benefit it functions, and the serious difficulty of changing it even when you elect politicians who swear over and over that they oppose it all.

I think the "perhaps" Greenwald speaks of is not likely to open many "more eyes", mostly because anyone who paid some serious interest to Snowden and Greenwald meanwhile knows most of this, while the majority just doesn't care.

There is some advantage from this horrible deregulation, I think, which is that Google and Facebook probably will loose some powers, but since this advantage is bought by making all Americans vastly more visible to secret spying, I am also not optimistic about that.

2.  As Trump Complains About Alleged Surveillance, Republicans Gut Internet Privacy Rules

The second article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:
On Tuesday, the House narrowly voted to allow internet providers to sell your web browsing history and other personal information. The vote will give companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T more power to collect people’s sensitive data, including their internet browsing history, and to sell this information. Last week, the Senate also approved the measure in a vote largely split across party lines. President Trump is expected to sign the bill. For more, we speak to Laura Moy, deputy director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center.
And here is Laura Moy:
LAURA MOY: (..) I mean, strange days in Washington. At a time when Americans overwhelmingly want more privacy protection, yesterday the House of Representatives, as you said, voted 215 to 205 to eliminate these really important privacy rules that would protect the information that Americans have no choice but to share with their internet service providers from being sold or shared without their permission. So, you know, essentially, when you go online, you have to tell your internet provider what website you want to visit, what app you want to use, so that it knows where to route the traffic online, knows which information to send you and where to send the information that you’re communicating. Americans pay for that service. They don’t expect that information to be shared or used for other purposes or sold without their permission. But repealing the rules that were put in place last October will do just that, will allow internet providers, as you said, like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, to share or sell that information without permission.
In fact, why Americans should pay for a "service" that betrays all their private information to anyone with the money to pay to their ISP is a complete riddle to me: I would pay a lot not to be involved in this utterly sick and extremely dangerous spying on anyone and everyone. This is not a "service": it is total betrayal of basic human rights not to be investigated, not be spied upon in secret, and not to be abused for profit.

Here is some more:

LAURA MOY: (..) So, let’s say that you are browsing the web, and you are visiting a gun auction site or a healthcare site, perhaps a site that expresses your political viewpoints. Because you’re visiting those sites, your internet provider gets to see that you are traveling to those sites on the web. If you’re going to to look up a health condition, your internet provider sees that information. And now, with repeal of the rules, it is possible that internet providers will see this as a green light to go ahead and sell that information about you to entities that might want to use it, for example, to track you or monitor you or just to market you related goods to the things that you’re interested in.
For me - who detests and despises all advertisements and all propaganda for some 60 years now - this is only looks horrible: Everyone will be secretly manipulated.

And this also has consequences for the spying that the secret services do:
LAURA MOY: Repeal of the privacy rule will, in addition to giving internet providers the green light to share and sell information without consumers’ consent, might help expand mass surveillance programs, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: In what way? We have 10 seconds.

LAURA MOY: So, because of the way that internet providers are required to protect information and not share it without a lawful order with the government, if it’s classified as protected information under this rule, with repeal of the rule, that could lead to the expansion of some of these surveillance programs.

It will make all spying by the secret services very much easier, so that will very probably lead to the expansion of surveillance programs: If you are an American,
you soon will be fully known to both the secret services and to all advertisers (with the money to pay your ISP).

The only thing missing in that schema is a law that forces you to always have a cell phone or a laptop open for inspection by the secret services or the ISP "to see that
you are not a terrorist" (and to know everything you want, think, wrote or said to anyone).

For me, that opens the gates wide for extremely wide-scaled terrorism by the few rich of everybody else.

3. Noam Chomsky: Trump's Threat to Human Civilization Is More Immediate Than We Realize

The third article is by Jacob Sugarman on AlterNet:

This is from a review of a wide-ranging interview with Chomsky that I reviewed yesterday:

In a wide-ranging interview with Truthout, the renowned political scientist expounds on everything from the radicalism of the Republican Party to our troubling brinkmanship with Russia to the accelerated decline of American empire. Here are a few of the highlights.

I copy parts of them, simply because I agree with Sugerman that the review was important and wide-ranging. I select three bits.

The first is this (and the titles are in the original):

On America's rising fascism

The policies being formulated and enacted are drawn from the playbook of the most reactionary fringe of the Republican establishment. The abject service to private wealth and power is accompanied with an authoritarian and fundamentalist program to transform US society. The project is driven by the Bannon-Sessions vision of a society devoted to Judeo-Christian roots and white supremacy, eliminating such pernicious and threatening nonsense as arts and humanities, upholding the Betsy DeVos doctrine that public education has to be dismantled, while if science conflicts with religion, then too bad for science. Meanwhile, we are to wave a mailed fist at the world while cowering behind walls and rebuilding the "depleted military" that is the most powerful force in human history, dwarfing any collection of competitors.
Yes I agree, except that I prefer my definition of neofascism: It is a kind of fascism, but it is new in being totally dedicated to maximum profits and the maximum powers of multi-national corporations, that are also planned to take over parts of the governments' tasks, all for maximum profits for the multi-national corporations.

There is this on the relation between the USA and Russia:

On 'Pax Americana,' such as it is

Trump's position on nuclear weapons is unclear, but many of his comments have been worrisome, in particular his dismissal of the New START treaty on mutual Russia-US reduction of nuclear weapons as a bad deal for the US, in a phone call with Putin. The treaty is a good deal not only for the US but for the world, even though partial. And it would be bad news indeed if Trump chooses not to renew it.
I think that Trump wants more nuclear arms and that he will probably refuse to sign any deal that would prohibit him from buying them.

Finally, there is this on Bernie Sanders:

On Bernie Sanders and the possibility of a brighter future

The success of the Sanders campaign was quite remarkable, a sharp break from political history. For over a century, elections in the US have been mostly bought. But here was someone who was scarcely known, who had virtually no support from the wealthy or corporate sector and was dismissed by the media, and even used the scare word "socialism." He would very likely have won the Democratic nomination had it not been for the shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton clique that dominates the party -- and that has almost ruined it at local and state levels in recent years. And he might very well have become president.
Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Read the interview at Truthout.

For it is a good and important interview.

4. Trump’s Fog Machine

The fourth article today is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
Trump’s technique for dealing with bad news is to create enough confusion and partisanship to envelope it in dense fog. 
Yes, that seems true. But I still have serious doubts about the following:

America’s intelligence agencies have already concluded that Russian agents interfered in the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s side.

The ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee, who has seen the intelligence reports, says they show that Russia’s interference affected the outcome of the election.

Nothing remotely as serious has ever occurred in United States politics. Russia’s interference is a direct attack on American democracy. If Trump’s aides were involved, that’s treason. If Trump knew about it and did nothing, that’s an impeachable offense at the very least.
For the news about Russia's interference in the American elections goes back to 2016, but even now - in the end of March 2017 - there is no one who has seen any evidence for it (over 4 months later!), except (it is claimed) for one "ranking member of the Senate" - and he is anonymous and, once again, quotes no evidence.

And my point is not that I think the Russians are incapable of it, but that the story seems to have originated in the Democratic Party as a means of deflecting the blame for loosing the elections ("the Russians did it") away from Hilary Clinton, while no one I respect has ever seen any evidence for it.

So I certainly will not conclude - now, without any evidence - that "
[n]othing remotely as serious has ever occurred in United States politics" until I have seen
reliable evidence.

Here is Reich's explanation for Trump's many unclarities and lies:

Which is why Trump wants to bury it inside a fog of diversions, distractions, claims and allegations that appear to have something to do with it but lead elsewhere.

It’s why he has repeatedly blasted the press as  “fake news,” “going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred;”  lashed out at the intelligence agencies for their “unauthorized leaks” “just like Russia;” and conjured up “witch hunts” and conspiracies against him resembling “Nazi Germany.
Possibly so, but I can also explain them by saying that Trump is not sane and a neofascist.

This is from near the end of the article:

Trump figures that at some point the murk will seem too complicated and too partisan. 

By then, even if the FBI and other intelligence agencies find that Trump or his advisors colluded with Russian operatives to win the election for him, it won’t much matter. Trump and his surrogates will have created an impenetrable fog of claims and counterclaims, plots and subplots, unproven allegations and lies. 

The public will have become lost and confused in the fog – exhausted, confounded, cynical. Facts and findings will vanish. It will all come to seem like politics at its worst.

Could Trump get away with it? Possibly.

The biggest danger he faces is that Republican statesmen might emerge from the mist, who are sufficiently concerned about the integrity and sanctity of our democracy to act as lighthouses.
Hm. For me this is mostly guesswork at best.

And I strongly doubt (before having seen it) that Trump will be able to create "
an impenetrable fog of claims and counterclaims" etc. if the FBI or other intelligence agencies were to come with real evidence that he or members of his government did collaborate with Russia to alter the outcome of the American elections.

5. Edwin Starr - War (What is it good for) + Lyrics HQ!!

The fifth item is an audio (!!) + text of the song "War - what is it good for?". This  version is by Edwin Starr, while the song and text are from the Temptations. I can recall when I first heard it in 1970 (when it came out):
It is here because I like the text and the music. It takes only 3 min 24 sec and the text is really good. It is true this is from 1970 (and I can still recall hearing it then for the first time); it is true Edwin Starr did not compose it; it is true Edwin Starr was not called Edwin Starr, but it is also true that the song and the text are still quite relevant, and are very good. (And it seems true - to me, at least - that songs and texts like this are simply not produced anymore.)

Incidentally, here is a link to a censoring institution that may become very powerful in the future, and that censors Starr, Bob Dylan and Martha and the Vandella's (among others):
Here is also the 1964 version of "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandella's: Also judged fit for censoring in 2001: You are not even allowed to dance in the streets according to some American (would be) censors...

6. Timothy Snyder On Tyranny | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

The sixth item is a video by Bill Maher's Real Time, and is part of an interview with Timothy Snyder:
There are several links to Timothy Snyder in Nederlog, and probably the best one is this "Post-truth is Pre-Fascism" (where there also are more links). Note that Snyder is a specialist on tyranny, especially of the Nazis.


[1] For one may "legally" be forbidden to talk to anyone but one lawyer, who also is forbidden to talk to anyone else.

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