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Nederlog

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Crisis: Terrorist GCHQ, Moyers & Lifton, Trump & Genocide, U.S. Taxes, On 9/11


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 24, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 24, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) 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 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 will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from September 24, 2017

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:

This article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

It was not the first time Muhammad Rabbani had problems when returning to the United Kingdom from travels overseas. But on this occasion something was different — he was arrested, handcuffed, and hauled through London’s largest airport, then put into the back of a waiting police van.

Rabbani is the 36-year-old international director of Cage, a British group that was founded in 2003 to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners held at the U.S. government’s Guantánamo Bay detention site. Today, the organization has a broader focus and says it is working to highlight “the erosion of the rule of law in the context of the war on terror.” Due to its work campaigning for the legal rights of terrorism suspects, Cage has attracted controversy, and Rabbani has faced the government’s wrath.
(...)
His trouble at Heathrow Airport in late November began with a familiar routine. Often, on his return to the U.K. from foreign trips, he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act

Schedule 7 allows the British government to terrorize British subjects, like Muhammad Rabbani (and state terrorism killed far more persons in the 20th Century than any other kind of terrorism):

In the interrogation room there were two police officers who searched all of Rabbani’s luggage and questioned him further about his travels — Whom did he meet? Where did he go? Where did he stay and for how long? After a while the conversation turned to the electronic devices Rabbani was carrying, which included a silver MacBook Air, a SIM card, a flash drive, and an iPhone. The officers asked Rabbani to turn over his passwords so that they could access the devices — and said that if he did not provide them, they would arrest him.

And that was a clear act of state terrorism against Mr. Rabbani, indeed even by their own norms, for Rabbani was not suspected of anything like terrorism.

Here is more on some of the terroristic activities of the GCHQ:

While the existence of Schedule 7 is widely known in the U.K., the government has kept secret some significant details about its function.

Those who are examined under the law will usually be searched and questioned by officers. Like Rabbani, they may also have cellphones or laptops they are carrying inspected or confiscated.

Unknown to people who have gone through this process, however, is that police may also have covertly downloaded the contents of their phone and sent copies to the British eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

Every month the agency was receiving a copy of phone data that had been “downloaded from people stopped at U.K. ports (i.e. sea, air and rail),” according to a classified GCHQ document obtained by The Intercept from Edward Snowden. The data was placed in a central database that GCHQ employees could search, and it included “anything stored on a target’s phone,” such as contact lists, text messages, and call records.

There is considerably more in this article, which is recommended.


2. Bill Moyers: Trump Can't Stop the World From Waking up to the Climate Disaster That We Face

This article is by Bill Moyers (<-Wikipedia) on AlterNet and originally on BillMoyers.com. It starts as follows:
Robert Jay Lifton was born 91 years ago. Living through the catastrophes of the 20th century — world war, tyrannical regimes, genocide, the nuclear bomb, terrorism — he grappled with their terrible impact on human beings. His work as a psychiatrist, historian and public intellectual forged his reputation as one of the world’s foremost thinkers. Among his 20 books are such seminal award winners as Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (1967); The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (1986); and Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir (2014).

Now he has turned to climate change (...) Lifton plunged into studying the phenomenon further and has just published a new book, The Climate Swerve: Reflections of Mind, Hope, and Survival.
Until September 16, 2017 I did not know about the existence of Robert Jay Lifton (<-Wikipedia), whom I think is a quite interesting man. I owe Lifton´s discovery to Bill Moyers, who now has another interview with Lifton, about another subject (than Donald Trump), that again is quite interesting: The subject is climate change, and here are some bits from a considerably larger article:

Bill Moyers: In that New York Times essay back in 2014, you wrote that “experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways” to bring about this change in attitude toward climate change. Yet you quoted Bob Dylan’s words that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Do you know now, three years later?

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes. Resistance to climate truths is giving way to an embrace of them. Our mindset has been changing from rejection to confronting climate danger. I take that to be a profound change and a somewhat hopeful one, because at the global climate conference in Paris in 2015, virtually every nation in the world joined in the recognition that we’re part of a single species in deep trouble, and that each country had to make some contribution in cutting back on fossil fuels emissions, which are the source of our danger.
I hope Lifton is right, but actually I do not think so, and basically for two reasons:

First, generalizing from my own experiences the last 50 years (I am 67), I have concluded that at most 1 in 20 persons is capable of reasoning in a scientific and rational way. (It is possible I might be more optimistic if (or when) I am 91, but I am not, and it is quite unlikely that I will reach that age, given that I have been ill for nearly 40 years.)

And second, I also do not believe in the tenacity of the convictions of the 19 in 20 that I do not think are capable of
of reasoning in a scientific and rational way, for most are merely following propaganda and their own desires, and both of these are quite changeable and anyway are factually, scientifically and rationally unfounded.

Here is some more:

Moyers: In his magnum opus A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee argued that civilizations would fall not because doom was inevitable but because governing elites would not respond adequately to changing circumstances or because they would focus only on their own interests. Remember that?

Lifton: Yes. Well, the governing elite and even the common people have not responded adequately to either nuclear weapons or climate threat.
This is quite right. And in fact merely during my life the human population rose from somewhat over 2 billion in 1950, to over 7 billion now. I think that this is some 5 to 6 billion too many, at least given the capitalist modes of production and distribution. [2]

There is also this:

Moyers: How do you explain the studies showing that when some people — a lot of people — are confronted with an indisputable fact that contradicts their belief system, they will choose their belief and their values over that fact every time?

Lifton: I think the people who reject the facts of global warming in order to sustain a belief system that rejects it are a minority, and perhaps a minority that’s growing smaller as the mindset I’m describing in The Climate Swerve is growing.
Again, I hope Lifton is right, but I do not think so: I think most who are not capable of following scientific and rational arguments are reading far more propaganda these days than real facts, and I also think that democracy is mostly dead in the USA, where the vast majorities in the Senate and the House seem bought by the rich.

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

Moyers: Why does all this matter to a 91-year-old man who, like me at 83, is, not likely to experience the worst climate disasters that might await our species? Why do you care?

Lifton: Bill, this book is about a vast universal problem. It’s also very personal in the way that I write it and the way I think about things. And it’s a series of reflections that I feel are justified in terms of my experience. I hold to the idea of what I call larger human connectedness. It’s a secular version of the sense of human continuity, or even sense of immortality, and we as a culture-creating species we really, really require. We don’t just live in a single moment. We don’t even live only in the lives of our parents and children and grandchildren, but rather as part of the great chain of being. I feel that very strongly.
I agree with Lifton, but again I must add that in the over 50 years of my life that I can rationally consider, I have seen only a few who are similarly motivated.

And this is a recommended article, although I do not agree with it, and my reasons to recommend it are that I do admire both Lifton and Moyers, and I know I may be mistaken.


3. Trump Threatens a Genocide

This article is by David Marks on Consortiumnews. It starts with the following subtitle:

As President Trump taunts North Korea’s leader with schoolyard insults, the terrifying possibility is that his threat to “totally destroy” a country of 25 million people could involve the U.S. in another genocide, warns David Marks.

Well, yes... except that it is very likely that the atomic annihilation of North Korea also entails the atomic annihilation of South Korea, and both of these annihiliations taken together will (probably) kill more persons (namely 75 million) than were killed in World War II (namely 73 million). That is, if no more countries get involved, which does not seem likely to me.

Here is some more:

The level of insult and hostile name-calling between world leaders was taken to a new extreme by Donald Trump in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly. In his preferred rhetoric replete with saber rattling, Trump’s comments included,  “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Are we becoming numb to the tirades of the President? His apologists claim his words don’t necessarily reflect U.S. policy, however the threat to destroy an entire nation of 25 million people reveals a further willingness to embrace nuclear war. There are many Americans who protest his vision, but the United States seems relatively complacent considering his belligerence.

In the same speech, rather than envisioning an improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations, Trump condemned their leadership without any room for diplomacy: “The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.”

First of all, Trump was uttering bullshit about Iran. And second, Iran has 81 million inhabitants. If these are all to be killed by nuclear arms, this is again more people than were killed in WW II.

There is this about North Korea + South Korea, that together have more inhabitants than were killed in WW II:

Trump seems to be willing to obliterate “the” Koreans. It is not just the North, as in a war scenario, South Korea, by all forecasts, will be pulverized by the North Korean response or as “collateral damage.”

Yes indeed. The article ends as follows:

Trump, as he escalates the potential for a major war, is proving himself to be more like Hitler than many people would like to believe. He claims to want peace while setting a course toward war. He always thinks he is right and easily finds others to blame. And most importantly, by threatening to “totally destroy” an entire country, Trump is suggesting that the United States commit genocide and possibly launch a new World War.

Quite so, and this is a recommended article.


4. Why We Must Raise Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy, Not Lower Them

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

When Barack Obama was president, congressional Republicans were deficit hawks. They opposed almost everything Obama wanted to do by arguing it would increase the federal budget deficit.

But now that Republicans are planning giant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, they’ve stopped worrying about deficits.

Senate Republicans have agreed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which means giant budget deficits.

Unless Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and defense, that is.  Even if Republicans eliminated everything else in the federal budget – from education to Meals on Wheels – they wouldn’t have nearly enough to pay for tax cuts of the magnitude Republicans are now touting.

Yes indeed. I also read (in another article, not reviewed here) that Trump stands to gain some 3 billions from his own giant tax cuts. I do not know whether that is true, but clearly the Republicans favor the rich, and favoring the rich means taking from the non-rich.

There is this bit on Republican propaganda and lies:

So how do Republicans propose to pay for any of this, and a big tax cut for corporations and the wealthy – without exploding the federal deficit?

Easy. Just pretend the tax cuts will cause the economy to grow so fast – 3 percent a year on average – that they’ll pay for themselves, and the benefits will trickle down to everyone else.

If you believe this, I have several past Republican budgets to sell you, extending all the way back to Ronald Reagan’s magic asterisks.

Quite so. And besides, there is this:

Besides, there’s no reason to cut taxes on big corporations and the wealthy. If anything, their taxes should be raised.

Trump says we’re “the highest taxed nation in the world.” Rubbish. The most meaningful measure is taxes paid as a percentage of GDP. On this score, the United States has the 4th lowest taxes of any major economy. (Only South Korea, Chile, and Mexico ranking lower.)

I agree with Reich and disagree with Trump, who - once again - was lying:

The rich aren’t overtaxed. The wealthiest 1 percent in the U.S. pay the lowest taxes as a percent of their income and total wealth of the top 1 percent in any major country – and far lower than they paid in the U.S. during the first three decades after World War II, when the American economy grew faster than it’s been growing since the Reagan tax cuts.

But we do have a deficit in public investment – especially in education and infrastructure. And we do have a national debt that topped $20 trillion this year and is expected to grow by an additional $10 trillion over the next decade.

What’s the answer? Raise taxes on big corporations and the wealthy. That’s what rational politicians would do if they weren’t in the pockets of big corporations and the wealthy.

I agree, indeed also with the suggestion that there are, these days, only a quite small  minority of rational and (mostly) honest policians in the Senate and the House.

And this is a recommended article.


5.  Sixteen More Reasons to Question 9/11

This article is by Kevin Ryan on the Off-Guardian.org. It starts as follows:

It has been 16 years since the crimes of September 11th, 2001. In that time, facts have been revealed that led more than a third of Americans to believe that the U.S government was involved in the attacks. This blog noted 14 such incredible facts on the 14th anniversary of the crimes. Here are 16 more.

I haven´t seen the ¨14 such incredible facts¨ but I have been convinced, also considerably before 2015 that the story that the U.S. government told about 9/11/2001 cannot be believed (for considerable parts) and also cannot be the full truth.

But I will not go into my reasons for doubting the story, and I just select three out of the sixteen offered reasons. The boldness of the quotes is in the original:

3. The FBI and CIA have made a mockery of the U.S. justice system as it relates to 9/11. While these agencies are suspected of involvement, they have charged others with the crimes using secret evidence in a secret military trial. The accused have been held in seclusion for nearly 15 years while FBI and CIA agents attempt to insert themselves as defense team members, ensuring total control of the narrative.
Of course, this is primarily about Guantánamo (and other secret sites, where people are tortured horribly).

Then there is this:
10. The New York Times led the propaganda behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and it also led the propaganda behind the cover-up of the 9/11 crimes. It did so by ignoring many of the most relevant facts, by promoting false official accounts, and by belittling those who questioned the 9/11 events.
This might have been put a bit differently (like the previous quoted point), but this also seems mostly correct (and indeed ¨ignoring many of the most relevant facts, by promoting false official accounts, and by belittling those who questioned the 9/11 events¨ is propaganda.

Here is the last point (of sixteen) that I quote:
11. On the day of the attacks, firefighters, journalists, survivors, and eyewitnesses testified to secondary explosions in the World Trade Center buildings. Videos of these testimonies were held secret for years by the government agency NIST and released only via FOIA request after public interest died down. Scientists have explained that the towers came down due to explosions and that the NIST investigation was fraudulent. --- ends
Yes indeed. And I´ve seen a lot more evidence like Chandler explains in ¨Scientists have explained¨ some years ago and I think (taken altogether) this is quite convincing evidence that the story the American government told was not what was really happening.

Here is the last bit:
As the crimes of 9/11 continue to go unsolved and largely unquestioned, Americans should be aware that another 9/11 could happen at any time. If it does, the ongoing failure to question obvious deception in terrorism could take society to places where freedom to question is no longer an option.
Yes, that seems a fair inference, in the circumstances. And this is a recommended article.

------------------------------
  Notes

[1]I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 1 1/2 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 (!!).

[2] In fact, I also think human overpopulation (<-Wikipedia) is what lies behind and explains climate change, but I merely mention this here, and will not argue this here and now.
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