Friday, December 8, 2017

Crisis: Doomsday Machine, US Gestapo, Al Franken, Facebook, Corporations

Sections                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 8, 2017

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, December 8, 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 and since two 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 will continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from December 8, 2017
1. The Doomsday Machine in Donald Trump's Hands
2. Why the Idea That Donald Trump Is Creating a Loony
     Super-Secret Spy Team Is All Too Plausible

3. Al Franken Calls It Quits After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Pile

4. Why Did Facebook Give the Right-Wing 'Weekly Standard'
     Fact-Checking Duties?

5. Corporation and Nation
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. The Doomsday Machine in Donald Trump's Hands

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Democracy Now! In fact, this continues yesterday´s excellent interview with Daniel Ellsberg, which I strongly  recommend that you read if you have not.

The article starts as follows:

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, thousands of pages of the Pentagon’s secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, exposing the government’s lies and helping to end the war. President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America.”

Now at 86 years old, Ellsberg is revealing for the first time that the Pentagon Papers were not the first classified documents that he removed from his secure workplace. In his new book, “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” he details his early years at the Pentagon, and why he took thousands of pages of U.S. nuclear war plans describing the lunacy of the U.S. nuclear war policy over 55 years ago. What he discovered is frighteningly relevant today.

Yes indeed. Here is first a bit about the present background:

Last July 20 at the Pentagon, President Donald Trump reportedly shocked the military staff gathered to brief him on national security issues by suggesting he wanted to increase the nuclear arsenal tenfold. It was after that meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to have called Trump a “f-ing moron.” In August, NBC’s Joe Scarborough, citing an unnamed source, said Trump asked a foreign-policy adviser about using nuclear weapons. Scarborough said: “Three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can’t we use them?” For over 70 years, the president has held the enormous power to launch nuclear weapons, but only one has used it: Harry Truman, ordering the dropping of two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Trump, who seems to relish saber rattling and antagonizing opponents like the supreme leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, Kim Jong Un, may be pushing us to the brink of nuclear war.

Yes, and this is also why I (and quite a few others) regard Truman as a war criminal.
As to Trump: See here and here.

There is this about Eisenhower´s nuclear war plans, that date back to the late Fifties and early Sixties:

Describing President Dwight Eisenhower’s nuclear war plans, which Ellsberg was tasked with improving in the early months of the Kennedy administration, the whistleblower told us on the “Democracy Now!” news hour: “They were insane. They called for first-strike, all-out war … for hitting every city — actually, every town over 25,000 — in the USSR and every city in China. … The captive nations, the East Europe satellites in the Warsaw Pact, were to be hit in their air defenses, which were all near cities, their transport points, their communications of any kind. So they were to be annihilated as well.”

I take it also that a nuclear blowing up of ¨every town over 25,000 — in the USSR and every city in China¨ already was possible in 1960 with the nuclear arms there were then. (I am not certain of this, but it seems true.)

Here is the stark raving insanity of the nuclear destructions contemplated in 1961:

Ellsberg recalled how, in 1961, the Joint Chiefs of Staff matter-of-factly predicted casualties of over 600 million people globally, when the world population was only 3 billion. “Six hundred million, that was a hundred Holocausts. And when I held the piece of paper in my hand that had that figure, that they had sent out proudly, to the president — ‘Here’s what we will do’ — I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.'”

And at present the nuclear arms of 1961 are a very small part of the presently existing  nuclear arms.

There is more in the article, which is strongly recommended.

2. Why the Idea That Donald Trump Is Creating a Loony Super-Secret Spy Team Is All Too Plausible

This article is by Heather Digby Parsons on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:
(..) [S]ome of the worst outside influences remain in Trump's orbit, even though they've never had an official position in his campaign or his administration. The scariest of those is Erik Prince, CEO of the notorious "private contractor" company Academi -- formerly known as Blackwater -- who is busily pitching one crackpot idea after another.

Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and a longtime friend of Vice President Mike Pence. His history during the Iraq War as the head of Blackwater, which was essentially an unaccountable mercenary army, made him infamous. But his closeness with Donald Trump's administration has put him in the spotlight frequently over the last year, and every new story about him is more bizarre than the last.

What Prince reminds me of is the following, which is the start of the Wikipedia lemma on the Gestapo:

The Gestapo, abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police), was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.

The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various security police agencies of Prussia into one organization. Beginning on 20 April 1934 it passed to the administration of Schutzstaffel (SS) national leader Heinrich Himmler, who in 1936 was appointed Chief of German Police (Chef der Deutschen Polizei) by Hitler. The Gestapo at this time becoming a national rather than a Prussian state agency as a suboffice of the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) (Security Police). Then from 27 September 1939 forward, it was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) (Reich Main Security Office) and was considered a sister organization to the SS Sicherheitsdienst (SD) (Security Service). During World War II, the Gestapo played a key role in the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

And I think the parallels to 1933 are quite good with the present USA, although I also am willing to agree that two differences are that the present USA is not - by far, as yet - as militaristic as Hitler´s government and movement were, and that Trump is also not - yet, at least - a dictator.

Here is another bit of historical background:

Back in August, there was a flurry of reporting about Bannon and Prince's plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan based upon the colonial model of the British East India Company of the 19th century, including a post for Prince himself as the country's "viceroy."

This seems not to have gone through, but the following seems to be planned now:

But all that is nothing compared to the bombshell report by Matthew Cole and Jeremy Scahill in the Intercept, which says, among other things, that the Afghanistan "viceroy" plan was actually an elaborate smokescreen for some even loonier schemes. According to numerous sources -- and accompanied by official denials from the White House -- the Trump administration is considering creating a private spy network to be run by Prince, legendary Iran-Contra figure Oliver North and a right-wing clandestine agent from the Reagan administration named John Maguire. Its goal would be to go around the intelligence community and gather information on its own for CIA Director Mike Pompeo and President Trump.

This is allegedly in response to what Trump, Pompeo and others perceive as a "Deep State" that is hostile to Trump. Cole and Scahill quote a former senior intelligence official paraphrasing White House discussions of the plan: "Pompeo can't trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him. The whole point is this is supposed to report to the president and Pompeo directly."

Yes indeed. Well, I said what I think this most closely corresponds to: The Gestapo. Here is some more:

This plan is big. According to Cole and Scahill's reporting, these guys would task the private spooks to gather intelligence all over the world, even in places like North Korea and Iran, where normal U.S. intelligence operations are extremely limited. A new global rendition program to kidnap and interrogate suspected terrorists is also being contemplated, along with a major Middle East propaganda effort.

And it also will be - very probably - completely privatized and completely secret.

3. Al Franken Calls It Quits After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Pile Up

This article is by Brad Street on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story.

Sen. Al Franken, bowing to pressure from his Senate colleagues, announced on Thursday that he would resign after being hit with multiple sexual misconduct allegations.

During a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Franken said he was “shocked” when multiple women accused him of groping them.

“I was shocked, I was upset, but in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation,” Franken said.

Franken also was defiant about some of the allegations leveled against him, however, and he insisted that some of them were flatly not true.

“I know there’s been a very different picture of me painted,” Franken said. “But I know who I really am.”

I say. Here is my response:

First, Franken was one of the three (!!) Senators I had some respect for. The other two are Warren and Sanders.

Second, I am a psychologist who never groped or hit or assaulted any woman, which - I think - is also nothing special, for this also seems true of most non-powerful men.

Third, being a psychologist I note that powerful men feel they are so special that they can indulge their sadism in the interest of their sexual satisfaction, for I think this is what is behind all that groping, assaulting and exposing of themselves: sadism. I deeply despise sadists.

Fourth, I agree Franken is probably rather less of a sadist than are Roger Moore and Donald Trump. So I am glad he went by himself, and I think Moore and Trump also should go.

Finally, fifth. I am afraid that Franken, like all the other powerful gropers and assaulters do not see themselves as I see them: As sadists who indulged in their sadism to force unwanted sex on women in their power.

4. Why Did Facebook Give the Right-Wing 'Weekly Standard' Fact-Checking Duties? 

This article is by Sam Levin on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian. It starts as follows:

A conservative news organization has been approved to partner with Facebook to fact-check false news, drawing criticisms that the social media company is caving to rightwing pressures and collaborating with a publication that has previously spread propaganda.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative opinion magazine, said it is joining a fact-checking initiative that Facebook launched last year aimed at debunking fake news on the site with the help of outside journalists. The Weekly Standard will be the first right-leaning news organization and explicitly partisan group to do fact-checks for Facebook, prompting backlash from progressive organizations, who have argued that the magazine has a history of publishing questionable content.

I despise Facebook and I also think it ought to be completely forbidden, since it lives from the private data it steals from its members. I also think it is utterly ridiculous to let them ¨fact-check¨ themselves or allow them to (always secretly, except perhaps in a few rare cases) ¨fact-check¨ others (by unknown ¨algorithms¨ [2]).

Here is more:

Recently, the Weekly Standard has also repeatedly attacked the fact-checkers who are already working with Facebook.

Stephen Hayes, the Weekly Standard’s editor-in-chief, told the Guardian in an email that the publication had been “formally” doing fact-checking for six months and had hired “an incredibly sharp” fact-checker, Holmes Lybrand. He added: “The work really does speak for itself.”

This sounds as if it is total trash: Am I supposed to believe that Holmes Lybrand is capable of checking the private e-mails and Facebook ¨websites¨ of over 2 billion customers?! Each day?! To me that sounds like total and intentional bullshit.

Here are the professonal liars of Facebook:

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the Weekly Standard, but told the Guardian: “We continue to believe that objective facts are objective facts. The political provenance of a given source is irrelevant if their reporting is factual … At Facebook, providing access to authentically fact-checked content is one of our top priorities and is just one of the tools we use to fight fake news.”

If you believe them I don´t think you are quite sane.

5. Corporation and Nation

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

Trump and congressional Republicans are engineering the largest corporate tax cut in history in order “to restore our competitive edge,” as Trump says.

Our competitive edge? Who’s us?

Most American corporations – especially big ones that would get most of the planned corporate tax cuts – have no particular allegiance to America. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders.

For years they’ve been cutting the jobs and wages of American workers in order to generate larger profits and higher share prices.

Some of these jobs have gone abroad or been outsourced to lower-paid contractors in America. Others have been automated. Most of the remaining jobs pay no more than they did four decades ago, adjusted for inflation.

Yes indeed: This is all true, although I have one - major - qualification about this bit:

Most American corporations – especially big ones that would get most of the planned corporate tax cuts – have no particular allegiance to America. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders.

The major qualification is that this is both wholly true and in complete accordance with the neoliberal/neofascist Milton Friedman, who said this, literally in 1962:

"Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundation of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals decide what the social interest is?"

Keep that in mind, for Robert Reich continues as follows:

I’m not blaming American corporations. They’re in business to make profits and maximize their share prices, not to serve America.

I’m blaming politicians who are trying to persuade Americans that tax cuts on American corporations will be good for Americans.

I am blaming the corporations, who presently have been elevated to full personhood by the Supreme Court - which means that by Milton Friedman´s ruling, that effectively is also embraced by Robert Reich, they are - probably quite self-consciously - acting as if they are complete psychopaths, without any moral conscience nor any empathy.

For they effectively maintain that anything which makes their profits one cent less is immoral, also if these things that make their profits less are major abuses.

As to the ¨politicians¨: Nearly all of them are self-conscious, highly paid propagandists for the rich, who have all been bought by one or more of their more than ten lobbyists, who again are mostly paid by the rich corporations.

Finally, there is this, that attempts to set up A Good Or Ideal European Union as compared with A Bad And Corporate USA:

Governments in other rich nations often devise laws through bargains involving big corporations and organized labor. This process further binds their corporations to their nations.

But in America, lawmakers respond almost exclusively to the demands of big corporations and of wealthy individuals (typically corporate executives and Wall Street moguls) with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns. Meanwhile, unions are weak, and “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” according to researchers.

Which is one reason why most Europeans and Canadians receive essentially free health care, generous unemployment benefits, paid medical leave, and  an average of five weeks paid vacation. 

I am sorry but this last paragraph is utter bullshit.

I am Dutch and I live in Holland since over 40 years. So I am a European. I do not know how it is arranged in other countries that are part of the European Union, but since much is regulated by Juncker and other not and never nominated degenerates who rule the European Union, I take it my position is similar to what it is in the other countries that are part of the European Union:

essentially free health care¨: TOTAL bullshit. I paid 22 euros a month in the 1970ies, when the medics were also quite well-paid; I am paying a legally forced 170 euros now, every month, and that ¨health insurance¨ is very much worse than that of the 1970ies (when e.g. the glasses I wore since then were completely free: Now I have to pay the mafia price of 800 euros for the same glasses (that are therefore worth two second hand computers)).

¨generous unemployment benefits¨: TOTAL bullshit: I have been a member of the Dutch dole for 31 years. This meant that for 31 years I got less money than the minimal pay even the dumbest get for working, and even now that I have the most minimal pension that is still diminished by nearly 500 yearly euros because I lived two full years in Norway.

¨paid medical leave¨: TOTAL bullshit: I never got any paid medical leave the last 40 years, during all of which I had a serious and painful disease, namely ME/CFS. I have not even been considered medically ill for any of these 40 years, for the Dutch bureaucrats argued as follows: ¨You are not ill according to English psychiatrists; therefore you are not ill; therefore you have to work.¨ If I had not had a site, I would have had to suicide, for I am really ill.

¨an average of five weeks paid vacation¨: TOTAL bullshit: What I got, both in the dole and as a minimally pensioned person is around 450 euros as ¨holiday money¨ that is a part of the minimal yearly pay I get, but is given as ¨holiday¨ money because this allows stealing that money from everyone who dies before he receives it (in May or June).

What I agree to is that the social arrangements in the USA are even worse. But what I quoted were just lies or total prejudice or complete ignorance about Europe.

O yes (and I know this is an aside): As I have also been saying now for thirty years, marijuana and hashish also are still illegal in Holland. They are sold as if they are free because the mayors get a percentage of the 10 - 50 billion euros in illegal drugsmoney that they helped sell, I am utterly convinced. [3]


[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 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 (!!).

In 1987 when I first got a personal computer, the programs I wrote on it were still called ¨programs¨. It is a metaphor, but it also is a fairly clear English term. In contrast ¨algorithm¨, which is the term that seems at present strongly preferred by journalists, is the strange construction made from Arabic and English. (It means ¨algebraic pattern¨). I dislike that term (and I know how to program in six languages): it seems to further complicate the already obscure (to most).

[3] I have had to survive 3 1/2 years of murder threats and a real and actual gassing by the illegal soft drugsdealers that Mayor Van Thijn of Amsterdam gave his personal permission to deal in soft and hard drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived.

He did not answer any letter (two of which were handed by me to his personal doorman) by me, and never answered anything I wrote.

Neither did his successor Mayor Patijn of Amsterdam (other than one statement that he would do nothing about my being gassed, kept out of sleep for three and a half years (which is torture according to the UN), and beig threatened with murder).

Neither did Patijn´s successor Job Cohen (who seems to be a grandson or a nephew of one of the collaborators of the SS who helped murdering 116,000 Jews in WW II), and neither did his alderman Rob Oudkerk, who is the grandson of that collaborator (and who contacted me anonymously in 2003, and who said in public around the same time that his grandfather ¨did nothing wrong¨, and who then was dismissed for fucking junkie-whores in the polder and for popping cocaine).

Neither did any Amsterdam bureaucrat, nor any Amsterdam policeman, not the Amsterdam Ombudsman, nor the National Ombudsman of Holland....

According to the one official parliamentary report of 1996, the Van Traa Report, some 10 billion euros in illegal soft drugs are turned over in Holland each year, and some 30-50 billion illegal euros if you also count the hard drugs.

Since the soft drugs are being sold by ¨personal permission¨ of mayors (I was shown the letter in which that phrase occured by the soft drugsdealers who tried to gas me and threatened to murder me in the late 1980ies: it was signed by Ed van Thijn, on official city paper); since all these drugs still are quite illegal; since 1 % of this (which is very easily paid by the customers) is anyway several billions each year, I think the Dutch mayors and/or the politicians and/or the bureaucrats and/or the judges are collaborating with the Dutch drugs mafia.

I have no proof, but the above are the facts. And Holland has been the Colombia of Europe now for 30 years.

And if I get murdered it is because I keep writing these facts - that are now NOT being answered for thirty years next year.
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