January 12, 2018

Crisis: Exit Privacy, Julian Assange, #MeToo, Watergate Moment?, ¨Russia-gate¨


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 12, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 12, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from January 12, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. House Dems Join With GOP to 'Violate the Privacy Rights of Everyone in
     United States'

2. Ecuador Grants Citizenship to WikiLeaks Founder Assange
3. How Should Journalists Report on the #MeToo Movement?
4. A Watergate Moment? The Fusion GPS Testimony Could Change History
5. The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate
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. House Dems Join With GOP to 'Violate the Privacy Rights of Everyone in United States'

This article is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Despite spending much of the last twelve months denouncing the legitimate threat posed by President Donald Trump's penchant for authoritarian policies and behavior, 65 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday joined with 191 Republicans in passing a bill that advocates of civil liberties warn will lead to the wholesale violation 'of privacy rights for everyone in the United States.'
Yes indeed. And this is at the same time good reason not to believe or vote for either the corrupt Democrats or the fraudulent Republicans:

Apparently most members from both groups in the House are for the unconstitutional spying on everyone anywhere, that now has been going on since 2001 (at least). And I think that is also the best argument where the present USA are headed, given the ruling powers of this handful of corrupt or fraudulent politicians: Towards neofascism (in my definition).

Here is Edward Snowden:

Yes indeed. And here is Neema Singh Guliani from the ACLU:

"The House voted today to give President Trump and his administration more spying powers," said Neema Singh Guliani, policy counsel with the ACLU, in a statement following the vote. "The government will use this bill to continue warrantless intrusions into Americans’ private emails, text messages, and other communications."

And while "no president should have this power," Guliani continued, "members of Congress just voted to hand it to an administration that has labeled individuals as threats based merely on their religion, nationality, or viewpoints."

Once again I do like to point out this is out-and-out totalitarianism in my and Orwell´s and many other usages of ¨totalitarianism¨ but not according to the sick and totalitarian Wikipedia, where some neofascists, degenerates or idiots redefined ¨totalitarianism¨ in such a way that only states can be totalitarian, but no persons, no politics, no ideology, no policies, no plans, no proposals and no political parties can ever be totalitarian - that is, in the sick and degenerate present style of the Wikipedia (that seems to be taken over by anonymous rich rightist forces with this and other total nonsense, although I do not know enough about Wikipedia to prove this).

Here is more on the real Democrats actual wishes, which are pro totalitarianism and anti democracy:

Though Democrats have a long history—including under the previous administration of President Barack Obama—of backing mass surveillance and submitting to the demands of U.S. intelligence agencies, critics point out the hard-to-ignore hypocrisy of those who have endlessly warned against Trump's authoritarian tendencies with one hand, while supporting these repressive and anti-democratic surveillance powers with the other. As Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, argued in a tweet:

Democratic leadership in the House—who say that Trump is currently abusing his power to go after his political enemies—just helped him pass dangerous domestic surveillance powers.

Precisely. And this is a speaker for the Free Press Action Fund:

Sandra Fulton, government relations manage for the Free Press Action Fund,  said "the last thing Congress should be doing" is renewing a law that allows U.S. intelligence agencies "to continue spying on the communications of people in the United States, forfeiting the essential privacy rights" of every person in the United States. "No government entity should have such oppressive surveillance powers," Fulton said. "This unconstitutional legislation will allow the FBI to continue sifting through the data even when those searches don’t involve a specific criminal investigation."

Yes and no: I entirely agree with Sandra Fulton, but I would also have liked to read that

(i) there are no ¨
essential privacy rights¨ for anybody not living in the USA: My mails are completely open to the NSA and the FBI, and so is everyone´s mail, if he or she is not born in the USA (which is a fucking shame), and that

(ii) it seems as if every secret service of any country anywhere, if it has access to some of the cables that transport internet, also thereby has access to many or all of the mails anyone sends using these cables (which are set automatically).

And for me this is a straight road to neofascism everywhere:

Absolutely everyone living absolutely anywhere now can be subjected, by any of seventy or more secret services, to the control of his or her total e-mails, and to secret Denials, Disruptions, Degradations and Deceptions by any anonymous member of any of seventy or more secret services:


Incidentally, the above is from the English secret service GCHQ, but as I said:

In fact each and every secret service now has these possibilities. And that is the end of any democracy, until this secret spying by every secret service is totally and effectively outlawed 
- on which there is no chance these days.

As shown by the present decision. And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Ecuador Grants Citizenship to WikiLeaks Founder Assange

This article is by Gonzalo Solano on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after more than five years of living in asylum at the nation’s embassy in London, officials announced Thursday.

Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said officials accepted Assange’s request for naturalization in December, and they continue to look for a long-term resolution to a situation that has vexed officials since 2012.

“What naturalization does is provide the asylum seeker another layer of protection,” Espinosa said.

Ecuador gave Assange asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims. Sweden dropped the case, but Assange has remained in the embassy because he is still subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail.

He also fears a possible U.S. extradition request based on his leaking of classified State Department documents.

I did not know that Ecuador has granted citizenship to Julian Assange. I did know all of the rest, and indeed have been reporting on it since 2012.

Then again it is a question how much Ecuadorian citizenship may help Assange:

The new citizenship status, however, appears to change little for Assange in the immediate future. He would still need to alert British authorities of any movement outside the embassy.

“Even if he has two or three nationalities, the United Kingdom will continue in its efforts against him,” said Fredy Rivera, an expert in foreign affairs at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador.

Espinosa said Ecuador is trying to make Assange a member of its diplomatic team, which would grant him additional rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, including special legal immunity and safe passage.

Britain’s Foreign Office said earlier Thursday it has rejected Ecuador’s request to grant him diplomatic status in the U.K.

And I do not know the answer to my question, but I do hope Assange can - somehow, and I do not know how - escape living in Britain (in the Ecuadorian embassy) without being arrested by the English secret services or the English police.

3. How Should Journalists Report on the #MeToo Movement?

This article is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

#MeToo presents a unique challenge for journalism. As the movement continues to reveal widespread experiences of sexual harassment and assault among women, questions must be raised about how journalists (reporters, writers and editors) ought to handle these now-common stories—which often have been hidden in plain sight.

At a recent Truthdig editorial meeting, we thought about our own coverage of #MeToo. How can we best do our job while reporting on the movement? It’s one thing to report on the immense significance of #MeToo—and insist on its integrity and importance—and another to hold sexual assault allegations to the same journalistic standards as any other story.

In fact, I am a bit startled by this introduction, for the simple reason that I would (and do) assume that all good journalism is truthful, honest and well-written, and the same applies to the present subject of #MeToo.

Then again, I also understand that reporting on sexual matters still seems to be difficult in the USA (and elsewhere also, though this article is about the USA) while the #MeToo movement is
mostly a solidarity movement among American women, that happens mostly on Twitter (or so it seems: I despise Twitter and do not use it), and there tends to be often little or no public evidence that this or that woman was abused - which indeed does not mean that she was not.

Here is a bit more on the position of women who complained about sexual harassment:

We are witnessing a cultural paradigm shift in real time. Now, a woman disclosing an allegation of sexual harassment, or worse, can hope to be believed, partly because of the sheer numbers of men in power being outed. But this has not always been the case.

And here is a bit more about ¨the complicity machine¨ - of lawyers, staffers and also journalists - who helped Weinstein to keep his harassments a secret:

“Weinstein’s Complicity Machine,” an excellent piece in The New York Times,
demonstrates the web of complicity that allowed Weinstein’s abuse to continue—agents who ignored complaints, lawyers and staffers who arranged for nondisclosure agreements, and actors and actresses who kept quiet out of concern for their careers. 

Journalists are not spared from this complicity. A network of reporters helped Weinstein keep his reputation intact (..)
Yes, that seems to me to be quite correct. There is - of course - a difficulty:

However, evidence of harassment is often abstract and difficult to prove. Rape kits often remain untested in police and crime labs, and without a recording or text exchange, harassment can be difficult to document. Though journalists have a responsibility to probe the political incentivizing of allegations, at what point does the investigation become victim blaming?

It also is worth noting that false accusations from individual women are quite rare.

This is also true.

In fact, there seem to be at least three problems with complaints about sexual harassment:

(i) it simply is not clear what does and does not constitute harassment, at least fairly often; (ii) sexual harassment tends to be private and painful and also risky for victims to report; and (iii) there is a real possibility that some claims of sexual harassment are - for various reasons - not true.

I grant all three problems, but will say something only about the first problem:

While I do not think that all claims of sexual harassment are serious, I also think that quite a few of the stories I read about sexual harassment - e.g. by Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby - are quite serious, and also should be taken quite serious. (In fact, I think both Weinstein and Cosby not only committed a lot of sexual harassment, but also a lot of sadism.)

And this is a recommended article, in which there also is considerably more than I reviewed.

4. A Watergate Moment? The Fusion GPS Testimony Could Change History

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
One of the most misunderstood quotes from the Watergate scandal is also one of the most famous: "What did the president know and when did he know it?" That was uttered by Sen. Howard Baker, a Tennessee Republican, and it's often assumed it was a tough question hurled at a recalcitrant witness, seeking to implicate Richard Nixon. In fact, it was the opposite. Baker asked that question repeatedly, early in the Watergate hearings, in an attempt to wall off the president from the suspected criminality of his staff. Of course, Nixon actually ran the coverup, as the committee holding those hearings was about to find out.
I take it that all of this is true. (In fact, I was around 22 when Nixon was president of the USA, and I followed most of it, and now most of it is true, after the Watergate hearings, but indeed I forgot about Howard Baker.)

Here is more on the question in the title:
If Nixon were around today, he'd be able to see how it might have gone if the Republicans had held a congressional majority and supporters like Baker had labored to keep the investigations under wraps. The only dramatic public hearings we've had in the Russia investigation so far involved the testimony of former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI Director James Comey, and that was more than six months ago. All the important players, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, have testified in secret, with members of the committees more or less under a gag order and only able to comment on what's already in the press.
From which it follows that, at least here and now, the attempts to get rid of Donald Trump as president of the USA have not - yet? - reached the Watergate stage, and also that it seems as if the main reasons are that the Republicans control both the Senate and the House.

And this is a recommended article.

5. The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through “Security 101.” Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

I say, which I do because the existence of the Strzok-Page e-mails was unknown to me until today.

Here is why that is important:

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

Here is some background:

First, ¨Russia-gate¨ is about an accusation that seem to have started with Hillary Clinton, back in 2016, as an explanation why she lost the elections to Trump.

It seemed to me then (in 2016) false, and indeed I wrote then also three reviews of it (in 2016), namely here, here and here. There is considerably more in 2017. If you are interested, search the index with ¨Russia-gate¨.

And second, ¨the Deep State¨ was popularized (though not invented) by Mike Lofgren in the beginning of 2016. Again, there is considerably more in the indexes for 2016 and 2017.

Here is the main lesson (or ¨casualty¨) of the Strzok-Page e-mails:

But the main casualty is the FBI’s 18-month campaign to  sabotage candidate-and-now-President Donald Trump by using the Obama administration’s Russia-gate intelligence “assessment,” electronic surveillance of dubious legality, and a salacious dossier that could never pass the smell test, while at the same time using equally dubious techniques to immunize Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers from crimes that include lying to the FBI and endangering secrets.

Precisely. Here is some more, that is in fact about either the dishonesty or the corruption of many journalists working for the American mainstream media:

Doubts about the Russian “hack” or dissident suggestions that what we were witnessing was a “soft coup” were scoffed at by leading media commentators. Other warnings from veteran U.S. intelligence professionals about the weaknesses of the Russia-gate narrative and the danger of letting politicized intelligence overturn a constitutional election were also brushed aside in pursuit of the goal of removing Trump from the White House.

It didn’t even seem to matter when new Russia-gate disclosures conflicted with the original narrative that Putin had somehow set Trump up as a Manchurian candidate. All normal journalistic skepticism was jettisoned. It was as if the Russia-gate advocates started with the conclusion that Trump must go and then made the facts fit into that mold, but anyone who noted the violations of normal investigative procedures was dismissed as a “Trump enabler” or a “Moscow stooge.”

Yes, that seems quite true - and see, if you are interested, the many reviews of ¨Russia-gate¨ that I gave in 2017. There are many there (you can find them with ¨Russia-¨ in the index) and indeed all accord with the present article, and indeed most were triggered by articles on Consortiumnews.

Here is more, and namely on what to do now:

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

I think that for now and the near future (at least) ¨the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees¨, in fact simply because most of the members of Congress have been corrupted.

Here is the last bit about the Strzok-Page e-mails:

Thanks to the almost 10,000 text messages between Strzok and Page, only a small fraction of which were given to Congress four weeks ago, there is now real evidentiary meat on the bones of the suspicions that there indeed was a “deep-state coup” to “correct” the outcome of the 2016 election. We now know that the supposedly apolitical FBI officials had huge political axes to grind.

I wonder how many of these ¨almost 10,000 text messages¨ will be published. But it is - at least - quite good there is now direct evidence against ¨Russia-gate¨, 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 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 (!!). 

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