March 28, 2018

Crisis: Facebook & Brexit, Piketty, Stormy Daniels, Trump´s Wars, Facebook Thefts


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 28, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, March 28, 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, but since 2010 in English) 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 March 28, 2018
1. Whistleblower: Facebook Data Likely Used for Brexit 
2. Thomas Piketty Sees Only One Way to Defeat the Rise of the Radical

3. Behind Stormy's Saga: Trump's Systematic Payoff Machine Is the Real

4. How Trump is Preparing for War
5. As Feds Launch Probe, Users Discover 'Horrifying' Reach of Facebook's
     Data Mining
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. Whistleblower: Facebook Data Likely Used for Brexit

This article is by Danica Kirka on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
The computer expert who alleges a trove of Facebook data was improperly used to help Donald Trump’s White House bid said Tuesday that he strongly believes the information was also used by the Brexit movement that persuaded Britain to quit the European Union.

In a 3½-hour hearing, Chris Wylie told the House of Commons media committee that he believes the breach exceeded the 50 million Facebook users reported earlier — though he didn’t give an exact figure. And he said the data compiled by the political consulting business Cambridge Analytica was available to other firms with links to it.

“All kinds of people had access to the data,” said Wylie, who helped develop Cambridge Analytica’s methods for using the information to target and persuade voters. “It was everywhere.”

Among the companies that had access to the data was AggregateIQ, a Canadian political consultant that did work for Vote Leave, the official campaign backing Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Wylie said.

I say, for I did not know most of this and it is quite interesting, simply because the above constitutes a - very small, in my own guess - part of the gigantic dishonesty and the astounding manipulations that are implicit in the intentional neofascistic model that Brzezinksi and his mates laid down already in the late 1960ies, and managed to incorporate in PCs and Apples.

I am sorry if you do not know more, and there is more here, but I will not repeat it here and now.

Here is more:

Wylie has previously alleged that Cambridge Analytica used personal data improperly collected from Facebook users to help Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Cambridge Analytica says none of the Facebook data was used in its work on the Trump campaign. It denies any wrongdoing.

And as I say ¨of course!¨ to Cambridge Analytica´s neofascism, I am willing to add that every 10 pounds their speakers earn that is more than the average English salary takes away 1 point in their over all credibility (with a limiting process for measures between 0.99 and 1). Using that hypothetical process, my faith in the truth of Cambridge´s Analytica´s pronouncedments can be estimated as being in the vicinity of 0.000001%, for they have far too much to loose to speak honestly about anything their firm does.

2. Thomas Piketty Sees Only One Way to Defeat the Rise of the Radical Right

This article is by Keith A. Spencer on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
In a new paper, French political economist Thomas Piketty, author of the bestselling 2013 book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," argues that Western political parties on the right and left have both become parties of the "elites."
I think that may very well be correct for Europe (where I live) and it is correct for the USA, where it is now much easier to predict voting behavior of elected politicians if you know which lobbyists pay them to get the decisions the lobbyists want (which tends to be a secret).

Then there is this, which I trust less because it seems to be directed against ¨the elite¨ and towards the most stupid:

Yet over time, those parties, Piketty explains, "gradually become associated with higher education voters," which he describes as creating a system of "multiple-elite" parties where "high-education elites now vote for the 'left,' while high-income/high-wealth elites still vote for the 'right' (though less and less so)." In other words, both sides of the spectrum became parties of the elite, with no party for less educated folks or the working class.

Piketty argues that this situation "contributes to rising  inequality and lack of democratic response to it," as well as the rise of populists like Trump, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage in Britain. "Without a strong egalitarian- internationalist platform, it is difficult to unite low- education, low-income voters from all origins within the same party," he writes.

What I have against this is mostly the language, which is in terms of ¨elites¨ (which is a very vague and pliable term, though some people really are naturally more intelligent, taller, or better tennis players than others), while I have seen something like 45 years of utter abuse of the term ¨elite¨ by the - extremely quasi ¨leftist¨, very Stalinistic, extremely dishonest - student- politicians that ruled the Dutch universities from 1971 till 1995 (after which the complete ¨democracy¨ in the Dutch ¨universities¨ was totally quashed and all power was given - once again - to a handful of complete authoritarians).

Apart from the language, Pikkety´s ideas appear fairly normal (but since I am an intellectual who - unlike most intellectuals - did get born to real proletarians who had no more than 2 guilders 50 cents (less than a dollar) + a stove when they married, I do not share many of the myths shared by intellectuals, born from intellectuals, about ¨the working class¨).

Here is more:

Meanwhile, the strategy of Bernie Sanders — mirrored in other left organizing groups in the United States that seek to push the Democratic Party to the left, including Our Revolution and Democratic Socialists of America — is to offer a more serious material analysis of the underpinnings of oppression and suffering in the United States, and to scapegoat income inequality caused by an unjust economic system propped up by the elite. Sanders and his counterparts overseas, particularly U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, offer that aforementioned "strong egalitarian-internationalist platform" that has the potential to "unite low-education, low-income voters from all origins," as Piketty describes.

Well, perhaps. Here is the ending of this article:

For Berniecrats, democratic socialists and those even further left, there's much to love in Piketty's paper. His conclusion, one echoed by the Sanders wing of the Democratic party, is essentially that ostensibly "left" parties — e.g. the Democrats in the United States, Labour in the U.K. or the Socialist Party in France — have lost the constituencies they once supported and now appeal to the elite, leaving a vast underclass politically unrepresented and rudderless. Piketty is giving them a rudder, if the parties can seize it.

Well... here is one relevant question:

If the ¨
ostensibly "left" parties¨ now do listen to and ¨appeal to the elite¨ (which elite, by the way?), then why would the ¨low-education, low-income voters from all origins¨ not be listening to ¨the elite¨ (in the papers they may read, and the television they may view)?!

I am just asking and did not find this article very interesting, that is, apart from avoidable nonsense about a totally unspecified ¨elite¨.

3. Behind Stormy's Saga: Trump's Systematic Payoff Machine Is the Real Story

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

What's unfolding isn't just a story about a rich man's extracurricular liaisons or his alleged episodes of illegal sexual misconduct. The first isn't really of much interest except to the extent that it exposes the flagrant hypocrisy of his supporters, who rent their garments over the personal immorality of presidents of the past and now profess to be uninterested in such private matters. The second is a disgrace that may yet have a reckoning if another accuser, Summer Zervos, gets her day in court.

But beyond the cultural and social aspects of this scandal and what it says about the privileges of rich, white men and the exploitation of women, there is another serious issue of national civic importance. This is a story about a rich (and now extremely powerful) man who is so worried about being exposed or blackmailed that he has everyone who works for him sign nondisclosure agreements. Now it appears that he set up an elaborate system for paying hush money to keep people quiet. If Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels are telling the truth this system may include coercion, conspiracy and threats of violence.

Yes indeed: That may all be quite correct, and I also agree with Parton that one cannot trust a president who forces those who work for him to ¨sign nondisclosure agreements¨.

There is also the problem of the threats:

Those alleged threats would sound much more far-fetched if it weren't for the fact that Cohen himself is known to threaten people with language out of a grade-B gangster movie, and if Trump's former bodyguard Keith Schiller wasn't on film manhandling reporters at Trump's instruction (among other things). According to BuzzFeed, in 2009 an attorney representing some of the people who stood to lose fortunes in Trump's umpteenth casino bankruptcy reported a threatening phone call to the FBI in which the person said, "My name is Carmine. I don’t know why you’re fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids." They traced the call to a pay phone in New York, across the street from where Trump was appearing on David Letterman at the same time.
I agree to this. In sum, my own guesses are that the threats did happen, but they probably are less dangerous as long as Trump is president. (But these are mere guesses.)

And this is from the ending of this article:

Donald Trump could not pass a background check to work as a security guard at the Mall of America, much less the White House. It is clear that he has paid hush money to people and worked in concert with friends to keep them quiet. All of this can only lend more credibility to the suspicion that he might be subject to blackmail by other people, beyond the women with whom he's had sex.
Yes, I agree - but this is a guess. And this is a recommended paper.

4. How Trump is Preparing for War

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

What’s worrying isn’t that Trump is now getting advice about policy from fanatics like John Bolton and Lawrence Kudlow. Trump has never cared about policy.

The real worry is that – with Robert Mueller breathing down his neck, and several special elections suggesting a giant “blue wave” in November – Trump is getting ready to do whatever it takes to maintain his power, even if that requires fanatical policies.

Trump is preparing for an epic war over the future of his presidency. This has required purging naysayers from his Cabinet and White House staff, and replacing them with bomb-throwing advocates like Bolton and Kudlow. 

I think this is a reasonable guess. Here is more:

Fox News is preparing for the same war, and has made a parallel purge – removing Trump critics like George Will, Megyn Kelly, and Rich Lowry, and installing Trump marketers like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Sebastian Gorka.

Trump and Fox News are also approaching the war with the same story.

Some of it is by now familiar: Liberals have opened America to hostile forces – unauthorized immigrants, Muslims, Chinese traders, criminal gangs, drug dealers, government bureaucrats, coastal elites (Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi), North Korea, Iran, and “political correctness” in all its forms.

Trump intends to protect America from these forces.

Yes, and this is totalitarian in all its aspects - except that it cannot be by the neofascist redefining of the meaning of ¨totalitarian¨ on the extremely fastly worsening Wikipedia.

On Wikipedia none of the above can possibly be in any sense ¨totalitarian¨ for no persons, no plans, no values, no ideas, no political parties, no papers - in brief, absolutely nothing can be  called ¨totalitarian¨ according to the neofascistic recent redefinition of the term there, unless each of these activities take part in a ¨totalitarian state¨

It also implies that George Orwell and myself must have been total idiots when we use the term in our senses, and that I have been completely dreaming about totalitarianism of any kind except in totalitarian states (specifically: Russia and China).

I think the redefinition was intentionally falsifying, is very sick, and has, probably forever, completely altered my credibility in utter and intentional liars of this level.

And I stop with further reviewing this here and now, except for referring you to Wikipedia´s own post (!!) on the not very honest Jimmy Wales, who started it all with Larry Sanger, except that Wales likes to eradicate all references to Sanger. (And here is more about Wikipedia´s criticism of Wikipedia.)

Back to Reich´s article:

Trump has made John Bolton his National Security Advisor not because Bolton has valuable insights about foreign affairs, but because Bolton – for years, an on-air fixture on Fox News – is a showman who knows how to sell big lies and crazy ideas, and thereby help Trump in the looming battles. 

Quite possibly so. Here is the ending of this article:

“He’s looking for people who are ready to be part of that television White House,” says Kendall Phillips, a communication studies professor at Syracuse University. “This is the Fox television presidency all the way up and down.”

How can a television presidency be dangerous? Because it is solely about marketing Trump. Its only goal is to win. It is unconstrained by truth, reason, or the Constitution. It doesn’t give a fig about the public.

When the occupant of the White House and the sycophants surrounding him are prepared to do and use anything – including trade wars with China and possibly hot wars with North Korea and Iran – to win a political war at home, nothing and no one is safe.

I mostly agree, although I think Trump does ¨give a fig about the public¨´s ideas and values, though I agree he does not ¨give a fig about the public¨´s interests. And this is a recommended article.

5. As Feds Launch Probe, Users Discover 'Horrifying' Reach of Facebook's Data Mining

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
As the fallout from Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal continued on Monday with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) announcement that it is conducting a long-overdue probe into the tech giant's privacy practices, many Facebook users are only now discovering the astonishing and in some cases downright "creepy" reach of the platform's data-mining operations, which form the foundation of its business model.
Yes indeed. I must say I am a bit skeptical about the Facebook probe, though I admit that this is not due to its necessity (I agree), but to the probable fact that it will not get much from either Zuckerberg of Facebook about its actual policies and practices, where it only on the ground that honesty about these matters might cost Zuckerberg - who worked himself up from nothing to a $70 billion billionaire in a few years of defrauding billions of his users - some money.

Anyway. Here is more:
After a New Zealand man named Dylan McKay called attention in a viral tweet
last week to the alarming fact that Facebook had collected his "entire call history" with his partner's mother and "metadata about every text message [he's] ever received or sent," other Facebook users began downloading their archive of personal data the social media giant had stored and discovered that McKay's experience was hardly anomalous.
Yes indeed, and I add that - according to me - Facebook really operates on the same rules that the NSA uses: Collect anything and everything you can get, but bullshit and lie about it as mucgh as you can.

Here is one of the many tricks Facebook used (and remember that the vast majority of its over 2 billion users are ignorant about computing, ignorant about programming, ignorant about law, and ignorant about the very many deceptions of Zuckerberg):
"While data collection was technically 'opt-in,' in both these cases the opt-in was the default installation mode for Facebook's application, not a separate notification of data collection," Ars reported. "Facebook never explicitly revealed that the data was being collected, and it was only discovered as part of a review of the data associated with the accounts."
Yes indeed. And here is more about the level of detail that Mark Zuckerberg actively tried to know about absolutely everyone:
Facebook "had the phone number of my late grandmother who never had a Facebook account, or even an email address," O'Brien wrote. "It preserved the conversations I had with an ex—someone with whom I thought I had deleted my digital ties. It even recalled times I was 'poked,' a feature I had forgotten about."
In brief, Facebook downloads and keeps (forever, presumably) absoutely anything on everyone who got to be its member, including (i) the phone number of dead grandmothers who never even had an email account, and also (ii) all the data of all the ¨friends¨ (hundreds, it seems) that Facebooks chooses to assign to you, for this is how Cambridge Analytica could get the data of 50 million American users of Facebook from 250,000 original data.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
According to polling data conducted in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, it appears that Facebook is going to have a difficult time regaining lost trust. A Reuters/Ipsos survey published on Sunday found that just 41 percent of Americans "trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information."
I do hope so, but I grant I am quite skeptical, indeed in part because ¨41 percent of Americans "trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information"", for that is utter rot hardly anyone could know.

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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