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Nederlog

April 10, 2018

Crisis: Greenwald On Lula, Wozniak, Assange, Stormy Daniels, Wealth-Deprived Americans


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 10, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, April 10, 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 April 10, 2018
1. Glenn Greenwald: Brazil’s Right Wing Jailed Ex-President Lula Because
     They Couldn’t Win at the Polls
 
2. Apple Co-founder Closes Facebook Account
3. On the Silencing of Julian Assange
4. Acting on Referral from Mueller, FBI Raids Office and Home of Trump's
     Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen
5. Three More Reasons for Wealth-Deprived Americans to Take to the
     Streets
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. Glenn Greenwald: Brazil’s Right Wing Jailed Ex-President Lula Because They Couldn’t Win at the Polls

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
In Brazil, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has begun serving a 12-year sentence for a controversial corruption conviction. After missing a 5 p.m. Friday deadline, Lula turned himself in to police on Saturday following a standoff during which he spent the night in São Paulo’s steelworkers’ union building. Lula’s supporters gathered outside, many hoping he would defy orders to surrender. On Saturday, Lula addressed thousands of his supporters and members of his Workers’ Party. Last week, the Supreme Court rejected Lula’s bid to stay out of jail while he appealed his conviction, effectively removing him from Brazil’s presidential election later this year, where he was the front-runner. Lula is a former union leader who served as president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. During that time, he helped lift tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty. His supporters say the ruling against him is a continuation of the right-wing coup that ousted Lula’s ally, President Dilma Rousseff, from power in 2015. Last year, Rousseff said, “The first chapter of the coup was my impeachment. But there’s a second chapter, and that is stopping President Lula from becoming a candidate for next year’s elections.” Still with us in Rio de Janeiro is Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.
Yes indeed, and this is a good summary, and also the beginning of one of three interviews with Glenn Greenwald on the latest Democracy Now!, that I can all recommend.

Here is first some more quite recent background from this interview:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in Brazil, former President [Luiz] Inácio Lula da Silva has begun serving a 12-year sentence for a controversial corruption conviction. After missing a 5 p.m. Friday deadline, Lula turned himself in to police on Saturday, following a standoff during which he spent the night in São Paulo’s steelworkers’ union building. Lula’s supporters gathered outside, many hoping he would defy orders to surrender. On Saturday, Lula addressed thousands of his supporters and members of his Workers’ Party.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I am doing a very conscious, very conscious thing. I told the comrades that if it depends on my will, I would not go. But I will go. I am going because they are going to say tomorrow that Lula is out of the way, that Lula is hidden. No, I am not hiding. I am going to go there and see their faces, so they know I’m not afraid, so they know that I am not going to run, and so they know I’m going to prove my innocence. They need to know that. … I want to go there and tell the delegate, “I am at your disposal.” The history of the next few days will prove that the delegate who accused me was the one who committed the crime. It was the judge who judged me, and the public ministry lied to me.

Most of this is new to me. Here is some more on the background:
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, the Brazilian Supreme Court rejected of Lula’s bid to stay out of jail while he appealed his conviction, effectively removing him from Brazil’s presidential election later this year, where he was the front-runner. Lula is a former union leader who served as president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. During that time, he helped lift tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty. His supporters say the ruling against him is a continuation of the right-wing coup that ousted Lula’s ally, President Dilma Rousseff, from power in 2015. Last year, Dilma Rousseff said, quote, “The first chapter of the coup was my impeachment. But there’s a second chapter, and that is stopping President Lula from becoming a candidate for next year’s elections.”
I think Lula and Rousseff are right, and here is Glenn Greenwald (who lives in Brazil and knows Portuguese):
GLENN GREENWALD (...) If you look at the last 16 years in Brazil, it’s so important to keep in mind that the Workers’ Party, which Lula helped found and then led, has won four consecutive national elections in this country—2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. And the two people who won those elections and who became president were—the first two was Lula, and the second two was Dilma. Last year, or, rather, in 2016, Dilma was impeached, so she was removed from office, even though she was the elected president, and installed in her place was somebody who could never have won, somebody who has embraced a right-wing ideology that would never have prevailed in any election, so the entire ideology of the country was changed with no election, by removing Dilma from office, even though she had won two elections. And now, Lula, who not only won re-election with an overwhelming mandate, but was planning on running for president again this year—there’s an election later this year—and was leading in all polls—it was, I think, almost a certainty that he was going to win—has now been removed from being able to run, and put into prison.
There is considerably more in this interview, and there also are two more interviews with Greenwald made on the same day on Democracy Now! and they are all recommended.

2. Apple Co-founder Closes Facebook Account

This article is by Anonymous on Truthdig (no name given) while it appeared originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is shutting down his Facebook account as the social media giant struggles to cope with the worst privacy crisis in its history.

In an email to USA Today, Wozniak said Facebook makes a lot of advertising money from personal details provided by users. He said the “profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.”

Wozniak said he’d rather pay for Facebook.

“Apple makes money off of good products, not off of you,” he said.

To start with, a little bit of personal information:

I have used personal computers since 1979, and could do so because a good friend of mine then had the money to buy an Apple II, which came in 1979 with no floppy disk whatsoever: one had to save one´s data on a cassette deck (that since then also almost totally disappeared), and it did only one thing well, which was programming in Basic, but this it did very well indeed (and much better than Microsoft´s later GWBasic, that always seemed horrible to me).

Also, since 1979 I like Steve Wozniak, who was the real developer and technical wizard of the early Apples, and disliked Steve Jobs, who seemed to excel in selling, but not in computing.

For the most part, I still think so, but I also should admit that while I did have several friends who had Apples and MacIntoshes (etc.) because they liked the interface and had the money, and I also could use early graphical Apples in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam, I have otherwise almost completely avoided Apple, mostly for lack of money, but also not with any feeling of loss.

Now back to Wozniak and the article:

I like it that Steve Wozniak gave up his Facebook account, and I agree with his reasons (and think everybody on Facebook with an IQ over 100 should leave it).

Then again, I also think he is mistaken in two points:

I don´t think that paying Facebook will make much of a difference as long as one does not get
(i) the full and complete story of which of one´s own data are appropriated by Facebook, and
(ii) the commercial use made of them and of payments received for them. And I believe that one can put the probability that Facebook will give these data at around 0.

Also, while it may be true that Apple does not make much money of its buyers in the rich Western countries (and I don´t know this), it certainly is also true that Apple made its very large profits by having its computers made by very low paid workers in Third World countries.

And here is some more on Wozniak:

In an interview late Monday in Philadelphia with The Associated Press, Wozniak said he had been thinking for a while of deleting his account and made the move after several of his trusted friends deleted their Facebook accounts last week.

It’s “a big hypocrisy not respecting my privacy when (Facebook CEO Mark) Zuckerberg buys all the houses around his and all the lots around his in Hawaii for his own privacy,” Wozniak said. “He knows the value of it, but he’s not looking after mine.”

Yes, I completely agree that Zuckerberg very well knows what ¨privacy¨ means. He just does not want to give it to any of its users who are not billionaires themselves, and he doesn´t because stealing their private data made him one of the richest people ever within 10 years.

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

Wozniak said he doesn’t believe in the current system that Facebook can fix its privacy issues, saying he doesn’t think Facebook is going to change its policies “for decades.”

Yes, I agree with this - and besides, I also think Facebook does not want to give up anything by which it hopes to profit, while most of these things go squarely against decent privacy for its users. And this is a recommended article.


3. On the Silencing of Julian Assange

This article is by Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
After nearly six years in exile holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in the heart of London, Wikileaks founder and publishing visionary Julian Assange has suffered another body blow; Assange, who has been absolved of all accusations, has now been rendered incommunicado inside the tiny embassy in the Knightsbridge section of London.

This latest attack on Assange, this shut down of crucial communication devices, obviously challenges Wikileaks publishing activities and undermines the crucial work of this incredibly important global news and publishing service.

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

In the following interviews with noted journalist and filmmaker John Pilger and Christine Assange, mother of the WikiLeaks founder, we attempt to shed some light on the crucial case of Julian Assange and why he should finally be freed from further prosecution so that he can continue unfettered the great work WikiLeaks has done as one of the most significant publishers of government whistleblowers in modern history.

In fact, this is a fairly long and quite good interview of which I will select only a small part to review. (You can get all of it by clicking the above title.)

Here is John Pilger:

John Pilger:  No, I haven’t spoken to Julian.  It’s not possible. They have done more than cut off the Internet, they have cut off the phone.  Ecuadorian authorities have placed a blocker on all communications at the embassy. Perhaps worst of all, he is denied visitors.  I know that his lawyers are meeting today and there is possibly a meeting with the Ecuadorians. Beyond that, I don’t know anything.

You can appreciate the effect of these measures on someone who has been effectively imprisoned in a very small space without sunlight for going on six years now.  This is tragic and it is coming from a small country that recognized the justice in the Assange case and gave him political asylum.

While I am not excusing this government’s actions, we must recognize that it is under direct pressure from the United States, which is rolling back so many of the so-called progressive governments in Latin America.
I did not know all of that and in fact I do not see any justification for cutting of Assange´s phone and denying him visitors.

Here is some more by Pilger:

JP:  (..) There is a particular cruelty being imposed on Julian Assange because he is the embodiment of dissent which is missing across the political spectrum in Western countries.  He has become the enemy to governments in the West.

Taking away his right to communicate is an attack on freedom of speech.  It is an attack on our rights as well as his.

Yes, I agree with this. Here is more:

JP:  What is happening to Julian is part of a very aggressive campaign against democracy, against dissent.  At the moment, that campaign is at a critical stage.

We are witnessing a massive provocation of Russia.  We have the biggest military build-up since World War II on the western borders of Russia.  At the same time we have the biggest military build-up since World War II in the Pacific. The issue here is that the dominance of the United States is being challenged.  That is intolerable.

That campaign to provoke the two powers of Russia and China is reaching a kind of critical mass.  It is very dangerous. There is a great deal of talk about a trade war. What we should be talking about is the prospect of a shooting war. Provocations of Russia now are so extreme.

And I agree with that as well. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

JP:  (...) What we are seeing is the latest in a long campaign against WikiLeaks that seeks to criminalize journalism.  A document which WikiLeaks published from 2008 made it clear that an organization within the Pentagon laid down what the plan would be as far as WikiLeaks was concerned.  The strategy was to destroy trust in WikiLeaks and destroy its editor. That was the plan ten years ago and that plan is basically being carried out.

This document makes very clear that the threat was truth.
I think this is true as well. There is considerably more in the interview with Pilger, and there also is an interesting interview with Assange´s mother as part of the article. It is all strongly recommended.
4. Acting on Referral from Mueller, FBI Raids Office and Home of Trump's Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Federal agents on Monday afternoon raided the offices of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen—raising suspicions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered information about Cohen's legal dealings on behalf of the president, including a payment to an adult film actress.

Cohen said in February that he personally paid Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000—just days before the election—in order to keep her silent about a sexual relationship she says she had with the president in 2006.

Acting on a referral from Mueller, who has been investigating the Trump campaign with a focus on Russia's meddling in the election, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant for Cohen's office. The U.S. Attorney's office then ordered the FBI to seize emails between Trump and Cohen, tax records, and other business documents, according to the New York Times.

I think all of this is correct, and here is a bit more:

"The payments to Ms. Clifford are only one of many topics being investigated," the Times reported.

The Washington Post reported in March that Mueller was investigating "episodes involving Michael Cohen." The longtime Trump associate had been involved in business negotiations between the Trump Organization and a Russian developer during the campaign, and had emailed President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson about the project.

In fact, there are several other articles about Cohen and Stormy Daniels, but none was very informative. It is my guess there soon will be more.

5. Three More Reasons for Wealth-Deprived Americans to Take to the Streets

This article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
It's starting to happen, as teachers around the country are fighting back against income and wealth inequality. At least 3 of every 4 Americans have been cheated out of a share of U.S. productivity since the 1980s. The approximately one of four Americans who have prospered, especially those in the top 5%, generally don't seem to care much about inequality, and instead hang onto delusions about their own self-worth and the struggles of people who "don't work hard enough." 

From various trusted sources come maddening facts about the relentlessly expanding wealth divide. Inequality is a perversion of human conduct, as most of society's new benefits have derived from automation, and thus from decades of public input, taxpayer funding, and government research. But the beneficiaries are those who are well-connected to the corporate and financial processes exploiting that growth, mainly through stock ownership.
I agree completely with the first paragraph quoted above. In fact, I go considerably further in my ¨On Socialism¨ for there I proposed one single difference that would not hurt 97% of the people alive:
A limitation of incomes to within 20 times as much as the least able receive (which must be more than enough to have a decent life) would not loose 97% of the current population anything.

In fact, I'd be willing to try just that: A system like the present one, but one which is considerably more fair, and where all incomes (and all ownership of things) are limited to be within (in Euro's) between 15,000 and 300,000 (within 1 to 20 times as much).

Is that socialism? Probably not, for socialism seems to involve considerable expropriation of the rich, on Orwell's line or my repropriation-lines. Then again, the proposed system amounts to little more than fixing the maximum amount  that anyone can own or earn at 20 times of what the poorest can own or earn, which means that 97% of the people will not loose a cent (and may gain considerably).

Finally, will this system be adopted? Not as long as the media are in the hands of the few who get a lot more than 300,000 euros or dollars a year. But at any rate it is a system were only the very rich loose money; everyone else retains what he or she had or receives more; where things can be arranged much more fairly; and that differs little from the existing system, except that there is a cap on incomes and on ownership.
I still think that this is a reasonable proposal (and the amounts I selected are relative to the present earnings in Western Europe), and I also think it will not be realized as long as the few very rich control the media.

Then again, apart from all proposals of any kind of socialism, there is this:
(1) In Just the Last 3 Years, the Richest 5% Gained an Average of $800,000 While the Poorest 50% LOST Wealth 

This information comes from the 2017 Global Wealth Databook, and is summarized here. Incredibly, the richest 5% of Americans increased their average wealth from about $4 million to nearly $5 million since the end of 2014. 

Meanwhile, the average household wealth of the poorest 50% actually went DOWN by about $200.
I think that is a fact (and you can check the links). Here is more:
(2) The Wealth Owned by 90% of Us in the 1980s Has Been Redistributed to the Richest .1% 

The charts below from the World Inequality Lab reveal this terrible truth about the past 35 years:
  • The richest 125,000 households owned 7 percent of the wealth then, 22 percent now 
  • The poorest 112,000,000 households owned 37 percent of the wealth then, 23 percent now 
So nearly 15 percent of our nation's total household wealth — $14 trillion! — has been transfered from middle-class America to people with an average net worth of $75 million.
Again I think that is a fact (and you can check the links). Here is more:
(3) Businesses Cheat on Taxes Even More Than We Thought We Knew 

It was recently reported by Sam Pizzigati that only 1 percent of wage-based income goes unreported on federal tax filings, while the percentage for self-reporting entities ranges from 16 percent for partnerships to a stunning 63 percent for nonfarm proprietors. The overall tax gap (difference between what's owed and paid on time) is estimated to be close to a half-trillion dollars per year. That's nearly half the entire safety net.
I believe this is also true. And there is considerably more in the article, that is strongly recommended.


Note

[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 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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