May 20, 2018

Crisis: On Corporations, Trump´s Foreign Help, Exit Democracy, Trump´s Crimes, On Gaza


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 20, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 20, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from May 20, 2018:
1. We the Corporations
2. The New York Times Just Revealed a Second Trump Tower Meeting
3. Dismantling Democracy, One Word at a Time
4. Donald Trump Really Shouldn't Have Run for President
5. The Massacre in Gaza: A Deliberate and Calculated Policy
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. We the Corporations

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
In this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” host and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer welcomes Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA’s School of Law, and the author of “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights.” His new book tells the 200-year history leading up to the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which gave corporations the right to political speech.
I like Truthdig and I like Robert Scheer, and these are two good reasons to keep looking at Scheer Intelligence, which is a nice and interesting series of - long - weekly interviews. This is another one. The theme is American law and the corporations, as indicated. O, and one of the other good things is that they are written out (which saves me a whole lot of time and usually also a lot of irritation, simply because I read a whole lot faster than I can speak).

Here is some from the beginning on Winkler´s views:

In their conversation, Winkler tells Scheer that corporations have been highly successful in obtaining rights in part because they have been able to hire very capable and creative lawyers.

“Corporations have always been able to hire those good lawyers, and file risky lawsuits that even if they have a strong chance they’re going to lose, they may be worth part of the cost of doing business, if you will, for corporations,” Winkler says. “And so they’ve been able to finance litigation over and over and over again, and one of the surprising things that really comes out of that is that as a result, corporations have often been innovators and first movers in American constitutional law, often helping to breathe life into certain constitutional provisions that only later would be read broadly by the court to protect women and minorities and you and me.”

Winkler addes that a constitutional amendment to ban corporate rights would be a mistake because corporations do need some constitutional protections, including the right to due process and free speech.

“Corporations need basic protections for their property rights. Otherwise, the government could come and seize a corporation’s assets without paying just compensation,” Winkler explains. “We want corporations to have due process rights, so Apple can fight against the federal government and the FBI when it says, we want you to open up this iPhone. Apple wouldn’t do that if it didn’t have due process rights. And, of course, we want corporations like The New York Times and CNN to have, even though they’re corporations, to have some free speech rights. Otherwise, they could be censored. So I think we need to have a nuanced approach to the rights of corporations. They need some constitutional protections, but that doesn’t mean they need all the same constitutional protections as you and me.”

I think I disagree with Winkler - and I especially dislike it to be automatically rendered a supporter of him by him by his use of ¨Ẅe want..¨, ¨we want..¨, ¨we need..¨.

And my reasons are not so much that I am against corporations per se (although they would completely cease to exist under real socialism, which I am a propounder of, but without believing in its realizability these days), but that, if we pretend capitalism is the only workable economical system, which Winkler seems to do, ¨we¨ - that is he and I, and he and others - need to have far better ideas about capitalism and law then almost anyone has, myself included.

Here is the last bit I quote from this introduction to a long interview:

And Winkler and Scheer discuss the controversial application of the 14th Amendment, originally adopted to protect the rights of freed slaves but later applied to protect corporations.

“The obscenity that your book describes is that this court system, which is this branch of government which we somehow have come to think of as the saving grace of democracy, actually destroyed the meaning of this amendment,” Scheer says. “Really, now, you can’t put too fine a point on it. Because the idea that this amendment was used primarily for the first, what, 70 or 80 years or longer to benefit corporations while keeping black people in bondage—slavery, or segregation, certainly—while keeping women in an indentured servant’s status, as objects. What your book details, you don’t put that harsh a point on it, it’s not a rhetorical book, but the fact is, it’s the subversion of the 14th Amendment, by the corporations, by the rich.”

“That’s right,” Winkler says. “It’s one of the most remarkable stories, I think, in the history of the Supreme Court. The 14th Amendment, adopted after the Civil War to protect the rights of the newly freed slaves.”

There is a whole lot more, and in fact I did not quote from the intervuew at all, but only from Scheer´s introduction. It is recommended were if only because I did get a somewhat better understanding of American law.

2. The New York Times Just Revealed a Second Trump Tower Meeting

This article is by Madison Pauly on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:
Last July, the New York Times was the first to reveal Donald Trump Jr.’s much-scrutinized Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin emissary who had promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Today, the Times followed up with another blockbuster report revealing that Trump Jr. took a second Trump Tower meeting before the election—this time, with an Israeli social media specialist, an emissary of two Arab crown princes, and Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, a private military company now called Academi.
I say. I did not know this, and Erik Prince plus Blackwater - that renamed itself to ¨Academi¨ but continues to exist - are very sick examples of the kind of powers Trump likes to use. Then again, I have an additional question, having heard from the NYT since one and a half year that ¨Russia did it, Russia did it, Russia did it¨, all with extremely little relevant evidence, and it is this: Is this evidence that the NYT is changing its propaganda?

I am just asking and in fact have no idea, although I think the propaganda against Russia - that now lasted over 1 1/2 years - was and is basically bullshit, and not because Russia did not do anything (they did, but so did many others, including other countries) but because there still is no credible evidence that the Russians did win the American elections for Trump. (In fact, this may well have been Cambridge Analytica + Steve Bannon.)

Anyway... Trump also was being helped by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates:
The purpose of the meeting was to offer help for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and it took place three months before the election, the Times reports. The Israeli social media specialist, Joel Zamel, had drawn up a “multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort,” while the emissary, George Nader, told Trump Jr. that the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were “eager to help” Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
And in case you didn´t know, there is this quotation from the New York Times:
It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections, and it is unclear what—if any—direct assistance Saudi Arabia and the Emirates may have provided. But two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.
I say. And this is a recommended article.
3. Dismantling Democracy, One Word at a Time

This article is by Karen J. Greenberg on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:

Consider us officially in an Orwellian world, though we only half realize it. While we were barely looking, significant parts of an American language long familiar to us quite literally, and in a remarkably coherent way, went down the equivalent of George Orwell’s infamous Memory Hole.

This hit me in a personal way recently. I was asked to give a talk at an annual national security conference held in downtown Manhattan and aimed largely at an audience of college students. The organizer, who had pulled together a remarkable array of speakers, encountered problems in one particular area: his efforts to include representatives of the Trump administration in the gathering. Initially, administration officials he dealt with wouldn’t even divulge the names of possible participants, only their titles, leaving who was coming a mystery until days before the conference opened.

In addition, before agreeing to send speakers, his contacts at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known by the acronym ICE, had not just requested but insisted that the word “refugee” be removed from the conference program. It was to appear in a description of a panel entitled “Refugee Programs, Immigration, Customs and Border Protection.”
Meanwhile, the actual names of Department of Homeland Security officials coming to speak were withheld until three days before the event. Finally, administration representatives in touch with the conference organizers insisted that the remarks of any government representatives could not be taped, which meant, ultimately, that none of the proceedings could be taped. As a result, this conference was not recorded for posterity.

I say?! I did not know this, but I did identify Donald Trump as a neofascist in 2016, and this is fascism or neofascism, indeed by sick superhumans - ¨Übermensche¨, in German, like SS´ers and SA´ers and Gestapoers - from Trump´s fascistic and sadistic government.

This is plain fascism. And here is Greenberg, still from the start of her fine article:

For me -- and I’ve been observing the national security landscape for years now -- this was something of a new low when it came to surrounding a previously open event in a penumbra of secrecy. It made me wonder how many other organizers across the country had been strong-armed in a similar fashion, how many words had been removed from various programs, and how much of what an American citizen should know now went unrecorded.
Yes indeed, and these are good questions. Here is more on the evident fascism of Trump´s government:
[N]ot once in all those years had I been asked to change the language of an event, to wipe a word or phrase out of the program of the moment. It would have been an unthinkable violation.

The very idea that the government can control what words we use and don’t at a university-related event seems to violate everything we as a country hold dear about the independence of educational institutions from government control, not to mention the sanctity of free speech and the importance of public debate. But that, of course, was in the era before Donald Trump became president.

And Donald Trump is a (neo-)fascist, as his government. There is a lot more in this fine article, that ends as follows:

It might be worth reflecting on the words of Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister for Hitler’s Nazi Party. He had a clear-eyed vision of the importance of disguising the ultimate goal of his particular campaign against democracy and truth. “The secret of propaganda,” he said, is to “permeate the person it aims to grasp without his even noticing that he is being permeated.”

Consider this a word of warning to the wise. Perhaps instead of hurling insults at President Trump’s incompetence and the seeming disarray of his presidency, it might be worth taking a step back and asking ourselves whether there is indeed a larger goal in mind: namely, a slow, patient, incremental dismantling of democracy, beginning with its most precious words.

I say that Trump is a neofascist who is trying to make the USA into an authoritarian racist type of American fascism, and who is succeeding. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Donald Trump Really Shouldn't Have Run for President

This article is by William Rivers Pitt on Truthout. It starts as follows:

After such a wild and wooly week in Washington, it behooves me to ask an all-important yet oft-ignored question: Why would a man run for president when the skeletons in his closet are so numerous they have their own union? It is hardly a secret that Donald J. Trump is the premier grifter of the late 20th and early 21st century, the moral inheritor of Charles Ponzi, Marc Drier and Bernie Madoff. In the words of columnist Paul Madoff:

He may well be the single most corrupt major business figure in the United States of America. He ran scams like Trump University to con struggling people out of their money. He lent his name to pyramid schemes. He bankrupted casinos and still somehow made millions while others were left holding the bag. He refused to pay vendors. He exploited foreign workers. He used illegal labor. He discriminated against African-American renters. He violated antitrust laws. He did business with the mob and with Eastern European kleptocrats. His properties became the go-to vehicle for Russian oligarchs and mobsters to launder their money.

Add to all that the fact that almost none of this is a secret if you ask the right people in Manhattan, Moscow or Atlantic City, and what you wind up with is a guy who really should have stayed out of politics.

Indeed. That is, I think Pitt may very well be quite right on Trump´s many crimes. There is considerably more in this fine article, that is strongly recommended.

5. The Massacre in Gaza: A Deliberate and Calculated Policy

This article is by Steven Chovanec on Truthout. This starts as follows:

Palestinian blood continued to pour along the border fence with Gaza on May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding.

Israeli soldiers wounded more than 2,700 Palestinian protesters and killed dozens more with rifle fire on Monday. At least five children were killed, including an 8-month-old baby girl who died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers. Today, a few hundred Palestinians have defiantly returned to protest near the Gaza fence after yesterday’s carnage. Early reports indicate that there has already been one death and dozens of injuries from live ammunition and gas inhalation, while casualties have been reported during separate protests in the West Bank.

For more than a month, Israeli soldiers have been shooting and killing unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, using high-powered sniper rifles and live ammunition.

Palestinians have been shot while kneeling for prayer. They have been shot in the back. Children have been targeted and killed. Journalists, clearly marked as such, have been shot, killed and maimed. Thousands have been injured, and some have had to amputate their limbs to survive their injuries.

I think all of this is correct, horrible, sickening and cowardly as this is. Here is more:

No evidence has been presented showing that Palestinians have posed a threat to the Israeli snipers pulling the triggers. The Israeli soldiers are positioned hundreds of yards away, perched behind a hill, wearing full battle gear. They are comfortably shooting at the Palestinians through sniper scopes, from a safe distance from which they are in no danger.

What's more, the justifications that the Israeli government has given to defend this practice do not even attempt to deny these facts. Statements such as Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's claim that "anyone who approaches the fence is putting his life in jeopardy" instead seek to justify the firing of live ammunition against unarmed protesters who pose no legitimate threat.

Quite so. Here is more on Gaza:

Norman Finkelstein, one of the leading scholars of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has pointed out that the Palestinians who are being shot by Israeli snipers are "civilians peacefully protesting their forced incarceration" in the Gaza Strip, which has been subject to a cruel and inhumane blockade since the Israeli army withdrew from it in 2005.

Many point to the withdrawal as proof that Gaza is not occupied, yet Israel still controls the land, air and sea surrounding Gaza, as well as its electricity and water. It subjects Gaza to a suffocating blockade, leading to shortages of basic necessities. Nearly all of Gaza's inhabitants are prevented from leaving, caged within what dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky describes as "the world's largest open-air prison," and what former Israeli National Security Council head Giora Eiland called "a huge concentration camp."

There is a lot more in this fine article that I leave to your interests. The article ends as follows:

The fact that the Israeli military's killing of Palestinian protesters isn't considered terrorism betrays the vicious double standard held by those shaping the policies and narratives in this situation: Israelis and Americans are seen as human beings. Palestinians are not.

I am afraid that the last statement is a plain statement of fact. And this is a strongly 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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