May 27, 2018

Crisis: Edward Snowden, Neofascist ¨Democrats¨, Exit Insects, On Gina Haspel, Privacy


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 27, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 27, 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 27, 2018:
1. Edward Snowden on Privacy in the Age of Trump and Facebook
2. How Two House Democrats Defended Helping the GOP Weaken
     Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations

3. The Silence of the Bugs
4. Reflections on Gina Haspel’s Confirmation
5. As New Privacy Rules Hit Europe, Google and Facebook Hit With $8.8
     Billion in Lawsuits
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. Edward Snowden on Privacy in the Age of Trump and Facebook

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Exactly five years ago this week, Edward Snowden absconded to Hong Kong with a trove of documents detailing the extent of the U.S. government’s global and domestic surveillance programs. He soon found himself in exile in Russia and dubbed “the most wanted man in the world.” The Snowden leaks started a new conversation about digital privacy and online security, and even led to changes in the law. But more recently we’ve discovered it isn’t just Big Government that poses a massive threat to our privacy, but also Big Tech. Facebook, for example, exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy employed by the Trump campaign. The issues of surveillance and privacy and mass data collection, not just by the government but by Big Tech firms like Facebook, are still as live and and as contentious as ever. On this week’s episode of Deconstructed, Edward Snowden joins Mehdi Hasan from Moscow to discuss surveillance, tools that can help protect people’s privacy, and the likelihood of a Trump-Putin deal to extradite him.
Yes indeed, and this is a fine idea. Here is more on Edward Snowden:

MH: In an instant Edward Snowden became one of the most famous — and one of the most wanted — people on earth. And in the years since, he hasn’t became any less controversial, any less divisive. For some, like myself, he’s a hero.

Daniel Ellsberg: Mr. Snowden, whom I regard as an American hero, and a very great patriot.

Ron Paul: I mean he’s done a great service because he’s telling the truth.

Senator Bernie Sanders: Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people.

MH: For others, he’s a villain who needs to be punished.

John Kerry: This is a man who has done great damage to his country.

President Donald J. Trump: I think he’s a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly.

John Bolton: My view is that Snowden committed treason, he ought to be convicted of that and then he ought to swing from a tall oak tree.

As to John Bolton: He is a sick sadistic neofascist who evidently is and has been out to kill millions because this pleases his sick sadism - and I am a psychologist. Also, about Donald Trump: I am saying now since 2016 - it seems by now with over 70,000 psychologists and psychiatrists - that he is a madman and a neofascist.

I am sorry, but that is simply what I think. Here is more on and by Edward Snowden:

So I started off by asking Edward Snowden: “Is privacy dead?”

ES: No, and I think this is the thing that is really taken out of context by politicians and all of these corporate powers that are working to use that as a justification to extend and further the abuses that we’ve seen in the last decade or so. When you look at the polling and all of these different issues and you ask young people, particularly, you know: Do you care about privacy? They actually seem to care more than older generations because this is affects their lives everyday. They understand what it means to make a mistake, have someone with a smartphone in the room and then have it haunt you for the rest of your time in high school or college or whatever.

There is this feeling of powerlessness that’s surrounding all of us every day on this issue, because we see that we are being abused. People openly admit that they’re abusing us. You know, Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress is talking about this quite unashamedly.

Mark Zuckerberg: So for example the messages that people send is something that we collect in order to operate the service.

I more or less agree with Snowden, but I like to rephrase the issue - for a moment - with reference to the introduction of cars in the USA and elsewhere, over a 100 years ago:

At that time at most 1 in 10 who wrote about cars, their possible uses, and their dangers had any decent idea about these subjects. Moreover, while it was then possible, through several years of private studies, to get the requisite amount of knowledge, very few did so.

When talking about privacy and computers, the numbers - I think - approximates these:

At most 1 in a 1000 who wrote about computers, computing, the internet and the theft of - literally - billions upon billions of private mails, was somewhat adequately informed, and for the other 999 it will take years and years of serious studying to understand what is really happening, and very few have the brains and the persistence to do so.

And therefore a sick and degenerate billion-fold thief of private data like the sadofascist terrorist thief Suckerbug from the utterly sick and sadistic Fuckbook can still lie as he please while not being contradicted by almost anyone: Very few understand what he is talking about.

Here is more on the sadist Suckerbug and his sadofascistic Fuckbook:

MH: That exchange between Mark Zuckerberg and Republican Senator Roger Wicker caught Edward Snowden’s eye. He even tweeted about it at the time, saying, “and they call me a criminal.”

ES: I’m not saying that he’s violated a law in terms of statute, I’m saying that he’s violated the values, the very understanding of what it means to be part of American society. Right? This is nakedly exploitative (...)
Quite so: Suckerbug is explicitly stealing billions of private mails to earn his own billions, and he does so and can do so because there still is no adequate law of any kind - really informed, really practicable - that can be applied to this megacriminal sadofascistic thiefs of billions of emails, of photographs and of almost everything his Fuckbook can grab, in almost complete secrecy.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine interview:

MZ: We are here to build things that bring people together.

ES: When you say at Facebook, you know: We’re only collecting this, we’re only collecting that, you’re a part of our Facebook family.

MZ: The vast majority of what happens on these services is people getting closer to the people they care about, even when time or distance get in the way.

ES: And at the same time, he’s spying on what you do, right? Not just out at the block party — everything that they could get access to on your phone they were stealing and they weren’t saying: “Are you sure you want to send this to Facebook?” They were just taking it.

Precisely. And Fuckbook is a vastly criminal thief of the private and personal data of at least two billion computer morons, of which 99% cannot even write decent html. And this is a strongly recommended article, in which there is much more than I quoted.

2. How Two House Democrats Defended Helping the GOP Weaken Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations

This article is by Lee Fang on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Legislators from both parties came together this week to put the finishing touches on a sweeping measure to weaken bank regulations put in place to respond to the 2008 financial crisis.

In a shock to some observers, 33 House Democrats and 17 Senate Democrats ultimately joined with nearly every Republican to send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk. Only one GOP legislator, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., voted against it. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., a co-author of the bill, stood next to Trump at the signing ceremony on Thursday.

Yes indeed. And as to the ¨shock to some observers¨: I knew that the GOP these days, in so far as the Senate and the House are concerned, are simply a neofascistic party made up of rich liars and deceivers, but I now have extended the same argument to the Democrats: They are rich liars and deceivers who vote only for ¨laws¨ that pay them. And these 50 Democrats are sick and lying sadofascistic betrayers of all decencies and honesties.

Here is more on this utterly sick neofascistic bill:

The repeal bill was a major priority for industry. As The Intercept has reported, the bill loosens an array of regulations, including reporting requirements used to counter racial discrimination in lending practices. The bill also crucially shrank the amount of capital reserve banks must maintain and raised the threshold at which banks are required to comply with heightened risk-management regulations — all of it with the consequence of introducing more risk into the system.
The House Democrats who backed the bill are broadly a coalition of New Democrats and Blue Dogs, who are self-consciously pro-business, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have been the target of focused lobbying campaigns by Wall Street.

Quite so - and no, I don´t care whether you are black or white; I care that you betrayed your voters in your own self interest.

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

The banking lobby mobilized scores of lobbyists to influence the vote. As we’ve reported, bankers mobilized public support for the bill through targeted advertising, letter writing, and a concentrated lobby effort designed to sway moderate Democrats.

In one unusual twist, the American Bankers Association decided to use a 501(c)(4) nonprofit to air a campaign-style television advertisement in support of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., one of the leading sponsors of the repeal measure, who is facing a tough re-election this year. The decision to use such a nonprofit to air the ad conceals the source of the funding, a strategy commonly referred to as “dark money.”

I say. Well... this utter betrayal of their voters´ interests for their self interests - finally - converted me to the position that (i) the USA under Trump is the NUSA: the Neofascist United States of America, because (ii) almost none of the Senators and House members of either main party is honest or decent: all vote for their own financial interests, and mostly quite regardless of their voters. And this is a recommended article.

3. The Silence of the Bugs

This article is by Curt Stager (professor of natural sciences) on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Fifty-six years after Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” warned of bird die-offs from pesticides, a new biocrisis may be emerging. A study published last fall
documented a 76 percent decline in the total seasonal biomass of flying insects netted at 63 locations in Germany over the last three decades. Losses in midsummer, when these insects are most numerous, exceeded 80 percent.

This alarming discovery, made by mostly amateur naturalists who make up the volunteer-run Entomological Society Krefeld, raised an obvious question: Was this happening elsewhere? Unfortunately, that question is hard to answer because of another problem: a global decline of field naturalists who study these phenomena.

I say!! Well... I have been somewhat regularly writing on Nederlog about the fact that there are less and less bees, which threatens every human being, but what is reported by Stager goes very much further.

Then again, as Stager says, the so-called ¨academic scientists¨ who are supposed to study these real facts, don´t do so anymore (in vast majority), because (i) reporting on these (supposed) facts will not get them headlines or grants (which is what the vast majority of ¨academic scientists¨ compete for), and besides (ii) the vast majority of the ¨academic scientists¨ who are supposed to study these facts don´t study these facts, because that would mean they have to leave their desks and their cities:

Are we in the midst of a global insect Armageddon that most of us have failed to notice? Here’s another data point: A decades-long decline in plant-pollinating hawk moths has been reported in the Northeast, but its causes and consequences are uncertain because we know so little about the ecology of these insects. In days past, compiling such information would have made a respectable life’s work for a Linnaeus, Humboldt or Darwin. Now such creatures are often ignored because studying them seems unlikely to generate publications, headlines or grants that provide academics with tenure and prestige.

As I said. And here is the last bit that I quote from this - quite frightening - article:

The widely reported decline of honeybees in the United States pales in comparison with the drop-off of bugs in Germany, if not in scale, then in the loss of biodiversity. Insects represent the vast majority of all animal species. Because they are pollinators and a vital part of the food chain, their absence would strike deep at the roots of life on earth.

I’m a lake scientist, and my colleagues and I have been struggling to explain our own mystery: a restructuring of plankton communities in lakes worldwide in recent decades, which we’ve documented by examining sediment cores extracted from lake bottoms. This could signal problems for water quality, fisheries or other aspects of lake ecology. Had we not taken the core samples, the geographic scale of this change might remain undetected, because funding and rigorous field monitoring of plankton composition in lakes has often been lacking.

So in brief the lessons are these:

(i) there may be a global insect Armaggedon, like the one that has been demonstrated for bees, going on in nature, but (ii) there are ever fewer and fewer real scientists who study this, in considerable part (iii) because real scientists know their careers are best served from their desks in cities, and also (iv) because real scientists know there is little money and little interest in studying the decline of insects.

This is a strongly recommended article.

4. Reflections on Gina Haspel’s Confirmation

This article is by Robert Crawford on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

It is appalling that the Senate would approve for CIA Director someone who was directly involved in carrying out torture. Haspel should have been disqualified from the beginning, no matter what she told the Senators during and after her confirmation hearing.  Despite crucial information held back by the CIA, Senators had sufficient knowledge for an informed decision. The majority, which included six Democrats, chose to ignore what they knew.

Torture is a war crime. The Senate is now on record for approving a war criminal to run an agency with a long record of engaging in unlawful acts.

Precisely so. Here is more:

First, there is a long-standing struggle within the national security state over the use of violence. On one side are those who promote violence as the most effective means for extending or defending U.S. global dominance.  On the other side are those who, while regarding the use of force as a legitimate way to project power, would impose legal and democratic limits on its use. Haspel's confirmation, along with John Bolton’s appointment as national security advisor and Mike Pompeo’s ascendency to Secretary of State, is a clear victory for those promoting unrestrained violence.  Trump has now assembled a war cabinet that is for the most part unopposed.

Yes, I quite agree, although I would have added that those who are for torture in the USA are quite sick (and sadists, in my psychologists´ convictions) according to the vast majority of politicians and lawyers outside the USA. And besides, I regard Haspel, Pompeo and Bolton as evident neofascistic sadists.

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

It is also important to note that many of the nation's most important media institutions editorialized strongly against Haspel or published opinion editorials critical of her nomination.  Yet, even among critical media commentators, many continued to avoid the "torture" word or did not refer to the CIA’s "torture program;" and fewer still mentioned the entire CIA program: rendition, detention, and interrogation--or as I think many readers might call it: kidnapping, clandestinely and brutally transporting prisoners, arbitrary, secret and unlawful detention, and torture.  Few journalists took the opportunity to review and educate the public about the program’s criminality or how the law was manipulated to provide cover.

Quite so, again, with my addition that I cannot take any paper serious that was supposed to argue against Haspel´s nomination as CIA director, but that did intentionally repress even using the word ¨torture¨. And this means in fact that if this is ¨support¨ of ¨many of the nation's most important media institutions¨ I reject it as deceptions and lies. But this is a recommended article.

5. As New Privacy Rules Hit Europe, Google and Facebook Hit With $8.8 Billion in Lawsuits

This article is by Jake Johnson and Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Accusing Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and Instagram of "intentionally" violating Europe's strict new privacy rules that officially went into effect on Friday, Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems filed four lawsuits against the tech companies arguing they are still "coercing users into sharing personal data" despite rolling out new policies ostensibly aimed at complying with the new regulations.

Titled the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new rules require companies to explicitly and clearly request consent from users before mining their data, and Schrems argues in his complaints—which seek fines totaling $8.8 billion—that Google, Facebook, and the Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp are still utilizing "forced consent" strategies to extract users' data when "the law requires that users be given a free choice unless a consent is strictly necessary for provision of the service," TechCrunch explains.

I say! I knew something about Max Schrems, but not this and I like it. And yes, Schrems is quite right when he accuses ¨Google, Facebook, and the Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp¨ as still using ¨"forced consent" strategies to extract users' data when "the law requires that users be given a free choice¨. Precisely!

Here is more:

"It's simple: Anything strictly necessary for a service does not need consent boxes anymore. For everything else users must have a real choice to say 'yes' or 'no,'" Schrems wrote in a statement. "Facebook has even blocked accounts of users who have not given consent. In the end users only had the choice to delete the account or hit the 'agree'-button—that's not a free choice."

While Facebook—which is currently embroiled in international controversy following the Cambridge Analytica scandal—insists that its new policies are in compliance with Europe's new regulatory framework, Schrems argues that Facebook and Google aren't even attempting to follow the new law.

"They totally know that it's going to be a violation, they don't even try to hide it," Schrems told the Financial Times.

Quite so - and in case you are using Google or Facebook, you should know that - in my opinion - you are using sick, sadistic and neofascistic services, that are out to deceive each and any of their users in their - still - constant bid to steal everything from their users.


[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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail