June 10, 2018

Crisis: US Bail, Exit G-7, Armaggedon, Torturer Haspel, The Assange Case, Edward Snowden


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 10, 2018
     B. One Extra Bit: About Edward Snowden

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 10, 2018. (There is a previous file of today, about an ex of mine, but it is in Dutch.)

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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 10, 2018:
1. Paul Manafort Has Inadvertently Helped America by Showing the
     Absurdities of Its Bail System

2. Trump’s Blasts Upend G-7, Alienating Oldest Allies
3. Rapture-Ready: How U.S. Policy Meshes With Armageddon
4. Why the Confirmation of Gina Haspel to Head the CIA Is a Huge Loss to
     Our Nation

5. The Eerie Silence Surrounding the Assange Case
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. Paul Manafort Has Inadvertently Helped America by Showing the Absurdities of Its Bail System

This article is by Peter Maass on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

American citizens don’t have a lot they can thank Paul Manafort for. Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, is suspected of colluding with Russia and enriching himself through years of influence-peddling that involved a multitude of financial crimes. But his indictment last year by special counsel Robert Mueller has done us a huge favor by drawing attention to one of the great travesties in the way America treats people accused of crimes: its bail system.

When he was indicted, Manafort received a felony defendant’s dream-come-true: staying out of jail on bail despite multiple counts (though he seems, since then, to have blown that deal to pieces — more on that later). Last October, prosecutors and the judge took the time to negotiate an intricate $10 million bond agreement with Manafort’s lawyers. He was allowed to live, with a monitoring device around his ankle, in various luxury residences he owns in northern Virginia; Palm Beach, Florida; and the Hamptons, a tony New York beach area.

Yes, indeed: Maass is quite right, and the bail system, as it works in practice, shows that the USA is not a state of law.

Besides, since I have been saying this now for 2 1/2 years: As a psychologist, I think Trump is insane (as do - it seems - meanwhile over 70,000 other psychologists and psychiatrists), and as a philosopher, I think Trump is a neofascist. (Also, I know a lot more about psychology than most journalists, as I know a whole lot more about fascism than most journalists.)

Back to Maass and the American bail system:
It often goes this gentle way for influential people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Before Harvey Weinstein was arrested on rape charges last month, his defense team was able to negotiate a bail package that allowed him to stay free for $1 million, which he paid with a cashier’s check. When Weinstein was briefly taken into custody, police officers used three sets of handcuffs connected in a chain behind his back to spare him discomfort due to his considerable girth (and he still complained). He was whisked through the arraignment process in a notably speedy manner — surrendering at 7:30 in the morning, he left the court in time for brunch.
Yes, and besides, $ 1 million dollars is a 1/2 % of his $ 200 millions: It was peanuts for Weinstein.

The system works the opposite way for everybody who does not have millions upon millions in the bank:
The upshot is that bail operates not as a way to ensure defendants show up for trial, but to coerce them to plead guilty. One of the reasons Manafort and Weinstein can go to trial is because they are not inconvenienced by the wait. According to the website of the Bail Project, a nationwide program to underwrite bail for people accused of misdemeanors, “90 percent of people who are held in jail on bail will plead guilty just to go home, even if they didn’t commit the crime.”
Quite so. There is considerably more in this article, but my own conclusions are these: (1) With Trump, Haspel and Pompeo and others, the USA now is the NUSA, that is, the Neofascist United States of America, in which (2) most legal and political events are deliberately arranged to help and protect the richest of the country, while (3) almost everybody else - everyone who does not owe millions - will be abused and convicted, whether or not he or she committed any crime, and indeed mostly by forcing them into a plea deal.
2. Trump’s Blasts Upend G-7, Alienating Oldest Allies

This article is by Peter Baker and Michael Shear on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Shortly before leaving the annual meeting of major world powers on Saturday, President Trump boasted that it had been “tremendously successful” and that on a scale of 0 to 10, “the relationship is a 10.”

Fewer than nine hours later, the relationship was plummeting toward a zero. With a petulant tweetstorm from Air Force One, Mr. Trump all but blew up the Group of 7 nations that the United States has led for more than four decades and essentially declared open political war on America’s closest neighbor.

Whatever hopes that other leaders had of pacifying Mr. Trump and papering over their widening differences on trade, security and the world order vanished in a flurry of harsh recriminations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada rebuffed Mr. Trump’s positions in public comments, prompting Mr. Trump to refuse to sign the carefully crafted final communiqué.

I have been saying for 2 1/2 years now (and I repeat myself) that as a psychologist, I think Trump is insane (as do - it seems - meanwhile over 70,000 other psychologists and psychiatrists), and as a philosopher, I think Trump is a neofascist. (Also, I know a lot more about psychology than most journalists, as I know a whole lot more about fascism than most journalists. As to fascism: Read my definition of neofascism and compare it with Trump's behavior.)

So no: I am not at all amazed that Trump behaved like a madman, and my reason is simply that he is a madman.

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

“Trump is readier to give a pass to countries that pose a real threat to Western values and security than to America’s traditional allies,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to Washington. “If there is a ‘method to the madness,’ to use the words of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, it is currently well hidden.”

Well... there is method to Trump's madness, but it is not due to Trump. It is due to the psychologists and psychiatrists who classified him as megalomaniac, and who stressed the facts (back in late 2016) that (i) megalomania is extremely difficult to cure, and (ii) it will only get worse as Trump gets older.

And there is considerably more in this article, that is recommended.

3. Rapture-Ready: How U.S. Policy Meshes With Armageddon

This article is by Sandy Tolan on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Brothers and sisters! Let us speak now of the return of Jesus to the Holy Land in a blaze of glory. For it is this fervent promise, I kid you not, that now drives the Middle East policy of the most powerful nation on earth.

For years conservative evangelicals, from their pulpits and pews across the American heartland, have toiled in relative obscurity. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the more vocal part of the Israel lobby, is far better known for advancing Israeli interests in Washington. But in recent years, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the evangelical lobbying group spearheaded by Texas preacher John Hagee, has surpassed AIPAC as the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S. And so Christian Zionists—those who believe that only a strong Jewish state will bring the son of the Christian god back to the holy city, to mete out justice—have moved to the center of U.S. Middle East policy.

I say, which I do because I did not know this. Then again, I know an excellent bit of journalists on these "Christians", namely Chris Hedges' "Christian Fascism", which I strongly recommend as background literature.

Here is more on these quasi-Christians:

The basic tenet of Christian Zionism? Global Armageddon will soon be at hand. “They’re counting down the hours now, eagerly expecting the implementation of the remaining items on their biblical prophecy agenda, anticipating the thrilling climax of the cosmic story,” writes Victoria Clark, author of “Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism.” Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, would then “be destroyed, and replaced with a new Jewish temple. The completion of that temple … will herald the appearance of an Antichrist who might be a European diplomat or the head of the United Nations.” Eventually, writes Clark, this “will trigger the battle of Armageddon … all non-born-again Christians—including two-thirds of all Jews—who refuse to accept Jesus as their personal savior … will be slain in the conflagration.”

O Lord! And in fact, to the best of my knowledge, these fanatic and totalitarian morons have been saying so for nearly 2000 years.

Here is Tolan's conclusion:

And so, my brothers and sisters! Your tax dollars no longer fund a U.S. policy that at least gives lip service to a fair solution of an age-old conflict and a Palestinian state of its own. One, by the way, that would immeasurably ease tensions in the most volatile corner of the planet, help keep American soldiers out of harm’s way and reduce terror attacks on innocent citizens. Instead, we are privileging the foot soldiers in a new holy war—a war in which those of us who aren’t among the believers will end up in a lake of fire.

I agree, and this is a recommended article with considerably more text. 
4. Why the Confirmation of Gina Haspel to Head the CIA Is a Huge Loss to Our Nation

This article is by Jack Healy on AlterNet and originally on the Independent Media Institute. It starts as follows:

Two weeks ago, a bipartisan Senate panel voted to confirm Gina Haspel, former head of perhaps the most notorious “black site” in U.S. history, as the new head of the CIA. As her name and face flashed across the screen of my television, I kept thinking instead about other faces—those of the men and, sometimes, women—who had been tortured under her watch. The faces that we, as the American public, will probably never see, whose stories we do not know.

Despite a 549-page “Senate Report on Torture” (Melville House Publishing) that was released in 2014, and an outcry of public condemnation for the CIA’s treatment of both foreign and American citizens in its custody, this Senate voted to confirm Haspel, who played a leading role in the brutal interrogation program.
Yes indeed. Then again, while I have announced that with the arrival of Trump the USA changed into the Neofascist United States of America, I did not stress that. With a subhuman torturer like Haspel being nominated as head of the CIA, I think the USA definitely has become neofascistic.

Here is more on Haspel:
Haspel stands accused of destroying the tapes that showed the worst of the torture, at the black site in Thailand where she worked. The record of what happened there is lost to all of those who were not actually present. Her role in the destruction has been discussed at length, and was a sticking point in her confirmation hearing. Yet she was confirmed anyways. The mere words that she spoke were apparently politically sufficient to erase the actions she took, to cover the blemish of the destroyed tapes.
Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt helped write and pass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifically states, in Article V, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Continuing down the path that we are on means explicitly rejecting the terms of this international agreement, and walking away from a promise forged in the dark aftermath of the Holocaust. By promoting someone like Haspel, by allowing lip service to an ideal to suffice, we are doing just that. Former ‘important’ CIA and intelligence folks are lined up to support Gina Haspel to head the CIA. Does that mean they approve of torture as well?
Yes, but I should make some clarifications:

(1) The original
Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems to be used absolutely nowhere. Thus the Europeans have replaced it by a Declaration that says it is about "human rights" but which is in fact one big declaration that the secret services can do whatever they please, and do not have to answer to any law "because" - so the sick lie goes - "this will protect the human rights of The People". And:

(2) Yes, I do believe everybody who supported the CIA's torturer approves of torture, for if they
did not they should have spoken up, or left the CIA.

And this is a recommended article.

5. The Eerie Silence Surrounding the Assange Case

This article is by Dennis Bernstein on Consortiumnews. This is from near its beginning:
The interview began with the statement Bernstein delivered for Pilger at the Left Forum last weekend in New York on a panel devoted to Assange entitled, “Russia-gate and WikiLeaks”.

Pilger’s Statement

“There is a silence among many who call themselves left. The silence is Julian Assange. As every false accusation has fallen away, every bogus smear shown to be the work of political enemies, Julian stands vindicated as one who has exposed a system that threatens humanity. The Collateral Damage video, the war logs of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Cablegate revelations, the Venezuela revelations, the Podesta email revelations … these are just a few of the storms of raw truth that have blown through the capitals of rapacious power. The fakery of Russia-gate, the collusion of a corrupt media and the shame of a legal system that pursues truth-tellers have not been able to hold back the raw truth of WikiLeaks revelations. They have not won, not yet, and they have not destroyed the man. Only the silence of good people will allow them to win. Julian Assange has never been more isolated. He needs your support and your voice. Now more than ever is the time to demand justice and free speech for Julian. Thank you.”
I completely agree with Pilger, but I have one addition:

I do not believe that most who call themselves "left" are from the real left, and indeed I do not believe so since 1979, when I learned about the - sick, degenerate and ultra-greedy - fascists and sadists from the ASVA and the PvdA (the so-called "social democrats" in Holland, who have been furthering the illegal dealings in illegal drugs of all kinds since 1988, I think because they got a percentage of the over 300 billions of dollars of illegal drugs that meanwhile have spread all over Europe).

But this an aside. Here is more by John Pilger:
John Pilger: I have never known anything like it. There is a kind of eerie silence around the Julian Assange case. Julian has been vindicated in every possible way and yet he is isolated as few people are these days.  He is cut off from the very tools of his trade, visitors aren’t allowed. I was in London recently and I couldn’t see him, although I spoke to people who had seen him. Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador, said recently that he regarded what they are doing to Julian now as torture.  It was Correa’s government that gave Julian political refuge, which has been betrayed now by his successor, the government led by Lenin Moreno, which is back to sucking up to the United States in the time-honored way, with Julian as the pawn and victim.
I think I agree again with Pilger, although I disagree with Correa that Assange is - at present - "tortured". I think Assange is treated cruelly, but his present treatment is very probably nothing like what he has to expect from Gina Haspel, and that indeed will be torture (though it very probably will happen in total secret).

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
Should be a ‘Constitutional Hero’

But really it comes down to the British government. Although he is still in a foreign embassy and actually has Ecuadorian nationality, his right of passage out of that embassy should be guaranteed by the British government. The United Nations Working Party on Unlawful Detentions has made that clear. Britain took part in an investigation which determined that Julian was a political refugee and that a great miscarriage of justice had been imposed on him.  It is very good that you are doing this, Dennis, because even in the media outside the mainstream, there is this silence about Julian. The streets outside the embassy are virtually empty, whereas they should be full of people saying that we are with you. The principles involved in this case are absolutely clear-cut. Number one is justice. The injustice done to this man is legion, both in terms of the bogus Swedish case and now the fact that he must remain in the embassy and can’t leave without being arrested, extradited to the United States and ending up in a hell hole.  But it is also about freedom of speech, about our right to know, which is enshrined in the United States Constitution. If the Constitution were taken literally, Julian would be a constitutional hero, actually. Instead, I understand the indictment they are trying to concoct reads like a charge of espionage! It’s so ridiculous.That is the situation as I see it, Dennis. It is not a happy one but it is one that people should rally to quickly.
Yes, I completely agree with Pilger. And this is a strongly recommended article, in which there is considerably more.

B. One Extra Bit

This is an extra bit in the crisis series. I did so before a few times. This time it is about Edward Snowden, and it commemorates the fact that I first knew about him five years ago, on June 10, 2013.
  • About Edward Snowden
In fact, I do not have much to say about Edward Snowden, other than that he is a very admirable man with very great courage, who risked his life to inform "the public" that the secret security forces (everywhere) have turned (neo)fascistic because they now are capable of knowing everything about anyone (and normally do so).

The last bit is my own interpretation, but I fear it is literally true. I also do not think I will change my mind about this, although I do hope strongly to die before its full arrival everywhere.

I do have two additional remarks about Snowden:

First, I do not know much about his person, mostly because I did not try to find out much about him, simply because he did not seem to like this, and also because I dislike spying of any kind, including attempts to find out about the characters of persons in the news.

And second, as I have said from the very beginning: He was and is an extraordinary man, simply because very few have the courage and the brains to do has he did.


[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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