June 21, 2018

Crisis: $5.4 Trillion Attack, Family Separation, Hersh, Chomsky, Internet=neofascism


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 21, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 21, 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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 21, 2018:
1. 'Morally Bankrupt': After Tax Cuts for Richest, House GOP Unveils $5.4
     Trillion Attack on Nation's Safety Net

2. Trump Backs Down, Ends Family Separation Policy
3. Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination

4. Noam Chomsky on Fascism, Showmanship and Democrats' Hypocrisy in
     the Trump Era

5. Internet Pioneers Warn New EU Rules Would Turn Web Into "Tool for
     Automated Surveillance and Control"
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. 'Morally Bankrupt': After Tax Cuts for Richest, House GOP Unveils $5.4 Trillion Attack on Nation's Safety Net

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

With the nation's attention rightly fixated on President Donald Trump's horrific treatment of immigrant children, House Republicans on Tuesday quietly unveiled their 2019 budget proposal that calls for $537 billion in cuts to Medicare, $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, and four billion in cuts to Social Security over the next decade in an effort to pay for their deficit-exploding tax cuts for the wealthy.

"It's morally bankrupt, patently absurd, and grossly un-American," the advocacy group Patriotic Millionaires said of the GOP's budget proposal, which calls for $5.4 trillion in spending cuts from major domestic programs.

I say, though indeed I saw this coming, as did many more. Then again, I may be a little more radical than others, for my suggestion is that Trump´s end with his many cuts is to drive the poor to suicide. There are too many people as is on earth (almost 4 times as much as 50 years ago), and this is the Republican/Trumpian way of solving the problem: You take away the money of the poorest, which means that many are going to suicide.

There is also this in the article:

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), argued in a statement that the Republican proposal demonstrates clearly shows the "House majority's fiscal priorities haven't changed."

"It’s easy to become numb to the harshness of these budgets and to brush aside their policy implications based on the assumption (likely correct) that few, if any, of these policies will be enacted this year," Greenstein said. "But this budget reflects where many congressional leaders—and the president—would like to take the country if they get the opportunity to enact these measures in the years ahead. Rather than help more families have a shot at the American dream, it asks the most from those who have the least, and it would leave our nation less prepared for the economic and other challenges that lie ahead."

I am not much impressed with this, for it uses vagueries like ¨[Trump´s plan] asks the most from those who have the least¨ (after giving away riches to the richest). I dislike vagueries and ask what happens if you cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and I answer that the only possibility that I can see for the many who depend on these us that they commit suicide. And I think that is the real point of Trump and the Republicans: Who doesn´t earn enough to live, deserves to die (but we Republicans shall leave it to their own hands: we are guiltless).

Here is more:

Progressives have been warning for months about the GOP's plan to axe crucial safety net programs following the passage of its deeply unpopular $1.5 trillion tax bill, which has sparked a boom of corporate stock buybacks while doing little to nothing for most American workers.

"Each GOP budget is more fraudulent than the last," Seth Hanlon, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote on Tuesday. "We know what they stand for: tax cuts paid for with healthcare cuts."

In addition to proposing devastating safety net cuts, the House GOP budget also calls for partial privatization of Medicare and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a move that would throw tens of millions off their health insurance.

Without health insurance, millions will be forced to suicide. And this is what the Republicans and Trump want, for otherwise they would not have cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Trump Backs Down, Ends Family Separation Policy

This article is by Jill Colvin and Colleen Long on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Bowing to pressure from anxious allies, President Donald Trump abruptly reversed himself Wednesday and signed an executive order halting his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border.

It was a dramatic turnaround for Trump, who has been insisting, wrongly, that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of federal law and a court decision.

The news in recent days has been dominated by searing images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as audio recordings of young children crying for their parents — images that have sparked fury, question of morality and concern from Republicans about a negative impact on their races in November’s midterm elections.

Until Wednesday, the president, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials had repeatedly argued the only way to end the practice was for Congress to pass new legislation, while Democrats said Trump could do it with his signature alone. That’s just what he did.

Well... in fact it seems as if Trump´s ¨anxious allies¨ may have been his wife and daughter, but I have only read some reports on that supposed fact without much or any evidence.

Also, Trump may have been ¨insisting¨ in the terms of Colvin and Long, but actually he was, as very often, plainly and impertinently lying.

But the rest seems more or less as it happened. Here is some more on what Trump´s recent order means:

The order does not end the “zero-tolerance” policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally. It would keep families together while they are in custody, expedite their cases and ask the Department of Defense to help house them.

But under a previous class-action settlement that set policies for the treatment and release of minors caught at the border, families can only be detained for 20 days. A senior Justice Department official said that hasn’t changed.

“This is a stopgap measure,” said Gene Hamilton, counsel to the attorney general.
Yes, I take it that is true. There is more to follow, and this is a recommended article.

3. Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts as follows:
In 2004, investigative reporter Sy Hersh exposed the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq that shocked the world. Shocking photos of U.S. military personnel humiliating and torturing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib sparked global outcry, as well as national hearings, investigations and finger pointing. We speak with Sy Hersh about his investigation, nearly 15 years later.
In fact there are no less than six articles on Democracy Now! - see here (and the date is June 20, 2018) - about Sy Hersh, who indeed is one of the most prominent investigative journalists in the USA. (I am sorry this is to Wikipedia, which I like less and less, as it lies more and more.)

And I advise you to at least look at all of them, while I can in this Nederlog only quote a few bits. Here is the first:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about, of course, another of your many exposés that received international attention: Abu Ghraib. Could you talk about how you got onto Abu Ghraib and the impact that that story had, not only in the United States, but across the Muslim world?

SEYMOUR HERSH: There was nothing that I wrote that wasn’t known and been reported by Human Rights Watch—a wonderful guy named John Sifton was just brilliant—Amnesty International, were writing—doing reports, talking about torture. It’s the same thing that I was reading in the '60s about Vietnam, that—by church groups who were writing books about it, that didn't make the media. And they were doing torture.

And I couldn’t find a—and in the fall of 2003, in December—what happened is, we won the war, we thought, quickly, and it turned out we didn’t win. What Don Rumsfeld, that man, called dead-enders—once we thought the war, in two months—what he called the dead-enders turned out to be the guys ready—the Baath Party people we thought we got rid of. And we were in a civil war, and we were being chopped to death.
I don’t put anything in the computer.

First, here is a reference to Abu Ghraib. Incidentally, that reference also - quite correctly - refers to the Milgram experiment, that suggested that large numbers of ordinary people (65% in fact, on average, in quite a few experiments, while psychological and psychiatric ¨experts¨ predicted a bit over 1%) are quite capable of torturing people they don´t know.

I think that the Milgram experiment gave approximately correct proportions (and - having been ill for nearly 40 years, like my ex, and without any diagnosis other than hallucinations or attempts to deceive the medics - I had many similar experiences in my life).

Second, I also completely agree with Hersh that he doesn´t ¨put anything in the computer¨, for the simple reason that I think that everything anyone puts in any computer (cellphone, tablet) that is connected with internet will end up with anonymous freaks in many secret services, and will also soon be known to corporate collectors of personal data (like Google, Amazon and Facebook).

And I also think that the internet has been designed by the people from DARPA for the people from DARPA: It was intended from the very start, in the late 1960ies, as an instrument to control everyone, and not to help anyone but the secret services and the rich - as you can see e.g. here.

Back to Sy Hersh:

AMY GOODMAN: You also wrote in your book, “There was a widespread understanding that those who died in interrogation were not to be buried, lest the bodies be disinterred later, but had to be destroyed by acid and other means.”

SEYMOUR HERSH: That’s what I wrote. I mean, what am I supposed to say? Yes, it was understood. This is early in the war. There was—excuse me. Do you think it stopped? Do you know how many warfare places we’re in right now? Seventy-six. The United States is conducting war in 76 countries now. If you don’t think assassinations are going on just as much, they are.

Yes, I think Hersh is speaking truly. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh went on to expose many of the government’s deepest secrets, from Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia to the CIA spying on antiwar activists, to the CIA’s role undermining the Chilean government of Salvador Allende. Former CIA Director William Colby once privately complained about Hersh, saying, quote, “He knows more about this place than I do.”

Well, Sy Hersh has also helped uncover how the U.S. has secretly carried out assassinations across the globe. Hersh continued to break major stories after the September 11th attacks, most notably, in 2004, he exposed the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq that shocked the world.

Well, Seymour Hersh is out with a new book, looking back on his more than half a century of scoops and digging up secrets. It’s called Reporter: A Memoir.

I included this mainly because of the reference to Hersh´s latest book. Here is the last bit that I quote from this series of articles on Hersh:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you describe yourself in your book as a survivor of the golden age of journalism. Could you talk about what was the golden age of journalism? (...)

SEYMOUR HERSH: Right now what you have is such a division in the media that there’s no middle ground. There’s no—when I worked, I was a freelance reporter, and I understood, even then, a story was a story. And it wasn’t looked at as are you either pro- or anti-Trump or, you know, whatever. Right now you have a situation, because of the craziness of cable news, which takes any information they get and blasts it out there with no thought—we’re all driven. And the public has—they used to turn to The New York Times, my old newspaper, for which I worked for years, happily, in the '70s, as an arbiter of integrity and truth. Right now, everybody is seen as either pro- or anti-. You don't have a middle ground.

And what I meant by the golden age is you could write a story and get it published, and people would believe it. Now you can write a story and get it published, and people will say, “Well…” As many people, even in this—you saw, in your own broadcast, many—he still gets support from many people in America, when he starts talking this crazy, insane stuff about immigrants. And so, there’s no—there’s no national standard.
In fact, I do not blame ¨the craziness of cable news¨ very much: What I blame is the totalitarianism involved in the above, and indeed in most ordinary conformists, who prefer their own stupidity, ignorance, egoism and wishful thinking with better answers by more intelligent or at least better informed persons.

And it is especially this rise of
totalitarianism that is responsible - which does come down to stupidity, ignorance, conformism, egoism and wishful thinking mostly - for the collapse of standards of objectivity and of facts: Most people find it far easier and far more pleasant to believe themselves, however ignorant and stupid they may be, than to believe informed persons.

Finally, as I started saying
there are no less than six articles on Democracy Now! - see here (on June 20, 2018), and they are all strongly recommended.

4. Noam Chomsky on Fascism, Showmanship and Democrats' Hypocrisy in the Trump Era

This article is by C.J. Polychroniou on AlterNet and originally on Truthout. This starts as follows:
After 18 months of Trump in the White House, American politics finds itself at a crossroads. The United States has moved unmistakably toward a novel form of fascism that serves exclusively corporate interests and the military, while promoting at the same time a highly reactionary social agenda infused with religious and crude nationalistic overtones, all with an uncanny touch of political showmanship. In this exclusive Truthout interview, world-renowned linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky analyzes some of the latest developments in Trumpistan and their consequences for democracy and world order.
Well... as I have been saying for more than two years now, the ¨novel form of fascism that serves exclusively corporate interests and the military¨ in fact is neofascism as it has been defined by me three years ago. (But hey: Very few people have a father and a grandfather who were in the resistance against the Nazis, and who were arrested by them, which cost the life of my grandfather - which means to many that I must be mistaken rather than better informed about fascism than most... yes, I know.)

Here is more by Chomsky (who is talking):
Beyond that, the coverage across the spectrum illustrates quite well two distinct kinds of deceit: lying and not telling relevant truths. Each merits comment.

Trump is famous for the former, and his echo chamber is as well. Liberal commentators exult in totting up and refuting Trump’s innumerable lies and distortions, much to his satisfaction since it provides the opportunity for him to fire up his loyal — by now almost worshipful — base with more evidence of how the hated “Establishment” is using every possible underhanded means to prevent their heroic leader from working tirelessly to defend them from a host of enemies.

A canny politician, Trump surely understands well that the base on which he relies, by now almost the entire Republican Party, has drifted to a surreal world, in part under his influence. Take the major Trump-Ryan legislative achievement, the tax scam — “The US Donor Relief Act of 2017,” as Joseph Stiglitz termed it. It had two transparent aims: to enrich the very wealthy and the corporate sector while slamming everyone else, and to create a huge deficit. The latter achievement — as the main architect of the scam Paul Ryan helpfully explained — provides the opportunity to realize the cherished goal of reducing benefits that serve the general population, already very weak by comparative standards, but still an unacceptable infringement on the prerogatives of the 1%.
Yes indeed, although I observe that virtually all propaganda I know, which covers absolutely all advertising, consists both of lies and of not telling relevant truths (and besides of tautologies presented as news, like ¨100% natural¨).

Here is the last bit from Chomsky (in this interview) that I quote:

Half of Republicans believe that what is plainly happening is not happening, bolstered by virtually the entire leadership of the Party, as the Republican Primary debates graphically revealed. Of the half who concede that the real world exists, barely half think that humans play a role in the process.

Such destructive responses tend to break through the surface during periods of distress and fear, very widespread feelings today, for good reason: A generation of neoliberal policies has sharply concentrated wealth and power while leaving the rest to stagnate or decline, often joining the growing precariat. In the US, the richest country in history with unparalleled advantages, over 40 percent of the population don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone. And this is happening in what’s called a “booming economy.”

Yes, and I expand a little: ¨Half of Republicans¨ must mean something like 20% of the American adult population - and they are stupid, ignorant, prejudiced and ignorant.

Next, the precariat happens to be a term I rarely have read or heard, but it does describe myself and my ex, who fell ill in the first year of our studies, and then were said NOT to be ill (but hallucinators or deceivers, which is what ¨psychosomatizers¨ means) for nearly 40 years: if you check ¨precariat¨ you get an indication of what we went through, which we did have to go through, for nearly 40 years, because no other Dutchman except our direct families cared one bit. (And it is the same for other diseases, also outside Holland.)

Finally, when more than 4 out of 10 of the population ¨don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone¨ this is because the few rich decided that is what is fit for them (and if they don´t like it they can suicide).

There is a lot more in this article, that is strongly recommended.

5. Internet Pioneers Warn New EU Rules Would Turn Web Into "Tool for Automated Surveillance and Control"

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

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday took a step toward enacting new internet copyright rules that experts warn pose "an imminent threat to the future of this global network" and threaten to create a "censorship machine."

The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) passed the Copyright Directive, which could now move to negotiations with EU member states ahead of a full vote by the European Parliament. Internet pioneers and digital rights activists are raising alarms about two aspects of the legislation, as The Verge explains:

Although most of the directive simply updates technical language for copyright law in the age of the internet, it includes two highly controversial provisions. These are Article 11, a "link tax," which would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their stories; and Article 13, an "upload filter," which would require that everything uploaded online in the EU is checked for copyright infringement.

Article 11, also called the snippet tax, isn't expected to significantly affect major corporations such as Google, which can afford such licenses, but the impacts of the provision will likely be felt by smallers organizations. Additionally, critics say its language is too vague—as Gizmodo notes, "Article 11 doesn't bother to even define what constitutes a link"—which could enable governments to censor content for politically-motivated reasons.

Well... in fact I think the internet was designed to spy on everyone; was designed to steal their personal mail (and everything else); and was designed to help the secret services and the police to find anyone and everyone with opinions that do not please the secret services and the police.

And the internet, that was designed by the secret services (from 1967 onwards) has given all powers and all information to repress absolutely anyone to the secret services. If this is not clear now, it will become clearer in the near future, with measures like the present one: Neofascism has won, for the secret services know everything about anyone, and can force themselves into any computer connected to the internet.

Here is some more:

Article 13 would replace the Ecommerce Directive, which generally protects online platforms from copyright penalties so long as the content was upoaded by a user. Web exerpts say running all content through a copyright filter before it is uploaded would be immensely burdonsome and expensive, especially for smaller platforms.

In terms of the directive's sweeping consequences, as Gizmodo put it, "Memes, news, Wikipedia, art, privacy, and the creative side of fandom are all at risk of being destroyed or kneecapped."

In response to the mounting threat to the internet as we know it, more than 70 "of the internet's original architects and pioneers and their successors"—including world wide web founder Tim Berners-Lee and "father of the internet" Vint Cerf—wrote a letter (pdf) to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani about Article 13, which they warn could transform "the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users."

Well... I am sorry, but the internet was designed to be ¨a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users¨, and it completely and utterly succeeded. The internet = neofascism designed for computers by the secret services. For more see May 3, 2018 - and yes, this started already in 1967-1970, as shown in the last link.


[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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