August 17, 2018

Crisis: Google in China, On Catholicism, On Brennan, The Constitution, No More Cash


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 17, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, August 17, 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 August 17, 2018:
1. Google Staff Tell Bosses China Censorship is “Moral and Ethical” Crisis
2. Catholic Church Cover-up: 300 Priests Sexually Abused 1,000 Children in

3. Trump Strikes Back at ‘Ringleader’ Brennan
4. The Constitution’s Case for Impeachment of Donald J. Trump
5. Why Are ATMs Disappearing at an Alarming Rate after a Wave of Branch
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. Google Staff Tell Bosses China Censorship is “Moral and Ethical” Crisis

This article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Google employees are demanding answers from the company’s leadership amid growing internal protests over plans to launch a censored search engine in China.

Staff inside the internet giant’s offices have agreed that the censorship project raises “urgent moral and ethical issues” and have circulated a letter saying so, calling on bosses to disclose more about the company’s work in China, which they say is shrouded in too much secrecy, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter.

The internal furor began after The Intercept earlier this month revealed details
about the censored search engine, which would remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. It would “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases, leaked Google documents disclosed. The search platform is to be launched via an Android app, pending approval from Chinese officials.

Quite so, except that it is my guess that while users who enter certain words or phrases will only see "no results will be shown", the Chinese government or its secret service will get considerably more information - but this is my guess.

What is not my guess is that China is a totalitarian country that is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, and specifically by its leaders, and that Google's Chinese censored search engine will help totalitarianism by helping to suppress (and probably find) whoever opposes totalitarianism in China.

That is, Google will - probably proudly, or as proudly as it thinks is profitable - become an important instrument of totalitarianism that is suppressing 1.4 billion Chinese.

Here is some more information:

The censorship plan – code-named Dragonfly – was not widely known within Google. Prior to its public exposure, only a few hundred of Google’s 88,000 employees had been briefed about the project – around 0.35 percent of the total workforce. When the news spread through the company’s offices across the world, many employees expressed anger and confusion.

Now, a letter has been circulated among staff calling for Google’s leadership to recognize that there is a “code yellow” situation – a kind of internal alert that signifies a crisis is unfolding. The letter suggests that the Dragonfly initiative violates an internal Google artificial intelligence ethical code, which says that the company will not build or deploy technologies “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”

Well... I sympathize with Google's employees who protest Google supporting totalitarianism  - and incidentally: in both my and Orwell's sense, and also in Brzezinski's sense that is now the only - false - meaning of "totalitarianism" that Wikipedia acknowledges: the opinions of a former leader of American spies are much more important to Wikipedia than the opinions of intellectuals without interest in governments.

But I can't take them serious. My reason is that Google (and Facebook, and Apple, and Microsoft and more major internet corporations) have as their dominant mode the increasing their own profits, also if that happens by immoral actions of virtually any kind, such as helping to repress 1.4 billion Chinese.

Here is some more:

The letter says: “Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment. That the decision to build Dragonfly was made in secret, and progressed with the [artificial intelligence] Principles in place, makes clear that the Principles alone are not enough. We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table, and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building.”

There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended. Then again, I do not think Google's employees will be able to change Google's profit-oriented policies. (I hope I am mistaken but I fear I am not.)

2. Catholic Church Cover-up: 300 Priests Sexually Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report has revealed that more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more, over seven decades, and that church leadership covered up the abuse. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro described harrowing accounts of priests raping young girls and boys, including one priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out. Another priest impregnated a young girl and then arranged for her to have an abortion. The report reveals that the church orchestrated a massive, systematic cover-up to conceal the abuse, including lying to the community about why a priest was removed from a parish, transferring predator priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in what the church called a “secret archive.”
I say! I also think this is an excellent argument for giving up Catholicism, but then again I was raised completely without religion, studied philosophy, and still think my parents were quite right in being atheists.

And please note that these numbers - "
more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more" - are for Pennsylvania only, while this form of sexual abuse (of children, by men masking themselves as God's virginal servants) seems to be worldwide in the Catholic church.

Here is more about Catholicism-in-Pennsylvania:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: (..) On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro described some of the report’s findings.

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO: In the diocese of Pittsburgh, the grand jury named 99 priests who sexually abused children. A group of at least four predator priests in Pittsburgh groomed and violently sexually assaulted young boys. One boy was forced to stand on a bed in a rectory stripped naked and posed as Christ on the cross for the priests. They took photos of their victim, adding them to a collection of child pornography, which they produced and shared on church grounds. To make it easier to target their victims, the priests gave their favored boys gifts, gold crosses to wear as necklaces. The crosses were markings of which boys had been groomed for abuse.

And here is yet more about Catholicism-in-Pennsylvania:
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO: All of the victims were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all. Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all, for decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected. Many, including some named in this report, have been promoted. Father Schlert, identified in the report, is now Bishop Schlert. Bishop Wuerl is now Cardinal Wuerl. Father Zubik is now Bishop Zubik. Predator priests were allowed to remain in ministry for 10, 20, even 40 years after church leaders learned of their crimes. In those years, their lists of victims got longer and longer.
I say, again. And I gave my own inference above: I think these are more than sufficient reasons to give up Catholicism completely (but then neither my mind nor my body was raped by Catholicism, because I was raiseed an atheist). This is a recommended article.
3. Trump Strikes Back at ‘Ringleader’ Brennan

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
There’s more than meets the eye to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearances that ex-CIA Director John Brennan enjoyed as a courtesy customarily afforded former directors. The President’s move is the second major sign that Brennan is about to be hoisted on his own petard. It is one embroidered with rhetoric charging Trump with treason and, far more important, with documents now in the hands of congressional investigators showing Brennan’s ringleader role in the so-far unsuccessful attempts to derail Trump both before and after the 2016 election.

Brennan will fight hard to avoid being put on trial but will need united support from from his Deep State co-conspirators–a dubious proposition. One of Brennan’s major concerns at this point has to be whether the “honor-among-thieves” ethos will prevail, or whether some or all of his former partners in crime will latch onto the opportunity to “confess” to investigators: “Brennan made me do it.”
In fact, I still do not know why pensioned spies - for that seems the correct term for Brennan - do need security clearances, but I take it that it is a fact they usually keep them. And I take it McGovern is right in saying that Brennan's present position, without security clearances, may be dangerous for Brennan.

And I also agree with McGovern's use of "Deep State", that has several possible meanings, that I like to explain using Eisenhower's term (in 1960) of the military-industrial complex that stands apart from the government and the state, but that does make important decisions, especially of military kinds: I think a somewhat decent synonym for the Deep State (in the USA) is military-industrial-computational complex.

And I do so on the ground that I have concluded that the present internet computers are the main force towards neofascism, because they allow universal spying on everyone with a computer (tablet, phone) connected to the internet, and they allowed, for at least 20 years now, the construction of enormous databases about anyone using an internet computer, which in fact is not only done by most secret services from anywhere, but also by Facebook, Google, and more.

Back to the article. Here is more about Brennan's present position:
After eight years of enjoying President Barack Obama’s solid support and defense to do pretty much anything he chose—including hacking into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee—Brennan now lacks what, here in Washington, we refer to as a “Rabbi” with strong incentive to advance and protect you.  He expected Hillary Clinton to play that role (were it ever to be needed), and that seemed to be solidly in the cards. But, oops, she lost.

What needs to be borne in mind in all this is, as former FBI Director James Comey himself has admitted: “I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president.” Comey, Brennan, and co-conspirators, who decided—in that “environment”—to play fast and loose with the Constitution and the law, were supremely confident they would not only keep their jobs, but also receive plaudits, not indictments.

Unless one understands and remembers this, it is understandably difficult to believe that the very top U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials did what documentary evidence has now demonstrated they did.
In fact, I have no difficulty in understanding that "the very top U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials did what documentary evidence has now demonstrated they did":

They had the power; they had the money; and they had the protection to investigate everything and everyone by detailing and storing everyones' computing data, e-mails etc.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The main question now is whether the chairs of the House oversight committees will chose to face down the Deep State. They almost never do, and the smart money says that, if they do, they will lose—largely because of the virtually total support of the establishment media for the Deep State.
Well... and because of the enormous power the military-industrial-computational complex has, for in principle they know everything about anyone. And this is a recommended article.

4. The Constitution’s Case for Impeachment of Donald J. Trump

This article is by Miles Mogulescu on Common Dreams and originally on People's Action Blog. It starts as follows:

Millions of Americans sit helplessly by as an unfit, narcissistic, ignorant, pathologically lying, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic President allies himself with Russia and Putin against our government.

He does nothing to protect American elections against continued attacks from a hostile foreign adversary. He supports suppressing the votes of citizens who may oppose him, and attacks fundamental American and Constitutional values in a manner that may irreversibly damage our system of democracy.

This, and much more, adds up to a constitutional crisis.

Is there nothing that those who care about the survival of American values and democracy can do, but hope and pray that this manifestly unfit President is not reelected in 2020 or 2024, and that the United States, as we know it, survives until then?

The authors of a newly released book, The Constitution Demands It: The Case For The Impeachment, propose another solution: let Congress immediately begin impeachment hearings to determine whether President Trump has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Under the Constitution, they say, this would demand Trump’s removal from office, and citizens should take whatever actions are within their power to get Congress to exercise its Constitutional authority.

Well... yes and no. I agree with most of the above, but I also see a major problem, which is that the Senate and the House should agree with this, while in fact the Senate, the House and the government are in Republican hands, and the Republicans are - in large majority - against prosecuting Trump.

Here is more on what the authors of "The Constitution Demands It" argue:

The authors set forth in detail eight categories “where Trump has already crossed the line into impeachable territory, each of which could form the basis for a separate impeachment count”:

  1. Violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by profiting from business with foreign and domestic governments;
  2. Conspiring to solicit and then conceal illegal foreign aid to his Presidential campaign by a foreign adversary;
  3. Obstructing Justice;
  4. Directing law enforcement to improperly investigate and prosecute political opponents;
  5. Abusing the pardon power;
  6. Advocating illegal violence and undermining equal protection of the laws;
  7. Endangering the nation and the world by recklessly threatening nuclear war;
  8. Undermining the Freedom of the Press.

The first three counts are the most compelling. They make a prima facie case that Trump has already committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” based on publicly known information.

Again I more or less agree, and again my problem is that the majority of the Senate and the House do not want to prosecute Trump.

Here is more:

Beyond the specific eight impeachment counts proposed in the book (as well as other potential counts), the authors make two vital and more general points about the Constitutional grounds for impeachment and when they should be invoked.

First, while many dangerous acts and statements by Trump, taken in isolation, may not alone rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” when taken together they form a “pattern that turn individually troubling acts into a dangerous abuse of office.”

Quoting one Constitutional scholar, the book argues that Articles of Impeachment do not require that “an official’s course of conduct must be divided into offenses and that each offence must be judged separately as to whether it is impeachable…It has been well understood that the official’s conduct as a whole should be the subject of judgment.”

In fact, I do not think that the above argument makes the case stronger. The same applies to the following argument:

The authors’ second, and even more crucial argument, is that every impeachable offense need not constitute a crime under the Federal Code, and that every crime is not necessarily an impeachable offense.

According to Alexander Hamilton, impeachable offenses arise from “the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust…They relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to society itself.”

I am strongly for impeaching Trump (mostly because I am a psychologist who agree that Trump is not sane) but I do not think that is likely with the present Senate, House and government in the hands of the Republicans, and I also saw no argument in the article that explains how this majority can be avoided or side-tracked.

5. Why Are ATMs Disappearing at an Alarming Rate after a Wave of Branch Closures?

This article is by Don Quijones on Wolf Street. It starts as follows - and ATMs are cashpoint machines:

In Australia, banks are reducing ATMs by about 8% a year. In the UK, ATMs — or cashpoint machines, as they’re termed locally — are disappearing at a rate of around 300 per month, leaving consumers in rural areas struggling to access cash, according to a new report by the consumers’ association, Which? The rate of closures has increased sixfold in the period from November 2017 to April this year from a steady pace of 50 per month since 2015.

Banks in Spain have closed around 40% of their branches over the past ten years, on the back of unprecedented industry consolidation and cost cutting. In Barcelona, there are now less than half the number of branches there were in 2008. But it’s in small towns and villages where the impact is being felt most keenly. According to new research, by 2016 as many as 4,114 municipalities — the equivalent of 50.7% of all urban settlements — had no bank branches at all.

I say, for I did not know this. I also disagree strongly with removing cash "from society", but then again I do see the reasons for it: Without cash absolutely everyone can be manipulated by the banks or the politicians, for they only need to switch of your permission to reach your own money (and that can be done in various tricky "accidental" ways).

Here is some more:

This is all happening at a time when banks in Spain are making it more and more difficult to access cash from the branches that remain open. As we previously reported, Spain’s third largest lender, CaixaBank, last year launched a pilot project in Madrid aimed at limiting cash services in their branches to less than three hours a day, from 8:15 am to 11 am.

It’s all part of a broad trend. Bank branches are increasingly becoming so-called “customer advisory points,” where the primary role of branch staff is to sell customers a myriad financial products, many of them costly and/or risky, while curtailing the cash services they offer customers.

Yes indeed, but the real underlying point is control, and with modern computers virtually full control of virtually anyone is - virtually - assured: The secret services, Facebook, Google and others know everything anyone said or did or wrote, and the banks take care that no one has any money of his own. And this is a 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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