September 29, 2018

Crisis: Noam Chomsky, Women & Kavanaugh, Facebook, Kavanaugh & Ford + Character


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 29, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, September 29, 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 September 29, 2018:
1. American Dissident: Noam Chomsky on the State of the Empire
2. Women Are Watching
3. Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users
4. Kavanaugh, Ford, and Power
5. Brett Kavanaugh, the All-American Privileged Boy
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. American Dissident: Noam Chomsky on the State of the Empire

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
The world laughed at U.S. President Donald Trump at the United Nations, but the imperial declarations he issued are no laughing matter. Trump may come off as a buffoon, but his global agenda is consistent with the bipartisan empire machine that runs the United States. This week on Intercepted: Famed dissident Noam Chomsky breaks down the Trump presidency; the defeat of the U.S. in Afghanistan; what he believes is a just position on Syria’s civil war; and the agenda of Vladimir Putin and Russia. He also discusses the impact of big social media companies and explains why a life of resisting and fighting is worth it. Jeremy Scahill analyzes Trump’s U.N. speech and gives context to the seldom-discussed bipartisan support for much of Trump’s global agenda. Dallas hip-hop artist Bobby Sessions talks about police killings and this political moment. We also hear music from his new EP, “RVLTN (Chapter 1): The Divided States of AmeriKKKa.”
In fact, this is the complete introduction, that serves to show you what is there, but I will only be concerned with Chomsky, and in fact selected three bits. There is a whole lot more in the article.

Here is the first bit with Chomsky (and I suppose the abbreviations are clear):

JS: Noam Chomsky, welcome Intercepted.

NC: Very glad to be with you.

JS: If you watch, and I know you are not a fan of television news, but if you watch particularly MSNBC or CNN right now or you read the major newspapers in the United States, you can come away with the impression that Donald Trump and his administration, his presidency, represent this grand departure from the way things are done in the United States historically.

How much of a departure is the Trump presidency from the bipartisan Washington empire consensus — the way that the U.S. has been governed throughout its history?

NC: There are some differences and many continuities. On the domestic scene, Trump is, very effectively, managing both of his constituencies.

There’s an authentic constituency of corporate power and private wealth and they’re being served magnificently by the executive orders, legislative programs that are being pushed through which represent the more savage wing of the traditional Republican policies — catering to private interests, private wealth, and dismissing the rest as irrelevant and easily disposed of.

At the same time, he’s managing to maintain the voting constituency by pretending, very effectively, to be the one person in the world who stands up for them against the hated elites. And this is quite an impressive con job. How long he can carry it off? I don’t know. On the international scene, it’s actually more interesting.

Yes, I think this analysis is fundamentally correct. (I also like to add that I don't have a TV since 1970, and even on Youtube rarely watch it: Too much is simply too stupid or too dishonest. But yes, this is personal.)

Here is more (and the abbreviations I suppose are clear):

DJT: I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.

NC: That’s in isolation from the entire world, in this case. And that’s very serious and the most serious of all, by far overshadowing everything else, is his pulling out of the Paris negotiations.

I more or less agree, and yes: Both actions were unique to the United States, which is to say that no other country followed the USA.

Here is the last bit I selected:

JS: This year’s 30 years since you and the great late Ed Herman published “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” and I wanted to get your thoughts on the role that huge social media companies play in our society, given that they are replacing a lot of news organizations, or the way that people — changing the way people consume information Google, Facebook, Twitter, ttc. There’s a lot of talk about this there’s hearings on Capitol Hill. There’s a lot of pleading with the billionaires to kick certain people off of social media, remove their accounts.

What about the way that these entities the — Facebook’s, Google’s, Twitter’s of the world have changed us as people, and our society, and the way we process, disseminate, absorb information?

NC: Well your words process, and disseminate and absorb are correct. But not produce. The source of information remains the major media, the correspondence on the ground — who often do excellent and courageous and very valuable work. Facebook and the rest may filter information that they get from those sources and present it in ways which much of the public finds it is easier to digest. I don’t think that’s a healthy development, but it is happening. And that means essentially, dividing much of the population of much discussion of this into cocoons, into bubbles, into which they receive the information conducive to their own interests and commitments.
Google, Facebook and the rest, those are commercial institutions. Their constituency is basically advertisers and they would like to establish the kinds of controls over their consumers that will be beneficial to their business model that enabled them to get advertising. That has very serious distorting effects. And we know that they provide massive information to the corporate system, which they use in their own efforts to try to shape and control behavior and opinion. All of this is a dangerous development that the power of these private corporations to direct people, in particular, directions and so on, that’s a serious problem which requires considerable thought and attention.

I agree, although it is my guess (largely because I avoid Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple and Microsoft) that Chomsky may be a bit incorrect about "productions" on Facebook (especially), simply because (as Chomsky says) "Facebook and the rest may filter information that they get from those sources and present it in ways which much of the public finds it is easier to digest."

In fact, these seem to be concessions to the average stupidity and ignorance of most Facebook users, and I think these are productions, rather precisely in the sense that I see these days e.g. on Mother Jones, that over the previous weekend made all copying impossible and also seems to shorten many of its article (as does AlterNet), apparently to make them fit Tweet formats.

Incidentally, I probably will remove both from the list of 35 sites I look at each day: I very strongly dislike being served Tweets instead of journalism, and making copying impossible is a major step towards neofascism (as did The Guardian) for now you cannot even discuss the news anymore if you read these sites.

And there is a whole lot more in the present article, that is strongly recommended.

2. Women Are Watching

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:

“Look at me when I’m talking to you! You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter. That what happened to me doesn’t matter!”

Those anguished words came from Maria Gallagher, who, along with Ana Maria Archila, confronted Senator Jeff Flake after he announced on Friday morning that he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as Mr. Flake stood in a Capitol Hill elevator that he clearly wished could transport him far, far away.

“I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl,” raged Ms. Archila, who told the senator that she too had been sexually assaulted.

Mr. Flake did little more than awkwardly mumble that he had to go and that he had already issued a statement about this matter. Even so, a few hours later, as the Judiciary Committee gathered to vote on whether to recommend Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, the lawmaker announced that he could support a floor vote only if there was first a weeklong delay to allow for a targeted investigation by the F.B.I. Soon, Senator Lisa Murkowski had joined the call for a delay, giving the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, little choice. At the White House, President Trump was calling Christine Blasey Ford a “credible” and “compelling” witness and saying that he was no longer sure that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination would “continue onward.”

I say, for I did not know this (and yes, I could have, if I had read quite a few of the hundreds pf articles on Kavanaugh that I saw, which I di not, for I strongly dislike Kavanaugh and I also dislike the useless complication of hundreds of journalists milking the same subject - sorry).

Here is some more:

Along with all the protests and the political organizing, women have stepped up to run for office in record numbers. Polls show the gender gap to be growing ever wider in terms of whom women plan to vote for. (Hint: It’s not Republicans.) The Kavanaugh debacle is unlikely to help — barring an exculpatory revelation, of course. After the allegations against him surfaced, a similar gender gap began opening up in terms of who supported his nomination.
We don’t know about the whole country. Certainly, die-hard partisans will stick by their party, come what may. But, where more and more women are concerned, Republicans are overdue for a reckoning. Women have not simply been watching. They’ve been preparing their response. That response may come in 2018 or in 2020. But it will come.
Yes, I think this may very well be correct - and if just 10% of the 100 million Americans who did not vote in the presidential elections do vote in 2018 and 2020, and do vote for 2/3rd on the Democrats, then Trump will probably loose first the House and then the presidency. And this is a recommended article.

3. Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users

This article is by Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel on The New York Times. This starts as follows:
Facebook, already facing scrutiny over how it handles the private information of its users, said on Friday that an attack on its computer network had exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users.

The breach, which was discovered this week, was the largest in the company’s 14-year history. The attackers exploited a feature in Facebook’s code to gain access to user accounts and potentially take control of them.

The news could not have come at a worse time for Facebook. It has been buffeted over the last year by scandal, from revelations that a British analytics firm got access to the private information of up to 87 million users to worries that disinformation on Facebook has affected elections and even led to deaths in several countries.

Senior executives have testified several times this year in congressional hearings where some lawmakers suggested that the government will need to step in if the social network is unable to get tighter control of its service. On Friday, regulators and lawmakers quickly seized on the breach to renew calls for more oversight.

I say. Well... my own opinion is that Facebook is a criminal organization that steals the privacies of almost all its members to sell them to advertisers; that it is led by criminals like Zuckerberg, who apparently is a sadist who loves spying on the personal privacies - e-mails, photographs etc. etc. - of his "members"; and that Facebook should be shut down as soon as possible.

And I know this is not a common opinion, but at least this opinion is fact based and not fantasy based.

Here is more:

Three software flaws in Facebook’s systems allowed hackers to break into user accounts, including those of the top executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, according to two people familiar with the investigation but not allowed to discuss it publicly. Once in, the attackers could have gained access to apps like Spotify, Instagram and hundreds of others that give users a way to log into their systems through Facebook.

The software bugs were particularly awkward for a company that takes pride in its engineering: The first two were introduced by an online tool meant to improve the privacy of users. The third was introduced in July 2017 by a tool meant to easily upload birthday videos.

I would like to see the private mails of the sick spies Zuckerberg and Sandberg, though I do not know I will. Also - having heard so very many lies from Facebook - I would not be amazed at all if these supposed "software flaws" were not flaws, especially since these were supposed "flaws" in (bolding added) "an online tool" that was said to mean "to improve the privacy of users": No it did not; it destroyed the privacies of 55 million Facebook users.

Finally, here is another nicety of Facebook:

As the news of Facebook’s data breach spread quickly across Twitter, Google searches and other online sites, there was one place where it remained difficult to find some detailed reports: Facebook.

Users who posted breaking stories about the breach from The Guardian, The Associated Press and other outlets were prompted with a notice that their posts had been taken down. So many people were posting the stories, they looked like suspicious activity to the systems that Facebook uses to block abuse of its network.

“We removed this post because it looked like spam to us,” the notice said.

I say: Bullshit. You removed them because you did not want your "members" to read yet another major break in your sick, stealing and morally degenerate software.

4. Kavanaugh, Ford, and Power

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Make no mistake: The drama that took place in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018 was about power: On one side, the power of men who harass or abuse women and get away with it, the power of privileged white men to entrench their power even more on the Supreme Court, the power of men to take away a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.

On the other side, the power of women with the courage to tell what has happened to them, to demand an end to white male privilege, and to preserve and enlarge their constitutional rights. 

Dr. Ford was poised, articulate, clear and convincing. No one who witnessed her testimony and her responses could conclude that she failed to tell the truth. More than that: She radiated self-assured power.

Brett Kavanaugh showed himself to be a vicious partisan – a Trump-like figure who feels entitled to do and say whatever he wants, who suspects leftwing plots against him, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions, who uses emotional bullying and intimidation to get his way.

Yes indeed. Also, while I strongly dislike Kavanaugh anyway, the hearings also showed that Kavanaugh cannot even control himself.

Kavanaugh should not be a member of the Supreme Court. Here is the last bit of Reich that I quote from this article:

Kavanaugh may still get on the Supreme Court, but there can no longer be any doubt about his temperament or character, or his politics. A large share of the American public will never trust him to be impartial. Many will never believe his denials of sexual harassment. Most will continue to see him as the privileged, arrogant, self-righteous person he has revealed himself to be.

Yes, I agree - and I will also stop to believe any decision by a Supreme Court with a rapist in it. And this is a recommended article.  
5. Brett Kavanaugh, the All-American Privileged Boy

This article is by Michael Winship on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Kavanaugh’s yearbook, on the other hand, reveals a plethora of infantile jock jokes about booze and sex from him and his pals, including repeated double entendre jibes aimed at a young woman named Renate at another school. He now says that he and his buddies “cringe” that they did this kind of thing but that the references to the woman were made out of respect. Sure they were. So why does she say the comments were “horrible, hurtful and simply untrue?”

There were three stages to Thursday’s Senate hearing on the first of the drunken sexual misconduct allegations made against Kavanaugh. The session began as an embarrassment, a circus, a sham.
Yes indeed. Here is more:
Part of the rigging was bringing in Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, to ask the Republicans’ questions so as not to expose them for the out-of-touch, misogynistic gang they are (too late, boys). There were strict time limits on questions and even the insistence on a smaller hearing space to restrain the press and keep the public out of the room.

But then Christine Blasey Ford began to testify, and she spoke with simple, powerful conviction and an unshakeable adherence to the facts of her trauma that the prosecutor could not crack.  She was “one hundred percent” certain that Kavanaugh had been her assailant, his friend Mark Judge in the bedroom egging him on.
This seems also quite correct. And then there was Kavanaugh:
Then Judge Kavanaugh appeared and turned the same room in which spectators had wept upon hearing his accuser’s story into a spittle-flecked chamber of vitriol and hate. His face flushed and contorted, that sense of entitlement inculcated in youth turned to rage and victimhood. In his opening statement he blamed his troubles not on his own alleged misdeeds but the dark doings of outside forces. They’re the ones at fault, he said. How dare they threaten what was rightfully his?
Revenge? His was not a judicial temperament. It was the unhinged ranting of a hyper-partisan, right-wing ideologue who should not be allowed to serve as an associate justice of SCOTUS.
I think this is quite accurate - and in fact here are two fairly important former backers of Kavanaugh who reconsidered their earlier decisions:
 The American Bar Association, which had previously declared Kavanaugh “well-qualified” for the job, called for a delay. Hell, even the Jesuits are turning against their alumnus. After the hearing Thursday, the Jesuit magazine America withdrew its endorsement, the editors writing that, “even if the credibility of the allegation has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt and even if further investigation is warranted to determine its validity or clear Judge Kavanaugh’s name, we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country.”
I'd say Kavanaugh's behavior has disqualified him as a member of the Supreme Court.

Finally, this is from the ending of the article, and while it does not have much to do with Kavanaugh or the Supreme Court I do like to make a remark on it:

It’s said that St. Francis Xavier, founder of the Jesuit order in the 16th century, pronounced, “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man.”
Yes - and for me, whose mind was not upset, abused, falsified nor forced by any teachings of any church, because both of my parents were atheists: I think St. Xavier was quite right about the great majority of children that are exposed to religious education until they are seven, which for me is a very strong reason to object to all manner of religious education (in any religion also) of children. 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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