December 1, 2018

Crisis: The Senate & Wars, Trump & China, Bernie Sanders Speaks, On The Internet, Subpoenas


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 1, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, December 1, 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 December 1, 2018:
1. The Senate Just Took a Major Step Toward Ending the War in Yemen.
2. Will Trump Speak Up Against China’s Oppression?
3. Full Bernie Sanders Speech
4. The Center Is Not Holding, and Trump Is Our Proof
5. What's A Subpoena - And Should Trump Fear It?
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. The Senate Just Took a Major Step Toward Ending the War in Yemen.

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

The United States Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to advance a resolution withdrawing all unauthorized U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which has created, according to the UN, the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe and killed more than 50,000 people. It’s the first time that a majority in either chamber of Congress has endorsed a bill which calls for an end to U.S. involvement in the Yemen war — a war which would not be happening if it weren’t for U.S. involvement. Mehdi Hasan is joined by Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the big drivers behind this resolution, Yemeni-Canadian activist and academic Shireen Al Adeimi, and The Intercept’s national security reporter Alex Emmons to discuss what the Senate’s vote means and the next steps forward.

So, this week, on Deconstructed: this is big. The Senate seems to have begun the process, finally, hurray, for ending the U.S. role in the war in Yemen – but what happens now?

Yes, I agree: This is big, basically because (i) it is anti-war (ii) it is the Senate and (iii) the Senate advanced the resolution with considerable support from the Republicans. And I admit I am somewhat amazed by all three points.

Here is more:

MH: (...) Senator Murphy, thanks for joining us back on the show again. You’ve got some good news for our listeners, I believe.

CM: I’ve just stepped out of the Senate chamber where we voted to advance resolution ending U.S. participation in the Yemen War by a big bipartisan majority, 63-37. It’s the first time in three years since I started fighting the U.S. involvement in Yemen that we’ve broken through. This is a preliminary vote. It just allows us to proceed to a debate on the resolution. But it is a watershed moment. It’s the first time the Senate has ever moved forward a resolution under the War Powers Act to withdraw us from military activity overseas, and it shows that both Republicans and Democrats are very upset about the status of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Khashoggi murder, but also in the wake of the increasing humanitarian disaster in Yemen. I don’t know what happens after this. This is kind of new, unknown territory for the Senate to be in an open-ended debate on a War Powers Resolution (..) 

Yes, I agree. First, here is a link to Sen. Chris Murphy. And second, I think he is quite right in asserting "This is a preliminary vote. It just allows us to proceed to a debate on the resolution. But it is a watershed moment. It’s the first time the Senate has ever moved forward a resolution under the War Powers Act to withdraw us from military activity overseas".

Here is more:

MH: And 49 – all 49 Democrats voted for this. You also got 14 Republicans. Did you ever think you’d get 14 Republicans? When we last spoke a couple of months ago, I bet you didn’t think you’d get 14 Republicans onto a vote like this.

CM: Certainly not. A lot of credit to Bob Corker who came out this morning in support of this resolution –

MH: The chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.

CM: – Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and a lot of members listen to him.
Yes, I agree again (and this also was for me, at least, the most amazing thing). Here is a link to Sen. Bob Corker.

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

MH: And of course, if this bill passes through the Senate and then through a Democratic house next year, Trump can still veto it as the president.

CM: Absolutely. And so, you’re a long way from this, you know, really becoming law. But again, this is a seminal break with Saudi Arabia. This is Republicans and Democrats rebuking both the current Saudi regime, but also this administration’s policy towards Saudi Arabia. That is going to have reverberations all around the globe and I don’t think today, literally an hour from the vote, we can fully understand what the impact of this vote is.

This is probably also correct, and Murphy is right that "you’re a long way from this, you know, really becoming law". And there is a whole lot more in this article that is recommended.

2. Will Trump Speak Up Against China’s Oppression?

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

As President Trump prepares to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the G-20 gathering in Argentina this weekend, tough American tariffs and a broader bilateral trade relationship are at the top the agenda.

But what about concerns that the Trump administration has expressed in the past over Beijing’s repression and mass internment of Uighurs and other Muslims? Some of Mr. Trump’s top lieutenants, like Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have called attention to the Uighurs’ plight, but given the president’s fixation on tariffs, he may well decide to hold his fire about the Uighurs to appease Mr. Xi in pursuit of a trade deal. So it’s no surprise that the White House is refusing to say whether the Uighurs will be on the agenda.

Yes, and this was introductory. Here is the real point of this article:

Today, when another, more hostile strategic realignment between Beijing and Washington seems to be underway, there is again an urgent need to address at the highest levels of the American government what have been described as China’s worst human rights abuses in decades. They are largely happening in secret to a group of people who are little known outside China.

Mr. Xi has imposed China’s most sweeping internment program since Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, when more than a million people were killed and millions of others were imprisoned, tortured and humiliated.

As Mr. Pompeo and other senior officials have acknowledged, Chinese officials are forcibly holding hundreds of thousands — perhaps more than one million — Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in camps across the northwest Central Asian border region of Xinjiang without any formal legal process.

There have been credible reports of torture, starvation and death in the camps. There are, as well, accusations that officials have forced detainees to renounce traditional Islamic practices and swear allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party.

Yes indeed. Here are the important points:

First, it is quite true that "Mr. Xi has imposed China’s most sweeping internment program since Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution" - and unlike Mao Xi has the internet plus the very probable - undoubtedly very well-paid - support of Google, which in fact allows his spies to control everyone of the more than a billion Chinese.

Second, it is also true that "Chinese officials are forcibly holding hundreds of thousands — perhaps more than one million — Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in camps across the northwest Central Asian border region".

And third, it is true that "[t]here have been credible reports of torture, starvation and death in the camps."

I think this is all quite important, both for China and the Uighurs and other Muslims, but I agree with the article that Trump may not mention these problems at all, and instead will concentrate
on tariffs and profits. And this is a recommended article.

3. Full Bernie Sanders Speech

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:
Hundreds of international progressive leaders have traveled to Burlington, Vermont for a gathering hosted by the Sanders Institute. Last night, former presidential candidate and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders kicked the event off with a keynote speech on healthcare, raising the minimum wage and his bipartisan resolution to end military support for the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. He was introduced by Harvard professor Cornel West.
Yes (and I normally print the introductions to the interviews from Democracy Now! simply because they are good and clarifying).

From here on until the end of this article the speaker is Bernie Sanders:
BERNIE SANDERS: It turns out that even—Cornel used the word “truncated”—Congress—man, I’ll give you some better words next time, all right? It might be a corporately owned Congress or might be other things. But even there, even there, it turns out that when you explain what the American people really did not hear much about, that in this terribly poor country of Yemen, very poor country, turns out that in the last three years, because of the Saudi-led invasion and intervention in that Civil War, 85,000 children have died of starvation. According to the United Nations, millions of people are on the brink of starvation. Ten thousand new cases of cholera break out every single week because the Saudi military has bombed the water infrastructure in Yemen so there is no clean water available. You are looking at the destruction of a very poor country. Nobody in America knew that.
But it turns out that when you start talking about that issue—and Cornel is right; everyone’s worried about one journalist—what a terrible tragedy that was, but what about the 85,000 children who starved to death?
Of course the "one journalist" was Kashoggi. I agree with Sanders (that is: 85,000 dead children are more important than one dead journalist).

Here is more:

BERNIE SANDERS: What we’re here to discuss is the fact that we are living in very, very difficult times, and you guys are struggling with all of these issues. And I know that during this conference, there is going to be some serious discussion about issues like economic justice. And economic justice means that maybe, just maybe, we will be able to begin a discussion in this country on a word that is never seen on television, not read in the newspapers too often. It’s called poverty.

We’ve got 40 million people, including more than a few in this beautiful state, who are struggling every single day to keep their heads above water. In this state and all over this country, people are working at two or three jobs. And everybody in this room knows that while unemployment today is relatively low, that does not mean that tens of millions of families do not continue to struggle.

Yes, I think that is true (except for confusing "economic justice" with beginning a discussion about poverty): I agree that the USA (and quite a few other states) are getting more and more as if the middle class is being removed, and what remains are the very few very rich (the plutocracy) and the very many poor and very poor (the rest).

Here is more:

BERNIE SANDERS: Is it appropriate that the top one tenth of one percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, and that we have in this wealthy country the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major nation on earth?


BERNIE SANDERS: Now the TV folks may not like it, and the establishment may not like it and Wall Street may not like it, but this is a profound issue. This issue of income and wealth inequality is a profound issue, it is a moral issue, it is an economic issue and it is a political issue. Because we have got to stand up, as all of you know, to a corrupt campaign finance system where these very same billionaires are buying elections.
I agree with the audience members. Also, Sanders is quite correct that "income inequality" (itself a euphemism if you are speaking about the very rich vs. the very poor) is "a moral issue, it is an economic issue and it is a political issue" (although it also is a legal issue: why legally permit that a very few can become extremely rich entailing that the very many must remain poor?!) - and this is quite relevant because the Republicans tend to see not three or four issues, but just one: How much profit the rich will end up with.

And of course Sanders is quite right that the few billionaires are "buying elections" (thanks mainly to Citizens United).

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
BERNIE SANDERS: A majority of the American people believe in comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship. The overwhelming majority of the American people do not support the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and people want us to move toward public funding of elections, and we’re seeing progress in that area. We are seeing some progress in taking on the outrageous level of voter suppression and gerrymandering. But clearly, if we’re going to create the country we know we have to create, we have to take on not only a corrupt campaign finance system, but a corrupt election system as well.
Yes, I quite agree and this is a strongly recommended article. 

4. The Center Is Not Holding, and Trump Is Our Proof

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

As the world’s pre-eminent heads of state gather in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this weekend for the annual G-20 summit, the postwar order has never looked more fragile. War threatens to break out at any moment between Russia and Ukraine, Britain is staring into the abyss of a failed Brexit negotiation and the U.S. faces a rising tide of ethno-nationalism, reinforced in no small part by Donald Trump’s presidency. Compounding this larger crisis, new research indicates we have just 12 years to radically reduce carbon emissions or risk climate catastrophe.

The center is not holding, and if a devastating new report from The New York Times is to be believed, the falconer’s falcon is but one of the innumerable creatures wiped off the planet just in the past 50 years. As Jonathan Aronson argues in his new book, “Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance,” we are living through a period of profound social and economic upheaval—one that threatens the very foundations of our political system.

Yes indeed - and this is a good sketch. Here is more:

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s Jonathan Aronson, who has written a book with Peter Cowhey called “Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance.” The interesting idea of this book is–it’s a contradictory idea; on the one hand, clearly, digital communication, the digital age, the age of the internet, has changed everything. On the other hand, we have a set of problems that have been with us forever–problems of accountability, truth-telling, democracy, representation, bias. Our politics seem to be as much of an irrational mishmash as ever. And the public seems to be, well, more divided and more confused than ever. So what is the great wonder of the digital age?

Jonathan Aronson: (..) In the case of this book, what we’re saying is communication, information technology, has forced the change of supply [chains] and business models of every kind of business. From agriculture to mining, from manufacturing to high-tech. All of those are changing, and all of those companies are scrambling to figure out how to continue to make money. (..) So what has happened is the world has changed; the economies have changed; the companies have changed; but as usual, the rules have lagged behind.
Yes, this seems all correct, although I like to add to Aronson's last statement that not merely have "the rules (..) lagged behind":

They are also extremely much more abused than before the internet, for who would ever have agreed before the arrival of the internet that everyone's private mails are being stolen and stored in very many national spy centers, and that everyone is continuously risking to get all manner of spy systems installed in their private computers and private houses?!

And please note that billions upon billions of mails are being stolen every day (both by the secret services from everywhere and by the sick degenerates from Google, Facebook, Apple etc.) and that the only "reason" to do so is a very vague, very general and quite false assertion that this is necessary to combat terrorism (which it is not).

Here is more - and from now on I will only quote Scheer, for the simple reason that he said the interesting things in this interview. Here is the first bit:
Robert Scheer:  So let me ask you, in terms of your book–and I read it very carefully–I actually found it quite depressing. Not because of your writing or anything, but because of its vision of the world: that the brave new world of the internet might not sustain meaningful, productive, and stable life.
In fact, I agree that "the internet" does "not sustain meaningful, productive, and stable life".

On the contrary the internet is both by far the best instrument ever deviced to suppress almost everybody by very few; to introduce authoritarianism, tyranny, and neofascism; and to give all powers to the very rich and the secret services. (For more see here, and I contend once again that I am glad that I was born in 1950 rather than in 2000, for I do not know what can be done about the neofascistic powers that the internet unlocked, quite consciously so, for this was the end of the internet - as produced by DARPA - since the late 1960ies, and these ends have been completely achieved.)

Here is more:
RS: When you’re a miner and you belong to the United Mine Workers union, or you’re an auto worker and you belong to the United Auto Workers, we had a mechanism for social justice in this society. We had a way of people getting decent wages, decent health care, decent opportunities, a prospect of sending their kids to the state university or somewhere else, where they would get ahead in life, and so forth. So we had the, for once, a modern economic component of equality, of opportunity, of a growing middle class. However, the internet has destroyed a model of sharing wealth. You see it with Amazon that doesn’t have unionized workers. You see it with the end of the journalism industry. We’re a school of communication and journalism; we now have more PR students than we have journalism students. So the business model of the internet begs for a new kind of socialism–or, on the right-wing side, a new kind of fascism.
Yes, I think I agree completely - and if ever there will be "a new kind of socialism" it will have to start with sanitizing the internet and stopping the universal spying on everything anyone does, or says, or writes.

Here is more:
RS: Well, but let’s take this disappearing middle class, or hollowing out of the middle class. Because the middle class was the great hope of democracy, economic democracy and stability. De Tocqueville, as a foreign observer, made a very important point: the saving grace of the American experiment was this ever-expanding middle class–of opportunity, of increasing skills, education, and so forth. If that has been hollowed out, what comes in its place? Maybe what comes in its place–and this is why I bring up Sanders and Trump–is either a regimented society, which rewards people who go along and march in lock-step, which is the neofascist model, and you keep your nose clean and OK, we’ll take care of you. Or a society which empowers people, aside from whether they have wealth or not, where you have meaningful elections without–with real campaign finance. Where you have guaranteed health care, so your job is not the ticket to your actual survival, right? Where you have guaranteed minimum wage, so people can live off their work. And it really seems to me a battle between a vision of fascism and a vision of social democracy.
Yes, I think I agree again completely. And incidentally... one of the reasons why I fear neofascism will win is that "a regimented society, which rewards people who go along and march in lock-step, which is the neofascist model, and you keep your nose clean and OK, we’ll take care of you" is what the majority (at present) want.

Put otherwise, and maybe a bit less radical: I very strongly believe that those who need personal freedom to function well are the minority of the intelligent and educated persons.

Here is more:

RS: Now, I want to end by taking the three points that you raised: the cloud–that it’s not national, it’s multinational–cybersecurity, and privacy. They’re all three interrelated, and the significance of the cloud not being national is, they’re basically talking about the collection of data worldwide, the commingling of data, the mining of data. And the reality is that you can think you’re giving your data over to a democratic society in England or the United States, but that data is circulating in Egypt, it’s circulating in Brazil, anywhere else–China, Russia, and so forth.
Yes, quite so - and I have to add that I absolutely never believed in "the cloud" and never
used it, indeed for the reason Scheer gives: It seemed to me to be the obvious way in which spies and advertisers could circumvent the very few legal rules that factually apply to the internet, and rob everything from anyone who put his data on "the cloud".

I also agree on cybersecurity and privacy, but my own point of view is that it is all too late: Until the socialist revolution happens (which welll may be never), everyone is implicitly copied in everything he or she does, says, writes and thinks, and his or her total information is stored by many tens of secret services and at least ten extremely rich advertisers.

In fact, this also means that from the point of view of information and privacy no one (except the very rich and possibly some in the governments) has any privacy at all, and the secret services and advertisers at least store everything you do, want, write and think.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
RS: But the dirty secret of the internet is that without invading privacy, you don’t have a profit model. For most of these companies. Their money-making model is by destroying your privacy. It is also opening up to cybersecurity questions, and it also has to do with the cloud; these three are joined. And they’re basically, the dirty secret of the new internet world is your private data, your most sacred, who you are, the definition of who you are, the thing that can be used to imprison you, to con you, to betray you–that is the stuff that is the source of profit, exploiting that.
Precisely - and let me add that not only is "the dirty secret of the new internet world is your private data, your most sacred, who you are, the definition of who you are, the thing that can be used to imprison you, to con you, to betray you–that is the stuff that is the source of profit, exploiting that" (with which I totally agree) but precisely the same applies to every governmental secret service in the world: You are completely known, even though you don't know anything about it, and you may be known, in that sense, to every governmental secret service.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. What's A Subpoena - And Should Trump Fear It?

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

You’re probably hearing a lot about subpoenas. Or you will very soon, once Democrats take control of the House. 

A subpoena is a legal command from a court or from one or both houses of Congress to do something – like testify or present information. The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty.” Someone who receives a subpoena but doesn’t comply with it may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

Here’s how it works.

In fact, this is all I am quoting from this article, which I quote precisely because it answers the question what a subpoena is and does so quite well: Go to Reich's site if you want to know (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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