December 26, 2018

Crisis: Hedges & Hersh, Intercept Summaries, Truthdig Originals, Chomsky & Social Media, Assange


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 26, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 26, 2018.

Also, the present Nederlog is to an extent part of the many commemorations that occur at the end of the year, so the following five or six days may have some of that, as does today, for it has three commemorative reviews.

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 three 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 26, 2018:
1. Banishing Truth
2. Intercept Summaries of 2018

3. The Best Truthdig Originals of 2018

4. Noam Chomsky: Social media outlets have ‘become major forces for
     undermining democracy’

5. Pilger: ‘Julian is a touchstone for opposition’
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. Banishing Truth

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir “Reporter,” describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.

“The editor urged me to do nothing,” he writes. “It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did.” He describes himself as “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.”

In fact, this article is about Seymour Hersh (and that link is the Wikipedia on him) and indeed he deserves being written about, for reasons that are well explained by Hedges:

Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military’s chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure the impact of biological agents including tularemia, yellow fever, Rift Valley fever and the plague. He broke the story of the My Lai massacre. He exposed Henry Kissinger’s wiretapping of his closest aides at the National Security Council (NSC) and journalists, the CIA’s funding of violent extremist groups to overthrow the Chilean President Salvador Allende, the CIA’s spying on domestic dissidents within the United States, the sadistic torture practices at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by American soldiers and contractors and the lies told by the Obama administration about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet he begins his memoir by the candid admission, familiar to any reporter, that there are crimes and events committed by the powerful you never write about, at least if you want to keep your job. One of his laments in the book is his decision not to follow up on a report he received that disgraced President Richard Nixon had hit his wife, Pat, and she had ended up in an emergency room in California.

I think the last quotation shows that Hersh is a great investigative reporter. As to his ¨candid admission, familiar to any reporter, that there are crimes and events committed by the powerful you never write about, at least if you want to keep your job¨: I think that is quite true, and indeed has been true for many decades, and very probably a lot longer.

Here is some more on Hersh and current journalism:

Reporters embedded with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely witness atrocities and often war crimes committed by the U.S. military, yet they know that access is dependent on keeping quiet. This collusion between the press and the powerful is a fundamental feature of journalism, one that even someone as courageous as Hersh, at least a few times, was forced to accept. And yet, there comes a time when reporters, at least the good ones, decide to sacrifice their careers to tell the truth. Hersh, relentlessly chronicling the crimes of the late empire, including the widespread use of torture, indiscriminate military strikes on civilian targets and targeted assassinations, has for this reason been virtually blacklisted in the American media. And the loss of his voice—he used to work for The New York Times and later The New Yorker—is evidence that the press, always flawed, has now been neutered by corporate power. Hersh’s memoir is as much about his remarkable career as it is about the death of investigative journalism and the transformation of news into a national reality television show that subsists on gossip, invective, officially approved narratives and leaks and entertainment.

Yes, I think all of that is - unfortunately - quite true. Also, here is a partial explanation:

The government’s wholesale surveillance, however, has crippled the ability of those with a conscience, such as Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, to expose the crimes of state and remain undetected. The Obama administration charged eight people under the Espionage Act of leaking to the media—Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden—effectively ending the vital connection between investigative reporters and sources inside the government.

This government persecution has, by default, left the exposure of government lies, fraud and crimes to hackers. And this is the reason hackers, and those who publish their material such as Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, are relentlessly persecuted. The goal of the corporate state is to hermetically seal their activities, especially those that violate the law, from outside oversight or observation. And this goal is very far advanced.

Yes indeed - and I have many times indicated that I regard wholesale surveillance - which is happening since 2001, and was enabled by the Internet, that in my opinion was expressly designed by DARPA to surveil everyone (see here for more) - as the most dangerous thing there is at present in the world.

Also, I think Hedges is quite right in insisting that ¨
The goal of the corporate state is to hermetically seal their activities, especially those that violate the law, from outside oversight or observation. And this goal is very far advanced.¨

If you want considerably more, try yesterday´s Nederlog. Here is the ending of Hedges´ article:

Hersh resigned. He published the account of the raid in the London Review of Books, the beginning of his current exile to foreign publications. When we most urgently need Hersh and good investigative reporters like him, they have largely disappeared. A democracy, at best, tolerates them. A failed democracy, like ours, banishes them, and when it does, it kills its press.

Yes, I agree, and this is a strongly recommended article with a lot more.

2. Intercept Summaries of 2018

This article is the first of three files that I announced in my introduction. It is by The Intercept, and starts like this:

From government eavesdropping on private citizens to revelatory details about Russian interference in the 2016 election to Washington’s draconian efforts to track and punish whistleblowers and journalists, surveillance and spying have been recurring themes this year. Influence-peddling has been rampant, with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies cozying up to the Trump administration in exchange for insider information, freedom to silence dissidents, and crucial assistance for their brutal war in Yemen. The U.S. government, meanwhile, has been up to its old tricks, honoring war criminals and promoting a notorious overseer of torture to lead the CIA, while pursuing Muslims at home and harming civilians in distant conflict zones.

Yes indeed, and this brief introduction is followed by 16 well-chosen selections from what The Intercept published in 2018. I think I can all strongly recommend them.

There also is a second commemorative file on the Intercept, namely here. This is about technology. It starts like this:

This will likely go down as the year in which technology, once envisioned as an empowering and equalizing force, finally went headlong down the path toward dystopia and oppression. Our story this summer about Google planning to return to China with censored search at first shocked Silicon Valley, but it was the dark nature of what followed — internal dissent squelched, executives dissembling, Chinese users to be closely tracked — that proved most surprising.

Other depressing developments seemed right out of an ominous sci-fi film like “Blade Runner,” whether it was reporting that revealed the National Security Agency’s prowess at voice recognition, Facebook’s plans to use artificial intelligence to predict users’ future behavior, or just how badly ultrawealthy Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was exploiting underlings. As tech enters 2019, its brightest days seem to be well behind it.

Yes, and this is followed by 14 well-chosen selections from what The Intercept published in 2018 on technology. Again I think I can strongly recommend all of them.

3. The Best Truthdig Originals of 2018

This article is the third of three files that I announced in my introduction. It starts as follows:
This year’s top Truthdig Original pieces include stark warnings from Chris Hedges, Bill Boyarsky and several regular contributors, as well as a peek into the possible future of U.S. banking courtesy of Ellen Brown and a debunking of an American myth by Jacob Bacharach. Click on the headline to read the full story.
There are 20 well-chosen selections from what Truthdig published in 2018. I think I can strongly recommend all of them.

4. Noam Chomsky: Social media outlets have ‘become major forces for undermining democracy’

This article is on AlterNet by an unnamed author. It starts as follows:

One of the most ludicrous—and debunked—claims of the far right is that the mainstream media in the United States has an inherent liberal/progressive bias. But Noam Chomsky tore that claim apart in his 1988 book, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (which he co-wrote with the late economist/media scholar Edward S. Herman). The real media bias, Chomsky stressed, was a corporate bias dictated by advertising and soundbites. And 30 years later, the 90-year-old Chomsky revisited his book during a recent interview

with Al Jazeera English.

“The myth is that the media are independent, adversarial, courageous, struggling against power,” Chomsky told Al Jazeera, stressing what while the United States often has “very fine reporters, correspondents” who do “an honest, courageous job,” they “must operate within a framework that determines what to discuss, what not to discuss. What we try to demonstrate in the book is that if you simply look at the institutional structure of the media within a state capitalist society like ours, they are performing pretty much the way you would expect.”

Yes, I think that is quite correct (just as it is typical of the American mainstream media not to interview Chomsky).

Then there is this:

Much has changed technologically since the release of “Manufacturing Consent” 30 years ago, including the rise of the Internet. Chomsky told Al Jazeera that having so much of the mainstream media owned by giant corporations “cheapens and reduces the access to information.” But he quickly added, “There is a way to compensate for that. The Internet does allow us to….overcome the impact of the concentration of media—and in fact, can be done pretty effectively.”

In fact, I don´t know whether that is correct. In my experience it is only partially correct, for I have been reading 35 sites since 2013, and at least two of these, namely AlterNet and Mother Jones, got a whole lot worse this year: Mother Jones suddenly became totally uncopyable, which means that I have totally given it up (and don´t read it anymore either), while AlterNet is, at least, in a present mess.

Back to the article:

Chomsky described social media outlets like Facebook as “double-edged,” noting, “Sometimes, they are used for constructive purposes. But they have also become major forces for undermining democracy.” Chomsky cited Brazil as an example, noting how effectively the far-right Jair Bolsonaro used social media to win Brazil’s presidential election this year.

I suppose I am more negative about Facebook than Chomsky. My own opinion is that it is a lying, deceiving, propagandizing bunch of privacy-stealing shit that is only fit for people with an IQ considerably less than 100.

This article ends as follows:

And [Chomsky] praised the New York Times, saying that “with all of its flaws….it still has the broadest and most comprehensive coverage of, I think, any newspaper in the world.”

Well... I have been reading the New York Times all year (very much in part, but even so) but lately it got a whole lot worse, namely by removing most of its texts. Therefore, if I have to evaluate the New York Times at present, I disagree with Chomsky, for the simple reason that
while I assume his words still fit the paper edition, they no longer fit the internet edition, which
is the only one I read. Also, this is a recommended article.

5. Pilger: ‘Julian is a touchstone for opposition’

This article is on Consortium News by Joe Lauria. It starts as follows:
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has vehemently denied that he ever met Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, according to journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, who met with Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in London last week.

Pilger said Assange told him the story published by The Guardian on Nov. 27 was a “total fabrication.”  Pilger told Consortium News in an interview for the Unity4J vigil on Friday that “I personally can confirm that did not happen. He said it was a fabrication. It was not possible. The way internal security works at that embassy, it was not possible.”

Pilger called The Guardian story “an indication of a kind of degradation of the media today and especially of the ‘respectable’ media. We discussed that a great deal.”
I like both Julian Assange and John Pilger, and the links are to Wikipedia articles on them (although I will not vouch for the correctness of any Wikipedia article).

As to Assange and Manafort: I have written about this before in Nederlog, and I completely believe Assange and Pilger.

And I agree with Pilger that The Guardian has grown very much worse since Viner succeeded Rusbridger in 2015 as chief editor, and indeed turned itself into something uncopyable. (I still read parts of it, but without liking it one bit.)

Here is more from the article:
Pilger had not visited Assange since before March, when the Ecuadorian government imposed a ban on his internet and phone connection, and limited visitors to his lawyers and family members.

Pilger’s impression on seeing him again is that Assange has lost no sharpness of mind after more than six years confined to a small space in the embassy, and now nine months cut off from the outside world.

“He’s in very good spirits,” Pilger said. “The extraordinary resilience of this man is something to behold. In his own personality, intellectually he is Julian.”

“I can’t say what he’s feeling. His health is probably holding steady but he urgently needs comprehensive diagnostic work done,” said Pilger.

“But people should know that Julian’s spirits, his whole sense of ‘to hell with them,’ and his own resolve to stand up to those who would want to do a great injustice to him is undiminished,” he said. “He’s not leaving, they will have to throw him out. He’s not going anywhere.”
Well... the above sounds a bit more positive about Assange than I have read in the last 9 months. I suppose Pilger speaks the truth, but I do not envy Assange.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this story:
Pilger said The Guardian story was the best example he could think of that expresses today’s Cold War. “I’ve never known it to be as explicit as it is now. And that fabricated Guardian story … is an example of that.”

He said: “In the first Cold War there was an opposition in those days. There isn’t a popular opposition now. The so-called liberal opposition is so confused, so disorientated, and so, almost wretched, in its uncertainty of its true allegiances, in its collusion, that there isn’t a major anti-war movement.”

“In many ways, Julian is a touchstone for opposition to so much of what is happening in our world. Of all the cases that illustrate resistance to that, there is none like that of Julian Assange.

“And he needs public, popular support. He needs people to go into the street outside the embassy. To go in the streets all over the world, as they have done in the past,” Pilger said.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article, but there is no video link on Consortium News to the interview with Assange that John Pilger made. I think it is this (that I found on Youtube). 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail