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Nederlog

May 26, 2019

   Crisis: Assange & Espionage, Ellsberg on Assange, USA's Political Crisis,  CEOs vs Workers


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.






Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 26, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 26, 2019.

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from May 26, 2019:
1. Julian Assange’s Attorney Decries Espionage Charges
2. Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange's Espionage Charges Are a
     Travesty

3. The Only Solution to America's Political Crisis

4. Inequality Chasm Between CEOs and Workers 'Totally Out of
     Control'

The items 1 - 4 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. Julian Assange’s Attorney Decries Espionage Charges

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

In an unprecedented move, the Justice Department has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 17 charges of violating the Espionage Act for his role in publishing U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents were leaked by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The Espionage Act of 1917 has never been used to prosecute a journalist or media outlet. The new charges come just over a month after British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he took asylum in 2012. Initially the Trump administration indicted Assange on a single count of helping Manning hack a government computer, but Assange faces up to 170 additional years in prison under the new charges—10 years for each count of violating the Espionage Act. We speak with Jennifer Robinson, an attorney for Julian Assange. “It is a grave threat to press freedom and should be cause for concern for journalists and publishers everywhere,” Robinson says.

Yes, I agree with Robinson (“It is a grave threat to press freedom and should be cause for concern for journalists and publishers everywhere”) but want to make or at least indicate a few more points

  • Assange is an Australian: In what sense can an Australian be accused of espionage against the Americans if all he does is publishing, also from outside the USA?
  • To continue the above point: If a publisher can be prosecuted for publishing materials the American government doesn't like, what would prevent the Russian or the Chinese government, or any other government from prosecuting any publisher (say: The New York Times) for publishing materials these governments don't like (and threaten with sentences of 170 years for publishing what te publishers think is true)?
I do not think these questions are fully answered by what follows below, but some of the answers are quite relevant.

Here is first a bit by Amy Goodman:

Press freedom advocates have denounced the new charges. Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said, quote, “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism and a direct assault on the First Amendment.” Joel Simon, the head of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said, quote, “Press freedom in the United States and around the world is imperiled by this prosecution.” The legendary journalist Seymour Hersh told The New York Times, quote, “Today Assange. Tomorrow, perhaps, The New York Times and other media that published so much of the important news and information Assange provided,” unquote.

Yes, I fear all of the above quotations are quite true. Here is some more by Robinson:

JENNIFER ROBINSON: (..) It is a grave threat to press freedom and should be cause for concern for journalists and publishers everywhere, because, of course, Julian Assange is not American. Everything that he did was outside of the United States. So this is a concern for all journalists and publishers anywhere in the world who are publishing truthful information about the United States.

Precisely - and indeed because they all now run the serious risk that the American government may start a prosecution for espionage against - say - a German publisher because he publishes materials thay the American government does not like.

Here is more by Robinson:

JENNIFER ROBINSON: (..) It is not right or appropriate that a publisher should face criminal prosecution in this way. And 170 years, certainly a very long time in prison, is, for a publisher who has won journalism awards—he’s won the Sydney Peace Prize, journalism awards the world over—for having revealed government wrongdoing, human rights abuse, war crimes—this is a direct attack on the press and democracy itself.

Yes, I agree - and note that in Holland you may get eight (8) years for committing a murder, while the Norwegians have a maximum punishment of 20 years for any crime whatsoever.

Here is more by Robinson:

JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well, if you look at the indictment, while it is the Espionage Act, it’s publishing classified information damaging to the United States. But if you look at the indictment and the way in which it’s been described, effectively what this is, is a journalist and a publisher having conversations with a source about what information is available, and discussing with that source publishing the information. This is what journalists do, investigative journalists do, all the time. It is criminalizing the investigative journalism process and will place a massive chill on national security journalism in the United States and elsewhere around the world.

Yes, I quite agree, and this includes the thesis that "[t]his is what journalists do, investigative journalists do, all the time. It is criminalizing the investigative journalism process and will place a massive chill on national security journalism in the United States and elsewhere".

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which is from 2012:

JULIAN ASSANGE: The new interpretation of the Espionage Act that the Pentagon is trying to hammer in to the legal system, and which the Department of Justice is complicit in, would mean the end of national security journalism in the United States, and not only the United States, because the Pentagon is trying to apply this extraterritorially. Why would it be the end of national security journalism? Because the interpretation is that if any document that the U.S. government claims to be classified is given to a journalist, who then makes any part of it public, that journalist has committed espionage, and the person who gave them the material has committed the crime, communicating with the enemy.

Yes, I think that is quite correct. Also, Assange is quite correct that this interpretation endangers any journalist, whether or not American, helping to publish anything anywhere, that the U.S. government considers classified: The U.S. government should not be criticized by any journalist writing anything anywhere, or so it seems. There is a lot more in this article, which is strongly recommended.

2. Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange's Espionage Charges Are a Travesty

This article is by Sharmini Perles on Truthdig and originally on The Real News Network. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

In breaking news, the U.S. Department of Justice just charged Julian Assange on 18 counts of having violated the 1917 Espionage Act. This is a significant escalation of charges against him. Previously he was indicted on a charge of hacking into a Pentagon computer system. Assange is currently in prison in London after Ecuador revoked his political asylum at the London embassy, where he lived for almost seven years.

Joining me now to discuss the Assange indictment is Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel is a former U.S. military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation who became famous in 1971 when he released the Pentagon papers. The papers revealed top secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision making about the Vietnam War. His recent book is The Doomsday Machine, and you’ll find a series of interviews right here at The Real News Network with Daniel Ellsberg about the book.

Yes indeed - and I am sorry if I do not know Sharmini's last name, since it is quite clearly printed as "Perlis" next to the article and as "Peries" in the article.

Here is some more:

DANIEL ELLSBERG: I was sure that the Trump administration would not be content with keeping Julian Assange in prison for five years, which was the sentence for the one charge of conspiracy that he was charged with earlier. So I was sure they would go after him with a much longer sentence under the Espionage Act. I was charged with 12 counts, including one of conspiracy, in 1971, for a possible sentence of 115 years. In this case they brought 17 counts under the Espionage Act, plus the one conspiracy. So they’re facing him with 175 years. That’s, frankly, not that different from 115. It’s a life sentence. And it’ll be enough for them.

Yes, I agree. Here is some more:

DANIEL ELLSBERG: But the challenge is on as of now, right now. Every journalist in the country now knows for the first time that she or he is subject to prosecution for doing their job as journalists. It cuts out the First Amendment, essentially. That eliminates the First Amendment freedom of the press, which is the cornerstone of our American democracy and of this republic. So there’s an immediate focus, there should be an immediate concern not just for journalists over here and publishers, but for everyone who wants this country to remain a democratic republic.

Yes, I agree again. I also observe - having read 35 internet sites each day, nearly all journalistic, since 2013 - that few of the present journalists and publishers seem to agree with Ellsberg and me (and others).

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

DANIEL ELLSBERG: John Demer for the Department of Justice, I notice just now, is trying to distinguish Julian from journalists. In fact, he’s saying he’s not a journalist, although the New York Times, to whom he gave Chelsea Manning’s information initially, as I did, is saying very frankly that what he does is what The New York Times does. And clearly if he’s prosecuted and convicted, that confronts the New York Times, The Washington Post, and you, and every other journalist, with the possibility of the same charges.
    (..)
So this shows, in other words, that they’re saying, well, we won’t prosecute responsible journalists. But that assurance is worth nothing, aside from the question of who they’ll consider responsible or not. Remember that President Trump’s unprecedented charge here is that the American press, the mainstream press, is the enemy of the people. That’s a phrase that was used under Stalin, and also under Hitler, to describe people who were to be eliminated. It’s a very, very ominous historical phrase.
    (..)
These indictments are unprecedented. And I would say they are blatantly unconstitutional, in my opinion. Which is not worth that much, except it’s a subject I’ve been close to for a long time. This is an impeachable offense, to carry on a prosecution this blatantly in violation of the Constitution, which the president and the attorney general are sworn to uphold. They are not doing that at this moment.

Yes, I completely agree and this is a strongly recommended article.


3. The Only Solution to America's Political Crisis

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. This is from not far from its start:

Piecing all these and countless other horrific stories about Trump and his presidency together, anyone with any basic knowledge of fascism, past and present, can easily and correctly identify him as an aspiring fascist leader. It is rare, however, for liberal corporate media operatives to go all the way with the F-word—fascism—when it comes to describing Trump.

Their silence here is ironic. Worried talking heads at MSNBC—an outpost of the Democratic Party’s reigning corporate establishment —and across the liberal punditocracy warn frequently and loudly about what they consider the Democratic Party’s “socialism problem.” They do this even though just a small handful of Democrats (Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib) identify as “democratic socialists.” They fret over the socialist menace despite the fact that all these “radical” Democrats mean by “socialism” is capitalism with some long overdue Western- and northern European-style social reforms.

Meanwhile, the party in power is headed by a white nationalist authoritarian buoyed by a significantly fascist base. The norm-smashing president is moving from fascist-style politics to fascist-style policy with audacious speed and zeal. His politics and policies draw heavily on the classic fascist notion that the nation is menaced by a big, radical left—a notion that liberal media is helping spread with its warning against Democratic “socialism.”

Well... I admit that I agree with the above, but I also have a fundamental difficulty with it, which is this:

I have been closely following "the press" - at least as it manifests itself in 35 sites I load every day since 2013, and also since the crisis of 2008, which is meanwhile over 10 years  old - but so far (i) I have not found one single journalist or "public person" who has anything like a halfway decent definition of "fascism" (and the last link is to my own definition, which is both decent and informed) and (ii) I have not even found any journalist or
"public person" who seems to be aware of the fact that there are more than 20 different definitions (and "definitions", for most are now much worth as definitions) of fascism: See my On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions).

So while I agree with Street, I have to add that he uses a term - "fascism" - that I have not seen anyone define even half-way correctly since 2008.

I think this is a serious difficulty, both for Street and also for the many users of the term "fascism" that I have read since 2013, which was and is quite frequent since 2015, but which never got as much as clearly defined.

Here is some more by Street:

Two other mainstream media silences deserve mention in the age of Trump. The first is the absence of any serious discussion of how fundamentally defective the American social and political system was—and is—to allow someone like Trump to rise to power and stay there.
    (..)
The harsh systemic reality—the ways in which the corporate state discredits liberal institutions and democracy to provide ground for the development of far-right and even fascist politics—is a nonstory in the dominant media and politics culture.

I agree with the second paragraph but with the same remarks about fascism I made above, while I think the first blames "the American social and political system" but does not even mention that Trump was elected by more than 60 million Americans, that I consider to be in majority stupid or ignorant.

Incidentally, you may disagree with me, but as I (a psychologist) use terms I think half of the population of the USA, which had 327 million inhabitants in 2018, must be stupid or ignorant in my terms, because half of any large unsorted human group has an average IQ of maximally 100.

That is over 150 million hardly intelligent inhabitants, which - though this covers children as well - is easily enough to have voted for Trump.

Anyway... here is some more by Street:

A second and related media silence is on the need for massive popular protest—real resistance—beyond the election cycle to bring down the Trump regime and the system that gave rise to it. The media may come up short by failing to properly portray Trump as a fascist, but they do accurately present a vicious authoritarian, a racist, a sexist, a gangster, a malignant narcissist and a modern-day “royal brute” (to use the Declaration of Independence’s language referring to King George in 1776).

What should the populace do about the presence of a soulless despot atop its government who thinks he’s above the law? Tyrants who would rule like kings are supposed to face popular upheavals, aren’t they?

Well... I refer you again to my remark about fascism - which, incidentally, I do know a lot about because both my parents were among the very few who really resisted Nazism after it had conquered Holland in 1940, which also led to my father being arrested by the Nazis in 1941, and his father being arrested at the same time, both for being "political terrorists", according to the collaborating Dutch judges (incidentally: collaboration was the most popular response in Holland to the Nazis, which also is the basic explanation for the fact that 104,000 - mostly - Dutch Jews were murdered in WW II), which again let to my grandfather being murdered and my father being locked up for over 3 years and 9 months in 4 German concentration camps.

In brief: Unless Street at least somewhat clearly and somewhat decently defines "fascism" his complaints about Trump being a fascist (which I think are correct) are not worth much, although I happen to agree with them.

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

If we, the people, are serious about stopping Trump, we’ll take to the streets en masse to engage in substantial and unrelenting civil disobedience. If we are serious about democracy beyond just the removal of a single noxious ogre, we won’t go home just because a narrow-spectrum, big money, major media candidate-centered election is being held on its regular, absurdly time-staggered, once-every-1,460-days schedule. We won’t go home even if Trump loses and agrees to leave without incident. If we’re serious about popular sovereignty, we’ll stick around to “dismantle the corporate state” (Chris Hedges) that birthed both Trump and the inauthentic opposition party (the neoliberal era Democrats), along with so much else that has long outlived its expiration date (i.e., the fossil fuel industry and the Pentagon system).

Well... I agree again with Street, but I am afraid that I will not see this happen. This is a strongly recommended article.


4. Inequality Chasm Between CEOs and Workers 'Totally Out of Control'

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Two studies by the executive compensation firm Equilar on Friday revealed that CEOs of some of the wealthiest companies in the U.S. are seeing their pay rise at about twice the rate of the workers who make the day-to-day operations of their businesses run.

The Associated Press commissioned a study of compensation for 340 executives at S&P 500 companies which revealed that the CEOs earned raises averaging $800,000 in 2018—a seven percent increase over the previous year.

Workers would need to work 158 consecutive years to earn what their bosses make in one year, the AP reported.

"This is not sustainable," wrote Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in response to the AP report.

Well... I quite agree, though I fear Clarke's "NOT sustainable" ought to be clarified as follows: "NOT morally sustainable" for in fact this kind of society, where the few rich get most things, and the many non-rich get just a little, has been popular since 1979 or 1980, indeed also among the majority of the non-rich.

Here is the difference between the few American rich and the many American non-rich:

Equilar also conducted an annual survey for the New York Times, examining compensation for 200 of the highest-paid executives in the country.

CEOs at companies including Tesla, Oracle, and T-Mobile saw their pay increase by an average of $1.1 million in 2018, bringing their median compansation to $18.6 million.

American workers were given a raise of just 84 cents on average, reported the Times.

In other words, if the above is correct, the difference between the few rich and the many non-rich at present is as 84 cents : 1.1 million. That is, it is less than 1 dollar : 1 million dollars, which is saying the same, in other terms, as saying the few rich earned a million times more than the many non-rich.

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

Both Equilar reports come amid intensifying anger from progressive lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) and presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Sanders has frequently decried out-of-control income inequality, epitomized by the fact that the three wealthiest American families own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of earners. One of Warren's first policy proposals as a presidential candidate was her Ultra-Millionaires Tax, which would tax wealth over $50 million at three percent per year.

Montana Gov. and presidential candidate Steve Bullock tweeted a link to the Times report, writing, "We can get our country back on track, but that starts with ensuring every working family gets a fair shot at success."

Well... I agree with the first two quoted paragraphs, but I think Bullock is lying or speaking the type of propaganda he hopes will lead to his election.

Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 3 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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