1. Spying on Congress and Israel
The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept (with a somewhat abbreviated long title):
- Spying on Congress and Israel
This starts as follows:
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the NSA under President Obama targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides for surveillance. In the process, the agency ended up eavesdropping on “the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups” about how to sabotage the Iran Deal. All sorts of people who spent many years cheering for and defending the NSA and its programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them and their American and Israeli friends rather than just ordinary people.
Glenn Greenwald is quite rigth - and it also seems as if many of those "who spent many years cheering for and defending the NSA and its programs of mass surveillance" in fact did not know what "mass surveillance" means, or else believed that there are (at least) two groups of people in the USA:
Those whose privacy is fit to be processed in any way the NSA thinks fit, and those whose privacy is not fit to be thus processed, such as members of Congress and the rich.
Not so: The NSA wants everything it can possibly get, including the private e-mails of members of Congress.
Greenwald's story is fairly funny (in a somewhat bitter way) and he details considerably more about Congressmen - should one now say the correcly PC "Congress(wo)men" or "wo(men)" since 2 out of the following 3 are females? - Hoekstra, Harman and Feinstein than I will reproduce, that you can read all of by clicking the above last dotted link.
Here is Glenn Greenwald's summary of one of these Congressmen, Pete Hoekstra:
This Glenn Greenwald proceeds to illustrate - in a (to me) quite convincing fashion - with references to (former) Congresswomen Harman and Feinstein, which I leave again to your interests.
But all that, of course, was before Hoekstra knew that he and his Israeli friends were swept up in the spying of which he was so fond. Now that he knows that it is his privacy and those of his comrades that has been invaded, he is no longer cavalier about it. In fact, he’s so furious that this long-time NSA cheerleader is actually calling for the criminal prosecution of the NSA and Obama officials for the crime of spying on him and his friends.This pattern — whereby political officials who are vehement supporters of the Surveillance State transform overnight into crusading privacy advocates once they learn that they themselves have been spied on — is one that has repeated itself over and over.
Here is a lesson (for some):
That is quite true, as the article shows. And as I indicated above, I believe that
So now, with yesterday’s WSJ report, we witness the tawdry spectacle of large numbers of people who for years were fine with, responsible for, and even giddy about NSA mass surveillance suddenly objecting. Now they’ve learned that they themselves, or the officials of the foreign country they most love, have been caught up in this surveillance dragnet, and they can hardly contain their indignation. Overnight, privacy is of the highest value because now it’s their privacy, rather than just yours, that is invaded.
(1) the NSA tries to get absolutely everything (which I think is quite probable and also widely assumed since Edward Snowden's revelations); that
(2) it tries to do so not because the NSA is primarily interested in catching "terrorists" (it also is trying to do that, with remarkably little success, but not primarily, and if it were primarily looking for terrorists they would be mostly looking for them rather than everyone, and they are not) but because it tries to get all information on everyone because this will make it by FAR the most powerful institution that ever existed; and that
(3) this also happens with the full consent and the financial support of the American government (that probably thinks it can control the NSA).
It seems that (1) is fairly widely agreed to (on the left), indeed in considerable part because of Snowden's evidence, but that (2) and (3) are not widely believed.
Well... possibly you need to have had communist parents and grandparents; a good intelligence; an M.A.; and sound ideas about power, deception and "public relations" to believe (2) and (3), but I am one of the - very rare - such persons, and I thought and think all of the above since 2005. Also, I have seen no evidence against it, and much for it - but OK, I do have that background and no one is forced to believe what I believe.
2. The GOP Has Become the Party from George Orwell’s Nightmares
The second item is Conor Lynch on Alternet, and originally on Salon:
- The GOP Has Become the Party from George Orwell’s Nightmares
This is from the beginning, after Lynch has explained that Milibank was complaining about the abuse of the GOP of the term "politically correct":
As Milibank writes:
When an entire field of candidates tend to thrive on bullshit (especially the current front-runners), it is not at all surprising that they have certain reliable terms that vilify critics of their bullshit and shut down debate. The truth is, Republicans have long utilized a manipulative phraseology, full of euphemisms and doublespeak, used either to shut down criticism and debate, as shown above, or to acerbate the listener’s emotional state — think “baby parts” and “death panels” — or provide a positive light on something that is generally frowned upon. (Ergo: Tax-avoiding billionaires become “job-creators.”)
“Once a pejorative term applied to liberals’ determination not to offend any ethnic or other identity group, it now is used lazily by some conservatives to label everything classified under “that with which I disagree.” GOP candidates are now using the “politically correct” label to shut down debate — exactly what conservatives complained politically correct liberals were doing in the first place.”
Indeed, that seems quite true. Here is some more on why Conor Lynch thinks (correctly, in my view) that - as the title says - "The GOP Has Become the Party from George Orwell’s Nightmares - and I have added a link to the full text of “Politics and the English Language" (in Russia, because Orwell's texts are still copyrighted in England and the USA):
In George Orwell’s classic essay on this subject, “Politics and the English Language,” he seems to describe modern Republicans to a tee, repeating the same tired, yet convenient phrases (the phrases have changed, of course). Orwell writes:
Yes, indeed - and in fact it is a mark against their intelligence and capacities that most do resemble plastic machines rather than real people, in part because some
of the best deceivers, like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, do not, even though they are at least as deceitful as members of Congress.
In a country where getting elected to public office requires massive amounts of private funding (“bribery” has become “donation”), is it really so shocking that the majority of politicians resemble machines? Republicans (and many Democrats) have become appendages of the corporate state apparatus, serving the interests of private industry before even considering the interests of the people.
“When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has the curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance towards turning himself into a machine.”
There is considerably more in the article that I leave to your interests, and it ends as follows:
It was only a matter of time until the lies and distortions caught up with Republicans. The party has built its modern platform on deception, and has carefully crafted an entire phraseology to back it up. But there is no amount of spin that can make Trump look honest. And Trump is, after all, the new face of the GOP.Perhaps not. Then again, Bill Clinton also told his electorate - quite truly - that he wasn't honest because he was a politician, and he was elected twice to president of the USA, and possibly the same could happen to Trump.
3. A Crisis Worse than ISIS? Bail-Ins Begin
The third item is by Ellen Brown (<- Wikipedia) on Washington's Blog and originally on Web of Debt:
- A Crisis Worse than ISIS? Bail-Ins Begin
This starts as follows:
At the end of November, an Italian pensioner hanged himself
after his entire €100,000 savings were confiscated in a bank “rescue” scheme. He left a suicide note blaming the bank, where he had been a customer for 50 years and had invested in bank-issued bonds. But he might better have blamed the EU and the G20’s Financial Stability Board, which have imposed an “Orderly Resolution” regime that keeps insolvent banks afloat by confiscating the savings of investors and depositors. Some 130,000 shareholders and junior bond holders suffered losses in the “rescue.”
I say - and I note this is in Europe (where I live): The bankmanagers now steal your money, in order to save and enrich themselves, all with full allowance of many European politicians.
Here is a summary on Europe:
in January, EU rules will require that they also be imposed on depositors. According to a December 10th article on BBC.com:
The rescue was a “bail-in” – meaning bondholders suffered losses – unlike the hugely unpopular bank bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis, which cost ordinary EU taxpayers tens of billions of euros.
Correspondents say [Italian Prime Minister] Renzi acted quickly because in January, the EU is tightening the rules on bank rescues – they will force losses on depositors holding more than €100,000, as well as bank shareholders and bondholders.
. . . [L]etting the four banks fail under those new EU rules next year would have meant “sacrificing the money of one million savers and the jobs of nearly 6,000 people”.
That is what is predicted for 2016: massive sacrifice of savings and jobs to prop up a “systemically risky” global banking scheme.
I quite believe it, simply because Europe and the European Union essentially have been sold by the vast majority of its traitorous politicians to the banks.
There is considerably more in the article, also about the USA.
4. The partially missing end-of-year routine on Nederlog
I cannot do everything I did the last years to mark the end of the year. The reason is that I am now - in spite of having two sites, one since 19 years and the other since 11 years, that together contain over 1 Gb of data and many thousands of files - completely without any statistics for my two sites.
Actually, this has been so for the xs4all site since I started it 19 years ago. At that time - 1996 - having a site was still fairly rare, and xs4all was quite good, as it was a firm of somewhat alternative hackers. By 2000 the firm was bought by KPN - "Dutch" Telecom - who ever since then has parasited on the alternative reputation xs4all had - but all of this was only public relations propaganda: Lies to convert the stupid and the ignorant. By now all they have if you want statistics for your own site is a link to a very small site of one of their users, who explains how you might get statistics for a single webpage by trying to write a Unix shell script, which he explains badly...
I am not saying any more about xs4all because this is the Dutch norm:
In Holland "absolutely everybody is equivalent" (according to the vast majority of Dutchmen, although plenty would insist that real Dutchmen have four grand- parents with real Dutch names) and "everybody knows truth doesn't exist" (because thus nobody ever can be refuted), and it seems it is the same or worse at their competitors, so essentially I have given up on Holland. (And no, I am not exaggerating: All in this paragraph is strictly correct. Incidentally: xs4all has - of course - everything I am looking for in much greater detail than I wish to know it. I take it they sell it to Americans and keep it from me.)
In Denmark, where my other site is located since 2004, it always has been a great lot better: Polite help, clear replies, decent statistics. But I can't get any
statistics since November 25 last, when my computer crashed (because of my own stupidity).
I am trying to get the statistics back for over three weeks now, but so far with little success. It probably will work again some time in the coming January, I suppose, but meanwhile I do not have any statistics for any of my two sites, with collectively over 1 Gb of my data.
Therefore I can't report on the numbers of users and files that were downloaded in Denmark, as I usually did at the end of the year.
I am sorry, but I am doing my best, and the Danish statistics probably will return.
Finally, this is the last - more or less - ordinary crisis file of 2015. I wish my readers a healthy and happy 2016. And there will be two or three other files today - the summaries of 2015 (a lot), and an end-of-the-year file.