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Nederlog

March 4, 2018

Crisis: Chinese Censorship, Putin's Speech, Trump's Presidency*2, McGovern on Putin



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 4, 2018.

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, March 4, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

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.

Section 2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from March 4, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. China Presses Its Internet Censorship Efforts Across the Globe
2. Are You Listening, America?
3. Trump's Presidency Is Neither Normal Nor Acceptable
4. Who Would Want to Work for President Trump Anyway?
5. Putin Claims Strategic Parity, Respect
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. China Presses Its Internet Censorship Efforts Across the Globe

This article is by Paul Mozur on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Within its digital borders, China has long censored what its people read and say online. Now, it is increasingly going beyond its own online realms to police what people and companies are saying about it all over the world.

For years, China has exerted digital control with a system of internet filters known as the Great Firewall, which allows authorities to limit what people see online. To broaden its censorship efforts, Beijing is venturing outside the Great Firewall and paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services.

As part of that shift, Beijing has at times pressured foreign companies like Google and Facebook, which are both blocked in China, to take down certain content. At other times, it has bypassed foreign companies entirely and instead directly pushed users of global social media to encourage self-censorship.

I think this is correct, that is I agree that under Xi Pinjing "Beijing is venturing outside the Great Firewall and paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services."

Incidentally, the whole possibility that the Chinese are "paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services" (and I think they are) was created by the creation of the internet around 1990, which had - quite intentionally, I think - decided that all mails by anyone from anywhere were no longer protected as earlier paper mails were, but were entirely freely available to any secret service with access to some of the internet cables.

And since I have read that Mr. Brzezinski knew already in 1969 what he wanted the internet to be:

Mr Brezezinski does not expect that the Luddite
lovers of freedom and anarchy will seriously obstruct the new
order. For one thing, 'it will soon be possible to assert almost
continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-
date, complete files, containing even personal information
about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in
addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be
possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the
future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the
rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them. [From 1967]

And:

"The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities." [From 1970]

I think Mr. Brzezinski did not have the completely unique ability to foresee technology's development in the next 20-plus years (for no one has, except in extremely general terms) I think the internet-as-is is the intentional product of the American DARPA, that also developed it, and was meant to provide access to everyone's computer, everyone's mails, and in fact to almost anything almost anyone may write on any computer connected with the internet.

This is also why I think the modern personal computer is in fact the instrument of a neofascistic system that has been set up to control everyone anywhere, namely by knowing everything or most things anyone knows, desires and values.

Having seen Mr. Brzezinksi develop these totalitarian and authoritarian totally anti-democratic possibilities for the internet since 1967, we return to the present-day Chinese:

As Mr. Xi asserts himself and the primacy of Chinese geopolitical power, China has also become more comfortable projecting Mr. Xi’s vision of a tightly controlled internet. Beijing had long been content to block foreign internet companies and police the homegrown alternatives that sprouted up to take their place, but it is now directly pressuring individuals or requesting that companies cooperate with its online censorship efforts.

That puts many American tech giants in a tricky position, especially those that want access to China’s vast internet market of more than 700 million strong. In the past, these companies have typically gone to great lengths to gain a toehold in China. Facebook created a censorship tool it did not use and released an app
in the country without putting its name to it. Apple is moving data storage for its Chinese customers into China and last year took down software that skirts China’s internet blocks from its China App Store. Google recently said it would open a new artificial intelligence lab in the country.

As I said, the actual technology by which Mr. Xi is controlling the Chinese was in fact developed for the purpose of controlling everyone by Mr. Brzezinski, DARPA and the American secret services but since it is technology, it can and has been shared everywhere.

In fact, I should like to know whether there is any secret service anywhere that has not been compiling dossiers on anyone they could since 2001 at the latest. And in fact I do not know it (nobody does, it seems, except some of the secret spies that keep their knowledge wholly to themselves) and so I must guess.

Well, my guess - alas, alas, alas - that I am correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

China leaned heavily on major internet companies when Guo Wengui, a Chinese tycoon in self-imposed exile, went on Facebook and YouTube to accuse a number of Chinese officials of corruption. Chinese officials last year complained to Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook, according to people familiar with the events who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Facebook suspended Mr. Guo’s account.

And there you have it: Of course Fuckbook will do everything it can to also get over 1 billion Chinese as clients, and indeed it may well succeed. This is a recommended article.


2. Are You Listening, America?

This article is by Scott Ritter on Truthdig. This is from near the beginning:

On Thursday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s much-maligned president, delivered his state of the nation address to the Russian Federal Assembly (the Russian national Legislature, consisting of the State Duma, or lower house, and the Russian Council, or upper house). While the first half of his speech dealt with Russian domestic issues—and any American who has bought into Western media perceptions that Russia is a collapsing state, possessing a failed economy, would do well to read this portion of the speech—it was the second half of the presentation that caused the world to sit up and listen.

In this portion of the speech, Putin outlined developments in Russian strategic military capability. The developments collectively signal the obsolescence of America’s strategic nuclear deterrence, both in terms of its present capabilities and—taking into account the $1.2 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program President Trump unveiled earlier this year—anything America might pursue in the decades to come.

Some Western observers have derided Putin’s speech as simple posturing, a manic effort to project Russian power, and with it global credibility, where none exists. Such an interpretation would be incorrect. There should be no doubt among American politicians, military leaders and citizens alike. “Every word has a meaning,” Putin told his audience. The weapons he referred to are real, and Putin meant every word he said.

In fact I considered the possibility that Putin may be lying yesterday and then rejected it for what I think are plausible reasons (which are the best I can get, indeed like most people).

Here is more by Putin:

“We ourselves are to blame,” Putin said. “All these years, the entire 15 years since the withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we have consistently tried to reengage the American side in serious discussions, in reaching agreements in the sphere of strategic stability.” However, Putin observed, the United States “is permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas. If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential. Meaning that all of our missiles could simply be intercepted.”
I think that is correct. And this is about the main addressee of Putin:
This was a message delivered not just to the Russian Federal Assembly, but to the White House and its temperamental occupant, President Donald Trump, to the halls of Congress, where Russia-baiting has become a full-time occupation, and to the American people, who have been caught up in a wave of anti-Russia hysteria fueled by fantastical claims of a Russian “attack” on American democracy which, when balanced against the potential of thermonuclear annihilation, pales into insignificance.
And I think I should remind you that since 1992 Russia is no longer a socialist country, but is these days as capitalist as the USA - which makes much of the anger that is projected by the Americans look fairly strange at the very least.

There is considerably more that I skip. The article ends as follows:

“We are greatly concerned by certain provisions of the revised nuclear posture review,” Putin said, “which expand the opportunities for reducing and reduce the threshold for the use of nuclear arms. Behind closed doors, one may say anything to calm down anyone, but we read what is written. And what is written is that this strategy can be put into action in response to conventional arms attacks and even to a cyber threat.”
Yes indeed - and a nuclear strategy that "can be put into action in response to conventional arms attacks and even to a cyber threat" is both extremely dangerous and utterly mistaken. And this is a recommended article.

3. Trump's Presidency Is Neither Normal Nor Acceptable

This article is by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The ceaseless barrage of news—both real and fake—from the Trump administration can be numbing, so it’s important to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture: Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.

None of what’s happening is normal and none of it should be acceptable. Life is imitating art: What we have is less a presidency than a cheesy reality show, set in a great stately house, with made-for-television histrionics, constant backstabbing and major characters periodically getting booted out.

I agree with Robinson that - at least - little of what’s happening is normal and little of it should be acceptable.

Here is more (and the allegations against Rob Porter are that he beat up his wives):

Porter’s job involved controlling the flow of paperwork, some of it classified and extremely sensitive, to the president. Because of those abuse allegations, however, he couldn’t get a permanent top-secret security clearance. That was bad enough, but later we learned that dozens of White House officials, perhaps 100 or more, were working with only interim clearances, not permanent ones. Their access to secret information was cut off by Chief of Staff John Kelly—but only after all of this had become public.

Among those now with limited access is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose heavily indebted real estate empire and grudging disclosure of his many foreign contacts worried FBI investigators. Kushner is a senior adviser to the president whose many assignments include forging peace in the Middle East—but who now is not cleared for documents or meetings that discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East or anywhere else. So why is he still there?

Why was he there in the first place? Because of Trump’s appalling nepotism.

I think that is quite correct. That is, without "Trump’s appalling nepotism" neither Jared Kushner nor his wife Ivanka would play any role in the White House.

Here is some more about Ivanka:

Trump also brought his daughter Ivanka into the White House as an adviser. What does she do? What qualifies her to do it? In a real administration, conservative or liberal, Jared’s office and Ivanka’s office would be occupied by experienced professionals who actually know something about diplomacy or administration or some government function.

According to The New York Times, Kushner set up White House meetings for two business executives whose private equity firm and bank later made loans to the Kushner Companies real estate firm totaling more than $500 million. Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” was a cruel joke. He has expanded it into a vast protected wetland, to be enjoyed by friends and family.

I think this is also quite correct. The article ends as follows:

I spent years as a foreign correspondent in Latin America. To say we are being governed like a banana republic is an insult to banana republics. It’s that bad, and no one should pretend otherwise.

And I think that is probably also correct. This is a recommended article.


4. Who Would Want to Work for President Trump Anyway?

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:
[W]e're over a year into the Trump presidency and it's only getting more chaotic. There's a desperate quality to it that hasn't been there before and people are beginning to wonder if the administration is even minimally functional.

An astounding number of people have now left — a nearly 34 percent turnover rate in the first year. It's unknown how many people have left the government since Trump took over, but the number is also quite likely high. And that's not even counting the number of vacancies that Trump and the Republicans just aren't bothering to fill in the first place.

I think this is all correct. Here is some on one of the last to leave Trump's government:

Hicks isn't the only staffer to announce her resignation this week. According to BuzzFeed News, there are many more who are unhappy. And Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's personal spokesman Josh Raffel also put in his papers. Who knows what he's been dragged into with the ongoing revelations of conflicts of interest and corruption by his bosses?

After all, this week we also learned that Kushner's top secret clearance had been downgraded to the point where most experts insist that he can no longer do the job he was supposedly hired to do.
Yes indeed - and the only "hope" I can offer is that I think Jared Kushner was not competent to do the tasks his father in law assigned to him well or at all to start with.

Here is the ending of this article:

Trump and his White House are unraveling. The chaos and corruption are getting worse and there's no end in sight. On Thursday, after an embarrassing lack of preparation or planning, and against the advice of his economic team, Trump announced that he's going to slap big tariffs on steel and aluminum, sending the stock market into a steep nosedive. Apparently his top economic adviser Gary Cohn has said he will resign if this goes into effect.

So the exodus will not be ending any time soon. And nobody knows who they can find to replace all these people. What competent person would want to put on their resume that they worked for President Donald Trump?

I think this is too optimistic: Perhaps the White House is unraveling, and quite possibly the "corruption are getting worse", but I do not see an end in sight. And I also think Trump has to be removed to make him disappear, but he still controls all of Congress, so I do not see this happen till after he has lost the November elections (which it is still possible he may not loose).

5. Putin Claims Strategic Parity, Respect

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State-of-the-Nation speech Thursday represents a liminal event in the East-West strategic balance — and an ominous one.

That the strategic equation is precarious today comes through clearly in Putin’s words. The U.S. and Russia have walked backwards over the threshold of sanity first crossed in the right direction by their predecessors in 1972 with the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Amid the “balance of terror” that reigned pre-1972, sensible statesmen on both sides concluded and implemented the ABM treaty which, in effect, guaranteed “mutual assured destruction” — the (altogether fitting) acronym was MAD — if either side attempted a nuclear attack on the other. MAD might not sound much better than “balance of terror,” but the ABM treaty introduced a significant degree of stability for 30 years.

I think this is probably correct - and if you want to get a good schooling on the MAD strategy, and indeed get to see one of the best films ever made, you should try to see Dr Strangelove  (which is from 1964).

And indeed the ABM treaty was left some 15 years ago by the USA, even though by that time Russia was capitalist and not socialist anymore.

Here is some more:

In his speech on March 1, President Putin included an accurate tutorial on what happened after three decades, noting that Moscow was “categorically against” the U.S. decision in 2002 to withdraw from the ABM treaty. He described the treaty as “the cornerstone of the international security system.”
(..)

The Russian President explained: “The ABM treaty not only created an atmosphere of trust, but also prevented either party from recklessly using nuclear weapons … because the limited number of ballistic missile defense systems made the potential aggressor vulnerable to a response strike.”

Putin was saying, in effect, that no matter how bad — even mad — the MAD concept may seem, it played a huge stabilizing role. He added that the U.S. rejected all Russian proposals toward constructive dialogue on the post-ABM treaty situation, and grossly underestimated Russia’s ability to respond. The Russian President then gave chapter and verse, cum video clips, on an array of new Russian weaponry which, he claimed, rendered missile defense systems “useless.” The show-and-tell segment of Putin’s speech has been widely reported.

Yes indeed - and I have considered in item 2 whether Putin's warnings are credible, and have concluded they probably are.

Here is more by Ray McGovern:

It is to be hoped that the Marine generals running U.S. defense policy, rather than calling Putin’s bluff, will now encourage President Donald Trump to take up Putin’s latest offer to “sit down at the negotiating table” and “work together … to ensure global security” — taking into account that “strategic parity” is now a reality.

Yes indeed. And this is about the nuclear madness that reigned in the USA in Reagan's time:

Ever since President Ronald Reagan was sold on the notion that a “Star Wars” ABM system could provide the U.S. with complete protection from missile attack, exceptional opportunities to restrain — or even put an end to — the nuclear arms race have been squandered.  Victory has gone to the arms profiteers — those whom Pope Francis described to Congress as the “blood drenched arms merchants.”

I quite agree. This article ends as follows:

By all appearances, President Putin is as interested in stemming the strategic arms race as was Gorbachev. On Thursday, Putin talked about this particular moment being liminal — he called it “a turning point for the entire world.”  Will there be anyone in Washington at the other end of the phone, if Moscow calls?  If, in effect, the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media complex answers, ABM developers will continue to fatten their purses and squander our children’s future.

It may be time to recall the admonition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a speech he gave 65 years ago:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. … This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

‘Nuff said.

And I quite agree, although I am also cynical enough to add that the most likely outcome is that "ABM developers will continue to fatten their purses and squander our children’s future" - that is if a nuclear was is avoided. This is a strongly recommended article.


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 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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