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Tech Giants Are Destroying Privacy, Producing Inequality and Undermining Democracy

Posted on Apr 18, 2017
By Don Hazen / AlterNet
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Most of us are active on Facebook, use many of Google's assets (search, YouTube, calendar) and get Amazon products dropped at our doorsteps. But have we ever stopped to think about the enormous impact these three companies have had on our lives and our society?
Well, Jonathan Taplin has given it a lot of thought. The result is a breakthrough, must-read book, Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. The book tells the tale of how the internet "was hijacked by a small group of right-wing radicals [led by Trump supporter Peter Thiel] for whom the ideas of democracy and decentralization were an anathema."
The upshot is that the dominant philosophy of Silicon Valley became heavily based on the radical libertarian ideology of Ayn Rand. The internet is not the product of any mythical cooperative notion as the public may think, shaped by the pervasive, effectively marketed illusion of goodness symbolized by Google's tagline: "Don't Be Evil" (changed to "Do the Right Thing" in 2015 in Google's code of conduct).
The result: "Not since Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan has there been such a concentration of wealth and power" in the hands of so few, according to Taplin's book. "And the enormous unprecedented fortunes created by the digital revolution have done much to increase inequality in America."
The five largest firms in the world (based upon market valuation) are Apple, Google (now known as Alphabet), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. In terms of their monopoly power, Google has an 88 percent market share in search and search advertising. Google's Android operating system has an 80 percent global market share in its category. Amazon has a 70 percent market share in ebooks, and 51 percent of goods purchased online are from Amazon. Facebook has a 77 percent share on mobile social media. Google and Facebook have more than one billion customers, and Amazon has 350 million.As their "relentless pursuit of efficiency leads these companies to treat all media as commodity," according to Taplin, "the real value lies in the gigabytes of personal data scraped from your profile as you pursue the latest music video, news article or listicle."
The value amassed from their methods is enormous. Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are in the top 10 of the wealthiest people in America, according to the Forbes 400 list. Each has a personal fortune worth over $37 billion, with Bezos recently becoming the second wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $75.6 billion.
Jonathan Taplin is an insider/outsider in the music, film and tech businesses. His career stretches from his college days as a roadie and tour manager for The Band and Bob Dylan, to a collaborator and producer of music, film and TV for 30 years, working with Martin Scorsese, among others. He started his own tech business only to run up against many of the realities he describes in his book. He has been a longtime professor and is currently director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California.
Taplin's book is a tour de forcea compelling, story-driven work focusing on the handful of men who have shaped and essentially taken over the massive tech industry. Along the way, Taplin tells his own personal story with charm and insight. If you want to understand what has happened to our country and where tech will take us in the era of Trump, put aside some time to read this book. It will take your breath away.
Taplin and I spoke by phone in early April.
Don Hazen: Do you agree with me that your story about the dominance of antidemocratic, monopoly-oriented, radical libertarianism values of the titans of technology is not well known? And if so, why?
Jonathan Taplan: I totally agree it's not well known. The reason is because the tech barons, who are the new robber barons, have done a PR job on America that has been very successful… The strange thing is that the one guy who was not a libertarian, Steve Jobs, probably did more to raise the halo effect of tech than anybody.
He is the one guy whose company respected copyright. In a regular speech I give, I point out that a musician who got a million downloads of one song on iTunes would make $900,000; and if they got a million downloads on YouTube (owned by Google) they'd make $900.
DH: Wow, that's really depressing. Another aspect could be that most of us use Google and Facebook all the time. We want these companies to be benign in our lives, right? We don't want to deal with the fact that they are both destructive and convenient.
JT: Well, it seems like it has no cost, but that of course isn't true. It has many costs. Obviously, fake news could not exist without Google and Facebook. A kid in Macedonia with a Facebook page and a Google AdSense account could make $10,000 a week just putting out phony stuff.
That could never happen if you didn't have these open platforms. Also, we all pay more because advertisers have to pay a premium to buy ads on Facebook and Google, because they're what they call micro-targeted. An advertiser says, "I want women in the Nashville metro area who drink bourbon and drive trucks," and Facebook can do that.
DH: We can even do that at AlterNetwe call it geo-targeting. We're a progressive nonprofit that's dependent on Google for close to half of our revenue.
JT: Yeah. Well, there's no place else to go.
DH: That's the definition of a monopoly, right?
JT: Yep.
DH: You say the real value in these companies and their profits lies in the gigabytes of personal data scraped from profiles as you pursue the latest music video, news article, etc. Can you say more about that? Are we fundamentally all being victimized? What are the ramifications?
JT: They are essentially monetizing your life, your desires, your dreams, whatever, and you're not really getting any advantage for that monetization; they are. Certainly the people who make the content, whether it's AlterNet or most other content makers, are not getting much advantage considering the size of your audience… You are on the bottom end of the food chain in terms of where the advertising dollars flow.
For most it feels like, Oh, well, I'm just exchanging all in my life in return for convenience. That isn't to say you couldn't have convenience if there were more players in the marketplace. There's nothing implicit about having one social network and one search engine.
DH: Peter Thiel is the chief villain of your book. He is a very powerful Silicon Valley radical libertarian, who started PayPal, is on the board of Facebook, and is a mentor and funder of what is sometimes called the PayPal mafiamany who have gone on to start other big successes like LinkedIn. Some of what he says is pretty scary, like: "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." What's the path forward for Peter Thiel? Is his influence growing?
JT: His influence since I wrote the book has grown immensely, because he's Jared Kushner's best friend and he's inside the White House and Donald Trump is holding his hand. He has extraordinary power in the White House in terms of determining technology policy. In fact, there's even some rumors that Trump's second Supreme Court appointment would be Peter Thiel.
DH: Oh my god, I didn't hear that. Kushner has always been a moderate Democrat. How does he become so simpatico with somebody like Thiel, who is so right wing?
JT: Here's the deal. These people in Silicon Valley have been able to put a Svengali move on the Democrats just as much as they put on the Republicans. Obama was under the spell of Google more than anybody I know about. Eric Schmidt [executive chairman of Alphabet] visited the White House by a factor of five more than any other CEO, and that's just the official stuff that was written down at the White House gate.
DH: You mention the fact that Sean Parker, Larry Page and I think Thiel all went to the secret meeting of Republicans too, so they've got all the bases covered at Google?
JT: They don't have any political affiliation whatsoever. They may pretend that they're liberals, but they're perfectly happy to be conservatives. In fact, one of the stories I tell in the book is that when the conservatives and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh were pounding on Facebook that their trending topics thing was being slanted against conservative media because the kids who were running it, who were the curators, were too liberal, Zuckerberg said, "Okay, well, I'm getting rid of the kids." He fired them all and he just let the algorithm determine what got into trending topics.
Which was exactly what Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica wanted, because then they could play the algorithm with their armies of bots that they deployed, and completely push anything up trending topics that they wanted to.
DH: Further on in the book, you give Zuckerberg a bit of an optimistic pass in terms of hoping or thinking that he really cares about the four billion people who are not on the internet. He's not at the same level as Page and Thiel and Parker?
JT: I don't know. I probably would say that Bill Gates' wife, Melinda, had more to do with him changing his life than anything. My sense is that Zuckerberg's wife [Priscilla Chan] is a deeply committed humanist. She was a teacher, and I think like any of these guys, there's probably a little bit of a battle for his soul. The very fact that she convinced him to give away 99 percent of their Facebook stock to a charity, even though it's kind of a weird charity organization that he controls, is something.
It's certainly not what Larry Page or Peter Thiel are doing. They're giving money to organizations so they can live to 150 years old.
DH: We're going to save that part until the end, because going to Mars and living forever is a whole final question about what makes these guys tick. Before we get there, let's go backwards to Ayn Rand. When we were in college, these were crackpot theories, and we always thought they were books that kids read in high school or maybe as sophomores in college, and then we all grew up. Peter Thiel, who is apparently one of the smartest guys in the world, seems to worship the Ayn Rand narrative. What is that about?
JT: You know, it mystifies me so much. Paul Ryan and Donald Trump have both cited Ayn Rand as major influences on their life. My guess is it appeals to a certain kind of man who believes that he is better than most people, and he's not appreciated.
If you look at those Ayn Rand heroes, they always thought that the average citizen was a total dunce, and that democracy wasn't a good idea, and that really things had to be run by men of iron will who had no sense of responsibility for other people, just for themselves. They were the kind of people [who would ask], the line that she used is, "Who will stop me?" It's that kind of pushing, that "I'm going to just forge ahead," and it's the will of the power. Like all that stuff we studied about Nietzsche in Princeton probably.
DH: Thiel also said he was for Trump because he would discipline the unthinking demos, the democratic public that constrains capitalism. That's pretty scary as well. Do we think Trump understands that?
JT: Well, look, I think that they believe capitalism works best when there's no rules, and they tend to think that the people who want to try and make rules for capitalism don't understand it, and so they're going to just screw it up. What Trump is doing right now is trying to get rid of every regulation, whether it's environmental or internet privacy or anything you can imagine. He just wants to get rid of all these regulations, because he wants Verizon or Google or Exxon or Koch Industries to be able to just do whatever they want to do and not worry about regulation.
Of course, I think that's what leads to things like the financial crisis in 2008, when the banks had no regulation and they just went crazy.
DH: Speaking of deregulation, you write about a New York Times article on a World Bank report that says internet innovation stands to widen inequality, and even hasten the hollowing out of the middle class. How does this happen?
JT: Well, first place, tech delivers extraordinary monetary returns to a very small group of people. The biggest tech company is employing 20,000-30,000 people, compared to, say, an auto company or General Electric that employs hundreds of thousands. That's the first thing.
Secondly, it delivers returns to the highest level of those executives of those companies on such a level that Zuckerberg is worth $58.6 billion (fifth richest person in the world), that Bezos is worth $80 billion. In other words, if you're at the top, your wealth is so great that it inevitably leads to inequality, because what tech does also obviously is eliminate a lot of working-class jobs. The better Elon Musk gets at making his cars, the fewer people he has to hire. He lets the robots do it.
DH: Apparently, according to Capital and Main, the workers at Tesla are not very happy either.
JT: I bet they aren't.
DH: It was lovely to read in your book about The Band, Bob Dylan, Music from Big Pink and Woodstock, the story of your early days of rock n' roll, when you began to understand how this digital music system worked. It's a sad story, because it ends up with Levon Helm, a member of The Band, dying of throat cancer and not being able to make any money because he couldn't go on the road. Performers didn't really have anyone protecting them like writers who had ASCAP and BMI.
Of course, behind this is Sean Parker, the king of digital destruction. Can you juxtapose for a moment Sean Parker and Levon Helm and what happened?
JT: Right. Sean Parker was kind of a bratty kid who got into trouble for doing hacking, and while he was on probation, he met another guy who was named Shawn Fanning, and they invented Napster. Their thought was, Well, look at all these tunes [that] are digital now that the CD is out, and what we need to do is build this service that allows anybody to share their music with anybody else for free; what we need to do is just index it.
That's what they did. Of course, not being musicians, at first they had no idea that it would destroy the music business. And when they fairly quickly got the idea that it was destroying the music business, they didn't give a f**k. What they cared for was to build this business, which they did to about 70 million users in two years. Once people got a taste of getting music for free, then that made it seem like all music should be free.
Same thing happened in the newspaper business. Once people got a little free news, then why should they pay for news? Why should I buy a newspaper? Newspaper revenues and music revenues plunged by 70 percent from the year 2001 until 2015. That's just extraordinary, the business cut by two-thirds. I think that what happened is obviously Levon could no longer make a living off of the music, even though if you went to YouTube, the number of plays of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" was in the millions; but he wasn't getting any money from that.
That's the sad story, and it's not just Levon. There's thousands of musicians. T-Bone Burnett and I do a talk every once in a while, and we run into just hundreds of musicians who can't make a living anymore.
DH: What does it mean, what you describe as the surveillance marketing business? You say that both Facebook and Google are in this business now.
JT: Their main business is what I've begun to call surveillance capitalism. Basically, it's a new kind of capitalism, which means that the greatest value that I hold is the amount of data that I have been able to sweep up from every possible realm on you, Don Hazen. I'm going to get it from your mobile phone, from your shopping online, from your location, from in your home if you have an Amazon Alexa, with the microphone on. I'm going to vacuum it up from there. I'm going to basically look for more places where I can grab your data.
The key to doing that of course is to get you to go on my services, whether it's YouTube or search or on Facebook, and stay there as long as possible, and the more you stay there, the more data I'm grabbing from you. Now, I take that data, and I sell it back to advertisers in a way of being able to target a very narrow page of just who I want to get to. And it is not just companies that do that. Politicians, as we saw in the past election, can do that just as easily. If you want to suppress the vote among young black men in Detroit, it's very easy to just send to them a piece of content that says, "Hillary Clinton says all young black men are predators." You can be assured that that will be somewhat successful.
DH: How did the $84 billion Koch brothers get into your book about tech monopolies?
JT: Because they provided, through ALEC and the other organizations that they finance, the underlying power in Washington, D.C., to make sure that companies don't get regulated. If you think about some of the problems that Trump is having now, these guys thought that the Republican health care bill was too much regulation in it, and so they offered basically a bounty to any of the Freedom Caucus who would vote against it.
They said, "We'll put up to $2 million in ad money for your campaign if Trump comes after you." Basically, these people have so much money, they're just… basically the Peter Thiels and Larry Pages have just kind of surfed behind their propaganda, which says the market is always right, and the government is always wrong. When the government tried to do a few things to regulate Google, they come down on the government like a ton of bricks. Why do you think this internet privacy law was passed so quickly? Because the Koch brothers said it was fine.
DH: This question has to do with what you mentioned earlier about outsized imaginations. Musk is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to go to Mars, and Page and Thiel are investing as many millions to extend their lives. What does this tell us about these guys?
JT: It just seems so bizarre to me that we haven't solved malaria or typhoid or cholera, and these guys are spending millions of dollars so they personally can live to be 200 years old. Now, to my mind the whole idea is insane because I would imagine by the time you were 130, you had spent four or five million to extend your lifebecause it'll be expensive, and only the rich will be able to afford ityou'd be so afraid to come out of your house because you might get hit by a car and your whole $5 million investment would go down the tubes. It would seem to me you'd become a prisoner of your own longevity. I don't know, but the whole thing is so screwy to me.
Elon Musk, at this conference that I went to that Vanity Fair put on, literally said, "We should set off a nuclear bomb on Mars, and it would melt the ice, and then we could grow vegetables to feed the colonies."
DH: That's wild. Really crazy. All right, anything else I should be asking you?
JT: I think you've covered it, man. I'm pleased that you liked the book.
DH: There is so much shocking and sobering information in your book that it should be required reading for everyone who wants to understand how we have arrived at this point in history, and the connections between tech monopoly, inequality and even Trump's election.
JT: Sean Wilentz, a Princeton professor friend who runs the history department there, said, "Tap, you're the new muckraker." I said, "Well, that's kind of cool." Because in a sense, 100 years ago we had to face this same problem with Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan and the railroads. We've been here before. The 1912 election between Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt was run on [the question:] what do we do about monopolies? That was the main issue.
DH: Yes, but it is more difficult now because there's no split in the ruling class. Obama was just as tight with Google as the Republicans, or more so. It was easier to scapegoat the railroads or Rockefeller and Standard Oil than it is to do the same thing to the guys wearing hoodies and sneakers, and saying, "We do no evil."
JT: I know. I know. I will tell you, Don, that I think the dialogue is beginning to change. I was at a Chicago conference last week on monopoly, and it was at the Chicago School of Business, which is the most conservative, where Milton Friedman dominated. By the end of the conference even the old-fashioned Friedmanites were saying, "This surveillance capitalism is different, and we may have to rethink what we thought about regulation and monopoly." I think something's changing.
DH: The challenge is that many of us just don't want to hear the reality about these companies because it makes our lives more uncomfortable, more challenging. Because we shouldn't be doing half the stuff we're doing, it's just easier. We hang out on Facebook, give our information to Google, don't take our money out of Merrill Lynch, Chase or Citibank. And often we don't support local businessjust have Amazon delivering those packages, helping make Bezos a gazillionaire, because it is easier to do. Anyway, congratulations on the book. I hope it is a big success.

Trump Rejects Calls for Transparency, Vowing to Keep Tax Returns & White House Visitor Logs Secret

Peter Lemkin Wrote:Trump Rejects Calls for Transparency, Vowing to Keep Tax Returns & White House Visitor Logs Secret

They will just get leaked sooner or later. :Clown:
As Vice President Mike Pence railed against ISIS-linked terrorism Thursday, we speak with longtime investigative journalist Allan Nairn about his shocking new exposé that reveals backers of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in an attempt to oust Indonesia's president. Writing in The Intercept, Nairn reveals that Indonesians involved in the coup attempt include a corporate lawyer working for the mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which is controlled by Trump adviser Carl Icahn. Video has even emerged showing the lawyer at a ceremony where men are swearing allegiance to ISIS. According to Nairn, two of the other most prominent supporters of the coup are close associates of Donald TrumpFadli Zon, vice speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, and Hary Tanoe, Trump's primary Indonesian business partner, who is building two Trump resorts, one in Bali and one outside Jakarta. Nairn's article is making waves in Indonesia.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. Vice President Mike Pence visited the largest mosque in Southeast Asia Thursday during a trip to Indonesia. A day earlier, he addressed reporters at a press conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The United States is also proud to be one of Indonesia's oldest and most engaged defense partners. And under President Trump, we are firmly committed to continuing to collaborate on the security of both of our peoples. A stronger defense partnership will serve us well as we confront the various security threats and challenges that we now face. And, of course, one of the greatest threats we face is the rise and spread of terrorism. Sadly, Indonesia is no stranger to this evil, nor is the United States of America, as the president and I discussed. The world watched with heartbreak in January of last year when ISIS-linked terrorists struck in central Jakarta in a barbaric suicide bombing. Our hearts broke for your people. This vile attack claimed the lives of five innocents, injured more than two dozen others. What I can assure you and the people of Indonesia is that you had the condolences and the prayers of the American people as you confronted this tragedy.
AMY GOODMAN: While Vice President Mike Pence railed against ISIS-linked terrorism, a shocking new exposé by longtime investigative journalist Allan Nairn has revealed backers of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in an attempt to oust Indonesia's democratically elected president. Writing in The Intercept, Nairn reveals Indonesians involved in the coup attempt include a corporate lawyer working for the mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which is controlled by Trump adviser Carl Icahn. Video has even emerged showing the lawyer at a ceremony where men are swearing allegiance to ISIS. According to Allan Nairn, two of the other most prominent supporters of the coup are close associates of Donald Trump: Fadli Zon, the vice speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, and Hary Tanoe, Trump's primary Indonesian business partner, who's building two Trump resorts, one in Bali and one outside Jakarta. Nairn's article is making waves in Indonesia. The Indonesian military is threatening legal action against the news portal, after it published a partial translation of the article and ran a profile about Allan Nairn. In response, Nairn tweeted a message to the Indonesian military, saying, quote, "Dear TNI: If you want to threaten brave Indonesian reporters and publishers, please threaten me too," unquote.
Well, I recently sat down with Allan Nairn in our Democracy Now! studio and asked him to outline what he's uncovered.
ALLAN NAIRN: Indonesia is in the midst of a political crisis, in that there is an attempt to stage what people on both sides of the conflict call the coup. And this is a de facto, or even direct, coup against the elected president, the elected government of Indonesia, which is headed by President Joko Widodo, Jokowi. Jokowi was the first person from outside the political elite who ever was elected president. He'son certain issues, in certain respects, he's a bit of a reformist. He got elected, in an important part because he speaks the language of the poor, and people relate to him. He has been pushing social programs on health and education. But, especially in recent months, his government has been fighting for survival. Those backing this coup project include the top generals in the country, who are seeking to escape any whisper of accountability for their past mass murdersmass murders that have been supported by the U.S.and for their ongoing atrocities in West Papua, also the friends and business partners and political associates of Donald Trump. The local Trump people in Indonesia, including his top political backer, the politician Fadli Zon, including his local business partner, Hary Tanoe, and others, have been funding and backing this coup movement.
The instrument they have been using is awhat purports to be a radical Islamist street movement, which has been staging massive demonstrations on the streets of Jakarta, demonstrations drawing out hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people. And their hook is what they claimed to be a religious issue, where they are attacking and demanding the death by hanging of the incumbent governor of Jakarta, who happens to be an ethnic Chinese Christian who is currently standing trial for insulting religion, for insulting Islam. And he could actually be sent to prison. And he's also currently standing for re-election. But this Islamist street movement is, in a sense, a front for the real powers, the real interests, which are trying to use the demonstrations and the attacks on Governor Ahokthat's his name, Ahokto bring down the government of President Jokowi. I know this because for much of the past year I've been talking to people within the Jokowi government and also people within the coup movement, and they've been describing what's happening as itas it goes along. The group that they are using to front the street demonstrations is called the FPI. The FPI is what are known in Indonesia as preman, street thugs. They were created by the Indonesian army and police shortly after the fall of Suharto, in order to do killings
AMY GOODMAN: U.S.-backed dictator.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yesin order to do repression and, when needed, killings on behalf of the army, without the army having to take responsibility for it. And they would do it under the banner of radical Islam, kind of diverting attention from the fact of army and police sponsorship behind it. This group, the FPI, has been implicated in attacks on mosquesthey frequently attack Islamic religious denominations that they do not agree withattacks on churches and murders, one of which, in spectacular fashion, was videotaped, and their mob is seen beating and kicking to death a man who's lying face down in the mud. They openly call for the hanging and murder of various politicians who displease them. They live day to day byin addition to the funds they get from the army and the police, by extortion. They claim to be religiously compliant, but one of their key tactics over the years has been to go into strip clubs, go into bars; if the owners haven't been giving their weekly payoff to the FPI in a timely fashion, breaking the place up with heavy sticks, then taking the liquor and drinking it or reselling it. I mean, this is famous on the streets of Jakarta. Everybody knows about this. Another of their big activities has been evicting the poor. They would be rented out to army, police, rich developers, landlords, in order to violently evict poor people so that their homes could be demolished and used for other purposes.
The group also happens to be listed by Western intelligence, including ASIO, the Australian intelligence service, as a violent extremist organizationa term they use for "terrorist." And this happens to be one of the cases where their characterization of a movement as violent and extremist is accurate. This group FPI also has numerous connections to ISIS. The leader of the FPI militia is a lawyer who is a corporate lawyer for Freeport-McMoRan, the giant U.S. mining corporation that is controlled by Carl Icahn, Donald Trump's good friend and White House deregulation adviser. This lawyerhis name is Munarmanhe represents a local corporate front for Freeport. And he is there presiding over the militia, asthe FPI militia, as they commit violence, and standing next to the FPI leaders as they call for the death by hanging of Jakarta's governors. This lawyer for Carl Icahn's Freeport was videotaped not long ago at an ISIS swear-in ceremony, where he was one of two people presiding as a group full of young men pledged allegiance toswore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. The program of massive street demonstrations, aimed at ultimately bringing down the Jokowi elected government, has been endorsed by Indonesians who have gone to Syria and joined up as ISIS fighters, as they describe themselves, etc.
This is the group which is being used by the U.S.-trained Indonesian generals and being backed by Donald Trump's key Indonesian business partner, Donald Trump's key Indonesian political backer and the lawyer for Carl Icahn's Freeport-McMoRan. Maybe it was about a year ago, we did a short segment on Democracy Now! regarding the fact that one of these figures, Fadli Zon, the politician who was involved in this coup movement, he appeared at Trump Tower along with Donald Trump. This was shortly after Trump launched his presidential campaign. He launched his campaign by attacking Mexicans as rapists, and he got some heat for that. And one of the things Trump did, apparently, was to say to his people, "Get me some foreigners." One of the foreigners they got him was this Indonesian politician, Fadli Zon. He appeared at the press conference with Donald Trump. For doing so, he was fiercely attacked by the grand imam of the Indonesian mosque here in New York Citya very courageous act, by the way, by that imam, given the fact that Fadli Zon is not just a politician but is also the right-hand man of General Prabowo. Prabowo is the most notorious mass-killing general in Indonesia. He was also the general who was the closest protégé of the U.S. Pentagon and intelligence during his military career. So, Fadli Zon was attacked by
AMY GOODMAN: And Prabowo was instrumental in East Timor.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. He did massacres in Timor and many other places. But now, it is his right-hand man, Fadli Zon, who was appearing with Trump at Trump Tower, helping in thethe initial stages of launching the campaign, and who is now one of the main supporters of this movement, which has as its final goal the toppling of Indonesia's democratically elected president. And among the generalsand this is in a piece that I've been working on, and maybe by the time this airs the piece will have already been releasedthat have been complicit, in one degree or another, in this movement, include General Prabowo; General Wiranto, who is currently still under indictment for war crimes in Timor; General Gatot, who is currently the commander of the Indonesian armed forces.
AMY GOODMAN: We'll be back with investigative journalist Allan Nairn in 30 seconds.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who has just published a shocking exposé at The Intercept revealing backers of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in an attempt to oust Indonesia's president. I asked Allan Nairn to talk more about Trump's connection to Fadli Zon, the Indonesian politician who was seen with Trump at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, after Fadli Zon returned to Indonesia, as I mentioned, he was fiercely and very courageously attacked by the grand imam of the Indonesian mosque here in New York City. And then he was also attacked by his colleagues in the Indonesian congress. Fadli was and is the number two person in the Indonesian congress. And they tried to censure him for appearing with Donald Trump, on the grounds that it was unethical. And as the imam had pointed out, the thing that Trump is famous for in New Yorkin U.S. politics is being a racist and being anti-Islam. And this was especially sharp and ironic, because Prabowo and Fadli Zon have used as their main political tactic attacking any of their opponents on the grounds that their opponents are, one, anti-Islam, not as Islamic as they are, and, two, tools of foreigners. Prabowo, of course, as he had told me in our extensive discussion, himself was the mostthe closest partner of U.S. intelligence in Indonesia when he was helping to run the mass-murdering Suharto military. He worked for the DIA, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. But in the campaign, he was running as a phony nationalist.
So, after he returned to Indonesia, Fadli Zon was under pressure from the congress. He, in the end, escaped any serious censure. But he did not repudiate Donald Trump. He became Donald Trump's most vocal defender within Indonesian politics. And indeed, after the point in the campaign when Trump said that he was going to ban all Muslims from the United States, including in its first version, in its first iteration, ban even Muslims who were citizens of the U.S., even members of the U.S. military who happened to be overseas at that momenthe was going to ban them from returning home; he later had to modify and back off from thatafter Trump made his first outrageous call for the Muslim ban, Fadli Zon defended him in Indonesia. And he said, "Trump is not anti-Islam. Donald Trump is not anti-Islam. And just you wait and see. As soon as he becomes president, he's going to drop all that stuff, because that's only campaign rhetoric." So, in essence, Fadli Zon has been Donald Trump's political spokesman in Indonesia.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Allan Nairn, who is Hary Tanoe.
ALLAN NAIRN: Hary Tanoe is one of Trump's two business partners in Indonesia. They're working on a resort and some other projects. And there was recently a report within BIN, the Indonesian intelligence agency, which asserted that Hary Tanoe was covertly donating funds to the antithe coup involving the FPI and the generals. Hary Tanoe is a media magnate like Trump. They actually have a similar profile in business. He's in media, and he also sponsors beauty pageants. Tanoe's media stations have been, in a sense, propaganda wings of theof the coup, the street coup movement, to the extent to which they were actually admonished, officially admonished, by the Indonesian state broadcasting board, which is a veryusually a very weak, quiescent body. So these stations have been serving as kind of the propagandists for Trump. And the internal intelligence
ALLAN NAIRN: As propagandists for the coup movement. And the internal intelligence report, which I had access to, asserts that Tanoe was also going beyond that and directly contributing funds to the movement.
Now, the background to this is very important. The Indonesian military came to power in 1965 in a coup, where they ousted the country's founding father, Sukarno. They consolidated power with a massacre of anywhere from 400,000 to a million civilians. The massacre was enthusiastically backed by the U.S. The CIA gave them a list of 5,000 communists to start with. The U.S. press hailed it as, in the words of one New York Times column, "a gleam of light in Asia." The army installed General Suharto as the country's dictator. The Clinton White House, years later, described Suharto as "our kind of guy." President Ford and Henry Kissinger gavepersonally gave Suharto the green light to invade East Timor, which produced the most extensive proportional slaughter since the Nazis. The army implemented a regime which involved kind of a semi-religious glorification of the army and stigmatization of any kind of reformist element, which they would characterize as communist. And, when needed, or when they felt like it, over the years, they would stage additional massacres.
Then, in '98, partly as a result of the Asian financial crisis, triggered by banks, partly as a result of the amazing courage of activists who came out on the streets of Jakarta to demand the ouster of Suharto, partly as a result of the fact that the grassroots movement here in the U.S. had succeeded in cutting off most of the arms pipeline from the U.S. to Indonesia, which then constrained them, in the extent to which they were willing to open fire on those demonstrators, Suharto fell.
After Suharto came what is referred to as Reformasi, reform, which is still underway. The army is still the dominant number one power in Indonesia, but their power is much less than it used to be. The fact that Jakowi, the civilian who related to the poor, was able to defeat the mass-murdering U.S. protégé, General Prabowo, in the presidential election was a real watershed in Indonesian politics. A very courageous movement of survivors of army massacres and human rights activists in Indonesia has persisted for year after year after year, putting their own lives at risk and sometimes dying in the process, like in the case of Munir, the brilliant and heroic human rights activist and my friend, who was assassinated by arsenic poisoning in 2004. They have persisted with this movement to bring the generals to justice. And in past few years, they've succeeded in upping the pressure. They've made gains, to the point that some generals have started to worry about whether they might be brought to justice, or at least might be publicly humiliated by their crimes being acknowledged publicly and the survivors gaining some degree of public legitimacy. So, the generals, to a degree much more than I realized before I started talking to people about this coup movement, have become obsessed with the idea of staving off justice.
And what has happened with their sponsorship, the sponsorship of many generals of this coup movement, is that they've created a very elegant win-win strategy. If they succeed in toppling President Jokowi, then no worry about accountability. On the other hand, if they don't succeed, Jokowi will owe the generals who are supporting him, because although the bulk of the mass-murdering generals are affiliated in one way or another with the coup movement, there's another fraction who are backing Jokowi and helping him to fend off the coup movement, and are gettingexacting a de facto guarantee. "Hey, we're keeping you alive here. No prosecution, right? No public exposure of our crimes. No humiliation for the atrocities that we have committed." So, whichever way it turns out, in their mindand there's certainly reason to think that it's a not unreasonable expectation justice and accountability loseloses, and the army wins.
AMY GOODMAN: Is Jokowi aware of the Trump connections to the supporters of the coup movement?
ALLAN NAIRN: That's a good question. I don't know. I don't know when this will air, but as we are speaking, as this is being recorded, next week, on Wednesday, the Jakarta gubernatorial election is due to happen. That's when it will be decided whether the governor, who is the kind of pretext for this street movement, will be voted in or voted out as
AMY GOODMAN: This is April 19th.
ALLAN NAIRN: as governor. Yes. And the day after the scheduled gubernatorial election, Vice President Mike Pence is due to arrive in Indonesia for two days and to meet with President Jokowi. Now, one interesting aspect of this is: Where does the U.S. stand on all of this? Because, on the one hand, the U.S. has a longtime policy, in countries around the world, of backing the repressive armies and security forces, but, on the other hand, also backing elected presidentsas long as those elected presidents do not have a program that threatens U.S. corporate interests or the interests of the local rich or the fact that the U.S. is allowed to back the local army and security forces. Barring that, the U.S. is all for local elected presidents. So, in accord with that historic worldwide policy, the U.S. has, up to this momentas far as I know, up until at least recently, been backing Jokowi against the coup movement.
But it's Trump's local people who have been helping to push the coup movement. Now, I don't know whether this question has come to the attention of President Trump himself. It could come to his attention through his business partner, Hary Tanoe, through his main Indonesian political partner, Fadli Zon, through his other business partner, Setya Novanto, who is a famously corrupt politician, or it could come to his attention through Carl Icahn, who is close to Trump, is his deregulation adviser from the White House and who is the controlling shareholder of Freeport-McMoRan, the oil andthe mining giant of copper and gold which has been ravaging West Papua, taking their gold and copper, but whichand this is quite significantrecently has been under challenge from the Jokowi government. For years, Freeport-McMoRan has had a free ride in Indonesia. As long as they paid off General Suharto and his cronies, as long as they paid off the army, various bureaucrats, they were able to do whatever they want. They were able to just strip the mountains of West Papua, turn the rivers indescribable primary colors from their pollution, knock off their dissident workers when necessary. They were able to do anything. But now, just in the past year and a half or so, they have been under challenge from the Jokowi government, which is demanding a renegotiation of the contract between the Indonesian government and Freeport-McMoRan, and which has been restricting Freeport's copper exports. So this is creating a problem for Icahn, a serious economic problem for Carl Icahn. As this conflict between the Jokowi government and Icahn's Freeport has been going on, the local lawyer for Icahn's Freeport has been helping to lead the coup movement to oustto oust Jokowi.
Now, I don't know how much Trump knows about this, but I know there's some question among some officials in Indonesia as to, in the end, which side will the U.S. come downcome down on. Will it continue the traditional U.S. policy of wanting to keep an elected president in for kind of stability purposes and front purposes, or might it align with Trump's personal and business connections on the other side, who are backing the coup?
March for Science puts Earth Day focus on global opposition to Trump

Quote:video of all the speeches can be seen here

More than 600 marches held around the world, with organizers saying science under attack' from a White House that dismisses the threat of climate change

Oliver Milman in Washington DC
Saturday 22 April 2017 18.23 BSTFirst published on Saturday 22 April 201717.23 BST

Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists' increasingly precarious status with politicians.

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Bill Nye the Science Guy on Trump: 'We are in a dangerous place'

The main March for Science event was held in Washington DC, where organizers made plans for up to 150,000 people to flock to the national mall, although somewhat fewer than that figure braved the rain to attend. Marchers held a range of signs. Some attacked Donald Trump, depicting the president as an ostrich with his head in the sand or bearing the words: "What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything."
More than 600 marches took place around the world, on every continent bar Antarctica, in events that coincided with Earth Day.
The marches, the first of their kind, were officially non-political. They were however conceived by three US-based researchers Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman after Trump's inauguration. Organizers have said science is "under attack" from the Trump administration and many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university .
Trump released a statement that insisted his administration was committed to preserving the "awe-inspiring beauty" of America, while protecting jobs.
"Rigorous science is critical to my administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection," Trump said. "My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.
"As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate."
There's very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration
Michael Mann
The US marches were some of the last to take place, following hundreds across the world. A common theme among protesters was a worry that politicians have rejected science-based policies.
"I'm encouraged by the marches I've seen already taking place around the world," said Rush Holt, a former congressman and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "For generations scientists have been reluctant to be in the public square. There is a lot of concern."
Speakers in Washington included Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief and climate scientist Michael Mann. Hundreds of scientific institutions, environmental groups and union groups partnered with the march.
"There's very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration," Mann told the Guardian. "That being said, events like this will lift the spirits of scientists. They are finding a voice."
Pharmaceutical companies, concerned about the impact on research talent of Trump's attempts to ban or restrict travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, risked his wrath by supporting the march. In a video, Pfizer said it was "proud to stand behind our scientists".
Trump has galvanized scientists with his comments about climate change, which he has called a "hoax", as well as questions about whether vaccines are safe and threats to cut funding to universities that displease him.
The White House's recent budget proposal would remove around $7bn in science funding, with the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, bearing much of the pain. Earth sciences, ranging from weather satellites to marine research to coastal preservation, are also lined up for severe cuts.

Thousands rally around the world for March for Science'Climate change was at the heart of the March for Science, spurred on by dismissals of the issue by Trump and his top advisers. Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said climate research is a "waste of your money". Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has erroneously deniedthat carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming.

Other areas of science have been all but abandoned. The president has yet to nominate administrators for Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nor to appoint his own science adviser.
John Holdren, science adviser during Barack Obama's presidency, said Trump had "shown no indication of awareness of the role of science and the role of science in government".
"Scientists are understanding that they have to become activists, that they have to speak up, that they have to be heard," he said. "The message isn't, Please save our jobs.' Scientists would be in another line of work if they were just interested in their salaries. If funding for science is slashed, all of society will lose out."
The march has proved controversial within the science community, which is typically reluctant to be overtly political. Some scientists have raised concerns that the marches will invite attacks by Trump and his supporters, or will fail to convince the public that science has inherent value.
But several famous voices have joined the cause. "Science has always been political but we don't want science to be partisan," Bill Nye, a prominent engineer and TV personality, told the Guardian.
"Objective truths have become set aside and diminished and lawmakers are acting like a strong belief in something is as valid as careful peer review."
Nye said science was in a "dangerous place" but hoped the march would help nudge Trump to a more amenable position.
"The president changes his mind quite frequently," he said. "We want to influence the people who influence him. That's our goal for the march."


Head of EPA denies carbon dioxide causes global warmingLeland Melvin, a former Nasa astronaut who participated in two missions, criticized the administration's plans to eliminate Nasa's education budget.
"Doing that would keep people like me from getting a masters or PhD," he said. "If we want brown people and women getting these degrees and get them involved in science, we have to fund it. The administration needs to get its head out of the sand."

Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the march aimed "to celebrate science, not to politicize it".
"Science is behind the good news and bad news about wildlife conservation ," he said. "it has nothing to do with the fake news. Science is the antithesis of fake news."
The marches came one week before the People's Climate March, a series of large-scale events focused on climate change that will be more overtly political.
"Attacks on science don't just hurt scientists, they hurt scientists' ability to protect the people, and climate change epitomizes that," said Dr Geoffrey Supran, an expert in renewable energy at Harvard University.
"When politicians cater to fossil fuel interests by denying the basic realities of climate science and pursuing anti-science climate policy, they endanger the jobs, justice, and livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere."

As U.S. Preps Arrest Warrant for Assange, Glenn Greenwald Says Prosecuting WikiLeaks Threatens Press Freedom for All

StoryApril 21, 2017
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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald responds to reports that the Trump administration has prepared an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed the report at a news conference Thursday. Last week, CIA chief Mike Pompeo blasted WikiLeaks as a "hostile intelligence service," in a stark reversal from his previous praise for the group. Pompeo made the remarks last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in his first public address as CIA director. Pompeo went on to accuse WikiLeaks of instructing Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to steal information. He also likened Julian Assange to a "demon" and suggested Assange is not protected under the First Amendment. It's been nearly five years since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in London seeking political asylum, fearing a Swedish arrest warrant could lead to his extradition to the United States. Greenwald's story for The Intercept is "Trump's CIA Director Pompeo, Targeting WikiLeaks, Explicitly Threatens Speech and Press Freedoms."

CNN is reporting the Trump administration has prepared an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed the report at a news conference on Thursday.
REPORTER: Can you talk about whether it's a priority for your department to arrest Assange, once and for all, and whether you think you can take him down?
ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS: We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks. This is a matter that's gone beyond anything I'm aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks. And some of them are quite serious. So, yes, it is a priority.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, CIA chief Mike Pompeo blasted WikiLeaks as a, quote, "hostile intelligence service," in a stark reversal from his previous praise for the group. Pompeo made the remarks last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in his first public address as CIA director.
MIKE POMPEO: It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a nonstate, hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. ... In reality, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is clickbait, their moral compass nonexistent. Their mission, personal self-aggrandizement through destruction of Western values.
AMY GOODMAN: In his speech, Pompeo went on to accuse WikiLeaks of instructing Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to steal information. He also likened Julian Assange to a "demon" and suggested Assange is not protected under the First Amendment. It's been nearly five years since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in London seeking political asylum, fearing a Swedish arrest warrant could lead to his extradition to the United States.
For more, we go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we're joined via Democracy Now! video stream by Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His recent piece is headlined "Trump's CIA Director Pompeo, Targeting WikiLeaks, Explicitly Threatens Speech and Press Freedoms."
Glenn, welcome back to Democracy Now! Your response to this latest news that the U.S. government, that the Justice Department, is preparing an arrest warrant for Julian Assange?
GLENN GREENWALD: What's interesting is, the Justice Department under President Obama experimented with this idea for a long time. They impaneled a grand jury to criminally investigate WikiLeaks and Assange. They wanted to prosecute them for publishing the trove of documents back in 2011 relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as the U.S. State Department diplomatic cables. And what they found, the Obama Justice Department found, was that it is impossible to prosecute WikiLeaks for publishing secret documents, without also prosecuting media organizations that regularly do the same thing. The New York Times, The Guardian, many other news organizations also published huge troves of the documents provided by Chelsea Manning. So it was too much of a threat to press freedom, even for the Obama administration, to try and create a theory under which WikiLeaks could be prosecuted.
Fast-forward five years later, there's been a lot more WikiLeaks leaks and publications, including some really recent ones of sensitive CIA documents, as well as having spent all of last year publishing documents about the Democratic National Committee, which means they've made enemies not just of the right in America, but also the Democratic Party. And the Trump administration obviously believes that they can now safely, politically, prosecute WikiLeaks. And the danger, of course, is that this is an administration that has already said, the President himself has said, the U.S. media is the enemy of the American people. And this is a prosecution that would enable them not only to prosecute and imprison Julian Assange, but a whole variety of other journalists and media outlets that also routinely publish classified information from the U.S. government.
AMY GOODMAN: So let's go back to what CIA chief Mike Pompeo said in his first address as CIA director.
MIKE POMPEO: The days like today, where we call out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.
AMY GOODMAN: And CIA chief Mike Pompeo continued.
MIKE POMPEO: Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended America's First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they're wrong. Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He's a fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange responded to the comments earlier this week while speaking with Jeremy Scahill on the Intercepted podcast.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Pompeo said explicitly that he was going to redefine the legal parameters of the First Amendment to define publishers like WikiLeaks in such a manner that the First Amendment would not apply to them. What the hell is going on? This is the head of the largest intelligence service in the world, the intelligence service of the United States. He doesn't get to make proclamations on interpretation of the law. That's a responsibility for the courts, it's a responsibility for Congress, and perhaps it's a responsibility for the attorney general. It's way out of line to usurp the roles of those entities that are formally engaged in defining the interpretations of the First Amendment. For anyfrankly, any other group to pronounce themselves, but for the head of the CIA to pronounce what the boundaries are of reporting and not reporting is a very disturbing precedent. This is not how the First Amendment works. It's justit's just legally wrong.
The First Amendment is not a positive definition of rights. It's a negative definition. It limits what the federal government does. It doesn't say the federal government must give individuals rights and enforce that. It limits what the federal government can do to take away a certain climate of open debate in the United States. So, the First Amendment prevents Congress and the executive from engaging in actions themselves which would limit not only the ability of people to speak and to publish freely, but would also limit the ability of people to read and understand information, because it is that climate of public debate which creates a check on a centralized governmental structure from becoming authoritarian. It's a right, from that perspective, for all the people, not just the publisher.
AMY GOODMAN: So that's Julian Assange speaking on the Intercepted podcast. Glenn Greenwald, if you can respond to bothboth Julian as well as the CIA director, Pompeo, and what he's alleging?
GLENN GREENWALD: I think the key point here to understand is the way in which governments typically try and abridge core freedoms, because what they know is that if they target a group that is popular or a particular idea that people agree with, there will be an uprising against the attempt to abridge freedom. So what they always do, for example, when governments try and abridge freedom of speech, is they pick somebody who they know is hated in society or who expresses an idea that most people find repellent, and they try and abridge freedom of speech in that case, so that most people will let their hatred for the person being targeted override the principle involved, and they will sanction or at least acquiesce to the attack on freedom because they hate the person being attacked. But what happens is, the abridgment then gets institutionalized and entrenched. And that way, when the government goes to start to apply this abridgment to other people that you like more, it's too late, because you've acquiesced in the first instance. And that's why groups like the ACLU, when they want to defend civil liberties, are oftenso often defending the most marginalized and hated groups, like neo-Nazis or white supremacists or the KKK, because that's where the attacks happen.
This is what Mike Pompeo is strategizing to do now and what Jeff Sessions wants to do, as well, is they know WikiLeaks is hated on all sides of the political spectrum. The right has long hated WikiLeaks because of all the publications they did of Bush-era war crimes, and Democrats now despise WikiLeaks, probably more than anybody else that they hate, because of the role that Democrats believe WikiLeaks played in helping to defeat Hillary Clinton. And so, what Jeff Sessions is hoping, and probably with a good amount of validity, is that Democrats, who should be the resistance to these sorts of attacks, will actually cheer for the Trump administration while they prosecute WikiLeaks, because they hate WikiLeaks so much, and that U.S. media outlets, which also hate WikiLeaks, won't raise much of a fuss. And that way, this very dangerous precedent of allowing the CIA and the Trump Justice Department to decide who is and who is not a journalist, what types of journalism are protected by the First Amendment and what types aren't, will be entrenched as precedent. And that way, the next time there's a leak that they hate in The New York Times or by NBC News, they will have this theory, that everybody signed on to, that said that the First Amendment doesn't apply to certain people if you publish documents that are sensitive enough, or if you work enough with certain sources before the publication, that you're deemed a collaborator. That's what makes this moment so dangerous for core press freedoms.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me get your response to this other point that CIA chief Mike Pompeo made.
MIKE POMPEO: In January of this year, our Intelligence Committee determined that Russian military intelligence, the GRU, had used WikiLeaks to release data of U.S. victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber-operations against the Democratic National Committee.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, there's been no evidence, of course, presented by the U.S. government that that's actually true. They've stated that over and over, but there's been no evidence presented of it so far.
But let's assume for the sake of argument that they're actually telling the truth, that the Trump CIA director is being honest and that that's really what happened. What does that mean in terms of WikiLeaks? Nobody suggests that WikiLeaks did the actual hacking. In this case, even if what they're saying is true, it would mean that WikiLeaks received information from a sourcein this case, a foreign governmentand then published that information that every U.S. media outlet in the country deemed newsworthy, because they constantly reported on it. This is a very common practice, where U.S. media outlets receive information from sources, often foreign sources, including officials within foreign governments, and then publish or report on the information that they've been provided. If you allow that process to be criminalized simply because WikiLeaks' source in this particular case happened to be a foreign government or a foreign intelligence agency, you are, again, endangering press freedoms in a very substantial way, because that is something that media outlets do very often. That's where they get their information from.
AMY GOODMAN: And let's turn to CIA Director Mike Pompeo talking about your news organization, that you co-founded, Glenn, The Intercept.
MIKE POMPEO: The Intercept, which has in the past gleefully reported unauthorized disclosures, accused WikiLeaks in late March of, quote, "stretching the facts" in its comments about the CIA. In the same article, The Intercept added that the documents, quote, "were not worth the concern WikiLeaks generated by its public comments."
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, your response?
GLENN GREENWALD: So that was an article written by one of our reporters assessing WikiLeaks's journalism. We criticize the journalism of pretty much every media outlet. We've certainly written far more scathing critiques of The New York Times and NBC News and The Washington Post when they've published fake stories or when they've done misleading and deceitful journalism. So the fact that we've been critical of some of WikiLeaks's journalism, just as WikiLeaks has sometimes been critical of ours, doesn't justify turning them into felons and prosecuting them. If bad journalism or making poor journalistic choices can now justify having the Justice Department prosecute you, there will be no media organizations left. So, he was trolling there by citing one of our articles that was mildly critical of WikiLeaks's journalism, but that obviously does not remotely justify prosecuting WikiLeaks for having published secret documents.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what happens right now? There is Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorean Embassy for almost five years now. What does it mean that there is an arrest warrant from him by the United Statesfor him?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, that'sthat's a really significant question, Amy. And when Mike Pompeo made his speech, the one that you've been playing, it was very deliberately threatening. He was saying things like "We are no longer going to allow them the space to publish this information. This ends now." And the question that you just raised is the towering one for me, which is, OK, so the U.S. government indicts WikiLeaks and issues an arrest warrant for Julian Assange. It doesn't change the fact that he's currently in the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has received asylum. And remember, the reason the Ecuadorean government gave Julian Assange asylum in the first place was because they said they were worried that if he were extradited to Sweden, that that would then be used to send him to the United States, where he would be prosecuted for publishing information, for doing journalism. That was always what Ecuador was most worried about. So it seems very unlikely that Ecuador is going to voluntarily withdraw its asylum.
So then the question becomes: Do they have any plans to physically seize Julian by invading the Ecuadorean Embassy, something the U.K. government actually thought about doing early on? Do theyare they trying to do a deal with the new Ecuadorean government to provide them benefits, or threaten them, in exchange for handing Julian over and withdrawing the asylum? Or is this just theater? Is this just show? Is this just a way of the Trump administration showing that they're trying to crack down on leaks? I don't think we know the answer to that question. But the asylum that Julian has should prevent the U.S. government from apprehending him, even if they do decide to go ahead and indict WikiLeaks.
AMY GOODMAN: Chelsea Manning is about to be released in May. The argument that he's making that Julian Assange solicited Manning, the information, your final comment, Glenn?
GLENN GREENWALD: So the Obama administration, when they were trying to prosecute WikiLeaks, thought about: How can we do this in a way that makes it so that we're accusing them of more than just publishing? And they said, "Maybe we can find evidence that Julian actually participated with Chelsea Manning in the theft of this material." And ultimately, they found no evidence whatsoever to support that theory. Nonetheless, Mike Pompeo asserted that this was true, obviously in anticipation of trying to use this as a theory to say, "We're not prosecuting WikiLeaks for publishing. We're prosecuting them for collaborating or conspiring in the theft of this information." There's been no evidence ever that the Obama administration found. And I seriously doubt the Trump administration has found evidence for that, as well, but they asserted it in order to say, "We're not prosecuting them for publishing."

Shutting Down American-Style Authoritarianism

Posted on Apr 22, 2017
By Henry A. Giroux
[Image: TrumpResistanceGiroux_590.jpg]
A protest outside Trump International Hotel in Chicago. (Rob Walsh / CC 2.0)

Editor's note: A shorter version of this piece appeared inCounterPunch.
It is impossible to imagine the damage Trump and his white nationalists, economic fundamentalists, and white supremacists friends will do to civil liberties, the social contract, the planet, and life itself in the next few years.
Rather than address climate change, the threat of nuclear war, galloping inequality, the elimination of public goods, Trump and his vicious acolytes have accelerated the threats faced by these growing dangers. Moreover, the authoritarian steam roller just keeps bulldozing through every social protection and policy put in place, however insufficient, in the last few years in order to benefit the poor, vulnerable, and the environment.
A neo-fascist politics of emotional brutality, militant bigotry, and social abandonment has reached new heights in the United States. Think about the Republican Party call to eliminate essential health benefits such as mental health coverage, guaranteed health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, and the elimination of Meals on Wheels program that benefit the poor and elderly.As the Trump regime continues to hollow out the welfare state, it builds on Obama's efforts to expand the surveillance state but with a new and deadly twist. This is particularly clear given the Congressional Republicans' decision to advance a bill that wouldoverturn privacy protections for Internet users, allow corporations to monitor, sell, and use everything that users put on the Internet, including their browsing history, app usage and financial and medical information.
This is the Orwellian side of Trump's administration, which not only makes it easier for the surveillance state to access information, but also sells out the American public to corporate demagogues who view everything in terms of markets and the accumulation of capital.
On the other side of the authoritarian coin is the merging of the punishing society and permanent warfare state with a culture of fear and cruelty. Under these circumstances, everyone is viewed as either a potential terrorist or narcissistic consumer making it easier for the Trump machine to elevate the use of force to the most venerable national ideal while opening up lucrative markets for defense and security industries and the growing private prison behemoth.
At the level of everyday life, the merging of corporate and political brutalism into a war culture were on full display in the savage beating of a United Airlines passenger who refused to give up his seat because the airlines over booked. Couple this with the Star War spectacle of the United States dropping a 21,600 pound non-nuclear bomb on the Achin district in Afghanistan, which has a population of around 95,000 people. Nobody on the plane came to the aid of the passenger as he was being assaulted and dragged from his seat as if he were a dangerous criminal suggesting that brutality, fear, and powerlessness have become normalized in America.
Moreover, the relative silence of the American public in the face its government dropping the "Mother of All Bombs" in Afghanistan and unloading endless weapons of death and destruction in Syria testify to the amnesiac state of the country and the moral coma which has settled like a dense fog on so many of its inhabitants. As historical memory is erased, public spheres and cultural spaces are saturated with violence and the endless spectacles of civic illiteracy. Pedagogies of repression now enable the suffering produced by those most vulnerable, who disappear amidst the endless trivialization produced by the mainstream media, which anxiously awaits for Trump's next tweet in order to increase their ratings and fuel the bottom line.
The government propaganda machine has turned into a comic version of a failed Reality TV series. Witness the daily spectacle produced by the hapless Sean Spicer. Spicer dreams about and longs for the trappings of Orwell's dystopia in which he would be able to use his position as a second rate Joseph Goebbels to produce, legitimate, and dictate lies rather than be in the uncomfortable scenario, in which he now finds himself, of having to defend endlessly Trump's fabrications. For Spicer, the dream of the safety of Orwell's dystopia has given way to the nightmare of him being reduced to the leading character in the Gong Show. Actually, maybe he is the confused front man for our stand-in-president who increasingly resembles the psychopath on steroids, Patrick Bateman, from the film, American Psychotruly a symbol for our times. Ignorance is a terrible wound, when it is the result of systemic constraints or self-inflicted, but it is a pathology and plague when it is willfulthe active refusal to know- and translates into power. Trump and his mostly incompetent and ignorant government appointees are not just stupid and offensive in their ideological smugness, they are a threat to the very act of thinking and its crucial connection to memory, justice and truth.
Neo-fascist policies and practices now feed a war culture and demand more than a political and moral outrage. At the very least, it must be recognized that neo-fascism must be restored as Paul Gilroy has argued "to its proper place in the discussions of the moral and political limits of what is acceptable." This would suggest making visible not only the elements of neo-fascism that animate the new policies and political formations being produced in the Trump administration, but also unveiling how power is reproduced through those architects, managers, and intellectuals and institutions for hire that legitimate this distinctively American neoliberal-military machine.
The supine response of the mainstream press and the general public to ongoing acts of state and corporate violence is a flagrant and horrifying indication of the extent to which the United States government has merged the corporate state with the military state to create a regime of brutality, sadism, aggression, and cruelty. State sovereignty has been replaced by corporate sovereignty. All the while, militarized ignorance expands a culture awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat making it all the more difficult to recognizes how authoritarianism appears in new forms.
The established political parties and politicians are nothing more than crude lobbyists and shock troops for the financial elite who believe everything is for sale. The boundaries of humanity are now inscribed and defined exclusively through the metrics of the twin logic of commercial transactions and the politics of disposability. The horrors unfolding under the Trump administration are not only abetted by white supremacists, religious evangelicals, but also by liberals who still believe that capitalism and democracy are synonymous, and who appear to delight and rush to support any military intervention or act of aggression the United States wages against a foreign power. Liberals are affronted over alleged charges of Russian spying but say nothing about their own country which does far more than spy on other countries it disagrees with, it overthrows them through either illegal means or military force.
Trump's brand of authoritarianism is a combination of the savagery of neoliberalism and civic illiteracy on steroids. This legacy of neo-fascism represents more than a crisis of civic literacy and courage, it is a crisis of civic culture, if not politics itself. As civic culture wanes, a market based ideology increases its grip on the American public. This militant ideology of sadism and cruelty is all too familiar and is marked by unbridled individualism, a disdain for the welfare state, the elevation of unchecked self-interest to an organizing principle of society, the glorification of militarism, and a systemic erosion of any viable notion of citizenship.
This ideology has produced over the last forty years an agency killing form of depoliticization that paved the way for the election of Donald Trump and an updated version of American authoritarianism. This homegrown and new edition of neo-fascism cannot be abstracted from the cultural spectacles that now dominate American society and extend from the trivializing influence of celebrity culture and the militarism of video game culture to the spectacles of violence that dominate Hollywood and the mainstream media.
The new technologies increasingly lock people into orbits of isolation and privatization while the wholesale deformation of the formative cultures and public spheres that make a democracy possible disappear at a terrifying pace. Neo-fascism feeds on the spectacle, a misplaced populism, and a "mood economy" that reduces all problems to matters of self-blame and defective character. Under such circumstances, the militarization of society expands more readily to reaches deeply into everyday life producing militarized subjects, exalting military-style discipline, criminalizing an increasing range of social behaviors, transforming local police into paramilitarized soldiers, and normalizing war and violence. Rather than viewing war and militarization as a source of alarm, they become sources of national pride. The curse of the theatrical performance so endemic to fascism has been updated with the Internet and new digital technologies and allows the legacies of fascism to live on in a distinctively American modality.
The war culture must be stopped and hopefully more and more efforts will be made in the name of collective struggle to think anew what an effective form of resistance might look like. Any struggle that matters must acknowledge "that eradicating racial oppression ultimately requires struggle against oppression in all of its forms… [especially] restructuring America's economic system."
There is no shortage of diverse movements operating in multiple spheres that extend from the local to national levels. Some aim at winning general elections, conduct sit-ins, or engage in direct action such as blocking the vehicles of immigration officers. Others provide support for sanctuary movements that include institutions that range from churches to institutions of higher education. Many of these movements do not call for a qualitative change in fundamental institutions of power, especially in the economic realm, and as such offer no long term solutions. But, no viable form of collective struggle will succeed if it fails to link resistance efforts among the local, state, federal, and international spheres.
There are a wealth of strategies available that contain the possibility of become more radical, capable of merging with other sites of resistance, all of which look beyond tactics as diverse as organizing massive protests, direct resistance, and rebuilding the labor movement.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech at the Riverside Church spoke eloquently to what it meant to use non-violent, direct action as part of a broader struggle to connect racism, militarism, and war. Hiscall to address a "society gone mad on war" and the need to "address the fierce of urgency of now" was rooted in an intersectional politics, one that recognized a comprehensive view of oppression, struggle, and politics itself. Racism, poverty, and disposability could not be abstracted from the issue of militarism and how these modes of oppression informed each other.
This was particularly clear in a program put forth by The Black Panther Party, which called for "equality in education, housing, employment and civil rights" and produced a 10 Point Plan to achieve its political goals. A more recent example of a comprehensive notion of politics and can be found in the Black Lives Matter movement's call to connect police violence against wider forms of state violence, allowing such a strategy to move from a single-issue protest movement into a full-fledged social movement.

Such struggles at best must be about both educating people and creating broad-based social movements dedicated not merely to reforms but transforming the ideological, economic, and political structures of the existing society. Social transformation has to be reconnected with institutional change. This means rejecting the notion that global capitalism cannot be challenged successfully at any of these levels alone, especially if such resistance, however crucial, is not connected to a comprehensive understanding of the reach of global power. Lacino Hamilton is right in arguing that "institutional patterns and practices will not change unless protesters go beyond rallying, marching, and what usually amounts to empty slogans. "The function of activists," he writes, "is to translate protest into organized action, which has the chance to develop and to transcend immediate needs and aspirations toward a radical reconstruction of society."
Clearly, resistance to this impending and ongoing reality of neo-fascism is more urgent than ever and necessitates challenging not only the commanding structures of economic power but also those powerful cultural apparatus that trade in the currency of ideas. A formidable resistance movement must work hard to create a formative culture that empowers and brings together the most vulnerable along with those who inhabit single issues movement.
The power of such a broad-based movement could draw inspiration from the historically relevant anti-war, anti-racist, and civil rights movements of the sixties and the ACT UP movement of the late eighties. At the same time, current social movements such asPodemos in Spain also offer the possibility of creating new political formations that are anti-fascist and fiercely determined to both challenge authoritarian regimes such as the Trump regime and dismantle the economic, ideological, and cultural structures that produce them. What all of these movements revealed was that diverse issues ranging from the war abroad to the racist and homophobic wars at home were symptomatic of a more profound illness and deeper malady that demanded a new understanding of theory, politics, and oppression.

There is certainly something to be learned from older proven tactics such as using education to create a revolution in consciousness and values along with broad-based alliances to create the conditions for mass disruptions such as the use of the general strike. Such tactics combine theory, consciousness and practice as part of a strategy to paralyze the working of this death dealing machinery of casino capitalism and its recent incarnation in the Trump administration.
One of the most powerful tools of oppression is convincing people that the conditions of oppression they experienced are both normal and cannot be changed. At the same time, this oppressive ideology of normalization prevents any understanding of the larger systemic forces of oppression by insisting that all problems are individually based and ultimately a matter of individual character and responsibility. Dominant ideology spread its message through a range of cultural apparatuses extending from the schools to the mainstream media. The message was generally the same in that it insisted that there are no structures of domination only flawed individuals solely responsible for the problems they experience and that the system of capitalism as a whole was organized for their own good. The sixties produced a range of critical thinkers who challenged this central element of oppression, and included Herbert Marcuse, Malcom X, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Robin Morgan, and Susan Willis to brilliant theorists such as Stanley Aronowitz, Mary Daly, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, Zygmunt Bauman, and many others. For them structures of domination were rooted in both subjectivity itself as well as in larger economic apparatuses.
Those who believe in a radical democracy have got to find a way to make this regime ungovernable. Planting seeds and local actions are important, but there is a more urgent need to educate and mobilize through a comprehensive vision and politics that is capable of generating massive teach-ins all over the United States so as to enable a collective struggle aimed at producing powerful events such as a nation-wide boycott, sit-ins, and a general strike in order to bring the country to a halt.The promise of such resistance must be rooted in the creation of a new political party of democratic socialists, one whose power is rooted in the organization of unions, educators, workers, young people, religious groups, and others who constitute a popular progressive base. There will be no resistance without a vision of a new society and new mechanisms of resistance. In this instance, resistance registers as a form of total paralysis for the financial elite, religious fundamentalists, and neo-conservative warmongers. In doing so, it gives birth to what we might term a politics of ungovernability.
America now chokes on its claim to innocence. Up until now, it has been successful in both evading that fact and covering up its lieslies about its history, about social mobility, about freedom, about justice, about the end of racism, about the value of meritocracy, about spreading democracy abroad, and so it goes. The era of hiding behind this mythical innocence has passed. In the age of Trump, the raw brutality of casino capitalism, with its highly visible acts of violence against all aspects of ethical and political decency, is enacted without apology.
A moral political coma now drives an authoritarian society that embraces greed, racism, hatred, inequality, stupidity, disposability, and lawlessness, all of which are celebrated as national virtues. The dark present is now the endpoint of a history of violence and barbarism that can no longer be camouflaged, in part, because it is unapologetic about the viciousness of its practices and the savagery of its effects. I want to hope that this moment of unmitigated violence, this period of punitiveness, and era of unimaginable cruelty will provoke people to wake up from the nightmare that has befallen the American public. Hopefully, in that wakefulness, in a resurgent act of witnessing and moral outrage will grow and provide the basis for a new kind of politics, a fierce wind of resistance, and a struggle too powerful to be defeated.

First 100 days of Trumpf - day by day