1. White House
Raises Encryption Threat in Silicon Valley
2. Where Were the
Post-Hebdo Free Speech Crusaders as
France Spent the Last Year
Crushing Free Speech?
3. Paul Krugman:
Are We Heading to a Global Economic
What We've Done: Human-Made Epoch of
Nightmares Is Here
5. Chaos and Violence: How New Year's Eve in Cologne Has
6. Obama Never Had a Plan to End What Guantánamo
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, January 9, 2016.
This is a
crisis blog with 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1
is about a White House attempt to charm top tech executives to be as
political as the American government is, to allow the government access
to everyone's computers; item 2 is about a Glenn
Greenwald article that asks where the defenders of free speech are if
they don't like some specific free speech; item 3
is about how Krugman dithers about whether or not we are approaching a
global economic catastrophe; item 4 is about a
projected new epoch: the anthropocene; item 5 is
about Germany, where the scene shifted (it seems) against the refugees;
and item 6 is about the real Obama, who -
very probably - never had a plan to end Guantámamo.
1. White House Raises Encryption
Threat in Silicon Valley Summit
I also said yesterday that I would say today whether I re-uploaded the
log directories (from 2004-2015, inclusive) on my site: I now have, for both sites.
by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Most of the rest of the
article consists of selections from the above mentioned excerpts. I
recommend you to read them.
Top Obama administration officials are
holding a summit meeting on counterterrorism on Friday in Silicon
Valley with top tech executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook. The
White House delegation includes Chief of Staff Denis McDonough,
Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and Director
of National Intelligence James Clapper. “The goal here is to find
additional ways to work together to make it even harder for terrorists
or criminals to find refuge in cyberspace,” White House Press Secretary
Josh Earnest said at a news briefing.
controversial topic of encryption is very much on the agenda,
according to excerpts from a White House briefing distributed to
participants of the summit, obtained by The Intercept.
Here is my own short summary of what I've read:
In fact, the White House's excerpts are clever bit of propaganda
("terrorists" in every of the first four sentences, for example) that
try to entice Tim Cooke and others to become as politicized as the American government is,
and to give up encrypting, although they do not (yet, in what
I've read) say that.
I liked the fact that Apple is encrypting for its users, indeed
in such a way that it cannot itself decrypt, as indeed is the correct
way. If Tim Cooke is interested in the long term development of Apple,
he will both resist the attempts of the government to break into the
encrypted private stuff of his customers, and will also resist the
whole attempt to politicize him and Apple.
But I do not know he really is.
2. Where Were the Post-Hebdo Free Speech Crusaders as
France Spent the Last Year Crushing Free Speech?
The second item
is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
It’s been almost one year since
millions of people — led by the world’s
most repressive tyrants — marched in Paris ostensibly
in favor of free speech. Since then, the French government — which
led the way trumpeting the vital importance of free speech in the
wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings — has repeatedly
prosecuted people for the political views they expressed, and otherwise
exploited terrorism fears to crush civil liberties generally. It
has done so with barely a peep of protest from most of those
throughout the West who waved free speech flags in support of Charlie
Yes, indeed. Also, Glenn Greenwald knows the
reason why most Westerners are for free speech for the ends they are
themselves for, but don't care much for free speech that articulates
ends they are against, or do not care about:
That’s because, as I argued
at the time, many of these newfound free speech crusaders
exploiting the Hebdo killings were not authentic,
consistent believers in free speech. Instead, they invoke that
principle only in the easiest and most self-serving instances:
namely, defense of the ideas they support. But when people are
punished for expressing ideas they hate, they are silent or supportive
of that suppression: the very opposite of genuine free speech advocacy.
Yes, indeed - but I know since 45 years (at
least) that most ordinary Dutchmen and most ordinary Europeans are not
genuine liberals, and also may not be genuine democrats: Again, the
position of the majority on freedom and democracy is much rather like 'freedom and
democracy for the ends I personally subscribe to'.
In Holland that also was the case during the Nazi occupation between
1940 and 1945:
After the war, everybody had been a leader of
the resistance; in the war few had the courage to resist, most collaborated, 6 times more
Dutchmen went into the SS than into the resistance (!!), and the Dutch rich
Nazi-collaborators Cohen and Asscher were proud to help exterminate over
100.000 Dutch poor Jews, in a deal with the high SS'er Rauter
(<-Wikipedia), who asked them to hand over the poor Jews, so that
the rich would be spared - and they mostly were. And after the
war both Cohen and Asscher did not even have to face a judge. 
I am relaying this because my parents and grandparents belonged to the
very few who went into the Dutch resistance, and because I am Dutch,
but in fact I do not think the Dutch, as a nation, is much
different from other Western European nations:
Most adults are for
freedom and democracy if this serves the ends they already subscribe to, but are often not willing to extend these rights
to people they disagree with. And most do not have the courage to face
the police or the state in disagreements about civil rights, especially
not if these are the civil rights of people who have different ends and
values than they have.
Here is one of Glenn Greenwald's conclusions:
Where were, and where are, all
the self-proclaimed free speech advocates about all of that? It was
only when anti-Islam cartoons were at issue, and a few Muslims engaged
in violence, did they suddenly become animated and passionate about
free speech. That’s because legitimizing anti-Islam rhetoric and
demonizing Muslims was their actual cause; free speech was just
Yes and no, which I say because Glenn
Greenwald seems to confuse the actions of the French government, its
bureaucrats, and its propagandists with the actions of ordinary French
In all the many years I’ve worked in
defense of free speech, I’ve never seen the principle so blatantly
exploited for other ends by people who plainly don’t believe in it as
was true of the Hebdo killings. It was as transparent as
it was dishonest. Their actual agenda was illustrated by how they
invented a brand new free speech standard specially for that occasion:
in order to defend free speech, one must not merely defend the
right to express an idea, they decreed, but must embrace the
That is, I think it is the government that wants to legitimize
anti-Islam rhetoric and demonize Muslims and also - and especially! -
get enormously larger authoritarian powers than they
would have in a genuine democracy, while it are the ordinary people
who are - often but not always - taken in, and they are
taken in because many - though not all - indeed are for freedom and for
democracy only or mostly if these serve their own ends.
There is considerably more in the original, which is recommended
3. Paul Krugman: Are We Heading to a Global Economic
The third item is
by Janet Allon on AlterNet:
are parts of quoted texts by Krugman, who indeed is worrying (somewhat)
that there may be a global economic catastrophe coming:
The good news is that the
numbers, as I read them, don’t seem big enough. The bad news is that I
could be wrong, because global contagion often seems to end up being
worse than hard numbers say it should. And the worse news is that if
China does deliver a bad shock to the rest of the world, we are
remarkably unready to deal with the consequences.
Put otherwise, Paul Krugman believes that
the numbers he saw were - in his opinion - not big enough to
warrant the inference that there will
(soon) be a global economic catastrophe, but he is worried because the
numbers may be misleading (and also tend to be not up to date, by the
way, nor as accurate as they should be).
Here is a bit more by Krugman:
The basic problem is that China’s
economic model, which involves very high saving and very low
consumption, was only sustainable as long as the country could grow
extremely fast, justifying high investment. This in turn was possible
when China had vast reserves of underemployed rural labor. But that’s
no longer true, and China now faces the tricky task of transitioning to
much lower growth without stumbling into recession.
So the Chinese situation looks fairly grim — and new numbers have
reinforced fears of a hard landing, leading not just to a plunge
in Chinese stocks but to sharp declines in stock prices
It seems likely to me China is in for "a
hard landing", and indeed will be so in 2016, which will have wide
economic repercussions in the West, though I agree
I am not an economist.
More to follow, no doubt.
4. Look What We've Done: Human-Made Epoch of Nightmares Is
fourth item is
by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
There's no question about it. A new
epoch—the Anthropocene—has begun.
So says an international group of
geoscientists, in a paper
published Friday in the journal Science. They point to
waste disposal, fossil fuel combustion, increased fertilizer use, the
testing and dropping of nuclear weapons, deforestation, and more as
evidence that human activity has pushed the Earth into the new age that
takes its name from the Greek anthropos, or human being.
the new era began in the 1950s, the decade that marks the beginning of
the so-called "Great Acceleration," when human population and its
consumption patterns suddenly speeded up, and nuclear weapons tests
dispersed radioactive elements across the globe.
There are 22 authors from all over the
world, and indeed it seems most date the beginning of the Anthropocene
epoch from the 1950ies. In fact, it seems mostly to come down to the
following (a bit primitive) statistic, that I used in 1980, when there were
4 billion people (now - a mere 35 years later - over 7 billion), while
in 1950 there were less than 3 billion: 
The red line is the growth in population
of the last 100,000 years. The very rapid increase indeed started
happening in the 20th Century, and still continues.
First a question: Do I believe we
have arrived at a new - anthropocene - epoch?
Basically, yes - and my reasons are mostly
in the above (primitive) graphic that charts the enormous
recent increase in humans, plus some basic knowledge about non-linear
Then again, I mind a lot less about
whether or not we are in the anthropocene epoch, than I care about
consequences of the extremely rapidly increasing human population such
as these (lifted from the article):
In any case, this is a recommended article.
"More than half the earth's surface has been transformed into
settlements and cities, agricultural land, mines, waste dumps, baseball
diamonds, and beyond," writes
journalist Eric Roston at Bloomberg. What's more, he adds,
"Mineral mining moves three times more sediment every year than all the
- Plastics everywhere. "Even
most mud samples taken from remote ocean beds now contain
plastic fragments," academics and write
for The Conversation. "Buried in sediment, these materials
may be preserved over geological timescales, forming new
rocks and rapidly-evolving 'technofossils'
for our descendants to marvel at."
- Biologic changes. "We've
pushed extinction rates of flora and fauna far above the long-term
average," the Guardian reports. "The Earth is now on
course for a sixth mass extinction which would see 75% of species
extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue."
- Nuclear fallout. "Our
war efforts have left their mark on geology," notes New
Scientist. "When the first nuclear weapon was detonated on 16 July
1945 in New Mexico, it deposited radionuclides—atoms with excess
nuclear energy—across a wide area. Since 1952, more explosive
thermonuclear weapons have been tested, leaving a global signature of
isotopes such as carbon-14 and plutonium-239."
- Greenhouse gas levels. As
Common Dreams has reported extensively,
and the geoscientists point out, atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are higher than
they've ever been. "Depending on the trajectory of future anthropogenic
forcing, these trends may reach or exceed the envelope of Quaternary
interglacial conditions," the study authors write—in other words,
conditions could become more extreme than in previous ice ages.
5. Chaos and
Violence: How New Year's Eve in Cologne Has Changed Germany
fifth item is
by Spiegel Staff (no less than 21 journalists) on the international
edition of Der Spiegel:
This starts as follows,
with a summary (in bold in the original):
New Year's Eve in Cologne
rapidly descended into a chaotic free-for-all involving sexual assault
and theft, most of it apparently committed by foreigners. It has
launched a bitter debate over immigration and refugees in Germany --
one that could change the country
Yes, indeed - or at
least: I heard and read very similar things from other news sources.
Here is the first paragraph of the article:
A lot happened on New Year's Eve
in Cologne, much of it contradictory, much of it real, much of it
imagined. Some was happenstance, some was exaggerated and much of it
was horrifying. In its entirety, the events of Cologne on New Year's
Eve and in the days that followed adhered to a script that many had
feared would come true even before it actually did. The fears of both
immigration supporters and virulent xenophobes came true. The fears of
Pegida people and refugee helpers; the fears of unknown women and of
Chancellor Angela Merkel. Even Donald Trump, the brash Republican
presidential candidate in the US, felt it necessary to comment.
Germany, he trumpeted, "is going through massive attacks to its people
by the migrants allowed to enter the country."
I don't think that is very clear, so here is
a little more from the beginning:
On New Year's Eve in Cologne, it
was -- according to numerous witness reports -- drunk young men from
North Africa who formed gangs to go after defenseless individuals. They
humiliated and robbed -- and they sexually assaulted women.
Indeed. There is considerably more in the
and the events in Cologne that are described in the article (not always
very well, I think) probably will move Germany to the right.
Their behavior, and the subsequent
discussion of their behavior in the halls of political power in Berlin,
in the media and on the Internet, could easily trigger a radical shift
in Germany's refugee and immigration policies.
6. Obama Never Had a Plan to End What Guantánamo Represents
sixth and last item is by Charles Davis on Truth-Out:
starts as follows:
Barack Obama, the new US
president, was keeping his promise: 48 hours into his presidency and
there he was, signing an executive order that called for closing down
the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year.
indeed: Here was the new Democratic "Change!", "Change!", "Change!"
president ("Yes, we can!", "Yes, we can!") starting to do the job he was elected for.
And indeed I was taken in as well (see: January 21, 2009, in English), though
indeed not longer than half a year, indeed in considerable part because
I was and am very strongly against the concentration camp
Guantánamo and indeed any concentration camp anywhere, because
my grandfather was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp, and my father survived more than 3 years and
9 months of four Nazi concentration camps, and I know better than
most how horrible and how cruel concentration camps are.
And there was this:
Precisely. And this, together with
other measures Obama did
take - notably, not prosecuting the criminal bankmanagers, and strongly
being in favour of the fascist plans TTP, TTIP, TiSA and CETA, all of
which, when adopted, will give almost full control to the rich owners
or CEOs of the multi-national corporations and will destroy effective
national government, effective parliamentary govern- ment, and effective
judicial government, all of which will be replaced by effective
government for and by the mostly American super rich - made me into an
opponent of Obama, who basically was and is a fraud, whose every public
speech says things for propaganda
purposes he will not do because they oppose the
interests of the rich or the interests of the NSA or the interests of
the mega-rich bank managers.
How refreshing it was, after two terms
of waterboarding and the oratory torture of George W. Bush, to hear not
just pretty words about American ideals that never were actually put
into practice in a nation founded by human enslavement, but for those
words to accompany in-real-life action. How disappointing, then, that
the gratingly correct cynic was once more proven right: that even the
seemingly tangible gestures - ending the empire, no, but improving its
public relations in a way that gave real, actual hope to a few hundred
imprisoned men who lacked it - proved to be little more than yet
another photo op.
It has been seven years now since Obama
signed the order closing a military prison that is still very much open
14 years after it took in its first inmates on January 11, 2002.
There is considerably more in the original, that is recommended reading.
 All of which is strictly true, though
considerable parts are now not
known in Holland (anymore, now that most who lived through WW II as
adults are dead). Also, the reason I wrote "help exterminate" is that I
know that David Cohen was transported - as a free man - around the
Dutch concentration camps, where he even might have seen my father and
grandfather, as they weighed 37,5 kilos. (I do not know Cohen
did, but he may have, for they did weigh as much by
1942, when he did visit the concentration
camp both were locked up in.)
It is true that Cohen did not know about the planned
of the Jews till the end of the war, but it is also true he kept
insisting till the end of the war that the Jews were transported only
to do some work, which was an evident lie given that he knew
what was going on in Dutch concentration camps.
Finally, here is part of the reason why neither Cohen nor Asscher ever
faced a Dutch judge: Nearly all Dutch judges also were Nazi
collaborators in WW II, and both my father and grandfather were
convicted by collaborating Dutch judges as "political
terrorists" to the concentration camp. Again, no Dutch judge
was prosecuted after the war, and all went on judging.
This is Dutch morals in practice, which differed a great lot
from the theory. O, and as to "everybody was a leader of the resistance" (immediately after
the war): I quoted in fact the Dutch prime minister De Jong, who
commanded a submarine for the Americans during WW II, and who heard
this briefly after the war, when he returned to Holland.
 Added January 12, 2016: Here is a visually much better statistic that makes the same point:
Note that if I reach 75, in 2025, the world's population has more than quadrupled during the years I've lived.