1. The Horror Story of Publishing Children’s Books in Russia
2. Apple Leads the Charge on Security, But Who Will
[Redacted] Truth About the CIA
4. Clinton vs. Sanders: Neck-and-Neck in Nevada,
5. The Federal Reserve and the Global Fracture
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 18,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about the rather exteme censorship in Russia on childrens'
books (that reminds me a lot of the Soviet Union); item
is about Apple's - quite justified - refusal to unencrypt (but I am
quite pessimistic about personal freedoms as long as these are
in the hands of the government or Silicon Valley); item
is about the eyewashing that the CIA does on its own materials, and
points out this is forbidden in any official record (but
happens, I think); item 4 is about the fact that
Clinton and Sanders currently are about equally strong in pulling votes
(which is bettter than I expected); and item 5 is
about an interesting interview with an interesting economist.
The Horror Story of
Publishing Children’s Books in Russia
Also, I mention that I uploaded yesterday a slightly corrected version
of my autobio
for the first half of 1978. 
first item is by Marsha Gessen on The Intercept
(and this is one article in a series on publishing in Russia):
This is from near the beginning - and one
of the reasons I review this article is that my communist
parents did buy translated Russian books for children (in the
1950ies), and that I learned from these that (i) they were far
more officialese sounding than Western books for children that I got
from the public library, and that (ii) they also were printed
differently, and less well than most Western books (and didn't smell
Anyway, that was about a time that one
would think was long past, but no:
You would think that publishing a book
for 6-year-olds wouldn’t entail political risks, even in a country
where political risks abound. You would be wrong. Most of the
restrictions Russia has placed on speech in the last few years have
been framed as intended to protect the innocence and purity of
children. A law that went into effect in 2010 is called the law
“On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health
and Development.” Publishers and editors generally refer to it simply
as the “law for the protection of children from information.”
In case you think the last shortened
description is a joke, you are very probably right, but then indeed it
seems children up to the age of 18 must legally be forbidden
to receive realistic information about many things - and while
this forbidding is styled as protecting "their health and
development", it in fact only means the kinds of health and development
that the Russian government desires.
Here is an outline:
If you believed what it said, Russian
children were to be protected from reading in general. Children under
the age of 6 could read about violence only if it was not
described in detail, the author’s sympathies were clearly with the
victim, and good triumphed over evil. There, apparently, went Little
Red Riding Hood, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm.
Between the ages of 6 and 12, children were allowed to learn about
illness but not death. Violence continued to be off limits. So,
obviously, did sex, and indeed any “naturalistic” description of the
human body. Little Red Riding Hood, in other words, would
still be too much for older kids, to say nothing of adventure novels
and just about any contemporary Western books for this age group.
Namely, because little red riding hood
gets eaten by the wolf. I do not know precisely when I first heard the
tale about her, but it must have been between 3 and 6, and I think my
reaction was quite typical:
I did not like it that she got eaten, but
I also did not
realize the cruelty nor the pain involved, simply because I knew very
little about violence, and also because she did get restored to life,
and because I did know what a fairy tale was: A story that was not
meant to be about real things.
Here is more about what Russian children should not be realistically
informed about, according to Russian laws:
Children between the ages of 12 and 16
were allowed to encounter the mention of violence and drugs as long as
they were condemned and not described. Sex could be mentioned but not
described, but at least the law did not require it to be condemned.
Actually, it seems a bit difficult to mention
violence without describing
it, but I suppose it can be done, and the same with sex, maybe as this
was done in the thirties in Great Britain ("...and then she yielded to
passion, and they lived long and happily. The End.").
Then again, sex does get important
at this age, so merely to mention it without describing it
means that in fact rather a lot of secrecy, lies or half-truths are
prescribed by law.
It is the same for the ages 16 to 18, and I'd also say that person
between 16 and 18 are no longer children:
Children between the ages of 16 and 18
were allowed to learn a little more about violence, sex, and drugs, as
long as none of these were described in detail or encouraged. In other
words, Russian citizens under the age of 18 were to be protected from
the details of sex and drugs and any information at all about serious
illness and violent death, including suicide. A 2013 amendment famously
forbade any and all information about “nontraditional sexual relations.”
The last legally maintained norm means
that those not born heterosexual are
systematically denied any information, including the
information that there are
rather a lot of them (about 1 in 20) and that there is nothing wrong
Here is one summary statement on Russian
THE LAW’S MESSAGE is simple: Books are
dangerous to kids and publishers need to be put in their place. This
message has empowered parents, would-be politicians, and more than
anyone else, says an editor at a publishing house (who asked not to be
identified), it has empowered bureaucrats. The enforcers of obscure
rules, many of them left over from Soviet times, started flexing their
In fact, this makes me curious about the
present Russian censorship laws on books for adults, for
clearly "books are dangerous", and especially if they state
truths that the government thinks people should not
Finally, I can't really judge from one
illustration, but the one illustration of
a book for children that is included does look very
much like the books printed
in the Soviet Union of the 1950ies.
Would they also still smell as oddly (for
Apple Leads the Charge on Security, But
Who Will Follow?
is by Jenna McLauglin on The Intercept:
This is from the end of the
article, and is moved first by me because it does clarify things:
And this is from the beginning:
A federal magistrate judge in California
on Tuesday ordered Apple to help the government break into an iPhone
belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Judge Sheri Pym
asked the company to develop a new version of the iPhone’s iOS
operating system that would allow the FBI to break into it, giving
agents access to everything on the phone, including the encrypted bits.
top tech companies, from Adobe to Yahoo, have made statements not
only in defense of strong encryption, but also opposed to the
government mandating any sort of technological design that would weaken
But few leapt at the chance to stand with
It seems to me that most of the Silicon
Valley rich have decided that stealing everything from "their
customers" is the approved American way to make huge profits, and that
this stealing also is "legitimate" if only because almost no one
upholds the Fourth Amendment  anymore, although
they all should.
After boldly and publicly rejecting
a federal court order to hack an iPhone on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim
Cook could reasonably have wondered: Who’s with me?
The Twitterverse was full of fans. Civil
liberties activists were cheering him on. But in Silicon Valley, the
initial response was less effusive.
That is a bitter shame, but seems to be true. There is also this:
A handful of tech companies and leaders
had joined Cook’s call by late afternoon. Among them were Mozilla,
anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo,
messaging application WhatsApp founder Jan Koum,
anonymous browser Tor
Project, a private
jet charter company, and password managers 1Password and Dashlane.
“It’s difficult to discuss policy and
precedent in the wake of horrific attacks. Yet, it remains true that
asking Apple to circumvent their own security protections is a massive
overreach,” said Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director, in a
statement emailed to The Intercept. “It sets a dangerous
precedent that threatens consumers’ security going forward.”
Actually, I think the reference to "horrific attacks" is just bullshit:
The point is that a few "horrific attacks"
on a few persons are being presented as if these were a reason to give
the secret services total access to anyone's computer, which is
They have no right and are forbidden the things they do
in fact, simply
because this makes them a lot of money, and no one in the government
wants to protect the privacy of ordinary people anymore.
Then again, I also suppose that the reference is in fact diplomatic
I am - meanwhile - extremely doubtful about "consumer's
security" as long as the decisions are in fact those of the government
or the Silicon Valley rich:
The government wants to know everything
anyone does, says or writes, period; the Silicon Valley rich have
gotten rich by stealing the private information of billions of its
users and selling this to advertisers simply because that information
was not encrypted, while it should have been.
3. The [Redacted] Truth About the CIA
third item is by John
Kiriakou (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig and originally on OtherWords:
This starts as follows:
I say. I did not know the last fact, which
also seems totally arbitrary. (Also Kiriakou does show the
parts that were
X-ed out in this article by the CIA.)
It’s no secret that the CIA isn’t always
up front with the public about its operations. You may even be kept in
the dark if you’re an elected official. But did you know the agency
even lies to its own employees?
That’s the subject of a recent
Washington Post report on a heretofore unknown practice at
the CIA called “eyewashing.”
Before moving to the substance of the
article, however, I owe my readers an explanation: The Central
Intelligence Agency must approve of everything I write about
intelligence, the CIA, foreign policy, diplomacy, the military, and
national security — for the rest of my life.
As to the eyewashing, there is this:
Eyewashing, simply put, is a way that
the CIA deceives its own employees.
According to the Post, CIA veterans
described eyewashing as an “important security measure” and a “means of
protecting vital secrets by inserting fake communications into routine
cable traffic.” But these lies eventually are passed to Congress, too.
And that is where the legal trouble starts:
I quite agree, but then I also
the CIA meanwhile has grown into an organization that is beyond
ordinary law, for the simple reason that the USA's government is extremely
selective about the laws it wishes to uphold (such as ten
years of imprisonment if you are black and caught with marijuana) and
the laws it does not wish to uphold (such as prosecuting the
enormous corruption in the banks and upkeeping the Fourth Amendment , that would have prevented the insane
amounts of completely illegal spying that both governments and
Silicon Valley do).
Imagine what can happen if we accept
that our public servants can simply lie.
Why not eyewash a torture program? Why
not eyewash a secret prison system? Where does it end?
And more importantly, how can it end at
all if nobody except the perpetrators knows it’s happening in the first
The CIA may tell you that eyewash cables
are important to protecting sources and operations. What I would tell
you is that it’s forbidden by federal law.
Indeed, it’s a criminal offense to “conceal,
cover up, falsify, or make a false entry“ into an official record.
It’s called “making a false statement,” and it’s punishable by five
years imprison- ment. There’s no legal exemption for the CIA.
But it is nice to know that formally the CIA is forbidden to
eyewash any official record - although I assume this still happens on a
major scale, again because the CIA has grown
into an organization that is beyond ordinary law.
4. Clinton vs. Sanders: Neck-and-Neck in Nevada, Nationwide
The fourth item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Bernie Sanders and Hillary
Clinton are in a dead heat both nationwide and in Nevada—the next
Democratic caucus state and a supposed Clinton stronghold—two polls
released Wednesday find.
Nationally, 44 percent of likely
Democratic voters support Clinton, and 42 percent support Sanders, with
11 percent undecided, a Quinnipiac University poll
found. Respondents said they saw Clinton as having more leadership
experience and Sanders as being more trustworthy and honest.
In fact, this is (a bit) better than I
What I thought was that Bernie Sanders
still is less popular than Hillary Clinton in all of the USA,
simply because he has had far less time on national TV and in
the national press than Hillary Clinton, whose name is also much better
But it seems I was mistaken, at least
according to the poll of the Quinnipiac University: This has both
running equal, since the difference of two percent is within the margin
of error that is slightly over four percent.
There is more in the article.
The Federal Reserve and the
The fifth item is by Michael
Hudson (<- Wikipedia) and Annti J. Ronkainen:
This is an interesting interview with an economist that is
recommended (and the Wikipedia lemma on him is also interesting).
It starts as follows (and all I quote is text by Michael Hudson):
Michael Hudson: The
Federal Reserve supports the status quo. It would not want to create a
crisis before the election. Today it is part of the Democratic Party’s
re-election campaign, and its job is to serve Hillary Clinton’s
campaign contributors on Wall Street. It is trying to spur recovery by
resuming its Bubble Economy subsidy for Wall Street, not by supporting
the industrial economy. What the economy needs is a debt writedown, not
more debt leveraging such as Quantitative Easing has aimed to promote.
I agree, as I do to the following:
The last thing either U.S. party
wants is for the election to focus on this policy failure. The Fed,
Treasury and Justice Department will be just as pro-Wall Street under
Hillary. There would be no prosecutions of bank fraud, there would be
another bank-friendly Attorney General, and a willingness to subsidize
banks now that the Dodd-Frank bank reform has been diluted from what it
originally promised to be.
Yes, indeed - and the reasons this will
continue is that all the same did all the same for 25 years or so, and
besides, Hillary got a lot of money from the big banks.
There is this on the interest rates (which also are about 0
procent in Europe):
MH: The aim of lowering
interest rates was to provide banks with cheap credit. The pretense was
that banks might lend to help the economy get going again. But the
Fed’s idea was simply to re-inflate the Bubble Economy.
That is, the banks reinvested the very cheap
money they got into their own health, and not into the rest of
In more detail:
MH: In 2008 the Federal Reserve
had a choice: It could save the economy, or it could save the banks. It
might have used a fraction of what became the vast QE credit – for
example $1 trillion – to pay off the bad mortgages and write them down.
That would have helped save the economy from debt deflation. Instead,
the Fed simply wanted to re-inflate the bubble, to save banks from
having to suffer losses on their junk mortgages and other bad loans.
Yes, and indeed by nominating (through "the
revolving door") high officials of these banks to powerful positions in
government (which amounts to the complete corruption of
One therefore can speak of a financial war
waged by Wall Street against the economy. The Fed is a major weapon in
this war. Its constituency is Wall Street. Like the Justice and
Treasury Departments, it has been captured and taken hostage.
Finally, I quote this bit on the information that reaches the public
about Wall Street:
If you are going to serve Wall
Street – your major campaign contributors – you are going to need a
cover story pretending that this will help the economy. Politicians
start with “Column A”: their agenda to reimburse their campaign
contributors – Wall Street and other special interests. Their public
relations team and speechwriters then draw up “Column B”: what public
voters want. To get votes, a rhetorical cover story is crafted. I
describe this in my forthcoming J is for Junk Economics, to
be published in March. It’s a dictionary of Orwellian doublethink,
political and economic euphemisms to turn the vocabulary around and
mean the opposite of what actually is meant.
In fact, I think that is the general
on which most American politicians work: Reimburse one's financers,
while telling those lies to the public that one's
public relations folks have determined that the public most likes to
There is a lot more in the original, which is recommended.
 My autobiography was first written, bit by
bit also, in Nederlog, in Dutch for the most part, since
January 2013. These files were then copied to the /maartensz
directory and have all been - slightly or not so slightly - edited
there. Part I (until the first half of 1978) is meanwhile
mostly done; Part II (until 1991) is being rewritten now, and
will get uploaded when that is done. You can find the files (of Part I)
link. Part III (from 1991 onwards) still remains to be written.
 Which is as follows (and cannot be
removed from the Constitution):
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What is the case now amounts to this:
Amendment to the US Constitution
The people have no effective rights
anymore to be secure in their persons, or in their houses, or in their
papers, or in their effects, because these can now all be violated by
any anonymous secret agent and by any unknown spy from Silicon Valley,
which also need no warrant, no probable cause, no oath and no
affirmation, while absolutely anything may be and is being taken
without any reason by anyone who works for the government or Silicon
-- The "Fourth Amendment" in practice.