1. Snowden Debates CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on
2. From Brady to MH-17, Power Defines Reality
3. Notching One More Win, Sanders Vows to Fight 'Until
Last Vote is Cast'
4. Economy In Decline:
Apple Reports Massive Revenue
Decline As iPhone Sales
5. The Real Meaning of Donald Trump
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, April 27,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about a recent debate Snowden took part in; item
is about power, facts and truth, but lacks definitions of these quite
important terms, which makes this item difficult to judge; item 3 is a decent article about Sanders' 4 losses and
1 gain; item 4
is about Apple's first decline in sales (of iPhones) since 2003, which
the writer explains as evidence that the next crisis (since 2008) is
brewing; and item 5 is about Donald Trump, which
was a bit disappointing, but gave me reason to remark something about
Debates CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Encryption
first item is by
Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
NSA whistleblower and privacy advocate
Edward Snowden took part in his first public debate on encryption on Tuesday night,
facing off against CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, a journalist and author known
for his coverage of international affairs.
Zakaria, in New York, defended the
government’s right to access any and all encrypted messages and devices
as long as there’s court approval. Snowden, speaking over a live
video-link from Moscow, argued the security of the Internet is more
important than the convenience of law enforcement. The debate was
organized by NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and the Century
I didn't know that until today.
And I agree completely with Edward Snowden
that "the security of the Internet is more
important than the convenience of law enforcement"
in any case and whatever the government is that would
like to "enforce the law" of their country.
The reason Snowden is quite right
is that "law enforcement" is always
national, and that "the internet" now harbours a lot of what people
wrote, for publication and in their private mails (and indeed also
considerable parts of what they said), and which comprises most things
- which also means that if the internet gets somehow fucked up,
especially as regards security, everybody gets
fucked up, and in nearly everything he or she does.
It is also worth observing that "law
enforcement" - unlike: a secure internet that can be safely used by
almost everyone - is not necessarily a good
thing. The law itself may be bad; those enforcing it may be bad; and/or
the government that tries to maintain the laws (which might but need
not be good) may be bad.
And the first definitely holds for
the USA, which has laws that permit a few handfulls of anonymous
professionals who work for the secret service to know everything
anybody does with a computer, and all in complete secrecy, which
gives the secret service they work for more power than anyone has ever
had, because knowledge is power, and they know - in principle -
knows (and put on a computer connected to the internet), while the
second will definitely hold if Trump wins the presidency, at
least that is what I think.
I go to the next point I want to say something about:
Though Zakaria started off firm in his
conviction that law enforcement should be able to get hold of all
digital messages with court approval, he gradually conceded that it may
not be that simple. Zakaria said he himself doesn’t actively encrypt
any of his communications, assuming everything will be fine — though
Snowden pointed out that, since he has an iPhone, some of his data and
communications are encrypted by default.
I didn't see or read the debate (and also
I don't like watching long discussions, except if those involved are
really intelligent and/or funny), so I don't know what Zakaria meant by
"court approval", but mere
"court approval" means nothing to me (it
might have been a Nazi-court; it may be a Chinese or North Korean
court, etc. etc.): One has to specify both the court and the
law(s) they use before one can say anything much about either.
And if the situation is as it currently is
in the USA, with secret "courts", issueing often secret
decisions, that nearly always favor the NSA, which acts knowingly and
on purpose in complete defiance of the Fourth Amendment, these "courts"
do not seem to function as real courts (which are not
secret, nearly always, and whose verdicts never are) but as
real protections of the NSA, with little or no basis in real law,
for real law is generally public law - as should also
be the case here, for the NSA simply steals or tries to
everything everybody does with an internet computer, and everything
anybody says in a cellphone. (And for me these are crimes, regardless
of any law.)
Here is the last bit I will briefly discuss - and the "He" in the first
paragraph is Zakaria:
As to Zakaria's saying that "the
government will be given carte blanche"
if something bad happens: I don't say no, but the argument does
to grant the assumption that their - eventual (?) - getting carte
blanche is not based on any rational argument, but on hysteria.
besides, I think that the govern- ment has given carte blanche
NSA with the Patriot Act and its successor,
He concluded by encouraging greater
clarity about what kind of communications the government can and cannot
access—before the next disastrous terrorist attack. “We do face real
threats out there. There are people out there trying to do bad things.
Once they happen, the government will be given carte blanche,” he said.
Snowden noted that former security
officials now proclaiming the value of unbreakable encryption—including
former NSA director Michael Hayden—had considered those questions
carefully and had fallen on the side of computer security.
and that was a major mistake, that fifteen years later still is
And as to Michael Hayden: I agree that unbreakable encryption (or
encryption that takes many years or decades of work to break it) is
very valuable and important, but what I know about Hayden makes me
fundamentally and deeply
distrust anything he says.
This is a recommended article.
Brady to MH-17, Power Defines Reality
The second item is
by Robert Parry on
This starts as follows:
I think I might agree, but it would be nice
(I tend to think ) if people define
important terms, like "power" and "fact" and "reality". Robert Parry -
all journalists, so this is not an argument specifically
against him - does not, and this makes the whole discussion in this
article vague, and more difficult to understand than it would have been
if clear definitions had been given.
Power – far more than fact – determines
what is defined as true in America, a nation that has become
dangerously disconnected from reality in matters both trivial and
The way it works now is that, in case after
case, the more powerful entity in the equation imposes the answer and
the rest of us are invited to join in by throwing stones and jeering at
the weaker party.
For what it is worth, I have given - long ago, already - my own
definitions of these terms in my Philosophical
(currently 18.6 MB in size but still not done: I am ill since 1.1.1979,
though I guess more than 2/3rds has been done, in the course of the
last 12 years) and here they are, both in part:
Power: In society: The
ability to make someone do or believe something if one desires it. The ability to make someone believe something is also
Fact: What is represented
by a true statement; what
is real; what
is the case; what is so.
Given my definitions (and the one for "power"
pretty long and pretty logical, in my treatment) I think Parry's quoted
statements are more correct than not, but then I do know this is just
on the basis of my definitions, and others may well use other
Every human being that learned to speak
learned this on the basis of a notion like fact.
The problem is not with the intuitive
notion but with ascertaining whether or not statements represent
facts, and what manner of facts, and how to ascertain this is so or
Then again, the title of his article is false or misleading: At best (I
would say) power defines what some people believe
reality is, for clearly no amount of (human) power can define
reality - at least if that means what I think it means:
Reality: What exists independently
of anybody believing
or desiring it.
Incidentally, you may ask: What is the point
of giving these definitions? I think
Note that as defined this says little
about the nature of this supposed reality other than that it
exists whether or not anybody believes or desires it. The definition
also does not entail anything about how one could or should study it.
they are good, brief and clear, and better than most other definitions
of these terms, and that last fact is a sufficient reason (for me) to
But I do not offer them as if they are the correct definitions
(I may be mistaken, for one thing) and in fact I offered them here
to show how much
clearer Parry's argument would have been with some reasonable
his key terms, indeed not at all necessarily mine or like mine.
Finally, my reason to spend some time on this is that I think the theme
he started, about power, facts and also truth is quite
part indeed because - real, factual - truth tends to
disappear in the
very great amounts
of intentional lies,
bluffing, braggadacio and bullying, and the great spades of ideological propaganda
various kinds that are now served up as "arguments" in almost any
And I will pay attention to power, facts and truth later, but not here.
two other points Parry makes (in a discussion of considerably more)
that I want to say something about.
First, about the Ukraine (and the
MH-17, and see the next remark):
The two main reasons that I pay little
attention to the Ukraine are that (1) I read neither Russian nor
Ukrainian, and therefore must depend on secondary
On a far more serious level, there’s the
tragic case of MH-17, which has been thrust back into the news by
British press reports about an upcoming BBC documentary that cites
seven eyewitnesses in Ukraine who reported seeing a warplane in the
vicinity on July 17, 2014, just before MH-17 was shot down – and one
witness saying he saw the warplane firing what looked like an
That account, if taken seriously, would
put another chink in the West’s narrative absolving the U.S.-backed
Ukrainian government of any responsibility and blaming ethnic Russian
rebels and Putin.
or tertiary sources, while (2) I am rather clearly aware that most that
I do get
that way, both from the USA, from the Ukraine and from Russia, is
ganda. And since I don't want to indulge in propaganda, I generally
about the Ukraine".
Second, there is this on Kerry and some Dutch intelligence report:
While Kerry declared that the
U.S. government knew almost immediately where the ground-to-air missile
was fired, the Dutch Safety Board report last October could only put
the firing location within a 320-square-kilometer area (covering both
government and rebel territory) and a Dutch intelligence report stated
that the only operational missiles in the area capable of downing a
plane at 33,000 feet were controlled by the Ukrainian military.
In fact, I only know which Dutch intelligence
report is meant (and did not read it) from the Wikipedia item "Malaysia Airlines Flight 17",
while the Dutch are
involved because 2/3rds of the 283 killed passengers were Dutch.
And I have no valid opinions on what happened to MH-17, but I do
on Kerry (<-
He is one American about whom I have radically changed my mind.
I liked him in the early 1970ies when he was an important
speaker for the Vietnam Veterans Against the
War organization (<- Wikipedia); I dislike
him since 2004 and later, after he had - being already quite rich
himself - married into the Heinz fortunes, and spoke mostly for the
rich. (His personal assets are between 230 and 320 million dollars,
apart from his wife, who had 750 million dollars in 2004.)
Indeed, one reason to mention him is that he is about the only
American about whom I have changed my opinions so
drastically, since 1970. (And incidentally: Bill Clinton is not
an example, for I did
not like him from the start: He seemed immediately far too much of a propagandist.)
3. Notching One More Win, Sanders Vows to Fight 'Until
Last Vote is Cast'
The third item is by
Deirdre Fulton and Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Meanwhile, it is a bit later than when this
article was written and published, and the news of April 27 is that
Sanders lost in 4 out of 5 states. I think that is a great pity, as was
his loss in New York, but I take it that these are the facts.
Less than two hours after the polls closed on
Tuesday, major networks declared
Hillary Clinton the winner in Maryland, Delaware, and delegate-rich
Bernie Sanders notched a strong victory in Rhode
Island while in Connecticut the two Democratic candidates were locked
in a tight contest. As of this writing, Sanders was projected to have
50 percent of the vote, holding a 2 point lead over Clinton.
Speaking in Huntington, West Virginia shortly
after polls closed, Sanders reminded the crowd how far the campaign had
come and how, originally, the media dismissed him as a "fringe"
"The media said, 'You know Bernie is a nice guy,
Bernie combs his hair really well, [is a] top notch dresser'," the
candidate joked, "'but nonetheless he really is a fringe candidate. The
campaign is a fringe campaign not to be taken seriously.'"
"And in the middle of all of that," Sanders
continued, "we were taking on the most powerful political organization
in America. An organization that elected a president, President [Bill]
Clinton, on two occasions and an organization that ran a very strong
campaign for Secretary Clinton in 2008."
There is also this:
Bernie Sanders will "reassess" his candidacy
after Super Tuesday 4 but has vowed to remain in the race until
California, even if the delegate results are not in his favor.
"Reassess does not mean that he's not going to be
part of this race," his senior strategist Tad Devine told
the New York Times on Tuesday. "Reassess does not mean
that his message, that we think is the most powerful message, is going
I agree with Devine. And there is this from Sanders
Again I agree.
As voters went to the ballots in Pennsylvania,
Sanders shook hands with residents and made stops at a local bookstore
and cafe. He also confirmed to reporters that he would not be dropping
out of the race in the event of an unfavorable voting day.
"The answer is, we are in this race until the
last vote is cast," Sanders said. "The people of California
have a right to determine who they want to see as president of the
United States and what kind of agenda they want the Democratic Party to
In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales
This starts as follows:
The fourth item is by Michael Snyder on Washington's Blog, and
originally on the Economic Collapse Blog:
Corporate revenues in the United
States have been falling for quite some time, but now some of the
biggest companies in the entire nation are reporting extremely
disappointing results. On Tuesday, Apple shocked the financial
world by reporting that revenue for the first quarter had fallen 7.4
billion dollars compared to the same quarter last year.
That is an astounding plunge, and it represents the very first
year-over-year quarterly sales decline that Apple has experienced since
2003. Analysts were anticipating some sort of drop, but nothing
like this. And of course last week we learned that Google and
Microsoft also missed revenue and earnings projections for the first
quarter of 2016. The economic crisis that began during the second
half of 2015 is
really starting to take hold, and even our largest tech companies
are now feeling the pain.
I say, for I had no idea. And I agree this is
a quite important fall in profits. Also, it seems as if Apple
hit especially in declines in sales of their iPhones:
I think that this announcement by
Apple is waking a lot of people up. The global economic slowdown
is real, and we can see this in iPhone sales. During the first
quarter, Apple sold 16 percent fewer iPhones than it did during the
same quarter in 2015. This is the very first year-over-year
quarterly sales decline for the iPhone ever.
I agree that is a considerable fall, and I
also agree that this is probably due
to the fact that fewer people have the money to buy an iPhone.
And here - to finish this item - is
Michael Snyder's lesson from these events:
In recent days, Barack Obama has been
running around boasting that
he saved the world economy from another Great Depression. But
that isn’t true at all. Instead, our “leaders” have simply set
the stage for a larger and more painful crisis. I like the
Doug Casey recently put it…
Whether you want to call it a “Great
Depression”, a “Greater Depression” or “The Greatest Depression”, the
truth is that we are heading into a period of time that will be unlike
anything any of us have ever experienced before.
The greatest debt bubble in the history
of the planet is starting to implode, and this time the central bankers
and the politicians are not going to be able to put the pieces back
But just like in 2008, the vast majority
of the population will not recognize the warning signs until it is way
I agree Obama did little to contain the
crisis, when he could have (although
I am willing to grant that the enormous financial manipulations
by the bank managers had already started under Bush Jr).
Also, I am afraid Michael Snyder may well
be right, and that indeed we may
be "heading into a period of time that will be
unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before".
We shall see. This is a recommended article.
The Real Meaning of
The fifth and last item for today is
by Tom Engelhardt on TomDispatch:
I found this a bit
disappointing, given the title, but I pulled two points from it.
The first is this:
Donald Trump, in other words, is
the first person to run openly and without apology on a platform of
American decline. Think about that for a moment. “Make America Great
Again!” is indeed an admission in the form of a boast. As he tells his
audiences repeatedly, America, the formerly great, is today a punching
bag for China, Mexico... well, you know the pitch. You don’t have to
agree with him on the specifics. What’s interesting is the overall
vision of a country lacking in its former greatness.
To start with, I don't think the first statement of this
quotation is correct:
So does Bernie Sanders, and with a lot more rational
justification than Donald Trump, for Sanders insists that he wants to
do something about the ever widening differences between the rich few
and the poor many, and he insists
(quite correctly) that this is a very important problem.
And besides, I am not really interested in the kinds of lies Trump uses, and
I am not for two basic reasons:
First, Trump appeals only to the rich or to the stupid. Anybody
who isn't rich and isn't stupid and has seen some of his
speeches knows that either he mostly means what he says and he is a
loony, with very little real understanding of realistic politics,
or he does not mostly mean what he says, and he still is a
loony, a bully and a liar. (And besides, he is a grandiose narcissist, with definite
and strong temperamental problems, in any case.)
Second, I am really not interested in what drives Trump in terms of ideas:
Somebody who insists that the two most important books he knows
are (1) Trump's very own "The Art of the Deal", and (2) the Bible
(which I am rather
sure he hasn't read) just lacks the kind of intellectual
civilization a president
of the USA should have (and indeed mostly did have, until
Reagan and Bush Jr arrived).
And there is this on "exceptionalism", which is noteworthy:
I incline to thinking that I also heard it
from Bush Jr. or Cheney but I may be mistaken. In any case, Tom
Engelhardt is quite right that this rather sick excuse for violence and
murder has been used a lot by Obama.
As for the U.S. being the planet’s
“exceptional” nation, a phrase that now seems indelibly in the American
grain and that no president
candidate has avoided, it’s surprising how late that entered the
presidential lexicon. As John Gans Jr. wrote
in the Atlantic in 2011, “Obama has talked more about
American exceptionalism than Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill
Clinton, and George W. Bush combined: a search on UC Santa Barbara's
exhaustive presidential records library finds that no president from
1981 to today uttered the phrase ‘American exceptionalism’ except
Obama. As U.S. News' Robert Schlesinger wrote, ‘American
exceptionalism’ is not a traditional part of presidential vocabulary.
According to Schlesinger's search of public records, Obama is the only
president in 82 years to use the term.”
And here are the reasons why I think the American Exceptionalism is
A. It seeks to give a special superhuman status to over 300
million people whose only claim to being "Exceptional" is
that they were born Americans. That is not
a valid reason to declare them - each and every one of these 300
million, regardless of education, intelligence, morality, outlook or
personal heroic deeds - "Exceptional", and indeed I see no
reason to consider them different in human qualities (judged in
of 300 million) than any arbitrary European (to whom, judged in a lump
of several hundreds of millions, applies precisely the same). And also:
B. It tries to justify the violence the American military and
govern- ments do as if there is a special reason for it: That those
engaging in it
That seems to me - who is not an American - a pretty sick
justification, indeed in good part because it sounds quite like
the justification the Nazis gave: They were Exceptional - Superhuman,
etc. - because they were Aryan.
 I have to add here (in a footnote) that "I tend to
think" - with the stress on "tend" - that people might considerably
clarify their arguments if they not merely use their terms but
also give decent, clear and brief definitions of some of their
key terms, because I also know that (i) few people have clear
definitions in mind for almost any term they use, and (ii) few people can
give clear definitions of the terms they use without consulting a
I think that is a pity, but it is what I think. (Quite a lot could be
done about this by considerably better education, but then again there
also is considerable space for intelligence, and stupid
people almost never see that definitions are important, for the simple
reason that they find it quite difficult to consider even the
possibility that other people may use the same terms as they
do, but with quite different senses.)