1. Email Privacy Bill Passes House
2. Luxembourg works for the rich fascists
3. How Trump Became the GOP's "Presumptive Nominee"
with Hate-Fueled Rhetoric
& Attacks on Immigrants
4. Maybe Donald Trump Has
Really Lost His Mind: What If
the GOP Frontrunner Isn't
Crazy, but Simply Not Well?
5. Snowden Revelations Led to 'Chilling Effect' on Pursuit
of Knowledge: Study
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, April 28,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about the
- unanimous! - passage of a bill in the American House that is supposed
to guard the privacy of e-mails; item 2 is about
Luxembourg, that specializes in and got rich by tax frauds (and the
title is mine); item 3 is about Trump's rhetoric; item 4 is by someone who quite rightly notices that,
for an intelligent and knowledge- able audience, Trump speeches sound
pretty insane, and who wonders this may be due to his having Alzheimers
(I don't know); and item 5 is about a consequence
of Snowden's Revelations, that show many took then immediately
in the sense I took them, and feared for their future
health or chances, for there was a drop in 20% in searches for
terms related to Snowden's revelations after these became known.
1. Email Privacy
Bill Passes House Unanimously
first item is by Jenna McLaughlin on
This starts as follows:
Hm. That is: I like this news, but I can't
it. Here are a few problems:
The House voted unanimously,
419-0, on Wednesday to bring the law that protects the privacy of
Americans’ e-mails into the 21st century.
The Email Privacy Act would reform the
1986 Email Communications Privacy Act by requiring all federal agencies
(with few exceptions) to get a warrant before searching old digital
communications stored in the cloud by companies like Google and
“In 1986, the assumption was that if you
left your email on a server it was abandoned, like trash on a street
corner,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., one of the bill’s authors,
during a GOP press conference Wednesday morning. He said it “restores
the Fourth Amendment, and treats email with the same protections as
I would like to see a specification of "all
federal agencies (with few exceptions)": Which agencies
are excepted? Might these not be the NSA and other secret
the FBI and the CIA? I don't know, but with no vote against,
quite a few members of the House are for spying on all
the best of my knowledge, I would have liked a bit more information.
And I get a bit queasy when evidence is given that relates to the state
of affair in 1986, which was a year before I got a computer,
and I was one of the first tenthousands or so in Holland to do so,
machines I got were slow and small (compared to the ones I use now).
Also, I did not get an internet connection
until 1996, and I was a frontrunner in that as well, though
then several hundred thousands with internet in Holland.
But to appeal to an "assumption" (which sounds like utter bullshit to
me, but that is another question) that may have been made 30
is just baloney.
And when the same person also is quoted as stating that Fourth
Amendment is "restored" (which has been part of the Constitution since
the 18th Century, and still is) I think I am being frauded, though I do
not yet know how.
Besides, it is also true that, while the bill may prevent the
NSA to read the mails of Americans, it cannot
prevent the GCHQ reading the American mails, while the NSA reads the
British mails, after which they exchange - as seems to have been
happening a lot.
So I do need to know more before I become enthusiastic.
works for the rich fascists
The second item is
by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept (and the
is mine, because the original title is too long to fit on two
lines: I am sorry):
This starts as follows:
I say. I didn't know about this, though I did
know a considerable amount about Luxembourg in the late 1960ies, when I
worked for a bank, and was supposed to try to find out about tax
havens, real owners of banks etc. - which usually (nearly always) led
to some Luxembourg
P.O.B., often with a quaint name, that was quite different from
the banking firms or oil firms they owned and shielded.
LUXEMBOURG IS TRYING to throw two
French whistleblowers and a journalist in prison for their role in the “LuxLeaks” exposé
that revealed the tiny country’s outsized role in enabling corporate
The trial of Antoine Deltour and Raphael
Halet, two former employees of the international accounting firm
PricewaterhouseCoopers, and journalist Edouard Perrin began Tuesday.
Deltour and Halet were charged in
connection with theft of PwC documents. Perrin is charged as an
accomplice for steering Halet toward documents that he
considered of particular interest.
Perrin, a reporter with Premières
Lignes Television in Paris, produced the first
LuxLeaks reporting. PwC documents were later obtained by the
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and, together
with records from other accounting giants, formed the basis for the
series involving over
80 journalists across the world.
That is long ago, I willingly grant, but I should add that Luxembourg's
shady operations have much increased since the
late Sixties, to the best of my
knowledge (and see below).
There is this on behalf of the
European Federation of Journalists and of Reporters Without Borders:
The European Federation of
demanded that Luxembourg drop the charges against Perrin. EFJ
general secretary Ricardo Gutierrez called Perrin’s prosecution
“shameful,” saying that Luxembourg “is going after a journalist who has
acted entirely in the public interest.” Reporters Without Borders criticized Luxembourg for
being “more concerned about deterring investigative journalism than
protecting the public’s right to information.”
Yes indeed, and especially the last bit.
is why Luxembourg (a country with less than 563,000 inhabitants, that
fits inside a square of 10 * 20 kilometers) does contribute so
those I call rich fascists (not the writer of this article):
First, the reason Luxembourg shields these extremely
rich multi-national corporations financially may be illustrated
with this quote from the Wikipedia on Luxembourg (quoted
The LuxLeaks series
exposed Luxembourg as a “magical
fairyland” for multinational corporations trying to avoid taxes,
and now other countries are trying to shut it down
The government of Luxembourg made
sweetheart deals with over 340 multinational corporations that enabled
the companies to claim much of their profits had been generated by
Luxembourg subsidiaries, which were then taxed at rates as low as 1
Among the well-known beneficiaries of
Luxembourg’s special arrangements were Pepsi, FedEx, IKEA, AIG, Walt
Disney, the Carlyle Group, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Procter
& Gamble and, via its one-time ownership of Skype, eBay.
In March 2010, the Sunday
Telegraph reported that most of Kim Jong-Il's $4 billion in secret
accounts is in Luxembourg banks. Amazon.co.uk also benefits from
Luxembourg tax loopholes by channeling substantial UK revenues as
reported by The Guardian in April 2012. Luxembourg ranked third
on the Tax Justice Network's 2011 Financial Secrecy Index of the
world's major tax havens, scoring only slightly behind the Cayman Islands. In 2013, Luxembourg is
ranked as the 2nd safest tax haven in the world, behind Switzerland.
More systematically: Luxembourg offers to be
formal seats for the multi- national corporations mentioned above
(Pepsi etc. etc.) for a few procents of tax a year, which
brings it millions
by denying many more millions to the governments of the
countries these multi-national corporations are really based in
(often but not necessarily the USA).
And second, why I call these companies and/or their CEOs and other
leaders "rich fascists": Because they are extremely rich,
extremely greedy, extremely dishonest and very sleazy
thiefs, and are in Luxembourg only
to increase their anyway vast profits even more, namely by abusing the
willingness of the Luxembourgians to help them defraud the
they are really seated in.
I call them "fascists" in part because I think quite a few of them are;
I do so mostly in Orwell's sense i.e. I hate and despise such
greedy behavior; and I do so also in part because I have been
fascist" for twelve years in the University of Amsterdam, while I was
not at all, and because I was a strong proponent of truth and science; because
my parents and grandparents were among the strongest and most active
anti-fascists in Holland, for which
reason my father also was knighted; and because absolutely no one in
the University of Amsterdam cared one bit that I was thus called.
3. How Trump Became the GOP's "Presumptive Nominee" with
Hate-Fueled Rhetoric & Attacks on Immigrants
The third item is by Amy Goodman on
This is from the introduction:
We begin a roundtable discussion
with four guests in New Mexico talking about Trump’s rise to become, as
he now refers to himself, "the presumptive nominee."
This also is the start of a fairly extensive
discussion with four persons which I do not even attempt to
I just took two quotations from two of the four persons (who said a lot
more, which you can all read by clicking the above dotted link) and one
quote from Donald Trump, because I have something to say on each.
First, here is Gary Johnson (who is a Libertarian):
JOHNSON: Well, I just
think he is going to get the nomination. I think he’s going to get the
nomination, and I think he’s the most polarizing figure among
Republicans. I think he alienates over half of Republicans. And I know
you’re asking me for my thoughts on Trump, but I think Hillary really
is in the same category, that she is very polarizing and that,
arguably, we have the two most polarizing figures in American politics
today, they’re going to be the nominees. And when 50 percent of
Americans right now are saying that they’re independent, well, at the
end of the day, maybe the two of them represent 30 percent of the
I think that is fair, although I would like
to see evidence for his thesis that "50
of Americans right now are saying that they’re independent". Also, my own guess is that Clinton + Trump
represent (somehow) at least
50 percent of the electorate right now, and that this will be higher in
the presidential elections.
But Johnson is quite right in saying that both Trump and Clinton are
polarizing, and that both are not popular with large
Next, a quote from Donald Trump on David Duke (<-
Wikipedia) who is a former head of the Ku Klux Klan, and who is a
supporter of Donald Trump, also with some criticism of Trump on Israel.
Here is first something on Duke (from the Wikipedia on him):
In February 2016, Duke urged his
listeners to vote Trump saying that voting for anyone besides Donald
Trump “is really treason to your heritage.”
And here is Donald Trump, who knew very
well who David Duke was in 2000 (again see the Wikipedia on
who is now quoted as saying this:
TRUMP: Well, just so you
understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know
anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or
white supremacists. So, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know—did he
endorse me, or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about
David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so, when
you’re asking me a question, that I’m supposed to be talking about
people that I know nothing about.
First, Trump knows what the Ku Klux
Klan is, and he knew very well who Duke was in 2000, but it is
(somewhat remotely) possible that he forgot everything he knew, which
discussed in item 5, to which I refer.
Second, my reason to quote this is not because it mentions
David Duke, but because is illustrates Trump's public speaking style
It consists of random associations (often false), personal
attacks and denunciations, and it is made up of repetition after
repetition after repetition, not only here, but in every public
speech I saw by Trump (which are also very bad speeches, at
least for a somewhat intelligent audience, which indeed he has not),
that also suffer from very bad grammar and syntax.
In the above quoted short bit he says seven times that he knows
nothing about David Duke and nothing about white supremacists. (He did
know about both in 2000, but for that I refer you again to item 5.)
What I want to say here is that if Trump's public
speaking style is like his personal speaking style (which I don't
know), he is - in my opinion, as a psychologist - a real moron who may
have Alzheimers: Nobody who is fit to
be president of the United States speaks as if he believes that he has
everything at least three times. (And as I said, publicly
he does so nearly always in the speeches I have tried to see,
on nearly everything I saw.)
Finally, here is Jerry Ortiz y Pino:
Y PINO: (..) When the Republicans
debate, because Trump is so polarizing, they talk about each other’s
wives. They talk about, you know, just insults, name calling. I really
fear for this country during a presidential election in which Trump is
the nominee on one side, and I think our chance to explore issues will
pretty much be over when the Democratic convention ends. After that,
it’ll just be who can paint the other opponent as the nastiest person
possible. And if that’s the deterioration of our political debate,
there’s no civil discourse going on with that kind of a candidate. So,
I’m really hesitant to say that, you know, maybe he’ll mature, maybe
he’ll get better, maybe—I mean, I think he knows exactly why he is
popular: because he isn’t mature, because he doesn’t get better. He
just says outrageous things and uses it.
Yes, indeed - and they don't just talk about
each other's wives but also about the sizes of their cocks, in an
indirect fashion, but that is what they did. And besides, to
speak of a man of 69 as if "maybe he’ll
mature" is just stupid: If his character is
as he displays
it in public, he will not mature (and probably will be worse if
he is elected as president, for that will strongly increase his grandiose narcissism).
There is more on the subject of Trump's sanity in item 4,
and there also is considerably more text in this item on
Donald Trump Has Really Lost His Mind: What If the GOP Frontrunner
Isn't Crazy, but Simply Not Well?
The fourth item
is by Sophia A. McClennen on AlterNet and originally on Salon:
This is an interesting piece that asks a
question - How sane is Donald Trump? - that I have asked myself repeatedly
since I have seen videos from his speeches.
To start with, here is Sophia McClennen (immediately after quoting an astounding
bit of utter nonsense from Trump, that also totally avoided
question he was posed, and that contained a lot of bad grammar):
We have become so accustomed to
these sorts of ramblings that we don’t really register them as anything
more than standard nonsensical Trump-speak—a pattern of speech we have
seen crop up across the GOP in recent years, most notably in
Palin’s gibberish. But I urge you to re-read the exchange
above and register the range of nonsense—the lack of basic grammar, the
odd syntax, the abrupt shift in topic, the disconnect from reality, the
paranoia, and the seeming inability to even grasp the question.
I will not quote the Trump quotation
it out for
yourself if you wish by clicking on the last dotted link) but Sophia
McClennen is quite correct about
"the range of nonsense—the lack
of basic grammar, the odd syntax, the abrupt shift in topic, the
disconnect from reality, the paranoia, and the seeming inability to
even grasp the question"
This is also as I found Trump's speeches to
be when I checked - and I admit I am not very patient with
idiocies. We shall arrive at a guess about Trump's mental gifts
But this also poses another question, which is not
dealt with by Sophia
McClennen, and which is quite serious:
What does Trump's present popularity, in spite or because of the lack
of basic grammar, the odd syntax, the abrupt shifts in topic, the
paranoia and the apparent inability to grasp or to rationally answer
many questions in his speeches, teach us about his American
Nothing good, for he makes idiotic speeches full of false accusations
and in very bad grammar, but nevertheless he is hugely popular,
which means that most of those he convinced are quite stupid, quite
uneducated, and very ignorant.
And that is a very basic problem, if only because it is
possible that a person like Trump can
win the presidential
elections, which is going to be a disaster if it happens. 
Back to Donald Trump and the qualities of his mind (no doubt
in history if he were asked, or one of the greatest if he remembers
As we scratch our heads and
wonder how someone who says and does such things can still be a
frontrunner, I want to throw out a concern. What if Trump isn’t “crazy”
but is actually not well instead? To put it differently: what if his
campaign isn’t a sign of a savvy politician channeling Tea Party
political rhetoric and reality TV sound bites? What if it’s an example
of someone who doesn’t have full command of his faculties?
Yes, indeed - and I am a
psychologist, and my
judgement of Trump is that he is not
sane. I am rather sure he is a grandiose
narcissist, but I also think
that is more a quality of his behavior than an explanation of
his mental abilities.
I cannot explain his mental abilities because I don't know enough about
them (which also includes not knowing the difference between
public personality and his private one) but I do know that (1) he knows
remarkably little about the things a president ought
to know a lot
about, and (2) he is definitely not intellectually bright.
In precisely what sense he is not sane I also cannot say, but judging
by his crazy speeches (also whether or not he means what he says) he may
be sane enough to be a billionaire but not to be President of the
You need to know a lot more than Trump does; you need to
have far better self-control; you need to be far more polite;
and you need to be a far more rational
person (at least) than Trump is, to start to be able to function
tolerably as president.
Finally, here is a bit of possible explanation for Trump's mental
October, Death and Taxes ran a piece wondering if Trump had dementia.
They pointed to the fact that Trump’s father, Fred, was diagnosed with
Alzheimer’s six years prior to his death. They also highlighted Trump’s
aggressive late-night tweets, his childish behavior, his name-calling
and mood swings. They explained that it would be really easy for Trump
take some tests and prove that he is mentally fit. “Because if Trump
can prove he’s not suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder
that has left him with a damaged mind devoid of all shame or
self-awareness, he might just be an asshole.”
Yes, indeed. But I do not know
might explain everything or indeed most things that are mentioned in
the quotation, although I am rather familiar with one case of
My mother did get Alzheimer in her late sixties, which was serious
enough  by the time she was 73 to have her
rapidly taken in an
people's home because she simply could not take proper care of herself
anymore - but I do not know whether Trump has the same disease
her late sixties my mother was also plagued by a lot of tiredness,
which doesn't seem to bother Trump).
In any case, this is an interesting and recommended article.
Snowden Revelations Led
to 'Chilling Effect' on Pursuit of Knowledge: Study
The fifth and last item for today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I say, for I did not know, and this is both
revealing and quite frightening. Here is some more detail about what
National Security Agency (NSA)
whistleblower Edward Snowden's 2013 mass surveillance revelations
caused a drop in website browsing, particularly in internet searches
for terms associated with extremism, an example of the most direct
evidence yet that the spying operations exposed in the leak had a
"chilling effect" on the lawful pursuit of information, an
impending report has found.
The paper, due to be published in the Berkeley
Technology Law Journal, argues that the curtailing of browsing for
words like "al-Qaeda," "jihad," "Iraq," and "nuclear enrichment" shows
that people have become scared to learn about "important policy
matters" due to the fear of government surveillance.
Researchers found "compelling evidence
for chilling effects associated with online surveillance," as well as
"important insights about how we should understand such chilling
effects and their scope, including how they interact with other
dramatic or significant events (like war and conflict) and their
broader implications for privacy, U.S. constitutional litigation, and
the health of democratic society," the paper states.
Lead author Jonathan Penney, a
PhD candidate at Oxford, analyzed Wikipedia traffic in the months
before and after Snowden's 2013 revelations. He found a 20 percent drop
in page views of Wikipedia articles on terrorism, particularly those
that mentioned car bombs, the Taliban, or al-Qaeda.
That is a considerable difference.
The article ends as follows:
Quite so. And this is a recommended
In March 2015, the ACLU also filed a lawsuit
against the NSA and the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of
Wikipedia's parent organization and other groups, which argues that
mass surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee against
"By tapping the backbone of the
Internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy," Lila
Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said at the
time. "Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and
information. By violating our users' privacy, the NSA is threatening
the intellectual freedom that is a central to people's ability to
create and understand knowledge."
is also: I agree with Noam Chomsky, who said the same.
happened because she did take a test,
which showed she remembered extremely
little, which also included not knowing anymore who my younger brother
is (who did then already live ten years outside Holland, but even so:
it was quite amazing she did not know who he is), whereas up to
her middle sixties she had been intellectually quite bright and had a
fine memory. From then on it got worse and worse, although she didn't
say much and also did not complain.