A. Selections from July 20, 2017
This is a Nederlog of
Thursday, July 20,
2017. There will be some news later today (or tomorrow) about an update
of my Dutch autobiography.
This is a
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will
continue with it, but on the moment
I have several problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.
explained, the crisis files will have a different
format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items
I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one
selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit
of a taste of the item linked.
So the new format is as follows:
Link to an item with its orginal title,
One selection from that item (indented)
Possibly followed by a brief comment by
me (not indented).
This is illustrated below, in selections A.
2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from
July 20, 2017
items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign
This is by Glenn
Greenwald and Ryan Grim on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
of political speech and activism against Israel has become
one of the gravest
threats to free speech in the West. In France, activists have been arrested
and prosecuted for wearing T-shirts advocating
a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted
a series of measures designed
to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors
with one another over who can implement the most extreme
regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed
even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards
as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian
students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so
commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it
as “the Palestine
Exception” to free speech.
But now, a group of 43
senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — wants to implement a law
that would make it a felony for Americans to support the
international boycott against Israel, which was launched in
protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The
two primary sponsors of
the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob
Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment:
Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil
penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million
and 20 years in prison.
I say. Well... if
this gets accepted (as it very well may be: the Senate is largely
bought by the rich) that's the end of free speech: If you can
get jailed for 20 years for expressing your opinion on a T-shirt,
that's the end of all free speech. (One rarely gets as much as
that for murder in Holland, at least till now.)
There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.
on Verge of Collapse as Israel Sends 2.2M People "Back to Middle Ages"
in Electricity Crisis
This is by Amy
Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts as follows (and shows why people
may be for boycotting Israel):
restrictions have limited electricity in Gaza to barely four hours a
day, creating a humanitarian catastrophe for its 2 million residents.
In 2012, the World Health Organization warned that Gaza would be
uninhabitable by 2020. The U.N. now says the area has already become
unlivable, with living conditions in Gaza deteriorating faster than
expected. We go directly to Gaza to speak with Raji Sourani, an
award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian
Center for Human Rights in Gaza. We also speak with Tareq Baconi,
author of the forthcoming book, "Hamas Contained: The Rise &
Pacification of Palestinian Resistance." He is a policy fellow at
Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network.
Here is one quotation from
We welcome you to Democracy
Now!, Raji. Can you talk about what is happening right now in Gaza?
SOURANI: Well, it’s the
50th anniversary of belligerent, criminal Israeli occupation, and it’s
11 years since the siege on Gaza has been imposed, which is illegal,
inhuman and consists collective punishment. And at this moment, I mean,
the siege on the peak, we are living the biggest man-made disaster. And
as the Israelis promised, rightly, they will send us to the Middle
Ages, and they do—Gaza completely disconnected from the outside world,
subjugated during this period to three offensives by Israeli. In the
eye of the storm were civilians and civilian targets. And after all
these years, we are unable to rebuild or reconstruct most of these
The last thing, Amy,
we are having, it’s the electricity. Used to be six, seven hours a day.
Now we are having only two hours. And you can imagine the drastic
effect for this on all aspects of life, on medical care, on operations,
on dialysis, on heart surgeries, on people who are suffering, on the
food stuff should be fridged, and so on. All aspects of life in Gaza on
the verge of collapse, and we are sure the worst yet to come, every day
the Israelis bringing evil mind and evil practice to this part of the
I say. There is
considerably more in the article, that is recommended.
Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan to Hijack American
is by Kristin Miller on AlterNet and originally on BillMoyers.com. This
starts as follows:
MacLean has unearthed a stealth ideologue of the American right. Her
book, Democracy in Chains: The
Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,
tells the story of one James McGill Buchanan, a Southern political
scientist and father of “public choice economics.” MacLean details how
this little-known figure has had a massive impact on the ideology of
the far right. None other than Charles Koch looked to Buchanan’s
theories for inspiration. They are libertarian — but with a twist:
bluntly, it “entails restrictions on the freedom of the great majority
in order to protect property rights and the prerogatives of the most
well off.” MacLean shows how this idea can be traced down through the
last 60 years of right-wing politics, starting with Brown v.
The Board of Education and continuing with the Koch brothers’
empire. And she demonstrates that those followers and those in thrall
to the Koch billions are pumping up their fight under the new
Well... these policies
are "libertarian" in the sense of neofascism,
in my sense (see the last link) and also see the above: they are
restricting (bolding added)
"the freedom of
the great majority in order to protect property rights and the
prerogatives of the most well off”)
which is described
in the last link, and whic applies to Donald Trump.
But this is the start of a good interview that is recommended.
Update for Trump Voters
This is by
Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
So after six months, has
he delivered what he promised you?
1. He told you he’d
repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful.” You bought
it. But he didn’t repeal and he didn’t replace. (Just as well: His plan
would have knocked at least 22 million off health insurance, including
many of you.)
2. He told you he’d cut
your taxes. You bought it. But tax “reform” is stalled. And if it ever
moves, the only ones whose taxes will be cut are the wealthy.
3. He told you he’d
invest $1 billion in our nation’ crumbling infrastructure. You bought
it. But his infrastructure plan, which was really a giveaway to rich
investors, is also stalled.
In fact, there are 12
points like the above three. The first ten all have the phrase "You
bought it" and the last two the phrase "You believed it".
I agree (I didn't buy
or believe any of Trump's extra-ordinarily many lies, but then I am not
an American either) and indeed may well go further:
On the evidence of
the last 40 years, the majority of Americans is incapable of
maintaining a real democracy, mostly because they are - proudly -
ignorant and believe the lies and deceptions they were told.
And this is a
What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up and Top-down
This is by Ralph
Nader on Common Dreams and originally on his site. This starts as
follows (and I quote most of the article):
Yes indeed. As I wrote
under the previous article:
The unraveling of a
society’s institutions, stability and reasonable order does not sound
alarms to forewarn the citizenry, apart from economic yardsticks
measuring poverty, jobs, wages, health, savings, profits and other
However, we do have some
signs that we should not allow ourselves to ignore. Maliciousness,
profiteering and willful ignorance on the part of our political and
corporate rulers undoubtedly contribute to worsening injustice. Let’s
consider some ways that we as citizens, far too often, collectively
allow this to happen.
- Democracy is
threatened when citizens refuse to participate in power, whether by not
voting, not thinking critically about important issues, not showing up
for civic activities or allowing emotional false appeals and flattery
by candidates and parties to sway them on important issues. Without an
informed and motivated citizenry, the society starts to splinter.
- If people do not do
their homework before Election Day and know what to expect of
candidates and of themselves, the political TV ads and the plutocrats’
campaign cash will take control of what is on the table and what is off
the table. This leads to the most important changes a majority of
Americans want ending up on the floor.
- Too often, you have a
grievance as a consumer, worker, taxpayer or citizen and you hit the
wall trying to reach someone who should be helping you. Robots, either
nonhuman or human, on the telephone are of little help. Repeated
failure to productively voice one’s grievances leads to alienation,
anxiety and withdrawal, rather than resurgence to demand remedy.
- When a majority of
people think their government doesn’t work for them, but instead serves
the rich and powerful, people begin to forget the good that government
and honest civil servants at all levels do, or can do (see Jacob
Hacker’s 2016 book, American
Amnesia), thereby disregarding their crucial watchdog role as
citizens. In the process, they passively surrender control of
government to the plutocrats and oligarchs – leading to a corporate
state defined by crony capitalism. The military industrial complex and
the corporate welfarists know how to extract dollars for boondoggles
from our government, which is all-too-willing to turn its back on
- When people make up
their minds about an ideology or politician without the facts and
relinquish any willingness to hear alternative views, societies become
polarized. People are stereotyped, the marketplace of ideas goes
bankrupt and instances of incivility and dehumanization increase.
- When people constantly
consume media fueled by violence, political insults, crime and
celebrity misbehavior, rather than giving voice to the good that people
do every day in civil society or to important points of agreement
between liberals and conservatives, the way we relate to news and each
other becomes needlessly skewed. This problem has increased
exponentially in recent years.
- If people of all
backgrounds feel powerless, they will be powerless. This
self-perception stifles democracy and often results in people turning
their blame against one another and ignoring the power structures at
the root of the problem.
- Readers think;
thinkers read. That includes learning from the mistakes of societies
throughout history that wrongly believed that they were impervious to
crumbling from within. In our culture of virtual reality and
Twitter-length propaganda, we all too often forget the valuable lessons
of past mistakes. History is a great teacher, as anyone who has
studied how the bloody World War I was triggered by a teenager
assassinating an archduke in Sarajevo or how a few rulers of autocratic
nations, without institutional civic and political resistance, caused
the deaths of 60 million people in World War II, can attest.
- At this point, some
readers may be wondering about the powerful people who comprise the
Wall Street and Washington supremacists. Aren’t they heavily
responsible for the disintegration of our society’s economic and
political health? Of course. But we citizens, day after day, let them
get away with actions that embolden them further through what they see
as our habitual passivity.
- Supporting good
candidates who so often lose to silver-tongued bad candidates would be
a start. Given what people think of Washington politicians, tens of
millions of voters are choosing bad candidates. They may want to ask
themselves whether the candidates and their rhetoric they bond with are
hiding cruel records and votes against the voters’ own interests. The
Washington Republicans’ current effort to take away or make less
affordable health insurance, even of Trump voters, is a case in point.
And that's it - and I am
On the evidence of
the last 40
years, the majority of Americans is incapable of maintaining a real
democracy, mostly because they are - proudly - ignorant and believe the
lies and deceptions they were told.