A. Selections from July 27, 2017
This is a Nederlog of
Thursday, July 27,
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 27, 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:
Green on the "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump & the
Storming of the Presidency"
This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the
following introduction (and is the first of three connected
interviews with Joshua Green):
We turn now to
look at the man many credit with helping Donald Trump become president:
Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News. During the early days
of the Trump presidency, many suggested Bannon, Trump’s chief
strategist, was pulling many of the strings in the Oval Office. We
speak to journalist Joshua Green about how Bannon took his hard-right
nationalist politics from the fringes of the Republican Party all the
way to the White House. Green has been closely following Bannon’s
career for years. In October 2015—before Bannon joined Trump’s
campaign—Green dubbed Bannon the "Most Dangerous Political Operative in
America." His new book is "Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump,
and the Storming of the Presidency."
So in fact this is about Seve
Bannon. Here is a little more on him:
So, Josh, talk about the
rise of Donald Trump and why you think Steve Bannon was so key. Perhaps
if there hadn’t been a Steve Bannon, there wouldn’t be a President
GREEN: That’s my
contention in the book. And I think that the best way to understand
this election, to understand what happened and how a guy like Trump
wound up in the White House, and really to understand the forces that
are roiling our politics and producing such extreme and unusual things,
as we see literally every day now in the Trump administration—to
understand that, you have to understand Steve Bannon. To me, he is the
narrative thread that runs through not just the rise of Trump, but the
rise of this whole right-wing populist, nationalist politics that he
has been espousing ever since I first met him in 2011.
There is considerably
more in the interview(s) that is/are recommended.
Trillion-Dollar ‘National Security’ Budget
This article is by William
D. Hartung on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. It starts as
Yes indeed, and this
review is quite well done. Here is one bit of it, that I mostly
list to have a survey of names of the American spies:
You wouldn’t know it,
based on the endless cries for more money coming from the military,
president, but these are the best of times for the Pentagon.
Spending on the Department of Defense alone is already well in excess
of half a trillion dollars a year and counting. Adjusted for
inflation, that means it’s higher
than at the height of President Ronald Reagan’s massive buildup of the
1980s and is now nearing the post-World War II funding peak. And
yet that’s barely half the story. There are hundreds of billions
of dollars in “defense” spending that aren’t even counted in the
Under the circumstances,
laying all this out in grisly detail—and believe me, when you dive into
the figures, they couldn’t be grislier—is the only way to offer a
better sense of the true costs of our wars past, present, and future,
and of the funding that is the lifeblood of the national security
state. When you do that, you end up with no less than 10
categories of national security spending (only one of which is the
Pentagon budget). So steel yourself for a tour of our nation’s
trillion-dollar-plus “national security” budget.
There is considerably
more in the article, that is recommended.
The United States government has 16
separate intelligence agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA); the National Security Agency (NSA); the Defense Intelligence
Agency; the FBI; the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and
Research; the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence
Analysis; the Drug Enforcement Administration Office of National
Security Intelligence; the Treasury Department Office of Intelligence
and Analysis; the Department of Energy Office of Intelligence and
Counterintelligence; the National Reconnaissance Office; the National
Geospatial Intelligence Agency; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance,
and Reconnaissance; Army Military Intelligence; the Office of Naval
Intelligence; Marine Corps Intelligence; and Coast Guard Intelligence.
Add to these the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
(ODNI), which is supposed to coordinate this far-flung intelligence
network, and you have a grand total of 17 agencies.
The U.S. will spend more than $70 billion on
intelligence this year, spread across all these agencies. The
bulk of this funding is contained in the Pentagon budget—including the
budgets of the CIA and the NSA (believed to be hidden under obscure
line items there).
Trump Prepares to Fire Mueller, the Rule of Law Has Never Been Weaker
This article is by
Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
As President Trump drops
increasingly broad hints that he believes he is above the law, Congress
and the public face an impending crisis that will test whether the
Republican Party is more loyal to Trump or to the rule of law. The
crisis is all but certain, and the outcome is very much in doubt.
In talking up his "complete
power" of pardon, humiliating Attorney
General Jeff Sessions, and denigrating
special prosecutor Robert Mueller, Trump has made clear that he doesn’t
believe any investigation of his campaign’s contacts with the Russian
government is legitimate. “A special counsel should never have been
appointed in this case,” Trump told the New
closing in on his friends and family, time is not on Trump’s side. But
the weakness of the rule of law is.
Trump understands that Mueller’s investigation is a mortal threat to
his presidency, which is why he is looking for the earliest opportunity
to fire him. And the obstacles he faces are not insurmountable, at
least from the White House's point of view.
Quite possibly so.
And indeed I do believe that a megalomaniac like Trump does
believe he is beyond all law, while I also think that the vast
mjority of the Republicans will keep supporting him.
We will see what
Trump Tweets Reveal 'Neurotic' and 'Unstable' Leader
This article is by Andrea
Germanos on Common Dreams. This is part of the article, and shows why I
tend not to like "psychological" or "cognitive science" types
- MM] also compared Trump's tweets with those of over 100 CEOs and
entrepreneurs including Google's Eric Schmidt, HP's Meg Whitman,
Tesla's Elon Musk, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
I am sorry, but 40 years
of studying "psychology" and "cognitive science" have taught me that
his manner of pretentious bullshit - investigating 100
Tweets?!?! - is utter baloney. This is not science but pseudoscience.
"We looked at Twitter
tweets and employed a new method that uses machine learning and other
computer science methods to analyze characteristic language styles,
contents, and patterns that together can reveal remarkably valid
information on a person’s personality profile," Obschonka explained in
a press statement.
personality, they found, stood apart from those in the other group, as
it has characteristics that more strongly match the personality traits
economist Joseph Schumpeter laid out in the 1930s as being markers of a
successful entrepreneurs—they're competitive and creative, and also
"We also found Trump
scored relatively high in neuroticism. Being high in this trait means
being emotionally unstable and having trouble controlling urges," Fisch
"So in the end," added
Obschonka, "it seems that we could identify a personality pattern in
Trump that makes him so distinct from the superstar entrepreneurs and
CEOs in that he really seems to resemble a type of an emotionally
the World Defend Itself from Omnicide?
is by Ralph Nader, on his site. This starts as follows:
Notice how more
frequently we hear scientists tell us that we’re “wholly unprepared”
for this peril or for that rising fatality toll? Turning away from such
warnings may reduce immediate tension or anxiety, but only weakens the
public awareness and distracts us from addressing the great challenges
of our time, such as calamitous climate change, pandemics, and the rise
of a host of other self-inflicted disasters.
Yes indeed, and these are
some of the reasons - there are many more - why I am quite pessimistic.
And here are some warnings about rising and looming risks:
Note "legally prescribed" and "the US’s deadliest drug overdose crisis ever". Incidentally, this also shows how very bad
most psychiatrists are for those trusting their health to them.
- The opioid epidemic is
here now, and poised to become further exacerbated. It is the US’s
deadliest drug overdose crisis ever, taking over 1000 lives a week.
Even that figure is underestimated, according to a report by the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These fatalities, many of them
affecting people in the prime of their life, stem from legally
prescribed drugs taken to relieve chronic pain. Tragically ironic!
Here is Ted Koppel quoted on another major risk:
blackout lasting not days but weeks or months. There would be no
running water, no sewage, no electric heat, refrigeration, or light.
Food and medical supplies would dwindle. Banks would not function. The
devices we rely on would go dark. The fact is, one well-placed attack
on the electrical grid could cripple much of our infrastructure.
Leaders across government, industry and the military know this…yet
there is no national plan for the aftermath.”
Indeed. And this is from the end of this article:
educational systems – from Harvard Law School, MIT to K-12 – are not
rising to these occasions for survival. Our mass media, wallowing in
trivia, entertainment, advertisements and political insults, is not
holding the politicians accountable to serious levels of public trust
and societal safety.
Quite so. And this
is not an optimistic view, but it seems to me quite realistic.