A. Selections from August 31, 2017
This is a Nederlog of
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 (usually) from that item
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
August 31, 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:
Disturbing Influence Over Think Tanks
I think they are far too
big, they are very anti-democratic, they are world-wride
monopolies, and they work in actual fact mostly to make the
billionaires that own them even richer and more powerful than they are
article is by Jonathan Taplin on Tne New York Times. It starts as
And that seems to be a
fair summary: Google funds New America; New America criticizes Google;
and then the critic is dismissed for “his repeated refusal to adhere to New America’s standards
of openness and institutional collegiality.”
The first thing you see when you walk into the offices of
the New America Foundation in Washington is the Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab,
a space named after the executive chairman of Google’s parent company.
Google, Mr. Schmidt and his family’s foundation are the principal
funders of that think tank.
On Wednesday, New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter,
issued a statement
saying that Barry Lynn, a pre-eminent scholar there, had been fired for
“his repeated refusal to adhere to New America’s standards of openness
and institutional collegiality.”
What horrible, dangerous act
had Mr. Lynn committed? He wrote a piece for New America’s website in
support of the $2.7 billion fine the European Union levied against
Google for antitrust violations in June. That post fit perfectly with
the work of the Open Markets initiative he lead, which has been one of
the strongest voices in Washington calling for more antitrust scrutiny
of our economy. It’s the platform Mr. Lynn, Matt Stoller and Lina Khan
have used to call for regulatory scrutiny of the tech monopolies like
Google, Amazon and Facebook as these companies increasingly come to
dominate our economy. But Google’s financial power at New America was
apparently such that it could close the group down.
There is more on this in the next item. In this item, Peter Thiel
(<-Wikipedia) is quoted:
In his book “Zero
to One,” the tech investor Peter Thiel writes that companies like
Google lie to protect themselves. “They know that bragging about their
great monopoly invites being audited, scrutinized and attacked. Since
they very much want their profits to continue unmolested, they tend to
do whatever they can to conceal their monopoly — usually by
exaggerating the power of their (nonexistent) competition,” he
explains. There’s evidence that this kind of exaggeration is carried
out by numerous scholars and think tanks funded by Google. According to
a 2017 Wall Street Journal investigative report,
“Over the past decade, Google has helped finance hundreds of research
papers to defend against regulatory challenges of its market dominance,
paying $5,000 to $400,000 for the work.”
I don´t have much faith
in a billionaire like Peter Thiel, but he does describe what monopolies
do. And there is the Wall Street Journal´s evidence that (bolding
added) ¨Google has helped
finance hundreds of
research papers to defend against regulatory challenges of its
And please note these are not just monopolies in one
country: The modern monopolies are worldwide, and may have much
more money than most countries have available.
Again, I think these modern monopolies, together with the
spying terrorism that was instituted and somehow ¨legalized¨ by the
PATRIOT Act (and subsequent legal horrors), and that also was mostly
copied by the modern monopolies that suck up all and any
information about the users of internet to better exploit them, are
the foundations of modern neofascism
(which tends to be ideologically
propounded as ¨neolliberalism¨) that already has achieved that
its major monopolies are richer and more powerful than most countries,
while its major monopolies also seem to know as much (or more) than the
states´ secret services do about almost all of their
These are the beginnings of the creation of neofascism, that started on
9/11/2001 - or at least that is what I think (and without
prejudging who was behind 9/11/2001 ).
And there is more in the article, which is recommended, and ends as
important, the discussion that is beginning to take place on both sides
of the political aisle on whether companies like Google and Amazon are
too big will continue.
Think Tank Fired Google Critics After They Dared Criticize Google
article is by Sam Biddle and David Dayen on The Intercept. It starts as
follows and is about the same subject as the previous
The report of the New
York Times that Biddle and Dayen mention is item 1
above. And as Biddle and Dayen make clear, the ¨crime¨ or the ¨offence¨
that caused the dismissal of Barry Lynn was merely that he
insisted that ¨“U.S.
enforcers should apply the traditional American approach to network
monopoly¨ - that incidentally were far smaller monopolies than
Google or Facebook or Amazon.
The New America
Foundation’s Open Markets group was a rare, loud voice of protest
against Google’s ever-growing consolidation of economic and
technological power around the world. But New America, like many of its
fellow think tanks, received millions in funding from one of the
targets of its anti-monopoly work, and according
to a New York Times report today, pulled the plug after the
company’s chief executive had enough dissent.
After EU regulators fined
Google $2.7 billion earlier this summer, Barry Lynn, who ran the Open
Markets division, cheered the decision, adding that “U.S. enforcers
should apply the traditional American approach to network monopoly,
which is to cleanly separate ownership of the network from ownership of
the products and services sold on that network, as they did in the
original Microsoft case of the late 1990s.” It didn’t take long for
Lynn and his colleagues to suffer the consequences, the Times reports
And here is Biddle and Dayen´s explanation of the reasons why
Barry Lynn was dismissed:
It’s safe to
assume that the likeliest explanation is the most obvious one: Eric
Schmidt, formerly an executive at Sun Microsystems, which itself later
came under intense global antitrust scrutiny, didn’t want his money
paying to promote similar scrutiny for his monopolistic practices. So,
he leveraged his power as head of a company with a market
cap of over $600 billion to get what he wanted (it
wouldn’t be Google’s first time).
New America and Slaughter, however, are most certainly worthy of blame,
apparently caving to pressure — whether it was spoken or didn’t need to
be — from the chief executive of the world’s most powerful technology
firm, a complete dereliction of whatever purpose for being a think tank
is supposed to have.
indeed. And this is a recommended article.
Crisis Unfolding in Houston as Oil & Chemical Industry Spew Toxic
Pollutants into Air
This article is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following
As fallout from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana
continues, at least 30 people have died and more than 17,000 people are
in shelters. Hundreds of thousands are under evacuation orders, and all
past U.S. rainfall records have been shattered. In Texas, a third of
Harris County—which encompasses Houston—is currently underwater.
Houston officials have imposed a mandatory curfew between midnight and
5 a.m. ExxonMobil says Harvey has damaged at least two of its
refineries, causing thousands of pounds of chemicals to be released
into the air. Residents in Crosby, Texas, are being evacuated amid
concerns a chemical factory damaged by Harvey could explode. We speak
with Bryan Parras, organizer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels
campaign and the group Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
this is the first bit of more or less clear information about
effects of hurricane Harvey.
some more, that also shows how Trump serves the interests of Exxon by
switching off the air quality monitors that should protect the lives of
Workers at ExxonMobil’s oil refinery in Baytown said the facility,
quote, "partially sank" after it flooded and that Exxon was authorized
by state environmental officials to release excess emissions while it
shut down. In Beaumont, flooding at another Exxon refinery damaged
equipment that captures sulfur dioxide, causing it to release amounts
that far exceed the company’s permits. This comes as state officials
shut off air quality monitors to protect them from storm-related
damage, and are relying on facilities to self-report any toxic fumes
For - to
continue the argument which I started - ¨to protect [the air quality monitors]
from storm-related damage¨ is propagandistic
that protects the
interests of the rich to maintain their profits, while denying
non-rich any information about the quality of the air they have
breath. (Or that is how I see it.)
Here is some
GOODMAN: And, Bryan,
finally, are you concerned that toxins will be released that have never
been allowed to be released before, using this hurricane, this tropical
storm, as an excuse?
PARRAS: It’s possible.
You know, that’s the really scary part, Amy. We don’t know. We’re at
the behest of the same industries, you know, who are making these
dangerous chemicals. And that’s the most stressful part of these
storms, the unknown and the constant state of stress of what might
And ¨the same industries¨ that ¨are making (..) dangerous chemicals¨ cannot
be controlled anymore by the people who live there, because ¨state officials¨ decided to ¨shut off air quality monitors to protect them
from storm-related damage¨.
I say. And this
is a recommended article.
Media Pals Are Busy Creating a Left-Wing 'Threat' to Balance Out the
Awful Racist Right-Wing Hordes That Threaten Civil Society
This article is by Thom
Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
In these dark
days, an intergenerational warning is in order: Antifa folks, be wary.
They are coming for you.
Some of us have
seen this movie before. In my generation, when I was a teenage member
of MSU’s SDS in the late 1960s, I remember the guy who was always
yelling, “Kill the pigs,” and encouraging us to burn down the ROTC
building on campus. In later years, I heard from old SDS colleagues
that when they sued the police, they learned that the outspoken guy was
a police officer and his friends were informants.
For my dad’s
generation, the right-wing takeover of a protest movement happened in
Germany generations ago, so most Americans don’t even recognize Marinus
van der Lubbe’s name. But the Germans remember well that fateful day 84
years ago: Feb. 27, 1933. And many of them are looking at the
confrontations in our streets and worrying.
First, there is
more on the ¨antifa folks¨ here and here (and until they explain
clearly what they understand by ¨fascism¨ they
insist on calling ¨fa¨
(?!?!) and what they do think about politics,
I don´t believe in them).
And next, because
I am a Dutchman, like Marinus van
der Lubbe (<-Wikipedia) was, while I also had two communist
parents and three anarchist or communist grandparents (and at least
the middle Thirties of the 20th Century), I think it rather likely that
I know more about Van der Lubbe and European Nazism than Thom Hartmann
does. (And I should add that there are not ¨many of them¨ who ¨remember well that fateful day 84 years ago¨ for the simple reason that they need to be at
least 95 or 100 to do so (and both of my parents died before 2000)).
Hartmann´s parallelism between Hitler´s policies and Trump´s
policies is instructive. Here is Hartmann on Hitler (in the early
thirties, almost immediately after he was elected):
"You are now
witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," Hitler
proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out German Parliament
building, surrounded by national media.
"This fire," he
said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the
occasion—"a sign from God," he called it—to declare an “all-out war on
terrorism” and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced
their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil
deeds in their religion.
And, he said,
their fellow travelers —"communists” like the man who’d set the
Reichstag on fire—needed to be tracked down and utterly destroyed.
Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular
leader had pushed through legislation, in the name of combating
terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it, that
suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas
now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be
imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their
lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants and
peek around without homeowners know it, if the cases involved terrorism.
Note that in
the modern USA since the PATRIOT Act the secret services
(there are at least 17 of them) can get (almost) each and any
mail anybody sends to anyone; can imprison
for fifteen years or more without specific charges, and with
very much bound lawyers; can sneak into anyone´s homes without
any warrant simply by the web-cameras that they control secretively;
and anyway may know far more about any private person
than these recall about themselves.
that I have read about private terrorism
(that is real as is state terrorism) does not make clear (i)
terrorism is far more dangerous than private terrorism (ii)
that state terrorism has killed at least 75 million people
in the 20th Century (only counting Hitler´s victims, Stalin´s
victims and Mao´s victims), nor (iii) that the state terrorists use propaganda about private
impose their total grasp of absolutely everyone's ideas,
values, interests, concerns, incomes, mails etc. etc. on the pretense
that this would protect everyone from private terrorism. 
And here is
more on Hitler´s policies:
often included opposition politicians and celebrities who dared speak
out—a favorite target of his regime. He began a campaign to discredit
the press; he called them the Lugenpresse, or "lying press"
(“fake news” in today’s vernacular). The phrase was repeated endlessly
until all the free press was shut down in 1934. By 1935, all the radio
stations and newspapers were owned by wealthy, hard-right friends of
his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough. He reached
out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives of
the nation's largest corporations into high government positions. A
flood of government money poured into
corporate coffers to fight the
war against the “leftist terrorists” lurking within the Homeland, and
to prepare for wars overseas.
narrowly parallels Trump´s policies, who likewise
complains about the lying press, who likewise puts ¨former executives of the nation's largest
corporations¨ - notably: banks (Goldman Sachs) and oil (Exxon) - ¨into
high government positions¨,
and who likewise ¨poured¨ ¨a flood of government money¨ ¨into corporate coffers to fight¨ what Trump calls ¨terrorism¨.
a Van der Lubbe. It is possible, but in fact Trump and the American
state, including Trump´s opponents, succeeded in getting a
great lot further in laws that enable full control of the
civil population than Hitler or Stalin ever got: It seems everyone
is known to secret government programs, that meanwhile have
gathering information on everyone for 16 years already.
And this is a
Same Ol’ Afghan War Fallacies
This article is by Paul R.
Pillar on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
President Trump’s statement
on Afghanistan has numerous shortcomings. It portrays as a
“new strategy” what is instead a familiar kicking of a can down the
road. It combines Trump’s habit of heaping blame on his
predecessors with a warmed-over version of what those predecessors did
Yes, indeed: ¨The very physical distance involved works
against the relevance of foreign havens to terrorist threats against
the homeland.¨ But physical
distances play no role in mythology, and mythology
is what the American people are served by both their governments and
their mainstream media.
It declares a
determination to “win” while leaving one guessing as to exactly what a
win would mean in Afghanistan. It fails to address underlying
problems of governance in that country. It gives no basis for
expecting or even hoping that the U.S. military expedition there will
not go on forever.
Added to these features
is a further notion that Trump shares with many others, including
observers who in other respects are critical of his policy. This
is the idea that there is a direct connection between extremists having
a physical presence in a distant land and the United States facing a
terrorist threat at home.
Trump used the term safe
haven four times in his speech. He declared that the basic
purpose of the military expedition in Afghanistan was, “We must stop
the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten
One hears this same idea
over and over. The current U.S. military commander in Afghanistan,
General John W. Nicholson, Jr., says,
“The requirement to keep pressure on these terror groups to prevent
another attack on our homeland .?.?. fundamentally, that is why we are
here.” Such statements — and not only about Afghanistan — are
minor rephrasing of the old notion of “fight them over there or else
we’ll have to fight them at home.”
That notion is not valid,
and never has been. The very physical distance involved works
against the relevance of foreign havens to terrorist threats against
the homeland. One cannot drive a truck bomb, or even the ingredients
for one, across the Atlantic Ocean.
There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.
I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
 I don´t know who was behind
9/11/2001. And many of the official explanations that I have read are
simply false, while it does seem quite possible to me
that in fact it was set up by the American military. But indeed of this
possibility I also have no proof.
 Incidentally, it is (also) just pretense
that a government´s forces can protect ¨everyone¨ of the
civilian population, or indeed most of them, or even quite a few of
them: There simply is not enough police or military to protect the
majority of any civil population.