Friday, September 1, 2017

Crisis: Weather Underground, Harvey, Monbiot, Big Money, Politicians And Harvey

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 1, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 1, 2017. There is an earlier Nederlog of today, that is not a crisis log but is about my philosophy: On Natural Philosophy.

1. Summary

This is a crisis 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 [1] and with my health.

As I 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, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from September 1, 2017

The 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:

This article is by Dahr Jamail on Truthout. This is from near the beginning:

In 1970, the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), a group that emerged out of Students for a Democratic Society, issued a "Declaration of a State of War" against the US government, and shortly thereafter began carrying out bombings against symbols of US Empire, including even the Pentagon itself. Targeting mostly government buildings and several banks -- and taking care not to injure human beings -- the actions were designed to "bring the war home" in order to highlight imperial injustices against the oppressed, and the egregious violence of US imperialism.

Having interviewed the founding members of this group before, Truthout now brings you their perspectives on the media, why they did what they did, and where they see things going from here in the US and beyond.

In fact, this - ¨the Weather Underground Organization (..) issued a "Declaration of a State of War" against the US government, and shortly thereafter began carrying out bombings against symbols of US Empire¨ - is my reason to review this article, and namely because I do recall them fairly well, from nearly 50 years ago.

And at that time, in the early 1970ies, I still thought myself to be some kind of neo- marxist, in considerable part because I had communist parents and anarchist and communist grandparents (but I gave Marxism up by the end of 1970, which very few did, at that time, although I did not give up being a Leftist, which is again something very few of the quasi-Marxists who ruled the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam in the 1970ies did do: They all became ¨neo-conservatives¨ in 1991, after the collapse of the Dutch Communist Party and after the collapse of ¨socialism¨ and the Soviet Union).

And at that time (late 1969, early 1970) my attitudes to the Weather Underground (<-Wikipedia) happen to be fairly similar to what they are now:

I thought then they were bound to fail (as indeed they did), but I also thought that they were more consistent than many other leftist groups, indeed like Malcolm X or the Black Panther Party were (with whom I also disagreed then).

I must also say that it seems to me these formerly quite violent leftists did - after some time - get much better chances than I got in Holland after I publicly criticizied the quasi-Marxist and later postmodernistic corruptions that ruled the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995 (that destroyed it as a real university) and after I publicly criticisied the sick narko-nazistic policies that the Dutch neofascistic ¨Social Democrats¨ indulged in since 1988 (that sofar earned around 300 billion dollars for the illegal drugsdealers and the politicians that protect these dealers since 1988, but I have no ideas about how the profits are divided).

Perhaps the difference is that they were violent and mostly mistaken, whereas I was non-violent and mostly right?!

In any case, here are a few of their present opinions:

Bernardine Dohrn, one of the co-founders and a leader of the WUO, discussed the media's coverage of the Vietnam War and other liberation movements around the world at that time. What she shared is particularly poignant, given the crisis of the media in the age of President Donald Trump.

She spoke of the US military being keenly aware of the need to control the media's message during the Vietnam War.

"[The Media's role was] so important that the US military learned to never again allow independent journalists into their war zones," Dohrn explained. "[Significantly], the mainstream media never again allowed images of human people, families, women or children who suffer the consequences of US bombings or invasions."

Bernardine Dohrn (<-Wikipedia) is now 75 and was professor of law from 1991 to 2013 (when I was laying sick in bed much of the time after having been - literally - gassed by the illegal drugsdealers that the mayor of Amsterdam had given his ¨personal permission¨ to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor of my house). [2]

And she is right that the last war that the Americans could see on the mainstream media was the war in Vietnam, that also was fought with drafted men (unlike now).
All other wars since then have been mostly kept from American TV-screens, and also from the rest of the media.

According to Gilbert, by 1967 a whole network of small radical papers had a combined readership of roughly 6 million, making up a crucial wing of the movement. Of course, it was therefore ripe for targeting by intelligence agencies.

"An important part of the FBI and police offensive to beat the radical movements was to destroy the radical media, a campaign that's detailed in Geoffrey Rips's UnAmerican Activities," he said.

David Gilbert (<-Wikipedia) is still in jail after having been convicted of three counts of felony murder, but his partner Kathy Boudin (<-Wikipedia) was released in 2003 and is now adjunct professor at Columbia University.

And Gilbert is right that there was ¨
by 1967 a whole network of small radical papers¨ and that these seem mostly to have been destroyed (or else gone down as the leftist climate that was rather prominent between 1967 and 1974 went down).

Bill Ayers, who is married to Dohrn, was also a leader and cofounder of the WUO.

"Empire always, then and now, cloaks itself in the garments of mystification and deceit," Ayers said. "The message from the corporate media was unambiguous: the US loves peace and fights only when it must, and always selflessly in defense of freedom and democracy."

Bill Ayers (<-Wikipedia) who ¨co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group with the intent to overthrow what they saw as imperialism, that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the US Capitol Building, and the Pentagon)¨ - and this was all quoted from Wikipedia - is married to Bernardine Dorhn and is a retired professor of education (and a distinguished professor and university scholar).

But he is right about ¨Empire¨ and about ¨the corporate media¨. Then again, this is the last bit I quote from this article, that thought me, among other things, that these violent revolutionary folks got a considerably better treatment in the USA than this non-violent non-revolutionary scientific and democratic critic got in Holland.

I say.

2. Harvey Live Updates: In Crosby, Texas, Blasts at a Chemical Plant and More Are Feared

This is ¨by The New York Times¨ (not quite a writer, but I suppose many were involved) and it does give a first update on what hurricane Harvey wrought in Texas. It starts as follows, and is a long article:

With drinking water cut off, its river still rising, and most routes in and out of the city flooded, Beaumont suffered the worst of Texas’ hardships on Thursday, and they showed no sign of abating.

Flooding shut down the pumping plants that supply water to Beaumont in the morning, prompting a hospital to transport its patients out of the city, and trucks carrying bottled water struggled to reach the largely isolated city.

The Neches River surged far beyond its banks, into streets, houses and businesses in the city of almost 120,000 people 70 miles east-northeast of Houston, reaching six feet above the previous record by afternoon, the National Weather Service reported. It was projected to rise another foot by Friday afternoon.

Here is a bit more about explosions in chemical plants:

A series of small explosions shook a chemical plant about 25 miles northeast of downtown Houston on Thursday and more blasts were expected, after floodwaters shut down the cooling systems that kept the chemicals stable. Twenty-one emergency workers were treated for exposure to the resulting fumes and smoke, which were described as a lung and eye irritant.

It appeared that the health and safety risk from the plant was limited. But in a region dotted with chemical factories, oil refineries and natural gas plants, the explosions at the Arkema plant near Crosby, Tex., underscore the worries that many people have about the lingering dangers that damage from the storm poses to the region’s infrastructure, economy and health.

And here is some information about how many have been somehow hit by Harvey:

• Tom Bossert, the White House official who is spearheading the administration’s storm response, estimated that 100,000 houses in Texas and Louisiana have been damaged or destroyed, and said Mr. Trump will seek billions in aid in the coming weeks.

• More than 30,000 people remained in shelters in the region. Houston fire officials said they would begin going door to door to search for victims, a process that could take up to two weeks. “The shelter mission is the biggest battle that we have right now,” said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

• FEMA reported that 95,745 people in Texas had been approved for emergency assistance, including rent, repairs and lost property. The agency has so far paid out about $57 million.

There is a whole lot more in the article, that is recommended.

3. George Monbiot: We Can't Be Silent on Climate Change or the Unsustainability of Capitalist System

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It is an interview wit George Monbiot, who was at earlier and better times easier to follow on The Guardian.

This requires a brief excursion:

Since The Guardian´s main concerns has moved from informing the public to maintaining the salaries of its prominent journalists (they don´t tell you, but that is what it seems to come down to), and since it also has made The Guardian uncopiable, and lately even unlinkable (!!), there is considerably less to report from there.

And I am sorry, but I have neither the health, nor the time, nor even the taste to try to undo the many locks this rightist-turned quasi-leftist paper has put on itself. But yes, I do think The Guardian has put itself out of businnes as a serious non-rightist paper.

There is also a much better alternative, that seems to be written by journalists who have been dismissed from The Guardian, and it is here: The Off-Guardian, but indeed it does not have the money The Guardian (still) has.

End of excursion, and happily Monbiot got interviewed on Democracy Now!, that has the following introduction to this interview:

While Houston continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we look at the media silence on the human contribution to the record-breaking storm. British journalist and author George Monbiot wrote that despite 2016 being the hottest year on record, the combined coverage during the evening and Sunday news programs on the main television networks amounted to a total of 50 minutes in all of last year. "Our greatest predicament, the issue that will define our lives, has been blotted from the public’s mind," he wrote. The silence has been even more resounding on climate-related disasters in areas of the world where populations are more vulnerable—most recently, on the devastating floods across the globe, from Niger to South Asia. Over the past month, more than 1,200 people have died amid flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and India. This year’s monsoon season has brought torrential downpours that have submerged wide swaths of South Asia, destroying tens of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals. Meanwhile, in Niger, West Africa, thousands of people have been ordered to leave their homes in the capital Niamey after several days of heavy downpours. We speak with Monbiot, columnist at The Guardian. His book, "Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis," will be out this week.

Note the ¨50 minutes¨ per year that the mainstream media allotted to climate news! And here is Monbiot:


We go now to Oxford in Britain to speak to George Monbiot. He’s a columnist with The Guardian. His book, Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis, is out this week. His latest article for The Guardian is headlined "Why are the crucial questions about Hurricane Harvey not being asked?"

George Monbiot, welcome back to Democracy Now! Well, answer your question.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, because to ask those questions is to challenge everything. It’s to challenge not just Donald Trump, not just current environmental policy. It’s to challenge the entire political and economic system. And it is to recognize that the system which we tell ourselves is the best system you could possibly have, of neoliberal capitalism, which will deliver the optimum outcomes and the best of all possible worlds, actually is destined to push us towards catastrophe, and unless we replace that system with a better one, with something really quite different, then it will destroy us. Instead of making us more prosperous, more comfortable, it will rip apart everything that makes our lives worth living, and result in the deaths of very large numbers of people.

I think Monbiot is right (and ¨neoliberal capitalism¨ is the polite and somewhat dishonest form of the neofascism that has been cultivated since Reagan in rightist and conservative circles in the USA).

There is this on terminology, and specifically on ¨climate change¨:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, quite apart from the fact, George, that the issue of climate change is not mentioned in the media, as you write in your article, you also think that the term "climate change" is misleading, and the term that should be used is "climate breakdown." Could you explain why that is?

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, "climate change" is a curiously bland term to describe our greatest crisis, our huge human predicament, that will inevitably lead to catastrophe if we don’t take drastic action to prevent it. It’s a bit like calling a foreign invasion "unexpected guests." It’s that crazily bland, for something which is going to have such an enormous impact on our lives, and, as we’ve just been hearing, has already had such an enormous impact on many people’s lives around the world. And unless you use the right language to describe what you’re talking about, you mislead people as to what the likely implications of that are.
I think Monbiot is quite right, but then there is very much more misleading, falsifying, or dishonest terminology in the mainstream media, and it will persist as long as the mainstream media last, unfortunately.

And here is the last bit that I´ll quote from this interview, that sketches Monbiot´s ideals:
GEORGE MONBIOT:  (..) We need a radical change, driven by the need to prevent this catastrophe, to both politics and economics. And an economic system which depends on perpetual growth on a finite planet is destined to deliver disaster. We need a new economy built around the commons, built around community ownership of local resources, inalienable ownership of those resources, which are not expected to deliver more and more and more money, but are expected to deliver continued and steady prosperity to the people of those communities and the people of this planet. The system we have at the moment, which is about accumulation, the accumulation of capital, the continuation of growth, in a planet which does not itself grow, that system is destined to push us over the cliff.

I agree, and this is a recommended article.

4. When Big Money Buys Off Criticism of Big Money

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. This starts as follows:

Since its founding in 1999, the New America Foundation – an important voice in policy debates on the American left – has received more than $21 million from Google, from its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and from his family’s foundation.

According to the New York Times, one of New America’s initiatives called Open Markets has been critical of the market power of tech giants like Google. Recently, the researcher who heads that initiative posted a statement on the New America Foundation website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google. 

Schmidt communicated his displeasure to the foundation’s president, who accused the researcher of “imperiling the institution as a whole” and shut down the Open Markets initiative.

The New America Foundation isn’t alone.
Yes indeed (and slightly over a million a year is not much, for a massive billionaire, but this is an aside). Reich proceeds with giving a list of similar cases, and concludes as follows:

The list goes on. 

This is not just a problem created by right-wingers like Koch. Wealthy progressives are exerting as much quiet influence over the agendas of think tanks and universities as wealthy conservatives.

Big money should not be influencing what should be investigated, revealed, and discussed – especially about big money, and the tightening nexus between concentrated wealth and political power.

I agree - but I also think that ¨big money¨ has won most of the fights it conducted since 1980, and now also is enormously assisted by the secret services and by the corporate media that steal enormously much information from ordinary computer users so as to better exploit them.

This is a recommended article.

5. Can the Politicians Heed the Lessons of Hurricane Harvey?

This article is by Ralph Nader on his site. It starts as follows:

Hovering Hurricane Harvey, loaded and reloading with trillions of gallons of water raining down on the greater Houston region—ironically the hub of the petroleum refining industry—is an unfolding, off the charts tragedy for millions of people. Many of those most affected are minorities and low-income families with no homes, health care or jobs to look forward to once the waters recede.

Will this tragedy teach us the lessons that so many politicians and impulsive voters have been denying for so long?

The first lesson is that America must come home: we must end the Empire of Militarism and of playing the role of policeman of the planet. Both of these habitual roles are backfiring and depleting trillions of taxpayer dollars that could be better used toward rebuilding our country’s infrastructure, strengthening our catastrophe-response networks and preparing for the coming megastorms like Hurricane Harvey. A projected trillion dollars being spent by Obama, and now Trump, just to upgrade nuclear weapons will only spur another arms race with Russia and China. This money could be more productively spent protecting Americans from immediate threats, such as natural disasters from man-made climate change.

I think that ¨this tragedy¨ will not ¨teach us the lessons that so many politicians and impulsive voters have been denying for so long¨, but I also think this is unfortunate and that Nader is mostly quite nght in the lessons he draws from Harvey.

And I agree with the first lesson, and also with the second:

Second, Congressional and White House deniers of man-made climate disruption must renounce their dogmatic ignorance and confront the reality in the scientific warnings about the accelerating wrath of a provoked natural world.

And indeed also with the third:

Third, our elected officials must accept that continuing to waste trillions of dollars on corporate subsidies, bailouts, giveaways and lack of enforcement of costly crime—crony capitalism—further weakens our country’s capacity to foresee and forestall omnicidal disasters.

But as I said: Although Nader is right, being right does not mean - alas - that you are successful. And this is a recommended article.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 (!!).

[2] All of this is literary true, as it is to the best of my knowledge, and according to the Parliamentary Van Traa Report of 1996, true that the combined forces of Dutch politicians and Dutch drugsdealers turned over at least 300 billion euros worth of illegal drugs in Holland and Europe.

It is also true that these facts are rarely or never mentioned in the Dutch media (and never correctly) nor anywhere else, and that my life has been seriously and credibly threatened because I opposed the illegal drugsdealers.

But in Holland it seems as if the vast majority agrees with the fascist and neofascistic bullshit that was forced down my throat in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam:
¨Everybody knows that truth does not exist¨
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