A. Selections from September 15, 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 will
continue with it.
On the moment I have problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
September 15, 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:
This article is by
Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the
Today we spend the hour
with the world-famous British musician Roger Waters, founding member of
the iconic rock band Pink Floyd. In recent years, he has become one of
the most prominent musicians supporting BDS,
the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel over
its treatment of Palestinians. Waters is scheduled to play Friday and
Saturday in Long Island, despite attempts by Nassau County officials to
shut down the concerts citing a local anti-BDS
bill. Despite this, Roger Waters has continued to speak out. Last week,
he wrote a piece in The New York Times titled "Congress Shouldn’t
Silence Human Rights Advocates." In the op-ed, he criticized a bill
being considered in the Senate to silence supporters of BDS. Roger Waters joined us in the studio on
I like Pink Floyd since
the late 1960ies, when they also began, but that is indeed because of the
music and it dates back almost 50 years. Then again, I
also agree now, in 2017, with Roger Waters on the BDS
Here is some more on
the BDS movement:
Waters is scheduled to
play on Friday and Saturday nights in Long Island, despite attempts by
Nassau County officials to shut down the concerts, which will take
place at the county-owned Nassau Coliseum. The reason? Water’s
outspoken support for BDS, the Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel over its treatment
of Palestinians. Nassau County officials had claimed the concerts would
violate a local law which prohibits the county from doing business with
any company participating in the economic boycott of Israel.
Waters has also been met
by protests on many other stops on the tour. Ahead of his concert in
Miami, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation took out a full-page ad in
the Miami Herald with the headline "Anti-Semitism and Hatred
Are Not Welcome in Miami."
And this just plain
Waters is not an anti-semite, while "Israel" is definitely (and
since 50 years) anti-Palestinian on basically religious
grounds, that also have grown very much stronger under
Nethanyahu (whom I think is a disastrously bad prime minister).
Here is Roger Waters
on the proposed U.S. bill that would make any protest
against Netanyahu's government an anti-semitic protest - which
I agree is total nonsense:
Yes, I agree with this.
Here is some more:
WATERS: Well, the first
thing that leaps out of that statement is the notion that I might be in
some way anti-Semitic or against Jewish people or against the Jewish
religion or against anything that has Jewishness attached to it,
because I’m not. I’m clearly not. You know, they comb through my past,
and they find it very difficult to substantiate that accusation. But
they use that accusation as they do with anybody who supports BDS or anybody who criticizes Israeli foreign
policy or the occupation. That is their standard go-to response, is to
call you an anti-Semite, to start calling you names, and, hopefully, to
So, guys, I don’t know where you are, but I’m really sorry that you
didn’t bring this out into the open, because it bears discussion that
they’re attempting to take away the First Amendment rights of American
citizens and others.
Well, yeah. As I read it—I haven’t read the complete draft, but—and I
know it sounds ludicrous, but it’s true. There is a bill before
Congress, S 720, which seeks to criminalize support for Boycott,
Divestments and Sanctions, which is a nonviolent international protest
movement to protest the occupation of Palestinian land that’s been
going on for 50 years. And they want to make it a felony to support BDS, as far as I understand it, with criminal
penalties that are, in my view, absurd. Somebody like me, for instance,
if the bill was passed in its current drafting, would be subject to a
fine of between $250,000 and $1 million and a term of imprisonment of
up to 20 years—for peaceful, nonviolent political protest on behalf of
basic human rights for beleaguered people, which is absurd, clearly.
I agree and I also think
that this is a typically totalitarian
policy by - I suppose - the American followers of Nethanyahu. You may or may not agree with the BDS,
but in any case Waters is quite right in saying that (i) the
BDS is a "peaceful,
nonviolent political protest on behalf of basic human rights for
beleaguered people" (viz.
the Palestinians), and that (ii) introducing punishments for supporting
the BDS that amont to a financial punishment and an insane term
of imprisonment (bolding added) of "between $250,000 and $1 million and a term of
imprisonment of up to 20 years" is completely anti- democratic
and (in my opinion) very totalitarian.
There is considerably more in the interview that also is continued on
Democracy Now! with a second part, and this is a recommended article.
Catastrophe: Climate Denial's Price
This article is by
Amy Goodman on Truthdig. This starts as follows:
Sept. 6, 2017, as Houston was reeling from Hurricane Harvey and
millions in Florida and the Caribbean were bracing for Hurricane Irma,
the most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean,
President Donald Trump traveled to Mandan, North Dakota, where he stood
in front of an oil refinery and touted his administration’s role in
slashing environmental protections and promoting the fossil fuel
industry. He hailed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and
Keystone XL, and boasted about withdrawing from the Paris climate
as climate-change-fueled disasters ravaged the U.S., Trump — the man
who called climate change a Chinese hoax — was doing all he could to
ensure future catastrophes.
think that is correct, and indeed I mostly agree with Amy Goodman on
climate change and its major importance.
is some more:
Jan. 24, 2017, four days after assuming the presidency, Donald Trump
signed executive orders to accelerate completion and operation of DAPL,
as well as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which President
Barack Obama had blocked after being confronted for years by mass
protest and civil disobedience. By June 1, ETP claimed in a press
release that the pipeline was “operational,” presumably meaning oil was
flowing through it.
days earlier, The Intercept news website reported on 1,100 pages of
documents it obtained, detailing how a military/intelligence mercenary
group called TigerSwan had been advising ETP and North Dakota law
enforcement for months. The Intercept reported, “TigerSwan discusses
protesters as ‘terrorists,’ their direct actions as ‘attacks,’ and the
camps as a ‘battlefield,’ reveals how the protesters’ dissent was not
only criminalized but treated as a national security threat.”
indeed, and this also seems to be a quite general policy:
that are financed by the American government or by the rich or by
the major corporations seem to have the common policy of accusing
the groups they are opposed to - that are often peaceful and normally
quite legal - of being "terrorists"
(with very little or no foundations). It seems they do this in order to
prosecute or persecute the - generally peaceful and legal -
groups they are opposed to, with their own kinds of - non-peaceful,
often non-legal - terrorism.
is an example:
month, Energy Transfer Partners sued Greenpeace International, Earth
First! and other environmental groups, accusing them of inciting
“eco-terrorism” against the pipeline’s construction. Annie Leonard,
executive director of Greenpeace, countered that the lawsuit is an
attempt “to taint constitutionally protected, science-based free speech
advocacy. They’re trying to criminalize healthy, righteous protest.”
price: the planet.
I basically agree, although the reasons for my agreements are complex
and variegated. There is more in the article, that is recommended.
This article is by
Gilbert Doctorow on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Does the United States
have a future as a great power?
Twenty years ago posing
this question would have seemed absurd. The United States was fully
self- confident about its position as the sole surviving superpower in
the world. It faced virtually no obstacles or objections to its
performance on behalf of the “public good,” a process that supposedly
brought order to the world either through the liberal international
institutions that it helped to create after World War Two and
dominated, or through unilateral action when necessary via “coalitions
of the willing” aimed at bringing down one or another disruptive
malefactor on a regional stage.
Ahem, for I don't
quite agree. First, the initial question is far too vague to be
properly answered ("a future": when? "great power": is what?). And
second, it is simply not true that the United States twenty
years ago "faced
virtually no obstacles or objections to its performance on behalf of
the “public good”" (for
this seems to be based on the exclusion of all non-mainstream news,
twenty years ago).
Then there is this:
Fourteen years ago, when
America prepared for its ill-conceived invasion of Iraq and encountered
loud resistance from France and Germany, backed up by Russia, it became
possible to wonder whether U.S. global hegemony could last. The
disaster that the Iraqi adventure quickly became within a year of
George W. Bush declaring “mission accomplished” rolled on and
progressively diminished the enthusiasm of allies and others hitherto
on the U.S. bandwagon for each new project to re-engineer troublesome
nations, to overthrow autocrats and usher in an age of “liberal
democracy” across the globe.
No, I am sorry: Again
"it became possible to
wonder whether U.S. global hegemony could last" is very much too vague.
Then there is this
(and I am still in the very beginning of this article):
I - more or less - agree
that there is some "dysfunction
of the federal government",
but then again this is, once again, very vague. And while I
agree that "the
extraordinary political power wielded by the very wealthy and the
self-serving policies that they succeed in enacting" are quite problematic, and I also
agree that "the general
public (..) has stagnated economically for decades now", I know both things for a very
long time now, as - I guess - do almost all of my readers.
What has happened over
the past couple of years is that doubts about the competence of the
United States to lead the world have been compounded by doubts about
the ability of the United States to govern itself. The dysfunction of
the federal government has come out of the closet as an issue and is
talked about fairly regularly even by commentators and publications
that are quintessentially representative of the Establishment.
In this connection, it is
remarkable to note that the September-October issue of Foreign Affairs
magazine carries an essay entitled “Kleptocracy in America” by Sarah
Chayes. This takes us entirely away from the personality peculiarities
of the 45th President into the broader and more important realm of the
systemic flaws of governance, namely the extraordinary political power
wielded by the very wealthy and the self-serving policies that they
succeed in enacting, all at the expense of the general public that has
stagnated economically for decades now, setting the stage for the voter
revolt that brought Trump to power.
There are a few good things in the article, but its general
thrust is simply too vague - which incidentally also gets
supported by the last title that Doctorow published ("Does Russia Have
a Future?") and the next title that Doctorow will publish ("Does the United States Have a
You’ve Always Wanted to Know about the Trump-Republican Tax Plan
This article is by
Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Have you noticed that
there’s no Trump tax plan and no Republican tax plan? All they’ve come
up with so far is a bunch of platitudes about how nice it would be to
cut taxes, simplify the tax code, and spur economic growth.
Who doesn’t support these
The reason there’s no tax
plan is congressional Republicans are hopelessly divided on it.
(the “Freedom Caucus” along with what’s left of the Tea Party) are most
interested in reducing the size of the government and shrinking the
federal deficit and debt.
Corporate and Wall Street
Republicans – along with Donald Trump – are most interested in cutting
taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They have the backing the GOP’s
big business donors who stand to make a bundle off tax cuts.
problem. You can’t have a giant tax cut for corporations and the
wealthy, and at the same time shrink the federal deficit and debt –
unless you make gigantic cuts in government spending on things the
American public wants and needs.
Hm. I agree
that the last quoted paragraph holds for real democrats, real
progressives and real liberals, but I much doubt that it holds
for most of the Republicans:
They think it is quite
possible to reduce taxes on the wealthy, and to shrink the
federal deficit and debt, simply because they are willing to "make gigantic cuts in government spending on
things the American public wants and needs".
Here is more on
Trump's proposed tax cuts for the very wealthy and the wealthy:
According to the
Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, Trump’s proposed corporate
tax cuts alone would reduce federal revenue by $2 trillion over 10
Cuts of this size
inevitably have to come out of the federal government’s three biggest
expenditures, together accounting for over two-thirds of total
government spending – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and
Yes indeed. Here is
Yes I agree -
but then again these fact-based rational arguments (that are
both mostly correct and the rational way of
arguing something) have failed and failed again to appeal to or to
convert the large mass of the stupid and the ignorant in the
These numbers put
corporate and Trump Republicans into a bind.
The only way out of it is
to pretend that big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will grow
the economy so fast that they’ll pay for themselves, and the benefits
will trickle down to everyone else.
But if you believe this I
have several past Republican budgets to sell you, extending all the way
back to Ronald Reagan’s magic asterisks.
Trickle-down economics is
one of the few economic theories to have been tested in real life, and
guess what? It failed miserably.
And that is a quite serious problem, for it shows that the
large mass of the people in the USA are not much open to either
rational arguments or to fact-based evidence (as - I remark it
parenthetically, and with reference to The
Century of the Self - has been quite obvious for a
very long time amongst advertisers
(that sell themselves as "public relations")).
But I do belong to the minority that likes rational argument and
factual evidence, so I agree to this:
meaningful measure is taxes paid as a percentage of GDP. On this score,
we’re hardly overtaxed. The United States has the 4th lowest taxes of
any major economy. (Only South Korea, Chile, and Mexico ranking
Yes indeed. And the rich
were already quite rich in the fifties and the sixties. This is
a recommended article.
The wealthiest 1 percent
in the U.S. pay the lowest taxes as a percent of their income and total
wealth of the top 1 percent in any major country – and far lower than
they paid in the U.S. during the first three decades after World War II.
Stock Buybacks—That You Pay For
article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams and originally on his site.
It starts as follows:
The monster of economic
waste—over $7 trillion of dictated stock buybacks since 2003 by the
self-enriching CEOs of large corporations—started with a little noticed
change in 1982 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under
President Ronald Reagan. That was when SEC Chairman John Shad, a former
Wall Street CEO, redefined unlawful ‘stock manipulation’ to exclude
Then after Clinton pushed
through congress a $1 million cap on CEO pay that could be deductible,
CEO compensation consultants wanted much of CEO pay to reflect the
price of the company’s stock. The stock buyback mania was unleashed.
Its core was not to benefit shareholders (other than perhaps hedge fund
speculators) by improving the earnings per share ratio. Its real
motivation was to increase CEO pay no matter how badly such burning out
of shareholder dollars hurt the company, its workers and the overall
pace of economic growth. In a massive conflict of interest between
greedy top corporate executives and their own company, CEO-driven stock
buybacks extract capital from corporations instead of contributing
capital for corporate needs, as the capitalist theory would dictate.
I say! First note
that this involved no less than 7.000.000.000.000 dollars, and
next note that these dollars were spend on what was until 1982 unlawful
And indeed I agree with
Nader that the real goals were (i) "to increase CEO pay no matter how badly such burning out of
shareholder dollars hurt the company, its workers and the overall pace
of economic growth", and (ii) to
give the CEOs not only far more money for themselves
but also far more power for themselves
over the companies they are CEOs for.
Here is more Nader (with
some bolding by me):
Yes, due to the
malicious, toady SEC “business judgement” rule, CEOs can take
trillions of dollars away from productive pursuits without even
having to ask the companies’ owners—the shareholders—for approval.
What could competent
management have done with this treasure trove of shareholder money
which came originally from consumer purchases? They could have invested
more in research and development, in productive plant and equipment, in
raising worker pay (and thereby consumer demand), in shoring up shaky
pension fund reserves, or increasing dividends to shareholders.
But instead they
wanted to increase their own wealth, and they were allowed to
do so by what until 1982 was unlawful ‘stock manipulation’.
Here is one of its
consequences spelled out:
The leading expert on
this subject—economics professor William Lazonick of the University of
Massachusetts—wrote a widely read article in 2013 in the Harvard
Business Review titled “Profits Without Prosperity” documenting
the intricate ways CEOs use buybacks to escalate their pay up to 300 to
500 times (averaging over $10,000 an hour plus lavish benefits) the
average pay of their workers. This compared to only 30 times the
average pay gap in 1978. This has led to increasing inequality and
stagnant middle class wages.
That is: The CEOs and
only the CEOs got enormously rich (and
incidentally they awarded themselves per hour what I
get in a whole year in income).
Here is Nader's
explanation - that in fact also cover 37 years of exploitations
that almost only benefitted the CEOs and the very rich:
Presently, hordes of
corporate lobbyists are descending on Washington to demand deregulation
and tax cuts. Why, you ask them? In order to conserve corporate money
for investing in economic growth, they assert. Really?! Why, then, are
they turning around and wasting far more money on stock buybacks, which
produce no tangible value? The answer is clear: uncontrolled executive
By now you may be asking,
why don’t the corporate bosses simply give more dividends to
shareholders instead of buybacks, since a steady high dividend yield
usually protects the price of the shares? Because these executives have
far more of their compensation package in manipulated stock options and
incentive payments than they own in stock.
Yes indeed. And this
is a recommended article.
 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 (!!).