Friday, September 22, 2017

Crisis: Drone Strikes,  Nuclear War, History, Concentration Camps, Regressing USA

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 22, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 22, 2017.

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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from September 22, 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 Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The Trump administration is preparing to dismantle key Obama-era limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations. The changes would lay the groundwork for possible counterterrorism missions in countries where Islamic militants are active but the United States has not previously tried to kill or capture them.
I say - and I think this is deeply criminal. My reason is not just my taste but this (and I quote, from another source than this article):
UN Charter, Article 2:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
In fact, this is also why Donald Trump´s speech to the UN was criminal, but that is an aside, here and now.

Here is how Trump likes to expand his possibilities to commit state terrorism:
President Trump’s top national security advisers have proposed relaxing two rules, the officials said. First, the targets of kill missions by the military and the C.I.A., now generally limited to high-level militants deemed to pose a “continuing and imminent threat” to Americans, would be expanded to include foot-soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles. And second, proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting.
In fact, this seems to level down the murdering by drones, in foreign countries that the USA claims it is not at war with, to decisions by some military men involved in the very war that one can´t call ¨war¨ on the American mainstream media.

And besides: The first ¨rule¨ seems mostly propaganda since in drone killings every human being who is killed or wounded and over 18 or 21 years of age is - without any investigations whatsoever - branded as ¨a terrorist¨ (fit to be murdered from the air by the American state terrorists), while the second ¨rule¨ seems designed to take the responsibilities from the American president and hand it to the American generals, who anyway are hardly controlled and utter almost only propagandese, in public.

There is this, which seems a lie to me:
But administration officials have also agreed that they should keep in place one important constraint for such attacks: a requirement of “near certainty” that no civilian bystanders will be killed.
This does seem a lie to me simply because I have seen scores of journalists´ articles who say that this ¨near certainty¨ is simply reached by declaring everybody who gets killed or wounded by a drone ¨a terrorist¨. Since this has been happening for a long time, the rule is complete propaganda.

Here is the USA´s killing president Trump quoted:

“The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms,” he said. “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”

He speaks as if he feels like the Al Capone of the world: He will have his revenge, and damn the international laws, treaties, and agreements.

And this is a recommended article.

2. Jeff Sachs Warns "Nuclear War is a Real Threat" as Trump Threatens to "Totally Destroy" North Korea

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! This starts with the following introduction:

On Tuesday, President Trump gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, boasting about the size of the U.S. military and threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea. "[N]uclear war is a real threat," says Jeffrey Sachs, leading economist and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. "It’s not some idle imagination right now. You have two leaders — both seem unstable — yelling at each other. Both have nuclear arms."

Yes indeed. And since I am a psychologist, I´d like to stress that in my eyes to describe both as ¨unstable¨ is a considerable understatement: I think both are mad, in a psychologist´s or psychiatrist´s terms (although these will also tend to use more polite and more propagandistic terms).

Here is some more on the background:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The United States has great strength and patience. But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

AMY GOODMAN: North Korea’s ambassador walked out of the U.N. General Assembly just as Trump took the podium. Iran’s government condemned Trump’s remarks as "shameless and ignorant," while the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, said from Caracas Trump is the "new Hitler" of international politics.
For more, we’re joined by Jeffrey Sachs, university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Professor Sachs is a leading economist, author of many books, including Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable. The book’s foreword is by Bernie Sanders.
Please mind that Donald Trump threatened to blow up, by nuclear arms, four times as many persons as were murdered in the Jewish Holocaust in WW II and about half as many persons as were murdered in WW II.

Next, here is Jeffrey Sachs (<-Wikipedia):

AMY GOODMAN: So, you were there at the time that President Trump gave his first U.N. address before the General Assembly. Start with North Korea and take it from there.

JEFFREY SACHS: Horrifying. Of course, there was a shudder in the room. No president of the United States has declared from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly that the U.S. is ready to totally destroy a country. It was absolutely shocking. And the whole speech was grotesque, in my view.


JEFFREY SACHS: Because it was militaristic. It was filled with grievance, with bias, with ignorance. Trump is a very dangerous man. There’s no question about it. He individually a very dangerous man, and the United States right now is a very dangerous country.

Also it was illegal by the norms of the United Nations: See here for the proof. Here is more Jeffrey Sachs:

JEFFREY SACHS: First, we have to avoid a nuclear war. And a nuclear war is a real threat. It’s not some idle imagination right now. You have two leaders—both seem unstable—yelling at each other. Both have nuclear arms. Seoul, South Korea, is a few minutes—moments away from the North Korean arms. We’re—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, President Trump has been attacking the North Korean president, the South Korean president, as well.

JEFFREY SACHS: I’ve heard people say, "Well, South Korea, that would be collateral damage." It’s unbelievable the way people are talking right now and how close we are to disaster and how complacent we are, because it’s unimaginable. Now, I’m not saying it’s inevitable, but I am saying it is absolutely being pushed right now recklessly. And, of course, what first needs to happen is to tamp down this kind of absolutely dangerous, provocative rhetoric.

As to South Korea (<-Wikipedia): It has 54 million inhabitants. So president Trump may be considering to blow up 54+24=78 million persons in Korea, by nuclear arms.

This is more than were killed in World War II between 1937 and 1945, for that took over 61 million civilian deaths and over 12 million military deaths, which sums to over 73 millions, which is still 5 million less than the populations of North and South Korea (both of which will be blown up if a nuclear war gets started - and that is then also the very minimal cost in human lives).

Here is a final bit by Jeffrey Sachs:

JEFFREY SACHS: I don’t know if it’s to distract attention or whether he is just psychologically profoundly unstable—and he is—or just ignorant, which he is, or vicious and biased and stereotyping and without historical knowledge, which he is all of those things. So I don’t know what it will be. But I do know that the United States has a war tendency, and it is restrained only at the top, actually. And here you have a president who is egging on, provoking, himself unstable, without attention span. It’s extraordinarily dangerous.

And where is the Congress? Not one word by our Congress. It’s a disgrace, because under our Constitution, Congress has the only authority to declare war, and our Congress is useless, as we know, in this, because they’ve just ceded the authority to an imperial presidency. And now we have a president completely unfit and absolutely provocative every day.

I agree with Jeffrey Sachs (as a psychologist, also) that Trump seems to me to be all of (I quote) ¨psychologically profoundly unstable (..) ignorant (..) vicious and biased and stereotyping and without historical knowledge¨.

And I also agree with Sachs that the American Congress seems dead, since 9/11/2001: The wars of the presidents are their concern, or so it seems, and Congress - that indeed ¨
has the only authority to declare war¨ is silent since more than 16 years.

There is more in this article, which is strongly recommended.

3. The Killing of History

This article is by John Pilger (<-Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, “The Vietnam War,” has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam War in an entirely new way.”

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism,” Burns’s “entirely new” Vietnam War is presented as an “epic, historic work.” Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans.” Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I merely observe here that John Pilger knows very much about Vietnam and Cambodia, has been there when the wars happened, and made many documentaries about both countries (back in the 1970ies and 1980ies and later).

Here are some of Pilger´s opinions on this new American TV series and its real background:

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans – it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences. In the series’ press release in Britain — the BBC will show it — there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans.

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying. How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the Twentieth Century: from “The Green Berets” and “The Deer Hunter” to “Rambo” and, in so doing, has legitimized subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy.” Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

Yes indeed. (And postmodernists neither acknowledge nor understand the differences between truth and falsity: They deny either exists. All there is are texts and interpretations: there are no facts, no truths, and no falsities whatsoever.)

Here is some more about Pilger´s experiences in Vietnam:

I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites.”

And here Pilger connects what happened in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960ies and 1970ies of the previous century with what is happening now around North Korea:

Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said, “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on Sept. 19 – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual. His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Yes indeed - and 80 million people killed is also more than all the people killed in World War II.

Here is the last bit that I´ll quote from this article:

What is known in the U.S. as “the Left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to prevent a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup.

I agree with Pilger about what he calls ¨the Left¨, although I call it ¨the left¨ since the late 1970ies, simply because ¨the left¨ has hardly anything in common with the real Left, in which my parents and grandparents were very active (and very courageous: both of my parents and my father´s father were in the - real - resistance in WW II, which in fact was true of at most 50.000 Dutchmen).

And I also agree with Daniel Ellsberg (<-Wikipedia) that what happened in the USA, although it did take almost forty years since 1980, was a coup by the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies (that now know approximately everything about nearly anyone with an internet connection): The Deep State aka the military-industrial complex runs the wars and most of the present American politics (as can be seen from more than a year of still completely unproved allegations about ¨Russia-gate¨, that nevertheless are served over and over again on the American mainstream media).

This is a recommended article.

4. A Look at the Global History of Concentration Camps, from Pre-WWII to the Ongoing Rohingya Crisis

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction (and is part 2 of this interview):

Journalist and author Andrea Pitzer joins us for an extended discussion of current events and her new book, "One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps."

I am interested in a global history of concentration camps, because my grandfather was murdered in a German concentration camps (because he resisted the Nazis) and my father survived more than three years and nine months of German concentration camps for the same reason.

Also, I first want to make a remark on Wikipedia, that seems to be rapidly growing worse and worse (and see here): They now make the Nazi concentration camps the only form of what they call ¨concentration camps¨ - everything else (or so it seems) they now desire to call ¨internment camps¨, which they define as follows (and they explictly say now under ¨Internment¨: ¨

It seems to follow only the Germans and the British locked people up in what Wikipedia calls ¨concentration camps¨, without ever defining them. ¨Internment¨ gets defined as follows, on the present Wikipedia (quoted minus note numbers):

Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects".

Interned persons may be held in prisons or in facilities known as internment camps. In certain contexts, these may also be known either officially or pejoratively, as concentration camps.

Internment also refers to a neutral country's practice of detaining belligerent armed forces and equipment on its territory during times of war under the Hague Convention of 1907.
I say. (I hope and trust all ¨ïnterned¨ persons were well fed and not harmed. [2])

Here is some more from this interview:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: (...) So, you’ve just written this long history, a history—a comprehensive history of concentration camps. Now, many people believe that concentration camps came to an end with the Second World War, but your book, of course, tells a different story. So could you explain what defines a concentration camp and where they exist today?

ANDREA PITZER: Sure. So, a concentration camp, there are a lot of different ideas of them, and so one of the things I tried to do for the book was come up with a real working definition. And for my book, what I chose was the idea of mass civilian detention without trial. And I particularly tried to focus on examples where it also went outside of the legal norms of the place. So, even if it wasn’t a democracy, they had some kind of legal system, so something that went—did an end run around that. And people think, again, that in 1945, that this ended. But really, in some ways, I think the idea of these death camps that had happened were almost a reset button, because then that became what a concentration camp was, and anything less than that somehow then wasn’t a concentration camp, even though there had been decades of other kinds of camps that had had that label before.

As you can check for yourself, Andrea Pitzer calls ¨concentration camps¨ what the Wikipedia insists are not ¨concentration camps¨, although they use basically the same definition (but I grant that being locked up in an ¨internment camp¨ sounds very much less dangerous than being locked up in a ¨concentration camp¨, which I also think is the reason why Wikipedia likes to speak of ¨interning¨ people: it sounds quite neutral (and is a recent change in in Wikipedia [3])).

I agree with Spitzer: People who are locked up without trial are treated illegally and ¨internment¨ is too neutral a term.

Unfortunately, I did not get much of an impression about the book Spitzer wrote. I only quote this bit, which is also the most of what is there:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk, Andrea Pitzer, about how the German concentration camps actually developed? I mean, this is the time of the High Holy Days now. We’re coming out of Charlottesville, where hundreds of young men—they didn’t even feel they needed to cover their faces with sheets, that they were completely exposed, holding torches, saying, "Jews will not replace us." And you have the anti-fascist demonstrators against them, which goes back, way back, to the time of Germany. Can you talk about how those concentration camps—how Hitler managed to do this?

ANDREA PITZER: (...) The first camps were set up in Nazi Germany within weeks of Hitler coming to power. Dachau was the first purpose-built camp that was organized and rebuilt and designed to hold thousands of detainees. And the plans to do that happened in the spring of 1933. But in the early days, it was really used—certainly, there were many Jews who were put into the camps, but it was almost a side issue at that point. It was because many of them were politically active against the Nazis, were members of socialist or communist parties. And at first it was a way to really keep power in the country and to get down and get rid of their opposition. They were also used for vagrants. In the mid-’30s, you would see them used to detain Gypsies, which were sometimes kept in kind of segregated camps, even before Hitler came to power. And then you see them used against homosexuals. And certainly Jews went into the camps. And once they were in the camps in those early years, they were treated horribly. They were singled out for persecution. You know, the outcome was very bad.

This is all more or less correct (but there were many communists and socialists ¨interned¨ (and usually murdered, though not always) in these ¨camps¨, in the 1930ies). 

5. America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

This article is by Lynne Parramore on the Off-Guardian and originally on the Institute of New Economic Thinking. It starts as follows:

You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.”  But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.

In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear:  America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

Yes indeed - I think I quite agree with Peter Temin, quite possibly (in part) because I am a real intellectual who has never earned as much as a minimum income in Holland all his life of 67 years now, and certainly (in part) because I was one of the few who dared to protest about the takeover by the communists and then by the postmodernists of the ¨University of Amsterdam¨, that was effectively furthering from 1978 till 1995 (18 years, over four generations of students) the fundamentally fascist utterly disgusting lie (according to Hannah Arendt (<-Wikipedia)) that

¨Everybody knows that truth does not exist¨

I was educated differently, but since about 5% of the students (then) agreed with me, I must take it that most of the other 95% were educated differently than I was, since in fact most of the acted as if they were totalitarians. [4]

Here are some of the ideas of Peter Temin (<-Wikipedia):

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.

This seems mostly correct to me. Here is some more:

In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration – check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.

I agree with all the ¨Check¨s.

The article ends as follows:

Along with Thomas Piketty, whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century examines historical and modern inequality, Temin’s book has provided a giant red flag, illustrating a trajectory that will continue to accelerate as long as the 20 percent in the FTE sector are permitted to operate a country within America’s borders solely for themselves at the expense of the majority. Without a robust middle class, America is not only reverting to developing-country status, it is increasingly ripe for serious social turmoil that has not been seen in generations.

A dual economy has separated America from the idea of what most of us thought the country was meant to be.

I completely agree with the last paragraph, although I do not think that ¨the 20 percent in the FTE sector are permitted to operate¨ the USA: I agree they have more influence than the poor, but I don´t think the USA is a democracy (anymore) and I do think that most things of economical or political importance are effectively decided by the 1%, that includes the Senate, the House and the government.

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] In case you missed it: The style here was ironical.

[3] I forgot when I first noticed that according to the Wikipedia all concentration camps that were not maintained by the Nazis or the Brits (around 1900) were not concentration camps but ¨internment camps¨, but it must be between 1 and 3 years ago. I am totally against this neutral redefining (and am afraid I know more about concentration camps than the anonymous writers of this baloney do).

And I also completely reject the Wikipedia´s (?!) pretension that it does or can provide:
¨a worldwide view of the subject¨
For this is utter bullshit were it concerns religion, politics, ethics, morals, philosophy, science (!) and many more subjects, simply because there is no ¨worldwide view¨ of these subjects, and those who pretend there are, are simply lying.

There are two absolute norms for an encyclopedia, and these are truth and a readable style, but these cannot coincide with
¨a worldwide view of the subject¨ for that is just obvious bullshit in nearly all humanly important subjects there are

[4] For at least some of them were obviously and evidently totalitarian, for else I would not have been called - more or less automatically: that is ¨how one talked¨, as a member of the ASVA, around 1980 - ¨a dirty fascist¨ without knowing anything else from me than that I was a proponent of real science and of a really scientific education (of which I got almost none, at the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam).

Then again, there probably is an underlying reason: The average IQ of the students was in 1984 115, which is some 10 to 15 points less than it was until 1965 (when the high schools that educated for the university also examined 14 to 16 subjects in written examinations, instead of 6 or 4, as happened from 1970 onwards).

I do not know, but it is my guess that the vast majority of the around 5% of the votes that my student association got were mostly given by the most intelligent.
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