November 26, 2017
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 26,
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.
moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) 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:
Selections from November 26, 2017
In China, the Brutality of ‘House Arrest’
2. Arrestees at Trump Inauguration Protest Could Face 60-Year
3. Killing Net Neutrality Is a Critical Goal in Trump's
Against Free Speech
4. GOP Insider Bruce Bartlett: 'The Republican Party Needs to
5. Fools or Knaves?
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:
China, the Brutality of ‘House Arrest’
This article is by Steven Lee Myers on The New York Times. It starts as
regimes shroud their darkest features in euphemism. So it is with
China’s “residential surveillance at a designated location.” It sounds
like a kind of house arrest, a milder form of detention for those under
investigation, perhaps, or awaiting trial. It is not.
It is in fact
the codification in law of a widespread practice of whisking people
into secret detention — “disappearing” them into a labyrinth where
China’s stunted legal protections can do little to prevent abuse. The
practice violates not only human rights but also international law,
according to Michael Caster of
Safeguard Defenders, a group founded in August to protect those in
Asia who fight for human rights, women’s rights and civil society.
indeed. In fact, I'd say that arresting people and putting them away
into secret detention is an almost certain guarantee that they will
seriously abused and may be tortured,
while it also threatens everybody
else who is Chinese - more than one billion men and women now - that
anybody whose ideas and values differ from those of the Chinese leaders
risks precisely the same thoroughly illegal treatment.
Article 73 of
China’s Criminal Procedure Law was amended in 2012 to allow the
authorities to detain people for reasons of “state security” or
“terrorism.” Detainees can be held for as long as six months in
“designated locations” — secret prisons.
China has shown
that it can define those reasons so broadly that it sweeps up anyone
viewed as a political threat to the supremacy of the Communist Party:
dissidents, lawyers, activists and outspoken Tibetans and Uighurs.
Among those who have been held under a form of “residential
surveillance” are the artist Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaobo, the poet and
Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died
in the state’s custody in July.
indeed - and the arrests of Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaobo show that
absolutely noone with ideas or values that differ
from the Chinese
leaders is safe from this kind of thoroughly illegal treatment by the
Mr. Caster’s group has compiled 12 accounts by those who
have descended into this Orwellian legal abyss. They appear in a book,
“The People’s Republic of the Disappeared,” that was published in
English this month and is scheduled to come out in Chinese on Friday.
These accounts — two of them anonymous, some written by those safely
outside China, some by brave souls still inside — represent the
experiences of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been
deprived of the legal rights the country’s Constitution ostensibly
The narrators tell of physical and psychological abuse,
beatings and sleep deprivation, humiliations, isolation and threats to
relatives. The nature of Article 73 fosters such abuse, its critics
assert. In regular detention centers, institutional norms like the
presence of guards and prosecutors can serve as a deterrent to
violations. In the solitary confinement typical of “designated
locations,” there are few constraints. It has become “a more severe,
more terrible, coercive measure than normal criminal detention,” Teng
Biao, a lawyer who left China after his own secret detentions, writes
in the book’s foreword.
considerably more in the article, notably reports on four very
Chinese who went through "this
Orwellian legal abyss".
is a recommended article (that incidentally also shows the way
would like to go in the USA, or so it seems to me).
at Trump Inauguration Protest Could Face 60-Year Terms
This article is by
Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
In fact, I have not much
to say about the first two paragraphs except that in a democracy
somewhat reasonable legal system (i) in principle everybody
the right to be an anti-fascist and an anti-capitalist, while also
to deny these rights is to speak as an authoritarian.
Thousands protested the
Jan. 20 inauguration of Donald Trump, but only those who marched in an
anti-fascist, anti-capitalist demonstration known as Disrupt J20 have
been charged with felony rioting. Opening arguments for the first
group to go on trial began Monday,
with arguments for all of the nearly 200 defendants scheduled through
In her opening
statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff described the protests as
“a sea of black masks” and argued, “You don’t have to be the one who
breaks the window to be guilty.” She claims all those arrested
“actively helped those with the hammers and crowbars” and were “playing
a role in the violence and destruction.”
Independent reports they could face 60 years behind bars if
But the last paragraph is utterly insane:
Saying you don't like Trump may
mean that you are
jailed for sixty years, which to me sounds fascistic. In
(under the present laws) you have to commit several cruel murders to
risk such a punishment (if it is possible, which I do not know), while
in Norway a man who killed 95 persons could not be legally
for more than 20 years, simply because 20 years is the limit (in
Norway, under present laws).
And to me it also seems as if Jennifer Kerkhoff speaks as if she is a terrorist
lawyer, in this case for the state. In case you doubt this, here is
In other words: According
to Kerkhoff anybody who belonged to that group is automatically
guilty, also if they did precisely nothing, and may be for that
reason be committed for 60 years in prison.
During a July hearing,
prosecutor Kerkhoff said it wasn’t necessary for defendants to
have personally damaged property in order to be charged or
convicted”: “A person can be convicted of rioting without breaking a
window,” she said. “It is the group who is the danger, the group who is
providing the elements.”
Other actions of the
prosecution have also been challenged as inappropriate. For example,
prosecutors have obtained warrants allowing
them to inspect the social media accounts of the defendants, and
another warrant sought a list of all visitors to an anti-Trump
website promoting protests on Inauguration Day.
That is legal insanity in my eyes.
Net Neutrality Is a Critical Goal in Trump's Campaign Against Free
This article is by Joseph Torres on Truthdig and originally
on FreePress. It starts as follows:
appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai,
unveiled his plan to kill Net Neutrality at a closed-door
FreedomWorks-sponsored event last Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Yes indeed. Here is some
It’s appropriate that Pai made
this announcement at a gathering sponsored by a telecom-funded organization that played a key role in elevating the
racist Tea Party movement. His plan will allow powerful corporations to
silence the voices of everyday people — especially people of color —
who struggle to be heard.
And now Pai will carry out
Trump’s agenda to silence dissenting voices. Pai wants to kill the open
internet by getting rid of the FCC’s legal authority to enforce Net
Neutrality rules adopted in 2015.
The rules currently prevent
internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from
blocking and discriminating against websites and online traffic.
Without those rules, ISPs would no longer have to treat all web content
equally. They would have the power to slow down some sites or even
block those that can’t or won’t pay extra.
Yes indeed. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
Pai, of course, claims that
he’s actually protecting the open internet. But Pai, like the president
who tapped him to run the agency, lies. And like the president, he lies
all the time.
The Trump administration’s
effort to kill Net Neutrality is part of its ongoing attack on free
speech and the First Amendment.
I agree, although I'd
qualify this by saying that Pai lies all the time when he is
for Trump. But this is a strongly neofascistic
rule and approach, and
it is very dangerous for any free speech. And this is a
Insider Bruce Bartlett: 'The Republican Party Needs to Die'
This article is by
Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as
American democracy is in
crisis, a fact that should be obvious to everyone but that too many
people keep ignoring. The president of the United States, Donald Trump,
does not believe in or respect basic norms of democratic governance.
His words and behavior reveal a deep affinity for fascism.
I think Trump is a neofascist
rather than a fascist,
but while I give the links to my Philosophical
Dictionary, I also give up (for the most part) articulating this
distinction, in part for the simple reason that I have not seen
anyone anywhere on the internet who is
of giving reasonable definitions of these concepts.
And I also think this
is quite sickening, for I have read many who accuse others of
"fascists", while these accusations - that may be correct - are
absolutely never underpinned by any reasonable definition (and
because I am a philosopher whose
grandfather was murdered in a Nazi
concentration camp, while my father survived more than three years and
nine months as a "political terrorist" in these camps).
Here are some
I agree, although I'd like
to point out that a state cannot be
both a democracy and
an oligarchy. But I do agree with DeVega that currently the USA is an
where there still are pretensions that it is a democracy,
which are nearly all quite false.
The Citizens United
decision defined corporate money as free speech. This undermines
American democracy by allowing the most powerful business interests and
the richest individuals to overrule and veto the desires of the
The United States is an oligarchy. Recent research
shows that the country's elected officials are most responsive to the
rich, business interest groups and others with the resources to buy
The Republican Party uses
gerrymandering and voter suppression to remain in power. It has ceased
to believe in any form of compromise or negotiation with Democrats
Here is more:
In fact, I don't
think Bartlett answered most of these questions, but he is a bit
interesting, indeed in good part because of his Republican background.
How has the truth been
assaulted by Donald Trump and the Republican Party? What role did
Trump's incessant lies and his talking points about "fake news" play in
his election? How does the myth of the "liberal media" empower the
American right? Is there any space for a liberal or centrist
alternative to Fox News and the broader right-wing
disinformation-propaganda machine? Can the Republican Party in its
present form be saved? Does the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with
Russia during the 2016 presidential election reflect a larger cultural
and political problem?
In an effort to answer these
questions I recently spoke with Bruce Bartlett. He was a former White
House adviser under President Ronald Reagan and also served under
President George H.W. Bush. (..) He is the author of the new
book "The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts
From Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks."
Here is the first bit that I quote:
Why do you think
the mainstream news media was so reluctant to directly confront and
expose Trump's lies?
When the mainstream media
began to downsize to cope with the loss of revenue from advertising and
subscribers, the first thing they did was lay off their most senior
reporters. They were able to save a lot of money that way. The problem
is that a lot of journalistic training takes place informally in the
newsroom, where young reporters learn from the old veterans who have
been around for a long time. One of the things that you learn in that
way that can't be taught in the university is how to tell when somebody
I don't think
general - there are a few exceptions) that you can tell when somebody
is lying without
knowing the real facts
and his or her values
interests, while I did not know that many of the "most senior reporters" were laid off so as to increase the profits of the
mainstream media, but I believe that Bartlett is right in that
Then there is this:
I doubt it, but I agree
these matters are difficult to judge, while also (ii) Bartlett
probably right about a sizeable subset of the "liberals and centrists".
Why do you think
there has not been a successful counter to right-wing talk radio, and
right-wing media more generally, from liberals and centrists?
Well I think the simple answer
is that liberals and centrists are perfectly content with the
mainstream media. They’re very happy with the New York Times and the
Washington Post exactly as they are; they’re happy with ABC, CBS, NBC
There is a lot more I'll leave to your interests, but here is the end
of the article:
This is by a - former? -
Republican. And this is a recommended article.
How did today’s
Republican Party, in your estimation, become the way it is? Can it be
The Republican Party needs
to die. It’s already a zombie. It’s brain dead.
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as
One of the most
dangerous consequences of this awful period in American life is the
of the truth, and of institutions and people who tell it.
There are two kinds of
liars – fools
and knaves. Fools lie because they don’t know the truth. Knaves lie
they intend to mislead.
Trump is both, because he
even care enough about the truth to find out what it is. He’ll say
thinks will get people to believe what he wants them to believe.
Yes, this is mostly
correct, but I have nevertheless two remarks:
The first is that the
situation with lying
is a bit more complicated than Reich may assume it
is, for he speaks as if he means by liars those who do not speak the
truth. In fact, the correct definition of a liar is
that one is a liar
precisely if one asserts that something is true while
it is not true.
This means that one may
be lying oneself while speaking the truth, though I agree this is
probably only so in a fairly small minority of the many lies
The second is (once
again) that (1) every student in the "University" of Amsterdam,
their parents and family were told in August
of 1978 (!!!!) by the
historian professor M.A. Brandt, who may have been speaking as a
at least if we believe Hannah Arendt,
M.A. Brandt may very well have read, that (literally, in
that truth does NOT exist."
And (2) this was THE
point of view of what "truth" was in the (semi-marxist)
Amsterdam that prevailed for 95% of the students and 95% of the
scientific staff between 1978 and 1995.
Also (3) I
but did not know at the time I protested that at most 5%
me, and I also did not know that I - who had created a
student party in
1981 - was to be terrorized for three years by an insane person who
protected by the Board of Directors of the UvA between 1981 and 1983,
and was to be - illegally - removed from taking the M.A. in
very briefly before taking it, because I had spoken the truth
utterly incompetent, lying, and deceiving "teachers" of philosophy.
I have expounded the
above many times, but hardly any Dutchman cares, indeed
quite as the
great majority of the Dutch reacted between 1940 and 1945, when "a
116,000 of their supposedly Jewish fellow Dutchmen were
rounded up to
be murdered, and at least 95% did precisely
Back to Reich:
Of course not, and indeed
it also does not make much sense to ask whether the lies by
powerful liars are those of a fool: They rarely are, for
powerful have a very strong reason to lie, and this reason is precisley
their own great power as compared with the vast majority.
What about people like
Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s point person on the Republican tax
making their way through Congress?
Mnuchin continues to insist
that they put a higher
tax burden on people earning more than $1 million a year, and reduce
everyone else. “I can tell you that virtually
everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a
tax cut,” Mnuchin says
But the prestigious
Tax Policy Center concludes
that by 2025, almost all of the benefits of both bills
will have gone to the richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class
payers will pay
higher taxes and those at the lower levels will receive only
So is Mnuchin a fool?
In fact, Reich agrees:
I agree with Reich, and
this is a recommended article.
Assuming Mnuchin isn’t a
fool, he’s a
knave. He intends to deceive the public.
By doing so he has
abandoned his duty
to the American people inherent in the oath of office taken by every
official, in favor of advancing the goals of his boss and other
Washington who are desperate to pass their tax bill.
He has also sacrificed his
 I have now been
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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).
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 (!!).