from February 2, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) 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 more than two years
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
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from February 2, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. As Strongmen Steamroll Their Opponents, Trump is Silent
2. An Updated Lead-Crime Roundup for 2018
3. I Quit Twitter and It Feels Great
Didn't Need Convincing Trump Is Mentally Unstable: Yale
5. How to Set the Economy on Fire: Trump’s Financial Arsonists
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:
Strongmen Steamroll Their Opponents, Trump is Silent
This article is by Declan Walsh on The New York Times. It starts as
When it comes to
securing a second term in power, Egypt’s president is leaving little to
in the March election have been sidelined, jailed or threatened with
prosecution. The news media is largely in his pocket. On polling day,
Egyptians will have a choice between President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and
one of his most ardent supporters — an obscure politician drafted at
the 11th hour to avoid the embarrassment of a one-horse race.
As he cruises
toward victory, Mr. Sisi need not worry either about foreign censure:
President Trump has hailed the Egyptian leader as a “fantastic guy,”
and most other Western leaders have been largely silent.
world, autocratic leaders are engaging in increasingly brazen behavior
— rigging votes, muzzling the press and persecuting opponents — as they
dispense with even a fig leaf of democratic practice once offered to
placate the United States or gain international legitimacy.
This article is
here because of the last paragraph in the above quote, of which
el-Sisi is indeed one example, but of which there are quite a
few more, as the rest of the article also explains.
Here is some more:
tide is driven by a bewildering range of factors, including the
surge of populism in Europe, waves of migration, and economic
inequality. And leaders of countries like Egypt, which had long been
sensitive to Washington’s influence, know they run little risk of
rebuke from an American president who has largely abandoned the
promotion of human rights and democracy in favor of his narrow “America
this is all quite correct: There is "a global tide"
that has been strengthened by Donald Trump, but indeed I agree
with Wals that nearly all "global tides" are driven by a wide range of
some more background:
of lofty American talk of democracy and human rights, espoused by every
president since Jimmy Carter, policies have prioritized security
and strategic considerations over principle. And the C.I.A. torture
program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks further undermined
view is that every American president since Reagan was elected in 1980
- and this means both the Republican and the Democratic presidents -
has been strongly for "policies have prioritized security
and strategic considerations over principle", but OK.
the last bit that I quote from this article:
Mr. Trump has
barely paid lip service to the promotion of universal human rights, and
experts say his warm embrace of hard-line leaders like President
Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, whose antidrug drive has killed
thousands of his own
citizens without due process, has only encouraged their worst
“The issue is a
troubling one,” Stewart M. Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on
Foreign Relations, said in an email. “Trump’s lionizing of the ‘strong’
leadership qualities of authoritarian personalities like Putin,
Erdogan, Duterte, and Sisi — as well as his own attacks on free press
at home — cannot help but to embolden their efforts to crack down on
civil society and crush dissent in their own countries.”
agree and this is a recommended article.
Updated Lead-Crime Roundup for 2018
This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:
A few weeks ago I promised
an updated roundup of evidence about the link between lead poisoning
and violent crime. Here it is.
It’s in three parts. Part 1
is the basic story. Part 2 is various bits of commentary explaining
different details and predictions of the hypothesis. Part 3 is a
roundup of all the lead-crime studies that have been done since 2012
that I’m aware of.
I think this is a quite
interesting article. What it argues - very well indeed - is that there
is one factor that played a big role in the growth of crimes in the
1970ies and 1980ies, and an an equally big role in the decline of
crimes since then: Lead, especially lead in the fuel of
In fact, I have
aware of "the lead-crime story" since about 2008, but I have not paid
much attention to it, although it is really interesting for
interested in crimes.
The following is just
the beginning of "a brief summary of lead and crime": There is a whole
lot more in this article, and all of it is interesting:
And this is also as far as
I will take you: There is a whole lot more in the article, and
is strongly recommended.
1. A Brief Summary of Lead and Crime
The lead-crime hypothesis
is pretty simple: lead poisoning degrades the development of childhood
brains in ways that increase aggression, reduce impulse control, and
impair the executive functions that allow people to understand the
consequences of their actions. Because of this, infants who are exposed
to high levels of lead are more likely to commit violent crimes later
in life. There are three types of research that confirm the connection
between lead and crime:
- Brain studies.
Neurologists have performed MRI scans of adults who were exposed to
lead as children. They’ve found that because lead is chemically similar
to calcium, it displaces the calcium needed for normal brain
studies. These are studies that begin in childhood and follow
a group of children through adulthood. The children are measured along
the way and their adult outcomes are catalogued. Several prospective
studies have shown that children who are exposed to high levels of lead
are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for violent crimes
later in life.
studies. These are studies that depend on statistical analysis
of groups, rather than individuals. Dozens of population studies have
found strong correlations between the exposure of a group to lead and
the level of violent crime committed by the group later in life. These
groups can be neighborhoods, cities, states, or countries. For the USA,
the correlation between lead and crime looks like this:
[Clicking the image leads to its source]
No single study is proof of
the lead-crime hypothesis. However, the accumulated evidence for the
hypothesis is pretty overwhelming.
Quit Twitter and It Feels Great
This article is by Lindy West on The New York Times. This is from near
the beginning and it is here because I totally despise Twitter,
and never used it nor ever will:
When you work in media, Twitter becomes part of your job.
It’s where you orient yourself in “the discourse” — figure out what’s
going on, what people are saying about it and, more important, what no
one has said yet. In a lucky coup for Twitter’s marketing team,
prevailing wisdom among media types has long held that quitting the
platform could be a career killer. The illusion that Twitter visibility
and professional relevance are indisputably inextricable always felt
too risky to puncture. Who could afford to call that bluff and be
wrong? So, we stayed, while Twitter’s endemic racist, sexist and
transphobic harassment problems grew increasingly more sophisticated
Those of us who complained about online abuse were
consistently told — by colleagues, armchair experts and random internet
strangers — that we were the problem. We were too soft. We, who
literally inured ourselves to rape threats and death threats so that we
could participate in public life, were called weak by people who felt
persecuted by the existence of female Ghostbusters. Meanwhile,
Twitter’s leadership offered us the ability to embed GIFs.
I take this as stated, although I do not agree:
If you believe the above justifies being on a tool where
anonymous freaks can bury anyone with "endemic racist, sexist and
perhaps mostly committed by intellectually dysfunctional 14-16 year
olds, who also need to do no more typing than a few sloganized
sentences of crap, because Twitter makes it impossible to send more in
one time, you are welcome.
By the way: I do not communicate with anonymous
people, which is about the only thing I learned on Phoenix
Rising, which is a site meant for all patients with M.E. but which is safe
only for patients with an IQ that is maximally 115. I stopped there
after four months, in 2010, having been offended too many times by
anonymous sadofascistic degenerates (o yes!!), but I have been - more
or less - following it since, and I have by now seen everyone
who was intelligent and decent seen hunted away their by the
average anonymoys members with extremely big mouths and no knowledge of
anything whatsoever that I could detect.
Here is more on the delusions of many:
Those of us who
pointed out that online harassment was politically motivated —
compounded by race, gender and sexual orientation — as I did in 2013,
for example, were accused of being “professional victims” trying to
leverage our paranoid delusions to censor the internet. This defamation
has never been retracted or atoned for even after the revelations that
an army of Russian Twitter bots functions as the Trump administration’s
propaganda wing, and the “alt-right,” essentially a coalition of
anti-feminist, white-supremacist online harassment campaigns, recruits
disaffected young men to Trumpism by framing the abuse of social
justice activists as a team sport. Meanwhile, Twitter’s leadership
offered us 280 characters.
Again, I never
read Twitter (other than quoted in articles, and I tend to skip
articles with more than three Tweets), and certainly never tried to "figure out what’s
going on, what people are saying about it and, more important, what no
one has said yet" but no: I do not believe in "an army of Russian Twitter bots [that]
functions as the Trump administration’s
propaganda wing", though this is
also an aside in the present context.
Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article, which is revealing - it seems
to me - about how many users of Twitter feel every day:
My suggestion to everyone
on Twitter is: Give it up, as soon as you can, and never use it again.
And this is a recommended article, if only because it shows it can
be done (and you may feel a whole lot better).
approached by colleagues, usually women, who ask me about quitting
Twitter with hushed titillation, as if I’ve escaped a cult or broken a
particularly seductive taboo. Well, here’s what my new life is like: I
don’t wake up with a pit in my stomach every day, dreading what horrors
accrued in my phone overnight. I don’t get dragged into protracted,
bad-faith arguments with teenage boys about whether poor people deserve
medical care, or whether putting nice guys in the friend zone is a hate
crime. I don’t spend hours every week blocking and reporting trolls and
screen-grabbing abuse in case it someday escalates into a credible
threat. I no longer feel like my brain is trapped in a centrifuge
filled with swastikas and Alex Jones’s spittle. Time is finite, and now
I have more of it.
Didn't Need Convincing Trump Is Mentally Unstable: Yale Psychiatrist
This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon.
It starts as follows:
For many reasons,
Donald Trump's mental health is a subject of great public concern in
America. He is a compulsive liar who dissembles about facts both large
and small. He is also a malignant narcissist who is desperately -- and
successfully -- imposing his own version of reality on the American
people. Trump is also violent and appears to lack any empathy or
concern for the suffering of others. At times he seems confused and his
patterns of speech have changed since taking office in January of last
year. Even some of Donald Trump's closest political allies have
apparently expressed concern about his mental health.
I quite agree with all of
this and indeed - mostly because I am a psychologist - I have
agreed with this since March 2016,
which is nearly two years ago now. I also agreed with the
report by two professors of psychiatry and one of clinical psychology
that was published in November of 2016: see here.
Here is more from the introduction to this interview:
There are other
people who believe that Donald Trump's mental health and other
troubling behavior represent a fundamental threat to American society
and the world. For them, an alarm must be sounded and it is a moral
imperative for people of conscience to intervene.
Psychiatrist Bandy Lee is one of these voices
and counts herself among the thousands of medical professionals in
the United States and other countries who believe that they
have a moral obligation to inform the public about the dangers posed by
Donald Trump. To that end, Lee was the principal editor of the New York
Times bestseller "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists
and Mental Health Experts Assess a President."
I did not read
the book, but I am one of - it seems now - at least 70,000
psychologists and psychiatrists who (mostly) agree with her.
Here is more (and the
rest is from the interview):
I agree. Here is more:
Your book, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," was published in
October of last year. Which of its predictions and warnings have come
Bandy Lee: First, let me
say, I speak for myself and not for my university. The book predicts
danger and dangerousness. We have already seen this unfold. Basically,
in "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" we were stating that past
violence predicts future violence. Trump has shown verbal
aggressiveness. He has boasted about sexual assault. He has invited
violence at his rallies. He has shown an attraction to violence as a
powerful weapon. He had not yet taunted a hostile nuclear power at that
point. But in the book we actually predicted that devastating wars and
even a nuclear holocaust were not impossibilities.
Now, it is even clearer that
the danger we predicted about Donald Trump has happened on many levels.
The other dangers, of course,
are his psychological instability. This includes Trump's impulsivity,
recklessness, paranoid reactions, lose grip on reality, rage, lack of
empathy, and the constant need project and abuse power. His speech
patterns have also changed. All these things have gotten worst over
time. These all have profound ramifications for a person in his
position of authority and power.
CD: Why are there
still so many people who are continuing to deny the threat posed by
Donald Trump's behavior?
BL: I think it’s because
we’ve been silent for so long. People have also been deprived of
education about mental health issues. These are also not comfortable
topics to talk about. With this administration, there has also been an
expansion of the so-called Goldwater Rule. Psychiatrists are not being
allowed to speak about what is taking place. Such a rule is not applied
to other medical specialties.
I don't think it is
because of silence. I think it is basically because of two
There are vastly more
anonymous "contributers" to "the news" who can
say and scold whatever they want and whomever they please, and
there are strong political reasons for the right wing to insist that
either Trump is as sane as possible or else he is "a Very Stable
Genius" (as He Himself has said).
But I agree with Lee on the
Goldwater Rule: It is utter bullshit, which
goes straight against the
First Amendment. In fact, the APA got even more crazy than it
already for a very long time:
BL: (...) What the American
Psychiatric Association (APA) did two months into this administration
was to take the Goldwater Rule and reinterpret it in an unprecedented
way. This change in the rule actually contradicts basic principles of
The APA turned it into a
gag rule where we are not to mention any aspect of a public figure's
speech or any observable aspect of their behavior under any
circumstance -- even in an emergency. However, we as psychiatrists and
members of the APA are supposed to participate in activities that
promote public health. If not speaking about a public figure actually
harms public health and in fact places the public in grave danger, then
the rule should be subordinate to the principle.
I think the rule
be completely withdrawn about public figures, indeed because of
A mad unknown may kill a few; a mad political leader may kill
milions, or indeed nuke the whole world. According to the APA, you
should wait - as an American psychiatrist with a membership in
that association - until after the world has been blown up with
criticizing any politician.
Here is more:
CD: You recently
briefed Congress about Donald Trump's mental health and the threat he
represents. What was that experience like?
BL: It was very
illuminating. I met with about a dozen lawmakers, all Democrats except
for one, and their response to my concerns about Donald Trump being a
threat to the public was: “You don’t have to convince us. We’ve been
very concerned about this. We are looking for ways to deal with it, but
as the minority party, we don’t have any power. We know of Republican
lawmakers who are just as concerned, probably equally concerned, but
they are not expressing it. They’re not acting on it.”
This is rather
interesting, and supports what I said above: there are strong political reasons
for the right wing to insist that either Trump is as sane as possible
or else he is "a Very Stable Genius" (as He Himself said). But it is
interesting that some Republicans are aware that their chief may be mad.
And indeed there is this,
which also is the most important for me:
Precisely so. And there
is a lot more in this article that is strongly recommended.
CD: What part of
your testimony resonated with them the most?
BL: Trump's access to the
nuclear codes is the most urgent and primary concern. Someone with
mental instability should not have access to weapons that are strong
enough to destroy the world many times over. That was primary on the
representatives' minds as well.
to Set the Economy on Fire: Trump’s Financial Arsonists
This article is by Nomi
Prins on Common Dreams and originally on
TomDispatch. It starts as follows:
Amid a roaring stock market
and a planet of upbeat
CEOs, few are even thinking about the havoc that a
multi-trillion-dollar financial system gone rogue could inflict upon
global stability. But watch out. Even in the seemingly best
of times, neglecting Wall Street is a dangerous idea. With a rag-tag
Trumpian crew of ex-bankers and Goldman Sachs alumni as the only
watchdogs in town, it’s time to focus, because one thing is clear:
Donald Trump’s economic team is in the process of making the financial
system combustible again.
Collectively, the biggest
U.S. banks already have their get-out-out-of-jail-free cards and are
now sitting on record
profits after, not so long ago, triggering sweeping unemployment,
wrecking countless lives, and elevating global instability. (Not
a single major bank CEO was given jail time for such acts.)
Still, let's not blame the dangers lurking at the heart of the
financial system solely on the Trump doctrine of leaving banks alone.
They should be shared by the Democrats who, under President Barack
Obama, believed, and still believe, in the perfection of the Dodd-Frank
Act of 2010.
agree, except with the last sentence of the first paragraph:
The Trumpians are not "in the process of making the financial
system combustible again"
but in the process of making the financial system even more
than it was (because that is profitable to the banks).
Next, there is this on
the sickeningly corrupt and fraudulent Wall Street bankers:
Wall Street is now
thoroughly emboldened as the financial elite follows the mantra of
Kelly Clarkston’s hit song: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Since the crisis of 2007-2008, the Big Six U.S. banks -- JPMorgan
Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and
Morgan Stanley -- have seen the share price of their stocks
significantly outpace those of the S&P 500 index as a whole.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and
CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank (that’s paid $13
billion in settlements for various fraudulent acts), recently even
pooh-poohed the chances of the Democratic Party in 2020, suggesting
that it was about time its leaders let banks do whatever they wanted.
As he told
Maria Bartiromo, host of Fox Business’s Wall Street Week,
“The thing about the Democrats is they will not have a chance, in my
opinion. They don’t have a strong centrist, pro-business, pro-free
In fact, I think Dimon
is a neofascist
(though he probably calls himself quite otherwise) as
indeed are all leading Wall Street bankers, especially after leaning
since 2008 that they can do whatever they please and will not
punishment whatsoever. (Check my definition
its criterions with the facts, in case you disagree!)
Here is a bit more on
Dimon can afford to be
brazen. JPMorgan Chase is now the second
most profitable company in the country. Why should he be worried
about what might happen in another crisis, given that the Trump
administration is in charge? With pro-business and pro-bailout thinking
reigning supreme, what could go wrong?
In fact, crisis and collapses
are known for hundreds of years, as have been the main
causes: greed and insufficient control.
There is a lot more
article which I leave to your interests, but the article ends as
The Emperor Has No
Nearly every regulatory
institution in Trumpville tasked with monitoring the financial system
is now run by someone who once profited from bending or breaking its
rules. Historically, severe financial crises tend to erupt after
periods of lax oversight and loose banking regulations. By filling
America’s key institutions with representatives of just such
negligence, Trump has effectively hired a team of financial arsonists.
Naturally, Wall Street
views Trump’s chosen ones with glee. Amid the present financial
euphoria of the stock market, big bank stock prices have soared.
But one thing is certain: when the next crisis comes, it will
leave the last meltdown in the shade because our financial system is,
at its core, unreformed and without adult supervision. Banks not only
remain too big to fail but are
still growing, while this government pushes policies guaranteed to
put us all at risk again.
There’s a pattern to this:
first, there’s a crash; then comes a period of remorse and talk of
reform; and eventually comes the great forgetting. As time passes,
markets rise, greed becomes good, and Wall Street begins to champion
more deregulation. The government attracts deregulatory enthusiasts and
then, of course, there’s another crash, millions suffer, and remorse
Ominously, we’re now in the
deregulation stage following the bull run. We know what comes next,
just not when. Count on one thing: it won’t be pretty.
I quite agree, and
this is a strongly recommended article.