from February 16, 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 16, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Scandal-Ridden Scoundrel
2. The Terrifying Danger of Trump’s Deteriorating Mental
3. Korean Olympic Diplomacy Moves Forward Despite U.S.
4. Internet Monopolies Like Facebook and Google Have Become a
5. The UK’s Hidden Hand in Julian Assange’s Detention
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 Charles Blow on The New York Times. It starts as
Donald Trump has
turned the political world upside down, again and again, like a kid
flipping a coin. Every day we wake up to either a new scandal or
several lingering ones.
astounding. It is maddening. It is numbing.
At this moment,
he is embroiled in a scandal of a six-figure payment to a porn star who
goes by the name Stormy Daniels and who, at one point, gave an
interview in which she claimed that the two were engaged in an
extramarital sexual affair.
He is also
embroiled in a scandal over why a top aide, Rob Porter, accused of
physically assaulting his two ex-wives, was allowed
to remain on the White House staff even after these allegations had
been brought to the attention of the White House by the F.B.I.
Well... yes and
no. As to Daniels and Porter, I mostly agree and either case is also
still developing, or so it seems.
But I don't
agree with the first two paragraphs: After a full year of Trump
he or it is not "astounding", "maddening" and "numbing" anymore
- or at least that is what I would conclude, and indeed what Charles
Blow did, for he has been writing that same year about Trump.
And what is getting me is that almost the
complete American media
simply does not even mention the stupidity or
of very many Anericans, that indeed also is behind Trump's
nomination as president of the USA.
In case you
doubt me, here is some more:
I am sorry, but if you are
an adult American who does not
have the ability "to
process and track, maintain
outrage or even fact-check"
I think you should not have the
ability to vote, for the simple reason that your lacking all
rational abilities means that you are voting for your fantasies, your desires, or your fears, and not
for anything that you have rationally established yourself.
We also mustn’t
forget that the president has never released his tax
returns, he refused to sever
ties with his businesses, and he is burning through our money going
to golf courses or his properties with decadent regularity. He also
defended Nazis and was disrespectful to the hurricane-ravaged people of
And Trump has
lied about pretty much everything. As The Washington
Post reported in November: “In the past 35 days, Trump has
averaged an astonishing nine [false or misleading] claims a day. The
total now stands at 1,628 claims in 298 days, or an average of 5.5
claims a day.”
Any of this would have
crippled another president, but not Trump. In a perverse way, Trump
appears to benefit from the sheer volume of his offenses. They
overwhelm many Americans’ ability to process and track, maintain
outrage or even fact-check.
And that seems to be the truth about many American voters,
though indeed not all. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
I am sorry, but the
problem is not "a man of such moral depravity and such
little respect for propriety, protocol and honesty" as Donald Trump
indeed is, but the fact that
than 60 million American voters did vote for him,
whereas his characteristics were clear from the very start.
rightfully be called Trump’s Deluge Doctrine of American Politics, a
thing that many of us never properly feared because we never thought it
possible. We never thought a man of such moral depravity and such
little respect for propriety, protocol and honesty would ever be
But the storm
is upon us; we are in it.
I must continue
to submit that although I disagree vociferously with Trump on policy,
my objection here isn’t about policy or partisanship. This is a fight
for the soul of the country.
There also is another problem with Blow's opinions:
He does believe in "Russia-gate", as indeed do the editors of
The New York Times. I do not, and not because I think
manipulating is beyond the Russians, or indeed anyone else, but because
I have been waiting for more than a year for good evidence
that they did, and there never was any good evidence.
So while I - broadly speaking - agree with Charles Blow that
the president of the USA is a "scandal-ridden scoundrel", I also think
that his election was due not to his intelligence, talent, or
originality, but to the stupidity or
of the many who voted
Terrifying Danger of Trump’s Deteriorating Mental Health
This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
Don’t be fooled by the
happy lull of the Winter
“We are not in a static
situation,” Dr. John Gartner said, at a presentation on presidential
mental health and nuclear weapons in Washington on Monday. “We are in a
deteriorating situation. And every day that goes by we are at greater
risk of total nuclear annihilation.”
In fact, I do not think
I am fooled by the Winter Olympics, but I do regard them as a good
as I also explain in item 3, below.
But that also is not
what this article is about. This article is about the ideas (and the
values) of some 70,000 psychologists and psychiatrists (or so it
seems), who have concluded, correctly
in my opinion, that Donald
Trump is a madman, and that madmen should not
have the ability to unleash total nuclear annihilation of our human
Also, I do
point out that I have an excellent M.A. in psychology, while nearly all
journalists who write about Trump are not thus qualified (and
also rarely seem to have any good idea about what it
means if someone is mad).
Here is more by Dr.
All the while, the danger
posed by Trump’s control of nuclear weapons continues to grow, says
Gartner, founder of Duty to Warn, a group that argues President Trump
is not mentally fit for office. He spoke at a National Press Club forum
sponsored by Need to Impeach,
the campaign bankrolled by billionaire investor Tom Steyer.
The unanimous conclusion:
Trump is not qualified to make decisions about nuclear weapons.
I completely agree. And
here is more by psychiatrist Steven Buser (who was quoted before in
Nederlog, but this is important, so here I go again):
Psychiatrist Steven Buser
explained how he evaluated nuclear personnel for the U.S. Air Force’s
Nuclear Personal Reliability Program. According to PRP standards, “only
those military personnel with the highest degree of reliability,
trustworthiness, conduct and behavior will be allowed to work in the
vicinity of nuclear weapons.”
“What if those same
standards were applied to our president?” Dr. Buser asked. “What if
President Trump instead was Airman Trump?...Would I feel comfortable in
certifying Airman Trump as being safe to be around nuclear weapons?”
“What if I had reliable
information that Airman Trump had cyberbullied others regularly on
Twitter?” Buser went on. “That he had sexually abusive behavior toward
women; that he was prone to erratic personal states; that he showed
paranoia about being surveilled by others or unjustly persecuted; and
that he had a history of highly distorted, if not untruthful
“Would I certify Airman
Trump as being safe around nuclear weapons? My answer was, absolutely
And clearly I agree
as a psychologist - with Buser. Here us more by Dr. Gartner:
Dr. Gartner said Trump’s
mental health “is deteriorating and is going to continue to get worse.”
“If you watch interviews
that Trump did in the 1980s and '90s, he not only spoke in complete
sentences, he spoke in polished paragraphs. Compare that to interviews
and public speech today: his vocabulary is thin, reasoning is loose. He
repeats himself. He is actually impaired in his ability to complete a
sentence or form a thought without derailing into some kind of
“When someone begins to
deteriorate cognitively, anything that was bad about their personality
gets worse,” Dr. Gartner said. “When people are in a state of
pre-dementia they become more impulsive, more paranoid, less
conscientious, more aggressive, more irritable.”
And eventually, “they begin
to become psychotic.”
Yes, I agree again, especially
on Trump's utter inability NOT
to repeat himself (again and again and again) and his inability
"to complete a sentence or
form a thought
without derailing into some kind of irrelevancy". (These struck me already in the beginning of 2016, which
incidentally also was the first time I took a close look at
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
But a complete lack of
empathy characterizes Trump’s malignant narcissism, said Jacqueline
West, a psychoanalyst in New Mexico.
“When we say ‘Trump is
being narcissistic again,’ we get it that he is egotistical. We get it
that he is dominating. What we don’t get is that he’s dangerous.”
The malignant narcissist,
she said, “grows up with a tremendous determination to dominate, to win
at all costs, and they sacrifice the integration of conscience and the
capacity for empathy. He is involved in a ‘kill or be killed’ reality.”
Well... in fact I do not
know what "we" get and don't get about psychology and psychiatry, and I
very much doubt West does know. But I think she is right in two things:
Trump is a madman,
and madmen are extremely dangerous in his position.
And this is a recommended article.
Olympic Diplomacy Moves Forward Despite U.S. Intransigence
This article is by Dennis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews. It starts as
By many accounts,
the Koreans – North and South – have prevailed over the disruptive
desires of the United States, coming together in a series of very
public actions, clearly meant to turn down the political heat generated
by President Donald Trump and the U.S. pressure for military action.
Yes indeed: I quite
Also, I grant that I did not expect this, while I think it is
a good sign.
In this regard, there does
indeed seem to be a new and genuine desire on the part of the president
of South Korea to forge a more peaceful and cooperative relationship
with the North, even though U.S. officials and commentators seem to be
dead set against it, portraying the warming relations between North and
South as an attempt by the North to subvert the long and close
relationship with the South.
And the reason it is a good sign is a rational one, I think:
Both the North-Koreans and the South-Koreans know that if the
conflict does grow nuclear, most North-Koreans and most South-
will be dead very soon.
Dennis Bernstein interviews Kay Jay No, who is presented as a writer,
an activist and a regional expert. I quote two bits from him, and the
first is this:
you know, the Winter Olympics are usually not as well attended as the
summer games and not as much a source of interest for the general
global audience. But these Olympics, held in the South Korean
county of PyeongChang, have reached out to the North Koreans. And
the North Koreans have responded.
In fact, they responded
very rapidly, sending over 500 of their citizens, including a
cheerleading squad, an orchestra, a Taekwondo demo team, the head of
the North Korean assembly, 22 athletes, and most surprisingly, Kim Yo
Jong. Kim Yo Jong is a high-ranking politburo member, and
Kim Jong Un’s younger sister. Just the fact of the North Koreans
defying expectations and showing up was a propaganda coup.
Yes indeed. And here is
the second bit:
Again yes. And while I
have no idea how this will develop, I think the Koreans did in great
majority see that if
the conflict does grow nuclear, most North-Koreans and most South-
Koreans will be dead very soon, and I think they are quite right in this belief.
KJN: To a
certain extent, this small break in the clouds is an attempt to return
to that policy of reconciliation. What is notable is the
congeniality with which the hand was extended toward North Korea.
For example, when the North Korean and South Korean athletes entered
the stadium as one team, under a single flag, a standing ovation
erupted as 35,000 people rose to their feet in a celebration of this
very powerful coming together.
Monopolies Like Facebook and Google Have Become a Public Menace
This article is by George
Soros on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
I agree with George Soros
about the dangers to the open society and to the survival
of our entire
civilization, although I am also - it seems - a lot less
than he is about the American Constitution and about the USA's other
The current moment in world
history is a painful one. Open societies are in crisis, and various
forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Vladimir
Putin’s Russia, are on the rise. In the United States, President Trump
would like to establish his own mafia-style state but cannot, because
the Constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won’t
Not only is the survival of
open society in question; the survival of our entire civilization is at
stake. The rise of leaders such as Trump and Kim Jong Un in North Korea
have much to do with this. Both seem willing to risk a nuclear war in
order to keep themselves in power.
Here is more by Soros:
The rise and
monopolistic behavior of the giant American Internet platform companies
is contributing mightily to the US government’s impotence.
I agree, although I would
have formulated this differently. Here is more:
Companies earn their profits
by exploiting their environment. Mining and oil companies exploit the
physical environment; social media companies exploit the social
environment. This is particularly nefarious, because these companies
influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of
it. This interferes with the functioning of democracy and the integrity
Facebook and Google
effectively control over half of all digital advertising revenue. To
maintain their dominance, they need to expand their networks and
increase their share of users’ attention. Currently they do this by
providing users with a convenient platform. The more time users spend
on the platform, the more valuable they become to the companies.
Moreover, because content
providers cannot avoid using the platforms and must accept whatever
terms they are offered, they, too, contribute to the profits of social
media companies. Indeed, the exceptional profitability of these
companies is largely a function of their avoiding responsibility — and
payment — for the content on their platforms.
Yes indeed: I think
this is quite correct - and because I think so (for
quite a few years also) I have decided to give up Facebook (completely
- and see this, from a Nederlog
of 2011) and Google (all but Youtube), and indeed I will also never use
Then again, I am just
one user, and more than two billion users of
mostly, which is another thing I completely refuse to use) disagree
Here is more on
Facebook and Google:
The companies claim that
they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are
near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should
subject them to more stringent regulation, aimed at preserving
competition, innovation, and fair and open access.
I completely agree.
Then there is this on the true customers of Facebook and
Social media companies’
true customers are their advertisers.
Social media companies deceive their users by manipulating their
attention, directing it toward their own commercial purposes, and
deliberately engineering addiction to the services they provide.
This also seems correct
to me. Here is more:
Something similar — and
potentially irreversible — is happening to human attention in our
digital age. This is not a matter of mere distraction or addiction;
social media companies are actually inducing people to surrender their
autonomy. And this power to shape people’s attention is increasingly
concentrated in the hands of a few companies.
It takes significant effort
to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of mind.
Once lost, those who grow up in the digital age may have difficulty
Yes, I agree although
in fact I do not know the extent to which I am
"distracted" etc. I do
not think I am, but then I also refuse to use Facebook and
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Yes indeed - and I
There is an even more
alarming prospect on the horizon: an alliance between authoritarian
states and large data-rich IT monopolies, bringing together nascent
systems of corporate surveillance with already-developed systems of
state-sponsored surveillance. This may well result in a web of
totalitarian control the likes of which not even George Orwell could
The countries in which such
unholy marriages are likely to occur first are Russia and China.
Chinese IT companies in particular are fully equal to the US platforms.
"alliance between authoritarian states and
large data-rich IT monopolies, bringing together nascent systems of
corporate surveillance with already-developed systems of
in 2012, and you may be
interested in the article in which I did so: Crisis:
Christmas sermon: Hypotheses about CF+SS (and I think it is quite
And this is a recommended article.
UK’s Hidden Hand in Julian Assange’s Detention
This article is by Jonathan Cook on Counterpunch. It starts as follows:
It now emerges that the
last four years of Julian Assange’s effective imprisonment in the
Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact,
they depended on a legal charade.
Behind the scenes,
to drop the extradition case against Assange back in 2013. Why
was this not made public? Because Britain persuaded Sweden to pretend
that they still wished to pursue the case.
In other words, for more
than four years Assange has been holed up in a tiny room, policed at
great cost to British taxpayers, not because of any allegations in
Sweden but because the British authorities wanted him to remain there.
On what possible grounds could that be, one has to wonder? Might it
have something to do with his work as the head of Wikileaks, publishing
information from whistleblowers that has severely embarrassed the
United States and the UK.
Yes, this seems correct
- and of course Assange is holed up in the Ecuadoean embassy not
because of any strong case of the Swedes against him, but simply
because he is Julian Assange,
and he is a very important member of Wikileaks.
Here is some more:
In fact, Assange should
have walked free years ago if this was really about an investigation
sham one at that – into an alleged sexual assault in Sweden.
Instead, as Assange has long warned, there is a very different agenda
at work: efforts to extradite
him onwards to the US, where he could be locked away for good.
That was why UN
experts argued two years ago that he was being “arbitrarily
detained” – for political crimes – not unlike the situation of
dissidents in other parts of the world that win
the support of western liberals and leftists.
Yes, I think this is
all correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Assange is still holed up
in the embassy, at great risk to his physical and mental health, even
though last year Sweden formally dropped an investigation that in
reality it had not actually been pursuing for more than four years.
Now the UK (read US)
authorities have a new, even less credible pretext for continuing to
hold Assange: because he “skipped bail”. Apparently the price he should
pay for this relatively minor infraction is more than five years of
Yes indeed. But then
this is all about politics, and all about British law serving
the interests of British politicians. And this is a recommended