from February 17, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
2018. There also is another Nederlog of today, but it is in Dutch. In
case you read Dutch, you can read it here.
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 17, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Is Donald Trump a Traitor?
2. Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s New President, Known for
Profits to Offshore Tax Havens
3. A Good Day on Wall Street Is a Bad Day for Most Americans
4. Russians Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy
5. Mueller Charges 13 Russians With Interfering in the 2016
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:
Donald Trump a Traitor?
This article is by James
Risen on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
I find it hard to write
about Donald Trump.
It is not that he is a
complicated subject. Quite the opposite. It is that everything about
him is so painfully obvious. He is a low-rent racist, a shameless
misogynist, and an unbalanced narcissist. He is an unrelenting liar and
a two-bit white identity demagogue. Lest anyone forget these things, he
goes out of his way each day to remind us of them.
At the end of the day, he
is certain to be left in the dustbin of history, alongside Father
Coughlin and Gen. Edwin Walker. (Exactly – you don’t remember them,
What more can I add?
Unfortunately, another word
also describes him: president. The fact that such an unstable egomaniac
occupies the White House is the greatest threat to the national
security of the United States in modern history.
Which brings me to the only
question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a
Did he gain the presidency
through collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin?
year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president
of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and
think about that for a moment.
I say, for I find this
at least a little bit odd.
Here is my
explanation, with references to the above paragraphs:
Paragraph 2: I think that it mostly correct (but it is all -
mostly - a matter of values,
not of facts).
Paragraph 3: I don't
think so (and I do know who Father Coughlin
was) and for a simple reason: Neither came close to being a
president of the USA.
Paragraph 5: I agree
(and I like the lettering of "president", which happens to be mine as
Paragraph 6: I
certainly do not think so, and indeed am rather amazed why
James Risen can insist that "the only question about Donald Trump that I find really
interesting: Is he a traitor?":
Is this about the
same man who was a bit earlier described as: a racist, a misogynist,
an unbalanced narcissist, a two-bit identity demagogue,
and an unstable egomaniac - and the only question you
want to consider about a man like that is ... whether he is (also)
a traitor? And not - for example - how such a man could
mislead 60 million Americans to vote for him? Because
all or most of
the 60 million were - somehow: ask the NSA for details - given
false information by the (secret) Russians that convinced them to vote
for - the racist, misogynist, narcissist, and two-bit identity
I am sorry, but I find
that rather odd....
Paragraph 8: ... and
the more so as Risen himself insists (here,
at the beginning of his fairly long article) that "it is still unclear whether the president of
the United States is an agent of a foreign power".
I agree with
this last part, but from the rest of the article it seems as if Risen
got (more or less) convinced by the FBI, the CIA and the NSA that their
story is (more or less) correct.
Anyway... here is more
from the article:
But if a presidential
candidate or his lieutenants secretly work with a foreign government
that is a longtime adversary of the United States to manipulate and
then win a presidential election, that is almost a textbook definition
In Article 3, Section 3,
the U.S. Constitution states that “treason against the United States,
shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their
Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Based on that provision in
the Constitution, U.S. law – 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – states that
“[w]hoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against
them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within
the United States or elsewhere” is guilty of treason. Those found
guilty of this high crime “shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned
not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than
$10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United
I am thankful for the
clarification of how treason is punished in the USA, but in fact that
is not the point.
The question at issue
is whether Trump "or
his lieutenants secretly work with a foreign government that is a
longtime adversary of the United States to manipulate and then win a
And so far, and since
the end of 2016 (!!!) I have not seen any good evidence that
this is the case. This does not mean it is false: it
means what I say it means, namely that there is no good evidence
this is so. As James Risen himself said so, in
the beginning of this article.
Besides, there is one
thing that seems odd to me, viz. the description of Russia and
of Putin as longtime adversaries of the United States:
In my opinion -
and that is not just an opinion - the Russians turned
capitalist in the early 1990ies, and indeed were helped a great
amount by the Americans, both with political help and with money,
to make the transition from socialism (or: centralized authoritarian
state- capitalism) to capitalism (or: a non-centralized state where the
rich are in command).
But Risen seems to agree that the Russians really are as anti-American
as they were before 1990, though he does not give any
Here is some more:
On May 17, 2017, Rosenstein
a letter stating that he was appointing a special counsel to
“ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s
efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” He added that
Mueller’s mandate was to investigate “any links and/or coordination
between the Russian government and individuals associated with the
campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may
arise directly from the investigation.” Rosenstein noted that “[i]f the
Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special
Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the
investigation of these matters.”
How closely aligned is
Mueller’s mandate with the legal definition of treason? That boils down
to the rhetorical differences between giving “aid and comfort, in the
United States or elsewhere” to “enemies” of the United States and “any
links and/or coordination” between the Russian government and Trump
campaign aides related to “the Russian government’s efforts to
interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”
I think that is all
correct, but it is not evidence. Then again, according to Risen
it is, and in fact Risen concludes this:
Given all this, it seems
increasingly likely that the Russians have pulled off the most
consequential covert action operation since Germany put Lenin on a
train back to Petrograd in 1917.
I am sorry, but without
any evidence I qualify this as bullshit - and
I am sorry to do so, but this is what I think.
Here is Risen's plan
for three more articles in The Intercept:
There are four important
tracks to follow in the Trump-Russia story. First, we must determine
whether there is credible evidence for the underlying premise that
Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win. Second, we
must figure out whether Trump or people around him worked with the
Russians to try to win the election. Next, we must scrutinize the
evidence to understand whether Trump and his associates have sought to
obstruct justice by impeding a federal investigation into whether Trump
and Russia colluded. A fourth track concerns whether Republican leaders
are now engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice through
their intense and ongoing efforts to discredit Mueller’s probe.
This, my first column for
The Intercept, will focus on the first track of the Trump-Russia
narrative. I will devote separate columns to each of the other tracks
Well... I shall look at
them, but I don't agree with the following estimate:
The evidence that Russia
intervened in the election to help Trump win is already compelling, and
it grows stronger by the day.
And as I pointed out,
in the beginning of this article Risen's
position is rather different than at the end.
Ramaphosa, South Africa’s New President, Known for Moving Profits to
Offshore Tax Havens
This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts as follows:
Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa has been confirmed as the new president
of South Africa, after the former leader, Jacob Zuma, resigned from
office abruptly on Wednesday night amid a series of corruption
scandals. Ramaphosa once led the National Union of Mineworkers under
apartheid in the 1980s. He later built a business empire that
encompassed mining interests—including the Marikana platinum mine,
where police killed 34 workers during a strike in 2012. Ramaphosa is
now one of Africa’s wealthiest men, with a net worth of about $450
million. Now, activists are talking about Ramaphosa’s ties to tax
havens during his time in the corporate sector. We go to Johannesburg
to speak with activist Koketso Moeti, founder of the community advocacy
organization Amandla.mobi. Her recent piece for News24 is headlined
“The rich can’t steal, right?”
I say! Well... I disliked
Zuma, and it seems Ramaphosa is no better:
If these are the facts, I
think Ramaphosa is as bad as Zuma, for the simple reason that you do not
become half a billionaire without considerable corruption and
GOODMAN: The new
president, Cyril Ramaphosa, once led the National Union of Mineworkers
during apartheid in the '80s, a famous anti-apartheid leader. He would
later build a business empire that included mining interests, including
the Marikana platinum mine, where police killed 34 workers during a
strike in 2012. Now Ramaphosa is one of Africa's wealthiest men, with a
net worth of nearly what? Half a billion dollars. Can you talk about
who he is?
MOETI: Yeah. So, Cyril
Ramaphosa, part of the anti-apartheid movement, a strong leader in the ANC, a long tradition of trade unionism, he
stepped down from formal politics in the early '90s. And since then,
he's been involved in the corporate sector. During his time there, in
the corporate sector, there’s been a bit of a series of scandals that
have happened. And it’s an interesting pattern of behavior.
So, what we have is, in 2012,
he was on the Lonmin board of directors. And during this time, there
was an explosive report that was received—that was released by the
Alternative Information and Development Centre, that found that Lonmin
could have, in fact, afforded a living wage for the mine workers who
were brutally gunned down, if they had not been shifting profits. So
there was a strong allegation of profit shifting. And then an
investigative journalism organization called amaBhungane did an
investigation in 2015, where they found that during the years that
Cyril Ramaphosa was the chairperson of the MTN
board, MTN had been shifting billions in
profit from the continent to outside.
Here is Moeti's concluding judgement (whom I am more inclined
believe than the major and very rich capitalist Ramaphosa):
(..) I think we should be deeply concerned, and we should be just as
vigilant as we were in the time that we had President Jacob Zuma, if
not more so.
I think she is probably
Good Day on Wall Street Is a Bad Day for Most Americans
This article is by Lee Camp
on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
The stock market recently
had one of its worst single-day plunges in history: 1,600 points at one
point. All the corporate media heads ran around telling you everything
will be OK and not to panic because your bichon frisé puppy still will
be able to afford his mani-pedi. But the mainstream media are careful
to avoid telling you the censored side of this story.
They’re not telling you
that we have an economy that, at its core, is based on death, misery
and hardship. It’s not based on health and happiness and life. When
it’s humming along, that means our obliteration of the planet is
running full steam ahead, and average workers are being appropriately
repressed and held down, hoping to collect enough food stamps to
papier-mâché a cast on their broken arm. In fact, The Washington Post
admitted it this week—but acted
surprised when they said it: “Many analysts pointed to a seemingly
unusual cause for the turbulence: rising wages.”
Yes, I agree with this.
And I have two - broad - reasons to do so:
First, about 80%
of all Americans own no or very little stocks. Stocks are bought almost
only by the richest 20% of all Americans (and indeed the richer the
more stocks tend to be bought and traded).
And second, Camp is
right that (i) the wages most people get
(around 80 to 90%) have not risen (in real terms) since 1980
(!!) and that (ii) the main break on the profits that the rich make
are the wages they pay - and the rich paid fewer and fewer
wages (proportionally) since 1980, and got richer and richer.
As to the richest
According to Time magazine,
Richest 10% of Americans Now Own 84% of All Stocks.” We’re told to all
celebrate how well the market is doing, but it’s just the rich further
enriching themselves by playing games with the lives of everyone else.
It’s like Monopoly (...)
I agree with this as
well, though I also agree that the values expressed
are probably not the values of all.
Here is more on the
A leaked 2005 internal
Citigroup memo, the parent
company of Citibank, read:
“The world is divided into two blocs – the Plutonomy and the rest …
plutonomies are economies powered by the wealthy.” Ajay Kapur, lead
author of the report, said powered by the wealthy, but he
means exploited by the wealthy. The memo continued: “In a
plutonomy there is no such animal as ‘the U.S. consumer’ or ‘the UK
consumer,’ or indeed the ‘Russian consumer.’ There are rich consumers,
few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and
consumption they take. There are the rest, the ‘non-rich’, the
multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of
the national pie.”
Well... yes and no.
First, this is
meanwhile 13 years ago. Second, the only reason I can
think of why the authors of the report avoided the term "plutocrats"
is that they thought it was not sympathetic enough to the
plutocrats (for the term means: the rich rulers). And third,
what the authors of this report do not say is that what once
were the citizens of the USA,
meanwhile have been changed, mostly through an unending series of lies and propaganda,
into willing consumers of the
USA, now are being again changed from consumers of the
USA to consumers anywhere, namely where the few rich
make the biggest profits on the consuming many.
But I do not
know whether Camp disagrees with me, and he certainly is right that the
large masses have little to spend compared to the rich few.
Here is more on Obama,
who was a fraud (I
agree, and have said so since the end of 2009):
Citigroup is saying that
the levers of the state cannot stop us, the rich, from doing whatever
we want, because we own the government. They’re our gimps on
a chain in the basement. In case you’ve forgotten, WikiLeaks emails
revealed that Citigroup chose nearly all of Barack
Obama’s 2008 cabinet. They told him exactly whom to pick before he
even became president. And Trump also has surrounded himself with
Citigroup and Goldman Sachs affiliates.
I think this is
probably quite correct. Then there is this on relative riches and the
minimum wage - and recall what I said above on the
Right about now you’re
thinking, “But Lee, when the stock market goes down, it hurts
productivity. It hurts the GDP.” Well, first of all, average Americans
are not benefiting from the productivity gains. In 1968, the minimum
wage was $1.60. According to the Center
for Economic and Policy Research, “If the minimum wage had
continued to move with average productivity after 1968, it would have
reached $21.72 per hour in 2012. … If minimum-wage workers received
only half of the productivity gains over the period, the federal
minimum would be $15.34.”
According to the Economic
Policy Institute, “In 2007, average annual incomes of the top 1
percent of households were 42 times greater than incomes of the bottom
90 percent (up from 14 times greater in 1979), and incomes of the 0.1
percent were 220 times greater (up from 47 times greater in 1979).”
In fact, the minimum
wage in the USA in 2018 is $7.25 - which explains
why the top 1 percent got 42 times more than 90% in 2007 (which
is three times as much as they got in 1979).
In very brief terms,
here is "the secret" of the American economy:
The gains. Go. To. The. Top.
I agree. The article ends as
Well... maybe it is ten
percent who are celebrating, possibly even twenty percent,
though not more, for the remaining 80% got hardly anything more
One percent of America is
celebrating. It’s time to do things differently.
And I do not care how many are rejoicing as long as it is a
considerable minority. I agree with this article, but I concede my
agreement is basically on values. This is a
Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy
This article is by Ray McGovern and William Binney on Consortiumnews.
It starts as follows:
Moscow is showing
understandable concern over the lowering of the threshold for employing
nuclear weapons to include retaliation for cyber-attacks, a change
announced on Feb. 2 in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
Yes, I think this is probably
quite correct. It also suggests one way in which Trump and his
government or indeed the FBI, CIA and NSA, may want to start a
nuclear war with Russia:
Explaining the shift in
U.S. doctrine on first-use, the NPR cites the efforts of potential
adversaries “to design and use cyber weapons” and explains the change
as a “hedge” against non-nuclear threats. In response, Russia described
the move as an “attempt to shift onto others one’s own responsibility”
for the deteriorating security situation.
Moscow’s concern goes beyond
rhetoric. Cyber-attacks are notoriously difficult to trace to the
actual perpetrator and can be pinned easily on others in what we call
It accuses them of a cyber-attack, and then attacks them with nuclear
How probable is this? I have no idea, but I agree the present time is a
more dangerous time, in nuclear terms, than any I have
lived through in my 67 years, with the exception of the Cuban missile crisis
(when I was 12).
Here is one more bit from this article:
Yes, thay is probably
correct. Then again, while I agree that the text of this article
supports its title, I would have liked to hear more about
Binney and McGovern's opinion about James Risen's article, that I
reviewed as item 1.
Last October CIA Director
Mike Pompeo invited one of us (Binney) into his office to discuss
Russian hacking. Binney told Pompeo his analysts had lied and that
he could prove it.
In retrospect, the
Pompeo-Binney meeting appears to have been a shot across the bow of
those cyber warriors in the CIA, FBI, and NSA with the means and
incentive to adduce “just discovered” evidence of Russian hacking.
Charges 13 Russians With Interfering in the 2016 Presidential Election
This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Special Counsel Robert
Mueller's office on Friday announced federal
against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities—including a
farm"—for conspiring to interfere "with the U.S. political and
electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016." "Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and
without revealing their Russian association, communicated with
unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other
political activists to seek to coordinate political activities," the
37-page indictment reads. "Defendants made various expenditures to
carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements
on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities."
The indictments are being
characterized as one of the most significant moments of Mueller's
Russia probe, which has thus far elicited charges against four
Americans who played
a role in President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.
I think this is a fair
summary. Here is some more:
The Russians named in
Mueller's indictment stand accused of deploying a wide variety of
tactics in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 election in
President Donald Trump's favor, including attempting to suppress
minority turnout and staging
Yes, I think this is also
However, the rest of
this article is taken up by two tweets from some degenerate who calls
himself or herself "Public Citizen", and I simply refuse to
copy anonymous bullshit from Twitter, and I also simply refuse
to review articles which contain more than three Tweets:
I think Tweets are
carefully considered attempts to force anybody using them to express
themselves only in slogans,
but with their name and alias always published twice in
every goddamned Tweet, and I think they are the postmodern neofascistic
norm for "communication".
And I think all Tweets stink. And if you can't smell it, there
is something wrong with your intelligence.