from February 27, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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 27, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Goodbye Castros, Hello Communist Party
2. Billionaire Koch Brothers Have Extracted “Laundry List” of
from Trump Admin
3. From Russia, With Absurdity
4. Growing Risk of U.S.-Iran Hostilities Based on False
Pretexts, Intel Vets
Moral Movement Against Violence
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:
Castros, Hello Communist Party
This article is by Javier Corrales and James Loxton on The New York
Times. It starts as follows:
For the first time
in six decades, Cuba is poised to have a non-Castro as leader. On March
11, Cuba will hold elections for the National Assembly, which in turn
will select the country’s next president on April 19. President Raúl
Castro, brother of the late Fidel Castro, will not run for re-election.
In 2012, he introduced term
limits and seems willing to honor them. The National Assembly is
widely expected to choose a successor from outside the Castro family.
What are we to
make of this succession? One optimistic reading is that this could be
the first step toward democracy. A more realistic reading is that Cuba
is heading for more of the same: undemocratic one-party rule.
more or less correct - and I review this article at least in part for
personal reasons, for I know some more about Cuba than
most people seem
again, the next bit I quote seems pure fantasy to me:
Yes, after more
two generations of rule by the Castros... and besides, I also
idea whatsoever about what The New York Times means by
"democracy". Perhaps they mean that great system that produced the madman Trump as
president of the USA?!
If the Cuban
Communist Party — the only party allowed to participate in elections
under the one-party regime — were smart, it would try to get out while
the getting is good. By transitioning to democracy on its own terms,
the party could reap benefits.
configured institutions and laws (for example, electoral laws) could be
tailor-made to its advantage. The party could take advantage of this
new freedom from the Castros to produce new freedoms for Cubans, thus
generating good will that could translate into votes.
After all, in many new
democracies, the old authoritarian ruling parties (or parties formed by
former authoritarians) remain prominent actors.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article. This is less
I more or less agree, and
I also point out that Raul Castro is 86, while his brother
Fidel Castro died at 90 in 2016.
for the Cuban people, there are few signs that this option is being
considered. Instead, most signs point to a continuation of the status
quo — a succession to a non-Castro, yes, but not a transition to a
freer regime. The Cuban regime remains fairly protected from domestic
pressures to become more democratic, even if it is ultimately in the
Cuban Communist Party’s long-term interests to do so.
while Mr. Castro will step down as president, he will not retire fully.
He will remain head of the Communist
Party and the unofficial
head of the military, the country’s two most important
institutions. When former authoritarian rulers retain control of key
parts of the state, they are able to veto any potential democratic
Koch Brothers Have Extracted “Laundry List” of Victories from Trump
article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts
with the following introduction:
The U.S. Supreme
Court is set to hear arguments today in a key case that could deal a
massive blow to unions nationwide. The case, Janus v. American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, deals with whether
workers who are covered by union-negotiated contracts are required to
pay a portion of union dues even if they are not members of the union.
This case is among a slew of conservative causes that right-wing donors
have poured money into in recent years—among them, the Koch brothers,
who recently boasted they’ve won a “laundry list” of victories from the
Trump administration. For more, we speak with Lee Fang, investigative
reporter for The Intercept. His recent piece is entitled “Koch Document
Reveals a Laundry List of Policy Victories Extracted from the Trump
I have not read
that article, but this introduction is quite correct, and here is more:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lee, speaking of
marketing efforts, I wanted to ask you about another big marketing
effort. The Koch brothers art talking about spending somewhere between
$400 and $500 million on the upcoming midterm elections. Could you talk
about their network, the Seminar Network, that you’ve looked into, and
what the impact of such huge spending could be on these upcoming
FANG: Well, look, the Koch
brothers, for over a decade now, have organized other Republican
donors—these are billionaires, very wealthy donors—to attend secret
gatherings with the Koch brothers to pledge money to the Koch network.
And this Koch network money goes to a range of groups, different think
tanks, university efforts, but also the campaign advertisements and
grassroots efforts to get out the vote. The Seminar Network is an
effort to institutionalize this fundraising network. They meet twice a
year. There was a recent meeting at Indian Wells, where about 500
different donors came to listen to the Koch brothers and update them
about their strategy.
And, you know, the big
priority for the Koch brothers this year, in this midterm election, is
to preserve the Republican majorities in Congress and to continue to
elect Republicans on the state level. And there’s kind of two big
efforts that are going on right now. They’re very worried about the
upcoming census, that will redraw the political maps in every single
state just in two years. So, whoever controls the legislatures after
this midterm elections will draw the maps over the next decade.
I think this is a good
analysis. Here is some on what the Koch brothers achieved in 2017:
FANG: (..) You know, in
the backdrop of a very chaotic first year, Donald Trump has actually
helped achieve much of what the Koch brothers have lobbied for for a
very long time, in really rapid succession. You know, in three primary
areas that we talk about in the piece, the Republicans in Congress and
Trump enacted tax cuts that the Koch brothers have fought very hard
for. And these are tax cuts weighted to the top. There was a recent
estimate that said that each Koch brother, David and Charles Koch, will
receive $500 million per year—that’s an estimate—just from the tax bill
I take it that they
recovered their outlay with profit, but I do not know. And here is what
the Koch brothers hope for in the case of the present trial before the
Quite so. And this is why
this case is very important. This is a
recommended article, in which
there is considerably more.
FANG: This Janus
case could be the most devastating blow to progressive politics since
the Citizens United decision. Simply put, if this case goes
through—and it’s looking very likely, with Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme
Court, that they will decide in favor of the plaintiffs—it will allow,
as you mentioned, right-to-work rules for public sector employees
nationwide. That means that even for members or nonmembers of unions,
members can—unions can no longer withdraw what’s called agency fees.
That’s the kind of money that’s deducted from a paycheck to represent a
worker under contract. And when unions can no longer collect those
fees, as we’ve seen on the private sector side, many unions kind of
enter a death spiral.
Russia, With Absurdity
This article is by Eleanor Goldfield on Truthdig. It starts
Before I get into the
absurdities of “Russiagate” and McCarthyism 2.0, let me point out that
I do, in fact, dislike Donald Trump and the Republican Party
establishment. I also dislike Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party
establishment. Those feelings are not mutually exclusive.
For some reason, our
country’s political discourse is like a single-throw switch. You can
only either be Republican or Democrat. Leaving aside the fact that in
accounted for almost 40 percent of registered voters, more than
Democrats (32 percent) and Republicans (23 percent), the idea that we
can only exist in one extreme or the other is the kind of absurd
paradigm that both civil wars and sandbox tiffs are made of.
Yes indeed: I completely
agree (and in fact this is a quite good article, in my
Also, I should add that
one of my reasons to completely agree is that I am not
but Dutch, and the Dutch - of which there are a bit more than 17
million, in all - have a political system in which some 15 political
parties compete for votes, and normally the Dutch government is made up
of 4 to 6 political parties, in some sort of compromise.
I have known that Dutch
system all my life, and while I cannot say I am happy
with it, the
reasons for my unhappiness is not at all with the number of
but with the average intelligence
of its voters, and with
the moral and intellectual level of most political candidates.
And I also should add
that the American system, where there are but two parties
that may win
presidential elections, does seem to me to be less
democratic than the
Dutch system (and like somewhat similar other European systems), for
the simple reason that you cannot fairly distinguish between policies
if all the policies you can vote for are one of two.
Here is more from
I think this sounds quite
correct. You may ask what is the evidence that
Russia is rivalling
Pearl Harbor (?!?!). Well... this is it (about Facebook,
that seems to be Russia's main client for spreading false
It is also what Russiagate
is made of. On our two-dimensional political stage, all cameras are
focused on a blurry, nebulous mass labeled “Russia did it.” The
political theater involved with turning this heap of fallacies and
conjecture into something
that rivals Pearl Harbor and 9/11 is as impressive as it is
The entire media machine is exhausting itself running anti-Russia
stories nonstop, as if the entire world has set aside all its
differences, crises and disasters just so we would have nothing else to
report on. On four separate occasions at four different airports, I
found myself bombarded with televisions blaring, “Russia meddled in our
elections and stole the crown from Hillary” on repeat.
I agree with Jill
this, though this doesn't mean that the propaganda
that "Russia did it"
isn't very strong in the USA.
Last October, Facebook’s
newsroom reported that 10 million people in the U.S. saw the ads.
The report also states that only 44 percent of the ad impressions
occurred before the election, meaning that the majority happened after.
Furthermore, roughly 25 percent of the ads were never shown to anyone.
Later that month, Facebook told Congress that 126 million Americans had
seen “divisive content” posted by “Russian agents.” Ads are not
specified, nor do we know what is specifically meant by “divisive.”
Still, even on the high side, by Facebook’s own admission, the IRA
posts were equivalent to 1 in 23,000 of Facebook’s posts.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein pointed out in a
recent MSNBC interview, the fact that her campaign got a mention or two
in these Russian ads “compared to trillions of ads on Facebook” just
doesn’t even “pass the laugh test.”
Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article, which is
again about Facebook:
own algorithm is structured to show you things that you already
agree with. Known as “filter bubbles,” Facebook builds an online
experience that coddles your bias and keeps you away from opposing
perspectives, even if they feature a rather sharp-looking graphic of
Satan and Jesus.
That is, Facebook steals
all your privacy and "rewards" you by sending you advertisements
"for free" that may save you a few pennies; its owner meanwhile has
assembled $70 billions from its 2 billion members ($35 dollar
per member); and it works by flattering its 2 billlion morons,
sucking up to them by selecting the stuff that already
satisfies their prejudices...
...anyway, this is a good article about the horrors of
Facebook, that is recommended.
Risk of U.S.-Iran Hostilities Based on False Pretexts, Intel Vets Warn
This article is by the
VIPS on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Yes indeed - and please note
VIPS are made up of more
than twenty former prominent members of the NSA, the CIA or the FBI:
These are not naive people at all, for they all know a
great amount about the spying that the USA does these days (on
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
War With Iran
In our December
21st Memorandum to you, we cautioned that the claim that Iran is
currently the world’s top sponsor of terrorism is unsupported by hard
evidence. Meanwhile, other false accusations against Iran have
intensified. Thus, we feel obliged to alert you to the virtually
inevitable consequences of war with Iran, just as we warned President
George W. Bush six weeks before the U.S. attack on Iraq 15 years ago.
first Memorandum in this genre we told then-President Bush
that we saw “no compelling reason” to attack Iraq, and warned “the
unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” The
consequences will be far worse, should the U.S. become drawn into war
with Iran. We fear that you are not getting the straight story on
this from your intelligence and national security officials.
After choosing “War With Iran”
for the subject-line of this Memo, we were reminded that we had used it
before, namely, for a Memorandum to
President Obama on August 3, 2010 in similar circumstances.
And I think this memo is quite good, but I will only select two
bits to review. The first is this:
I think this is all factually
correct. And here is the second bit that I quote, which is from the
We believe that the recent
reporting regarding possible conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea
has somewhat obscured consideration of the significantly higher
probability that Israel or even Saudi Arabia will take steps that will
lead to a war with Iran that will inevitably draw the United States in.
Israel is particularly inclined to move aggressively, with potentially
serious consequences for the U.S., in the wake of the recent incident
involving an alleged Iranian drone and the shooting down of an Israeli
There is also considerable
anti-Iran rhetoric in U.S. media, which might well facilitate a
transition from a cold war-type situation to a hot war involving U.S.
I agree with all of this, and
repeat that each and all of the 21
signatures does know a great amount about the security and the
spying of the USA. Incidentally, while Iraq had around 37 million
inhabitants, Iran has around 80 million inhabitants. And this
is a recommended article.
In sum, we see a growing
risk that the U.S. will become drawn into hostilities on pretexts
fabricated by Israel and Saudi Arabia for their actual common objective
(“regime change” in Iran). A confluence of factors and misconceptions
about what is at stake and how such a conflict is likely to develop,
coming from both inside and outside the Administration have,
unfortunately, made such an outcome increasingly likely.
We have seen this picture
before, just 15 years ago in Iraq, which should serve as a
warning. The prevailing perception of threat that the Mullahs of
Iran allegedly pose directly against the security of the U.S. is
largely contrived. Even if all the allegations were true, they would
not justify an Iraq-style “preventive war” violating national as well
as international law. An ill-considered U.S. intervention in Iran is
surely not worth the horrific humanitarian, military, economic, and
political cost to be paid if Washington allows itself to become part of
an armed attack.
5. The Moral Movement
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as
Join the Ku Klux
and get 10 percent off on your next Fed Ex shipment!
This is the first
statement of this article, and I selected it because I want to make a
comment on it:
I do not think the above statement has been used, but it does
correspond to the style of Facebook, which is a neofascist
led by Mark Zuckerberg. It has presently over 2 billion members (of
which I suspect about 1% are capable of writing their own site in
html), and it does work on the above sort of schema:
If you, as a member of Facebook, sign away all your rights on any kind
of privacy (which seems to happen mostly automatically, but
which I do not know because I detest an despise
Facebook, and I am certainly not going to read their legalisms), then you
are "rewarded" with being sent free advertisements that will
allow you to save a few pennies.
Since I hate, detest and despise all advertisements,
and all lies
that are spread around society as if they are its
lifeblood, since almost sixty years now, I hate, detest and despise
Facebook, with the addition that I very much fear
absolutely anyone who
does read my e-mails, which I regard as a very great
And I do so not because my e-mails contain illegal materials
(they do not) but because I regard each and every
institution - like Facebook, like Google, like the NSA, like
probably all the spies from anywhere - that reads my e-mails as
a thoroughly neofascist
institution that is out to kill democracy and replace
it with an authoritarian
system that is run by and for the
very few rich.
Here is more by Robert Reich:
Yes, that is correct to the best
of my knowledge, but it also is correct to the best of my knowledge
that what the majority of all Americans think has become rather
irrelevant in the USA: What is relevant are the very rich, who
down millions to buy Members of Congress so as to make the decisions
the very rich want - and see item 2 for an outline
of how this works and how this is rewarded: If
in a position to lay out millions, you are in the position to have your
desires satisfied and to get many more millions than you laid out - and
that seems to be the only way in the present
American system in which
you can be fairly certain that you can get what you wish.
At last week’s CPAC
conference, NRA president Wayne LaPierre cloaked his pro-gun address in
paranoia about a
“tidal wave” of “European-style socialists bearing down upon us,”
telling his audience “you
should be frightened.”
Most Americans know
this kind of talk is bonkers. Not incidentally, most Americans also
percent support universal background checks and 70
percent favor registering
all guns with the police.
Here is some more by Robert Reich:
I more or less agree, although I
have to admit that I am less optimistic than Reich seems to be.
Harvey Weinstein and
his ilk aren’t killers but they are accused of assaulting and even
raping women whose
careers depended on them.
For years, these women
didn’t dare raise their voices. They were told this was the way the
worked, much as we’ve been told for years there’s no way to take on the
Would the #MeToo
movement have erupted without the abuser-in-chief in the Oval Office?
But Trump’s personal history – 19 women have accused him of sexual
misconduct – has helped fuel it.
movement predated Trump, but our racist-in-chief – who criticizes black
for protesting police violence – has given it new meaning and urgency
My reason is simple: I like the #MeToo
and the #BlackLivesMatter
movements (more than not, at least), but I do not know whether
will survive more than a half year - at least as somewhat prominent
forces - in the present USA, especially if the support by the press
wanes, as it almost certainly will.
This is from the ending of the article:
I have three remarks on
In order to survive,
people need several things – food, water, a roof over our heads. But
basic of all is safety. That’s why governments were created in the
If Americans can’t be
secure from someone packing an assault rifle, or from the predatory
powerful men, or from the police, we do not live in a functioning
Make no mistake. This
is all about power – a powerful political lobby that has bullied
America for too
long, powerful men who haven’t been held accountable for their
who for too long have been unconstrained.
A moral movement is
growing against the violence perpetrated by all of them, making it
necessary for both government and business to take action.
First, it would seem to me as if the American stopped being "a functioning society" by 2002 at the latest, simply because (to select only
one reason from quite a few more) "powerful men", who are always
the rich men in the USA, have very much more power than
at least 90
and probably than 99% of all Americans.
Second, Reich is quite right that the few powerful men who "bullied America for too
long" indeed have not
"been held accountable for
their behavior" for
And therefore third, I am not convinced (at all) that the "moral movement" which Reich sees "growing" will succeed. I hope
will, but in the 55 years I have been following politics,
learned that the rich and the powerful are mostly the same, and that
they mostly win.
But I do hope they will loose this time, and this is a recommended
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 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
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 (!!).