from March 3, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
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 March 3, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Jared Kushner’s Real-Estate Firm Sought Money Directly
2. Our Newest Culture Warriors: Activist C.E.O.s
Trade Wars Are Destructive. Of Course Trump
to Prevent More Billionaires from Happening
5. Missile-gate: U.S. Intel Misses Russia’s Big Advances in
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:
Kushner’s Real-Estate Firm Sought Money Directly From Qatar
article is by Clayton Swisher and Ryan Grim. It starts as follows:
The real estate firm tied to the family of
presidential son-in-law and top White House adviser Jared Kushner made
a direct pitch to Qatar’s minister of finance in April 2017 in an
attempt to secure investment in a critically distressed asset in the
company’s portfolio, according to two sources. At the previously
unreported meeting, Jared Kushner’s father Charles, who runs Kushner
Companies, and Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi discussed financing for
the Kushners’ signature 666
Fifth Avenue property in New York City.
The 30-minute meeting, according to two
sources in the financial industry who asked not to be named because of
the sensitivity of the potential transaction, included aides to both parties, and was
held at a suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.
I take it this is correct, although it seems
to me that it is not true to speak in the title of
"Jared Kushner's Real Estate Firm" while one says in the text
that "Jared Kushner’s father Charles" (..) "runs
Probably both are involved in the
Kushner businesses. And the reason this article is reviewed here is
that Jared Kushner has been given an enormous amount of power
by Donald Trump (his father in law) since about a year, and seems to
have done absolutely nothing useful with it, or at least not
for members outside the Trump family.
And the projected deal was not made.
What happened then was the following:
The failure to broker the deal would be
followed only a month later by a
Middle Eastern diplomatic row in which Jared Kushner provided
critical support to Qatar’s neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with
Kushner’s backing, led a diplomatic assault that culminated in a
blockade of Qatar. Kushner, according to reports at the time, subsequently
undermined efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an
end to the standoff.
Of course, I do not know all or most
of the deal and its failure, but this has the appearance as if Kushner,
after having been led down by Qatar's leading men, used
the war powers of the American government to make serious difficulties
As I implied, this is a guess by me.
Here is some more on both of the Kushners:
The news of Kushner Companies’ direct pitch
to the Qatari government puts a Wednesday report from the Washington Post into broader context. U.S. intelligence services, the paper
reported, had determined that officials in four countries — the United
Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico — had been privately
discussing how to use Jared Kushner’s real-estate investments as a way
to gain leverage over him in order to influence official U.S. policy.
Kushner has divested from a small portion of
Kushner Companies, but has retained substantial ownership. A balloon
payment due in 2018 on the badly underwater property at 666 Fifth
Avenue has been a ticking clock on the fortunes of the Kushner family,
precipitating the global hunt for capital. The Washington Post reported earlier this year that the father-son pair,
Jared and Charles Kushner, speak on a daily basis.
I say. There probably will be more on the
deals of the Kushners later, and this is a recommended article.
Newest Culture Warriors: Activist C.E.O.s
This article is by Aaron K. Chatterji on The New York Times. It starts
In the wake of
the school shootings in Parkland, Fla., companies like Delta, Hertz and
Symantec distanced themselves from the National Rifle Association by
eliminating benefits to their members.
Goods, which owns 35 Field and Stream stores (which feature hunting
gear and supplies), took it a step further: The company announced that
it had unilaterally raised the age limit for firearms sales and stopped
selling the AR-15, the weapon used in Parkland and other recent mass
shootings. The chief executive, Edward Stack, said that the company was
“going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and,
hopefully, bring people along into the conversation.” Less than 24
hours later, Walmart joined Dick’s in raising the age limit on firearm
sales (Walmart stopped selling AR-15s years ago).
They exemplify a
recent phenomenon, “C.E.O.
activism,” in which corporations and their chief executives pick a
side in the culture war.
which I do because I am against C.E.O. activism, for a similar
reason as I am against them having salaries of millions
each year. And while I do not know whether that last fact
is true about Dick's Sporting Goods, here is a bit more about it:
I do not care how
the C.E.O.s place themselves politically (most are liars anyway, for
one thing), but I do care about the totalitarian climate - the "political polarization
and so-called negative partisanship — an automatic rejection of members
of the opposing party" -
that is part and parcel of this whole movement (except according
to Wikipedia, that - totally falsely -
insists that only states are totalitarian:
Not people, not parties, not
ideologies, not language - only states may be totalitarian (and fuck George Orwell
and everybody else I have been reading about totalitarianism in the last 50 years: according
to the anonymous sadofascist who rewrote the Wikipedia article,
they are all completely mistaken. As is the Wikipedia in
has typically not brought people together, working from the middle out.
Instead, this type of activism, largely from the progressive side, has
begun to galvanize conservatives. For example, in Georgia, lawmakers
stripped tax breaks for Delta over its decision to cut ties with the
In the short term, Dick’s will
become another corporate poster child for how political polarization
and so-called negative partisanship — an automatic rejection of members
of the opposing party — are infecting our society.
Here is more on C.E.O. activism and totalitarian tendencies in the USA (but not according to Wikipedia):
represents a historic shift in the way corporations intersect with
national politics. Rather than chief executives shaping political
discourse, however, our toxic political environment is dictating
corporate strategy. Instead of being cast as practical technocrats who
could unite us, chief executives will be swept up in our cultural war,
just like university presidents, celebrities, professional athletes and
religious leaders before them.
likely to become even more segmented into red and blue, strengthening
the association between liberals and Priuses and conservatives and
Cracker Barrel. Corporate brand campaigns could soon resemble political
campaigns, with efforts to identify the most intensely loyal consumers
for repeat purchases as opposed to attracting new ones.
possibly so, although the shift towards totalitarianism
in the USA (but not according to Wikipedia) is not only
due to C.E.O.s but - it seems to me - is mostly the outcome of the
bad education most Americans get these days.
Well... I have not
become what Chatterji insists Americans ("we" says Chatterji) have
become. Then again, I very probably do belong to a minority.
Much of this is
a reflection of who we have become. Corporate America thrives by
selling us what we want, and they do that by appealing to our
identities. In 2018, for many Americans, our political identity seems
to define us more than ever. It already influences whom we socialize
with on Facebook, whom we marry, what news we read and where we live.
It was only a matter of time before this big sort started to shape our
consumer behavior, too.
Wars Are Destructive. Of Course Trump Wants One.
This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York
Times. It starts as follows:
has been spoiling for a trade war since before his election. Now, he
has taken the first meaningful step with his decision to impose
tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. And, as with so many other
policies he has supported, he appears to have little understanding of
rarely used law that allows the president to restrict trade on national
security grounds, Mr. Trump said he would impose a 25 percent tariff on
steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. He made the announcement on
Thursday at a hastily convened meeting with executives of those two
industries. Many White House aides, including Mr. Trump’s chief
economic adviser, Gary Cohn, appeared to be caught off guard by the
decision; on Wednesday, Mr. Cohn had warned
that he might resign if Mr. Trump went through with the tariff plan.
which I do for two reasons: the - in my eyes rather extra-ordinary
fact, seeing that the USA is fighting wars it should not
fight, because there never was approval from Congress - that Trump
appealed to "national security" to implement his trade war, while also
(I take it) a trade war may be Trump's way to "Make America Great
I do not know but guess. Here is one immediate
The stock market
fell sharply after the announcement because investors feared that the
move was the first of several that could result in escalating disputes
in which the United States and its trading partners impose new tariffs.
Mr. Trump seemed to confirm that fear on Friday morning when he tweeted
that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” — an argument that
contradicts virtually everything we have learned about how such
scenarios play out.
that the speculators on the stock market were quite correct.
Here is some more:
The steel and
aluminum tariffs are ostensibly aimed at punishing China, which has
been driving down prices for those commodities by producing far more
metal than the world can use. But Mr. Trump’s move will have a limited
effect on China because much
of the steel and aluminum
the United States imports actually comes from allies like Canada,
Brazil, South Korea and Mexico. Further, the move could hurt American
businesses that use these metals, including auto and construction
companies, which will now pay more for a critical raw material.
Quite so, it
seems to me. And here is
the general point of The Editorial Board:
Yes indeed. And this is a
The steel and
aluminum tariffs might, on their own, have only a small impact on the
economy. But the greater fear many experts have is that Mr. Trump is
just getting started and will impose new tariffs on a host of other
imports, sending the United States into a much
broader trade war, the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since
the Great Depression. That would have a large and devastating
economic impact, in the United States and around the globe.
to Prevent More Billionaires from Happening
This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as
In fact I am not
American but Dutch, and in fact I never loved or defended
billionaires or multi- millionaires. The last fact is mainly due to the
fact that my parents were both communists for 45 years (while both also
were quite heroic in WW II) and while I gave up on communism when I was
20, in 1970, unlike anyone I knew at the time, I did not
give up on my parents' ideals of far more economic and political
equality between people, and in fact I think their ideals are
still mostly correct:
Imagine a society with no
Numerous countries have
tried to accomplish this, but nearly every time they do, the United
States intervenes, sometimes covertly like Reagan did in Central
America with the contras, and sometimes overtly and explicitly, as JFK
did with the attempted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
We love and defend our
billionaires and multimillionaires; after all, we have more of them
than any society in the world. The result is that our political system
has been corrupted to third-world levels, our middle class has been
reduced to servility and deep indebtedness, and a UN representative who
recently visited the American South was shocked to find infant
mortality, lifespans and hookworm infestations as bad as in some of the
world's poorest nations.
And this is the official
policy of the United States.
I see no good reason whatsoever - neither in talents nor in
anything else - for there being individuals who get 20 times more
than then the poor, let alone for persons who claim the hundredfold,
the thousandfold or the tenthousandfold of these differences, as is
the case now.
Here is more Hartmann:
Prior to the agricultural
revolution, roughly 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, virtually all of our
ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. As Peter Farb (Man’s Rise to
Civilization), Marshall Sahlins (The Original Affluent Society),
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) and others have documented over the
years, their societies were broadly equal and egalitarian. They were
what we’d today call “communist,” in that the community was the first
priority and individual accumulation of wealth was entirely subordinate
to the needs of the community.
Potlatch societies across
North America prior to Columbus, tribes across Africa (the San are most
famous; see the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy), and even
European tribes were very much based on the idea that the purpose of
organizing into a tribe or community was to benefit all, rather than to
benefit one family.
The purpose of government,
and of an economy, for that matter, was to benefit society, rather than
to create a class of the morbidly rich.
I am afraid that I know a lot
more about communism
than Hartmann does, and I think the above quotation is misleading:
First, communism does not
coincide with the thesis that "the
community was the first priority and individual accumulation of wealth
was entirely subordinate". And
second, both "government" and the "economy" were very
different, more than 10,000 years ago.
So I think this was something
of a miss by Hartmann. But I think he means well (in terms of my
criterions) and indeed here is one important reason to review the
present article: The words of F.D. Roosevelt that are quoted:
While Lincoln railed
against New York banks and speculators, and Grover Cleveland included
in his 1887 State of the Union address a specific criticism of the
“iron heel” of “corporate masters” upon the “necks” of working people,
the U.S. president who most clearly called out the Morbidly Rich was
Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Accepting the nomination
for his second term in Philadelphia in 1936, the sitting president of
the United States called out the modern equivalent of Quinn’s “locking
up the food”:
It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these
new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control
over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in
the robes of legal sanction.
In its service new
mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their
property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the
problem that faced the Minute Man.
The hours men and women
worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor—these
had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this
new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the
capital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old
age—other people's money—these were tools which the new economic
royalty used to dig itself in. ...
Liberty requires opportunity to make a living—a living decent according
to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough
to live by, but something to live for.
For too many of us the
political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of
A small group had
concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other
people's property, other people's money, other people's labor—other
For too many of us life
was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow
the pursuit of happiness.
Against economic tyranny
such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized
power of Government. ...
I mostly agree with
Roosevelt, although I also insist that he was the self-conscious
of captalism much rather than a socialist. But he was right
very rich always - in the last 2500 years - followed a similar
They wanted "an almost complete
control over other people's property, other people's money, other
people's labor—other people's lives",
and indeed they also got it most of the time.
Then again, Roosevelt spoke
50 years after Grover Cleveland, and spoke more than 80 years ago
And here is the present
situation in Thom Hartmann's eyes:
Unfortunately, as a result
of a series of legislative, FCC, and Executive Branch actions, most of
our major media is now owned outright or controlled in large part by
the morbidly rich, so their voices are rarely heard as loudly as those
of Paul Revere or Franklin Roosevelt were in their days. (For a vivid
example of how this works, check out www.theyrule.net.)
While the morbidly rich
have had periods of virtually absolute rule in America—during the
Andrew Jackson era, the Gilded Age in the late 1800s, and during the
Roaring 20s—[there] have always been American patriots (Lincoln, Teddy
Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, arguably even JFK/LBJ) who have stood up
and blocked their plans to turn American into a neofeudal state.
If they’re able to rewrite
our constitution, however, even the thought experiment of a nation
without billionaires will become impossible. They will have not only
locked up the food, but pretty much everything else as well.
The fate of American
democracy, and the future of what’s left of our middle class, now hangs
in the balance.
And as both FDR and
Sanders/Warren/Pocan have repeatedly pointed out, only the power of
organized people can restrain the power of organized money.
I think Hartmann is probably
more right than not, and he is right that "only the power of organized people can
restrain the power of organized money" - and indeed it has to be done
in the coming 10 to 25 years (if these are more or less
if it has not been mostly done by then, the few rich will have
power to defeat them (what with surveilling everyone there is by their
And this is a recommended
U.S. Intel Misses Russia’s Big Advances in Nuclear Parity
This article is by Gilbert Doctorow on Consortiumnews. It
starts as follows:
Putin’s two-hour long address yesterday to the Federal Assembly, a
joint session of both houses of Russia’s bicameral legislature – plus
large numbers of Russia’s cultural, business and other elites –
constituted his platform for the upcoming presidential election on
March 18. This, in lieu of participation in the televised debates on
all federal television channels in which other seven candidates are
busy these days.
I say. And I do so especially
because of the claim of the Russians that they now have (again - and
the bolding is added) "full
nuclear parity with the United States", which it had lost when the socialist Soviet Union
collapsed in 1992.
But as is the case with
many of Vladimir Putin’s major presentations, the speech yesterday was
addressed to a far broader audience than the Russian electorate. Many
of the estimated 700 journalists invited to attend were foreign
correspondents. Indeed, one might reasonably argue that the
speech was directed abroad, precisely to the United States.
The final third of the
address, devoted to defense and presenting for the first time several
major new and technically unparalleled offensive nuclear weapons
systems, established Russia’s claim to full nuclear parity with the
United States, overturning the country’s withdrawal from superpower
status dating from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.
Is that claim true? Well... I do not know (and who knows
everything or most things about the latests nuclear arms?!), but it
does seem rather likely to me. And
I have two kinds of reasons
to base my guess on.
The first is Putin himself: I do not like him, but he does
a capable political player, indeed much more so than - at least -
Donald Trump. And the second derives from my own interest in
mathematics: It would seem to me as if the Russians are somewhat
better at doing mathematics than the Americans.
That second fact (as it appears to me) is not due to
differences in aptitude between the two countries, but to the
differences in education: The Russians - after a partial collapse
in the 1990s - do have better education than the Americans have (and
the Russians always were quite prominent in mathematics, at
least in the last 100 years).
None of my two points makes my conclusions certain, but I do
think that they make them more probable than not.
Here is more on Putin's address:
Putin’s address was
a “shock and awe” event. I leave to others, more competent than I in
military technology to comment on the specific capabilities of the
various systems rolled out yesterday. Whether short range or unlimited
range, whether ground launched or air launched, whether ballistic
missiles or cruise missiles, whether flying through the atmosphere or
navigating silently and at high speed the very depths of the oceans,
these various systems are said to be invincible to any known or
prospective air defense such as the United States has invested in
heavily since it unilaterally left the ABM Treaty and set out on a
course that would upend strategic parity.
Yes - and I like to remind
my readers that (i) the USA has
partially surrounded Russia,
while in fact (ii) Russia ceased
being socialist in 1992, and
is now as capitalist as the USA is.
There also is another consequence, which may be rather
However, still more
importantly, the implications of Vladimir Putin’s address yesterday are
that U.S. intelligence has been asleep at the wheel for the past 14
years if not longer. It is a national scandal for the country to lose
an arms race it was not even aware was occurring.
Again I do not
whether to believe this. Then again, if it is more probable than not
that Putin spoke the truth in his address, it would seem that the USA
has been missing important things in Russia since 1992, for otherwise
much of the "major new and
technically unparalleled offensive nuclear weapons systems" that Putin announced in his address
would have been known to the USA, while it seems they were not.
Doctorow adds another reason to the decline in the USA's spying
at least as far as Russia is concerned:
Again I say that I do not
know whether this is true, but it may very well be. In any case, here
is Doctorow's conclusion from the ending:
But a still greater factor
in the sharp decline in Russian expertise within US intelligence
agencies was the shift from dependence on civil service employees to
use of outside service providers, i.e., outsourcing of intelligence
work. This was totally in line with the preferences of the U.S.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who introduced outsourcing in a generalized
way to deal with the new challenges of the War On Terror.
The same phenomenon affected
the U.S. military, especially beginning in 2003 following the invasion
of Iraq. Operational security tasks of the U.S. military were
outsourced to companies providing mercenaries like Blackwater.
As noted above,
outsourcing enabled the intelligence community to modernize, gain
skills quickly and try to meet urgent new needs. However, judging by
the results of intelligence with respect to Putin’s Russia it seems
that the outsourcing model has not delivered the goods. The
country has been flying blind while taking outlandish and unsupportable
positions to bully the world as if we enjoyed full spectrum dominance
and Russia did not exist.
Perhaps. And this is a quite
important development, while this is a recommended article.
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 (!!).