from March 13, 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 March 13, 2018
1. Death to Drug Dealers
2. 100 Years of U.S. Meddling & Regime Change
Stormy Daniels Appears to Have the
Goods on Trump
4. First Silicon Valley Sold You Social Media—Now It’s Trying
to Sell You the
5. The Mirage of Knowledge
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:
to Drug Dealers
This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It
starts with the following introduction (and I am sorry but I
abbreviated the title: it is not because I dislike Amy Goodman
or Democracy Now! - I like them - but because I have adopted a format
President Trump has
reiterated his calls for the U.S. to impose the death penalty on drug
dealers, praising countries like the Philippines, China and Singapore
that apply capital punishment to drug traffickers. During a speech on
Saturday, Trump recounted conversations with Chinese and Singaporean
leaders who, he said, solved their countries’ drug problems by
executing drug traffickers. Trump has also repeatedly expressed
admiration for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and said he’s done
an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Last month, the
International Criminal Court opened a preliminary investigation into
accusations that Duterte had committed crimes against humanity by
overseeing the killing of up to 8,000 people in his so-called war on
drugs. We speak to Widney Brown, the managing director of policy at the
Drug Policy Alliance.
Yes indeed. As to
president Duterte: I think he is an obvious sadist, and he
seems to be a fascist
as well - and see below, in case you say ¨No¨.
Also, here is a first bit by Widney Brown:
BROWN: Well, basically,
he’s saying he wants to execute people who bring drugs into the country
or otherwise sell drugs. The problem is, supply-side initiatives have
failed. We have a war on drugs that started in the 1970s. If it was a
success, we wouldn’t be having an opioid overdose crisis today.
Incidentally: I am
nearly 68 and I can recall the Sixties and the Seventies very
well indeed (and I never used any hard drugs) and I am convinced since
1969 (!!) that the best solution to the drugs problem is to
legalize all drugs.
My reasons for adopting
that solution do not and never comprehended any liking
for hard drugs - heroin, cocaine, amphetamines - for I rejected these
already more than 50 years ago and never used them; my reasons are
that addiction is a medical
problem and can only be dealt with properly if the addicts are not made
into criminals because of their addictions.
There will be some more
on the opioid crisis below.
But first, this is on
the sadism and
the fascism of
In fact, Hitler had some 6
million Jews murdered in a few years. And also it seems Widney Brown is
quite correct that the murders Duterte orders or allows - it seems -
tend to be done on the basis of mere allegations.
GOODMAN: And then I want
to go to Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte in his own words. In 2016,
Duterte likened himself to Hitler.
Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there is 3 million—what is it?
Three million drug addicts, there are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.
At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have [me]. You
know, my victims, I would like to be all criminals.
GOODMAN: So, there is the
Philippine President Duterte comparing himself to Hitler. Last month,
again, the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary
investigation into accusations he committed crimes against humanity by
overseeing the killing of up to 8,000 people in his war on drugs.
President Trump praised both China and the Philippines.
BROWN: Exactly, which is
appalling. You don’t kill your way out of a drug crisis. And what’s
happening in the Philippines is you actually have death squads going
around summarily rounding up or killing people based on allegations
that they may use drugs. That is not how you solve a drug problem.
Then there is also this perceptive and - it seems to me - quite true
remark by Juan González on the enormous problems that were created after the pharmaceutical corporations, with the
strong help of quite a few lying, deceiving and deluding medical doctors,
some of whom seem to have made millions by their lies, started to prescribe strongly addictive opioids
on the basis of the medical lie these
were not addictive:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And isn’t the problem,
especially in the United States, of drug trafficking these days, it’s
even more so now—it’s not the illegal or banned substances. It’s the
controlled substances, the chemicals, like—or the pills, that are being
dispensed by pharmacists and doctors, in ways that are creating a
massive epidemic across the country. So, this is—if you’re talking now
about going after the drug dealers, you’re talking about going after
the pharmacists and the doctors, not the people on the street selling
Quite so. Here is a
bit on the Opioid epidemic
(minus note numbers) merely as background information:
epidemic or opioid crisis is the rapid increase in the use
of prescription and non-prescription opioid
drugs in the United States and Canadapainkillers,
including oxycodone (commonly sold under the trade names
OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone
(Vicodin), and a very strong
painkiller, fentanyl, which is synthesized to resemble other opiates such as opium-derived
morphine and heroin.
The potency and availability of these substances, despite their high
risk of addiction and overdose, have made them popular both as
formal medical treatments and as recreational drugs.
Then again, we should
thank the pharmaceutical corporations (who lied, lied and lied) and their lying though very well
paid medical doctors for this crisis, and not the illegal
beginning in the late 1990s and continuing
throughout the first two decades of the 2000s. Opioids are a diverse
class of moderately strong
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,
"overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have
reached epidemic levels."substance abuse treatment admissions
related to opioid pain relievers all increased substantially. By 2015,
annual overdose deaths from heroin alone surpassed deaths from both car
accidents and guns, with other opioid overdose deaths also on the rise. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved
prescription opioids. From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales,
Drug overdoses have since
become the leading cause of death of Americans under 50, with
two-thirds of those deaths from opioids.
And here is Widney Brown again, in the last quotation from this article:
So I think what you’ve got are two different issues. You’ve got: Does
the U.S. government effectively regulate the pharmaceutical industry?
Do they regulate both how things are distributed, and do they regulate
how things are marketed? Are they paying attention to that? And I think
what we’re seeing because of this crisis is the answer is a clear no.
Yes indeed. And there is
considerably more in this article, which is recommended.
Years of U.S. Meddling & Regime Change
This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on
Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction (and I am
sorry but I have again abbreviated the title - and see above):
As special counsel
Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016
election, we take a look back at Washington’s record of meddling in
elections across the globe. By one count, the United States has
interfered in more than 80 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And
that doesn’t count U.S.-backed coups and invasions. We speak to former
New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, author of “Overthrow: America’s
Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.”
Quite so: while the
¨social media¨ (for morons and idiots) and the ¨mainstream media¨ all
keep gushing about ¨Russian
meddling in the 2016 election¨,
in fact the Americans meddled - it seems - in no less than 80
countries, and if that count is not quite right, at least in very many
But then these facts are largely unknown on the ¨social media¨ and simply not dealt
with on the mainstream media (I suppose on the principle: what our
readers and viewers don´t know will not upset them):
Yes indeed - and in case
you want to know more about the very many interferences of
the USA in other countries, there are many more treated in this
GONZÁLEZ: The list of countries where the U.S. has interfered
is long. In 1893, the U.S. helped overthrow the kingdom of Hawaii. Five
years later, in 1898, the U.S. invaded and occupied Cuba and Puerto
Rico. A year later, it was the Philippines. Early 20th century
interventions included Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, all in
GOODMAN: In 1953, the U.S.
helped overthrow the Iranian government. A year later, in 1954,
U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratically elected
leader of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz. Then, in the '60s, the list grew to
include, once again, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and the Congo.
And that's just a partial list. Even with the end of the Cold War, U.S.
interference overseas did not end. Next week marks the 15th anniversary
of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple the government of Saddam Hussein.
We now go to Stephen Kinzer,
former New York Times foreign correspondent (...)
Here is one more bit that I quote from this article:
GOODMAN: (..) We’re
talking about the overthrow of Iran for the British oil company that
would later become British Petroleum. Is that right, Stephen Kinzer?
KINZER: Yes. That company
is now called BP. So, you’re seeing long-term effects of these
interventions, and what you’re seeing in Iran today 100 percent ties
back to what we did in 1953. We like to have this idea that these
operations are discreet, they’re not going to have any long-term
effects. We’ll remove one government, place another favorable
government in power, and anything will go fine. Everybody will forget
it, and it won’t have any long-term effects. But if you look around the
world, you can see that these kinds of operations to interfere in other
countries’ politics, what the CIA calls
“influence operations,” actually not only often wind up devastating the
target country, but, in the end, undermine the security of the United
In fact, there is considerably
more in the article, and I did not review it because most of it
is historical rather than recent. But it certainly is true that the USA
has been and is interfering in very many countries, and does so as a
matter of course. And this is a recommended article.
Daniels Appears to Have the Goods on Trump
This article is by Jen Hayden on AlterNet and originally on
DailyKos. It starts as follows:
Adult film actress
and director and likely former mistress of Donald Trump says she wants
to return the $130,000 in hush money to Donald Trump and/or his
attorney Michael Cohen. She wants the right to tell her story and says
America deserves the truth. That offer is going to put Trump and Cohen
in a bind. If they refuse the money, they acknowledge they want to keep
her silent. According to Daniels’ attorney, her story includes
“text messages, photos and/or videos.”
I say, and I did not know
that Daniels has “text
messages, photos and/or videos”. Also, it seems a valid conclusion that
she puts ¨Trump and Cohen in a
bind¨. And I did briefly report
on Daniels before in Nederlog, namely here.
Here is some on the reasons why Ms. Daniels may be more important than
she seems (although it is my guess that she is playing for more money,
and not to tell the truth):
Yes, this all seems true.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Donald Trump has attacked
every person who’s ever even whispered a negative word about
him—everyone except Stormy Daniels? Is it because she’s got evidence of
his bad behavior? Mr. Big Mouth sure is silent about Stormy Daniels and
her nonstop headlines.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ted Lieu
(D-CA) and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) are demanding an
investigation into the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels
by Michael Cohen.
It seems to me that the
above is true. And this suggests several possible resolutions. I will
sketch two. The first and the most probable outcome is that Daniels
will get more hush money, and that little or nothing wil be heard about
her dalliances with Trump. The second and considerably less probable
outcome is that she will be hushed up otherwise.
Donald Trump appears to be
backed into a corner here. Fight the refund from Stormy Daniels and
acknowledge Trump cheated with an adult film actress while his newlywed
wife was home with their newborn son. How will that play with his base
of suburban women? And if Stormy Daniels is released from the
nondisclosure agreement, what does that unleash?
Michael Cohen is also
backed in a corner. If he stands by the claim that he alone paid
Stormy Daniels, it could be violating federal law and punishable by up
to 5 years in prison. If he admits he was reimbursed by Donald Trump,
he is again confirming the affair and the hush payment.
And while it is possible that some story about Daniels and Trump will
be published, I think this is less probable, but one never knows.
Meanwhile, this is a recommended article.
Silicon Valley Sold You Social Media—Now It’s Trying to Sell You the
This article is by Julianne Tveten on AlterNet and
originally on In These Times. It starts as follows:
In recent months, a spate
of current and former tech executives have taken to the media to
evangelize variations of the same message: Social media is harming
humanity. Sean Parker, who served as Facebook’s first president, warned that
social media “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology,”
addicting children while interfering with productivity. Chamath
Palihapitiya, once Facebook’s vice president “for
user growth,” opined that social media is “ripping
apart the social fabric of how society works.” After co-engineering
the Facebook “Like” button and Google’s Gchat messaging system, Justin
Rosenstein bemoaned the
effects of his contributions.
The onslaught of techie
contrition, however, isn’t a prelude to meaningful change—it’s a
Yes and no, I think.
First of all, I agree with Facebook´s former employees that
Facebook is both dangerous and (even more) stupefying.
And second, while I agree with Julianne Tveten that this is (also)
¨a business opportunity¨, I may be more interested in the truth of what the
former Facebook employees did say.
Here is more by Tveten:
What makes these grievances
appealing is that they’re ostensibly antidotal. Over the course of
roughly a decade, Facebook and other Silicon Valley social media
platforms have mutated into ubiquitous forces. Approximately 70 percent of
Americans use social media—a statistic that is concerning in light
of admonitory reports about
social media’s impact on mental health, particularly among younger
users. That figures who helped develop those platforms now appear more
scrupulous shows that Silicon Valley is now profiting from efforts to
rectify its own ills.
I say, for I did not
know that 7 out of 10 Americans use Facebook. For me, this means 7 out
10 Americans are either too stupid or too egoistic not
to escape their chance of getting advertisememts
¨for free¨ that may save them a few cents, while they deliver untold
amounts of their most private information to Facebook.
It is an utterly
insane schema in my opinion, but then I am a very intelligent
intellectual, while I also can write html, which is
something that not many Americans seem capable of.
Also - while I do
like Tveten´s prose - I think it would have been more correct
to take the complaints of former Facebook employees seriously (I think
they are basically correct), and to distinguish their
complaints from the - anyway predictable - response of Facebook and/or
Silicon Valley that this is a new business opportunity.
Then again, I think
Tveten is quite correct in describing the fundament of the
(which is not just a problem of Facebook) - and ¨CHT¨
= the Center for Humane Technology:
Social-media firms are
agents of the much broader system of surveillance capitalism, wherein
user data is harvested and sold to advertisers. Yet, as Maya Indira
observed, CHT frames the issue as a matter of individual concern.
“They see the problem as being about individual attention,” rather than
corporate predation, Ganesh writes. The solution, then, is to urge
individuals to bear the onus of responsibility for their engineering
and consumption of technology, while simply requesting that companies,
via a few user-interface tweaks, do better.
I basically agree, and
namely with my opposition to all surveillance of anyone,
except for good, tested, and
judicially approved reasons: Surveillance of everyone or of
most persons by the secret services or by utter horrors like
Facebook (in my opinion) will only help the development
more than anything else.
As to CHT: I probably
agree with Ganesh, but I agree that users do have some
onus or responsibility for their own choices, while also my own
main difference with speakers for CHT is not on whom they put
the responsibility, but on the whole fact of surveilling everyone:
I think that is (neo-)fascistic, and
should be forbidden - and see the late Senator
Frank Church for opinions very similar to my own.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
In fact, I agree with most
of this - except that I insist that almost all surveillance that I
know of is or ought to be completely illegal. But this is a
The iniquities of social
media, of course, won’t disappear if they’re briefly ignored or
contained. Instead, addressing them will require companies like
Facebook and Google to be viewed holistically: Rather than an isolated
scourge, they’re symptoms of an economic system in which profit
supersedes public health and societal stability. The answer lies not in
a micro-economy of pseudo-conscious nonprofits, books, and startups,
but in structures independent of and contrary to the values of
Whether championing an hour
of smartphone severance or a revised iPhone menu, the trend of tech
repentance isn’t a challenge to the bane of surveillance capitalism;
it’s merely an upgraded version of it. The smartphone makers,
meditation-app companies and other appointees of the tech-reform
vanguard will continue to track and monetize user data—the very issues
they claim to address—while crowing about business ethics and preaching
personal responsibility. While tech executives may admit to creating
the problem, they most certainly won’t be the ones to solve it.
Mirage of Knowledge
This article is by Tom Nichols on Harvard Magazine. It
starts as follows:
Several years ago, Tom Nichols started
writing a book about ignorance and unreason in American public
discourse—and then he watched it come to life all around him, in ways
starker than he had imagined. A political scientist who has taught for
more than a decade in the Harvard Extension School, he had begun
noticing what he perceived as a new and accelerating—and
dangerous—hostility toward established knowledge. People were no longer
merely uninformed, Nichols says, but “aggressively wrong” and unwilling
to learn. They actively resisted facts that might alter their
preexisting beliefs. They insisted that all opinions, however
uninformed, be treated as equally serious. And they rejected
professional know-how, he says, with such anger. That shook
I say, and in fact I
basically agree with Nichols, while I really like it that he was
writing a book about the ignorance and
the unreason (I would have said: stupidity, but
I agree ¨unreason¨ sounds a lot more academic).
Then again, I have also several qualifications, but will limit myself
The first is that I found out that I am 10 years older than Tom
Nichols, while I found out about the massive stupification of
Dutch education between 1965 and 1967, when the Dutch
preparatory schools for the universities were simplified from: three
or five foreign languages, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology,
geography and history, all taken in writing, plus some subjects
that were only examined orally (with 14 to 16 subjects in all)
to: one foreign language, plus biology OR history OR geography (with
6 examined subjects in all, of which at least 2 were only examined
I found that radical simplification of all education (you can now get a
B.A. in some nonsense subject in Holland with almost any IQ, provided
you have the money to pay it) an utter disgrace, but then I was
one of the very few who thought so.
Here are the things I ¨learned¨ at the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam:
- everybody knows that truth does NOT
- cultural relativism:
every culture is
supposed to be an equivalent attempt to
create some human society
- objective knowledge is impossible
let it be repeated, where the staple good that emanated for
from the Board of Directors, publicly lecturing professors, and the
University-Parliament, always as THE central teachings that the UvA had
to give to the world, indeed next to many courses in feminism,
queer studies, and environmental studies. (Real
science simply did not exist outside the faculties for physics and
qualification is that while I protested from 1967 onwards (when I left
my highschool because I thought it was much too stupid), I found very
few people who agreed with me until 1989. I did take part
in the university elections of 1981/1982, in which I participated with
a pro- science and pro-rationality plan, but I found about 5% of
all students (that voted) agreed with me and my party, the other
95% supported the ASVA, that at that time consisted mostly of members
of the Dutch Communist Party, and not so much because all felt like
communists, but because most wanted to do as little as possible
to get ¨a scientific degree¨.
Only by the end of 1989 I found one man who said roughly similar things
as I had done (and also several dissimilar things): Allan Bloom, who
Closing of the American Mind - How Higher Education Has Failed
Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students." (The
reference is to the Wikipedia, with which I partially disagree.)
I wrote about him in my Truth
and Value of 1989, but as usual this made very little
Back to Tom Nichols:
intellectual authority is bone-deep in the American character, as much
a part of the nation’s origin story as the founders’ Enlightenment
principles. Overall, that skepticism is a healthy impulse, Nichols
believes. But what he was observing was something else, something
malignant and deliberate, a collapse of functional citizenship.
“Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything
related to public policy, is an actual virtue,” he would write in the
preface to The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Expertise
and Why It Matters, which was published by Oxford last year and
quickly became a bestseller. “To reject the advice of experts is to
assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly
fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything.”
Further down the page, he would add: “I’m worried.”
I think I partially disagree
with Nichols on the values of skepticism: I think that is quite OK for
an M.A. with an IQ over 140, but I think it is utter bullshit
from an anonymous idiot who scolds and demeans very many because he (or
she) is anonymous and also is almost completely ignorant.
But I strongly agree with the rest he says - and I know that position extremely
well from the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam between 1980 and 1983.
(Also, since I have seen it since nearly forty years, I am not just
¨worried¨: I am extremely worried, besides being sure
that the universities in Holland are mostly quite dead (outside
physics, mathematics, and a few other subjects that require real
Then there is this:
The indictments the
book levels are numerous: misguided egalitarianism run amok; the
“protective, swaddling environment” of higher education, whose
institutions increasingly treat students as customers to be kept
satisfied; the 24-hour news cycle and the pressure on journalists to
entertain rather than inform; the chaotic fusion of news and punditry
and citizen participation. Meanwhile, the Internet’s openness offers a
“Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden” mirage of knowledge,
Nichols argues, and an inexhaustible supply of “facts” to feed any
confirmation bias. “The Internet encourages not only the illusion that
we are all equally competent,” he says, “but that we are all peers. And
we’re not. There was once a time when saying that would have been
I mostly agree with this
as well, but do want to underline that I have seen most of the above
both on the highschool level and the university level
(and in case you don´t know: I did get an excellent M.A. in
psychology while ill, after having been illegally denied the
right to take my equally excellent M.A. in philosophy, also while ill).
That is, in my experience this was the case since 1967 in the Dutch highschools, and
this was the case since 1977 in
the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam.
Then there is this:
At the bottom of all
of it, Nichols finds “a growing wave of narcissism.” Voters
increasingly see political figures as extensions of themselves—“He’s
just like me!”—imagining shared personalities and values. Narcissism
elevates feelings above facts, and it breeds social resentment, a major
driver, Nichols believes, of the revolt against expertise. “People
cannot accept ever being at a disadvantage in a conversation with
anybody else,” he says.
No, I disagree -
and I am a psychologist. One reason to disagree is that
narcissism is a pathology, and I don´t believe 95% - or
60% or 40% - of all people or of all students are pathological.
And my other reason is that stupidity and ignorance are not
pathologies, and are together more than sufficient to explain their enormous
Here is more by Nichols that I agree with:
“In the longer
term, I’m worried about the end of the republic,” he answered. Immense
cynicism among the voting public—incited in part by the White
House—combined with “staggering” ignorance, he said, is incredibly
dangerous. In that environment, anything is possible. “When people have
almost no political literacy, you cannot sustain the practices that
sustain a democratic republic.”
Finally, this is from near the
end and is quite justified:
Nichols reminded his
students that American casualties in World War II totaled about
470,000. Worldwide, that war killed 65 million people. With a nuclear
attack, “In 20 or 30 minutes, you’re talking about many multiples of
the total American casualties in World War II.…A global exchange would
probably kill 500 million to 600 million in a few minutes.” The room
fell totally silent.
Yes indeed. (But then many
students may prefer to disbelieve him: he is a real
intellectual). And this is a strongly 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 (!!).
 Perhaps I should outline my ethics (once
again) for my readers, that I summarized 34 years ago as
Do not be MAD;
do not SIN.
"MAD" abbreviates Meanness (or Greed, but than
the pattern fails); Anger and Dishonesty, while "SIN"
abbreviates Stupidity, Ignorance and Negligence.
may disagree, but this is the summary of my ethics.