from May 12, 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.
2. Crisis Files
These are five crisis files
that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from May 12, 2018
1. Experts Say Keep Amazon’s Alexa Away From Your Kids
The 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:
2. Just Following Orders
3. If Gina Haspel Is Confirmed at CIA, the U.S. Would Be
Nations Green Light to Torture
4. CIA 'Gangster Element' Is a Stain on America
5. Time for Europe to Join the Resistance
Say Keep Amazon’s Alexa Away From Your Kids
article is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
What’s the best way
to keep adults from questioning the use of a deeply problematic
product? Get them started when they’re too young to question anything.
Amazon has a new addition to its line of
voice-commanded artificial intelligence Alexa
assistants, marketed for use by children as young as 5 years old,
who can barely grasp a box of juice, let alone digital
privacy. Now, a coalition of children’s privacy and
psychology advocates are warning parents away from Amazon’s latest,
cutest device, saying it could normalize surveillance and harm
children’s mental development.
I agree basically, but my
reasons may be a bit different than is stated above: I hate
Amazon; I despise its chief Bezos; and I think hardly anything good
will come from either that isn't as profitable to them as
And one reason for me to disagree - somewhat - from the above
is that I hate TV since 50 years, and have had no TV since 1970
and indeed saw very little of it the last 50 years. Then again,
I did see some of it in 1992 (!!) and then made the following
note - in 1992, currently 26
20 juni 1992:
On the sick
sadistic psychopathy served to children
That is 26 years ago,
and I think - having avoided seeing TV since 1968 - that this is a thoroughly
sick and sadistic series.
I've been watching TV again
and it seems to me
that the stuff fed to small children is the most atrocious psychopathic
rot imaginable. The worst are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Toxic
Crusaders, but there are more. This is such extra-ordinary sick rot
that it is amazing it is broadcast - but it is, in programs for small
kids. It is sadistic, extra-ordinarily ugly, very violent, quite
frightening and completely devoid of any standards except revenge. Also
everything gets mixed up with everything: The Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles bear the names of Michelangelo, Rafael, Leonardo etc.; their
guru is a rat; violence is interspersed with philosophy-quotes; ice
cream shops are called "Chain Saw Massacre"; dissembling is the
propagandized norm; and much more. It is really amazing, not only that
it is made but that it is broadcast allover the world and tolerated.
If I had children I certainly
would forbid them
to watch it and fear for their mental health if they did. American
"comics" have nearly always been violent (or else sickeningly
sentimental), but what these series achieve, as compared with Donald
Duck or Woody Woodpecker, is something quite new. There is much more
violence; violence is what everything is all organized about (the
heroes are warriors to start with; the enemies invariably seek to
dominate the world); the bad guys are drawn not just in a mock
frightening way, but are really frightening monsters (and in "Toxic
Crusaders" the heroes are monsters too); and I really feel I am
watching the nightmares of the criminally insane - whereas what I am
supposed to be watching is a program for 5-7 year olds.
Having made that point, back to the article:
But a group of
experts says Amazon’s little Play-Doh-colored pucks have no place near
children. A statement released today by the Campaign for a
Commercial Free Childhood, or CCFC, which previously led a prominent
campaign against a version of Facebook Messenger aimed at
kids, claims that Dot for kids and its ability to streamline a
kid’s interaction with brands “pose significant threats to children’s
wellbeing and privacy.” The CCFC statement is joined
by critical letters from Senator Edward Markey and Representative Joe
Barton. According to the CCFC’s executive director Josh Golin,
“Amazon wants kids to be dependent on its data-gathering device from
the moment they wake up until they go to bed at night. … AI devices
raise a host of privacy concerns and interfere with the face-to-face
interactions and self-driven play that children need to thrive.”
I agree. In fact, if you
want normal children - that is, children whose emotions are
thoroughly fucked up by Amazon's brand advertising, nor by sadistic
programs for 5 to 7 year olds, which in fact is pretty difficult
in the present world - I think you should not
have a TV in a
house in which there are young children. (But hey! I am just a
psychologist with a very high IQ. What do I know about what
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, which co-signed
the statement, added his concerns:
Precisely. And this is a
voice-recognition technologies, such as Amazon Echo, are primarily
designed to promote products and brands. Amazon is acting irresponsibly
by urging parents to unleash an AI-driven Alexa product into their
children’s lives, without first ensuring that it will not harm their
cognitive and emotional development. Echo Dot Kids is designed to
encourage children to give up their personal information so it can
drive even more revenues for the E-Commerce colossus.
article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Donald Trump loves
Gina Haspel, particularly because of her role in torture. This week on
Intercepted: As a
bipartisan gaggle of spies and politicians lobby for Haspel to become
CIA director, we look at how after World War II, the U.S. and its
allies prosecuted Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American POWs.
Journalist Matt Taibbi talks about Trump, Russia, Putin, Stormy
Daniels, and the liberal embrace of authoritarianism. Sarah Jaffe
reports on the teachers strikes across the U.S., the fight for unions,
and the rebellion of low wage workers. Former Goldman Sachs and Bear
Stearns executive Nomi Prins talks about central banks, the Federal
Reserve, and economic neoliberalism. Plus, Melania Trump launches a
campaign to educate her husband.
In fact, this is a long
and fine article that is composed of a number of interviews that are
summarized above. I shall review two bits of it, but I do like to say
that I am very glad that the interviews are written out
because I read a lot faster than I can speak), and that there
more good things in the several interviews than I can select
brief review on Nederlog.
Here is the first bit, that is in fact about the question whether
waterboarding is torture, that was in fact no question since
1600 (when the Dutch tortured Javanese in that way) until first
Jr. and then Obama became presidents of the USA, who reverted
the American positions on torture, and then Trump, who wants to
people who contradict him, or so it seems, and to do so in the worst
the Allies and the U.S. agreed
upon this. And this about the
torturer from the CIA Gina Haspel:
The historian R. John
Pritchard described the Japanese rational for using this water torture.
He wrote, “The rapid and effective collection of intelligence then, as
now, was seen as vital to a successful struggle, and in addition, those
who were engaged in torture often felt that whatever pain and anguish
was suffered by the victims of torture was nothing less than the just
deserts of the victims or people close to them.”
Several Japanese military
figures were executed for their role in water torture and other acts,
others were sentenced to prison labor camps. Here’s Senator John
McCain, himself a victim of torture as a POW in Vietnam.
Is waterboarding torture?
Senator John McCain:
Sure. Yes. Without a doubt.
SP: So the
United States has been torturing POWs.
Scott, we prosecuted Japanese war criminals after World War II, and one
of the charges brought against them, for which they were convicted, was
that they waterboarded Americans.
what Senator John McCain is talking about here, took place in tribunals
established by the U.S. and its allies.
Quite so. And as to the
claims by Haspel's "CIA
related news, Trump’s pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency,
Gina Haspel, is in the midst of her confirmation process and Haspel was
just following orders to when she was involved with what the Japanese
called water torture.
That is one of the lines
being pushed by her CIA defenders: that what she did was lawful, she
was ordered to do it, she wasn’t really in charge, she’s an apolitical
professional. I’m sure there are lots of people from all sorts of
countries and nations throughout history that view their role in
torture the exact same way that Haspel and her defenders view it. I’m
sure there are many Nazis that could have pointed to laws created in
their own country to permit the heinous acts that they committed. But
the tribunal said no, just following orders is not a defense.
But, you see, the United
States doesn’t believe in international tribunals for its personnel.
What she did was not lawful (other
than according to the CIA, which contradicts many years of
international laws); whether or not "she was ordered to do it"
isn't very relevant, because she is an adult who
is responsible for her own acts (as the international
courts agree); whether or not she was "really in charge" may
be somewhat relevant, but Haspel's doings and responsibilities are
willfully obscured by the CIA in general, and by Haspel in person,
who had 93 video-tapes destroyed (if I remember well); and it doesn't
matter one bit whether she was "an
apolitical professional": she
tortured people, and she is personally responsible for torturing people.
And as I started this
review by saying this
is a long and fine article that is composed of a number of interviews,
I'll end it by repeating it. This is a strongly recommended
article, in which there is a lot more than I can review in a
Gina Haspel Is Confirmed at CIA, the U.S. Would Be Giving Other Nations
Green Light to Torture
article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the
President Dick Cheney said Thursday that the U.S. should restart
torture interrogation tactics. Cheney’s comment comes a day after
President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA,
Gina Haspel, repeatedly refused Wednesday to call the CIA’s post-9/11
treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she
believes torture is immoral. Haspel’s prospects for confirmation remain
in doubt, after Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and John
McCain of Arizona issued statements opposing her nomination. We speak
to Laleh Khalili, professor at SOAS
University of London and author of “Time in the Shadows: Confinement in
Yes indeed. Here is the
first bit I quote from this article:
GOODMAN: Your thoughts on
what she has done? You specifically look at black sites.
KHALILI: I do specifically
look at black sites, and it is incredibly harrowing. What is very
devastating about what this—what her nomination has done is to
essentially rubber-stamp the use of completely and utterly brutal and
harrowing modalities of torture on people, whether or not they’re
guilty. There is never a sort of a legal process that will allow us to
adjudicate whether these people are in any way culpable of anything.
And, in fact, loads of innocent people have been subjected to these
agree, and incidentally "black sites" are secret camps or prisons
in which people are being tortured (whether this is known or not,
and often it is difficult to establish precisely because these are
secret camps or prisons.
Here is the second bit
I quote from this article, and it is still Khalili who is talking:
Precisely. One very
probable effect of nominating a torturer like Haspel as head of the
CIA is that - for example - Poland, Romania, Thailand, Jordan, Morocco,
Egypt and Syria will conclude
Now, what her confirmation,
should it proceed, is going to signal is that all of those countries in
the world that acted as black sites—a number of those countries are
members of NATO and Eastern—they’re Eastern
European states, members of NATO, but which
are also members of the EU, had their wrists slapped by the EU, and
among them, more specifically, Poland and Romania. But those that are
not part of the EU and were engaged in these kinds of—and they allowed
their territories to be used as black sites—Thailand foremost among
them, but there were others—as well as those countries that acted as
countries of extraordinary rendition—for example, Jordan, Morocco,
Egypt and, in fact, Syria even—all of these countries are essentially
going to see this as a carte blanche for conducting
torture—not that they ever really needed it, but this is essentially—I
mean, one of the things that one hears all the time in the Middle East
is, “Well, if the U.S. is doing it, why does anybody care about why
Sisi would do it?” And so, I think that, in some ways, it would be an
utter travesty, although completely unsurprising, if Gina Haspel is
chosen to head the CIA.
that Haspel's nomination (if it occurs, that is not known today) is "a carte blanche for conducting
torture" (which is
happening there anyway, but for the moment mostly in secret).
And this is a recommended article.
'Gangster Element' Is a Stain on America
article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Truthdig Editor in
Chief Robert Scheer talked with Ben Norton of The
Real News in a two-part interview about whistleblowers who
have condemned Gina Haspel, Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director.
Haspel oversaw the agency’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation”
program. Protesters, including former CIA veteran Ray McGovern,
disrupted Haspel’s Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.
Yes indeed. I agree with
Scheer, and this is - again - a long interview that I cannot treat
properly in a Nederlog.
Describing Haspel as a
“professional liar,” Scheer says, “This is a woman who is trained to
lie. This is a woman who’s lied about most of the things in her
professional life. To expect her to be accountable about the
super-secret agency when she spent her life denying the value of truth,
denying the value of logic, never being held accountable for their
lives, including whether torture worked. … [and] here is someone who’s
taken from that world of error and deceit, distortion, violence, and
you’re making her in charge of the whole agency.”
Scheer says there is a
destructive “gangster element” in the spy agency that condones
assassination and torture.
But I do have a brief explanation of Scheer's "destructive “gangster element” in the spy
agency" because it is
It is Scheer's thesis that (i) there are two kinds of persons (?) in
the CIA, namely those who analyse and those who practice,
and that (ii) the analtysts are basically OK, but the practicians, as a
matter of course, also, break laws and agreements if this seems to
further their own - usually secret - ends.
Scheer may be correct, although I doubt myself that the distinction is
as neat I stated it to be.
Here is Ben Norton:
is Gina Haspel, the CIA director nominee, at the Senate confirmation
hearing. Numerous whistleblowers have spoken out against Haspel’s
nomination. Former CIA officer Ray McGovern disrupted the Senate
hearing in protest of Haspel’s nomination. Police violently brutalized
the 84-year-old CIA whistleblower on camera. Ex-CIA analyst John
Kiriakou, who was imprisoned for exposing the CIA’s use of torture, has
also publicly opposed Haspel’s nomination. And NSA whistleblower Edward
Snowden likewise tweeted, quote, “If the Congress confirms Gina Haspel,
who admitted to participating in a torture program and personally
writing the order to destroy evidence of that crime, is qualified to
head the CIA it says more about our government than it does about her.”.
Incidentally, Ray McGovern is
78 at the moment, but otherwise I agree. And here is Robert Scheer:
himself briefed the president of the United States on a number of
occasions. He was a high-ranking expert on Russia, on what was
happening in the world. And to have a man of that quality and that
patriotism, that seriousness of purpose, be treated as if he was a bank
robber on speed or something was obscene. And there are plenty of
people around the world who know of Ray McGovern ‘ s work, of his
writing, and the idea that he was treated in that way, it’s horrific.
And at a hearing in which you’re investigating, really, the dark side.
That’s what Gina Haspel comes from. These are the people who do all the
mischief and that’s the side of the CIA that has basically gotten it
wrong time after time. The Bay of Pigs, you know, figuring out what was
happening with terrorism before 9/11. Not talking to the FBI. The
torture program. You could go through one chapter after another.
Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
And that’s the part of the CIA that’s a travesty, a stain, that dark
stain on American history, and has misled us. And has misled us by
using secrecy. They’re not accountable.
I more or less agree, but
simply do not know as much as Scheer does. Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
(..) I just want to make a point here. The CIA is an
agency that is out of control, and they are not doing the job that they
were created to do. They’re not making us safer. They keep getting it
wrong. And they get it wrong not because of their brilliant analysts
like Ray McGovern, who generally develop an accurate view of the world,
and it’s complex, and they try to inform the politicians. That’s not
where the damage is coming from. The damage is coming from the gangster
element. The, the people who believe assassination, and talk about
meddling in elections, these people have meddled in almost every
election that’s taken place in the post-World War II period.
Again I more or less agree but do not
know as much as Scheer does. In any case, this is a recommended article.
for Europe to Join the Resistance
article is by Klaus Brinkbšumer on Spiegel. It starts as follows:
Trump's renown is
rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni
lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny.
Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the
ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in
debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The
greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump's alleged negotiating
expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art
of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard
properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn't curious.
His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign
to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that's what he
I mostly agree, and I also
But I do have two questions about Trump, given the above sum-up by
Spiegel: (i) how did Trump survive
the last 40 years, if he is
as totally inept as Spiegel says
he is? And (ii) does Trump has any
And - in case you doubted this - these are real
is the second and last bit that I quote from this article:
I say, for these are quite
serious conclusions. And while I agree more or less, I also dislike
style, for terms like "Washington's
radical move", "American capriciousness", "The West", and "Europe" are extremely abstract metaphors that -
nevertheless - are personalized.
And what are the benefits
of Washington's radical move? There are none. Just chaos where there
was once order. Just American capriciousness after decades of
The most shocking realization,
however, is one that affects us directly: The West as we once knew it
no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot
currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a
partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years
of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no
longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in
foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about
whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security
policy even exists anymore. The answer: No. It is impossible to
overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months. Europe has
lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values.
And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to
exert because the U.S. stood by its side.
And I have a question. I am a psychologist who is now agreeing
for over two years that Trump
is not sane. To the best of my knowledge, there are currently tenthousands
of psychologists and psychiatrists who agree.
Why are these - surely: particularly knowledgeable
persons - almost never heard
in the modern press, and also
not in Spiegel?
I am just asking, again. But this is a recommended article, for
points it makes about Europe and the USA are quite serious.
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 (!!).