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Nederlog

July 20, 2018

Crisis: 8 1/2 Million Starving, Mainstream Media, Wikileaks & Assange, Traitor?,  $10 Trillion


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 20, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 20, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] 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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 20, 2018:
1. Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing
     Civilians

2. The Stories Corporate Media Failed to Cover This Week
3. Inside WikiLeaks: Working with the Publisher that Changed the World
4. Is Trump a Traitor?
5. Our Missing $10 Trillion
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:

1. Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing Civilians

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen is incredibly difficult to cover on the ground, with many obstacles for journalists hoping to access the capital Sana’a and other areas affected by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombings. We speak with a reporter who smuggled herself into northern Yemen to report on the widespread famine and devastation there in an exclusive three-part series for ”PBS NewsHour.” Special correspondent Jane Ferguson is a Beirut-based special correspondent. Her pieces are titled “Yemen’s spiraling hunger crisis is a man-made disaster,” “American-made bombs in Yemen are killing civilians, destroying infrastructure and fueling anger at the U.S.” and “Houthis deny U.S., Saudi claim that they are Iran’s puppets.”
I decided to review this article (i) because of the number of civilians who are involved in modern war and (ii) because modern war (as undertaken by the Americans and their allies) excels in killing civilians while keeping army´s affairs and soldiers´ affairs mostly a secret, which (iii) was very much helped by Nixon´s privatization of the American army.

And I will only comment on my last point here: I am against privatization of Armies essentially because drafted armies are much easier to control by (non-¨embedded¨)journalists, and because in drafted armies the children of the rich also may be drafted.

Anyway. Here is more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We spend the rest of the hour in Yemen, where Houthi rebels say they’re prepared to hand over the crucial port of Hodeidah to the United Nations, if U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition halt military operations there. Last month, tens of thousands of civilians fled the city when coalition forces launched an all-out offensive there. The U.N. warned the offensive would severely exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is already experiencing the world’s worst cholera epidemic, with more than a million people afflicted, and with millions more on the brink of famine. This is U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande.

LISE GRANDE: Most of the eight-and-a-half million people that we describe as being pre-famine, the reality of their life is that when they wake up in the morning, they have no idea if they will eat that day. No idea. Eight-and-a-half million people are in that category. The U.N. estimates that by the end of the year, if there is not an end to this war, another 10 million Yemenis will be in that same situation. That’s 18 million innocent civilians who are the victims of this war.
In other words: At present 8 1/2 million Yemenites ¨have no idea if they will eat that day¨ right now (and there is a horrible picture of a starving child on the site), while there will be 18 million Yemenis by the end of this year who will ¨have no idea if they will eat that day¨if the war continues¨.

That is merely three times the number of the Jews murdered in WW II.

And no: they are not murdered in the same way, and there may be some millions alive of those who are starving right now next year, but meanwhile 18 million = 3 times the number of Jews killed in WW II, and many of the 18 million are starving right now.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

JANE FERGUSON: (..) Of course, you know, you’ll hear the statistic, “Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster,” but that’s really just a phrase. And it was—you know, one of the reasons I wanted to go into rebel-held Yemen was because no one really understands what that looks like. What does that mean to a viewer?

And what it means is a third of the country, an entire third, over 8 million people, on the brink of starvation, meaning they’re not getting enough nutrients. They cannot afford to buy enough food to feed themselves and their families sufficiently. And, you know, the statistics on the deaths of children are particularly startling, and that’s because, of course, as anywhere in the world, children are the most susceptible to falling ill from malnutrition. They can die of starvation. They can also, and more often is the case, die of infectious diseases, because their bodies have become so weak. And so, when I traveled to various hospitals and went to the children’s wards, which are very—pretty much now just malnutrition wards, you’ll see absolutely terrifyingly thin children. (..)
I think this is true and important, and this is a recommended article.

2. The Stories Corporate Media Failed to Cover This Week

This article is by Sonali Solhatkar on Truthdig. This starts as follows:
Donald Trump’s antics over the past week have sent the world into a tizzy. With his preferential treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own Justice Department and intelligence agencies fueling calls of “treason,” we’ve all but forgotten the incredible firestorm Trump ignited less than a week ago at the NATO summit in Brussels or the reports of his collusion with retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy to replace Kennedy on the Supreme Court with Judge Brett Kavanaugh. As has been typical of the Trump presidency, each week’s news is so jaw-dropping that we forget the horrors of the week before, while our president tramples like a bull in a china shop over expectations, diplomatic norms and the difference between truth and lies. What important stories and contexts were eclipsed by Trump’s global tantrums over the past week?
Well.. for one thing I am not ¨we¨; for another, my memory is still fairly good and I have not forgotten either item Solhatkar mentions; and also while I have forgotten quite a few things I wrote about in the last five years, one reason is that I wrote 2000 articles in these five years about the crisis.

On the other hand, I agree with Solhatkar that the mainstream media fail to cover many things they ought to cover if their aim was to inform the public. Then again, I also think that the mainstream media are mainstream in part because they are more interested in making money for themselves than in trying to inform the public properly.

So here is the first item:
Also largely overlooked in coverage of the summit was the story of the U.S.-EU split over the Iran nuclear deal. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Brussels just before the summit expecting to impress upon European allies the importance of abandoning the nuclear deal President Obama’s administration had carefully brokered and to push for harsher sanctions instead. It is not clear whether Pompeo’s meetings actually took place (..)
I more or less agree. Here is more:
After blowing up the NATO summit, Trump headed to the U.K., where he continued his trail of devastation, starting with an interview he gave to the tabloid paper The Sun ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May. During that interview, Trump boasted of how he mansplained to May the best way to conduct her nation’s tricky Brexit negotiations, saying, “I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t agree; she didn’t listen to me.” In that same interview, Trump explained that if May opts for a “soft” Brexit process to keep the U.K. tethered to the European Union, a proposed U.S.-U.K. trade deal will be off. “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said. What has not received much attention is how social justice organizations around the U.K. are opposed to any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K., not because of ties to the EU but because of the pro-corporate bent of the deal.
And I agree more or less, and indeed missed the last point. Here is more:
Also overshadowed by the Trump-Putin debacle was the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, which one journalist was hoping to raise in a question at the Helsinki news conference before being dragged out. Sam Husseini, credentialed by The Nation magazine to cover the story, held a piece of paper in his hand that simply read, “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty,” but rather than focus on what that treaty is and why the U.S. and Russia have not joined it, media outlets have instead focused on the rough treatment of the journalist.
Well... the rough treatment Husseini got was a scandal (he was physically removed for holding that piece of paper), but I agree with the rest.

Finally, I quote this bit:
Also entirely missing from the coverage of intelligence agencies’ findings of Russian interference in the 2016 election is the historical context of U.S. interventions in other democracies the world over for many decades now. The CIA and other American agencies have changed the course of world history through interventions that have carried bloody legacies and whose effects are felt today from Iran to Honduras.
In fact, I did pay attention to that fact (see here, for example: The Global Growth of U.S. Special Operations Forces) but I agree my source was not the mainstream press.
3. Inside WikiLeaks: Working with the Publisher that Changed the World

This article is by Stefania Maurizi on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Silenced and cut off from the outside world, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the last six years with no access to sunlight, fresh air, or proper medical treatment. Furthermore, last March President Lenin Moreno’s Ecuadorian government cut his access to the internet, phone calls and even visitors and journalists. For a man who has already been confined to the embassy for so long, these restrictions are particularly harsh.

I began working as one of WikiLeaks’ media partners in 2009, before Assange and WikiLeaks published such bombshells as the “Collateral Murder” video. Over the last nine years, I have partnered with WikiLeaks on behalf of my newspaper, the Italian daily La Repubblica to work on the Podesta emails and many of its other secret files (..)
I say, for this is fairly interesting, and besides also important because I agree that what has been fairly called ¨the war on Assange¨ both seriously threaten Assange and the free press - and see here for more: The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom.

Stefania Maurizi worked nine years with Wikileaks and Assange:
Over the last nine years of my work in partnership with WikiLeaks on behalf of first the Italian newsmagazine L’Espresso and then La Repubblica, I have spent many hours talking to Assange and his staff, maintaining weekly contact with them. Looking back, I realize that in all those years, I only met Assange as a free man once. That was in September 2010 (..)
And here is more on Assange:
He is one of the most demonized men on the planet. “We are in the business of crucifixion,” he told me several months ago, before Ecuador cut his social contacts. Indeed he has been crucified for whatever he has done: he talked to the press? He is a narcissist. He didn’t talk to the press? He wants to fuel his image as an international mystery man. He is a complicated human being, but he is neither a hard man nor the imperious, James Bond-style villain depicted by newspapers. He can be warm, with a sharp sense of humor, and he is definitely brilliant and bold enough to publish exceptionally risky documents.
I don´t know Assange at all (like most people), but I am willing to accept this simply because I have been reading articles by him or inspired by him for a long time. And I agree with Maurizi that he has been much and quite unfairly criticized by the mainstream media.

Then again, indeed because I have been systematically reading both the mainstream media and the non-mainstream media for over 5 years now, I think the present mainstream media are  rather different from the mainstream media of forty and more years ago, and especially in two respects: (1) the mainstream media of today (and the last twenty years or so) are much more interested in making money for themselves (their owners, their editors, their journalists) than in giving a fair and somewhat sufficient rendering of all the daily news they should report; and (2) especially because they have become quite totalitarian, indeed especially about individuals or media that step out of the mainstream line, like Assange and Wikipedia.

Here is more by Maurizi:
Whenever I say that Assange is the only editor arbitrarily detained in Europe, some object that he isn’t detained, or that he isn’t an editor at all. But that he is arbitrarily detained is the opinion of the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, whose decisions are considered authoritative by the European Court of Human Rights.
Evidently, I would say, Assange is detained: He is locked up in one room without the right of using the internet or receiving visitors, and the only existing way he can escape from that is by walking out of the embassy, getting arrested, and being handed over to the American government who very well may torture him.

I do not think any mainstream journalist who criticizes Assange has ever been in such a position.

And here is British judge Arbuthnot:

Assange’s latest appeal to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court was dismissed last February by the British judge Emma Arbuthnot, in a ruling indicating that for UK Justice it is perfectly fine for an individual to remain confined to a tiny building for almost six years with no access to sunlight, fresh air or proper medical treatment. “I do not find that Mr. Assange’s stay in the Embassy is inappropriate, unjust, unpredictable, unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate”, concluded Arbuthnot with no British irony.
I find the judgement of Arbuthnot inappropriate, unjust, quite predictable,  very unreasonable, totally unnecessary and very disproportionate (and am glad I do not live in Great Britain, as I did want to in the early 1970ies, because I had a British girlfriend).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
No one can say how it will end for Assange and his team: if they end up in jail in the United States, it will be the first time that an editor and a media organization are imprisoned in the U.S. for their work, at least not since John Peter Zenger in Colonial America. As the icon of whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, put it: “Under Trump, he may well be the first journalist in this country to be indicted.” There is a deafening silence on the impact of such a scenario on the freedom of the press and on the human rights of Assange and his staff.
I agree, except that I add that the ¨deafening silence¨ is in the mainstream media. And this is a recommended article in which there is considerably more.

4. Is Trump a Traitor?

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was a betrayal of the nation he has a sworn duty to protect.

Under Article III Section 3 of the Constitution, the crime of treason is defined as “giving aid and comfort” to enemies of the United States. Trump has betrayed the American people in 5 ways we already know of:

Really now? I much dislike Trump, but I think Reich´s present article is exaggerated, indeed in good part because Reich follows the lead of ¨American intelligence¨ that I myself trust as little as I trust Trump.

Here is the first bit that I quote:

1. He ignores attacks on our democracy. According to American intelligence, there’s no doubt about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (..)

But I do not trust ¨American intelligence¨ at all; I still have not seen any evidence whatsoever that the Russian government or Putin have done what ¨American intelligence¨ asserts they have done.

Here is the second bit:

2. He publicly undermines U.S. intelligence officials – taking the side of Putin, a former KGB officer, when Putin claims Russia didn’t interfere in the election. (..)

I distrust American inteligence, and indeed also Russian intelligence. Here is more:

3. He attacks our closest allies, weakening America’s standing in the world and playing into Putin’s hands. During his trip to Europe, Trump insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, mocked British Prime Minister Theresa May, and was rebuked by the French President.

Yes. But I have been saying, as a psychologist, with tens of thousands of other psycho- logists, that Trump is not sane (since the beginning of 2016) and should be removed as president for that reason alone. I simply think this is more evidence (but indeed I do not know of any head of state that has a degree in psychology).

Here is more, and this is the last bit I quote:

4. His campaign knowingly sought help from a Russian agent. (..)
5. Then in July 2016 Trump publicly encouraged Russia to meddle in our election

Well... yes and no, but if I were to subscribe to Reich´s five points I might as well subscribe to ¨American intelligence¨. And as I said, I trust them as much as I trust Trump.


5. Our Missing $10 Trillion

This article is by Josh Hoxle on Common Dreams and originally on OtherWords. It starts as follows:

A trillion dollars, a figure with twelve zeros after a one, is by any measure a ton of money. It’s near impossible to comprehend how much a trillion is.

So, it’s admittedly hard to comprehend a new report that tallies the combined tax cuts of the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations from the year 2000 to the time they’re fully implemented in 2025 at over $10 trillion. Of that $10 trillion, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found, a whopping $2 trillion will have gone exclusively to the top 1 percent.

Sounds like big numbers, huh?

The Endowment for Human Development offers some tidy tips for visualizing a trillion. They point out that if you took a trillion one-dollar bills and laid them end-to-end, it would measure longer than the distance from the earth to the sun.
In any case, a trillion dollars is a whole lot of money and - i.a. - more than ten times (!!) as much as the head of Amazon currently owns.

Here is more, and this is considerably more specific:

The past four decades have seen a dramatic increase in income and wealth inequality as the rich have continued to get richer while the rest of the economy has stagnated. The lopsided tilt of the tax code plays no small part.

As this new report points out, it’s not just the Trump tax cuts. Bush cut taxes too, especially for the rich, and Obama extended many of the Bush tax cuts.

And at last the results have arrived. Put very simply, the top 1 percent of households will pay $111 billion less this year alone in federal taxes combined than they would have if the laws had remained unchanged since 2000.

In fact $111 billion is about what the head of Amazon currently owns. But indeed in other words: This is also what the top 1 percent will receive this year (I take it, for I have not checked this).

Here is more:

Since the Trump cuts were passed last December, Congress has debated a budget that includes major cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. They’ve considered cuts to programs families depend on to live — like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutrition assistance to half the babies born in the United States.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that choosing to cut taxes on the rich while cutting vital programs is taking food out of babies’ mouth

I think that Trump and most rich Republicans are trying to drive many of the poor to suicide. Also, I think this is hard to refute given that half of the babies born in the USA are born in such poor circumstances that they need nutrition assistance.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Meanwhile, our nation’s transportation infrastructure is in shambles. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s infrastructure a D+ and calls for $2 trillion in increased investment over ten years to get back up to a passing grade. That number sounds familiar doesn’t it?

So, ask yourself, would you rather have the wealthiest 1 percent be $2 trillion wealthier, or would you rather have safe and sound roads and bridges?

Well... I think that those who are not wealthy hardly have any voice in the present American ¨democracy¨, which I do not regard as a democracy anymore, indeed precisely for that reason.

So the question is senseless (in my opinion) but I agree that the American rich have succeeded in rearrangeing American politics in such a way that the 1 percent of the richest get most of the wealth, while the 99% have hardly or not at all increased what they earned, proportionally, since the late 1970ies.

There are many graphics online that tell the same story, and here is one I repeat from 8 days ago, from
Guess Who Benefits From Republican Tax Cuts?

             

Note the above is per household. And this is a recommended article.

Note

[1] I have now been saying since the 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they 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 will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).
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