from October 28, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Sunday,
2018. Incidentally, there are today fewer comments by me than is usual,
because I had problems loading files in Firefox.
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.
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
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from October 28, 2018:
1. What Trump and John Bolton Don’t Understand About Nuclear
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. U.S. Corporations Steal $180 Billion From the Rest of the
3. Eco Crises: Doom & Gloom, Truth & Consequences
4. WikiLeaks ‘ Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity
5. A Tragedy in Three Parts: Corporations, Coups, and Crazies
1. What Trump and John Bolton Don’t
Understand About Nuclear War
This article is by Jon
Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
President Donald Trump’s
announcement on October 20 that he intends to pull the United States
out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was, if nothing
else, appropriately timed. On that date exactly 56 years before,
President John F. Kennedy abruptly cut short a midterm campaign trip to
Illinois because, the White House said, he had a cold. In fact, Kennedy
was returning to Washington to address the Cuban missile crisis — the
closest humanity has ever come to obliterating itself with a nuclear
The INF treaty was signed
in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail
Gorbachev. It required both countries to forgo any land-based missiles,
nuclear or otherwise, with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
In concrete terms, the
treaty was a huge success. The U.S. destroyed almost 1,000 of its own
missiles, and the Soviets destroyed almost 2,000 of theirs.
Yes indeed. Here is
The long negotiation of the
INF treaty, and the post-signing environment it helped create, was
part of an extraordinary collapse of tensions between the U.S. and the
Soviet Union during the 1980s. When Reagan took office, the Soviets
genuinely believed that the U.S. might engage in a nuclear first strike
against them. This, in turn, led to two separate moments in 1983 in
which the two countries came terrifyingly close to accidental nuclear
war — closer than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.
Instead, the INF treaty was
part of an era of good feelings that contributed to one of the most
remarkable events of the past 100 years: the largely peaceful implosion
of the Soviet Empire. Empires generally do not go quietly, and the
dynamics of imperial collapse often contribute to huge conflagrations.
Think of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and World War
I; or the British Empire and World War II. The Soviet fall was an
incredible piece of good fortune for the world; if it had happened in
the early 1980s, instead of a few years later, it plausibly would have
Possibly so, indeed because
there was no INF treaty then. Here is more:
The hard reality is that
our species almost committed suicide on October 27, the most dangerous
moment of the Cuban missile crisis, later dubbed Black Saturday by the
Kennedy administration. Even with comparative doves in charge of the
U.S. and the Soviet Union, we came close to ending human civilization,
thanks to mutual incomprehension. And we avoided it, as then-Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara later said, not by talent or wisdom, but pure
Yes, I think McNamara
was right. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
So in the end, we’re not
here to think about the 56th anniversary of Black Saturday because of
our overweening military might, or because we forced our adversaries to
bend to our will. It’s just the opposite, plus an extraordinary run of
But what we can be sure of
is that if people like Trump and Bolton had been in charge in 1962,
then today there would be no discussion of the INF treaty — because
there would be no treaty and no one to discuss it. It’s also certain
that on our current trajectory, the day will come when the world will
face a similar crisis. That time we won’t get the same roll of the
dice. The hard reality of the Cuban missile crisis is that, as Blight
and Lang put it, “either we put an end to nuclear weapons, or they will
put an end to us.”
Yes, I fear that is
right and this is a strongly recommended article.
Corporations Steal $180 Billion From the Rest of the World Every Year
This article is by
Jon Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Are tax havens an enraging
but tangential subject? Or do they have a powerful effect on how the
U.S. economy functions and should therefore be a part of every
The startling findings of a
study indicate that it’s the latter. Titled “The Exorbitant
Tax Privilege,” the paper is co-written by Thomas Wright and University
of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman, one of the world’s
top authorities on tax havens and author of the best layperson’s
introduction to the subject, “The
Hidden Wealth of Nations.”
Tax havens — the most
significant include Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, the Netherlands,
Luxembourg, Hong Kong, and Bermuda — serve two purposes.
The first is tax evasion by
individuals, which is illegal. Think of Russian or Nigerian plutocrats
transferring their assets to small Caribbean nations with strict
banking secrecy laws, freeing them from the dreary necessity of paying
taxes in their home countries.
The second is tax avoidance by
huge multinational corporations, which — as long as the lawyers are
doing their jobs — is perfectly legal. Here imagine Apple using various
forms of accounting chicanery to claim that tens of billions of its
profits generated in countries with normal corporate tax rates were
made in Ireland, where Apple had negotiated a special 2 percent tax
rate for itself. (Apple has on occasion gone even further, asserting
that some of its profits were made, for the purposes of taxation, in no
country at all.)
Quite so (and I
disliked Apple and Jobs since the later 1980ies, but that is just me).
Here is how the
extremely rich get a lot richer still:
That indeed - ¨preposterously enough¨ - is both true and a big shame. In fact, here is a
contrast with Europe:
his book that tax avoidance and evasion translate into
hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes every year — money
that, for the most part, ends up in the pockets of the world’s
The Zucman and Wright paper
addresses the multinational corporation part of the equation. Among
• As of 1970, American
multinationals claimed that under 10 percent of their profits were
generated in tax havens; that number is now, preposterously enough,
almost 50 percent.
Yes, I think that is true.
Here is more:
By contrast, European
multinationals generally say under 20 percent of their profits were
made in tax havens. U.S. multinationals engage in this white shoe,
three-card monte for obvious reasons: They pay effective tax rates of
27 percent on profits generated in non-tax havens, the paper finds, and
7 percent in tax havens.
• The sheer fraudulence of tax
havens has reached breathtaking levels.
I say. Here is the last bit of this article that I
• For decades, thanks in
part to tax havens, both the statutory and effective tax rates for
multinationals have been steadily ratcheted down around the world.
Since the early 1990s, the rate paid by U.S. non-oil multinationals on
foreign profits has fallen from 35 percent to 20 percent.
• Similarly, the tax rate paid
by U.S. oil companies to foreign governments plummeted from an average
of 70 percent before the 1991 Gulf War to 45 percent since (...)
Zucman and Wright
estimate that almost half of the difference between U.S. returns and
foreign returns can be attributed to abnormally low tax rates for U.S.
multinationals, which in turn are thanks to U.S. power and tax havens.
If their conclusions are correct, this exorbitant tax privilege
translates into about $180 billion per year, or almost 1 percent of
U.S. GDP. (If 1 percent doesn’t sound like a lot to you, remember that
for the past decade the U.S. economy has usually grown between just 1.5
percent and 2.5 percent per year.) In a fairer world economy, this
money would largely be collected by non-tax haven foreign governments
in taxes. Instead, it flows to U.S. multinationals and their
Quite so, and this is a
strongly recommended article.
Crises: Doom & Gloom, Truth & Consequences
Kristine Mattis on Common Dreams. This is from near its beginning:
In 1972, the Club of Rome,
a consortium of scientists,
economists, politicians, diplomats, and industrialists, produced a
lengthy scientific report entitled Limits to Growth. Their work
predicted a collapse of the human population due to our unchecked
economic growth and resource depletion. While their estimates were
condemned as alarmist and overreaching, independent researchers have updated the
report for the 50th anniversary of the club’s inception,
and have largely found that the conclusions from the original still
Incidentally, I was woken up - so to speak - in 1972 by th
Report of the Club of Rome, and the article in Nature - the updated the
report - which is not
long is well worth reading, indeed perhaps especially for
people like me, who 46 years ago also read quite a few
purported ¨refutations¨ of the original report.
Anyway... it is still
mostly correct, and here is more about recent news:
Then came the most recent
report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change),
which, more than any of their other previous papers, finally conveyed
the true immediacy and urgency of the climate crisis. It largely
validated Wallace-Wells’ assessment of impeding large-scale catastrophe
to all of humanity if we do not act promptly. For some of the more
muted voices who study, work on, or otherwise follow the many
environmental crises concurrently embroiling (and broiling) our planet,
the IPCC report was surprising, not because of how drastically it
portrayed the severity of the predicament we are in, but because of how
it no longer pulled any punches about our dire circumstance.
Incidentally, the ¨Wallace-Wells’ assessment¨ is treated in the article,
but was skipped by me.
Here is more:
On first glance, it would
seem that the science communication scholars are correct: the
devastatingly huge nature of the problem leads to despair and inaction.
But is that really what we are seeing? Are we seeing despair - or
denial? I don’t mean the sort of denial that claims climate change is
not occurring at all or that it is a natural phenomenon. I am talking
about denial in the form of not willing to admit that you, personally,
have a role to play in the problem and in the solution – that in
addition to so many changes necessary on large-scale political,
economic, industrial, occupational, and social levels, every one of us
also needs to change our way of life in innumerable ways, and none more
so than the wealthy.
I am sorry, but I mostly
disagree and I do so for at least two reasons.
First, I don´t think
that the despair vs. denial is a useful discussion, simply because
nobody really knows what other people are feeling.
And second, Mattis may
believe that ¨every one of us
also needs to change our way of life in innumerable ways¨ and I may agree to the fact, but I also
- still, and since 46 years - think that relatively few are willing to change much in
their ways of life.
Besides, I don´t
think people with a low income (of which there are very
many) have much room for making changes in their own ways of life
- and I know, for I have been ill for forty years now, and
probably had the lowest income any Dutchman received the last 50 years,
excluding those who went to prison for quite a few years.
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
As I have said already: If we
depend on a ¨dramatical alteration of much of our way of life¨ I am
sorry, but it still will not happen.
Our way out is to
dramatically alter much of our way of life. It is to prioritize
ecological concerns and do our best to conduct every aspect of our
lives sustainably, rather than just pay lip service to our belief that
climate change is real or that plastic pollution is a problem or that
fossil fuel use is unsustainable. In many, if not most ways, we just
simply need to stop. Our way of life is incompatible with the
continuance of life.
‘ Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity
article is by Mark Curtis on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
Twelve years ago this month, WikiLeaks began publishing
government secrets that the world public might otherwise never have
known. What it has revealed about state duplicity, human rights abuses
and corruption goes beyond anything published in the world’s
quite agree, although ¨the service
Wikileaks has done¨ (and I agree) will look quite different in the eyes
of the present English and American government.
over six months of being cut off from outside world, on 14 October
Ecuador has partly restored Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s
communications with the outside world from its London embassy where the
founder has been living for over six years. (Assange, however, later
rejected Ecuador’s restrictions imposed on him.)
treatment – real and threatened – meted out to Assange by the U.S. and
UK governments contrasts sharply with the service Wikileaks has done
their publics in revealing the nature of elite power, as shown in the
following snapshot of Wikileaks’ revelations about British foreign
policy in the Middle East.
Here is more:
The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British
government duplicity of the kind I’ve extensively come across in my own
research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO
bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British
government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him.
did not know this, but it seems quite likely. Here is more:
Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive
show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having
talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a “post-Qaddafi” Libya.
This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The
intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about
protecting civilians was simply window dressing.
Britain’s GCHQ is also revealed to have spied on Wikileaks
itself – and its readers. One classified GCHQ document from 2012 shows
that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly collect the IP
addresses of visitors to the Wikileaks site in real time, as well as
the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search
engines such as Google.
something I did not know, but that I do believe. Here is the
last bit from this article:
The British government is punishing Assange for the service
that Wikileaks has performed. It is ignoring a UN ruling that he is
being held in “arbitrary detention” at the Ecuadorian embassy, while
failing, illegally, to ensure his health needs are met. Whitehall is
also refusing to offer diplomatic assurances that Assange will not be
extradited to the US – the only reason he remains in the embassy.
completely agree and this is a strongly recommended article.
campaigns have portrayed Assange as a sexual predator or a Russian
agent, often in the same media that have benefitted from covering
Tragedy in Three Parts: Corporations, Coups, and Crazies
This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
The silent coup and
the roots of corporate tyranny
Nearly 40 years ago, in his
first inaugural address, Ronald Reagan said, “In this present crisis,
government is not the solution to our problem; government is the
increasingly neoliberal Democrats agreed and told us the market was the
source of solutions, and they worked assiduously to shrink government
in size and power.
But as it turns out,
government was the solution, and the market was the problem.
But the whole shrink the
government routine was part of a sophisticated strategy launched by a
few rich families and corporations in what amounted to a silent coup.
Casting government as the cause of our ills was simply a pretext to
shrink and weaken it so that corporations and the ultra-rich could get
more economic and political power.
Yes indeed: I think
this is basically correct. Here is more:
At first, things went
smoothly for the plutocrats. With Democrats – and much of the rest of
the world – essentially joining with Republicans by embracing
neoliberalism, the trend in global politics was to endorse the same
small government, market uber alles, deregulatory dogma as the
Republicans, and the results for the ultra-rich and corporations were
and are impressive. For example:
I think all of this is quite
correct. Here is more:
But it hasn’t simply paid
off in terms of money and wealth, it has given corporations and the
rich unprecedented power, both politically, and in terms of economic
influence. Again, a few examples:
- A comprehensive study of
voter preferences vs. those of interest groups by Gilens
and Page revealed that the preferences of the
average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero,
statistically non-significant impact upon public policy (emphasis
- In 2017, there were more
than 11,500 registered federal lobbyists in the US, spending nearly
$3.4 billion, both representing an increase over the previous years
a long term trend of fewer lobbyists that had been happening
since 2007, despite Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp“.
Precisely - and this
strongly supports my thesis that power = wealth, except
if that identity is controlled by law, which these days
Here is more:
I cannot control the two
points in the above quote, but I think they are correct. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
Two studies show how
effective this lobbying has been for corporations and the wealthy:
- One, (appearing in the
Journal of Law and Politics 25, no. 401 (2009): 401–57
by Alexander, Myer and Schultz) found that for every dollar spent on
lobbying, corporations and others got back $220 in tax benefits;
other states that “After examining 14 million records, including
data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget
allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar
spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active
corporations received $760 from the government,” adding up to a total
of $4.4 trillion in federal
business and support.
Finally, as deregulation
proceeded, companies engaged in an orgy of consolidation, until today,
consumers (aka citizens) are
at the mercy of monopolies in virtually all aspects of commerce. This
wholesale consolidation keeps wages low, diminishes service and
quality, allows for what amounts to price fixing, and it gives
corporations yet more political power.
Now, there is one
final ingredient to add to this tragedy: the complicity of the
Democratic Party. Had they championed an effective government;
had they embraced New Deal policies that constrained corporations and
fat-cats; had they run on a commitment to values, then the poor and
middle-class people getting screwed would have had a champion they
could go to. But they didn’t.
Quite so, and this is a
strongly recommended article.
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 (!!).