from December 21, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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 three 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 December 21, 2018:
1. Mattis Leaving as Pentagon Chief After
Clashes With Trump
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. NAACP Launches Boycott of Facebook
3. Putin Issues Chilling Warning on Rising Threat of Nuclear
4. That Time Democrats Secretly Used Russian Social Media
5. Groomed to Consume
Leaving as Pentagon Chief After Clashes With Trump
This article is by
Zeke Miller and Lolita Baldor on Truthdig and originally on The
Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis abruptly said he was resigning Thursday, a day after President
Donald Trump overruled his advice against pulling troops out of Syria
and pressed forward on discussions to withdraw forces from Afghanistan.
Mattis, perhaps the most
respected foreign policy official in Trump’s administration, will leave
by the end of February after two tumultuous years struggling to soften
and moderate the president’s hardline and sometimes sharply changing
policies. He told Trump in a letter that he was leaving because “you
have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better
aligned with yours.”
Trump said in a tweet that
Mattis was retiring, but that’s not what Mattis said.
Yes - and of course
Trump was (as seems usual for him) lying that Mattis was
retiring. Here is some more:
The announcement came a day
after Trump surprised U.S. allies and members of Congress by announcing
the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria, and as he continues to
consider shrinking the American deployment in Afghanistan.
Trump’s decision to pull
troops out of Syria has been sharply criticized for abandoning
America’s Kurdish allies, who may well face a Turkish assault once U.S.
troops leave, and had been staunchly opposed by the Pentagon.
Mattis, in his resignation
letter, emphasized the importance of standing up for U.S. allies — an
implicit criticism of the president’s decision on this issue and others.
Yes. Here are two or
three good points about Mattis:
This is a recommended
During his first
conversations with Trump about the Pentagon job, Mattis made it clear
that he disagreed with his new boss in two areas: He said torture
doesn’t work, despite Trump’s assertion during the campaign that it
did, and he voiced staunch support for traditional U.S. international
alliances, including NATO, which Trump repeatedly criticized.
Mattis was credited by some
in the administration for blocking an executive order that would have
reopened CIA interrogation “black sites.” Trump has said the Pentagon
chief convinced him it wasn’t necessary to bring back banned torture
techniques like waterboarding.
Launches Boycott of Facebook
This article is by
Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the
title. It starts with the following introduction:
Facebook is under fire
this time for new revelations that Russian trolls targeted African
Americans on social media in an effort to influence the vote ahead of
the 2016 election. A pair of bipartisan reports published by the Senate
Intelligence Committee Monday claim the Russian government focused on
African Americans in its effort to suppress the turnout of voters
likely to cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, spreading fake news and
sowing discord in the run-up to the election. The NAACP
has launched a Facebook boycott in response, demanding the social media
giant be held responsible. We speak with Derrick Johnson, president and
CEO of the NAACP.
Yes. I very strongly
dislike Facebook (which I have never used and will never use, and have
visited only twice, to the best of my knowledge) for I think it is an
extremely fraudulent and very dishonest corporation, that
the privacies - and the e-mails and everything else, as far as
I know -
of 4 billion persons as a matter of course.
As to the NAACP and Derrick
Johnson, these last two links are to the Wikipedia (that I like
less and less, because it lies more and more to the best of my
knowledge, but that is not very relevant here).
Finally, as to the
¨Facebook boycott¨: I think that is somewhat mistakingly named,
boycott¨ of a week is - in my opinion - hardly a serious
boycott. (I do not use Facebook at all
and never will, but it is true that I know html and can program. Then
again, neither is necessary
if you are willing to use e-mail.)
Here is some more:
SHAIKH: (...) In response,
the NAACP has launched a 1-week digital
boycott of Facebook, demanding the social media giant be held
responsible for allowing the disinformation campaign. The civil rights
group says Facebook has a history of data breaches that unfairly target
users of color. The NAACP has also returned
a recent donation it received from Facebook, in protest.
GOODMAN: The boycott comes
as The New York Times reports Facebook gave intrusive access
to users’ personal data to dozens of other Silicon Valley companies,
exempting them from Facebook’s privacy rules, even as it misled its
users into thinking their data was protected. The Times
investigation found companies like Microsoft, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon
were given access to far more Facebook users’ data than even Cambridge
Analytica, the British PR firm that collected the data of 87 million
Americans in a bid to sway the 2016 presidential election for Donald
Trump. The data sharing appeared to violate terms of a 2011 consent
agreement with the Federal Trade Commission on user privacy.
Yes indeed. Here is Derrick
JOHNSON: Well, you know,
you think about African-American usage of Facebook. We over-index with
that tool. And if they have allowed the data, personal data of
individuals, to be utilized by a foreign nation in an attempt to
subvert democracy, but, most importantly, the festering racial
intolerance and hate that we’ve seen over the last two years, if their
platform was a part of creating this environment, they must make the
necessary modifications and begin to remedy those problems.
In addition to that, there
are pending lawsuits against Facebook because they’ve also allowed
their tool to be used to discriminate in terms of housing purchases and
other consumerism opportunity, for African Americans are being excluded
as a result of their platform. There is a lot wrong with Facebook today.
I agree (since a long time)
but I think that ¨a boycott¨ of a week of Facebook - that is very
dishonest - is not very serious.
Here is more by Johnson:
JOHNSON: Well, for us, you
know, we’re not going to get into what they did or did not do. We are
going to get into the impact of their actions or lack thereof. The
outcome is what I’m more concerned about.
And the outcome is one in
which they’ve allowed their tool to be used to discriminate against
African-American communities in terms of home purchases. They’ve
allowed their tool to be used by a foreign nation to subvert democracy
and seek to suppress African-American votes. They’ve allowed their tool
to fester racial hatred. They’ve allowed their culture climate to hire
an outside firm to investigate African-American groups and individuals
as if we were a candidate to be opposed to. They’ve allowed their
platform to subvert democracy in ways in which—is not acceptable.
So, how they got there, why
they got there, what steps they’ve taken and stumbled along the way
becomes irrelevant. It’s the outcome, the impact, that we’re most
concerned about. And we have not seen a sense of urgency or priority by
Facebook to remedy the harms they’ve created.
This seems to me mostly
correct, in considerable part because I do not think anyone who
Zuckerberg or Sandberg is going to know
what Facebook ¨did or did not
do¨: Facebook lies and also hides behind the fact that it
corporation that will keep its programs (that the mainstream media
insist - falsely - should be called ¨algorithms¨) secret -
that no one who is not in a leading position will know them.
And again: I think ¨a
boycott¨ of a week is hardly serious as a boycott. Here
is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
GOODMAN: And finally, the
Senate also approving the bipartisan bill that would roll back
sentences for federal prisoners, about a tenth of the prison population
of this country, rolling back mandatory life terms for third-time
offenders, as well as mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug users and
those convicted of firearms crimes. It’s an astounding array across the
political spectrum, the number of Republicans who joined Democrats in
voting for this. Your thoughts?
JOHNSON: (...) There is so
much to be offered for—by so many individuals. If we can get this same
type of reform as relates to the 50 states’ sentencing reform laws, we
could be a better nation for it. There’s so much talent that’s been
thrown away in this nation, and we need to prevent that from ever
Yes indeed, and the
Senate´s approvement of the bipartisan bill is a small
This is a recommended article.
Issues Chilling Warning on Rising Threat of Nuclear War
is by Vladimir Isachenkov on Truthdig and originally on The Associated
Press. It starts as follows:
Yes. And while I do not
like Putin, he is correct on several points, namely the enormous
of a nuclear war; the fact (I think) that he does not want
to dominate the world
(which seems false to me, not because of Putin´s wishes, but
because of the failing strength of Russia); and ¨the breakup of the arms control system¨.
Russian President Vladimir
Putin issued a chilling warning Thursday about the rising threat of a
nuclear war, saying “it could lead to the destruction of civilization
as a whole and maybe even our planet” — and putting the blame squarely
on the U.S.
Speaking at his annual news
conference, Putin scoffed at Western claims he wants to dominate the
world and said Western countries are antagonizing Russia for their own
domestic reasons, and at their own peril. He dismissed claims of
Russian interference abroad, from a nerve agent poisoning in Britain to
an alleged effort to infiltrate the U.S. National Rifle Association.
Instead he sought to paint
himself as the world’s protector. Pointing at the U.S. intention to
withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF,
Treaty, Putin warned that if the U.S. puts intermediate-range missiles
in Europe, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.
“We are witnessing the breakup
of the arms control system,” Putin said, noting the U.S. plan to opt
out of the INF Treaty and its reluctance to negotiate the extension of
the New START agreement.
Here is some more:
Yes, I think Putin is right
in the above.
Putin noted that Western
analysts are talking about the possibility of using low-yield nuclear
“There is a trend of
lowering the threshold” of using nuclear weapons, Putin said. “Lowering
the threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe.”
“We will have to ensure our
security,” he said. “And they shouldn’t squeak later about us gaining
unilateral advantages. We aren’t seeking advantages, we are trying to
preserve the balance and ensure our security.”
Putin also emphasized that
the U.S. is pondering the use of ballistic missiles with conventional
warheads, saying that the launch of such a missile could be mistaken
for the launch of a nuclear-tipped one and trigger a global catastrophe.
“If that happens, it could
lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our
planet,” he said.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, that outlines the
differences in strength between the present Russia and the USA:
Yes - and since the
military budgets are more or less correct, it is a quite relevant
thought that Russia´s military spending is less than 0.07th of
the USA´s military spending. And this is a recommended article.
Putin said it’s the U.S.,
Russia, that’s aspiring to dominate the world. He pointed at U.S.
annual defense spending exceeding $700 billion, comparing it with
Russia’s military budget of $46 billion.
Time Democrats Secretly Used Russian Social Media Tactics
is by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Yes indeed - and
incidentally: I do not deny that the Russians did
interfere some in the
American elections, but it seems (to me and to informed others) that
they did not interfere much, and besides, the USA does similar
Remember those dubious Twitter
and Facebook tactics the Russians reportedly employed to influence
the United States’ 2016 election? You know, the ones that Democrats
have been railing against for a couple of years. Turns out that the
Democratic Party may be furious about their possible impact on American
democracy, but isn’t above using them.
According to The New York
Times, “a group of Democratic tech experts” mimicked Russia’s social
media tactics in the infamous 2017 Alabama senate race between
Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Jones ultimately beat
accused sex offender Moore by a narrow
margin, earning Democrats another seat in the Senate.
Here is part of a quotation of the New York Times in this article that
explains what the Democrats did in Alabama:
In fact, though I suppose this
did happen, it cannot have amounted to much, for the simple reason that
100,000 : 51 million = less than a 0.002th part.
An internal report on the
Alabama effort, obtained by The New York Times, says explicitly that it
“experimented with many of the tactics now understood to have
influenced the 2016 elections.”
The project’s operators created a Facebook page on which
they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide
Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from
Mr. Moore. It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands
of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican
candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention.
“We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that
planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media
by a Russian botnet,” the report says. …
The project had a budget of just $100,000, in a race that
cost approximately $51 million, including the primaries, according to
Federal Election Commission records.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Yes, this is more or less
correct - and with the internet as it is, I think almost
politicians, and especially American ones, probably will be trying to
support their own proposals, plans, propaganda and lies in whatever way
that seems successful to them, especially if this can´t be found
easily. And this is a recommended article.
Due to the limited scope
the effort, it’s considered highly unlikely it had a significant impact
on the 2017 election. However, as the Times’ piece points out, the
cause for concern lies in whether future U.S. elections will be
determined by questionable tactics such as these. The Alabama incident
illustrates that it’s not just foreign entities that are invested in
stacking the odds in favor of their interests. As Republican
consultant Dan Bayens put it, “You’ve got Russia, which showed
folks how to do it, you’ve got consultants willing to engage in this
type of behavior and political leaders who apparently find it futile to
is by Anja Lyngbaek on Common Dreams and originally on the Economics of
Happiness Blog. It starts as follows:
With Christmas coming up,
household consumption will soon hit its yearly peak in many countries.
Despite homely pictures of tranquility on mass-produced greeting cards,
Christmas is more about frenzied shopping and overspending than peace
on earth or quality time with family and friends. As with so much of
our lives, the holidays have been hijacked by the idea that
satisfaction, even happiness, is only one more purchase away.
Two generations ago, my
Norwegian grandmother was overjoyed as a child when she received one
modest gift and tasted an imported orange at Christmastime. In the
modern era of long-distance trade and excess consumption, nobody gets
even mildly excited by tasting a foreign fruit or receiving a small
gift. Instead, adults dive into a cornucopia of global food (typically
followed by a period of dieting) while children expect numerous
expensive gifts – with designer clothes and electronic toys, games, and
gadgets topping the list.
This comparison is not
meant to romanticize the past or demean the present: it’s just a small
example of how consumption has come to replace the things that give
real meaning to our lives– like creating something with our own hands,
or sharing and interacting with others. In the process, we have been
robbed of the ability to take pleasure from small wonders.
Most of us are aware that
excessive consumption is a prime feature of modern life, and that it is
the cause of multiple social and environmental problems. We are living
in a so-called “consumer culture” – a rather fancy title for something
that has more in common with an abusive affliction, like bulimia or
alcoholism, than it does with real living culture.
Well... yes, but if you
are against the present consumer culture (which I think is quite
justified), I think you are not being quite logical if you say
that you do not intend to ¨romanticize the past or demean the present¨, for the simple reason that, at least
in the respect of a consumer culture, the past was better than
Here is more:
Yes, that seems quite
correct, except for “green
for - while I agree with the criticism of consumerism, I think
present there probably is something like “green consumerism”.
happen by itself: it is encouraged by an economic system that requires
perpetual economic growth. When national economies show signs of
slowing down, citizens are invariable called upon to increase their
consumption, which in a country like the US represents 70 percent of
GDP. Curiously, when talk turns to the downside of consumerism –
resource depletion, pollution, or shoppers trampled at Wal-Mart – it is
the greed supposedly inherent in human nature that gets the blame.
Rather than look at the role of corporate media, advertising, and other
systemic causes of overconsumption, we are encouraged to keep shopping
– but to do so “responsibly”, perhaps by engaging in “green
consumerism”, a galling oxymoron.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article (minus note
numbers, that refer to notes that are not present on Common
These are quite
interesting numbers (that are probably mostly correct) and this is
recommended article, in which there is a lot more than I quoted.
And the pressure to consume
is rising, along with the amount of money spent on advertising. It is
forecast that global advertising expenditure will hit $568 billion for
2018, a 7.4 percent increase over 2017. According to UN figures, that
amount of money would be sufficient to both eradicate extreme poverty
and foot the bill for measures to mitigate the effects of climate
Instead, we are “groomed to
consume”. In the US, this means that the average young person is
exposed to more than 3,000 ads per day on television, the internet,
billboards and in magazines, according to the American Academy of
Pediatrics. While the figure may be lower in other countries, people
everywhere are increasingly exposed to advertising – particularly
through the internet, which now has over 4 billion users globally. In
fact, half of the global “consumer-class” can now be found in the
developing world. Although per capita consumption in China and India
remains substantially less than in Europe, those two countries now
consume more in total than all of Western Europe.
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 (!!).