in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from January 31, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
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 January 31, 2019:
1. As U.S. Moves to Oust Maduro, Is
Invading Venezuela Next?
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. The United States Is the Most
Corrupt Country in the World
3. ‘Stop talking about philanthropy’ and pay higher taxes
4. The Disaster of Howard Schultz
5. “Tell Me Donald. Exactly How Much Is a Human Life Being
U.S. Moves to Oust Maduro, Is Invading Venezuela Next?
This article is by
Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with
the following introduction:
The United States is
continuing to ratchet up pressure on the Venezuelan government in an
attempt to topple President Nicolás Maduro. On Tuesday, the State
Department announced it is giving control of Venezuela’s U.S. bank
accounts to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself to be
president last week. Meanwhile, the U.S. has also refused to rule out a
military invasion of Venezuela. We spend the hour with prize-winning
investigative journalist Allan Nairn.
I usually copy the
introductions to the interviews Democracy Now! makes because they are
good. I also did so here, although part is repeated by Amy Goodman:
GOODMAN: The United States
is continuing to ratchet up pressure on the Venezuelan government in an
attempt to topple President Nicolás Maduro. On Tuesday, the State
Department announced it’s giving control of Venezuela’s U.S. bank
accounts to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself
president of Venezuela last week.
This came a day after the
U.S. imposed a de facto embargo on oil from Venezuela’s
state-run oil company, PDVSA. The new
sanctions include exemptions for several U.S. firms, including Chevron
and Halliburton, to allow them to continue working in Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has
also refused to rule out a military invasion of Venezuela. On Monday,
national security adviser John Bolton was photographed holding a
notepad on which he had written the words “5,000 troops to Colombia.”
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence met with members of the
Venezuelan opposition at the White House. Trump’s new special envoy to
Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, also took part in the meetings. Elliott
Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was convicted in 1991 for lying to
Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned by
President George H.W. Bush. Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General
Efraín Ríos Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture
of indigenous people in Guatemala in the 1980s. Ríos Montt was later
convicted of genocide. Abrams was also linked to the 2002 coup in
Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chávez.
I think the above is all
correct and here is some information on Allan Nairn. Here is more by Nairn:
I think this is also all correct
- and please note that Juan Guaidó ¨declared himself as the new president of Venezuela¨.
NAIRN: What his
appointment emphasizes, re-emphasizes—it was already obvious—was that
the U.S. is trying to overthrow the government of Venezuela and that it
will be willing to use violence, to use military force, if necessary.
That’s what Abrams, and indeed U.S. policy, has been all about.
I think their first
preference would be to have a successful covert operation. Mike Pompeo,
when he was in charge of the CIA, all but
stated it publicly. At one point when he was speaking in Aspen at one
of those gatherings of the elite, he gave the rough outlines of an
operation, in coordination with U.S. allies like Colombia, to topple
the Maduro government in Venezuela. And now, just recently, the night
before Guaidó declared himself as the new president of Venezuela, he
was on the phone with Mike Pence directly. Pence was—The Wall Street
Journal broke the story. Pence was directly talking to him, and the
next day he comes out and declares himself as the president of
Venezuela. And now they’re asking—they’re offering incentives to
Venezuelan Army officers to come over to their side and hoping that the
U.S. can re-establish control of Venezuela in that manner.
Here is more about Donald Trump´s interests in Venezuela and war:
I think this is also correct.
Then there is this about elections and the USA:
In 2016, during the
campaign, speaking of Iraq, Trump said, “To the victor belong the
spoils. You have to go in and take the oil.” You could call this a
Trump doctrine. And Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves.
Now, very often oil is used as the explanation for the motive for U.S.
invasions and foreign policy, and I think its role is usually way
overblown. People give it too much weight in the analysis. But in this
case, it might turn out to be very relevant, given that Trump has that
doctrine and is now personally in power.
Trump needs a new war. Trump has been stuck with, for him, being in the
embarrassing position of just being able to continue the old W. Bush
and Obama wars. There’s a consensus among U.S. mainstream historians
that no president can be great unless he has a war.
Yes, though this may need some
qualifications. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
NAIRN: The U.S. has
always—and this is an important point for understanding U.S.
context—the U.S. doesn’t care at all about elections. They don’t care
at all about the poor. Completely fake elections are fine with them.
The U.S. just, you know, not long ago, finished ratifying a fraudulent
election in Honduras, where Hernández imposed himself for re-election,
and he did that with the assistance of Mike Pence and others. They
don’t care about the poor. They targeted Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian
movement from the beginning. In 2002, even though Chávez had, not long
before, been re-elected in a clean vote, a completely clean vote.
Indeed. Also, while I do not
know much about Venezuela, I do know a few things, and tomorrow
there may be a review of a recent good interview with Noam Chomsky, who
explains that he
NAIRN: But in the
conditions we have today, where Maduro does not have near the popular
support that Chávez did, where he’s really been running the country
into the ground and has been using the fact that the U.S. is trying to
undermine the government as a universal excuse for everything, for his
own incompetence and corruption and brutality against protesters in the
streets, this government, the Maduro government, is in a rather weak
position. And it appears that the population is now becoming rather
does not much like either Maduro or Chavez, although they are better
than the local rich or the CEOs of American oil companies. And this is
a recommended article, with considerably more than I reviewed.
United States Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
This article is by
Juan Cole on Truthdig and originally on Informed Comment. It starts as
Well... what does
¨corruption¨ mean? Here is the beginning of an article on
Wikipedia on corruption
(minus note numbers):
The United States fell six
places to a ranking of only 22 in Transparency
International’s list of countries by corruption. Under Donald
Trump, America is not in the top 20 for fair dealing.
But as I have argued
before, the United States is the most corrupt country in the world and
should be ranked 194, not 22.
In general, corruption
is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a
person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to
acquire illicit benefit. Corruption may include many activities
including bribery and embezzlement,
though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Political corruption occurs when an
office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official
capacity for personal gain. Corruption is most commonplace in kleptocracies, oligarchies, narco-states
In brief, I think
myself that the USA is corrupt, and under Trump considerably
than under Obama, but I do not think that (bolding added) ¨the
United States is the
most corrupt country in the world¨.
Then again, much
depends on how one defines ¨corruption¨, and Cole does not
define it. But here he is on the USA:
I think my conclusions
must be that Cole´s definition does not seem to be quite like
definition that Transparency
International used (which I do not know) and also not
quite like the
definition in the Wikipedia (which I will presume in this review).
Obviously, the U.S.
Departments of Justice and the Treasury would not give corporations
impunity for obtaining contracts by bribery, and it is this sort of
scrupulousness that the Transparency International list is rewarding.
And Americans don’t have to bribe government officials, as is true in
many countries (though, to be fair to the government officials, they
typically demand bribes because their governments don’t pay them a
But in all sorts of ways,
U.S. corruption is off the charts, and because the U.S. is still the
No. 1 economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product, massive
corruption here has a global impact.
Cole proceeds to give ten points. I will partially quote six of them.
Here is the first:
Well... I don´t quite
is corruption, for which I will use the Wikipedia´s definition,
although I agree with Cole that what he sketches is bad.
(But some of the Republicans may be honest in not believing in climate
change, and besides, disagreements about facts or science do not
usually falll under ¨corruption¨.)
1. The U.S. is so corrupt
our ruling Republican Party would even deny human-made climate change
and adopt pro-carbon policies inexorably destined to wreck the planet
earth, all to ensure a few extra years of profits for dirty coal
companies and oil giants like ExxonMobil.
Here is some more:
I agree this is also bad
again I think I would not call this corrupt. Here is some more:
2. Our government is so
corrupt that the Environmental Protection Agency has not only ceased
protecting the environment, it has become a cheerleader for polluting
industries, gutting any regulation that might stand in the way of
making a little extra money at the expense of, like, killing people.
Its current head is a former coal industry lobbyist!
3. The U.S.
government is so corrupt that it is winking at the murder by Saudi
authorities of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, almost
certainly at the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (...)
Again I agree this is bad
but I think I would not call this corrupt. Here is some more:
4. The U.S. is so corrupt
(audience: “How corrupt is it?”) that the Senate has allowed a bill to
come to the floor, introduced by Marco “Benedict Arnold” Rubio, that
approves of individual
states excluding vendors and contractors who boycott Israel.
Although Rubio, Gary Peters, Ron Wyden and other backers of the bill
maintain that it does not affect freedom of speech, it actually guts
freedom of speech. We university lecturers who speak on other campuses
are considered contractors, and people will be prevented from giving
talks at the University of Texas, for example, by such laws. The law is
unconstitutional and will be struck down if the U.S. judiciary still
has a modicum of integrity. (..)
And again I agree this is bad
but I think I would not call this corrupt. Here is some
5. A sure sign of
is an electoral outcome like that of 2016. An addled nonentity like
Donald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes and predatory behavior
in his casinos and other businesses, and then was permitted to buy the
presidency with his own money. He was given billions of dollars in free
campaign time every evening on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other channels that
should have been more even-handed, because they were in search of
advertising dollars and Trump was a good draw. Then, too, the way the
Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open,
unlimited secret buying of elections is the height of corruption. (..)
No, the reasons that
Trump gained the presidency are much more complicated than
What I do agree
with is that the Supreme Court did open the door to much
corruption by getting
¨rid of campaign finance
reform and¨ by allowing ¨open, unlimited secret buying of elections¨. (But that decision itself
was probably not so much corrupt as the consequence of
there now being more neoconservative/neoliberal judges. What Cole
is right about is that this opened the door to much corruption.)
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
6. The rich are
bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. The Koch brothers
and other megarich
troglodytes explicitly told Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in
2017 that if the Republican Party, controlling all three branches of
government, could not lower taxes on its main sponsors, there would be
no billionaire backing of the party in the 2018 midterms. This threat
of an electoral firing squad made the hundreds of bribe-takers in
Congress sit up and take notice, and they duly gave away to the
billionaire class $1.5 trillion in government services (that’s what
federal taxes are, folks—services, such as roads, schools, health
inspections, implementation of anti-pollution laws), things that
everyone benefits from and that won’t be there any more.
I think this
may be a
good example of corruption. There is considerably more in the article,
but I think my conclusions must be that (1) I would have liked a
definition of what Cole means by ¨corruption¨, while (2) I think I agree
with Cole on the political or moral badness of the facts he
criticizes, but I do not think most are corrupt in the
sense in which I tend to use that term.
talking about philanthropy’ and pay higher taxes
is by John Queally on AlterNet and originally on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
While the private jets have
mostly left the airport outside of Davos, Switzerland following the
conclusion of this year’s World Economic Forum, a little noticed
exchange that took place during the annual gathering has picked up
steam in recent days showing what it looks like when some of the
world’s richest people are confronted by someone willing to call
literal “bullshit” on the we-can-save-the- world-with-charity mantra
that dominates among the global elite.
If the world’s richest and
most powerful are worried about a so-called popular “backlash” in
response to the global economic system they defend—and largely
control—Rutger B[regman], a Dutch historian and author of the book Utopia
for Realists, during a panel last week titled “The Cost of
Inequality,” said the pathway is not complicated. “The answer,” he
said, “is very simple: Just stop talking about philanthropy, and start
talking about taxes.”
“I mean we can talk for a
long time about all these stupid philanthropy schemes,” Bregman added.
“We can invite [U2 frontman] Bono once more. But, come on, we’ve got to
be talking about taxes. That’s it. Taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is
bullshit in my opinion.”
I say, which I
do this time because I completely agree with Rutger Bregman
(as he is
called in Dutch - and the last link is to the Wikipedia, for though I
am Dutch, I did not hear earlier about him).
Also, I give a reason why Bregman is quite correct: Philanthropy
always a personal choice, whereas taxes (in a democracy) are (1) what
the majority of the population supports, that (2) can be imposed
And therefore those who are for philanthropy of the rich,
both against the majority of the population, and are against making it
Here is some more about the Davos panel:
I completely agree
Byanyima. And here is the last bit I quote from this article, which is
by Bernie Sanders:
Also on the Davos panel
with Bregman was Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam
International. Just last week, as the WEF summit was just opening,
Oxfam released a report on global inequality showing that just 26
billionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s 3.8 poorest billion
“We have a tax system that
leaks so much, that allows $170 billion of money every year to be taken
to tax havens and to be denied the developing countries that need that
money most,” said Byanyima during the panel. “So we have to look at the
business model, and we have to look at the role of governments to tax
and plow back money into people’s lives.”
Again I completely agree
and this is a strongly recommended article.
“We have a rigged tax
that has essentially legalized tax-dodging for large corporations and
the world’s wealthiest individuals,” said Sanders. “It is time to end
these egregious loopholes and make the wealthy pay their fair share.”
4. The Disaster of Howard
is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Well... Reich may be
factually correct, but then this reason would not only stop Howard Schulz
(and this is some background on this billionaire) but also - for
example - Ralph Nader (who does not run in 2020).
There are 3 big reasons why
Howard Schultz’s self-proclaimed candidacy is troubling:
1. He could be a
spoiler in 2020, splitting the vote and putting Trump back in the
White House. Even Bill Burton, a former Obama adviser who has joined
the Schultz team, publicly warned against third-party voting in 2016.
Here is some more:
I agree with Reich that
this is political and moral bullshit. Here
is the last point that I
quote from this - brief - article:
2. His message is
substance (he uses empty catchphrases like “silent majority” and
“common sense solutions”) and his policy proposals are zilch. When
asked by John Dickerson on CBS This Morning what his “big idea” was,
Schultz declared: “The big idea is very simple: to unite the country.
For us to come together. To do everything we can to realize that the
promise of America is for everyone.”
3. He represents
the very worst aspect of America’s new billionaire class in politics:
He simply anoints himself as a presidential candidate, declares he’s
running as an independent so doesn’t have to put himself and his ideas
through any party primary contest, and can spend an unlimited amount of
his own money marketing himself and his candidacy. American democracy
wasn’t built for this.
Yes indeed, I agree
Reich, though the majority of the Supreme Court probably does not.
this is a recommended article.
Me Donald. Exactly How Much Is a Human Life Being Sold For?”
is by Andy Rowell on Common Dreams and originally on Oil Change
International. It starts as follows:
This may be mostly
correct, although I am quite prepared to accept that Trump simply does not
believe in climate change, and also does not
believe in science
(and besides he is - in my psychologist's opinions - insane).
Two years into his
Presidency, the fullblown cost of Donald Trump’s assault on human
health, the environment and on science is becoming brutally and
The cost in lives lost and
pollution emitted from his rollback of regulations has been calculated
too. The numbers do not lie: Trump is killing his voters. Trump is
making our kids sick. Trump is killing the planet, at the same time as
giving his polluting friends in the fossil fuel industry billions of
dollars in handouts. And all the while, he carries on obfuscating the
truth about climate change in a deliberate attempt to confuse and
distort the debate.
And this bit is about Trump and science:
I agree with the Union of Concerned Scientists, who also
articulated their position in a list of 10 points, which I quote, but without
the explanatory texts:
First let’s look at
science. To mark the two year anniversary of Trump’s presidency, the
Union of Concerned Scientists has just issued a report into the
Administration’s attack on science.
It concludes: “The Trump
administration over its first two years has shown a pervasive pattern
of sidelining science in critical decisionmaking, compromising our
nation’s ability to meet current and future public health and
According to the UCS, the
ten major features of the Trump administration’s anti-science
guidance from scientific experts
climate change from policy development.
protections from hazards at work and home.
- Endangering the
- Creating a
federal science at scientific conferences.
- Changing data
use and availability.
I think most or all of the
above points are correct. Here is some more on the above (broken) rules:
Yes, I more or less agree. Here
is the last bit that I quote from this article:
To give you an example of
what Trump’s rollback looks like in terms of pollution and impact on
health, yesterday, the Associated Press also analyzed 11 major
rules targeted for repeal or relaxation by the Trump Administration.
According to the AP,
these rules – such as cutting coal pollution, expanding offshore
drilling, relaxing rules on fracking, mercury pollution and refinery
pollution, and repealing vehicle emission standards, amongst others,
“will come at a steep cost: more premature deaths and illnesses from
air pollution, a jump in climate-warming emissions and more severe
derailments of trains carrying explosive fuels.”
I think I more or less agree
again, and this is a recommended article.
The AP report
sparked outrage online yesterday after it was published. One Twitter
user asked: “Tell me Donald. Exactly how much is a human life being
But the AP’s
analysis is only as small fraction of what is at stake: According to a
blog on Scientific
American yesterday, it has been estimated that air pollution
rollbacks by the Trump administration will increase premature deaths in
the US by up to “40,000 people annually along with tens of thousands of
lost work and school days because of illness.”
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 (!!).