in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from February 12, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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 February 12, 2019:
1. Peter Jackson’s Cartoon War
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. Bezos and Global Surveillance
3. State Violence and Homophobia in Brazil
4. Scientists Issue Dire Warning About Collapsing Insect
5. Trump Wants Socialism for the Rich, Harsh Capitalism for
Jackson’s Cartoon War
is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Peter Jackson’s World War I film, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” which
miraculously transforms grainy, choppy black-and-white archival footage
from the war into a modern 3D color extravaganza, begins, he bombards
us with the clichés used to ennoble war. Veterans, over background
music, say things like “I wouldn’t have missed it,” “I would go through
it all over again because I enjoyed the service life” and “It made me a
man.” It must have taken some effort after the war to find the tiny
minority of veterans willing to utter this rubbish. Military life is a
form of servitude, prolonged exposure to combat leaves you broken,
scarred for life by trauma and often so numb you have difficulty
connecting with others, and the last thing war does is make you a man.
Yes indeed: Of
course "Military life
is a form of servitude,
prolonged exposure to combat leaves you broken, scarred for life by
trauma and often so numb you have difficulty connecting with others,
and the last thing war does is make you a man."
Also, on a personal
note I like to add that I escaped all military service,
because I was treated exceptionally well by the military on the day it
was judged whether I was fit to go into the military: I was judged not
to be fit, which was medical nonsense. This may have
had to do with the
fact that my father had spent more than 3 years and 9 months as a
convict in four German concentration camps for resisting the Nazis,
where my grandfather was killed for the same "crimes" as my father, or
perhaps that I scored very high on the IQ tests, but in fact I do not
know. But in any case, I still am glad that I missed all
Here is more on
The British Imperial War
Museum, which was behind the Jackson film, had no interest in
portraying the dark reality of war. War may be savage, brutal and hard,
but it is also, according to the myth, ennobling, heroic and selfless.
You can believe this drivel only if you have never been in combat,
which is what allows Jackson to modernize a cartoon version of war.
Yes, I think that is correct.
It also is problematic, because most people who see these
have not been in combat - which means that they can be lied
and believe the lies.
Here is some more:
Our own generals and
politicians, who nearly two decades ago launched the greatest strategic
blunder in American history and have wasted nearly $6 trillion on
conflicts in the Middle East that we cannot win, are no less
egotistical and incompetent. The images of our wars are as carefully
controlled and censored as the images from World War I. While the
futility and human carnage of our current conflicts are rarely
acknowledged in public, one might hope that we could confront the
suicidal idiocy of World War I a century later.
Yes, I do believe with
Hedges that the USA's "own
generals and politicians
(..) are no less
egotistical and incompetent" than the generals and politicians who led
WW I. Then again, it is true that the numbers killed are - so
least - much less than the numbers killed in WW I.
Here is more on World War
(and the numbers given are only about the 1917 campaign):
Leon Wolff, in his book “In
Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign,” writes of World War I:
It had meant nothing,
solved nothing, and proved nothing; and in so doing had killed
8,538,315 men and variously wounded 21,219,452. Of 7,750,919 others
taken prisoner or missing, well over a million were later presumed
dead; thus the total deaths (not counting civilians) approach ten
million. The moral and mental defects of the leaders of the human race
had been demonstrated with some exactitude. One of them (Woodrow
Wilson) later admitted that the war had been fought for business
interests; another (David Lloyd George) had told a newspaperman: ‘If
people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course
they don’t—and can’t know. The correspondents don’t write and the
censorship wouldn’t pass the truth.’
Quite so - and "ten
killed is about the total population of Holland when I was born (in
Here is more - and this bit
is mainly about Jackson's propaganda:
There is no mention in
film of the colossal stupidity of the British general staff that sent
hundreds of thousands of working-class Englishmen—they are seen
grinning into the camera with their decayed teeth—in wave after wave,
week after week, month after month, into the mouths of German machine
guns to be killed or wounded. There is no serious exploration of the
iron censorship that hid the realities of the war from the public and
saw the press become a shill for warmongers. There is no investigation
into how the war was used by the state, as it is today, as an excuse to
eradicate civil liberties. There is no look at the immense wealth made
by the arms manufacturers and contractors or how the war plunged
Britain deep into debt with war-related costs totaling 70 percent of
the gross national product.
Yes indeed - I suppose all
the above is correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this
Honestly examining past
gives us the ability to understand current wars. But this is a
herculean struggle. The public is fed, and yearns for, the myth. It is
empowering and ennobling. It celebrates supposed national virtues and
military prowess. It allows an alienated population to feel part of a
national collective engaged in a noble crusade. The celebration of the
destructive force of our weaponry makes us feel personally empowered.
All wars, past and present, are effectively shrouded in this myth.
Those who decried the waste and carnage, such as Keir Hardie, the head
of the Independent Labour Party, were jeered in the streets. Adam
Hochschild’s book “To End All
Wars” details the struggle by pacifists and a handful of
journalists and dissidents during the war to make the truth known and
who were mocked, silenced and often jailed.
Yes, I think that is all true
and this is a strongly recommended article.
2. Bezos and Global Surveillance
This article is by Amy Goodman
on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following
Jeff Bezos is publicly accusing the owner of the National Enquirer of
“extortion and blackmail,” weeks after the paper revealed details about
his extramarital affair. Bezos had recently hired a private
investigator to determine how the tabloid newspaper obtained private
text messages between him and his lover, and whether the paper’s
actions were politically motivated. The National Enquirer’s parent
company, American Media, Inc., responded to Bezos’s investigation by
threatening to publish revealing photos of Bezos if he did not agree to
publicly state that the Enquirer’s coverage was not politically
motivated or influenced by political forces. We speak with Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald about the dispute and Amazon’s
role in building the surveillance state.
Yes, I think the above
is all true, judging this by more that I have read about this affair.
And I also want to say immediately that I think that American Media
Inc. did respond in terms of blackmail, but it is also true that I
am less interested in American
Media Inc. and blackmail than I am in Bezos.
Here is some more:
GREENWALD: (...) [A]s part
of the Snowden reporting in 2014, we were able to report, with The
Huffington Post, that one of the programs of the NSA is to do exactly this, is to collect the
browsing histories and sex chats and porn site visits of people,
typically Muslims that the NSA regards as,
quote, “radicalizers” —not terrorists, not people plotting terrorist
plots, just people who the NSA or the U.S.
government believes disseminates radical messages—and collects their
porn site visits and their sex chats in order to leak them, ruin their
reputation, destroy their ability to speak out. This is an actual NSA program.
Yes, I think this is all
true. It also seems this has been going on for
more than ten years,
while I have no idea about how many of these "radicalizers"
shut up in the last ten years by the NSA. (As an aside: I neither
nor visited porn sites nor did I ever engage in sex chats, but my
reasons are that I know for a long time that everybody is being
Here is more:
GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean,
the old line from—yeah, the old line from George Carlin, I think,
really fits well here, which is, there’s a really big, powerful club,
and you’re not in it. And that’s one of the odd parts of this story, is
that, ordinarily, we would sympathize with the person who was being
threatened with exposure of their private life if they didn’t stop
making claims about a powerful media outlet, and yet, in this case, the
person who is the, quote-unquote, “victim” is not just the world’s
richest person, who has gotten extremely rich by virtue of exploiting
labor in ways that are wholly horrific and on all different aspects,
but also somebody who’s used these tactics himself in the past, and
then, most significantly of all, as you referred to earlier, is
somebody whose company has become one of the most valuable in the world
by virtue of working hand in hand with the U.S. government and with
police departments throughout the West in constructing exactly the kind
of sprawling, invasive surveillance state that he believes himself now
to be a victim of.
Well... I agree with
Greenwald (in my own words) that Bezos is a despicable individual, but
I also think that (in a democracy) all persons should have the same
rights and legal duties, and this applies as well to persons I consider
Here is more:
GREENWALD: So, obviously,
as a result of the Snowden reporting, a lot of attention was devoted to
the sprawling, invasive surveillance activities of government agencies,
like the NSA in the U.S. and the GCHQ in the U.K. and their partners in Australia,
New Zealand and Canada. And less attention has been paid, or at least
was paid, as part of that story, to the private corporations, the
Silicon Valley giants, who play a crucial role in partnering with these
government agencies to construct that surveillance state.
And some attention has been
devoted in recent years to the role both Google and especially Facebook
are playing in creating a ubiquitous surveillance state, but much less
so for Amazon, which has done a really good job of branding itself in
this very kind of unthreatening and benign way as a deliverer of books
and other merchandise, when in fact one of the central components of
Amazon’s business, that has made it one of the most valuable companies
in the world, are extremely lucrative contracts with the CIA, with the Pentagon, with the Air Force, with
police departments all over the Western world, not just in the U.S., to
use technology to enhance the ability of governments and police forces
to engage in surveillance.
Yes, I think this is also all
And for me the kernel of
the above paragraphs is that, (i) next to (almost) each and every
country's "security organizations" (the spies of the country) there
are many tens of the richest corporations who also
try to get all or
virtually all information about anyone, and that (ii) the only
limit seems to be having lots of money, while (iii) the
between a country's "security
organization(s)" and the very rich corporations who do the same or very
similar things is that one can find out even
less from the very rich corporations than one can find
out about the "security
organization(s)", while besides (iv) the very rich
both help the "security
organizations" in many ways and act and collect to extend their own
powers and incomes.
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
This supports some of my remarks
under the previous quotation, and this is a strongly
GREENWALD: This is what’s
really frightening, Amy, is that Silicon Valley is producing companies,
and the billionaires who control them, whose wealth and power are
unprecedented. Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg and the people who
control Google have more power than almost every nation-state, if not
more power than all of them. And increasingly, they’re integrating into
these nation-states and performing the core functions, the most
threatening and dangerous functions of them, with almost no
transparency. And this is the frightening thing. So, if we have, for
example, NASA or the Air Force, we at least
have congressional oversight. We nominally have laws, like FOIA, that enable us to find out what they’re
doing. With Amazon and with Google and Facebook’s development of
artificial intelligence, it’s almost entirely opaque.
3. State Violence and
Homophobia in Brazil
This article is by Amy Goodman
on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following
I say, for while I did
know that Jean Wyllys fled Brazil, I did not know that David
the husband of Glenn Greenwald, replaced Wyllys in Brazil's Congress. I
also think this is very brave of both Miranda and Greenwald.
On Friday, an operation
Brazilian military police in Rio de Janeiro left at least 13 people
dead after a shootout in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Police say
they were there to investigate suspected drug traffickers but
encountered gunfire when they entered the area. Last month, Rio’s new
governor, Wilson Witzel, said that city security forces were authorized
to shoot to kill suspects. He also said Rio should have its own
Guantánamo Bay to house criminals, whom he labeled “terrorists.”
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has vowed to intensify the war
on drugs. While running for president, Bolsonaro said a “good criminal
is a dead criminal.” In other news from Brazil, Brazil’s first elected
openly gay federal lawmaker, Jean Wyllys, recently left his post and
fled Brazil, amid growing homophobic violence coinciding with the rise
of Bolsonaro. He was replaced in Brazil’s Congress by David Miranda, a
Rio city councilmember and husband of our guest, Glenn Greenwald.
Here is some more:
I fear this is all true.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
GREENWALD: So, this is
what everybody was afraid of when Bolsonaro won. He got elected based
on his promise to unleash the police and to authorize indiscriminate
violence in the favelas, where the poorest people in Brazil live,
largely black; to give the police immunity for when they engage in
indiscriminate slaughter. He’s talked about this as a war. He is using
the Duterte model in the Philippines of just going in and
indiscriminately killing poor people, killing drug dealers but also
innocent people. And the governor of Rio de Janeiro is, on some level,
even more extreme.
And this is probably the
first overt manifestation of that policy, where 13 people were killed. Folha,
the largest newspaper in Brazil, reported that at least several, if not
most, of the people killed were executed after they surrendered, which
means it was just summary execution. The police laughed and told the
frightened residents that the next time it will be 20 people who are
dead. So, this is just the beginning of what is certain to be a very
Well... I admire
and Miranda, but I also think that they seriously increased the
being murdered themselves, which I think in Greenwald's case would
great loss. And this is a strongly recommended article.
GOODMAN: How are you going
to protect yourselves and your children?
GREENWALD: You know, I
mean, obviously, we are aware of the fact that we’re both very—a very
visible gay couple. I have, as you know, a media outlet, The Intercept
Brasil, that has grown very, very rapidly, that has a very large
audience and that has been very critical of Bolsonaro. And in a country
where there’s a lot of hostility toward LGBTs, we, as an interracial,
visible gay couple, with two adopted children from the northeastern
part of the country, are obviously threats. And we’re aware of that.
We’re taking security precautions. But, you know, I look at Brazil as a
country that I love, that belongs to my husband and my children, and is
one that we intend to stay and fight for as well as we can.
Issue Dire Warning About Collapsing Insect Populations
is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts
I think this is all true -
which means that there are three major plagues threatening,
namely a nuclear war, climate change, and the dying of insects. And I
consider the last in a class by itself, because (i) the dying of
insects entails "catastrophic
consequences" for "the survival of mankind", and because (ii) their
dying seems mostly to be the
consequences of poisons that were very widely adopted and spread and
were and are meant to increase agricultural productivity.
The first global scientific
review of its kind reaches an ominous conclusion about the state of
nature warning that unless humanity drastically and urgently changes
its behavior the world's insects could be extinct within a century.
Presented in exclusive
reporting by the Guardian's environment editor Damian
Carrington, the findings of the new analysis, published
in the journal Biological Conservation, found that industrial
agricultural techniques—"particularly the heavy use of pesticides"—as
well as climate change and urbanization are the key drivers behind the
extinction-level decline of insect populations that could herald a
"catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems" if not addressed.
"If insect species losses
cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the
planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind," report co-author
Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told
Incidentally, as to the second point, there is Rachel Carson's
which was first published in 1962 and criticized the
of pesticides (especially DDT
in the 1960ies).
For more, see the graphic below. Here is more
on the insects:
Yes indeed - and I add
that, in my opinion, at least, a quarter less insects, which will
the case in a mere 10 years if nothing or little is done, will be
sufficient to materially lessen the supply of food for humans, and will
increase the hunger or the death of many.
Calling the current annual
global insect decline rate of 2.5 percent over the last three decades a
"shocking" number, Sánchez-Bayo characterized it as "very rapid" for
insects worldwide. If that continues, he warned: "In 10 years you will
have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you
will have none."
Isn't this a bit alarmist?
Anticipating that concern, Sánchez-Bayo said the language of the report
was intended "to really wake people up," but that's because the
findings are so worrying.
Not involved with the
study, Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK,
agreed. "It should be of huge concern to all of us," Goulson told the Guardian,
"for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the
large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle
nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we
humans cannot survive without insects."
Here is the last bit of text I quote from this article:
I agree with Parr. And because I think this is really important,
is a graphic from the article that shows the loss of insects over the
Doug Parr, the chief
scientist for Greenpeace U.K., responded to the reporting by saying
these are the climate-related developments that concern him most of all.
"I spend so many hours a
week concerned climate change," he said
in a tweet
linking to the story. "But
this is the stuff that worries me most. We don't know what we're doing,
not trying to stop it, [and] with big consequences we don't really
In case you
want an analogy: I think a fair one is to consider that 10%
insects is comparable to 10% less strong floors and walls in your
house. And this is a strongly recommended article.
5. Trump Wants Socialism
for the Rich, Harsh Capitalism for the Rest
is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Well... yes and no. I
mostly agree, but also like to point out that (i) the "socialism of the
rich" is nothing like real socialism; that (ii) socialism
itself is a
quite vague concept (for considerably more on this see my Crisis: On Socialism) and that besides (iii) capitalism
well is a vague concept that is variously explained.
“America will never be a
socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the
Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a
hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone
else is treated to harsh capitalism.
In the conservative mind,
socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty
much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks
last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into
massive bonuses for bank executives.
Here is some more:
I think that "socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism
for everyone else" depends
too much on the vague terms "socialism" and
Banks that are too big to
fail – courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout – enjoy a hidden subsidy
of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk
accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall
Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the
hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears.
Trump and his appointees at
the Federal Reserve are easing bank requirements put in place
after the bailout. They’ll make sure the biggest banks remain too
big to fail.
Trump is promoting
socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in
Here is some more:
Once again: In fact I do not
think that what Trump practices is "socialism for the rich": It is capitalism for the rich,
which includes as one of many facts that the rich protect the rich -
but that does not make these capitalists socialists in any
would give to the term "socialism".
When he was in business,
Trump perfected the art of using bankruptcy to shield himself from
the consequences of bad decisions – socialism for the rich at its
worst – while leaving employees twisting in the wind.
Now, all over America,
executives who run their companies into the ground are getting
gold-plated exit packages while their workers get pink slips.
Here is some more:
I think all of this is
correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Around 60 percent of
America’s wealth is now inherited. Many of today’s super rich have
never done a day’s work in their lives.
Trump’s response has been
to cut the estate tax to apply only to estates valued at over $22
million per couple. Mitch McConnell is now proposing that the
estate tax be repealed altogether.
What about the capitalist
principles that people earn what they’re worth in the market, and
that economic gains should go to those who deserve them?
America is on the cusp of
the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. As rich
boomers expire over the next three decades, an estimated $30
trillion will go to their children.
No, I think the above
is too confused, for it confuses "socialism for the rich", which
fact capitalism for the rich, with the rich helping the rich, which
is as little real socialism as is the case for poor
people helping poor
people under capitalism, with something that Reich considers may
called socialism, viz. "thicker
safety nets and (..) a bigger piece of the economic pie", which is not real socialism,
much closer to social democracy.
After a few generations of
this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a
few thousand non-working families.
To the conservative mind,
the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is
held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive.
Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are
promoting for the rich.
Meanwhile, most Americans
are subject to an increasingly harsh and arbitrary capitalism in
which they’re working harder but getting nowhere, and have less
security than ever.
They need thicker safety
nets and deserve a bigger piece of the economic pie. If you want
to call this socialism, fine. I call it fair.
I like Reich, but this article seems to me too confusing (and I
that Reich himself likes to save capitalism, or at least that is almost
the title of one of his recent books).
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 (!!).