May 17, 2019

   Four Crisis Articles + May 17: Norway's National Day

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 17, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, May 17, 2019.

I bought a computer on May 9 with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS MATE and am for the coming months (at least) "between two computers".  I shall continue - for the time being - to write and upload my files from 16.04 LTS (that is: from the old computer, that I bought in 2012) because that is easier right now and the old computer still works (and may continue to work for another two years or more, although I do not know that).

Also, and in any case, I decided to write less on the crisis (I did review over 10,000 files since 2013), in part because it makes no difference and in part because I am 69.

But I'll continue Nederlog. At present this is in a midway position between the old style (five reviews each day) and some new style, that I do not know yet, and that for the time being I fix on three or four reviews each day (but that may change and probably will).

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 three 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

A. Selections from May 17, 2019:

The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
1. Trump Tells Pentagon Chief He Does Not Want War With

2. “Inside Syria’s Secret Prisons”

3. John Bolton Is the World's Worst Nightmare
4. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Plan to Radically Reform
3. Other Files from May 17, 2019:
5. May 17: Norway's National Day

1. Trump Tells Pentagon Chief He Does Not Want War With Iran

This article is by Mark Landler, Maggie Haberman and Eric Schmitt on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

President Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions.

Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, sent a message to his hawkish aides that he does not want the intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict.

For now, an administration that had appeared to be girding for conflict seems more determined to find a diplomatic off-ramp.

I say, which I do because I don't know whether to believe this (for this is from Trump, who lied at least 10,000 times, and in The New York Times, which also does not have a high reputation for honesty and rationality, at least in my eyes).

Anyway, here is some more:

Asked on Thursday whether the United States was going to war with Iran, Mr. Trump replied, “I hope not.”

The developments cast into sharp relief a president who is instinctively wary of military adventures and a cadre of advisers — led by the national security adviser, John R. Bolton — who have taken an uncompromising line toward Iran. The internal tensions have prompted fears that the Trump administration is spoiling for a fight, even if the commander in chief may not be.

Well... I have the same reaction to this as I had to the previous quoted bit.

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

Mr. Bolton’s independence has rankled the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and has even prompted rumors that his job might be in jeopardy — something the White House denies.

But Mr. Trump has poked fun at Mr. Bolton’s reputation for hawkishness, joking in meetings with him. “If it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now,” one of the senior officials recalled Mr. Trump as saying.

Mr. Trump is also impatient with another of Mr. Bolton’s campaigns: the effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. After the opposition’s failed attempt to peel away key Maduro allies and turn the Venezuelan military against him, Mr. Maduro appears harder to dislodge than ever.

And again I have the same reaction. And here is more on John Bolton.

2. “Inside Syria’s Secret Prisons”

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

A shocking exposé by the New York Times looks at how Bashar al-Assad’s government has jailed and tortured tens of thousands of Syrians since the uprising began in 2011. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, nearly 128,000 people have disappeared. They are presumed to be either dead or still in custody. The group estimates almost 14,000 individuals have died under torture. The detentions are continuing even as the fighting winds down. More than 5,600 Syrians were reportedly arbitrarily detained last year in a 25 percent jump from the previous year. While the Syrian government has denied running a secret torture and detention program, more evidence — including internal Syrian government documents — has emerged showing the extent of the torture program. A United Nations panel has said the conditions in the prison —including the paucity of toilet facilities, rampant illness, minimal and rotten food, and the absence of medical treatment — are tantamount to “extermination.” We speak with the report’s author Anne Barnard. She’s a reporter at The New York Times and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

I say, for this sounds pretty horrible to me. Here is some more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: While the Syrian government has denied running a secret torture and detention program, more evidence, including internal Syrian government documents, has emerged showing the extent of the torture program. Over the past seven years, The New York Times has been documenting what takes place inside the secret prisons. The accounts are harrowing. The Times report includes graphic descriptions of torture, sexual violence and murder. One former woman inmate, Mariam Khlief, told The New York Times she and six other women were tortured and repeatedly raped in a basement cell, where “blood from violent rapes stained the floor.” Survivors also reported guards forced detainees to eat excrement.

I say again, for the same reasons as above.

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

ANNE BARNARD: Unfortunately, nobody knows the exact number because the government keeps all of this behind closed doors and doesn’t release any information to the families of most of the people who are taken. But according to the Syrian Network of Human Rights, they have counted–not estimated, but counted—128,000 people who have been reported by their families or by witnesses to be taken by the security forces and not emerged from the prisons. Eighty-one thousand of those people, their families have not had any word from them whatsoever. So this is a sprawling system. Human rights groups estimate that the total number of Syrians who have passed through it could be in the hundreds of thousands.

Yes and this is a strongly recommended article in which there is considerably more than I quoted.

3. John Bolton Is the World's Worst Nightmare

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

President Donald Trump campaigned as an isolationist, criticizing foreign military entanglements. As far back as 2013, he tweeted, “Can you believe that the Afghan war is our ‘longest war’ ever -bring our troops home, rebuild the U.S., make America great again.” He has made the point repeatedly as president. In an April 2018 press conference, discussing Syria, Trump said: “I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation. We will have, as of three months ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 17 years. We get nothing — nothing out of it, nothing.”

Despite his rhetoric, Trump’s every move in the Middle East now seems committed to conflict and potentially to war with Iran. John Bolton is clearly at the vanguard, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backing him up.

Yes, indeed - but I do not trust a 10,000-fold liar like Donald Trump while I think both Bolton and Pompeo are pretty crazy. I put it that way because I do not know sufficiently much about either to judge their psychology (as a psychologist), but that is what I think. For more, see the last two links.

Here is some more:

Citing at least half a dozen unnamed Trump administration officials, The New York Times reported this week that the Pentagon has submitted plans to ship 120,000 U.S. troops to the region in response to Iranian threats. While he denied the report, Trump declared nevertheless: “Now would I do that? Absolutely. But I have not planned for that. If we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”

Well... this is, at least for me, also totally unclear. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Bolton has not hidden his desire to effect regime change in Iran, in Venezuela, in Cuba and beyond. He beats the drums of war, but as a young Yale University graduate in 1970 with a draft number that likely would have landed him in Vietnam, he quickly joined the Maryland National Guard to avoid deployment. He wrote in his Yale 25th anniversary yearbook, “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy.”

Now, whispering into the ear of Trump, who received five draft deferments during Vietnam, including one in the spring of 1968 for “bone spurs,” John Bolton, along with Trump, is willing to send 120,000 or more U.S. troops into war.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

4. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Plan to Radically Reform Pentagon

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. This is from near its start:

In a new essay posted to Medium titled “It’s Time to Reduce Corporate Influence at the Pentagon,” Warren presents a four-point plan that includes: prohibiting “giant” contractors from hiring senior officials at the Department of Defense, thereby “[slamming] shut the revolving door” between the two; banning Defense officials from owning or trading related stocks; limiting if not outright precluding national security officials from accepting jobs with foreign governments; and exposing the lobbying done on behalf of companies like Lockheed Martin, which received more than $35 billion in defense contracts in 2017.

I say, which I do because I did not know this, and this sounds very good. Then again, it is unlikely to be accepted in the present Senate. But here are some of Warren's reasons:

“It’s past time to cut our bloated defense budget,” she writes. “Defense contractor influence is a big part of how we ended up with a Pentagon budget that will cost more this year than Ronald Reagan spent at the height of the Cold War. That’s more than the federal government spends on education, medical research, border security, housing, the FBI, disaster relief, the State Department, foreign aid — everything else in the discretionary budget put together.

Yes indeed - and note the "put together". This suggests strongly that the USA is a warring state, first and foremost, as in deed it is.

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

Read Warren’s essay in its entirety at Medium.

I quoted this because the article in Medium is quite good. And this is a recommended article.

5. May 17: Norway's National Day

This bit is mostly here to please myself and to remind me that I made one of the major mistakes in my life when I left Norway in August of 1977, meanwhile over 40 years ago (and on January 1, 1979 I fell ill with M.E., which I am at long last allowed to say, after my ex and I have had it for over 40 years, that it is a serious chronic disease).

Anyway - here is the Norwegian flag:

And here is some information about Norway for those interested.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 3 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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