May 19, 2019

   Four Crisis Articles

“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 19, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 19, 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).

Well, here is a change I made yesterday (May 17):

I did not like 18.04 LTS mostly because quite a few files I have been editing for 20+ years can't be installed any more on that (for incomprehensible reasons also) so I had 18.04 deinstalled and got 16.04 LTS reinstalled on the new computer - but that too is different from the 16.04 LTS on the old computer...

More later.

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 19, 2019:

The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
1. The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the
     Doomsday Machine

2. France Takes Unprecedented Action Against Reporters

3. Iran and the Coalition of the Weird
4. Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines and Food and
     Keeping Consumers in the Dark

1. The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine

This article is by Daniel Ellsberg on Common Dreams and originally on the Tellus Institute. It starts with the following introductionl:

Editor's Note: This interview was initially published by the Tellus Institute in April of 2019.

The growth of the military-industrial complex poses an existential threat to humanity. Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and Vietnam War whistleblower discusses with Tellus Senior Fellow Allen White the continuing existential threat posed by the military-industrial complex—and what needs to be done about it.

Yes indeed. As to "the military-industrial complex" see the link and similarly for "Daniel Ellsberg". I like and admire Ellsberg. What follows are all quotes by him.

Here is the first bit:

After graduating from Harvard with an economics degree and completing service in the U.S. Marines, I worked as a military analyst at the RAND Corporation. In 1961, in that role, I went to Vietnam as part of a Department of Defense task force and saw that our prospects there were extremely dim. It was clear to me that military intervention was a losing proposition.

Three years later, I moved from RAND to the Department of Defense. On my first day, I was assigned to a team tasked with devising a response to the alleged attack on the U.S. naval warship USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin by the North Vietnamese. This completely fabricated incident became the excuse for bombing North Vietnam, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had wanted to do for some months.

That night, I saw President Lyndon Johnson and my boss, Secretary McNamara, knowingly lie to the public that North Vietnam had without provocation attacked the U.S. ship. In fact, the U.S. had covertly attacked North Vietnam the night before and on previous nights. Johnson and McNamara’s claim that the U.S. did not seek to widen the war was the exact opposite of reality. In short, the Gulf of Tonkin crisis was based on lies.

Yes indeed. Incidentally, here is some more on the Gulf of Tonkin crisis on Wikipedia. Note that this happened in fact 55 years ago, and it is still being lied about by the U.S. government. I trust Ellsberg.

Here is some more:

Today, similar revelations do not occasion equal shock because in the current administration in Washington, lying is routine rather than exceptional. Whether we are headed for a turning point toward bringing liars to justice will become clear when the investigations of President Donald Trump’s administration are concluded.

Yes indeed, though I am not optimistic.

Here is more from Ellsberg, from the early 1960ies (during Kennedy's presidency) on the estimates of the victims of a nuclear war around 1963:

Within a week, I held in my hand a top secret, eyes-only-for- the-president document with an estimate of 325 million fatalities in the first six months. A week later, a second communication added an estimated 100 million deaths in Eastern Europe and another 100 million in our allied nations of Western Europe, depending upon the wind patterns in the aftermath of the strike. Additional deaths in Japan, India, Afghanistan, and other countries brought the total to 600 million.

That killings of this magnitude—100 times the toll of Jewish victims of the Holocaust—were willingly contemplated by our military transcended prevailing notions of crimes against humanity. We had no words—indeed, there are no words—for such devastation. These data confronted me with not only the question of whom I was working with and for, but also the fundamental question of how such human depravity was possible.

I say: Yes indeed. Then again, I realize Daniel Ellsberg is not an ordinary man.

Also, if there is to be a nuclear war in 2019 or later, there will - very probably - be many more victims than in the early 1960ies, because there are very many more nuclear weapons, that also are a lot stronger.

Here is some more on what happened briefly after the Second World War:

In the eyes of the government—and industry lobbyists—the only solution was a large peacetime (Cold War) Air Force with wartime-level sales to keep the industry afloat.

Thus emerged the military-industrial complex. Mobilization to confront a Hitler-like external enemy—a role filled by the Soviet Union—was viewed as indispensable to national security. Government military planning followed, essentially socialism for the whole armaments industry, including but not limited to aircraft production. With the benefit of hindsight, I now see the Cold War as, in part, a marketing campaign for the continual, massive subsidies to the aerospace industry.
I think Ellsberg is probably correct. Here is some more:

And here’s where the climate-nuclear nexus comes into play again. We cannot afford the wasteful and dangerous development of new nuclear weapons that “modernize” the Doomsday Machine at the same time that we need to apply vast sums to reduce the threat of climate disruption. In the face of imminent climate catastrophe, the $700-plus-billion military budget is both untenable and irresponsible. We must convert the military economy to a climate economy. We cannot have both. To do so, we must recognize that the risks posed by the military-industrial complex far exceed those posed by Russia.

I completely agree with Ellsberg, but I fear that the opposite of what he and I want is by far the most probable: Yet more money for "the military economy" coupled to a flat denial that there is any climate catastrophy going on, which is in fact also Trump's response.

Here is the ending of this article:

My experience with the Pentagon Papers showed that an act of truth-telling, of exposing the realities about which the public had been misled, can indeed help end an unnecessary, deadly conflict. This example is a lesson applicable to both the nuclear and climate crises we face. When everything is at stake, it is worth risking one’s life or sacrificing one’s freedom in order to help bring about radical change.

Yes I agree. Then again, Ellsberg was one of the very few - in over 50 years - who had the courage and the brains and the ethical values to protest as he did. And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. France Takes Unprecedented Action Against Reporters

This article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Journalists in France are facing potential jail sentences in an unprecedented case over their handling of secret documents detailing the country’s involvement in the Yemen conflict.

Earlier this week, a reporter from Radio France and the co-founders of Paris-based investigative news organization Disclose were called in for questioning at the offices of the General Directorate for Internal Security, known as the DGSI. The agency is tasked with fighting terrorism, espionage, and other domestic threats, similar in function to the FBI in the United States.

The two news organizations published stories in April — together with The Intercept, Mediapart, ARTE Info, and Konbini News — that revealed the vast amount of French, British, and American military equipment sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and subsequently used by those nations to wage war in Yemen.

The stories — based on a secret document authored by France’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and obtained by the journalists at Disclose — highlighted that officials at the top of the French government had seemingly lied to the public about the role of French weapons in the war. They demonstrated the extent of Western nations’ complicity in the devastating conflict, which has killed or injured more than 17,900 civilians and triggered a famine that has taken the lives of an estimated 85,000 children.

The French government did not want the document to be made public, and officials were furious when its release made headlines around the world.

I know this is a fairly long introduction (in Nederlog), but I picked this article because both the French presisent Macron and the French military are doing the same sort of things as president Trump and the American military are doing.

Here is some more:

In rooms located four floors below ground level inside the heavily fortified, beige-colored DGSI building on Rue de Villiers, for an hour the journalists were asked about their work, their sources, and their posts on Facebook and Twitter. They declined to answer questions, citing their right to silence, and instead presented a statement about their journalism and their belief that publishing the document had served the public interest.

Well... I agree with the journalists, but have to add that unless they were all extremely careful with what they wrote on the internet, the French counterpart to the American NSA can probably find everything or most things they did write on the internet.

Besides, there is also this parallel to the USA:

But matters of state security are not included in the Press Law as a “press offense,” and the DGSI appears to have seized on that loophole to accuse the Disclose and Radio France journalists of “compromising the secrecy of national defense” from the moment the classified document came into their possession. Under a 2009 French law that prohibits “attacks on national defense secrets,” a person commits a crime if they handle a classified document without authorization. There are no exceptions to this law for journalists, and there is no public interest defense.

To me this seems like terrorist bullshit by the French government, but you should also notice that the French government applies its own laws, that seem to be much like the American laws, to French journalists, who run a considerable risk:

(..) [T]he government appears to be pushing for a harsh punishment. Last week, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly suggested in a public statement that Disclose had violated “all the rules and laws of our country,” adding: “When you disclose classified documents, you are exposed to penalties.”

And Florence Parley sounds like Pompeo. This is a strongly recommended article. 
3. Iran and the Coalition of the Weird

This article is by Mike Lofgren on Common Dreams.

Apparently, the current war scare with Iran is mainly the work of Trump’s chickenhawk advisers like John Bolton (who avoided Vietnam for the highly principled reason that he had no desire to die), and the president, for once, is the moderating force trying to rein them in (I never thought I would write that last clause). How is this affair likely to develop?

Unfortunately, we have a template for U.S. policy in the Middle East that goes back half a century. Trump’s newfound moderation will likely last as long as it takes for Benjamin Netanyahu, or Sheldon Adelson, or maybe Mohammed bin Salman, to phone the White House.
I fear this is correct. Here is some more:

It is almost superfluous to say that igniting a war with Iran will be a colossal catastrophe, given that catastrophe has been the invariable outcome of our past misadventures in that region. Demographically, topographically, and militarily, Iraq was a pushover compared to what Iran would be, yet our “victory” in that country was the very definition of Pyrrhic. But any intelligent person knows that.

Yes, I agree - but how many intelligent persons are there? Surely that must be a minority.

Next, Lofgren discusses the following groups of supporterts of Trump, of which I will only copy the titles:

Zionist Jewish groups. (..)
Zionist Christians. (..)
Nazis, Klansmen, alt-righters, neo-reactionaries, and whatnot. (..)
Joe Lunchbucket. Joe is your average working-class to middle-class Republican male. (..)

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

We can only hope that Trump’s feral sense of self-preservation causes him to realize that attacking Iran would not only be a grade one disaster in the Middle East, it could easily bust up his jerry-built electoral coalition in spectacular (and even violent) fashion. While the dismantlement of the Republican Party is something to be wished for, the accompanying fallout on our society could be horrifying.

Yes, though I fear Trump is trying to get a war with Iran, if only to further his own re-election as president. And this is a recommended article.

4. Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines and Food and Keeping Consumers in the Dark

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Conservatives favor consumer choice. Consumer information is vital to make that choice meaningful. Corporatists, masquerading as conservatives, do not care about informed consumer choice. Donald Trump is a corporatist, as are the vast majority of Republicans in his Cabinet and in Congress. Corporatists do not even want you to know where products are made. Today, producers and retail sellers do not have to tell you the “country of origin” for meat and pork products.

Yes indeed. Next, there is this:

Even worse, we cannot tell where our drugs are being manufactured. Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine thinks American patients are endangered by imported medicines. Gibson is about to testify before Congress on her very disturbing findings regarding importation of medicines from China.

Well... I am taking pills (to sleep and because of my eyes) since a long time, but something similar happened in The Netherlands:

Drugs for the Dutch are now made in China and - as the apothecary told me about half a year ago, when I could not get my sleeping pills - the Dutch also are a tiny market for the Chinese, which means (I think) that they will not care a lot for the Dutch demands for medicines.

Next, there is this about a (former) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector, Peter Baker:

Baker was a bold and honest auditor. He refused to announce lab inspections in advance, as is FDA’s lackadaisical practice. From 2012 to 2018, Baker discovered “fraud or deceptive practices in almost four-fifths of the drug plants he inspected” in India and China. Indian and Chinese manufacturers engaged in data manipulation that could prove deadly.

I take it Baker was right and I fear the same or worse (since the Dutch are such a tiny market for the Chinese) for Holland.

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

Another chilling statistic from Eban is that “Nearly forty percent of all our generic drugs are made in India. Eighty percent of active ingredients for both our brand and generic drugs come from abroad, the majority from India and China… America makes almost none of its own antibiotics anymore” (My emphasis). The outsourcing of the production of drugs to foreign countries presents vast challenges for health and safety regulators.

To say the least indeed. And I fear that for the tiny market formed by the Dutch it is too late already. This is a strongly recommended article.

[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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