in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from June 8, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I
am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017,
works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.
And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS
worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless
horror that I refuse to use, but
happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be
installed on 18.04), so I
present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two
more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.
So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the
style I developed in 2013.
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
four crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from June 8, 2019:
1. China Bans The Intercept, The Guardian
The items 1 - 4 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:
Americans Have Blood on Their Hands
3. Four Ways
to Expand the U.S. Supreme Court
4. 'Bolsonaro Is Setting the Whole Country on Fire'
Bans The Intercept, The Guardian and more
article is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title.
It starts as follows:
Yes, I agree to
all of the above. Also, I like to point out that I think that there still
are some relevant differences between authoritarian China and
elsewhere, especially the West, but these may be soon over
(for I think that the internet is by far the best and the most
dangerous approach to neofascism
there ever was).
The Chinese government
appears to have launched a major new internet crackdown, blocking the
country’s citizens from accessing The Intercept’s website and those of
at least seven other Western news organizations.
On Friday, people in China
began reporting that they could not access the websites of The
Intercept, The Guardian, the Washington Post, HuffPost, NBC News, the
Christian Science Monitor, the Toronto Star, and Breitbart News.
It is unclear exactly when
the censorship came into effect or the reasons for it. But Tuesday
marked the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and
Chinese authorities have reportedly increased levels of online
censorship to coincide with the event.
Charlie Smith, co-founder
of GreatFire.org, an organization that monitors Chinese government
internet censorship, said that the apparent crackdown on Western news
sites represented a significant new development and described it as a
“censorship Black Friday.”
“This frenzied activity
could indicate that the authorities are accelerating their push to
sever the link between Chinese citizens and any news source that falls
outside of the influence of The Party,” said Smith, referencing the
ruling Communist Party regime.
Here is more about Chinese censorship:
Yes indeed. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
For years, China has
blocked several Western news organizations after they have published
stories that reflect negatively on the government. The New York Times,
Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and Reuters have all previously
been censored, rendering their websites inaccessible in the country.
China operates an internet
censorship system known as the Great Firewall, which uses filtering
equipment to stop people in the country from accessing content
published on banned websites that are operated outside China’s borders.
It is possible to
circumvent the censorship using tools such as a virtual private
network, or VPN. However, use of technology that bypasses the Great
Firewall is banned — and people in the country who sell access to these
services have been jailed.
Yes. Once again, I
think that unless something radical happens in the coming 5 to 10
years, this will probably the situation in the West, because the
remaining paper press will be eliminated, and whatever is on
the internet can be controlled by either the NSA or else their
collaborators from Google, Facebook, Apple etc. And this is a strongly
Prior to the anniversary,
on June 4, Chinese internet users reported widespread censorship on
social media websites. On popular messaging services such as Weibo and
a streaming service run by the company YY Inc., users were prevented
from entering search terms such as “Tiananmen incident,” “candlelight
vigil,” “repression,” and “student movement.”
Americans Have Blood on Their Hands
article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Shortly after Truthdig columnist
Danny Sjursen left the Army, where he spent 18 years on active duty
and rose to the rank of major, he sat down with Editor in Chief Robert
Scheer for an interview about life after the military and a discussion
about the conclusions he drew throughout his military career. Sjursen,
who attended West Point and did several tours in the Middle East,
including Iraq and Afghanistan, opened up to Scheer about how leaving
the institution where he spent most of his adult life has allowed him
to finally be completely frank about his experiences, in his columns as
well as in his recent book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers,
Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.”
Yes, I think it is a good
idea to interview Danny Sjursen, even though I do not quote him much in
Here is some more:
you’re a father of two children; you’ve had an interesting life. And
you wrote a book about the surge in Iraq called “Ghost Riders of
Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” And it’s a
really terrific book that people can get, if they want to go online or
find some bookstore that has it. And what it really—you know, I was
going to start with something from the book, and you can help me here.
It was a quote from Graham Greene: “Innocence is a kind of insanity.”
Graham Greene, the great writer, great novelist. And he wrote “The
Quiet American,” which is about innocence as a form of [insanity], how
we got involved in Vietnam. And your book is really an unmasking of the
conceit of innocence. Somehow Americans go off to war, they’re always
intending to do good, they’re always going to make it a better world.
And generally, they screw it up horribly, with very few rare
exceptions. And that’s really the thesis here, isn’t it? And so why
don’t you give us that overall view. And are you bolder in that view
now that you’re not active duty, that you’re out of the military for
the first time in 18 years? How does it feel?
feels good. I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty,
but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a
degree of fear and harassment, you know, and it’s very
I think most of the above is
correct, although I am a bit doubtful about ¨Innocence is a kind of insanity¨, though probably not for the
reasons most people think, but because I know, as a psychologist, that half
of any large unsorted human population has an IQ of 100 maximally,
simply because the tests have been set up that way, while I much
doubt you can impose the same criterions on those with IQs from 75 to
100 as you can imposte on those with IQs from 125 to 150.
Then again, I am
aware that this is probably problematic with many, because the majority
of people (who are not very intelligent, as pointed out) is strongly
for equality of all.
I leave this theme and return
to the interview:
it’s two tracks; it’s my own innocence as someone who was, you know,
naive enough to believe not only that the Iraq War might be valuable
and necessary, but also that the military was just ultimately a force
for good in the world. But the other innocence is a collective,
national innocence. Only such a collective, national innocence that
borders on insanity, as the quote says, could have allowed us to invade
Iraq. Probably the catastrophic blunder of the 21st century, if not
even larger than that. And I don’t even think we understand the scale
of what a disaster we’ve created, because the aftershocks are–they’re
sometimes worse than the initial earthquake. And we haven’t seen the
last of it. So the book is an unmasking of my own innocence, which very
quickly was rattled.
I mostly agree
with the above, although I think myself that ¨national innocence¨
is not a very useful concept to analyze a nation of over 300 million.
Besides, while I agree with Sjursen that the war on Iraq was crazy and
a disaster, I also refer to three facts (as I
think they are):
First, in 2001 very
few Americans knew much about Iraq; second, in 2001 there was an
attack on the USA (that afterward was much abused by those interested
in war); and third, since 1991 (the Gulf War) American wars have been mostly
secret, with just a few ¨embedded¨ ¨journalists¨.
Given these three facts,
it was rather easy to manipulate the majority of the American
population, that as I said above is on average also not intelligent nor
Here is more from the
really interesting thing here is who controls history, who controls
knowledge, who controls truth and true news? And fake news is really,
in a way, the norm, it seems to me, if we talk about Vietnam, we talk
about Iraq, and so forth. And without the whistleblowers, we don’t even
get a crack—a crack there where the light can come through. But you
were on the ground, and when you talk about it being—I mean, look,
after all, we had supposedly gone to Iraq to find weapons of mass
destruction; that was a lie. And it was a lie that Saddam Hussein had
anything to do with 9/11; he didn’t. You know, and another lie is that
somehow this was a backward country with no redeeming virtue–well, we
managed to make it a far more unlivable, miserable country than it had
Quite so. Here is some
are precious few whistleblowers about military issues, as you
mentioned. And that is a shame, because what Julian Assange, WikiLeaks,
and Chelsea Manning should be is a splash of cold water, a bucket of
cold water, on the face of the collective American people. And yet it’s
not, for the most part. We’re willing to accept what our military does
in our name. We’re willing to accept that the United States has a
system where the president is essentially a dictator in foreign policy.
You’re right that it’s the only institution where we do not, you know,
expect whistleblowers to provide that check, that truth that you
mentioned. And it’s very, very disturbing.
And it may take a long time before the empire collapses, but in the
interim, we are going to act poorly. And as long as we have an
all-volunteer force, as long as a, you know, a select half of a
percent—the other 1%, as I like to call them. As long as we give it out
to a military caste, and it doesn’t Main Street, especially in the
wealthy communities, then this will continue indefinitely, and America
will continue to behave badly, as the empires often historically do.
Yes, I agree this is
either true or probable. Here is the last bit that I quote from this
Quite so, and this
is a strongly recommended article in which there is a lot more
than I quoted.
DS: You know, we
have 800 military bases in 80 countries; on any given day, we are
bombing at least seven countries, some days more, if there’s something
going on in Africa. We have a defense budget as large as the next seven
countries’ combined. We have, you know, the majority of the world’s
aircraft carriers, 10 times more than the Russians and the Chinese. We
have divided the planet into regional commands—CENTCOM, Northcom,
Southcom—where our four-star generals in charge of these commands are
essentially Roman proconsuls, right? Ruling over—and much more powerful
than our diplomats. Our diplomats are not taken seriously anymore; it’s
the military that gets the business done. And you know, finally, we are
unique. We are exceptional. Exceptional in the sense that we are the
most imperial of all the places on the planet. Because there are 77
total foreign bases split between all the other 200 countries of the
world, and we have some 800.
Ways to Expand the U.S. Supreme Court
article is by Thomas Neuburger on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
In the same way that
like Libya are "failed states," the U.S. Supreme Court is a failed
institution. Always partisan, either mainly or partly, its
authority—meaning the people's acceptance of the validity of its
rulings—rests on a kind of momentum, a belief that despite its long
history of missteps (Dred
Scott and Plessy v.
Ferguson, to name just two) the Court can be trusted, in time,
That the Supreme Court was failing its constitutional role had been
clear to close observers since the 1976 decision in Buckley v.
Valeo, which ruled that
election spending was "speech." Yet despite the numerous bad
decisions that followed, the momentum of belief—and the illusion
that Anthony Kennedy represented a "swing vote" on an otherwise
ideologically balanced bench—has kept most Americans, if not blind,
then unnoticing of the modern Court's deadly defects.
The first real crack in the dam of faith occurred with the Bush v.
Gore decision, in which a nakedly partisan majority installed a
losing presidential candidate in the Oval Office simply because it
could, using only its authority, and not the law, as justification.
Later decisions like Citizens United put proof to many
people's suspicions that the Court was an operative in a war for
political control and no longer a place where law, even bad law, had a
Yes indeed - I fundamentally
agree. Here is more:
Expanding the Supreme
has often been offered as an answer, but the last attempted
expansion—FDR's so-called court-packing scheme—still leaves a bad taste
in the mouths of most Democratic politicians (even though it worked;
switch in time that saved nine").
Yet the composition of the Supreme Court has changed
many times throughout our history, and the number of judges was
deliberately and explicitly left to Congress, an obvious example of a
constitutional check against the over-exercise of judicial power.
Clearly, congressional action can address the problem.
Yes, I agree. Here is
In an excellent
article published in the Harvard Law and Policy Review,
Kurt Walters offers not just one, but four ways that Congress could
restructure the Court. Each deserves attention and consideration:
first and most straightforward approach to expanding the Court is
adding two, four, or six new justices to the Court.
The second option is to reconstitute
the Supreme Court in the image of a federal court of appeals. This
course of action would increase the number of justices to fifteen or a
similar number. Panels of justices would be drawn from this larger
group, with an option of en banc review. This plan would not only
dislodge the Court's current reactionary majority, but the panel format
also would allow a greater number of cases to be heard.
Third is the
Lottery, a more aggressive version of the panel strategy. Daniel Epps
and Ganesh Sitaraman have outlined this proposal in a forthcoming
Yale Law Journal piece. All federal appellate court judges, roughly
180 in total, would become associate justices on the Supreme Court.
Panels of nine justices would be randomly selected from this pool.
Fourth and finally is Epps
and Sitaraman's idea for a
"Balanced Bench." This proposal aims
to counteract the effects of partisanship on the Court by explicitly
recognizing and institutionalizing partisanship presence.
I agree that this
quite interesting, and here is Neuburger´s opinion on these
Yes, I agree and this is
a strongly recommended article.
I'm partial to the second
and third alternatives myself, with the added benefit that under the
third proposal,"decisions on whether to grant certiorari on a
given case would be made by panel members who would not know the
ideological makeup of the panel that would hear the case." Implementing
a proposal like that would certainly tip the scales of justice toward
justice and away from partisan manipulation.
Is Setting the Whole Country on Fire'
article is by Jens Glüsing on Spiegel International. It starts as
I say, but Spiegel did this
well, I think. Here is some more:
Seven months ago, DER
SPIEGEL correspondent Jens Glüsing asked the Brazilian Supreme Court
for permission to conduct an interview with the country's former
president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has been in prison for over a
year. Until April, all interview requests had been rejected, but
permission was then unexpectedly granted. Glüsing was allowed to speak
to Lula for 60 minutes in a windowless conference room at police
headquarters in the city of Curitiba in southern Brazil. Two armed
policemen were present for the duration of the interview. DER SPIEGEL's
correspondent was permitted to greet the former president with a
handshake, but after that he was required to keep a distance of about 3
meters (about 10 feet).
The former president seemed
to be in excellent physical and mental condition and he also seemed
Each morning, prison staff save a press review and important documents
on a USB stick for him. He has no access to the internet.
Lula: I am 73
years old, I was president of Brazil and I am too well known. I didn't
see myself as a refugee. Important people spoke with me about whether I
should leave Brazil or seek refuge in an embassy. I decided to stay in
the country. I am fighting for the truth. I want to prove that my
accusers are liars, even if I have to do that from custody. I have a
clear conscience. I am convinced that Judge Moro and the prosecutors
who put me behind bars do not sleep as well as I do.
Well... Moro won, I´d say.
But I like Lula, and here is some more:
I´d say that Lula means
and says ¨Yes, Moro made me a political prisoner¨, which I think is
quite brave in his circumstances. Here is some more:
DER SPIEGEL: Do you
see yourself as a political prisoner?
Lula: Judge Moro,
who convicted me, has since been appointed Justice Minister by Jair
Bolsonaro, the new president. A few days ago, Bolsonaro publicly
admitted that he had agreed with Moro to move him to the next vacant
justice position at the Supreme Court. That shows that it was all
planned in advance.
DER SPIEGEL: Moro is
defending himself against such accusations ...
Lula: Moro made sure
that Bolsonaro was elected president by preventing my candidacy.
Lula: The Brazilian
elite do not accept the rise of the poor. My crime was that I made it
possible for the poor to study, to use the same sidewalks as the rich
and for them to suddenly be able to go to shopping centers and
airports. This country belongs to everyone. PT has been generous to
those who need the Brazilian state, but it has not neglected the rich.
I bear my cross, but the sins were committed by others.
I think this is is fundamentally
correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I fear Lula is correct and
this is a recommended article.
Bolsonaro, though, isn't a representative of the traditional opposition
Lula: He's not
capable of serving as president. Why did he win anyway? Let me quote
the Mozambican author Mia Couto: "In times of terror, we choose
monsters to protect us." A guy comes along who was a member of
parliament for 28 years, but never achieved anything, and manages to
sell himself as the "new one." He wasn't elected because his supporters
believe he is the better alternative. It was because he opposes the PT.
It was a protest vote.
DER SPIEGEL: Is
democracy in peril in Brazil?
doesn't think much of democracy. He and his people know only one thing:
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 3 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 (!!).