in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from June 25, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing
Crisis files for six years now,
started to do so after June 10, 2013,
which taught me about Snowden.
I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I
am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time. (This still
continues: I have ME/CFS
simce 40+ years.)
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 25, 2019:
1. Guantánamo Case to Test Whether Torture
Can Be Put on the
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:
E-Commerce Sites Manipulate You Into Buying Things
3. Bernie Sanders Offers Plan to Wipe Out Student Debt
4. John Kiriakou: CIA
Seeking More Impunity
Case to Test Whether Torture Can Be Put on the Docket
is by Carol Rosenberg on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
I say, for I did not know
the more than three years he spent in C.I.A. prisons before being sent
to Guantánamo Bay, Majid Khan says he was hung from his wrists, naked
and hooded, for two straight days, causing wild hallucinations.
Mr. Khan, a confessed Qaeda courier, was held in almost
total darkness for a year, fearing he would be drowned in an icy tub
and isolated in a cell with bugs that bit him until he bled. In 2004,
his second year of C.I.A. detention, the agency “infused” a purée of
pasta, sauce, nuts, raisins and hummus up Mr. Khan’s rectum when he
went on a hunger strike, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee
Mr. Khan and his legal team are pursuing a strategy in an effort to
force the United States government to acknowledge what was done to him
in a way it never has for any of the detainees who were subjected to
torture — and to give him a measure of compensation for it.
Mr. Khan pleaded guilty at his
military tribunal in 2012 to delivering $50,000 of Qaeda money that
helped finance the 2003 bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Jakarta,
Indonesia, which killed 11 people, and plotting other, unrealized
My position on torture - and the above certainly was
torture - is as simple as it once appeared to in law: No one should
be tortured for any reason (whether punishment, information or other).
I add that I wrote ¨as
it once appeared to¨
because I do know that, in spite of fairly clear recent
laws, people have been tortured for thousands of years, while prosecution
of those who did torture or did command torture, has always been quite
difficult if those who did it or commanded it were part of the forces
of some government.
Here is some more:
Yes indeed, although this
article also makes it fairly clear that the above procedure - which does
seem fair to me - has no basis in law.
part of the sentencing process, his lawyers are arguing that the
treatment Mr. Khan endured in C.I.A. custody also needs to be taken
into account and are asking the military judge in the case to grant Mr.
Khan time off his prison term as a form of credit for what the C.I.A.
did to him.
Army judge in the case has agreed to hear arguments from prosecution
and defense lawyers at Guantánamo starting July 9 about his authority
to provide reparation for the torture the United States government
carried out after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Well... I agree
with Roehm´s position, but I am also afraid that it will not
carry far in court. And the
government´s position does seem clear and amounts - I think - to
the position that CIA people can do to prisoners what they want,
and will never be named. This is a recommended article.
Scott Roehm, the Washington
policy director for the Center for Victims of Torture, an advocacy
group, said the decision facing Mr. Khan’s judge would be “a watershed
moment” because of the opportunity to hold the United States legally
responsible for the interrogation program after Sept. 11.
Mr. Khan’s case tests “whether
the military commissions will grapple seriously and fairly with the
United States’ legacy of torture,” he said.
The government has signaled
that it will fight the request. In a filing last month, prosecutors
urged the judge to not call witnesses or hear evidence on what happened
to Mr. Khan.
E-Commerce Sites Manipulate You Into Buying Things
is by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries. I abbreviated the title. It starts as
I say, and in the original
article there is a fairly interesting picture of ThredUp sickening
lies, which seem to be covered by more lies, to the effect that ThredUp
can lie to its potential customers because they
lie - they falsely assert - so as not to provide real names and
When potential customers visit
the online resale store ThredUp,
messages on the screen regularly tell them just how much other users of
the site are saving.
“Alexandra from Anaheim just
saved $222 on her order” says one message next to an image of a bright,
multicolored dress. It’s a common technique on shopping websites,
intended to capitalize on people’s desire to fit in with others and to
create a “fear of missing out.”
But “Alexandra from Anaheim”
did not buy the dress. She does not exist. Instead, the website’s code
pulled combinations from a preprogrammed list of names, locations and
items and presented them as actual recent purchases.
The fake messages are an
example of “dark patterns,” devious online techniques that manipulate
users into doing things they might not otherwise choose to. They are
the digital version of timeworn tactics used to influence consumer
behavior, like impulse purchases placed near cash registers, or
bait-and-switch ads for used cars.
Sometimes, the methods are
clearly deceptive, as with ThredUp, but often they walk a fine line
between manipulation and persuasion: Think of the brightly colored
button that encourages you to agree to a service, while the link to opt
out is hidden in a drop-down menu.
And while I think this is quite sickening, I am also afraid it
will continue as long as the internet is being run as it has been from
its beginning, which was essentially as (i) the tool governments can know everything about everyone,
and (ii) rich corporations likewise
can know everything about anyone, which serves
them not to control people (often without any indication) but to make
them buy things (again often without any indication).
As an aside: It may be that Valentino-DeVries and I do not
agree on what is manipulation, for I think the last paragraph is
a clear instance of manipularion.
Anyway. Here is some more:
I think that was a good
idea by ¨researchers from
Princeton University¨ and I
am not amazed that over 10% of commercial sites are trying to
manipulate their customers.
prevalence of dark patterns across the web is unknown, but in a study released this
week, researchers from Princeton University have started to quantify
the phenomenon, focusing first on retail companies. The study is the
first to systematically examine a large number of sites. The
researchers developed software that automatically scanned more than
10,000 sites and found that more than 1,200 of them used techniques
that the authors identified as dark patterns, including ThredUp’s fake
report coincides with discussions among lawmakers about regulating
technology companies, including through a bill proposed
in April by Senators Deb Fischer, Republican of Nebraska, and Mark
Warner, Democrat of Virginia, that is meant to limit the use of dark
patterns by making some of the techniques illegal and giving the
Federal Trade Commission more authority to police the practice.
And I agree with proposed bill (but I am also an opponent of the
internet-as-is, which - as yet - is a rare position).
Here is more on the professional liars from ThredUp:
I take it that is correct,
and this is a recommended article.
ThredUp, for example, the researchers saw the website create the
messages in April using code that arbitrarily selected combinations
from a list of 100
names, 59 locations and 82 items. The New York Times replicated the
results. On one day this month, the code led to messages in which
“Abigail from Albuquerque” appeared to buy more than two dozen items,
including dresses in sizes 2, 4, 6 and 8. On other occasions, it
yielded messages showing different people “just” buying the same
secondhand item days or months apart.
asked about the notices, a ThredUp spokeswoman said in an emailed
statement that the company used “real data” and that it included the
fake names and locations “to be sensitive to privacy.” When asked
whether the messages represented actual recent purchases, the company
did not respond
Sanders Offers Plan to Wipe Out Student Debt
is by Jake Johnson at Truthdig and originally at Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
I say, for I did not
know this, and I completely agree with Sanders, even though I
also think his proposal has a very small chance of being realized
at present, especially because Sanders wants to finance it in an
original (and to my mind: sound) way:
As part of a bold
legislative package that would make public colleges and universities
tuition-free, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday will unveil a plan to wipe
out the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt that is saddling an
estimated 45 million Americans.
“This is truly a
revolutionary proposal,” Sanders told
the Washington Post, which reported the details of the
Vermont senator’s bill late Sunday. “In a generation hard hit by the
Wall Street crash of 2008, it forgives all student debt and ends the
absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for
the ‘crime’ of getting a college education.”
Yes, I agree
(though Wall Street has succeeded for 11 years not to repay what they
gained after the crisis of 2008, "because they are too big to
Sanders’ legislative package the “most ambitious higher education plan
in the Democratic 2020 presidential primary so far.”
Unlike means-tested plans
introduced by other 2020 contenders, Golshan observed, Sanders’s
legislation would cancel student debt for everyone “regardless of their
income or assets.”
According to the Post,
Sanders would pay for his plan with “a tax on Wall Street his campaign
says will raise more than $2 trillion over 10 years.”
“Sanders is proposing to
pay for the legislation with a new tax on financial transactions,
including a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions and a 0.1 percent tax
on bonds,” the Post reported. “Such a levy would
curb Wall Street speculation while reducing income inequality,
according to a report by the Century Foundation, a left-leaning think
Warren Gunnels, Sanders’
staff director, tweeted, “If we could give a multi-trillion bailout to
Wall Street, yes we can make college for all a reality.”
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
As I said: I agree
with Sanders, although I think that in the present circumstances his
plans will probably not be accepted. And this is a recommended article.
According to the Post,
the Vermont senator’s new plan will go beyond the tuition-free public
college proposal that was a key plank of his 2016 presidential campaign
“Sanders’s bill includes
$1.3 billion a year for low-income students at historically black
colleges and universities,” the Post reported, “and
$48 billion per year for eliminating tuition and fees at public schools
The Vermont senator’s debt
cancellation proposal comes just weeks after he unveiled
a sweeping K-12 education platform that includes a national
ban on for-profit charter schools, free universal school meals, and a
significant raise for teachers.
Kiriakou: CIA Seeking More Impunity
is by John Kiriakou on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
The CIA has quietly asked the Senate Intelligence Committee
to include a provision in its next authorization bill that would vastly
expand the definition of a “covert agent” whose identity would be
protected from unauthorized disclosure.
Yes indeed, and I completely
agree with Kiriakou. Here is some more:
The current law, called the Intelligence Identities
Protection Act of 1981, defines a covert agent as any intelligence
officer who is serving abroad or who has served abroad in a covert
capacity in the past five years. The new bill would expand that
protection to include all unacknowledged intelligence personnel even if
they have never left the United States.
Let me be clear: This measure is not at all about
protecting the identities of CIA officers doing their jobs. It is
about protecting those CIA employees who have committed crimes against
humanity. It’s a cover-up. Take it from me. I have
first-hand experience with this law.
The Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) has been
used only twice since its passage. It was used to convict Sharon
Scranage, a CIA secretary who had had an affair with an intelligence
officer in Ghana and had given him the names of all CIA employees in
the country and the identities of Ghanaians who were working for the
CIA. She was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a
minimum-security prison. My prosecution was the second and it
came in retaliation for my blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture
program. I never made public the name of any covert operative and
I ended up with 23 months.
Yes indeed, and one
reason (among many more) that seems to have protected some is
their high position, such as the former Deputy of State Armigate, the
former CIA Director David Petraeus (who leaked the names of 10 covert
CIA agents to his mistress/biographer) and former CIA Director Leon
These two minor prosecutions aside, very few revelations of
CIA identities have ever led to court cases.
For some more, see the article. Here is a bit more from it:
The implementation of this law is a joke. The CIA doesn’t
care when an operative’s identity is revealed — unless they don’t like
the politics of the person making the revelation. If they cared,
half of the CIA leadership would be in prison. What they do care
about, though, is protecting those employees who commit crimes at the
behest of the White House or the CIA leadership.
I think that is correct. Here is the ending of this article:
The CIA doesn’t care about a free press, though. The
proposed provision in the authorization bill would save the CIA the
trouble of having to explain itself to the likes of the media, to
members of the congressional oversight committees, or even to the
courts. And it raises far more questions than it answers.
Why is such a provision necessary in the first place? What
exactly is it supposed to protect? What was the precipitating
Yes, I agree - and
note what the CIA now is proposing: Members of the CIA can
do whatever they please, and will neither be named, nor have to face
any court. This is a strongly recommended article.
There are, of course, no legitimate answers to those
questions. No CIA officers have been exposed. None have
been threatened. None have had their lives put in danger by
unauthorized disclosures. That’s a red herring. This new
provision is a power grab. It is an attempt to get a pass on
crimes even before they’re committed. It’s prior restraint. It’s
un-American and we have to fight it.
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 (!!).