from January 6, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) 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 two 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.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from January 6, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. James Risen on Life as a NY Times Reporter
2. Trump Aides Plan Mass Exodus in Wake of Explosive Book
3. A Year Has Gone by, But Trump Is Still Here and Even More
4. Why Aren't Google and Facebook Held Accountable for
5. Trolling Trump, Journalism Watchdog to Hold 'Global Press
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:
Risen on Life as a NY Times Reporter
article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the
following introduction (and it is the first of two successive
articles, and while I do not quote the second article, I think you
ought to read both):
spend the hour
with former New York Times reporter James Risen, who left the paper in
August to join The Intercept as senior national security correspondent.
This week, he published a 15,000-word story headlined “The Biggest
Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War
on Terror.” The explosive piece describes his struggles to publish
major national security stories in the post-9/11 period and how both
the government and his own editors at The New York Times suppressed his
reporting, including reports on the Bush administration’s warrantless
wiretapping program, for which he would later win the Pulitzer Prize.
Risen describes meetings between key Times editors and top officials at
the CIA and the White House. His refusal to
name a source would take him to the Supreme Court, and he almost wound
up in jail, until the Obama administration blinked.
Risen is a quite important American journalist, who was
considerably earlier - in 2004 and 2006 - with very similar
facts as Edward Snowden had, although Risen indeed had considerably
Also, this is an interesting and fairly long interview (in two parts)
that I all recommend, though I make excerpts only from the beginning of
Here is some of Risen's background:
(..) In the story, Risen gives a personal account of his struggles to
publish significant stories involving national security in the
post-9/11 period and how both the government and his top editors at the
suppressed his reporting on stories, including the Bush
administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, for which he would
ultimately win the Pulitzer Prize in 2006. Risen describes how his
story would have come out right before the 2004 presidential election
of President Bush over John Kerry, potentially changing the outcome of
that election. But under government pressure, The New York Times
publish the story for more than a year, until Risen was publishing a
book that would have had the revelations in it first. In his new piece
for The Intercept, James Risen also describes meetings
between top Times editors and officials at
the CIA and the White
Yes indeed -
mark that Risen had similar information as Edward Snowden
published in 2013, but that Risen had, indeed in part, but
in 2004. But then it was not published: That happened
only in 2006,
mostly because the CIA and the White House objected (as if they did not
know the First Amendment).
Here is more:
And as to Stellar
This program did also collect the (meta)data of many or of all
communications between Americans (by computer or cellphone) which -
among other things - led to William
Binney's resignment from the NSA.
So, the story of
what happened with your warrantless wiretapping story, the story of the
wiretapping of Americans throughout the country, more than a decade
before Ed Snowden revealed so much—can you go back in time and tell us
what you found before the election, the second election of President
Bush? We may not have read it in The New York Times at the
time, but you had written it.
Yeah. Well, it’s in
the spring of 2004. I was meeting with a source, who—I was talking to
this source, and in the process of talking, the source said, “There’s
something that I know that I think is the biggest secret in the
government, but I’m too frightened to tell you about it right now.”
finally, the source just
kind of started talking about what he—what the source knew, and
eventually, you know, in the course of about 10 or 15 minutes, told me
the outlines of the NSA’s domestic spying program, that had begun under
the Bush administration, both the warrantless wiretapping and the
broader effort to gather email and phone records of Americans. And it
was the outlines of this massive program that we later learned was
codenamed Stellar Wind.
Here is more:
note that (1) I think that at
present all communications of anyone anywhere
are being followed and
traced by both the NSA and by large corporations like Facebook, Google
and Apple, and (2) I also think this is by far the best
foundation of a
neofascistic dictator-ship that I have ever known:
Well, there were a
couple components of it. There were several components of it. There
was—they had—what we later learned, they had grabbed—they were—the NSA, which was supposed to spy on foreigners
overseas, had been turned inward on the United States by the Bush
administration, and so they were spying on Americans when they were
only supposed to spy on foreigners. And they were getting—they were
listening in to the phone conversations of Americans’ international
phone calls with foreigners, without search warrants, without any
warrants from the secret FISA Court, the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. And they were also
gathering the phone records, logs and email addresses and messages of
Americans throughout the country.
basically, this was
the—what I was told about was the outlines of what we now know as all
of the domestic spying that has been going on since 9/11. It’s the same
program that Edward Snowden later leaked documents about.
everyone's full thoughts, writings, income, buyings, opinions and
friends fully accessible to the secret services (from anywhere indeed)
is the straight road to neofascism
of the very few.
Here is the last bit from this fine interview that I quote:
Well, the same grounds, that the Bush administration argued that it was
too valuable for the counterterrorism programs in the United States,
that it was the most—their argument was it was the crown jewel of
counterterrorism programs, it was the most important thing that the
U.S. was doing against al-Qaeda, and that if we revealed it, we would
be responsible for hurting America’s national security. And so, that
was the basic argument. And the editors agreed with that at the time.
That is to say:
The editors of
the New York Times agreed - at the time - with the U.S.
it had the full rights to do what was explicitly forbidden by the First
Amendment, and in fact that the New York Times should support
(namely, those in the NSA) against the non-state's
terrorists, while giving up the law of the U.S.A.
There is a lot more in both interviews, and it is all strongly
Aides Plan Mass Exodus in Wake of Explosive Book Revelations: Report
article is by Travis Getty on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. It
starts as follows:
As bad as
thing have been
so far in the White House under President Donald Trump, they soon could
get even worse.
Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury depicts a chaotic
and dysfunctional White House where staffers fear and loathe the
president, whom they regard as a vain and moody “idiot,” and those
conditions have exacerbated the stress that comes with the job, reported Axios.
half a dozen of
the more skilled White House staff are contemplating imminent
departures,” according to Axios co-founders Mike Allen and Jim
VandeHei. “Many leaving are quite fearful about the next chapter of the
expected today to have more news about "Fire and Fury",
did not see much except on The Guardian, which has grown very
worse with the new editor, and that I also cannot copy anymore
some trouble, which I think isn't worth it: The Guardian is definitely out
as a "progressive and honest publisher"; it is
definitely in as a
collection of Blatcherist
liars who are only interested in their own
incomes. (I am a bit sorry, but yes: I am angry.)
probably will be more knews about "Fire and Fury" tomorrow.
is the above and the following:
anecdotes show how
unprepared Trump is for the presidency, and how he ignores or
disregards advice and follows his instincts wherever they lead — even
when he contradicts himself.
about having formal demands on his attention,” Wolff wrote.
“wackadoo” moments whenever the president rambled off topic, and
staffers were forced into “intense method-acting” to pretend not to
notice “what everyone could see.”
will be more to
follow, undoubtedly. Meanwhile, this is a short recommended article.
Year Has Gone by, But Trump Is Still Here and Even More Dangerous
article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
President-elect Donald Trump a year ago have become his enemies. Former
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, once a stalwart ally, is a "liar,"
say Trump’s lawyers. Former campaign strategist Steve Bannon, once a
political guru, has "lost
his mind," according to the president.
is not just
threatening North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with “fire and fury.” The
phallically obsessed Trump now boasts, via Twitter, that his nuclear
“button” is "much
bigger" than Kim’s.
incidentally - I am a psychologist - I do agree for a
now that Trump is not sane
and is a megalomaniac (psychiatrese: "a
grandiose narcissist"), even though it seems that few journalists
read or understand psychology or psychiatry.
Here is more on
the many talents of genius that Trump apparently atttributes to himself:
is not just
saying Democratic charges of collusion with the Russians are a “hoax."
He is mobilizing his supporters to denigrate, undermine and "purge" the
FBI. He has normalized the idea that law enforcement should be
weaponized against political criticism.
Trump is not
about prosecuting journalists. He is taking legal steps to silence
them. On Thursday, a White House attorney sent a cease-and-desist
letter to publishing company Henry Holt demanding it stop its plans
to publish Michael
Wolff’s bombshell book, in which Bannon is quoted as saying the
Trump campaign’s meetings with Russia were “treasonous.” (In response,
Holt moved up the release date.)
And I do so
because it is not the task of the president to try to
the news so that it fits his own preconceptions.
"Fire and Fury", I am afraid you will have to await tomorrow's Nederlog
or do your own searching: I am writing the NLs normally in the very
early hours of the morning, and today is not an exception.
of Jefferson Morley:
around the administration," says conservative ex-Ohio governor
first year in
office confirmed that he is a megalomaniac with authoritarian
ambitions, his second year opens with the realization that, as Dionne
puts it, “his strategy for political survival is rooted in a
willingness to destroy our institutions.”
also with the terminology (for megalomania is at least 100
than the psychiatrese "narcissistic personality disorder"), except that
I do miss a reference to
psychologists and psychiatrists who agree with me. (But this is it,
there is this:
The rise of
Fox News as the
propaganda organ of the right wing of the Republican Party, and the
takeover of the rest of the national news distribution system by
Silicon Valley’s platform monopolies, has debilitated whatever role
independent journalism plays in checking unaccountable power.
Policy’s James Traub, “is the loss
of the capacity for collective action, the belief in common
purpose, even the acceptance of a common form of reasoning. We listen
to necromancers who prophesy great things while they lead us into
disaster. We sneer at the idea of a ‘public’ and hold our fellow
citizens in contempt. We think anyone who doesn’t pursue self-interest
is a fool.”
As to the
paragraph: I agree that Fox News + Silicon Valley do not spread
objective and factually correct news, which indeed is a serious
undermining of the real free press. But there still is some
left, though perhaps not so much in the mainstream media, while the USA
is not - yet at least - an authoritarian dictatorship.
As to the
paragraph: The first statement seems to me to be a dream anyway
there simply is no "common purpose" that unites over 300 million
people, and the same applies to "a common form of reasoning").
As to the
the third statement: I very much dislike it to be brushed under
and indeed I never did these things (although I do not glow
with respect for ordinary men,
true is that the
mainstream media have been replaced to a considerable extent
by utterly anonymous persons and bots that operate on Facebook
etc. that produce bullshit
I agree this is a very
dangerous development (for I insist that anonymous ordinary people
rarely know science, logic, or mathematics, and already
have dangerous opinions
for these reasons), but I disagree with Traub.
the last bit
that I quote from this article:
may be a bit
more optimistic than Jefferson Morley? In any case, I am not
yet that the first statement is true, while I hope the last
is. And this is a recommended article.
The hope that
system would be stronger than the man in the Oval Office was misplaced.
If there is any
hope in the
news, it is that Trump will hasten his own demise and self-destruct.
Aren't Google and Facebook Held Accountable for Spreading Fake News?
article is by Rick Gell on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
1, we looked at the consequences of two laws—the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act, enacted 20 years
ago—that allowed Silicon Valley giants like YouTube and Facebook to act
as platforms and not publishers. These laws release them from personal
responsibility for copyright infringement, slander and libel, if they
followed take-down procedures in a reasonable amount of time.
legitimate copyright holders, in music and today in video media, are
explore the effect on news and journalism.
reviewed Part 1 on January 3.
recall that both Facebook and Youtube, both with billions of
members/customers, (and bolding added) "because they are not
"speakers of any information" in effect are freed
from laws that
to everyone else: anybody can
(re-)publish copyrighted materials
and indeed that happens all the time.
In fact, this seems to me an utterly absurd legal "fact" but
thus it goes. Here is more:
As to the
first paragraph: Maybe AT&T "doesn't edit, censor, prioritize or
content or call participants" but Facebook and Google certainly
censor and sequence their members' or users' contributions to public
discussions (and both have billions of members/customers).
internet service provider "pipe" argument, tech companies like Google
and Facebook claim they have little or no editorial control over the
content on their platforms. Silicon Valley companies use an analogy to
compare themselves to phone companies rather than media publishers,
arguing that AT&T doesn’t edit, censor, prioritize or sequence the
content or call participants. Like a phone company, Silicon Valley
companies contend they manage content with "algorithms"—and
reluctantly, because of cost/human moderators—and still manage to
maintain ISP status.
The algorithm is
sounding word that cloaks tech companies’ editorial control. I think of
the algorithm as analogous to Coca-Cola’s secret formula—which turned
out to be sugar. Algorithms are closely guarded with techs' go-to
rationale for secrecy: We can’t tell anyone, because users
will game the algorithm. Translation: leave the algorithm
gaming to us.
As to the second paragraph: I completely agree with Rick Gell
that "algorithm is
sounding word that cloaks tech companies’ editorial control" and indeed also that this
been intentionally chosen to mystify, propagandize and bullshit
customers of tech companies.
In fact, it used to be called programming,
which is the much
better term. And all programming - I know, for I can program in
least six programming languages) may be reduced (fundamentally) to rules
that amount to the following:
computer) read this and that, do such and so, and else do so and such.
Please note that
depend - always, necessarily - on enormous abstractions from
the real data: Absolutely everything except "this and
that" (that may be long or short) gets completely ignored by
the same program.
Next, these programs are kept completely secret: nobody is
have the right to see them, control them, alter them or revoke them
(other than leaders of the corporations who own them).
Here is more on the programs that Facebook and Google use (bolding
DMCA and CDA
have birthed a media consumption environment where the bulk of the
advertising revenue and the bulk of the content consumption funnel
through Google search and Facebook, with no responsibility for content
they deliver. Their power and a modest algorithm change can be
devastating for the publishers doing the investigative work.
built an audience close to 6 million unique visitors over a 20-year
period, and in one month this past June, its traffic dropped by 50
percent from what it was at the beginning of the year. Why? The
algorithm, of course.
Google must have rewritten the program that finds AlterNet with
clause that forces it to sequence its findings (often or always) behind
the findings of Fox News (etc.)
on the programs Google and Facebook use:
reason to keep algorithms secret. They can’t really do the job
professional editors and fact-checkers do.
As Zeynep Tufekci pointed out in the New
York Times, “Human employees are expensive, and algorithms are
cheap. Facebook directly employs only about 20,658 people, roughly one
employee per 100,000 users. With so little human oversight and so much
automation, public relations crisis like the one that surrounded ads
for hate groups are inevitable.”
happen to agree with Richard Stallman
and the Free
that the only way to keep programs safe is to publish them
as free and open source. But this would depress the profits
internet organizations, and profits are holy. (And human rights
or honesty or fairness are not, for most internet corporations.)
to get worse on the misinformation and news front before they get
better, as new digital face and voice technologies roll out. It is now
possible to alter a video clip of President Trump speaking and have him
say, “We are bombing North Korea,” in perfect voice, with perfect
facial movements that are impossible to detect with the naked
there are more than 2 billion users of Facebook, most of whom
anonymous (except for Facebook), and many of whom only use
another conclusion of Rick Gell:
of Americans are getting their news from Facebook, a company that won’t
legally stand behind its news content or admit it is a publisher. With
Google and Facebook as the conduits, news publishers that accept
responsibility for their content are now in the Silicon Valley version
of the Roman Colosseum, racing to be first to deliver
tabloid-headline-juiced news stories into Google search and Facebook
feeds or suffer the consequences. It’s a demoralizing way to run the
agree, and this (and the previous part)
are strongly recommended.
Trump, Journalism Watchdog to Hold 'Global Press Oppressor Awards
article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
which I do because I did not know this, and besides I do think
it does not
belong to the functions of the U.S. president to criticize the press,
though I know that Trump thinks so.
Donald Trump's announcement this week that he plans to hold an awards
ceremony for dishonest media outlets, the Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ) said Friday it was organizing its own event to honor
anti-press world leaders.
announcing THE GLOBAL PRESS OPPRESSORS AWARDS on Monday at 5:00pm.
Subjects will cover Thinnest Skinned & Outrageous Use of Laws, in
various categories for world leaders. Stay tuned!
Here is some on how some Americans reacted:
Rasmussen poll taken
after the president first promoted his idea for an awards ceremony, in
a November tweet,
found that 40 percent of respondents believed Fox News, which has
covered the Trump administration far more favorably than other cable
networks, should win Trump's "Fakest News Trophy."
That seems a
The article ends as follows, and I partially disagree:
has some of the strongest legal free speech protections in the world,
and serves as a beacon for press freedom in a world where journalists
are routinely censored, attacked, or imprisoned for their work," notes
the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker's website. "But the U.S. record is
imperfect, and journalists and advocates must tirelessly defend the
First Amendment in courts, in legislatures, and in the media. Constant
vigilance and an honest accounting of the country’s track record on
press freedom are essential."
disagree with this are two.
First, while I like the First
Amendment to the Constitution, I do not think this was sufficient
to guarantee the freedom of the press (though it did, to some
extent, for a long time, but not anymore in the days of the
Second, even if the First Amendment was fairly good, to maintain the
legal rights on free speech requires (in the end) a Supreme Court
that is willing to keep these rights. What happened in fact
in 2010 was that the Supreme
Court - completely falsely, without any justification -
interpreted the First Amendment, which is literally as follows:
no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.
as if it
meant that "the
freedom of speech" = "the having of money", which means that the richest
persons have the most votes, and also should have the most
I wrote this down as I understand it, and to me it seems completely
insane (as it did to one of the pensioned former judges of the
Supreme Court). But it is the opinion of the majority of the
Anyway. I do agree with the CPJ and it is for this reason that this
article is recommended.
have now been
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 (!!).