from January 21, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Sunday,
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, 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 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 21, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette
2. Federal Government Shuts Down
3. Powerhouse Commission Ponders Reeling In Facebook and
Before It's Too Late
4. Government Shutdown: What’s Closed, Who’s Affected
5. How Uncle Sam Launders Marijuana Money
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:
Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette
This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts
editorial board published the
first edition of the Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette
last May, we hoped to provide a helpful reminder to those morally
upright members of the G.O.P. who were once so concerned about
upholding standards of presidential decorum. Remember the hand-wringing
when Barack Obama wore
a tan suit or tossed
a football in the Oval Office?
Yet even as
the current occupant of the White House continues to find new and
shocking ways to defile his office, congressional Republicans have only
lashed themselves more tightly to him. The examples come so fast that
it’s easy to forget that the last one happened just four days ago, or
just this morning.
As part of
our continuing effort to resist the exhausting and numbing effects of
living under a relentlessly abusive and degrading president, we
present, for the third time in nine months, an updated guide to what
Republicans now consider to be acceptable behavior from the commander
in chief. As before, these examples, drawn from incidents or
disclosures in the last three-plus months, do not concern policy
decisions — only the president’s words and actions.
we’re not even opening that Michael Wolff book.
fact, this is just the introduction. After this - if I have
counted well - there are no less than 125 items, all linked
various sources that document the activities and sayings of "a relentlessly abusive and degrading
It's a quite interesting collection, and one of its advantages
it is brief: It does document that "the current occupant of the White House continues to find
new and shocking ways to defile his office", but it leaves the documentation to the links.
And while you may not agree with all items, I think the
qualifies in showing that the present president of the USA does not, will not,
and probably also cannot behave quite
behaving as he did the last year: Quite unpresidential, for
USA, and also quite authoritarian.
This is a recommended article.
Government Shuts Down
This article is by Zeke Miller, Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram. It starts
government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but
the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of
President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of
crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a
late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter
century. The slide toward closure lacked for high drama: The Senate
vote was all but predetermined, and since the shutdown began at the
start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for
Still, it comes with no
shortage of embarrassment for the president and political risk for both
parties, as they wager that voters will punish the other at the ballot
box in November.
Social Security and most
other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal
spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with
uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement
officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before
Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.
Last Friday this was
more or less expected, and indeed it happened.
In fact, I do not
know how important a federal government shut down is. On the
one hand, if this happened three times before in the last quarter
century, it may turn out to be a relatively minor problem; on the other
hand, Trump's government, apart from its awfulness, also is - still -
Here is a bit on
the associated blame. Both parties accuse each other:
Even before the vote, Trump
was pessimistic, tweeting, “Not looking good” and blaming the Democrats
who he said actually wanted the shutdown “to help diminish the success”
of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month.
Democrats balked on the
measure in an effort to pressure on the White House to cut a deal to
protect “dreamer” immigrants — who were brought to the country as
children and are now here illegally — before their legal protection
runs out in March.
And this is on the
last time this happened:
A shutdown would be the
first since 2013, when tea party Republicans — in a strategy not unlike
the one Schumer is employing now — sought to use a must-pass funding
bill to try to force then-President Barack Obama to delay
implementation of his marquee health care law. At the time, Trump told
Fox & Friends that the ultimate blame for a shutdown lies at the
top. “I really think the pressure is on the president,” he said.
This is a recommended
article, and there is also more on the shut down below.
Commission Ponders Reeling In Facebook and Google Before It's Too Late
This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. It starts
Everywhere you look,
high tech is in somebody’s bullseye. Take Apple. On the inside, top
investors are worried
about its products’ effects on children. On the outside, liberal
activists are grousing
about its offshore billions it can now bring home under GOP tax reform.
Even usually anti-regulation conservatives at the National Review are asking
why Big Tech isn’t regulated like Big Oil or Big Tobacco.
I think all of this is quite
warranted (and indeed I also think that the sooner Facebook
is closed the better it is for everybody except Mark
Zuckerberg), but I do not think much will happen legally, and
that for three reasons:
These examples, all recently
in the news, confirm the trend but skim the surface. New national
polling has found public opinion is shifting
from a warm embrace to growing skepticism. It’s not just the way
so-called fake news on social media had a role in recent elections in
the U.S. and led to congressional inquiries. And it's not just calls
for federal anti-trust actions aimed at the most popular information
curators, Facebook and Google.
Beyond these dots that attest
to a backlash is understanding what’s really going on below the screens
and in the minds of Facebook’s 2 billion users and Google-owned
YouTube’s 1.5 billion users. There is a new phrase describing this
sphere of human activity, the technology behind it and its effects.
What’s being called the attention economy is coming under new scrutiny
because it's seen as undermining the journalism profession as well as
trust in public institutions and democracy.
(1) "the law" is and has been very slow (or absent) in
setting up good laws to rule the corporations (that now have more
members than any country has), indeed in part because computing
is difficult and is not a field for most lawyers;
(2) most of law at present is in the hands of corporatist deregulators, who are even more
for any deregulation that allows the few rich to exploit the many
non-rich than was the case the last 17 years; and
(3) the powers of Facebook and Google, like the money they make
for their owners, are enormous.
Here is more on what Rosenfeld called "the attention economy", which seems to me to be a euphemism for what might
be better called the manipulative
“We come here in
friendship,” said Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public
Library, co-chair of the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and
Democracy, at Stanford University this week. The panel was created last
fall to try to fix the attention economy’s biggest problems, which also
include the way Google search and Facebook have demoted the visibility
of independent media, under the guise of fighting fake news.
I think this is also quite
warranted, although I think three things (at least)
Marx’s comments elicited
nervous laughter, because he had just presided over a panel that laid
out in vivid and disturbing detail how Silicon Valley’s best minds have
created brain-tracking, brain-mimicking and brain-triggering
computational formulas. These algorithms have turned billions of
digital device users into information addicts—and when put at the
service of supercomputers, targeting online advertising or content
placement, they have fractured society as never before.
(i) the brain-manipulating secret programs that are made by
workers of Facebook and Google;
(ii) the general lack of good laws that regulate computing; and
(iii) the lacks of knowledge and understanding of computation and
the very many abuses that computers connected to the internet may cause
in the great majority of internet users.
Here is more on the attention economy:
One of the most
outspoken explainers and critics was Tristan Harris, a former “design
ethicist” at Google—his company was acquired by it in 2011—who now runs
a non-profit, Time Well Spent,
which seeks to improve Big Tech’s impact on society. What this
under-40, ex-CEO said was as stunning as what looked like a blasť
reaction from his industry colleagues.
In fact, while I think
that Harris is probably quite correct in maintaining that the - secret
- programs of the Big Tech are explicitly and quite consciously
tapping into addictive behavior, I also think that the main point
is less the addictions these cause as the general principle that all of
Big Tech use "a business
loosely called online advertising, but that is a superstructure that
cashes in by targeting and provoking shared interests, via curated
Harris said the attention
economy, or the media on everyone’s smartphones and computers, is not
just the endless marketing we all see. There’s a deeper reason why many
established news sources can be supplanted by shadowy propaganda on
major platforms, why facts can be outrun by opinions and lies, and why
narrower tribal loyalties can usurp democratic institutions.
Harris pointed the finger of
blame at the heart and circulatory system of Silicon Valley. Its
artificial intelligence algorithms are designed to trigger brain
responses and be addictive, he said. They power a business model
loosely called online advertising, but that is a superstructure that
cashes in by targeting and provoking shared interests, via curated
That is also why I spoke of the manipulative
economy, rather than the attention economy: It may
happen by manipulating your attention, but the point is that it is manipulation,
and indeed manipulation calculated to deliver the most profits to
Here is more:
As my colleague Roger
McNamee, who is [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg’s mentor likes
to say, there’s 2 billion people who use Facebook, that’s more than the
number of followers of Christianity; 1.5 billion people use YouTube,
that’s about the number of followers of Islam. These products have more
influence over our daily thoughts than many religions and certainly
more than any government.”
Quite so - and note that
whereas there are enormously complicated social and religious
structures to guide Christians and Islamists, that involve millions
upon millions of people, Facebook and Google are private companies
run by private persons - who each must have at least as much power, or more,
than the leaders of the Christians and the Islamists.
And nearly all they want and all they do are corporate secrets, as are the programs
their menials design to manipulate their users.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
“We’re a species
that…can study our own ability to be manipulated,” he said. “We have to
talk about the advertising-based business model, which, paired with
artificial intelligence, poses an existential threat. We have to get
really serious about this. If you think about where are the most
powerful AIs in the world located right now? Arguably, at two
companies: Google and Facebook. The most powerful AIs in the world.
Yes indeed: Google and
Facebook have the most powerful AIs in the world, and they use
them essentially to manipulate billions of users to make them buy what
they advertise, and to deceive and manipulate them.
“Instead of pointing them at a
challenge like climate change, and saying, let’s solve that, or
pointing it at drug discovery for cancer, and saying, let’s solve that,
we have pointed the most powerful AI supercomputers in the world at
your brain. And we basically said, play chess against this brain and
figure out what will engage it the best. And so every time we open up a
news feed, we’re playing chess against a supercomputer that’s designed
to see 50 million steps ahead on the chessboard of your mind, and
figure out what will perfectly engage you.”
Unfortunately, I think most of "the law" in the current USA is on their
side, and I do not think - alas, alas - they will change a lot without
them being legally forced to, which these days very probably will not
This is a recommended article, in which there is considerably more than
Shutdown: What’s Closed, Who’s Affected
This article is by Richard Lardner on Truthdig and originally on The
Associated Press. It starts as follows:
federal employees began their weekends gripped with doubt, uncertain of
when they’ll be able to return to work and how long they’ll have to go
without being paid after a bitter political dispute in Washington
triggered a government shutdown.
This relates to item
1 above. It is here because this is a good article that does
explain quite clearly what's closed and who's affected. It is a
recommended article, that I further leave to the readers' interests.
Many government operations
will continue — U.S. troops will stay at their posts and mail will get
delivered. But almost half the 2 million civilian federal workers will
be barred from doing their jobs if the shutdown extends into Monday.
Uncle Sam Launders Marijuana Money
This article is by Ellen Brown on Truthdig. It starts as
Thirty states and the
District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing
marijuana in some form. The herb has been shown to have significant
therapeutic value for a wide range of medical conditions, including
cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma,
lung disease, anxiety, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel
disease and arthritis pain. The community of Americans who rely
on legal medical marijuana was estimated to be 2.6 million people
in 2016 and includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like
veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors and parents of epileptic
children. Unlike patented pharmaceuticals, which are now the leading
cause of death
from drug overdose, there have been no
recorded deaths from marijuana overdose in the U.S. By comparison,
alcohol causes 30,000
deaths annually, and prescription drugs taken as directed
are estimated to kill
100,000 Americans per year.
Under federal law, however,
marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance—a “deadly dangerous
drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse”—and its
possession remains a punishable offense.
First a bit about the
authoress: I like Ellen Brown. She
is an attorney and specializes mostly on economical matters, as in fact
also happens in the present article, since she is
considering the laundering of marijuana money that happens by
the U.S. government.
I have reviewed several of
her earlier articles, and will partially review the present
article, in fact because it is a bit long, though interesting.
And second, a bit about
marijuana, about which I know a fair amount, mostly because I have been
living most of the last 50 years in Amsterdam, Holland, which for the
last 50 years also has been remarkably tolerant of the
consumption of marijuana.
This did not happen
for the above mentioned health reasons, but because the police
force wasn't strong enough to maintain these laws (already in 1970:
autobiography if you read Dutch: here)
and also because it was already in 1970 quite obvious
that there had been no recorded deaths from marijuana overdose
then, and I think this has remained so since 1970 (till 2018).
Incidentally, the remarkable
tolerance about marijuana has not been translated into legal
actions: The consumption of marijuana, although it is tolerated
by the authorities, still is legally forbidden since 1965,
while the dealings in marijuana have been the subject of extremely
strange political and financial manipulations that started with
mayor Ed van Thijn in Amsterdam, who chose against legalization
in 1988, and instead chose for protecting the illegal dealers; and
giving them "the right" to
deal publicly in soft drugs while soft drugs are and remain legally forbidden.
One can reason a lot about
this, and I have been one of its victims, because Van Thijn gave his
criminal drugsdealing friends - who dealt both in marijuana and
in heroin and cocaine - his "personal permission" in writing to deal
from the bottom floor of the house where I lived in 1988, and
then consented that these criminals gassed me, threatened to murder
me, and forced me, in conjunction with much illegal and criminal
help from bureaucrats that worked for the City of Amsterdam (see here
if you read Dutch: it has all been well documented by me, even though
hardly any Dutchman cares to read it), to live for 3 1/2 years
above murderous dealers in soft and hard drugs, who threatened to kill
me and had gassed me in 1988.
I think mayor Ed van Thijn
did what he did because he - and later other mayors - profited a great
amount from his policies: Some 10 billion euros are turned over
in Holland each year merely in marijuana (see here,
if you read Dutch), and much more if the other illegal
drugs are also counted, and I think part of these yearly billions
disappears since 1988 into the pockets of the mayors and their
lawyers who provided the illegal "personal permissions" to criminal
dealers to commit their crimes for profit in public.
Also, I have no strict
proof of the above. I merely had to live for 3 1/2 years above
obvious dangerous drugs criminals who had gassed me and who threatened
to murder me, and I have all the time informed the bureaucrats of the
City of Amsterdam what happened in their names: It amused them a lot, and for all they
cared, the sooner I would die, the better it would be for everyone but
But if you think that
politicians who decide to give personal permissions to deal in illegal
drugs do so because they are worried that the Dutch cannot get their
drugs easily enough, and have no interests whatsoever to get part of
the 10 - 50 billion euros that are and have been turned over each year
in illegal drugs sold from Dutch territory, you are welcome.
Back to Ellen Brown's
article. This is on the money laundering that happens in the USA:
by Dr. Richard Rahn, author of “The End of Money and the Struggle
for Financial Privacy”:
Money laundering is
generally understood to be the practice of taking ill-gotten gains and
moving them through a sequence of bank accounts so they ultimately look
like the profits from legitimate activity. Institutions, individuals,
and even governments who are believed to be aiding and abetting the
practice of money laundering can be indicted and convicted, even though
they may be completely unaware that the money being transferred with
their help was of criminal origin.
The law has focused on
banks, but all sorts of businesses accept money without asking where it
came from or being required to report “suspicious activity.” As Rahn
observes, even governments can be indicted for and convicted of money
laundering. Strictly construed (as Sessions insists when interpreting
the law), that means the U.S. government itself could be indicted.
As I explained, the same
sort of laws operate in Holland - and the Dutch government, the Dutch cities and the Dutch mayors know very well that they are and
have been laundering the money from the drugs dealers they personally
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
In fact, the U.S.
government is the largest launderer of marijuana cash in the nation.
The IRS accepts this tainted money in the payment of taxes, turning it
into “clean” money; and it is not an unwitting accomplice to the crime.
Estimates are that marijuana business owners across the U.S. will
owe $2.8 billion in taxes to the federal government in 2018.
The government makes a
massive profit off the deal, snatching up
to 70 percent of the proceeds of the
reporting businesses, as opposed to the more typical rate of 30
percent. It does this by branding marijuana businesses criminal
enterprises, which are not entitled to deduct their costs when
reporting their income.
This is not only a clear
case of the unequal protection of the laws but is a clear admission by
the government that it is knowingly accepting illegal funds. The
government is a principal beneficiary of a business the government
itself has made illegal.
As I explained, I do not
know how the Dutch mayors, the
Dutch politicians, and the Dutch bureaucrats get their share from the
more than 300 billions euros merely in soft drugs that have
been illegally but freely (that is: with "personal
permission" of the mayors) dealt in Holland and from Holland to the
rest of Europe.
And please mark that 300 billion euros (slightly
more in dollars) (i) is over the last 30 years, but (ii)
also is a fraction of the much larger amounts in hard drugs that are also dealt illegally in and from Holland,
with protections from all manner of Dutch mayors, against unknown and illegal
profits for them or for
their lawyers (<- she has been protecting the illegal dealers in
illegal drugs for thirty years now - and was knighted for her
services) or for their bureaucrats.
I do believe
that when great amounts of illegal money are involved some people
profit a whole lot, in secret. In Holland, the systematic illegal
profiting from drugs has been systematized by Van Thijn and others, and
has been in service for 30 years now.
There is considerably
more in Ellen Brown's article - and please also keep in mind that the
laws in the USA are now considerably freer in most states than the
Dutch drugs laws.
And this is a
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 (!!).