from March 9, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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 March 9, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Trump Accepts Kim Jong-un’s Invitation to Meet
2. Daniel Ellsberg's Advice for How to Stop Current and
The National Endowment for (Meddling in)
4. For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers.
Here’s What I
5. Is Donald Trump Fueling a Mass Extinction of Democracy
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:
Accepts Kim Jong-un’s Invitation to Meet
This article is by Mark Landler on the NYT. It starts as follows.
leader, Kim Jong-un, has invited
President Trump to meet for negotiations over its nuclear program, an
audacious diplomatic overture that would bring together two
strong-willed, idiosyncratic leaders who have traded threats of war.
The White House
said that Mr. Trump had
accepted the invitation, and Chung Eui-yong, a South Korean official
who conveyed it, told reporters that the president would meet with Mr.
Kim within two months.
his eagerness to meet President
Trump as soon as possible,” Mr. Chung said at the White House on
Thursday evening after meeting the president. Mr. Trump, he said,
agreed to “meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent
which I do because I had not expected it. Here is some more:
The president expressed
his optimism about the meeting in a post on Twitter, saying that
Mr. Kim had “talked about denuclearization with the South Korean
Representatives, not just a freeze.”
“Also, no missile
testing by North Korea during this period of time,” Mr. Trump added.
“Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement
is reached. Meeting being planned!”
Mr. Chung, whose talks
with Mr. Kim on Monday in Pyongyang resulted in the invitation, noted
that the North Korean leader said he understood that joint military
exercises with the United States and South Korea would go ahead as
scheduled after the end of the Paralympic Games later this month.
In fact, I think this is the first more or less
reasonable statement by Trump I have read in a very long time: “Also, no missile
testing by North Korea during this period of time”. And this seems true
Finally, I quote this bit from the article:
For Mr. Trump, a meeting with Mr. Kim, a leader he has
threatened with “fire and fury” and derided
as “Little Rocket Man,” is a breathtaking gamble. No sitting
American president has ever met a North Korean leader, and Mr. Trump
himself has repeatedly vowed that he would not commit the error of his
predecessors by being drawn into a protracted negotiation, in which
North Korea extracted concessions from the United States but held on to
key elements of its nuclear program.
In fact, I do not see why Trump ïs taking ¨a breathtaking gamble¨. What does he risk? That the world will not
have a nuclear war? Quite possibly so, and apart from that I do not see
what major risk Trump runs.
But OK: These are good developments, and this is a
Ellsberg's Advice for How to Stop Current and Future Wars
This article is by Norman Solomon on Truthdig. It starts as
Daniel Ellsberg has a
message that managers of the warfare state don’t want people to hear.
“If you have information
that bears on deception or illegality in pursuing wrongful policies or
an aggressive war,” he said in a statement released last week, “don’t
wait to put that out and think about it, consider acting in a timely
way at whatever cost to yourself. … Do what Katharine Gun did.”
If you don’t know what
Katharine Gun did, chalk that up to the media power of the war system.
Ellsberg’s video statement
went public as this month began, just before the 15th anniversary of
the revelation by a British newspaper, the Observer, of a secret
NSA memo—thanks to Katharine Gun. At the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ,
about 100 people received the same
email memo from the National Security Agency on the last
day of January 2003, seven weeks before the invasion of Iraq got
underway. Only Katharine Gun, at great personal risk, decided to leak
Well... I am
the world news quite closely since June 2013; I read every morning 35
sites; I write every day a review of 5 articles; and I have a
memory - but I had to screw up my brows and consult my memory to
up a few bits about Katharine Gun.
And this is not
to criticize Katharine
Gun but it is to criticize Norman Solomon: If it takes a man like
me considerable trouble to locate news that is about 15 years old, this
must hold for nearly everyone.
But OK - Katharine Gun
indeed acted as a courageous individual, and here is more on her by
If more people had taken
such risks in early 2003, the Iraq War might have been prevented. If
more people were willing to take such risks in 2018, the current
military slaughter in several nations, mainly funded by U.S. taxpayers,
might be curtailed if not stopped. Blockage of information about past
whistleblowing deprives the public of inspiring role models.
That’s the kind of reality
George Orwell was referring to when he wrote: “Who controls the
past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
No, I am sorry but I do
definitely not think so. I have two sets of reasons for
The first set
Edward Snowden and a few other whistleblowers: I noted almost
immediately after learning about his existence, on June 10, 2013, that I hoped
whistleblowers, but that I considered that rather unlikely (¨in
And the second set
concerns my own background: My
father, my mother, and my father´s
father all went into the resistance against the Nazis that was
organized by the Dutch Communist Party. My father and his father were
arrested and condemned to concentrationcamp punishments because
were ¨political terrorists¨ (according to their Dutch judges). My
father survived over 3 years and 9 months of that; my grandfather was
murdered; my mother was never arrested.
They were three of about 10,000
Dutch communists lost 2000 of their members to the
Nazis. They also were the only somewhat major social group, and
the only political party, whose members went into the
And since there were
less than 10 million Dutchmen in WW II my own inference was and is that
less than 1 in a 1000 have the
kind of courage my father and
grandfather had, while also to warn your fellow human beings about
major dangers, you first have to know about them, and few do.
This is why I thought
and think that many more whistleblowers was quite
unlikely. There have been a few, but a few only, and this seems
to be also consistent with my view of human nature: A few are
intelligent; a few are courageous; but most men and most women are
neither, and are so from birth.
You may disagree with
me, but you neither have my family nor my own past.
Here is more on
Ellsberg and Gun:
What Ellsberg read in the
newspaper story “was a cable from the NSA asking GCHQ to help in the
intercepting of communications, and that implied both office and home
communications, of every member of the Security Council of the UN. Now,
why would NSA need GCHQ to do that? Because a condition of having the
UN headquarters and the Security Council in the U.S. in New York was
that the U.S. intelligence agencies promised or were required not to
conduct intelligence on members of the UN. Well, of course, they want
that. So they rely on their allies, the buddies, in the British to
commit these criminal acts for them. And with this clearly I thought
someone very high in access in Britain intelligence services must
dissent from what was already clear the path to an illegal war.”
Yes indeed - and I
quoted this to help your and my memory. And besides, as I wrote on June
And we also see The Problem
Of The Internet: It connects everyone and
everything - without real safeties, without real regulations,
and without there being any way in which one's rights are
And to this you have to
add that about the only regulation I know of that possibly
may work is that the American spies are - formally, legally
- not allowed to spy on just any Americans and indeed also not on
members of the UN - which the American spies circumvent by letting
the spying be done by their English (or other non-American) spying
friends, as explained in the last quotation.
Here is Gun´s version
(which I quote because you may not have Solomon´s superior memory):
has recounted, she and other GCHQ employees “received an email
from a senior official at the National Security Agency. It said the
agency was ‘mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security
Council members,’ and that it wanted ‘the whole gamut of information
that could give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results
favorable to U.S. goals or to head off surprises.’ “
In other words, the U.S.
and British governments wanted to eavesdrop on key UN delegations and
then manipulate or even blackmail them into voting for war.
Katharine Gun took
action: “I was furious when I read that email and leaked it. Soon
afterward, when the Observer ran a front-page story—‘U.S.
dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war’—I confessed to the leak and was
arrested on suspicion of the breach of section 1 of the Official
And indeed that was very
courageous. For more, see Katharine Gun
(on Wikipedia). And here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Ellsberg said: “What was
most striking then and still to me about this disclosure was that the
young woman who looked at this cable coming across her computer in GCHQ
acted almost immediately on what she saw was the pursuit of an illegal
war by illegal means. … I’ve often been asked, is there anything about
the release of the Pentagon Papers on Vietnam that you regret. And my
answer is yes, very much. I regret that I didn’t put out the top-secret
documents available to me in the Pentagon in 1964, years before I
actually gave them to the Senate and then to the newspapers.
In fact, I agree
with Ellsberg, but - alas, alas - I do not think more than a
quite small percentage has it in himself or herself to be a real
whistleblower. And this is a recommended article.
National Endowment for (Meddling in) Democracy
This article is by Daniel Lazare on Consortiumnews. It starts as
“They’re meddling in
our politics!” That’s the war cry of outraged Clintonites and neocons,
who seem to think election interference is something that Russians do
to us and we never, ever do to them.
Quite so: The USA is
meddling into extremely many countries, and the whole
Democratic baloney about other countries meddling with the USA´s
politics is baloney because the USA does the same or worse, and
besides - while I believe the Russians do meddle - there has never
been published any decent evidence about the financial extent of
their meddling, nor about how much they meddle: Most ¨news¨
about it seems propaganda.
But meddling in other
countries has been a favorite Washington pastime ever since William
McKinley vowed to “Christianize” the Philippines in 1899, despite the
fact that most Filipinos were already Catholic. Today, an alphabet soup
of U.S. agencies engage in political interference virtually around the
clock, everyone from USAID to the VOA, RFE/RL to the DHS—respectively
the U.S. Agency for International Development, Voice of America, Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Department of Homeland Security. The
last maintains some 2,000 U.S. employees in 70 countries to ensure that
no one even thinks of doing anything bad to anyone over here.
In fact, here is considerably more about the USA´s meddling in other
Then there is the National
Endowment for Democracy, a $180-million-a-year government-funded outfit
that is a byword for American intrusiveness. The NED is an example of
what might be called “speckism,” the tendency to go on about the speck
in your neighbor’s eye without ever considering the plank in your own
(see Matthew 7 for further details). Prohibited by law from interfering
in domestic politics, the endowment devotes endless energy to the
democratic shortcomings of other countries, especially when they
threaten American interests.
In 1984, the year after it
was founded, it channeled secret
funds to a military-backed presidential candidate in Panama, gave
$575,000 to a right-wing French student group, and delivered nearly
half a million dollars to right-wing opponents of Costa Rican president
Oscar Arias—because Arias had refused to go along with our
anti-communist policy in Central America.
A year later, it gave
$400,000 to the anti-Sandinista opposition in Nicaragua and then
another $2 million in 1988. It used its financial muscle in the
mid-1990s to persuade a right-wing party to draw up a “Contract with
Slovakia” modeled on Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America; persuaded
free marketeers to do the same in Mongolia; gave nearly $1 million to
Venezuelan rightists who went on to mount a short-lived putsch against
populist leader Hugo Chavez in 2002; and then funded anti-Russian
presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine in 2005, and the
coup there in 2014.
I do not know how
much of the above has been proved to be mostly true, but I think most
Here is some more:
Again I do not know how much of the above was proved
to be true. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which
is about Senator John McCain:
America’s own shortcomings
meanwhile go unnoticed. Meanwhile, the NED, as it nears the
quarter-century mark, is a bundle of contradictions: a group that
claims to be private even though it is almost entirely publicly funded,
a group that says democracy “must
be indigenous” even though it backs U.S.-imposed regime change, a
group that claims to be “bipartisan” but whose board is
packed with ideologically homogeneous hawks like Elliott Abrams, Anne
Applebaum, and Victoria Nuland, the latter of whom served as assistant
secretary of state during the coup in Ukraine.
Historically speaking, the NED
feels straight out of the early 1980s, when Washington was struggling
to overcome “Vietnam Syndrome” in order to rev up the Cold War.
“The work our government
does to promote democratic values abroad is at the heart of who we are
as a country,” added Senator John McCain. America is democracy,
democracy is America, and, as history’s first global empire, the U.S.
has an unqualified right to do unto others what others may not do unto
the U.S. Only a “Siberian
traitor,” or “a
Russian stooge” could possibly disagree.
In fact, this seems to me
to be evidence that the USA is quite totalitarian
in much of the ¨news¨ it provides, and that seems to me to be quite
correct, although I dutifully remark that according to the
anonymous neofascist who rewrote ¨totalitarianism¨ on the Wikipedia,
this is of course completely false (for only states can
be totalitarian, according to that liar or total idiot).
And by the way: According
to precisely the same ¨logic¨ as is used in the Wikipedia´s lies
about totalitarianism, there can be no fascism nor any
neofascism in the USA, for fascism and neofascism also can be
restated as being only true of states and not
of persons, not
of policies, not of plans, not of political parties, and not of anything else but
what states do.
Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.
This article is by Farhad Manjo on The New York Times. This
is from near the beginning:
In January, after
the breaking-newsiest year in recent memory, I decided to travel back
in time. I turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from
Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of
three print newspapers — The Times, The Wall Street Journal and my
local paper, The San Francisco Chronicle — plus a weekly newsmagazine,
I have spent most days since then getting the news mainly
from print, though my self-imposed asceticism allowed for podcasts,
email newsletters and long-form nonfiction (books and magazine
articles). Basically, I was trying to slow-jam the news
— I still wanted to be informed, but was looking to formats that prized
depth and accuracy over speed.
It has been
life changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in
my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on
speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.
Now I am not
just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely
informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about
how much free time I have — in two months, I managed to read half a
dozen books, took up pottery and (I think) became a more attentive
husband and father.
And I do so because I like this story and in fact have been
or less the same as Farhad Manjo did for two months, except that I am
doing it since eight years at least: I am minimizing my
because I hate being spied upon by secret services from anywhere, who can
track my and everyones opinions, values, desires,
income, family, friends and anything else, because the internet was
designed for and by the secret services to do all the spying they could
do on absolutely anyone (with an internet connection) living
anywhere. (In case you doubt this, check out the late Brzezinski.)
example, I will rather commit suicide than accept a cellphone. And the only
use I am making of the internet is by my webbrowser, my email
program, and my ftp program, and that is the only use I will ever
make of it.
again, my worries are not the worries of a journalist of The
New York Times:
Manjo is mainly concerned about are (i) the level of the
news he gets by means of his computer as compared with the paper
and (ii) the amount of time he saves by reading the paper press.
But I do
think he is right about this:
We have spent
much of the past few years discovering that the
digitization of news is ruining how we collectively process information.
Technology allows us to burrow into echo chambers, exacerbating
misinformation and polarization and softening up society for
propaganda. With artificial intelligence making audio
and video as easy to fake as text, we’re entering a hall-of-mirrors
dystopia, what some are calling an “information
apocalypse.” And we’re all looking to the government and to
Facebook for a fix.
But don’t you
and I also have a part to play? Getting news only from print newspapers
may be extreme and probably not for everyone. But the experiment taught
me several lessons about the pitfalls of digital news and how to avoid
I do not think that (link disconnected) ¨the digitization of news is ruining how we
collectively process information¨. I think the two extreme dangers of the internet
(i) the fact that virtually any spy from virtually anywhere can
your emails, your sites, and very probably - if he or she wants - your
whole computer, and (ii) the fact that with Facebook and
than 2 billion of the least intelligent mostly anonymous persons can
write what they like (and do so nearly all anonymously).
fact entails that - very probably, if some secret service wants it -
the secret services know everything about anyone; the second fact
entails that the few who can really think and really write have a force
of over 2 billion dummies opposed to them, most of whom write whatever
they please, anonymously, and have no sound ideas whatsoever about
science, truth, probability, facts or any other rational subjects: most
are moved by their prejudices,
or their fears.
again, a journalist of The NYT is not concerned with facts like these,
but with facts like this:
I certainly would not
put it as Mr. Manjo does, but he is right that ¨[s]martphones and social networks¨ are capable of flooding everybody
with more ¨information¨ than one can possibly check or verify - and
that is wholly apart from the fact that (i) smartphones and
social networks also steal all your ¨private¨ information, and
that (ii) there are 2 billion of the least intelligent who now all can
¨write¨ and do so ignorantly and anonymously.
Real life is
slow; it takes professionals time to figure out what happened, and how
it fits into context. Technology is fast. Smartphones and social
networks are giving us facts about the news much faster than we can
make sense of them, letting speculation and misinformation fill the gap.
It has only gotten worse. As
news organizations evolved to a digital landscape dominated by apps and
social platforms, they felt more pressure to push news out faster. Now,
after something breaks, we’re all buzzed with the alert, often before
most of the facts are in.
But here is Mr. Manjo on Facebook and Twitter:
This is the
most important rule of all. After reading newspapers for a few weeks, I
began to see it wasn’t newspapers that were so great, but social media
that was so bad.
every problem we battle in understanding the news today — and every one
we will battle tomorrow — is exacerbated by plugging into the
social-media herd. The built-in incentives on Twitter and Facebook
reward speed over depth, hot takes over facts and seasoned
propagandists over well-meaning analyzers of news.
You don’t have
to read a print newspaper to get a better relationship with the news.
But, for goodness’ sake, please stop getting your news mainly from
Twitter and Facebook. In the long run, you and everyone else will be
which I do this time because I am quite relieved. Farhad Manjo is quite
right about Twitter and Facebook, and indeed speaks for everyone
with an IQ above 100. And this is a recommended article.
Donald Trump Fueling a Mass Extinction of Democracy Across the Planet?
This article is by Jacob Sugarman on AlterNet. It starts as
Earlier this week,
during a freewheeling
speech to Republican donors at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump cracked the
following joke about Chinese leader Xi Jinping: "He's now president for
life. President for life. No, he's great. And look, he was able to do
that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday."
I take it the above is
mostly correct, and indeed I am not at all amazed that Donald Trump
implied he wants to be an American dictator, but then again I should
add that I also am a psychologist who agrees with - it seems -
some 70,000 other psychologists and psychiatrists who claimed that Donald Trump is not sane.
Since Trump abruptly removed
James Comey as FBI director last May, the United States has been slowly
toward a constitutional crisis. In January, we learned the
president had ordered
the firing of special prosecutor Robert Mueller last June,
only to back off after White House attorney Don McGahn threatened to
New York Times report published Wednesday revealed that Trump has
contacted several key witnesses in the collusion probe, directly
disobeying his legal counsel). The following month, Trump lobbied the
Justice Department to open investigations of Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama. Meanwhile, his administration continues to stack the courts at a
breakneck pace, trampling norms and procedures to accelerate
the appointment of right-wing judges in a host of blue and purple
For Steven Levitsky, co-author
of How Democracies Die, these are but two
telltale signs of creeping authoritarianism. While violent coups have
largely become a thing of the past, elected officials can dismantle a
republic just as effectively as a military junta. Examples abound, from
Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Hungary) to Latin America
(Venezuela and Nicaragua) and Asia (Turkey, the Philippines and
And the rest of this article is given to an interview with Steven Levitsky.
I select three bits from it. Here is the first, which is about the
chances for American democracy:
I also take it that Steven
Levitsky (a Harvard professor) is a bit less radical than Jacob
Sugarman (the editor of AlterNet), but I add that I do not know
think they're still fundamentally holding for now. But there's no
question that the Trump administration has done what virtually every
elected autocrat we've studied anywhere in the world has before him,
which is go after the legal system, law enforcement and the courts in
an effort to control the referees. That accomplishes two things: It
creates a shield to protect the government from investigation and
prosecution, and ultimately, it can be used as a weapon.
You can use the legal system
to "legally" go after your rivals, and both Trump and the Justice
Department have made noise about doing just that. This is straight out
of the authoritarian playbook. I'd say I'm more worried now than I was
when we first wrote How Democracies Die.
Here is some about Levitsky´s assessments of the USA:
But things are so
polarized now, and the Republicans have become so Trumpified, that
there may not be enough votes even if Mueller uncovers egregious
criminal activity. That would put us in uncharted territory, where
impeachment becomes a truly double-edged sword. If Republicans actively
oppose it, if it's viewed as a coup by the Fox News wing of the
Republican Party, which is to say the majority, then it could tear the
Yes indeed: that is quite
possible. And here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
ultimately lead us into a devastating war, but I think we're actually
fortunate that he doesn't have a political project. Or if he does, he
doesn't have the discipline, the intelligence or the attention span to
build something really destructive. If there's another major terrorist
attack, I think all bets are off, but if we can get through the next
three years crisis-free, I'd bet our democratic institutions muddle
Well... all of these are probabilistic
judgements, but I think this is reasonable. I also think that Trump is
a definite neofascist
(in my sense of the term, and the Wikipedia does not have
anything useful) and that he
is a madman, who I agree ¨doesn't have the discipline, the intelligence or the
attention span to
build¨ a consistent and
clear course for his values.
And this is a recommended article.
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 (!!).