from March 17, 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, 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 17, 2018
Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the U.S. Invasion
2. Is Social Media Destroying Democracy?
Inside the Trump Circus of Corruption
4. Why Can't We Talk About the T-Word with Trump's CIA Pick?
5. Democrats’ Surrender On Torture Is Nearly Complete
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:
Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the U.S. Invasion
article is by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies on Truthdig. It starts
March 19 marks 15
years since the U.S.-U.K invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American
people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion
unleashed. The U.S. military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi
deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial
invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey
found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of
thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available,
show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003
There is more below on the number of Iraqi victims, who
incidentally but significantly are nearly all Iraqi civilians
who were killed by American military professionals (plus some
military provided by other countries) who did not even count
the bodies they made, presumably because Iraqis were assigned a level
of humanity far below that of Americans.
But before going on about the number of Iraqi victims I want to make
three background remarks on how these numbers, and indeed these
wars that go on for fifteen years, are possible at all.
There seem to be three important
background facts (apart from the stupidity
that characterize many though not all Americans):
There are more reasons but
these are important reasons why very much of the potential news
about the American military simply are never heard: A privatized army;
centralized mainstream media in a few hands that live on propaganda
rather than facts;
plus the enormous corruptions in the Senate and Congress simply take
care of this.
- Nixon privatized
the American army: There is no more draft (that could hit any
American, including - gasp! - the children of the rich and of
Senators and Congressmen), which meant military fighting and keeping
military secrecies were from then on very much easier.
- The mainstream
media are in a few hands and lie, deceive or suppress news as if these
are the tasks of the press: This means you simply cannot
trust ¨the news¨ you get from such sources even as factually correct
(apart from ideological
colorings) - but most consumers do not seem to know this or do not seem
- There is by now
an enormous corruption in the Senate and in Congress: Everyone
there - it seems - can be bought; it seems each of these 750 or so men
and women has been assigned 10 or more heavily paid lobbyists;
and in fact - or so it seems to me - the great majority of these
people, though not all, have been bought.
Back to the article:
The number of Iraqi
casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is
still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell
to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing
campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000
bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested
Iraqi and Syrian cities
An Iraqi Kurdish
intelligence report estimated that at least 40,000
civilians were killed in the bombardment of Mosul alone, with many
more bodies still buried in the rubble. A recent project to remove
rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood found 3,353 more
bodies, of whom only 20 percent were identified as ISIS fighters and 80
percent as civilians. Another 11,000 people in Mosul are still reported
missing by their families.
I copied that as
stated, and only note the fact that of those killed 80
percent were civilians. And perhaps I should also add that a more
or less reliable proportion that relates the numbers of people who were
killed (in an accident or in violence of any kind) to those who were
wounded but not killed, as 1 : 10. I
do not know the actual proportion, and I only state my guesses
remind you that there tend to be many more that are wounded
Next, there is this on a
reliable report on the number of victims (from 2006) together with
the reactions of two of the warring parties, namely the U.S. and U.K. governments:
Two such reports on Iraq
came out in the prestigious The Lancet
medical journal, first in 2004 and then in 2006. The 2006 study
estimated that about 600,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 40 months
of war and occupation in Iraq, along with 54,000 nonviolent but still
The U.S. and U.K.
governments dismissed the report, saying that the methodology was not
credible and that the numbers were hugely exaggerated. In countries
where Western military forces have not been involved, however, similar
studies have been accepted and widely cited without question or
controversy. Based on advice from their scientific advisers, British
government officials privately admitted that the 2006 Lancet
report was “likely
to be right,” but precisely because of its legal and political
implications, the U.S. and British governments led a cynical campaign
to discredit it.
Yes indeed - and see my
three points about important parts
of the reasons why these warring governments can dismiss these factual reports and
get away with this.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Taking ORB’s estimate of
1.033 million killed by June 2007, then applying a variation of Just
Foreign Policy’s methodology from July 2007 to the present using
revised figures from Iraq Body Count, we estimate that 2.4 million
Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of our country’s illegal
invasion, with a minimum of 1.5 million and a maximum of 3.4
These calculations cannot
possibly be as accurate or reliable as a rigorous up-to-date mortality
study, which is urgently needed in Iraq and in each of the countries
afflicted by war since 2001. But in our judgment, it is important
to make the most accurate estimate we can.
Yes indeed, and I do
agree. And this is a strongly recommended article.
Social Media Destroying Democracy?
This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. It starts
The political world
is awash in a growing sea of social media-fed misinformation, loosely
called fake news. Each week brings eyebrow-raising reports of a threat
poised to upend America’s already dysfunctional political landscape, or
reports that those at the helm of online information ecosystems delight
in distorting reality and disrupting societal norms.
Well... yes and no, but
mostly no and my reasons are all related to the words that are
in this report. Here are some of my reasons:
There are more reasons.
Then there is this:
- First, my answer
to the question in the title is: Yes, definitely. But my reasons do
not appear to be Rosenfeld´s reasons. I think the
main reason is that just on Facebook alone there are over 2 billion
customers who sold their privacies for the benefit of getting
advertisements that may help them save some, while at the very
most 10% are capable of real writing and real thinking - but nearly
all of them publish, for this has been made stupidly easy, and nearly
all do so anonymously.
- Second, I am not
worried by ¨misinformation¨ (?!) nor by ¨fake news¨ (?!?!); I am very much worried by the
straight assertion of lies
while I get upset by progressive journalists (like Rosenfeld) who
simply copy these vaguaries while wholly avoiding straight
terms like ¨truth¨,
¨falsity¨, ¨lies¨ and ¨propaganda¨.
- Third, I also do not
believe in ¨information
ecosystems¨: This is a
falsifying metaphor - and if Facebook is meant (how can I know?), I´d
say this is not an ¨information
ecosystem¨ but is a
system that is designed to spread propaganda, lies, and falsities; to suppress many things real cititzens ought to
know; and that makes money by stealing the private information on their users
(who are according to its owner ¨dumb fucks¨ who trust
There’s nothing new
about political distortions or rabble-rousing in American culture and
politics. But just as social media is revolutionizing and accelerating
aspects of the way people and campaigns communicate, these frontline
dispatches heralding a disinformation dystopia are frequently missing a
key element: context, or magnitude, so readers know what matters—and
doesn’t—about the purported threats or trends. This omission is
significant, because as the March
issue of Science noted, “about 47 percent of Americans overall
report getting news from social media often or sometimes, with Facebook
as, by far, the dominant source.”
O Lord! Now it is ¨context or magnitude¨ that is missing, ¨so readers know what matters¨.
No, it is not ¨context¨ or ¨magnitude¨ that are missing: It
is the presence of billions of low IQs
(half of mankind has an IQ under 100) and of very many anonymous stupid or ignorant folks,
who now can all ¨write¨ and scold
whomever they please. (And no: You won´t teach them much by
If you have any success, you will only be discriminated and scolded by
the majority of the stupid or ignorant.)
Then there is this:
This is also utter bullshit.
First, Twitter is not a good subject because people then were
limited to 148 characters, which makes it very
difficult not to write in slogans and impossible to give rational
arguments. Second ¨propaganda¨ (?!) does NOT ¨spread further and faster than facts do¨: Bold sensation probably does, but
that is not what is being claimed here. Third, ¨people¨ are NOT
¨drawn to falsities¨: They are drawn to what interests
them. Fourth, ¨the spread of fake
news¨ is itself a
term. Fifth, to speak of ¨pathologies¨ in this context (i) is total propaganda and (ii) is utterly false (and I am
a psychologist) - and those who spread lies and falsities
unwittingly probably are stupid
or ignorant, but these terms are totally avoided.
week, Science published a
study that analyzed 126,000 rumors spread on Twitter and
traced how propaganda spreads further and faster than facts do. People
are drawn to falsities, like to share it, and social media
super-charges that process, its authors said. In a separate article, 15
social scientists warned that dynamic is fanning political extremism.
“Our call is to promote
interdisciplinary research to reduce the spread of fake news and to
address its underlying pathologies it has revealed,” the co-authored
Science of Fake News," concluded. “We must redesign our information
ecosystem… We must answer a fundamental question: How can we create a
news ecosystem and culture that values and promotes truth?”
Sixth, in any case this supposedly ¨scientific report¨ published in
Science, was not science but bullshit - as is, alas, much of the social
Finally, here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
collective freakout going on regarding the effects of social media on
society as a whole,” Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic
Media at MIT, whose research focuses on media and social change, said
in an email. “I’d classify the concerns I’ve heard into four general
areas: Social media is addictive and bad for us; social media platforms
are killing journalism; social media is being manipulated by bad actors
to spread propaganda; and social media leads to ideological isolation
Well... yes: I accept
this, but it is not saying much.
the Trump Circus of Corruption
This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and
originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:
I say. Then again,
probably because I am a psychologist, I can give at least one fairly
good explanation why so many ¨future career[s]¨
are ¨going to be destroyed
Axios' Jonathan Swan quoted a White House staffer summing up the
atmosphere these days:
That is in apparent reference
to the fact that people are being summarily dismissed and marched out
of the White House without even being able to gather their personal
items, almost on a daily basis.
This is the most toxic
working environment on the planet. Usually tough times bring people
together. But right now this atmosphere is ripping people apart.
There's no leadership, no trust, no direction and [at] this point
there's very little hope. Would you want to go to work every day not
knowing whether your future career was going to be destroyed without
My reason - and it seems now at least 70,000 psychologists and
psychiatrists agree with this - is that Donald Trump is not sane.
You may disagree, but if you do my guess is that you are not a
psychologist. Also, I do agree with those who say this is not all
of the reason - but I think it is a significant part of it.
Here is more:
One thing Trump's
game of musical chairs is accomplishing is that it's become almost
quaint to worry about the massive amount of corruption within the
administration. It is now so commonplace that when it becomes public
there is a moment of hand-wringing in the press and then ... nothing
happens. For all the turnover in this administration, virtually none of
it has been because of the self-dealing and profiteering that's
reported virtually every day.
Yes, this is true. Here is more
on the Trumps and the Kushners (not reporting on others mentioned in
Then there are the
Trumps and the Kushners. The emoluments issue seems to have
disappeared, despite the fact that foreign governments are routinely
spending massive sums at Trump hotels to curry favor with the
president, and God only knows what they're doing at his foreign
properties. Donald Trump continues to do almost weekly promotional
appearances at this resorts and golf properties, charging people big
bucks for access to him and pocketing the money.
Quite so. And this is on
Trump´s children (all of whom are completely unqualified for
the work they are supposed to do in Trump´s government):
I wrote about
Donald Trump Jr.'s Indian adventure awhile back, selling foreign policy
and condos in one whirlwind trip. Now it looks like Ivanka Trump
herself is finally coming under scrutiny. She did not divest her
holdings in the Trump Organization and is receiving more than a million
dollars a year from projects with state-owned companies around the
world, even as she works in the White House without proper clearance
and travels the globe as a representative of the U.S. government. It's
astonishing that she is getting away with this.
Yes again, although I am
reprinting this mostly because she is said to get ¨more than a million dollars a year¨ from projects she is not qualified
for. O well... and this is a recommended article.
Can't We Talk About the T-Word with Trump's CIA Pick?
This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts
Yes indeed. Here is some on the
spirit of solidarity that marks many (not all) ¨former U.S. intelligence officials¨:
The key to defending the
practice of torture is never to use the word.
When the Bush
administration wanted to torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, it
interrogation techniques." When President Obama decided not to
investigate Bush's torture regime, he said it was "time
to look forward, not backwards."
Now that deputy CIA director
Gina Haspel, a leading participant in the torture regime, has been
nominated to run the agency, this linguistic evasion is returning with
The Cipher Brief, a blog run by
former U.S. intelligence officials, solicited
comments on Haspel’s nomination from six former U.S. officials. All
of them praised her. All but one alluded to her record of torture. All
avoided using the T-word.
I say, although I admit
that while not knowing this it also does not amaze me. Here is some
None disputed Haspel’s role
in torturing suspected terrorists, because there is no dispute. The executive
summary of a still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee report
describes the torture regime in (literally) agonizing detail at
“Detention Site Green,” the code name for the CIA detention facility in
Thailand that Haspel ran starting in July 2002.
Haspel, the agency now
says, did not oversee the torture of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi member of
al-Qaeda who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. But she knew about it
and destroyed evidence of it. What did she know?
I agree. Here is one of
quite a few who are named and quoted in the article:
Former NSA and CIA
director Michael Hayden: "She’s got a confirmation issue, and
they will be coming out of the woodwork with her previous history. But
that’s a fight I think the president wouldn’t mind having. 'I’m tough
on terrorism. These people aren’t.' So it may be personally difficult
for Gina, but I do think she gets confirmed.… Gina Haspel did
precisely what the agency and the nation asked her to do.”
I only remark
that while I agree with Hayden that ¨Gina Haspel did precisely what the agency¨ ¨asked her to do¨, although I and
everyone else who does not belong to ¨the agency¨ are not
allowed by ¨the agency¨ to know ¨precisely¨ what ¨the agency¨ wanted, although I am quite
willing to believe that they told her she could fuck all international
laws that forbid torture, and torture as she pleased, as long as she
kept this a secret (and called it ¨interrogation¨). O, and I disagree
with Hayden about ¨the nation¨.
And to the best of my
knowledge Haspels did do what ¨the agency¨ wanted her to do. Here is
one important reason:
Yes indeed. And this
was maintained by the USA for 17 years now... This is
a recommended article.
The underlying assumption
of all of Haspel’s defenders is that, even if torture is immoral,
illegal or ineffective, U.S. intelligence officials must be free to do
whatever they want in defense of “national security.” That was the
attitude that launched the torture program 17 years ago, and neither
failure nor disgrace seems to have dispelled it.
Surrender On Torture Is Nearly Complete
This article is by Marcy Wheeler on Common Dreams. It starts
Yes, that is all correct.
And there is this about Haspel´s fondness for torturing coupled to her
fondness of keep all evidence for this a secret:
In the same tweet he used
to unceremoniously fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Tuesday
morning, President Donald Trump announced
the twin nominations of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s
replacement and CIA veteran Gina Haspel as the new head of the nation’s
premier intelligence agency. Haspel, the CIA’s current deputy director,
now stands to become the agency’s first female director, despite the
fact that she previously supervised a CIA black site where detainees
were tortured and was later implicated in the destruction of video
evidence of those interrogations.
The news of her nomination was met with mild
skepticism by some Democratic senators, but assuming she doesn’t get
bottled up behind an impasse over Pompeo, nothing suggests her eventual
confirmation is in serious doubt.
What’s not in
dispute is Haspel’s
role in the cover-up: Once Abu Zubaydah and Nashiri were shipped to
their next stop in a series of black sites, Haspel started her
multiyear campaign to destroy the videos that showed their torture,
which indisputably contradicted written authorizations and records.
Defying the warnings of multiple Democrats, the director of national
intelligence and several judges, Haspel in November 2005, as chief of
staff for the director of clandestine services, sent a cable ordering
officers to stick the tapes into an industrial-strength shredder.
And this is from the ending of
It may well be, as her supporters argue,
that Haspel is the best, most competent, least politicized nominee
we’re likely to get from Trump.
I say - and I have a pertinent question: If
so, how extra-ordinarily monstrous are the other possible
nominees? I am just asking 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 (!!).