from May 8, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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.
2. Crisis Files
These are five crisis files (today four + one non-crisis file)
that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from May 8, 2018
1. CIA Nominee Gina Haspel May Testify for First Time in
Public About Her
The 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:
Role in Torture at Black Site
2. The Giuliani News No One Is Talking About
Financial Hardships of Trump’s Friends
4. Systematic News Suppression in Today’s U.S.
5. Scientists Reanimate Disembodied Pigs’ Brains – But For a
It Could Be a Living Hell
Nominee Gina Haspel May Testify for First Time in Public About Her Role
in Torture at Black Site
article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the
administration’s push to install the CIA’s controversial deputy
director, Gina Haspel, as the agency’s new director faces mounting
scrutiny as Haspel is set to begin a Senate confirmation hearing this
Wednesday. The Washington Post reports the hearing almost didn’t
happen, after Haspel attempted to withdraw her name from consideration
over opposition to her role in the CIA’s torture program under George
W. Bush. Wednesday’s hearing will mark the first time Haspel has been
forced to speak publicly about her role in the U.S. torture program and
the destruction of CIA tapes documenting the
torture. Haspel’s nomination as CIA director
has been “sold like a box of cereal” by the agency, says John Prados,
senior fellow at the National Security Archive, but with no
transparency about her record. As of now, says Prados, there’s no
public document listing Haspel’s duties in her more than 30 years at
I say, for although I
wrote about Haspel
before, I did not know that ¨there’s no public document listing Haspel’s duties in her
more than 30 years at the CIA¨. And my own position on
Haspel is that (i) somebody about whom there are ¨no public document listing [her] duties¨ for more than 30 years is completely
unqualified to head the CIA, while also (ii) somebody who is known
to have tortured (which is illegal) is (and to have disappeared
evidence about it) indeed merely for that reason is totally
unqualified to head the CIA.
Then again, these are my opinions. Here is more from the
The above gives some of the
backgrounds. And Prados is quite right that you cannot
rationally make someone the head of the CIA without knowing her
record. (And that is also quite independent of whether she did torture,
though indeed I suppose she did.)
GOODMAN: We begin today’s
show with the Trump administration’s push to install the CIA’s
controversial deputy director, Gina Haspel, as the CIA’s new director.
Haspel is set to begin a Senate confirmation hearing this Wednesday.
But according to The Washington Post, the hearing almost
didn’t happen. The paper reported Sunday Haspel attempted to withdraw
her name from consideration over opposition to her role in the CIA’s
torture program under George W. Bush. Haspel was responsible for
running a secret CIA black site in Thailand
in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded 83 times and tortured in
other ways. The former acting director of the CIA
confirmed that in 2005 Haspel personally oversaw the destruction of
videotapes showing torture at the black site.
Also Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted,
“There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel. Any Democrat who
claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but
opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite,” Sanders tweeted.
John Prados, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you begin by
talking about Gina Haspel’s record?
PRADOS: Well, that’s the
problem—isn’t it?—is that no one knows Gina Haspel’s record. And
everyone is asking the agency to release this information for the
purpose of her nomination. And that’s actually one of the basic
problems in this whole situation.
Here is some evidence of John Kiriakou,
who was imprisoned because he was the first member of the CIA
who stepped forward publicly to reveal that the CIA did use
waterboarding (known as torture at least since the early 1600s):
think this very well may be true, in part because I know (after 40
years of illness that until March of this year was systematically
denied to be a ¨serious chronic disease¨, in spite of the fact that
it was, all these 40 years) that there are far
(i.a. amongst bureaucrats, politicians, CEOs and also medical doctors)
that admit there are.
GOODMAN: (..) Kiriakou
personally knew Haspel when he worked at the CIA.
This is what he said.
KIRIAKOU: We did call
her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use
force. You know, there was a group of officers in the CIA’s
Counterterrorism Center, when I was—when I was serving there, who—I
hate to even make the accusation out loud, but I’m going to say it: who
enjoyed using force. Yeah, everybody knew that torture didn’t work.
That’s not even the issue. Lots of different things work. Was it moral,
and was it ethical, and was it legal? I think the answers to those
questions are very clearly no. But Gina and people like Gina did it, I
think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake
of torture, not for the sake of gathering information.
And here is more by Prados:
JOHN PRADOS: (..) In
any case, I want to also add to the conversation about the director of
the CIA being sold, actually, like a box of
cereal. For example, to this day, this morning, there is no publicly
available document that even tells you what were Gina Haspel’s duty
stations during her 30-year career at the CIA.
We know the things that we talked about earlier in the program, and
that’s almost the only open information that exists. There was actually
a CIA release that gave some details about
Ms. Haspel’s career. But if you went to the CIA’s website, you could
not find that document. That’s how open the agency’s approach to
informing the American public on this is.
agree, and this is a recommended article.
Giuliani News No One Is Talking About
article is by David Cay
Johnston on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Was Donald Trump starved
for cash in fall 2016, when 62 million voters cast ballots for a
candidate who told them repeatedly that he was “rich—really, really
The way that Trump
“funneled” hush money to a porn actress just 11 days before the
election sure makes it look that way. This would be consistent with
four decades of Trump claiming vast wealth, but not being able to pay
his bills as they come due.
As you read what follows
keep two thoughts in mind:
- First, would any
billionaire need months to pay a $130,000 bill?
- Second, there is not now
and never has been a shred of verifiable evidence that Trump is or ever
was a billionaire, a myth I first demolished using his own net worth
statement prepared for a lawsuit in spring 1990.
Trump called me a liar back
then for four months until he had to put into the public record his
bankers’ assessment of his riches. The bankers calculated that Trump
was worth a negative $295 million.
In case you don´t
know who Johnston is, read the above link: He is a specialist
on - among other things - Donald Trump, whom he has known for 30 years.
And as to Trump´s
wealth: Almost all that I know about Trump is that he is a
major liar. And since he has refused to give any proof of his
financial worth, I think it is a fair assumption that one of the very
many things Trump lies about are his finances.
Here is more:
Well... I agree this is
evidence, but I do not regard this as strong, among other
things because I have heard from several sides that Trump is a very
slow payer anyway.
Rudy Giuliani revived the
issue of whether Trump merely poses as a billionaire during his
Wednesday night chat with Fox entertainer Sean Hannity. No doubt that
was not what he intended.
During a rambling chat full
of legal nonsense, meandering syntax and ludicrous assertions that
captivated reporters and pundits, Giuliani also revealed that Trump
took four months or more to pay the hush money to Stephanie Clifford,
better known as the porn star Stormy Daniels. The news focused on the
admission that Trump did pay the hush money, showing that the president
and the White House lied earlier.
But the more significant
revelation came when Giuliani said that it took Trump four months or
more to pay the bill.
Here is the last bit by Johnston:
of DCReport know, Trump last year claimed to be worth just
$1.4 billion. That figure, attested to by Trump under penalty of
perjury, is a nearly 90 percent reduction from the more than $10
billion he touted on the campaign trail.
Even that much reduced net
worth figure is grossly inflated.
Federal ethics laws are so
riddled with loopholes that we have no idea how deeply Trump is in
debt. Debts owed via partnerships are not reported, for example.
From the unreported debts
we do know about, thanks to the diligence of New York Times reporters,
we can report that Trump’s net worth is significantly less than $1
But this is decent
evidence, I think. And this is a recommended article.
3. The Financial
Hardships of Trump’s Friends
article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
recently granted to an oil refinery owned by Carl Icahn a so-called
“financial hardship” waiver. The exemption allows the refinery to
avoid clean air laws, potentially saving Icahn millions of dollars.
Icahn is not exactly a
case. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, his net worth is
billion. Over the last four decades as a corporate raider, Icahn has
CEOs to cut payrolls, abandon their communities, and outsource jobs
order to generate more money for him and other investors.
In 1985, after winning
the now-defunct Trans World Airlines, Icahn stripped its assets,
nearly $500 million in profits, and left the airline more than
million in debt. Former TWA chair C.E. Meyer Jr. called Icahn “one of
greediest men on earth.”
In brief, Icahn - who
seems to own over $20 billion - is one of the least needy
Americans, but under Trump´s government nevertheless gets subsidies
that make him millions.
Here is some on the real
Meanwhile, real financial
hardships are bearing down on Americans who are
getting no help at all. Flint’s water is still unsafe. Much of Puerto
still in the dark. Last week, HUD Secretary Ben “Poverty-Is-A-State-Of-Mind”
large rent increases for families receiving housing assistance,
help to the poor “creates
perverse consequences, such as discouraging these
families from earning more money.”
already working hard, many paying half their monthly incomes in rent.
I agree with Reich that
(very probably) most low-income Americans are working hard, but I add
that Ben Carson (who seems to be a madman, in my psychologist´s eyes)
is intentionally slandering the poor (as indeed many
rich do, and seem to like).
Here is more:
Trump and his enablers on
Hill are proposing that people receiving food stamp work at least
a week. Yet over 40 million Americans – including many children and
are already struggling with hunger, and food stamps average only $1.40
person per meal.
In contrast to their
the poor need less help in order to work harder, Trump and his enablers
regulatory and tax handouts to Carl Icahn and his ilk by arguing the
more in order to work harder.
Yes indeed, and this is very
sick. Here is Reich´s ending:
I agree with Reich - and
having seen that almost half of those who voted in the presidential
elections voted for Trump, my own inference is that many
of these do not realize how they have been frauded and abused
by Trump. And this is a recommended article.
We are rapidly becoming a
just two groups. The first are those without any voice, vulnerable to
financial hardship, who are losing whatever meager assistance they had.
many white working-class Trump supporters.
The second are those like
Icahn – powerful enough to extract benefits from Trump and the GOP by
they need such incentives in order to invest. But their neediness is a
and the only significant investments they’re making are pay-offs to
Far more Americans belong
first group than to the second. The question is when they will realize
News Suppression in Today’s U.S.
article is by Eric Zuesse on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
Ray McGovern was a
CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s chaired the National
Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President’s Daily Brief. But
now retired, he’s a critic of the very same government he had spent his
career representing, and especially of its virtually fully controlled
press, which he claims misrepresents systematically, as if it were
owned outright by the controlling owners of the very same
mega-corporations that manufacture and sell weapons to the Pentagon and
to its allied militaries in Europe and the Middle East. Basically as a
“military-industrial complex” scam upon the public, but really as a
military-industrial-media complex, which is even more powerful than the
more limited type that Eisenhower had warned against.
This was a hesitant review
because I dislike Zuesse and like McGovern. It was
resolved by noting that the above bit by Zuesse seems all correct,
while the other two bits I use from this article are quotes by McGovern.
Here is the first bit of McGovern:
I’m thinking that
Chuck Schumer [..] said, No, no. Arms control, no, no. We’re making the
devil incarnate Vladimir Putin. Don’t mention arms control talks.
So that’s the reality in
the mainstream media. When Trump had the audacity to say, You know,
Putin won the election, he’s going to be around for six more years.
Probably I’ll send him a congratulatory telegram [..]. His staff says,
No, no, no, don’t congratulate him. No, no, no, don’t congratulate him.
Well, he not only congratulates him but he says, You know, the
situation is such that we ought to get together sooner rather than
later, and we ought to talk about arms control.
In case you don´t know about Chuck Schumer,
this was a link. But this is the bit that made me review this
I think I completely
agree. As to the military-industrial
complex, this is a link to what it meant around 1960
(nearly 60 years ago) - and here are Eisenhower´s
words from January 1961:
What I’m trying to say here
is that the only conclusion here is the old, hackneyed
military-industrial-Congressional-intelligence-media complex. You ran a
conference on the fiftieth anniversary of Eisenhower’s speech on the
military-industrial complex. Well, it’s gotten worse, astronomically
worse. And the people who make the arms, the people who sell arms, the
people that Pope Francis, to his credit, before Congress two and a half
years ago called “the blood-drenched arms traders,” those are the
people that are running the show.
And I fear Ray McGovern is quite
right in saying that the present ¨military-industrial- Congressional-intelligence-media complex¨ is (bolding added) ¨astronomically worse¨ (and also very much more powerful)
than the military-industrial
complex that Eisenhower warned against. This is a recommended
A vital element in keeping
the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready
for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to
risk his own destruction...
This conjunction of an
immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the
American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even
spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the
federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this
development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.
Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very
structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must
guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought
or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for
the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We
must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or
democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert
and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge
industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods
and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together. [emphasis
Reanimate Disembodied Pigs’ Brains – But For a Human Mind, It Could Be
a Living Hell
article is by Benjamin Curtis on AlterNet and originally on The
Conversation. It also does not belong to the crisis series, but
I am a philosopher and a psychologist, and the theme of surviving death
interests me, somewhat.
This article starts as follows:
I had missed this, but I
have meanwhile read (I think since the 1990-ies, in fact) rather a lot
about dead people who let themselves (or their brains) be frozen, so as
to enable future scientists
In a recent meeting at the
National Institutes of Health, Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan
revealed that his team has successfully reanimated
the brains of dead pigs recovered from a slaughterhouse. By pumping
them with artificial blood using
a system called BrainEx, they were able to bring them back to
“life” for up to 36 hours.
Admittedly, the pigs’
brains did not regain consciousness, but Sestan acknowledged that
restoring awareness is a possibility. Crucially, he also disclosed that
the technique could work on primate brains (which includes humans), and
that the brains could be kept alive
But could you really
survive the death of your body? And would such an existence be
worthwhile anyway? In fact, the answers to these questions are far from
to reanimate them. (It seems Marvin Minsky -
who died some two years ago - is one of them.)
In any case, I agree with Curtis (a lecturer in philosophy) that ¨the answers to these questions¨ - namely:
about what one´s mind would be like if it were
reanimated - ¨are far from clear¨.
Here is some more:
Actually, I have myself no
idea at all of what this kind of ¨survival¨ (between quotes,
because even if there is something like you when you are reanimated,
this is only a small percentage of what was your body) would be like.
Even if your conscious
brain were kept alive after your body had died, you would have to spend
the foreseeable future as a disembodied “brain
in a bucket”, locked away inside your own mind without access to
the senses that allow us to experience and interact with the world and
the inputs that our brains so crave. The knowledge and technology
needed to implant your brain into a new body may be decades, if not
So in the best case
scenario, you would be spending your life with only your own thoughts
for company. Some have argued that even with a fully functional body, immortality
would be tedious. With absolutely no contact with external reality,
it might just be a living hell.
And - speaking for myself - I have no desire whatsoever
to be reanimated (and I want to be burned after I have died), while I
also think that, at least for now, the chances that one will be
reanimated (successfully, and more or less as one was before one died)
are quite small.
Besides, only very few have been prepared, so far, to be
reanimated at some time in the future (if and when this is possible);
these very few had to be quite wealthy; and they are
also attempting to do what no
living thing ever did (outside of
religious fantasies), namely to die and then to be reanimated.
I will not discuss ethical questions here, but I do say
that for my part I was not there before I was born, and I hope (and
believe) I will not be there after I have died, and I have no problems
with these (supposed) facts whatsoever.
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 (!!).