who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. One Day
After Warning Russia of Civilian Casualties, the
U.S. Bombs a Hospital in
2. UN torture investigator
says UK plan to scrap Human
Rights Act is ‘dangerous’
3. The Photos That Helped End
Child Labor in the United
4. George Carlin: How language
is used to mask truth
5. By the way...animals
This is a Nederlog
of Sunday, October 4, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. It is also a sunday, and there were few interesting crisis items.
I counted 3, to which I added a 4th because it is a nice video I like,
and then a 5th which is not quite what it seems: Item
1 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald that very clearly
the hypocrisy of the American government; item 2 is
about a warning that the UN torture investigator gave when he heard
about new British "human rights" (which will revise the international
version); item 3 is about a quite fascinating item
that shows child labor in the USA, a mere 100 years ago (and I would
not be amazed if these days will return, especially if it is up to the
rich); item 4 is a nice video by George Carlin on
euphemisms and hypocrisy; and item 5 is about World
Animal Day and the reliability of information: You can't trust
Wikipedia, and the same goes for most other sources of information.
1. One Day After Warning Russia of Civilian
Casualties, the U.S. Bombs a Hospital in Afghanistan
item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Yesterday afternoon, U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations
Samantha Power marched to Twitter to proclaim:
“we call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian
oppo[sition and] civilians.” Along with that decree, she posted a
statement from the U.S. and several of its closest authoritarian allies
– including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UK – warning Russia that
civilian casualties “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”
Early this morning, in
the Afghan city of Kunduz, the U.S. dropped
bombs on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins
Sans Frontières (MSF)). The airstrike killed at least 9 of the
hospital’s medical staff, and seriously injured dozens of patients.
“Among the dead was the Afghan head of the hospital, Abdul Sattar,”
reported The New York Times.
In fact - see below - 9
staff members were killed, 19 were wounded, of whom 5 were "critical".
And this was just the staff.
And this is a classical
instance of talking one way, and acting the precisely
opposite way: The Russians are blamed for the very things the
Americans - who do it more - are praised for, by themselves.
Here is some more:
MSF’s Executive Director, said
the medical charity “condemns in the strongest possible terms the
horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.”
that “all parties [to the] conflict, including in Kabul &
Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of
MSF facilities in Kunduz,” and that
the “precise location of MSF Kunduz hospital [was] communicated to
all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.”
Worst of all, from MSF itself:
In fact - see below - “officials
of MSF … told Reuters that they ‘frantically phoned’ NATO and
Washington DC, as bombs rained on the hospital for ‘nearly an hour.'"
Here is Glenn Greenwald's conclusion:
This last week has
been a particularly
gruesome illustration of continuous U.S. conduct under the
War on Terror banner, including under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning
president who celebrates himself for “ending two wars” (in the same
two countries where the U.S. continues to drop bombs). The formula
by now is clear: bombing whatever countries it wants, justifying it all
by reflexively labeling their targets as “terrorists,” and then
dishonestly denying or casually dismissing the civilians they slaughter
as “collateral damage.”
Yes, indeed: precisely
so. Here are three (partial) updates Greenwald later added:
U.S. officials went to TIME Magazine yesterday to
announce that Russia will be creating more terrorists than
they kill as a result of misguided airstrikes in Syria. “We believe if
you inadvertently kill innocent men, women and children, then there’s a
backlash from that,” Lieut. General Bob Otto, the Air Force’s deputy
chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance said.
“We might kill three and create 10 terrorists. It really goes back to
the question of are we killing more than were making?”
That was the American military
blaming the Russian for what the Americans are doing themselves on a
far larger scale.
Here are the other two updated that wrre mentioned above.
This is a fine article that is
Al Jazeera reports
that the hospital bombed by the U.S. “is the only medical facility in
the region that can deal with major injuries.” Nonetheless, “officials
of MSF … told Reuters that they ‘frantically phoned’ NATO and
Washington DC, as bombs rained on the hospital for ‘nearly an hour.'”
III: The latest casualty figures from MSF:
torture investigator says UK plan to scrap Human Rights
Act is ‘dangerous’
article today is
by Mark Townsend on The Guardian:
This starts as
The UN special rapporteur
on torture has accused David
Cameron of a “cold-hearted ” approach to the migration crisis, warning
that plans to scrap the Human Rights Act risk subverting
international obligations designed to protect people fleeing persecution.
Juan Méndez said the UK’s
intention to replace the act
with a British bill of rights was a “dangerous and pernicious”
development. Méndez said that the government’s proposals indicated a
lowering of protection for people that would leave individuals at risk
of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and being refused asylum and
deported despite facing mistreatment.
He said such a move could
contravene Britain’s obligations
under international law and set “a very bad example for the rest of the
world”, potentially allowing other states to dilute their levels of
protection for vulnerable people.
“The problem is that the
line between cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment and torture is very difficult to draw. If a country
is going to mistreat you, then what is going to stop them torturing
you? This would be a dangerous development, a disastrous reading
because it would violate the object and purpose of the norm.
“It is not to give
governments flexibility in deciding who
stays; it is to protect people from torture and ill-treatment. You
could call this a bad-faith interpretation,” he said.
That is about it.
There is more in the article, but I quote just the end:
Justice minister Dominic
Raab said: “This is idle
speculation. We will set out our proposals for full consultation in due
course, and it’s irresponsible for any UN official to criticise our
plans without knowing what they are.”
Let me put it thus:
Menendez knows the Human Rights Act quite well; he also knows that the
present Tory government seems to contain quite a few moral degenerates;
and he tried to warn you. But no, wasted energy...
3. The Photos That Helped End Child Labor
in the United States
next article today is
by Mark Murrmann on Mother Jones:
This starts as
In the early
1900s, Lewis Hine left his job as a schoolteacher to work as a
photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, investigating and
documenting child labor in the United States. As a sociologist, Hine
was an early believer in the power of photography to document work
conditions and help bring about change. He traveled the country, going
to fields, factories, and mines—sometimes working undercover—to take
pictures of kids as young as four years old being put to work.
In 2004, retired social
worker Joe Manning set out to see what had happened to as many of the
kids in Hine's photos as he could find. He's documented his
findings—showing the lives of hundreds of subjects—on his website, MorningsOnMapleStreet.com.
the image willl lead you to the site, where the pictures are 4
The photography has
the following text under it:
the end of the day in a Pennsylvania coal mine. The smallest boy near
the far right, is a nipper. On his right is Arthur, a driver. Jo, on
Arthur's right, is a nipper. Frank, the boy on the left end of the
photo, is a nipper and works a mile underground from the shaft, which
is 5,000 feet down.
Note that the six
children in front are around 10 or 12 years old; that they had worked a
10 hour day; and that this happened a mere 100 years ago in the USA
("Land of the free, home of the brave"), and was not really made better
until the New Deal of the 1930ies.
There are many more similar pictures in the last dotted link: I found
all of them quite fascinating, although in fact they are
about cruel and harsh child abuse.
Originally, I planned to give this item my own title: "What the
rich want", but I did not, although that is what I think:
So here you have images
of how it was, a mere hundred years ago (and indeed 85 years ago) and
how it very well may be in 25 to 50 years from now, when there will be
many more people, and it will be a lot warmer, and the rich may have
divided the world into the few who have nearly everything and the many
who have nearly nothing, and who will not eat if they don't
work, regardless of their age, health or condition, even if they are
four years old.
- I do not
believe in any necessary course of moral improvement in history.
- I do
believe that the few rich have nearly always nearly everywhere
exploited as much as they could, for the simple reason that this was
most profitable for them.
- I believe that if
it is up to the - majority of the - rich, then these pictures may give
a good view of the future of the American workers.
Carlin: How language is used to mask truth
The next item is not an article but a video by George Carlin on the
power of euphemism:
is here because I like it and think it is instructive.
the way... animals
know it is World Animal Day today?
I realized it yesterday evening, I suppose because it was annually
given attention to at school, when I was between 7 and 12. But that is
meanwhile around 55 (or more) years ago, and I don't know - having
children nor grandchildren since I am ill a very long time -
this is done now. (It seems to be, still, in Holland: See below.)
While I like animals (without sentimentality, and some kinds
considerably more than others) that is not the reason this item is
It is here because it illustrates the unreliability of
To start with, here is the complete item for "World Animal Day"
("Redirected from Animal day") on the English Wikipedia:
World Animal Day
is an international day of action for animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on October
4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of
It started in 1931 at a
convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy who wished to
highlight the plight of endangered species.
And that's it. I
found that pretty minimalistic, and tried the Dutch version, which is
"Dierendag". Here is a link to the item:
This has no less than
6 paragraphs, three pictures and four links. And here enters the
reliability of information, for an international day that exists
now for 85 years, at least, and that is quite
According to the Dutch item (1) world animal day did not start
in 1931, but in 1930 (2) world animal day did not start "at a convention
of ecologists in Florence" "in 1931" but at an international conference
of the associations for the protection of animals in Vienna in 1929,
and (3) the idea for a world animal day was not started by ecologists
at all, but by one Ilse Winter in Brno, who proposed the idea in a
letter of 1927 to the head of the international organization
for the protection of animals. (4) In the Dutch files I consulted, nothing
was said about "endangered species".
So here we have in
one and the same encyclopedia two completely opposed stories
about the foundations of an international day that exists 85 years
now, and which is not contentious, nor controversial, nor much
politicized, and which is
still - in Holland, at least - widely practised.
Somebody at Wikipedia
- I guess the English one - must have been imagining things.
Whatever the explanation: This is a good illustration
of how careful one must be with - especially - all journalism,
and also much printed information, including encyclopedias, also when
on line: Even bits about World Animal Day, that exists for 85
years now, and is quite uncontroversial, may get completely
false reports, that also remain standing for years on end. 
 Incidentally: Will I report this to
Wikipedia? No. I have several years ago tried to correct an obvious
printing mistake and ran into a pretty awful bureaucratic ritual, and
since then have decided to use it but never to address it.