Thursday, October 26, 2017

Crisis: Republican Silence, West Point, On The NYT, Kids´ Screens, Nuclear War

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 26, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Thursday
, October 26, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) 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.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from October 26, 2017
1. The Real Reason for Republicans’ Silence on
     Donald Trump

2. Teaching Revisionist History at West Point
3. NYT’s Assault on Press Freedom
4. With Kids' Screen Time Surging, New Project Aims
     to Challenge Corporate Profiteering

5. How To Prevent Nuclear War
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:

1. The Real Reason for Republicans’ Silence on Donald Trump

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:

It’s less striking that a few Republican congressmen have publicly denounced President Trump’s conduct than that most of their colleagues have not. Their fellow legislators have silently accepted his outrages in exchange for policies they’ve always wanted.

At his inauguration Mr. Trump said his presidency was about “transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the American people.” But he and his allies in Congress are transferring power to Wall Street, fossil fuel companies, the chemical industry and other special interests, and are stoking an anti-populist bonfire to incinerate protections for consumers and workers.

On Tuesday night the Senate, with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, followed the House in voting to overturn a rule that would have allowed consumers to file class-action lawsuits against banks and other financial institutions, rather than be forced to take their disputes to arbitration. The regulation, created after fraud and malfeasance by those businesses financially ruined thousands of Americans and almost wrecked the world economy, joins a series of Obama-era rules that Congress and Mr. Trump have shredded. Meanwhile, they have taken several actions to benefit the well-off at the expense of average Americans.

Yes indeed - and in fact the ¨Real Reason¨ mentioned in the title is given in the first paragraph: The Republicans

¨have silently accepted [Trump´s] outrages in exchange for policies they’ve always wanted.¨

There is a rather long list of Republican measures and policies that underline this fact, and the article ends as follows:

The House and Senate repealed a regulation that would have barred about 75,000 people suffering from conditions like schizophrenia and psychotic disorders — when such conditions prevent them from managing their own financial affairs — from buying a gun.

Still, Republicans in Congress have yet to achieve some of their grandest dreams, like huge tax cuts for the wealthy, and they are counting on Mr. Trump to deliver. Spoilsports like Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, may fret about the small stuff, like, as he said on the Senate floor on Tuesday, “the threats against principles, freedoms and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.” But what’s all that compared to a bonanza for special interests?

Indeed. And this is a recommended article (but don´t miss item 3 below).

2.  Teaching Revisionist History at West Point

This article is by Ed Edstrom on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:

In George W. Bush’s home state of Texas, if you are an ordinary citizen found guilty of capital murder, the mandatory sentence is either life in prison or the death penalty. If, however, you are a former president of the United States responsible for initiating two illegal wars of aggression, which killed 7,000 U.S. servicemen and at least 210,000 civilians, displaced more than 10 million people from their homes, condoned torture, initiated a global drone assassination campaign, and imprisoned people for years without substantive evidence or trial in Guantanamo Bay, the punishment evidently is to be given the Thayer Award at West Point.
Yes, that seems true (though the numbers seem understated). Then again, this also is the normal way things go: The poor are punished for doing the things that the rich are rewarded for.

Here is more by Ed Edstrom:
Academy graduates around the world—in dusty GP medium tents as well as Pentagon offices—all sit at the proverbial table where momentous, sometimes perverse decisions are regularly made. To invade or not to invade, to bomb or not to bomb, to torture, or not to torturethose are the questions. As the Trump era has reminded us, the U.S. military’s ability to obliterate all organized human life on Earth is beyond question. So it stands to reason that the types of beliefs pounded into cadets at West Point—the ones that will serve to guide them throughout their military careers—do matter.  To the classes of cadets now there, this award will offer a message: that George W. Bush and the things he did in his presidency are worth emulating. I could not disagree more.

I more or less agree, but I also think this is the normal course of events, indeed also in abnormal times (in which we live). But this is a recommended article.

3. NYT’s Assault on Press Freedom

This article is by Daniel Lazare on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

Once upon a time the danger to a free press came from the right. But since Russia-gate, liberals have been busy playing catch-up.

The latest example is a front-page article in Tuesday’s New York Times. Entitled “YouTube Gave Russian Outlet Portal Into U.S.,” it offers the usual blah-blah-blah about Kremlin agents engaging in the political black arts. But it goes a step farther by attempting to discredit a perfectly legitimate news organization.

Reporters Daisuke Wakabayashi and Nicholas Confessore begin by noting that RT, the Moscow-funded TV channel formerly known as “Russia Today,” is now an Internet powerhouse and then observes that when it became the first YouTube news channel to surpass one million views, YouTube Vice President Robert Kyncl “joined an RT anchor in a studio, where he praised RT for … providing ‘authentic’ content instead of ‘agendas or propaganda.’”

In fact, I have written quite a few reviews of articles that criticized ¨Russia-gate¨, and indeed always based on the same facts: These articles, that also tend to be full of suspicions and claims about Russia, never show any real evidence, for ¨the evidence¨ they do give (i) is always by anonymous sources that may be anyone, and (ii) never is real evidence.

The article in last Tuesday´s NYT is one more in a long series. Here is more by Daniel Lazare:

What’s going on here? Is the Times suggesting that truth is irrelevant and that the only thing that counts is where it originates? Is it arguing that what’s said matters less than who’s saying it – and that if it’s RT, WikiLeaks, or whomever, we must all stop up our ears so that the message will be blocked?

In fact, I think that is a kind reading, but it is minimally adequate. Here is one sum-up of the real situation with regards to real evidence about ¨Russia-gate¨:

The result of all this has been nonsense piled on top of nonsense. More than a year after the Democratic National Committee’s massive email dump, there is still no evidence that the Kremlin was responsible or even that it was a hack at all.

It does not exist. And indeed that does seem to me to be the case, which also implies that - certainly by now - the NYT is intentionally deceiving its readers (possibly because it strongly supports Hillary Clinton).

Then again, it will probably continue to do so, and this is a recommended article.

4. With Kids' Screen Time Surging, New Project Aims to
Challenge Corporate Profiteering

This article is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

As a new study shows surging use of hand-held devices by young children, a fresh initiative aims to tackle the growing trend while directly challenging corporations who exploit children's screen time in the name of profit.

In fact, here is some relevant evidence from lower down in the article that shows how much (American) people care for their children (and ¨It¨ is research):

It also fund that 42 percent of children 8 and younger now have their own tablet devices—a jump from less than 1 percent in 2011. Forty-two percent of parents also said say the TV is on "always" or "most of the time" at home.

This means that I give up. Here is more on what are - in effect - my reasons why:

"So often when we talk about screen time," he said, "we're talking about things like education, how it's affecting their learning, how it's affecting their attention, their sleep, affecting their relationships. Often missing from the story about screen time is that the entities who benefit most from children being on screens are corporations and marketers."

While on traditional television "a few rules still exist to limit the ways you can advertise to children," he explained, but with "mobile and online, essentially anything goes when it comes to marketing to children."

"One of the reasons that these new screens are so compelling and addicting," Golin warns, "is that they are deliberately designed to be that way for the benefit of corporations and the benefit of advertisers."

"That has to be part of the conversation," he said. "Screens are marketing devices. It's easy to forget that because we're all so addicted to them but they are."

That is, my reasons to give up are that it is obvious that ¨mobile and online, essentially anything goes when it comes to marketing to children¨ while it is also obvious that ¨[s]creens are marketing devices. It's easy to forget that because we're all so addicted to them but they are¨.

I am not, but I suppose most of the rest of the world is.

5. How To Prevent Nuclear War

This article is by Lisa Fuller on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

Everyone from Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Vladimir Putin to Steve Bannon and China agree: war with North Korea would be so horrific that it simply can’t happen. Up to one million people could die on the first day of such a war. At that rate, it would take two months to match the death toll of the whole of World War II.

According to Paul Edwards, an international security expert at Stanford University, the effect of a major nuclear war would be comparable to the “giant meteor believed to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.” Leading researchers Alan Robock and Owen Toon warn that even “a regional conflict has the potential to cause mass starvation worldwide.”

One problem is that president Trump does not agree; another problem is that I get no evidence whatsoever for the claim that it would ¨take two months to match the death toll of the whole of World War II¨ (I think myself that the parties in WW III will be there much sooner); and a third problem is that I deleted the e-mail address of Paul Edwards, that does not belong in a journalistic article.

As to the question the title poses - How To Prevent Nuclear War - ¨we¨ are offered the following ¨information¨:

It’s here that historical precedent may be useful. When we reflect on the Holocaust, for example, we tend to vilify prominent Nazi leaders like Adolf Eichmann who were “just following orders,” while extolling ordinary citizens like Oskar Schindler who used creative strategies to prevent atrocities.

Few of us believe we would have behaved like Eichmann. Many of us would like to think we would have acted like Schindler, and hundreds of others who have developed non-violent resistance when faced by the prospect of war and large-scale killing. The choice we face is the same today—and we have the strategies and tactics to make nonviolence work. But first we have to recognize the seriousness and urgency of the situation.

I am sorry but this is utter bullshit about ¨us¨ (and also not at all a ¨historical precedent¨):

¨Few of us believe we would have behaved like Eichmann. Many of us would like to think we would have acted like Schindler (...)¨

Here is the Dutch evidence: In Holland there lived considerably more than 120.000 Jews. Around 116.000 of these were murdered in WW II with the help of David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, who were the heads of the ¨Jewish Council¨ in WW II, and who made a deal with Willy Lages of the SS:

If Cohen and Asscher would help to provide the addresses of the Jews in Amsterdam, the SS would save the lives of them and their families, and would also leave their - large - riches in tact.

The SS did keep word. After the war, messrs Cohen and Asscher were covered by a member of the completely collaborating Dutch Supreme Court [2], who could prevent that these noble Dutchmen would (even) have to face a court.

In contrast, my non-Jewish father and non-Jewish grandfather were members of the Resistance in Holland, which was mostly by the 10,000 or so members of the Dutch Communist Party. They were betrayed (by Dutchmen) and they were convicted (by collaborating Dutch judges) to concentration camp imprisonments that my grandfather did not survive.

After the war, my communist parents were quite a few times described as "traitors" by many Dutchmen because they were communists. In the 1950ies, according to testimonies of both Jews and non-Jews, the Dutch - who by then had been informed that the Nazis had murdered approximately 6 million Jews - were more anti-Jewish than they had been before WW II.

As to Schindler: There were tens of millions of Germans who might have done as Schindler did, or who might have somehow resisted or protested. Extremely few did, especially after most of the leading communists and socialists had been arrested (in the early Thirties), and indeed of those who did resist or protest most were arrested and killed by the Gestapo.

My own lesson from what happened in WW II is that most of the Dutch and most of the non-Dutch under Nazi occupation would have behaved as did the great majorities of the Dutch and the non-Dutch in WW II: They would have collaborated - for in fact nearly all did.

And I don´t think that I can accept the testimonies about themselves that ¨most of us¨ believe about themselves: Their parents and their grandparents, given the real choice to resist the Nazis or to col- laborate with the Nazis collaborated, either because they were forced, or did not dare to resist, or were (partial) supporters of the Nazis. [3]

That is the evidence that I learned (but I am in a very small minority in Holland: my parents and grandparents did not collaborate in WW II).


I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).

[2] More precisely, there was one Jewish member of the Dutch Supreme Court, who was very rapidly dismissed by the Nazis. All the other Dutch Supreme Court members, like most Dutch judges and most Dutch policemen, collaborated with the Nazis, as if this was the normal Dutch reaction to being occupied by the Nazis. (It was.)

[3] In fact - I take it - the vast majority of the Dutch adults who lived under Nazi occupation did not dare to resist, and in fact almost all Dutch groups collaborated with the Nazis. The only exceptions I know of are the Dutch Communists and several much smaller radical Dutch Protestant groups that did go into the Resistance as groups. The Dutch Communists numbered around 10,000 in WW II, of whom 2,000 were murdered in WW II, while no communist was knighted after WW II - except for my father, who was knighted less than 3 months before he died in 1980 (but not for what he dared to do in WW II). And possibly this was a mistake.
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