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Nederlog

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Crisis: The Vietnam War, Trumpians, Remote Wars, Pollutions, Tax Havens

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Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 12, 2017 
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
November 12, 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 November 12, 2017
1. Veterans Ron Kovic, Oliver Stone on the True Cost
     of War

2. Proof Trump's Supporters Will Stand Behind Him
     No Matter What

3. Remote War And Public Air
4. That’s Not MY Greenhouse Gas!
5. The Ongoing Battle against Tax Havens
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. Veterans Ron Kovic, Oliver Stone on the True Cost of War

This article is by Emma Niles on Truthdig. These are some selections from a long interview
on Truthdig, that is presented well and also comes with a lot of linked in background material:
RS: So I think that also is a pretty good introduction to Oliver. Let me just say, Oliver was at Yale, growing up in a—father was a stockbroker, not going to give his whole history, but he was in George W. Bush’s class at Yale. And he can talk a little bit about it, but he left to join the Merchant Marines. He was in Vietnam, among other places, and then he ended up serving, he ended up being wounded, and Platoon is a story of his experience, in part. So why don’t you tell us about the making Born on the Fourth, and why Hollywood--let’s get to larger points here. How does Hollywood deal with war, that’s the subject; how does the media deal with war, and what has been your experience making three of, I would argue the three best movies made about war, at least in this country.
I think these are all good questions. To start with, here are the links to the Wikipedia for some background on Robert Scheer, Oliver Stone and Ron Kovic.

Here is part of Oliver Stone´s answer:
OS: (..) The problem, you saying to me, what is the obstacles for Hollywood and war films—and that is a very important point. … You have to realize that when it comes to war, killing people, shooting people, bombs, people dying—it’s a very political thing. … it’s very difficult to ... unless you’re some Third World country, to really tell it like it is. Every country gets wrapped up in its own sense of self and its own flag, and these things are so distorted through time, and the more you see of war films, it’s really hard to get through. Even on Born on the Fourth of July, and certainly on Platoon, I know of patriotic issues that came up. And we had to thread the needle, in a sense.
Yes, I think that is quite right. Here is more, on selling out:
RS: (...) And so let me ask you why, how? What are the obstacles? Can you have a meaningful life as an artist without selling out? What are the pressures you faced?

OS: To a degree, Bob, I think everything is degree. You know, I can only go so far along my path, and there is resistance everywhere, all along the way. And it’s how you deal with it. Some people are very good with resistance, some people get rigid, some people are flexible. I’ve had various reactions to it. The resistance—I feel like consciousness, the older you get, the more you figure out or know; maybe I’m wrong, maybe it goes the other way. But in other words, the deeper into the shit you get, into the swamp, you don’t get out that quick.
I think that is also right, and indeed Oliver Stone is one of the relatively few directors who took these risks, indeed probably in part because he did serve himself in Vietnam.

And here is Robert Scheer on power:
RS: And the Constitution of the United States, which is what Donald Trump seems to have missed here, but in Adams’ word, basically embodied the notion of limited government, the sovereignty of the individual, the rights of the individual, to hold and check power. Any power, OK? The power of the good guys, because after all, the king of England had at one point been thought to be the good. All right? And the argument was that uncontrolled power, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Right? It doesn’t matter what the society says, it doesn’t matter what its pretenses are, and it doesn’t matter even what its claim is on ideology, OK? Or religion. That if it’s unchecked power, and this power gets into wars and imperial conquests, you will lose the republic.
(..)
And so that would be my answer, is that when the United States decided that it had to reorder the world, for this country, and get into the very foreign entanglements that our founders won, they began to lose the idea of a republic governed by the free. Because you can lie about war, you can distort, you can frighten people, and so forth.
And here is Robert Scheer on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
RS: And the significance of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whatever else you think about them, it’s the first time that we said, it is legitimate—we reacted in World War II by bombing whole cities in Germany and Japan to demoralize the civilian population, no question. But with these bombs, we specifically said, we want to kill a large number of innocent civilians. That’s called terrorism. These were not, they cannot be used in a targeted way. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not militarily significant targets. So we said, we have the right to kill very large numbers of innocent people to make a political point. That’s what every terrorist says.
I think that is correct. There is considerably more in the original, that is recommended.

2. Proof Trump's Supporters Will Stand Behind Him No Matter What

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on AlterNet. It starts as follows, after stating that Trump has an approval rate of 33% (which seems the lowest for any American president, ever, or at least in recent history):

Trump is the most unpopular president in modern American history, that much is apparent. But what these numbers obscure, or at least elide, is the seemingly endless devotion of his voting bloc. A closer look at the data reveals that Trump's level of support has mostly held steady since August, before the collapse of his Obamacare replacement bill, the introduction of a plutocratic new tax proposal and the announcement of multiple indictments in Robert Mueller's collusion probe. For tens of millions of Americans, the president can do no wrong.

I should add that, speaking for myself, I am not much worried by this supposed fact, and that basically for two reasons.

My first reason is that this is for the most part a supposed fact. It may be true, but it also seems to be the case that so far most of Trump´s supporters have not been faced with considerable financial losses (if they can pay them) e.g. for health care.

And my second reason is that (i) I know for over 50 years that I am more intelligent than the large majority, and that I also can prove this is so by an excellent B.A. and an excellent M.A., while (ii) I have mean- while also given up on at least 50% of any electorate, for the simple reason that 50% of any large unsorted human group has an IQ that is maximally 100, and for me that means that at least 50% of any large unsorted human group is not able to properly - that is: rationally, with some relevant knowledge - think about political problems.

I am sorry, but these are the facts for me, and I am not going to waste time and energy trying to convert the stupid.

Here is some more:

Since Trump's election, mainstream and independent media alike have taken an intense interest in his supporters. How could they punch their ticket for someone so transparently unfit for office, and what would it take for them to finally bail? Dispatches like Kruse's remind us the answers to these questions have always been self-evident, even if they're only now being made explicit. While a handful of rural Pennsylvanians can never represent the whole of Trump nation, their intransigence in the face of mounting catastrophe suggests the president's base will be riding this train to the end of the line.

I say that most of Trump´s supporters (not: all) who do support a man who is ¨transparently unfit for office¨ do so because they are too stupid or too ignorant to judge the man rationally.

Also, I admit to being at least a bit angry because, while Sugarman does explicitly say that ¨the answers to these questions¨ - how can people be so backward to believe Trump´s promises - ¨have always been self- evident¨, I haven´t seen them in Sugerman´s article: Stupidity and ignorance. (I am sorry to say so, but I am neither and I am also not blind.)


3. Remote War And Public Air

This article is by Paul Rogers on Common Dreams and originally on OpenDemocracy.net. It starts as follows:

Afghanistan in 2016 saw 11,489 of its civilians killed in armed conflict, according to international observers. This was the highest number since external recording started in 2009. This year is expected to be at least as bad. The fighting season from May-October was particularly intense, with substantial losses among Afghan security personnel.

In short, there is no end in sight to the United States-led war in Afghanistan, even as its seventeenth year arrives. In fact, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups (AOGs) appear to be gaining ground.
Yes indeed - and this war is in its seventeenth year, which itself is quite crazy. But now a change is coming, although it is not the kind of change peaceful persons desire:

The emerging style of Trump’s wars can be measured by another valuable indicator: a subtle change in the quality of data from Afghanistan being made public. This is owed to the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2008, which established a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). This mouthful of a title disguises what has turned out to be an independent observer of the Afghan scene, delivering detailed quarterly reports for Congress and available online. The data from SIGAR accommodates copious information about the status of Afghan security – formally the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) – not least in terms of casualties, the rate of desertions and costs to the United States.

The portion of SIGAR's coming from the US military organisation that trains ANDSF has recently been classified, meaning it is no longer available to a wider audience.
That is to say: The war in Afghanistan goes on, but under Trump the war will be committed mostly in secret, which incidentally was also helped a lot by Nixon´s removal of the draft.

Here is the probable outcome:

Thus, even as Trump is willing to give the military more freedom of action and let the CIA undertake direct if covert operations against the Taliban, information on the actual state of Afghan security is closing up. That is yet another example of the steady move towards remote warfare.

A secret war is far less likely to be unpopular, the powers that be calculate. If the people don’t know, they can't cause awkward problems.

And that is it: In the USA you are supposedly living in a democracy, but the very rich command most things, while the draft was killed, and especially since 9/11, the killings of non-Americans by Americans are getting more and more secret.

This is a recommended article.


4. That’s Not MY Greenhouse Gas!

This article is by Paul Keenlyside on NakedCapitalism.com. It starts as follows:

Picture the following: a UK investor buys a coal mine in Africa. The coal is shipped to China where it powers factories that produce goods which are shipped to the UK for consumption. Citizens in the UK benefit financially from the coal extraction, and materially from the goods produced.

So who’s responsible for tackling the huge amounts of carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere along that supply chain? According to UN rules, it’s not the UK.

Under the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol before it, countries are only responsible for the greenhouse gases physically emitted within their borders. Unfortunately, this exclusive focus on ‘territorial’ emissions makes little sense in a globalised economy in which capital and goods flow across borders, and results in a completely misleading picture of where responsibility actually lies.

Yes, quite so - and this is one of many reasons why I didn´t believe in the Kyoto Protocol and I don´t believe in the Paris Agreement, and while the Paris Agreement may be better than nothing, it will not stop pollution.

Here is one example of why not, that I could not avoid to quote this bit on Dutch morals and Dutch incomes:

Take the Netherlands as an example. Between 1990 and 2014, the Netherlands reduced its annual domestic emissions by around 15%. That’s not great, and the average emissions for Dutch citizens are still far above the global average. But it’s not a bad direction of travel compared to other countries, and enough for the Dutch to enjoy a reputation of ‘climate leadership’ on the world stage.

Yet dig a little deeper, and you find that in 2014, Dutch investors were sat on interests in oil and gas extraction outside the EU of over $400 billion, and earnt $37 billion from these investments. If realised, Dutch investments in oil and gas would result in carbon dioxide emissions between 6.7 and 9.1 billion tonnes – up to fifty times the Netherlands’ annual domestic emissions. Worse, Dutch investors are still increasing their positions in oil and gas extraction abroad.

The Dutch are not climate leaders at all, and in fact make a lot of money selling pollution, just as the Dutch never legalized marijuana: You can buy it as if it is legalized, but it is not. It is freely sold by private decisions by Dutch mayors, who decide that the drug laws do not apply to their personal friends, for their personal reasons, which decisions are rewarded by the dealers (I think) in terms I do not know (which is a game that has been going on for thirty years now).

Back to the article:

That is why wealthy countries should look beyond the border and take action to stop the carbon intense development overseas driven by their own investors.

A first step would be to require all large companies and investors to disclose their interests in coal, oil and gas extraction overseas, and report on the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the fossil fuels extracted each year, as well as the potential carbon dioxide emissions associated with the reserves under their control, if fully exploited.
Well, yes - but it doesn´t happen. And in fact here is part of the reason:
In fact, there are lots of simple, effective measures governments could adopt now. But for that to happen, our governments need take an honest look at the economic interests driving fossil fuel extraction, and not just fall back on the arbitrary accounting principles of the UNFCCC, which are more an exercise in blame absolution than an effort to stop climate change.
Yes indeed.


5. The Ongoing Battle against Tax Havens

This article is by Christian Reiermann on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:

Early this week, the financial world was rocked by the latest revelations about tax tricks used around the world by corporations and the super-rich. The leaks, which included 13.4 million documents and were labeled the "Paradise Papers," were the product of an international investigative consortium including journalists from influential German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The cases uncovered are similar to those revealed in the previous leak, the Panama Papers, which triggered global outrage last year. The data describes how the rich and super-rich, international stars and companies try to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. It is a game for the wealthy.

The players are usually multinational corporations seeking to shrink their tax bill using convoluted structures. Tech-giant Apple once again stands accused of skullduggery, as does sporting-goods producer Nike. The accomplices are also largely the same. The deals in question invariably involve tax havens such as the Bermuda Islands, British dependencies such as the Isle of Man or Jersey, and European member states like the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland.

Yes indeed. Here is some more, in fact on an important reason why tax loopholes will probably continue to exist as long as capitalism exists:

Making the battle against tax loopholes even more difficult is the fact that the world's largest economy, the U.S., is rather half-hearted when it comes to fighting tax havens. The state of Delaware offers an anonymous home to hundreds of thousands of shell companies. The U.S. government - whether Democratic or Republican - has also for years been rather indulgent when it comes to multinationals dodging the taxman, despite the fact that it is the U.S. itself that is shortchanged by the tricks employed by Google, Apple, Amazon and co.
(...)
But for decades, U.S. tax law has maintained a loophole for American companies. They are allowed to park their intellectual property - in the form of patents, licenses or film rights, for example - with subsidiaries based overseas, which means that those subsidiaries are taxed in the countries where they are based. That is why Apple, as the new document leak indicates, didn't decide to pay taxes on its profits back home once an Irish loophole was closed. Instead, the company went searching for tax havens that might offer it a new home.

And happily for criminal frauds like Tim Cooke, another loophole was found, this time on the tiny Channel Island of Jersey.

There is considerably more in the article.

------------------------------
Note
I have now been saying since the 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. 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 (!!).

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