from April 16, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
This is a
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 April 16, 2018
1. The Pandora's Box of 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:
2. In Interview, Comey Calls Trump ‘Morally Unfit’ and
a ‘Stain’ on All
3. James Comey’s Interview on ABC’s ‘20/20’: Annotated
4. While China Picks Winners, Trump Picks
5. Congress Held Ten Hours of Hearings on Facebook. What’s
Pandora's Box of War
article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Chris Hedges’ regular column will appear later this week. Here is a
repost of his April 8, 2017, article, which appeared shortly after the
first time President Trump fired missiles into Syria in reaction to
reports of chemical warfare by the regime of President Bashar Assad. On
Friday the United States again conducted a missile attack on Syria in
the wake of reports that Assad’s forces had used chemicals against
I say. Well... I
like Chris Hedges, and I will simply repeat the review that I
wrote a little over a year ago, and that review started as follows:
War opens a Pandora’s box
of evils that once unleashed are beyond anyone’s control. The invasion of Afghanistan set out to
defeat al-Qaida, and nearly 16 years later, we are embroiled in a
losing fight with the Taliban. We believed we could invade Iraq and
create a Western-style democracy and weaken Iran’s power in the region.
The fragmentation of Iraq among warring factions has left Iran the
dominant Muslim nation in the Middle East and Iraq destroyed as a
unified nation. We set out to topple President Bashar Assad in Syria
but then began to bomb the Islamic insurgents trying to overthrow him.
We spread the “war on terror” to Yemen, Libya and Syria in a desperate
effort to crush regional resistance. Instead, we created new failed
states and lawless enclaves where vacuums were filled by the jihadist
forces we sought to defeat. We have wasted a staggering $4.79 trillion
on death, destruction and folly as our nation is increasingly
impoverished and climate change threatens us with extinction. The arms
manufacturers, who have a vested interest in perpetuating these
debacles, will work to make a few trillion more before this act of
collective imperial suicide comes to a humiliating end.
I think this is a fair
and Chris Hedges
was an international correspondent for 20 years, who
reported mostly on wars in that time, and from where the wars were
being fought: He knows what he is speaking about from his own
This is about the opponents
of the USA:
The jihadists’ savagery
mirrors our own. The jihadists respond to our airstrikes and aerial
drone attacks by using suicide vests and improvised explosive devices.
They respond to our black sites and prisons such as Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo with basement cells that torture kidnapped captives. They
respond to the ideology of Western secularism with an Islamic state.
They respond to violence with violence.
I think this is a fair
well, and like to add that from the point of view of the Muslims in the
Middle East, they are being attacked now for 16 years (at
least: see item 5) by the
USA, from the other side of the world, which cost the nations in the
Middle East hundreds of thousands of lives and exposure to
extremely much violence, and which produced little else except
great misery to very many.
Then there is this paragraph,
which consists only of questions (and see item 3 below):
U.S. Attack Against Syria Violate International Law?
Why the moral outrage now
among Americans? Why have we stood by as Syrians died daily from barrel
bombs, bullets, famine, disease and drowning off the shores of Greece?
Why have we been mute as schools, apartment blocks, mosques and
hospitals have been bombed into rubble? Where is the outrage about the
deaths of the thousands of other children, including those we killed
recently in Mosul when a March 17 coalition airstrike took the lives of
as many as 200 civilians? Why are we not enraged by the Trump
administration’s flagrant violation of domestic law by carrying out an
act of war without approval from Congress or the United Nations? Why do
we lament these deaths yet bar Syrian war refugees from entering the
United States? Is American foreign policy to be dictated by the fickle
emotions of Donald Trump, whose perception of reality appears to be
obtained exclusively from a television screen?
I will not answer
these questions except for the first one, and in a general way: I think
that the present moral outrage among Americans has been caused in part
by children being killed with poison gas, but I also think that "public
opinion" in the USA has been more or less systematically poisoned
by the mainstream media, that also failed to give much
honest information - and for "the
Trump administration’s flagrant violation of domestic law by carrying
out an act of war without approval from Congress or the United Nations" see item
This article ends as follows:
I have two remarks on this bit:
This slaughter has already
lasted nearly 16 years. It will not cease until the United States is
exhausted and withdraws its forces from the region. And before that
happens, many, many more innocents will die. So save your tears. We are
morally no different from the jihadists or the Syrians we fight. They
reflect back to us our own repugnant visage. If we wanted this to stop,
we could make it happen.
First, I don't think
that (speaking about Americans) it is true that "We are morally no different from the
jihadists or the Syrians we fight"
and I don't think so for - at least -three reasons: The jihadists and the Syrians in general
(mostly civilians) do live in a state of war, and the Americans do not; the
jihadists and the Syrians not only risk being blown up daily by
American and others bombs, but also have far less money than
Americans; and most Syrians know war in their own country from
their own experiences, while most Americans only know war from
news reports on TV.
Second, the problems with "[i]f we wanted this to stop, we could make it
happen" are that there are several
opposing camps and parties in the USA, some of which are for (this) war
and some of which are against (this) war, while in general the
force of "we", if "we" are ordinary people who are not rich and
live in the USA, has very much diminished in political
And this is a recommended
Interview, Comey Calls Trump ‘Morally Unfit’ and a ‘Stain’ on All
article is by Michael Shear and Peter Baker on The New York Times. It
starts as follows:
If there was any
chance that President Trump and James B. Comey could have avoided
all-out war, it ended Sunday night.
That was when
ABC News aired an interview with Mr. Comey, the president’s fired
F.B.I. director, as he uses a publicity blitz for his searing tell-all
memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” to raise the alarm about the dangers he
says Mr. Trump poses to the country.
While ABC aired
one hour of its conversation with Mr. Comey, it had conducted a
five-hour interview with him, a transcript of which was obtained by The
New York Times. In it, Mr. Comey called Mr. Trump a serial liar who
treated women like “meat,” and described him as a “stain” on everyone
who worked for him.
He said a
salacious allegation that Mr. Trump had cavorted with prostitutes in
Moscow had left him vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government.
And he asserted that the president was incinerating the country’s
crucial norms and traditions like a wildfire. He compared the president
to a mafia boss.
must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of
this country,” Mr. Comey told ABC’s chief anchor, George
Stephanopoulos, on the program “20/20.” “The most important being
truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be
And as I said before, I neither like Comey nor Trump,
though I agree with most of the statements by Comey quoted above.
again - and while I do not trust Trump one bit - I do not
see why ¨a salacious
allegation that Mr. Trump had cavorted with prostitutes in Moscow had
left him vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government¨, and I do not see that
because anybody can dream up very many ¨salacious allegations¨ against anyone, but that is no proof
nor evidence at all that any of these
allegations are true, probable or even possible.
this on Comey:
Mr. Comey seems
likely to be the star witness in any obstruction of justice case that
might be brought against the president by Robert S. Mueller III, the
special counsel in the sprawling Russia investigation. Mr. Trump’s
legal fate, as well as his political fortunes in Washington, may depend
on whether he succeeds in undermining the credibility of Mr. Comey and
the law enforcement institutions he views as arrayed against him.
While many of
Mr. Trump’s critics believe that the proper remedy for his perceived
transgressions is impeachment, Mr. Comey insisted that would just “let
the American people off the hook.” He said the public was “duty bound”
to vote Mr. Trump out of office in the next election.
although I add that I do not quite follow Comey´s remarks on
impeachment. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I say. There is considerably
more in the article, that is recommended.
intensely personal attacks — a reflection of his self-righteousness,
his detractors say — are all the more combustible because they are
aimed directly at a president who has said
with pride on Twitter that “when someone attacks me, I always
attack back...except 100x more.”
As if on cue,
hours before the interview aired, Mr. Trump called Mr. Comey a
“slimeball” for the second time in three days, saying in a pair of
early-morning Twitter posts that he belonged in jail for what the
president said were lies to Congress and leaks of classified
information. In another post, Mr. Trump said Mr. Comey would go down in
history as “the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” He added that
“he is not smart!”
And there is also a second article on the NYT, written by one of the
authors of the present article, that gives considerably more evidence.
That is the next article I review today:
Comey’s Interview on ABC’s ‘20/20’: Annotated Excerpts
This article is by Michael Shear on The New
York Times. In fact, I will only quote 3 from 19
excerpts that Shear describes in his article, that starts as follows:
I think I agree with all
of this, although I have to say something about Comey´s ¨I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be
‘He is morally unfit to be president.’
don’t buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early
stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average
intelligence who’s tracking conversations and knows what’s going on. I
don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally
unfit to be president.
A person who sees moral
equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like
they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small
and insists the American people believe it — that person’s not fit to
be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a
I am (among other things) a psychologist, who now thinks since
more than two years - for it started here - that Trump is a neofascist, and that Trump is insane.
First about neofascism:
The last link is my definition of it, and and long as I have
not even read a single proper definition
by journalists of ¨fascism¨
- which exists now nearly 100 years - while I cannot
find any reasonable definition of
¨neofascism¨, I stick to my definitions (both of which are
based on much reading and considerable knowledge of
Next about Trump´s sanity. This is a bit more complicated and
I´ll explain it briefly here:
I am a psychologist who is not impressed by
psychiatrists. Then again, I agree with some of them on one
thing: It is desirable that the definitions that psychiatrists and
psychologists use to arrive at some classification of the problens of
their patients are in observational terms.
And what I saw in March of 2016
was an observational definition of a
narcissist (better called: a megalomaniac) in terms of 9
observational characteristics, with the added rule that satis-
fying 5 of the 9 characteristics was sufficient to classify someone as
a narcissist, while I also could clearly see (from videos) that Trump
satisfied 9 out of 9 of the observational characteristics that were taken to
define a narcissist.
There is a lot I can say about psychiatry and psychology, and
indeed I did so in 2012 (and my DSM-5:
Question 1 of "The six
most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis" is a good article on
modern psychiatry), but I will leave all of this out here and now. All
I do say is that my decision to agree that Trump is insane was based
on a perfectly normal process of - observation-based - reasoning that
psychiatrists and psychologists often use.
Here is some more:
During much of the
interview, Mr. Comey seems disciplined and almost dispassionate. But at
the end, he lets loose in a remarkable way. It is hard to think of a
time that such a senior official of the government has gone on to so
directly question the moral fitness of the sitting president. He said
that he hoped Mr. Trump would be held accountable for his lies, but
that impeachment would be a cop-out for a public that should also be
held accountable for electing Mr. Trump in the first place.
This is more or less correct
(and this is the only time in this review I quote Shear).
Then there is this:
‘The loyalty oaths, the boss as the dominant center of
As an aside, I think these are also
grounds to consider Trump as not quite sane. Besides: What is the
difference between ¨Trump is sane but is acting as a Mafia boss¨
and ¨Trump is not sane and and not acting as a Mafia boss¨? (Just
How strange is it for you to sit here and compare the president to a
Very strange. And I don’t do it lightly. I — and I’m not trying to, by
the way, suggest that President Trump is out breaking legs and — you
know, shaking down shopkeepers. But instead, what I’m talking about is
that leadership culture constantly comes back to me when I think about
my experience with the Trump administration. The — the loyalty oaths,
the boss as the dominant center of everything, it’s all about how do
you serve the boss, what’s in the boss’s interests. It’s the family,
the family, the family, the family. That’s why it reminds me so much
and not, “So what’s the right thing for the country and what are the
values of the institutions that we’re dealing with?”
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
‘It was him talking almost the entire time.’
Yes, and again these are
reasons to consider Trump
as not quite sane (and I saw a video in which Trump did make
¨fun of a reporter¨).
was him talking almost the entire time, which I’ve discovered is
something he frequently does. And so it would be monologue in this
direction, monologue in that direction, monologue in a different
a constant series of assertions that — about the inauguration crowd,
about how great my inauguration speech was, about all the free media —
earned media, I think was his term, that I got during the campaign. On
and on and on and on. Everyone agrees, everyone agrees, I did this, the
— I never assaulted these women, I never made fun of a reporter.
— I’m sure you’re wondering what question did I ask that would prompt
those? None, zero. I didn’t ask any questions that I recall.
As I said, these are just 3 from 19 excerpts from ABC that Shear
discusses in this article, that is strongly recommended.
4. While China Picks
Winners, Trump Picks Losers
article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
“It’s nonsense that there’s
a beautiful free market in the power industry,” Energy Secretary Rick
Perry said last week as he pushed for a government bailout of
coal-fired power plants.
Republicans who for years
have voted against subsidies for solar and wind power – arguing that
the “free market” should decide our energy future – are now eager to
have government subsidize coal.
Meanwhile, Trump is imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels from
China, thereby boosting their cost to American homeowners and
utilities. The Trumpsters say this is because China is subsidizing
To Trump and his merry band
of climate-change deniers, boosting coal is fine. Helping solar is an
unwarranted interference in the free market.
I agree with this. Then
there is this:
Besides subsidizing these
industries, China is also telling foreign (usually American) companies
seeking to sell in China that they must make their gadgets in China. As
a practical matter this often means American firms must disclose and
share their technology with Chinese firms.
“We have a tremendous
intellectual property theft situation going on,” said Trump, just
before upping the ante and threatening China with $100 billion of
China’s theft of
intellectual property is troublesome, but the larger issue of China’s
industrial policy is not. The United States has an industrial policy,
too. We just don’t do it well – and Trump is intent on doing it far
And I agree
that ¨China’s theft of
intellectual property is troublesome¨. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
America has always had an
industrial policy. The real question is whether it’s forward-looking
(the Internet, solar, zero-emissions buses) or backwards (coal).
Trump wants a backwards
industrial policy. That’s not surprising, given that everything else he
and his administration are doing is designed to take us backwards.
Well... yes (but the
forward/backward joke is weak).
5. Congress Held Ten Hours of Hearings on
Facebook. What’s Next?
article is by India McKinney on Common Dreams and originally on the
Electronic Frontier Foundation. It starts as follows:
After grilling Mark
Zuckerberg for ten hours this past week, the big question facing
Congress is, “What’s
next?” The wide-ranging hearings covered everything from “fake
news” to election integrity to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that
spurred the hearings in the first place. Zuckerberg’s testimony did not
give us much new information, but did underline what we already knew
going in: Facebook’s surveillance-based, advertising-powered business
model creates real problems for its users’ privacy rights.
But some of those problems
can be fixed. As Congress considers what to do next, here are some of
I do not agree
with the above, and my reason is that Zuckerberg was not
In fact, his (bolding
added) ¨testimony did not
give us much new information¨,
and while I did not see it (I am sorry, but I strongly dislike
interviews on TV) I do know that those questioning him had at
most five minutes, and could not properly follow up their
questions: I do not consider that ¨a grilling¨ at all.
Here are the
recommendations in McKinney´s article:
DO Ask For
cooperating with FTC audits, but we’re not clear on whether or not
Facebook is allowing independent auditors to inspect the data. If we
allow Facebook to control the outside world’s visibility into its data
collection practices, we can never be exactly sure if Facebook is
actually complying with its own assertions. Facebook, along with other
large tech companies that handle massive amounts of user data, should
allow truly independent researchers to regularly audit their systems.
Users should not have to take the company’s word on how their data is
being collected, stored, and used.
I agree with the last
sentence, but I think Zuckerberg will never agree. Then there is this -
and the ¨(...)¨ in the next quotation indicate deletions in my
Again I agree with the last
sentence (but I think again Zuckerberg disagrees). Then there is this:
DO Consider The
Impact On Future Social Media Platforms (...)
Watch Out For Unintended Effects On Speech (...)
DON’T Allow Big Tech To Tell Congress How To Regulate
Several times during his
testimony, Mr. Zuckerberg called for privacy regulations both for
ISPs and for platforms. While we agree privacy protections are
important for both of these types of businesses, they shouldn’t be
conflated. The rules we need for ISPs may be significantly different
from those needed for platforms. In any event, Congress shouldn’t allow
the tech giants to write their own rules given their strong incentives
to favor the needs of shareholders over those of the public.
No, I am sorry.
DON’T Treat Social
Media The Same As Traditional Media
The foundation of a functional
democracy is the ability to communicate freely with one other and our
elected officials. Like television and radio before it, social media is
now a crucial vehicle for that civic discussion. However, the rules
that govern traditional media cannot be the same rules that govern
First, the ¨foundation of a (...) democracy¨ is ¨the ability to communicate freely with one
other¨, but that is not
the same as a (bolding added) ¨functional democracy¨, for a functional democracy also has rules
and procedures by which the people living in a ¨functional democracy¨ can address their governments and their
bureaucrats, and receive fair and honest answers to their questions
(without having to involve judges and sworn testimonies).
And second I do not see why I should share Zuckerberg´s
pretensions that he is running something that is fairly
called ¨a social medium¨:
What Zuckerberg runs is an a-social
medium that steals private
information from its users and that also tries
to influence and mold their opinions, values and choices by subtly
influencing them. Zuckerberg runs a
medium that is doing its damnedest to please Zuckerberg and add more
billions to his - utterly insane - ¨earnings¨ from stealing
the privacies from his members and influencing their values and choices
in undetected ways.
Here is the final recommendation by McKinney:
DO Talk to
Technologists, Engineers, and Internet Lawyers
Well, I agree that - at
least - technologists and engineers should be involved in serious
discussions about the internet.
But I am a bit hesitant
about recommending this, mostly because I do not know much
about the Electronic
Frontier Foundation and because I did not agree with some remarks in this 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 (!!).