from August 30, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
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
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from August 30, 2018:
1. After Trump, the Deluge?
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. U.N. Calls U.S.-Backed Bombings of Yemen Likely War Crimes
3. How to Detect Fake Online Videos of Politicians by One
4. How the Department of Homeland Security Created a
Deceptive Tale of
Russia Hacking US Voter Sites
5. Matt Taibbi on Facebook and Google Playing the Censor
1. After Trump, the Deluge?
This article is by The
Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:
again, there was text and subtext, and as often with this president,
both were disturbing.
At a private meeting on Monday, President Trump urged evangelical Christian
leaders to break federal law and openly support him from the pulpit.
Does it matter that he seemed to believe that he had overturned the provision of the tax code that prevents churches from
endorsing or opposing political candidates? Truth, fantasy and deceit
slosh together with Mr. Trump.
mattered more was the thought that Mr. Trump planted — that a deluge of
violence and anarchy would be loosed upon the world if they failed to
rally the nation’s Christian soldiers to his side.
the Democrats win the midterm elections, the president warned, “they
will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and
violently, and violently.”
Yes, indeed - that is what the present
president of the USA said. Well... I have said many times
before that Trump is insane,
which is what many psychologists and psychiatrists think, and I
am a psychologist and agree with them.
Here is more:
Of course, the only
political leader who has been inciting and condoning violence has been Mr. Trump. At
campaign rallies he fantasized about punching a foe in the face and
urged his crowds to “knock the crap out of”
protesters, offering to pay their legal bills if they did. Reporters at
his rallies have feared for their safety as they faced the “enemy of
the people” fury Mr. Trump has sought to foment among his most
passionate supporters. When torch-bearing neo-Nazis marched in Virginia
last year, and one even ran his car into a crowd of
counter-demonstrators, killing a woman, Mr. Trump said there was “blame on both sides.”
Quite so. Here is more:
Yes, and I agree that "the president’s real fear is not that
tiny group of violent provocateurs, but democracy itself". And this is a recommended article.
Mr. Trump tried to terrify the ministers with the threat of “antifa” or
anti-fascist activists who occasionally disrupt right-wing
demonstrations, we can safely say the president’s real fear is not that
tiny group of violent provocateurs, but democracy itself — the millions
of Americans who have been quietly going to the polls to reject him and
the candidates he supports and may continue to do so in midterm
elections this fall.
Nov. 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a
referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the
First Amendment,” he told the preachers.
2. U.N. Calls U.S.-Backed Bombings of Yemen
Likely War Crimes
This article is by Jon Queally on Truthdig and originally on Common
Dreams. It starts as follows:
Evidence presented as part
of a wide-ranging investigation sponsored by the United Nations
and released Tuesday
shows that the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates waging a war in Yemen—armed and with backing from the
United States and the United Kingdom—have likely “perpetrated, and
continue to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law.”
Conducted by the Group of International and
Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen, a body of Yemen and regional experts
created by the UN Human Rights Council, the report documents how
indiscriminate bombing by the Saudi-led coalition has devastated the
Yemeni population and details how civilian targets have repeatedly been
“Despite the severity of the situation we
continue to see a complete disregard for the people in Yemen,” said Charles
Garraway, one of the authors of the report. “This conflict has reached
its peak, with no apparent sight of light at the end of the
tunnel. It is indeed, a forgotten crisis.”
I agree, but I have a more comprehensive explanation: Since WW II, a
very prominent strategical end of
many armies, and especially the American army, has not
been defeating the military troops their opponents had
assembled, but to defeat the civilian
population of their opponents.
this is what is happening in the Middle East now: Civilian mass
murder on a large scale.
Here is more from the article:
the report (pdf),
which documented the situation in Yemen from when the current conflict
began in March of 2015 up until June of this year:
Coalition air strikes have caused most of the
documented civilian casualties. In the past three years, such air
strikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings,
detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities. The
Group of Experts has investigated 13 such incidents by interviewing
victims, witnesses and other credible sources; analysing satellite
imagery, photographs and videos; and visiting sites in the Hudaydah,
Sa’dah and Sana’a governorates.
“There is little evidence
of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimize civilian
casualties. I call on them to prioritise human dignity in this
forgotten conflict,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of the group of
As I suggested above,
at least the ends of the armies of "the coalition" (led by the
Americans) was not to minimize but to maximize the civilian victims
they made on the other side. In case you doubt this: Why else
would they bomb "residential areas, markets, funerals,
detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities"?!
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
In addition to the
troubling pattern of targeting and bombing civilian infrastructure, the
report condemns the ongoing blockade by the coalition, both by sea and
by air, of critical supplies into the war-torn and impoverished country:
The coalition has imposed
severe naval and air restrictions in Yemen, to varying degrees, since
March 2015. There are reasonable grounds to believe that these
restrictions imposed by the coalition constitute a violation of the
proportionality rule of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the
effective closure of Sana’a airport is a violation of international
humanitarian law protection for the sick and wounded. Such acts,
together with the requisite intent, may amount to international crimes.
In what was clearly a
reference to both the U.S. and the U.K., the report urges the
international community to “refrain from providing arms that could be
used in the conflict.”
As I have stated above,
this - blocking the food supply of civilians - is again one of the
military ends of - let's be clear and specific - "the U.S. and the U.K.". Then again, I agree
with possible critics who reply that it would be quite hard for the UN
to say so in an official report. And this is a strongly
3. How to Detect Fake Online Videos of
Politicians by One Simple Tell
This article is by Siwei
Lyu on AlterNet and originally on The Conversation. It starts as
A new form of
misinformation is poised to spread through online communities as the
2018 midterm election campaigns heat up. Called “deepfakes” after the pseudonymous
online account that popularized the technique – which may have
chosen its name because the process uses a technical method called
“deep learning” – these fake videos look very realistic.
So far, people have used
deepfake videos in pornography
to make it appear that famous people are doing things they wouldn’t
normally. But it’s almost certain deepfakes
will appear during the campaign season, purporting to depict
things or going places the real candidate wouldn’t.
Let me start this
review by asking: Have I ever seen a deepfake video? I
think I did see some in John Oliver's - very good - "Last Week
Tonight" show, but these were clearly brief bits of satire.
Also, I think I should
add that if I were to see a video of some important person like
Obama - there is a deepfake video with Obama linked in this
article - saying things I find rather incredible, the first thing I
would do is check it, i.e. find out what the rest of the press
(that I more or less respect) says about it. (But then I know people
are frauded in many ways, and I knew earlier about deepfake videos,
though not by that name.)
Here is some more:
Because these techniques
are so new, people are having trouble telling the difference between
real videos and the deepfake videos. My
work, with my colleague Ming-Ching Chang and our Ph.D. student
Yuezun Li, has found a way to reliably tell real videos from
deepfake videos. It’s not a permanent solution, because technology
will improve. But it’s a start, and offers hope that computers will be
able to help people tell truth from fiction.
Well... the solution of
Lyu and his co-workers is to look at the rates of their blinking
their eyes. In fact, I think my way - checking the evidence
is real evidence - is better, but I agree I know
a whole lot about politics, journalism and evidence. Then again, I also
think that if you are someone who gets his news (frauded and real)
mostly from Facebook and Google, you will not read this
article, you will have no reasonable ways to check the
evidence, and you may be tricked.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Without training images of
people blinking, deepfake algorithms are less likely to create faces
that blink normally. When we calculate the overall rate of blinking,
and compares that with the natural range, we found that characters in
deepfake videos blink a lot less frequent in comparison with real
people. Our research uses machine learning to examine eye opening and
closing in videos.
This gives us an inspiration
to detect deepfake videos.
Well, OK. But I still
think my way is better (and a lot quicker).
4. How the Department of Homeland Security
Created a Deceptive Tale of
Russia Hacking US Voter Sites
This article is by Gareth Porter on Consortiumnews. It starts as
The narrative of
Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and
threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal
acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been
accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats,
Yes, although I am one of
those who did not and does not believe the "narrative of Russian intelligence attacking
state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S.
elections". But I must add
that the main reasons for my non-belief are that I am very
well-informed about politics, am an intellectual, and do know
how to program since quite a few decades. And also I read very
plausible reports by real specialists (which I am not),
namely the people of the VIPS,
who also deny the story, and are far more credible than the DHS
But the real story behind that
narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account
that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.
DHS compiled an intelligence
report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have
targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a
sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the
qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state
election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS
claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.
Here is some more:
continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on
state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall
Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind
hacking attempts of Georgia’s election database.
Yes indeed - and it is a
fact that there are very many hackers around (with 4 billion
computer users) and that most are not Russians. And most
hackers, though not all, are out for personal
The facts surrounding the two
actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as
the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn’t support
that premise at all.
In July, Illinois discovered
an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of
personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters. (The 2018
Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure
at 500,000.) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the
information and had left it unchanged in the database.
That was a crucial clue to the
motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and
Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late
September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn’t tampered with the voter
data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the
electoral process. Instead, it was “possibly for the purpose of selling
information they can sell.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
For a year, DHS did
not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or
other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed
Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it
could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without
security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about
each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that
states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential
Yes indeed: "potential
targeting" by anyone is very far from a firm claim that the
Russians hacked election boards to alter the outcomes of the election.
This is a recommended article, in which there also is a lot more.
On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS
notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in
the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications
said DHS had notified each chief election officer of “any potential
targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016
election.” The phrase “potential targeting” again telegraphed the broad
and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media
Taibbi on Facebook and Google Playing the Censor
article is by Marc Steiner on Naked Capitalism and originally on The
Real News Network. This is from near its beginning:
STEINER: (...) The platforms like Google and Facebook are
where many of us increasingly get all of our information. We talk to
our friends and family. We use it as a public space. But they and all
the digital media that we use don’t belong to us. They’re private
entities that are now making a regular habit of banning images and
words for a variety of both nebulous and extremely dangerous reasons,
or potentially dangerous reasons. Facebook and others are also teaming
up with some pretty shady characters and businesses as they develop a
new model of censorship. That should give us all pause.
Yes indeed. I add that I don't
use Facebook and Google at all (nor Microsoft nor Apple), but I belong
to 1% or 2% of computer users at most (for I use Linux as operating
Here is Matt Taibbi:
TAIBBI: It’s really, it’s kind of an amazing moment
in the history of media in this country, and it seems to have kind of
slipped past the attention of elected officials and the media. We’ve
never really had an aggressive media regulator in the United States. Of
course we’ve had the FCC, but they’ve never really been intrusive to an
enormous degree. Certainly not on the level of political content.
And what we have here is a
sort of two-stage story. The first stage of the story happened over the
course of the past few decades, when Google and Facebook essentially
became a duopoly in terms of media distribution in this country. They
control somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the media distribution.
That means most people get their news from one of those two sources. So
if you control Google and Facebook, and they’re allowed to decide who
gets in the feed and who gets deemphasized, then you can really control
the media. And so the idea that they’re working with governmental
bodies to push some content down and push others up is unbelievable.
It’s a situation that we’ve never had a parallel to in this country
But in fact Google and
Facebook are "working
with governmental bodies"
and indeed they do "push some
content down and push others up". And that is censorship.
Here is more:
TAIBBI: And you know, we saw the beginnings of what
could be a problem a couple of years ago when they deleted the iconic
image of the napalm girl in Vietnam. And now we’re seeing wholesale
deletions of political accounts in countries all over the world. You
know, 10,000 accounts got wiped out ahead of Mexican elections on July
1. We have hundreds of accounts in Brazil wiped out. And we don’t know
exactly what criteria they’re using to delete some of these accounts,
and I think that’s the problem, is that it’s not transparent. So yeah,
we’ve never had a media regulator, and that’s one problem. But we’ve
also always had transparency in the courts when we punish people for
that speech. We don’t have that either, now.
is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Well, look, if the United States government had an open contract with
Facebook, then it would be a clear First Amendment violation. So it
can’t be done in that way. The way it’s done now, if you have a private
organization- and the Atlantic Council still is that, technically-
working with that other private organization, which Facebook is, which
Google is, which Twitter is, then there’s no First Amendment issue.
Technically, at least not yet, because the First Amendment only speaks
to the government suppressing or regulating speech. If it’s done on
private property they can get around that entire issue. And that’s my
concern with this, is that this is really an end run around the First
Amendment. You take a bunch of quasi-governmental ideas and you have
them work with these duopolistic corporations, and you’re essentially
controlling the flow of information.
That is: The U.S.
government explicitly censors what people on Facebook and Google get to
see by working with a private organization that works with
Google, Facebook and Twitter to censor what people using these private
organizations' products, and escapes having to go to court only because the First Amendment "only speaks to the government suppressing or
And I think Matt Taibbi
is entirely correct, and this is a strongly recommended
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 (!!).