from November 23, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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 November 23, 2018:
1. Noam Chomsky Warns Against “Disaster” Under Jair Bolsonaro
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. The Rule of Law
3. Sanders Urges Democrats in New Congress to Embrace This
4. Ecuadorian Embassy Sours on Julian Assange
5. Noam Chomsky: Moral Depravity Defines US Politics
Chomsky Warns Against “Disaster” Under Jair Bolsonaro
This article is by
Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the
title and also inform you that on yesterday's Democracy Now! - November
22, 2018 - there are no less than 5 interviews with Noam Chomsky.
I think they are all interesting, and for today's Nederlog I
chose the one that interests me the most right now. It starts with the
President-elect Jair Bolsonaro prepares to take office in January, we
return to our conversation with world-renowned political dissident,
linguist and author Noam Chomsky shortly after the election.
Bolsonaro’s impending presidency marks the most radical political shift
Brazil since military rule ended more than 30 years ago. Bolsonaro is a
former Army officer who has praised Brazil’s former military
dictatorship, spoken in favor of torture and threatened to destroy,
imprison or banish his political opponents. Bolsonaro has also
encouraged the police to kill suspected drug dealers, and once told a
female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape. Noam Chomsky calls Bolsonaro
a “disaster for Brazil.”
agree with Chomsky - and remember also that Brazil is the fifth
largest country in the world, and has the sixth largest
population, namely of more than 210 million persons.
Here is more, also on Bolton and Bolsonaro:
Well, it’s entirely natural for Bolton to welcome Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro
is definitely his kind of guy. He’s vicious, brutal, a strong
supporter, enthusiastic supporter of torture. He was a little bit
critical of the military dictatorship—because it didn’t kill enough
people. He thought it should have killed 30,000 people, like the
Argentine dictatorship, which was the worst of the U.S.-backed
dictatorships in Latin America. He wants to throw the country open to
investors, turn Brazil into a kind of a caricature of a country. This
includes opening up the Amazon to his agribusiness supporters. It’s a
serious blow, if not even a death knell to the species. It means
virtual genocide for the indigenous population. According to Bolsonaro,
they don’t deserve a square centimeter. But, by and large, just the
kind of guy that Bolton would greatly admire.
Yes indeed. This is about
the Brazilian economy:
SHAIKH: Among the Cabinet
ministers that Bolsonaro is likely to appoint is Paulo Guedes. Could
you say something about his background? He’s going to be Bolsonaro’s
chief financial adviser, the head of the so-called super ministry
combining the current planning, finance and industry ministries. What
is this person’s background?
CHOMSKY: Well, Guedes is a
ultra-right-wing Chicago economist. He’s spent time in Pinochet’s
Chile. He’s been very frank and open in interviews in the Brazilian
press about his plans. It’s very simple: As he puts it, privatize
everything—everything, infrastructure, anything you can think of. The
reason, the motive, is to pay off the debt which is owned by the
predatory financial institutions that have been robbing the country
blind. This will give away the resources of the country for the future.
And as I mentioned, one part of it is Bolsonaro’s favorite program of
opening the Amazon to agribusiness. So, he’s exactly the kind of person
who succeeded in driving Chile’s economy to utter disaster within only
a few years.
I again completely
agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this interview:
Yes, again I agree completely.
Then again, there is also something on which Chomsky and I probably disagree:
CHOMSKY: So, this is the man who’s one of their great
admirers, is now taking over the Brazilian economy. And it will be a
heyday for investors. Stock market loves it. They think they’ll be able
to rob freely. Brazil does have enormous wealth and resources, which
they’re glad to get their hands on. For the future of Brazil, it’s a
disaster, I think; for the region, quite harmful. One of the things
that Guedes has already said is that they may pull Brazil out of
Mercosur, the South American trade system that had been established
and, in fact, Lula had pushed forward. And for the world, it will also
be a potential disaster. Destroying—if they proceed to destroy the
Amazon, that is a very serious attack on the environment.
But again, that’s just in line
with Bolton, Trump, exactly what they’re doing right here.
I think the election of Bolsonaro as president was mostly due to the stupidity and ignorance of
the majority of its voters - and if you doubt this (as you may) please
reread the first bit by Chomsky above. But this is a strongly
recommended article - and if you liked the above, you will probably
like the other four interviews on Democracy Now! of November 22.
Rule of Law
is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Democracies depend on
what’s known as the “rule of law.” It’s based on three fundamental
principles. Trump is violating every one of them.
The first is that no person
is above the law, not even a president. Which means a president cannot
stop an investigation into his alleged illegal acts.
Precisely. There is
more in the original, but I move to the second principle:
The second principle of the
rule of law is a president cannot prosecute political opponents or
critics. Decisions about whom to prosecute for alleged criminal
wrongdoing must be made by prosecutors who are independent of politics.
Yet Trump has repeatedly
pushed the Justice Department to bring charges against Hillary Clinton,
his 2016 rival, for using a private email server when she was Secretary
of State, in alleged violation of the Presidential Records Act.
During his campaign, Trump
led crowds in chanting “lock her up,” called Clinton “crooked Hillary,”
and threatened to prosecute her if he was elected president.
After taking office,
according to the New York Times, Trump told White House counsel
Donald McGahn he wanted the Justice Department to prosecute Clinton.
McGahn responded that Trump didn’t have the authority to do so, and
such action might even lead to impeachment.
Yes. And here is the
The third principle of the
rule of law is that a president must be respectful of the independence
of the judiciary.
Yet Trump has done the
opposite, openly ridiculing judges who disagree with him in order to
fuel public distrust of them – as he did when he called the judge who
issued the first federal ruling against his travel ban a “so-called”
Last week Trump referred
derisively to the judge who put a hold on Trump’s plan for refusing to
consider asylum applications an “Obama judge,” and railed against the
entire ninth circuit. "You go the 9th Circuit and it’s a disgrace,” he
said. He also issued a subtle threat: “It’s not going to happen like
In an unprecedented public
rebuke of a sitting president, John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, condemned Trump’s attack. “We do not have Obama judges
or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said. “What we
have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level
best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent
judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
Yes, but I do want
to correct John Roberts:
First of all, while it may
be true that there are no "Obama
judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges", in fact that is not the
issue. The issue is whether there are conservative lawyers who are
almost always nominated by Republican presidents, and non-
conservative lawyers who are almost always nominated by Democrats -
and this seems plainly true to me.
Besides, I do not
think that either Kavanaugh or Thomas or Gorsuch belong to "an extraordinary group of dedicated judges
doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them".
Anyway. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
Almost a half-century ago,
another president violated these three basic principles of the rule of
law. Richard Nixon tried to obstruct the Watergate investigation,
pushed the Justice Department to prosecute his political enemies, and
took on the judiciary.
But America wouldn’t allow
it. The nation rose up in outrage. Nixon resigned before Congress
The question before us is
whether this generation of Americans will have the strength and wisdom
to do the same.
Yes, I agree, and this
is a strongly recommended article.
Urges Democrats in New Congress to Embrace This Detailed Progressive
is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
While affirming that he
"strongly" disagrees with former Newt Gingrich, who led the GOP in the
House in the mid-1990s, "on virtually every issue," Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) is calling on Democrats in Congress to rip a page of out the
Georgia Republican's playbook by creating—and aggressively pushing—a
new progressive version of the Contract With America in order
to galvanize the nation, offer real solutions to its most urgent
problems, and go beyond being simply anti-Trump.
In stark contrast to
Gingrich's original version—"a radical right-wing agenda full of tax
breaks for the wealthy, massive cuts to programs vital to working
families, and racist and cruel bills to 'reform' welfare and our
criminal-justice system"—Sanders argues in a Washington Post op-ed
on Thursday that Democrats should instead forge a vision that "reflects
the needs of working Americans — centered on economic, political,
social, racial and environmental justice."
I agree with
Sanders (and don't care whether or not Gingrich did something verbally
similar more than 20 years ago).
Here is more:
While celebrating the "Blue
Wave" in the midterms that saw Democrats reclaim control of the U.S.
House and acheive major wins in state houses and governors' mansions
nationwide, Sanders writes that while it is clear a majority of the
American people "rejected President Trump's agenda benefiting the
wealthy and the powerful, as well as his racism, sexism, homophobia,
xenophobia and religious bigotry," it simply "is not good enough for
Democrats to just be the anti-Trump party."
If Democrats, he writes,
"want to keep and expand their majority in the House, take back the
Senate and win the White House, Democrats must show the American people
that they will aggressively stand up and fight for the working families
of this country — black, white, Latino, Asian American or Native
American, men and women, gay or straight. This means addressing the
crisis of a broken criminal-justice system and reforming inhumane
immigration policies. But it also means fighting to expand a middle
class that has been disappearing for more than 40 years, reducing
inequality in both income and wealth — which has disproportionately
hurt African Americans and Hispanics — and aggressively combating
climate change, the most urgent threat facing our planet."
I agree, but I
also note that so far these are ideals rather than practical
But then there is this:
Sanders, the new Democratic majority in the House should spend its
first 100 days next year passing an unmistakably bold legislative
agenda that includes:
I will list in a moment the
list of Sanders' points, but will do so without their
associated texts (which you will find in the original).
Here they are
(but all minus texts):
- Increasing the
minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to median wage growth
- A path toward
- Bold action to
combat climate change.
- Fixing our
broken criminal-justice system.
- A $1 trillion
- Lowering the
price of prescription drugs.
- Making public
colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially reducing
- Expanding Social
I agree with all
of the above and this is a recommended article.
Embassy Sours on Julian Assange
is by Michael Sontheimer on Spiegel International. This is from near
its beginning, that refers to how the fact that there is a US
criminal indictment against Assange:
The document in question
was a government motion to keep a criminal indictment sealed. Such
secrecy, the document notes, is the only way to "keep confidential the
fact that Assange has been charged." It goes on to say that "the
complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this
motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until
Assange is arrested" and can no longer evade arrest and extradition.
This is something that
Assange has always suspected but could never prove, namely that U.S.
prosecutors have already filed or are close to filing charges against
him and will soon issue a warrant for his arrest.
For the last six-and-a-half
years, Assange has essentially been stuck in London, living in the
Ecuadorian Embassy, a dignified brick building just a few steps from
the world-famous department store Harrods in Knightsbridge. He doesn't
get much sun and his hair has turned white as snow, as has his skin.
Yes. I also think Assange's hair
is white anyway, but this only relies on my memory of some
eight years ago (and watching some pictures today - and it was already
white in 2006, when Assange was 35 and not locked up at all).
Anyway. Here is more:
The government in Quito has
been providing Assange with political asylum since August 2012, but the
relationship has recently soured and the Ecuadorian president would now
like to see the Australian journalist leave the embassy sooner rather
than later. In late March, Ecuadorian diplomats cut off Assange's
internet connection and installed a jammer designed to prevent him from
communicating with the outside world. Last month, the government issued
new rules for dealing with their famous yet difficult guest.
In fact, Julian Assange
also acquired Ecuadorian citizenship in December 2017. Here is
In 2010, WikiLeaks
published documents in conjunction with the Guardian, the New
York Times and DER SPIEGEL pertaining to U.S. war crimes committed
in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, the U.S. government has been after
Assange and a grand jury in Virginia is investigating several people in
connection with WikiLeaks, including Assange himself, the former
WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison of Britain and Jacob Appelbaum, a
U.S. citizen who lives in Berlin. The basis of those investigations
could be the Espionage Act of 1917, which allows for penalties of up to
life in prison. The message is clear: Potential copycats should think
twice about taking on the U.S. government and its intelligence services.
Well... in fact Assange
claims - I think correctly - that he is a journalist
and not a spy, and that all he does as a journalist is to
make public documents that the USA's governments do not like to see
published. Besides, very many more journalists than Assange
receive and publish documents that the government of the USA (or other
governments) does not like to see published.
I think it is a mistake
to describe Assange as a spy or to accept that term even though the
USA's government insists on using it.
Here is more, on
Assange in the last half year:
[On March 28, 2018] the
Ecuadorian foreign minister had a jammer installed in the embassy to
disrupt mobile phone reception and Assange's internet access was cut
off. With that, he lost his most important link to the outside world.
Since then, only Assange's
assistant, a legal advisor and his lawyers have had access to him.
Friends and journalists are no longer able to visit the WikiLeaks
founder and his mother can likewise no longer see him. Assange is
almost completely isolated.
Assange believes that an
application for his extradition has been prepared and is sitting in the
U.S. Embassy in London. He believes that as soon as he falls into
British hands, he will be locked up pending extradition or be
immediately placed on board a plane to the U.S.
Yes - and the
Ecuadorian government acted wrongly, in my opinion. And not
This in fact hands
over the necessary details to be spied upon by every government's
secret service from every visitor.
The embassy also drafted a
new set of rules to regulate everything pertaining to Assange's asylum.
According to those rules, all of Assange's visitors, including his
lawyers, must provide the serial numbers of their telephones and other
electronic devices and list their social media accounts. The Ecuadorian
government reserves the right to share this information with others.
Furthermore, Assange must now
also pay a share of the costs the embassy incurs by putting him up.
Anyway... In fact, one other reason why I reviewed this Spiegel
article, in which there is a lot more than I quoted, is to see
how the European "liberal press" reports on Assange. I'd say: So, so.
And this is a recommended article.
Chomsky: Moral Depravity Defines US Politics
is by C.J. Polychroniou on Truthout. This is from near its beginning:
Polychroniou: Noam (..) what do you consider to be the most striking
features of the latest manifestation of American democracy in action?
The most striking features are brutally clear.
Humanity faces two imminent
existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war. These
were virtually ignored in the campaign rhetoric and general coverage.
There was plenty of criticism of the Trump administration, but scarcely
a word about by far the most ominous positions the administration has
taken: increasing the already dire threat of nuclear war, and racing to
destroy the physical environment that organized human society needs in
order to survive.
These are the most critical
and urgent questions that have arisen in all of human history. The fact
that they scarcely arose in the campaign is truly stunning — and
carries some important, if unpleasant, lessons about our moral and
We should recognize that these are extraordinary crimes against
humanity. They proceed with little notice.
The Democrats helped defeat
these critically important initiatives by ignoring them. They scarcely
mentioned them “in digital or TV ads, in their campaign literature or
on social media,” a New
York Times survey found. Nor, of course, were they mentioned
by the Republicans, whose leadership is dedicated to driving humanity
off the cliff as soon as possible — in full knowledge of what they are
doing, as easily demonstrated.
completely agree with Chomsky, but I do have an addition to make to his
"The fact that [the
nuclear and environmental threats] scarcely arose in the campaign is
truly stunning — and carries some important, if unpleasant, lessons
about our moral and intellectual culture":
Quite so, and my
suggestion (once more, and this is the stronger with me since I believe
this since more than 50 years, even though hardly anyone who writes as
a journalist ever mentions these two facts, as I
think they are) is that these "lessons about our moral and intellectual
culture" are (in my
opinion) that the majority of most voters anywhere are not intelligent
and not informed
about what they are voting on, but are stupid and ignorant.
Also, I am not
saying all are (for there clearly are intelligent and informed
voters), but I am saying most are (also see item
1) - and if you disagree, two probable reasons are that you are
less intelligent than I am and/or that you know less about politics.
Here is more:
Precisely. Here is
(..) It’s hard to find words to describe what is happening before our
The same is true of the
second truly existential threat: nuclear war. A few weeks before the
election, Trump announced that the US is withdrawing from the INF
treaty, which eliminated short-range missiles deployed in Western
Europe and Russia — extremely hazardous weapons, which have only a few
minutes flight-time to Moscow, posing a decapitation threat, a sudden
attack that would destroy any possibility of response. That, of course,
sharply increases the danger of a nuclear response to warnings given by
automated systems that have often failed in the past, thus ending all
Anyone familiar with the
record knows that it’s a virtual miracle that we have so far avoided
terminal nuclear war.
(..) In conditions of economic distress, a sense of hopelessness,
justified contempt for institutions, and understandable anger and
resentment about what is being done to them, people can become easy
prey to demagogues who direct their anger toward scapegoats, typically
those even more vulnerable, and who foster the symptoms that tend to
rise to the surface under such circumstances. That’s been happening,
worldwide. We see it in election after election in many countries, and
in other ways.
again, if ordinary voters, with an IQ between 85 and 115
(which is were most of them will fit) vote (in effect) for
nuclear war, for environmental destruction, or vote in leaders
like Trump and Bolsonaro - who is for torture, for
dictatorship, and for imprisoning, banishing or murdering his
political opponents - I conclude that the voters who did so are
in majority stupid or ignorant.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
(..) Research in academic political science has revealed that a large
majority of voters are literally disenfranchised, in that their own
representatives pay no attention to their wishes but listen to the
voices of the donor class. It is furthermore well established that
elections are pretty much bought: electability, hence policy, is
predictable with remarkable precision from the single variable of
campaign spending, both for the executive and Congress. Thomas
Ferguson’s work is particularly revealing, going far back
and including the 2016 election. And that is a bare beginning.
Legislation is commonly shaped, even written, by corporate lobbyists,
while representatives who sign it have their eyes on funding for the
Yes, I again fully
agree. There is a whole lot more in this article, that is strongly
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 (!!).