in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from February 6, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
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 three 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 February 6, 2019:
1. Fact Checking the 2019 State of the
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. How to Stop Facebook’s Dangerous App
3. Who Edits the Wikipedia Editors?
4. Netflix Paid $0 In Income Taxes Last Year
5. Will Europe Be Victim of Nuclear Power Plays?
Checking the 2019 State of the Union Address
is by Michael Tackett and Eileen Sullivan on The New York Times. It
starts as follows (and I converted all to pure text before copying):
leaned hard on the strength of the American economy during his second
State of the Union address on Tuesday, but with a blend of precise
statistics and gauzy superlatives that are much more difficult to
I have said several times
in Nederlog that I think fact-checking is important. It is
there is real truth in the world as well as real falsity,
philosophical and logical issues are quite complicated (and in fact do
require a knowledge of both philosophy and logic if these issues are to
be treated fairly).
He also returned to a theme
that dominated the second year of his presidency — a quest for a border
wall with Mexico to cope with what he said is a crisis of crime and
drugs in the United States caused by illegal immigration.
The two issues dominated his
address, which in tone was more measured than his biting Twitter feed,
but in substance contained numerous claims that were false or
Then again, I will not indulge in either philosophy or logic in
the crisis articles in my Nederlog. What I will do is quote the
of no less than 22 sayings by Trump in his State of the Union
Mr. Trump said that
American troops have been “fighting in the Middle East for almost 19
In fact there are 15 more such
statements, all with some additional text. The overall score is
have counted well) that Trump lied 5 times, spoke the truth 2 times,
spoke misleadingly 4 times, had no evidence 2 times, and
exaggerated 2 times. And this is a recommended article.
This is false.
Mr. Trump said that the United
States and allies have liberated virtually all of the territory held by
the Islamic State.
This is true.
Mr. Trump said that the United
States has spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.
Mr. Trump said he has a good
relationship with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Mr. Trump claimed El Paso
turned from one of the most dangerous to “one of our safest cities”
after a border barrier was built.
This is false.
Mr. Trump said the “socialist
policies” of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela have ruined his
Mr. Trump said he thought the
United States would be in a “major war with North Korea” if he had not
been elected president.
There is no
to Stop Facebook’s Dangerous App Integration Ploy
is by Sally Hubbard on The New York Times. It starts as follows (and I converted all to pure text before
In response to calls
that Facebook be forced to divest itself of WhatsApp and Instagram,
Mark Zuckerberg has instead made a strategic power grab: He intends to
put Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger onto a unified technical
infrastructure. The integrated apps are to be encrypted to protect
users from hackers. But who’s going to protect users from Facebook?
The answer to
the last question is: Absolutely no one. There is one
agency that might
have protected Facebook users, but it hardly worked:
Ideally, that would
be the Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged with enforcing the
antitrust laws and protecting consumers from unfair business practices.
But the F.T.C. has looked the other way for far too long, failing to
enforce its own 2011 consent decree under which Facebook was ordered to
stop deceiving users about its privacy claims. The F.T.C. has also
allowed Facebook to gobble up any company that could possibly compete
against it, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
I am sorry, but it is my opinion
that courts who made the above-quoted decision consist of judges
are totally moronic or totally corrupt: They should not
of products but privacies of users, but they do not, and also totally
gave up on privacies (which is a degenerate shame: without privacy a
person is without freedom).
Not that blocking these
acquisitions would have been easy for the agency under the current
state of antitrust law. Courts require antitrust enforcers to prove
that a merger will raise prices or reduce production of a particular
product or service. But proving that prices will increase is nearly
impossible in a digital world where consumers pay not with money but
with their personal data and by viewing ads.
Here is some more on Facebook:
The integration Mr.
Zuckerberg plans would immunize Facebook’s monopoly power from attack.
It would make breaking Instagram and WhatsApp off as independent and
viable competitors much harder, and thus demands speedy action by the
government before it’s too late to take the pieces apart. Mr.
Zuckerberg might be betting that he can integrate these three
applications faster than any antitrust case could proceed — and he
would be right, because antitrust cases take years.
But then again, the F.T.C.
may not due that and rather impose an inconsequential fine.
Here is some more:
Luckily, the F.T.C. has a way
to act quickly. Prompted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the agency
has been investigating Facebook for violating that 2011 consent decree,
which required it, among other things, to not misrepresent its handling
of user information and to create a comprehensive privacy program. The
F.T.C. can demand Facebook stop the integration as one of the
conditions for settling any charges related to the consent decree,
rather than just imposing an inconsequential fine.
If not stopped, the
integration will cement Facebook’s monopoly power by enriching its data
trove, allowing it to spy on users in new ways. Facebook might decide
to sync data from one app to another so it can better track users. And
Facebook needs user data: The reason it commands such a large share of
digital advertising is that it tracks users — and even people without
Facebook accounts — across millions of sites.
For me, this
pure computer terrorism, in part based on the sick greed of
in part based on the virtual or complete ignorance of computers and
programming in the great majority of Facebook users, and in part on the
wholesale destruction of all privacy to allow the security forces of
any country to know everything about any user anywhere - which
Facebook, Google etc. etc. because it is a purely technical matter if
the law is not kept, as it has not been
kept almost everywhere since
Here is a conclusion of this article:
After stopping Mr.
Zuckerberg’s integration plan, the F.T.C. should reverse the WhatsApp
and Instagram acquisitions as illegal under the Clayton Act, which
prohibits mergers and acquisitions where the effect “may be
substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.”
Undoing the mergers would give consumers an alternative to
Facebook-owned apps and force Facebook to do better.
I am afraid this is
what is going to happen and this is a recommended article.
competition, Facebook has little incentive to protect users by making
changes that could reduce profits. Users unhappy about data collection
and algorithms that promote fake news and political polarization don’t
have anywhere to go.
Edits the Wikipedia Editors?
is by Celisa Calacal on Truthdig and originally on the Independent
Media Institute. It starts as follows:
Yes, I agree with Colbert,
except that I think it is far more serious:
At face value, the website
Wikipedia advertises itself as the online, de facto encyclopedia. But
comedian Stephen Colbert had a different definition for the site on a 2007 episode of “The Colbert
it, “The encyclopedia where you can be an authority even if you
don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
Colbert, in his criticisms
of Wikipedia, coined the term “wikiality”
to signify a shift, that “when Wikipedia becomes our most trusted
reference source, reality is just what the majority agrees upon.”
I know that Wikipedia intentionally
articles, notably those on totalitarianism
(which are Brzezinski's
opinions, far more than any decent writer on totalitarianism),
and also all articles dealing with psychiatry, which seem
be written by the
psychiatrists of the American Psychiatric Association, which even
the consequence that totally correct English terms that exist since
the 1890ies, like "megalomania" are deleted from the
Wikipedia, and are replaced by psychiatrese (such as
"narcissistic personality disorder").
There undoubtedly are many more such cases. Here is some
Founded in 2001 by Jimmy
and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia has steadily grown to house more than 40 million articles
across 301 languages, and is the fifth most visited website
in the world. Although it holds power as an online arbiter and provider
of information, the forces driving its influence—as in, the people
creating and editing articles—are a vast network of volunteers.
Yes, I take it
this is all true. But there is some more: I have never felt the
slightest inclination to write anything for Wikipedia, because apart
from Wales and Sanger I have no idea about who anyone really is who
writes the articles on Wikipedia (which is quite different
and good encyclopedias), and besides, I found it utter nonsense
anyone, whoever he or she is (and mostly anonymous) could alter
anything in something I had written.
In fact, this is in part a known problem:
I think the first quoted
paragraph is correct, but the
second is misleading: The problem is not with "a majority of volunteer editors and
writers" but with the
that a possible writer like myself has no idea who they are, how good
they are, whether they have any academic status in academic subjects,
or what is their knowledge.
This centralized and
volunteer-based structure—the fact that anybody can make
changes or add information to any article on the site—might be cause
for concern for those worried about the accuracy and verifiability of
information found online. If just about anybody can become a
contributor to a robust online encyclopedia, who’s to say the
information is correct in the first place?
Then there’s the issue of
the review process for articles and edits that Colbert brought up: What
kind of truthfulness does information on Wikipedia really carry if it
is deemed factual simply because a majority of volunteer editors and
writers say so?
And Wikipedia also can be changed if
you have money:
Yes, of course. And my own
opinion on Wikipedia is that it is impossible for any ordinary user
a computer to really know what Wikipedia is and does, and that it
very difficult to know how correct an article is if it is not about a
subject you have - academically - studied yourself. It is for these
other reasons that I have not and never will contribute to Wikipedia.
And I do use it for Nederlog mostly because some articles are
and because it is easily available. This is a strongly
Past reports have also
that Wikipedia articles can be influenced by conflicting interests
willing to pay for the privilege. An
article by the Atlantic found that notable figures concerned with how they’re
portrayed on Wikipedia can pay freelancers, PR firms and Wikipedia
“experts” to make changes to certain articles. Of course, any changes
still need to pass the verifiability test, but contributors acting in a
certain party’s interest—rather than analyzing the pure accuracy of
sources—can still skew the bias of Wikipedia articles.
4. Netflix Paid $0 In Income Taxes Last Year
is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. I changed the title. It starts as
Whether you paid $8.99 for
basic, $12.99 for standard, or splurged for
the $15.99 premium package so you would have the privilege of watching
endless streaming shows and movies on Netflix last month, a new
analysis shows you still paid much, much more than the company paid in
federal and local income taxes for the entire year.
to Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and
Economic Policy (ITEP), "The popular video streaming service Netflix
posted its largest-ever U.S. profit in 2018—$845 million—on which it
didn't pay a dime in federal or state income taxes."
Not a dime. Not
"In fact," noted Gardner
blog post on ITEP's website on Tuesday, "the company reported a
$22 million federal income tax rebate."
Of course that is a
shame (and no, I never used Netflix): You make nearly a billion
profits, but you need not pay a single cent in taxes, while you get $22
million in tax rebate.
Here Gardner is quoted:
A 2017 ITEP
report identified Netflix as one of 100 profitable Fortune 500
corporations that paid a 0 percent federal income tax rate in at least
one profitable year between 2008 and 2015. In fact, Netflix did it
twice, and paid an average tax rate of 13.6 percent over the eight-year
period, meaning that the company sheltered more than half of its
profits from the 35 percent federal income tax rate in effect at the
I think this is all true (and
also suggests that something like 20% of the "profitable Fortune 500
corporations" may have similar
arrangements, although I do not know this).
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
"Netflix appears to be
bit as unaffected by corporate tax laws now as it was before President
Trump's 'reform,'" Gardner concludes. "This is especially troubling
because Netflix is precisely the sort of company that should be paying
its fair share of income taxes."
a recommended article.
Europe Be Victim of Nuclear Power Plays?
is by Der Spiegel Staff on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:
On Friday, American
President Donald Trump made good on his threat to pull the U.S. out of
the INF treaty, meaning one of the last two remaining major disarmament
treaties between the U.S. and Russia will expire after six months.
Nuclear arms control, which has provided Europe with security and
stability for more than three decades, will be history. The result
could be a new global arms race.
What may at first glance
appear to be a regression to the chilliest days of the Cold War, is in
fact much more dangerous. When Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev
signed the INF treaty back in 1987, the world was far less complicated.
There were only two superpowers, each of which was disinclined to use
its nukes thanks to the prospect of Mutually Assured Destruction.
After the treaty was
signed, thousands of cruise missiles and rockets with ranges between
500 and 5,500 kilometers were destroyed. Today, there are around a
dozen countries -- including China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan
and North Korea -- that have their own midrange rockets.
Yes, quite so -
and I should immediately say that this is quoted from a long
two parts that is too long to properly excerpt in Nederlog.
But I will give three more quotes from it, and this is the first:
Quite so. Here is some more:
The latest generation of
nuclear missiles are difficult to intercept. Advanced warning times
have become so short that humans are barely capable of reacting. The
danger of an unintentional escalation -- i.e., an accidental nuclear
war -- is growing.
The mistrust among today's
nuclear powers has reached a level not seen since the peak of the Cold
War. When the INF treaty was signed, Russia was led by Gorbachev, the
architect of glasnost. Fast forward to today and the current Russian
president, Vladimir Putin, uses unpredictability as a political weapon.
And in Washington, President Trump doesn't see why the U.S. shouldn't
just use its nuclear weapons.
I think this is also
correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The biggest impact of the
collapse of the INF treaty is likely to be on Europe. NATO Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg speaks of a "great new risk for Europe" and
has threatened Russia with countermeasures. "The collapse of the INF
treaty is bad for NATO, bad for our security and bad for our
relationship with Russia," warns Wolfgang Ischinger, the head of the
Munich Security Conference.
Again I think this is quite
correct. As I said, there is a whole lot more in this article
parts), which is strongly recommended.
With only a few minutes
they reach their destination, the flight time of medium-range missiles
is so short that it is hardly possible for the opponent to even react.
Cruise missiles like the Russian SSC-8 may be significantly slower than
rockets because they are powered like a jet by a turbine, but they can
adapt their flight path to the terrain and fly so low at a height of 15
to 100 meters that they are barely detectable by the enemy radar and,
as such, by missile defense systems.
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 (!!).