in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from February 9, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
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 9, 2019:
1. Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance
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. Ocasio-Cortez & Markey Unveil
Sweeping “Green New Deal”
3. Dems Accuse Trump Admin of “State-Sponsored Child Abuse”
4. Everybody Wants ‘Medicare for All’—Except Our Leaders
5. Capitalism’s New Clothes
Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State
is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It
starts as follows:
Indeed we do not
live (and never lived, and never will live) in ¨a
perfect world¨ and also I do not think that ¨sexually salacious
material¨ on Bezos (whom I dislike) should be spread around,
indeed for a similar reason that I would not like this about myself.
The National Enquirer has
engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a
seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire
and a notorious
labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.
On Thursday, Bezos published
emails in which the Enquirer’s parent company explicitly threatened
to publish intimate photographs of Bezos and his mistress, which
were apparently exchanged between the two through their iPhones,
unless Bezos agreed to a series of demands involving silence about the
In a perfect world, none of
the sexually salacious material the Enquirer was threatening to release
would be incriminating or embarrassing to Bezos: it involves consensual
sex between adults that is the business of nobody other than those
involved and their spouses. But that’s not the world in which we live:
few news events generate moralizing interest like sex scandals,
especially among the media.
And indeed in the very imperfect world in which we all live, ¨sexually salacious material¨ has
been collected since a long time, included the ¨browsing records of porn site and sex chats,
of people regarded by the U.S. Government as radical or radicalizing in
order to use their online sex habits to destroy their reputations¨ - which has been going on
probably for 17 or 18 years now:
Here is some more on
Indeed, one of the stories
we were able to report using the Snowden documents, one that
received less attention that it should have, is an active NSA program
to collect the online sex activities, including browsing
records of porn site and sex chats, of people regarded by the U.S.
Government as radical or radicalizing in order to use their online sex
habits to destroy their reputations. This is what and who the NSA, CIA
and FBI are and long have been.
Precisely (and this
is why I dislike Bezos, apart from the facts that he is much too rich,
and exploits his workers).
If Bezos were the political
victim of surveillance state abuses, it would be scandalous and
dangerous. It would also be deeply ironic.
That’s because Amazon, the
company that has made Bezos the planet’s richest human being, is a
critical partner for the U.S. Government in building an ever-more
invasive, militarized and sprawling surveillance state. Indeed, one of
the largest components of Amazon’s business, and thus one of the most
important sources of Bezos’ vast wealth and power, is working with the
Pentagon and the NSA to empower the U.S. Government with more potent
and more sophisticated weapons, including surveillance weapons.
Here is some more:
Quite so. Here is
the last bit that I quote from this article:
Bezos’ relationship with
military and intelligence wings of the U.S. Government is hard to
overstate. Just last October, his company, Blue Origin, won
a $500 million contract from the
U.S. Air Force to help develop military rockets and spy satellites.
Bezos personally thanked them in a tweet, proclaiming how “proud” he is
“to serve the national security space community.”
Yes, I take it this is a
fact. And this article, which contains a lot more than I quoted, is
Given how vital the
and spy agencies now are to Amazon’s business, it’s unsurprising that
the amount Amazon
pays to lobbyists to serve its interests in Washington has
exploded: quadrupling since 2013 from $3 million to almost $15
million last year, according to Open Secrets.
& Markey Unveil Sweeping “Green New Deal”
is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts
with the following introduction:
After months of
Democratic New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey introduced a resolution for the Green
New Deal Thursday, presenting a sweeping plan to achieve net-zero
greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, make major investments in public
transit and federal jobs, fully transition the U.S. electricity off
fossil fuels and codify indigenous peoples’ rights to prior consent and
approval for decisions that affect them. Democratic House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi seemed to mock the proposal on Wednesday, referring to it as a
“green dream, or whatever they call it.” We speak to journalist Kate
Aronoff, a fellow at the Type Media Center and a contributing writer to
The Intercept and Jacobin.
Quite so, and I wrote
about the Green New Deal before in Nederlog, and am - more or less - a
supporter of the idea.
Here is some more:
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: What I introduced today was a
resolution, not a bill. A resolution just has to pass the House. And
the substance of our resolution is not a plan, it’s the scope of the
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: And so, I think, in terms of the
scope of the plan, I think—I think we’re going to get there. We
launched with over 60 co-sponsors in the House. That is pretty crazy.
And so, we were able to launch on day one with 60 co-sponsors. We have
more rolling in. And I think we may even get a majority of the
Democratic Caucus on board.
I say, which I do (i) because
Ocasio-Cortez is correct that a resolution is not a bill
and (ii) because what she says seems to imply there may be a
majority for it in the House.
Here is some more:
GOODMAN: Now, I assume
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is bothered by this whole thing, because one
of the first things that Congressmember-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
did, before she became congressmember, is protest outside of the House
speaker’s office, specifically around this issue. But how significant
is it that she was mocking it and saying “this green dream, or whatever
this thing is, that everyone’s for”?
ORONOFF: Well, I think
it’s really significant because of just how much of an outlier it seems
like. You have politicians who, for so long, you know, have fashioned
themselves as sort of business-friendly centrists, all of a sudden, in
the last year, because of the sort of rising popularity of really
progressive ideas, because of Bernie Sanders, because of people like
Ocasio-Cortez, coming out and supporting plans for something as
ambitious as a Green New Deal. And so I think Pelosi really looks
increasingly like an outsider, even when she talks about climate and
even when she says, “I am committed to this issue.” Her solutions to
it, or, you know, so-called solutions to it, are not just up to the
task. And I think more people are seeing that.
I do not know whether
Oronoff is correct in these estimates, in part because Pelosi is quite
powerful while she will have the support of the mainstream/corporatist
media (which are the most popular).
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
ORONOFF: [W]hat this
resolution does is lay out 14 projects and has several principles over
which that process can be carried out and to get people to start
thinking about it. So, it includes sort of decarbonization of
electricity, robust investment in public transit, also things like
preventing the abuse of eminent domain, ensuring free, prior informed
consent for indigenous folks in seeing infrastructure built on
indigenous land. It’s a really sort of sweeping, broad legislation that
really puts the meat on the bones of the Green New Deal idea.
I think this is quite
correct and this is a recommended article.
Accuse Trump Admin of “State-Sponsored Child Abuse”
is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts
with the following introduction:
I say! And I do so because
it is news for me that "there may be thousands more missing immigrant
children who were separated from their parents than originally reported" - which I think is scandalous.
are acknowledging that there may be thousands more missing immigrant
children who were separated from their parents than originally
reported. This was the focus of a hearing on Thursday of the House
Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. We
speak to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU
Immigrants’ Rights Project. He is the lead lawyer on the ACLU’s
national challenge to the Trump administration’s family separation
practice. He testified at the hearing yesterday.
Here is more:
I have been saying, right
from the start of my hearing about Trump's "separating parents and
children, that for me this was straight kidnapping. In case you
disagree, here is the beginning of the article on kidnapping on
GOODMAN: That is
“state-sponsored child abuse” and “kidnapping” of children, said
Democratic Congressmember Jan Schakowsky, questioning Commander
Well, for more, we’re
joined by Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU
Immigrants’ Rights Project, lead lawyer on the ACLU’s national
challenge to the Trump administration’s family separation practice. He
was there yesterday. He testified before Congress.
law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person
against his or her will.
Kidnapping of a child is also known as child abduction, and these are sometimes
separate legal categories.
And I am saying
so, because this is the first time that I read that others
agree this is kidnapping (which seems a better term than "child
abduction", but that is an aside).
Here is more:
Note that (bolding added) "there are thousands more children" kidnapped than the 2700 that
ACLU agreed earlier on.
GOODMAN: What are we
talking about here? At this point, the Trump administration is
admitting that there are thousands more children—they don’t even know
what happened to them, but were separated from their parents?
GELERNT: So, yeah, these
are remarkable developments, one year into the litigation, and we’re
still getting bombshells. An internal report by HHS
said there may have been thousands more. They can’t put a number on it,
because no one has tracked the kids. HHS, at
the hearing yesterday, did not dispute that there may be thousands, but
says it would take too long to try and find the children, because
they’d have to go through individual files, they had no tracking system.
So, they know the kids were
given to sponsors. That could mean anything from foster care to a
parent to a relative to a distant relative.
Here is more:
Well, I can give
an answer, or in fact two answers, to Goodman's question. Because (i) those
who did kidnap the children were totally indifferent to the harm, pain
and traumas they caused, basically because (ii) they thought
South-American parents are closer to sub-humans than to humans (to
formulate it a bit carefully).
GOODMAN: How can thousands
of children have been taken that no one has records of?
GELERNT: Yeah, I mean, I
wish I had an answer for you. That’s the same stunning, you know, thing
that—what happened earlier, where they admitted that—they said there
were 2,700 kids. They couldn’t track them. The judge said, “The
government tracks property better than they track these kids.” We
thought it was over with these 2,700 kids. And now it may be that
there’s thousands more.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I say - so there may again
be thousands more than the thousands the ACLU is certain of.
And - of course - I completely agree that (i) "the standard is, you leave a child with their
parent unless the parent presents a danger to the child" and (ii) "what the Trump administration was doing" was (and is, according to Gelernt,
whom I believe) "taking
children away in a hope that it would
deter asylum seekers from coming to this country". This is a strongly recommended article.
GELERNT: You know, we have
established in court now a standard that can be used. But Commander
White was saying, as well, there’s no legislation setting out
standards. I think it might be worthwhile for Congress to make clear,
so it’s not just the court order, “These are the standards we want you
to follow.” He was pointing out that Congress has never set standards.
But it would be good if Congress set standards, but that’s no excuse
for what happened, because child welfare law in every state has a
standard. And the standard is, you leave a child with their parent
unless the parent presents a danger to the child. That’s not what the
Trump administration was doing. They were taking children away in a
hope that it would deter asylum seekers from coming to this country.
So, the fact that—
GOODMAN: And you’re
suggesting they’re still doing it.
GOODMAN: So, do you—
GELERNT: We know they’re
still doing it.
Wants ‘Medicare for All’—Except Our Leaders
is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Common Dreams and originally on Truthdig.
This is from near its beginning:
Yes indeed - and to answer
the last question: The question is utter bullshit in
a country were half of the tax money is given to the Pentagon to buy
more weapons and to modernize nuclear arms.
Today, right-wing media
outlets seem to have moved past denouncing Obamacare to their new
obsession against “Medicare for all.” Most Americans know Medicare as a
government-run health program for seniors. The name Medicare for all is
therefore self-explanatory and quite attractive to anyone who has
grappled with unaffordable co-pays and deductibles, rising premiums,
narrowly defined coverage or no health insurance at all. So it
shouldn’t surprise us that right-wing media wants to kill the
conversation before it even starts.
The basic premise of the
right-wing argument against Medicare for all is “How can we possibly
Here is more (and Kolhatkar seems to agree with the point I just made):
fearmongering and hand-wringing about looming tax increases to pay for
programs never seems to enter conservative logic when it comes to
questions of paying for tax breaks for the wealthy or the latest F-15
Setting aside the false
affordability arguments against Medicare for all (which Paul Waldman of
The Washington Post brilliantly
debunked by demonstrating that Medicare for all will cost only $32
trillion over 10 years compared to the $50 trillion we now spend each
decade), it ought to be considered a huge victory for proponents of
Medicare for all that right-wing media and conservative figures are
paying any attention to the issue.
Well... I would not
call it "a huge victory" but it seems a bit of a victory, I
Here is more:
Yes, this seems all quite
true to me. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
the progress on Medicare for all is how the so-called liberal media is
taking it seriously. Whether or not they get the story right, they are
at least exposing Americans to the idea, especially as a litmus test
for 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. The New
York Times wrote how “Medicare for All Emerges as Early Policy Test
for 2020 Democrats.” And while the paper did a poor job of accurately
explaining how the program would cost less than what we’re currently
paying for health care, it did showcase its popularity among
presidential hopefuls and the public, paying particular attention to
Sen. Bernie Sanders.
To summarize, the
media hates the idea of Medicare for all while liberal mainstream
outlets at least acknowledge it is an issue worth discussing. Most
importantly, the public really likes the idea, and a new
poll showed voters are likely to back candidates who adopt a
position in favor of Medicare for all. Even a majority
of Republicans are in favor of it. What this means is that the time
has finally come—although many decades late—for a serious legislative
push to make the popular idea a reality.
Yes, I agree and this
is a recommended article.
is by Evgeny Morozov on The Baffler. It has a subtitle, which I quote:
new book on “surveillance capitalism” emphasizes the former at the
expense of the latter
I quoted this because it
seems a fair summary of a long article (over 30 pages of text), that I
cannot excerpt well in Nederlog. But the above is Evgeny Morozov's
opinion (and this was a link to more about him) and he may be
correct or more correct than not.
Also, I paid attention to Shoshana Zuboff before in Nederlog and in
fact it was my interest in her that motivated my interest in Morozov's
As I said, it is impossible to excerpt Morozov's article in
Nederlog, but I did read all of it and I consider it
interesting and worthwile reading, although I also assume that those
who will read all of it probably do have some knowledge of Marxism and of
politics and economy.
Anyway. Here is some more:
In a series of
remarkably prescient articles, the first of which was published in the
German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the summer of 2013,
Shoshana Zuboff pointed to an alarming phenomenon: the digitization of
everything was giving technology firms immense social power. From the
modest beachheads inside our browsers, they conquered,
Blitzkrieg-style, our homes, cars, toasters, and even mattresses.
Toothbrushes, sneakers, vacuum cleaners: our formerly dumb household
subordinates were becoming our “smart” bosses. Their business models
turned data into gold, favoring further expansion.
I take it this is more
or less correct, although I do not think that "our formerly dumb household subordinates were
becoming our “smart” bosses":
That role is reserved for the human beings (billionaires) that
lead Google and Facebook, and to those rich folks they sell their
findings to, who then decide to manipulate the folks whose findings
they are of (who rarely know that much of all their data and
their privacies are stolen by many) in all manner of subtle ways.
Google and Facebook were
restructuring the world, not just solving its problems. The general
public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing
ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless. Zuboff saw a
logic to this digital mess; tech firms were following rational—and
terrifying—imperatives. To attack them for privacy violations was to
miss the scale of the transformation—a tragic miscalculation that has
plagued much of the current activism against Big Tech.
Here is more on Zuboff:
Zuboff’s pithy term
this regime, “surveillance capitalism,” has caught on. (That this term
had been previously used—and in a far more critical manner—by the
Marxists at Monthly Review, is a minor genealogical
inconvenience for Zuboff.) Her new, much-awaited book The Age of
Surveillance Capitalism exhaustively documents its sinister
operations. From Pokemon Go to smart cities, from Amazon
Echo to smart dolls, surveillance capitalism’s imperatives, as well as
its methods—marked by constant lying, concealment, and
manipulation—have become ubiquitous.
Yes, I take it this
is correct. Here is more:
Zuboff’s book makes clear
the promises of “surveillance capitalists” are as sweet as their
lobbying is ruthless. Tech companies, under the pompous cover of
disrupting everything for everyone’s benefit, have developed a panoply
of rhetorical and political tricks that insulate them from any pressure
from below. It helps, of course, that the only pressure
coming from below is usually the one directed at the buttons and
screens of their data-sucking devices.
Yes, I take it this
is also correct - and as far as I know the main reason tnat "the only pressure coming from below" - that is: from the (meanwhile: billions
of) people whose data, privacies and e-mails are being stolen -
because at most 1 in 50 has any fair idea of programming or of computers.
Here is more:
The worst, though, is still
to come, she argues, as tech giants shift from predicting behavior to
engineering it. “It is no longer enough to automate information flows about
us,” she warns; “the goal now is to automate us.”
This new global infrastructure
for engineering behavior produces “instrumentarian power,” as the
“panoptical power” of Zuboff’s first book transcends the walls of the
factory and penetrates the whole of society. Unlike totalitarian power,
it eschews physical violence; inspired by the brute behavioralist
insights of B.F. Skinner, it instead herds us towards desired outcomes
(think of insurance companies that charge higher premiums to riskier
clients). “Computation thus replaces the political life of the
community as the basis for governance,” Zuboff concludes.
I have two corrective
remarks on the above quoted two paragraphs.
The first remark is that I disagree
with Zuboff's statement that “the
goal now is to automate us”: I think that the end is to
manipulate us in anything that pays, directly or indirectly (and
here - as in (it appears) Zuboff's book as also in Morozov's article
about it - the security services from everywhere, who likewise
plug the cables to get everything passing through it, do hardly
And my second remark is that
I also disagree with Zuboff's statement that “Computation thus replaces the political life
of the community as the basis for governance”, for it is not
computation, as such, which does this, but the billionfold thefts of anything and everything
that people do with their computers, while also I do not
think (as yet, at least) that these billionfold thefts
"replace" "the political life of
the community", although indeed they
do make the manipulation of everyone a great lot
easier (and that manipulation pays for itself by
manipulating buyers to spend money on the advertisements
Here is some more:
More than a roll call of
victims of surveillance capitalism, Zuboff’s new book seeks to decode
its broader historical meaning. In a single sentence, it’s this:
“Google invented and perfected surveillance capitalism in much the same
way that a century ago General Motors invented and perfected managerial
capitalism.” This phrase does not mean to suggest that what is good for
Google is also good for America—even though that proposition would have
commanded wide assent among many Obama administration appointees.
Rather, Zuboff contends that surveillance capitalism is not the same
old capitalism only with extensive surveillance; rather, it’s a new
“economic order,” a “market form,” a “logic of accumulation.”
Well... for me,
Zuboff's thesis "that
surveillance capitalism is not the same old capitalism only with
extensive surveillance; rather, it’s a new “economic order”" may be correct, or more
correct than not, but I do not know (yet, and indeed also did
not read Zuboff's book, so far), indeed mostly because "the
customers" of capitalism will be very much
more manipulated, deceived, and lied to than they ever were before.
In contrast, it seems
Morozov's thesis that Zuboff does have a lot that is worthwile to know
about surveillance, but she is mistaken about capitalism. He may be
correct as well (but "capitalism" is a vague term).
Here is Morozov's
opinion, and this is also the last bit I quote from this article:
As a result, all these
theories—of “managerial capitalism,” “advocacy capitalism,”
“surveillance capitalism”—have a lot to say about each of the
adjectives that qualify them but are silent on matters of capitalism
itself, usually reducing it to something relatively banal, like the
fact that there are markets, commodities, and occasional social pacts
between capitalists and the rest of society.
And it also happens to
be the case that I did make my own analysis of both capitalism
and surveillance in November-December of 2012, and published that (for
the first time) on Christmas Day of 2012. Here it is: Crisis:
Christmas sermon: Hypotheses about CF+SS - and the abbreviations I used stand for Corporate
Fascism and the Surveillance State. It is strongly
recommended as is the present article.
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 (!!).