in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from April 17, 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 April 17, 2019:
1. First Julian Assange, Then Us
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. Bill McKibben: Climate Change,
Artificial Intelligence & Genetic
3. VIPS: The Fly in the Mueller Ointment
4. The Divisive Center vs. The Unifying Left
5. Robert Reich on America's inequality crisis
Julian Assange, Then Us
is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Yes, I basically agree
with Hedges. I do not know what position Prashad is in fact taking (I
guess rather close to Hedges) but in any case I am not
interested in "Assange’s
personality" for the simple
reason that I never met him or mailed
with him, and I am also not interested in what he has "done in Sweden" because that is too little, too long ago, and too
In a recent episode of
“On Contact,” Chris Hedges spoke with historian and Truthdig
contributor Vijay Prashad about the arrest of Julian Assange and its
possible ramifications. Read a transcript of their conversation below
or watch the interview at the bottom of the post.
Welcome to “On Contact.” Today we discuss the arrest of Julian
Assange with the historian Vijay Prashad.
You know if Chelsea Manning hadn’t decided to download that
material, if Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization hadn’t
decided to put that material out there, you and I who know these things
to be true because we’ve seen them, would never have been able to talk
about these things in such an open way. And yet that’s not the
conversation. The conversation became about Assange’s personality,
about what he’d done in Sweden and so on.
The arrest of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule
of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities embraced by the
Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange,
are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses,
corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the
corporate states and the global ruling elite, will be masked from the
public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity
to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected
to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement.
They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with
propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I
fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism
that will define our lives.
Here is some more:
Well... I certainly have
every article on
Assange", also not
were restricted to his arrest. Also, I am not quite clear who Hedges is
talking about in the above bit: The press or the American security
forces. I guess the latter, but I am not sure.
yet the press has—and I read every article on Assange, including the
editorial and Michelle Goldberg’s horrible column—has just bought into
this narrative without seeing that this is an assault on the ability of
a press to shine a light into the inner workings of power and in
particular, empire. That they, they are going after Assange. They’ve
found a kind of legal trick. They’ll charge [Assange with] attempting
to assist Manning to change a password, which even they admit he wasn’t
able to do. But that’s not why they’re lynching him. They’re lynching
him because he embarrassed them. He exposed their crimes.
Here is more:
Yes, I agree with this,
especially the last bit. Here is more by Hedges:
Well, let’s be frank. We know what has happened to the journalist
profession. I prefer to call many of my colleagues stenographers of the
state, people [who] take press releases from the government or they
accept what an official says. You just need to read the story, what is
the sourcing of the story? An official said, another official said, a
third official said, a fourth official said. Have you tried to verify
the information? What is your moral standard? The moral standard
of what appears in corporate media is largely the morality of the state
and of the national security system—they take that as ipso facto
the truth. That’s a problem for me.
Yes, I basically agree.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
We’ve just watched with the seizure of Assange, the violation of
several laws, of international law, the right to political asylum, the
violation of sovereignty under the Ecuadorian institution. You can’t—on
Ecuadorian soil which is what the embassy is considered—you can’t send
foreign police in. The whole imprisonment of Assange, who has never
committed a crime or even—certainly within Britain—been charged for a
crime. This whole bail thing was resolved. The Swedish charges
were dropped. This is a kind of microcosm of how these global elites
and this imperial power creates the kind of facade of law, but behind
the scenes eviscerate the law. It’s how we in the United States have a
right to privacy with no privacy. It’s how we have due process with no
Yes, I fear this is also
correct. As to "First
Assange. Then us.":
In the end, this is because of the internet, which is - by far -
best approach to neofascism
there has ever been, for now and since some
20 years, any "national security force" (basically anonymous spies) may
know everything about anyone. Also, I do not know how to
stop this. And
this is a strongly recommended article.
We must now all resist.
must in every way possible put pressure on the British government to
halt the judicial lynching of Julian Assange. If Assange is extradited
and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the
ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called “the enemy of
the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance,
the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging
by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem, and the ruthless
impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of
the rich, and consolidate the global oligarch’s total grip on power,
will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate.
First Assange. Then us.
McKibben: Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence & Genetic
is an article by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title.
It starts with the following introduction:
Has the human game begun
play itself out? That’s the daunting question posed in the new book by
environmentalist and journalist Bill McKibben. It’s called “Falter.”
Thirty years after McKibben wrote the first book about climate change
for a general audience, his new work examines looming threats to
humanity, including not only devastating climate chaos, but also
artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. We speak with McKibben
in our New York studio.
I more or less agree
with McKibben, in that I think it is by now realistic to consider
there may not be any humanity left bt 2050 or 2100 (especially
of a nuclear war); and that there are several reasons for this, notably
the "climate chaos" and "artificial intelligence", although I
understand the last term especially in the sense of the surveillance
state (see the link!), for the surveillance state knows
everything about almost everyone (or can find out), which in turn
that extremely few in any surveillance state can control hundreds
millions, either by misleading them or by arresting them.
Here is some more:
I more or less agree,
although I wonder how much McKibben knows about programming.
GOODMAN: (..) Well, Bill,
you talk so much about climate change. Interestingly, in this book, you
expand to talk about the threats of artificial intelligence, of genetic
McKIBBEN: Put it this way. You know, I’ve described climate
change as a possibility of ending nature. These new technologies have
the possibility of ending human nature, of taking us from what we’ve
been, all through our evolutionary past, and replacing us, quite
quickly, with something else. Some of those worries are practical: What
does AI do to people’s livelihoods as, you know, we start automating
everything that we do? Those practical problems are important, but
there’s a deeper problem around sort of human meaning that really gets
I talk a lot in the book
about the advances in human genetic engineering, because, as you know,
these are now no longer just some distant science fiction threat.
Here is some more:
First I answer the
question in the second quoted paragraph: "We" are doing this,
the "we" who are doing this are the rich, and to the rich anything is
good that keeps them alive, powerful and rich, including knowing
everything about anyone.
McKIBBEN: (..) [W]e don’t exactly know where the lines are,
but we begin to sense that there’s a problem about making machines that
are smarter than we are, much, much smarter. The scientists who talk
about this envision that sometime in the next 10, 20, 30 years,
computers, that have already shown they can beat us at chess and beat
us at poker and beat us at a lot of other games, will develop a kind of
far-reaching, more general intelligence that allows them to outthink
us. That’s why, you know, some of the leaders of the technological pack
start imagining futures where human beings are essentially pets of
these intelligences or whatever it is.
The question to ask
ourselves, one of the questions, anyway, is: Why are we doing this?
What thing is it that we need to do that requires us to run these kind
As to the first quoted paragraph: I am far less
concerned with "making
machines that are smarter than we are" than with the fact - as I think it is
- that with the present computers it has become possible to track
everyone who is on internet, and to find out almost everything they
and desire and
and to either mislead them on that basis,
or arrest them else.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
BILL McKIBBEN: (..) Look, we’re at such
an interesting moment in so many ways. We’re going to find out, in the
next 10, 20, 30 years, whether we have some hope of preserving the
planet and, with it, the civilizations that we’re accustomed to, and
whether we’re capable of preserving the idea of human beings as
something not just useful, but kind of beautiful. Look, it’s easy to
get annoyed with ourselves, you know? I get upset that human beings
have done such a poor job of responding to these threats, of allowing
so much injustice, whatever. Human beings are also, at root, funny and
kind and capable of great love. Those are things machines will never be
capable of, and we shouldn’t sacrifice them easily.
Well... I think I
with McKibben that "[w]e’re
going to find out, in the next 10, 20, 30 years, whether we have some
hope of preserving the planet and, with it, the civilizations that
we’re accustomed to" and this is a recommended article.
The Fly in the Mueller Ointment
This article is by
and is in fact a letter to the president of the USA. I
abbreviated the title. It has a subtitle:
bug in Mueller’s report to be released Thursday is that he accepts that
the Russian government interfered in the election. Trump should
challenge that, says VIPS.
starts as follows - and this article is both too long and a bit too
technical to excerpt completely. I will therefore give only two bits
from it, and this is the first:
FOR: The President
or less agree on the first and third paragraphs (in the text), but not
much with the second one, mostly because I think Trump will not
much and anyway fills most things that may be problematic for him with
ever new lies.
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: The Fly
in the Mueller Ointment
The song has
ended but the melody lingers on. The expected release Thursday of the
redacted text of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report on the
Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential
Election” will nudge the American people a tad closer to the truth on
But judging by
Attorney General William Barr’s 4-page summary, the Mueller report will
leave unscathed the central-but-unproven allegation that the Russian
government hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails, gave them to
WikiLeaks to publish, and helped you win the election. The thrust will
be the same; namely, even if there is a lack of evidence that you
colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, you have him to thank
for becoming president. And that melody will linger on for the rest of
your presidency, unless you seize the moment.
accepted that central-but-unproven allegation as gospel truth,
apparently in the lack of any disinterested, independent forensic work.
Following the odd example of his erstwhile colleague, former FBI
Director James Comey, Mueller apparently has relied for forensics on a
discredited, DNC-hired firm named CrowdStrike, whose credibility is on
a par with “pee-tape dossier” compiler Christopher Steele. Like Steele,
CrowdStrike was hired and paid by the DNC (through a cutout).
Here is the second bit that I quote:
too many Americans will still believe this because of the
mainstream-media fodder — half-cooked by intelligence leaks — that they
have been fed for two and a half years. The media have been playing the
central role in the effort of the MICIMATT (the
-Think-Tank) complex to stymie any improvement in relations with
Russia. We in VIPS have repeatedly demonstrated that the core charges
of Russian interference in the 2016 election are built on a house of
cards. But, despite our record of accuracy on this issue — not to
mention our pre-Iraq-war warnings about the fraudulent intelligence
served up by our former colleagues — we have gotten no play in
Yes, I basically
agree and I like the "Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-
complex", although it is a bit long. And this is a recommended article.
Most of us have
chalked up decades in the intelligence business and many have extensive
academic and government experience focusing on Russia. We consider the
issue of “Russian interference” of overriding significance not only
because that the allegation is mischievously bogus and easily
disproven. More important, it has brought tension with nuclear-armed
Russia to the kind of dangerous fever pitch not seen since the Cuban
missile crisis in 1962, when the Russian provocation was real —
authentic, not synthetic.
Divisive Center vs. The Unifying Left
This article is by
Peter Bloom on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Well... I very much
dislike Nancy Pelosi, and the second paragraph gives some reasons why,
that I will translate as follows:
Bernie Sanders shocked the
mainstream establishment this week by appearing on a Fox News Town
Hall. Even more surprisingly, he was triumphant on a station most known
for its fervent support for Trump and extreme Conservatism. In the
citadel of right wing media he effectively and convincingly promoted
progressive policies such as medicare for all. Even if only for a
night, he showed that a left wing agenda that promised to address
people's real economic and social problems could unify the country in a
common radical purpose.
Not surprisingly, though,
prominent Democrats were less than impressed.
Instead they criticized
Sanders leading up to the event as a divider, someone
more interested in populist rhetoric than actually leading the country.
This came on the heels of a widely seen interview with Democratic
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi where she directly attacked
progressives as being an insignificant minority who would inevitably
bow to her more "moderate" agenda. She proclaimed
that they "were like five people" and that "by and large, whatever
orientation they came to Congress with, they know that we have to hold
the center. That we have to be, go down the mainstream"
Nancy Pelosi's "mainstream", if it is limited to the
consists mostly of corrupt
Democrats, who are funded, directly or
indirectly, and from thousands to tenthousands and in a few cases
hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, that mostly come (it seems)
from the Wall Street Bankers (who paid over $500,000 to Hillary Clinton
for a few speeches, if you believe that).
That is not democracy: It is corruption.
Here is some more:
Yes, I think that is
basically correct. Here is some more:
It further mask the deep
seated partisanship at the heart of such self-proclaimed "moderation."
Anyone who disagrees with their politics are either "deplorables" or
"fanatics." Their hatred for the far right is perhaps only exceeded by
their disdain for the "far left." In their efforts to be all things to
all people, at once doing the bidding of their corporate donors while
claiming to represent those most impacted by it, they rely on a base
a[s] rabidly partisan and unreflective as those faith based
evangelicals and ignorant Trump supporters they most loathe.
Yes, I agree that politically
(and I don't know Sanders personally at all) Sanders has
himself to be a "democratic
socialist", but in fact he is mostly a social democrat (in politics).
Also, while I do not like the European social democrats a lot
despise the Dutch social democrats), I think that for the USA this is
probably as leftist as Sanders can go while remaining popular with many
Notably, while declaring
himself a "democratic socialist" his policies are firmly in the left of
centre liberal tradition of Roosevelt in the US and Social Democrats in
Europe. Where he and his acolytes are perhaps more revolutionary is in
their commitment to a new type of political unity—one based on a shared
desire to transform a corrupt system rather than tribal party
allegiances. His appearance on Fox News was less a media stunt than a
reflection of the progressive desire to bring the nation together in
reducing inequality and rebalancing political power for the advantage
of the majority.
Here is the ending
of this article:
I more or less agree
although I also think this is an example of wishful
thinking. What I
definitely agree with is that Trump must be defeated. And this
In 2020, the first
for most is and perhaps should be defeating Trump and stemming the
rising tide of fascism. It is also imperative we overcome the limits of
the divisive Centre—the mainstream ideas and politicians that continue
to divide us according to class, geography, and party. To truly
proclaim victory over Trump and all he stands for means embracing the
possibilities of a unifying Left.
Reich on America's inequality crisis
article is by Chauncey DeVega on Salon. I abbreviated the title. It
starts as follows:
Yes, I think all of the
above is mostly correct - and while I am one of the poorest
there is, especially if you count my income over the last 50 years,
which was until I was 65 always less than the legal minimum
(!!), I am still
better off than 6 in 10 Americans.
Some plain facts and hard
truths: The top one percent of Americans own 40 percent of the
country's wealth and 90 percent of its income.
When adjusted for
inflation, the average income in the United States has remained approximately the same for the last 40
years. By comparison, over the last two decades the richest
Americans have seen their income increase by three times, relative to
those of the poorest Americans.
If adjusted for economic
productivity, the federal minimum wage in America
would actually be at least $20 an hour, instead of the $7.25 it is
An increasingly large
number of Americans are unable to retire and will have to work until
they die. Roughly six in 10 Americans don't even have $1,000 they
could use for an emergency.
Twenty-six individuals have as much
wealth as the bottom half of the world's population. This is a
Anyway... in fact this is mostly an interview that DeVega had with
Reich, and the rest of my quotations from this article will be from
Here is the first bit:
Was the election of
Donald Trump a surprise to you? And what do you make of his enduring
I did not predict Donald
Trump per se. But for the last 25 years I have worried with increasing
vehemence about the widening divide in this country between a majority
that is losing economic security and social standing and a small
minority gaining most of the benefits of economic growth.
I could say the same as
Reich, but there is one difference between Reich and me, and that
that Reich is pro-capitalist while I am not. Then again, I would be
pro-socialist if I was at least fairly certain that most
win (but they don't) and that most revolutions once won will implement
the ideas and values of the revolutionaries (but again they don't).
Anyway... here is more:
How do we do a better job of explaining to the
American people how this type of gangster-capitalist kleptocracy is a
threat to them personally and also the country's democracy?
I think it's very important to emphasize that we are at an
inflection point, and a very dangerous one, with great wealth at the
top in a relatively few hands, This is incompatible with democracy.
This is not the first time this has happened. Louis Brandeis, the great
jurist, said in the 1920s, as the United States was coming out of the
Gilded Age, "We can have democracy in this country or we can have
wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."
Yes, I think Reich
correct about this. Here is some more by Reich:
There are two forms of populism. One is authoritarian. We
have seen this before in history when large numbers of people are
afraid, and then demagogues emerge who pretend that they are the
champions of the masses. These demagogues will target minorities as the
source of these anxieties. Trump has chosen immigrants and forces
outside the United States. But he has also gone after black athletes,
and indirectly supported white supremacists. In total Donald Trump has
fueled the ugliest kinds of divisiveness in the United States.
The other kind of populism is we might call democratic
populism. In 2016 Bernie Sanders represented that alternative, and at
this stage he is the only practical alternative to authoritarian
distinctions Reich draws are correct, although they are quite broad.
But I agree with the last statement of the above quotation.
Here is some more,
this time about "socialism" (as seen in the USA, by many):
have been talking that way for 85 years. They opposed Franklin D.
Roosevelt's plan for Social Security by calling it "socialism." They
opposed John F. Kennedy and his ideas for economic development as
"socialist". They opposed Lyndon Johnson's Medicare as "socialism." The
right wing has called socialism anything that helps average working
people. But it is much deeper than that. The actual rules and
regulations and laws that the wealthy are increasingly able to create
have tipped the balance in the United States largely in favor of
socialism for the rich and a brutal form of capitalism for almost
Well... firstly, what the
American rich, conservatives and neoliberals understand by "socialism"
has little or nothing to do with what I (or Orwell - and see Crisis: On Socialism )
understand by "socialism". And secondly, Reich's supposed "socialism for the rich" also is not
socialism at all, but is simply
capitalism while it is powerful.
So I disagree with
either socialism or "socialism". Here is the last bit that I quote from
If the United States
and its leaders, citizens and culture do not change there are going to
be Donald Trumps as far as the eye can see in the future. We are going
to lose our democracy. I also think the very survival of species is at
stake in terms of climate change and nuclear proliferation.
Yes, I agree with
The only difference might be that I put nuclear proliferation first,
but otherwise I am with Reich and this is a 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 3 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 (!!).