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March 23, 2018

John Bolton - The Man With A Hammer Is Looking For Nails

President Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin to his reelection as president of the Russian Federation. It was a matter of simply courtesy to do so. The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (aka the National Security Advisor), three star general McMaster, had advised him to not congratulate Putin. (McMaster now claims differently.) That was bad advice. But it became even worse when McMaster, or someone in his shop, promptly leaked this to the press. The usual Republican nutters like John McCain grumbled and Trump was furious.

Trump decided to fire McMaster the very next day. He had it coming. Both the White House Chief of Staff Kelly as well as the Secretary of Defense Mattis wanted McMaster out. Unfortunately for them Trump chose a replacement that they did not want and will find difficult to live with.


John Bolton is not a neo-conservative. He does not dream of 'spreading democracy' or 'nation building'. He is a 'smash, burn and leave' libertarian hawk. He is also an exceptionally avid bureaucrat who knows how to get the things he wants done. That quality is what makes him truly dangerous. Bolton is known for sweet-talking to his superiors, being ruthless against competitors and for kicking down on everyone below him.

Soon Netanyahoo will have the cabinet in place in DC he always dreamed of. A hawkish Pompeo at State, a real torturer as head of the CIA and now Bolton are already sufficient to protect Israel's further expansion. Kelly and, only later on Mattis will likely be the next to get fired. That will eliminate the last people with access to Trump who have some marginal sanity on war and peace issues. Trump will be completely isolated and easy to manipulate.

Bolton has a hammer and he will find lots of nails. Like Hillary Clinton he will want to fight with Iran, North Korea, Russia, China and others in no particular order. He will want to destroy Syria. He is cozy with the Kurds and the Iranian terror cult MEK. He addressed (vid) their congress eight years in a row and made lots of money for saying things like this:

"[B]efore 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran.”

Bolton has little concern for U.S. allies except, maybe, for Israel.

His first priority will be to prevent the announced summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un. He will want more sanctions on North Korea and may argue for a 'preventive' strike against it. He does not care that such a strike will certainly kill tens of thousands of Koreans in the north and south and several thousand U.S. soldiers and civilians.

New sanctions on North Korea are problematic as Trump has just put additional tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. imports of Chinese goods. (The Chinese response is smart: Tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods from states that Trump won.) Why should China and Russia (and South Korea) help the U.S. to strangulate North Korea when they themselves are under fire? To prevent a U.S. strike that may come anyway the very next day?

The Europeans who were part of the nuclear agreement with Iran have to answer a similar question. Why offer Trump a 'compromise' over the JCPOA when the chances are now high that he will destroy it anyway?

What will Bolton do on Syria? Will he try to find a new agreement with Erdogan and drag Turkey away from endorsing Russia's polices in Syria? If he manages to do so, Syria's north will become a shared Turkish-U.S. entity and will be lost for a long time. New attacks on the Syrian government, from the north, south and east, where the U.S. re-trains ISIS into a new 'moderate rebel' army, would then open the next phase of the war.

So far the mean time of survival for Trump appointees is some six to eight months. Let us hope that John Bolton's appointment will - in the end - lower that average.

Posted by b at 11:50 AM | Comments (79)

March 22, 2018

Open Thread 2018-12

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:10 PM | Comments (131)

March 21, 2018

Russian Scientists Explain 'Novichok' - High Time For Britain To Come Clean (Updated)

A week ago we asked if 'Novichok' poisons are real. The answer is now in: It is 'yes' and 'no'. Several Russian scientist now say that they once researched and developed lethal poisons but they assert that other countries can and have copied these. 'Novichok', they say,  is a just western propaganda invention. They see the British accusations as a cynical plot against Russia. The people who push the 'Novichok' accusations have political and commercial interests.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May insinuated that the British-Russian double agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who collapsed on March 4 on a public bench in Salisbury, were affected by a 'Russian' nerve agent:

It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. It is part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.

Theresa May's claims are highly questionable. 

Maria Zakharova, spokeswomen of the Russian Foreign Ministry: "'Novichok' has never been used
in the USSR or in Russia as something related to the chemical weapon research" - bigger

A highly potent nerve agent would hurt anyone who comes in contact with it. But the BBC reported that a doctor who administered first aid to the collapsed Yulia Skripal for 30 minutes was not affected at all. Another doctor, Steven Davies who heads the emergence room of the Salisbury District Hospital, wrote in a letter the London Times:

Cont. reading: Russian Scientists Explain 'Novichok' - High Time For Britain To Come Clean (Updated)

Posted by b at 08:37 AM | Comments (185)

March 20, 2018

Cambridge Analytica And The Manipulation Of People

by Debs is Dead
lifted from a comment

MoA-ites correctly distrust every word emanating from the mealy mouthed Guardian because it has been used in a vicious campaign to advance the interests of Zionists to the point where the well being of Guardian readers has been relegated below the interests of apartheid Israel.

Nevertheless having a bit of a shufti at the loudly trumpeted Facebook-Cambridge Analytica expose is an essential act for anyone who wants to try to get a grip on how populations are being deliberately manipulated.

There is a relatively easy to digest video here where Christopher Wyllie, a computer scientist, outlines the birth of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, the CEO and the method used to sell the development of the corporation to Steve Bannon, CA's first customer and Robert Mercer, the Wall Street financier who underwrote the cost of setting up the corporation.

I recommend spending the 13 minutes required to watch the video because Wyllie's summation of what they did and why is horrifying. Lines such as "If you want to change the way a person votes you have to change the culture the person lives within." and "to change a culture, first you have to smash the existing one then grab the pieces and mold it into the shape you want the culture to be".

Cont. reading: Cambridge Analytica And The Manipulation Of People

Posted by b at 05:01 AM | Comments (110)

March 19, 2018

NHS Doctor: "No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury"

There have been some interesting developments in the alleged poisoning case of the British-Russian double-agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The British governments standing on the issue is getting worse as more inconsistencies and doubts on its statements come to light. The international support for its claims is weakening.

On March 4 the Skripals collapsed on a public bench in Salisbury in England after they had visited a pub and a restaurant. They were brought to the local hospital. A local policemen was probably also affected. (See our previous posts, liked at the end, for many additional details.) A week later, on March 12, the British government said that a nerve agent was the cause of the incident and accused Russia of being responsible for the act:

Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with Novichok—a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia. Based on this capability, combined with Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations—including against former intelligence officers whom it regards as legitimate targets—the UK Government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act.

Novichok is not a nerve agent but supposedly a group of chemical substances investigated in the Soviet Union for their nerve agent potential. Only recently have some of these substances been synthesized.

Former ambassador Craig Murray reported that the formulation "... a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, ..." was a compromise negotiated between the British government and its chemical weapon specialists in its Porton Down laboratory. Note that the statement does not implicate at all that Russia is involved in the current case.

The British government demanded a Russian response within 24 hours without presenting any evidence of Russian involvement. Russia rightly pointed out that such a demand is in breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) procedures as supervised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and rejected it.

The U.S, Britain, France and Germany issued a common supporting statement which repeated the British formulation:

This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.
We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility. We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury.

Since then many questions and doubts about the British government's Noviochok drama have been raised. Bit by bit the case is falling apart.

Consider for example this picture which shows Mr. Skripal and his daughter Yulia presumably in the pub or the restaurant they visited before they collapsed. Who is the third person, visible in the mirror between them, who took the picture?

Via Maxim A. Suchkov and Дмитрий Стешин - bigger

Cont. reading: NHS Doctor: "No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury"

Posted by b at 04:11 PM | Comments (142)

March 18, 2018

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-11

The last week at Moon of Alabama was heavy on 'Novichok'. But that story it is only one act in a much larger play.

Mar 11 - Syria - The Fall Of Two Cities

This morning Afrin fell to the Turkish supported Takfiris. Over the last days civilians and YPG fighters fled the area. The Kurdish YPG made no serious attempt to defend the city. They left large stacks of ammunition behind. The Turkish government will now 'settle' its own people in Afrin and, in two to five years, will let them vote to be annexed by Turkey. This chanin of events was easy to see but the political stupidity of the Kurdish leadership is immeasurable.

The Syrian army continues to split Takfiri held areas of east-Ghouta into tiny pieces. Ten thousands of civilians have fled from the Takfiri to the government's side. Negotiations over the evacuation of the 'rebel' fanatics are ongoing. In a week or two the whole area will be liberated and under government control. A 'chemical factory', likely used to prepare chemical weapons, was found in the already librated area.

The Russian Defense Ministry loudly warns that U.S. paid provocateurs plan a "chemical incident" to then accuse the Syrian government. The U.S. has sortied ships, say the Russians, to 'respond' to such an incident with a swarm of cruise missiles on Syrian government targets. If that happens, Russia said, it will attack any detected missile launching platform.

Mar 12 - Theresa May's "45 Minutes" Moment

The British government again lies about chemical weapons.

Mar 13 - Trump Orders Rexit - Torture Woman To Head CIA - (Updated)

Who is the next to be fired by Trump? Mattis or McMaster?

Mar 14 - Are 'Novichok' Poisons Real? - May's Claims Fall Apart

The 'Novichok' story, as told by the British government, can not be true.

Mar 16 - The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?

The piece was updated quite often with additional facts and supporting links. Early readers may want to reread it.

A big thank you to all commentators for the extensive and very disciplined discussion of our 'Novichok' posts. These could not be published without your support.

Mar 17 - Guardian Rips-Off Goebbels - Fascist Propaganda For Better Anti-Russian Smears

The post was somewhat updated with this comment.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 10:44 AM | Comments (116)

March 17, 2018

Guardian Rips-Off Goebbels - Fascist Propaganda For Better Anti-Russian Smears

Just recently the Rothschild organ The Economist depicted the Russian president Putin as a dangerous octopus.


The idea was not original at all. Russia has been the favored target of this denigrating comparison for more than a century.

The Guardian, no less anti-Russian than the Economist, now follows suit.


The Steve Bell Guardian cartoon, just like the Economist cover, demonstrates a lack of creativity and originality. The spider cartoon is an obvious rip-off from a anti-Russian Nazi campaign:

Cont. reading: Guardian Rips-Off Goebbels - Fascist Propaganda For Better Anti-Russian Smears

Posted by b at 03:17 PM | Comments (91)

March 16, 2018

The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?

The Skripal incident is now, by chance or by design, part of a much larger campaign about 'western' dominance over 'the east'. Russia, which ended the unilateral moment of U.S. nuclear primacy, is currently the main target. The situation is extremely dangerous as any further escalation, in the Middle East, the Ukraine ore elsewhere, might lead to a war between nuclear armed powers.

The government decreed 'truth' about the Skripal case has many discrepancies. The connection of the case to Russia is much weaker than the propaganda claims. But doubt and dissent about it are not allowed to prevail.

The political response to the incident around the British-Russian double-agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter started slowly. On Sunday, the 4th of March, Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a public bench in Salisbury, England. The local police and emergency services took care of them.

Only on March 8 did the case start to make larger waves. The BBC reported:

Addressing the House of Commons, the home secretary [Rudd] said the attack was "attempted murder in the most cruel and public way".
She refused to speculate on whether the Russian state might have been involved in the attack, saying the police investigation should be based on "facts, not rumour".

Besides Skripal and his daughter one police officer was affected:

A police officer, who was in intensive care, is now "stable and conscious", Wiltshire's chief constable said.

It is unclear where the officer is thought to have contacted the alleged poison. Some reports said it was at Skripal's house, others say that it was at the bench where the Skripal's collapsed.

But a doctor and others who administered first aid were not affected at all:

Cont. reading: The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?

Posted by b at 12:26 PM | Comments (263)

March 14, 2018

Are 'Novichok' Poisons Real? - May's Claims Fall Apart

The British government claims that 'Novichok' poisons, developed 30 years ago in the Soviet Union, affected a British double agent. But such substances may not exist at all. The British government further says that the Russian government is responsible for the incident and has announced penalties against the country.

A comparable incidents happened in 2001 in the United States. Envelopes with Anthrax spores were sent to various politicians. Some people died. The White House told the FBI to blame al-Qaeda but the Anthrax turned out to be from a U.S. chemical-biological weapon laboratory.  The case is still unsolved.

The 'whistle-blower' Vil Mirzanyanov who 'revealed' the 'Novichok' program and its poisons published chemical formulas that should enable any decent laboratory to reproduce them. But neither the existence of the claimed program nor the existence of the alleged substances were ever accepted by the scientific community. The Russian government says it does not know the program nor the alleged poisons.

The highly constructed drama around the alleged poisoning of a British double agent Skripal and his daughter has thus turned into a surreal play. The British government has so far given no evidence that the Skripal's were poisoned at all, or that they were poisoned by someone else. No detailed medical bulletin was published. The British accusations against Russia lets one assume that a suicide attempt has been excluded. Why?

There is no independent evaluation of the alleged poison. The British government claims that its own chemical weapon laboratory at Porton Down, only a few miles from where the incident happened, has identified the poison as one of the 'Novichok' chemicals.

But in 2016 a leading chemist at Porton Down had doubts that such chemicals exist. (Paul McKeigue, Professor of Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology at Edinburgh University, Piers Robinson, Professor of Politics, Society and Political Journalism at Sheffield University and the former British Ambassador Craig Murray point this out):

As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown.

Cont. reading: Are 'Novichok' Poisons Real? - May's Claims Fall Apart

Posted by b at 03:17 PM | Comments (210)

March 13, 2018

Trump Orders Rexit - Torture Woman To Head CIA - (Updated)

U.S. President Donald Trump just fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 12:44 PM - 13 Mar 2018
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

According to the anti Russian propagandists (vid) Tillerson got the job because Trump loves Russia and Tillerson was in good standing with Putin. The same people now claim that Tillerson was fired from his job because Trump loves Russia and Tillerson was not in good standing with Putin.

Neither is correct. The plan to oust Tillerson and elevate Pompeo to State has been rumored and written about for several month. The plan was "developed by John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff". It had nothing to do with Russia. 

Tillerson never got traction as Secretary of State. Congress disliked him for cutting down some State Department programs. Trump overruled him publicly several times.

There is some contradiction in the statements coming from the White House and the State Department. According to the Washington Post:

Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.

Last Friday Tillerson suddenly fell ill while traveling in Africa and canceled several scheduled events.

But a statement by Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein contradicts the Friday claim:

"The Secretary had every intention of staying, because of critical progress made in national security. [...] The Secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason.”

Tillerson knew he was fired but did not tell his staff?

From the Associated Press White House correspondent:

Zeke Miller @ZekeJMiller - 3:49 PM - 13 Mar 2018
WH official says chief of staff John Kelly called Tillerson Friday and again on Saturday. Both calls to Tillerson, the official says, warned that Trump was about to take imminent action if he did not step aside. When Tillerson didn't act, Trump fired him.

And shortly thereafter:

NBC Politics @NBCPolitics - 4:22 PM - 13 Mar 2018
JUST IN: Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein is being fired for contradicting the account of Rex Tillerson’s dismissal, White House official tells @PeterAlexander

Thus ends the 2018 insurrection at State.


With Tillerson leaving Secretary of Defense Mattis is losing an ally in the cabinet:

[I]t starts with me having breakfast every week with Secretary of State Tillerson. And we talk two, three times a day, sometimes. We settle all of our issues between he and I, and then we walk together into the White House meetings. That way, State and Defense are together.

Mattis sometimes calming influence over Trump on military issues will now become less effective.

CIA head Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, is a neoconservative with a racist anti-Muslim attitude and a special hate for Iran which he compared to ISIS. That he will now become Secretary of State is a bad sign for the nuclear agreement with Iran. The Europeans especially should take note of that and should stop to look for a compromise with Trump on the issue. The deal is now dead. There is no chance that a compromise will happen.

The new CIA director Gina Haspel is well known for actively directing and participating in the torture of prisoners at 'black sites':

Beyond all that, she played a vital role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes that showed the torture of detainees both at the black site she ran and other secret agency locations. The concealment of those interrogation tapes, which violated multiple court orders as well as the demands of the 9/11 commission and the advice of White House lawyers, was condemned as “obstruction” by commission chairs Lee Hamilton and Thomas Keane.

Haspel would be in jail if former president Barack Obama had not decided against prosecuting the CIA torture crimes. Torturing prisoners is a war crime. Obstruction of courts and destruction of evidence are likewise crimes.

Both, Pompeo and Haspel, will need to be confirmed by Congress. Both will receive a significant number of 'yes'-votes from the Democratic side of the aisle.

Posted by b at 11:01 AM | Comments (134)

March 12, 2018

Theresa May's "45 Minutes" Moment

Today the British government made some dubious assertions about Saddam's chemical weapons the poisoning of its double agent Sergej Skripal.


The British Prime Minister Theresa May claimed (saved tweet) in Parliament that:

  • Sergej Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.
  • The nerve agent was part of a group of agents known as 'Novichok'.
  • Russia has previously produced the agent and would still be capable of doing so.
  • Russia has a record of conducting state sponsored assassinations.
  • The British government assesses that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets.
  • The British government concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergej and Yulia Skripal.

May went on to claim that:

Cont. reading: Theresa May's "45 Minutes" Moment

Posted by b at 03:41 PM | Comments (181)

March 11, 2018

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-10

Mar 6 - The New Yorker Attempts But Fails To Boost The Steele Dossier

This hyping of Steele as an honest man who only did his duty is pretty disgusting. What was Jane Mayer paid for writing such an inaccurate and unobjective portrait?

Mar 7 - No, Russians Do Not Hack The FCC's Public Comments

In which a federal communication commissioner proves that she has zero understanding of basic web communication.

Mar 8 - Poisoned British-Russian Double-Agent Has Links To Clinton Campaign

The British government and its media are trying their best to make a big scare out of the alleged poisoning of a turned Russian spy. They are blaming Russia without providing any evidence. The Russian government had nothing to win from killing him. Meanwhile the quite direct connection between the poisoned double-agent and the fake Steele dossier is swept under the carpet.

Mar 9 - Trump Threatens Peace In Korea

Lots of powerful entities, including the government of Japan, conservatives in South Korea, the U.S. miliary, the military industry and its hundreds of lobby shops are all interested in making the talks fail. The want war or at least the perception of imminent war. If Trump can get to some agreement with North Korea he deserves some laurels.

Mar 11 - Syria - The Fall Of Two Cities

Anna video footage of the fight in east-Ghouta.

Other issues (I should have written about):

Cont. reading: Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-10

Posted by b at 01:48 PM | Comments (54)

Syria - The Fall Of Two Cities

The Turkish proxy Takfiris have nearly encircled the Kurdish held city of Afrin. The water supply to the city is cut off. It will fall within a few days.

Map by Syrian Civil War Map - bigger

This is the direct result of gigantic miscalculations by the YPG Kurds who controlled the Afrin area. They had a clear offer from the Syrian and Russian government: Hand over the administration to the legitimate Syrian government and the Syrian army will come and defend your land.

They rejected that offer multiple times. They thought they could withstand an attack by a numerical superior enemy which has abundant air and artillery support. Hizbullah can do that but the Kurds are not Hizbullah. Their defense network was mediocre with bunkers easily visible (vid) from the air and ground and without any water supply and other necessities. These medieval fortifications were built over years but fell within hours. There was apparently no second line to fall back to. The tactical military abilities the YPG Kurds have shown were rather amateurish. The announced reinforcements from east Syria made no difference. Now their 'canton' is lost to a very hostile forces. Can it ever be regained?

Meanwhile the U.S. is on the verge of giving away the Kurdish held Manbij to the Turks.

In 2016 the Kurdish PKK attempted to hold onto 'autonomous' city-centers in eastern Turkey. The Turkish army simply shelled those areas into rubble. There insurrection ended with a catastrophic loss of Kurdish fighters. The Kurdish attempts to expand their lands in Iraq by stealing the oil fields of Kirkuk were thoroughly defeated. Now Afrin is lost too.

Why does anyone believe that the Kurds deserve their own state? Their leaders are corrupt and have zero statesmanship. They hang onto illusory aims and ignore the realities of life. Will the Kurds ever learn?

The Syrian Arab Army has split east-Ghouta next to Damascus into two and soon three parts.

Map by Peto Lucem - bigger

Some 70% of the whole east-Ghouta area that the Takfirs held for six years is now liberated. The Syrian army will continue to take the more rural parts and will then keep the upbuild areas (Harasta, Duma, Arbin, Jobar) under fire until the various Takfiri groups agree to give up or to be moved to Idleb governorate. The fall of these Saudi and Turkish proxy forces from their fake 'revolution' throne is another huge victory for the Syrian people. Negotiations about a transfers are ongoing. In Idleb they can join the ongoing Takfiri against Takfiri war between the Turkish supported head-choppers and al-Qaeda aligned hangmen.

Is there a deal between Syria, Russia, Iran and Turkey about an 'exchange' of east-Ghouta for Afrin? The parties are very tightlipped about the issue which lets me assume that something of that kind has been agreed upon.

Eliminating the east-Ghouta enclave will free the large number of Syrian soldiers that were necessary to keep the area surrounded. Those troops will likely move south to liberate Deraa city and all land up to the Jordan border. There are  strong economic reasons for freeing up the Damascus-Amman highway and the border station in-between.

Posted by b at 01:02 PM | Comments (48)

March 09, 2018

Trump Threatens Peace In Korea

The mainstream commentariat:

Then: Trump is a madman who wants to lead us into war against North Korea.

Now: Trump is a madman who wants to lead us towards peace with North Korea.

Rory Yeomans

I welcome the announced meeting of Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.

The imperial military-industrial complex will do its best to sabotage it. Billions of dollars of planned revenue may soon evaporate.

Kim Jong Un has so far shown himself as an excellent strategist. He offered direct talks at the exactly right moment. Trump blindsided all the hawks, worrywards and bureaucrats in his staff by suddenly agreeing to them. If this brinkmanship succeeds the South Korean President Moon deserves a peace price for arranging it.

The best venue for the meeting is?

Posted by b at 03:55 PM | Comments (125)

March 08, 2018

Poisioned British-Russian Double-Agent Has Links To Clinton Campaign

On Sunday a former British-Russian double agent and his daughter were seriously injured in a mysterious incident in Salisbury, England. The British government says that both were hurt due to "exposure to a nerve agent". Speculative media reports talk of Sarin and VX, two deadly nerve-agents used in military chemical weapons. Anonymous officials strongly hint that 'Russia did it'.

New reports though point to a deep connection between the case and the anti-Trump/anti-Russia propaganda drive run by the Obama administration and the Hillary Clinton election campaign.

Sergei Skripal once was a colonel in a Russian military intelligence service. In the early 1990s he was recruited by the MI6 agent Pablo Miller. He continued to spy for the Brits after his 1999 retirement. The Russian FSB claims that the British MI6 paid him $100,000 for his service. At that time a Russian officer would only make a few hundred bucks per month. Skripal was finally uncovered in 2004 and two years later convicted for spying for Britain. He was sentenced to 18 years and in 2010 he and other agents ware exchanged in a large spy swap between the United States and Russia. Skripal was granted refuge in Britain and has since lived openly under his own name in Salisbury. His wife and his son died over the last years of natural causes. The only near relative he has left is his daughter who continued to live in Russia.

Last week his daughter flew to Britain and met him in Salisbury. On Sunday they went to a pub and a restaurant. At some point they were poisoned or poisoned themselves. They collapsed on a public bench and are now in intensive care. A policeman on the scene was also seriously effected.

Authorities have declined to name the substance to which the pair is suspected to have been exposed, but:

Local media had on Monday reported the substance found at the scene to be similar to fentanyl: a lethally strong opioid available even on Salisbury's soporific streets.

The British government is hinting at Russian involvement:

Cont. reading: Poisioned British-Russian Double-Agent Has Links To Clinton Campaign

Posted by b at 04:04 PM | Comments (85)

March 07, 2018

No, Russians Do Not Hack The FCC's Public Comments

A member of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post.


It is unlikely that the headline was chosen by the author of the op-ed. The editors of the Washington Post opinion page wrote it. I also doubt that she would have chosen a picture of the FCC head to decorate her piece.

For the record: The headline is false.

The op-ed is about a request for comments the Federal Communications Commission issued last year in preparation of its net-neutrality decision. Anyone, and anything, could comment multiple times. Various lobbying firms, political action groups and hacks abused the public comment system to send copy-paste comments via single-use email accounts or even without giving any email address.

But this had and has nothing to with Russia or Russians.

Here are the top graphs of the the WaPo op-ed with the "Russia-did-it" headline:

Cont. reading: No, Russians Do Not Hack The FCC's Public Comments

Posted by b at 04:17 PM | Comments (51)

March 06, 2018

The New Yorker Attempts But Fails To Boost The Steele Dossier

Updated below

Yesterday The New Yorker published a 15,000 word piece about Christopher Steele, the former British spook who created the "dossier" about alleged Russian interference with Trump. Written by Jane Mayer the piece is designed to let Steele shine in the very best light. A civil servant who only followed his conscience when he peddled his made-up dirt to the FBI, the media and Congress.

That a private investigator, highly paid by the Clinton campaign to find dirt about Trump, was acting out of decency, would be unbelievable in the best case. But the piece is way worse. There are at least six factual errors in it which anyone who has followed the affair can easily detect. Some new allegations in the piece are so thinly sourced that any decent editor would have thrown them out.

The first graph is already a mess:

In January, after a long day at his London office, Christopher Steele, the former spy turned private investigator, was stepping off a commuter train in Farnham, where he lives, when one of his two phones rang. He’d been looking forward to dinner at home with his wife, and perhaps a glass of wine. It had been their dream to live in Farnham, a town in Surrey with a beautiful Georgian high street, where they could afford a house big enough to accommodate their four children, on nearly an acre of land. Steele, who is fifty-three, looked much like the other businessmen heading home, except for the fact that he kept his phones in a Faraday bag—a pouch, of military-tested double-grade fabric, designed to block signal detection.

A friend in Washington, D.C., was calling with bad news: ...

A phone, kept in a Faraday bag designed to block signals, rings? How please can a phone that can not send or receive signals, take a call? That is impossible. How can a fact-checker and/or editor at The New Yorker let such nonsense slip into the opening graph of such a large piece?

Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel, with whom I have exchanged views on this, details several of the factual errors in the piece:

Cont. reading: The New Yorker Attempts But Fails To Boost The Steele Dossier

Posted by b at 05:12 AM | Comments (120)

March 04, 2018

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-09

Feb 26 - State Department Troll Farm Receives Huge Cash Infusion

The above is one 'success' of the neo-conservatives and Clinton apparatchiks who created the idiotic Hamilton 68 project which U.S. media extensively used to make up bullshit stories about Russian bots. But it has become too obvious that the whole thing is based on fakery. The alleged Russian bots are just normal people who do not agree with some U.S. policies and tweet and use hashtags to express themselves. The proprietors and salesmen of that outlet finally admit as much:

“I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” said Watts, the cofounder of a project that is widely cited as the main, if not only, source of information on Russian bots. He also called the narrative “overdone.”

Will any of the media now retract their fake-news stories about "Russian bots"?

Feb 28 - It's 2002 Again - New York Times Makes Bogus WMD Claims

The NY Times is implicating the new "axis of evil" - North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia - in nonsensical WMD claims for which there is no evidence at all.

Mar 1 - Russia Shows Off New Weapons - Tells U.S. To "Come Down To Earth"

The new weapons Russia presented are designed to overcome any strategic missile defense. The reflexive reaction of the U.S. military- industrial complex to this is of course a push for an expansion of missile defense.

Mar 2 - Afghanistan - A Pipeline, Peace And Many Spoilers

There is no response yet from the Taliban to the Afghan government's offer of unconditional talks. Simply saying "no" is unlikely to take this long.

Mar 3 - Syria Sitrep - Afrin, Idlib and East-Ghouta

Here are two additional pieces on the war on Syria which I highly recommend.

The first delves into the early days of the war and documents well how the uprising was Islamist and foreign directed from its very first day:
Did Assad Deliberately Release Islamist Prisoners to Militarize and Radicalize the Syrian Uprising?.

The second is published in Military Review, the professional journal of the U.S. Army. It is a extensive assessment of the Russian political and military execution of its Syria intervention. The authors appear to feel a certain envy:
What Kind of Victory for Russia in Syria?

In sum, Russia appears to have won at least a partial victory in Syria, and done so with impressive efficiency, flexibility, and coordination between military and political action. ... Russia’s “lean” strategy, adaptable tactics, and coordination of military and diplomatic initiatives offer important lessons for the conduct of any military intervention in as complex and volatile an environment as the Middle East. 

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 11:00 AM | Comments (136)