Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 10, 2016

What Are The Hearsay Leaks About "Russian Election Hacking" Attempting To Achieve?

The White House ordered on Friday a full review if and/or how Russia somehow intervened inappropriately in the U.S. election. It is unclear if and how much of such an review, to be produced by January 20, would be made public.

A few hours later senior members of Congress, aka "U.S. officials", leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times about the alleged content of a CIA assessment that, they claim, says that the Russian government through some third party hacked the Democratic National Committee and maybe also the Republican committee and officials and leaked some of the hacked stuff to Wikileaks and others.

The real claims of the CIA assessment are not known. Neither is any evidence known on which an assessment is based on. All claims about the alleged CIA report WaPo and NYT report on are hearsay - unverified whisper by anonymous people. Some within the CIA seem to disagree with at least parts of the assessment. WaPo writes:

A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

According to someone talking to the NYT the FBI also disagrees with at least parts of the alleged CIA conclusion:

One senior government official, who had been briefed on an F.B.I. investigation into the matter, said that while there were attempts to penetrate the Republican committee’s systems, they were not successful.

That is important because the FBI, not the CIA, is responsible to investigate cyber related crimes within the U.S. .

Glenn Greenwald and Mary Wheeler have written good pieces on these leaks from the CIA: Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA’s Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence and Unpacking the New CIA Leak: Don’t Ignore the Aluminum Tube Footnote. I have little to add to their writing. They note that the CIA and its former and current leaders are known to be very much on the Clinton side while the FBI is more neutral if not even Trump orientated.

When the head of the Intelligence Community James Clapper made a statement about the alleged Russian hacks some took that as confirmation that such hacks had actually happened. But Clapper's statement  used many weasel words and may have actually said the opposite (see his statement and my translation at the end of this piece). He explicitly made no attribution for any of the potential hacks.

It was the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that tried to hack the election systems of the state of Georgia. How do we know it was not them hacking and leaking the DNC papers?

One minor reason for the leaks now may be that "the Russians did it" exculpates Clinton from being a lousy candidate running a lousy campaign.

But one can think of three bigger reasons why these leaks about the CIA assessment are now happening:

  1. To preempt the results of the official investigation Obama has now ordered. Any diversion of the official results from the alleged CIA assessment results will need extensive public explanation.
  2. To swing the electoral college to vote for Clinton instead of Trump. This would be unprecedented and a coup contradicting the will of the voters. It would lead to political chaos and more. But many Clinton partisans are pressing in that direction and such a dirty business would not be out of character for Hillary Clinton.
  3. Even if neither 1 nor 2 can be achieved the propaganda effect of these leaks will be to dampen any movement of a Trump administration towards more friendly relations with Russia. Any such move by Trump will be responded with a chorus "but Russia hacked our election" even though there has been zero evidence or proof produced that such was indeed the case.

In response to the leaks Trump pointed out that the CIA lied about WMDs in Iraq. That is a decisive point. Indeed the CIA lied about lots of stuff over the years and one must assume that anything that is following a "the CIA says" introduction is a lie or at least an obfuscation.

The true danger, in my view, lies in possible reason 2 for the leaks. If enough delegates in the electoral college can somehow be bribed or otherwise convinced to flip towards electing Clinton we will see violent riots in the streets of many U.S. cities. What would follow thereafter is unpredictable.

Posted by b at 01:24 PM | Comments (66)

December 09, 2016

Official Fake News Numbers Will Have Serious Consequences

The U.S. has killed 50,000 out of 20-30,000 ISIS fighters.

US official: 50,000 Islamic State killed in wars to date, AP, Dec 9 2016

WASHINGTON — A senior US military official for the first time says the US-led coalition has killed 50,000 Islamic State militants in the last two years in Iraq and Syria.

The official said it was a conservative estimate, but it’s a bit more than what others have stated before.

CIA: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters, The Hills, Sep 11 2014

The CIA estimates the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is made up of anywhere between 20,000-31,500 fighters, according to reports Thursday night.

The agency previously put the number at 10,000 but revised it upward after stronger recruitment since June, according to CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani, who was quoted in The Associated Press.

While ISIS forces come to existence seemingly out of nowhere only to get killed by the U.S. military, civilians in east-Aleppo vanish into the nowhere whenever the Syrian government forces take new areas.

UN diplomat offers to personally escort 900 al-Qaeda fighters out of Aleppo in hope of ending bombing, Telegraph, Oct 6 2016

Speaking in Geneva [UN envoy Staffan de Mistura] said that around 900 members of al-Nusra were still in Aleppo and he asked the jihadists to “look at my eyes” and decide if they were prepared to stay in the city even if it meant more casualties among the 275,000 civilians in the area.

“A thousand of you are deciding on the destiny of 275,000 civilians,” he said. “If you did decide to leave [Aleppo] with dignity and with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready physically to accompany you.”

Rebels defiant as Syrian army nears Aleppo's Old City, Reuters, Dec 4 2016

The U.N. estimates that close to 30,000 people have been displaced by the latest fighting, 18,000 to government-held areas, a further 8,500 to the Kurdish-controlled neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud and the rest within rebel-held areas.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura has said more than 100,000 people may still be in the rebel-held area.

The opposition Aleppo council claims that there are 150,000 left in the "rebel"-held area. Official UN refugee numbers say that some 26,500 fled from east-Aleppo to the government controlled areas. Another 8-9,000 fled yesterday and today. The Takfiri held areas have shrunk to some 4% of their original extension in east Aleppo. If the original Mistura numbers were correct those must by now be the most densely inhabited area of the world.

But somehow those numbers are now inoperative.

275,000 civilians - 35,000 refugees = 240,000. But there are only 100,000 to 150,000 left in east-Aleppo? Where are the 90,000-140,000 people missing from those numbers? Where did they go?

Equally false numbers were used by the UN and other with regard to Mardaya and Daraya.

Here are more officially faked news and numbers:

IDF map of Hezbollah positions revealed as fabrication, Times of Israel, Dec 9 2016

A map of southern Lebanon released this week by the Israeli military that ostensibly showed Hezbollah positions, infrastructure and armaments along a section of the Israeli border was a fabrication, the army admitted Thursday.

The map, tweeted by the army Tuesday, appeared to feature over 200 towns and villages, which the IDF said the organization had turned into its operations bases, along with over 10,000 potential targets for Israeli strikes in the event of a new war with the terror group.
...
According to a Channel 2 report Tuesday, the illustrative map has been shown to practically every foreign diplomat visiting Israel ...

The IDF spokesperson posted the map with the remark: "This is a war crime". But the map is fake and as it claims that Hizbullah positions are near villages and cities it was though up as propaganda cover for the future IDF war crime of bombing those build up areas.

In reality Hizbullah takes special care to position its missile forces away from any settlements.

More uncovering of official fake news just from today's feed:

British Govt-Funded Outlet Offered Journalist $17,000 a Month to Produce Propaganda for Syrian Rebels and The incredible story behind the Syrian protest singer everyone thought was dead.

The BBC, CNN, Guardian, Telegraph, AP and others had reported that the "regime" had brutally murdered the "protest singer". Even some corpse was shown but that had been murdered and brutalized by the "rebels". The singer is alive and living in Spain.

The above numbers and stories are real fake news used as instrument of western governments and allegedly neutral international organizations. Unlike the inconvenient news spread by this and other "propaganda" sites they are depicted as truthful by mainstream media even when they are lies. Only by chance will they later be exposed.

I doubt that people will, over time, continue to fall for such nonsense. Information availability has increased. The people can get better informed with only little effort. The continued use of such false numbers and facts will lead to further deterioration of the trustworthiness of mainstream news and government institutions. In consequence the people will look, and vote, for outsiders to govern them. Radicals on the right of the political spectrum will gain more from this trend than the dispersed forces on the left.

Those predictable consequence may be consistent with a general political plan.

Posted by b at 06:50 AM | Comments (93)

December 08, 2016

Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Correspondence - Act I

The German edition of the Russia Today website, RT Deutsch, evidently plagiarized a piece I had written for and published on this site.

I have since communicated with the director of RT Deutsch, Ivan Rodionov, via Twitter. The responses were slow and uncommitted. Today Rodionov, as well as the author of the piece, Mr. Rupp, contacted me and denied that the obvious plagiarism has happened at all.

Meanwhile I have been contacted by other authors who claim to have also been plagiarized or ripped off by RT English and/or RT Deutsch. The authors in question are, like me, generally positive towards Russia and RT.

Indeed this site has been labeled a "Russian propaganda outlet" by U.S. media and by the Ukrainian-American fascists behind the censorship advocates at ProPornOT.

This issue thereby obviously not an "anti-Russian" action but simple concern of serious authors about their rights.

I will write about the other authors cases' in a later piece.

The plagiarizing issue with RT is likely to escalate. I decided to publish all relevant communication on this blog to keep the readers informed and to be able to let others know how RT in general, and RT Deutsch especially, is handling such issues.

Mr Ivan Rodionov contacted me on public Twitter today. Here is the whole public thread including his tweets, my responses and the relevant context:

Cont. reading: Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Correspondence - Act I

Posted by b at 01:40 PM | Comments (123)

December 07, 2016

As Regime Change By Takifiris Fails - GCC Lobbyists Call For U.S. Occupation of Upper Mesopotamia

The Aleppo battle is ending. Syria will win the war against foreign supported Takfiris as will Iraq. That requires new plans to implement the original aims of the war's instigators and sponsors.

This is a map of the east-Aleppo cauldron 2 days ago.

Map by @NatDefFor - bigger

This is the map as of this morning.

Map by @NatDefFor - bigger

Since this morning another part of the "rebel" held area in the south east of the cauldron, the Sheik Sa'ed quarters, has been liberated by Syrian government forces.

It is expected that the whole al-Qaeda "rebel" held area will be liberated and cleared of Takfiris as early as this weekend. Militants still there are offered to leave or to be - inevitably - killed.

Cont. reading: As Regime Change By Takifiris Fails - GCC Lobbyists Call For U.S. Occupation of Upper Mesopotamia

Posted by b at 02:11 PM | Comments (131)

December 06, 2016

Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Which Is The "Russian Propaganda Outlet"?

UPDATED below

This site, Moon of Alabama, gets defamed and falsely accused of being a "Russian propaganda outlet". One would assume that any such outlet would get its leads and orders from Russia or its media. We now find that it is the other way round. An official Russian state outlet is stealing content from us.

On November 28 RT Deutsch, the German TV and web edition of the Russian state financed global news outlet Russia Today, published an opinion piece by one Rainer Rupp. That piece is in its core idea and wide parts a rip-off and translated copy of a piece I wrote and published on Moon of Alabama on November 25.

After a complain Moon of Alabama is now mentioned as a source for specifically one small sentence in the RT Deutsch piece. But the whole idea that is the main theme of the piece if based on the MoA piece. Core paragraphs are nearly verbal (translated) copies. Their original authorship is not in any way marked or mentioned.

The content was simply stolen, including the links I provided, and published under the name of some author I do not even know.

When I, the original author, contacted RT Deutsch I first received no replies at all and only after insisting a promise to check the issue from the Director and editor in chief of RT Deutsch. A week later nothing has happened. Neither was I contacted back nor was a sufficient link or explanation added to the stolen content.

On November 30 the Director of RT Deutsch, Ivan Rodionov tweeted this promotion for a piece published at the RT site:


bigger

His tweet promoted a piece on his RT Deutsch website headlined: Putins "Witz" war todernst – und entlarvt die Halbbildung unserer "intellektuellen Eliten". (Translated: Putin's joke was dead serious - and exposes the superficial knowledge of our "intellectual elites".)


bigger

The piece is authored by one Rainer Rupp and was published as opinion piece at "deutsch.rt.com" on November 28 at 17:00 local time.

The original piece by me was published here on November 25 under the headline: Putin Tutors Euklidean Geometry - Pundits Say "All Greek To Me".

The gist: The "western" media made an "Imperial Putin wants to extend Russia's border" scandal out of a mathematical lecture Putin had given a pupil on public TV:

Putin asked a pupil: "Where do Russia's borders end?" The answer "nowhere" is the (only) mathematically and geographically correct one. The geographic area characterized by a border is limited. The circumferential (border) line is, by mathematical definition, not "limited" in the sense that it has no beginning and no end (it has a length though).

The RT Deutsch is widely based, even verbatim, on the Moon of Alabama piece but MoA is openly referred only in relation to one sentence:

Cont. reading: Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Which Is The "Russian Propaganda Outlet"?

Posted by b at 02:26 PM | Comments (107)

December 05, 2016

Syria Roundup: East-Aleppo Siege Nears Its End

This is the situation in east-Aleppo as of Dec 4, 6PM ET. The enclosed green area, held by al-Qaeda and its allies, will soon be gone.

Map via Fabrice Balanche - bigger

The British Foreign Minister says that the foreseeable Syrian government victory in Aleppo will not be a gain at all. Bollocks. He and his colleagues have obviously given up on the case and now issue face saving laments. Syria's alliance is winning, U.S. policy is changing and the end of the war is now foreseeable. The British MI-6 propaganda operation "Bana Alabed" expired. The operation's main star was a seven year old girl in east-Aleppo who could not speak English but tweeted world politics in perfect Twitter-English even when the Internet in all Aleppo was down. It has now vanished. This is just like one of the first anti-Syrian propaganda operations, the "Gay girl in Damascus", which expired in 2011 shortly before its male U.S. operator in Scotland was exposed. What will all the media who have willfully fallen for this "Bana" nonsense now tell their viewers and readers?

Since the start of the Syrian army offense on the Takfiri held east-Aleppo some 21,000+ civilians have left towards the government held areas in the western part. Several news accounts confirm that these civilians had been held hostages by the Takfiris and had to flee under fire:

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: East-Aleppo Siege Nears Its End

Posted by b at 04:51 AM | Comments (143)

December 03, 2016

Open Thread 2016-40

News & views ...

Posted by b at 10:46 AM | Comments (194)

Roy Gutman's Hakawati

The so called "journalist" Roy Gutman is marketing an old fairy tale in three acts. It was the Syrian President Assad who created ISIS. Assad also faked the Al-Qaeda bombings in Syria to get sympathy in the "west". The Daily Beast even paid Gutman to publish this nonsense:

This series charts Assad’s major role in the rise of Islamic extremism from the inside.
...
the regime likely staged bombings of its own security facilities in 2011 and 2012 to foster the impression that al Qaeda had an armed presence in Syria long before it did.
...
Syrian intelligence received orders to stand by when al Qaeda fighters crossed from Iraq into Syria in 2012.

But where did Gutman get such extraordinary information? On would think that some very credible witnesses were needed and on-the-ground research would be necessary to verify these claims. But as he himself writes:

Raed Ilawy, an Islamist recruit from Hama, was among the Syrians who traveled to the mosque. Some of the trainers, he recalled in an interview at an Istanbul café, ...

and

Dendal was introduced to this reporter by a former regime judge from Aleppo who deserted to the opposition. Interviewed in a café in Istanbul’s popular Fatih district, ...

Deserters and Islamist activists telling stories which blame their declared enemies - excellent witnesses. Those stories then must be true. Right? Gutman himself writes that the CIA does not believe the fairy tales he was told over coffee in Istanbul, nor does anyone else who is knowledgeable about the issue. Gutman is unable to get any official confirmation for his claims. Indeed the DNI refutes his tales:

The CIA declined to comment but did not dispute the validity of the question. “I looked into this, and there is nothing we can add,” a spokeswoman said.
...
The CIA declined to comment.
...
After bombings in Damascus Jan. 6 and Aleppo Feb. 10, 2012, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, told Congress in mid-February that the explosions “had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack.” He added: “And so we believe al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.

In 2012 Rania Abouzeid interviewed Jabhat al Nusra (al-Qaeda) fighters in Raqqa and wrote about it for Time. They confirm that many came from Iraq and were silently in Syria even before the "revolution".

But whatever - activists say the Syrian government did it ... - is all the validity Gutman needs.

In the second act of the farce Gutman meets another witness:

the actual numbers were smaller, according to Abdullah Hakawati, an activist who helped organize anti-government protests in Aleppo ... Hakawati provided the name of the officer, but he could not be reached to verify the account.

Elijah Magnier urged Gutman (who does not speak Arabic) to find out what that activist's alleged surname means.

From the description of a book titled The Hakawati we learn:

As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama's grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East.

So this was one of Gutman's witnesses?


Pic: Syria: ‘al-Hakawati’ – the Storytelling Tour in Sweden 2015

Ha! Some Syrian activist made a joke over duping a gullible journalist over coffee in Istanbul by giving his name as Mr. Storyteller! Dumb as bricks the journalist and his editors at the Daily Beast fall for it.

Gutman stenographed a great fairy tale just as the various hakawatis in Istanbul's cafes tell it. With that he vividly demonstrated how "fake news" are created. I doubt though that this was his intention.

(Edited Sun, Dec 4, 0:45am, CIA part corrected with added quotes - b.)

Posted by b at 10:27 AM | Comments (44)

December 02, 2016

December 1942 - Expert: A Soviet Occupation Of Stalingrad Would Be Too Costly

Stalingrad, December 1942.

The German 6th Army and attached allied forces under General Paulus are surrounded and besieged by the Soviet Red Army. A relief attack from the outside of the cauldron has failed. The besieged have few supplies and can not hold out on their own.

But Karl Auflister, a Soviet Union expert working at the Slavic Institute in Berlin, does not believe that the Red Army will storm the city.

"The Soviets are hedging their bets. They would prefer to make a deal with the German forces," he said. "If Stalingrad were to fall, the Soviet regime would need so many troops to hold the city that its forces would be left thin elsewhere in the country."

Cont. reading: December 1942 - Expert: A Soviet Occupation Of Stalingrad Would Be Too Costly

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (41)

December 01, 2016

Russia Again Disciplines The Wannabe Sultan

The Russians just gave (again) a public lecture of how to handle the wannabe-Sultan Erdogan.

Turkey entered Syria to end al-Assad’s rule: President Erdoğan  - November 29

The Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 29.

“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the president said.

If Turkish troops were in Syria to remove its President, instead with the flimsy excuse of fighting ISIS under a badly fitting UN mandate, they would be a hostile invasion force and a legitimate target for Syria and its allies. The remark was thus stupid.  It weakened the Turkish position.

Erdogan was immediately told so:

Cont. reading: Russia Again Disciplines The Wannabe Sultan

Posted by b at 11:04 AM | Comments (106)

November 30, 2016

Modi's Bank Transaction Tax May Lead To Larger Conflicts

The current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has a history of racism and can be described as a neo-fascist. A more pleasant label is Hindu nationalist but that essentially means the same.

It now turns out that Modis extremism in not confined to the nationalist bend but includes some crazy economic ideas.

Modi decided to demonetize the country from one day to another. Every bank note valued at over US$7 was taken out of circulation. The rather crazy idea behind this is to move all monetary transactions to some electronic money systems and to then tax each and every transaction. All other kind of taxes would be abolished.

Only a lunatic without any knowledge of actual economic issues can support such a move.

The predictable result of the sudden demonetization is a liquidity crunch. There suddenly is only half the amount of money in circulation than before. Bills can not be paid, salaries are withheld, services are unused because their is no money to pay for them. The government wants to move the people to open up bank accounts but the banking infrastructure in India is rudimentary, the systems running are old and the software inadequate to handle the masses. Mobs Lock Up Bankers as Pay Day Turns Pain Day in India is a current Bloomberg headline.

The protests have not reached their climax yet but expect some serious riots in India over the next weeks and months should Modi continue on this path. It will be even worse when, in a second step, the new tax system is introduced.

Taxing all transactions is digressive. The poor will end up up paying more than the rich as all kinds of property taxes and the like will end. Estimates say that the tax rate would have to be 4 to 6% on each monetary transfer to be able to eliminate all other taxes.

Manufacturing, which builds complex products from a number of pre-processed parts and inputs, will end up highly taxed. Each screw in a part that goes into a car will have been taxed when transferred from the steelmaker to the wholesale steel deal to the screw maker to the part manufacturer to the car manufacturer to the consumer. With several percents of taxes on each of these transaction this will end up as a very expensive car. There are products which easily include a dozen such stages or more.

"Sin taxes" on alcohol, gasoline and other socially or environmentally harmful stuff will be missing as regulatory instruments. Custom issues and double taxation agreements with other countries will be highly problematic.

The Indian bureaucracy is not the most capable in the world. The banking infrastructure, especially in the still mostly rural parts of India, is only sparse. It is practically impossible to have such a brutal, large conversion of the whole economy without major breakdowns.

The first real economic trouble will be noted soon. Liquidity crunches are usually followed by sharp drops in productivity and general economic activity. India until recently had a fast growing economy. It is very likely to now go into recession.

Taxes on a currency will lead to a shadow economy where people will used other means to pay, especially for small daily transfers. The new currency will probably be cigarettes or whatever can be bargained. The tax income will therefore likely be lower than estimated as the use of offcial money, then electronic money, in daily life will decline.

Modi was in favor of a transaction tax economy since at least 2013 though it did not play a role in his campaign and policy speeches. The people are unprepared for it and the large bumps that will come with its implementation.

My fear though is that Modi will do the usual nationalist / fascist trick when problems with the economy occur. He is unlikely to give up on his aims.  He will rather look for an enemy and accuse it of causing the problems. Divert the peoples attention by a war on - take your choice: Pakistan, China, Muslims in general, any local opposition or whatever. There will always be someone to blame.

So far Modi had a rather successful run as Premier. His tax project may well ruin that. Given his background his solution will likely be to seek a conflict. In a nuclear India with a nuclear arch-enemy Pakistan nearby that is some worrisome perspective.

Posted by b at 02:29 PM | Comments (119)

November 29, 2016

Trump Is Trying To Divert Us From - What?

Another Trump tweet, another fake scandal:

Donald J. Trump Verified account @realDonaldTrump

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

3:55 AM - 29 Nov 2016

That burning flag stuff is no so exiting. The oh so luberal Hillary Clinton tried to punish flag burning too. In 2005, as Senator from New York, she introduced the Flag Protection Act of 2005 to achieve that:

It called for a punishment of one year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

The act was not taken up by Congress. During her recent campaign Clinton strongly condemned the burning of an Israeli flag.

In 2006 a vote for a constitutional amendment to punish flag burning failed in the Senate. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1989 that the burning of the U.S. flag, or any other flag, is free speech covered by the first amendment. It is settled law and there is little to no chance that it will change. The issue is a political gimmick that is used every once a while to set up certain conservative groups against certain free speech defenders.

As such it is a diversion.

More important is that Trump is suggesting a "loss of citizenship" as a punishment. That should really enrage people. Loss of citizenship for using free speech rights?!? If Trump would try to implement that a real revolution would be justified.

But I believe it is, like many other things Trump says, just red meat for the media and his supporters. They will be busy covering this for a full news cycle or even longer.

During his campaign Trump used such gimmicks to divert attention from this or that scandal involving him or his business whenever such threatened to creep up to the top news line. It always worked like a charm. The media fell for each and every new "scandal" he fabricated with a few tweets or lines on the campaign trail. Journalists, "experts" and editors went off to discuss his latest bit while Trump's huge scandals, like his University scam, barely made the headline.

But why is Trump doing this now? Where does he has to divert attention from?

The recounts the Green candidate Stein tries to initiate are not endangering him. Stein collected several million dollars knowing that the legal conditions and time for such recounts do not exist. It is basically a scam to cover her pension.

Trump's cabinet selections are the usual horror troupe of Republican U.S. administrations. There is no real surprise there and no scandal.

So what is Trump trying to cover up here? Is some long-read piece with scandalous details about him and his daughter ready to go to print? Is he doing something else he does not want us to see?

I have been looking around all day and find no answer. Any ideas?

Posted by b at 11:49 AM | Comments (193)

November 27, 2016

Syria Roundup: Jihadi Fronts Fall Apart - Egypt Enters The Fight

UPDATE of the part describing the east-Aleppo enclave:

The whole north of the Jihadist held part is liberated, some 40+% of the territory. A new map is here. Up to 10,000 civilians fled to the government areas. (This makes a joke out of the UN 250k claim.) The water pump works for all Aleppo are back in the hand of the government. Supply is to resume.

End Update

The Syrian army (SAA) and its allies made huge progress in east-Aleppo. There, as seemingly everywhere else, the Jihadi' fronts are breaking down. Disunity in the opposition, in reflection of disunity among their sponsors, disrupts all of their attempts for new initiatives. The largely hidden Russian air campaign behind the "rebel" frontlines diminished their material and personal reserves.

New help for the Syrian alliance will soon come in form of Egyptian forces. With various "rebel" enclaves eliminated by fighting or peace deals more Syrian troops will be freed and become available for new campaigns. Turkey has been told in no uncertain words to pull back from its Syria (and Iraq) plans. With more forces available and under solid Russian (air) protection new SAA initiatives towards Idleb in the north of the country as well as against Raqqa in the east will now become possible.

After breaking the Jihadi front in the north-eastern part of the east-Aleppo cauldron yesterday, the defenses there fell completely apart. The Jihadis had to pull back and the whole norther third of the Jihadi held east-Aleppo is now rapidly falling to the Syrian government forces. The main reason for the defeat of the Jihadis is - tadaaah - the "lack of hospitals":

"The revolutionaries are fighting fiercely but the volume of bombardments and the intensity of the battles, the dead and the wounded, and the lack of hospitals, are all playing a role in the collapse of these frontlines," said an official from Jabha Shamiya, one of the biggest groups fighting against Assad in northern Syria.

The destruction of the last hospital for transsexual cats in Aleppo by a thermobaric barrel nuke must have been the tipping point of the fight. This is, I believe, the first time such a ludicrous propaganda excuse has been given for a total defeat.

In reality the Syrian forces are avoiding casualties and use their overwhelming firepower to clear the way before their infantry proceeds. This demolishes any defense line the "rebels" can set up even before the real fighting starts. Only hardened and very disciplined troops could hold such a line under fire and offer real resistance. The "rebels" can't.

The map, via Electronic Resistance, shows the SAA progress today:

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: Jihadi Fronts Fall Apart - Egypt Enters The Fight

Posted by b at 01:00 PM | Comments (145)

A Short History Lesson On Cuba By The New Thinker

The death of Fidel Castro brought public comments of some of the most rightwing nutters living in the U.S. and of some of its best people. Whoever wants to discuss Cuba, its past, present and future, should know some history. Here is a copy of a valuable lesson @The New Thinker aka Ejike gave on Twitter:

Viva Fidel. Your revolutionary courage & your commitment to fighting for the self-determination of the Cuban people will never be forgotten

To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823

It's important to note that the US in the early 19th century wasn't strong enough to stop Europe from colonizing Latin America... not yet

That ended in the late 1800s. Look up the Cuban War of Independence where the Cuban people had been whooping the Spanish colonial government

As Cuba was on the verge of liberating itself from Spanish control America intervened in what is shamefully dubbed the Spanish-American war

In 1898 the US intervened in order to "liberate" Cuba frm its humanitarian crisis which was a cover to prevent Cuba frm becoming independent

Cont. reading: A Short History Lesson On Cuba By The New Thinker

Posted by b at 06:14 AM | Comments (78)

November 26, 2016

¡Adiós A Fidel Castro!

Rest in Peace

Fidel Castro


August 13 1926 - November 26 2016

 

 

Posted by b at 01:44 AM | Comments (118)

November 25, 2016

Putin Tutors Euklidean Geometry - Pundits Say "All Greek To Me"

Go read the previous post first, then add this for a bit of additional entertainment.

A Russian TV event (vid) covered a nation wide geographic competition for schools children. This is somewhat comparable to the national spelling bee contest in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The guest star at the event was the Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was on stage with a nine year old participant who gave his specialties as "borders, neighboring countries and capitals." Putin asked the candidate "Where do Russia's borders end". The answer was "In the Bering Strait at the border with the U.S." Putin replied: "Russia's border does not end anywhere."

(When the audience then laughed and Putin sensed that it did not immediately get the real meaning of what he said he added: "That was a joke.")

But it was no joke. It was serious science. A whole lot of pundits, "western" reporters and anti-Putin haters now claim that Putin somehow did wrong, showed lust for new, unlimited Russian expansion or announced the fourth World War for the coming new Russian Empire.

See for example the BBC, Newsweek, Daily Mail, Express and many others who felt the urgent need to comment on a Russian quiz for kids. From the Newsweek piece:

A Kremlin spokesperson was not immediately available to explain if the joke referred to Russia’s military efforts to redraw the borders of Moldova, Georgia and most recently Ukraine, or if the president had a different, more figurative meaning in mind.
...
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Finland, whose country has experienced firsthand Russia’s willingness to alter its borders, tweeted a photo of a ruined country log cabin with the ironic caption ‘Russia’s borders end nowhere.’

ALL THESE WRITERS, THEIR EDITORS, THE PUNDITS AND DIPLOMATS MUST HAVE SLEPT THROUGH BASIC MATH LECTURES, ESPECIALLY IN EUCLIDEAN GEOMETRY OF TWO DIMENSIONS. It is all Greek to them - literally.

The basic definition of a border is:

A part that forms the outer edge of something.

A country, any country, is defined by a limited area (or areas) with an area characterized by an outer edge and a circumferential line known as "a border". Does the circumferential line of, ideally, a circle have a limit? Does it have a beginning or an end? This is exactly what Putin asked the kid.

Putin asked a pupil: "Where do Russia's borders end?" The answer "nowhere" is the (only) mathematically and geographically correct one. The geographic area characterized by a border is limited. The circumferential (border) line is, by mathematical definition, not "limited" in the sense that it has no beginning and no end (it has a length though).

This is basic math which Putin sympathetically lectured to a child in a scientific school competition on public TV. It probably was too much for a tired  evening audience. That is not an excuse for professional writers (not) doing their day job. I am sure that, over time, the kid will get it. The "News" journalists though ...

Indeed one can bet on the low level of "western" scientific education, especially of political pundits and news writers, to make an "imperial intent" mountain out of any scientifically correct description of a flyspeck. It is a new subcategory of "fake news" that they expose. It has its roots in basic stupidity.

Posted by b at 08:59 AM | Comments (65)

Mainstream Reporting Foggy While MoA Smeared As "Russian Propaganda" Site

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), Nov 24 2016 - Three Turkish soldiers killed in suspected Syrian government air strike

Al Masdar News (Syria), Nov 25 2016 - Syrian Air Force denies bombing Turkish Army in east Aleppo

Avid readers of news sides will ask which of those reports is correct. They may turn to the so-called (hint: it's not) "paper of record", the New York Times and find this Nov 24 report: Syrian Warplanes Kill Turkish Soldiers Fighting in Syria

While that NYT headline claims certainty the text does not. It obediently repeats the Turkish government claim but adds:

Syrian Arab rebel forces fighting with the Turks said they had not received official notification that the Syrian government had launched the strike. One fighter said he had heard that the strike was from the Syrian government but heard later that it had been from the Islamic State. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a network based in Britain that monitors news from Syria, also said that the strike had been by the Islamic State.

An updated version of that report adds:

Some on the ground raised questions about whether the strike was undertaken by Syrian government forces. A network of activists who monitor the skies over Syria said Thursday that its watchers had spotted a Syrian aircraft taking off after 2 a.m. and also a Russian aircraft about the same time as the strike on Turkish forces occurred. It is impossible to know where the planes that were sighted went; they could easily have had another destination, the network said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a network based in Britain that monitors news from Syria, said the strike was by the Islamic State. But the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is not known to have combat aircraft.

---
Excursus:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is a sophisticated disinformation outlet of the British foreign intelligence service MI-6. SOHR is on one side very manipulating, i.e. SOHR counts only foreigners, deserters of the Syrian army, ISIS and al-Qaeda fighters on the anti-government side as "rebels killed". Ten-thousands of Syrian civilians who took up arms to become well paid "Syrian rebel" fighters are counted as "civilians" when besieged, killed or wounded. On the other side SOHR provides the most complete and detailed record of the war. It helps its reputation and is the reason why it is a favorite quoted source for "western" news "reporting".
---

The answer to the reader's question is that both Hurriyet and Al Masdar, are right and the NYT writers are confused by the fog of war and too lazy to do basic research. The devil is, as always, in the details.

On November 23 a Turkish armored military vehicle was attacked near the village Wiqah north of Al-Bab in northern Syria. Some sources claimed a guided missile strike. ISIS related Twitter accounts claimed a suicide attack.

(Note: The above account has now been suspended.)

ISIS later released a picture of the claimed suicide bomber.

The SOHR account of the Turkish vehicle hit, cited by the NYT, obviously refers to this November 23 attack.

The air-attack on the Turkish soldiers north of Al-Bab happened on November 24 at 3:30am local time according to the Turkish army. It was confirmed to journalists by very senior people in Damascus. The Al Masdar News account though, seemingly denying such a strike, includes a very specific non-denial-denial quote:

A high-ranking official from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAYF) told Al-Masdar on Thursday night that their fighter jets did not bomb the Turkish Army in east Aleppo.

"No Syrian or Russian aircraft bombed the Turkish Army near Al-Bab on November 23rd - all reports claiming otherwise are lies," the official confirmed to Al-Masdar on Thursday.

The airstrike did not on occur on the 23rd, as "denied" by SAAYF, but on the 24th. The NYT report mixes up two attacks as one, while basic research shows evidence of two very different attacks. The Al Masdar folks do not understand the specificity of the quotes their sources give.

Mystery solved.

Hurriyet and others have connected the Syrian air-attack to the Turkish attack on a Russian jet exactly one year before. I doubt that this coincident is intended. Al-Bab, held by ISIS and coveted by nearby Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian government forces, is an important target that will be fought over between the various sides for some time to come. The hit was not some symbolic, historic revenge act, nor was it to roast Turkey for Thanksgiving, but a signal to Turkey that Al-Bab is and will stay off limits for its forces.

News accounts of war, be those of casualties, of specific incidents or assume motivations, are always suspect. They are often written with disinformation in mind. Historic accounts are mostly written by the winners of a specific conflict and heavily "colored" from that perspective. Forensic or video proof can be easily forged and should always be taken with many pinches of salt. Only diligent research on all sides of a conflict can uncover what really happened. Only when "reports" from opposite sides agree on numbers or specific incidents on can assume to be near the truth.

As the above news dissecting shows it is quite possible to beat the (lazy) New York Times reporting in correctness and thereby quality.

But when one tries to be diligent and not solely on one side, one can be sure to end up as denounced and hated by at least one if not all sides of a conflict. This website, MoonofAlabama.org, is now listed as "Russian propaganda outlet" by some neoconned, NATO aligned, anonymous  "Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Serviceprominently promoted by today's Washington Post. The minions running that censorship list also watch over our "Russian propaganda" Twitter account @MoonofA.

I wholeheartedly recommend to use at least parts of the list that new anonymous censorship entity provides as your new or additional "Favorite Bookmarks" list. It includes illustrious financial anti-fraud sites like Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism, Wikileaks, well informed libertarian sites like Ron Paul and AntiWar.com and leftish old timers like Counterpunch. Of general (non-mainstream) news sites Consortiumnews, run by Robert Parry who revealed the Iran-contra crimes, is included as well as Truthdig and Truth-out.org. Some easy to remove nazi sites have been added to that list to smear the serious ones. A rather stupid "trick" of "guilt by association" for which only the very dumb fall.

I am honored to find this site listed next to the above.

Posted by b at 06:56 AM | Comments (109)

November 23, 2016

Elijah Magnier On Fake News And Fake Analysts

While I am still knocked out somewhat by a nasty influenza let me recommend Elijah Magnier's most recent piece on the "fake news" and "fake analyst" media:

Syria and Iraq caught between the “new analysts’ and the politicised media

Some excerpts:

The wars in Syria and Iraq celebrated the unfortunate end of the “free and independent press” and the rise of the “neo-analysts”. They sit in far-off lands, with no ground knowledge of the war, collecting information and analysing the colourful bin of social networking sites.

They have even the temerity to believe they can dictate to the US administration what measures should be taken, who to support and, as if they had mastered the “art of war”, they even push for a nuclear war with Russia.

On Syria:

According to the US State Department and to the western press, over 90 hospitals were totally destroyed in eastern Aleppo in the last months at the rate of almost one destroyed hospital per day. And every day we hear “the last hospital has been totally destroyed”. The only problem with this figure is the statistic released by the Syrian Ministry of Health stating that “on the entire Syrian territory, there are only 88 hospitals”.
...
[W]hen jihadists and rebels start a large scale attack against Syrian Army forces and their allies, the media stand by, waiting for results. If the regime begins a military operation hospitals are destroyed and civilians are killed in the first hour of the battle. Rarely do militants die in mainstream media.

On Iraq:

Cont. reading: Elijah Magnier On Fake News And Fake Analysts

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (100)

 
Site Meter