Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 31, 2016

"Last Hospital In Aleppo Destroyed" - Week After Week After Week?

(Updated below)

Doctors in the shattered suburbs of eastern Aleppo appealed for help last night after Syrian government warplanes destroyed the area’s last children’s hospital.
Jets bomb last children’s hospital in rebel-held Aleppo - June 10 2016 - Palestinian.com

Three weeks after the "last children’s hospital" in east Aleppo was destroyed in a bomb attack, the "last children’s hospital" in Aleppo was destroyed in a bomb attack.

Four new-born babies were killed after a recent triple airstrike hit besieged Aleppo’s last children’s hospital, Middle East Eye can reveal.
EXCLUSIVE: Four babies killed in attack on Aleppo's 'last children's hospital' - July 31 2016, Middle East Eye


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A Russian airstrike reportedly knocked out of service the last major hospital in rebel-held northern Aleppo out of commission last week, killing a doctor, a patient and wounding dozens more.

The Andan Charitable Hospital, founded in early 2013, had specialists from all fields on staff, from orthopedic surgeons to dermatologists, ...
First responder: Last major north Aleppo hospital destroyed by Russian airstrike - February 3 2016 - Syria direct

Four month after the "last hospital" in Andan (also transliterated as Anadan) was destroyed in a bomb attack, the "last hospital" in Andan was destroyed in a bomb attack.

Anadan Hospital hit by Air Strike in Northern Aleppo at approximately 11pm Damascus time on July 30, 2016. The hospital was the last operating in Western Rural Aleppo. UOSSM supports the Anadan Hospital with medicine and supplies.
Anadan Hospital Just Hit By Air Strike, Northern Aleppo - July 30 2016 - Reliefweb

Could there be something fishy with all these reports about "hospitals destroyed in Russian air attacks"?

Update:

From various sources:

  • The Anadan hospital in the last report was likely indeed damaged, not destroyed, due to an air strike.
  • The hospital was not the target of the damaging airstrike.
  • According to various reports the facility was a "makeshift hospital". It was not a regular medical structure build and known as a hospital. There is no information that it was either marked or registered with the war parties.
  • The strike targeted and killed an al-Qaeda commander from Saudi Arabia as well as other al-Qaeda members. Via SOHR:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was informed that unidentified warplanes targeted the area of Kafr Takharim hospital in the northwestern countryside of Idlib, and a Gulf national commander in the front of Fath al-Sham (the organization of al-Qaeda in the Levant previously) was killed, and confirmed information about other casualties in the same targeting, and due to the targeting the hospital got out of work, the hospital, its equipment and devices suffered physical damage.

Posted by b on July 31, 2016 at 08:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (52)

July 29, 2016

Siege Shows U.S., Concern Trolls Hypocrisy

Do you remember the outcry over the siege of Ramadi by Iraqi and U.S. forces? When those forces expressed little concern for the civilians who were not let go by the ISIS fighters occupying the city?

No? You do not remember those concerns? The outcry from Amnesty, HRW, the UN and other organization?

That is probably because there were none.

Dec 2 2015: Iraqi forces surround Ramadi, but it could be a long siege

Iraqi troops and militias backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have surrounded the key city of Ramadi and appear poised to launch a new attempt to wrest it from the Islamic State group.
...
On Monday, the Iraqi military dropped leaflets into the city,
...
But residents told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the militants have clamped down, setting up checkpoints across the city to monitor civilians' movements and prevent anyone from going.
...
When Maan was asked about the high number of civilians that could be trapped inside Ramadi once the fight gets underway, the Interior Ministry spokesman said he was confident they would be able to flee "to a safe place."

"We are focusing now on the enemy only," he added.

Today Ramadi is back in the hands of the Iraqi government.

But there is another big and outdrawn siege ongoing - this time of a large city in Syria. One where the population and the enemy are under constant bombardment. Where the population is prevented from leaving. Where mass casualties of civilians are caused by misdirected airstrikes.

That city is Manbij.

June 11: Siege of IS bastion in north Syria traps thousands

Thousands of civilians were under siege Saturday in an Islamic State group stronghold surrounded by US-backed forces in northern Syria[...]
...
"Tens of thousands of civilians still there can't leave as all the routes out of town are cut," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor's head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Six weeks on the siege of Manbij continues.

July 25: US-backed fighters renew offer for IS to leave Syrian town

U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria renewed an offer Monday to Islamic State militants in Manbij, saying that if they allow civilians to leave the besieged northern town IS fighters will be allowed to leave too and will not be attacked.
...
Monday's offer by the SDF-linked Manbij Military Council came days after the extremists ignored an earlier, 48-hour offer to leave the town safely with just their "individual weapons."

Again, like in Ramadi, there is no protest from Amnesty, HRW, the UN or any other concern peddlers over the fate of the city and its people. There was and is no outcry over the siege or the casualties in Manbij by any of the usual subjects.

Now another, third siege happens and this one exposes the utter hypocrisy of the United States and the concern trolls organizations it controls.

July 28: US Envoy: Syrian Offer of Safe Passage for Aleppo Civilians ‘Chilling’

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power condemned Syria’s leaflets, urging civilians in rebel-held East Aleppo to flee and offering them safe passage and access to temporary shelters “chilling,” insisting that the civilians must never trust a government “that’s bombed & starved them.”

Syria’s military has increased its control over the area surrounding Aleppo recently, controlling all roads leading into the east. Eastern Aleppo is controlled mostly by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, ..

To the U.S. propagandists the siege of east-Aleppo and the offer to leave it is "chilling", while the siege of Manbij or Ramadi never created any such bad feelings. How come?

The insurgents in east-Aleppo, mostly of al-Qaeda in Syria, are preventing any civilians from leaving through the designated corridors the besieging forces offer.

Where is the condemnation of that?

Instead we hear a whole army of concern trolls, the IRC, the UN, Amnesty and various other propaganda shops demanding that civilians "are allowed" to stay(!) in the besieged area

Hello?

Posted by b on July 29, 2016 at 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (90)

July 28, 2016

Will Preemptive Accusations Against Russia Cover Up Voting Fraud?

The Clinton campaign and some pseudo experts assert that Russia is somehow guilty of hacking the Democratic National Committee and of revealing DNC emails via Wikileaks. There is zero hard evidence for that. The Clinton campaign also claims that Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton's emails. That is also not the case.

But two "liberal" computer experts, who are taken serious in the security scene, now build on those false assertions to say that Russia might manipulate voting machines in the November 9 elections. It would do so, presumably, to change the vote count in favor of Trump.

A Bruce Schneier op ed in today's Washington Post is headlined: By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines.

That headline alone is already dumb. ANY hacker could target and manipulate the easy to deceive voting machines - should those be connected to the Internet. Local administrators of such machines can manipulate them any time.

Schneier is, untypically for him, in war mongering mode.

If the intelligence community has indeed ascertained that Russia is to blame, our government needs to decide what to do in response. This is difficult because the attacks are politically partisan, but it is essential. If foreign governments learn that they can influence our elections with impunity, this opens the door for future manipulations, both document thefts and dumps like this one that we see and more subtle manipulations that we don’t see.

The U.S. manipulates foreign elections all the time, according to Bush administration lawyer Jack Goldsmith. It may not feel nice to suddenly be the target of manipulation attempts instead of the perpetrator, but manipulation attempts in elections are normal everywhere and no reason to start a war or other "response" measures.

Schneier:

[W]e need to secure our election systems before autumn. If Putin’s government has already used a cyberattack to attempt to help Trump win, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again — especially now that Trump is inviting the “help.”

What a joke. Trump has not invited Russian "help" to manipulate voting computers. Trump also did not ask Russia to "hack" the Clinton email sever. That server no longer exists. If the Clinton email-server was secure, as Clinton asserts, and if the emails in question have been deleted, as Clinton also asserts, how could Russia  "hack" for them?

Trump made a FOIA request for emails that, Hillary Clinton claims, have been deleted. What does she fear about that? Trump asked Russia to give the deleted Clinton emails to the FBI, should it by chance have a copy of them. Such a Freedom of Information Act request usually goes to a part of the U.S. administration. But the Obama administration says it does not have those emails. Trump then made a joke in directing the request to Russia.

Trump did get the furious media "outrage" response he intended to get. He thereby ruined the PR effect of the last night of the Democratic Convention. That was likely the sole intention of his stunt and again shows his marketing genius.

But back to the Schneier op-ed. That one is now joined by a piece at Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow. Doctorow is like Schneier a famous person in the computer scene. He quotes the Schneier piece and adds:

Voting machines are so notoriously terrible that they'd be a very tempting target for Russia or other states that want to influence the outcome in 2016 (or merely destabilize the US by calling into question the outcome in an election).

The Doctorow sentence neglects, like Schneier, that the entities with the most obvious interest and capabilities to manipulate U.S. voting machines are not foreign countries. U.S. presidential candidates and their parties have much more at stake. The candidates and the money and interests behind them have stronger motives as well as more potential to change the voting results.

Why do we see such an orchestrated attempt to preemptively accuse Russia of potentially manipulating U.S. voting? This without ANY evidence that Russia ever has or would attempt to do so? Are there already plans for such manipulations that need a plausible foreign culprit as cover up story? Or is there a color revolution in preparation to eventually disenfranchise the election winner?

Cory Doctorow also sees destabilization as a possible motive and outcome of voting manipulations. Already back in March John Robb warned of a scenario this fall in which election results come into serious doubt and where a conflict over voting results escalates into a civil war.

I do not foresee such a scenario (yet). But should large scale voting manipulations take place, and be blamed on Russia, more than a civil war enters the realm of possibilities.

Posted by b on July 28, 2016 at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (140)

Abu Ghraib Torture Company Re-Hired For Syria - How ISIS Will Benefit

During the occupation of Iraq U.S. intelligence and military services contracted CACI International Inc, a U.S. company in Virginia, to provide "intelligence services" in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. CACI employees were directly involved in torturing Iraqi prisoners.

The U.S. army recently contracted CACI for "intelligence analysis services" in Syria. The Syrian government has not invited or otherwise allowed U.S. military or its contractors to enter the country. Any such activities infringe on Syria's sovereignty and are thereby in violation of international law.

The re-engagement of such a controversial company for services in the area boosts the recruitment appeal of the Islamic State.

A recent U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Press Announcement (Release No: CR-143-16, July 27, 2016) lists under the rubric "Army":

"Six3 Intelligence Solutions Inc., McLean, Virginia, was awarded a $ 9,578,964 modification (P00001) to contract W564KV-16-C-0058 for intelligence analysis services. Work will be performed in Germany, Italy, and Syria, with an estimated completion date of June 29, 2017."

CACI does business under the name Six3 Systems and Six3 Intelligence Solutions. The web-domain six3systems.com reroutes directly to www.CACI.com.


bigger

The announcement was found by Micah Zenko.

As of 2014 CACI, aka Six3 Systems, was still accused of direct involvement in torture and interrogations in Abu Ghraib:

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit against CACI International Inc by four former Iraqi detainees who claimed the U.S. defense contractor's employees directed their torture at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
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Writing for a unanimous three-judge 4th Circuit panel, Circuit Judge Barbara Milano Keenan also said Congress has a "distinct interest" in not turning the United States into a "safe harbor" for torturers.
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The lawsuit accused CACI employees who conducted interrogation and other services at Abu Ghraib of directing or encouraging torture, in part to "soften up" detainees for questioning, while managers were accused of covering it up.

Photos depicting abuse of Abu Ghraib detainees emerged in 2004. Some detainees claimed they endured physical and sexual abuse, infliction of electric shocks, and mock executions.

The re-hiring of this company for services to U.S. forces against Syria and ISIS is of great propaganda benefit for the Islamic State. Some of those who endured treatment by CACI employees will join ISIS to take revenge for their suffering. Relatives of those who were tortured and humiliated by CACI personnal will feel urged to use this chance for retaliation. Islamists in other countries will find motivation in this repeat of "western" denigration of their (religious) honor.

Many leading figures of the Islamic State are former prisoners of U.S. military and intelligence in Iraq. Al-Jawlani, the head of al-Qaeda in Syria aka Jabhat al Nusra, is also a former U.S. prisoner in Iraq. Will these people meet familiar faces when they come into contact with CACI employees in Syria?

The question is not theoretical.

Islamic State media just released video from inside a camp in Jordan which shows U.S. personnal providing military and intelligence training to anti-Syrian-government "rebels".


(via Anna Ahronheim)

Such training seems to include ideological indoctrination.


(via Hassan Ridha)

Publishing this video is a great Public Relation success for the Islamic State. It is another example of the direct benefit to IS from U.S. military and intelligence activities in and around Syria.

The publishing of the video suggests that the Islamic State penetrated -one way or another- a U.S. training camp in Jordan. Will the "intelligence services" provided by CACI in Syria likewise be open to Islamic State infiltration?

 

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Sidenote:

*The contract series W564KV is handled by the 409th Contracting Support Brigade of the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Other contracts in the series seem to relate to general facility management, probably for U.S. bases in Syria. A somewhat similar numbered contract (W564KV-12-C-0058) as the CACI one above was announced in 2012:

Lenoir City, Tenn., was awarded a $17,172,085 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the top secret security guard services. Work will be performed in Germany, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 27, 2017.

Posted by b on July 28, 2016 at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

July 27, 2016

Syria And The DNC Hack - How Beliefs Turn Into Dangerous Policies

Two examples came up today of people who seem to cope easily with contradicting beliefs.

A well known pro-Syrian rebels dude posted these two tweets within 15 minutes of each other:

6:31 AM - 27 Jul 2016 - Hasan Sari Verified account @HasanSari7

300,000+ civilians in E. Aleppo (40klm) under bombardment & will be starving in 2 weeks as Castillo road cut. Bad.

6:44 AM - 27 Jul 2016- Hasan Sari Verified account @HasanSari7

Out of 300k residents in Eastern Aleppo 30-40k remained there.

300,000 people are under bombardment in an area where - says the same person - only 30,000 people remain.

The 30,000 number is about correct. In March 2015 Martin Chulov of the Guardian visited east Aleppo and estimated that some 40,000 were still living there. He has since re-confirmed that 2015 observation but the number it must have shrunk since. There has been no running water there for a long time and no electricity. Only fighters and their immediate families are left in east-Aleppo. The current estimate is some 5,000 fighters and 20-25,000 civilians. They have, according to multiple sources, food and medical supplies for about three month.

The area is completely closed off though people on foot can leave through checkpoints. The Syrian government sent SMS to invite everyone in the area, civilians and fighters, to get out without trouble. This is all well known to "western" journalists but will not hinder them to daily offer dozens of harrowing accounts of the 300,000 starving children in east-Aleppo and the 286 hospitals that just now were bombed to rubble.

Here is another example of contradicting beliefs in the news. NBCnews headlines: Why Experts Are Sure Russia Hacked the DNC Emails.

Many U.S. officials and cyber security experts in and out of government are convinced that state-sponsored Russian hackers are the ones who stole 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee and leaked them to the public just in time to disrupt the Democrats' national convention in Philadelphia. Here's why the experts are so confident the Russians did it:

[... innuendo and marketing talk from cyber snakeoil dealers ...]

Then follows this paragraph:

Like other cyber-experts, however, [retired four-star Adm. James] Stavridis said definitively proving such connections is virtually impossible. "I don't know the answer to that and I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to that except for a few individuals in the Kremlin."

So experts are "sure", says the piece, while the quoted expert and his colleagues say there is no way to be sure. How does that compute?

It may be plausible that Russian and other governments' services have sniffed off the DNC email servers. It would have been a regular part of their their job. The U.S. does the same and more, says former Bush administration lawyer Jack Goldsmith. But there is no evidence at all, as in zero, that some Russian government service did so. There is no evidence at all that some Russian directly or indirectly gave the hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks. The alleged proof does not make sense. The culprits could be anyone with the relevant resources.

The case is probably like the Sony hack which the U.S. government and Sony stitched to North Korea while the real experts said it was an insider attack.

But the media has orders to promote Clinton for president and to damn Trump, as well as Putin, wherever it can. Thus Trump is Putin and Putin personally hacked the DNC email servers. What DNC or Clinton crimes were documented in those emails is not of interest and does not matter at all.

For believers in their mission, be it damning the Syrian president Assad or promoting Hillary for U.S. president, any contradiction only confirms their faith.

This is hard to swallow for observers outside of such faith. One can smile and accept such contradictions as funny phenomena. But they can be dangerous when they build upon each other and create their own reality:

Every time a claim of attribution is made — right or wrong — it becomes part of a permanent record; an un-verifiable provenance that is built upon by the next security researcher or startup who wants to grab a headline, and by the one after him, and the one after her. The most sensational of those claims are almost assured of international media attention, and if they align with U.S. policy interests, they rapidly move from unverified theory to fact.

For hawks it will follow from such facts that one has to bomb Russia. This for a harmless, routine hack Russia has likely nothing to do with. Or that Assad must be assassinated and the Syrian people deliver to Jihadis because of some fake number.

This is why such contradictions must be dragged into the light and exposed as the nonsense they are.

 

Posted by b on July 27, 2016 at 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (67)

July 26, 2016

Turkey's Foreign Policy Change Is Well Underway

Turkey is on its way to change its foreign policy orientation. Instead of facing "west" towards NATO and the pipe dream of European Union membership, it is looking "east" towards tighter cooperation with Russia, China and Iran. It will also want to intensify its already developed relations with the Central-Asian states Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

To cover the move, which began before the recent military coup attempt, the Turkish government needs some plausible excuses. The "guilty" party that justifies the change should not be itself but, preferably, its "western partners".

That the coup is probably related to covered activities of the Gülen movement in Turkey is a welcome gift. Turkey is convinced that the U.S. had some hand in the coup, or at least knew about it before it happened but did not warn Ankara. That the coup is U.S. related is not just a conspiracy theory without any basis. The tanker airplanes which filled up the F-16 bombers which bombed the parliament during the coup started from the NATO airbase in Incirlik where the U.S. command for the war on Syria is seated. Three of the five regiments involved in the coup in Istanbul are part of NATO's Rapid Deployable Corps. One of the coup commanders is the head of the Turkish second army which is coordinating the war on Syria (and ISIS) with the U.S. military.

Another signs for U.S. culpability, from the Turkish perspective, is the mealymouthed first statement Secretary of State Kerry gave when the coup was happening. From my live blogging of the coup before it started to fail:

Journo at ongoing Lavrov & Kerry press conference: "France, Belgium told their citizen in Turkey to stay at home." Lavrov: "Russian citizens should too."

2:11 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Talking Points Memo @TPM

#BREAKING John Kerry says he hopes for stability in Turkey as coup apparently under way http://bit.ly/29WqHS6

"Stability" - that's pro military coup talk ...

Kerry spoke diplomatese in support of the ongoing coup. Demanding "stability" instead of "democracy" or "respect of the legitimate government" was unlike to deter the coup plotters. "Stability", under their control, was their announced aim.

Today the Washington Post published an OpEd that seems to call for a new coup in Turkey. It gives advice on how to avoid the mistakes of the failed one.Turks will see this as still ongoing U.S. plotting:

In Turkey, the coup plotters did not wait for a contentious election or a wave of popular discontent. Perhaps more patient and strategic organizers would have fared better.

The Turkish Sufi cult leader and preacher Fethullah Gülen resides in Pennsylvania from where he controls his world wide charter school empire and network. Gülen is rumored to be under control of the CIA. Two former high ranking CIA officers gave supporting statements for him in the 1990s when he requested residency in the U.S.

Turkey now demands Gülen's extradition. The evidence Turkey is giving for his culpability in the coup consists mostly of confessions of involved officers. These were given under somewhat coerced conditions. They are unlikely to be sufficient to convince the various interest groups in the U.S. to allow Gülen's extradition.

But that would fit Turkey's plans well. Should the U.S. not response positively to the request, Turkey will have good reason to lower its relation with the U.S. and with NATO. The Turkish Foreign Minister just called again for Gülen's fast extradition. Displaying national unity the leader of the opposition CHP party issued the same demand. This is thereby not just some crazy Erdogan buffoonery,  but a request of the Turkish people. The U.S. will try to drag the issue out, but when even the Turkish opposition stands behind the demand it has little room to wiggle.

My prediction is that the U.S. will reject any extradition and that Turkey will use that to justify less amicable relations.

On the other side of the foreign policy turn are Russia and Iran. Both took an early and strong stand against the coup. Turkey explicitly thanked the Russian president Putin for his unconditioned support against the coup. (Unconfirmed reports claim that Russia warned the Turkish government hours before the coup happened.) The Turkish President Erdogan will meet Putin in person on August 5. Turkey wants to "take relations with Russia to new level."

The Turkish ambassador in Tehran hailed Iran's support against the coup.

As precondition for better relations Russia (and Iran) demand that Turkey stops its support for Jihadists rebels in Syria. According to the Economist, Turkey is complying with that:

As Mr Erdogan focuses on the enemy within, he has tried to batten down what hatches he can, periodically closing the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, hitherto the prime supply route to Syria’s Sunni opposition-held territory.
...
A few rebels argue that as part of his counter-coup Mr Erdogan might yet project his Sunni triumphalism abroad and come to their rescue. But among exiled leaders in Gaziantep and the Americans co-ordinating their logistical backup, the mood is one of despondency. “It’s game over [for Syria’s rebels] already,” says one.

Also this from the Financial Times:

Syrian rebels said last week they noticed a drift in Ankara’s attention [...] Turkey was inactive as rebels struggled. [...] Usually, the Turks would be checking in a lot, meeting with commanders and making sure everyone is doing their jobs.

A split over Gülen with the U.S., better relations with Russia and Iran and less support for the Syrian "rebels" - Turkey's foreign policy change is well underway.

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Al-Qaeda in Syria, known under the name Jabhat al-Nusra, has been fearing a tighter cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and an extensive bombing campaign against it (as demanded by two UNSC resolutions.) To avoid the damage, al-Qaeda is trying to trick the public.

Jabhat al-Nusra will rename itself to Jabhat Fath al Sham and will publicly reject all ties to al-Qaeda central (though not its aims). Jabhat al-Nusra has about 5,000 fighters, a third of which are foreigners. The group hopes that this move is enough to no longer be designated by the UN and the U.S. as "terrorist organization" and instead to be recognized as "moderate rebels". These fall under a ceasefire Russia and the U.S. had agreed upon. Jabhat's Gulf state sponsors had pressed for such a step for some time. One wonders what promises the U.S. made to further the move.

Will the Obama administration accept this fake name-change and defend it? Will it ask Russia to stop attacks on the newly disguised al-Qaeda? That would be highly embarrassing in my view. But as the U.S. is even defending its support for "moderate rebels" who behead sick children, it might as well openly support a slightly renamed al-Qaeda.

 

Posted by b on July 26, 2016 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (113)

July 25, 2016

How Clinton And Her Shallow-Brained Media Do Trump's Bidding

Clinton's negative campaign against Trump, and the media leashed to her messages, are doing Trump a huge favor. Unless they can break away from their limited framework, stop their unintended advertising for Trump's campaign, they will propel him to victory.

Here is an example: Networks on Trump: A ‘Dark Speech’ From a ‘Vengeful’ ‘Demagogue’ - Newsbuster

The three networks on Thursday night immediately derided Donald Trump’s “dark speech” as one coming from a “vengeful” “demagogue.”

The "dark speech" theme was obviously a canned response by the Clinton campaign. Her independent media (not) dutifully repeated it over and over. But that negative "dark speech" theme, supposed to condemn Trump, only makes his point.

(Isn't it amazing how Putin can compel all U.S. media to parrot the very same message?)

Trump may well have painted a negative, "dark" picture of the state of the union. But the U.S. IS "dark" for many of Trump's core followers as well as for many swing voters. Real wages are stagnant. While new unemployment numbers seem to go down, labor partition rates are very low and sinking. Many people who would like to have a job have given up looking for one. The former big industrial areas have been shrinking for decades. The foreign policy of the U.S. is one of wars and terrorism with no positive message at home or abroad.

The Clinton campaign gurus and their media surrogates took up the "dark" scheme to set Trump into a negative light. But Trump followers agree with the description. The Clinton message confirms their believes. The people agree with Trump's "dark" diagnosis. Picking up on that and reinforcing it only reinforces his message.

When Trump describes the world as "dark", he solely does so to sell THE LIGHT - himself:

"Your world is dark. Let me enlighten it. I am the only one who can do it."

Reinforcing the "dark" scheme is pushing Trump's selling point.

In June the Clinton campaign spent about $50 million on TV ads. Trump did not even spent a tenths of that and has better polling results than before. He has pulled nearly even to Clinton. Trump raises much less money than Clinton. He simply does not need as much as she does. He can spend more time on real campaigning than Clinton who must hurry from one fund raiser to the next one. Meanwhile Clinton's negative campaigning against Trump reinforces his message.

That negative campaigning also does nothing to bring new voter for Clinton. People who like Trump will not switch to Clinton. People who do not like him will stay home or vote for a third party. Clinton fails to project an alternative to the usual beltway monotony. A same-as-ever program for an electorate that demands changes. Enthusiasm and voter turnout will decide the campaign. Michael Moore correctly anticipates that Clinton fails on both. Vicious attacks on Trump have no positive message and do not change that.

The current "Trump is like Putin" and "Putin wants Trump to win" campaigns misunderstand how Trump and his supporters think. They see Putin as a nationalist leader who defends the interests of his country. Someone straight with whom one can do business. Most Trump supporters see Putin as a positive example of a leader. A thug, maybe but one who gets things done.  Clinton's Washington DC circus completely fails to recognize that. 

Fred Hiatt's Funny Pages©, aka the Washington Post Opinion pages, have for months run one anti-Trump piece after the other. This is just one regular day:

source: Gregory Djerejian

The effect is essentially a marketing campaign FOR Trump. Not one day passes without two or three pieces with his name in big letters above it - branding that does not cost him a penny.

When one of Trum'ps children recently plagiarized parts of her convention speech, a New York Times journalist tweeted:

9:36 AM - 20 Jul 2016 - Binyamin Appelbaum @BCAppelbaum

1. Deny everything.
2. Blame Hillary Clinton.
3. Blame My Little Pony.
4. Deny everything.
5. Confess & apologize.

He doesn't get it. That is not the level on which the Trump campaign works. Here is the recipe. The journos' shallow-brained reaction is a main ingredient of it:

10:05 AM - 20 Jul 2016 - Moon of Alabama @MoonofA

A. Create "outrage"
B. Get huge media cov for 0 cents
C. Increase vote share
D. Laugh at stupid journos
E. Repeat

It works every time. Slip in a bit of plagiarizing and occupy the headlines. Hold a "dark" speech and let the Clinton campaign and her independent media make your point over and over again. Sell yourself as the solution to all the negatives they emphasize.

Whatever one might think of Trump - he IS a marketing genius. He knows exactly how the media tick and he makes them work for him without paying a penny.

The same encrusted, narrow and hardened view of omnidirectional belligerence which drives U.S. foreign policy is visible in the way Clinton and her media run the campaign. There is no room for diverging from the compulsory norm.

Trump breaks those structures and thrives. He uses the limits of mainstream framing against it. Like him or not, I don't, there is a genius in that.

Posted by b on July 25, 2016 at 04:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (150)

July 24, 2016

Clinton Asserts Putin Influence On Trump - After Taking Russian Bribes

Is Putin manipulating the Clinton campaign?

Russia is weaponizing everything: Word files, federalism, finance and Jedi mind tricks - everything is transformed into a weapon if Russia or its president Putin is imagined to come near it.

But Russia is secretly plotting even more nefarious schemes. Putin is infiltrating Europe. And not only Europe.

Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, is influencing, manipulating and controlling many "western" politicians, parties and movements - in Europe AND in the United States.

Here are, thanks to Mark Sleboda, a partial list of political entities and issue Putin secretly manipulates and controls:

Putin is indeed everywhere:

9:16 PM - 23 Jul 2016 - Billmon @billmon1

Putin strikes AGAIN! "Seventeen people hurt when Hudson River ferry hits pier in New Jersey"

And now for the crown of it all.

Putin is in cahoots with the Republican presidential candidate Trump - claims the Clinton campaign. Putin is behind, it asserts, the leak of the DNC emails which prove that the Democratic National Committee has been working against Sanders to promote Hillary Clinton. The leak of the DNC emails, says the Clinton campaign, is ..:

.. further evidence the Russian government is trying to influence the outcome of the election.

The "facts" proving Russian support for Trump are mostly lies, but Putin's nefarious intentions must still be speculated about.

The Clinton campaign has not looked thoroughly enough into Putin's schemes. Reveal we can that Putin has penetrated U.S. politics even deeper than thought - right down into the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton family itself:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million.

That money, surely, had no influence on then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decisions? And what about her husband?

Mr. Clinton received $500,000 ... from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin

These undisputed facts demonstrate that Putin is indeed waging influence by bribing U.S. politicians. But the Clinton campaign is be a bit more hesitant in pointing these out.

Posted by b on July 24, 2016 at 10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (109)

July 23, 2016

Open Thread 2016-24

News & views (unrelated to U.S. elections) ...

Posted by b on July 23, 2016 at 02:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (96)

U.S. Election Thread 2016-05

  • Clinton selects Kaine, a "moderate" right winger somewhat left to her, as her Vice President candidate. "Screw all progressives," she said.
  • Trump selects right winger Pence as his Vice President candidate. "Blah, blah, blah," he said while no one at the lunatic Republican National Convention listened.
  • The Democratic National Committee under its Zionist leader Wasserman-Schultz had from day one on schemed against other primary candidates to get Clinton elected. (True even if some of the leaked DNC emails may well be fakes.)
  • Sanders proved he was fake himself when he sold out to Clinton and endorsed her.

That's my take. Yours may vary.

Posted by b on July 23, 2016 at 02:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (134)

July 22, 2016

Turkey - Erdogan Bashing Will Not Stop Foreign Policy Changes

There is currently a lot of Erdogan bashing in the U.S. and European media. It seems that the authors of the hostile pieces would have liked the coup to proceed. Why is a state of emergency and some restriction on human rights in Turkey of concern when the same measures, with less justification, were implemented in France without any protests? The French President Hollande just pushed a new labor law, which the population rejects, through parliament. This without any vote and by using some very murky constitutional provision that are only intended for emergency uses. Where is the protest in "western" media and governments against such undermining of democracy?

The coup in Turkey failed - so far. How that came to be - who planned it, how was it betrayed, why was it botched so very amateurishly - will continue to be puzzling. Some answers seem plausible but there remain many open questions.

But this is of mere historic interest. The Turkish public perceives it as a military coup against the people that thankfully failed. Erdogan (as much as I dislike him) rescued their democracy. That the Gülen movement, under the watch of the CIA, was involved is plausible enough to be taken as truth. Unlike "western" liberals assume, Gülen and his elitist, expensive schools are not liked in Turkey. The secularist see him as a dangerous conservative Islamist, the AKP followers as a deceitful, treacherous competition to their creed, ideals and heroes.

The Turkish public is in shock. That the military would bomb the parliament and gun down civilians in such random ways is unprecedented. That some creepy preacher in the always suspect U.S. was probably behind this is taken as evident. This allows the government to take extraordinary countermeasures. But considering the size of the event and the trauma its has caused Erdogan's response (so far) is rather mild.

The Turkish government has suspended or fired some 40,000 people. Nearly 10,000 were detained, most of which are military rank and file somehow involved in the coup. They will soon be free again. The people suspended and fired are only one percent of the 3,000,000 strong public workforce. An additional 27,000 private teachers had their licenses revoked. These are staff of Gülen's charter schools which are now closed.

After the 1980 military coup in Turkey, (in a population half today's size), the number of detained, fired, convicted and executed were on a much, much higher scale:

  • 650,000 people were under arrest.
  • 1,683,000 people were blacklisted.
  • 230,000 people were tried in 210,000 lawsuits.
  • 7,000 people were recommended for the death penalty.
  • 517 persons were sentenced to death.

The military in 1980 brutally revolutionize the society and pressed it into a strict Kemalist, secular frame. One can see the current counter coup as an attempt to correct, or even undo that revolution.

Compared to the military coup of 1980 the current action by the Erdogan government is very tame. People in Turkey know this and have little concern. "Western" liberal writers, influenced by Gülen elements in high regard in their own societies, ignore that fact. I do not expect Erdogan to go after the secular or nationalist opposition parties as long as these are not under foreign influence. He has a comfortable majority in parliament and no need to shun the democratic mantle. That would only harm his plans for an Islamist, Ottoman Turkey and the further steps towards that.

Of interest now is the future development of Turkey's foreign policy. Electricity to the U.S./NATO base in Incirlik has today been restored after it was stopped for a week without any sound reason. The warning that this was is by now understood. If the U.S., or NATO, make too much trouble they will be kicked out of Turkey. Before the coup Turkey already renewed relations with Russia and Israel. Iran spoke out against the coup while it was still ongoing and the plotters seemed to win. That will give it some bonus points. Turkey pulled back the troops that were illegally stationed in Iraq. All this points to some redirection fo Turkish foreign policy from a solely "western" to a more Eurasian view.

The big question is Syria on which Russia demands that Turkey changes its position. What will Erdogan do with regard to it?

There are signs that he will change his policies there too. There are already reports that Turkish intelligence agents in Syria are in retreat. Turkey may well completely stop the support for the Jihadis and close its borders. The Turkish point man on Syria so far was the intelligence chief Hakan Fide. He was recruiting, supplying and controlling the Jihadis and running the whole show. There are now signs that he will soon get fired. He will be made the fall guy for not detecting the coup early enough:

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday that deep-rooted changes will be made to the National Intelligence Agency of Turkey (MİT).
...
"It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence," President Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Turkey's biggest concern now are the Kurds who seem to have U.S. military support to unite and to organize into an independent state with huge petroleum reserves (pdf).

I expect Turkey to make nice with the governments in Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus (with Russia as the grand power behind) to defeat the common threat of an independent Kurdish state. The plan will be to divide the Kurds into various factions and to instigate these to fight each other. That is usually not difficult. It has worked "well" for hundreds of years and always kept the Kurds from asserting a united national state.

Neither Iran, nor Russia, nor Syria or Iraq will trust Turkey. They will look for any small sign that it might fall back into a hostile position and will be prepared for treason. It will take years for Erdogan to regain good standing with any of them. But he has to start somewhere. The foreign policy of the last years has brought nothing but huge problems for Turkey. The botched coup gives Erdogan the chance to completely change direction and to it fast The U.S., NATO, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will attempt  to undermine those changes. The current Erdogan bashing is part of that. It will fail as it has no echo within Turkey.

Following Iranian advice Erdogan is keeping his people in the streets and plazas. The first attempt of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran on August 15 failed. Four days later another attempt succeeded. The danger for the Turkish democracy is not over.

Posted by b on July 22, 2016 at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (74)

July 21, 2016

Yemen - Impotent Men Beg: "Please Don't Move While We Rape You"

Since March 2015 Saudi Arabia, with active help of the U.S., UK and UAE, is trying to subdue Yemen by force. Using foreign and Yemeni proxy forces it attempted to march towards the Yemeni capital Sanaa. But all efforts to move from the desert and coastal plains into the mountainous heart of Yemen failed. Thousands of Saudi air strikes, planned with and supported by the U.S., destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure and heritage but failed to change the military balance.

Followers of the Houthi movement and the Yemeni army loyal to former president Saleh defeated all incursions. At the southern coast al-Qaeda aligned fighters, with silent help from the Saudis, gained and hold some ground around Aden. But they are unable to proceed from there.

The Houthis and their allies then turned the war around by invading Saudi Arabia. This led to peace negotiations under hapless UN supervision. But after the Houthis, in a good-will gesture, stopped further attacks on Saudi Arabia the negotiations failed. The Saudis had demanded total surrender which, for some reason, the Houthis and their allies were not willing to concede. Air attacks by the Saudis increased again and they announced, for the twentieths or so time, that their proxy forces will conquer Sanaa within weeks.

The Houthis and the Yemeni army also renewed their efforts. New Uragan missiles with 100 kilometer reach suddenly came out of nowhere (video) and hit Saudi areas. Now an renewed invasion follows:

2:25 PM - 20 Jul 2016 Haykal Bafana @BaFana3

Breaking : #Yemen forces & Houthi militia surge 10km into Jizan region #Saudi & capture cement plant & army camp. 16°44'49"N 43°4'31"E

Photos : Damage in Samatah, Jizan region, #Saudi Arabia by #Yemen forces shelling 19 July. 16°35'54"N 42°56'17"E

For 200 km of the KSA-Yemen border from Red Sea to inland eastwards, Yemeni forces have invaded at 6 locations, 5-20km deep. Not incl Najran

Celebratory gunfire & fireworks in capital Sanaa. 1am local. Hear that, ya Salman? :-)

Areas in Saudi Arabia held by Yemeni forces for months now : Al Rabuah & Khoubah, Jizan. Al Shorfah, Najran.

The Saudi puppet in the war on Yemen, former vice president Hadi, confirmed and condemned the Houthi success.

The Saudi rulers are incensed. That is not the way their war was supposed to be fought. How dare those Yemenis to invade Saudi land?

The Saudis ran off to their mommies "western" allies and demanded a strong response. A response was dully given, with a silent smirk, ... in a joint statement:

The Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, USA, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates met on 19 July in London to review the situation in Yemen, following the resumption of UN led-peace talks in Kuwait on 16 July.
...
The Ministers agreed that the conflict in Yemen should not threaten Yemen’s neighbours

Read that again:

The Ministers agreed that the conflict in Yemen should not threaten Yemen’s neighbours

This should be noted in history books as the most funny diplomatic note ever. "Please, please don't hit back while we invade your land." "Please yield to these impotent men. Please don't move while we try to rape you."

As the Saudis are unable to successfully change the balance in Yemen, and incapable of protecting their own land, the Obama administration prepares to add to the chaos by sending more U.S. troops to Yemen. But if the Saudis, with the most expensive U.S. war toys available to them, are unable to win the fight, the U.S. can't either.

Another Obama war - launched without aim, without the capability to win, but with huge profits for the U.S. military and intelligence complex. Later, some foreign ministers will agree that the U.S. war on Yemen "should not threaten" the U.S. itself.

Some Yemenis though, will disagree.

Posted by b on July 21, 2016 at 05:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (55)

July 20, 2016

U.S. Considers "Pause" In Supplies For Group Beheading Sick Child

Yesterday some ten year old kid in Syria was beheaded by U.S. supported "moderate rebels".

The "rebels" alleged that the boy was a fighter for a Palestinian group on the Syrian government side. But the boy looks very small and weak, has infusion tubes in his arm and no military attributes like a uniform or weapons.

There is now additional information about the case:

8:08 AM - 20 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
#Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa, was at Hospital, beheaded by Mateen al-Nahlawee coz his father is a militant.

#Palestinian Abdullah Issa was suffering from lack of oxygen n the bloodstream causes thalassemias and needed blood transfusion every month+

He was not fighting among Al-Quds pro-gov group but his father. He was a patient at the Hospital in #Aleppo when beheaded by pro-#US Zinki.

The five "individuals" who killed the child are members of the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, a group supported by the CIA as well as with Saudi money and weapons. The group issued a statement on the case. It called it "an act of an individual" and blamed the "international community" for its problems. While only one person does the cutting the video shows that the five "individuals" are clearly acting as a group, cheering Takbeer and Allahu Akbar during and after the beheading.

Despite the publicly available video and the statement by the Zinki group leaders admitting the case, the U.S. State Department had only a very subdued response to it:

QUESTION: Is this the kind of thing that would affect assistance, U.S. assistance to this specific group but also just in general to the FSA?
MR TONER: Well, I think we’d take a – if, as you said, if we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved in it, I think it would certainly give us pause.
QUESTION: It would give you pause?
MR TONER: Well, give us pause about any assistance or, frankly, any further involvement with this group.
QUESTION: So, in other words, so it will draw – there will be some kind of consequence if you’re satisfied that this actually happened?
MR TONER: I can’t – again, I can’t say what that consequence will be, but it will certainly give us, as I said, serious pause and we’ll look at, frankly, any affiliation or cooperation with this group we may have going forward, if these allegations are proven true.

We may expect, says the State Department, a "serious pause" in the delivery of new lethal U.S. weapons to the group. Will a day or two do?

And here is how a western expert, who is paid by Qatar and other Gulf states to support the head choppers, responds to the case:

8:17 AM - 19 Jul 2016 Charles Lister @Charles_Lister

Zinki’s beheading is 100% reprehensible. Simple.

But for #Assad supporters to suddenly claim the moral high-ground is rank hypocrisy.

7:04 AM - 19 Jul 2016 Charles Lister @Charles_Lister

And yes - today’s event notwithstanding - I stand by this statement. Comparing ISIS/AQ to these groups *is* absurd.

Amnesty International provides material that proves how both, Zinki and ISIS, abduct people, torture and commit summary mass killings. But the Islamic State is bound by a brutal but strict interpretation of Islamic law. It would likely never behead a sick child on camera for the fun of it. Neither has any element of the Syrian state ever done such crime.

Comparing the Zinki group to the Syrian government or even the Islamic State savages is indeed absurd.

Posted by b on July 20, 2016 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (54)

July 19, 2016

Failed Coup Hastens Change In Turkey's Foreign Policy

The after-coup purges in Turkey continue. The Erdogan administration is firing any public servant who might, just might, not agree with its policies. Today the education ministry suspended 15,200 teachers and education workers. The licenses of 21,000 teacher at private schools were revoked. The Higher Education Commission asked 1577 university deans to resign. The Religious Affairs Directorate sacked 492 personnel, including imams and muftis. The Turkish Prime Ministry sacked 257 of its personnel in the post-coup crackdown. The Turkish secret service M.I.T suspended some 130 of its spies. In total nearly 50,000 people have been suspended, fired or detained by now. Most of these had nothing to do with the botched military coup against the government.

These losses of knowledge and experience, and the fear of those who for now stay, will take some toll on the functioning of the Turkish government and its security services. Turkey will turn inward while Erdogan will use his current popularity to remake the society in his image.

The expansive Turkish plans and projects in Syria and in Iraq will be cut back. Signs of this were already evident before the coup was launched and defeated. (Indeed some suggested that these changes were a reason for the coup.) The coup will reinforce and hasten the changes in Turkey's foreign policy.

Turkey pulled back the military forces it had illegally stationed in Bashiqa near Mosul in Iraq. Earlier the Iraqi government as well as Russia had protested against these forces on Iraqi ground but to no avail. Now they silently retreat. The Iranian agency FARS, though not always reliable, reported yesterday that all Turkish agents in Aleppo province in Syria were called back to Turkey. During the coup event something curious happened to one important person:

The top counter-terrorism official responsible for Turkey’s campaign against Islamic State did go to a “meeting” at the presidential palace in Ankara. He was later found with his hands tied behind his back, shot in the neck, according to a senior official.

Someone used the coup trouble to off the top Turkish ISIS contact. How very convenient. This is the only reported casualty at the presidential palace I have heard of. Who might have had an interest in removing this witness of Turkish relations with ISIS? Could this be some "cleaning the record" before making nice again with Syria and its allies? There is a second data-point that might have such a motive. The Erdogan government is now accusing "Gülenists" for the trouble with Russia and claims that the pilot who shot down a Russian jet also took part in the coup. Another person that stands in the way of better relations with Russia is thereby now imprisoned and moved out of the diplomatic picture.

Russia as well as Iran have loudly supported the Erdogan government against the coup plotters. Erdogan replied in kind:

Sam Tamiz @SamTamiz

In Rouhani's call to Erdogan yesterday, Erdogan said #Turkey committed to 'join hands' with #Iran & #Russia to resolve regional conflicts

In early August Erdogan and Putin will meet in persons. All these little dots point to a new direction in Turkish foreign policies. This is one of the Three western worries about Turkey namely "Turkey’s ideological drift away from the West."

The former Turkish colonel Hasan Atilla Ugur, in talk with an Iranian news site, claimed that the coup was launched by the CIA directed Gülenists to prevent such change in Turkish foreign policy and the move towards Iran and Russia. (The preacher Fetullah Gülen, accused of orchestrating the coup, is known to be extremely anti-Iran.)

A trusted mouthpiece of Erdoagn, the somewhat lunatic chief editor of YeniSafak, İbrahim Karagül, accuses the U.S. of attempting to murder Erdogan:

I am saying it loud and clear:

The U.S. administration directly planned to kill the president of the Republic of Turkey and implemented this plan. The operation aimed at martyring President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Marmaris was activated through Gülen's terrorists, the assassination team.

I repeat: The attack aimed at martyring Erdoğan was planned by the U.S., in the U.S., directly through Gülen's terrorists and the instructions were given by them.

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey was bombed by a schizophrenic under U.S. protection. Bombing the people's Parliament is declaring war against the people. This attack, like no other in history, was made by the terrorists of a man protected by the U.S.

That Erdogan turns away from "west" and towards Iran and Russia does not yet mean peace for Syria. It will take a while for Erdogan to fully come around. It will be difficult and take months to neutralize all the fanatic proxy forces Turkey introduced to the battlefield. There will be resistance in Turkey against leaving Syria alone. Some of the Syrian "moderate rebels" will turn their wrath against Turkey itself as the Islamic State has already done. The U.S. will of course also continue to intervene no matter what. Over all though this change of attitude in Ankara is welcome news for Damascus.

If Erdogan wants to leave the western realm and gain support from his eastern neighbors he will have to pay a price. Peace in Syria is the one part of it on which Iran, Russia and China will insist.

There will be a Turkish National Security Council meeting on Wednesday after which a big announcement will be made. What might it be? Will Turkey leave NATO or will the move be of lesser significance?

Posted by b on July 19, 2016 at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (129)

CIA Rebels Behead Kid And Other U.S. Successes in Syria

The U.S. "regime change" operation in Syria recently tallied up some major successes.

The Syrian Democratic Force, a U.S. sponsored group of mostly Syrian Kurds, is besieging the Islamic State held eastern city of Manbij. According to the UN's Human Rights commissioner 70,000 civilians in Manbij are cut off from all supplies. We have yet to hear calls for an immediate breaking of the siege or for enforced air drops of supplies to these people. Where are all the R2P fans in the Obama administration and all the well paid Syrian opposition propaganda groups on this? That the U.S. has managed to avoid any questions about this siege is surely a success.

Instead of delivering food the U.S. did some different air drops on Marjib:

At least 56 civilians were killed on Tuesday in air strikes north of the besieged Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, and residents said they believed the attack was carried out by U.S.-led warplanes, a monitoring group said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included 11 children, and that dozens more people were wounded.

The CIA finances a long list of proxies in Syria to fight the Syrian government and the millions of people its protects. It has delivered high powered TOW anti-tank weapons to many of these groups:

The groups that the CIA currently allows munitions to be shared with are: ... Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, (Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki)...

According to the BBC Foreign News producer Riam Dalati it is a group of these Nour al-Din al-Zenki "moderate rebels" who yesterday captured a Palestinian boy of some 8. 10, maybe 12 years, taunted him and accused him of fighting on the Syrian government's side. The boy had no uniform on and had medical infusion tubes in his right arm.

The CIA supported "moderate rebels" then behead the boy with a knife right on the back of that red pickup truck. There are photos and videos of the child alive as well as video of the beheading. The Zinki group, like its CIA supporters, was already known for torturing people.

This shows again that the Obama administration has "done nothing", or at least not enough, to help these democratic forces in Syria. If these moderate people would have received more weapons, they could have used something better than a rusty knife to slaughter the boy (/sarcasm). Indeed the group blames the "international community" for such behavior of its members.

The Obama administration has done its best to shield not only the above "moderates but also al-Qaeda in Syria, aka Jabhat al Nusra, from attacks by the Syrian and Russian forces. U.S. supported "moderate rebels", like the friendly folks above, mixed with al-Qaeda fighters and the U.S. insisted that thereby both are under its ceasefire agreement with Russian forces. Obviously the U.S. has long considered al-Qaeda in Syria to be some local problem that could be used to further "regime change" but would never become a danger for the U.S. itself or its interests. The Russians insist that the group is a legitimate target and rejected new disguised U.S. attempts to shield it.

Something happened though that suddenly let the Obama administration -here Secretary of State Kerry- change tact:

"The fact is that Nusrah is plotting against countries in the world. What happened in Nice last night could just as well have come from Nusrah or wherever it came from as any other entity, because that’s what they do."

The fact that the Nice attack followed a script published in an al-Qaeda pamphlet might have helped to finally stop the nefarious schemes of those administration circles who nurtured the group. But again this only happened after some messy incident. Not once has the administration refrained from supporting the most brutal radicals, in Afghanistan, in Libya ,in Syria and elsewhere, until these came back to bite. It seems to have taken a "success" of 80+ killed people in Nice to move the U.S. away from supporting al-Qaeda.

Without al-Qaeda's ruthless fighters the CIA supported  "moderate rebels" have no chance to win the war against the Syrian government. The U.S. is starting to follow the Russian script and will attack al-Qaeda and other like groups in Syria. The "regime change by force" project is thereby, for now, practically dead. Turkey is moving away from its nefarious role in Syria and is making friends again with the Syrian allies Russia and Iran. This will give additional impetus to the administration's silent retreat from its "regime change" project.

Posted by b on July 19, 2016 at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

July 18, 2016

Wide Purges After Stage-Managed Coup Will Cripple Turkey

As fake evidence now gets sorted out from the real stuff considerable evidence emerges that the coup in Turkey was either completely staged or at least a controlled provocation as a prelude to large, well planned purges.

While some junior officers involved in the coup may have believe that it was for real, Erdogan and his power apparatus knew that the coup was coming and had everything under control. One wonders how those juniors were deceived and what provoked them into their hasty, amateurish, hapless attempt. Did some allegedly upcoming investigation spook them?

Erdogan admitted today an TV that he knew the coup was coming:

7:47 PM - 17 Jul 2016 Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov

Erdogan acknowledges they knew about a "military activity" at least 7-10 hours before the coup vid

9:34am 18 Jul 2016 Borzou Daragahi @borzou

Turkey official: "Gulenists in military under investigation for some time. Group acted out of emergency when realized under investigation"

These "Gülenist" were more likely those nationalist Kemalist seculars which the New York Times now labels "extreme".

That the coup was expected explains why Erdogan left his vacation hotel in Marmaris hours before soldiers showed up to arrest him:

9:12 PM - 15 Jul 2016 (((Garrett Khoury))) @KhouryGarrett

#Turkey: Erdogan confirms coup forces surrounded his hotel in Marmaris...4 hours after he had left. That's a special sort of ineptitude.

It also explains why two F-16 fighter jets, allegedly part of the coup, had Erdogan's plane in sight but did not take it down:

"At least two F-16s harassed Erdogan's plane while it was in the air and en route to Istanbul. They locked their radars on his plane and on two other F-16s protecting him," a former military officer with knowledge of the events told Reuters.

"Why they didn't fire is a mystery," he said.

These pilots were not real partakers of the coup. They must have had orders not to shoot. Flight radar data showed Erodgan's plane circling in a holding pattern south west of Istanbul for hours. It would have been very easy eliminate him.

From the same Reuters piece:

The former military officer said the coup plotters appeared to have launched their attempt prematurely because they realized they were under surveillance, something corroborated by other officials in Ankara.

Colonel Pat Lang, who for years worked as U.S. military intelligence official in Turkey, contacted old acquaintances:

I am assured by Turkish sources that Erdogan and senior officers he had appointed manipulated low level plotting to create a "coup" that could be defeated easily leading to his consolidation of power.

There is precedence for such a coup in Turkey's history:

The Auspicious Incident (or Event) (Turkish: (in Istanbul) Vaka-i Hayriye "Fortunate Event"; (in Balkans) Vaka-i Şerriyye, "Unfortunate Incident") was the forced disbandment of the centuries-old Janissary corps by Sultan Mahmud II on 15 June 1826. Most of the 135,000 Janissaries revolted against Mahmud II, and after the rebellion was suppressed, its leaders killed, and many members exiled or imprisoned, the Janissary corps was disbanded and replaced with a more modern military force.
...
Historians suggest that Mahmud II purposely incited the revolt and have described it as the sultan's "coup against the Janissaries".

This coup is Erdogan's Reichstagsfire, the alleged torching of the German parliament building in February 1933 which was used by Hitler to purge communists and other enemies of his rule.

The stage-managed coup is now followed by a real one in which Erdogan takes down all presumed enemies.

Within hours after the coup against Erdogan 2,750 judges were relieved. Hundreds of judges, including supreme court judges selected by Erdogan's AKP predecessor Gul, were imprisoned. Last night 7,899 police and 631 gendarme officers were relieved of duty and their weapons confiscated. 30 governors and 47 local governors have been suspended. The Higher Education Board announced an upcoming "cleaning" at schools and universities. Twenty independent Turkish news sites have been closed. Businessmen and bankers not in line with Erdogan are next. The lists used for these wide purges must have been prepared well ahead of the coup.

3,000 soldiers, conscripts ordered to take part in the coup but also many high officers were imprisoned. These include 103 generals and admirals, many of whom had not taken part in the coup but explicitly spoke out against it. More high officers were relieved of duty. All major units of the Turkish military have lost some of their top commanders. Captured soldiers were humiliated by police special forces, the most loyal to Erdogan. They had to undress and were shown cowering on the ground. Pictures of these humiliations were widely distributed. This will break moral on all military levels!

The move against the military is reminiscent of Stalin's purge of officers in the Soviet military in 1937-41. The Soviet military disaster in the Soviet-Finish winter war of 1939 and the incredibly high losses in the first years of the fight against the Germans and their allies were the result of these purges. The Turkish military, the second biggest of NATO, is now an empty hull and will no longer be able to launch any consistent, larger operation.

Erdogan has asked his followers to stay in the streets for a whole week to "defend the state". The purges are not over.

One might argue that this coup and Erdogan's purges, will give him independence in foreign policy and will allow him to move out of the U.S./NATO realm towards Russia, China and Iran. Erodgan's people accuse the U.S. of being behind the coup. The threat of blocking Incirlik air base, the center of U.S. operations in Syria, against Russia's southern flank and the main storage area for U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East, will cower Washington and prevent any outright "western" measures against him.

The Turkish state is now crippled. The experience and knowledge of all those people purged now is irreplaceable. Any unexpected event, military or civil, will be met with confused and disordered responses. Despite Erdogan's current success hubris will take its toll and Erdogan's triumph will soon be followed by a deep fall.

What are the real friends Turkey under Erdogan has left in the international field? Some toothless Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the dictators of Qatar are the only ones I can think of. Without international goodwill left anywhere Turkey's economy will soon be in ever deeper trouble. The problem of radical Islamists, incited by Erdogan to fight against the Syrian people, will come back to bite Turkey. Erdogan may have believed that such radical forces are controllable. He will become another sorcerer's apprentice to learn that they never are.

These extreme Jhadis Erdogan imported and supplied in Syria are also the reason why we all should be happy that the coup did not by any chance succeed. Would Erdogan have been killed, civil war on the streets of Turkey would have been inevitable. Heavily armed Islamist would have attack the army and other government forces. Various ethnic and religious groups would be fighting each other. The war by radical proxies in neighboring Syria and Iraq would have come back home to Turkey just like the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan came home to Pakistan.

That still might happen. But the chances that some upcoming misstep by Erdogan will now lead to a less brutal change of power are higher than before.

Posted by b on July 18, 2016 at 06:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (145)

July 17, 2016

NYT Pampers Erdogan - Declares Secularism To Be Extreme

In its coverage of the coup attempt in Turkey the New York Times asserts that being a secularist is "extreme":

Turkey’s politics was for decades divided between secularists and Islamists, but both Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Gulen have occupied a middle ground between these two extremes.

Secularism is:

the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.

Secularism is the basis of all modern democracies. How is that extreme?

Erdogan as well as Gülen are Islamists. They both believe in the primacy of religion. (Though Gülen's alleged $25 billion charter school empire, his ties to the CIA and to the Clinton Foundation cast doubt on any claim that he is driven by religious morality.) Erdogan called the coup a "gift of god".

In the same piece the NYT also asserts that:

Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey has been a reliable American ally and partner in the fight against the Islamic State.

That will be news to the Pentagon. It took years for Erdogan to take any concern about the Islamic State serious. His country still has a mostly open border policy towards the Islamic State. He just stopped U.S. air operation against the Islamic State in Syria by closing the Incirlik airbase. A move designed to pressure the U.S. to deliver Gülen, who resides in Pennsylvania and is Erdogan's arch enemy, to Turkey. Is that really a "reliable ally and partner"?

Had the amateurish coup succeeded democracy in Turkey would have been suspended for some years. Now, that Erdogan has won. he is launching an astonishingly well prepared cleansing campaign. Thousands of soldiers, including many officers unrelated to the "coup", have been detained. Some 3,000 judges, a fifth of the judiciary, have been suspended. Hundreds of them, including supreme court judges, have been jailed. Independent news-sites get closed, editors are rounded up. Erdogan calls on his Islamist followers to occupy the streets. They attack Syrian refugees, Kurdish and Alevi neighborhoods. Democracy in Turkey is now lost for decades.

To pamper Erdogan by redefining moral norms, as the NYT does, will not better the situation of the Turkish people or of anyone else exposed to Erdogan's whims.

Posted by b on July 17, 2016 at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (122)

July 16, 2016

Coup Against Wannabe-Sultan Failed - Beware The Aftermath

(Please also read the updated tweets below. There are some very interesting nuggets in there that are not yet reflected in the text.)

Yesterday's short coup attempt (real time MoA) by parts of the military against the wannabe-Sultan of Turkey failed. Some 200 people on both sides were killed, some 1,200 wounded.

The plotters' major mistakes were:

  • to not capture Erdogan and the leaders of his political and security organizations,
  • to not shut down all means of mass communication, especially the Internet, except those under their strict control,
  • to not put out a trusted public face to represent the coup.

Erdogan escaped and could orchestrate the counter to the coup. He could continue to communicate with his security management, foreign politicians and his supporters. Without any well known alternative leader the public had only Erdogan to follow.

The amateurish behavior of the coup plotter opens the question of who ran this show. Was this, as some asserted early on, an Erdogan plot to seize more power?

There are three possible motives/perpetrators behind this coup:

  • the Islamic movement following the preacher Fetullah Gülen, a former Erdogan ally and now arch-enemy who lives in the U.S. and has CIA relations;
  • the old Kemalist secularist movement in the military and deep state;
  • the Erdogan AKP movement in a false flag operation to seize more power;

There is no evidence for any of these theses and none of them clearly fits the observed pattern.

The response will be harsh. Edogan will crack down on ANYONE he politically or personally dislikes - completely independent of their involvement in the coup. All political parties, even the mostly Kurdish HDP, spoke out against the coup while it was ongoing. The religious Gülen movement also opposed it. Most of the involved soldiers were told that they were part of an exercise. It will not save any of them from Erdogan's and his supporters' wrath.

The somewhat coup-supportive early statements from Lavrov ("avoid bloodshed") and Kerry ("stability!") will increase Erdogan's mistrust of any foreign official.

Erdogan will now become even more paranoid and unpredictable than he was before. The domestic atmosphere in Turkey will become extremely strained.

A few relevant recent tweets (see last post for many earlier ones):

5:36 PM - 15 Jul 2016 chinahand @chinahand

I'll put on my tinfoil hat re TK. What kind of coup waits til bossman's out of town & doesn't try to detain him? & AKP has plenty of

@chinahand diehard para-fash assets that wud hit streets immediately on its behalf. No plan to counter that? #WorstCoupEver I suspect

@chinahand TRE knew about the plot, made sure it would fail w/ help of loyal officers pretending to be part of it, & let it go ahead.

@chinahand now time to clean up the (extremely messy) mess & take out the trash, methinks

6:24 PM - 15 Jul 2016 ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint

Pres Erdoğan says this is an opportunity presented by God to clean up Turkish Military . #live press conference

9:12 PM - 15 Jul 2016 (((Garrett Khoury))) @KhouryGarrett

Turkey: Erdogan confirms coup forces surrounded his hotel in Marmaris...4 hours after he had left. That's a special sort of ineptitude.

10:13 PM - 15 Jul 2016 ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint

Turkish Army Forces published its last memo at 6.50 am local (90 mins ago) saying “movement continues"

9:45 PM - 15 Jul 2016 i24NEWS English @i24NEWS_EN

#BREAKING 754 members of Turkish armed forces arrested across Turkey: state news agency

11:17 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Mustafa Akyol @AkyolinEnglish

This #turkeycoupattempt had not much to do with “Islamist-vs-secularists.” Secular opposition sided with the govt against the putschists.

11:39 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Nasser Atta @nasseratta5

Number of detained military personnel after #Turkish coup attempt rises to 1,563 across country: official

11:48 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Alev Scott @AlevScott

Erdogan denouncing "traitors" on state TV channel, which a few hours ago was hijacked by the military denouncing him pic.twitter.com/j30UiQ3jau

11:53 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Gregory Djerejian @GregDjerejian

If you thought Erdoğan was becoming overly authoritarian bordering on some neo-Sultan or such oh boy just you wait now post-aborted putsch.

1:05 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Asaf Ronel @AsafRonel

Turkey's acting army chief of staff: Coup attempt was rejected by chain of command immediately.

General Dundar: We'll continue to serve the people. I would like 2 thank all political parties and the media for their support for democracy

More: "The armed forces is determined to remove members of the Gulen movement from its ranks"

1:32 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Frank Nordhausen @NordhausenFrank

#Turkey This was a weird coup. I was on Taksim square 3 hours, my impression was: that's not real. I saw military in Cairo - no comparison.

1:38 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

Despite results in #Turkey, Erdogan will be very busy internally, reforming, reshuffling, turing the army upside-down.His throne has shaken.

1:42 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

When the coup was taking over, the #USA embassy called the coup "Turkish uprising". #Turkey. pic.twitter.com/dEcWvXsLYd

2:43 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

Jabhat al-Nusra #AQ spiritual scholar al-Maqdisi attacked the Turkish Army responsible of the coup as "anti-Islamic" pic.twitter.com/UlKrbX5gaS

3:03 AM - 16 Jul 2016 @dr_davidson

After digesting #TurkeyCoup news, my view is Erdogan's agents in military forewarned him, & there were considerable benefits allowing it 1/3

Erdogan has big opportunities to purge military (think Sadat's 'corrective revolution') & claim supra-electoral nation-saviour status. 2/3

The question is which allies Erodgan decided to keep in loop. If none, then Qatar, MB & fellow travellers will have had disturbed night 3/3

3:35 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Aylina Kılıç @AylinaKilic

Ahrar al-Sham publishes support message for Turkish government for coup attempt in #Turkey, citing "democracy first"

4:46 AM - 16 Jul 2016 DAILY SABAH @DailySabah

BREAKING - Turkey’s top judicial body HSYK lays off 2,745 judges after extraordinary meeting sabahdai.ly/GSnzF0

Interesting how fast they drew up that list. This move was long planned and may have been a reason for the coup. See below.

5:27 AM - 16 Jul 2016 archicivilians @archicivilians

Free Syrian Army (#Syria Opposition ) released a statement congradulating the fail of #TurkeyCoupAttempt. pic.twitter.com/8S

5:28 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Hussain AbdulHussain @hahussain

In 24 hours of news coverage of #Turkey, in all the military and the civilians who took to streets to restore democracy, not a single woman

5:35 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Reuters World @ReutersWorld

Turkish PM: Any country that stands by cleric Gulen will be at war with Turkey reut.rs/29KtlNW pic.twitter.com/VJcTrtVi6M

That is a direct Erdogan threat to the U.S. where Gülen lives.

5:48 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Émad @EMostaque

Noted yesterday imminent big changes in judiciary by HSYK may have been key catalyst for coup, now accelerated

2:54 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Émad @EMostaque

Proximate causes for #TurkeyCoup may have been recent reorganisation of judiciary as well as Ataturk attack

5:50 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Kayode Odeyemi @kayodeyemi

Power to Turkey's Incirlik Air Base, which is used by U.S. to launch airstrikes against #ISIS, has been cut, U.S. consulate in #Turkey says

earlier

3:41 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Putintintin @putintintin1

Turkey jets which bombed #Ankara refilled from fuel tankers took off from Incirlik airbase!!

Consider: Erdogan demands that U.S. delivers Gülen to him (without evidence of coup relations). Erdogan isolates major U.S. base (with nukes) in Turkey. This could get VERY interesting ...

5:57 AM - 16 Jul 2016 ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint

10 State Council, top court members are detained allegedly for having ties to failed coup attempt.

6:32 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Ragıp Soylu @ragipsoylu

Journalist @sahmetsahmet says police was to arrest coup leaders yesterday before they mobilise, that led the coup pic.twitter.com/UdXViNUf1V

7:16 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Liam Stack @liamstack

John Kerry on the Turkey coup: "I must say it does not appear to be a very brilliantly planned or executed event." nytimes.com/live/turkey-co…

7:18 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Ellie Geranmayeh @EllieGeranmayeh Speculations flowing in #Istanbul re #TurkeyCoup linked to annual military meeting in Aug where gov plan to purge Gulenist soldiers (leaked)
7:19 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

Elijah J. Magnier Retweeted Marianne

Imposing Sharia punishment on soldiers in #Turkey for their failed coup
[pic showing bearded Erdoganists whipping soldiers in the street after they surrendered]

8:24 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Jim Colella @Jim_Colella

Reports today of 2745 judges removed after last night's #TurkeyCoupAttempt. Wtf? How's that related? Watch all that happens next.

+ 5 judges frm top judicial appointment body (HSYK) dismissed. 48 Council of State judges detained. 140 arrest warrants 4 Supreme Ct Appeal

9:15 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Asaf Ronel @AsafRonel

there's a report saying a anti-Gulen operation was in final stages & ignited the coup attempt - the lists were ready

9:15 AM - 16 Jul 2016 ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint

Constitutional Court (US-Supreme Court) member Alparslan Altan, VP at highest court appointed by A.Gul, is detained.

9:46 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Mete Sohtaoğlu @metesohtaoglu

Four #Turkish parties make rare joint statement against coup attempt
#TurkeyCoupAttempt #AKP #CHP #MHP #HDP pic.twitter.com/UOBTU339uT

9:59 AM - 16 Jul 2016 The Truth @JunkTruth

Did @BarackObama know of and approve the #TurkeyCoup? Turkey's Patriotic Party says CIA is behind Gulen coup: pic.twitter.com/HoAhPBKuBg

see pic-link above - interesting read

10:08pm · 16 Jul 2016 Gissur Simonarson CN @GissiSim

“Pro-Democracy” protesters who lynched soldiers to death display “Grey Wolves” hand signals over dead bodies #Turkey

10:10pm · 16 Jul 2016 Turkey Untold @TurkeyUntold

BREAKING: Secretary of Labor Süleyman Soylu live on news channel Haberturk: "The US is behind this coup" pic.twitter.com/khqdbUw7re

10:12 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Asaf Ronel @AsafRonel

Turkish official confirms authorities found coup-plan lists saying which officers will be governors, heads of government agencies etc

Lists included more than 100 names with matching would-be posts. Not all of them arrested yet #TurkeyCoupAttempt

10:32 AM - 16 Jul 2016 CNN Türk ENG @CNNTURK_ENG

#BREAKING Turkish President Erdoğan speaks live, calls U.S to hand over Fethullah Gulen to if U.S is strategic ally

Translation - Erdogan to U.S.: "If you want to keep access to Incirlik airbase you will have to give me Gülen!" (mentioned that earlier - see above)

10:32 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Yaroslav Trofimov @yarotrof

Gulen will be a huge issue, possibly costing US access to Incirlik base. twitter.com/turkeyuntold/s…

10:42 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Joshua Landis @joshua_landis

Clearing out Gulenists, fall guys for coup. They aren't know 4 strength in army. Still not clear who is behind this.

Political parties just demonstrated solidarity against the coup. Now this:

11:08 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Conflict News @Conflicts

BREAKING: Pro-Kurdish HDP offices under attack in by pro-Erdogan supporters in Iskenderun, Malatya and Osmaniye #Turkey - @michaelh992

Posted by b on July 16, 2016 at 03:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (226)

July 15, 2016

Turkish Military Takes Down Wannabe-Sultan?

There are some signs that the military in Turkey is currently launching a coup against the wannabe-Sultan's government.

This is developing and unconfirmed.

Some very recent tweets (All time stamps on a unified timeline):

12:18 PM - 15 Jul 2016 agitpapa @agitpapa

Something fishy's going on military blocking Bosphorus bridge, jets buzzing Ankara. Tayyip took Turkey back decades is it already 1980?

12:20 PM - 15 Jul 2016 ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint

Bosporus Bridge currently blocked by Turkish Military. Everybody is asking: what is going on? Turkey. Istanbul. pic.twitter.com/7pqwTY9zQw

12:21 PM - 15 Jul 2016 agitpapa ‏@agitpapa

Curfew declared in Ankara.

12:30pm · 15 Jul 2016 Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov

Reports of significant military presence in urban areas in Turkey. Two Istanbul bridges on lockdown by military.

12:32 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov

Turkish fighter jets flying low over Ankara pic.twitter.com/wqcPmLBOyW

12:39 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Moon of Alabama @MoonofA

Moon of Alabama Retweeted Mahir Zeynalov

Smells of army coup?!?

12:54 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Piotr Zalewski @p_zalewski

Roads to the General Staff headquarters in Ankara have been blocked: TR media t24.com.tr/haber/ankarada…

12:56 PM - 15 Jul 2016(((Michael Koplow))) @mkoplow

The lack of Turkish govt officials visible anywhere at the moment is…odd.

1:03 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Ragıp Soylu @ragipsoylu
#BREAKING Turkish PM Yıldırım says there has been "an attempt" and his government won't allow it.
1:08 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

Helicopters hitting the Intelligence service building and army surrounding the army HQ. Getting hotter. #Turkey

#BreakingNews: F-16 over Ankara and Helicopters opening fire in Ankara against Army building. #Turkey
It is obvious that the #Turkish Air Force is splitting and it is a real coup d'etat.

I am watching an RT live feed which is, for over an hour, supposed to show a live Kerry and Lavrov press conference in Moscow. Everybody is still waiting for them. I wonder what is holding those guys up. (12:09PM)

An arch Gülenist ... :-)

1:21 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Abdullah Bozkurt @abdbozkurt

Rumor has it this may be a false flag to create pretext for govt to redesign @NATO 2nd largest army to the pleasure of its current rulers.

1:26 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov

Turkish army announces it has taken over the authority in entire Turkey. Gov't denies, says the coup attempt is failed

Lavrov - Kerry press conference just started (1:30PM)

1:30 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Breaking News Feed @pzf

BREAKING NEWS: TURKISH STATE NEWS AGENCY SAYS EXPLOSION BEING REPORTED AT POLICE SPECIAL OPS HQ IN ANKARA.

1:34 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Omar Al Saleh @AJEOmar

#Turkey military says "it has taken over authority to maintain democracy and human rights "

... and to save unicorns.

1:38 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Aron Lund @aronlund

While the Turkish coup seems to be real, reports of gunfire in Bashar al-Assad's office in Damascus are false. Those are champagne corks.

1:48 PM - 15 Jul 2016 David Cenciotti @cencio4

Friend was told minutes ago they were about to board Turkish 1841 from IST. Now they have informed them that flight is cancelled

1:47 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taken to a safe place in Marmaris by his guards.

Turks withdraw money from ATMs after reports of coup.

1:47 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
#BreakingNews: The Army arrested the Chief of Staff (pro-Erdogan) and is bombing the Intelligence HQ, again. #Turkey.
2:00 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

#BreakingNews: The Presidency (Pro-Erdogan) is "asking the support of the population". (This is the beginning of the end).

agree - when no other resources are left to a president than "the people", it's over ...

2:04 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier ‏@EjmAlrai

All @facebook @twitter and @YouTube suspended in #Turkey by the Army.

Journo at ongoing Lavrov & Kerry press conference: "France, Belgium told their citizen in Turkey to stay at home." Lavrov: "Russian citizens should too."

2:11 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Talking Points Memo Verified account @TPM

#BREAKING John Kerry says he hopes for stability in Turkey as coup apparently under way http://bit.ly/29WqHS6

"Stability" - that's pro military coup talk ...

2:11 PM - 15 Jul 2016 i24NEWS English @i24NEWS_EN

#BREAKING Moscow calls on Turkey to avoid all 'bloodshed'

Also pro-coup in my book.

It seems that the big guys have agreed on something quite significant in today's talks in Moscow.

2:13 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Andrew Duff @AndrewDuffEU

Turkish military say they will uphold NATO & UN commitments.

That seals the deal with Moscow and Washington!

Now compare Kerry's "stabilty" talk with the NATO's Warsaw Summit Communiqué (July 8-9 2016)

NATO’s essential mission is unchanged: to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security, and shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

"Stability"? I don't find "stability" in there. Hmmm...

2:26 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1

Senior US military source tells NBC News that Erdogan, refused landing rights in Istanbul, is reported to be seeking asylum in Germany.

Woah - probably the last guy any German would grant asylum. But Merkel made a deal with Erdogan to welcome every  unqualified "asylum seeker" from Turkey. She'll be damned though should she stick to that and let him in. Could she point him to Damascus?

2:42 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

#BreakingNews #Breaking The Turkish Army orders its units to pull out of #Iraq (Ba'shiqa) positioned against #Baghdad's will,close to #Mosul

More sealing the deal. This above move will soother Iraq and Iran.

3:50 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Mustafa Akyol @AkyolinEnglish

#TurkeyCoup summary:
1) This is a clique within military, not the whole military.
2) It is failing.
3) It will further empower Erdoğan.

2:52 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Hisham Al-Omeisy @omeisy

Erdogan back in second frantic internet call. Seems all he can do when army cut him off from all other coms. #Turkey pic.twitter.com/U3tqLmWx2B

How come the coup plotters missed to shut down the internet - MAJOR mistake.

3:03 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

It is not excluded that #Turkey might face a rise of extremists Islamists (pro-Erdogan) if these lose power. Grey future ahead.

#ISIS and #AQ adore a state of "savagery" to support and proliferate if the coup lasts and a lack of stability dominates#Turkey for a while.

3:06 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Iraqi PMU English @pmu_english

#BREAKING #Turkish army leaving #Bashiqa camp after #TurkishCoup. We thank military for respecting #Iraqi territory pic.twitter.com/siZtYqmOsP

3:07 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

#Turkey Air Force commander and ground troops commander are anti-erdogan. Both behind the coup. @widar01

3:22 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Sky News @SkyNews

Flag-waving crowds gather in Istanbul's Taksim Square after Turkey's President urged people to take to the streets snpy.tv/2agURye

3:30 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Sam Tamiz @SamTamiz

This looks like a game of cat and mouse that the military is going to lose

4:02 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Caspar Schliephack @SerioSito

#TurkeyCoup: Apparently police, MİT, 1st Army Command (Istanbul), Navy, parts of Air Force & Special Forces remain loyal 2 government

4:05 PM - 15 Jul 2016 DavidKenner @DavidKenner

Obama urges support for "democratically-elected government of Turkey."

Obama talked to Kerry (White House Statement). There seems to have been some disagreement between them. Obama, from the tone of it, practically ordered his line to be followed.  Flag in the wind ...

4:15 PM - 15 Jul 2016 DavidKenner @DavidKenner

I wonder if an attempted coup requires a dramatically strengthened Turkish presidency.

4:16 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Thomas van Linge @arabthomness

#Turkey: authorities have retaken full control of TRT studio in #Ankara, arresting soldiers & confiscating weaponry pic.twitter.com/VhZ3rlf0Vy

4:18 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Hussain AbdulHussain @hahussain

If Erdogan gets through this, he will have a long list of people to settle scores with, inside and outside #Turkey

4:25 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Tom Coghlanتوم کوگلن @TomCoghlan

After a significant pause (sniffing the wind?)- US and others now queueing up to back the 'democratically elected govt' #Turkey

4:28 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Ludwig W @LudWitt

Now Germany joins in (after POTUS leads the way) supporting Gov - another sign that coup failing #Turkey

4:34 PM - 15 Jul 2016 U. Klein @smukster

Just half an hour after the publication of the #28pages, what coincidence...not. #TurkeyCoup

4:47 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Ryan Evans @EvansRyan202

No matter who wins in #Turkey, deeper autocracy is the result

to be continued ...

It is getting late here and I will end live coverage for now (5:00 PM on timeline). It will be interesting to analyze why the coup failed, as currently seems likely, or succeeded. Control of ALL mass media - not only TV but especially the Internet as means of mass communication - seems to be a decisive factor.

Posted by b on July 15, 2016 at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (151)

The "Western" War On Syria Depends On Al-Qaeda - Attacker In Nice Followed Its Guidance

The attacker in Nice, who last night killed some 80+ people by driving a truck into a crowd, was likely incited by al-Qaeda. Inspire, al-Qaeda's magazine, called for such truck attacks in its Issue Number 2 (pdf).

Page 54 read:

Pick your location and timing carefully. Go for the most crowed locations. Narrower spots are also better because it gives less chance for the people to run away. Avoid locations where other vehicles may intercept you.

To achieve maximum carnage, you need to pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control of your vehicle in order to maximize your inertia and be able to strike as many people as possible in your first run. ...

The ideal location is a place where there are a maximum number of pedestrians and the least number of vehicles. In fact if you can get through to “pedestrian only” locations that exist in some downtown (city center) areas, that would be fabulous. There are some places that are closed down for vehicles at certain times due to the swarms of people.

The Promenade des Anglais, the seaside boulevard in Nice where the attack took place last night, was blocked for ordinary traffic to allow a large crowd of pedestrians to watch the Bastille Day fireworks. The place and occasion perfectly fit the al-Qaeda terror recommendations.

While Osama Bin Laden had at times cautioned about indiscriminate attacks, al-Qaeda has hardly refrained from such on other occasions. Currently the government held western part of Aleppo, filled with mostly Sunni refugees, is under daily indiscriminate fire by improvised artillery from al-Qaeda and "moderate-rebels" who hold parts of east-Aleppo.

The French government did not care or even favored when its citizens went to Syria to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government by means of terrorism:

"The fighters in Syria are not fighting France or Europe; they are fighting against the Assad regime," Valls [,the French interior minister,] said.

Now these fighters and their ideology are coming back to France.

The Syrian president Assad had warned that terrorism committed against Syria would return to the "West" to bite:

"The West uses any element, even if it is against them elsewhere," Assad said. "They fight Al Qaeda in Mali and they support it in Syria and in Libya, but the West doesn't know — or perhaps it knows but is not now aware — that this terrorism will return to it and they will pay the price later in Europe and the United States."

Now the French president Hollande said he would reintroduce a state of emergency and call up troops to patrol the street. But both measures have been in place for the last months and obviously could not prevent such an attack. Hollande also vowed to intensify attacks on the Islamic State. But it is France' and its allies' support for "moderate rebels" in Syria what keeps al-Qaeda in Syria and the Islamic State alive.

The United States, like France, does not fight al-Qaeda in Syria. Weapons it provides to "moderate rebels" in Syria are used in coordinated attacks with al-Qaeda against the Syrian government. Indeed its proxy war for "regime change" against Syria depends on al-Qaeda storm troopers:

Up to now, the United States has carried out occasional strikes against what have been described as senior Qaeda figures in Syria. But it has refrained from systematic attacks against the Nusra Front, whose ranks are heavily Syrian, including many who left less extreme rebel groups because Nusra was better armed and financed. Faysal Itani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, was also critical of the proposed military coordination with the Russians. He said that combined attacks against Nusra would effectively end the Syrian opposition, cementing Mr. Assad’s grip on power and enraging most Syrians.

As long as France, the U.S. and their allies in the Middle East support "rebels" in Syria to achieve a change of government by force the terrorism committed in Syria by al-Queda, its affiliates like Ahrar al Sham or by the Islamic State, will come back to strike in their own countries.

We can expect more attacks like in Paris, Brussels, Orlando and Nice until sanity regains some space in the brains of "western" governments.

Posted by b on July 15, 2016 at 09:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (60)

July 14, 2016

East-Aleppo Has Three Months Stockpiles - Two Days Later It's Running Out?

One of the stories below does not fit the others. How can that be?

Reuters, July 11:

Aleppo rebels brace for long Syrian government siege

Rebel areas of Aleppo have stockpiled enough basic supplies to survive months of siege by Syrian pro-government forces that cut off their half of the city last week, even though some goods are running out, an opposition official said.

LA Times, July 11:

Doctors travel a dangerous road to help ease the horrors of war-torn Aleppo, Syria

Anticipating a siege, local authorities stocked food for three months and medical supplies for three to six months, [Dr. Zaher] Sahloul said.

Wall Street Journal, July 13:

Syria’s Aleppo Running Out of Food, Medicine After Regime Forces Advance

Food and medicine have begun to dwindle in the city of Aleppo after an advance by Syrian regime forces effectively cut off the only road into the rebel-held side of the divided city, residents and opposition leaders said Wednesday.

Posted by b on July 14, 2016 at 08:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (44)

July 13, 2016

How U.S. And UK "Liberals" Disfranchise Their Party Members

The "liberal" party establishments in the U.S. and UK, within the Democrats and Labour, are united in their distaste for party member opinions. They alone want to decide which positions the party has to take. They want to make sure that there is no alternative to their rule. It is elitism at its worst which no longer bothers with the pretense of democracy. Does it count as "shared values"?

Bernie Sanders folded. This without gaining any significant concession from Hillary Clinton on programmatic or personal grounds. (At least as far as we know.) He endorsed Clinton as presidential candidate even as she gave no ground for his voters' opinions. This disenfranchises the people who supported him.

Trump's attack lines on this are spot on:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 7:01pm · 12 Jul 2016

Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.

and

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 7:03pm · 12 Jul 2016

Bernie sanders has abandoned his supporters by endorsing pro-war pro-TPP pro-Wall Street Crooked Hillary Clinton.

Those are valid statements. I find it hard to to argue with these.

Abstaining from any endorsement or running as independent or Green party candidate would have been more honorable ways for Sanders to admit defeat. It would have pressed the Democratic party to stop its movement to the right of the Republican party.

I expect the "Not Hillary" protest vote to be very strong in the November election. There is still more significant dirt to be dug up about her and her family foundation. Trumps current lows in the polls will recover when the media return to the "close race" mantra that makes them money. He still has a decent chance to win.

Then again - its the first time now that I have to concede that Clinton may well win. But that would be with a record low turnout, and record low legitimacy. There would be no wins for the Democrats in the Senate and House. She would be another Republican President who would represent only a record small slice of the electorate.

The election shambles on the other side of the Atlantic are no less depressing. "Corbyn can not win votes," is the claim of the anti-Corbyn Blairites. That is why they have to resort to dirty tricks to disenfranchise Corbyn voters. His supporters are not allowed to count in a Labour leadership election because they support him. How can such "logic" and this step be legal?

Jeremy Corbyn was jubilant after the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) decided his name should automatically appear on the ballot paper in the leadership contest triggered by Angela Eagle.
...
However, in a separate decision taken after Corbyn had left the room, the NEC ruled that only those who have been members for more than six months will be allowed to vote – while new supporters will be given two days to sign up as registered supporters to vote in the race, but only if they are willing to pay £25 – far higher than the £3 fee many Corbyn backers paid in the contest last year.

If that ruling stands nearly 100,000 new party members who have joined in support of Corbyn will either have to immediately pay a poll-tax of £25, or will not be allowed to vote. Here is what the Labour website promised them when they joined:

Corbyn may need some lawyers to set the NEC straight.

One can only hope that he wins the new Labour leadership election. The Labour establishment stinks like an Augias stable and the party needs a thorough house cleaning.

Posted by b on July 13, 2016 at 12:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (158)

July 12, 2016

Atmospheric Changes Over Syria

With Cameron leaving as UK Prime Minister another top politician who demanded that "Assad must go" has left the political scene. The Syrian President Assad is still in place and there is no sign that he will leave in the foreseeable future. It seems that real life facts still have more weight than "regime change" propaganda platitudes.

The facts continue to be persistent that there is therefore again some wind of change detectable in the political atmosphere.

The Syrian army and its allies are closing the only road to the eastern parts of Aleppo. This effort requires intense urban warfare (vid) against Jihadi terrorists. According a Pentagon spokesperson that part is held by al-Qaeda:

[I]t's primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities.

All attacks on east-Aleppo are thereby completely legitimate and do not break a ceasefire.

Despite that another media "outrage" campaign will be created to condemn the "siege on Aleppo" that this blockage allegedly creates. Such "outrage" propaganda pieces, like this one today in the LA Times, do not even acknowledge that west Aleppo,  with nearly two million people living there, is on the side of the government. They speak of "Aleppo" but only mean the eastern parts. They also exaggerate the number of civilians left in east-Aleppo as several hundred thousands. The Guardian journalist Martin Chulov has traveled to east-Aleppo several times over the last years. He reported a year ago that there are far less:

Those who remain in eastern Aleppo, roughly 40,000 from a prewar population estimated at about a million, ...

It is doubtful that the number of people in east-Aleppo has since increased. There was also enough time for the fighters and their families in east-Aleppo to prepare for a siege. As even the LA Times piece admits:

Anticipating a siege, local authorities stocked food for three months and medical supplies for three to six months, Sahloul said.

A Reuters piece confirms this:

Rebel areas of Aleppo have stockpiled enough basic supplies to survive months of siege ...

The soon coming claims of imminent famine in east-Aleppo are thereby already debunked.

The change in the political atmosphere is a convergence of the "western" and Russian view on which groups are terrorists in Syria and must therefore be fought. This follows a change in the public perspective.

Amnesty Internationally recently claimed, six years too late, that several U.S. supported "moderate rebel" groups torture and abduct civilians and regularly commit war crimes. The "moderate rebels" who recently attempted another offensive in Latakia openly advertise themselves as foreign Jihadis. Ahrar al Sham, which not long ago wrote op-eds for "western" papers claiming to be "moderate", is now threatening U.S. supported "moderates" in south Syria because they are tired of fighting and keep with the ceasefire.

The French president Holland has finally recognized al-Qaeda as an important enemy in Syria that should be fought:

"We must coordinate among ourselves to continue actions against Daesh but also... take effective action against Al-Nusra," Hollande said, directing his appeal at Russia and the U.S.

Back in 2012 the French government lauded al-Qaeda's role. The then Foreign Minister Fabius said that "Nusra does good work."

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has not only acknowledged al-Qaeda's role but is now extending the terrorist label to Ahrar al-Sham and other Salafist groups:

“There are a couple of subgroups underneath the two designated — Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra — Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham particularly — who brush off and fight with that — alongside these other two sometimes to fight the Assad regime,” he said, referring to two rebel groups that the United States has not named as terrorist groups until now.

That is a very significant concession to the Russian position which has for months argued for adding these groups to the UN terrorist list.

Also noticeable is that the Saudi/U.S. sponsored Syrian hotel opposition is again ready to negotiate with the Syrian government. That group had broken off negotiations during the last round. Someone now ordered them back into the play.

The Russians again demonstrated their commitment to Syria. They not only support the Syrian army in the siege of east-Aleppo but also renewed air strikes with long-range bombers which started from Russian soil. A sure signal that Russia is ready as ever to escalate again.

The biggest move is probably happening in Turkey. After having made a mess out of Turkish foreign policy, under heavy economic pressure and startled by recent terrorist attacks on Turkish soil President Erdogan decided to change course. He fired his long time sidekick Davutoglu and perused better relations with Russia and other countries. After he apologized for the earlier ambush of a Russian fighter plane, Russia resumed relations and lifted some economic sanctions against Turkey. But there will be more demands to fulfill before Turkey is again allowed to have good international standing. Some softer words are spoken but the real Turkish position on Syria has yet to change:

“The normalization of Syria is possible but everybody should make sacrifices for this. Our strategic partners and coalition partners should heal the bleeding wound in Syria and take more responsibility. As Turkey, we are exerting necessary efforts to open the doors of peace and security,” Yıldırım said.

But Yıldırım said there would be no meeting with the country in the short term. “The oppression should first end. The dictatorial regime should end. What will you agree on with a regime that has killed more than a half million of its people without blinking an eye? Everybody already agrees on this,” he said.

It is still "Assad must go" but a slight change in tone is detectable. The new U.S. and French position on al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham, both coddled by Turkey, increase the pressure on Ankara to move away from its rigid position. Erdogan may otherwise find that he, like Cameron, will have to go before Dr. Assad even thinks about leaving his position.

While all the above items are in themselves only small changes of positions they sum up to some significant change in the political atmosphere over Syria.

Posted by b on July 12, 2016 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

July 11, 2016

NRA To Promote Gun Rights For Blacks And Muslims - Right?

 


Leshia Evans uses her meditative forces to repel assaulting borgbots of the Baton Rouge police department.
Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

The gun lobbyists of the National Rifle Association get criticized for not forcefully asserting 2nd amendment rights over the murder of a legitimately gun carrying member of the public:

After a Minnesota police officer fatally shot a black man on Wednesday, gun control advocates weren’t the only ones criticizing the National Rifle Association. Some of the blowback was coming from within the organization.

The NRA is facing internal division as its members argue that the group did not do enough to defend gun owners’ rights by speaking out on behalf of Philando Castile of Falcon Heights, Minn., who was shot to death during a traffic stop.

Castile had a valid permit to carry a gun. He also reportedly informed the officer who shot him that he was armed in an attempt to head off a misunderstanding.

Comments to that report suggest that the NRA is racist, promoting gun rights for white people only:

Castille was black. That's the difference. Why does this article even try to tap dance around this glaringly obvious double standard?

The NRA must reject such slander.

It should launch a campaign to give every black and every Muslim person a carry permit for a semi-automatic gun. It should   also demand special purchase discounts. Crimes within black neighborhoods and inner cities will lessen, according to the NRA's central claims, when more people there carry concealed guns, readily able to defend themselves.

Meditative forces simply ain't enough to keep the streets free of borgs.

Current NRA members would surely support such a move.

Right?

Posted by b on July 11, 2016 at 03:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (84)

July 10, 2016

Reuters Colludes With Terrorists By Disguising Them As "Rebels"

The British news agency Reuters seems to have difficulties distinguishing between various forms of militancy.

Thus it categorizes designated terrorists as "rebels".

July 1 2016 : Syria rebels retake key town in western coastal province: monitor, rebels

Insurgents seized a strategic town from Syrian government forces and their allies in the western coastal province of Latakia on Friday, a monitoring group and the rebels said, in a rare advance for them in the area.
...
Nusra Front said in an online statement that an alliance of Islamist rebel groups including itself had captured Kansaba and a number of other villages, seizing several tanks and artillery guns.

The Nusra Front is Al Qaeda's organization in Syria. Two UN Security Council resolutions call on all UN members to "eradicate" the terrorist organization's safe havens.

July 10 2016: Iran says Saudis back terrorism after senior prince attends rebel rally

(Reuters) - Iran on Sunday accused Saudi Arabia of backing terrorism after a senior Saudi prince, a former intelligence chief, addressed a Paris rally held by exiled Iranian rebels and told them he wanted the Iranian government to fall.
...
The rally addressed by Prince Turki al-Faisal on Saturday was held by the political wing of the exiled People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), which seeks the overthrow of Iran's clerical leadership established by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

With backing from Saudi money and extensive bribing in Washington DC the MEK managed to be taken down from the U.S. list of designated terrorists. But it has neither changed its aims nor its terrorist methods and clearly continues to deserve that label.

By disguising designated and well established terrorist groups as "rebels", not once but twice within a short time frame, Reuters colludes with these groups. This demonstrates that Reuters has serious problems with providing objective news.

Posted by b on July 10, 2016 at 10:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (46)

July 09, 2016

Hazelnut Cookies

The summer here is lousy. It is cold and raining every day. Instead of ice cream and tropical cocktails I prepared tea and my favorite biscuits.

These cookies are a bit crunchy and with whole hazelnuts. My family used to have them only for Christmas, but I now make  them every once a while throughout the year.

Here is the recipe.

Hazelnut cookies:

The amounts are good for about 100 to 120 of them. If that's too many use just half the recipe and you will be fine.

  • 150 gram (5.3oz) butter
  • 300 gram (10.6oz) sugar

- Beat until (somewhat) fluffy

  • 500 gram (17.6oz) wheat flour
  • 1 package (8gr) of vanilla sugar*
  • 0.1 liter (3.4 fl oz) of whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliter) of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) - alternative: baking powder (though the strength may vary**)
  • 300 gram (10,6oz) whole hazelnuts

- Mix and knead the dough well
- Use a pastry board with some flour and form rolls of about 4 centimeter (1.5 in) in diameter and some 15 centimeter (6 in) length
- Put the rolls on a plate and cool them in a fridge for at least(!) 6 hours! Cover only lightly to let superfluous moisture escape. (The cooling is the most important step. If the rolls are too warm or too wet it is nearly impossible to a. cut them up well and b. to achieve the desired crunchy texture.)

- Preheat baking oven to 175° centigrade (350°F)

 

- Cut the cold rolls into 5 millimeter (0.2 in) thick slices, round these off and put them onto a naked baking tray
- Bake for 15 minutes at 175° centigrade (350°F)
- Check for color, a light brown tan is perfect

- Clean the baking tray with cold water and prepare the next charge

The recipe above will give about three full tray loads, enough to refill my biscuit tin.

 

 

Prepare for tea-time while the cookies cool off.

 

Footnotes:

*Vanilla sugar is hard to get in the U.S. and UK. On the European continent it is available prepackaged as 8 grams of fine, nearly powdery sugar with natural vanilla powder and/or vanilla (vanillin) aroma added. It is used in whipped cream and in all kinds of pastries. Here is a description how to make your own vanilla sugar. As a fast alternative simply add some 10 drops of vanilla-aroma or up to 1 gram of powdered Bourbon vanilla directly to the dough. Knead well.

** Variants: One can easily make these sweeter by using up to 50 additional grams of sugar (350g total). Kids will prefer this  variant. The more nutty folks (like me) will instead add another 50 grams of hazelnuts (350g total).  Up to 0.1 l milk can be added (0.2l total) to achieve a somewhat softer, less crunchy result. More baking soda/baking powder (up to 1 tsp total) will give lighter and softer cookies. (Warning: these will grow impressively while baking - leave enough space on the baking tray to accommodate this.)

Have a nice tea time.

Posted by b on July 9, 2016 at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

July 08, 2016

Dallas - Civil Law Enforcement Use Of Vehicle Based IED Raises Questions

Last nights shooting and killing of several policemen in Dallas, Texas is still somewhat mysterious. At one point the Dallas police chief asserted that four attackers were working together with rifles and triangulating themselves in positions for the attack. Two of them were reported as snipers on roof. This led me to estimate that this was probably some team-trained (supremacist) militia trying to instigate a civil war.

Current status is that one man alone was responsible. An army veteran who was, according to this video, trained in infantry combat. Three other persons are in custody but possibly not related to the incident.

What explain the far diverging situation reports by the Dallas Chief?

The single identified shooter was eventually trapped and the police negotiated with him. Negotiations broke off, according to the police, and the police used a remote controlled "robot" to deliver a bomb next to the trapped shooter where it was then exploded. The suspect was killed by the explosion.

This is the very first known use of a remote controlled vehicle based improvised explosive device, or RC-VBIED in military speak, by a civil police force. The vehicle was a remote controlled device on rubber tracks as they are often used to examine and explode suspicious packages.

The suspected shooter had been surrounded and trapped for some time.

  • Was the suspect still an imminent danger?
  • Was it justified to use such kind of "drone strike" against him?
  • What if criminals resort to similar devices (relatively easy to build from RC toys)?
  • Was the remote connection to the "robot" secure or was it open to manipulations?
  • What are potential consequences when such remote killing machines will be used (as has now become likely) in everyday standoffs between police and this or that suspected criminal?
  • The use of drones in warfare has led to an increase in targeted strikes -in and outside of warzones- as the risk to own forces was reduced. Will police use of VBIEDs have similar effects?
  • Should the use of such means require a warrant?

The use of such a "robot" is a qualitative step into a future no one was eager to see in the streets of our cities. We should think hard and ask difficult questions before accepting it.

Posted by b on July 8, 2016 at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (142)

July 07, 2016

Libya - Part III - The Return Of The King Saif Gaddafi

by Richard Galustian

In an article in early May, I wrote "Keep in the back off your mind the potential future importance of Saif Gaddafi."
 
The news of the release from a Libyan prison in Zintan of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi, heir apparent to his late father, is surprising to many outsiders but it nothing to what may come next - a return in some form to power.
 
In Libya’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising, Saif joined his father and sons on the barricades, castigating NATO-backed rebels in a bitter revolutionary war. While those rebels later cornered and killed his father Muammar and brother Moatasim in Sirte, Saif was captured alive trying to flee through the Sahara desert to Niger.
 
It may be his good fortune that the units capturing him were from Zintan, a mountain town south of Tripoli, who later went to war with Islamist led Libya Dawn which captured the capital in 2014. When a mass trial was held of former regime figures there, Zintan refused to hand Saif over, sparing him the brutalities inflicted on other prisoners including former intelligence chief Abdullah al Senussi and his younger brother Saadi, who was filmed being beaten in a Tripoli prison cell.
 
Zintanis were no friends of the former regime, fighting against Gaddafi’s forces as one of the most effective rebel outfits during the uprising that was won by NATO bombing.
 
But from the few accounts of those allowed to visit him in a closely guarded compound somewhere in the town, he has been treated well, living under what amounts to house arrest, until now.
 
A year ago a Tripoli court operating under Libya Dawn auspices sentenced him, and either others including Al Senussi, to death. Up in Zintan, not much changed for Saif, with Zintan still digging in its heels and refusing to hand him over to Tripoli’s grim Al Hadba prison.
 
The shambolic UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) under a puppet PM who operates out of Tripoli naval base, the only part of the city they control, however appears to be responsible for the amnesty order given in April to Saif and other prisoners removing their death sentences and ordering them to be freed.
 
Since then, Saif’s location is a mystery, but Zintan’s attitude to him is tempered by their alliance with former Gaddafi-supporting tribes, including those from Beni Walid and Warshefani, in their brutal battle with Libya Dawn’s Islamists. The Gaddafi tribe itself has a base south of Zintan around Sebha, making common cause with the Zintanis against Libya Dawn militias who control the capital and lord it over the GNA.
 
Before the Libya uprising, Saif criss-crossed the globe pushing an agenda for democratization he hoped would reform the country. Whether the drive was not serious, or whether it was frustrated by his hardline siblings Moatsem and Khamis, is impossible to know, but he emerges from captivity to find Libya a changed place something he predicted.
 
Saif al-Islam in February 2011 gave a speech foretelling of what was to come. And he was right “There will be civil war in Libya … we will kill one another in the streets and all of Libya will be destroyed. We will need 40 years to reach an agreement on how to run the country, because today, everyone will want to be president, or emir, and everybody will want to run the country.”
 
Saif knew his country would be torn apart if his father regime was forced out by the West. 
 
The brutalities of his father’s regime have since been matched by those of some of the militias that overthrew him, most visibly the grim beating of his brother Saadi in a Tripoli jail which his captors filmed in gruesome detail.
 
Many of the tribes that once supported Gaddafi are now battling Islamists and their opportunistic Misratan allies of Libya Dawn, and will see in Saif a figure who can unify their demands not to be squeezed out of Libyan political life.
 
Opposition to him taking a political role it can be argued is softening because he was never part of the “muscle” of the Gaddafi regime, spending much of his time in London moving around the gilded circle of rich tycoons, academics and Tony Blair’s political elite.
 
There is, in other words, an opening for a man who was castigated by rebels for dismissing their rebellion on Gaddafi’s green TV during the uprising, but who never fired a shot in anger. With his release, he might get a shot at the plan he always said he wanted; to reform his country and unite key tribes who feel marginalized by Libya’s power brokers. 
 
Pieces are falling into place for him to possibly take part in some kind of grand council. With the GNA unable to persuade either of Libya’s other two governments to join it, there are calls for a wider mediation effort, with Saudi Arabia and importantly Oman, offering mediation, to be discussed in Brussels on 18th July with US Secretary of State John Kerry. 
 
In this battered, chaotic country, with governments fighting each other and IS, Saif Gadaffi may find a new role as part of the solution rather than the problem.
 
In the past 24 hours since the news broke he had been freed, Libyans across the country from different towns and cities have held pictures of Saif shouting his name. To my knowledge it's the first time any pro-Gaddafi demonstrations have been evident in so many parts of the country since 2011.
 
It's time Saif played a role with other libertarians in and outside Libya promoting the old constitution and particularly banishing members of the former AQ affiliate, LIFG.
 
Rumors are abound that Saif will give a press conference very soon. That's going to be very interesting indeed if it happens.

Posted by b on July 7, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (80)

July 05, 2016

Clinton Offers New Contract To Attorney General - Escapes Indictment

Hillary Clinton is under federal investigation for using her private, insecure email server for classified State business. Anybody else handling classified official material on a private server would have at least lost their job and would likely be indicted. But Clinton is not anybody else. She has strings to pull. She has offers to make. And she is successfully doing such. Let's follow the trail.

Loretta Lynch held private talks with Bill Clinton aboard a plane in Phoenix while her department investigates Hillary

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, whose agency is investigating Hillary Clinton's email practices, spent about 30 minutes meeting with President Clinton while both of them were separately passing through Phoenix.

Clinton had landed ahead of the nation's top law enforcement officer, and waited for her arrival, a local affiliate ABC15 reported.

Lynch was in town for an event on community policing.

Clinton learned of her arrival, and decided to wait so they could meet, sources told the station.

'I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,' Lynch said at a press conference when asked about the prolonged chat, which took place aboard a jet on the tarmac.

Clinton claimed he was in Phoenix for playing golf. It was some 106 degree Fahrenheit in Phoenix that day. Having been in and around Phoenix in such weather I am sure no one went for any longer walk during that day, or played golf.

After some media outrage Lynch tried to wiggle herself out of the calamity:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Friday that she will accept the decision of career prosecutors, investigators and FBI Director James Comey on whether to bring criminal charges in the ongoing investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State.

The unusual public announcement during an event in Aspen, Colo., comes as the attorney general faces a storm of criticism related to an awkward encounter with former president Bill Clinton after the two crossed paths earlier this week at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport.

Then, two days ago, the NYT had a piece on Clinton that mentions in passing a renewed job offer for Loretta Lynch should Clinton become president:

Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be attorney general, who took office in April 2015.

One and one is two. Lynch read that message and the director of the FBI, which is responsible to the Attorney General for its operations, received appropriate signals. The result:

F.B.I. Recommends No Charges Against Hillary Clinton for Use of Personal Email

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, on Tuesday said the F.B.I. is recommending no charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal email server while secretary of state.

The statement by Mr. Comey concluded an investigation that began a year ago when the inspector general for the intelligence agencies told the Justice Department that he had found classified information among a small sampling of emails Mrs. Clinton had sent and received.

Comey also said this, which makes it clear that this is a very "special case" that would not pass the usually used criteria:

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

Clinton broke the law, but the FBI finds "no intent" of her doing so. Willfully setting up a private email server for state business is against laws and regulations. Clinton did so for purely egoistic reasons. But that is not "intent" says Comey.  Knowingly sending and receiving Top Secret information through it is not "intent" as the FBI defines it in this case. Other knowledgeable people differ. Destroying her State Department schedules must also have been without Clinton's "intent". Sure. As some Clinton once said, "it depends on what the meaning of the word is is."

The Clinton campaign is currently trying to smear Donald Trump as antisemitic because of some graphic his intern handling his Twitter account sent around. It depicted Clinton as bribable with money in the background and it included a red star. Now a red star is the insignia of the 6th Infantry Division, or just a red star from a clip art library, but the Clinton campaign and its followers alleged that the red star was signaling that Jews are bribing Clinton, which they do, after the yellow star used to mark Jews in the Nazi area. It is a typical smear campaign against Trump or anyone who does not prostate enough at relevant altar. But is that graphic really antisemitic and its misinterpretation Trump's fault?

Make no mistake about it, the Trump campaign has a serious antisemitism problem. But the question is, how much of it is Trump and how much of it is his supporters, and how much is torched off courtesy of Clinton, Trump’s myriad other political enemies, and a hostile media.

Is Trump the active impresario of an anti-Semitic movement?

The evidence seems to indicate otherwise.

Clinton's arrogant email handling and the string-pulling that saved her from indictment can not be attributed to some Trumpian antisemitism issue. Bringing that up was a diversion.

If the Trump campaign has some serious marketing players they will hammer home from now to November that Clinton's lax handling of message security is a danger to the nation and that her and her husband's seemingly crocked manipulations to escape indictment is disqualifying her for any higher job. Additionally a judge ruled today that Clinton's "private" emails will be open to FOIA requests. Some dirt will be found in them.

I find it quite possible that such a campaign would turn away enough voters from her to let her lose the general election.

Posted by b on July 5, 2016 at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (157)

July 03, 2016

Baghdad, Brexit And The Chicken Coup

A few issues I meant to write about (but from which family issues keep me away):

Last night two bombs by Islamic State terrorists killed 172 and wounded some 200 people in Baghdad. At the same time the New York Times had a piece up, with zero evidence for its thesis, which was headlined Appealing to Its Base, ISIS Tempers Its Violence in Muslim Countries. (The headline was since changed.) The people in Turkey, Bangladesh, Yemen, Iraq and Syria - all place where IS committed mass murder last week, likely have a different view than the NYT expressed.

Will there be a Je Suis Baghdad campaign tonight? Will the colors of the Iraqi flag be projected onto the Eiffel Tower, the Berlin Gate or the White House? No? Why not? Are the mostly Shia kids, women and men killed in Baghdad the wrong kind of people?

I strongly agree with this paragraph: Brexit Is Just The First Earthquake Of Its Kind

People want a new order in which a sense of belonging and a sense of security, nationalism and economics, go together. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this democratic desire. At base, this is what this vote is about. The British people are of course not alone in this search. In searching for a vision in which nations can be economically strong in a connected world, some opportunists will pair up with genuinely racist elements to make political capital. But to see this as merely the resurgence of some archaic, parochial, provincial populism is to miss the wood for the trees.

The Canary has an excellent series on the long planned but failed Chicken Coup in the British Labour party.Tony Blair’s crony elite want to snatch Labour back from the working class, How a PR company manufactured the Labour coup – Part I, Senior Labour Party insider reveals plan to oust Corbyn was in play 10 months ago (EXCLUSIVE). The coup was publicly announced in The Telegraph ten days before it happened: Labour rebels hope to topple Jeremy Corbyn in 24-hour blitz after EU referendum. This coup attempt was an embarrassment. The Blairite masters of spin have obviously lost their abilities.

Posted by b on July 3, 2016 at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (80)

July 01, 2016

Open Thread 2016-23

News & views ...

Posted by b on July 1, 2016 at 01:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (226)

 
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