Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 08, 2016

NYT Covers Up Complicity In Iran Spy's Execution

Iranian authorities recently executed a scientist for treason after they determined that he was a long-term spy for the United States. The history behind the man is a bit weird. He had, so is said, for some time spied for the U.S. within an Iranian nuclear research center when it was decided to extradite him. He flew to Saudi Arabia from where the CIA brought him to the United States. It paid him a load of money and set him up under a new name in Tuscon, Arizona. The man did not feel well in his new setting. He released a video in which he claimed to have been taken against his will and that he was tortured and pressed by the CIA to spill Iranian secrets. He demanded to be send back to Iran. He arrived there but his story apparently did not hold up. He was eventually sentenced to death and executed.

A weird spy tale and one that certainly still has some secrets. But what is really curious is how one reporter at the New York Times, who once outright claimed that the man worked for the CIA, is now very vague about it. The man is dead. He can no longer be harmed. Why hold back now if not to hide ones complicity in his death?

On July 15 2010 NYT writer David Sanger left no doubt that the man was a long term CIA assets:

U.S. Says Scientist Aided C.I.A. While Still in Iran

The Iranian scientist who American officials say defected to the United States, only to return to Tehran on Thursday, had been an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency inside Iran for several years, providing information about the country’s nuclear program, according to United States officials.
...
For several years, Mr. Amiri provided what one official described as “significant, original” information about secret aspects of his country’s nuclear program, according to the Americans.

This account by the Americans, some of whom are apparently trying to discredit Mr. Amiri’s tale of having been kidnapped by the C.I.A., provides the latest twist in one of strangest tales of the nuclear era.

Sanger noted that the CIA wanted to discredit the scientist. But why then repeat those claims? He also noted that publishing the claim was likely to get the man into deep trouble:

“His safety depends on him sticking to that fairy tale about pressure and torture,” insisted one of the American officials, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified while discussing a classified operation to attract Iranian scientists. “His challenge is to try to convince the Iranian security forces that he never cooperated with the United States.”

Trying to convince Iranian authorities that you are no spy, while the NYT prominently lays out the story that you are, is not an easy task. Why did the NYT, knowing of the potential consequences for the man, publish the claims at all?

Does Sanger feel regret about having outed the man, now that he has been executed? Consider his mealymouthed version of the above claim in today's report on that case:

How an Iranian’s Spy Saga Ends, 6 Years Later: He’s Executed

...
It now appears he may have begun work as an American source while he was still in Iran.
...

That very qualified sentence - "now appears", "may have" - comes down in paragraph 11 of the story. Not in the very opening paragraph as written by Sanger six years ago. How come that today it "now appears" when this was claimed with near certainty in the other story six years ago?

Why change the story at all after those six years? Why these qualifications now that the man is dead? Is this covering up the NYT's and Sanger's personal complicity in the man's death?

Posted by b at 07:19 AM | Comments (42)

August 07, 2016

Aleppo (Again) Turns Into Focal Point Of The War On Syria

On Thursday I judged that the U.S. supported al-Qaeda attack in southwest Aleppo was failing.

Despite the failure of their main thrust, al-Qaeda and its allies launched a third phase attack towards Ramouseh district a few hundred meters further north. A tactical mistake as the attackers failed to build a decisive Schwerpunkt. ... Local fighting still continues on the front lines but the government positions seem secured and the attacking force is slowly getting ground down.

That judgement was premature.


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The Jihadis retreated after their first three attacks but renewed their efforts with fresh troops on the next day. This time they concentrated on one focal point. Another frontal assault throughout Friday failed, but a fifth major strike followed in the darkness of Friday night. A total of five vehicle borne suicide bombs broke the defense line of the Syrian government forces and Jihadi forces stormed into the wide area of the Artillery Academy. The compound is a hard to observe mixture of small open fields, garages, office and quarter buildings. The sparsely manned defense lines were overwhelmed or circumvented. By Saturday night most of the academy was in the hand of the Jihadis. A small corridor to the Jihadi held east-Aleppo was opened but is not secured.


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The Syrian government forces are bringing up reserves and additional forces. A counterattack is likely to follow soon. The battle for Aleppo is now the strategic Schwerpunkt, the focal point of the fight for north-Syria if not of the whole war.

Cont. reading: Aleppo (Again) Turns Into Focal Point Of The War On Syria

Posted by b at 03:58 AM | Comments (173)

August 06, 2016

Open Thread 2016-25

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:31 PM | Comments (123)

August 05, 2016

Why Do U.S. Experts Suddenly Find Syrian Rebel Sectarianism "Extraordinary"?

Anti-Assad luminaries in the United States suddenly play surprised that their beloved "moderate" insurgents are a bunch of racist and sectarian head choppers. But this was obvious as even the very first demonstration against the Syrian government in March/April 2011 were driven by sectarianism. Countless members of minorities in Syria have since been murdered by "western" and Gulf supported "moderate rebels".

Why do these anti-Syrian "experts", who supported the genocidal insurgents, suddenly find that abhorrent?

The "moderate rebels" and al-Qaeda in Syria currently attack the government held parts of the city of Aleppo. Part of their attack plan is the storming of the Artillery Academy in Ramouseh district. The academy was the scene of mass murder in the 1979-1982 Muslim Brotherhood uprising against the government. The name they chose for the battle make their intentions clear.

3:07pm · 4 Aug 2016 - Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha

Battle is named after "Ibrahim Yusuf", an Ikhwani who murdered ~80 Alawite cadets in Ramouseh Artillery Base in 1979 pic.twitter.com/7TVYiZNeBP

London Times reporter Hala Jabar explains:

Cont. reading: Why Do U.S. Experts Suddenly Find Syrian Rebel Sectarianism "Extraordinary"?

Posted by b at 05:52 AM | Comments (70)

August 04, 2016

Kerry's And Al-Qaeda's "Very Different Track" Attack On Aleppo Fails

Early in May U.S. Secretary of State Kerry set a deadline for "voluntary" regime change in Syria:

[He] said “the target date for the transition is 1st of August” in Syria or else the Assad government and its allies “are asking for a very different track.” Hoping that “something happens in these next few months,” he said the political transition would not include President Assad because “as long as Assad is there, the opposition is not going to stop fighting.”
...
Kerry made those remarks after meeting with the UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. They agreed to establish a monitoring ceasefire center in Geneva, Switzerland, ...

By the time of that statement al-Qaeda in Syria and U.S. supported insurgents had already broken the February ceasefire announced by Russia and attacked Syrian government positions in the rural area south of Aleppo city.

Negotiations since May between Russia and the U.S. over Syria have not led to any tangible results. In retrospect the U.S. tactic seems to have been willful delay. The U.S. made some laughable offer to Russia and Syria to effectively accept defeat in exchange for common attacks on al-Qaeda. This was rejected without much comment.

The current attack on the government held Aleppo by al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra aka Fateh al Scam) was launched on August 1st. With up to 10,000 insurgents participating the attack was unprecedented in size. August 1st is exactly the same date Kerry had set as starting date for "a very different track". This is likely not a random coincidence.

Despite the very large size of the "Great Battle of Aleppo" and its possibly decisive character for the war neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post has so far reported on it.

The U.S. had long prepared for an escalation and extension of the war on Syria. In December and January ships under U.S. control transported at least 3,000 tons of old weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria to Turkey and Jordan. These came atop of hundreds of tons of weapons from Montenegro transported via air to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. According to the renown Janes Defense military intelligence journal these Bulgarian weapons ended up in Syria where the Syrian army confiscated some of them from al-Qaeda and U.S. supported insurgents.

During the ceasefire and negotiations with Russia, the U.S. and its allies continued to arm and support their proxies in Syria even as those were intimately coordinating and integrating with al-Qaeda. The U.S. does not consider these groups to be terrorists, no matter with whom they associate or whatever they do. Even when such a group beheads a 12 year old, sick child in front of running cameras the U.S. State Department continues to support them and opines that "one incident here and there would not necessarily make you a terrorist group."

Good to know ...

The Russian Defense Ministry warned since April that large amounts of weapons and men were crossing from Turkey to Syria:

Cont. reading: Kerry's And Al-Qaeda's "Very Different Track" Attack On Aleppo Fails

Posted by b at 05:49 AM | Comments (79)

August 03, 2016

How Not To Run An Anti-Trump Campaign

The whole U.S. political and media establishment is right now running a full fledged anti-Trump campaign. The points this drive brings up are minor issue, rumors or outright lies.

It is premature to run such a campaign now. One can not tell the same story over and over again for nearly a 100 days. People will either get tired of it or will endorse Trump as the poor small boy that everyone is bullying and beating up.

Some spat over a dead soldier who the Clinton campaign (ab)used for her campaign gets way overblown. Unfounded rumors that some Republicans are going to replace Trump are just a repetition of the same nonsense that spread a month ago. It only heightens the media's lack of credibility. It is similar to the claims that "the Assad regime will fall any minute now". We have heard for the last five years and no one believes it. Unsourced claims that Trump asked why the U.S. can not use nukes are not credible. Especially when they are transported by a lowlife like MSNBC's Scarborough and immediately denied. If true at all, the issues is likely taken out of context. 

On the other side, news about Clinton actively lying is so obviously suppressed by the New York Times that even its public editor laments about it. CNN claims that Hillary meets "boisterous crowds" when no-one shows up.

This wont work. This imbalance is not sustainable. The Clinton campaign managers who orchestrate this onslaught are shooting their wads prematurely.

It does not matter that Trump indeed has small hands or that he fibs on every details. The majority of the people hate Clinton. This media campaign will fall back on her. She will be perceived as the bully increasing her already strong negatives.

Posted by b at 12:49 PM | Comments (126)

August 01, 2016

The Larger Context Of The Jihadi Attack On Aleppo

Al-Qaeda in Syria and associated forces are currently driving a large scale attack from the south-west into Aleppo city. Their aim is to create a new corridor between the Idleb/Aleppo rural areas they occupy and the besieged al-Qaeda controlled areas in east-Aleppo. Between 5,000 and 10,000 al-Qaeda fighters, using U.S. supplied equipment, are taking part in the battle. Formally some of the fighters are "moderates" but in reality all this groups are by now committed to implement Sharia law and to thereby suppress all minorities. They made some initial progress against government forces but are under fierce attack from the Syrian and Russian air forces.

The Russian General Staff has warned since April that al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al-Nusra aka Fateh al Sham) and the various attached Jihadi groups were planing a large scale attack on Aleppo. An al-Qaeda commander confirmed such long term planning in a pep-talk to his fighters before the current attack.

This shines a new light on the protracted talks Secretary of State Kerry has had for month with his Russian colleague. The U.S. tried to exempt al-Qaeda from Russian and Syrian attacks even as UN Security Council Resolutions demanded that al-Qaeda and ISIS areas be eradicated. Then the U.S. tried to make an "offer" to Russia to collectively fight al-Qaeda should Russia put its own and Syrian forces under U.S. control. We called this offer deceptive nonsense. All this, it now seems, was delaying talk to allow al-Qaeda to prepare for the now launched attack.

Another step in the delaying, though a failed one, was the re-branding of Jabhat al-Nusra as Fateh al-Sham. Some "western" media called that a split from al-Qaeda but in reality is was a merging of al-Qaeda central and Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria under a disguising new label. Al-Qaeda's Qatari sponsors had demanded the re-branding so al-Qaeda in Syria could publicly be sold to "western" governments and their public as "moderate rebels". But the sham failed. It was too obvious a fake to be taken seriously. The "western" support for al-Qaeda will have to continue secretly and in limited form.

The current attack on Aleppo is serious. The Syrian army lacks ground forces. Significant professional ground forces from Iran were promised but never arrived. Iran was still dreaming of an accord with the U.S. and therefore holding back on its engagement in Syria. The Afghan farmer battalions Iran recruited are not an alternative for professional troops. Defending against an enemy that is using lots of suicide vehicle bombs to breach fortifications and death-seeking Jihadis to storm field positions is difficult. It demands diligent preparation excellent command and control.

If this attack can be defeated the huge losses al-Qaeda will have to take might end its open military style war. If al-Qaeda succeeds with the attack the Syrian army will need very significant additional ground forces to regain the initiative.

But no matter how that battle goes strategically the U.S. is sniffing defeat in its regime change endeavor. It is now proposing to split Syria. Syria and all its neighbors are against this. It will, in the end, not happen, but the damage Washington will create until it acknowledges that fact could be serious. Russia can and should prevent such U.S. attempts of large scale social engineering.

Russia on the other side has now to decide if it wants to escalate enough to create more than the current stalemate. Over time a stalemate becomes expansive and it may, at any time, suddenly turn into defeat. The U.S. negotiation positions so far were obviously not serious. The U.S. delayed to allow for further large attacks on the Syrian government. The alternative for Russia is to either leave Syria completely or to escalate enough to decisively defeat the Jihadis. That is not an easy decision.

Today some Jihadis shot down another Russian helicopter over Syria. The bloody body of the dead pilot was dragged through the mud by some local nuts and the video thereof proudly presented. If the Russian government needs some public pretext to go back into Syria it now has it. Also today the Islamic State threatened to attack Russia within its border. Another good reason to return to Syria in force. Of note is that Russia is already extremely pissed over the unreasonable hostile climate towards it in Washington DC. It will have consequences.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei today acknowledged that the nuclear agreement with the U.S. is a failure. The U.S. did not deliver on its end. Iranian money is still blocked in U.S. controlled accounts and no international bank wants to do business with Iran because the U.S. is threatening to penalize them. The conclusion, Khamenei says, is that no deal with U.S. over any local issue in the Middle East is possible and that all negotiations with it are a waste of time. This new public position may finally free the limits the Rouhani government of Iran had put on Iranian deployments to Syria. Why bother with any self-limitation if the U.S. wont honor it?

How the situation in Syria will develop from here on depends to a large part on Turkey. Turkey is changing its foreign policy and turning towards Russia, Iran and China. But how far that turn away from the "west" will go and if it will also include a complete turnaround on Syria is not yet clear. Should Turkey really block its borders and all supplies to the Jihadis, the war on Syria could be over within a year or two. Should (secret) supplies continue, the war may continue for many more years. In both cases more allied troops and support for the Syrian government would significantly cut the time (and damage) the war will still take. That alone would be well worth additional efforts by Syria's allies.

Will Tehran and Moscow agree with that conclusion?

Posted by b at 12:25 PM | Comments (136)

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


---

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 at 08:11 AM | 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.

Cont. reading: Siege Shows U.S., Concern Trolls Hypocrisy

Posted by b at 02:47 PM | 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 at 02:21 PM | 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.


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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:

Cont. reading: Abu Ghraib Torture Company Re-Hired For Syria - How ISIS Will Benefit

Posted by b at 02:30 AM | 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?

Cont. reading: Syria And The DNC Hack - How Beliefs Turn Into Dangerous Policies

Posted by b at 02:47 PM | 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 ...

Cont. reading: Turkey's Foreign Policy Change Is Well Underway

Posted by b at 11:37 AM | 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?)

Cont. reading: How Clinton And Her Shallow-Brained Media Do Trump's Bidding

Posted by b at 04:44 AM | 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 at 10:29 AM | Comments (109)

July 23, 2016

Open Thread 2016-24

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

Posted by b at 02:39 AM | 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 at 02:37 AM | 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 at 12:35 PM | 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 at 05:17 AM | 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 at 12:44 PM | 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:

Cont. reading: Failed Coup Hastens Change In Turkey's Foreign Policy

Posted by b at 02:20 PM | 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.

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

Posted by b at 12:14 PM | 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.

Cont. reading: Wide Purges After Stage-Managed Coup Will Cripple Turkey

Posted by b at 06:21 AM | 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 at 09:11 AM | 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.

Cont. reading: Coup Against Wannabe-Sultan Failed - Beware The Aftermath

Posted by b at 03:10 AM | 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?!?

Cont. reading: Turkish Military Takes Down Wannabe-Sultan?

Posted by b at 03:59 PM | 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 at 09:46 AM | 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 at 08:26 AM | 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?

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

Posted by b at 12:18 AM | 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:

Cont. reading: Atmospheric Changes Over Syria

Posted by b at 12:52 PM | 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 at 03:11 AM | 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 at 10:47 AM | 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.

Cont. reading: Hazelnut Cookies

Posted by b at 02:53 PM | 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 at 01:50 PM | 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 at 12:32 PM | 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 at 12:14 PM | 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 at 02:16 PM | Comments (80)

July 01, 2016

Open Thread 2016-23

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:24 PM | Comments (226)

June 30, 2016

New U.S. "Offer" To Cooperate With Russia in Syria Is Deceptive Nonsense

In February the U.S. and Russia agreed upon a ceasefire in Syria. Al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat a-Nusra) and the Islamic State were explicitly excluded from it. In April al-Qaeda, Ahrar al Sham and a number of U.S. supported "moderate rebels" attacked Syrian government forces south of Aleppo. They broke the ceasefire and Syrian government forces, after taking heavy losses, responded.

The Russian government has since urged the U.S. to push its proxy forces to re-accept the ceasefire. It demands, rightfully, that the U.S. supported "moderates" separate themselves from al-Qaeda so that al-Qaeda can be attacked without further collateral damage. The U.S. rejects that so far claiming that the rebels are too "intermingled" with al-Qaeda. A separation is thereby not possible, it says. At the same time it demands that Russia and Syria refrain from attacking al-Qaeda because that would hit those "moderates" that fall under the ceasefire.

That is hogwash and clearly designed to protect al-Qaeda. After months of pledging with the U.S., Russia finally said so and relaunched attacks against the "intermingled" groups.

Now suddenly the U.S. is seeing the light and is offering military cooperation against al-Qaeda in Syria. That is - if you believe this rumor of a new U.S. "offer", reported, suspiciously, by a wannabe neocon writer on the Washington Post opinion pages:

The Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels.

The United States transmitted the text of the proposed agreement to the Russian government on Monday after weeks of negotiations and internal Obama administration deliberations, an administration official told me. The crux of the deal is a U.S. promise to join forces with the Russian air force to share targeting and coordinate an expanded bombing campaign against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which is primarily fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The deal is allegedly supported by Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. That is somewhat curious. Kerry is the one who demanded a harsher line against Syria and Russia and was the point man in accusing the Russian of bombing the al-Qaeda associated "moderates".

In exchange [for some cooperation], the Russians would agree to pressure the Assad regime to stop bombing certain Syrian rebel groups the United States does not consider terrorists. The United States would not give Russia the exact locations of these groups, under the proposal, but would specify geographic zones that would be safe from the Assad regime’s aerial assaults.

"Specify geographic zones" without specifics is pretty much nonsense. No one will take such an offer serious. What if the zone is specified as "Idleb governate" or "east Aleppo" or some other wide area where al-Qaeda and the rebels live and fight side by side? The Russians and Syrian would get practically nothing but they would have to stop attack those who attack them?

Even the hawkish former U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, says that this idea is bullshit:

There’s not enough reliable intelligence to distinguish Jabhat al-Nusra targets from the other rebel groups they often live near, Ford said. And even if the Syrians agreed not to bomb certain zones, there would be no way to stop Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups from moving around to adjust.

Moscow and Damascus will laugh at such an "offer".

The U.S. is indeed protecting al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda, not U.S. supported "moderates, is the only force which keeps the Syrian government side from winning. The Zionist lobby confirms this:

Because most Jabhat al-Nusra fighters are fighting Assad, if the plan succeeds, Assad will be in a much better position. Meanwhile, the other Sunni Arab groups that are left fighting Assad will be in a much weaker position, said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The strategy could allow Assad to capture Aleppo, which would be a huge victory for his side in the civil war.

“If the U.S. and Russia open up on Jabhat al-Nusra, that changes the dynamics on the ground in Aleppo and Idlib,” he said. “It would definitely benefit the Assad regime ..."

The plan, if it was correctly "leaked" to the WaPo author, is nothing but additional delaying and obfuscation. The U.S. has no interest in ending the fighting in Syria. It wants to keep the conflict going as long as possible to "bleed" Syrian, Iran and Russia as much as it can.

The Russian government should finally accept that and end the conflict by solely military means.

Posted by b at 12:42 PM | Comments (113)

June 29, 2016

Another U.S. Proxy Force Defeated By IS - Incompetent Training or Intent?

The U.S. military has again failed in one of the training programs it runs in support of fighting the Islamic State. Earlier training missions had failed to create competent and willing forces. Supplies for U.S. supported forces ended on the black markets or directly in the hands of the Islamic State. Is all this really incapability or is there some intent behind this?

Yesterday the U.S. created and supported New Syrian Army, a large gang of Salafists from Deir Ezzur, proudly announced that it was attacking the Islamic State at the Syrian-Iraqi border:

ISIS has gone on alert as US-backed rebels aim to advance toward the border town of Al-Boukamal in a bid to cut the jihadist group’s supply lines between Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday, the New Syrian Army announced the start of its campaign to gain control of Al-Boukamal, which lies across from the Iraqi border town of Al-Qaim deep behind ISIS’s main frontlines in eastern Syria.

Hours after the start of the offensive, the shadowy group active in remote stretches of the eastern Syrian desert seized the defunct Al-Hamdan airbase five-kilometers northwest of Al-Boukamal while fighting also raged overnight southwest of the border town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attacked town is 250 desert kilometers away from the only other New Syrian Army position at the Tanf border crossing. The forces were dropped by helicopters and had U.S. air support. These New Syrian Army fighters were trained In Jordan and newly equipped by U.S. and British special forces and are said to be led by "foreign airborne fighters", likely Jordanian specialists.

Three coalition helicopters landed New Syrian Army troops approximately four-kilometers west of Al-Boukamal on Tuesday, according to the SOHR, as coalition airstrikes in the meantime targeted ISIS north of the town.

The New Syrian Army also claimed its forces were airdropped, saying their troops “landed behind enemy lines” after which they took the Al-Hamdan airport and nearby village, which are located northwest of Al-Boukamal.

According to a statement issued Wednesday morning by the group, its fighters also seized “the Al-Husaybah area and border crossing [outside the town] as well and the southern southern desert and the whole eastern regions in the vicinity of Abu Kamal.”

The US-backed force further claimed that “sleeper cells of rebel clans in the Al-Boukamal countryside facilitated the advance of our troops.”

Reuters reports that the U.S. supported this attack in a way it usually ascribes to the Russians:

U.S.-led coalition jets fired missiles at the town's Aisha hospital used by Islamic State ..

We are waiting for Human Rights Watch's urgent condemnation of this outrageous war-crime ...

One assumes that such a large operation is well prepared with thought out fire-plans, good intelligence and extensive logistic support. Fresh, well trained troops with the best available equipment, and with surprise on their side, should have had no real trouble to prevail in such an attack.

But the whole operation failed terribly within just a few hours A total fiasco.

The Islamic State killed five "spies" in Al-Boukamal who were allegedly working for the New Syrian Army. It killed some 40 NSA troops during fighting and wounded some 15. It seized 6 brand new U.S. supplied trucks with miniguns and another 6 trucks with ammunition as well as satellite telephones. The rest of the New Syrian Army retreated to the defunct airbase they had started at and are waiting for exfiltration.

If this was a mission to resupply the Islamic State it indeed had some success. Otherwise it was another very embarrassing failure, not only for the New Syrian Army but of the professional militaries that trained and supported it.

One wonders what the highly paid U.S. military has been doing here. How can such an attack, with all advantages on the side of the U.S. proxies, fail? The British government orders its air force to bomb the Islamic State only when such "success" is need for some (inner-)political event. Is the U.S. way to "fight" similar? Is this intentional failure or sheer incompetence? Does the U.S. really want to fight the Islamic State? Or is this all just obfuscation?

Posted by b at 01:59 PM | Comments (55)

June 28, 2016

Blairites' Disdain For Labour Members Is One Reason For #Brexit Votes

TIMES POLL: Should Jeremy Corbyn resign?
Public: 49% Yes, 30% No
Labour voters: 54% No, 35% Yes
(YouGov/Times)
Lucy Fisher - 11:45 PM - 27 Jun 2016

---

Confirmed result from labour no confidence motion
172 for
40 against
4 spoilt ballots
13 didn't vote

Faisal Islam - 8:42 AM - 28 Jun 2016

One wonders how much money was paid and what threats were issued to push Labour MPs to vote against their successful and well regarded party leader.

All to no avail.

Corbyn will not give in to this coup attempt which has no legal basis at all. He demands a democratic vote by the party members:

I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today's vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

It is amazing that just the moment the Conservative Party breaks down over the aftermath of the #Brexit vote Labour "elites" decided to fight their party instead of attacking their confused opponents.

Do they not understand that the #Brexit vote is a consequence of exactly such fatuous behavior?

Behind this is of course Tony Blair and his gang who use extremely dirty media setups to frame Corbyn.

Blair fears the release of the Chilcott report about his lies that led to the British participation in the war of Iraq. In two weeks  that report will comes out and the Labour leader will speak about it in Parliament. If that leader is Corbyn he will apologize and damn Blair and the people around him. Those folks have now pulled out all stops. They would rather see Corbyn dead than publicly condemning them for their crimes.

I hope that Jermey Corbyn has good bodyguards.

Posted by b at 12:54 PM | Comments (80)

June 27, 2016

"Jordan Bad," Officials Tell NYT - Pressure For A New Southern Front Attack?

U.S. officials called up the New York Times. They requested to send two reporters to take down dictation. The reporters dutifully stenographed what they were told and copied it into some publishable format.

The main purpose of the story seems to be to blame the Jordan intelligence service that CIA supplied weapons for "Syrian rebels" are ending up in weapon markets and with the Islamic State.

But the officials are also giving a limited hangout, confirming some already known facts to obfuscate and hide others. The reporters never bother to explain that to their readers. They leave all major assertions unchallenged even while those contradict reports already in the public record. "Why confuse the reader with facts?" they might have thought.

Thus we now read that Jordanian intelligence people "stole" weapons the CIA intended to deliver to "moderate" Syrian rebels. Jordan intelligence "sold" those on the "black market". Unfortunately some of these weapons have recently been used against U.S. CIA contractors.

You see, the always bumbling empire and its incompetent CIA never-ever manage to do something right. They have all these good intentions but always make these stupid mistakes like losing arms that then somehow end up with the Islamic State and other Jihadis. Whatever the U.S. does, any negative consequences are -by definition- unplanned or done by some other bad actors.

That weapons for "moderate rebels" end up and are sold to by Jihadis, even on Facebook, was predictable from the get-go and has been known for a long time. It is not a Jordanian problem.

Other myth the piece tries to plant include:

  • the CIA only started to train Syrian rebels and to deliver weapon to them in 2013
  • the weapons all came from eastern Europe via some Gulf countries
  • those U.S. dependent Gulf countries were acting randomly and only since 2013 did the CIA, thankfully, take the lead and set things straight
  • the Jordan state lets the officers who systematically "stole" weapons keep their pensions and the profits from the deal because that's what that weird Jordan state does

There has been quite a bit of reporting that contradicts those fairy tales:

  • the international operations rooms to coordinate the Syrian rebels in Turkey and Jordan started in 2012
  • the CIA supervised smuggling of weapons from Libya to Syria in 2011/12
  • the Gulf countries depend in the U.S. for their intelligence and defense; they do not "go rogue" unnoticed and unchallenged unless it is in U.S. interests
  • no state, not even Jordan, will pamper officers who "stole" and sold weapons if these deeds were against orders and the interests of the state

An open question is why this story was created now. It provides some limited hangouts but its real purpose seems to be to plant the story "Jordan officer stole weapons that killed U.S. people" which makes Jordan look bad. The NYT report was written in collaboration with the Qatari outlet Al Jazeerah.

There are doubts in Jordan that continuing the war against Syria is in its interest. A vehicle used in a recent suicide bombing against a Jordanian border station was earlier officially given to "moderate" Syrian rebels. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Jordan can not expect anything good from a continuing war and wants to wind it down.

So was this story planted to put pressure on Jordan to again change its mind? Does it convey U.S. and Qatari pressure to renew a "Southern Front", which has been quiet for a while, and for a new rebel attack from Jordan against Damascus?

Don't bet on the NYT stenographers to answer such questions.

Posted by b at 08:16 AM | Comments (59)

June 26, 2016

Zika Virus Does Not Cause Birth Defects - Fighting It Probably Does

The media said that the mosquito borne Zika virus is likely causing microcephaly as well as dozens of other illnesses. They also claimed that insecticides were not related to the development disorder. They seem to have been wrong on both cases.

Since December 2015 U.S. media ran a panic campaign round the Zika virus. That virus was said to cause many bad things including microcephaly, a development distortion of the head  of unborn babies, if the mother was infected with Zika during pregnancy.

After looking into the issue and the available data I concluded that: The Zika Virus Is Harmless:

The virus is long known, harmless and the main current scare, that the virus damages unborn children, is based on uncorroborated and likely false information.
...
There is absolutely no sane reason for the scary headlines and the panic they cause.

The virus is harmless. It is possible, but seems for now very unlikely, that it affects some unborn children. There is absolutely no reason to be concerned about it.

As this is all well known or easy to find out why do the media create this sensation?

By March the media attributed all known human ills to Zika though every headline doing so included a telltale caveat may. I mocked these in Reading About Zika May Hurt Your Brain

[E]ven while Zika is known to be less harmful than an average flue, one headline after the other tries to create the impression that it is some really awful, new bug that may be responsible for about any ailment. That it may spread like wildfire and may have other terrible consequences. May, as in 'the sky may fall', is indeed the most operative word here.

There followed a collection of 35 recent "Zika may cause ..." headlines.

Meanwhile doctors in the Zika affected areas in Brazil pointed out that the real cause of somewhat increased microcephaly in the region was probably the insecticide pyriproxyfen, used to kill mosquito larvae in drinking water:

The Brazilian doctors noted that the areas of northeast Brazil that had witnessed the greatest number of microcephaly cases match with areas where pyriproxyfen is added to drinking water in an effort to combat Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Pyriproxyfen is reported to cause malformations in mosquito larvae, and has been added to drinking water in the region for the past 18 months.

Pyriproxyfen is produced by a Sumitomo Chemical - an important Japanese poison giant. It was therefore unsurprising that the New York Times and others called the doctors report a "conspiracy theory" and trotted out some "experts" to debunk it.

But facts are facts and as these come to the fore the embarrassed media will now likely stay silent.

The New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge just published a new study that falsifies the assumed link between Zika and microcephaly. Science Daily reports:

In Brazil, the microcephaly rate soared with more than 1,500 confirmed cases. But in Colombia, a recent study of nearly 12,000 pregnant women infected with Zika found zero microcephaly cases. If Zika is to blame for microcephaly, where are the missing cases? Perhaps there is another reason for the epidemic in Brazil.

Whocouldhaveknown?

Well, maybe those doctors on the ground in Brazil knew what they were talking about. The scientist at the New England Complex Systems Institute also researched the pyriproxyfen thesis. They found:

Pyriproxifen is an analog of juvenile hormone, which corresponds in mammals to regulatory molecules including retinoic acid, a vitamin A metabolite, with which it has cross-reactivity and whose application during development causes microcephaly.
...
[T]ests of pyriproxyfen by the manufacturer, Sumitomo, widely quoted as giving no evidence for developmental toxicity, actually found some evidence for such an effect, including low brain mass and arhinencephaly—incomplete formation of the anterior cerebral hemispheres—in rat pups. Finally, the pyriproxyfen use in Brazil is unprecedented—it has never before been applied to a water supply on such a scale.
...
Given this combination of information we strongly recommend that the use of pyriproxyfen in Brazil be suspended pending further investigation.

Sumitomo sold a poison in Brazil which was supposed to prevent the spread of mosquito borne Zika virus by hindering the development of mosquito larvae. Suddenly cases of the human development disorder microcephaly occurred. The company knew that their insecticide could cause birth defects in mammals. But they continued to blame the Zika virus which then increased demand for their poison to "prevent" the further spread of that false Zika cause.

Some enterprising lawyers might find enough material in this case to hold the company responsible for the suffering it probably caused for many families in Brazil.

But the media should also be held responsible. First for spreading a false panic and for attributing all kinds of nonsense to a harmless flue virus. They should also be held responsible for not diligently investigating the possibly human-effected cause of the development disorder. The one that now seems to turn out to be the real culprit.

Posted by b at 05:23 AM | Comments (45)

June 25, 2016

The Imminent Dodging Of Brexit - A Gift For The Fascist Right

We claimed that BREXIT - is not gonna happen and pointed to a propaganda campaign (see further examples in the comments there) launched to reverse the Brexit votes. Within that campaign two memes get pushed:

First, young voters feel cheated of their future because some old, grumpy people voted for Brexit. Well, these young voters of age 18 to 24, tearfully interviewed by the BBC and Channel 4, constitute only 5% of the electorate. Only a third of them voted at all, 70% of those 1/3 of 5% for "Remain". This is a small part, and a not very interested one, of the population. Who are they to deserve some special attendance?

The second meme pushed is the "success" of some petition for a #ReverseBrexit vote someone set up on the UK parliament website. It now has more than a million "signatures". That is a lot in a short time frame. But wait, any dog on the Internet can "sign" that petition provided it has some throw-away email address. I, a German in Germany, "signed" to test the procedure. It took me about 30 seconds.

This propaganda campaign will not have any tangible success, but it sets a certain atmosphere which then will be used to stall the exit process.

The EU exit mechanism is build in a way that allows for an endless postponement of the actual procedure. This is the way the British politicians will likely take. The Jack of Kent Blog explains how this works:

The UK did not [immediately] send to the EU the notification under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union which would have commenced the withdrawal process.

The Article 50 process is the only practical means by which the UK can leave the EU.
...
And so unless and until the Article 50 process is commenced and completed, the UK will stay as a member of the EU.

In short: no Article 50, no Brexit.
...
And it is entirely a matter for the Member State to choose whether to make the notification and, if so, when.

The UK immediately filing Article 50, as Cameron once promised, would trigger a two year long negotiation period with the EU which would end with the legal exit independent of the negotiation results. After filing Article 50 the clock would run down to the deadline likely without any serious concession from the EU. The UK has therefore an interest to negotiate before filing Article 50. To negotiate before filing is its only chance to apply some pressure.

But the EU has no reason, or legal basis, to negotiate at all before the UK files. Why should it make concessions to a divorce letter that was not filed and may not ever arrive?

It is a stalemate situation. The powers that are against Brexit will use this to blockade any move.

The six founding EU members claim to push Britain to file the Article 50 application immediately. But that is just playing to the gallery. In reality they want the never ending stalemate:

There is no desperate rush for Britain to trigger the process for it to leave the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, leaving London some space to work out its next move after a referendum vote to leave the bloc.

Despite the British voter decision for Brexit business as usual will continue with absolutely no change in sight:

Jack of Kent:

It is not impossible to imagine that the Article 50 notification will never be made, and that the possibility that it may one day be made will become another routine feature of UK politics – a sort of embedded threat which comes and goes out of focus. The notification will be made one day, politicians and pundits will say, but not yet.

And whilst it is not made, then other ways of solving the problem created by the referendum result may present themselves: another referendum, perhaps, so that UK voters can give the “correct” result, or a general election where EU membership is a manifesto issue, or some other thing.

This will not please Leave campaigners, and rightly so. It means the result of the referendum will be effectively ignored.

While this may be a convenient way forward for the EU bureaucrats and the politicians committed to neo-liberal globalization, the damage in the long run will be much more severe than a chaotic Brexit procedure.

Brexit will join a number of other issues on which the democratic will of the people has been ignored. This further de-legitimizes the EU and whatever it undertakes.

People who argue that a violent overthrow of the system is the only way forward will gain credibility.

The aborted Brexit will also give further impetus to the hard-rightwing parties currently cropping up in several European countries. These parties ostensibly cater to the "small people" who feel unrepresented and on the economic losing side. But the economic programs of these parties are anti-social and would only further inequality. They (ab-)use the grievance of the poor and middle class to gain even more power for the rich.

What is missing in Europe are leftwing parties that take the romantic longing for local nationalism - in opposition to bone-crushing globalization - seriously and merge it with socialist policies. The social-democrats once had that role but under Blair, Schroeder and Hollande they waft away into the anti-nationalism, neo-liberal globalization sphere. Nationalism has, for them, become a dirty word. This at the time as nationalism gains new popularity as the anchor for common people lost in the sea of neo-liberal arbitrariness.

The space left empty by them will be filled by fascism.

Posted by b at 10:32 AM | Comments (134)

June 24, 2016

The #ReverseBrexit Campaign Has Begun

The British people voted to exit the EU.

But, as I said, Brexit ain't gonna happen

.. the powers that are will not allow Britain to exit the European Union.

Immediately after the result was announced the campaign for a "revote", which would give the voters the chance to correct their wrong views, began. Here is a glimpse. First a BBC editor:

Louisa Compton @louisa_compton

With leave voters in Manchester for BBCNews -most told us they woke up thinking "what have I done?" & didn't actually expect the uk to leave

Retweets 2,209 Likes 882

2:52 AM - 24 Jun 2016

"See, the people did not really mean it," says the official mouthpiece of the ruling powers.

"Most told us," is of course always fine to manipulate opinions. But "most" of what?

Here is another obvious spin:

The Independent @Independent

So many people are signing the petition for a second #EUref the government site has crashed -> Brexit: Petition for second EU referendum so popular the government site's crashing

Retweets 1,589 Likes 610

1:00 AM - 24 Jun 2016

That Independent tweet did wonders. The petition site was suddenly so "crashed" and "inaccessible" that only 15,710 people signed on within just the last hour.

So The Independent had a bad web connection? Or was it the point of the tweet and article to drive the people to the well accessible site?

And what please is the democratic legitimization of some ad-hoc petition with 100,000 signatories, many possibly by artificial entities, when millions just decided deliberately and consciously after an exhausting discussion of the question?

The powers that are on both sides of the Atlantic will use all means to reverse the decision of the British people. Or to make it irrelevant. The high-powered, opinion leading media tweets above are just the start of the #ReverseBrexit campaign. It will intensify and blare through all channels.

It will require diligence and hard work by the majority that voted for Brexit to see their will fulfilled.

Posted by b at 08:05 AM | Comments (133)

June 23, 2016

BREXIT - Not Gonna Happen

No matter how the Brexit vote will go, the powers that are will not allow Britain to exit the European Union.

 

pic via Aenea Endymion

That's all.

Posted by b at 04:30 AM | Comments (121)

Dems Stage Unflattering Stunt While Trump Spreads The Popular Message

With elections upcoming this fall, the Democrats under Obama decided that reducing their potential might be a good way forward. Ignoring all democratic rules and procedures they initiated a childish stunt to press for legislation that is generally unpopular and loathed by liberals and progressive:

A sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives by Democratic members halted legislative action for nearly 11 hours Wednesday and appeared likely to continue into Thursday [..]

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., reconvened the House after 10 p.m. for a vote on an unrelated issue, but while the vote went forward, chaos reigned, with Democrats chanting in the well of the House in a demonstration unprecedented in modern times.
...
The Democrats seemed almost giddy with their revolt, singing “We Shall Overcome” and relishing their ability to bring proceedings to a halt.

At issue are more gun purchase restrictions. A few days after a mass murderer killed 50 people in Orlando with a semi-automatic gun, weapons purchase rules are again of public interest. To take this up may be good politics and makes general sense.

Semiautomatic weapons, like the military derived AR-15 used in Orlando, should be put under the National Rifle Act of 1934 just like other high powered weapons. That laws has clear rules on who can purchase, transfer and use machine guns or  destructive (military) devices. It requires a rather bothersome, lengthy registration of guns and their owners which is fine if one wants to keep such weapons out of the hands of spontaneous, emotionally-driven murderers.

But the Democrats did not want to make sense. They wanted to create a ruckus and decided to go for measures that even their own electorate is likely to reject:

Ms. Pelosi said her caucus was seeking votes on measures similar to two Democratic proposals that failed to advance in the Senate.

One of those sought to ban gun sales to people on the government’s terrorism watch list, while the second would expand and toughen background checks for gun buyers. Those two measures were defeated on Monday in the Senate, along with two Republican alternatives.

The government's terrorist watch lists and no-fly lists are arbitrary and of dubious value. Some 1,500,000 people are at least on one of these lists. At times even toddlers and Senators made the cut. Of the recently active "terrorists" in the U.S. some were on one of those list but could fly and proceed anyway. Others were, like the shooter in Orlando, not on any of them. These lists, and the (secret) criteria to be put on or taken down from them, do not make sense.

The Democrats should have killed the whole arbitrary list system long ago. At least one court found these to be unconstitutional. Instead they now demand to further replace due process with more arbitrary executive decisions within ill defined categories.

If the "terrorists" on those lists are so dangerous why allow them to have driver licenses? Could they not use cars to kill? Why not lock them up without further trial? The potential extensions are endless.

The stunt will probably end in a political disaster for Democratic candidates. If one wants to play the populist card one needs to take up popular issue. Bending to ever expansive demands of the executive, here President Obama, is not one of these.

Donald Trump's speech (transcript) on the stakes of the election made good points on globalization and trade. It was also full of lies and obfuscations. But that will, as the primaries have shown, not diminish his central message nor hurt him within his potential electorate. He hits the right buttons with a lot of people:

Our country lost its way when we stopped putting the American people first.

We got here because we switched from a policy of Americanism – focusing on what’s good for America’s middle class – to a policy of globalism, focusing on how to make money for large corporations who can move their wealth and workers to foreign countries all to the detriment of the American worker and the American economy.

We reward companies for offshoring, and we punish companies for doing business in America and keeping our workers employed.

This is not a rising tide that lifts all boats.

This is a wave of globalization that wipes out our middle class and our jobs.

Those words will ring with many people.

Trump now needs money for the general election. He sold out to hard-line Zionist donors. Within an otherwise isolationist foreign policy view he claimed that "Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Iran is now [...] on the road to nuclear weapons." Neither was Clinton much involved in the nuclear agreement with Iran, nor is Iran on such a road. But Trump will rake in millions from Adelson and other arch-Zionists for making these claims.

His anti-globalization shtick will sell well in fly-over country and with marginalized workers. My hunch is that the media, overwhelmingly in Clinton's favor, will underestimate his pull until the day he wins the election.

Posted by b at 04:06 AM | Comments (37)

June 22, 2016

Open Thread 2016-22

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:23 PM | Comments (142)

June 21, 2016

"Dramatic Rescue! Man With Kid Runs Towards Camera!" - 44 Staged Pictures

 

A man with a kid in arm runs towards the camera. The kid's face is heavily colored, but it looks otherwise fine. On the lower left we see the back of a man with a "White Helmets" logo on his vest. Dust in the background. Always dust or smoke. A bunch of men looking very busy. But are they actually doing anything?

That would be a lucky by-chance photo shot for any normal photographer. Even in country where rubble from a fresh bombing may be around some near corner.

I have done, years ago, press photography for a living. Real accidents or bombings look way more bloody than any of these pictures. And that read color in the girls face is anything but blood.

The photo above is a typical "White Helmets rescue kid" propaganda picture. Except for maybe the old rubble, it is likely completely staged.

There the 43 similar pictures below the fold to demonstrate that. Just ask yourself this: Could these allegedly "by-chance" pictures, taken within a year, really be all as alike as they are if they were all taken at real incidents? Really?

Cont. reading: "Dramatic Rescue! Man With Kid Runs Towards Camera!" - 44 Staged Pictures

Posted by b at 03:57 PM | Comments (65)

June 20, 2016

An Eyewitness Tells How The U.S. Ambassador Instigated "Revolution" In Syria

S. Rifai, also known as @THE_47th, is a Syrian "activist" from Homs. He was involved since early 2011 when the U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford  (@fordrs58) fomented the "revolution" in Syria. He has since tweeted about the "revolution" and has shown lots of insider knowledge. Below S. Rifai corrects the U.S. propaganda record.

The former ambassador Ford allegedly had a hand in last weeks "dissident" letter by some State Department employees. The letter urges launching an open U.S. war against Syria and its government. Ford was recently interviewed about the letter for an exculpatory piece in the New Yorker.

In the New Yorker interview Ford asserted:

We all learned from Iraq that regime change is not the way to bring about positive political change. In the case of civil war, there needs to be negotiation between the opposition and the government. The question is how you increase the likelihood that it will succeed. And ever since Secretary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov concluded the communiqué, in June, 2012, Administration policy has failed to create the conditions necessary to succeed.

Quoting the above S. Rifai responded to former ambassador Ford's assertions (emphasis added, edited to expand Twitter shorthand):

Cont. reading: An Eyewitness Tells How The U.S. Ambassador Instigated "Revolution" In Syria

Posted by b at 09:39 AM | Comments (91)

 
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