Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
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.


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 (79)

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
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.


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 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)

June 18, 2016

Syria - Russian Surprise Attack Blows Up Kerry's Delaying Tactic

The U.S. is unwilling to stop the war on Syria and to settle the case at the negotiation table. It wants a 100% of its demands fulfilled, the dissolution of the Syrian government and state and the inauguration of a U.S. proxy administration in Syria.

After the ceasefire in Syria started in late February Obama broke his pledge to separate the U.S. supported "moderate rebels" from al-Qaeda. In April U.S. supported rebels, the Taliban like Ahrar al Sham and al-Qaeda joined to attack the Syrian government in south Aleppo. The U.S.proxies broke the ceasefire.

Two UN resolutions demand that al-Qaeda in Syria be fought no matter what. But the U.S. has at least twice asked Russia not to bomb al-Qaeda. It insists, falsely, that it can not separate its "moderates" from al-Qaeda and that al-Qaeda can not be attacked because that would also hit its "moderate" friends.

The Russian foreign minster Lavrov has talked wit Kerry many times about the issue. But the only response he received were requests to further withhold bombing. Meanwhile al-Qaeda and the "moderates" continued to break the ceasefire and to attack the Syrian government forces.

After nearly four month Kerry still insists that the U.S. needs even more time for the requested separation of its proxy forces from al-Qaeda. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently expressed the Russian consternation:

The Americans are now saying that they are unable to remove the 'good' opposition members from the positions held by al-Nusra Front, and that they will need another two-three months. I am under the impression that there is a game here and they may want to keep al-Nusra Front in some form and later use it to overthrow the [Assad] regime," Lavrov said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The bucket was full and Kerry's latest request for another three month pause of attacking al-Qaeda was the drop that let it overflow. Russia now responded by hitting the U.S. where it did not expect to be hit:

Russian warplanes hit Pentagon-backed Syrian fighters with a barrage of airstrikes earlier this week, disregarding several warnings from U.S. commanders in what American military officials called the most provocative act since Moscow’s air campaign in Syria began last year.

The strikes hit a base near the Jordanian border, far from areas where the Russians were previously active, and targeted U.S.-backed forces battling the Islamic State militants.
These latest strikes occurred on the other side of the country from the usual Russian operations, around Tanf, a town near where the borders of Jordan, Iraq, and Syria meet.
The Russian strike hit a small rebel base for staging forces and equipment in a desolate, unpopulated area near the border. About 180 rebels were there as part of the Pentagon's program to train and equip fighters against Islamic State.

When the first strikes hit, the rebels called a U.S. command center in Qatar, where the Pentagon orchestrates the daily air war against Islamic State.

U.S. jets came and the Russian jets went away. The U.S. jets left to refuel, the Russian jets came back and hit again. Allegedly two U.S. proxy fighters were killed and 18 were wounded.

Earlier today another such attack hit the same target.

This was no accident but a well planned operation and the Russian spokesperson's response makes the intend clear:

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to confirm the attack Friday, telling reporters it was difficult to distinguish different rebel groups from the air.

Translation: "If you can not separate your forces from al-Qaeda and differentiate and designate exclusively "moderate" zones we can not do so either."

The forces near Tanf are supported by U.S. artillery from Jordan and air power via Iraq. British and Jordan special operations forces are part of the ground component (and probably the majority of the "Syrian" fighters.) There is no al-Qaeda there. The Russians know that well. But they wanted to make the point that it is either separation everywhere or separation nowhere. From now on until the U.S. clearly separates them from AQ all U.S. supported forces will be hit indiscriminately anywhere and anytime. (The Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State with U.S. support are for now a different story.)

The Pentagon does not want any further engagement against the Syrian government or against Russia. It wants to fight the Islamic State and its hates the CIA for its cooperation with al-Qaeda and other Jihadi elements. But John Brennan, the Saudi operative and head of the CIA, still seems to have Obama's ear. But what can Obama do now? Shoot down a Russian jet and thereby endanger any U.S. pilot flying in Syria or near the Russian border? Risk a war with Russia? Really?

The Russian hit near Tanf was clearly a surprise. The Russians again caught Washington on the wrong foot. The message to the Obama administration is clear. "No more delays and obfuscations. You will separate your moderates NOW or all your assets in Syria will be juicy targets for the Russian air force."

The Russian hits at Tanf and the U.S. proxies there has an additional benefit. The U.S. had planned to let those forces move north towards Deir Ezzor and to defeat the Islamic State in that city. Eventually a "Sunni entity" would be established in south east Syria and west Iraq under U.S. control. Syria would be split apart.

The Syrian government and its allies will not allow that. There is a large operation planned to free Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State occupation. Several hundred Syrian government forces have held an isolated airport in Deir Ezzor against many unsuccessful Islamic State attacks. These troops get currently reinforced by additional Syrian army contingents and Hizbullah commandos.A big battle is coming. Deir Ezzor may be freed within the next few month. Any U.S. plans for some eastern Syrian entity are completely unrealistic if the Syrian government can take and hold its largest eastern city.

The Obama administration's delaying tactic will now have to end. Russia will no longer stand back and watch while the U.S. sabotages the ceasefire and supports al-Qaeda. 

What then is the next move the U.S. will make?

Posted by b at 11:15 AM | Comments (160)

June 17, 2016

Know-Nothing "Diplomats" Prepare For Hillary's War On Syria

There are at least 51 stupid or dishonest "diplomats" working in the U.S. State Department. Also - Mark Lander is a stupid or dishonest NYT writer. The result is this piece: Dozens of U.S. Diplomats, in Memo, Urge Strikes Against Syria’s Assad

WASHINGTON — More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

Note that it was Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and other U.S. paid and supported "moderates" who on April 9 broke the ceasefire in Syria by attacking government troops south of Aleppo. They have since continuously bombarded the government held parts of Aleppo which house over 1.5 million civilians with improvised artillery.

Back to the piece:

The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times by a State Department official, says American policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”
The names on the memo are almost all midlevel officials — many of them career diplomats — who have been involved in the administration’s Syria policy over the last five years, at home or abroad. They range from a Syria desk officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to a former deputy to the American ambassador in Damascus.

While there are no widely recognized names, higher-level State Department officials are known to share their concerns. Mr. Kerry himself has pushed for stronger American action against Syria, in part to force a diplomatic solution on Mr. Assad.
The State Department officials insisted in their memo that they were not “advocating for a slippery slope that ends in a military confrontation with Russia,” but rather a credible threat of military action to keep Mr. Assad in line.

These State Department loons have their ass covered by Secretary of State Kerry. Otherwise they would (and should) be fired for obvious ignorance. What "judicious" military threat against Russian S-400 air defense in Syria is credible? Nukes on Moscow (and New York)?

In the memo, the State Department officials argued that military action against Mr. Assad would help the fight against the Islamic State because it would bolster moderate Sunnis, who are necessary allies against the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Would these "diplomats" be able to name even one group of "moderate Sunnis" in Syria that is not on the side of the Syrian government? Are Ahrar al-Sahm and the other U.S. supported groups, who recently killed 50 civilians out of purely sectarian motives when they stormed the town of Zara, such "moderate Sunnis"?

These 50 State Department non-diplomats, and the stinking fish head above them, have obviously failed in their duty:

  • "Diplomats" urging military action do nothing but confirm that they do not know their job which is diplomacy, not bombing. They failed.
  • These "diplomats" do not know or do not want to follow international law. On what legal basis would the U.S. bomb the Syrian government and its people? They do not name any. There is none.
  • To what purpose would the Syrian government and the millions of its followers be bombed? Who but al-Qaeda would follow if the Assad-led government falls? The "diplomats" ignore that obvious question.

The NYT writer of the piece on the memo demonstrates that he is just as stupid or dishonest as the State Department dupes by adding this paragraph:

[T]he memo mainly confirms what has been clear for some time: The State Department’s rank and file have chafed at the White House’s refusal to be drawn into the conflict in Syria.

How is spending over $1 billion a year to hire, train, arm and support "moderate rebels" against the Syrian government consistent with the claim of a U.S. "refusal to be drawn into the conflict"?

It is obvious and widely documented that the U.S. has been fueling the conflict from the very beginning throughout five years and continues up to today to deliver thousands of tons of weapons to the "moderate rebels".

All the above, the "diplomats" letter and the NYT writer lying, is in preparation of an open U.S. war on Syria under a possible president Hillary Clinton. (Jo Cox, the "humanitarian" British MP who was murdered yesterday by some neo-nazi, spoke in support of such a crime.)

The U.S. military continues to reject an escalation against the Syrian government. Its reasonable question "what follows after Assad" has never been seriously answered by the war supporters in the CIA and the State Department.

Unexpected support of the U.S. military's position now seems to come from the Turkish side. The Erdogan regime finally acknowledges that a Syria under Assad is more convenient to it than a Kurdish state in north-Syria which the U.S. is currently helping to establish:

"Assad is, at the end of the day, a killer. He is torturing his own people. We're not going to change our stance on that," a senior official from the ruling AK Party told Reuters, requesting anonymity so as to speak more freely.

"But he does not support Kurdish autonomy. We may not like each other, but on that we're backing the same policy," he said.

Ankara fears that territorial gains by Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria will fuel an insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an armed struggle in Turkey's southeast for three decades.

The Turks have suddenly removed their support for their "Turkmen" proxies fighting the Syrian government in Latakia in north west Syria. Over the last few days the "Turkmen" retreated and the Syrian army advanced. It may soon reach the Turkish border. Should the Latakia front calm down the Syrian army will be able to move several thousand troops from Latakia towards other critical sectors. The Turkish government, under the new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, is now also sending peace signals towards Russia.

The situation in Syria could rapidly change in favor of the Syrian government should Turkey change its bifurcating policies and continue these moves. Without their Turkish bases and support the "moderate rebels" would soon be out of supplies and would lack the ability to continue their fighting. The Russians and their allies should further emphasize the "Kurdish threat" to advance this  Turkish change of mind.

The race to preempt a Hillary administration war on Syria, which the "diplomats" memo prepares for, is now on. May the not-warmongering side win.

Posted by b at 01:14 AM | Comments (126)

June 16, 2016

The Next "Russian Government Cyber Attack" May Be A Gulf of Tonkin Fake

Yesterday the Washington Post published a piece that smelled of bullshit from the first line to the last:

Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump.

Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.
The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.
Some of the hackers had access to the DNC network for about a year, but all were expelled over the past weekend in a major computer cleanup campaign, the committee officials and experts said.

Why the f*** would Russia want to steal oppo research about Trump when it can read such in Politico and the Washington Post every day? Why start A YEAR AGO to hack something for Trump data? Who would have thought A YEAR AGO that Trump would be relevant? This was obvious nonsense. But some snakeoil salesmen convinced the Washington Post know-nothing reporter and the DNC that it all must be true:

The DNC said that no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken, suggesting that the breach was traditional espionage, not the work of criminal hackers.

If there was a hacker breaking some servers for over a year how the hell would anyone know what s/he accessed? There is no assured way to know what files were touched. And to conclude from what was probably taken to "must thereby have been Russia" is plainly stupid.

“It’s the job of every foreign intelligence service to collect intelligence against their adversaries,” said Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike, the cyber firm called in to handle the DNC breach and a former head of the FBI’s cyber division. He noted that it is extremely difficult for a civilian organization to protect itself from a skilled and determined state such as Russia.
The firm identified two separate hacker groups, both working for the Russian government, that had infiltrated the network, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer. The firm had analyzed other breaches by both groups over the past two years.

All one might see in a breach, if anything, is some pattern of action that may seem typical for one adversary. But anyone else can imitate such a pattern as soon as it is known. That is why there is NEVER a clear attribution in such cases. Anyone claiming otherwise is lying or has no idea what s/he is speaking of.

Russia denied to have anything to do with that alleged hack. That did not prevent the Washington Post to come with a listical about Five more hacks the West has tied to Russia none of which is likely to have any Russian origin.

Trump for one claims that the DNC "hacked" itself to be able to publish their claims against him.

But now for the fun. A hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 just published a blogpost with documents from the hack of the DNC server.

Worldwide known cyber security company CrowdStrike announced that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers had been hacked by “sophisticated” hacker groups.

I’m very pleased the company appreciated my skills so highly))) But in fact, it was easy, very easy.

Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton’s and other Democrats’ mail servers. But he certainly wasn’t the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC’s servers.

Shame on CrowdStrike: Do you think I’ve been in the DNC’s networks for almost a year and saved only 2 documents? Do you really believe it?

Here are just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC’s network.

Not astonishingly the published documents include those with "financial, donor or personal information" which the DNC unconvincingly claimed had not be accessed. Guccifer 2.0 writes that most of the documents will soon be published via Wikileaks.

The whole story in the Washington Post was a anti-Russia nonsense based on self-promotion of an obviously incompetent cyber security company.

But it is dangerous.

I am afraid that such propaganda will one day be used as another Gulf of Tonkin fake to start a war. NATO is already preparing the public for such a move:

NATO may react to future cyber attacks by deploying conventional weapons, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview published by Germany's Bild newspaper on Thursday.

"A severe cyber attack may be classified as a case for the alliance. Then NATO can and must react," the newspaper quoted Stoltenberg as saying. "How, that will depend on the severity of the attack."

One wonders if the Washington Post scaremongering about alleged Russian cyber abilities was coordinated with that NATO announcement.

To even think of such conventional retribution for a cyber attack is lunatic. No cyber attack is ever attributable with any certainty. The U.S. National Security Agency, as well as other state sponsored entities, would have no trouble to fake a "Russian cyber attack". If one lone hacker in the U.S., where Guccifer 2.0 seems to reside, can do such how much more convincing would any intentional, government sponsored fake be?

Posted by b at 04:03 AM | Comments (107)

June 14, 2016

Open Thread 2016-21

News & views (other than on the U.S. election) ...

Posted by b at 12:56 PM | Comments (161)

June 13, 2016

A Few More Questions About The Orlando Massacre

Some additional bits about the NYPD fan who allegedly killed some 50 people in Orlando are coming to light.

The father of the guy who is an immigrant from Afghanistan was a bit of a loon himself. He damned Pakistan and Afghan politicians over the Durand line. He put himself forward as a candidate for the Afghan presidency even when no election was in sight.

His son, the killer, was known to the FBI as a loon. He hated black, gays, Jews etc and had claimed affinity to the Boston bomber, Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah and the Islamic State - three groups which hate each other. He was not known to have any contact to any of these groups.

The Islamic State took the obvious step of adopting the shooter. The claim of IS responsibility did not come from the core organization but from its "news" agency which cited "sources". The IS folks are unlikely to have known of his existence until they heard the news. For them it is just good propaganda to claim a relation.

The various politicians use the case as they use any case. They propagandize their favorite policies and whatever facts of the case do not fit those policies are simply shoved aside. One can only ignore them and hope that over time sanity will prevail.

There are open questions I have yet to find answered:

Any big event in these days produces dozens of videos. Some people inside the club must have filmed whatever happened. Will we ever see those clips?

How does one guy in a club full of men manages to shoot 50+ and wound another 50+ without getting overwhelmed? He needed to change ammunition clips several times. The ideal time to attack him. Where there no three strong guys around in the club to jump him?

Was it really only one shooter? Those are a lot of casualties for one sole loon to cause.

It will take weeks until a more or less solid picture of the incident can be painted. There will of course be lots of speculations about false flag attacks and the like, including here in the comments. I do not see any evidence for such. The FBI had him on its radar?

Well, there are some 600,000 people on the U.S. no-fly-list. Hardly any of them is a "terrorists". The FBI has even more under on and off surveillance. Its haystack is too big to find the real needles. They thought he as a loon and not a danger. They were right with the loon part.

Posted by b at 02:20 PM | Comments (135)

June 12, 2016

Orlando Killer Was NYPD Fan - This Tells Us What?

Last night some deadbeat loser killed more than 50 people in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. It is the largest shooting massacre in the U.S. since Wounded Knee. According to his ex-wife the man, one Omar Mateen, used to beat her and was not religious. He had worked for the private prison and mercenary corporation G4S for more than five years. There were U.S. Marines stickers on his car.

Earlier Mateen took pictures of himself and posted those on Myspace. The pics are selfies and mostly not remarkable but in TWO of them he wears shirts with New York Police Department emblems on them.

(pictures flipped for better readability)

This tells us what?

  • The guy was a follower of the NYPD?
  • He had pledged allegiance to the NYPD?
  • G4S or the NYPD radicalized him and taught him to hate gays?

There is currently a lot of speculation, but no public evidence, that the guy was also a fan of the Islamic State (ISIS) death cult. None of the pictures he posted points into that direction, but it still may be the case.

But what does that really tell us?

Was his emotional relation to ISIS as strong as his emotional relation to the NYPD?

Do such assumed allegiances tell us anything at all?

Posted by b at 01:18 PM | Comments (139)

June 11, 2016

Clashes In Marseille Foreshadow Wider Sectarian War

Marseille - Clashes between sectarian supporters of two opposed participants in an ancient ritual games erupted today. Observers fear that these could escalate into a wide sectarian war throughout Europe. Local militia intervened but as their own religion is despised by the two brawling sides ended up fighting both. The street fights started after organized supporters of the orthodox Russian team threw beer bottles towards drunk partisans of protestant Englishmen. Throwing beer bottles is seen as an insult in Europe. Catholic French militia used tear gas and indiscriminately attacked the quarreling sides as well as bystanders. Locals accuse the militia of attacking its own people and demanded the immediate downfall of the Hollande regime.

Protestant Englishmen, catholic Frenchmen and orthodox Slavs hate each other due to deep-rooted sectarian history and a long series of wars in Europe. Ugly violence is rooted in conflicts that date back to the Anglo-French wars in the 13th century and Napoleon's moves deep into Russia. A siege in 1627 marked the apex of local sectarian tensions in France. It ended with a catholic victory despite relief for the protestants arriving from England. The clashes between U.S.-backed Englishmen and Chinese-backed Russians in France are also part of a proxy war between capitalism and communism in the South China Sea.

After its militia lost control of the fighting, the catholic government of France pledged to send reinforcements to crack down on all sides. Humanitarian organizations pleaded to show restraint and not to hurt moderates involved in the brawls. Regional experts discussed providing arms to some less sectarian participants. Catholic authorities from Poland called on NATO to hold Putin accountable for the clashes in Marseille. Russian aggression versus any NATO members can not be tolerated, they said.

h/t Hayder al-Khoei

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (87)

June 10, 2016

The U.S. (Again) Escalates The War In Afghanistan

When Obama came into office he promised to end the hopeless war in Afghanistan. Immediately the Pentagon ambushed him with requests for a "surge" with some additional 40,000 troops. Under pressure Obama agreed to a lower number and set a 18 month limit for their deployment. Those troops occupied some meaningless areas in Afghanistan and when they were withdrawn those areas fell back to Taliban rule. Currently the U.S. has some 10,000 troops and more than 20,000 "contractors" in Afghanistan. There are additional troops from NATO allies. Since 2014 these troops are restricted in their tasks to fighting Al-Qaeda and are not supposed to support Afghan government troops.

But the idea of turning the war over to local troops without losing to the Taliban failed. Afghan troops are giving ground especially in the south and have a high attrition rate. It is obviously that without change the whole south would fall to the Taliban by end of the year. This would hardly matter to anyone but the people living there many of whom have no problem with their Taliban brethren.

Several steps taken by the U.S. have made it more unlikely that the conflict will come to an end. The primary Taliban demand in any peace talks is the the removal of all foreign troops from the country. The U.S. and the U.S. installed puppet government have rejected that. Instead of finally giving up the U.S. military wants to continue to occupy Afghanistan. The U.S. recently killed a innocent taxi driver in south Pakistan and his passenger, the Taliban commander Mansour, with a military drone strike. All available science on the issue says that assassinating the leader of a resistance movement does not end such movements but let them intensify their conflict and cause more civilian casualties. The Taliban operations did not halt for one moment. A new hardline leader was elected and bigger operations against Afghan troops were launched.

In a recent political change of direction the U.S. is now making nice with India to use it as a pawn in the competition with China. At the same time it stopped payments to the Pakistani military. In a countermove China intensified its cooperation and its investment in Pakistan. The Taliban have their training camps, leadership organization and support in Pakistan. The Pakistani secret services are feeding them with Saudi money. Shunning Pakistan and making nice with India will intensify Pakistani paranoia of a two front war against their arch enemy India supported by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Pakistan is therefore likely to further intensify its support for the Taliban. These have an endless stream of recruits from Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and enough material support to fight on for decades. Meanwhile the Afghan government troops are unwilling to shed blood for their corrupt government, operational incapable and disorganized despite years of U.S. training.

The only way to end the war in Afghanistan is through peace negotiations. Some main conditions of the Taliban must be met to let those succeed. Foreign troops will have to leave the country. Otherwise the conflict will go on for more decades and will again metastasize into neighbor countries.

The Obama administration seems to be incapable of recognizing that. Instead of reducing troops it is contemplating to again reinforce those. Instead of deescalating the war it intensifies it. This despite years of failure to achieve anything positive with similar moves.

After months of debate, the U.S. is close to a decision to expand the military's authority to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban as the violence in Afghanistan escalates, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.

There is a broad desire across the Obama administration to give the military greater ability to help the Afghans fight and win the war. The official said the U.S. is likely to expand the authority of U.S. commanders to strike the Taliban and do whatever else is necessary with the forces they have to support the Afghan operations.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, asked Thursday whether the administration was looking at expanding the U.S. military's authorities to strike the Taliban more broadly, said: "In every step of our review of Afghanistan, the question of what's the best way to use our forces is something we're constantly looking at. It's also in the same sense that we're looking at the number of troops. We are always looking at the authorities question and the best use of our troops."

This "new" policy is incoherent:

The official said U.S. forces will also be able to provide close air support to Afghan ground forces and accompany and advise them on the ground.

The plan does not involve U.S. ground troops.

More bombing will not cower the Taliban who have been bombed by the U.S. for the last 15 years. More U.S. troops will not change the strategic equations for China, Pakistan and the Taliban.

The U.S. and the especially the U.S. military have lost in Afghanistan. How many additional decades will it take it to recognize and admit that simple fact?

Posted by b at 01:13 PM | Comments (79)

June 09, 2016

Libya - How Moscow Can Influence A Unity Deal

by Richard Galustian

Russia’s growing influence in Libya is reflecting their ever evolving new Middle East and North African policy.

While Libya has been divided between two parliaments and governments since 2014, Russia’s influence has grown with East Libya.

A review of the United Nations resolution on Libya’s arms embargo is likely to be voted upon early next week. However this will only be achieved if Russian concerns can be overcome.

Despite the international efforts a paradox remains. A partial lifting of the UN's arms embargo to one side will greatly increase the danger of swelling the intensity of the civil war and of risking some of those arms reaching the Islamic State in Libya.

The Russians do not understand the West's approach to extremists. Russia's logic is sound as shown in Syria. If it looks like a duck and walks and quacks like a duck; it probably is a duck, to paraphrase Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavarov comment on terrorists.

In Libya the two divided factions, the democratically elected eastern government and parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), and the 'Libya Dawn' coalition of Islamist militias who created Tripoli's National Salvation Government (NSG), are now challenged by a third 'virtual' faction, the Government of National Accord (GNA) which was selected by the UN as a nine men, now reduced to seven, Presidency Council (PC), which in effect constitutes a GNA quorum.

Let me be clear: The international community supports a non-existent GNA headed by a Western patsy designated prime minister and six other men. To boot, this fledgling Western selected so called government still faces huge unpopularity from the masses who resent Western interference in its internal affairs.

The GNA, having no military forces of their own, have agreed with Dawn Militias that they be re-badged 'the Presidential Guard' and that they be the recipients of new weapons permitted by the UN if the resolution is accepted by the Security Council.

Interestingly Russia's UN Ambassador Churkin said "the highest priority" in Libya should be to encourage the HoR Parliament in the East approval of the new GNA government. A new twist. If anyone can persuade the East and the HoR to 'bless' the GNA, it will be the Russians that will be the broker.

Cont. reading: Libya - How Moscow Can Influence A Unity Deal

Posted by b at 03:08 AM | Comments (41)

June 08, 2016

U.S. Election Thread 2016-04 - Premature Presumptive

The Associated Press yesterday declared Hillary Clinton to be the "presumptive" Democratic nominee for the presidential election based on alleged pledges of anonymous super-delegates.

This was a quite unprecedented interference in still ongoing and upcoming primaries on a day when no new public vote count was available.

Bernie Sanders said he will continue to campaign up to the convention. His hope is that either the FBI will indict Hillary Clinton for using an unsecured private email server for classified state business, or that some other Clinton scandal will make it most likely that she would lose a vote against Trump. In both cases some super-delegates may change their vote and the convention might vote for Sanders as nominee.

The FBI is under Obama's control and there no doubt that he wants Clinton as candidate to continue his right-leaning policies. But the FBI tends to be leaking quite a bit and someone with access to the case may want to speak to some enterprising reporters.

Sanders requested a meeting with Obama which will happen on Thursday. Obama will offer him a bad deal which would be akin to a total capitulation. Sanders will look for a way to sneak at least some of his preferred policies into the party agenda. He will demand some significant price for endorsing Clinton and will probably wait to do so up to the last minute.

People around the world will wonder what democracy is all about when a race for a presidency ends up as a contest between the two most disliked people in the field who are both proxies for the more or less same small social segment.

The "Not Hillary" voices will not die down. A seemingly racist Trump with otherwise unpredictable policies may be less damaging to the world than an unreconstructed neolibcon Clinton.

Posted by b at 01:44 AM | Comments (111)

June 06, 2016

The Greatest - RIP

Why should me and other so-called negro go 10,000 miles from home here in America to drop bombs and bullets on other innocent brown people who never bothered us? And I will say directly: "No, I will not go."
Muhammad Ali - I Ain't Got No Quarrel With Them Viet Congs (vid)


"My conscious won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, raped and killed my mother and father. Well, shoot them for what? I am not gonna shoot them. They are little poor black people, little babies and children, women. ... Why don't you just take me to jail."
Muhammad Ali on the Vietnam War (vid)


“[T]he United States is the stronghold of Zionism and imperialism.”
"In my name and the name of all Muslims in America, I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders."
Ali Belts Zionism


During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes have visited relentless persecution on them and received their teaching with the most savage hostility, the most furious hatred, the most ruthless campaign of lies and slanders. After their death, attempts are made to turn them into harmless icons, canonize them, and surround their names with a certain halo for the "consolation" of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping them, while at the same time emasculating and vulgarizing the real essence of their revolutionary theories and blunting their revolutionary edge.
Lenin, State and Revolution, Chap.1. - 1917 via Louis Allday

Confirming Lenin: Bill Clinton among those to give eulogies at service for Muhammad Ali

Posted by b at 09:14 AM | Comments (68)

June 04, 2016

Syria: The U.S. Is Unwilling To Settle - Russia Returns For Another Round

The Obama administration does not want peace in Syria. The Russians finally have to admit to themselves that the U.S. is no partner for a continuation of a cease fire, a coordinated attack against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda and for peace in Syria. Indeed, as Lavrov explains, the U.S. has again asked to spare al-Qaeda from Russian air strikes even as two UN Security Council resolutions demand its eradication. Huge supply convoys (vid) from Turkey are again going to the "rebels" who will, as always, share them with al-Qaeda and other terrorists.

The current renewed Syrian Arab Army attack towards Raqqa is being obstructed not only by sandstorms but also by a timely attack of al-Qaeda, Ahrar al Sham and Turkestan Islamist Party forces against government positions in the south Aleppo countryside.

More than 1,000 militants have begun an offensive against Syrian army positions southwest of Aleppo, the Russian ceasefire monitoring center in Syria said in a statement on Saturday.

The center also reported civilians in Aleppo as saying armed groups partly made up of Turkish soldiers had appeared north of the city.

The exactly same scheme happened in March and April when a move towards eastern Syrian by the Syrian army had to be stopped to prevent further losses against al-Qaeda south of Aleppo. It seems obvious that these moves U.S. supported forces are planned to prevent any gains of the Syrian government in the east.

Today Lavrov again talked to Kerry:

"Lavrov expressed concern about attempts to delay the resumption of political negotiations under various pretexts," the [Russian foreign] ministry said.

As the U.S. is unwilling to settle the Syria conflict Russia will have to retake the initiative.

Is this a trap? Does the U.S. want Russia to sink into a quagmire in Syria? That is certainly a possibility but it is hard to see how this could happen when Russia comes back with a vengeance and strikes hard and fast.

Russian airstrikes against terrorists in Syria have tripled over the last days. Additional resources have been silently dispatched:

Without stirring a buzz similar to that of their first military intervention in Syria, the Russians this week disembarked ground forces and paratroopers in the port of Tartus to support more than 3,000 Russian volunteers dispatched to the region in the past few weeks, in a bid to revive coordination with the Syrian army.
Syrian sources stated that the Russian joint command staff, which coordinated aerial support operations last fall, had returned to the Hmeimim military base in Latakia province to begin preparations for new operations.

One can only hope that the Russian leadership has learned its lesson. That it will not stop to pursue the enemy for no political gain when it is again, as it likely will soon be, on the run.

Posted by b at 02:11 PM | Comments (112)

June 03, 2016

Open Thread 2016-20

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:33 PM | Comments (131)

June 02, 2016

U.S. Election Thread 2016-03 - Yves Smith On "Not Hillary!"

Not Hillary!

Yves Smith of the Naked Capitalism explains why many of her progressive acquaintances will either not vote, or vote for Trump in the upcoming U.S. election. I recommend to read this in full.

For starters two excerpts:

Hillary's experience is one of failure. And she did not learn from it.

Hillary has a résumé of glittering titles with disasters or at best thin accomplishments under each. Her vaunted co-presidency with Bill? After her first major project, health care reform, turned into such a debacle that it was impossible to broach the topic for a generation, she retreated into a more traditional first lady role. As New York senator, she accomplished less with a bigger name and from a more powerful state than Sanders did. As secretary of state, she participated and encouraged strategically pointless nation-breaking in Iraq and Syria. She bureaucratically outmaneuvered Obama, leading to U.S. intervention in Libya, which he has called the worst decision of his administration. And her plan to fob her domestic economic duties off on Bill comes off as an admission that she can’t handle being president on her own.

And the conclusion:

The Sanders voters in Naked Capitalism’s active commentariat also explicitly reject lesser-evilism, the cudgel that has previously kept true lefties somewhat in line. They are willing to gamble, given that outsider presidents like Jimmy Carter and celebrity governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura didn’t get much done, that a Trump presidency represents an acceptable cost of inflicting punishment on the Democratic Party for 20 years of selling out ordinary Americans.

The Clintons, like the Bourbons before the French Revolution, have ensconced themselves in such a bubble of operative and media sycophancy that they’ve mistakenly viewed escalating distress and legitimate demands from citizens as mere noise.
If my readers are representative, Clinton and the Democratic Party are about to have a long-overdue day of reckoning.

To vote for the far right because the former center (left) has lost its bearing is a somewhat dangerous gamble. The U.S. has a relative stable, inertial system with lots of checks and balances that make this move less risky than similar moves underway in Poland, Germany or France. But unless the center left/right politicians recognize that they have lost their former majority there is no chance they will shun the neoliberal globalization nonsense they impose on their constituency.

Voting for a stronger movement towards a genuine left is be a better strategy than voting for the far right. But notorious lack of unity within the left, center-right control over the media and the absence of a successful current archetype will keep a majority away from taking that step.

I agree that the day of reckoning is a long-overdue day. But it may not bring the reckoning we want.

Posted by b at 03:36 AM | Comments (151)

June 01, 2016

The U.S./UK Financed "White Helmets" Shtick - Fake "Child Rescued" Videos

Below is a incomplete list of "rescue" videos showing "kids being rescued" from "rubble" after "Syrian/Russian bombing" prepared by the U.S./UK financed Syria Civil Defence aka the "White Helmets".

The group was created with the help of Purpose Inc, a U.S. company specialized in regime change NGO operations. Purpose Inc is also behind Avaaz which early on peddled fake war on Syria video propaganda. The White Helmets are financed, like all "Free Syrian Army" media propaganda, by USAID with some $23 million and by the UK Foreign Office with a total of some £23 million. The Netherlands and Japan also donated money to the scheme. The group was build up and trained since mid 2013 by a "former" UK military intelligence operator residing in Abu Dhabi. These are propaganda artists camouflaged as humanitarians.

The "White Helmets" cooperate closely with al-Qaeda. One of its leaders was recently denied an entry visa to the United States. More details about the group researched by Vanessa Beeley can be found here and here.

Back to the "rescue" videos. That shtick started in late 2013.

After that great marketing success the movie script was serialized. Since then a new version of a "child rescued" video appears every other month or so. Here are just a few of these with all of them following the same script.

This May 25 video is typical. Someone fiddles with professional rescue air pressure mats to show off but those mats are never put to use. Someone else digs with his hands under or behind a concrete slab which has a rather large opening on the side. A smiling and laughing child, totally unharmed and its favorite pupped in hand, is pulled from under or behind the concrete slab to lots of Allah Akbar shouting by the (always male) bystanders. Not shown: kid gets the promised candies for such great performance.

Other typical features of these movies, see this one, are smoke (grenades) in the streets, dramatic but small open fires nearby, dust or some red color on the children's face or arms. The camera is often used in a hectic, intentionally amateurish first person view, a style extensively developed in the 1999 horror clip Blair Witch Project. Sometimes sounds of additional "bomb impact" bangs or screaming/wailing women are added.

All the above videos are just as (un-)real as the faked "Hero Boy" video showing a "Syrian boy ducking sniper fire to rescue a trapped girl". Fake "opposition" videos have been a major feature of the media war on Syria. These fakes are often easily recognizable as such. We can be sure that the media professionals at the BBC and other outlets know that these are not real rescue scenes. They distribute them nonetheless.

Posted by b at 03:55 AM | Comments (50)

May 31, 2016

Not A Hospital, Not A Russian Strike, Not Civilian - Propaganda Fail In Syria

Below a dissection of another failed propaganda effort in the war of Syria. There are also two news items at the end which may be of interest.

A sometimes reliable account tweeted last night:

M Green ‏@MmaGreen M Green Retweeted الاعلام الحربي

Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) is evacuating all of its HQs in Idlib after the RuAF began a massive wave of airstrikes

US gov funded White Helmets at the site of the Russian airstrikes on Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) positions in Idlib - video

Important to note that this video was released by the official Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) propaganda channel in Idlib.

3:47 PM - 30 May 2016

That sounded plausible. The U.S. funded White Helmets are known for their close cooperation with al-Qaeda.

The (British/U.S.?) propaganda account Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (@raqqa_sl) was awarded the International Press Freedom Award in 2015 from the Committee to Protect Journalists. It had a different version of the air strike.

Cont. reading: Not A Hospital, Not A Russian Strike, Not Civilian - Propaganda Fail In Syria

Posted by b at 01:22 PM | Comments (28)

May 30, 2016

On The Inevitability Of Human Progress

To those who believe in the inevitability of human progress ...


Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

A Sumerian fighter in the 4th millennium BC smashing the head of his enemy & a Sumerian fighter 2016 with #ISIS

Posted by b at 09:52 AM | Comments (83)

May 28, 2016

More Messy Meddling In Libya

by Richard Galustian

Let us look at the latest 'comedy of errors' in Libya courtesy of the U.S./UN & UK and their appointed Presidency Council (PC) and Government of National Accord (GNA).

East Libya ordered four billion Libyan dinars to be printed by a Russian factory and first deliveries are starting and will be available through banks from the 1st June. Last week the PC wrote to the US Government saying the four billion was counterfeit. The US issued a formal statement, not from Washington, but on the Facebook page of the US Embassy in Libya stating they agreed, it was counterfeit. But the other day, the PC/GNA and PM designate Fayez Serraj himself made a volte face and said indeed that the currency being printed in Russia is legal. What is this currency confusion? Will the United States retract its statement saying that the democratically elected and internationally recognized Tobruk government is printing counterfeit currencies? Is Serraj trying to make nice with the Kremlin?

Questions abound. But what’s even more sickening is that the Islamic State (IS) in Libya reads all the same social media we do. They know Libya’s political spectrum and troubles like the currency double play works to their advantage.

Cont. reading: More Messy Meddling In Libya

Posted by b at 02:15 AM | Comments (51)

May 27, 2016

New Turkish-U.S. Quarrels About Syria

Some 300 U.S. special forces illegally invaded Syria to support the Syrian Kurds of the YPG organization. The Turks see the YPG as a sister organization to the Kurdish PKK guerrilla in Turkey which area designated terrorist organization while they are  fighting for autonomy within Turkey. Only yesterday six Turkish security personal died during fights with the PKK. To Turks the YPG are terrorists.

Yesterday the U.S. special forces screwed up mightily by displaying the insignia of the "terrorists" while combating the Islamic State. Leading U.S. media though try to calm the situation down by misleading their readers.

To mollify Turkey over the cooperation with the YPG the U.S. attached some Syrian Arab mercenaries to the Kurdish units and designated the gang the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). A current operation, probably just a diversion, is to move these forces from the north-eastern Kurdish area of Kobani towards the Syrian capital of the Islamic State in Raqqa. The Kurds do not have any interest in taking Raqqa as they would be unable to hold it and the Arab attachment to them is way to small to give it a try. What the real target of this operation is, except the western public, is yet unknown.

The U.S. special forces leading the YPG were caught on camera yesterday. They were obviously in combat even though the official Pentagon position is that these are just advisors and trainers. They also screwed up the U.S. relations with Turkey.

Here from pictures taken by an AFP photographer.

Cont. reading: New Turkish-U.S. Quarrels About Syria

Posted by b at 08:29 AM | Comments (95)

May 26, 2016

Clinton Arrogantly Declines To Debate Sanders - Who Counters And Wins

May 23 2016 - Hillary Clinton declines invitation to debate Bernie Sanders in California

Hillary Clinton’s campaign said on Monday that she will not participate in a California debate against Bernie Sanders before the state’s primary on June 7.

The two campaigns had agreed to additional debates beyond the slate of events that had been scheduled by the Democratic National Committee. The Sanders campaign had hoped to schedule a final debate in California and Fox News had agreed to host in San Francisco.

In a statement, Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri confirmed that they do not intend to participate. Instead, Palmieri indicated that Clinton would prefer to instead continue her pivot to the general election fight against Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

Clinton was obviously afraid to lose votes in California should she keep her promise and again debate Sanders. She arrogantly sees herself as inevitable winner of the primaries as well as the general election. I believe she will lose either one.

Her "private" email sever during her time at the State Department was against all rules says the State Department Inspector General ina newly released report. Clinton declined to be interviewed by the IG even after she had promised to help with the issue. This does not only look bad. It is bad. It will cost her dearly. Should she have to compete against Trump she would get ripped apart over this issue alone. Additionally her record at the State Department, which she touts as experience, is a collection of miscalculations and misdeeds to anyone taking a deeper look.

Sanders now made the perfect countermove to Clinton's arrogant rejection of another debate:

May 25 2016 - On late night TV, Sanders and Trump agree to a debate — maybe

Thirteen minutes into his interview with Donald Trump, ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel said he had a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The Democratic primary underdog, who has camped out in California all week, was set to appear on Thursday night's episode.

"Here's the question from Bernie," said Kimmel. "Hillary Clinton backed out of an agreement to debate me before the Democratic primary. Are you prepared to debate the major issues facing our largest state and the country before the California primary?"

"Yes, I am," said Trump. "How much is he going to pay me? If I debated him, we would have such high ratings, I think I should take that money and give it to charity."

Sanders responded immediately:


Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary.

Trump has good media expertise. That debate will indeed have huge ratings. Clinton will be left out. This will catapult Sanders far in front of Clinton in the California primary.

It will also showcase to the super-delegates at the Democratic convention that Sanders, unlike Clinton who has huge disliked numbers, is able to defeat Trump in the general election. The overwhelming majority of the super-delegates is promised to Clinton and could give her the majority. But if they see that the party will lose with Clinton as candidate and may well win with Sanders then they have all reason needed to switch their votes.

The debate will also help to finally decapitate the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who had unfairly favored the already well known Clinton by, for example, scheduling televised debates at times of lower viewership. The preparations for her dismissal are well along:

“There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on,” said one pro-Clinton Democratic senator.

Clinton has not yet lost the nomination. But she clearly lost this round of the fight. Her arrogant step of avoiding another debate with Sanders will cost her dearly and might be the final issue that takes her down.

Posted by b at 07:07 AM | Comments (85)

May 25, 2016

"How Many Villages Do They Have To Massacre Before They Become Bad Guys?"

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing May 23 2016

QUESTION: Well, sir, I know you said that you don’t know much about Ahrar al-Sham and what they did in al-Zahraa. I have the photograph that I mentioned. I was reluctant to show it because of how graphic it was, but now I think I will do so and maybe this will prompt you to look into this group. And I want to ask you why should this group have protection under the cessation of hostilities when they clearly don’t care about cessation of hostilities?

MR TONER: Look, I’m just not aware of this incident. I’m not – I was not casting doubt or not trying to – I just am not aware of it.

May 12, 2016 - Members of Ahrar al-Sham above their handiwork in Zahraa

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing May 24 2016

QUESTION: Yesterday, I asked a few questions that you said you would look into. First about the reported brief visit of an Ahrar al-Sham representative to Washington, D.C. Did his visit raise any red flags? Second, what does the U.S. think about this group Ahrar al-Sham, and why should they have the protection under the cessation of hostilities when, by many accounts, they don’t care much about that cessation of hostilities?

MR TONER: [...] Look, I mean, we talked a little bit about this yesterday, but Ahrar al-Sham is not a designated foreign terrorist organization. And as we talked about, it is part of this vetted group of opposition forces that are part of the HNC, High Negotiating Council. That was a process mostly led by Saudi Arabia [...] You talked about the attack, and I think we did condemn that. [..] We have serious concerns about that kind of violence.
MR TONER: -- we believe that that kind of action at this point in time would have a damaging effect on the cessation, as well as on the whole political process. We agreed that this group would be a part of the HNC, with the expectation that they will not commit violations of the cessation and that they will not carry out brutal attacks. We’re aware of last week’s attacks. [...]

QUESTION: Is this a yellow card?

QUESTION: Did you know that --

QUESTION: How many times – how many villages do they have to massacre before they become bad guys?

Cont. reading: "How Many Villages Do They Have To Massacre Before They Become Bad Guys?"

Posted by b at 05:04 AM | Comments (64)

May 23, 2016

No U.S. Troops in Libya? One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

Another excellent piece of journalism by Borzou Daragahi ...

Buzzfeed, May 23 2016

No, U.S. Ground Troops Aren’t Headed To Libya Anytime Soon

"... there won't be boots on the ground anytime soon."

Well ...

Washington Post, May 12 2016

U.S. establishes Libyan outposts with eye toward offensive against Islamic State

American Special Operations troops have been stationed at two outposts in eastern and western Libya since late 2015, tasked with lining up local partners in advance of a possible offensive against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

CNN, May 13 2016

U.S. military upping anti-ISIS activity in Libya

Washington Times, May 16 2016

Special ops teams deployed to Libya in campaign against Islamic State

AFP via AlArabiya, May 17 2016

Pentagon admits US troops still in Libya

You will have noticed that one of the above things is not like the others. It is spin piece at the top in which the stenographer dully wrote down what the Pentagon told him: that U.S. special forces in Libya do not wear boots or somehow levitate above the ground. Unless someone kills then. Then the Buzzfeed stenographer will note that they died on duty vacation wearing their boots sneakers. Or whatever nonsense the Pentagon will dictate.

The general quality of journalism really isn't great right now. But to write a piece which presents obvious falsehoods dictated by the Pentagon as factual claims when everybody else already reported the opposite is way below even the now usual level.

Posted by b at 10:42 AM | Comments (22)

May 22, 2016

Some Morally Defective 'Superpower' Claptrap

Please guess which two countries are meant here:

These two countries, bedeviled by decades of misunderstandings, violence and wariness, now have the chance to create a partnership ...

Cont. reading: Some Morally Defective 'Superpower' Claptrap

Posted by b at 10:49 AM | Comments (52)

May 20, 2016

U.S. Election Thread 2016-02

Room to bash whatever candidate deserves it ...

Posted by b at 01:48 PM | Comments (58)

Open Thread (NOT U.S. Election) 2016-19

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:46 PM | Comments (141)

May 19, 2016

Syria - After Detours U.S. Finally Agrees To Russian Ceasefire Plan

The recent talk between the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry brought some progress. The U.S. was so far not willing to agree to a real ceasefire in Syria and persisted on a lower level "cessation of hostility" agreement. This now changed. The U.S., for the first time, agreed to proceed towards a full ceasefire between its proxy forces in Syria and the Syrian government and its allies. In the press availability after the Tuesday talks Kerry said:

[T]oday, we believe we moved the ball forward in some ways, and I’ll say specifically.

First, we pledged our support for transforming the cessation of hostilities into a comprehensive ceasefire. And we committed to use our influence to use the parties to the cessation in order to ensure compliance.

Second, we agreed that if a party to the cessation of hostilities engages in a pattern of persistent noncompliance, the task force can refer that behavior to the ISSG ministers or those designated by the ministers to determine appropriate action, including the exclusion of such parties from the arrangements of the cessation. Interpreted directly, that means that if they continue to do it and they’re pretending to be part of the cessation and they’re not, they could be subject to no longer being part of the cessation immediately.

Those last sentences are mainly directed at Ahrar al Sham which never signed the cessation agreement but claimed to be part of it while continuing its attack on Syrian government forces and civilians. Kerry is conceding to the Russian standpoint that Ahrar, by its action, is a terrorist group that needs to be fought down.

Fourth, we call on all parties to the cessation of hostilities to disassociate themselves physically and politically from Daesh and al-Nusrah and to endorse the intensified efforts by the United States and Russia to develop shared understandings of the threat posed and the delineation of the territory that is controlled by Daesh and al-Nusrah and to consider ways to deal decisively with terrorist groups.

Kerry had agreed to this position on al-Qaeda ad the Islamic State in earlier talks but later retracted with weak excuses that "intermingling" between al-Qaeda and "moderate rebels" made fighting al-Qaeda nearly impossible. That "intermingling" is no longer an excuse. The U.S. now agreed that Russia and the Syrian government will fight al-Qaeda and that any other groups standing nearby and getting hit have only themselves to blame.

By the way, the New York Times account of the talks and the press conference by chief manipulator David Sanger are waaay off from what was really said.

The "cessation of violence" has held up quite well since the end of February. The south is mostly quite and there are only few hotspots elsewhere where fighting still flares up. Over 100 settlements and their local forces have, with Russian mediation, signed ceasefire agreements with the government.

There is also a new, deeper level of Russian and U.S. cooperation of Syria and on fighting al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. A common rough plan was agreed upon to attack and eliminate both group. As part of this plan Iraqi forces under U.S. control attacked and occupied Rutba in west Iraq. Rutba, part of Anbar province, controls much of the open land and desert in the triangle of the Iraqi, Jordan and Syrian border. This move cuts off the southern route that connected the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Syrian/Russian part of this move will be the liberation of Deir Ezzor in south-east Syria in the upcoming months. An attack on the Islamic State held Raqqa will only follow later on after a large concentration of force is made possible.

There are a few other active flashpoints in Syria. In East Ghouta, east of Damascus city, the Saudi sponsored Salafists of Jaish al-Islam are fighting groups once supplied by the CIA and now associated with al-Qaeda/Jabhat al Nusra for control of the area. This fight is already part of the disassociation from Nusra that the U.S. agreed upon. But the fighting is bloody with at least 500 losses on both sides during the last weeks. The Syrian army is the laughing third party in this and today took a significant part of the south of the East-Ghouta pocket.

The rebel part of Aleppo city, controlled by al-Qaeda, is now cut off from its only supply line. Improvised rockets from the rebel side are daily hitting civilians in the densely populated government held side. To eliminate the now besieged al-Qaeda in east Aleppo city will be a very bloody and destructive fight that might take months.

In the north Turkish supported "moderate rebels" still try to move towards east along the Turkish-Syrian border to eliminate the Islamic State access there. But each time they announce to have taken this or that town away from IS, a counterattack follows and IS regains its positions. This infighting between hostile forces is again to the advantage of the Syrian government.

Around Palmyra the Islamic State has made some surprise attacks on the Shear oil field and the T-4 military airport on the western road to Palmyra. There was, according to unofficial sources, some significant damage to Syrian and Russia material on the air base but no news about the incident was published. The advances the Islamic State made in area have by now, with significant Russian help, all been reversed. Following a consolidation phase a renewed push from Palmyra eastward to Deir Ezzor is expected.

Hizbullah has pulled back all troops for the Aleppo area where they were replaced by Iranian forces. It is unwilling to commit additional forces just to move some ceasefire lines a few miles back or forth. It continues its engagement around Damascus and in the border region to Lebanon with IS and al-Qaeda being the main targets.

Russia, Iran, Hizbullah and the Syrian government are all aware that the U.S. is "flexible" with its interpretation of agreements and tends to cheat whenever it believes that it can do so to its own advantage. They are fully prepared to respond and escalate again should the U.S. proxy forces divert from the new agreements or should some significant other changes on the battlefield occur.

Posted by b at 01:59 PM | Comments (108)

May 18, 2016

International Policy On Libya: Arm *Someone* And Hope For The Best

by Richard J. C. Galustian

The decision on Monday in Vienna to provide 'arms' to a Libyan Government that exists in name only, the GNA, has taken the international communities stance from the sublime to the completely ridiculous.

Exactly what military kit is being supposed to be supplied? This is a critical question which needs a whole article devoted to it and cannot be dealt with herein because of space.

To keep it simple, the West has decided to supply 'arms' to a not yet in existence Government of National Accord (GNA) sometimes referred to as a Unity Government yet its core, the nine-man Presidential Council and its Prime Minister were not at all selected by any Libyan but by a combination of the UN, EU, US and UK. Within the EU the primary mover with the most commercial interests of that side being Italy.

The GNA/PC means seven men (as two dropped out) who are essentially two or three members sometimes available to be seen by visiting dignitaries at a heavily fortified Naval Base a couple of miles away from the Militia controlled Mitega Airport. The PC of seven, if you will can be considered as a quorum for a yet to be selected 90 member government comprising of 30 ministers and 60 deputy ministers. The PC/GNA control no territory, no area of either Tripoli or Libya except for the one naval 'bunker' they can meet people in to maintain the facade that they are legitimate. Its a ' Potemkin Village' lie of epic proportions.

But wait, the best I save till last. Their military component is an assortment of militias of varying shades of extremist mainly from Tripoli, Sabratha, Zuwaia and importantly Misrata. Not forgetting in addition the forces that represent the coalition between former LIFG (read for them an Al Qaeda affiliate) which has aligned itself squarely with the Muslim Brotherhood, best described as the Sinn Fein political wing to IRA terrorists of the 70s.

So as in Syria, the Americans are going to give 'arms' to the 'good' guys but not the 'bad' ones. Good luck with that one!

Cont. reading: International Policy On Libya: Arm *Someone* And Hope For The Best

Posted by b at 07:12 AM | Comments (52)

May 17, 2016

How Will The "West" Cover Up Its Retreat From Afghanistan?

The Obama administration seems to have given up on Afghanistan.  It should have done so seven years ago but the military ambushed the just installed Obama administration when the only alternatives it presented on Afghanistan was a huge surge and an even bigger surge in deployed troops. Those additional deployments failed to change the realities on the ground and Afghanistan is slipping back into the permanent local war between "western" supported warlords and Pakistan supported Taliban. The later have the huge advantage of some medieval but largely consistent ideology while the former are only driven by greed. This makes the Taliban the likely winner as the U.S. and others are no longer willing to sacrifice their own men and money for the enrichment of a small class of very greedy Afghan criminals.

Nearly all internal road communication lines in Afghanistan are now broken or under control of the Taliban:

Taliban insurgents have cut the main highway that links the capital with northern Afghanistan and neighboring countries for the past three days, according to Afghan officials in the area.
The northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was cut off, as were road connections to eight northern provinces.
Earlier this month, insurgents launched heavy attacks on security check posts along the Ring Road between Greshk and Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, overrunning three police positions and killing 15 police officers, and taking six officers prisoner. That again cut the strategic stretch linking Kandahar, the biggest southern city, with Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province.

For months, the stretch of Ring Road linking Kandahar and Kabul has been subject to regular Taliban ambushes and so-called flying check posts, making travel dangerous except under heavy guard, for most of the distance. Only the short stretch between Kabul and Wardak Province is passable regularly.

The highway has also been shut down by insurgent ambushes in northern Jowzjan and Faryab Provinces, in western Farah Province and along stretches in Kunduz and Oruzgan Provinces, according to local officials and the police in those areas.

Recently, even the main highway from Kabul to the Torkhum border crossing with Pakistan has been occasionally shut down by Taliban ambushes.

The Afghan government and officials in Kabul are building more walls to surround their compounds out if fear of bomb attacks. Such walls will not keep mortars and rockets from falling onto their roofs. It is rather predictable how this will end. Those with some money will flee the country, those without will arrange themselves with the foreseeable winner, the Taliban. The official government will fall apart. The coalition government, U.S. imposed after the "democratic process" ended up in a stalemate of bribes, did not achieve anything.

The army and police exist on paper but in reality are just some gangs solely benefiting their leaders:

With an estimated 25,000 troops officially based in Helmand, the government should have enough muscle to confront the Taliban.

The problem is many of those troops don’t exist.
A recent investigation by Helmand’s provincial council found that approximately 40% of enlisted troops did not exist. The authors of an analysis commissioned by the Afghan government – and obtained by the Guardian – said the share might be even higher.

US officials are equally concerned: in a report released on 30 April, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) claimed that, “neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist, how many are in fact available for duty, or, by extension, the true nature of their operational capabilities”.
One security official cited in the government report said 300 troops had been deployed to a base in Sangin, but when the base fell, there were less than 15 left.

The "west" pays for the official number of Afghan troops but the money does not end up paying soldiers or policemen but only those who control the official enrollment lists.

The meager troops that do exists will soon leave the south where the Taliban are ready to again take full control:

According to the government report, insurgents control 95% of Kajaki district, a lynchpin for British efforts to win “hearts and minds” by powering a dam to supply southern Afghanistan with electricity.

In Marjah, where 15,000 coalition troops staged Operation Moshtarak, one of the largest offensives of the entire war, the Taliban control 80% territory.

In Sangin, only the army and police headquarters are standing. Nawzad and Musa Qala are fully under Taliban control, as is 60% of Gereshk, where most UK and US soldiers were based.

The situation in other parts of the country is not better. There were huge demonstrations in Kabul last week over the route of a new high voltage electricity line that will allow for the import of more energy. The original technical evaluation recommended to put the line through Bamyan, a Hazara-dominated central province. But someone in the recent government decided to route it through the much more vulnerable Salang pass. The demonstrators believe that ethnic hate against the Hazara led to that change though some local bribery seems more likely.

The project also shows that 15 years of "western" development in Afghanistan did nothing to really build the country. Afghanistan has no means to pay for the import of electricity. Instead of building high power import lines it should (have) build many small hydro-power dam projects. The generated electricity would likely be less than the possible imports but it would be sustainable. The new import line, should it ever be finished, will either get blown up by this or that side of a local conflict, or fall into disuse due to a lack of import payments.

The "west" has failed in Afghanistan in a more devastating way than the Soviet Union failed there. Despite deploying many troops over many years no military solution could be obtained. Despite billions spend on development no sustainable economic achievement is visible. Despite thousands of "democracy" initiatives the basic might-makes-right rules of the land did not change.

Whoever wins the presidential U.S. election will need some very creative propaganda writing to cover up the devastating results of the war on Afghanistan and the retreat from the country. What story line will they come up with?

Posted by b at 12:56 PM | Comments (52)

May 15, 2016

U.S. State Department Releases A Statement - As Instructed By Netanyahoo

10:01am · 15 May 2016

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid

Netanyahu spoke last night with SecState @JohnKerry and asked him to condemn the Holocaust denial cartoon contest in Iran


1:43pm · 15 May 2016

Matt Lee @APDiploWriter

#US @StateDept on #Iran Holocaust cartoon contest:

Meanwhile John Kerry expressed his concern (not) for human rights in Arab lands :

1:39pm · 15 May 2016

John Kerry @JohnKerry

Meeting with @KingSalman today in #Jeddah underscored breadth & depth of US-#SaudiArabia relationship.

Posted by b at 09:59 AM | Comments (86)

May 14, 2016

MANPAD Used By PKK Against Turkish Helicopter May Have Come From Turkey Via "Rebels" In Syria

A Turkish helicopter was shut down by the Kurdish PKK with the help of a modern handheld air defense system. A possible source of this system may be an earlier delivery of such systems from Turkey to "rebels" in Syria.

July 31 2012 - Reuters Syrian rebels acquire surface-to-air missiles: report

Rebels fighting to depose Syrian president Bashar al Assad have for the first time acquired a small supply of surface-to-air missiles, according to a news report that a Western official did not dispute.

NBC News reported Tuesday night that the rebel Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen of the weapons, which were delivered to them via neighboring Turkey, whose moderate Islamist government has been demanding Assad's departure with increasing vehemence.
Precisely what kind of MANPADs have been delivered to Syrian rebels is unclear and NBC News did not provide details. Such weapons range from the primitive to highly sophisticated.

What anti-air missiles the "rebels" acquired became obvious in November 2012 when the "rebels" posted pictures of themselves posing with such weapons:

In photographs recently posted online, two fighters were shown holding modern variants of heat-seeking, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles.
So this development, the apparent capture of complete SA-16 and SA-24 systems, will bear watching. If these weapons are turned toward Syrian military aircraft, then supporters of the uprising will have reason to hail them, and Syrian military pilots will have new grounds for worry on their next sorties. But if these are sold — and weapons of this sort are often said to fetch four- and five-figure dollar sums on black markets — and fired at commercial aircraft, then the consequences and regional security implications of the war in Syria will have become much worse.

From known losses of the Syrian air-force it appears that at least some of the systems the "rebels" were given in 2012 were probably never used. They may indeed have been sold off.

Now they may have reappeared.

AP reported yesterday: Turkey: 8 soldiers dead in clash with PKK, helicopter crash

Clashes broke out early Friday with rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, near the town of Cukurca, in Hakkari province, killing six soldiers, a military statement said. Eight other soldiers were wounded.

A military helicopter sent to the area to support the soldiers later crashed, killing its two pilots, the military said, adding that the crash was due to a technical fault.

The PKK today published a video (alternative source) which shows that the claimed "technical fault" was a complete separation of the tail rotor section from the Turkish AH-1W SUPER COBRA attack helicopter due to direct hit by a SA-18 MANPAD.

While Russia might work with Kurdish elements in Syria it is extremely doubtful that it trusts any Kurdish group enough to provide it with modern MANPAD system just to anger Turkey. A possible source of the shown system is the older Turkish shipment to the "rebels" in Syria who might have "lost" or sold off some to whoever offered a decent amount.

What goes around comes around.

Independent of where the system revealed now came from, the hit on the Turkish helicopter will likely end any further talk of providing anti-air systems to the "rebels" in Syria. The battlefield there is too confusing to guarantee that any delivered system really ends up where it is supposed to go and not in the behind of its provider.

Turkey will likely have to reduce its use of attack helicopters against in own citizens in east Turkey. While some countermeasures can defeat older MANPAD systems none is really reliable. They are difficult to defeat especially in the mountainous east of Turkey. All Turkish air assets will now be vulnerable unless they fly very high.

Posted by b at 01:52 PM | Comments (34)

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