Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 08, 2017

News of the Day - Elections in Britain, Comey Testimony, Gulf Troubles

Big stories are coming up today but I will have no time to extensively post on them. A short take:

The Conservatives in Britain will likely win today's elections - at least according to recent polls. This even as the Labour Party, under its new leader Jeremy Corbyn, will achieve its best results since "New Labour" under Tony Blair wreaked the party.

The unnecessary loss for Labour can be solely blamed on the media, especially the "liberal" ones like the Guardian, who viciously defamed and fought against Corbyn ever since he was elected to lead the party.

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In hearings at the U.S. Congress the former director of the FBI Comey will do his best to put a bad light on Trump. Trump fired him, later than he should have done, for good reasons:

After six months of investigation the FBI had no evidence for any of the rumors about Russian interference [in U.S. elections] that were thrown around. It should have closed the case with a clear recommendation not to prosecute the issue. [...]

That Comey kept the case open was political interference from his side. Hearings and public rumors about the case blocked the political calendar.

The anti-Trump media (which means about 90% of all) will push the Comey testimony as evidence for malfeasance by Trump even though nothing of that kind will be in there.

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Micah Zenko writes that there is a danger that the Trump administration will wage war somewhere against someone as a diversion from the pressure it is under within Washington DC:

Cont. reading: News of the Day - Elections in Britain, Comey Testimony, Gulf Troubles

Posted by b at 04:48 AM | Comments (173)

June 07, 2017

The Saudis Demand Total Surrender But Qatar Will Not Fold

Many people believe that Qatar will soon give in to recent Saudi demands and threats. I first though so too but have changed my opinion. Qatar will likely hold out way longer than anyone assumes and fight more intensive and much longer than foreseen.

The Saudi "young leader" has now given Qatar 24 hours to submit to 10 demands. These include (unconfirmed) the dismantling of Al Jazeera, breaking off of all diplomatic relations with Iran and (the Israeli demand of) ending all support for the Muslim Brotherhood and especially Hamas. The Saudis threaten with a military invasion.

But Qatar is not like Bahrain where 1,000 Saudi troops could easily take over to save a dictator from a mostly unarmed uprising of its people. It has way more resources and capable allies on its side and recent news shows that it knows how to use them.

Two days ago we extensively described the complex conflict between Qatar and some of its neighbors that has recently been escalating. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the main forces on one side, joined yesterday by Donald Trump but not by the Pentagon. On the other side is Qatar, geographically isolated and seemingly without any real allies even though it hosts a very large U.S. command center and air-base.

The conflict has been simmering for years. Qatar has a strong media arm with Al Jazeera TV and other prominent news outlets. Qatar and its media support the political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood which won elections in Egypt before being kicked out in a Saudi financed military coup. The ruling Turkish AK Party is a Muslim Brotherhood branch as is Hamas in Palestine. Muslim Brotherhood parties have thereby proven that it's possible to have an Islam(ist) aligned government without a hereditary dictatorship. Their pure existence de-legitimates the al-Saud clan and other dictatorial family enterprises in the wider Middle East.

There is little reason to waste tears on Qatar. It is a small country with only 200,000 original inhabitants but with 2,000,000 expatriates living there too. Thanks to its large natural gas reserves Qatar is ultra rich and has a very modern (but also vulnerable) infrastructure. The country is way more liberal than Saudi Arabia. Its cities are somewhat cosmopolitan. Unlike in Saudi Arabia women are allowed to drive and other religions than Islam can build their places of worship. But the rulers of Qatar officially follow the same ultraconservative and proselytizing Wahhabi cult as the al-Sauds. They support terrorists of the worst kind in the war against the Syrian people and elsewhere (just as the al-Sauds do).

The Saudis currently lack money. Oil prices are too low to finance the needs of its 26 million people and the exorbitant expenditures of its ruling family. The Qatari gas fields would be a very profitable extension of their oil empire. The UAE would like to take over strategic Qatari islands in the Gulf (and the hydrocarbon fields around them). Taking over Qatar would bring both countries into a better position to fight their presumed enemy in Iran.

As we wrote:

The extreme bullying of Qatar by the Saudis and the UAE, with total closure of all its borders, is designed to create an immediate capitulation. So far Qatar holds onto its course but in the end it is likely to fold. It will have to stop its support for "terrorism" i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood. Another scenario is a putsch in Doha with some Saudi puppet prepared to take over the realm. If that is unsuccessful a military move could follow. Qatar has little capabilities to withstand a potential Saudi invasion.

I have since changed my opinion and said so in a few conversation on Twitter. Qatar will hold out way longer than anticipated. It may not fold at all:

Cont. reading: The Saudis Demand Total Surrender But Qatar Will Not Fold

Posted by b at 01:19 PM | Comments (104)

June 06, 2017

Do Not Trust The Intercept or How To Burn A Source

Yesterday The Intercept published a leaked five page NSA analysis about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Its reporting outed the leaker of the NSA documents. That person, R.L. Winner, has now been arrested and is likely to be jailed for years if not for the rest of her life.


Intercepted source - R.L. Winner

FBI search (pdf) and arrest warrant (pdf) applications unveil irresponsible behavior by the Intercept's reporters and editors which neglected all operational security trade-craft that might have prevented the revealing of the source. It leaves one scratching one's head if this was intentional or just sheer incompetence. Either way - the incident confirms what skeptics had long determined: The Intercept is not a trustworthy outlet for leaking state secrets of public interests.

The Intercept was created to privatize the National Security Agency documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The documents proved that the NSA is hacking and copying nearly all electronic communication on this planet, that it was breaking laws that prohibited spying on U.S. citizen and that it sabotages on a large scale various kinds of commercial electronic equipment. Snowden gave copies of the NSA documents to a small number of journalists. One of them was Glenn Greenwald who now works at The Intercept. Only some 5% of the pages Snowden allegedly acquired and gave to reporters have been published. We have no idea what the unpublished pages would provide.

The Intercept, a subdivision of First Look Media, was founded by Pierre Omidyar, a major owner of the auctioning site eBay and its PayPal banking division. Omidyar is a billionaire and "philanthropist" who's (tax avoiding) Omidyar Network foundation is "investing" for "returns". Its microcredit project for farmers in India, in cooperation with people from the fascists RSS party, ended in an epidemic of suicides when the farmers were unable to pay back. The Omidyar Network also funded (fascist) regime change groups in Ukraine in cooperation with USAID. Omidyar had cozy relations with the Obama White House. Some of the held back NSA documents likely implicate Omidyar's PayPal.

The Intercept was funded with some $50 million from Omidyar. Its first hires were Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras - all involved in publishing the Snowden papers and other leaks. Its first piece was based on documents from the leaked NSA stack. It has since published on this or that but not in a regular media way.  The Intercept pieces are usually heavily editorialized and tend to have a mainstream "liberal" to libertarian slant. Some were highly partisan anti-Syrian/pro-regime change propaganda. The website seems to have no regular publishing schedule at all. Between one and five piece per day get pushed out, only a few of them make public waves. Some of its later prominent hires (Ken Silverstein, Matt Taibbi) soon left and alleged that the place was run in a chaotic atmosphere and with improper and highly politicized editing. Despite its rich backing and allegedly high pay for its main journalists (Greenwald is said to receive between 250k and 1 million per year) the Intercept is begging for reader donations.

Yesterday's published story (with bylines of four(!) reporters) begins:

Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

The NSA "intelligence report" the Intercept publishes alongside the piece does NOT show that "Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack". The document speaks of "cyber espionage operations" - i.e someone looked and maybe copied data but did not manipulate anything. Espionage via computer networks is something every nation in this world (and various private entities) do all the time. It is simply the collection of information. It is different from a "cyberattack" like Stuxnet which are intended to create large damage,

Cont. reading: Do Not Trust The Intercept or How To Burn A Source

Posted by b at 06:09 AM | Comments (150)

June 05, 2017

"The GCC States Led By Saudi Arabia Will Collapse Into Oblivion"

Emboldened by U.S. backing Saudi Arabia launched a campaign to finally subjugate Qatar into client state status. The plan has now reached a high point. A few hours ago Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia severed all ties with Qatar.

All sea- and airspace have been closed for Qatari traffic and the land-routes severed. All Qataris will have to leave those countries within 14 days. Qatari diplomats were given just 48 hours.

The immediate consequences are huge. Some 37 million passengers cross through Doha each year. But Qatar Airways now has to fly through Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish airspace to reach Europe. (If the situation persists the UAE owned Emirates Airways will likely order a huge bunch of new planes.) Half of the food in Qatar comes via Saudi Arabia through Qatar's only land border. 600-800 trucks per day can no longer pass. The 19 flights per day between Doha and Dubai are called off.  Oil prices rose some 1.6% and the Qatari stock exchange tanked.

The reasons for the immediate spat are manifold. It has only little to do with Iran.

The Saudis accuse Qatar of supporting terrorists. That is like Britain accusing the U.S. of imperialism, or the mafia cutting ties with the mob over gangsterism. As Joe Biden remarked (vid) when still Vice President, both Wahhabi countries, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have been funding and fueling terrorism in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. But the Saudi view is that the more "liberal" Qatar is simply supporting the "wrong" kind of terrorists.

Cont. reading: "The GCC States Led By Saudi Arabia Will Collapse Into Oblivion"

Posted by b at 06:50 AM | Comments (199)

June 04, 2017

Theresa May Says "Enough Is Enough" - We Agree - Remove Her From Office

Some links on Britain - the terror attacks and the upcoming election:

BBC: British rebels attack Theresa May's strongholds in London

That is what the headline of BBC should have been yesterday and today. That is the way it reported when the "rebels" were "Syrians" and the attacks occurred in Damascus. Was that not objective? Why change it now?

Related to the Manchester attack John Pilger asks: What did the Prime Minister Know? (vid)

He points out, as we did, that Theresa May was Home Secretary when control orders were lifted to allow Libyan Takfiris move from Britain to Libya to destroy that country. Half of those came back, well trained, and one killed 22 people in Manchester. A blowback from May's personal decision to sent well known terrorists into British proxy wars. Now she says there is "too much tolerance of extremism"? Who tolerated these?

The current Home Secretary is no better: Amber Rudd Prevents Independent Candidate Questioning Arms Sales to Saudi Sponsors of Terrorism

That is the typical response of authoritarian rulers when their shady deals are openly discussed and their competence is questioned: more censorship: Theresa May calls on internet companies to eradicate 'safe spaces' for extremism in wake of London Bridge terror attack

Is the London Bridge a web server? Were the "safe spaces" on the internet used to attacked it? Or are the "safe spaces" the ones used to question Britain's and May's lucrative love affair with terrorist financing Wahhabi nuts in Saudi Arabia and Qatar? For an even deeper dive read You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

May's collusion with the terror sponsors is not allowed to be officially known or discussed: Home Office may not publish terrorist funding report amid claims it focuses on Saudi Arabia - Inquiry is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which the UK recently approved £3.5bn worth of arms export licences to.

It would be bad for business to publicly acknowledge the real sources of Takfiri terrorism. A few dozens Brits here and there, in Manchester and London, will have to die every now and then to keep the shareholders of BAE Systems and other British arm producers happy. Jermey Corbyn would likely change that. He called for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.

London attack: Theresa May says 'things need to change' Prime Minister Theresa May: 'enough is enough' (vid)

We hope that the British voters will agree with her. Thinks need to change. Enough is enough. Vote May out of office. End the cushy relations with the medieval dictatorships of the Arab peninsula.

A change of leadership in Britain is well possible if the young Labour voters turn out in large numbers. Those British who want to end the terror against others and against themselves must now help to achieve that.

Posted by b at 01:31 PM | Comments (109)

June 03, 2017

Open Thread 2017-21

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:48 PM | Comments (149)

June 02, 2017

France Debunks "Russian Hacking" Claims - Clinton Again Loses It

In April the New York Times, published this bullshit: Russian Hackers Who Targeted Clinton Appear to Attack France’s Macron

The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by what appear to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year’s American presidential election, a cybersecurity firm warns in a new report.
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Security researchers at the cybersecurity firm, Trend Micro, said that on March 15 they spotted a hacking group they believe to be a Russian intelligence unit turn its weapons on Mr. Macron’s campaign — sending emails to campaign officials and others with links to fake websites designed to bait them into turning over passwords.

The group began registering several decoy internet addresses last month and as recently as April 15, naming one onedrive-en-marche.fr and another mail-en-marche.fr to mimic the name of Mr. Macron’s political party, En Marche.

Those websites were registered to a block of web addresses that Trend Micro’s researchers say belong to the Russian intelligence unit they refer to as Pawn Storm, but is alternatively known as Fancy Bear, APT 28 or the Sofacy Group. American and European intelligence agencies and American private security researchers determined that the group was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee last year.

The "Macron attack" was very curious. Gigabytes of campaign emails were released by "the hackers" just hours before a media silence period before the election. The campaign immediately found fakes with Cyrillic markings and blamed "Russia". None of the released emails contained anything that was even remotely scandalous. It was likely a planned Public Relations stunt, not a cyber attack.

That NYT report was complete nonsense. The "cybersecurity firm" it quoted was peddling snake oil. Phishing attacks are daily occurrences, mostly by amateurs. Phishing emails are not cyber attacks. They are simply letters which attempt to get people to reveal their passwords or other secrets. They are generally not attributable at all. Likewise APT's, "Advanced Persistent Threats", are not "groups" but collections of methods that can be copied and re-used by anyone. After their first occurrence "in the wild" they are no longer attributable.

That isn't just me saying so. It is the head of France's cyber security agency:

Cont. reading: France Debunks "Russian Hacking" Claims - Clinton Again Loses It

Posted by b at 02:21 AM | Comments (55)

May 31, 2017

Trump Dumps Pretense Of Altruism From U.S. Foreign Policy

For decades the U.S. foreign policy elite and its presidents played the farce of an altruistic United States that acts for the global good and in the interest of humanity.

That was always a lie. Wherever one took a deeper look the U.S. acted solely in its (perceived) self interests. But the rhetoric helped to drag others along. Tributary governments could pretend they worked for the "universal good" when they in fact just followed orders from Washington DC. U.S. pressure was applied behind the curtain - through bribes, threats of revealing private secrets or -if necessary- via well managed "democratic" coups.

Those times are over. Thanks to the honesty of the Trump administration the foremost positions of hard U.S interests and deadly threats are now openly declared fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy.

The neo-conservative chaperone in the White House, National Security Advisor General McMaster, and the Goldman Sachs veto holder in the White House, economic advisor Gary Cohn, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that reveals the new true face of the U.S. empire:

The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.

Translation: "Power is with the strong. We feel strong. Screw you!"

At every stop in our journey, we delivered a clear message to our friends and partners: Where our interests align, we are open to working together to solve problems and explore opportunities. We let adversaries know that we will not only take their measure, deter conflict through strength, and defend our interests and values, but also look for areas of common interest that allow us to work together. In short, those societies that share our interests will find no friend more steadfast than the United States. Those that choose to challenge our interests will encounter the firmest resolve.

From now on the U.S. will only engage in selective, temporary friendships: "Where our interests align", and only there, will the U.S. be friendly because it obviously serves U.S. interests. Wherever a country deviates from that, even partially, it will "encounter the firmest resolve." That is as clear a threat as it can be.

Cont. reading: Trump Dumps Pretense Of Altruism From U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted by b at 02:24 PM | Comments (134)

May 30, 2017

France Prepares Pro-AlQaeda Intervention In Syria

It seems like France is looking for excuses to extend the war on Syria.

On May 25 the French news agency AFP published a propaganda piece about Arab horse racing in Idleb:

The spectators broke out into a lively line-dance and shot celebratory gunfire into the air as each muscled creature blasted past the finish line, kicking up clouds of golden sand.

"Muscled creatures", "clouds of golden sands" - is that modern French poetry?

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The AFP pictures only show two horses - not much of a race. Adding to that fail they also show an al-Qaeda child soldier (on the right) with a gun way too big for him:

Cont. reading: France Prepares Pro-AlQaeda Intervention In Syria

Posted by b at 11:52 AM | Comments (108)

May 29, 2017

U.S. Wants Control Over Anbar And Beyond - Iraq and Syria Will Prevent It

The U.S. is casting its net over the desert between Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to install military bases and power-structures that will guarantee major influence in the area for the foreseeable future. A part of that plan is to develop Sunni proxy forces that will keep the government forces of Damascus and Baghdad out of the area. Another part is to privatize important infrastructure to keep it under direct U.S. control.

To privatize the Iraqi Highway 1 between Baghdad and the Jordanian capital Amman, is a major point in these plans. According to the NYT:

As part of an American effort to promote economic development in Iraq and secure influence in the country after the fight against the Islamic State subsides, the American government has helped broker a deal between Iraq and Olive Group, a private security company, to establish and secure the country’s first toll highway.


Map by New York Times

The map shows Highway 1 from Baghdad to Amman. Notice the road junction east of the Jordan-Iraq border. There the road splits with one branch going north-west towards Damascus. The point where that road crosses from Iraq to Syria is the al-Tanf border station currently occupied by U.S. forces and their British and Norwegian auxiliaries as well some Syrian "rebels" under U.S. control. The U.S. recently bombed a convoy of Syrian and allied Iraqi forces which was moving towards that area.  The U.S. military dropped leaflets to Syrian troops to order them to stay away from their own border. Who the f*** do those U.S. troops think they are? What is there justification to be there in the first place? Large Iraq and Syrian government forces are now moving towards al-Tanf from the two sides of the border to evict the occupiers. Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia have agreed that no U.S. position will be tolerated there. U.S. and other foreign troops will either move out voluntary from al-Tanf or they will be removed by force.

Highway 1 and its branch to Damascus is the most important economic lifeline between Syria and Jordan in the west and Iraq and beyond in the east. Whoever controls it, controls major parts of commerce between those countries. Iraq is a country with rich resources. While it is under economic strains after decades of U.S. sanctions and war against it by the U.S. and Takfiri proxy forces it has no long-term need to rent out such major real estate.

Nevertheless the current Iraqi government under Prime Minister al-Abadi signed a preliminary agreement for a 25 year contract with the U.S. company:

Mr. Abadi has awarded the development project to Olive Group, although the final details are still being worked out. The project would include repairing bridges in western Anbar Province; refurbishing the road, known as Highway 1; and building service stations, rest areas and roadside cafes. It would also include mobile security by private contractors for convoys traveling the highway.

Al Abeidi is now under pressure from the Shia majority who elected him into office to renounce the deal. It is obviously that the deal is not in their interest nor that of the country. According to U.S. diplomats one purpose of the deal is:

pushing back on the influence of Shiite Iran, whose growing power in Iraq has alarmed important Sunni allies of the United States like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Iran has little to do with the road. It is the Shia majority of Iraq that would benefit most from free flowing traffic and commerce on it.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have enabled the Sunni insurgency in Iraq of which ISIS is just the latest incarnation. To allow the U.S. to control the road and thereby Anbar province in the name of Turkey and Saudi Arabia would guarantee that future Sunni insurgencies could threaten Baghdad whenever "needed". Just remember how Obama said he used ISIS to throw then Prime Minster Maliki out of office:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

A U.S. controlled west-Iraq and south-eastern Syria would be a highway for Saudi Arabian miscreants from their country up towards Baghdad and Damascus. It would be an incarnation of the "Salafist principality" the U.S. and other early ISIS supporters have wished for since at least 2012.

The U.S. is willing to obfuscate and to lie to further its imperial plans. The NYT is, as usual, complicit in that:

Playing on painful memories and fears of Iraqis, news outlets have also run false reports that Blackwater — the private security firm that acted with impunity in the early days of the American occupation and gunned down innocent Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 — had taken on the project.

“The politics of this country are challenging,” said Christian Ronnow, executive vice president of Constellis, the parent company of Olive Group, a private security firm that has worked for years in Iraq.

What the NYT claims are "false reports" are in fact reasonable conclusions:

The [Constellis] Group combines the specialized skills and operational excellence of ACADEMI, Edinburgh International, Strategic Social and Triple Canopy,

ACADEMI

is an American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince as Blackwater, renamed as XE Services in 2009 and now known as Academi since 2011 after the company was acquired by a group of private investors.

Olive Group is Constellis Group is Academi is Blackwater - the "false reports" in Iraqi media are way more truthful on that than the NYT is.

The U.S. project in Anbar province and its potential control of Highway 1 through private U.S. forces threatens to put an economic stranglehold on Iraq, Syria and Jordan. I trust that nationalist forces in those countries as well as their allies will do their best to prevent it.

Posted by b at 07:37 AM | Comments (80)

May 28, 2017

Open Thread 2017-20

News & views ...

Posted by b at 05:08 AM | Comments (117)

May 27, 2017

The Real Foreign Policy Scandal Is Its Sabotage By Trump Enemies

During the election campaign Donald Trump argued for better relations with Russia. He wanted to engage in a common fight against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Hillary Clinton argued for a confrontational policy against Russia and a new cold war. The foreign policy establishment, the media and the CIA were solidly on Clinton's side. The people of the United States made their choice. It was Trump and his views of policies that were elected.

After Trump had won the election, he advised his staff to set up a confidential track-2 communication channel with the Russian government. He rightfully did not trust the established official channels through the State Department and the CIA. His incoming National Security Advisor Flynn and his foreign policy advisor Kushner worked on his behalf when they soughed contacts with Russian officials. Such diplomacy is by nature not acted out in public.

But now the U.S. people are told by their media that it is a scandal, A SCANDAL, that President Trump's advisors pursue the policies the candidate Trump had argued for. Today's headlines: NYT - Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia; WaPo - Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin; The Hill - Kushner wanted secure line with Kremlin before inauguration: report; The New Yorker - Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems; Reuters - Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy - sources.

The various formulations in those pieces are painting the discrete diplomatic contacts as something sinister and illegal:

NBC News reported on Thursday that Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI, in the first sign that the investigation, which began last July, has reached the president’s inner circle.
...
FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.

But paragraphs down from that:

While the FBI is investigating Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently a target of that investigation, the current law enforcement official said.
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There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.

The WaPo author has at least the honesty to note:

It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and officials.

As an aside the Washington Post leakers reveal that U.S. intelligence can listen to Russian diplomatic communication between the embassy in Washington and Moscow. This is a criminal breach of a "sources and methods" secrets that should be punished.

The scandal here are not various contacts of Trump advisors with Russian and other country's diplomats. The scandal is the undermining of the constitutional prerogative of the elected President of the United State to set foreign policy:

Under the Constitution, the President serves as head of state and head of government. [..] As head of government, he formulates foreign policy, supervises its implementation and attempts to obtain the resources to support it. He also organizes and directs the departments and agencies that play a part in the foreign policy process. Along with the Vice President, he is the only government official elected nationally. This places him in a unique position to identify, express and pursue the “national interests” of the U.S.

The scandal here is not Trump and are not his advisors' contacts with Russian officials. The scandal are the leaks by "officials" about confidential diplomacy, the sham FBI "investigations" and the general undemocratic hostility and resistance of the foreign policy establishment, the security services and the media towards the president's chosen policies. This is completely independent of whether one likes those policies or not.

Posted by b at 05:38 AM | Comments (112)

Al-Qaeda's Godfather Is Dead - Good Riddance

The ruthless U.S. imperialist Zbigniew Brzezinski died last night. Good riddance.

Brzezinski was the godfather of al-Qaeda and similar groups.

As National Security Advisor of U.S. President Jimmy Carter Brzezinski devised the strategy of using religiously motivated radical militants against secular governments and their people. He sent Saudi financed Wahhabi nuts to fight the government of Afghanistan before the USSR intended to send its military in support that government. His policy of rallying Jihadis (vid) caused millions of death. Brzezinski did not regret that:

What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Brzezinski hailed from a Polish nobility family in Galicia, now west Ukraine. (Galicia is, not by chance, also the place of origin of today's Ukrainian neo-nazis.) The family fled Poland after its German/Soviet partition and and the socialization of the vast nobility properties during and after the second world war. Zbigniew Brzezinski hate of anything socialist and Russian derived from that.

The 9/11 attacks, the war on Syria, the recent massacre in Manchester and the murder of 28 Copts yesterday in Egypt are direct consequences of Brzezinski's "some stirred-up Moslems" strategy of exporting revolutions. The growth of the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabi creed, a danger to all mankind, was prepared and propagated by him.

May he burn in hell - soon to be joined by the other "total whore" and fellow war criminal Henry Kissinger,

Posted by b at 05:31 AM | Comments (71)

May 26, 2017

Poor Poet In A Squeeze

(Pinned to top May 19 - May 26 2017. Scroll down for new content.)
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Dear friends,

this Poor Poet is in a squeeze and needs your support.


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Cont. reading: Poor Poet In A Squeeze

Posted by b at 05:30 PM | Comments (61)

Syria - Truth Slips Through In The New York Times - NATO Preps to Fight Iran And Russia

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting piece about east Aleppo. Robert Worth visited it recently and talked to people there. The NYT editors/censors inserted many of their standard slander against the Syrian government, but the can not drown out the realities described therein.

Thus the piece is headline: Aleppo After the Fall but one of the key sentences in it says just the opposite:

Yasser said he was one of the first people to come back [to east-Aleppo], right after what he — like everyone else I met — called the liberation.

Jihadi propaganda claims of government bombing of random hospitals without reason "verified" by a Skype call to some al-Qaeda propagandist in Idleb- are mixed with reality based on-the-ground reporting:

On my second day in the city, I went to see the Aleppo Eye Hospital, a sprawling compound that the rebels had used as a military headquarters. As we walked through the burned and shattered building, my government minder and the soldiers guarding the place kept picking up markers of the rebels’ Islamist leanings. They weren’t hard to find. A fire-blackened car out front still had the Qaeda logo on its hood. ...

Unfortunately the piece also includes factual errors:

The reporter, an Aleppan named Rida al-Basha, described the neighborhoods where [looting] had taken place and named the militias, including the notorious Tiger Forces, whose leaders include well-known thugs.

I do not doubt that looting has taken place after the liberation of east-Aleppo. Those who supported the "rebel" invasion of their city will have lost everything. But looting by the Tiger Force "militia"? The Tiger Force are the Special Operations Division of the Syrian Arab Army, not a "militia". It is led by highly professional officers, not by "thugs". Its leader, General Suheil al-Hassan, has been in the army for over 26 years. The division is armed with Russian T-90 tanks and other heavy assault equipment. It is an offensive unit which has been very busy on various fronts. It is not a mopping up or occupation force for urban areas that would have time for organized looting in Aleppo. The quoted claim is inconsistent with those facts.

But still - the Magazine piece is filled with detailed story of real people who factually tell what the "rebels" have done to their city. How they looted every factory and house down to the copper electricity wire and sold everything off to Turkey. Wherever the story is based on real reporting it confirms the view and position of the anti-Islamist Syrian majority which supports its government. After years of claiming the opposite in its hundreds of anti-Syrian propaganda pieces one wonder how the NYT editors let this pass.

One anecdote even reveals who the Syrians will choose as their future leader:

My Syrian businessman friend told me that he twice gathered about a dozen people for dinner and offered them a hypothetical in strict confidence. It is up to you to name the next president of Syria, he said. Whom would you choose? The guests were all Syrians, and none supported the regime. To his surprise, almost all of them named Assad.

And that, dear reader, is why the U.S. and its proxies are against truly democratic elections in Syria. Their nemesis would easily win and prevent the planned neo-liberal looting of what is left of the Syrian state.

The Islamic proxy forces of the "west", al-Qaeda under its various disguises, Ahar al-Sham and even ISIS are mostly done. The latest especially is no longer a capable military force but is reverting to guerilla levels of operation. Its final defeat will take a long time but it must and will be achieved by local forces.

Despite that the U.S. pressed on NATO members to let the NATO organization join its "fight against ISIS". The single NATO members were already part of the U.S. coalition. But NATO as an organization brings large scale command and control capabilities as well as additional resources. (All under U.S. control.)

Make no mistake - "fighting ISIS" is not the real purpose of the move. The U.S. wants NATO support to invade Syria from the north in Idleb as well as from the south near Deraa and from the south-east starting at the al-Tanf border station to Iraq. Syria and its allies will now be fought under the disguise of "fighting ISIS" which factually can no longer be the purpose. Thus NATO, together with Wahhabi Gulf forces, will now be engaged in an expanded war not only against the Syria government but especially against its Russian and Iranian allies. Trump's endorsement of anti-Iranian rhetoric on his visit in Saudi Arabia served a similar purpose.

Syria and its allies will try to prevent a further invasion by cutting off al-Tanf and holding on to Deraa city - thereby blocking any wider military moves. But those measures will probably be in vain. Unless some sane voices intervene we are now at the beginning of a far wider and more dangerous war that can easily slip out of anyone's control.

---
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Posted by b at 09:49 AM | Comments (77)

May 25, 2017

Details Emerge On The Manchester Blowback From Britain's Terror Support

There are now a few more details on the Manchester attack and how it relates to British support for Takfirs in its wars on independent countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. The picture has not changed though from the one we painted yesterday. The attack was a blow back from the British use of Takfiris to take down governments it dislikes.

In 2011 when the British, French and the U.S. waged war on Libya, the British government sent British-Libyan Takfiris to fight against the Libyan government forces:

Belal Younis, another British citizen who went to Libya, described how he was stopped under 'Schedule 7' counter-terrorism powers on his return to the UK after a visit to the country in early 2011. ...

He said he was subsequently asked by an intelligence officer from MI5, the UK's domestic security agency: "Are you willing to go into battle?"

"While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi," he told MEE.

Known Libyan radicals were released from control order in Britain, given their passports back and hauled off to Libya. There British special forces were on the ground and British fighter planes in the air to support their fighting against the legitimate Libyan government. MI-5, the domestic British spy service, "sorted" the fighters sent from Britain. The responsible British Home Secretary at that time? One Theresa May, now the British Prime Minister.

The father of the Manchester assassin fought in Libya in a gang related to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a known al-Qaeda entity. His son, then 16 years old, joined him:

In 2011, when Abedi was still a teenager, he traveled to Libya and fought alongside his father in a militia known as the Tripoli Brigade to oust Gadhafi as the revolts of the Arab Spring swept North Africa and the Middle East, a family friend said.

The son returned to Manchester but became a well known danger to society. Members of Libyan exile society in Manchester reported him at least five times as a dangerous Jihadi to the local authorities. There were no reactions. Additionally:

Abedi's own family background might also have been a red flag to authorities. His father was a member of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
...
France’s interior minister said the 22-year-old had “proven” links with Islamic State and that both British and French intelligence services had information that the attacker had been in Syria.

According to the Financial Times Salman Abedi came back to Britain a few days before the attack via Turkey and Germany. He had come from Libya to Turkey but probably stayed a few days in Syria to receive his last orders.

All these attacks by Takfiris, in Paris, in Brussels, Berlin and Manchester as well as in Libya, Syria and Iraq, have their ideological roots in Wahhabism, the extreme version of Salafist Islam promoted in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The roots of such terrorism are in Riyadh and Doha and will have to be fought there.

But the Saudi and Qatari rulers pay extraordinary amounts of protection money in the form of weapon purchases from British and U.S. companies. As long as they keep doing so they will be kept in place as useful props in the bigger scheme.

For the ruling classes in Britain and elsewhere the victims in Manchester are just collateral damage in their quest to rule the world with help of the Wahhabi storm troopers.

Meanwhile "western" media and news agencies continue to promote life in al-Qaeda country, "Now with Arabian horse races !", and incited more youngsters into joining the deadly cult.

Posted by b at 12:59 PM | Comments (120)

May 24, 2017

The Manchester Attack - A Blowback From Britain's Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond

When I first learned of yesterday's terror incident in Manchester, UK I snarked:

Moon of Alabama‏ @MoonofA

So another heroic "Syrian rebel" - which the British government avidly supports - blew himself up. But why in #Manchester?

6:26 AM - 23 May 2017

Several people attacked my over that tweet.

How would I know it was a "Syrian rebel" who blew himself up in the Manchester Arena?

Well, how would you know that any of the takfiri "Syrian rebels" the UK, the U.S. and their Gulf proxies support in Syria are from Syria? Many are definitely not.

Then news appeared that the attacker's name was Abedi and that he hailed from an anti-Ghaddafi tribe in eastern Libya. It was eastern Libya from where in Macrh 2011 a tribal insurrection to overthrow the Libyan government was initiated. Weapons were flown in from Qatar and handed out to Jihadists. British special forces were on the ground to help the takfiris of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in their attacks towards the Libyan capital in western Libya. The leader of the eastern front was Abdelhakim Belhadj, a long time al-Qaeda member, After Ghaddafi was overthrown with British help al-Qaeda's flag went up over the court house of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

The Manchester plot thickened.

Now we read this:

Cont. reading: The Manchester Attack - A Blowback From Britain's Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond

Posted by b at 05:53 AM | Comments (217)

May 23, 2017

Libya - Massacre At Brak al-Shatti May Trigger Larger Civil War

Egypt, the UN and Arab governments try to mediated between the two governments in Libya. A massacre at an air base interrupted the process and threatens to intensify the civil war.

by Richard Galustian

(Cairo) Nobody has their eye on Libya with all "western" media preoccupied with DC machinations, Russiaphobia and the first overseas trip of President Trump.

What about the implosion we are on the brink of seeing in Libya following the murder of all LNA Air Force personnel at the Brak al-Shati AFB?

The death toll in the attack of a Libyan National Army airbase, in south Libya, rose to over 140, a spokesman for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday.

Remarkably it was militia (called 'the third force') of the UN unelected Government of National Accord (GNA) under Faez Serraj that attacked and executed the unarmed men in the Brak al-Shati Air base. There were allegedly foreigners among the attackers possibly aligned with al-Qaeda.

LNA spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said on Friday most of the fatalities were maintenance and support Air Force personnel including some pilots. He added the victims included many civilians such as cooks and cleaners who worked at the airbase or were in the nearby area, adding that barbaric summary executions were carried out one by one, all head shots. "Many of the young airmen were returning from a military parade. They weren't armed but still were executed," the spokesman said.

Cont. reading: Libya - Massacre At Brak al-Shatti May Trigger Larger Civil War

Posted by b at 02:01 AM | Comments (26)

May 22, 2017

The Orb - Wahhabis And Zionists Urge Trump To Regime-Change Syria To Fight Iran

There is something deeply wrong with what you do when even Satan feels the need to distance himself from you:

The picture is cropped but the original is even worse - the Wahhabi orb rules them all:

Cont. reading: The Orb - Wahhabis And Zionists Urge Trump To Regime-Change Syria To Fight Iran

Posted by b at 10:52 AM | Comments (114)

May 21, 2017

Talking Tactics, Lacking Strategy - The Generals On Syria And Iraq

On Friday Secretary of Defense [General ret.] Mattis, General Dunford and Special Envoy McGurk on the Campaign to Defeat ISIS held a press briefing. A transcript is available.

My first thought after reading its was: "These people live in a different world. They have no idea how the real word works on the ground. What real people think, say,  and are likely to do." There was no strategic thought visible. Presented were only some misguided tactical ideas.

One purpose of the briefing was obviously to souse the Saudis in preparation of Trumps weapons sales campaign there. There was no mention at all of any (Saudi financed) Jihadis in Syria or elsewhere besides ISIS. Questions about Kurdish or Iraqi paramilitary groups were answered with trash talk about Iran.

Besides that some notable points were made.

Dunford of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remarked at one point that the Raqqa campaign was not delayed by the decision of Trump's National Security Advisor Flynn to temporarily halt the Obama order to launch that operation. He thereby rejected the accusations in a McClatchy news piece that Flynn's decision significantly delayed the campaign and that he was motivated by Turkish payments to him. A MoA piece had listed that McClatchy report as fake news. Turkish consulting payments to Flynn had ended three month earlier,  the decision was reasonable and the Raqqa campaign was not delayed by it. Dunford confirmed that.

The recent unprovoked and illegal U.S. air attack on a Syrian Army contingent moving towards the al-Tanf border station with Iraq was probably a local decision taken by an over-eager U.S. commander on the ground. Dunford said:

Cont. reading: Talking Tactics, Lacking Strategy - The Generals On Syria And Iraq

Posted by b at 01:41 PM | Comments (66)

May 20, 2017

Weekend Leisure - Drumming (Anika Nilles)

I have been listening to some drumming lately. From Mannheim, Germany, Anika Nilles with her composition Mister.

 

 

This lesson, with also more of her pieces, gives a bit of background on her particular style.

I also like these as a comparison of a master player and a quite good apprentice drummer:

Posted by b at 11:10 AM | Comments (22)

May 19, 2017

U.S. Attacks Syrian Government Forces - It Now Has To Make Its Choice

Addendum added below
---

The Syrian army is on the way to liberate the ISIS besieged city of some 100,000 and garrison of Deir Ezzor in the east of the country. The U.S. has trained a few thousand "New Syrian Army" insurgents in Jordan and is reportedly prepared to march these and its own forces from Jordan through the east-Syrian desert all the way up to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. About a year ago it occupied the al-Tanf (al-Tanaf) border station which consists of only a few buildings in the mid of the desert. The station between Syria and Iraq near the Jordan border triangle was previously held by a small ISIS group.

A U.S. move from the south up towards the Euphrates would cut off the Syrian government from the whole south-east of the country and from its people in Deir Ezzor. While that area is sparsely populated it also has medium size oil and gas fields and is the land connection to the Syrian allies in Iraq.

With the western part of the country relatively quiet, the Syrian government and its allies decided to finally retake the south-eastern provinces from ISIS. They want to lift the ISIS siege on Deir Ezzor and close the border between Syria and Iraq with its own forces. The move will also block any potential U.S. invasion from the south by retaking the road to al-Tanf and the Syrian-Iraqi border (red arrows). The sovereign Syrian state will not give up half of the country to an illegal occupation by ISIS or the U.S. At the same time as the eastern operations are running consolidation and clearing operations against ISIS in the middle and west of the countries will take place (green arrows).


Map by OZ_Analysis (modified by MoA) - bigger

Yesterday a small battalion size force (~2-300 men) of the regular Syrian army, Syrian National Defense Organization volunteers and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF/PMU of the Kata'ib al-Imam Ali) marched on the road from the west towards al-Tanf. They were about 23 kilometers away from the border station when they were attack by U.S. aircraft coming in low from Jordan. The U.S. jets directly fired at the convoy, allegedly after earlier giving some "warning shots". At least one Syrian tank and several other vehicles were destroyed. Six Syrian government forces were reported killed and more were wounded.

Cont. reading: U.S. Attacks Syrian Government Forces - It Now Has To Make Its Choice

Posted by b at 04:02 AM | Comments (195)

May 18, 2017

The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us

The Trump administration made a huge mistake by not preventing the just announced special council investigation into the alleged, but likely non-existing "Trump-Russia" connections:

The Justice Department appointed a special counsel Wednesday to investigate possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials — a clear signal to the White House that federal investigators will aggressively pursue the matter despite the president’s insistence that there was no “collusion’’ with the Kremlin.

Robert S. Mueller III, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, has agreed to take over the investigation as a special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced. The move marks a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation to be run independently of the Justice Department. Calls for a special counsel intensified after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey last week.

It is weird that the WaPo report above calls this "a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation". It further states that the White House was not informed about it until it had been made:

The White House did not learn of Rosenstein’s decision until just 30 minutes before the public announcement was made.

Anyway. This is bad and the Trump administration should have pulled all strings to prevent it. Such investigations NEVER stick to their original, limited tasks but extend further and further. The order the Acting Attorney General wrote includes language which allows for nearly unlimited digging in "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” It will thereby continue until -inevitably- some dirt will be found that can be blown out of all proportion and lead to prosecutions or impeachment.

Robert S. Mueller is also a bad choice as a special council as he is a former colleague and friend of former FBI director James Comey who Trump recently fired. From 2013:

Forged Under Fire—Bob Mueller and Jim Comey’s Unusual Friendship

Both men were rising stars mentored and guided by Eric Holder in the 1990s during Holder’s time in the Justice Department under the Clinton administration.
...
Mueller, now 68, and Comey, now 52, would become close partners and close allies throughout the years ahead.
...

Both, Comey and Mueller, were involved in the dramatic hospital scene at the bed of Attorney General Ashcroft to stop Bush's illegal program of spying on U.S. citizens. The program in question stopped for a moment but the spying simply continued under a different legal justification.

The attempts to smear Trump and those around him over foreign connections have entered absurd territory. The lead headline at McClatchy today is a. old news, b. confusing the timeline only to further throw dirt into the direction of Trump:

Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent

One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

The incoming Trump administration temporarily stopped the Raqqa campaign which the Obama administration had decided would be done with Kurdish forces. This was on January 17, only a few days before the Trump administration took over. The Obama administration itself had deliberated about the issue for over 8 month and its choice was not its preferred option:

Cont. reading: The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us

Posted by b at 07:07 AM | Comments (93)

May 17, 2017

Open Thread 2017-19

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:51 PM | Comments (127)

James Comey Is Losing His Game With Another Non-News Leak

This is a short follow up on yesterday's false news stories topped with a Comey leak.

1. The New York Times tries to add to the story of the WannaCry ransom virus (which is based on NSA exploits),  hyping the unfounded claim that North Korea is behind it: Focus Turns to North Korea Sleeper Cells as Possible Culprits in Cyberattack. The story curiously does not even mention the nonsensical claim of a Google staffer that points to common code snippets in reused software stacks. Instead we get a long elaboration on how North Korea sends students abroad to be trained in IT and programming. In paragraph 4 the story asserts:

As evidence mounts that North Korean hackers may have links to the ransom assaults ...

But no evidence, none at all, is cited in the piece. The "mounting evidence" is a molehill without the hill. Eleven paragraphs later we learn that:

It also is possible that North Korea had no role in the attacks,

Duh. Six NYT reporters collaborated in writing that twenty paragraph story which contains no reasonable news or information. What a waste.

2. The State Department claim that Syria built a crematorium inside a prison to burn executed prisoners saw no follow up. But it had consequences. The presented "evidence" was too thin to make it believable. Even the staunchly anti-Syrian SPIEGEL doubted it: USA bleiben Beweise für Assads Leichenöfen schuldig. Translated: "U.S. fails to give evidence for Assad crematorium claims."

The State Department claim was presented in a special news conference by Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. A day later Jones announced that he would retire:

Jones, 57, told colleagues the decision was his own and that he had not been pushed out or asked to leave the department.

Ahem. Sure. Maybe. Or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disliked the lame propaganda shows Jones presented under the official State Department seal.

3. Yesterday's "Trump revealed critical intelligence to Russia" nonsense is already dying down. Even regular NYT readers criticize their paper's reporting of it:

It’s quite strange that the media is giving such prominence to and broadcasting so much detail about supposedly highly secret information and its source in order to show how irresponsible President Trump is.
...
It seem that of the two, the media and the President, the media is by far the most at fault for leaking state secrets. Strange indeed: it seems the goal of bringing down Trump overrides all other considerations.”

To recap - in March the U.S. and the UK had issued a ban on laptops for fights from certain Middle Eastern airports:

The U.S. officials said intelligence "indicates terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation" by "smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."

It was known from other reports that the threat was from ISIS. Trump repeated this to the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and added that the origin of the treat is the ISIS capital Raqqa. Anyone would have guessed that. It was no secret. But "current and former officials" phoned up reporter after reporter to claim that Trump revealed critical intelligence because the Russians might now guess which country the information was coming from. A few hours later the Washington Post and the New York Times, not Trump, revealed that the original information came from Israel. It will be difficult to blame Trump for "leaking to the Russians" less information than "current and a former American official" leak to mainstream paper.

But as that smear against Trump and Russia has failed a new one is needed.

A week ago Trump unceremoniously fired FBI boss James Comey:

After six months of investigation the FBI had no evidence for any of the rumors about Russian interference [in the U.S.] that were thrown around. It should have closed the case with a clear recommendation not to prosecute the issue. That Comey kept the case open was political interference from his side. Hearings and public rumors about the case blocked the political calendar. Instead of following the facts, and deciding based upon them, he was himself running a political campaign.

Comey had hoped that he would not be fired as long as the investigation was running. Since Trump kicked him out Comey tried to get a public hearing in Congress to spill the beans and get some revenge. The Republican majority leaders smelled the trap and did not invite him. Today he upped his game: Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

Comey leaked the memo to raise new allegations against Trump and to finally get his day in Congress. But Trump's “I hope you can let this go” is not a clear interference in a judicial investigation. Trump just wished that the FBI would use its resources to look into other issues, like the extensive leaking of secret intelligence that occurred during recent months. Nothing nefarious can be constructed from that reasonable explanation. The investigation into Flynn, for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act with relation to Turkey(!), continues. Trump has had no influence on it. If this talk has been so important as to possibly constitute a breach of law why did Comey wait months, until after he was fired, to leak it?

The Comey claim is another non-issue and non-story. The Republican congress leaders will not jump on Comey's bandwagon (- or will they?) If this was the worst Comey can present he has lost the fight.

The deep-state, which opposes any collaboration with Russia and wants Trump impeached (RealNews vid), will now have to find a new angle for its attack.

Posted by b at 05:17 AM | Comments (46)

May 16, 2017

One Day, Three Serious News Stories That Turn Out To Be False

It is a fakenews day. Three stories are making the rounds through the media that are each based on false or widely exaggerated interpretation of claims. North Korea, Syria and the U.S. President are the targets.

1. The Wall Street Journal asserts with a #fakenews headline that bits of computer-code in the recent WannaCry ransom virus are identical with bits of computer code that was allegedly used in a 2014 hack of Sony. (The Sony attack was falsely attributed to North Korea.)

Researchers Identify Clue Connecting Ransomware Assault to Group Tied to North Korea

Neel Mehta, a security researcher at Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit, on Monday pointed out similarities between that earlier WannaCry variant and code used in a series of attacks that security specialists have attributed to the Lazarus group.

The "Lazerus group" (which probably does not exist at all) was attributed to North Korean state agencies. Six paragraphs later we learn that the "similarities" were found in often reused code:

Cont. reading: One Day, Three Serious News Stories That Turn Out To Be False

Posted by b at 03:25 AM | Comments (96)

May 15, 2017

State Department: Renamed Al-Qaeda Not A Terrorist Organization - Can Receive CIA Supplies

Max Abrams, a professor who works about terrorism, came up with this new definition of "terrorism":

Nonstate actors who use violence against civilians for a political goal and haven't been supported by the US.

The highlighted part is "new" to those who have not learned from history and the many occasions of U.S. support for (typically extremely right-wing) terrorist organizations like the "contras" in Nicaragua, OUN fascists in Ukraine or Jihadi Mujahedin in Afghanistan. It can indeed be argued that the U.S. created al-Qaeda as well as the Islamic State (ISIS).

But lets just be happy that people get again reminded of the issue.

Prof. Adams remark came after a report by the Canadian CBC which found that the U.S. has not designated al-Qaeda's recently renamed organization in Syria as a "foreign terrorist entity". HTS rules (vid) the Syrian city and governate of Idleb.

The U.S. offered a $10,000,000 reward (official pdf) for Abu Muhammad al-Joulani the founder al Al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al-Nusra aka Jabhat Fatah al-Sham). But newly again renamed organization which he leads as the official military commander, the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is not on any U.S. (and Canadian) terrorist entity list:

The Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, currently calling itself Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has succeeded in getting itself off Canada's list of designated terrorist entities following its latest identity shift.
...
[I]n January of this year, the group shifted again, nominally dissolving itself and joining with four other jihadi groups. It altered its name, changing the word "Jabhat" (Front) to "Hay'at" (Organization), and "Fateh" (Conquest) to "Tahrir" (Liberation).
...
The State Department did issue a statement in March, in Arabic only, branding HTS a terrorist group. But the State Department's Nicole Thompson told CBC that was a mistake.

"Though closely affiliated with al-Nusra, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham is not a designated terrorist organization," she said in an email. "The statement you found should have said al-Nusrah Front and has been corrected."

Al-Nusra, however, no longer exists.

The non-designation will make it more difficult to prosecute members and supporters of the organization. Donations and other support to HTS are now legal. While Nusra and HTS had claimed to no longer be part of al-Qaeda (but never retracted their oath to it), scholars within those organization frequently argue for publicly admit the connection. No professional working on the issue denies that HTS is part of al-Qaeda and a terrorist group. But, apparently, the U.S. State Department does.

The CBC speculates why HTS is not (or no longer) designated:

Cont. reading: State Department: Renamed Al-Qaeda Not A Terrorist Organization - Can Receive CIA Supplies

Posted by b at 10:12 AM | Comments (78)

May 14, 2017

CentCom Breaks "Safe Passage" Deal - Making Its Allies Bleed For It

On Friday the U.S. "Inherent Resolve" command of its operations in Syria and Iraq released an statement that points to unnecessary intensified fighting about the city of Raqqa and elsewhere.

SAC and SDF Liberate Tabqah

The Syrian Arab Coalition and their Syrian Democratic Force partners completed the liberation of the Tabqah Dam, as well as the city of Tabqah and its nearby airfield May 10.
...
In Tabqah, the SDF's increased pressure on ISIS from each flank allowed it to accelerate the pace of the fight, clear the final neighborhoods of the city, and isolate Tabqah Dam.

Approximately 70 ISIS fighters conceded to the SDF's terms, which included the dismantling of IEDs surrounding the dam, the surrender of all ISIS heavy weapons, and the forced withdrawal of all remaining fighters from Tabqah City.

The SDF accepted ISIS's surrender of the city to protect innocent civilians and to protect the Tabqah dam infrastructure which hundreds of thousands of Syrians rely on for water, agriculture, and electricity.

(The "Syrian Arab Coalition" is U.S. propaganda parlance for its own forces in the area. That force is part of its Central Command. The "Syrian Democratic Force" are predominantly fighters of the Syrian-Kurdish YPG and a few U.S. special forces embedded with them.)

The Kurdish forces obviously made a deal with the ISIS rearguard. They offered safe passage (safe conduct) to the ISIS fighters if those would dismantled their demolition charges on the Tabqa dam and leave their heavy weapons behind. The ISIS group accepted and fulfilled its part of the deal. The dam was saved. The ISIS forces withdrew.

The Kurdish commander had made the right decision. Any fighting around, on or within the dam structure could have led to a catastrophic dam failure which would have killed ten-thousands (at least) further down the Euphrates.

The next line in the U.S. press release is therefore ominous:

Cont. reading: CentCom Breaks "Safe Passage" Deal - Making Its Allies Bleed For It

Posted by b at 09:49 AM | Comments (74)

May 12, 2017

Syria - "The regime will be there" - U.S. Concedes Raqqa ... And The Syrian East?

There are strong rumors that the U.S. intends to launch an invasion of east-Syria from Jordan with the aim of occupying the whole eastern area. The Syrian army and its allies launched a move towards the east (red) to prevent such an outcome.


bigger

A new Wall Street Journal piece, primarily about the ISIS held city of Raqqa on the Euphrates, casts doubt on long term U.S. plans for such an occupation. Its core quote:

"We won’t be in Raqqa in 2020, but the regime will be there."

There were already doubts that a big U.S. move in east-Syria was really going to happen. Jordan opposes any such move. While the U.S. and Jordan have trained, equipped and paid Syrian "rebels" to hold a zone of control in south-west Syria, little preparations have been seen for a large move in the south-east. The U.S. has so far vetted and trained at most 2,000 local Arab fighters in the area. Fewer are ready to go. Even with U.S. special forces embedded with them these forces are way too small to take an ISIS defended city or to capture or to hold a significant area. At least ten to twenty thousand troops would be needed (likely more) for such an endeavor. The current force is probably only tasked with taking a few border stations to close down the border between Syria and Iraq. (A move that Syrian and Iraqi forces will try to prevent.)

The upcoming taking of Raqqa by U.S. forces and its Kurdish proxies is now endorsed by the Syrian government and its Russian allies. It seems that an agreement has been made without any public announcement. This agreement may well extend to the other eastern areas south of Raqqa. From the WSJ:

Cont. reading: Syria - "The regime will be there" - U.S. Concedes Raqqa ... And The Syrian East?

Posted by b at 10:37 AM | Comments (77)

May 11, 2017

Tunnel With Radioactive Waste Collapses - No Real Solution In Sight

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is said to be the most polluted site in the United States. Part of it are the ruins of PUREX, a Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility that has been used to produce Plutonium for nuclear weapons from World War II on throughout the Cold War. Extracting Plutonium from used Uranium fuel is a chemical process hat leaves aggressive and highly radioactive waste.

On Tuesday an incident occurred at the the site. A sinkhole appeared above an old railroad tunnel which is full of radioactive equipment. Workers are now filling the hole with 50 truckloads of dirt. Officials claim that no release of chemicals or radioactivity occurred.

The old railroad tunnel at the side has been used to store radioactive machinery and fuel containers:

Railroad cars loaded with contaminated equipment were backed into the tunnel by a remotely operated engine and left there, with the door eventually sealed closed.

Radiation levels of wastes stored there would be lethal to humans within an hour, according to Heart of America Northwest, a Seattle-based Hanford watchdog group.

The tunnel was used from 1960 to 1965. In 1964 a longer and more reinforced tunnel was added at PUREX.

The original tunnel offers little protection:

The rail tunnel was built in 1956 out of timber, concrete and steel, topped by 8 feet of dirt. It was 360 feet long (110 meters).

Competent engineers built these tunnels.

(/snark)

Still, it is likely that problems with these tunnels will increase over time. Theys need immediate attention. Unfortunately not everyone is of that opinion:

Cont. reading: Tunnel With Radioactive Waste Collapses - No Real Solution In Sight

Posted by b at 05:37 AM | Comments (71)

May 10, 2017

Trump Fires FBI Boss James Comey - About Time ...

President Trump dismissed the Director of the FBI James Comey on recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General, who had served under Obama, and the Attorney General. The dismissal and the recommendation memos can be read here.

Comey is accused of usurping the Attorney General's authority on several occasions. In July 2016 Comey decided and publicly announced the closing of the Clinton email-investigations without a recommendation of prosecution. He publicly announced the reopening of the investigation in October only to close it again a few days later.

At the first closing of the investigation Comey held a press conference and said:

“our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

That, by far, exceeded his competency, Since when can a police officer decide how "reasonable" a prosecutor may or may not be, and make public announcements about that? Clinton's running of a private email server broke several laws. Anyone but she would have been prosecuted at least for breaching secrecy and security regulations.

It is not the job of the police to decide about prosecutions. The police is an investigating agent of the public prosecutors office. It can make recommendations about prosecutions but not decide about them. Recommendations are to be kept confidential until they are decided upon by the relevant authority - the prosecutor. There are additional issues with Comey. His agents used sting or rather entrapment to lure many hapless idiots into committing "ISIS terror acts". A full two thirds of such acts in the U.S. would not have developed without FBI help. Comey himself had signed off on Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The formal dismissal of Comey is, in my view, the right thing to do. It should have been done earlier.

But the political dimension of the dismissal is not about the Clinton email affair at all. It is about the "Russia interfered with the election" nonsense Clinton invented as excuse for her self-inflicted loss of the vote. The whole anti-Trump/anti-Russia campaign run by neocons and "Resistance" democrats, is designed to block the foreign policy - detente with Russia - for which Trump was elected. The anti-Russia inquisition is dangerous groupthink.

There is no evidence - none at all - that Russia "interfered" with the U.S. election. There is no evidence - none at all - that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign. The Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the Judiciary Committee as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, recently confirmed that publicly (vid) immediately after she had again been briefed by the CIA:

Blitzer mentioned that Feinstein and other colleagues from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had visited CIA headquarters on Tuesday to be briefed on the investigation. He then asked Feinstein whether she had evidence, without disclosing any classified information, that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"Not at this time," Feinstein said.

Blitzer was stunned.


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There is no evidence. But the FBI Director kept an investigation open on the issue and talked about it. He did not make any recommendation to the prosecutors. After six months of investigation the FBI had no evidence for any of the rumors about Russian interference that were thrown around. It should have closed the case with a clear recommendation not to prosecute the issue. (That the former Trump NSA General Flynn once took money for a gig at Russia Today is a non-issue. He took ten times as much money from Turkey but no one seems to be interested in the background of that deal.)

That Comey kept the case open was political interference from his side. Hearings and public rumors about the case blocked the political calendar. Instead of following the facts, and deciding based upon them, he was himself running a political campaign. John Edgar Hoover demonstrated how much damage an unrestricted FBI director on political witch hunt can cause. No such dictatorial power should ever again be vested in that position and in a person who is prone to exceed his competencies.

The Clinton partisans and the Russia hawks will howl about Trump's decision for a day or two. They fear losing their current hobby horse. They will soon find a different one.

Posted by b at 03:40 AM | Comments (109)

May 09, 2017

Syria: The New Government Plans For Moving East

The de-escalation agreement for four fighting zones in Syria has come into effect. The battles between Syrian government forces (red) and the foreign supported "rebels" (yellow) has ebbed in the north, in Idleb and north Hama, in the south round Deraa, around the besieged "rebel" enclaves north of Homs and east of Damascus in east-Ghouta. That does not mean that those areas are peaceful or safe. In the north Turkey is scrimishing with U.S. supported Kurds (purple), in Deraa governate ISIS is infighting with other Jihadi "rebels" and in east-Ghouta various "rebel" groups are trying to eliminate each other.

This de-escalation has freed up Syrian government forces which are now repositioning for a large attack through south-east Syria towards Deir-Ezzor and the Iraqi border. One axis of the attack will be from the capital to the east along the Damascus-Baghdad highway towards the Iraqi border. Another one will aim from Palmyra east through Sukhnah towards Deir Ezzor. (Roughly painted as red arrows on the map).


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This terrain in-between is largely desert with only a few villages and some oil installations on the way. Large distances can be covert within a few hours. Fighting against ISIS (aka the Islamic State, grey) will be limited to the few build up areas. But the long "lines of communication", i.e. the supply roads, will be under constant danger of raids from roving ISIS militants and possibly U.S. airplanes.

In parallel to the two large attacks smaller operations (sketched as green arrows on the map) will proceed to eliminate ISIS and "rebel" forces near the government held western heartland. The current U.S.-Kurdish operation against ISIS in Raqqa is pushing ISIS elements towards those western government areas. The (green) "secure the realms" operations are designed to surround and eliminate all enemy areas to the west of the line and to prevent further infiltration into core areas.

The south-eastern desert is currently held by the Islamic State. But U.S. supported "rebel" forces and regular U.S. army troops threaten to take the area in a large attack launched from east Jordan towards the north and onto Raqqa. The build up of such a force has been reported several times and likely has some truth to it. (Though recently published photos of a Jordan armor depot some 50 kilometers from the border are probably unrelated. The depot has existed with nearly the same amount of armor since at least 2010.)

It would be quite risky for Jordan to take part or even allow such a large military operation in Syria. ISIS has infiltrated refugee camps in and near Jordan and has a substantial following within the country. But Jordan depends on U.S. and Gulf country money and can only reject their demands to a certain degree.

Should the U.S. military decide to take all of east-Syria by moving in from Jordan it will come into conflict with the Syrian (red arrow) forces pushing east. These Syrian movements will be accompanied by Russian military elements. Any collision of these maneuver groups could lead to serious escalations.

I doubt that U.S. President Trump has a personal interest in any move in Syria beyond the taking of Raqqa, He needs that success together with the taking of Mosul in Iraq from ISIS for propaganda purposes. Taking Raqqa will be difficult enough. The U.S.-Kurdish forces are still skirmishing ISIS around Taqba city and its dam, (some 30 kilometers from Raqqa) and the Kurds want further political concessions before moving on. Any additional "nation building" will hamper Trump's other political aims.

The military hawks in his government and in the Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia are aiming further. It is now the National Security Advisor General McMaster who is pushing for regime change in Syria. The recent U.S. cruise missile attack on the Syrian Shayrat air base which was predominantly used to fight ISIS was McMaster's plan. But it seems that McMaster is now disliked by Trump and the inner White House circles. There is thus some hope that he will leave soon. The Syrian Foreign Minister already detects some change in the U.S. attitude towards the situation in Syria.

The plans of the Syrian government and its allies make sense. But the large moves towards the east can only proceed if the de-escalation schemes in the west keep the battlefields there relative quiet. This again depends on Turkey's willingness to blockade new weapon flows towards the "rebels" and al-Qaeda especially in north Syria. The Turkish President Erdogan is known for turning on a dime. The Gulf countries will offer him huge bribes to spoil the de-escalation. Russia is offering a pipeline which promises long term profits. It is hard to know which bribe he will prefer and which side he will -in the end- decide to support.

Posted by b at 04:49 AM | Comments (64)

May 08, 2017

The New President Of France ...

The new President Of France ...


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... and some youngster receiving her advice.

Posted by b at 01:11 AM | Comments (161)

May 07, 2017

Open Thread 2017-18

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:30 PM | Comments (111)

May 06, 2017

Elections In France

Many readers here will likely be more versed in the intrigues of the elections in France than I am.

It seems clear so far the the synthetic Rothschild candidate will win this round.

But what will be the long-term outcome in the epic fight of globalists versus nationalists - in France, in Europe and elsewhere?

 

Posted by b at 03:46 AM | Comments (135)

May 05, 2017

Reuters Attempts "Open Source" Analysis - Perilous Fail Ensues

The news agency Reuters/Thomson snitches on North Korean ship movements to suggest how sanctions could mess up commerce between North Korea (DPRK) and China.

China’s grip on North Korea’s economy

The Trump administration has pressured China to do more to rein in North Korea, which sends most of its exports to its giant neighbour across the Yellow Sea. We take a look at the impact of China’s recent ban on North Korean coal and other ways Pyongyang relies on China. - May 4, 2017

But the data Reuters uses is unreliable and the news agency is drawing dubious conclusions from it. Such reporting by an official news agency can easily lead to wrong assumptions in the political sphere and to unhelpful if not dangerous policies.

Reuters uses public available data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) of DPRK ships to identify their destination and load conditions, But the only "automatic" data AIS is transmitting from the ship's transponder to other ships and land stations is position, direction and speed. Even these can be spoofed or be wrong for various reasons. Other AIS data is entered manually into the AIS systems and is often false. Wikipedia notes of AIS data types:

Message 5: Static and Voyage Related Data - Gives information on a ship and its trip - One of the few messages whose data is entered by hand. This information includes static data such as a ship's length, width, draught, as well as the ship's intended destination

Using open source data Reuters looks at ships involved in coal exports from the DPRK to China using AIS derived data.


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Of the North Korean vessel Hae Bang San it writes:

Cont. reading: Reuters Attempts "Open Source" Analysis - Perilous Fail Ensues

Posted by b at 04:51 AM | Comments (50)

May 04, 2017

How Anand Gopal Directed People To Join ISIS And Shills For "Regime Change" In Syria

Anand Gopal built his career as a writer with on the ground reporting from Afghanistan where he embedded with the Taliban. He gave some insight into their motivations.

Anand Gopal is now a shill for the U.S. "regime change" crimes in Syria. He is also attempting to justify the existence and crimes of ISIS by attributing those to a "legit" motivation. That is a convenient excuse for those who join ISIS.

People joined ISIS because of the "sheer brutality of the Assad regime" Gopal asserts. They joined ISIS in Iraq, in Libya, in Mali and Afghanistan for the "sheer brutality of the Assad regime"? They blew themselves up in Paris, London and elsewhere for the "sheer brutality of the Assad regime"? That claim is obviously not only simplistic but utter nonsense.

There is however reason to believe that people joined ISIS in Syria is because the "western" media hyped ISIS by promulgating its propaganda, found excuses for its crimes and because Anand Gopal directed them [*see update below] to advice on how to travel to Syria to join ISIS:

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In his recent interview with Democracy Now Gopal makes several assertions that are completely contradicted by the public and historic record and are thus evidently lies:

Cont. reading: How Anand Gopal Directed People To Join ISIS And Shills For "Regime Change" In Syria

Posted by b at 02:01 AM | Comments (118)

May 03, 2017

Syria Summary - A New Russian Proposal And A Battle For The South

Russia is extremely active in search of a diplomatic way forward in the Syria conflict. Last month talks were held in Russia with the Syrian foreign minister and the Iranian foreign minister. New plans were discussed and agreed upon.

A few days ago Russia's foreign minister had talks with the U.S. Secretary of State. This week a visit of Merkel to Putin followed. On the same day Putin had a phone-call with Trump. A new round of the Astana piece talks under Russian sponsorship with the Syrian opposition and a Syrian government delegation is ongoing. (Unlike before the U.S. dispatched a high State Department official to this round.) Today Putin met with the Turkish president Erdogan.

Russia is offering a proposal for "de-escalation zones":

According to the documents obtained by Sputnik, Russia proposed to set up four security zones — in the Idlib province, to the north of the city of Homs, in Eastern Ghouta and in the south of the country.

The rough draft offers:

  • - de-escalation zones aimed to "put an immediate end to the violence" and "to provide conditions for safe, voluntary return of refugees"
  • - security zones or buffers created around the de-escalation zones with checkpoints and monitoring centers manned by Syrian government troops and "rebels"
  • - military units from unspecified "observer countries" could be deployed to these security zones
  • - Turkey, Iran and Russia are named as as guarantors and will create a joint working group immediately after the de-escalation is agreed upon between the Syrian parties.

The crux with the proposal is of course al-Qaeda which rules in Idleb and is also an important power in the other areas. Russia offers the de-escalation zones as a way to further negotiations and settlement only under the condition that al-Qaeda is eliminated from the zones. In the press conference with Erdogan Putin emphasized this position:

"About terrorists, in spite of creation of these zones the war on terror will be ongoing - against such organizations as so-called Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and those ones that are put on the list of terrorist organizations approved by the United Nations," Putin said.

But by now the "rebels" are to a large part associated with Jabhat al-Nusra aka al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda terrorist hardcore is the backbone of their army. The U.S. sees al-Qaeda, at least temporarily, as a valuable proxy. They will surely not agree to give up on that.

Cont. reading: Syria Summary - A New Russian Proposal And A Battle For The South

Posted by b at 01:39 PM | Comments (78)

May 02, 2017

Enemies Are Always Dictators - Talking With Them Is Unpresidential

Welcoming and supporting dictators who act in U.S. interests is the usual behavior of any U.S. president. U.S. media support such.


Obama greeting the hereditary dictator of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev

But when Trump talks and meets some head of state who works for the interests of his own country, he is breaking some iron rule of established U.S. foreign policy. In FP-circles  "talking with the enemy" is seen as sincere crime. Trump invited the duly elected president of Philippine Rodrigo Duerte and mused casually about meeting the DPRK head of state Kim Jong-il. Both are seen as insufficiently deferring to U.S. diktats.

Thus someone in Washington DC ordered up a media campaign depicting Donald Trump as coddling dictators.

The Washington Post responded with an op-ed and an "analysis". Both border on satire:

Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates

As he settles into office, President Trump’s affection for totalitarian leaders has grown beyond Russia’s president to include strongmen around the globe.
...
In an undeniable shift in American foreign policy, Trump is cultivating authoritarian leaders, one after another, in an effort to reset relations following an era of ostracism and public shaming by Obama and his predecessors.
...
Every American president since at least the 1970s has used his office [at least occasionally*] to champion human rights and democratic values around the world.
...
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “This is a man who has boasted publicly about killing his own citizens,” Cardin said of Duterte in a statement. “The United States is unique in the world because our values — respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law — are our interests. Ignoring human rights will not advance U.S. interests in the Philippines or any place else. Just the opposite.”
[* the words "at least occasionally" were added only after the original piece was mocked on Twitter and elsewhere.]

Yes, the U.S. of course never ignored human rights in the Philippines... (/snark)

There surely is a certain "uniqueness" in U.S. global political behavior. But its is certainly not engagement for "human rights". It is exactly the opposite. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked about a blood dictator: "Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."

The NYT joins today's anti-Trump/anti-Duerte campaign with an editorial and a racist cartoon:

The United States has long seen itself as a beacon of democracy and a global advocate of human rights and the rule of law. It has faltered, sometimes badly, undermining leaders whose views did not fit its strategic objectives and replacing them with pliant despots. Yet for the most part American presidents, Republican and democratic, have believed that the United States should provide a moral compass to the world, encouraging people to pursue their right to self-government and human dignity and rebuking foreign leaders who fall short.

Who believes such marketing bullshit? Fact is that the U.S. has always coddled dictators as long as they did what it asked them to do. Clinton, Bush, Obama all welcomed various theocratic sheiks and murderous dictators at the White House. Since World War II the U.S. has attempted or succeeded in "regime change" over 50 times. It did not care if those countries were dictatorships or staunch democracies like France or Australia. In fact none of these illegal interference was motivated by "human rights". Many succeeded in eliminating progressive democracies by installing murderous right-wing regimes.

Bush invaded Iraq based of lies willingly peddled by the New York Time and the Washington Post. Obama directly ordered American citizens killed by drones and without any legal procedure. U.S. police shoot dozens of innocent each year, but when drug dealers get killed in a Philippine police raid its elected president is called a "strongman". Meanwhile U.S. they U.S. directed war on drugs in Mexico has killed thousands.

It is obviously helpful for U.S. interest when its president meets and proselytizes those who are not fully on the U.S. side. One makes peace with one's enemies, not with friends. But such logic does work in the establishment's deluded minds.

Any head of state disliked by the establishment is called a strongman, totalitarian, autocrat or dictator. The real reason for such characterization has nothing to do with democracy, elections or "human rights". It is rather the "thuggish anti-American behavior" of some leader as one U.S. imperialist calls it. "Thuggish anti-American behavior" is automatically attributed to any head of state who works foremost in the interests of his own country.

What do writers and editors like the above think when they peddle such mythology? They know that it is evidently contradicted by facts their own papers report on other occasions.

George Orwell called this "doublethink", the ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs in one's mind and to accept both of them. Is that not just another form of insanity?

Posted by b at 10:33 AM | Comments (61)

May 01, 2017

May 1st - International Labor Day

Posted by b at 02:18 PM | Comments (39)

April 30, 2017

Dumb And Vile - Independent Falls For Prank, Smears Other Journalists

The British daily Independent falls for a hilarious prank. It interprets some random lines on a picture of the Okay-gesture as a political message. Having thus failed it builds on its own stupidity to smear other outlets and journalists.

The anonymous Internet message board 4chan.org is well known for hilarious stunts played on ignorants and naive Internet novices.

4chan users have been instrumental in pranks such as hijacking Internet destinations to cause images of Rick Astley to appear in place of their content, coordinating attacks against other websites and Internet users, and posting threats of violence in order to elicit individual and public reactions. The Guardian once summarized the 4chan community as "lunatic, juvenile [...] brilliant, ridiculous and alarming."

In February 2017 some users of the 4chan sub-board for political incorrect stuff /pol/ launched a prank campaign to convince people that the "okay" hand-gesture, widely used with positive connotation, actually stands for White Power. The OK gesture is not cultural universal, but it is also not racist in any way or form:

The gesture is widely used to mean "all is well" or "good". Where the word "OK" may mean a thing is merely satisfactory or mediocre, as in "the food was OK", the gesture is commonly understood as a signal of approval, and is sometimes used synonymously with the Western "thumbs up" gesture.


One of hundreds of OK-sign stock photo: "Happy executive man"

Then 4chan starts its prank:

Cont. reading: Dumb And Vile - Independent Falls For Prank, Smears Other Journalists

Posted by b at 05:16 AM | Comments (65)

April 29, 2017

"If You Take East-Syria, I'll Take That Yemeni Port"

Will the U.S. leave Syria if doing so prevents a Russian fleet in Yemen?

The question seems weird but if Russia succeeds with its negotiations in Yemen it will soon have to be asked.

A U.S. neoconservative outlet recently published an interesting but mostly unsourced bit about Yemen:

Russia is mediating negotiations for a political solution to the Yemen conflict outside of UN channels as a means to secure naval bases in Yemen. Russia is pursuing political negotiations with the UAE and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh by beginning to discuss the future consensus Yemeni government. Saleh’s support for the Houthis is critical for the al Houthi-Saleh bloc to retain its influence across northern and central Yemen. The UAE may see this settlement as a way to halt the expansion of Iran’s influence in Yemen and to limit bearing further costs associated with the Yemeni war. Saleh previously expressed willingness to grant Russia military basing rights in Yemen. This basing would allow Russia to project power into one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Bab al Mandab strait, a global maritime chokepoint.

Back in August 2016 the former Yemeni president Saleh had indeed made an offer to Russia:

"In the fight against terrorism we reach out and offer all facilities. Our airports, our ports... We are ready to provide this to the Russian Federation," Saleh said in an interview in Sanaa.

No one (but Russia?) took Saleh serious at that time. He was not, and is not, in a position to achieve control over Aden in southern Yemen nor any other relevant Yemeni port.

I also doubted the recent report. Yes, until the early 1990s the Soviet Union had bases in southern Yemen and thousands of military advisers and trainers worked in the country. But Russia currently does not have the naval resources, nor the immediate interest, to open a new base in the area. Or so I thought.

But a well-informed source in Yemen dispelled my doubts. It confirmed the report. Russia is negotiating with the UAE, the Houthi/Saleh alliance and the various southern groups in Yemen over a peace deal and has been doing so for the last six month. The deal would include Russian naval basing rights in Aden.


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The red lights must be flashing at CENTCOM, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. For the last twenty-five years the Arab Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea were largely U.S. controlled waters. That China recently opened an "anti-piracy" base in Djibouti has already led to concerns. Now the Russians are coming!!!

Cont. reading: "If You Take East-Syria, I'll Take That Yemeni Port"

Posted by b at 12:30 PM | Comments (42)

April 28, 2017

Open Thread 2017-17

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:10 PM | Comments (187)

April 27, 2017

How Bio-Weapons Led To Torture ... And North Korean Nukes

In Why North Korea Needs Nukes - And How To End That we pointed to the utter destruction the U.S. and its allies waged in the war on Korea on all parts of the country. That North Korea seeks "weapons of mass destruction" is quite understandable when one takes into account the hundreds of thousands tons of napalm used against it. But even Napalm and the criminal destruction of North Korean dams were not the worst depravation the U.S. applied. Biological warfare agents, primarily anthrax, were dropped over North Korea and China and killed civilians. The U.S./UN command denied such use and covered it up. One consequence of that cover up was the development of torture methods in the U.S. SERE pilot training programs and their later proliferation into criminal abuses in Guantanamo, Abu Graibh and elsewhere. An important piece of evidence of this trail was recently and for the first time re-published on the web

In the 1950s war on Korea heavy air to air fights were waged near the Chinese border which led to significant losses of airplane on both sides especially along the MiG Alley:

USAF pilots nicknamed April 12, 1951 "Black Thursday", after 30 MiG-15s attacked three squadrons of B-29 bombers (36 planes) escorted by approximately 100 F-80s and F-84s. The MiGs were fast enough to engage the B-29s and extend away from their escorts. Three B-29s were shot down and seven more were damaged, with no casualties on the communist side.

On "Black Thursday" and other occasions U.S. bomber pilots were captured. Some of them admitted to have dropped biological weapons over China and northern Korea. Their confessions were published in writing and publicized on Korean, Chinese and Russian radio.

The U.S. (UN) command under U.S. General MacArthur denied any use of biological warfare agents. It claimed that the downed pilots were tortured to give false confessions.

Since World War II the U.S. Airforce and Navy had established training courses in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) for pilots that might be captured by enemies. During these courses interrogations were staged to provide realistic training. After the Korea War anti-torture training was added. Torture of "prisoners" was "simulated" with the trainees. Decades later, during the war of terror and on Iraq, the CIA hired two psychologists as "behavioral science consultants" from the SERE training staff to teach its agents how to use torture on prisoners. The absolutely inhuman and dangerous methods those SERE "experts" devised proliferated to the U.S. military which, together with the CIA, used them on alleged enemy combatants in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other places.

According to the Senate Armed Services Committee Report (pdf) on U.S. torturing of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and CIA black sites, SERE techniques originated in Chinese Communist methods in the Korean War employed to extract false confessions from captured U.S. personal.

(During the 1960s the CIA itself developed additional "scientific" torture methods and published them in the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation and Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual. U.S. personal as well as several south American militia were trained in and used these abusive and illegal methods.)

Cont. reading: How Bio-Weapons Led To Torture ... And North Korean Nukes

Posted by b at 08:47 AM | Comments (107)

April 25, 2017

Turkish Airstrikes On Kurds Complicate U.S. Operations In Iraq And Syria

A few hour ago the Turkish airforce hit Kurdish and Yezidi positons on both sides of the Singal mountains in east-Syria and west-Iraq. Near Derik in east-Syria more than 20 bombs destroyed a YPG headquarter, a radio station and a media center. At least nine YPK fighters were killed. The YPG is the Syrian sister organization of the Kurdish PKK in Turkey. The PKK is a designated terrorist organization. Within Syria U.S. special forces are embedded with the YPG and are coordinating YPG moves against the Islamic State in Raqqa. YPK and PKK follow the anarcho-marxist theories of their leader Abdullah Öcalan who is in isolation detention in Turkey.

The Turkish airstrike in Iraq hit YPG and Peshmerga positions near Shingal where they protect a displaced person camp of Yezidis. The Yezidis are an ancient religious minority. The Peshmerga are the main Kurdish militia in Iraq. They are controlled by Kurdish regional government. At least five Peshmerga fighters, all followers of Barzani clan, were killed and several more wounded. The Barzani family holds all important position in Iraq's Kurdistan - president, premier, intelligence chief and several others. Its election mandate has long run out but it simply ignores the regional parliament and rules through force and bribes. The Barzani clan is allied with Turkey and the U.S. It allows the Turkish army to operate several bases within its area. The U.S. is operating from Erbil airport in the Iraqi-Kurdish area. The oil pumped from wells in the Kurdish area is sold by the Barzanis to Turkey. The Turkish hit on Barzani fighters is deeply embarrassing for them and may incite new protest against the Barzani' quasi dictatorship.

The YPK is training Yezidi self defense forces. This is against the Barzanis' interest who sees their monopoly force in the area endangered.

Turkey is a U.S. ally and the U.S. has several bases in Turkey which it uses to fight the Islamic State. The U.S. is also allied and operates with the YPG in Syria and the Peshmerga of the Barzani clan in Iraq. The airspace in east Syria and north-west Iraq supposedly under U.S. control. There will be some serious explaining to do why the U.S. did not prevent one of its allies from bombing its other allies. Did it agree to this Turkish attack? Either way U.S. operation in the area will experience new difficulties.

Turkey has also threatened to invade the Kurdish held areas in east-Syria at Tal Abjad to move onto Raqqa and thereby split the Kurdish held areas.


Map by Winep - bigger

The primary winner of these Turkish operations is the Islamic State.

The YPK is now likely to divert forces from the U.S. led attack on the Islamic State in Raqqa to protect against further Turkish adventures. The PKK within Turkey may restart its guerrilla campaign against the Turkish military. The Barzani clan will come under renewed pressure by Kurdish people in Iraq as well as by the Iraqi government to loosen its ties with Turkey. All sides will blame the U.S. and its operations against Syria and the Islamic State.

The whole mess in Syria and Iraq thus becomes even more complicate than it already was.

Posted by b at 04:05 AM | Comments (102)

April 24, 2017

Syria Summary - U.S. Moves To Cut Off The East - But For What?

The situation in the north-west Syria is turning favor of the Syrian government, though much work needs to be done. The army is recovering new ground in Hama governate and an intense bombing campaign is waged over Idelb governate which is held by al-Qaeda. As an analyst generally in favor of the opposition concedes:

Continued support for the northwest insurgency amounts to effectively subsidizing a jihadist safe haven in the Levant.
...
The proxy war against the Syrian regime in the northwest, for the West, is lost.

The head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, agrees. He tells his forces in Syria stop holding land and to revert to guerilla war:

Ayman al-Zawahri told the jihadis, who control Syria's northwestern Idlib province and other territory, to remain steadfast and change tactics in order to wage guerrilla war.

Al-Qaida began fighting alongside Syria's rebels early in the civil war and won allies among the opposition because of its military prowess. Al-Qaida's official branch, the Nusra Front, changed its name to the Fatah al-Sham Front and formally cut ties with al-Qaida last year, but is still widely seen as being linked to the global terror network.


Map via ISW - bigger

In the south-west Israel is trying to steal another part of the Golan Heights by giving fire support for al-Qaeda groups which fight against the Syrian army in the area.

Attacks by "moderate rebels" in the south, supported by the U.S. and Jordan, have failed to take ground in the city of Deraa. They need to take the city to have some anchor for an "independent" southern "safe zone" from which the U.S. proxies could then threaten Damascus.

Cont. reading: Syria Summary - U.S. Moves To Cut Off The East - But For What?

Posted by b at 01:48 PM | Comments (84)

April 23, 2017

Poll: The Democratic Party Is In Deep Trouble

After the presidential election the Democratic Party and its supporting media pushed unreasonable stories of secret Russian support for Trump's election as a main reason for Clinton's loss. The party avoided to discuss the real reasons: an unpopular candidate and its out-of-touch polices.

The diversion attempt failed. That is at least what I read from a just published ABC News/Washington Post poll:

[T]he national survey [...] finds some brighter spots for the president –- chiefly in pushing for jobs and in foreign policy [...]
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[The poll] finds no evidence of buyer's remorse among Trump supporters. Among those who report having voted for him in November, 96 percent today say it was the right thing to do; a mere 2 percent regret it.
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In March 2014, 48 percent of Americans said the Democratic Party was out of touch with the concerns of most people. Today 67 percent say so. And the biggest change has occurred chiefly among the party's own typical loyalists, with "out of touch" ratings up 33 points among liberals, 30 points among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 26 points among moderates and nonwhites alike.
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Among Americans who say they voted in the 2016 election, 46 percent say they voted for Hillary Clinton and 43 percent for Trump, very close to the 2-point margin in the actual popular vote results. However, while Trump would retain almost all of his support if the election were held again today (96 percent), fewer of Clinton's supporters say they’d stick with her (85 percent), producing a 40-43 percent Clinton-Trump result in this hypothetical re-do among self-reported 2016 voters.

The people are not falling for the Democratic Party scam of "Russian interference". They obviously see the fault where it belongs. Unless the party shuns its Clinton/Obama legacy and reengages in voter-oriented politics it is likely to fail again and again.

And no - promoting Chelsea Clinton will not do anything good at all.

Posted by b at 10:25 AM | Comments (78)

April 22, 2017

Open Thread 2017-16

News & views ...

Posted by b at 09:23 AM | Comments (141)

April 21, 2017

U.S.: 'No doubt' That Villain-Of-The-Day Has Banned Weapons

Mattis: 'No doubt' Syrian regime has chemical weapons, April 21, 2017

"There can be no doubt in the international community's mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt," Mattis told reporters.

Full text of Dick Cheney's speech, August 27, 2002

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors ...

“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”

― Edmund Burke

Posted by b at 01:04 PM | Comments (85)

April 20, 2017

Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

Those who blame the Syrian government for the allegedly chemical incident in Khan Sheikhun on April 4 are now playing up the analysis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). But the results of the OPCW tests are inconsistent with all observed and reported technical and medical facts of the incident.

Yesterday the OPCW Director General Ambassador Üzümcü, a Turkish career diplomat and former Turkish ambassador to NATO,  released the first analytic results of the OPCW investigation into the Khan Sheikhun incident:

The bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsy were analysed at two OPCW designated laboratories. The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. Bio-medical samples from seven individuals undergoing treatment at hospitals were also analysed in two other OPCW designated laboratories. Similarly, the results of these analyses indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: “The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

"Sarin or Sarin-like substance" is noted three times a row. Sarin is also mentioned in the headline. The OPCW director is pushing that meme - hard.

But the OPCW did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred in Khan Sheikhun. It suggested nothing about the incident itself. It only talked about bio-medical samples of several persons - nothing more, nothing less. It also did not give any hint of how much exposure the persons in question received. Was it a minimal traceable amount that had no effect on them or did they die from it? The OPCW does not say.

The Russian foreign ministry claims that "western" powers within the OPCW block a full-scale investigation of the incident.

The "sarin like substances" the OPCW mentions could be a different chemical weapon than sarin - soman is a possible candidate. It would be more consistent with the "smell" several witnesses described after the incident (Sarin is odorless). Many general insecticides belong to the same class of chemicals as sarin and soman. They are all organophosphorus compounds. (Sarin was originally developed as an insecticide). All of such compounds could be a source of the exposure found by the OPCW. These chemicals degrade within hours or days. A forensic analysis will not find the original substance but only decomposition products of some organophosporus compound. That is the reason why the OPCW result is not fixed on sarin but also mentions "sarin like substances".

Another question is where those samples come from. Who "collected" them? When? Where? And what is the chain of evidence that connects the samples to the incident? The OPCW has not send an investigation team to Khan Sheikhun. No samples were taken in Khan Sheikhun by its own inspectors. While Russia and Syria have asked for OPCW inspections on the ground, Tahrir al-Sham, the renamed al-Qaeda in Syria which controls the Khan Sheikhun area, has not asked for inspectors. Without its agreement any investigation mission is perceived as too dangerous. None of the OPCW inspectors is interested in literally losing his head to those terrorists.

Al-Qaeda propaganda organizations in Khan Sheikhun were the first to claim that sarin was used on the ground. "Western" media and governments later repeated those claims before any further investigations could have been done. The very first claim I found was made by the former British doctor Shajul Islam who works for the terrorists. This video of him of "doctors "and "patients" in an emergence room in Khan Sheikhun is pure theater, taken over a longer time period. The main presenter, Shajul Islam, is a well-known criminal Takfiri with links to the British secret service. He talks of sarin even though the "patients" around him show no signs of sarin effects and the emergency personal in the video is unprotected against potent chemical agents.

A White House assessment later claimed that it had evidence that sarin was used. It used the claim to justify the bombing of the Syrian military airport Al Syairat. But the White House assessment contains no evidence. It includes a number of factually false statements. It claims, for example:

]T]he World Health Organization stated on April 5 that its analysis of victims of the attack in Syria showed the had been exposed to nerve agents

The WHO report from April 5 stated no such thing. It only noted:

Cont. reading: Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

Posted by b at 03:26 PM | Comments (72)

 
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