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January 27, 2022

ICAO Report - Ryanair Plane That Landed in Minsk Was NOT Forced Down

On May 23 2021 anonymous emails were sent to several airports warning that a Ryanair passenger plane on its way from Athens to Vilnius had a bomb on board.

The plane was crossing the airspace of Belarus when it was informed of the bomb threat by the Belarusian air controller. The air controller recommended to land the plane in Minsk. After some back and force to gain more information the pilot declared an emergency and decided to land in Minsk.

After the plane had landed the passengers de-boarded, were searched and went into the airport building and through passport control. Two of them, Roman Protasevich and his girl friend Sofia Sapega, had outstanding arrest warrants against them. They were part of a group which had previously attempted to launch a color revolution in Minsk. The two were arrested.

The plane and all luggage was searched but no bomb was found. The passengers, except the two arrested and three who had Minsk as their final destination, boarded again and safely reached their destination.

The case led to accusations that the Belarusian security forces had created the threat against the plane and had forced it to land for the purposes of arresting the two people. There is however no evidence for that. Despite that several countries sanctioned Belarus and its national air carrier Belavia.

Belarus had asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to investigate the Ryanair incident. A preliminary report is now out and discussed below.

Moon of Alabama had followed the case in detail (The June 2 piece is probably the best one to catch up with the case):

Cont. reading: ICAO Report - Ryanair Plane That Landed in Minsk Was NOT Forced Down

Posted by b at 17:21 UTC | Comments (33)

January 26, 2022

Open Thread 2022-08

News & views ...

Posted by b at 18:43 UTC | Comments (298)

January 25, 2022

A 'Parthogenetic' Conflict - There Is No Russian Invasion Threat To Ukraine

With regards to the completely made up story of the 'imminent Russian invasion' of the Ukraine a commentator remarked to me:

What we are seeing is a 'parthogenetic' conflict/war/crisis. A first - to my recollection.

Indeed - the virgin birth of a conflict in which there is no enemy.

There is no threat of a Russian invasion of the Ukraine now or in the foreseeable future. Despite that today's New York Times has put no less than four 'invasion' stories at the top of its homepage.


Here is more evidence that there is absolutely no indication of any Russian invasion of the Ukraine:

Mujtaba (Mij) Rahman @Mij_Europe - 14:36 UTC · Jan 24, 2022

Senior Elysée source tells me: “There is a kind of alarmism in Washington and London which we cannot understand. We see no immediate likelihood of Russian military action. We simply want our interpretation to be taken into account before a common western approach is agreed.”

Richard Hadley @FranceVotes - 15:50 UTC · Jan 24, 2022

Replying to @Mij_Europe

Elysée briefed 'same' to @PhilippRicard (21 Jan @lemondefr): ‘France, like Germany, remain puzzled by USA & UK alarmism'. A source is quoted: 'We see same number of lorries, tanks and people. We observed same manoeuvres, but can't conclude offensive is imminent from all that.'

Yesterday the BBC interviewed the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov:

Some of our partners contribute to panic. This is beneficial to Russia - Danilov (machine translation)

Cont. reading: A 'Parthogenetic' Conflict - There Is No Russian Invasion Threat To Ukraine

Posted by b at 14:38 UTC | Comments (301)

January 24, 2022

A War In Ukraine Is Tactics - Putin Does Strategy

The 'western' media buildup for war in Ukraine was launched 63 days ago on November 22:

The U.S. has shared intelligence including maps with European allies that shows a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade, according to people familiar with the conversations.

That intelligence has been conveyed to some NATO members over the past week to back up U.S. concerns about Putin’s possible intentions and an increasingly frantic diplomatic effort to deter him from any incursion, with European leaders engaging directly with the Russian president. The diplomacy is informed by an American assessment that Putin could be weighing an invasion early next year as his troops again mass near the border.

Nothing has happened since but there has been no letup:

Cont. reading: A War In Ukraine Is Tactics - Putin Does Strategy

Posted by b at 18:39 UTC | Comments (161)

January 23, 2022

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2022-007

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2022-007

Posted by b at 15:09 UTC | Comments (193)

January 21, 2022

U.S. - Russian Talks Show Signs Of Progress

It feels weird to watch the delusional talk of the United States towards Russia.

How can people who are as wrong as Biden and Blinken be at the top of a state?

President Biden said on Wednesday that he now expected President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would order an invasion of Ukraine, delivering a grim assessment that the diplomacy and threat of sanctions issued by the United States and its European allies were unlikely to stop the Russian leader from sending troops across the border.

“Do I think he’ll test the West, test the United States and NATO, as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will,” Mr. Biden told reporters during a nearly two-hour news conference in the East Room of the White House. He added, almost with an air of fatalism: “But I think he will pay a serious and dear price for it that he doesn’t think now will cost him what it’s going to cost him. And I think he will regret having done it.”

Asked to clarify whether he was accepting that an invasion was coming, Mr. Biden said: “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”

Has Biden even once asked the very simple question: "Why would Russia want to do that?"

Retired ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar points out that even U.S. allies do not believe Biden's bullshit:

Cont. reading: U.S. - Russian Talks Show Signs Of Progress

Posted by b at 18:08 UTC | Comments (371)

January 20, 2022

'Havana Syndrome' - CIA Can Not Rule Out That Cuban Crickets Chirped Russian

The CIA is using its mop-up man, NBC News 'reporter' Ken Dilanian, to refute a hoax it itself had created six years ago and which the mop-up man had long promoted:

CIA says 'Havana Syndrome' not result of sustained campaign by hostile power

In a new intelligence assessment, the CIA has ruled out that the mysterious symptoms known as Havana Syndrome are the result of a sustained global campaign by a hostile power aimed at hundreds of U.S. diplomats and spies, six people briefed on the matter told NBC News.

In about two dozen cases, the agency cannot rule out foreign involvement, including many of the cases that originated at the U.S. Embassy in Havana beginning in 2016. Another group of cases is considered unresolved. But in hundreds of other cases of possible symptoms, the agency has found plausible alternative explanations, the sources said.

This site has called out the CIA's bullshitting about the claimed 'Havana syndrome' on several occasions. To recap:

Cont. reading: 'Havana Syndrome' - CIA Can Not Rule Out That Cuban Crickets Chirped Russian

Posted by b at 15:34 UTC | Comments (91)

January 19, 2022

Open Thread 2022-06

News & views ...

Posted by b at 18:17 UTC | Comments (238)

January 18, 2022

Slanted Reporting Can Lead To Bad Foreign Policies

When reading this New York Times piece about economic growth in China one might come away with the impression that the country is trending towards a recession.


China’s Economy Is Slowing, a Worrying Sign for the World
Economic output climbed 4 percent in the last quarter of 2021, slowing from the previous quarter. Growth has faltered as home buyers and consumers become cautious.

BEIJING — Construction and property sales have slumped. Small businesses have shut because of rising costs and weak sales. Debt-laden local governments are cutting the pay of civil servants.

China’s economy slowed markedly in the final months of last year as government measures to limit real estate speculation hurt other sectors as well. Lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus also dented consumer spending. Stringent regulations on everything from internet businesses to after-school tutoring companies have set off a wave of layoffs.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Monday that economic output from October through December was only 4 percent higher than during the same period a year earlier. That was a deceleration from the 4.9 percent growth in the third quarter, July through September.

The world’s demand for consumer electronics, furniture and other home comforts during the pandemic has produced record-setting exports for China, preventing its growth from stalling.

Note all the negative attributes sprinkled into nearly every sentence. China's economy must be in really bad shape.

Up to that point the piece has not mentioned its core data point - which is sensationally good and should have been in the headline.

That follows only now, after the reader has been sufficiently prepared to think it is actually bad. The sensationally good data point gets immediately dampened with another negative sentence.

Over all of last year, China’s economic output was 8.1 percent higher than in 2020, the government said. But much of the growth was in the first half of last year.

8.1% growth, after 2.3% growth in Covid 2020 seems excellent to me. It is beyond the 6% target the government had set and higher than previous estimates. For China it is the fastest growth rate in a decade.

Cont. reading: Slanted Reporting Can Lead To Bad Foreign Policies

Posted by b at 18:30 UTC | Comments (132)

January 17, 2022

Yemen's Houthi Tell Abu Dhabi To Pull Back Its Forces

Since 2015 Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen.

The two countries are different aims. Saudi Arabia wants to destroy the Houthi movement and install a Yemeni government that it can control. The UAE wants to control the ports of Yemen and the seaways around it. For this purpose it has build its own proxy force of southern Yemeni tribes.

The Houthi have hit back at Saudi Arabia by attacking its airports, cities, and oil installations with missiles and drones. They have pushed out Saudi controlled troops from various Yemeni provinces. Recently they were on the verge of taking the the Saudi controlled city of Marib and the rich oil fields around it.

In contrast the Houthi had so far not attacked the UAE. Two years ago the UAE had pulled its troops from Yemen and mostly stopped fighting the Houthis. Their proxies kept control of the harbor cities and the islands the UAE desired to control.


Early this year the Houthi had again warned that they intend to liberate all of Yemen, including the UAE controlled areas. They also captured a UAE owned 'hospital ship' which carried military trucks and weapons.

Meanwhile the Saudis had great difficulties to stop the Houthi attacks on Marib. Despite the loss of some support from the U.S. they resorted to an extensive bombing campaign:

Yemen Data Project @YemenData - 10:06 UTC · Jan 17, 2022

Saudi Coalition Bombings Surge in Yemen Following End of U.N. War Crimes Investigations - link

2021 ended with 224% month-on-month increase in civilian casualties in bombings. Airstrikes killed 32 civilians and injured 62 in December, more than in the 11 previous months of 2021 combined. Following GEE dissolution, air raids increased 43%, civilian casualties at 2.5yr high.

Almost half of all air raids in 2021 hit Marib. 884 air raids, up to 5,322 individual airstrikes targeted Marib up 21% from 2020. Hudaydah was the worst place for civilians in the air war in 2021 - the highest rate of air raids & civilian casualties since 2018 Stockholm Agreement.

Despite the intense bombing campaign the Houthi were still advancing.

That changed last week when suddenly the UAE came back:

Yemeni forces backed by the United Arab Emirates have joined coalition troops fighting the Houthi movement around the central city of Marib in a renewed push to secure the prize of an energy-producing region.
The Saudi-led coalition this week announced a new operation aimed at turning the tide after newly deployed UAE-backed Giants Brigade forces, supported by air strikes, expelled Houthi forces from oil-producing Shabwa reopening access to Marib.

The Brigades - mostly based along the western coast which has been relatively quiet over the past three years - entered Marib on Monday and have since seized large parts of Huraib district, local military sources said.

"The Giants Brigades are better armed and trained (than other Yemeni coalition forces) and fresh to the fight ... The Houthis will put up fierce resistance, but in general their ranks are exhausted," said Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen, a fellow at the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies.
The conflict is a multifaceted one with several Yemeni factions vying for power. The UAE largely ended its military presence on the ground in 2019 amid a military stalemate but continues to hold sway via Yemeni forces it armed and trained.

The Houthi could not leave that without a response. Today they gave a very public warning to the UAE by attacking it on its own ground:

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates using drones on Monday, setting off explosions in three fuel trucks and causing a fire near the airport of Abu Dhabi, capital of the region's commercial and tourism hub.
The UAE, a member of the coalition, has armed and trained local Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen's energy-producing Shabwa and Marib regions.
Three people were killed and six wounded when three fuel tanker trucks exploded in the industrial Musaffah area near storage facilities of oil firm ADNOC, state news agency WAM said. It said those killed were two Indians and a Pakistani.
The Houthi's military spokesman said the group launched a military operation "deep in the UAE". Its chief negotiator, Mohammed Abdulsalam, whom Houthi-run media said was currently visiting Tehran, warned the UAE against "tampering in Yemen".

Life and business in the glitzy high-rises of Abu Dhabi will be become much less comfortable should the city come under sustained drone attacks.

The UAE's foreign ministry condemned the attack and said that "it will not pass without punishment."

But what can the UAE do that has not yet been done by the Saudi siege on Yemen and the permanent bombing attacks?

The UAE will have to pull back its proxy forces in Yemen or it will be hit at the core of its wealth.

Dubai, the UAE's central airport, is the world's busiest one by international passenger traffic. A few missile or drone hits on planes parked there would have immediate consequences on global passenger traffic as well as on the tourism profits the UAE gains from it.

Today's drones were a warning. If the UAE tries to ignore it it will be in for some serious hurt.

Posted by b at 18:00 UTC | Comments (46)