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January 23, 2022

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2022-007

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

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

Posted by b at 15:09 UTC | Comments (50)

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 (351)

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 (90)

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.


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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.


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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)

January 16, 2022

Please Support Moon of Alabama

Dear Reader,

your support is essential to keep Moon of Alabama going.

It is always delectable to see feedbacks like these to Saturday's Mysteries of Kazakhstan post.

Hedwig Kuijpers @Hedwigkuijpers2 - 8:29 UTC · Jan 9, 2022

I once again declare my love for B., who summarized all you need to know about the #Almaty rebellion, and its actors such as wild Arman, MI6's sweetie-pie Ablyazov, and of course the CSTO intervention. link to MoA
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Roderic Day @RodericDay - 16:41 UTC · Jan 9, 2022
Retweeting @MoonofA

I don't know exactly what @MoonofA's political orientation is, but their articles are always full of verifiable sources for claims, and you can form your own opinion based on what they report.

They also self-criticize well.

We all need to write more in this style. link to MoA

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Ana @Ana_Q_ - 18:41 UTC · Jan 9, 2022
Replying to @RodericDay and @MoonofA

He is very good, indeed! And he accepts diverse views!
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Paul Sanoian @PSanoian - 3:15 UTC · Jan 10, 2022
Replying to @RodericDay and @MoonofA

Also strange is that most of the comments are worth reading. I disagree with and object to some of them but almost none of them are outright crazy.

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prog_with_nusantara_characteristic @Tana_Bakumpay - 5:07 UTC · Jan 10, 2022
Replying to @PSanoian @RodericDay and @MoonofA

Yeah, I love reading at the discourse in some articles and I don't necessarily have to agree with everything. Wish we have this kind of healthy environment on here as well.

I love such feedback. But I also need to eat and pay rent.

This site is one person's full time effort and there is currently no other income I can rely on. While I live in somewhat better circumstances than Spitzweg's Poor Poet, I am neither rich nor can I (or want to) indulge in luxuries.

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Every donation to this Poor Poet - be it $5, $50, $500 or more - is welcome and needed. A recurring contribution or sponsorship would be great.

Transaction costs are the smallest when you send cash or make a bank-wire transfer. Send email to MoonofA @ aol.com (remove the blanks) for the necessary details. (They are the same as before.) You can use a credit card or other means when you donate through the PayPal button below even without having a PayPal account. (The Moon of Alabama account is in Euro with currently €1 ~ US $1.13 and US $1 ~ €0.88).

PayPal Link

Besides your money Moon of Alabama also needs promotion. Under pressure from the powers that be the big multiplier sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter have artificially decreased the ranking of independent media.

The loss of visibility has led to less than the natural traffic growth on this and other sites. You can help to counter this by mentioning and linking to Moon of Alabama pieces on whatever 'social media' you might be. You doing so consistently will surely overcome the latent censorship.

Thank you very much!

Bernhard aka b.

Posted by b at 14:29 UTC | Comments (92)

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2022-005

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Best zinger quote:

> Speaking about the possibility of holding a separate dialogue with the EU independently from the United States and NATO, one should ask the United States and NATO whether they will allow the EU to take any independent action. <

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2022-005

Posted by b at 14:25 UTC | Comments (304)

January 15, 2022

How Moon of Alabama Feeds Chinese Counter-Propaganda

During my daily round of skimming various global news site I stumble upon this Global Times report:

FM uses slideshow to expose anti-China forces’ lies on Xinjiang

Fabricating reports with numerous loopholes, hiring "actresses" to play as "victims," covering malicious purposes of disturbing China's Xinjiang region with excuses on human rights… Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Friday used more than 20 slides to refute disinformation and rumors made by anti-China "scholars," the US and Western media, and the terrorist organization "World Uyghur Congress."

I checked the website of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see if the slideshow is publicly available. Unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. But there is an English language transcript of yesterday's press conference with foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.


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Prompted by a planted question from a CGTN journalist Wang Wenbin made a prepared presentation on baseless Xinjiang allegations the U.S. likes to make.

This part made me smile (emph. add.):

First of all, those who fabricate lies on Xinjiang always camouflage themselves with three cloaks. 
...
The second is the cloak of victims. They concoct lies by playing the victim or witness. Such fake witnesses abound. We once exposed how Zumrat Dawut and Tursunay Ziawudun lied. Today, I want to give you another example named Sayragul Sauytbay. She sometimes calls herself a teacher at a vocational training center, and sometimes a “victim” of the “detention center”. She claims to have witnessed “torture” and “violence” at vocational training centers on one occasion, but insisted that she has never seen any acts of violence on the other. She says the “detainees” were forced to have pork, but asserts that there was no meat at all in another context. In fact, this person has never learned or worked in vocational training centers, but is wanted by the public security authorities for suspected crimes of illegal border-crossing and loan fraud. The so-called “testimonies” of these individuals contradict themselves and cannot justify anything, only to reveal that the people are not victims or witnesses, but third-stringer actors that give themselves away while changing their playbooks.

To my best knowledge the first piece ever that took apart the diverging claims Sayragul Sauytbay made in various interviews was published by Moon of Alabama on December 5 2020.

"Uighurs forced to eat pork" - Horror Stories Told By Chinese Defector Seem To Evolve

The lies by Tursunay Ziawudun were subject of a follow on piece on this site posted on February 4 2021:

Cont. reading: How Moon of Alabama Feeds Chinese Counter-Propaganda

Posted by b at 13:15 UTC | Comments (46)

January 14, 2022

What Might A Lame Duck Biden Aim For?

These are a pretty bad days for U.S. President Joe Biden.

Wednesday: Quinnipiac poll shows Biden with 33 percent approval rating

The poll found 57 percent disapproved of Biden's handling of the economy, 54 percent disapproved of his handling of foreign policy and 55 percent disapproved of his handling of the pandemic, which was once a consistent bright spot for Biden.
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Thursday: Kyrsten Sinema Backs Senate Filibuster in Blow to Joe Biden Amid Voting Rights Showdown

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has delivered a major blow to President Joe Biden as she reiterated her support for the chamber's 60-vote filibuster—the biggest obstacle for Democrats in passing voting rights legislation.
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Thursday: Biden all but concedes defeat on voting, election bills

All but conceding defeat, President Joe Biden said Thursday he’s now unsure the Democrats' major elections and voting rights legislation can pass Congress this year. He spoke at the Capitol after a key fellow Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, dramatically announced her refusal to go along with changing Senate rules to muscle the bill past a Republican filibuster.
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Thursday: Supreme Court blocks vaccine rule for companies, allows health care worker mandate

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration's vaccine-or-test rule for businesses with at least 100 workers, but granted a separate request from the Biden administration to allow its vaccine mandate for health care workers to take effect.
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Thursday: Producer price index increased by 0.2%, up more than 6% for 2021

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Friday: U.S. Retail Sales Slide Most in 10 Months on Inflation, Omicron

The value of overall purchases decreased 1.9%, after a revised 0.2% gain a month earlier, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, suggesting price-adjusted receipts were even weaker than the headline number.
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Friday: U.S. Consumer Sentiment Drops More Than Expected Due To Inflation Worries

Noting inflation's regressive impact, Curtin said consumer sentiment among households with total incomes below $100,000 slumped by 9.4 percent in early January, while sentiment among households with incomes over that amount increased by 5.7 percent.
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Losses on all fronts. The midterms will likely be devastating for the Democrats. Afterwards Biden will be a lame duck.

The only field where he will still be able to show political initiative, and maybe have some successes, will be in foreign policy.

What could he aim for?

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This week Moon of Alabama is asking you, dear reader, to support this site. Please do so as well as you can.

Posted by b at 17:57 UTC | Comments (141)