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March 23, 2019

Russiagate Is Really Finished

On February 12 we wrote that Russiagate Is Finished. The conclusion was based on an NBC report:

After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
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Democrats and other Trump opponents have long believed that special counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional investigators would unearth new and more explosive evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russians. Mueller may yet do so, although Justice Department and Congressional sources say they believe that he, too, is close to wrapping up his investigation.

Russiagate conspiracy theorist Marcy Wheeler countered by arguing that a conspiracy had been proven when Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort admitted to handing out polling data to some Ukrainian/Russian contact to curry favor with some Russian oligarch he owned money. But Manafort's crimes, which he plead guilty for on September 14 2018, had nothing to do with "Russia" or with Trump and only peripherally with his election campaign:

On Friday, Manafort, who was chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign from June to August 2016, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Washington to two charges of conspiracy against the United States—one involving a lobbying scheme that involved financial crimes and foreign-agent registration violations, and the other involving witness tampering. In the course of his plea, Manafort also admitted guilt on bank-fraud charges on which a federal jury in Virginia hung last month.

Marcy and others held out hope that the Mueller investigation would come up with an indictment that would justify the utter nonsense she and other Russagaters promoted for over two years. Just two week ago former CIA director John Brennan, who likely conspired with British intelligence to frame Trump with the Russia affair, said (vid) that he expected further indictments:

During an appearance on MSNBC on March 5, Brennan predicted that Mueller would issue indictments related to a “criminal conspiracy” involving Trump or his associates’ activities during the 2016 election.

That last hope of the Russiagate dead-enders is now gone:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III submitted a long-awaited report to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday, marking the end of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.
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A senior Justice Department official said the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments — a revelation that buoyed Trump’s supporters, even as other Trump-related investigations continue in other parts of the Justice Department.
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None of the Americans charged by Mueller are accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election — the central question of Mueller’s work. Instead, they pleaded guilty to various crimes, including lying to the FBI.

The investigation ended without charges for a number of key figures who had long been under Mueller’s scrutiny ...

Conclusions from the Mueller report will be released by the Justice Department over the next days.

That the Russiagaters were wrong for falling for the bullshit peddled in the Steele dossier and the "Russian hacking" lies of the snakeoil salesmen Clapper and Brennan was obvious long ago. In June 2017 we pointed to a long Washington Post piece on alleged Russian election hacking and remarked:

Reading that piece it becomes clear (but is never said) that the sole source for that August 2016 Brennan claim of "Russian hacking" is the absurd Steele dossier some ex-MI6 dude created for too much money as opposition research against Trump. The only other "evidence" for "Russian hacking" is the Crowdstrike report on the DNC "hack". Crowdstrike has a Ukrainian nationalist agenda, was hired by the DNC, had to retract other "Russian hacking" claims and no one else was allowed to take a look at the DNC servers. Said differently: The whole "Russian hacking" claims are solely based on "evidence" of two fake reports.

The Steele dossier was fake opposition research peddled by the Clinton campaign, John McCain and a bunch of anti-Trump national security types. The still unproven claim of "Russian hacking" was designed to divert from the fact that Clinton and the DNC colluded to cheat Bernie Sanders out of the nomination. The stupid claim that commercial click-bait from a company in Leningrad was a "Russian influence campaign" was designed to explain Clinton's election loss to the other worst-candidate-ever. The "Russiagate" investigation was designed to  prevent Trump from finding better relations with Russia as he had promised during his campaign.

All were somewhat successful because some media and some bloggers were happy to sell such nonsense without putting it into the big picture.

It is high time to start a deep investigation into Brennan, Clapper, Comey and the Clinton campaign and to uncover the conspiracy that led to the Steele dossier, the FBI investigation following from it and all the other bullshit that evolved from that investigation.

As for Marcy Wheeler, Rachel Maddow and other dimwits who peddled the Russiagate nonsense I agree with the advice Catlin Johnstone gives:

Every politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit and everyone who swallowed this moronic load of bull spunk has officially discredited themselves for life.
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The people who steered us into two years of Russiavape insanity are the very last people anyone should ever listen to ever again when determining the future direction of our world.

Posted by b at 01:12 PM | Comments (38)

March 22, 2019

Trump's Golan Move Was Timed To Guarantee Netanyahoo's Reelection

The people who paid for Trump's election campaign, foremost casino magnate and zionist Sheldon Adelson, want to keep the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahoo in office. Netanyahoo is under investigation in several corruption cases and has a serious competitor in the upcoming general elections in Israel. Trump needs money for his re-election campaign and is willing to do anything to get it.

Trump is colluding with Netayahoo to influence the Israeli election. It is the reason why he decided yesterday to claim that Israel has sovereignty over the Golan Heights:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 16:50 utc - 21 Mar 2019
After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!

The Heights are Syrian lands that were occupied by Israel during its 1967 war of aggression against Egypt and Syria.


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The Heights are of strategic-military value. Whoever controls them can also control the plains east, west and south to it. Israel built several radar and spy station on the heights that allow it to see deep into Syria.


This profile picture falsely depicts the occupied Heights territory as Israeli.
The internationally recognized border runs near the river line.
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McClatchy has the tic toc of Trump's decision:

Cont. reading: Trump's Golan Move Was Timed To Guarantee Netanyahoo's Reelection

Posted by b at 12:36 PM | Comments (153)

March 21, 2019

How Theresa May Botched Brexit

Those were the times ...


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The Times page 1 is of January 18, 2017. Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union about Brexit were just beginning. The "you'll be crushed" arrogance in the headline characterizes the attitude the British government under May demonstrated during the talks.

Recently that attitude has somewhat changed. This screenshot was taken about an hour ago:


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The BBC writes:

Theresa May has said she "sincerely hopes" the UK will leave the EU with a deal and she is still "working on" ensuring Parliament's agreement.

Arriving in Brussels, she said that she had "personal regret" over her request to delay Brexit, but said it will allow time for MPs to make a "final choice".

At the EU summit the PM spoke to the other 27 leaders to try to get their backing for a delay beyond 29 March.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn said his talks in Brussels were "very constructive".

BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming said Mrs May spoke to EU leaders for 90 minutes and was asked several times what her contingency plans were if she lost the third "meaningful vote" on her deal in Parliament.

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that if MPs vote down Mrs May's EU withdrawal agreement next week, the UK will leave without a deal.

May asked the EU to move the hard coded March 29 Brexit date to June 30. She may be given May 23, the day of EU elections, as a compromise but only if her deal passes the British parliament.

A no-deal crash out on March 29 would create utter chaos for months. It would be catastrophic for Britain's economy.

May's withdrawal agreement was already voted down twice. If it comes to a third vote in parliament it is very likely to fail again.

Yves Smith, who you should all read, opens her Brexit sit rep today with this:

We’ve been more pessimistic than most commentators about the likelihood of the UK escaping the default of a no-deal Brexit. We may not have been pessimistic enough.

There is still the possibility that May takes a 180 degree turn, but that would be the end of her career and likely also the end of the Conservative Party:

Now there is a popular push for an Article 50 revocation, with a petition already at over 400,000 signatures as of this hour. But as we’ll discuss, May would have to do a complete reversal to revoke Article 50, which is within her power, not just a Prime Minister, but also implementing the motion by Parliament rejecting a no-deal Brexit.

Article 50 is the part of the British withdrawal law that governs the Brexit process. If May revokes it, there is little chance that another Brexit attempt will ever be made. The majority that voted to leave the EU will have been betrayed.

An analysis by the BBC Europe editor says that the "Leaders want to avoid no-deal Brexit":

[W]hile EU leaders have ruled out re-opening the Brexit withdrawal agreement and the "backstop" text, you can bet they'll discuss a longer Brexit delay at their summit today.

This is, in my view, a misjudgment.

Yes, under normal circumstances and with a competent and trustworthy negotiation partner on the British side, ways would be found to fudge the issue and to avoid a Brexit in all but its name. That is why I predicted long ago that Brexit was not gonna happen.

But May has really done everything to affront the other side of the table. She did not stick to commitments she had given, delivered papers too late to properly discuss them, and came to emergency summits called on her behalf without anything new to offer.

Matthew Parris, a conservative political commentator in London who originally favored May, now remarks of her:

"She is mean. She is rude. She is cruel. She is stupid. I have heard that from almost everyone who has dealt with her," Parris says. He said he had never expected this much hatred, "and that is not a word I use lightly."

The leaders of other EU countries also have had it with here. The voters on the continent do not care about Britain. There will be no punishment for Merkel or Macron for letting Britain crash out.

The EU will survive without the United Kingdom. With a no-deal Brexit the United Kingdom is likely to fall apart. Within a few years North Ireland would join the Irish Republic, peacefully one hopes, and Scotland would vote to leave.

A bit of hope may still rest in this one line in the BBC report which it leaves unexplained:

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn said his talks in Brussels were "very constructive".

Is there a EU deal being made with the opposition leader and behind Theresa May's back?

Given that she is the Prime Minister how would that work out?

Posted by b at 02:57 PM | Comments (139)

March 20, 2019

WaPo Gives Campaign Space To Main Sponsor Of ISIS Who Also Jails More Journalists Than Anyone Else

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan uses the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand to whip up support for local elections in Turkey:

It begins with dramatic music, edited in for effect.

Then stills of the manifesto posted by the gunman in New Zealand before his terror attack, highlighting and translating the sections targeting Turkey.

The video streamed live by the attacker comes next, shooting his way into a Christchurch mosque, before blurred images with the sound of automatic gunfire.

And then a cut to Turkey's opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, talking of "terrorism rooted in the Islamic world".

The crowd boos wildly, galvanised by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has now shown the footage during at least eight election rallies.

In a Washington Post op-ed published today Erdogan goes further.


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Erdogan compares the Australian terrorist who killed 50 people in a mosque in Christchurch with the Islamic State:

The Christchurch massacre’s alleged perpetrator attempted to legitimize his twisted views by distorting world history and the Christian faith. He sought to plant seeds of hate among fellow humans.
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In this regard, we must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere.

There is of course a big difference. While the murderer in New Zealand, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, visited fascist groups in many countries including Turkey,  he was not part of a larger organization or even a terrorist state. There is no evidence so far that he had any big sponsors.

The Islamic State and the ten-thousands of fanatics who established it had by contrast a large sponsor who enabled its killings.

His name is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Researchers of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) recently interviewed an ISIS emir, Abu Mansour al Maghrebi, who essentially served as the ISIS ambassador to Turkey. Abu Mansour, an electric engineer from Morocco, was captured 1.5 years ago and is held in Iraq:

“My job in Raqqa was dealing with the international cases,” Abu Mansour al Maghrebi recalls of his three years serving ISIS. “My issue [duties] was our [Islamic State’s] relationship with Turkish intelligence. Actually, this started when I was working at the borders,” he explains, harking back to the first job he undertook for ISIS before becoming an ISIS emir and, seemingly, their ambassador to Turkey.
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“[My job was] guarding the borders between Syria and Turkey and to receive the fighters,” Abu Mansour explains, smiling at being recognized as more powerful than he was originally conveying. “I oversaw reception at Tal Abyad, Aleppo, Idlib, all their borders,” he answers.

Some 40,000 foreign fighters came to Syria via Turkey. Most of them joined the Islamic State. It was also Turkey that cared for wounded ISIS fighters:

Cont. reading: WaPo Gives Campaign Space To Main Sponsor Of ISIS Who Also Jails More Journalists Than Anyone Else

Posted by b at 01:03 PM | Comments (121)

March 19, 2019

Venezuela - Journalists Doubt Guaidó's Legitimacy - Regime Change Plans Continue

On February 23 the U.S. created a 'humanitarian aid' stunt at the border between Colombia and Venezuela. The stunt ended in a riot during which the supporters of the self declared 'president' Guaidó burned the trucks that where supposed to transport the 'aid'. Even the New York Times had to admit that.

The riots also marked the day that Guaidó lost the legal argument he had used to make himself 'interim president'.

Guaido also lost his original legal position. He claimed the presidency on January 23 under this paragraph of article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution:
When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.
That the "elected President becomes permanently unavailable" was never the case to begin with. But if article 233 would apply Guaido would have had 30 days to hold new elections. The 30 days are over and Guaido did not even call for elections to be held. He thereby defied the exact same paragraph of the constitution that his (false) claim to the presidency is based on.

The hapless coup plotters in Washington DC were finally put on notice that the issue creates a legal problem for them. During a March 15 press briefing Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, was asked about the issue:

QUESTION: [C]ould you explain to us the article under which Mr. Guaido declared himself president? It is said that it has expired last month. Could you explain that to us? What is the --
MR ABRAMS: As to the Venezuelan constitution, the National Assembly has passed a resolution that states that that 30-day period of interim presidency will not start ending or counting until the day Nicolas Maduro leaves power. So the 30 days doesn’t start now, it starts after Maduro. And they – that’s a resolution of the National Assembly.

A resolution of the National Assembly, which the Supreme Court of Venezuela holds in contempt over the seating illegally elected persons, can change the country's constitution? That does not sound convincing to me. The journalists in the briefing were equally curious of how the rules could be changed like that during the ongoing game:

Cont. reading: Venezuela - Journalists Doubt Guaidó's Legitimacy - Regime Change Plans Continue

Posted by b at 02:18 PM | Comments (103)

March 17, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-15

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

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There are freshmen from Michigan and Minnesota in Congress who recently made some news with comments about the Zionist lobby. Some anti-imperialists and progressives lauded them for their efforts and defended them against attacks. But these are wolfs in sheep clothing.

Rep. Ilhan Omar Verified account @Ilhan - 1:31 utc - 16 Mar 2019
The people of Syria revolted against Assad's repressive dictatorship 8 years ago today, demanding a more just and free government. Peace loving people around the world stand in solidarity with them in this struggle!
Rashida Tlaib Verified account @RashidaTlaib - 23:46 utc - 16 Mar 2019
The anniversary of the uprising against the oppression in Syria was yesterday. We must recognize the struggle of those who organized and stood up against injustice. It is my hope that we can see a Syria that is truly free one day.

On might guess that the checks from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Turkish and the Qatari lobbies arrived.

As Ilhan Omar once wisely said:

‘It’s all about the Benjamins baby’

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Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:56 PM | Comments (248)

Flawed Safety Analysis, Failed Oversight - Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Two accidents of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft led to a loss of 338 lives. Planes of that type are now grounded world wide. We earlier explained in detail why the incidents happened. New reports confirm that take.

For commercial reasons Boeing wanted the new 737 version to handle like the old ones. But changes in the new version required an additional system to handle certain flight situations. The development of that system and the safety analysis of its implications were rushed through. Pilots were not informed of it and not trained to counter its failure.

Boeing now hopes that a software update, planned for April, will allow its grounded 737 MAX airplanes back to the flight line. For several reasons that is unlikely to happen.

On Thursday Captain C.B. Sully Sullenberger, who successfully landed a plane on the Hudson river after a bird strike disabled both engines, spoke out against Boeing's patch up attempt:

It has been obvious since the Lion Air crash that a redesign of the 737 MAX 8 has been urgently needed, yet has still not been done, and the announced proposed fixes do not go far enough.

The public will not trust Boeing's, or the Federal Aviation Administration's assurances if Sullenberger sticks to his view.

Another reason that Boeing's update will not suffice is a detailed bombshell report researched mostly before last Sunday's crash but just now published by the Seattle Times. It summarizes:

Cont. reading: Flawed Safety Analysis, Failed Oversight - Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Posted by b at 12:26 PM | Comments (150)

March 15, 2019

CIA Blames Its Proxy For Its Raid On North Korea's Embassy In Spain

The CIA is the main suspect in the military style raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid. It now launched a somewhat hapless effort to deflect from it. The Spanish report in which Spanish government sources accuse the CIA said:

At least two of the 10 assailants who broke into the embassy and interrogated diplomatic staff have been identified and have connections to the US intelligence agency. The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was “unconvincing.”

That the CIA is the main suspect in the assault was reported on Wednesday in the Spanish mainstream paper El Pais. The paper made the extra effort to publish an abbreviated English language version. It was widely picked up by other international outlets. Some of the assailants were Asian and spoke Korean language. They were probably from the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS), a subsidiary of the CIA know for its extremely hawkish politics. It often rigs elections in South Korea in support of hawkish conservatives candidates.

Attacking a foreign embassy in a third country is far out of bounce of international law and diplomatic decency. After the El Pais report something had to be done to direct the attention away from the CIA and to find some other culprit.

A story was thought up and pushed to the favorite CIA outlet, the Washington Post. It wasn't the CIA which did it, writes the Post's national security reporter, it was a CIA controlled 'regime change' organization.

A shadowy group trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un raided a North Korean embassy in broad daylight

In broad daylight, masked assailants infiltrated North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, restrained the staff with rope, stole computers and mobile phones, and fled the scene in two luxury vehicles.

The group behind the late February operation is known as Cheollima Civil Defense, a secretive dissident organization committed to overthrowing the Kim dynasty, people familiar with the planning and execution of the mission told The Washington Post.
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People familiar with the incident say the group did not act in coordination with any governments. U.S. intelligence agencies would have been especially reluctant to do so given the sensitive timing and brazen nature of the mission. But the raid represents the most ambitious operation to date for an obscure organization that seeks to undermine the North Korean regime and encourage mass defections, they say.

The CIA agents, led by torture queen Gina Haspel, are snowflakes who would never break the law or cause some international outrage. It must have been some independent group:

“This group is the first known resistance movement against North Korea, which makes its activities very newsworthy,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korea expert at Tufts University.

The identity of the assailants is a particularly sensitive topic given the delicate nature of Trump and Kim’s relationship.
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Any hint of U.S. involvement in an assault on a diplomatic compound could have derailed the talks, a prospect the CIA would likely be mindful of.

Derailing the talks was (and is) exactly what Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton wanted to do. We know that because the Post reported it on February 20, two days before the raid on the embassy and seven days before the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi:

Cont. reading: CIA Blames Its Proxy For Its Raid On North Korea's Embassy In Spain

Posted by b at 06:50 PM | Comments (103)

March 14, 2019

Open (Brexit) Thread 2019-14

Your host is busy with a small household emergency. 

By the way, how this Brexit thingy coming along?

Posted by b at 01:07 PM | Comments (236)

March 13, 2019

Who Ordered The CIA To Assault North Korea's Embassy In Spain?

Did John Bolton, President Trump's national security advisor, order an assault on the North Korean embassy in Spain to get an advantage in the nuclear talks?

On February 22 the embassy of the DPRK in Madrid was raided by a gang of thugs:

A group of men entered North Korea's embassy in Madrid, bound and gagged staff, before driving off with stolen mobile phones and computers, Spanish media has reported.
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Spanish police are investigating after El Confidencial reported a woman escaped the embassy last Friday screaming in Korean, prompting residents nearby to call police.

After she reportedly revealed staff were tied up and gagged, officers knocked on the door to investigate, but were met by a man who told them everything was fine.

Soon after, two cars left the compound at high speed, one of them carrying the man who had answered the door. Police did not enter the building, but staff walked out soon after the incident.
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Kim Hyok Chol was ambassador to Spain until September 2017, when the Spanish government expelled him and another diplomat following Pyongyang's round of nuclear tests and missile launches over neighbouring Japan.

The name Kim Hyok Chol sounds familiar. He recently was in the news when he led the North Korean delegation in the nuclear talks:

Kim Hyok Chol, a career diplomat from an elite North Korean family, made his international debut just a few weeks ago as Pyongyang’s new point man for nuclear negotiations. In the run-up to the Feb. 27-28 summit, he has been in talks with U.S. counterpart Stephen Biegun to lay the groundwork for the meeting, taking diplomats by surprise.
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[H]is appointment left a few people flipping through their files of cadres to find out more. Channel A News, a South Korean TV outlet, drew a circle around him in a video from a White House meeting between Trump and North Korean officials in January, asking who he was.

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People knew little about Kim Hyok Chol. The Bloomberg portrait of him appeared on February 22, the same day the embassy in Madrid was raided. The failed summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi was on February 27-28. Kim Hyok Chol was a core person in the 'denuclearization' talks but little was known of him.

The embassy raid was no normal thievery. There were eight people in the embassy when it was raided at 3:00 PM local time. They were bound, bags were put over their heads and some were interrogated. The thieves left with computer hardware and the cellphones of the personnel.

It now appears that the CIA was involved in the embassy raid. El Pais reports:

Cont. reading: Who Ordered The CIA To Assault North Korea's Embassy In Spain?

Posted by b at 08:30 AM | Comments (96)

March 12, 2019

Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing all on board. Five month earlier an Indonesian Lion Air jet crashed near Jakarta. All crew and passengers died. Both airplanes were Boeing 737-8 MAX. Both incidents happened shortly after take off. 

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are now grounded about everywhere except in the United States. That this move follows only now is sad. After the first crash it was already obvious that the plane is not safe to fly.

The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing's marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

To make that viable Boeing's engineers had to use a little trick. They added a 'maneuver characteristics augmentation system' (MCAS) that pitches the nose of the plane down if a sensor detects a too high angle of attack (AoA) that might lead to a stall. That made the flight characteristic of the new 737 version similar to the old one.

But the engineers screwed up.

The 737 MAX has two flight control computers. Each is connected to only one of the two angle of attack sensors. During a flight only one of two computer runs the MCAS control. If it detects a too high angle of attack it trims the horizontal stabilizer down for some 10 seconds. It then waits for 5 seconds and reads the sensor again. If the sensor continues to show a too high angle of attack it again trims the stabilizer to pitch the plane's nose done.

MCSA is independent of the autopilot. It is even active in manual flight. There is a procedure to deactivate it but it takes some time.

One of the angle of attack sensors on the Indonesian flight was faulty. Unfortunately it was the one connected to the computer that ran the MCAS on that flight. Shortly after take off the sensor signaled a too high angle of attack even as the plane was flying in a normal climb. The MCAS engaged and put the planes nose down. The pilots reacted by disabling the autopilot and pulling the control stick back. The MCAS engaged again pitching the plane further down. The pilots again pulled the stick. This happened some 12 times in a row before the plane crashed into the sea.

To implement a security relevant automatism that depends on only one sensor is extremely bad design. To have a flight control automatism engaged even when the pilot flies manually is also a bad choice. But the real criminality was that Boeing hid the feature.

Neither the airlines that bought the planes nor the pilots who flew it were told about MCAS. They did not know that it exists. They were not aware of an automatic system that controlled the stabilizer even when the autopilot was off. They had no idea how it could be deactivated.

Nine days after the Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 ended in a deadly crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive.


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The 737 MAX pilots were aghast. The APA pilot union sent a letter to its members:

Cont. reading: Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Posted by b at 04:39 PM | Comments (315)

March 11, 2019

Russia Internet Protests - These Crowd Estimates Are Propaganda

The Russian parliament is currently discussing a new law that will establish an autonomous internet in Russia. The network will no longer depend on servers and services hosted in other countries.

The U.S. dislikes that as shutting down Russia's internet by manipulating servers in the U.S. will no longer be an option. Spying on Russian internet traffic will also become more difficult.

The usual 'liberals' in Russia were told to raise some protest against the planned move. The BBC reports:

Thousands of people in Russia have protested against plans to introduce tighter restrictions on the internet.

A mass rally in Moscow and similar demonstrations in two other cities were called after parliament backed the controversial bill last month.

The government says the bill, which allows it to isolate Russia's internet service from the rest of the world, will improve cyber-security.

But campaigners say it is an attempt to increase censorship and stifle dissent.

Activists say more than 15,000 people gathered in Moscow on Sunday, which is double the estimate given by the police.

Reuters gives slightly different numbers:

The rally gathered around 15,300 people, according to White Counter, an NGO that counts participants at rallies. Moscow police put the numbers at 6,500.

Reports of crowd numbers are used for propaganda purposes and often false. On February 22 the British oligarch Richard Brenson organized a concert in Cucuta, Colombia. While "authorities" in Colombia claimed that there were "over 400,000 people in attendance", Vice News reported more than 300,000 and the Washington Post wrote that 200,000 were there. By using aerial pictures and scientific crowd density measurements we proved that less than 20,000 people attended the concert. Following that the Washington Post silently deleted its 200,000 claim.

The BBC provides two pictures with its piece.


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Cont. reading: Russia Internet Protests - These Crowd Estimates Are Propaganda

Posted by b at 04:06 PM | Comments (69)

March 10, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-13

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Electricity is again available in Caracas. Some parts of the country are still off the grid. Marco Rubio got egg on his face.


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The New York Times walks back a false propaganda claim it made against Venezuela: Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Maduro Burned Aid Convoy.  Unmentioned in the Times piece is that this was already know and reported on February 24. The NYT may believe that this very late confession makes its other propaganda claims more believable. It doesn't.

Gideon Levy in Haaretz: Keep It Up, Ilhan Omar

Other stuff:

Peter Obone debunks a book written to smear Jeremy Corbyn as anti-semite: Jeremy Corbyn and the truth about Tom Bower's book. See also Medialens: The Fake News Nazi - Corbyn, Williamson And The Anti-Semitism Scandal

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Craig Murray: Pure: Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe About the Official Skripal Narrative. Kit Klarenberg looks at the connection between the shady Integrity Initiative and the Skripal affair. Was II involved in initiating the incident? Integrity Initiative: The Sinister Chain of Events Leading Up to Salisbury.

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Anyone remember Mullah Omar, the deceased leader of the Taliban? The U.S. military and intelligence services claimed over and over again that he was hiding in Pakistan. Bette Dam finds (pdf) that he wasn't:

After 2001, Mullah Omar never stepped foot in Pakistan, instead opting to hide in his native land—and for eight years, lived just a few miles from a major U.S. Forward Operating Base that housed thousands of soldiers.

In late 2001, after the U.S. invasion, Mullah Omar resigned as leader of the Taliban and the movement officially surrendered to Hamid Karzai who promised them reconciliation. The U.S. did not like that and launched a vengeful campaign against all former Taliban member. Eighteen years later the U.S. is suing for peace.

Mullah Omar lived quietly, meditated and studied religious text. Allah remarked on his death:

On April 23, 2013, Mullah Omar passed away. That day, Jabbar Omari told me, the hot, dry lands of southern Afghanistan experienced something he’d never seen before: a hail storm. I assumed it was hagiographic bluster, but later I found a U.S. army publication referring to that day: “More than 80 Task Force Falcon helicopters were damaged when a sudden unprecedented hailstorm hit Kandahar Airfield April 23, where nearly half of the brigade’s helicopters were parked.”

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Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 11:52 AM | Comments (110)

March 09, 2019

Venezuela - Three Total Blackouts In Three Days - Government Presumes U.S. Cyberattack

Venezuela currently experiences multiple total outages of its electricity network. It is quite possible or even likely that the U.S. is causing these incidents. But it is not certain.

Shit happens and so do long blackouts:

The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario on August 14, 2003, beginning just after 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Some power was restored by 11 p.m. Most did not get their power back until two days later. In other areas, it took nearly a week or two for power to be restored. [...] The outage, which was much more widespread than the Northeast Blackout of 1965, affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states.

The blackout's primary cause was a software bug in the alarm system at the control room of FirstEnergy, an Akron, Ohio–based company, causing operators to remain unaware of the need to re-distribute load after overloaded transmission lines drooped into foliage. What should have been a manageable local blackout cascaded into collapse of the entire electric grid.

When the northeast blackout happened no one blamed President Bush or socialism for the outage.

Bringing an electricity grid back into full and balanced operation is quite difficult because power generation and consumption must always be balanced. Restoration can only be done gradually. It is a complicate process and takes time.

The Guri Dam hydro electric power station produces up to 10,235 megawatt. It provides 70-80% of all electricity used in Venezuela.


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On Thursday afternoon local time the Guri Dam system failed:

Cont. reading: Venezuela - Three Total Blackouts In Three Days - Government Presumes U.S. Cyberattack

Posted by b at 01:01 PM | Comments (135)

March 08, 2019

Trump Asks Germany, Japan To Pay For Being Occupied

It will fun to watch this developing:

Trump Seeks Huge Premium From Allies Hosting U.S. Troops

Under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil -- plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter.
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Current and former administration officials briefed on the idea, who asked not to be identified discussing the program, describe it as far more advanced than is publicly known. As well as seeking more money, the administration wants to use it as a way to exert leverage on countries to do what the U.S. demands overseas.

As evidence, they say officials at the Pentagon have been asked to calculate two formulas: One would determine how much money countries such as Germany ought to be asked to pay. The second would determine the discount those countries would get if their policies align closely with the U.S.

The extortion scheme Trump wants to use against 'allies' is a perfect own goal.

The German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel is already accused of being too deep inside the U.S. rear.

Her party supported the war on Iraq and now joined the illegal regime change attempt in Venezuela. The public is way less pro-American than German politicians. It will be quite difficult for Merkel and others to justify additional billions for U.S. troops in Germany. They are neither needed nor wanted. (The only sound reason to keep the 30,000 U.S. troops in Germany is to prevent them from moving to Poland from where they could threaten the country.)

The situation in Japan is similar. The government of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe supports hawkish U.S. policies but is also under attack over a new U.S. base on Okinawa. It will have problems to justify spending for the privilege of keeping the country under U.S. occupation.

Trump's extortion racket will make it more difficult for Merkel and Abe to ally with the U.S. on other issues.

That is a sound reason to welcome it.

Posted by b at 11:26 AM | Comments (150)

March 07, 2019

North Korea's Game Plan And Its Upcoming Satellite Launch

John Bolton won. After a short period of calm and talks between the U.S. and North Korea both sides are again walking towards a conflict. But one important thing changed.

The recent talks between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in Hanoi failed when the U.S. overplayed its hand. In his New Year speech Kim had already warned that he was ready to take a "new way" if such a problem would occur. As we wrote:

History shows that North Korea has always gamed out such talks. It is always prepared to let them fail and it is ready to take the next step whenever that happens. The "new way" may well allude to some new weapon that North Korea is ready to test. Cruise missiles are a possible candidate.

There are no cruise missiles (yet) but a satellite launch that is supposed to pressure Trump to come back to the table:

Commercial satellite imagery from March 6 of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) indicates construction to rebuild the launch pad and engine test stand that began before the Hanoi Summit has continued at a rapid pace. Given that construction plus activity at other areas of the site, Sohae appears to have returned to normal operational status.

There are also signs of new activity at the Sanumdong missile factory which produces both, space launchers as well as ballistic missiles.

The U.S. media turn the upcoming space launch into another scare stories about North Korea. Quoting the usual anti-Korean 'experts' NBCNews writes:

North Korea is pursuing the "rapid rebuilding" of the long-range rocket site at Sohae Launch Facility, according to new commercial imagery and an analysis from the researchers at Beyond Parallel.

Sohae Satellite Launching Station, North Korea's only operational space launch facility, has been used in the past for satellite launches. These launches use similar technology to what is used for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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"The activity they are undertaking now is consistent with preparations for a test, though the imagery thus far does not show a missile being moved to the launch pad," Victor Cha, one of the authors of the report, said.

"The activity on the ground," Cha said, "shows us that they do have a (nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile) capability that is not just developmental, but in the prototype phase. They've already tested a few of these and it looks like they're preparing the launch pad for another act."

The highlighted phrases are false. They are war propaganda. Ballistic missiles use different technologies than space launchers:

An ICBM requires a short burn-time of the rocket engines in order to minimize gravitational losses and the risk of early interception in boost-phase by anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. The typical ICBM rocket motor burn time is about 180-320 seconds.

The Unha-3 boost-phase is estimated at to be between 550-570 seconds.

Ballistic missiles usually have different motors than space launch vehicles. There are also different structural issues, differences in the control systems, different launch trajectories. See here, here and here. Most significantly ballistic missiles need to reenter the atmosphere to deliver their payload. It is only there that North Korea still has problems using them. Space launch vehicles are unsuitable to test the reentry phase.

Moreover the Sohae facility has never been used to launch ballistic missiles. For geographic reasons it is exclusively used for space launches.

To understand why North Korea is using this satellite launch to maybe bring the U.S. back to the table we have to go back to the negotiations between the two parties.

Cont. reading: North Korea's Game Plan And Its Upcoming Satellite Launch

Posted by b at 02:27 PM | Comments (73)

March 06, 2019

Venezuela - Guaidó Planned To Use Arms - Frustration Over Stalemate Sets In

New reports about the U.S. coup attempt in Venezuela describe the current mood in Washington as 'frustration'. They also shine new light on why of the opposition's plans failed.

When the U.S. set out for the failed 'humanitarian aid' stunt at the border between Colombia and Venezuela an important role was given to its puppet, the self-declared 'president' Juan Guaidó. It was his task to bring the aid across the border.

The New York Times reported at that time:

[One] option, pushed by those looking for a more direct confrontation with Mr. Maduro, would have activists encircle an aid truck in Colombia as it slowly makes its approach to Venezuela. Under this plan, protesters from Venezuela would overrun soldiers stationed on the Venezuelan side and allow the aid to move in, possibly using a forklift to push aside the containers blocking the bridge.

In Curacao, opposition officials were buoyed by the willingness of the country’s foreign minister to stage aid along a sea corridor long used by Venezuelan migrants to flee the country. But in recent days, plans appeared to be falling apart as politicians in Curacao objected to the use of the aid as a political weapon.

Additionally the opposition planned to receive the 'aid' on the Venezuelan side:

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido plans to head to the Colombian border in a convoy of vehicles on Thursday to receive humanitarian aid for his crisis-stricken nation, despite the objection of increasingly isolated President Nicolas Maduro.
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He will undertake the 800-kilometer (497-mile) road trip from Caracas in the company of some 80 lawmakers from the opposition-controlled congress, which he leads, opposition legislators said.
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“Through this call for humanitarian aid, the population will benefit from the arrival of these goods to the Venezuelan border,” said opposition legislator Edgar Zambrano, as he waited in a plaza of eastern Caracas with other lawmakers to board buses.

While Guaidó traveled to Colombia, the convoy from Caracas to the border never materialized. The attempt by a few stone throwing thugs to move two trucks with 'aid' across a bridge failed when the Venezuelan National Guard simply blocked them. Riots ensued and the thugs used Molotov cocktails to set the trucks on fire.

The whole stunt comically failed. But until today it was unclear why the issue was managed so badly.

Now Bloomberg reports that the real plan was quite different:

Cont. reading: Venezuela - Guaidó Planned To Use Arms - Frustration Over Stalemate Sets In

Posted by b at 02:35 PM | Comments (96)

March 05, 2019

Democrats Continue Campaign To Reelect Trump

A few weeks ago Moon of Alabama reported that Russiagate Is Finished:

Nothing, zero, nada was found to support the conspiracy theory. The Trump campaign did not collude with Russia. A few flunkies were indicted for unrelated tax issues and for lying to the investigators about some minor details. But nothing at all supports the dramatic claims of collusion made since the beginning of the affair.
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In a just world the people who for more then two years hyped the conspiracy theory and caused so much damage would be pushed out of their public positions. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. They will jump onto the next conspiracy train and continue from there.

It seems that this was too much to expect from those who believed in Russiagate. These people are unable to think up a new conspiracy theory by themselves. Instead they go for a fishing expedition to find something that they can use to continue the fake outrage:

The House Judiciary Committee sent more than 80 letters demanding all communications from a host of controversies surrounding Trump, as the panel probes whether the president and his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.

But rather than a targeted approach, Monday’s request was broad, reaching current and former campaign staffers, top Trump Organization officials, even documents and communications of the National Rifle Association and the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The inquiry touched on a wide array of matters, from the president’s business dealings with Russia to the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey to hush payments made to women. Many of those issues are already being examined by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York — not to mention other committees in the House.
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For months, House Democrats said they would look to Mueller’s findings to determine whether to proceed with impeachment hearings. But Nadler’s request demonstrates that Democrats are preparing to probe well beyond Russia’s interference in the election.

The Democrats try to find something that will put Trump into a bad light. I am sure that there are many shady deals Trump made during his life. But there are many worse things that he is doing right now right under the eyes of Congress.

Instead of focusing on what Trump currently does with deregulating whatever he can, by filling the courts with young conservative judges and by his mismanaging of foreign policy, the Democrats will draw the public attention towards issues in the past that have no relevance for what happens to their electorate right now and in the future.

It is a strategy of political self-castration. Instead of promoting policy issues that can attract voters, the Democrats draw attention to their anti-Trump campaign. That scheme was already tried, tested and failed in 2016. The chance is high that it will also fail in 2020. Trump might well get reelected despite all the dirt the Democrats will uncover during such sham investigations.

The unwillingness of the Democrats to have real political discussion is also visible in their attempt to subdue the new young House members who have come up with real new proposals and ideas. The use of the Zionist lobby AIPAC and false claims of 'anti-semitism' against them is especially outrageous:

Cont. reading: Democrats Continue Campaign To Reelect Trump

Posted by b at 03:12 PM | Comments (157)