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June 18, 2021

Please Support Moon of Alabama

This post is pinned to the top. Please scroll down for fresh content.
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Dear reader, your support is essential to keep this site going.

Moon of Alabama provides news and analysis which other media cover late or not at all. It offers original thought and no-nonsense writing on a nearly daily basis. It is free of charge and free of distracting advertisements. The comments are open and lively. It is the effort of a single person.

While that person lives in slightly better circumstances than Spitzweg's Poor Poet, he is neither rich nor does he indulge in luxuries.

bigger

Your continued interest and your feed back keep me going. But I also need to eat and pay rent. There is currently no other income I can rely on. Thus 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 smallest when you send cash, a check 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 (The account is in Euro €1 = $1.21; $1 = €0.83).

Thanks you very much!

Bernhard aka b.

Posted by b at 18:31 UTC | Comments (50)

U.S. Excluded China From International Space Projects - It Built Its Own

There was a time when the U.S. was open to international cooperation in space. It gained prestige and influence from these projects. But fear of competition from China and Russia have led to attempts to exclude these countries from international projects.

In May 2011 Congress banned scientific cooperation with China:

A two-sentence clause included in the U.S. spending bill approved by Congress a few weeks ago threatens to reverse more than three decades of constructive U.S. engagement with the People's Republic of China.
...
Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), a long-time critic of the Chinese government who chairs a House spending committee that oversees several science agencies, inserted the language into the spending legislation to prevent NASA or the Office of Science and Technology Policy from using federal funds "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company."

The European Space Agency as well as NASA were at that time favoring future cooperation with China on the International Space Station and on a planned Mars mission.

Since then other laws and sanctions have made the continuing cooperation with Russia on the International Space Station more difficult.

Banned from international space projects in which the U.S. is involved China went its own way. Ten years later it put a lander on the far side of the moon where the rover Yutu, the jade rabbit, is now pounding moon stones in his mortar to look for the elixir of life.

Last year China sent Tianwen, Heavenly Questions, and another rover named Zhurong, a god of fire, to Mars. It landed there in February:

"Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter," mission managers wrote before launch in the journal Nature Astronomy. "No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way. If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough."

A week ago Zhurong, the fire god, took a selfie and sent it back to earth:

Cont. reading: U.S. Excluded China From International Space Projects - It Built Its Own

Posted by b at 17:00 UTC | Comments (59)

June 17, 2021

Reflections Of A Man And His Picture

On April 14 I learned that old time Moon of Alabama commentator anna missed, also known as Jack Chevalier, had died two weeks earlier. I wrote about it in

RIP Anna Missed:

Jack was an artist who lived on an island near Seattle. Jack contributed a lot to our discussions about the war the Bush gang waged on Iraq. He had been in Vietnam and could relate the ground reality.
...
The [picture] below is a gift anna missed sent to me back then. It's an oil painting on a thick piece of raw wood with small glass pellets sprinkled into it.
notebook #1

2008
9"x 16"x 1"
oil paint and glass pellets on wood
by anna missed
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In May Jack's wife, Kelly, contacted me:

Cont. reading: Reflections Of A Man And His Picture

Posted by b at 19:04 UTC | Comments (13)

Open Thread 2021-046

News & views ...

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Moon of Alabama could not exist without financial support from its readers. Please help to keep this site alive.

Posted by b at 12:13 UTC | Comments (112)

June 16, 2021

Summit Summary

The results of the Putin-Biden summit today in Geneva seem to be thin. The meetings were expected to last for 4 to 5 hours but ended after little more than 2 hours.

During his press conference President Vladimir Putin said that the talks were constructive. He lauded Biden as very experienced politician and said that they had two hours of face time.

There were a few results:

  • The ambassadors of both sides, who had been recalled from Washington and Moscow, will return to their posts.
  • There will be new expert rounds about cybersecurity.
  • There may be talks about an exchange of prisoners.
  • There will be new rounds about security, which means strategic nuclear weapons.

A joint statement by both sides about Strategic Stability has been posted in Russian on the Kremlin site (machine translation):

...
Today we reaffirm our adherence to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and should never be unleashed.

To achieve these goals, Russia and the United States will soon launch a comprehensive bilateral dialogue on strategic stability, which will be substantive and energetic. Through this dialogue, we aim to lay the foundation for future arms control and risk mitigation measures.

That is a very important result and the upcoming talks will be interesting. The U.S. will have to end its Missile Defense Program if it wants limits on any of the new strategic weapon types Russia has introduced.

But the summit did not bring any further breakthroughs or new deals.

Putin answered at length several reporter questions about the Ukraine, human rights and the Arctic. He responded to critical questions by using legitimate whataboutism to reflect the issue onto the U.S. side.

On an aggressive question about Navalny by a U.S. journalist Putin explained that U.S. law designates Russia as an "enemy" and that the U.S. finances groups in Russia like Navalny's. He is a foreign agent. On top of that Navalny's organization has called for illegal demonstrations and riots. That made his organization an extremist one that now must be dissolved. Putin mentions that the participants of the Jan. 6  U.S. Capitol storming are now processed as criminals even as they only had political demands, were unarmed and mostly not violent.

On another question about alleged Russian political unpredictability Putin responded by listing all the arms control agreements the U.S. has left as well as the U.S. led coup in Ukraine which was executed even after then President Yanukovych had agreed to all opposition demands including new elections.

The press conference of the U.S. side has as of now not begun.

Altogether there was much less drama but also fewer results than the many previews had presumed.

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Moon of Alabama could not exist without financial support from its readers. Please help to keep this site alive.

Posted by b at 17:00 UTC | Comments (136)

June 15, 2021

U.S., UK Information Warfare Behind Regime Change Drive In Belarus

by Kit Klarenberg

This piece was first published by Covert Action Magazine. It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

 


Protesters in Minsk - bigger

The at-times fiery protests that raged across Belarus throughout 2020 had largely fizzled out by the time local activist and seeming neo-Nazi Roman Protasevich was dramatically arrested in May this year.

Now, the country has been catapulted back to the top of the mainstream news agenda, with new life breathed into controversial self-appointed President Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s hitherto unheeded calls for Western leaders to recognize her as the legitimate Belarusian leader.

True to form though, not a single mainstream outlet has deigned to mention that for many years prior to the unrest’s eruption, London and Washington had funded, trained, and promoted the very elements that took to the streets in opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko.

“Not Worth People’s Blood”

In April 2019, the RAND Corporation—a U.S. government think-tank—published a report, Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground.

It outlined “a range of possible means to extend Russia,” defined as “measures to bait Russia into overextending itself” in order to “undermine the regime’s stability.”

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from Western and Russian sources, this report examines Russia’s economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties and then “analyzes potential policy options to exploit them—ideologically, economically, geopolitically, and militarily” along with “the likelihood that [these policy options] could be successfully implemented.”

Cont. reading: U.S., UK Information Warfare Behind Regime Change Drive In Belarus

Posted by b at 18:07 UTC | Comments (36)

Putin Teaching A Journalist And Other New Bits Around Ryanair Flight 4978

There are some new bits about the Ryanair flight 4978 which on May 23 landed in Belarus after having received a bomb threat. To recap:

On May 23 a bomb threat against a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was emailed to airports and authorities in Lithuania, Belarus and Greece. It is not known who has sent the email. ...

Belarus Air Traffic Control, through whose airspace the plane was flying at that time, contacted the pilot, informed him of the threat and recommended landing the plane in Minsk. The pilot contacted Ryanair management and then decided to follow the advice. The plane landed at 10:15 utc (13:15 Belorussian time), the passengers disembarked and a lengthy bomb search was carried out. No bomb was found.
...
The passengers had to pass through passport controls. Two passengers were found to have outstanding arrest warrants against them and were detained. The other passengers flew to their original destination.
...
[J]ust an hour after the plane had landed [regime change agent] Frank Viacorka, who is followed by many 'blueticks' on Twitter, presented a narrative of the incident which strongly diverted from reality but allowed for a new push of the stalled regime change agenda.
...
The widely shared tweet and the ones following it implied that the Belorussian government ordered the plane down to arrest the regime change agent Protasevich.

When one looks into the details of the case it soon becomes obvious that the narrative is false.

The false narrative continues to be told by 'western' media. It has led, as its originators hoped, to the introduction of new sanctions against Belarus.

The case came up again during a recent interview by NBC with the Russian President Vladimir. The transcript and video are available here:

Cont. reading: Putin Teaching A Journalist And Other New Bits Around Ryanair Flight 4978

Posted by b at 15:36 UTC | Comments (84)

June 14, 2021

Corruption Is Profitable. But Does It Have To Be This Profitable?

Aduhlem, a drug that is supposed to slow Alzheimer's effects, had failed to show efficacy in two trials. It showed some reduction of plaques in the brain which may or may not be significant.

Ten of the eleven advisors of the Federal Drug Administration voted "no" when asked if there was enough evidence that the drug is useful. One voted "uncertain". Last week the FDA approved the drug and claimed that the plaques reduction effect is somewhat meaningful.

Three of the advisors resigned.

The cost per patient per year for the drug will be some $56,000. There are some 6 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's. Medicare and Medicaid, which will have to pay for the drug because it is FDA approved, will have to bear the costs. The company which makes the drug, Biogen, will gain ginormous profits from it. As will physicians who prescribe the drug, administer the infusions and bill 6% of the drug's price for it.

The above is a portrait of a deeply corrupt system in which all incentives are set in the wrong direction.

Now, corruption in national medical systems is not unusual and can be found all over the world. But what I find astonishing with the U.S. system is how little money companies like Biogen actually have to pay to get deals done that will make them billions.

The man who pushed for the FDA approval was no other than President Joe Biden. As the American Conservative, linked below, writes:

Less than two weeks prior to the approval, President Joe Biden said that “if we don’t do something about Alzheimer’s in America… every single [hospital bed] will be occupied in the next 15 years with an Alzheimer’s patient.” Guess which 2020 candidate was the largest recipient of campaign funds by a large margin from Biogen and affiliated parties? Joe Biden, with $76,241.

How cheap is that?

Within the next few years Biogen will make a million times more money than it paid to Joe Biden's campaign. Couldn't he have asked for 10%, 1% or an already cheap 0.01%? It would still have been a great deal for the company. But Biden is so downright cheap that he sold out for 0.000001% of Biogen's gain.

What a lowlife.

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Sources:

Posted by b at 15:12 UTC | Comments (100)

June 13, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-045

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> A mystery bidder paid $28 million at auction Saturday for a seat alongside Jeff Bezos on board the first crewed spaceflight of the billionaire's company Blue Origin next month. <

Elon Musk?

Jack Parrock @jackeparrock - 9:29 utc · Jun 11, 2021
The lateral flow COVID tests we have to do every day at the #G7 summit are “Made in China”. 🇨🇳
Western powers still need a bit of help from the East.

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-045

Posted by b at 12:44 UTC | Comments (156)

June 12, 2021

Why Is There A Biden-Putin Summit And What Is It Supposed To Achieve?

On June 16 the Presidents of Russia and the United States will hold talks:

Biden ends the trip Wednesday with summit in Geneva with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The White House announced Saturday that the leaders will not hold a joint news conference after meeting, removing the opportunity for comparisons to the availability that followed Trump and Putin’s 2018 Helsinki summit in which Trump sided with Moscow over his own intelligence agencies.

Aides have suggested that the U.S. did not want to elevate Putin further by having the two men appear together in such a format. Others have expressed concern that Putin could try to score points on Biden, 78, who will be in the final hours of a grueling eight-day European trip.

The real reason for not holding a joint press conference is of course that a senile Biden is likely to brabble some nonsense and ruin the summit spin his minders want to put out there.

The U.S. initiated the summit which comes early in Biden's presidency. The not yet answered question is why, and what the U.S. wants to achieve with it?

The short answer, discussed in length below, is that:

  1. The U.S. wants to take on China. The U.S. recognized that it can not take on China and Russia simultaneously. Russia must thus be split from its China alliance and brought back into Europe.
  2. Russia's new strategic weapon systems may enable a first strike on the U.S. A new strategic arms agreement is the only way to avert that existential threat. (It would also save a lot of money.)

Both of these strategic aims are unlikely to get achieved because the U.S. foreign policy community is still misjudging the global situation as well as Russia's strength and position. It wants the summit to fail.

Now the long version.

In an essay published on his email list Prof. Michael Brenner, a regular reader of Moon of Alabama, gives his answer to our questions:

Cont. reading: Why Is There A Biden-Putin Summit And What Is It Supposed To Achieve?

Posted by b at 17:03 UTC | Comments (156)