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August 14, 2020

Why Has Joe Biden Chosen Kamala Harris?

Can anyone explain to me why Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as running mate?

I find nothing that makes her an attractive candidate:

  • We just had a summer during which Democrats applauded to Black Live Matters and cheered anti-police riots. Harris has the well deserved (vid) reputation of being a hard line prosecutor and is unlikely to be sympathetic to the issue. Stocks of private prison companies went up when Harris was confirmed as vice president candidate.
  • Harris comes from California. She will not attract critical swing state voters.
  • Her campaign during the primaries was chaotic. She polled at some 2%, about the worst number of all candidates.
  • She has little governing and zero foreign policy experience. As Joe Biden has obviously (vid) mental problems a more experienced potential replacement would have been more assuring.
  • Kamala means "horrible, terrible" in Finnish.

In my view the choice of Harris as VP candidate increases the already high chance that Biden will lose the presidential election.

So what was the real reason for this choice?


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The Wall Street Journal headline hints to a potential answer but my hunch is that there is more to it.

Posted by b at 17:10 UTC | Comments (187)

August 13, 2020

United Arab Emirates Betray Palestine

U.S. President Donald Trump just announced that the United Arab Emirates and Israel "agreed to full normalization" of their relations and that they will "establish reciprocal embassies".

In exchange Israel will "suspend declaring sovereignty" over parts of the West Bank land that it, for all intent and purpose, has already annexed and controls.

Here is the term sheet Trump posted. It is headlined as a "Joint Statement" of the U.S., Israel and the UAE:


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While the UAE and Israel have been in bed together for decades they never established formal relations.

This will create waves in the Arab world. It is treason towards the Palestinian cause and its supporters. The Arab boycott of Israel was always supposed to press Israel towards recognizing the rights of the Palestinians. Netanyahoo had claimed that he could make peace with Arab states before making peace with the Palestinians. The UAE has now proven him right.

Cont. reading: United Arab Emirates Betray Palestine

Posted by b at 16:04 UTC | Comments (126)

Open Thread 2020-64

News & views ...

Posted by b at 14:26 UTC | Comments (189)

August 12, 2020

'Western' Media Falsely Claim That Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Is Ready To Go

After President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia's Covid-19 vaccine candidate had gained an approval from its regulator, 'western' media went into a anti-Russian frenzy to sow fear and doubt about it.

All the above, just as this one, are based on a willful misinterpretation of the Russian announcement:

Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though global health authorities say the vaccine has yet to complete critical, late-stage clinical trials to determine its safety and effectiveness.

Mr. Putin, who told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning that the vaccine “works effectively enough,” said that his own daughter had taken it. And in a congratulatory note to the nation, he thanked the scientists who developed the vaccine for “this first, very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”
...
By skipping large-scale clinical trials, the Russian dash for a vaccine has raised widespread concern that it is circumventing vital steps — and potentially endangering people — in order to score global propaganda points.

Russia has not approved a vaccine against Covid-19 and it is not skipping large-scale clinical trials.

The Russia regulator gave a preliminary approval for a vaccine candidate to start the large-scale clinical trial. This is similar to an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Science Magazine is one of the few media who got it right:

In a startling and confusing move, Russia claimed today it had approved the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, as the nation’s Ministry of Health issued what’s called a registration certificate for a vaccine candidate that has been tested in just 76 people. The certificate allows the vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, to be given to “a small number of citizens from vulnerable groups,” including medical staff and the elderly, a Ministry of Health spokesperson tells ScienceInsider. But the certificate stipulates that the vaccine cannot be used widely until 1 January 2021, presumably after larger clinical trials have been completed.
...
A website for Sputnik V says a phase III efficacy trial involving more than 2000 people will begin on 12 August in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Mexico. Mass production of the vaccine is slated to begin in September.

Cont. reading: 'Western' Media Falsely Claim That Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Is Ready To Go

Posted by b at 9:16 UTC | Comments (93)

August 11, 2020

Syria - Trump's 'Keep The Oil' Occupation Runs Into Trouble

Turkey's occupation of some areas in north Iraq is in trouble as is the U.S. occupation of northeast Syria.

Turkey has for some time taken positions inside north Iraq to prevent Kurdish PKK fighters from infiltrating into Turkey. It also uses drones to hit PKK positions. The corrupt leader of the ruling Kurdish clan in north Iraq, Masoud Barzani, has no problem with Turkey hunting his brethren as long as Turkey buys oil from him. But the Iraqi government in Baghdad sees every Turkish intrusion as an attack on Iraq's sovereignty.

Turkey reported today that it 'neutralized 7 PKK terrorists in north Iraq'. That was however not the case:

BAGHDAD -- A Turkish drone strike killed two senior Iraqi security officials, Iraq's military said Tuesday, marking the first time Turkey's operation to root out Kurdish rebels in Iraq's north produced fatalities among high-ranking Iraqi personnel.

The drone targeted a vehicle belonging to the Border Guards in the Bradost area, north of Irbil, the military statement said, causing the deaths of two commanders and the vehicle's driver.

Gen. Mohammed Rushdi, commander of the Border Guards' 2nd Brigade and Brig. Zubair Hali, commander of the 3rd Regiment, were killed in the attack Ihsan Chelebi, the mayor of Bradost, told The Associated Press. He said they had been establishing new posts in the area.
...
The operation drew the ire of Iraqi officials who on two occasions summoned Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad to deliver a protest note. The killing of the high-ranking Iraqi officials is expected to further strain Iraq's relations with Turkey.

This will add another hostile nation to Erdogan's ever growing portfolio of these.

A different situation involving the PKK is the U.S. occupation of northeast Syria between the Turkish boarder and the Euphrates river. The U.S. proxy force are local PKK fighters under Mazloum Kobani Abdi who have renamed themselves Syrian Democratic Forces so that the U.S. can pretend that they are not the enemies of its NATO ally Turkey. Mazloum recently had a meeting with Barzani who the PKK views as a more or less hostile element.

There have recently been additional incidents that put Mazloum and the SDF into a very bad light. Islamic State fighters and their families who are imprisoned in camps guarded by the SDF have been let go by heavily bribed guards. A Sheik of an Arab tribe in east Deir Ezzor governorate has been murdered by SDF members. The tribe has rebelled and set an ultimatum to the SDF to hand over the killers.

Then there is the oil which Trump claims to keep. Mazloum first tried to sell it to an Israeli company. That did not work out but in late July a deal was signed between Mazloum and a small U.S. company. That angered not only Syria and Turkey but has now led to the rejection of Mazloum by the PKK itself.

Today Cemîl Bayik, one of the five founders of the PKK, condemned the oil deal (machine translation):

The PKK's roof structure, KCK's Co-chair Cemil Bayık, regarding the oil agreement signed with the US company in Rojava, said, “Syria is an internationally accepted state. That is why all of Syria's underground and aboveground resources belong to the people, not to anyone. I mean, nobody can do these things.

Speaking to the media close to the PKK, Cemil Bayık said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) signed an oil agreement with a US company, “We are also following some things from the press. I don't know exactly what is the reality. For example, it is said that an alliance was made through an oil company, and even the Syrian regime said that it did not accept it, it was illegal, it said things like "they are stealing our oil".

Saying that "Syria is an internationally recognized state", Bayık said:

“That is why all of Syria's underground and aboveground resources belong to the people, not to anyone. So nobody can make these things property. We say that the Autonomous Syrian administration, oil, underground and aboveground wealth are all of the Syrian peoples. ..."

Mazloum's oil deal is illegal says the leader of the PKK. It seems that Mazloum has thereby lost his authority.

Also today the Arab tribes of Deir Ezzor held another meeting which ended with a demand to the U.S. and the SDF to leave their areas:

The Al-Akidat tribal leaders demanded, as quoted by the Sputnik Agency, that “the administration of the region be for our people. Arabs exclusively, and the emphasis on the unity and independence of Syria.”

The news agency quoted local sources in the countryside of Deir Ezzor as saying that nearly 5,000 people, including a large number of notables and sheikhs of the Al-Akidat Tribe and other tribes, held an expanded meeting in the house of the tribe’s chief general, Ibrahim Khalil al-Hafl, in the village Dheban and gave the U.S.-led Coalition forces only one month to fulfill the demands that came out of the meeting, the most important of which are the disclosure of the perpetrators of the assassinations, the release of detainees, and the removal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliates.

The reporter added that the tribal meeting condemned the state of security chaos, administrative and military corruption, and the assassinations, the latest of which was the assassination of Sheikh Mutashar Al-Hafil and his relative, Dara Mikhlif Al-Khalaf, for which the Al-Akidat Tribe held the SDF and the U.S. Coalition responsible.

The U.S. troops in Syria and their SDF proxies may soon see a full blown rebellion against their occupation. This while Mazloum's authority over the Kurds of north Syria has been seriously weakened. Trump's instinct to pull the troops out of Syria was right. After he ran into resistance from the Pentagon and hawkish senators he invented the 'keep the oil' excuse to justify his lack of insistence. That will now come back to haunt him. Losing troops in Syria during the campaign season may well cost him votes.

Posted by b at 18:32 UTC | Comments (72)

August 10, 2020

Belarus, Pulling Bridges, MI6 And Russiagate

When the summer gets too hot German schools release their students early. It is called hitzefrei. It is 33° centigrade (90°F) here today. That may not seem hot for many of you but consider that hardly anyone here has air-conditioners. I will take today off and leave you with the three issues I had considered to write about.

The predicted color revolution attempt in Belarus proceeds as expected:

Tsikhanouskaya, who drew tens of thousands of people to her campaign rallies, refused to recognize the preliminary official results announced by the TsVK on August 10.

"I consider myself the winner in the presidential election," she said in Minsk.

Tsikhanouskaya said her opinion was based on what she called "real protocols" collected at the majority of polling stations, which, according to her, prove that she won the election. She also charged that the official results announced by the TsVK were rigged.

Meanwhile, Tsikhanouskaya's supporters announced they would stage a mass demonstration against the official election tally on August 10 at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT/UTC) in central Minsk.

The opposition in Belarus also has called for a nationwide protest strike starting at noon local time on August 11.

President Lukashenko will not have any of that. The protests that followed yesterday's exit polls announcements were relatively small. Unless the security forces fall apart, which I do not expect to happen, the attempt to overthrow Lukashenko will be defeated.

---

Is the U.S. turning into a third world country? I don't know. But when Chicago has to literally pull up the bridges something is definitely wrong:

The looting seemed to be centered in Streeterville and North Michigan Avenue, but some looting was reported on State Street in the Loop and on the Near North Side. By 4 a.m. police appeared to be getting things under control.

But some vandalism continued into the daylight hours, and the CTA suspended train and bus service into downtown during the morning rush, while the Illinois state police blocked off ramps from expressways. Bridges across the Chicago River were raised, except for the one on LaSalle Street for emergency vehicles.

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Russiagate, the deep state campaign to disenfranchise President Donald Trump, is further unraveling. The Spies Who Hijacked America is a first-person account that convincingly documents an MI6-linked conspiracy by former director Richard Dearlove, former agent Christopher Steele and FBI informant Stefan Halper to frame Carter Page that led to the FBI launching of "Crossfire Hurricane".

The long read is very interesting but it still does not account for who or what instigated the British spies into launching their campaign against Trump. My hunch is that then CIA director John Brennan was the central person behind it.

Posted by b at 16:58 UTC | Comments (163)

August 09, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-63

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

  • August 4 - Beirut Explosion
  • August 5 - Beirut Blast Wrap-up
    Related:
    The Tragic Physics of the Deadly Explosion in Beirut - Rachel Lance / Wired
    The Beirut Explosion: Who is responsible? - Elijah Magnier
    > The many “conspiracy theories” fail to line up with the facts of this accident. Ignorance, incompetence, favouritism and bureaucracy are the reasons for the loss of so many lives and the destruction of Beirut, a capital where people have not learned to stand together. This is a huge national tragedy. The Lebanese hold property in many foreign countries, west and east. This expresses the lack of a sense of belonging- because this is a country where elected politicians have amassed and stolen all the country’s wealth, where they hoard power, and where they pass it on to their sons. <
Sharmine Narwani @snarwani - 22:24 UTC · Aug 8, 2020
Lebanese protestors today hung cardboard cutouts of Saad Hariri and his allies, but you won't see this because media is only showing pics of Nasrallah, Berri and Aoun being hung. All political leaders were derided equally today. Don't fall for the propaganda, #Lebanon
Amal Saad @amalsaad_lb - 22:46 UTC · 8 Aug 2020
The US and Saudi have once again sought to capitalize on politically engineered tragedies in Lebanon using their local proxies. Legitimate fury about the Beirut blast has been channeled into a sectarian campaign to disarm Hizbullah by interventionists with neo-colonial fantasies

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-63

Posted by b at 13:11 UTC | Comments (252)

August 08, 2020

No Evidence Of Foreign Interference In U.S. Elections, U.S. Intelligence Says

Yesterday the mislabeled U.S. 'Intelligence' Agencies trotted out more nonsense claims about foreign interferences in U.S. elections.

The New York Times sensationally headlines:

Russia Continues Interfering in Election to Try to Help Trump, U.S. Intelligence Says
But a new assessment says China would prefer to see the president defeated, though it is not clear Beijing is doing much to meddle in the 2020 campaign to help Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But when one reads the piece itself one finds no fact that would support the 'Russia Continues Interfering' statement:

Russia is using a range of techniques to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr., American intelligence officials said Friday in their first public assessment that Moscow continues to try to interfere in the 2020 campaign to help President Trump.

At the same time, the officials said China preferred that Mr. Trump be defeated in November and was weighing whether to take more aggressive action in the election.

But officials briefed on the intelligence said that Russia was the far graver, and more immediate, threat. While China seeks to gain influence in American politics, its leaders have not yet decided to wade directly into the presidential contest, however much they may dislike Mr. Trump, the officials said.

The assessment, included in a statement released by William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, suggested the intelligence community was treading carefully, reflecting the political heat generated by previous findings.

The authors emphasize the scaremongering hearsay from "officials briefed on the intelligence" - i.e. Democratic congress members - about Russia but have nothing to back it up.

When one reads the statement by Evanina one finds nothing in it about Russian attempts to interfere in the U.S. elections. Here is the only 'evidence' that is noted:

For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.

After a request from Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, an opportunistic Ukrainian parliamentarian published Ukrainian evidence of Biden's very real interference in the Ukraine. Also: Some guest of a Russian TV show had an opinion. How is either of those two items 'evidence' of Russian interference in U.S. elections?

The statement then claims:

Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process.

But how do the 'intelligence' agencies know that foreign states want to "sway preferences", "increase discord" or "undermine confidence" in elections?

As a recent piece in Foreign Affairs noted:

Cont. reading: No Evidence Of Foreign Interference In U.S. Elections, U.S. Intelligence Says

Posted by b at 18:08 UTC | Comments (74)

August 07, 2020

The 'Russian Coup' Plot In Belarus Was Faked By Ukraine

In mid June we reported that the U.S. is preparing a 'color revolution' in Belarus. A sub-part of that operation has been revealed today. It was designed to denigrate Russia in the eyes of the Belorussian population and its president.

Over the last years President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko has tried to distance himself from Russia and to get some benefits from the west:

But to get nearer to the 'west' also has a price. A U.S. ambassador in town means that regime change plots are never far away. The sudden attention that Belarus now receives from U.S. aligned organizations is a sure sign that one is underway.

On August 9 Belarus will hold presidential elections. Lukashenko will do his best to win again.

Color revolutions are usually launched over controversial elections. The results are publicly put into doubt even before the election begins. When the results finally arrive western media will claim that they diverge from the expectation it created and therefore must have been faked. People will be pushed into the streets to protest. To increase the chaos some sharp shooters may be put to work to fire at the police and at protesters like it was done in Ukraine. The revolt ends when it is flogged down or when the U.S. favorite candidate is put into place.

Last year the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy financed at least 34 projects and organizations in Belarus. The U.S. does not do that out of charity but to put its finger on the scale.

The U.S. seems to have at least two candidates in the race. ...

Both candidates were since removed by Lukashenko. But Svetlana G. Tikhanovskaya, the wife of one of the arrested candidates, is now presented in the New York Times as the great new hope:

In the past, Mr. Lukashenko, who commands a large and often brutal security apparatus, has never been shy about demonstrating that he can crush any dissent. But this time he seems cornered, with opposition rallies in Minsk and smaller cities attracting up to tens of thousands of people.

On Thursday, thousands came out to the Kyiv public garden in Minsk to support Svetlana G. Tikhanovskaya, a candidate whose platform has consisted of one point: Get rid of Mr. Lukashenko. People waved, clapped and shouted of the president, “Go away!”

“People just lost patience,” said Nikita, 27, who declined to give his last name, citing fear of repercussions at his work, a state-run operation.

As part of the 'color revolution' scheme the U.S. has also introduced an anti-Russian element into the game. On July 29 Lukashenko's government announced that it had busted a curious 'Russian' operation:

Cont. reading: The 'Russian Coup' Plot In Belarus Was Faked By Ukraine

Posted by b at 16:23 UTC | Comments (55)

August 06, 2020

Addicted To Nuclear Weapons - Why U.S. Policies Never Change

On August 6 1945, seventy five years ago, the U.S. military dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. A few days later another one obliterated Nagasaki.

The question of why the United States used the nuclear bombs has more than one answer. The decision involved various persons with differing motives. Some of those people, especially in the military, were against using the bomb. Japan was ready to surrender even before the nuclear bombs were dropped. It did not surrender because the bombs destroyed two of its cities.

A major reason to use the new bombs was to demonstrate to the Soviet Union - already selected as the next enemy - that the U.S. had superior weapons. But it did not take long for the scientist in the Soviet Union to catch up and to test their own nuclear device.

It then dawned on some in Washington that a world with nuclear weapons is less secure than one without them. For 75 years they tried to stop the race for more nuclear weapons and to create a path to their total abolishment. But the hawks were more numerous - they still are - and they won out each and every time.

A history of that process is well caught in Scott Ritter's opus "Scorpion King - America's suicidal embrace of nuclear weapons from FDR to Trump".


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Scott Ritter has studied the Soviet Union, worked in military intelligence and as a United Nations weapon inspector in Iraq. He is extraordinarily qualified to write about nuclear weapon policies.

The book is an updated version of the 2010 edition. It is comprehensive and covers the decision processes of every U.S. administration with regards to nuclear weapons, nuclear arms control, non proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

Over the first decades many new nuclear arms and delivery systems were introduced. There was always a demand for even more. The nuclear capabilities of the Soviet Union were widely exaggerated. The U.S. assessments of Soviet power were often fake. One commission after the other was setup to make nuclear war plans, to decide which cities should be obliterated, how many million people should be killed and to calculate how many additional weapons were needed to achieve that.

Cont. reading: Addicted To Nuclear Weapons - Why U.S. Policies Never Change

Posted by b at 18:38 UTC | Comments (93)