Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 07, 2023

Palestine Open Thread 2023-296

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Palestine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:01 UTC | Comments (106)

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-295

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Ukraine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:00 UTC | Comments (32)

Open (Neither Ukraine Nor Palestine) Thread 2023-294

News & views (not related to the wars in Ukraine and Palestine) ...

Posted by b at 13:59 UTC | Comments (79)

December 06, 2023

U.S. Is Withholding Aid To Push Ukraine Towards Negotiations With Russia

Yesterday, at 9:46 local time, Strana published (machine translation):

Volodymyr Zelensky to address US senators via video link today - The Washington Post

Today, President Volodymyr Zelensky will address US senators via video link with a request to approve financial assistance to Ukraine. ...

Twelve hours later, at 21:43 local time, this piece came out:

"Something's happened." Zelensky canceled his speech to US senators at the last moment

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky canceled his speech to lawmakers scheduled for today at the last moment. This was announced by the head of the Democratic majority in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer.

"By the way, Zelensky was not able to join our briefing at 15:00 (22:00 Kiev time) – something happened at the last minute," Schumer said.

Well, yes, something had happened:

Ukraine Aid Falters in Senate as Republicans Insist on Border Restrictions

President Biden’s urgent push to replenish Ukraine’s war chest and send aid to Israel is on the brink of collapse in the Senate, where Republicans are prepared on Wednesday to block the funding unless Democrats agree to add strict measures to clamp down on migration at the U.S. border with Mexico.

A classified briefing with administration officials called to shore up support devolved into a partisan screaming match on Tuesday afternoon, with Republicans angrily accusing Democrats of trying to steamroller over their demands for a border crackdown.

It would have been easy for the Democrats to commit a few billions for border security. But Biden wants to end the war in Ukraine. Starving it of money is the easiest way to push it towards negotiations.

All this was planned by the Pentagon think tank RAND which, early this year, published a study about how to end the war in Ukraine:

Avoiding a Long War - U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

(A 2019 study by RAND, Extending Russia - Competing from Advantageous Ground, had recommended to openly arm Ukraine to keep Russia busy. It has been the basis of U.S. Ukraine policy ever since.)

But in early 2023 RAND had turned a corner and argued that a prolonged war in Ukraine will be too costly for the U.S. to sustain:

Cont. reading: U.S. Is Withholding Aid To Push Ukraine Towards Negotiations With Russia

Posted by b at 11:32 UTC | Comments (248)

Bombing Gaza

At times it is so outrageous that even a major western news-agency can't help but to state the truth.


Posted by b at 9:12 UTC | Comments (160)

December 05, 2023

Who Is Really Behind The Mass Slaughter In Gaza?

Who is really behind the Israeli mass slaughter of the people of Gaza?

Here is the answer to that question:

Israel’s dependence on the United States was stated bluntly by retired IDF Maj. General Yitzhak Brick in an interview earlier this week.

“All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the airplanes and bombs, it’s all from the U.S. The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability. … Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”


Posted by b at 8:00 UTC | Comments (270)

The War In Ukraine Is Done

The Washington Post has produced a long, two part piece, about the failed 'counter-offensive' in Ukraine. It dispenses equal blame on the U.S. and British planning of the whole mess and the Ukrainian execution of it.

The bullet points from the first part:

Miscalculations, divisions marked offensive planning by U.S., Ukraine (archived)

Key elements that shaped the counteroffensive and the initial outcome include:
  • Ukrainian, U.S. and British military officers held eight major tabletop war games to build a campaign plan. But Washington miscalculated the extent to which Ukraine’s forces could be transformed into a Western-style fighting force in a short period — especially without giving Kyiv air power integral to modern militaries.
  • U.S. and Ukrainian officials sharply disagreed at times over strategy, tactics and timing. The Pentagon wanted the assault to begin in mid-April to prevent Russia from continuing to strengthen its lines. The Ukrainians hesitated, insisting they weren’t ready without additional weapons and training.
  • U.S. military officials were confident that a mechanized frontal attack on Russian lines was feasible with the troops and weapons that Ukraine had. The simulations concluded that Kyiv’s forces, in the best case, could reach the Sea of Azov and cut off Russian troops in the south in 60 to 90 days.
  • The United States advocated a focused assault along that southern axis, but Ukraine’s leadership believed its forces had to attack at three distinct points along the 600-mile front, southward toward both Melitopol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov and east toward the embattled city of Bakhmut.
  • The U.S. intelligence community had a more downbeat view than the U.S. military, assessing that the offensive had only a 50-50 chance of success given the stout, multilayered defenses Russia had built up over the winter and spring.
  • Many in Ukraine and the West underestimated Russia’s ability to rebound from battlefield disasters and exploit its perennial strengths: manpower, mines and a willingness to sacrifice lives on a scale that few other countries can countenance.
  • As the expected launch of the offensive approached, Ukrainian military officials feared they would suffer catastrophic losses — while American officials believed the toll would ultimately be higher without a decisive assault.

And from the second part:

Cont. reading: The War In Ukraine Is Done

Posted by b at 7:09 UTC | Comments (268)

December 04, 2023

Right Before Hamas Attacked Someone Shorted Israeli Stocks And Funds

The Israeli Haaretz headlines:

Did Hamas Make Billions Betting Against Israeli Shares Before October 7 Massacre?
Giant gambles against Israel on the markets in Tel Aviv and Wall Street days before Hamas’ attack made billions. Somebody seems to have known about the plan in advance

The story is unfortunately pay-walled and I have yet to find an archive version of it. An archived version is now available.

We know that Batteridge's law of headlines says:

Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.

It was thereby not Hamas which profited from unusual short positions but likely someone else.

The Haaretz story is based on a very recent study by two law professors with experience in market regulations from New York University and Columbia University.

A PDF file of the study, Trading on Terror?, is available at the Haaretz site.

Its abstract says:

Recent scholarship shows that informed traders increasingly disguise trades in economically linked securities such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Linking that work to longstanding literature on financial markets’ reactions to military conflict, we document a significant spike in short selling in the principal Israeli-company ETF days before the October 7 Hamas attack. The short selling that day far exceeded the short selling that occurred during numerous other periods of crisis, including the recession following the financial crisis, the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, we identify increases in short selling before the attack in dozens of Israeli companies traded in Tel Aviv. For one Israeli company alone, 4.43 million new shares sold short over the September 14 to October 5 period yielded profits (or approximates avoided losses) of 3.2 billion NIS on that additional short selling. Although we see no aggregate increase in shorting of Israeli companies on U.S. exchanges, we do identify a sharp and unusual increase, just before the attacks, in trading in risky short-dated options on these companies expiring just after the attacks.

We identify similar patterns in the Israeli ETF at times when it was reported that Hamas was planning to execute a similar attack as in October. Our findings suggest that traders informed about the coming attacks profited from these tragic events, and consistent with prior literature we show that trading of this kind occurs in gaps in U.S. and international enforcement of legal prohibitions on informed trading. We contribute to the growing literature on trading related to geopolitical events and offer suggestions for policymakers concerned about profitable trading on the basis of information about coming military conflict.

3.2 billion New Israeli Shekel are about $800+ million. And, as I understand it, those only were the profits from a small part of the whole operation.

I am not qualified sufficiently to judge the study but the quoted sources and data seem reasonable.

EIS is an exchange-traded fund that tracks Israeli shares in New York. The spike in shorts volume of EIS was indeed hefty.


The short options were only for a very limited period. At least some would have expired on October 13.

So it definitely looks as if on Monday, October 2, someone was sure enough on that soon something 'bad' would happen to Israel. That someone had enough market knowledge and money to take the risk of a false alarm in exchange for a huge potential profit.

Who that person or group was is for anyone to guess.

Posted by b at 15:42 UTC | Comments (116)

December 03, 2023

Palestine Open Thread 2023-293

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Palestine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:12 UTC | Comments (302)

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-292

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Ukraine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:11 UTC | Comments (161)