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February 06, 2023

Earthquake Damage In Syria Must Lead To Sanction Relief

Earlier today two large earthquakes have caused widespread damage in south Turkey and north Syria:

Nine hours after a first earthquake of magnitude M7.8 that hits south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, February 6th 2023 at 1h17 UTC, a second M7.5 occurs (at 10h24 UTC) 100km further north. More information on the main shock (M7.8) is available here and for the 7.5 (here).

These earthquakes has been largely felt up to 2000 km from the epicenter, mainly in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, ...

At the time of the report, a lot of buildings are damaged in Turkey and Syria and more than 1200 peoples haven been killed in Turkey and Syria.

Some 10 million people live in the affected area. The current count of death is already above 2,500. Whole city blocks have 'pancaked' (vid) and were destroyed. Many dead will likely still be under the rubble.

The area is prone to earthquakes. Just days ago an expert had warned that a big one was coming:

Cont. reading: Earthquake Damage In Syria Must Lead To Sanction Relief

Posted by b at 15:47 UTC | Comments (140)

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-32

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

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 12:28 UTC | Comments (237)

NYT Plants False Claims Over China's Balloon Communication

The New York Times carries a weird 'news analysis' by its somewhat neoconned White House and national security correspondent David Sanger about the recent Chinese weather ballon incident. Sanger asserts that China has failed to communicate on the issue:

[B]eyond the made-for-cable-news spectacle, the entire incident also speaks volumes about how little Washington and Beijing communicate, almost 22 years after the collision of an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter about 70 miles off the coast of Hainan Island led both sides to vow that they would improve their crisis management.
...
This was hardly a life-threatening crisis. But the fact that Chinese officials, realizing that the balloon had been spotted, did not call to work out a way to deal with it was revealing.

That kind of problem was supposed to be resolved after the 2001 collision of an EP-3 spy plane and a Chinese fighter that brought down both planes. For days after that incident, President George W. Bush could not get Chinese leaders on the phone. Efforts by the secretary of state at the time, Gen. Colin Powell, also failed. “It made you wonder what might happen in a deeper crisis,” General Powell said later.

Afterward, hotlines were set up, and promises made about better communications. Clearly, those failed. When the balloon was shot down, China issued a statement saying “for the United States to insist on using armed forces is clearly an excessive reaction.”

One wonders how Sanger can assert a lack of communication when the Chinese side insists with evidence that it in fact communicated a lot . As the Global Times writes:

Cont. reading: NYT Plants False Claims Over China's Balloon Communication

Posted by b at 12:26 UTC | Comments (74)

February 05, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-31

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

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 15:11 UTC | Comments (326)

The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-30

Last week's post on Moon of Alabama:

Moon of Alabama @MoonofA - 7:49 UTC · Feb 5, 2023

Then premier of Israel Bennet (2:47h):
"I told Zelensky: 'Putin will not kill you. He promised that.' Two hours later Zelensky publishes selfie saying 'I am not afraid!'"

(3:02h)
"There was a good chance of ceasefire but (the West) curbed it."

Bennett speaks out (Video, English subs)

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-30

Posted by b at 15:08 UTC | Comments (142)

February 04, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-29

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

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 18:12 UTC | Comments (245)

Blinken's Travel Canceling Adds To China Hate

In 1964 Richard Hofstadter wrote about The Paranoid Style in American Politics:

Events since 1939 have given the contemporary right-wing paranoid a vast theatre for his imagination, full of rich and proliferating detail, replete with realistic cues and undeniable proofs of the validity of his suspicions. The theatre of action is now the entire world, and he can draw not only on the events of World War II, but also on those of the Korean War and the Cold War. Any historian of warfare knows it is in good part a comedy of errors and a museum of incompetence; but if for every error and every act of incompetence one can substitute an act of treason, many points of fascinating interpretation are open to the paranoid imagination. In the end, the real mystery, for one who reads the primary works of paranoid scholarship, is not how the United States has been brought to its present dangerous position but how it has managed to survive at all.

The paranoid style is not only used on the right-wing side of policies. Adam Schiff's action during 'Russiagate' applied plenty of it. The paranoid style applies to internal U.S. politics as well as to foreign policies against this or that favorite enemy of that time.

It makes the story below, which otherwise just laughable, somewhat dangerous.

Furor Over Chinese Spy Balloon Leads to a Diplomatic Crisis
The Pentagon called the object, which has flown from Montana to Kansas, an “intelligence gathering” balloon. Beijing said it was used mainly for weather research and had strayed off course.

As some 80+% of all Pentagon intelligence comes from open sources the 'intelligence gathering' statement may well include a weather research system. Weather research and weather prediction are important for all kinds of military operations. But they are also important for many civil operations from agriculture, food availability prediction to drainage planning in cities.

The story's opener:

Cont. reading: Blinken's Travel Canceling Adds To China Hate

Posted by b at 18:11 UTC | Comments (185)

February 03, 2023

Ukraine SitRep: U.S.-Russia Talks, Bakhmut Retreat, Laughable Casualty Numbers

The Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung published a piece today (in German) which claimed that CIA boss William Burns had offered 20% of Ukraine to Russia in exchange for peace in Ukraine.

As Newsweek summarizes:

NZZ reported on Thursday, citing high-ranking German foreign politicians, that in mid-January, Burns presented Kyiv and Moscow with a peace plan that would put an end to the war, which began when Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

According to the newspaper, the proposal offered "around 20 percent of Ukraine's territory"—about the size of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

The Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov, the White House and the CIA rejected the claim:

A CIA official told Newsweek that claims in the NZZ report that Burns took a secret trip to Moscow in January and that there was a peace proposal put forward by the director on behalf of the White House were "completely false."

Last month, Burns traveled in secret to meet and brief Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, the Washington Post reported.

The Neue Züricher says that Kiev as well as Moscow had rejected the U.S. plan.

That everyone is denying that this happened means that the Züricher claims are likely true.

We know that talks between Washington and Kiev are ongoing.

Cont. reading: Ukraine SitRep: U.S.-Russia Talks, Bakhmut Retreat, Laughable Casualty Numbers

Posted by b at 17:09 UTC | Comments (395)

February 02, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-28

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

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 17:41 UTC | Comments (361)

On The Media Of 'Russiagate' And Related Fake Stories

Last week Matt Taibbi, with access to Twitter's internal papers, debunked the fake Hamilton 68 propaganda dashboard that was used to create many stories about alleged Russian disinformation. I had done similar five years earlier but had no access to the original data. There were enough secondary indications to conclude that the dashboard was a sham. Still, have the case made with primary data is a valuable addition.

There has been no Russian influence or disinformation campaign.

Two days later the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) published a five part longread from an 18 month long investigation into the 'Russigate' drama and on how the media had cooked it up.

CJR's editor wrote the intro:

No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate. The story, which included the Steele dossier and the Mueller report among other totemic moments, resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers. For Trump, the press’s pursuit of the Russia story convinced him that any sort of normal relationship with the press was impossible.

For the past year and a half, CJR has been examining the American media’s coverage of Trump and Russia in granular detail, and what it means as the country enters a new political cycle. Investigative reporter Jeff Gerth interviewed dozens of people at the center of the story—editors and reporters, Trump himself, and others in his orbit.

The result is an encyclopedic look at one of the most consequential moments in American media history.

Gerth's, who is 78, is a longtime mainstream investigative reporter who has written for major media outlets. The result of his investigation is indeed encyclopedic, detailed and very damaging.

The four parts are in chronological order and I recommend to read them all to grasp the real extend of the media's failures.

For those who do not have time to read the four lengthy pieces there is a Foxnews piece with a decent summary of their content.

Gerth ends his review with a personal afterword:

Cont. reading: On The Media Of 'Russiagate' And Related Fake Stories

Posted by b at 17:36 UTC | Comments (171)