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August 03, 2021

How AKP Cronyism Let Turkey's Forest Fires Get Out Of Control

Some 100 large fires are causing heavy economic damage at Turkey's southern coast:


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Firefighters have been forced to work in impossible conditions, combating fires in mountainous areas that only airplanes or helicopters can reach. At least two have died. At the same time, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, which has preached a mantra of Turkish self-sufficiency, has faced intensifying anger after conceding it did not have any of its own firefighting aircraft to deploy, leading to complaints that it was unprepared for the crisis and its response was delayed.

Whole towns have burned down, thousands of animals have been killed, tourists had to be evacuated. Inhabitants flee from the fire (vid). Tourist havens areas near Bodrum and Antalya get robbed of their scenery (vid).

Until two years ago Turkey had a decent fleet of some 9 Canadair CL-215 firefighting airplanes. These can skim up to 5 tons of water from the sea, a lake or a river and drop them onto the fire without having to land in between. With such planes Cycle times of five to ten minutes are achievable for fires near a coast.


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That Erdogan now has to admit that Turkey has no firefighting planes to deploy is a consequence of Islamist cronyism in his government that let to the systematic looting of the organization which for decades had fought such fires.

Cont. reading: How AKP Cronyism Let Turkey's Forest Fires Get Out Of Control

Posted by b at 18:23 UTC | Comments (26)

August 02, 2021

Why Hypersonic Missiles Are Real Game Changers - by Gordog

A Technical Look at the Science Behind the Headlines

by Gordog

The Americans are now crying ‘uncle’ about Russia’s hypersonic weapons. After the most recent flight test of the scramjet-powered Zircon cruise missile, the Washington Post on July 11 carried a Nato statement of complaint:

"Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area," the statement said.

At the same time, talks have begun on the ‘strategic dialog’ between the US and Russia, as agreed at the June 16 Geneva Summit of the two presidents. The two sides had already agreed to extend the START treaty on strategic weapons that has been in effect for a decade, but, notably, it was the US side that initiated the summit—perhaps spurred by the deployment of the hypersonic, intercontinental-range Avangard missile back in 2019, when US weapons inspectors were present, as per START, to inspect the Avangard as it was lowered into its missile silos.

But what exactly is a hypersonic missile—and why is it suddenly such a big deal?

We all remember when Vladimir Putin announced these wonder weapons in his March 2018 address to his nation [and the world]. The response from the US media was loud guffaws about ‘CGI’ cartoons and Russian ‘wishcasting.’ Well, neither Nato nor the Biden team are guffawing now. Like the five stages of grief, the initial denial phase has slowly given way to acceptance of reality—as Russia continues deploying already operational missiles, like the Avangard and the air-launched Kinzhal, now in Syria, as well as finishing up successful state trials of the Zircon, which is to be operationally deployed aboard surface ships and submarines, starting in early 2022. And in fact, there are a whole slew of new Russian hypersonic missiles in the pipeline, some of them much smaller and able to be carried by ordinary fighter jets, like the Gremlin aka GZUR.

The word hypersonic itself means a flight regime above the speed of Mach 5. That is simple enough, but it is not only about speed. More important is the ability to MANEUVER at those high speeds, in order to avoid being shot down by the opponent’s air defenses. A ballistic missile can go much faster—an ICBM flies at about 6 to 7 km/s, which is about 15,000 mph, about M 25 high in the atmosphere. [Mach number varies with temperature, so it is not an absolute measure of speed. The same 15,000 mph would only equal M 20 at sea level, where the temperature is higher and the speed of sound is also higher.]

But a ballistic missile flies on a straightforward trajectory, just like a bullet fired from a barrel of a gun—it cannot change direction at all, hence the word ballistic.

This means that ballistic missiles can, in theory, be tracked by radar and shot down with an interceptor missile. It should be noted here that even this is a very tough task, despite the straight-line ballistic trajectory. Such an interception has never been demonstrated in combat, not even with intermediate-range ballistic missiles [IRBMs], of the kind that the DPRK fired off numerous times, sailing above the heads of the US Pacific Fleet in the Sea of Japan, consisting of over a dozen Aegis-class Ballistic Missile Defense ships, designed specifically for the very purpose of shooting down IRBMs.

Such an interception would have been a historic demonstration of military technology—on the level of the shock and awe of Hiroshima! But no interception was ever attempted by those ‘ballistic missile defense’ ships, spectating as they were, right under the flight paths of the North Korean rockets!

The bottom line is that hitting even a straight-line ballistic missile has never been successfully demonstrated in actual practice. It is a very hard thing to do.

Cont. reading: Why Hypersonic Missiles Are Real Game Changers - by Gordog

Posted by b at 10:15 UTC | Comments (183)

August 01, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-058

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> This system of governance and oversight transcends the law. In that sense, laws and regulations are only tools and means to reach regulators’ goals in terms of governance, norms, and ethics. The law per se is not the end, merely the tool. This contrasts starkly with the rule of law concept in the West. While it is comprehensible to Chinese, it is difficult for Westerners to understand. <

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-058

Posted by b at 14:22 UTC | Comments (211)

July 31, 2021

Leaving Out Context To Vilify Iran's New President

The New York Times is using a dubious criminal case in Sweden to vilify president-elect of Iran Ebrahim Raisi over his alleged involvement in the execution of prisoner.

The smear works, but only because the New York Times decided to leave out the historical context.

Murder Trial in Sweden Could Shine Unsavory Light on Iran’s New President

First some details on the trial in Sweden:

He was a 28-year-old student and member of a communist group in Iran serving a 10-year prison sentence in 1988 when, according to his family, he was called before a committee and executed without a trial or defense.
...
The student, Bijan Bazargan, was among an estimated 5,000 prisoners belonging to armed opposition and leftist groups in Iran, who Amnesty International and other rights groups say were executed in the summer of 1988.
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Now, a Swedish court will prosecute a former Iranian judiciary official for war crimes and murder in connection with Mr. Bazargan’s death. The case carries some notably public and damaging implications for Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, who helped decide which prisoners lived or died during those mass executions.

The defendant, Hamid Noury, 59, was indicted on Tuesday in Sweden, ..
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Mr. Noury served as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison where Mr. Bazargan and hundreds of prisoners were sent to the gallows.

The mass executions represent one of the most brutal and opaque crackdowns by the Islamic Republic against its opponents. International rights groups say they amount to crimes against humanity.

Some assistant to a deputy prosecutor of some prison, who was at that time 26 years old, is accused of alleged involvement in the trial by committee and execution of a prisoner who had previously been sentenced to 10-years.

To accuse some minor assistant over this sounds a bit fishy to me but is for the Swedish courts to decide.

The highlighted paragraph are tying to tie that case with Ebrahim Raisi who is at center of the second half of the NYT piece:

Cont. reading: Leaving Out Context To Vilify Iran's New President

Posted by b at 17:04 UTC | Comments (89)

July 30, 2021

Lost In Translations - The Dangers Of Being Misled By Them

Translation errors can seriously affect the relations between hostile nation states.

One prominent example is the 'Gerasimov Doctrine'. It was alleged to be a Russian strategy of hybrid war, the use of subversion to complement military force. The concept, it was claimed, had been introduced in a 2013 speech by the Russian Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov’s.

The claim was first made in a July 2014 blog post headlined The ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ and Russian Non-Linear War by Russia 'expert' Mark Galeotti. Galeotti had used a misleading translation of Gerasimov's speech provided by the U.S. government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He asserted that Russia had a strategy of 'hybrid wars', combining secret and open civil, economic and military operations against an enemy.

Russia however did not have such a strategy. Gerasimov in his speech was in fact describing the U.S. way of waging 'hybrid wars' like, for example, the one against Syria.

But once Galeotti had published his misleading idea, dozens of papers and opinion pieces were written about the dangerous 'Gerasimov Doctrine' - all to underline the nonsense claim of a 'Russian threat'.

Various scholars and journalists had immediately pointed out that the assertion was wrong. There was no such Russian doctrine. It still took the author of the original false claim nearly four years to finally retracted his nonsense:

I’m Sorry for Creating the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’
I was the first to write about Russia’s infamous high-tech military strategy. One small problem: it doesn't exist.

Today Moon of Alabama reader Bernd Neuner pointed to another mistranslation and the bad effects emerging from it (edited for readability):

Bernd Neuner @Bernd__Neuner - 9:09 UTC · Jul 30, 2021

On widespread #Sinophobia

I recently attended a seminar on doing business in #China, hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce. During the presentation of a lady representing German Trade & Invest, I was surprised to learn the President Xi Jinping allegedly had given a speech announcing his intention to "...form powerful countermeasures and deterrent capabilities based on artificially cutting off supply to foreigners."

Since the presenter mentioned the speech had been published in Quishi, the official publication of the #CCP, I started looking for the original of the speech. It did not take long, and my suspicions were confirmed. What Xi Jinping really had said was the following: "...forming a powerful countermeasure and deterrent capability against foreigners who would artificially cut off supply [to China]".

I contacted the presenter and voiced my doubts regarding the quotes she used. She was very helpful and said she had received them from a colleague in Hamburg. I got in touch with him, and upon taking a closer look he confirmed the benign interpretation above. It seems the malicious version stems from the initial translation published by the US think tank CSET, latter corrected due to feedback from the audience:

cset.georgetown.edu/wp-content/upl...  (footnote 3, p.3)

The damage is done - how many people in positions of influence are now convinced that China aims at disrupting the supply chains of "the free world"?

A few hours after Bernd Neuner's tweets I stumbled over the same error made by a different person.

I was reading a piece by Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism about the new trend towards industrial policies:

Industrial Policy Coming Into Vogue After China Cleans US Clock by Using It

Yves quotes from a paywalled Wall Street Journal piece about the return of industrial policy:

Cont. reading: Lost In Translations - The Dangers Of Being Misled By Them

Posted by b at 16:52 UTC | Comments (76)

July 29, 2021

China Cracks Down On Tech - Its People Benefit

Back when Stephen S. Roach was Morgan Stanley's chief economist Moon of Alabama often quoted from his columns. Fifteen years ago Roach spoke out against globalization and emphasized the need of labor power. His takes stood in stark contrast to the conventional wisdom of that time. Roach retired from Morgan Stanley around 2011 and has since been a senior lecturer at the Yale School of Management.

While I had not read Roach for some time I today stumbled over a column of his which I find astonishingly wrong and badly argued.

Roach writes about China's recent clamp down on fin-tech, internet monopolies and private education companies:

China’s regulation of its spirited tech sector could be a tipping point for the economy

The subtitle is a good summary of the column:

There are legitimate reasons for China’s anti-tech campaign, but when the full force of regulation is used to strangle the business models and financing capacity of the economy’s most dynamic sector, it weakens confidence and the entrepreneurial spirit

China has recently cracked down and financial consumer services, hail services and private education companies. Alibaba's fintech spin off Ant was prohibited from going public. Didi, the Uber of China, went public in U.S. capital markets even though it been warned not to do so. Its apps were taken down and it will have to pay a severe fine. Other tech companies are also under pressure says Roach:

Moreover, there are signs of a clampdown on many other leading Chinese tech companies, including Tencent (internet conglomerate), Meituan (food delivery), Pinduoduo (e-commerce), Full Truck Alliance (truck-hailing apps Huochebang and Yunmanman), Kanzhun’s Boss Zhipin (recruitment), and online private tutoring companies like TAL Education Group and Gaotu Group. And all of this follows China’s high-profile crackdown on cryptocurrencies.

It is not as if there were a lack of reasons – in some cases, like cryptocurrencies, perfectly legitimate reasons – for China’s anti-tech campaign. Data security is the most oft-cited justification.

This is understandable in one sense, considering the high value the Chinese leadership places on its proprietary claims over big data, the high-octane fuel of its push into artificial intelligence. But it also smacks of hypocrisy in that much of the data has been gathered from the surreptitious gaze of the surveillance state.

The issue, however, is not justification. Actions can always be explained, or rationalised, after the fact. The point is that, for whatever reason, Chinese authorities are now using the full force of regulation to strangle the business models and financing capacity of the economy’s most dynamic sector.

Stephen Roach thinks, wrongly, that it is bad to restrict certain business models and financing through public offerings. But from China's point of view it makes perfect sense. Why should it care how much money foreign investors lose by that:

Cont. reading: China Cracks Down On Tech - Its People Benefit

Posted by b at 17:08 UTC | Comments (197)

July 28, 2021

Biden Is Not Ending The 'Forever Wars'. He Is Preparing The Path To New Ones.

Daniel Larison writes that Joe Biden's foreign policies are probably worse than Trump's:

Joe Biden’s foreign policy record as president in his first six months has been as bad as his non-interventionist and antiwar critics feared it would be. Biden has made one significant and correct decision that he appears to be following through on, and that is the withdrawal of the last remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but even here there is reason to worry that US forces may be relocated to other nearby countries and the war against the Taliban will continue from afar. On almost every other front, Biden has not only failed to undo some of his predecessor’s worst and most destructive policies, but in many cases he has entrenched and reinforced them.

Biden has failed to stop the U.S./Saudi war on Yemen. He is keeping troops in Iraq and Syria. His retreat from Afghanistan turns out to be fake. He is sabotaging a return to the nuclear with Iran.

The U.S. has, in contradiction to its Doha agreement with the Taliban, restarted its bombing campaign against them and is likely to continue it for years to come:

The top American general overseeing operations in Afghanistan declined to say Sunday night whether U.S. airstrikes against the Taliban would end Aug. 31, the date previously given by officials as a cutoff for such attacks.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of United States Central Command, refused to commit to ending the United States last remaining military leverage over the Taliban: airstrikes.
...
The Taliban reacted furiously to the strikes, saying they were in breach of the 2020 agreement negotiated between the militant group and the United States.

The concentration of strikes against the Taliban reflected a new sense of urgency in Washington about the imperiled Afghan government.

“I’m just not going to be able to comment about the future of U.S. airstrikes after Aug. 31,” General McKenzie told reporters after meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, and his aides earlier in the day.

The Taliban have recently done a lot of diplomacy with visits to Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. Together, with Pakistan, which continues to supply the Taliban with weapons and manpower, those countries are planing for a future where the Taliban will have total control of, or at least a significant role in. the Afghan government. They have promised to invest in a Taliban led Afghanistan.

But the U.S. will not allow a rebuilding of the silk road between China and Iran. It will not allow for safe 'Belt & Road' investments in Afghanistan. Instead of controlling Afghanistan for its own purpose, as it did with its occupation, the U.S. will, from now on, do its best to deny others to benefit from the country.

After first pressing the Afghan president to make room for an interim government, Biden is now again backing him. In a phone call last Friday Biden pledged full support for Ghani's continued hardline:

Cont. reading: Biden Is Not Ending The 'Forever Wars'. He Is Preparing The Path To New Ones.

Posted by b at 16:16 UTC | Comments (143)

July 26, 2021

U.S. - China Talks Point To A Longer Conflict

The U.S. wants to slice and dice its approach to China. It will use all means to take advantage of China where it can, while restricting China in those fields were it can no longer compete with it. The Chinese reject that approach. The U.S., they say, should not see China as an enemy. It should stop lecturing China, accept it as an equal and cooperate with it in all fields.

The U.S. is unwilling to do that. Its media-military-industrial complex is already primed for a cold war with China. Trillions of dollars are to be made from it. China on the other side is ready to play hardball if it must.

Today U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks with the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Feng, She also meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The later meeting, demanded to be the main event by the U.S., had already led to some squabble. Wang Yi is beyond Sherman's rank and her main discussion, the Chinese insisted, should be with a person on her own level:

The State Department emphasized Sherman will have “senior-level” communications but a statement from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry emphasized that Sherman “will hold talks” with Xie and after that Foreign Minister Wang will “meet her.”

On Saturday two 'senior U.S. administration officials' gave a preview of the talks:

As Secretary Blinken has said, the U.S. relationship with China will be collaborative where it can be, competitive where it should be, and adversarial where it must be. And we expect all dimensions of the relationship will be on the table for discussion during Wendy’s meetings.
...
In Tianjin, [Sherman is] going to make clear while we welcome stiff and sustained competition with the PRC, everyone needs to play by the same rules and on the level – on a level playing field.

She’s going to underscore that we do not want that stiff and sustained competition to veer into conflict. This is why the U.S. wants to ensure that there are guard rails and parameters in place to responsibly manage the relationship.

The second official added:

Cont. reading: U.S. - China Talks Point To A Longer Conflict

Posted by b at 16:20 UTC | Comments (310)

July 25, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-057

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-057

Posted by b at 13:33 UTC | Comments (215)

July 23, 2021

Canada, Victims Of Communism, And Comparisons To A Holocaust

Canada seems to have some rather ambiguous position towards fascists. While it compares China's handling of its Uyghur population to a holocaust it is itself favoring the perpetrators of the real Holocaust.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation reports of donations from supporters of east-European nazis to a Canadian anti-communist organization:

A controversial monument being built in Ottawa to honour victims of communist regimes has received donations in honour of known fascists and Nazi collaborators, according to a list posted online by the organization spearheading the project.

The Memorial to the Victims of Communism is being financed partly through a "buy-a-brick" campaign called Pathways to Liberty, which is run by the registered charity Tribute to Liberty.

The campaign sells "virtual bricks" that appear on the organization's website and in their newsletter. The bricks are dedicated to alleged victims of communism and include biographical notes about the individuals being commemorated.
...
An organization calling itself the General Committee of United Croats of Canada purchased virtual bricks dedicated to Ante Pavelić, describing him only as a "doctor of laws."

Pavelić was the wartime leader of the Ustaša, the fascist organization that ran the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi puppet regime. In this role, Pavelić was the chief perpetrator of the Holocaust in the Balkans. Approximately 32,000 Jews, 25,000 Roma and 330,000 Serbs were murdered by the regime.
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An organization calling itself the Knightly Order of Vitéz purchased five bricks. "Several members of the order actively participated in the persecution, despoliation and, in 1944, the deportation of the Hungarian Jews," said László Karsai, a professor of history at the University of Szeged.

Vitéz members included high-ranking members of the Nazi-puppet government established late in the war, which organized the deportation of some 437,000 Hungarian Jews. "It was the biggest, fastest deportation action of the Holocaust," said Karsai. "Several tens of thousands of Vitéz members got large lands (from) Jewish properties."

The League of Ukrainian Canadians' Edmonton Branch, meanwhile, purchased five virtual bricks in honour of Roman Shukhevych — who led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during the Second World War and was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Belarusians, Jews, Poles and Ukrainians.

The Victims of Communism memorial project in Canada is a copy of a similar project in Washington DC. It has high level support:

In 2013, the Harper government pledged $1.5 million to the project, a figure that increased to $3 million by 2014. By the end of 2014, the project's budget had ballooned to $5.5 million, with a taxpayer contribution of $4.3 million.
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A NCC spokesperson said the estimated total cost of the monument is now $7.5 million, with $6 million coming from the federal government after Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland included an additional $4 million in this spring's budget to complete the monument.
...
The monument has received letters of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Green party leader Elizabeth May, former NDP leader Tom Mulcair and former federal justice minister Irwin Cotler.

The generous with tax dollars Chrystia Freeland is known for her support of fascists in the Ukraine. It relates to her family's history:

Cont. reading: Canada, Victims Of Communism, And Comparisons To A Holocaust

Posted by b at 18:10 UTC | Comments (134)