Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 28, 2014

Anne Applebaum's Dull Conspiracy Existence

The neocon demagogue Anne Applebaum asks:

No one has yet explained, for example, why Ukrainian President Viktor Yanu­kovych not only left Kiev last week after signing a treaty brokered by the European Union but also ordered security guards to abandon all government buildings as well. Was that an unsubtle invitation for the opposition to ransack the offices so that he could claim he had been chased out by a violent coup?

No, Mrs. Applebaum, it wasn't. The removal of the guards was a condition in the agreement (not "treaty") brokered by the European Union.

Both parties will undertake serious efforts for the normalisation of life in the cities and villages by withdrawing from administrative and public buildings and unblocking streets, city parks and squares.

Yanukovych kept his promises but the agreement was immediately broken by the fascist Pravyi Sektor rioters:

Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, a coalition of hard-line nationalist groups, reacted defiantly to news of the settlement, drawing more cheers from the crowd.

“The agreements that were reached do not correspond to our aspirations,” he said. “Right Sector will not lay down arms. Right Sector will not lift the blockade of a single administrative building until our main demand is met — the resignation of Yanukovych.”

The fascist then stormed government buildings and the parliament where beleaguered opposition politicians then illegally "impeached" the president.

Sure, Yanukovich made a big mistake in believing that the rioters would adher to any agreement. But to spin Yanu­kovych's adherence to the agreement he signed and the fascists breaking it as a KGB conspiracy is quite a feat.

The riot police has been dissolved and the fascist in the new coup government are now in control of each and every security department:

[T]he most questions about the new government's direction will be raised by several key appointments of ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) and Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) members to leading roles in the Defense Ministry, National Defense and Security Council, and the Prosecutor General's office.

These people, and the U.S. favorite Yatsenyuk, now have all the power of the state while the EU supported opposition UDAR party of former boxer Klitschko is not even part of the government. It too was nulanded. The new fascist monopoly of force will make sure things turn out well ... or not.

But should this go wrong as the pogroms start, as it is likely to happen, Anne Applebaum will certainly claim that this coup was a KGB conspiracy to begin with. To Mrs. Applebaum ANYTHING that is anti-Russian must be from the free will of the people while anything that might be turnout to be somewhat pro-Russian must be a KGB plot.

Isn't being such a one-trick-pony a rather dull existence?

Posted by b on February 28, 2014 at 7:42 UTC | Permalink | Comments (164)

February 27, 2014

GCHQ Wankers

Somewhere, a British spy is wanking to your last naked video chat:

The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity". Discussing efforts to make the interface "safer to use", it noted that current "naïve" pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people's faces as pornography.

How much "desirable nudity" do those GCHQ analysts look at?

There seems to be more concern at the GHCQ for "protecting" its staff from seeing some pornography-like pictures than there is for the privacy of millions of normal people. Is that the right balance?

Those who argue against these untargeted "collect it all" attempts by the spy agencies will soon be confronted with this counter-argument: "People who show "undesirable nudity" during their webchats are severely hindering the essential work NSA and GHCQ do. They are thereby objectively SUPPORTING THE TERRORISTS!"

Posted by b on February 27, 2014 at 14:28 UTC | Permalink | Comments (24)

February 26, 2014

Open Thread 2014-04

News & views ...

Posted by b on February 26, 2014 at 17:40 UTC | Permalink | Comments (114)

February 25, 2014

A Few Ukraine Coup Links

A collection of interesting reads on how the putsch in the Ukraine happened and the background behind it.

Max Blumenthal is looking at the historic background of the Nazi groups in the Ukraine and there relation with Ukrainian exile groups in the United States. The connections are deeper than one might have thought:

Is the U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine? - Exposing troubling ties in the U.S. to overt Nazi and fascist protesters in Ukraine.

Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements. “You have to understand, we are an underground organization. We have spent years quietly penetrating positions of influence,” one member told journalist Russ Bellant, who documented the group’s resurgence in the United States in his 1988 book, “Old Nazis, New Right, and the Republican Party.”

In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.

Paula Dobriansky was on of the neo-cons in the Bush administration:

According to her State Department biography, Dobriansky's background includes having "lectured and published articles, book chapters, and op-ed pieces on foreign affairs-related topics, ranging from U.S. human rights policy to East European foreign and defense policies, public diplomacy, democracy promotion strategies, Russia, and Ukraine.

The current lead on Eastern Europe in the State Department is "fuck the EU" neo-con Victoria Nuland. The coup in Kiev was a neo-con project.

Also this comment by markfromireland at Ian Welsh's blog:

To eliminate Russia as a threat to American hegemony you need to hive of The Ukraine and use it as a forward post against Russian resurgence.

This is why the Americans have been exerting massive pressure on the European Commission and on European governments to bring the Ukraine into the North American/North Western European economic sphere. With the UKraine in the “Western” camp they can stymie Russian efforts to drag the Baltic Republics back into orbit around Russia. Without it that becomes far more difficult.

There are allegations in the following piece that parts of the neo-nazis that attacked the police in Kiev have been trained in NATO countries. I have not verified this but it seems plausible: Ukraine: Neo-Nazi Criminal State Looming In Centre Of Europe – Analysis

A number of NATO-sponsored training centers for the Ukrainian ultranationalist militants were opened on the territory of the Baltic states immediately after they joined NATO in 2004. The detailed photo report on a Ukrainian group taking a course of subversive activities at a NATO training center in Estonia in 2006 is available here (texts in Russian).

Abundant financial and human resources were directed to bolster the paramilitary units of the radical UNA-UNSO, Svoboda and other ultranationalist organizations in the Ukraine. Since 1990s these thugs were participating in the Chechen and Balkan wars on the side of radical Wahhabi (!) militants and committing war crimes against captured Russian and Serbian soldiers and civilian population. One of the notorious guerilla fighters of the Ukrainian origin in Chechnya, Olexander Muzychko (aka criminal leader Sasha Biliy) today is heading a brigade of “Pravyi Sector”, the radical militant driving force of the ongoing coup d’état in Kiev.

There have been reports, also mentioned in the above, from Russian sources that, allegedly, Israeli special forces were involved with the anti-semitic neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. That may sound implausible until you recognize that Israeli state policy is to move as many Jews as possible to Israel. To frighten those who still want to stay in their native country by promoting anti-semitic forces makes sense withing this (in itself anti-semitic) policy frame:

For the life of me, I don’t understand the Jews living in France. I don’t understand the Jews living in Poland. I don’t understand the one Jew living in Afghanistan (nor the one living in Eritrea) and I can’t believe there are still 100 Jews in Egypt, Algeria, Iraq or Botswana. I don’t understand the Jews living in the Ukraine and, to be honest, I don’t much understand the Jews living in America either.
But seriously — if you are a Jew living in the Ukraine today, why aren’t you packing your bags? If you are a Jew living in France, do you really expect it to get better? And, if you are a Jew living in the US, do you expect your grandchildren to still be Jewish?

Chinahand aka Peter Lee explains how the U.S., by threatening sanctions on one oligarch, managed to change the majority in the Ukrainian parliament against Yanukovich: Looks Like US Played Hardball in the Ukraine...and Against the EU:

So, by a less-than-generous view, it might be suspected that the United States encouraged demonstrators to break the truce, with the expectation that violence would occur and Yanukovich’s equivocal fat cat backers, such as Akhmetov, would jump ship because the US had already informed them that their assets in the West would be at risk under US and EU sanctions.

If this is the case, the EU perhaps has additional reason to feel sore and resentful at the US. By blowing up the truce and the transition deal, Nuland got Yanukovich out and “Yats”—the preferred US proxy, Arseniy Yatsenyuk—in, but at the cost of terminally alienating the Ukraine’s pro-Russian segment—a segment, it might be pointed out, was actually able to elect Yanukovich in a free and fair election a while back.

I do not expect any Russian move on the Ukraine. Putin will now sit back and let the "west" squabble about who will throw tons of money into the bottomless pit that Ukraine is going to become. No politician in Kiev who wants to be re-elected will dare to sign an IMF agreement that will send a generation of the Ukrainian people into deep poverty. Unless there are nazi-progroms in Russian affiliated parts of the Ukraine Putin now just has to wait for the apple to fall from the tree.

Posted by b on February 25, 2014 at 15:50 UTC | Permalink | Comments (139)

February 24, 2014

Ukraine: NSA "Leak" As A Threat To Merkel

The United States and the EU disagree about the Ukraine. The Europeans would prefer not to incite the Russians (hey, they deliver the gas that heats our homes) and would prefer some compromise outcome in the Ukraine. That was the very reason why the EU financial offer to the Ukraine was paltry to begin with and had to be rejected. The U.S. wants a confrontation with Russia and a totally compliant puppet regime in Ukraine. While Merkel would like to install her protege boxer Klitschko in the Ukraine she does not want to pay for it - at least not much. The U.S. dislikes Merkel's choice and wants to install its own oligarch. That the very reason why the neocon U.S. assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland said "fuck the EU".

Now the U.S. managed to take down the political structure in the Ukraine and it wants to take over the whole show. But it still wants Europe, especially Germany, to pay for the mess.

Thus this OpEd by a U.S. propagandist Ulrich Speck in today's NYT: What the West Must Do for Ukraine

Because the offer was so weak, the door was open for Mr. Putin to sabotage it and for Mr. Yanukovych to reject it. Now the European Union needs to come back with a better offer — not just association, but membership.
Ms. Merkel must now show courage and strategic competence. If Eastern Europe becomes unstable, Germany will be affected too — and deeply so. Only Berlin has the necessary weight and connections to bring all key players on board to make significant change possible.

Interesting how the "west" is now reduced to Berlin paying up - and nothing else is meant here. And notice that little threat if "Eastern Europe becomes unstable, Germany will be affected too"? "Nice house you have there. Too bad if something would happen to it."

There was an additional reminder this weekend for Mrs Merkel that she better do what she is told:

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has stepped up its surveillance of senior German government officials since being ordered by Barack Obama to halt its spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bild am Sonntag paper reported on Sunday.
Bild am Sonntag said its information stemmed from a high-ranking NSA employee in Germany and that those being spied on included Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a close confidant of Merkel.

A "high-ranking NSA employee in Germany" talking to Germany's most pro-U.S. broadsheet is not a whistle blower but an official issuing an authorized leak meant as a threat.

The notice to Merkel: Pay up and don't even think of brokering a deal with Putin behind our back.

Posted by b on February 24, 2014 at 17:45 UTC | Permalink | Comments (95)

February 23, 2014

Do Svidanya Sochi

The Russians delivered tremendous Olympic games with beautiful shows, interesting competitions and with humor and love.

The "western" media did their best to denigrate the games even before they started. The U.S. government put out ridiculous terror warnings to keep its citizens away from the games. U.S. journalists spitted about alleged double toilet bowl stalls which were obviously photographed during renovation works. Russia was portrayed as homophobic.

But the games were beautiful. There was no terror, no gay bashing and the organization was as perfect as it can be. Where things went wrong they were resolved with humor and good will.

That one Olympic ring that did not open correctly during the opening ceremony? It was reflected on in the closing ceremony when dancers humorously re-enacted that faulty ring opening with the faulty one eventually opening too. Make a mistakes, laugh about it and correct it. That's Russia!

The idea to use the floor of the Fisht stadium as a huge projection screen was great. The use of the stadium roof as a gigantic multiple crane runway for moving objects and people in a third stage level was brilliant. Projections, lightning, music and fireworks all were used to perfection.

The themes: Russian art, Russian ballet, Russian classic music, Russian literature, Russian history, Russian circuses. It was all about Russia the Great. And beautiful. The closing: a poetic invitation to self reflection in large levitating mirrors. The big bear mascot dropping a tear as the flame goes out. Hollywood can do no better.

There were also great tributes to all the athletes and their efforts, struggles and victories. The Wall Street Journal had predicted 27 medals for Russia, 6 of them gold. Russian athletes won 33 medals, 13 of them gold. Predicted for the United States 32(13), achieved 28(9). Take that you party-poopers.

The Russians will be very proud of these games. They will be grateful to their government and president for having delivered them. The internal and external message is understood: Russia has again found itself and it is stronger than ever.

The U.S. is ill informed about and underestimating Russia. Therein lies the possibility of serious miscalculations.

Posted by b on February 23, 2014 at 18:29 UTC | Permalink | Comments (42)

Ukraine: Move To Replace The President Is Illegal

The Ukrainian opposition claims it wants to associate with the European Union because they desire the rule of law. Why do they then break the law and try to illegally remove the elected president from his office?

The parliament now says it has temporarily handed the president's powers to speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, a top ally of gas oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko. But that move certainly did not follow Article 111 (impeachment) of the Ukrainian constitution:

  • The President of Ukraine may be removed from office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the procedure of impeachment, in the event that he or she commits state treason or other crime.
  • The issue of the removal of the President of Ukraine from office by the procedure of impeachment is initiated by the majority of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
  • To conduct the investigation, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine establishes a special temporary investigatory commission whose composition includes a special procurator and special investigators.
  • The conclusions and proposals of the temporary investigatory commission are considered at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
  • For cause, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by no less than two-thirds of its constitutional composition, adopts a decision on the accusation of the President of Ukraine.
  • The decision on the removal of the President of Ukraine from office by the procedure of impeachment is adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by no less than three-quarters of its constitutional composition, after the review of the case by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the receipt of its opinion on the observance of the constitutional procedure of investigation and consideration of the case of impeachment, and the receipt of the opinion of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to the effect that the acts, of which the President of Ukraine is accused, contain elements of state treason or other crime.

As far as I can tell none of the highlighted points have been met. Replacing the president through a simple vote is clearly illegal. It is also breaking the agreement achieved two days ago with the pressure from three EU ministers.

Instead of leaving the place as had been agreed the fascist groups on the Maidan are growing with more radicals arriving. In the east pro Russian Ukrainians are preparing self defense groups.

By each hour the situation is getting more and more out of control. The sorcerers apprentices, though not admitting it yet, are now helpless. Who will be the first to call up Moscow and to ask Putin for help?

Posted by b on February 23, 2014 at 16:00 UTC | Permalink | Comments (78)

Syria: Fragmented Insurgents Can Not Win

The opposition situation in Syria is further fragmenting leaving the anti-Syrian forces with no real structure to work with.

The U.S. and the Orwellian named "friends of Syria" first supported Burhan Ghalioun as the head of the Syrian National Council. The next white men's hope was Moaz al Khatib. Then came one Ghassan Hitto. Then the Muslim Brotherhood organisation Syrian National Council was widened into the Syrian National Coalition and the Saudis installed Ahmad al-Jarba as its leader. The U.S. then promoted Salim Idriss and his Supreme Military Council as its favorite. Meanwhile the Syrian National Coalition kicked out the original exile opposition group Syrian National Council.

Last week Salim Idriss was kicked out as leader of the Supreme Military Council and replaced by the rather unknown Abdul-Ilah al Bashir. Idriss, together with nine of his commanders and their groups, is fighting back. Another insurgency leader who currently leads an outlet named Syrian Revolutionaries Front, Jamal Maarouf, is lobbying in Washington to become the new favorite U.S. assets.

The myriad fighting "brigades" are seemingly changing their allegiances by the day depending on who is willing to pay them or who offers the better loot. The three Al-Qaeda affiliates, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are fighting each other with ISIS today killing Ahrar al-Sham leader Abu Khalid al-Suri who was a personal acquaintance of Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Layth al-Libi.

The chaos within the opposition is predictably helping those who fight against them. In the north and east the Kurdish groups, at peace with the Syrian government, are winning ground. In the south and west the Syrian Arab Army is making steady progress. Local truces, in effect local surrender acknowledgements by insurgent groups, are now regular occurrences. An attempt by U.S. trained forces to take on Damascus, with Pakistani weapons delivered through the Saudis and coming from Jordan, was bombed into the ground before they could show any effect.

The fighting will continue for a while but I am more assured then ever before that the Syrian government will win against the insurrection and the assorted foreign payed mercenaries.

Posted by b on February 23, 2014 at 15:19 UTC | Permalink | Comments (15)

February 22, 2014

Ukraine: "From the spirits that I called - Sir, deliver me!"

What a deluge! What a flood!
Lord and master, hear my call!
Ah, here comes the master!
I have need of Thee!
from the spirits that I called
Sir, deliver me!
J.W. Goethe - The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The opposition in the Ukraine and its paymasters in the U.S. and EU called up the spirits of the right, the fascist, to wage a coup against the elected president and to push their selfish objectives onto the Ukrainian public.

Now those spirits won't go away:

It was difficult to know how much of the fury voiced on Friday night in Independence Square was fiery bravado, a final cry of anger before the three-month-long protest movement winds down or the harbinger of yet more and possibly worse violence to come.

Vividly clear, however, was the wide gulf that had opened up between the opposition’s political leadership and a street movement that has radicalized and slipped far from the already tenuous control of politicians.
Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, a coalition of hard-line nationalist groups, reacted defiantly to news of the settlement, drawing more cheers from the crowd.

“The agreements that were reached do not correspond to our aspirations,” he said. “Right Sector will not lay down arms. Right Sector will not lift the blockade of a single administrative building until our main demand is met — the resignation of Yanukovych.”

Even if Yanukovych resigns the demands of the fascist rioters will not end. Ukraine's chief rabbi tells Kiev's Jews to flee city and he has very good reasons to do so. Right Sector and the Svoboda party are well known for accute anti-semitism.

Yesterday sixty eight members of the ruling party of the regions changed over to the opposition which now has a majority in parliament. The parliament then changed the constitution to dismantle presidential powers, fired the interior minister who commanded the police force to defend government buildings and freed the corrupt gas-princess Tymoshenko from jail.

Putin will be smiling.

What the propagandists in the "west" always fail to mention is that Tymoshenko was jailed for a gas deal that favored Russia. She was in jail for agreeing to pay, allegedly, too high prices. Yanukovych, the man Putin hates and despises as a loser, is now out. Tymoshenko, the woman Putin loves signing lucrative trade deals with, is in. As the Ukrainian industry is not viable without access to Russian markets and the Ukrainian energy supply depends on Russian gas deliveries Moscow still has, and will continue to have, the upper hand over the Ukraine. At least half of the Ukrainian population is pro-Russian. No color revolution version 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 and no IMF austerity loan will change those facts.

Parts of the Ukraine will soon show signs of anarchy with those that protested and rioted without having any real aim moving towards criminal activities. The opposition, which is now empowered and will have to deliver results, will soon squabble and will again fall apart. The fascist forces, euphemistically called "nationalists" in "western" media, will win more power.

The sorcerer's apprentices in Washington and Brussels will come to understand that they can not control the spirits they called upon. They will need to call the master to put the spirits they awoke back into their holes. The international number they will need to call starts with 007 495.


Posted by b on February 22, 2014 at 14:19 UTC | Permalink | Comments (121)

February 21, 2014

Anti-China CIA Asset Meets Obama

Obama to meet with Dalai Lama at White House in move certain to irritate China

BEIJING — The Dalai Lama is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday morning - their third meeting in four years ...
While the Dalai Lama is being careful not to say things in public that could harm his people back in Tibet, the subject of human rights is likely to come up at the White House. “We are concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement Thursday. She added the United States continues to supports the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” approach to Tibet, which advocates neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in Tibet.

Three meeting in four years are more than what senior NATO ally head of states can expect. It is also seriously damaging the relations with China. Why is Obama so eager to meet the Dalai Lama? What does "continue to support the Dalai Lama" mean? Continued, by the way, since the early 1950s ...

The Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged today that it received $1.7 million a year in the 1960's from the Central Intelligence Agency, but denied reports that the Tibetan leader benefited personally from an annual subsidy of $180,000.

The money allocated for the resistance movement was spent on training volunteers and paying for guerrilla operations against the Chinese, the Tibetan government-in-exile said in a statement. It added that the subsidy earmarked for the Dalai Lama was spent on setting up offices in Geneva and New York and on international lobbying.

The Dalai Lama, 63, a revered spiritual leader both in his Himalayan homeland and in Western nations, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against a Chinese military occupation, which began in 1950.

The National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA related, Congress funded venture, is still spending lots of money on Tibetan groups related to the Dalai Lama. And that is only the publicly acknowledged part.

The people the Dalai Lama leads are, like the Jihadists in Libya and Syria and the Fascists in the Ukraine, very reactionary forces. Even their functionaries have to admit that the old society they wish to somewhat reestablish was an authoritarian, backward mess:

[A]ccording to the Chinese version of Tibet's history, before its "peaceful liberation" in 1951 (when Tibet was required to recognize Chinese sovereignty), Tibet was a benighted place where a few "feudal" and "reactionary" aristocrats together with monks oppressed a majority population of serfs and slaves, mostly by addling their minds with ritual and superstition. This may sound like Communist propaganda, but Chen Kuiyuan, one of the Chinese technocrats to have ruled Tibet in recent years, didn't exaggerate much when he pointed out in a 1997 speech that "when the Dalai ruled Tibet, there was not a single regular school; children of the working people had no right or opportunity to receive an education, and more than 90 percent of the Tibetan people were illiterate."

Even Samdhong Rinpoche admits this is true ...

How come this CIA asset gets three meetings in four years with this president? Are they cooking up something new against China? A Color Revolution 2.0 scenario like in Libya, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine?


Posted by b on February 21, 2014 at 6:22 UTC | Permalink | Comments (47)

February 20, 2014

Ukraine: White House Is "Outraged By Images"

Anti-government protesters aim their weapons during clashes with riot police at Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014.  (Vasily Fedosenko)

The White House - Office of the Press Secretary

We are outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people. We urge President Yanukovych to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kyiv and to respect the right of peaceful protest, ...

One wonders what pictures the White House is looking at? Well, of course the real pictures ain't so helpful in pushing for "regime change".

More "outrageous" pictures below the fold ...

(Pics taken from this thread)

Posted by b on February 20, 2014 at 16:50 UTC | Permalink | Comments (142)

February 19, 2014

The Ukrainian Government Is Fighting Fascists

Some news accounts of yesterday's fighting in Kiev make it look as if the government yesterday started the fighting by clearing the Maidan plaza. That was not the case.

There was an attempt by the opposition in parliament to change the constitution. That attempted was defeated by the dully elected majority coalition. Opposition protester then violently attacked the parliament building and tried to storm it. The police responded to that, pressed the protester back and later proceed to kick them out of their launching position. The violent protesters, mostly fascists, confirmed that timeline of events:

Some protesters acknowledged that they had contributed to the violent spiral of events by attacking police officers during street battles early in the day near the Ukrainian Parliament, which the opposition had hoped would approve constitutional amendments curbing President Yanukovych’s powers.

The Ukrainian government is fighting against well armed fascists, not against peaceful protesters. Doug Saunders of Canada's Globe & Mail recently visited Kiev:

This is the headquarters of Pravy Sektor, or Right Sector, the ultra-right-wing movement, described by some as fascist, whose hundreds of soldiers (they call themselves an army) have become the sharp edge of the two-month-old protest movement that has upturned the politics of Ukraine, cost several lives and forced President Viktor Yanukovych to dismiss the government and promise to reform the constitution.
[T]he physical organization of these protests, the building of barricades around squares, much of the camp construction and policing, and the pitched and sometimes deadly battles with police are almost entirely the work of the extreme right. In some of Ukraine’s smaller cities, the local protests and seizures of government buildings appear to have been entirely the work of Pravy Sektor.

These folks are evil. Let us hope that Yanukovich now finally, though three month too late in my view, is coming down hard on them.

Posted by b on February 19, 2014 at 17:00 UTC | Permalink | Comments (164)

February 18, 2014

Syria: U.S. Option Review Finds All Are Still Bad

We questioned in  Real Or Propaganda? New Weapons To Syrian Mercenaries the report about MANPAD deliveries to mercenaries in Syria. Some U.S. official now claims that the U.S. is opposed to such deliveries. That may well be true but could also be an attempt to achieve plausible deniability. Either way it means that the number of MANPADs going to insurgents will likely be very limited.

The U.S can still not come to terms with a survival of the syrian government under president Assad and is again looking at all the options of what it could do that it had already looked at and found to be bad. They are still all bad. There are some signs of panic though. How else to explain that the administration is asking the guy who helped to lose two wars on how to win one?

Mr. Kerry recently discussed military and intelligence options in Syria in a private meeting with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2012, according to an official close to Mr. Petraeus. While CIA director, Mr. Petraeus, a former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and Iraq, was a leading behind-the-scenes advocate of aiding the rebels in Syria.

None of the new-old options listed in the linked piece, from no-fly zones to training more mercenaries, makes any sense. Syria and its allies would surely successfully counter any of them. But the administration is under constant pressure to do "something" and Obama is a rather weak person and may give in to it.

It is interesting that all the options listed are somehow connected to action in south Syria. The north seems to no longer be in play. Did Turkey, after Erdogan's recent visit to Tehran and with upcoming election, say no to further involvement? The concentration on a southern schwerpunkt might also be the reason why the Syrian Military Council leader Idris was pushed out and replaced with a southern puppet.

In total the state of play in Syria continues to move in favor of the government side. More and more groups agree to truce offers, give up their heavy weapons and essentially concede to have lost the fight. On can indeed argue that the civil war is dying a slow, agonizing death.

Posted by b on February 18, 2014 at 16:08 UTC | Permalink | Comments (19)

CNN Propaganda - "Lone Kid In The Desert" Edition

Yesterday Hala Gorani, "Anchor, CNN's International Desk", tweeted this:


The "4 year-old crossing desert alone" was retweeted over 7,500 time.

But this picture did not look quite right and some people digged into the story. Was that kid really alone in the desert?

Here is a wider shot as provided by Andrew Harper, "UNHCR's Representative to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".


The real picture, showing the kid was just following a large group, was retweeted, as of now, only some 150 times.

Posted by b on February 18, 2014 at 8:07 UTC | Permalink | Comments (18)

February 17, 2014

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is John Kerry - Global Warming Edition

Kerry Implores Indonesia on Climate Change Peril

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Secretary of State John Kerry urged Indonesia on Sunday to take steps to combat climate change, warning that failure to act would jeopardize the nation’s resources and damage its economy.
“This city, this country, this region is really on the front lines of climate change,” Mr. Kerry said in a speech. “It’s not an exaggeration to say to you that your entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.”

List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita

Rank 12, United States, 19.3 metric tons of CO2 per capita (2007)

Rank 130, Indonesia, 1.8 metric tons of CO2 per capita (2007)

Posted by b on February 17, 2014 at 9:39 UTC | Permalink | Comments (39)

February 15, 2014

Real Or Propaganda? New Weapons To Syrian Mercenaries

I am not sure what to think about this Wall Street Journal piece. Its alternative headline is Saudis Agree to Place Large Holes in El Al Planes at Some Future Date:

AMMAN, Jordan—Washington's Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.

Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia, according to an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the efforts.

I am unsure if this is just scaremongering or real. I doubt that the United States, which largely controls the weapons flow at least to south Syria, as well as its waging tail Israel would ever agree to such. All weapons in Syria can change hands in unpredictable ways.

The U.S. pays and thereby probably believes to control the mercenaries on the ground:

The U.S. for its part has stepped up financial support, handing over millions of dollars in new aid to pay fighters' salaries, said rebel commanders who received some of the money.

It is dubious that the rather loose string of being a replaceable money source gives much control at all.

The Israeli and U.S. plan is to create a buffer zone in the South to enable a further Israeli land grab in the Golan. That is the reason why Israel is supplying and supporting the fighters there.

There are now new threats from Obama to "apply new pressure" on Syria because the second round of the Geneva II talks ended inconclusive. That "new pressure" will be the new weapon supplies. But the WSJ piece makes clears these new supplies have nothing to do with the Geneva II round but were planned much earlier:

Rebel leaders say they met with U.S. and Saudi intelligence agents, among others, in Jordan on Jan. 30 as the first round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva came to a close. That is when wealthy Gulf States offered the more sophisticated weapons.

The U.S. is not letting up from its "regime change" aim. I have long favored some action in Jordan and Turkey to discourage those countries from their support roles for the mercenaries and insurgents. One wonders why the Syrian services seem unable to provide such. Could Russia help?

Posted by b on February 15, 2014 at 16:32 UTC | Permalink | Comments (72)

Anti-Union Vote Will Kill New Tennessee Production Line

Volkswagen workers reject United Auto Workers

Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., have rejected the United Auto Workers, shooting down the union’s hopes of securing a foothold at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South.
The UAW had advantages in organizing the Volkswagen plant it probably won’t find elsewhere. For starters, Volkswagen — under pressure from the powerful German steelworkers’ union, IG Metall, which holds seats on the company’s board — decided not to resist unionization. The union’s presence would have also allowed the company to set up a German-style “works council,” in which representatives of both workers and middle management offer advice to executives on how to best run the plant.

The workers who voted against the union are stupid. Some rightwing politicians told them that Volkswagen would not build an additional production line there should the workers vote for the union and thereby for a workers council. The boss at the plant denied that. The plant in Chattanooga is now the only major Volkswagen plant without a works council. Such work councils are one of the success factors for Volkswagen.

New production line facilities for Volkswagen are decided by the global board in Germany where the global unions have half minus one of the votes. Where do the people in Tennessee think will those board members put a new production line? At that lone "rebellious" plant where the workers voted against the established management structure that works in the 100+ other Volkswagen factories and for their 550,000 other workers?


Posted by b on February 15, 2014 at 13:48 UTC | Permalink | Comments (49)

February 14, 2014

More "Democracy Promotion" In Libya

The CIA's (and the Saudi's) main asset in Libya, the anti-Ghaddafi general Khalifa Haftar, is staging a coup against the somewhat elected puppet government in Libya:

A Libyan military commander on Friday called for the suspension of the interim parliament and the formation of a presidential committee to govern until new elections are held.
"The national command of the Libyan army is declaring a movement for the new road map," Haftar said in a statement in which he said the armed forces were calling for the country to be "rescued" from its upheaval.

Of course no one in Washington will, like in the case of Eygpt, actually call this a "coup". This is another fine moment of U.S. sponsored "democracy promotion."

It is no coincidence that it comes now as the green flag of Ghaddafi's movement is again raised in parts of Libya. Haftar's job will again be to facilitate and support AlQaeda affiliated forces from east Libya against the nationalists who are regaining power in the south and west. But without NATO air support, not likely to come again, Haftar's forces only have a small chance to win.

Posted by b on February 14, 2014 at 10:14 UTC | Permalink | Comments (13)

February 13, 2014

Open Thread 2014-03

(still busy ...)

News & views ...

Posted by b on February 13, 2014 at 18:00 UTC | Permalink | Comments (88)

February 11, 2014

Syria: More OpEd Nonsense While NYT Editorial Begins To Make Sense

A rather weird OpEd in the New York Times argues for a military "responsibility-to-protect" intervention to provide "human corridors" to allegedly starving Syrians:

If Russia blocks meaningful international action, and if the Assad regime or any rebel group refuses to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged areas, the sieges must be broken by any means necessary.

We should invoke the Responsibility to Protect, the principle that if a state fails to protect its populations from mass atrocities — or is in fact the perpetrator of such crimes — the international community must step in to protect the victims, with the collective use of force authorized by the Security Council. And if a multinational force cannot be assembled, then at least some countries should step up and organize Syria’s democratically oriented rebel groups to provide the necessary force on the ground, with air cover from participating nations.

So if Russia and China block a Security Council resolution there must be an R2P Security Council resolution which Russia and China would block making any further action obviously illigeal.  Then some countries could illegally use military forces to help the no-existing "democratically oriented rebel groups" to provide whatever.

The once blocked Yarmouk Palestinian camp has been cleared from fighters against the government and is back under Palestinian and government control. Nearly half of the 2,000 civilians in a small area within Homs city that was under siege and that also holds several thousand of fighters have left the area. The next big areas which are under siege and in need of relief are the 50,000 people in the Shia towns al-Zahraa and Nubl. They are besieged by insurgents. Are we to believe that "democratically oriented rebel groups" will provide for them? And which country would be crazy enough to send its military to Syria to receive the wrath not only of the Syrian and Russian governments but also of the al-Qaeda oriented jihadis?

Compared to that nonsense the main editorial in today's NYT makes nearly makes  sense:

[A] political solution is not out of the question if some right choices are made. The United States, for one, should drop its opposition to including Iran, which supplies arms and other assistance to Mr. Assad, in the negotiations. Russia, another weapons supplier, could send a powerful message to Mr. Assad by suspending its arms deliveries. Saudi Arabia and Qatar could send the same message to Mr. Assad’s opposition by ending weapons deliveries to the rebels. And Turkey could close its border to the foreign fighters that have turned Syria into a cauldron of extremist elements that threaten the entire region.

That is more realistic position than the so far uttered ones in the U.S. editorial world. But isn't it funny that it doesn't mention Jordan where the U.S. trains insurgents, provides them with weapons and then send them off to fight in Syria. Should that, in the mind of the NYT editors, continue?

Interestingly president Obama picked up one issue from that editorial today. In a press confernece with the French president Hollande Obama called on the international community to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.

Was that directed at the Saudis and Turkey?

Posted by b on February 11, 2014 at 18:01 UTC | Permalink | Comments (69)