Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 31, 2014

Liar, Liar ...

... pants on fire ...

CIA Director Brennan Denies Hacking Allegations, March 11 2014

BRENNAN: As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn't do that. I mean, that's -- that's just beyond the -- you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.

CIA improperly accessed Senate computers, agency finds, July 31 2014

WASHINGTON — CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency’s now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

... your nose is longer than a telephone wire ...

PS: Does anybody still believe that the CIA is not sniffing on Congress' business? That it does not blackmail representatives and senators or that it does not otherwise illegally interferes in the business of the legislative?

Posted by b on July 31, 2014 at 16:05 UTC | Permalink | Comments (63)

July 30, 2014

Gaza: Market Attack A "Ceasefire" Trap?

Today:

As the security cabinet meets, Israel decides to enact a limited humanitarian ceasefire from 3 to 7 p.m. [local time].

“The humanitarian window will not apply to the areas in which IDF soldiers are currently operating,” says the army in a statement. “Residents must not return to areas that have previously been asked to evacuate.”

Hamas called this Israeli "We will not shoot except where we will shoot" ceasefire a publicity stunt.

It may have been something worse than that. It probably was trap:

GAZA CITY, Palestine: At least 17 people were killed and more than 200 people wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a market near Gaza City Wednesday, medics said.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the strike hit a busy market in the battered Shejaiya neighborhood, which lies between Gaza City and the border with Israel.

The strike came shortly after the Israeli army said it was observing a humanitarian lull that would be in force for four hours from 1200 GMT.

The people were out getting food because they thought the ceasefire might give them enough security to do so. The result was was quite a carnage (graphic video). Israel has all kinds of unmanned and manned observation platforms flying over Gaza. It could certainly see the people out in a busy market. But as always the Israeli spokesperson will first feign ignorance and then blame the resistance for this massacre. Usually such blame does not hold up to scrutiny.

This is not the first instance where Israel seems to trap people. How do you call it when Israel tells people to leave their home and take shelter and then shells the well known shelter and kills over 20 of those in there?

A trap would also fit the criminal concept of collective punishment:

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment: It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force.

I am not aware of any conflict in history in which collective punishment was a successful in bringing a conflict to an end. It always seems to increase the support for the resistance. One therefore wonders why Israeli is trying this at all.

Posted by b on July 30, 2014 at 16:19 UTC | Permalink | Comments (100)

July 29, 2014

Ukraine: Pentagon Sees Ballistic Missile Launches - Why Then No MH17 Data?

Pentagon officials tell CNN (video) that the Ukrainian government fired three ballistic missiles towards the federalists during the last 48 hours. Such missiles have ranges from 50 miles up to some 600 miles and carry warheads with some 1,000 pounds or more of explosives.

This is a huge qualitative escalation of the conflict. It shows that the Ukrainian military is in real trouble as it now has resorts increasingly to very indiscriminate, imprecise and large weapons.

But there is one even more important issues that CNN will certainly not mention.

The U.S., like Russia, has satellites that watch for bigger missile launches. Some of these satellites are in a geostationary orbit. They permanently observe one area. Other are in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and give a more detailed picture, but as they circulate the earth, for only the time of the overflight. That the Pentagon watched three ballistic missile launches lets me believe that a geostationary satellite with permanent observation was used in this case.

But if there is a U.S. geostationary infrared satellite watching Ukraine all the time it must also have observed the alleged launch of a BUK-1 anti-air missile against the flight MH17. Air-defense missiles release a lot of energy at launch and would be seen as significant, very fast growing white blob on an infrared picture.

The U.S. therefore obviously knows if, when and exactly from where a BUK-1 missile was launched against MH17. That the U.S. detected the ballistic missile launches makes this conclusion inevitable.

Why then is the U.S. not releasing the data of the BUK-1 launch against MH17?

Posted by b on July 29, 2014 at 15:54 UTC | Permalink | Comments (197)

July 28, 2014

NBCNews Buries Its Own Journalist's Eyes, Modifies Gaza Story

About an hour ago I copied a piece from NBCNEWS to later use it as part of a (different) blogpost. It was headlined: Strikes Near Gaza's Shifa Hospital, Refugee Camp Kill or Hurt 30 (emphasis added)

Israeli strikes hit within yards of Gaza's main hospital as well as at a refugee camp on Monday, leaving at least 30 dead and wounded.

The explosion near Shifa Hospital around 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area. There was no immediate confirmation of deaths or injuries.

Another strike occurred at the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. At least 30 dead and wounded were brought to Shifa Hospital in ambulances, civilian cars and on motorcycles. A NBC News team in the area said the strikes were in "close succession."

The Israel Defense Forces told Haaretz that a “preliminary investigation has found the Israeli army did not fire at the Shifa Hospital, and the fire is believed to have been Hamas.” The IDF could not immediately be reached to clarify that account on Monday. However, a NBC News journalist witnessed the attack on the hospital and said it had been fired by an Israeli drone.

The piece now, under the same URL and headline (link above) reads:

Missiles or rockets struck within yards of Gaza's main hospital and a nearby refugee camp Monday, leaving at least 30 dead and wounded.

The Israeli military denied reports its forces were responsible for the strikes, saying they were the result of rockets misfired by Palestinian militants.

The explosion near Shifa Hospital around 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area. There was no immediate confirmation of deaths or injuries.

Another strike occurred at the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. A Palestinian health official says at least 10 people, including children, were killed in Monday's strikes. An NBC News team in the area said the strikes were in "close succession."

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that failed rocket launches were to blame.

"A short while ago Al-Shifa hospital was struck by a failed rocket attack launched by Gaza terror organizations. A barrage of three rockets that were aimed towards Israel, struck the hospital. At the time of the incident there was no Israeli military activity in the area surrounding the hospital whatsoever. "

Early reports from the ground said an Israeli drone was responsible for the attack.

An Israeli strike, witnessed by an NBC journalist as being fired by a drone, turns into anonymous "missiles or rockets" in the second variant of the piece. This after the IDF came up with some of its typical "they did it" stories.

The NBC journalist who witnessed the drone turns into anonymous "early reports from the ground".

There is no correction remark attached to the story.

Posted by b on July 28, 2014 at 16:49 UTC | Permalink | Comments (128)

July 27, 2014

Chutzpa: Dozens Dead And Wounded - IDF Rejects Claims Of Casualties

Chutzpa is defined as:

unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall

Israeli tanks shell UN-run school, killing 16 - Xinhua, July 25, 2014

Four Israeli army tanks shells fired on Thursday at a school, run by the United Nations for Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, killing 16 and wounded dozens of civilians who took refuge to the school, medics and witnesses said.
...
Witnesses said that the Israeli army tanks, stationed north of Beit Hanoun, fired four shells directly at the school, where dozens of civilians were sitting into the classroom and children were playing in the yard, adding that "the yard was full of blood and flesh."

IDF: UN school yard was empty at time of Israeli strike - Haaretz July 27, 2014

According to the army, whose inquiry included investigations of the ground forces and video footage of the incident, “one of the mortars fell in the school’s courtyard whilst it was empty of people.”

“In light of the investigation’s findings, we have rejected claims of casualties in the school grounds as they were presented by various elements immediately after the incident took place,” the IDF Spokesman’s Unit announced Sunday morning.

The only effect such stupid IDF claims and its incredible brutality against the people of Gaza have is to stiffen the will for the Palestinian people to resists. The demand for the blood currently spilled is clear. End the blockade of Gaza:

But Mr. Abu Jama, whose own house was damaged, said any agreement had to include an opening of the crossings that tightly control all movement in and out of Gaza.

“And if there is no agreement, we want the resistance to continue fighting,” he said.

---
When his family fled, they took nothing, and he returned today hoping to gather clothes. But the building was pulverized, with nothing to salvage among the chunks of concrete. “We don't want a cease-fire after the destruction we've seen,” he said. “We want resistance, that's it.”

Posted by b on July 27, 2014 at 16:55 UTC | Permalink | Comments (37)

Ukraine: Government Attack In Breach Of UN Resolution

The federalists fighting in east Ukraine seem to be in trouble. The Ukrainian army and "volunteers are attacking in size and tries to cut the federalist held area into two by pushing from two sides into the direction of Torez.

The map shows the rough plan, not actually progress, as presented by the Ukrainian government side.


bigger

 

Torez, the center of the push, is the area where flight MH-17 came down. With this push to the crash side the Ukrainian army infringes on the July 20 UN Security Council resolution where point 7:

Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation;

Dutch investigators planned to visit the site today but had to stay away while fighting occurred in the area. From the Ukrainian plan above it is obvious that the Ukrainian attack, not the federalists, is responsible for the fighting and the coup-government of Ukraine for impeding secure access to the site. Why is it so urgent right now for the Ukrainian government to get control of the crash site?

As part of its all-over attack today the Ukrainian army indiscriminately used Grad multiple rocket launchers to shell (vid) the surrounded city of Gorlivka which is in the hands of a few federalists. There are reports about several dozens of civilian casualties from this attack including a mother and her young child (photo).

Earlier Human Rights Watch had condemned such use of Grad rockets by the Ukrainian government:

The use of indiscriminate rockets in populated areas violates international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes.

How long will it take for the "west" to express outrage over this breach of an UN resolution by the Ukrainian governments and its indiscriminate killing of "its own civilians"?

Posted by b on July 27, 2014 at 16:28 UTC | Permalink | Comments (144)

July 26, 2014

How Netanyahoo Lied To Get His War On Gaza


Shujaiya, Gaza, after recent shelling and bombing by Israel

The current war on Gaza was started by Netanyahoo based on the racist frenzy he had created over the alleged kidnapping of three teenagers. The teenagers were killed by criminals a few hours after they were abducted. Netanyahho knew this but did not tell the public for three weeks falsely blaming Hamas. By then the public was in the mood for war. An Israeli official has now confirmed this in an on-the-record quote.

As Times of Israel reported on June 22, ten days after the "kidnapping":

Netanyahu: Hard evidence Hamas behind kidnappings

Israel has conclusive evidence that Hamas is behind the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, and is passing that evidence on to several other countries before releasing it publicly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning.
...
Israel has “unequivocal proof that this is Hamas,” Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “We are sharing this proof and information to this effect with several countries. Soon this information will be made public.”

Netanyahoo lied but a gag order prevented the Israeli press from mentioning it. Then Max Blumenthal reported in the Electronic Intifada on July 8:

Netanyahu government knew teens were dead as it whipped up racist frenzy

Israeli police, intelligence officials and Netanyahu knew within hours of the kidnapping and murder of the three teens that they had been killed. And they knew who the prime suspects were less than a day after the kidnapping was reported.

Rather than reveal these details to the public, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency imposed a gag order on the national media, barring news outlets from reporting that the teens had almost certainly been killed, and forbidding them from revealing the identities of their suspected killers. The Shin Bet even lied to the parents of the kidnapped teens, deceiving them into believing their sons were alive.
...
On 12 June, three Jewish Israeli youths, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, went missing while hitchhiking from Kfar Etzion, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. At 10:25pm, Shaar placed a panicked call to Israeli police.

During the eerie call lasting two minutes and nine seconds, the supposed kidnappers can be heard ordering the youths to keep their heads down. Israel Radio plays in the background as Shaar repeatedly appeals for help. Then several gunshots can be heard followed by celebratory singing as the kidnappers remark, “We got three.” The teens had been killed.

Soon after the call the murderers car, but not the dead bodies, was found with blood and DNA of the killed teens all over it.

J.J. Goldberg confirmed the story on July 10 in the Jewish Daily Forward and added that Hamas was clearly not responsible:

How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza (Note: I seriously doubt the "unintended" claim  in the headline here)

Once the boys’ disappearance was known, troops began a massive, 18-day search-and-rescue operation, entering thousands of homes, arresting and interrogating hundreds of individuals, racing against the clock. Only on July 1, after the boys’ bodies were found, did the truth come out: The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations.
...
It was clear from the beginning that the kidnappers weren’t acting on orders from Hamas leadership in Gaza or Damascus. Hamas’ Hebron branch — more a crime family than a clandestine organization — had a history of acting without the leaders’ knowledge, sometimes against their interests. Yet Netanyahu repeatedly insisted Hamas was responsible for the crime and would pay for it.

This week John B. Judis explained how the fake search for the teens developed into the war:

Who Bears More Responsibility for the War in Gaza?

The two men, as the Israeli government quickly discovered, were associated with a rogue Hamas family that had defied the organization’s leadership. The Israelis also strongly suspected that the boys had been killed, but they used the pretext of searching for the boys to arrest around 500 Palestinians, including Hamas’s West Bank officials and activists. There was sporadic rocket fire on Israel during June that seems to have come from non-Hamas Islamist groups, although the details are murky. Then on July 1, in the wake of the discovery of the three teenagers’ bodies, the Israelis launched 34 airstrikes on Gaza. On July 6, it bombed a tunnel in Gaza, killing six Hamas militants. On the next day, Hamas began taking responsibility for new rockets attacks, and the Israelis then launched Protective Edge.

All the three reports above did not name sources for the claims that Israel knew about the killing and that the murder was not Hamas related. Yesterday BBC journalist Jon Donnison was the first to get an on-the-record quote from an Israeli official:

Israeli police MickeyRosenfeld tells me men who killed 3 Israeli teens def lone cell, hamas affiliated but not operating under leadership1/2

Seems to contradict the line from Netanyahu government. 2/2

Israeli police spokes Mickey Rosenfeld also said if kidnapping had been ordered by Hamas leadership, they'd have known about it in advance.

It is obvious that Netanyahoo's war on Gaza, which has so far killed over 1,000 Palestinians, is a war of aggression justified with false claims about a crime which had no connection whatsoever with Hamas or the people of Gaza.

But the United States government, and its various client states (who very likely knew all this since June 12) is still claiming that Israel is only exercising its "right to defend" itself and should be allowed to continue to do so.

Posted by b on July 26, 2014 at 11:17 UTC | Permalink | Comments (107)

July 25, 2014

Ukraine: No "Western" Interest In Investigating MH17

After all the propaganda about the downed MH17 flight, screams about alleged looting and demands of access to the site, one would have expected some serious attempts to immediately investigate the case.

But hardly any are made:

At the field in Ukraine where the exploded remnants landed, there are no guards and no recovery workers, no police officers and no investigators. Early Thursday evening, there were almost no people — just two curious 12-year-old girls looking at part of the tail of the Boeing 777.
...
“There’s no one out here,” said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose monitoring mission has been on the site every day since Friday. As for the arrival of international experts, “it’s not like our door is being broken down.”

After the U.S. blustering "we have evidence" that Russia did it and then showing nothing of it - "just trust us" - the U.S. seems have lost all interests to really find out who's ammunition downed the plane. Russia had early on called for an international investigation and it was Russia alone so far which presented real evidence on the case. U.S. ships with very capable missile defense radars were in the Black Sea over the last weeks and likely have very detailed track records of every flight and missile launch up to several hundred of miles away. None of those have been made public. We can guess why.

And those "looting" claims?

There were a few new faces at the site on Thursday. Three Australian investigators worked in the field, joining three Malaysians. Before departing Thursday, the Malaysians said that they were surprised at the amount of access they had to the site and that they felt safe, Mr. Bociurkiw said.

There have been widespread reports of looting, but Mr. Bociurkiw said his monitoring group, which has now spent more time at the site than any other, had not seen any. The Malaysians said they had seen valuables in the fields untouched, he noted, including a bottle of duty-free perfume, auto parts, backpacks full of belongings, a watch and some jewelry.

Those claims of looting were false just as the claims of mishandling the remains of the victims were false.

But the White House will not take back one any of those false claims. It continues its anti-Russia campaign is coming up with new claims for which again no facts are presented to back them up:

American officials, citing military intelligence, including satellite images, warned that Russia appeared to be preparing to arm the rebels with more high-powered weaponry — including tanks and armored vehicles — than it had previously supplied. In Kiev, a military spokesman said that Ukrainian troops were coming under increased fire from the Russian side of the border and that the Ukrainian military had recently shot down three Russian surveillance drones. One was used to target a Ukrainian base near the town of Amvrosiivka, which then quickly came under heavy rocket attack, the spokesman said.

Again these are just claims. Not one of the "satellite images" cited was presented.

But the main stream media fall for such nonsense and market it without inserting even the least bit of doubt.

Clearly the powers who be do want a war with Russia. A cold one for now but a hot one, destroying Europe's production capacities, would even be better for rather tepid U.S. economy.

Posted by b on July 25, 2014 at 17:17 UTC | Permalink | Comments (136)

July 24, 2014

Israel Again And Again Shells Refugee Centers

The Onion is supposed to be a satire magazine. Just yesterday it headlined:

Israel: Palestinians Given Ample Time To Evacuate To Nearby Bombing Sites:

“Giving Palestinian civilians the chance to seek safety in the home of a family member or friend that will be shelled to rubble in the next 48 hours is a gesture we deserve praise for, not condemnation. In fact, this initiative has been a major success in this campaign.” Ya’alon added that since there were numerous bombing sites Palestinians could take shelter in, he was not responsible for whatever happened to people who chose to stay home.

Yesterday's satire is today's news.

The Israeli military sometimes warns people of certain regions in Gaza to move away from their homes before it bombs or attacks. Some Palestinians have, if at all, just seconds to leave before an attack but many do leave and flee to the school buildings that under control of the United Nations. The schools are opened especially for this and the UN personal is taking care of the refugees and keeps militants and weapons out of its buildings.

It also provides the Israeli military with the exact coordinates of the schools. So guess what happens next:

Israeli shells hit UN shelter in Gaza:

As many as 30 people have been reported killed and 100 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in Gaza that was being used as an emergency shelter.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the school in Beit Hanoun came under shelling on Thursday. She said sources had told Al Jazeera that up up to 30 people had been killed in the bombardment.

The AFP reported a UN official as confirming "multiple dead and injured".

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA, the UN's refugee organisation in Gaza, said there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed. He confirmed there were casualties.

He said the UNRWA were in contact with Israeli forces about a window to evacuate the school before the attack happened

"This is a designated emergency shelter," he said. "The location was conveyed to the Israelis.

"This is the fourth strike on our installations in three days."

Four attacks on well known refugee centers within three days. Does anyone still believe that such attacks are some random accidents? I don't. Such shelling is pure intentional murder of obvious non-combatants. It is definitely an intentional war crime.

But the U.S still covers for Israel. It was the only country that voted "No" at the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday over an investigation of such Israeli war crimes in Gaza. One killer covering for the other.

Posted by b on July 24, 2014 at 13:58 UTC | Permalink | Comments (119)

July 23, 2014

Ukraine: Reuters Interviews Benedict Arnold: "Rebels Had BUK, Downed MH17"

Updated below

Reuters is currently running a sensational story headlined Exclusive: Ukraine rebel commander acknowledges fighters had BUK missile". There is a big problem with the story. The man in question is not a "rebel commander" and had recently changed sides. He is the Ukrainian Benedict Arnold. About a week ago the federalists had removed him (and a few others) from all positions because they had secretly tried to give control of Donetsk to the coup-government.

The Reuters lede:

A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had anti-aircraft missiles of the type Washington says were used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system.

He also indicated that the BUK may have originated in Russia and could have been sent back to remove proof of its presence.

If true that tale would surely fit the story the U.S. administration is peddling but for which it has no evidence.

The New York Times portrait Khodakovsky on June 4 and this part of it is very telling:

In an interview, Mr. Khodakovsky said that he was largely autonomous, that he coordinated on some matters with other separatist military commanders and that he would even turn against the separatist government “if the interests of the politicians and the people diverge.”

Also of interest:

Mr. Khodakovsky declined to provide more information about the militia’s financing or the sources of its weapons.

He denied rumors that he was being backed financially by Rinat Akhmetov, a Donetsk-based oligarch who is arguably the region’s most powerful man, but who has recently taken a strong stance against the separatists. He did say that he had told Mr. Akhmetov once that they have “similar interests” in preserving order.

Despite that denial it had been long acknowledged that the Vostok Battalion Khodakovsky was once leading was founded and paid for by the east-Ukrainian oligarch Akhmetov.

Ahkmetov has made a deal with Kiev, changed his stand and turned against the federalist.

In July some parts of the federalists in Donetsk, those alligned with Ahkmetov, started an internal coup against the federalists. They made a secret deal with the coup-government and where about to give up control over Donetsk. Shortly thereafter that whole groups was purged. The (long) internal story behind this is available here, On Political Perspectives of Novorossia, and one core fact, which Reuters does not mention, is this:

The failure of the "defeatist party" with the surrender of Donetsk (currently effectively all involved are removed from any meaningful political levers in the DPR – Lukyanchenko, Khodakovsky, Pozhidayev – there is also currently unconfirmed information about the possible resignation of Mr. Pushilin) didn't lead to their extinction. ...

Khodakovsky and the others no longer belong to the federalists. They no longer hold federalist positions. Khodakovsky allegedly fled. They have (together with the oligarch Akhmetov) changed sides and made their deal with Kiev.

Now tell me: how reliable are claims by one Benedict Arnold, a man paid by the "enemy" to hand over a federalist city to the imperial regime? Especially when the traitor's claims completely fit the likely false story the CIA advised coup-government in Kiev is trying to plant about the downing of the flight MH-17?

Besides all that, notice that the man Reuters interviewed does not even claim to ever have seen the alleged BUK system. All he is providing is hearsay:

"That BUK I know about. I heard about it. I think they sent it back."

I also heard a lot of things and sometimes I think something. But such does not provide factual knowledge and no court would accept is a proof.

As it leaves out the most important fact, the interviewed guy is no longer with the federalists but now works for Kiev, the Reuters interview is just a part of the U.S. managed information campaign against the federalists and against Russia. Unfortunately few will ever hear of that and are therefore likely to believe the false claims.

Update:

RIA now has (in Russian) a somewhat fishy denial of the Reuters interview by an anonymous spokesperson of Khodakovsky. Machine translation:

Donetsk, July 23 - RIA Novosti. Battalion commander "East" Alexander Khodakovsky denies that he spoke in an interview with Reuters on the alleged use of militias in eastern Ukraine system "Buk", said RIA Novosti on Wednesday a source close to the commander.

"I did not say anything like" Reuters "and I have a recording of a conversation" - quoted the spokesman Khodakovskogo words.

Posted by b on July 23, 2014 at 18:45 UTC | Permalink | Comments (107)

No Evidence - Administration's MH17 Case Against Russia Falls Apart

The federalists fighting in east Ukraine just took down two more SU-25 ground attack fighters that were bombing their positions. The weapons used against these planes are either simple air-defense guns or short ranged missiles unlike the missiles that allegedly took down the Malaysian passenger jet.

The case the Obama administration made against the federalists and Russia in connection with that MH-17 flight is completely falling apart.

Even the aggressive State Department spokesperson has to admit (vid) there is no real evidence at all. The "mountain of evidence" Secretary of State Kerry talked about is nothing but doctored photos and sound files provided by the Ukrainian coup government. One photo, for example, is supposed to show a missile system in federalists hands in a town in east Ukraine. But two reporters asking locals there can not find anyone who has seen the bulky and loud system. The photo is therefore likely a montage.

After being public criticized for showing no real evidence the Obama administration trotted out some "senior intelligence officials" who then admitted that they have nothing, NOTHING, to connect the case to Russia and only vague circumstantial "social media evidence" that federalists COULD have downed the jet:

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.

In terms of who fired the missile, "we don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality," one official said, adding at another point, "There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here," a referenc to a fictional detective who solved mysteries.

Most damning for the case may be this:

The senior intelligence officials said spy agencies were not aware that an SA-11 system was in eastern Ukraine until the attack had happened.

So the alleged transfer of such a big weapon system from Russia was either not observable for the multi-billion dollar, all seeing, all hearing U.S. intelligence or it never happened. Case closed.

But the neolibcons in the Obama administration do not despair yet. The murky Ukrainian company that hired Vice President Biden's son is now paying more lobbyists in Washington. The bribes will flow in bigger amounts. The lies from the Obama administration, and especially from Kerry, will continue as its tries everything possible to restart a Cold War against Russia or, if possible, even a hot one.

Let the Europeans bleed. As long as the U.S. is safe everything is hunky dory.

Posted by b on July 23, 2014 at 12:28 UTC | Permalink | Comments (150)

July 22, 2014

Hamas Win Leaves Netanyahoo and U.S. Position In Shambles

Hamas just won a major victory. The U.S. airlines Delta, USAir and United have suspended indefinitely all flights to and from Israel. This after a rocket fired from Gaza exploded somewhere near the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. After MH-17 came down in Ukraine the sensitivity of possible flight casualties during a conflict has dramatically increased. No airline wants to be the next to loose a plane to some errant missile. This practically closes the only international airport Israel has and will increase the pressure on Israel to accept some of Hamas' conditions for a ceasefire.

That will still take a while though and the slaughter will for now continue. Neither Hamas and the population of Gaza nor the Netanyahoo government and the people in Israel are so far willing to offer any concessions. On both sides the people push their governments to continue the fighting.

There is also no real international pressure for a ceasefire yet. Kerry and his UN clown Ban Ki Moon are in the region and are trying to find a solution that favors Israel. But there is no solutions without accepting Hamas' demands. They will have little luck to find some united Arab push for a compromise or to pressure Hamas. The only parties that could negotiate on behalf and in support of Hamas are Qatar and Turkey. But the Turkish soon-to-be-dictator Erdogan is no longer talking to Obama and has other problems.  The chickens are coming home to roost as "smugglers" from the Islamic State have started to kill Turkish soldiers on Turkey's border to Syria. Qatar is disliked by all other Arab Gulf states plus especially by Egypt for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Egypt is the other country next to Israel and the U.S. that will have to make concessions to Hamas. The wide opening of the Rafah border that is needed to lift the siege on Gaza can only be done when Egypt fully agrees. Kerry will want to achieve that but when he met the Egyptian dictator Sisi today he and his stuff were made to undergo security controls before entering the palace in Cairo. That was a significant snub and more were likely made during the talks.

The U.S. is simply no longer in a position where it can effectively create political solutions in the Middle East. As Chas Freeman analyzes the Obama administration has, over the recent years, managed to make the mess in the Middle East even messier than it usually is. Its addiction to Israel (and its utter hypocrisy) has ruined its own position:

From the outset, Israel used the “peace process” as a distraction while it created facts on the ground in the form of illegal settlements. Israeli expansionism and related policies have now made Israel’s peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians– and, thus, with Israel’s Arab neighbors – impossible. The United States created the moral hazard that enabled Israel to put itself in this ultimately untenable position. Forty years of one-sided American diplomacy aimed at achieving regional and international acceptance for Israel have thus perversely produced the very opposite – increasing international isolation and opprobrium for the Jewish state.

We will now “cover Israel’s back” at the United Nations as its ongoing maltreatment and intermittent muggings of its captive Arab population complete its international delegitimization and ostracism. We will pay a heavy political price for this stand globally, in the Middle East, and very likely in escalating terrorism against Americans abroad and at home. It may satisfy our sense of honor. But it more closely resembles assisted suicide than a strategy for the survival of Israel and our own position in the Middle East.

With Ben Gurion closed Netanyahoo will soon have to somehow end the war he started, with U.S. support, for no sensible reason. His political position in Israel will then be very weak and even more crazy people than him will come to rule. That again will further reduce the political might of the United States and the region may then, left to itself, finally be able to find a new sustainable balance.

Posted by b on July 22, 2014 at 16:49 UTC | Permalink | Comments (113)

July 21, 2014

Ukraine: New Coup-Government Offense in Donetsk

Hiding behind the false outrage* over the likely accidental destruction of flight MH17 the Ukrainian coup-government launched a severe attack on the city of Donetsk:

The western part of the city has been shelled since 4 a.m. local time (2 a.m. UTC) on Monday from Grad multiple launch rocket systems, local residents told ITAR-TASS. Heavy weapons are used and explosions are heard.

Ukrainian warplanes delivered an air strike by unguided rocket projectiles at the railway station in the city of Donetsk on Monday morning.

There are allegedly several "volunteer groups" on the ground involved on the government side. These are likely groups of the fascist Right Sektor. They are supported by massive armored forces. Unless the federalists have thoroughly prepared their defenses they will likely have to retreat to new positions.

There advantage so far have been unexpected strikes against flank or rearward positions of the attackers. I expect something similar to happen again soon.

*Why would anyone criticize temporarily storing dead bodies in freezer cars?

Posted by b on July 21, 2014 at 11:43 UTC | Permalink | Comments (187)

Hamas Not Yet Informed It Has Lost

Amos Harel reviews the Israeli campaign against the people of Gaza. He concludes:

Despite the optimism of decision-makers in Jerusalem, it seems that Hamas has not yet been informed that it has lost the war.

The Israeli army continues to have the same equipment, training and doctrine problems it had when it lost the 2006 campaign against the people of Lebanon.

The seven soldiers killed by a rocket-propelled grenade were travelling in an M-13 armored personnel carrier, used by the Americans in Vietnam and by the IDF since the 1970s.
...
Questions also arise with regard to the crowding of dozens of soldiers from Golani’s reconnaissance battalion in the house that was hit by rockets. This is one more example of flawed decisions, following the mishap on Saturday, in which an Armored Corps officer and soldier were killed by Hamas fighters emerging from a tunnel.
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[I]t should be noted that in recent years the IDF has had no experience in ground battles in general and in Gaza in particular. Some of the combat experience was lost with a generation of commanders that retired. Training was also eroded over the last year due to budgetary considerations.

This while Israeli officers find Hamas fighter to be more competent than ever before:

“It was a very hard battle there,” a senior Israeli military official said. “I have to admit that we were facing good fighters from the other side.”

The Israeli army continues to excel in the genocidal killing of whole families when one member may or may not be somewhat related to the resistance. This morning a house in Rafah was bombed and at least 11 member of the same family were all killed. Another house was destroyed in Khan Younes where 17 24 27 member of another family were killed. It is such outrageous behavior that makes the world public turn against Israel.

Netanyahoo's war was launched to prevent the creation of a Palestinian unity government. His aim is to keep Gaza and the whole Palestinian cause drowned in formaldehyde. But that will no longer work. Hamas and the people of Gaza will not agree to a ceasefire without receiving any benefit in form of more open borders and the lifting of the Israeli/Egyptian siege:

[T]hose within Hamas who saw the crisis as an opportunity to put an end to Weissglass’s [formaldehyde] regime gained the upper hand. So far, they appear to have the majority of the population with them, because they seem to prefer death by F-16 to death by formaldehyde.

Posted by b on July 21, 2014 at 10:31 UTC | Permalink | Comments (38)

July 19, 2014

Ukraine: Financial Rating Propaganda Likely To Fail

International credit rating agencies like S&P are nothing but political instruments. Consider this from July 11:

Ukraine had its credit-rating outlook raised to stable from negative by Standard & Poor’s after the country obtained a $17 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund.
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“Full disbursement of the IMF program and related multilateral lending should enable Ukraine to meet its external financing needs over the next year,” S&P analysts said in an e-mailed statement.

Now compare that with a real world report from July 17:

The IMF now expects Ukraine's economy to shrink by 6.5% this year, compared with 5% at the time the emergency loans were agreed. GDP stagnated last year.

Ukraine's government is spending more than expected on security as it battles the separatists. Having lost control of parts of the country, revenue collection is also falling behind schedule.

And state gas firm Naftogaz is struggling to force customers to pay their debts.
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"The program hinges crucially on the assumption that the conflict will begin to subside in the coming months," the IMF said. "A significant prolongation of the crisis would seriously strain their ability to [reform the economy] without a substantial increase in external support on adequate terms."

The IMF more explicitly formulated: "Expect more of your money being wasted on the Nazis in Kiev."

Fortunately, after the rating disaster of mortgage bonds and derivatives that led to the financial crisis, smart real world investors have become mostly immune of the rating companies' nonsense, diminishing their influence further into the pure propaganda territory. From the last lines of first piece:

Global bond yields showed investors ignored 56 percent of Moody’s and 50 percent of S&P’s rating and outlook changes in 2012, more often disagreeing when the companies said governments were becoming safer or more risky, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The S&P propaganda effort will therefore likely fail.

Posted by b on July 19, 2014 at 19:48 UTC | Permalink | Comments (120)

July 18, 2014

Open Thread 2014-16

News & views other than current issues ...

Posted by b on July 18, 2014 at 18:04 UTC | Permalink | Comments (69)

Current Issues

Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq.

Other issues here please.

Posted by b on July 18, 2014 at 18:03 UTC | Permalink | Comments (207)

July 17, 2014

Plane Down In Ukraine - Facts? Who Needs Facts?

A Malaysian Boeing 777 with 295 people on board crashed today near Shakhtarsk 50 kilometer east of Donetsk, Ukraine.

The appropriate key for "western" journalist to press now is this one.

Over the now coming propaganda shit-storm the recent defeat of the coup-government troops will likely stay unreported.

Posted by b on July 17, 2014 at 16:55 UTC | Permalink | Comments (269)

More Sanctions On Russia After Ukrainian Forces Defeated

Six days ago the Ukrainian troops fighting local federalists in the south-east were hit hard by an artillery barrage and had major losses. This map shows their locations of the four nominal brigades on the right bottom in a narrow south-eastern strip along the Russian border. The plan for these troops was obviously to cut off the federalists from the Russian border and to surround them. But that risky plan on a thin logistic string worked against them. Repeated artillery attacks and disorganization have left them incapable of further advances.


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The Ukrainian troops have now themselves been surrounded and are cut off from their resupplies. Their attempts to break out of the encirclement failed and they can now either flee to Russia or surrender to the federalists:

Earlier on Wednesday the press service of the DPR told ITAR-TASS that its militiamen had divided the Ukrainian military units into “several sectors” in the areas of the Amvrosievka, Izvarino and Saur-Mohila localities near the Russian border.

The Ukrainian military units attempted to form a convoy and head for the port city of Mariupol, but failed as the DPR fighters encircled them.

In recent days the Ukrainian armed forces had suffered serious losses, and support to their rear services had been axed, the press service said adding that the army units were trying to retreat covering their rear.

The Ukrainian troops seem to be desperate with little left to better their situation.

It is this desperate military situation of the Ukrainian coup-government troops, I believe, that let Obama put new sanctions on Russian companies. The European Union did not follow up with sanctions of its own and the damage to the Russian economy will thereby be very limited. It was a stupid and self defeating step for Obama to take. What U.S. companies, including the oil majors, will now still be welcome in the rather large Russian market?

The military situation as well as the propaganda tide has turned against the U.S. supported coup government in Kiev. Now even the BBC admits that many coup supporters and the "National Guard" forces are Nazis including foreign ones.

Posted by b on July 17, 2014 at 13:06 UTC | Permalink | Comments (84)

July 16, 2014

July 16 Gaza News - "At least they wont breed"

Peter Beaumont is Jerusalem correspondent of the Guardian and the Observer. This is what he experienced in Gaza today:

Today was a personal low point - giving first aid with colleagues to two children wounded by shrapnel on Gaza beach on terrace of our hotel

Four kids with them were killed in same incident all from same extended family

1st shell hit the harbour wall. It's been hit before so I assume its on a prerecorded grid. Gunner appears to have adjusted to hit survivors

who were an adult and three boys

Earlier he wrote:

no warning shot. kids killed by first round, then gunner adjusted and bracketed the survivors. i was 200m away

His longer report is now online. The kids were helping their father/uncle fixing fishing nets. The targeted artillery rounds came from an Israeli warship. Killed were Ahed Atef Bakr 10, Zakaria Ahed Bakr 10, Mohamed Ramez Bakr 11, Ismael Mohamed Bakr 9. An "Israel Activist and media monitor" responded to the news of the four killed children by writing:

At least they wont breed

Today Israel also intentionally hit the Wafa Hospital in Gaza with a smaller missile. The hospital is completely crowded with patients and the missile was considered a "warning shot" that might be followed up with a bigger attack. There is no place for the the people in the hospital to flee to.

The Israeli press now confirms what we wrote yesterday: Secret call between Netanyahu, al-Sissi led to cease-fire plan

Haaretz has learned that the PM spoke to the Egyptian president in a secret phone call prompted by Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

It was Tony Blair who arranged the scam cease-fire which Hamas rejected. Neither Hamas nor anyone else in Gaza was ever consulted about it and they learned of it only through the media. Peace between two parties can obviously not be achieved by only talking to one of them.

Instead of that stop-the-guns-but-don't-consent-on-anything-else scam by Tony Blair Hamas today offered a real and reasonable deal for a long term truce:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have submitted a list of 10 demands to Egypt to establish a 10-year truce with Israel, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Wednesday.
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The first demand, according to Maariv, is the withdrawal of Israeli military tanks from the border fence area to a distance that enables Gaza farmers to access their fields and tend them freely.

In addition, Israel must free all Palestinian prisoners detained after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank including those who were freed as part of Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. This precondition also includes softening procedures against all prisoners in Israeli custody.

A third demand stipulates that Israel ends the crippling siege on the coastal enclave, which means reopening all border crossings and allowing the entry of construction materials and all requirements needed to run the Gaza Strip’s power station.

The fourth demand stipulates the opening of an international seaport and international airport in the Gaza Strip to be run and monitored by the United Nations.
...

All these demands are reasonable and fair and would give Israel, should it be itself reasonable and willing to stick to a truce, 10 years of peace at its southern front.

But to expect reasonablity from Israel when it is killing children for sport may just be a step too far.

Posted by b on July 16, 2014 at 15:41 UTC | Permalink | Comments (121)