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March 20, 2020

2020 Presidential Election Thread 06

Please keep anything related to the election in this thread.

Posted by b at 13:19 UTC | Comments (46)

March 19, 2020

False Claims About The Novel Coronavirus And How To Debunk Them

Today China reported zero new domestic cases of novel coronavirus infections. It has beaten the epidemic just as we predicted early on. Other countries with still expanding epidemics will have to adopt all the measures China has taken to also win the fight.

Our extensive reporting about the novel cornonavirus has attracted many new commentators to this site. Unfortunately some of these, as well as some of the regulars, continue to spread disinformation and myths about the current pandemic and its causes.

To keep some level of quality at this site requires an aggressive countering of such comments. But our capacity to do so is limited. We do delete comments that are nonsensical or have been debunked and we do block people who insist on posting or reposting nonsense. But there are now many more comments per day than we can read. We therefore have to ask other commentators to counter the bad false ones.

Here are some of the false claims that are made about the pandemic and the facts needed to debunk them.

Myth:

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is a Chinese virus that comes from bats. It infected people because Chinese people eat bats.

Facts:

The source of the virus is actually not known. The patient number 1, the person who first carried the virus, has not been found. The Wuhan wet market where exotic animals are sold was not the source of the outbreak:

Cont. reading: False Claims About The Novel Coronavirus And How To Debunk Them

Posted by b at 12:19 UTC | Comments (633)

March 18, 2020

Justice Department Drops Case Against 'Russian Influence Campaign' While New Fake Claims Arise

The Justice Department dropped its case against a Russian company which was alleged of influencing the 2016 elections. But as one false claim about Russian influence campaigns is now thoroughly debunked new nonsensical claims about alleged Russian influence campaigns arise.

In February 2018 the Mueller investigation of alleged election interference indicted a Russian company and individuals. As we reported at that time:

Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department indicted the Russian Internet Research Agency on some dubious legal grounds. It covers thirteen Russian people and three Russian legal entities. The main count of the indictment is an alleged "Conspiracy to Defraud the United States".

The published indictment gives support to our long held believe that there was no "Russian influence" campaign during the U.S. election. What is described and denounced as such was instead a commercial marketing scheme which ran click-bait websites to generate advertisement revenue and created online crowds around virtual persona to promote whatever its commercial customers wanted to promote. The size of the operation was tiny when compared to the hundreds of millions in campaign expenditures. It had no influence on the election outcome.

We could claim that because the indictment said in its point 95:

Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

The Russian trolls sold media space to advertisers. They had nothing to with the election. 

Our report then continued:

The indictment is fodder for the public to prove that the Mueller investigation is "doing something". It distracts from further questioning the origin of the Steele dossier. It is full of unproven assertions and assumptions. It is a sham in that none of the Russian persons or companies indicted will ever come in front of a U.S. court.

The last sentence of that quote has proven to be wrong. One of the legal entities the Mueller investigation indicted, the Russian company Concord Management, hired a U.S. attorney and challenged the justice department. The back and forth during the pre-trial discovery hearings in front of the court, which can be followed in the docket of the case, proofed to be highly entertaining as Concord attorney Eric Dubelier was running circles around the Special Counsel and DOJ lawyers.

On Monday the Justice Department dropped the case:

Cont. reading: Justice Department Drops Case Against 'Russian Influence Campaign' While New Fake Claims Arise

Posted by b at 19:01 UTC | Comments (73)

Open Thread 2020-21

Please post anything related to the U.S. election in the 2020 Election Thread.

Other news and views can be posted here.

Posted by b at 13:27 UTC | Comments (189)

March 17, 2020

Coronavirus - A Lockdown Is Not Enough

Dr. Carl Juaneau, who is specialized in epidemiology, has pointed me to a page where he collects useful information about the novel Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 and the current pandemic it causes.

COVID-19: Why America May Be Hit Hard for 3-4 Months & What To Do

It is quite good. Make sure that you scroll beyond the long country statistic for additional useful information.

---

Eight days after we wrote Why We Must Shut Everything Down And Do It Now it finally gets done. European countries have closed their borders and told their people to hunker down. Major car companies like Volkswagen, Peugeot and Fiat have stopped their production as car sales have slumped anyway. Airbus shut down two of its production sites to revamp them for better protection of its workers. In the U.S. the Bay Area, New York, Seattle and other major cities have also basically closed down.

Even Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has changed his mind. Instead of taking it "on the chin" as he had suggested and letting many people die until the rest achieves 'herd immunity' Britain will now finally try to stop the spreading epidemic.

Racism is the reason that this is happening so late. China, South Korea and Singapore had already shown what needs to be done fo fight the epidemic and how to do it successfully. But Asian voices do not count in 'white' decision making. The political action in Europe and the U.S. only started to happen after Italy was hit very hard.

And our governments are still not doing enough.

We must test every person's temperature at airports and trains and build up drive thru testing capacity. If one does not search for the virus one will not find it. We must test, test, test to track all virus carriers down and to stop the spreading. 

There must be a mandatory isolation of people who are probably infected but do not show symptoms as well as separate isolation of suspected and detected cases with 'mild' symptoms.

Telling a probably infected person to shelter with their family, as is now done in the U.S. and the U.K, will only kill more people. 75%-80% of the cases in China got infected through direct family contact. The family chain must be broken to effectively stop the epidemic.

Probably infected persons, i.e. those who had contact with another infected person, should be put under quarantine in sport arenas or exposition facilities to be supervised by medics.

Contact tracing teams must ask each of them with whom they met over the last days and then check on those persons. This requires lots of people and resources but China has show that it is doable. Tracing cellphones may be useful to help with this. Community monitoring may be a viable alternative.

Additional hospital capacity must be built. There must be hospitals exclusively for Covis-19 cases and others for people with different medical problems.

NYT science and health reporter Donald McNeil, who was in China during the shutdown, explains very well how China has beaten the epidemic in Wuhan. Please watch this:

Cont. reading: Coronavirus - A Lockdown Is Not Enough

Posted by b at 18:39 UTC | Comments (365)

March 16, 2020

The Pandemic Will Cause A Global Depression - We Need Demand Side Measures To Counter It

Last week's post on Boeing ended with this line:

The pandemic, and the global depression it will cause, now make it certain that Boeing will have to ask for a gigantic government bailout or go into bankruptcy.

With most flights grounded due to the pandemic Boeing is now thinking about cutting its production and laying off workers.

In the quoted sentence I used the words "the global depression it will cause" with care. I do indeed believe that a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in many countries will be one of the results of this pandemic.


bigger

The airline industry is just one of many that will be hit hard. About 70% of the U.S. GDP is generated by the service industry. Travel, entertainment, gyms, restaurants and bars, hotels, education will all be hit extremely hard by the finally coming shutdown. The U.S. will, like Germany did today, soon shutdown churches, brothels and other entertainment outlets.  Only a few service industries, like healthcare, online gaming and gun sales, will continue to strive.

The pandemic will be with us as a major danger for probably two or three years during which it will race around the globe in several large waves. Each wave will require another shutdown. To develop a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to take over a year but may take much longer. We may be more lucky with a new medication that can reduce the symptoms of the Covis-19 disease the virus is causing.

Restrictions on major parts of the service industry are therefore likely to be with us much longer than the one or two months that are currently anticipated. After the restrictions are over many people will have have changed their habits. The travel industry will not come back for a long time. The cruise industry will probably die. That is personal to me as the place where I learned to work metal depends on it.

There will also be lots of layoffs caused by this crisis which guarantees that demand will fall further off the cliff.

Cont. reading: The Pandemic Will Cause A Global Depression - We Need Demand Side Measures To Counter It

Posted by b at 18:34 UTC | Comments (297)

March 15, 2020

2020 Presidential Election Thread 05

There is a debate tonight.

Matt Taibbi has some thoughts about it:

Bernie’s Last Chance
Heading into a one-on-one debate with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders should not go gentle into that good night

Please keep anything related to the election in this thread.

Posted by b at 17:36 UTC | Comments (215)

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-20

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-20

Posted by b at 17:36 UTC | Comments (122)

On Toilet Paper

Several decades ago I was tank soldier and my unit went to a training area at the coast of Wales, Great Britain. There were several tank shooting ranges and the Brits had built some very simple outhouses for those who were training there. They even provided toilet paper. This came in single sheets in a 12 x 8 centimeter (4.7x3.1 in) format. They where yellowish in color with a glossy surface that made them water resistant. That made somewhat sense in the rather foggy surroundings but did not help with the intended purpose. Printed in blue on each sheet was "Her Majesty's Property". I pondered if it would be lèse-majesty to actually use it. As a person in need I did it anyway. The sheets turned out to be rather useless for cleaning anything.

The story comes to mind as the virus panic causes a run on toilet paper at least in some countries.

The run points to a lack of personal infrastructure.

Toilet paper is certainly not ideal for cleaning ones butt. It is okay for removing the rough stuff but after that it tends to spread the rest rather than to remove it.

Separate bidets (vid) are good for a real cleaning. They are widely used in Italy and France but require extra space and installations. They are excellent for their purpose but when I lived in an apartment that had one I found it rather inconvenient to use (and clean) it.

If one is sitting on a water toilet why not use its water supply to also clean ones ass?

In some warmer Asian countries Bum Guns (vid) are widely used.

These are special shower heads on a hose with a trigger. In warm countries they are excellent to clean one's butt thoroughly. But in colder areas it is an uncomfortable process as they are connected to the toilets cold water supply. They also require, like a bidet, an extra towel or toilet paper to dry oneself after use.

Cont. reading: On Toilet Paper

Posted by b at 16:52 UTC | Comments (114)

March 14, 2020

Iraq's Resistance Reveals How U.S. Troops Will Be Removed From Its Country

Yesterday the U.S. attacked five sites in Iraq and killed 3 Iraqi soldiers of the 19th Division, two policeman and a civilian. The strikes came after some 10+ rockets, fired by unknown people, had hit the joint base Camp Tali and had killed 2 U.S. and one British soldiers.

Today the U.S. received the revenge for its strikes.

The U.S. Central Command had argued that the "defensive precision strike" against the five sites created deterrence i.e. they would prevent other attacks:

We believe that this is going to have an effect on deterring -- on deterring future strikes of this nature. We've seen in the past what happens when you don't respond. Now people know that we're not going to -- we're not going to tolerate these direct attacks on American or coalition service members, and we're willing and able to respond.

Even hawkish analysts find that the argument is nonsense.

The U.S. claims that the group Kataib Hezbollah, part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and under command of the Iraqi government, fired the missiles. But the positions the U.S. hit were not Kataib Hezbollah positions. U.S. intelligence in Iraq is not up to date with regards to where Kataib Hezbollah units or those of the other 20+ PMU groups are stationed.

TØM CΛT - 12:05 UTC · Mar 14, 2020

After asking a military source in 19th Commando Division about the Al-Atheer facility and presence of "Iranian missiles", the response I got was that KH withdrew from the site 7+ days ago and the unit took their place.
So yeah, the Mussayib site was under Iraq Army.

British forces were supposed to join yesterday's U.S. strike but the Wall Street Journal reports that the Brits were called back by their government because the attribution of the original rockets strike to Kataib Hezbollah was shady and because there was no legal justification for the strikes.

The Iraqi government announced that it would protest at the United Nation about the U.S. breach of its sovereignty. Ayatollah Sistani condemned the U.S. attack and even the Iraq Joint Operational Command, which includes coordinating U.S. officers, protested against the strikes.

The Iraqi parliament and government have told the U.S. to leave Iraq. The Trump administration is not willing to do that. In consequence more U.S. soldiers will have to die in Iraq.

That the "deterrence" strikes did not deter anything was proven today when another rocket salvo was fired at Camp Taji in broad daylight:

Cont. reading: Iraq's Resistance Reveals How U.S. Troops Will Be Removed From Its Country

Posted by b at 16:48 UTC | Comments (133)

March 13, 2020

News-Nugget About The Coronavirus Pandemic

Excerpts from three current pieces about the novel coronavirus pandemic.

NPR: White House Knew Coronavirus Would Be A 'Major Threat' — But Response Fell Short

In the case of Alex Azar, [the head of Health and Human Services], he did go to the president in January. He did push past resistance from the president's political aides to warn the president the new coronavirus could be a major problem. There were aides around Trump - Kellyanne Conway had some skepticism at times that this was something that needed to be a presidential priority.

But at the same time, Secretary Azar has not always given the president the worst-case scenario of what could happen. My understanding is he did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that's partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear - the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential reelection this fall.

So how did that worst-case scenario look?

NYT: The Worst-Case Estimate for U.S. Coronavirus Deaths

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and epidemic experts from universities around the world conferred last month about what might happen if the new coronavirus gained a foothold in the United States. How many people might die? How many would be infected and need hospitalization?

One of the agency’s top disease modelers, Matthew Biggerstaff, presented the group on the phone call with four possible scenarios — A, B, C and D — based on characteristics of the virus, including estimates of how transmissible it is and the severity of the illness it can cause. The assumptions, reviewed by The New York Times, were shared with about 50 expert teams to model how the virus could tear through the population — and what might stop it.
...
Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.

And, the calculations based on the C.D.C.’s scenarios suggested, 2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds. Fewer than a tenth of those are for people who are critically ill.

That is why we argued that only an early and lasting lockdown can prevent that the health care system goes into overload and that many people who would ordinarily survive would otherwise unnecessarily die.

A U.S. op-ed writer, who was in China during the lockdown, repeats our criticism of the racism that led to the still sluggish response in 'western' countries.

NYT: China Bought the West Time. The West Squandered It.

Cont. reading: News-Nugget About The Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted by b at 14:00 UTC | Comments (462)

Why Is The U.S. Launching A New War On Iraq?

On January 3 the U.S. assassinated the Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani and the deputy chairman of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al Muhandis near the airport of Baghdad. In response to the infraction of Iraq's sovereignty the parliament voted to evict all U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq. The U.S. rejected the request to leave.

On March 11, the birthday of Qassem Suleimani, unknown guerilla fired 18 Katyusha rockets against a joint base at Camp Taji, about 17 miles north of Baghdad. Two U.S. and one British soldiers were killed by the strike and twelve others were wounded.

Only hours later the U.S., or one of its allies, responded by striking ten targets near Bukamal with drones. Bukamal is a border crossing where Iraqi units aligned with Iran are guarding the Syrian-Iraqi border. While some sources claimed that 18 people were killed in those strikes others denied that there were any casualties.

Last night the U.S. hit five additional targets in Iraq.

It claimed that these airstrikes were aimed at Khatib Hizbullah, one of the PMU units that is supported by Iran. It said it 'believes' that Khatib Hizbullah was responsible for the rocket attack. But neither the targets nor the casualty list is not consistent with that claim. Three soldiers of the 19th Commando Division of the Iraqi army were killed and four more wounded. Two men from the Iraqi Federal Police were killed and two more wounded. Five Khatib Hizbullah members were also wounded.

One of the targets was a former military airport near Karbala which is one of the Shiite holy pilgrimage cities. The airport is supposed to become a civilian one and is currently under renovation. Its main building is now destroyed (vid). One civil worker sleeping at the site was allegedly killed as were two soldiers who were guarding the place.

The U.S. either has no information where Khatib Hizbullah units really, or it is intentionally targeting sites and units that will further inflame Iraq's Shia majority:

Another Iran-backed militia, Harakat al-Nujaba, accused the United States of hitting militia and Iraqi army headquarters, as well as a civilian airport. In a statement early Friday, it said that further strikes could prompt retaliation involving an “eye for an eye.”

The group did not elaborate on what that might be, and it was not immediately possible to confirm the U.S. statements that the strikes had only targeted militia facilities, or the militia claim that a civilian-related location had been struck.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani condemned the attack.

The 'western' media depict this war as if it were between Iran and the United States. But the U.S. troops involved are in Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi government. They are occupiers against whom resistance is legitimate. They are bombing official Iraqi government troops on Iraqi ground.

That is at least how the majority of Iraqis see it and that is why they will respond until the U.S. has left their country.

Why the U.S. is doing in Iraq what it now does is beyond me.

Posted by b at 12:26 UTC | Comments (83)

March 12, 2020

A Year After The Second MAX Crashed Boeing Is Faced With Ruin

On top of the damage that misguided shareholder value policy caused to Boeing will now come the effects of an unprecedented pandemic. Together they may well signal the end of a once great company.

On March 10 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after taking off in Addis Adaba. All 157 people on board died. It was the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX airplane six months after Lion Air Flight 610 had crashed and killed all 189 people on board.

Exactly a year ago Moon of Alabama published its first piece about the MAX. At that time all MAX planes were grounded except in the United States. We described Boeing's shoddy implementation of the plane's maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) and concluded:

Today Boeing's share price dropped some 7.5%. I doubt that it is enough to reflect the liability issues at hand. Every airline that now had to ground its planes will ask for compensation. More than 330 people died and their families deserve redress. Orders for 737 MAX will be canceled as passengers will avoid that type.

Boeing will fix the MCAS problem by using more sensors or by otherwise changing the procedures. But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation. If the FAA is internationally seen as a lobbying agency for the U.S. airline industry it will no longer be trusted and the industry will suffer from it. It will have to run future certification processes through a jungle of foreign agencies.

Congress should take up the FAA issue and ask why it failed.

The MAX was developed and built as cheaply and is therefore not as safe as possible. Boeing cut corners and deceived its customers and  regulators. Its management had only one thing in mind - the stock price of Boeing and its so called shareholder value.

Cont. reading: A Year After The Second MAX Crashed Boeing Is Faced With Ruin

Posted by b at 18:00 UTC | Comments (58)

March 11, 2020

Coronavirus - The Hidden Cases - Why We Must Shut Everything Down And Do It Now

The powers that be in our 'western' societies have decided to do nothing significant against the onslaught the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 is now causing.

There will not even be an attempt to do like China or South Korea which have thrown all resources at stopping the spread of the virus while it was still possible. The 'west' now seem to be beyond that point.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson floated the idea to "take it on the chin" -  i.e. to do nothing to soften the blow the epidemic will cause. Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany told her parliamentary group that 60-70% of all Germans will catch the virus. Most of them will fall ill with the Covid-19 disease the virus causes. At a 1% death rate this means that more than 500.000 Germans will die from it. Merkel did not say how she would try to prevent that. So far little was done by her administration to stop a further public spreading of the disease.

The Donald Trump administration has done its best to prevent an early detection of the outbreak in Washington State and likely also elsewhere:

As luck would have it, Dr. Chu had a way to monitor the region. For months, as part of a research project into the flu, she and a team of researchers had been collecting nasal swabs from residents experiencing symptoms throughout the Puget Sound region.

To repurpose the tests for monitoring the coronavirus, they would need the support of state and federal officials. But nearly everywhere Dr. Chu turned, officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began.

By Feb. 25, Dr. Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval.

What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on American soil without anybody realizing it.

The CDC and the FDA would not have that:

The message from the federal government was blunt. “What they said on that phone call very clearly was cease and desist to Helen Chu,” Dr. Lindquist [the state epidemiologist in Washington] remembered. “Stop testing.”

Our dear leaders are following the four stage strategy (vid):

Cont. reading: Coronavirus - The Hidden Cases - Why We Must Shut Everything Down And Do It Now

Posted by b at 16:19 UTC | Comments (403)

March 10, 2020

Open Thread 2020-19

For commenting on the 2020 presidential election use the 2020 Presidential Election Thread.

Other news & views can be posted here.

Posted by b at 16:50 UTC | Comments (136)

2020 Presidential Election Thread 04

This thread is exclusively for comments on the 2020 presidential election.

Posted by b at 16:47 UTC | Comments (153)

March 09, 2020

Why Is The Coronavirus More Dangerous Than The Flu?

Today the financial markets finally recognized the economic damage the novel Coronavirus will cause.

The price war in the crude oil markets which Russia initiated did not cause today's stock market fall but it also did not help. While cheap oil is supposed to be good for the economy the drop will also cause significant damage in the U.S. financial markets as the whole fracking industry in the United States is laden with debt and is now destined to be wiped out. Expect crude prices to sink to $20 per barrel as frantic overproduction and a drop in demand due to the virus coincide. Russia is well positioned to win this price war. Others are not.

It is the virus pandemic that causes the downturn in stock markets. But what makes the Sars-CoV-2 virus, as the novel Coronavirus is now officially known, so dangerous? The Covid-19 disease the virus causes is basically a flu like disease but one of a way more severe kind.

And it is a totally NEW kind of 'flu' and that makes all the difference.

Each year some 15% of the world population will be infected with one or more of the dozens of flu viruses we know. The people get ill and most will recover while they also develop some immunity against the specific virus they were infected with. Over the years this sums up to a basic immunity level within our societies. So many people already had a flu from the well known viruses that most of them will not get infected during another flu season. We have also developed vaccines against the most well known viruses. They help to keep the people who work in health care on their job even when many new flu patients come in.

But when a new viruses evolves everything is different. Our societies do not have a basic immunity against a new virus. Without countermeasures many more people will get sick during the first, second and third wave of a new virus onslaught than during a normal flu season. Health care staff will also get infected and must quarantine itself. Some health care workers will probably die. Hospitals will become overwhelmed and the health care system will break down just as it did in Wuhan, China. The breakdown of the health care system also leads to a much larger number of virus death than under a working health care system.

Here is a surgeon in Bergamo, Italy, describing such a situation:

Cont. reading: Why Is The Coronavirus More Dangerous Than The Flu?

Posted by b at 17:54 UTC | Comments (192)

March 08, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-18

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

The U.S. decided to run along the red curve while China, with less than 100 new cases today, has moved from the red to the blue curve.

> The effective reproductive number [in Wuhan] dropped from 3.86 (95% credible interval 3.74 to 3.97) before interventions to 0.32 (0.28 to 0.37) post interventions. <

bigger

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-18

Posted by b at 14:22 UTC | Comments (188)

March 07, 2020

Saudi Arabia - As New Budget Problems Arise The Clown Prince Arrests More Family

The Saudi Clown Prince Mohammed bin Salman removed his competition within the royal family:

Saudi Arabia has detained three senior Saudi princes including Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, for allegedly planning a coup, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Four sources told Reuters that Prince Ahmed and Mohammed bin Nayef were detained in the latest operation. Two sources, including a regional source, said Mohammed bin Nayef and his half-brother, Nawaf, were detained while at a private desert camp on Friday.

Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also referred to as MbS, “accused them (the princes) of conducting contacts with foreign powers, including the Americans and others, to carry out a coup d’etat,” the regional source said.

“With these arrests, MbS consolidated his full grip on power. It’s over with this purge,” the source added, indicating that no rivals remain to challenge his succession to the throne.

There are two plausible explanations for this step:

The first is that the two men were leading a rebellion against him within the ruling family, and it was intending to install them as king and crown prince as part of a ‘reordering’ of the House of Saud. This would have been aimed at reinstating its ‘traditional’ mode of rule, based on a more consensual and less confrontational approach to domestic and external affairs. Rumours that such a plan was being hatched surfaced last September after the mysterious killing of the head of royal security Abdelaziz al-Faghm.

The second explanation is that Muhammad Bin-Salman acted to get rid of his two principal opponents within the family – some reports claim a number of other members were also rounded up – as a prelude to shunting aside his father on grounds of ill health and incapacity and having himself declared king. He thereby dealt a pre-emptive blow to his main potential challengers.

The move comes at a time where Saudi Arabia is under financial pressure. The government's 2020 budget was predicted to have a $50 billion deficit or 6.4% of the Saudi GDP. But that was based on an estimated crude oil price of $62-63 per barrel, and assumed a crude production at around 9.8 million barrels per day.

Cont. reading: Saudi Arabia - As New Budget Problems Arise The Clown Prince Arrests More Family

Posted by b at 19:22 UTC | Comments (101)

2020 Presidential Election Thread 03

This thread is exclusively for comments on the 2020 presidential election.

Posted by b at 14:26 UTC | Comments (165)