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June 15, 2021

Putin Teaching A Journalist And Other New Bits Around Ryanair Flight 4978

There are some new bits about the Ryanair flight 4978 which on May 23 landed in Belarus after having received a bomb threat. To recap:

On May 23 a bomb threat against a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was emailed to airports and authorities in Lithuania, Belarus and Greece. It is not known who has sent the email. ...

Belarus Air Traffic Control, through whose airspace the plane was flying at that time, contacted the pilot, informed him of the threat and recommended landing the plane in Minsk. The pilot contacted Ryanair management and then decided to follow the advice. The plane landed at 10:15 utc (13:15 Belorussian time), the passengers disembarked and a lengthy bomb search was carried out. No bomb was found.
...
The passengers had to pass through passport controls. Two passengers were found to have outstanding arrest warrants against them and were detained. The other passengers flew to their original destination.
...
[J]ust an hour after the plane had landed [regime change agent] Frank Viacorka, who is followed by many 'blueticks' on Twitter, presented a narrative of the incident which strongly diverted from reality but allowed for a new push of the stalled regime change agenda.
...
The widely shared tweet and the ones following it implied that the Belorussian government ordered the plane down to arrest the regime change agent Protasevich.

When one looks into the details of the case it soon becomes obvious that the narrative is false.

The false narrative continues to be told by 'western' media. It has led, as its originators hoped, to the introduction of new sanctions against Belarus.

The case came up again during a recent interview by NBC with the Russian President Vladimir. The transcript and video are available here:

Cont. reading: Putin Teaching A Journalist And Other New Bits Around Ryanair Flight 4978

Posted by b at 15:36 UTC | Comments (86)

June 14, 2021

Corruption Is Profitable. But Does It Have To Be This Profitable?

Aduhlem, a drug that is supposed to slow Alzheimer's effects, had failed to show efficacy in two trials. It showed some reduction of plaques in the brain which may or may not be significant.

Ten of the eleven advisors of the Federal Drug Administration voted "no" when asked if there was enough evidence that the drug is useful. One voted "uncertain". Last week the FDA approved the drug and claimed that the plaques reduction effect is somewhat meaningful.

Three of the advisors resigned.

The cost per patient per year for the drug will be some $56,000. There are some 6 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's. Medicare and Medicaid, which will have to pay for the drug because it is FDA approved, will have to bear the costs. The company which makes the drug, Biogen, will gain ginormous profits from it. As will physicians who prescribe the drug, administer the infusions and bill 6% of the drug's price for it.

The above is a portrait of a deeply corrupt system in which all incentives are set in the wrong direction.

Now, corruption in national medical systems is not unusual and can be found all over the world. But what I find astonishing with the U.S. system is how little money companies like Biogen actually have to pay to get deals done that will make them billions.

The man who pushed for the FDA approval was no other than President Joe Biden. As the American Conservative, linked below, writes:

Less than two weeks prior to the approval, President Joe Biden said that “if we don’t do something about Alzheimer’s in America… every single [hospital bed] will be occupied in the next 15 years with an Alzheimer’s patient.” Guess which 2020 candidate was the largest recipient of campaign funds by a large margin from Biogen and affiliated parties? Joe Biden, with $76,241.

How cheap is that?

Within the next few years Biogen will make a million times more money than it paid to Joe Biden's campaign. Couldn't he have asked for 10%, 1% or an already cheap 0.01%? It would still have been a great deal for the company. But Biden is so downright cheap that he sold out for 0.000001% of Biogen's gain.

What a lowlife.

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Sources:

Posted by b at 15:12 UTC | Comments (101)

Please Support Moon of Alabama

This post is pinned to the top. Please scroll down for fresh content.
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Dear reader, your support is essential to keep this site going.

Moon of Alabama provides news and analysis which other media cover late or not at all. It offers original thought and no-nonsense writing on a nearly daily basis. It is free of charge and free of distracting advertisements. The comments are open and lively. It is the effort of a single person.

While that person lives in slightly better circumstances than Spitzweg's Poor Poet, he is neither rich nor does he indulge in luxuries.

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Your continued interest and your feed back keep me going. But I also need to eat and pay rent. There is currently no other income I can rely on. Thus every donation to this Poor Poet - be it $5, $50, $500 or more - is welcome and needed. A recurring contribution or sponsorship would be great.

Transaction costs are smallest when you send cash, a check or make a bank-wire transfer. Send email to MoonofA @ aol.com (remove the blanks) for the necessary details. (They are the same as before.) You can use a credit card or other means when you donate through the PayPal button below (The account is in Euro €1 = $1.21; $1 = €0.83).

Thanks you very much!

Bernhard aka b.

Posted by b at 14:03 UTC | Comments (59)

June 13, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-045

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> A mystery bidder paid $28 million at auction Saturday for a seat alongside Jeff Bezos on board the first crewed spaceflight of the billionaire's company Blue Origin next month. <

Elon Musk?

Jack Parrock @jackeparrock - 9:29 utc · Jun 11, 2021
The lateral flow COVID tests we have to do every day at the #G7 summit are “Made in China”. 🇨🇳
Western powers still need a bit of help from the East.

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-045

Posted by b at 12:44 UTC | Comments (156)

June 12, 2021

Why Is There A Biden-Putin Summit And What Is It Supposed To Achieve?

On June 16 the Presidents of Russia and the United States will hold talks:

Biden ends the trip Wednesday with summit in Geneva with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The White House announced Saturday that the leaders will not hold a joint news conference after meeting, removing the opportunity for comparisons to the availability that followed Trump and Putin’s 2018 Helsinki summit in which Trump sided with Moscow over his own intelligence agencies.

Aides have suggested that the U.S. did not want to elevate Putin further by having the two men appear together in such a format. Others have expressed concern that Putin could try to score points on Biden, 78, who will be in the final hours of a grueling eight-day European trip.

The real reason for not holding a joint press conference is of course that a senile Biden is likely to brabble some nonsense and ruin the summit spin his minders want to put out there.

The U.S. initiated the summit which comes early in Biden's presidency. The not yet answered question is why, and what the U.S. wants to achieve with it?

The short answer, discussed in length below, is that:

  1. The U.S. wants to take on China. The U.S. recognized that it can not take on China and Russia simultaneously. Russia must thus be split from its China alliance and brought back into Europe.
  2. Russia's new strategic weapon systems may enable a first strike on the U.S. A new strategic arms agreement is the only way to avert that existential threat. (It would also save a lot of money.)

Both of these strategic aims are unlikely to get achieved because the U.S. foreign policy community is still misjudging the global situation as well as Russia's strength and position. It wants the summit to fail.

Now the long version.

In an essay published on his email list Prof. Michael Brenner, a regular reader of Moon of Alabama, gives his answer to our questions:

Cont. reading: Why Is There A Biden-Putin Summit And What Is It Supposed To Achieve?

Posted by b at 17:03 UTC | Comments (156)

June 11, 2021

Another 'Nuclear Iran' Claim By David Albright Gets Debunked

Two days ago FOX News ran another sensational story about Iran's nuclear program.

Satellite images of Iran nuclear site raise alarms as IAEA meets in Vienna

However the claims in that story are based on a report by David Albright's Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). Albright is known for his false or misleading conclusions about mostly random 'evidence'.

The story:

Fox News has obtained new satellite images that show unusual activity at Iran’s Sanjarian site, which has been exposed in the past as a suspected manufacturing site for "shock wave generators" – devices which would allow Iran to miniaturize a nuclear weapon.

The new images obtained from Maxar show 18 vehicles at the site on October 15, 2020, more vehicles and excavation in January along with a new access road that was later covered up in March of this year. All that is visible by satellite now are excavation swirls and new trenches, according to analysis from Itay Bar Lev of The Intel Lab who worked in conjunction with the Institute for Science and International Security.

The site, which is 25 miles outside Tehran and has a population of 361, was first revealed when Israel's Mossad obtained Iran's secret nuclear archive in 2018: 50,000 computer files and 50,000 documents outlining Iran's Amad project, the scientific program to build a nuclear weapon which the IAEA says was halted in 2003.

The pictures FOX News presents are supposed to show the site on October 15 2020 and on January 18 2021. There are only slight differences.

Cont. reading: Another 'Nuclear Iran' Claim By David Albright Gets Debunked

Posted by b at 17:50 UTC | Comments (50)

June 10, 2021

Biden Seeks Allies For War On China

U.S. President Joe Biden is currently in Europe.

President Biden @POTUS - 14:26 UTC · Jun 10, 2021

I believe we are at an inflection point in history. A moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure — they will excel as we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of this new age.

Democracies excel against whom?

According to the Democracy Perception Index 2020 73% of the people in China say that their country is democratic. Only 48% in the United States see their country as such.

China is indeed rising to the "enormous opportunities of this new age". The U.S., well, not so much. And that is the crux of the whole situation.

Biden's tweet is gibberish. A good translation of what he really meant is probably this:

chinahand @chinahand - 14:55 UTC · Jun 10, 2021

It's how the more homely and honest "we have to f*ck up china before it eats America's lunch" gets translated into faux Churchill hero speak. Suspect Jake Sullivan lobbied for the existential crisis for democracy angle coz why wud Europe line up to just to save America's ass?

Biden is in Europe to ask its leaders to support the U.S. in its efforts against China (and Russia). But that is not in Europe's interest:

The President and his advisors would do well to remember that while former Belgian foreign minister Mark Eyskens famously said that Europe is a political dwarf, he also called it an economic giant. As several U.S. presidents have discovered, the subservience of European countries to the United States stops as soon as European wallets are involved. This was demonstrated most recently in Germany’s adamant refusal to bow to U.S.pressure to abandon the North Stream gas pipeline from Russia.

A degree of common Western economic pushback against China is legitimate and necessary in two areas: Chinese behavior that clearly breaks universally accepted rules, as in the area of intellectual property theft; and control of vital national infrastructure. After all, the Chinese defend their own technological expertise, and they will never allow foreign control of essential sectors of the Chinese economy.

The Biden administration however seems to want to go much further than this, to effectively shut China out from any important say in shaping the rules of the international economy, and greatly restrict Chinese investment and infrastructural development outside China. This strategy is doomed to failure, and will cause deep divisions between the United States, Europe and Japan.

Europe won't line up behind the U.S. for its great war on China. And a war it is gonna be:

Cont. reading: Biden Seeks Allies For War On China

Posted by b at 17:52 UTC | Comments (143)

Open Thread 2021-044

News & views ...

Posted by b at 14:18 UTC | Comments (111)

June 09, 2021

The End Of Crypto Currencies

The hype about crypto currencies is coming to an end.

I have always been distrustful of crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ether. They made no sense to me. The person who invented the scheme stayed anonymous. The concept foresaw a limited number of total coins with new ones becoming exponentially harder to generate or 'mine'. This would continuously require exponentially more energy. At the core of crypto currencies is the blockchain, a public ledger which holds a record of every transaction. The 'mining' is needed to verify the blockchain ledger. This concept thus had always limits in its design which at some point would make a further expansion impossible.

While people who use Bitcoins can hide behind anonymous wallets which hold their coins any transfer from and to real money would need de-anonymization at some point of exchange. These entry and exits points from and to normal currencies were another major weakness of the whole scheme. Another one was the obvious usefulness of Bitcoins for spies, criminals and tax evaders. Sooner or later authorities would clamp down on them. That is why Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism had christened crypto currencies "prosecution futures".

Crypto currencies are not money. One can not pay ones taxes with them.

In the first years most Bitcoins were acquired to buy drugs or child porn on the darknet. There was then little police activity against those markets. But over time the officials got smarter. When they caught a child porn dealer they could use his wallet address and the public ledger to find everyone who had ever paid for the 'service'. Some of the exchanges, which also have bank-like functions, turned out to be run by criminals. They went bust and the people who had parked their bitcoins at that 'bank' lost their money.

Other exchanges, like Coinbase, went 'official' and even became listed at stock exchanges. But they soon had to agree to turn customer records over to the Justice Department for possible tax evasion and other investigations.

Some claim that crypto currencies are a good investment or inflation hedge. But their value can be manipulated which makes them extremely volatile.


via Heisenberg Report - bigger>

There have been offers to donate to Moon or Alabama in crypto currencies. I never accepted any. It was not worth the potential risk of getting caught up in this or that criminal investigation.

2021 will probably be the year in which Bitcoin finally dies.

Cont. reading: The End Of Crypto Currencies

Posted by b at 18:00 UTC | Comments (194)

June 07, 2021

Space Oddities

Jeff Bezos is going to space, says a CNN report:

Jeff Bezos will be flying to space on the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company, Blue Origin. The flight is scheduled for July 20th, just 15 days after he is set to resign as CEO of Amazon.

Blue Origin said Bezos' younger brother, Mark Bezos, will also join the flight.
...
If all goes according to plan, Bezos — the world's richest person with a net worth of $187 billion — will be the first of the billionaire space tycoons to experience a ride aboard the rocket technology that he's poured millions into developing. Not even Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to enter orbit around Earth, has announced plans to travel to space aboard one of his companies human-worthy crew capsules.

The world richest person will of course not pay for the trip.

Blue Origin as well as its competitor SpaceX are part of NASA's commercial crew and human landing system (HLS) programs which subsidize and support the development of various space flight and moon landing systems.

This was supposed to lead to the development of several commercial space services from which NASA can then select one for each of its missions. But when Blue Origin lost out in a recent bid to actually build the human landing system the company immediately launched a protest:

Blue Origin says in the GAO protest that its “National Team,” which included Draper, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, bid $5.99 billion for the HLS award, slightly more than double SpaceX’s bid. However, it argues that it was not given the opportunity to revise that bid when NASA concluded that the funding available would not allow it to select two bidders, as originally anticipated. NASA requested $3.3 billion for HLS in its fiscal year 2021 budget proposal but received only $850 million in an omnibus appropriations bill passed in December 2020.

Having failed to bilk the government out of several more billions Bezos called on his lobbyists:

In recent years, Blue Origin also has given its operation in the nation’s capital more muscle. It spent nearly $2 million in lobbying last year, up from a little more than $400,000 in 2015, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks spending. The company’s political action committee has amped up its donations as well, spending $320,000 in 2020, up from $22,000 in 2016.

A few envelopes changed hands and achieved the desired result:

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell—from Amazon’s home state of Washington—tacked on $10 billion for NASA into the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that allocates funding to conduct research in technological innovation and space exploration. Presumably, Blue Origin will get a chunk of this, since Cantwell’s amendment specifically states that NASA will subsidize “design, development, testing, and evaluation for not fewer than 2 entities” for the Human Landing System Program. (Both Blue Origin and Dynetics had competed for the contract.)

That led to to a pissing contest with Elon Musk's SpaceX:

In a flier, SpaceX said the Cantwell amendment “undermines the federal government procurement process, rewards Jeff Bezos with a $10 billion sole-source hand-out, and will throw NASA’s Artemis program into years of litigation.” It adds that Blue Origin “has not produced a single rocket or spacecraft capable of reaching orbit.”
...
Blue Origin came back with its own flier subtitled “What is Elon Musk afraid of...a little competition?” with itemized “lies” in SpaceX’s flier. Its bottom line: “Elon Musk repeatedly talks about the value of competition, but when it comes to NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) program, he wants it all to himself.”

That Bezos is suddenly lauding the merit of competition, after having lost a bid with a way too high price, is more than a bit hypocritical:

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced Tuesday he's suing Amazon on antitrust grounds, alleging the company's practices have unfairly raised prices for consumers and suppressed innovation.

Racine is seeking to end what he alleges is Amazon's illegal use of price agreements to edge out competition; the lawsuit also asks for damages and penalties to deter similar conduct.

Amazon, Bezos' main company, also gets billions in subsidies and does not pay taxes.

Bezos, Musk and other billionaires are errors in our economic-political systems. They should be eliminated.

I am fine with subsidizing Bezos' or Musk's flights to space.

But don't make it round-trip tickets.

Posted by b at 17:15 UTC | Comments (149)

June 06, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-043

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-043

Posted by b at 12:40 UTC | Comments (243)

June 05, 2021

UFO Reports Are Fertilizer For Military Budgets

Since December 2019 the United States has a Space Force as one of eight branches of U.S. Armed Forces. Each of those branches has lots of higher ranking officer positions. All people who are put into those want a lucrative board seat at some weapon manufacturer when they retire. They will only get one if they manage to create enough revenue for those manufacturers while they are still in uniform.

The new command therefore needs new weapons. Otherwise there will be no revenue for the weapon manufacturers and no lucrative board seats for retired officers. But spending tax dollars on weapons requires at least some nominal justification. There needs to be a threat that requires new weapons to counter it.

Thus we are presented with an onslaught of UFO rumors and silly grainy videos:

The idea of UFOs has gone mainstream. The dam broke with a New York Times story about a year ago on three declassified Navy videos. Last weekend, 60 Minutes did its own report, and The New Yorker has a nice long writeup of the history of the debate within the American government.

The sightings involve objects that seem to defy the laws of physics.
...
It’s the “physics-defying” aspects of UFOs that imply an advanced alien civilization. Although some suggest that Chinese or Russian drones could be behind what people are seeing, the idea of those nations being that far ahead of the United States can probably be dismissed.

From believing in alien UFOs to making laughable stupid claims is just a short step:

Josh Rogin @joshrogin - 2:23 PM · Jun 4, 2021

There are two theories about the UFO’s. One is they are from another planet, one is that they are from another dimension. In other words, it could be humans from the future, not an alien species.

This reply is fitting:

Cont. reading: UFO Reports Are Fertilizer For Military Budgets

Posted by b at 18:06 UTC | Comments (180)

June 04, 2021

Roman Protasevich, Casualty Of The Ryanair Incident In Belarus, Is Spilling The Beans

A TV documentary of the bomb threat against a Ryanair plan (vid) has confirmed our analysis of a false narrative which had been constructed by Belorussian regime change activists.

They had alleged that on May 23 a Ryanair plane had been forced by the Belorussian government to land in Minsk after which one activist on board, Roman Protasevich, had been arrested. But in reality a real bomb threat, delivered by email, had been received at Minsk airport as well as by Lithuanian air authorities. The plane was made aware of the threat by the Belorussian air traffic control and the pilot, after communicating with Ryanair management, had decided to land in Minsk.

Belarus handled the case by the book and the plane was released after it had been unsuccessfully searched for the alleged bomb. There were outstanding arrest warrants against two passengers on board, Roman Protasevich and his Russian girl friend Sofia Sapega. Both were detained after passing through the custom and passport controls.

Roman Protasevich had been betrayed. Other regime change activists, with whom he had disagreed, had sent the bomb threat email to get him trapped.

This is evident from his testimony in the later part of the TV documentary linked above, where he appears as a lively and engaged chain smoker.

A second Belorussian TV piece (vid), with a ninety minutes excerpt from a four hour long interview of Protasevich, was broadcast yesterday:

Former editor-in-chief of NEXTA Roman Protasevich interviewed the Belarusian state channel ONT. In it, he pleaded guilty in a criminal case to organizing and preparing actions that violate public order, and also criticized the Belarusian opposition and said he respected Alexander Lukashenko.

In the interview Protasevich is spilling the beans about the whole foreign financed opposition organization which was behind the 2020 color revolution attempt in Belarus.


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'Western' media, as well as other regime change activist claim that Protasevich must have been tortured to say what he says. However, aside from light handcuff marks at his wrists there is no evidence of that. Protasevich had previously been wounded when he fought in the fascist Ukrainian Azov battalion against the Donbas secessionists. He is a tough guy who will not be impressed by handcuffs which, by the way, police everywhere use for good reasons.

During the Korea war U.S. pilots, captured by China, admitted to dropping biological weapons on China. The U.S. long denied the use of biological weapons and claimed that the pilots had been tortured and made false confessions. Decades later secret files were released which proved that the claims the pilots had made had been correct.

At the beginning of the interview with Marat Markov, the head of the Belorussian state TV channel ONT, Protasevich is still somewhat tense. But after 3 or 4 minutes the talk develops into a lively exchange during which Protasevich at times interrupts and corrects the journalist. Protasevich's voice sounds rough and at times pressed. He is a chain smoker and claims to have a cold. Towards the end, when they talk about the personal damage the color revolution attempt has caused to many, both get somewhat emotional but in no way hostile to each other.

Protasevich's demeanor, engagement, body language and general attitude throughout the interview has me convinced that he doing it voluntarily and that he is telling the truth. He is not reading off a script someone else has written. He is doing a tell all about the foreign financed regime change effort he had been part of. And why not? He has been betrayed by his former comrades. He is now expecting up to fifteen years of jail. Telling it all might well help him to lessen the sentence for his crimes.

There are yet no English subtitles on the interview and there is no English language transcript of the interview. The following are excerpts from an eight part summary published in Russian language on Office Life. The text is machine translated:

Cont. reading: Roman Protasevich, Casualty Of The Ryanair Incident In Belarus, Is Spilling The Beans

Posted by b at 11:20 UTC | Comments (147)

June 03, 2021

Switzerland Cancels Putin-Biden Summit

Not really.

Russia is doing away with the U.S. dollar.

Russia plans to fully abandon the US greenback in the structure of the National Wealth Fund (NWF) and reduce the share of the British pound within a month, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov revealed on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday, adding that the share of euro and yuan will rise, gold will be added, but the portfolio of Japanese yen will remain unchanged in the NWF.

"We, just like the Central Bank, have decided to reduce the funds of the NWF invested in dollar assets. Today’s structure has around 35% of the NWF’s funds invested in dollars. We have decided to fully withdraw from dollar assets, replacing investments in dollars by an increase in the euro, in gold," he said, adding that the shift to a new structure of the NWF is expected within a month.

"[Investments] in dollars will equal 0%; in euro they’ll come to 40%; in yuan they’ll amount to 30%; in gold - 20%; and in pounds and yuan - 5% each. We have substituted dollars with an increase of 5% in euro, gold and yuan," the finance chief explained.

Russia's national wealth fund has a total value of some $120 billion. The Central Bank of Russia has likewise decreased its U.S. dollar reserves. It has also created an alternative to the SWIFT interbank transfer system that will be used should U.S. sanctions make SWIFT transfers impossible:

If the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is shut down in Russia, the country’s banking system will not crash, according to Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina. Russia has a substitute.

"There were threats that we can be disconnected from SWIFT. We have finished working on our own payment system, and if something happens, all operations in SWIFT format will work inside the country. We have created an alternative," Nabiullina said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

She also added that 90 percent of ATMs in Russia are ready to accept the Mir payment system, a domestic version of Visa and MasterCard.

Russia is clearly expecting that its relations with the U.S. will get worse. It is protecting itself from new U.S. sanctions.

This comes two weeks before Biden-Putin summit in Geneva  If that summit happens at all:

If you think that this is a joke, don't:

Switzerland will not accept certificates on COVID-19 vaccination with Sputnik V for the media accreditation at the upcoming Russia-US summit in Geneva, Pierre-Alain Eltschinger, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, told Sputnik on Wednesday
Here is (in Russian) Russian official version from Ria. Considering the fact that Vladimir Putin and Russian delegation to summit in Geneva are all vaccinated with Sputnik V, Russians finally have their excuse to cancel a generally useless summit and not attend it.

The announcement today is a signal to Biden. It says: Your mighty dollar has no power over us. You can not beat us down with Russiagate blabber and sanction nonsense.  Take us seriously or we will simply stop talking with you.

It is the deep state which runs the U.S. Russia policies and it would probably be okay with that state:

So far as one can make out, nasty events pointing to Russian malfeasance reliably occur prior to those occasions decisions must be made as to the nature of U.S. policy toward Russia. This is especially so when there is even a hint that bilateral relations might stand even a minimal chance of improving.

While Bountygate and the Navalny silliness proved flops, on the broader question of U.S. policy toward Russia one must conclude this pattern has been effective. This implies something awful: We must ask whether better relations with the Russian Federation have effectively been rendered impossible. One understands that the expression “Deep State” is a touch outré. But given the record since 2016, we surely must conclude that there is something behind our garish political spectacles that has a very great deal to say on matters that are supposed to rest with our electorate but don’t.

A distinction, in conclusion. During Trump’s time, the pattern of events I describe was preventive: Trump’s policy on Russia was clear, admirably so, and had to be subverted. In Biden’s case, it seems to work in inverse fashion. Biden being a Russophobe from way back, he now needs merely justification to maintain tensions at the highest possible level while professing to do his damnest to repair our devastated ties.

Let us watch as Geneva approaches, and watch again as this potentially momentous summit in all likelihood turns out to be other than.

Posted by b at 16:16 UTC | Comments (99)

Open Thread 2021-042

News & views ...

Posted by b at 13:27 UTC | Comments (161)

June 02, 2021

Timeline, Narrative Control And Consequences Of The Ryanair Incident In Belarus

(Amended at the very end on June 3 4:00 utc.)

The fallout from the bomb threat against the Ryanair flight 4978 from Greece to Lithuania continues to hit people who were not at all involved in the incident. That is sad as the 'western' perception of the case is based on a completely false narrative which was planted by foreign paid 'activists' who aim for regime-change in Russia and Belarus.

While previous Moon of Alabama posts, listed at the end of this one, went into the details of the case this one will present a broader timeline of the event and look at some of the involved characters and organizations. It will be the reference thread for possible future posts.

Frank Viacorka is a non-resident fellow of the NATO lobby Atlantic Council. His Wilson Center biography says:

Franak Viačorka is a Belarusian journalist and media expert. Franak works as a digital media strategist at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (contractor). He has worked as a creative director for the Belarus service of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty and Vice President for Digital Communication Network. Franak is a frequent speaker and an advocate for democracy and personal freedom. He graduated from American University in Washington D.C. (M.A.) and Warsaw University in Poland (B.A.).

Viacorka has long worked on regime changing Belarus. He was at the core of the U.S. financed organization Nexta who directed the protests in Belarus after its 2020 election.

Viacorka is currently assigned as the chief minder of the rather hapless Svyatlana Guiado-Tsikhanouskaya, an exiled English teacher and wannabe president of Belarus.

After the election the EU had imposed some sanctions on Belarus. But then the whole effort somehow stalled. On May 13 Viacorka was asked about this:

The first package of EU sanctions against Lukashenka’s entourage was adopted on October 2, 2020, the second — on November 6, and the third — on December 17. Since then, the fourth package is also expected to be adopted. However, five months later, there are no new EU sanctions. Why?

According to Franak Vyachorka, international affairs advisor to Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, there are countries where Belarus is first on the agenda. But, then, there are those with other priorities: the coronavirus pandemic, peace in the Balkans, or security in North Africa.

Some countries, especially in Southwest Europe, he says, “believe that the Belarusian issue has calmed down: the crisis is not solved, but there is no escalation. Therefore, the issues in Belarus are being solved more slowly.

In an interview on May 22 Guiado-Tsikhanouskaya also lamented about the situation:

“Europe did a great deal in the beginning and offered a great deal of moral support, and afterward, the question is how far and how quickly they could go in implementing aggressive actions against the regime,” she said. “Since December [2020], that is for six months, we have had no new concrete actions on sanctions or movement on more civil society assistance. We call on the European Union to be braver.”

The expected fourth wave of targeted European sanctions against Minsk regime officials lost steam as street protests across Belarus shrank in the face of cold weather and continued arrests and beatings.

On May 23 a bomb threat against a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was emailed to airports and authorities in Lithuania, Belarus and Greece. It is not known who has sent the email. The consequences it had may give us a hint as to the identity of it senders.

Cont. reading: Timeline, Narrative Control And Consequences Of The Ryanair Incident In Belarus

Posted by b at 18:39 UTC | Comments (117)

May 31, 2021

Ryanair Bomb Threat In Belarus - 'Western' Media Narrative Disagrees With The Facts

There is still a bit more to learn about the Ryanair flight 4978 from Greece to Lithuania which on May 23 diverted to Minsk after a bomb thread against the plane had been received by several regional airports.

The west has waged a media war over the case claiming that Belarus had invented the bomb threat to capture a Belorussian dissident who was on board. However it is clear that the bomb threat happened and that Belarus acted on it by the book. The quick implementation of a deceiving western narrative leads me to believe that the bomb threat was initiated by those who oppose Belarus. It was probably managed by one of those British narrative managers who also wrote the books for the Skripal and Navalny Novichok dramas.

But there are few actual facts to support the narrative. Its 'truth' must thus be constructed by bending the facts to fit the intended story.

An example is this Reuters report which was published on Friday:

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Belarusian air traffic control refused a request by a Ryanair pilot to contact the airline after being told of an alleged bomb threat, leaving him with no alternative but to land in Minsk, the Irish carrier said in a letter seen by Reuters.

Belarus scrambled a warplane on Sunday and used the bomb alert, which turned out to be fictitious, to divert the flight, which was en route from Greece to Lithuania. When it landed in Minsk, a dissident journalist and his girlfriend were arrested.

In a letter to the Belarus transport ministry dated May 26, Ryanair Chief Executive described previous correspondence from Belarusian officials as "false and inaccurate" and said the plane had been "unlawfully diverted under false pretences".

"The pilot in command was left with no alternative but to divert to Minsk, when he was advised by Minsk ATC (Air Traffic Control) that there was a credible bomb threat to the aircraft, yet Minsk ATC refused to contact Ryanair, falsely claimed that Ryanair Ops would not answer the phone," the letter said.

The claims in bold are misleading or false.They are not supported by facts but fit the intended narrative.

A day earlier Reuters had published what it called excerpts from the transcript of the radio traffic between the Air Traffic Controller and the airplane. There is nothing in it about a refusal of a request by the Ryanair pilot to contact the airline.

Even in the complete transcript of the radio traffic, published by the Belorussian air authority, there is no request by the pilot to contact the airline.

Instead the pilot is asking the ATC to tell him the radio frequency for Ryanair company traffic. The ATC back office took a while to find it but after a few minutes the frequency was found and submitted to the plane:

Cont. reading: Ryanair Bomb Threat In Belarus - 'Western' Media Narrative Disagrees With The Facts

Posted by b at 17:36 UTC | Comments (111)

May 30, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-041

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-041

Posted by b at 18:00 UTC | Comments (204)

'Like An Amoral Infant' - How ProtonMail Contributes To False Media Claims About Belarus

ProtonMail, an encrypted end-to-end email provider in Switzerland which promises 'Swiss Privacy Data Security and Neutrality', has been busted for making false claims about bomb threat emails which were sent through its service to Minsk airport in Belarus as well as to airport authorities in other countries.

The despicable behavior of ProtonMail has led to false headlines like the one by UPI depicted below.


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ProtonMail may or may not have made that quite explicit headline claim. It is however 100% false. Belarus received a legit bomb threat against a Ryanair flight via an email sent through the ProtonMail mail servers. After receiving the email it contacted the plane in question and recommended to the pilot to divert the plane to Minsk. The pilot voluntarily followed that advice.

ProtonMail has made no effort to correct the false impression and false headlines its statement has caused. It has instead obfuscated the issue as much as it could. That is neither neutral nor fair behavior but partisan lying in an information war waged by 'western' regime changers against the people of Belarus.

Due to the malign behavior of ProtonMail new sanctions against Belarus, which will directly or indirectly hurt every Belorussian citizen, were introduced by the United States, the EU and other countries.

Moon of Alabama has detailed the publicly available evidence of the case and has called on ProtonMail to correct the record. ProtonMail responded and communicated with me via Twitter. In its communication with me ProtonMail indirectly admitted that the above headline is wrong. The complete exchange is of public interest and therefore copied below.

Cont. reading: 'Like An Amoral Infant' - How ProtonMail Contributes To False Media Claims About Belarus

Posted by b at 11:09 UTC | Comments (118)

May 29, 2021

How ProtonMail Lost The Public Trust It Needs To Do Business

ProtonMail is a Swiss provider of an end-to-end encrypted email application. The service is free to use for consumers but sold to businesses and other organizations.

ProtonMail claims to have "Swiss Privacy Data Security and Neutrality".


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But how far can one trust ProtonMail's claims of a secure service when it is openly breaking, as we show below, its pledge of neutrality?

During the aftermath of the emergency landing in Minsk of a Ryanair flight between Greece and Lithuania ProtonMail provided fractional information about emails which delivered a bomb threat against the plane to several airports. The partial and seemingly willfully incomplete response by ProtonMail has led to false claims by various media against the government of Belarus.

The 'west' is currently waging an information war against Belarus. It wants to change the government of Belarus by whatever means. By only providing fractional information about the case ProtonMail has taken a side in this war. The 'west' is now imposing sanctions against Belarus which will inevitable have negative consequences for ALL people in that country. If ProtonMail does not clean up its slate on this issue it must take responsibility for these.

This, from today's New York Times, includes several false claims:

The plane, a Ryanair Boeing 737 headed from Greece to Lithuania, was traveling through Belarusian airspace on Sunday when it was diverted and forced to land in Minsk, the capital, with an escort from a fighter jet. Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian opposition journalist who had been living in exile abroad, was detained along with his girlfriend after the plane landed.

Belarus’s president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, a brutal and eccentric strongman, has claimed that he rerouted the plane because of an emailed bomb threat, not to seize Mr. Protasevich. But a Swiss email provider has said that the email cited by the Belarusian authorities was sent after the plane had already been diverted.

As we have show previously the Ryanair plane was not "diverted and forced to land in Minsk". When the plane entered Belorussian airspace at about 12:30 local time (9:30 utc) it was informed by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) of Belarus that an email had been received by several airports that threatened to explode the plane over its destination in Vilnius. The ATC recommended to the pilot to land in Minsk. The pilot decided to do so by himself. The radio traffic between the pilot and the ATC has been published (scroll down) by the aviation authorities of Belarus. It is undisputed.

The NYT claims, relying of partial information by ProtonMail, that "the email cited by the Belorussian authorities was sent after the plane had already been diverted." The claim is false. There were two emails with bomb threats. One was received before the Ryanair plane entered the airspace of Belarus, the other was received after the pilot had already made his decision to land in Minsk. ProtonMail has so far only confirmed that the second email was send to Minsk. It has rejected to make comments about the first bomb threat email sent through its service to Minsk.

Here is how we know about the two emails.

The narrative of the incident (scroll down for the English version) by the Belorussian authorities starts with this:

Cont. reading: How ProtonMail Lost The Public Trust It Needs To Do Business

Posted by b at 14:46 UTC | Comments (90)