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September 22, 2020

The End Of The 'Rules Based International Order'

The 'western' countries, i.e. the United States and its 'allies',  love to speak of a 'rules based international order' which they say everyone should follow. That 'rules based order' is a way more vague concept than the actual rule of law:

The G7 is united by its shared values and commitment to a rules based international order. That order is being challenged by authoritarianism, serious violations of human rights, exclusion and discrimination, humanitarian and security crises, and the defiance of international law and standards.

As members of the G7, we are convinced that our societies and the world have reaped remarkable benefits from a global order based on rules and underscore that this system must have at its heart the notions of inclusion, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, diversity, and the rule of law.

That the 'rules based international order' is supposed to include vague concepts of 'democracy', 'human rights', 'fundamental freedoms', 'diversity' and more makes it easy to claim that this or that violation of the 'rules based international order' has occurred. Such violations can then be used to impose punishment in the form of sanctions or war.

That the above definition was given by a minority of a few rich nations makes it already clear that it can not be a global concept for a multilateral world. That would require a set of rules that everyone has agreed to. We already had and have such a system. It is called international law. But at the end of the cold war the 'west' began to ignore the actual  international law and to replace it with its own rules which others were then supposed to follow. That hubris has come back to bite the 'west'.

Anatol Lieven's recent piece, How the west lost, describes this moral defeat of the 'west' after its dubious 'victory' in the cold war:

Accompanying this overwhelmingly dominant political and economic ideology was an American geopolitical vision equally grandiose in ambition and equally blind to the lessons of history. This was summed up in the memorandum on “Defence Planning Guidance 1994-1999,” drawn up in April 1992 for the Bush Senior administration by Under-Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and subsequently leaked to the media. Its central message was:
...
While that 1992 Washington paper spoke of the “legitimate interests” of other states, it clearly implied that it would be Washington that would define what interests were legitimate, and how they could be pursued. And once again, though never formally adopted, this “doctrine” became in effect the standard operating procedure of subsequent administrations. In the early 2000s, when its influence reached its most dangerous height, military and security elites would couch it in the terms of “full spectrum dominance.” As the younger President Bush declared in his State of the Union address in January 2002, which put the US on the road to the invasion of Iraq: “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War… A world once divided into two armed camps now recognises one sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.”

But that power has since failed in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, during the 2008 financial crisis and now again in the pandemic. It also created new competition to its role due to its own behavior:

Cont. reading: The End Of The 'Rules Based International Order'

Posted by b at 17:59 UTC | Comments (118)

September 21, 2020

A Ukrainian/CIA Plot To Incite Belarus Against Russia Unraveled - The NYT Story Thereof Is Hiding The Failure

Just yesterday we flogged the false and misleading reports in the New York Times about Russia's Covid-19 vaccine. Today a different New York Times report by Ivan Nechepurenko, who is also with its bureau in Moscow, proves to be of similar shoddy quality:

In Belarus, Russian Mercenaries Turned From Saboteurs to Friends
President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko accused Russia of sending a group of mercenaries to disrupt his re-election. With mass protests consuming the country after the vote, he briskly changed his tune.

Diligent readers of Moon of Alabama will remember what the story is about. On August 7 we reported how the Ukrainian intelligence service SBU, in the guise of a private military company, hired former Russian and Ukrainian soldiers allegedly for jobs in Venezuela. All the hired men had previously fought on the 'Russian side' of Ukrainian civil war in the Donbas region. The men were told to go to the Belorussian capital Minsk from where they were supposed to be later flown to Venezuela to guard oil installations.

The Ukrainian SBU then told the Belorussian security service KGB that the Russian mercenaries, who were then waiting in a resort near Minsk, were in Belarus to overthrow its president Lukashenko. The men were arrested and Lukashenko made a public fuss about the alleged Russian coup against him. Ukraine then asked for the extradition of the men. It had plans to indict them for their involvement in the Donbas war.

But just a few days after the men were arrested the whole plan unraveled. Russian media proved without doubt that the men had been tricked to go to Belarus and that they had no plans to overthrow Lukashenko. The Belorussian president apologized and the men were returned to Russia. As the Russian broadsheet kp.ru summarized (machine translation):

[I]t can be stated that the Ukrainian special services managed to create a fake project, in which they involved 180 Russian citizens, while including in the first group of war veterans in the Donbas. At the same time, it is quite possible to admit that the entire fascinating and instructive story was brought to the Belorussian side in a very truncated form - without details about air tickets.

Through this entire operation, the SBU seems to have intended to kill several birds with one stone - the ubiquitous, nightmarish and terrible PMC Wagner was supposed to ricochet on Rosneft - as one of the largest Russian companies, but the main blow, undoubtedly, on the Russian-Belorussian relationships. Not to mention the possible extradition of Russian citizens to Ukraine, which Kiev would be incredibly happy about - such an opportunity to avenge its sailors, whom Poroshenko sent "to slaughter" in the Kerch Strait.

That version story has since been confirmed by the Ukrainian side (see below).

But today's New York Times report does not tell that story at all. It makes it seem as if Lukashenko changed his mind about the 'Russian coup' not because he gained knowledge of the real plot, but because he was under pressure from election protests:

Cont. reading: A Ukrainian/CIA Plot To Incite Belarus Against Russia Unraveled - The NYT Story Thereof Is Hiding The Failure

Posted by b at 16:50 UTC | Comments (66)

September 20, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-75

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> Asked whether the US is considering the possibility of appointing Dahlan, who lives in the UAE, as the next Palestinian leader, Friedman replied: "We're thinking about it," but we have no desire to engineer the Palestinian leadership. <
> Bad, bad times, made worse by one old woman’s selfish disregard for everyone else. If that offends you, so be it. Important people don’t get “don’t say bad things about the dead” when everyone else has to suffer because of their decisions. <
Michael Tracey @mtracey - 0:01 UTC · Sep 20, 2020

After the death of R.B. Ginsburg (87) the US political system falls into disarray. J. Biden (78) and D. Trump (74) declare the future of the nation is at stake. N. Pelosi (80) is bereft with grief. M. McConnell (78) plots his strategy. Spring chicken C. Schumer (69) vows revenge

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-75

Posted by b at 15:00 UTC | Comments (185)

NYT First Reinforces, Then Silently Debunks Its False Claims About Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine

Western reporters do not like to correct their own false reporting. They rather reinforce it as much as possible. Only when overwhelmed by the facts will they silently admit that they were wrong in the first place. Here is a prime example of how that's done.

In mid-August we exposed how 'western' media lied about the approval for phase-3 testing of the Russian Sputnik vaccine against Covid-19. They said that Russia claimed the vaccine was ready to go population wide. That never was the case.

'Western' Media Falsely Claim That Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Is Ready To Go

Russia has not approved a vaccine against Covid-19 and it is not skipping large-scale clinical trials. The Russia regulator gave a preliminary approval for a vaccine candidate to start the large-scale clinical trial. [...]

Science Magazine is one of the few media who got it right: ...

One of the false reports we pointed out was by the New York Times Moscow correspondent Andrew E. Kramer:

Russia Approves Coronavirus Vaccine Before Completing Tests

Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though global health authorities say the vaccine has yet to complete critical, late-stage clinical trials to determine its safety and effectiveness.
...
By skipping large-scale clinical trials, the Russian dash for a vaccine has raised widespread concern that it is circumventing vital steps — and potentially endangering people — in order to score global propaganda points.

Russia had, as we and Science Magazine reported, never the intent to skip large-scale clinical trials. Kramer made that up.

In a new report today Kramer reinforces his previous false and disproven claims to lament about an alleged slow distribution of the Sputnik vaccine in Russia:

Russia Is Slow to Administer Virus Vaccine Despite Kremlin’s Approval

More than a month after becoming the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, Russia has yet to administer it to a large population outside a clinical trial, health officials and outside experts say.

The approval, which came with much fanfare, occurred before Russia had tested the vaccine in late-stage trials for possible side effects and for its disease-fighting ability. It was seen as a political gesture by President Vladimir V. Putin to assert victory in the global race for a vaccine.

It is not clear whether the slow start to the vaccination campaign is a result of limited production capacity or second thoughts about inoculating the population with an unproven product.

The Times author reinforces his own lie that Russia had declared its vaccine ready for population wide application. It had never done that. The official registration of the vaccine by the relevant authorities was only a necessary precondition to start the large scale phase-3 testing of the vaccine. There never was a Russian intent to distribute the vaccine to a large population without phase-3 testing.

In the bottom third of his long piece Kramer comes near to admitting that. There he describes that the Sputnik phase-3 testing is now ongoing. That contradicts all of his previous reporting on the issues though he himself never says that. But even now he is getting the details wrong:

Cont. reading: NYT First Reinforces, Then Silently Debunks Its False Claims About Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine

Posted by b at 12:12 UTC | Comments (33)

September 19, 2020

Supreme Court Fight Exposes Bipartisan Hypocrisy

On Friday the liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. The discussion about the Senate confirmation of her replacement reveals the utter hypocrisy of U.S. politics and politicians.

The stakes are high:

The blunt fact is that the opportunity to seat a third justice represents a monumental political opportunity for President Trump. He would go down in history as one of the most significant presidents, whether or not he wins a second term. The last Republican president to install three justices in his first term was Richard M. Nixon. A likely Trump nominee would be Notre Dame’s Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump has previously considered for a seat on the court.

Trump will have the opportunity to put the final seal of defeat on the liberal era that began with the Roosevelt administration and ran through the Obama administration. A sixth Republican justice would essentially ensure that any sweeping liberal programs a President Joe Biden or another Democratic president might endorse would be condemned to the ash heap of history before it even had an opportunity to become established.

The Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is now arguing that any decision over the new supreme court judge should be left to the next president:

The Senate shouldn't take up the vacancy on the Supreme Court opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after voters have expressed their choice in the election, former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday.

The Democratic presidential helpful kept in lockstep with his colleagues now in the Senate minority, who wasted little time after the announcement of Ginsburg's death in stating their belief that Washington must wait.

Unsurprisingly the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell disagrees with Biden:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said unequivocally Friday night that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Four and a half years ago the situation was inverse. Then President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican led Senate blocked the decision:

Cont. reading: Supreme Court Fight Exposes Bipartisan Hypocrisy

Posted by b at 12:12 UTC | Comments (86)

South Africa's Government Debunks Politico Fakenews Of Threats Against A U.S. Ambassador

On Monday we trashed a shady Politico report which falsely claimed that Iran had plans to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa:

[A]s one fake news zombie finally dies others get resurrected. Politico's 'intelligence' stenographer Natasha Bertrand produced this nonsensical claim:
The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa, U.S. intelligence reports say, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.

News of the plot comes as Iran continues to seek ways to retaliate for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a powerful Iranian general earlier this year, the officials said. ...

Ambassador Lana Marks is known for selling overpriced handbags and for her donations to Trump's campaign. To Iran she has zero political or symbolic value. There is no way Iran would ever think about an attack on such a target. Accordingly the South African intelligence services do not believe that there is such a threat: ...

U.S. President Donald Trump used the fake Politico story to threaten Iran:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 3:04 UTC · Sep 15, 2020

According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering...
...caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!

Yesterday the government of South Africa officially debunked the obvious nonsense Politico's Natasha Bertrand was spreading:

Senior South African Government officials have met with their counterparts from the United States of America (USA), and other relevant stakeholders.

At present, the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States Ambassador to South Africa.

There never was and there will be no threat from Iran against some irrelevant U.S. ambassador in a completely unrelated country.

Iran will take revenge for the U.S. assassination of its General Qasem Soleimani by doing what it has announced to do. It will expel all U.S. forces from the Middle East.

That process is ongoing. That the U.S. now had to send armored fighting vehicles to protect its occupation forces which are 'guarding the oil' in Syria is a sign that the Iranian plan is proceeding well:

The US military announced Friday that it is deploying armored vehicles and other military assets to Syria to protect US troops fighting ISIS amid tensions with Russia as President Donald Trump told a White House news conference that "we are out of Syria," saying the remaining US forces are there exclusively "guarding the oil."

U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq are now coming under daily attacks. These will only intensify until all U.S. forces retreat from those countries.

Posted by b at 6:34 UTC | Comments (20)

September 18, 2020

New Documents Reveal Secret British Efforts To Arm, Assist And Propagandize 'Moderate Rebels' In Syria

In November 2018 some anonymous people published a number of documents that had been liberated from a clandestine British propaganda organization, the Integrity Initiative.

The same group or person who revealed the Integrity Initiative papers has now released several dozens of documents about another 'Strategic Communication' campaign run by the British Foreign Office. The current release reveals a number of train and assist missions for 'Syrian rebels' as well as propaganda operations run in Syria and globally on behalf of the British government.

Moon of Alabama, as well as other sites, had published a series of pieces about the Integrity Initiative. There were also connections between the Integrity Initiative and the Skripal 'novichok poisoning' affair.

They newly released documents about British operations in Syria are accessible under:

All the now published documents archived in one file are available for download under:

Most of the documents are detailed company responses to several solicitations from the Foreign Office for global and local campaigns in support of the 'moderate rebels' who are fighting against the Syrian government and people.

The documents lay out large scale campaigns which have on-the-ground elements in Syria, training and arming efforts in neighboring countries, command and control elements in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, as well as global propaganda efforts. These operations were wide spread.


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Most of the documents are from 2016 to 2019. They detail the organization of such operations and also portray persons involved in these projects. They often refer back to previous campaigns that have been run from 2011/2012 onward. This is where the documents are probably the most interesting. They reveal what an immense effort was and is waged to fill the information space with pro-rebel/pro-Islamist propaganda.

The documents are not about the 'White Helmets' which were a separate British run Strategic Communication campaign financed by various governments. While the operations described in the new documents were coordinated with U.S. efforts they do not reference the CIA run campaigns in Syria which included similar efforts at a cost of $1 billion per year.

The various projects and the detailed commercial offers to implement them from various notorious companies are roughly described in the above two links. I will therefore refrain from repeating that here. Some of the documents' content will surely be used in future Moon of Alabama posts.  But for now I will let you rummage through the stash.

Please let us know in the comments of the surprising bits that you might find.

Posted by b at 15:51 UTC | Comments (57)

September 17, 2020

CIA Intercepts Suggest U.S. Lied About Biological Weapon Use During Its War On Korea

During the early 1950s War on Korea the U.S. used biological weapons against North Korea and China. Bombs designed to spread leaflets were filled with plague infested rats and dropped on Korean towns. Various infecting insects were released. Leaflets were contaminated with small pox and then distributed. Several local epidemics were caused by these attacks.

The program was a continuation of one which a special unit of the Imperial Japanese Army had developed during the second world war. Unit 731 and its leaders were not indicted for the war crimes they had committed during the war but integrated into the U.S. biological warfare program.

The Soviet Union and China made political noise about the use of biological weapons but the U.S. stoically denied that it ever used such weapons. U.S. pilots, shot down and imprisoned by the North Korean forces, admitted that they had dropped such bombs. The U.S. then falsely alleged that the pilots had been tortured and must have lied. This led to demands to train all pilots to resist torture measures:

Since World War II the U.S. Airforce and Navy had established training courses in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) for pilots that might be captured by enemies. During these courses interrogations were staged to provide realistic training. After the Korea War anti-torture training was added. Torture of "prisoners" was "simulated" with the trainees. Decades later, during the war of terror and on Iraq, the CIA hired two psychologists from the SERE training staff as "behavioral science consultants" to teach its agents how to use torture on prisoners. The absolutely inhuman and dangerous methods those SERE "experts" devised proliferated to the U.S. military which, together with the CIA, used them on alleged enemy combatants in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other places.

Now back to the War on Korea. The Chinese and Soviets sponsored the International Scientific Commission (ISC) headed by one of the foremost British scientists of his time, Sir Joseph Needham, to investigate the use of biological weapons during the war. Three years ago we wrote about its report:

For a long time the commission's report and its appendices with the witness statements were suppressed and not available online. Jefferey Kay, a psychologist and author living in northern California, dug them up and recently published them (recommended) on the web for the first time. You can read them here:

Sir Joseph Needham was blacklisted by the U.S. during the McCarthy anti-communist campaign.

Needham's investigations have since been confirmed by other scholars investigating the general case.

Now Jeffrey Kaye has dug up additional documents which confirm the other reports of U.S. germ attacks on North Korea and China. Interestingly these documents are from the CIA.

Cont. reading: CIA Intercepts Suggest U.S. Lied About Biological Weapon Use During Its War On Korea

Posted by b at 15:13 UTC | Comments (156)

September 16, 2020

Now Trump's Middle East Event May Really Become "A Historic Moment"

ABC News: Trump plays global dealmaker with Israel and two Arab countries

In a historic signing ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday became the third and fourth Arab nations to move toward establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel.
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avi scharf @avischarf - 11:33 UTC · Sep 16, 2020

Crazy story here:
Netanyahu's WH delegation requested an exemption, and received a major reduction in quarantine upon their return – 5 days instead of the 14 required for U.S. arrivals

Whacko - considering the total lack of distancing + masks yesterday

>>> Netanyahu's White House Delegation Pushed for Quarantine Exemption, and Got a Reduction

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Ivanka Trump @IvankaTrump - 12:18 UTC · Sep 16, 2020

A historic moment...


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Noga Tarnopolsky @NTarnopolsky - 17:40 UTC · Sep 16, 2020

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for #COVID-19 today one day after after Israeli PM Netanyahu, UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed & Bahraini FM Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani met with them.

---

How long will it take for the herd that met in they White House yesterday to achieve immunity?

Posted by b at 18:35 UTC | Comments (106)

Open Thread 2020-74

News & views ...

Posted by b at 17:47 UTC | Comments (121)

September 15, 2020

Fake News About Iran, Russia, China Is U.S. Journalism's Daily Bread

Every few days U.S. 'intelligence' and 'officials' produce fake claims about this or that 'hostile' country. U.S. media continue to reproduce those claims even if they bare any logic and do not make any sense.

On June 27 the New York Times and the Washington Post published fake news about alleged Russian payments to the Taliban for killing U.S. troops.

The stories ran on the outlets' front pages.

Two week later the story was shown to have no basis:

[T]hat the story was obviously bullshit did not prevent Democrats in Congress, including 'Russiagate' swindler Adam Schiff, to bluster about it and to call for immediate briefings and new sanctions on Russia.

Just a day after it was published the main accusation, that Trump was briefed on the 'intelligence' died. The Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Advisor and the CIA publicly rejected the claim. Then the rest of the story started to crumble. On June 2, just one week after it was launched, the story was declared dead.
...
The NYT buried the above quoted dead corpse of the original story page A-19.

Despite that the Democrats continued to use the fake story for attacks on Donald Trump.

Yesterday the commander of the U.S. forces in the Middle East drove a stake though the heart of the dead corpse of the original story:

Two months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian government bribed the Taliban to kill American service members, the commander of troops in the region says a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program.

"It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me," Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News. McKenzie oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

But as one fake news zombie finally dies others get resurrected. Politico's 'intelligence' stenographer Natasha Bertrand produced this nonsensical claim:

Cont. reading: Fake News About Iran, Russia, China Is U.S. Journalism's Daily Bread

Posted by b at 11:50 UTC | Comments (100)

September 13, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-73

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-73

Posted by b at 12:59 UTC | Comments (272)

Declaring Elections Illegitimate - By Rejecting To Send Observers

International election observer missions are supposed to watch that the individual legal voting rules of a country are followed. They are expected to report any irregularities they detect. Unfortunately there are now attempts to pervert their purpose. The active withholding of observer missions is now used to delegitimize elections even when those are fair and follow all the relevant rules. Recent examples are the presidential election in Belarus and the upcoming congressional election in Venezuela.

Back in June we detected a planned color revolution in Belarus by connecting various media reports that hyped the weak opposition forces.

One additional indication that the election in Belarus would be used for nefarious purposes was the willful absence of OSCE election monitors.

Belarus had, as usual, expected the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to send election observers for the August 9 election. But the OSCE preemptively announced that it would not do so because an invitation was allegedly too late:

“The lack of a timely invitation more than two months after the announcement of the election has prevented ODIHR from observing key aspects of the electoral process,” ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said. “These include areas we have noted in recent observation reports as requiring improvement in Belarus, such as the formation of election commissions and registration of candidates. It is clear from the outcomes of these processes that the authorities have not taken any steps to improve their inclusiveness.”

The government of Belarus was surprised by the one-sided step:

“Indeed, to be honest, ODIHR’s decision was disappointing and unexpected. We really hope that this decision will be revised. After all, today, a day after the registration of presidential candidates, in line with earlier public statements, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent invitations to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. These are our traditional partners in election observation. We remain strongly committed to our promises and obligations, including within the framework of the OSCE,” Anatoly Glaz said.

He emphasized that Belarus has never held elections without observation. “This time we were also determined to invite OSCE/ODIHR observers after the candidate registration. It was announced publicly on numerous occasions, we informed our western partners, senior officials of the Office and personally Ingibjorg Gisladottir about it. We are absolutely transparent in this context and this can be double-checked,” the spokesman said.

The willful absence of OSCE election observers later allowed 'western' media and politicians to claim that the election, which Belarus' President Lukashenko won, had been unfair.

In an August 18 interview Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out that the OSCE argument was wrong:

There are international legal frameworks that must serve as guidance when it comes to determining one’s attitude towards events in a specific country. [...] [T]he Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has an Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). One of its responsibilities is to monitor national elections in the OSCE member states. This responsibility is part of the obligations signed by all members of this highly respected organisation, without exception. We are being told that the violations during the election campaign were obvious and documented by voluntary observers, on social media, on camera, etc. The ODIHR itself, which was supposed to monitor the elections, claims that its representatives did not go to Belarus because the invitation was sent too late. This is not true, to put it mildly, because, like any other OSCE member state, Belarus’s only commitment is “to invite international observers to national elections.”

There is no timeline for inviting OSCE election observers. The OSCE should have prepared for the mission before the official invitation took place.

The scheme to not send election observers when an unwanted candidate is likely to win now sees a repeat with regards to Venezuela.

Cont. reading: Declaring Elections Illegitimate - By Rejecting To Send Observers

Posted by b at 10:48 UTC | Comments (45)

September 11, 2020

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman Infects Readers With 9/11 Dementia

The prize for the worst tweet of the year goes to Paul Krugman.


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In the real world the U.S. reacted to 9/11 by doing extremely bad and ridiculous things as well as this:

In the days, weeks, and months immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Arab-Americans, South Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and Sikh-Americans were the targets of widespread hate violence. Many of the perpetrators of these acts of hate violence claimed they were acting patriotically by retaliating against those responsible for 9/11.
...
Just after September 11, numerous Arabs, Muslims, and individuals perceived to be Arab or Muslim were assaulted, and some killed, by individuals who believed they were responsible for or connected to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The first backlash killing occurred four days after September 11.

Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot to death on September 15 as he was planting flowers outside his Chevron gas station. The man who shot Sodhi, Frank Roque, had told an employee of an Applebee’s restaurant that he was “going to go out and shoot some towel heads.” Roque mistakenly thought Sodhi was Arab because Sodhi, an immigrant from India, had a beard and wore a turban as part of his Sikh faith. After shooting Sodhi, Roque drove to a Mobil gas station a few miles away and shot at a Lebanese-American clerk. He then drove to a home he once owned and shot and almost hit an Afghani man who was coming out the front door. When he was arrested two hours later, Roque shouted, “I stand for America all the way.”

The next two killings were committed by a man named Mark Stroman. On September 15, 2001, Stroman shot and killed Waquar Hassan, an immigrant from Pakistan, at Hassan’s grocery store in Dallas, Texas. On October 4, 2001, Stroman shot and killed Vasudev Patel, an immigrant from India and a naturalized U.S. citizen, while Patel was working at his Shell station convenience store. A store video camera recorded the killing, helping police to identify Stroman as the killer. Stroman later told a Dallas television station that he shot Hassan and Patel because, “We’re at war. I did what I had to do. I did it to retaliate against those who retaliated against us.”

Beyond these killings, there were more than a thousand other anti-Muslim or anti-Arab acts of hate which took the form of physical assaults, verbal harassment and intimidation, arson, attacks on mosques, vandalism, and other property damage.

Instead of "calming prejudice" the GB Bush administration institutionalized hate crimes:

First, in the weeks immediately following the September 11 attacks, the government began secretly arresting and detaining Arab, Muslim, and South Asian men. Within the first two months after the attacks, the government had detained at least 1,200 men.
...
Second, in November 2001, the Department of Justice began efforts to “interview” approximately 5,000 men between the ages of 18 and 33 from Middle Eastern or Muslim nations who had arrived in the United States within the previous two years on a temporary student, tourist, or business visa and were lawful residents of the United States. Four months later, the government announced it would seek to interview an additional 3,000 men from countries with an Al Qaeda presence.
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Third, in September 2002, the government implemented a “Special Registration” program also known as NSEERS (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System), requiring immigrant men from 26 mostly Muslim countries to register their name, address, telephone number, place of birth, date of arrival in the United States, height, weight, hair and eye color, financial information and the addresses, birth dates and phone numbers of parents and any foreign friends with the government.

Besides all that a rather useless security theater was installed at U.S. airports which has costs many billions in lost time and productivity ever since. The Patriot Act was introduced which allowed for unlimited spying on private citizens. Wars were launched that were claimed to be justified by 9/11. These were "mass outbreaks of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence. Many were killed and maimed in them. People were tortured and vanished. All of this happened largely to applause of a majority of the U.S. people which were glued to 24 and dreamed of  being "terrorist hunters".

Anyone with a functional memory knows that the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was anything but "pretty calm". It is ridiculous that Krugman is claiming that.

Posted by b at 15:46 UTC | Comments (181)

September 10, 2020

Open Thread 2020-72

News & views ...

Posted by b at 13:09 UTC | Comments (214)

September 09, 2020

Afghan Peace Talk Spoiler Bomb Fails To Kill Its Target

On September 9 2001 two suicide bombers killed Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Resistance in Afghanistan. Massoud's intelligence chief at that time was the CIA trained Amrullah Saleh.

After the NATO invasion of Afghanistan Saleh became the head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security which was and is seen as CIA controlled. After leading the NDS for several years Saleh went into politics and founded his own party. During the last election cycle, which ended inconclusively, Saleh supported the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. When negotiation and strong U.S. pressure gave Ghani the presidency Saleh became his first vice president.

Today, on the anniversary of Ahmad Shah Massoud death, someone may have tried to kill him:

At least 10 people have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in the Afghan capital Kabul that targeted First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh.

Mr Saleh, a former head of the Afghan intelligence services, escaped with slight burns on his face and hand.

The bombing came as Afghan officials and the Taliban prepared to begin their first formal talks.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that the militant group was not responsible for the blast.
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Tareq Arain, a spokesman for Afghanistan's interior ministry, said the roadside bomb targeted Mr Saleh's convoy as the official travelled to work. Mr Arain said 10 civilians who worked in the area were killed and 15 people, including one of Mr Saleh's bodyguards, were wounded.

The roadside bomb that targeted Saleh was not strong enough to destroy thee armored car Saleh was traveling in.

While many will accuse the Taliban of having planted the bomb I have my doubts. The Taliban want the U.S. to leave Afghanistan. To attack the Vice President just as the peace talks between Taliban and the government are set to begin could prolong the stay of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The bomb attack may thus have been a false flag attack.

As the AFP correctly notes:

Known for his combativeness -- and paranoia -- Saleh has rarely wavered in his outspoken hatred of the Taliban and their alleged backers in Pakistan.

The paranoid and experienced former intelligence official takes the same road to work every day?

Cont. reading: Afghan Peace Talk Spoiler Bomb Fails To Kill Its Target

Posted by b at 17:58 UTC | Comments (78)

September 08, 2020

Why A Biden Presidency Will Disappoint Progressive Democrats

A Biden presidency will be another disappointment for the progressives who support the Democrats campaign.

The Washington Post is lauding Joe Biden's 'flexibility' on policy issues:

When Joe Biden released economic recommendations two months ago, they included a few ideas that worried some powerful bankers: allowing banking at the post office, for example, and having the Federal Reserve guarantee all Americans a bank account.

But in private calls with Wall Street leaders, the Biden campaign made it clear those proposals would not be central to Biden’s agenda.

“They basically said, ‘Listen, this is just an exercise to keep the Warren people happy, and don’t read too much into it,’ ” said one investment banker, referring to liberal supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The banker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks, said that message was conveyed on multiple calls.

By making promises to the more progressive parts of the Democrats while secretly pledging different policies to the rich Joe Biden is following the 'flexibility' of Barack Obama. During his first presidential campaign Obama promised several times that he would renegotiate NAFTA, the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. But behind the back of his supporters he secretly send envoys to Canada to let the government there know that he did not intend to implement that promise:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ordered an investigation into how reporters obtained a memo detailing a discussion between Canadian diplomats and a member of Obama’s team. The memo said the Obama adviser indicated that the candidate’s criticism of NAFTA was primarily political.

Obama’s team denied he was being insincere, but rival Hillary Clinton said the memo showed her opponent could not be trusted. Both candidates blame the free trade agreement for U.S. job losses and vow to change or even abandon the deal, an act that could hurt Canada’s economy and damage ties between the world’s two largest trading partners.

Biden is showing such 'flexibility' on multiple issues:

Cont. reading: Why A Biden Presidency Will Disappoint Progressive Democrats

Posted by b at 17:35 UTC | Comments (209)

September 07, 2020

U.S. War On Journalism - Assange Fights Extradition In British Court

Today the London show trial over the extradition of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange to the U.S. has begun. U.S. prosecutors claim that Assange's publishing of evidence of U.S. war crimes has violated the U.S. Espionage Act.

Why an Australian publisher who worked from Europe and evidently published truthful evidence of war crimes should by guilty under a political U.S. law is beyond me.

The trial in front of the British court is nominally public. But access to it has been severely restricted:

The public gallery of 80 has been reduced to 9 “due to Covid”. 5 seats are reserved for Julian’s family and friends, and I have one of these today, but not guaranteed beyond that. There are just 4 seats for the general public.

Journalists and NGO’s will be following the hearing online – but only “approved” journalists and NGO’s, selected by the Orwelian Ministry of Justice. I had dinner last night with Assange supporters from a number of registered NGO’s, not one of which had been “approved”. I had applied myself as a representative of Hope Over Fear, and was turned down. It is the same story for those who applied for online access as journalists. Only the officially “approved” will be allowed to watch.

This is supposed to be a public hearing, to which in normal times anybody should be able to walk in off the street into the large public gallery, and anyone with a press card into the press gallery. What is the justification for the political selection of those permitted to watch? An extraordinary online system has been set up, with the state favoured observers given online “rooms” in which only the identified individual will be allowed. Even with approved organisations, it is not the case that an organisation will have a login anyone can use, not even one at a time. Only specifically nominated individuals have to login before proceedings start, and if their connection breaks at any point they will not be readmitted that day.

Some 40 NGOs, including Amnesty International, had been told that they would have remote access to the trial but today the judge revoked that access without giving any reason.

With only a few selected and system conforming reporters allowed to watch the proceedings the public will get a very biased picture of the case and the trial:

Cont. reading: U.S. War On Journalism - Assange Fights Extradition In British Court

Posted by b at 15:01 UTC | Comments (143)

September 06, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-71

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> Facebook has conducted takedowns against communications firms in Israel, Canada, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates — and now, the United States — for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior. <

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-71

Posted by b at 12:37 UTC | Comments (198)

September 05, 2020

How Attacks On Trump Help Him To Make His Case

In 2016 the Democrats lost the election despite their constant attacks on Donald Trump's personality. Over the last four years they continued those attacks with Russiagate and impeachment nonsense. Trump turned each of the attacks into a win for himself. Unfortunately that pattern continues.

Over the last two days the Joe Biden campaign made a rather hapless attempt to smear President Donald Trump over allegedly negative comments about previous wars and dead soldiers. The attack was launched with a Jeffrey Goldberg piece in the Atlantic headlined: Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’

When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

None of what those four anonymous sources claimed is true according to on the record quotes from people who were there:

Several White House officials at the time said the decision not to take Marine One to the Belleau Wood cemetery was made by Zachary Fuentes, a close aide to Mr. Kelly, without consulting the president’s military aide. Others argued that a trip by road would have taken too long, at roughly two hours.

Administration officials said then that Mr. Fuentes had assured Mr. Trump it was fine to miss the visit.
...
More than a half-dozen current and former aides to Mr. Trump backed him up with Twitter messages and statements disputing that part of the Atlantic article. “I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion — this never happened,” wrote Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was then the White House press secretary. “This is not even close to being factually accurate,” added Jordan Karem, the president’s personal aide at the time.

John Bolton, who at that time was National Security Advisor but has now fallen out with Trump, describes the cancellation in his tell-all book as solely weather related.

Yesterday he reconfirmed that:

Mr. Bolton said he was in the room at the ambassador’s residence when Mr. Trump arrived and Mr. Kelly told him that the helicopter trip had to be canceled. A two-hour motorcade would have put him too far away from Air Force One and the most capable communications array a president needs in case of an emergency, per usual protocol, Mr. Bolton said. “It was a straight weather call,” he said.

The next day Trump visited a different military cemetery in France.

The quotes in the Goldberg piece may be correct but are most likely not what Goldberg claims them to be:

Cont. reading: How Attacks On Trump Help Him To Make His Case

Posted by b at 17:47 UTC | Comments (261)