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July 11, 2019

Iran Keeps Calm While U.S. And Britain Continue Their Provocations

Great Britain has joined the U.S. pressure and provocation campaign against Iran. It is creating incidents to put Iran into a defensive position and to provoke into a violent reaction.

Early today 'two U.S. officials' spread a scare story about Iran which lead to this CNN headline: Iranian boats attempted to seize a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz

Armed Iranian boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, according to two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident.

The British Heritage tanker was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by boats from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, according to the officials.

The same 'two U.S. officials' briefed ABCNews:

A British warship prevented an apparent attempt by five Iranian small boats to direct a British oil tanker towards Iranian waters on Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials.

Remarkably the official British report came later than the U.S. officials briefing. It showed significant differences:

The UK defence ministry said that "three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz."

"HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away," the ministry statement said.
...
"There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones," the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement.

The U.S. officials claimed 5, not 3 boats. They claimed the boats tried to seize the ship, while the Brits just say they probably were getting in the way of the ship. The U.S. officials 'direct knowledge of the incident' seems to be lacking. Iran says that nothing happened at all.

There are reasons to believe that the Iranian statement is the most truthful one.

Cont. reading: Iran Keeps Calm While U.S. And Britain Continue Their Provocations

Posted by b at 17:39 UTC | Comments (137)

July 10, 2019

Room To Discuss The Epstein Case

It seems necessary to give some room to the discussion of the Epstein case. Vicky Ward, who wrote a 2002 portrait of Epstein for Vanity Fair, has a short recap of the case at the Daily Beast: Jeffrey Epstein’s Sick Story Played Out for Years in Plain Sight.

This bit from it is quite interesting:

Epstein’s name, I was told, had been raised by the Trump transition team when Alexander Acosta, the former U.S. attorney in Miami who’d infamously cut Epstein a non-prosecution plea deal back in 2007, was being interviewed for the job of labor secretary. The plea deal put a hard stop to a separate federal investigation of alleged sex crimes with minors and trafficking.

“Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)

'Belongs to intelligence' makes a lot of sense. The question is to which one. A lot of people will says "Mossad" but I don't believe that to be the (full) truth. 

Posted by b at 18:10 UTC | Comments (319)

July 09, 2019

Isikoff, Who First Peddled The Fake Steele Dossier, Invents New 'Russian Influence' Story

Michael Isikoff was the first reporter who peddled the fake Steele dossier about alleged Russian influence over Donald Trump. He later admitted that the claims therein were 'likely false'. Today Isikoff came up with a new fake story about 'Russian influence'.

Isikoff claims that the conspiracy theory, that Seth Rich, a DNC staffer, was killed because he stole the DNC emails which Wikileaks later published, was planted by Russia's foreign intelligence service.

Exclusive: The true origins of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.

WASHINGTON — In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.

Isikoff points to the whacky website WhatDoesItMean.com. On July 13 2016 it published this:

A somber Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today says that a top American Democratic Party staffer preparing to testify against Hillary Clinton was assassinated this past Sunday during a secret meeting in Washington D.C. he believed he was having with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, but who turned out, instead, to be a “hit team”—and who, in turn, were captured yesterday after a running gun battle with US federal police forces just blocks from the White House.

According to this report, SVR “electronic specialists” performing counter intelligence “missions/operations” noted on 7 July an “enormous/gigantic” increase of computer and telephonic traffic between the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in Washington D.C. and the Clinton Foundation (CF) offices in New York City.

That report, says Isikoff, was planted by the SVR and was the first to make the connection between the murder of Seth Rich and his work at the Democrat National Councils (DNC).

Isikoff also quotes Deborah Sines, "the former assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the Rich case until her retirement last year":

Cont. reading: Isikoff, Who First Peddled The Fake Steele Dossier, Invents New 'Russian Influence' Story

Posted by b at 18:12 UTC | Comments (208)

July 08, 2019

"Pretty Please" - Trump Asked Iran To Allow Him To Bomb It

On June 20 Iran shot down a U.S. spy drone. U.S. President Trump decided not to retaliate. The White House and the media claimed that Trump had ordered a strike on Iran but pulled it back at the last minute. We said that this was likely bullshit:

The whole storyline of "a strike was ordered but Trump held back and saved the day" might well be fake.
...
A strike in retaliation for the downed drone may have never been on the table. An alternative interpretation is that the U.S. sought agreement for a symbolic 'strike' from Iran. It would hit some empty desert place to allow Trump to save face. Iran would have disagreed with that plan.

The British ambassador to the U.S., who's briefings to London leaked yesterday, agrees with that take:

[Sir Kim Darroch] questioned Trump's recent claim that he aborted a missile strike on Iran because it would have caused a predicted 150 casualties, saying it 'doesn't stand up'.

'It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020' – at the next Presidential election.

Elijah Magnier reported that Trump had asked Iran to allow him to strike back, but was rebuffed:

According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.

An Iranian general yesterday confirmed Magnier's take (also here):

A senior Iranian general has revealed that Washington, through diplomatic channels, recently asked Tehran to allow it to conduct a small-scale operation in the Iranian airspace in order to save its face following the IRGC’s shoot-down of a US spy drone.

Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, the Head of Iran’s Civil Defence Organization, said Iran vehemently rejected the US request, saying that it will respond to any act of aggression.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran responded that it views any operation as a war and will give a crushing response to it. You may initiate a war but this is Iran which will finish it,” he said Sunday.

The idea that the U.S. would ask Iran to allow it to bomb some targets without hitting back sounds crazy.

Dear Mr. Rouhani,

could you please name me three targets in your country that I am allowed to bomb?

It is urgent as I need to look tough on Iran.

Pretty please!

Donald Trump

But this is the Trump White House and the only thing Trump really seems to care for is his own rating.

Cont. reading: "Pretty Please" - Trump Asked Iran To Allow Him To Bomb It

Posted by b at 14:59 UTC | Comments (173)

July 07, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-38

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Iran now increases the enrichment level from 3.67%, the limit set in the nuclear deal, to 5%. A technically that is reversible. The enriched Uranium can be blended down again.

Javad Zarif @JZarif - 9:55 UTC - 7 Jul 2019

Today, Iran is taking its second round of remedial steps under Para 36 of the JCPOA. We reserve the right to continue to exercise legal remedies within JCPOA to protect our interests in the face of US #EconomicTerrorism. All such steps are reversible only through E3 compliance.

Having failed to implement their obligations under JCPOA—incl after US withdrawal—EU/E3 should at minimum politically support Iran’s remedial measures under Para 36, incl at IAEA. E3 have no pretexts to avoid a firm political stance to preserve JCPOA & counter U.S unilateralism.

Related: What will it be, Boeing? Great airplanes that generate cash flow or great cash flow, period? - Seattle Times

According to Boeing’s annual reports, in the last five years Boeing diverted 92% of operating cash flow to dividends and share buybacks to benefit investors. Since 1998, share buybacks have consumed $70 billion, adjusted for inflation. That could have financed several entire new airplane models, with money left over for handsome executive bonuses.

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-38

Posted by b at 13:18 UTC | Comments (184)

July 06, 2019

EASA Tells Boeing To Fix 5 Major 737 MAX Issues

Boeing hopes to have the 737 MAX back in the air by December. But a list of five major requirements issued by the European aviation regulator EASA lets one doubt that the time frame can be kept.

EASA’s checklist includes a number of issues that have been disclosed: the potential difficulty pilots have in turning the jet’s manual trim wheel, the unreliability of the Max’s angle of attack sensors, inadequate training procedures, and a software issue flagged just last week by the FAA pertaining to a lagging microprocessor. But the agency also listed a previously unreported concern: the autopilot failing to disengage in certain emergencies.

We will discuss the five issues below.

It is not clear if EASA will insist on all the points to be fixed:

“Any of these could significantly affect the return to service, but we don’t know if they are actually going to become requirements or are they just items for discussion," said John Cox, a former 737 pilot who is president of the aviation consulting company Safety Operating Systems.

As usual the regulators will not tell Boeing how to fix the problems. Whatever solution Boeing offers for those items simply has to comply with the general demands the regulations make.

Some of the listed items seem to require hardware changes that will have to be applied to all 737 MAX and maybe even to the older 737 NGs.


Manual trim

We discussed the trim wheel issue back in May:

The 737 MAX incident also revealed a problem with older generations of the 737 type of plane that is only now coming into light. Simulator experiments (video) showed that the recovery procedure Boeing provided for the case of a severe mistrim of the plane is not sufficient to bring the plane back under control. The root cause of that inconvenient fact does not lie with the 737 MAX but with its predecessor, the Boeing 737 Next Generation or NG.
...
  • The smaller manual trim wheels on the 737 NG make it more difficult to trim a runaway stabilizer back into a regular position.
  • The larger stabilizer surface makes it more difficult to counter a runaway stabilizer by using the elevator which was kept at the same size.
  • 737 NG pilots no longer learn the rollercoaster maneuver that is now the only way to recover from a severe mistrim.

EASA listing the trim wheel issue is the first official recognition of this problem.

The manual trim via the trim wheels is a necessary backup for the electrical trim system which relies on only one motor. If the manual trim can not be used in certain parts of the allowed flight envelope, Boeing has a severe issue at hand.

A 2015 EASA safety finding, previously discussed here, accepted the 737 MAX only because Boeing said that the manual trim wheel was operational even at higher speeds and when the electric trim cuts out. It also promised that its training material would cover the issue.

It is now known that the manual trim, especially at higher speeds, may require more force than an average pilot can apply. The general issue and the difficulty is still not mentioned in the current Boeing training material.

The trim wheel problem seems to be an item where the U.S. regulator FAA and the European EASA disagree:

Cont. reading: EASA Tells Boeing To Fix 5 Major 737 MAX Issues

Posted by b at 18:18 UTC | Comments (38)

Fakenews Spotting: Quake Causes Damage! ... Did It?

From the Washington Post homepage a few minutes ago:


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This scheme isn't uncommon. Sensational headline claims X, text says the opposite is a well established practice in main stream journalism.

Its rare that it is so obvious. But cursory readers will still fall for it.

 

Posted by b at 7:26 UTC | Comments (84)

July 05, 2019

Mueller Report Claims Much Proves Little - Aaron Maté

An excerpt from a long piece by Aaron Maté who points at the huge holes in the Mueller Report about alleged Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.

CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims

At a May press conference capping his tenure as special counsel, Robert Mueller emphasized what he called "the central allegation" of the two-year Russia probe. The Russian government, Mueller sternly declared, engaged in "multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American." Mueller's comments echoed a January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) asserting with "high confidence" that Russia conducted a sweeping 2016 election influence campaign. "I don't think we've ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere in our election process," then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate hearing.

While the 448-page Mueller report found no conspiracy between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia, it offered voluminous details to support the sweeping conclusion that the Kremlin worked to secure Trump's victory. The report claims that the interference operation occurred "principally" on two fronts: Russian military intelligence officers hacked and leaked embarrassing Democratic Party documents, and a government-linked troll farm orchestrated a sophisticated and far-reaching social media campaign that denigrated Hillary Clinton and promoted Trump.

But a close examination of the report shows that none of those headline assertions are supported by the report’s evidence or other publicly available sources. They are further undercut by investigative shortcomings and the conflicts of interest of key players involved: 

  • The report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.
  • The report's timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.
  • There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.
  • Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange – a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack – suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions.
  • U.S. intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.
  • Further, the government allowed CrowdStrike and the Democratic Party's legal counsel to submit redacted records, meaning CrowdStrike and not the government decided what could be revealed or not regarding evidence of hacking.
  • Mueller’s report conspicuously does not allege that the Russian government carried out the social media campaign. Instead it blames, as Mueller said in his closing remarks, "a private Russian entity" known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
  • Mueller also falls far short of proving that the Russian social campaign was sophisticated, or even more than minimally related to the 2016 election. As with the collusion and Russian hacking allegations, Democratic officials had a central and overlooked hand in generating the alarm about Russian social media activity.
  • John Brennan, then director of the CIA, played a seminal and overlooked role in all facets of what became Mueller’s investigation: the suspicions that triggered the initial collusion probe; the allegations of Russian interference; and the intelligence assessment that purported to validate the interference allegations that Brennan himself helped generate. Yet Brennan has since revealed himself to be, like CrowdStrike and Steele, hardly a neutral party -- in fact a partisan with a deep animus toward Trump.

None of this means that the Mueller report's core finding of "sweeping and systematic" Russian government election interference is necessarily false. But his report does not present sufficient evidence to substantiate it. This shortcoming has gone overlooked in the partisan battle over two more highly charged aspects of Mueller's report: potential Trump-Russia collusion and Trump's potential obstruction of the resulting investigation. As Mueller prepares to testify before House committees later this month, the questions surrounding his claims of a far-reaching Russian influence campaign are no less important. They raise doubts about the genesis and perpetuation of Russiagate and the performance of those tasked with investigating it.
...

---
The full Maté piece, which in details lays out each of the above points, is available at Real Clear Investigations.

Posted by b at 16:29 UTC | Comments (135)

July 04, 2019

Open Thread 2019-37

News & views ...

Posted by b at 15:41 UTC | Comments (298)

July 03, 2019

On Eve Of 4th Of July Parade U.S. Attempts To Lure Iran Into Shooting Down Another U.S. Plane

Today a manned U.S. reconnaissance plane entered Iranian airspace in a clear attempt to provoke Iran into shooting it down. Such an incident would have created an occasion for Trump to give the American people a special 4th of July fireworks.

On July 3 1988 the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down the civil Iranian Flight 655 with 290 people on board. The U.S. claimed that the plane's transponder was signaling an Iranian military identification code, that it was seemingly attacking the Vincennes, that the ship warned the plane 12 times, and that the ship was in international waters when the incident happened.

The crew of the Vincennes received medals for killing the Iranian civilians.

Investigations showed (pdf) that all the above claims were false. The shoot down was intentional. Iran sued the US in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over it. The case was settled in 1996 when the U.S. agreed to apologize and to pay $61.8 million to the families of the victims.

On June 20 a large U.S. reconnaissance drone, accompanied by a manned U.S. military airplane, flew into Iranian air space east of the Strait of Hormuz. Iran shot the drone down. The U.S. threatened to strike Iran over the incident but Trump did not follow through.

There were reports that some people in the White House doubted that the U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military command for the Middle East, told it the full truth about the incident. Two days before the drone incident happened Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former CIA director, had unusual talks with the U.S. Central Command. This led to speculations that the incident was designed to provoke Iran into a shoot down and to push Trump into a war on Iran.

The case today is not in doubt. The U.S. military definitely tried to provoke Iran into shooting down another one of its planes.


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Manu Gómez @GDarkconrad - 9:17 UTC - 3 Jul 2019

USAF Rivet Joint tracking over The #PersianGulf, spoof Hex Cod 730000 C/S IRI00061

The US Airforce RC-135V Rivet Joint are signal intelligence planes that snoop on other countries.


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The plane flew over the islands Abu Musa and Sirri in the Persian Gulf which are Iranian territory and Iranian airspace. It falsely signaled that it was an Iranian plane.

Cont. reading: On Eve Of 4th Of July Parade U.S. Attempts To Lure Iran Into Shooting Down Another U.S. Plane

Posted by b at 20:21 UTC | Comments (152)

Do People Comment Too Much?

Posted by b at 14:28 UTC | Comments (99)

July 02, 2019

No, Iran Is Not Rushing To Build A Nuclear Weapon

John Mearsheimer is a political science scholar who adheres to the realist school of thought. He developed a theory of offensive realism that at times produces valid predictions of the behavior of some states. But his theory does not account for cultural factors and its predictions fail when these predominate in a state's decisions.

His ridiculous op-ed in today's New York Times is proof for that.

Mearsheimer may not be responsible for that fakenews headline. The NYT is generally anti-Iran and some of its editors are the worst warmongers.  But even as the claims made in the headline are false, they are not far from what Mearsheimer writes.

For the record: No, Iran is not rushing to build a nuclear weapon. And if it would do such Trump could stop it.

Mearsheimer starts:

President Trump says he wants to make sure Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. His policy, however, is having the opposite effect: It is giving Tehran a powerful incentive to go nuclear, while at the same time making it increasingly difficult for the United States to prevent that. On Monday the official Iranian news agency announced that the country had breached the limits for enriched uranium imposed on it by the 2015 international agreements.

Indeed, American policy toward Iran over the past year makes it clear that Iranian leaders were foolish not to develop a nuclear deterrent in the early 2000s.
...
The Iranians had good reason to acquire nuclear weapons long before the present crisis, and there is substantial evidence they were doing just that in the early 2000s. The case for going nuclear is much more compelling today. After all, Iran now faces an existential threat from the United States, and a nuclear arsenal will go a long way toward eliminating it.

The current "existential threat" against Iran, says Mearsheimer, is the economic war and blockade the U.S. wages against it.

But where is the evidence that nuclear weapons would prevent the economic war and blockade? North Korea, which has nuclear weapons and even the ability to strike the United States with them, is under similar measures. In sight of that how does this make the case to go nuclear more compelling for Iran?

Cont. reading: No, Iran Is Not Rushing To Build A Nuclear Weapon

Posted by b at 17:15 UTC | Comments (217)

July 01, 2019

Timezone Change On Moon of Alabama

This blog so far ran on New York time and displayed the time in a U.S. (AM/PM) format.

It made it increasingly difficult to keep in sync with various time displays in other media quoted here. These often have ambiguities. (For example: Twitter read through Tweetdeck shows the time in the timezone of the local device it is running on while its website Twitter.com uses the timezone the logged-in user chose in the account settings. Other media have similar problems.)

The switch to summertime and back - on different dates in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere -  is also confusing. The blog has a quite large international readership and some fixed time everyone can relate to is needed.

Your host therefore decided to change the time setting.

From now on Moon of Alabama time will be Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The display time format will change to a 24 hour format (23:45 = 11:45PM). Also "UTC" will be added to all time displays to make that evident.

New and older posts and comments will now be shown in the new format.

Older posts that were updated often include a line that says "Updated at 9:00PM" or similar. Those posts will NOT be revisited and changed even though their original publishing time below the post will now be displayed in UTC.

Please let me know your thoughts about this change.

Posted by b at 20:46 UTC | Comments (64)

No, Iran Does Not Break The Nuclear Deal (Updated)

Updated below
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Here is some fakenews from the Guardian which falsely claims that Iran breaks the nuclear deal.

Iran today announced that its stockpile of low enriched uranium now exceeds the 300 kilogram of enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6) level set out as a limit in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (pdf).

But Iran does that within the frame of the JCPOA. It is not breaching it. Article 26 of the joint plan states that the U.S. will refrain from reimposing sanctions and that Iran will react in case that happens:

The United States will make best efforts in good faith to sustain this JCPOA and to prevent interference with the realisation of the full benefit by Iran of the sanctions lifting specified in Annex II. The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing the sanctions specified in Annex II that it has ceased applying under this JCPOA, without prejudice to the dispute resolution process provided for under this JCPOA. The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions. Iran has stated that it will treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.

On May 8 2018 the United States broke the JCPOA when it reimposed sanctions on Iran. Iran can not "break" a deal that the U.S. already broke.

Additionally on May 3 2019 the State Department removed sanction waivers that allowed Iran to export low enriched uranium in exchange for natural uranium:

In addition, any involvement in transferring enriched uranium out of Iran in exchange for natural uranium will now be exposed to sanctions. The United States has been clear that Iran must stop all proliferation-sensitive activities, including uranium enrichment, and we will not accept actions that support the continuation of such enrichment.

We will also no longer permit the storage for Iran of heavy water it has produced in excess of current limits; any such heavy water must not be made available to Iran in any fashion.

This step by the Trump administration was obviously designed to bring Iran into a situation where it would have to either stop enrichment, or accumulate a stockpile larger than the 300 kilogram foreseen in the JCPOA.

Iran can no longer export low enriched Uranium. Iran does not want to give up its "inalienable right" to enrich uranium guaranteed under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Iran thus began to accumulate enriched uranium under the above clause of the JCPOA.

On June 17 Iran announced that it would exceed the stockpile limit by June 27. It took a few days longer but it now happened.

The JCPOA clearly states that Iran would take this step if and when the U.S. breaches the agreement by imposing new sanctions. That Iran is now exceeding one of the limits JCPOA sets out is not in breach of the agreement but in adherence to its letters.

A 'diplomatic editor' who does not understand that should seek a different profession.

Update 3:00PM EDT

Cont. reading: No, Iran Does Not Break The Nuclear Deal (Updated)

Posted by b at 16:03 UTC | Comments (159)

June 30, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-36

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

So far Trump had no luck with finding coalition partners. The attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman were understood as a warning. The United Arab Emirates appeared to drop out of the coalition when it did not blame Iran for the attack and reportedly also pulls out of the war on Yemen. (The UAE is busy fighting a proxy war against Turkey in Libya.) Left in the coalition are the Israelis, the Saudis and the neoconservatives in the U.S. who press for war. But the Israelis do not want to fight themselves against Iran and the Saudis are useless in a war. Russia meanwhile declared that Iran is "an ally and partner". It will make sure that Iran has the means to defend itself.

Trump preempted that majority for now with today's short meeting with Kim Jong Un. Official negotiations between the two countries will restart soon.
Trump Meets Kim, Averting Threat of Nuclear War—and US Pundits Are Furious - Tim Shorrock - The Nation
The media response, from both liberals and conservatives, betrays a cynical disregard for South Korea.

Slightly related:
Fact checking the meat consumption of Iranians - Djavad Salehi-Isfahani

See also:
New pitch trim issue forces further changes to 737 MAX software - Björn Fehr - Leeham News

This is not that cause of the MCAS failure but it shows what is wrong with Boeing:
Boeing's 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers - Bloomberg
The programmers in India are well capable of writing good software. The difficulty lies in communicating the design requirements for the software. If they do not know in detail how air planes are engineered, they will implement the design to the letter but not to its intent. Here is how that works:

Mom to nerdy kid: "Honey, please go to the market and buy one bottle of milk. If they have eggs, bring six."
Nerdy kid comes back with six bottles of milk.
Mom: "Why did you bring six bottles of milk?"
Nerdy kid: "Because they had eggs."

More bad news for Boeing:
Pilots Flagged Software Problems on Boeing Jets Besides the Max - Bloomberg
Those were problems with the Boeing 737 NG which has the same flight control computers as the 737 MAX. There is also the still unexplained 2016 accident of Flydubai Flight 981. The 737 NG plane nosedived (vid) into the ground with 62 people on board. It was an unexplained runaway stabilizer incident eventually blamed on the pilots.

Boeing falsified records for 787 jet sold to Air Canada. It developed a fuel leak - CNC
The records stated that manufacturing work had been completed when it had not.
Concerns raised over incorrect airspeed data readings on Boeing 787 Dreamliners - News.au
DOJ probe expands beyond Boeing 737 MAX, includes 787 Dreamliner - Seattle Times

The Rothschild organ seems to agree with Putin.
Globalisation is dead and we need to invent a new world order - The Economist

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-36

Posted by b at 15:15 UTC | Comments (183)

June 28, 2019

How Russia's President Putin Explains The End Of The 'Liberal' Order

Today the Financial Times published a long and wide ranging interview with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

A full transcript is currently available through this link.

The talk is making some waves:

From the last link:

Putin said in an interview with the Financial Times Friday that the "liberal idea has become obsolete," and referred to Germany's decision to welcome more than one million refugees — many fleeing savage urban warfare in Syria — as a "cardinal mistake."

It is only the last part of the very long interview, where Putin indeed speaks of the 'obsolesce' of the 'liberal idea', that seems to be of interest to the media. Most of the interview is in fact about other issues. The media also do not capture how his 'obsolete' argument is ingrained in the worldview Putin developed, and how it reflects in many of his answers.

Here are excerpts that show that the gist of Putin's 'obsolete' argument is not against the 'liberal idea', but against what may be best called 'international (neo-)liberalism'.


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Putin explains why U.S. President Donald Trump was elected:

Has anyone ever given a thought to who actually benefited and what benefits were gained from globalisation, the development of which we have been observing and participating in over the past 25 years, since the 1990s?

China has made use of globalisation, in particular, to pull millions of Chinese out of poverty.

What happened in the US, and how did it happen? In the US, the leading US companies — the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners — made use of these benefits. [..] The middle class in the US has not benefited from globalisation; it was left out when this pie was divided up.

The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump’s victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference.

On Syria:

Cont. reading: How Russia's President Putin Explains The End Of The 'Liberal' Order

Posted by b at 17:50 UTC | Comments (284)

June 27, 2019

Boeing's Software Fix For The 737 MAX Problem Overwhelms The Plane's Computer

The Boeing 737 MAX continues to be a troublesome airplane.

Two crashes of the plane type, which cost the lives of 346 people, revealed a significant problem not only with the messed up Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

It then turned out that the manual trim wheels which Boeing advised to use to counter MCAS are impossible to move when needed. Moon of Alabama detailed the problem back in May and last week the Wall Street Journal confirmed the issue. This also affects the older Boeing 737 NG.

While that problem has still not been solved a new one came up.

Boeing promised to release a software fix for the MCAS by April 2019. But that turned out to be more difficult than thought. Three month later there is still no final fix available. Meanwhile a new problem that will cause further delays was revealed only yesterday:

In a flight simulator last week, F.A.A. pilots tested erroneous activations of anti-stall software that pushes down the nose of the Max, two people with knowledge of the matter said. The software, known as MCAS, was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people.

In at least one instance, an F.A.A. pilot was unable to quickly and easily follow Boeing’s emergency procedures to regain control of the plane. The pilot rated that failure as catastrophic, meaning it could lead to the loss of an aircraft midflight, the people said.
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The issue discovered last week is linked to the data-processing speed of a specific flight control computer chip, according to the two people with knowledge of the matter. In the test, the F.A.A. pilot encountered delays in executing a crucial step required to stabilize an aircraft.

It seems that the additional signal processing and calculations needed for the MCAS fix overload the Flight Control Computer's (FCC) processor and delay its reaction.

Boeing has been developing a software update for the Max for eight months, [a Boeing spokesman] said. It is unclear whether the new flaw can be resolved by reprogramming the software or requires a hardware fix, which would be costlier and could take much longer.

The 737 MAX has, like the previous 737 NG and Classic versions, two FCC's which each have two Central Processing Units (CPUs).

737 Flight Control System

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As the former Boeing flight control engineer Peter Lemme wrote last year in a technical note of the issue:

Each FCC is comprised of two processors, each of which perform independently.

Each FCC has two 16-bit CPUs. The two processors have different part numbers to make sure that a design problem is not in both processors. The CPUs calculate different commands. ...

In another note Lemme wrote:

The 737 FCC installation is a "dual-dual" configuration. Within each of the two autopilot computers there are two different processors, that each themselves are programmed by different people. The greatest threat is a common-mode software failure. Having two different groups program from a common set of requirements is a means to diminish a common mode failure.
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The 737 dual-dual architecture is very unique. The decision to make speed trim single channel, single processor goes back to the 737 classic. The MCAS function is just another FCC software module that behaves, at a high level, like speed trim, whose architecture would have then been replicated.

The 737 uses only one FCC at a time and the Speed Trim System (STS), of which MCAS is a part, runs only on one of that Flight Computer's two internal processors.

Cont. reading: Boeing's Software Fix For The 737 MAX Problem Overwhelms The Plane's Computer

Posted by b at 18:41 UTC | Comments (132)

Media And Public Disagree On Tulsi Gabbard's Debate Performance

The mainstream media seem to judge the Democratic primary debate last night quite differently than the general public.

Quartz cites multiple polls which show that Tulsi Gabbard won the debate:

[T]wo candidates seemed to pique a lot of interest among US voters, at least when judged by who Americans searched for on Google: New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

A poll by the right-leaning Drudge Report also found Gabbard to be the breakout of the debate with 38% of the vote, well ahead of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren in second place. Gabbard also topped polls by local news sites including NJ.com and the Washington Examiner.

Now contrast that with the mainstream media.

The Washington Post discusses winners and losers of the debate and puts Gabbard in the second category:

Gabbard was lost for much of the debate. That may not have been her fault — she wasn’t asked many questions — ....

Duh!

The New York Times main piece about the debate mentions Gabbard only once - in paragraph 32 of the 45 paragraphs long piece. It does not reveal anything about her actual political position:

There was little discussion of foreign policy until near the end of the debate when two little-known House lawmakers, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Ryan of Ohio, clashed over how aggressively to target the Taliban.

The New York Times also has some 'experts' discussing winners and losers. Gabbard is only mentioned at the very end, and by a Republican pollster, as a potential candidate for Secretary of Defense.

CNN also discusses winners and losers. Gabbard is not mentioned at all.

NBC News ranks the candidates' performance. It puts Gabbard on place 8 and inserts a snide:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii: Seized an opportunity to highlight her military experience in Afghanistan and her signature anti-intervention foreign policy views, without being tainted by her past sympathetic comments on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Most of the above media have long avoided to mention Gabbard and to discuss her political positions. It is quite evident that the mainstream media do not like her anti-regime-change views and are afraid of even writing about them.

Tulsi Gabbard's campaign posted a video of her parts of the debate. She received some good applause.

Posted by b at 15:19 UTC | Comments (240)

June 26, 2019

Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' Happens

Yesterday the news agencies Associated Press and Reuters mistranslated a speech by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. They made it sound as if Rouhani insulted U.S. President Donald Trump as 'mentally retarded'. Rouhani never said that.

The agencies previously made a similar 'mistake'.

A 2005 speech by then President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was famously misquoted. Israel should be wiped off map, says Iran's president headlined the Guardian at that time. Others used similar headlines. The New York Times wrote:

Iran's conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be "wiped off the map" and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.
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Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad said, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

The statement was used by the G.W. Bush administration and others to whip up hostility against Iran:

Ever since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map." Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of militant Muslim groups are rarely mentioned without reference to the infamous map remark.

Here, for example, is R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, recently: "Given the radical nature of Iran under Ahmadinejad and its stated wish to wipe Israel off the map of the world, it is entirely unconvincing that we could or should live with a nuclear Iran."

However Ahmedinejad never used those words:

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and critic of American policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said in an e-mail exchange, "I smell the whiff of war propaganda."

Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

Despite the above and other explanations the false "wipe Israel off the map" translation never died. Years later it still reappeared in Guardian pieces which required it to issue multiple corrections and clarifications.

Now, as the Trump administration is pushing for war on Iran, a similar mistranslation miraculously happened. It were again 'western' news agencies who lightened the fire:

The Associated Press @AP - 7:52 utc - 25 Jun 2019

BREAKING: Iran's President Rouhani mocks President Trump, says the White House is "afflicted by mental retardation."

Farsi speakers pointed out that the Rouhani never used the Farsi word for "retarded":

Sina Toossi @SinaToossi - 13:49 utc - 25 Jun 2019

A lot of Western media is reporting that Iranian President Rouhani called Trump "mentally retarded." This is inaccurate.
Regarding Trump, he just said "no wise person would take such an action [the new sanctions imposed]."

Reza H. Akbari @rezahakbari - 15:58 utc - 25 Jun 2019

Absolutely incorrect. There is a word for "retarded" in Persian & Rouhani didn't use it. Prior to him saying "mental disability" he even prefaced his comment by saying "mental weakness." Those who speak Persian can listen & judge for themselves. Here is a video clip of Rouhani's comment: link

But the damage was already done:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 14:42 utc - 25 Jun 2019

Iran leadership doesn’t understand the words “nice” or “compassion,” they never have. Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone..

....The wonderful Iranian people are suffering, and for no reason at all. Their leadership spends all of its money on Terror, and little on anything else. The U.S. has not forgotten Iran’s use of IED’s & EFP’s (bombs), which killed 2000 Americans, and wounded many more...

....Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!

Reuters, which also peddled the mistranslation, gleefully connected the dots:

Cont. reading: Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' Happens

Posted by b at 16:53 UTC | Comments (168)

June 25, 2019

Majority Of U.S. Citizens Would Approve Preventive Nuclear Strike On North Korea

Today is the 69th anniversary of the Korea War. The war has not ended. It is the U.S. that rejects to sign a peace treaty. The continued state of war is the reason why North Korea acquired nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

To turn North Korea back into a non-nuclear state necessitates an end of the war, a peace treaty, and security guarantees.

But could the U.S. be relied on even when a peace treaty is signed? Or is it inherently too bellicose to ever be trusted?

When North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un will read this report, he will likely conclude that the later question must be answered in the affirmative:

More than a third of Americans would support a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea if that country tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States, new research has found, even if that preemptive strike killed a million civilians.

The survey of 3,000 Americans was conducted by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and British research firm YouGov, and asked people to consider a scenario in which North Korea had tested a long-range missile and the U.S. government was considering how to respond.

The survey question is a bit weird as North Korea already tested a "long-range missile capable of reaching the United States".

Fortunately not all Americans are brutes:

Most did not want their government to launch a preemptive strike, but a large minority supported such a strike, whether by conventional or nuclear weapons.

“For many of these hawks, support for an attack, even in a preventive war, does not significantly decrease when the story says that the United States would use nuclear weapons that are expected to kill 1 million North Korean civilians,” the report found.

“As we have previously found, the U.S. public exhibits only limited aversion to nuclear weapons use and a shocking willingness to support the killing of enemy civilians.”

The use of a nuclear weapon against North Korea would have even higher support after it happened:

They were also asked whether they would “approve” of such a strike if the president ordered it.

People would “rally around the flag,” the survey found: while 33 percent of the public would prefer a nuclear strike that would kill 15,000 North Korean civilians, 50 percent said they would approve if one took place.

It is not astonishing that many of these people are so called 'conservatives':

Republicans expressed greater support for military strikes than Democrats, and Trump supporters voiced even stronger approval: a majority of them preferred a military strike in five of the six scenarios described in the survey.

Among supporters of the death penalty, support for a nuclear strike actually rose from 38 percent to 49 percent when the number of expected North Korean fatalities increased from 15,000 to 1.1 million; one such respondent explained that “it’s our best chance of eliminating the North Koreans.”

It would require a nuclear bomb with a 1 megaton TNT equvilent to create a million dead in Pyongyan. The city would be totally destroyed.


Estimate via Nukemap - bigger

More than twenty five million people live in North Korea. Those U.S. citizens who were surveyed and support to strike them, seem to believe that the North Korean survivors of a preventive strike could not or would not retaliate.

They of course can and would do that. The U.S. ballistic missile defense does not work. It would not stop a North Korean missile targeting Seattle, Washington DC or anything between those cities.

With a deeply disturbed Donald Trump in the White House, who's supporters would support him using nukes, Kim Jong Un will of course conclude that North Korea will have to keep ts deterrent. Other countries will think of building their own.

A detailed discussion of the survey and its results is here.

Posted by b at 17:28 UTC | Comments (198)