Friday, September 30, 2016

The Rain from Spain falls Mainly in Ukraine

It's getting wet again in Ukraine, the wet season that used to precede the mud season, and if the wreckage and remains of MH17, still ungathered in the fields around Hrabove,  are getting another washing, the fate of the jet has received another, unsurprising, laundering too.

The JIP announced its long awaited (since last year) finger-pointing report on not only the latest clarification of 'what happened', but the indication of  'who dunnit'.

What happened?  Nothing new there: "pro-Russian", not anti-Kyiv,  forces got a Buk system from Russia - drove it all around Donetsk and Lugansk regions for a day and, for want of something better to do with it, parked it in an obscure corner of east central Donetsk, and used one of the four missiles they had,  to down a Malaysian Airliner. Then they drove it back, to the flat bed truck they had used to drive it into the regions, packed it up without any attempts to hide the cargo and drove it around the two regions again, through a 'highly fluid battle zone' ( a government armored thrust the day after the crash, cut across the Buk's withdrawal route twice),  perilously close to Government "fortifications of dignity" at Debaltsevo and east to Lugansk, where, apparently it went 'poof' or unobserved,  back into Russia.

One Russian response:

'Who dunnit'?  Aside from Putin, the 'Seps on the radio and telephone', and members of a Russian rocket regiment - 100 souls in all, who had something to do with the BUk, the truck, the escorts, command structure or all of the preceding,

And how do we know all this?  Well although there really isn't much proof by way of actual witnesses, or physical evidence of anything but the crashed plane, great minds - or at last 6 of them -  have  mined the repositories of knowledge - Facebook and YouTube.  They found and connected a plethora of 'dots'.  Not the JIT - they've done little but interview experts and have free lunches - but the 'experts' they have interviewed have made all things clear. Or clear enough to make a cartoon movie to help us all 'get it'.

So who were the experts?  Well no Russians were needed. The info came from  the Ukrainians, who if they weren't possibly suspected, would have been the prime investigators. The Dutch were the lead, on-the-ground investigators, retrieving remains and  wreckage,  dealing with the dead and reconstructing the downed aircraft.  The EU waded-in and, as usual, so did the Americans.  The Brits deciphered the flight recorders.  Most of the 'saga' was unearthed through the army of a half-dozen "independent investigative journalists" associated with a website called Bellingcat and its whiz-bang, unemployed, blogger-proprietor. The Malaysians, who actually got to the site first - more than a week before anybody official appeared - got the bums' rush.  But at least now they're being assured that given some more time - 3 short years - and a little help from concerned citizens in Russia, they may be able to sue Putin at the Hague, if the gallant EUkrainians don't do it first, maybe.

Within an hour of the jet hitting the ground Ukrainian sources were accusing their 'russian'  separatists of downing the aircraft, claiming to have phone intercepts of at least two rebel leaders discussing the crash and celebrating having downed 'another' Ukrainian aircraft. Surprising, insofar as either the Ukrainians were only starting to tap into the dissident area's 'national' cell phone grid, or that the separatists hadn't tweaked to the fact that their using a cell phone was probably going to be overheard in the State Security Office, too.   This is a unique eclat compared to the rest of Ukraine's ATO.  Even more so because the Seps weren't talking about the other military matters, (or stopped), and  that resulted in nasty military 'surprises' all over the east (Saur Moglia within three weeks,  and Ilovaisk, within a month of MH17). On those things the Seps were maintaining telephone silence?

Maybe MH 17 cost Kyiv it's 'victory'. After it the Seps dummied-up and the Ukrainian army of liberation was mauled in a series of 'sneak attacks'?

That notion of the Seps doing it and Russia being responsible became the 'lingua fanca' of anybody sensible - for it was as understandable an act for Russia,  as was annexing Crimea and invading the Donbass.  Putin was just being the 'total ass' that President Obama was telling the world he was. He was on the 'outs' with goodness and civilization and downing a planeload of tourists would prove that to everybody. 

Question was 'how sick is Putin?' The answer comes back, "He's not."  For it wasn't a falling out of over Ukraine that iced Putin, it was a veto at the UN - of another of Obama's increasing number of 'humanitarian' interventions, this time about Syria.  Ukraine 'just happened' and Putin wasn't cheering the US on to another victory.  In the absence of evidence forcing a change, the chorus just do better repeating the refrain: "Putin did it."

In so many words - although the JIT was careful to say they weren't accusing Russia of actually ordering the shoot down or nodding approval at the target acquisition radar, saying they gave the Seps a missile and the Seps used that missile  to do it,  is much like the same thing. Add to that, that at least 80 of the dirty rotten suspects are members of the Russian Armed Forces and you have a slam-dunk  closed case, chapter and verse.   Hell,  you could make an animated short subject film about it all. And they did.

But the greatest part of the saga, and the detail of the cinematographic reconstruction is straight from the on-line archives of Bellingcat.

Bellingcat is a web site registered in great Britain started by a 30-something blogger  called Elliot Higgins. In 2012,  Higgins - unemployed and playing stay at home Daddy to his daughter  - started blogging about the developing War in Syria.  He developed an 'expertise' identifying weapons depicted in YouTube postings, providing what he called 'proof' of Syrian government's use of 'barrel bomb's, cluster munitions and poison gas. Using a synthesis of Google Earth/Google Maps to fact-check posts made on Facebook and other social media, some of his 'revelations' involved locating the sites of ISIS' beheading western and other hostages and identifying the situations around other outrages.  When the Ukrainian incident began Higgins became interested in that as well - looking for evidence of Russian involvement in the Donbass. After MH 17, he formed Bellingcat with 6 assistants to investigate the downing of that aircraft. He is credited with 'debunking' satellite imagery presented by the Russians, claiming it had been 'photoshopped'. His 'work' has been largely accepted by investigators because they have very little of their own.

Bellingcat's singular failing - subjectivity

While Bellingcat's work comes off as  "professional and decisive", it remains open to a number of challenges. First is the notion that anything can be taken from internet sources without being adapted in some way, or that things posted on the internet are pristine or uncorrupted. It is increasingly evident, that, aside,  from the obvious sensitive information, some can be 'staged' including manipulation of attached, metadata identification. One  of these, for instance, involves video footage of the Buk missile system being transported through eastern Donbass on the day of the aircraft downing. The videographer who filmed that claims he made the video 12 days before the incident. Something that doesn't jibe at all with the Bellingcat narrative presented by the JIT.   Bellingcat's reaction to this is that he's wrong and they're right - the video was shot according to their 'investigations'.

One of the other gaps in Bellingcat's narrative is in relation to the transport truck, which originated in Donetsk   but was apparently driven to Russia to fetch the Buk, and then driven all around both Donetsk and Lugansk regions, including those two cities, after being 'stolen' by separatist forces. After it reaches Lugansk, on the way back to Russia, it disappears completely from the story and Bellingcat's ambit, as does the  Buk unit itself.

The most notable aspect of the report? The extension of the 'investigation' for another three years.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Suppose They Gave an Election and Nobody Came?

Well nobody, or at least very few of them, cast their ballots in yesterday's Russian election. Consequentially, Putin's party will run the Duma for another term - and he'll still be the President.  What's special about any of this is that the election has totally made all the world's other cares go away - as we are directed to focus on what we can't do to help the poor, downtrodden non-voting Russians.

                                                   Walking it the doggie 'Putin  huylo!'
                                                 "Sic it nasty coppers Putin-huylo, sic it!"
 We could hope they'd hit the streets, fill a square or two with the detritus of protest and, hopefully, the blood of more martyrs for democracy, human rights and free markets ... and give us something to be gladder about.

What all this does do  is  take our minds off the need to respond to a couple of terror attacks in America. One of those targeted a Mall - the place where George Bush told the American public they were going to 'win the war on terror' by shopping.  Another thing they hate us for is Piggly Wiggly's open 24/7 and The Gap.  A 'jihadi' stabbed nine full-grown American men, causing a panic in Minnesota, until he was 'stopped' by an 'off-duty', ex-police chief who maybe shouldn't have been carrying a gun in a 'gun free' Mall.  Why would Americans need 'gun free' Malls, if the President declared them a war zone?

But I diverge.

The Toronto Star, usually a font of wisdom, but of late just another member of somebody's publishing cartel, took the world outrage about 'Russian election cheating' to a  'higher level'. Along with the ballot-stuffing and double voters and bad stuff busting out all over Russian polling places,  the Star accompanied the standard pap with visual proof that "disorders" had accompanied the polling.

Ukrainians celebrate the Russian election
by lynching a Jew (just pretending - that only happens to gypsies).

Striking a blow for democracy in Kyiv

                                                  Giving a kick for democracy in Kyiv

They were right,  disorders had accompanied the Russian election, but not in Russia.  Ukraine, the unfriendly neighbor to the west,  had announced, early last week, that it would not brook any Russian elections on EUkrainian territory. While they were understandably incensed that the vote went on, as planned, in "occupied" Crimea - which is 'de facto' a part of Russia - they also turned out the security forces to guard the Russian embassy in Kyiv from the 'protestors' who were scheduled to appear. The right-wing Volkstrurm Frontline Fighters Association   that doesn't exist in dignified Eukrainia, did appear with their EUkraino-doggies and 'slava EUkrinies!!'  and prevented any unpatriotic Russian expats from getting near the election booth inside. Not only that,  those 'security forces' actually arrested a 'Russian' for "voting irregularities" - a Ukrainian crime covering a Russian election. The forces of freedom in the democratic west should be so observant. 

                                            A Russian caught election-rigging in Kyiv

Probably most people in the world and, from the amount of ink expended on the subject, very few members of the western media, were aware until this morning,  the Russians were having an election at all.  Like how could anybody,  threatening world peace in eastern Europe, holding massive military manoeuvres to threaten EUkrainia, backing-up the Chinese and Assad  in world trouble spots,  or making the poor, recently-discovered yet massively acclaimed  "White Helmets" of Aleppo  starve in the rubble of the city they helped destroy,  take time out for an election?

Everybody on earth - shy a bad dose of hydrocephalus - knows that a real election is taking place in America. It has been for almost a year now. And we also know, again from those media sources which we trust for the 'truthiness', that the evil 'Merlin of Moscow' has been 'hacking' into  the US electoral system to such an extent that he has, single-handedly, or with a division of militarized computer geeks,  successfully reduced the slate of candidates and left Americans with only two choices for 'Commander-in-Chief'.  We know as well, and perhaps more importantly, that there is the imminent likelihood that his 'hacking' will do to America what his election shenanigans have done in Russia, elect one of those Korean War era  'mongoloid candidates ' to sit in the Oval Orifice!

Putin's apt to calling-up on November seventh to say, "Congratulations Mr. President on the big win."  And really meaning it.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The White Hats

Coming to an HBO/Netflix outlet near you, the saga of those who so willingly go into deadly places to rescue innocent victims.  This is waaay better than the 9/11 firefighters who survived - the white hats apparently never complain about being 'used' or developing and work-related illnesses. Aside from the white hard hats and sharp, da-glo rescue vests and perhaps the 'team' T-shirts these could be rescuers from anywhere, but they're not - they're ours.

If there is any particular skill that Syrians have developed over the past 4 years, aside from moving themselves away from danger and hopefully into the EU, it is digging the stay-behinds out of the rubble that four years of war fighting and aerial bombardment  have spread over much of the country. Whammo! Some humanitarian, or otherwise, drops some ordinance and faster than one can say 'open sesame' they're hauling kids of every age out of the wreckage. The news and various 'reportages' (now there's a new word)  are filled with the stuff. It's the photo-op, human interest material that we don't get from dead babies or relaxing tank crews. But until the 'White Helmets', it was rarely done professionally, neither the rescue screws,  or the videographers who filmed them. But that's all changed thanks to a few bucks from western NGO's - there are 'professionals' - both in the rubble and recording them -  in Dolby and HD. Western organizations - usually affiliated with the distaff (ie non-Assad) side of the Syrian struggle -  sponsor these guys. And sometimes, it seems, they hold back until a video recorder is in place before they go to work. The photography, too, seems to bear the mark of a 'professional staging', sorely-lacking when the world was being 'sold on' Assad's poison gas offensives.  Hell,  we've now got a poster child for what Assad's done to the poor democratic jihadis.

And very soon we'll have an HBO/Netflix extravaganza to sell America on everything right and pure being done for America's interests in seeing Assad off.  Up close and personal we're gong to get to know those great guys who don't pick sides, who'll rescue a Christian or a Shiite, or a stray European.  But we won't see them 'back off' as they did when some 'rebels' were forced to saw the head off a 12-year-old 'government spy'.   But heck,  that happens, apparently,  on all sides,  except when the government is using barrel bombs. 

I was watching the trailer last night to the haunting strains of a tune all Syrians would no doubt recognize from American radio: 'When the Saints Go Marching In'.  Maybe they have saints in Islam, the Sufis do, but they aren't the 'stoic' kind of Moslems who want to turn Syria back into a theocracy.  But this subject isn't for Syria, it's for America and we'll see the kind of stuff a Nobel Prize was designed for.

 In a 'sop' to the bloodshed they didn't complain about,  the American glitterati universe is a-twinkle with 'the word' that the 'White Helmets' merit  what Obama got for nothing. A campaign is being organized to develop another international coalition to ensure the Nobel panel doesn't mistakenly award the gong to somebody else.  But I wouldn't bet that,  if successful, these 'concerned citizens of Terra' would want to  challenge the orthodoxy that this war doesn't need to stop until Assad goes.
 The White Hats will last as long as their funding,  and continue after the real money goes back home. For White Hats don't 'win' anything, even saving lives  - except perhaps a public outcry, in America, for more 'rescue' bombardment on other Syrians with no hard hats.

Ooopsie daisy!

Only yesterday, after mistakenly eradicating some 85 of Assad's soldiers in an airstrike on a town that had been besieged by ISIS for more than a year, America ambassatrix to the UN, and gender non-specific sorority sister,  Sam Power, spent 25 minutes railing about the evil that is Assad and comparing the Russians with terrorists. She forgot to mention the evil that is ISIS, the intended targets outside that bombed town and the other reason President Obama said he needed to start bombing Syria in the first place - other than mentioning that America was 'all over them'.

This stunning cu*nt is a cunning array of stunts herself.  Being serious about Syria?  Hah!

America isn't trying to save Syria from ISIS terror, that's a made-in-America 'prawduct', They're trying to change the Assad regime. That's been the truth all along.  Even though it took inventing ISIS it still hasn't happened. America needs another 'ground swell of opinion' calling for war, in order to go in and get that job done. The target has been 'prepped' for four long years, but you know what? America will still be fighting an 'insurgency' in Syria and Iraq, and Afghanistan  and Libya and Yemen as long as America exists.  There are more Moslems, living to-day, who hate what America 'stands for' than when Bushco announced they existed. The Long War is some really new shit and something Americans have never experienced, even thought about before or are prepared for. It will hit them someday,  at the Mall,  and prevent them from being the 'winners' Bushco II told them that shopping would make them .

Ain't none of this going to end well.

PS At the Mall?  I must have been getting the Raelian vibes again - Minnesota = stabbings