Thursday, April 4, 2019

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1--The Russiagate narrative unravels--Russia did NOT hack the DNC. The emails were copied onto a thumbdrive

What is certain, however, is that email message ...forensic evidence that indicates the email was physically copied onto a storage device, like a thumb drive or CD-Rom, with a last modified date of 05:22:00 GMT on Wednesday the 25thof May 2016, before it was published on the Wikileaks site. The fact that these messages are in FAT format is not evidence that supports Mueller’s claim a “hack.”

Perhaps Mueller’s team of investigators turned up forensic data that proves a Russian hack. There was no such evidence, however, presented in June and July of 2016 when the initial claim was made blaming Russian intelligence operatives.

We also are confident that there was no solid forensic evidence available in January 2017 to substantiate the Intelligence Community Assessment attributing the “hack” to the Russian Government because NSA analysts only agreed that they had “moderate confidence” in that claim. We know from our prior experience in producting such assessments that if there existed actual forensic evidence, such as tracing the packets back to a server operated by the Russian Government then there would be “strong confidence” in the conclusion.

Who was the person or persons who had access to the DNC server that were copying these messages to a storage device, like a thumb drive, early in the morning on Wednesday the 25thof May? We have an opinion, but our focus is not on speculation. Let us first deal with the hard forensic evidence. We are certain of one thing—the available evidence does not support the claim that the DNC emails were “hacked” via an internet cyber attack.

2--Why aren’t Boeing executives being prosecuted for the 737 Max 8 crashes?

In the weeks since these disasters, there have been no calls within the media and political establishment for Boeing executives to be criminally prosecuted for what were evidently entirely avoidable tragedies that killed a total of 346 people. This speaks to the corrupt relationship between the US government and the aerospace giant—the biggest US exporter and second-largest defense contractor—as well as the company’s critical role in the stock market surge and the ever-expanding fortunes of major Wall Street investors....

Evidence has mounted implicating in both crashes an automated anti-stall system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was installed by Boeing in response to the new plane’s tendency to pitch upward and go into a potentially fatal stall. On a whole number of fronts—design, marketing, certification and pilot training—information from the black boxes of the two planes points to a lack of concern for the safety of passengers and crew on the part of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, reaching the level of criminality.

The most recent revelations concerning the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, based on preliminary findings from the official investigation, show that the pilots correctly followed the emergency procedures outlined by Boeing and disengaged the automated flight control system. Nevertheless, the nose of the plane continued to point downward. This strongly suggests a fundamental and perhaps fatal flaw in the design of the aircraft. Numerous questions have been raised about the design and certification process of the 737 Max 8 and MCAS, including:

  • Despite the presence on the plane of two angle-of-attack sensors, which signal a potential stall and trigger the automated downward pitch of the plane’s nose, MCAS relied on data from only one of the sensors. This means the standard redundancy feature built into commercial jets to avert disasters resulting from a faulty sensor was lacking. Boeing’s main rival to the 737 Max, the European-built Airbus A320neo, for example, uses data from three sensors to manage a system similar to MCAS.
  • Boeing Vice President Mike Sinnett admitted last November that cockpit warning lights alerting pilots of a faulty angle-of-attack sensor were only optional features on the Max 8.
  • The MCAS system was absent from pilot manuals and flight simulators, including for the well-known flight training program X-Plane 11, which came out in 2018, one year after the first commercial flight of the 737 Max 8.
  • Pilot training for the 737 Max 8, which has different hardware and software than earlier 737s, was a single one-hour computer course. Pilot certification for a commercial plane typically requires hundreds of hours of training, both in simulators and in actual flights. Boeing itself is now mandating at least 21 days of training on new Max planes.
There is no innocent explanation for these obvious safety issues. They point to reckless and arguably criminally negligent behavior on the part of Boeing executives, who rushed the new plane into service and marketed it against the Airbus A320neo on the basis of its cost-saving features. Threatened with a loss of market share and profits to its chief competitor, Boeing reduced costs by claiming that no significant training on the new Max 8 model, with the money and time that entails, was necessary for pilots with previous 737 experience.

Such imperatives of the capitalist market inevitably downgrade safety considerations. This is highlighted by a press release the day of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, in which Boeing stated that for “the past several months and in aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610,” the company “has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX.”

In other words, both Boeing and the FAA were aware, possibly even before the October 2018 Lion Air crash and certainly afterward, that a system critical to the safe operation of the aircraft needed to be fixed, and still allowed the plane to continue flying. The wording also suggests that the plane shouldn’t have been certified for flight in the first place....

Starting in 2005 and expanded during the Obama administration, the FAA introduced the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, which allows the agency to appoint as “designees” airplane manufacturers’ employees to certify their own company’s aircraft on behalf of the government

This is the logical end of the deregulation of the airline industry as a whole that was spearheaded by the Democratic Carter administration, which passed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. With the help of liberal icon Edward Kennedy, the legislation disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board, which up to that point treated interstate airlines as a regulated public utility, setting routes, schedules and fares....

Major airlines and aerospace companies must be expropriated on an international scale and transformed into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities, as part of the establishment of a planned economy based on social need, not private profit.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 disasters point to the inherent incompatibility between safe, comfortable and affordable air transport and private ownership of the airline industry, as well as the division of the world economy between rival nation-states. These catastrophes were driven by both the greed of Boeing executives and big investors and the intensifying trade conflict between the United States and Europe

3--IMF chief points to global growth deceleration

Only two years ago, 75 percent of the global economy experienced an upswing,” she said. “For this year, we expected 70 percent of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth....

The bloodbath has in fact already begun. Mass layoffs are underway at European and US auto plants, indicating that the ruling classes intend to impose the full burden of the downturn in the global economy on the backs of the working class.

The official position in the US is that growth is on track to record levels of between two and three percent. But movements in financial markets are pointing to a significant downturn, if not recession. One of the most significant is the “inversion” of the yield curve, where the interest rate on long-term Treasury bonds falls below the rates on short-term debt. This is regarded as an indicator of recession, as investors seek a safe haven, putting their money in long-term bonds, driving up the price and lowering the yield....

It speaks volumes about the underlying situation in the US and global economy that the present Fed rate of between 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent—one of the lowest levels in history—is regarded as a threat to growth. This is indicative of the extent to which the entire economy has become dependent on the inflow of cheap money.

This money has not been used to finance an expansion in production. Rather, it has been deployed in the very kinds of financial speculation and parasitism that led to the financial crisis more than a decade ago, creating the conditions for another meltdown.

Evidence of such speculation was revealed in an interview with the Financial Times this week with Jonathon Levine, co-managing partner of Bain Capital, a global private equity group involved in takeovers. Bain said that “increasingly aggressive” projected benefits from mergers and acquisitions were masking the real scale of borrowing and heightening the risk of a crash in this sector.
Bain indicated that “people were using complex jargon to exaggerate cost savings” for companies involved in mergers, “leading to soaring debt levels based on over-inflated projections

4--Amid rising tensions, NATO chief pitches confrontation with Russia to US Congress

Stoltenberg also solidarized himself with Washington over the Trump administration’s ripping up of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, noting that “NATO allies have supported the US position on that strongly.” Washington’s action, justified on the basis of unsubstantiated claims that Russia has violated the accord, opens the way to a dangerous new nuclear arms race.

US officials have acknowledged that a principal motivation for Washington’s action is that China, which is not bound by the treaty, is deploying missiles to counter Washington’s military encirclement carried out under the banner of the “pivot to Asia.”...

Pence  denounced the German government for moving ahead with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, bringing Russian natural gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, insisting that Germany ran the risk of becoming a “captive of Russia.” Washington has pressed for Germany to accept liquefied natural gas, delivered by US companies, as an alternative to Russian gas.

5--U.S. commander 'cautiously optimistic' N.K. can be convinced into giving up nuclear, missile programs

The U.S. northern commander said he's "cautiously optimistic" that North Korea can be convinced into giving up its nuclear and missile programs.
Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, made the remark in a written statement submitted for a missile defense hearing of the Senate Armed Forces Subcommittee on Strategic Forces on Wednesday.
"USNORTHCOM continues to prioritize our mission to defend the United States against potential intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attacks from North Korea and Iran," O'Shaughnessy said. "I remain cautiously optimistic that North Korea can be convinced that it is in their best interest to abandon its nuclear weapons and ICBM programs."

6--Kim Jong-un's Russia visit looks imminent 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is likely to visit Russia in the near future following an invitation from President Vladimir Putin.
"Our invitation has been handed over," Russia's TASS news agency quoted Kremlin presidential aide Yuri Ushako as saying, Wednesday. "The dates will be agreed on. We are awaiting our North Korean counterparts' response."

"It is highly feasible for Kim Jong-un to visit Russia before long to step up diplomatic pressures against the U.S. in the wake of the failed Hanoi summit," Shin Beom-chul, a senior director at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said.
"Under the current diplomatic situation, Kim Jong-un may be seeking to show off his strong alliance with Russia, as part of efforts to take advantage of the latter's diplomatic influence," Shin said. As Kim travelled to Hanoi by train, he is likely to do the same for Russia, according to the expert.

China and Russia have been the North's two biggest allies for decades. In particular, Kim has maintained close relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the past year while the denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang were underway.
Last year, Kim and Xi held four summits whose main agenda item was the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As a long-time ally, Kim is likely to have updated Xi on the progress of the nuclear talks with the U.S. during the meetings....

To tackle the deadlocked nuclear talks with the U.S., the North may seek to take advantage of the diplomatic power of not just China, but also Russia.
Last May, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Kim an invitation to join the Eastern Economic Forum held annually in September in Vladivostok. But the regime's young leader did not participate in the meeting.

7--Ready to Rumble--Turkish army completes preparations for military operation east of Euphrates


 Day of Reckoning or Sheep to the slaughter?

The Turkish military completed preparations for a cross border operation to the region east of the Euphrates River to clear PKK-affiliated terrorists, which have been posing a national security threat for Ankara, out of northern Syria.

"We are waiting for instructions of the government for the military operation. Opening a forward operating base was part of these preparations," a military source said Thursday, speaking under condition of anonymity.
Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) last week opened a forward operating base in southeastern Şanlıurfa province near the Syrian border with the attendance of Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and top military command. The base is planning to be used as the main command center in case of an operation to the east of Euphrates.

In December 2018, Turkish officials announced that Ankara is in preparations for a third offensive in northern Syria, this time east of the Euphrates, which is dominated by the PKK's Syrian affiliate, People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists. Previously, Turkey conducted two offensives in northern Syria, Operation Olive Branch and Operation Euphrates Shield.

In order to prevent the PKK and its extensions from tightening their grip in northeast Syria and disrupting peace efforts in the region, Turkey aims to accelerate the Manbij process that was launched in June with the U.S. As part of the deal, Turkey and the U.S. agreed to work on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij. The aim of the Manbij deal is to ensure security and stability in the province by eliminating YPG terrorists who currently control the region in northern Syria and ultimately handing the administration of the province to a body consisting of local people.

8--Putin to meet erdogan april 8

9--Turkish military action in Syria would be 'devastating,' Pompeo tells Çavuşoğlu, daily sabah

10--US must choose between Turkey and terrorists, Vice President Oktay says


11--Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed


A debate over how the special counsel’s conclusions are represented has played out in public as well as in recent weeks, with Democrats in Congress accusing Mr. Barr of intervening to color the outcome of the investigation in the president’s favor.

In his letter to Congress outlining the report’s chief conclusions, Mr. Barr said that Mr. Mueller found no conspiracy between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia’s 2016 election interference. While Mr. Mueller made no decision on his other main question, whether the president illegally obstructed the inquiry, he explicitly stopped short of exonerating Mr. Trump.

Mr. Mueller’s decision to skip a prosecutorial judgment “leaves it to the attorney general to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime,” Mr. Barr wrote. He and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, decided that the evidence was insufficient to conclude that Mr. Trump had committed an obstruction offense....

Mr. Barr’s promises of transparency have done little to appease Democrats who control the House. The House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to let its chairman use a subpoena to try to compel Mr. Barr to hand over a full copy of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence to Congress. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has not said when he will use the subpoena, but made clear on Wednesday that he did not trust Mr. Barr’s characterization of what Mr. Mueller’s team found.



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