Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jon Schwarz — Congressman’s Trump Surveillance Claims Have an Obvious, Mundane Explanation


It's complicated. Jon Schwarz unpacks it for us.

Edward Harrison — You should be concerned about falling car prices and Ally’s profit warning

Yesterday, Ally Financial warned that profits would underperform expectations. Now, they dd not say that profits would fall or that they were taking credit writedowns. Neverthless, the warning is an important marker and should be of grave concern. Here’s why....
Credit Writedowns
You should be concerned about falling car prices and Ally’s profit warningEdward Harrison

Biz Carson — Apple just bought the app it once crowned 'most innovative' and made it free for everyone


Free is good.

Business Insider
Apple just bought the app it once crowned 'most innovative' and made it free for everyone
Biz Carson

Here's another new product from Apple.

Bill Mitchell — More evidence that the US labour market is not at full employment

Regular readers will recall a few of my blogs where I have demonstrated that the US economy is still nowhere near to what one might call full employment, even though that concept is highly contested and can span a range of outcomes depending on the ideological disposition one takes. I have also done some research decomposing the marked decline in the US participation rate since around 2000 into age-related effects and what I call the discouraged worker effects (workers giving up looking for jobs because of the slow employment growth). This week (March 20, 2017), research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco bears on this topic –
How Tight Is the U.S. Labor Market? – and they essentially concur with my previous assessments. There work is interesting because it reaches the same conclusion from a variety of methods, which is always a good sign because it means the result is not method-specific. However, there are those who for their own ideological reasons want to argue that the US economy is already at full employment. If they were correct, it would mean the quality of that ‘full employment’ had shifted markedly – lower – as a consequence of the GFC and its aftermath and that the associated underutilisation levels had risen.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
More evidence that the US labour market is not at full employment
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sputnik — Russia Secures Financial System From Potential SWIFT Shutoff - Central Bank Head

Russia has introduced safeguards against the risk of being shut out of international transaction systems such as Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) after anti-Russian sanctions introduced by the West, Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said Wednesday.…
"There was the threat of being shut out of SWIFT. We updated our transaction system, and if anything happens, all SWIFT-format operations will continue to work, we created an analogous system," Nabiullina said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Think Tank: Cyber Firm [Crowdstrike] at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data


Voice of America, the US government international propaganda arm news service confirms the report of Moon of Alabama posted here at MNE earlier in the day that the Crowdstrike claim of Russian involvement in hacking the Ukrainian military was disproved.
[Dmitri] Alperovitch, a Russian expatriate and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council policy research center in Washington, co-founded CrowdStrike in 2011.
Voice of America
Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data
Oleksiy Kuzmenko and Pete Cobus

#$@&%*! [James Comey on Russia at the Congressional Hearing]

These guys are clowns. They are beyond ignorant, because they are ignorant even of their own ignorance.
#$@&%*
#$@&%*!
#$@&%*!
#$@&%*!
Nobody should take these hearings in the slightest bit seriously.
Irrussianality
#$@&%*!
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Also
“… Schiff, a former prosecutor, … should know better than to treat ‘circumstantial evidence’ as a synonym for guilt by association.
NEWSWATCH: “Leakgate Finds Its Joe McCarthy; On Trump-Russia links, Rep. Schiff tries to fool the public with randomness” – Wall Street Journal/HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

Also
A shortage of knowledge accompanied by a desire to generalize as broadly as possible are the basic ingredients of a witch-hunt.
Bloomberg View
Why the Comey Hearing Was Frightening to a Russian
Leonid Bershidsky | Bloomberg View columnist and dRussian ex-pat

Also

The National Interest
The House Intelligence Committee Hearing: Missing Questions
Editorial

Brian Romanchuk — Modelling A Gold Standard


A simple account of the Bretton Woods international monetary system, out of Godley & Lavoie, and with diagrams.

Bond Economics
Modelling A Gold Standard
Brian Romanchuk

Trumponomics: causes and consequences – Part I – RWER issue no. 78



Auerback, Galbraith, Hudson, Kelton, Wray, Tcherneva provide an MMT-based critique of Trumponomics. 

Real-World Economics Review Blog
Trumponomics: causes and consequences – Part I – RWER issue no. 78

Preface          download pdf
Trumponomics: everything to fear including fear itself?          3
Jamie Morgan          download pdf                                                                           
Can Trump overcome secular stagnation?          20
James K. Galbraith            download pdf                              
Trump through a Polanyi lens: considering community well-being          28
Anne Mayhew            download pdf                                                                                    
Trump is Obama’s legacy. Will this break up the Democratic Party?          36
Michael Hudson          download pdf
Causes and consequences of President Donald Trump          44
Ann Pettifor               download pdf                                 
Explaining the rise of Donald Trump          54
Marshall Auerback          download pdf 
Class and Trumponomics          62
David F. Ruccio          download pdf 
Trump’s Growthism: its roots in neoclassical economic theory          86
Herman Daly          download pdf 
Trumponomics: causes and prospects          98
L. Randall Wray          download pdf 
The fall of the US middle class and the hair-raising ascent of Donald Trump
Steven Pressman          download pdf          112
Mourning in America: the corporate/government/media complex          125
Neva Goodwin          download pdf 
How the Donald can save America from capital despotism          132
Stephen T. Ziliak          download pdf 
Prolegomenon to a defense of the City of Gold          141
David A. Westbrook          download pdf 
Trump’s bait and switch: job creation in the midst of welfare state sabotage
Pavlina R. Tcherneva           download pdf          148
Can ‘Trumponomics’ extend the recovery?          159
Stephanie Kelton           download pdf 
Board of Editors, past contributors, submissions and etc.          173

Moon of Alabama — Fool Me Once ... - Crowdstrike Claimed Two Cases Of "Russian Hacking" - One Has Been Proven Wrong

The cyber-security company Crowdstrike claimed that the "Russia" hacked the Democratic National Committee. It also claimed that "Russia" hacked artillery units of the Ukrainian army. The second claim has now be found to be completely baseless. That same is probably the case with its claims related to the DNC.
Much of this has already been posted here previously, but b pulls it together. Moreover, it is relevant now owing to the recent testimony of FBI chief James Comey that the agency never actually investigated the alleged DNC "hack" forensically and there is good reason to think that it was actually a leak rather than a hack.

There are some good comments, too.

Internet security is highly important, of course, but without oversight it can lead to government management of the national and global information systems.

In this case Congress seems to be bent on a witch hunt rather than a real investigation.

New Directions

Like many good books, Martin Gurri’s The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium is about One Big Idea, though the implications take a while to work through. It’s basically a story of how technology and media are changing politics.…Gurri really won my heart when he brought this insight together with the work of the great anthropologist Mary Douglas, who had an uncanny knack for creating powerful and useful analytical frameworks:
Andrew Batson's Blog
So far, my favorite book about the 2016 election is one that came out in 2014
Andrew Batson
The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.
Truthdig
A Last Chance for Resistance
Chris Hedges


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kate Martin — Neil Gorsuch was instrumental in defending George W. Bush’s torture program

When Gorsuch took a job at the Justice Department in 2005, the department — then headed by President Bush’s former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales — was in the midst of defending radical claims of unreviewable presidential authority to act in the name of national security. Gorsuch, as Principal Deputy to the Associate Attorney General, became deeply involved in that work. 
President Bush claimed that he could act not only without Congress, and in secret, but that he could violate the law if he decided that national security required it, and the courts had no power to review his actions. These were not academic claims, they were made in defense of outrageous abuses of individual rights carried out in the name of the “war against terror.”…

While the documents about Mr. Gorsuch’s tenure at DOJ working on this case are still incomplete, they contain no indication that he disagreed with or questioned any of these radical legal positions taken by the administration....
Think Progress
Neil Gorsuch was instrumental in defending George W. Bush’s torture program
Kate Martin | Senior Fellow at American Progress

Also
Gorsuch appeared slightly flustered when Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California – the top Democrat on the Republican-majority committee and an influential member of the Senate Intelligence Committee – pressed him on his role advising President Bush in drafting U.S. policy on torture.

She brought up several memos and emails detailing his role helping the White House conclude that "enhanced interrogations" were legal, a memo he drafted helping top Bush aides sell that notion to the public and agreed that a controversial program allowing government surveillance on American citizens without a warrant as part of the war on terror.
Gorsuch said he didn't remember the memos and was reluctant to talk about his "loose recollection of something that happened 11 or 12 years ago." But he reminded Feinstein that he was essentially a lawyer working for a client and not a judge, and he didn't always agree with the administration's more assertive conclusions – although he wouldn't say which ones..

"There was a tug of war in the White House" on the issue, Feinstein answered, and "I want to know which side you were on."
He refused to say.

Thumbs down on confirmation.

US News
Gorsuch Questioned Early on Torture Memo
Joseph P. Williams, Staff Writer

Robert David English — Russia, Trump, and a New Détente


This was originally published at Foreign Affairs, an organ of the Council on Foreign Relations. Foreign Affairs is behind a paywall, so the venue here is US-Russia.org.

Foreign Affairs has generally taken the idealistic approach to foreign policy and suppressed the realistic. The publication of this article is counter to trend. Observers wonder if it signals a reversal, or at least a modification.

US-RUSSIA.ORG
Russia, Trump, and a New Détente
Robert David English | Associate Professor of International Relations, Slavic Languages & Literature, and Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California
Originally published at Foreign Affairs

Is Internet censorship looming large? Looking like it.


Censorship is descending on the Internet.

QCHG is the British counterpart of NSA.

The Guardian
Facebook and Twitter should do more to combat fake news, says GCHQ
Josh Halliday

Also
“Facebook itself will not decide what is real and what is considered fake. Instead, it is enlisting The Poynter Institute, a Florida journalism school, to sift through content,” they continued. “The Poynter Institute is the host of the International Fact Checking Network which bills itself as a ‘global alliance of fact checkers’. Its members include ABC News, Politico, The Associated Press, Snopes.com and The Washington Post.”
Breitbart question the partisanship of some of the "fact checkers," but not The Poynter Institute. Here are some of the entities behind it.
Poynter's IFCN has received funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Duke Reporters’ Lab, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations and the Park Foundation.
Not exactly objective, are they?

Breitbart
Report: Facebook Users Begin Receiving Pop-Up Warnings When Trying to Share ‘Fake News’

Also

Bloomberg View's Leonid Bershidsky blasts Poynter's IFCN as biased.

Bloomberg View
Leonid Bershidsky

Also

Media Bias Fact Check has a list of the supposedly least biased news sources. They are all establishment entities that are in general agreement on the "facts."

Also

Ex-CIA agent Larry C. Johnson's blog No Quarter  has been taken down, as you will see if you click on the link. Disappeared.  Now that is scary. 

Is totalitarianism looming?

Garrett M. Graff — Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker


Detective story. And the quarry is still at large.

Wired
Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker
Garrett M. Graff

Hayley Peterson — Sears says there's ‘substantial doubt’ it can stay in business


Remember Sears and Roebuck's competitor Montgomery Ward? Looks like Sears is following the same path.

Monkey Ward is still around, you say?
After its demise, the familiarity of its brand meant its name, corporate logo, and advertising were still considered valuable intangible assets. In 2004, catalog marketer Direct Marketing Services Inc. (DMSI), an Iowa-based direct marketing company, purchased much of the intellectual property assets of the former Wards, including the "Montgomery Ward" and "Wards" trademarks, for an undisclosed amount of money.[30]
DMSI applied the brand to a new online and catalog-based retailing operation, with no physical stores, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. DMSI then began operating under the Montgomery Ward branding and managed to get it up and running in three months. The new firm began operations in June 2004, selling essentially the same categories of products as the former brand, but as a new, smaller catalog.
The DMSI version of Montgomery Ward was not the same company as the original. The company did not honor obligations of the previous company, such as gift cards and items sold with a lifetime guarantee. David Milgrom, then president of the firm, said in an interview with the Associated Press: "We're rebuilding the brand, and we want to do it right."
In July 2008, DMSI announced it was on the auction block, with sale scheduled for the following month. Catalog retailer Swiss Colony purchased DMSI August 5, 2008. Swiss Colony—which changed its name to Colony Brands Inc. on June 1, 2010—announced it would keep the Montgomery Ward catalog division open. The website launched September 10, 2008, with new catalogs mailing in February 2009. A month before the catalog's launch, Swiss Colony President John Baumann told United Press International the retailer might also resurrect Montgomery Ward's Signature and Powr-Kraft store brands. To augment its vast selection, Montgomery Ward started promoting several exclusive new brands in July 2012 in its Early Fall 2012 catalog and on its website, including Devonshire Collection, Apothecarie Collection and Elysian Forest Collection furniture, Chef Tested kitchen products, Comfort Creek towels and sheets, Freshica shoes, Sleep Connection bedding, and Color Connection window treatments.
Wikipedia

Just the skeleton remains.

Will Sears meet a similar fate?

Business Insider
Sears says there's ‘substantial doubt’ it can stay in business
Hayley Peterson

Johnson's Russia List — “How did the intelligence community know that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee? CrowdStrike told them so. From the March 20 House Intelligence Committee hearing …”


The FBI and NSA admit that they never actually investigated the DNC hack. Excerpt from the hearing transcript.

Johnson's Russia List
“How did the intelligence community know that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee? CrowdStrike told them so. From the March 20 House Intelligence Committee hearing …”

See also

NEWSLINK: “Notes From the House Select Intelligence Hearing on Russia; In one of the most anticipated congressional hearings in years, James Comey and Mike Rogers took turns saying nothing” – Rolling Stone/Matt Taibbi

NEWSLINK: “Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion” – The Intercept/Glenn Greenwald

NEWSLINK: “The paranoid attempts to tie Trump to Russia are distracting US liberals from their real problems” – Quartz: James Carden

Michael Winship — Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow


This article is a bit of a rant, but it conveys the essential point that the AHCA as it stands will adversely affect a lot of the disgruntled electorate that put him in office and which he will need come 2020 if he decides to run for a second term.

Considering that the first month of the Trump administration was spent on delivering on campaign promises, this is a reversal of direction.

It is not clear yet what the final bill will look like, but if this an outline, it is an indication that either President Trump is reversing direction or is out of touch.

Add this to the disappointment about the promise of Russian détente instead of continued confrontation, based on recent appointments.

Consortium News
Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow
Michael Winship

John Helmer — Fiona Hill to Take Over President Trump’s Russia Desk


This lady makes the neocons look tame. She thinks the US is already in a hot war with Russia. And Donald Trump is supposed to be a foreign policy realist? Really?

President Trump has either caved to the deep state, or is completely out of touch. It's difficult to say which.
This month, a few days before her NSC staff appointment was announced, Hill gave an interview to a New York periodical in which she declared war on Russia. “I think we are in a hot war with Russia, not a cold war. But we have to be careful about the analogy. It’s a more complex world. There is no set-piece confrontation. This is no holds barred. The Cold War was a more disciplined competition, aside from the near blowups in Berlin and Cuba, where we walked back from the brink. The Kremlin now is willing to jump over the abyss. They want to play for the asymmetry. They see themselves in a period of hot kinetic war. Also, this is not just two-way superpower. There is China, the rising powers. I almost see it as like the great power competition from the time before the Second World War.”
Dances with Bears
Fiona Hill to Take Over President Trump’s Russia DeskJohn Helmer 

Johan Nylander — Chinese banks, HSBC caught up in huge money laundering scam

Several of China’s state-controlled banks, as well as HSBC’s Hong Kong branch, have allegedly processed hundreds of millions of US dollars from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the spy agency FSB.
Documents obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project show that at least US$20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in a vast criminal operation called “The Global Laundromat”....
Asia Times
Chinese banks, HSBC caught up in huge money laundering scam
Johan Nylander

Alex Tabarro — LBRY Saves 20,000 Courses from the ADA

Those free online course materials may be gone from the University of California, Berkeley, courtesy of a U.S. Deparment of Justice interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related statutes, but they’re not gone from the Internet: “20,000 Worldclass University Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them” [LBRY] Won’t that infringe on a lot of copyrights? The site claims not: “The vast majority of the lectures are licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows attributed, non-commercial redistribution.” Earlier coverage here, here, here, and here.
As someone put it, it looks as if the internet recognizes ADA litigation as damage and routes around it.
Marginal Revolution
LBRY Saves 20,000 Courses from the ADA
Alex Tabarrok | Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center and Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a research fellow with the Mercatus Center

Why Trump will have to trash the dollar to create jobs

If Donald Trump really wants to Make America Great Again, he’s going to have to Make the Dollar Weak Again first.
So argued hedge fund manager Mathew Klody of MCN Capital Management at this week’s Grant’s investment conference in New York.
He made an intriguing case.
If Klody’s right, Trump may just be blowing smoke when he talks about tariffs and border-adjustment taxes.
And, most importantly, if Klody is right, we should also buy foreign currencies, especially those issued by emerging markets. Sooner or later, the president will need to drive down the dollar, and for those based in the U.S. that will drive up foreign currencies.
Market Watch — Opinion
Why Trump will have to trash the dollar to create jobs
Brett Arends, columnist

Dirk Ehnts — J. S. Mill (1848) on tax-driven money

Via Matt Forstater (link), I have found some paragraphs by J. S. Mill on tax-driven money (see below). It is quite amazing that this knowledge got lost in the 21st century, with all that technology available.
econoblog 101
J. S. Mill (1848) on tax-driven money
Dirk Ehnts | Lecturer at Bard College Berlin

Monday, March 20, 2017

Xinhua — FM: China, U.S. can avoid Thucydides Trap, Kindleberger Trap

China and the United States can sidestep the Thucydides Trap and the Kindleberger Trap and jointly chart bilateral ties from a long-term perspective, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday in Beijing.…
The Thucydides Trap refers to a warning by the ancient Greek historian that cataclysmic war can erupt if a rising power causes fear in an established power.
The two countries will not fall to the Kindleberger Trap either, Wang said, as a single country cannot provide all public goods for the world with such complexity, and international cooperation is the only possible choice.
Charles Kindleberger, an intellectual architect of the Marshall Plan who later taught at MIT, believes that the disastrous decade of the 1930s was caused by the U.S. replacing Britain as the largest global power but failing to take on Britain's role in providing public goods.
Applauding U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks during his recent visit to China, Wang said that China stands ready to advance bilateral ties from a strategic perspective.
Tillerson said that the United States and China should jointly chart bilateral ties for the next 50 years and plan all-round cooperation.…
China stands ready to shoulder its due international responsibilities, but never wants to lead the world, Wang said.
Ecns
FM: China, U.S. can avoid Thucydides Trap, Kindleberger Trap
Xinhua | Editor: Gu Liping

Also

China's door opens wider to outside world: premier
Xinhua | Editor: Gu Liping

Zhang Rui — 'Beauty and the Beast' smashes box office records

The film, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans and Josh Gad, grossed 308 million yuan (US$44.6 million) in China during its debut three-day weekend, and became the biggest grossing musical ever screened in China...
Disney has been very successful with profitable remakes of its own animated classics in China in recent years. For example, the live-action "Cinderella" made US$71.57 million, while the remake of "The Jungle Book," which won best visual effects at the Oscars on Sunday, grossed US$150 million here.
Disney has already decided to hire Niki Caro for a live-action remake based on the 1998 Disney animated feature adaptation of the story of the Chinese heroine Mulan.
China.org.cn
'Beauty and the Beast' smashes box office records
Zhang Rui

Bill Mitchell — Amazing what politics does to people

A fiscal strategy that restrains net public spending to keep the economy below the inflation barrier does not, inevitably, mean a fiscal surplus is required. In fact, a fiscal surplus would only be indicated if the economy had a very strong external surplus, the private domestic sector was saving overall at its desired level, public infrastructure and services were first-class and the economy was at full employment. 
That conjunction of events is rare.….
… a counter-cyclical fiscal strategy does not mean that the government should achieve a surplus. To think otherwise is to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the main sectoral aggregates and why they interact at various levels of economic activity.
The concept of counter-cyclicality more correctly refers to the direction of change of the aggregate. The government should certainly not be expanding its deficit if the economy is already at full capacity and it is satisfied with the private spending mix. Such an expansion would be pro-cyclical. But holding a steady deficit where the external deficit is steady and the private domestic sector is saving overall and content with that outcome is not pro-cyclical.
Under those circumstances, growth would be steady, and, hopefully, sufficient to absorb all the available capacity....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Amazing what politics does to people
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Marcia Angell — Medicare for All should replace Obamacare

Paying for Medicare for All would require an increase in taxes — perhaps an earmarked progressive income tax for the purpose — but that increase would be offset by the elimination of premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and the slowing of inflation that stems from our market-based system. 
Angell buys into the false government as business or household analogy. Of course, a medical expert could not be expected to know the difference between an issuer of a sovereign currency like the USD and those who use the currency and must obtain it since they don't issue it.

The reality is the the federal government issues its currency and its cost of capital is zero, including interest payments if government chooses to include this even though it is not necessary operationally.

The only constraint is the availability of real resources. Public investment can augment real resources  through issuance at no cost of capital. As long as real resources are available for purchase in the currency they can be deployed. There is no affordability problem.

Issues might arise where government competes with the private sector for scarce resources. That would occur at full employment if government wishes to continue to expand services.

USA Today — Opinion
Medicare for All should replace Obamacare
Marcia Angell | corresponding member of the Faculty of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Faculty Associate in the Center for Bioethics, and former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine
ht Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism

Alexander Dugin — Eurasia: A Special Worldview


Sociologist, political theorist and philosopher Alexander Dugin is a first-rate Eurasianist if not the premier one. The post is short.
Eurasia is not only a geographical concept; it is also a whole theory, system, and special worldview. Its essence lies in the following....
Eurasianist-Archive
Eurasia: A Special Worldview
Alexander Dugin
Translated by Jafe Arnold

John Helmer — Russia Lie Detector Catches Australian Prime Minister, Canadian Foreign Minister


MH17
The truth, revealed last week in Brandis’s papers, is that Brandis and Prime Minister Turnbull have been hiding what they, not Russian government officials, know about the incident. A source in Canberra close to these papers emerged following the release of this report last week. The source identified himself as privy to the classified intelligence on MH17 in the days and weeks which followed the incident. The source was also privy to the discussion in the National Security Committee of Cabinet (NSC), the topmost decision-making body in Australia for Ukraine and Russia.
According to the new disclosures, the Australian Government believed in 2014 — and Brandis and Turnbull believe still — that in the daylight hours before MH17 was shot down, Ukrainian Government military forces were using the overflight of civilian airlines in eastern Ukraine as shadow and shield for attacks against ground targets in the belief the separatist forces would not return fire for fear of hitting the civilian airliners.
The source has also revealed it was the Australian Government’s conclusion that the Kiev regime did not close the airspace in the Donbass region to civilian air traffic above the war zone because of the operational advantage Malaysian Airlines transit gave to Ukrainian Air Force operations. The Australian officials recognize this calculation to be a violation of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. The source is sure the intelligence leading to this finding was American, so the implication is that the US Government also shares the Australian finding – in secret.
The Australian officials concluded — the source has reported — that what had happened to MH17 was an unintentional accident on the part of those who fired the BUK missile. Without intention, there was no crime on the part of those on the ground, whoever they were — if they were the Novorussian separatists, or a regular Ukrainian Army missile battery, or a unit of the irregular forces paid by Igor Kolomoisky and others.
Dances with Bears
John Helmer

Andrew Batson — Fu Chengyu’s frank talk on SOE reform


For China watchers.

Andrew Batson's Blog
Fu Chengyu’s frank talk on SOE reform
Andrew Batson