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From Military-Industrial Complex to Media-Military-Industrial Complex: Review of literature

a

The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex.
 If you want to call it anything, you can call it the ‘military [industrial] media,’  The military makes money by making war;
they buy the media to promote war... The military industrial media in the United States is depending on being able to speak
to a captive audience of uninformed viewers… The military controls the media because they own them.- John Bosnitch

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"All democracies turn into dictatorships - but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea... That's the issue that I've been exploring: How did the Republic turn into the Empire ... and how does a democracy become a dictatorship? "

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas

[Mar 24, 2019] Tulsi Gabbard is less than 20K individual donations away from getting on the debate stage!

Mar 22, 2019 | twitter.com

Niko House ‏ 10:57 AM - 22 Mar 2019

Tulsi Gabbard is less than 20K individual donations away from getting on the debate stage! Help her get there by donating just $1 to her campaign!

Tulsi Gabbard ‏ 5:21 PM - 22 Mar 2019

Thank you! So far we have 44,255 unique donors of the 65,000 needed to get on the debate stage! Almost 4,000 people contributed in the last 2 days. I'm humbled by your support. Stay tuned for updates! pic.twitter.com/UOd5Ky39vf

[Mar 24, 2019] Mueller-D mmerung by C.J. Hopkins

Mar 24, 2019 | www.unz.com

If Nietzsche was right, and what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, we can thank the global capitalist ruling classes, the Democratic Party, and the corporate media for four more years of Donald Trump. The long-awaited Mueller report is due any day now, or so they keep telling us. Once it is delivered, and does not prove that Trump is a Russian intelligence asset, or that he personally conspired with Vladimir Putin to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton, well, things are liable to get a bit awkward. Given the amount of goalpost-moving and focus-shifting that has been going on, clearly, this is what everyone's expecting.

Honestly, I'm a bit surprised. I was sure they were going to go ahead and fabricate some kind of "smoking gun" evidence (like the pee-stained sheets from that Moscow hotel), or coerce one of his sleazy minions into testifying that he personally saw Trump down on his knees "colluding" Putin in the back room of a Russian sauna. After all, if you're going to accuse a sitting president of being a Russian intelligence asset, you kind of need to be able to prove it, or (a) you defeat the whole purpose of the exercise, (b) you destroy your own credibility, and (c) you present that sitting president with a powerful weapon he can use to bury you.

This is not exactly rocket science. As any seasoned badass will tell you, when you're resolving a conflict with another seasoned badass, you don't take out a gun unless you're going to use it. Taking a gun out, waving it around, and not shooting the other badass with it, is generally not a winning strategy. What often happens, if you're dumb enough to do that, is that the other badass will take your gun from you and either shoot you or beat you senseless with it.

This is what Trump is about to do with Russiagate. When the Mueller report fails to present any evidence that he "colluded" with Russia to steal the election, Trump is going to reach over, grab that report, roll it up tightly into a makeshift cudgel, and then beat the snot out of his opponents with it. He is going to explain to the American people that the Democrats, the corporate media, Hollywood, the liberal intelligentsia, and elements of the intelligence agencies conspired to try to force him out of office with an unprecedented propaganda campaign and a groundless special investigation. He is going to explain to the American people that Russiagate, from start to finish, was, in his words, a ridiculous "witch hunt," a childish story based on nothing. Then he's going to tell them a different story.

That story goes a little something like this

Back in November of 2016, the American people were so fed up with the neoliberal oligarchy that everyone knows really runs the country that they actually elected Donald Trump president. They did this fully aware that Trump was a repulsive, narcissistic ass clown who bragged about "grabbing women by the pussy" and jabbered about building "a big, beautiful wall" and making the Mexican government pay for it. They did this fully aware of the fact that Donald Trump had zero experience in any political office whatsoever, and was a loudmouth bigot, and was possibly out of his gourd on amphetamines half the time. The American people did not care. They were so disgusted with being conned by arrogant, two-faced, establishment stooges like the Clintons, the Bushes, and Barack Obama that they chose to put Donald Trump in office, because, fuck it, what did they have to lose?

The oligarchy that runs the country responded to the American people's decision by inventing a completely cock-and-bull story about Donald Trump being a Russian agent who the American people were tricked into voting for by nefarious Russian mind-control operatives, getting every organ of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years, and appointing a special prosecutor to conduct an official investigation in order to lend it the appearance of legitimacy. Every component of the ruling establishment (i.e., the government, the media, the intelligence agencies, the liberal intelligentsia, et al.) collaborated in an unprecedented effort to remove an American president from office based on a bunch of made-up horseshit which kind of amounts to an attempted soft coup.

This is the story Donald Trump is going to tell the American people.

A minority of ideological heretics on what passes for the American Left are going to help him tell this story, not because we support Donald Trump, but because we believe that the mass hysteria and authoritarian fanaticism that has been manufactured over the course of Russiagate represents a danger greater than Trump. It has reached some neo-Riefenstahlian level, this bug-eyed, spittle-flecked, cult-like behavior worse even than the mass hysteria that gripped most Americans back in 2003, when they cheered on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the murder, rape, and torture of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children based on a bunch of made-up horseshit.

We are going to be vilified, we leftist heretics, for helping Trump tell Americans this story. We are going to be denounced as Trumpenleft traitors , Putin-sympathizers, and Nazi-adjacents (as we were denounced as terrorist-sympathizers and Saddam-loving traitors back in 2003). We are going to be denounced as all these things by liberals, and by other leftists. We are going to be warned that pointing out how the government, the media, and the intelligence agencies all worked together to sell people Russiagate will only get Trump reelected, and, if that happens, it will be the End of Everything.

It will not be the End of Everything.

What might, however, be the End of Everything, or might lead us down the road to the End of Everything, is if otherwise intelligent human beings continue to allow themselves to be whipped into fits of mass hysteria and run around behaving like a mindless herd of propaganda-regurgitating zombies whenever the global capitalist ruling classes tell them that "the Russians are coming!" or that "the Nazis are coming!" or that "the Terrorists are coming!"

The Russo-Nazi Terrorists are not coming. The global capitalist ruling classes are putting down a populist insurgency , delegitimizing any and all forms of dissent from their global capitalist ideology and resistance to the hegemony of global capitalism. In the process, they are conditioning people to completely abandon their critical faculties and behave like twitching Pavlovian idiots who will obediently respond to whatever stimuli or blatantly fabricated propaganda the corporate media bombards them with.

If you want a glimpse of the dystopian future it isn't an Orwellian boot in your face. It's Invasion of the Body Snatchers . Study the Russiagate believers' reactions to the Mueller report when it is finally delivered. Observe the bizarre intellectual contortions their minds perform to rationalize their behavior over the last three years. Trust me, it will not be pretty. Cognitive dissonance never is.

Or, who knows, maybe the Russiagate gang will pull a fast one at the eleventh hour, and accuse Robert Mueller of Putinist sympathies (or appearing in that FSB video of Trump's notorious Moscow pee-party), and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the special prosecutor. That should get them through to 2020!

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23 , is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant Paperbacks. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org .

[Mar 24, 2019] Kushner, Inc Vicky Ward on How Jared and Ivanka's Greed Ambition Compromise U.S. Foreign Policy

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Vincent Masci , 2 days ago

This is clear that the Emollients Law is being broken. Kushner is making a ton of money and using over seas trips to create a larger establishment for his own empire . He is trying to make up for his big loses . This truly Breaks all laws of our Government .Using his position to make money . He needs to go ................

IFREEDOMI , 2 days ago

Our government is Israeli Occupied

friedrich nietzsche , 2 days ago

The Family Trump, the people are absolutely no shame, not 1%, to the Millions of poor Americans, on the Streets, in Tents, on Highways, under Highways!!! Ivanka Trump, she a young Women, no heart!!! No Empathy to the Millions of poor Amer.

Wake Up! , 2 days ago

It's not rocket science people! They were raised by corrupt parents and grandparents who taught them well. Children will model what their parents teach them. They are also children who are inexperienced & way over their head and very unqualified so they are overwhelmed.

[Mar 24, 2019] Ethiopian Airlines crash 'It seems amazing that Boeing have not provided the proper training' - YouTube

Notable quotes:
"... Profit before people. Computer says no! Failsafe failed. No manual over ride. Sorry folks. Say Your prayers. The problem maybe rebranded. Best case scenario. Impeccable flying from technical progress made. ..."
"... Totally unnecessary crash that was caused by cutting corners and greed. ..."
Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

leemsy lazy , 1 week ago

Imagines if Airbus was crashing in America like that.

Mulya hadi purnama , 1 week ago

Very Clearly, Unsafety... " Recall " and Grounded all Boeing Type 737 Max 8...Most Dangerous aircraft, almost 400 people's dead in 6 Months !!!

rocco decrescentis , 4 hours ago

No resignation! Like dumbbell n.45 used to say: You are fired!!

Robert Stephens , 1 day ago

When you see documentary of broken dreams. You'll be surprised as i was is that Boeing is using lithium batteries on these aircraft.

Zelalem Zemene , 1 week ago (edited)

Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best known safe reputation. Of course Indonesian Airlines is the best too. The crash was very similar after take off and dive into the ground. Boing is just protecting itself for its market.

Global Solutions , 6 days ago

Boeing needs to be sued for $2 billion for each victim of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines plus $300 billion in punitive damages, and jail time for some executives ~ they knowingly put up unsafe planes. In its early days, the 737 also had several cashes.

QECHEW , 4 days ago (edited)

Obviously Boeing knew about the shortcomings of their design in earlier stages and instead of fixing their design they chose to use a software to fix it without informing the airlines or giving pilots adequate training in order to save costs.

GH1618 , 1 week ago

What is more surprising is that the angle-of-attack sensor system is not fail-safe.

Al Bundy , 6 days ago

Did the pilot's do the mandatory operating system Flash Player updates before takeoff?

Andy Roo , 16 hours ago

Profit before people. Computer says no! Failsafe failed. No manual over ride. Sorry folks. Say Your prayers. The problem maybe rebranded. Best case scenario. Impeccable flying from technical progress made.

Kamau Phillip , 1 week ago

The American pilots complained of the same issues with the same plane model but Boeing did nothing to correct the situation why????? ???

globalvillager700 , 3 days ago

Totally unnecessary crash that was caused by cutting corners and greed.

B M , 1 week ago

Prediction: Director of the FAA will resign!

Shinrin Yoku , 1 week ago

The MC-21300 is a much better plane anyway. Why do airlines not order it I wonder.

[Mar 24, 2019] Flying the Boeing 737 Max 8 A pilot's view from inside the cockpit - YouTube

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Probir Ghosh , 5 days ago

Its a shame that Boeing didn't tell this little piece of information to the rest of the world.

Ed Estrella , 5 days ago

You're telling me that lack of knowledge is what got over 300 people killed.... Beyond disturbing..

KimsonJohn , 5 days ago

Ipad course GTFOH! This is no cooking recipe. ..it's people's lives!

Weez naz , 5 days ago

56 minutes with an iPad lesson... Jesus Christ

sando wando , 1 day ago (edited)

PR stunt proudly paid by Boeing after being in bed with the WP. 😤

John S , 5 days ago

This piece of PR brought to you by Boeing!

Carl Johnson , 5 days ago

Nice ad after two crashes in less than six months

David Njabia , 5 days ago (edited)

Boeing must be lobbying really hard and it's a shame that a respectable entity like Washington Post is helping the narrative to shift the blame to pilots who are now dead. If it's a Boeing, I'll have second thoughts.

Tewoflos Telahun , 5 days ago

This video is brought to you by Boeing ! Please, Washington Post, be less biased next time.

lucius1976 , 5 days ago

1:39 MCAS = Mass Coffin Automation System

Jason L , 2 days ago

'commitment' OH PLEASE.....america was the last to ground their 737s.

Ab Xarbi , 15 hours ago

I tried to show this video to an Ethiopian, and he almost killed me.

MrXperx , 4 days ago

1. Boeing wanted a new plane with larger enginers but without spending money on a new fuselage. 2. Sold their planes to customers saying that Max type is same as the NG and that no cost is involved for retraining pilots. 3. Make the MCAS system so that the new and plane and old plane feel theoretically same to the pilot. 4. Not tell pilots about MCAS or hide critical details about the system. 5. 300+ people dead. I hope the Boeing management can sleep well knowing they have blood on their hands.

Stephen Courton , 5 days ago

Sounds like they created a dangerously unstable craft that requires a computer system to keep from stalling. Even if pilot turns off plane may have already got in situation hard to recover from manually especially near ground. Two planes found this out.

scrimmo , 21 hours ago

Time for Boeing and FAA officials to be locked up

ludovicoC , 2 days ago

To paraphrase Dr. Strangelove: "The whole point of the [MCAS] is lost IF YOU KEEP IT A SECRET! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL THE [PILOTS], EH

[Mar 24, 2019] US Transport Department Looks Into Boeing 737 Max 8's Approval

Mar 20, 2019 | www.youtube.com

US Transport Department Looks Into Boeing 737 Max 8's Approval | al Jazeera English

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ge8v5cIxm0

New investigations are starting into the certification of the Boeing 737 Max 8 after two fatal crashes in less than six months.


Damon Reynolds , 3 days ago

At the root of almost every problem today is 'cost cutting' for short term profits to satisfy roaming vulture capitalist greed. Why is the FAA 'under funded'? Why is it 'too expensive' to give pilots the sim time they need even after hundeds of people are dead??

Ardhi Adhary Arbain , 3 days ago

Ask manufacturer's engineers to check the plane for their own certification? That's crazy.

srinivas reddy , 3 days ago

I think boeing, FAA and US are working for each other I feel no surprise if they find no wrong doing

MVE , 3 days ago

profit over safety, that's what it is all about

DJ DA VINCI , 3 days ago

Did u know that when u turn off the MCAS it reset itself back on. Victims family should sue Boeing and the FAA till their last dime.

MegaTriumph1 , 3 days ago

Engines too far forward wings too swept back computer and pilot can't find center of balance and it piledrives into earth, its not a mystery. If I wanted to take a perfectly good 737 and turn it into an unflyable plane, well they did it.

Major Skies , 3 days ago

Just fix the auto pilot issue. Also, what in all of God's green earth? Pilots only learned about flying this new model with just textual information? No simulation? No wounder pilots of both airlines were confound by the conflicting warnings blaring at them in the cockpit.

GreenStorm01 , 3 days ago

First.

dinesh prabhu , 3 days ago

Ha ha ha there is no money for the faa, but the government had enough money to go on a bombing run around the world. So now who is responsible ? Boeing faa or other aviation authorities like the icao or others ? Who is going to be jailed for this mass murdering? Since they have accepted it so the faa chief should be put behind bars for lying about the inspection and the certificate !!!!!!

[Mar 24, 2019] FAA 'dropped ball' on Boeing 737 Max 8 - official - YouTube

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

MseeF , 5 days ago

I'm amazed that this hasn't been blamed on Russia or China yet?

MRod , 5 days ago

All government agencies in the U.S. answer to the Corporations.

Juniper lane , 5 days ago (edited)

The pilots made the complaints about the problems these planes are facing but FAA choose to ignore them. When money and stocks is involved than these parasites don't care about human lives. This lead to two deadly crash in five months. They know if another plane crash happened than the media will tear them apart with bare hands.

sex slave Pete , 5 days ago

Profits over lives, gotta make that $$$ no matter how many people die.

punchdogggy , 5 days ago (edited)

FAA Is complicit with Boeing the system drops the ball INTENTIONALLY

Tj Smyth , 5 days ago

Follow the money!!!

clarence midgett , 5 days ago

It's called keeping Boeing's stock's from doing the same thing as their planes do, crashing, know this, it's all about the Almighty Dollar, know that

MseeF , 5 days ago

A country of laws; can those laws be blind?

00Billy , 5 days ago

Amazing that a plane with single point failure is certified.

Sean Yee , 4 days ago

America is a country of law? FAA has been holding this up and denying any fault about this 737 max 8 issue. If not more and more countries around the world grounding Boeing 737, FAA will still side Boeing that the plane is 100% safe. And look at the Huawei case, America have no evidence yet they still can extradite out of an international zone to their country with this Canadian crook gang up together and Australia and New Zealand.

Simon Sea , 5 days ago

Plane crashes are a favourite weapon of the deep state to wipe out any threat someone on board has information on it.

R Coyote , 2 days ago

FAA is directly to blame.... They are the people that certify an aircraft to be airworthy! There are many aircraft that can't fly without computer assist... FAA's job is to deem them safe as designed, they are the last line of defence!

Peter Plantcity , 5 days ago

Questions about Boeing you will never hear on MSNBC .

Edilberto Lopez , 2 days ago

It appears that Boeing in their efforts to compete and tonmodernxe it's 737 fleet has produced a kamikaze passenger planes driven not by pilots but by mcas and suicidal computers

Janet Baker , 5 days ago (edited)

It's not the FAA fault? Are you blind as well as deaf as well as choked on the government Kool-Aid? Of course the FAA is to be accused as well as Boeing. If Boeing lied to them then the FAA needs to take them to court. Otherwise it is complicit in this matter.

Aero FPV , 2 days ago

Aero FPV 21 hours ago I think its worse than Boeing has us believing. An unbalanced aircraft requiring a secretive software to fly normal oh and don't tell the pilots about it. Hmmm

jbcomics , 5 days ago (edited)

Dave Rubin- " just let the airlines regulate themselves brrruuhh! Free Markets bruhhh!"

Dwayne Munar , 5 days ago

The Trump administration is inept and criminal!

IAF Jaihind , 2 days ago

Corporate greed was the outcome of 737 max 8 to compete with a320neo. Shortcuts taken by Boeing cost 400 lives. So decision makers of this aircraft type must cost them their jobs!

None Ya , 2 days ago (edited)

That "The FAA doesn't have the resources" line doesn't sell for me. I think it has much more to do with corporate influence in government. This country has gone soft fascist. The corporate tail is wagging the government watch dog. Could you imagine the outcry if the public found out about The TWA Flight #800 coverup? And, that's just one example. Corporations want to keep the public spending and confident in air travel. And, no terrorist act or software design defect is going to stop the government, media and corporations from selling air travel.

george movies , 1 day ago

Boeing and FAA, the are Criminals for certified it. Guilty of first degree murder. MCAS = Mass Crash Automatic System

WA9KZY , 3 days ago

The quality control issues go back to the 737 NG. Dropped the ball or turned a blind eye?

Richard Petek , 14 hours ago

3:55 It stops where? At the president's desk?And not at the desk of the manager of FAA? It should have been a professional question, not a political one! This shows even more that not only the FAA is in the bed with Boeing, the whole government, including the president is!

don brassco , 2 days ago

Great wording:Fox guarding the hen house😈

Tubmaster 5000 , 3 hours ago

When industry is allowed to regulate itself.

Jeff Bell , 3 days ago

FAA didn't drop the ball, they didn't even turn up for the match.

Todd Clay , 5 days ago

We all know this is a result of Wall St pressure because Airbus released a new plane.

Agape Aman , 2 days ago

To think a formula 1 car is more safer than a commercial public transport.

K. A. P. , 5 days ago

The FFA didn't drop the ball someone was paid off and knew the plane was not safe. That's the American way nowadays.

Min Wong , 5 days ago

how the hell the MCAS was not included in the flight manual to begin with? Who signed the Type Certificate?

steve wong , 5 days ago

the expertise doesnt seem that good after all

Sihar Tobing , 3 days ago

With Respecful Sir, Public Voice Just Wont Boeing Have Good And Safety Passenger Flight Not To Discredit Boeing Airline Company, Before I" Thank You Sir, ..... Cherrio02*.

James Vibzs Abba , 5 days ago

It's not the FAA faults really...u sound a dicky

Dexter Haven , 1 day ago

A computer override system is necessary to overcome a serious design flaw. That is, engines too large for the old 737 frame. Does any other plane by any manufacturer have this kind of problem?

DJ Goggy , 1 day ago

Ex Boeing execs gotta keep the door open to those cushy FAA jobs. One hand scratches the other.

V Philip , 3 days ago

Fox guarding hen house 🤣 killing people.

brian niziol , 2 days ago

It is a Boeing and FAA problem. Not airbus or anyone else. The FAA is tilting the playing field for American manufactures. That is the impression here.

christopher hennessey , 3 days ago (edited)

Remember, whistle blowers are subject to retaliation ,and everything is done to discredit them.

Shaune Huolohan , 3 days ago

Once a design get a certain age, with many modifications should they have to be reevaluated ? Certified to fly?

tesfu tewoldberhan , 17 hours ago

boeing have a blood in their hand...innocent victems of the ethiopian and indonesian crash has to blamed on greedy boeing company ,, may their soul rest in peace..rip victems of both max 8 crash ...

[Mar 23, 2019] Killing for Credibility A Look Back at the 1999 NATO Air War on Serbia by Brett Wilkins

Mar 23, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia. It was a war waged as much against Serbian civilians – hundreds of whom perished – as it was against Slobodan Milošević's forces, and it was a campaign of breathtaking hypocrisy and selective outrage. More than anything, it was a war that by President Bill Clinton's own admission was fought for the sake of NATO's credibility.

One Man's Terrorist

Our story begins not in the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s but rather in the howling wilderness of Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s as defeated Soviet invaders withdrew from a decade of guerrilla warfare into the twilight of a once-mighty empire. The United States, which had provided arms, funding and training for the mujahideen fighters who had so bravely resisted the Soviet occupation, stopped supporting the jihadis as soon as the last Red Army units rolled across the Hairatan Bridge and back into the USSR. Afghanistan descended deeper into civil war.

The popular narrative posits that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, Washington's former mujahideen allies, turned on the West after the US stationed hundreds of thousands of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia – home to two out of three of Sunni Islam's holiest sites – during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Since then, the story goes, the relationship between the jihadists and their former benefactors has been one of enmity, characterized by sporadic terror attacks and fierce US retribution. The real story, however, is something altogether different.

From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen, often accompanied by US Special Forces, from Central Asia to Europe to reinforce Bosnian Muslims as they fought Serbs to gain their independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration armed and trained these fighters in flagrant violation of United Nations accords; weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran were secretly shipped to the jihadists via Croatia, which netted a hefty profit from each transaction. The official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which thousands of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb and Serbian paramilitary forces, concluded that the United States was "very closely involved" in these arms transfers.

When the Bosnian war ended in 1995 the United States was faced with the problem of thousands of Islamist warriors on European soil. Many of them joined the burgeoning Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which mainly consisted of ethnic Albanian Kosovars from what was still southwestern Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the success of the Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians and Bosnians who had won their independence from Belgrade as Yugoslavia literally balkanized, KLA fighters began to violently expel as many non-Albanians from Kosovo as they could. Roma, Jews, Turks and, above all, Serbs were all victims of Albanian ethnic cleansing.

The United States was initially very honest in its assessment of the KLA. Robert Gelbard, the US special envoy to Bosnia, called it "without any question a terrorist group." KLA backers allegedly included Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals; the group largely bankrolled its activities by trafficking heroin and sex slaves. The State Department accordingly added the KLA to its list of terrorist organizations in 1998.

However, despite all its nastiness the KLA endeared itself to Washington by fighting the defiant Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević. By this time Yugoslavia, once composed of eight nominally autonomous republics, had been reduced by years of bloody civil war to a rump of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To Serbs, the dominant ethnic group in what remained of the country, Kosovo is regarded as the very birthplace of their nation. Belgrade wasn't about to let it go without a fight and everyone knew it, especially the Clinton administration. Clinton's hypocrisy was immediately evident; when Chechnya fought for its independence from Moscow and Russian forces committed horrific atrocities in response, the American president called the war an internal Russian affair and barely criticized Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But when Milošević resorted to brute force in an attempt to prevent Yugoslavia from further fracturing, he soon found himself a marked man.

Although NATO called the KLA "the main initiator of the violence" in Kosovo and blasted "what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation" against the Serbs, the Clinton administration was nevertheless determined to attack the Milošević regime. US intelligence confirmed that the KLA was indeed provoking harsh retaliatory strikes by Serb forces in a bid to draw the United States and NATO into the conflict. President Clinton, however, apparently wasn't listening. The NATO powers, led by the United States, issued Milošević an ultimatum they knew he could never accept: allow NATO to occupy all of Kosovo and have free reign in Serbia as well. Assistant US Secretary of State James Rubin later admitted that "publicly we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing were quite small."

Wagging the Dog?

In 1997 the film Wag the Dog debuted to rave reviews. The dark comedy concerns a Washington, DC spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a fictional war in Albania to distract American voters from a presidential sex scandal. Many observers couldn't help but draw parallels between the film and the real-life events of 1998-99, which included the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's impeachment and a very real war brewing in the Balkans. As in Wag the Dog , there were exaggerated or completely fabricated tales of atrocities, and as in the film the US and NATO powers tried to sell their war as a humanitarian intervention. An attack on Yugoslavia, we were told, was needed to avert Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians.

There were two main problems with this. First, there was no Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars until after NATO began mercilessly bombing Yugoslavia. The German government issued several reports confirming this. One, from October 1998, reads, in part:

The violent actions of the Yugoslav military and police since February 1998 were aimed at separatist activities and are no proof of a persecution of the whole Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo or a part of it. What was involved in the Yugoslav violent actions and excesses since February 1998 was a selective forcible action against the military underground movement (especially the KLA) A state program or persecution aimed at the whole ethnic group of Albanians exists neither now nor earlier.

Subsequent German government reports issued through the winter of 1999 tell a similar story. "Events since February and March 1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity," stated one report released exactly one month before the NATO bombing started. "The measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed toward combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters."

While Serbs certainly did commit atrocities (especially after the ferocious NATO air campaign began), these were often greatly exaggerated by the Clinton administration and the US corporate mainstream media. Clinton claimed – and the media dutifully parroted – that 600,000 Albanians were "trapped within Kosovo lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves." This was completely false . US diplomat David Scheffer claimed that "225,000 ethnic Albanian men are missing, presumed dead." Again, a total fabrication . The FBI, International War Crimes Tribunal and global forensics experts flocked to Kosovo in droves after the NATO bombs stopped falling; the total number of victims they found was around 1 percent of the figure claimed by the United States.

However, once NATO attacked, the Serb response was predictably furious. Shockingly, NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark declared that the ensuing Serbian atrocities against the Albanian Kosovar population had been "fully anticipated" and were apparently of little concern to Washington. Not only did NATO and the KLA provoke a war with Yugoslavia, they did so knowing that many innocent civilians would be killed, maimed or displaced by the certain and severe reprisals carried out by enraged Serb forces. Michael McGwire, a former top NATO planner, acknowledged that "to describe the bombing as a humanitarian intervention is really grotesque."

Bloody Hypocrites

The other big problem with the US claiming it was attacking Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds was that the Clinton administration had recently allowed – and was at the time allowing – far worse humanitarian catastrophes to rage without American intervention. More than 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered while Clinton and other world leaders stood idly by during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The US also courted the medievally brutal Taliban regime in hopes of achieving stability in Afghanistan and with an eye toward building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Clinton also did nothing to stop Russian forces from viciously crushing nationalist uprisings in the Caucuses, where Chechen rebels were fighting for their independence much the same as Albanian Kosovars were fighting the Serbs.

Colombia, the Western Hemisphere's leading recipient of US military and economic aid, was waging a fierce, decades-long campaign of terror against leftist insurgents and long-suffering indigenous peoples. Despite horrific brutality and pervasive human rights violations, US aid to Bogotá increased year after year. In Turkey, not only did Clinton do nothing to prevent government forces from committing widespread atrocities against Kurdish separatists, the administration positively encouraged its NATO ally with billions of dollars in loans and arms sales. Saudi Arabia, home to the most repressive fundamentalist regime this side of Afghanistan, was – and remains – a favored US ally despite having one of the world's worst human rights records. The list goes on and on.

Much closer to the conflict at hand, the United States tacitly approved the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe since the Holocaust when as many as 200,000 Serbs were forcibly expelled from the Krajina region of Croatia by that country's US-trained military during Operation Storm in August 1995. Krajina Serbs had purged the region of its Croat minority four years earlier in their own ethnic cleansing campaign; now it was the Serbs' turn to be on the receiving end of the horror. Croatian forces stormed through Krajina, shelling towns and slaughtering innocent civilians. The sick and the elderly who couldn't escape were executed or burned alive in their homes as Croatian soldiers machine-gunned convoys of fleeing refugees.

"Painful for the Serbs"

Washington's selective indignation at Serb crimes both real and imagined is utterly inexcusable when held up to the horrific and seemingly indiscriminate atrocities committed during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. The prominent Australian journalist John Pilger noted that "in the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets, the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches and broadcast studios." There is little doubt that US and allied warplanes and missiles were targeting the Serbian people as much as, or even more than, Serb forces. The bombing knocked out electricity in 70 percent of the country as well as much of its water supply.

NATO warplanes also deliberately bombed a building containing the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle of densely populated central Belgrade. The April 23, 1999 attack occurred without warning while 200 employees were at work in the building. Among the 16 people killed were a makeup artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor and three security guards. There is no doubt that the attack was meant to demoralize the Serbian people. There is also no doubt that those who ordered the bombing knew exactly what outcome to expect: a NATO planning document viewed by Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac forecast as many as 350 deaths in the event of such an attack, with as many as 250 of the victims expected to be innocent civilians living in nearby apartments.

Allied commanders wanted to fight a "zero casualty war" in Yugoslavia. As in zero casualties for NATO forces, not the people they were bombing. "This will be painful for the Serbs," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon sadistically predicted. It sure was. NATO warplanes flew sorties at 15,000 feet (4,500 meters), a safe height for the pilots. But this decreased accuracy and increased civilian casualties on the ground. One attack on central Belgrade mistakenly hit Dragiša Mišović hospital with a laser-guided "precision" bomb, obliterating an intensive care unit and destroying a children's ward while wounding several pregnant women who had the misfortune of being in labor at the time of the attack. Dragana Krstić, age 23, was recovering from cancer surgery – she just had a 10-pound (4.5 kg) tumor removed from her stomach – when the bombs blew jagged shards of glass into her neck and shoulders. "I don't know which hurts more," she lamented, "my stomach, my shoulder or my heart."

Dragiša Mišović wasn't the only hospital bombed by NATO. Cluster bombs dropped by fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force struck a hospital and a market in the city of Niš on May 7, killing 15 people and wounding 60 more. An emergency clinic and medical dispensary were also bombed in the mining town of Aleksinac on April 6, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more.

Bridges were favorite targets of NATO bombing. An international passenger train traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece was blown apart by two missiles as it crossed over Grdelica gorge on April 12. Children and a pregnant woman were among the 15 people killed in the attack; 16 other passengers were wounded. Allied commander Gen. Wesley Clark claimed the train, which had been damaged by the first missile, had been traveling too rapidly for the pilot to abort the second strike on the bridge. He then offered up a doctored video that was sped up more than three times so that the pilot's behavior would appear acceptable.

On May 1, at least 24 civilians, many of them children, were killed when NATO warplanes bombed a bridge in Lužane just as a bus was crossing. An ambulance rushing to the scene of the carnage was struck by a second bomb. On the sunny spring afternoon of May 30, a bridge over the Velika Morava River in the small town of Vavarin was bombed by low-flying German Air Force F-16 fighters while hundreds of local residents gathered nearby to celebrate an Orthodox Christian holiday. Eleven people died, most of them when the warplanes returned and bombed the people who rushed to the bridge to help those wounded in the first strike.

No One Is Safe

The horrors suffered by the villagers of Surdulica shows that no one in Serbia was safe from NATO's fury. They endured some 175 bombardments during one three-week period alone, with 50 houses destroyed and 600 others damaged in a town with only around 10,000 residents. On April 27, 20 civilians, including 12 children, died when bombs meant to destroy an army barracks slammed into a residential neighborhood. As many as 100 others were wounded in the incident. Tragedy befell the tiny town again on May 31 when NATO warplanes returned to bomb an ammunition depot but instead hit an old people's home; 23 civilians, most of them helpless elderly men and women, were blown to pieces. Dozens more were wounded. The US military initially said "there were no errant weapons" in the attack. However, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre later testified before Congress that it "was a case of the pilot getting confused."

The CIA was also apparently confused when it relied on what it claimed was an outdated map to approve a Stealth Bomber strike on what turned out to be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other people were wounded. Some people aren't so sure the attack was an accident – Britain's Observer later reported that the US deliberately bombed the embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.

There were plenty of other accidents, some of them horrifically tragic and others just downright bizarre. Two separate attacks on the very Albanians NATO was claiming to help killed 160 people, many of them women and children. On April 14, NATO warplanes bombed refugees along a 12-mile (19-km) stretch of road between the towns of Gjakova and Deçan in western Kosovo, killing 73 people including 16 children and wounding 36 more. Journalists reported a grisly scene of "bodies charred or blown to pieces, tractors reduced to twisted wreckage and houses in ruins." Exactly one month later, another column of refugees was bombed near Koriša, killing 87 – mostly women, children and the elderly – and wounding 60 others. In the downright bizarre category, a wildly errant NATO missile struck a residential neighborhood in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, some 40 miles (64 km) outside of Serbia. The American AGM-88 HARM missile blew the roof off of a man's house while he was shaving in his bathroom.

NATO's "Murderous Thugs"

As the people of Yugoslavia were being terrorized by NATO's air war, the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army stepped up their atrocities against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. NATO troops deployed there to keep the peace often failed to protect these people from the KLA's brutal campaign. More than 164,000 Serbs fled or were forcibly driven from the Albanian-dominated province and by the summer of 2001 KLA ethnic cleansing had rendered Kosovo almost entirely Albanian, with just a few die-hard Serb holdouts living in fear and surrounded by barbed wire.

The KLA soon expanded its war into neighboring Macedonia. Although NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the terror group "murderous thugs," the United States – now with George W. Bush as president – continued to offer its invaluable support. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice personally intervened in an attempt to persuade Ukraine to halt arms sales to the Macedonian army and when a group of 400 KLA fighters were surrounded at Aracinovo in June 2001, NATO ordered Macedonian forces to hold off their attack while a convoy of US Army vehicles rescued the besieged militants. It later emerged that 17 American military advisers were embedded with the KLA at Aracinovo.

Credibility Conundrum

The bombing of Yugoslavia was really about preserving the credibility of the United States and NATO. The alliance's saber rattling toward Belgrade had painted it into a corner from which the only way out was with guns blazing. Failure to follow threats with deadly action, said President Clinton, "would discredit NATO." Clinton added that "our mission is clear, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose." The president seemed willfully ignorant of NATO's real purpose, which is to defend member states from outside attack. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Clinton, declaring on the eve of the war that "to walk away now would destroy NATO's credibility." Gary Dempsey, a foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote that the Clinton administration "transformed a conflict that posed no threat to the territorial integrity, national sovereignty or general welfare of the United States into a major test of American resolve."

Waging or prolonging war for credibility's sake is always dangerous and seems always to yield disastrous results. Tens of thousands of US troops and many times as many Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian soldiers and civilians died while Richard Nixon sought an "honorable" way out of Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's dogged defense of US credibility cost the lives of 299 American and French troops killed in Hezbollah's 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. This time, ensuring American credibility meant backing the vicious KLA – some of whose fighters had trained at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that al-Qaeda had already been responsible for deadly attacks against the United States, including the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

It is highly questionable whether bombing Yugoslavia affirmed NATO's credibility in the short term. In the long term, it certainly did not. The war marked the first and only time NATO had ever attacked a sovereign state. It did so unilaterally, absent any threat to any member nation, and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. "If NATO can go for military action without international blessing, it calls into question the reliability of NATO as a security partner," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, then Moscow's ambassador to NATO, told me at a San Francisco reception.

Twenty years later, Operation Allied force has been all but forgotten in the United States. In a country that has been waging nonstop war on terrorism for almost the entire 21st century, the 1999 NATO air war is but a footnote in modern American history. Serbs, however, still seethe at the injustice and hypocrisy of it all. The bombed-out ruins of the old Yugoslav Ministry of Defense, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters and other buildings serve as constant, painful reminders of the horrors endured by the Serbian people in service of NATO's credibility.

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based author and activist. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com

Read more by Brett Wilkins

[Mar 23, 2019] Boeing Crapification 737 MAX Play-by-Play, Regulatory Capture, and When Will CEO Muilenburg Become the Sacrificial Victim by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... "It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained. ..."
"... Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling. ..."
"... Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. ..."
"... The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below. ..."
"... Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash. ..."
"... Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification": ..."
"... In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said. ..."
"... (Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More: ..."
"... The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient. ..."
"... The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes. ..."
"... Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.). ..."
"... Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing . ..."
"... In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing . ..."
"... It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. ..."
"... The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing. ..."
"... Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence. ..."
"... I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes. ..."
"... This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders. ..."
"... The moral: Neoliberalism Kills. ..."
"... Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die. ..."
"... > "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane." ..."
"... As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft. ..."
"... "This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes." ..."
"... Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities. ..."
"... that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. ..."
"... In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling. ..."
"... Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air." ..."
"... Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes. ..."
"... The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing ..."
"... Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers. ..."
"... The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry. ..."
"... I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality. ..."
"... Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual ..."
"... Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced. ..."
"... The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths. ..."
"... Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial. ..."
"... "The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence. ..."
"... That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)). ..."
"... Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS): ..."
"... This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior. ..."
"... authority would revert to the pilot ..."
"... How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company? ..."
"... President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S." ..."
"... Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA . ..."
"... we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.) ..."
"... Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal. ..."
"... Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run. ..."
"... Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.* ..."
"... know your customer ..."
"... Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary: ..."
"... this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. ..."
"... The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/ ..."
Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

At some point in the future, I'd like to do failure matrix for the pathways to misfortune ( example of such a matrix here ) that precipitated two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes on take-off in five months , but I don't feel that I have enough information yet. (I'm not unsympathathetic to the view that the wholesale 737 MAX grounding was premature on technical grounds , but then trade and even geopolitical factors enter in, given that Boeing is a "national champion.") We do not yet have results from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders of either aircraft, for example. But what we do know is sufficiently disturbing -- a criminal investigation into Boeing had already been initiated after the Lion Air crash, but before the Ethiopian Airlines crash -- that I think it's worthwhile doing a play-by-play on the causes of the crashes, so far as we can know them. About that criminal investigation :

According to the Wall Street Journal, a Washington D.C. grand jury issued a March 11 subpoena requesting emails, correspondence, and other messages from at least one person involved in the development of the aircraft.

"It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained.

"Nobody knows the answer to that yet," Rosenberg cautioned, adding that he had not yet seen the Justice Department's subpoena and therefore could not know its full scope.

Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling.

Bloomberg comments :

A possible criminal investigation during an aircraft accident investigation is highly unusual . While airline accidents have at times raised criminal issues, such as after the 1996 crash of a ValuJet plane in the Florida Everglades, such cases are the exception.

Before we get to the play-by-play, one more piece of background: CEO Dennis Muilenburg's latest PR debacle, entitled " Letter from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to Airlines, Passengers and the Aviation Community ." The most salient material:

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone. This overarching focus on safety spans and binds together our entire global aerospace industry and communities. We're united with our airline customers, international regulators and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation, understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies. Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we're taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet's grounding.

Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, and we'll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots. This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer .

Soon we'll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.

Fine words. Are they true? Can Boeing's "commitment to everyone to ensure " safe and reliable travel" really be said to be "absolute"? That's a high bar. Let's see!

I've taken the structure that follows from a tweetstorm by Trevor Sumner (apparently derived from a Facebook post by his brother-law, Dave Kammeyer ). However, I've added topic headings, changed others, and helpfully numbered them all, so you can correct, enhance, or rearrange topics easily in comments (or even suggest new topics). Let me also caveat that this is an enormous amount of material, and time presses, so this will not be as rich in links as I would normally like it to be. Also note that the level of abstraction for each topic varies significantly: From "The Biosphere" all the way to "Pilot Training." A proper failure matrix would sort that out.

* * *

(1) The Biosphere : The 737 MAX story beings with a customer requirement for increased fuel efficiency. This is, at bottom, a carbon issue (and hence a greenhouse gas issue , especially as the demand for air travel increases, especially in Asia). New biosphere-driven customer demands will continue to emerge as climate change increases and intensifies, and hence the continued 737 MAX-like debacles should be expected, all else being equal. From CAPA – Centre for Aviation :

The main expected impacts of climate change on aviation result from changes in temperature, precipitation (rain and snow), storm patterns, sea level and wind patterns. In addition, climate change is expected to lead to increased drought, impacts on the supply of water and energy, and changes in wildlife patterns and biodiversity. Consequences for aviation include reduced aircraft performance, changing demand patterns, potential damage to infrastructure, loss of capacity and schedule disruption.

All of these factors will affect aircraft design, manufacturing, maintenance, and use, stressing the system.

(2) Choice of Airframe : The Air Current describes the competitive environment that led Boeing to upgrade the 737 to the 737 MAX, instead of building a new plane:

Boeing wanted to replace the 737. The plan had even earned the endorsement of its now-retired chief executive. We're gonna do a new airplane," Jim McNerney said in February of that same year. "We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade." History went in a different direction. Airbus, riding its same decades-long incremental strategy and chipping away at Boeing's market supremacy, had made no secret of its plans to put new engines on the A320. But its own re-engineered jet somehow managed to take Boeing by surprise. Airbus and American forced Boeing's hand. It had to put new engines on the 737 to stay even with its rival .

Why? The earlier butchered launch of the 787:

Boeing justified the decision thusly: There were huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles on its way to a new single-aisle airplane. In the summer of 2011, the 787 Dreamliner wasn't yet done after billions invested and years of delays. More than 800 airplanes later here in 2019, each 787 costs less to build than sell, but it's still running a $23 billion production cost deficit. .

The 737 Max was Boeing's ticket to holding the line on its position "both market and financial" in the near term. Abandoning the 737 would've meant walking away from its golden goose that helped finance the astronomical costs of the 787 and the development of the 777X.

So, we might think of Boeing as a runner who's tripped and fallen: The initial stumble, followed by loss of balance, was the 787; with the 737 MAX, Boeing hit the surface of the track.

(3) Aerodynamic Issues : The Air Current also describes the aerodynamic issues created by the decision to re-engine the 737:

Every airplane development is a series of compromises, but to deliver the 737 Max with its promised fuel efficiency, Boeing had to fit 12 gallons into a 10 gallon jug. Its bigger engines made for creative solutions as it found a way to mount the larger CFM International turbines under the notoriously low-slung jetliner. It lengthened the nose landing gear by eight inches, cleaned up the aerodynamics of the tail cone, added new winglets, fly-by-wire spoilers and big displays for the next generation of pilots. It pushed technology, as it had done time and time again with ever-increasing costs, to deliver a product that made its jets more-efficient and less-costly to fly.

In the case of the 737 Max, with its nose pointed high in the air, the larger engines "generating their own lift" nudged it even higher. The risk Boeing found through analysis and later flight testing was that under certain high-speed conditions both in wind-up turns and wings-level flight, that upward nudge created a greater risk of stalling. Its solution was MCAS , the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System control law that would allow for both generations of 737 to behave the same way. MCAS would automatically trim the horizontal stabilizer to bring the nose down, activated with Angle of Attack data. It's now at the center of the Lion Air investigation and stalking the periphery of the Ethiopian crash.

(4) Systems Engineering : Amazingly, there is what in a less buttoned-down world that commercial aviation would be called a Boeing 737 fan site, which describes the MCAS system in more technical terms :

MCAS was introduced to counteract the pitch up effect of the LEAP-1B engines at high AoA [Angle of Attack]. The engines were both larger and relocated slightly up and forward from the previous NG CFM56-7 engines to accomodate their larger diameter. This new location and size of the nacelle causes it to produce lift at high AoA; as the nacelle is ahead of the CofG [Center of Gravity] this causes a pitch-up effect which could in turn further increase the AoA and send the aircraft closer towards the stall. MCAS was therefore introduced to give an automatic nose down stabilizer input during steep turns with elevated load factors (high AoA) and during flaps up flight at airspeeds approaching stall.

Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. Reading between the lines (I've helpfully labeled the pain points):

Boeing have been working on a software modification to MCAS since the Lion Air accident. Unfortunately although originally due for release in January it has still not been released due to both engineering challenges and differences of opinion among some federal and company safety experts over how extensive the changes should be.

Apparently there have been discussions about potentially adding [A] enhanced pilot training and possibly mandatory [B] cockpit alerts to the package. There also has been consideration of more-sweeping design changes that would prevent [C] faulty signals from a single sensor from touching off the automated stall-prevention system.

[A] Pilot training was originally not considered necessary, because MCAS was supposed to give 737 MAX the same flight characteristics as earlier 737s; that's why pilots weren't told about it. (This also kept the price low.) [B] Such alerts exist now, as part of an optional package, which Lion did not buy. [C] The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below.

(The MCAS system is currently the system fingered as the cause of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes; we won't know for sure until the forensics are complete. Here, however, is the scenario for an MCAS-induced crash :

Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash.

(5) Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification":

The FAA's publication of pilot training requirements for the Max 8 in the fall of 2017 was among the final steps in a multiyear approval process carried out under the agency's now 10-year-old policy of entrusting Boeing and other aviation manufacturers to certify that their own systems comply with U.S. air safety regulations.

In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said.

(Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More:

The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient.

Four years after self-certification began, fires aboard Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jets led to the grounding of the fleet and a wave of questions about whether self-certification had affected the FAA's oversight.

Why "self-certification"? Investigative reporting from the Seattle Times -- the article is worth reading in full -- explains:

The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.

Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.).

(6) Transfer of Authority to Boeing : In the case of the 737 Max, regulatory capture was so great that certification authority was transferred to Boeing. In order to be certified, a "System Safety Analysis" for MCAS had to be performed. The Seattle Times :

The safety analysis:

Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane's nose downward. Assessed a failure of the system as one level below "catastrophic."

But even that "hazardous" danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor -- and yet that's how it was designed.

So who certified MCAS? Boeing self-certified it. Once again The Seattle Times :

Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing .

"There wasn't a complete and proper review of the documents," the former engineer added. "Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates."

In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing .

(I'm skipping a lengthy discussion of even more technical detail for MCAS, which includes discrepancies between what Boeing self-certified, and what the FAA thought that it had certified, along with the MCAS system acting like a ratchet, so it didn't reset itself, meaning that each time it kicked in, the nose was pitched down even lower. Yikes. Again, the article is worth reading in full; if you've ever done tech doc, you'll want to scream and run.)

(7) Political Economy : This tweet is especially interesting, because even I know that Muddy Waters Research is a famous short seller:

MuddyWatersResearch ‏ Verified account @ muddywatersre Mar 18

What's the result? Two $ BA planes have been grounded: 787 and Max. Last FAA grounding of a type of plane was 1979. In the case of the Max, FAA outsourced more than planned bc BA was 9 months behind Airbus 320neo 3/4 2 replies 4 retweets 19 likes

This is a great example of real short-termism by a corporate. It's clearly in $ BA LT interest to have robust cert system, but those chickens come home to roost years later, allowing mgmt to meet ST expectations. BTW, semi-annual reporting would do NOTHING to fix this mentality. 4

And here we are! There are a myriad of other details, but many of them will only prove out once the black boxes are examined and the forensics are complete.

* * *

It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. I understand that commercial aviation is a business, but if that is so, then Muilenburg's claim that Boeing's commitment to safety is "absolute" cannot possibly be true; indeed, the choice to re-engine the 737 had nothing to do with safety. Self-certification makes Boeing "a judge in its own cause," and that clearly contradicts Muilenburg's absurd claim that "safety" -- as opposed to profit -- "is at the core of who we are."

The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing.


John A , , March 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Maybe they should have appointed aviation expert Nikki Haley to the Boeing board earlier.

Yikes , , March 19, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Sacrificial Victims were spread over land and sea in Kenya and Indonesia. Muilenburg and Obbie The Wan both are the criminals who profit.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 4:36 pm

That should be "five months" not "five weeks" in the first sentence. Lion Air crashed on 29 October 2018.

Howard Beale IV , , March 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

IIRC, one of the big constraints that was leveled was the need to keep the 737, regardless of version, into the same height relative to all other generations of the 737, whereas Airbus kept their height a lot higher than the 737.

If you look at many 737's over the years, some of the engine's nacelles were flat at the bottom to accommodate larger engine. Why? Boeing kept the height the same in order to maintain built-in stairs that, with virtually all airports having adjustable jetways, was basically redundant.

When you compare an A320xeo against a B737, you'll find that the Airbus rides higher when it comes to the jetways.

Michael Hudson , , March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm

It seems to me that the Boeing 737-Max with the heavier, larger fuel-saving engines is so unbalanced (tilting over and then crashing if not "overridden" by a computer compensation) that it never should have been authorized in the first place.

When Boeing decided to add a much larger engine, it should have kept the airplane in balance by (1) shifting it forward or backward so that the weight did not tip the plane, and (2) created a larger landing-gear base so that the large engines wouldn't scrape the ground.

The problem was that Boeing tried to keep using the old chassis with the larger engines under the wings – rather than changing the wings, moving them forward or aft, and expanding the plane to permit a more appropriate landing gear.

The computer system has been blamed for not being a "smart enough" workaround to tell the plane not to plunge down when it already is quite close to the ground – with no perception of altitude, not to mention double-checking on the wind speed from both sensors.

Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence.

I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes.

This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders.

The moral: Neoliberalism Kills.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die.

> "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane."

As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft.

* * *

I'm not sure about redesigning the wing and the landing gear. That might be tantamount to designing a new plane. (I do know that the landing gear is so low because the first 737s needed to accommodate airports without jetways, and so there may be other facets of the design that also depend on those original requirements that might have to be changed.)

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Correct – redesign the wing = new plane.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Rule #3 of Neoliberalism:

Their profits = Your cancer, which presents even more profit taking. I.e. Bayer makes the carcinogenic pesticides AND the chemotherapy drugs.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:19 am

Precisely this. Thank you.

John Zelnicker , , March 19, 2019 at 7:46 pm

@Michael Hudson
March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm
-- -- -

"This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes."

That would be great for Mobile as the Airbus A320neo is assembled here.

Octopii , , March 20, 2019 at 7:38 am

And provides time for the A220 to ramp up in Mobile as well. Not a direct competitor for the 737 but a very good airplane developed by Bombardier.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

Also, the MC-21 is in final testing now; still using Western engines, for the moment. One to watch, maybe.

Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 am

Engineering logs seem to indicate that larger landing gear cannot be added without re-engineering the plane.

115 kV , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities.

After the 2003 northeast & Canada blackout, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It directed FERC to create an "electric reliability organization". Previously there were voluntary organizations set up after the 1966 blackout to establish operating standards in the industry. One of them was the North American Electric Reliability Council which morphed into the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in 2006.

NERC is headquartered in Atlanta and employs hundreds of people. The standards setting generally takes place in NERC Committees and Subcommittees and sometimes from FERC itself. These are typically packed with industry people, with a patina of diversity that includes some governmental types and large industrial consumers. Let it suffice to say the electric transmission industry itself largely sets the rules how it operates.

Now consider the article in yesterday's NYT " How PG&E Ignored California Fire Risks in Favor of Profits ". The transmission circuit featured in the article (the Caribou-Palermo line) that caused the destruction of Paradise is a transmission line that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. As described in the article the circuit had many previous failures and was well beyond its design life.

However, both FERC and NERC have a laser focus on "market players" (think Enron or JP Morgan) and system operations (e.g., prevent collapses like the blackout of 2003). AFIK, neither FERC or NERC have prescriptive standards for routine maintenance or inspection and replacement (i.e., very expensive capital replacement that was not done on the Caribou-Palermo line), these are left to the discretion of the transmission owner. While substantive information about electric reliability is maintained by industry trade groups and submitted to FERC, what is available to the public is generally useless and subjected to scrubbing and polishing (often under the guise of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information).

We can see how self-policing work, can't we??? Rent-seeking market players can arbitrage markets, inflating prices consumers pay and make billions in profits, while California burns.

The neglectful rot in California is endemic in the industry as a whole.

A little bit of dignity , , March 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm

How about seppuku for the entire top management?

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:14 am

If an airplane crashes in the forest, and no American were killed, did it make a sound?

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 5:07 pm

That Seattle Times investigative story is indeed very good and a rare instance of newspaper writers troubling to carefully and cogently explain a technical issue.

In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling.

One reason they may not have was that crash several years ago of a commuter plane in upstate NY where the plane started to stall and the confused pilot pulled up on the controls rather than making the airplane dive to regain speed. Still one has to believe that no automation is better than badly designed or malfunctioning automation.

allan , , March 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

"depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling"

IANAP, but maybe the problem is that "nose up" situations can go south very quickly. For those with the stomach for it, there are videos on youtube of the 747 freighter that went nose up at Bagram a few years ago (perhaps due to loose cargo shifting backwards on takeoff). It was over very quickly.

ChrisPacific , , March 19, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Yes, I was impressed with it. Unfortunately the investigation precludes Boeing from responding as they did indicate they would have had something to say about it otherwise. But the analysis looks pretty cut and dried:

  1. Boeing underestimated the risk rating for the sensor, excluding the possibility of a catastrophic failure as occurred in the two incidents to date;
  2. Boeing also failed to implement the redundancy that would have been required even for their lower risk rating;
  3. Manual correction by the pilot as a possible risk mitigation was constrained by the fact that pilots weren't trained on the new system due to commercial factors.

Fixing any one of those three issues would have averted the disasters, although #3 is pretty precarious as you're relying on manual pilot actions to correct what is a clear systems defect at that point.

It sounds like #1 was partly because they failed to account for all the scenarios, like repeat activation raising the risk profile in certain circumstances. This is very easy to do and a robust review process is your best defense. So we could add the tight timelines and rushed process as a contributing factor for #1, and probably the others as well.

XXYY , , March 20, 2019 at 12:08 pm

People who work on accident investigation would probably agree on 2 things:

So while there is much to be profitably learned by investigating everything here, an effective "fix" may be surprisingly (or suspiciously) small in scope. There will be much clamoring for the whole plane to be resigned or scrapped, for better or worse.

anon in so cal , , March 19, 2019 at 6:28 pm

The Colgan crash, whose pilot, Renfrew, was chatting with the co-pilot below the allowed altitude? And who had apparently lied about his background, and had a pay-to-play pilot's license?

I think the Air France Airbus 447 also had a high-altitude stall (due to a faulty air speed sensor) and needed its nose pushed down, not up (which the copilots didn't realize).

Also, very informative article / OP, thanks for posting.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:47 pm

MCAS was added to change the behavior of the plane from to tend to stall as speed increases. That is stall and crash, because such a high speed stall makes polit recovery very, very difficult.

In addition the MCAS driven amount of elevator change was initially 0.6 to 2.5, which indicates the 0.6 increment was found to be too low.

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 8:07 pm

Well they are planning to keep it but

According to a detailed FAA briefing to legislators, Boeing will change the MCAS software to give the system input from both angle-of-attack sensors.

It will also limit how much MCAS can move the horizontal tail in response to an erroneous signal. And when activated, the system will kick in only for one cycle, rather than multiple times.

Boeing also plans to update pilot training requirements and flight crew manuals to include MCAS.

–Seattle Times

So apparently the greater elevator setting is not so necessary that they are not willing to reduce it. Also the max power setting would normally be on take off when the pilots are required to manually fly the plane.

Synoia , , March 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm

It is about speed, not power. I presume that MCAS was developed to solve a problem, nose up behaviour.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:28 am

Yes, that was an excellent Seattle times piece. Surprising to see that kind of truth-telling and, especially, *clarity* in an MSM piece these days. So what's the angle?

voislav , , March 19, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air."

Apparently this was done after simulations showed that 0.6 degrees was inadequate and the new 2.5 degree setting was not extensively tested before the planes were rolled out. IANAL, but this may be a serious problem for Boeing. Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes.

Big question is how 737 issues will affect 777X rollout, due at the end of the year. If 777X certification is called into question, this may cause further delays and put it at a further disadvantage against A350.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

The 777 has been a great plane. Let's all pray the MBAs didn't fuck it up, too.

If I were Boeing, I'd have a team looking into the 777 certification process right now. And I'd set up a whistleblower line (so the Seattle Times doesn't get to the story first).

The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing

Chris , , March 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Thanks, Lambert, for post and comments. I don't know if this angle has been covered or explored: the relatively new way that Boeing now "manufactures" "tests" and "assembles" parts of its planes. I had dinner with new acquaintance, Boeing engineer for decades (I live near a plant in WA state). For the last few years, this engineer is stationed half year in Russia annually to oversee assembly there. In this newish, more profitable manufacturing system for Boeing, the parts come in from around the world with sketchy quality control, are then assembled by Russian workers this engineer (and other Boeing employees sent from States) supposedly oversees. But the engineer doesn't speak Russian and has too little access to translators .Needless to say, this engineer is planning an exit as soon as possible. Having grown up in WA state for 60 years with neighbors/friends who were Boeing engineers, assemblers, line workers, etc it makes me heart sick to see the current decimation of talent, rigor and wages with additional far-flung assembly factories (Russia with few translators?! who knew?). Might these manufacturing/assemblying "improvements" also be a contributing factor in these terrifying woes for Boeing?

PlutoniumKun , , March 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for this Lambert, fantastically informative and interesting post.

Self regulation only works when liability is transferred with it – over example, in construction whereby certification by the engineers or architects designing the building are also taking on liability in the event something goes wrong. It seems unlikely that this is the situation with Boeing.

Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers.

Airbus will no doubt try to take advantage – just as Boeing (with some justification) tried to focus attention on the Air France Airbus loss which was attributed at least in part to excessive automation. China is pushing hard with its new Comac aircraft, but they seem to be poorly regarded worldwide (only Chinese airlines are buying). The Canadians have missed their chance with the Bombadier C-series.

JBird4049 , , March 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

The more I read of this the more baffling it is. What was there stopping Boeing from just highlighting the changes and installing an easy manual override instead of this hidden change with effectively no way to permanently do so? Especially when in crisis mode? One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm

I didn't see this before I posted my response. A more concise statement of my thoughts. This plus more robust redundant sensors. Penny wise and pound foolish.

The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

That's the expensive re-certification Boeing wanted to avoid.

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:52 am

That would entail simulator training, that would entail modifying the simulators and the curriculum.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:22 pm

I am leaning towards thinking the kludgy design of the 727 Max could have been rolled out with no major problems if Boeing had been up front about design changes, made a robust and conservative MCAS, fully at the command of the pilot, and provided ample training for the new aircraft.

They still could have saved billions on the airframe. They would have had to acknowledge the significant modifications to the airlines with the attendant training and other costs and delays. They would have lost some sales. They still would have been far ahead of Airbus and light years ahead of where they are now.

I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:08 am

> I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual engineering culture. The merger took place in 1997, 22 years ago, which is not so long, really. Note also that the finance guys drove the decision to outsource as much 787 manufacturing as possible , which creates headaches for real engineering, so the initial stumble with the 787 that led to the 737 fall is down to them, too.

Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced.

VietnamVet , , March 19, 2019 at 6:50 pm

The 737 Max crashes and Brexit are the chickens coming home to roost. NC is a treasure for your coverage of both.

Clearly upper management in Chicago only knows short term finance. Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

The criminal charges are that besides being a faulty design (it relies on one fragile exposed sensor that if out of position keeps triggering dives until switched off) but Boeing hid it and self-certified that it was safe. Adding a discrepancy warning and position indicator for the two independent flight sensors to the cockpit video display is an extra cost feature.

Neither of the planes that crashed had the added safety display. All are cost saving measures. Finally, if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral.

You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:01 am

> if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral. You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

That's what I mean by horrid UI/UX. Might as well as both pilots to pat their heads and rub their tummies in synch. And since the two pilots have to both understand what's going on, we've multiplied the chances for failure.

Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Added cost, "mandatory" safety feature. Does not seem to square with the [soon to be former?] CEO's apology-industry written claim to be committed to absolute safety.

You can't make this stuff up.

dearieme , , March 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

"The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence.

But the bigger picture: suppose the FAA is to do its job properly. From where is it going to recruit its staff?

Smaller picture: it doesn't really matter whether the cocked-up MCAS killed all those people or not. Even if it's innocent of the charge, the account of its development and application is a horror story.

Bigger picture: what other horrors have been hidden by Boeing?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:48 am

> the account of its development and application is a horror story.

That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)).

Sounds like the MBAs in Chicago have been busy planting land mines everywhere. Somebody stepped on this one; there are others.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 7:05 pm

The unfortunate pilots were made test pilots; the unsuspecting passengers: Guinea pigs. Lab rats. And paid for the privilege. Some others may share this opinion. Change one little thing? Chaos Theory Rules. Same with weather/climate; folks. That rant is for later.

oafstradamus

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS):

https://leehamnews.com/2019/02/01/bjorns-corner-pitch-stability-part-7/

This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing

Yes, after money.

drumlin woodchuckles , , March 19, 2019 at 8:08 pm

At what point does "crapification" become insufficient to describe Boeing's product and process here? At what point do we have to speak of " ford-pintofication"?

barrisj , , March 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

OK, I'm told to resubmit my crib re: "Boeing options" from the ZeroHedge "tweetstorm" by Trevot Sumner, and include a link got it:

Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed

https://mobile.twitter.com/trevorsumner/status/1106934369158078470

Ooops! "Options package"? Wait, a "package" that in the interim corrects a potentially catastrophic mfg. defect and airlines have to pay for it? Whoa, here's your late capitalism in play.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:45 am

> Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light

This is one of the details I could not get to (and we don't 100% know this is an issue until the forensics are done. Right now, we have narrative. Truly excellent narrative to be sure -- if only we thought of government the same way as pilots think of their aircraft! -- but narrative nonetheless).

Let me see if I have this right. Pilots, chime in!

"Authority" is one of the big words in this discussion; MCAS takes authority away from the pilot (and can do in such a drastic fashion as to crash the plane). Worse, the default case is that it can do so on the basis of a single sensor reading. In a design appropriate to the consequences for failure (i.e., a different design from that described in the "System Safety Analysis" that Boeing self-certified) MCAS would take readings from two sensors, and if they disagreed, authority would revert to the pilot . That's a general principle at Boeing, and so it's reasonable for pilots to assume that they retain authority of MCAS has not told them they don't have it any more.

Hence, the disagree light, which tells the pilots to take back authority because the sensors are confused. However, I think there are UI/UX issues with that, given that the 737 cockpit is extremely noisy and pilots have a lot to do on take-off. So a light might not be the answer. (The light also strikes me as a kludge; first, MCAS feels to me like a kludge, in that we're making the aircraft flyable only through software.* Fine for fighter jets, which can be inherently unstable, but perhaps not so fine for commercial aircraft? Then we have a second kludge, a light to tell us that the first kludge has kicked in. I dunno.)

NOTE * However, it's also true that automation affects flight characteristics all the time. So I'm not sure how savage to make this indictment.

rowlf , , March 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

The AOA indication is Service Bulletin 737-31-1650 (there may be others) and is on the both Pilot Flight Displays (PFDs). Pilots would likely abort a takeoff if they saw the indication come on before getting airborne.

California Bob , , March 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

In hindsight, it appears Boeing should have made Mulally CEO. He appears to be competent.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 8:25 pm

"Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, "

How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company?

I want to fly on Boeing planes put together by well paid members of the Seattle Machinists Union, not low wage peons. Let's not even mention the maintenance of American aircraft in China and El Salvador.

https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2018/04/20/southwest-airlines-should-have-inspected-engines.html

President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:32 am

> President Trump, here's a reelection tip:

> "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA .

And your suggestion is very good one. I wonder if he could do that by executive order? And I wonder how many grey-beards would come off the golf courses to help out? I bet a lot.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 8:47 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!! However. It should have been flown A WHOLE LOT MORE before receiving certification.

*Real* test pilots should have their a–es on the line ; operating for a lot more hours at *the edge of the envelope*, as it is known. Stability should be by design; not software*patch*. Patch this!

What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation? Like the so-called Doppler Radar; which *magically* predicts what the future will bring; while the experts pitch it as fact? And make life-or-death decisions on the theoretical data???
Rush to market; markets rule. We can die.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 9:19 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Agreed, but I think we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.)

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:25 am

> The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Didn't say it was. The headline reads "Boeing Crapification," not "737 Crapification."

That said, the 737 clearly has issues, as Boeing itself knew, since if they'd had their druthers, they would have launched a new plane to replace it. See point #2.

> What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation?

That is a very good question. If I understand the aerodynamics issues aright, MCAS would be most likely to kick in at takeoff, which raises a host of UI/UX issues because the pilots are very busy at that time. So was MCAS not tested in the simulators? If so, how on earth was a scenario that included sensor failure not included? It may be that there are more issues with Boeing's engineering process than the documentation issues raised by the Seattle Times, though those are bad enough.

Ron D , , March 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm

I say the 737-whatever is a flying Turd, and always has been. It has a bad wing design which means it has to fly nose up compared to other models( I always remember that when going to the restroom while going somewhere on one). And because of its poor design it has to takeoff and land at higher speeds. So when flying into someplace like Mexico City it can be quite a harrowing experience, and the smell of cooking brakes is relatively normal.

Boeing never should have let go of the 757. Now that was a good plane that was simply ahead of its time.

The Rev Kev , , March 19, 2019 at 8:53 pm

Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal.

We now know that the FAA does not audit the work done for these aircraft but the airlines themselves do it. It cannot be just Boeing but the other aircraft manufacturers as well. Other countries are going to be asking some very hard questions before forking over their billions to a US aircraft manufacturer in future. Worse is when Ethiopia refused to hand over the black boxes to the US but gave them instead to a third party.

That was saying that based on how you treated the whole crash, we do not trust you to do the job right and not to change some of the results. It has been done before, ironically enough by France who the Ethiopians gave the black boxes to. And when you lose trust, it takes a very long time to gain it back again – if ever. But will the changes be made to do so? I would guess no.

notabanker , , March 19, 2019 at 9:44 pm

But if the discount foreign airlines had just trained their pilots and paid for the non-crashintothegroundat500mph upgrade, all of this could have been avoided.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 12:55 am

Do you think that there was an app for that?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:23 am

> we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal

Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run.

Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.*

NOTE * There ought to be a way to reframe contradiction in terms of Net Present Value which would not be what we think it is, under that model.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

Can Boeing survive? Yes, as a much smaller company. What is upsetting to me, is that the Boeing management has sacrificed thousands of Jobs.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:10 am

> Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

I wish it were as complete as it should be! There are a ton of horrid details about sensors, the UI/UX for the MCAS system, 737 cockpit design, decisions by the marketing department, and training and maintenance for Asian airlines that I just couldn't get to. (Although most of those presume that the forensics have already been done.) But I felt that dollying back for the big picture was important to. Point #1 is important, in that all the factors that drove the 737 decision making are not only still in place, they're intensifying, so we had better adjust our systems (assuming Boeing remains a going concern -- defenestrating Muilenberg would be an excellent way to show we accept the seriousness of customer and international concern).

Bill Smith , , March 19, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Bloomberg is reporting that : "The Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn't been properly repaired."

And the day before when the same plane had the problem that killed everyone the next day: "The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:14 am

There's an enormous expansion of air travel in Asia. The lower end -- not flag -- carriers like Lion Air and also Air Asia are in that business to be cheap ; they're driven by expansion and known to be run by cowboys.

That said, know your customer . I would translate this into an opportunity for Boeing to sell these airlines a service package for training their ground operations. But it seems that cutting costs is the only thing the MBAs in Chicago understand. Pilots, pipe up!

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:13 am

Pilot training and requirements are in the hands of the country, not Boeing. If the story that the copilot of the Ethiopian Airlines plane had only 200 hours of experience that is astounding.

In the US that requirement is 1500 hours. In addition most US airlines would require more than that. And then they slot 'beginning' pilots for flights in good (better) weather as high minimums pilot.

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:17 am

"sell these airlines a service package" That won't help an airline that is in the business to be cheap. The Indonesia airplane was repeatedly reported for problems in prior days/flights that was never fixed.

Basil Pesto , , March 20, 2019 at 2:42 am

indeed I was just about to mention this same story. The link is here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-19/how-an-extra-man-in-cockpit-saved-a-737-max-that-later-crashed?utm_campaign=news&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews

and this quote makes an interesting follow-on to the thread yesterday with 737 Pilot (which Lambert linked to in the first paragraph here):

"The combination of factors required to bring down a plane in these circumstances suggests other issues may also have occurred in the Ethiopia crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, who also directed accident investigations at FAA and is now a consultant.

"It's simply implausible that this MCAS deficiency by itself can down a modern jetliner with a trained crew," Guzzetti said."

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

JBird4049 , , March 20, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

One can often point to inexperience, incompetence, stupidity, incompetence or just bad luck when some disaster happens, but Boeing counted on perfect performance from flight crews to successfully work with a workaround needed for other workarounds that needed perfect performance to not catastrophically fail. I know enough about complexity that you cannot depend on perfection because something will always fail.

BillC , , March 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

Your excellent summary lacks some MCAS details that are not widely reported by the general-audience press.

Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary:

A. The requirement for MCAS apparently emerged very late in the MAX's development, when it became clear that the upper cowling around the larger engines, being moved up and forward with respect to earlier 737 versions, adds nose-up force as the angle of attack (AoA) approaches the upper limits of the MAX's operating envelope because at such angles, the cowling itself generates lift beyond that of the wing.

B. As perceived by a pilot flying manually (not on autopilot), this added nose-up force makes it easier to pull back on the control column ("stick"), increasing the AoA further. This is like a car running off the asphalt onto a muddy shoulder: the steering wheel wants to turn the wrong way (toward the ditch) rather than the right way (back on the road).

C. An FAA regulation prohibits certification of an aircraft that presents the pilot with changing stick forces near stall that nudge the pilot toward the wrong reaction, 14 CFR 25.203(a) , IIRC (unfortunately, I can't find the original blog citation).

D. MCAS was put in place to satisfy this certification requirement -- not to automagically correct stalls without pilot action.

E. Other means of meeting this requirement exist, ranging from an airframe redesign that avoids the extra nose-up effect of the larger repositioned engines down to a "stick pusher" that increases the force a pilot would need to pull the stick back further in this situation.

F. Any of the other options would negate one or both of the MAX's chief selling points: little cost or schedule impact to Boeing (in a rush to meet the Airbus 320 NEO challenge) and to its customers ("No new flight crew training necessary, because to the pilot, the MAX feels just like its 737 predecessors.") That is, all the other options introduce new hardware to a completed design and the more fundamental changes could require new type certification.

G. The easiest fix was pure software: at high indicated AoA, under manual control, and with flaps up, automatically rotate the horizontal stabilizer a little bit nose-down, which increases the pressure needed to pull the stick back (nose-up). No need to tell the pilot about this in training or real time, since it's just to make MAX feel like any other 737.

H. The design presented for certification described a single small rotation. Testing showed this was insufficient to provide the tactile feedback necessary for certification in all cases, so the software fix was obvious: if the trigger conditions still hold after a 5 sec. pause, do it again.

I. Apparently nobody asked at that point, "What if the AoA indication is stuck high?" We're under schedule and cost pressure, so who wants to complexify things by (1) adding additional sanity-checking to the aircraft's AoA computations or (2) limiting how many times we add a little bit of nose-down.

J. When these details combine with a consistently erroneous AoA reading, MCAS can -- if not repeatedly countermanded or disabled and manually reversed -- eventually rotate the horizontal stabilizer to its maximum nose-down position, where it was found in both recent incidents, IIRC.

Even if the pilots figure out that's what's happening amid a cacophony of seemingly contradictory instrument readings and warnings (stick-shaker, trim wheel clacking, alarm chimes, and synthesized voices), the pilots still have to (1) cut power to the electrical trim systems and (2) restore the required trim, which may then require as many as 50 manual turns of a trim wheel. If you're near the ground, time is short

A minority of commenting pilots assert that any competently trained cockpit crew should be able to identify MCAS misbehavior quickly and power off automatic trim per the same checklist that was prescribed for "runaway automatic trim" on every 737 variant, MAX included. Most seem to agree that with aircraft control difficulties, multiple alarms, and disagreement among the pilot's and first officer's airspeed and AoA readings almost from the moment of takeoff (not yet officially confirmed), an MCAS-commanded runaway trim event may feel very different from the runaway trim flavors for which pilots have had simulator training, making problem identification difficult even given knowledge of the earlier Lion Air incident.

I imagine most software developers and engineers have seen cost/schedule pressures lead to short cuts. If their life was at stake, I doubt that many would think self-certification that such a project complies with all relevant safety requirements is a good idea.

ShamanicFallout , , March 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for that. And just 'wow'. I don't really know anything about aircraft/flying but this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. I guess we'll know what the current 'temperature' is out there when the fallout (civil liability, criminal liability, plane orders cancelled/ returned, etc) manifests. If Boeing skates, we'll know we've got a long way to go.

Cheryl from Maryland , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/

drfrank , , March 20, 2019 at 9:22 am

Yes, but. Part of what we are seeing in this case is a rush to judgement based on less than full evidence and analysis, and so prejudices and ideological positions (which I share actually) are plainly to be seen (and perhaps worth analyzing). "Crapification," says the headline.

Yet, I cannot say that I disagree with BA's business decisions as such in a highly competitive environment as regards the tradeoffs in the development of the MAX and there is a certain absurdity in the idea that Boeing would knowingly take a high reputational risk, in an industry where failure is front page news (contrast banking or pharma failures).

I have no reason to believe that an FAA fully in charge of all aspects of certification would have prevented these crashes, as banking and drug regulators have not kept us safe either. What seems worthy of note is that neither the airlines that buy the product nor the foreign aviation regulators nor pilots' associations do their own testing and certification, in an area where more redundancy would be good. Nor is there any kind of private third party watchdog testing, like a Moody's or S&P, evaluating potentially toxic products and services for a price.

Finally, I suppose we have to ask ourselves why the price of the stock is holding up fairly well even as the news flow on these tragedies is helping the short sellers. Lest we forget that Boeing is the 5th largest defense contractor in the US.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

Is engine throttle automated in the flight regime where these accidents occurred? Or are the pilots controlling power? Is the lag in thrust response interacting with the MCAS in an unanticipated way? Aerodynamic lift of nacelles is mentioned several times; there is another lift factor relating to the thrust angle; which is not necessarily aligned with the fuselage axis in flight. Departure procedures often require speed limits and altitude changes; so it is likely multiple power demand levels get set through takeoff and climb until cruise altitude is reached. Does Autopilot/Flight Director integrate with MCAS; or are they independent systems? Even without touching flight controls; power changes affect pitch forces. I am wondering if consequences of manual power changes on an otherwise automated departure were adequately investigated in the certification of the MCAS. Please excuse my ignorance of these details.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 11:18 am

Regulatory elements that have been getting attention include the use of *standard* weights for passengers; IIRC, 170 lbs for US (and possibly ICAO) passengers comes to mind . Many aircraft accidents have an element of disregard for proper weight distribution, either accidental, or negligent. For instance: Tail-heavy bad! Intentional loading outside of subsequently approved C.G. and/or max weight limits is a common, if not ubiquitous part of determining certification limits.There is a safety factor in the certificated limits; but banking on this; using estimates; is proven risky or disastrous when actual weights, and distribution thereof, is uncertain. Cargo with false weight values could also occur. One might find incentive to claim lower weights than actual to save on freight charges. How many 170 lb passengers do you know? I am not familiar with scales being used to check aircraft weight and balance before takeoff; only calculations; based on formulas and charts.
Scales ARE USED during certain maintenance procedures; for airworthiness certificates; and following certain modifications.

Jack , , March 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

Here is an interesting article by a professional pilot blogger Patrick Smith. He calls the 737, "the Frankenplane", and traces its history all the way back to the 707 in 1959. According to Smith, "We wonder if the 737 MAX even needed to exist in the first place. Somewhere deep down, maybe the heart of this whole fiasco is Boeing's determination to keep the 737 line going, variant after variant, seemingly forever. I'm not saying this is the reason for what happened in Indonesia or Ethiopia, but the whole 737 program just seems misguided and unnecessary. Instead of starting from scratch with a new airframe, they took what was essentially conceived as a regional jet in the mid-1960s, and have pushed and pushed and pushed the thing -- bigger and bigger engines, fancier avionics and more seats -- into roles it was never intended for. The "Frankenplane," I call it.
See the article here .
As a pilot myslef, I feel the airlines have a lot to answer for as well. Their constant "dumbing down" of pilots, which comes from making pilots work long hours for low pay, results in pilots not being the best of the best. And training is a cost to airlines. Training doesn't result in revenue. Better to have the pilots actually flying, hence Boeing selling this new version of the 737 as not requiring further training. But, training and practice is everything in flying. Flying a plane is actually a relatively easy skill to acquire. Most people can learn to fly a trainer in 5 hours or so. Most people solo (fly the plane without an instructor) with only 10-20 hours of instruction. It takes a lot longer to learn how to drive a car for most people (45 hours is the average). So it really isn't that difficult .until something goes WRONG. That is when the training kicks in. An often quoted flying truism, is that flying is "99% boredom and 1% stark terror". What happened with these two crashes is that you had some inexperienced pilots who were not fully trained on the systems (a lot of that blame goes to Boeing). When things start going wrong, information overload can easily occur if you have not been properly trained, even with two pilots.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Maybe this is the link mentioned above:

http://www.askthepilot.com/ethiopian-737max-crash/

allan , , March 20, 2019 at 11:57 am

"you had some inexperienced pilots"

The captain, Yared Getachew, had more than 8,000 hours of flying under his belt.
(It is true that the first officer only had 200.)

You have to wonder how the average US commercial pilot would have done under the circumstances.

(Reply to Jack at 11:50 am)

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Thanks for that correction. We can expect a deluge of blame-the-other-guy PR from the aircraft manufacturer and certification agencies. Billions are on the line for Boeing if a cascade of judgments it made materially contributed to these crashes. The usual strategic corporate bankruptcy might follow. I presume Boeing is considered much TBTF by the USG.

JerryDenim , , March 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Great job summarizing and connecting dots Lambert. I might add one more bullet point though. Items #5 and #6 were aided, abetted and perhaps somewhat necessitated by 'ye ole NeoLiberal playbook' you spoke of, but more specifically, the current regulatory FAA/Boeing milieu is attributable to years of budget cuts and strategically applied austerity. The old Grover Norquist, ' not destroyed, but small and weak enough to be drowned in a shallow bath' saw. Exact same thing we've witnessed with other formally effective regulators like the EPA, the SEC or the IRS.

I remember having a conversation with an FAA maintenance inspector, an old timer, about ten years ago. He looked to be upwards of seventy, and he told me he was eight years beyond eligibility for a full retirement. He informed me that a few years back he was supervising a team of ten people that was now down to two. Their positions had been cut outright or eliminated after they resigned or transferred when the remaining positions were made miserable by the increased workload and bureaucratic headaches. The inspector said he had not retired yet because he knew he would not be replaced and he felt the work was important. I asked him if his department was atypical and he said it was not. Same thing, across the board, with the exception of the executive level desk jobs in DC and Oklahoma City. Readers can draw their own conclusions but when it comes to funding Federal regulators, I believe you should never attribute anything to incompetence that you could attribute to malice.

No doubt Neo-Liberal ideologues in high places pushing the corrosive "customer/client" model of regulating along with the requisite deference and obsequious to industry played a large role as well.

"Chickens coming home to roost" Indeed.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 2:44 pm

I understand the published materials to boil down to this possible scenario:

To remain competitive and profitable, Boeing needed to improve the fuel efficiency and flight characteristics of a mainstay medium-haul aircraft. Instead of designing a new aircraft, it modified an existing airframe. Among other changes, it added more powerful engines, new lift and control surfaces, and enhanced computerized controls.

The modified Max aircraft **did not** fly like the earlier version. That meant Boeing would have to disclose information about those changes. It would need to train pilots in them, in how to integrate new protocols into existing ones, and in what to do if the enhanced computer controls malfunctioned, requiring the pilot to regain manual control.

These steps could have increased cost and time to market, might have involved new certifications, and might have reduced sales. Boeing appears to have relied on enhanced computer flight controls to avoid them.

The newly enhanced computerized controls meant that the computer would do more of the actual flying – the part that was different from the pre-Max version – and the pilot less. It gave the pilot the virtual – but not real – experience of flying the older aircraft, obviating the need, in Boeing's judgment, for additional disclosures and training. That worked except when it didn't. (See, driverless car development.)

One possible failure mode derives from the Max's reliance on a single sensor to detect its angle of attack, the aircraft's nose-up or nose-down deviation from level flight. Reliance on a single sensor would make it harder to detect and correct a fault. (Boeing's version of commitment to "absolute" safety.)

In these two crashes, the sensor may have given a faulty reading, indicating that the aircraft's nose was higher than it should have been for that stage of flight, an attitude that risked a stall. The programmed response was to drop the nose and increase power. A normal reaction to a real stall, this response can become catastrophic when unexpected or when the pilot cannot correct it.

In both crashes, it appears that the pilot did attempt to correct the computer's error. Doing so, however, reset the automated control, leading the computer to reread the faulty sensor to mean "stall." It again dropped the nose and increased speed. The pilot recorrected the error in what would become a deadly loop, a tug of war that ended in a powered dive into the ground.

Seal , , March 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

This is like #Immelt at #GE

VietnamVet , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 pm

What is interesting is what comes next. The FAA was drowned in the bath tub along with the EPA, FDA, SEC, etc. It doesn't have the money or staff to recertify the 737 Max. An incompetent Administration that is interested only in extracting resources is in charge. It is clear that Boeing hid the changes to save money and time. Adding a warning indicator that the flight sensors are not in the correct position to the pilot's display, including it in the preflight checklist, plus flight training would have prevented the Indonesian crash. But these changes would have raised questions on the adequacy of the new flight critical system and may have delayed certification overseas. It is easy to overlook problems if your paycheck is at risk. The Boeing managers who pushed this through deserve jail time for manslaughter.

Canada said it will recertify the 737 Max before it flies in their airspace. China won't recertify the Max until the Trump Trade War is over. Also, a delay boosts their replacement airliner. If Chicago and DC paper this over like the 2008 Great Recession; the final nails will have been hammered into the coffin of the hegemon. Trust is gone

[Mar 23, 2019] The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About - Slashdot

Mar 23, 2019 | tech.slashdot.org

The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About (nymag.com) 65 Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:34PM from the searching-for-answers dept. New York magazine's Intelligencer remembers last month's crash of a Boeing 767 carrying cargo for Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service -- and shares a new theory that its cause wasn't a suicidal pilot or an autopilot malfunction:

In online pilot discussion forums, a third idea has been gaining adherents: that the pilots succumbed to a phenomenon called somatogravic illusion, in which lateral acceleration due to engine thrust creates the sensation that one is tipping backward in one's seat .

The effect is particularly strong when a plane is lightly loaded, as it would be at the end of a long flight when the fuel tanks are mostly empty, and in conditions of poor visibility, as Atlas Air 3591 was as it worked its way through bands of bad weather. The idea is that perhaps one of the pilots accidentally or in response to wind shear set the engines to full power, and then believed that the plane had become dangerously nose-high and so pushed forward on the controls.

This would cause a low-g sensation that might have been so disorienting that by the time the plane came barreling out of the bottom of the clouds there wasn't enough time to pull out of the dive.

It has been speculated that this might have been the cause of another bizarre and officially unsolved accident from three years ago: Flydubai Flight 981, which crashed 2016 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia....

While it's still too early to draw any kind of conclusions about Atlas Air 3591, the possibility exists that a firm conclusion will never be drawn -- and if it is, the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.


BobC ( 101861 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @02:26PM ( #58321314 )

Re:Flying by Instruments? ( Score: 5 , Informative)

Yes, commercial pilots are taught to "fly their instruments". General aviation pilots may enjoy more "seat-of-the-pants" flying, but even they are taught to trust instruments over human perceptions, which are easily fooled, as even simple demos will show.

I used to work for an aircraft instrument maker, and our user interfaces, everything the pilot interacts with, got more care and attention than the rest of the instrument. Of course we had to display nothing but totally accurate data, and do so promptly, but we also had to do so in ways that were obvious and clear, so the pilot can take in the most important information with a quick glance.

The pilot's standard "scan" is perhaps the most-trained skill. To look at everything on the instrument panels and outside the windows often enough to not miss anything, yet slow enough to take in all vital information.

When things get hectic, the pilot still does this scan, interrupting it as needed to deal with situations, but still doing it. Because, as the saying goes, "trouble often comes in threes": Stopping everything to handle an initial situation may mask what's really going on, and lead to a cascade of failures.

With ever more data being aimed at the pilot, there is a distinct risk of information overload, especially when tired, or during tense but otherwise normal situations, such as take-off, landing, or flying through turbulence. This overload often encourages the pilot to rely more on signals from the body, which need less conscious processing, rather than focus on all that data.

Here, again, is where commercial pilots receive extra training, but perhaps not often enough. This is one of the factors that keep commercial pilot mandatory retirement ages so low: The risk of overload increases with age, even when all other factors match those of a younger person.

Plus, staying in peak training for decades is fatiguing, and relatively few can do so "naturally". Which is one of the reasons we're running out of commercial aircraft pilots.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but this overload risk is often handled by adding more automation, more automatic systems to "help" the pilot. So much so that actually manually "driving" a commercial aircraft, with hands on the controls, is an increasingly rare part of a normal flight.

Our instruments also tried to take pilot fatigue into account, saving our brightest and loudest alarms only for the most desperate situations, to punch-through that overload to help ensure prompt and correct reactions.

One product I worked on was a TAWS (Terrain Awareness and Warning System) instrument, which basically stayed quiet unless there was a risk of the pilot flying into the ground, to help prevent "CFIT" accidents (Controlled Flight Into the Ground). It has special modes for take-off and landing, though our instrument was designed to actually *avoid* making the pilot depend on it's display: Useful for information as part of the scan, but not to be used to navigate the aircraft. Our main function was to provide visual and audible alerts only when needed.

I believe 100% of US commercial aircraft (and perhaps now even biz-jets) are required to have TAWS on-board and active. Any TAWS-equipped plane approaching the ground outside of an approved approach path for a know airport will give the pilot "Terrain ahead. Pull up! Pull up!" alerts until the hazard no longer exists.

Unfortunately, if a stall is also immanent, the pilot will simultaneously receive an alert to push the nose down. And increase power. And other things as well. An overload of alerts, which a skilled and calm pilot will respond to with the most correct action. But which can overload a stressed or tired pilot, or one with the beginnings of a cold or flu.

The thing is, every alert can be silenced, to reduce the confusion and distractions. But an overloaded pilot can forget even this simple aid to keeping full awareness and control.

This is a big part of why pilots are so often blamed for crashes: Because, for whatever reason, they failed to take the appropriate action demanded by the situation.

As a former aircraft instrument developer, I was always well aware of my instruments' contribution to the pilot's mental load. Our teams agonized over tiny changes to font selection and sizes and colors and contrast. And how many button presses were needed to accomplish a function. And how easy it was to switch modes or silence an alert. Which is why we had a massive alpha test system that got even the earliest versions of our instruments in front of pilots with experimental aircraft and ratings. (Experimental aircraft and the pilots who fly them are rare and precious things to instrument developers, even when we owned and operated our own corporate test aircraft.)

Fortunately, our efforts paid off, and pilots (and the FAA) loved our instruments. Some of our design innovations were adopted into instrument regulations by the FAA, so all manufacturers had to build to our standard. But always hovering over our success was the fear of news of the crash of a plane flying our instruments. And the fear that information overload from our instruments would be shown to be a contributing factor.

Which is why part of our required reading was any and all reports (mainly NTSB and NASA) that even mention pilot overload. Even a decade after leaving that industry, I still read these reports.

rnturn ( 11092 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:55PM ( #58321174 )
Oh... Are we back to t"pilot error" excuses again? ( Score: 2 )
``...the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.''

On the other hand, we have two recent examples of what can happen when a flight computer is given control of the plane and it is unable to avoid doing something stupid like -- as the old euphemism goes -- `make inadvertent contact with the terrain'.

Until we know more about how this was supposed work and exactly why it didn't , I think I'll trust the human with his hands on the controls more than the flight computer.

(Thankfully, the occasions for my needing to fly are few and far between.)

Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) writes: < MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com > on Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:39PM ( #58321082 ) Homepage
Design errors in the 737 MAX-guidance system ( Score: 2 )

Everything I've been able to learn has indicated that there are major design errors in the guidance system of the Boeing 737 MAX-8

ebonum ( 830686 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @02:02PM ( #58321206 )
Artificial horizon? ( Score: 3 )

If you look at it and you are headed down (and you have good airspeed), you don't need to keep trying to nose down - regardless of what your senses are telling you.

What about looking at how the altimeter is changing?

The artificial horizon gives you a lot of information when your sense of direction is playing tricks on you (in the clouds and feeling like you are going up,down, rolling, etc.)

[Mar 23, 2019] Kushner said in February the White House was poised to unveil the peace plan after Israel's election in April.

Mar 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Mar 22, 2019 10:31:08 PM | link

The business of Trump giving away something he doesn't own is insane. But insanity has been the theme of most everything else him and his neocon helpers have been doing of late.

I believe it's time to start paying attention to the truly nutty stories. The crazier sounding ones ought to get the most attention. After all, who would have conceived the Trumpies declaring a genuine nobody to be the true President of Venezuela? Early finds:

U.S., Taiwan: Washington Ponders a Military Presence on a Taiwanese Island (Nov 5, 2018)

A US military base on Taiwan. New weapons to Taiwan. More high-level contacts with that nation. All proposed by the Trumpies. Who benefits most from a small or large war with China? Headline from the neocon york times:

Israel Is on the Brink of Disaster. Trump Just Made Things Worse. (March 22, 2019)

On Twitter on Thursday, he wrote that "it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" It is the latest, and most important, signal from Washington that Mr. Trump is ready to acknowledge Israeli control of the Golan Heights.

But those signals are also being read by the Israeli right wing as an encouragement to pursue annexation of territory in the West Bank -- a far more dangerous step that would present Israel with an unparalleled existential threat to its Jewish and democratic character.

I'd ask if there is any reason for the murdering and stealing rightwingnut settlers not to celebrate? Trump has been doing their bidding at every turn, even when it does direct harm to the US. Are there any indications the Trumpies have something planned for the subhuman Palestinians. As a matter of fact, YES.

Jordan-Saudi Arabia land exchange appeared in draft of Jared Kushner's Middle East peace plan (March 19, 2019)

The are much better 'Kushner, boy wonder' articles than this one floating around, but I want to focus on a single part:

Kushner said in February the White House was poised to unveil the peace plan after Israel's election in April. While in Warsaw, Kushner said the plan will impact the entire Middle East region and is "really about establishing border and resolving final-status issues," according to Sky News Arabia.
Change "final-status" to Final Solution and that would be just about right. Death-March time, Baby, and to the exultant Republican & End-Timers chant of "they had their chance, but blew it".

[Mar 23, 2019] Ira Greenstein: Jared Kushner's Criminal Deal With Israel Behind U.S. Involvement In Syria For Genie Energy's Control of the Golan Heights

Mar 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

PavewayIV , Mar 22, 2019 4:36:07 PM | link

Sheesh.... sorry. Zanting's article from last year with proper formatting:

https://animeright.news/zanting/ira-greenstein-jared-kushners-criminal-deal-with-israel-behind-u-s-involvement-in-syria-for-genie-energys-control-of-the-golan-heights/

The Trump administration along with Jared Kushner employed in the White House, a lawyer by the name of Ira Greenstein from Newark, New Jersey, who was by all accounts still acting as President and/or in the interest of his energy corporation when the U.S. bombed Syria.*

Genie Energy.

An energy corporation operating privately in Syrian territory  -- the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration are inherently subjugated by this paradigm of interests. When commencing with hostile military action against Syria, they did so while having a direct conflict of interest, primarily related to business ties with this corporation. This, along with seemingly ulterior political dealings with the Israeli government, has gone part and parcel to the destabilization of Syria. While benefiting Genie Energy, its backers and involved officials.

Officials such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This essentially represents extortion against Syria, as part of a behind-the-scenes deal between parties, with Greenstein's boss, the founder of Genie Energy and top Netanyahu donor Howard Jonas having made billions through a telecommunications deal made possible under the watch of both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and White House Office of American Innovation (OAI ) --  for which to benefit said parties for their actions.

* The U.S. has since attacked Syria's government a number of times, furthering the risk of nuclear war or a widened conflict in the Middle East. Ira Greenstein left the White House on March 30th, 2018 following earlier reporting by this author. U.S. Navy's USS Porter strikes Syria in April of 2017.

On April 6th, 2017, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria. Targeting Shayrat Airbase (FAA LID: OS65), numerous aircraft were destroyed, primarily Mikoyan Mig-23ML and Sukhoi Su-22M3 models. These being the same parent models which had been involved in operations over Daraa, which is a choke point near the Golan Heights, it remains as of this posting as being under the control of hostile actors such as Islamic State (ISIS).*

* Syria has since made strides in retaking this key area.

On April 14th, 2018, about a year later, this act was repeated with U.S.-led military strikes against a large number of targets within Syria  --  both France and the U.K. participated in this escalation despite the associated risks.

Ira Greenstein
Troop deployments had preceded the airstrikes, with a permanent presence with or without ISIS being touted in 2017, setting U.S. involvement in Syria at an ever increasing rate . Continued or further involvement in Syria by the Trump administration or other U.S.-led actors, as shown below in this article, is illegal.

me title=

James Mattis claimed at the time that approximately 20% of the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) was destroyed; impacting Syria's military capabilities, this would then continue with further bombings on Syria by the Israeli Air Force. Israel would find herself losing an F-16 this year after Syrian Air Defenses retaliated in self-defense due to these bombings.

More recently , activity has included an increasing amount of U.S. military action against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) or its pro-government forces, despite inherent conflicts of interest present within the Trump administration.

This type of behavior sits in stark contrast to Iran and Russia having been formally invited by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to participate in Syria's affairs militarily.

To get to the very heart of the matter, we have to go back to the presidential transition period, when Newark lawyer Ira Greenstein was a member of ex-Congressman John Sweeney's "Tiger Team." While he was still Genie Energy's acting President.

This made Greenstein an official presidential transition team member for the incoming Trump administration, as some may recall, Jared Kushner was a member of this team as well.

[Mar 23, 2019] Is Kushner in trouble?

Mar 23, 2019 | twitter.com

PoliticusUSA ‏ 4:00 PM - 22 Mar 2019

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said that there is a strong possibility that Trump's family could be indicted by other entities based on the work of Mueller. http:// ow.ly/ZibI30o9PFQ

[Mar 23, 2019] It's time to go ho home

Mar 23, 2019 | twitter.com

Mike Gravel ‏ 6:48 AM - 22 Mar 2019

U.S. out of Iraq. U.S. out of Syria. U.S. out of Afghanistan. U.S. out of South Korea. U.S. out of Okinawa. U.S. out of Germany. U.S. out of Saudi Arabia. U.S. out of Cameroon. U.S. out of Djibouti. U.S. out of Qatar. U.S. out of Niger.

America, come home.

[Mar 23, 2019] For decades, Space has been a model of cooperation between global superpowers. But such cooperation is the latest victim of the new Cold War. Trump/Neocon efforts to start a space war/arms race will lead to destruction of our country and planet.

Mar 23, 2019 | twitter.com

Tulsi Gabbard ‏Verified account @ TulsiGabbard Mar 17

For decades, Space has been a model of cooperation between global superpowers. But such cooperation is the latest victim of the new Cold War. Trump/Neocon efforts to start a space war/arms race will lead to destruction of our country and planet. # Tulsi2020

https://www.newsweek.com/scientists-warn-trumps-space-force-could-create-incentives-nations-build-1336633 pic.twitter.com/WSX3q8J3Hb

/ol

Tulsi Gabbard ‏Verified account @ TulsiGabbard Mar 17

For decades, Space has been a model of cooperation between global superpowers. But such cooperation is the latest victim of the new Cold War. Trump/Neocon efforts to start a space war/arms race will lead to destruction of our country and planet. # Tulsi2020

https://www.newsweek.com/scientists-warn-trumps-space-force-could-create-incentives-nations-build-1336633 pic.twitter.com/WSX3q8J3Hb

[Mar 22, 2019] Trump Puts America Last by Daniel Larison

Mar 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As usual, Trump made the announcement of recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan Heights without any consultation with any of the relevant administration officials:

President Donald Trump's tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials.

U.S. diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be front and center at next week's meetings between Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. But they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this week.

No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before Trump's decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the dark.

Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing of Trump's message.

After more than two years of watching Trump's impulsive and reckless "governing" style, it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that he makes these decisions without advance warning. There is no evidence that Trump ever thinks anything through, and so he probably sees no reason to tell anyone in advance what he is going to do.

Trump almost never bothers consulting with the people who will be responsible for carrying out his policies and dealing with the international fallout, and that is probably why so many of his policy decisions end up being exceptionally poor ones. The substance of most of Trump's foreign policy decisions was never likely to be good, but the lack of an organized policy process on major decisions makes those decisions even more haphazard and chaotic than they would otherwise be.

There is absolutely no upside for the United States in endorsing illegal Israeli claims to the Golan Heights. It is a cynical political stunt intended to boost Netanyahu and Likud's fortunes in the upcoming election, and it is also a cynical stunt aimed at shoring up Trump's support from Republican "pro-Israel" voters and donors.

Whatever short-term benefit Israel gains from it, the U.S. gains nothing and stands to lose quite a bit in terms of our international standing.

There has been no consideration of the costs and problems this will create for the U.S. in its relations with other regional states and beyond because Trump couldn't care less about the long-term effects that his decisions have on the country.

Once again, Trump has put narrow political ambitions and the interests of a foreign government ahead of the interests of the United States. That seems to be the inevitable result of electing a narcissist who conducts foreign policy based on which leaders flatter and praise him.

Trump's bad decision can be traced back to Bolton's visit to Israel earlier this year:

Administration officials said that National Security Advisor John Bolton was instrumental to the decision, after visiting Israel in January to assure officials there that the United States would not abandon them in Syria despite Trump's sudden withdrawal of troops from the battlefield.

Nervous Israeli officials saw an opportunity. "It was an ask," one Israeli source said, "because of the timing -- it suddenly became a relevant issue about Iran."

Bolton is usually the culprit responsible any destructive and foolish policy decision over the last year, and his baleful influence continues to grow. We can also see the harmful effects of the administration's Iran obsession at work. In the end, the Syria "withdrawal" hasn't happened and apparently isn't going to, but Trump nonetheless gives Israel whatever it wants in exchange for nothing so that they will be "reassured" of our unthinking support.



SF Bay March 21, 2019 at 10:28 pm

Well, of course Trump puts America last. There is one and only one person he is interested in -- himself. As you say this is his narcissistic personality at work.

My never ending question is always, "Why does any Republican with a conscience remain silent? Are they really all this shallow and self absorbed? Is there nothing Trump does that will finally force them to put country before party and their own ambition?"

It's a really sad state of events that has put this country on the road to ruin.

Kouros , , March 21, 2019 at 11:39 pm
I wonder what Mr. Kagan has to say now about "authoritarian" regimes?!
Trump 2016 , , March 22, 2019 at 1:45 am
Trump is making one hell of a mess for the next president to clean up. Straightening out all this stupidity will take years. Here's hoping that Trump gets to watch his foreign policy decisions tossed out and reversed from federal prison.
Grumpy Old Man , , March 22, 2019 at 3:29 am
He ought to recognize Russia's seizure of Crimea. Why not? Кто кого?
Tony , , March 22, 2019 at 8:50 am
The decision to leave the INF treaty was taken in a similar way and with a total disregard for the consequences. The leaders of the European NATO countries have shown utter spinelessness in going along with it.

The administration says that a Russian missile violates the treaty but it will not tell us what the range of the missile is. Nor will it allow its weapons inspectors to go and look at it.

The reason is clear: Fear that the weapons inspectors' findings would contradict the administration's claims.

Some Perspective , , March 22, 2019 at 9:08 am
I voted Republican ever since I started voting. I voted for Bush I, Dole, Dubya, and McCain. I couldn't vote for either Obama or Romney, but I voted for Trump because of Hillary Clinton.

I am shocked and horrified by what I've seen under Trump. I am deeply disappointed that so few Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) have stood up to him on foreign policy, and I will never vote Republican again. This GOP/Israel connection stinks to high heaven. Anyone who studied or remembers our problem with Communist spies back in the '50s has got to be hearing alarm bells ringing in their ears. Worries about Soviet spying and Russian meddling pale in comparison to what's now going on in plain sight with Israel.

We're losing our country. We're losing America.

Sid Finster , , March 22, 2019 at 10:22 am
To be fair, it ain't just Team R that has the sloppy crush on Israel. Team D is just as bad, even if they don't gush quite so publicly. In fact, episodes such as this one are useful in a way, as they make it hard to pretend that this is just a one-off, a misguided decision that we have to go along with to appease a powerful friend.

Europoliticians tell that last one a lot. "We really don't want to but the Americans twisted our arms ZOMG Special Relationship so sorry ZOMG!" Only with a lot more Eurobureaucratese.

G-Pol , , March 22, 2019 at 11:15 am
I agree with the article's premise, but not because of this move regarding Israel.

Personally, I believe this move will have little impact on the outcome of the crisis in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab monarchies are too focused on containing Iran and Turkey to give a crap about what Israel does. The only Arab states that I can see objecting to this move are Syria (obviously) and the others who were already allied with Iran and/or Turkey to begin with.

Right now, the REAL center of attention in the region should be Northern Syria. THAT's where the next major war likely will begin. In that area, Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are the ones doing the major escalations, while Israel has virtually no role at all aside from sideline cheer-leading. And of course, Trump is doing nothing to stop what could become the next July Crisis. What's "America First" about that?

Nevertheless, Israel should be very concerned about Northern Syria. If war breaks out and the US is forced to go to war with its own NATO ally as a result, Israel should prepare to kiss its alliance with the US goodbye.

There is no way our international reputation will come out of this war unscathed, and odds are we'll be in a far worse position diplomatically than we were at any point in our history, even during the Iraq war. When that happens, the American people will be out to assign blame. Many (rightfully or not) will blame Israel due to its connections to neoconservatism and Saudi jingoism, and consequently we may end up seeing BOTH parties becoming unfriendly to Israel over the subsequent generation.

All of this could be prevented if President Trump would just tell Saudi Arabia to STOP the nonsense. But no. He's too focused on MIC profits. He's not America First. And quite frankly, I'm starting to think Benjamin Netanyahu is not Israel-first either, because if he were he'd be warning Trump about the mess he's going to end up getting America, Israel, and much of Europe and the Middle East into.

[Mar 22, 2019] So you ask what I will change? I will change our priorities so we stop wasting trillions of our dollars on wasteful counterproductive wars

Mar 22, 2019 | twitter.com

Tulsi Gabbard ‏ 7:34 AM - 19 Mar 2019

"So you ask what I will change? I will change our priorities so we stop wasting trillions of our dollars on wasteful counterproductive wars and dedicate them to taking care of the urgent needs of our communities across this country." # ServiceBeforeSelf # PeaceDvidend

Tulsi Gabbard ‏ 7:44 AM - 20 Mar 2019

"I'm not running for president to BE president. I'm running for president to be able to bring about this sea change in our foreign policy that is so necessary for us and for the world, and I'm most qualified to do that." # ServiceBeforeSelf # Tulsi2020 pic.twitter.com/wk2M7O0CgR

[Mar 22, 2019] The War on Yemen and the Trump Administration's Contempt for the Law

Mar 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Trump administration has ignored yet another mandated deadline for reporting to Congress on Yemen:

A senior Pentagon official had pledged to deliver the strategy report at the beginning of March after failing to meet a Feb. 1 deadline mandated by law.

In recent months, the Trump administration has disregarded several certification requirements from Congress. In February, the State Department refused to say whether the Saudi-led force had reduced civilian casualties in the Yemeni conflict. And the White House failed to respond to lawmakers' query about whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Last year, the administration met the first certification deadline by brazenly lying to Congress that the Saudi coalition was successfully reducing harm to civilians in Yemen. Congress completely failed to hold Secretary Pompeo accountable for those lies, and the administration has obviously concluded that it can get away with disregarding these requirements. For the last several months, both the Secretary of State and the Pentagon have simply refused to comply with the law. In this case, the Pentagon probably can't "detail specific US diplomatic and national security objectives" because the only discernible objective of reflexive support for the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen is to indulge them in whatever they want to do. An administration that has illegally involved the U.S. in the war on Yemen for more than two years obviously won't have any respect for legal requirements set by Congress when they can't even be bothered to respect the Constitution.

The administration's contempt for the law and their disrespect for Congress are additional reasons why the House should vote on and pass the antiwar Yemen resolution that the Senate passed earlier this month. Beyond that, Congress needs to increase pressure on the Saudi and Emirati governments with additional measures to cut off arms sales and hearings to scrutinize the numerous human rights abuses and war crimes committed by their forces and their proxies.

When war supporters object that Congress risks undermining the U.S.-Saudi relationship, it is important for members of Congress to know that it is Mohammed bin Salman who has jeopardized the relationship through his reckless and destructive behavior. The Saudi government has been desperately lying about its conduct in Yemen and elsewhere to the U.S. and the entire world, and the crown prince has proven himself to be completely unreliable and strikingly incompetent at everything except grabbing more power for himself:

"We know who this guy is, we know what he's capable of, and treating him like he's an ally or a reliable partner is totally untenable," said Jeremy Konyndyk, a former US Agency for International Development director during the Obama administration.

The Saudi government has made itself a liability to the U.S. Since the administration puts Saudi Arabia first and won't do anything to defend American interests, it falls to Congress to do what the president won't.

[Mar 22, 2019] I wonder what Mr. Kagan has to say now about authoritarian regimes?!

Mar 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As usual, Trump made the announcement of recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan Heights without any consultation with any of the relevant administration officials...

President Donald Trump's tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials.

U.S. diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be front and center at next week's meetings between Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. But they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this week.

No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before Trump's decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the dark.

Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing of Trump's message.

After more than two years of watching Trump's impulsive and reckless "governing" style, it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that he makes these decisions without advance warning. There is no evidence that Trump ever thinks anything through, and so he probably sees no reason to tell anyone in advance what he is going to do. Trump almost never bothers consulting with the people who will be responsible for carrying out his policies and dealing with the international fallout, and that is probably why so many of his policy decisions end up being exceptionally poor ones. The substance of most of Trump's foreign policy decisions was never likely to be good, but the lack of an organized policy process on major decisions makes those decisions even more haphazard and chaotic than they would otherwise be.

There is absolutely no upside for the United States in endorsing illegal Israeli claims to the Golan Heights. It is a cynical political stunt intended to boost Netanyahu and Likud's fortunes in the upcoming election, and it is also a cynical stunt aimed at shoring up Trump's support from Republican "pro-Israel" voters and donors.

Kouros , March 21, 2019 at 11:39 pm

I wonder what Mr. Kagan has to say now about "authoritarian" regimes?!

[Mar 21, 2019] Trump, Bolsonaro and the danger of fascism

Mar 20, 2019 | www.wsws.org

The three-day visit to Washington by the president of Brazil brought together two of the most right-wing figures in the world: Jair Bolsonaro, a former military officer and fervent admirer of the blood-soaked military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, and Donald Trump, who has become the pole of attraction for authoritarians and fascists the world over, including the gunman who slaughtered 50 Muslims at two New Zealand mosques last week.

During their joint press conference at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Trump repeated his declaration, delivered to an audience of right-wing Cuban and Venezuelan exiles in Florida, that "The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere." He emphasized, as he did in his State of the Union speech, that this also involved putting an end to the threat of socialism within the United States itself.

Both Trump and Bolsonaro have made the extirpation of socialism -- the political core of fascist movements -- the central goal of their governments. At their joint press conference, they railed against socialism only days after the massacre in New Zealand, carried out by Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant posted a manifesto hailing Trump as a "symbol of renewed white identity" and declaring his desire to put his boot on the neck of every "Marxist."

The mutual embrace of Trump and Bolsonaro at the White House is symbolic of the elevation of far-right parties and cultivation of fascistic forces by capitalist governments and established bourgeois parties all over the world. It underscores the fact that the growth of fascism in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US is the result not of a groundswell of mass support from below, but rather the sponsorship and encouragement of so-called "democratic" governments that are, in fact, controlled top to bottom by corporate oligarchs.

The global promotion of extreme right politics was embodied by the presence of right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs vice president and Navy officer, as a guest of honor at a dinner with Jair Bolsonaro Monday night. Bannon has close ties with Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo, who is a member of the Brazilian Parliament and a Latin American representative of the political consortium set up by Bannon, known as the Movement, whose aim is to promote extreme right-wing political parties throughout the world. "Some of the Bolsonaro team on the right see themselves as disciples of the Bannon movement and representatives of Bannon for Brazil and Latin America," one former Trump administration official told McClatchy.

At the press conference, both Jair Bolsonaro and Trump pledged their support to a fascistic litany of "god, family and nation," as Trump put it. Bolsonaro declared, "Brazil and the United States stand side-by-side in their efforts to share liberties and respect to traditional and family lifestyles, respect to God, our creator, against the gender ideology of the politically correct attitudes, and fake news."

Both presidents threatened the use of military force against Venezuela, demonizing President Nicolas Maduro as a socialist dictator. (He heads a capitalist regime, but one whose foreign policy tilts toward China and Russia rather than US imperialism).

Trump reiterated the mantra that "all options are on the table" against Venezuela. Bolsonaro was asked if he would permit US soldiers to use Brazilian soil as a base for military operations against Venezuela. Rather than dismissing that prospect as a violation of both Brazilian and Venezuelan sovereignty, he declined to answer, citing the need for maintaining operational secrecy and the element of surprise.

One of the bilateral agreements that Trump and Bolsonaro signed would allow the United States to use Brazil's Alcantara Aerospace Launch Base for its satellites. Brazil also announced an end to visa requirements for US visitors...

Before visiting the White House, Bolsonaro made an unannounced visit to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, an extraordinary move for the president of a country that was subjected to 21 years of unrestrained torture and murder by a military dictatorship installed in a CIA-backed coup.

The dire implications for the working class of the global rise of the far right are indicated by Bolsonaro's glorification of the Brazilian military dictatorship. Trump hailed the "shared values" between his government and that of a former military officer who praises a regime that jailed, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of workers and students. Twenty years ago, Bolsonaro told an interviewer that the Brazilian Congress should be shut down and that the country could be changed only by a civil war that completed "the job that the military regime didn't do, killing 30,000 people."

The capitalist ruling classes are turning once again to dictatorship and fascism in response to the intensification of the world economic crisis, the disintegration of the postwar international order and growth of trade war and geostrategic conflicts, and, above all, the resurgence of the class struggle on a world scale...

... ... ...

Patrick Martin

[Mar 21, 2019] Jared Kushner WhatsApp, Private Email Democrats Demand Records - Bloomberg

Notable quotes:
"... The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. But in another stand-off with House Democrats, Cipollone on Thursday rejected a request renewed last week from Cummings and two other committee chairmen for information on Trump's communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... Cummings said the committee obtained a document that "appears" to show that McFarland conducted official business on her personal email account. He said the document was related to efforts by McFarland and other White House officials to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia "in coordination with Tom Barrack, a personal friend of President Trump and the chairman of President Trump's inaugural committee." ..."
"... Regarding Trump's communications with Putin, Cummings, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel say they are examining the substance of in-person meetings and phone calls, the effects on foreign policy, and whether anyone has sought to conceal those communications. ..."
"... The Constitution gives the executive branch exclusive power to conduct foreign relations, Cipollone said. "Congress cannot require the president to disclose confidential communications with foreign leaders." ..."
Mar 21, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

A key House Democrat is renewing demands that the White House turn over documents about the use of private texts or emails by Jared Kushner, saying Kushner's lawyer acknowledged that the senior aide used the non-secure WhatsApp application to communicate with foreign leaders.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a letter sent Thursday to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone that the administration has failed to produce documents tied to Kushner and other officials despite requests from the committee since 2017. Cummings also sought a briefing on how the official messages are being preserved.

... ... ...

The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. But in another stand-off with House Democrats, Cipollone on Thursday rejected a request renewed last week from Cummings and two other committee chairmen for information on Trump's communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

WhatsApp

Cummings, to underscore his concern about whether unsecured White House communications have included classified information, said in his letter that Lowell acknowledged during the December meeting that Kushner had used WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders.

Kushner is a senior White House adviser and the son-in-law of President Donald Trump , overseeing the administration's Middle East policies among other issues. Cummings said he and then-Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy , a Republican who has since retired from Congress, met with Lowell in December.

Cummings's letter said Lowell said that Kushner has been in compliance with the law, and that he takes "screenshots" of communications on his private WhatsApp account and forwards them to his official White House email account or to the National Security Council.

Cummings wrote that when asked whether Kushner ever used WhatsApp to discuss classified information, Lowell replied, "That's above my pay grade."

The focus on Kushner and others follows the earlier investigations by the Justice Department and Republican-controlled congressional committees of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she served as secretary of state during the Obama administration.

'Alternative Means'

In Thursday's letter, Cummings said the White House's refusal to turn over documents is "obstructing the committee's investigation into allegations of violations of federal records laws" and potential breaches of national security. He demanded that the White House say by March 28 whether it intends to comply voluntarily with the renewed requests.

"If you continue to withhold these documents from the committee, we will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance," Cummings said.

... ... ....

K.T. McFarland

Cummings also wrote that his committee has obtained new information about other White House officials that raises additional security and federal records concerns about the use of private email and messaging applications.

His letter said others may have been involved in the practice while they worked at the White House, including former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Cummings said the committee obtained a document that "appears" to show that McFarland conducted official business on her personal email account. He said the document was related to efforts by McFarland and other White House officials to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia "in coordination with Tom Barrack, a personal friend of President Trump and the chairman of President Trump's inaugural committee."

The chairman said another document appeared to show that Bannon received documents "pitching the plan from Mr. Barrack through his personal email account," at a time Bannon was at the White House and working on broader Middle East policy.

Regarding Trump's communications with Putin, Cummings, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel say they are examining the substance of in-person meetings and phone calls, the effects on foreign policy, and whether anyone has sought to conceal those communications.

In a written response Thursday, Cipollone wrote, "While we respectfully seek to accommodate appropriate oversight requests, we are unaware of any precedent supporting such sweeping requests."

The Constitution gives the executive branch exclusive power to conduct foreign relations, Cipollone said. "Congress cannot require the president to disclose confidential communications with foreign leaders."

In a joint statement on Thursday night, Cummings, Engel and Schiff said that the Obama administration had "produced records describing the president and secretary of state's calls with foreign leaders." The congressmen added that "President Trump's decision to break with this precedent raises the question of what he has to hide."

( Updates with statement from Cummings, Schiff and Engel, in final paragraph. )

[Mar 21, 2019] The Lives the Free Market Took

Mar 21, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

BY
BRANKO MARCETIC

The people who died in last Sunday's plane crash were not just killed by Boeing. Their deaths stemmed from an ideology that puts business interests above human life.


... ... ...

Boeing is not just a lobbying juggernaut that donates prodigiously to politicians all over the country; it's also a company in which numerous members of Congress are personally invested, and it cultivates mutually beneficial financial relationships with top officials . Meanwhile, as William McGee of Consumer Reports told Amy Goodman , these issues are rooted in the FAA's lax, business-friendly oversight of the very industry it's meant to regulate, a case of regulatory capture that stretches back long before this administration.

Whatever the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines flight reveals, the lives put at risk by lax regulations are not apolitical tragedies; they are caused by an administration that time and again has shown itself to be callous and indifferent to the lives of the people it claims to fight for, whether Puerto Ricans left to fend for themselves in the wake of natural disaster, or federal workers used as bargaining chips in a game of political brinkmanship.

But more than that, they are victims of an ideology that tells us the greatest insult to human life is not the death and misery that comes from unchecked greed, but efforts to democratically control it through public institutions. The real problems aren't unsafe products, pollution, dangerous chemicals, and the like, we're told, but "red tape" and the taxes used to fund the bodies regulating them. Meanwhile, activists like Nader have long been painted as " wacky " extremists in the pursuit of some quixotic ideological crusade simply for trying to do things like prevent people from dying in cars without seat belts .

When social-democratic policies are enacted, wealthy people take less home after taxes, and businesses are inconvenienced by regulations meant to secure the common good. But when neoliberal policies are put in place, people and their families go hungry, they lose their homes, they get injured on the job, they get sick, and, sometimes, they die. The public should be enraged by the actions of governments like Trump's and Trudeau's; but we should also be angry at a political narrative that tells us trying to stop such tragedies is "ideological" instead of common sense. We owe it to the crash victims to create no more of them.


[Mar 21, 2019] The Boeing 737 Max 8- a Case Study in Uncreative Destruction

Mar 21, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

On May 12, 2010, the New York Times ran an article by economics editor Catherine Rampell titled "The New Poor: In Job Market Shift, Some Workers Are Left Behind"that focused on the largely middle-aged unemployed who will probably never work again. For example, 52 year old administrative assistant Cynthia Norton has been working part-time at Walmart while sending resumes everywhere but nobody gets back to her. She is part of a much bigger picture:

Ms. Norton is one of 1.7 million Americans who were employed in clerical and administrative positions when the recession began, but were no longer working in that occupation by the end of last year. There have also been outsize job losses in other occupation categories that seem unlikely to be revived during the economic recovery. The number of printing machine operators, for example, was nearly halved from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2009. The number of people employed as travel agents fell by 40 percent.

But Ms. Rampell finds the silver lining in this dark cloud:

This "creative destruction" in the job market can benefit the economy.

Pruning relatively less-efficient employees like clerks and travel agents, whose work can be done more cheaply by computers or workers abroad, makes American businesses more efficient. Year over year, productivity growth was at its highest level in over 50 years last quarter, pushing corporate profits to record highs and helping the economy grow.

The term "creative destruction" might ring a bell. It was coined by Werner Sombart in his 1913 book "War and Capitalism". When he was young, Sombart considered himself a Marxist. His notion of creative destruction was obviously drawn from Karl Marx, who, according to some, saw capitalism in terms of the business cycle. With busts following booms, like night follows day, a new round of capital accumulation can begin. This interpretation is particularly associated with Volume Two of Capital that examines this process in great detail. Looking at this material, some Marxists like Eduard Bernstein drew the conclusion that capitalism is an infinitely self-sustaining system.

By 1913, Sombart had dumped the Marxist commitment to social revolution but still retained the idea that there was a basis in Karl Marx for upholding the need for "creative destruction", a view buttressed by an overly positive interpretation of