The First-Ever Fern of England Photo Caption Contest

Finalists at World Imperialist Poker Championship (Ultimate Doom Edition) agree to play one last round before competing against the current champion (not pictured)” 
Lurch, the butler, struggles bravely to hold in fart before getting up to distribute cards and chips to the players. Miss Susan, the skullduggery maid, searches for choke-proof pretzels, before serving beers. Judges discuss whether next year’s final will be held in conditions of nuclear winter.


Finalists at World Imperialist Poker Championship (Ultimate Doom Edition) agree to play one last round before competing against the current champion (not pictured)

Lurch, the butler, struggles bravely to hold in fart before getting up to distribute cards and chips to the players. Miss Susan, the skullduggery maid, searches for choke-proof pretzels, before serving beers. Judges discuss whether next year’s final will be held in conditions of nuclear winter.

This is a fortuitous moment to take action on an idea proposed by Fern, as the comments are beginning to stack up in the previous post and I am going to be doing “family time” again and will be drawn away from posting and reading. Also, we have an intro coming up from hoct which will lead into publication here on a new page of scholarly articles, this post to deal with researched data on Soviet losses during the war. All things I am looking forward to but have little free time to implement.

So, the photo caption contest. Everyone knows how that works. It’s named after Fern – whose surname I do not know, hence the “Fern of England” thing – because it was her idea, and Fern will therefore be the judge as well. This unfortunately means she cannot be a contestant herself: hey, I don’t make the rules. Oh, wait – I do. Anyway, since she is the only judge and decision-maker, it stands to reason she cannot be a contestant. Feel free to carry on the discussion from the last post, but please open with your own entry to the photo-caption contest; after that, each can talk about whatever he/she likes as we are accustomed to do. But everyone’s first comment must include a suggested photo caption. On….let’s say Tuesday, Fern will render her verdict. Once the winner is announced, I will send them a prize of a brand-new, never-worn, one-size-fits-all baseball cap bearing the logo of MEGGITT Training Systems Canada, a subsidiary of a huge European defense conglomerate called EADS (European Aeronautics Defense and Space), which has since changed its name to Airbus. That might have something to do with a fairly-recent financial scandal that inspired a company-wide shakeup; might not. Whatever the case there, MEGGIT Training Systems Canada is small fry in the big pond and could have had nothing to do with Euro-gangsterism. MEGGITT makes remote-controlled targets for the Royal Canadian Navy, chiefly the Hammerhead surface target and the Vindicator air target, as well as the jet-powered air DT series. I was there for that last photo; it features my then-Commanding Officer, Commander Hayden Edmundson (HMCS REGINA) and Meggitt Training Systems Canada’s then-president, Spence Fraser, a former naval officer himself. He recently departed following a nasty head-butting contest with head office, and although he was indeed a stubborn guy, he was a visionary and dynamic leader whose advocacy for the company the parent firm were fools to let go. Behind them are a DT-25 Carrier, with the smaller DT-55 slung on the belly. This provides a very realistic scenario in which the DT-25 acts as a closing aircraft, which then looses off an air-to-surface missile (the DT-55) at you. Speeds are comparable with actual profiles (450 knots for the DT-55 or 517.8 mph, and it’s tiny, only 1.6 m long) , factoring in the size of the target compared with its real counterpart. I know, because I shot at this very target combination after the photo was taken. All this information is straight off the net, no classified sources.

The ball cap itself – which is plain black with the MEGGITT logo – has history as well. I originally obtained it from MEGGITT’s RCN Special Projects Officer, John Leblanc, as a gift for Yalensis, who had won some point of discussion much earlier here on the blog. His chronic nervousness regarding personal security meant he declined to provide a mailing address (he’s a very private person, which is entirely his own affair), and it has since then been cluttering up my closet, awaiting a proud owner.

There: doesn’t that make you want it? Same rules as for the coffee mugs: if you win and prefer to donate it to someone else, you can do so. Obviously you can only win once, because I don’t have any more of them.

It’s on.

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744 Responses to The First-Ever Fern of England Photo Caption Contest

  1. yalensis says:

    Interesting press conference about the mood in Slav’ansk, as told by pro-UKRAINIAN activists.

    TRANSLATION
    Pro-Ukrainian activists from Slav’ansk narrated at a press-conference [in Kiev] about the mood in Slav’ansk, where despite [!] the town’s coming under control of Kiev, pro-Russian leanings are on the rise.
    One of the examples given was the local railroad lyceum, whose director IGNORES [gasp!] Ukrainian symbology.

    “We had Flag Day. Independence Day. And all this time: no flags, no Ukrainian symbols were hung out by this man,” complains Nikolai Tishakov, Chairman of the Coordinating Committee for the town of Slav’ansk.
    “Only on September 4, after he was hunted down [!], did he hang out a flag. And this is the man who is educating our children!”
    Tishakov agrees that the pro-Russian mood of Slav’ansk has not dissipated one iota, despite [!] the banning of Russian TV channels.
    “My people of Slav’ansk admire strength, and they do not see strength in the Ukrainian government,” he postulates. “The situation hasn’t changed, and things have only gotten worse than they were before the seizure [of the town by junta soldiers]. They [the people of the town] used to conduct themselves completely brazenly, and now they’ve gotten even more exagerratedly brazen. In Slav’ansk there are no Russian TV channels, but Russian propaganda is heard ever more on the so-called “Sarafan Radio Network’ [i.e., word of mouth].”

    The pro-Ukrainian activists [at the press conference] also narrated, how the supporters of DPR visibly perked up after the significant defeats of the Ukrainian [army] in the South, in the second half of August.

    “On 24 August we had a ‘veche’ [people’s council] devoted to Independence Day,” recalls Slav’ansk resident Harris Okht’amov, a member of the civil organization “START”. “And there were provocations. The supporters of separatism were starting to feel their oats. They are openly longing for Girkin’s [Strelkov’s] return. And you can just feel this on the streets. Once again, people are starting to tear down flags, and a person is not safe walking down the street wearing an embroidered shirt. I know some cases [where one was murdered for wearing an embroidered shirt].”

    • yalensis says:

      A couple of take-aways from this:
      (1) These guys are such nazis, it’s both funny and scary to listen to them talk. They think it is completely normal (in a “democracy”) to ban certain TV channels; but is abnormal when people whose channels have been shut off don’t automatically fall under the spell of the new propaganda that is being forced down their throats.
      (2) That bit about “These people admire strength” is also scary, because that’s also nazi talk. As in, if people don’t agree with your opinion, then you should continue to beat them until they do.
      (3) Like the nazis they are, they also whine a lot and portray THEMSELVES as the victims. “Oh, I can’t wear my embroidered shirt! I am scared to walk down the street! Boo hoo!”

      One of the commenters, who calls himself Vlad I wrote this brilliant response:
      Осень. Проукраинские активисты сняли вышиванки.
      Зима. Бывшие проукраинские активисты надели ватники

      (Autumn. The pro-Ukrainian activists removed their embroidered shirts.
      Winter. The former pro-Ukrainian activists started wearing vatniki.)

      (4) That’s interesting about the people longing for Strelkov’s return.
      I believe, and have said before, that I think it would be a huge propaganda coup if and when Seps re-take Slav’ansk, to have Strelkov leading the way back into the town.

  2. colliemum says:

    Looks like the German worm might be turning – very carefully:
    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/ukraine-cdu-fraktionsvize-warnt-vor-rettungspaket-a-991375.html

    So one of top honchos in Merkel’s governing party, someone who is also an economist, warns about the costs for the Ukraine, demands that any German monetary gifts come with strings attached, such as an independent judiciary to tackle corruption, and then comes up with this gem: why should German taxpayers bear the burden when Ukrainian oligarchs buy up whole streets in London? Why should they not be made to contribute?

    Comments on this article are hugely supportive of that view.
    And remember, he is one of the vice presidents of Merkel’s party – not some disgruntled back bencher …

  3. kirill says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bx5PuyA3eWA

    Yet another rebel walkabout through destroyed Kiev regime positions. I have seen not a single example of Ukr army soldiers making such videos (or even taking photographs) of destroyed Russian columns and positions. And Ukr soldiers actually do like to make such videos so it isn’t because they are nice people or something.

    I like how the rebels making these videos always react to the ubiquitous glass jars of ‘salo’.

    • marknesop says:

      Only a couple of these look recent, though; there’s a lot of rust, no bodies or bones or smoke and the positions look to have been abandoned for some time. Curiously, the salo jar seems always to survive the most vicious GRAD bombardment. Perhaps there’s a hint there for the inventive Ukie armorers – they should start building APC’s from empty salo jars. Or asking NATO to build some for them, since their concept of building their own weapons seems to begin and end with big sticks with nails in the ends.

      • kirill says:

        The rust does not say anything about how old they are. The intense heat involved in the explosions that destroyed this equipment literally burns steel forming an oxide layer. This is very rapid rust formation and not the slow reaction we are all used to. The rust on this equipment is very orange and has not been washed off by rain giving the more usual brown colour.

        I have seen the salo jars playing a role in many of these videos. Maybe it is a rebel joke of some sort. But often such a jar is sitting amongst other food items. I have not seen any salo jars in burned out wreckage, yet🙂

        • Southerncross says:

          The many Putin-is-a-fucker mats seem not to have helped their owners much.

        • patient observer says:

          taking selfies with salo jars could go viral.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, that’s true, but the wrecks are often sitting in large pools of water, presumably from rainfall, and are not smoking as they would be if they were hot – they look to be ambient temperature. The absence of any bodies, burned or otherwise, suggests these sites have already been picked over and the dead taken away for burial. However, there are still some ammo boxes and suchlike lying around, which would likely have been removed unless they are empty, so perhaps they are somewhat recent.

          The point, however, that the Ukies are not able to show the scenes of any such carnage inflicted on Russian formations is not disputed.

  4. Fern says:

    yalensis, I think you posted on the visit of a Malaysian government minister to Moscow and I wondered whether you had seen the latest remarks by Sergei Lavrov where he confirmed the minster met with Russian defence and aviation experts who discussed with him the Russian satellite and radar data on the crash. Lavrov has also served notice that Russia is not going to let MH17 fade away and he engaged in some very diplomatic but on point criticism of the initial Dutch report and the investigation team that produced it.

    ”Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that he had been surprised by the calm tone of the Dutch authorities’ preliminary report on MH17 crash.
    “First of all, it [the report] surprised me because despite all the clamour about this tragedy, the tone is somewhat calm, the work is being done slowly and leisurely. There are no demands to ensure the resumption of expert work at the crash site. There were no attempts to go there to collect, as they say, the debris and see what the entire plane looked like, and nobody spoke about it out loud….

    “We are probably the only ones who are constantly reminding [global community] of the fact that there is a UN Security Council resolution, which demands that the investigation should be thorough, international, transparent, and accountable. As for the international response, it seems like we have a group of experts under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the organization is taking some steps to set up multilateral discussions, but it lacks transparency and accountability,” Lavrov said.

    “Now that the ‘propaganda cream’ has been skimmed off, it is possible that one does not really want to investigate the true cause of the accident. [But] that’s not our approach,” Lavrov said.

    Russian defence and aviation experts are studying the initial report of the crash issued earlier in the week and preparing another list of key questions they believe need to be answered to resolve what happened to the flight.

    http://en.ria.ru/world/20140913/192910575/Lavrov-Dutch-Report-on-MH17-Crash-Provided-No-Answers-to-Russias.html

    • yalensis says:

      Thanks for this, Fern.

      I get the impression that Lavrov is just bursting with what he knows, and he can’t wait for the real story to come out!

    • patient observer says:

      Great Lavrov quote: “And now when the ‘propagandist cream’ has got removed, maybe those people do not really want to investigate the plane crash.”

  5. pinkie_pie says:

    I suggest this photo for the next caption contest. But I’m not judging it – too lazy…, ahem, buzy!😀

    • yalensis says:

      Come on, Barry… You KNOW you got a thing for me, you just won’t admit it!

    • james@wpc says:

      Great pic! If Mark does take it up, I suggest Malooga as judge. He being the reigning champ and all.🙂

    • marknesop says:

      Q. Come on, Barry – how big is it, really? Is it, say…bigger than a matchbox but smaller than a boxcar? Bigger than a gherkin but smaller than a zucchini? You can tell me: I promise I’ll never breathe a word.

      A. I’d rather not say. There are some things gentlemen do not discuss.

    • Al says:

      Here’s mine.

      V.V. интересное Путин (VViP): “Westerners like to laugh at Russian technology. You wouldn’t know by looking, but I’ve had Barack stuffed and mounted. If you look closely you might see that I’ve upgraded him as my personal drone.

    • Jen says:

      Vlad: “So, is it true what the media say, that you have no strategy or plan on what to do about the Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria?”
      Barack: “That’s not for you to know!”

    • Malooga says:

      Putin: I read your speech, “America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.” It sounds nice, but what does it mean?

  6. patient observer says:

    Nord Stream comes ashore in Germany and its capacity is about 55 billion m3 annually:
    http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/projects/pipelines/nord-stream/
    Per the following, virtually all imported natural gas consumed in Germany is via Nord Stream.
    http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=gm
    Thus, the gas distribution system in Germany is already configured for Nord Stream gas. This suggests that some farsighted individuals were involved with this project.
    In any event and per the forgoing, Germany is simply a transit country for Russian gas via Ukraine.

    If Ukraine were to stop transit gas, Germany supplies would not be affected. Although much is made of Germany dependence on Russian gas, in reality it is secure relative to disruption in transit gas. German solidarity with the EU regarding Ukraine is not driven by energy concerns but rather by political forces. This means Germany can talk tough to Russia regarding Ukraine and Ukraine can make threats to disrupt transit gas without fear of a Germany backlash. This makes Germany the indispensable nation in the US plans for the push against Russia (apredicated on an untouchable Nord Stream supply).

    On the other hand, Russia counter-sanction sanctions can severely damage the German economy. If Russian really wants to hit Germany where it hurts, they need to direct sanctions their way – cancellation of high speed train contracts, banning Lufthansa from overflights, banning auto imports etc. The result could be that Germany switches – becoming a compliant partner to Russia with a secure gas source and trade while the rest of Europe sinks tied to the US-Ukraine anchor. This is only conjecture but still a possibility.

    • james@wpc says:

      That is a very pertinent fact about Germany’s gas supply. I’d say the whole raison d’etre for Nord Stream was to safeguard Germany’s gas supply from third party interference. So what you say makes a lot of sense, Patient Observer.

      Medvedev did mention overflight restrictions at the announcement of Russia’s first response to sanctions but I think it would lead onto a lot of tit-for-tating. I would think restrictions on imported cars are much more likely with European parts suppliers for European assembly plants in Russia encouraged to set up shop in Russia.

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a joint Chinese-Russian car is announced with its own dedicated plant in the near future. China is the number one car manufacturer in the world today!

      I think it is also very likely there will be moves against the dollar and in ways that directly help Russia which will entail changes to the legislation that covers Russia’s central bank. But we’ll see soon enough.

    • marknesop says:

      And a well-supported possibility, from my viewpoint, That’s a convincing argument, that Germany mostly does not depend on Ukraine for its supply of Russian gas. Most people only look at the figure for the degree of dependence on the gas itself, and not at the source or the pivotal position Germany enjoys, although most everyone understands on some level that Germany is the target of tremendous pressures on both sides. I wish they had a wiser, or perhaps less compromised leader than Merkel. The next turn of the carousel she will probably be gone, and there is every chance this struggle will still be going on at that time.

      • colliemum says:

        Footnote to the North Stream: it was initiated by the then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel’s predecessor, who became a director or something with Gazprom, involved with building that pipeline. That earned him the nick ‘Gas Gerd’,
        He’s friends with Putin, and IIRC, just before the St Petersburg economic meeting earlier this year, he had a birthday party there, which Putin attended. There were photos of the two hugging each other, I think.
        The German MSM and establishment were scandalised, of course, seeing that Merkel was carrying water for the Ukies …

  7. ThatJ says:

    Look @ the twits of this Human Rights Watch ‘European Media Director’:

    http://twitter.com/astroehlein

    Please, read them. How are these people fit for participating in these organizations? There is no condemnation of Kiev, but plenty of Russia. And then there’s this gem at the top:

  8. Al says:

    The Garden Man claims to have proof of Russian equipment in the Ukraine, particularly a Russian peacekeeping BMP with a yellow ‘MC’ on a blue circle peacekeeping symbol. Personally I think it is just the DJ but in the comments the Russophobes are all screaming ‘I bet the Putinbots think it is photoshopped’. I’ve run it through the photoshop links below and it is photoshopped (on a mac) which is not surprising as the original file would probably be in RAW format and it would be resized and saved as a low resolution JPEG and that is all most of the image analyzers show except when you look at the ‘ELA’ Analysis on the Fotoforensics site which picks out the symbol colors and no other (apart from the obvious red circle) – can anyone of you out there say for sure??

    Here are the links

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/12/armoured-russian-vehicle-inside-ukraine

    Here’s a few useful links to help tell whether an image has been photoshopped:

    http://imageedited.com/

    http://regex.info/exif.cgi

    http://fotoforensics.com/

    & also Jpegsnoop which you have to download.

  9. Al says:

    There’s also something else I don’t understand.

    The EU announced new sanctions were coming in to force on Friday (12/9) (though I’m not sure if they dropped the proposed ones on UAC – United Aircraft Corporation – because it would hit Airbus & Boeing supply chain or whether it is part of the vaunted Quatriéme vague of sanctions, but they then postponed the signing of the EU Association agreement with the Ukraine.

    What message are they trying to send the Russians?

    Good cop, bad cop?

    Sweet ‘n’ Sour?

    Dark chocolate v. milk chocolate?

    My only guess would be (like others) that there is growing panic behind closed EU doors about who is going to pick up the bill and a pissed of Russia certainly won’t, so it has to be the Germans, but we knew all this months and months ago. Threatening Russia to maintain NATO’s credibility has the fatal ‘who pays?’ flaw.

    I’ve also read recently that the UK has now decided that it will bring its second new aircraft carrier in to service which was to be previously mothballed due to defense cuts, so in effect the UK is committing itself to global intervention for the next 30 years, but with whom? Even fanboy poodle UK is tired of joining in American adventures and I don’t see them steaming off China any time soon to help with containment.

    It’s just getting weirder and weirder.

  10. Fern says:

    VICE News is reporting the findings of Canadian geologist, David Hughes, on the life cycle of fracking wells and it’s not good news for the ‘good riddance, Gazprom’ lobby:-

    Hughes meticulously analyzed industry data from 65,000 US shale oil and natural gas wells that use the much-ballyhooed extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as fracking. The process involves drilling horizontally as well as vertically, and then pumping a toxic cocktail of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals deep underground in order to break apart the rock formations that hold deposits of oil and gas.
    Hughes found that the production rates at these wells decline, on average, 85 percent over three years.
    “Typically, in the first year there may be a 70 percent decline,” Hughes told VICE News. “Second year, maybe 40 percent; third year, 30 percent. So the decline rate is a hyperbolic curve. But nonetheless, by the time you get to three years, you’re talking 80 or 85 percent decline for most of these wells.”

    • patient observer says:

      Drill baby drill! Was it Alice in Wonderland who had to run at full speed just to stand still? There is a huge amount of data on gas well productivity which suggests that the main fracking well sites are suffering declines that are nearly erasing frenetic new drilling (relatively small pdf):
      http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/drilling/pdf/dpr-full.pdf
      This bubble could pop in a few years when declines consistently exceed new production. As discussed earlier, with the massive switch to gas for electric power production in the US, things can get ugly. when gas prices soar. I suppose LNG from Russia may be our best bet – oohh the irony.

      • ThatJ says:

        I don’t know about Alice in Wonderland, but I cannot run in dreams. And after searching this phenomenon on the internet, I know that I’m not alone.

      • marknesop says:

        It’s funny you should draw that particular comparison, because fracking is indeed referred to as the “Red Queen Syndrome” or Red Queen technique, in which you must work steadily harder and harder and drill faster and faster just to maintain a stable return.

    • kirill says:

      This was a predictable result. Gas flow out of a porous rock matrix cannot physically be the same as gas flow out of fractured dense rock. The fracturing is permeating at the microscopic throughout the rock and reproducing the porosity of sandstone or other conventional gas bearing rock. In addition, the fracturing zone does not extend to infinity and is some relatively small volume around the bore hole. These two reasons are why the number of wells required to maintain production from tight gas deposits is several times greater than for conventional deposits. It’s called tight gas for a reason and only snake oil salesmen (i.e. the US media) would have you believe that this is a minor detail.

      • patient observer says:

        Yes, the unavoidable rapid reduction in production guarantees the need to increase drilling exponentially until the field is played out and then production collapses. The short useful life plus the very high cost of drilling and well completion renders the gas inherently expensive although a gas glut can result in low market prices. Makes one wonder if the frack gas industry has resulted in a net profit from gas sales revenue (setting aside revenue generated by leases).

        The US has about 500,000 active gas wells. I have looked but been unable to find the number of active wells in Russia but did find this: “just in 2006 there were about as many wells drilled into Barnett shale as are currently producing in all of Russia.” This quote is from the following informative article:
        http://www.resilience.org/stories/2012-05-08/shale-gas-view-russia

        • patient observer says:

          More from the above article:

          “… the average Barnett well yields only around 6.35 million m3 of gas, over its entire lifetime, which corresponds to the average monthly yield of a typical Russian well that continues to produce over a 15-20 year period, meaning that the yield of a typical shale gas well is at least 200 times smaller.”

          “Let’s compare: Gazprom’s price at the wellhead runs from US$3 to $50 per thousand m3, depending on the region. Compare that to shale gas in the US, which runs from $80 to $320 per thousand m3. At this price, the US cannot afford to sell shale gas on the European market.”

          • kirill says:

            The EU leadership acts like a bunch of infants who think they can wish reality into existence. “Let’s screw over Russia and the USA will cover our energy needs.” At some stage Russia needs to teach these hostile morons a lesson. A gradual reduction in gas sales to the EU is in order. Maybe the EU can reverse flow the gas to itself like a dog chasing its tail.

            • Fern says:

              The calibre of the EU’s so-called ‘leaders’ is pretty low – think terminal stupidity. Oil and gas are finite resources; we all need to develop alternative energy sources and while those were coming on-line, Europe could have enjoyed secure and reasonably priced gas supplies from Russia for decades. A win/win for everyone. – including Ukraine which would have had a reliable source of income from transit fees. But no, the geniuses In Brussels and Berlin and everywhere else responsible for this debacle decided to risk a major strategic, financial and economic relationship for, well, I’m not sure what really. And I doubt Brussels or Berlin could tell us. it’s beyond moronic.

  11. Warren says:

    Polish “humanitarian aid” arrives in Kiev.

  12. Warren says:

    Olexiy Solohubenko is Ukrainian nationalist working at the BBC – the man can barely hide is anti-Russia prejudices. I’ve been to events where he has been a guest speaker, he’s always lying and critcising Russia.

  13. Malooga says:

    Vineyardsaker website skirts journalistic standards, scrubs comment section

    Many of you are familiar with the Vineyardsaker website. He runs one of the most important sources of news and opinion for those of us English speakers interested in following Russian, and anti-empire, affairs these days. He has been steadily blogging on a number of issues, although mainly focusing on geopolitical concerns, for about seven years now. He has proven himself over time to be an excellent and knowledgeable analyst and writer, as well as a delightful and sensitive human being. His following has grown exponentially since the beginning of the destabilization of the Ukraine. He has also attempted, with some success, to expand the community, and the range of topics covered. All of these efforts are highly laudable. However, in attempting to do so much, so rapidly, he has been wearing himself a little thin as of late, and his health, equanimity, and the quality of his work have visibly suffered.

    The other day, the Saker posted the following lines on his blog:

    I have heard the news that Igor Strelkov has been found dead, apparently hanged. A lot of you have emailed me. While I cannot prove a negative, so far NOT A SINGLE RUSSIAN OR NOVORUSSIAN SOURCE HAS CONFIRMED THIS including his friend el-Miurid. So I suggest that we take a deep breath, say a prayer, and wait before coming to conclusions

    By leading with news of a death, and failing even to supply a source for the information — despite the presence of a trailing disclaimer, the Saker violated ethical and journalistic standards, and created an outcry.

    As I observed yesterday at moonofalabama.org:

    In journalism, there is the concept of “burying the lead” of a story. We all understand what that means and why it is done.
    Saker, on the other hand, chose to lead with the burial! And then he is dismayed and indignant at the furor he caused.

    The host of the prominent Novorussian blog, Slavygrad.org, Gleb Bazov, formerly a staunch supporter of Saker, had this to say:

    I WILL REPEAT. All rumours of #Strelkov’s death are false. Reporting them is irresponsible & nefarious. “Grist to the mill of the enemy”

    Others involved in analyzing the conflict in the Ukraine were similarly upset with Saker’s precipitous actions.

    Rather than apologizing for the uproar he created, and stating that he intended to become better acquainted with journalistic standards, the Saker, a professed observant Russian Orthodox Christian, became defensive, and slightly paranoid — huffily justifying his behavior, and holding even more firmly to the ethical correctness of his actions. He argued angrily:

    For the life of me I cannot imagine how anybody mentally sane could take a paragraph containing the following and conclude that I was announcing Strelkov’s death (emphasis added)… [The quote I’ve led the story with followed here. Malooga] Maybe a drooling idiot can, but not somebody mentally normal. Alas, it appears that drooling idiots are the least of my problems.

    I am sorry to announce that I have come to the conclusion that the people “systematically misunderstanding” what I write here are neither idiots nor trolls. There is a group of individuals which have embarked on a campaign to slander and discredit me. If they only called me names, that would not be too bad, the problem is that they systematically distort what I actually write here and “creatively re-interpret” it in order to make me say things I never said.

    It is clear from this quote that the Saker has sought to deflect attention away from his flouting of ethical journalistic standards in even conjecturing about a death, and onto a (real or imagined) “campaign to slander and discredit” him.

    Furthermore, in violation of his professed commenting policies, several published comments critical of his actions, but not hostile to him personally, were purged. (Unfortunately, I did not expect this behavior, and don’t have a download of the webpage.) Perhaps his vindictive behavior in erasing comments which, in his troubled emotional state, he was unable to perceive as being benign and intended to help him, was hinted at in this quote:

    My second warning is that I will not answer any strawman posts or comments. If some folks cannot read what it actually says, they need to learn that skill before reading this blog. As for those who deliberately try to twist my words, I have nothing to say to them anyway.

    It should be noted that after the great rise in popularity of his blog, the Saker initially attempted to run his blog without moderation, and then after this failed, with minimal moderation. This has often resulted in scores of comments, many poorly written, that are off-topic, spiteful, or hateful.

    Additionally, two friendly posts I had sent the Saker encouraging him to bone up on journalistic ethics were never published.

    I did copy one post (not mine) which was purged, impressed with its succinctness:

    “Saker don’t circulate unsubstantiated rumours, especially rumours of someones death !
    Adding a cautionary note does not make it OK…”

    A comment of mine which, was never published, went in part:

    Welcome to the news business. You may think you are “running a blog,” but these days with your content you are in the news business. I suggest you search out a few hoary reporters in your neck of the woods and talk to them about this. (You don’t have to disclose who you are.)

    You will find out… that this was the treatment one would expect for what you published.

    Next, if you want to continue doing what you do on this blog, I would befriend one of those reporters and get some free training in the kind of sticky wickets one can find oneself in doing the work you do, and how to handle it. Once you have a little more knowledge, these things will not have to waste your time and energy throwing you or the community.

    The feelings of those quoted above were not unique, by any means. Reporting news, or rumors, of a death is a very serious affair. Not only one’s readers, but people who know the person reported on have deep interests and strong feelings in this matter. Because of these issues, many specialists in journalist ethics urge caution in these matters. The website “journalismethics.info,” warns of some negative effects of change, as “new” and “social” media gain in prominence:

    • Rise in “journalism of assertion”: unsubstantiated opinion and rumor which harms journalistic credibility; lack of restraint among online writers
    • Pressure to lower ethical standards and sensationalize stories
    • Public complaints about how a “ubiquitous” media violate personal privacy

    The London School of Economics Website quotes Deborah Hargreaves, Business Editor of The Guardian, as saying, “It’s a difficult thing to cover, because you don’t report on rumors unless you can stand them up.”

    The prestigious Poynter Institute (for reporting) suggests concerned reporters consider using Poynter’s 10 ethical questions:

    1. What do I know? What do I need to know?
    2. What is my journalistic purpose?
    3. What are my ethical concerns?
    4. What organizational policies and professional guidelines should I consider?
    5. How can I include other people, with different perspectives and diverse ideas, in the decision-making process?
    6. Who are the stakeholders — those affected by my decision? What are their motivations? Which are legitimate?
    7. What if the roles were reversed? How would I feel if I were in the shoes of one of the stakeholders?
    8. What are the possible consequences of my actions? Short term? Long term?
    9. What are my alternatives to maximize my truthtelling responsibility and minimize harm?
    10. Can I clearly and fully justify my thinking and my decision? To my colleagues? To the stakeholders? To the public?

    Clearly, the Saker did not consider many of these questions before going to print. The effect on other stakeholders was immediately apparent, as was the effect on his journalistic reputation. In contrast, his journalistic purpose in rushing to promulgate unsubstantiated rumor remains unclear, as he has not seen fit to explain what positive purpose it may have served. Question # 7 — putting oneself in the other’s shoes — is particularly relevant to this matter. Yet, judging by his defensive reaction, if the roles were reversed, and somebody reported his unsubstantiated death to one of his family members — let’s say his wife — it is clear that he would not be quite as understanding of the reporter involved as he expects his readers to be of him. What if a member of Strelkov’s family were to read his blog that morning? It is the careful consideration and handling of these ethical concerns that separates the best, most highly respected and trusted ace reporters from the destructively careless young cubs prowling the beat.

    Finally, the NPR reporters ethics site warns,”Don’t just spread information. Be careful and skeptical.”

    When determining whether to pass along information being reported on social media sites by other news outlets or individuals, be thoughtful. When we point to what others are saying, in the eyes of many we are effectively reporting that information ourselves. This is true whether the platform is an official NPR social media webpage, a personal blog or a Twitter page that is written by an NPR journalist…

    We challenge those putting information out on social media to provide evidence. We raise doubts and ask questions when we have concerns — sometimes “knocking down” rumors circulating on the Web is of enormous value to our readers. And we always ask an important question: am I about to spread a thinly-sourced rumor or am I passing on valuable and credible (even if unverified) information in a transparent manner with appropriate caveats?

    Above all, proceed with caution, especially when news is breaking and accounts vary widely about what is happening. Reach out to other sources for confirmation. And the general standard is simple: Tweet and retweet as if what you’re saying or passing along is information that you would put on the air or in a “traditional” NPR.org news story. If it needs context, attribution, clarification or “knocking down,” provide it.

    One hopes that the Saker would read this post and consider some of the ethical issues involved. One hopes that the Saker would take the time to familiarize himself with basic journalistic standards, and the responsibility he has to those he writes about. And finally, one hopes that the Saker will apologize to those he has hurt, rather than hurting his own credibility by defending an indefensible action. These are all productive steps which will only make the Saker’s reporting stronger, and trust in him firmer in the future. We wish him the best in continuing on with his very valuable endeavor.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      So how come Walker of the Grauniad gets regularly let off with his a-woman-in-Mariupol-called-Raisa-told-me-that-they-were-Russians type stories?

    • patient observer says:

      I never heard the Saker describe himself as a journalist nor as a politically correct commentator. Take him as he is which, in my opinion, is one of the clearest thinking, insightful and passionate defenders of truth on geopolitical matters. He wears his heart on his sleeve but that is not a bad thing especially compared to the cool and calculating journalists who’s main purpose is to deceive while maintaining “journalistic standards”.

      Quoting NPR as a source of journalistic integrity is absurd as they have been amongst the leaders of lies and misinformation from Serbia to Syria. Or was that a joke?

      The Saker does not need to apologize to me. The only advice I have for him is to pace himself and to choose his battles wisely as the truth starts to take its toll on the empire.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m inclined to accept this as just a little bump in the road, and not really a big deal – the Saker is a little high-strung and sensitive, and seems a little hurt by criticism, but I have been (informally) following his site for a long time and it has always provided cutting-edge information which is customarily reliable. His analysis is not always accurate, but his record is head and shoulders above the squeaking of the mainstream media, who are almost consistently wrong due to a tendency to see a foreshadowing of the desired result. Being right most of the time is a hell of a lot better than being wrong nearly every time. Then, too, when you are running a news/analysis site, there is a tremendous compulsion to be first – especially with a juicy tipoff that you seem to have well in advance of everyone else. The Saker has come in for a lot of praise in the last year for his ahead-of-the-curve reporting, which is made possible by some solid international sources; it would not be at all astonishing if he felt compelled to get ever further ahead of the curve, and simply fell for a bogus tip.

      Strelkov himself seems a bit of an odd duck, a religious ascetic with few outward aspirations to political stature and a brilliant leader as much by luck and the powerful force of his personal fearlessness and example as any other factor. I would be suspicious of any report alluding to his having been murdered for political reasons, since nobody really wants him dead except the Ukies and that is out of spite for his battle leadership. Putin does not want Strelkov offed, likely admires him for his unshakeable conviction, and does not in any way regard him as a political threat.

      This is not even a stumble on the Saker’s part, simply a mistake possibly exacerbated by a desire to be first, and if those who clamored for the enforcement of standards were so zealous about holding the feet of the popular press to the fire there very likely would not be the attention devoted to blogs that there is. This circumstance should serve to remind us all that the Saker provides news and analysis which is often of a very high quality for free, while professional journalists get paid for doing fuck-all and being wrong nearly every time.

      For my part, I would love to see some of the bad-spelling haters show up here; we are badly in need of targets for our mockery, and since this blog does not pretend to be a news site – although some earth-shaking news does frequently show up in the comments thanks to the keen eyes of the commenters – we don’t really care about being first. There’s nothing I’d like better than to see some of the next-generation La Russophobes show up here for a shellacking that would make their ears ring and send them to their bedrooms to pull the covers over their heads and sob bitterly, although it’s too much to hope for that La Russophobe herself will show. She has an open invitation, but knows better because she knows her opinions are unsupported by any real facts.

      • patient observer says:

        It seems that russophobes know better than to venture into this realm of formidable commentators least to have their asses handed to them on a platter.

        I am still amazed at citing NPR as a reference for journalistic integrity. That is truly a knee-slapper.

        • Malooga says:

          I’m not a Russophobe — I like the Saker and have followed him since his blogging beginnings, by the way. I did not cite NPR as a news source. Maybe I’m stodgy, but I believe in journalistic standards, even for bloggers. You should not report fleeting unconfirmed rumors of someone’s death because others can be hurt.

          And when you make a mistake you apologize and move on. No big deal. Not acknowledging a mistake has never helped me in the long run.

          P.S. To argue that one cannot cite NPR’s recommendations for journalistic standards because their news is propaganda, is the same as arguing that one cannot favor democracy because the US uses it to do atrocious things. I favor both and support neither. I’ve been reading your coments for a while, patient observer, you are better than that.

  14. Warren says:

    Deputy foreign minister resigns over Free Trade Agreement

    The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danylo Lubkivskyi announced that he was submitting his resignation because of his disagreement with decisions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, reports Ukrainska Pravda

    Lubkivskyi explained in his posting on Facebook, September 12, that the main reason for his resignation was the agreement reached by Ukraine, Russia and the EU to postpone the date when the EU-Ukraine [Free Trade] Agreement would enter into force.

    “The announcement that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin agreed to today in Brussels surprised me,” Lubkivskyi wrote. ” There will undoubtedly be rational and practical explanations given. In the past, there were good arguments cited even against our independence. The approved announcement sends the wrong signal to all: to the aggressor, to our allies, and, most important, to the citizens of Ukraine. Right now our economy, as if during a terminal illness, must independently grab its chance at life. A choice cannot be postponed, otherwise it is not a choice. ”

    As has been reported, on Friday, September 12, an agreement was reached in Brussels that the provisional application of the [Free Trade] Agreement would enter into force only in 2016. Until that time, the EU would grant Ukraine independent trade preferences.

    The EU said that this agreement would become part of the complex of “peace agreements” with the Russian Federation. The details of the other elements included in the compromise package have not been disclosed.

    Danylo Lubkivsky was responsible for communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Earlier, he had worked as a speechwriter for President Viktor Yushchenko.

    http://euromaidanpress.com/2014/09/13/deputy-foreign-minister-resigns-over-association-agreement/

    • marknesop says:

      Shorter Lubkivskyi – “A choice cannot be postponed until the people have a chance to analyze it and realize the government is about to commit them to another fatal mistake that will immeasurably worsen an already shit economy and make of us a non-sovereign nation of beggars.”

  15. Moscow Exile says:

    Well they can’t be that much concerned by the threatening noises off Porky and pals:

    Ополченцы Новороссии сыграли свадьбу в Москве

    Novorossia Militamen Get Wed in Moscow

    Remember folks! Those are Moskali Mongol-Tatar-Bolshevik-Zhidi subhumans in those pics.

  16. ross becher says:

    Great article. Thanks for the info. Does anyone know where I can find a blank “ny report guardian form” to fill out?

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