Is It Too Early To Just Call The Game For Putin?

Uncle Volodya says,

Uncle Volodya says, “Hey, John; I had a dream about you. We were racing to see who could be the slowest person on earth. You were winning.”

“…Except in a very few matches, usually with world-class performers, there is a point in every match (and in some cases it’s right at the beginning) when the loser decides he’s going to lose. And after that, everything he does will be aimed at providing an explanation of why he will have lost. He may throw himself at the ball (so he will be able to say he’s done his best against a superior opponent). He may dispute calls (so he will be able to say he’s been robbed). He may swear at himself and throw his racket (so he can say it was apparent all along he wasn’t in top form). His energies go not into winning but into producing an explanation, an excuse, a justification for losing.”

C. Terry Warner, from “Bonds That Make Us Free

You know what makes a good loser? Practice“.

Ernest Hemingway

What’s the state of play in The Great Wreck The Russian Economy Invitational, hosted by the United States with support from Europe (especially the UK), Australia and Canada, having been in play since Euromaidan? Let’s look. Are sanctions having the desired effect?

They are not. In fact, consensus looks to be that sanctions are a dismal failure at everything except causing the income of ordinary Russians to fall for the first time since Putin took over the job of running the country. It’s hard to imagine that results could have been otherwise, given the effort the west put into it. But reducing the incomes of ordinary Russians was not an end in itself. No; they were supposed to blame Putin for their troubles, and rise up in revolution to throw him out. A new revolution in Russia is something the west wants so badly it makes its mouth water. It can almost taste it.

But the sanctions have had the opposite effect.

According to Ivan Nechepurenko, a staff writer for The Moscow Times – no friend of Putin – Putin is as popular among his voters now as he has been since 2008. Rather than blaming Putin for economic upset directed against Russia with a view to pushing its behavior in a direction the west wants it to take, civil society has instead rallied around national pride; “The logic was that as the country’s economic situation worsens, ordinary Russians will direct their anger at the government and at Putin himself, forcing him to withdraw his support for the pro-Moscow insurgents in Ukraine…When 85% of Russians say they approve Putin’s actions as Russia’s president, what they mean is that they approve and support the Russian state as such. According to leading sociologists from the independent Levada Center public opinion organization, by absorbing Crimea last March, Putin has made himself a symbolic figure who is viewed as not directly responsible for the economic perils of the country.”

Who do the Russians blame for their problems? Blame goes squarely where it belongs, to the EU and the United States.  But those entities are unprepared for how deep and how lasting that blame, and its attendant acrimony, will be. Anti-Americanism is at its highest levels ever in the Russian Federation, higher than those seen in the Soviet Union; a fact acknowledged by the Washington Post even as it pooh-poohs the sentiment as groundless and undeserved, since America is not doing anything to Russia and its interference in Ukraine is all in Russians’ heads. Hostility in Russia toward the EU’s leadership is hardly better, down to a paltry 6% approval in summer 2014 and doubtless scraping negative territory by now.

Western sanctions have had the effect of cementing Vladimir Putin’s position as the most powerful leader of his time, with over 85% approval ratings and an electorate among which 74% would vote for him. The efforts to ruin Russia have been blamed on the United States and European Union. What does that mean?

To the United States, not much at present. It now has, as the Washington Post described it, a shrinking pool of friendly faces in Russia, so its ability to influence policy in Moscow is now severely curtailed as being pro-American is viewed with suspicion and hostility. But it means much more to the European Union, which did a lot of trade with Russia and remains dependent upon it for energy supplies. And the EU, too, will come to blame America for the soured relationship with Russia that hurts it directly, which will make it that much harder for the USA to push Europe into a land war with Russia.

The USA’s trade with Russia has worked out to about the same as before, considering it regularly runs a trade deficit with Russia; both exports and imports have fallen steadily since 2011, but the USA continues to have little exposure to Russia. Not so the EU.

In the Eurozone, projected growth of .5% for the quarter is greeted with feverish excitement, the fastest growth in four years. Not only does this signal “the brightest spring in years”, and “a solid pace of expansion”, it will outpace quarterly growth in the USA, which eked out a miserable .1%. That staggering leap in European growth comes on the heels of ECB head Mario Draghi’s committing to a € 1.1 Trillion Quantitative Easing program which will flood Europe with cheap money as the bank prints more euros and buys up its own debt. You can see how well that worked in the USA. Well, maybe you can see it, but the mantra in European financial circles is “trust Mario”.

Is everyone satisfied that they understand what Quantitative Easing, or QE, actually is? No? Well, it’s printing money. No more complicated than that. Typically countries with a strong currency finance their operations by sales of government bonds to other countries, which is another way of saying, “borrowing from other countries”. But when your financial habits begin to get too embarrassing, other countries won’t buy your bonds. So the government just loans money to itself, by printing more. Have you seen that happen before? Yes, you have. And those who have come to know QE better than anyone else say it’s very easy to start, and unbelievably difficult to stop.

There are a couple of lessons there – one, the USA cannot engineer an economic war against Russia without affecting development, and subsequently the pace of economic activity, everywhere. Flooding the world with oil so as to drive down the price has had the effect of paralyzing the American shale extraction industry, which is expensive and not cost-effective in an atmosphere of low prices. Two, the west is in a singularly bad position to launch an economic war at all, considering the western “recovery” from the subprime meltdown is more a matter of inference than substance.

Speaking of recovery, how’s that spunky little star in the Euro-Crown, Ukraine, doing?Oooohh…not good, I am afraid. This BBC article takes a lot of words to say that Ukraine is doomed to living on international handouts for as far as the eye can see unless it (a) gets control of the eastern region, which now hates the Kiev government after months of shelling civilian population centres  and will never accept its rule, and (b) restores its trade with Russia. More cash from the IMF depends on reasserting Kiev’s control over the east, because it is the center of Ukrainian industry and grant money cannot be spent on war, while the EU has already made clear it is not in a position to buy Ukrainian goods which it formerly sold to Russia. The Kiev government has made zero progress against corruption and little progress on the reforms the IMF demands before it approves more grant money, although it has raised the price of gas what it reports as 50% even as the national currency tanks. Good times. But the west continues stubbornly trying to do it without Russia, because it is all about taking Ukraine away from Russia. Which will not be possible unless Russia helps, because the west can’t afford it. What are the chances?

Another unecessarily unanticipated effect of the west’s crusade against Russia has been the cementing of a powerful alliance between Russia and China. There is no way the alliance of the world’s second-largest economy and the world’s largest energy producer can bode well for a west bent on forcing the latter to submit to its will. The Russian and Chinese navies kicked off 10 days of war games in the Mediterranean yesterday, making the LA Times so excited that it forgot Russia and China agreed to a gas price last winter; saying instead that they had not yet agreed on a price, and that this means bad news for Russia because it is in a weak negotiating position. If it were true that they have not agreed on a price – which it isn’t – how would that indicate Russian weakness? Wouldn’t they just take whatever they could get, if their position was weak?

Russia has agreed to two major pipeline deals with China – the “Power of Siberia” line and the “Altai” western route. Between them they will eventually deliver 68 Bcm of gas to China, nearly half what Russia supplies to Europe. That also seemed to excite the LA Times into error, as they announced confidently that there was no way Putin would be able to begin supplying gas to China by the end of 2017. Probably not – good thing the contract, to which the LA Times is somehow not a signatory, says 2019. But you can see why the Times is excited; Gazprom supplied Europe with 161 Bcm of gas in 2013. How does Europe foresee replacing that supply, considering it is insistent it will wean itself off of Russian gas? Not from any suppliers they have identified thus far; not even close. Of the other sources from which Europe currently receives gas, mostly its own member states, only the UK, Poland, Italy and Germany have significantly increased delivery, while most others have declined markedly since 2005, some by nearly half.

Let’s summarize what we have concluded so far: (1) The western sanctions against Russia have failed to mobilize the Russian electorate, and have instead spurred patriotism, disempowered internationalists and made Putin more popular than he has been in the last 7 years; (2) The west is in a poor position to sustain an economic war against Russia, as the Eurozone is experiencing anemic growth – and even that appears to be due to false optimism over Quantitative Easing – while American growth is stagnant for the first quarter; (3) Europe is increasing its debt load markedly by embarking on a program of simply printing and circulating more money, while it will probably hurt the currency in the medium term; (4) Ukraine’s economy is imploding, while the west has insisted on taking responsibility for it although it remains unable to pull it out of its power dive. Kiev has not regained control over Ukraine’s eastern regions, which hate it more than ever. Ukraine will not be able to recover unless it regains access to its Russian markets; (5) The western sanctions have resulted in large-scale market replacement of European goods, and those markets are likely to remain closed to Europe for a generation at least, perhaps forever. Meanwhile, (6) Russia has been pushed into a powerful alliance with China, and has proactively negotiated new markets for its energy exports that depend far less on Europe’s tantrums and foibles. The knock-on effects of economic warfare between Russia and Europe have hurt European economies and resulted in European anger against the USA, making it more difficult for Washington to secure European cooperation.

The west is not winning. Since both sides can not be simultaneously losing, Putin must be winning.

How does the west react to losing? I’m glad you asked. Like this. The Telegraph chuckles uproariously at the antics of Russian soldiers attempting to load a tank onto the back of a flatbed truck. On the third attempt, the vehicle ends up too far to the right, and capsizes onto its roof as it falls off the truck. Oh, those Russians! Probably drunk, as usual.

Except the vehicle is not a tank, it is a self-propelled howitzer, an artillery piece. The source clearly identifies the operation as depicting a Ukrainian unit, and if you look just behind the three guys watching just as the howitzer falls off the truck, you will see an oil drum with a Ukrainian flag standing in it.

The first principle of Gambling For Idiots – when you’re losing, double down.

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1,718 Responses to Is It Too Early To Just Call The Game For Putin?

  1. astabada says:

    Prolly you’ve all seen the video where alleged Ukrainian militias execute a man and a woman. Please consider that the images are disturbing before clicking the link.

    If it is not real, then it looks pretty darn realistic.

    • astabada says:

      I should add that the source is NewsFront, which could not confirm the authenticity of the video. Meanwhile, the General Prosecutor’s office of LPR […] confirmed that the video of the execution was really found on the phone of one of Ukrainian saboteurs from a subversive-intelligence group, which was liquidated by LPR people’s militia forces.

    • marknesop says:

      I watched it and replayed it several times. I think it’s real. The two do not kick much as you expect they would, but their hands are tied and I think the woman’s legs may be tied as well. I don’t know if the car driving away like that would have broken their necks, but I hope so. What would be the objective of a fake? To make Right Sector look bad? Ha, ha; as if. I don’t think anyone doubts they are capable of such behavior. I hope when they are caught, the Novorossiyans skin them alive with a belt sander.

    • Jen says:

      That’s just horrible, hanging the couple the way it was done. I refrained from watching once I realised the woman had been heavily pregnant when she died.

      I’m not sure but I think to be hanged (in order to die quickly), a person has to be at least two metres off the ground and the rope has to have enough slack (but not too much). If the victim is not high enough or the rope long enough when the support is kicked away or s/he goes through the trapdoor hole, the person ends up dying slowly and painfully from asphyxiation. If the rope is too long or the victim too high, decapitation results. Sometime in the 19th century, the British worked out a formula to judge the length of rope needed to hang a person and avoid asphyxiation and decapitation: the formula is partly based on the person’s weight and several other things including the condition of the rope.

      • marknesop says:

        I believe it relies on the sudden application of force to the neck so that it is forced to take the body’s full weight. The placement of the knot is critical as well, so as to jerk the head slightly sideways instead of forward. I imagine these niceties are lost on the animals in Ukraine and they would be just as happy if they strangled to death. I’m just surprised to see so little involuntary body movement, although I have never seen anyone hanged and know nothing about it except what I’ve read. I just can’t see any purpose in faking it with some kind of harness under their clothing. It does look like an execution, the punishment battalions are known to execute prisoners with no judicial process whatsoever, and the DPR/LPR have no axe to grind in making a complicated fake so as to discredit the “volunteer militias”. Everyone is quite prepared to believe they are drawn to these organizations because of the opportunity for behaviors which would normally see them imprisoned for life, or receive a death penalty themselves. Despite the Kyiv Post’s attempts to humanize them and make them appear to be Everyman.

        The west is too morally corrupt to ever recognize that video as possibly genuine, and Novorossiya is wasting its time if it hopes to convince them or inspire condemnation. the best thing they can do is establish who was responsible, hunt and capture them wherever they may go, and kill them as slowly and horribly as possible, so that they beg for an end to the suffering. After all, Amnesty International tells us brightly (and right on cue), both sides in the conflict torture prisoners. So it’s kind of like they cancel each other out, and like no torture ever happened. Although, naturally, the separatists are just slightly worse.

        Along with international law, this episode in our history has seen the activist human-rights organizations suffer such a shitkicking to their reputations that they also will never be accorded the same degree of reverence as before.

  2. marknesop says:

    Oh, dear; violent clashes in Odessa and Kharkov, as The Grauniad admits that those two cities “are deeply divided along political lines, with large numbers opposed to the government in Kiev and in favour of closer ties with Moscow.”

    Hostility grows toward Kiev; you don’t say. They’re coming for your fat ass, Porky. Maybe not tonight – just as well, since you’re not there – but soon.

    Of course The Grauniad loyally announces that all the destabilization efforts originate in Russia, and that bombers and partisans who were captured confess that they were paid. The only true patriots, who don’t do it for the money, are honest pro-Kiev Ukrainians. I guess you better crank on some more sanctions against Russia, because they obviously still have too much money.

    Meanwhile, in central Kiev, the air is once again perfumed with burning rubber – one of Ukraine’s few growth industries – as activists of the “Financial Maidan” protest the plummeting currency and skyrocketing utility costs and lay siege to the Parliament again. The crowd demands Parliament “approves the law on restructuring private loans in foreign currency, which would convert people’s debts into national currency at pre-crisis levels.” Good luck with that, it sounds like you have a great chance.

    The country is coming apart; it’s just a matter of time. And not very much time, by the look of things.

    • yalensis says:

      The reaction to this Grauniad propaganda was swift and merciless:

      http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1432279960.html

      Commenters also pointed out that Grauniad knowingly lied just by posting that starting photo (showing allegedly a nasty and violent looking masked “pro-Russian activist” swinging his pistol in front of Odessa Trade Union building). Commenters quickly pointed out the Odessan Chief of Police, whose face can just be discerned peering over the shoulder of the “pro-Russian activist”. In other words, the photo shows the opposite of what it purports, and the Grauniad editor knows this perfectly well, but decided to lie, hoping there are some newbies on their forum, who don’t know the story.

      • PaulR says:

        Except that there is some reasonable evidence that the then Chief of Police was in cahoots with the anti-government forces, and the people in the photo are wearing St George ribbons, so one cannot say that the Guardian ‘knowingly lied’ by posting the photo and caption.

      • Jen says:

        You have to wonder why The Giardia keeps printing propaganda long after commenters have either exposed the lies or migrated to other websites and blogs. The Giardia would be better off turning itself into a British version of the Australian Women’s Weekly or UFO Chronicles than continuing to be a front for neofascists while pretending to be something else. New readers probably won’t notice much difference.

      • kat kan says:

        The Novorossiya project existed since the Orange Revolution in 2004. It was a talk-fest, trying to find a political ideology they could all live with, and never had any defined borders or ambitions to start an armed revolution. It was more a dream, a “we had it better back then” nostalgia for the old Novorossia, which was roughly on the territory added to Ukraine by Stalin.

        When the guns came out, they were not fighting to create this (or any other) Novorossiya, but to get out from under the government that was (a) illegal and (b) shooting at them. The name became a good umbrella to cover the two republics and others they (or the inhabitants) hoped would be able to join them. The old ideological project could was not equipped either for military strategy or for physical nation building. They could debate whether postal service should be State run, but not know how to organise a sorting room or issue stamps. (The republics have the advantage that many existing services’ management joined them as experts).

        The name will continue to exist. When Ukraine splits up into 4 confederated territories, one may be using this name.

    • marknesop says:

      I’ll watch the rest if I have time on my hands and nothing to do; Kuzio is so predictable, and always slips in his talking points as if they were facts. “Now we have Euromaidan, and war in the Donbas and war with Russia….” If you had war with Russia, you’d know it. Ukraine wouldn’t have held a week.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      What failure?

      The Ukrainian army has been repeatedly thrashed, twenty thousand and more of its soldiers are burning in Hell where they belong, Ukraine’s most economically productive region is lost to the Kiev regime’s control and Ukraine itself is set to disappear from the face of the earth.

      Ukraine has failed, and only Ukraine has failed. But these fake Cossacks wouldn’t know victory from the hole in their heads.

    • PaulR says:

      ‘World blasts Ukraine’ is a bit of an exaggeration. A few people in the West have protested. Mostly silence.

      • et Al says:

        Unfortunately quite true.

        Not much different either from Croatia where there was a full rehabilitation of their Ustaši war criminals, pensions provided and streets renamed in their honor. To join the EU, Zagreb had to tone down and reverse some of these decisions, but the Ustaši are still receiving pensions granted to them by the government in 1993*. They even had old Ustaši war criminals like Vinko Nikolic given a parliamentary seat after he returned from exile in Argentina, Srecko Psenicnik from Canada etc. Partisans were dug up and reburied together with Ustaši in Omis etc. So ‘been there, done that’ already.

        * http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nlnet/content.aspx?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=8776547&ct=14688395

        * http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Nazi-hunter-slams-Croatia-over-collaborator-pensions-403577

        Facists & Nazis aren’t really a problem in the West as long as there are a) not a lot of them, B) they are far away and c) manageable. Most now know to keep their opinions to themselves lest it causes damage to their own governments (Right Sektor and others like Svoboda have toned down their public behavior for foreign media consumption). Even neo-fascist Croatian rock stars like Thompson have more or less learned the lesson, but once you are in the EU, well..

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/world/europe/01iht-croatia.4.6437024.html?pagewanted=all

        Of course no-one really knows about this as it has disappeared down the memory hole and Croatia is only a little country. In Israel they are bothered, but in the US the Jewish diaspora keep schtum (apart from certain leaders) rather than speak out and upset institutional policy and in the EU it is mostly smiles apart from the odd embarrassment.

    • marknesop says:

      Which is comical, because they do not seem to notice that it is every time the west meddles and installs a pro-western government that they begin to get that ol’ Nazi feelin’ and decide to canonize the brownshirts and fascists in their past. It is when they remain chiefly under Russian regional influence that they dare not.

      I imagine Poroshenko is doing this not because he feels a deep love for the OUN or UPA, but to get up Moscow’s nose, which seems to be the reason he does everything – just like Yeltsin in Russia, who said once that his intent was to wreck Communism in Russia so decisively that it could never go back. Poroshenko is on a similar tack, trying to wreck Ukraine’s relations with Russia so badly that they can never be repaired. An unimaginative and slightly witless figure, he is plodding along with his duty to his masters as he sees it, and we must not rule out that those masters are telling Russia one thing and Poroshenko another, because duplicity comes naturally as breathing to them. The U.S. government does not give a fuck what its scientists and scholars and historians think – almost without exception, they are liberals, despised by Democrats and Republicans alike although the Democrats pretend to liberal values themselves.

      I suppose the logic – if there can be said to be any in the west’s crazy planning – is that once Russia and Ukraine are in a state of open war, the EU will have no choice but to throw a life preserver to floundering Ukraine, and take it in and feed and clothe it and eventually adopt it. Observed from that perspective, no excess of Poroshenko’s is over the top. Besides, if he is questioned about it by the western press he will just paste that innocent childlike smile on his vapid, beefy face and ask them where they heard such a thing, stop reading the Kremlin press.

  3. et Al says:

    RT: Yemeni group hacks 3,000 Saudi govt computers to reveal top secret docs – report
    http://rt.com/news/261073-yemen-cyber-hack-saudi/

    Yemeni hackers have allegedly released thousands of top secret Saudi Arabia documents, including spies’ identities, after gaining “full control” of over 3,000 computers and servers belonging to Riyadh’s Foreign, Interior and Defense Ministries….

    … “We have gained access to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) network and have full control over more than 3,000 computers and servers, and thousands of users. We also have access to the emails, personal and secret information of hundreds of thousands of their staff and diplomats in different missions around the world,” the hackers informed in a statement cited by the Iranian semi-official Fars news agency.

    “We publish only few portions of the vital information we have, just to let them know that ‘truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider’s house’,” the hackers’ statement alleged. ..

    …We have the same access to the Interior Ministry (MOI) and Defense Ministry (MOD) of which the details will be published in near future” the hacking group added. According to Fars, the group has also warned that it would soon cause greater damage on the Riyadh government if it refrains from attacking “Muslims in Yemen,” adding, “Do not blame anyone but yourself and expect greater harms.”…
    ####

    Let the poo fly!

    This could have quite big and long lasting repercussions. Well done chaps!

    • et Al says:

      Toilet Barf: Several killed and injured after suicide bomber strikes at Saudi Shia mosque
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11623319/Several-killed-and-injured-after-suicide-bomber-strikes-at-Saudi-Shia-mosque.html

      One witness says he believes at least 30 were killed in a ‘huge explosion’ at the Imam Ali mosque in the village of al-Qadeeh

      A suicide bomber set off an explosion during weekly prayers in a Shia mosque of eastern Saudi Arabia leaving many dead Friday, the interior ministry said.

      “It has been established that an individual detonated a bomb he was wearing under his clothes during Friday prayers at Ali Ibn Abi Taleb mosque in Kudeih in Qatif province,” the interior ministry spokesman said…
      … Saudi police have made a string of arrests in recent months of Sunni extremists suspected of plotting attacks aimed at stirring sectarian unrest in confessionally divided eastern province.

      Most of Saudi Arabia’s minority Shias live in the east, where they have long complained of marginalisation in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

      Last November, gunmen killed seven Shias, including children, in the eastern town of al-Dalwa during the commemoration of Ashura, one of the holiest occasions of their faith.
      ####

      Now that’s a bright future.

    • kat kan says:

      And someone was saying why isn’t Russia helping the poor Yemenis???

  4. et Al says:

    I just got this in my inbox:

    Russia: Other Points of View Russian citizens finally going sour on America?
    http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2015/05/russian-citizens-finally-going-sour-on-america.html

    The email below arrived today. First we hear from a young Simon in Russia who comments very sensitively and intelligently on the article. Next comes the article published by RUSSIA INSIDER, the brainchild of Charles Bausman. Charles’ father was the UP Bureau Chief in the USSR when he was a child. He grew up in Moscow and developed a bi-cultural mindset while there. When American PR got so twisted regarding Russia a year ago, he determined to start a private news service. RUSSIA INSIDER is the result. In the past six months Charles has launched and has breathed life and fire into getting out what he sees to be the real information about Russia.

    Sharon

    Comment from Simon in Russia:

    I second quite a lot of this article below. Being a 20-year expat in Russia myself I have never seen such a surge in patriotism (in Russia). Many of my Russian friends are what one would consider, young, savvy, educated. And in the past most, but not all, tended to be very down on their country, and Putin too, they would often talk about wanting a new life abroad in the West. I found it embarrassing, I was always far more positive about the opportunities in Russia and the greatness of this country than they were.

    But this last year and a half – what a turn around. Quite simply the majority of the Russians I know are DISGUSTED with the West. And they are rejecting it on so many levels….

    ——-

    Published on Russia Insider News (http://russia-insider.com)

    Russians Answer Western Criticism With Newfound Patriotism

    Dmitry Zolotarev

    This article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

    The snapping point came for Pavel Melikhov, he says, when he heard President Obama compare Russia to a disease.

    In a speech to the UN last September, the president listed the top threats to global security, with Ebola coming first, “Russian aggression in Europe” second, and the Islamic State group in third place. Mr. Melikhov, a middle-aged Moscow-area businessman, says that moment crystallized his way of thinking about his country and its place in the world…

    …“It wasn’t just me. All my co-workers were stunned,” he says. “The leader of the US put our country on a blacklist with a virus and a terrorist organization. That says it all. The masks are off. The US is not a friend; it’s ‘us’ and ‘them’ now. I have finally and completely understood that.”…
    ####

    Much, much more at the link.

    Is Obama a secret Kremlin Stooge? 😉

    • et Al says:

      Bollox tags!

      I’ll just add the last couple of paragraphs from the CSM piece here:

      ‘A time of great opportunity’?

      “Of the two pillars of the current nationalist consensus, one is transient. That is the extremely broad support for Putin, but Putin will not be forever, right?” says Ms. Lipman. “The other is too negative. Anti-Western sentiment may be deep and genuine, but being anti-Western does nothing to help shape a sense of who we are.”

      Melikhov, the businessman, has a tentative answer to that.

      “We should use this situation, and all this energy,” he says. “I’ve never seen a time when people felt so consolidated and ready to be constructive. For me, patriotism means to go out and build something, improve my business, help others to start something. This could be a time of great opportunity for our country, and ourselves.

      • marknesop says:

        Masha Lipman is an anti-Putin kreakl who works for the Carnegie Moscow Centre or one of those Doing-Good-Works NGO/Think Tanks. She is regularly approached for a comment whenever the foreign press wants to slag Russia some more. And the westerners would do well to remember that the west brought it entirely upon itself with its rush to line up behind Washington on sanctions, and that the rest of the west was tipped into it by allegations that Russia shot down MH-17. Nobody had to jump on the sanctions bandwagon – every country could have said, “Let’s wait until we see some proof”. Nobody did. Everybody was willing to believe that’s just something Russia would do. Now they will reap at least a decade of hostility for their gutlessness.

        • et Al says:

          Thanks for cleaning up my failure to close bold tags Mark. Maybe I should go and see my doctor? Coming to think of it, it could be a whole new area of diagnosis, i.e. when you find that you keep on f/king up computer related stuff that you didn’t used to do, then you know something is wrong and you should see the doctor. Or, you are getting old (or drunk post more) – isn’t that the same thing?

          • marknesop says:

            No problem; I do a bit of housekeeping here and there when I’m not too busy and the poster’s intent is obvious, as well as correcting my colleagues’ sometimes-atrocious spelling. Not because I think I’m smarter – I make spelling errors too, although they are usually typos rather than not knowing how to spell the word – but because I have an edit function and they don’t. I’m also thinking of putting in a macro which will automatically replace the non-word “snuck” with “You’re so wise, Mark” wherever it is found to occur.

            • yalensis says:

              And now, boys and girls, it is “American Literature” Class:

              Today’s homework assignment:
              Read Ring Lardner’s classic short story “You Know Me Al” :

              Gleason has been sticking round me like as if I had a million bucks or something. I can’t even sit down and smoke a cigar but what he is there to knock the ashes off of it. He is O.K. and good-hearted if he is a little rough and keeps hitting me in the stumach but I wish he would leave me alone sometimes espesially at meals. He was in to breakfast with me this A.M. and after I got threw I you’re so wise, Mark off down the street and got something to eat. That is not right because it costs me money when I have to go away from the hotel and eat and what right has he got to try and help me order my meals? Because he don’t know what I want and what my stumach wants.

              (….)

              Well Al I got back to the hotel and you’re so wise, Mark down the street a ways and had a couple of beers before supper. So I come to the supper table late and Walsh tells me they had been several phone calls for me. I go down to the desk and they tell me to call up a certain number. So I called up and they charged me a nickel for it. A girl’s voice answers the phone and I says Was they some one there that wanted to talk to Jack Keefe? She says You bet they is. She says Don’t you know me, Jack? This is Violet. Well, you could of knocked me down with a peace of bread. I says What do you want? She says Why I want to see you. I says Well you can’t see me. She says Why what’s the matter, Jack? What have I did that you should be sore at me? I says I guess you know all right. You called me a busher. She says Why I didn’t do nothing of the kind. I says Yes you did on that postcard. She says I didn’t write you no postcard.

              (….)

              And they all lived happily ever after.
              THE END

              • marknesop says:

                I like it; that macro works like a charm, and the coolest part is I only had to think it!!

                Maybe we will revise The Snuck Doctrine to read “The non-word “snuck” shall only be used as a colloquialism, when the remainder of the conversation in which it appears is reflective of North-American Hick-Town Hillbilly speech, such as “I come to the table late” and “Where was it at, exactly?”, and “Down the street a ways”, or perhaps with deliberate misspellings where the author is trying for an atmosphere of charming country unlettered folksiness, such as “stumach” and “espesially”.

          • kat kan says:

            It’s just caused by not seeing the change in real time (ie it is not WYSIWYG).

            Type your starting and closing tags first. The type your content between them. Good programmers’ text editors do this for you automatically, so it is a pro cheat that is ok to use.

            • yalensis says:

              Yes, katkan is right.
              HTML has sort of a philosophy behind it:
              Every tag that is opened, must then be closed. And sometimes in reverse order, like a LIFO stack:

              Open Tag#1
              Open Tag #2
              Open Tag #3
              Close Tag #3
              Close Tag #2
              Close Tag #1

              It’s highly symmetrical.
              Sort of zen-like.
              Or as Yoda might say:
              “Opening the tag you shall, shall you tag the Closing.”

            • et al says:

              That’s what I do and I still mess it up. I should simply pay much more attention in class.

              Despite teaching myself to touchtype years ago, I still make errors in my keenness to get my stream of consciousness down before I forget it and then do a quick edit afterwards. I’m just a bit too impatient.

              • marknesop says:

                Don’t worry – even if you proofread carefully and are deliberate, there will still be one error that you missed and which, on reading after you have already posted it and it’s too late, stands out like a dick on your forehead so that you wonder how you ever missed it. It’s, like, a law or something. Then you are confident every other reader will spot it immediately and write you off as some ignorant bohunk who was raised by a pack of wild dogs, and who commits his thoughts to electronic media by hitting random keys or by the letters’ resemblance to the silhouettes of wild animals. When I do that on someone else’s forum, where an edit function is not available and I can’t fix it, I feel like flinging the computer through a window.

                • et Al says:

                  Let’s be done with it and donate our electronic devices to monkeys in zoos….

                  On second thoughts, don’t they like to fling poo??

  5. Drutten says:

    Apropos the two “Russian soldiers”, I don’t know if I’m falling victim to propaganda, but I’m starting to think that they’re volunteers who resigned military service to fight in Ukraine and that upon capture decided that their best shot at getting out of it unscathed was to kickstart a diplomatic circus and force the Russian MFA to get overtly involved. Hence why their accounts keep changing ever so slightly, and why they’re so contradictory on certain key points.

    I’ve noticed that they insist to the Ukrainians that they had strict orders not to use weapons – yet they were armed. If they really were doing some “reconnaissance” and had strict orders not to use weapons, couldn’t they have carried out this reconnaissance it in a far less conspicuous manner? It doesn’t make sense, but it does sound like an attempt to soften Kiev’s treatment of them. Now, they also said that they were active soldiers told to go to Ukraine (a statement that appeases Kiev), but added there are no Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine (a statement that appeases Russia). What?

    Also, their friends and relatives have said that one of them lied about where he was going when he left Russia, and the other one said he was determined to go fight in Donbass, against the wishes of his wife (who’s now pissed off). Unless these people have been given scripts to read from by the Kremlin, it sounds to me like the guys went by their own volition, wound up in a quagmire and are trying to save their butts now by blowing it up into a high-profile case (which the Ukrainians obviously are welcoming).

    Surely real GRU agents would be far more tactful about things, and crucially be perfectly aware of what the mission would entail and what their employers actions would amount to, having signed contracts pertaining to all these things…

    The Russian MFA has acted cautionary on the matter, issuing general requests that they be treated well and that they should be returned being Russian citizens. This passive approach could mean anything, but in light of the above it sounds like they’re just grudglingly going through the routine checklist.

    • PaulR says:

      If they are Spetznaz, then the Russian Army needs to start giving its special forces some decent conduct after capture training, since they don`t seem to know that blabbing their mouths off isn`t what they are meant to do.

      • kat kan says:

        I think Drutten’s got it.

        They’ve been in Donbass long enough to know how many captured soldiers disappear forever — and what condition the released ones come back in. They know being “Russian Army” gets them on video – and after that they can’t be roughed up or disappeared.

    • et Al says:

      Quaded! It just doesn’t scan to a normal person. It’s the difference to being caught in uniform and being treated as a POW under the Geneva Conventions or caught undercover and unceremoniously shot…

      The ‘senior officer warning of the risk of having your organs removed’ bit was also quite entertaining. I guess the Albanian thugocracy is rooting for Kiev…

      • marknesop says:

        I read that Amnesty International piece all the way through, for which I think I should get some sort of perseverance medal. And it is a total whitewash of Kiev and its Nazi slugs. That’s not Amnesty International’s fault so much as it is Kyiv Post’s editorializing, but it blabbers on about how the Right Sector spokesman promises their prisoners are treated humanely and they get the same food its soldiers eat and they even get beds. The whole thing is a contrast between “the separatists” and Right Sector – their side are soldiers, the “separatists” are “gunmen”. And on and on in the same vein. I can see that its propaganda is a sweet narcotic for some – it tells them that not only are they winning, they deserve to win because their cause is just and their hearts are pure.

        • et Al says:

          Anna Neistat has been appointed Amnesty International’s new Senior Director for Research from Human Rights Watch where, as Associate Director for Program and Emergencies.

          https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2014/06/anna-neistat-announced-new-head-research-amnesty-international/

          “…Previous to this, Anna Neistat worked for Russia’s leading radio station Ekho Moskvy, the Open Society Institute, and as a constitutional law researcher at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. She holds an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School, a J.D. and Ph.D. in law, and an M.S. in history and philology. She is a member of the New York State Bar. ..”

          Circle jerk anyone?

  6. Northern Star says:

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/05/21/pers-m21.html
    Perhaps commenting on KS from the UK-or Canada- will be considered a subversive act…

  7. PaulR says:

    Canada has denied visas to the Russian delegation of the Operational Experts Group of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was due to meet in Canada. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared that, ‘We will be sure to provide a response to these hostile actions.’ http://tass.ru/en/world/796243

    • marknesop says:

      Good one, Canada – show the world our ass. Can’t wait until this government is out of office, I don’t care if it is replaced by a herd of cows. The nation’s international reputation is being sacrificed to Stephen Harper’s American identity crisis.

      • PaulR says:

        Thanks to vote splitting between NDP and Liberals, there’s a fair chance that the Tories will squeak in again, even if only with a minority.

        • james says:

          that is the fucking sad reality paul… what is with these right wing fanatics running the neo-conservative party here in canuckistan?

    • kirill says:

      Under Harp-ass Canada is like the Baltic chihuahuas. Lots of barking with nothing to back it up. Pathetic.

  8. et Al says:

    euractiv: Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria embark on gas pipeline project
    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/slovakia-hungary-romania-and-bulgaria-embark-gas-pipeline-project-314793

    At the Riga summit yesterday (21 May) Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania signed a Joint Declaration backing the idea of building the Eastring gas pipeline, designed to link Central with Southeastern Europe. However the name Eastring doesn’t appear in the document…

    ..Eastring is a proposed pipeline, a version of which is 832 kilometres long, and runs across Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, while another version is 1274 kilometres long, and reaches Bulgaria.

    One of its advantages is that Eastring uses the existing infrastructure of Eustream on Slovak territory, which was completely renovated after the 2009 gas crisis.

    It is designed to transport gas in both directions, with a capacity of 20 billion cubic metres a year (bcm/y) at the first stage and 40 bcm/y at the final stage. Potential gas sources for forward flows are Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Russia, while for the reverse flow, it is gas from Western European hubs. The optimistic target date for building the first stage of the pipeline is 2018…
    ####

    Who’s paying for it?

    • kat kan says:

      I think Hungary was already started on South Stream, before Bulgaria got trodden on to pull out of their end.

      In theory Turk Stream can be slightly redesigned to terminate in Bulgaria instead of Greece but…. Russia has likely promised this and other help to Greece, and won’t want to let them down to benefit Bulgaria, which was weak enough to cancel South Stream. Russia did say though that Bulgaria could get a spur line for their own needs. .But one current plan also goes through Macedonia, and that route is a powerful shove to make them agree with Greece about the name.

      Anyway having 4 EU countries agree on something the EU is against is a big first.

      The only likely reverse flow customer is Ukraine, whose credit rating would not inspire me to spend a few billion to serve just them.

  9. Tim Owen says:

  10. Warren says:

    The nerve of Hollande is staggering, after the Mistral debacle Russia must never trust France again so long as it is governed by the unprincipled and venal Hollande.

  11. marknesop says:

    Re: the video purportedly depicting the hanging of a Novorossiyan militant and his pregnant wife – I have come around to thinking that it is a fake. Please see my comments for explanation, at the original site which reported it, to save me copying and pasting.

    • Drutten says:

      Yeah, your comments sound absolutely reasonable and I’m inclined to agree.

    • astabada says:

      Mark, I will suspend judgment, but to add to the discussion, the angle at which the body leans from the rope means nothing. For reference, here‘s a hanged person hanging vertically(Viewer discretion is advised).

      The execution seems botched (intentionally or not) in that they did not allow for enough acceleration to break the neck. Nevertheless it shows the body is hanging vertically.

      Here you see bodies hanging obliquely instead of vertically. No doubts this is another real execution.

      Because I am a physicist, let me comment on the acceleration problem too. A car of mass M_car undergoing an acceleration a_car is subject to a force F = M_car * a_car.
      When the rope goes into tension, the neck is subject to the same force M_car * a_car = F = m_body * a_neck, so the acceleration on the neck is a factor M_car/m_body higher than that you see on the car, so let’s say a factor between 10 and 20 higher.

      A final note (for now) is that the place has been clearly used for several executions (real or fake, I don’t know).

      • marknesop says:

        Thanks for the input! The clip you have included is apparently a real execution, and the behavior is what you would expect in a case of asphyxiation. Little to no movement at first, as the victim is holding his breath for as long as he can; if his arms were not bound his hands would be clawing at the rope. The first time he tries to draw breath and cannot, just as if he drew in water when drowning, the body takes over and fights for life. The slow kicking, drawing the legs up above the waist, is what I would expect to see. In looking at the suspected fake again, the woman’s legs are not bound. If the neck was broken there might not be much movement, except for tremors in the extremities that are not bound, as the man does with his legs. However, if his neck was broken he would not hang as he does – what I am talking about, if you look even at the still photo, is that the center of balance for his hanging body appears to be somewhere on his upper back rather than his neck, his body hangs at an angle.

        In the still photo, some of the bodies are bent at the middle or have their legs at an angle – there’s no way to know, but I suspect some of these people may have still been alive when the photo was taken, and were struggling. They were likely just standing on something which was kicked or pulled out from under them, so it is likely that all choked to death. But if you look again at the still photo of the supposed militant, he is up nearly as high as he can go without being pulled over the pole, and the rope does not appear to be leading to his neck. In this still photo, also from the Biskupia Gorka executions, the man’s body hangs at an oblique angle, but it is plainly because it is swinging. In the case of the alleged Novorossiya militant, he is right up against the pole rather than hanging at the full extent of the rope, and his body is not swinging.

        You can’t tell what happens after the vehicle pulls them off the ground, because the clip ends – but in the case of snuff souvenirs, people usually want to capture the death agonies, which leads me to believe all the exciting stuff was over. Then there’s the timing; the Kiev regime needs a distraction because it has run into a spot of negative publicity over Porky’s recognition of Nazi collaborators as heroes. At the same time, he does not dare rescind the law because it is pandering to his base. However, it is difficult to imagine someone would carry that around on their phone if it was a fake, knowing what would be the likely reaction if it were found. Which leads me to suspect the individual did not know it was there.

        Once again, it could be a real execution, but if so there is a lot of unusual behavior. I certainly believe the fascist Kievan forces capable of it, but there have been a number of fakes which were used by Kiev to say “See? The separatists constantly make up stuff about us to discredit us! Really we are just regular guys”. It pays to be suspicious. There is also someone in front of the couple, conspicuously recording the execution on his phone, so the point will not be lost on the finder of the clip. Obviously not the same phone that captured the clip, since it is featured in the video.

        • Jen says:

          I finally decided to watch that video of the militias hanging the couple. The two people seem unusually still before the hanging. The bodies don’t move much at all after the hanging and I would have expected also that there would be pelvic spasms from both couples. The pregnant woman’s body would have started to expel the baby some time after her hanging yet the soldier holds onto her legs and nothing much happens. It reminds me of that fake crucifixion scene we were discussing in the forums before.

          • marknesop says:

            Also, the guy off to the side is not even watching. He walks back from the truck as if it is all routine and does not even look at the couple. Either they execute people all the time, or it is something they practiced and practiced.

            I initially thought the clip cut off early, but in fact it runs for some time and after the couple of little kicks from the man, he does not move at all. It seems very unlikely that they would both be dead so quickly. But maybe I am just looking for things wrong.

            • astabada says:

              Also, the guy off to the side is not even watching.

              This could be because it is a fake, but it could also be because it is not the first execution. As I have written above, there is clear evidence that the site has been used for several hangings – even though I cannot say whether they were real or fake.

              • marknesop says:

                What is the clear evidence that it has been used several times for hangings?

              • astabada says:

                On second thought, I am not so sure anymore. Anyway my evidence is:
                – the gallows is remarkably well built for a single execution
                – the horizontal beam has several marks in the section between the two trees, but there are no marks on the section to the left (hard to judge on the short right section)
                – such marks are also present where the ropes are

                So earlier I had concluded that the ropes had been placed in different points of the beam (this would be normal if you were throwing a heavy knot over it, because it is rather hard to hit always the same spot). Then a weight has been tied to the ropes (to generate the needed tension) and finally the ropes have been pulled, thus leaving marks on the beam.

                At the end of the video there is a close-up where the beam is seen better. I’m curious to know whether it’s just my imagination shooting a movie from random tree marks.

                • marknesop says:

                  I agree that it’s hard to say. But the “gallows” is just a simple crossbeam, no great engineering skill required to throw it up. Whether the hanging is a fake or whether they do this all the time for real, they would have to practice a couple of times; really all you need to do to hang a person is lift them until their feet are off the ground, but the vehicle takes them in one smooth lift right to the bottom of the crossbeam, but not over it. Practice, and I imagine they have a guide mark for the vehicle driver so he does not overshoot. rope marks in the bark are conceivably from practice. They could move the vehicle forward two feet and those hanged would be just as dead.

                  Everybody involved seems very casual, there is no evidence of tension or of anticipation on the part of the captors. The prisoners do not struggle, but stand passively and appear almost relaxed. There’s no sound, so no way to tell if anything is said, but that forces observers to rely on body language, and it looks odd.

                  The woman’s movements bother me, though. That does look real. But she does not draw up her legs at all or kick, and although it does not look like either of their necks were broken (from the lack of change in position of their heads, although admittedly it is hard to tell with a hood on), they seem to die in less time than you could hold your breath.

          • kat kan says:

            HUH??? a womb has to do a lot of serious contracting to expel the contents. If she’s dead there is no muscular contraction. All the muscles going floppy won’t do it. Even bowel and bladder control is not lost immediately; it may be hours.

            • yalensis says:

              Dear katkan:
              I just saw your comment, only after I had already written mine.
              So bowel/bladder control is not lost necessarily? I did not know that.
              That is one of the things I dread most about dying myself – that I will make a mess that others have to clean up.

            • Jen says:

              @ Kat Kan: Well I assumed that in this particular situation, the pregnant woman looked as if she was about to have the baby very soon so I thought the body would start to expel the baby with blood supply being cut off to the womb and placenta while the mother was dying. If the woman had been in an earlier stage of pregnancy then things would be different.

          • yalensis says:

            I didn’t watch the video, I am too squeamish and can’t bring myself to watch it, in case it is real. Which I have a feeling it is. Just based on the meta-data of how the video was found. There have been quite a lot of examples recently of people leaving trophy photos and vids on their cellphones. It’s the modern way. Just think back to 2008 and all the trophys captured by the Russian army in Gruzia, when they gathered up the cellphones of dead American mercenaries.

            Anyhow, I read all the comments, and I think that one guy makes a good point, that the victims would have lost bowel functions, which happens in real deaths. Although, if the victims were starving and dehydrated, maybe not.

            As for the pregnant woman expelling the baby, I don’t think that happens right away.
            I read about an American murder case where a pregnant woman was drowned by her husband. It was only after several days of floating around in the ocean, the gases built up inside her corpse and expelled the foetus from her womb. The foetus floated away and was found by divers, which helped to solve the case. But they believe it didn’t happen right away, the foetus stayed inside her womb until the gases built up sufficiently to expel it. Once the victim is dead, she is unable to push it out using her own muscles.
            Sorry for being so graphic…

    • kat kan says:

      DPR spokesman said it was found on the dead infiltrator.
      (a) he is lying and it is a DPR fake
      (b) he is saying what he was told but whoever brought the phone was lying, and it was a DPR fake done without the spokesman’s knowledge, and not found on the dead body
      (c) it was found on the body but didn’t belong to him and the video is fake
      . (i) every infiltrator has such a fake image, in case they’re killed/caught with it
      .(ii) only this one had a fake, in the hope he gets killed and the phone found, and they’re so lucky that the one carrying the phone gets killed
      .(iii) one of the 2 surviving infiltrators (still being sought) planted the phone on the body before himself running away
      (d) the infiltrator took the video and it’s fake (then there should be other copies around, to be released anonymously)
      (e) the infiltrator took the video and it is real, and just bad lock he got killed and the video released

      No previous atrocity video was released by the authorities; they’ve all shown up anonymously on youtube, so could have been directly from the faker.

      Placing fakes on random soldiers, hoping one gets killed and the phone found, is a very hit and miss method of distributing propaganda that took some considerable work to set up. It can’t be placed on hundreds of phones, as if 2 copies are found at once that betrays the fakery.

      The Donbass side has no need of such a fake; the West is not looking and everyone else already knows these guys are very bad and don’t need further proof.

      In WW2 the Brits did once send fake documents to the Germans by attaching them to a dead body, to be washed up on a beach, to make it look authentic. But that was an important misdirection of where a big attack was going to happen, not a low-value propaganda film.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, all good points. I initially thought it was real, but a combination of things now makes it seem like a fake to me. If two copies were found it might not necessarily expose it as a fake unless they were identical; so long as they were not obviously from the same vantage point, but of the same execution, one would likely tend to validate the other. However, something I did not think about was the likelihood of such a clip being on someone’s phone and them not knowing, probably because I am emphatically not part of the cellphone-geek craze – how likely is that, really? People are browsing through the stuff on their phones all the time. And it is hard to imagine someone would carry around such incriminating evidence willingly, knowing it depicted a faked execution.

        Does it look real to you?

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Mark:
          Without having watched the video, for which I am too squeamish, I believe that we have to approach this more scientifically, the way katkan does.
          I think asking “Does it look real to you?” is not the right question. We are used to things looking a certain way from watching movies; and sometimes when we see real life it looks fake to us. So that’s not the right way to approach this.

          Not in terms of our own knowledge of executions and physics and whatnot, of which most of us have no specialized knowledge; but in terms of the evidence itself and how it is authenticated.

          I think the logical points that katkan raises about the actual way the video was obtained, pretty much convinces, and I think a court of law would accept that it was authentic, just based on those points, and how the vid was found. Regardless of whether we think we know what it looks like to die in this manner.

        • Jen says:

          Real or not, the question remains as to why this video was placed on the dead soldier’s cellphone, and if there was deliberate intent behind the placing. Is the video intended to be screened publicly in Russia with the aim of enraging the public enough to put pressure on Moscow to invade the Donbass region or, if Moscow resists, to start Maidan-style demonstrations against Putin?

          The video seems to be of a piece with the fake crucifixion video: in each, something that is supposedly considered sacred in Russian or East Slavic culture generally (whether it actually is or not) is being violated. In one video, the central tenet of Christianity is being upended and in the second, the sanctity of the family and motherhood is the subject of attack.

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    And the British presstitutes continue plying their trade for their US pimp:

    Finland tells 900,000 reservists their roles ‘in the event of war’

    In the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine, Finland is uniquely vulnerable to any further aggression.

    … In recent months, Russian warplanes have frequently probed Finnish air defences. In April, the Finnish navy resorted to depth-charging a suspected submarine that was detected near the capital, Helsinki.

    • kat kan says:

      “…The government has denied that the letters are connected to the crisis in Ukraine or tension with Russia, saying that plans for the mass delivery began two years ago.
      [….]
      But experts said that even if the initiative pre-dated Russia’s seizure of Crimea, the letter was clearly prompted by worries about the Kremlin’s intentions….”

      It is ALWAYS Russia’s fault, even before they did anything. And experts always know more about things than the people actually doing the things.

  13. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah (God’s Own News Agency Direct – GONAD)*: EU agrees 1.8bn-euro loan to cash-strapped Ukraine
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32843610

    The EU has agreed a €1.8bn (£1.3bn; $2bn) loan to Ukraine – described as a landmark deal for a non-EU member….

    …€200m grants

    In Riga, the EU also pledged €200m in grants to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which have signed association agreements with the 28-nation bloc….
    ###

    * Because butter does not melt in our mouths

  14. et Al says:

    The Intercept – First Look: In the Same Week, the U.S. and U.K. Hide Their War Crimes by Invoking “National Security”
    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/21/key-tactic-us-uk-hide-war-crimes-invoking-national-security/

    Colonel Ian Henderson was a British official dubbed “the Butcher of Bahrain” because of atrocities he repeatedly committed during the 30 years he served as chief security official of that Middle Eastern country. His reign of terror began in 1966 when Bahrain was a British “protectorate” and continued when the post-“independence” Bahraini King retained him in the same position. In 1996, The Independent described him as “the most feared of all secret policemen” in Bahrain, and cited “consistent and compelling evidence that severe beatings and even sexual assaults have been carried out against prisoners under Henderson’s responsibility for well over a decade.”…

    …Prior to the massacres and rapes over which he presided in Bahrain, Henderson played a leading role in brutally suppressing the Mau Mau insurgency in another British colony, Kenya. In the wake of his Kenya atrocities, he twice won the George Medal, “the 2nd highest, to the George Cross, gallantry medal that a civilian can win.” His brutality against Kenyan insurgents fighting for independence is what led the U.K. government to put him in charge of internal security in Bahrain.

    For years, human rights groups have fought to obtain old documents, particularly a 37-year-old diplomatic cable, relating to British responsibility for Henderson’s brutality in Bahrain. Ordinarily, documents more than 30 years old are disclosable, but the British government has fought every step of the way to conceal this cable.

    But now, a governmental tribunal ruled largely in favor of the government and held that most of the diplomatic cable shall remain suppressed. The tribunal’s ruling was at least partially based on “secret evidence for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from a senior diplomat, Edward Oakden, who argued that Britain’s defence interests in Bahrain were of paramount importance”; specifically, “Mr Oakden implied that the release of such information could jeopardise Britain’s new military base in the country.”

    The U.K. government loves to demonize others for supporting tyrants even as it snuggles up to virtually every despot in that region. Her Majesty’s Government has a particularly close relationship with Bahrain, where it is constructing a new naval base. The Kingdom is already home to the United States’ Fifth Fleet….

    …This is the core mindset now prevalent in both the U.S. and U.K. for hiding their crimes from their own populations and then rest of the world: disclosure of what we did will embarrass and shame us, cause anger toward us, and thus harm our “national security.” As these governments endlessly highlight the bad acts of those who are adverse to them, they vigorously hide their own, thus propagandizing their publics into believing that only They — the Other Tribe Over There — commit such acts.

    This is exactly the same mentality driving the Obama administration’s years-long effort to suppress photographs showing torture of detainees by the U.S. In 2009, Obama said he would comply with a court ruling that ordered those torture photos disclosed, but weeks after his announcement, reversed himself. …

    ####
    La plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, innit? Messeiurs les rosbifs, vos poulets sont bien encoulées…

  15. et Al says:

    Deutscher Uber Welle: Skopje returns nine bodies from Kumanovo clashes to Kosovo
    http://www.dw.de/skopje-returns-nine-bodies-from-kumanovo-clashes-to-kosovo/a-18471293

    Macedonia has handed over to Kosovo the bodies of nine ethnic-Albanian gunmen killed in clashes with police earlier this month. The shoot-out was the worst unrest in the former Yugoslav republic in more than a decade.

    Local media reported that the procession carrying nine metal coffins was honored in silence by hundreds of Kosovars holding national flags as the remains crossed into the country at a border crossing on Friday…

    …Kosovo public prosecutor Ali Rexha was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that he was considering complying with a request that he order that autopsies be conducted on the remains, despite the fact that this had already been done by the Macedonian authorities.

    The nine, who were branded “terrorists” by the Macedonian government, were killed in clashes with security forces in the town of Kumanovo, a mostly ethnic-Albanian town around 40 kilometers (26 miles) north of Skopje, two weeks ago.
    ####

    So when is a terrorist not a terrorist? When the Pork Pie News Networks write “terrorists” in quotation marks. It is beyond shameful, but it simply reflects the position of the West politically & in the media. Every time they refuse to call such attacks terrorist, they are simply saying “Go ahead” to those Albanians who want a Natural, née Greater Albania. After all the crap that’s happened in the Balkans and the endless words, threats & cash to try and buy off & keep some kind of peace, the effective silence by the West threatens to end the peace, again.

    • kat kan says:

      So, were these innocent passengers on a tour bus that had an unfortunate accident? so they respectfully provide coffins and give back the bodies in a hand-over ceremony?

      Oh, they sneaked in, armed, to shoot it out with and kill local policemen? then what with returning the remains? how about offering to feed therm to the pigs, unless they swear to never let any others do it again? and show some pigs getting big hunks of (unidentifiable) meat thrown to them?

      “Come here to make trouble, you get trouble”.

      • Fern says:

        It’s probably a manifestation of phenomena that’s common in many parts of the world – plateau-shaped learning curve syndrome. Many Balkan politicians suffer from it – in spite of endless examples to the contrary, they still subscribe to the view that making concessions to the US/EU/NATO will win them sort of a break or a respite from destabilisation campaigns whereas the slightest sign of an opening door just encourages that particular troika to keep pushing.

    • marknesop says:

      Well, it’s not all negative – at least they referred to them as “ethnic Albanian gunmen” instead of “soldiers” or “militiamen” as they do in the case of Ukraine, where the regime’s murderous volunteer-battalion thugs are “soldiers” and eastern militia are “gunmen”. Everything these days is about branding.

      I liked the sad, dignified, flag-holding silent vigil part, too – simply oozes quiet pathos, doesn’t it? When the PPNN chooses up sides, it does not employ half-measures. They should write children’s books, their messaging is so direct and thorough.

      • kat kan says:

        What’s in a name?

        Out of the blue, with no famine, civil war, earthquake etc going on, thousands of Rohingya people take to boats and float all over South East Asia. They’re crowded onto boats virtually standing room only for 2 to 7 day trips.

        Every MSM refers to them as “migrants”. Only today for the first time I saw one single headline calling them refugees. So with one word they are changed from desperate starving people in danger of drowning, into nasty illegals trying to jump queues to take other people’s jobs. At the same time, traffickers are supposedly holding them against their will, with “mass graves” being found in Malaysia.

        So they’re economic migrants, paying the equivalent of 4 or 5 years’ income to nebulous traffickers who imprison them… but somehow it is all their fault? They’re not refugees to be pitied, but bad people to be towed back, neatly exonerating all the governments involved.

        All this very conveniently places large numbers of unknown people into several Muslim countries in the area… a neat way of inserting a core of ISIS types into SE Asia.

  16. yalensis says:

    Russian Fifth Columnists working with Brown Moses and NATO .

    Apparently the Fifth Columnists have taken to snooping around graveyards, looking for evidence to hand over to NATO, of Russian servicemen dying in Ukraine civil war.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      American military presence in Ukraine is amply proven by lost battles.

    • kirill says:

      These clowns thrive by engaging in intellectually insulting nonsense. Suppose they find some fresh grave with an ex soldier in it, what does that prove? Nobody is denying there are thousands of Russian volunteers in the Donbas. These degenerates don’t have the option of redefining words and established concepts just to push some two bit propaganda.

      • marknesop says:

        Unless their search pays massive dividends in a hurry, it is likely to turn into mockery very quickly – to hear the Ukies tell it, they could have won at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo, except for the incompetence of some of their leadership, and the Russian dead lay in windrows and drifts, hundreds of them. Where are they all buried, then? In a secret vault under the Kremlin? So far they have found what they claim is evidence of less than 20 Russian deaths since the conflict started. They must be mighty men indeed if their casualties are that light compared with the toll exacted on the Ukrainian side.

    • marknesop says:

      I can’t believe these guys can just walk around Moscow without getting spit on or beaten up. In Kiev they would be pointed out as collaborators with the enemy, and imprisoned or killed – official signs, prominently displayed, exhort the public to report such activity to the government.

      If they have such abiding faith in a European future for Ukraine under a victorious western coalition, they should be given Ukrainian passports, have their Russian passports confiscated, and be moved there.

  17. Fern says:

    An enterprising Dutch blogger has travelled to Donbas to check out the location where photos purporting to show a BUK missile trail in the sky on the aftermath of the downing of MH17 were taken. His own photos taken from where the original photographer was allegedly situated show completely different landmarks.

    http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150523/1022483408.html

    Oh, and if you’ve heard any creaking noises over the last 24 hours, it’ll be the gates of hell opening. A suicide-bomber inside Saudi Arabia has attacked a Shia mosque killing 21 and injuring many more – some analysts are saying it’s a reflection of a split inside the Saudi elite with one party seeking to go all out for a Sunni/Shia war.

      • kirill says:

        The average media consumer can’t tell the difference between alto-stratus clouds and alto-cumulus clouds. That “smoke trail” sky had nothing in common with the day of the MH17 crash. The background vertical temperature gradient in the troposphere does not change in the span of seconds or a few hours. During the actual day of the crash it was marginally convectively unstable giving rise to the cumulus clouds. Stratiform clouds are not associated with convective circulations and form because of large scale uplift such as induced by a warm front where a warmer air mass slides over a colder air mass.

      • marknesop says:

        That guy’s blog is actually a gold mine of information on MH-17 – great catch! Read this post; remember back when the Ukies made the astonishing claim that the Dutch investigation had not only established the cause of the accident beyond a reasonable doubt, they had enough evidence to identify the perpetrators? He takes that story methodically apart, and his conclusions strongly suggest the photographs which supported the Ukies’ allegation – to which the Dutch reaction was stunned amazement and the rapid convening of the non-disclosure agreement – were taken by a Ukrainian member of the research team itself, or someone on the research team who is so sympathetic to the cause of an “independent Ukraine” that he will present false evidence as fact.

        The level of deliberate fakery in the MH-17 case – clearly intended to establish unstoppable momentum, bang, bang, bang, Russia did it – is staggering.

  18. yalensis says:

    To me it just reads like a lot of blah-blah-blah, but smart people who have actually read this document say it is a complete fail for Ukraine: no visa-free, no EU, etc etc

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QqQIwAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Feu2015.lv%2Fimages%2Fnews%2F2015_05_22_RigaDeclaration_EaP.pdf&ei=fGZgVer2GpCpogTj7YOYAg&usg=AFQjCNF9XVL4JRUCqqwqoX7rUJZcd_tvQw&bvm=bv.93990622,d.aWw

    • marknesop says:

      The Summit participants underline that strengthening democracy and enabling functioning market economies, improving macroeconomic stability and the business environment, as well as enhancing interconnectivity, mobility and people-to-people contacts open new prospects for cooperation, contributing also to trade, growth and competitiveness. This serves the shared commitment to stability, security and prosperity of the European Union, Eastern European partners and our entire continent.

      Straight from the How To Speak Bullshit Matrix, this is just a collection of soothing platitudes and buzzwords, diplomatic Novocaine.

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    Ukraine asks to extend discount on Russian gas by end of year

    And don’t forget folks: Porky and Yats and a host of other shits that are part of the Kiev “government” repeatedly state that Russia is an aggressor state, is at war with the Ukraine and has invaded its eastern territory, where the Russian army presence numbers thousands.

    And with the same breath they ask Russia for a discount on further gas supplies, for which previously supplied Russian natural gas the Ukraine state owes billions.

    Some aggressor!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      They need a decent English proofreader: “by the end of the year” means a discount extension should be agreed upon before this year ends.

      What the RT headline should read is, I suspect: “Ukraine asks to extend discount on Russian gas up to the end of the year”, meaning they want their present discount extended up to and including 31 December 2015.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Remember the “Are Slavs Stupid” thread of a while back?

        I’m seriously beginning to believe that Ukrainians are, or at least many of their public figures are, in that they consistently make contradictory statements in almost the same breath, which might indicate that they have a very short memory span (surely a sign of being slow witted) or that they are so stupid not to recognize that the clear stupidity of their contradictory statements must surely be recognized by most people who are in possession of a normal intellect.

        Bear in mind, with their continuous shameless mendacity and double talk they may simply be mimicking the behaviour of their mentors, whose blatant hypocrisy has long been evident, e.g. the statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …” was composed by slaveowners almost to a man, in that several of the Founding Fathers of the USA were in possession of hundreds of human beings that were listed in their account books as personal property and worked for them as slaves, namely George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Patrick Henry were all slave-owners. And Hilary Clinton “misspoke” when saying publicly that she had been fired upon by a sniper when arriving at Belgrade airport with her daughter; not forgetting the US lies concerning Iran and Iraq, of course, and the destruction of the USS Maine at Havana; and the role of the US Marine Corps in maintaining “freedom and Democracy” for the benefit of United Fruit and Wall St. in Central and Southern America, as revealed by General Smedly Butler …

        • Northern Star says:

          http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/05/19/pers-m19.html

          You need to grasp that there is a standing presumption of lies when contemplating ANYTHING stated by the tools-mouthpieces- of TPTB…..

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I’ve just checked out the above link about Obama’s visit to Camden, N.J.

            I had heard of Camden before, as a matter of fact, because that’s where Walt Whitman lived. I always pictured it as rather a bucolic small-town-USA kind of a place, going by the old pictures that I have seen that were taken of Whitman when he lived there.

            Well, it might have been such a place – 150-odd years ago in post-bellum USA. But hell’s bells! – how can US citizens take the piss out of “third-world” Russia and its criminality when there are places closer to home such as Camden that they can refer to?

            Camden, New jersey, USA:

            Camden had the highest crime rate in the United States in 2012, with 2,566 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, which is 6.6 times higher than the national average of 387 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens – Wiki.

            Shitsville USA?

            Wonder if any Banderite Yukies got resettled there post-1945?

    • marknesop says:

      And is looking to default on the money Russia spent to buy Ukrainian debt in the $3 Billion first tranche of the $15 billion Yanukovych negotiated with Putin, don’t forget.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Rumour has it that the Yukies are going to try and make out that the Booby-trap bond deal is invalid because it was made between Putin and Yanukovych, who are the two baddies, of course.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          And don’t forget folks – the Maidan protestors stood for new faces in government.

          Get it? Not the same tired old oligarchic faces of previously discredited governments.

        • marknesop says:

          Ah. So if someone made a loan arrangement with, say, Raiffeisen Bank in Munich, and they later determined the debtor to be of unsavory character, they could just call in the loan regardless of the term? Only Pastors and saints need apply? I’m pretty sure that’s not how contracts work at all. If it were, you might well see a large number of private investigations conducted on the directors of the bank itself by customers who feel they should not have to repay their loans because the bankers are of bad character and are perhaps even criminals.

  20. Tim Owen says:

    Saudi Arabia ‘seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council’

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/saudi-arabia-reportedly-seeking-to-head-united-nations-human-rights-council-10267783.html

    “Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said that the move was liable to be “the final nail in the coffin for the credibility of a body that already counts dictatorships like China, Cuba and Russia as members, and whose top advisor is co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize”.

    “We urge US Ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini to denounce this despicable act of cynicism by a regime that beheads people in the town square, systematically oppresses women, Christians, and gays, and jails innocent bloggers like Raif Badawi for the crime of challenging the rulers’ radical brand of Wahabbist Islam,” Neuer added.”

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    Odessa today.

    Wonder if the stench of burning human flesh is still noticeable there?

    • Tim Owen says:

      I’m confused. I thought they hated corrupt politicians.

    • marknesop says:

      I can’t get it to run, for some reason. I can see the little stills all across the progress bar at the bottom, showing Saakashvili engaged in his favourite activity, mugging for the cameras and feeling like a rock star, but the video itself just keeps endlessly loading.

      • Jen says:

        No need to bother, every man in that video was going tie-less or wore a floral folk shirt so you wouldn’t have seen Saakashvili foaming and frothing at the mouth at the sight of a nice juicy striped cravat. Which makes me think the crowd gathered around him had been specially hired for the day by his minions. 🙂

  22. The Kiev junta managed to kill Alex Mozgovoy in a surprise attack today.

    • The seps should really just surrender. They are not allowed to win this war anyway.

      1. The seps cannot force the junta out of artillery range of Donetsk which means that the junta can shell and destroy the city for years or decades to come.

      2. The junta has a carte blanche to assassinate the highest leadership members of Novorossiya, while Novorossiya is obviously not allowed to go after the Kiev junta leadership.

      Those who are placing their hope for the collapse of the Kiev junta, it will not happen. The West will always back them just enough for them being able to continue this war. Odessa and Kharkov will not rise. They have no weapons and anyone who protests will just be imprisoned or killed.

      Unless Russia changes it’s policy Novorossiya is in a hopeless situation. They’d better off live under a fascist junta than have their cities, villages and infrastructure destroyed and their land depopulated.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Not allowed by whom?

      • Northern Star says:

        “They are not allowed to win this war anyway.”

        Pardon me..but one usually doesn’t ask fascist vermin for their permission for one to prevail over them…

        Perhaps it’s time for the seps to play the asymmetrical warfare card in Kiev…

      • Tim Owen says:

        Wow. What a weird post.

        Most analysis I’ve seen or seen reports on, including a very recent report from US War College are quite unequivocal*: Russia holds the trump card. It can match any escalation at will directly from its territory. It can afford to keep Donbass supported to whatever level it deems is politically expedient taking into account the unfortunate circumstances that Russia’s broader interests over-ride that of the Donbass.

        Putin has also been unequivocal: the destruction of the people of the Donbass will “never happen.”

        The effort to economically damage Russia has been an – almost – utter failure while the collapse of the Ukrainian economy, cut off from its biggest trading partner by virtue of its own magical thinking – lace panties! – is shockingly severe.

        So where does this pessimism come from?

        * Referenced in John Batchelor’s latest discussion with Stephen F. Cohen:

        http://johnbatchelorshow.com/podcasts/51915-hr-2-jbs-stephen-f-cohen-nyu-princeton-professor-emeritus-author-soviet-fates-and

        • Max says:

          Batchelor always has the kewlest theme music.

          • Tim Owen says:

            Agreed. They must be the “odd(est) couple” of our moment. Judging by his list of other regular contributors – Larry f’ing Kudlow? – his audience skews right. But he’s been an outstanding interlocutor for Cohen. Makes me, again, pine for the 70s when such a thing as a main-stream Republican was not an oxymoron and the “Southern Starategy” was in its infancy.

      • Warren says:

        i share your sentiments. The murder of Mozgovoi added with the attempted assassination of Gubarev last year illustrates how cynical either Kiev is or comprador elements of the Russian elites are.

        It’s unfair to ask men to sacrifice themselves in a war, if they are not allowed to win.

        Every time NAF go on the offensive August 2014 or January 2015, they immediately make concessions to Ukraine. The West will not remove sanctions from Russia, therefore Russia has nothing to lose by supporting the rebels to extent needed to achieve victory.

        Victory is defined as follows:

        1. Kiev junta is toppled.
        2. Novorossiya stretches from Kharkov to Odessa.

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          ‘Victory’ – and taking on the financial burden of the former Ukraine – would do far more economic damage than any western sanctions ever could.

        • Tim Owen says:

          I’ve heard this line of reasoning for a long time, especially via Gleb Bazov and Slayangrad. I am not Russian or (eastern?) Ukranian so I don’t feel like I’m in a position to judge and am sympathetic with the frustration and outrage over the short-term results of “playing the long game.”

          But I really don’t buy the central and best argument from this perspective: the west has thrown everything they have at Russia and already accused it of doing what’s necessary to protect the Donbass so there’s nothing to lose by actually doing it.

          The first point would be: the West has been able to gin-up the war machine to an astonishing – read, embarrassing extent – based on a completely false picture. Attempts to shore this up are looking increasingly desperate. This phenomenon is a function of Russia’s constraint. Take that away and, given the quality of the leadership involved in the west it,, could be August 1914. Again.

          Even more centrally is the question of where to stop.

          It’s entirely instructive to my mind that apparently Putin would only consider the Crimean operation if he could be convinced that the overwhelming majority of the population would support it. (When do you think that question has ever seriously come up prior to military action in a western capital, eh?) But the point is not how virtuous the Russians and, there with, Putin but rather that you only go all-in on battles where you have overwhelming advantage. You DON’T go all-in to battles which are messy and complicated, especially when the trends – economically, politically etc. – are already going against your adversary.

          Instead you wait to pick up the pieces after your adversary has worn itself out fighting against the basic facts of the situation:

          – Ukraine is not economically viable cut off from the Russian economy and especially not when it is in – self-inflicted – crisis
          – the true nature of the Kiev regime’s “base” would appall most Europeans if known and it is only becoming more apparent over time
          – the only real solution to the problem is the complete defeat of Neo-Nazi / Svidomite ideology in Ukraine. It will take time but – with great unjustness – it is far better to have the easterners representing the realist / multi-ethnic nature of Ukraine remain a force within the titular state than rescued and made irrelevant as fair as that outcome would be
          – if that seems callous think of the everyday challenges of being someone who is resisting in Odessa or Kharkiv. Granted, no shelling. But they are at least not subject to SBU suppression.

          • marknesop says:

            Floodlights, please, center stage.

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

            Exactly right.

            Just consider the fate of the Ukrainian army – what would be done with it if Russia were to occupy the Ukraine now? Disbanding it would be asking for trouble, and keeping it under arms would saddle Russia with an unreliable and incompetent tool.

          • Paul says:

            I would argue that Russia’s goose would have been cooked if the Crimean bases had been lost, so a discussion about what percentage felt what there is besides the point.

            The cold strategy of just holding a sliver of the Donbass while the rest of the country goes down the drain is totally rational, however, the assumption that the pieces can be put in one country is questionable. I doubt Syria and Israel could be in the same country, and the current bloodshed is likely to make it totally unworkable in the Ukraine. But the point is that Russia could hope for a confederation on paper where Galicia leaves or at least it doesn’t look like Russia is the bad guy. Some of us think this is a bit optimistic, as the demons have been set loose, and the more desperate Ukrainians become, the more they may blame Moscow. Besides, authoritarian hellholes can last for decades, and the US has adequate experience with doing just that.

          • james says:

            great post tim. i agree with mark and pavlo..

      • marknesop says:

        Well, you heard it here first, folks. Novorossiya is fucked. They might as well surrender.

        • Jen says:

          Novorossiyans have been thrown under the bus so many times that by now they must be used to riding it upside-down like Comanche or Cossack stunt-riders do.

    • Max says:

      How do we know who killed whom? Rumo(u)rs are swirlling.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    It’s thrown under a bus time again!

  24. Northern Star says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/russia-adopt-tough-position-ukraine-defaults-pm-medvedev-095409670–business.html
    I know it’s Yahoo..But some of the comments are-seem to be- very well informed ….:e.g.:
    “Arthur Shimko 4 hours ago 3 6
    In December 2013 Russia purchased a 3 billion dollar bond from Ukraine which is to be redeemed in December 2015. Russia registered the bond with the British parliament, the Irish government and with Norway and Sweden. This is now an European instrument know as a “foreign law” issue. The Ukrainian parliament can not modify this bond. It must be paid. A court challenge by Ukraine would question the integrity of the European monitory system.

    This bond is known as the “booby trap bond.” It contains two clauses. Clause one: Russia can call the bond before due date if Ukraine’s debt exceeds 60% of its GDP. Ukraine has exceeded that limit, but Russia says it will not call the bond yet. Clause two: If Russia calls the bond on the basis of clause one, then all debts owed by Ukraine to Russia are due and payable. This figure by some reporters is 25 billion dollars. Although this figure is often cited by reporters its relationship to the “booby trap” bond clauses is not explained. On the surface, at the present time, Russia wants the 3 billion and is mute on the remaining monies. Of course, there are folks that hope Russia will collect and there are folks that hope Russia will forgive the 25 billiion.”

    If Moscow actually has Ukraine by the economic balls to *this* extent..then she should just ruthlessly tighten her claws in a vise like grip….
    And why the fuck would Russia forgive the 25 builion debt???????

    • Moscow Exile says:

      This was revealed long ago, but polite folk in the West don’t like to talk about it.

      As you have said, If the slimy bastards in the EU and Banderastan try to renege on the terms, they’ll be making all the much vaunted European “my word is my bond” financial and legal integrity worthless. And as regards the fact that Russia could call in the payment once the Yukie debt exceeded 60% of theGDP of most financially corrupt nation in Europe, that 60% condition was passed long ago and Russia has just been paying out the line as though the Ukraine were a salmon on a hook.

      Russia has the Ukraine by the short and curlies as regards this bond issue, which may surprise some in view of the fact that the West is held to be morally and intellectually superior to the Tatar-Mongol muzhiki – vastly superior on all counts.

      The West always wins, doesn’t it? It’s too powerful for Russia. Russia is only a regional power, now ain’t that so? That’s what O’Bummer has said. I mean, what does Russia make that anyone wants to buy? Just look around WalMart and tell me how many Russian goods you see.

    • marknesop says:

      That could have something to do with Kerry’s visit, too.

  25. Warren says:

    Russia’s Putin signs law against ‘undesirable’ NGOs

    The Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill which allows foreign organisations to be banned from operating in the country.

    The law allows the authorities to prosecute foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or firms designated as “undesirable” on national security grounds.

    Individuals working for NGOs could face fines or up to six years in prison.
    Critics say it is a Kremlin move aimed at stifling dissent.

    The definition of “undesirable” is open to interpretation, but the Interfax news agency said it would apply to organisations deemed to pose a threat to the “foundations of Russia’s constitutional order, defensive capacity and security”.

    ‘Squeeze the life’

    NGOs linked to politics in Russia already face restrictions under a 2012 law requiring them to register as “foreign agents”.

    Supporters of the new bill say it is essential to prevent Russia from outside interference, amid ongoing tensions due to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

    Amnesty International said the bill would “squeeze the life” from civil society, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned it would be locals who would be worst-hit.

    “We are often asked – is this draft law aimed against international rights groups like yours?” said Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “But in fact, there is little doubt that its primary targets are Russian activists and Russian independent organisations.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32860526

    • james says:

      thanks warren.. i think it is a prudent move on the part of russia given how things have unfolded with all these fucking colour revolutions, or whatever one wants to call them which are the underbelly of many of these ngos – soro-ass in particular..
      quote “Amnesty International said the bill would “squeeze the life” from civil society, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned it would be locals who would be worst-hit.” two popular propaganda sites are complaining.. that’s a good sign..

    • Tim Owen says:

      Perhaps in the spirit of the “None shall pass!” sketch from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail Russia should require that any NGO – read EXACTLY CIA and State Dept funded – group enumerate the blessings they have brought upon the good citizens lucky enough to be served by their efforts in the past.

      What’s your favourite colour: green, no rose, no orange…. ahhhhh…

      I would be happy to preside over the process as I also happen to be called… Tim.

    • marknesop says:

      Because of course there are no existing Russian laws under which they could prosecute Russian activists and independent organizations. Thanks for confirming that, Doctor Williamson. Interesting background: “Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Williamson worked for 11 years as a correspondent from the Manila and Berlin bureaus of the Financial Times. He served as the Europe news editor during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and most recently as the paper’s deputy foreign editor. He has written and commented in the international media, including on the BBC and CNN, on European politics, development issues and the international political economy, business ethics and corporate responsibility, and the politics of the human rights movement.

    • kirill says:

      How is this stifling dissent? Sorry if my physics background makes me cringe listening to such primitive magical thinking. But get fucking real. We all know there are plenty of Trojan agitation operations organized by NATO alphabet agencies under the cover of “NGO”. Shutting these coup organization outfits is actually supporting freedom and not suppressing it. You can take a look at the results of such “NGO” activity in Ukraine and how “free” it has become after the coup these outfits helped organize. So stability, in its present form (or the form before February 2014 in Ukraine) is the best guarantee of freedom and not regime change.

      Based on the retarded drivel spew “logic” from the sick mind of the author of this piece you would expect that getting rid of a few of these NGOs would be the same as shutting down the whole of the free media and internet. You would also expect that nobody could run for office who did not “conform”. Obviously this is patent nonsense.

      How many NATO sponsored NGOs are operating in Saudi Arabia? I don’t hear HRW and AI bitching about freedom in the KSA. I really should be asking, how many hostile foreign NGOs are operating in the USA and the EU?

  26. Tim Owen says:

    • marknesop says:

      Fantastic. And the west was still unable to topple Assad, while Syria’s only ally in the whole world was the barbaric tinker-toy nation that doesn’t make anything and is isolated from the global community. Heckuva job, Putin.

      • Jen says:

        Great work from Dr Nafeez Ahmed and I hope Off-Guardian.org support his report by reposting it at their site.

    • james says:

      yea – this has been out for the past week or so – as if anyone with a fucking brain couldn’t figure out isis is another creation of the same maniacs funding shit around the mid-east – usa/saudi arabia and israel.. moa had a good post up may 19th which also highlights a perceptive comment ” The pictures ( see link here) show a bright and sunny blue sky. No U.S. air interdiction was seen. Remarks one knowledgeable tweep looking at those pictures:

      The Islamic State in Ramādī yesterday. Quite amazing the coalition didn’t take them out actually. Makes one wonder about the coalitions rules of engagement. Now it “looks” as if Ramādī was offered to them on a silver plate …”

    • Fern says:

      That the ‘international community’ aka the US and its friends are behind the creation of ISIS/ISIL/IS has been hidden in plain sight for a number of years now. The arming of the unreliable Iraqi military with a phenomenal amount of US hardware which then somehow or other find their way into IS hands – and God forbid the US military with its awesome air power should, you know, like bomb the weapons’ stores when they’re abandoned by the military to prevent their take-over by the jihadists – added to the funding and arming (with US supplied weapons) of IS by US ally Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States along with yet more weapons and fighters being moved into Iraq and Syria through US ally and NATO member, Turkey, clearly point to the source of IS. A US foreign policy wonk, for example, wrote the following in 2012 – it comes with a health warning – reading it is likely to adversely affect your blood pressure:-

      “For the foreseeable future, however, Iran constitutes a far greater and more immediate threat to US national interests. Whatever misfortunes Sunni Islamists may visit upon the Syrian people, any government they form will be strategically preferable to the Assad regime….So long as Syrian jihadis are committed to fighting Iran and its Arab proxies, we should quietly root for them – while keeping our distance from a conflict that’s going to get very ugly before the smoke clears. There will be plenty of time to tame the beast after Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions have gone down in flames.”

      Massacres and ethnic cleansing – it’s all good. Afghanistan redux. The utter destruction of Afghanistan at the hands of western funded and backed jihadis is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century – a tragedy dismissed by one of its main architects, Zig Big, as a “bunch of stirred up muslims’.

      And that’s the thing – these folk know what they’re doing. The US does not end up backing the most regressive and violent groups in targeted countries and societies because of some tragic ‘mistake’ or ‘misunderstanding’ of their motives, they back whosoever is violent enough to get the job done. And they care not one iota for the fate of peoples in those places. This is what I find impossible to understand about the Russian US worshipping ‘liberals’ – it’s not like evidence the US doesn’t give a flying f**k about target populations is somehow hidden or unobtainable. And yet the Kreakly still don’t get they’re being used?

      • marknesop says:

        There will be plenty of time to tame the beast after the dust has settled. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of what I despise about American foreign policy, and its cavalier assumption that it will be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – that sometime in laterland its vicious killers will turn into butterfly-collecting free marketeers with a pro-western bent and a yen for democracy and the rule of law. All courtesy of American Exceptionalism. Like those blackboard drawings which feature skeins of equations all flowing into a single box inside which is written “Here a miracle occurs”, followed by an equals sign and the correct answer.

        The Great American Approach To Meddling is perhaps most chillingly summed up in neocon high priest William Kristol’s remark during an interview on NPR in 2003.

        There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni, and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

    • et Al says:

      I know I’ve posted this before, but as usual, its a heads up for the lurkers.

      Nafeez Ahmed use to write his Earth insight blog for the Guardian on the ‘geopolitics of environmental, energy and economic crises’ and got fired because he wrote a piece quoting an Israeli General saying that Israel had to stop the Palestinian’s having control over any energy in the region.*

      Curiously this does not show up on his wikipedia biography…

      http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/782-grievous-censorship-by-the-guardian-israel-gaza-and-the-termination-of-nafeez-ahmed-s-blog.html

      “…Ahmed quoted Israeli defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, to the effect that military efforts to ‘uproot Hamas’ were in part driven by Israel’s determination to prevent Palestinians developing their own energy resources. Ahmed also cited Anais Antreasyan who argued, in the highly-respected University of California’s Journal of Palestine Studies, that this is part of a wider strategy of:

      ‘separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development. Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA [Palestinian Authority], from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources.’

      At the time of writing, Ahmed’s July 9 piece has received a massive 68,000 social media shares and is far and away the most popular Guardian article on the Gaza conflict. In the event, however, it was the last article published by him in the Guardian. The following day, his valuable Earth Insight blog, covering environmental, energy and economic crises, was killed off.

      The Earth Insight series had accrued around three million views and was the most popular Guardian environment blog. ..”
      ###

      Freedom to Fire is Sacred at the Guardian!

  27. yalensis says:

    News from Eurovision song contest:
    Sweden won the contest.
    Russia came in second.

    Here is the winning song, the winner Måns Zelmerlöw uses some imanitive special effects:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      By the way, as well as changes in world climate patterns, there has been a huge, albeit barely noticed by many, tectonic plate shift on the world’s surface of late, which to the discerning eye only became evident during that annual farce known a the Eurovision song contest:

      “Down Under “is henceforth to be known as “Up Next To”.

    • cartman says:

      Grauniad: Whew Russia didn’t win.

      Even though everyone was voting for it.

      • cartman says:

        The only things acceptable in Europe and the West:

        1. militant political correctness, and 2. Ukrainian Nazism

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Spot the Russians!

          They’re the obscene ultranationalists proudly displaying their loathsome national flag on what was supposed to be a “we are one” promotional photograph.

          • yalensis says:

            And frankly, Russia did everything within her power to be acceptable as the next venue for the Europoids. Prior to the competition, Polina even met with Conchita and they did kissy faces for the camera. If Russia had won, then Polina would have hosted the next one, I think.
            Anyhow, like I said, they all sound the same to me. I cannot discern any ethnic or cultural differences between any of the singers.

      • yalensis says:

        I KNEW there was going to be some controversy when I read that the judges had excluded the Macedonian and Montenegran votes from the tally.
        On the one hand, I don’t want to say that the vote was rigged against Russia, but on the other hand…
        🙂

        In any case, I personally don’t really care. I suppose I was rooting for the Russian out of ethnic loyalty, but frankly I don’t know why. Her song was not that great, and I don’t even like the sound of her voice. Polina is a competent singer, but she manipulates her timbres in the American style, like they all do, and the result grates on my ears.
        Polina just seemed like she was produced in that same cookie-cutter laboratory that they all come out of.

        Frankly, to me, they all sound the same, and their songs have nothing really of importance to say to the world….
        Aside from that, it was a wonderful song competition. Almost as good as the one that the minstrel Tannhäuser lost to Wolfram von Eschenbach

        • Jen says:

          I suppose now the next time Sweden is spooked by an underwater object, the Swedish navy can use a new secret weapon to try to scare it away in case the “gay” decoy doesn’t work: a recording of Måns Zelmerlöw’s performance.

          • yalensis says:

            Ha ha, that’s funny!

            speaking of the gays, in the Grauniad forum, one of the commenters pointed out that Polina is very pro-gay (I mentioned before that she made many public kissy faces with Conchita), whereas the “Swedish nightingale” Måns Zelmerlöw has a reputation as a homophobe.

            Ah, the irony!
            (I just wish ABBA would pop up from their graves and slay them all, just for fun.)

            • Drutten says:

              Well, last year Mr. Zelmerlöw publicly said that homosexuality was a biological deviation when being on a Swedish TV show. I can quote him directly, here goes:

              I think that men are supposed to be born with an automatic attraction towards females, and vice versa for women. That’s logical, I think.

              – So you’re saying that homosexuality is a deviation, simply put?

              Yes, that’s what I mean I suppose. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it whatsoever, but I think that the natural thing [about sex] is a man and a woman conceiving a child together and thus multiplying.

              – But isn’t it just as natural that a man and a man want to sleep together, or a woman and a woman?

              No, it’s not as natural if you look at it… I mean, since they’re not generating any offspring.

              This inexcusable homophobia caused an outrage in Swedish media. Even political commentators in Sweden demanded that he be sent to therapy to cure him of this outrageous intolerance, and the producers of the TV show he was in when he said these things were seriously harassed by newspapers and pundits alike. Pretty much everyone who had been in contact with Zelmerlöw over the past years were put in the limelight and asked to publicly denounce his rampant homophobia and so on.

              Really, this particular case highlights exactly why things have gone way too far in certain European countries, and it’s exactly this kind of nuttery that those evil conservatives are trying to steer clear of.

              In short, no, he’s not a “homophobe” – he’s just a normal person with a perfectly reasonable opinion regarding the purpose of intercourse that just happened to be soooo pre-2000’s. That was his mortal sin. For crying out loud, he’s hosted gay festivals in Sweden and he surrounds himself with heaps of openly (and flamboyantly) gay people all the time.

              • marknesop says:

                I agree with him. There will always be a small sampling of humans who fall outside the norm, which is man/woman/reproduction. There is no reason to imagine the normal grouping does not pursue sex for pleasure – I’m pretty confident that’s what attracts us all to it except for maybe Methodist missionaries – but the small group outside the norm pursues it purely for pleasure while for the norm there is a secondary purpose.

                The whole fight between gay activists and the group opposing them is that gay activists want to normalize homosexuality; to obtain broad acknowledgement that it is natural and normal. But that has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with simplifying their access to youth and the transmission of the gay message to them. If homosexuality is an imperative you are born with and cannot ignore, you will be a homosexual no matter how you struggle against it. But gay activists are interested in sex for pleasure and do not particularly care if their partner is homosexual or not – just taking it for a test drive is okay with them. Why not? They can’t get pregnant.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          They have a kind of who-do-you-do TV talent show here and they all sing – shriek, really, because most “modern” singers think that a “powerful voice” (i.e. shouting down a mic) is the sign of a talented singer – in English, trying their damndest to sound like a Pindos. There was one on the other night “doing” Tina Turner’s “The Best”. I had to leave the room. Mrs. Exile thought the Russia wannabe Tina Turner was shit hot though.

          • marknesop says:

            Is that “Golos”? My wife and mother-in-law watch it religiously. There are some really great singers on there. The judges are arrogant, though, especially Agutin. Whom I otherwise like.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              That’s the programme: Golos – “Voice”.

              This pleasingly plump Russian lass hasn’t got a bad voice though:

              The blondie is a Latvian. The Russian soprano, Netrebko, who hails from Kuban Cossack stock, almost got the heave-ho not long ago by her employer, the Vienna Opera House, for being politically incorrect, namely she did a concert in the Donbass for the benefit of murderous Putin-backed terrorists there and the beleaguered citizens of that territory, whom the terrorists use as a human shield.

              Shocking!

              • et AL says:

                Which one is the ‘plump one’? I think I’m warming to opera. Mmmm, opera sandwich with Viennese coffee and slices of sacher torte to keep the pecker up….

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The pleasingly plump one is the dark-haired soprano, Netrebko: Ukrainian family name, but she’s from the Kuban – or her folks were.

                  She only became plump after having moved to Vienna: too many cream cakes with Schlagsahne, I think.

                  She was once much more streamlined:

                  Her’s a bonny wench though!

                • kirill says:

                  I don’t think it is the diet. It is the stress of her job. “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings” is derived from the almost stereotypical image of female (and male) opera singers as being overweight. I have no doubt there is a biochemical reason for this related to cortisol release in the absence of adrenaline release. The worst type of stress. Cortisol shifts the metabolism to a fat accumulation mode and contributes to heart disease.

                • yalensis says:

                  Okay, these wonderful ladies are both huge opera stars.
                  I don’t watch “Golos”, but they are both famous and reknowned in the opera world.
                  Netrebko is currently one of the headliners for the Metropolian Opera in New York.
                  The Met, to its credit, has backed her and refused to buckle to the svidomite lobby who wants them to fire her because of her pro-Donbass views.

                  Netrebko and Garanca have done a lot of concerts together. Netrebko is a soprano, and Garanca is a mezzo-soprano.
                  The combination of the soprano and mezzo voice singing in duet is a very unique experience. The voices are similar, yet different. Garanca’s voice is deep and throaty, it sounds shivers down my spine.

                  Here is one of my favorite soprano-mezzo duets, it is the famous “Barcarolle” (“Vienna Canal Boat Song”), “Beautiful Night of Love” from Jacques Offenbach’s “Contes d’ Hoffmann” (“Tales of Hoffmann”)

                  With Garanca singing the role of Niklaus, Hoffman’s Muse; and Netrebko singing the role of Giuliette, the brilliant courtesan who seduces Hoffmann.

                  I like this particular clip, because it shows the musical notes as well as the lyrics:

        • marknesop says:

          I liked her; I think of the voice as an instrument, like a guitar, and you can see what somebody great could do with a good guitar even if the person playing it isn’t that skilled – it still has a great sound. She has a powerful voice that surprises you when she lets it go, but I agree that the whole Jonathan-Livingston-Seagull inspirational ballad thing is a crock and I would no more play it during leisure time than I would listen to country. Unfortunately the contest has evolved that way, and now every song either has to reflect a specific cultural characteristic or be a sweeping paean to moral victory.

    • et Al says:

      Chastened Swedish homophobe beats Russia. What a great victory for Europe. Not that the Russophobe Guardian notices – Sweden defeats Russia to grasp Eurovision song contest victory.

      Blinkers anybody?

    • bolasete says:

      NEOLOGISM ALERT!
      imanitive: ________

        • et Al says:

          For the Devil?

          The shiiiite PPNN headline’s like ‘Sweden pips Russia to…’ ,Nigella puts the boot in..’ etc. FFS, Sweden got 365 points and Russia 303. I know it is a habit of the PPNN to lie regularly and without consequence, but I did think that there might have been someone who can frigging count!

          On the other hand, maybe it is better they are in the PPNN. I certainly wouldn’t want any of those muppets running a nuclear power station, bomber or a financial institution. What am I saying (Hello Chernobyl)? It makes absolutely no difference, there are morons EVERYWHERE!!!!

      • yalensis says:

        Oh, you, bolasete, you!

        You no like my jive?

        🙂

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. – it’s Mark’s job to correct my spelling errors.
          Please direct your complaints to him!

        • bolasete says:

          your penance (plenary indulgence -in rc lingo- thereafter) is info to track down -as in buy for $- that tales of hoffman piece you graced us with above. your comments about the mezzo voice were on point.

          • yalensis says:

            Dear bolsete:
            Oh goodie! you asking me for advice which “Tales of Hoffmann” to buy?
            Buy, I don’t know. Maybe there are some on amazon, I am not sure.
            Anyhow, if you have youtube, you have a choice of several different versions to watch.
            Okay, I have been waiting my whole life to see a “perfect” version of Hoffmann done, and I am still waiting. Each version has its own exquisite flaws.

            However, I would have to say that this version is the best one I have seen to date, complete with all its flaws. It is the so-called “Integral version” performed at the Munich opera house, not sure what year.
            The star is the amazing Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon, who is cute as a button with his curly hair and scary eyebrows:

            Anyhow, by “Integral production”, they mean that they don’t include anything that is not authentic Offenbach music.
            See, “Hoffmann” is a bit of a mishmash. It is both a curse and a blessing that Offenbach died before finishing his masterpiece. He left all the scenes and music lying around like a jigsaw puzzle. As a result, people have to make many decisions when staging the work. Additional music was added by other composers, and people weren’t even sure of the order of the acts. Acts II and III can, and have been, switched around. Sometimes a big part of the prologue is omitted, involving the machinations of the Muse.

            Everybody agrees on Act I – Hoffmann is a young science student who shows up at Professor Spallanzani’s house and falls in love with Spallanzani’s “daughter”, not realizing that she is a mechanical doll.

            The controversy involves Acts II and III, and what order they are in. Either order makes sense on an artistic and emotional level. In some versions, Hoffmann’s infatuation with the courtesan Giulietta is put in Act II, and then in Act III he finally finds true love with Antonia.

            However, most stagings, including this one, have the still-young Hoffmann romance with Antonia, rebounding from the doll, as Act II, and then, after losing Antonia too, an older, bitter, jaded Hoffmann in Venice for Act III.

            This is just one example of the confusion. Another is that the crowd-pleasing sextet which ends the Venice Act is OMITTED from the Integral version, because it is not considered to be authentic Offenbach music. I personally don’t like this omission, because the sextet actually provides a lot of exposition and drama. Plus, in general, I don’t like how they stage the ending of this Act in the “integral” version. My preferred staging for that bit is like in this clip, an older version starring Placido Domingo, which includes the sextet:

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. – I don’t know how familiar you are with classical opera.

              One thing that sometimes freaks out newbies is that there is usually a “boy” role who is actually sung by a girl (a mezzo-soprano) dressed in pants. This is just traditional, and has to be accepted without question, even when the mezzo has romantic kissy scenes with the coloratura soprano. In this particular opera, the “pants role” is Hoffmann’s companion, Niklaus. You have to suspend disbelief and imagine that this is a boy, not a girl dressed like a boy. But to add to the confusion (in Shakespearean fashion), Niklaus himself is actually a girl underneath: he is Hoffmann’s Muse in disguise!

              The philosophy behind this, which stems all the way back to Italian opera of the baroque era is that voices are used to categorize types of people and their developmental age:

              A small boy is a soprano, and can be sung by an actual boy.
              An older boy (youth) is a mezzo-soprano, and has to be sung by a woman, although in older times it could have been a castrato..
              A young virile man is a tenor.
              A woman of any age is either a soprano or mezzo-soprano.
              An older more distinguished man is a baritone.
              An elderly old man is a bass or even (if he is unfortunate) a “basso buffo”, or “comic bass”, which is usually (in the Italian tradition) an old annoying man who has designs on the young heroine.

            • bolasete says:

              Thanks for the response (and for that I will here (only) skip my usual e.e. cummings remembrance and use capitals). I watched/listened and thank you. It’s good. Since Natalie Dessay has retired I’ve been looking for a new hot babe with pipes to follow and have decided that Elina G. is the ticket. I had never heard of her though I am familiar with Natrebko. After listening I searched and have even whisked my funds to B&N for CDs and DVDs, though there are no recordings of her doing Offyerback. Silly of me but I had hoped that perhaps there might be a full recording or DVD of what was obviously a rehearsal. Mulling what seems to me is the increasing likelihood of Armageddon (to quote the beginning of a WW II poem by one of my favorite poets, Kenneth Patchen: “I don’t want to startle you but they are going to kill most of us.”). It seems silly to save for a “rainy day” since when it comes the rain may be fatal. I’ll listen a few more times to the new clip you linked and mull that decision as well.

              • yalensis says:

                Dear bolasete:

                I share your infatuation with Elīna Garanča, but unfortunately I don’t believe that she ever did performance of “Hoffmann”. If she had, as a mezzo-soprano she would have sung the role of Niklaus.

                However, another hot babe that you might like is this American starKate Lindsey. Kate is also a mezzo, and I don’t know what it is about mezzos that make them super-hot! I was lucky enough to see Kate perform live at the Metropolitan Opera last season, in the role of — you guessed it — Niklaus, in their (competent but flawed) staging of “Tales of Hoffmann”. Here is a clip from that performance, in which she sings the famous “violin aria”:

                I adore Kate, I think she makes the perfect Niklaus, with her lean and androgynous physique. I like the fact that she didn’t cut her hair or tie it up for the role. She simply dons a jacket, and she is a boy!

                And she has a powerful voice, as you can see.
                The one thing I didn’t like about this particular staging, is that the violin just comes out of nowhere. The violin is an important prop in this Act and needs to be exposited better.

                In the “Integral” version they did a much better job exposition, why there is a violin in Antonia’s house. Antonia’s father has chided her that she must quit her singing career. As a substitute he offers her a violin, which she should learn to play. This explains why the violin is lying around the house. When sneaking into the house, Niklaus spots the violin and sings his/her famous aria about the instrument. Later, the violin comes into play again when Doctor Miracle seizes it and begins sawing away, while summoning up the ghost of Antonia’s mother. In the famous trio sung by Doctor Miracle, Antonia, and the ghost, the music is very exciting, with the violin strings going crazy in the orchestra:

  28. marknesop says:

    The west persists with its capering and grinning, convinced that it is stirring up a shitstorm in Macedonia and that this has Putin very worried. Get the net, for God’s sake. They are apparently incapable of reading; although on reflection, their knowledge of geography is so abysmal that perhaps there is a prevailing belief in the west that Macedonia is part of Turkey, or stands between Turkey and the Black Sea.

    From an interview Alexei Miller gave to Russia 24 in December of last year, select quotes:

    “[Bulgaria] will bear significant losses due to the South Stream cancellation. Approx. €3bn will not be invested in Bulgaria. More than 6.000 jobs will not be created. Moreover, Bulgaria will lose its status of a transit country. For the time being, Bulgaria transits 18bcm of gas to Turkey, Macedonia and Greece. Once the new pipeline is built, these gas volumes will go via Turkey.”

    Once the new pipeline becomes operational, the role of Ukraine as a transit country will be reduced to zero. We will of course continue providing Ukraine with the volumes it needs for the domestic consumption, but gas deliveries to Europe will go through the alternative routes.Gas will not pass through Ukraine or Bulgaria, but will be delivered to the EU from another side. Once the pipeline reaches the EU, European consumers can pick up gas at the Turkey-Greece border. In this case, the Third Energy Package norms will not be applied to these deliveries.”

    In principle, the decision to abandon South Stream is the beginning of the end of Gazprom’s model when the company focused on direct gas deliveries to the end consumer in the European market. If the consumer doesn’t want the goods to be delivered to his home directly, then he has to get dressed and go to the shop. In our case, the shop is the delivery point, which will be on the Turkish-Greek border.”

    What part of “pick up gas at the Turkish-Greek border” is not sinking in? Stir up all the shit in Macedonia you like; all it will accomplish is making it difficult for Europe to run pipeline infrastructure itself. And if Brussels thinks it is going to be able to get enough gas, come winter of 2018 or so, from Azerbaijan via the unicorn-patrolled Southern Gas Corridor to supply Europe’s needs, it is even more inbred and simple than I thought.

    • kirill says:

      This intrigue underscores how detached from reality are both the Washington and Brussels elites. They actually believe they can coerce Russia with these bloody games. The important thing is for Gazprom to keep sending the same signal until the pipeline is finished at the end of 2016. Let NATO play its retarded game. It will be clear to everyone who is responsible for any gas supply crisis in Europe. They will not be able to scream “Russia cut off the flow”.

    • “What part of “pick up gas at the Turkish-Greek border” is not sinking in? Stir up all the shit in Macedonia you like; all it will accomplish is making it difficult for Europe to run pipeline infrastructure itself”
      No pipeline in Macedonia, no Russian gas to Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Austria.

      But how about building an undersea pipeline from Greece to Italy? It would solve the problem of unstable and easily destabilized Balkan countries.

      • kirill says:

        Those days of pleasing EU-tards are over. The EU can, as Miller said, put on its coat and go to the shop to get some Russian gas. The Russian gas will not be delivered for the convenience of the EU. The EU elites, spoiled by decades of cheap, reliable Russian gas, have developed a similar aggressive welfare bum mentality to the Ukrs. They hate Russia. So Russia should tell them to eat cake.

      • marknesop says:

        It would, but once again, gas that came ashore in Italy – an EU country – would be subject to Brussels’ vaunted Third Energy Package, and they would want to control the pipeline and let other energy companies use it. That probably would not be practical, as one end of it would be connected to Turkish Stream, and it is unrealistic to imagine other European-allied companies would be pumping gas into Turkish Stream, but Brussels would fuck it up like they do everything they touch and it would be a big bitch session while they tried to throw up roadblocks until Russia said “Okay, it’s your pipeline – you’re the boss”. If that’s what they want – and it is – then there’s no reason Russia should build it for them. It’s a good solution, but Europe should be responsible for building it.

        But Kirill is probably right – they will fart about with their navel-gazing regime-change projects and other make-work projects to justify the bloated governing mechanism in Brussels (especially since all the real decision-making is done in Washington and Brussels just reports for orders) until a couple of months away from winter 2017 or 18 or whenever Ukraine is disconnected from Russian gas, and then scream that Russia is coercing them and using energy as a weapon.

        • et Al says:

          TAP has had its exemptoin from the Third Energy Package extended. Crikey Mark, don’t you read your own blog? 😉

          Once more with feeling:

          euractiv: TAP pipeline secures exemption from Third Energy Package
          http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/tap-pipeline-secures-exemption-third-energy-package-314227

          The Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP), representing the European section of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) which will bring gas from Azerbaijan, has obtained an extension of the validity period of the project’s exemption from third party access to its pipe….

          …However, according to the Commission, TAP is a commercial initiative, not incorporated or imposed by any of the countries through which the project runs. Shareholders invest in such a project only if they are assured that potential risks have been cover to a maximum degree. Granting an exemption from EU rules shields private investors from certain risks, and renders such a project feasible, which would not be the case without exemption.

          In 2013, TAP secured an exemption from certain provisions of the EU Gas Directive [2009/73/EC], including a third party access exemption for the initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters annually (bcm/y) for gas volumes from Azerbaijan supplied under the relevant Shah Deniz gas sales agreements over a period of 25 years.

          Read: TAP pipeline open to other shareholders, including Iran
          http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/tap-pipeline-open-other-shareholders-including-iran-313641

          The exemption secured in 2013 provided that it would lose its effect in the event that the construction of the pipeline has not started by 16 May, 2016, and that it is not put in operation no later than 1 January, 2019.

          Two-year delay

          However, the Shah Deniz consortium which will pump the gas offshore the Caspian Sea has notified TAP of a new time window for the operation date, namely from 1 January to 31 December, 2020.

          Consequently, the new Commission decision reads that the exemption would lose its effect if the construction of TAP hasn’t stared by 16 May, 2016, and in the event that the infrastructure has not become operational by 31 December, 2020. This in effect postpones the date when the pipeline would become operational by two years.

          Tesla pipeline

          The decision obviously means that Russia’s Gazprom, which plans to bring gas to the Greek border via the Turkish Stream pipeline, won’t be able to use the TAP pipeline. But Gazprom plans another pipeline, named Tesla, across Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, ending in the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria…
          ####

          So, gas from eeevil I-ranians, OK! Gas from freedom loving Azerbaidjan, OK! Neither of those have been know to play politics with energy, like ever!

          What more proof do you need that the Kommissioners in Brussels are a bunch of hypocritical, two faced wankers – and of course the European Council who are the hidden hand shoved roughly up their backsides…

          Da Rulz da rulz ‘cept wen da Possé say dey no’! ‘ait?

          • marknesop says:

            But TAP will not carry Russian gas. If it did, Brussels would want to control it. They are perfectly happy with a monopoly by a European gas company, because Brussels can wreck the company and re-staff it with compliant gnomes if it does not get its way. Brussels wants to control the source, the pipeline and the company which uses it. Lots of opportunities for lolly, graft, skimming, whatever you want to call it, that way, and Brussels can be in charge of handing out the contracts. What’s the use of being the government if you are held hostage by a bunch of vodka-swilling, bear-kissing savages?

            They might let Russia use TAP, if it humbled itself and asked nicely, but then any gas Russia put into the pipeline would be controlled by Brussels, and whenever their nose was out of joint they would find a way to shut it down – Russia would be under no illusions as to who was in charge. That’s precisely the arrangement Russia is trying to get away from – so that Russia delivers up to the point where it owns everything, and when it passes that point and is in EU territory, everything therefrom is the EU’s problem. When EU customers can’t get enough gas, they know exactly whose fault it is.

            I doubt Russia will build TESLA, because if it does the EU will want to control it. TESLA is directly at odds with Miller’s no-more-door-to-door-delivery policy.

            • et Al says:

              They might let Russia use TAP, if it humbled itself and asked nicely,..
              ##

              As far as I can see and from what I have read so far, all pipelines within Europe will be interconnected, regardless of transit agreements or energy packages. Russia doesn’t care once it is in as you have already pointed out.

              It is in Brussels interest to to have Turkstream have access to TAP. It’s also an easy square to circle because it is about control of the pipeline (not a problem), control of the energy going though it (not a problem) and control of the sources of energy going through it (not a problem) – as it does not pose a dominance or competition problem. They don’t even need to make any changes to their current rules.

              You know, I know, everyone knows that what the Commission says today is subject to terms and conditions and may be changed for a like product if the original is discontinued or a product of equal value. Innit?

              The only people the Commission will be screwing is a lot of the Balkans and how dumb would that be? That is at minimum terrible PR and is highly unlikely to endear Brussels any more than it is at the moment. I guess Brussels is counting on Nord Stream, but what if something happens to that for some reason? No one in Brussels will be held accountable for not planning in advance because they are almost never held accountable for their epic failings (save the Santer Commission).

              I don’t see TESLA as contradictory. If Russia provides a lionshare of the funding, they they are entirely within their legal rights to have a clawback timeframe and a straight forward commercial contract. The Comission can take it directly to the European Court of Justice but neither Macedonia, nor Serbia are in the EU and the TEP “.. is a legislative package for an internal gas and electricity market in the European Union”.

              I don’t see either Macedonia or Serbia joining before TESLA is built. If someone pays for something, the Commission cannot simply walk in and say that the payee cannot be paid – it’s illegal and almost certainly against WTO rules, not to mention other stuff probably.

              • marknesop says:

                Gazprom was going to pay for 100% of South Stream, plus transit fees. But Brussels said under the terms of the Third Energy Package, having built the pipeline entirely with company and Russian government funding, they would have to open up the pipeline to other gas vendors who would have the same ownership rights. Therefore Gazprom might be capable of sending 60 BCm of gas through the pipe, but only be able to send – and get paid for – 18 BCm. And you can be sure those inbred cousins in Brussels would find a host of reasons to limit Russia’s flow through its own pipeline and favour other vendors because…well, because they’re Russia. And Brussels is all about diversity of supply.

                I think Russia is going about it exactly the right way – deliver to the border, and if the EU does not have a pipeline ready to mate up and take gas, tough tit. Shortages will be entirely their own fault.

                • kat kan says:

                  Who needs pipes?
                  Pump it into giant balloons. Float them to the cities. Maybe towed by helicopters. Tether them to towers, run down a flexible hose, plug into the city main gas lines.

                  Hindenburg Stream.

                • et Al says:

                  I agree entirely.

                  As with South Stream, the Commission would certainly have lost a case against Russia at the European Court of Justice where the Commission’s ability to reinterpret their own rules when necessary would have been found quite short of exacting legal standards, but that is besides the point. The cases would have gone on for years and had the exact same effect. It goes to show how dumb the Commission strategy was that they could force Gazprom to negotiate. Why on earth would you do all that if you can just cancel? Unless that was the Commission’s private plan all along, which is possible.

                  If there is a problem with TESLA, it is that it will be uni-directional (as far as I have heard), but if Brussels will neither (openly) support ,nor provide any funding for it, then it cannot dictate that it should have reverse flow capability (which is what they would logi ally want) where it crosses non-member states Serbia & Macedonia, not to mention other spurs.

                  Brussels wanted Russia to faire la pipe a la Bruxelloise, Россия replied Иди на хуй!

                • marknesop says:

                  Speaking of that, I spotted this Carribean spice yesterday in the grocery store, and picked one up for a co-worker as a joke. The light glare off the label makes it hard to read, but yes, it does say “Cock Flavoured Seasoning”.

                • yalensis says:

                  Sounds like a crazy idea, but it might just work!

  29. yalensis says:

    Just for the historical record, here was the first Eurovision song contest, held in the town of Warhtburg, Germany, in the year 1243. [I just made up that date.]

    This first song contest actually had a theme, which was to compose a song praising the beauty and chaste virginity of the noble lady Elisabeth von Warthburg. The winner was to get her hand in marriage. Not her whole body, just her hand.

    SPOILER ALERT:
    The competition was won by the noble bard Wolfram von Eschenbach, despite the fact that he was a baritone, here was his winning song, called “Song of the Evening Star”:

    Coming in last was the not-so-noble bard Tannhäuser, a so-called “heroic tenor”, although most of his heroics seem to consist in his conquests of the boidoir type.

    The judges disquality “Tannie”, as his friends call him, not only for his poor choice of song material (in which he declares his intention to throw Elisabeth down onto the bed and do many nasty things to her), but also getting in a fight with Wolfram, and overall poor sportsmanship, here is his losing song entry.
    P.S. the Kiev Rus judges voted for their own contestant, the bard “Boyan”, but he didn’t receive any other votes, because the other countries never want Russia to win.

  30. Jen says:

    BTW folks, I’m going to be busy this week and all of June working with a community arts and media organisation in inner Sydney so I may not be commenting much at all until about 4 July. I’ll be back at my usual place of work then. I’ll still try to read the blog whenever I can (weekends mostly).

  31. et Al says:

    Flight Global: Buglaria Air hit by Russian crisis

    Bulgaria Air has posponed its fleet-renewal programe in response to a downturn in the Russian market…

    …Yanko Georgiev says this is now on hold because Russian traffic – which makes up 50% of its total charter operation – is set to fall by 25-30% in 2015….

    …300,000 chartered passengers including 150,000 on Russian routes, chiefly to Moscow, St Petersberg and Kazan…
    ####

    For some reason Gogol’s ‘The Nose’ springs to mind… Quite suitable!

    • et AL says:

      I’m might just as well shoot myself. I clearly have an incurable disease. BTW, does anyone know where I can pick up the IT equivalent of an disabled parking card? Now on reflection, I’ll take the blue IT disabled card instead…

      P.S. Mark, please don’t clean up my tags here. Leave them as a warning to others…

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    В столице Российской Федерации в честь Дня украинской вышиванки представители диаспоры провели небольшой парад.

    Today 24 May, 2015, in the capital of the Russian Federation representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora held a small parade in honour of traditional Ukrainian embroidery

    That’s the Arbat, above.

    Activist Valery Semenenko said: “In honour of the Day of Ukrainian Embroidery we made a little promenade in Ukrainian national costume along the Arbat, and there were not only shirts to be seen in our beautiful, colourful parade, but women’s dresses. We went from the Prague [restaurant] to Smolenskaya Square. Permission to do this was not requested because we acted as a flash mob having no political message”.

    According to him, the vast majority of passers-by treated the march in a positive manner and looking on with great pleasure and taking photographs were foreigners, of whom there are usually many on the Arbat.

    “The purpose of the march was to inspire kindness, humanity and tolerance amongst people and to remind them that life should bring joy, not pain and sorrow as is happening now”, said Semenenko.

    After the action the participants agreed to collect the photographs of the flash mob and to distribute them in honour of Ukrainian embroidery.

    Now what do you think would happen if there were held along the Khreshchatyk, Kiev, a small parade of the Moskal diaspora in celebration of something traditionally Russian – the Russian language, for example?

  33. Tim Owen says:

    A recent survey in two Luhansk oblast cities has found virtually no support for independence of the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics’ [‘LNR’, ‘DPR’, respectively], or for joining Russia. A majority view Russia as a party to the military conflict and want the Ukrainian military to remain in their city.”

    Hmmm.

    “The latest survey was carried out in Severodonetsk and Starobilsk from March to April by the authoritative Democratic Initiatives Foundation [DIF] and the Ukrainian Sociological Service, as well as by volunteers and civic activists. It followed a similar survey in the two Donetsk oblast cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk reported here.”

    Certainly seems legit. And what is this DIF?

    http://dif.org.ua/en/pro-nas/about_dif.htm

    “Nowadays, DIF belongs to leading Ukrainian think tanks and focuses its activities on developing reasonable recommendations in the sphere of democratic transformations and Ukraine’s European integration for decision makers and civil society representatives.”

    Anyone familiar with this organization?

    • kirill says:

      They were conducting the poll under Kiev regime shelling?

    • marknesop says:

      The Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF) is an analytical and enlightening organization which aims at building Ukrainian state, democracy, and market economy and enhancing full integration of Ukraine into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.

      It’s not hard to imagine them being a bit biased in favour of finding massive support for the Ukrainian Army and in Ukraine moving along with its join-Europe agenda. And it might even be believable if things looked to be moving in that direction and Ukrainians were starting to notice positive changes which made European association attractive. Instead, the value of their money has been halved while their utility costs have doubled, and the country has to rely on the kindness of strangers to keep from collapsing, while collapse is never more than a heartbeat away. Meanwhile, the recent Eastern Partnership Summit made it clear EU membership for Ukraine is not in the cards and is perhaps further away than it ever was thanks to its open and zealous Naziism, not to mention its failed but determinedly-pursued military campaign against its eastern citizens.

      Mmm hmmm….just as I thought – DIF brags of having conducted the exit poll that kicked off the Orange Revolution. It is right down the line for European integration, and funded by the usual suspects: NED, Soros’s Open Democracy, NATO, the European Parliament and so on.

    • et Al says:

      Class A BS. Should be banned to protect miners!

      The Ukrainian scatalogical service? It’s hard not to miss it. Like a famer’s slurry spreader, it’s pungent effects go far and wide.

    • kat kan says:

      Yeah. Tell a survey organisation that you favour independence…. and along comes someone to take you to SBU because you are breaking the law by saying that. So sure, obviously the survey results must be accurate.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, remember the guy a few days ago teaching history to the reporter on the issue of Victory Day and who had supported the Nazis? And how she kept pressing him for his full name?

        • Tim Owen says:

          Yeah that was a memorable moment. Where did all these black-hearted youngsters come from? It’s frankly horrifying. And yes, I have been paying attention… But I fear the implications of what I’ve been seeing is only slowly dawning on me.

      • Tim Owen says:

        If it’s not clear I was being facetious. Perhaps in bad taste.

        I love the fact that PASOS actually features NATO and NED logos / links on their homepage.

        Have european democracies always been utterly shot-through with this establishment funded astro-turf civil society BS?

        Has anyone read this book?

        http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n19/edward-said/hey-mister-you-want-dirty-book

        • marknesop says:

          I haven’t. Looks interesting, though.

        • james says:

          the letters on the bottom of the review are especially enjoyable to read, lol..

          • yalensis says:

            The review and the letters are from a few years back, but still worth reading.
            The book and research confirm what many of us have suspected over the years. Namely, that the CIA sponsored the “modern art” and “abstract art” movement.
            It makes sense. When the powers-that-be want to turn people into Orwellian cattle, the first thing they have to do is fuck with peoples brains and make them doubt reality itself.

            This is why Marxists always stress the importance of staying grounded in material reality. Lenin wrote several books on the philosophy of Materialism, which basically states that reality is real. Along with this radical concept, representational art help people understand reality and beauty. Whereas most modern (=abstract) art is simply self-indulgent crapola.

            • yalensis says:

              And P.S.
              It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if I came to learn, that the “modern dance” movement came out of the same CIA laboratory as “modern art”.
              “Modern dance” was created as an alternative to classic ballet.
              Why try to destroy classical ballet?
              Why, because Russians are good at it, that’s why! It’s always been a source of prestige to Russia and to the Soviet republics.

              Not to mention, that “modern dance” is just another way of fucking with people’s minds.
              It allows people to believe that the laws of reality have been dispensed with, and that any tom-dick or harry can become a dancer, without having to start at the age of three and practice 5 or 6 hours a day, to get good.

              This is what so-called “modern dance” consists of:
              They have the dancers take off the ballet slippers, go barefoot, flex their toes, and writhe around on the floor, simulating copulation. If that doesn’t just spell out “CIA influence”, then I don’t know what does.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Same with “crossover artistes”, namely crooners who usually shriek down a mic and who feel they have the ability to cross over into classical singing with minimal training, ‘cos they got the voice, innit?

                (As a matter of fact, the term “singer” in English used only to refer to someone with a classically trained singing voice: the rest were “crooners”.)

                In this respect I particularly have in mind Katherine Jenkins (puts on tin helmet in anticipation of Colliemum’s Welsh wrath!)

                Jenkins has become rich and famous as a result of embarking on career as a crossover artist. As a performer of middle-of-the-road ballads and pop songs (often translated into Italian for added gravitas) delivered in an innocuous pseudo-classical voice, she is inoffensive and even preferable to many who ply their trade in this section of the market. It is in allowing herself to be promoted as an opera singer that she has earned the scorn of those who care deeply about that particular art form.

                Opera singers are unique among those who have made their careers in the performing arts. They study for many years in pursuit of developing voices that are beautiful, resonant and seamless across a range that can be more than twice that of any other type of singer in Western music. They learn how to use their instruments to convey, in at least four different languages, every possible emotion that a human being can feel. And the miraculous thing is that, without the aid of any electronic amplification, they do all of this over the top of a large orchestra in spaces big enough to hold thousands of people. As if that were not sufficiently remarkable, they also create fully-rounded and widely varying characters during evenings that last for several hours, often whilst wearing uncomfortable costumes and negotiating their way around awkward sets.

                Throughout all of this they have to retain the beauty of their voices and the integrity of their techniques. Katherine Jenkins delivers bland, undifferentiated performances of popular tunes from well-known operas. She does this with the aid of a microphone and huge dollops of reverb to mask the flaws in her technique and to smooth out the unevenness in her voice.

                Have a listen to this performance of Jenkins singing “Una voce poco fa” from The Barber of Seville. Not all of it though. God, no. That would be an unnecessarily masochistic action on your part: the final minute and a half will suffice. This is a ferociously difficult piece that shows off the technique of a good singer, and shows up that of a bad one. It is immediately obvious which category she falls into, as the demands of the aria elicit from her the response of a deer in the headlights. The rapid runs are beyond her, with notes being either smudged together until they are indistinguishable from one another or omitted entirely; she repeatedly loses her support and vocal placement; and the two terrified screams at the end that pass for high Bs are less at home in the theatre than they would be on a labour ward.

                (ANORAK ALERT. For those who like to get into technicalities, it sounds as though Jenkins’ problems stem from the manufactured, plummy tone she employs in an attempt to sound more “operatic”. This adds so much artificial weight to the voice that it precludes the possibility of it acquiring either agility or ease at the top of its range)

                It is utterly mystifying that she would wilfully undertake something for public consumption that she must know is well beyond her reach. Especially when there are so many pop ballads waiting to be translated into Italian, which she could manage without traumatising any members of the audience whose critical faculties have not been turned to mush by her siren beauty.

                Ah, her beauty, there’s the rub. Where else can you hear this sort of material sung by a pretty, slim, young blonde?

                Well, how about here for a start?

                Elīna Garanča’s (yes, it is she who sings with Netrebko in the duets posted above) version of the same aria has everything and more that is missing in Jenkins’ car crash. I would listen to the whole performance this time if I were you, not just the final ninety seconds.

                To be fair to Jenkins, she has made a point of saying that she refers to herself as a classical singer, given that she has never performed an entire opera. And that’s about all the slack she deserves to be cut, because the technical requirements for a classical singer are pretty much the same as those for an opera singer. The main difference is that the former gets to avoid being ordered to do undignified things on stage by power-crazy directors who believe they have more insight into The Marriage of Figaro than Mozart…

                Whatever semantic games she chooses to play with her job title, it is pretty clear that Jenkins wants to be thought of as someone who can hold her own with the big boys. A few years ago she was resolute in her determination to perform an opera in its entirety, but not for a couple of years because, and I paraphrase, “you can’t sing full operas until you are thirty”. Somebody really should pass on this nugget of wisdom to the many excellent singers in their twenties who – at the start of their careers and full of promise – are already delivering full performances with small companies.

                Anyway, now that the magic age at which all things suddenly become possible is is in her rearview mirror, Jenkins is still saying, as recently as her appearance last November on Something For The Weekend, that her voice won’t be ready for another one or two years. It is hard to tell whether she really believes this. It is, however, painfully clear that no opera house with an international reputation is going to think for a millisecond about casting her in anything. Ever. In the unlikely event that she were prepared, in the interests of becoming the genuine article, to lower her sights and start at the bottom of the ladder, not even the smallest provincial company would be likely to take a punt on her… The only possible scenario is that she will turn up at some point in an arena-based spectacular, complete with head-mikes and an unknown supporting cast that changes every other night. If that is the extent of her ambition, then fair enough, but let’s recognise it for what it is. Operatic credibility is never to be hers it seems. At least Jenkins’ brutal self-awareness affords her some insight into why she is thwarted:

                “I’ve always faced prejudice. I’m a working-class girl from Wales. I have blonde hair and wear pretty dresses. There are a lot of people in the classical music world who absolutely loathe me. The critics slate me because I’m not what they consider the real thing. People expect a classical singer to be big and fat with Wagnerian horns on her head. Sorry, that’s not me. It never was and I always knew my looks would be my advantage. I’m totally aware of how to market myself, totally aware of the effect of the way I look. And personally I’d rather see an attractive man playing Romeo than a big fat old man. Why can’t opera singers look good? I don’t get it.”

                So, nothing at all to do with lacking the required skills, then. In Kathworld, the reason she is not being hired is that she is too beautiful for the ugly business of professional opera. In spouting this nonsense, she deliberately and self-servingly perpetuates the stale stereotype of the risibly grotesque diva or divo who is devoid of any ability to act convincingly. Clearly she has never heard of Anna Netrebko, Danielle de Niese, Elina Garanca, Juan Diego Florez, Jonas Kaufmann, Dimitri Hvorostovsky, or any of a multitude of glamorous singers currently before the public, who possess vocal and dramatic gifts beyond her wildest imaginings.

                The final straw for most people, I suspect, was her appearance in two series of Popstar To Operastar: the reality TV show that does exactly what it says on the tin. I have seen Dali paintings that are less surreal than Jenkins’ assumption of the role of operatic guru to a grisly selection of washed-up pop singers trying their hand at a spot of Verdi. She might have gotten away with it, as most opera aficionados wouldn’t have bothered switching on had it not been for presence of a second mentor on the programme: Rolando Villazon, a genuine operatic superstar who has sung challenging roles in every major opera house around the world. This did not faze our Kath one jot. Adopting the stance of Villazon’s peer, she bulldozed her way though episode after episode, dispensing expert advice on a range of technical challenges that she is herself incapable of executing. The absolute nadir arrived when the show’s host, in discussion with the pair of them, directed a question at Jenkins that began with the words “As an expert on opera …”

                So, no, the scorn directed at Katherine Jenkins by opera professionals and opera lovers has nothing to do with obsession, envy or elitism. They just feel very, very insulted by a woman whose talent is as small as the chip on her shoulder is large, and who enriches herself by vandalising this most complex and demanding of the performing arts: one that, contrary to what she would like to believe, has its adherents in almost all sections of society. They are offended by the way she misrepresents opera and the people who work within it in order to shore up her own ego. They hate the way her amateurish attempts at the repertoire create, for those who know no better, a fourth-rate understanding of what opera actually is. They are outraged at the kick in the teeth that every ineptly-performed aria represents to singers who are infinitely more talented than she yet who will struggle financially for most of their working lives. They are saddened that society’s obsession with superficial celebrity permits such a triumph of style over substance.

                [Taken and adapted from a critique by Steve Silverman, who originally trained as an opera singer – the perfect preparation for a long career in IT and consultancy. He is a critic for Opera Britannia and blogs on opera and things that annoy him.]

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Oh, and I should add that as regards Silverman’s claim that opera “has its adherents in almost all sections of society”, I once worked with two men (now long since dead) who sang opera arias at work as well as many pieces of operetta: they were both coal miners.

                  And another thing, one of my distant relatives – a certain “Thomas Burke” (my mother’s maiden name was Burke) – was known as the Lancashire Caruso, also worked down the pit, before heading off for Milan to seek fame and fortune there at the La Scala opera house.

                  On Tommy Burke’s headstone is inscribed the following tribute:

                  ‘Never have I heard my music so beautifully sung’- Puccini.

                • Tim Owen says:

                  That Garanca clip was astonishing. Many thanks.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Florence Foster Jenkins (1868–November 26, 1944) was an American “soprano” who became famous for her complete lack of rhythm, pitch, tone, and overall singing.

                  She was so bad, folk used to pay to listen to her renditions.

                  Just a coincidence that she too was a Jenkins:

                  See: Florence Foster Jenkins

                  I still don’t really know whether she ever realized how bloody awful a singer she was or whether she was just having a good laugh at herself and everybody else during her performances.

              • marknesop says:

                It’s a good self-therapy for stress, though. When the pressure of the work week is getting to me, I frequently take off my socks, flex my toes and writhe around on the floor simulating copulation. I find the people who were stressing me out will stop talking, tiptoe quietly to the door and let themselves out.

                • yalensis says:

                  Hey, that’s wonderful, Mark.
                  Next step in the creative process is to find some friends and stack yourselves in pyramids.
                  (While still simulating copulation.)

  34. Tim Owen says:

    Yay! We’ve got company:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/return-of-the-chindits-mod-reveals-cunning-defence-plan-10014608.html

    Errrr…. but what will they, you know, actually say online?

    I suppose they’ll just peruse the headlines and be a “force multiplier” – cough.

    Mixing it up on forums too I suppose.

    No housewives available for the task?

    Gives a new meaning to “Phoney War” surely.

    My grandfather is spinning in the grave no doubt.

    • marknesop says:

      Yeah. Like ISIS is big in social media. You know who this is directed against. Curiously enough, it was only after several neocon hawks confessed the west is losing the information war to Russia that all these initiative began to power up, now the Social Media Rangers, and before that increased comment monitoring and cries to publish articles without a comment option. But they’re torn, because then they don’t know if anyone is really reading them or hoisting in the message – they need that “Great article! You really showed those Russian savages what-for, by Jove!”.

      But so long as they continue to confuse “shaping behaviors through use of dynamic narratives” with “winning hearts and minds” they will continue to build stables full of those who cannot think for themselves.

      • james says:

        they can have conversations with themselves essentially as they are all being funded indirectly by the same sources it would seem! leave me out of it as i get no funding from anything that traces back to the cia, fbi or etc. etc…

    • et Al says:

      …“Long-range penetration units” were sent to Burma to sabotage Japanese supply and communications lines…
      ####

      The imagination boggles! Oh, how I laughed!

      • Cortes says:

        Wingate was known for various eccentricities. For instance, he often wore an alarm clock around his wrist, which would go off at times, and had raw onions and garlic on a string around his neck, which he would occasionally bite into as a snack (the reason he used to give for this was to ward off mosquitoes). He often went about without clothing. In Palestine, recruits were used to having him come out of the shower to give them orders, wearing nothing but a shower cap, and continuing to scrub himself with a shower brush. Lord Moran, Winston Churchill’s personal physician, wrote in his diaries that “[Wingate] seemed to me hardly sane—in medical jargon a borderline case.”[57] Likewise, referring to Churchill’s meeting with Wingate in Quebec, Max Hastings wrote that, “Wingate proved a short-lived protegé: closer acquaintance caused Churchill to realise that he was too mad for high command.

        OK it is from Wikipedia, but the facts are basically fine. The first Chindit raid was a morale booster. The rest was a waste of brave soldiers, really, since the hard work was done by “Uncle Bill” Slim’s troops. Naming the new cyber warriors after the Chindits is puerile.

  35. Moscow Exile says:

    From the Russian blogosphere, pictures of the Evil One that I have never before seen:

    Truly the essence of malevolance – and he’s so small as well, which is a definite sign of megalomaniacal Bonapartism present in his black soul – that’s if he’s got one, of course.

    • et Al says:

      Fake! Photoshop! Everyone knows that Putin was the first test tube baby, secretly developed by the KGB at one of their closed cities and popped open and brought to maturity in the mid-1990s to save Russia from the oligarchs, i.e. Капитан Россия!

    • Tim Owen says:

      I think we’ve discovered Riley Wagaman’s real father!

      • marknesop says:

        Man of a thousand faces. In the photo of him as a youth, wearing a bomber jacket and a black cap, he actually does look a bit like Riley Waggaman, In the photo in profile, though, as a middle-aged man, carrying a portfolio under his arm, he looks like Rowan Atkinson in “Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie”.

  36. The NAF released Aidar Battalion fighter Serhiy Schehlov yesterday as a gesture of good will after 7 months of captivity. The release happened a day after the assassination of Alexei Mozgovoy. Schehlov is an ideological Nazi and a member of Nazi volunteer battalion.

    This seems to be a Russian way of doing things these days. When someone punches you, turn the other cheek.

    Russia also agreed to continue selling Kiev gas with discounted price. And the deliveries of goal and nuclear fuel continue as well.

    Russia hopes that Ukrainians will some day love them again if Russia acts nice. Russia thinks that the whole Ukraine can be retaken back and included to Russian world. And Russia’s method of doing this is conciliation, concessions and turning the other cheek.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      It’s the Christian way.

      It has worked before, too. How else could Chechnya have been pacified?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      So what would you do if you were the Russian government – what the USA wishes that Russia do?

      Russians are weak: the USA is strong!
      The Russians are losers: they cannot win – ever!

      Repeat!

      Russians are weak: the USA is strong!
      The Russians are losers: they cannot win – ever!

      Same old story: any perceived weakness by Russia, and good ol’ Karl pops up like a bad penny to remind everyone of this.

      • et Al says:

        The back of the bus goes “beep beep beep, beep beep beep, beep beep beep”, the back of the bus goes “beep beep beep” all day long!

    • marknesop says:

      I think you’re onto something, Karl. What we are seeing is the slow-motion surrender of Russia to Ukraine. Sometime next summer, Ukraine will shift its capital to Moscow.

  37. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, in Polish politics, looks to be like there will be new Prez , with Duda defeating Komorowski in the second round.

    Russian pundits are pessimistic, believing that relations between Russia and Poland will worsen even more than before (if such is possible) under a Duda presidency. Given that Duda is from the same political party as the highly Russophobic Kaczyński twins.

    • et Al says:

      I don’t think that really matters so much. From what I have read, the Boring Justice Party is quite euroskeptic and has lost what little faith it has with Brussels. In Spain, two new parties have emerged strongly during municipal elections. What this points to is a fracturing of the ‘Europe’ Brussels dreams of. Throw in the Conservatives in the UK pushing for reform, Labour agreeing to an in/out EU referendum in a year or so and real questions about what exactly is the current Europe for and who does it actually serve looks like it is seriously starting to gain traction.

      Brussels will have to start directing more of its own energies in to justifying themselves and any scandal will be amplified. That’s energy not being directed at Russia. The same for France & Germany who will also have to pay a lot more attention to protecting the European Scream.

      It’s certainly not all over, but a reckoning of accounts of some kind is on the board. I think it would have happened anyway considering the handling of the euro, European economy etc. but would have most likely of happened at the elite’s choosing, i.e. later in a period of relative political and economic calm.

      The down side is that vis external pressure such as the US, a further divided EU makes it weaker. It’s unlikely that member states can be picked off, but the potential is increased, not to mention the periphery who can see that the Emperor has no clothes, but for the Balkans they only have one policy – Brussels or bust. Not one candidate for the EU offers any kind of alternative to Brussels and the Euro. Democracy not in action!

      Patience seems to be finally wearing thin with Greece where it almost doesn’t matter what the outcome is, rather a choice is made and then everyone can move on from there. It’s all gettin’ funky this year!

    • cartman says:

      Poland is not a heavyweight in international politics. They ceded most of their influence to the US, which means that one should talk to Washington to discuss affairs that affect this region.

    • marknesop says:

      That was always a hopeless case anyway, unless the pretty blonde won – I know I am playing to a stereotype, but I can’t remember her name and don’t have time to look it up – and she was a long shot, to put it mildly.

  38. yalensis says:

    Example of good sportsmanship:
    President Putin congratulates Polina Gagarina on her second place finish at Eurovision. He assures her that he watched the competition (yeah, I’m sure he did) and considered her result to be outstanding.

    Example of bad sportsmanship:
    Gruzian contestant claims she was robbed of her rightful victory, because the contest organizers deliberately screwed up her smoke machine, causing her to cough during her performance.

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. – there is egregious translation error in first piece above.
      I only bother to correct translation errors when they change the whole meaning of the sentence, but this one qualifies:

      Polina did NOT say to Putin:
      “I am so proud of YOUR country. Russia, forward!” (which would have made her sound like a Navalnyite Fifth Columnist – ha ha!)

      Her actual quote was this:
      “Я так горжусь своей страной! Россия, вперёд!”
      Which should be translated as “I am so proud of MY country. Russia, forward!”

      Mistranslation probably caused by fact that some non-Russian speakers don’t know how to translate the pronoun “свой”, it doesn’t mean “his” or “her” or “your” necessarily; rather, it reflexs back to whoever is the subject of the sentence. In this case “I” is the subject of the sentence, so the pronoun translates as “my”.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yeah, if I say about another man “He loves his wife”, Russians would only know by context, if there is indeed any at hand, whether “his wife” means his own or another man’s spouse, namely “Он любит свою жену” or “Он любит его жену” respectively in Russian.

        • yalensis says:

          Actually, if you said in Russian Он любит его жену”, then Russians would cluck their tongues, because they would be pretty sure you were saying that the guy loves ANOTHER GUY’s wife. Otherwise, it would make no sense to use the pronoun его .

          It’s English, where the sentence “He loves his wife” is completely ambiguous, and you need to add a few more words to clarify what you mean.
          English is a language depleted of pronouns. But at least it’s not as bad as French.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            But that’s what I said above.

            And the only way, I reckon, you could make it clear to a listener when saying “He loves his wife” you mean “He loves another man’s wife ” would be to stress “his” with arched eyebrows or other body language clues, or to point at the man who is being cuckolded.

            Not necessary in Russian: “Он любит его жену” means just that: the object of his love is not his wife but another’s.

            Similarly, “He loves football more than her” is ambiguous. The ambiguity is lost if one says the complete sentence not using pronouns, i.e. “He loves football more than his wife loves football”. With limited ellipsis, there is no ambiguity: “He loves football more than his wife does”, but one’s statemenr becomes ambiguous when one drops “does”: “He loves football more than his wife” or “He loves football more than her”.

            No ambiguity if one says with ellipsis: “He loves football more than she”, but that’s talking “posh”. Yet that is what Russians say – and there is no ambiguity: “Он любит футбол больше, чем она” , which without ellipsis would be: “Он любит футбол больше, чем она любит футбол”.

            • marknesop says:

              There are lots of sentences – probably in all developed languages – which were never meant to stand on their own and which require context to determine their meaning. “He loves his wife” is one such. If you had just been talking about a torrid affair, the meaning would be clear, as it would also if you had been talking about a loyal and devoted husband with a stable and happy marriage. In isolation it could mean either.

              • yalensis says:

                Dear Mark:
                Sorry to be a dick here, but just speaking as a linguist (and looking up at that degree hanging on my wall, which proves that I am one, even though I am not a practicing one):

                There is no such thing as a “developed” language (as opposed to a non-developed language). All human languages around today (and as far back as we can know) are fully developed and equally complex. Each language has its own brilliant complexities, as well as its own lapses and deficiencies, in certain areas. One language might be good at expressing complex relationships, another at expressing modes of thought, etc. Like every language, English is really good at expressing some things, not so good at others. There is no such thing as a perfect language which can express all semantic nuances with complete efficiency.

                Further:
                What you learn in your very first of Linguistics 101 class is that the language of a food-gathering Hottentot tribesman is equally complex (and grammatically probably more so) than the language of an Englishman. This is NOT political correctness or cultural relativism, it is just an established fact, and one of the first paradoxes you learn when studying linguistics as a formal science. In fact, one learns that the grammatical complexity of a language is often in inverse proportion to the material level of culture. This is because materially more developed cultures are often the products of empires, where many languages had to meld together into a type of creole. English is one such language; one sign of the creolization of any language is that it tends to lose some grammatical complexity. For obvious reasons, if you think about it: How many peoples who were already adults and past their initial language-learning stage of brain development, had to learn, say, Latin as a second language, as the Roman Empire expanded. And were these people capable of learning 7 different case endings? Highly unlikely. Which is why the case endings get simplified and discarded. This is just one example.

                In conclusion:
                LInguistics is different from all other of the humanistic fields, where one can truly say that one people’s culture’s art or music IS in fact better and more developed than another; but it is definitely NOT the case with languages. An area in which all human beings truly are all equal.

                Now everybody link hands and sing “We are the world”.

            • yalensis says:

              No, actually, that is not what you said above. You said that “Russians would only know by context” what was meant.
              I think what you meant to say, is that the Russian sentence is grammatically explicit and requires no further context to determine these particular semantics. It is the English sentence which requires additional context and clarification.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I said “Russians would only know by context”, meaning the context of the English statement.

                In the utterance “he loves his wife”, it is unclear, out of context, whether “his wife” means the wife of the subject of the verb or another man’s wife, namely in Russian “Он любит свою жену” or “Он любит его жену” respectively.

                That “respectively” above means that in Russian “he loves his [own] wife” is “он любит свою жену”, whereas “his wife”, meaning another man’s wife, in “he loves his wife” is rendered in Russian as “он любит его жену”.

                When I wrote that a Russian would only know in the context of the English statement “He loves his wife” whether the possessive adjective “his” meant belonging to the the subject of the verb “love”, I meant that only the circumstances of the statement, perhaps foreknowledge or body language, would make it clear to a Russian speaker whether “his” meant in Russian “свою” or “его”, that’s all.

                For example, if I say to a Russian speaker: “Do you see him over there? Well he loves his wife” and, whilst saying “he loves his wife”, I point to another man, my Russian speaking interlocutor would perhaps think to himself: “Мне интересно, почему он любит его жену”. (I wonder why he loves his wife.)

                However, if I then continue my discourse by saying, “By the way, he loves his wife and knows nothing about the fact that he over there loves his wife”, and, on first mention of the 3rd person singular nominative male personal pronoun “he”, I point to the man whose wife is loved by another, and then point to other man when saying “he over there loves his wife”, the Russian would translate this into his own tongue thus: “Кстати, он любит свою жену, не зная ничего о том, что он вон любит его жену”.

                That’s what I meant when I said earlier that Russians would only know by context what was said in English, context meaning foreknowledge, nudges, winks, nods of the head, finger pointing stressed intonation etc,

  39. Fern says:

    Latest news from NATO or, to give it its full title, the Naturally Adoring Terrorist Organisations. Its former US Ambassador, General Hans-Lothar Domröse, has this to say about Russia:-

    ”In his interview with the German magazine Focus Online, Domröse called the Russian leader a tough-minded, forward-thinking politician who is capable of foreseeing the situation.

    The general, however, added that Putin is a “gambler”, which might be dangerous.

    Here’s what General Fern had to say about NATO ‘leadership’ – feeble-minded but tough-talking, cognitively-impaired, incapable of assessing and indifferent to the consequences of its actions but above all else addicted to gambling and risk-taking. And might NATO be dangerous? Answers on a post-card to the usual address.

    The real truth of General Domröse’s remarks lies in his comment that “Putin deserves credit for revitalizing alliance”. NATO’s ongoing terror is the lack of an Enemy so its leaders are very happy to have found an excuse to keep the money rolling into the right coffers.

    http://sputniknews.com/world/20150525/1022525654.html

  40. Fern says:

    Most people have been aware of the apparently over-night flare-up of problems in Macedonia which are almost certainly linked to Russia’s desire to run a pipeline across the country as part of its new Turkstream. It seems, however, that the US/EU/NATO has not finished with Serbia as there now appears to be serious efforts underway to do a Kosovo on the autonomous province of Vojvodina.

    “With the greatest discretion, the investment fund KKR bought out, in January 2015, the principal media and television stations in Serbia. KKR entrusted the direction of its think tank to General David Petraeus, the ex-director of the CIA.

    Already, Vojvodina is being referred to by Soros-financed media and NGOs as the «Hungarian Kosovo,» even though 66 percent of the population of the province is Serbian. With 25 ethnic groups, Vojvodina is one of the most ethnically-diverse regions in Europe. For the NATO war planners and Soros demographic engineers, Vojvodina represents a fertile ground for ethnic conflict and further «Balkanization» of the Balkans.

    The linked article is by Wayne Madsen who’s work can be a bit hit-and-miss but this piece is both interesting and, if there’s substance in what he’s saying, very important.

    http://www.voltairenet.org/article186778.html

    • et Al says:

      They’ve been trying to do that for years. It’s brought up each time they want to warn Belgrade to turn a blind eye to Albanian terrorism and leave them get on with it.

      Belgrade didn’t even have the balls to shut down the Youth Education Committee*, the NGO that invited Hasim Thaci to a conference in Belgrade – a nakedly political and governmental interfering act. Who needs enemies when Serbs are happy to a) fight among themselves (most of the time and also when in great danger; b) just lie down and be used like a zebra crossing. It’s depressing.

      * http://ooo.org.rs/en/donatori-sponzori-i-prijatelji/
      British Embassy Belgrade
      Norwegian Embassy
      United States Embassy
      The State Department
      The EU Commission
      EU Youth in Action program
      OSCE blah blah blah

      Departments: Human Rights / Democratization / Creative Action – New Society

      As I think others have pointed out, there are in fact quite a lot of Serbs (66%) of non-ethinc Hungarian origin living in Vojvodina, not that facts have ever stopped a cunning plan.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vojvodina#Demographics

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Nor are the Vojvodina Magyars particularly noted for secessionist fervour.

        The Yugoslav army air defence commander whose unit brought down an F-117 Nighthawk during the Kosovo war is one of them:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoltán_Dani

      • marknesop says:

        The really funny part is that so many nations believe – or a significant part of their population does – that these NGO’s are in the country to help them to become free, when in fact they are in the country to help them enslave themselves.

  41. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, in American news, patriots like Chuck Norris are warning about the new law whereby the Federal Government seeks to abrogate the “posse comitatus” rights of the states. [yalensis: well, that train left the station a long time ago, when the sheeple mutely accepted the whole “Homeland Security” farce!].

    Anyhow, with an ominous code name of “Jade Helm”, the war games stirred up too much controversy, so the Federal government apparently decided to rename it Operation Basket of Puppies.

    [yalensis: P.S. I think American “patriots” have always been fairly short-sighted. They obsess about guns, and think that owning a gun will preserve their freedom from the Federal government. I am not personally opposed to gun ownership, but I am skeptical that just owning a handgun or even a machine gun is going to help when the feds come at you with tanks and howitzers. IMHO the patriots should have concentrated less effort on gun ownership, and more effort on opposing the Homeland Security department and the whole political consolidation of the permanent war state. But that’s just me.]

    • cartman says:

      They banned Night Wolves a few weeks ago. See how they like it?

      • et Al says:

        That’s really annoying. It’s the only time they get off the sofa.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          He’s a big noise in the German-Ukrainian association and of Merkel’s party. So why had he come to Moscow for a meeting and with whom?

          Would he not have been better holding a meeting with his neo-Nazi pals in Kiev, or had he just flown over for a chin wag with those in Moscow who oppose Russian government policies, specifically with regard to those with the Ukraine, namely those people termed “the opposition” in the West but the non-systemic opposition here?

          • kirill says:

            Russia has let these clowns get used to engaging in sedition in its heartland as some sort of nonsensical tolerance policy towards its “partners”. This is clearly unacceptable and needs to be stopped ASAP. Any citizen of a foreign state who visits Russia to meet seditionists and 5th columnists is to be automatically denied a visa.

    • marknesop says:

      Thirdly, for the reform programme of the AMU to be successful within Ukraine, a broad coalition of Ukrainian actors including oligarchs (Wellmann and Bernard-Henri Lévy tend to refer to Firtash as head of Ukraine’s employer association) is essential.

      Might not tell you all you need to know, but it tells you a lot. Back in the recent giddy days (March of this year, to be precise) the Association for the Modernization of Ukraine – of which Wellman is a founding member, as is the pompous toad Bernard Henri-Levy – met in Vienna to spend other people’s money in a grand dream of Kiev-on-Thames. The Vienna Conferences (a grand dream needs a grand name) were underwritten by disgraced oligarch Dmytro Firtash. So I guess he probably moved up to “tycoon”, the acceptable term for oligarch.

      If you needed a nice little time capsule of how recently the west continued to dream that Russia was going to underwrite the rebuilding of Ukraine as a western protectorate, look no further: “Soros has been arguing for a two-pronged approach, with sanctions against Russia as a necessary evil balanced by large-scale financial assistance for Ukraine. Firtash, on the contrary, described sanctions and the supply of non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine as ‘stupid’. Instead, he said, Russian investors should contribute equally to the financial package…Matthias Platzeck, DRF’s chairman stated it was ‘honourable’ to help rebuild Ukraine, and ‘oligarchs must also contribute a fair share’. Firtash announced that 25 per cent of the Marshall Plan for Ukraine should be contributed by Russian investors; and thus the institutional link to the Eastern Committee and DRF appears warranted from this angle.

  42. spartacus says:

    I thought this little piece of news might be worthy of your collective attention…

    http://www.ibtimes.com/us-turkey-agree-provide-air-support-syrian-rebels-official-1936605?rel=latest1

    • marknesop says:

      Hopefully Putin will be able to talk Turkey out of that. You have to admire Washington’s determination – it simply will not be told that it is not allowed to superimpose its regime-change template on every conflict until it has brought every country on the planet into line with its wishes. This is exactly how they took Libya for the rebels, by flying fighter/bomber missions at the direction of the rebel forces, who never had it so good and who were losing abysmally before NATO’s entry. Now Washington has refined its methodology so that if a rebel movement does not exist domestically, it will import one from elsewhere. If that gets out of line it will create another set of rebels to fight them. And the international regulators, dominated by the Americans, look on benignly.

  43. Lyttenburgh says:

    Well, that’s not a sure sign of “epiphany” experienced by the Free and Independent ™ Western Media – but that’s a step in right direction:

    Neo-McCarthyism and the US Media – The crusade to ban Russia policy critics

    The article is very, very juicy on the current trends of Media propagated Russophobia. Just some bits and pieces from it:

    … a special report published last fall by the online magazine the Interpreter would have us believe that Russian “disinformation” ranks among the gravest threats to the West. The report, titled “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,” is a joint project of the Interpreter and the Institute for Modern Russia (IMR), a Manhattan-based think tank funded by the exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Cowritten by the journalists Michael Weiss and Peter Pomerantsev, this highly polemical manifesto makes the case for why the United States, and the West generally, must combat what the authors allege to be the Kremlin’s extravagantly designed propaganda campaign. If implemented, the measures they propose would stifle democratic debate in the Western media.

    […]

    Weiss, youthful yet professorial in manner, has become a nearly constant presence on cable news because of his supposed expertise on, among other things, Russia, Syria, and ISIS. A longtime neoconservative journalist, he began his rise to cable-news ubiquity as a protégé of the late Christopher Hitchens. After working with Hitchens, he made his way to the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a London-based bastion of neoconservatism that, according to a report in The Guardian, has “attracted controversy in recent years—with key staff criticised in the past for allegedly anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant comments.”

    …According to Hoare, Weiss reinvented himself at the HJS “as an expert on Russia — about which he has no more academic expertise than he does about the Middle East.” Weiss served as HJS communications director before moving on to found the Interpreter under the auspices of the US-based IMR in 2013. Solidifying his mainstream-media credentials, he will join the Daily Beast as a senior editor on June 1.

    […]

    …Pomerantsev exudes a kind of louche nonchalance. A British citizen of Russian extraction, this rumpled television producer has parlayed his career in the less-than-reputable districts of the Russian media landscape into a role as a kind of latter-day Cassandra, sounding a clarion call about the danger that Russian state propaganda poses to the West.

    An assiduous self-promoter, Pomerantsev chronicled his journey into the belly of the Russian media beast in a recent book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible. A launch party in early 2015 at the Legatum Institute, a London-based research organization with close links to the IMR, offered a glimpse of the esteem that Pomerantsev enjoys. At the event, the American director of the institute’s Transitions Forum, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, told the audience that she believes his book is “an extraordinary achievement.”

    And that’s only the beginning of this article! If it’s not the ultimate guide “Who’s who in the world of Western Russophobia”, then it’s getting pretty close.

  44. kirill says:

    The above video is shocking. Whatever these “suspects” did should not result in some trigger happy fuckup “cop” shooting because he is afraid. He could have taken their car keys and told them to stay put and waited for backup and then shot if they tried to run.

    After listening to all the western media BS about Russia, I say look at yourself you sick freaks.

  45. Tim Owen says:

    Yeah that is a great piece.

    There are a couple of vulnerabilities these people have to my mind.

    One is their reliance on really shaky notions like the “weaponisation” of this or that or employing “hybrid” war tactics. At best these are linguistic “shiny objects” that appear to make those in the target audience that repeat them feel smart as far as I can tell. (And don’t we all like to feel smart after all?)

    Their reliance on these tropes is frankly embarrassing to watch. (And yes, I’ve sat through that Legatum talk. It is almost entirely content-less.)

    The apotheosis of this is “weaponised relativism.” The source of this non-idea is here:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/02/guardian-view-russian-propaganda-truth-out-there

    I’m not sure how one would “weaponize relativism” but I’ve got some theories about how one could go about “monetizing ignorance” if, say, you are a journalist like Pomerantsev with skin deep knowledge of Russia but lots of neo-con connections and no conscience: become an opinion whore.

    Which brings me to my second suggested vulnerability: being paid “off.”

    I take it as axiomatic in – using the tried and true plain-language option, propaganda – that rule number one is you accuse your enemies of the crimes you plan to commit yourself. As I’ve been accused countless times of being on the take, I suspect that it’s the careerism – i.e. their personal gain – that is foremost in the consciousness of people that are propagating lies about the Ukrainian crisis. Journalists such as Pomerantsev would be exhibit A. As would Applebaum and her hard to explain recent windfalls as reported by Helmer. But the Moby Dick of the type is surely Timothy Snyder. I admit his willingness to throw his reputation on the pyre of western Ukrainian ultra-nationalism is hard to explain in terms of the “what’s in it for me” line of reasoning that I’m sure must occupy a scribbler above a certain age. And that’s ignoring the fact that he’s known for his supposed dismay at the the past centuries bloodbath in the “blood lands.”

    Maybe he’s their Speer?

  46. Warren says:

    Published on 25 May 2015
    Follow us on Twitter where we’ll announce this week’s topic for On The Line: https://twitter.com/vicenews

    VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky (https://twitter.com/simonostrovsky) joined On The Line to discuss the latest news from Russia and Ukraine.

    Watch Episodes of “Russian Roulette” – http://bit.ly/1AhdzjT

    Watch “Troops and Tanks in Moscow: Russia’s Victory Day” – http://bit.ly/1FafPbJ

    VICE News and On The Line want to hear from you! Let us know your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #ontheline, or send us a video message on Skype.

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    • yalensis says:

      Did they screen the questions?
      Seems like all the questions were soft balls so that Ostrovsky could rant against Russia to his heart’s content.
      What a prick that guy is!

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        That he is. Were it not for Graham Philips, Ostrovsky might have spent the war chained to a radiator or eternity at the bottom of a slurry pond. Ostrovsky has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to repay Philips.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      1) When Simon blurped his bit about “Buryatian tanks” being instrumental in Debaltsevo’s capture I fell off my chair laughing.

      2) Mr. Ostrovskiy revelation-spree is just amazing. One has to wonder though, why nothing of what he is claiming as true facts ever appeared in his video-dispatches.

      3) Wow! “It’s can be pretty risky to critisize the Ukrainian government”. The world must be ending if Ostrovkiy is admitting that! What made him realise that, I wonder?

      4) Nah, cancel impending Armageddon! Simon dodges the question about the quality of Western “coverage” of the Ukrainian Conflict by basically saying “Freedum of Speach Stronk!”, while “hinting” that Ukrainian media can be “idealogically motivated”. And not a word that more often then not “Western coverage” consists of arcane art of using “copy+paste” command from the official Ukrainian outlets.

      5) “Why separatist view Western journos with suspicion?” Have it ever occured to you Siman, that because an awful lot of them are lying pieces of shit?

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