It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away.

Uncle Volodya says, "You will never gain anyone's approval by begging for it. When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows."

Uncle Volodya says, “You will never gain anyone’s approval by begging for it. When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows.”

Out of the blue
and into the black
You pay for this,
but they give you that
And once you’re gone,
you can’t come back…

Neil Young, from “Into The Black

The final stage of a star, going into stellar death, is the supernova – the core ceases producing energy, and the surrounding layers collapse inward at the loss of  pressure. The release of energy as it explodes is a dazzling flare that can outshine a galaxy for a brief time, a few days. Then, burnout; the star becomes a neutron star, or a black hole.

What is happening to the United States of America?

In its increasingly erratic behavior, its insistence on its own “specialness” and exceptionalism, its stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality – instead remaining determined to “shape the narrative” and replace it with an alternate and fabricated reality – are we seeing the beginning of core collapse and the onset of burnout?

All empires eventually collapse upon themselves, what sustains them at their core no longer capable of projecting power outward as they succumb to overreach and a misplaced belief in their own invincibility. Is this process already underway?

More and more signs say yes, it is. Not just internationally, where respect for America has slipped steadily, but domestically, where Americans themselves gloomily offer their belief, in polling results, that the world is getting fed up with the USA throwing its weight around. A Rasmussen poll released a year ago suggests only 23 percent of Americans polled believe America is “on the right track”. The percentage of working-age Americans who are part of the U.S. workforce is at its lowest level since 1978, if you can believe it, with one in every three working-age Americans unemployed. In 2011, American debt passed 100% of GDP.

According to The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “The U.S. workforce has experienced downward pressure on wages and benefits over recent decades. Median and average wages have stagnated for thirty years, while the availability and quality of health insurance and pension benefits have substantially eroded. By contrast, the concentration of wealth at the top of U.S. society has skyrocketed, to levels unseen since the 1920s.”

Well, the reference cited earlier suggests President Obama does not know that. Because he says, “It’s fair to say that America has the best cards when you look at other countries around the world.  There’s no other country you’d rather be than the United States. Nobody can compete with us when we’re making the right decisions.” I suppose that’s not exactly a big fat lie, but it is curious that he would say nobody can compete with America “when we’re making the right decisions” when he is…umm…the decision-maker for America. Because clearly the “right decisions” have not been made in America for quite a long time. An IMF working paper entitled ““An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” forecast that U.S. government debt would rise above 400% of GDP by 2050, owing heavily to unfunded liabilities such as Social Security. Despite the fact that economic projections so far out are little more than informed guesses relying on everything staying the same as it is now, it did not remain for long in the public domain.

Ms. Polaski, author of the Carnegie document, goes on to say, “The golden age of broad-based economic expansion and opportunity for Americans was the quarter century after World War II. Large parts of the industrial capacity of Europe and Japan had been destroyed in the war. The U.S. manufacturing sector, scaled up for wartime production, was left unscathed and ready to satisfy demand in both domestic and hungry world markets, with purchases in the latter financed in part by the Marshall Plan.”

Sounds almost like another world war would be just what the doctor ordered as far as a return to American expansion of influence and a return to prosperity go, doesn’t it? Is that why the USA is pushing Europe so hard to accept further sacrifices to its own economic prosperity – to kick-start another massive land war in Europe, between NATO and Russia, fought over Ukraine?

In a word, no. Because there is no possibility of a repeat of the golden age of economic expansion for Americans, at least not based on the same model, because American manufacturing has been outsourced to a fare-thee-well, and is moribund in the land of its birth. Some fast talkers will tell you the death of American manufacturing is  liberal fearmongering, that American manufacturing has had one of its best (pick your window) months ever – but they are just tap-dancing you past the graveyard, because manufacturing’s share of the American economy had shrunk from  28.5% in its postwar heyday to only 12% by 2010. Doing great in a sector that has shrunk by more than half is not a gain.

America is making big with the bellicose war talk, strutting and pounding its chest and blabbering crazy talk about arming Ukraine as its proxy against Russia. But it is not only Russia which is the issue – a developing threat is the lifting of sanctions on Iran. It can hardly have escaped notice (I know some of my commenters have highlighted it) that Iran’s acceptance back into the western fold, while it might be a welcome boon to a Europe urgently seeking gas supplies that do not originate in Russia, is a source of increasing alarm to America’s conjoined little brother, Israel. In a moment of unintentional comedy last year, Israel’s always-entertaining leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, actually warned world leaders not to ease up on Iran in the hope of winning its cooperation in the fight against Islamic State (or ISIS or ISIL or whatever the acronym-of-the-moment is) because Iran was fighting against IS “out of their own interest”!!! Said the leader of the wealthy country that benefits from an annual $3.1 Billion in foreign aid from the USA. More ominous was the open letter to the Republic of Iran from 47 Republican senators, warning Iran’s leaders that any agreement negotiated between Obama and Iran without Congressional approval would be considered merely an executive agreement that would cease its effect as soon as Obama is out of office. Mild-mannered lunatic Lindsey Graham went even further off the map, using a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to press U.S. SecDef Ashton Carter on who would win a war between the United States and Iran. Atlantic Magazine points out that the USA was sure of winning the war with Iraq, as well, and it did. Sort of. But it cost Trillions with a capital “T” and thousands of dead Americans, and resulted in what is about as similar to a prosperous western-oriented market democracy as an igloo is like a brush fire. America cannot afford any more victories like that one, yet it seems uncommonly eager to fight everyone on the planet who will not kneel to it and let it be the boss.

Which brings us to its loyal ally, Europe. American pressure turned off the sale of two MISTRAL Assault Carriers to Russia by France, and now France is on the hook for about €1.2 Billion and has a pair of white-elephant warships it will probably sink – as the cheapest option – without their ever having been delivered to the customer. Paris expects to fund the penalty from €2 Billion Poland will pay for French helicopters. France will see a return of less than €800 million in compensation for €2 Billion worth of aircraft sales and will probably have to sink two brand-new warships, all because of American pressure. And that’s on the heels of French fury in 2013, when Snowden’s disclosures revealed the NSA had “collected” more than 70 million French phone calls just in one 30-day period. Rising anti-Americanism in Germany is the more disconcerting – for American policymakers – in that it is becoming mainstream. After a half-decade of the most severe austerity budget in Britain since World War II, Britons have suffered the worst decline in real wages since Victorian times. That last is not Washington’s fault, of course; but it bodes ill for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the mammoth free-trade deal Washington is trying to get signed with Europe. British shopkeepers are not going to be thrilled with the concept of opening their markets to American goods so that Americans can get richer while British businesses go under because they can’t compete.

And they can’t; the European Commission – which is fast evolving into a de facto Government Of Europe – predicts that without comprehensive economic reforms, living standards in the Eurozone will be lower, relative to those in the USA, in 2025 than they were in the mid-1960’s.

Just ponder that for a moment. Living standards, in Europe, when your children are the workforce, lower than they were when your parents were the workforce. That’s quite an accomplishment, when you think about it. Now consider that your good friends in Washington want to erode your living standards further by using you as a pawn in the Great Game against Russia, which Washington must stop at all costs.

 Which brings us full circle back to Washington, and the coming leadership race on the staggering deathstar America has become. Right now – and I’m well aware things can change quickly in a presidential election, you only have to say the wrong thing to go from front-runner to done-like-dinner, but just as a snapshot of the moment – it’s a race between BusinessTwit Donald Trump and send-in-the-Army warhag Hillary Clinton. Just think about that for a minute – the finest America has to offer, its glittering gladiators in the arena of public service, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What has happened to you, America?

Another clue is tucked away in Ms. Polaski’s excellent research work on American living standards: “While the United States continues to be the only military superpower, the economic world has become decidedly multipolar“.

Washington would like to send in the dollar to beat the shit out of all comers, the way it has become used to doing since Bretton Woods. But it doesn’t work any more – Washington is up against the BRICS now, an economic bloc which numbers nearly half of the world’s population, a combined nominal GDP which is nearly a quarter of the world’s total and about $4 Trillion in combined foreign-currency reserves. As this bloc moves to more comprehensive de-dollarization and conducts more transactions in its national currencies, the dollar’s clout will only weaken further. Kicking countries out of SWIFT, the international electronic hub of worldwide financial transactions, was never really a solution; the USA did it to Iran, but Iran did not collapse, and European courts twice found the action illegal on behalf of separate Iranian banks.  That notwithstanding, the west could not afford to kick such a large economic bloc out of SWIFT, or even only one member, because it would lose the capability to monitor those financial transactions. And the Sino-Russian international SWIFT alternative is firming up fast. America will learn, to its great sorrow, that the “petrodollar” without the “petro” is a paper tiger.

Economic warfare is no longer a viable alternative. That leaves the USA’s giant military machine.

Elton John might not live long enough to sing “Candle in the Wind” for the United States as global whip-wielder, but you can nearly see that moment. Just keep in mind the part about blazing up to be the brightest explosion in the galaxy first.

 

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1,124 Responses to It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away.

  1. Whatever happened to Russia-Insider? Previously they had about a dozen or more articles a day, nowadays only a few.

  2. Warren says:

    Slava Ukrainya, Horeyam Slava!

    Published on 3 Aug 2015
    A group of masked men attacked the offices of the Party of Regions in Kharkov, Monday, hurling fire crackers and rocks at the building.

    Wearing Ukrainian colours and sporting balaclavas, the men also damaged a mini bus that reportedly belongs to the party.

    COURTESY: RT’s RUPTLY video agency, NO RE-UPLOAD, NO REUSE – FOR LICENSING, PLEASE, CONTACT http://ruptly.tv

    RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air

  3. Warren says:

  4. Warren says:

    Bizarre map tweeted by an Atlanticist.

    • kirill says:

      Moronic. Chechnya, Ossetia, Georgia and even some of Daghestan are rendered in this amateur production as part of Ukraine.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        That would be the territory claimed by the Skoropadsky Hetmanate. For the territory controlled by the Skoropadsky Hetmanate, refer to Hetman Skoropadsky’s chair of office.

        • yalensis says:

          PAVLO Skoropadsky, . your namesake!.

          How did this unfortunately named man die, you may ask?

          “During World War II, Skoropadsky fled before advancing Soviet forces along with the retreating German army. He died at Metten Abbey in Germany after being wounded by an Allied bombing near Regensburg, and was buried in Oberstdorf.”

          Oops!

  5. yalensis says:

    Today Maria Gaidar was granted Ukrainian citizenship and given her passport.
    I wonder if that means she passed her probationary period for her employment? She must be doing a really good job!

    As for her Russian citizenship, Masha says she would prefer to keep it, but must comply with Ukrainian law.
    Ukrainian law is unambiguous, that DUAL citizenship is prohibited.
    However, TRIPLE citizenship is okay, as Kolomoisky pointed out. (clever loophole in the law!)

    Therefore, my advice to Masha would be, to apply, as soon as possible, for her Israeli passport.
    She is entitled to it, and no reason in the world why she shouldn’t have it!
    Then she could keep all 3 citizenships. In these times, you just never know, when you’re going to need an extra passport.

    • yalensis says:

      More on Maria’s new passport:
      Along with Gaidar, also a man named Vladimir Fedorin was given Ukrainian passport at the ceremony.
      Fedorin is a Russian journalist, former editor of Forbes Ukraine.
      I found this praisatory piece about Fedorin which explains why he was fired from Forbes.
      In any case, Fedorin now has a new home in Ukraine.

      After giving Maria and Vladimir their new passports, Poroshenko thanked them for supporting the Kiev regime. “Your unbiased position, opinion, and information about Ukraine, as an alternative to Kremlin propaganda, is very important for millions of Russians,” Poroshenko said.

      Fedorin replied, praising Ukraine as the “flagman of freedom and normalization in the post-Soviet world; Ukraine gives hope to the peoples of the former USSR that they can become members of the international family of free nations.”

      Maria Gaidar also made a little speech: “I am here in Ukraine, during this difficult [for Ukraine] time, in order to share the fate of the Ukrainian people. We have a common enemy: an authoritarian regime which murders people, both in Russia, and also here.”

      Maria went on to apologize to the Ukrainian people, in the name of all the Russian people.

      • Can Russia annul her Russian passport?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I believe that one’s Russian citizenship cannot be annulled:

          The fact that a Russian citizen has become a citizen of another country does not affect or change his or her rights and obligations available and applicable to Russian citizens under the Russian law.

          See: Specific features of Russian citizenship

          Russian Constitution

          Article 62

          1. A citizen of the Russian Federation may have the citizenship of a foreign State (dual citizenship) according to the federal law or an international agreement of the Russian Federation.

          2. The possession of a foreign citizenship by a citizen of the Russian Federation shall not derogate his rights and freedoms and shall not free him from the obligations stipulated by the Russian citizenship, unless otherwise provided for by federal law or an international agreement of the Russian Federation.

          • marknesop says:

            Perhaps there is a velvet hammer hidden there in the “…and shall not free him from the obligations stipulated by the Russian citizenship…” which would make it most unwise for Masha to return to Russia whether she believes she is a citizen or not.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              When the British consulate in Moscow used to deal with passports and visas before outsourcing became the vogue, and when, after registering my son’s birth at the Tagansky registry office, where I had made a statement that I was not against his being a Russian citizen, I then applied at that consulate for my son’s British passport, he having become a British citizen at the moment of his birth by virtue of the fact that one of his parents was a British citizen, the bureaucrats there made it abundantly clear that my son’s British citizenship in no way made him immune from his obligations as a Russian citizen; specifically, if he was still resident in Russia at the age of 18 years, he would still be obliged to do military service if drafted, his British citizenship notwithstanding. And all around the passport and visa section were notices explaining this in both English and Russian.

      • marknesop says:

        I’m sure that will make her even more popular in Russia than she was before. Poroshenko is probably still scratching his head over that one; “…an authoritarian regime which murders people, both in Russia, and also here”. Did she mean an authoritarian regime in Russia is murdering people in both places, or did she mean there are authoritarian regimes in charge in both places who are murdering people? Oh, Masha, Masha – you eternal enigma.

        Whatever the case, she and I are in complete harmony on one score – that she remains to “share the fate of the Ukrainian people”. It’s a big gamble, Masha – you gotta know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em. Oops; I guess you only get to hold ’em, now. And if you decide to run for it, your direction is also predetermined, I guess. Don’t run to Russia.

        On reflection, the flocking of the kreakly dissidents to Ukraine may indicate Uncle Sam is getting ready to double down again. The effort to inspire regime change in Russia appears to have been abandoned, the more poignantly for NED being kicked out of Russia just when they were on the verge of causing the blind to see and the halt and lame to run like gazelles. Perhaps regime change efforts will have to be relocated across the border, and there will need to be a core Russian-dissident organization in place for that. It could always be run from Washington using compliant toads like Masha Gessen and Alexey Bayer, but a local cell would be very helpful.

        • yalensis says:

          «Я здесь в трудное для Украины время для того, чтобы разделить судьбу украинского народа. У нас общий враг — авторитарный режим, который убивает людей как в России, так и здесь», — заявила она и извинилась за то, что происходит сейчас в России.

          I am pretty sure, from both grammar and context, what she means:
          That the “authoritarian regime” is the Putin regime, which kills people in Russia, and also kills people “here” [in Ukraine]. And that she and Ukraine have an enemy in common, which is that same (Russian) authoritarian regime.

          As to the issue whether Russia can take away Maria’s Russian citizenship, the answer is no. Not just based on this.
          Just expressing hatred for the country of her citizenship, or calling the government names, is not cause enough to deprive her of citizenship; she would have to break a law.
          Or commit an act of explicit treason, something more than just voicing an opinion.

    • Warren says:

      If dual citizenship is prohibited, I assume Jaresko et al would have renounced their foreign citizenship to comply with Ukrainian law?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yes. So did former president Yushchenko, whose US citizen wife was the daughter of a Kharkov born Soviet POW, Mykhailo Chumachenko, who met his Ukrainian wife, Sofia. in Nazi Germany.

        She was a slave-labourer there and had been deported at 14 years of age to Germany from the Kiev region, where she was born. Soviet POW Mykhailo met and married Sofia in Germany, where she then bore Yushchenko’s sister-in-law, Lydia, in 1945.

        In 1956, the Chumachenkos emigrated to the USA on the invitation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chicago, where Yushchenko’s wife was born in 1961.

        All of which seems mighty strange to me when one considers that some 3.3 to 3.5 million Soviet POWs died at the hands of the Nazis: that death figure amounts to 60% of all Soviet POWs, but Chumachenko not only survived, but also found himself a wife in Germany – a Slav Untermensch slave to boot – married her, fathered a child off her and lived in marital bliss there until 1956 before they were whisked off to the Good ‘ole US of A.

  6. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      Not hard to see where they’re going with that – the U.S. State Department enjoyed such dramatic success with the earlier events in the “Arab Spring” that it took even them by surprise. Unfortunately for them, they built a template of it and tried to use the same formula too repetitively, and without spontaneity it failed to achieve the same results.

      In most countries, people angrily defend a completely free and open internet, with no government oversight or censorship – a comment under the Facebook comments to that article reflects this attitude. I have to pity that, because I wish we still lived in that kind of world, but a core truth is this – the people who demand unrestricted access to information regardless its source are operating under the unspoken belief that those who pitch them information are telling them the truth. Just make your play, honestly and openly, and let me make up my own mind. In such an environment, the west would say, come on over here, baby; it’s fine. We got chicken-fried steak and Kentucky bourbon, all you want, and potato chips and Doctor Pepper. And Russia says, why you wanna put that crap in your mouth when you know you’ll have an ass five axe-handles wide by sunup tomorrow? And you say, hey, that’s right. Think I’ll just stay here with my kvas, and a salad.

      But it’s not like that. The State Department uses social media to get a mob going and then to keep it building, by firing tweets at you so fast you can’t think. Usually it starts with an outrageous incident, such as a riot policeman beating a defenseless student or protester – remember that kreakle female student back during the short-lived “White Revolution” whose thing was to put on an agonized expression when being restrained by police so the photo would suggest she was having her arm torn out by the roots? The same one caught on video taking a rock out of her bag and throwing it at police, yeah, that’s the one; I forget her name now. Then another tweet will come in, saying, brothers, come to Taganka right now, they’re dragging the bureaucrats out of their offices like Navalny promised, we need everybody here now and so on and so on. Complete stage-managing of the fray using phony incidents and successes to inject a spirit of unstoppable momentum. Those who argue for an unregulated access to information do not ever imagine that kind of scenario.

      I’m for an unregulated internet myself. But I have all the time in the world to sift through information and decide what is likely to be true and what is not. Well, sort of; I mean, I’m busy, but nobody is running a push campaign here involving, say, an assault by the Ukrainian forces on Crimea which is not happening. But what if the State Department managed to shut off local broadcasts which would reveal that as a lie, and all the English-speaking networks started running with a breaking story at the same time? I’d believe it, of course I would, so would you. And our ability to reason and think clearly would be affected by it. We’d look for corroboration, but if we couldn’t find anything we’d have little choice but to assume it was true. And that’s how the political side of the USA uses the internet.

  7. Moscow Exile says:

    Gazeta.ru reckons there’s no trace of Vasileevna at the place where she is supposed to have been incarcerated:

    Васильева ни дня не провела в тюрьме
    [Vasileevna not spent one day in prison]

    Vasileevna: So ya thought ya’d ditch me, did ya – ya two-bit, two-timing creep?

    Serdyukov: Who is dis dame?

    [Gangster rap, see.]

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Васильеву не нашли в колонии
      [Vasileeva not found in penal colony]

      Сердюков вернулся в бизнес
      [Serdyukov back in business]

      Former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has returned to the business world and become the owner of two luxury apartments in a house in Molochniy Lane, where his protégé Yevgeniya Vasileeva had lived whilst awaiting trial for the embezzlement of millions of dollars. The apartments had previously belonged to his sister Galina Puzikova. Gazeta.ru has been doing some investigating into the new business interests of the former minister and his relatives.

      [Molochniy Lane is situated in the most expensive area of real estate in Moscow – ME]

    • Jen says:

      She looks like a dead ringer for Miss Piggy in case Hollywood ever decides to make a live-action version of Sesame Street or the Muppet Show.

  8. Warren says:

    • yalensis says:

      In a just world, Vacher himself would have been fired, for the impropriety and conflict of interest.
      Instead, they just hurry to make his improprieties “private”.

  9. Warren says:

    Vladivostok to St. Petersburg by Car: This Is One New Zealander’s Journey

    Ever wanted to pack a bag and travel across Russia by car? Here’s how to do it the Russian way.

    http://russia-insider.com/en/vladivostok-st-petersburg-car-one-new-zealanders-journey/ri9033

  10. Fern says:

    Returning to the Rent-a Jihadi scheme run by friend and NATO ally, Turkey for a moment. Erdogan has apparently announced that Turkey regards Crimea’s ‘annexation’ as another catastrophe befalling the Crimean Tatars at the hands of Russia and Turkey will never recognise it.
    “Turkey did not and will not recognize Crimea’s annexation. Our priority in the Ukrainian crisis is peace, prosperity and security for Crimean Tatars. We are taking every step and conducting all necessary negotiations in order to overcome pressure and difficulties they are facing. You can be sure that we will continue our support,” the address to the Second World Congress of the Crimean Tatars held in Ankara over the weekend reads.”

    http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150803/1025364190.html

    Of course, it’s only in the topsy-turvey, inside-out, back-to-front, through-the-looking-glass-world inhabited by all NATO members that a terrorist campaign which is what, no doubt, Mr Erdogan and his ISIL/ISIS/IS playmates are planning, could be described as securing ‘peace and prosperity’ for Crimean tatars.

    • marknesop says:

      Erdogan is getting awfully saucy with Russia for a guy who is hoping it will make his country a major gas hub; it must make the State Department hug itself with delight. Suit yourself, Erdogan – if I were Moscow, I would be engineering his overthrow (it probably wouldn’t be hard) with a view to implanting a pro-Russian leader. I’m sure it would take the U.S. State Department totally by surprise. Once.

    • astabada says:

      Hang on Recep Tayyip: do you really mean that the fate of Crimean Tatars is your business? Well, I totally agree with you Recep Pasha, but then you must agree that the fate of Russians living in Crimea is Putin’s business. And what about the fate of Kurds, Arabs and Armenians living in Turkey? Is that any business of Erbil, Dimashq and Yerevan? You can’t make your own Turkish delights and have them.

    • astabada says:

      Let me add some additional context to Fern’s comment.

      0) Iran nuclear deal, Riyadh very nervous
      1) Saudi Arabia and Russia begin to thaw their relations
      2) Saudi Arabia is bogged down in Yemen, Syrian Government making gains in Idleb, Qalamoun (clean), Zabadani (encircled with no hope of breaking out), Palmyra, Hasakah and Deir Ezzour.
      3) Head of Syrian Intelligence visits Kingdom
      4) Soon, head of Kingdom Intelligence to visit Dimashq

      Do you imagine if ebol Putin has engineered an exit strategy for the Kingdom? He his not new to this kind of gamble: think about the Syrian chemical stockpile.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m sorry for their families, who may have had nothing to do with their decisions or may even have tried to dissuade them. Where are all these people getting killed? I thought the violence had come way, way down.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I don’t!

        It’s their own fault for being related to such shits.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        One of them is from Azov, the other from Yarosh’s Ukrainian Volunteer Corps. Another from Aidar, another from a unit whose insignia I don’t recognise.

        All involved in ceasefire violations in and around Shirokino you can bet.

        • yalensis says:

          There is also quite a lot of fighting around Gorlovka. Just yesterday (or the day before) I read that a Ukie artillery post was wiped off the map; it had been shelling Gorlovka mercilessly.

  11. Jeremn says:

    Bulgarian dairy producers unlikely to be compensated for losses (because of Russian sanctions) as the EU thinks they’ll be fine. This did not prevent “Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Slovenia from agreeing to continue their joint activities at the EC aimed at the introduction of concrete measures in support of the dairy industries in these countries”.

    http://www.novinite.com/articles/170209/Bulgarian+Dairy+Producers+Unlikely+to+Be+Awarded+Compensations+by+EC

    • cartman says:

      Found a little opinion piece from your link:

      Bulgarian Taxpayers’ Money ‘Still Going to Energy Mafia’

      “We will demand that an investigation be launched and responsibility be sought from politicians, because how are Americans [the two thermal plants owned by US-based companies] to blame?”

      “A number of politicians and experts overseeing the energy sectors have argued that long-term contracts setting preferential purchase of energy produced by two US-owned thermal power plants, AES Maritza East 1 and ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP.”

      Wasn’t the number one problem for the economy high utility prices? When the government collapsed a couple of years ago over this issue, the US was certainly able to preserve its monopoly, which is now allowing it to squeeze more out of the Bulgarian people.

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    Порошенко вручил орден детоубийце
    [Poroshenko awards a childkiller]

    Награжденный офицер оказался командиром бронетранспортера, что сбил 8-летнюю девочку на Донбассе

    Президент Украины Петр Порошенко наградил орденом Богдана Хмельницкого III степени старшего лейтенанта Вооруженных сил Украины Марьяна Рака. Это награждение могло остаться незамеченным, если бы Рак не оказался фигурантом дела о гибели 8-летней девочки в Константиновке (Донецкая область).

    Officer who was in charge of an armoured personnel carrier that killed an 8-year-old girl in the Donbas has received an award.

    President of the Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has awarded Ukraine Army 1st Lieutenant Maryan Rak with the order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky (III Class). This award would have gone unnoticed if Rak had not been a defendant in the case of the death of an 8-year-old girl in Konstantinovka (Donetsk region).

    • marknesop says:

      I often think Poroshenko makes a lot of his decisions based entirely on how much public anger they will generate in Donbas and Russia.

      I suppose, when you think about it, that’s his job. Just like Boris Yeltsin was charged with so thoroughly wrecking the state economy that the country could not return to Communism, Poroshenko is charged with poisoning relations between Ukraine and Russia to the point they will remain blood enemies even without western pot-stirring.

  13. Warren says:

    Russia makes renewed bid for contentious Arctic regions

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33777492

    Here is Russia’s new partial revised Arctic Ocean submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

    http://www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/submission_rus_rev1.htm

    Russia’s previous submission of 2001 to the UN CLCS was objected to by Canada, Denmark, Japan, Norway and the US, despite the fact the US has not ratified UNCLOS.

    http://www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/submission_rus.htm

    • kirill says:

      Festival of hypocrisy. All these other states are trying to claim all they can get their paws on while bitching about Russia at the same time.

      At least these clowns can’t claim Russia’s Arctic EEZ which is huge thanks to many islands and which has most of the natural gas and oil deposits. I am not so sure that all this squabbling over mineral rights means much. How many subsea mineral extraction operations are active today? None.

  14. yalensis says:

    American actor George Clooney exposed as a shill for military-industrial complex.

    Clooney was exposed by the German paper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten .

    The German paper discovered that Clooney’s so-called “anti-war” humanitarian fund, is in reality financed by 2 major American arms manufacturers, Lockhheed-Martin and Boeing

    Clooney’s charity supposedly researches the illegal sale of weapons in 5 African countries, in which the U.S. has significant geo-strategic interests. The 5 countries are: South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The German expose alleges, that Clooney’s attempts to end illegal arms trafficing, is for the purpose of opening th arms markets in those countries, to the more expensive (and official) weapons produced by the U.S. companies.

    German researchers allege that Clooney is a direct agent of the U.S. government.
    Recall that Clooney has been an ardent supporter of Ukrainian Maidan and the junta regime. In the Ukrainian arena, he is most associated with the interests of Julia Tymoshenko.

    • marknesop says:

      Great catch! I never liked him, anyway.

      • yalensis says:

        Me neither.

        Just like Angelina Jolie, Clooney is a skeeze-ball Hollywood liberal, who plays on the gullibility of the American public. Who want to believe that there are some good causes out there. They think they are helping African children, or some other noble cause, instead they are helping the Pentagon.

      • james@wpc says:

        I expect he will have an increasingly high political profile in the coming years culminating as a Democrat presidential candidacy in 2024 after another eight years of a republican president

    • Jen says:

      Don’t forget Clooney and John Prendergast’s new baby The Satellite Sentinel Project which aims to uncover incidents of human rights violations in Sudan and South Sudan using satellite imagery supplied by …. DigitalGlobe!

      I bet Elliot Brown-Nosed Piggins will be jealous.

      One of the other SSP partner organisations is The Enough Project which is linked to the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based thinktank founded by John Podesta which supported the Obama government’s continuation of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009.
      http://www.satsentinel.org/our-story/partner-organizations
      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Center_for_American_Progress

  15. Warren says:

    Russia not planning to send troops to fight ISIS in Syria – Putin’s spokesman

    https://www.rt.com/news/311583-russia-troops-syria-isis/

  16. yalensis says:

    Russia found good way to get even with Netherlands:

    Starting 10 August, Russia will start limiting import of cut flowers from Netherlands.
    The pretext is that all cut flowers from Netherlands must go through phyto-sanitary inspection before being admitted into the country.

    In Russia, a whopping 90% of all cut flowers are imported. Of this, Europe supplies 40.5%; Netherlands by itself 38.5%. Hence, the new rule is sure to hit the Dutch in their pocketbooks.

    The surprising thing is, as the article points out, of the flowers which Netherlands exports, not all of them are even produced locally (in Holland). A surprising number of the flowers come from third countries, such as Ecquador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Kenya.

    Recently Russia started forming direct ties with those countries and importing the flowers directly, bypassing Netherlands. This process is expected to continue. Already, Ecquador is pushing out Netherlands in the Russian market for flowers. Even China is getting in on the game, starting to supply some of the voracious Russian appetite for cut flowers. Given all these sources of the flowers, Russian consumers are not likely to suffer a deficit of flowers, the article concludes.

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    KP reports that the human rightists who have been clamouring about their not being able to find Vasileeva in the penal colony where is supposed to be incarcerated simply couldn’t find her because she has requested that she not be pestered by these people.

    Пропавшая фигурантка дела «Оборонсервиса» нашлась в колонии и в депрессии

    The report says that she had written an official letter to the head of the colony in which she stated that she no longer wanted to meet journalists and human rights activists who had previously spoken to the press about the conditions she had endured when in a Moscow remand prison.

    Apparently, she is tired of the publicity and depressed.

    So she’s doing a Greta Garbo.

  18. james@wpc says:

    I had to start a new thread, Mark. Your first question – “does the fact that the USA’s debt is more than 100% of its GDP not make it insolvent?”
    I take it you are using the definition of insolvency being when an organisations liabilities exceed it’s assets. The nation’s GDP does not belong to the government and so cannot be seen as an asset of the govt. So the question, as framed, is not ‘well English’, speaking economically 🙂 Perhaps you could rephrase it?

    Insolvency can also be defined as an inability to meet current liabilities as they fall due which is a cashflow problem rather than an asset problem. A government that owns and controls its central bank cannot ever have a cashflow problem; that would be Iran, for instance, or Libya before Terror Inc was unleashed on it.

    A govt that does not own and control its central bank cannot have a cashflow problem so long as its debt is denominated in its own national currency and the privately owned central bank continues to monetise the government’s newly issued bond/treasury certificates; that is countries like the US and the UK.

    A government that has its debt nominated in a foreign or external currency, such as Greece and other Eurozone countries, is in the position of any other business and can be declared insolvent and its assets sold up for the creditors. This situation with Greece was always going to come right from the beginning.

    I don’t follow what you are asking with your second question – “Would it, if there were a deliberate run on the dollar to drive it down and reduce its circulation, by refusing to use it as a medium of exchange?” Could you rephrase it also?

    • astabada says:

      @james, TimOwen

      A government that has its debt nominated in a foreign or external currency, such as Greece and other Eurozone countries, is in the position of any other business and can be declared insolvent and its assets sold up for the creditors. This situation with Greece was always going to come right from the beginning.

      Bang! I do not follow all of your points, but on this one I totally agree. To reconnect with what Tim was writing about Italy, the problem with Italy (and Greece) is that they both have:
      – a currency which is grossy overvalued with respect to their economies (this makes import artifically easier than it sholud be, and export artificially harder)
      – no control on what the value of that currency is (e.g. by devaluing its currency Italy could keep its products competitive in the past)

      When did the Italian crisis start? Answer: when Italy pegged its currency to the future Euro, with the Maastrich Treaty.

      • Tim Owen says:

        Completely agree. The fallacy was that European economies were all equally able to support debt – whether private or public – because THE EURO (ta-da!) while there was no provision of mechanisms to ensure this would be so. Yet the impression was allowed to flourish. (I wonder why?) As far as I can remember every national central bank was responsible for insuring the deposits of the banks in its jurisdiction but they were no longer able to wield the real power of a central bank which is the ability to backstop bank-runs with limitless if temporary liquidity. To top it off the ECB was forbidden by treaty to “bail out” any European CB.

        I am struggling to find an analogy… If you wanted to come up with an economic / banking blueprint for failure you literally could not do worse. It would be like the State of New York guaranteeing JP Morgan and then having a Fed with a stated policy not to intervene. How long would that last in a crisis?

        To my mind the early apparent success of the Euro was an illusion created by the low interest rates that were instituted to enable Germany to absorb the GDR. (I swear irony dogs the Germans like an unwanted pet that is certain he’s home.) This predictably caused a massive credit bubble in the south and real estate bubbles in Spain and Ireland as the credit worthiness of Germany was projected onto much smaller economies while the institutional and treaty arrangements actually forbid exactly this.

        Bretton Woods was a compromise. The Euro was an abomination.

        • Tim Owen says:

          Beyond that I’m curious about why you hated Saviano’s book so much. To my mind I thought it told the story of Europeans dealing with the harsh realities of living with international competition – especially from China and mostly in the fashion trade – while living in a notional European Economy which, in the secure classes, is oblivious to their plight

          Maybe I have a bias as I find North American perceptions of Europe annoyingly “curated”, as if you / they live in an animated fashion spread. I don’t think even the Greece crisis has broken through.

    • marknesop says:

      In the second question, I meant ““Would it (be insolvent), if there were a deliberate run on the dollar to drive it down and reduce its circulation, by refusing to use it as a medium of exchange?” That is, would a deliberate turning-away from the dollar put the USA in a position where it had to pay its debts and live within its means? And the answer is, not likely, because the government does not control the bank or own the money, although there is most definitely a very close relationship between the governors and the bankers. Still, there must be a relationship between the whole world using the dollar and U.S. power, because if there were not the U.S. would not attack a country on some made-up excuse as soon as it made noises about dropping the dollar. Unless that’s just a crackpot conspiracy theory.

      • james@wpc says:

        Thanks for the clarification, Mark. The US could well find itself in trouble and that is my expectation but “insolvent” is the wrong word to use.

        First, the basics of the relationship between the Fed and the US Treasury dept. I think someone here (Tim?), about a year ago, spelt out the actual mechanics of it all but a rough Idea will suffice for our purposes. When the US govt wants to get more money, they have the Treasury Dept draw up treasury certificates which are essentially IOU’s and hand them to the Fed. The Fed creates the credit to the value of the IOU’s and places it in the US govt’s a/c (at interest). The govt can then meet all future expenses including maturing loans with this money because all of the US’s trade and loan contracts are written in US$.

        There is no limit to the debt that the US can run up in this manner so there will always be money to meet commitments. So the US govt cannot become technically insolvent.

        Crystal ball stuff now – the problem for the US govt (and the Fed) is that it is committed to printing ever more money at a time when the demand for it internationally is shrinking because the BRICS countries and others are avoiding using the US dollar when possible. This will lead to inflation for the dollar. In other words, it will lose value and make it less and less attractive for people, companies and govts to hold it and thus further decreasing demand. We now have a self fuelling downward spiral for the dollar.

        The inflation happens because the US dollar is backed not only by the domestic GDP of the US but also by all the international trade that is conducted using the dollar. As the total amount of dollars in circulation increases and the demand decreases (because people are avoiding using it) we have more dollars to buy less goods (because sellers do not want US dollars for their goods) so the prices on the goods that are still available for US dollars will be bid upwards by the excess money over goods available causing the inflation. I have been very impressed how the FED/govt and Wall st generally have been able to stave off this inevitable inflation so far.

        As for the US ever ‘living within its means’ that will only come when other trading partners en masse refuse to accept US dollars for their goods (incl military materiel). The US will then have to sell something tangible to raise the foreign currency (as most other countries now have to do) to buy Chinese clothing and uniforms and ammunition etc. They may not be able to pay for the military occupation in foreign countries using US dollars and so the Empire will start visibly shrinking.

        If this happens, countries like israel and Saudi Arabia will be left high and dry and have to fend for themselves – and good luck with that! But psychopaths never say die so they just might pull something out of the hat other than a rabbit. We’ll see soon enough, I think. You can see, though, that time is not on the side of the usual suspects.

        I hope that answers your question adequately, Mark. If not, come on back to me!

      • Jen says:

        ” … Still, there must be a relationship between the whole world using the dollar and U.S. power, because if there were not the U.S. would not attack a country on some made-up excuse as soon as it made noises about dropping the dollar. Unless that’s just a crackpot conspiracy theory.”

        I mentioned earlier in this thread that in 2000, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein switched to trading oil for euros and then Iraq began conducting all its trade in euros. Not long afterwards, the euro appreciated in value, perhaps in part as a result of its use as a trading currency, and the value of Iraq’s gold reserves also shot up as a result.
        http://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/feb/16/iraq.theeuro

        Iran and North Korea then switched to trading in euros. Next thing you know, all three countries became the New Axis of Evil.

        If the world has to use the US dollar for trade, this means there will always be a demand from exporters and importers for US dollars and this keeps the value of the US dollar high relative to other currencies. To an extent this means that in a situation where all currencies are free-floating (that is, not subjected to any controls on their value or supply by governments in the countries where they are legal tender) and are completely subject to market supply and demand, the US dollar will not experience high and low extremes when its value against other currencies fluctuates. This keeps the US dollar’s value high and steady.

        The use of the US dollar as a world currency for trade was adopted during the Bretton Woods conference in the late 1940s just after the Second World War. At the time, the US was the pre-eminent manufacturing economy in the world and could dictate its terms to a ruined Europe. If the rest of the world were to catch up with the US in manufacturing and trading capability, then everyone needed to use US dollars to buy US goods, services and intellectual know-how in the form of patents, advice and training. Few people at the time foresaw what would happen to the US economy if the US dollar became the world’s trading currency: the US economy would start to suffer persistent trade and balance of payment deficits and the US government would be unable to control the supply of US dollars. This is known as the Triffin Dilemma.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triffin_dilemma

        The British economist John Maynard Keynes who attended Bretton Woods was one of the few who knew – that was partly why he advocated for adopting an international trade currency (bancor) and an international clearing house for balance-of-payments surpluses and deficits – but as he was the representative of an exhausted and defeated empire, his ideas were given short shrift by the US attendees.

        • Tim Owen says:

          Posted this on earlier thread one page back before I saw this:

          Here’s where I think you, James and I agree: the reserve status of the dollar allows the U.S. to fund it’s deficit at the expense of other countries.

          Here’s’ where I think (?) we disagree:

          – my point is that the reserve status makes it possible for the U.S. to run persistent trade deficits but the ability to run a deficit is a virtue of all fiat systems. The fact that the reserve status of the dollar means those deficits can be much higher doesn’t change the fact. Nor should it discredit deficit-spending by association.

          – I would completely agree that the “petrodollar” is a pillar of American power but am frankly confused by what the essential mechanism of this is. To my mind to institute the petrodollar it is not sufficient to say that oil will be denominated in dollars or even sold only in dollars. The key is that the proceeds need to STAY in dollar assets. This was only achieved once Kissinger brokered Petro-dollar recycling, meaning that the dollars earned in this way would be recycled into treasury securities or used to purchase American weaponry or the engineering skills of the American firms that basically built the Kingdom as it now exists.This is what I was hinting at when I was talking about the circular nature of trade between currency blocs. No non-circular trade patterns can persist for long.

          – We emphasize different things. I suspect that the simple scale of the dollar value of trading of financial claims on things – trading in which London and New York are dominant – contributes more to the maintenance of the dollar reserve system than you are proposing. The upshot being that America’s “debt” problem is actually a demonstration of its financial power. *

          Could it become it’s greatest weakness? It’s possible I suppose but I don’t see this happening when western finance dwarfs the trading clout of its rivals. The system develops over time and, with time it gains scale and so momentum. In other words I’m suggesting that a dollar collapse is less likely than one might suppose.

          *This was the point I was trying to make with the dollar as “safe haven” comments above. If the dollar zigs (strengthens) when your mental model of the world says it should zag (weaken) then this should really suggest that your model is missing some important part of the complex mechanism it is trying to simulate.

          • marknesop says:

            I got rid of the older one.

            • james@wpc says:

              Tim, I’ll quote your words back to you and insert some clarifying (for me) words to demonstrate my understanding and to see if it is the same as yours-

              – my point is that the reserve status makes it possible for the U.S. to run persistent (international) trade deficits but the ability to run a (domestic budgetary) deficit is a virtue of all fiat systems. The fact that the reserve status of the dollar means those (international trade and domestic budgetary) deficits can be much higher doesn’t change the fact. Nor should it discredit (domestic budgetary) deficit-spending by association.”

              The Bretton Woods agreement specified that the US would make gold available for purchase at an agreed fixed price. This condition was thought to inhibit the US from printing money to excess. But the Vietnam War came along and the US was printing money to pay for it. This extra money was not financing extra productive capacity or creating wealth. Quite the opposite, in fact. So we had an increasing supply of US dollars around the world but no commensurate extra production to absorb the extra dollars.

              This is exactly what the French thought would happen and they started demanding gold for their US dollars. Eventually, the US had to stop selling gold now that it was greatly undervalued because the dollar was overvalued. So Nixon took the US dollar off the gold standard. Inflation ensued.

              Something was needed to soak up the extra purchasing power of the extra US dollars sloshing around the world. This money was called “EuroDollars” at the time. Oil was the answer. The Saudis (at the behest of Wall St) and OPEC jacked up the price of oil by a factor of four (IIRC) and rapidly increased the demand for dollars and reversed the inflationary trend and the subsequent loss of value.

              As Tim points out, the Saudis had to not only sell oil exclusively for US dollars but they had to deposit their surplus with New York banks. This way the banks won in three different ways. 1. they had overnight increased the international demand for US dollars and boosting its strength and prestige (perceptions are everything)
              2. They had handed a fortune to the Saudis but by keeping the money in the NY banks, the bankers still controlled the Saudis
              3. This surplus money was also kept out of other international banks and so could not be used by them to effectively compete with the NY banks and so kept those other banks under control as well and Wall St dominant.

              Point 1 was the most important for the bankers, in my view. This created the petrodollar – a dollar that used to be covered by gold as well as international trade and the US domestic GDP. Then gold dropped out of the equation and was replaced with oil at a hugely inflated price.

              At a bankers symposium during the eighties (I think from memory), the head of Citibank at the time, Walter Wriston, answered a question concerning what his bank would do if the Saudis wanted their money back. He replied blithely, “No problem. We’ll write them a cheque!” His reply was met with dumbfounded silence which told me told me that most of the audience of bankers did not understand banking at that level. There should have been laughter because the money cannot escape the system. It can only get transferred from one bank to another and each bank is dependent on remaining in the system to keep operating.

              It’s just a matter of borrowing from each other. If Citibank has the Saudi’s money to cover their other loans, then this will be more profitable for them than having to borrow it from other banks. But it is not a system breaker if they do have to borrow it from other banks. That’s what the system is for.

              • Jen says:

                It would be interesting to know when the Saudis also started buying up weapons and military hardware from the US and the UK. If they began some time in the early / mid 1970s to buy such equipment, and it were possible to find out where the money was coming from, that would be another piece in a big puzzle that links the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement, the Vietnam War, the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent decline in the US car manufacturing industry, the Yom Kippur War and maybe more besides.
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis#End_of_the_Bretton_Woods_accord

                James, thanks for the extra detail.

                • spartacus says:

                  Hello Jen! From the Wiki article you linked, I found this paragraph to be very interesting:

                  “The result was a depreciation of the dollar and other industrialized nations’ currencies. Because oil was priced in dollars, oil producers’ real income decreased. In September 1971, OPEC issued a joint communiqué stating that, from then on, they would price oil in terms of a fixed amount of gold.”

                  So it seems that the oil sellers, seeing that their “real” income from selling oil was decreasing (they were selling oil at the same price in terms of dollars, but at a lower price in terms of gold), were determined not to let the depreciating dollar erase a big chunk of their earnings. I think this goes to show how deep is entrenched in the collective psyche the idea that gold is THE medium for storing wealth. Barbarous relic? I think not… After all, value is a social construct and economic relations are social relations mediated through these things we call “commodities”. Gold has proven itself to be a very good mediator of these social relations, not because some magical qualities, but because of obvious practical advantages. So, although its role is significantly smaller these days, I think it still retains the roles of “medium of last resort” and “measuring stick of wealth”.

                • marknesop says:

                  The currency Gaddafi had moved to introduce was the gold dinar, an actual negotiable gold coin, and he proposed all African and Muslim nations accept only the dinar for oil. The sources speculating on this look a little tabloid-ey, but as with many such subjects, the mainstream press just never mentions it, as if deciding not to talk about it removes it from consideration as an issue. Similarly, the disappearance of Libya’s gold is easily explained – unscrupulous people, including Gaddafi himself, stole it. The guy who was planning to introduce a gold currency to Africa actually stole all the gold for himself, the tricky devil.

                • james@wpc says:

                  Jen, my recollection is that the Saudi’s started buying armaments bigtime during the seventies because I remember asking myself, “what’s wrong with this picture?” Here is a supposed enemy of israel buying huge amounts of military equipment, particularly fighter jets, from the country it has just imposed sanctions on, the US. Added to that, the US is THE big supporter of israel and indeed, saved its bacon during the Yom Kippur war!

                  The money for the military hardware could only have come from the increased price of oil and looking back it is increasingly obvious that these sales were part of the original deal to increase the price of oil. It is part of the circular trading that Tim was talking about.

                  The petrol rationing exercises in the US and elsewhere are looking more and more like theatre to condition the punters that we have to pay more. The whole crisis was stage managed and nothing has changed in forty years!

                • marknesop says:

                  The USA has a similar arrangement with Israel, in which it transfers billions in foreign aid to this prosperous country and Israel then uses it to buy U.S. weapons and military equipment. It would be simpler to just gift them the military equipment, but that would look as if the USA was building a military ally to extend its own power – which it is – and the former way helps create the need for more dollars.

              • marknesop says:

                That’s a valuable comment that greatly increased my understanding on a couple of points, one being why Nixon took the USA off the gold standard. I assumed it just became an antiquated concept and the U.S. wished to be rid of it for its own advantage, but I did not realize it was tied to a specific event.

                • Tim Owen says:

                  As far as I recall the French actually sent a carrier to New York to collect French gold held there at one point in the crisis.

                  Can you imagine that happening now?

              • Tim Owen says:

                “– my point is that the reserve status makes it possible for the U.S. to run persistent (international) trade deficits but the ability to run a (domestic budgetary) deficit is a virtue of all fiat systems. The fact that the reserve status of the dollar means those (international trade and domestic budgetary) deficits can be much higher doesn’t change the fact. Nor should it discredit (domestic budgetary) deficit-spending by association.”

                That is indeed what I meant to say. Thanks for the fix.

              • Tim Owen says:

                “At a bankers symposium during the eighties (I think from memory), the head of Citibank at the time, Walter Wriston, answered a question concerning what his bank would do if the Saudis wanted their money back. He replied blithely, “No problem. We’ll write them a cheque!” His reply was met with dumbfounded silence which told me told me that most of the audience of bankers did not understand banking at that level. There should have been laughter because the money cannot escape the system. It can only get transferred from one bank to another and each bank is dependent on remaining in the system to keep operating.”

                That is a great and revealing story.

          • spartacus says:

            ” I suspect that the simple scale of the dollar value of trading of financial claims on things – trading in which London and New York are dominant – contributes more to the maintenance of the dollar reserve system than you are proposing.”

            I think so too. One of the necessary conditions for a country to be imperialistic is for it to have ample amounts of financial capital at its disposal. Because I have red commie tendencies, I will point out that Hilferding and Lenin wrote extensively on this subject and even if their works are now outdated, they still give interesting insights on how financial capital is crucial for a country with imperialist tendencies. If anybody is interested Lenin’s writings on imperialism, they are available here:

            https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/

            This is the reason I find it funny when people speak of “Russian imperialism”. In order to be an imperialist power, Russia should, at least, have a very powerful financial sector. And it does not, at least not one that can be compared to the magnitude of the US financial sector. When you look at the list of world’s biggest banks, you can see that Russian banks are actually pretty small when compared to their US counterparts.

            http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2014/01/31/the-100-biggest-banks-in-the-world/

      • Tim Owen says:

        Zooming out a bit I think the threat posed by Gadaffi instituting a gold backed oil currency is a distraction. I might well be wrong but I would suggest that Libya was already in the Neo-con’s sights much earlier and I don’t think those types have much truck with the economic plumbing. At the level of Feith, Cheney, Kagan… Etc. And,in a way, I can’t see any upside for them to be worrying about it. I think we’re in the stage where endless funding is assumed and the only strategic question is “Does this demonstrate who’s boss.”

        What was it, 5 countries in seven years? That testimony from Gen. Clarke and Laurent Fabius has proved pretty reliable.

  19. Fennovoima got the needed 61% domestic ownership for the Hanhikivi NPP so it will be built. Rosatom will deliver the reactors. The US will not be pleased.

    • cartman says:

      Lucky you. Bulgarians are getting their rates raised AGAIN after they chased off all Russian investment in their utilities. The US has a monopoly on both politics and electricity in that country. Any Finns thinking that would be heaven should look at their situation.

      • Finland is not Bulgaria. Bulgaria has a weak government while the Finnish government, while pro-Western, can make its own decisions.

        • Also remember that Finland approved the Nord Stream while being pressured by the US to block it.

        • astabada says:

          I think that sooner than many expect, Finland will be squeezed into subservience thanks to the Wunderwaffe known also as the Euro.

          Let’s see how it goes for you guys.

          • cartman says:

            TTIP is looming. A glass of cow pus and antibiotics is equal to fresh, hormone-free milk.

          • Yes, let’s see how it goes. Finland did not allow Rosatom to build to a NPP to Finland because Finland wanted to appease Russia but because Finland actually needs this NPP and the Rosatom was seen as the best choice.

            But I am certain that there will be a big pressure from the US to cancel the whole thing. Finland did not capitulate to US pressure in case of Nord Stream, but the US stronghold over Finland has increased since.

  20. yalensis says:

    In Riga, Latvians protest EU plan to resettle 700 refugees from Middle East.

    America’s wars of destruction in the Middle East have created around 40,000 LEGAL (not counting the illegal ones) refugees (primarily from Syria, Libya, Palestine) who have arrived in EU countries. Brussels has decided to parcel them out to the various EU countries; Latvia is supposed to take in 737 of these persons.

    Today Latvians protested in front of the government. Various demonstrators declared that they were against Islamization of the country. Others pointed out (correctly) that some of the refugees might be IGIL terrorist fighters or drug traffickes associated with the Italian Mafia.

    Others took the opportunity (intolerantly) to mix apples and oranges, comparing the Middle East refugees with the internal ethnic Russian “Fifth Column”. This would be the “Latvia for Latvians” crowd. Declaring that the presence of ethnic Russians prevents them (Latvians) from living their own life, and from being happy, in general.

    In any case, the Latvian government declared that it could only take in 250 of the EU-supplied refugees. Brussels responded by saying, they don’t have the right to decide on the quotas, they must only follow orders.
    These are LEGAL (not illegal) refugees, and will start to arrive in the autumn months.

    • yalensis says:

      And P.S.
      while I personally have very little sympathy for Latvian nationalists, who are basically fascists, still, I wouldn’t put it past the Americans to use this program, as a way of smuggling their IGIL terrorists around the world, or harbouring them, just like some of the Latvians suspect.

      • yalensis says:

        P.P.S. – check out the above-linked Life News video, around 1:50 minute in, Latvian guy standing there bold as brass, wearing black t-shirt with white swastika!

    • marknesop says:

      What is IGIL? Islamic Guild in Latvia? I just can’t keep up with all these acronyms.

      The “Russians” in Latvia are almost all Latvian-born people of Russian ethnicity. Sort of like Canada referring to its Canadian-born Chinese inhabitants as a “fifth column that keeps Canadians from being happy and free”. I would think, “The people saying that are making us look like dinks”, just the way those Latvians are making all Latvians look like dinks.

      • astabada says:

        Hi mark, I asked myself the very same question. Here is my recollection of the topic. The phenomenon started as:
        ad-Dawla al-Islamiyya fil-Iraq wa ash-Shaam (=DAESH)
        or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (=ISIL)
        somebody started to translate ash-Sham as Syria (erroneously, Syria is as-Suriya), hence was born another acronym:
        Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (=ISIS)
        Later they thought they had become sufficiently universal (whatever that means) to call themselves just the
        Islamic State (=IS)
        So far what’s certain. Now the speculations:

        Back on the original question, I think that IGIL could derive from a Russian translation, where G=Г stands for государство
        Исламское Государство в Ираке и Леванте (=ИГИЛ=IGIL)

        @yalensis Please correct me if I am wrong
        @God Please have mercy of me for my Russian declinations.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Mark and Astabada: I think you’re right,
          IGIL is a Russian term = ИГИЛ.

          Sorry, I didn’t realize I was using a Russianism, but you have to admit, it is very confusing with America naming all its pet terrorists with similar names and acronyms.

  21. yalensis says:

    Valentina Lisitsa calls out a so-called “journalist” named Philip Gourevitch, for his insensitive comment on the presumed death of Russian free-diver Natalia Molchanova. Gourevitch writes for the New Yorker, which is world-reknowned for its extreme Russia-hating tone.

    A much better, and more sensitive, story was done by NYT writer Adam Skolnick in this piece.

    Skolnick, along with others, reams out Gourevitch in the twitter thread.

    • yalensis says:

      Here is profile of the asshole Philip Gourevitch.

    • yalensis says:

      More on Gourevitch:
      A quickie research on internet shows him to be a Washington-type flak who follows the party line. He writes on topics of interest to the American political class and their need to demonize certain people and countries, for example Rwanda and Syria, etc.

      Here is is helping to demonize Syrian President Assad, for example:
      PHILIP GOUREVITCH: I think Assad’s view is that you crush the opposition—you do not compromise with it ever in any way—and that’s how you survive. The alternative is not surviving, and that’s not one he seems able to entertain. As I mentioned in a blog post today, he told Russian TV this weekend he doesn’t really care what anyone thinks: “What matters is winning in real life.” His father slaughtered 10,000 people thirty years ago to crush opposition—and it pretty much worked. Assad probably thought he could pour hellfire into opposition strongholds and achieve the same effect. Well, now he’s killed 10,000 too—and there’s no end in sight. I don’t think he needs to see other “Arab Spring” scenarios to feel hellbent on total violent suppression.

      Just based on this quickie research, I would guess it’s a sure bet that Gourevitch is a Russia-hater who is paid to spread slime in that general direction as well.
      But he blew it when he attacked an ordinary (actually quite extraordinary) Russian person, a world-class athlete and mother, who was much admired by people who follow her sport.

      And he sneered at her death and derogated her sport.
      As if he could do the things that she did.

      • marknesop says:

        I wonder if he sneered when Dale Earnhardt was killed in a car crash, driving in circles. Like that’s a sport.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        I cannot think of faster or surer way to improve the human race than to execute anybody who has ever written for the New Yorker.

        • yalensis says:

          Hear hear!
          Never was there created a more black-hearted and scurvaceous crew than those vomit-inducing pseudo-intellectuals.

  22. Lyttenburgh says:

    Freedoom, ‘Mocracy and Liberastims deliver yet another crushing blow against Putinst Tyranny! Courtesy of the Daily Fail:
    ____________________________________________________________________________
    From Siberian prison to cocktails in the Hamptons: The drastic change in fortunes of a Pussy Riot punk rocker

    Nearly three years after she was sentenced to Siberian prison for hooliganism, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent a summer evening at a posh art gala.

    Tolokonnikova, 25, who rose to fame after filming an anti-government ‘punk prayer’ in Moscow’s main cathedral, mingled with Brooke Shields and the son of a billionaire at the Watermill Center benefit held by director Robert Wilson.

    Since being released under an ‘amnesty’ from Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2013, the activist now devotes much of her time to raising awareness to prison conditions in her native country.

    However, she has also become a regular at high society gatherings around the world, such as the Hamptons event on July 25.

    The event, where access to cocktail hour cost $650 and ‘distinguished benefactor’ tables go for $50,000, featured performance art and drinks made with George Clooney’s tequila Casamigos.

    Fashion designers and guests such Alexander Soros, son of billionaire George, were in attendance, according to Page Six.

    The event, which raised almost $2million, featured various performers in various states of undress, such as a naked man covered in paint and a scantily clad couple looking at each other in side a giant apple.

    Tolokonnikova, who attended with husband Pyotr Verzilov, was approached by a photographer and said, ‘It’s not a big deal for me’, saying that maybe the cameraman wanted to take her picture because she had recently changed her hairstyle.
    Some were surprised to see Tolokonnikova at the ritzy party held in the woods outside the Watermill Center.

    ‘The Hamptons isn’t exactly known for its emphasis on social commentary,’ one reporter said, according to Artnet.

    The Russian activist, who met with internationally renowned figures such as Marina Abramovic shortly after her release from prison, told Forbes that she was staying at a friend’s house nearby.

    When asked to compare the ‘one per cent’ in Russia and the US, Tolokonnikova and Verzilov said that Moscow’s wealthiest are different from the America’s because they are ‘friends of Putin.’

    She has been outspoken in her activism, writing the ‘Pussy Riot column’ for Vice.com, posting on social media and even being arrested at a Moscow protest in June for sewing a Russian flag while wearing a convict uniform.

    She released an English-language music video about Eric Garner earlier this year and has recently called the deaths of prisons in her home country ‘Russian ebola’.

    Her normally active Twitter account was silent in the days surrounding the Hamptons gala.

    Tolokonnikova was also seen mingling with celebrities such as Uma Thurman at the Freedom For All benefit at the Standard High Line hotel in Manhattan this May.
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    Hell yeah! That’s what I call a real “activism”! Surely, this will show this Putin… something!

    There is only thing that I’m really disappointed with concerning this article. Tolokonnikova “rose to fame” well before her “punk sermon” – it was after an orgy in St.Pete’s museum. Shame on you, Daily Mail! You have standards to uphold and now you are ommiting this crucial detail?!

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, indeed; her former contemporaries in the performance-art world must look at the new Nadya in her posh gowns and photographers rushing to snap her every time she gets a haircut, and say “You go, Nadya”. And it certainly lends you credibility when you’re talking about starving and being beaten in prison when you’re seated at the $50,000.00 table drinking George Clooney tequila in The Hamptons. Play that funky music, White Girl.

    • Jen says:

      Damn! In that Daily Mail article, there was a picture of Tolok with Brooke Shields and Sierra Casady of the pop-singing sister act CocoRosie. I had been thinking of listening to one of CocoRosie’s albums. Well, that band’s off my to-listen-to list now.

    • astabada says:

      I might be wrong (as usual), but it seems to me that our dear Nadezhda has evolved very much since her times as a punk artist.

      That, or maybe she never understood the meaning of punk.

      Anyway, would Sid Vicious sit at a $50000 table with Alexander Soros if he were alive today?

      • marknesop says:

        The main reason she and Verzilov have stayed together is because they are as alike as two peas in a pod – vain, spoiled and self-centered. The west would understand Saakashvili’s appointment as Governor of Odessa solely for the irritation it would create in Moscow, because it is just the same, making a heroine out of such a twit as Tolokonnikova.

      • marknesop says:

        I think donning the mask of punk and dabbling in “performance art” was just a vehicle to get her where she had always wanted to be. She is at heart a liberal like those she pretended to despise in favour of the harder-edged “dissident”. But there is something in her that craves destruction and revolution nonetheless – not out of a compelling social conscience, but because they are exciting.

  23. Northern Star says:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/08/russia-ukraine-conflict-minsk-ceasefire-passports/400505/?utm_source=yahoo

    After Odessa and Luhansk…Russia chose ‘half measures’…shoulda’ annexed and/or invaded.. Fuck NATO and USA…

  24. bolasete says:

    daily i review articles on zerohedge, full of doom and gloom. unfortunately they are written by ron paul types, not even socialists, let alone communists. the way i see it a crash really is coming but the ones calling the shots are not stupid: they want a crash that will demand/justify their draconian repressive and warmaking moves. (what i find amazing – given my slant – is the large number of smart, knowledgeable people who must understand yet go along with it, like your immortal cyborg comment: why aren’t these people moving to tropical isles?) my point being that analysis of armageddon and calling to account the enemy is for the future. ignore the provocateurs! he’s not worth the increased bp of your pddynt.

    • astabada says:

      I might well have hallucinations, but isn’t that a Swastika on the side of the ship, a couple of meters above the water and below the word “MISTRAL”?

    • marknesop says:

      I wonder who will be responsible financially and physically for removing the Russian equipment and returning it. That won’t be cheap. If it’s France, the resulting Russia-free ship won’t be worth much of anything and a buyer would only take them out of pity, although I could see the USA buying them out of spite in much the same playground behavior that has resulted in Saakashvili being Governor of Odessa.

  25. yalensis says:

    Saker has interesting piece about the attempted alliance between Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Russian fascist groups and individuals.

    This was in reference to the July 25 demonstration of Right Sektor, Azov, et al, in support of Russian “political prisoners”.

    A new group which promotes this “nationalist internationale” calls itself “Petr i Mazepa”, they favor a reconciliation between Ukrainian and Russian fascists, and claim to represent “Russian nationalists” who also respect “Ukrainian nationalists”.

    Saker goes on to discuss how the annual “Russian March” (of Russian nationalists, on 4 November) has a majority which is pro-Ukrainian junta.

    This is, they sided with Ukrainian Junta against Novorossiya. There is also a video of that Russian March, which shows that the majority of the parties taking part in it, had an anti-Novorossiyan position . But that fact is not very rare position: one of the organizers of Russian March, Denis Tyukin, said in 2014 that “ all Russian nationalist youth is supporting Ukraine ”. Tyukin, member of the National-Socialist party “Russkie” had been also in the demonstration of 25th of July in Kiev (image below).

    And it is not only Tykin, the head of the Russkie movement, Dmitry Dyomushkin, has called in the past for a “Slavic March” in Ukraine to express support for Ukrainian nationalists .

    This is interesting development, because it shows that a goodly segment of the Russian nationalist right, just like the liberals, are flocking to see Ukraine as their preferred model of nation-building!

  26. yalensis says:

    Members of U.S. Congress in Kiev today, expressing their fervent support for the Kiev junta, while not forgetting to mix metaphors as much as humanly possible.

    Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee:
    Congressman Veasey. Well, obviously, we want to see Ukraine push back the separatists. We believe that we want them to be successful in Crimea obviously and want to be supportive as much as we possibly can. On this trip we met with officials here in our U.S. Embassy. We also met with government officials and it’s very important to us. We want to see Ukraine whole.

    Q: What are the next steps to support Ukraine for the International Tribunal, [MH]17 air crash investigation?

    [Demoratic Party] Leader [Nancy] Pelosi. Well, I think it was said very well when they said – when Russia vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution that it was – that would make one suspicious or ask the question ‘why?’ Why would there not be the interest of everyone on an organization called the Security Council of the United Nations to have an investigation that would lead to the truth? And that’s what people need to hear: the truth. And that’s what’s so important – taking us back to here. This is about shedding light about the angels, the heroes and the Heavenly Hundred – identified in so many ways for their courage to shed light on the need for more transparency and more light here.

    • Fern says:

      One of the first thoughts that struck me when I listened to the infamous Nuland/Pyatt tape (Vicky’s f**k the EU moment) was ‘what language are these people speaking?’ There was barely a coherent utterance from either party. Reading the comments above from Marc Veasey and Nancy Pelosi, it seems the US Congress must select its Ukraine ‘specialists’ by excluding anyone who can form sentences.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I think this inability to form sentences has now become a common trait on both sides of the Atlantic:

        Clark Whelton

        What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness

        The decline and fall of American English, and stuff.

        I recently watched a television program in which a woman described a baby squirrel that she had found in her yard. “And he was like, you know, ‘Helloooo, what are you looking at?’ and stuff, and I’m like, you know, ‘Can I, like, pick you up?,’ and he goes, like, ‘Brrrp brrrp brrrp,’ and I’m like, you know, ‘Whoa, that is so wow!’” She rambled on, speaking in self-quotations, sound effects, and other vocabulary substitutes, punctuating her sentences with facial tics and lateral eye shifts. All the while, however, she never said anything specific about her encounter with the squirrel.

        Uh-oh. It was a classic case of Vagueness, the linguistic virus that infected spoken language in the late twentieth century. Squirrel Woman sounded like a high school junior, but she appeared to be in her mid-forties, old enough to have been an early carrier of the contagion. She might even have been a college intern in the days when Vagueness emerged from the shadows of slang and mounted an all-out assault on American English.

        My acquaintance with Vagueness began in the 1980s, that distant decade when Edward I. Koch was mayor of New York and I was writing his speeches. The mayor’s speechwriting staff was small, and I welcomed the chance to hire an intern. Applications arrived from NYU, Columbia, Pace, and the senior colleges of the City University of New York. I interviewed four or five candidates and was happily surprised. The students were articulate and well informed on civic affairs. Their writing samples were excellent. The young woman whom I selected was easy to train and a pleasure to work with. Everything went so well that I hired interns at every opportunity.

        Then came 1985.

        The first applicant was a young man from NYU. During the interview, he spiked his replies so heavily with “like” that I mentioned his frequent use of the word. He seemed confused by my comment and replied, “Well . . . like . . . yeah.” Now, nobody likes a grammar prig. All’s fair in love and language, and the American lingo is in constant motion. “You should,” for example, has been replaced by “you need to.” “No” has faded into “not really.” “I said” is now “I went.” As for “you’re welcome,” that’s long since become “no problem.” Even nasal passages are affected by fashion. Quack-talking, the rasping tones preferred by many young women today, used to be considered a misfortune.

        In 1985, I thought of “like” as a trite survivor of the hippie sixties. By itself, a little slang would not have disqualified the junior from NYU. But I was surprised to hear antique argot from a communications major looking for work in a speechwriting office, where job applicants would normally showcase their language skills. I was even more surprised when the next three candidates also laced their conversation with “like.” Most troubling was a puzzling drop in the quality of their writing samples. It took six tries, but eventually I found a student every bit as good as his predecessors. Then came 1986.

        As the interviews proceeded, it grew obvious that “like” had strengthened its grip on intern syntax. And something new had been added: “You know” had replaced “Ummm . . .” as the sentence filler of choice. The candidates seemed to be evading the chore of beginning new thoughts. They spoke in run-on sentences, which they padded by adding “and stuff” at the end. Their writing samples were terrible. It took eight tries to find a promising intern. In the spring of 1987 came the all-interrogative interview. I asked a candidate where she went to school.

        “Columbia?” she replied.

        Or asked “And you’re majoring in . . .?”

        “English?”

        All her answers sounded like questions. Several other students did the same thing, ending declarative sentences with an interrogative rise. Something odd was happening. Was it guerrilla grammar? Had college kids fallen under the spell of some mad guru of verbal chaos? I began taking notes and mailed a letter to William Safire at the New York Times, urging him to do a column on the devolution of coherent speech. Undergraduates, I said, seemed to be shifting the burden of communication from speaker to listener. Ambiguity, evasion, and body language, such as air quotes—using fingers as quotation marks to indicate clichés—were transforming college English into a coded sign language in which speakers worked hard to avoid saying anything definite. I called it Vagueness.

        By autumn 1987, the job interviews revealed that “like” was no longer a mere slang usage. It had mutated from hip preposition into the verbal milfoil that still clogs spoken English today. Vagueness was on the march. Double-clutching (“What I said was, I said . . .”) sprang into the arena. Playbacks, in which a speaker re-creates past events by narrating both sides of a conversation (“So I’m like, ‘Want to, like, see a movie?’ And he goes, ‘No way.’ And I go . . .”), made their entrance. I was baffled by what seemed to be a reversion to the idioms of childhood. And yet intern candidates were not hesitant or uncomfortable about speaking elementary school dialects in a college-level job interview. I engaged them in conversation and gradually realized that they saw Vagueness not as slang but as mainstream English. At long last, it dawned on me: Vagueness was not a campus fad or just another generational raid on proper locution. It was a coup. Linguistic rabble had stormed the grammar palace. The principles of effective speech had gone up in flames.

        In 1988, my elder daughter graduated from Vassar. During a commencement reception, I asked one of her professors if he’d noticed any change in Vassar students’ language skills. “The biggest difference,” he replied, “is that by the time today’s students arrive on campus, they’ve been juvenilized. You can hear it in the way they talk. There seems to be a reduced capacity for abstract thought.” He went on to say that immature speech patterns used to be drummed out of kids in ninth grade. “Today, whatever way kids communicate seems to be fine with their high school teachers.”

        Where, I wonder, did Vagueness begin? It must have originated before the 1980s. “Like” has a long and scruffy pedigree: in the 1970s, it was a mainstay of Valspeak, the frequently ridiculed but highly contagious “Valley Girl” dialect of suburban Los Angeles, and even in 1964, the film Paris When It Sizzles lampooned the word’s overuse. All the way back in 1951, Holden Caulfield spoke proto-Vagueness (“I sort of landed on my side . . . my arm sort of hurt”), complete with double-clutching (“Finally, what I decided I’d do, I decided I’d . . .”) and demonstrative adjectives used as indefinite articles (“I felt sort of hungry so I went in this drugstore . . .”).

        Is Vagueness simply an unexplainable descent into nonsense? Did Vagueness begin as an antidote to the demands of political correctness in the classroom, a way of sidestepping the danger of speaking forbidden ideas? Does Vagueness offer an undereducated generation a technique for camouflaging a lack of knowledge?

        In 1991, I visited the small town of Bridgton, Maine, on the evening that the residents of Cumberland County gathered to welcome their local National Guard unit home from the Gulf War. It was a stirring moment. Escorted by the lights and sirens of two dozen fire engines from surrounding towns, the soldiers marched down Main Street. I was standing near the end of the parade and looked around expectantly for a platform, podium, or microphone. But there were to be no brief remarks of commendation by a mayor or commanding officer. There was to be no pastoral prayer of thanks for the safe return of the troops. Instead, the soldiers quickly dispersed. The fire engines rumbled away. The crowd went home. A few minutes later, Main Street stood empty.

        Apparently there was, like, nothing to say.

        Clark Whelton was a speechwriter for New York City mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani.

        —————————————————————————————————————-

        There’s, like, a young Russian woman whom I work with, like, and, like you know, she’s been to America, like, and all the damn time when she’s speaking English, like, she says “like”, like you know what I mean.

        • Jen says:

          Is this, y’know, infantilised language that, uh, Clark Whelton’s rant is kind of about sorta like what, y’know, George, uh, Orwell called, like, Duckspeak in “1984”?

    • Northern Star says:

      Marc Veasey:
      Lackey clown tool of USA fascists…Better to be a good negro than risk becoming a dead (PTB assassinated) Black man….e.g MLK

    • marknesop says:

      I see. No goal should be so sacred as the one of “keeping Ukraine whole”. But in dozens upon dozens of other examples, the USA has been enthusiastically behind the breakup of countries which resulted in the carving out of pro-western enclaves, and in fact hopes for Russia that it will be broken up into ethnic states. Yep, I believe that.

      And I actually would have expected better from Nancy Pelosi – just as Kirill suggested, she is propagating the myth that Russia vetoing the tribunal means there will not be an investigation that leads to the truth. I personally think that is hopeless now anyway, the west is determined to whitewash Ukraine’s role in it, but such investigations as there are going to be are proceeding unimpeded. How could anyone say anything so blatantly stupid in public? Russia simply refused to agree to accept the UN’s verdict and the UN’s awarding of punishment for it. After being told by the UN to quit whining after the attack on its Embassy in Kiev by Ukrainians, I think Russia is quite realistic on the issue of what it might expect in the way of fair treatment from the UN.

  27. Warren says:

    Streamed live on 5 Aug 2015
    After more than a decade fighting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Army is shifting its focus to larger, more complex, and more dangerous global threats. As such, the army conducted Operation Dragon Spear — its largest airborne assault exercise in more than a decade — to test and demonstrate its ability to deliver a significant ground combat force from the air in a major conflict, and then hold whatever it captures.

    Can the US Army Still Fight as a Heavyweight? http://bit.ly/1VZKhxL

    Check Out the War Games Playlist: http://bit.ly/1SJ4sB2

    The Future of Amphibious Warfare: http://bit.ly/1gHJH8a

    The Special Ops Olympics: http://bit.ly/1K2dcIr

    Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News

    Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com

    Follow VICE News here:
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicenews
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    More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideos

  28. Moscow Exile says:

    They’re Ukrainian Army, by the way.

    Only the daft Ukrainians would march in high heels.

    Russian army women are much wiser as regards foootwear the use of:

    That parade was in St.Petersburg.

    I suppose they are all willing to do tricks for 5 bucks as well.

    • marknesop says:

      Any time there is broad-based nostalgia for ThatJ to be restored to his former white-supremacist Occidental-Observer-hyping glory, please let me know. In the interim, I have been manually deleting all his comments. It’s quite a lot of extra work for me, since – as he pointed out in an early missive which referred to et Al and Tim Owen as “computer illiterates” – there is no realistic way to implement a ban against a dynamic email address, as it simply changes a letter or number and presto! it’s a different address. This work is made even harder when other commenters engage with him in conversation, because then I have to find and delete all those comments as well. Like this one, which I assume refers to the theme that Russian Women Are All Prostitutes, or something to that effect, I really didn’t read it in detail. But since it is not a reply to anyone, I don’t know that for sure, so it’s kind of sitting out there by itself, a non-sequitur. The extra work is what made me give in in the end last time. As it is, his posts occasionally remain up for several hours, because I’m not actually on the blog all the time and I also have to sleep from time to time. But if people are missing him, it’s a lot less work for me. Just be aware it would be all on his terms – a couple of posts of timely links followed by a lengthy rant on how niggers have little skulls which prevent them from ever being as intelligent as white men and immigrants are the flotsam of the globe and the Jooooooz are conspiring to make us all slaves, punctuated by occasional lengthy dissertations from the Occidental Observer and other white-supremacist publications – who knows, maybe the occasional treat from StormFront? Just let me know.

      • yalensis says:

        I hear you, Mark!
        For my part, I pledge a vow of non-responsiveness, even when a pungent retort is burning on my pen.

        (Actually, in recent days I have been mostly phoning it in with him and just responding with the bare minimum cryptic acronyms; but I pledge to stop doing even that. Tempting though it be)

      • Phil K says:

        Mark, I really appreciate this site and the work you do to keep it running. I don’t have any advice for you to do this or that. I simply ignored the guy – at least here, as opposed to, say, Moon of Alabama, the poster’s name is at the top of the post instead of at the bottom. So when I saw his name, I simply scrolled down past the big-nose-Jew cartoons and the like, and all the replies.

        If I had my own blog, I’d probably be going back and forth in my mind between thinking I should, or that I shouldn’t worry about comments. On the one hand, there’s the idea that, as Anil Dash said, “if your comment section is full of assholes, it’s your fault”. On the other hand, there’s that famous cartoon where the guy won’t join his wife in bed, because “someone is WRONG on the internet!”

        I saw a discussion on a blog somewhere, maybe naked capitalism, about a blogging platform or tool that allowed admins to put annoying users into a mode where they saw their own comments, but nobody else saw them. I’m sorry I don’t remember anything more about it than the functionality, not even what it’s called, but it sounds as if something like that could reduce your workload.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      As a result of ThatJ’s absence, the above comment from me is now hanging in the air.

      In short, the above mentioned person posted a clip showing drag strip racing in the Donbass and opined that the women in the clip who were wearing miniskirts were probably “hookers”.

      In response I queried why the wearing of miniskirts by some women in the clip led him to conclude that they were prostitutes and asked if, using the same reasoning, he considered these women (below) to be whores as well:

      I further pointed out that the women parading (above) were members of the Ukrainian army who, strangely enough, believed that marching on parade wearing high-heel shoes was practical.

      I also queried the activities of the photographer in the right foreground. Perhaps the mini-skirted Ukrainians are not wearing panties?

      I then followed up by posting the picture further above that shows Russian army women parading in St.Petersburg this past Victory Day. Those women are wearing “sensible” shoes on parade, all identical and, therefore, very likely army issue, unlike the various high-heels that the Ukrainian army women are wearing and which are, very likely, their own shoes.

      The Russian army women are not wearing miniskirts but, I should imagine, regulation, knee length skirts, so they could not possibly be prostitutes, could they?

    • Northern Star says:

      Ummm..Whatever F’n Army…those women are waaaaay hot…!!!!!!!! Damn!!!!!!

    • marknesop says:

      Another interesting article from the same site deals with the Republican candidate field. It’s intentionally comical, but one passage stands out, for me, because it perfectly encapsulates how the entire media arm of a country could be directed toward reshaping the reality of what happened to MH-17.

      “Also, there was Iran-Contra.

      Imagine if Barack Obama had been secretly selling missiles to Iran. The evidence against Reagan mounted until he had to go on television and say, “A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.”

      That’s astonishing. The president admitted not merely that he preferred to live in his imaginary world but also that he was capable of doing so.”

      • Jen says:

        Ronald Reagan at least had the excuse of having had Alzheimer’s, which probably set in either some time after John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on him in 1981 or the colon operations he had in 1985.
        http://www.doctorzebra.com/prez/g40.htm

        There has been talk across Internet medical websites that being under general anaesthesia can bring on dementia. In Reagan’s case, if the dementia was very gradual in its progress and was caused in part by the operations he had to have, it could have been put down to forgetfulness or layers of people shielding the President from information they didn’t want him to see.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3034231/

        Interesting thing is that as a sports broadcaster and then later as a B-grade actor, Regan would have needed at least a very good if not excellent memory to have got as far as he did in those careers. Quantity, not quality, of product characterises the careers of B-grade performers. Sports broadcasters need almost instant recall of obscure facts and statistics at the very moment they are needed while they are watching and talking about the action in front of them.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          This Aussie cricket commentator has his eye more on mini-skirted women at an Old Trafford test match, Manchester, rather than on the England captain:

          They must have been “hookers”.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Believe it or not, there’s an MCC here – the Moscow Cricket Club – which is the board of control for cricket in Russia.

            A certain person would blow his top, though, if he saw the MCC (Russia) Board of Control members:

            Moscow Cricket Club (MCC)

          • Jen says:

            Aussie by citizenship, not by birth or upbringing. The South African-born commentator was once captain of the English cricket team. I did see Shane Warne in that video though and he could have been eyeing off the lasses as well.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              And he’s brown bread an’ all! Never knew that. He toss-tailed over 2 years ago. That’s what comes of living in the Empire of Evil with its Putin controlled press. They only let you know here what they want you to know.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Reagan appeared to me to be in a befuddled state for his entire presidency but deteriorating significantly in his 2nd term. I think that his acting experience allowed him to be on autopilot even as his mental faculties were grossly diminished. And this for a guy who was never particularly bright.

          There was a scene from the documentary “Inside Job” that showed Reagan in a “candid” moment where his dementia was clearly evident. This does go to show that the US President is at best a COO and at worst (and perhaps most typically) simply a figure head.

        • Patient Observer says:

          There has been various articles of the effects of pumps used to assist blood circulation during open heart surgery. One effect from these pumps is the creation of very small blood clots, some of which apparently become lodged in capillaries in the brain. This results in mini-strokes that affect random areas of the brain. If Reagan were placed on such a pump for any of his operations then he may have suffered similarly. This effects would be in addition to the adverse effects from anesthesia.

          Regarding big-time sportscasters, they seem to generally rely on someone off-camera to provide the obscure, off-beat- tidbits of sports trivia and to provide even play-by-play info such as yards-gained, who made the tackle, etc. They obviously need to have a great deal of familiarity with sports terminology, player’s names etc. Their main job is to be smooth, authoritative sounding and to manage time for commercial breaks, the color guy (not sure what he does) and other sidebars to the sporting event – sort of what passes for a US politician in that regard.

          • marknesop says:

            In his autobio, “A Reporter’s Life” Walter Cronkite tells a great story about being a sportscaster for some podunk ball game: let me see if I can find it.

            Yeah, here it is; this is the late 1960’s, Kansas City, a tiny radio station called KCMO. Cronkite remarks that his grandparents lived less than a mile from the transmitter, and had difficulty picking it up, or perhaps that’s just what they told him. As the entire sports department, he went under the pseudonym “Walter Wilcox”. I’ll let him explain the next bit – please don’t sue me for copyright infringement, Walter: “As Walter Wilcox I was also the sports department. Here we did make something of a splash locally. We subscribed to a quite remarkable service supplied by Western Union. Any radio station could purchase virtually any college football game that the networks weren’t broadcasting. Western Union sent a lone telegraph operator to the game’s press box, and from there he tapped out in Morse code a running report on the game.

            I never figured out where Western Union got all these football-knowledgeable operators. But they were good. They sent in their play-by-play reports in a tightly abbreviated form. In the radio studio at the receiving end, another Western Union operator translated the Morse code and typed out the cryptic message. It might read something like ‘Brown 3 LT Smith.’ We play-by-play announcers then let our imaginations run. My report on this play, for instance, would go something like, ‘So, the ball’s on the Trojans’ 43, second and eight. Notre Dame’s back in the huddle. They break. It’s a shift to the left. A handoff to Brown, who hits a solid wall there. He didn’t make much on that attempt to get back through that hole at left tackle. Maybe a yard or two. They’re coming out of that pileup. It looks like Eddie Smith made the tackle. That boy is having some game today. Notre Dame picked up two – well, it looks like three yards on the play. So Notre Dame’s on Southern Cal’s 40 – third and five.”

            So, he goes on to describe a critical Notre Dame – Southern Cal game, in which the wire went down in the middle of the game. No information coming in, and the time is stretching out too long for a time-out or player substitution…what to do? Walter Wilcox fakes it. He knows he can’t let either team get inside the other team’s twenty-yard line, because a play of that magnitude will be reported in the next day’s papers and expose his deception. So he just moves them up and down the field in small increments, and hopes for the best.

            The wire was down for a half-hour. When it came back on, the Western union man fired him a quick update: Southern Cal had scored. But when the wire came back up, Walter Wilcox had Notre Dame with the ball. He now had to invent getting the ball back in Southern Cal’s possession, and down the field for the score that had already happened during the half-hour in the dead zone.

            There was another twist to that story, considering that Ronald Reagan has come up a time or two in this thread: Walter? “About the same time I was doing football at KCMO, there was a fellow doing telegraph baseball reports in Des Moines. His name was Ronald Reagan. Many years later, at some occasion at the White House, President Reagan and I were exchanging stories and I told him of my long game.

            A year or so after that, I was chatting with some group about that Trojan-Irish broadcast, and one of my listeners said ‘Hey, you know I was at the White House a couple of weeks ago, and President Reagan tells a story just like that, about having to fill in when the wire went down during a baseball broadcast.’ I won’t say the President of the United States stole my story, but…”

            Another very good book, I recommend it. If you pick it up somewhere, that story starts on page 55. I keep meaning to look through it for a particular passage I remember seeing, in which Cronkite recounts a visit to Syria. That was from a time when journalists were a little more independent, and were not afraid to say “This smells like shit” if they found some shit in their press kit. Or so brainwashed that they were convinced freedom and democracy required them to lie non-stop. Anyway, he quite candidly recounts that it was nothing like he had been told, and that Jews in particular were in no way visibly discriminated against (I guess that was an editorial slant at the time) and in fact lived cheek by jowl with their Arab neighbours in at least peace if not actual pleasant harmony.

            Sadly, though, Cronkite had no time at all for the Russians, made it plain they were America’s enemy and regarded them as a cold, cheerless and duplicitous people. I find it hard to believe they were so different then to what they are now, and put most of that down to preconceived notions from Cronkite’s cold-war era.

            • Patient Observer says:

              The Russians (and even more so the Serbs) will always be at the bottom of the barrel. Cronkite was a cold war warrior although he did seem to have some humanity about him. I remember the news broadcast when he voiced doubts over the Vietnam war – I was thrilled and regarded it as a sign of his great wisdom. It was more likely that it was simply the opening moves of a faction that saw Vietnam as a hopeless effort and that the cold war effort would be better served with other strategies.

              Reagan was fond of telling a story about a WW II bomber pilot choosing to stay on his burning aircraft rather than bailing out in order to comfort a mortally wounded crew member.

              http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=41706

              And with more detail:

              http://www.snopes.com/glurge/military/ridedown.asp

              Reagan seemed to show little regard of what was real and what was fantasy – it was only the script that counted and what the audience wanted to hear or more precisely what would make him look good to that audience.

              Reagan was a script-reading moron who was at the right place at the right time.

              • marknesop says:

                There’s a lot of good stuff in that book; here’s Cronkite at Nuremberg: “Shortly I would be in the presence of Mussert’s bosses. That fall, the Allies put on trial in Nuremberg the top officials, civilian and military, of the Nazi regime.

                There they sat in the dock before eight judges; two each from Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States – twenty-one of the archvillains of our time, or perhaps of any time. Twenty-one of them, side by side, sullying for all time, as surely as would atomic waste, the 250 square feet they occupied.

                I wanted to spit on them. I don’t recall that it had ever occurred to me to spit on anyone before.”

                Mercifully for Cronkite, he died in 2009, not living to see the country he loved loving up to the Nazis in the present Kiev regime and the “volunteer battalions” from West Ukraine – did not live to see the United States fervently declare its unconditional support for a government that features an avowed Nazi as special assistant to the Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

                Here he is in Grenada – Jeez, that guy was everywhere: “Restricted access kept newsmen from correcting many false impressions that the government put out about Grenada, some of which still color the public’s memory. We were told that there were 1,100 Cubans on the island, all ‘well-trained professional soldiers’, preparing to take it over. Later officials admitted there were under 800 Cubans there, only 100 of them combatants.

                We were first told that the American students in Grenada were in danger of being taken hostage and that the airport had been closed by the Communists so they couldn’t fly out. We later learned that the airport was open, and, for what it was worth, the Grenadians and the Cubans had assured the United States that the students were free to leave at any time.

                We were first told that because our forces had acted with surgical precision, there were no civilian casualties. It was later revealed that a U.S. Navy plane accidentally bombed a mental hospital, killing at least 17 persons. And so on.

                With this record of misinformation perpetrated by the Reagan administration, we are entitled to harbor other doubts. For instance, to back its claim of Cuba’s military intentions, our military, when it finally let correspondents into Grenada, three days after the invasion, showed the newspeople a warehouse at the airport filled with boxes of Soviet-made armaments.

                There is no evidence that I know of to suggest that this was anything other than what our military said it was. But for three days huge Air Force transport planes had shuttled to the island from Barbados and the United States in far greater numbers than resupply of our forces would seem to have demanded.

                Is it possible – is it just possible – that our forces actually had not found evidence of heavy Cuban military activity, and so had planted it there for the benefit of the correspondents in order to justify the invasion?

                Now, that is far-fetched – I hope. I really don’t want to believe that our government could have been that Machiavellian. But historians in the future might well raise that possibility, and there is no independent information to disprove it, such as that which might have been supplied if our free press had been able to attest that the arms really were there when our troops first arrived. Thus is illustrated the kind of mischief, of the birth of rumor, that a lack of trust – and a lack of evidence collected by a free press – invites”.

                That’s not just empty bravado – Cronkite seemed to think the press owed it to the readers to be unafraid, or at least to control its fear to the point that it could go in with the first wave, and devil take the hindmost. When he did a story on bomber crews in WWII, he flew with a bomber crew and manned an AA gun, and – according to him – “fired at every German fighter I saw”. We still see examples of courage under fire by the press, but all too often scurrilous opinion pieces are compiled by lazy dickwads who are not even in the country, and in Luke Harding’s case he doesn’t even make them up himself.

                Was there something about the Cuban army that suggests they are so slow-witted that they would have a warehouse full of arms and only 100 soldiers on the island? There weren’t even enough to properly secure that much hardware, let alone meet an invasion force. Why would they set themselves up for failure that way? Would any other army do that? Especially given its ideal logistics location?

                For all his personal courage and integrity, which are not in doubt, Cronkite’s faith in the U.S. government’s claims to the same values was childlike and sort of touching. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

    • Patient Observer says:

      I think that most of the free world has marked the 70th anniversary of the first nuclear attack on Japan and not just Hiroshima. BTW,I think that the media prefers the term “atomic bomb” as a quaint and not quite so threatening phrase relative to “nuclear attack”. This article touches on one reason for the aforementioned nuclear attack:
      http://russia-insider.com/en/real-reason-us-dropped-bomb-japan/ri9141
      Other reasons may include:
      – a great opportunity to study the effects of initial nuclear radiation and radiation from fallout on unprotected humans of all ages;
      – an opportunity to study the effects of blast and intense thermal radiation on various structures. I believe that Hiroshima was selected as it was not yet damaged by conventional bombing thus represented a pristine lab specimen. BTW, IIRC the aim point was a city park perhaps because it may be easily discernible in the bomb-sight or because it was close to the city center.
      – a nice revenge for the attack on Pearl Harbor – a tiny bit disproportionate but hey, you know – accumulated interest
      – adding to the article linked above – a warning to the Soviets that the US had no qualms about inflicting unprecedented causalities (qualitative and quantitative) to civilian populations.

      Most US military leaders were against the use of nuclear weapons against Japan. The reasons ranged from “no military necessity” to “we would be regarded as war criminals and barbarians”. The NYT however had a slightly different take characterizing the nuclear attack as “the bomb that saved a million lives”. I believe that this may represent the first reference to “humanitarian bombing” in the mass media.

      A few useful links:
      http://www.rt.com/op-edge/311742-atomic-bomb-japan-anniversary/
      http://www.rt.com/politics/311657-duma-chief-urges-international-tribunal/

      If the US can justify a nuclear attack on two cities in a defeated nation then it is capable of any level of barbarity and evil. And, we have had 70 years to slip deeper into this sort of insanity, Would the US/Anglo empire launch an unprovoked nuclear war? In my view, yes without a doubt if it thought its leadership would survive and prevail over the devastated planet and hundreds of millions of not billions of deaths.

  29. Warren says:

    Published on 2 Jul 2015
    GLOBSEC 2015 City Talks, Friday 1, Heineken Tower Stage Bratislava

    Welcoming Remarks by Róbert Vass and Ivo Nesrovnal
    Russia and the West (held as the Oxford Style Debate)

    Nik Gowing, Edward Lucas, George Friedman, Ivan Timofeev, Evgeny Nadorshin

  30. yalensis says:

    This doesn’t make any sense!
    American State Department accuses Russia of not doing enough to help them (=’Muricans) fight Islamic state (IGIL=ISIS=ISIL=whatever).
    State Department spokesperson Mark Toner, who looks like a barely-resuscitated zombie IMHO, chides Russia for not being engaged enough in the struggle against Islamic extremism.

    [yalensis: If I was Russian government, I would respond thusly: “Jesus H. Christ what do you want from me? You want me to fight YOU? What is this, the fight club? I should fight YOU and bleed so that YOU can get your rocks off? You creepy zombie-looking fellow…. and by the way, this is highly illogical…..”]

    • james@wpc says:

      It does make a lot of sense from a psychopathic point of view. Psychopaths do not suffer from the effects of cognitive dissonance that we do. When faced with contradictions, hypocrisy and lies, we normal human beings suffer physiological discomfort and mental confusion. Psychopaths know that it weakens us and use the reversal of reality (if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one) as a weapon against us.

      This is especially effective when they know that we know that they are lying. When they can get a response like Yalensis’ above, they laugh because they have direct evidence that they are causing internal distress. Mission Accomplished.

      To observe this in action, watch RT’s Crosstalk when Peter Lavelle has a neocon think tank representative on. He (and it is usually a ‘he’) will reverse the truth without batting an eyelid. This then sends Peter and the other guests into animated protests. Meanwhile, the neocon sits there placidly and you may even detect a little smile – read smirk – on his face, confident that the others do not understand how he is controlling them.

      Of course, once you see that the ‘big lie’ and the hypocrisy are signs of psychopathy and you know what psychopathy involves, they can no longer control you.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        That’s what Karl of Lemberg did, wasn’t it? – he revealed the innate weakness of the Kremlin Stooge contributors and others of their ilk.

        What magnificent intellectual power the likes of Karl have!

      • yalensis says:

        That was how Curt Doolittle controlled us.
        He had us at “hello”, especially Mark.
        He completely controlled the thread and had us all thrashing like lemmings, under the merciless lash of his wit.

        (…)

        [I jest – Curt was a dork, who took a quick powder after we discovered that he was lying about all the college degrees he had! – tee hee….]

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Curt!

          I said Karl above.

          I meant Kurt of Lemberg.

        • Jen says:

          Does anyone know if Curt received a medal, a passport and two big sets of hugs and kisses personally from the Great Helmsman Petro Porkyshenko himself?

          • marknesop says:

            Surprisingly, I do not follow Curt’s blog or stay abreast of happenings in his life, so I don’t know. But we did not experience a big surge of traffic following the forecast date of his great exposé on How To Crush Russophile Putin-Loving Blogs, even though he promised we would be the feature attraction, so I must assume his actual influence is…somewhat less than he imagines it to be. I likewise have not heard of any new software company in Kiev/Lviv taking off like a rocket, but I also do not follow business news much so I may have missed it. Despite his abrasive personality, Curt appears to be deliriously happy with his life whether it is real or imaginary, so we should all just be glad for him.

    • marknesop says:

      Incredible. The USA assumes unto itself the freedom to break any law so long as doing so allows it to achieve its objective. Having been frustrated in its desire to simply go in and bomb Syria until Assad submitted, it created an armed opposition to the armed opposition it had already created against Assad, then announced smugly that it would defend the opposition from the opposition, and if government forces got in the way, well, that’d just be too bad for them. Pilots do not know shit about what’s going on on the ground, they just bomb targets they are told to bomb, so the people who always wanted to get Assad and remove him are in charge of assigning bombing targets in Syria. How is this in any way legal? It’s not, is the short answer, but the USA has gone completely rogue and recognizes no authority but its own needs and desires.

      Russia should announce that it will be delivering the S-400 system to Syria so that Syria can “defend itself”, and that anyone who fires upon those delivering the systems will receive return fire, while once the system is in place, anyone who attacks government forces may be shot down. Assad has a marked advantage in this conflict, in that everybody is the enemy. He doesn’t have any identification problems.

      • Tim Owen says:

        An eye opening series of interviews with whistle-blower Thomas Drake discussing how National Security is the religion of the deep state:

        http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14393

        He has some chilling things to say.

      • james@wpc says:

        “Russia should announce that it will be delivering the S-400 system to Syria so that Syria can “defend itself”, and that anyone who fires upon those delivering the systems will receive return fire, while once the system is in place, anyone who attacks government forces may be shot down. Assad has a marked advantage in this conflict, in that everybody is the enemy. He doesn’t have any identification problems.”

        I agree entirely, Mark. Assad also has the advantage of overwhelming support of the Syrian population. In that, he is in a similar position of strength as Putin. I, for the life of me, also cannot understand why Russia does not place S400 batteries in Syria.

        Russia’s position on Syria has always been that Syrians should solve their problems free from outside interference. The S400’s would go a long way towards that goal.

        My armchair view is that the Russians are playing at being a little too sophisticated for their own good. The way to defeat psychopaths is to draw them out into the light of day (or the light of truth) and not play their game in the darkness.

        • astabada says:

          I agree entirely, Mark. Assad also has the advantage of overwhelming support of the Syrian population.

          There are two points here:
          1) the support is not overwhelming. My feeling is that a significant number of Sunni Syrians are against al-Baath and al-Assad. This derives from the fact that significant numbers of Syrians are enrolled in the ranks of the rebels (up to 40%, but probably less).
          His support admittedly has grown significantly during the last three years, for several reasons.
          2) any support is liable to melt down if the USA were to start a strategic bombing campaign (euphemism for indiscriminate bombing).

          The effectiveness of Syrian air defences remains to be seen. They have been able to repel american Skyhawks and Turkish F-4’s, granted. But this does not demonstrate their ability to weather a modern, massive Wild Weasel mission (one aimed at suppressing the air defence capability itself). Probably such a mission would be preceded by a substantial cruise missile attack.

          • james@wpc says:

            “There are two points here:
            1) the support is not overwhelming. My feeling is that a significant number of Sunni Syrians are against al-Baath and al-Assad. This derives from the fact that significant numbers of Syrians are enrolled in the ranks of the rebels (up to 40%, but probably less).

            From Wikipedia, no less –
            Voter turnout in the 2014 elections (including lots of ex-pats)- 73.42%
            Votes for Assad – 88.7%
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_presidential_election,_2014#Results

            People in Kurdish and Isis controlled areas were not allowed to participate.

            His support admittedly has grown significantly during the last three years, for several reasons.
            One of those reasons is al-Assad’s unflagging resistance to the US and its proxies.

            2) any support is liable to melt down if the USA were to start a strategic bombing campaign (euphemism for indiscriminate bombing).

            This hasn’t been the pattern so far. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Do you have any sources or reasoning for asserting this conclusion?

            • Jen says:

              @ Astabada: I’d say that most of those areas in Syria (the eastern part of the country) that ISIS control are areas where Sunni Muslims and Kurdish people (and most Kurds are Sunni) are the dominant populations.

              I wouldn’t think that voting in those areas would have given results that accurately reflected what the voters really thought. For one thing, women either wouldn’t be allowed to vote or would have been too intimidated to leave their homes to vote. Voters who managed to reach any polling stations might have been forced to vote against their wishes as well. Above all, ISIS fighters would have prevented voting from taking place in the territories they control: eastern Syria under ISIS is virtually another country.

              While it may be true that a huge proportion of rebels are Syrians, we don’t know if they volunteered or if they were forcibly drafted by ISIS fighters.

            • astabada says:

              Your reply about support can easily be dismissed noting that (as you write yourself) elections were not held everywhere. The areas controlled by the Government are easily the areas where Government support is stronger. In addition, the elections you are quoting were held in the last three years, when (as I stated previously) support for al-Assad has grown steadily.

              One of those reasons is al-Assad’s unflagging resistance to the US and its proxies.

              To be honest I think that is the second most important reason. Even though the rebels have less means on the field, the Syrian citizens (regardless their political views) know very well who is behind the rebels. The steady resistance of the Government makes it look like a modern day David.
              In my opinion the most important reason is however al-Assad political discourse: he talks about reconciliation and co-existence, whereas the leaders of the opposition (including the “moderate opposition”) call daily for ethnic cleansing, extermination, holocaust (see for example here).

              Do you have any sources or reasoning for asserting this conclusion?

              Take Libya for example. People there supported al-Qaddafi, but as soon as the massive bombing campaign started, his supporters disappeared (and rightly so, because the West is known for resorting to bombing civilian targets). The Army too disappeared. I am sure most of these people regret the regime change, but they cannot express their views (but recent news show a first, weak signal that things might be changing).

              • james@wpc says:

                Astabada, you claim my contention can be easily dismissed. That’s your conclusion after providing three pieces of data that I had already mentioned: that elections weren’t held in Kurdish and ISIS controlled areas; that support for the govt was strong in the areas controlled by the Syrian govt; and that the elections were held within the last three years (2014). Yet there is no logic connecting your data with your conclusion. It is hardly an argument, never mind a refutation. I refer you to Jen’s observations regarding voting.

                You then go on to explain why the mass of Syrians support al-Assad because he is inclusive and reasonable and I agree with you but it hardly refutes anything I claimed.

                Your last paragraph sounded quite contradictory within itself when I first read it.
                “Take Libya for example. People there supported al-Qaddafi, but as soon as the massive bombing campaign started, his supporters disappeared (and rightly so, because the West is known for resorting to bombing civilian targets). The Army too disappeared. I am sure most of these people regret the regime change, but they cannot express their views (but recent news show a first, weak signal that things might be changing).

                I think you are talking about two different types of support in that paragraph. One is mental and the other is physical. Physical support will disappear when militarily overwhelmed, as happened in Libya, as you mentioned. But that does not imply the loss of mental or emotional support or the willingness to fight given a reasonable opportunity to.

                Jimmy Hoffa is reported to have said, “when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”. There is a sardonic humour in that and it makes obvious sense to a psychopath. We get this attitude from pundits continually in the media. But the reality is that peoples ‘feet’ follow and not their hearts and minds. As if you can convince someone intellectually by beating them senseless.

                You can force people to physically accept the emotionally unacceptable. But not forever. The desire and the support for something better, something just, lives on.

                • astabada says:

                  Dear james,

                  I think we agree on most things. Perhaps our disagreement is only apparent and due to my confused writing.

                  I am claiming that al-Assad mental support has increased as a result of the war. It is now strong and definitely stronger than before 2011. However there is no data available for the rebel occupied regions, therefore one cannot conclude that al-Assad’s moral support in these regions is as high as in Government held areas. If one looks at Syria’s map, there is a strong correlation between Sunni majority areas and rebel strongholds. And if you were to listen to Sunnis (admittedly not Syrian, admittedly not a representative sample) you would be shocked to discover that most of them a) follow the media which are bankrolled by the Gulf Regimes b) genuinely believe the propaganda these outlets spew.

                  If I were a detractor of the Syrian Government, I would also add that the results in Government held areas are not significant, and that the elections were fake. However I think that the results were genuine. The proof is that certain Western Governments, including if I remember correctly Australia’s, prevented refugees from voting on their territories.
                  The reason was that these people, far from the supposed coercion of the Syrian Regime, would have overwhelmingly voted for al-Assad.

                • james@wpc says:

                  I’m happy to leave it there, Astabada. It was getting a little weird for me as I found myself, in essence, arguing that there is no argument because we seem to agree (if that doesn’t sound too circular!).
                  I certainly agree with your last point regarding your reasoning why ex-pat Syrians weren’t allowed to vote in many countries.

                • marknesop says:

                  In fact, the watershed moment for Gaddafi was when his mental support disappeared as well – not so much that the people stopped believing in Gaddafi as their leader, but the moment they stopped believing there was any hope in resisting the invaders. And that was the brilliantly-engineered and unbelievably perfidious fake fall of Tripoli. Broadcast by al Jazeera, the faked events which showed the rebels celebrating in Tripoli broke the people’s will, terrified them and demoralized them, all except for the few who were actually in the immediate vicinity in the real Tripoli and could see those things weren’t really happening. And their voices would not be enough to stem the panic. I imagine the west actually thought that was a very clever way to win, one more example of western technological superiority. But in fact it was no different than driving up to the gate in tanks painted like Libyan tanks and sporting Libyan colours, and then blasting away when the gates opened. Perfidy.

                  The “victory” over Libya and the murder of Gaddafi started to fade from collective consciousness almost as soon as they occurred, one more great triumph for the forces of democracy and freedom and apple pie. They managed to take out the most inclusive and secular leader Libya ever had, a bit of a nutter sometimes with an unhealthy fascination for bright colours and fake medals, ’tis true, but overall quite a benevolent ruler, and replace him with a gaggle of Islamic-fundamentalist tribesmen who straightaway wrenched Libya into a restrictive theological orbit and undid many of Gaddafi’s inclusive reforms – the polar opposite of progress. But that’ll go up on the old Victory Wall as another great NATO triumph, and they had to cheat like crazy to win it. Look at the wonderful progressive and prosperous western-leaning market democracy they built, folks; take a good long look, Ukraine, because you’re next. Here’s unemployment. Here’s annual GDP growth (growth, ha, ha). Here’s per-capita GDP, adjusted for Purchasing Power. Seen enough?

                  Libya was the most progressive, prosperous, inclusive and secular nation in Africa. Now it’s a hellhole, circling the toilet bowl. Heck of a job, NATO.

          • marknesop says:

            The Syrian air-defense network is rated as very capable for the region, but it’s old and many of the systems have known vulnerabilities. All are susceptible to the heavy pre-attack jamming the USAF favours in its layered attacks. What Syria could use in addition to several S-400 systems is a few dedicated home-on-jam missiles, which follow the jammer signal back to its source. Ground anti-air gunnery is less effective but not to be ignored. Much of the American plan for success would rely on knowing where all the systems are, since broad-band jamming all the time interferes with their own systems, and they prefer to serve up a tailored jamming menu based on known enemy systems. Therefore, any systems that could be moved around and their locations concealed should be. A cruise-missile attack would concentrate on known infrastructure.

        • marknesop says:

          Well, the USA is looking so hard for an excuse to start a war with Russia, there’s always the risk they might seize on that. But I don’t think so – there’s no embargo on Syria at present that I’m aware of, and there’s plainly a serious air threat from a country that acknowledges it has no international mandate to attack government forces announcing it is going to attack government forces unless that governments grants them freedom to do as they wish and stays out of their way, and no legal justification for its behavior.

      • yalensis says:

        I wonder if the terrorists themselves get confused about who is who, and who is supposed to fight who? I know I would, if I was a terrorist. Which I am not.

        • marknesop says:

          That, again, is to Assad’s advantage. Everyone not in a Syrian Army uniform is the enemy. I wonder how long it will be before it occurs to the west that they should dress up in Syrian Army uniforms and assassinate him? All’s fair in love and war, and when winning means more to you than your principles and values.

    • marknesop says:

      I would just add an observation – being State Department Spokeshole must be paying pretty killer koin these days if they expect you to go up there and get shot out of the saddle like that on a daily basis for it. Honestly, don’t they prepare for these pressers at all??

      • james@wpc says:

        The gig is a stepping-stone for the Spokesholes (love the term!) Bear in mind that these spokesholes
        -have no sense of shame
        -make up reality as they go along and so have no need for facts or truth
        -are confident that they can continue to do so forever
        -because they will always be able to confuse and defeat we normal humans.
        -like any parasite, they cannot foresee the long term consequences of their own destructive behaviour including their own death and their own role in that.

        It’s all a game to them and they are the masters of the Universe. Quite mad, really.

        • marknesop says:

          I think it’s more likely they have impressed upon them, before they go out there, the importance of staying on-message and little else. Because you can see, when they are asked something they don’t know, how they attempt to build a bridge from the question they can’t answer back to The Message (“As I said, we’re bla bla bla”, as he just reiterates his previous statement in a way that suggests he’s answering the question when in fact he’s just reframing it so that what he says has nothing to do with what was just asked. But anything is better than just standing there with your mouth open. Hence the need to fill the silence with words that will lead you back on-message, where you’re comfortable.

          I wish I could take credit for “spokeshole”, but I didn’t make it up and it is a fairly well-known part of the lexicon.

  31. yalensis says:

    A Ukrainian energy expert has made a concrete prediction, this is something we can check in 10 days, if he was right or not.

    Valentin Zemliansky spoke at a press-conference in Kiev today and predicted, that Ukraine will run out of coal in 10 days.

  32. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, in Transcarpathian Ukraine, they are trying to mobilize anybody they can into the army, even wandering gypsies.

    On 5 August, 12 gypsies applied to Ukrainian army, willing to be mobilized. They were attracted, as they frankly disclosed, by the monetary inducement. Since currently they earn barely minimum wage doing whatever it is that they do.

    According to the recruitment officer, of the 12 who wanted to enlist, only two gypsies were medically fit enough for service. And of those two, only one gypsy actually had Ukrainian citizenship papers.

    Without the lucrative army job, the gypsies will have to return to their usual job, which is pounding a hammer on an anvil:

    • Terje says:

      Surely this is a more relvant clip
      Preziosilla, a young gypsy, tells the young men’s fortunes and exhorts them to enlist in the war:
      The beat of the drum… and the bustling of the battlefield stir our souls!

  33. Patient Observer says:

    A little-known sport but nevertheless impressive accomplishments and a great loss:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/sports/natalia-molchanova-champion-free-diver-is-missing-near-ibiza.html?_r=0

  34. Jen says:

    Ding dong, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has found a new job: consultant for Goldman Sachs to help the company smooth out wrinkles in its purchase of a stake in Dong Energy A/S.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-05/goldman-hires-ex-nato-chief-to-guard-1-5-billion-danish-stake

    Hope that keeps him out of mischief, temporarily at least.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s just a cookie-cutter job that keeps him bought in case they need to wheel him out as an opinion machine, which was damned nice of them since he probably would do it for free – he’s a true believer. I can’t get over how much he looks like an earless Scooby-Doo with a flat muzzle.

      Good catch!!

      • Jen says:

        No doubt Rasmussen’s job is to show Goldman Sachs how to navigate the treacherous shallows of Danish investment and taxation laws so the company can maximise its income and profit and minimise its tax and other liabilities from asset-stripping Dong A/S and leaving the company’s customers to foot the bill.

  35. yalensis says:

    You know how people were betting that Ksenia Sobchak would try to get in on the Saakashvili gravy train too?

    Well tada!
    she got a gig on a show on Ukrainian TV, Channel !+1 which is owned by Kolomoisky.

    This will be a game show, where contestants try to win cash by proving that they can do stuff which normally only professionals do.
    Ksenia will have a recurring role as a member of the jury.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      She did the same with some Georgian TV station after the 2008 war: made a contract to front a news review show in Tbilisi.

      Nothing much came of it though.

    • Jen says:

      Sounds like she;s going to be a judge on something like “Ukraine’s Got Talent”.

      • Warren says:

        For anyone interested you can sign up for pole dancing lessons at Sky Pole in Kiev. I have to say pole dancers are incredibly athletic and talented, it is no coincidence that the best pole dancers grew up practicing and training in gymnastics.

        http://skypole.com.ua/

        • marknesop says:

          The Ukrainian girl’s performance really was very athletic and required a degree of upper-body strength many women – and men, comes to that – don’t have. I’d be willing to stipulate that it is a very good workout. I just wouldn’t be able to do it because I would be laughing too hard. Oh, and I would not be able to do it as well as she did right from the start because she looks to be in considerably better shape. Just climbing a pole or a rope is very difficult for most people, and it gets harder as you get older so even if you could do it easily once, you might be surprised at how much effort it takes now. I could go up a rope like a monkey when I was at recruit school (well, I did most everything like a monkey back then), but I’ve tried it since on this contraption at the pool which is a wooden rack suspended from the ceiling, at an angle. There’s a rope so you can get from the water up to reach the first rung, and then you climb hand-over-hand at a fairly steep angle to the top dangling from the rungs by your hands. It felt like someone had tied a boiler to my legs just to get up the rope. I could reach the first rung, but that was it.

        • Northern Star says:

          C’mon girl…

        • yalensis says:

          Pole dancing is an absolutely amazing and athletic sport, which has recently achieved respectability.
          The current world champion for ladies individual is a Russian named Galina Musina.

          But the sport also has categories in men’s individual and pairs. Which is insanely difficult.
          And the costumes are also getting more elaborate and sophisticated, especially in the pairs routines.

          • marknesop says:

            I saw a similarly dramatic performance, which looked to be an equally vicious workout, on Canada Day in Vancouver featuring a pair of athletic young ladies, two sets of rings and some lengths of cloth. I’m sure you’ve seen those performances, where they do slow upside-down spins and all manner of gymnastics with one leg or arm wrapped around the cloth strip. I’ve even seen performers practicing in city parks with the cloth suspended from a tree limb.

            Yeah; here it is. It’s called “aerial silks”.

      • marknesop says:

        Oh, is that the show where the audience has guns (not strictly allowed, but everyone is afraid to enforce the law against it), and if the one they cheered for doesn’t win, they shoot the winner? I think I’ve heard about that one.

  36. yalensis says:

    And here is a very interesting interview with Pavel Gubarev, who looks like he has lost some weight and sobered up. Good for him!

    Gubarev is interviewed by journalist Valentin Filippov in Donetsk.

    Gubarev says that his new role in political life is to help form the ideology of Novorossiya statehood.
    It is an ideology which emphases people power and the Russian cultural sphere.
    To help form the ideology, Pavel has been collaborating with several noted intellectuals, and has written a book, called “The Torch of Novorossiya” (“Fakel Novorossii”).

    Pavel also says he is participating in the writing of new laws for Novorossiya. Gubarev has his own political movement, called “Free Donbass”. Up to a fourth of the deputies in the People’s Soviet of Donetsk belong either to that movement, or to the allied movement called “Donetsk Republic”.
    They do not have a majority in the Soviet, but they have influence.

    Gubarev is also working on a project to document war crimes committed by the Ukrainian army.
    They have attracted specialists in various fields such as artillery and forensics.

    On a more controversial topic, Filippov asks Gubarev what he thinks of the Minsk Accords.

    Gubarev: I wouldn’t call Minsk a victory. But I also wouldn’t call it a capitulation. For Donbass all it means was a (welcome) lowering of the amount of military clashes, artillery strikes, and fatalities among the civilian population.

    Like many people in Donbass, Gubarev wishes that the Russians had just sent in the army to restore order. But he understands why that could not happen, from an objective standpoint.

    On the state of the DPR army, Gubarev states the army is much better now than it was a year ago. It is better equipped, better trained, better disciplined, and has a “vertical” of power in place, in terms of a strict chain of command.

    The Ukrainian civil war in general, according to Gubarev, is an old-style “artillery type war”, typical of Third World countries of the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    They go on to discuss the philosophy of the “Novorossiiya” concept, and how the “Ukraine” concept became a failed state.

  37. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Catholic Church is planning to beatify Andrei Bandera. This is the first step on the path to making Andrei a Saint.
    Andrei is the father of Stepan Bandera.

    Andrei Bandera was a priest in the Ukrainian Catholic Church (=Greek Catholic). Andrei suffered martyrdom for his faith, which is why he should be canonized as a saint, according to the Ukies.

    Andrei’s martyrdom consisted of the fact, that on 22 May 1941 he was arrested by the NKVD and sent to Kiev, where on 10 July 1941 he was executed with a bullet in the back of his head.

  38. cartman says:

    Rather openly racist oped by Allysia Finley published by the Wall Street Journal:

    Living on the Edge of Putin’s Menace

    Lithuanian workers last week began dismantling the last four Soviet statues standing in this Baltic state’s capital—which since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been transformed from a depressed East European backwater into a beacon of democracy and free markets.

    The glorified monuments to Soviet students, workers, farmers and soldiers on Vilnius’s Green Bridge were erected in 1952 as homage to Communist Mother Russia. In calling for the statues’ removal, Mayor Remigijus Šimašius denounced the heroic depiction of the Soviet system as “big lies.”

    Lithuania long ago vigorously repudiated communism. Removing these few remaining Soviet relics now signals the nation’s determination not to be cowed by an imperialist Russia that poses a threat to European democracies.

    The apprehensions shared by many Lithuanians stem not just from Vladimir Putin’s incursions in Georgia and Ukraine, but from the country’s long history of Russian aggression and domination. In 1795, the Russian Empire seized most of Lithuania, which became independent again only in 1918. In 1940, the Soviets occupied Lithuania, followed by the Nazis and, in mid-1944, the Soviets again.

    Hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians were deported to Siberia. The Communist puppet government repurposed many Catholic churches and turned the 17th century church of St. Casimir in Vilnius into a museum of atheism. Majestic palaces of the former aristocracy—many of whom were shot or sent to Siberia—decayed while cheap, cramped apartment buildings were built to accommodate multigenerational families. Imagine U.S. public housing without the amenities.

    Freed from its Soviet shackles, newly democratic Lithuania developed rapidly. Grocery stores are stocked with a more diverse array of products than many in New York City. The summertime residence of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in the seaside town Palanga has been renovated into a resort. Last year Nike opened its first concept store in the Baltics in Vilnius, citing the country’s growing sports market.

    In 2004 Lithuania joined the European Union, consummating a decade of deepening economic ties. Since 2004 Lithuania’s GDP and per capita national income have roughly doubled. Its 2.9% economic growth last year outpaced nearly every country in the EU. This year Lithuania adopted the euro, which is facilitating foreign trade and investment.

    Pro-growth policies have helped nurture the economic renaissance. Lithuania’s flat 15% corporate and income-tax rates are among the lowest in Europe. Tax revenues make up 27.2% of GDP—the lowest among EU countries—compared with 45% in France. Public and private school education is financed with government vouchers.

    Lithuania also has been a full member of NATO since 2004, and thus both contributes to and benefits from NATO’s protective shield. It remains a front-line state, though, and the threat of Russian barbarians at Europe’s gates is all too real for Lithuania’s three million people as they watch Mr. Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine, a country of nearly 45 million. While the ethnic Russian population of Lithuania is relatively small—about 6%, compared with 17% in Ukraine—several hundred thousand other Russians live just outside Lithuania’s western border with Poland, in Russia’s Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad.

    Along with its NATO membership, Lithuania has other advantages. Like Ukraine, Lithuania has been dependent on Russia for energy, yet that is changing. In 2013 Lithuania derived 90% of its energy from Russia—and paid more for natural gas than any other EU state. The opening of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Lithuania’s Baltic-port city of Klaipeda last year promises to improve energy security.

    What Lithuania needs now is for Washington to approve more LNG export terminals in the U.S. Lithuania’s access to more American gas will make it harder for Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to bring economic pressure to bear as it did in Ukraine. Meantime, an electric-transmission system connecting the power grids in the Baltic countries with Poland and the rest of Europe is nearing completion.

    Lithuania is also bulking up on defense. Earlier this year the government reinstated compulsory military service for young men due to concerns about what President Dalia Grybauskaité described as “the current geopolitical environment.” This month President Grybauskaité announced further plans, with neighboring Latvia, for the “development of joint military capacities,” including the purchase of an air-defense system. She said the two countries also plan to invite Baltic NATO members Estonia and Poland to join them.

    The past 24 years represent the longest period of Lithuanian independence since the 18th century. As the American revolutionary Thomas Paine wrote, “tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered”—a truth that resonates in this free and prosperous former Soviet republic.

    Ms. Finley is an editorial writer for the Journal.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/living-on-the-edge-of-putins-menace-1437950124

    • jeremn says:

      They keep mentioning US LNG. That’s their main purpose, shift eastern Europe from dependency on Russian gas to dependency on US gas.

      One small catch. That LNG is already expensive:

      “Lithuania will pay at least 10 percent more for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from Norway than for Russian pipeline gas in 2015, a state-owned LNG importer said on Thursday.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/13/lithuania-lng-idUSL6N0T268X20141113

      But they keep banging their head against the wall, loyal doggies that they are:

      “The head of Lithuania’s heat producers calls the country’s much-lauded liquefied natural gas facility in the seaport of Klaipeda “an expensive posh store where shopping is mandatory.” To bring ‘fairness’ to the situation, Vytautas Stasiunas, President of the heat providers association insists a single LNG facility maintenance tax should be imposed – not only on major gas buyers, but on all the consumers, i.e. each Lithuanian citizen.

      The necessity for an egalitarian tax has become particularly urgent after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the state recently, reaffirming the country’s gas and power suppliers’ mandatory obligation to purchase gas from the facility, where the price is still higher than that of Gazprom.”
      http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/lithuania-lng-terminal-security-tax-23433

    • jeremn says:

      I’d hazard a guess that Finley doesn’t know that it was the Soviets who handed Vilnius to Lithuania in 1939.

      Time for them to give it back to Poland?

      • yalensis says:

        Finley is one of those Fox News bubbleheads.

      • Jen says:

        By 1795, Lithuania, or rather “Lithuania”, was not exactly an independent country. True, the Lithuanians had entered into a joint partnership with the Poles in 1386 but over time the Lithuanian dynastic family died out (and was replaced by foreign kings like Stefan Bathory who were elected by the Polish parliament) and the original Lithuanian elites were swallowed up by the Polish aristocracy. The ordinary Lithuanian peasants ended up as much forgotten and ignored by Warsaw as all the other peasants of Polish, eastern Slavic and other origins in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by the late 1700s. Not to mention the fact that Russia wasn’t entirely to blame for that Commonwealth’s demise either: Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire took their pieces of the Commonwealth as well.

    • cartman says:

      Lithuania’s new mandatory conscription is proving unpopular. Dalia Grybauskaité will succeed in driving the rest of the young people from her country, and then what will become of it?

      • Terje says:

        I vaguely remember enthusiastic news from the MSM in the mid nineties that Lithuania really wanted to import LNG from Norway, but it seems to have petered out, presumably over price. Steering Lithuania away from Russian gas has been a goalf for a long time for the Americans, it’s a shame about those market forces making Russian gas so much cheaper.
        Echoes of Ukrainian mooching:
        “In February 1993 Lithuania was forced [?] to purchase 4 billion cubic meters of gas from the St. Petersburg company Lentransgas. It was to be paid for in hard currency at the price of $82 per 1000 cubic metres. By April of 1993 the Lithuanians were having difficulty repaying and Russia threatened to cut off gas supplies. The prime minister of Lithuania Adolf Slezevicius suggested that the debt owed to Lentransgaz be balanced by Russia’s debt to Lithuania for transit and energy to Kaliningrad and a repayment for all the environmental damage caused by the Russian occupation of Lithuania.[ free gas!] This offer was rejected by Lentransgaz….
        ..On May 23 Lentransgaz halved the supply of gas to Lithuania and cut off all supplies on June 27 because the Lithuanians could not honour their loan repayments.

        Eventually the debt was swapped for assets in the gas industry.
        https://books.google.com.au/books?id=yFoDJUq4qjQC&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84&dq=lithuania+gas+crisis+1994&source=bl&ots=MJm-dygqZ9&sig=Fm5SNpnRUdM6zL8YifkJL9VYJS8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCwQ6AEwA2oVChMIlsPr7Y-XxwIVwhimCh3DmwYt#v=onepage&q=lithuania%20gas%20crisis%201994&f=false

        I would love a real history of the Baltic states that isn’t a paean to their inevitable independence. There are a lot of skeletons in that closet.

        • marknesop says:

          For local commentary, you could try “Valium Nation“, from the blogroll on the right. It’s just an archive site now, he packed it in as of January this year, but his Twitter feed looks to be still active. He lived in Latvia 9 years, so if you backtrack there are probably a lot of interesting posts although he didn’t have much to say about Latvia that was positive.

    • marknesop says:

      Bla, bla, bla – we can expect lots of pieces like this, as American media hammers relentlessly on the theme of Russian Aggression in an effort to set the stage for a NATO Article 5 intervention. Oddly enough, Lithuanians seem to be fleeing this beacon of democracy and free markets rather than flocking to it – the population decline is marked even under the enlightened reign of the poster-girl for mental stability, Dalia Grybauskaité. They’ve lost about a third of their population just since 2006.

      Just for fun, max out that graph for timespan – a lot of them don’t go back very far, but this particular one goes back to 1960. Hmmmm….population climbed steadily until…1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then it declined in almost an exact mirror image. That’s interesting – I always thought from western democratizing happy-talk that an increase in population was desirable, and evidence of growth and vigor! Turns out I was completely wrong, and a declining population is actually the hallmark of democracy and free-market beaconing. You learn something new every day. I must admit it does have the effect of ratcheting the per-capita GDP up steadily – an effect I suppose you could expect considering there are less of you every year.

      That being the case, military conscription and paying much higher gas rates will soon have them dancing with ecstasy right across the border.

  39. Terje says:

    Somewhat obscure, but still unusual in it actually getting published.
    The owner of the paper, the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, is funded by the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs, and also dabbles in funding Russian NGOs in the northern areas.

    A journalist in the BarentsObserver, a newspaper covering the Arctic areas, particularly Norway and Russia, makes a plea to the owners, that have “have declined to take the simple, necessary step of granting BarentsObserver the editorial independence it needs…..As an Arctic journalist I lament your decision not to grant BarentsObserver press freedoms that even the most poorly funded circumpolar publications enjoy in free countries, and I urge you to reconsider….

    If you, the board of the Barents Secretariat, want a mouthpiece, you can have that and be safe in the knowledge that you will never be challenged. But if you want journalism – if you want the checks and balances, truth-seeking, and careful analysis that only a free press can provide – you will have to accept that it will be beyond your control.”

    http://barentsobserver.com/en/opinion/2015/05/barentsobserver-deserves-be-free-21-05

  40. Warren says:

    Japs feared the Soviets more than the Yanks!

  41. Warren says:

    Exclusive: Quds Force commander Soleimani visited Moscow, met Russian leaders in defiance of sanctions

    The shadowy Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani recently visited Moscow to meet with senior Russian leaders, according to two Western intelligence sources, despite a travel ban and U.N. Security Council resolutions barring him from leaving Iran.

    On July 24, one week before Secretary of State John Kerry testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee and faced questions about the newly struck nuclear deal, Soleimani arrived in Moscow for meetings with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin. It was not immediately clear what the Iranian leader discussed, but the revelation comes as the United Nations and European Union arms embargo against Iran is slated to be lifted in five years as part of the comprehensive nuclear agreement announced July 14 from Vienna.

    Soleimani was first designated a terrorist and sanctioned by the U.S. in 2005 for his role as a supporter of terrorism. In October 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department tied Soleimani to the failed Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States at a popular restaurant in Washington, D.C. The Quds Force is the special forces external wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, responsible for supporting terrorist proxies across the Middle East. It reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

    Soleimani is increasingly being recognized as a key player and point person as Iranian influence in the region grows, despite assurances from Kerry and others that Soleimani and the Quds Force will continue to face sanctions from the U.S. Treasury after U.N. sanctions are lifted against Soleimani as part of the nuclear deal.

    Soleimani arrived in Moscow on Air Iran flight #5130, a commercial flight from Tehran, at 6:50 a.m. on July 24, a Friday. He left Moscow the following Sunday, July 26, at 10:25 p.m. on flight #5120, according to Western intelligence sources.

    U.N. sanctions have not yet been lifted against Iran, and Soleimani, as head of the Iranian Quds Force is sanctioned as part of Security Council Resolution 1747. He is prohibited to travel, and any country that lets him transit or travel is defying the sanctions. (Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and would have been aware of this restriction when meeting with him.)

    Soleimani has been photographed during recent battles against the Islamic State in Iraq leading troops and advising Iranian backed Shia militias, most notably in the battle for Tikrit in March.

    Related Image

    Soleimani_quds.jpgExpand / Contract
    March 8, 2015: Gen. Qassem Soleimani, left, stands at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba, Iraq. (Reuters)

    Apart from his official meetings in Moscow, Soleimani reportedly had some “fun time” built into his schedule that involved Russian entertainment.

    Outgoing U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno characterized the Iranian general in an exclusive exit interview with Fox News: “Qassem Soleimani is the one who has been exporting malign activities throughout the Middle East for some time now. He’s absolutely responsible for killing many Americans, in fact I would say the last two years I was there the majority of our casualties came from his surrogates, not Sunni or Al Qaeda.”

    Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a former Army infantry officer and Iraq war veteran, asked Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at his confirmation hearing how many Americans were killed by Iranian-backed forces under the command of Soleimani.

    “The number has been recently quoted as about 500. We weren’t always able to attribute the casualties we had to Iranian activity, although many times we suspected it was Iranian activity even though we didn’t necessarily have the forensics to support that,” Dunford said to lawmakers on July 15.

    Cotton then asked Kerry on July 29, five days after the Iranian leader’s Moscow visit, about Soleimani receiving sanctions relief.

    Kerry responded: “Under the United States’s initiative, Qassem Soleimani will never be relieved of any sanctions.”

    Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/06/exclusive-quds-force-commander-soleimani-visited-moscow-met-russian-leaders-in/

    • kirill says:

      The US and its minions are full of sh*t. This terrorist charge comes from the fact that Iran supports Hezbollah. Considering the US and NATO installation and support for the Kiev regime which is engaged in 24/7 terror shelling of Donbas residential areas (not military targets by any stretch so no claims of collateral damage stand), the stance on Hezbollah is grotesque and obscene. Hezbollah’s crime was to kick Israeli occupants out of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is not into the suicide bomber shtick that US backed Sunni militants are. None of the suicide bombing incidents in Israel have any Hezbollah connection.

    • marknesop says:

      Ahhhh….I see. The arms embargo is not due to be lifted until 5 years hence. The west plans to get 5 years worth of energy exports out of Iran, at which time it will announce that, regrettably, the embargo must remain in place for national security reasons for the time being.

      About 500 American soldiers killed by Iranians. Against, what was it, half a million Iraqi children who died as a result of American-backed sanctions? But there are a couple of mitigating factors; one, the dead children were Iraqis, and they’re Arabs. The Iranians are not, they’re Persians. So, apples and oranges, right? Then, nobody really knows the numbers, because they’re subject to “American Middle-Eastern Math” – the same figuring process in which Donald Rumsfeld announced the Iraqi resistance after America’s triumphant seizing of Baghdad amounted to “maybe a couple of thousand dead-enders”. Over the next 8 years, Americans killed each of those dead-enders at least 5 times. Quite a few more times than that, if you accept the postwar figures rather than the ones the U.S. Air Force paid analysts to come up with.

      But somehow, it’s Quds Force which is responsible for “spreading malign influence in the Middle East”, mostly against people who don’t live there and have no business there, unless you accept that they are there to spread freedom and democracy.

      Interestingly, if you read down further in that piece that starts out quoting Madeleine Albright, you will see that a document discovered by a Thomas Nagy of Georgetown University, originating with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the United States, entitled “Iraq water Treatment Vulnerabilities”, was distributed to all major Allied commands one day after the first Gulf War started.

      “Last year, Thomas Nagy of Georgetown University unearthed a Defense Intelligence Agency document entitled “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” which was circulated to all major allied commands one day after the Gulf War started. It analyzed the weaknesses of the Iraqi water treatment system, the effects of sanctions on a damaged system and the health effects of untreated water on the Iraqi populace. Mentioning that chlorine is embargoed under the sanctions, it speculates that “Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons,” something that the United States disallowed for many years.

      Combined with the fact that nearly every large water treatment plant in the country was attacked during the Gulf War, and seven out of eight dams destroyed, this suggests a deliberate targeting of the Iraqi water supply for “postwar leverage,” a concept U.S. government officials admitted was part of military planning in the Gulf War (Washington Post, 6/23/91).

      A Dow Jones search for 2000 finds only one mention of this evidence in an American paper–and that in a letter to the editor (Austin American-Statesman, 10/01/00). Subsequent documents unearthed by Nagy (The Progressive, 8/10/01) suggest that the plan to destroy water treatment, then to restrict chlorine and other necessary water treatment supplies, was done with full knowledge of the explosion of water-borne disease that would result. “There are no operational water and sewage treatment plants and the reported incidence of diarrhea is four times above normal levels,” one post-war assessment reported; “further infectious diseases will spread due to inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation,” another predicted.

      Combine this with harsh and arbitrary restrictions on medicines, the destruction of Iraq’s vaccine facilities, and the fact that, until this summer, vaccines for common infectious diseases were on the so-called “1051 list” of substances in practice banned from entering Iraq. Deliberately creating the conditions for disease and then withholding the treatment is little different morally from deliberately introducing a disease-causing organism like anthrax, but no major U.S. paper seems to have editorialized against the U.S. engaging in biological warfare–or even run a news article reporting Nagy’s evidence that it had done so.”

      Most of us have learned what, from the recent experience of the Donbas in Ukraine, about the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure including water supply and electrical power generation, so as to force the target population to surrender owing to desperation on the part of the noncombatant population? That’s right – it’s a war crime under international humanitarian law. Was the USA ever held to account for what it deliberately did to Iraq in the first Gulf War? It certainly was not – in fact, it got to take a second kick at it, although the Coalition of the Willing reflected broad distaste on the part of a few charter members, who declined to participate. Why not? well, the American press simply didn’t report it. So it never happened.

      The more you read about American performance during its wars of choice for American gain – sold under the banner of freedom and democracy, naturally – the more you shake your head in amazement when you read how Russia has a state-controlled media that follows the regime party line like good robots and whitewashes the government’s actions as predictably as the latest five-year plan.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Sickening. These are monsters devouring humanity. Here is another small sample of what Ms. Albright has done per Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Albright#cite_note-The_Prague_Post-99:

        “Allegations of hate speech against Serbs

        Albright’s involvement in the NATO bombing of Serbia […] became even more controversial when it was revealed that her investment firm, Albright Capital Management, was preparing to bid in the proposed privatization of Kosovo’s state-owned telecom and postal company, Post and Telecom of Kosovo. In an article published by the New York-based magazine Bloomberg Businessweek, it was estimated that the deal could be as large as €600 million. Serbia opposed the sale, and intended to file a lawsuit to block it, alleging that the rights of former Serbian employees were not respected.”

        Kills thousands, wreck millions of lives, hey baby, its free enterprise that would make any
        Harvard MBA proud.

      • james@wpc says:

        I’ve never quite understood why anyone would bother making an agreement with a known and habitual (if not compulsive) liar. What’s the point? Because you know they are lying with their signature.

        So if there’s no point in coming to an agreement with a liar, why negotiate at all? Besides, the only time the US wants to negotiate is when they are losing by all other means. For them, negotiating is a way of carrying on the conflict from an otherwise losing position.

        • marknesop says:

          “For them, negotiating is a way of carrying on the conflict from an otherwise losing position.”

          Precisely. The USA’s default position is that negotiation is for losers, and that winners dictate terms. It only shows willing to negotiate when it has been booted out of the winner’s circle, but still maintains some hope that it can trick its way back in. And I can’t just blame the USA for that; it’s a tossup whether it or the UK was the first to adopt that position, and other western democracies who should know better have lined up to emulate the example.

          • james@wpc says:

            It started with the British. Or more accurately, with the City of London. When those thieves made an unholy alliance with the Robber Barons in the US after the Civil War, they unleashed the perfect storm of almost continual war and duplicity on the world.

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