How’s Life At The Economist? Not Grate.

Uncle Volodya says, "That's right, Brussels - we're up to no gouda."

Uncle Volodya says, “That’s right, Brussels – we’re up to no gouda.”

When some trendy new atrocity
Has brought you to your knees
Come with us we’ll sail the
Seas of Cheese

Primus, from “Sailing the Seas of Cheese”

Recently, The Economist was swept away by a riptide of rennet and teary boo-hoo over the appalling waste of good food displayed by, no surprise, Russia; the latest episode of Russia’s disgracing itself in front of an aghast world occurred at various points of entry to the Russian Federation on August 6th. On that day, we are told by a shocked Economist, Russia burned and otherwise destroyed 300 tonnes of food; incinerating pork, pulping tomatoes and driving bulldozers over shipments of European cheese.

I realize you’re probably more used to “tons”. A ton, in non-U.S. measure, is 2000 pounds. The “tonne” is its metric bigger sibling, at 1000 kg, or 2,204.6 pounds. So, simple math tells us the Russian Federation destroyed 6,613,80 pounds of delicious European imported food.

Why would Putin do such a thing? Because naturally it was Putin, Russia is Putin, and The Economist gets lots of mileage out of the order to destroy these delicacies having come from Putin himself. “All of this is being done with the blessing of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Last year the government banned imports of food from countries which had imposed sanctions on Russia. Now food that slips through the embargo is being destroyed in the name of Russian sovereignty.”

This runs under the subheading, “A famine-prone country tests its citizens’ loyalty by destroying food”. Apparently if your country has ever had a famine – The Economist is clear that this was in the 1930’s – you are famine-prone forever. Since there is no time limit and famine was more regular than the post in medieval Europe, I guess France and England are famine-prone as well.

Obviously, The Economist would prefer that banned goods were simply allowed to proceed unimpeded to Russian market shelves, where they would be sold as usual to the Russian public, resulting in profit for their European vendors. Because laws like that are just stupid, and when the government makes stupid laws, citizens should feel free to ignore them. That’s the way it’s done in democratic non-slave countries. You better believe that’s the way it’s done in France, which makes one hell of a lot of cheese, and would like to sell more of it to Russia and to hell with what Putin says. Right?

Actually, non. In France you can marry a dead person, so long as you can demonstrate that you were planning to marry that person before he or she died. If you meet someone else later, you’ll need a divorce to be able to marry them. That should be easy, though, because it would be…ummm…uncontested. I bet The Economist had a tantrum when French farmers dumped millions of liters of milk into fields adjacent to one of France’s most popular tourist sites, because they were not making enough profit. What? No, apparently they didn’t mention it.

Well, why didn’t Russia just give that food to the poor? Shocking, is what it is. I’ll tell you why, Economist; because an embargo means the entry of that fancy European food into the Russian Federation is illegal. If Russia were to confiscate it and then give it to the poor, The Economist and other silly pseudo-analysis publications would have a field day proclaiming that Putin cannot feed his people, and has to steal from Europe to feed the starving multitudes. If Russia paid for it and then gave it to the poor, European vendors would reap the profits, which would only encourage them to new heights of creative lawbreaking, such as trying to smuggle prohibited food products by shipping them without labels, or false labeling suggesting they originated in a country not affected by the ban.

The Economist is registered in London and New York. How do those countries react to the discovery of food products whose vendors try to slip them into the country as contraband? Well, “Imports of animal origin coming into the European Union are subjected to import checks by veterinary officers at designated ports. Advance notice of the shipments is required, documents are inspected and a percentage of consignments physically examined. These costs are met by the importer.” In fact, if The Telegraph is to be believed, more than 10 tons of smuggled meat and animal products are intercepted at Heathrow in an average year. In the USA, dogs help customs inspectors sniff out contraband food products, which are confiscated for health reasons and destroyed. Nobody asks these countries if their health regulations are politically motivated, or why they exclude products from certain countries. Similarly, nobody suggests that food confiscated for public health reasons should be given to the poor.

Judging by the pages and pages of outrage directed at Russia for destroying this prohibited food – said destruction to be recorded to prevent local officials from simply feasting on it instead or reselling it for their own profit – the European Union is pretty ticked off about it. Probably because it will prove to be an effective deterrent to European marketers who have continued to realize profits by smuggling contraband food into Russia. Which is the purpose of an embargo. I’m sure it is political. So what? Europe is a big boy, and can take responsibility for its own actions as well as accept their consequences, which devolve directly from letting itself be pushed into sanctions against Russia by Washington, using the expedient of accusing Russia of having shot down MH-17. Despite zero credible evidence having been offered that such was actually the case, Ukraine – the prime suspect – is accorded full access to all of the evidence, a veto over the release of any results of the investigation, and is permitted to run the disciplinary investigation which will theoretically find and punish the guilty party. When that wasn’t enough, Joint Investigative Team (JIT) members Australia, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Belgium floated the idea of a UN Tribunal, which would be empowered to review ongoing investigations and make a determination of guilt, pass sentence and award punishment although the UN has no judicial powers whatsoever. This was obvious grandstanding calculated to push Russia into vetoing it. Which it did, opening a floodgate to a torrent of lurid press asserting this must mean Russia is guilty, otherwise why would they want to impede the investigation, bla, bla, bla, oblivious that refusing to accept a judgment awarded by its enemies as an excuse to stop investigating is in no way an impediment to investigation continuing.

After a visit to India, President Bush lifted a 17-year ban on the American import of Indian mangoes. Evidently there was no health reason for the ban, and lifting it was a quid pro quo for India’s relaxation of the restriction on the import of California almonds. Seven years later, the EU banned import of Indian mangoes and some other fruits and vegetables, stating that some shipments contained the tobacco whitefly, which could threaten the UK’s tomato and cucumber crops. Nobody wrote articles suggesting the move was political and that the UK government was just making up some phony excuse to punish India. Stuff like that happens, all the time. The Economist said not a dickie-bird about mangoes being burned in India because they had lost market share.

Get used to it, Europe. Russia is not letting itself be rolled by the European Union, and if European markets suffer from sanctions against their agricultural products, tough tit. If you can’t muster up the sack to stand up to Washington, instead letting Uncle Sam run his hand up the back of your pyjamas and move your mouth, the economic relationship is only going to get tougher. You have yourself a nice winter, now.

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579 Responses to How’s Life At The Economist? Not Grate.

  1. Warren says:

  2. Jeremn says:

    Putin in the Crimea, interesting angle on the ethnic make-up of the peninsula:

    “It was for this purpose that I issued the Presidential Executive Order that you know of, and the Russian Government and the regional authorities of Crimea and Sevastopol approved a comprehensive package of measures for its implementation. They concern the social and spiritual revival of the Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German minorities, who were subjected to unlawful deportation and political repression.

    I stress the point that creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding between the different ethnic groups is a key issue for the region’s successful development. We can resolve the problems that have built up, including social support for the rehabilitated peoples, only if we ensure political stability and interethnic harmony.”

    http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50140

    I thought it strnage that all the BBC could take from this talk was

    “Meanwhile, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has visited Crimea, which Moscow annexed last year. He said it would be “dangerous” for ethnic groups to seek special status, seen as a reference to the Tatars who make up about 10% of Crimea’s population and largely opposed the takeover.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33962356

  3. yalensis says:

    Praise Allah and pass the potatoes!

    Russia finally making good on her promise to sell S-300’s to Iran.
    Iran’s Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan announced that the contract with Russia will be signed as soon as next week.
    Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is currently in Moscow, holding talks with Sergei Lavrov.
    They are said to be discussing a “wide range of issues”.

    • Northern Star says:

      Better get em’ fully deployed..operational …and the Persians trained..ready to rock and roll…like right about yesterday!!!!

      • marknesop says:

        This piece from Business Insider just made me shake my head:

        “The S-300 “essentially makes Iran attack-proof by Israel and almost any country without fifth-gen [stealth fighter] capabilities. In other words, Iran, with the S-300, can continue to do what they want once those systems are in place without fear of attack from anyone save the US,” a senior Air Force commander told The Daily Beast”.

        Oh, my God!! Iran will be able to continue to do what they want without fear of attack!! How did it ever come to this?? Wait…Iran has not attacked anyone. In hundreds of years. But how did a shitty Russian missile system made by that country that doesn’t make anything, and whose armed forces are equipped with shitty obsolete junk, render Iran attack-proof from all but fifth-generation fighters? And the S-300 entered service 1n 1978!!! Why, that’s…almost 40 years ago! You mean to tell me the world has been unable to counter the S-300 in more than 35 years? And the S-400 has been in service since 2007 or so, and the S-500 is under development!! Where will it end?? Pretty soon all sorts of countries could be doing what they want without fear of attack!! People doing it with animals! A complete breakdown of the social order!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        You can see what really bothers the USA. Iran will be able to see far, far beyond its own airspace. For example, the U.S. Air Force base in Bahrain will lie well within its tracking envelope, although they will be out of engagement range. But the USA doesn’t like it even that Iran can see them coming. It makes surprise difficult, which is really the heart and soul of deterrence. Angry grumbling from the country that wanted to install a big fuck-off radar right on Russia’s doorstep, in Poland. Then it was all right, and they couldn’t understand the Russians’ concern, why were they being so unreasonable?

        But look at the lesson here for Syria. The S-300 can render your country attack-proof from all but the most sophisticated fifth-generation aircraft, and you can see far, far beyond your engagement range so that you are hard to surprise. Would that work for you, Bashar al-Assad?

        • yalensis says:

          You say that Iran has never attacked any other country, in hundreds of years.
          That may be so.
          But Persians are still EVIL EVIL EVIL and need to be destroyed!
          You can tell just by looking at their ruler, Xerxes, what with all his nipple rings and stuff…

          • yalensis says:

            on the other hand…
            even though he is clearly a freak, he is still kind of buff…

            “I find you strangely attractive, my friend…”

          • marknesop says:

            I think “300” gave him a bit of a makeover…

            • yalensis says:

              Persian degenerates!
              When Alexander the Great invaded, Darayavush was holed up in his palace reading
              پنجاه سایه های خاکستری

              • astabada says:

                Although as you surely know they didn’t use the Arabic Alphabet at the time.

                Iran, with the S-300, can continue to do what they want once those systems are in place without fear of attack from anyone save the US.

                Two observations here:
                1) the things Iran will be able to do without fear of attack, and which bother the USA are developing and fostering independence in the region
                2) the US really doesn’t like the idea of entering a war where it risks to have significant casualties. With heavy casualties always comes questioning whether the cause is a just one, which it has never been for the US since 1941.

    • Northern Star says:

      “People doing it with animals! A complete breakdown of the social order”

      Best laid plans of neocon mice and NWO fascists….

      • yalensis says:

        Who? What? Where?
        What animals?
        Fluffy animals?

        • Cortes says:

          Rabbit = Megyn Kelly’s private parts in Spanish…

          • yalensis says:

            conejo?
            or is “bunny” a bad word now?

            • Cortes says:

              Conejo. Mrs C couldn’t understand why the dastardly Alicante waiter and I were in schoolboy hysterics when he brought me rabbit braised in leeks – if she elected not to learn God’s language, why should I explain? “the conversation ” would arrive some time later…

              • marknesop says:

                Like our Mexican friend a couple of weeks ago in the Italian restaurant, giggling with her father over the “Penne Putanesca”. This is a common Italian dish, but “Penne” means “Penis” in Spanish (except there’s only one “n”), and “Puta” is “whore”.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                A punning synonym of the Middle English “coney” (rabbit) of the Latin cunnus – “vulva”, “cunny” in Middle English meant pudendum mulieribus, .

                The “c-word” has a disputed etymology, but most sources consider the word to have derived from a Germanic word (Proto-Germanic *kuntō, stem *kuntōn-), which appeared as kunta in Old Norse.

                The “c-word” was not taboo in 12th century England:

                Geve thi cunte to cunnig and craue affetir wedding.
                (Give your c**t wisely and make [your] demands after the wedding.)

                And in London there was a Gropecunte Lane – until those pesky Puritans came and spoilt everything before they buggered off to New England.

  4. yalensis says:

    Poles, like elephants, have long memories:

    Polish Parliamentary Deputy Marek Poznański is seen placing a billboard on the Poland-Ukraine border. This is the first thing that Ukrainians will see at this customs post. The billboard is written in 2 languages (Polish and Ukrainian) and reads:

    “Volhynia 1943. Not the place, but memory screams out.”
    Poznański wants to remind everybody of the egregious genocide carried out by Ukrainian “nationalists”.

    • cartman says:

      They should tell their NATO allies to stop helping those killers, then. There’s one thing they are very bad at:

      • Jen says:

        Elephants’ ability to walk on tight-ropes was noted 2,000 years ago. Roman historians Pliny and Suetonius record having seen trained elephants walking forwards and even backwards on tight-ropes in stadium entertainments in Rome.

  5. et Al says:

    Was in Podgorica today. I discovered a large bronze bust of Taras Shevchenko in the park opposite the hospital. Qutie the surprise. The first time I heard of him was from Andrei Kurkov’s ‘The Good Angle of Death’, but better known for ‘Death and the Penguin’. I’ve read most of his stuff and it is very good.

    http://www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/inconversationwithandreykurkov.aspx

  6. Jeremn says:

    Small insight into the Poroshenko business empire:

    “Poroshenko’s business partners, First Deputy Head of Petro Poroshenko Bloc Ihor Kononenko and First Deputy Head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleh Hladkovsky also hold shares in the financial institution …. During the election campaign, Poroshenko promised to sell all his assets, except for TV Channel 5. He then hired Rothschild investment company in consortium with Investment Capital Ukraine group to assist in the sales.”
    http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/284538.html

  7. et Al says:

    AP via Asiatimes Online: Pentagon plans to increase drone flights by 50% with eye on China, Russia

    http://atimes.com/2015/08/pentagon-plans-to-increase-drone-flights-by-50-with-eye-on-china-russia/

    Faced with escalating aggression from Russia and China, the Pentagon is planning to increase its use of drones by about 50 percent over the next several years, using the Army and civilian contractors to put more of the unmanned aircraft in the air.

    The decision to add Army and civilian-operated missions to the mix was triggered because the Air Force — which had been running about 65 combat air patrol missions a day — asked to decrease that number to 60 because of stress on the force. But 60 patrols don’t come close to meeting the demands of top military commanders facing growing security threats around the world…
    ####

    This is very good news. Russia and China can shoot them down wily nily, or is the US going to ague that destroying unmanned drones spying on both those countries near their border is a declaration of war? A gift indeed.

    The refusal to put their children (soldiers) in harms way except in the case of poor and small countries is one of the main reasons that despite its gigantic military industrial complex, the US empire will continue to decline. It seems that their plan is to build Fortress America from where they can strike anywhere in the world from a sofa and and X-BOX. You don’t even need to wear pants or be able to run further than 10 meters too! That is what ‘Prompt Global Strike’ is all about – the US has become fat and lazy and as it is against their fundamental democratic values to press gang their citizens, using the poor and minorities to go and fight their wars as less and less of them are interested in doing so under any circumstances, so declaring themselves as the modern Mons Olympus from which the chosen Gods send down unilateral justice to whomever on the planet is the dream.

    Nutters!

    • Northern Star says:

      Don’t all high tech spying/weaponry gadgetry doors swing both ways…???

      • et Al says:

        I guess we’ll see. One step beyond shooting down drones is capturing drones intact, quite some feat if it is over water. I would strongly suspect in such a case that sensitive equipment would be destroyed remotely by a controlled charge if it were damaged or goes off track or looses comms after a set time etc.

        Spoofing a drone and capturing it intact would be a work of art. It’s already happened a few times, US allies like Al Queda/terrorist flavor or the month have even managed to record drone video streams as they are (probably no longer) broadcast without encryption. Even back in 2003, the US complained that I-Rack was using Russian tech to spoof GPS and mess up some attacks.

        Eitherways, the increased use of drones is the US trying to meet its budget limits as much as, if not more so than, any extra capability provided (like the earlier story I posted about the US navy extending sub maintenance from every six to then eight years because technology had improved, oh, and it would save the navy serious$$$). War on the cheap except in the US they excel at goldplating their systems so that the defense contractors an make a healthy profit.

        Wherever you look, the Western militaries are trying to do more with less. There’s only so much you can squeeze out of a lemon and ‘numbers have a quality all of their own’.

  8. marknesop says:

    There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Well, the Kyiv Post only has a nodding acquaintance with the truth at the best of times, so it may be a complete lie. But it is pro-Junta, consequently it is probably putting the best face on it when it says the sixth wave of mobilization was the worst one yet, roping in only half the cannon fodder it was looking for. They say 60%, but then say they only got 13,000 out of the 25,000 they were looking for, and 13 and 13 are not 25, but that’s a minor quibble. Men are less and less interwested in joining up for the cause to go and get shot at for lousy pay which they might not even get. Biryukov admits as much when he says a professional all-volunteer army is beyond Ukraine’s means right now and would cost more than twice the budget.

  9. Moscow Exile says:

    Ukraine is not my historical homeland and I don’t intend to live here.

    See: Yatsenyuk will flee the ruins of Ukraine because “it’s not his historical homeland” [Fort Russ]

    So where is his “historic homeland”?

    According to Yatsenyuk, he comes from a family of ethnic Ukrainians, and is a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church … He is of partly Romanian ancestry; one of his ancestors was a citizen of Greater Romania from the region around Chernivtsi. – Wiki.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      His sister, Alina Petrovna Jones (or maybe Steel), lives in Southern Califoria, in Santa Barbara.

      Hope her house is not threatened by the forest fires now raging in that part of the world.

      Remember how in 2010, when large forest fires were blazing away in Russia, and Latynina said that such fires only occur in third-world shitholes as is Russia?

      Southern California is ablaze yet again, I see.

    • yalensis says:

      Putin climbs into a submarine, and Saakashvili squeezes himself into the trunk of a car.

      • Jen says:

        Is he practising for the day when he has to make a quick getaway because hordes of Nazis have descended on Odessa and are lynching every politician they can find?

        You can see him thinking, wow, I’m so tuckered out after that work-out, I think I’ll reward myself with an extra special treat of 10 strawberry-and-cream-flavoured ties!

  10. Warren says:

  11. Patient Observer says:

    Can it be that bad?
    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Russias_MiG_21_Would_Rip_Apart_Americas_F_35_999.html
    “America’s much-touted fifth generation F-35 fighter jet is so bad it would be a sitting duck even for Russia’s MiG-21, designed back in the 1950s, famed US aerospace engineer Pierre Sprey told Russian media on Friday.

    “The F-35 is so bad it is absolutely hopeless when pitted against modern aircraft. In fact, it would be ripped to shreds even by the antiquated MiG-21,” Sprey told RT, commenting on a recent expert report, which dismissed the F-35 project as a total failure.

    Few people are as qualified to speak about fighter aircraft as Pierre Sprey. He is the co-designer of the F-16 Falcon jet and the A-10 Warthog tank buster, two of the most successful aircraft in the US Air Force.”

    Less bang for the buck! Was it simply a project destined for failure due to early poor design/performance decisions or was it mostly sustained project mismanagement? From what I read, it seems the former – trying to make one aircraft accommodate too many tasks with the killer being the need for a vertical takeoff version to make the Marine corps happy.

    • Patient Observer says:

      And related to the above, Sukhois crushed Typhoons:
      http://russia-insider.com/en/military/flanker-fury-how-sukhois-blanked-typhoons-12-0-british-skies/ri9258
      “The Sukhoi Flanker has yet again emerged as the unchallenged wolf of the skies. During the 10-day Indradhanush exercise held in July in Lincolnshire, UK, Indian Air Force pilots flying the Su-30MKI humiliated the top aces of the RAF, blanking their latest Eurofighter Typhoon jets 12-0.”
      The Best of the West versus Sukhois flown by Indian pilots in the UK. Not to slight the Indian pilots in the least, presumably Russian pilot would do even better (although 12-0 would be hard to improve).

    • et Al says:

      I’ve read that a few years back during COPE India, it’s heavily (Israeli) upgraded Mig-21 Bisons with the ELTA EL/M-8222 ECM pod made it one slippery customer. Even the Romanian upgraded Mig-21 LancerR does well.

      Considering that now fancy and expensive aircraft are expected to last 30 years+, they will get their electronics replaced or upgraded at least once (I would think more likely twice with new generation aircraft) in much the same way ships and submarines are ‘refitted’. You can tweak the engine, improve the aerodynamics a bit (a new package has been developed for the Typhoon), but its the electronics that will make the most difference.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Certainly electronics (sensors, computational power, etc) are important but they can only make up a portion of the advantage superior speed and agility provide. What I found especially interesting is that the IAF defeated the RAF in Beyond Visual Range engagements which is all about sensors and missiles. In dog fighting, the IAF was apparently so dominate that they also won every 2 against 1 engagements as well.

        But what I want to mention here is how the West simply can not accept that they got their ass handed to them: Here is how the British and their Imperial Superiority tried to dismiss the Indian shutout per the above link

        ““There must have been some clouded recollection on the flights back to India, as the headlines of the Indian press bear no relation to the results of the tactical scenarios completed on the exercise in any shape or form.””

        Contrast this how an American air force colonel characterized a similar Indian victory over US fighters:

        “What we’ve seen in the last two weeks is the IAF can stand toe-to-toe with the best air force in the world. I pity the pilot who has to face the IAF and chances the day to underestimate him; because he won’t be going home.”

        Arrogance will get you killed in war and the British elites and their minions have a limitless reservoir of arrogance.

  12. Warren says:

    Don’t forget your toothbrush! British jihadi fighting for Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria packs toiletries in his ammunition belt

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3202020/Don-t-forget-toothbrush-British-jihadi-fighting-Al-Qaeda-linked-group-Syria-bizarrely-packs-bathroom-item-weapon-belt-touring-destroyed-mosque-new-anti-ISIS-propaganda-video.html#ixzz3jCp9cPmq
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    • Jen says:

      It’s obvious, the takfiri took his toothbrush along because after a hard day’s work killing Syrian civilians in their homes and executing fellow jihadis who got homesick and tried to sneak away but were caught, at the end of the day your beard is full of fragments of bullet casings and you have to brush it before you do your evening prayers and then have your meal of soup and bread. Who wants to crunch metal along with bread and vegetables?

      • astabada says:

        What are you talking about? Repent *now*.
        Real Muslims © do not use toothbrushes.

        I kid you not: because the Prophet used siwak to clean his Holy Mouth, any pious person must follow Him in this too.
        If you want to be pure, of course it helps to go to Syria (pardon, to the Caliphate) and to exterminate the ungodly Alawi dogs (along with their families). But you have to use siwak!

        Note: if you are thinking that the Prophet did not use a smartphone, nor he rode a technical, and drawing logical conclusions, you might be considered a blasphemous baathi.

  13. Warren says:

    White House hires first transgender member of staff

    The White House has hired its first openly transgender full-time member of staff, officials have confirmed.

    Raffi Freedman-Gurspan started working as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential staff on Tuesday.

    Her commitment to transgender rights reflects “the values of this administration,” a senior White House official said.

    It is President Barack Obama’s latest move in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

    “Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president.

    Ms Freedman-Gurspan previously worked as a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NTCE).

    Her appointment to the White House has been hailed as an important step by key members of the LGBT community.

    “Our government works best when it reflects the reality of who we are as Americans,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, the head of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute.

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its ban on transgender men and women from serving in the military, and the White House has said it welcomes that move.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-33979934

  14. Warren says:

    Published on 18 Aug 2015
    For the first time in more than fifty years, an American flag is now flying outside the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The embassy officially reopened on July 20th, when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba were formally re-established

    • astabada says:

      Will the US resist the temptation to use its embassy as the base where to launch regime change?

      The answer is no.

  15. yalensis says:

    According to military analysts, the next big battle is shaping up:

    http://www.vzgliad.ru/world/2015/8/18/761859.html

    SUMMARY AND PARTIAL TRANSLATION
    Currently artillery duels between the 2 sides are heating up with every day that goes by.
    It is clear, that Ukrainian General Staff is preparing a massive offensive.
    Near Mariupol, the city of Sakhanka (inhabited by ethnic minority, Greeks) is getting a lot of bombardment, but author thinks this is just a diversion. Forces of Novorossiya do not need to take Mariupol by frontal storm.
    After the disaster of Debaltsevo, Ukrainian General Staff came up with a new strategy, and have placed their most able battalions along the front line. In preparation for the offensive.
    Two tank brigades and one artillery brigade have been placed in good positions.
    Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army has swelled to 65,000 men. They have enough tanks and artillery to get the job done.
    The larger part of the units is concentrated north of Donetsk, especially in Kramatorsk.
    The Ukrainian forces are divided into 3 sectors, each with its own command. The commanders of the battalion level have been granted almost unlimited power to make decisions. Most of the undisciplined “volunteer” battalions have been removed from the front.

    Russian intelligence believes that the first wedge of attack will occur near Volnovakha. The trucks and armoured vehicles have a clear road ahead of them in the steppe region, no obstacles to speak of.

    The Ukrainian strategy depends, on its success, for lightning speed and racking up very quick victories in the first wave.

    • yalensis says:

      And on that theme:
      Putin has issued a rare, but very stern warning to Poroshenko.
      Putin has warned Poroshenko, that Russian intelligence knows everything he his doing, and all the heavy artillery being brought up near Donetsk, etc. etc.

      Putin has warned Poroshenko that tomorrow he (Putin) will be meeting with his military leadership in Sebastopol, to decide what to do about the situation.
      He warns Poroshenko to stick with Minsk, or face the consequences.

      [yalensis: This is good, but Putin should be warning the REAL President of Ukraine – Pyatt!]

      • Paul says:

        Brian Whitmore says that all the Russian and rebel talk of a Ukrainian offensive indicates a forthcoming Russian ‘false flag operation’ to justify a Russian offensive: http://www.rferl.org/content/daily-vertical-false-flag-alert/27195022.html

        • yalensis says:

          Maybe it’s a double bluff.
          Or a triple bluff – yeh!

        • kirill says:

          Oh my what a credible theory. Like we had so many Russian and rebel false flags before. Radio “Free” Europe clearly has nothing of substance to offer.

        • marknesop says:

          Brian Whitmore can take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut, because I am sure satellite photography shows a significant buildup of Ukrainian forces. And if the balloon does go up, it will immediately be evident that Ukraine could not have gotten so many troops to the front so quickly – ergo, they must have already been there. Their strategy is to roll up the NAF like a carpet using sheer pressure, and for that they need massive numbers to overwhelm the defenses.

      • marknesop says:

        Washington will be trembling with emotion and excitement – at last!! At last Putin will be baited from his lair, and will intervene with the Russian military in Ukraine!! It’s what the neocons have been waiting for.

        I suppose he had to say something, but it is difficult to imagine it will do anything other than encourage Poroshenko, since it is Washington pulling his strings, and a state intervention by Russia is what Washington urgently desires. If Russia has to go in, they might as well pull out all the stops. As well hung for a sheep as a lamb. I am only slightly encouraged by the dim possibility that he was just warning Porky that Russian intelligence is documenting everything and can prove the Donbas is only defending itself from an illegal assault. But that’s not likely, because he knows very well the UN will only tell him to quit whining, the way they did when Russia complained about the attacks on its embassy in Kiev.

        Washington is constantly upping the ante, because it knows time is running out and Ukraine is on its last legs. They have to get a reaction from Russia, or admit defeat, while a reaction from Russia will be victory. Sure, they will crush Porky’s forces like soft cheese, but then the die will be cast and Sammy Power will be clamoring for a full-on NATO response. And where that would end, nobody knows. But it wouldn’t be good.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, they need to force the NAF to retreat, and then keep them running all the way to the border. The way the Ukies figure it, they only need to win once; then the west will join them in pronouncing Ukraine a unitary state once more, no deviations from that reality are permitted. They will pour it on with everything they have in the opening salvos.

      Their most able battalions in the front line does not address the cauldroning problem – they need to pace the advance so that the infantry can keep up in support. Instead, armor surges ahead and gets cut off. Anyway, they have certainly yielded the advantage of surprise, while there might be a few surprises waiting for them. And if they lose this one, they’re done.

      • astabada says:

        No victorious battle can bring victory in war, if your ideology dooms you to defeat.

        So it is for Kiev. Even if the Junta managed to overcome Novorussia, their idiotic ideology (and Western interests) would compel them to turn their unwanted attention to Crimea.

        An provocation in Crimea would unleash the Russian war machine.
        I wouldn’t want to be on its path.

  16. yalensis says:

    According to Danish newspaper DR.dk, Ukrainian Azov Battlation has morphed into the Neo-Nazi Internationale.

    Neo-Nazis from all over the world go there to learn to fight.

  17. yalensis says:

    Ukrainian swimming competitor complains of getting dirty looks in Russia, but admits that nobody attacked him, or even really bothered him.

    Andrei Govorov, 23 years old, is Ukrainian swimming champion. He was born in Sebastopol, but is that rare Crimean bird: a Ukrainian patriot. When offered the opportunity to exchange his Ukrainian passport for a Russian one, he refused to do so. His family and relatives are also pro-Ukrainian and are trying to figure out a way to move from Crimea to Dnipropetrovsk, because they don’t like living under Russian authority.

    Currently Andrei is in Moscow, competing for the Swimming Cup.
    In an interview with a Ukrainian newspaper, Andrei says that none of his fellow athletes at the competition have said or done anything to him; they all get along fine. At most he was at the receiving end of a couple of jokes or barbs.
    He says the audience, however, are not friendly to him.

    Two weeks ago, Andrei experienced something similar while competing in Kazan.
    “As I approached the starting line [in the pool], the crowd gave me even less support than for the Americans, whom Russians also do not like very much. I experienced a psychological discomfort…”

    [yalensis: stll proves that Russians on the whole are more civilized than Ukrainians. A Russian patriotic athlete in Ukraine would not even be physically safe, never mind winged phrases.]

    • Tim Owen says:

      The phrase “I experienced a psychological discomfort” kind of brought to mind these chaps:

      “… because it’s affected us emotionally, with issues…”

      • yalensis says:

        ” Ощущал психологический дискомфорт….”

        There’s modern Russian for you — it’s just English, but with a Slavic accent!

        • Paul says:

          I was rather bemused the last time I was in a Russian bookstore to find a book entitled ‘Startappy’. I eventually worked out it meant ‘start ups’. Modern Russian for you.

          • yalensis says:

            Or, one can peruse the Russian tabloids, to learn about some movie star’s new “бойфренд”.

          • marknesop says:

            Like the Russian blog, long discontinued, called “Biznesslanch”, which was a modern Russianism for “Business Lunch”. Or the sometimes-used “Shuzy” instead of “Toefli”.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          The best/worst anglicism that I have ever seen in Russian is Джёбсикерз [dzhyobseekerz = “job seekers”] – I kid you not!

          For those of you that may not know, the sound “yob” in Russian has extremely vulgar conotations.

          There’s also, according to my son, кульно [cool], пикча [picture], трэш [trash], рофлить [to roll on the floor laughing, as in: Ты рофлшь, что ли? – “You’re rolling on the floor laughing, or what?]

          • marknesop says:

            The “yob” sound came back to bite McFaul, if you remember, when he tried to appear hip in his Twitter commentary and spoke of meeting some young folk the following week in “Yoburg”, because he had seen others referring to Yekaterinburg in that manner. But apparently it is a casual vulgarity that those who are from there are permitted to use, but it is frowned upon if used by outsiders. One annoyed non-McFaul-fan referred to him as “McFuck” in his response, to let him know it was a faux pas. To his credit, McFaul doggedly set out to repair the damage and apologize for the misunderstanding.

            As much of a regime-changing twat and inveterate dissembler as McFaul was and is, his Russian was pretty good. I saw him in an interview or two, in Russian, and his comprehension seemed excellent and his speech was very good for an Anglo. I wonder how the zeppelin formerly known as Tefft is in that department.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Only last week I saw young Ukrainian provocateurs all gaily donned in Ukrainian national costume performing an “event” next to the Griboedov monument at Chistye Prudy, Moscow. Everyone was ignoring them, though a few gave them puzzled looks. I returned and walked past them one half-hour later: they, one young woman and two young men, all in their 20s, were back in track-suits, over which they had clearly worn their costumes. Their national costumes were stuffed into plastic supermarket bags.

      I was hoping that they would still be performing when I returned and perhaps offered me one of their leaflets thaty they had so that I could tell them all to go and get their faces fucked.

      I could have done that as freedom of expression is a basic human right of every freeborn Englishman like what I am and unlike these Orcs with whom I have to live.

    • yalensis says:

      sorry, I was so touched by the story, that I forgot to close my link.

      • Paul says:

        This type of language really struck me when I was researching my last book – these WW1 Russian generals writing to each other saying ‘I embrace you’ (‘Obnimaiu vas’), or ‘I kiss you’ (‘Tseluiu vas’). At the time I thought this was just the sentimentality of the era, but seeing this story maybe it is a longer lasting Russian male cultural thing.

        • yalensis says:

          I was struck by how emotional Medvedev looked and sounded.
          I think he was actually scared that something bad was going to happen to Putin.
          Putin, on the other hand, was just …. Putin!

        • marknesop says:

          But although the act itself would appear intimate, they use the more distant and impersonal “vas”, similar to the French with “vous” and “tu”.

  18. ThatJ says:

    Putin’s Secret Friends in Paris

    Efforts by Russian intelligence to purchase (or at least rent) friends in Western and Central Europe are not new, but in recent months they have increased markedly due to the Russo-Ukrainian War. As the crisis between Moscow and Kyiv has worsened, the Kremlin has redoubled its secret work to acquire helpers, what they term agents of influence, in NATO and European Union countries. While Moscow has friends on the Left lingering from the last Cold War, much of the Kremlin’s recent covert outreach has been to the Right, especially to Europe’s rising far Right. Hungary is a particular hotbed of activity by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and Military Intelligence (GRU), where, as I’ve recently reported, Kremlin ties to the far Right (indeed quasi-fascist) Jobbik party are important and barely concealed.

    France is a source of particular concern, however, given that country’s size and prestige, as well as its nuclear weapons. The rise of the National Front is the major political story in Paris nowadays, and a certain overt Putinophilia is detectable in that party’s ranks and leadership too. Party boss Marine Le Pen blames the EU, not Russia, for the war in Ukraine, and admits to possessing a soft spot for Vladimir Putin: “I have a certain admiration for the man. He proposes a patriotic economic model, radically different than what the Americans are imposing on us,” she recently explained.

    French counterintelligence is concerned that the National Front may be getting a bit too cozy with the Kremlin, as elaborated in an article in the Paris weekend paper Le Journal du Dimanche that looks into the Putin lobby in Paris. There are concerns about TV Libertés, a network established by a former National Front cadre that adheres to a decidedly pro-Moscow editorial line and features a suspicious number of Kremlin-linked guests, including Sergey Naryshkin, the Duma chairman who is banned from coming to France due to sanctions against him. Despite these sanctions, Naryshkin somehow came to Paris to meet with French politicians, mostly right-wing, as well as businesspeople involved in trade with Russia.

    Many of those facilitating such meetings and getting Russia good press in France are tied to the National Front, a fact not missed by French counterintelligence which, as I’ve previously reported, is concerned about rapidly rising and aggressive SVR and GRU activities in the country. Parallels with KGB operations are not exact, yet as one Parisian analyst concluded, “The National Front doesn’t have the same social connections as the French Communist Party did during the Cold War, but Russia is investing a great deal on the National Front and the popular right-wing to get its ideas across.”

    Front organizations play an important role, as they did in Soviet times, and Paris has made note of advocacy groups such as the Franco-Russian Dialog Association (Association Dialogue Franco-Russe), which is chaired by Thierry Mariani, France’s former transportation minister, and Vladimir Yakunin, a onetime KGB officer. Questions have also been raised about this summer’s visit to Moscow by the right-wing politico Philippe de Villiers, where he was warmly greeted by Putin — the French aristocrat also plans to build a theme park in Russian-occupied Crimea — not least because de Villiers’ brother Pierre just happens to be chief of the French General Staff.

    Full text: http://20committee.com/2014/09/09/putins-secret-friends-in-paris/

    • ThatJ says:

      “Remember when we were told that same-sex marriage wouldn’t ever affect normal marriage? Good times.”

      She’s referring to this:

      Silly Americans, they thought the gay lobby would cease its activities once homo “marriage” was recognised.

      The nature of their lies remind me of the Immigration Act of 1965, when we were told that the new law ‘would not alter the demographic balance of the country’:

      In order to convince the American people of the legislation’s merits, its proponents assured that passage would not influence America’s culture significantly. President Johnson called the bill “not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions”,[4] while Secretary of State Dean Rusk and other politicians, including Senator Ted Kennedy, hastened to reassure the populace that the demographic mix would not be affected; these assertions would later prove grossly inaccurate.[5]

  19. ThatJ says:

    At first Porky moves heavy military hardware to the front…

    MOSCOW, August 18. /TASS/. Russia has informed observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that the Ukrainian army is building up weaponry with a caliber of over 100 millimeters along the disengagement line, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday.

    “Russian representatives in the Joint Control and Coordination Center informed employees of the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission of the buildup of weapons with a caliber of over 100 mm by the Ukrainian Armed Forces along the disengagement line between the sides,” the spokeswoman said in a video commentary. “In particular, it was established that six self-propelled artillery systems and three tanks were mounted in Novotroitskoye, 11 Grad [multiple launch rocket] systems arrived in Krasnogorovka, nine self-propelled artillery systems, two Pion artillery guns and four Grad systems were deployed near Tarasovka and Vodyanoye,” her comment said.

    “Two Grad systems were deployed in Mirnoye, two D-30 howitzers of the 152-mm caliber were placed in Talakovka, 10 D-30 howitzers were deployed in Starognatovka and Novognatovka. Besides, the personnel of a private military firm has arrived in Starognatovka, and the movement of a Ukrainian convoy of three towed D-30 howitzers of the 122-mm caliber has been registered near Mayorsk,” Zakharova said.

    She said “relevant information, including photo and video materials on the mentioned violations, has been handed to the OSCE SMM.”

    And then he meets with American puppets Merkel and Hollande to discuss the “withdrawal of armaments and ceasefire”…

    PARIS, August 18. /TASS/. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will hold a meeting in Berlin on Monday to discuss deterioration of the situation in east Ukraine, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday.

    “I hope the meeting on Monday will make it possible for us to move forward on both points [withdrawal of armaments and ceasefire]. We hope the decision is found in December at the latest,” he was quoted by media as saying.

    • marknesop says:

      This is encouraging; it suggests Putin has not completely taken leave of his senses, and that he is warning Porky that if he launches a major offensive it will be clear who started it and who violated the Minsk Agreement. That will be of little comfort, though, if it goes the way Washington wants and the Ukies get momentum and push the NAF to the Russian border – because then the OSCE will be under tremendous pressure to accept the status quo ante and declare that the demarcation has disappeared and to the victor belong the spoils of war. So Russia will still have to ensure, somehow, that doesn’t happen.

      If the Ukies lose this one, they’re done like dinner. Mariupol will fall (or be liberated, depending on your point of view), and slowly the eastern towns will fall back under NAF control. So long as Kiev’s malignant influence holds sway, Ukraine will be in limbo – unacceptable except as a pawn to the west, unable to pursue normal relations with Russia. Then it will be a tossup whether there is another coup, or the country will simply empty out as the economic situation becomes intolerable. New leadership is a definite prerequisite before any progress can be made, and anyone who previously toed the ATO line is not going to fit the bill. I have no idea where such a leader would materialize from, unless it were Zakharchenko. And in that case the west of Ukraine would be in open revolt.

  20. Hunter says:

    Hey guys,

    Once again, it’s been a while. But as usual, a very good article by Mark and very insightful comments.

    Adding my two bits and a suggestion that Mark do a follow up article on the Economist (or perhaps Anatoly, Patrick or Alexander would be so inclined if the follow article is brought to their attention), here is a real doozy by the Economist in a new supplement they published:

    http://worldif.economist.com/article/2/what-if-russia-breaks-up-the-peril-beyond-putin

    The article is so poor I’m amazed the author wasn’t embarrassed that it was published.

    First he tries to set the stage by claiming that Russia started the war with Japan. Which is rubbish since it was Japan that declared war first on February 8, 1904 (admittedly after negotiations came to nothing due to Tsar Nicholas II’s underestimating the potential response of the Japanese and maintaining a rather aggressive position during the negotiations in expectation that the Japanese would simply give in).

    Next he attempts to further prepare the stage by noting that 12 years after Russia/the Soviet Union “started” a war in 1904 (against Japan) and 1979 (in Afghanistan) that there followed a collapse/fading away of the USSR and Russian Empire respectively.

    Then he delivers the (sorta) prediction – that “The idea that Russia’s latest foreign-policy adventures might end in the same way as previous ones—with the collapse of the state and disintegration of the country—is not as far-fetched as it might seem.” while claiming that Mr. Putin apparently picked out alleged national traitors, annexed Crimea and started a war in Ukraine all in response to…get this!…the 2011 protests in Moscow.

    Thus the writer is seemingly trying to get readers to expect (or rather not be surprised by) a break up of the Russian Federation in…2026.

    However the logic setting this up is illogical. Firstly there isn’t any previous cases to really set a precedent:

    – Russia did not start the war with Japan in 1904 and Tsar Nicky’s comment to his cousin the Kaiser that he did not want a war underlines as much.

    – the Russian Empire collapsed not as a result of the 1904 Russo-Japanese War, but rather the disastrous effects of another (much bigger) war that started 10 years later in 1914; World War I. Which again was not started by Russia but rather by Austria-Hungary.

    – the Soviet Union did not collapse because of the war in Afghanistan; although the conflict in Afghanistan contributed to the weakening of central control over the USSR. Rather the USSR collapsed most immediately because reactionaries tried to reverse the New Union Treaty which would have preserved the federation in a weaker form and over the longer term because of the long term neglect in economic affairs since the 1960s/1970s by persons who were not really up to the task but who toed the line set by the top brass (some of whom were themselves not really up to the task).

    If there was no World War I the Russian Empire would almost certainly have existed past 1917; and had different policies been put in place in the late 1960s and early 1970s (or had there not been a coup attempt in August 1991) there would likely still be an entity called “the Soviet Union” even today (though its form would have been different depending on if things had been different in the 1960s/1970s or if the coup attempt had not been done in August 1991).

    Secondly the suggested areas that could break off make very little sense. The author notes that in the 1990s as the USSR broke up “many of Russia’s regions—including Siberia, Ural, Karelia and Tatarstan—declared their ‘sovereignty’ at the time.” and later states “The Ural region could form a republic—as it tried to do in 1993—around Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, or else it could form a union with Siberia. Siberia itself could revive its own identity, from a base in the cities of Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, and lay claim to its oil-and-gas riches, which it would sell to China.”

    This is blatant dishonesty since the 1993 Urals Republic was declared in order for Sverdlovsk/Yekaterinburg to gain more economic and legislative autonomy given the priority that was given to republics over oblasts in the Russian Constitution at the time. When it was declared, the Urals Republic was declared as a constituent republic of the Russian Federation, not as a separate country (as happened in Tatarstan).

    The fantasizing though really peaks in the way the author imagines things happening in Tatarstan and Crimea:

    “Tatarstan, home to 2m Muslim ethnic Tatars and 1.5m ethnic Russians, could declare itself the separate khanate it was in the 15th century. It has a strong identity, a diverse economy, which includes its own oil firm, and a well-educated ruling class. It would form a special relationship with Crimea, which Crimean Tartars (at last able to claim their historic land) would declare an independent state.”

    Assuming Tatarstan ever wanted to declare independence in the future, why they would declare a khanate instead of an independent republic is never explained and just how the Crimean Tatars are able to claim their historic land and declare an independent state in the Crimea peninsula when they constitute under 11% of the population there (under 13% when one excludes Sevastopol; with Russians constituting the majority in the peninsula at over 57%) is similarly brushed over.

    • marknesop says:

      Great to see you again, Hunter. That is indeed a piece of rubbish. Why don’t you write it? You are already at least a quarter of the way there, kicking ass and taking names. It just needs to be fleshed out a little to be post-ready, you could do it easily. And it is demonstrably a story which needs to be told – the more people realize what a worthless pile of partisan shit The Economist is, the better off we all are. I will get in touch with you so you have my email address. It is a longtime fantasy of the west, and especially dear to the heart of Washington, that Russia be broken up into nationalist ethnic states which could be set to warring with one another, leaving Russia reduced to just Moscow and enough land for it to sit on.

      While I’m on that subject; Lyttenburgh, if you’re still around – I tried twice to get hold of you, and your email address which you are using as part of your ID here is bad, I cannot reach it. Perhaps you could sign in with a different one next time?

      • Hunter says:

        Thanks Mark,

        Hmmmm….writing it would be interesting, but I don’t think there is much more to write on it, since that would basically have been it. The original article was a lot of filler to begin with anyway, so I doubt I could get 3 times more material out of it.

        But yes, The Economist is more often than not a worthless pile of partisan bullshit. I find that when they are reporting on things they don’t have an emotional stake in (usually financial statistics and some science stories) they aren’t bad. But that accounts for only a small part of the magazine unfortunately.

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