The Weaponization of Ignorance: the West’s Go-To Experts

Uncle Volodya says, "The beast preaches contempt, for that's what arrogance says: that nothing is real but itself, and the bone and blood of another's being are insubstantial as breath.”

Uncle Volodya says, “The beast preaches contempt, for that’s what arrogance says: that nothing is real but itself, and the bone and blood of another’s being are insubstantial as breath.”

Brute Force and Ignorance,
Just hit town,
Looking like survivors,
From the Lost and Found.

Brute Force and Ignorance,
Have come to play,
A one-night stand at eight o’clock,
Then they’ll be on their way.

From, “Brute Force and Ignorance“, by Rory Gallagher

Whooo! Rory Gallagher – remember him? Don’t be surprised if you don’t, because he was probably the best blues guitarist you never heard of.  Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal just before the nineteen-fifties and rock & roll took off like a scared cat, a teenage Rory Gallagher stayed up late to listen to Radio Luxembourg because he couldn’t afford records. He played entirely by ear, couldn’t read a note, but he could play anything that had strings on it. In 1971, influential British music magazine Melody Maker voted him International Guitarist of the Year, ahead of Eric Clapton, with whom he shared both influences (Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters) and a soulful blues style. In 1995 he was dead in a London hospital, of liver complications, when he was just 47.

Anyway, this post isn’t really about Rory Gallagher, except perhaps in the sense of what a prophet he was. Because we have entered – are firmly established, in fact – into an age in which a significant group of people in the English-speaking world are proud to be ignorant. George W. Bush was the first president who routinely cited his low academic standings – because he thought it made him sound folksy and one of the little people – and a startling proportion of the general public is now apparently quite happy to be misled by “experts” who don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

It’s still important to the decent, hardworking people who constitute The General Public that they support Doing The Right Thing. The deceitful and manipulative folks who run some of the world’s most powerful countries know this, and so The Things They Want To Do for their own reasons are pitched to The General Public as Doing The Right Thing. Since the world’s leaders only speak directly to the electorate when they’re looking for your vote and perhaps once a year for a State Of The Union Address, they use selected “experts” and analysts to softball-pitch their selected narrative to The General Public – which must be called deliberately ignorant to a large extent, because it unquestioningly accepts the narrative just as if it had never been lied to before, and never will be again. Doing The Right Thing makes them feel good, and they’re proud of it.

In order to be Doing The Right Thing, it is necessary for you to believe Russia is an isolated and reviled international pariah which has invaded its neighbour – Ukraine – with heavy armor, artillery and hundreds of thousands of uniformed soldiers in the country on state orders, and which shot down MH-17 so that it could blame it on innocent Ukraine (among other wild justifications). It is a country which makes nothing and is totally reliant on energy exports; backward, barbaric, uncultured and unlettered, deceitful and underhanded.

An excellent example to start off with is Forbes, featuring the clownish oaf Paul Roderick Gregory. Mr. Gregory was one of the first to latch on to the scoop that Russia had inadvertently published the figures of its dead in the “Eastern Ukrainian Campaign”, in a small, innocuous business newspaper called Delovaya Zhizn (Business Life). Then, the story goes, the government frantically deleted the information, but not before some sharp-eyed truthseekers had pounced on it and exposed it to the world. Yahoo – staunchly Russophobic in its news content – jumped on it as well. Social media dismembered it in hours and revealed it as a fake, while the purported representative of Business Life claimed the site had been hacked from a Kiev-registered IP on August 22nd, and the bogus data inserted long enough to be captured, then erased. The excitement the story caused in the media was something to see, and the Twitter storm – led by luminaries like Michael McFaul drawing attention to it for all they were worth – was furious while it lasted. Once it was exposed as a fake, the story just kind of…went away. Nobody said sorry.

No western news story on Russia or Ukraine is complete without the insertion of the phrase “Russian aggression” like a trademark, and an assertion that Russia has large numbers of military troops in Ukraine although it cynically denies it. News sites regularly claim there is “pretty overwhelming evidence” that Russia and Putin are lying, but none of them ever cite any, and the United States refuses to release any satellite imagery confirming the purported troop movements or transit of armored columns. It must be sensitive about Putin’s feelings, and is protecting him. Ha, ha.

Here’s another comical one – Amanda Taub, at Vox, says a video clip showing Putin and Medvedev working out together showcases Russia’s “fear and insecurity”, which compel Putin to reassure the nation that he is still physically at the top of his game. It includes a gratuitous swipe at Putin’s sweatpants as “unflattering”; Putin is 63, and Ms. Taub, a former human-rights lawyer who appears to have little to crow about in the unflattering department, looks to be about 30 years younger than that. One wonders what she will look like in sweatpants in 30 years. Putin’s popularity is “slipping”, Ms. Taub would have us know – yes, only 72% of Russians said they would vote for Putin in a current election (the poll was in August), and his approval rating is only 83%!! Thus the he-man stunts: Putin must show Russians that he’s still tough enough to bully people, and hopefully get his cratering ratings back on the upswing. To put that in perspective, Barack Obama’s approval rating for the same period was 46% , and David Cameron’s ratings as PM are about the same.

The EU Observer cites Pavel Felgenhauer as a “Russian military expert” who is dicing with death just speaking with a western magazine, since he could be construed as “aiding and abetting the enemy”. Pavel Felgenhauer, once a regular columnist at The Moscow Times, has thoroughly earned the low opinion in which he is held by other analysts, many of them skilled bullshitters themselves. His golden moment came when he successfully predicted the 2008 war in Georgia. Few remember that he also said that it might not happen until 2010, and that Georgia would win it. Outside this one shining moment of prescience, Pavel Felgenhauer is an affable idiot who loves attention, and what he knows about the Russian military you could put in your coffee without noticing any change in the flavour. In 2011, he argued that the MISTRAL assault carriers Russia was buying from France would be employed to guard the Sea of Okhotsk to keep it safe for nuclear submarine operations against the U.S. Pacific Fleet. He claimed to have learned this from “A high-ranking source in the General Staff”. Of the Angolan navy, perhaps – Russian staff officers know better than to discuss anything with Felgenhauer, who will only balls it up anyway. But all his sources are like that: “Oh, a little bird told me”, wink-wink, implying Cosmic Top Secret information, keep it under your hat, old man, when in fact it is pure fantasy. Felgenhauer simply thinks of something that would be an exciting development, and then pretends someone told him about it.

It is only and exclusively in the field of political analysis – with perhaps the occasional exception for “Does this suit make me look fat?” – that leaders will pay someone to tell them exactly what they want to hear, regardless of whether there’s any truth to it. Nobody would pay an auto mechanic to tell them whatever they wanted to hear: say, Sonny – if I put aluminum-alloy wheels on it, will it increase my horsepower? Absolutely, Mr. Obama. How about an accountant? I was wondering, Tiffany; if I withdraw $15,000.00 from my RRSP to gamble in Las Vegas, will it count toward my taxable income for this year? Certainly not, Mr. Cameron; you go on, now, dear, and have fun. As if.

CNN’s “Banned! 10 Things You Won’t Find in Russia” is, unsurprisingly, horseshit. The law forbidding “gay propaganda” does not “mean anyone campaigning for LGBT rights or equating straight and gay relationships can be prosecuted. ” It is quite specific that it may not be pitched to minor children, but the United States has become so chuffed with itself over how gay-friendly it is that it seems to think nobody is too young to learn how to do it the gay way. How about three – is three too young, do you think? Thinking about sending your gender nonconforming three-year-old son to Crossdresser Camp? I wonder if the other boys in his class – when he’s, say 12 – are going to be as supportive? Gay adults can do as they please in Russia, as they always could, and homosexuality was legal in Russia ten years before the USA got around to saying it was okay to be gay.

Anonymous blogs are illegal – oh, dear. That should be of great concern to the civil libertarians who are sharing their phone conversations with the NSA, have been for some time before it was revealed, and the NSA refuses to stop, while the government refuses to make them. National security, you know. Think about that next time you’re discussing your hemorrhoids with your doctor on the telephone.

Western food is banned; quite a lot of it, anyway. Why is that, CNN, again? Because of sanctions imposed against Russia. Why? Well, because the Russians shot down MH-17, of course! And before anyone calls tit-for-tat sanctions “childish”, yes, they are. But you’re talking to the country that changed the name of the American street on which the Soviet Embassy was located to “Andrei Sakharov Street”, just for spite. The Wall Street Journal called it “simple but inspired“. They were half-right: it was simple. Stay tuned for the U.S. Embassy to be on “Edward Snowden Boulevard”.

Foul language is banned from films and television. Oh, no. How could anyone sit through a movie in America if it was not non-stop swearing from start to finish…kind of like conversation is in the USA. Ridden a city bus lately? Honestly, America has become the proverbial caricature of itself, so obsessed with slagging off the Russians in an attempt to humiliate them that it portrays being The Sopranos from sea to shining sea as some kind of virtue.

Drug related websites. The mind reels. Where is I gonna get my hit on, iffen I can’t fin’ my on-line dealer? CNN….man, I just don’t know. I used to think, when I still watched CNN, probably about 10 years ago, that Wolf Blitzer was the worst thing about it. But now you is on a ho’ notha level. Freedom…is drug-related websites.

Lacy underwear. Yes, that’s the money shot, isn’t it? Now the CNN “newsroom” guys can snigger and poke each other as they share jokes about neo-Soviet maidens in their CSMVPvoluminous bloomers.

In fact, lacy feminine undergarments are not banned at all. As the article points out, material that is next to the skin must be at least 6% cotton. Doesn’t mean it has to be all cotton, and the rest can be any material. You can get lingerie in Moscow. You just can’t get it in this size.  There…ummm… doesn’t seem to be any significant demand for it. Another benefit of banning western food.

The Independent (owned by a Russian oligarch – oops! “Tycoon”, I meant, which is how western newspapers sucked up to Poroshenko the Billionaire after he took over the presidency of Ukraine) reports, completely gratuitously, that Moscow is “the world’s unfriendliest city“; so designated by a survey conducted among the readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine! Which had a total circulation, in 2011, of just under 971,000. Ha, ha!! Jesus, listen to yourselves, will you? More than twice as many people read Rolling Stone, Bon Appetit and Golf Digest as read Travel & Leisure. Take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut, Travel & Leisure! Who gives a toss what you think? We’ll see all 971,000 of you in Galway, Ireland (rated the “friendliest” city), and you’d probably all fit.

Timothy Snyder, eminent historian and defender of the Maidan, tells whoever will listen that Kiev is the only bilingual capital in Europe. Mind you, he also says Ukraine is a country of 50 million people, when he’s actually spotting them about 10 million. Ukraine lost around 3 million people in 2014 – and you know where they went – and the population currently stands at just under 43 million according to the state statistics service. But what’s a couple of million more or less? We routinely hear how a million or two well-educated and talented people rush for the exits in Russia every year, but by some miracle the population is increasing! The babushkas must be knitting new Russians in the basement at night, like the Keebler elves.

There’s no need to dissect Snyder’s embarrassing knowledge deficit further – my colleague, Paul Robinson, does a wonderful job of that – but suffice it to say Kiev is far from the only bilingual capital in Europe. More importantly, Snyder is playing up the distinctive nature of Ukrainian as if being able to switch between Russian and Ukrainian is an accomplishment on a par with speaking French and English. Russian and Ukrainian are both East Slavic languages descended from a common root – the language of the medieval Kievan Rus – and are mutually intelligible; that is, the two have sufficient common elements that if you can speak one fluently, you will be able to understand much of the other.

Get the picture? Western leaders, through the western media, rely on feted “experts” who do not know if their ass is bored or punched, but who nonetheless blather whatever their paymasters want to hear – and what they want to hear, pretty consistently, is that Russia is barbaric, weak and surly, reeling from sanctions which are wringing its economy like a dishrag. They want to hear that its population is steadily declining, thanks to its increasingly unpopular and unstable president. Timothy Garton Ash regularly paints a bloodcurdling – if you’re a Russian – picture of a tottering giant about to topple. Edward Lucas, narcissistic British bonehead, rails against Putin’s non-existent determination to bring the Baltics under his dictatorial command. Craaazzzy Annie Applebaum, Mrs former-Polish-political-wunderkind, snaps at her own entrails in a Russophobic delirium. Julia Ioffe. Luke Harding. Shaun Walker and Roland Oliphant. Simon Ostrovsky of Vice News. Rainbow-Brite Hater Jamie Kirchik of The Daily Beast. Too many to name them all, each pumping out soporific smoke that reassures westerners of their ongoing moral superiority and perspicacious judgment. All of it totally manufactured nonsense, delivered with a straight face in an atmosphere in which nobody wishes to challenge their accuracy, because it just feels so good to let go and believe.

I’m not arguing this so the west will come to its senses and try to repair the damage it has done to international relationships, entirely owing to society’s own myopic stupidity and epic eagerness to be fooled. It’s much too late for that; Russia has reached the realization that it cannot be a partner to the west so long as Russia insists upon making its own decisions and following its own policies. Consequently, it is decisively turning away from the west and reordering its markets, its institutions and its partnerships. Some business relationships might recover, but the west will not be trusted again for a generation at least. Because you can’t trust someone who will not listen to reason.

I’m arguing it because the rest of the world is looking aghast at the west as if it had gotten drunk at their kids’ birthday party and made an ass of itself, and it’s embarrassing.


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2,207 Responses to The Weaponization of Ignorance: the West’s Go-To Experts

  1. Cortes says:

    It also needs saying due to the canalisation of public opinion in “The West “.
    Thank you again!!!

  2. et Al says:

    Well Mark, the torrent of b/s spouted by the self-proclaimed and good will only serve one function in the end – something for Western Screaming Heads (TM) to drown in as none of what they produce actually makes a damn worth of difference. There is no talent preaching to the converted, but much of these so called credibly western institutions have also lost credibility with their own citizens. It’s a model case of the decline and fall of empire & power. It’s only going to get funkier.

    Meanwhile, as if on cue, the Brits are still playing at calling the shots:

    Neuters: UK softens tone against Syria’s Assad, moots transition period

    Britain could accept Syrian President Bashar al-Assad staying in place for a transition period if it helped resolve the country’s conflict, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday, in what appeared to be a softening of tone on the Syrian leader….

    …Reuters reported on Wednesday that Russian forces have begun participating in combat operations in Syria to help defend Assad’s government, citing three Lebanese sources familiar with the political and military situation there.

    Hammond told parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that a political rather than military solution was needed and said Britain had made clear to Russia and Iran, Assad’s principal international allies, that it would be prepared to discuss a plan which saw him stay on temporarily.

    “If there is a sensible plan for transition that involves Assad remaining in some way involved in the process for a period of time we will look at that, we will discuss it. We are not saying he must go on day one,” he said, adding that the transition could be a period of months….

    …Hammond rejected Russia’s suggestion Syria could hold snap parliamentary elections which could see Assad share power.

    “That is not an acceptable position. The international community cannot in my view facilitate and oversee a set of elections in which somebody guilty of crimes of the scale that Assad has committed is able to run for office,” he said…

    We’ll not hang you now Bashar, we’ll hang you a bit later. Deal?

    The Brits yet again speaking for the US. Who needs puppets when you can have a poodle? Woof!

    • marknesop says:

      That’s the kind of stuff that makes me throw things. Jesus Q. Johnnycake, what is it with Britain and its conviction that the world is comprised of Britain, and her colonies, which she suffers to live only insofar as they conform to a standard of decorum bred in Whitehall? Poxy gits; “Britain could accept Syrian President Bashar al-Assad staying in place for a transition period if it helped resolve the country’s conflict, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday“. Is that so? What that has been instigated by the UK in the last decade would lead you to believe Britain’s opinion was indispensable?

      “…Hammond rejected Russia’s suggestion Syria could hold snap parliamentary elections which could see Assad share power.

      “That is not an acceptable position. The international community cannot in my view facilitate and oversee a set of elections in which somebody guilty of crimes of the scale that Assad has committed is able to run for office,” he said…”

      That’s because he knows full well Assad would win in a landslide, and the appropabation of his people cannot be allowed to interfere with Britain railroading him for war crimes without a trial. War crimes! Jesus Christ! What the fuck does he think has been goinmg on in Ukraine?? There’s a whole hell of a lot more evidence of what’s going on there and who’s responsible for it, but “the international community” could not care less.

      I had to take a deep-breathing break. The important thing is to get some effort brought to bear on reversing ISIS and driving them back, and eventually, out. Then Russia will have a little more breathing room for Britain’s case to collapse. I’m sure Russia would not preserve Assad only to see the British cart him off to The Hague.

      I was just reading an old post, linked in another reply, and ran across some research I did on the position of General Secretary of the UN. Did you know that Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were nominated to run against Ban Ki-Moon? Blair was still PM at the time, and the UN General Secretary cannot be from any of the veto-wielding powers, so they were both ineligible – but can you imagine?

      • et Al says:

        It’s a particularly British skill putting other people’s backs up. Today we call it trolling for that is surely what his PR team is aiming at. Why? Because they can and they enjoy it.

        Of course, two can play at that game, but the Russians should, selectively do this also. It’s not hard.

        If only Philip Hammond had an actual talent apart from trolling that was valuable. Something like this:

    • Oddlots says:

      Out-fucking-standing. Finally we have been able to field an adult. This is EXACTLY what we need to hear.

      Cheered me up no end.

  3. james says:

    thanks mark… “Nobody said sorry.” that and the constant hypocrisy from the west via the msm, drives me fucking crazy.. lying and pushing for all the wrong reasons never really impressed me.. at bit part of me doesn’t follow the msm for these reasons.. when the herd is going one way, i’m going to be going the other way.. fb – naw… msm – naw, living in a cave – yeah, lol.. i admire your work trying to dissect it all.. that is a constant uphill battle that isn’t ever going to stop!

  4. james@wpc says:

    Well said, Mark. I agree the road ahead looks bleak and is not about to get any better any day soon.

    The reason for the eye-rolling of the rest of the world is that few in the West know how to think. Fewer still know that they have been deliberately taught not to think (through being ridiculed for asking questions and not being told the difference between Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom) and to look to shills and idiots known as ‘experts’ to do their thinking for them.

    This is not how we survived two million years. Oops, sorry, that should read 6000 years . . . . and never mind those dinosaur bones! Regardless, we will not survive a similar time span either way, or anything like it, into the future

  5. Warren says:

    Published on 9 Sep 2015
    An unsourced story originating on an Israeli website claimed Russia was about to deploy significant military assistance to Syria to fight Islamic State. This set the media aflame and had Washington issuing warnings. The story was not only unsourced, but also untrue. But it did reveal how the West frames its illegal war against Syria. CrossTalking with Eric Draitser, Danny Makki and Fawaz Gerges.

  6. marknesop says:

    Hey, Lyttenburgh! Do you live in Moscow? Russia Insider is looking for a Volunteer Coordinator, a paid position for which your command of English would stand you in good stead. You never know; it could be a longtime gig doing something you like to do.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Thank you for the info, Mark. Yes, I’m in Moscow/Moscow region, but already have my hands full to accept a full time job. Thanks anyway!

  7. Jen says:

    I’ve heard of Rory Gallagher but never heard his music. I believe he was Irish.

    All the good Irish rock stars die young (RIP Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott) and the smug ones relocate their tax base to the Netherlands, rub shoulders with Tony Blair and George W Bush, and never take their sunglasses off in case the sunlight hits them and shrivels them up into fine ash and a pair of unusually pointy canine teeth.

    Thanks again for another excellent post.

    PS – Yalensis has a new blog Awful Avalanche at if you want to know what he’s been up to.

    • marknesop says:

      Blues guitarists today could walk all over Rory Gallagher – Stevie Ray Vaughn was far more a master of the genre. But the blues has come a long, long way since the 1970’s, when melodies were generally simpler and more repetitive, and groundbreakers like Vaugh were not even on the horizon. Rory Gallagher was brilliant for his day: a pop legend has it that Jimi Hendrix, when asked how it felt to be the world’s greatest guitarist, is said to have replied “I don’t know; why don’t you go ask Rory Gallagher?” You don’t see many greats in that field who hail from Ireland, which is not to say there are not great musicians and contributors to Pop, rock and the Blues from Ireland. Eddi Reader of Fairground Attraction was from Ireland, and her voice was one of the loveliest jewels in Pop music.

      Here’s Rory Gallagher at the Hammersmith Odeon, in 1977. He was a little more accomplished in the early 90’s, had more experience, but he was beginning to bloat up a bit from his liver problems, and I prefer to remember him like this. In interviews he consistently came across as the quintessential nice guy, very humble, and always earnest about connecting with the audience. He used to say that even when he played large concert venues, he would always pretend he was playing in a small club, because if you didn’t have that give-and-take with the audience, well, you had nothing and what were you doing it for?

      Thanks for the tip on Yalensis’s blog – it looks great for the short time he’s had it running, and I think he has a natural flair for it. I added his link. Thanks for the kind words, as well.

      Here’s another underrated blues guitarist that nobody has ever heard of – Pat Travers, doing the old standard, “Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights“. Pat Travers is a Canadian, from Toronto.

      • james says:

        i wouldn’t say that.. i thought rory was awesome as a blues/rock guitarist.. stevie rae vaughn not so much.. sorry.. blues is blues… it got swallowed up in rock and roll for the most part and most people think of blues as a type of rock music today.. zztop, rolling stones, acdc, led zepplin and etc. these are all rock bands heavily influenced by the blues – blues/rock bands basically.. this is what a younger generation of blues guitarists are coming up and being influenced by.. now, they could go back to the earlier blues cats and benefit from that, but even with someone like david gogo who is a ‘canadian blues musician’ having won maple awards here in canada for playing the blues… he sounds more like some kind of rock guitarist influenced by the blues then straight up blues to me! robin trower, as opposed john mayall for example.. to he lives here in nanaimo where i live. david vest down in victoria who i have also played with – you and your wife ought to take him in.. he’s won the awards too.. most folks have never heard of clarksdale mississippi and maybe that’s okay, lol!!

        • marknesop says:

          Oh, I thought Rory was a great guitarist as well – but Stevie Ray Vaughn was much more technically skilled. He plays rock-influenced music because it sells, but on pure blues he can still really stretch out. Another artist who is mostly on the Pop side except for his occasional ventures into Swing is Colin James; here he is on “Sudden Stop“. That sure sounds like Blues to me. We went to see Colin James at the Royal Theatre with an abbreviated version of The Little Big Band, two evenings before our daughter was born. She seemed to like the sound, if her kicking was any indication.

          Mind you, technical skill isn’t everything, and today’s blues greats built on the skills of those who went before. Rory Gallagher had no technical skill – he was largely self-taught and played by ear, so he was pure feeling. The look onstage of artists like him was what drew me into music – they always looked to be having the time of their lives.

          David Gogo is another who is technically very good, but he is a knockoff of Stevie Ray Vaughn, you’re absolutely right about that. You can hear it in “Soul Fever“, he even sings like Stevie Ray.

          However, some of the young blues guitarists pull off even better versions of the old classics than the originals – for example, I love Johnny Lang’s take on “Still Rainin’“. The Telecaster is a really odd choice for a blues guitar, too – it was designed for country players. Works here, though; I guess with enough effects you can make any guitar sound like any other.

          • james says:

            the tele is a popular guitar right now.. most music i hear that folks call the blues – i hear it as rock.. the johnny lang song typifies this.. basic rock music.. technical know how isn’t the same as evoking strong feeling and emotion in music. most musicians i know will go with the later over the former if they are hiring a player or want to work with someone who will engage an audience.. i like coliin james who is a better known canadian musician associated with the blues. he has done some great stuff and i like some of his music. he grew up on rock music too, but ever since he played with stevie rae vaughn when he was 15 or whatever, he was considered a part of the blues genre, lol.. they all rightly look up to hendrix!!!! i played with colin james back in 1985.. rode up on the train with him from vancouver to edmonton to do a new years eve gig opening for k.d. laing. at that time k.d. and band sounded awesome!

            • marknesop says:

              I guess it’s all in what you like. But to me – remember, speaking from a guitarist’s perspective – the blues is distinguished by those long, soaring, single-note bendy sustains and that thick, fat tone. That’s the style Johnny Lang plays, and in my personal opinion the Tele is not an ideal guitar for that because the neck is too narrow – especially at the nut. If you try to do those dramatic bends you risk going right off the edge of the neck. Additionally, the Tele’s pickup layout and tone control are maximized for a bright, treble sound while the Strat has a better pickup layout for a variety of tones, and a wider neck. The Strat is kind of heavy, though, to have hanging around your neck all evening. I have seen rock guitarists use the Tele – Bruce Springsteen, for one, and I believe Keith Richards favoured one as well. But while I like the look of them, I found the feel to be very stiff and unforgiving.

              I could see Johnny Lang offending blues purists because he relies heavily on the wah-wah pedal, and in general blues music is not distinguished by a reliance on effects – like jazz, it’s usually played straight and clean.

              My current amplifier – I love it – is a Line6 Flextone II. Here’s a review of it; on the left there’s a control that lets you set “amplifier models”, where they have digitally restored the unique sound of, say, the Fender Tweed. The Brit Class A, for example, is based on the 1963 Vox AC 30 with Top Boost. Some are models I never heard of, like the 1996 Matchless Chieftain. On the right is a selection of popular effects that you normally have to buy separately, like the Flanger, Phase-Shifter and Compressor. I got it by an incredible stroke of luck – my son gave it to me. He bought it, with a cheap guitar, from somebody who was looking to get rid of it because they didn’t learn to play, and he said it was much too loud for his apartment.

              I meant to add that it is really cool you played with Colin James – he’s one of the world’s most accomplished guitarists for his style, and his style is forever changing. He started out pure rock (or at least from when he started recording), although he always liked to have a little brass. Occasionally you see a little touch of reggae in there, like “Give it Up”. I love almost everything he did with The Little Big Band, but I think my favourite is “Let’s Shout“. He usually plays a Stratocaster, but in this clip it’s a Gibson Les Paul, looks like a custom model; the lower bridge is not standard. It has a very fat sound, but it still punches through everything. I like that he does not ever do ear-bleeding solos, even though his technique is marvelous, and he is not a solo hog, either, going on and on. Usually one verse, and that’s it.

              Speaking of Big Bands, have you heard of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy? They’re an American band, and they also have a great sound. I like a lot of their stuff, but “Big Time Operator” is fairly exemplary.

              I love KD Lang’s voice; she is a brilliant talent. They bill her as a Country & Western singer, but in reality she can sing anything. The clip of “Crying” she did with Roy Orbison gave me chills – she even looked like him, and at times their voices were indistinguishable if you did not know the parts she sings.

              • james says:

                i agree with you about colin james and kd lang – both really great regardless of the style one wants to say they belong to.. i have never heard of big bad voodoo daddy – jump swing in the louis jordan or louis prima vein as i hear it! that is a popular style at present.. blues based but of a certain type that is not as connected to rock.. as a drummer i am mostly focused on the rhythms when i say some of the things i do!

                if you like this kind of music, you might want to check out nic lariviera – trombone player in victoria who plays in a band called the hi fis.. it is a bit like this vid you shared..

                i don’t know much about amps! i know the fender twin is/was a popular amp, but a heavy pig to carry around. i have carried a few of them..

                jeff beck played a strat. i always enjoyed what he did from back in the 70’s.. hendrix played a strat too and he played some great blues as well. the tele seems really popular right now with a number of jazz cats i know… i like the raunchier sound that the strat gets myself, but if you want a clean sound i suppose you can get it on both.. guitar is not my thang!

                • marknesop says:

                  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy got a break and a lot of recognition when “You And Me And the Bottle Makes Three Tonight” appeared in the film “Swingers”. I’m pretty sure that was my first acquaintance with them; I wanted to know who that band was. I am starting to feel like I walked into an episode of “The Twilight Zone” on this subject, because I could have sworn they also appeared in “The Mask” with Jim Carey, but I can’t find any record of it, and don’t even remember anything about the film “Swingers” or ever having seen it. Just a scene where somebody chases someone else into a club, and that band is playing. So I went looking for them in the music store, and bought a CD that features some live tracks recorded at the U.S. Military base in Naples, Italy. And now I cannot find any reference to any such CD anywhere, and none of the album covers shown look familiar. I’ll have to look when I get home, it’s in the car. Weird. Anyway, I really like their sound, standout tracks are the two I already linked, as well as “Mr. Pinstripe Suit“.

                  I can see where the tele would lend its sound fairly well to jazz, because its natural, unmodified sound is clean and crisp. But for some reason, jazz guys almost never play solid-body guitars. They lean toward big semi-acoustic models like the Gibson Byrdland and Gibson Stereo. The guitarist for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy plays something like that, I’m not sure what it is, and Brian Setzer (formerly the guitarist of the Stray Cats and now of the Brian Setzer Orchestra) plays a guitar that is almost as big as he is. You might like them, if you’ve never heard of them; Brian Setzer is a very accomplished guitarist and the concept of a Big Band led by a guitar is, so far as I know, unique. Here they are doing “Jump, Jive & Wail“. Setzer’s guitar is a Gretsch, looks like an Electromatic.

      • Cortes says:

        Eddi Reader Scottish, I think.

        Agreed on Rory Gallagher, some of whose finest moments are captured on Old Grey Whistle Test. His hometown is a lovely typical wee Donegal town and has a great bookshop.

        • marknesop says:

          ‘Pon my soul, you’re right. I could have sworn she was Irish – the Scots will have me, I won’t be able to enter the country, my picture will be in all the airports. No change in my estimation of her voice, though. I saw her live once, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, at the Larmer Tree Festival in England. But her parting from Fairground Attraction must have been bitter, as musical relationships often are, and she announced before she even got started that they would not be doing any Fairground Attraction material. The stuff she was doing at the time was very socially aware, the environment and destruction of the rain forest and all, and while it was interesting from a political perspective, it was rather sombre and completely lacked the go-to-hell bounce of “Perfect”.

          Van Morrison – the old lecher – was the headliner that year, and I was introduced to the amazing Antonio Forcione.

          • Cortes says:

            She appeared in the BBC’s excellent “Tutti Frutti” series in the late 90s or early noughties- a real nostalgia fest from the pen of John Byrne.

  8. Lyttenburgh says:

    Another great article, Mark!

    I’ve been arguing since… 2012, I think, that the West, it’s media – both entertainment and news services – are beholden to what I call an “Ouroboros effect”. There is one successful, time-tasted and profitable trademark, let’s call it – “Russophobia”. It sells. It sells really good. There is a constant demand for it and no shortage of supply.

    But the most beatiful thing of all? “Ouroboros effect” is self sustaining! Clients demand more of what they like and are used to (“Russophobia”), and the producers are glad to oblige, supply them (and a few of uninitiated) with it, thus strengthening the clients perceptions on the topic in question and making them crave more of it.

    Clients are fed basically the same stuff for decades with little or no variations in flavor or consistence – and they gladly swallow all of it and demand more.

    And this “immortal, perfectly constructed animal” (Plato’s words, not mine) has an in-built defense systems. Someone is suggesting that biting and sucking your own tail right next to a place where your feces come out is disgusting and there are more healthy things to eat around here? Why, it must paid Kremlin’s propaganda, paid Kremlin-trolls, brainwashed serfs of the Regime or bullied by KGB poor and innocent souls. They are not to be trusted, for sure.

    Someone said, that a true totalitarism is not the fact that a StateSec can come one day and take away some “undesirable”. It’s when the neighbors of these “undesirables” are ratting them away, or take part in lynching of the “Enemy”, while policing each other for the slightest sign of sedition and calling it “Being Vigilant”. Or something like that.

    Currently there is no any meaningful dialog between the West and Russia. On any level. I’m speaking not only about governments here – I’m talking about every single level of possible communication. Ultimately, I’m talking about people. The West preaches that “when people from different ethnic and religious and cultural backgrounds come together it enriches learning and creativity”. In fact, it actually means that everyone must adopt “universal” (read – Western) set of values to be successful and productive, and all other opinions are just “undesirable”.

    Right now, I don’t see any way to change the Western narrative about Russia. Russophobia is a time-tested product in high demand. The West demands from Russia “conversion” to its superior “values” and is not interested in any compromises or even entertaining the mere thought that the Culturally Superior West might adopt something from Russia as well. And Russia for a change decided that it’s fed up with this sanctimonious shit piled on it for decades and would rather have an independent policy, thank you very much.

    Ouroboros will suck on its own tail. Maybe, when it stops this highly entertaining activity the whole wide world will experience the escape from the wheel of Sansara and unite in a humanity-wide Nirvana. Or the pigs will learn to fly.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Lyttenburgh! Your post was a great success – it pulled in 7,267 hits as of this moment, and garnered 1,333 comments. Well done; any time you feel that old writing bug biting, this is the place for you. Also, as I just mentioned to Yalensis, if you throw together something punchy and you appear to have it before anyone else (shouldn’t be hard, considering your fluently bilingual access to the Russian news market), submit it to Russia Insider. They’re always looking for new writers, and sadly, the Russian point of view is almost never told in English – those western journalists who can read it, and they are few, know the cause of Russophobia is best served by leaving Russia up to the readers’ imaginations. Those imaginations almost invariably default to the western narrative.

    • et Al says:

      Some people say that perpetual motion is impossible due to physics.

      I say it does exist in abstract and is in use, but not in the form most people look for. In fact is has existed for a long time for Russophobes who have perfected over many years the Perpetual Motion Bullshit Machine. It never has any shortage of recruits, it works entirely on hot air, its output though predictable is not always uniform and it of course bears no resemblance to reality.

    • et Al says:

      What exquisite timing:

      Financial Crimes: Russian group accused of hacking satellites

      One of the world’s most sophisticated hacking groups, linked to the Russian government, has been accused of hijacking vulnerable commercial satellite communications, using hidden receiving stations in Africa and the Middle East to mask attacks on Western military and governmental networks.

      The group, which operates Ouroboros — the virulent malware also known as “Snake” or “Turla” — was outed last year as having mounted aggressive cyber espionage operations against Ukraine and a host of other European and American government organisations over nearly a decade.

      In a report released on Wednesday, digital security and intelligence firm Kaspersky Lab, which was among the first to analyse the Ouroboros hackers’ activities in 2014, said it had identified a new “exquisite” attack channel being used by the group that was virtually untraceable…

      …Western security officials have previously told the Financial Times they believe Ouroboros to be a Russian operation — a fact supported by the group’s targets and clues in the coding of the malware itself.

      Satellite operators are meanwhile powerless to prevent the hackers from routing requests through their networks — at least for the next few years. The only other way to do so, experts note, would be for them to encrypt all of their downstream communications — a process that would require the launch of entirely new satellite arrays.

      This piece certainly ticks all the boxes of Fear Uncertainly & Doubt.

      Two points:

      1: Not only would new satellites have to be sent up, but satellite receiving equipment would have to be upgraded on the ground, though I would assume that these days is could be done through software;

      2: But, bu, but haven’t we been told many times that Kaspersky – a Russian software security firm – is close to the Kremlin. If so, then why ‘uncover’ this story that would be so apparently damaging to their own friends? Of course this is one step of logic that no self-respecting active or passive russophobic journalist, or simply one enjoying it, would deign to ask.

      So you see, yet again and apart from Kaspersy in this case, no other named source is willing to come out and publicly name finger the Russians and of course the Kremlin by association. Yes kids, its is journalism at its finest!

    • chios-tears says:

      Sorry, it is in french

      I was thinking of an other snake, where there is also a knot..’noeud’
      The benzene ring
      The two rings.

      Some dreaming thoughts.

      And thanks a lot for everything.

  9. Warren says:

    Syria crisis: Nato concerned by Russia ‘military build-up’

    The US and Nato have expressed concern over reports that Russia is increasing its military presence in Syria.

    Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said if confirmed, Russia’s involvement would not help to solve the conflict.

    Separately on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry “reiterated” his concerns to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the phone.

    Russia, a key ally of Syria during its four-year civil war, says it has sent military experts but that is all.
    Correspondents say that without Moscow’s backing, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have fallen by now.

    • marknesop says:

      It is clear the USA does not want any help in Syria, unless it is from its trusted allies. I wonder why? Does Washington honestly think people are so dozy that they can’t catch on? A couple of other things are clear, too; one, either the USA’s intelligence is terrible or it did not even bother to check if the rumors are true, because the Kremlin has said it has no immediate plans to intervene in Syria. However, two, the USA obviously does not trust the answer, because it has already taken the step of asking European allies in the region to deny permission for overflight to Russia. It seems fairly obvious that the USA does not want Russia in Syria even though it is “losing” to ISIS.

      I’m sure the Kremlin is well aware that the USA is covertly helping and encouraging ISIS, and hopes they will overrun Damascus. And Britain’s snooty attitude about Assad possibly continuing in his position as leader suggests they expect the push that will overwhelm Assad to come soon. I can’t believe Russia is just going to sit back and let it happen, knowing the main purpose is to enable a Qatari gas pipeline that will cut it out of the European gas market.

      • Patient Observer says:

        The pipeline is a big deal but they also want to remove (no, murder) any non-compliant national leader – need to keep up the image of invincibility. Notice how the leaders of Iraq, Serbia and Libya were all murdered directly or indirectly by Western hands.

        Western propaganda simply provides cover for the vast majority of the US population who are fearful of recognizing the Empire’s hideous face,

        It has come up in this blog from time to time that most Americans are basically decent and simply lack access to truthful information. I tend to disagree. Anyone with decency and half a brain would not be deluded by the idiocy that passes for news. In short, the majority of Americans choose to be ignorant because they are cowards.

        • Fern says:

          You’re quite right about the importance of the image of invincibility achieved by the literal or metaphorical grinding of all opposition into the dirt. In addition to the list you give, it seems that Yanukovich was also targeted for assassination, only narrowly escaping with his life and yet his ‘crime’ was the seemingly pretty minor one of deferring the EU Association Agreement. The same kind of conquering mentality was discernible in the Greek bailout negotiations when the Troika went all out to heap humiliation on Tspiras. A glimpse of the psychopaths behind the liberal, democratic masks.

        • Oddlots says:

          Well said. I’ve posted this before but it strikes me as a brilliant insight into the level of denial you are talking about:

      • james@wpc says:

        This is speculation but what makes sense to me is that there is a faction (at least) within the Russian govt that is pushing for upping the military support to Syria and this fabricated controversy is an attempt to head off that internally proposed Russian initiative.

        All this, to me, points to the US getting desperate to overcome the SAA, and soon, otherwise ‘all is lost’

  10. Patient Observer says:

    I knew immediately from the title it was going to be good; very well said and devastatingly effective. Their institutionalized fantasies are helpful – better a deluded and smug enemy than a rational and determined foe.

  11. Oddlots says:

    “…rely on feted “experts” who do not know if their ass is bored or punched…”

    God you make me laugh.

    Thanks for the intro to Rory Galagher. Completely new to me. Working through some you tube videos and it’s far better for my blood-pressure than getting caught up on the day’s “mendacity index.”

    Btw I came across this today:

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, the plan to tip over Syria does go back quite a bit, and the USA has always wanted to take him out because he is a Russian ally. His refusal of the Qatari pipeline deal put the writing on the wall for him.

      • Oddlots says:

        I remember some U.S. Economic wonk talking about the way Syria seemed to sit out the GFC of 2008 as if it was somehehow sinister that the “cheap seats” would get a – cough – pass.

        Wish I could remember who it was. Someone of Summers’ stature but not him.

        At the time it struck me as utterly perverse: Let me get this straight… You are belittling this country because its government – maybe by accident: who cares? – has insulated its citizens from the worst of our epochal melt down? You do realize, given the country’s level of development, that you are talking about whether the population can, you know, eat?

        Of course no-one called him on it.

        • marknesop says:

          I smell the earthy and pastoral bouquet of bovine excrement. Both USA Today and Die Zeit are agreed that ISIS/ISIL numbers only about 20,000-30,000 members. Yet representatives of the “USA-led Coalition” claim to have killed more than 15,000 of them, in around 5,500 air strikes – an air strike for every 6 people in the organization.

          Oh, sure, USA Today claims that recruiting has offset the losses, but seriously – a force of no more than 30,000 is prevailing against the Syrian Army and the USA-led Coalition, despite the fact that it has no air force of its own, and gaining like a brush fire? What kind of nancies is the USA-led coalition recruiting these days? Can you hear, ghost of Simon de Montfort, whose tiny force of French knights defeated a force more than 20 times their own number at Muret? It’s no good – the professionalism of the Syrian army is well-established, and they were enjoying significant success against the rebels until the USA poked its warty nose in and said “I insist that I help you; no, no, you’re not doing it right”, and ISIS straight away began to gain ground. There is no reasonable explanation other than that Washington will countenance no other outcome than an ISIS victory, and is working energetically toward that goal.

  12. Oddlots says:

    As a thanks, one of my favourite guitarists:

    • james says:

      i like james blood ulmer too!

      • Oddlots says:

        I had an EP of him on an English label called Rough Trade playing “Little Red House” live that I ache for like a lost limb. I think Vernon Reid played violin but can’t remember the drummer. It was epic and utterly simple. Just the three of them and they threw up a mind-blowing, magnificent wall of noise. I can still hear it in my head. Genius.

  13. Moscow Exile says:

    ООН: на Донбассе погибли почти 8 тыс. человек

    UN: in the Donbass almost 8 thousand people have died
    Almost 8 thousand people have lost their lives in Eastern Ukraine since mid-April 2014. This is stated in a report published by the UN Monitoring mission on human rights in the Ukraine, reports Ukraine National News.

    In the report, which covers the period from 16 may to 15 August 2015, it is noted that the number of civilian casualties has increased by more than half compared with the previous three months: 105 people were killed and 308 injured compared to 60 killed and 102 wounded between February 16 and may 15.

    So, since the conflict began in Eastern Ukraine in mid-April of 2014, at least 7,962 people, including members of the Ukrainian Armed forces, civilians and members of armed groups, have been killed and at least 17,811 wounded, the high Commissioner said, citing the latest available data.

    And a deathly silence about this in the Western media.

    • Oddlots says:

      According to S.F. Cohen German intelligence puts the figure at 50 k and that seems reasonable to me. But out of date.

      • marknesop says:

        I’m with him. The casualties in Syria are hyped considerably higher than the real figure, because the activists want to provoke a NATO intervention and a high kill count argues for that, while the aim in Ukraine is the exact opposite.

        • et Al says:

          That’s the Bosnian Gambit. Not long after the civil war in Bosnia started, Cherif Bassiouni picked 200,000 dead Bosnian civilians out of his ass and the Pork Pie News Networks ran with it like an olympic gold marathon runner.

          He of course hails from the De Paul university, one of the biggest sources serbophobic hate during the conflict. He’s a Humanitarian War warrior of the first odor:

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yes, Cohen and German intelligence say that the 8K figure only correlates to morgue body counts; the total figure is much higher.

        Yukie news and Western Pork Pie News always implies these deaths are caused by the blood thirsty Evil One. Svidomite bloggers even post pictures of slaughtered by Yukie army artillery barrages Donbass civilians, stating that this is the work of Russia’s bloody hands.

        Included in those Svidomite propaganda blogs are horrific images of disembowelled, limbless Ukrainian Donbass citizens, including women and babies and small children. The Svidomites even show pictures of those civilians murdered by Yukie air force cluster bombs at Lugansk, including pictures of that woman in the red dress who had her legs partly blasted off and who was still conscious and speaking shortly before she died, claiming that their deaths were caused by Putin.

        These Ukrainians are strange! They have themselves photographed with their flag in Russian cities and then stress that Russians are their enemy … For me this is very hard to understand. Why do they do this? By doing this, might they be wanting to show how friendly a nation the “damned Moskaly” are?

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    Bloody Arseny in the 90’s

    Here’s a Waging Wabbit’s wedding day photograph taken some 5 years after he had allegedly participated on the side of Dudayev’s breakaway Chechen Republic in the First Chechen War against Russia. He has also been accused of torturing Russian prisoners of war during that conflict.

    If these allegations against Yatsenyuk are true, then Noodleman’s candidate “Yats” would have been a “brother-in-arms’ of that delightful, late and not so lamented Oleksandr Ivanovych Muzychko (aka Sashko Bilyi [Сашко Білий] – “White Sasha”]):

    What a lovable old rogue Sasha was!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      As I mentioned earlier, the Russian blogosphere is now awash with mocking photoshopped pictures of the martial Yats, and real ones of his past, such as the wedding photo above.

    • marknesop says:

      It looks as if Yats did very well for himself – the missus is rather dishy. He, on the other hand, looks about 14 and not up to the night that awaits. He looked sort of innocent then, didn’t he? Hard to imagine he turned into the venal sourpuss he did, like some sort of bizarre Ukrainian Mr. Burns.

      Yes, lovable old dead rogue Sasha the White. In that photograph, the knife in his mouth makes his head look like the world’s ugliest shashlik.

    • Oddlots says:

      The guy’s a monster just based on who he represents.

      But I just can’t see this bloodless corpse of a humanbeing having the will to commit mayhem on a living, breathing human.

      Seriously, how credible do you think this charges are?

  15. Jen says:

    Some interesting news on Gary Kasparov: he’s been implicated in a plot to get himself elected President of the World Chess Federation, in which he would take on Ignatius Leong to help with his election campaign and pay him $500K and in return open a federation office in Singapore with Leong at the helm, for which Kasparov would receive a kickback.

    Also I just found out he now holds Croatian citizenship after being knocked back by Latvia when he applied to that country for citizenship – because he would not give up Russian citizenship as required by Latvian procedures. (You would think he should have tried to find out if he could keep dual citizenship before applying.)

  16. A well-earned rant there; I agree with just about everything you say. And I do remember Rory Gallagher, having seen him with Taste at Leicester’s Il Rondo Club in Silver Street, and also at the Roundhouse in London. He didn’t turn up to the Christmas Eve gig at Mother’s in Erdington, Taste were booked to play, due to an unusual snowstorm. I went there with my mate of the time, Charlie Whitney, lead guitarist of Family, in another friend’s Mini-Moke … God, I do go on once you get me started, don’t I?

    • marknesop says:

      I love to hear such reminiscences; it reminds us of a much simpler time. All the intrigues were there then, too, but we were mostly blissfully unaware, so there was more time to enjoy the things we loved. I would have loved to see Rory Gallagher live; I never did.

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    Польша: зудящее желание реституции
    Poland: A nagging desire for restitution

    Poland – the eternal enemy of the Ukraine. And it is unfortunate that the representatives of the Kiev regime are not capable of recognizing this fact that has been written and voiced by many historical and philosophical minds. So says the leader of the Ukraine Union of Left Forces,, Vasilii Volga, who is amused by the misunderstanding shown by high representatives of the Kiev regime as regards the real goals of the relationship between the Ukraine and the heirs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

    Yeah, well … the perfidious Moskaly subhuman Orcs are the real enemy of the Ukraine, aren’t they?

    • marknesop says:

      I would be willing to bet that a map strikingly similar to the one pictured was swimming in and out of the consciousness of former NATO Secretary-General-in-waiting Radek Sikorsky when he blurted out that outrageous falsehood about hearing Putin propose the carving-up of Ukraine to Poland’s leaders. He went for it because he knew English-speakers would immediately assume it was true, and did not count on Polish pushback from his rivals because, like most stuck-on-themselves diplomatic golden boys, it did not occur to him that he had any serious rivals among the dullards that make up his fellows in Poland’s political milieu. I am more sure all the time that his bold declaration was a trial balloon to gauge Europe’s reaction to Poland’s repatriation of its former lands. He just decided to float it as a Russian plan in case Europe freaked out. He probably thought it was foolproof.

  18. Lyttenburgh says:

    A very detailed (chock full of unnecessary trivia and anecdotal evidences) review on the latest movie in the Police Academy franchise AKA “Mission in Kyiv”

    The Cops Who Would Save a Country

    By Masha Gessen
    Photographs by Misha Friedman

    One can assume that because the article uses a diminutive form of its “creators” (and I use this word here very… “liberally”) it was penned/filmed by a couple of plucky rascals from a kindergarten nearby. And reading it kinda confirms this suspicion. But, no – as revelatory as it is, both “creators” are in fact adult human beings.

    To give you a taste of the article (and “taste” is everything for such cheese obsessed individual as Masha Gessen), here’s an excerpt:
    “KIEV, Ukraine — On the eve of her first day on the job, Oksana Kapitanska, 28, was as ready as she could possibly be. Her kit was laid out on her single bed, watched over by a dozen stuffed animals: black pants and a black shirt, a black cap, a belt, a pair of handcuffs, pepper spray, a phone charger, a pad of paper, a pen, a street map of Kiev, a first-aid kit, and a knee brace. She bought the knee brace herself. Some of the rest was bought by the state of Ukraine. But most had been donated by wealthier countries: The first-aid kit, with a picture of a red kangaroo on it, came from Australia; the uniform and the boots, made by the American company 5.11 Tactical, were donated by the United States; and the car that Kapitanska and her two partners would be driving that day was a gift from Japan. It was a Prius.

    Kapitanska had gone through 10-and-a-half weeks of preparation, much of which had also been funded by the Americans, who had trained her trainers.

    The process had exposed a fundamental difference in approaches to policing, at least as it is taught. “The American approach is too tender,” explained Kapitanska, who was once trained to be an officer in the militsiya, as the police was called in the Soviet Union and, later, in Ukraine. “Everything is based on respect for personal freedom. Maybe that sort of thing works in the U.S.” Or at least that’s the ideal America exports, even in the age of Ferguson and Baltimore. I asked Kapitanska for an example, and she cited one I’d hear again and again.

    “Here, when we detain someone, we begin with a relaxing strike,” continued Kapitanska, sipping tea at the kitchen table in a tidy apartment on the outskirts of Kiev that she shares with her retired-cop father and retired-doctor mother. A what? That’s apparently what the American trainers asked, too. A “relaxing strike” is a painful blow to a nonessential body part — like, say, the shin — that makes the body go slack or relax. Without a relaxing strike, complained Kapitanska, “You have to perform all the detention maneuvers on muscles that are tense” — meaning, you have to handcuff the person and get him into your Prius without having turned him into a rag doll first. During training, she said, she kept slipping up — “muscle memory was kicking in” — but as a graduate of Ukraine’s new police academy, she knows that the relaxing strike and anything else that may be considered excessive force is “unacceptable.” Still, she added, “If I am confronted with an extreme situation, I’m going to have to use it.””

    The rest of the article is fabulously handshakable. We are reminded among other things, that Ukraine is the largest European country (Russia is – “You Know What”). That Soviet Militsiya didn’t catch bandits and do the normal job of protecting the law – it “was essentially a vast internal army, created to protect the regime from its citizens by terrorizing them”. Oh, and Masha Gessen apparently has some secret and 100500% irrefutable proof that “[i]n February 2014, it was militsiya special forces that fired at protesters on the Maidan, killing more than 100 opponents of then-President Viktor Yanukovych”. The fact that a year and a half later the official investigation of these events (carried out by democratically couped-in government in Kiev) is still ongoing and can’t present any conclusive proof is just a minor nuisance. Nothing to worry about! After all, aren’t the journos called “the 4th estate” and the heralds of Democracy and Freedom? Surely we must just take their word!

    Also, while reading this the article I got an impression that Masha Gessen has hots for Eka Zguladze-Glucksmann. Yes, that’s right – Zguladze-Glucksmann. And, yes – that’s not a coincidence. As Wikipedia’s entry on this “cinematically beautiful woman who seems capable of embodying Ukraine’s European ambition” (Masha’s words – not mine!) put it:

    ” Her former husband is the Georgian showman and media personality Gega Palavandishvili, by whom she has a son. Her second husband, whom she married in 2011, is the French journalist and film director Raphaël Glucksmann (born 1979), who is a son of the French philosopher and writer André Glucksmann and a former adviser to ex-President Saakashvili.”

    Once again – yes, André Glucksmann! A man, after whom on named a unit of batshit insane Russophobia in articles. A fucking ass-hat clown so pathetic and incapable of rational thoughts, that even Bernard-Henri Levy (another handshakable personality of French Russophobedom) can only envy him and his international… “fame”.

    But otherwise – article is totally smashing hit! It shows, that if you put in charge of reforms persons more interested in removing any Soviet legacies than to actually reform the police, they will surely succeed. Why, they are photogenic, Western-educated and English speaking! What else is needed? And with monthly salary of 8000 hryvnias (like less than $400) there is absolutely no chance that this brand new symbol of Ukraine European aspiration could resort ot such clearly Asian practice as taking bribes! In onceivable!

    And of course, this beign the Police Academy’s shitty “We-Are-Literally-Scraping-Down-The-Bottom” type of remake, it should also include this somewhere.

    Right, Masha?

      • marknesop says:

        A scenario straight (ha, ha; see what I did there?) out of “Boys Don’t Cry”. Although I loved that film, and it made the reputation for Hilary Swank that she could play anything; she was amazingly convincing as a boy, even when you knew.

        £19.99 for a strap-on? Isn’t it embarrassing to buy something like that from Wal-Mart? What was it made of – recycled cigarette filters?

    • marknesop says:

      Cinematically beautiful?? Are we talking “My Friend Flicka” beautiful, maybe?

      Physiognomy aside, Masha obviously admires Ms. Zguladge’s earlier modus operandi in Georgia – where, under her fiat, about 90% of the Georgian police force was fired and new officers hired within days. A very impressive performance, or it would be if it had resulted in the heralded improvement in police transparency. Did it? You tell me. The police Saalkashvili’s sweeping reforms put in place were responsible for the torture scandal at Gldani’s notorious Prison No. 8 – reform by broom handle. Simon Schuster – another Russophobe of epic proportions – treated Saakashvili as lovingly as the most loving of the western press did, rendering even more sweetly duplicitous Saaklashvili’s boastful comments;

      Torture, he said, had been common practice for Georgian law enforcement before the Rose Revolution. Even though Georgia suffered from endless electricity shortages back then, “every police station had their own generator to connect [to] people,” he said. “The only way for police to unearth some crimes was to torture, because people would not cooperate, everybody was scared to cooperate because they were scared of organized crime.” He added as an afterthought: “Of course, no one tortures here anymore.”

      Of course not, Mickey, you lying sack of shit. What an interesting philosophy – you could sort of understand the police force’s former need to torture people, because they were so scared of organized crime that your only recourse was to make them more scared of you. You can easily see how somebody with that sort of logic process grew and blossomed into an humanitarian for the ages. It is worth highlighting here that the western fascination with Saakashvili was an unparalleled phenomenon of its type, because it continues to this day. He is bulletproof; teflon – nothing sticks to him. When things go pear-shaped, he simply blames a subordinate and claims not to have known there were any warning signs, whereas if it is a success he claims all the credit and attributes it to his own stunning vision and perspicacity. There is a lesson in there about the kind of people “western-style reform” brings to the top, and it is all around you. Well, maybe not you, because you live in Moscow.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Oh, Mark, you just don’t understand! Accodring to Masha (and other members of Western Free and Independent Media ™). Don’t you see?

        “Many Georgians remember the prison scandal as the final nail in Saakashvili’s political coffin, but it should perhaps be remembered as the ultimate proof that his reforms had been successful: It is hard to imagine another former Soviet republic in which tapes like those would not only be aired on national television but would bring down senior government officials.”

        Oh, if only George Orwell wrote something about the situation, when 2+2 equals 5, bad is called good, and slavery is equated with freedom! Oh, wait…

        OTOH, Ukr Politzeis in the making are taught “tolerance”!

        ““They taught us that we can’t call prostitutes ‘prostitutes’ and drug addicts ‘drug addicts.’” Why not? “Because ‘prostitute’ is an insult. We should be calling them ‘criminal sex workers,’ and if prostitution is legalized, then we’ll call them ‘sex workers.’””

        This line about “if prostitution is legalized” sounds kinda… ominous.

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    Yukie navy, near Odessa:

    She’s the guided missile cruiser “Ukraine” (formerly Russian Navy “Admiral Lobov”), which is located at the shipyard “61 Communards” in Nikolaev.

    The ship is going to be sold, says commander of the Yukie navy Sergei Gaiduk.

    “the Cruiser ‘Ukraine’ will be decommissioned and sold off. Funds from her sale will go towards the construction of new ships and boats. In addition, to ensure the deployment of a guided missile cruiser, you need 3-4 frigates or destroyers”, he said.

    And they ain’t got none, it seems!

    I thought it was the Russian navy that consisted of rust-buckets.

  20. Moscow Exile says:

    More half-truths, distortions and outright fucking lies!

    To be premiered at the forthcoming Venice Film Festival:

    The spirit of Leni Riefenstahl lives on!

  21. Warren says:

    Russia: Green campaigners give babushkas a boost

    A Russian campaign to help elderly women who eke out a living selling food from their allotments is attracting lots of online support.

    • marknesop says:

      Titushki. I just wanted to use the term for nostalgia’s sake – I kind of miss it, after Titushki actually outnumbered non-Titushki Ukrainians during Ukraine’s Revolution Of Dignity; they were responsible for everything from being late for work to interest rates. Typically farseeing of the Titushki also to have staged a similar provocation in 2010, before they even were Titushki, so that nobody would suspect them.

      Actually, if you read further down, despite the knee-jerk claim of it being “a provocation” it does get refreshingly frank:

      This is not the first time the annual pilgrimage to the burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, which at times has attracted tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews, has caused frictions with the locals. In 2010, when some 30,000 Hasidic pilgrims came to Uman, local media reported that “aggressive behavior” by some Orthodox Jews had resulted in conflicts and brawls with residents, requiring riot police to intervene.

      The Times of Israel noted that many locals “resent the cordoning off by police” of a number of neighborhoods reserved for the pilgrims.

      However, things have apparently only got worse in the Ukrainian turmoil, with nationalist, and at times, openly neo-Nazi parties coming to power locally. According to Kirshboim, the current mayor of Uman was “appointed” by members of the far-right nationalist Svoboda party, which was recently implicated in deadly clashes in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev.

      “There is crazy state of anarchy here,” Kirshboim told the Times, adding that right-wing “activists” have been harassing Jews to score political points among the local population.

      “Whoever harasses the Hasidim more has a better chance of winning the elections in October,” the Jewish leader claimed.

      In a wider context, this is only the latest case of anti-Semitic violence in Europe in the last two-three years. Jews have recently been leaving Ukraine by the thousand, according to Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian league against Anti-Semitism.

  22. et Al says:

    OK. You all know about the western hyperventilation about ‘active Russian military involvement in the Syrian civil war’ meme schtick?

    I have a theory.

    1) Back in 2011, Syria ordered Yak-130* light-strike aircraft, which will be very helpful against the western backed terrorists, the order so far put on hold.

    2) I think what has changed is that that Russia is ready now to deliver them, hence the need for specialists, pre-fabbed housing and the preparation of Lataka(?) airfield and at least one other back up airfield. These planes will be flown and maintained by the Syrian Arab air force, not the Russian air force. It is fairly likely that Russians will be there to help and one assumes that the training of Syrian pilots in Russia must have already taken place (they kept that one quiet!). One interesting aspect that’s occurred to me is that if Syrian Yaks go in to combat, will they meet SAM systems given to ISIL/DAESH/whatever by the the West or its Gulf allies? If so, then there can be no doubt that the West has absolutley no problem with ISIL/DAESH/whatever at all and their condemnation of them is simply window dressing.

    3) Like other serious military analysts (I am not one as I have the attention span of a pissed, sic ‘UK’, gnat), I agree that it simply makes not military sense for Russia to get directly involved in Syria. Just look at the logistics train you would require for even a small force. I’ll give you an American analogue: back in 1999, much hoo-ha was made about sending Ah-64 Apaches to fight the evil Serbs in Kosovo so a handful were sent to northern Albania. But the logistics required a few hundred American soldiers to defend the base, infrastructure and MLRS for potential counter-strike, not to mention air defenses. It was a disaster and had no actual military logic.

    The simple question that the Pork Pie News Networks refuse to ask is “Why would Russian soldiers fight in Syria if Assad has battle hardened Iranian Guard troops on tap?“. Why don’t they ask this question? Because they don’t want to hear the answer! What professionals. It is neither unlikely that there are Russians who are fighting with the Syrian army, but in the capacity as Russian soldiers, no.

    4) Why did the Russians change their mind now? a) the Iran nuclear deal is sealed; b) Obama is looking towards his exit with out a huge steaming turd on his plate; c) Syrian air equipment is rapidly being worn out and harder to maintain; d) the West is terrible at handling multiple crises at the same time so this would be about distraction – i.e. it is a feint and Russia is not getting involved actively but it suits its own purposes that people believe it might (i.e. if they make a lot of noise but ultimately don’t do anything then it becomes much more of a real option – like how they preview policy with focus groups in the West); e) Russia is offering a solution to a problem that western policy makers have publicly failed to admit to having any kind of exit strategy after 4 years and more importantly, it looks extremely rational to western public opinion and the EU facing this refugee crisis.

    Of course, Russia may not be actually delivering the Yak-130s yet that is not so much the point. What has been the West’s reaction except for Class A bivolation?

    The US has ‘asked’ Bulgaria and Greece to block Russian overflights. We can assume that they have asked others but there are other less convenient ways to get supplies to Syria already, so nothing has really changed or is new.

    The UK has condescended to allow Assad to stay alive for another six months so that ISIL/DAESH/whatever can be crushed. No doubt the UK is yet again speaking for the US as is their role in such affairs.

    What is clear is that the West is afraid of having the rug being pulled out from under it and no longer has the luxury of limitless time to grind down Syria down slowly in to dust by any means necessary (including the support of islamic terrorists). Russia has served notice.

    What this marks (as others have already written before me), is Russia no longer simply being content to hold the line against western encroachment on Russia’s strategic interests, but is the potential start of push back. Call it active defense if you will, but we see that Russia has prepared its back stop (deals with China, oil trade in Rouble/Yen etc.) and is now confident to step forth more actively. It’s been a long time coming. Even then, it is still quite cautious behavior by the Kremlin but it shows how far Russia has come since the wolves were at the gates.


    • marknesop says:

      Russia will have to engage sooner or later if it wishes – and it does – to preserve its use of Tartus. There were indications before the Syrian crisis went into overdrive that Russia intended to expand the facilities at Tartus rather than withdraw, and Tartus represents the Russian navy’s last and only remote outpost; moreover, it opens on the strategically-vital Mediterranean. Will Russia have to fight for Tartus? Uh huh, if ISIS continues its advance. It cannot in a million years prevail with the current level of force at Tartus.

      Putin has made it very clear that Russia is completing deliveries now of weapons systems Syria purchased 6 or 7 years ago, and that there is no embargo of such deliveries (although Washington is making its best effort to throw sand in the gears in what amounts to a de facto embargo). This apparently includes the S-300 system, which was credited by Syrian sources with shooting down an Israeli F-16 just a few weeks ago, although the article says it was not reported in western newspapers. The same reference clearly says the Israeli aircraft (it is written by Ziad Fadel, the somewhat emotional editor of “Syrian Perspective“, who refers to the crew of the Israeli aircraft as “vermin”) attacked a Syrian military base before it was obliterated – allegedly – by an SA-10 missile. Quite a few analysts have hypothesized that Syria has the S-300, although nobody to my certain knowledge has offered any evidence supporting a delivery.

      The obvious line for Russia to take is, if you’re not actually helping ISIS, what are you worried about? However, if the western allies and Israel actually are helping ISIS, as more than only I believe to be the case, deployment of high-PK Russian weapons in what is essentially restricted (on the western side) to an air war is a serious fly in the ointment. Deployment of sophisticated Russian fighters would be an advance on that to a fly in the ointment the size of a baby hippo.

      Russia intends to keep Tartus, and planned since 2012 to expand and improve it to take Carrier-size warships.

      The Russian Navy has repeatedly stated that it means to invest in continued use of Tartus; on July 25, 2012, Russian Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkova confirmed in an interview that Russia “needs that base…. it will continue to operate as it has until now.” Two days later, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, President of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems, stated that, “modernization will be needed (at Tartus).”The upgrades include plans to dredge the harbor and expand piers to support aircraft carrier port visits. Command and control facilities may be built up so that operations can be planned and controlled from those facilities. Finally, warehouse facilities may be expanded and repair and maintenance capabilities upgraded.

      Are they serious? Hard to say.

      Whether or not the Russian Navy will actually complete this modernization at Tartus is uncertain; in February of 2010, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, then Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, stated that with respect to Tartus, “the first stage of development and modernization will be completed in 2012.”17 In the thirty months since that announcement, the only verifiable modernization activity at Tartus has been the dredging of the harbor, which most ports do simply as a matter of routine maintenance.

      Relinquishing Tartus and backing away seems extremely uncharascteristic for a state which – although it continues to claim to have no ambition to be more than a regional power – is unquestionably being assertive in its claim to a stronger international role. Moreover, Assad is a loyal ally who specifically said his reason for turning down the Qatari pipeline offer was that he would not stab his Russian friend in the back. The Kremlin can ill afford to fail rewarding such loyalty, as nothing is harder to come by in today’s geopolitical world than real loyalty. Thus, it will want to keep Tartus. If ISIS continues its advance, it will lose both Tartus and Assad, probably all of Syria as a result. All things being equal, it must fight, sooner or later.

  23. et Al says:

    euractiv: Van Rompuy: ‘EU leaders only take bold decisions when they have a knife against their throats’

    EXCLUSIVE / In a candid interview with EurActiv, the former President of the European Council said the EU takes the boldest decisions only in crisis situations, “when we have our backs against the wall and are staring at the abyss with a knife against our throats”.

    That happened during the eurozone crisis, and it is likely to happen again with the unprecedented refugee crisis, he said, urging for “more Europe”….

    Renzi said the EU is a pupil who doesn’t work hard enough, Grybauskaite said the EU is an overgrown teenager … other leaders have used other [analogies] to portray the EU. Are we tapping the full potential which is in front of us in Europe?

    There is a crisis of leadership all over the world. There is a big discussion in the United States about the leading role for the US. There is frustration in Russia about its role. That’s why they are trying to impose their agenda on different countries, to show that they are still a big power. But for Europe, one of our big foreign policy achievements was the unanimous decision to place sanctions on Russia. We cannot interfere militarily, so our only available weapon was sanctions.

    Let me jump on Russia. Do you think we did the right thing with Moscow, not in terms of sanctions, but in terms of engaging and dialogue?

    Who destabilised the eastern part of Ukraine? Who started the war? It was nothing to do with Europe, nothing to do with the EU. We have to start looking for the responsible countries. Those responsible for the situation. Outside the Union.

    Some people have mentioned that with the association agreement, we were not sufficiently political. The Commission went too fast, there wasn’t sufficient contact.

    Two things must be said. We were negotiating with an Ukrainian president, who comes from the east and has Russian as his mother tongue. This was not a pro-Western president. Let’s say he was a president who represented all the sensitivities of the east, which was his power base. We were dealing with him, and he was very engaged in the association agreement, going so far as to the initial agreement.

    The problem came when the Russians put pressure on him, preventing him from signing the agreement. He was an unsuspecting person to deal with, representing the part of the country that could be most critical vis-à-vis that kind of agreement.

    The second thing to consider is that we had summits with Russia every six months, with Medvedev, then Putin. I have no recollection of them ever giving any sign that the association with Ukraine would be a major game-changing event. Never. Not once.

    Instead, they put pressure on Viktor Yanukovych not to sign the agreement in Vilnius. We were fully aware of the step we took, but there was no warning shot from the Russians to prevent this. We were responding to a legitimate demand from a democratically elected government, led by a president from the eastern part of the country.

    What a dishonest, lying motherf/ker! If anyone has blood on their hands and who certainly knew that they were part of a larger Western plan to contain Russia by drawing Ukraine away from Russia regardless of the costs, its it van Rumpuy and Barosso. They are the extremist. It’s their way, or no way – just like the islamic fundamentalists waging war. Both were willing tools and both have collective blood on their hands. That’s bureaucrats for you and how regardless of the regime, the will happily facilitate any atrocity because it was not their idea, they didn’t do it themselves and they were only doing their jobs.

    • marknesop says:

      The EU is keen to obliterate from the public consciousness that the dealbreaker for Viktor Yanukovych was the release of Yulia Tymoshenko. And the EU negotiators, confident and happy in their secure knowledge that they had his balls in a vise, did not back down from it until it was too late. But that was a sideshow, in reality, to the forecast blow the Ukrainian economy would take if it lost the Russian market. I said it, long before it happened, because it was obvious even to dunderheads such as myself if they cared to look. Germany said it, preparing an economic forecast for Yanukovych that made him go several shades whiter than his already pasty shade. Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy – and fuckhead of epic dimensions – refused to even look at it.

  24. et Al says:

    euractiv: Slovak PM calls Nord Stream expansion deal ‘a betrayal’

    Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today (10 September) that a deal between Russia’s Gazprom and its European partners to expand the Nord Stream gas pipeline was a “betrayal” that would cost Ukraine and Slovakia a combined billions of euros.

    Last week, Gazprom and its European partners signed a shareholders’ agreement on the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project that will bypass Ukraine and run beneath the Baltic Sea to Europe, bringing Europe closer into Moscow’s energy orbit, a move criticized by the US energy envoy….

    …”For months, there have (been) talks at the European Council about the need to help Ukraine stay a gas transit country, to help it through difficult winter months,” Fico told a joint news conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk.

    ‘They are making idiots of us’

    “Suddenly an announcement came from Gazprom signing a contact with companies from western EU member states about building another branch of Nord Stream. The are making idiots of us.”

    “They have betrayed an EU member state – Slovakia – and are going against political discussions with Ukraine at the European Council”, Fico said.

    Slovakia provides reserve gas flows to Ukraine to help the country decrease its dependence from Gazprom. Russia has called the practice “illegal”.

    “illegal”? But it actually is, illegal, that is. Talk to a comemercial lawyer, but then again when we are dealing with journalists, its the story that counts, not so much the facts or statistics.

    As for Fico, does he not understand that behind all the high flown rhetoric, there is a single, incontrovertible fact that needs to be applied? Who pays?.

    Slovakia doesn’t want to. Ukraine doesn’t want to. Both want to continue to take a jolly slice of the gas transit pie in free fees.

    For that, this is on the only possible musical choice for this story:

    Maybe “Money, Money, Money, it’s a poor man’s world” would be more apposite….

    • marknesop says:

      Don’t you hate it when your country is led by a Prime Minister who doesn’t read the news for…what..two and a half years?

      Dated May 2013:

      The unbundling of Naftohaz Ukrainy changes the calculations of transit economics for Gazprom and Russia. For instance, Gazprom would have to compete with alternative sources being developed by Ukraine (such as domestic production both onshore and offshore, shale gas, and liquefied natural gas imports) that will enable the latter to change its pricing formula. As a result, Russia and Gazprom have been seeking to diminish or eliminate their dependence upon Ukraine as a transit country. This, in turn, has been one of the reasons behind political momentum in Russia for construction of the Nord Stream and South Stream gas pipelines.

      The opening a few years ago of the Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia directly to Germany and Europe threatens Ukraine’s place as a transit country. It makes the country’s GTS potentially less valuable economically, even though its capacity utilization has fallen significantly (under its projected carriage of 55 billion cubic meters per year, bcm/y) since the pipeline’s second “string” opened late last year. Gazprom now repeats the same warning to Ukraine in speaking about the long-planned but still troubled South Stream pipeline (which has an projected capacity of up to 63 bcm/y) designed to go under the Black Sea from Russia to the Balkans.

      Gee – nobody could have seen that coming. For a number of years now, Europe has been egging on Ukraine to stick it to the Russians hard, filling their heads with sugarplum dreams of competing gas providers lining up to kneel before Kiev and beg the privilege of using its pipeline system. Is it any wonder they listened, considering Ukraine since independence has always been led by small-minded greedy rich people?

      The “political discussions” with Ukraine have revolved around the supplying of gas to Ukraine for its own use. The line was drawn in the sand even before 2013; it dates from the conceptual announcements for Nord Stream itself. Memo to the apparently soundproof-thick Robert Fico – Ukraine has been teased along this path for nearly a decade by the EU, whispering in its ear that it will make even more money by insisting upon diversifying its sources of supply (that way, you can play them off against one another), while for its part Russia has warned that Ukraine’s pipeline network has not been upgraded or even maintained for more than 25 years, and the necessary – not nice-to-have – work will cost an estimated $19.5 Billion. As you astutely pointed out, who pays? Ukraine hasn’t got the money in its wildest dreams. Europe’s vision of the future is sucking money out of Ukraine, not pouring it in so Ukrainians can have an easy life. Full disclosure, the Germans say they can do it for only $5.3 Billion, but I frankly doubt it, especially in the most corrupt country in Europe.

      From Moscow’s standpoint, the problem is that even though the gas to Europe transits Ukraine, Russia as supplier is responsible for its delivery to the EU. Even in 2006 and 2009, EU customers raised no claims against Russia; nevertheless, Russia perceives a transit risk from Ukraine. The non-transparency of Ukraine’s GTS and its inefficiency have made it difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the status of any discrepancy between the amount of gas that Russia says its sends and the amount that Europe says it receives.

      That’s from two and a half years ago, Fico, you fucking doorstop. What do you need, a follow-the-bouncing-ball sing-along?

      From the options mentioned above that the Ukrainian leadership was gleefully ticking off on its fingers, you can eliminate domestic production both onshore and offshore (Ukraine’s domestic production has declined steadily for 40 years and it produces less than half its own consumption, and has lost most of its offshore zone with Crimea), shale gas (most of it under the Donetsk Basin, currently embroiled in a civil war) and LNG imports (Ha, ha, some people just never learn).

    • PaulR says:

      Poland has also denounced the Nord Stream 2 deal as has EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič:

    • marknesop says:

      Here’s a dandy aggregator of sources on gas relations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Russia and Europe. A surprising number of the links come from here – not just posts, but links that were included in comments from the readers – this one, for example, which leads to a comment by Yalensis.

      Enough there to keep a dedicated researcher eating gourmet popcorn and drinking himself/herself into a slow but pleasurable stupor for a month. I particularly like the quote, attributed to the intrepid Pepe Escobar: “A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass – at the expense of the United States.”

      • marknesop says:

        Just as an addendum to the gas spat, the angry spitters who say they are being betrayed are joined by…Naftogaz.

        According to Naftogaz, the Nord Stream II pipeline project is not only a soaring victory for a country that abuses its good fortune by using energy as a weapon to achieve geopolitical control, plays favourites, pick your meme…it is also a dirty stab in the back by Ukraine’s “European partners”.

        “This is not business, this is geopolitics,” Kobolyev said during the Yalta European Strategy meeting in Kyiv on Friday. “Our European partners told us not to make Gazprom mad, to work with them. And then they went behind our back to do Nord Stream to connect E.U. further into Russia.”

        Poor muffins. It is finally sinking in that Ukraine is going to be cut out of the gas-transit business, and bye-bye $3 Billion annually in transit fees, while their pipeline network will be a liability rather than an asset – it has become a favourite target of the reformers who say Ukraine can cut its gas consumption in half by correcting inefficiencies in both its technology and its practices. Who’s going to pay for a pipeline upgrade that doesn’t do anything except move gas around inside of Ukraine, and isn’t connected to a supplier on the other end?

        The number of Ukrainians privately nostalgic for the days of association with Russia must be growing. The association with Yurrup has brought them nothing but a ruined economy, miserly cutbacks, a destroyed currency and a government of loony extremists, while rather than making them progressive and prosperous, has made them dependent on handouts. And now betrayal.

  25. et Al says: Reuters Claims to Uncovers ‘Secret’ Russian Plan to Build Military Base in Russia

    Reuters is releasing huge numbers of articles about Russia’s military today, mostly centering on the idea that Russia’s military advisers in Syria, despite having been there for years, are a new and major issue.

    But they also announced an “exclusive” story about Russia planning to build a “major military base” inside Russia, but not far from the Ukrainian border. Despite referring to it as a “secret” base in the article, they confirm that the information was obtained from publicly available Russian military documents.

    And the “major” base? Not so much. The base is described as 300 hectare site, which makes it about 700 acres. By comparison, most “major” US military bases are more than 100,000 acres in size, meaning this new base is less than 1% of that.

    With the US and other NATO nations setting up sites for more and more deployments along the Russian frontier, it is perhaps unsurprising that Russia should also be building new bases on its western borders. That a publicly available document about a comparatively tiny site should become a “major” and “exclusive” underscores just how eager people are to latch on to anything Russia related.

    • Drutten says:

      This base already exists (north of the town of Valuyki, Belgorod oblast), they’re just fixing it up.

      The Russian armed forces have been there since 1593 (the town was founded as a military fortress under Russian tsar Feodor I, last of the Ruriks).

      And as has already been stated, it’s not a big base and it’s not going to become one either. It’s just one of many old bases scattered around (many of which are near the border and have always been) that until now have mostly been used only temporarily from time to time, that are receiving overhauls now..

  26. et Al says:

    Read it and weep:

    Independent: Russia and the West need closer ties to avert ‘real danger’ from military exercises and encounters, say European diplomatic leaders

    …The European Leadership Network (ELN) is calling for the reconvening of the Nato-Russia Council – suspended by the Western Alliance after President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Crimea last year – as an immediate first step. This should be followed by a new agreement on guidelines for exercises, says the group, along the lines of a memorandum of understanding between the US and China signed nine months ago following a rise in military activities and confrontations in the Pacific Rim…

    …The proposal is supported by senior figures in the West including Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, both former Nato secretary generals; General Lord Richards, the former head of the British military; Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former British foreign and defence secretary; former French prime minister Michel Rocard; Giancarlo Aragona, the Italian former secretary-general of OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and Hans Blix, the former Swedish foreign minister and director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Backers in Moscow include Boris Pankin, the former foreign minister of the USSR and the former Russian foreign minister Alexander Bessmertnykh.


    This is hilarious. The ELN is basically the right hand of NATO, just another anonymous organization that pretends to be independent and neutral but is in fact a front.

    Recall, as many of us here do and Mark has done most recently, that it was NATO who suspended all military contact with Russia to punish it over ‘bad behavior’ but now that it has done so, has no way to talk to Russia except through the media and its front organizations like the European Leadership Network! It is cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face! Is anyone responsible for such incompetence and stupidity? Of course not! NATO needs the ELN to save face so it doesn’t have to admit its own stupidity and short-sightedness.

    I’m sure that NATO is more than ready to ‘Move on’, and brush their humiliation under the carpet.

    • marknesop says:

      For the love of God, tell them to shove it just as far as they can; don’t call us, we’ll call you. I’m pretty sure we all agree that lessons in which the learner experiences no net consequence – such as burnt fingers or acute embarrassment or a course of penicillin – are ultimately of little learning value. When your parents tell you the stove is hot, you don’t really know what hot is until you sear a series of concentric circles into your questing palm. And that’s the principle of this disgraceful episode – NATO does not know what hot is: EUROPE does not know what hot is. Let them learn, for Christ’s sake.

      • Cortes says:

        AKA the Scuzzi Principle (from Sgt Dom Scuzzi’s words of wisdom in Wambaugh’s “The Choirboys”): “Boys, when you’re wandering about those back yards you gotta ALWAYS pay attention to the SIZE of the dogshits”

  27. Warren says:

  28. Warren says:

    Military Technology Exporter Admits to Spying for Moscow

    The founder of a Houston-based technology company admitted to spying for Russia while in the U.S. and conspiring to export microelectronics to Russian military and intelligence agencies.
    Alexander Fishenko, a dual Russian-U.S. citizen, was scheduled to go to trial this month on charges of scheming to illegally supply Russia with computer chips and other high-tech goods. He pleaded guilty Wednesday in Brooklyn, New York, federal court to all charges, said his lawyer, Richard Levitt.

    The computer chips supplied by the company appear similar to those used in missiles and fighter jets, the government said in court papers.

    “Fishenko lined his pockets at the expense of our national security,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie said in a statement. “This prosecution highlights the importance of vigorously enforcing United States export control laws.”

    The technology exporter founded Arc Electronics in 1998 and shipped about $50 million worth of technological products to Russia, according to prosecutors. He and co-conspirators are alleged to have evaded export licensing requirements and provided false information about goods to U.S. officials. At one time, Arc falsely claimed to make traffic lights even though it operated exclusively as an exporter, prosecutors said.

    Fishenko, 49, was accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, obstructing justice and operating as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. He faces as long as 20 years in prison on each of the most serious charges.

    Three of the alleged co-conspirators are still scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 21.
    The case is U.S. v. Fishenko, 1:12-cr-626, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

    • kirill says:

      The usual lie factory drivel. Obviously his business was fully legal until the last few years when the USA started actively with its Cold War Part II project. Also, those precious Taiwanese microchips don’t belong to America. America thinks it can regulate the exports of 3rd parties.

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    Odessa, home port for rust-buckets?

    Built in the UK for the Danish company Nordline and launched in 1974. Shortly after her launching she was sold to the USSR, where she received the name “Odessa”. The liner undertook prestigious cruises and brought a considerable income.

    “Odessa” was withdrawn from service in 2007 and has been rotting away ever since.

    I saw her at a distance when last i Odessa in 2011. I didn’t notice how decrepit she was then.

    Slava Ukraini!

    • Jen says:

      If there are so many ships like “Odessa” sitting in Odessa rusting away like that, they will be turning the city’s harbour into a toxic waste dump. Chemicals from the hulls will be leaching into the water and the ships are likely to be leaking oil as well. Some of the ships may be in such a bad state that towing them would release more chemicals and oil into the water, and they would have to be dismantled or cleaned up where they are in the harbour, and the dismantling or reconstruction would probably cause disruption to ships going in and out.

  30. Cortes says:

    More sterling work by western stenographers relating how one plucky boyar (Yakunin) left the court of the mad, isolated Czar – or maybe a Londongrad clash? Railroaded out or noble idealist?

    • kirill says:

      NATO and its fantasies are surreal and grotesque. They actually believe their own brain dead propaganda about Russia being some sort of tyranny. They project a dictatorship or junta model on a government which is duly elected and represents many diverse interests. Putin does not sit in his “throne” at the whim of some oligarchs. He has an actual popular mandate and is actually popular. The US and its cronies believes that Putin is propped up by a few oligarchs but this is what they wish since this would make Russia like Ukraine and a total plaything of NATO. But this is just rabid fantasy and Washington and its cronies need to grow a brain and deflate their planet sized egos.

      • marknesop says:

        I’m quite sure the actual planners in NATO know very well the image they are projecting is not the real one – it’s all a game to them, the game of manipulation of public opinion to achieve desired ends, and it is totally cynical. You can be sure the top military people also know that Russian equipment is a formidable foe technologically, strategically and operationally, and constant belittlement of it to the proles is often reversed to say how frightening it is when they want more money for new weapons.

        You’ve probably seen Jeff Daniels in that video clip, “Why America Isn’t The Greatest Country Any More“. It’s a nice piece of theatre, but toward the end of it, he makes a great point – America used to be the greatest country in the world. And it was because Americans were informed, they made it their business to know what was going on in the world. They aspired to human and moral values above self. And they did that and still remained well-off and comfortable in their lifestyles compared with the rest of the world. Perversely, the information age – when humans have never had so much information at their fingertips – has made humanity more isolationist, opinionated and ignorant than they were when they relied on printed media, and mouthing bumper-sticker slogans like “freedom isn’t free” and “these colours don’t run” has replaced thinking and questioning.

        America’s allies are no better. They see the USA running the globe and making it do what its capital and its strongmen say it should, and they decide to throw in their lot with The Big Guy. At the bottom of it all is power and money, like it always is, but the people do not get a free pass. We all say “The government is to blame, I don’t blame the people”; I’ve said it myself, and others use it as an argument to say Russia shouldn’t put sanctions on French cheese because the cheesemakers are not to blame, and they’re the ones who get hurt.

        Yes, they are to blame. And so is everyone else who asks no questions when monstrous lies such as “Russia shot down MH-17 and murdered nearly 300 people in cold blood, and that’s why it must be sanctioned” are floated. There is an alternative story out there, and so long as it exists and the decision to impose sanctions might have been wrong, the people should be asking questions. Maybe Ukraine didn’t do it – but it sure looks that way, and the western alliance allowing a suspect to be a key part of the investigation looks not only like they did it, but the west is okay with them having done it. And so long as there is a preponderance of opinion in the west that is also okay with that, the people of those countries are to blame as much as their governments. Because they are voluntarily choosing to be ignorant, and to buy into a tale told to them for a purpose. Nobody can know everything, and we all have great pockets of ignorance, and it’s not possible for a human to know what is really going on everywhere in the world at the same time. But we all have good reason not to trust at face value what we are told by the government through its pet media. As long as we ask no questions, and just go along because we think unity makes our countries great, we are part of the problem.

  31. Patient Observer says:

    Good to know:
    First I heard of such successes. Given the flat line economies of the West, Russia’s diversifying economy, closer economic ties with China and India and ongoing generation of fresh science talent from its own universities, Russia should enjoy increasing rewards from the inherent creativeness and intelligence of its population.

    • kirill says:

      I think the initial brain drain was not such a big tragedy. A lot of those people were a species of kreakl who yearned for “freedom” in NATO. Russia should not waste time trying to lure them back. It is much more important to maintain academic standards and to actually fund research. Russian science will wither away if the government follows monetarist voodoo economics like our dear leader Harper. Science is not an industry and is not self-financing. But any advanced society sure as hell should be able to afford it. Canada is clearly is not an advanced society but some sort of banana republic.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Good points,

      • Jen says:

        To that end, universities and science research should not be forced to run according to a so-called “business” model in which administration and marketing gobble up money that should be spent on projects. While government funding is necessary and will probably always be the main source of funding for pure science (as opposed to science that has immediate practical value), scientists could also rely on online crowd-funding by promoting their projects through blogs and websites. Another possibility could be to set up their projects as charities and apply for deductible-gift recipient status so that donors can get tax rebates back for donations above a certain minimum amount.

    • marknesop says:

      It seems to have worked for China.

  32. kirill says:

    What a “surprise”, Kasparov is a crook:

    All of these liberast maggots are corrupt to the core, including Navalny. That is why they are easily recruited by the US. They live for the money. All the smear at Putin for supposedly having stashed billions of dollars is transparent nonsense. Putin is reviled by Washington and its minions because he is not corrupt and cannot be bought or blackmailed.

  33. Terje says:

    Great article. Is it OK if I translate this article into Norwegian for my own blog? ( I will change that McDonalds ad picture though)

  34. Patient Observer says:

    A tale of two planets (actually the same planet but different tales)

    Both books focus on near-term travel to the Red Planet using currently available technologies and both are considered “hard” sci-fi in that attention is given to making the stories plausible base on current science and engineering capabilities.

    “The Martian Race” was written by Gregory Benford, a highly regarded sci-fi writer whose day job is as a nuclear physicist. His numerous novels often feature Russians who are characterized by intelligence, humor and a deep wisdom. In the subject book, the expedition leader is Russian and exhibits bravery, wit, leadership and is simply likable. I suspect Benford meets a lot of Russians in his day job. The plot also includes discovery of an ecosystem based on deep symbiotic interactions created by harsh environmental conditions (OMG, biology-based Socialism!)

    “The Martian” was written by Andy Weir. In his rendition of travels to Mars, Russia is entirely omitted except for three one-liners about how incompetent the Soviets/Russians were in space travel. The Chinese come off well. And it is an outright orgasmic love fest for NASA.

    Guess which novel will be made into a Major Motion Picture.

    • marknesop says:

      It’s all about the spin.

    • Cortes says:

      Mary Roach’s “Packing for Mars” gives the Soviet space programmes their due and contains interviews with plenty of cosmonauts and officials. For the scientifically challenged like me it’s a great read. Her “Stiff” on more or less 101 uses for the corpses bequeathed to science is also tremendous.

  35. Warren says:

    Published on 11 Sep 2015
    With military stalemate in the east of the country and the economy in serious depression, the regime in Kiev has had to face some very hard realities. And its very survival is in doubt. Losing on the battlefield and the economic front, the Kiev regime is turning in on itself.

    CrossTalking with Mark Sleboda, Michael Hudson and Rodney Shakespeare.

  36. et El says:

    In news about Russia totally f/k’d by western sanctions, a Soyuz rocket with a FREGAT bus has just lofted two European Galileo satellite navigation satellites and Gennedy Padalka, due to return to earth shortly, has now spend 879 days in total in space. A real hero!

    Apple has now acceded to Russian law that service hosting data of Russian citizens be hosted in Russia:

    RAF fighter jets intercept Russian planes over North Sea

    Cheap oil ‘slams brakes’ on US shale production

    “…The IEA said oil production outside Opec, the producers’ cartel, would decline by nearly 500,000 barrels a day next year, the largest drop since the collapse of the Soviet Union. US shale oil will account for about 80 per cent of that fall….”

    & yum, yum, yum:

    Russia sending advanced air defenses to Syria: sources

    “…The Western officials said the SA-22 system would be operated by Russian troops, rather than Syrians. The system was on its way to Syria but had not yet arrived.

    “This system is the advanced version used by Russia and it’s meant to be operated by Russians in Syria,” said one of the sources, a Western diplomat who is regularly briefed on U.S., Israeli and other intelligence assessments.

    Two U.S. officials separately confirmed the information. The second U.S. official said the United States had indications that, although the entire system had not arrived, some control system components for the SA-22 had been positioned at an airfield near Latakia, an Assad stronghold…

    …However, the Western diplomat said the version of the SA-22 on its way to Syria was newer than previous missile systems deployed there.”

    So will I be or will I not be right hat Yak-130s will be on their way soon as I theorized in my earlier comment? Su-27s, Mig-31s & Mig-29s make absolutely no sense against an enemy (ISIS/DAESH/whatever) without airpower. As is usual with the PPNN, they use slim threads of fact to create whatever they dream of at night.

    • et Al says:

      Sorry, that was my secret, long lost brother that posted whilst I was away and out from the machine.

    • marknesop says:

      “U.S. officials say they believe Moscow has been sending troops and equipment to Syria, although they say Russia’s intentions are not clear.”

      I don’t know how much clearer it needs to be – it’s to defend against aircraft of ISIS’s Air Force. If that’s you, watch your ass. An obvious parallel is the recent occasion on which NATO acted as the de facto Air Force of the Libyan flip-flop rebels, winning the war for them just at the point when Gadaffi had driven them back to Benghazi and their defeat was certain.

      If any of this is even true. It’s hard to say when the press keeps its sources secret so there’s no way to know if they even exist or if it is deliberate disinformation, while the press has a well-established reputation for the latter.

      According to Sputnik, no YAK-130’s yet, but the situation could change very quickly and the decision could be “not yet” this afternoon and they could be on the runway at Latakia by Monday; they’re aircraft, and it would not take long to complete the delivery. They can be fitted with an air-to-air refuelling probe.

      It would not do to let the USA know in advance when delivery was to be effected, because they would tip off their pet rebels and try to impede the delivery or attack the aircraft as they were landing or on the ground.

    • marknesop says:

      It would seem to me that making a partner of Russia so as to be able to fight OPEC together would have made much more sense than deliberately making more enemies for America. I guess they just love having enemies. Strategy – successful.

  37. Pingback: 9/11 Weekly Roundup | The Elicitor

  38. Warren says:

    Sweden summons Russia ambassador after Nato threat

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    Poroshenko at the “Yalta” conference:

    “У нас там нет ни гражданской войны, ни внутреннего конфликта. А есть агрессия против Украины и оккупация независимого украинского государства. И нужно четко обозначить агрессора – это Россия.”

    We have neither a civil war nor an internal conflict there. But there is aggression against the Ukraine and the occupation of the independent Ukrainian state. And one needs to clearly identify the aggressor: it is Russia.”

    See: Порошенко проболтался о спецоперации на Донбассе

    Poroshenko lets the cat out of the bag as regards special operations in the Donbass

    And explained why NATO does not trust “the strongest and bravest army on the continent” with its weapons

    One tosser!

  40. Cortes says:

    Those damned Shia done called down the wrath of…

    • Cortes says:

      Should have clarified:

      I suspect the name of the eager beaver African American officer who took down the “perp” is Patsy.

      Cynical, moi?

  41. Patient Observer says:

    It’s finally here!

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