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

    • chios-tears says:

      a good comment on all this “couper les cheveux en quatre” talk on this article

      Women and men are different. They each have advantages and disadvantages. Women need to focus on being women and stop trying to be both sexes.

      On the other side, if some women feel the need to “be suicidal”, it should be allowed in exceptional medical or psychological circumstances.

      • Jen says:

        It’s to be expected that the average performance of all-male combat units across a range of tasks that require shoulder and arm strength, and shooting tasks (which put stress on arms and shoulders because of the recoil effect) is better than the average performance of combat units composed of men and women. In addition the range of performances within all-male combat units would be closer to the average for those units.

        When the article talks about anaerobic power, what it’s referring to is the fact that women don’t utilise oxygen as efficiently as men do. Our lungs are smaller and surrounded mostly by fat whereas men’s lungs are surrounded by muscle. Muscle works like a bellows and helps the lungs draw in more oxygen. Among other things, that explains why men are stronger singers than women in some genres of music or folk music traditions like yodelling where volume and projection are important.

        The results of the tests could be used to help design training exercises for women to improve muscle tone around the shoulders, arms and chest, and help them sustain that level of fitness without causing long-term damage.

        I suspect the fear within the military is that if all-male combat units end up with the most arduous tasks, they may demand higher pay and such units may end up regarded as elites, with all the guys wanting to join such units. This would create a new kind of segregation within the army. How you could work around this problem is to make all combat units open to women, with the stipulation that all people who apply to join must undertake the necessary training and physical conditioning, at the end of which they go through testing, and if they meet the requirements, they can join. If they fail the requirements, they can have two more tries with further training and conditioning, but if they fail all three tests, that’s it – they can’t join.

        Another issue you’d have to look at is designing weapons that are lighter and don’t have so much recoil when fired but which are still as accurate as conventional weapons.

    • marknesop says:

      “This shouldn’t be taken to mean that women make worse Marines than men, per se, Colonel Anne Weinberg, deputy director of the Marines’ Force Innovation Office, noted.”

      No, of course not, Ma’am. the established fact that the strongest women in the group were equal to the weakest men, and their more than double rate of muscular-skeletal injury obviously means they are actually better soldiers than men, just in a new and different way. Sam, get the net, would you?

      What is the point of spending $35 Million on a study if leaders and policymakers are going to ignore the results, or assess that the conclusions mean something different than what they mean? Sometimes there just is no positive spin.

      There was a nasty incident in the Canadian Army in the mid-90’s, in which Captain Sandra Perron – Canada’s first infantry officer – was pictured on the cover of MacLeans Magazine tied to a tree, barefoot in the snow. It was apparently a military exercise on escape and evasion, and she was a captured prisoner of war. But the public was outraged at this abuse of a woman, and when Perron later left the military she complained that she was constantly harassed and tormented because of her sex. The trigger incident was one that her male counterparts were expected to endure without complaint, and being tied to a tree is actually pretty tame compared to what ISIS militants would do to a captured female enemy officer.

      This is a complex subject, and any discussion of it is likely to offend someone. There have been serious cases of sexual assault in the Canadian military; I couldn’t say if they are more or less frequent than a comparable civilian occupation because no civilian occupation is really comparable – I guess the closest would be the police. And of course, sexual assault is unacceptable. Enough people have pleaded guilty that it’s clear women are not just making it up.

      But still, I wonder. Here’s an example.

      “Vancouver’s Cummings describes an atmosphere of “drunken debauchery,” where officers preyed on young, naïve subordinates – despite standing orders on all bases that outlaw such fraternization. “You go ashore and to the bar and your lieutenant or your captain or your master seaman or your petty officer starts sliming all over you when he’s drunk,” she says. “These people are higher than you and you don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. It happens continually.” Another female recruit who left the military in 1993 described instructors at the end of basic training handing out condoms by the dozen and telling the women to “have fun.”

      The behaviour described is the testimony of Ruth Cummings, a former Able Seaman (equivalent to an Army Private) Radar Operator. You’d have to read the rest of the article, I don’t want to copy the whole thing here, to get the background. Essentially, Ruth testified that she was raped by another sailor, during her initial training phase in Halifax. That’s probably true; I have no reason to doubt it, and it is most unfortunate, to say the least.

      However, I also sailed in ANNAPOLIS at that time, and I knew Ruth well. She was a member of the Combat Department, as was I, and we worked together in the Operations Room. On one particular occasion, another member of my section told me about an incident which had just occurred, in which Ruth had dropped a letter from her pocket, and it had been found on the deck by this member of my section. He read it, and he was amused that Ruth volunteered to sweep out the Operations Room (the main lights are switched off upon sailing until the ship reaches port, and its always very dark in there), and cleaned the whole place top to bottom, twice, looking for this letter. He eventually gave it back to her.

      The letter was to her boyfriend, also a member of the crew, a man I also knew well. At the time, he was a junior naval lieutenant, many ranks higher than Ruth. The finder of the letter did not discuss all of its contents with me, and I did not read it myself. But he was snickering that it had read “I think it’s so sexy the way we have to sneak around, and nobody else knows”. Actually, nearly everyone in the Combat Department knew. They lived together for the best part of a year, in home port, and she sometimes drove his car to work when he was not on duty. I have no proof that the letter ever existed, although I knew the man who described it to me and had no reason to doubt his word. But it was apparent to me that the relationship between Ruth and a man who far outranked her – and presumably was in a position to “prey on a young and naive subordinate” – was consensual. Unless he was raping her for most of a year.

      Generally speaking, the media is the enemy of the military, and hostile to it. I sailed with another young woman, Jasenka Pavlovic (a Croat who spoke fluent Russian, although I spoke none myself then; when the Russian cruiser SLAVA visited Halifax, Jasenka was tasked as an interpreter). While she was a student at the Above-Water Warfare Training school, she and several other young women were interviewed for a newspaper article entitled “Women in the Navy – Sailing New Waters”, or something like that. she told me later that all the interviewer seemed really to be interested in was dirt. She wanted to know if the girls were unfairly treated by the men, and kind of led them to believe they were whether that was their original perception or not.

      ANNAPOLIS was the first mixed-gender warship on the West Coast. It was preordained that the experiment would be a success, because it was already policy that women would be employed in non-traditional roles; failure was not an option. By and large, I would have to agree it was mostly a success, at least from my point of view. Now all the ships are co-ed, and there is talk of expanding the policy to submarines, which are to the best of my knowledge the last all-male units. The Navy is generally an environment in which women have the same chance of success as men; the work is hard, but brute strength and unflagging endurance are seldom called for. Much of the Operations work is operating or repairing (if you are a technician) a piece of electronic equipment, and a woman can do that as well as a man. The most trying circumstances are typically fatigue, and trying to keep your dinner down in a corkscrewing frigate at sea, and those factors also affect everyone equally regardless of their gender. I found the women I worked with, and for, to be about the same as men in terms of professionalism, likability, job knowledge and skill. Some were thick as a cedar stump, and some were outstanding. I believe I had much the same relationship with them as I did with my male friends. ANNAPOLIS, on the whole, was a happy ship with high morale.

      Unless you talk to Ruth. And the Army – especially the infantry – and obviously the U.S. Marines as well as the Special Forces and the Rangers is a whole different ball game. Physical strength and toughness count for much, and if your fellow soldiers don’t respect or trust you, it isn’t going to work. More importantly, trying to make it work will see you end up with an Army that is unreliable and useless for anything but military parades.

      • chios-tears says:

        Marknesop, you are the professional, here, or so it seems to me.
        I am just an observer of things happening every day and try to express basic and simple “feelings”

        Military are people who accept to kill.
        To kill with bare hands or knives is not the same thing as killing with a bullet, and at the end of the distance, we see now the drone.

        There is a death instinct and a “instinct vital”, there is love and hate….
        It is a question of discipline, rules, whose meaning has been fixed in any culture for centuries….

        And stop here here, have to go.

      • Cortes says:

        My brother in law works in the fire service which at least in Scotland was organised along semi military lines until fairly recently. Now lots of tasks have had to be redesigned so that newer recruits with lower levels of fitness, strength and height can cooperate to complete tasks that previously were performed by one guy. Things are unlikely to change until a couple of petite firefighters drop the parent of a politician during a rescue. Or an overweight out of condition 55 year old guy does the same. It’s just a job, dontcha know.

        • marknesop says:

          We went through that phase, and it’s a little more rational now. There’s a physical test for admission, and if you can’t pass it, you’re done. The military has to complete the “Force Test” annually, all members regardless of age or gender, and if you fail you go on mandatory supervised PT at 6:00 AM until your physical standard is raised to the level that you can pass it. Everyone is instructed the same on how to pass it and there are male and female Physical Fitness instructors who carry out the evaluations, regardless the gender of the person being evaluated. When the test was being introduced there were a couple of weeks of demonstrations by the staff, and in those I watched, a girl I probably outweighed by 40 pounds and who looked as big around as a stovepipe did the Sandbag Drag successfully. In this one (described at the link), you carry a 20 kg (44 pound) sandbag on your forearms, and it forms the handle to a sort of sled which also carries another 4 sandbags, for a total weight of 220 pounds that you must drag a distance of 20 meters (65 feet). There’s no time limit on this one, but the rule is that once you start you must keep moving, you can’t stop. The trick to this one, for anyone who ever has to do it (and it’s not really a trick so much as it is following advice, because the staff will tell you) is to not look back over your shoulder to see how much further you have to go; that throws off your ability to put out concentrated power to your front, because you are walking backward. Just keep dragging until you see the 20-meter line go by. The sled runs on a wide strip of some kind of plastic (otherwise it would tear hell out of the floor, which is wood) so the friction is lessened somewhat, but it’s still heavy. The point is that little girls have to do it the same as big men. It simulates dragging an unconscious shipmate from a fire or an electrical shock scenario; all the tests are designed to simulate a common physical requirement.

          Before that, we had the EXPRES test, for 30 years, and before that we had to complete a mile and a half run in under 12 minutes. There were no women at all, then. When women entered limited roles in the military during the era of the EXPRES test, its requirements were modified so that women could pass by achieving lower standards. The EXPRES test used a dynamometer (a squeeze test like those things you squeeze in your hands to build up your forearms) which measured muscular strength, a baseline number of sit-ups and push-ups, regulated by your age and gender, and a shuttle run (back and forth over a 20-meter distance, with speed gradually increasing and “levels” marked by number of completed circuits and signified by an audible tone). The level you had to achieve was higher in general for men, and higher still for the younger.

          Occupations like these often suffer from gender politics – activists shrilling “Can a woman do it? If a woman can, then women must”. And it’s true that particularly strong and fit women can, about as well as a fairly weak man. Looking at it objectively, that doesn’t matter. Strong as a bull or weaker, if you can do it to the required standard, then it does not matter if it was easy for you or difficult.

          However, occupations like the military and the police add another layer of complication in the sexual sense, because at the same time as you are teaching iron discipline and unwavering adherence to standards and ethics, you are attempting to instill the vital spirit of camaraderie, loyalty, affection for the other members of your team and the willingness to give your life to save theirs if necessary. Purely in the academic sense, it is hard to see how you can manage that without some sort of attraction developing, whether or not it is reciprocated, and in the practical it has frequently proved impossible. You either end up with a rash of sexual incidents, some of them forced or coerced, or a team which pays only lip service to military cohesiveness while it is focused on political correctness instead.

          This is not to say men and women cannot work together in non-traditional roles. But it is not broadly applicable and needs to be looked at very carefully in combat roles. The question that should be asked is “Does it enhance overall combat effectiveness, giving us a military advantage?” rather than “Does it pacify social activists and the human-righties, to the detriment of combat effectiveness?” the Israelis did a study- which I cannot cite because it was long ago and I can’t even remember when it was conducted – which found that men would accept a greater degree of risk to their own lives to prevent female members of their unit from falling into the hands of the enemy. In a ship, that makes sense, because if it goes down you will all probably die anyway. In an infantry situation it is the opposite of sense, because having the whole squad or platoon captured or killed to prevent the capture of one female member goes against every principle of armed combat.

          You can see reasons why women want to join, though. Quite apart from proving themselves in what the feminists – with some justification – still describe as “a man’s world”, a military or police job means guaranteed pay equity, because you are paid by rank and area of specialization rather than other more abstract criteria that frequently allow employers to pay a man more money for the same job than a woman. When the Canadian Forces still received a clothing upkeep allowance as a part of their pay, women of the same rank were technically paid at a slightly higher rate, because some of their accouterments cost more. The women’s naval bowler hat, for example, which is their white dress cap for wear with the Number One order of dress, is made of white leather where the men’s hat is made of plastic.

      • Patient Observer says:

        That is great first-hand insight! If a understand the points correctly, things go sideways for women in the military when ideological goals trump biological realities. Another example is that women can be good architects but make not-so-good iron workers.

        Why the push to blur gender roles to the point of absurdity? We believe here in this blog (with perhaps with two notable exception) that all human should be treated equally regardless of race or ethnicity. Has this entirely correct attitude morphed among the liberals into believing that all people are interchangeable? If so, this attitude switch could have been fostered by the 0.1% elites via the media and academia to reduce all humans to interchangeable parts. With a bland and homogeneous population focused only on personal pleasure, the number of variables to control are reduced.

        The great American Melting Pot provides proof of the power of blandness. The US has, to my experience, the most sheep-like population on the planet. To erase any potential for organized resistance to the 0.1%, full-spectrum blandness must be achieved. This is a tangential thought from the topic but sometimes I wonder…

        • marknesop says:

          A very good point. However, at the core of it – as you will find with every revolution – are ideological activists and social engineers. It is as simple as asking, do women want to do it? Are they broadly capable of doing it? If the answer to both questions is yes, then of course they should. Quite a lot of the hysterical arguments driving the effort to make it work originate with angry people trying to right what they consider to be an historical wrong. Sometimes it’s a broad sense of social injustice, and other times it is focused on a particular incident they have experienced or read about.

          Some would argue that we can afford such a social experiment for as long as it takes to resolve its problems and make it work – automation, for example, closes the strength gap, and meanwhile, Canada ( to use us as an example) is in no immediate danger of attack. That’s true enough. But will it ever work? The two realities I identified earlier – strict adherence to a code of ethics working at cross-purposes to a warrior tradition that relies on filial love for your brothers in arms – are not going to go away or become irrelevant.

          In some cases it can work, and overall, despite the ugly rape allegations (and I have to say here that this seems to me to be a generational phenomenon, borne out for me by my conversations with young women which reveal an entirely different type of young man, in his values and behaviours, from the streets I remember as a young man myself), it works fairly well in the navy. In the expectation that things will remain largely as they are at present, I would say not in the infantry, or the Marines or the Rangers or the business of soldiering in general. Even if women succeed to complete competence and confidence as a soldier, they are still a risk in terms of their perceived vulnerability as a prisoner. The only thing that would eliminate that consideration altogether would be for women to form the entirety of the infantry, or at least a decisive majority. Does that look likely to happen? I’m afraid not. Women in combat roles are still a decisive minority. You might be able to make it work in the armored corps, for example, where as a group you are defending a common “thing”, like your tank, and if it takes a hit you all die. In such a situation, one person is no more valuable than another except as a function of individual skill or specialization, and a whole tank crew is not likely to take undue risks to protect one person inside it as a virtue of their gender. The same threat applies to all, I guess you could say. That’s not true of the infantry, and the coercive value of a female prisoner – owing to social mores which, I might add, are only reinforced by these continuous sexual allegations and investigations – is perceived to be much greater than a male counterpart.

        • Fern says:

          I suspect a lot of what’s being talked about here is the logical consequence of a damaging trend in the West – the valuing of process over outcome. It’s become much more important for groups like the police and fire services to have the right levels of gender and ethnic mix than it is to actually be effective in policing or fighting fires.

  1. Oddlots says:

    Anyone recall this?

    I remember reading a piece talking about a clause in the Budapest Memorandum that obligated signatories to guarantee minority rights.

    Damned if I can find it.

    Anyone have a reference / link.

    • Fern says:

      The Budapest Memorandum is pretty short – maximum of around two pages – and I don’t recall a reference to minority rights. When Crimea voted to rejoin the Russian Federation, there was much discussion of Russia being in breach of the Budapest Memorandum but the RF said, quite correctly, there was nothing in the Memorandum that required them to force a population to stay in Ukraine.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        And the funniest thing of all? Russian Duma have never ratified the Budapest Memorandum. Yep, that’s right! So all this wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from the West and the Ukraine is over nothing.

        Say, if the Congrees today won’t ratify Iran nuke deal, will Obama ignore it’s decision and act upon the treaty anyway?

        • marknesop says:

          I don’t think that is very well known, because everyone keeps repeating that Russia “violated international law” – including Obama – when it “annexed Crimea”. A few sober heads have pointed out that the Budapest Memorandum is not actually even international law, and is more just a document.

          According to The Hague Institute for Global Justice, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Crimea – which the whole thing turns on, in my non-legal-professional opinion – is not a violation of international law, based on the Kosovo precedent. So far, so good; Declaration of Independence, not illegal. Which means legal. Next, Crimean Parliamentary vote to join the Russian Federation. Illegal? Emphatically no.

          • ucgsblog says:

            I wouldn’t conflate Crimea with Kosovo. Did you know that Sevastopol was never actually handed over to Ukraine? That’s right, the Commies under Khrushchev who were responsible for the peninsula’s transfer, were so inept, that they missed an entire city. Furthermore, the transfer was done after WWII, but without a popular Referendum. As a result, the Russians could find the transfer illegal. Since the Russian Federation never actually acknowledged Ukraine’s borders… I mean there are a bazillion ways to argue for Crimea’s Independence, so I wouldn’t throw Kosovo into the mix. Furthermore, Crimea has no issues with the Montevideo Declaration, unlike Kosovo. /not a lawyer

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    Honest and Objective (to the point of extreme rukopozhatnost’ and sincere nepolzhivost’) Mark Adomanis of the former True/Slant fame have visited Kiev/Kyiv/al-Kuyabia and made some mind-blowing discoveries:

    On the Streets of Kiev

    “I’ve lost count of the number of headlines and articles which boldly proclaim that Kiev is “transformed.” It’s become one of those standby journalistic clichés: “transformed” Kiev is right there alongside wealthy London, brash New York, bleak, oppressive Moscow, and technologically-advanced Tokyo as short-hand. There has been such an unending sea of media comments that even people who have never set foot in Eastern Europe know all about the “new” Kiev.


    “While there wasn’t much in the way of change, there was even less evidence of “Europe” or “Europeanization.” On the way from the airport I saw a sculpture that was intended to be the EU’s insignia (I think it was actually of the Euro, but whatever) but that was pretty much the only physical manifestation of what was supposed to be a society-transforming change in consciousness. That doesn’t mean the changes aren’t real or that they haven’t taken place, but it does mean that the daily rhythm of life seems fundamentally the same.

    Indeed, the parking and driving habits on display still had a distinct note of Russianness about them: even on the block where the conference attendees were being housed (a rather posh part of downtown) cars were left haphazardly on the sidewalk. I even found an intersection where several Mercedes S-classes had been parked directly in the middle of a cross-walk. There are live-fire combat exercises that take less physical courage and skill than navigating that particular intersection.


    It was frankly a relief that, at a time when Moscow is ever more consumed with hysterical politicization and when the economy is faring worse than any other time in recent memory, that everyday life in Kiev goes on much the same way it always has.”

    I, and also the entirety of progressive humanity – all democratic journalists, kreakls, professional hipsters, Euro-Ukrs, gays and the Soviet era dissidents – shake hands of Mark Adomanis of the former True/Slant fame. Verily, verily – “the parking and driving habits on display still had a distinct note of Russianness about them”. All signs of the centuries long oppression and forcible Russiphication of Proud and Culturally Superior Ukrs by Mongolo-Finno-Jewish-Ugrish Moscow’s Khanate. The fact that Kievans/Kyivans/al-Kuyabia’s citizens can’t park a car properly points out either to their less then perfect ancestry or can be explained by actions of Kremlinite шпигуни and saboteurs. BTW – this is a universal explanation of everything happening in Ukraine and Mark must adopt it. Because how else can he explain that Ukraine’s capital still doesn’t look, smell and taste like Paris, London or New York?

    • marknesop says:

      “It was frankly a relief that, at a time when Moscow is ever more consumed with hysterical politicization and when the economy is faring worse than any other time in recent memory, that everyday life in Kiev goes on much the same way it always has.”

      As always, Mark’s core loyalty to western corporatism shines through at the end, and in his closing paragraph he manages to incorporate nostalgia for Kiev’s success in maintaining its placid beauty as opposed to the “hysterical politicization” of Moscow, and encouragement for Washington’s policy of squeezing the Russian economy until it breaks. Keep on with the sanctions, boys – success is within our grasp! Although both currencies have experienced a dramatic slide in exchange rate, one country has huge energy resources and large cash reserves while the other has none of either, but never mind!! Courage, comrades! Kiev is still beautiful!!

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Mark, I admit – I’m bitter. What M.ADomanis and Galeotti have become is really unbearable for me.

        Imagine someone, like writer, actor and/or musician whom you greately admired some time ago, maybe even going so far as to claim “I grew up watching/reading/listening” this indivudual. And then he becames Mel Gibson of today. That’s what have become to Adomanis and Galeotti from my POV.

        Now they are, like, different people. Surely, these two (and many others in their “field”) know on which side their bread gets buttered (with occasional black caviar bonus for the “politically correct” reporting). And we can’t call it “whoring one’s talent”, right? Right?

        P.S. I wonder – what kind of conference (in Kiev of all places) did Mark Adomanis participated in?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      The most obviously distinct note of “Russianness” amongst the vast majority of Ukrainians is, in my humble opinion, that they speak and understand Russian – and nobody is making them do it!

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        That’, uh… a “Stockholm syndrome” on a national level! Yeah!

        Whew! And for a moment I thought that I won’t find a truly “svidomoje” explanation!

        But Mark shows us that Ukraine is on a right track – “the Ukrainian flag was rather more prominently displayed in public places” and ” [t]here might have been marginally more Ukrainian as opposed to Russian language signage since the last time I had visited”.

        Peremoga is imminent!

    • Jen says:

      Reading Mark Adomanis’ article, I get a sense of the conflict going on inside his mind as he tries to reconcile what he sees and hears on the ground with what he knows he’s supposed to say. Hence you get expressions like “…. everyday life in Kiev goes on much the same way it always has” which are so ambiguous as to mean nothing at all; it seems Adomanis is counting on his readers to know little of what everyday life in Kiev has been like for a long time.

    • marknesop says:

      “What this campaign showed is a massive disconnect between the establishment elite who told us Corbyn couldn’t win. First they tried to make fun of him, they’ve done it all the way through, they attacked him, it was a terrible smear campaign that went for the last two or three months, trying to link him to extremist people, and it all backfired because he won nearly 60 percent of the vote. I think it tells how out of touch these media gatekeepers are. The British media was overwhelmingly hostile to him. You can count on one hand the number of journalists who actually supported him in the British media,” Clark said.

      Pretty much the same tactics that western governments have learned to employ in colour revolutions. And why not – they both have the same goal; getting rid of undesirables. A tremendously encouraging thing to see it fail, and we may indeed be seeing the beginning of the end of the colour revolution template. Ideologues always keep trying a thing for a certain period after it has stopped working, in the vain hope that its former devastating effectiveness may return.

      You go, Mr. Corbyn. All the way to Downing Street.

  3. Warren says:

    Russian cargo planes ‘carrying aid’ arrive in Syria

    • marknesop says:

      It staggers the imagination how anyone in the world could believe the United States government when it says it is attacking only ISIS targets, when it admits candidly that it wants a rebel success in Syria and its objective is to remove Assad from power. The U.S. government treats announcements that Syrian government forces have lost control of this key airbase or that town as victories. And yet is is flying airstrikes in the country – supposedly to “help” Assad control the advance of ISIS, although it sometimes “accidentally” airdrops weapons to rebels – and nobody raises an eyebrow. Nobody seems alarmed at a situation in which the United States, if it is balked at the UN from a regime-change objective, simply invents an imaginary enemy and then invites itself into the target country to carry out regime change under the guise of fighting that imaginary threat. Remarkable. To what have we come if the Americans are too smart for everyone?

      Assad, if we can believe western analysis, currently controls only about a third of the country, and is losing ground every day. If nobody intervenes to change the situation on the ground, he will fall and the USA will realize its objective of replacing him with a complacent puppet. Then a gas pipeline contract with Qatar will follow shortly thereafter. Huzza! Another victory for freedom and democracy!

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    Russia Blocks Access to World’s Biggest Porn Site (Pornhub)

    Онанисты всех стран соединяетесь!

    • marknesop says:

      This is just a huge assault on freedom. Oh, and democracy. Also.

    • Warren says:

      • Drutten says:

        He really is trying to be an insufferable dickwad, isn’t he?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Does Weiss have statistics concerning the nationalities of those performing in Porn Hub clips?

        Is Weiss really unaware of the fact that the centre of the world porn industry is California?

        As it happens, one of the highest paid male porn performers in California is British. Another British citizen, Keiran Lee, has had his main asset insured by his employer for $1 million. Lee even caused comment recently by Auntie BBC, owing to the fact that he is considering entering the mainstream film industry.

        See: Talented or tainted: Can a porn star go mainstream?

        I find it extremely hard to believe that such a tosser as Weiss is unaware of that fact.

        Here’s another interesting fact: purely in the interests of research, I have just checked out Porn Hub: I connected almost instantaneously – icognito, of course.

        Granted, it wasn’t the Russian PornHub (I think), which is the one that the Moscow Times says the repressive authoritarian regime here has banned.

        • marknesop says:

          Access to porn is a democratic right. Putin is an authoritarian dick-tator.

        • Warren says:

          Facts and verifiable statistics aren’t needed when disparaging and slandering Russia. People must simply take Weiss’s ‘expert’ opinions and statements as gospel.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Is Weiss really unaware of the fact that the centre of the world porn industry is California?”

          And I thought it was Germany with most actors coming from Hungary or Czech Republic. Oh, well…

          • Moscow Exile says:

            The United States is the top producer of pornographic dvds and web material; the second largest is Germany: they each produce in excess of 400 porn films for dvds every week.

            Every 39 minutes a new porn film is created in the United States.

            The porn industry makes more money than Hollywood. (US Statistics)

            13,000 adult videos are produced annually, amassing over $13 billion dollars in profit. By comparison, Hollywood released 507 movies and made only 8.8 billion (Bridges and Wosnitzer, 2007).

            See: SPC

            • Patient Observer says:

              The “webcam” porn industry seems to be literally a cottage industry that is reshaping porn and will make DVDs and video streaming a quaint relic. Young women in the relative safety of their own homes/apartments/dorm rooms use a skype-like video service to interact in real time with dozens of visitors while performing sexual acts for tips delivered through the internet (somehow). I can not find statisitcs on the number of webcam performers but it must be in the thousands. Here’s how it’s done:
              Now everyone can be a porn star!

              Monsters! Monsters from the id! (Forbidden Planet – 1956 – perhaps the greatest Sci-Fi movie ever made)

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      And I wondered – who, who will be those brave souls Standing Up To Putin’s Tyranny! Who, who will Bravely Protect Persecuted Nudists, Teenagers and Losers? Now, I’m satisfied!

      Now Russia can go only in one direction – down and backwards. Surely, the blessed and democratic 90s will return in the form of situations, when honest and respectable looking people will have to buy “CD music albums” from their friendly street vendor to satisfy their Universally Protected porn needs.

      But expat oriented the Moscow Times or extreamly handshakable Meduza are not the most brave and outstanding of Pron Potectors. It’s them:

      Russia Just Banned PornHub

      “This news might sound familiar, though, since Russia’s been banning stuff left and right this year. Back in February, Russia banned over 100 porn sites on similar grounds, though that list did not include PornHub. The country banned celebrity memes a couple months later. Russia banned the Internet Archive in June over a single page with questionable ties to terrorism. Roskomnadzor even threatened to ban Facebook, Google, and Twitter. They just can’t stop banning stuff!

      But again, it’s a little unclear exactly what PornHub and friends did wrong. Suffice it to say that Russia tends to be pro-censorship and anti-pornography, (In Soviet Russia, sex itself was seen as “a wasteful consumer of energies better devoted to the building of Communism.) One Twitter user asked Roskomnadzor for alternatives to PornHub. The state media agency replied, “Dear Lola, alternatively you can meet someone in real life.” How quaint.”

      Yeah, really – “how quaint”! And oppressive. And illiberal!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        In Soviet Russia, sex itself was seen as “a wasteful consumer of energies better devoted to the building of Communism.

        Speaking from personal experience whilst living in the USSR, very many of my Soviet acquaintances were sexual wasters unconcerned about the building of a Communism.

        • marknesop says:

          That is obviously just some bullshit projection they themselves made up. If you use Trading Economics and select “Population” for both in two separate windows, then use the calendar icon in the left taskbar for each and adjust the date range you want to look at as “1960 – 1992” (1960 is as far back as the Soviet one goes), the two population growth traces are almost mirror images of one another. Was sex regarded as a waste of effort which might have been dedicated to the glory of capitalism in the United States? Horseshit. I really wish there was a way to hold people responsible for their ignorant proselytizing.

          What were kids taught in the Soviet Union – those rare children that appeared, of course, probably from a Kremlin test tube, because the state controlled sex? Here’s an example, from the cheerfully self-loathing English Russia. Help the little ones. Don’t bully others. Help your parents. Learn to do things for yourself.

          Not very motivational, I suppose, when matched against “Wear your pants so low that everyone can see all of your underwear”, “curse like a logger on public transit” and “watch more porn”. Dear God; is there no hope?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Yeah, he’s some kind of freak who compiles “English Russia”.

            His English is bloody awful as well and has shown no sign of improvement whatsoever over the years, which sometimes makes me suspect he is not Russian but someone who purposely writes as Anglophones think all Russians must write and speak English.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I always got a laugh out of Madonna’s frenzied defense of Pussy Riot, scrawling their name across her back in grease pencil and the lot. It wasn’t very much before that brave stand that Madonna was herself threatened with excommunication by the Vatican, because she planned to feature herself as Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns and transfixed upon a glittery cross, as the opening of her “Confessions” tour. The concert was to be held a stones throw from Vatican City itself. You can see how valuable a defense from her of Pussy Riot over their “singing a little song in church” would be.

          Sorry, this comment was intended to go in the thread with Moscow Exile’s comment about Madonna.

      • marknesop says:

        What an enduring mystery it must be that the Russian population reached its peak at 148.69 million in 1992, just on the eve of Free Russia’s liberation from the Soviet Union by Boris Yeltsin, Anders Aslund, Jeffrey Sachs and The Harvard Boyz. Immediately thereafter it went into steep decline, so I guess the Russians went into an orgy of having celebratory sex – since they weren’t working any more – which curiously resulted in no children. Perhaps they had just discovered the condom, and were trying it out. Until it dawned upon them that there were suddenly less and less of them. Or something.

      • marknesop says:

        The Manichean western reporter at it again – if you are “anti-pornography”, you must of a necessity be “pro-censorship”. That’s the only way you can spin the western admission of getting off from having someone piss on you to the public forum as another of the freedoms which make the enlightened westerner forever greater than the benighted Slav. Pornhub must be rubbing their hands with delight to see all this western support piling up, and salting it away in thick slices for the next time it runs afoul of public taste in the west – it will be practically impossible to prosecute them now.

        Of course, they are businessmen, and know better than to kill the golden goose by any extreme demonstrations at such a critical – and favourable – juncture. That’s unfortunate, because I would love to see a campaign poster of Hillary Clinton with some fat guy wearing a leather dominator mask and with his hard dick sticking out of peekaboo latex underwear, him with his arm around her shoulders and a caption reading “Pornhub endorses Hillary Clinton for President!” No reason that couldn’t happen now – access to porn has just been specifically identified as an American freedom, not to mention a western value in general. Hurry up and get your kids a subscription!!

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    Saakashvili more optimistic about the economic outlook for the Ukraine:

    Саакашвили улучшил прогноз для Украины, назвав ее «Габоном»

    Saakashvili has improved his outlook for the Ukraine, likening it the country to “Gabon”

    “The Ukraine GDP has declined from $184 billion to $115 billion, that is we have had a very quick per capita fall [in GDP]to the level of [the GDP] in Gabon. The Ukraine is, with all due respect, like Africa, like Gabon”, Saakashvili said in a broadcast on local television channels.”If the Ukraine has a growth rate of 2-3 percent a year, we shall reach the level of 2013 – the last year of Yanukovych – in 15 years.”

    This is significantly better than the last forecast from the same author. Recall that in June of this year he stated that the achievement of this goal would take two decades.

    “If the decline of the economy suddenly stops, and the Ukraine [economy] develops each year by 4%, then we shall get to the 2013 level in 20 years. Only after two decades, shall we be back at the same level of economic performance that the Ukraine had under Yanukovych”, he told those gathered at a strategic session of the Odessa region.

  6. Oddlots says:

    A very useful summary of sources on Syria:


    Where did ISIS come from? How was it able to gain land, arms and money so quickly?

    This book will answer those questions … and unmask ISIS.

    Part 1 shows that the U.S. – through bad policies and stupid choices – is largely responsible for the rise of ISIS.

    Part 2 reveals the strange history of the leaders of ISIS … Including one who never really existed, and another who – if you read mainstream media drivel – was killed … then arrested … and then killed again.

    Part 3 delves into the little-known, secret history of Iraq and Syria … and discusses the real motivations behind our current policies towards those countries.

    And Part 4 reveals the shocking truth about who is really supporting ISIS.

    So grab a cup of coffee, and prepare to learn the real story.

  7. Lyttenburgh says:

    A poll of the Ukrainians on their views on the general “progress” of reforms

    Reforms in Ukraine: public opinion of citizens

    Now, first of all – supposedly “serious” and “respected” polling organization can’t even write an intro in English version without mistakes. The original grammar preserved:

    “The Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation conducted polling in conjunction with the Razumkov /Center from July 22-27, 2015. A total of 2,011 respondents aged 18 and oldere were polled Crimea and the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The theoretical margin of error does not exceed 2.3%. The polling was conducted within the framework of the Civil Social Consortioum with the support of the European Union. “

    While in Ukrainian version of the site you can read “…in all regions of Ukraine with the exception of Crimea and the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts”.

    Anyway – the results clearly demonstrate that this whole site can’t work with the EU. It’s Kremlinite project, pure and simple! Nothing of this can really be true!

    – Basically every Ukrainian felt the consequences of the current financial-economic crisis: 59%- very seriously and another 37% – to a certain degree. The main economic consequence of the crisis for the majority of the population was the rise in prices (75%) and the reduced purchase of clothing and other items (72%) associated with this, the decrease in consumption of food products (67%) and the limitation of purchase of medications and medical services (55%). Every fourth citizen felt a reduction in wages.

    – The overwhelming majority of Ukrainias do not believe in the success of reforms tht the government is trying to implement: 32% have certain hopes, although they do not believe that this will happen and 30% are totally hopeless. However, only 30% on the whole believe that reforms will be successful.

    – Nearly half of Ukrainians (48%) feels that the new Ukrainian leadership did not achieve any progress in implementing reforms. Every fourth citizen feels that approximately 10% of that which should have been done was achieved, every 10th felt that no more than a third of the reforms were implemented and 3% – no more than half. Finally, 0.6% of citizens believe that the government implemented more than half of the planned reforms..

    – In the opinion of citizens, the government and oligarchs are the greatest obstacles to the conducting of reforms (51%). On the other hand, in the opinion of 32% of Ukrainians, the government is not an obstacle to reforms, rather on the contrary fosters the conduct of reforms. Conversely, only 7% of Ukrainians have such an opinion a it pertains to oligarchs. Accordingly, the conditional balance of the attitudes towards the role of oligarchs in conducting reforms is the worst among agents in this process (-44%). Ukrainians give an extremely low assessment of the analogous influence of state officials (-38%) as well as political forces that are part of the composite of the coalition (-22%). The number of those who feel that the president is the driving force and the brakes on reform is approximately equal: 37% і 39% respectively. Non-government organizations and volunteers can boast the highest balance of the attitudes of citizens in the context of influence on the conducting of reforms: 22% feel that they foster reforms,, while only 0.5% – that are obstacles to such reforms. Ukrainian citizens demonstrated a similar balance overall: 18.5% feel that the president is the driving force of reforms, while only 3% feel his is an obstacle to them.

    – The main reason for the current socioeconomic crisis in Ukraine is the corruption among representatives of the ruling power (72% of Ukrainians are convinced of this). Besides that, in their opinion the oligargization of the economy was also an important (54%), incompetent administration of the social and economic spheres on the part of the political leadership of the country (47%) and the absence of a strategy of socioeconomic development (35%). 30% of the polled believe the military actions in the Donbas region are the cause of the crisis.

    – The overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (54%) support the continuation of market reforms for the sake of overcoming the socioeconomic crisis in the country. 20% of the polled named the transition to a planned economy a panacea.

    – The most important reform for Ukrainians is anti-corruption measures – 65% of citizens feel this. In addition to that, on the list of priority reforms respondents of the poll mention reform of law enforcement bodies (58%), pension reform and reform of the social security system (40%) and reform of the healthcare system (36%).

    – Only 9% Ukrainians are fully satisfied with the state of the government informing them about its work. In the opinion of 39% of citizens, the information that the government provides often does not correspond to reality, 28% feel that such information is not sufficient and 24% complain that the information is not understood. At the same time, 12% are convinced that experts and not the average citizen should be interested in such information.

    – Ukrainians are split in their attitudes towards the appointment of citizens of other countries to state positions, first and foremost Georgia. The equal number of the polled – 42% – support and do not such staffing decisions. Moreover, in the western and central oblasts of Ukraine the polled support such appointments (58% and 49% assess them as positive, respectively), while in the southern and eastern oblasts and the Donbas region the people for the most part do not support such appointment (33%, 29% and 26%, respectively). The attitudes towards the appointment of Mikhail Saakashvili the head of the Odesa Oblast State Administration (OSA) are slightly better: 44% gave a positive assessment, while 38% gave a negative assessment. At the same time, the regional differences are equally expressive: in western and central oblasts the majority of the population supports such a decision (62% and 53%, respectively), while in the southern and eastern oblasts and the Donbas region – the minority (35%, 30% and 28%, respectively).

    – Slightly more than a third of Ukrainians (36%) are ready to tolerate a further decline in their standard of living for the sake of the success of reforms (of them 8% are ready to tolerate as much as it takes, while 28% – no more than a year). At the same time, every third Ukrainian cannot tolerate it any longer as their material status today is intolerable and every fourth citizen cannot tolerate any longer as it does not believe in the success of reforms. Only in western regions of the country the majority of residents are ready to tolerate material hardships for a certain period of time (overall, 57%). In all other regions of the country such residents were in the minority (in the central region – 37.5%, in the southern region – 25%, in the eastern region – 23%, in the Donbas – 28%). Over the past half year, the number of those who are ready to tolerate hardships for the sake of the implementation of reforms decreased by 8%, while the number of those who are not ready to tolerate such hardships increased by 11%.

    – Nearly 30% of Ukrainians are aware of the civil initiative “Reanimation Package of Reforms”: 4% a well aware of it, while 25% heard something about it.

    – A relative majority of Ukrainians (51%) admitted that it is not ready to make personal efforts for the sake of the success of reforms in the country: 28% – because they feel that bodies of the state should engage in them, while 23% – because they do not believe in the success of reforms. On the other hand, 28% are ready to attentively observe information about the progress of reforms in the mass media, 13% are ready to gain knowledge necessary for orienting themselves regarding reforms and 11% are ready to participated in public debates.

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    Sir Elton John speech at the 12th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting

    I’m indeed humbled to be included in the group of distinguished business and government leaders, diplomats and humanitarians who have addressed this important annual gathering. And especially so in speaking about building a more tolerant country, the subject of this session.

    Well golly gosh, “tolerance” is your theme, is it?

    Ever heard this expression:

    Moskali to the knife!

    • Fern says:

      I thought this was a sort of joke or send-up when I first heard it but apparently not. I think this quote from Sir Elton (and was there ever a more ridiculous title?) really sums up how gay rights have become a tool of propaganda:-

      ”I want to also talk about the important role the business community can play in creating a new paradigm of inclusion — one that benefits individuals personally and society at large, and one that is also uniquely good for business.”

      And there you have the height, depth, length and breadth of it. He’s there, according to his own testimony, as the guest of one oligarch, whom he calls a friend, speaking to other oligarchs. Clearly he doesn’t perceive the gutting of Ukraine over the last 25 years by these folk to be any sort of problem at all. Nope, the message is gay rights are good for business. And this is why corporate and establishment interests are so supportive of gay rights – because as they’re embodied by folk like Sir Elton, they threaten nothing.

      • Oddlots says:

        Agree with you completely. When you have been thoroughly embraced and accepted it seems to mean a use has been found for you. Do all things devolve in this way to ruin? And how to describe that ruin exactly?

        I have a new insight into the – until now – the age-old appeal of Alchemy: since we seem to be able so easily to turn gold to shit there must be away to do the opposite.

        But contrast this story:

        The whole scene around the weigh-in is a perfect window into another world. There is some real decency in the reporters’ discomfort over how to report the incident, particularly as they know it will get reported by their colleague-competitors. Such qualms have been bull-dozed aside and I am not certain that that’s progress really. Like I said, a lost world.

        Hammil’s disgust at his editor’s effort to skirt the issue entirely by completely obfuscating it in “un-English” is particularly poignant, if counting in the opposite direction to the above.

        But I cite it here not just because of the gay-right issue but because I thought it was a great evocation of the moment when it is painfully obvious that a complex, very human and very public string of events, experienced collectively, has gone too far.

        In other words, it reminded me of what a tragedy, on a human level, all wars are. Even if you “win.”

        • marknesop says:

          What a great piece of writing, from one of the saddest rags in the “popular press”. It might have been written in the 1960’s, when it occurred and reporters wrote stories without an excess of agenda-driven editorializing – I had to scroll back up to the top to see when it was written, and it’s hard to believe it is current. What a sad story, but how compelling! Paret is first cast as the easy-to-dislike intolerant villain – until we learn he is himself a victim of intolerance, having had his own humanity denied.

          It reminds us that the gay question, like slavery, is undeniably relevant because tremendously unjust persecutions against individuals, in its name, have indeed been carried out. And, like any terrible event from the holocaust to the holodomor, activists seize upon the fact that it really happened to lend weight to their advocacy. Nobody should be persecuted because they are gay. In return for society’s tolerance of what is unarguably not “normal”, gays owe society the same discretion we expect of everyone else, and should not be slobbering all over one another in public or being otherwise deliberately provocative. If they insist upon it, they should not be surprised that it leads to the expression of disgust along with occasional approbation and solidarity.

          The comment itself is also an excellent and evocative piece of writing – maybe it’s time for your own debut?

      • Patient Observer says:

        I would add that anyone at the level in show business swims in slime. To be a designated STAR, Sir Elton has shown his loyalty using every orifice in his body and every neuron at his disposal. He is lost to humanity.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “I want to give special thanks to my friend Victor Pinchuk for inviting me and encouraging me to come and speak my truth. “


      See, people?! Oligarchs are for tolerance!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        So plain old Reginald Dwight of boring old pinner, Middlesex now carries around with him a personal “truth” and is a sort of messiah ready to preach to all who wish to believe?

        Funny how that old ratbag Madonna didn’t make an appearance with him in Kiev so as to spout her wonderful thoughts to those “distinguished business and government leaders, diplomats and humanitarians” gathered there.

  9. Warren says:

    Defence Secretary Michael Fallon: Corbyn ‘a risk to security’

    • marknesop says:

      Every question asked him is just like pushing a button on a talking doll. He comes out with the same answer every time, like he’s….trying to imprint it on the public consciousness…or something.

      • Warren says:

        Tory strategy against Corbyn is scaremongering and demonisation. All Tory politicians are regurgitating the same talking points.

        Michael Gove: Corbyn could become PM – we have to face that

        • et Al says:

          I wasn’t expecting to be vindicated so quickly!

          Meanwhile, Dave ‘Master of Hot Air’ seem to be piling in:

          David Cameron: Corbyn’s Labour ‘a threat to security’

          David Cameron has renewed Conservative attacks on Jeremy Corbyn with this tweet just a little while ago:

          The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security.
          — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) September 13, 2015

          I think it is the Conservatives who are on the road to extinction. It’s theirs to loose and continually grinding the population’s nose in the dust and not having the Liberal Democrats there to take the punishment, the Conservatives are all on their lonesome.

          As for Corbyn & Trident renewal, Britain doesn’t have an independent nuclear deterrent. It has lease American Trident D5 missiles with British warheads that can only be used will American authority. Now if the Brits signed up with the French, who not only have the full nuclear triad, they don’t need to ask anyone to use it, then it would be a real question. Even their new attack subs sport the same reactor from the ancient SSBNs, a switch that happened late in the design process (to save money) that leaves it with a nice bulge at the back of the boat!

          Senior British Generals and others have already questioned the value of Trident if there is not enough money going in to standard, and more often used regular forces. It looks like the UK cannot afford both, except badly.

          • Warren says:

            The Tories want to keep Trident to maintain the UK’s place in the UN Security Council. The UK cannot be considered a ‘Great Power’ if it gives up its nukes.

            Whether the UK can launch a nuke without US permission or not doesn’t matter – it’s about keeping up appearances.

          • marknesop says:

            The conservatives are at a loss – they seem to have a history of putting all their money into the back of a trend, and they are going big on scare tactics just about the time people are beginning to see through them. But it worked so well before!!! There is absolutely nothing that I’m aware of to support the statement that Corbyn is “friends” with Hamas and Hezbollah.

            There is a crisis brewing whose force will probably be felt by decade’s end, and if Europe and NATO survive it, they will be significantly transformed.

            • et Al says:

              Maybe it is the Conservatives that are stuck in the 1980s, not the Corbynistas.

              BTW, I just came across this hilarious rant from The Secret Femme about refugees that has gone viral. Warning: a bit of swearing:

              British racists are such deluded losers – I’ve seen so much comment about how all refugees everywhere want to come here and take all our stuff. Like these stupid Brits genuinely think this is the best place to be when its way crapper and more unequal than a lot of European countries. I hate this revolting “Britain is so great everyone wants to be here” superior attitude. No one wants to be here. It’s cold, it’s wet, we are internationally renowned for having shit food, our parks are shit, our government is shit, were surrounded by beaches that we can’t hang out on because of aforementioned shit weather, and summer lasts 3 fucking days, there’s UKIP members all over the place, no one can afford housing, everyone’s drunk, fucking pop up shops are everywhere, the cinema costs ten fucking pound, no one can get benefits, even when they’re entitled and they jump through the flaming hoops suspended across the laser wearing sharks, the suburbs are occupied by boring white people, who move house to get their kids into a school exactly the same as the fucking school round the corner because “it’s got a slightly better reputation and new toilets”, our education and health system is being ruined by capitalist bureaucrats who give zero fucks about people being educated or healthy and the entire country, including me, sits transfixed watching people cry over baked goods every fucking Wednesday.

              They don’t want to fucking come here. They’re fleeing a fucking war. Fucks sake.

              • et Al says:

                Oh dear, I have such poor social media skil!z

              • Moscow Exile says:

                My wife confided to me the other day that a neighbour of ours (an old woman) reckons I’m an arsehole (жопа) because I won’t take my Mrs. Exile and my family to live with me in the UK. She said exactly that, namely that I’m a zhopa.

                The old bat must be a geriatric kreaklnitsa.

                I told Mrs. Exile to ask her from me where the fuck she thinks I would get a job in the UK if I moved back there.

                • Lyttenburgh says:

                  Erm, and I thought that Russian analog for the “asshole” was slightly more sophisticated “жопошник”. No?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  True: in English “zhopa ” [жопа] simply means “arse”, whereas “ass” means “osyol” in Russian [осел].

                  However, one would seldom call a person an “arse” in English, “arsehole” being the preferred insult, whereas in English one does use “ass” as a pejorative, as in “You silly ass!”

                • et Al says:

                  I would pony up a one way ticket (by bus of course or if I’m really nasty, Ryanair) and provide her an abode in a boarded up coalmine (if I could squeeze her through the gap). She would consider it a luxury compared to a Russian coal mine no doubt…

      • marknesop says:

        It is indeed. I imagine the conservatives will attempt to buy off members of his own party to help bring him dowm. But the people will support him – for now – and he needs to make his changes irreversible. Like Yeltsin, but please, God, not the same method.

  10. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      If I concentrate really hard, I can remember a time when newspapers just reported the news, and when opinion was clearly marked as “Opinion”, in the “Opinion” pages, rather than on the front page masquerading as fact. The press is Britain’s biggest disgrace. All, all of its newspapers are nothing more than lurid tabloids, like the kind that feature Bat Boy on the front page.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I remember a rag, “The Sunday Sport” I think, that once had a lead story that the wreck of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” WWII bomber had been located on the surface of the moon.

        Pictures there were as well, taken through a telescope.

        • Patient Observer says:

          It may have looked like a B-17 but much more likely a Virvana scout craft that is normally carried on the back of the Mother Ship. These journalists need to improve their fact checking.

        • marknesop says:

          My favourite was “(insert model year here, I forget what it was) Ford Pickup Truck Found Floating in Space – and it’s Still Running!!!” Naturally an air-breathing internal-conbustion engine would quickly adapt to operation in an oxygen-free environment. What will Ford think of next?

      • Oddlots says:

        Not sure if it’s true but I’ve seen it argued that the revocation of the Fairness doctrine played a part in the rise of conservative talk radio and then of Fox News:

        “In August 1987, under FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision, which was upheld by a panel of the Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit in February 1989.[15] The FCC suggested in Syracuse Peace Council that because of the many media voices in the marketplace, the doctrine be deemed unconstitutional, stating that:

        “ The intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters … [and] actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists. ”
        At the 4-0 vote, Chairman Patrick said,

        “ We seek to extend to the electronic press the same First Amendment guarantees that the print media have enjoyed since our country’s inception.[16] ”
        The FCC vote was opposed by members of Congress who said the FCC had tried to “flout the will of Congress” and the decision was “wrongheaded, misguided and illogical.”.[17] The decision drew political fire and tangling, where cooperation with Congress was at issue.[18] In June 1987, Congress attempted to preempt the FCC decision and codify the Fairness Doctrine,[19] but the legislation was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Another attempt to revive the doctrine in 1991 was stopped when President George H.W. Bush threatened another veto.[20]

        Fowler said in February 2009 that his work toward revoking the Fairness Doctrine under the Reagan Administration had been a matter of principle (his belief that the Doctrine impinged upon the First Amendment), not partisanship. Fowler described the White House staff raising concerns, at a time before the prominence of conservative talk radio and during the preeminence of the Big Three television networks and PBS in political discourse, that repealing the policy would be politically unwise. He described the staff’s position as saying to Reagan:

        “ The only thing that really protects you from the savageness of the three networks—every day they would savage Ronald Reagan—is the Fairness Doctrine, and Fowler is proposing to repeal it![21] ”
        Instead, Reagan supported the effort and later vetoed the Democratic-controlled Congress’s effort to make the doctrine law.”

        Bruce Bartlett on Fox News.

        Basically the southern strategy was supposed to involve the Republican Party taking over from the Democrats in the South. The actual result was that the south took over the Republican Party. Some divine justice in that.

        BTW this had me in stitches:

        • marknesop says:

          American politics have evolved to a point that policymakers know well that when you want to get something passed, call it something that makes it sound as if it is righting an historic wrong. The piece of legislation which removed the requirement for mill owners and factory operators to upgrade their emission-control equipment was called The Clear Skies Act. Therefore it is no surprise to find the effort to repeal the Fairness Doctrine couched in terms which made it appear it was itself unfair and prejudicial. Conservatives are very skilled at manipulating the language so it is easy for Americans to say “Yes, I support that; how could I not?” For their part, Americans are frequently too lazy to read what they are supporting. And that’s how laws get passed with broad public support that turn out to open the way for monopolistic control by a few huge outfits owned by a few very, very rich people who just got a lot richer and tightened their control a whole lot more. Then the press chimes in to report how progressive it all was and America leads the world in this or that, and Americans smile happily and murmur, “Well, that’s all right, then”.

          When they pass the law that says junior high school students must have access to Pornhub, they will probably call it The Morality Act, or something like that.

  11. Warren says:

  12. Warren says:

    Oh the Chutzpah……….

  13. Russian gas transit through Ukraine will continue after 2019 says the CEO of Gazprom Aleksei Miller:

    Didn’t Russia state the exact opposite a while ago? That the gas transit through Ukraine will be stopped completely by 2019.

    • Cortes says:

      “certain amounts ” to Moldova are unlikely to thrill Ukraine, EU or IMF.

    • marknesop says:

      Gazprom said it would stop sending gas to Europe after 2019. It says here that “certain volumes” will continue, such as gas for Moldova. If Kiev thinks it can siphon off gas with impunity which is destined for Moldova, and Russia will not dare penalize it because it would create a major incident, good luck. Likewise exorbitant transit fees just for sending gas to Moldova. And presumably if Ukraine wants to buy gas for itself from Russia instead of sucking off the world tit and trying to get it for free out of pity, then that gas will continue as well. Russia’s longstanding position has been that it wants to get away from transit of European gas through Ukraine, because Ukraine keeps using that as an excuse to steal free gas.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Still searching hard for evidence of russian weakness and duplicity, I see.

  14. Drutten says:

    Maybe you guys knew about this, but I didn’t. Somebody with a lot of money has gone completely mad in the Russian provincial city of Yoshkar-Ola.
    This city, pretty much dominated by rundown khrushchyovki, was once built on either side of the Little Kokshaga river. Here’s the eastern part of the city back in 2000, with the river to the left:

    Now, the mayor decided to develop the waterfront. That’s not very surprising as it’s prime estate, but what is rather surprising to me: not with the typical barcode-esque modernist architecture of glass, steel and concrete that we’re seeing all over the place, but it’s being developed into some kind of giant Russian Revival meets the Hanseatic-wonderland.
    I’m serious, it’s crazy and it’s positively huge. Check this out (drone footage from last winter):

    This is the same waterfront as in the above photo from 2000, and the development since then is just staggering. Furthermore, it just keeps on going apparently. I had a look and it turns out that an absolute shitload of castles, towers, medieval-style residential buildings and so on are under construction right now, with even more planned and paid for already apparently.

    What the hell? I love it, but it’s nuts.

    • Drutten says:

      And to get a feel for how it looks like from ground level:

      • Drutten says:

        Forgot to include this one:

      • Cortes says:

        Those people are inspired. They ought to get Prince Charles and James Howard Kunstler free air tickets to publicise their efforts more. It’s phenomenal!

      • marknesop says:

        It looks remarkable from ground level – it’s really quite well done, isn’t it? I particularly like the look of it in the winter shot, it looks like a scene from a fairy tale. It looks to be built to quite high standards, too; and with lots of attention devoted to the surrounding public areas as well, which in my limited experience is atypical.

        • Drutten says:

          It’s actually looking pretty good indeed, it would seem like once you get “inside” the new central area you almost forget all about about the depressing commieblocks that make up most of the city as they’re barely visible from there. Instead all you see is a romantic mixture of classic Russian architecture and some kind of European fairy tale-mashup. It’s fairly kitsch, I’ll concede as much, but it’s not too bad. Also, most of it seems to be properly built in brick, marble and granite and should hold up well.

          There have been some rushed things though I gather; the cast iron fence along one part of the waterfront walkways apparently rusted in its foundations, leading to some cracking and what not. They’re fixing that, but people have complained.

          Anyway, I still haven’t been able to figure out why they went this radical and who is paying for it all. It’s definitely not one of the better known cities in Russia, and the Republic of Mari-El is pretty much unheard of outside of the country too. There seems to be no really significant economic activity going on, it’s hardly on the tourism map and the city’s not all that large either. Some suggest that the mayor wanted to leave a permanent mark on the city, but that can’t be the full story given the sheer scale of it all.

          After some Google Maps-browsing, I discovered that they’re erecting large buildings in a similar “retro mashup” but decidedly Russian brick style elsewhere in the city too, so it’s not all concentrated to the areas by the river. They’re also fixing up some existing buildings to make them fit the new skyline better, or something. A cool but severely rundown art deco theatre is being renovated and altered, for instance. I generally have mixed feelings about such endeavours, but in this case I’ll let it pass as the original building really does look hideous.

          Wikipedia is telling me that “yoshkar-ola” is Mari (the local Uralic tongue) for “the red city” so at the very least this ongoing red brick bonanza sorta retroactively does that justice, ha-ha.

          • Jen says:

            I’ve seen a few Wikipedia articles on the HDI levels in the various Russian Federal areas and the Republic of Mari-El ranks quite low. It may be that the governor of the republic has taken a leaf out of Ramzan Kadyrov’s book and has ordered a massive construction makeover of Yoshkar Ola to provide employment and stimulate the local economy.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      It may be madness, but if so it’s a divine madness.

    • marknesop says:

      It looks like Santa’s Christmas Village designed by Minecraft. But whatever gets them through the night. There’s some serious money being spent there – why? Is it to attract investment? To what? What are the principal imports/exports? What’re the town’s main industries? I could look it up, but I’m just heading for bed.

  15. Moscow Exile says:

    Spud Festival

    Quite a few postings such as the above appearing of late on the Russian blogosphere.

    Mostly posted by Kreakly loungers, I suspect, who believe it is evidence of the backwardness of Russia and the dire need for sustenance amongst Russian citizens because of the collapse of the economy owing to Putin’s policies and the resulting punitive Western sanctions. (Small point: to be punished, the guilt of the punished party first has to be determined. Who or what has determined Russia’s guilt and decided the appropriate punishment that is to be meted out? And guilty as charged of what exactly?)

    My wife and I returned from our dacha yesterday, loaded with fruit as well as preserves and fruit juice that my wife had made there. We will be doing the same thing for several weeks as we have a bumper harvest this year.

    The local train that we set off in for our country place left Moscow at 07:25. It was packed with similarly starving Muscovites as are my wife and I (honorary Muscovite), desperate for foodstuff to bide them through the winter months.

    The train in which we returned to the capital late that afternoon was similarly packed with passengers carrying, as my wife and I were, plums, berries, gherkins, apples, pears, pumpkins and various squashes etc., etc. and jars of preserves.

    This happens every year around this time, of course: out of necessity for some no doubt, but out of pleasure for very many such as my wife and me.

    The Kreakly don’t think so, though: they know the reality of the situation and are unafraid to snigger over it and reveal it to the free world.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “Working with your hands? How backward and demeaning!”

      Actually, the very first time I’ve heard this attitude expressed out loud was indeed in Moscow, when I (a “working intelligentsia” in the 3rd Gen from the province) have met the “native Muscovites” (an “artistic” or “academy” intelligentsia whose ancestors probably never worked at all). Said “natives” expressed their total bafflement with the fact that I and my entire family still enjoy pracising the yearly agricultural cycle on our dacha, growing:

      – tomatos, cucumbers and marrows in greenhouses;
      – several patches with potatoes (‘casue potato is of avesome!);
      – 2 apple and 2 plum trees, an “oblepikha” tree (a “sea-buckthorn” – seriously, English?);
      – “Over 9000” bushes with red, white, black currants (“smorodina”), now mostly wild raspberries (“mahlina”), blackberry (“ezhevika”), “zhimolost’” (a “honeysuckle” – seriously, what’s wrong with you?!) and a couple of strawberry (“klubnika”) patches plust 2 “kahlina” (“arrowwood”) trees.
      – Several patches of peas. ‘Cause it’s nice to have it!
      – Several patches with garlic and horseradish.

      Native Muscovites asked me – why work your ass out on dacha, when you can buy everything?

      Well, I guess this is a class thing and there won’t be any understanding from the people who refer to Russia “this country”.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        We’ve still got jam (varen’ye really) from last year in our Moscow flat made from all of the above berries, including gooseberries, and salted gherkins as well. Why buy such stuff when growing it yourself is so much more rewarding. If I could live in the country permanently, I would certainly do so.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I, must say, though, that I need to get hold of a few more serfs, because I’m aching all over today after having done so much demeaning manual labour yesterday.

          Bear in mind, Mrs. Exile is used to such hard graft:

          • Moscow Exile says:


            Twerking reaches the Russian countryside!

            Is there nothing sacred no more?

          • marknesop says:

            I had to do that (the horse part) when we were in Dalnegorsk; I was visiting (during the period my missus was not yet allowed into Canada) around early June-ish, and it was time to plow the rows between the potatoes at the dacha. It was bloody hard work; I had to stop and catch my breath at the end of each row, and I was sweating like a pig. I felt like I had really earned my dinner, if not some hero-of-the-something gong to wear around my neck, until Sveta explained matter-of-factly, “When you are not here, Mama does it”.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        D’oh! Totally forgot about cabbages (bloody snails… cabbages are not for you!), radish and beets!

        Now, just how stereotypically Russian am I now?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          As a matter of fact, I love cabbage and beetroot and all the “boring” and “disgusting” food that I was brought up on over half a century ago and which is still ate in quantities by the average Russian citizen. In my experience, most British children nowadays turn their noses up at such stuff, they having long ago been McDonaldized.

          Everything in the UK now must be pre-packed, pre-prepared, microwave ready, or so it seemed to me when I was last there.

          In my sister’s kitchen everything is so. And soup is always out of a can – usually one from Mrs. Kerry’s business. Homemade soup is a staple of the Russian diet and no – absolutely no – soup out of a can with all sorts of artificial colourings, flavour enhancers and preservatives can compare in taste with soup made out of fresh vegetables and meat or fish – or kvas even when making okryoshka – in your own kitchen.

          • Fern says:

            And that, in a nutshell, is why there’s so many health-related issues around food and consumption in the West. I regularly stand behind people in supermarket checkout queues who have loaded – and I mean loaded – trolleys, sometimes more than one, piled high, sometimes over £200’s worth of shopping – which contain not one item of fresh food. Not one fruit or vegetable. Nada. There are increasing numbers who never eat anything that isn’t manufactured or pre-packaged.

            Moscow Exile and Lyttenburgh, on a personal note, I’m pea-green envious. As someone who likes to pickle, preserve and jelly, it must be wonderful to grow your own produce. Lucky Russians, I say, to be able to combine the best of city and country.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Dear Fern,

              As someone who likes to pickle, preserve and jelly …
              Then you’d like this Russian favourite: kholodets [холодец], usually eaten with horseradish:

              When I first ate kholodets as a guest in Russia, my hosts were surprised at how I tucked into it with relish, saying that their previous English guests had always politely refused to try it.

              Of course, their previous guests had all been some 20 years younger than me then (this was in the late ’80s) and I doubt if any of them had been from Lancashire, my old neck of the woods, where kholodets is known as “brawn”:

              • marknesop says:

                That actually looks almost appetizing; I might have tried that. The Kholodets to which I was introduced was made by Babulya Masha, my father-in-law’s mother (who has since turned her toes up, more’s the pity, because she was a lovable old scamp who made the most potent popskull out of jam. She was also the person most closely shaped like a cube I have ever seen), and was almost exclusively a semi-transparent jelly with just a few fibres of meat in it. It was not chock full of meat like that pictured. Since I am not a fan of cold meat-flavoured clear jelly, I did not try it, although my father-in-law’s brothers wolfed it down with gusto.

                Babulya Masha was quite the naturalist, and made something edible out of just about everything she came across. She particularly favoured a drink which was made from the sap of birch trees. Two of her sons were involved in forestry and brought her as much as she wanted, and she swore it was very good for your health. She also had a large garden off her home, and grew most of the same vegetables Lyttenburgh described. Same with my in-laws’ place, except their tree was an apricot. I think I mentioned before that my mother-in-law grew tomatoes in the centre of a circle made by a large Kamaz truck tire. She said stable temperature was important for tomatoes, and the black rubber heated up during the day and stayed warm for much of the night. She also covered the plants with plastic to keep moisture inside. It seemed to work a treat, as tomatoes practically exploded off the plants and she had as many as they could conveniently use.

                • Lyttenburgh says:

                  Mark… I always greately repected you… But this:

                  “She particularly favoured a drink which was made from the sap of birch trees.”

                  Won an entire Internet fir yiu in my eyes!

                  ‘Cause, you see – beryozovij sok is largely popular in the parts I’m from.

                  More so! Once upon a time, my two elder brothers have forgot about 2 bottles choke full of this “bitrch tree jucie”. Whiche, naturally, have fermented on our dacha.

                  I was the first to taste. I was the first to discoser…

                  Sufficient to say – I still strongly approve of birch “sap”.!

                • marknesop says:

                  I wish I had known of its fermented power – mine was kind of watery, with maybe a slight citrus flavour, and not fermented. Granny Masha probably knew, though – she was an old devil, probably the black sheep of the family, and in another time she might have passed as a witch. She told me it was a very healthy drink, good for you. I wish i had known that if it were fermented, it would make me grow hair on the bottoms of my feet and enable me to leap over houses like The Wolverine.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Birch sap is a renowned hangover cure in these parts. I’ve tried this remedy and it worked for me. Another remedy for vodka-hangovers is drinking the liquor out of a pickled gherkin jar. That works as well. It’s brine, really, known as rassol in Russian and full of magnesium and potassium salts that are, they say, good for a system that has been assaulted by ethyl alcohol. In fact, a few years ago the Moscow brewery Ochakovo used to market canned rassol as a hangover cure.

                  That mostly jelly kholodets sometimes looks like this:

                  My favourite Russian dish, though, is this:

                  “Herring Under a Fur Coat” – Сельдь под шубой

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, that’s Sveta’s favourite dish as well, and Mama makes a killer one, so I’m told. But I can’t do it; I don’t like herring. Only smoked and dried, we used to buy that when I was a kid, but I haven’t seen it for a long time. I’m quite fond of smoked fish in general. Mama also makes vinaigrette, which doesn’t seem to mean the same to Russians as it does to everyone else, and it’s like herring under a fur coat without the herring. Green peas in place of it, I guess. And I like that, it’s quite tasty.

              • Fern says:

                I kinda think I’d have to pass on the kholodets – I’m a pickler and preserver of fruit and vegetables. Fruit jellies – fantastic; meat jellies – not so much. Your orchards and gardens sound wonderful; you’re fortunate to have access to so much good stuff.

      • marknesop says:

        I devoutly wish we could get zhimolost here; my in-laws have several bushes at the dacha in Dalnegorsk, and my mom-in-law made a variety of delicious things with the berries, from a delicious compote we ate with smetana and bliny to a lovely morst from the juice. I’ve never seem them here although I regularly shop around pictures of the berries to local plant shops. Our one attempt to smuggle in a bit of the root so we could start a new bush was not successful.

        Of course you can buy all that stuff – here, like in Russia, we can buy direct from the farmers at a farm market or a roadside stand. But nothing is as fresh or tastes as good as the stuff you grew yourself.

    • Cortes says:

      Plenty of descendants of tattie howkers in the world. Those who laugh at people doing physical manual work are beneath contempt. And those who rip off and even enslave the more simple minded field workers (cases involving poor Poles and other Central European nationals in Spain and UK in recent years) should be shot.

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    On the T-shirt:

    The Ukraine is Europe!

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    On poster:

    We feel sorry for our children in the war in Syria.

    Below the picture:

    Oh … so you feel SORRY for your children?
    So I have just one question for you then …


    • Fern says:

      Moscow Exile, that’s very interesting. At the risk of coming across as Hard-Hearted Hannah, I think some scepticism about this ‘refugee crisis’ is well overdue. Many of these folk are not fleeing Syria but are coming from Turkey where they have lived, in relatively safety, for some time. The western mainstream media and political elites have polarised along ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ refugee fault lines but but virtually no-one is really probing the background of these folk and asking why, suddenly, hundreds of thousands are on the move. Writer Tony Carlucci has a well-written piece raising exactly these sort of questions:-

      ”As this last attempt to justify a final push toward regime change in Syria falters, and as European powers begin deciding whether or not to intervene further in Syria alongside the US, a sudden and convenient deluge of refugees has flooded Europe, almost as if on cue. Scenes like that out of a movie showed hordes of tattered refugees herded along various borders as they apparently appeared out of what the Western media has portrayed as a puff of smoke at Europe’s gates….

      In reality, they did not appear out of a puff of smoke. They appeared in Turkey, a NATO member since the 1950’s and one of America’s closest regional allies. Turkey is currently hosting the US military, including special forces and the CIA who have, together with Turkish military and intelligence agencies, been conducting a proxy war on neighboring Syria since 2011……

      There is little way that these refugees could suddenly “disappear” and end up in Europe without the Turkish government and more importantly, European governments either knowing about it or being directly involved…..

      However, not all of the refugees flooding into Europe from Turkey are even from the Syrian conflict. Many are being trafficked first to Turkey from other theaters of NATO operations, including Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Iraq. It appears that Turkey is serving as a central transit point, not just for terrorists it is feeding into the Syrian conflict, but also for collecting refugees from across MENA and Central Asia, before allowing them to proceed in vast numbers to Europe.

      Catastrophes that are meant to look “sudden” and “unexpected” as well as “unstoppable” but are in fact, allowed to unfold within an operational theater completely controlled by the US and NATO constitutes instead a conspiracy – pitting desperate and/or exploited refugees intentionally sent out of Turkey and into Europe, against a manipulated, fearful, and ill-informed Western public…..

      The recent refugee crisis is being used for precisely this same purpose. In fact, while a false debate is being managed by the Western media and Western political figures to either unconditionally accept the refugees or unconditionally reject them, the only singular narrative both sides are being made to agree on is that instability across MENA is to blame and more bombing is the answer.

      Debates over increased, direct military intervention in Syria are now almost entirely predicated not on supporting “freedom fighters,” stopping “WMDs,” or fighting “ISIS,” but instead on how military intervention can help solve the “refugee crisis.”

      I very much fear this is some sort of ‘Gladio’ operation – a way of moving large numbers of ISIS into western Europe and then it’s false flags a go-go – all of which will play into the War on Terror narrative.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        To be fair, though, I have seen plenty of newsreels showing refugees carrying toddlers, notably the one who was tripped up by a Hungarian photo-journalist whilst attempting to cross the border.

        However, those men above who are showing pictures of their children on their iPhones don’t hit the right chords with me.

        It might all be a put-up job though.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Fern, as Russian expression goes, I won’t try to “pull an owl on a globe”, i.e. you are trying to see some sinister deep level conspiracy where there is nothing like that.

        I’m not sure if anyone here have ever heard about Evgeniy Ianovitch Satanovskiy, a president of Moscow’s Institute of the Middle East and famous “Vostokovjed” (i.e. specialist on Middle East and the Central Asia) in Russia. He had repeated for more than a month now both on Russian TV and Radio, and, most recently, on Israeli Russian language on-line channel ItonTV one theory concerning the origins of this “migrant crisis”. I kinda trust him in this regard.

        According to Satanovskiy it’s all rather simple. Erdoghan can only dream of beign described as a “strongman” – like, say, Putin. His recent policies have backfired at him. He has nothing to brag about. He, also, has a new elections to win.

        So, Erdogan decided to gamble. And he decided to place his high risk/high return stakes on several “lots”. First – he decided to form an “Axis” with Quatar and Saudi Arabia. Never before have these three countries have enyojed such close relationship. Well, in reality, it means Turkey gets Gulf states money and does their bidding. Second – he decided to “safeguard” his country from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/These mad bastards by… collaborating with them. Very, very profitably for himself and his country. It really a Pulchinella’s secret by now, that Turkey serves as a “reliable” corridor for a prospecting Islamist recruits going one way, and for ridiculously cheap oil going another way.

        And as for refugees, well, Turkey have accepted 2 mlns of them. While accepting them was all good and kosher, and earned Erdogan some bonus points from the West and NATO it was good. But now he has a new election cycle and soon. So, he and his sponsors from the Gulf states decided that it will serve a cheap PR for him and his party by “dealing with” all refugees currently on Turkish soil by “allowing” them to go away to some greener pastures. Erdogan looks like a hero, who’ve lessened the burden of his taxpayers.

        Another Erdoghan’s gambit currently in play – “A Short and Victorious War” ™ against Kurds – not on his territory.

        • Fern says:

          Lyttenburgh, I think we’re in agreement that the flow or, more accurately, flood/deluge of refugees is not a spontaneous outpouring of people from Syria itself but rather the result of Erdogan’s policies and actions. What you have outlined is a conspiracy. Where we differ, I think, is that I don’t see this as a simple conspiracy. Turkey is not a failed state, it could control its borders but the EU, as far as I can gather, has not even asked it do so which suggests, at least to me, some degree of collusion between Turkey and the EU. Turkey has run “R and R’ camps for anti-Assad fighters and their families for years – it’s going to be inevitable that some jihadists are included amongst the hundreds of thousands of people pouring into Europe. European governments can scarcely be unaware of this – so, you know, who benefits?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Well, given the fact that the closest EU member ofr Turkey is Greece – is it such wonder that “refugees” of all stripes are given a pat on the back and general directions to the Merkel Reich? 🙂

          • Jen says:

            It’s likely that with the flood of “Syrian refugees” going into Europe, several birds are being killed with the one stone. Germany gets a load of factory slaves to stave off demographic collapse and a social welfare crisis while also undermining workers’ wages and working conditions with scab labour. Turkey offloads people it doesn’t want and enables ISIS operatives to penetrate Europe, to create future false flag attacks that terrify people into supporting a US-led invasion of Syria. Syria itself faces a future demographic crisis because it lacks young people to help with reconstruction and large areas in the country become ripe for takeover by Turkey or Israel.

      • marknesop says:

        This is probably a pretty accurate guess – however, if that’s the pitch, then the public has gotten the wrong message. Instead of “more bombing is the answer”, the public seems to be glomming on to the narrative that “NATO bombing and destabilization in the Middle East has inspired this refugee crisis”. That being the case, more bombing would likely lead to…more refugees.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          But the West is trying today a new spin! See, Mark – it’s all Assad’s fault! And who supported Assad all those years? Russia, of course! So – they are also to blame for everything – for the clusterfuck in the aftermath of “Arab spring” and for migrant crisis as well.

          Ugh, клятi москали!

  18. Ukrainian security service kidnaps Russian soldiers from Russia to Ukraine. Members of Ukrainian security service crossed the border and abducted Russian soldiers to Ukraine where they are held in captivity:

    What gesture of goodwill is Russia going to do for this? Maybe another discount to gas price? Free coal? Releasing that Ukrainian pilot?

    • And how is it even possible for this to happen? How can Ukrainian agents cross the Russian border, kidnap Russian soldiers and return back to Ukraine without any intervention? Yes, Moscow Exile is going to try make another “sarcastic” remark of Russia being “weak”, but let’s face it: this is weak. Very weak.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        May I suggest that Russia build a wall along the full length of the Russian-Ukrainian frontier and have a Russian soldier posted every 10 metres along its 2,295.04 kilometre length?

        Russia will not and cannot do that, of course, because of the inherent weakness of the former Soviet Union.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          From the Wiki article on the Russo-Ukrainian frontier:

          Since the spring of 2014 the border has been compromised due to the 2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

          Because of Russian military intervention in the Ukraine!

          It says so in Wiki, so it must be true!

        • Jen says:

          I thought the Yukies were supposed to be building the wall already and planning to post their own soldiers every few metres along the wall.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Ah well, they were doing that, but they’ve got no money, so the Russians are going to do it it for them, which is typical of them, isn’t it?


            Oh yes, and I’m surprised this latest tid-bit of “news” that throws Russian interests in a bad light hasn’t cropped up on here yet from the usual source of such doom and gloom missives:

            On Friday, the Donetsk News Agency published incomplete results to polling appearing show that less than a third of the population of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic actually supported the republic.

            See: Ukrainian Media in a Frenzy Over Botched Donetsk Poll Results

      • Patient Observer says:

        Finish smart! Per the internet:
        Finnglish menu items (These have all been printed, truly. Restaurant names withheld)
        Shrimp and crap salad for two
        Grilled pork shop
        You can have crap on your pizza
        Tepid chicken salad with bread
        We give you water only when you ask
        Dead snails from Åland in garlic and butter sauce
        The cock is recommending today’s beef
        We can serve your steak with much blood, some blood, or well-done
        The house’s tart is called Torttu in Finnish and is warm
        Ice cream with warm bear halves and toffee sauce

        Is it genetic? Deficiency in a critical nutrient? What are many Finns so flaming stupid?

        • cartman says:

          Which half of the bear comes with the ice cream?

        • marknesop says:

          Come on, be fair. Lots of languages make hilarious slips in English. The title of “The Crying Game” in China was “Help! My Girlfriend Has a Penis!”. Sorry if I spoiled the surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen it – it actually was a great movie – but that kind of gave it away. In Japan, an ad for the Florence Restaurant promised a “Midsummer Meat Rhapsody”. This brilliant Japanese hair pomade is branded “Cock Grease”, and must be deliberate because it advertises itself as “extra hard” and promises you will “keep it up all day”. When translated into Chinese, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s venerable slogan “It’s Finger-Lickin’ Good” came out as “Eat Your Fingers Off”, and a Hong Kong Tailor Shop advertised, “Ladies may have a fit upstairs”. A sign in a Paris elevator offered “Please leave your values at the front desk”, although that may have been intentional.

          Here’s a partial reprise of an interview conducted by the Hungarian magazine “BLIKK” with Madonna, then translated back into English for USA Today;

          BLIKK: Madonna, Budapest says hello with arms that are spread-eagled. Did you have a visit here that was agreeable? Are you in good odor? You are the biggest fan of our young people who hear your musical productions and like to move their bodies in response.
          MADONNA: Thank you for saying these compliments {holds up hands}. Please stop with taking sensationalist photographs until I have removed my garmets for all to see. This is a joke I have made.
          BLIKK: Madonna, let’s cut toward the hunt: are you a bold hussy-woman that feasts on men who are tops?
          MADONNA: Yes, yes, this is certainly something that brings to the surface my longings. In American it is not considreed to be mentally ill when a woman advances on her prey in a discotheque setting with hardy cocktails present. And there is a more normal attitude toward leather play-toys that also makes my day.
          BLIKK: Is this how you met Carlos, your love-servant who is reputed? Did you know he was heaven-sent right off the stick? Or were you dating many other people in your bed at the same time?
          MADONNA: No, he was the only one I was dating in my bed then, so it is a scientific fact that the baby was made in my womb using him. But as regards those questions, enough! I am a woman and not a test-mouse! Carlos is an everyday person who is in the orbit of a star who is being muscled-trained by him, not a sex machine.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Eh… my boat is full of eels?

          • Patient Observer says:

            My post was as fair and not one bit more stupid that Karl’s comments (which admittedly, is not saying much). Karl’s monomania on stupid/weak/cowardly/ Russians is tiresome and suggests a racially based hatred.

            Regarding wacky translations, I’ve wonder about how much is lost in machine translations. Since I only speak English, the only way I can evaluate a Google translation is to have a translation from English to another language and then again using Google, translate back to English. Doing so with the first paragraph above translating to Russian and back to English yielded:

            “My post was just not one bit more stupid comments that Karl (which admittedly is not saying much ) . Monomania Charles stupid / weak / cowardly / Russian tedious and involves racial hatred on the basis of .”

            Actually, it is less garbled than I was expecting although “Charles” was an oddity.

            Anyway, those butchered translations were hilarious.

        • Terje says:

          In Finnish there is not much difference in pronounciation between ‘p’ and ‘b’, hence the confusion between ‘crap’ and ‘crab’.
          For a Finn they would sound the same.
          The same as ‘r’ and ‘l’ in Japan, for examples see endless amounts of Hollywood stereotypes)

      • marknesop says:

        It’s a good thing you are not Defense Minister of the Russian Federation – you would go to war at the drop of a hat. This is just Ukraine being an asshole, which it has apparently decided to adopt as its default persona. I suppose they will label it as payback for Russia “kidnapping” an Estonian, which allegedly occured under the same he-said-they-said circumstances, but at bottom it is likely just a ploy to keep Ukraine in the headlines so Americans don’t go “Where???” when you say it, and so political figures can carry on the tedious effort to “arm Ukraine”, which is an excuse to feed the oligarchs more money.

        There are ever so many ways for Russia to express its displeasure, all of which will be effective; the EU is not going to rush to Ukraine’s rescue with juicy contracts and investment, and it is not necessary for Russia to launch a full armored assault into Ukraine in punishment. How many times do I have to tell you that that is exactly what they want, is precisely what they are trying to achieve? If Russia is weak by “allowing this”, is Ukraine by extension “strong” for having carried out such a bold and admiration-worthy move?

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “What gesture of goodwill is Russia going to do for this? Maybe another discount to gas price? Free coal? Releasing that Ukrainian pilot?”

      And when Russia won’t do anything from that list – will such infamous putinslivshik like you shut up?

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    The so-called “Ukrainian national costume” is a Turkish national costume

    The Turks of the Ottoman Empire did not have a clear ethnic identification: any subject of the Sultan who converted to Islam … changed his name to a Turkish one and dressed as a Turk…

    … the Supreme authority of the Ottoman Empire actually had very little Turkish in it: the viziers and pashas were often “Turkified” Armenians, Slavs, Greeks, Albanians, etc. (even Western Europeans). Sultans were mostly of mixed parentage, children of the different subject peoples and concubines.

    The backbone of the Ottoman troops and the most formidable of Turkish forces were the Janissaries, who were slave-soldiers, born of foreign women from (mostly Christian) families, who had in childhood been taken from their parents and through “brainwashing” made into fanatical soldiers of the Sultan…

    “Pravy Sektor”, of course, is not a formidable military force, but it claims to be the backbone of the “new army” and its leader, Yarosh, is keen to stress that a considerable portion of it is recruited from the Eastern regions of the former Ukraine and speaks Russian. “Brainwashing” there is, of course, and the fact that they are not children is of no importance: Ukrainian patriots retain a childish innocence until retirement age – if they live that long enough.

    Troops of the Ottoman Empire were characterized by their extreme cruelty against the civilian population (both in other countries and in the rebellious provinces of that patchwork Empire), and retaliatory violence was meant to be witnessed as being extremely painful. … On the other hand, the fighting qualities of the Turkish army were not so high. The Russians in particular gave the Turks a hard time of it.

    Yuriy Georgiyevich Kutsenko, better known as Gosha Kutsenko, an ethnic Ukrainian playing a suave Turkish Colonel Ismail-Bey (“Turkish gambit”, 2005)

    Ironically, Gushenko lives and works in Russia and is a member of the United Russia Party.

    (By the way, that party name is, in my opinion, wrongly translated into English: it is not “United Russia” but “One Russia”.)

    The Turk that the Ukrainian Gushenko plays is fictitious.

    Below is reality:

    • Jen says:

      Ottoman sultans from Selim II aka Selim the Sot (because he was always drinking) onwards were all descended from a woman captured by Crimean Tatars in what is now western Ukraine, who shipped her off to Istanbul where she met and became the concubine (and later the wife) of Suleyman the Magnificent. One story has it that the woman Roxelana aka Hurrem Sultana was the daughter of a Polish or Ukrainian Orthodox priest.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Well, Ukrainians insist that she was pure blooded ethnic Ukrainian. They also claim knyaginya Olga and Anna Yaloslavna as their own “true Ukranian women”. That’s true! Absolutely accuRAT! There are even postal stamps with them:

        As for Roxolana, well, I won’t surprise me that Ukrainian svidomije historians will start claiming one day, that she taught Jannisaries how to chant “Moscals – to the knife!” while jumping up on one place, or tortured eunuchs by force feeding them with salo.

        • Cortes says:

          Were most Pashas not a bit loony after spending years in the Golden Cages?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            The pashas didn’t hang around the golden cage, but the eunuchs did. I think they all must have been a bit loony.

            To the tune of “Tidings of Comfort and Joy”:

            ‘Twas Christmas Eve in the harem,
            There were eunuchs all around,
            And lots of lovely women
            A-lying on the ground,
            When in came the harem master into those marble halls”
            “What do you want for Christmas, lads?”
            The eunuchs answered:
            “We want tidings of comfort and joy!
            Comfort and joy!
            We want tidings of comfort and joy!”

            • Cortes says:

              A golden oldie 😀

            • Jen says:

              Err, the harem master usually was a eunuch himself. The sultan didn’t actually have that much to do with the harem and the concubines chosen to sleep with him were usually selected by his mother who was on occasion (especially during the 17th century) the de facto ruler of the Ottoman empire.

              Also one thing about the eunuchs in charge of the harem was that they were always black slaves from Africa (usually Sudan and nearby areas). I don’t know why this was so but it may have been something of a tradition that started with the first harem master and the original reason was forgotten.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Of course the harem master was a eunuch, but the one in the song was content with his lot, whereas his underlings that responded to his enquiry clearly were not.

                • Jen says:

                  Yes the harem master was content with his lot but then that’s his job as harem master: guarding a lot of women.

                  Functions of the Harem Master (Kizlar Agha)

                  ” … The Kizlar Agha was the third highest-ranking officer of the empire, after the Sultan and the Grand Vizier (Chief Minister). He was the commander of the baltaci corps (or halberdiers – part of the imperial army). His position was a pasha (general) of three tails (tails referring to peacock tails, and the most number of tails permitted being four and worn by the Sultan). He could approach the Sultan at any time, and functioned as the private messenger between the Sultan and the Grand Vizier. He was the most important link between the Sultan and the Valide Sultan (mother of the Sultan).

                  The Kizlar Agha led the new odalisque to the Sultan’s bedchamber, and was the only “man” who could enter the harem should there have been any nocturnal emergencies. His duties were to protect the women, to provide and purchase the necessary odalisques for the harem, to oversee the promotion of the women (usually after the death of a higher-ranking kadin) and eunuchs. He acted as a witness for the Sultan’s marriage, birth ceremonies, and arranged all the royal ceremonial events, such as circumcision parties, weddings, and fêtes. He also delivered sentence to harem women accused of crimes, taking the guilty women to the executioner to be placed into sacks and drowned in the Bosphorus which lay outside the Topkapi Palace …”

                • marknesop says:

                  Mmm…circumcision parties. Any excuse for a party. They really knew how to have a good time.

            • marknesop says:

              That’s pretty funny.

  20. Lyttenburgh says:

    And for those of you who don’t know – right now, this very moment, the entire Free World is watching holding its breath the process of elections in Kostroma, Russia.

    Here, in the small city graced by a visit not only by the Great Navalny himself – but also by his admirers from the US embassy in Moscow – the Fate of Russia is at stake! RPR-Parnas has all chances to win here, unless despicable Kremlin’s spindoctors will resort to their administrative resources, carousel voting, ballot-stuffing and votes-buying.

    RPR-Parnas is on people’s side! They’ve promised to unblock pornhub!

    ТакЪ победимЪ!

  21. Pingback: Å lage våpen av uvitenhet : Vestens utvalgte eksperter | Midt i Fleisen

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks for that! A phrase caught my eye right away – husker du. I guess (from knowing the original phrase you were translating) it means, “Do you remember?” It triggered a memory, because there was once a rock band called Husker Du, only they sprinkled it with Umlauts, the way people thought it was cool back then.

      Here they are doing “New Day Rising“. Jen might like them, she likes that thrash metal scene, although I might be miscategorizing them (that’s what it sounds like to me, but I’m not a purist like Jen). Wiki characterizes their style as Alternative Rock and Hardcore Punk.

  22. Warren says:

    Published on 10 Mar 2015
    2014.gada 3.decembrī Latvijas Nacionālajā aizsardzības akadēmijā norisinājās otrā Drošības un stratēģiskās pētniecības centra starptautiskā akadēmiskā konference “Krievija un ģeopolitikas atgriešanās: Stratēģiskie izaicinājumi Rietumiem”, kurā diskutēja par aktuālajiem drošības jautājumiem. Konferenci atklāja profesors Marks Galeoti no Ņujorkas Universitātes, kurš ir autors vairākām zinātniskām publikācijām par Krievijas stratēģiju.

    Dec.3, 2014 the 2nd International Academic Conference “Russia and the Return of Geopolitics: Strategic Implications for the West” of the National Defence Academy of Latvia’s Center for Security and Strategic Research took place in the National Defence Academy, where experts discussed international security issues. Conference was opened by professor Mark Galeotti from the New York University, who is is an author of numerous – scientific publications on the Russian strategy.

    Vairāk informācijas / More information:

    • Patient Observer says:

      What is a “scientific publications on the Russian strategy”? Something like Putin=evil, Russian=scary; Putin + Russian = Mordor.

      • Jen says:

        The phrase “scientific publications on the Russian strategy” sound a lot like the Dutch Safety Board’s forensic investigation of the MH17 disaster – only collect the evidence that supports an already existing narrative and ignore any other evidence until RT discovers it and films it.

      • Warren says:

      • Warren says:

        Make sure your publication is well referenced, preferably with plenty of footnotes from the likes of The Economist, Telegraph, Guardian, Henry Jackson Society, Freedom House, Peterson Institute, Atlantic Council and CEPA.

  23. SmoothieX12 says:

    Excellent piece. The situation with military-political analysis re: Russia in the West is dire. Basically all “Soviet/Russian” studies complex in the US was solzhenitzified to the point of Russian history being unrecognizable. As per Falgenhauer–it is not that no one of position of power in Russian military and intelligence would talk to him (which they would not), it is the fact that even if they would it would do no good for a guy with degree in biology. I never heard of any military officer (and I knew and know many) who went on to become brain surgeons, nor did I encounter brain surgeons who were specialists in Net Centric Warfare or Theory Of Operations (not the brain ones). Information and knowledge are too very different things, most people do not recognize this critical difference.

  24. marknesop says:

    Germany temporarily exits Shengen Area, reestablishes border controls and bars entry to those who do not hold a German passport, owing to the flood of refugees.

    • cartman says:

      What’s the point of the EU, then?

      I am surprised (not) at the Baltic states’ generosity on this issue, when they are in the midst of a severe people shortage. It’s like they can’t appreciate the population they already have, but they have a second chance with these refugees.

      • marknesop says:

        I imagine a lot of EU people are asking themselves that, if their de facto leader – Germany – can just take itself out of the equation when it has had enough. At the same time, I imagine many of the Germans are happy to see this first tiny sign of resistance to ruinous EU policies directed from afar (just an expression, really, nothing is actually “afar” in Europe).

        The Grauniad, or someone very like it, perhaps it was the Beeb, said nobody wants them just because they are Muslims. That’s probably part of it, because everyone saw what a large Muslim immigrant population did to France. However, much of France’s Muslim immigrant population came from Tunisia, where use of French is common, so they at least could communicate and understand. Many East-European countries are looking at the problems associated with hosting a large population that is predominantly of a different religion and customs, which plans to enter their country with mostly nothing but the clothes on their backs and whatever they are carrying, who do not speak any language common to their country and are going to expect everything to be done for them. How long before they can speak a national language well enough that they are useful to the workforce?

    • Jen says:

      One has to wonder what the real motivation behind Germany’s offer to admit so many “Syrian refugees” and whether Marine le Pen was in fact right when she said Germany needs more so-called disposable gastarbeiter factory slaves, because the country might be facing demographic collapse and a social welfare crisis as a result. As if Germany did sterling work (not) in integrating Turkish workers and their families nearly a half-century ago into its society.

  25. et Al says:

    Financial Crimes: Russia’s Anatoly Motylyov: Rise, fall, repeat

    Anatoly Motylyov was the perfect image of an erudite Russian banker: born into the Soviet elite, he mingled easily with the Kremlin-connected elite and the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The 49-year-old banker stayed largely out of the public eye — no yachts, no villas, no lavish parties — and cut an unassuming figure, sporting the glasses and clipped moustache of a 1980s accountant. His focus appeared to be on his billion-dollar banking business, which spanned four Russian commercial banks and seven private pension funds.

    Now, following the dramatic collapse of his empire, a different Mr Motylyov is emerging. The man considered to be a low-profile introvert is accused of running one of Russia’s largest ‘vacuum cleaning’ financial operations — sucking in deposits by offering double-digit interest rates and using the money to finance his personal business ventures.

    The tale of Mr Motylyov’s rise and fall is also raising broader questions about the stability of the Russian banking sector, which has been battered by the precipitous decline in the oil price, a volatile rouble and western sanctions….

    Have any of you lot heard of him before???

    • marknesop says:

      Never. But since, I imagine, the purpose of the article is to highlight “broader questions about the stability of the Russian banking sector, which has been battered by the precipitous decline in the oil price, a volatile rouble and western sanctions”, his name is probably not that important. It might also serve to take western attention, and perhaps discomfort, off of the Ukrainian oligarchs.

  26. et Al says:

    There are reports that the ‘tarmac is being expanded at Latakia airbase’ for heavy transporters, but as any fule kno, you don’t make new runways by just putting down tarmac, most runways are constructed with large square or rectangular slabs of concrete.

    It certainly makes sense that the base is being upgraded, but not with tarmac. Il-76’s can perfectly well land on unprepared and semi-prepared (i.e. just rough with the big stones pulled out and also rollered) land. The good news is that the West seems to be totally at a loss of what to do about it. so far, just words and the verbal threat.

    Seeing Obama telling the Russian that their strategy is ‘doomed to failure’ is beyond hilarious and ‘could stop us from arriving at a political settlement….’

    What a (limp) dick with four years of failure on Syria behind him.

    If Russia pulls this off, he will go supernova.

    • marknesop says:

      What he means is, Russia’s strategy could stop the U.S. from arriving at the political settlement it desires, which is Assad dead or violently removed, and the country turned over to feuding warlords and their gangs. Obama has predicted that various things Russia has done over the last decade are doomed to failure, it seems to be a pretty popular selection from his phrasebook, but they have generally turned out all right. This will, too, if they hurry up and do not give ISIS/ISIL the time it needs to gain more territory.

  27. et Al says:

    Dodgy Weller: Nuclear deal opens Iran for global business – and shuts out the US

    … US embargo remains

    “US companies will remain off limits during the duration of this deal,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former senior sanctions adviser in the Obama administration’s Treasury Department. “The US embargo that prevents US people and companies from doing business in Iran remains basically in place.”

    The reason why American firms will be essentially locked out from doing business with Iran with some exceptions like sales of commercial passenger airplanes is that the US sanctions regime vis-à-vis Tehran is far broader and dates back much further than that of Europe….

    … European and Asian firms to profit

    “However, the direct sanctions will stay in place for the US companies,” said Wall, now the senior international trade partner at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. “And that means that US companies will not be able to engage in business with Iran because they would be violating US regulations.”

    “It will be European and Asian companies and others that will have the ability to expand trade and investment with Iran,” noted Rosenberg who now heads the Energy, Economics and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security….


    • marknesop says:

      Double-Secret Sanctions! I love it. And as soon as we drop the sanctions, we’ll start a round of new ones – so there! Americans must just be shaking their heads slowly, in amazement; what the hell has happened to their leaders? Just in time to start thinking about electing another one, and the choice is crazy, crazy, or extra-crazy with nuts. Perfect.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Its all true, the US sanctions remain with hardly any changes. US companies are prohibited from selling any product or service unless it is for “humanitarian” reasons which are very tightly defined. These sanctions were imposed prior to any nuclear-related ones; something to do with terrorism.

        However, as noted above, US aircraft manufacturers are free to sell aircraft, parts and service. Lobbyists in action I suppose.

        • marknesop says:

          Iran would be mad to buy its civil aviation fleet from the USA.

          • Patient Observer says:

            Purchase of major quantities of civil aircraft demand a very long term relationship for parts, service, upgrades, training, etc. The US would do anything and I mean ANYTHING (wink wink) to get Iran to make such purchases.

            Fortunately, Russia has the Superjet and other modern aircraft to offer Iran. Given a fair market and corruption-free decisions, Russia should do very well with their more modern and efficient offerings. When factoring in political and military aspects, the Western suppliers would be better off by staying home.

  28. et Al says:

    Iceland Review Online (via U.S. Military to Reopen Base in Iceland?

    The U.S. government has expressed its opinion to Icelandic authorities that considering increased Russian aggression there may be reason to reopen the U.S. Navy base in Iceland; the U.S. Armed Forces operated the Naval Air Station in Keflavík as a NATO base from 1951 to 2006. Its location was considered to be of great importance during the Cold War.

    “The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland,” Work said, “but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights.” As a result, “Iceland is interested in increasing military cooperation,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said in an interview on DefenseNews….

    …Before the meeting, Work came to Iceland to talk with Icelandic officials; the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed to RÚV that reopening the base in Keflavík had come up. …

    …“It’s clear the northern tier is very concerned with what the Russians are up to,” Work said, concluding, “They’re anxious to have cooperative talks.”

    Icelandic authorities have stressed that the idea to reopen the base did not come from them and that no discussions to that regard are taking place between the two governments…

    Times have changed. Not only does Iceland support wikileaks and will not hand over internet data to the US, it has also told the EU they’re not interested in joining.

  29. Phil K says:

    Ziad Fadel, who blogs at Syrian Perspective, claims that Russian speznaz are already in action on the ground in Syria.

    We can confirm the following facts on the ground: Russian ships are docking at both ports of Tartous and Latakia. Russia is expanding an airbase to the east of Latakia on flat ground. This airbase is protected by a huge constellation of air defense installations which include the S-300 and Pantsir systems. The runways being extended by the Russian and Syrian engineers appear designed to handle larger supply aircraft like the Antonov 124. In addition to this, a reported regiment of Speznaz troops are presently in the town of Slinfeh, (my wife’s home town where we have no paucity of sources) along with military analysts. One relative told me everyone is learning some Russian and that, since their arrival, tourism has increased due to the stability and security attendant to the Russian’s arrival.

    The presence of Speznaz anti-insurgency forces from Russia disclosed a sad reality which occurred a few days ago. I was told by a source, ‘Ali’, that a highly trained sniper near the town of Al-Rubay’ah had held down Syrian troops for 4 weeks preventing them from advancing. The Speznaz commander learned of this problem and dispatched commandos trained to liquidate snipers like him. The Russians killed the sniper within two hours causing some consternation among Syrian field commanders. As it turned out, a renegade officer in the SAA, was discovered and arrested. He was deliberately preventing our troops from assaulting the sniper’s position. His communications with Alqaeda in Hatay, in Turk-Occupied Syria, revealed the whole story. He will be executed for treason.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, as I mentioned before, Fadel is very emotional and obviously is very pro-government. Nothing wrong with that, certainly, since Assad is much more popular than the western press would have you believe, and it should be clear to everyone that Syria is having regime change forced upon it by the countries in whose interests that would be, not because the “Syrian rebels” (most of whom are not Syrians) have any credibility or because a majority of the population wants it. But Fadel might be writing what he wishes would happen rather than what is happening. You would think if Spetsnaz really were on the ground in Slinfeh, they would have already nailed down all the local journalists and asked them to keep quiet. Russia has officially denied that they are doing any kind of significant deployment, although they have also not ruled it out in future and clearly warning the west that they will do as they please, follow their own interests and that the west does not own Syria. But they must know that if a regiment of Spetsnaz were revealed to be quartered in the town, the western media would exploit it as a lie by the Kremlin and a betrayal, since it is in their interests that a western intervention look noble while a Russian intervention is evil.

      Spetsnaz are not actually organized in regiments; the largest formation is a Brigade, which might be anywhere from 900 to 2000 soldiers. I think we are agreed that’s too many; if there, it would be a smaller unit. The next-smaller unit is a battalion, and these are smaller than western battalions, numbering around 200. That’s a possibility, but I would bet if there is a Spetsnaz presence, it is smaller than that.

      It is also possible Fadel is just using the name of Spetsnaz to terrify the rebels, and announcing what he wishes would happen in the hope it will come true. I’d feel better about it if he presented any evidence, although he does have the advantage of being there. I just can’t why Russia would deny it, knowing how the west would crow when it found out the truth, when it has every right to be there.

  30. Fern says:

    Well, it was inevitable, I guess. Everyone’s favourite Polish mover and shaker, Radolsaw Sikorski has joined Porshenko’s Advisory Council for Reforms. To judge by previous appointees, qualifications appear to include – being a disgraced politico in your own country; being a fugitive and, most important of all, the ability to bleed Russophobia.

    “I intend to visit Ukraine regularly, because I support the country’s reform,” Sikorski noted, adding that he is “delighted that Ukraine will be looking to learn from the Polish experience.”
    Apparently, that experience includes borderline hysterical anti-Russian rhetoric backed by neoconservative ideology. Sikorski is married to Anne Applebaum, an American-Polish journalist known for her hawkish, stridently anti-Russian attitudes, who said at the height of the Ukrainian crisis in March, 2014 that the US and its allies should not allow for the continued “existence of a corrupt Russian regime that is destabilizing Europe,” later adding that Europe should prepare for “total war” with Russia…….

    ….Sikorski does not appear to have lost any of his exaggerated anti-Russian zealotry. A few days ago, the politician spoke at the 12th annual Yalta European Strategy forum, organized by Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk and aimed at promoting Ukraine’s membership in the European Union via high-level talks between Ukrainian and European officials. 
    The politician’s appearance at the forum made headlines in both Poland and Ukraine, after he suggested that NATO should stockpile weapons on Poland’s border with Ukraine, in case of Russian aggression. “Anti-tank weapons can be deployed somewhere close to Ukraine, in Poland or Romania. If the pro-Russian or Russian forces move deeper into the territory of Ukraine, these weapons will be supplied to Ukraine in a very fast manner, within an hour.” The politician warned that “President Putin should understand this.”

    Does an ex-Polish foreign minister come cheap, I wonder? Your tax dollars at work.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Azokhenvei!. Sikorskiy of all the people?

    • Jen says:

      I remember predicting something like this, that the Sikorskis would wash up in Ukraine. I must remember to polish that crystal ball in my head.

      Maybe Anne Applebaum will be offered a consulting position with the Ministry of Information Policy.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, I think I remember you saying something about that, when we were wondering whether they would get to keep Tara, or whatever their ungodly great mansion in Poland was called.

    • marknesop says:

      Jeeze. I guess you’re right, we should all have seen that coming, since he has been denied an opportunity to do any “Look at me!!!” performances in any legitimate fora. Maybe Porky will make him Governor of Lviv.

    • marknesop says:

      They’d be wise not to let Berlusconi out of their sight in there – there’d be a bunga-bunga party going on in the corner before you could say “Lamborghini”. He and Putin still seem to be genuinely chummy, what? Putin must not be too worried about the state of world affairs if he’s goofing off on wine tours instead of staying up late in his wife-beater T-Shirt in the Situation Room, smoking too many cigarettes and growing a ten-o’clock shadow. He looks quite relaxed and unruffled. Obama, by way of contrast, looks decidedly twitchy. Mind you, he’s entering an election cycle, and even though he can’t run, he can still do tremendous damage to the Democrats.

      • Warren says:

        Kiev has now filed charges on head of the Crimean winery Yanina Pavlenko.

        • marknesop says:

          I see Putin is, as usual, front and centre in the slagging-off: “Putin and Berlusconi in Crimea wine row”. What part, exactly, was played by Putin in this? He was along on the tour. Berlusconi asked for a sample, and the Director said yes. Putin had no part in the request, its approval or selection of the bottle.

          Kiev seems astonishingly well-informed about the placement of every bottle of valuable wine in the facility. Pity they could not show the same dedication with supplying electricity and water to the place. And considering they have staff to spare for investigation and drawing up charges, it’s surprising they have still not completed an investigation into the Maidan snipers.

          The bottle of wine was, sadly, a “treasure of the Ukrainian people”. The lives of thousands of its civilian inhabitants, though, are a mere nothing – plenty more where they came from. Tell you what, boys – let’s call it a separatist bottle of wine. Not fit for drinking by people who know how to jump up and down. Then there will be no hurt feelings.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Massandra is a major tourist attraction in the Crimea and open to the public. When I was first holidaying in the Crimea 11 years ago, I was about to sign on to a boozy tour which consisted of visiting many sites of historical interest, these visits being interspersed with degustations at various vineyards, the pièce de résistance being a visit to the Massandra Palace. However, Mrs. Exile got wind of my wizzard wheeze and put the blocks on it.

            That was when we only had two very young children and 4 years before I took the pledge. I wasn’t all that bothered, in any case, for that Crimean wine was far too sweet for my taste. Mrs. Exile likes it though, so I suppose that’s why she got a mard lip on when she found out I was planning to visit Massandra.

    • Jen says:

      Ah,so that’s where Putin keeps his riches … he puts all his money into all those wine bottles stacked from the floor to the ceiling on each level in Massandra Palace.

      That’s the real reason Russia annexed Crimea … it was to save Lord Mordor’s most precious treasure.

      Those CIA snoops tasked with hunting down Putin’s vast fortune must be kicking themselves that they didn’t chase up leads pointing to Crimea while it was still part of Ukraine.

  31. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      I feel so much better learning that the guy in the first photo is a former Commander in the Free Syrian Army, and not ISIS at all. Considering, you know, that both are western creations.

  32. Oddlots says:

    Steady on Dave, you’ve got to keep it up for your entire term. Pace yourself for god’s sake.

  33. Special_sauce says: Awesome unscripted rant. German with subs. via Syrper link above.

    • Special_sauce says:

      what gives? I left off the https:// but the whatzit that makes this page put them back in.

    • marknesop says:

      That is awesome. He doesn’t look like a guy you would want to be on the wrong side of, either. I hope he did go to the event he describes, and be heard. It’s time people started saying it out loud. So long as Washington thinks you are still lulled into a stupor, they will keep trying the same thing. Mind you, if the people speak out, they will just try something new, because it would never occur to Washington to try and get along. That’s just not crafty.

  34. davidt says:

    Alastair Crooke has recently posted 4 articles on the geopolitics of the middle east that are each worth reading. (They hint at a possible re rapprochement between the US and Russia.)

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I can’t find Crooke’s articles.

    • marknesop says:

      I imagine that is what the USA would like to see now. Bad little Sammy, he always has a tantrum and makes a lot of noise and mess, but he’s so lovable that everyone always forgives him. Fuck that, say I. I hope Russia makes it clear that the USA is a lifelong enemy. No harm in being polite, maybe doing a little business so long as it is on terms favourable to Russia. But friends? Never.

  35. et Al says:

    Business Standard, IANS: Are events in Syria following a US, Russia plan? (Comment: Special to IANS)

    One day quite soon Syrians fleeing their country will find their feet in the European countries who have opened their doors to them. When they have settled in their ghettoes or new tenements, they will, over time, seek out other Arabic speaking people in the host cities, visit them, share the Shisha, the Arab hubble-bubble. Stories of their plight at home will trickle down to local newspapers….

    …After the May 12 understanding, the US and Russia were expected to persuade states under their influence to take steps towards a solution within the framework of this understanding. Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article in Beirut newspaper hinting at a readiness to reach out to Saudi Arabia. The delay in Riyadh’s response was to obtain guarantees from Washington….


    More at the link.

    Even if Washington actually finds Russia moves quite useful in helping (the US) extricate itself from its failed policy in Syria, there is no way the US or its allies would admit as such, just braying even louder than usual. I suspect that there is a growing level of realism penetrating these institutions but it is well below the surface. When it is all about ‘saving face’, then that is certain proof of how far the mighty have fallen. As they say, pride comes before a fall.

  36. et Al says:

    Neuters: Germany’s Merkel sees need to cooperate with Russia on Syria

    Germany and other western European powers need to work with Russia as well as the United States to solve the crisis in Syria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday.

    Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with his Russian, French and Ukrainian counterparts in Berlin on Saturday evening and said afterwards he saw growing support for creating an international contact group to solve the Syrian conflict….

    …In an interview with regional German newspapers, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned Russia against going it alone in Syria, saying: “I hope that Russia is not depending on the Syrian civil war continuing.”

    Separately in a guest article for the New York Times, Steinmeier said the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six world powers had created an opportunity to tackle Syria’s troubles, but he was concerned that the chance to make progress was fading.

    “It would be folly to continue betting on a military solution,” he said. “Now is the time to find a way to bring the parties to the negotiating table. This must include preparatory talks with and among crucial regional actors like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but also Iran.”…

    Exactly what does Germany think it is going to do? Join a Syria group with Russia in it and then ‘out vote’ Russia on decisions with other western European states? The mind boggles.

    I guess Germany just wants to be seen as relevant, but what ‘they want’ will have no influence on Russia, and they must know that. It is interesting that the bs meme of ‘Russia blocking a solution on Syria’ and that somehow Russia is ‘insisting on a military solution where there is only a political one’ is picking up pace. You would think from these words that the civil war only just broke only a few short months ago, not four and a half years ago. It’s fair to say that Putin has caught the West yet again on the hop. If all the West can offer are sound bites, they they are fooling exactly no-one, even the converted. They’ve simply run out of time.

    • marknesop says:

      Everyone in Europe and the USA is forever “warning” Russia. I would do 100 hours of community service in Brixton and pay my own way there and back just to hear Lavrov say “Or what, Frank? what will you do, you great dummkopfwurst?” If Russia is committed to preventing regime change in Syria, it should just get on with it, and not allow itself to be distracted by EU clacking and squalling. Russia’s excuse has been written for it – the west has been “battling” ISIS since its inception a year or so ago, and is visibly losing ground. They obviously need help. The only conceivable reason the west would refuse such help is that it is in reality pursuing regime change – which we know to be true – under the guise of helping Assad defeat an enemy which was created by the west to give them grounds for an intervention.

      The west gets endless do-overs because every time its attack falters and its plans go sideways, it announces that it is “time to bring the parties to the negotiating table”. The west never negotiates when it is winning; never. But it’s just like a bomb threat – you always have to treat it as real, no matter how many times you hear it. So those opposing the west in its aims will go to the negotiating table, only to learn that the only solution acceptable to the west is the attainment of the goal it was pursuing by military means: if you let us have it, we’ll stop the fighting. Meanwhile the west will use the delay to buck up, re-equip and re-arm its surrogates, and then announce that “talks have broken down”, and it’ll be hammer-and-tongs time again.

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    Interesting photographic study:

    The telephoto lens has brought up Moscow “City” close to St. Basil’s so as to give a stak contrast in architectural styles.

    I was reminded of that stupid kreakl blog I posted a while back that contrasted Russia with Bahrein, showing “before” and “after” shots of both places and Russia was, of course, portrayed as just as decrepit “after” as it was “before”, whereas Bahrein is now a super-dooper modern fun place..

  38. Moscow Exile says:

    And this is my car this morning in Kostroma. How stylish!

    What a terrible thing to do to the US agent’s car!

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    In front of the US Embassy, Moscow, today.

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    That old quirk is back!

    The newest postings are jumping up from the bottom of the page, where I am now writing, to further up the page when I post.

  41. Terje says:

    John Helmer on Mh17
    with such gems from the Dutch as:

    “What the DSB report means now hinges — government officials, pathologists and lawyers say — on four lookalike words with fundamentally different meanings. The “first” is onderdelen (parts) which DSB officials have been using to refer to a Buk ground-to-air rocket. The second term is “metallfragmente” and “metalen deeltjes”, which Westerbeke and his spokesman have been using interchangeably to mean metal from outside the MH17, and also from the fuselage itself. The third key word is “missile”, which Australian coronial investigators say refers, not to a Buk or any other type of explosive ordnance, but to “flying objects which strike the body”. The fourth term is “raket”, which Dutch investigators, including those engaged in the official identification of the MH17 victims, say applies to air-to-ground rockets like Buk, as well as to air-to-air, infrared and other rockets fired by aircraft. “

    • Fern says:

      This is a superb article by John Helmer but it should come with a government health warning… will make you so angry you’ll want to punch a hole in something. The whole investigation just stinks to high heaven – I hope the relatives and friends of those who died crucify the Dutch authorities when they realise the scale of the cover up.

      • marknesop says:

        I completely agree. I guess, like many other things we have failed to notice, we failed to notice when public servants were no longer accountable to the public, and had the option of simply refusing to answer questions which are manifestly in the public interest as well as the public domain. The governments have this one locked down tight, and they only let out what they want to reveal. I think we can all agree the evidence collected thus far must implicate Ukraine, just from the demonstrated eagerness to blame Russia – if there were any conclusive evidence Russia was responsible, they would have tumbled over one another to release it or at least leak it, attributing it to “a senior member of the investigation team” or something like that.

        Is there no legal instrument which can force these people to stop concealing information there is no reason to conceal? There is no reason, for example, that Ms. Mason cannot be compelled to answer on what grounds she declined to hold an inquest for any of the British victims. Perhaps she had a perfectly good reason, but we won’t know that until we hear it. As for Westerbeke, when did we start making airplanes out of iron?

    • et Al says:

      I wonder what the Russians have cooked up in retaliation for whatever bs finally comes out. I would guess it would be more political than economic as the Kremlin makes a point of not attacking citizens (unlike the West) wholesale, though what good would pure political sanctions be? At some point they would have to be reversed or relaxed. Maybe a freeze on economic investments or favoring other countries for the same investment opportunities. It certainly can’t be business as usual

      • Erika says:

        I thought they were trying to break the dutch monopoly on flowers. If they can break the monopoly, they can break Holland.

        • et Al says:

          True, yet (almost) everyone likes flowers. They’re lovely.

          There must be another way to hit them in the pocketbooks that would be much more satisfying, though you can see from the numbers below that Dutch exports have collapsed since the new year. It’s interesting to note that Russia consistently exports more to the Netherlands though the Netherlands has been a major investor in Russia over the years.

          Netherlands Imports from Russia euro millions:

          oct 14 1123.8
          nov 14 1039.3
          dec 14 970.1
          jan 15 907.2
          feb 15 1029.1

          Netherlands Exports to Russia euro millions:

          oct 14 622.8
          nov 14 537.7
          dec 14 446.1
          jan 15 275.6
          feb 15 295.1

          From July 2015
          Neuters: Dutch exports to Russia plummet a year after MH17

          Dutch exports to Russia have fallen nearly 40 percent since last year, data showed on Friday, as relations between the two countries deteriorate following the downing over Ukraine in July 2014 of an airliner with many Dutch on board.

          The official Statistics Netherlands said Dutch exports to Russia were worth 1.26 billion euros ($1.38 billion) in the first four months of 2015, a precipitous decline from 2.07 billion euros during the same period a year before….

          …Exports of agricultural machinery rose, to 11 million euros in April this year, from 6.5 million euros a year before, suggesting Russia’s policy of import substitution is boosting demand for the technology in which the Dutch are leaders.

          Dutch manufacturers have reported increasing demand from Russia for equipment allowing it to grow more agricultural produce locally.

          Sales to Russia of natural and food products fell, however, from 497 million to 313 million, while exports of machines and transport machinery declined to 473 million euros in the first four months of 2015 from 890 million euros a year before…

          From July 2015
          Dutch News: Dutch exports to Russia down almost 50%

          …Total exports between January and April reached €1.26bn, compared with over €2bn in the same period last year. The CBS says the drop is almost entirely due to the sanctions imposed since the downing of flight MH17 a year ago. Russia has now tumbled to 19th place in the list of the biggest Dutch trading partners, down from 12th place a year ago. The export of tractors has been hardest hit, followed by cheese, computer parts and computers.

          From January 2015
          Neuters: Dutch-Russian ‘tulips-for-oil’ trade suffers under crisis, sanctions

          …”The relationship has changed, and the effects will be felt for years to come,” said Jeroen Ketting, who runs the Lighthouse consultancy for Western companies operating in Russia. “The boom period, let’s call it 1999-2013, is never coming back.”…

          …However, the Dutch trade relationship is special for its size – the Netherlands is Russia’s second-largest market after Germany – and for its problems…

          …The Friendship Year was disastrous. It began with Amsterdam’s mayor snubbing a visit by President Vladimir Putin to protest against Russia’s policies on gay rights.

          Later in the year, Russian forces seized the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise,” detaining 30 protesters. Then a Russian diplomat was arrested in The Hague, followed by an attack on a Dutch diplomat in Moscow by thugs who scrawled LGBT, the acronym for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, in lipstick on a mirror at his home.

          Then came the downing of MH17.

          The disaster that befell the flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur provoked a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in the Netherlands. Many Dutch believe Putin did nothing to help speed up an operation to recover the victims’ remains from a war zone controlled by pro-Moscow rebels.

          Now, with the rouble down 40 percent against the euro in the past six months, Dutch exporters face a particularly uncertain future. Overall trade with Russia shrank 20 percent in November from a year ago, figures from Eurostat show…

          …At Lighthouse, Ketting said small and medium-sized firms, which account for half of sales by the roughly 4,000 Dutch exporters to Russia, were losing out particularly.

          Anglo-Dutch multinationals such as Unilever PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC can sit out short-term shocks, but Ketting said things would remain difficult for years…

          …Things are yet worse for the flower exporters who are highly exposed to Russia. “Their customers have just seen a 30-40 percent cut in purchasing power in a very short period of time,” said Robert Roodenburg, director of the Dutch Union of Flower Wholesalers. A 10 percent fall in sales in the autumn deepened to “more like 25 percent” in November and December, he said.

          Wholesaler Flowerforce BV, which spent a decade building up its Russian business and generates half its sales there, fears the country’s middle-class market is evaporating.

          Spokesman Sander van Veldhoven said no orders were being placed for the spring, when couples order roses and chrysanthemums for weddings and volumes usually jump 700 percent from levels during the rest of the year.

          “Russians really are flower people,” he said. “But in the end, flowers are not one of life’s necessities. Bread goes before flowers.”

          Let us not forget that those peace loving, pot smoking, shagging dutchies publicly outed Putin’s daughter who was then forced to flee. I bet the Dutch have forgotten all about that already, like Neuters. Also wholly believing the bs spouted by their free, fair and democratic media guaranteed they would be shocked.

          • marknesop says:

            “Russians really are flower people,” he said. “But in the end, flowers are not one of life’s necessities. Bread goes before flowers.”

            The Netherlands, too – like The Moscow Times – persists in this idiot meme that the Russians are now uncertain about how they will fill their empty bellies, and that is why flower sales are down. Flower sales are down because you fucking cheese-heads are deliberately fudging the investigation to blame Russia, and covering up evidence which might point the finger elsewhere. Russians are not starving, sorry to disappoint you, so don’t bother to get the Gouda Relief Convoy fueled up just yet. They’re just getting their flowers from somewhere else. Simpletons.

            They did get one thing right, though: those markets are not coming back. See if you can turn Brussels into “flower people”, why don’t you? No pity here.

      • marknesop says:

        Well, the west has ensured Russia cannot simply commence a retaliatory investigation, by corralling all the evidence itself and then ruthlessly suppressing it to protect its pet, Ukraine.

  42. Moscow Exile says:

    RAF “Typhoon” accompanying Russian bombers over the Atlantic. The British fighters met two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers on their approaching the UK airspace. The incident occurred on September 10, according to the UK MoD.

  43. Cortes says:

    Thighs matter to the great British press.

  44. Patient Observer says:

    Femen strike again (and get struck):
    Definitely one of them took a couple of hard kicks to the ribs.

    • Northern Star says:

      Stomping and kicking the women..completely uncalled for…..and I might add….goes down a dangerous path…some women will kick back….and not necessarily with feet..

      • Patient Observer says:

        In general that is true but on the other hand their stunts are calculated to provoke a response which is not always predictable. Some folks will not be embarrassed and look away but rather express anger. I have no sympathy if all they got was some bruising (anything more would have been excessive). Charges for creating a public disturbance or something related to religious intolerance could be in order.

      • marknesop says:

        Perhaps they should post signs in future, reading “No FEMEN protesters. Those who insist on protesting despite the warning may experience rough handling and possibly kicking”. That ought to take care of it, like the “Blade turns when engine is running” warning on the top deck of your lawnmower, so noodniks will not attempt to work a jammed clod of grass free with their bare foot. A word to the wise is sufficient, right?

        What did they think was going to happen, when they disrupted a religious conference and insulted people’s religion? That they would be asked to sit, and be served tea and cakes? That the clerics would ask their opinion of how Islam should be run? Maybe all women should walk around with their tits exposed – ha! That would soon lessen the impact of FEMEN, what?

        Women are tough enough to be in the Marine Corps, but suddenly they’re too frail for a little rough stuff?

        • Oddlots says:

          A little more than off topic – more like off kilter – but I always admired this Betty White observation:

          “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”

          You gotta admit she was a hell of a marine.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, I put my hands over my mouth in shock when I first read that – I couldn’t believe it came from Betty White, who is “everyone’s Mom”. But she’s right. Women are tough. They’re just tough in different ways, and this insistence on mastering everything that men do even though women are not built for it is foolish. Passing the initial physical is not enough – even if you never fire a shot in anger your whole life, and your teammates never have to depend in action on your strength not being the weakest link, you have to maintain that level of fitness for your whole career. It becomes less important as you rise in rank beyond a certain point, because then you are an administrator and far less likely to find yourself in the field in combat. But we lost Colonel Geoff Parker to a suicide bomber in Kabul, and Major Yannick Pepin to an IED in the Dand District, and Captain Richard Leary to an insurgent attack in the Panjwayi. Lots of army officers retire at Major. We lost a handful of Warrant Officers and Sergeants – as an infantryman, you can still expect to be leading troops in the field at the Warrant Officer level. It’s no good to be riding a surge in fitness and make it through, say, the Rangers course (which is reputed to be very tough, that’s the one the original article reported two women had passed). You have to keep it up.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Okay. I have one and only one question:

      “When will the Pussy Riot preform in Mecca”

  45. Northern Star says:
    I missed most of the women as warriors exchange ….but this may stir the pot a bit..
    I think that the issue is not so much one of women as a gender but rather the unsuitability for combat military roles is something particulary apparent in *white western women*…especially spoiled rotten narcissistic American women.

    • marknesop says:

      It makes me laugh, because the advocates have the bone firmly in their teeth now and they will not let it go. The men will be hectored and lectured and tormented and shamed into taking on women in combat – the writing is on the wall. Not now, not right this minute. The threat that 17% of the marines would quit if women were accepted into infantry combat roles will probably keep them at bay for a bit, while they do some more studies to see how many of them are serious, and transfer or retire some of the leaders who oppose the policy. Any issue in the USA immediately becomes political, and the fact that it has made it into the papers in an election cycle is the kiss of death to those who oppose it. Women are voters, and the marines have hurt the voters’ feelings. Therefore, there will be no end of grandstanding by the candidates as they all try to hold their fingers to the wind and see which way they should come out on this issue. And they will push and push until they get acceptance. The advocacy types have decided their time to strike is now.

      We lost a couple of women in Afghanistan; three, to be exact – two to IED’s and one in a ground offensive. None were infantry. One was a medic, one was in an armored regiment and one was an artillery captain. Just because they were not infantry does not make their sacrifice of less value, or make them less dead. But they were not infantry. So far as I am aware, there is no prohibition on women in the infantry. But not many make it, and we have yet to have a female soldier captured by the enemy in combat. Then, you’ll see. And the American armed forces are at a significantly higher risk of that. There are more of them, and Washington always seems to have a war boiling somewhere in the world.

      Gradually, men have been forced to give way on all fronts, and to accept the presence of women as workmates in every occupation. To the best of my knowledge, nobody asks if performance in the occupation is improved thereby. And if women find the occupation not to their liking, complaints are rapidly addressed and behavior is ordered to be modified. In the navy, that meant no more nudie pin-ups in the messdecks, because women have to go into them to wake the oncoming watch. It meant watch your language, although to be fair, that one was not strictly enforced. But the same thing will happen to the marines. The men will have to modify their behaviour to accommodate the sensibilities of women. The politicians and administrators will see to it that they do. Will the marines be a more effective fighting force for it? We’ll see, when they’re up against a non-liberal all-male enemy; still plenty of those left.

      Women-only facilities exist, though, of course. No problem there. Who wants to have men around when you’re working out in your clingly little leotard at the Fitness Club, for example? Men are rapey, everyone knows that, and they’re always staring at your boobs and you just know what they’re thinking.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Jessica Lynch was a female US soldier captured in Iraq. To her enormous credit, she rejected the efforts to turn her into a heroine. IIRC, she said she panicked, never fired her weapons (because it jammed) and, much to the chagrin of the media, said she was well treated by her captors. In one ironic moment, the captors tried to return her to US forces but the ambulance she was in came under fire forcing it to turn back.

        Per Wikipedia on Lynch:
        “Initial official reports on Lynch’s capture and rescue in Iraq were incorrect. On April 24, 2007, she testified in front of Congress that she had never fired her weapon, her M16 rifle jammed, and that she had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed.[1] Lynch has been outspoken in her criticism of the original stories reported regarding her combat experience. When asked about her heroine status, she stated “That wasn’t me. I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do… I’m just a survivor.””

        She turned down million dollar deals and her moment of fame rather than lie – good for her.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Jessica posed nude or semi-nude with other soldiers prior to when she was captured.

          Given today’s moral standards among our youth, such behavior should not be unexpected.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            The Grauniad on Lynch: The truth bout Jessica

            That rag mustn’t have been under the control of Langley in 2003 when the above article appeared.

            • marknesop says:

              Ditto Pat Tillman, the “face of the War on Terror“; an NFL star who blew off a $3.6 Million football contract and left a new wife behind to go and fight in Afghanistan. His story was the apotheosis of American courage and selflessness, and his own fellow soldiers shot him by accident because one of them got rattled at night and started shooting, and everybody opened up on “shadowy figures” they thought were the enemy. The Army tried out a story that he had died in action against the enemy, “charging up a hill to save his fellow Rangers” – even awarded him the Silver Star, for courage. Was that to protect the family’s memories of their fallen hero? Hardly. It was because it made great PR for the Army when the country was needed to rally around the flag and the president, and just give till it hurt to the war effort in an ecstasy of patriotism. And flubs like shooting your own people (the way the U.S. Air Force disobeyed strict orders not to engage what they believed was a firefight on the ground, and ended up hosing down Canadian troops doing an exercise, killing 4 of them) do not sell the war.

              It might be appropriate to recall at this point that the Bush government refused to put the costs of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq in the federal budget, choosing instead to fund it through repeated “emergency supplementals” of billions upon billions. That’s how a surplus got turned into a huge deficit. And not a single person was punished, unless you count Scooter Libby, and his punishment was not for that; it was for deliberately blowing the cover of a CIA agent to carry out a political act of revenge.

            • Jen says:

              I can never shake off the suspicion that senior people in the US Army set up Pat Tillman and his unit in a way that he would be shot dead accidentally. I’ve read that on the basis of ballistics evidence, whoever shot him (with an M16 assault rifle) was standing about 9 or 10 metres away from him. His body armour was burned soon after his death in violation of US Army policy. He died at a time when the Bush government was reeling from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the lynching of Blackwater mercenaries in Fallujah.

              From Justin Raimondo at
              “… Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

              “’The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,’ a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

              “The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away… ”

              Tillman was becoming an anti-war activist and was planning to leave the army at the time of his death. He had plans to speak publicly against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and to meet Noam Chomsky after exchanging correspondence with him. His becoming a public figure against Bush government policy would have been a major embarrassment for the war hawks.

              • Patient Observer says:

                Thank you for that research. I was aware of some stories that he was was becoming disillusioned and was intending to publicly denounce the war in a high profile manner. He was likely murdered for going off-script.

                He was a true hero in my book and deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism for many reasons but most importantly for telling the truth at great personal risk to help save the lives of his fellow soldiers and countless civilians.

            • Patient Observer says:

              It’s interesting to learn the gory details of how American News sausage is made.

  46. et Al says:

    Asia Times Online: Turkic Council and limits to ethnic unity in Eurasia

    …There are six sovereign countries populated predominantly by Turkic peoples (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and while the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 has paved the way for constructive interaction between them, hardly any steps could be taken for formal integration…

    …The Turkic Council, an international organization founded in 2009, is trying to change this by facilitating cooperation between Turkic states based on shared ethnic identity and common cultural heritage. The council is actively undertaking projects and establishing dialogue with other international institutions. There are, however, limits to how far the idea of Turkic unity can be taken…

    …The Turkic Council is the first and so far the only integration project in history bringing together Turkic states and peoples. Over the six years since its establishment it has done a good job in promoting the cultural bonds between its members. However, when it comes to forming economic and security alliances, it is still national interests and realpolitik that matter.

    As long as it is not part of Erdogan & the AKP’s neo-Ottoman project. It probably is though.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Kazakhs and Turks are the same ethnicity like horses and mules are the same species.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        My old pal worked for Exxon-Mobil in 2006 and was based for a while at some godforsaken place on the Kazakh Caspian Sea coast, where the Tengiz oil field and terminal were being developed. Exxon decided to import cheap labour from Turkey, he told me, and almost as soon as the Turks had arrived, the local Kazakhs set upon them with a vengeance. It was serious stuff – knives were used and there were serious injuries and fatalities. The Turks were overwhelmed and the firm immediately had them all flown back to Turkey. The Turkish government made a serious remonstration over the incident to that of Kazakhstan, but I have heard nothing more of it.

        Brotherly people indeed!

        See: Over 100 Turkish Workers Injured in Kazakhstan Fight

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