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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  1. astabada says:

    I can’t remember who raised the topic of Saviano in this blog. I think I mentioned that he was not the honest and truthful journalist he describes himself to be. This article from the Daily Beast is a good read if you want to know more about what I think is just a media sensation.

    It reiterates that he has plagiarised several fellow journalists in his latest book ZeroZeroZero.

  2. Johan Meyer says:

    One of the liberal-type newspapers in South Africa that I occasionally read is the Mail and Guardian. It is claims to be the descendent of the Rand Daily Mail, a rather good newspaper in the apartheid years. In practice, it represents western interests above all, and local oligarchical interests, while trying to sound neutral. When they make a claim attacking a person or country, a good idea is to see what has been happening, from third party sources. In particular, when their cartoonist, Jonathan “Zapiro” Schapiro attacks someone, rather in-depth study is called for—it may be considered a confession that an elaborate story has been fabricated (e.g. Mbeki denying that HIV causes AIDS, a story which came from an AIDS conference in Toronto, or attacking Putin, Assad and Aristide, with nasty insinuation). They will attack failed policies of the west and their oligarchs, starting between right after and five years after the oligarch or western leader loses office or otherwise falls from grace. MG often has investigational pieces that claim very local information, and it isn’t clear whether those are carried out by sincere journalists, as a means of vindicating the newspaper, or are very specific hit jobs.

    So it was with great interest that I read their summary of a Human Rights Watch report on Gambia. In brief, according to MG/HRW, the president, who is effectively a dictator and mad man, has been suppressing the opposition, making horrendous laws and enforcing beyond the law including unlawful detention, torture and disappearances, has a paramilitary at his beck and call that combines aspects of the Janjaweed and the Ton Ton Macoutes (I’m summarizing the description; HRW doesn’t explicitly draw the comparison; Janjaweed allegedly was used because Sudan couldn’t use the army to suppress Dar Fur, as the army was majority Fur, and several former army personnel complain of the violence of the paramilitaries; Ton Ton Macoutes were the thugs at the beck and call of the Duvaliers in Haiti, and the paramilitaries are said to be drawn from the presidential guard), suppresses human rights organizations, often attacks former allies at the point of sacking, throwing them in prison, and is all round dubious.

    Certainly, Africa has a host of embarrassments, so I was interested to see how president Yahya Jammeh ranks. I consulted various media and the HRW report.

    Oppositional media had the “stop the regime” schema, and were based out of country. One article that appears at present in all the foreign Gambia-related news sites is titled “The Gambia: The Character Stain, Dishonor and Amateurism of Nene M[a]cdoulle and Sheriff Bojang” (the spelling of Nene’s surname varies depending on the hosting website). This article attacks two governmental spokespeople ad hominem, and its ultimate source is a website that reeks of Soros and Guardian—colonialism is decried, in vicious yet abstract terms, while the current affairs of the world are evil to the extent that the west is not heeded; a few sincere radicals with few new ideas are there for local colour. A whois search produced a private name in California, although the domain was registered in Australia; no funding sources are mentioned, but a donation link exists.

    One matter that does strike me is that the oppositional websites often quote governmental spokespeople at length. In the link, an article is criticized heavily, but then proceed to quote most of the article being criticized. Thus one learns that rural electrification has been one of Jammeh’s achievements. Kaironews is registered to a journalist listed as tortured in the HRW report, albeit registered in USA in 2014; the torture is reported to have occurred in 2006.

    In the past year, there has been a coup attempt by Gambian ex-pats living in the US; they’ve been arrested by US authorities. There has also been a mass pardon (the link is to a website registered in Denmark, but to an address in Gambia; the registrar might be one of the people who were tortured as reported in the HRW report), including of people involved in earlier coup attempts, murderers, and people serving life sentences generally. Jammeh has had several diplomatic rows, including kicking out an EU big wig, and has announced that English will lose official status. Jammeh has also brought in Uganda-style anti-gay laws, and occasionally makes death threats against homosexuals in general. The US government made an apparently mild statement (Kirby) on the gay rights matter, with Susan Rice making the most noise; I was left, upon reading the first linked article, with the impression that the US government was hoping that no-one would notice. Kirby spoke today (Thursday), while Rice was talking on 16 May.

    A report on a statement by a former member of intelligence names someone with the nickname Rambo, that showed up earlier on image searches in the foreign oppositional media, but have disappeared since I started typing—this seems to be an operation in progress at 8pm Central Time. The person in the report started as a confidential informant, as is typically used in North American police investigations, and later became an analyst, while claiming to having first been a witness to torture, then being tortured himself, by someone with the nickname “Rambo”. This alleged torturer’s photo was posted online, but disappeared after I had been working on this comment for some hours (8pm Central Time).

    But back to the main HRW report. Complaints center mainly on torture by the paramilitaries (so-called Jungulers). Apparently, at any one time, there are up to 40 members, drawn from the presidential guard, but allegedly also from the military (there are all sorts of apparent inconsistencies that HRW does not pursue). HRW does the Mbeki accusation against Gambia’s president, claiming that the president claimed to cure Ebola:
    In 2007, President Jammeh, who has since said he can “cure Ebola,” started an herbal treatment program claiming to cure people living with HIV and AIDS.

    The Ebola claim can be traced to a Nigerian website, that claims that Jammeh claimed to be able to cure Ebola, and made that claim at the 69th general assembly of the UN. That claim has a bit of a problem, as the UN has a pdf of the remarks, the gist of which is that Jammeh bought into the propaganda about Ukraine choosing its own path, then asked why Cuba couldn’t do ‘the same,’ and thanking Russia for its efforts in fighting Ebola.

    Jammeh did claim to be able to cure HIV, and tried to add a scientific patina to his efforts. Nevertheless, quoting HRW,
    Despite its poor human rights record overall, Gambia has made some progress on fulfilling Gambians’ rights to health and education. In 2014, the government committed to providing free universal primary education and gross school enrollment rates were above average for the region at 97 percent.[12] The government has also made significant progress in raising literacy rates.[13] Gambia has improved maternal and child health, largely through better access to health services and improved emergency obstetric care.[14] Vaccination rates have also increased which have in turn reduced mortality as a result of preventable diseases.[15] In 2007, President Jammeh, who has since said he can “cure Ebola,” started an herbal treatment program claiming to cure people living with HIV and AIDS.
    [16] However, anti-retroviral drugs are available to people living with HIV in Gambia and 86 percent of people with “advanced HIV infections” had access to ARV treatment in 2013.

    HRW has a list of complaints about repressive laws. Laws whose existence they decry include “sedition” (section 52 in Gambia’s criminal code; compare sections 59-62 in Canada’s criminal code), “criminal libel” (178 GCC, 297-316CCC), “spreading false information” (181 GCC, 300,361-378 CCC). Unfortunately, HRW doesn’t supply the texts of the laws in question, so we are left to guess whether the laws are better or worse than their Canadian counterparts. The examples of problems that they list with the laws in question appear to be evil police and presidential practice, rather than the laws themselves. For example, people may be tortured into confessing to making false statements, with confessions being played on TV.

    Other complaints include use of torture, and here they are rather explicit in the details, but neglect comparison to other contemporary and previous regimes:
    [Ceesay] told me during the first day, he was taken to a location that he has no idea about and beaten until he felt unconscious. He was forced to drink cooking oil like water, on several occasions…his face was full of bruises, small wounds and his back was swollen and all marked with beating marks. He was limping, he could not walk properly because of the beatings.

    They told me that… my problem was my mouth and my hand. So they decided to break my hand into pieces. They hit me with an iron until I heard my bones crack and then they also came with a bayonet and sliced [the side of my mouth]… The sense was to leave those marks on me so that wherever I am I can always remember them. Victor Jara, anybody? Oh, HRW was concerned about the human rights situation in USSR, during its Helsinki Rights Watch phase, and certainly would not mention that Jara’s hands were similarly crushed prior to execution.

    Sometimes they open the suspect’s anus and put pepper there. They pour water over you. They will do anything to force you to confess. They get you to sign that paper and that is their evidence. I have seen it with my own eyes. It is a common occurrence.
    It is perhaps worth noting that aside from torture, the description isn’t that far off the Reid technique (I don’t approve of the New Yorker, but I’m willing to cite them) and the practice of subornation to perjury plea bargains.

    How many extrajudicial killings were perpetrated by the Gambian state? Dozens since 1994, according to HRW, in a country of just shy of 2 million, or perhaps 0.1% of the annual murder rate, which would be a third of the rate at which US police officers kill US citizens; perhaps if one includes the disappeared—HRW says 43—Gambia may be competitive with USA.

    So who are the torture and murder victims? They are former state personnel who have fallen out with the president, as well as journalists and oppositional politicians. About 9% of the parliament is held by the opposition, and opposition member Ousman “Rambo” Jatta, who has been jailed before, has since held office; it isn’t clear whether his experience is typical or not; notice that “Rambo” turns up repeatedly as a nickname for Gambians, including one member of the Jungulers paramilitary, and an alleged Gambian Lebanese businessman.

    Let us ignore HRW’s history for a moment (I promise to return to that matter below), and ask what might cause a state leader to torture and murder political opponents, that is, live up to what the west pretended Yanukovich to be. HRW lets the cat slip out of the bag:
    …coup attempts in 2006 and 2014. Although to be fair, Jammeh did come to power in a coup.

    A death threat received by a journalist (Tobaski is a sacrificial goat; it is Wolof, and to my knowledge not a Slavic borrowing):
    Unpatriotic Citizens,

    Read this Tobaski warning. It is left to you to make a choice. You choose to live or die. You must take one… You are stubborn fucking guys who want to destroy the image of the APRC Government and our affectionate President Yahya Jammeh. You think that you can apply for permit to bring the Tunisian, Egypt, Algeria, Seria[sic: spelling in HRW report, without comment] and Libya situation here. I will come with my team of patriotic killers who kill for the love of our country and our President… I know that you are dealing with Gambian dissidents abroad, but you will not survive it at all… We will get all of you and slaughter you like Tobaski Rams. We will come for you without any further information.

    And the president has made open death threats, although HRW declines to provide a citation, as that would reveal the hand of George Soros’s Open Society foundation:
    I will kill anyone who wants to destabilise this country. If you think that you can collaborate with so-called human rights defenders, and get away with it, you must be living in a dream world. I will kill you, and nothing will come out of it. We are not going to condone people posing as human rights defenders to the detriment of the country. If you are affiliated with any human rights group, be rest assured that your security and personal safety would not be guaranteed by my government. We are ready to kill saboteurs.
    – President Yahya Jammeh, September 2009

    Here we see the total effect of the so-called human rights defenders. If the police, military and intelligence personnel who complain so bravely about abuses by the president had the decency to shoot these paramilitaries (Jungulers), and in the worst case, confess on TV, then they might have made a difference. I get the impression that the Human Rights NGOs serve the purpose of relieving citizens of their ethical duties—do something about the problems of your society by subverting your society’s independence to foreign intelligence networks.

    My conclusion is very much that the journalists and opposition politicians have been used unwittingly. It is not a pretty sight—perhaps a thousand people tortured, and—let us be generous—perhaps two hundred people killed, in a country of 2 million, so as to allow a very modest developmental agenda under an unpleasant dictatorial president. A president who is far less evil than Museveni of Uganda, or Kagame of Rwanda, albeit more bombastic, who must choose between the evil of dictatorial measures and the evil of coup, probably for the purpose of a foreign base, or to boost NATO morale.

    Notably, HRW complains that Kagame puts pan-handlers in prison in short-term stints to keep Kigali clean, but they neglect the millions of deaths he has caused in DRC and Rwanda, let alone his evil legal machinations and far more violent suppression of opposition. But from the sublime to the ridiculous: HRW reports that a member of the “Alliance of Freedom Fighters” of Armenia was beaten brutally at the Yerevan protests, allegedly by thugs in the pay of oligarchs with alleged ties to the government. Why could governments possibly want to keep NGOs out?

    • Johan Meyer says:

      Link from Saker (Ukraine & China SITREP September 27th, 2015 by Scott and Serbian Girl): EU planning North Africa operations

      So they will probably try to soften up African states and see who is usable as a logistics beachhead (I’d imagine Africans are supposed to do the fighting—certainly Europe won’t be able to supply the necessary armies). Gambia as a beachhead has big problem—it is a cauldron waiting to happen within Senegal, and such an invasion will likely only reignite pan-Africanism. Are they hoping to reignite the Casamance (southern Senegal) conflict by bringing a Christian to power in Gambia? Any Muslim president is likely to side with Senegal, and Gambia is 90% Muslim. Similar numbers apply to Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, so assuming that the planners aren’t total morons, I’m thinking that we’ll see a stirring up of ethnic and religious tensions in the non-to-distant future, with a few genocides ™ along the way. That an idea is stupid doesn’t mean that it won’t be done, as Iraq clearly demonstrated.

      But why Gambia? Highways make for cheaper logistics than flight. And highways in Gambia are near highways in Senegal. Gambia is surrounded by Senegal, and two trans-Africa highways either go through or pass near Gambia. The Gambia river is navigable by ocean going vessels up to 100km from Gambia’s eastern border (Georgetown/Janjangbureh), well past the Senegal N4 highway that bisects Gambia, so I’d imagine road transport from there—the N4 highway lies on the Rabat/Morocco-Dakar/Senegal-Accra/Ghana-Lagon/Nigeria road. Also, the Senegal N6 highway runs on the Gambia border, 10km at its closest from Fatoto (Gambia), and 14km from Fatoto to Manda (Senegal, on N6), so building a connection road should be feasible to build even in difficult terrain. The N6 crosses the N1 which is on the Dakar/Senegal-Bamako/Mali-Kano/Nigeria-Njadmena/Chad highway. And rural Gambia is electrified, so there will be creature comforts.

      But that requires soldiers, in particular, infantry. Some possible scenarios, with hopes as outcomes:
      1. Stir up Casamance (southern Senegal south of Gambia), help AQ, ISIS and/or friends to attack, and sell as anti-Christian genocide. Puts Nigeria and Ghana into play, with strong north/south divides, and splits AU.
      2. Use Gambian puppets to claim parts of Senegal, possibly using ethnic tensions and contiguity. As there is no legal case to be made, expect Soros-style legal spam. Alternatively, allow international intra-ethnic movement and separatism between Senegal, Gambia, both Guineas.
      3. Remote coup (Haiti 2004/Ukraine 2013 style), and have puppets give land for a foreign military base. Is this what they tried, and did they punish the Texan businessman from Gambia for failing?

  3. james says:

    Putin reportedly prepared to launch unilateral airstrikes in Syria
    russian drones in use?

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, the use of drones has been reported before. I think an underlying purpose of both reports is to put out the word to the USA, “We’re watching”. No more bombing ahead of ISIS militias to drive the army back and let ISIS move in afterward to take more ground, or “accidentally” bombing government targets to help the militia.

  4. Drutten says:

    Today I visited a library in a smallish Swedish city. This is the “Russian history”-section:

    Not a great many books, but these surely cover the essentials. Anne Applebaum times two with some “Tsar Putin” on top – can’t go wrong with that.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I remember how years ago I visited the large central library of my home town in order to seek out a history of the Russo-German War 1941-1945. I had in mind the 2-volume history of the conflict, “The Road to Stalingrad” and “The Road to Berlin” written by Professor Emeritus and Honorary Fellow in Defence Studies at the University of Edinburgh, John Erickson, who, despite his name and seat of learning, was neither a Swede nor a Scot but an Englishman, albeit he had Swedish forebears.

      The section devoted to WWII history in my local library was huge – and there was not one book about the “Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945”: all were devoted to British and British Empire and Dominions feats of arms in WWII as well as those of the USA : the Battle of Britain, the battle of the Atlantic, the Normandy Landings, the “strategic” bombing of Germany, the North Africa Campaigns, the 6th Army in Burma etc. Not one word about the Evil Empire and its titanic struggle with Nazi Germany and its Axis allies.

      I complained about this gross omission in the library catalogue. Officially I did it: filled out forms in which I voiced my astonishment over the fact that on shelf after shelf of books about WWII not a single one was devoted to the German-Soviet War.

      There were quite a few devoted to the history of the Wehrmacht, though, and the Waffen-SS as well.

    • Terje says:

      KMA – Kiruna Malmberget?
      I wonder if Applebaum gets the printing and translating of her books (indirectly?) sponsored by the CIA since she seems to be a staple in every library in the western world. They did plenty of that during the cold war, and old tricks can be recycled.

    • cartman says:

      I would recommend defacing them.

    • Jen says:

      Off the top of my head, I don’t think my local library has anything better: it still has books on the Chechnyan war and one book by Anna Politkovskaya. In other words, it has nothing current.

    • kirill says:

      Canada was running gulags during WWI and WWII. During WWI it sent Ukrainians to actual labour camps in Alberta. It also rounded up Germans. During WWII Canada rounded up Japanese-Canadians. In all cases their property was looted from them and never returned. Perhaps Applebaum can write a book on this.

      • Jen says:

        Applebaum can start with Canadian scientist David Suzuki’s background. His Wikipedia entry states that his family was interned in a camp in the Rockies in British Columbia from 1942 to 1945. The family business was seized and sold by the Canadian government. After the war, the Suzukis were forced to move to Ontario where Suzuki attended schools in Leamington and London.

        The Austrian-Australian architect Harry Seidler was also interned in a labour camp in Quebec for a time, having been deported there by the British in 1941, on account of his Austrian citizenship, even though the reason he was in Britain was that he was a refugee from the Third Reich (he was Jewish). He started his career as an architect in Canada, worked in the US and Brazil, and followed his parents to Australia in 1948.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Very many of the Eyeties working in the UK when in June 1940 El Duce declared war on the UK were packed off by HMG to the Isle off Man. Most of them were ice cream vendors. Many of them had been working in the UK for donkeys years when they were arrested as enemy aliens and had wives and families. The British government showed a glimmer of humanity, in that it allowed the internees’ spouses and children to stay on the mainland.

          Nice place is the I-o-M: Manx kippers are very tasty!


          From ice cream men to ‘enemy aliens’

          • Cortes says:

            Many of the Italian emigrants to the UK and USA who answered the Duce’s appeals to return to contribute to the building of a glorious future in the 1930s found themselves in internal exile when they returned with inconvenient notions. Carlo Levi’s “Christ Stopped at Eboli” has a good portrait of a disillusioned returned emigrant in Apulia, the emigrant in this case not being a political.

  5. et Al says:

    Neuters: Unclear if U.S.-Russia interests overlap in Syria – Pentagon

    …Carter’s remarks, his first on the matter, did not rule out such discussions. But he suggested he would not support any cooperation with Moscow without an agreement to also discuss, in parallel, removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power…

    …”To pursue the defeat of ISIL without, at the same time, pursuing a political transition, is to fuel the very kind of extremism that underlies ISIL,” Carter told a Pentagon news conference, referring to the Islamic State. ..

    …”We will continue to work with Russia on issues where our interests overlap. It is possible but not yet clear that such an overlap might exist in Syria,” Carter said…

    What is remarkable about this piece is what is not happening – an out and out condemnation by the US of Russia. Instead it just quibbles and equivocation.

    You’ve got to laugh at their spin on this to try and make America look relevant. If he’s saying there will be no cooperation with Russia without Russia agreeing to Assad leaving, then what will the US do is Russia just goes ahead and starts destroying IS/ISIL/DAESH/Whatever?

    It’s what the American’s call the ‘facts on the ground’. This time it is no the US that is making them.

    • marknesop says:

      Good analysis. In fact Russia does not care what the USA does so long as it does not directly engage the Syrian army or Syrian civilians. Everyone else in Syria is the enemy, and if the USA wanted to really start bombing ISIS, it would be nice but not necessary. The Syrian army is quite capable of kicking their ass and the Free Syrian Army’s, too, so long as the USAF stays out of it. And that’s what Russia is there for – to make sure they do.

      It is dawning on a few in the U.S. that they are actually, tangibly and visibly losing. But it is unacceptable to the American psyche that it could lose with the most powerful military in the world and being the sole superpower and all, so it has to be spun that America is just mulling its many, many options rather than retreating.

  6. et Al says:

    Neuters: U.N. alarmed after ordered out of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine

    The United Nations humanitarian aid chief Stephen O’Brien voiced serious concern on Thursday that authorities in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine are demanding that all U.N. agencies immediately vacate the city.

    “I am alarmed by news that the de facto authorities in eastern Ukraine have ordered U.N. agencies in Luhansk to end operations and to leave the area by tomorrow, 25 September,” O’Brien said in a statement. Eastern Ukraine is controlled by pro-Russian separatists who reject the Kiev government.

    “I am also extremely concerned by the situation regarding accreditation and registration of international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in Donetsk,” he added. “A decision by the de facto authorities in Donetsk on the U.N.’s future operations remains on hold, and all U.N. agency operations have been suspended.”

    • marknesop says:

      Apart from being a part of the rubber-stamp-for-Washington-foreign-policy-goals UN, Stephen O’Brien seems like a genuine enough sort, and there is nothing particularly alarming in his background (like being a neocon drone in the State Department or a former or present luminary at NED) that I can see. He probably is genuinely concerned, but the probability remains that western NGO’s interested in establishing a foothold there are mostly concerned with undermining the present administration and seeing a restoration of the region to Ukrainian control.

  7. et Al says:

    Dirty Wella: Russia announces naval drills in Mediterranean Sea

    … The naval drills are scheduled for the end of September and beginning of October, Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

    The exercises are set to include three ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet , including the Saratov landing ship, the Moskva guided missile cruiser and the Smetlivy destroyer (pictured above), as well as other military vessels.

    “In total, there should be over 40 combat exercises, including rocket and artillery fire at sea and airborne targets,” the officials said in a statement.

    The Moskva cruiser has already left the Sevastopol port in Crimea and is heading towards Bosporus, Russian news agency Interfax has reported.

    The navy is scheduled to train its defense against submarines, aircrafts and naval attacks as well as conduct search and rescue operations….

    The Russians probably suspect the US of trying a Last Hurrah! so are dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s.

  8. et Al says:

    euractive: EU Sanctions – a tool for political cleansing

    In a scathing report by Human Rights Without Frontiers International, an NGO, the EU is sharply criticized for aiding the political cleansing of former Yanoukovych Administration members in Ukraine.

    The report hinges on the case of Andrii Volodymyrovych Portnov, a former adviser to the President of Ukraine. Mr. Portnov was placed under Restrictive Measures on March 5, 2014, by the Council of the European Union. In its Decision (Ref. 2014/119/CFSP), the Council states the reason for Mr. Protnov’s inclusion in the Restrictive Measures as “[A] Person subject to criminal proceedings in Ukraine to investigate crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian State funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine.”

    However, Mr. Portnov challenged the Prosecutor General’s Office to a series of legal appeals, which not only did he win, but the court obliged the Prosecutor General’s Office to inform the European External Action Service of a lack of evidence on all charges.

    Mr. Portnov was removed from EU sanctions list on March 6, 2015. Several other members of the Yanoukovych Administration, also under EU Restrictive Measures, are expected to follow suit.

    HRWF concludes:

    “A.V. Portnov has been relentlessly prosecuted but all the courts have dismissed the official accusations that were made public by the General Prosecutor’s Office through its official website and the social media, disregarding the presumption of innocence.

    It is obvious that Ukrainian authorities were guided by personal revenge and political settlement of scores.

    This case and increasing malpractices in many areas denounced by Ukrainian NGOs show that there is still a long way to go for the heirs of Maidan to live up to their commitments to democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine.

    What is worse is the international impact of the miscarriage of justice of the EU in A.V. Portnov’s case. He was blacklisted by the EU and some other non-EU countries and subject to their public sanctions. In a sense, the EU participated in and was also partly responsible for the international disgrace of A.V. Portnov, although he was removed from the list of sanctions one year later. In the future the EU might have to reconsider its sanctions procedures in the light of the presumption of innocence.”



    This is the strategy that all the West’s regime change winners follow. I’m surprised it has taken HRW so long to catch on. Oh, hang on. I’m NOT surprised.

    • kirill says:

      It’s not HRW, it’s another NGO. HRW is an attack dog for the US regime.

    • marknesop says:

      The immediate lesson the Maidan Junta learned was that it was open season on former political figures and that score-settling would not be penalized – rather, the zeal with which the junta punished its former foes was remarked as eagerness for reform, and the western cheerleading section was quite prepared to overlook a few deviations from due process and the presumption of innocence so long as their new heartthrobs were hammering the former Yanukovych government. Considering the west would never forgive him for not staying bought, and reverseing himself on the EU Association Agreement.

      Exactly the same thing is going on with Ukraine’s carousel of Anti-Corruption Czars. As soon as the new guy stumbles over the wrong kind of corruption, and says, “Hey, look! Corruption!”, he is promptly accused of corruption himself, framed and fired.

  9. et Al says:

    Neuters: Aerojet weighs higher offer for Lockheed-Boeing venture

    …Last summer, Aerojet’s board also rejected ULA’s request that Aerojet invest $300 million to accelerate work on the AR-1 engine it is developing as an alternative to the Russian RD-180 engine that powers ULA’s Atlas V rocket, the sources said.

    U.S. lawmakers last year banned use of the Russian engines for U.S. military and spy satellite launches after 2019, to protest Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

    Aerojet’s refusal to invest more in the AR-1 engine ultimately drove ULA to opt for the BE-4 engine being developed by privately held Blue Origin, which is owned by founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos, the sources said.

    An Aerojet takeover of ULA would also require Russia to give its regulatory approval and transfer a technology license for use of the RD-180 engines, according to two of the sources.

    Russia refused to transfer the license to Aerojet when it bought Rocketdyne from Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) unit in 2013, forcing Pratt to retain control of a small company that brokers RD-180 sales, and could be more reluctant to do so now, the sources said.

    Analysts say a tie-up between ULA and Aerojet would make sense since both companies’s revenues are threatened by a drop in U.S. military satellite launches, and the rise of privately held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, which builds its own rockets and motors to keep costs down. The Air Force earlier this year certified SpaceX to bid for some military and spy satellite launches and break ULA’s nine-year monopoly…

    How embarrasing. Extra bold emphasis, mine.

    • et Al says:

      I think I’m tagslexyc!

      The interesting bit is that Russia refused to let Aerodyne transfer the license for the RD-180!

      • marknesop says:

        Russia has apparently – finally – learned that the west is prone to approaching it all smiley-like and asking it to do all kinds of things which will benefit the west, but it will never say “Thank you” and as soon as it gets back to the office it resumes its previous drone of shit and abuse.

  10. et Al says:

    EU Observers: EU, Ukraine, Russia in ‘final’ gas talks Friday

    Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Demchyshyn will come to Brussels Friday for EU-mediated talks about gas delivery, the European Commission announced Thursday. The Commission said it has “the firm objective to finalise the so called winter package for the winter period 2015/16.”

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    To sleep, perchance to dream …

    [Posted here because Cameron’s piggy thread had become too narrow above.]

    Gosh! So that’s how one does it!

  12. Warren says:

    Words of wisdom from John McCain, I think his experiences at the Hanoi Hilton has deeply affected him.

  13. et Al says:

    German Economic News via Russia Insider: EU Taxpayers Charged €500 Million for Ukrainian Gas

    Russia and the EU have apparently come to an agreement on natural gasdeliveries to Ukraine. This involves the EU tax-payer guaranteeing a credit for Ukraine worth half a billion Euros. The money will be transferred directly to a Gazprom holding account.

    The EU tax-payer is being held responsible for Ukraine’s gas supply this winter. According to TASS, the Russian Minister for Energy, Alexander Novak, confirmed the result of the meeting between the EU and Russia in Vienna on Friday.

    Accordingly, the EU will transfer 500 million Euros to the Russian company Gazprom. The Russians consider this as payment for the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. It is expected that Ukraine will agree to this – although Kiev had asked for an even higher discount. The head of the Ukrainian gas company Naftogas, Andrej Kobolew, has indicated that Ukraine could agree to the deal.

    To get through the Winter, Ukraine urgently needs to fill its gas storage tanks. There has already been a two weeks delay. The current delivery covers approximately half of Ukraine’s requirements. Then another 500 million Euros must be found. Ukraine does not have the money – it is bankrupt. It is likely that the second tranche will also have to be paid by the European tax-payer.

    The bill could also increase, should this winter be colder than last winter. The head of Gazprom, Alexej Miller, said that Russia was expecting an “unusually cold” winter.

    The agreement can be taken as a further sign of the EU and Russia drawing closer together. It is remarkable that Russia, despite Kiev’s on-going hostility, has nevertheless provided a discount. The German foreign minister said after a meeting on Saturday that the chances of a de-escalation in Ukraine were better now than ever.

    Uh, doesn’t this mean the EU is breaching its own sanctions or are there sanctions & ‘sanctions’?

    • marknesop says:

      “The agreement can be taken as a further sign of the EU and Russia drawing closer together. It is remarkable that Russia, despite Kiev’s on-going hostility, has nevertheless provided a discount. The German foreign minister said after a meeting on Saturday that the chances of a de-escalation in Ukraine were better now than ever.”

      Ha, ha, ha!!! No wonder the EU keeps getting everything in Ukraine wrong! The German Foreign Minister can’t even correctly interpret the implications of a meeting at which he was present! I bet I could piss in his pocket and tell him it’s raining.

      A further sign of the EU and Russia drawing closer together – God, give me strength. Any way you have to spin it for the spatzel-eaters back home, Frankie. What it actually means is that Russia does not trust any other party to the agreement – the beneficiary nor the brokers – to pay for gas deliveries and therefore it still wants its money up front. The western project formerly known as Ukraine, but now more commonly referred to as The Bandera Archipelago, will not pay because it is skint, stony broke, destitute. So the EU has to pay for the Ukies to get free gas. Get used to it, European dunderheads and assorted unknowing sugar-daddies!! Ukraine is now – thanks entirely to western bungling, incompetence and pure human fuckery – a helpless yearning mouth to feed, a welfare bum writ nearly 40 million large.

      But this is a positive sign. Sure, if you’ve been smoking your vegetables instead of eating them. I guess delusion still prevails in Europe that somehow Russia is going to help them wrench Ukraine into the western orbit.

  14. et Al says:

    When I bang on about Russia getting serious about tourism in some of the most stunning places on offer, this is the sort of thing I mean:

    Los Angeles Times via Russia Insider: Surfin’ Kamchatka: On a Chilly Beach in Russia, an Unlikely Surf Culture Takes Root


    Follow the link. It is worth it!

  15. Warren says:

    Published on 25 Sep 2015
    Last month, in an unusual attack on the Russian president, Rubio called Putin a “gangster”.
    “Russia is governed today by a gangster. He’s basically an organized crime figure who controls a government and a large territory,” the White House contender said during a foreign policy speech in South Carolina on August 28.

    • kirill says:

      Coming from maggots who called Khodorkovsky, an actual criminal gangster with dozens of corpses to his name, a dissident here these words have no meaning.

    • marknesop says:

      This morning, in an unusual attack on the Cubano American presidential hopeful, Putin called Rubio a “vegetable”.

      “Marco Rubio is a cabbage. He is apparently turning into a tree, starting from the head down, as his head is woody from core samples and resonant when thumped. Fortunately he is trailing so far back in the polls that he could be running against a tortilla which bears a burn mark that looks like Jesus and still be losing” the Russian president said as he was slipping into his new mohair-and-crocodile-skin track suit in preparation for his workout with Medvedev.

    • yalensis says:

      In a related interview, “Deep Blue” the chess-playing computer, reminisced about the time he wiped the floor with Garry’s shiny heiny:
      “I couldn’t believe it when that a**hole actually accused me of cheating. Me, a digital computer! Produced by IBM, the most honest and reputable company in the world! In reality, HE was the one who cheated. That guy Kasparov is a charlatan AND a gangster. And you can quote me on that,” Blue concluded his angry rant.

    • ucgsblog says:

      He got something right. Russia’s a large territory 😛

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    Yet another cute appearance of an innocent in the dock:

    My, how she’s changed whilst being held on remand!

  17. Warren says:

    Published on 25 Sep 2015
    An anti-Russian propaganda channel in Russian-language is preparing for launch in Estonia.
    Estonia says it hopes the channel will tempt the country’s large Russian-speaking minority to tune in to locally produced, rather than Russian-owned, news programming.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Estonia shits all over its Russians and then thinks it can bullshit them into not noticing?

      Fuck all Estonians. I’m glad they’re dying out, and it can’t happen soon enough.

      • Cortes says:

        The eyes are eloquent enough.

      • Drutten says:

        Same goes for the other Baltic states. However, this is definitely not something new. I visited these countries not long ago and was positively flabbergasted by the amount of anti-Russian propaganda in Russian everywhere. Literally every newsstand had dozens of local newspapers spewing bile over everything Russian, in Russian. I assume it’s part of the integration process – we’ll possibly grant you lot the ordinary rights of our ethnically pure citizens once you’re properly tuned in. Or something…

        Last place I visited was Latvia and there I found myself using my terrible Russian way more than English. Both in the capital of Riga and on the countryside. Clearly it is de facto the second language of the country and oftentimes excels the first one. Yet, no public information was available in Russian anywhere (only in Latvian) and literally no ordinary media etc was in Russian. Russophones in Latvia have no choice but to ditch their mother tongue, which is basically what the anti-Russian, Russian-language newspapers continuously encourage them to do anyway. Oh, and everything even remotely reminiscent of the USSR was outright banned (similar to Ukraine now, so if you’re a WW2 vet don’t bother honoring your fallen brethren or displaying any medals you may have received).

        • Fern says:

          I see that Lithuania’s president, Dalia Gobshite, is going to propose at the upcoming UN meeting that the permanent members of the UNSC be stripped of their veto rights in ‘extreme’ circumstances. Who, of course, defines these is left a little vague. Say what you like about these US assets, they certainly provide value for money.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, I’ve seen several references to this, and although it is plain it is targeted against Russia, where they appear to be going with it is that no member be allowed to veto an humanitarian intervention. Now, we all know the USA cloaks many of its regime-change projects in humanitarian-intervention terms – Power wrote the Responsibility to Protect doctrine specifically to get around the UN vote. This is something the USA has been pressing for for quite some time – an international organization to give its meddling the imprimatur of legitimacy, but which would be helpless to stand against its will when it felt that using military power was the only option which would let it get its way. Then it would wheel out another “humanitarian intervention”, and members might bleat as much as they liked but it would always pass because the United States and its repulsive toadies would vote for it, nobody would be allowed to veto it, bada-bing bada-boom, carried.

            I doubt very much this motion will be entertained – but just for fun, what if it is, and it passes? Will Russia leave the UN? If it does, will China pull out as well? Will the threat to do so be enough to stop the USA, which now has the bit in its teeth, from getting its way? So far, Russia has been able to deftly outmaneuver the USA, and it plainly does not like its clumsy lunges being balked. So it does what it always does in such circumstances – moves the goalposts.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Who is their advisor – Lucas?

    • Oddlots says:

      I applaud UT’s honesty in titling this.

  18. marknesop says:

    Kiev professes itself “satisfied” with the gas price negotiated in the deal, in which the fact that Ukraine’s gas supply will be entirely paid for by Europe is spun as a victory for Naftogaz and Demchysin personally, after he wrestled Russia into submission and made them drop their prices.

    “As customers, we’re interested in a lower price”. Dear God, you could laugh until you died. As customers who have to beg our boss for money because we’re broke, we’re interested in at least the appearance of being in control of something. Anything.

  19. Warren says:

    • et Al says:

      A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people’s visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

      Other websites listed as “sources” of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and sites operated by the broadcasters CNN, BBC, and the U.K.’s Channel 4.

      …A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people’s visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

      Other websites listed as “sources” of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and sites operated by the broadcasters CNN, BBC, and the U.K.’s Channel 4…

      And I bet the Guardian too as it is ‘the world’s most widely read new site’. They probably keep automatic tabs on this site considering how it has grown over the last couple of years.

      I do wonder though, with all those stories about those thousands of Kremlin controlled Russian trolls on British news websites, whether some of this comes from carefully massaged data from GCHQ through third parties to the Pork Pie News Networks via ‘unnamed sources’, i.e. the usual bollox.

      May I suggest to fellow commenters here, if at any point you loose your smart phone (etc.) just call GCHQ and they’ll tell you where you left it. I wonder if they provide a data back up service?!

      • et Al says:

        …The agency operates a bewildering array of other eavesdropping systems, each serving its own specific purpose and designated a unique code name, such as: …and INFINITE MONKEYS, which analyzes data about the usage of online bulletin boards and forums…

        …Authorization is “not needed for individuals in the U.K.,” another GCHQ document explains, because metadata has been judged “less intrusive than communications content.” All the spies are required to do to mine the metadata troves is write a short “justification” or “reason” for each search they conduct and then click a button on their computer screen…

        …When compared to surveillance rules in place in the U.S., GCHQ notes in one document that the U.K. has “a light oversight regime.”

        The more lax British spying regulations are reflected in secret internal rules that highlight greater restrictions on how NSA databases can be accessed. The NSA’s troves can be searched for data on British citizens, one document states, but they cannot be mined for information about Americans or other citizens from countries in the Five Eyes alliance….

        It’s just what is expected from the junior in the US/UK relationship. For the UK to retain privileged access to the US’ global spy network, it needs to give the US what it wants, a way to circumvent the US’ own laws. Dial back to when Gary Powers & his U-2 were shot down over the Soviet Union. All subsequent overflights by US manned and operated aircraft were prohibited, so, the US used British pilots and Canberras.

        Once you understand the relationship and the goals that they have, you can work backwards and make fairly good conclusions about what tools would be required and used to get to those conclusions and try not think whether they are legal or not. What people can do to protect themselves is a) don’t change most of your digital habits (as this would raise a flag); b) just don’t do or say obvious things that you wouldn’t do in real life in your digital life; c) use encryption such as PGP for email and products using perfect forward secrecy for chat/etc.; d) don’t write about what not to do on the Internet as I have just done! 😉

        The most disturbing thing about it all is that it puts us one step away from a totalitarian system. All that is required is a political decision. All the tools are in place and depending on how much information they have actually kept they can dip in to it at any time throughout your life as a rich source of blackmail, probably via third parties. It’s not exactly threatening to send you to a concentration camp (or disappeared to one of Britain’s (and others) many small overseas territories, but it is total control.

        If the European economy completely crashes and mass instability ensues (or whatever), then the politicians will be told, or even ask, “What tools do we have to control this?”.
        Forget about ‘checks and balances’ – they’re the first thing to be thrown out of the window in an emergency. Arbeit macht frei!

        • et Al says:

          This should be a massive story as the parliamentary security committee gave the intelligence services a ‘clean bill of health’ not so long ago.

          Since then, they’ve lost intelligence ‘yes man’ Malcolm Rifkind to an expenses scandal so the make up of the committee has changed a bit.

          What it does show is that we cannot even trust the gatekeepers (above) who are give very limited info from the security services.

          And let us not forget the dates that this occurred under a Labor administration and continued under a Conservative-Liberal Democrat and now a Conservative one.

          It will be interesting to see if this story gains any traction, though I suspect that it will be much bigger outside of the UK, at least initially,

          The cat is, again, out of the bag!

          • marknesop says:

            GCHQ and the CIA are in bed with one another, and have been for years. This might be a timely occasion to mention once again that both are capable of hacking into smartphones by all leading manufacturers; in the case of the IPhone the CIA uses a program application called Dropout Jeep.

            We can thank Edward Snowden for that; the NSA spying scandal revealed a great deal more than just the information the CIA is snooping on your phone calls and collecting information on everyone. As the second reference relates, the CIA also diverted laptops ordered online so that government spyware could be installed on them. Intelligence agencies are determined that citizens shall have no privacy whatsoever. You might as well assume they are watching everything you do and listening to everything you say. Give the window the finger at random times just in case, and slip embarrassing revelations on the sexual proclivities of intelligence agents into your telephone conversations.

            Canada’s Blackberry was once safe, but GCHQ broke that. So now there is no smartphone that is private, except maybe for Russia’s YotaPhone. Probably not that either, though, since it is sold in the USA, and if they couldn’t break into the phone they would just hack the carrier. And the Canadian government bought all of its Secure Telephone Units (STU) from the NSA, so say no more about the “security” of those.

            A few companies, like Silent Circle, pitch a privacy phone like the Blackphone, but it originates in the USA and everyone’s paranoia has become so acute that the instant suspicion is they are telling you it is more private just because it is wired straight to the NSA. You can’t believe anyone any more.

  20. Warren says:

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      The BBC really should be treated as a terrorist organisation – or at least accorded the legal status of a paedophile ring.

      • Warren says:

        The BBC serves the British state, its mission is to disseminate propaganda that serves interests of the British state – it is a state broadcaster after all!

    • kirill says:

      So we are back to the tired rape trope. Where are the German abortion and murder records to prove that there 2 million rapes? I can claim the moon is made of green cheese but without any actual evidence it means nothing.

      • Fern says:

        During the Balkan wars of the 1990’s both the Croatians and the Bosnian muslims, but not the Serbs, hired US public relations firms to ‘manage’ public perceptions of their activities. A guy who was a head honchos one of these PR firms was asked what aspects of the media campaigns he was most proud of and he replied that it was getting the influential Jewish lobby onside in the demonisation of the Serbs.

        Things have moved on a little since then and there are now three important lobbies any public perception manager needs to get onboard. Firstly, there’s still the Jewish lobby attested to by the great effort undertaken to pin a gas attack on Bashar al-Assad. Any such attack, of course, is Auschwitz redux and guarantees a compulsion to act by the ‘international community’. Secondly, there’s the women’s movement hence the enormous effort that been put into establishing that Public Enemies (Serbs, Gaddafi etc) use rape systemically, as a weapon of war. And thirdly, there’s the LGBT lobby which is a comparatively new kid on the block but did sterling service in Sochi.

        I see the constant identification of Soviet soldiers with rape and other atrocities as part of this perception management culture. It reinforces a meme that is becoming increasingly common – the conflation of Nazism and Communism – the Nazi war machine and those who destroyed it are as bad as one another. And if the Soviets are exclusively identified with rape, they become uniquely bad in modern eyes. And if the Soviets are bad, well, the Russians are too.

        The reality is that rape, like other lawlessness, is an inevitable consequence of war and that all soldiers, Americans, British, French, German, Russians, committed these crimes. It’s why the Nuremburg judgements call the waging of aggressive war the supreme international crime that contains within it all the other lesser crimes – like rape – that invariably follow. Angelina Jolie is probably a sincere woman but if she wants to stop rape in war, she needs to stop war.

        • kirill says:

          That is quite right. It is all about smear. But the claim of 2 million rapes is a gross exaggeration that has not a shred of evidence to back it up. The true figure is not even 10 time less, it is likely to be around 100 times less and in the same range as the western allies.

          Given the mass murder of civilians perpetrated by the Nazis, not collateral damage but actual rounding up and shooting or burning villagers in their own homes, why were the Soviet soldiers only worried about rape? If they were seeking revenge they would have been burning Germans alive. I have not heard of a single such instance. So the rape story is utter BS.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Very well said.

        • et Al says:

          During the Balkan wars of the 1990’s both the Croatians and the Bosnian muslims, but not the Serbs, hired US public relations firms to ‘manage’ public perceptions of their activities.

          The Serbs did hire a PR firm, but it was squeezed and ultimately forced to drop the account. The name of the firm escapes me…

          For bosnia, look up James Harff and Ruder-Finn & Knowlton bosnia or look here:

          The UK peer Dame Anne Warburton (Warburton II report)* lead an ‘investigation’ in to Bosnian war rapes in 1992 that had to speculate the actual number of war rapes to date but found very little evidence to back up the numbers claimed by the media.

          This letter to the editor is quite succinct (goes straight to pdf):

          * “…However, on the basis of its investigations, the Mission accepts that it is possible to speak in terms of many thousands. Estimates vary widely, ranging from 10,000 to as many as 60,000. The most reasoned estimates suggested to the Mission place the number of victims at around 20,000.”

          • marknesop says:

            Hill & Knowlton is also the PR Firm that managed the Iraq War for Kuwait, and coached the fake “Kuwaiti nurse” (actually the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter) in her “Saddam’s animals ripped babies out of incubators” story. Worked like a charm. No truth to it at all, though. To me, that stands exemplary of the modern western spin-management technique – sit down as a team and figure out what it would take to get the public on your side. Then invent a situation where that happened.

      • Cortes says:

        No wish to trivialise but attitudes have changed towards Russian/Soviet reactions towards Germans in the UK at least since the mid 1960s. The “Russian linesman ” is a hero in England to this day.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          He fevvered Joe Stalin a bit though, didn’t he?

          He wasn’t Russian anyway – in the sense of being russkiy, namely an ethnic Eastern Slav of the Russian clan: he was a citizen of the Soviet Union, an Azeri born in the Transcaucasian Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

          His name was Tofiq Bahramov.

          I reckon the Germans wuz robbed.

  21. Warren says:

  22. Warren says:

  23. marknesop says:

    Ha, ha, ha!! If you were thinking “Nord Stream II in Ukrainian Perspective” could be summarized as “Wahhhh!!! I Went Crazy And Now Russia Won’t Talk To Me!” crackpottery, you would be right.

    Standout points are (1) Raising transit fees is normal procedure when transit volumes drop, and (2) Ukraine’s transit system will register a net loss if transit drops below 40 BCm a year. The volume in 2015, while Ukraine is still being used as a transit country, is expected to top out at 51 BCm.

    I would say the writing is on the wall there, and the message does not…ummm…look positive for Ukraine. You pissed in the pickles one time too often. Notably, however, although some of the reduced transit volume is due to Europe taking less gas, a stronger limiting factor is more gas being sent through Nord Stream. You can see why Europe was desperate to stop South Stream, and why it is now trying out a tough-guy approach as if it can force Russia to continue using Ukraine as a transit country, to a background of despairing wails from Ukraine.

  24. chios-tears says:

    he, guys, your site is a havre de paix for us here in the hell of the so called centre of of europe, with, for me ridiculous but real invisible borders between where i live and the next “town’, which is at a distance of ten kilimetrs, imossible continue communication…
    if interested, i go on ,
    otherwise, just censor me

    • chios-tears says:

      a relief, rather, just mourir de rire , having been absent for some time from the russia europe conflict, and more focused on the two abandoned and despised of my europe, which are greece, which i dont know, and portugal, who is i dont know if first or second country;
      so please go on, telling us what happens, there from vancouver or toronto or jens i dont know where

      TOI QUI pâlis au nom de VANCOUVER

      is one of the few verses i allways liked to repeat and repeat iin my mind

  25. Patient Observer says:

    “The initial Block 1 configuration of SLS will stand 322 feet tall, higher than the Statue of Liberty. It will produce 8.4 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the equivalent of 13,400 locomotive engines, and be capable of carrying 154,000 pounds of payload, about the same as 12 fully grown elephants.”

    The above passes for a typical science/technology article – units of measure expressed in “human terms” like number of elephants although the connection between thrust and number of locomotives is obscure (626 pounds of thrust per locomotive?). I think that it would be more helpful to express weight in the number of SUVs, land area in the number of Manhattans, power in the number of lawn mower engines and speed relative to Olympic sprinters.

    Articles on astronomy anthropomorphize stars (the ones in space, no, wait, balls of plasma heated by nuclear fusion) such as “Angry stars threaten peaceful planets” or “Black holes make bad neighbors”. And it seems to be worst every year.

    • chios-tears says:

      I understand perfectly what you say.
      Had recently to negiciate an diner invitation between a “local” cousine and my brither.
      The one is a nurse, and my brother works in geo magnetics.

      My brother I will phone her immediately…
      Me, c’est quoi, immediatement
      My brother: quelques jours.

      The cousin.J a dit 13 heures. I am afraid of being late, it is a place I have never been before, I am afraid to get lost and to arrive late…
      Me; but you have a GPS?
      Cousin, but I want to be sure of the way.

      Relativity is not such a complcated concept, or so I feel it.
      Time, distance power, is only “in the eye of the beholder”

      Now it seems, is a highly abnormal time where “unbalances or mere oscillations, are amplified and escalated and give such an impressionof “abnormality” or more frankly “emotionally colored” absurdity.

      Unhappily, as comical as it may sometimes seem, bvlood is spilled,
      Good blood versus bad blood.

      Ne te fais pas de “mauvais sang” pour ça, used in french, foor me tells what it is really about.

    • Jen says:

      I sometimes wish some human stars could be heated by nuclear fusion into hydrogen gas. At least the spectacle would be truly spectacular, all the more so because it would be a true boost for their careers. And then it would be all over!

      Start with Bono and U2.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Bono is a supernova of self-importance seeding the cosmos with radioactive ego fragments.

      • marknesop says:

        Ha, ha!!! I can’t completely agree with your choice, since I see them only musically rather than politically or through the filter of their avarice or moral superiority or whatever, but the concept is brilliant! I wonder how much gas Justin Bieber would generate? In fact, you could take pretty much the whole crop of today’s cutting-edge stars, Taylor Swift and the lot, and make something useful of them. Leave Meghan Trainor alone, though – I rather like her.

  26. Patient Observer says:
  27. Oddlots says:

    This is kind of interesting as Mearshimer comes to conclusions I’m sure most here would agree with but also some opinions that would seem ludicrous. According to him Putin’s strategy is to wreck Ukraine… If that’s the case he’s got a lot of competition from the EU, U.S. and NATO and would be wasting his efforts as the former seem entirely capable of achieving the goal without any further assistance:

    • james says:

      it looks like mearshimer has some whacked out ideas on the topic of ukraine, but he is bang on with others.. i would be curious to know what he thinks a year later.. this article and interview is over a year old.. last sentence he makes in the article is sad to read as we can see now the choice that eu and the usa have made..
      “The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process — a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.”

    • Cortes says:

      Fascinating stuff. Thanks for posting. Wonderful to see the winner mentality bite the USA establishment on the arse – the subtext of “if we’re serious about defeating ISIS how come ISIS is winning ?” Said establishment can only do as others pointed to in earlier posts: redefine ISIS as clowns for other clowns to deal with. But in their hearts and minds they KNOW.

      • yalensis says:

        A good comic-book writer would not create a super-villain who could NEVER be defeated by the good guys. What would be the point?
        And yet, that is what these chump script-writers on CIA payroll did, when they created ISIS.
        What were they thinking??

        • kirill says:

          They are of the chaos school. Start a fire and see where the ashes fall. But this philosophy is at best a 50% hack: you spread destruction to your “enemies” but you don’t actually create anything useful. Reality indicates that the useful part does not spontaneously emerge from the ashes.

        • marknesop says:

          Nice to see you back, Yalensis! Your blog looks to be doing well, I like your content.

          • yalensis says:

            Thanks, Mark! My next piece will probably be about cute animals.

            Speaking of animals: I was browsing the internet looking at that story about the American General who was threatening to go to war against Russia, if only the Americans could build better radios. And on the same page there was one of those things where you click on something to get a sensationalistic video. And the vid was called: “Python swallows Porcupine Whole and Dies.”

            It seemed so … apropos…

            • Jen says:

              To be followed by Burmese Python in Florida Everglades swallows Alligator and Dies Because Alligator splits its Stomach Open.

              Even more apropos when combined with the python swallowing the porcupine.

              Right up there in bizarreness alongside the old 1982 story of the Arizona redneck who pumped a saguaro cactus full of bullets and then walked up to it when nothing happened … only for the plant to fall right on top of him!

            • Jen says:

              The story about the cat that was caught in the frozen foods section of the Vladivostok supermarket and ended up as mascot for an ice hockey team was a good one.

            • Fern says:

              yalensis – what a nice surprise, you’re back! I also really like your blog. In fact, I’ve been meaning to post a link to a Global Research article on one of your posts – they’ve picked up on that very interesting story about the role Twitter has played in the mass movement of refugees and how the overwhelming majority of the Twitter sites (not a Twitter user so probably wrong terminology) urging migrants to head to Germany don’t originate in Germany but in the US and UK. So, you know, who’s driving this mass movement of people? You’ve only been blogging for a short time yet you’ve already scooped one of the major alternative players!

              • yalensis says:

                Thanks, Fern! I’m glad you like my new blog. Please do comment and post links there.
                I’m surprised that Twitter story seemed to grow some legs, I actually got a couple of pingbacks on that one. If I had known that it was important, I probably would have translated more of the original, or done more research. But it basically says what it says.

                Like you, I do not use Twitter myself. I can’t even figure out how it works. But I try, because I am a huge fan of “Nedoukrainka” (=Valentina Lisitsa), who uses Twitter as her main weaponry against the heathens.

              • marknesop says:

                All of the major alternative players, looks like, except for the original. Well done, I didn’t see that but it might fit well in my next post.

        • Jen says:

          But, but, but … Superman’s been fighting Lex Luthor and the planet Apokolips (led by Darkseid) forever and Batman’s been fighting the Joker forever!

          Superman can never defeat Lex Luthor because, for all his physical strength and special powers his Kryptonian DNA derives from our sun, Lex Luthor’s power derives from American capitalism itself which he exploits to the full for his own benefit. (For those who don’t follow Superman’s adventures in the comics since DC Comics’ first major reboot of its titles in 1985 – and I admit I don’t read them myself, I only know because I was collecting Wonder Woman comics for a brief time in the late 1980s when George Perez was writing the stories for that character – Lex Luthor has been a corporate mogul. I’m not sure but I think he also bought The Daily Planet some time in the last decade.)

          Superman can never defeat Darkseid because Darkseid has such telepathic power over his armies that they can never physically die but just keep on fighting. Plus Darkseid can afford to lose a few battles as long as he continues to rule an entire universe (outside our own).

          Batman can never defeat the Joker because of a moral paradox: the only way he can defeat the Joker would be to kill him but then at the moment of the Joker’s death, the Joker will have won – because by killing him, Batman demonstrates that he is no less psychopathic than the Joker. The Joker knows this as well, and this knowledge gives him an advantage that Bruce Wayne’s wealth and the technology created by Wayne Industries can’t overcome.

          • yalensis says:

            This is all too true. And Doctor Who cannot ever seem to fully defeat The Master, who had a sex-change and is now The Mistress (aka “Missy”).
            Every time you think this villian is dead, he she or it keeps poppin’ up again!
            (Poppin’ – get it?)

      • Patient Observer says:
      • marknesop says:

        What will make it irrefutable will be if ISIS’ gains reverse in the next couple of weeks and they are inexorably pushed back thereafter, or fragment and run for the hills. It will be plain they had an easy time of it under Uncle Sam’s “bombardment”, and the it was not until the Russians arrived that they faced any kind of threat. Importantly, not from Russia directly, but from the government forces, who were being held back from doing their job by uninvited interlopers. For the rest of the equation, whether the NATO forces were deliberately helping ISIS to advance – which I personally believe to be the case – or are simply incompetent is a matter of conjecture. Neither one looks good.

  28. Russia frees the Estonian agent Kohver and gives another gas discount for Ukraine at the same day. I think these gestures of goodwill are because of the upcoming UN meeting in New York.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Naw, just more signs of weakness. Or, simply a continuation of the successful strategy of taking the moral high ground while the West wallows in lies and failure.

      • marknesop says:

        Frank- Walter Steinmeier described as “remarkable” the other day that Russia would provide a gas discount to Ukraine – although not as low as they wanted – considering the way Kiev vilifies Russia non-stop. It’s not as if nobody notices, and if Russia could swap Germany for Ukraine it would be one hell of a deal. I bet few people would be saying how weak Russia is then.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Almost forgot! How do you like them weak Russians in Syria? What a bunch of losers! (oh, turns our the Kohver release was a spy swap per the post below but you know, it is still somehow a sign of weakness or misplaced good will, right?)

      Or, the Russians have again acted with surgical precision and intelligence. They are masters of maneuver diplomacy and appropriate use of military force. True, they must contend with hate and ignorance by hundreds of millions ego-choked brain-dead zombies created by the Vatican/Anglo/Zion empire, but, hey, who said it would be easy?

  29. Warren says:

    Russia and Estonia ‘exchange spies’ after Kohver row

    Russia and Estonia have exchanged two convicted spies over a bridge separating the countries.
    Estonian security official Eston Kohver was sentenced to 15 years in a Russian jail last month.
    He was swapped for Aleksei Dressen, who was imprisoned in Estonia in 2012 on charges of spying for Moscow.

    Kohver’s case provoked a diplomatic row, with Estonia and the EU insisting he was abducted from Estonian soil, a charge Russia denied.

    Dressen was a former officer in Estonia’s security police, who was found guilty of passing secret data to Russia for years after Estonia’s independence in 1991.

    He had been arrested in 2012 along with his wife, Victoria Dressen, who was given a suspended sentence.

    According to the Russian Federal Security Service, the swap took place on a bridge over the Piusa River that separates Russia’s western Pskov region and Estonia’s Polva county.

    The exchange came after “long-term negotiations”, the head of Estonia’s Internal Security Service, Arnold Sinisalu said at a televised news conference, sitting alongside Kohver.

    The Estonian agent said he was glad to be back home and thanked “all the authorities who helped me get back to Estonia, who helped me to, so to say, endure in prison”.

    Relations between Russia and its Baltic neighbours have been uneasy since they joined Nato and the European Union in 2004.

    They have worsened since the crisis in Ukraine, where Russia is accused of arming separatists in the east – which Moscow denies.

    • Warren says:

      • Drutten says:

        Totally non-spy, mere “policeman” Kohver exchanged after secret high-level negotiations for totally non-spy Dressen, I take it? Ha-ha!

        And as usual, RFERL does not mention that Kohver admitted guilt. Nor do they mention that mere “filmmaker” Sentsov was turned in by his accomplice, mere “civil activist” Kolchenko, as the latter provided the FSB with all their drawn-up plans, cached weapons and explosive materials.

        It’s incredible that they can spin this stuff so shamelessly and get away with it.

    • et Al says:

      This stood out for me:

      I’d like to turn to the origins of the Cold War, since I believe we are never going to get anywhere until these are honestly confronted. You give a forceful account of Stalin’s reasons for avoiding confrontation after 1945 and Washington’s reasons for not doing so. But should we attribute the outbreak of the Cold War to the U.S. without too much in the way of qualification?

      We can look at the onset of the Cold War on two levels. One is that of punctual events. There, you are certainly right to pick out the ideological starting gun as Truman’s speech on Greece in 1947, designed the “scare hell” out of voters to win acceptance for military aid to the Greek monarchy. In policy terms, however, the critical act that set the stage for confrontation with Moscow was the flat American refusal to allow any serious reparations for the staggering level of destruction Russia suffered from the German attack on it. The most developed third of the country was laid waste, its industry and its cities wrecked, while Americans suffered not a fly on the wrist at home—basking, on the contrary, in a massive economic boom. There was no issue Stalin spoke more insistently about than reparations in negotiations among the Allies. But once the fighting was over, the U.S. reneged on wartime promises and vetoed reparations from the larger part of Germany—far the richest and most developed, and occupied by the West—because it did not want to strengthen the Soviet Union and did want to rebuild the Ruhr as an industrial base under Western control, with a view to creating what would subsequently become the Federal Republic.

      • Oddlots says:

        Agreed. I also think he helpfully callobrates the loss of European independence…

        [Speaking of the era of De Gaulle, Adenauer and Eden] “Since then, there has been nobody like this. If we ask why, I think the answer is that all these people were formed before the First and Second World Wars broke out, in a period in which major European states had as much weight as the United States on the international checkerboard, if not more. They were not brought up in a world where American hegemony was taken for granted. All of them were involved in the two World Wars, and in the Second De Gaulle had good reason to be distrustful of the U.S., since Roosevelt was long pro-Vichy and wanted to oust him as leader of the Free French.

        We could add, incidentally, a couple of later politicians, who fought in the second conflict. One was the English Tory prime minister, Edward Heath, the only postwar ruler of Britain who never made the trip to simper on the White House lawn, receiving an audience and paying tribute, that would become a virtual ceremony of investiture for any new ruler around the world. The other was Helmut Schmidt, a veteran of Operation Barbarossa [the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941] who scarcely concealed his disdain for Carter. These were latecomers from the past. Their successors have grown up under U.S. paramountcy and take it for granted. This is America’s world. It is second nature for them to defer to it.”

        He also exposes that the crop that followed made a show of independence but toed the line:

        “During the countdown to the war in Iraq, there were large street demonstrations in not a few countries, which Dominique Strauss-Kahn—no less—described as a European Declaration of Independence. Schröder [Gerhard, the German chancellor from 1998—2005] announced that Germany could not accept the war, and Chirac [Jacques, the French president, 1995—2007] blocked a U.N. resolution endorsing it. Were these bold acts of independence? Far from it. The French envoy in Washington told Bush in advance: You already have one U.N. resolution saying Saddam must comply with inspections, which is suitably vague. Don’t embarrass us by trying to get another resolution that is more specific, which we’ll have to oppose. Just use that one and go in. No sooner, indeed, was the attack launched than Chirac opened French skies to U.S. operations against Iraq. Can you imagine De Gaulle meekly helping a war he had said he opposed? As for Schröder, it was soon revealed that German intelligence agents in Baghdad had signaled ground targets for “Shock and Awe.” These were politicians who knew the war was very unpopular in domestic opinion, and so made a show of opposing it while actually collaborating. Their independence was a comedy.”

        This last part was news to me.

        • Special_sauce says:

          Reminds me of the second book of the Iliad: Agamemnon is tricked by a false dream into believing he can take Troy with one last assault so he convenes a meeting of his generals and tells them the great news. Then he says, Look, I’ll harangue the troops to make one last assault, but you guys make a show of dissuading me. Then I’ll look like a big hero after Troy falls and we can all go home.

          • yalensis says:

            Agamemnon engages in double bluff: By urging the Argives to give up and go home; by thus doing, he and Odysseus hope to flush out the cowards and nay-sayers among the officers and men. Either they lose their bluff; or Agamemnon’s authority is re-asserted.

            ὅν τινα μὲν βασιλῆα καὶ ἔξοχον ἄνδρα κιχείη
            τὸν δ’ ἀγανοῖς ἐπέεσσιν ἐρητύσασκε παραστάς:
            δαιμόνι’ οὔ σε ἔοικε κακὸν ὣς δειδίσσεσθαι,
            ἀλλ’ αὐτός τε κάθησο καὶ ἄλλους ἵδρυε λαούς:
            οὐ γάρ πω σάφα οἶσθ’ οἷος νόος Ἀτρεί̈ωνος:
            νῦν μὲν πειρᾶται, τάχα δ’ ἴψεται υἷας Ἀχαιῶν.
            ἐν βουλῇ δ’ οὐ πάντες ἀκούσαμεν οἷον ἔειπε.
            μή τι χολωσάμενος ῥέξῃ κακὸν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν:
            θυμὸς δὲ μέγας ἐστὶ διοτρεφέων βασιλήων,
            τιμὴ δ’ ἐκ Διός ἐστι, φιλεῖ δέ ἑ μητίετα Ζεύς.
            ὃν δ’ αὖ δήμου τ’ ἄνδρα ἴδοι βοόωντά τ’ ἐφεύροι,
            τὸν σκήπτρῳ ἐλάσασκεν ὁμοκλήσασκέ τε μύθῳ:
            δαιμόνι’ ἀτρέμας ἧσο καὶ ἄλλων μῦθον ἄκουε,
            οἳ σέο φέρτεροί εἰσι, σὺ δ’ ἀπτόλεμος καὶ ἄναλκις
            οὔτέ ποτ’ ἐν πολέμῳ ἐναρίθμιος οὔτ’ ἐνὶ βουλῇ:
            οὐ μέν πως πάντες βασιλεύσομεν ἐνθάδ’ Ἀχαιοί:
            οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη: εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,
            εἷς βασιλεύς, ᾧ δῶκε Κρόνου πάϊς ἀγκυλομήτεω
            σκῆπτρόν τ’ ἠδὲ θέμιστας, ἵνά σφισι βουλεύῃσι.

            [As the Argives are voting with their feet by heading for their ships]:

            When he came upon men of birth or rank, he (Odysseus) would try to halt them with gentle words, saying: ‘It would be wrong to threaten you, sir, like some common coward, but be seated and make your followers do the same. You cannot see clear into Agamemnon’s mind; he is testing us, but soon he will blast the sons of Achaea with his anger. Did you not hear what he said in council? Take care he does not harm the men, for kings are nurtured by Zeus, and proud of heart; from Zeus their honour comes, and Zeus loves them, Zeus, the god of counsel.’

            But when he came upon some common soldier shouting, he drove him back with the sceptre and rebuked him: ‘Sit, man, and hear the words of better men than you; you are weak and lack courage, worthless in war or counsel. All cannot play the king, and a host of leaders is no wise thing. Let us have but the one leader, the one true king, to whom Zeus, the son of Cronos of wily counsel, gave sceptre and command, to rule his people wisely.’

            • Special_sauce says:

              Eis corainos esto! One king let there be. What a line, and true. There can only be one power, one party leading the people and carrying through their will. Anything else is confusion.

            • Oddlots says:

              Jesus, I think I read the Iliad three times in different courses in university. There’s a dog-eared copy somewhere on my shelves. I don’t remember ever registering that bit of political wisdom.

              • Special_sauce says:

                It’s full of gems. One of my favourites is where Agammenon rounds on Achilles: Just because the immortal gods made of you a great warrior doesn’t mean they gave you the right to spread slander! In English it’s a banal commonplace; declaimed in the original hexameters it’s like a roller coaster ride through your brain.

                • yalensis says:

                  This passage?

                  τὸν δ’ ἠμείβετ’ ἔπειτα ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Ἀγαμέμνων:
                  φεῦγε μάλ’ εἴ τοι θυμὸς ἐπέσσυται, οὐδέ σ’ ἔγωγε
                  λίσσομαι εἵνεκ’ ἐμεῖο μένειν: πάρ’ ἔμοιγε καὶ ἄλλοι
                  οἵ κέ με τιμήσουσι, μάλιστα δὲ μητίετα Ζεύς.
                  ἔχθιστος δέ μοί ἐσσι διοτρεφέων βασιλήων:
                  αἰεὶ γάρ τοι ἔρις τε φίλη πόλεμοί τε μάχαι τε:
                  εἰ μάλα καρτερός ἐσσι, θεός που σοὶ τό γ’ ἔδωκεν:
                  οἴκαδ’ ἰὼν σὺν νηυσί τε σῇς καὶ σοῖς ἑτάροισι
                  Μυρμιδόνεσσιν ἄνασσε, σέθεν δ’ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἀλεγίζω,
                  οὐδ’ ὄθομαι κοτέοντος: ἀπειλήσω δέ τοι ὧδε:
                  ὡς ἔμ’ ἀφαιρεῖται Χρυσηί̈δα Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
                  τὴν μὲν ἐγὼ σὺν νηί̈ τ’ ἐμῇ καὶ ἐμοῖς ἑτάροισι
                  πέμψω, ἐγὼ δέ κ’ ἄγω Βρισηί̈δα καλλιπάρῃον
                  αὐτὸς ἰὼν κλισίην δὲ τὸ σὸν γέρας ὄφρ’ ἐὺ̈ εἰδῇς
                  ὅσσον φέρτερός εἰμι σέθεν, στυγέῃ δὲ καὶ ἄλλος
                  ἶσον ἐμοὶ φάσθαι καὶ ὁμοιωθήμεναι ἄντην.

                  Agamemnon, king of men, answered him then: ‘Be off, if your heart demands it; I’ll not beg your presence on my account. Others, who’ll honour me, are with me: Zeus, above all, the lord of counsel. Of all the god-beloved princes here you are most odious to me, since war, contention, strife are dear to you. If you are the greatest warrior, well, it was some god I think who granted it. Go home, with your ships and men, and lord it over the Myrmidons: I care naught for you, or your anger. And here’s my threat: since Phoebus Apollo robs me of Chryses’ daughter, a ship and crew of mine will return her, but I’ll pay your quarters a visit myself, and take that prize of yours, fair-faced Briseis, so that you know how my power exceeds yours, and so that others will think twice before claiming they’re my peers, and comparing themselves to me, face to face.’

                • yalensis says:

                  After orating which, a very angry King Agamemnon carried Achilles’ girlfriend out of the tent, taunting Achilles over his shoulder on the way out: “Who’s the pussy now? Drop and give me twenty, ya maggot!”

                • yalensis says:

                  P.P.S. – SPOILER ALERT!

                  Later, when Agamemnon finally arrives home, in Sparta, his wife, Queen Clytemnestra, totally murders him.

                • marknesop says:

                  Women are funny that way. You just never know what’s going to set them off.

                • Jen says:

                  Jumping ahead a bit, aren’t you, Yalensis?

                  There’s the bit where Patroclus is killed by Hector, and this puts Achilles into a dilemma where he has to choose between ignoring his duty to avenge Patroclus’ death (because they were rather close) and carrying out that duty by killing Hector which seals his own fate (because the predictions are that if he kills Hector, then his own life will end shortly after). Then of course his own death follows at the hands of Paris, a vastly inferior warrior and the original cause of all the trouble, and this throws the Greeks into a panic until Odysseus comes up with the idea of the wooden horse.

                  As I recall, the Iliad ends when King Priam risks his life to entreat Achilles for the return of Hector’s body after Achilles has mutilated it, in violation of social conventions governing the treatment of enemy soldiers killed in battle, and Achilles feels ashamed of what he has done and what he said previously (he wasn’t going to return the body) and allows Priam to take the body away for proper burial. At least Hector dies nobly; Achilles dies a shameful death by being shot in his weak spot without warning by Paris.

                  Then of course folks must know the whole story of the curse of King Pelops and how it afflicted three generations of his descendants (his sons Atreus and Thyestes, his grandsons Agamemnon, Menelaus and Aegisthus, and Agamemnon’s children Iphigeneia, Electra and Orestes) through cheating, cannibalism, incest, adultery, murder, vendetta and banishment. The curse is only lifted in Orestes’ generation.

                • yalensis says:

                  But you forgot the bit, where the Trojan Priest Laocoön tried to warn his people not to take the Wooden Horse into the city walls. The prophetess Cassandra backed him up on that one, warning direly, “Mark my words, if you bring the Horse, you’ll be sorry later.”

                  People might have listened, but then the God Neptune, who backed the Greek side in the war, caused a sea monster to come ashore and gobble up Laocoön and his two sons.
                  After which, the Trojan people wouldn’t listen to him any more, nor to Cassandra, and they brought the Horse into the city.
                  Later, Cassandra got to say, “I told you so,” just before stabbing herself in the throat.

                  Moral of the story:
                  If a sea monster eats your priest, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he was wrong.

                • marknesop says:

                  See, that’s why I don’t read that stuff; it’s just way too improbable. It’s like the movie “Firefox”, where Clint lands a sophisticated fighter jet on an ice floe. That would just never happen.

                • Special_sauce says:

                  I forgot, Atreides addresses one of the “wise counsellors” who always pop up in debates, not Achilles directly: “Ei de min” Literally “But If for him”. Can’t find the passage in Perseus. What is your source, Yalensis?

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Special Sauce:
                  If you google “Homer Iliad Unicode version”, you get a series of links, broken up by book.
                  For example Here is the link to Book I, for the Unicode Greek version.

                  For the English translation, I just used my own, I am a reknowned scholar of ancient languages – no, I’m just kidding, I think I used this one.
                  Or one similar to that. They break it up by Book and Verse, so you can match the translation back to the original, line by line.

                • Special_sauce says:

                  εἰ δέ μιν αἰχμητὴν ἔθεσαν θεοὶ αἰὲν ἐόντες 290
                  τοὔνεκά οἱ προθέουσιν ὀνείδεα μυθήσασθαι;

                  So the gods, who live forever, made him handy with a spear,
                  Did they grant him therefore also leave to spread slander?

                  Nice resource, let’s you scan the entire book. But Perseus has better tools. The greek(and you can set the fonts to SPIONIC, which is easier on the eyes IMHO(but you might have to install it)) is printed on the left, crib opposite(click “load” translation). Each word is clickable for translation, other instances etc. It even has a search tool, but you must know what the accents/breathings are first.

         Click Collections/Texts.

                • Jen says:

                  @ Yalensis: The story of Laocoön isn’t part of either the Iliad or the Odyssey but yes I had forgotten him.

                  Also there was a curse on Cassandra: Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy, hoping to persuade her to become his lover, but when she spurned him, he decreed that no-one should believe her prophecies. After the fall of Troy, Cassandra was captured and enslaved by Agamemnon. She warned him against returning home but (of course!) he refused to believe her and on their arrival at his palace they both ended up being killed by Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus who had usurped the throne.

            • Cortes says:


              Main entrance was on Agamemnon Street. Now almost as though it were a dream.

        • marknesop says:

          News to me, too. Mind you, back then I was less suspicious of European duplicity. In fact, I was quite pro-American until George W. Bush was elected, but I hated his stupid face on sight and from the moment he was confirmed by the Supreme Court, I was a political-news junkie. I followed the chronicles of power-grabbing by his government with horrified fascination, and suspected his motives in everything that his government did. It was jaw-dropping to me, the way Americans apparently could not see how they were being hoodwinked, and the relentless spinning that changed the target from Afghanistan to Iraq. I had Ahmed Chalabi’s number long before any of my American friends would hear a word against him, and many of them swallowed that we-want-to-help-the-poor-suffering-people-of-Iraq guff whole.

          But I mostly credited Europe with being able to see through the bullshit – except for Tony Blair, and he wasn’t stupid so much as he was venal – and believed the French especially when they tried to put the brakes on. De Villepin’s speech to the UN Security Council spelt out in grim detail what was going to happen, and he might have been reading from the postwar script, it was that accurate a reflection of what actually happened.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Many would argue that active planning began for the Cold War by the West after a Soviet victory was certain (circa early 1943). The initial phase may have been to maximize damage to the Soviet Union by delay of the invasion of France (a delay characterized by General Eisenhower as an act of betrayal) among other things. Another major indicator that the Cold War was in full bloom prior to the end of hostilities was the nuclear attack on Japan which was intended to evaluate the effects of nuclear explosions on civilian cities for a future attacks (i.e. Soviet cities) and a warning to the Soviet Union that the US will commit mass murder against defenseless civilians.

        The denial of reparations was yet another example that the West had nothing but hostility for the Soviets. Speaking of denials and breaking of promises, Vietnam was apparently promised reparations by the US but later reneged. Per Wikipedia:

        “Following the war, Hanoi pursued the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, initially in order to obtain US$3.3 billion in reconstruction aid, which President Richard M. Nixon had secretly promised after the Paris Agreement was signed in 1973. … Barely two months after Hanoi’s victory in 1975, Premier Pham Van Dong, speaking to the National Assembly, invited the United States to normalize relations with Vietnam and to honor its commitment to provide reconstruction funds. Representatives of two American banks—the Bank of America and First National City Bank—were invited to discuss trade possibilities, and American oil companies were informed that they were welcome to apply for concessions to search for oil in offshore Vietnamese waters.

        Washington neglected Dong’s call for normal relations, however, because it was predicated on reparations, and the Washington political climate in the wake of the war precluded the pursuit of such an outcome.”

        Most Americans have the delusion that the US is pure benevolence, an honorable country that is a moral example to the world. Gag me with a spoon.

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          The understanding was that Washington would pay that sum by way of reparation, and north Vietnam would release the remaining POWs whose existence neither party publicly admitted.

          The Vietnamese communists rightly suspected that Washington would try welch on any deal, so they kept these undisclosed prisoners as leverage.

          Pham Van Dong and his colleagues seem to have overestimated Washington’s concern for its own troops, because the reparations were never paid and the POWs were never released – a sordid episode that John Sidney McCain III has worked hard and played dirty to keep buried.

          Any American personnel attached to the Ukrainian military should take note of these facts and realise just how expendable they are – not only in pursuit of military objectives, but for the satisfaction of pointless spite.

        • marknesop says:

          At least everyone will eventually learn that a promise from the American president is of no value whatever if he will not let anyone else overhear him making it. We’ve been over and over the promise made to the Soviet Union in exchange for cooperation on the reunification of Germany – that NATO would advance no further eastward. There is no shortage of witnesses who say the promise was indeed made, but the American position since and now is that nobody is sure just what was said, everyone was kind of emotional and caught up in the moment and who knows what anyone might have…ahem…misunderstood. And in any case there is nothing in writing, and who would be such a sap as to accept a promise not in writing?

          Agreements with the United States have to made in contract form, with witnesses and legal advisers and signatures, airtight enough that if a promise for reparations were reneged upon, the wronged nation would be entitled to just go ahead and recover them from U.S. assets. The USA itself is never shy about freezing other countries’ assets and just helping itself, often handing over frozen assets to the opposition movement it has selected so it can buy itself some popularity.

    • marknesop says:

      Gazprom is accused of manipulating prices so that they favour Gazprom rather than the customer!!! I….I don’t know what to say…except that I am….deeply, deeply shocked. Who ever heard of such a thing *cough* Libor *cough*??

      Oh, I remember! Total SA ripped off the U.S. gas market for three years before anyone caught on. That just came up. Cue European Commission outrage.

      • Warren says:

        The EU is very inconsistent and hypocritical in how it enforces energy unbundling. The European Commission wants Gazprom to unbundle its is gas production, transmission and supply/distribution assets. Despite the fact in 2011 the ECJ permitted a Swiss company ATEL to violate unbundling Directives on electricity 2003/54/EC and 2009/72/EC, the Swiss company ATEL was able to violate the third party access rule, maintain preferential access for its vertically integrated undertaking in Slovakia.

        Gazprom has lodged an investor-state arbitration against Lithuania at the Permanent Court of Arbitration under UNCITRAL rules using the dispute resolution mechanisms in the Russian-Lithuanian BIT. Lithuania wants Gazprom to sell off its gas production, transmission and distribution/supply assets in Lithuania in compliance with EU natural gas Directive 2009/73/EC.

        Gazprom can use the exact same arguments the ECJ used to permit ATEL to ignore the EU unbundling Directives 2003/54/EC and 2009/72/EC on electricity. The ECJ justified ATEL’s violation of the EU internal energy market rules and Directives under Article 307 (1) EC!

        • marknesop says:

          When it comes right down to it, Europe’s desires are no more complicated than it wants the gas – just the gas, despite its chortling that Russia will never rise above a raw-materials provider – and it wants that at next to giveaway prices, while it wants European control over all the transit system, so that should it discover a new friend who has a lot of gas and is not unpleasant like the stinky Russians who don’t even know enough to extend their pinky when they lift the teacup, why, then they can just say “Thank you, my man, but we shall not be requiring any gas today”, and use the Russian-built European-owned transit system to transport their new friend’s gas to their markets. Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

  30. Northern Star says:

    “Foreign Minister Józef Beck continued to resist the growing pressure on Poland from the West to cooperate with the Soviet Union in order to contain Germany.[1][2][3]”

    ……Well it appears as if not the Poles but the Pole Beck did have a hand in Poland’s downfall..

  31. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah GONAD (God’s Own News Agency Direct): BBC’s Sarah Teale harassed during report about harassment

    Sarah Teale was filming outside a conference on the subject in Nottingham when a man directed a sexual comment towards her.

    The East Midlands Today reporter said she was “genuinely shocked” by what the man said.

    She said: “It’s not banter, it’s not funny and no-one should have to put up with it.”

    In the clip, Teale can be heard explaining: “An online study showed that a shocking 95% of people said they had been harassed, jeered at, or had obscenities shouted at them in the street and a large proportion said they’d also been groped or grabbed inappropriately in public.” …

    Maybe the guy was Russian? We all know what a bunch of degenerate savages they are!

    BTW, I saw this headline and had to go to the WC quickly afterwards:

    Evening Turd: <Iranian man fed up of living in Manchester walks into police station and begs to be deported

    Arash Aria, 25, was arrested after he told officer he had stayed in the UK illegally for 10 years but was later released when immigration checks showed he had permission to reside in Britain….

    …Mr Aria told the Daily Telegraph: “The people of Manchester have not been welcoming. It’s words, violence, many things.

    “I try to ignore people but I’m fed up now. I don’t get the respect I should here. People are not friendly here in Manchester. When they are rude to me, I don’t like it.

    “Particularly in the last year it’s got really bad. I try to be friendly and polite. But they just laugh at me because I am foreign and look at me strangely.”..

    • Northern Star says:

      “The actual comments directed at the presenter have been bleeped out”

      Really??….OMG..Sarah..the poor dear!!!!


  32. Warren says:

    Ukraine crisis: Kiev bans Russian airlines’ flights

    • et Al says:

      Transaero is in the process of being taken over by Aeroflot (and causing some regulatory/dominance issues)

      If I were Russia, I would ban certain airlines transiting Russia if they pass through the Ukraine, i.e. any that have a code-shares with the Ukrainian etc.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m speechless. Actually, my Mother-in-Law told me about it yesterday, so it wasn’t a total surprise, but the sheer cheek of it still stuns me. Not for the first time, I will say it is a good thing for Ukraine that I am not president of the Russian Federation. I would make those fuckers hop. I would slap a ban on not only all Ukrainian airlines transiting any Russian airspace, but I would not allow international flights that transited through or over Ukraine to enter Russian airspace either. I would cancel the gas agreement, and tell them no Russian gas for Ukraine at any price; any European country caught reversing gas to Ukraine would also be cut off from Russian gas. When they showed me pictures of dear old Ukrainian grannies frozen blue and solid in their apartments, I would just laugh and say “Look!! Salogmites!”

      Lucky for you, Ukraine. Your window to overthrow and chuck out the Poroshenko/Yatsenyuk government is closing rapidly. Once it does, it won’t matter; Ukraine will be so disliked for its dysfunctional behaviour and whingeing for money all the time that it won’t have a friend left.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The Ukraine has forbidden the companies Aeroflot and Transaero from making flights over its territory. The company Air Force of the Russian Federation has not been affected by this sanction.

  33. Warren says:

    • et Al says:

      US Forces in Europe Missing Three Key Capabilities


    • marknesop says:

      “Ukraine is only a symptom of what’s going on,” Hodges said. “Russia believes that they’re entitled to a sphere where they can dictate what countries do.”

      What a huge laugh. Russia was prepared to lend a huge amount of money to Ukraine more or less unconditionally, not too worried about micromanaging every penny, while the IMF dribbles money out in tiny increments and forces Ukraine to triple its gas prices before it gets any more. Who’s the dictator? And the United States of Gad Damn believes it can dictate to the entire world.

  34. ucgsblog says:

    Time for Financial News. As a result of the Gas/Oil Wars, Russia pulled ahead, because Putin used the money intended for recapitalization of the gas/oil industry, to recapitalize the gas/oil industry. Some in the West are shocked at that, firmly believing that he was supposed to steal the money. Ah yes, the power of believing in your own propaganda.

    In other news, Ukraine was downgraded to default:

    Why you ask? Because the inept idiots in Kiev borrowed from whomever they wanted, including a group that helped push Argentina into near bankruptcy. And now they’re about to do the same to Ukraine:

    “If Aurelius also refuses to take part, the bonds it holds will remain in default, potentially allowing the hedge fund to chase Ukraine in courts in London and elsewhere. “That bond will remain out there like some of the Argentine debt. Ukraine will remain in default,” Nomura strategist Tim Ash said, although he noted that Ukraine had fewer assets than Argentina for hedge funds to seize.”

    Oh yeah, the judges in the US ruled in favor of the hedge fund over Argentina, so there’s clear precedent. Whoopsie. The reason this looks really bad, is that there are no good solutions out of this. If Ukraine defaults, it’ll be stuck permanently on the teat of the US/EU, as I predicted in June:

    If the judges flip flop, Argentina will have a clear cut case against the hedge funds, pushing Obama into a battle with the hedge funds, when they have the Republicans on their side. If Obama pays this hedge fund, Franklin-Templeton will demand the same exact treatment, adding to Obama’s sentiment as the Debt King of the United States. Not to mention that Congress wouldn’t authorize that big a sum. There are no good options of out this, for either Poroshenko or Obama. To quote Gordon: “da, cheburashke ne vezet”

    • et Al says:

      The Argentine government managed to restructure about 93% of that debt through heavily discounted bond exchanges in 2005 and 2010. But a small group of investors refused to tender their defaulted bonds for new securities, and they have hounded Argentina in courts across the globe for close to a decade seeking full repayment.

      As part of the restructuring process, Argentina drafted agreements in which repayments would be handled through a New York corporation and governed by United States law. The holdout bondholders found themselves unable to seize Argentine sovereign assets in settlement, but realized that Argentina had omitted to provide for holdout situations and had instead deemed all bonds repayable on pari passu (equal) terms that prevented preferential treatment among bondholders. The holdout bondholders therefore sought, and won, an injunction in 2014 that prohibited Argentina from repaying the 93% of bonds that had been renegotiated, unless they simultaneously paid the 7% holdouts their full amount due as well. Together with the agreement’s Rights Upon Future Offers (“RUFO”) clause, this created a deadlock in which the 93% of renegotiated bondholders could not be paid without paying the 7% holdouts, but any payment to the holdouts would potentially (according to Argentina) trigger the 93% being due repayment at full value too; a sum of around $100 billion which Argentina could not afford.[6] The courts ruled that as Argentina had itself drafted the agreement, and chosen the terms it wished to propose, it could not now claim the terms were unreasonable or unfair, and that this could not be worked around by asserting sovereign status since the injunction did not affect sovereign assets, but simply ruled that Argentina must not give preferential treatment of any group of bondholders over any other group when making repayments.

      …NML Capital Limited, a Cayman Islands-based offshore unit of Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corporation, purchased many holdings in 2008, paying an estimated USD49 million for one series of bonds whose face value was over USD220 million;[22] with the subsequent boom in Argentine bond values, this face value grew to USD832 million by 2014.[26] They in turn established the American Task Force Argentina lobbying group against Argentine bond restructuring efforts,[19] and sued to enjoin Argentina’s ongoing payments to the bondholders who had participated in the earlier restructurings.[2]

      Nothing can stop red blooded capitalists! I suspect that death is but a minor inconvenience.

  35. Warren says:

    Bloody Welsh bastards…………

  36. Patient Observer says:

    $21 billion is a lot of business:–business.html
    So much for the expected bonanza for American aviation sales in Iran.

  37. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      Hmmm….I never thought of that. But I suppose it’s possible. I hope Russia is looking beyond Merkel. Trying to make an ally of Germany as the dominant hand in Europe makes sense, but it will never happen with Merkel at the helm. She is America’s dog right down to the rhinestone collar.

  38. Oddlots says:

    Obnoxious to not give any reason for a naked link but I am tired…

    Very thorough piece to my mind.


  39. marknesop says:

    Oh, oh!! Is it too late to get the civil engineers in to change the plate on Yatsenyuk’s door to “Saakashvili”?

    Yeah, we’re going to need a stronger Barcalounger. One with more width between the arms, too.

    “Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, President Petro Poroshenko’s chief of staff Borys Lozhkin and an ally of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov have been targeted by investigators and whistleblowers in Ukraine and abroad this week.”

    • yalensis says:

      I like that boy, Oleg Sukhov. I don’t agree with his political views, but I have to say, of all the “journalists” on KyivPost staff, he is maybe the only one who looks and smells like an actual journalist. He is a good muck-raker, and I think he has a future, even after Ukraine goes down the tubes.

  40. et Al says:

    Neuters: Analysis – EU ‘ring of friends’ turns into ring of fire

    The European Union’s dream of building “a ring of friends” from the Caucasus to the Sahara has turned into a nightmare as conflicts beyond its borders send refugees teeming into Europe.

    In contrast to the success of its eastward enlargement drive that transformed former communist countries into thriving market democracies, the European Neighbourhood Policy launched in 2003 has been a spectacular flop…

    …The failure to stabilise or democratise the EU’s surroundings was partly due to forces beyond Brussels’ control: Russian resentment over the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as political and sectarian strife in the Middle East.

    Five of the six Eastern Partnership countries – Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – are weakened by unresolved “frozen conflicts” in which Moscow has a hand. The sixth, Belarus, is so authoritarian that it is subject to EU sanctions and has eschewed the offer of a free trade deal.

    EU officials now acknowledge that the framework designed to engage and transform the bloc’s neighbours was flawed from the outset due to a mixture of arrogance and naivety.

    “The idea was to have a ring of friends who would integrate with us but not become EU members. That was rather patronising, with the European Union telling everyone what to do because we believed they wanted to be like us,” said Christian Danielsson, head of the European Commission department for neighbourhood policy and enlargement.

    …Now the EU neighbourhood policy is undergoing a fundamental rethink, with a more modest, flexible and differentiated approach due to be unveiled on Nov. 17.

    Whether it will prove more effective remains to be seen.

    Ian Bond, a former British ambassador now at the Centre for European Reform, called the current policy a “mess of inconsistency and wishful thinking”. ..

    …EU officials talk of the need for a new realism, putting the pursuit of common interests with partners ahead of lecturing them on human rights and democracy.

    But the European Parliament and member states such as Germany and the Nordic countries will be loath to soft-pedal promoting such values….

    …Michael Leigh, a senior adviser at the German Marshall Fund think-tank and former head of the EU’s enlargement department, said Brussels had responded to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings by offering a “top-heavy, long, cumbersome, demanding” DCFTA process rather than swift but limited market access. …


    Wise after the fact as usual. Too late mofos. For Stollenberg, its not the clever clever strategy being wrong, its always Russia. F/wit. I’m still waiting for van Rompuy to admit he has blood on his hands for the Ukraine.

    What they allude to but don’t make a point of is that they wholly dismissed Russia from their calculations as if it was just going to become the EU’s cuddly toy, a larger version of Serbia. No mention either that Russia is ‘part of the solution’ and cooperation with Russia is essential.

    It looks like some have got past anger and denial and have moved on to bargaining & depression.

    • marknesop says:

      “In contrast to the success of its eastward enlargement drive that transformed former communist countries into thriving market democracies, the European Neighbourhood Policy launched in 2003 has been a spectacular flop…”

      Umm…say what?? I thought we had already looked at the Baltics as examples, and determined their populations peaked just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and their subsequent snatching by NATO, at which point they commenced a slide which was the mirror image of their ascent. Why are citizens fleeing a thriving market democracy?

      I agree with your analysis – too late. However, the recent article linked which revealed Europe was just covering itself when it pretended to oppose the Gulf War has added another layer of cynicism to my hide, and I don’t interpret this as the scales falling from anyone’s eyes at all. They’re not wiser, simply acknowledging that a ploy to get their own way did not work out as planned. There’s no remorse, at all. They’ll just try something else.

      I particularly loved the line, “The failure to stabilise or democratise the EU’s surroundings was partly due to forces beyond Brussels’ control: Russian resentment over the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as political and sectarian strife in the Middle East.” I see. So the angst of Russians missing Stalin wafted in the air over the borders of Europe’s neighbours, and caused them to make irrational decisions and, against all common sense, to bite the soft pink European hand extended to them? Let me ask another – is there to be no limit of silliness and self-pity beyond which Europe will not go?

  41. et Al says:

    Dirty Willy: US adds remote Russian gas field to sanctions list

    A Kremlin spokesman quickly rebuked Washington’s decision to add the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye Field to its list of energy sector sanctions, saying it “further damaged our bilateral relations.”…

    … The Yuzhno-Kirinskoye Field is a gas and condensate field located off the far eastern coast of Siberia in the Sea of Okhotsk, near Sakhalin Island.

    The state-owned energy giant Gazprom discovered it in 2010 but it isn’t scheduled to go into production until 2018.

    According to a note in the Federal Register, the daily journal of the US government, the field “is reported to contain substantial reserves of oil in addition to reserves of gas.”…

    …Specifically, the widened sanctions impose an export ban on items originating in the US and ones in which more than 25 percent of the parts came from the US. If anything were to be exported to the field, an individual or company would need permission from the Commerce Department….

    Is this targeted at General Electric Corporation who has had a gas turbine servicing business in Russia’s far east for the last decade? Does it affect the GE-RAO JV?

    • marknesop says:

      Whatever the aim is, at the root of it is the hope that not being able to buy American gas-field technology will delay or prevent the Russians from bringing the field to production.

      A world leader in gas-field exploration and recovery technology is Guardian Global Technologies. Although they are a British firm, they have a branch office in Dongying City, China. Alternatively, Russia would simply have to engineer its own exploration and rrecovery systems, building on those it already has. Whatever the choice shakes out to be, it is imperative that Russia severs its business ties with America altogether, because even a new administration is going to make no difference to the USA’s Russophobic bloodline.

  42. et Al says:

    McClatchy: Syrians who supported Assad find flight now a nightmare

    Got the memo kids? Syrians are running away from Assad, not a single world about ISIL/IS/DAESH/whatever. BTW, Roy Gutman, the author, was one of the first, leading and most outspoken proponents of genocide in Bosnia bs.

    • kirill says:

      Another sample of western “free media” propaganda excrement. The poster boy for the refugee tragedy who drowned and was photographed on the beach was a Kurd fleeing ISIS.

    • marknesop says:

      “Shama, 33, a seamstress, couldn’t take the fast-falling living standards, the constant power outages, the hours of waiting at security checkpoints and the lack of freedom in the coastal city of Latakia. But the last straw was the arrival of Russian forces. President Bashar Assad “brought in Russian troops to fight his own people,” she said. “It’s unbearable.”

      There’s the money shot, right there. Before the Russians came, the probability that the government would fall to a stateless tribe of Islamic fundamentalists and Syria’s secular makeup would give way to sharia, and honour killings if a woman of the family was disgraced, was of no particular concern – let the Syrian army handle it. If they failed, well; you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, right? But bringing in stinky Russians, well; there are standards below which we just won’t go. Said somebody who won’t give her last name, so there is no worry anyone will ever track her down to ask her if that’s what she actually said or not – this declined-to-give-her-name-due-to-fear-of-retribution-against-her-family thing is a gold mine; who’s going to question every woman from Syria named Shama or whatever? It’s a license to attribute any quote you’d like to get in your story. “There’s no question that the Russians sneaked across the Ukrainian border and shot down MH-17, to blame Kiev and prevent Ukrainians from achieving delirious happiness and easy money as the newest citizens of the EU and members of NATO, which was totally in the bag until that midget Putin came along and kicked the legs out from under freedom and democracy”, said Abdul, who declined to give his last name for fear that Putin would work through ISIS thugs to harm his family.

  43. Warren says:

    Russia and Estonia in border crossing spy exchange

  44. Moscow Exile says:

    Birds of a feather …?

    • kirill says:

      Sick puppies. They are so oppressed that they can engage in full bore sedition. They should look up the word “oppression”. It does not mean that one is oppressed if one does not get whatever they want.

  45. Moscow Exile says:

    Петр Порошенко: Украина научит американцев, «как бить Россию»

    Pyotr Poroshenko: The Ukraine is teaching Americans “how to beat Russia”.

    Poroshenko is also participating in the work of the UN General Assembly. Having arrived in New York on the day before the opening of the session, the President of the [Maidan] Square has already managed to spit out a dose of anti-Russian bile.

    “Being taught by their American partners how to fight It is not only interesting for Ukrainians, it is also interesting for Americans to learn how to beat the Russians”, said Pyotr Alekseevich, adding: “The Ukraine is not only not afraid of Russia: it is also giving it to her in the teeth”.

    About discounts on gas and the credit being given to Kiev by Moscow, and the confectionery factories operating in Russia that are personally owned by Poroshenko, he is modestly silent…

    • Moscow Exile says:

      They (Pravy Sektor yobs) are telling Porky to fuck off at the beginning.

    • marknesop says:

      “Modestly” silent? What, as if the gas deal was all Poroshenko’s doing? He wasn’t even present so far as I’m aware. And his confectionery in Lipetsk, Russia is shut down, while even he and his Rothschild enablers – who help him maintain the fiction that he is trying to sell his businesses – acknowledge it may have to be sold to Russia as they will not likely ever allow it to reopen.

      Ukraine is not afraid of Russia. That’s why Dmitry Tymchuk in the Kiev Post sounded the alarm of a coming Russian invasion nearly every month throughout 2014. Because nobody cared – who cares, we’re not afraid of the Russians. If you’re not afraid of Russia, Porky, and considering you have identified it officially as an enemy, why don’t you attack it? After all, you have the most fearsome army in Europe.

      If there’s anything worse than having your country led by an idiot, it’s having your country led by an idiot who is also a blowhard.

  46. Warren says:

    Published on 27 Sep 2015
    Promotion turns Kyiv fuel station into a virtual beachfront.

    One petrol station in the Ukranian capital had a very beachfront feel about it on September 26 when dozens of women dressed in their bikinis turned up to take advantage of the latest promotion.

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