The Unbearable Unseemliness of Partnership

Uncle Volodya says, "However, remember this: They hate you because you represent something they feel they don’t have. It really isn’t about you. It is about the hatred they have for themselves. So smile today because there is something you are doing right that has a lot of people thinking about you.”

Uncle Volodya says, “However, remember this: They hate you because you represent something they feel they don’t have. It really isn’t about you. It is about the hatred they have for themselves. So smile today because there is something you are doing right that has a lot of people thinking about you.”

Well, sometimes the faster it gets
The less you need to know…

The Tragically Hip, from “Blow at High Dough

Jim Hoagland, at The Washington Post, is upset. Not furious, or anything – it would never do to get angry at such a solid, reliable and inspirational ally as Germany. No, it’s more….miffed. The kind of vague disquiet you feel when a good friend suddenly reveals a side of themselves you didn’t know existed. It’s kind of like Germany got sloppy drunk at an international party and threw up on the carpet, or in the punch bowl. The kind of embarrassing performance that will probably fade with time, but good friends should step in immediately and set Germany straight, in case there’s a deeper problem that foreshadows, say, a precipitous descent into alcoholism. That’s kind of how Mr. Hoagland views Germany’s unseemly insistence that going into business on a pipeline deal with Russia is just a straight commercial arrangement (thanks for the tip, Warren).

Pardon me while I segue sharply away from this subject for just a moment, but I promise all will be made clear. In the sidebar to the referenced article, from the very same newspaper, is a piece entitled, “It’s Time to Curb this Widely-Committed Journalistic Sin“. The sin referred to is the contempt in journalism for the requirement that disputable assertions be backed by reasoned argument or reference to a reputable source. Use of the passive voice, such as “it is widely believed” is not good enough on its own and is often a cover for something the author would devoutly love to be true, but cannot prove is true. Curiously, the author goes on to assert, in the very next paragraph, that a statement such as “it is widely believed that MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists” is an example of a reasonable statement…because almost everyone believes it. The author does not touch upon this widely-held belief being the direct result of a massive campaign of deliberate disinformation, and an investigation in which a major suspect was allowed unrestricted access to all of the evidence and a seat on the investigation.  But we can only do so much in one post, and we simply can’t take that one on right now.

Anyway, where I wanted to go with that is to appoint you all members of a sort of jury panel. We’re going to look at Mr. Hoagland’s piece, and I want you to watch for examples of occasions in which Mr. Hoagland makes a disputable assertion that is not backed up by facts – just an “ask anyone” kind of substantiation. Ready? Let’s go.

Oh; just a bit of stage-setting first – Mr. Hoagland is part of a growing lobby group which is putting pressure on Germany to back out of its deal with Russia’s Gazprom and other shareholders to twin the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which would double the available supply of Russian gas to Germany, making Germany a significantly more-important gas hub for Europe. It would also result in Russia sending only domestic supply through Ukraine’s pipeline network, for Ukrainians’ use so long as they pay in advance, and not subject to transit fees. Every article on the subject mentions that Ukraine reaps $2 Billion annually from Russia for transit fees for basically doing nothing except letting Russia use its pipes, and Washington and Brussels are becoming increasingly worried that this payment might be lost to the Ukrainian economy. This is at the heart of their objections to the new pipeline capability and the deal with Germany. The Anglosphere knows it is useless to appeal to Gazprom, and so is concentrating a full-court press on Germany.

While it’s true that Germany has earned the world’s respect for its overall performance since World War II, I’m going to draw the line at “repeatedly taking the moral and political high ground”. Is that so? Was the Siemens scandal, in which the company – which was German last time I looked – paid €2.5 billion in fines for bribery a good example of the moral high ground? How about Deutsche Bank’s £840,000 fine plus £1.5 million in compensation for funneling mortgage loans exclusively through mortgage brokers to people with poor credit history, and then wiping them out with made-up fees when they fell into arrears? I’m sure even those of us with the shortest memories can recall Volkswagen’s deliberate installation of test-cheating software in over 11 million cars which would sense when a test was being conducted and supply bogus emission figures which made it compliant with regulations, but otherwise would allow the engine to emit as much as 40 times the allowable pollutants – which have been linked to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and emphysema – in the interests of achieving better mileage. Pretty hard to see that as an example of the moral high ground, what? Nobody is dumping on the Germans, and every country has an element which is more interested in making money than just about anything else you can name, but Germany no more fits the mold of gilded saint than anyone else.

So why is Germany ‘risking its hard-earned reputation’? As an aside, that is kind of comical coming from the country which systematically blew the basement out of its international reputation in the past 5 years with its deliberate and open instigation of rebellions in countries around the world as an excuse to send in the western military to sack and ruin those countries – Ukraine and Syria are only the most recent examples. But let’s leave that for the moment. The implication – hell, it’s spelled out – is that if Germany persists with this deal, it will sacrifice its international reputation for decency. That’s not even close to true, and it is laughable for Hoagland to suggest the rest of Europe is going to look down its nose at Germany when it is Germany who underpins the European Central Bank, which bails out European spendthrifts and idiots who cannot manage their own money. Pack yer bags; we’re goin’ on a guilt trip! No, we’re not. Don’t even think about it. Yes, Washington will be pissed off to see its own efforts to control the European gas distribution network come to naught, but is that something that should keep Germany awake nights? Where’s the substantiation for his statement that “the vast changes in the global energy markets of the past year have made the Russian deal obsolete, as well as damaging to European unity”? Ukraine is not part of the European Union, and it is Ukraine which is squalling loud and long for Europe to help it because Russia is about to take it out of the gas-transit business. How is the ‘Russian’ deal (the pipeline is actually owned by five major international shareholders, of which Gazprom is one, and Gazprom itself is owned by the Russian state just to a sufficient degree to constitute a majority, 50.002%) ‘obsolete’? Is Europe now in a position to do without Russian gas? It certainly is not. What are Hoagland’s grounds for saying “the pipeline deal with Vladimir Putin is seemingly corrupt”? What is Putin’s involvement in the pipeline? Zero. What makes it “seemingly corrupt”? Ask anyone. Everybody knows it is. Lastly, why should the United States government get involved – at the Presidential level, no less – in a business deal between Germany and Russia to which it is itself not a party? Let me ask you this, Mr. Hoagland – is there anything, anything in the wide world that the United States considers not its business?

We have a pretty good idea why Washington objects to a new pipeline deal which will bring gas to Europe, and not even more of it (twinning Nord Stream will replace Ukraine’s transit, not augment it), which is the whole point – Washington and Brussels want Russia to be on the hook for subsidizing Ukraine to the greatest degree possible, because every dollar that doesn’t come from Russia has to come from the IMF or other western donors. Similarly, for so long as Ukraine is Russia’s buffer transfer zone between it and its European gas markets, Russia has to care to some extent for Ukraine’s well-being. It can’t let Ukraine fail. Whereas if Ukraine is no longer necessary to Russia’s gas operations, it is totally a western responsibility to heal the shattered country whose civil war the west cheered so enthusiastically, and no skin off Russia’s nose if it collapses into complete ruin. Also just by the bye, the United States government still nurtures a dream whereby it will itself become a major supplier to Europe of gas through LNG tankers and terminals. I’m not going to go into detail again on what a stupid idea that is, I did so here more than a year ago. Forcing Russia to continue supplying gas to Europe through Ukraine forces Russia to take an interest and an active hand in stabilizing and rebuilding Ukraine, although Europe means to keep it forever within its own sphere of influence.

Anyway, let’s get back to Mr. Hoagland at The Washington Post, before this turns into a book. Here we go again, with “Putin’s objective”. Is there any detail about the conduct of business in Russia that Mr. Putin does not run personally? Granted, producing far, far less of the resource you depend on to heat and light your homes, power your industries and a thousand other things means that you are going to have to come to terms with whoever has it for sale, and in Europe’s case it boils down to either Russia or the creaking Frankenstein’s monster the United States is trying to cobble together, which is a combination of ocean-transit LNG by tanker and a pipeline from devoted toady ally Qatar through Syria to Turkey, which the current stubborn clinging to the seat to which he was elected by Mr. Assad makes moot.

And at this point, my friends, Mr. Hoagland stepped off the edge of reason. Indulge me, for a second. Journalists regularly consult experts, it gives their copy authenticity. It seems reasonable they must have lists, in descending order of reliability. In the case of economists, the first page should be headed, “Reliable Economists”. Anders Aslund will not be found on this list. Page 2 could be headed “Less Reliable Economists”. Anders Aslund will not be found on this list. The third page could be titled, “Idiots Who Can Barely Add, But Who Are Nonetheless Convinced That They Are Smart”. Anders Aslund will not be found on this list. The last page could be headed, “Disturbed Whiny Attention Whores Who Are To Economics What The Reverend Jim Jones Was To Organized Religion”. Anders Aslund is on this list. More correctly, Anders Aslund is this list. Who is the economist Mr. Hoagland relied upon to underpin his case? I rest mine – Anders Aslund.

Anders Aslund tells Mr. Hoagland that the Nord Stream pipeline does not make economic sense. Why not? Well, because “Consumption of natural gas in the European Union has fallen by 21 percent over the past decade, and the existing Gazprom pipeline under the Baltic Sea is now operating at half capacity. And Gazprom is no ordinary state corporation. It pursues Russia’s geopolitical goals, cutting supplies or raising prices when the Kremlin wants.

I sometimes wish I were King Henry, so that all I had to do was shout “Who will rid me of this troublesome economist???”, and some knights would ride off to Georgetown University and hack off his head with a sword (although in light of its dense wooden composition, a bow saw might be more practical). Then his chowderheaded foolishness would be stilled forever. It seems that the bigger a coruscating DayGlo neon megawatt idiot you are, the more anxious journalists are to draw upon and broadcast your elitist ramblings, or perhaps he is the only one who will do it for free.

Yes, Anders, you bright spark, you – EU consumption of natural gas overall decreased; in 2014, by 10.7%. Does that mean the EU is importing less gas? Well, no, actually, you effing hammerhead, it does not – in fact, over the same period, reliance on imported gas increased 2.8%. How can those two realities coexist? Why, because EU domestic production fell by 10.6% in 2014. The decline in some countries was abrupt and dizzying; in France it dropped by 96.1%, in Spain the decline was 58.2%, in Bulgaria by 35.3%, a drop of 18.7% in The Netherlands and 14.3% in Germany. Only the Czech Republic and Romania increased production. The ‘energy boom’ in Norway – a major producer of EU supplies – passed its peak in 2009 and is in rapid decline. EU overall consumption may have declined, but not as rapidly as domestic production, which means the EU is more reliant on imported energy than ever. You can rearrange pipelines and delude yourself as much as you like, but you will not change that fact. Of course, it doesn’t impact your pontificating one bit, because you don’t see it. Aslund, lest we forget, is the author of “How Ukraine Became a Market Economy and Democracy“. Has been since 2009, apparently. Let’s skip over a few highlights, shall we? “Ukraine is today an undisputed independent state. It is a democracy and has transformed into a market economy with predominant private ownership.” I’ll say – 70% of its GDP is controlled by its oligarchs. “Ukraine’s postcommunist transition has been one of the most protracted and socially costly, but it has taken the country to a desirable destination.” I don’t quite know what to say to that. Not without resorting to the worst kind of profanity. In fact, Aslund’s vision is quite a bit like a hypothetical situation in which the west captured a former hardcore fascist country, didn’t change a God-damned thing except the leader, and then assured the citizenry that its former practices were actually signs of democratic progressiveness. A big feature – in terms of publication by Ukraine, not numbers of attendees – of the Holiday Season in Ukraine this year was torchlight parades celebrating the birthday of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. How many other European market democracies held similar celebrations? The idea that Ukraine is closer today to a desirable destination than it was in 2009 stupefies comment.

Why is Nord Stream operating at half capacity? Anders Aslund and several of his fellow dunderheads would have you believe it is because of a declining appetite for Russian gas, and they say as much. I guess that would be reflected by a decline in Gazprom’s exports to Europe. Uh, oh – I see a problem. Gazprom’s exports to Europe in 2012 were 149.9 BCm. In 2013 they were 172.6 BCm. That was the highest over a 9-year period – almost the decade that Aslund describes, in which the EU is allegedly consuming less gas. And it is: just not less Russian gas, and the reliance on the figure which shows declining consumption is a classic bait-and-switch. The EU is using less gas because it has less gas. You can also see why the UK is among the countries attracting hysterical western pushback for stonewalling on the Nord Stream deal; exports by Gazprom to the UK went from 3.8 BCm in 2005 to 16.6 BCm in 2013.

In 2014, Putin addressed a letter to the heads of Europe, in which he highlighted the growing unreliability of Ukraine as a transit country – this should have been seen as a direct warning that Russia intended to eliminate further risk of transit through Ukraine, as Gazprom has indicated on previous occasions. About 50% of Russia’s gas exports to Europe as a whole go through Ukraine. When Ukraine is taken out of the equation, not only will Nord Stream need every cubic centimeter of capacity, it will need more than the current pipeline can handle. And then there is the absurd European Third Energy Package requirement that any company which owns the pipeline cannot also own the gas that goes through it, and must reserve 50% of its capacity for “competitors”; the EU is okay for a single company to build a pipeline at its own expense, but then wants that company to give its competitors a free ride.  Gazprom got around that by forming an international consortium, which will build and own the pipeline. Gazprom is a shareholder. Nord Stream II should not fall under the Third Energy Package, as it is a supplement to an existing and already-approved line, although Donald Tusk continues to insist the pipeline must comply with every European regulation he can find plus whatever he can make up. The Poles, for obvious reasons, are very supportive of an independent and prosperous Ukraine – because they will be pressured to take a significant share of the economic refugees if it collapses. But the signal from Merkel – AKA “The Chancellor of the Free World” – looked pretty clear in her reply to Putin’s letter, which read (in part), “There are many reasons to seriously take into account this message […] and for Europe to deliver a joint European response. When we take all these steps, we can be sure that we have reached a joint response for the countries that face this problem because they are getting gas from Gazprom. European states would like to be good clients but we would also like to be sure Russian gas supplies are not interrupted.

But there’s another fly in the ointment, one that is not mentioned in polite circles: over 50% of Ukraine’s domestic gas supply comes from Russia, and Ukraine’s own supply peaked years ago. It has been in steady decline ever since. There was never a question of who would pay for that so long as Europe’s supply went through the same pipes. Ukraine regularly stalled on payment, argued over the price after it had already taken the gas, and when Russia said “no more for you until you pay”, just laughed and siphoned off gas intended for European customers for its own use. So long as European gas goes through Ukraine, Ukraine has Russia over the proverbial barrel, as already discussed. But it is important to note that once Europe’s supply no longer goes through Ukraine, Russia has no incentive to keep Ukraine from economic collapse. That means that if Ukraine can’t pay for its own domestic supply, up front, then it’s a hard old world, Ukraine. The latest western democracy project will be caught between the loss of its transit fees, loss of its tax-free preferred-trading-partner status with Russia as a potential member of the Eurasian Union (and with it, its Russian markets), a cratering currency, loss of a third of its tax base, and a partnership with a multinational entity that insists on reforms and the adoption of grinding austerity policies in exchange for lending it anything more than emergency starvation cash.

And Ukraine, indisputably, is an unreliable partner. Part of that is not its fault, because its western sponsors encourage it to hate and cheat Russia at every opportunity which presents itself, and it openly gloats over its achievements when it rips off Russians, rationalizing that they are all thieves themselves and too drunk to notice. Kiev protests that it only cheats Russians, and is otherwise as honest as the day is long, but it is easy to see that it considers anyone fair game who does not support their vision of Ukraine. The “Soyuz” main pipeline supplying natural gas to Hungary and Croatia from Russia via Belarus and Ukraine blew up a couple of days ago, inside west Ukraine, and there is good reason to believe it was a deliberate act of sabotage by Ukrainian activists, who have threatened before on repeated occasions to attack pipelines carrying Russian gas. If they were indeed responsible, it was a bit of an own goal, since that’s the line that is used to reverse-flow gas to Ukraine from Hungary. Ukrainian activists recently blew up some of the power pylons carrying nearly the entire electrical supply to Crimea, apparently frustrated by the country’s inability to achieve a military victory in the civil war against its own eastern regions.

From Brussels and Washington’s point of view, it is essential that Russia participate in the rehabilitation of Ukraine as a prosperous monument to NATO expansion. Because it frankly cannot be done without it. Russia is understandably unwilling to cooperate under those circumstances, the scenario being what it is. Ukraine will therefore be taken off the board as a transit country, and its entire livelihood is now in peril. The west is trying to rectify its enormous blunder by bullying Russia into continuing to send European gas through Ukraine, and it is not working. One of Ukraine’s greatest failings is its inability to see who is leading it into ruin, because it is so much fun to stick out its tongue at Russia and pull faces. Have fun, Ukraine.

Anybody want to sum that up in a couple of trenchant lines? Oh, look: Jarod Kintz, author of “The Titanic Would Never Have Sunk if it were Made Out of a Sink“, would like to.

“The only gift I have to give, is the ability to receive. If giving is a gift, and it surely is, then my gift to you is to allow you to give to me.”

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1,012 Responses to The Unbearable Unseemliness of Partnership

  1. Drutten says:

    Sveriges Radios (Swedish Radio, state-owned public service) resident Russophobe (and sole CIS correspondent) Maria Persson-Löfgren does it again:

    One day she’s in Kiev and writes rose-tinted portrayals of glorious peremoga, completely omitting any mentions of the disastrous state of everything and all the damning things that take place there. It’s incredible to read it when you know how things actually are and what’s actually going on.

    Then, she pops over to Russia and digs up some random bad story from somewhere. That’s what she does. Where there’s something good in Ukraine, there’s something bad in Russia.

    In this case, one driver died in a snowed-in car in the Orenburg region because the emergency services couldn’t get through the incredibly heavy Ural snowstorm to this stretch of remote highway until 15 hours after the first calls. Emergency workers were flabbergasted why anybody would even go driving in that weather. But apparently the weather forecasts didn’t contain explicit enough warnings, and it’s Putins fault of course.

    Meanwhile in Ukraine, people are dying in droves. Just glanced through a few Ukrainian news sites and even though it’s not all that cold people are even freezing to death on the streets of central Kiev, for christ’s sake. She’s never gonna mention that though. Instead, next thing will be something like “Sitting in a café with Kiev’s new tech-savvy hipsters” or “Putin tried to ruin Ukraine’s businesses, but for defiant Oleksandr things are a-booming“, then she will head back to Moscow and pen something like “Single mother with five children Oksana can’t afford car ensurance” and so on. It’s so predictable it’s not even funny.

    Good god, I hate it so much.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      As regards the deaths in Kiev caused by the cold (-10C — 14F) and little heating fuel to combat it, the Yukie media hit back yesterday with a story about Murmansk, where the temperature has recently fallen to -30C (-22) and there isn’t, they report, enough gas for the city.

      Well that may have been true, I thought when I read the Yukie info, and if it was, then it most certainly was a case of serious mismanagement and/or incompetence.

      The Yukies, however, have little gas because their government has persistently refused over several ears to pay for it or to come to equitable terms with its supplier.

      And here is the Murmansk gas story as reported yesterday in KP:

      Из-за морозов в Мурманске возникли перебои газоснабжения

      Because of frost there has arisen in Murmansk an interruption in the supply of gas
      The frosty weather has caused some hassle in Murmansk. During the course of the day, the inhabitants of many houses in the Arctic capital have been faced with the absence of a gas supply…

      .. The gas companies have explained that at low temperatures there occurs in the supply network pipes condensation, which prevents a normal gas flow.

      • yalensis says:

        I already mentioned in a previous comment that in the year 2011, in the glorious U.S. of A., the greatest country in the history of the universe, where nothing EVER goes wrong, I, along with many other people, FROZE OUR ASSES OFF IN TOTAL DARKNESS for 11 days after an ice storm knocked down a bunch of trees. Don’t blame the ice, blame the trees: City budgets had stopped paying for tree trimming. Until that happened. Oh, and this part of the country is very Third Worldish too, most electric lines above ground and practically strung between trees. Woulda been nice if the electricity lines were underground, but no….

        Jeez, shit happens everywhere, these people who pick on Russia need to get a life.

        • Patient Observer says:

          We had nearly the same experience; no power for over a week. For us, no power meant no heat. It was a challenging experience yet curiously it was also had some humor and provided “bonding” time. Our young son found it especially exciting. Of course, we knew that it would be temporary so the element of real risk was not present.

          I agree that when something negative happens in Russia, it’s portrayed as irrefutable proof of (fill in the blank – corruption, incompetence, vodka, Putin). In the western world, the event is spun into stories of heroic first-responders, pluckiness of the those affected, etc.

          My one and only trip to Mordor many decades ago was an eye opener in positive ways. One weird eye opening event however that I was “shocked” by some repair work at an airport in Moscow yet returning to the US, I blithely ignored buckets on the main concourse catching water from a leaking roof. Only upon reflection did I realize the degree of belief programming – in the Soviet Union/Russia everything is the fault of society, in the US, similar events are not even a fault, its just life.

          That observation can help explain the passivity of the US masses toward deterioration of the US economy and society in general. That is not to say that many are not concerned; its just that the concern is expressed in an individualistic manner. People here talk about building bunkers rather than banding together to fight back. I think that it is because we do not have enough trust in our neighbors, our fellow citizens, to work together on anything that involves risk and requires trust. If the forgoing is accurate, we are doomed as a society; a house of cards masquerading as a great civilization.

          As another example of how disasters are reported in the US, the ongoing massive methane leak at a California gas storage facility that has sickened thousands over the past several months barely reached the national news level. If it were to have happened in Russia, national news coverage in the US would have been persistent and the blogs would repeat and amplify the story a hundredfold. The story is still too big to ignore in the US and here is a link (CBC news) indicating just how catastrophic the situation is:

          • yalensis says:

            My experience during the 2011 blackout is that neighbors help neighbors. Most people step up to the plate and become better people. Same experience during nasty blizzards. We all help each other, e.g., dig out our cars, etc.
            There is a lot of resilience and goodwill among ordinary Americans. But, like you say, this was not exactly a life-threatening situation, we knew we just had to wait it out a few more days.
            I don’t have the experience of being in a true emergency where you literally don’t know if you will survive or not. I imagine that could be quite different, and people might react differently.

            • Patient Observer says:

              I agree that neighbors can help neighbors. We live on a dead-end street that can become blocked by snow drifts. Due to having relatively few houses, our street is way down on the list of areas for plow trucks to clear. It usually takes someone to start the process of clearing the drifts (alas, usually me) or someone getting stuck to mobilize any group effort.

              As associate of mine had a relative who was in the worst hit area of Hurricane Sandy. He assured me that there was no neighbor helping neighbor; it was everyone for themselves. Similar stories were common for Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. There appears to be a critical threshold of disruption before the savagery begins. It probably relates to the degree of absence of police and emergency authorities.

              If the US, or at least a large area. were to face societal collapse from natural, economic or military disasters, it wold be a safe bet that the survivors would turn on each other in a heartbeat, or, welcome with open arms any thug, gang or overlord that can offer protection. Our society is a house of cards held together by threats, coercion, soft-power and a willing if not eager submission to those who can protect or enrich us. Otherwise, we are hollow. That is a reason that I admire the Russians, Serbs and other groups around the world who have something inside them.

    • Cortes says:

      Spending some weeks in Benidorm. Alicante, Espanya.

      Last time I was in Spain, a year ago, I traveled with a friend through Andalucia: Malaga to Ronda to Sevilla to Córdoba to Ubeda to Granada to Malaga.

      My estimation is normal shop prices are 30% down from last year.

      But life is great 😱

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    Just become deeply depressed after hearing my son conversing with someone on the Internet about the Crimea and about a Crimean who now has Russian citizenship. I asked him: “Who are you talking to?”

    — My friend.

    — Where does he live – in the Crimea?

    — No, in the Ukraine.

    — Where exactly?

    — In Kiev.

    Moskali to the knife?

    Those Banderite bastards have a lot to answer for with their torchlit marches and cries of “Moskali to the knife!”

    My son wants to go to Kiev to visit this person whom he converses with.

    No way!

    • Jen says:

      Maybe you should ask your son (in a nice way) how he found this person in Kiev. If he wants to meet the Kiev fellow, he will need a passport and the passport office will require your approval as guardian (because your son is still a minor), so what you can do is propose that the Kiev guy comes to Moscow or some other place of your choice to meet away from your residence. Vova must not be allowed to meet the guy on his own but he can say to the fellow that he is bringing a friend along. He must say “I’d like to bring a friend along”, not “I’m bringing my dad along” – at no point during the meeting arrangements should there be any hint that you are involved which means that you set out the conditions for meeting and then your son talks to his pal about them. If the Kiev guy is genuine, he will agree to your conditions for the meeting but if he refuses and insists that Vova come meet him on his own, then you know he’s not a real friend.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Oh, I know how he met him: by playing on online game called Dota2. He and the Kievan are in the same online team.

        Vova’s quite an international chatterbox because of his command of English: they all take some convincing that he is not English. However he was talking in Russian with the Ukrainian when I overheard his conversation, and the conversation that I had with Vova that I outlined above was also in Russian. It’s like that here in our flat: conversations often switch from one language to another.

        Interestingly, he’s had invitations to go to Helsinki, where another online acquaintance of his lives, and to Stockholm at the invitation of yet another.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Oh, I know how he met him: by playing on online game called Dota2. He and the Kievan are in the same online team.”

          Dota2 is a tool of Satan himself (its mere existence made me believe that at least Adwersary must be real and active in our Fallen World) – a thoroughly bastardized version of good ol’ Warcraft 3.

          Gib your son and heir “Mount and Blades: Napoleonic Wars” – or suggest for him to download it. It has better graphics, nice premise and historical to boot.

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

            I would encourage you to guide the young man toward a less life-destroying habit, such as a heroin addiction.

            • yalensis says:

              Or maybe “Furries” online porn.
              Or maybe he could be a brony. That would also give him some travel opportunities.

            • Jen says:

              Vova could, er, join the army when he turns 18.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                He may even be forced to serve in the Russian army when he is 18. He has, in that respect, the distinct advantage of being able at any time to jump onto an Aeroexpress fast train from the Belorusskiy mainline railway terminus to Sheremet’evo airport, where he may then buy a ticket to Manchester, and, having arrived there, he can live with his auntie without any necessity whatsoever of claiming asylum in the UK.

                That’s because he is one Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s most loyal subjects — if he should choose to be.

                • cartman says:

                  If he volunteers he will probably have a better assignment.

                  Just make sure he’s not in Kiev when he’s 17. They want young males in the meat grinder to keep them from making trouble.

                • Jen says:

                  “Choose” to be? I thought you had it all worked out for Vova once he turns 18.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  No matter what I should choose him to be, he is his own man at 18, when he legally reaches his age of majority.

                  I had to wait until I was 21 when that happened, which bugged me no end, because in that same year when I was 21, the law was changed in the UK, whereby the age of majority was reduced to 18 years.

                  Even at 21, I thought 18-year-olds were immature — and at 31, I thought that 21 year-olds were immature as well.

                • marknesop says:

                  And now, pretty much everyone is immature.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Oh I agree wholeheartedly with you, Lyttenburgh!

            I say to him: “Why do you play this stupid game with little green men and wizards and what-not zapping each other?”

            He tells me it’s very skilful game, like chess. I tell him that’s a load of bollocks, but he won’t have it.

            Ironically, Vova’s very good at chess. He was in great demand at the local chess club – until he discovered computer games, which is sad. I used to go to tournaments with him. He was good – he used to beat me. Bear in mind, I’m crap. But he used to beat me when he was 7. My wife thought at first that I was letting him beat me, but I wasn’t.

            I’ve downloaded such historical games that you mention, but he shows no interest. I especially like Mount & Blade because it has a Russian historical theme: I get pissed off with the Western-centric nature of most games.

            Napoleonic Wars is great as well: it’s historically accurate enough for me, but a bugger to play. The problem is that I want to control every aspect of play, and of course, in reality, a commander in chief has to delegate authority to his generals and rely on their decision making. I should love one day to replay Booidino and kick the Corsican’s arse, to smash his Old Guard that he’s been holding in reserve all day and send him packing back Smolensk way.

  3. Warren says:

    Hungarian PM tells David Cameron ‘we are not parasites’

    Hungary’s prime minister has told David Cameron Hungarians working in the UK are not “migrants” or “parasites”.

    • marknesop says:

      “Mr Johnson – seen as one of the contenders to replace Mr Cameron as Conservative leader when he quits – said his preference was to remain part of a reformed EU but is waiting to see the outcome of the prime minister’s renegotiations.”

      Scariest part of the entire article.

      • Jen says:

        Boris Johnson as British PM?

        Compare and contrast:

        I’m beginning to wish that Trump gets elected and then Johnson replaces Cameron. The latter shouldn’t be too hard seeing that Cameron and Johnson were Bullingdon club members together.

        • Cortes says:

          Boris is the most dangerous political figure around, I believe.

          • Jen says:

            Yes but if Donald Trump is banned from visiting Britain and is then elected President, and then someone mistakes Johnson for Trump, Johnson might end up being banned from Britain.

            Good Lord, you’re right, Johnson is dangerous.

            ” … “Deep down, in a primal way, [Americans] regret the fundamental schism of 1776 and they wish that we were in a single commonwealth of English-speaking peoples again united under Her Majesty.

            “That’s what they secretly want. They have been deprived of it too long, that blissful pride that goes with a hereditary monarchy.” …”

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Johnson’s a US citizen. He was thinking of ditching his US citizenship recently when he received a tax demand off the US government: like all US citizens, he is taxed on foreign earnings. He was faced with a whopping tax bill off Uncle Sam and said he wouldn’t pay it and would rescind his US citizenship: he did and he didn’t.

            • cartman says:

              Sorry, but it’s actually true. No heirs to the Revolution survived.

            • yalensis says:

              “That’s what they secretly want. They have been deprived of it too long, that blissful pride that goes with a hereditary monarchy.” …”

              There may be some truth in that, sadly.
              Every American that I know is utterly besotted by the British monarchy, and news about the little princes and the fairy-tale weddings, and so so in the tabloids…
              It’s disgusting. I blame Disney for a lot of this. American kids are raised to think that kings and queens and princes and princesses are the only people who matter. Every little American girl wants to be a “princess”. She wants power without responsibility, while getting to wear a gorgeous dress and tiara..

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “It’s disgusting. I blame Disney for a lot of this. American kids are raised to think that kings and queens and princes and princesses are the only people who matter. Every little American girl wants to be a “princess”. She wants power without responsibility, while getting to wear a gorgeous dress and tiara..”

                Exactly! Soviet animation, even when it adapted fairy-tales, was more “pro-working class” with its portrayals of of various heroes. Now, try as you might, you won’t remember enough big-screen animated (human – screw you, Pinocchio!) heroes/heroines from the American animation (not only Disney here) who were not

                a) Royals
                b) Nobles
                c) Ascended via marriage/circumstances to A or B

                Hell, Soviet animation managed a lot of other amazing stuff – like pushing an atheistic narrative in adaptations of Greek Myths, while keeping them PG-13 and genuinely interesting.

                Can someone explain to me – what’s wrong with the Hollywood and Americans, with their tendency to whitewash the Royals and ignoring their (centuries long) assholery towards commoners? Maybe, its because they were never really at the receiving end of such treatment for any meaningful period?

                And this attitude transcends just movies and animations – this ingrained disdain for the “unwashed masses” and fascination with “Nobility” easily explains their knee-jerk reaction to everything connected with the October Revolution in Russia or with the Great Revolution in France.

                • yalensis says:

                  Oh my god, Lyt, don’t get me started about American culture.
                  It is elitist and anti-people to the bone.
                  Even teenage fantasy series like “Twilight” and the novels of Cassandra Clare create worlds of “elite” children who are the sons and daughters of various elites. Even when they are vampires, werewolves, or demon-slayers they are still of “royal blood”, somehow and lead “special lives” apart from the dirty hoi polloi.

                  And you make a good point that many of the original fairy tales are actually fairly “populist”, with a focus on ordinary people. For example, Hansel and Gretel are two basically under-privileged ordinary children whose parents struggle to make ends meet, and the children are basically left alone to their own devices much of the day. Which is why they get into so much trouble!

              • Jen says:

                I noticed this monarchical tendency even in the few episodes of “Star Trek: Next Generation” that I saw when I had to spend some time in hospital years ago. In every episode Captain Picard was either the central character or prominent in some way, and everyone else – even his deputies – revolved around him.

                Also in the past when Americans (and the British too, for that matter) dealt with indigenous peoples in their colonies, they always singled out one person as “chief”, and imposed their political systems on these groups, even though in a lot of these people’s cultures, political and military power were usually diffused through councils so that whoever was the military leader was not the political leader, and power was not concentrated in one person or the position s/he held.

                • yalensis says:

                  Well, as the Captain of the Ship, Picard did enjoy extraordinary powers, like any ship captain does. But you are right, that the crew, upon encountering the denizens of other planets, often acted in imperial fashion. And most of those alien cultures turned out to be monarchies or oligarchies of some sort.
                  It’s like Americans cannot, even subconsciously, even when writing fantasy fiction, cannot fathom the concept of an actual fuctioning democracy. Maybe because they have never experienced one themselves – ha ha! (laughing sadly)

                • yalensis says:

                  P.S. – Brits can’t fathom a society other than monarchical/oligarchical, either.

                  Which is why it’s so funny – the collision between normal expectations and a completely different approach – when, in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, the knights encounter the peasant (Eric Idle) and ask him, “Who is your leader?” and he replies, “We don’t have a leader, we are an autonomous anarchist collective.”

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Here’s one who can, although I have never termed myself as a “Brit” but as a British citizen, formerly “British subject”.

                  I know very many other British citizens who are of like mind as mine.

                • Cortes says:

                  I agree with ME.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  See, there’s another whom I know!


                • Patient Observer says:

                  Hollywood movies have space aliens saying “Take me to your leader”. If the leader refuses the generous offer of say, giving them all of our oxygen, then the aliens have a convenient pretext for violence. It says a lot of time with silly negotiations that could involve compromise – can’t have that!

                  As they say, art imitates life (or is it the other way around?)

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Moscow Exile:
                  I don’t consider you to be a typical “Brit” !

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  I’m not, and I avoid them like the plague if I can.


    • yalensis says:

      New rule:
      Whenever a national leader like Orban or Nixon says, “I am not a crook” or “We are not parasites”, then the other person should respond with “Yes, you are!”

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    >a href=””>Идеальный шторм в Кремле

    Катастрофа для Путина наступит в тот момент, когда россияне начнут поворачиваться от выдуманного мира пропаганды к реальности

    A perfect storm in the Kremlin

    Disaster will come for Putin at that moment when Russian citizens begin to turn away from the fantasy world of propaganda and face reality

    The Kremlin is in a perfect storm situation: the failure of the economy and an impending failure in politics. In 2013-2014 Russia suffered a much greater foreign policy failure than all its failures in domestic policy and the economy. The Russian authorities had turned a corner, out of which there is no turning back. …

    With the inverted optics of television, a complete failure becomes a huge win. To present the economic failure as a huge economic breakthrough it is impossible not to lie: people still go to the store and see the real price, go to work and see what has happened to their salary. So lying is useless.

    Meanwhile, in foreign policy it is not just lying, but a complete mirror image of what is happening. In this back-to-front mirror world, world isolation means a growing influence in the international arena; the failure in the Ukraine means the salvation of Donbass Ukrainians; the failure in China means the strengthening of our position in Eurasia; the hovering in the air and leading nowhere Eurasian Union looks like a powerful union – there are no criteria, people can check it. The phrase “the position of Russia in the world has increased” means nothing : it’s just a bunch of words. Go and check: has it strengthened or weakened?

    What are the criteria for this assertion? There are no allies? To hell with them: “We are Russians: we shall survive … was it not so in 1942?”; “You lie; I will not”; “They beat us, and we grow stronger”. Foreign trade drastically reduced? Well, well … we will make substitutions. Russia is not loved around the world? We are doing the right thing: they are so afraid and jealous of us because we have “risen from our knees”.

    This mirror-image world really appears from time to time in the eyes of Russians. Disaster for Putin will come when his eyes begin to turn towards reality. So he does everything in his power not to do so. For this reason, in particular, there is no escape from the Ukraine. For the same reason he can’t bloody well get out of Syria, although this was a stupid adventure for sure and which no one likes. Look how mysteriously the word “terrorism” has become less clear. The main thing is that there is no war, and so that there won’t be a war, we need to fight. Once we are at war, then there will be no war. Once we bomb, therefore, there will be peace — this is the logic of Russian propaganda.

    This is Orwell. But real life is not an Orwellian fairy tale, a science fiction novel, and if you don’t build a completely closed country such as North Korea — and Putin, under no circumstances wants to build such a country — then sooner or later everything will fall into place and reality will make itself felt. I guess next year will be a turning point, because the myth of the great victories, strengthening our influence in the world should have to be fed with some real events. Let them be wacky events, like the war in Syria, but they will be real.

    Meanwhile, in 2016 Russia’s foreign policy is doing nothing. Yes, last year after the failure in the Ukraine, events have turned to Syria. And if it were not for Syria, then the rotten nature of this so-called “Donetsk Republic” would be spoken of in every talk-show, where it would be told how bad it is to live in the Ukraine — but so what? Yes, living in the Ukraine is terrible and bad. But in all CIS countries they live poorly. In the Ukraine there are bribes: in all the CIS countries there are bribes. In the Ukraine there is a collapse of the economy: in all post-Soviet countries there is a collapse of the economy. What’s next? What’s our game? In what are we meritorious? Nothing to be said. Zilch. So we have turned to Syria. Fine. But the Syrian card is a small one, a six, and there are no new cards at hand. Goddamit! It is so easy nowadays to get anywhere in the world. Who is there to fight with so that once more we may show that we are a force to be reckoned with? Against Somali pirates, perhaps? No — too easy.

    In order to boast of some successes, you need to do something. Russia has no single trump card: neither in economics nor in culture nor in technology nor in what is called soft power. As a matter of fact, it’s the same in all CIS countries. Nobody in the world watches our movies: nobody reads a single book that is written in Russia; not a single Russian person is famous worldwide — only athletes, who are constantly withdrawn because of doping. There is nothing to put on the table of public opinion. In this situation there is only one trump card: “Our weapons are powerful and our tanks are fast” and “We do missiles as well”. But where to let them roar? You can, of course, do this in the Middle East: it is a very volatile region, but Putin is very much afraid of this.

    Some crazy anti-Putin political scientists once wrote that the Russian President is planning to launch a nuclear attack on Saudi Arabia. In a sense they are right. At least, such a clash would be beneficial for Russia as there would be an explosion in the oil market and crazy prices for oil. But Putin will never risk taking such a step. That would really be war and not like the Donbass: it would be a disaster.

    And it would cost a pretty penny to play somewhere else. He has already put his two cents worth into Syria and he’s neither won or lost there.They can either withdraw or stay, but it’s no game.The big game — say, in Alliance with Iran to attack Israel, Turkey or Saudi Arabia or all three together means unleashing a world war, or rather a regional war with an absolute global measure. This will lead to the destruction of the Russian state, and very quickly at that. It would be jumping into the fire. Putin knows this, so he is afraid of putting a match to the Middle East. He is afraid. He just wants to stand by and do nothing of great effect.

    On this basis, let’s assume that in 2016 the systemic crisis in the Russian government reaches a new stage — to the deep frustration over social and economic policy will be added a deep amazement with foreign policy. In other words, this year the coach will begin to turn into a pumpkin. When the idea that “the Emperor is in fact naked” is in a critical number of heads, I wouldn’t give you three kopeks for the existence of the regime. What will happen in Russia; what kind of shocks will there be and what will be their consequences? Nobody can say.
    Leonid Radzikhovsky

    Written by yet another I-hate-Russia “Russian”.

    Par for the course, I suppose

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Bloody hell!

      Bum link again!!!!

      Here it is one more time:

      Идеальный шторм в Кремле

      A perfect storm in the Kremlin

      Of further interest:

      Radzikhovsky: Moscow Acts As If Ukraine Is Russia’s Internal Affair

      Underlying the current escalation of tensions between Moscow and Kiev is a fundamental difference in the way the two nations define themselves, a leading Moscow commentator says. For Ukrainians, “Ukraine is Ukraine,” but for Russians, “Russia is Russia plus Ukraine”.

      • cartman says:

        Is that true? Try to find an article on the Ukraine in the Western MSM from the last 20 years and see if it’s not about Russia?

      • marknesop says:

        Radzikhovsky does not offer any hint as to the model he admires, and I am hard-pressed to imagine what it might be. It sounds as if he respects countries that are stronk, like America, even if he does not like everything they do. But if he was looking for a model of a country that minds its own affairs and conducts its business with the world on an amicable, laissez-faire basis he could hardly have chosen a worse example. At the same time, while he seems to think Russia is doing wrong by not extending a helping hand to Ukraine so it can be all it can be under that pretty blue flag with the stars on it, surely he can see that is contrary to Russia’s interests. If Russia habitually paid no attention to what went on in countries which border upon it, it would now be surrounded by NATO military bases, and he’d have a hard time arguing Russia didn’t give NATO any slack, because Russia said little while NATO gobbled up Poland and the Baltics, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. So he must, ipso-facto, believe that NATO’s intentions are benign and that it means Russia no harm. What dunderheads they have in the Kremlin, that they cannot see it!!

    • marknesop says:

      A perfect storm in Leonid Radzikhovsky’s mind. If only wishing would make our desires true. But it won’t.

    • “Leonid Radzikhovsky”

      By the name he sounds like another Russian-Jewish hater of Russia?

      Hard to understand why the Jews hate Russia so much in spite of having so much wealth in Russia.

      • yalensis says:

        Oh, now you are just being sly, Dear Karl.

        Radzikhovsky is a Russian Jew, yes; and more to the point, a typical Russian liberal, espousing all the expected political positions, i.e., that Crimean reunification was bad thing, etc.

        And yet, in his biography I see no sign that Radzikhovsky is an oligarch or even wealthy. No, surprisingly, not all Jews possess mountains of gold.

        Born in 1953. Parents were microbiologists. Studied at Moscow State University, graduated in 1975, degree in Psychology. Published several works. During “wild ’90’s”, no, surprisingly, Radzikhovsky did not buy factories nor become an enterpreneur, nor an oligarch. Continued to make his modest living by WRITING, eventually wandered into journalism and politics.
        Currently writes for “Ekho Moskvy”. Like I said, is typical, nauseating Russian liberal.

        But prove to me that he is wealthy or possesses that “Jew magic” for accumulating gold. Otherwise dear Karl, I tag you as anti-Semite for your comment.

  5. Drutten says:

    How come this isn’t all over the place in the news here in enlightened Scandinavia?

    The USA has had its “Foreign Agents Registration Act” for god knows how long, and Israel has legislation akin to this in the works. Makes perfect sense.

    When Russia did it, the condemnations in Swedish media just wouldn’t end.

    • Jen says:

      Perhaps if someone in the US govt compared the Israeli law on the registration of foreign-funded NGOs to the Russian law, then Ayelet Shaked will move mountains to get rid of the Israeli law.

      Incidentally Shaked is the politician who called for genocide of all Palestinians, who opined that all mothers of Palestinians should be killed and who advocated deporting all African illegal immigrants after shoving them into a detention camp somewhere in the Negev desert.

      Voted best-looking female Knesset member in a poll of 300 women aged 20 – 60 years conducted by the Israeli Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery. Should Shaked be worried?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Kirby also said that since the Israeli Cabinet green-lighted the bill, U.S. officials have expressed concerns about the dangers it could pose to a “free and functioning civil society.

      Again and again the US government expresses its “concern” about whether a civil society that is not under its jurisdiction is a “free and functioning” one.

      What business is it of theirs whether this be the case?

      Oh, I see! If one counters this alleged “concern” of theirs, as I have just done, then one exposes oneself as being “undemocratic”, against “democracy” and all that is good and wholesome in the world and that which made what the USA is — the “Exceptional Nation”, whose best buddy everyone else wishes to be.

      I suppose Pinochet’s society, together with a host of others of like nature and over whom the US government apparently showed minimal concern — in fact, such regimes were set up and nurtured by US government agencies — were “free and functioning”.

      • marknesop says:

        “Civil Society”, in State Departmentspeak, is merely code for “NGO’s”. If you do not allow the free presence and unrestricted operation of American human-rights NGO’s in your country, then you are an enemy of a ‘free and functioning civil society’. An excellent and timely example is Aliyev of Azerbaijan, and you can see he has attracted the do-gooder beam of the OSCE, to whom Azerbaijan has ‘commitments’. The west would like to have the capability to overthrow Aliyev in a quick and businesslike fashion if he should get too uppity, because it could strike cheap gas contracts with the opposition, and it is from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz Field that Europe hopes to run its vaunted Southern Gas Corridor. Since Aliyev is a crook and a dictator – although that is not necessarily a deal-breaker – the west wants lots of NGO’s there to keep an eye on him and to lay the groundwork for a spontaneous ‘grass-roots resistance’ if he should get too full of himself and forget who his friends are. Aliyev is well aware of this, being cut from much the same cloth as Lukashenko, and a couple of years ago he instituted laws which dramatically restricted the operations of western NGO’s. That will likely turn out to have been a smart move on his part, but it has earned him the displeasure of western democracy activists and government figures.

  6. Patient Observer says:

    This article hits the nail on the head:
    Karl, you won’t understand.

  7. et Al says:

    Russian Space Web: Soyuz crew in close-call docking with ISS


    Pretty shocking stuff. See the link for details.

    • Drutten says:

      Shocking? I watched it live as it happened. These Cosmonauts know their stuff.

      I found it rather refreshing actually. The Russians perfected automated, computer-run spaceflight and docking procedures a long time ago (in fact, NASA didn’t develop proper space autopilots until well into the 1990’s, for their shuttles, whereas the sole Soviet shuttle orbited and landed entirely automatically to begin with) and Russian manned spaceflight has been effortless for decades. Every now and then though, these automated systems do get messed up and the Cosmonauts have to take matters into their own hands. They know what to do, and it’s both refreshing and reassuring to see.

      The most awesome example of this is Salyut-7 and the Soyuz T-13 crew. That whole thing was a true space adventure, with the crew making an entirely manual free-flight approach and docking to a dead, dark and freezing cold space station (all systems were down on Salyut-7), in order to manually repair and revive it. Absolutely incredible, what they achieved. At Salyut-7, once revived and put back into working order by these brave and skilled Cosmonauts also served as another spaceflight first later on – i.e. the first time anybody flew a spaceship from earth to one space station, left it, changed orbit and docked with another space station (the new Mir, whose design serves as the basis for the contemporary ISS). It was Soyuz T-15 and the feat hasn’t been repeated since.

      In fact, there’s a new Russian movie being made about the Salyut-7 adventures.

      • Patient Observer says:

        I agree, nothing shocking at all. A glitch was detected, the computer aborted the docking and the cosmonaut completed manually. A much-updated Soyuz will launch in 2016 with these improvements per wikipedia:

        Soyuz MS is the final planned upgrade of the Soyuz spacecraft. Its maiden flight is expected to happen in 2016.[9][10] Major changes include:[11][12]
        – more efficient solar panels
        -modified docking and attitude control engine positions for redundancy during docking and de-orbit burns
        – new Kurs NA approach and docking system which is half the weight and consumes a third of the power of previous system
        – new TsVM-101 computer, about one tenth the weight (8.3 kg vs. 70 kg) and much smaller than the previous Argon-16 computer[13]
        – unified digital command/telemetry system (MBITS) to relay telemetry via satellite, and control spacecraft when out of sight of ground stations; also provides the crew with position data when out of ground tracking range[13]
        – GLONASS/GPS and Cospas-Sarsat satellite systems for more accurate location during search/rescue operations after landing

      • marknesop says:

        Inspiring. Russians must be proud of their heroes, but these are in fact all of our heroes, because space exploration benefits the knowledge of all mankind – and to the best of my understanding Russian discoveries are shared freely. The continued efforts of the west to advance civilization while cutting out the Russians as if they were some kind of sub-species is disgraceful.

        • yalensis says:

          Cosmonauts and astronauts are the true heroes of our time.
          Anybody who is brave enough to let themself be strapped into a tin can and be blasted off into space with a thousands gallons of rocket fuel underneath their ass — well, all I can say is that such people have the Right Stuff!

          • Patient Observer says:

            I believe it was John Glenn (first US astronaut to orbit the earth) that had a good quip (or perhaps its an urban legend). When asked how he felt about the plan to launch him into space, he replied something like “How would you feel if you were strapped on a rocket with hundreds of thousands of pounds of fuel, millions of parts and built by the lowest bidder?”

            • Patient Observer says:

              Alan Shepard, first US astronaut in space, apparently did say this:
              “It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”

              • yalensis says:

                Yuri Gagarin probably said similar things, but they were all off the record!
                His official quote was: Поехали!

                “Let’s go!”

              • marknesop says:

                That is a common military saying as well – “always remember, the weapons system you are using was made by the lowest bidder”. Mind you, when you are up in the amounts these contracts usually come to, “low” is a relative term. There are other factors as well which eliminate competitors from the race who cannot deliver the system within a set time-frame, or who source their materials from other countries, etc…

    • yalensis says:

      Mucho Thanks for link, Al!
      You helped me with a commenter on my blog who wanted more info about this story. I referred him to your link.

  8. marknesop says:

    It will be fun to take a snapshot in, say, July, and see if Russia or the World Bank is correct. The World Bank is said to forecast that Russia will remain in recession in 2016, with a further reduction of .7%, while the Russian minister responsible recently said he thought the western outlook was too conservative and that Russia should experience growth of about 2%, if I recall correctly. The World Bank, meanwhile, is allegedly predicting that Ukraine’s economy will grow in 2016 by 1%, and by 2% in 2017. Looks like Ukraine has turned the corner!! Also looks like hallucinogenics have been legalized at the World Bank.

    Economics expert referenced is, of course, Timothy Garton-Ash. I guess Anders Aslund was taking a nap or washing his hair or something.

    • Jen says:

      Don’t forget that any growth in Ukraine’s economy will be starting from a very low base as of 1 January 2016 so a growth rate of 1% in 2016 and a growth rate of 2% in 2017 both would need a microscope to be seen.

  9. marknesop says:

    More angst over Nord Stream II – I read recently that Gazprom has reduced its ownership to 50%, so that it is now on a more even footing and it is even more difficult for the EC to argue that the pipeline violates its precious Third Energy Package.

    Besides, others are doubtful that would even apply – it is an offshore pipeline and would come under the TEP (if at all) only where it comes ashore. The EC is desperately looking for a way to stop it, but if they cannot, Ukraine is hooped.

    I forgot Sefcovic is a Slovak; no wonder he is lobbying so hard against it – Slovakia stands to lose out on transit fees as well.

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    ‘Let’s not overdramatize’: EU downplays Polish govt state media seizure

    I trust that henceforth, whenever the Polish mass media is mentioned by the MSM, the particular Polish news medium written or spoken about is necessarily preceded by the expression “state controlled”.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Why is US media never referred to as “Wall Street Controlled” or “Corporate-controlled”? I would prefer state-controlled media in which the citizens have a nominal control and possibly a common interest versus privately held media which ultimately represents the owner’s interest. Worse, the owners themselves are often unknown.

      • marknesop says:

        It makes me laugh that the western media thinks the Russian government could easily be overthrown if it could only find the right combination of charismatic replacement and civil discontent, yet Russian companies controlled by the government – because they have a state-security implication which could threaten the state’s well-being if they were under the control of a foreign interest – are unassailable. Why don’t they mount a takeover of Gazprom by liberal weenies? Answer – because deep down, they believe politicians are useless and easily interchangeable, while corporate heads fought their way to the top and are to be respected even if they are an enemy. You never see the western media write “Miller” when it means “Gazprom”, the way it says “Putin” when it means “Moscow” or “Russia”.

        If the Russian people were collectively unsatisfied with Gazprom’s performance or with the way it was being run, they would be perfectly capable of unseating its corporate heads and replacing them. But you never see the western media advocate for that. They just carp and whine about how the business is “government controlled”. What would happen if Carlos Slim tried to buy a controlling interest in Exxon-Mobil? He could easily afford it. Would the U.S. government block it? You best believe they would. You don’t need to take my word for it; what happened when CNOOC tried to buy UNOCAL? I’ll let The Washington Post tell you.

        “Chinese oil company Cnooc Ltd. on Tuesday withdrew its $18.5 billion takeover bid for California energy firm Unocal Corp., saying it could not overcome resistance from politicians in Washington who said such a deal could threaten U.S. national security and violate the rules of fair trade.”

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    You can only please some of the people some of the time:

    Posted today on the Russian blogosphere by a delighted Muscovite who is pleased that we are enjoying a “real Russian winter”. (It was unseasonably mild mid-December — no snow!)

    I’m pretty sure that’s Chistye Prudy Boulevard.

    Posted shortly after the above by a disgruntled Muscovite, who writes:

    “I want a real winter! Frost! Snow!”

    I suggest to everyone who wanted real winter fun that every night he come to my house, clear the snow off my car, remove its battery and place it in my apartment. And in the morning, that he do this all over, but in reverse order, apart from covering the car with snow, that is: that’s not necessary.

    You can start right here this Sunday, dear lovers of “a real” winter!

    What a misery guts!

    Maybe he wants to live in Florida?

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    «Когда пришли солдаты»

    When the Soldiers Came — the rape of German women at the end of the Second World War

    The book written by German Professor Miriam Gebhardt “When the soldiers came” has caused a shock in Europe. A German Professor has debunked the myth of the “atrocities” of the Red Army: the Germans were massively raped by the Anglo-Saxons.

    “Lessons of the victory over Nazi Germany” was the title of a conference, which was held in London right on time — before the 70th anniversary of the Victory. But how many of the Old Testament style clichés instead of objective analysis did the British experts! Again and again harping on the “decisive contribution made by the Anglo-American allies to achieving victory.” And they frequently made reminders of “raped Germany” — raped, of course, by soldiers of the Red Army. A terrible figure of 2 million rape victims was cited, although this has long been refuted by declassified documents from the war.

    In contrast to such charges, the writer of these lines participated in the conference and read excerpts from the book “When the soldiers came”, which has just been published in Germany. Written by German history professor Miriam Gebhardt, it presents facts and figures, to which I am not able to close my eyes.


    A private soldier in an American armoured battalion, Blake Mariano was certainly a brave soldier. He had fought the Germans in Africa, Italy and southern France. In March 1945 his tank crossed the Rhine and moved into Germany.

    By this time 29-year-old Blake had not been home in the state of New Mexico for almost three years. In the British Isles he had a girlfriend waiting for him. However, that night the American was not thinking of her. He decided to celebrate the capture of the village of Lauf, and, together with another American soldier, found a cellar with a good cognac. Having plucked up some Dutch courage, he wanted to “continue the fun”.

    In the local church there were hiding seventeen villagers — women and children. Blake pointed a gun at 20-year-old Elfrida, brought her out to the yard and raped her. Back in the church, he picked out another German woman. When it turned out that 40-year-old Martha was having her period, he shot her. The woman died the next day in agony. But the brave soldier was in the meantime involved with 54-year-old Babette.

    Talking about this episode, Miriam Gebhardt says:

    One of the persistent and popular images depicting the Second World war, is as follows: freeing Germany from the Nazis, British and American troops behaved quite decently, but Red Army soldiers raped hundreds of thousands of German women aged from eight up to eighty years. In fact, everything was otherwise.

    The author gives the following data:

    Americans subjected to sexual violence 190 thousand inhabitants of Germany, the British 45 thousand, the French — about the same. As regards the Red Army, Gebhardt writes hardly anything, but she believes the figure of 2 million “repeatedly overstated”.


    The book “When the Soldiers Came” has caused confusion amongst people in the United Kingdom.

    “If the information is correct”, stated a journalists at the London “Daily Mail”, then we should seriously reconsider our evaluation of the liberation of Germany by allied troops. In addition, it should radically change the attitude to those whom we consider ‘our greatest generation'”.

    A total of only 152 American soldiers were convicted of rape during the Second World War. But this list is certainly not complete, since such crimes were rarely reported. According to estimates of the British scientist Leon Radzinowicz, only five percent of women report violence against them. They become ashamed and remain silent.

    During the war this figure was even lower. “When American soldiers entered towns and villages of the Third Reich, to the terrified inhabitantst they screamed :

    “You’ll sleep with me!” is quoted in the book, “Many German women did sleep with them: some did so in order to themselves and their loved ones; some did it in return for simple gifts; and some did it of their own free willl”.

    After the war, some “heroes” who had ended up in American prisons admitted that the rape was not necessary, since they sometimes agreed on everything in return for nylon stockings or even for a pack of cigarettes.

    Many cases are so frightful that Gebhardt did not dare, she said, to write about them. Especially about the abuse of children. For example, one of the victims was only three years old.

    Crimes were often committed by a brutal group of robbers and looters. One March night in 1945, six totally drunken Americans broke into a Frankfurt house. In the course of a few hours they raped in the same room the mistress of the house and her 18-year-old daughter, who into the street was screaming “Mama!” But no one came to help. All the valuable things that were in the house the soldiers carried away.

    Most German women told local priests about what had happened to them. Miriam Gebhardt presents an entry from the journal of Michael Merxmüller, a priest in Berchtesgaden :

    “Eight girls raped, some in front of their parents.”

    The author adds that the British and the French “tried not to lag behind” the Americans. On 16 April 1945, soldiers from the UK spent several hours bullying three residents of the town Neustadt. And in the village of Ayl soldiers dragged off a little girl into the woods and when she began to scream, they shot her.


    In the armies of the allies the punishment for a sexual offence was theoretically severe: sometimes life imprisonment; in some cases, even the death penalty. But the highest ranks, as a rule, tried not to wash dirty linen in public. Why embarrass oneself?

    Military courts have been too indulgent to such “violators”. Yes, there are the courts: the British king himself sometimes took his subjects under protection. One of the English soldiers, in the light of irrefutable evidence, was sentenced to a long prison term. But after less than two years, at the behest of the monarch,he was fully exempted from criminal liability.

    Nevertheless, the London press now criticizes Miriam Gebhardt. They say that the allies certainly would have committed atrocities, but not on this scale. And children born of raped the German women? Certainly not two thousand, as calculated by the historian — certainly far fewer than that. The author of the book has even been accused of anti-Americanism.

    However, the same “Daily Mail” admits that “at the end of the war in the occupied territories terrible things happened”, and reprints exctracts concerning private Blake Mariano.

    By the way, in his case justice was served. According to a court martial decision, Mariano was hanged for murder and rape.

    “But still, his death was more lightweight than the fate of many of those he and others like him murdered”, says the book.


    It should be reminded that in 2013 there was published a sensational book entitled:”What soldiers do: sex and the American military in France during the Second World War”, written by Professor Mary Roberts of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who in the foreword said:

    “My book upsets the old myth about American soldiers who, by all accounts, always behaved well. The Americans were having sex everywhere and with all who wore a skirt.”

    Going to another continent, servicemen were promised an “erotic adventure”, and this “mission” they performed with great zeal. Discriminated against in the U.S., for black Americans blacks as well as people from African tribes, this European “adventure” became a way to take out ” vengeance against the whites”.

    “In may 1944, the Allied forces of ‘democracy and equality” finally managed to capture Monte Cassino in the central of Italy. In part the Allies consisted of Moroccan troops. They were mediocre soldiers, but they had no equal in the killing of prisoners and the rape of civilians. The night after the battle of Monte Cassino, the division of Moroccan soldiers — 12 000 Moroccans — stole away from its camp and, like locusts, fell upon the group of mountain villages that lay in the surroundings of Monte Cassino. They raped in these villages the women and girls whom they found. The number of victims is estimated to have been about 3,000 women, aged from 11 to 86 years. They killed 800 village men who tried to protect their women. Some of the women they raped to such an extent that more than 100 of them died.

    …Moroccan soldiers selected the prettiest girls for gang rape and a long line of dark-skinned men stood before each of them waiting their turn, while other Moroccans held the victims. Two sisters, 15 and 18 years, were raped by more than 200 Moroccans each. One of them died, the other spent the last 53 years in a psychiatric hospital. In the villages, the Moroccans raped young men”. (William Luther Pierce, “The Women Of Monte Cassino”)

    The study, based on the study of wartime archives not only in France but in the U.S., helped to identify the fact that violence and satisfaction of physiological needs were the main methods used by the American military to “establish their authority over the French”.

    And after that, when all “the charm of the liberators” had finally come and gone, in 1951 the CIA conducted an experiment with the mass use of LSD on the inhabitants of a small French town, Pont-Saint-Esprit, in which 5 people were killed, and the remaining 500 people were seized by an outbreak of madness.

    P. S. “Officers and soldiers! We are going into the country of the enemy. Each must keep self-control. Everyone must be brave…the Remaining population in the conquered areas, regardless of whether German, Czech or Pole, should not be subjected to violence. The guilty will be punished according to the laws of wartime. On the conquered territory sexual relations with the females is prohibited. For violence and rape, the perpetrators will be shot.”

    The Directive of the Supreme command commander of troops and members of military councils of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian Fronts about the change of attitude towards German prisoners and civilian population

    On 20 April 1945, the Supreme Command orders:

    1. Demand that attitudes towards the Germans as prisoners of war and civilians be changed. Relationships with the Germans is to be made better. Cruel treatment of the Germans makes them fear us, which causes them to resist us more determinedly and not to surrender to us and become captives. The civilian population, fearing reprisals, has organized itself in gangs. This situation is not profitable for us. A more humane attitude towards the Germans will facilitate our combat operations in their territory and, undoubtedly, will reduce the persistence of the Germans in the defensive.

    2. In parts of Germany West of the line of the river Oder, Furstenberg, on the Neisse river (West) a German administration is to be created and German burgomasters established in the cities. Ordinary members of the National Socialist Party, if they are loyal to the Red Army, are not to be touched; if they have not already had time to flee, only the Nazi leaders are to be detained.

    3. The improvement of our attitude towards the Germans should not lead to reduced vigilance and familiarity with them.

    The Supreme Command.

    End of translation


    Projecting one’s own guilt towards one’s perceived enemies!

    Now where have I seen that before? ….

    • yalensis says:

      The one bit I might doubt is the “research” by William Luther Pierce (“The Women Of Monte Cassino”). Pierce was a rabid white racist who was obsessed with the notion of black men raping white women. Not that such things don’t happen, and maybe in this case his research was valid; but just sayin’ that anything written or claimed by Pierce should be treated with high suspicion and fact-checked to death.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Politics aside, the man was an ordinary crook who used his ‘movement’ to finance his opulent, gentleman-on-the-land lifestyle. He enjoyed quite a Sybaritic existence for somebody whose political platform called for the destruction of modern civilisation and the eradication of most human beings. Though like most supposed American radicals, he was a lifelong stool pigeon for the FBI (see also David Duke).

        • yalensis says:

          Ooooh I didn’t know that Pierce was a rat-fink for the FBI! Not surprised though.
          The FBI had collected themselves quite a cast of characters over the years.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        There was mass rape around Cassino, though, perpetrated by French colonial North African troops. The French hushed it up, as did the US commander Mark Clark.

        I have a book here about the Battle of Monte Cassino that gives an account of the rapes: no mention of “revenge against whites” though, and no mention of Afro-American troops doing the same, nor of British Indian Army troops raping Italian women either.

        My father fought at Cassino with the British 8th Army 4th Indian Division and throughout his life had nothing but praise for the Sikhs and Rajputs in that division.

        See: Marocchinate

        • Moscow Exile says:

          By the way, these Moroccans who did the raping were known as “goumiers”. They are called “irregulars” in history books. I supposed that means they were indisciplined murderers in some kind of sloppy uniform – sort of like the bashi-bazouk irregulars that the Ottomans used to give free rein to in the Balkans and who were used to terrorize Christian subjects of the Sultan into subservience, as illustrated below:

          The Bulgarian Martyresses by Konstantin Makovsky

          It was regular brutalities such as that illustrated above that led to the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and in which the fictitious Anna Karenina’s equally fictitoius and dashing fancy-man Count Vronsky took part, so he couldn’t have been all that a bad egg, really.

          The Turks, as usual, got their collective arses kicked by the Russians, but dear old Britannia and French Marianne, together with Prussia’s Bismarck and the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz-Ferdinand put the blocks on Russia seizing the Porte: pissed on their chips as they say in my old neck of the woods.

          • yalensis says:

            Yup. And to this day, Bulgarians esteem American journalist Januarius MacGahan, who published accounts of Turkish atrocities.
            His articles helped dampen whatever ardor British public opinion may have had for that country (and other Western European countries) to intervene on the side of Turkey.
            Which would have been their normal instinct, since Turkey was fighting against Russia.

            140 years have gone by, and nothing has really changed, has it?

        • Cortes says:

          I believe there’s reference to the Moroccans’ behaviour at Cassino in a book edited by Hamish Henderson? “A Time to Kill”, which provides eye witness accounts by soldiers in the Western Front 1944-45, also including a startling US testimony on events inside the occupied Reich.

          Earlier, Franco deployed Moroccans in the repression of the miners’ strike in Asturias in 1934 (I.e. During the Republic) with results similar to Cassino…

          • yalensis says:

            I don’t actually doubt what the Moroccans did in this instance, there is too much historical evidence to prove it. I just get a little queasy when people quote William Luther Pierce about the horrors of black-on-white rape. Pierce and his ilk see it as a simple black/white skin issue with no subtleties for ethnic groups, nationalities, wartime alliances, political allegiances, etc.

            Sadly, Pierce never wrote a book about white American slave-owners and their repeated rapes of African women. But on the other hand, that’s a different story too, because most African-Americans and their descendants are not anything the same as Moroccans!

      • Jen says:

        Yes I recall Pierce was a hero of you-know-who who used to visit here.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Russia weak.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Are they burning Maidan posters, hryvnia, etc?

    • Jennifer Hor says:

      Wasting a lot of heat there. The Banderites should have directed the pipe and the smoke back into the room through the other window to recycle it and keep themselves warm.

      Farion won’t need to lob any bricks through their windows, they’re into punishing themselves anyway.

  13. Moscow Exile says:

    Remember this place?

    It’s that place the Western media constantly mocked as Putin’s crazy choice to hold the Winter Olympics of last year. (Putin decides on everything here, see.)

    Remember — a bloody stupid place in the tropics?

    and those people are impoverished Russians who are now forced to eat beaver and hedgehog because of Putin.

    They’re ready to rise against him, I tell you, when they see the light this year …

    Bloody miserable wretches!

    But don’t pity them too much! Remember, they’re Russians — not nice cultured westerners…

  14. Warren says:

    • Jen says:

      Then they’ll need another 200 years to work out how to put Russian military and political strategy into practice and then another 200 years on top of that to work out why, when they use it, it doesn’t produce the successes they want.

  15. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      It might almost be worth the sacrifice of signing up for a Facebook account, so I could write “Today I killed Eliot Higgins”. Then he would have to shut up and give us a break from his chunnering, because he would be dead. Everybody knows that what you read on Social Media is true. Like Samuel Rhodes, the UK football journalist working for The Times and The Telegraph, who had 20,000 followers and whose reports were re-tweeted by well-known sports sites, but who was in reality a 16-year-old kid named Sam Gardiner. Dutch artist Zilla Van Den Born’s Asian vacation, in which she pretended to be leaving from the airport, but just took the bus home and then photoshopped herself into various stock Asian tourist attractions on Facebook. The message from 4chan that informed you you could charge your iPhone by microwaving it for one minute, thanks to a new App called “Wave”. An attacking bear frightened off by a Justin Bieber ringtone on a cellphone (I would have believed that one). Facebook’s “Drug Task Force”, and the proliferation of fake Twitter accounts which are, apparently, perfectly legal providing they are a ‘parody’.

      Eliot Higgins is NATO’s dream come true, because he starts from a default truth – the Russians are lying, because they are liars who always lie – and then works backward from that conclusion to find evidence which supports it. A hell of a way to conduct investigations, provided you already know who the guilty party is. At the same time, the Ukrainian side can provide excuses like “Umm…whatever day that was, none of our aircraft were flying, and all our air-defense brigades were at the cleaners”, and there is no examination of it at all. As far as Eliot Higgins is concerned, there are no other suspects – now let’s get out there and make it true, people!

      • Warren says:

        Higgins a man with no tertiary qualifications, no technical, engineering or military experience is hailed by the Atlanticist media as an expert and credible source! It is extraordinary. NATO, MI5/6, MSM all cite the Leicester coach potato as some sort of an authority on Syria, Ukraine or any other conflict take place.

        The secret to Higgins success as you have alluded too, is his ideological bent, he quickly realised if slander and accuse Russia all the time you’ll quickly gain the attention and approval of the western MSM and governments. Higgins always starts from the premise that whichever country, ‘regime’ or leader the West doesn’t like is lying and guilty. From that premise, Higgins looks for ‘evidence’ that can corroborate his ideological prejudices.

        Higgins is a pro-US hegemony and Atlanticist conspiracy theorist!

  16. Warren says:

  17. Warren says:

  18. Moscow Exile says:

    Only 2 more days then back to work.


    The Moscow weather forecast for Sunday, 10 January, and Monday 11 and Tuesday 12:

    It’s going to be hard getting there on Monday morning, when I have to start at 07:30. If there is a heavy snowfall, it adds on at least half an hour to my travel-time. It would be much longer if I drove, of course: I am just talking about tramping from my house to the nearest metro station, which normally takes me about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how long I have to wait at traffic lights at a major, complex road junction.

    So it is going to be painfully cold on Monday morning, which means I shall have to put on my layers — thermal underwear (long johns), scarves, heavy winter overcoat, mittens, winter boots and “Russian” fur hat (ear flaps down) — which also will increase the time I have to get ready for work.

    And here’s an ironic picture taken the other day:

    That’s a statue of Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx’s best buddy and co-author of the Communist Manifesto, who also completed the last volume of Marx’s “Capital” after Marx had been unable to finish it after having been called up to the Great Soviet in the sky, and at Old Fritz’s feet is a crib.

    As Engel’s old pal once said: “Religion is the opium of the people” and like opium, it seems, it is bloody hard to shake off, even after an 80-odd year hiatus of official atheism.

    And across the street from that statue is this:

    The cathedral of Christ the Saviour, an exact replica of the original that the Bolsheviks had blown up in the 1930s.

    On the old cathedral site they built a huge open-air heated swimming pool. It was there when I first moved to Mother Russia. In winter the whole area always had a mist blowing around it and caused by the warm water vapour from the pool condensing in the very cold air.

    Anyway, they decided to rebuild the cathedral in the ’90s as a kind of atonement for their so-called godlessness. They are extremely superstitious buggers, are Russkies!

    That is my opinion, anyway.

    Here is a picture of the old pool, which I kind of miss:

    Engel’s statue is off the picture, bottom left at the road junction there.

    Bear in mind, if the powers-that-be had had their way, there would have been erected a huge Palace of the Soviets where the pool was and the cathedral is once more, and atop of the palace would have been a monstrous, Colossus-of-Rhodes type statue of Lenin, but A.Hitler put the blocks on this project in June 1941.

    Thanks, Adolf — sort of!


    • kirill says:

      I read some western tourist-aimed piece on the rebuilt cathedral and it was going on and on about how none of the cathedral was original. No shit, Sherlock. This is the sort of inanity that is fed westerners from every angle to keep their brains primed with pathological dislike for Russia. I was browsing a car magazine at a mechanics shop recently where they had a small piece on the Avotvaz Niva. The piece compared the persistence of the Niva to the dogged refusal of the current Russian regime to surrender power. Those bydlo Russian voters apparently don’t get to decide who governs them, but some car magazine writer in America does.

      • Oddlots says:

        Did it mention that any extant building in the whole of North Korea is also entirely “ersatz”? If not, they missed the opportunity for a further dig.

        Truly people are easy to lead if you flatter them.

        • Jen says:

          I suppose the publishers of those tourist brochures would wax lyrical about how Warsaw was meticulously reconstructed after 1945 with love and care from old blueprints brought out of storage.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The former and original cathedral was not quite 50 years old in any case when it was dynamited in 1931, though it took over 40 years to build. It was no architectural masterpiece either, in my opinion. I think it was quite ugly and heavy looking, as is its replica, of course. Muscovites used to mock the original, calling it “The Inkwell” (чернильница — chernil’nitsa. because it resembled one of those old, chunky, 19th century inkwells with a lid that used to sit on senior bureaucrats’ huge desktops.

        Something like this:

        If they had blasted some wondrous old cathedral such as the magnificent York Minster in England, which was finally completed as we now recognize it in 1472, then that would have been a different kettle of fish.

        There are, of course, many magnificent churches in Moscow that were not destroyed “on Stalin’s orders”, which are considerably older than Christ the Saviour was in 1931 and, in my opinion, are far more beautiful. For example, on Cathedral Square within the Kremlin walls are the Cathedral of the Dormition, the Cathedral of the Archangel, and the Cathedral of the Annunciation (see below), which were completed in 1479, 1509 and 1489 respectively:

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I once read that most of this is not original as well:

        H.M.S. Victory, Portsmouth, England

        I have been on board of her and it was a wonderful experience – only if you are fond of sailing ships, I suppose.

        The main anchors, for example, are wooden replicas, and the barrels of the main armament, the cannons, are plastic. You can still see real naval cannon of the time, but they are not on board Victory. For example, if all 30 of the bottom gun-deck 32-pounders were real, namely made of cast iron, not to mention all their round shot ammunition, the weight borne by what old timbers there remain in the old ship, now permanently berthed in a dry dock, would be unbearable. They could probably use real cannon if she were still afloat, but then again , that would cause maintenance problems.

        I do not think any of the tourist at Portsmouth Old Docks feel that they are being deceived in any way when the visit Victory.

        • marknesop says:

          I have done a couple of tours of her; you can always rely on some wag saying, upon reading the brass plate capping the small wooden block on the quarterdeck which reads “Here Nelson fell”, “No wonder – probably tripped over that block of wood”. One thing that strikes you, when moving about in the gun deck, is how much bigger we have gotten as a species since then. Although the lower decks were not meant to be luxurious, of course, men could once stand erect in them. Not now; even average-height men have to stoop.

        • yalensis says:

          And the slave ship “Amistad” docked in Mystic, Connecticut, is not actually the original Amistad either. It is a replica.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            She’s not a “ship”, me hearty: she’s a topsail schooner — aargghh, that she be!

            Now where’s me grog, ye lubbers?


            • marknesop says:

              Generally speaking, a ship is anything big enough to carry a boat (as they usually do if they are too big to lay alongside directly because they would scrape the bottom).

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Technically speaking and, I suppose, pedantically in this present day and age, a vessel that use sails as a means of propulsion is classified as a “ship” if she has three square-rigged masts.

                Why are submarines always classified as boats?

                Surely this (below) is no “boat”:

                A K-44 class boat heading off for sea trials, 1994.

                Do these submarines not carry at least some inflatable dinghies?

                That’s Murmansk shown above, by the way, about which city the Yukie press was delighted to report the other day that there was no gas supply and that the temperature there had fallen to -30C (-22F).

                • marknesop says:

                  Because it is a vessel which carries no boats (although she must have an inflatable or two). According to the definition, a ship is a vessel which cannot be carried by another ship. Submersibles at one time were carried by ships, although obviously they are a great deal bigger now. But it’s all tradition and semantics, and you can call a submarine Meryl Streep, or a dog, if you want to. Most people call it a boat, and that includes all professional sailors. I don’t know why; we’re a traditionalist lot.

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Dear Mark,
                  Carrier pilots sometimes call carriers “boats” as well. I think it is meant as a slightly denigrating term.

                • marknesop says:

                  That’s because they are Air Force. They cannot be expected to know anything worth knowing – mastering the concept of lift engages every one of their brain cells, and there’s nothing left to process polite service terminology.

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    re: Bolotnaya Square (getting too narrow above)
    This is from an article concerning the first Bolotnaya rally on 10 December 2011. The next ws on 24 December. The next was in May 2013.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I said “above”: should have been in the previous thread.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Alexandra Dukhinina

        Sentenced to 3 years and 3 months (suspended sentence).

        Dukhanina was detained on May 27 and was placed under house arrest. She is charged with participating in mass riots (parapraph 2, article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code) and using force against a representative of authority (paragraph 1, article 318 of the Russian Criminal Code).

        She is facing up to thirteen years in prison.

        Dukhanina was accused of throwing pieces of asphalt at a Special Unit policeman. The injured party “suffered skin reddening and physical pain”.

        Did she participate in a mass riot?

        Did she assault a police officer?

        A suspended sentence she was given.

        3 years and 3 months she got, yet the article states that she faces up to 13 years inside.

        Surely she has been convicted to 3 years and 3 months suspended, so why the statement at the end that she faces 13 years in prison?

        Have other charges been made against her?

        I think not.

        See: Alexandra Dukhanina

        Alexandra Dukhanina – an anarchist, a social activist, defender of Tsagovsky forest and a participant of “Occupy Abai”* was arrested 27th of May 2012. She is accused with statute 212 part 2 of criminal codex of Russian federation (to rioting) and 318 part 1 (violent against government official) in relation to events in Bolotnaya square 6th of May. 29th of May judge Natalya Dudar of Basmanniy Court of Moscow released her to home arrest.

        Eventually Alexandra was give a 3-year-3-month suspended sentence.

        *the protest camp at Chistye Prudy Boulevard where all the dickhead guitar strummers and café revolutionaries arsed around the other year. My office is off the boulevard and I used to walk past the layabouts nearly every day That’s where I last saw the gorgeous, sun-tanned Nemtsov: he used to turn up there attention seeking — and no doubt spying out what he could shag. I’m surprised he didn’t try it on with the delightful anarchist Alexandra.

        I think she got off bloody lightly!

        • marknesop says:

          They all love that closed-fist logo, don’t they? Yet the closest she got to actual fighting was pelting police officers with chunks of paving from a distance, and while they were otherwise occupied.

          Even if it was a suspended sentence and she should not have gotten off so easily, she now has a criminal record and if she does anything like it again that will be weighed in her punishment. Unless she is Teflon like Navalny.

  20. Warren says:

    Russian rage over Finland extradition to US

    Russia has denounced the possible extradition by Finland of two Russian citizens to the US on cyber-crime charges.

    • marknesop says:

      “In April the Finnish navy dropped depth charges in waters near Helsinki as a warning to a suspected submarine, which some media reports said was Russian.”

      Nobody is even sure there was ever a submarine there at all, but some media reports said it was Russian. I suggest next time a major multithreat naval action appears to be in the offing, that Finland sends its journalists and media instead of its navy, since they seem to be a more informed anti-submarine force on their own.

      • kirill says:

        This is a routine propaganda ploy by NATO. They are the ones with submarines trespassing in Russian waters but scream to divert attention.

  21. Warren says:

  22. marknesop says:

    This has the potential to be very big, if it can get off the ground – Russia seeks to float its own oil futures market, called Urals Blend, to compete with others such as Brent Crude. It goes without saying that if it is an initiative to protect Russia’s finances, the west will fight it tooth and nail, and it has been tried before without success. But we’ll see – if Putin could pull this one off, it would protect Russia from having to sell its oil at a discount. If it fails, Iran is perhaps as close as only weeks from dumping another half-million barrels per day on the market, so look for oil to sink even further. It remains to be seen if traders will go for it, and of course Washington will give it as much negative publicity as possible, even as its allies the Saudis are killing the American shale oil industry.

    • yalensis says:

      Saudi-American alliance killing 2 birds with one stone: (1) economic war against Russia; and (2) killing American shale oil industry.

      If (2) sounds counter-intuitive, it’s not. The shale thing was always a bit of a scam, so Americans probably relieved if it “fails” by external forces. Gives them an excuse they can tell the gypped investors.

    • Jim of Olym says:

      US could stop this if the gummint would tell everyone to stop buying gaz unless it comes with a terroir (where it came from, how its blended etc.)

      • marknesop says:

        How would that help? Knowing where it came from, I mean. Would Europe be able to say “No” to Russian gas more easily if it knew which gas exactly came from Russia?

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    And in this morning’s Komsomolskaya Pravda, an article on another home-grown doom-and-gloom forecast of Russia’s coming economic disaster:

    Апокалиптические прогнозы всегда пользуются популярностью. А особенно в нынешние праздники, когда многие наши граждане никуда не поехали и активно проводят досуг в социальных сетях. Одним из «хитов» интернета стал прогноз молодого экономиста Владислава Жуковского, по мнению которого 80% россиян через 1,5-2 года окажутся в состоянии «хронической бедноты».

    К этому приведет нынешний кризис, «в России самый серьезный со времен гражданской войны», и экономический курс правительства, который только ускоряет «гибель «Титаника». Ну и понятно, отсутствие перспективы роста цен на нефть, что и приведет в тупик нашу экономику как «ресурсно-сырьевую, феодально-олигархическую, офшорно-компрадорскую форму капитализма в примитивной его форме первичного накопления капитала». Все совсем плохо? Не все экономисты согласны с такой постановкой вопроса.

    Apocalyptic predictions are always popular, especially during these holidays when many of our citizens have not travelled anywhere and are actively spending their leisure time in social networks. One of the “hits” of the Internet was the forecast of a young economist, Vladislav Zhukovsky, according to which in one-and-a-half to two years 80% of Russians will be in a state of “chronic poverty”.

    This is a consequence of the current crisis, “in Russia the most serious since the civil war”, and the government’s economic course, which only accelerates the “death of the ‘Titanic'”. Well, it is clear that there is an absence of growth prospects in oil prices, and that will lead to a standstill in our “raw material resource based, feudal-oligarchic, offshore-form of comprador capitalism with its primitive form of primary accumulation of capital” economy. Is it really that bad? Not all economists agree with such an approach.

    See: Станет ли большинство россиян в ближайшие год-два беднотой?

    Will the majority of Russians become impoverished in the next couple of years?

    Vladislav Zhukovsky?

    Who’s he?

    Well lookee here! Here’s that “perfect storm” expression again. Now where have I seen that before? ….

    Russian “perfect storm”: oil at $25, ruble at 125, inflation at 30%

    Vladislav Zhukovsky, an economist known for predicting disasters in the Russian economy and for then turning out to be right, says that the situation is more dire than almost anyone imagines because oil is heading to 25 US dollars a barrel, the ruble to 125 to the US dollar, and inflation to 30 percent.

    That article was published in August 2015, by the way. Five months later, as I write $1 costs 75 rubles and oil is at $34.

    And the author of the above linked article?

    Well hush my mouth! It’s none other than Paul A. Goble!

    • He is of course exaggerating about 80% of the population becoming extremely poor, but the performance of the Russian economy is nothing to boast about.

      Currently the Russian GDP is roughly at the same level as it was in 2011. If the oil price stays low there will not be any serious growth in the coming years either. This means that Russian economy would go through a decade without growth.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        On the contrary, I think the state of the Russian economy is certainly something to boast about when one compares it with the dire straits in which other national economies find themselves in now without their having suffered an ongoing assault by the Great Hegemon and its lickspittles that has been exerted against the Russian economy over these past two years.

        See: Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address | January 20, 2015

        … we’re demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, and supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. (Applause.)

        Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as we were reinforcing our presence with frontline states, Mr. Putin’s aggression it was suggested was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That’s what I heard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. That’s how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve. (Applause.)

        What economic sanctions has Finland suffered that have contributed to its present economic difficulties, I wonder?

        • kirill says:

          It’s funny listening about Russia’s economy from some Finnish troll. Judging by all the bleating from Obama and other NATO drones Russia’s economy should have collapsed. Instead it will expand in 2016 and the 2015 contraction was induced by the ruble devaluation inflation shock that fizzled out after less than half a year. If Russia’s economy was “nothing to boast about” the inflation would have been ongoing for years.

          • Ilya says:

            Not to mention that Russian companies have significantly de-leveraged and import substitution will ultimately make the economy more robust.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Although I am not Russian, I would have no problem boasting about the Russian economy especially in the broadest sense. For a country with less than 1/2 half of the US population it does more things better than the US. Its resiliency and adaptability is likewise impressive.

          The US economy survives ONLY through massive injections of fake money and survives just barely. Our infrastructure is falling apart. The only big projects we can muster are military related and those have dubious results. Our economic metrics are fake as well with the intent to obscure the severity of the economic decline.

          I don’t expect Karl to understand the foregoing because he is programmed to ignore all data contrary to beliefs pounded into his brain as amply demonstrated by his monomania regarding Russia. Worse, he seems to have zero interest in questioning those beliefs.

      • marknesop says:

        That’s not really all that relevant if the rest of the world goes through a virtually growthless decade itself due to its machinations. And you still seem fixated on this western power thing that dominates your thinking, since it should be clear that if the Russian economy is not growing, that is the result of deliberate economic warfare against it rather than stupid decisions or incompetence on the part of the Russian government. The Russian economy was growing at a respectable rate, before the global crash. Did Russia have anything to do with that? Not really; it resulted, more than from any other single cause, from massive deregulation in the western financial industry. But I don’t expect I could look back and find any praise from Russia for its growth from you. Of course not, because as long as the west is doing better, then that’s the model to respect no matter what tactics it uses to achieve that end. That’s the fundamental disconnect between you and most of the people here, Karl – your uncritical worship of naked power wielded without restraint, and the ends always justify the means.

        So, what should Russia have done differently from what it did do? The aim of the west was plainly to isolate and bring it down, and they haven’t done. But say Russia had capitulated early, offered no help to the Donbas and allowed it to be overrun and subjugated by Kiev, and the western oil giants were in there now fracking their guts out, bringing Ukrainian oil to market. Russia passively accepted the EU’s dictates on trade associations, and did not revoke Ukraine’s special status, but continued to trade briskly with it while the relationship shifted, and Ukraine began to run a significant trade surplus with Russia as the latter bought goods from Ukraine but sold little to it, since it had plenty of money to buy from Europe, and meanwhile Russia did not impose sanctions against Europe and continued to but French cheese and Polish apples. What would the current Russian GDP scenario probably look like, do you think? Strong growth? Ha, ha. I’m afraid I don’t think so.

        Instead of idolizing western bullying, you might be more efficaciously employed working to overthrow the Finnish government – because let me tell you, Finland’s GDP growth is nothing to boast about, either.

  24. Warren says:

    • Patient Observer says:

      Clearly performance art and another indication of a vibrant European culture.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s horrible. What desperation would drive a person to do such a thing?

      • yalensis says:

        It’s a quick, if nasty, way to commit suicide.

        If this unhappy man had read his Dostoevsky, he would have known to tie a scarf around his neck, and then around the gate. It’s possible to strangle yourself very quickly just by putting some pressure on your neck. You can remain on the ground the whole time, it’s not necessary to dangle from a height.

        • Patient Observer says:

          I though he was just drunk but if he died then I would not have made the above comment. My apologies.

        • marknesop says:

          I’m always sorry to see a person end their life who might otherwise have lived years longer – what great service might he have rendered mankind? You never know if the guy with the broken neck sitting in a puddle of his own piss might have been the discoverer of an alternate fuel source or the writer of a book that would have moved millions and changed their lives, had he lived longer. And that’s only the practical, hardheaded reason; emotionally, I hate to see people sad and desperate and hopeless, because often it would have taken so little to have changed that. Very few people are irredeemably wicked and fully deserving of death, although there are some, and in those instances I could light a smoke off the sole of his twitching boot (if I still smoked, I quit in 2000) and never feel a pang of pity. And its a great injustice that those men live still while this one is dead, and an international spectacle at that.

        • Jim of Olym says:

          Where I come from, ElAy, kids in juvenile hall used to hang themselves by tying their tee shirts around doorknobs in their cells then just sitting down,.and whammo! it’s done. Sad.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, I’ve heard that, too. I don’t get it; doesn’t involuntary reaction take over as soon as willpower starts to grey out and you lose consciousness? You’d think the legs would force the body to stand to relieve the pressure on the neck. I mean, that’s why they tie your hands when they hang you; because they will come up to try to claw the rope off your throat, no matter how hopeless it is (unless your neck breaks the way it is supposed to, of course).

      • Jen says:

        If you look at the top right-hand corner of the photograph, you can see the leg of someone standing nearby and apparently ignoring the dead man. There’s a possibility that the man’s head was forced through that space so that the curved iron decoration would garrotte him. His trousers are wet as well.

        • yalensis says:

          It’s just horrible, people should not publish such scenes on the internet.
          The man and his family deserve some privacy.
          Plus, it should be a police matter.

  25. Warren says:

  26. Patient Observer says:

    I see that Newspeak comes in the the form of Google:
    The ubiquity of Google represents a threat to formation of critical thinking skills in our youth (don’t think it through – just Google it!).

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Kremlin spawned lies!!!!!

      It was an intervention, as always, for the sake of freedom and democracy!

    • Cortes says:

      She deserves to be known as Hellary.

    • marknesop says:

      Hopefully the slow dribble of leaks like this will kick the legs out from under her campaign and prevent her from ever being president, because she craves power for its own sake and there can be little doubt that she would misuse it – she is certainly not the great statesman that the USA needs to restore its place in the global community. It’s difficult to say how much revelations like this will hurt her, because the Republicans are mostly venal and stupid and too busy trying to grab power themselves to make effective use of this information, and because too many Americans will be untroubled by the knowledge that politicians will say anything they think they need to say in order to gain and hold on to power, while they view the populations of other countries purely in light of how they can be useful to Americans.

      I mentioned that The west had to smack down Gaddafi to prevent the issuing of an alternative currency back in 2013, and others suspected it as early as 2011. The west will not entertain the emergence of an alternative to the American dollar; not without a fight. Gaddafi’s store of gold disappeared without a trace, and was likely divvied up among the victors; it is not too much of an imaginative stretch to speculate that it has been bankrolling revolution around the world ever since.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Someone once said that whether its a dictatorship or democracy, the leadership reflects the will of the people if given enough time. Therefore, Hillary has a real shot. But, fortunately it works both ways, and that is why Russia has Putin.

        The murder of Qaddafi and the looting of Libya must be one of the biggest example of rape and pillage in recent history. Russia, I believe, is trying to make amends for its acquiescence to this crime.

        • Fern says:

          PO, yes, I’d agree – one of the most blatant pillaging of a sovereign country I can remember. And it’s not just Hillary – France was a prime mover in the attack on Libya and Sarkozy is hoping to make a comeback. The emails are of vital importance because they strip away all the humanitarian nonsense that so many seem to fall for over and over again and lift the curtain on the pure, undiluted imperialism lurking behind:-

          ”The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”

      • yalensis says:

        That gold was supposed to maintain the living standards of Libyans and their social services; and also to help economic development of sub-Saharan Africa.

        Instead, it was looted and probably used to fund the forces of chaos and destruction, like ISIS.

    • yalensis says:

      I <a href=" a post on it this morning, Would love to know who this guy “Sid” is, who wrote these piquant emails to Hillary.

  27. Cortes says:

    Nasty/incompetent Russians? You decide… More cack from a once great newspaper.

    • kirill says:

      So how do these clowns explain the massive refugee flux before the Russian bombing campaign? It is rather clear that the flux is much lower today than it was about half a year ago.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Didn’t the Syrian Observatory or at least Corporate Controlled Media also claim Russian airstrikes hit a number of hospitals (rolled out after the US blasted a real hospital in Afghanistan)? The story fell apart after Russia disclosed the facts but of course the PR damage was done:

      But the latest story fits the meme perfectly, backwards and incompetent Russia is the real source of the refugee crisis. Forget the fact that the refugee crisis began long before the bombing and that is now seems to be abating in Syria as ISIS advances have largely stopped and been reversed in key areas.

      The ground success in Syria is somehow being claimed by the American coalition. Yet after the S-400 installation, the coalition daily sortie count in Syria can be counted on one hand if not one finger.

      • marknesop says:

        And the western media successfully diverted attention from their forces’ air strike on a hospital by pointing out that when the Russians asked pointed questions about their alleged destruction of a hospital and showed pictures of that hospital still standing untouched, they showed pictures of a different hospital!!! Dirty, perfidious Russians; what do you expect?

    • marknesop says:

      Infuriating crap. They seem to think it’s OK to lead off with the headline which explicitly blames Russia, so long as a subhead says it is not actually known who was responsible, or it is acknowledged somewhere in the text. Lest we forget, Qatar is reputed to have purchased a couple of thousand Russian bombs from Ukraine which cannot be used to arm its own planes, with the natural speculation that Qatar will give them to militias who will explode them in areas heavy with civilian traffic and use the bomb artifacts collected to say it resulted from a bombing raid by Russia. If it ain’t worth pulling false-flag finger-pointing, it ain’t even worth showing up.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Not that anything can be done now but introducing trace amounts of certain chemicals in the explosives could help determine the origin of bombs or their debris after use. For example, any explosive ordinance exported by Russia could be suitably tagged. It would be quite difficult to do – just a random thought.

        • Jen says:

          Apparently they’re old Soviet bombs. Not that such a fact will matter to Western MSM and Brown Noses Higgins (who just loves “proving” that Russian bombs gone ‘n’ dun it ‘cos he da expert) and we may even see a silver lining in this dark cloud, in that Qatar is paying at least three times what each bomb is worth, and that the US and its oil sheikhdom allies will continue to comfort themselves thinking Russia doesn’t make anything anymore.

          • marknesop says:

            They’re Soviet bombs in the sense that they were supplied to countries of the Soviet Union, which is how Ukraine ended up with them. However, as has been pointed out, there need not be an air raid at all for the purposes of stage-setting – they could drive the bomb to its final destination in the back of a pickup. Then it’s just a matter of setting it off, and getting some activists to say they saw a Russian airplane drop it, and a few White Helmets to wail about all the dead children. This is all the west has left now – manufactured Russian atrocities.

  28. Northern Star says:

    It was my understanding the rape was a matter of policy that was to be carried out by the occupying Germans after the 1939 invasion of Poland. ALL Polish women were subject to being raped.
    “Mass rapes were committed against Polish women and girls including during punitive executions of Polish citizens, before shooting of the women.[86] Additionally, large numbers of Polish women were routinely captured with the aim of forcing them into serving in German military brothels.[87] Mass raids were conducted by the Nazis in many Polish cities with the express aim of capturing young women, later forced to work in brothels attended by German soldiers and officers.[87] Girls as young as 15 years old, who were ostensibly classified as “suitable for agricultural work in Germany”, were sexually exploited by German soldiers at their places of destination.”

    Also..I thought the Turks did a fair amount of rape of Armenian women during that particular genocide

    • marknesop says:

      Yet the Poles today are among the most Russophobic of peoples, and are – on the surface at least – pro-German.

      • cartman says:

        They probably lost the “recovered territories” in the first place while they were shaking their fists at the east.

      • Jen says:

        Poles are probably pro-German only to the extent that they rely on German companies to provide jobs, money and technological transfer for them, and need German largesse and support for positions they take within the EU and NATO against Russia. They would not be happy with Nordstream though if there wasn’t a potential benefit for them, or if other countries benefited from transit fees and they were left out. They may know also that Angela Merkel’s grandfather was Polish and will support her as long as any foreign policy of hers favours Polish interests. Self-interest trumps all.

      • Patient Observer says:

        There is the religious element as well and it could be the dominant element in the Russophobia of Poles. Like Croatia, Poland is on the front lines of their millennial war with Orthodoxy. You can bet the Catholic church has focused much of its resources on attacking the Orthodox in this critical region.

        Consider the Catholic church in Poland as an extremely strong lobbying group with a reach starting with young children and extending to every politician, business leader and virtually every citizen. Even those without a strong religious focus are exposed to the same church inspired anti-Russian propaganda and rewritten history. Russia serves as a convenient proxy for Orthodoxy which nicely ties in with the general anti-Russian propaganda of Wall Street media.

        The attack expresses itself on the political, financial and military matters as well as an ongoing effort to rewrite history to keep the people angry at their perceived tormentors. In this regard, Poland is similar to Croatia but not quite as rabid.

      • yalensis says:

        When you’re raped by Germans or Americans, it’s a “Freedom Rape”.

  29. Warren says:

    TransCanada is suing the U.S. over Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. might lose.

    On Jan. 6, TransCanada went to court to claim that the Obama administration’s failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline violates U.S. obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. The company is asking for $15 billion in compensation from U.S. taxpayers.

    This mixes two challenges confronting President Obama and Democratic politicians in recent years. Environmentalists have turned the ecologically questionable tar sands pipeline into a no-fly-zone in domestic politics. Meanwhile, labor and other groups have made opposition to NAFTA-style deals essential for their electoral support. In the face of this pressure from the left, even one-time advocates of both the pipeline and trade deals like Hillary Clinton have reversed course on both.

  30. Warren says:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      We determine what reality is?

      The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      See: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush

  31. marknesop says:

    Well, well. Some 75% of voters polled in The Netherlands oppose ratification of the Association Agreement with Ukraine, and say they will vote that way in an upcoming referendum. Juncker begs them, “Do it for Europe!!!” as he watches the whole deal slipping through his fingers. Who could have seen that coming?

    Unfortunately, the referendum isn’t until April, leaving plenty of time for arm-twisting, threats, promises and false flags to persuade the Dutch to change their minds. And change their minds they must, because the ratification of the agreement – which is only provisionally in force at present – must be approved by all EU states. Could this be the thin edge of the rebellion wedge?

    • Jen says:

      ‘ … “The Netherlands is an important country, and if people in the Netherlands are voting against a thing like this, then it doesn’t suggest that after all the years we’ve been hearing about how important Ukraine is, the people in western Europe are really supportive of Ukraine at all,” legal expert and international affairs editor for Russia Insider, Alexander Mercouris told RT…’

      Well, well, look who’s done well for himself … better than being a QC.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I don’t think so. Being a QC is a nice little earner. I don’t think RT can match a QC’s earnings, Kremlin controlled though it may be.

        Barrister: Salary and conditions

        Salaries for those undertaking pupillage (final stage of qualification for the Bar) must be no less than £12,000 per year, set by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) . However, some chambers offer substantially more than the minimum and salaries can be up to £65,000 depending on the area of practice.

        Qualified barristers can earn anything from £25,000 to £300,000.

        Salaries for those with over ten years’ experience can rise to £1,000,000.

        I had a QC representing me in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, London, in 1985. I don’t think he spoke for 20 minutes but after I had come out of nick I saw his fee, which I didn’t pay, of course, my trade union did. It came to £400 — and that was with a special discount, because the QC representing me, a top flight one as well, was a star man in The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.

        Be that as it may, the Lord Chief Justice turned down my appeal and I had to be sent back north from London to do my porridge in one of Her Majesty’s prisons there.

        When I return from exile, though, mark words: heads shall roll!

        I might even do what they did to Oliver Cromwell and have that Lord Chief Justice dug up as well, in order to serve as an example to all tyrants!!!!


        • Jen says:

          The same source notes that 80% of barristers are self-employed and must pay out of their salaries the costs of running their chambers (which include hiring clerks and administrative staff), though they may share the same physical space, and must make their own taxation and superannuation arrangements. I imagine that most work is located in the bigger cities like London so most barristers’ chambers must be in those places and that must mean a big whack of the cost of running a set of chambers goes to office rent. Then on top of that barristers must have their own libraries of legal texts and the relevant acts that apply to their work, and pay for their own gowns and wigs and the upkeep of those.

          Unlike law firms which operate as partnerships, barristers in the same chambers don’t share profits and aren’t liable for other barristers’ costs, though they share the costs of renting space for their chambers and hiring clerks, secretaries and support staff.

          QCs and commercial barristers do extremely well but at the other end of the pay scale, newly qualified barristers (especially if they work in legal aid or other publicly funded legal services) earn minimum 12,000 pounds a year.

          Of course if your name is Cherie Blair, then the sky’s the limit, innit?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I’m pretty sure I read somewhere or other that she earned more than her husband when he was prime minister.

            The Blair business knocked up another big profit, it was reported the other day, by the way.

            If Blair was ever a Tory, than I’m the Emperor of Japan!

            Tony Blair’s business triples profits as staff get £30,000 pay rise

            A firm set up by Tony Blair to manage his business interests tripled its profits last year, as he rewarded staff with an average pay increase of more than £30,000.

            • Jennifer Hor says:

              Cherie Blair in her robes and chambers:

              Cherie Blair’s biography at her Omnia Strategy website (avoid if you have a full stomach):

              Also, for those KS readers who want some idea of what a barrister’s office looks like (or probably used to look like before the Internet came and made online law journal databases possible and designers of bookcases redundant), here are some photos I found on Google Images:

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, I saw that. Good to see, but probably explains why we never see him here any more.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      EU-country has no desire to feed another wave of economic welfare parasites migrants?

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    Two or three days ago, a Russian blogger posted on Live Journal this, an indictment of price rises in Russia thanks to You-Know-Who (no, not Obama, but the Evil One!):

    It’s a bill from a café at the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort near Sochi.

    It reads:

    2 salads — 1300
    1 French fries — 300
    2 chicken shashlyk — 1500
    1 pelmeni with bullock beef filling — 600
    1 solyanka soup with cold meats platter — 650
    4 bottles (0.25 l) “Bon Aqua” water — 1000
    1 Assam tea — 450
    2 half-litre bottles of “Bud” beer — 700
    10 50ml glasses of Russky Standart Original vodka — 3500
    1 Glühwein Classic — 550

    Total — 10550

    The blogger who posted this bill was screaming blue murder about it

    I agree that the Assam was a rip-off, but perhaps that was a pot of tea he received.

    10,500 rubles is $140.95

    I do not think that is too bad, considering that the bill included half-a-litre of vodka, 1 litre of beer (even though it was “Bud” rat-piss) and 1 Glühwein. I also don’t know whether that was one bottle of wine or one glass — I suspect the former.

    Anyway, in response to this whinge, another blogger has responded with this:

    Сколько стоит отдохнуть в Куршевеле?
    How much does it cost to vacation in Courchevel?

    This blogger compares and contrasts prices and accomodation and the cost of ski passes and ski hire and much more in Courchevel with those at Sochi.

    This second quoted blogger must clearly be one of the “elite” and Courchevel is obviously not suitable for the “bydlo”.

    Quelle dommage!

    I should like to add that at present Sobchak and her chums are there, and no doubt “oligarch” Prokhorov, who regularly used to yuck it up there at New Year — even flew in girls from the Empire of Evil in order to liven things up après-ski. So many of them did he once fly in one year, that the local cops tried to charge him with importing prostitutes. The charges were later dropped after much Froggish brouhaha.

    Quelle surprise!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Speaking of which person …

      Собчак предрекла катастрофу России

      Sobchak has predicted a catastrophe for Russia

      In an interview with the Russian edition of “Sobesednik” [“The Interlocutor”] scandalous TV host and journalist Ksenia Sobchak has given her opinion on the latest developments in the Russian Federation and in the Ukraine. In her view, Putin’s current policy is the result of a programme established during the Soviet Union, and will inevitably lead to the disintegration of the country.

      “Yes, I think it will fall apart. And I don’t think this perspective is so catastrophic. This process was started by the collapse of the USSR and has not stopped, only moved into a quiet phase. Putin is the last one remaining who is keeping the country from disintegration. So it seems to him. And so it is — objectively”.

      Sobchak is most sad about how Russians have changed: they have no longer remained stalwart souls, prepared for changes and to fight for them. In the ’90s, people still were, but now that has all gone. The journalist of the Russian edition suggested that the Russians had been frightened by the Maidan, but Sobchak disagreed.

      “A completely different thing scared them away. “What happened at Bolotnaya Square”, for example. “And how all those who participated in the protests or helped to organize them were dealt with. And the ‘investigation’ on NTV, and the proceedings against Navalny, and his harassment. That’s what they are really frightened of. And in the Ukraine… They understand and see it all — that in the Ukraine there is taking place a painful process of recovery. And even if Avakov splashes water at Saakashvili, in the final analysis, this a sign that there is political struggle going on in that country, albeit an ugly one; that there are several centres of power, and even though these centres are mired in corruption, there is still openness, vertical mobility; and that in the end, there is some kind of future… and all of the Ukraine will be fine. But in Russia there is only a cancerous growth. With cancer you can live for a long time, and in conditions of instability and semi-poverty we shall be rotting for quite a long time”.

      To the journalist’s question about what happened in in Russia in 2015 that was good,, Sobchak replied: “Nothing”.

      I can think of one thing that was good: she fucked off for the New Year and hasn’t come back yet.

      And if they had any sense, when she does come back, she should be told to fuck off again — for ever.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        She clearly does not understand that nobody gives a flying fuck about Navalny and his “harassment” — nobody, that is, who finds himself outside of her circle of kreakl shitwits, namely the vast majority of Russian citizens, whose opinions matter not one jot to her and others of like mind, such as Latynina.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “Sobchak is most sad about how Russians have changed: they have no longer remained stalwart souls, prepared for changes and to fight for them. In the ’90s, people still were, but now that has all gone…”

        Okay, who let Ksyusha out of her stable?! She is frightening humans again with her massive (for a horse) intellect.

        “To the journalist’s question about what happened in in Russia in 2015 that was good,, Sobchak replied: “Nothing”.”

        D’oh, I always forgot that liberasts are incapable of enjoying the things like normal people. That’s why for them 70s anniversary of the Victory was so painful…

        • Moscow Exile says:

          She spoke about feeling sorry for Russians because they have lost their bottle and are no longer willing to fight for change…

          So, having found out that there was going to be a planned confrontation at the rally scheduled to take place on May 6, 2012 on Bolotnaya Square (no doubt because one of the organizers of that riot was Ilya Yashin, the person with whom she was living at the time) who then bottled out of the organized confrontation with the police on that day in an attempt to breach the barricades at one end of the square and cross the river in the direction of the Kremlin?

          Shortly after displaying her unwillingness to fight for change, a characteristic of her fellow countrymen that she says she once so admired, she ditched Yashin and married some film director and has lived happily ever since, passing her time away at such places as St. Barts, the Caribbean Island where Abramovich has a beach hut, and Courchevel, where Prokhorov was wont to throw huge New Year celebrations (and possibly still does).

          Oh yes, and she occasionally pops in to the Ukraine, where she occasionally wears Ukrainian national costume and criticizes the Russian media for not sending its journalists to the other side of the lines so as to objectively report on the ATO activities there.

          • Jen says:

            She’s so busy jetting around the world it’s no wonder she has to improvise her own diet using her own green Soylent.

      • marknesop says:

        She is somewhat of a disappointment, isn’t she?

        The funny thing is that western think-tanks and political analysts love her and her type – what would they say about an American who was asked, “What happened in America in 2015 that was good?” who responded “nothing”?

        Nothing happened in Russia in 2015 that was good from Sobchak’s perspective because she desires the breakup and disintegration of her country – think of the glorious ‘political struggle’ that would result from that, for someone who thinks current Ukrainian politicking represents ‘political struggle’!! What it boils down to is that the kreakly will never be satisfied – never – with stability. No: all, all must be in upheaval and uncertainty, because that represents choice and ‘political struggle’. Putin stands for stability, and they hate it. They want to live in a constant state of revolution, because it is so exciting.

        Wages in Russia are four times what they are in Ukraine. Yet Sobchak sees upward mobility and ‘some kind of future’ in Ukraine. Take note, everyone who ignored Sobchak’s political aspirations. You chose wisely.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “…what would they say about an American who was asked, “What happened in America in 2015 that was good?” who responded “nothing”?”

          That said individual is a sad and despicable example of the “Self-loathing American”, a person “worse than ISIS”. Quotes courtesy of one “political” forum (where I’m banned…)

          Anyone who draws attention to such facts as:

          – The real (not imagined in the rotten by the crack minds of think-tankers and journos) quagmire in which the US military found itself years (decades even) after “MISSION
          ACCOMPLISHED!” celebrations over bombing into democracy of Afghanistan and Iraq…

          – An unhealthy number of school/college massacres, that becoming a new routine, and over which the Most Democratic Government can do nothing…

          – The fact that Ferguson didn’t become just “one isolated incident”, that there are hundreds of such riots ready to flare up given the slightest provocation – and given the highly publicized police brutality cases that bound to happen sooner or later again…

          … is just an enemy of Freedom and Mocracy and should be exiled to the North (aka The Best) Korea. This year is awesome for the Americans because gay marriage is now legal according to a meager majority of the Supreame Court judges. You now, the same individuals from the same insitution who ruled that the internment of the ethnically Japanese Americans during the WW2 was a-okay thing. Totally.

          All who disagrees is a Kremlin Stooge 😉

          Dear liberasts like to demand for Russia to become a “normal country”. Well, judging by their drunkenл talk in the Jean-Jaques café on the Arbat they mean – like European country. Right? Right. Okay, now, lets us ask yourself this question – what “good” have happened during 2015 in, say, Denmark?

          Danish zoo publicly dissects a lion: ‘Fun, but also a bit disgusting’

          Well… Цэ €уропа! EuroUkrs and liberasts – hurry to apply, while the offering still stands!

          Oh, and while we are at it – what so “good” have happened in the “Troika” of the EU – the UK, France and Germany?

    • Patient Observer says:

      Did the menu include prices? If it did, there is nothing to be surprised or to complain about. If prices were not shown, too bad. I don’t get the point other than someone being obnoxious.

      My wife and I were hit with about a $100 tab for a so-so dinner at a street cafe in Paris. I did not have any urge to publicly complain or use it as evidence of whatever. It was just an over-priced bistro aimed at picking off tourists.

      • Cortes says:

        I was attacked in a Barcelona bar (El Pulpo- The Octopus) back in my days as an impecunious student, when, at the future Mrs C’s insistence, I queried the bill for two beers and chorizo bocadillos (baguette sandwiches). She’d noticed the price list and got me (she had no Spanish) to question the difference, about US 10c, and when he explained the list was out of date, she told me to tell him “Tough titty” and he attacked me with a knife and his buddy on our side of the bar would have crowned me with a bottle but for the shoulder charge by an older guy. I’ve never moved as fast as then, pushing her nibs into the street and hurtling away from the Barrio Chino (since rebranded as El Casc Antic or Old City). I’ve never queried a bill since.

    • yalensis says:

      It doesn’t surprise me that Roza Khutor over-charges on the food.

      All ski resorts rip people off with their cafeteria food. The prices are always inflated, and go to feed the bottom line on the company books. Hey, it’s a captive market. If you’re busy skiing all day, and then you get hungry – well, what options do you have?

      For example, I recently skiied at Okemo Mountain, Vermont; we went to just a basic cafeteria just to get a snack; and something just like a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup was $11.00.

      And that’s not even talking about the high cost of lift tickets.
      Of course, for every problem there is a solution: Some skiing families that I know, simply pack a picnic lunch when they go skiing. And some lodges will permit this; for example Carinthia Lodge at Vermont’s Mount Snow, allows people to bring in their own food and eat at picnic-like tables indoors.

      And don’t get me started on the high prices of Après-ski neither! Like $15, just for a small glass of wine!

      • Jennifer Hor says:

        Blog on Australian ski resort food (er, yes, we do have ski resorts in Australia) and complaints about food price (high) and quality (low):

        Ski season is short in Thredbo and Perisher Valley because they are entirely snow-free from November to May. Any profits earned by ski resorts during ski season have to cover the slack season as well which accounts for the high prices. Krasnaya Polyana probably has the same problem if this video about it during the summer is any guide.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, that’s a consideration I hadn’t…err…considered. Whistler is open in the summer and is popular with mountain bikers – as well, it is a venue for outdoor concerts – and it pulls in some money (we’ve stayed there in summer, at Horstman House, and loved it), but nothing like what it does in winter.

    • marknesop says:

      Well, let’s see. Whistler-Blackcomb is a world-class resort and the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, it is comparable to Krasnaya Polyana. In fact, the Russians studied how Vancouver did it in extensive detail and what it did well informed their decision-making, while what it did not do well helped them avoid pitfalls. Here’s an example of a middle-of-the-road eatery in Whistler: Basalt Wine & Salumeria.

      Here’s the menu: based on these prices and at today’s exchange rate between the ruble and the Canadian dollar, you’d pay 527.90 rubles for a bowl of winter squash and parsnip soup (although it does have walnut and kale pesto, and kale is very good for you), 1,266.96 rubles for a lunch of a lamb & rosemary sausage and roasted potatoes, and 791.85 rubles for a grilled hamburger. Again, this is not a high-end restaurant, although it is trendy enough to make you feel one of the skiing jet-set.

      Skiing is an expensive sport, and it is assumed those who engage in it have money to spend – they are fleeced accordingly. The liberals cannot seem to decide what it is they want – at times they want to live in a rich country with all the perks and trappings of the idle wealthy, but they think they should be billed for it as if it were borscht. But there is never any pleasing them, because what pleases them most is bitching about how they are too good for this place, so no surprises there.

      Had he chosen to eat at The Keg, it is too tasteful to advertise its prices in advance. But we just ate there (not at the Whistler one; it’s a chain and there are two in Victoria) a week or so ago – t’was there we laid our plans for our foursome visit to Russia in 2018 – and I can tell you the New York Striploin will set you back about 1,847.65 rubles for the 8-ounce, and that’s not including wine or gratuities. Here’s the selection of eateries at Whistler; it’s really quite nice there. There’s a 164 centimeter base as of today.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        This the complaint one always heard about wealthy Russians in Vienna, back in 1998 or so. Big on ostentatious displays of wealth when they wanted to show off, at all other times stingy to the point of pinching the towels from their hotel rooms.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        “,,,they think they should be billed for it as if it were borscht…

        Back in the late ’90s, I once saw borscht billed in the window menu of Maxim’s Restaurant, Hotel National, Moscow, at $12.

        Borscht for the elite?

  33. Moscow Exile says:


    За 2 недели на Ванкувере в зоне Каскадия произошло почти 8000 землетрясений

    In the Vancouver Cascadia zone there happened almost 8000 earthquakes in 2 weeks

    From 25 December 2015 to 4 January 2016 on Vancouver Island, located at the northern end of the Cascadia seismic zone, were recorded 7,980 earthquakes. Of these, more than 2,400 seismic events occurred in the period from the 1st to the 4th of January inclusive. The norm for this region is 200 seismic in 10 days, but in the past two weeks this number has increased tenfold.

    Чемодан — вокзал — Владивосток?

    • yalensis says:

      That’s why Mark is all shook up.

      • marknesop says:

        There was one December 29th, just before midnight, that I think it’s safe to say everyone who was awake noticed. It was a 4.7 quake located some 46 km deep and about 15 km away from Victoria. I was standing on a tile floor at the time so there was nothing to absorb the shock, and it shook the whole house hard for maybe 4 seconds, like being in the back of a big truck going over a hardpan dirt road. You could hear it coming, too, a dull roar like a noisy train running over loose track.

        There are things you can do, of course, and we build with earthquakes in mind now and have done for many years – consequently, there was no damage reported, and I imagine the worst it did was knock a few pictures askew on the walls. That’s one of maybe three that I can say I’ve actually felt since I moved here in 1987, and that last one was probably the strongest I’ve felt. For one of the others I was at work, and it just felt like a heavy vehicle going by outside, and for another I was asleep and it woke me up. I think that was the one that did all the damage in Seattle, to which it struck much closer.

        Anyway, while there are things you can do to prepare, and many of us do, there is little one could do which would have any mitigating effect against a quake which was 9 or higher and whose epicenter was close by, as they describe when they threaten “The Big One”. The Big One, in theory, would put much of southern Vancouver Island underwater, and what are you going to do to prepare for that, hmmm?? They keep saying it is not a matter of if, but when. Well, then, I prefer to assume the when will be after I am dead and gone, perhaps a hundred years from now, and meanwhile a little shaker like that every now and then eases the pressure on the plates and makes The Big One move to the right a bit on the schedule.

        • Cortes says:

          There was a Big One here, in 1960

          Scene of one of the most heroic efforts of the original Sea Wolf, Thomas Cochrane. Pics of aftermath of the quake are breathtaking.

          • Cortes says:

            Poor huacho (orphan) story excerpt from supra

            In the coastal village Collileufu, native Lafkenches carried out a ritual human sacrifice during the days following the main earthquake. Collileufu, located in the Budi Lake area, south of Puerto Saavedra, was in 1960 highly isolated. The Mapuche spoke primarily Mapudungun. The community had gathered in Cerro La Mesa, while the lowlands were struck by successive tsunamis. Juana Namuncura Añen, a local machi, demanded the sacrifice of the grandson of Juan Painecur, a neighbor, in order to calm the earth and the ocean.[32][33] The victim was 5-year-old José Luis Painecur, an “orphan” (huacho) whose mother had gone to work as domestic worker in Santiago and left her son under the care of her father.[32]

            The sacrifice was learned about by authorities after a boy in the commune of Nueva Imperial denounced to local leaders the theft of two horses; these were allegedly eaten during the sacrifice ritual.[32] Two men were charged with the crime of murder and confessed, but later recanted. They were released from jail after 2 years. A judge ruled that those involved had “acted without free will, driven by an irresistible natural force of ancestral tradition.” The story was mentioned in a Time magazine article, although with little detaiL

    • Jennifer Hor says:

      But most of those 7,980 quakes wouldn’t have been felt much. The stats usually include minor tremors.

      The Shaky Isles across The Ditch get about 15,000 earthquakes every year, of which 1% (or 150) are strong enough to be felt.

      See, that’s why our pal Pavlo’s hands go shaky, his knees turn weak, he can’t seem to stand on his own two feet – he lives there, he gets all shook up, yeah yeahhhh!

      Both NZ and Vancouver Island are part of the Ring of Fire (where the Pacific tectonic plate subducts under various other tectonic plates) that extends from NZ all up through the southwest Pacific, through Indonesia, up China and through Japan to the Aleutians and down the entire west coasts of North and South America as far as Valparaiso and Santiago.

  34. Warren says:

    Germany Threatens Sanctions Against Poland Over ‘Lack of Western Values’

    German lawmakers are in agreement on the need to impose economic sanctions against Poland if Warsaw continues ‘to ignore European principles and values’, German daily newspaper Der Spiegel explains, quoting top CDU politicians including Volker Kauder, a man described as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ‘right hand’.

    Read more:

  35. Moscow Exile says:

    On Sunday,10 January, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced that the Ukraine has refused a Russian offer of a discount for gas, reports RIA Novosti.

    “We have stopped buying gas from the Russian Federation. On January 1 they billed us at a price of $212 per 1,000 cubic meters. We are not buying gas from Russia because we buy it from the European Union cheaper than Russia has offered. The average price of gas from the EU stands at about $200”, Yatsenyuk said in a video address

    He added that Ukraine has about 13 billion cubic metres of gas, that is 2.3 billion more than during this period in 2015.

    Thus, Yatsenyuk has said that there is enough gas in the country to get through the cold season this winter.

    Earlier, Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev has decided to provide a discount on gas at $ 17.7 dollars per thousand cubic meters. As a result, the price of gas was 212,3 dollars per thousand cubic meters.

    Since the beginning of 2015 the Ukraine has increased purchases of gas in Europe almost twofold, having purchased 10.2 billion cubic metres of gas, while a year earlier about 5.1 billion cubic metres were bought.

    See also: Kiev Says $212 per 1,000 Cubic Meters Is Too Much for Russian National Gas

    Where does this cheap European gas that Yatsenyuk says he can buy cheaper than Russian gas come from?

    • PaulR says:

      Good question – I was wondering that myself.

      • yalensis says:

        Reverse flow from some other country, which is being forced to subsidize Ukrainian gas?

        • marknesop says:

          I’m afraid I’m having a hard time getting my head around this. Yats clearly says, in the referenced piece, that the average price at which Ukraine can buy gas from the EU is $200.00 per thousand cubic meters, right? Are we all agreed that’s what he said? Good.

          Well, according to Reuters, in 2012 the UK was paying $410.00 per thousand cubic meters. Are we all agreed that’s what it says? Good. So I’m not crazy. Yats expects the EU to reverse-flow gas to Ukraine at half the price the UK was paying 3 years ago. Oh – and give him the money to pay for it.

          Hold on, though; according to this reference, fluctuations in gas prices in recent years have closely followed fluctuations in the price of oil. Oil has more than halved in price, so it seems reasonable that gas might have done the same. However, that same reference shows gas prices going steadily upward from about 2004, and according to the data which accompany the chart, prices in real terms doubled between 1990 and 2011, increased by 107% between 2001 and 2011, and increased by 20% just between 2006 and 2011. The market is obviously very volatile, and both references cited are clear that European domestic supply is falling steadily, relying more heavily on imports. How long are oil prices going to remain low?

          It seems likely that nobody knows that for sure. But what is going to happen to Ukraine when the price of oil starts to go up? It’s a finite resource, and Europe’s own supply is dwindling. If the EU can afford to supply Ukraine – which they probably can for now, since they have to give it the money to buy gas and it (bizarrely) makes more sense to save $12.00 per thousand cubic meters if Europe has to pay for it anyway – gas at $200 per thousand cubic meters, can it still afford to do so when the price goes back up to around double that? When Europe is faced with shrinking supplies from its traditional sources, and the only alternative to pipeline gas is LNG cargoes by sea? You can sort of see an environmental disaster in the offing, can’t you? And how hard would it be for terrorists to board one of those floating bombs and blow it up as it is maneuvering into port to unload? I’ve read a couple of novels which featured just that kind of scenario. Is it possible? Sure it is. Container ships have a crew of less than 20, and I can’t imagine LNG tankers having more than 30, perhaps far fewer.

          • et Al says:

            Western Europe has developed a ‘spot market’ for gas prices and has been leading the de-linkage of gas from oil price for a few years now. Even Gazprom has sold gas on the spot market in the last few years. Vis Ukraine:


            …Gas sourced from the EU and delivered to Ukraine is often priced at the central European hubs. On 31 December, ICIS assessed Austrian VTP gas for delivery in Q1’16 at €16.038/MWh. This is €2.451/MWh below the price offered by Russia…

            …European exports

            Ukraine’s imports from Slovakia fell 12% week on week to the average of 15mcm/day over the week to 10 January, data from the Slovak grid operator Eustream showed. But overall, the January flow rate is currently almost 12% above that recorded over December.

            Flows from Poland to Ukraine continued to fall for a second week in a row. Data from the Polish transmission system operator (TSO) GAS-SYSTEM showed that flows reduced 38% between 3 January and 9 January compared to volumes imported over the previous seven days.

            But flows from Hungary to Ukraine more than doubled over the week to 9 January, according to the Hungarian grid operator FGSZ.

            Over that period Ukraine imported around 10mcm of gas, with daily Hungarian supplies increasing almost three times from the beginning of the year compared to the average flow rate between late September and December last year. …


            …European gas prices fell more than 20 percent in 2014 as the mildest year on record left storage sites the fullest since at least 2009, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe, a lobby group in Brussels. Oil’s bear market also pushed prices lower as Russian gas sales are indexed to crude prices with a time lag.

            “As Ukraine paid back its debt and pre-paid some additional Russian volumes, the market is now more relaxed and looking at the storage overhang and the oil price going down,” Thierry Bros, a Paris-based analyst at Societe Generale, said by e-mail today. “This is impacting negatively gas prices.”…

            And so far winter 2015/2016 has been very mild too. I guess that as mentioned above, there is a lot of gas still available from storage tanks, quite a few of which have been created in the last few years precisely because of previous Ukrainian shenanigans. I read somewhere that Gazprom too has invested in storage in central and eastern Europe to guarantee supplies to other customers regardless of Ukrainian behavior.

            This historical chart shows a decline in EU import gas prices (peaking April 2013 and now almost half):


            Either way, the Ukraine is being subsidized by the EU as there is no way such a bad customer could otherwise get a cheaper gas deal elsewhere. It’s probably the Germans again.

    • Jennifer Hor says:

      Look no further, I found the source of the cheap European gas which Oleh Barna was clearly trying to feed Yatso with a month ago:

      • yalensis says:

        Oleh Barna may be in the flower business, but I venture to say, he is no romantic; nor is he chivalrous.
        He is more like a “slam bam thank you ma’am” type of guy.
        As shown by his treatment of poor Yats:
        Gives the guy a nice romantic bouquet. Should be followed by a box of candy or a candlelight lobster dinner.

        Instead, just ups and GRABS HIM by the balls!

        • marknesop says:

          No subtlety whatsoever, I completely agree. I mean, we all know what Oleh is after, but he should have the class to pretend that getting laid and flowers are not connected in any way, that it just sort of…happened.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, precisely: where does he imagine Europe is getting it?

      • Cortes says:

        A fortnight long reality check downtime of flows to Europe (weather problems, staff shortages due to them all emigrating to the paradise of Banderastan etc) may concentrate a few minds.

  36. Pingback: RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#2 :: Monday 4 January 2016 – Johnson's Russia List

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    At a Kiev night club party there has been staged the execution of the Russian su-24 pilot

    Lots of young men there not serving at the front against the aggressor state, I notice.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I wonder what suitable punishment they would like to see being theatrically meted out against their hero Ukrainian pilot who strafed the centre of Lugansk with cluster bombs, which action resulted in the deaths and horrid mutilation of several of their fellow Ukrainian civilians, including that poor woman in a red dress who, as a result of that Ukrainian air-force pilot’s heroic attack against the aggressor state and its supporters, had one of her legs shredded and left hanging off, yet was able to speak to passers-by for a few moments from where she lay in a pool of her blood before dying?

        Of course, she and others who perished that day were only “Sovoki“, mere “Vatniki“, and not real Ukrainians, who speak Ukrainian, of course, which language is a direct linguistic descendant of the first one spoken by man and from which all others originate.

    • yalensis says:

      Genesis 18:16-33
      The question is: Was there even ONE PERSON (let alone 10) in that bar, who stood up and objected to this display?

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – the image is Rublev’s “Troitsa” (“Trinity”) which, if I am correct in my iconography, depicts the 3 angels who visited Abraham and Lot, in preparation for the fire-bombing of the Twin Cities of Gomorrah and that other town…

        • Moscow Exile says:

          The very same!

          It is now housed in the Rublev room of the Tretyakov Gallery here in Moscow:

          The icon was formerly in the iconostasis at the St.Serguius- Trinity Lavra, Sergiev-Posad, where, over the centuries it had aged and suffered damage caused by temperature variations and smoke from incense, animal-fat tapers and candles.

          After the 1917 Bolshevik putsch, it was brought to a newly created national arts restoration workshop, a copy of it was made and placed in the Lavra iconostasis, and since 1929, the icon has been where it is now, only having been moved twice since its arrival there: in 1941, when the Nazis almost took Moscow, it was evacuated to Novosibirsk; in 2007, when it went on tour in Europe (and was damaged). It is moved from its Tretyakov gallery room each year to the gallery chapel for the Whit Sunday service.

          In 2008 Patriarch Alexy requested that the icon be brought to the Lavra for Whit Sunday 2009. Most scholars agreed that the climate inside the Lavra was completely unsuitable for the icon and that transportation could destroy it. (Sergiev-Posad is situated about 50 miles northeast of Moscow.) Interestingly, the only person who supported the move was the Tretyakovsky gallery director, whereas all his staff, art critics and art historians were against it.

          For being the odd one out, so to speak, the director got into trouble and was even accused of proposing an illegal act, in that it was argued that the icon, being a national art treasure, should be available to all, regardless of their religion, and not just kept inside churches for a narrow circle of believers to gaze upon, but in public museums.

  38. Warren says:

    David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69

    Singer David Bowie has died at the age of 69 from cancer.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Lead story in today’s Telegraph, Guardian and Independent.

      I mean, you’ve got to get your priorities right, innit?

      I thought he was bobbins, actually.

      That means “crap” in my old neck of the woods.

    • marknesop says:

      A great talent has left us.

      • Jen says:

        Bowie was a big influence on a generation of British pop musicians who came of age in the early 1980s, along with Roxy Music, Lou Reed and the German band Kraftwerk who influenced them also, but that in itself probably doesn’t say much about the early cultural environment of these musicians, that they had such a small set of role models to look up to.

        DB made a few great albums in the mid to late 1970s with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp (former King Crimson guitarist) but everything he did after 1981 (a huge chunk of his career, comparable to Paul McCartney’s career) was forgettable.

        I believe DB died of liver cancer, which in most people outside Asia nearly always is secondary cancer, that is, it was caused by another cancer (or if not, possibly Hep B or Hep C). In most Asians, liver cancer is caused by childhood Hep B. These days, most developed and developing Asian countries require kids to be vaccinated against Hep B before they can attend school.

        • marknesop says:

          To me, David Bowie is an icon of a time when musicians wrote and played songs with no real thought as to how they would sell, or if anyone would like them. Bowie was very much out there in the late 70’s, and there was a very good chance he would be laughed at and rejected – a rock musician who played an acoustic guitar? Who would hear it? That era, at least in rock, was dominated by Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad and The Rolling Stones, all of whom were thunderously loud. But Bowie did catch on, and Changes was huge. The last album he authored that I bought was Let’s Dance, which I thought was pretty good; “Modern Love”, the title track and “China Girl” were all modest hits.

          Modern music, or at least modern pop, seems to be little more than a commercial project with the songs predetermined by record executives based on what is selling big right now. I meant to mention that the Missus and I went to see our own James McRae, a frequent commenter here, at Northern Quarter on Friday night, where he was playing with the Nico Rhodes Trio. I looked for a clip of them but they are not well-known, and I found only this TV segment which is mostly interview. The bass guitarist is different in this trio, although it’s the same band – the one who played on Friday night was Sean Drabbit. Anyway, James made an excellent point – live music is in peril. A lot of places which employ musicians and give them their start and the confidence to perform in public now just use canned top-40 music or play cultural theme tunes to make people feel more like they are in an Indian or Asian restaurant. It’s a tough time to be a musician, and it doesn’t pay well except the few huge concert acts.

          • Jen says:

            I used to buy CDs from a guy who juggled working casually at a record shop with playing live and teaching improvised music at a university in western Sydney (which meant travelling 50 km from where he lived in Potts Point to the university). He left Sydney for Melbourne not long after the Brasserie, in Millers Point near the harbour bridge, had to shut down as a live music venue because the local council had allowed developers to build residential units close by and as a result, people who moved into the area began complaining about the noise from the venue. The small number of live music venues in Sydney and the way in which council regulations affected them, compared to the situation in Melbourne where there are more venues where bands can play and the live music scene had more support from local councils (in not allowing residential developers to build close to venues where live bands play), was one factor in his decision to move.

            One issue with modern pop music is that record labels these days are owned by the same corporations that own book publishers and news media. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation used to be notorious for buying up record labels like Festival Records, Mushroom Records and Flying Nun Records, and using them as tax shelters or to subsidise less profitable operations.

            In the past when book publishers and record labels were separate, editors and label managers alike had a long-term view, sometimes measured in years, to developing authors and artists to the extent they were prepared to pay money for artists to learn and develop their craft, and to mature as well. This was especially so with medium-sized, non-mainstream or independent publishers and labels (eg Virgin Records when it first started in the 1970s and some others, Factory Records and Island Records in the 1970s), not so much with the big corporates. Over time the independent labels got bought out by the bigger corporate conglomerates and so long-term artistic development of the kind David Bowie and his generation were able to enjoy fell by the wayside.

            • marknesop says:

              That’s an excellent analysis – while I knew music had steadily been turned into a cash cow over the years (to its great detriment), I did not realize it was the same bandits who control the rest of the media.

            • Cortes says:

              Some indies out there still fighting the good fight. Here, Chemikal Underground has even signed a quirky but excellent band Loch Lomond which hails from Portland, Oregon.

  39. Jeremn says:

    There are a couple of detailed blogs out there which critique Bellingcat’s work. They deserve to be better known. Here’s a good one, with a detailed analysis of Bellingcat’s position on the Russian BUK in Ukraine:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      This Bellingcat phenomenon must be in some way the product of our times.

      How can such a clearly unqualified person not having completed a tertiary level of education; a person having no specialized skills or knowledge whatsoever in either the civilian or military field; a person whose only means of “research” is a laptop computer; an unemployed former low-ranking local government employee, a pen-pusher, be presented not only as an “expert” in anything, but also be accepted by academia, in that he is now a “Visiting Research Associate” at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London University, the United Kingdom?

      See: Eliot Higgins

      I think all this has something to do with “post-modernist” bullshit and is somehow linked to what Wharhol once said in 1968:

      “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”.

      That bastard Higgins has been famous now for much to long!

      • Jeremn says:

        If I worked in the security services I’d be a bit cheesed off that a freelance loafer can come along and do my job, in public, and with such evident success. There’d be no need for me, other spies or a security budget. It could be outsourced to people like Higgins.

        Seriously, can’t the spooks see that as a risk? Don’t they have anything to say about this threat to their professionalism?

        Oh, and he is now at the Atlantic Council (Eliot Higgins is a Nonresident Senior Fellow for New Information Frontiers with the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Program):

        • marknesop says:

          What I love about blogging is the startling insights you sometimes see from the commenters in a lively debate section. And this is one. Indeed, how do the professional intelligence services see Bellingcat, in view of what a prominent role it has assumed in the decision-making of their political superiors?

          The likely do not have to worry in terms of job security, because Higgins and his yahoos occupy a very narrow niche of ‘expertise’, and do not dabble in economics or sectarian rivalry or corporate scandal-mongering, or any of the thousand things other than weapons and military violence that go toward the making of foreign policy. But it must be galling at least to see the stupid faith political leaders put in these wild leaps of conjecture, and I wonder if any of these service professionals have approached their leadership on the sly and warned them not to become too deeply invested in this fat plonk, against the time when he is exposed as a complete partisan fraud.

        • et Al says:

          I think he is very useful for the British intelligence service. a) he was a ‘former employee’ of HMG; b) he is and will not be held in any way responsible for any of his failings (starting in the beginning with his ‘proof’ that chemical weapons were fired by an Syrian Army mortar at Ghouta (sp?)). Has there been any apology? No. Has be been taken to task by the PPNN or handled more carefully? No. He’s being fed some good shit.

          So, he is in fact a very useful medium to channel just the right level of sensitive information that the western intelligence agencies can get out there without having to show actual proof or give any clues as to how they obtained the information in the first place. After all, how many times have we heard that the west ‘has proof’ but it cannot provide it because it would tip off the enemy as to how it was obtained? Whether this is a lie or not, it is barely relevant. It’s about purpose.

          As for the media, they get a face rather than the usual ‘anonymous source’ / ‘unnamed official in the government’, which they can spin as more credible. It’s just a massive circle jerk.

      • marknesop says:

        I don’t think it is any more complicated than governments will always solicit the testimony of the expert who tells them what they want to hear. They just need a reference – so-and-so says this is good enough. They pad his credentials a little bit, self-made weapons expert, whatever, to make him seem more believable because his “expertise” consists of finding pictures or video of different things and matching them with other pictures or video to see if they are the same, or different, visually. He doesn’t understand anything about how these weapons systems work, or he would not be foaming about the Buk system taking out MH17. Not with a single launcher. And if the whole complex was present, what happened to the rest of it? He knows everything about that particular launcher unit right down to where the driver stopped to take a leak in the bushes, but the radar vehicle totally eluded detection? We know there were complete Buk complexes in the area at the time, but they belonged to the Ukrainian side. We can eliminate the possibility that it was an accident, and that the shooters thought they were firing at a military aircraft, because a military aircraft flying at 400 knots and above 30,000 feet cannot do anything to you on the ground. We can eliminate the possibility that the missile was fired at a military aircraft which was on the same or a similar bearing, but 10,000 feet higher, because the missile only goes where the radar on the vehicle directs it, and the radar on the vehicle would not even see an aircraft seaparated from its target by 10,000 feet. The media started out saying it was deliberate, and then sort of drifted into the “accident” scenario not because they could not support it being deliberate; not so much as they wanted to keep you from making the connerction that if it was deliberate, it was probably the Ukrainians, because theirs was the side that needed the disaster.

        It seems at least possible to me that the national intelligence services were unwilling to commit to Russia’s responsibility to the extent government figures needed. We know that Washington absolutely needed a united Europe on its side for sanctions, and that Washington was confident a united sanctions regime would quickly bring Russia to its knees. Had it done so, we would not be talking about any of this, and Russia’s guilt would have passed into the history books. But a western victory has gone from certain to uncertain to unlikely. Eliot Higgins will say he knows Russia did it where their own intelligence services will not. He’s prepared to back up his case with lots of pictures, and an invitation to the general public to play detective. The public seems to like that, the public being mostly ignorant and knowing far less about how weapons systems work than even Eliot Higgins does. This is another attempt to get a conviction in the court of public opinion because it is the only one that matters in geopolitics.

      • Jen says:

        Bellingcat plays into the modern phenomenon, promoted by Hollywood, of a lone outsider with no prior knowledge, skills or experience who flummoxes all the faceless “experts” by showing them up in their supposed areas of expertise. It’s a variation on the lone gunman who takes out a whole bunch of bandidos or Comanches single-handedly where the sheriff’s posse or the US Sixth Cavalry failed.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I feel all this is connected with the idea that everyone’s opinion is valid – not, that everyone has a right to an opinion, mind you, but that within prescribed limits one can say what one wants and be listened to, innit?

        ‘Cos I got the right of freedom of expression, ain’t I — and my opinion counts, don’t it?

        And if you disagree, you’re an intellectual snob!

        (exit stage left)


    • marknesop says:

      Once again, the most compelling evidence to me is that this Buk on its own is very unlikely to have been able to acquire MH-17 and shoot it down, even if it was deliberate and they were looking for specifically that target. The system is not designed for its component parts to be functional independently of one another, and the radar on the nose of the Buk is not an acquisition radar, it is designed completely for receiving designation from the acquisition radar and pointing the launcher to the correct bearing and elevation so that it can lock on. As far as I am concerned, the entire storyline is crap – surely the people who built the system would know better than to take just one piece of it into hostile territory, and for them to have bugged out as quickly and efficiently after downing the airliner, it would have to have been deliberate and they would have to have made an exit plan in advance. All of that with no motive whatever, except to blame Ukraine. Uh huh.

      • Jeremn says:

        Absolutely Mark. They’d need a complete unit, perhaps something like this one guarded by this lowly Ukrainian conscript:

        Taken from this source:

        which elaborates thus:

        “This photo had been taken from his VKontakte wall (it is now deleted) and used by the English newspaper The Daily Mail on July 22, 2014 in a bizarre and misguided propaganda broadside using the satellite imagery of the Russian MoD (!) to brand him a Russian terrorist guarding the BUK that shot down MH17.[63] It was left to Russia Today to clarify that he was in fact a Ukrainian Army conscript.[64] The BUK TELAR in the picture is BUK 121 from base A-1428 in Spartak, northwest of Donetsk. The other vehicles in the picture are a BUK Command Post in the foreground and a BUK TEL in the background. It is likely these are Command Post 100 and BUK TEL 113 or 133. However if the picture is truly taken in Amvrosievka, and the Ukrainian partisans who tweeted about seemed quite certain of that fact, then it is very probable that BUK TELAR 121 and its sister TELAR 122 are the two TELAR’s on Russia’s satellite image of Zaroshchenske from July 17, 2014. Perhaps the Daily Mail and the pro-Ukrainians have accidentally led us to the unit which fired on MH17.

        If MH17 was downed by a BUK missile fired from near Zaroshchens’ke, as suggested by the Russian MoD and more strongly asserted by Alamaz-Antey, this picture makes it appear the commanding officer of the second battery of the first battalion of the 156th Air Defense Regiment is a person who needs to explain where he and his unit and equipment was on July 17, 2014.”

  40. Jeremn says:

    I was reading the Putin interview in Bild

    against the version on the Kremlin website (same interview, differences in the text)

    There are many differences. And much left out by Bild. On the Kremlin website we have this text:

    “We strongly objected to developments taking place, say, in Iraq, Libya or some other countries. We said: “Don’t do this, don’t go there, and don’t make mistakes.” Nobody listened to us! On the contrary, they thought we took an anti-Western position, a hostile stance towards the West. And now, when you have hundreds of thousands, already one million of refugees, do you think our position was anti-Western or pro-Western?”

    This very important text is actually missing from Bild’s account of the interview …!

    As is this

    “If anyone had listened to Gerhard Schroeder, to Jacques Chirac, to me, perhaps there would have been none of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as there would have been no upsurge of terrorism in Iraq, Libya, or other countries in the Middle East. ”

    Notice a theme? A German newspaper leaves out anything relating to US provoking unrest around Europe and the consequnces (refugees, terrorism).

    Anyone wanting to see how texts are treated in the western media so that they are given a slant should do the same exercise.

    • marknesop says:

      It also effectively screens out any western sources who might seize on the opportunity to point out that the Russians warned Europe of the impending disaster they might unleash, and that they went ahead with it nonetheless.

  41. Moscow Exile says:

    Get ready for the latest howls of outrage from the “Free West” over the tyranny of Putin’s “regime” and the latest mediaeval “crackdown” on personal freedom and the right to express oneself whatever way one wants.

    An I-wannabe-a-Westerner group tried to organize a flashmob of pantless people on the Moscow metro yesterday, copying similar dickhead activities in the wonderful world of do-whatever-you-want West.

    Unfortunately for the “mob”, most Muscovites were none too pleased with their behaviour and the cops are working on the complaints. Stories coming out now are that flats are being searched for the offenders.

    See: Полицию взволновали подростки, проехавшие в метро без штанов
    Police have gotten all excited over kids who rode the metro without pants

    The police, according to a source, found in social networks calls for carrying out the event, and also a photo of the participants in a Zamoskvoretskaya metro line carriage, though so far law enforcement bodies cannot yet say whether such behaviour could be challenged and under what article of law. For the time being, the police are limited to undertaking a test case.

    It’s been about -20C (-4F) all day here today, and with such a temperature above ground it still gets pretty chilly down in the metro.

    But it’s not a question of low temperatures and stupidity — it’s a question of FREEDOM I tell ya!!!

    • kirill says:

      There are public decency laws on the books in every freaking NATO country. The US some of them are quite old and puritanical. It is getting extremely lame this effort to generate some sort of propaganda hysteria about Russian “oppression”.

    • Special_sauce says:

      Lol, is that little black rectangle over her eyes supposed to prevent identifying her!

    • Patient Observer says:

      Still short of the naked protest in Cologne:
      I see that they added the blurry spot in an effort to censor art and self-expression.

      • marknesop says:

        She’s really a lovely girl, but frankly she looks better clothed. And the premise – lounging around naked carrying a sign that says “Respect us, even if we are naked” is too stupid a gimmick to be worthy of comment.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Somehow, I don’t think she would have gotten away with what she did in Cologne if she had tried to make a similar protest in her home country, Switzerland.

          Apparently, the Cologne cops didn’t lead her away, tell her to cover herself or throw a police jacket over her, or taser her and bundle her away or whatever, which, I should imagine, is what might have happened to her if she had tried to pull that stunt off in New York city, but just made sure that onlookers did not come to close to her.

          • marknesop says:

            I suspect the Cologne cops might have tasered her and bundled her away if she had morphed into a an overweight, hairy, naked grandpa granting intermittent peep-shows of his rubbery junk in between sweaty rolls of fat, rather than the comely wench she is. Les gendarmes were content to bask in their permissiveness so long as the crowd was murmuring appreciatively, snapping selfies and surreptitiously rubbing themselves, instead of noisily barfing on their own shoes.

    • Cortes says:

      Sgt Scuzzi of the LAPD Vice squad’s technique for dealing with flashers (in Wambaugh ‘s “The Choirboys “) would work wonders in cases like this: firing water pistols at the attention seekers. My own enhancement would be to fill the pistol with chilled beetroot juice.

  42. Patient Observer says:

    Good to see a real honest-to-goodness economic metric:
    “Railroad cargo in the U.S. dropped the most in six years in 2015, and things aren’t looking good for the new year. ”
    Can’t blame it on the weather – the US has had a balmy winter so far. The article mentions reduced manufacturing activity and a possible reduction in coal transport (i.e. more natural gas power generation) but apparently the reduction is symptomatic/harbinger of a serious economic downturn.

    Also, talk is of negative GDP for the US for Q-4 2015 and Q-1 2016. And, we did not need the help of sanctions to rack up that stellar performance! The US economic quiver is empty, it has no dry powder, it now has only smoke and mirrors and a wall-street media to misdirect our attention.

  43. Warren says:

    Published on 11 Jan 2016
    The shifting sands of geopolitics have turned into a tsunami. With Saudi Arabia upping the ante with sectarian escalation, where does the Syrian conflict stand? Washington’s neocons and Riyadh’s Wahhabi royals again share a common cause. And where does Russia’s strategy fit in?

    CrossTalking with Mark Sleboda, Dmitry Babich, and Alexander Mercouris.

  44. Patient Observer says:

    Is nothing sacred anymore?
    I will not let the corruption-plagued US lottery deter me from chasing the new American dreams – winning the lottery or, as a fallback, finding a doctor to approve a permanent disability claim.

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