Guilty Until Proven Guilty

Uncle Volodya says, "For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”

Uncle Volodya says, “For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”

“Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”

– William Penn

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”

Ernesto Che Guevera

I can’t claim the social conscience of a Che Guevera, but it’s absolutely true that I feel more motivated to write when I am furious about something, and few things so infuriate me like smug pig-ignorance. And no smug pig-ignorance is so infuriating as that displayed by one’s own countrymen, as they happily allow themselves to be played like violins by an outside authority and exhibit their naked buttocks before the world. I really thought you were better than that, Canada.

According to the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a Crown corporation and the official voice of the nation – Russian athletes are “emerging as the villains of the Rio Olympics“. And maybe it’s just me, but the tone seems approving, self-righteous…judgy. As if the official mouthpiece of Canada is delighted to sign on to the Get Russia program offered by its southern neighbour and business partner to all its toadies and would-be chambermaids.

In a word, this is disappointing. I used that word because I didn’t want to start swearing so early, although I’m sure we’ll get to it.

Just so we’re clear – whose interests does it serve for Canada to enthusiastically sign on to booing and hooting like howler monkeys whenever Russian athletes step up to compete, like we were English football hooligans? Canada’s? How?

In fact, as everyone who is not thick as a BC pine knows, it serves Washington’s interests, because the USA wants Russia isolated and alone and friendless because it is pissed off at it for other things, and the more disrespect and ignorance and rudeness it gets from the former politeness capital of the world, the better Uncle Sam likes it. WADA is going after every medal Russia ever won, and it is not even looking at anyone else. And that entire effort rests on the credibility of two people; one who was convicted of doping herself and barred from competition for two years for it, and her husband who knew and did nothing about it while he worked for the national anti-doping agency.

We’ll get to that.

“It’s something not usually heard at the Olympic Games. Booing. Loud, sustained booing. The rain of fury is directed at a common enemy: Russian athletes. The contingent, clouded and shrouded by drug scandal, has quickly emerged as the villains of these Rio 2016 Games. Like Cold War days of old, the Russians are once again the global bad guys.

After avoiding a full Olympic ban, some wondered how fans and fellow athletes would treat Russian athletes. That answer came quickly. At the opening ceremony, even athletes from pariah nations were given polite applause. But fans interrupted the global Kumbya moment to let the Russians know their presence wasn’t welcome.”

Disappointing. Disappointing to see how easy it is to get people who probably are reasonably nice under ordinary circumstances to get on board with the mob mentality, because it’s kind of fun. Why is the western audience (because that’s who it is, mostly – the North Americans, the Australians and the English) booing the Russians? Because the whole nation is implicated in a doping scandal.

Is that all it takes to make otherwise-sensible people make one-syllable sounds of disapproval simultaneously, in a deliberately-insulting fashion? Good. Let’s hear a long, sustained ‘boooooo…..” for the cheatingest nation on the planet – the United States of America.

Worldly-wise 19-year-old American 100-meter backstroke champion Lilly King unloaded on silver-medalist Russian Yulia Efimova, calling her a drug cheat and sounding off to reporters that the ‘twice-banned’ Russian athlete should not be allowed at the games; Efimova was booed by the crowd every time she appeared on the pool deck. World-class jackass Michael Phelps, American team leader, went further as he applauded King’s rudeness; It’s kind of sad that today in sports in general, not just in swimming, there are people who are testing positive and are allowed back in the sport, and multiple times. I think it just breaks what sport is meant to be and that pisses me off.”

That so, Michael? All about self-discipline, are you? Did you learn that in rehab? “I honestly didn’t care about my training” leading up to the 2012 London Olympics; wasn’t that you? Is that what sport is meant to be? Isn’t this you, with a bong in your face? What’s up with that, voice of clean sports?

While we’re having this heart-to-heart, Michael, let me tell you what pisses me off. Hypocrisy.

Before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney even started, Dr. Wade Exum – former director of the US Olympic Committee’s (USCOC) drug-testing program – announced that more than half of all US athletes caught doping prior to the Atlanta games (1996) suffered no penalty whatever and were permitted to compete at those games, where some of them won medals. At the time, ally Australia’s opinion of America’s drug-testing efforts was decidedly negative.

“We in Australia have been less than impressed with the efforts in America, and if you were to do a survey of the athletes, they’ll tell you the country that’s the major problem.”

And let me tell you this – that same country is still the major problem. It has hit upon the novel approach that rather than control the athletes and what they are taking, you control the testing process and develop performance enhancements which are ever harder to detect. Within months of Exum’s joining USOC in 1991, the organization came to him with a proposal to trial a new injection ‘just to see if it enhances performance’.

“They came to me and asked me to participate in a project in which they wanted to give athletes what they called ATP injections – that’s aginicent triphosphate. That’s the fuel that muscle cells actually operate on and I refused on the basis that i thought it was unethical to give people things in a non-medical fashion for non-treatment, but just to see if it would help performance. I also thought that even if that substance wasn’t directly named or on the IOC list, that it was at least aimed in the direction of doping.”

Other Australians were less circumspect in their criticism. Sean Murphy, chair of the Australian Olympic Committee at the time, said, “They’ve got the facilities, they’ve got the research, they’ve got the motivation to be using drugs across the board in many different sports.”

There was no World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) then; it was founded by Dick Pound in 1999 and he served as president until 2007. But WADA and Dick Pound were certainly around in 2003, when Exum released more than 30,000 pages of documents to Sports Illustrated and The Orange County Register, documents which proved beyond doubt that American athletes and champions such as Carl Lewis and Mary Jo Fernandez tested positive for banned substances in American screening but were allowed to compete anyway. USOC called Exum’s accusations ‘baseless’. Were they? Evidently not – here’s Carl Lewis’s reaction: So I was doping, who cares?

That’s the accused, ladies and gentleman. It sounds awfully like a confession to me. What does that mean? That the United States Olympic Committee was comprised of and headed by liars, whose word on anything to do with the clean performance of American athletes was not and is not to be trusted. It also screams “State-sponsored doping program” in chrome letters 18 feet high; USOC is the national authority for Olympic sport, and of the top ten doping scandals of all time in Track and Field, six are Americans.

Can anybody tell me the last time the United States did not send a team to the Olympics because it was awarded a blanket ban for doping? That’s right – never. Nor has any identifiable component of its team, such as Track and Field, been banned from competition, despite ample evidence of doping which was covered up by American sports organizations and its Olympic Commission. But Mr. Clean, Dick Pound, was adamant that Russia be banned completely from competition at Rio, and was vocal in his disappointment that only the Track and Field team was denied the opportunity to compete, including world champion gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva, who has never, ever failed a drug test conducted by any authority. What a disgrace. But Dick Pound was one of the three members of the ‘Independent Commission’ appointed to investigate Russia’s alleged state-sponsored doping program.

Let’s go back to the Sydney Games, 2000. That event was dogged by allegations that American athletes had used performance-enhancing drugs to win medals. Rubbish, said USOC. An investigation was ordered. Enter Professor Richard McLaren, who headed the probe

Boom. The BALCO Scandal hit, three years later. The Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, headed by Victor Conte, whipped up performance cocktails for American athletes. He admitted to it, and implicated dozens of athletes. Perhaps the most well-known was Marion Jones, who won 5 medals at the Sydney Olympics, 3 of them gold. Marion Jones vehemently denied any involvement with drugs, and sued Conte for defamation. Not until 2007 did she finally admit tearfully that it was all true, and was awarded 6 months in jail for lying to federal investigators, as well as being stripped of her medals. Regina Jacobs was also netted, and awarded a 4-year suspension from competition; the same year the BALCO scandal broke, she set a world record in the indoor 1500 meter. Alvin Harrison, who won a gold and a silver for the USA at the Sydney Olympics; he was not stripped of any medals until 2008, when a teammate admitted he had used performance-enhancing drugs. Michelle Collins, the 2003 world-record holder for the 200-meter indoor sprint. She was banned from competition for 8 years, threatened to take the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to court, and they backed down and cut her suspension to 4 years. The current head of USADA is the alliteratively-named Travis T. Tygart, who bayed like a hound for a Russian national ban at Rio. ‘Cause, you know, enough is enough.

Kevin Toth, a US shot-putter who was United States Track and Field (USATF) Athlete of the Week in April that same year; he got a 2-year suspension. John McEwen, 2-year suspension. Dwain Chambers, a British sprinter – think word got around about the USA’s new line of undetectable performance enhancers? He was the top European performer at his Olympic debut at – you guessed it – the Sydney Olympics; 2-year suspension. Calvin Harrison, identical twin brother of the previously-named Alvin Harrison, gold medalist at Sydney in the 4oo-meter relay – 2-year suspension. We could go on with this for quite a while, but I think you get the point.

Here’s what I bet you didn’t get, though. Professor McLaren’s investigation did not catch any of those people. They were all exposed by the BALCO scandal and press releases like those generated by Exum. McLaren’s investigation wrapped up in 2001, and a year after that USATF was still suppressing the case files and refusing to reveal the name of an American athlete who had been cleared to compete at the Sydney Olympics and had won a medal for the USA.  USATF defied an order and threats of de-registration from IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge. What was done about it? Fuck all, as you probably knew.

Professor McLaren was the public voice of the ‘Independent Commission’ that recommended a complete national ban for Russia at Rio. The third member was Gunter Younger, a former head of a Bavarian cybercrime division, who was just appointed as WADA’s new head of Intelligence and Investigations this past June. Younger headed the actual investigation into Russian doping, and was ‘given a free hand’ by Dick Pound to use the covert recordings from  the German television ARD documentary which initially broke the story of Russian doping.

Well, sort of. Actually ARD was steered onto the story by WADA, who had acquired the services of the whistle-blowing Stepaonovs, Yulia (nee Rusanova), a doper athlete and her urine-testing husband with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). WADA told Valery Stepanov that it did not have the power to investigate inside Russia. So WADA steered the Stepanovs to ARD with their story, which was released as a documentary and which WADA then pounced on as evidence of  ‘a culture of cheating’.

“The World Anti-Doping Agency steered the Stepanovs to a reporter at the German television network ARD. Their tapes became the centerpiece of this documentary which aired in December 2014 and sent shockwaves through the world of sports.”

WADA does not mention this elsewhere, and the rest of the world is led to believe that the ARD documentary was the clarion call which inspired WADA’s investigation.

“The report released Monday was the result of a 10-month investigation by an independent commission of WADA. Its inquiry stemmed from a December 2014 documentary by the German public broadcaster ARD, which drew on accounts from Russian athletes, coaches and antidoping officials, who said that the Russian government had helped procure drugs for athletes and cover up positive test results.”

But WADA considers the Stepanovs 100% credible. It has to – that’s the only evidence it has. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow laboratory, was not always on board, and as recently as November 2015 described the Independent Commission as ‘three fools’.

“Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of the Moscow lab whom Monday’s report accused of having solicited and accepted bribes, dismissed the suggestions. “This is an independent commission which only issues recommendations,” he said. “There are three fools sitting there who don’t understand the laboratory.”

Yet only months later he was in the WADA camp and singing like a canary. Perhaps the revelation that Vitaly Stepanov recorded 15 hours of their conversations without his knowledge inspired a conversion. Oddly enough, that is generally illegal in Canada, and cannot be used as evidence except in exceptional circumstances. There is a blanket exemption, though, for consent, and this is implied if the person making the recording is a party to the conversation. Still, it kind of makes Rodchenkov sound like the kind of guy who will say anything. Just to give you an idea how ridiculous that is, Victor Conte – the executive in charge of BALCO – offered after the scandal broke to act as an expert assistant to WADA (probably as an effort to plea-bargain; he served four months in prison).

“Conte, who spent four months in prison for his role in the affair, said he has offered to provide expert insights to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), only to be turned down. “I’ve made myself available, put forward names, addresses, websites, protocols… but you know what they told me? That we can’t trust someone who’s been sentenced,” he added.”

But they can trust someone who just got through saying the Investigative Commissioners were three fools who don’t have any power to do anything and don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, when he suddenly says, Yesiree, boss, it was exactly like you said. I’m a crook. And you know who else is a crook? The whole Russian government. Uh huh.

Which brings me to my favourite part – the legal implications. The McLaren Report is careful not to name names for public consumption, because WADA fears getting sued by individuals. As well it might. So McLaren prefers to leave the oomph of his report to a statement that it proves there is a state sponsored doping program in Russia which is known and countenanced by the highest levels of government. And he’s said that, on a number of occasions, and the press has dutifully repeated it. It’s basically the most damaging finding of the McLaren Report.

Which is why it would be odd for him to say that WADA has no evidence of a state-sponsored doping program. Like he did here, after the report came out. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin, said Tuesday that “as long as there is no evidence [of state-sponsored doping in Russia], it is difficult to consider the accusations, which appear rather unfounded.” How do you respond to that?

McLaren: That doesn’t surprise me. He and others have said that before. But I would expect that won’t be the same refrain by the end of the week once they have a chance to study the report. When you draw the connections across the board about what’s going on, you can’t just say this is just a few isolated people or some of the old coaches dictating out of the Soviet era and nobody else.

Dmitry’s correct. We don’t have any evidence of a systematic, state-wide doping mechanism. If we did, we would have published it and so we have to go on the inference. But across a vast country [with] all sorts of different training camps, it has to be somehow state supported but we can’t actually describe for you how that operates. We can only draw the inference. We’ve given them a chance to reform, so why don’t you reform and join the rest of the world instead of fighting it.

The ‘Independent Commission’ did not question or interview any Russian athletes or officials except for the Stepanovs and Grigory Rodchenkov. The IP did not seek to interview persons living in the Russian Federation …. I did not seek to meet with Russian government officials and did not think it necessary…”

And, you see, that’s a problem. Because athletes on the Track and Field team who have never failed a drug test were banned, by association, from competing, on no grounds but their nationality. Others were banned in highly ambiguous circumstances, just because their names appeared in McLaren’s testimony. Like Russian rower Ivan Balandin, whose appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is featured here. The whole case is worth reading, as there are many juicy bits, but the upshot was his appeal was rejected on the grounds that he had made out he was unfairly denied the chance to compete because the McLaren Report fingered him for doping, which was not the case – he was fingered as ‘ineligible’ because one of his samples had allegedly tested positive, except McLaren did not even know when the test was allegedly administered, that information helpfully being provided by the UK, the second-most-Russophobic of the western countries. I’m damned if I can see the difference, but I’m not a lawyer. Anyway, I’d just like to draw your attention to page 7, where we read,

“Additionally, no reliance can be made on the McLaren Report as evidence, as it is not complete, it has secret parts that were not shared with or available to the Athlete and there was no date of the sample taking in the information provided by Mr. McLaren.”

But on the same page, it reports, “FISA applied the criterion and was satisfied that the Athlete was ‘clearly implicated’ by the McLaren Report and was therefore excluded from the Rio Games.” Wha…wha…what??? The reference which did not meet evidentiary standards was relied upon in the decision?

Oh, dear; on Page 11…“Additionally, Mr. McLaren, in his amicus curiae, while not providing the emails on grounds of confidentiality, revealed to the Panel the exact date and times of the message from the Moscow laboratory that the screen of the Athlete’s A sample revealed positive for the prohibited substance GW 1516 and the response from the Deputy Minister to change the positive into a negative, following the DPM. While these additional details were not before FISA (primarily due to the lack of time) they have been considered by the Panel in this de novo procedure”.

FISA and the Panel both made decisions based on evidence furnished by McLaren that they never examined or even saw. There just wasn’t time. McLaren’s report provides the evidence of a state-run doping program, except he doesn’t have any evidence of that and says so, although he does and it’s secret and he hasn’t shown it to anyone.

Bullshit. From start to finish. No western athlete would have to put up with a ban on competition just because he or she was American or Canadian or Dutch, and he or she would damned sure not be told to accept a ban where he or she had not even seen the evidence against him or her because it was secret.

Which brings us back to the hooting and booing like the audience at a taping of the Arsenio Hall Show. On the occasion of Ms. King flipping out on Ms. Efimova, some reports of the incident recount the rest of the conversation – in which the reporter asked Ms. King if she thought American doper athletes like Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay should be allowed to compete. To her credit, she didn’t flinch, and said absolutely not.

“I have to respect (the track authorities’) decision even if it is something I don’t necessarily agree with,” King said. “No, do I think people who have been caught doping should be on the team? They shouldn’t. It is unfortunate we have to see that.

You could almost smell the controlled fury in the response rushed out by USATF:

“In the United States, it is a matter of law. If you are not under a ban, regardless of what you may have served in the past, you are fully eligible to be on the team.”

Which describes Ms. Efimova’s circumstances to a ‘T’. What would be the American response to an Olympics audience which booed loudly every time Gay or Gatlin took the field? Low-class? You bet.

And that brings us back to the beginning, to the article which started the whole post. An associated article on the same page offers, “Analysis: Why a Full Olympic Ban on Russia Never Had a Chance“. Why not? Because it would have been illegal.

“For one, a blanket ban on Russian athletes would likely have been derailed by numerous legal hurdles. The Court of Arbitration for Sport, among others, would likely overturn a universal ban that included athletes who haven’t been implicated in doping.

“We were mindful of the need for justice for clean athletes,” IOC vice-president John Coates told reporters. “We did not want to penalize athletes who are clean with a collective ban and, therefore, keeping them out of the Games.”

Totally oblivious to fairness, apparently, are the Olympic crowds booing like a bunch of fourth-graders, and getting across the message so helpful to Washington that ‘you Russian cheaters are not welcome here’, fattened on non-stop propaganda from the world’s biggest cheater and seasoned by the McLaren Report which proves Russia has a state culture of cheating, except it doesn’t.

WADA argued for a total ban. Travis Tygart of USADA argued for a total ban, because it would likely mean more medals for Americans. Neither of them gives a tin weasel whether it would be legal or not. Because that’s the way things are done now – you just smash ahead by brute force and momentum, and hope that everyone mistakes action for justification.

And that’s what you’re cheering for when you boo the Russians. I’m ashamed of you.

There will be a price exacted for this later. I will be surprised if Russia does not take WADA to court, and even if it does not, the angry split between WADA and the IOC is evident. The McLaren Report does not prove anything it purports to prove, and it will not stand up to a challenge. At a minimum, WADA should be moved out of Canada to the USA, whose policies and interests it serves, depriving that country of an opportunity to internationalize its own initiatives.

God speed the plough.




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755 Responses to Guilty Until Proven Guilty

  1. Northern Star says:

    Gvosdev’s article appear to be very well written ,objective,informative and not russophobic BS..
    I dunno..maybe some of you KS guys/gals with more expertise than I-which doesn’t take much- think otherwise…. Nevertheless If true….Olympic angst,angina and aggravation for the North Atlantic Terrorist Organization behemoth:
    “More pragmatically, Erdogan has begun to reassess his Syria policy. Unlike American policymakers, who sometimes doggedly insist on doing the same thing (hoping that endurance or more resources thrown at the problem will bring about a different result), Erdogan can see the negative ramifications of continuing to confront Russia over Syria. Not only is Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad much less likely to fall now that it appeared last summer, the heightening of tensions with the Russians (alongside the American need to find reliable allies capable of taking the fight to the Islamic State) has made the emergence of a Syrian Kurdistan much more of a reality than at this point in 2015. In Ankara’s eyes, it would be preferable for “Assad to go” but not at the expense of seeing yet another autonomous Kurdish entity emerge on Turkey’s border.”
    “With the latter, Erdogan clearly understood that by putting Turkish Stream back on the agenda, he has renewed an option that would allow Moscow to reach its declared 2019 goal of eliminating all transit of Russian energy to Europe across the territory of Ukraine.”

    • et Al says:

      I don’t know what to make of the InSultin’ Erdogan and Pootie Poot meet. There’s been BS called from both sides, from swapping the West for Russia to Russia not gaining anything.

      The only phrase that I’ve heard that sticks in my mind and think that is important was that before the talks, Russian official sources said there would be a “step-by-step” reduction of sanctions against Turkey. Now excuse me if I don’t understand english properly, but such a phrase implies that one side (in this case Russia), takes the first step and lifts in part or limited sanctions against Turkey. Then it is for Turkey to reciprocate some way. Then Russia lifts another ‘step’ etc. etc.

      Some anal-ists have been crawing that “Russia done got no-thing*” and that Russia was economically desperate to renew trade relations with Turkey, and you have to wonder what else they have been smoking.

      As others have pointed out, Erdogan from being the principle backer of Jihadis in Syria (save Saudi Arabia and the UAE), needs to somehow cover his own back as the Jihadis will come for him. Not that I am sympathetic, but not black and white.

      * Yee-haw, pass the moonshine paw!

      • marknesop says:

        That’s what spin is all about. We have seen plenty of instances in which you could read two narratives and not know they were talking about the same incident or event. The west always has to portray Russia as losing, being tricked, falling for a clever dodge once again. It is so ingrained in western consciousness that it is inconceivable the two could ever be anything but enemies. If you had a school friend who talked smack like that about you all day long, day in, day out, they wouldn’t be your friend for long and things would likely have come to blows long since. That’s the difference between personal and international relations – there’s so much more at stake in the latter, and there could be far-reaching consequences.

        Pity it couldn’t be reduced to those terms, though – Putin would fight Obama and thrash the piss out of him, and then they would buy each other a beer and learn to get along.

    • marknesop says:

      Indeed, blunting all the Russian initiatives currently gearing up will take some agile skipping. We shall see if Washington is up to the task. It’s certainly going to try, but if Russia is seriously committed to decoupling from Europe and America to the extent they cannot use pressure to influence Russian behaviour – as seems to be the case – there is little the two can do to stop it. At some point they are going to have to do a reassessment which asks, were we wrong about everything? Because thus far, they have been. The true damage will be revealed when the sanctions can no longer be maintained, and Europe tries to get its markets back.

  2. Warren says:

    Ukraine Crimea: Russia sends new air defence missiles

    The Russian military has announced the delivery of new air defence missiles to Crimea, in a move scheduled before the latest tension with Ukraine.

  3. et Al says:

    Well, well, well.

    Independent: Congratulations, Labour – you just wrecked your own party and disenfranchised your members for no reason at all

    I’m no Corbynista, but even I can see this is absurd. What was the point in this charade, considering it can’t have actually secured a victory for Owen Smith? The only reasonable consequence is that Corbyn will win again, by a slightly reduced margin

    …To add insult to injury, the five members who fought against the ruling now have to cough up £30,000 in legal fees within 28 days. I can’t imagine they’re going to be over the moon about that. ..

    Oh FFS! What is it with the Labor party & the Democrats? Can they explain to people why anybody should vote for them? The scum who run the NEC need to be expelled forthwith. They’re all doing a brilliant job of wiping out any meaning of democracy.

    Independent: Labour leadership row: Corbynites plan rule change to cement left’s grip on the party

    Proposal will reduce the number of nominations by MPs needed for a candidate to run in a future contest

    …After the leadership election, left-wingers will push for a rule change to reduce the number of nominations by MPs needed for a candidate to run in a future contest. In a sign that the left is preparing for “life after Corbyn”, the proposed rule would make it easier for his allies to secure the election of another left-winger if he decides to stand down before the general election due in 2020. Mr Corbyn, who is 67, insists he will lead the party into it but some Labour MPs believe he might stand aside if he were confident that the left could retain the leadership…

    …The proposal would be bitterly opposed by senior Labour MPs. They plan a counter-move to give the Parliamentary Labour Party more influence by restoring the leadership election system scrapped by Ed Miliband in 2014. This would reduce the members’ clout by giving MPs, trade unions and members a third of the votes each.

    In other moves to entrench their power, Corbyn supporters plan to purge senior staff at Labour headquarters including Iain McNichol, the general secretary, and some departmental directors. Corbyn allies claim they acted in a partisan way against him during this year’s leadership election, in effect backing the attempted coup by MPs rather than remaining neutral…

    It’s going to be messy. Not Messi!

    • marknesop says:

      All of it ignores what the people want, and reduces it to politicians maneuvering for personal advantage. Which is the way it really is, but it’s seldom so blatant.

  4. et Al says:

    Independent: Banning Russia’s paralympians from Rio 2016 sends a terrible message about the rights of disabled people

    Throughout the Soviet period, disabled people were largely banished. In Russian cities, even now, you see the elderly amputees being wheeled to a begging pitch on a trolley

    Mary Dejevsky

    …To my mind, such a blanket ban is an outrage. It is not just illogical, but unjust and grievously short-sighted.

    I personally considered even the partial IOC ban on Russia as too harsh on the grounds that a higher standard of proof was effectively set for Russians compared with their non-Russian peers. But the treatment of Russia’s Paralympians takes the pillorying of Russian sport to a whole new level…

    …The team as a whole is being made to answer for the sins of the Russian state – or, to be more accurate, its still largely Soviet-era sports establishment….

    OK, how long do you guys think it will be before we hear that “Mary Djevsky has left the Independent by mutual agreement with the paper”? She’s a bit all over the place herself, but in general I like reading her pieces despite the casual generalizations she makes.

    • Fern says:

      Nah, papers love the occasional article from people like Mary Djevsky just as the BBC occasionally includes a comment or two from folk like Dimitry Babich or RT’s Oksana Boyko. It enables a claim that British media is ‘fair and balanced’ and all sides of the argument get a hearing. Which is true as long as you don’t mention that Russophobic drivel accounts for 99% of the output with the 1% coming from someone with a different take. A hearing, yes. A fair one? No.

  5. Canada: The ‘former’ politeness capital of the world. Canadian politicians, making political mischief in order to gain electoral capital with the Ukrainian diaspora (who made Canada what it is dontcha know), have turned the country into a camp of morally offended Russophobes. I often wonder how they got away with this as the ‘average Canadian’ has no real reason to adopt these sentiments, let alone put them on display. It might be that they (our politicians) are using our sense of ‘politeness’, (referring to a generally believed Canadian pretense toward ‘justice in social relations’) against us. If you told Canadians they have to send their sons and daughters to Afghanistan to protect Western (American) geopolitical dominance and business interests they would mostly tell you to go to perdition. So just tell them it’s so Afghan girls can go to school and they’ll agree to that, even happy to oblige. And there is no choice in the matter. Where I live in Etobicoke I had to chose between two candidates. The Tory came to my door telling me that V. Putin was the biggest evil facing us today.”Of course you believe that Ted”, I told him, “you wouldn’t last longer than a spit bubble in your caucus if you didn’t, but I know you are spouting warmongering drivel.” The liberal came talking junk ( like liberals do) about our mutual respect for sentiments of goodwill and after he’s elected I see him grinning like a hamster on Demerol standing with Andriy Parubiy and Nadiya Savchenko as his new best friends. Nice one Boris. You couldn’t resist your ‘inner Pole’ from getting the better of you. I guess even Neo-Nazis can have a ‘goodwill ambassador’. So Canadians have been lured into believing that their frontier forged community ethics, (it was a northern frontier by the way, not a western one) compels them to call out the no-so-nice actors (Russians in this case) that are doing the wrong things. Except in our case we’re behaving in the wrong way because we willingly believe the wrong things.

    • marknesop says:

      Well said, Dave, very well said, and with a nice seasoning of humour as well. If you have a definable issue you feel passionate about, maybe you would be interested in doing a guest post – I’m always looking for good writers. I can picture you saying the things you said to the visiting politician, and you sound like the quintessentially phlegmatic Canadian – you have restored my hope.

  6. Northern Star says:

    An Absolute Profile in Courage
    You GO girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • yalensis says:

      This related piece goes into some of the historical background, why African Americans have traditionally not done well in swimming sports. A lot of it was the issue of access to public swimming pools. Here is a quote:

      “When the first public pools were established in America’s Northern cities at the turn of the 20th century, class prejudices fueled decisions of where municipal pools were built to keep out poor and working-class people, regardless of race. In the 1920s and ’30s, when pools were larger and men and women began swimming together, some major Northern cities used racial segregation tactics to prevent interactions between black men and white women.”
      “Of course, much of this history predates Manuel — and it’s safe to say it’s not what was on her mind as she swam to victory. But it’s all part of the story of why she’s the first black woman in her position, and why her win is being celebrated as a victory over much more than her Olympic opponents.”

      Sometimes it takes a few generations to build up a corps of coaching expertise and handing down skills from coach to student and on again to the next generation.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Golf and tennis come to mind as well but African Americans are still quite underrepresented. I think that, in part, such games have little appeal to most blacks (or to me for that matter).

        • Jen says:

          Tennis can be an expensive sport to put children through if you want them to be professional world champions. If you look at the careers of most professional tennis players these days, they’ve usually come up through elite hot-house tennis academies. I imagine the money needed to get a child into one of these academies would be out of reach of most American families regardless of their ethnic background. Even foreigners come to the US to put their kids through these tennis academies; recall that in the last KS post, I said something about Maria Sharapova’s family having to split so that Sharapova could attend Nick Bollettieri’s tennis school in Florida.

          “… It may cost up to $150,000 in total to prepare a junior player for the pro circuit, according to Patrick McEnroe, general manager of player development at the U.S. Tennis Association. That includes travel, coaching, conditioning and food. The British Lawn Tennis Association estimated it costs around 250,000 pounds ($400,000) to develop a winning player from age 5 to 18. The International Tennis Federation said it may cost at least $35,500 annually for a 17-year-old male junior player on the international circuit to compete and train for 20 weeks a year …”

          • yalensis says:

            Winter sports also come to mind. One recalls all the tired and hackneyed jokes about African-Americans and their supposed allergic reaction to snow and ice, and how they “can’t tolerate the cold”, yada yada. (Which is B.S. because the city of Chicago has a huge African-American population, and they survive there despite winter temps that can reach 50 below with wind-chill factored in.)

            But let’s face it: Training a child for skiing or figure skating is extremely expensive for a family. It’s not like ski resorts and skating rinks are racially segregated, or anything like that. But is very expensive and requires quite a commitment from the family. Not to mention that most urban areas don’t have ready access to a ski mountain or, in many cases, even to a skating rink. For example, in a part of Texas where some of my relatives live, there is not a single ice skating rink in a 100-mile radius. Once upon a time there used to be an ice rink, but it was only for hockey. Then they closed it down and turned it into a roller-skating rink.

            Roller-skating, by the way, might be a good sport for African-Americans to take up, since most urban areas have roller rinks. I think.

            • Jen says:

              Gymnastics, especially women’s gymnastics, seems to be increasingly popular among black Americans. Even though it’s expensive to send a child through gymnastics school (and I read that Gabby Douglas’ family actually had to declare bankruptcy after the London Olympics, even after the prize money she would have received for winning the all-round individual competition), the sport probably now has enough past black role models, both American and beyond, that it might now attract a lot more interest from black American families, if they can afford the fees. According to a Forbes article, the annual cost of a child gymnast’s training is US$15,000 and over 8 years this can total US$120,000.

              Before Douglas and Simone Biles came along, there were Dominique Dawes, Betty Okino, Tasha Schwikert and Annia Hatch in the US teams that went to the Olympics from 1992 onwards. Other countries have had black gymnasts performing at elite level as well: Canada has had a few (Curtis Hibbert, Stella Umeh) and France had Elvire Teza who came all the way from Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

              The real barriers that stop black Americans and other Americans of different ethnic backgrounds from playing particular sports are financial and socio-economic barriers. Part of the reason basketball has been so popular among black Americans traditionally is that it’s more affordable and inclusive (because it’s played by teams of several people) than sports like golf and tennis. It’s easier for a poor community to try to get the maximum number of kids off the streets and away from drug dealers by starting a basketball program, a soccer program or an athletics program than a golf or tennis program.

              • marknesop says:

                Very interesting and thought-provoking.

              • Jen says:

                Another point that could be made is that a basketball court is easier to set up and to maintain than a golf course. An outdoor basketball court can be set up on a spare patch of concrete large enough to accommodate one with the required dimensions and then all you need is the poles to hold the hoops, the painted markings to delineate the court and the ball. A tennis court can be superimposed on a basketball court with differently coloured markings or tape, and two removable posts that hold up a net (which itself could carry a tape showing how high it should be held up off the ground). Playing tennis though is restricted to a maximum of four players whereas basketball accommodates up to eight players at any one time plus people sitting on the sidelines.

                A golf course needs land specially set aside for it which can only exclusively be used for golfing and nothing else, and the land needs constant care with mowing, watering and fertiliser. People living near golf courses have to put up with water being diverted to keep golf courses green and long-term effects of fertiliser and pesticide applications. Why golf is usually played on grass and not any other surface (like sand, clay or asphalt) probably has more to do with the way the sport is administered and the culture that has developed within it and around it. A case could be made that requiring golfers to play on different surfaces and with obstacles (similar to mini-golf courses) would be more stimulating and challenging for them and more interesting for audiences.

    • Patient Observer says:

      I agree, plus swimming is a limited athletic challenge, not much hand-eye coordination, no real strategy, no complexities like “reading” a defense or need for mental acuity. It’s a lot like weightlifting or running in that regard. Perhaps Phelps can be rightly regarded as having the biggest lungs or certainly the biggest mouth.

      Wayne Gretzky has a legitimate claim to being one of the world’s greatest athlete as pointed out in the article. For what is is worth, Gretzky was of Russian ethnicity:

      The Gretzky family were landowners in the Russian Empire, and supporters of Tsar Nicholas II[2] originally from Grodno (now in the Republic of Belarus).[3]

      • Jen says:

        Even long-distance and middle-distance running events in which runners do not run in separate lanes but all together allow for strategy, especially team strategy. You can sometimes see this in the longer middle-distance events like the 10,000-metre events where runners from the same country will bunch up together and pace one another, until such time (usually in or before the last lap) as the fastest of them will break away and go to the front of the pack.

        Most swimming strategies are actually worked out before the event where they’re to be used: the coach and the swimmers agree on the strategy first and then the swimmers try to carry it out. One such strategy is for the swimmer to swim close to the fastest swimmer and coast along in his wake, and then to swim hard in the final lap. You can see this in the 200-metre men’s freestyle event at the 1988 Olympics where the Australian swimmer swims close to the American swimmer and then sprints ahead in the final lap.

  7. Warren says:

    Published on 11 Aug 2016
    Foreign correspondent John Helmer says Turkey’s post-coup relations with Russia have not lead to significant changes in the relationship between the two nations

  8. Warren says:

    Published on 12 Aug 2016
    Vijay Prashad: Turkey is suggesting it’s no longer willing to play the role of NATO’s Islamists for the United States

  9. Cortes says:

    An entertaining blast at “fern-bar Clausewitzes”, “tofu ferocities” and other Hellary remoras:

  10. Patient Observer says:

    Something seems to be wrong with our planes:

    The Marine Corps ordered a mandatory 24-hour operational pause for all non-deployed units to focus on safety and readiness issues following three F/A-18C Hornet crashes this summer, two of which were fatal.I/i>

    And further down in the list of articles, yet another F-18 crash:

    A Navy F/A-18C Hornet pilot assigned to Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center crashed a jet into an open field near Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, yesterday at approximately 10:50 a.m. PDT. The pilot safely ejected and was transported to a local hospital.

    That is four (4) F-18 crashes over the past several months (plus possibly others), all in the US. Bad maintenance, incompetent pilots, texting while flying or high on drugs or what?

  11. Patient Observer says:

    Russia sells India three (3) frigates. These units were intended for the Black Sea fleet but the gas turbines used to propel the ships were manufactured in Ukraine which has imposed an embargo on Russia. The story is a little murky but apparently India will seek to purchase the engines from Ukraine. So, will the ships be towed to India or do they have auxiliary diesel propulsion?

    These are the same class that fired the barrage of cruise missiles from the Caspian against Daesh terrorists in Syria. The Russian company Saturn has been contracted to provide gas turbines (replacing Ukrainian supply) with delivery starting in 2019.

    Way to go Ukraine! And who will buy your gas turbines now? Another high-tech industry in Ukraine bits the dust.

    • marknesop says:

      It looks to me to be largely a matter of scale; Saturn has been working on marine gas turbines since before 2006, since that’s when their first model successfully passed tests. No engines beyond the M75RU are mentioned – this is a 2008 press release – and that developed a maximum of 14,000 shaft horsepower. That’d be enough for a patrol boat, say, or a corvette. But the highest version of the LM-2500 which is the industry standard is nudging 50,000 shp.

      Saturn already has the essential problem licked – how to make an airplane jet engine drive a ship. Now it’s just a matter of increasing power, efficiency and reliability. That said, the LM-2500 drives cruisers and heavy destroyers, and they often have four. The current configuration for the GRIGORIVICH frigates only develops 8,450 shp for the cruise engine and 22,000 for the mains. So Saturn is nearly there, and I would bet they are further along than the west believes. It often suits Russia to let the west believe development is stalled on something, and then suddenly there is a breakthrough. They are known to be excellent engineers, and I find it hard to believe it will take until 2019 to come up with a solution that they do not even have to take from concept.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Are diesels used for long endurance cruising and the gas turbines for high speed dashes? Diesels can have thermal efficiency of 45+% but most gas turbines (unless combine cycles) may struggle to hit 30% unless exhaust regeneration is used (hard to do with aircraft derivatives).

        • kirill says:

          It seems the LM2500 4th gen gas turbine has basically a 40% efficiency. At this level the difference from a diesel is small.

          BTW, the Russian replacements for the engines produced in Banderastan will be available in 2017. The 2019 date is BS.

          • Patient Observer says:

            2017 seems more plausible. Ukraine screws itself.

          • Patient Observer says:

            An advantage of diesels is very good part-load efficiency. Gas turbines tend to have a significant loss of efficiency unless operating at full power. I suppose using a number of gas turbines can partially overcome this limitation by bringing units online as needed assuming that the unit can be quickly started and lifetime is not adversely affected by frequent start/stops.

            • kirill says:

              There was some discussion about new US navy ships being hybrid powered: electric motors actually spinning the screws and internal combustion engines feeding the electricity with batteries acting as a buffer. Under such an arrangement the diesel of gas turbine can be run at optimum RPM and load and all the efficiency issues of different modes of operation in old designs go away. But I have not looked into the status of this design so do not know if it is actually being implemented.

              There must be a reason why marine gas turbines are required for these Russian navy ships. Russia is not limited in the size of diesel engines it can produce.

              • marknesop says:

                Size and ease of replacement, perhaps. Gas turbines are relatively small, and fairly easy to replace (they take them out through the funnels with a chainfall and a crane, or via a soft patch in the deck). Gas turbines deliver instant power and their acceleration is unrivaled by any power plant I have seen, and I go back to steam. But I’m not an engineer, so I’m just guessing.

              • Patient Observer says:

                I suspect a very high power to weight ratio, compact size and low maintenance are big factors for going with gas turbines. Oddly, turbine (steam) electric drives were used nearly a hundred years ago in battleships.


                Turboelectric drives eliminate the need for massive and expensive speed reduction gears and allow the turbo generator to be located well away from the drive motors. Recent interest in turboelectric drives is as a power source for railguns. But, railguns seem to be fading fast as a viable substitute for traditional naval artillery. If lasers ever become viable for naval use, presumably they will needs a great deal of electric power.

                A lot of cruise liners use diesel electric drives; not sure why.

                • kirill says:

                  I can’t believe that such an advanced system existed back then and was “forgotten”. It smells of conspiracy. All the advantages of this system are real. Electric motors driving wheels or screws are vastly superior to any fossil fuel burning engine. They have a vast amount of torque and essentially an infinite set of operating regimes. For internal combustion engines there is variable compression technology which has never managed to reach the consumer in any significant way. This will likely remain the case.

                  Removing gear boxes is an major achievement all on its own. Gears waste a lot of mechanical energy. There is no need for any transmission in an electric drive system. Current hybrid cars have an electric transmission (e.g. Honda Accord hybrid) because they use the gasoline engine to drive the wheels depending on the battery level. A pure electric like the Tesla has no transmission and the motors are part of the wheels. This saves energy by avoiding any sort of drive shaft which necessitates joints which are basically gears.

                  I smell oil industry racketeering behind many choices pertaining to technological evolution over the last 130 years. Why were electric cars, common at the dawn of the car industry, not replaced by hybrid-electric systems but by more complex pure fossil fuel burner designs? There was no technological barrier forcing pure fossil fuel design adoption. Even lead acid batteries can be used for hybrid cars. And better yet, continuous charging of the batteries and pure electric drive could have been adopted. It did not need to be a plug-in hybrid approach since battery technology is behind. Today’s hybrid designs are a sort of security blanket approach were the customer has the option to run their car in conventional mode using the internal combustion engine.

                  Then we have the killing of the electric tram system in the USA during the 1950s to be replaced by diesel buses and gasoline cars. Big oil and its proxies such as GM have been screwing around for a long time.

                • marknesop says:

                  It reminds me of a drill system I read about, a subterranean drill. The author explained that when you drilled the old way, with the motor at the surface and just kept adding lengths, after awhile the flex in the pipe sections prevented you from drilling any deeper because it’s like trying to twist a length of garden hose. So they put the motors right behind the bit, and the motor goes underground with it. Clever.

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Mark, Russia developed “turbodrills” in the 1920s powered by the mud pumped down the drill pipe string. After passing through the turbine, the mud flows up outside of the drill string carrying drilling chips.


                  Electric motors drive downhole pumps for crude oil recovery. Since the pipe diameter is quite small, the motors need to be very long as well as the pumps to develop the necessary pressures and flow.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, it was not my impression that it was necessarily a new technology, it just illustrated a clever change in thinking. If it is not possible to progress any further using this particular technique, what are my options?

              • et Al says:

                I thought that pumpjets are all the rage now? Quieter, less prone to marine and other fowling and I think more efficient that traditional screws. I think some of the new super modern cruiseliners use them manoeuvering to and from the dock. They are mounted in directable pods. I guess it removes some need for tugs.

                Or now that I have looked it up, ‘Azimuth thrusters‘:

                …Newer, cutting-edge cruise ships, like the QM2, use azimuth thrusters, which are pods housing propellers that can rotate 360 degrees and provide optimum maneuverability. These thrusters replace rudders and are thought to have several benefits over conventional screw-type propeller systems, such as decreased stopping distance and greater fuel efficiency [source: AP]. They can be used with either gas turbine or diesel electric engines….


                • marknesop says:

                  The navy has had them for a long time, but they certainly do not remove the need for rudders in that context and are only used in docking and close maneuvering. They’re called ‘bow thrusters’, and are generally only mounted forward. They’re usually in large ships like tankers which answer slowly to helm commands, and which are almost always single-screw design; navy ships maneuver alongside by applying counter-thrust on the two screws to make the bow come around smartly (slow astern port, slow ahead starboard). But obviously you can’t do that in a single-screw ship, like the USN’s OLIVER HAZZARD PERRY Class, which were a single-screw design and were fitted with a bow thruster because of that fact although they were only a frigate.

                  Canada uses the Z-drive for some of its tugs, and that is an azimuth thruster.

        • marknesop says:

          Typically the cruise engines are used for all travel at what is referred to as ‘economical speed’, which is something in the neighbourhood of 12-14 knots for a warship. How long you can remain at economical speed depends on the weather and how much time you have to reach your next objective. Warships are not particularly fuel-efficient at the best of times, but the mains gobble fuel. There are times when you must be on the mains – when you’re doing a rescue, for example, even if it’s an exercise, and while refueling from a tanker – you might need instant power and lots of it if something does not go as planned.

          The mains are not fuel efficient or thermal efficient, but they deliver instant power. When we are refueling we frequently practice Emergency Breakaway, which might occur if a fuel hose ruptures, say, or the tanker loses steering control. It involves a hard turn away from the base course and full power. The Canadian frigates only have two LM-2500’s for main power (the cruises are French, the 20-cylinder Pielstick), but when it accelerates you feel it push you in the back (if you’re sitting down) just like when you’re on a plane taking off.

  12. Patient Observer says:

    Here is a human interest story on the US Navy:

    Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will hold a ceremony in San Francisco next week to officially name the second in a class of new fleet oilers after gay rights advocate Harvey Milk, the service said in a statement to USNI News.

    Harvey Milk was an Ensign in the Navy with an undistinguished career. Other ships in the same class will be named after other civil rights leaders. PC run amok if you ask me.

    • marknesop says:

      I didn’t know he was a Navy man. I remember the film, and I never saw it although I always meant to; it looked like a good story, and Sean Penn evolved into quite a talented actor. He was brilliant in My Name is Sam.

      I don’t see anything wrong with naming a ship after him, although I don’t think it’s necessary to make a big deal about him being a gay rights activist. But then, if they named a ship USS ROSA PARKS, I guess they would have to explain why.

      • Patient Observer says:

        I’m old school on warship names – famous battles, heroic admirals, important historical figures, natural forces (typhoons, etc.), geographical regions, animals of particular strength/agility and anything that connotes speed, power, etc. National parks, governmental buildings, highway overpasses, tunnels etc. can be named after civic officials.

        I don’t know how sailors would react serving on a ship named after a gay rights activist but perhaps the Navy has changed over the years, I don’t know.

        • Jen says:

          The ship to be named after Harvey Milk is a replenishment oiler so it’s not a fighting ship. Its function is to supply fuel and other necessities (food, ammunition, mail) to other ships. According to the Wikipedia article link below, replenishment oilers in the US Navy were usually named after rivers, shipbuilders and marine and aeronautical engineers until a new Congress memo came out a month ago saying the ships are now to be named after civil rights leaders.

          • Patient Observer says:

            That is interesting info. thanks.

          • marknesop says:

            What is or is not a fighting ship is often determined by odd factors, as well. Frequently if it has a gun on it, it’s a warship. And AOR’s (Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment) frequently carry at least CIWS (close-In Weapons System) auto-engage rapid-fire guns for self-defense, because their load of fuel and ammunition make them a floating bomb. Warships often have priority, too, in transiting restricted for-pay crossings such as the Panama Canal. It costs a great deal of money to go through and time is money as well; they’re frequently lined up for miles waiting their turn. When I was in PROTECTEUR, she had two CIWS mounts, which was enough to make her a warship for Panama’s purposes, although we never went through the canal while I was there. Sometime later the mounts were removed through a policy decision (perhaps because they were so unreliable), and presto! Next time she went through the canal she was no longer a warship, and had to wait her turn with the rest.

            There’s nothing particularly inflammatory about naming ships for civil-rights leaders – in fact it is probably long overdue, and would be welcome if it actually heralded a more progressive American regard for civil rights. Does it? You tell me. I suspect it has more to do with the spike in shootings of innocent or not-particularly-dangerous blacks and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. If true, they probably decided to pile the gays in there as well, give them a little recognition.

    • yalensis says:

      Mandatory musical accompaniment to the Harvey Milk/navy story:

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that was quick thinking. Typically carrier pilots are prepared to accelerate again on an instant’s notice in case the hook fails to catch the wire, which will have the same result – the plane will just roll off the nose of the carrier. There used to be restrictions on landing with fuel, as well, in case you become a fireball, and they used to dump their fuel on final approach, but I don’t believe they have done that for some time now.

  13. Patient Observer says:

    Watching CBS news as I write :
    – Rebels rescuing women and children and taking to hospitals (looking staged for cameras)
    – Air strikes destroy only remaining hospitals (videos showing piles of medical equipment which did not appear to have been damaged by fire or blast)
    – Syrian government would not respond to inquiries from CBS news about air strikes on hospitals in Aleppo. The reporter inferred that since the government did not deny the air strikes, they must be the perpetrators.

    Amazing. Child beheaders are portrayed as rescuers of women and children and the forces trying to defeat them are labeled as murderers.

    • marknesop says:

      Remarkable. But a time-tested technique frequently used in the past to portray Palestinian violence against Israelis. And Hezbollah has been frequently accused as well of faking damage and deaths in order to cultivate sympathy. I guess everybody does it. But it is in western interests to portray ‘rebels’, especially pet ‘rebels’ like the White Helmets, as closet humanitarians and the Syrian government as the liver-eaters. I think a lot of observers just expect it now and automatically discount about half of what is said.

    • kirill says:

      CBS can go shove itself in its own collective anus:

      Daesh retreats from Manbij with 2000 civilian hostages. Some humanitarians.

      • marknesop says:

        Good catch. I hope Assad knows better than to give any legroom to these monkeys, because the SDF is just a rebranded Free Syrian Army. Most are not even Syrian, but Libyan and other mercenaries. Washington keeps changing their acronyms, but the aim remains unchanged – the overthrow and replacement of Assad. After that, things will go one of two ways; Assad will be replaced by a compliant western toady who will let Washington have a free hand to dabble, or he will be replaced by someone ineffective who will lead the country to collapse, at which time the west will have to step in to save it.

      • astabada says:

        Fun fact: the Syrian Army is supported by Iran and Russia, including assets on the ground.
        The Syrian Democratic Forces (sic) are supported by the US and its allies (including assets on the ground).

        At the moment the two organizations have a common enemy, the Islamic State.

        Can you imagine what will happen when – inevitably in the future – the SAA and SDF will meet somewhere in Raqqa or Aleppo province?

        • yalensis says:

          Matter vs. anti-Matter?

        • marknesop says:

          The USA seems to have accepted that ISIS has shit the bed and is never going to be viewed as a credible ‘opposition’ in Syria and Iraq. Therefore it has to be destroyed, by a new force comprised of mostly the same people but rebranded, which is also Washington’s creation. So ISIS must be vanquished (or seen to be), and since the USA controls the English-speaking press it will appear that the SDF destroyed it while the Russians occupied themselves with bombing hospitals, schools and playgrounds. But the push is to gain political acceptance for the SDF as the spear of the Syrian opposition. That’s tough in a country in which the Syrian opposition is mostly either foreigners or completely fabricated. I imagine if the dubious marriage was ever successful and managed to oust Assad, the SDF would just kind of melt away, while all the talk would be about ‘healing’ as usual and trying to build acceptance of the new leader.

          • kirill says:

            The US concocted “Syrian” opposition is like the Contras and even worse. After the fighting is over they will not be accepted by Syrian society. But Uncle Scam in his infinite hubris believes that an installed puppet regime can force Syrians to literally eat shit.

          • Jen says:

            In that unlikely scenario of the Syrian “opposition” gaining power – and it would have to be either by a coup or by the same sort of impeachment process that Dilma Rousseff is facing in Brazil – and being able to maintain the peace, the leaders of the Syrian Defense Forces would be rewarded with plum jobs as heads of the country’s armed forces and in the Syrian department of defence or their equivalents. At some time in the future the country’s military leaders could throw out the “legitimate” government in a staged putsch co-ordinated with or by the US and declare a fascist US-leaning dictatorship committed ostensibly to enforcing stability and peace. Washington would say, “Oops, didn’t see that one coming” and then settle down to work with it (or through it, rather). So the SDF won’t really melt away, it would just become invisible.

  14. Warren says:

    Downing Street-controlled BBC disapproves the thawing of relations between Russia and Turkey.

    Russia and Turkey: An ‘alliance of misfits’?

    It was a gesture that ended a crisis. The leaders of Russia and Turkey met on Tuesday to shake hands and declare a formal end to an eight-month long war of words and economic sanctions.

    • marknesop says:

      “But the visit also had additional political value for Moscow. Ankara is angry with the West for what it considers a weak response to the attempted takeover. Add to that its long-standing grudge at the snail’s pace of talks to join the EU and step in Mr Putin – who is keen to capitalise on the chill and chip away at Turkey’s ties with the West.”

      Yes, far be it from the west to capitalize on a chill in relations between countries. The difference between the two is that the west does not wait around for a chill to develop on its own, and uses wedge issues or a coup to re-make circumstances to its liking, then takes advantage.

      “The Russian leader certainly won bonus points with Ankara for calling in support of the elected authorities after the attempted coup. Mind you, that’s a given for Moscow which has its own deep-seated fear of regime change.”

      I don’t think I’d call it a ‘deep-seated fear’ so much as a ‘realistic risk appraisal’. Russia has insulated itself quite well by booting out meddling political western NGO’s or sharply curtailing their freedom to operate in the interests of their home countries. It has much less reason to fear regime change now, especially as all the west’s allies in Russia are such insufferable prats and stuck-up tossers.

      No amount of nose-rubbing between Russia and Turkey is going to change the fact that Turkey is a NATO nation which is stiff with NATO military installations. It just suits Erdogan to piss off the west.

  15. kirill says:

    Apparently the Russian government has decided to drop Kudrin type monetarist economics:

    I never knew about his existence. He was dead right about national economics and free trade. The Smithian BS has been the root of much pain and suffering over the last 200 years.

    • marknesop says:

      “President Putin has clearly realized that the neo-liberal “experiment” has failed. More likely, is that he was forced to let economic reality unfold under the domination of the liberals to the point it was clear to all internal factions that another road was urgently needed. Russia, like every country, has opposing vested interests and now clearly the neo-liberal vested interests are sufficiently discredited by the poor performance of the Kudrin group that the President is able to move decisively. In either case, the development around the Stolypin Group is very positive for Russia.”

      This is indeed big news, and the above paragraph is the money shot. Kudrin is a tool, but Putin wisely did not make a martyr out of him by kicking him to the curb until he had shown everyone that he was a tool. Now nobody will dare intervene, “But what about Kudrin’s plan?” And another western voice stilled.

      • Jen says:

        Yes I did think Putin had a reason to keep Kudrin close and in a position where he couldn’t do too much damage. This meant of course that the Russian economy had to be in a healthy enough position to withstand the neoliberal experiment and the sanctions against it at the same time. It was a risky strategy but Moscow pulled it off.

        Like Kirill, I never knew about Friedrich List even though he had a huge influence on both Bismarck-era Germany and Meiji-era Japan (and by extension South Korea in the 1960s, since the Koreans followed the Japanese model of industrial development).

      • Patient Observer says:

        Now that the last and best hope of the West to destabilize Russia is apparently slipping away, the Western war drums will beat louder than ever. Also, the Chinese will be more comfortable working with a Russia free of overt Western economic control.

    • Cortes says:

      A small part of me likes to think that VVP is inspired by the example of Dr. Francia of Paraguay:

      The endeavours of the Robertsons mentioned in the piece eventually led to a Coalition of the Coerced involving GB, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil; oddly enough, his regime didn’t survive. Elements of his regime and personal foibles were used by Augusto Roa Bastos in a great novel (available in English) “I, the Supreme One”.

      • Warren says:

        Paraguay never recovered from its defeat in the Paraguayan War 1864-70, the most horrific war of the 19th century and the precursor to the bloodbath of the WW1.

        Paraguay pursued a “autonomist”, autarky, pro-socialists economic model of development.

        Oddly Paraguayan blame the British for orchestrating the war against them.

        Britain and Paraguay
        Puppeteers or bystanders?

        Another school of thought – argues that Paraguay overestimated its capabilities and neighbouring states (Argentina and Brazil) were keen to cut Paraguay figuratively and literally (after the war Paraguay conceded territory to Argentina and Brazil) down to size.

        Click to access triple.pdf

      • Jen says:

        Francia was succeeded by Carlos Antonio Lopez and Lopez’s son Francisco Solano Lopez as Paraguayan President. It was the younger Lopez who led Paraguay into a disastrous war against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The self-sufficient industrialising state that Francia bequeathed to the Lopez father-and-son act (and which the two continued) was perceived as a competitor and threat by the British to their interests in Argentina; in those days, post-independence Argentina was a de facto British colony because of its flat pampas which were used to graze beef cattle and over which railways could be built. (The British may have actually poured more investment money into developing Argentina’s agriculture than they did in all their colonies in Australia put together.) So there’s reason to think that Britain encouraged Argentina and Brazil to bully Uruguay and gang up together to defeat Paraguay in a brutal war that threw the country all the way back to the stone age and killed about three-quarters of its male population.

        For a long while after the war, Paraguay had to legalise polygamy and was host to several communal experiments by various overseas groups. One of the more notorious of these utopian experiments was the Nueva Germania colony founded by Elisabeth Nietzsche (sister of Friedrich) and her husband: it was intended to be racially pure, was run on strict hierarchical lines and practised vegetarianism with a strict no-alcohol policy. The colony was never successful and after Nietzsche’s husband died and she had to return to Germany to care for her invalid brother, the colony almost collapsed. I’m not sure if the Nazi government tried to revive it but the settlement sort of still existed well into the 1990s at least, though from what I’ve been able to read about it, it’s very poor and very rural, has very few roads linking it to other towns, and many of the people there have mental and physical problems arising from excessive intermarrying and inbreeding.

        There was also a socialist colony established by Australian settlers in the 1890s known as Nueva Australia but that didn’t last long either. The colony divided into two colonies – the splinter colony was Cosme – and both eventually petered out.

        • Cortes says:

          “One of the more notorious of these utopian experiments was the Nueva Germania colony founded by Elisabeth Nietzsche (sister of Friedrich) and her husband: it was intended to be racially pure, was run on strict hierarchical lines and practised vegetarianism with a strict no-alcohol policy. The colony was never successful” – I wonder why. Meantime the German colonies around Valdivia in Chile, with breweries aplenty , did rather well.
          Both Argentina and Uruguay were firmly within the GB sphere, the latter apparently being rebuffed from formal inclusion in the 1820s and the former some 110 years or thereby later. The 1930s bid may have been just to circumvent the Imperial Preference system which advantaged the Dominions, competitors in cereals and meat production.

      • marknesop says:

        Vintage spin! Marvelous!

    • Warren says:

      Adam Smith advised the new American republic against industrialisation, instead rely on its comparative advantage in agriculture. Americans wisely ignored Adam Smith’s advice, and instead pursued economic policies conceived by Alexander Hamilton – that of industrialisation and protectionism.

      The United States in an act of shameless hypocrisy and unforgivable malice, is promoting economic policies to the world, that would have stunted America’s economic development in the late 18th and 19th century.

      Neo-liberalism and “free trade” is a con.

      Kicking Away the Ladder:
      How the Economic and Intellectual Histories of Capitalism Have Been Re-Written to Justify Neo-Liberal Capitalism

      • marknesop says:

        Wow. Now that is a revelation. To me, at least.

      • kirill says:

        Thanks for the links. It is the fact that Russia is deviating from the laissez-faire dogma that is driving the NATO dominated west foaming mad. Russia is an existential threat to the laissez-faire west since it is in the process of demonstrating that monetarist voodoo does not work and rational economics (e.g. Friedrich List) does. Monetarism (aka neo-liberal economics) is a colonial racket.

  16. Warren says:

  17. Patient Observer says:

    More major infrastructure woes:

    With about 1900 megawatt output, this was once the largest power plant in the world according to a news story. The plant will likely be out of service for many months if not a few years assuming that there is sufficient economic justification to undertake the repairs.

  18. marknesop says:

    What do you think? To me, Mogherini’s non-statement ( ‘everybody stay calm’) says, “Whatever you think you have to do, Ukraine”, on the subject of the plot to stage destabilizing attacks in Crimea. Please note that she met with Pavel ‘half-pint’ Klimkin just before her statement that the EU will never recognize Crimea as anything other than Ukrainian. Was there someone who thought she was going to be progressive? I thought I heard that somewhere.

    • Cortes says:

      Looks like a late-Friday “Issue 100 word blab from the Phrase Bank, darling, would you? I’ve a plane to catch for a hot date. See you Tuesday mmmwa.”

    • yalensis says:

      More alarming to me was when she lumped “Sebastopol” with Crimea as something the EU would never accept (as being “annexed” by Russia).
      Legally, even by Western “standards” there is a clear distinction between Crimea and Sebastopol. Crimea was and is an autonomous Republic. Sebastpol was, and is, a free city somewhat separate from the rest of Crimea. The legal situations, even by international law, were and are completely different, and should be treated separately, even by the pro-Westie side.

      To lump them together would be a rookie mistake by somebody not in the know. For Mogherini to do that, is clear act of provocation to war.

      • marknesop says:

        Mogherini is a rookie, with little real experience in international diplomacy, and there is good reason to believe she is just parroting lines she is given by someone else. The west has taken a position that Crimea is Ukrainian, and cannot back away from it. But I submit to you that since Sebastopol was what NATO wanted all along out of the Ukrainian conflict, they could hardly concede that it is the one part of Crimea upon which Ukraine has no claim whatsoever.

        None of this rhetoric is going to induce Russia to simply hand it back, and I do not believe Russians would tolerate it even from a future leader – the original gifting of it to Ukraine was extremely unpopular. So if that means the west and Russia can never reach a rapprochement unless it results from Russia yielding, so be it. It is the west who will be sorry, but you can never tell people that they are making a mistake while they’re still making it. They have to pursue it until they feel its consequences before it can be acknowledged as a mistake. Again, so be it.

  19. marknesop says:

    Stubbornly retarded anti-Russian partisan for Time Simon Shuster says the ‘alleged’ plot by ‘alleged’ saboteurs in Crimea to blow stuff up makes no sense. Why? Because, among other things, the buckshee explosives made out of plastic bottles were amateurish and hilarious, and nobody would ever believe they were from the Ukrainian army, which even though it is decrepit and broke, can still supply its soldiers with modern weapons.

    Brilliant sleuthing, Simon. You exposed the flaw in the plan. Assuming that plan was for the attacks to shout “The Work Of The Ukrainian Army”. Except it wasn’t.

    What a simpleton. Is that all it takes to be a journalist these days?

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yes, it was abundantly clear to any two neurons in the same room that it was to be a false flag operation – oppressed Crimeans voting with explosives, perhaps to give hope and a plan forward for jihadists being crushed by Russian intolerance.

  20. Cortes says:

    The comment by Brenden Dilley pretty much nails it. She sounds like a lovely person.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yes, the Ugly American is perfecting its ugliness to the roar of USA! USA! USA!

    • marknesop says:

      That’s a nice burqa she’s wearing in the photo. Very modern, I like the mesh updates.

      All kidding aside, the momentum definitely seems to have shifted, and now the atmosphere seems to be concern for sportsmanship in terms of what the audience wants to see. And the USA is saying all the wrong things. So is Canada, they had best smarten up. That can only bode well for Russia.

  21. Warren says:

  22. Warren says:

  23. Warren says:

    • kirill says:

      Fucking Kremlinologists. NATzO is trapped in a delusional timewarp. And it can’t grasp reality.

    • marknesop says:

      You guessed it – I am blocked from Anders Aslund’s twitter feed as well. By Brian Whitmore’s standards, I must be doing something right.

      “Putin and Ivanov reportedly attended the KGB training school at the same time, but unlike Putin, Ivanov was an outstanding officer. Ivanov, who speaks fluent English and Swedish, was KGB chief in Finland. He is secure, speaks happily with foreigners, and has a good sense of humor.”

      See, KGB Ivanov is a hell of a guy, while KGB Putin is a secretive little toad. Obviously KGB-ness has nothing really to do with it, because you can be former KGB and still be secure, likable and acceptable to foreigners. It must be a confusing place inside Aslund’s head, because he never seems to be able to find a position he can stick with. Except for Putin is bad, of course.

      • Warren says:

        Except for Putin is bad, of course.

        And Russia is bad, always wrong and evil.

        Aslund is a sensitive Swede, like all think tank Atlanticists they can dish it but can’t take it. I’ve yet to be blocked by Aslund – maybe because I haven’t attempted to engage Aslund like I have with other Atlanticists such as Whitmore, Lucas, Apfelbaum, etc who’ve all blocked me.

        Atlanticists cannot tolerate dissenting voices and alternative opinions from their own rigid and rabid ideology.

        Here is a direct link to Aslund’s latest ramblings.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I can see what he said if I look at the comment in the blog post itself, as you do. But on the administrator’s page all that appears is a link, and if I click it it says I am blocked. I hope the west listens to Aslund and takes his recommendations. I can think of no surer a guarantee of failure.

  24. Warren says:

    • kirill says:

      Hahaha. The warp bubble of delusion. Yeah, Heritage has its finger on the pulse of public opinion…not. The problem with exceptionalist Amerikkkan idiots is that they think the rest of the world is composed of 3rd world banana republics that can be pushed around at will. But Russia simply does not fit in this hubris-generated category. So there is severe cognitive dissonance and spasms of projection to fill the perception gap.

      Amerikkka is number one on the planet in corruption and is the regime that is in actual decline. Both the Congress and the Senate are worked over by lobbyists (a euphemistic term created to obfuscate). The so-called elected representatives kiss corporate ass. Exhibit A: the US military industrial complex and the cold war part two to generate more cash flow.

    • marknesop says:

      “U.S. comprehensive strategy toward Russia must be part of an even larger strategy and cannot be an end in itself because—unlike during the Cold War—Russia is not the U.S.’s primary opponent, even though Russia has defined itself as a geopolitical adversary to the U.S. But precisely because part of Russia’s strategy relies on returning to the Soviet approach of playing the spoiler, Russia is irresponsibly involved in many of the world’s problems, hot spots, and crises.”

      There you have it – it was Russia’s fault that it became the USA’s geopolitical enemy – it was not selected, it ‘defined itself’. What magical thinking. And when Russia balks American objectives, it is ‘playing the spoiler’. The piece leads off with a factual statement that Russia invaded Ukraine, and where the USA has a ‘system’, Russia has a ‘regime’. Tells you all you need to know, and with thinking like this dominating American political thought, expect more failure to come.

      And look! Over in the right sidebar! It’s our old friend, Luke Coffey, the former military officer who cannot say enough good things about America’s policy of benevolence toward the world. America is good, and it means only goodness – why can’t people see it?

      • Cortes says:

        A factual statement needs to be amended to “A “factual statement”” otherwise excellent, Mark.
        (Think of the mortification to be cited by Whitmore,Gessen, …Aslund or drumroll La Russophobe!!!!)

  25. Warren says:

    If War Comes Tomorrow: How Russia Prepares for Possible Armed Aggression

    This report analyses the economic dimension of Russia’s system of mobilisation, detailing the extensive preparations that Moscow has made for war

  26. Warren says:

    Everything Old is New Again: Russia Returns to Nicaragua

    Two Western media outlets reported on 23 June that Russia was engaged in building a signals intelligence[1] (SIGINT) base in Nicaragua as “part of a recent deal between Moscow and Managua involving the sale of 50 T-72 Russian tanks.”[2] The reports came shortly after the 14 June expulsion of some United States Homeland Defense personnel by the Nicaraguan government. The United States State Department claimed Nicaragua expelled three officials with diplomatic passports. The Nicaraguan government claimed it expelled two Homeland Defense officials who were in the country performing work related to counterterrorism without first notifying Nicaraguan authorities.[3]

  27. Warren says:

  28. Warren says:

  29. marknesop says:

    J.T. has his post on the McLaren Report up, here:

    I encourage everyone to take a look at the report (link provided) if you have not already done so, and use your own wit and common sense to spot anomalies, contradictions, things that do not make sense. One that has been bothering me for some time, for example, is the whole switcheroo-at-the-mouse-hole thing with the urine samples. Supposedly the FSB man would hand Rodchenkov back a bottle containing a clean sample of the athlete’s pee from months before. But if they have a long-term culture of cheating, there would not be any clean pee. The athletes would be doping from the time they entered the sports program, because you have to get a feel for how much your performance will be enhanced – you don’t want the first time you do it to be in live competition. Besides, comparison with your previous results achieved would suggest doping, if you just knocked 25 seconds off your 500 meter time.

    Another is a NYT article, I don’t have it right now but it was linked on Ken Perrot’s blog, which concluded by saying the investigative team had captured the Russian government database which listed all the athletes who were doping. Courtesy of Gunter the cybercrime expert, no doubt. Come on – are we supposed to believe the government, or the ministry or whatever, would maintain a soft-copy list of everyone who was doping? Didn’t they learn anything from Hillary Clinton and the myriad other tools who were caught because of electronic records?

    • Hoffnungstirbtzuletzt says:

      Not only that, but, according to Stephen Cohen in one of his recent podcasts with John Batchelor, the bottles used for the samples were guaranteed tamper-proof by the company that produces them. And they are still being used in Rio. One wonders why, he asks. The last few mins. of the podcast:

      • marknesop says:

        Good catch!!!

        Note in this New York Times article – probably the one Cohen is speaking of – Rodchenkov claims not to know himself how the tamper-proof bottles were opened. He says that he is only guessing.

        “The mechanics of how the feat was pulled off are a mystery to Dr. Rodchenkov. “I truly believed this was tamper-proof,” he said in a recent interview in Los Angeles, holding a clear Berlinger bottle with a blue stripe in his hand. “This is like a safe. I cannot think how to get under this”…Dr. Rodchenkov said that for at least 15 Russian athletes who won medals at Sochi, both the A and B samples were substituted before they were tested. None of the bottles’ caps — which are branded with unique seven-digit codes — showed any signs of having been opened…Each night at Sochi, Dr. Rodchenkov said, sealed bottles were passed through a hole in the wall of the storage closet that served as his shadow laboratory. The bottles were handed to a man who he believed worked for the Russian intelligence service, the F.S.B. Within two hours, he said, those same bottles were returned to him, their caps unlocked…“Magicians were on duty,” Dr. Rodchenkov said, suspecting that F.S.B. officers had studied the toothed metal rings that lock the bottle when the cap is twisted shut. According to him, they collected hundreds of them leading up to the Olympics…Dr. Catlin theorized that heat had been applied to remove the bottles’ caps…He [Rodchenkov]said he had expressed some concern about the bottles years ago, asking if they could be outfitted with internal thermometers, to show if the sample had been frozen or heated. “But that’s just a wild guess,” he said.

        So…who demonstrated for Professor McLaren that the tamper-proof bottles could be opened? He says he knows it is possible because it was demonstrated for him. Who did that? The FSB? Nice of them to be so cooperative. Comes to that, Rodchenkov only says he ‘believes’ the mysterious man outside the secret dope lab was FSB.

        Nice to see Dr. Don Caitlin featured, as well.

        “I tried to break into these bottles years ago and couldn’t do it,” Don Catlin, the former head of the U.C.L.A. Olympic Analytical Laboratory, said. “It’s shocking.”

        I imagine it is, Don. Don Caitlin, ladies and gentlemen, head of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, as he was in 1984 for the Los Angeles Olympics. For those who don’t remember, the UCLA lab identified 9 positives for steroids during the last 2 days of the games…and then a decision was arrived at between the head of the IOC at the time, the head of the LAOOC (the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee) and the President of the IOC Medical Commission – over the latter’s objections – to suppress the results. So you can understand Don Caitlin’s wonder now: he just isn’t a very curious guy. He stipulated that the UCLA Lab had identified positive drug results and reported them to the IOC, but nothing was ever done about it. “I never knew why”, he said.

        Peter Ueberroth, incidentally, the head of the LAOOC at the time, went on to become head of the IOC himself until 2008, and even now is a force to be felt in the Olympics. He enthusiastically champions Los Angeles, where this cheating debacle occurred, as the host of the 2024 Olympics. We must learn not to be surprised by anything.

        • ucgsblog says:

          Well, well, well, isn’t that interesting. Rodchenkov said that he believes, whereas McLaren claims that it was demonstrated for him. Can we put McLaren under oath, and make him swear that everything in the report is true?

    • Cortes says:

      Presumably Berlinger the Swiss sample receptacle supplier has a business and reputation to protect. The months ahead ought to be fascinating if for no other reason than to observe which rivals pitch their products as better than the purportedly manipulable Berlinger ones in use.
      What’s that sound you ask?
      That’s the sound of the £5000 a day barristers at the London Courts ga ah ang!
      Ooh! Ah!

      (Wonder if Cherie! Cherie Baby will sing? )

    • ucgsblog says:

      I’m wondering how a report that’s completely dependent on WADA’s arbitrary timeline, be deemed an independent report? One can also ask how much doping was involved before arriving at said conclusion, but I think we should focus on the initial question.

      • marknesop says:

        That’s a good point. Have you visited the discussion of the McLaren Report at JT’s blog? That might be a useful thing to mention, as it was hardly independent. The notion of ‘independence’ was out the window anyway as soon as it included Dick Pound, who had been yelling about a Russian ban ever since the doping allegation first came up and long before the ‘independent commission’ was ever created.

        • ucgsblog says:

          I might go there laterish; I’m a bit surprised why so few are talking about the Meldonium Ban. What was the reason for it? Why was it rushed? Was it legal?

  30. Warren says:

    Rio Olympics 2016: Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova has account hacked

    Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova has had the account that shows details of her location hacked, the World Anti-Doping Agency has confirmed.

    • marknesop says:

      Even WADA is brilliant at detecting hacking. Why can’t they stop it? And of course in a world where the Russians keep a database recording the names of all their known drug cheats, where WADA was conveniently able to capture it, WADA learned nothing and recorded Stepanova’s current American address in their own computer records. There’s a word for people who can’t learn despite repeated lessons, but I forget now what it is.

      If I were Stepanova, I’d be nervous. Because it might be a prelude for her and Vitaly to be silenced in a drive-by which will of course be blamed on the Russians, since they now know where she is.

    • ucgsblog says:

      Look at that name tag “run clean” what a sad joke. Stepanova couldn’t win even as she doped. Isinbayeva could win without doping. Guess which one the World’s, allegedly anti-doping, agency wanted banned? Turned out it was the Russian that can win, not the Russian that doped.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, I suspect it had far more to do with eliminating Russia as a medal-winner, so as to ensure more medals for Americans, than any real concern for clean sport.

        • ucgsblog says:

          Yeah, but I doubt it’s just limited to Russia. The Chinese are also complaining. And I doubt that they’re the only ones. We’ll see where this all goes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the World rallies around Russia, at the very least on the Paralympics issue.

  31. Warren says:

    Foreign Buyer Tax Will Make Government Rich, But Won’t Fix Housing

    The government of British Columbia’s decision to impose a 15-per-cent hike in Land Transfer Taxes for foreigners who buy real estate in Metro Vancouver will do almost nothing to lower high housing prices. It will, however, generate even more money for a government that has already profited enormously from foreign nationals seeking sanctuary not only for their capital (however it was gained) but also for their future.

    • kirill says:

      As I posted, too little and too late. The Toronto and Vancouver housing markets are totally messed up. A generic one family house is over one million dollars in Toronto. The Canadian middle class does not earn the sort of income to be able to afford such prices. Hiding behind 4% mortgage rates doesn’t make Canadians rich.

      Over the last three years prices on food and construction material have gone up between 20% and 30% (from my personal sampling). Yet the CPI shows none of this. It hides the house price increases via the obfuscation of “equivalent rent” and hides the food price increases by applying a weighting factor.

  32. kirill says:

    So the Pentagon does not want its employees playing Pokemon Go. But when some in Russia publicly express their opinion that this is a spy app without any actual bans, that is proof that Russia is a totalitarian toilet to RFERL and other western MSM.

    • marknesop says:

      Great catch – well done. The ironic part is that the know-nothing free-marketer who wrote the article describes it as ‘fear-mongering’ by the Pentagon. It does not occur to him (or her; hard to tell from the name) that the Pentagon knows very well what it does and what kind of information it can facilitate.

    • et Al says:

      The Pentagon is denying reports that there is a ban on playing Pokemon Go on its premises.

      However, a spokesman said they have asked employees not to play the popular game on government-issued phones.

      “We have asked, as we do periodically, asked Defense Department personnel to avoid putting the game and similar games on their government-issued mobile devices,” Deputy Defense press secretary Gordon Trowbridge told reporters at an off-camera Pentagon briefing Friday.

      “But there is no ban on Pokemon Go. And last I heard, there was still a gym in center courtyard. I’m not a player myself so I defer to others,” he added.

      “I can confirm it,” said Director of the Defense Press Office Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, who briefed reporters alongside Trowbridge. ..

      So it is not a ban. You are just not allowed to play it in a,b,c,d,e,f,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,t,u,v,w,x,y,z, but you are allowed to play it in g,r & s areas.

  33. Warren says:

  34. Warren says:

  35. marknesop says:

    Russia has appealed the Paralympics ban to the IOC, and will doubtless launch a formal appeal with CAS as well. I think they’ve got a pretty good chance of overturning it, especially since public opinion does not support it as well as the IPC might like. It’s politically popular, but popularly unpopular.

  36. Warren says:

  37. Warren says:

  38. Warren says:

  39. Warren says:

    • Patient Observer says:

      Speaking at a rally held in New York this afternoon, Satan said he would fully support the Clinton campaign, and stated that he will do everything in his power to help the 68-year-old secure her place as the first female president in America’s short, but eventful history.

      “I love America and everything it stands for,” Satan opened his speech, “I love the way you guys just take what you want, when you want it, without fear of reprisals. Furthermore, I adore your country’s corrupt behaviour and continuing propensity for violence, and your cunning ability to cover it up as some form of retribution for attacks on your soil, which you ingeniously orchestrate yourselves,” adding, “you guys are even putting me to shame here, and I could not think of anyone else more perfect than Hillary to guide you through the next 4 to 8 years, because, let’s face it, it’s going to be hell”.

      Eerily accurate.

  40. Cortes says:

    The BBC is entirely independent so the following “story” is ok:

    • marknesop says:

      “After making up with Turkey last week, Moscow could well be looking for a new external enemy for Russians to rally round, reinvigorating a sense of “us-against-them”.

      Yes, that’s just what a president with eighty-plus-percent approval ratings needs – a rally-round-the-flag-boys diversion to prop up his sagging ratings. Oh, wait; what’d I just say?

      How much does the BBC pay this fool for her cookie-cutter analysis?

      • kirill says:

        This is just the never ending insulting of the Russian people and their intelligence level coming from the hubris-filled chauvinists in the west. Russians do not rally around the flag and have never done that, including during WWII. Flag rallying is a disease afflicting the USA.

        Russians are some of the least patriotic (in the nationalist sense) people on the planet. They do not base their collective perception around a national ideal. And wars are ***NOT*** something that rallies Russians in support of warring like they do in the case of NATzO. Russians see any war mongering by their government as the ultimate failure and wrong doing. There will be the opposite of rallying and instead open dissent.

        To paint Turkey as some sort of threat that would herd Russians into support for Putin’s alleged “aggression” is a grotesque lie and insult. The crap spewed by the BBC is what gets Russians riled up.

        • marknesop says:

          Not to mention that rally-’round-the-flag is a uniquely western – mostly American – distraction tactic the leader uses when his ratings are in trouble; not supporting me is unpatriotic and translates directly to not supporting your country. Hillary is doing it now: support me, for the good of the country. I can’t remember the last time an American (or Canadian, for that matter) candidate ran on a platform of “elect me because I’m a great leader”.

  41. Warren says:

    • et Al says:

      I just did a short ballet routine to this, picking up the g/f on tiptoes… What can I say? I got carried away. Or should that be ‘she got carried away’???

      • marknesop says:

        Physical strength is important, but watch your personal form as well.

      • yalensis says:

        I hate Disney flics in principle, but a (female) friend convinced me (somewhat unwillingly) to sit through a double-feature of neo-feminist Disney flics “Maleficent” and “Frozen”.
        And I have to say, in spite of myself, these films are not bad at all.

        Certainly a cut above the traditional Disney propaganda that a girl’s every possible need shall be met by her Prince Charming, once she meet that magical fellow.

        In fact, both films (Maleficent and Frozen) put this whole Prince Charming thing on its head. By re-defining “true love” as something possibly other than just limited to sexual/romantic boy-girl love leading to marriage. Thus taking some of the burden off the boyfriend to be the be-all and end-all and have to meet every conceivable need of his partner – emotional sexual psychological historical sociological mathematical biological culinary epistolary epitemological and even entomological…..

        In “Maleficent” the “true love’s kiss” is not the kiss of the boyfriend Aurora barely just met and hardly knows; it’s the chaste forehead-kiss of her adopted godmother who came to love the girl with something like a mother’s affection. And in “Frozen”, the true love is the love of her little sister who remains loyal in spite of her sibling turning into a dick.

        In both cases, this is surely Disney rewriting all their old crappy propaganda with a more modernistic and less romantic angle to it.

        And that’s my movie review of the week!

        • Patient Observer says:

          I see that you drank the Kool-aide (just kidding). I have a visceral negative reaction to Disney films – they seem calculating, manipulative and preachy. If the films you mentioned are not that way I can only conclude that the Disney has perfected its calculating, manipulative and preachiness to a new, stealthy, level.

          • kirill says:

            I liked Maleficient. It was not cheesy and the good vs evil framework was not so clear.

            Frozen was an overall good animated movie. But I prefer Japanese anime.

          • yalensis says:

            Hee hee, don’t worry, P.O., I never drank no stinking Kool-aide.
            And “Frozen” didn’t really turn me on that much, the songs and show numbers are loud and derivative. I did like the Reindeer character, though. He’s pretty funny.

            I did like “Maleficent” though. I’ve always been a fan of the “Sleeping Beauty” legend, well mostly because of the Tchaikovsky ballet, I suppose. And I love the Aurora character. So it was cool to see a different rendering of the legend, with a very different slant to it.

            And by the way, Aurora’s dad and the 3 “good fairies” are idiots. The prophecy was that on her 16th birthday Aurora would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. So, what does her dad do? He sends her off as a baby to be raised in the woods by fairies, with instructions to bring her back to the castle on the day AFTER her 16th birthday.
            This was a completely unnecessary counter-measure.

            if I were Aurora’s dad I would do absolutely nothing and let grow her in the castle, until the day BEFORE her 16th birthday. At which point I would keep her locked up and under guard in a safe house (without spinning wheels) for 2 days, maybe 3 days just to be on the safe side. And then let her out. There was absolutely no reason to send her into the forest. In fact, she is more likely to encounter spinning wheels in a peasant cottage out there.

        • et Al says:

          My only problem with Frozen (except for hearing small children singing those songs on forever autorepeat) is that the body images are all svelte of the leading characters. Hardly representative, and considering the audience of pocket terrorists (a.k.a. ‘children’), it’s telling them that’s the ideas way to be. Nope, it’s wrong. I would have hoped that Disney and others had moved on from this considering how many others have and are more representative of the population in general, so I was a bit surprised.

          • Jen says:

            My problem with Disney films generally is they have stock character types (like jive-talking support animal characters, fussy dim-witted support characters, irritating heroines who are either airheads or know-it-alls with animal cunning) and sap the life and individuality of the stories they plunder, and render them schmaltzy and one-dimensional. The story of Pocahontas who was actually a very tragic historical figure but whose life was turned into a sappy romance by Disney is an example.

            Also Disney has a bad reputation for exploiting its workers, not being a good social corporate citizen (eg setting up huge operations in cities but expecting city governments to foot the bill for providing extra carparking spaces for Disney employees) and hitting preschools and kindergartens with lawsuits because some of the kids drew pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and hung them on walls.

            • yalensis says:

              Actually, I know some people who either worked for, or their kids worked for, Disney; and I heard that the benefits are very good. In fact, Disney was one of the first major employers in America to offer spousal benefits for same-sex couples.
              Of which there many, most likely, given that this is an artistic community.

              • marknesop says:

                Have you ever asked yourself why, when Donald Duck gets out of the shower, he’s modestly covered with a towel…and then ten seconds later he’s prancing around in a little square-rigger jacket with no pants on?

                • Moscow Exile says:


                  Donald’s wearing ducks:

                • Jen says:

                  The white part that appears exposed is actually a diaper-like pair of shorts and those are yellow stockings he is wearing, like this outfit here.


                • marknesop says:

                  Well, this looks a lot better. But I don’t buy it – are there pink ones? Because Porky Pig does exactly the same thing. Upper garment, no pants. In fact it gave rise to a brief fad here known as “Going Porky”, in which daring youths of both genders would drive around downtown wearing nothing below the waist except for perhaps shoes and socks. You’d never know, unless you passed in a bus or an 18-wheeler, and I don’t believe the latter are even allowed in the downtown core. Maybe a pickup truck would give you a similar view. I can’t speak to it as I never saw anyone doing it.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Those “duck” baggy drawers were common apparel amongst 18th and early 19th century sailors:

                  Ship’s cook as was the fictitious “Long John Silver”, one -legged as a result of having been wounded in action.

                  Press-gang member

                  Admiral Rodney, standing on the French flag, accepts the sword of Comte De Grasse.

                  Detail of seaman’s duck drawers.

                  More “ducks” on display.

                  White “ducks” trousers and drawers were made from cotton “duck” canvas, which is stiffer than denim.

                  The word “duck” in this context is derived from Doek or Dutch canvas, which cloth was manufactured in the Netherlands. Sailors also made many other general purpose canvas things from it that were needed on sailing ships.

                • Jen says:

                  Porky Pig (and the usually nude Daffy Duck for that matter) sometimes go fully clothed …


                  … usually when they are playing other characters like the Scarlet Pumpernickel, Duck Rogers or Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

              • Jen says:

                @ Yalensis: Not all Disney employees necessarily have access to the same range of benefits. If they’re directly employed by Disney at its HQ and work in its core animation business and the administration – meaning that they are not working as contractors – they get generous benefits but if they work in the theme parks or hotels or other spin-off businesses owned by Disney, their work and pay conditions could be very different.

                The dark side of Disney as a corporate citizen:

                IT workers at Walt Disney World in Florida made to train H1-B visa foreign workers in their work in 90 days and then retrenched in January 2015:

                Even a famous actor like Harrison Ford was entitled to Disney employee benefits like proper health and safety protection from a hydraulic door that could have killed him, though he was employed temporarily by a Disney subsidiary company:

                • yalensis says:

                  Yes, I imagine working conditions vary.
                  The life of a theme-park employee should not be envied.
                  (Walking around in the blazing heat in those furry costumes while mean children pulling on your tail!)

              • Moscow Exile says:

                No, those are not ducks but butchers’aprons (it’s a Gillray cartoon mocking an election mob).

                Here’s Donald buying some duck drawers:

                • yalensis says:

                  Well, thank goodness Donald wears something most of the time. Look at that hairy duck-ass he has. Even the big dog is shocked.

                • Jen says:

                  No wonder the dog feller was so shocked he fell over backwards, you’d be shocked too at what Donald allows to hang out.

                • marknesop says:

                  I was desperately sorry I had clicked on that, as I expected I would be, until I heard that their penis falls off after each mating season and then grows back for the following cycle in proportion with that of other male ducks. That’s so fair it could almost be described as Marxist. From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs. Revolutionary, and almost enough to make up for having a corkscrew johnson.

                • yalensis says:

                  On the other hand, The Donald is very much in demand at frat parties, when somebody brought a big bottle of wine but forgot to bring a corkscrew.

  42. marknesop says:

    Ummmm….who is it, again, who has a ‘culture of cheating’?

    • Warren says:

      Pathetic Poles have achieved nothing, Nord Stream II proceeds as normal. All the foreign shareholders (Uniper, BASF/Wintershall, Shell, OMV and ENGIE ) maintain their commitment to the project.

      Signatories of Nord Stream 2 Shareholder Agreement Withdraw Merger Clearance Application in Poland

      Implementation of Nord Stream 2 proceeds as planned
      Prospective Shareholders to continue close cooperation

      • kirill says:

        Poland has no legal case. It does not control international waters. It is also clear that the EU-crats in Brussels have no brass to go against Germany and block access of Nord Stream II from connecting to EU territory (in Germany). So Poland, Uncle Scam, and all the other yapping chihuahuas can keep on yapping as the Nord Stream II caravan moves by.

        • marknesop says:

          Agree; the Poles will be waking up today and saying, “Wait; what just happened?” as their angry business sectors scowl at them for their stupidity. Poland was offered the chance to come on board and profit from the deal, and blew it off because of their Russophobia and lickspittle loyalty to Brussels. On their own heads be it; they will be sorry. They can’t seem to see how ludicrous their position is – they are greatly dependent on foreign supplies, but want to control every tiny aspect of where their gas comes from, including setting their own prices. Suit yourself, Poland. Maybe you can buy from Ukraine.

    • marknesop says:

      “Attempts” is the key word. The Poles are flush with stupid self-satisfaction in the belief that they have ‘stopped the deal’ but I doubt that is the case. The aforementioned companies can simply proceed without the participation of their Polish subsidiaries. I find it hard to imagine Poland owns such a significant piece of BASF, for example, that the company is dead on its feet without Poland’s participation.

      Nord Stream II is less important now that Turkish Stream has returned to consideration under a chastened Erdogan, although it would still be a mistake to trust him. But he has had a valuable lesson on what sanctions will do to his economy, as well as an equally-valuable one that NATO will not supply any more than happy talk to help him out. For my money, even with its risks Turkish Stream is the better option, since it forces the EU to build its own infrastructure within its own borders, so it can’t bitch that it is hostage to eebil Russia. If you don’t want the gas, don’t take it. It seems to escape them that the same arrangement prevails with a pipeline: nobody is making you buy more gas from it than you can use.

      Poland is going to find itself in the same position as Bulgaria did; a sacrifice to Brussels’ maneuvering.

  43. kirill says:

    @Patient Observer and Mark

    Nuclear submarines have a variant of the turboelectric drive. Steam produced by the reactor is used to drive turbines that generate electricity and feed electric motors driving the screw shaft.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Interesting article, thanks. Turbo-electric drives do have so many advantages. My understanding is that large generators and motors achieve 97.5% efficiency yielding a 95% efficiency from turbine shaft to propeller shaft so the energy losses are relatively minor. The gain in part-load efficiency and operational flexibility is huge including having full power available in reverse. There was a story about a US naval vessel using turbo-electric drive in WW II traveling in reverse for thousands of miles to a repair facility due to severe damage to its bow from a torpedo hit.

      • Patient Observer says:

        I’m very proud of the run-on sentence above:)

        • marknesop says:

          Hey – as long as you can keep stringing it together and it’s all relevant and it all makes sense, keep on keepin’ on, say I. I am not so much fond of run-on sentences as I find them unavoidable, and sometimes have to force myself to go back and break them up. Sarah Palin was a big fan of run-on sentences as well, although hers uniformly failed the last test; they have to make sense.

  44. et Al says:

    Neuters: Oil reshuffle in Poland: Urals out, Iran in

    …Urals lost its position on the Polish market in the past year due to the increased activity of Middle Eastern producers, which boosted supplies to the Baltic Sea area, forcing Russian companies to cut prices.The considerable reduction of pipeline oil prices in Poland since the start of 2016, combined with Gdansk imports, squeezed out Mercuria’s supplies. Polish refiner Lotos bought 2 million barrels of oil from National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the cargo will arrive in Gdansk in mid-August. …

    …However, in recent years Russian producers began to sign direct contracts with refineries, and Mercuria’s share in the Polish market began to fall.

    Rosneft and Tatneft were the major suppliers of Urals pipeline supplies to Poland this year. The companies supplied crude oil under direct contracts with PKN Orlen and Grupa Lotos….

    …In Poland, for now, the reverse is happening Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, started supplies of crude oil to Poland at the end of September 2015. The volume and range of imported crude grades have only increased since then.

    In July, ten tankers were unloaded in Gdansk, including six with oil brands other than Urals, data from the ship tracking system in Reuters terminal showed. “Since the beginning of summer, there is almost no Urals in Gdansk. PKN Orlen buys Kirkuk and Arab brands, Lotos started working with Iran, not to mention some unusual purchases like African crude or Azeri light,” said a major Russian oil trader, “Urals is going through the pipeline, it has its own economy there, but supplies by sea are almost pointless.”

    In recent years, Poland has been actively working to increase energy security and reduce its dependence on Russian oil imports….

    Maybe I’ve missed something here, or more likely it is omitted from the article, but we are left with the impression that pipeline oil from Russia is not competitive with I-ranian, Saudi and other oil brought in by tankers, yet throughout the article they give volumes, but no pricing information.

    We do know that the lo-land-of-Po-land signed up to an eye-watering LNG contract with Qatar which (I think) has since been revised to wean themselves of Russian gas, but how does tanked oil in this case make for cheaper than pipeline Russian oil? My only guess is that Saudi Arabia oil is usually of the ‘light-sweet’ type with ultra low sulfur content and thus require little or no refining whereas the Urals oil (as pointed out in the article) goes to Polish refiners first. The thing is, by buying Saudi and other light-sweet oil, isn’t the Po-lish government taking business away from Polish refineries or is is there enough to go all around?

    I’m still suspicious that the Polish government is still cutting off its nose despite its face just as they have already done with the Qatar LNG deal and the lack of pricing data in the article makes me double suspicious. As the Russian trader said, ‘Pipeline oil has its own economics.‘…

    • marknesop says:

      I suspect you are right. And more tankers eventually means a major oil spill. Good luck, Poland.

      “The most serious structural problem was experienced by the high-seas fishing fleet. The Russian authorities cut the catch quotas allocated to Polish fishermen for Alaskan pollock from 111 000 t in 1996 to zero in 2002. That fact, together with the fall in fishing-grounds’ productivity, has resulted in serious economic problems for Polish high-seas fishery undertakings. The sector had weaknesses including the facts that it was highly specialised in high-seas fishing and that it was dependent on political decisions on fishing opportunities. When Russia decided to cease allocating quotas to foreign vessels in the Northwest Pacific, the high-seas fleet lost its access to the fisheries resources there and consequently faced serious problems. Fisheries production in Poland has fallen considerably since then. There has also been a sharp fall in employment in the Polish fishing fleet. Consequently, the Polish fisheries sector is essentially dependent on the Baltic fishery, especially the state of the biomass of four species: cod, sprat, herring and salmon. Biological productivity in Polish maritime areas of the southern Baltic is very high, making these waters a breeding and feeding ground for several valuable species. Catches in those waters will have to be balanced and proportionate to the variation in fishery resources in these fragile ecosystems. In contrast to the fishing fleets of other EU Member States, which take industrial catches in bulk, the catches made by the Polish fleet are destined for direct human consumption. “

      The Baltic Sea is very sensitive to disturbances, and its natural environment is at risk from increasing levels of shipping and oil transportation. An extensive oil spill could cause serious consequences to the natural environment of the Baltic and also to the natural resources and fisheries of the surrounding states.”

  45. et Al says:

    Land Destroyer Blog (New Atlas): Battle for Aleppo: How Not to Break an Encirclement

    Predictably, the tenuous corridor militant forces have created in southwest Aleppo has become a killing field, battered by artillery, missiles, bombs and other direct and indirect weaponry. The militants who created it appear to have operationally lost momentum, with Syrian forces incrementally taking back temporarily lost territory.

    The use of this corridor to “relieve” militant forces trapped inside Aleppo is questionable at best.

    The concentration of forces required to accomplish even this much has exposed a large number of militants to liquidation on the battlefield and furthermore, has exposed much of the logistical network throughout Idlib province to Syrian and Russian airstrikes due to the increase in activity and the concentrated nature of the offensive.

    The entire concept of the operation, breaking the encirclement by Syrian ground forces with Syrian and Russian airpower overhead, appears flawed. It is especially so, considering the current offensive involves only one axis of advance at one particular spot on the map.

    Operationally Doomed, But Never Meant to Succeed

    I’m not convinced. Committing significant forces that are going to get totally pasted to give the United States and excuse to intervene vis Rape-2-Protect (R2P)? This ain’t Bosnia where even then Washington took its own sweet time. I’m glad to read that the Jihadis are having their eggs scrambled in this operation though. I had speculated that the SAA/RuAF had already prepared kill boxes for when they tactically pull back and it looks like that has been the case.

    On a similar note, I saw an Al-Beeb s’Allah interview with a Syria ‘expert’ about the liberation of Manbitch (Manbij). The report preceding the interview made no mention that the ‘US led SDF’ is basically 99% made up of kurdish fighters. Quit the odd omission until you remember that unofficial media self-censorship means that they must not be mentions as it may upset Ankara.

    In the interview, the expert did mention the Kurds of the SDF only once but also did not comment on their overwhelming numbers. The Beeb interviewer also brought up how Assad and his forces vis the SDF but the expert skated around this (i.e. can the Kurds be enticed in to joining battle against Assad. If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question. Yet again, something very important left unsaid and unchallenged by the world’s greatest media outlet (flush flush, ooh someone used too much loo paper – call the plumber!).

    The other obvious omission was that whilst lauding the SDF for its liberation of Manbitch with (greatly emphasised) “Heavy US airstrikes” – 600 or so – there was no comment on how critical the SAA/Russia/Hezbollah/I-ran forces are a fundamental part of the whole fight against ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/Whatever in that:

    a) they’ve been turning jihadis in to mincemeat for quite some time already;

    b) the most experienced were being killed and thus even though there seem to be sufficient replacements, they’re nowhere near battle hardened enough;

    c) this has diverted the resources/logistics of ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/Whatever against separate target. It’s as if SAA/Russia/Hezbollah/I-ran did not exist and only the West and their proxies were doing any ‘real’ fighting.

    What is the point of this kind of journalism?

    • Patient Observer says:

      Another reason for the suicidal jihadist effort to lift the blockade includes to create a stronger position for negotiations toward creating a “safe-haven” or even a (now ridiculous) no-fly zone. In any event, the US is prepared to fight in Syria to the last drop of jihadist blood.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t see any opportunity for the USA to implement an R2P intervention until at least after Aleppo has fallen. It would be hard to justify an intervention to prevent ISIS from being annihilated, since the USA is supposed to be fighting them. They’d love for Aleppo to become the SDF capital, so that the fighting over turf could go on and on forever and Assad would eventually step down because the country would be bankrupted by endless war as the west keeps bringing in foreign fighters from all points of the compass. The SAA are not supermen. But Aleppo is essentially wrecked already and getting more so every day.

      However, once ISIS is decisively defeated, the west has no more business in Syria – they’ve said their only purpose there is defeating ISIS, which is a global threat. They can hardly argue that the victory of the SDF over the Syrian government is a matter of global importance, and they are not in Syria by invitation as Russia is. Moreover, Russia is invited on a permanent basis.

  46. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, Mark Galeotti is definitely the flavour of the month in Russia analysis. Always insightful, so they say. Here’s a good example, from 2012.

      “Like it or not, Putin proved himself to be a state-builder. However, that energy and creativity seem gone now. The dearth of new and big ideas this year, the clumsy handling of challenges and opportunities alike, the renewed dependence on often-spiteful acts of repression and the apparent loss of nerve which I feel were behind both the ‘castling’ and the decision not to seek some rebranding of the regime in December all attest to this. When regimes stop evolving, they start dying…It will take time for Russians to regain faith in politics, let alone a language, structures, ideologies. That will probably emerge, in part, from what will look like pointless and self-destructive rifts within the protest movement. But it will come.

      So will 2013 prove to be a momentous year? Probably not; I don’t expect any dramatic collapse of the regime or, for that matter, a revitalization of Putin and his regime. Its symbol is, after all, the double-headed eagle rather than the Phoenix or Firebird. But will it be part of a momentous transition, as Russia moves inexorably, even if haltingly, towards greater democracy? That, I certainly believe.”

      You just need to mention the ‘deep state’ every couple of paragraphs. Here’s another good one. Mind you, nobody is a mind-reader, and forecasting the future is almost always a mug’s game.

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