The Politics Of Desperation

Uncle Volodya says, “When the waterholes were dry, people sought to drink at the mirage.”

Those who are regular readers here know what I think of Shaun Walker, the British Austin Powers lookalike and blabbermouth-at-large who scribes Russophobic nonsense for The Guardian, The Independent and whoever else will pay him. Naturally, since he sometimes actually lives in Moscow and writes about Russia a lot – all of it reliably sarcastic and mocking of the backward and bewildered Russian peasantry – and knows how to say “Sheremetyevo”, he is regularly touted as a ‘Russia expert’ by the western media who feature his caustic denunciations of the Evil Empire and its wicked Emperor, Vladimir Putin.

Some will remember Walker’s famous dispatch from the sharp end of the battlefield in Ukraine, in which he and his sidekick, Roland Oliphant, personally witnessed a Russian military convoy crossing into Ukraine, presumably bound for mischief in the Donbas…and never got a picture. You just have to take their word for it. As I also mentioned before, Walker has his cellphone handy to snap a piccie if Aeroflot puts too much dill on his inflight meal. It’s pretty hard to imagine he and his pal were on a daring mission to prove Russian military complicity in the resistance of Eastern Ukraine, and didn’t bring along a single piece of equipment capable of taking a photograph.

All that notwithstanding, this is not really about Shaun Walker. He merely provided the catalyst for this post. I was reading an article awhile ago which quoted him, although of course I cannot find it now. This was around the time Russia kicked out some 600 or so employees of the United States Embassy to the Russian Federation in Moscow. Although it was too big a deal to ignore it altogether, the USA downplayed it by insisting almost none of them would be Americans, that the people let go would be almost entirely Russian ‘local hires’, and that the Embassy was rather looking forward to the folksy experience of teamwork and camaraderie which would see the Ambassador driving the mail truck and various diplomats sweeping the floors and taking out the trash. As if.

Anyway, for some time now Shaun Walker has been possessed of the belief that he has noticed something overlooked by the rest of the snoopy world; that back when Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the USA – ostensibly for Russian meddling in the American election and making Hillary lose – that would have been the time for Putin to drop the political-expulsion hammer of retaliation. But he didn’t. Basically, there was no overt reaction whatever. Despite the fact that at the same time, the US government seized two Russian ‘compounds’; property owned by Russia in the United States and used for diplomatic purposes.

Although Russia protested at the time – the properties were bought by the Soviet government, during the Cold War, at market prices and with US government approval and are therefore the legal property of the Soviet Union’s inheritors – that the behavior was a de facto and de jure violation of international law, Russia did not react in kind.

A-HA!! says Walker. The reason for this apparent passivity is that Moscow was ‘desperate’ to see the return of these compounds – particularly the Maryland one, which is on Chesapeake Bay and which the Kremlin uses to covertly communicate with its submarines at sea. Please, don’t laugh; I’m serious. Oh, Walker himself has never publicly aired the submarine theory, to the best of my knowledge, although he has helped via uncritical repetition to push the theory that Russia uses its diplomatic properties in the USA for ‘spying’.

The cavalier confiscation of property without offering any proof at all that it is/was being used for nefarious purposes is typical of modern Washington administrations, for whom the law is useful only when it serves their purposes. But that’s not really what got my attention. No, I was more interested in the over-use of the ‘desperate’ meme to characterize Russia; everywhere you look, Russia or Putin – or both – is ‘desperate’ about this or that. To hear the west tell it, through its stable of journalists, Russia has its back to the wall, as the forces of righteousness and retribution remorselessly advance. Is that the way it is, do you think?

I’ll tell you up front – I don’t. What I think is that the ‘desperate’ label belongs to Washington, as Russia tears its playhouse down, room by room, around the world.

In Syria. Remember Aleppo, which was lovingly shaped by western journalists as the Alamo of Syria, the last-ditch stand of all that was decent against the malevolent double-whammy of the merciless butcher Assad and hordes of Russian bombers indiscriminately blasting the shit out of everything? You don’t hear much about Aleppo now, although you certainly would if it remained a shooting-gallery for the Syrian Arab Army. But in fact, since hostilities ceased with the SAA’s taking of the city, more than 600,000 Syrians have moved back to their homes in Aleppo, according to the International Organization for Migration and as reported by fearless independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone.

Washington did everything it could, short of a preemptive strike, to stop the combined forces of Russia and the democratically-elected Syrian government from re-taking Aleppo, from frantic babbling for a cease-fire at every SAA advance to the absurd childish exhortations of wholly-owned State Department propaganda outlet Bana Albed to start World War Three rather than let Assad and Russia triumph. I’m not making that up; she (or her typist) actually tweeted, “Dear world, it’s better to start 3rd world war instead of letting Russia and assad commit (hashtag) HolocaustAleppo”. Clearly, a girl after Phil Breedlove’s own heart, and if you don’t mind my saying so, quite an adult encapsulation from somebody who later could only parrot “Save the children of Syria” no matter what her interviewers asked her, and who can plainly not speak English.

In Ukraine. When Washington directly intervened in Ukraine’s Maidan protests – which up to that time had been a somewhat desultory performance by a small crowd mostly comprised of students, but which quickly morphed under State Department direction into a muscular PR vehicle with paid-for crowds – it was all going to go like clockwork. The regime-change operation had been refined and bored and stroked through several successful operations, and it was child’s play to knock over Yanukovych even though he had capitulated to all the protesters’ demands except that he step down immediately, granting opposition figures significant government representation. But Washington’s naive idealizations of how it would make a prosperous western-style market democracy of Ukraine ignored a few important things – such as that cutting it off from Russia also cut it off from more than half of its export market, and that its oligarchy remained entirely in place except for Yanukovych. The aforementioned non-Yanukovych oligarchy merrily continued stealing most of the GDP, since it is not a major concern of oligarchs who is in charge. Even if it were, the leader soon was one of their own.

These days, all you hear is how corruption is threatening the rebirth of Ukraine as a western acquisition, and quite a few of the western cheerleaders have grown exasperated with Ukraine’s lack of progress toward ‘western standards’. Even Nolan Peterson, former US Special Forces pilot and full-time Russophobe, who formerly spoke of Ukraine in the rhapsodic tones normally reserved for Mom’s cooking and American Values, is annoyed. Floundering ever closer to failed-statehood, Ukraine has become the tar-baby the west doesn’t want any more, but cannot let go of. Snatching Ukraine away from the Eurasian Union really hurt Russia, didn’t it? In fact, there is every possibility it will one day – under a different government – be associated once more with Russia, although it will be a sadder and wiser country by that time.  Who has it cost more to try the Ukrainian-remodeling project – Russia, or the west?

At home, in America. The silly effort to sell the story that Russian state hackers stole the election for Trump is falling apart, as former intelligence professionals point out that the data transfer rate of the stolen data which was taken from the DNC server was far too high to have occurred over the internet. Instead, they argue, it was much more likely to have been tapped off directly with a thumb drive (USB stick) or some such similar device. Washington’s counter to this has so far been that the FSB could have access to much faster networks. I suppose they might, but why would they go to so much trouble to steal data on the Democrats, and then leave their own fingerprints all over it?

That doesn’t mean the Democrats – and those for whom Russian hacking is a convenient story to be used for fomenting fear of Russia and an inability to think straight – are going to just give up, of course. No, indeed. They doubled down a long time ago and are now quadrupling down, or something.  The latest frantic – yes, ‘desperate’ – dodge is the very convenient emergence of a Ukrainian ‘malware expert’ whose hacking tools were stolen by the Russian state to carry out their underhanded undertakings. He has been arrested, and is going to turn ‘state’s evidence’ to clear his name. Absurd. ‘Guccifer’ the recently-famous hacker who was supposedly responsible for penetrating Clinton’s server, identified as a Romanian; Romania is an EU country. That wasn’t the ‘Russia’ flag Hillary and the Democrats were looking for, and hokey behavioral studies which suggested Guccifer was telling the truth were tossed out – he was obviously a liar. But now ‘Profexer’ (no word if that is his Christian name or his patronymic) has appeared and looks ready to blow the whistle on Russian hacking. Giving up is for weaklings.

We were discussing, in the later comments to the previous post, who it was who said that no Empire has lasted longer than 300 years, considering the USA celebrated its bicentennial in 1976. Although I was unable to find any reference which spelled that out – the introduction to “Legacy of Ashes”, a book on the CIA, contains a quote which says no Republic has lasted more than 300 years – my search did turn up this quote, attributed to Alexander Tytler, in 1787.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.

If it were possible to substitute “confusion and ignorance due to being bullshitted six ways from Sunday on the true state of affairs by journalists who owe their loyalty to the political machine” for “complacency”, I’d say that’s just about the stage we’re seeing right now.

Not much of a step from there to bondage, is it? Better get to the head of the line early; otherwise the Nerf shackles will be all gone.

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2,771 Responses to The Politics Of Desperation

  1. Shelling of Donetsk continues unabated: https://twitter.com/MauriceSchleepe/status/899614706100576256

    The poor fate of this city is to remain an object of continuous shelling and killing. Not years, but decades to come.

  2. Drutten says:

    The Russian company “STS Hydro” was spotted today at the bridge construction site:

    This caused quite a stir among the bridge-watchers. Why is that, you ask? Well, STS Hydro works with heavy-duty strand jacks, and sure enough – such contraptions indeed showed up by the main pillars soon thereafter:

    Only days now, before the main spans go up.

  3. moscowexile says:

    The beginning of the end?

    Литва помогает Америке покорить Европу
    Литва приняла первую партию сжиженного природного газа из США

    Lithuania helps America conquer Europe
    Lithuania has accepted the first batch of liquefied natural gas from the USA

    В порт Клайпеды пришла первая партия сжиженного природного газа (СПГ) из США. Литовские власти надеются, что страна станет региональным распределительным центром (хабом) для американского газа. Они также считают, что поставки заокеанского сырья помогут снизить цены на газ в соседних странах и самой Литве. Аналитики не считают газовую политику Литвы рациональной и эффективной, отмечая, что российский трубопроводный газ сейчас намного дешевле, чем СПГ.

    The first consignment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States has arrived at the port of Klaipeda. The Lithuanian authorities hope that the country will become a regional distribution centre (hub) for US gas. They also believe that supplies of overseas raw materials will help reduce gas prices in neighbouring countries and Lithuania itself. Analysts do not consider Lithuania’s gas policy rational and effective, noting that Russian pipeline gas is now much cheaper than LNG.

    The end?

    But for whom?

    • marknesop says:

      There is nothing you can do to stop an ideologue who turns up his/her nose at cheaper local supply of a particular commodity because he/she dislikes the supplier, and elects to purchase more expensive goods from an alternate source. The fact is, Lithuania could become a hub for US LNG, and bring down gas prices for its customers so that they were eager to purchase it. Lithuania could accomplish this through the simple expedient of buying American gas at a high price – compared with Russian pipeline gas – and selling it at a lower price than Russia was willing to do. Of course, somebody would have to absorb the cost of the price difference, and that would be Lithuania. If Lithuania is willing to do that, as I said, she cannot be stopped from doing it by anything short of the poverty which will eventually result.

      Knock yourself out, Grybauskaitė. If you were ordered to describe her policies in one word, ‘irrational’ would probably do quite well. Americans will be comforted to know there is more than one irrational president in the world.

  4. moscowexile says:

    Yes, Russia is now clearly bust:

    Россия погасила последний внешний долг СССР

    Russia has repaid the last external debt of the USSR
    18:3021.08.2017
    MOSCOW, 21 Aug — RIA Novosti.
    Russia 8 Aug. extinguished the last external debt of the USSR, paying $125.2 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Ministry of Finance.

    “Bosnia and Herzegovina was the last foreign government creditor of the former USSR or the Russian Federation, whose obligations remained unresolved”, the message stated.

    The debt to Bosnia and Herzegovina arose from the fact that Russia acknowledged its responsibility for the obligations of the former USSR to the former Yugoslavia. Other former Yugoslav republics (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Macedonia) had been fully paid off by Russia in the years 2011-2016.

    In March of this year, Russia signed with Bosnia and Herzegovina an agreement on the payment of the debt; in July, the agreement entered into force, and on August 8, Moscow settled the debt with a lump-sum cash payment.

    Now there remains for Russia only one outstanding external debt — to South Korea. This debt amounts to $594,3 million dollars and must be repaid before the end of 2025, said the Ministry.

    Wicked, evil corrupt Russia pays off its debts, whereas sweet, innocent Ukraine, which yearns for freedom and democracy, transparency and an end to Soviet-style corruption, for a society wherein “Western Values” are accepted as the norm, gives a big “Fuck You!” whenever it comes to meeting its obligations and most especially those that it owes Russia..

    • moscowexile says:

      Headline wrong: i\the last debt is still outstanding, the one to S. Korea.

      The now settled debt to Bosnia-Herzegovina was Russia’s next-last.

      • Cortes says:

        Headline isn’t wrong, ME, according to Alexander Mercouris:

        http://theduran.com/russia-pays-last-soviet-debt/

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Right! The Bosnia-Herzegovina debt was a USSR one: the S-Korea debt is a Russian Federation one.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            It was this statement that puzzled me as regards this matter of whose debts were paid and whose remain outstanding:

            “Босния и Герцеговина стала последним иностранным государством — кредитором бывшего СССР или Российской Федерации, обязательства перед которым оставались неурегулированными“, — подчеркивается в сообщении.

            “Bosnia and Herzegovina was the last foreign government creditor of the former USSR or the Russian Federation, whose obligations remained unresolved”, the message stated.

            My stress.

            The last creditor of the USSR but not of the RF, though the RF has accepted — and now finally paid off — all debts of the USSR.

            And don’t forget, according to Obama, the Russian economy is in tatters.

            • cartman says:

              Parts of Yugoslavia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so they probably shared the burden of paying back foreign creditors. So the RF should only have had to pay less than half to Bosnia and Herzegovina than it did.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                In 1908, kaiserlich und königlichAustria annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina without the aid of so-called “polite people”: they just Marched in.

                In 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia for its alleged support of independence organizations that perpetrated acts of terror against Austrian rule, one such terror act having resulted in the deaths of the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire and that of his wife.

                The rest is history.

  5. Warren says:

    Published on 21 Aug 2017
    A Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, collided with a commercial vessel east of Singapore early Monday, 10 sailors are missing and five were injured, the Navy said.

    This is the second incident in which a USS Arleigh Burke destroyer collides with a tanker or container. In June the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine flagged container ship off the coast of Japan near Tokyo. How can such a sophisticated and state of the art vessel (Arleigh Burke class destroyer) collide with tankers and container ships? One is small and fast, the other is big and slow. Standards in the US navy have fallen it would seem. Perhaps the US navy is a giant with feet of clay?

      • marknesop says:

        And there’s that navy-wide review I mentioned a day or two ago. Although it was an easy guess, as it is common American military practice.

        Once again I am surprised, because I made the error of not considering the area where these crashes took place. This was an easy public-relations victory for the Chinese, because American military operations are clearly increasing the risk to merchant traffic in the vicinity. And once again, as was the case in Syria, you have to ask yourself, what business is it of Uncle Sam? Does he have to intervene for a compelling reason – can anyone show that Chinese claims in the South China Sea are oppressing someone or taking away their rights? Or is it just that nothing can be done around the world without first clearing it with Washington, to see if there might be American objections from half a world away to whatever one might be doing in one’s own region?

        America likes to say that it conducts these operations to reassure its allies in the region that it will not abandon them, and will stand up for their rights. But who is that, in this instance? The Philippines? I would have to say the national tone there from the democratically-elected leadership was decidedly negative toward the United States and decidedly positive toward China and reaching a mutually-beneficial agreement with the latter; so much so that the USA must stir up a rebellion there, invoke the ever-lurking spectre of ISIS as it now routinely does to justify its military presence.

        It seems more the case that America sees its regional influence diminishing to a pinpoint, just before the screen goes black, and is – dare I say it? desperately – trying to reassert it while everyone still fears Uncle Sam’s big stick.

        • Ryan Ward says:

          “And once again, as was the case in Syria, you have to ask yourself, what business is it of Uncle Sam? Does he have to intervene for a compelling reason – can anyone show that Chinese claims in the South China Sea are oppressing someone or taking away their rights?”

          You can look at this from either a strategic or ethical point of view. Either way, America has compelling reasons to get involved. From a strategic point of view, this area is the world’s single greatest nexus of maritime trade. For a Pacific nation, as America is increasingly becoming, the idea of this choke point being under the control of a single potentially hostile foreign power is intolerable. Meanwhile, Chinese strategic documents and discussions make it clear that such control is their aim. The nine-dash line (ox-tongue) that China lays claim to encompassing pretty much the entire South China Sea. Given that China also refuses to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, there are even greater reasons to be concerned about China in particular gaining control of the area.

          From the ethical point of view, the answer to the question of who China is oppressing in the South China Sea is “everyone”. Despite Duterte’s antics (which even he hasn’t been consistent on, as lately he’s started to show more impatience with Chinese actions), the Philippines in general has been moving in a more pro-American direction over the last two decades. After refusing to renew the Subic Bay basing agreement, the Philippines later reversed course and invited the Americans back, specifically because of China. Other countries in the region that have been drawing closer to America as a counterweight to China include Vietnam and Singapore, while Malaysia and Indonesia are trying to play both sides.

          Given America’s increasing influence in Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore, it’s not really accurate to suggest that America’s regional influence is “diminishing to a pinpoint”. Things looked that way in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as America was distracted by the Middle East and China had not yet begun to draw hostility on a large scale. Now the situation is completely different. In addition to the points mentioned above, Australia, Japan and India are getting more involved in the area in an attempt to contain China, and largely in alliance with America (completely so in the first two cases).

          The fact is that, until China significantly changes course, there’s no way for Southeast Asian states to reach a “mutually-beneficial agreement” with China. If China had any interest in such an agreement, it would join multilateral discussions that ASEAN has repeatedly attempted to set up to reach a solution to the South China Sea issue that could satisfy all claimants. But China torpedoes every initiative attempted in this direction. Instead, it uses force to muscle foreign ships out of contested areas, and harass and illegally detain foreign fishing vessels, while only engaging in, at most, bilateral negotiations with single foreign powers, where it can use its size to bully them into making disadvantageous agreements, or just scuttle the negotiations, then continue to rely on force.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            China also refuses to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,…

            Washington refuses to ratify the same convention.as well.

            • Ryan Ward says:

              Fair enough, but in the context of the South China Sea specifically, America has no territorial claims to make there, and it has consistently upheld the principle of free navigation, which China hasn’t. Not saying that America’s obstructionism is ok, but it doesn’t really affect matters in that region, whereas China’s does.

              • Patient Observer says:

                As noted numerous times on this blog, the US does what it pleases regardless of law or the adverse effects on other nations. But, when another nation does something not approved by the US, a torrent of of claims is made about violation of international law the the disregards of humanity, freedom and apple pie.

                The worst that the Chinese can be accused is protecting their national interest and in a manner that did not overtly harm other nations. Please contrast with invasions, blockades and assassinations used so freely the the US.

                I don’t expect that the US will change its ways but its knee-jerk supporters should be aware of how foolish they look and expect to receive little respect from those who have their eyes open.

                This comment is not aimed at anyone in particular but RW’s cherry-picked defense of US actions did provide the impetus. I will readily agree that the US is not always wrong in international matters, but if it is right, it is usually not for the right reasons in my opinion.

                • marknesop says:

                  I plan to address Ryan’s comment in detail, it was very interesting, but it deserves time spent on it that I just don’t have right now. Just by way of a short rebuttal, though, I would point out that it is about 4,500 kilometers from Beijing to Singapore, and about 15,500 kilometers from Washington DC to Singapore. It is a great deal easier for China to argue its regional interest in the South China Sea – after all, nobody calls it the South Washington Sea – than it is for America.

      • Cortes says:

        Apologies. I thought I’d just copied Comment #100 by “roadrunner” containing biographical information about two officers aboard the John S. McCain.

        • marknesop says:

          I thought you were referring to the comment which suggested the merchant vessels might have deliberately hit the American ships, to provoke conflict over their presence.

          • Patient Observer says:

            Would that be possible? Would the reaction time of a military ship be too slow to take effective evasive action? If the closest “normal” approach of the ships were, say, 1 mile and the closing speed was, say, 30 miles per hour, that give 2 minutes to notice, to make a decision that something is seriously amiss and to take evasive action.

            Not knowing anything about ship responsiveness (other than Titanic hitting the iceberg as portrayed in the movie), it seems something could be done to avoid the collision. I guess to have a chance, the military ship could not be contrained to a narrow channel. I emphasize a “military” ship (frigate, destroyer, etc.) on the assumption that it would have much more maneuverability and responsiveness than a merchantman.

            • marknesop says:

              Did they not mention that these collisions took place in conditions of poor visibility, like night or early morning? I forget now if that was discussed. If not, they wasted a lot of time talking about navigation lights, although a report I saw did mention that American warships have an exemption from the law which requires ships to turn on AIS (Automatic Identification System) equipment if they have it, and American captains often do not like to give away their position and unit identity. So they can be stealthy, see? If you are heavy into concealing who and where you are, I guess you have to expect the odd collision if you insist on buggering about in a reduced-maneuverability scenario which is coupled with very heavy marine traffic.

              Anti-collision radar is helpful, if you’re using it and the filters take out most of the clutter, principally for the ship’s head marker. The ship appears on the screen as a digitally-injected coloured circle (if you are one of those no-expense-spared navies that can afford coloured displays) whose colour tells you if it is an unknown, a friendly, a suspect or a known hostile. If you don’t have a colour display, that information comes from differing symbology. A speed leader is a line that leads out from the contact, and tells you both how fast it is traveling relative to your own speed, and the direction it is steering, known as ship’s head. A contact with a long speed leader is moving faster than one with a short leader. So you can tell at a glance if the ship’s course has altered toward you, and if speed is going to be a factor.

              If you’re not watching your anti-collision radar, you have to rely on navigation lights. A ship shows, at a minimum, a port and starboard running light, on their respective sides – a red light on the port (left) side and a green light on the starboard (right) side – and a masthead steaming light. You can tell that one by its height, and it is usually white. Some also show a stern overtaking light on the rear of the ship, that too can be a white light but it is lower down. So if you see a green light, with a higher white light a bit aft of it (behind it), you are seeing the ship’s starboard side, probably on a parallel course if you see it off your own port side, or a parallel but opposite course if you see it from your starboard side, or something close to a parallel course. The more the ship is altered away from you, the less you can see her coloured running lights, and you cannot see them at all from dead aft, behind her. If you can see both her port and starboard running lights, jump.

              But some merchant vessels, as I mentioned, are a little casual about showing nav lights. Some have reasons for not wanting to be seen, and some are just indifferent about maintenance. As I think you can appreciate, it is pretty close to the height of madness to operate in a congested and restrictive waterway without your identification systems on while you are playing I’m-the-world’s-policeman.

          • Patient Observer says:

            Here are several videos of ship collisions. The first is near Singapore.

            The second is in the Suez canal:

            The various forces involved (wind, current, momentum, wakes, etc.) really have no analog with, say, driving a car. I can see how inattentiveness combined with decision-making paralysis could lead to an accident that otherwise seems easily avoidable.

      • marknesop says:

        When I made that suggestion I was half-joking; it would indeed be a clever false-flag, but on reflection it would only work if the merchant ship rolled the destroyer under her bow and there were no survivors. Somebody would inevitably survive who was on the bridge or in the operations room (except the Americans call it by a different name, ‘CIC’, if I recall correctly, for ‘Combat Information Center’) who would say “He said on the common channel that he would do a straight green-to-green (his starboard side to your starboard side) passage, and at the last second he turned right into us!!” Both captains survived, and were – or will be – relieved of their commands, and they would never humbly accept that in the case of a deliberate act of aggression for which they were unprepared. The damage is also too slight (although it was fatal for some in both cases) to have been a deliberate attempt to sink the other ship, although it demonstrably is more than enough for a major incident.

        At its narrowest point – Phillips Channel, south of Singapore – the Strait of Malacca is only 1.5 nautical miles from one side to the other. 2,500 yards, for two ships to pass, one of which is 100 feet wide and the other 60 feet wide. Most of it is not that narrow, but it must be hair-raising given the amount of traffic that passes through it all day and all night long. Those who run it regularly and know it, even in the dark, like the back of their own hand are sometimes a little casual about navigation lights. Radars perform poorly in areas where the land is close on both sides because of bounce and echo, and even those designed for anti-collision are susceptible to land shadow and clutter. It’s likely just too many ships in too little water.

        Something that has always seemed to me like a tremendous vulnerability for terrorism, though, is US airports that were either built right in the middle of a city, or the city grew up around them so that you have a parade of airliners passing all day long right over the rooftops of residential buildings. San Diego International is a classic example, only 3 miles from downtown San Diego. In a landing pattern an airliner cannot easily maneuver, and its glide path to the runway is as predictable as sunset. And it’s flying right over your head, as you are crouched on the rooftop with your shoulder-launched Stinger or whatever. You could almost throw a potato and hit it. If I were in charge of airport security, that’d make me nervous.

  6. Cortes says:

    Further detail of the US visas announcement:

    https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201708211056660260-us-russia-visa/

    The only thing I’d add is that it seems to me that normal consular activity is being sacrificed to maintain the highest possible number of what Aubrey and Maturin would have called “políticos”.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      This kind of stuff will affect the strata of the “pro-western urbanites” in Russia. Aka the mid-top tier office plankton, kreakls, hipsteriat and other more or less moneyed people. Uhm, the US, which claims to be their friend craps on them with the intended purpose of… what? Revolution? By them?!

      The US which likes to brag about its “soft power”, and how “if only dem Ruskis could see the glory of our Exceptional Nation and compare to their Mordor!..” shoots itself in the foot. How… fantabulous!

      Clearly, this is another proof that the Donald is Putin’s agent!

  7. moscowexile says:

    I obviously posted the picture of Alnic MC before reports of its collision with USS John S. McCain had reach the Canadian west coast and before warren had posted news of this collision below on the next page.

  8. moscowexile says:

    США отправили на Украину первую партию угля

    The US has sent to the Ukraine its first consignment of coal
    August 22, 11:28 UTC+3
    The delivery price was $113 per ton

    The beginning of the end for “Novorossiya”?

    I am certain that is an interpretation that the resident troll will be eager to spout out.

    Не секрет, что российский энергетический уголь Киев раньше закупал по 60-70 долларов за тонну. Донбасский обходился украинцам еще дешевле. Но затем официальный Киев под предлогом “войны с Москвой” отказался от дешевых энергоресурсов.

    It is no secret that Kiev used to buy Russian power station coal at $60-70 per tonne. The Donbass made even cheaper deals with the Ukrainians . But then official Kiev, on the pretext of a “war with Moscow,” refused cheap energy resources.

    see: На Украину отправлена первая партия дорогого угля из США

    • Drutten says:

      Who’s paying for it? The IMF? So the money goes back to the U.S?

      I’ve seen multiple instances of this occuring in Ukraine, i.e. the purchasing of unnecessarily expensive goods, with money they technically don’t have. It’s not always a “Russian substitution” thing either.

      Somebody’s laughing all the way to the bank, at least. Good on them.

      • moscowexile says:

        Somebody’s laughing all the way to the bank …

        Swinish squeals of laughter coming from him above, that’s for sure.

        Furthermore, the pig is laughing all the way to the bank that he owns.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s their privilege. And they will be able to exercise it, in theory, for so long as the western taxpayer is prepared to see the IMF allot Ukraine money to buy energy at prices far higher than it could obtain it elsewhere. I daresay in the meantime someone else will buy Donbas coal. It’s not like this is going to break them. Although the USA will pocket the taxpayers’ money – again – which is one of its preferred ways of doing business.

  9. moscowexile says:

    Сварились в котле
    Фотохроника одного из самых крупных поражений украинской армии в Донбассе

    Cooked in a cauldron
    Photo-chronicle of one of the largest defeats of the Ukrainian army in the Donbass

    Last week, the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s Office published a report on the reasons for the defeat of the Ukrainian army near Ilovaisk in August-September 2014. The supervisory authority pointed to numerous cases of desertion of servicemen, and also recognized certain “mistakes made by the leadership of the “ATO” (Anti-Terrorist Operation, as Kiev labels the fighting in the Donbass) when planning and conducting military operations. Veterans of the ATO predictably disagreed with the conclusions of the prosecutor’s office and said that the cause of the defeat of parts of the Ukraine Armed Forces was the betrayal of the generals.

    Three years after the Ilovaysky cauldron, in which hundreds of people died, controversy continues in the Ukraine about the reasons for the defeat. How did it turn out that an army led by generals was defeated by the militia? “Lenta.ru” is publishing photo chronicles which reflect the dramatic moments of one of the biggest battles of the military conflict in the Donbass.
    22 Aug 2017

    Anyone see any Russian soldiers there?

  10. Pingback: RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2017-161 :: Tuesday, 22 August 2017 – Johnson's Russia List

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    Порошенко попросит ООН ввести миротворцев в Донбасс

    Poroshenko has asked the UN to send peacekeepers to the Donbass

    During the session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Ukraine is to present to the UN an initiative that it enter the Donbass. This was stated by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a visit to the Lugansk region, reports the Ukraine leader’s website.

    He noted that the issue of launching a UN peacekeeping mission and an OSCE armed mission into the zone of armed conflict in the southeast of the Ukraine “is making rather difficult progress”. Poroshenko observed that this was due to the fact that Russia “categorically” does not want to “establish peace in the Donbass” and does not want to “leave the Ukraine alone”.

    “But I’m sure that water wears away a stone”, said Poroshenko. He announced that he will present the idea of the introduction of peacekeepers in the Donbass at the session of the UN General Assembly that is to be held in New York in September.

    UN “boots on the ground” in the Donbass?

    No way, Porky!

    • marknesop says:

      You never know – one source at least believes the USA wants to substitute Ukraine for Syria in its determination to fight proxy wars with Russia until one ignites outright international conflict between the two powers.

      • Cortes says:

        Back door for Syria/NK programmes on regime change still ajar:

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/22/two-north-korean-shipments-to-syria-intercepted-in-six-months-un-told

        Chemical weapons alert!!!

        • kirill says:

          They are running out of locations to stage these false flags. But it sure is incredible what a load of credulous saps constitute most of NATO’s population and even the rest of the world. This transparent chemical weapons “Assad attack” BS does not stand up to even the most superficial scrutiny. For example, if you take any of the alleged events and add them up, then they have contributed exactly zero to the Syrian government’s military operations. But these events sure have been useful of Syria’s enemies. So why would Assad keep doing them? Because he is like Putin who shoots down civilian airliners for sport?

        • marknesop says:

          One more time – chemical weapons are what you have recourse to as a last resort when you are losing and about to be overrun. Or, I suppose, if you want to clean out an area which might prove very costly to you in terms of manpower, and you don’t want to pay too dearly to take it. But neither is the scenario for the government in Syria at present, and it would be abysmally stupid, not to mention completely unnecessary, for them to use chemical weapons. It was the last two times the west tried to pull the same stunt, as well.

  12. marknesop says:

    Coal from the USA will cost more than twice as much – inconsequential, as we have discussed, when western taxpayers are giving Ukraine the money to buy it – and take several weeks to arrive. Don’t wait – hire Ukraine now to plan your country’s foreign policy, and avoid the rush to its door.

    • kirill says:

      America can wish, but that does not mean it will get. Ukraine is in the process of collapsing and unlike Syria, the jihadis are not the horde taking over. In fact, it will be the quiet majority that will be pushing the US stooges out. So I doubt Uncle Scumbag is all too keen on undermining its puppet regime in Kiev.

      • marknesop says:

        But that’s something that really pisses me off. Washington gets its meddling fingers into the pie, and in short order everything is wrecked and it takes a decade or so for the country to recover its balance, accompanied by some serious sacrifices by its leadership and its people. And the first envoy to call when things recover their balance is Uncle Sam, and before you know it, trade ties are re-established and the process starts all over again.

        Besides that, Ukraine is of no concern to the USA whatsoever, except as a Trojan horse against Russia. Russia is the target, and if Ukraine is ruined in the process Washington will shed no tears.

  13. Cortes says:

    One for our host:

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/22/fancy-bears-accuse-25-players-of-being-given-tues-during-2010-world-cup

    Alarm at the English FA as the dastardly “Russians” at Fancy Bears produce details about alleged drug taking.

    • Cortes says:

      NB: Dirk Kuyt played in the final of FIFA WC 2010 for the cloggers (yes, cloggers!) of Netherlands vs the mighty and victorious España. Now, lots of rumours over the years about less than ethical behaviour among Spanish football teams over the last couple of decades. So not having a go at others unnecessarily.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks!! I will digest it with great pleasure and interest. I am currently working all afternoon shifts, so I don’t get home until past 11:00 and go straight to bed.

  14. Lyttenburgh says:

    1937
    9
    3
    7

    So-called “theatric director” and owner of the den of filth know as “Gogol Center” Kiril Serebryannikov was finally arrested by the Bloody Regime.

    His den of iniquity had been in the crosshairs of the Bloody Gebnya for a long time accused of corruption and misappropriation of the budget funds (I remind you, that most of theatres in Russia are state owned and financed). The chief accountant of “Gogol Center” arrested earlier decided to make a “deal with the investigators”. So, here you are – today Kiril Serebrennikov was arrested on the sets of the future film about the Soviet Rock-legend and the frontman of the “Kino” Victor Tsoi. The piquant fact about the movie, which Serebrennikov was directing – he planned to make Tsoi gay, and include a homosex scene between Tsoi and his future producer, plus adding a subplot of the jealous gay band member and disapproving parents. IMO, Serebrennikov (bi-sexual by orientation and a faggot by life) deserves arrest just for that, but, hey – that’s totalitarian me.

    The Prosecution accuses Serebrennikov of stealing 68 million rubles ($1.15 mln) allocated for the purchase of costumes.


    This is the most… decent picture from the typical Gogol Center theatrical performance that I could find. For comparison – these are costumes worn by the cats from “Yuri Kuklachev’s cat’s theatre”:

    I think this is marvelous news. A show trial that would put a fear if not of God (thespians are hardly a faithful people) but at least of the State in the kreakleriat is long overdue. In fact, if you dig anyone of them deep enough there will be enough material for making them starting up their own amateur theatrical groups in Kolyma or Magadan. But if you rob the state, badmouth it, pass yourself as a “handshakable” fighter against the regime AND promote perversions – well, you are soliciting Darwin’s Award.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Viktor Tsoi was very talented in my opinion:

      Better than that rap crap. That song (above) was one of the first of “russky rok” that I heard when living in the USSR in 1989. I still like it.

      soi died young: not of AIDS, but died almost instantly whenr the car he was driving hit a bus head-on.

      The crash occured in Latvia when as he was returning home to Leningrad from a fishing trip there. Apparently, Tsoi had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

      He was not drunk when the accident had happened.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Bloody typos!

        Tsoi died young: not of AIDS, but almost instantly when the car he was driving hit a bus head-on.

        The crash occured in Latvia as he was returning home to Leningrad…

    • yalensis says:

      Is the cat theater state-funded as well? That cat looks scared, like he is about to lose his funding.

      I am starting to develop a theory, that the root cause of all this Primal Evil is state-funding of the arts. I know that sounds paradoxical, coming from a socialist, but there you have it.

      Maybe the real paradox is a capitalist government funding kreaklian arts. Kreakl art ALWAYS descends into hard pornography sooner of later. It’s like an Iceberg of Depravity ™

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Millions of the shy and politically active members of intelligencia protest the Bloody Regime!

      Oh, wait… That’s Russia emigrant dem-schiza currently resident in Kiev!

  15. Moscow Exile says:

    07:19, 23 августа 2017
    Тиллерсон обвинил Россию в поставках оружия талибам

    Tillerson has accused Russia of supplying weapons to the Taliban

    U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson has accused Moscow of supplying weapons to the banned in Russia Afghan Taliban. He said this during a briefing for journalists at the state Department.

    “Russia is indeed supplying weapons to the Taliban, and it is violating international norms and the UN Security Council. We certainly object to that. If someone is going to place into this country a weapon, then it should go through the Afghan government”, said the head of American diplomacy.

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!

    • James lake says:

      Seems Hillary did get elected after all!!

      How can anyone have diplomatic relations with a country that is hell bent on destroying it.

    • marknesop says:

      King of the Hypocrites. Washington is busily batting about the idea of openly giving Ukraine the military wherewithal to overrun the Donbas, but supplying the enemies of Russia is perfectly okay. It’s just what exceptional people do. Meanwhile, supplying America’s enemies is a heinous crime. If Russia can even be shown to be doing it. Afghanistan is not a tank and artillery war, it is a small-arms, block-to-block war, and it is easier to buy a railcar of AK-47’s which might have been made anywhere, purchased anywhere, than it is to find someplace in the airport where you can smoke.

  16. karl1haushofer says:

    Another terrorist attack today in Russia committed by a Muslim perpetrator: https://lenta.ru/news/2017/08/23/murdernn/

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Thank you so much for keeping everyone here up to date.

      Any “Muslim” attacks elsewhere in Europe, by the way?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        By the way, you do understand Russian, don’t you?

        From lenta.ru that you linked above:

        На территории Горьковского автомобильного завода неизвестный убил трех человек.

        For those who have no knowledge whatsoever of Russian — use the Google on line translator.

        In further reports, the assailant is said to be from Chechnya and is alleged to have attacked with a knife colleagues at the Gorky automobile plant in Nizhny Novgorod today, August 23.

        It is now, as I write at 08:30 UK time, already 10:30 Nizhny Novgorod time.

        Latest reports say that the incident happened in the 3rd foundry of OJSC “GAZ” and that the man killed three people and wounded two more, who were hospitalized.

        No mention of the man’s religion, if, indeed, he have any, nor of the motive for his attack.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Even money its a work-place violence issue. Happens all the time here in the US.

  17. karl1haushofer says:

    Total amount of capital that private Russian citizens have taken offshore exceeds one trillion dollars (trillion dollars = 1,000 billion dollars): https://lenta.ru/news/2017/08/23/offshore/

    This is three times more than the level of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves.

    Luckily Finland does not have an “elite” like this. Take this kind of money out of Finland and we would have nothing.

    • karl1haushofer says:

      Imagine what would happen to Russian economy is even half of this capital was sensibly reinvested back to Russia.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The above linked lenta.ru article posted by the oh-so-concerned about Russia Finn is based on this source:

        FROM SOVIETS TO OLIGARCHS:
        INEQUALITY AND PROPERTY IN RUSSIA, 1905-2016

        NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
        1050 Massachusetts Avenue
        Cambridge, MA 02138
        August 2017

        In the lenta.ru article the following is pointed out:

        В настоящее время перекос в распределении доходов в России находится на уровне США — 1 процент граждан получают 20-25 процентов всех доходов в стране.

        Currently, the imbalance in income distribution in Russia is at the level of the USA: 1 percent of the population receives 20-25 percent of all income in the country.

        Luckily Finland does not have an “elite” like that in the USA!

    • yalensis says:

      Is Finland a socialist country?

      • karl1haushofer says:

        More so than Russia. Stealing this kind of wealth and taking it offshore would not be possible here. And Finnish elite is a tad more patriotic than Russian.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          How do you know that the wealth invested offshore by some Russian citizens has all been stolen?

          • karl1haushofer says:

            If it was not stolen why would they take it out of the country?

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Hmmmmm — that’s a tough one to answer.

            • Jen says:

              Well, where exactly do these Russians invest their money? Do you know if the countries that receive this money are known tax havens? Is all or most of the money going into family trust funds or going into accounts based in countries where taxation of income or profit is known to be lower than in Russia?

              Also you can’t assume that because these people are sending the money out of Russia, that it was all stolen. For all you know, they could be sending the money out because they are not confident that Russian financial markets are stable enough or that the Central Bank is pursuing policies that would allow them to invest in enterprises or funds in Russia.

            • Jen says:

              Wikipedia article on Russian billionaire Alexey Khotin:
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexey_Khotin

              Khotin owns stock in various companies within and outside Russia either directly or indirectly through other companies. If he has a stake in Kuwait Energy, is that evidence of guilt on his part? Where did the money come from, that he could buy shares in an energy company? Who says that Russian individuals and companies may not invest their after-tax profits in companies outside Russia?

              Look at this billionaire’s Wikipedia entry – aaargh, this David Iakobashvili fellow invests money stolen … I mean, earned in Russia in philanthropic causes in Georgia!
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Iakobashvili

            • marknesop says:

              Oh, I don’t know….maybe it has something to do with taxes.

              https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/corporate-tax-rates/corporations-hide-billions-in-offshore-profits/

              At the recent G20 summit, finance ministers discussed closing loopholes that allow multinational corporations to stash profits in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. In the U.S., Senator Carl Levin has introduced the “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act” to prohibit U.S. corporations from avoiding paying taxes on their offshore income.

              NerdWallet Taxes conducted a study of the Fortune 50 to find that 88% are stashing profits in foreign subsidiaries. But just how much tax revenue is at stake?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        No, and it’s squeaky clean as well:

        10-year prison sentence for ex-drug squad chief Jari Aarnio

        Well almost squeaky clean.

        There have also been corruption cases involving Nokian Tyres, defence company Patria and several asphalt firms, among others. In politics, election financing scandals have rumbled on since 2008, while Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has himself requested the parliamentary ombudsman check if he should have recused himself from decisions on funding for a mining firm because of his family links to one of the firm’s contractors.

        See: Finland drops a place in corruption index

        Corruption in Finland is much more common in the private sector than the public, according to a new report from the Police University College. The report looks at crime figures from 2011-2014 and finds that there was a ten percent increase in the number of corruption complaints on the previous period, 2007-2010.

        See: Police study: Finland’s private sector more corrupt than public

        FINLAND’S HIDDEN CORRUPTION

        “Finnish citizens do not come across corruption in their daily life,” according to a separate EU report released this week.

        Yet the country is home to a string of companies accused of bribery from Slovenia to Kenya. Last year the OECD was so concerned about the country’s failure to implement 12 of the 19 recommendations to improve its foreign bribery framework that it wrote to the Finnish Prime Minister.

        In March 2013, a Finnish court dismissed allegations of bribery against Wärtsilä Finland Oy, which denied the charges. A former senior manager at Wärtsilä was convicted of bribery in Kenya to secure a tender to build a power plant. In a separate case two months later, a district court dismissed disputed allegations made against executives of a global healthcare monitor provider and its subsidiary in Costa Rica.

        Ongoing allegations of bribery by the Finnish state-controlled arms company Patria Oy continue play out in Croatia and Slovenia. Courts cleared the company and a number of its senior executives in Egypt last year and upheld lesser accounting offences, according to Transparency International.

        See: WORLD’S “LEAST CORRUPT” NATIONS FAIL TO POLICE BRIBERY ABROAD

  18. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah GONAD (God’s Own News Agency Direct): On the Black Sea: Sailors of Sevastopol
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csvnrn

    On The Black Sea Episode 5 of 5

    The Crimean coast is so important that Russia seized it from Ukraine. But what have been the costs of gaining this valuable prize? The final leg of our five-episode journey across and around the Black Sea takes us to the port of Sevastopol.
    ####

    Yet another cherry picking, lying by omission and clever black propaganda ‘report’ by the BBC on Russia.

    Well done to the BBC on finding an bigoted ex-Ukrainian navy officer speaking for the Russians and who they are and how they think. This would be the BBC providing ‘balance’ in its report. Curiously not a bad word coming from Russian interviewees.

    No mention of Khruschev giving away Crimea to Ukraine in 1954.

    No mention of the Crimean referendum for ASSR status on 20 January 1991 nor the 1994 referendum , nor Kiev’s not stop attempts at suppression of Crimean Russian rights.

    No mention of the promise of NATO not to spread east nor pulling out of the ABM treaty or how the Coup regime’s threats to kick the Russian Navy out of Sebastopol posed a massive strategic threat to Russia of it possibly becoming a NATO base.

    Oh, and to top it off, sad music. Al beeb should just stick to fiction (not this kind of fiction, but drama, detective and other kinds).

  19. Patient Observer says:

    If this story is accurate, the US is reaching the tipping point in PC:

    http://theduran.com/robert-lee-removed-from-football-broadcast-by-espn-for-political-correctness-reasons/

    ESPN has removed an announcer from its broadcast of the University of Virginia’s first football game next month because he has the same name as a Confederate general memorialized in statues that are being taken down across the country.

    Robert Lee is an Asian play-by-play [American] football sports announcer. He will not be permitted to cover a game near Charlottesville for his own safety.

  20. Patient Observer says:

    https://www.rt.com/usa/400593-navy-remove-aucoin-mccain/

    The US Navy has relieved the commander of US 7th fleet after a destroyer collided with a merchant vessel east of the Malacca Strait. It was the fourth time a US warship has been involved in a collision in the Pacific theater this year.

    Seems to be more of a PR move to me as there appears to be a huge bureaucratic distance from those more directly responsible for inadequate training, improper staff assignments, etc. that may have led to the accidents.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I am pretty sure that the USN dismisses from command officers whose vessels are damaged through negligence.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Very true and the command crew has been relieved of duties but this guy is the admiral of the 7th fleet. I understand that it is a 2-year “billet” so he could have hardly been on the job long enough to have a positive or negative impact on the skill level and readiness of the crew in question.

        One possible explanation is that his earlier assignments were in the areas that appear to be deficient. Or, they just needed to make a high level example to satisfy the public that something is being done. Not an expert here at all, just trying to understand the motivations of the action.

        • Cortes says:

          From my reading of the article linked, he was due to retire in three weeks so maybe he was seen as demob happy and he was shown the door.

        • Jen says:

          There are also ten families who lost loved ones in the collision with the oil tanker Alnic plus another five sailors who will probably sue for compensation for injuries they suffered during the crash. Ten deaths are likely to concentrate the mind on finding ways to head off possible criminal or civil lawsuits brought by the families.

    • marknesop says:

      Well, it’s hard to see what CO 7th Fleet could have done differently – sail with every ship and stand the bridge watch for the whole trip? Nobody knows yet what caused these crashes, and it has much of the smell of action taken to reassure the public that something is being done, although that something might be neither useful or productive.

      I suppose he might have simply imposed a unilateral moratorium on US naval operations in the Pacific. Nobody would have gotten hurt or killed, and those ships would be undamaged. But I suspect he might have incurred the wrath of the upper echelon in that case, too.

      • et Al says:

        Nobody knows yet what caused these crashes,..

        Neither do I, but may I posit a theory? In short, the USN is not up to the task. In long, the Pivot to China aka the Containment of China and protecting the USA’s global hegemony requires extensive logistical, human etc.changes that the USN is struggling to manage, and that is even before you take note of the geography and risks associated with gigantic choke points such as the Malacca Straits through which a huge number of ships pass, depth of water etc.

        It’s one thing to say your are going to do something, it is an entirely different thing to actually do it. Not to mention that China has been pushing back (EP-3 Ares II shoot down for starters).

        It also seems to me rather a sign of arrogance and hubris. After all, when you are the world’s greatest power it clearly shouldn’t be difficult to move your military around easily.

        No one is fooled by cheap words and open chest beating.

        • marknesop says:

          I hope it does not occur to them that what they need, at least according to the visionary Mahan, is local bases to support their logistics and operations. Because that is going to be a non-starter from the Chinese point of view. A sign that this weakness is understood would be a significant buildup of naval forces at Yokosuka, Sasebo and Okinawa.

  21. et Al says:

    I made the mistake of watching BBC news today. Their reporting on Yemen is appalling. The Saudis and their sponsors get equal time to get their talking points across and the BBC journalists quickly give up on getting an answer about the effects of the Saudi blockade. Senior journalists like Jeremy Bowen earlier and now I’ve just seen Ross Atkins softly softly try to get an answer from some US based spokeshole for the ‘Arabia Foundation’. Fortunately they cut to Trump’s live address. For an organization that prides itself on equality and fairness, it is so simply shameless in following the government line on foreign policy with the odd ‘maybes’. How can anyone who works their accept this?

  22. et Al says:

    Lyttenburgh, vis your earlier question about Poland teeming with Euro-maidanites, I have an update. While in Warsaw the other day, someone I know (who I would credit) told me after a bit of prompting that they are in Poland, but seem to be smart enough not to concentrate in one region.

    He has been around and about and has been surprised to find them in the sticks further out from major population centers. I do wonder if this may have something to do with normal Poles low tolerance of banderite chest beating (unlike the pols) so those emigré/whatever Euro-maidanites are deliberately keeping a low profile.

    I should also add that I noticed publicity for the Polish ‘Volyn’ film and a rather interesting (and apparently Legia sponsored posters), sic “GERMANS murdered millions of Poles and destroyed Poland! GERMANS you have to pay for it!” in central Warsaw. Part of the poster from the bottom middle half way up was torn bu the picture was a black and white reproduction of german troops walking through a street while it burned around them.* Scrawled at the bottom in red was “FUCK OFF NAZIS!“.

    * https://scontent-amt2-1.cdninstagram.com/t51.2885-15/e35/20838934_467496813627687_1431470354458476544_n.jpg?ig_cache_key=MTU4NDMxNzYyMTc4ODI2NzU3Mg%3D%3D.2&se=8

    The picture itself is of Nazis walking through the Warsaw Ghetto after them destroying it.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      ” seem to be smart enough not to concentrate in one region. “

      Uh-huh. Thanks for update, et Al! Just recently the Ukrian Foreign ministry revealed data pertaining to the “success” of the Sacred BezViz. They claim that 200 000 of the Ukrainians used it since its inception on 11 June this year. How much is it compared to other years – I have no data ATM. The №1 destination place of these tourists surprised me – it’s Barcelona! Second place hold Rome, third one – Paris, 4 – Milan, 5 – Lissabon Not Poland and not Germany though.

      Meanwhile rumours abound about “New Europeans” (mostly – from the Baltic states) illegally transporting Ukrainians to Ireland and Britain to work as literally slaves there. Also there was a general noise about the increase of the Ukrainian gasterbaiters in Poland.

      The idea that Germany should pay is not a new one. PiS just tries to make Poland enter the elite club of the “suffering nations”, browbeat the entire world into accepting their own unique “tragic history”… and then beg for monies. Their mistake is twofold. First – they disperse their energy and attention at many “tragedies” at once. Look at Israel and the Ukraine! They get this martyrology business model right – focus on one event (Shoah/Holodomor) and proclaim it as unique and reparations worthy.

      And what the PiS does? Kaczynski has suggested to have a monthly anniversary of the Smolensk crash to be hosted in April 2018; for a grand total of 96 months (the number of victims). He also expressed a hopeful notion that “we will learn the truth by then” (aka “Tusk/KGB did it!”).

      Each progressive monthly anniversary costs more to field and takes more policemen to act as security. It is siad, that the previous monthlyversary required 2000 policemen for about 2.5 thousand people and about 500 people from the countermanifestation. First monthlyversaries only had 50 or so policemen standing guard.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    Russian Ambassador to Sudan Found Dead at Residence – Sudanese Authorities

    Cue the Finnish correspondent!

    What is Russia going to do about this?

    NOTHING!!!

    And don’t forget: the Sudanese are MUSLIMS!

    • Moscow Exile says:

    • “What is Russia going to do about this?”
      Nothing as no crime or foul play was involved.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        But surely Muslims were involved?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Because 97% of the population of the Sudan are practising Muslims, even more, percentagewise, than are the Chechens, a fact that you pointed out as regards your comments above about the murders today at the Nizhny Novgorod GAZ plant:

            Chechens are predominantly Sunni Muslim, I would say at least 95% of them are Sunni Muslims. Therefore it is almost certain that the perpetrator is a Sunni Muslim as well“.

            You wrote the above after linking to lenta.ru, which site reported that an unknown assailant had killed some of his fellow workers at the plant.

            I then commented that no mention in the report was made of the assailant’s religion, whereupon you replied:

            The perp is from Chechnya… Chechens are Muslim“.

            So jumping to the conclusion that there was foul play involved in the death of the ambassador and that the perpetrator was Sudanese, then the killer must have been a Muslim.

            Of course, on the small amount of information so far known about the death of the ambassador, these conclusions are not well founded.

            Jumping to conclusions is a bad habit, don’t you think?

    • Anyway, this is more than odd. No other country is losing high-ranking diplomats at this pace.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Vitaly Churkin, 64, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, died on February 20 of a heart attack.

        Alexander Kadakin, 67, the Russian ambassador to India, died on January 26 of natural causes.

        Andrey Malanin, 54, a senior diplomat at the Russian embassy in Greece, was found dead in early January. Greek police said that Malanin died suddenly from natural causes, foul play was not suspected.

        Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, 62, was assassinated in Ankara on December 20.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          The police have ruled out the theory that the Russian ambassador to the Sudan, Mirgayas Shirinsky, who was found dead in his residence in Khartoum, the capital of the country, had been assassinated. This has been reported by Agence France Presse.

          “A preliminary investigation has shown that his death came natural”, Sudanese police officer Omar al-Mokhtar said.

          He added that a version of the “deliberate murder of the ambassador” is not being considered. According to him, Shirinsky “died while swimming in his pool.” It is reported that forensic invstigators have already taken water samples from the pool. According to the results of the inspection, toxic substances were not found. The officer noted that the Russian embassy staff had summoned the police.

          See: Полиция исключила версию покушения на посла РФ в Судане

          • marknesop says:

            Maybe Moscow needs to start appointing Spetsnaz types who are healthier and in better shape.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            It was a heart attack. Hardly uncommon thing for the people his age.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              As it happens, yesterday I was in my home town with my sister. She wanted to “visit” our dead relatives in the town cemetery and place flowers on their graves.

              She likes doing that sort of thing: I don’t.

              Whilst walking around the place, I read the inscriptions on many of the gravestones: very many of those buried there had died much younger than I am now.

              They seem to die young in my old neck of the woods. My father died when he was 51, my grandfather when he was 62. I saw plenty of memorials there yesterday to 50- and 60-year olds and not a few to unfortunate people who had died much younger. The majority of the deceased in that graveyard where I was yesterday had not died as the result of foul play, I am sure.

              I had, of course, noticed this fact, namely that they seem to die “young” where I come from, very many years ago when I was resident in my home town. It used to bug me no end in those days whenever I heard someone say “Hard work never killed anyone!” to which I usually responded: “Oh aye? Well go and take a walk around the graveyard then and look at the headstones”.

              The lifestyle there, especially amongst the men, clearly contributed to the high mortality rate: hard drinking, heavy smoking, together with the dirty, dangerous unhealthy work environment.

              So my sister did her thing yesterday and said her silent prayers at the gravesides.

              I walked on.

              For my part, the Roman Epicureans, who believed that all sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain, were spot on. For Epicureans, therefore, the fear of death simply arises from the belief that in death there is awareness.

              For this reason, Epicureans often had inscribed on their headstones:

              Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo

              I was not. I was. I no longer am. I do not care.

              However, I think those Epicureans were spot on, save for one thing: if there is no awareness after death, then no one cares about anything after he has drawn his last breath. For that reason, I should prefer to have on my tombstone:

              Non fui, fui, non sum,

              And please: No visitors!

              🙂

              • Cortes says:

                Our dad used to say ” Hard work – first it builds you up, then it fucks you up.”

                Quite right. Look at Phil and Betty, hale and hearty in their 90s.

  24. Jen says:

    There’s an article over at Off-Guardian.org by the Collective of Investigative Journalists on the treatment and torture of Darya Mastikasheva (partner of investigative journalist Sergey Sokolov) in Dnepropetrovsk by masked men who tried to blackmail her into framing Sokolov as a terrorist mastermind in charge of an attack on a Moscow building, in an effort to silence him. The article concludes with an appeal to spread publicity of the incident.
    https://off-guardian.org/2017/08/23/lawlessness-in-ukraine/

    More information on Mastikasheva’s kidnapping and torture at this link:
    http://www.stalkerzone.org/sbu-detained-taekwondo-champion-darya-mastikasheva-tortured-basement/

  25. kirill says:

    The nationalist Ukr symbol for their mythical state is simply a cultural appropriation. Kievan Rus had nothing in common with modern day Ukrs who are a melange of various ethnic groups under the Uniate religion and cultural influence of the Grand Duchy of Poland-Lithuania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Most of Soviet-concocted Ukraine is ethnic Russian land populated by ethnic Russians. Thanks to Soviet destruction of history and the promotion of the fringe Ukr language and culture, a lot of these Russians have lost their identity and think of themselves as Ukrainians. They are nothing of the sort.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Aleksei Pushkov Poroshenko is so carried away with divorcing Russia that he has forgotten that the Ukraine has no “historical position in the composition of the European countries” since such a country did not exist before 1991.

      Derkach Oleksandr The stupid, uneducated Senator has forgotten that the Ukraine existed before 1645, otherwise there would not have been signed the famous treaty between the Ukraine and Russia.

      The “famous treaty between the Ukraine and Russia”:

      The Pereyaslav Council, also known as the Treaty of Pereyaslav, was an act undertaken by the Council (rada) of Pereyaslav convened in the town of Pereyaslav (now Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, central Ukraine) in January 1654 on the initiative of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky to address the issue of the Cossack Hetmanate and the ongoing Khmelnytsky Uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian CommonwealthWiki.

      The treaty that Derkach refers to above was between the Tsardom of Russia and the Cossack Hetmanate east of the Dnieper, whereby in exchange for allegiance to the Tsar that Cossack Hetmanate would receive the military protection of the Tsar.

      This hetmanate was opposed to the overlordship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth west of the Dnieper: that is why those Cossacks who received the Tsar’s protection had crossed the Dnieper and swore allegiance to the Tsar.

      The Treaty of Pereyaslav was not between Russia and a place called the Ukraine.

      The Treaty of Pereyaslav gave rise to the Russo-Polish War (1654–67).

      This war came to a conclusion under the terms of the “Eternal Peace Treaty of 1686”, concluded by Russia and Poland that re-affirmed Russia’s sovereignty over the lands of Zaporizhian Sich, namely that Cossack settlement east of the Dnieper “across the rapids”, and situated on the left bank of that river and its hinterland, as well as the city of Kiev.

      Poland, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Zaporizhian Sich …

      Any mention of this pre-1645 Ukraine that the Svidomite Derkach speaks of?

      The concept of an independent Ukraine was dreamt up by the Austrian Empire and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was created by the USSR.

      • Moscow Exile says:


        England! This is your doing!
        (British chief Hitler appeaser Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to the right)

        And I thought it was Nazi Germany’s and the Soviet Union’s doing!

        I really do wish those long suffering Poles would make up their minds as regards whom they have fallen victim to.

    • Drutten says:

      The modern western Ukrainian nationalists stole the trident of the early Rurikid princes (who hailed from Scandinavian-Slavic settlements to the north, in Russian Velikiy Novgorod etc) and claimed it as their own in the 1920’s or something. It’s pretty artificial, all in all, I’d say.

      Sure, the “Rus” decided that Kiev would be the “federal” capital sometime in the 900’s, for strategic reasons (constant war with the Turkic folks down south), but they sure as hell didn’t just magically emerge in “Ukraine” or become “Ukrainian” or anything of the sort.

      But people have dug up old symbols and done this kind of thing forever, so I don’t care, and your typical Ukrainian does share this history with your typical Russian. The only thing that irks me a wee bit is that modern “ukrops” from the Polish-Lithuanian regions are a bit schizo and have gotten it all messed up, and on top of that always yap about how “Moscow was a swamp” around the time Kiev flourished under the Rus. Yeah, Moscow was, but not Staraya Ladoga, Novgorod, Pskov, Suzdal etc (and later Tver etc). In fact, Novgorod was probably far larger than Kiev at the turn of that century.

      But who cares? New York City was a mosquito-infested swamp as late as the mid-1600’s too.

      • kirill says:

        I basically agree with your post except for the snipe at Russians engaging in fake nationalism like western “Ukrs”. I see no evidence of Russians faking up some mythical history. The Russian national mentality is poly-ethnic and not mono-ethnic. You will not see any analogues of the “Alexander the Great was a Slavic Macedonian” variety.

        There are Russian skinheads and nationalists but they never dominate the culture like they do elsewhere (e.g. Ukraine, Croatia, etc.).

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I see no evidence of Russians faking up some mythical history…

          You mean … you mean there really was an Ilya Muromets?


          Bogatyr Ilya Muromets (centre)

          Nobody, but nobody, messed around with Ilya!

          🙂

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “You mean … you mean there really was an Ilya Muromets?”

            Yes, ME! Moreso – he’s a saint.

            What the legends got wrong was “lumping” of all famous bogatyrs in the time of Vladimir the Bright Sun (in itself – a collective character, constructed from the elements of St. Vladimir I, his son Yaloslav the Wise and Vladimir Monomakh). The historical prototype of Ilya of Murom lived in late 12th c., in the time of the epically bloody dynastic war on Rus. It was during that time when the prince of Vladimir-Suzdal Yury “Long-Arms” Dolorukiy became for a short period the Grand Prince of Kiev… till the good kievlans poisoned him and pogromed his druzhina in the kinda proto-Maydan. His royal son, Andrey Bogolyubski (“Gottlieb/Amadeus” – take you pick!) retaliated in 1169 by sacking and looting Kiev so hard, that the city won’t recover for decades… and then the Mongol invasion will totally exterminate it.

            From the WikiDorkia article:

            “In 1988, the Interdepartmental Commission of the Ministry of Health of the Ukrainian SSR carried out an examination of the relics of St. Ilya of Murom. Studies of the relics showed that the monk was an exceptionally strong man and had a growth of 177 cm (high growth for the Middle Ages). He had signs of a spinal column disease (Elijah’s epic from birth to 33 years old could not move) and traces of numerous injuries. The cause of death was probably the impact of an acute weapon (spear or sword) in the chest, through the chest that covered the chest. Death occurred at the age of about 40-55 years.

            It is assumed that he died when Kiev was taken by Prince Rurik Rostislavich in 1204, accompanied by the defeat of the Pechersk Lavra by the allied Rurik Polovtsians. In this case, he was to be born between 1150 and 1165.”

            Also Ilya Muromets is a patron saint of Russian Border Troops and Strategic Missile Troops.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              His remains should be brought back to Muscovy!

            • yalensis says:

              This was roughly the same era in which Igor Svyatoslavich launched his unsuccessful campaign against the Polovtsi/Cumans.
              Igor was the Prince of Novgorod-Seversky, near Chernigov, in what is now northern Ukraine.
              Igor lost the battle (badly), but as a consolation prize, his son Volodimir got to marry the Cuman Khan’s daughter, and I reckon the two families sort of became friends after that, even though Igor’s army had been completely destroyed.
              It was a rough era of history.

          • kirill says:

            There is a difference between the rabid fake history of nazionalists (e.g. the Nazis and their BS Aryan mythology) and mythical tales. “Skazki” are not historical accounts. Russians don’t actually believe the Zmei Gorynich was a historical reality.

            It is actual historical fact that Kievan Rus was the precursor to Russia. Kievan Rus was not an exclusive Ukrainian historical thread leading to modern Ukraine (Banderastan) and having nothing to do with Russia. Ukr history is a total fake with historical items and events used as window dressing. (In Toronto the Ukrs celebrated the Christian conversion of Ukraine in 988 back in 1988. There was no such entity as Ukraine in 988). Russian history is clearly not fake. As far as microscopic details, most modern humans are not aware of details of events 1000 years ago since it is rare that they are preserved in documents and because most people just don’t follow archeology.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I consider the very term “Kievan Rus'” to be a fake as well: the former term “Ancient Rus'” is far more appropriate.

              The people who lived in so-called Kievan Rus’ never called their territory by that name: they referred to it as “The Land of the Rus'”, which term, ironically, is that used in Modern German for “Russia” — Russland.

            • yalensis says:

              Nothing here to disagree with, in either comment, Kirill’s or Moscow Exile’s.
              Although I am compelled to point out the irony of Kirill’s response to Drutten and subsequent arguing of his point of view in regard to Russian history.

              Because this is exactly the behavior that Kirill and fellow-commenter Ilya accuse me of, namely “policing the blog”, or “patrolling the blog for ideological purity”, or however they phrase this behavior.

              Which I refer to as “engaging other commenters”, “clarifying core assumptions”, and “arguing one’s point of view”.
              In Kirill’s case, ideological purity consists of his view of Russian history, notice how he tried to engage and “corrent” commenter Drutten on a very minor point.

              Once again, I don’t even disagree with these particular points about Russian/Ukrainian history. Kirill only gets himself into trouble when he ventures into areas WAY outside his expertise. Like, for example, the field of Phonology…. 🙂

  26. Lyttenburgh says:

    Legatus Preator Gaius Anonymus breaks his long silence to address the most recent incidents and scandals .

    ______________________________________________________

    A terrible thing happened, oh, good citizens of Rome! Listen and be afraid!

    Many witnesses claim now that during one of the dark stormy nights several covered wagons loaded with silver ingots and full sesterces drove away from the treasury that is near the temple of Saturn in Rome, and that these funds came straight from the Aerarium of the Empire. Under the flashes of lightning and the roar of thunder the wagons disappeared in the darkness, but some midnight quirites, idly staggering then through the streets of the Eternal City, claimed that the last time the treasure carts were seen near the luxurious villa of the scandalously famous histrio Cyrus Argenticus …

    It so happened that five years ago the aforesaid Argenticus resorted to intrigue, bribery and machinations to became the owner of the old amphitheater, which bore the name of the ancient Umbrian writer Gogolicius. Argenticus disbanded the old troupe, and created a new one, mostly from the city madmen and shameless Greeks, and then fashionable renamed the weatherbeaten Amphitheater to Gogolicius-centrum after which he engaged in the usual scenic shamelessness.

    Histrio Argenticus even in the past was infamous by staging spectacles that shocked the audience. An example of this is his play “Naked Vestal”, which tells about the young priestess of the temple of Vesta, who escapes from it to join one of the legions of Gaius Marius during the war with the Cimbrians and Teutons. On stage the aforementioned Vestal often-passionately-constantly engages in the coital activity (notably – in unison) with many legionaries and centurions, while Gaius Marius, dressed in a bloody toga, conducts brutal decimations. He also staged a performance about the disreputable girls from the lupanarium Rebellam Vaginam – the very same ones that once arranged an ugly orgy in the temple of Jupiter dressed in the costumes of harpies. And just recently there was a scandal in the Circus Maximus of Rome when there was canceled the play about the dancer Nurius – a Greek and a ribald of old. The play was canceled because the Prefecture considered that to shake your naked Greek podex in the Circus Maximus before the good citizens is way too much.

    It should be noted separately that these dubious farces were staged mainly by the funds from the Roman treasury and with the approval of the good Medinius, the Councilor of the Divine Augustus and the senator in charge of fine arts at the court…

    Nevertheless, the histrio Argenticus is popular with a certain part of the metropolitan public – notably among theidlers with pretensions to sophistication, among the dissolute Greeks (whom he likes to include in his despicable plays) and among the aging unmarried maidens. Hippoxenia herself, an outrageous daughter of the former prefect of Ostia, expressed her benevolence to Argenticus. Languishing in idleness languid maidens, whom the quirites nicknamed with sarcasm “insipid vaginas,” proclaimed Argenticus “the creator of the intellectual theatre, which speaks in the language of symbols”, while delightfully calling bare asses not even covered by a scrap of cloth “basic motifs of the Freydis the physician.”

    Fs usual, a thunderstorm erupted suddenly. Just now it became obvious that the wagons with silver donated to Argenticus from the treasury disappeared without a trace! From those thousands upon thousands of sesterces allocated to him from the Roman aerarium one could build a marble amphitheater, surpassing the splendor of the August Arena, but Gogolicius-centrum showed only flimsy scenery made from the glued papyrus, and no costumes at all for the actors. Indeed, why you need them, when you can run on the stage in Cupid’s suits ?!

    City cohort investigating the matter have already plunged in the Mamertine prison some freedmen, clients and parasites of Argenticus, while he locked himself in his villa on the Palatine Hill, and does not wish to answer questions from the curious quirites, only claiming that he became the victim of envy, slanderers, mediocrity and (of course!) of Caesar Augustus personally, whom he considers despot and tyrant.

    In the camp Argenticus’ fans arose a storm of indignation. Genius! Master! A bright burning candle of Roman culture! The brightest star in the sky! The out-of-wedlock child Melpomene! Enough your talk about the podexpodex is a symbol, you do not understand anything, stupid plebeians from dirty Subura! And even if Genius took a little bit of sesterci from the treasury, it’s very good – let the coins go to higher art than to another war chariot or swords for legionaries! Stole? Let him steal, but he can and must be forgiven, if only because he … He! .. HE! .. (usually at this moment the aforementioned “insipid vagina” gets ready to faint from indignation).

    How this story will end, and whether Argenticus for his theiver will get himself sold into slavery and send to the mines, is still unclear. However, I want to ask the prefect Medinius – how long? How long will the taxes of citizens be spent on such histrii, with their “Naked Vestals”, shameless girls from flea-bitten lupanariums and Greek orgies on the stage? No, if you like – let the Argenticus put his gods insulting farces at his own expense, but why we – the people of Rome – have to pay for this?

    Enough! Have your “Naked Vestals” at your own expense!

    • yalensis says:

      It also came to light that the Roman Treasury was funding the infamous “Circus Felix”, in which unwary felines were dressed up as court concubines and eunuchs, for the dubious pleasure of the depraved mob.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Rome has a long and proud tradition of the state funding for felines, performing in Circus Maximus and other venues for the mass entertainment and sporting events:

        Actors and street performers though had been always looked down and not considered to be proper citizens. For a good reasons, given that a lot of them were foreigners (Greeks in both meanings of this words) and/or freedmen.

        • yalensis says:

          Our glorious Emperor Claudius is particularly known for his love of feline acrobatics. He attends the Circus every afternoon and has his own box seat.

          One one occasion Emperor Claudius was seen to be weeping profusely at the arena. When asked what was wrong, “It was horrible,” he sobbed. “They led three Christians and two lions into the ring. There was a lot of blood… And it was so sad… because one of the lions didn’t get a Christian!”

          [very old joke, my apologies…]

  27. marknesop says:

    Well, there’s something you don’t see every day – an accusation that organizations funded by George Soros are helping Putin. These organizations are apparently accusing Burisma – everyone remembers them, with their star-studded staff which included the former US Vice-President’s son – of corruption! Don’t they know that all corruption in Ukraine is just Russian disinformation?

    Besides, Burisma has increased Ukraine’s domestic gas production phenomenally! Oh, and helped them buy European/Russian gas at a higher price: one wonders if this was not Hunter Biden’s special mission. It’s just kind of…you know…odd that Burisma’s success at increasing Ukraine’s gas production is only now coming to light. You’d think it would be the kind of success story they’d want to run all day and night.

    • karl1haushofer says:

      The West also needs to keep the cheap heroin and opium from flowing Afghanistan to Russia. This is why more war is needed.

      • Patient Observer says:

        I tend to agree with your comment. Per wikipedia:

        Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001.[3] Based on UNODC data, opium poppy cultivation was more in each of the growing seasons in the periods between 2004 and 2007 than in any one year during Taliban rule. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than is used for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 93% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan.[4] This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers.[5] In the seven years (1994–2000) prior to a Taliban opium ban, the Afghan farmers’ share of gross income from opium was divided among 200,000 families.[6]

        It was alleged by the Soviets on multiple occasions that American CIA agents were helping smuggle opium out of Afghanistan, either into the West, in order to raise money for the Afghan resistance, or into the Soviet Union, in order to weaken it through drug addiction. According to Alfred McCoy, the CIA supported various Afghan drug lords, for instance Gulbuddin Hekmatyar[12] and others such as Haji Ayub Afridi.

        n July 2000, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, collaborating with the United Nations to eradicate heroin production in Afghanistan, declared that growing poppies was un-Islamic, resulting in one of the world’s most successful anti-drug campaigns. The Taliban enforced a ban on poppy farming via threats, forced eradication, and public punishment of transgressors. The result was a 99% reduction in the area of opium poppy farming in Taliban-controlled areas, roughly three quarters of the world’s supply of heroin at the time.[16] The ban was effective only briefly due to the deposition of the Taliban in 2002.

        Apparently, growing poppies for opium is unIslamic but not unAmerican. Which group is backwards and criminal? Its all so confusing.

    • Jen says:

      Problem though is who will stump up the money to build the mines and safeguard them from the Taliban, local warlords and their gangs, or even from local people who might be affected by pollution created by mining activities in their areas? Then roads or railways have to be built to transport minerals to ports for export, and those also have to be protected. Where does President Trump propose the funding will come from?

      Since Soviet times, people have always known that Afghanistan sits on a treasure trove of minerals, especially minerals like lithium: the issue though is that since 1980 at least, the country has never been stable enough for mining companies to want to explore and survey areas, to build mines and bring people to work in them, to build transport routes to cities and ports – and to raise money from investors or bank loans to pay for all these activities.

    • marknesop says:

      Rachel Maddow has fallen a long, long way, and in the end seems to have become what she once hated. She used to eat Bush alive on her show (no pun intended, I meant Dubya), and had nothing – apparently – but contempt for Conservative ‘values’. She now seems to have come full circle and is that most dreaded of beasts, a leftie with a conservative outlook; a ‘red liberal’, if you will.

      I would just caution, though, that there is nothing in the quoted passage which says Trump intends to steal Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. I imagine that is a supposition based on the impression that the country has little else of value, and the suggestion that America intends to make a little money to pay itself for sending in the heavies to beat up the place again.

    • Jen says:

      I have now found the full text of President Trump’s speech and there is no mention of minerals extraction or whatever Rachel Maddow imagined he was saying. The paragraph that Maddow was fixated on is more general in its scope and the “economic development” makes no reference to specific industries or programs of development.

      “… We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will. Since taking office, I have made clear that our allies and partners must contribute much more money to our collective defense, and they have done so.

      In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces. As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.

      Afghanistan is fighting to defend and secure their country against the same enemies who threaten us. The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future. We want them to succeed.

      But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over. Instead, we will work with allies and partners to protect our shared interests. We are not asking others to change their way of life, but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives. This principled realism will guide our decisions moving forward …”

      https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/21/remarks-president-trump-strategy-afghanistan-and-south-asia

  28. Moscow Exile says:

    Canadian town refuses to remove swastikas from park as mayor defends local history

    It is not a Nazi swastika.

    Neither is this:


    One of many former well-known Dublin laundry vans.

    Nor is this:

    I had a similar copy of the above. It was my mother’s.

    • marknesop says:

      I really loathe activists, with their smarmy statements; “people come to the park to feel safe”. Horseshit. I’ll bet nobody goes to any park because it makes them feel safe. And I’m sure anyone can see how quickly things could get out of hand if activists were allowed to just obliterate anything they found offensive, on their own initiative.

      However, I note the representative of the Jewish organization’s proposed solution is exactly in line with the mayor’s. Add an informative plaque, so people can inform themselves instead of just reacting to symbols like in ‘1984’ with the Two Minutes Hate.

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    British bureaucracy can be, it seems, just as pigheaded as Russian bureaucracy.

    A 19-year-old woman, born in France but who has lived with her British mother in the UK since she was 6, has been told to bugger off back to where she came from:

    ‘It’s unfair. I came to the UK aged six’

    • et Al says:

      Don’t the British pride themselves on being fair, not mean spirited or total c*&ts? Oh well, maybe it was true once, somewhere. Coming to think of it, I met a history teacher once who was a child migrant in his mothers arms many years ago just after the war. He and his mum happened to be on an aeroplane sitting next to a government minister who arranged for them to get residence.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Well, I do recall how a few years ago a scandal arose over the expulsion of a certain “illegal”, a West Indian woman in her 30s who, as a 14-year-old, had arrived to visit her aunt in Birmingham.

        Twenty-odd years later, that former schoolgirl was still in Birmingham and working as a fully trained and qualified midwife.

        Somebody reported her to the authorities and she was given marching orders. The newspapers got hold of the story and there was an outcry over the treatment meted out to the otherwise law-abiding “illegal”, who was, of course, a useful member of society, and the expulsion order was overruled.

        I, on the other hand, though a fully qualified and experience Kremlin Stooge who has contributed much to Russian society, was shown the door in Mother Russia.

        😦

    • marknesop says:

      That reminds me; I received a response from the Russian Interior Ministry to my appeal that you be allowed to remain in the Russian Federation with your family. I have forwarded it to you by email for your interest.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I have just received it and read the enclosed message to you from the Ministry of the Interior.

        I have forwarded the letter from the ministry to my wife.

        It is a classic in Russian bureaucratic pettifoggery, in that they ask you for full details about me, my date of birth etc.,and proof of my authorization to you to represent my interests and recommend that you forward such required documents to the Ministry of the Interior.

        Helpful little souls, are they not?

    • Fern says:

      I find it completely baffling as well. If you have moved to UK from somewhere else, are law-abiding and gainfully employed, you are likely to be given marching orders to leave on what seems like extraordinarily flimsy pretexts whereas the government seems to find it impossible to deport folk who have also moved here from elsewhere but who have committed serious crimes (rapes and murders, people trafficking, drug-running etc ) for fear of ‘human rights’ violations.

      • Jen says:

        The UK isn’t alone in deporting law-abiding migrants back to their countries of origin while allowing people with criminal records to stay because they might be, ahem, arrested and imprisoned. Australia does this as well. We have had cases where families have been deported because while those families had not infringed on any laws, some of their children or relatives had chronic health issues. In two families’ cases, the issue was autism in the children: one family was set to be deported back to the Philippines but the deportation order was waived after public protest; and early in 2017 a second family was set to be deported back to Bangladesh after a teenage girl failed an immigration health check. In both cases, the parents worked as medical professionals.
        http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/girl-with-autism-to-be-deported-after-failing-immigration-health-checks-20170223-gujz9h.html

        Whereas in the case of Man Haron Monis, who held up a coffee shop in Sydney for 17 hours and ended up being killed together with two of his hostages, he was allowed to stay in Australia after claiming refugee status back in 1996 in spite of a dubious history of criminal activity. The Iranian government had a warrant for his arrest for various scams he had run back in Iran and the Iranians supplied information on the fellow to Australia that made his criminal record clear. Monis was no less a troublemaker in Australia than in Iran; he obviously needed long-term psychiatric treatment in an institution that could supply it. If Australia had not been so antagonistic towards Iran because of that nation’s politics and had considered Monis’ record independently of Iran’s human rights record, we could have been spared much of the suffering this man created.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Haron_Monis#Life_in_Iran

  30. Moscow Exile says:

    Today is Ukraine Independence Day.


    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” ― George Orwell, Animal Farm.


    The quantity of produced goods per capita (1989 and 2016)

    — Oink, oink?

    — Oink!

  31. Cortes says:

    Is there no end to the oppression visited upon the youth of Ukraine by the Russian aggressors?

    https://www.rt.com/news/400700-ukrainian-children-russia-culture-trip/

    The odds against a dramatic collapse of the regime in Kiev must be plummeting as such nonsense is publicised, Shirley.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I saw that and contemplated posting it with the suggestion that nothing, but nothing is too small for the Ukie haters to get incensed about. But it was late and I was too tired. How pathetic, though – you’d think Russia really was equivalent to Nazi Germany judging from how frothy it makes the west Ukrainians. Oh, except that they loved Nazi Germany; I’d forgotten that for a second.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Can’t let the kids be brainwashed by the prosperity and cultural richness of Russia.

    • Moscow Exile says:


      NATO servicemen marching today in Kiev on Ukraine Independence Day

      That is independence from the Soviet Union,1991, when the wicked Moskali accepted responsibility for all former Soviet subject states’ debts, including, of course, those of the former UkSSR.

    • marknesop says:

      In a joint press conference with Mr Poroshenko earlier on Thursday, Gen Mattis said Russia had not abided by the Minsk ceasefire agreement to end the separatist war.

      He said: “Despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe.

      “Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you are an aggressor and clearly Ukraine is not an aggressor since it is their own territory where the fighting is happening.

      Russia is not even mentioned by name in the Minsk Agreement – how many times does that have to be pointed out to dunderheads like Mattis? And I suspect stooges will want to file away the phrase, “Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you are an aggressor” for further use, it is pure gold given Washington’s squawking about Russia’s arms deals. Since there has never been any evidence shown of Russian troops in Ukraine, I guess these ‘defensive weapons’ will never be used, right? Because the Donbas militias are clearly not ‘aggressors’ – they merely prevent the region from being overrun by the Ukrainian Army and subjugated by force by the Ukrainian government. So there should be no reason that American-gifted ‘defensive weapons’ be used except to prevent Ukraine proper from being attacked in a war of aggression by Novorossiya. Anyone want to bet against seeing Javelins in action – if Ukraine gets them – in a push to take back the Donbas?

  32. marknesop says:

    Well, well; look at that – Naftogaz made a profit of 22.6 Billion hryvnia in 2016, most of it from transit fees.

    The same Naftogaz which plans to tack on an extra $5 Billion to its demands from Gazprom – already $12.3 Billion – for what it says was underpayment of transit fees between 2009 and 2016. The same Naftogaz that squeals what a reliable partner it is whenever there is mention of building a pipeline around Ukraine so Russia will not have to transit gas through it.

    Certainly doing a lot to help themselves, aren’t they?

  33. marknesop says:

    Guess who’s in the lead in Ukrainian election polling?

    Interestingly, those parties deemed ‘pro-Russian’ are ahead of those deemed ‘pro-EU’.

    • et Al says:

      Oh am I not surprised. I engaged in pure amateur speculation on this blog some time back by saying Tymoshenko would be back and was just biding her time. People have short memories and by standing still, if others sink, you rise to the top. Which reminds of an article I forgot to post about Afghanistan where it is claimed that educated Afghanis look back more fondly on the Soviet Union and it support for modernizing Afghanistan, women’s education, schools, roads, infrastructure etc.

      I myself was a little skeptical about it as the Afghanis like to tell foreigners what they want to hear. On the other hand, the Afghanis are a pragmatic lot and will quite happily switch back and forth depending on whom they consider the most useful.

      The soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a) such a long time ago; b) Russia has proved itself to be extremely competent in providing support (sic Syria); c) having someone else to call on when you could be dropped is always useful. Cunning buggers! It’s a quality that regularly comes through in he several books I’ve read about Afghanistan, not to mention article since.

      Continued US presence in the country will only continue to bleed resources away from other US domestic needs, so you can reliably say that Bin Laden’s simple goal of weakening the USA by bleeding its resources still holds true. It’s good news for the posh Afghanis though, they can continue to pretend to fight and fill their pockets.

      • Cortes says:

        I look forward to the schism in the LGBTQ Falange of the USA between the traditional taste in small-boy love of certain sections of male Afghans and their pederast US friends vs the demand of feminists for modernisation of every aspect of social and sexual mores thus leading to the banning of small-boy love. Oh! Those lachrymose London based travel writers bemoaning the absence of the scented boys carrying carnations and roses in their mouths during the evil Soviet occupation! Black comedy gold.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, Tymoshenko’s rally was extremely predictable, because Poroshenko could not fail to fail, considering he is an altruistic statesman like a penis is a cello. She just had to keep a relatively low profile – so as not to offer an excuse to get arrested as a separatist sympathizer, for example – and criticize Poroshenko, who is demonstrably doing a terrible job. And presto! the people of Ukraine forget that she is another wealthy oligarch. I imagine she will essentially broker a deal with Porky which will let him return to the business sector with his assets intact, and no threat of prosecution for corruption, since he still owns significant media and banking assets which could hamper Tymoshenko’s exercise of absolute power, which she craves.

        And the results next time around are predictable as well. Tymoshenko will line her pockets with grant money just like Porky did, and Ukrainians will be no better off because they just cannot seem to learn the simple lesson that them what has, gets. They keep choosing oligarchic crooks, but to be fair, it seems to be a choice between oligarchic crooks and fascist-nationalist fanatics. Not a very deep bench, by any stretch of the imagination.

        But she will want to smack down the nationalist element early in her campaign, else she will end up fearing them as Porky did. And also unless she does that there will be no possibility of a rapprochement with Russia, thus no resolution of the civil war and no Ukraine-Russia trade. But Nord Stream II remains Russia’s ace in the hole, and provides a means of controlling Yulia.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Yulia! Yuliaaaaa! Oh, and make Savchenko a PM. Fur lulz.


      ^This clip will never grew old, given the general state of affairs in the “country 404”

    • karl1haushofer says:

      I would not call Julia Tymoshenko “pro-Russian”. She was part of the Orange revolution leaders in 2004.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        You are absolutely correct about her not being “pro-Russian”, albeit she is an “ethnic” Russian: she is pro-Yulia Tymoshenko, nothing else..

        Tymoshenko started off as a businesswoman in Dnepropetrovsk (now Dnipro), her home town, and with the help of the former governor of her home province, the unbelievably corrupt former Ukrainian prime minister, “Mr. 50%” Lazarenko, became immensely wealthy in an amazingly short time, not least because, for an appropriate fee, Prime Minister Lazarenko gave her control of the Ukrainian gas industry.

        Tymoshenko was a brunette when she started of her business career and at that time only spoke Russian, which is both her mother tongue and the first (and probably only) language of her Russian mother. Her first foray into business was running a video-hire firm in Dnepropetrovsk, where she flogged off bootleg soft-porn imported from Poland.

        The “Gas Princess” then saw that there was much more wealth to be further garnered by her entering what is laughably called in the Ukraine “politics”. She changed her image to one of, I suspect, a latter-day Lesya Ukrainka, and the rest is history.

        She also seriously studied the Ukrainian language, which on her own admission, she did not speak until she was in her 30s: she speaks nothing else now, in public at any rate.

        The “Orange Revolution” for dear Yulia was just another opportunity for her to make even more lolly.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Ukrainians remember that in the 1990s, before the braids, Tymoshenko was a shrewd businesswoman with dark hair and a dark side: tough, unrelenting, unforgiving, and in a league with then-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. She amassed an enormous fortune in the natural gas business. People started calling her “The Gas Princess.” And there she was helped by the sweetheart deals Lazarenko allegedly sent her way.

          Given all the talk that later charges against Tymoshenko were trumped up or falsified in the Ukraine, it’s probably important to know that her ally Lazarenko was prosecuted in the United States, where he was convicted and imprisoned for money laundering and other crimes. Tymoshenko was not charged in that case and she has denied wrongdoing, but she was named explicitly as part of the conspiracy detailed in the indictment.

          “Lazarenko received money from companies owned or controlled by Ukrianian [sic] business woman Yulia Tymoshenko … in exchange for which Lazarenko exercised his official authority in favor of Tymoshenko’s companies, and … Lazarenko failed to disclose to the people and government of Ukraine that he was receiving significant amounts of money from these companies.”

          Tymoshenko moved from business to politics when she entered parliament in 1996. Three years later, when Lazarenko fled the country (claiming people were out to kill him), Tymoshenko helped found the Fatherland Party on an anti-Lazarenko anti-corruption platform.

          Yulia Tymoshenko: She’s No Angel

          • marknesop says:

            That prosecution is important, because the USA knows full well many of the details of Tymoshenko’s business relationship with Lazarenko. Consequently, it could probably make or break her – exactly the position Uncle Same likes to be in with his relentless spying and snooping on everyone and everything.

      • marknesop says:

        No, certainly not, although she has a nose for money and could easily be pro-Russian if that’s the way the money led. I meant that the field other than Tymoshenko’s party shows stronger pro-Russian sentiment in a country where it is criminal to be pro-Russian. I should have been clearer.

  34. Warren says:

    AUGUST 24, 2017
    Abby Martin – Episode 94

    This week Eric sits down with journalist Abby Martin to discuss the situation in Venezuela, and her recent trip to the country. Eric and Abby begin by examining the “protests” on the streets of Caracas as Abby witnessed first-hand: the violence of the guarimbas, the class character of the protests and protesters, the attitudes of Chavistas, the economic and psychological war against the people of Venezuela, and much more. From there, Eric and Abby touch on everything from the role of organized crime and Colombian paramilitaries to the US-sponsored subversion of the country. The second half of the show focuses on a variety of topics including the recently elected constituent assembly, the obstructionism of the right wing opposition in the National Assembly, the means of defending Chavismo and the Bolivarian Revolution, and so much more. Don’t miss this week’s CounterPunch Radio!

    https://store.counterpunch.org/abby-martin-episode-94/

  35. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah GONAD (God’s Own News Agency Direct): First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41037071

    The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to tanker’s Russian owners.

    The 300-metre-long Sovcomflot ship, the Christophe de Margerie, was carrying gas from Norway to South Korea….

    …The Christophe de Margerie is the world’s first and, at present, only ice-breaking LNG carrier.

    The ship, which features a lightweight steel reinforced hull, is the largest commercial ship to receive Arc7 certification, which means it is capable of travelling through ice up to 2.1m thick. ..
    ####

    Another misleading headline, which is a pity because I wanted to say that the downside would be that it makes for shit Gin & Tonics if there is no ice!

    Just as a reminder of FAKE news by the previous President that was met with raptured adulation by the professional media:

    Neuters 3 August 2014: Obama: ‘Russia Doesn’t Make Anything’
    http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-russia-doesnt-make-anything-2014-8?IR=T

    • karl1haushofer says:

      Are you sure that tanker was built in Russia?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        LNG TANKER CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE sails under the Cypriot flag and is registered in Limassol, Cyprus.

        The vessel was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering.

        As we all know, Russians cannot make anything.

      • et Al says:

        Oh, my bad! Completely wrong indeed. That’s what happens when you don’t question absolutely everything from the BBC. I forgot that they only do the perception of news, no real depth, being a government service and all

        Silly Russians should have gone the expensive route rather than using global leaders in chain production of civilian vessels. Globalization, innit?

        But hang on a minute, hasn’t Russia & South Korea recently signed a raft of of economic agreements including the export of LNG to SK and apparently $20b worth of deals a the Russian Economic Forum*? Looks like a win-win to me. So much for Russia being ‘isolated’ by the ‘international community’ (aka the ‘West’). Oh, and on August 17th, it was Total of France that announced the completion of the voyage from Norway to SK…

        https://www.rt.com/business/400857-eef-far-east-investment/

        In other news, Japan is shitting bricks about Russia’s new investment in the Kuriles.* How dare they? Everyone knows that Russia is desperate and on the brink of bankruptcy and not only has to accept Japan’s deeper involvement in the USA’s global missile defense (aka containment) but ultimately hand over some of the island. Russia weak, West Stronk!

        * https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/08/24/Russia-investment-decision-on-Kuril-Islands-angers-Japan/3411503602791/

    • davidt says:

      For information only, I think the boat was built by the South Korean firm DSME.

  36. Cortes says:

    Cooperation among Iran-Russia-Turkey with potential for

    1. Disruption of plans to create separate Kurdish state and

    2. Exploitation of Iranian hydrocarbons

    in an article by M K Bhadrakumar:

    http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/russia-turkey-iran-axis-would-have-been-absurd-fantasy-year-ago-now-its-reality/ri20733

    • et Al says:

      Qatar has given KSA a big public FY! by fully restoring diplomatic relations with Iran. I wonder if they’ve yet (Qatar) stopped sponsoring IS/ISIL/DAESH/Whatever yet?

      The USA likes to make deals then go back on them too. It made a deal with China over North Korea and has gone back on it, it is undermining the I-ran nuclear deal etc. It looks to me as if it is methodically destroying its political credentials which means that when it really needs help, the deal will be signed in their own blood.

    • marknesop says:

      The US objective seems to be to seize control of the oil fields in the region adjacent to Raqqa, which would ensure the economic viability of a Kurdistan entity in northern Syria. Turkey fears that the next step by the US would be to launch operations in northern Syria along Turkey’s borders with a view to carve out a contiguous Kurdistan, which would have access to the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey rightly apprehends that a Kurdistan as next-door neighbour would put intolerable strain on its integrity and stability.

      I must be politically naive. I thought Washington had major objections to ‘redrawing borders’.

      Oh; look at that – it does.

      “Despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe,” Mattis told reporters, alongside Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

      Those troops must all be social workers in uniform. Or maybe ‘SF” stands for ‘Super Friendly’ and not ‘Special Forces’. It’s okay when Uncle Sam does it, because he has love in his heart.

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    Yesterday, 24 August, 2017: Kiev on Ukraine Independence Day


    For Freedom and Democracy!


    Who can tell what awaits these beautiful and brave military men?

    Украинский караван на европейском автобане: Как в Киеве отметили День независимости

    Ukrainian Caravan on a European Autobahn: How Independence Day Was Celebrated in Kiev

  38. et Al says:

    Flight Global: MH17 inquiry receives additional Russian radar data
    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/mh17-inquiry-receives-additional-russian-radar-data-440581/

    The Dutch national prosecutor’s office had previously expressed irritation that Russian-supplied radar data had not been provided in the internationally-accepted ‘Asterix’ format developed by Eurocontrol.

    But the office states that, following a supplementary request for assistance, the additional radar information “should now be” in the required format, and will be “examined in depth” by the joint investigation team…
    ####

    Irritated Dutch Syndrome (IDS)? There’s a pill for that.

  39. et Al says:

    AP via Antiwar.com: NATO chief says 2 experts to attend Russia-Belarus war games
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/nato-chief-says-2-experts-attend-russia-belarus-193643837.html

    NATO’s chief says the military alliance will send two experts to attend Russia’s war games with Belarus, after Minsk invited them to take part.

    The war games, known as Zapad (West in Russian) and starting on Sept. 14, have raised tensions between NATO and Russia. Zapad will see thousands of troops and equipment from Russia and Belarus deployed near the borders with NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press on Thursday that Belarus said the alliance could attend five distinguished visitor days during the war games. Russia has invited NATO to one such visitors’ day but the alliance is still studying the offer.

    Stoltenberg said attending visitors days does not constitute real monitoring and that NATO is seeking “a more thorough way of observing” Zapad.
    ####

    An olive branch is extended, NATO is as usual ungrateful. Not that you would expect any more, but despite the words, the actions tell us that NATO accepted the invitations. In other news USAF F-15Cs normally based at RAF Lakenheath have taken over the Baltic Air Policing mission. Ohh, scary!

  40. Drutten says:

    An official notification has been released by the Kerch port administration:
    Запретить с 00.00 местного времени 28 августа 2017 г. до 00.00 местного времени 31 августа 2017 г. плавание всех кораблей и судов, за исключением кораблей и судов Военно-Морского Флота, кораблей и судов федеральных органов безопасности, а такхе судов, участвующих в технологическом процессе строительства объекта “Транспортный переход через Керченский пролив”, в запретном районе в районе строительства объекта “Транспортный переход через Керченский пролив” в акватории Керченского пролива, установленного приказом Минтранса России от 07.07.2017 №256 “Об установлении запретного для плавания района в районе строительства объекта ‘Транспортный переход через Керченский пролив'” и правил для такого района (далее – запретный для плавания район).

    The Kerch strait will be closed for commercial/civilian traffic starting Monday, until Thursday next week. This means that they are going to lift the first main span into place, as I said earlier. The bargers are there, the hydraulic jacks are there, everything’s set up and they were just waiting for a favorable time.

    Also, bridge today:

    • Drutten says:

      а также судов*, I wrote it off a .pdf document, perhaps a wee bit too fast.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yukie alert!!!

        Call the guardians of the international law rule of law, the USA!

        The evil Russians are blocking an international sea lane!

        Take the evil Moskali to the International Criminal Court!

        One eentsie-teeny weeny problem, though: Washington recognizes neither the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea nor the International Criminal Court.

        • Drutten says:

          They will block it for four days now (the lifting of the railway arch), and another four days (presumably) sometime in September for placement of the automotive arch.

          So, in total it’s about a weeks worth of shipping that gets delayed a little bit. I find it hard to believe that the losses will be all that immense, and even if it leaves an imprint it does so mostly for Russia as most traffic goes from/to/through Rostov-on-Don.

          Once the spans are in place, there will be no more restrictions and everything will be back to normal. Freight ships can only pass through that very fairway anyway, the rest of the straits are too shallow so the height and width of the bridge columns elsewhere are essentially irrelevant.

          One fun thing is that the Russian administration in Kerch actually softened up the regulations on maximum allowed vessel size in the straits, now allowing ships up to 252 meters in length to pass, and so it will remain with the bridge in place. Under Ukrainian rule, the cap was set at 215 meters.

          The draught limitations are however the same as they’ve always been, but may change in the future as the entire fairway will be re-dregded and deepened at some point ahead. Some re-dredging has already occured in the Kerch bay, to make sure none of the many barges used for construction get stuck (they often carry some very, very heavy loads). Still, it doesn’t matter much as the Azov sea itself is incredibly shallow all over, so even if you dug a Mariana trench in the Kerch strait it wouldn’t really matter much at the end of the day for said shipping.

          The height restrictions naturally imposed by a bridge is obviously a brand new factor to consider, but the only time any vessel reaching more than 35 meters over the surface (the projected vertical clearance of the bridge) in modern times has to my knowledge only been when tall sail ships like the Russian Kruzenshtern have sailed to Taganrog or so. The commercial traffic doesn’t involve any tall vessels per default, and the traditional Azov shipping bottleneck posed by the westernmost Rostov bridge (which is situated well before the harbor in said city) sports equal vertical clearance. So that’s essentially a non-issue as well.

    • Drutten says:

      Also, more from the Crimea! The new federal highway “Taurida” is being built across the Crimea now:

      Ukraine neglected Crimean infrastructure for some 20 odd years, and by neglecting I really do mean neglecting. The Russians have been busy since day one repairing, upgrading and replacing everything, from water pipes to roads, from gas pipes to power lines, from railroads to sea ports, airports, public parks, literally everything.

  41. Drutten says:

    Also, interesting: Russian air defense at their Tartus naval facility in Syria shot down an American RQ-21 “Blackjack” spy drone on May 27th, it’s been revealed.

  42. Moscow Exile says:

    Global 2017/18 wheat supplies increased significantly, primarily on an 8.6-million-ton
    production increase in the Former Soviet Union (FSU). Russian production is a record 77.5
    million tons, surpassing last year’s record by 5.0 million.

    Source: Former British North American Colonies (FBNAC):

    United States Department of Agriculture
    WORLD AGRICULTURAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND ESTIMATES
    August 10, 2017

  43. Moscow Exile says:

    Load of bollocks!

    And no, I haven’t watched it!

    • yalensis says:

      That actress doesn’t even look like the real Mathilde.
      Well, the actress is prettier, for starters.
      Mathilde was pretty too, just not AS pretty.

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – Who is this Vorontsov character? (played by Danila Kozlovsky) ?
        Is he Matilda’s ballet coach?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Nah, Vorontsov is an officer in the Imperial army who is also shagging the Russian/Polish ballerina Mathilda-Marie Feliksovna Kschessinskaya (Matylda Krzesińska) — as well as most of the Russian aristocracy, it seems. However, it is Vorontsov whom the dancer really loves, so he decides to bump the Tsesarevich off, in that he considers Grand Duke Nicky Romanov to be his main rival who lines up on a Saturday night with the rest of the gang, including two other Grand Dukes, outside Mathilda’s boudoir.

          By the way, in real life, Mathilda, clearly one of those girls who just can’t say “no”, was only 17 when Nicky was rogering her.

          The film makes out that not only was the heir to the imperial throne tomming this ballerina (he very likely was, in my opinion), but was still having a bit on the side with her after he had got wed to a Frumpy Frau, which he probably wasn’t in my opinion because I don’t think Nicky had the balls to do that.

          Anyway, Vorontsov receives a pardon off Mister-Nice-Guy Nicky, who is now Tsar Nicholas II of All the Russias etc., for attempting to murder him, and gets packed off for his troubles to a funny farm in order to cure him of his madness.

          Here is an official trailer of this “historical drama”. (Warning! Flash of ballerina’s left tit and bedroom scenes!!!)

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Nah, Vorontsov is an officer in the Imperial army who is also shagging the Russian/Polish ballerina Mathilda-Marie Feliksovna Kschessinskaya (Matylda Krzesińska) — as well as most of the Russian aristocracy, it seems.

            I don’t mean, of course, that Vorontsev is shagging the rest of the Russian aristocracy: I mean the rest of Russian aristocracy seemed to be having it off with Mathilda as well.

          • yalensis says:

            Thanks for recap, Exile.
            Looks like a real Hollywood ballbuster!
            I do plan to see it, but shall wait until it comes out on DVD.

            Woo – I just used the word “shall”, must be getting posh with my language.
            Most “urban” Americans would just say “I’m a ga see it….”

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Yeah, well most native speakers of English most often use the “going to” future form in colloquial usage, which form is often cognate with the “posh” usage of “shall”, meaning that the future action that the speaker is referring to is already pre-determined or pre-planned, i.e “Oh shit! One day, I’m gonna die!!!!” / “Oh deary me! Does this mean that one day I shall die?”

              I’m pretty sure that going to do/ gonna do is the most common spoken future form used in spoken English.

              The problem is that foreign learners of English are often instructed in most foreign English grammar books (and not a few published in countries where English is the native tongue of the vast majority of its population) that the modal auxiliary verb “will” is a “future tense auxiliary” verb. It is not.

              One can say:

              He’ll always do it;

              He’ll do it tomorrow;

              He”ll have done it by now;

              He’ll have done it some time last week;

              namely the speaker is sure of this action by implying that the willingness of the person to whom the statements refer is known by the speaker.

              All this results in many non-native speakers automatically using “will” when talking about the future, e.g. native speakers of Russian often come up with such expressions as:

              When I will see him, I will not talk to him;

              When he will finish his task, I will inform you;

              I will be late because I am in a traffic jam.

  44. ucgsblog says:

    Meanwhile in the US:

    “No matter how much you earn, getting by is still a struggle for most people these days. Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder. Overall, 71 percent of all U.S. workers said they’re now in debt, up from 68 percent a year ago, CareerBuilder said. While 46 percent said their debt is manageable, 56 percent said they were in over their heads. About 56 percent also save $100 or less each month, according to CareerBuilder. The job-hunting site polled over 2,000 hiring and human resource managers and more than 3,000 full-time employees between May and June.

    Most financial experts recommend stashing at least a six-month cushion in an emergency fund to cover anything from a dental bill to a car repair — and more if you are the sole breadwinner in your family or in business for yourself. While household income has grown over the past decade, it has failed to keep up with the increased cost-of-living over the same period.”

    Two things. First, the cost of medicine in the US is so fucking ridiculous that a dental bill, for someone with insurance, is the same as the cost of car repair. And by that they mean car repair for cars like BMWs, Fords, and the most crashable one – the Prius. Don’t buy the Prius.

    Second, 3/4ths live from paycheck to paycheck. That means that you have to make over $100k in the US to avoid living from paycheck to paycheck, and half of that goes to taxes and various insurances, to pay for things like wars in the Middle East, thanks for Afghanistan, Trumpo, the ever increasing cost of healthcare, (yes, it really does cost as much to repair your teeth as it does to repair a BMW after the crash,) and complete indifference on Capitol Hill to anything and everything that the people care about. Economy? Name a single bill that was passed. Healthcare? It’s like the fucking Democrats and fucking Republicans are playing the game of who can be most incompetent. But hey, Afghanistan’s getting fucked again – so that’s something, right?

    Sorry, just had to rant. I also see there’s a new article up – I’ll respond to it in a bit!

  45. Northern Star says:

    Ummm..To the Trumpster Stooges:
    “A group of psychiatrists has written to Congress to warn Donald Trump poses a “clear and present danger” to the world.”
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/psychiatrists-tell-congress-donald-trump-074136725.html

    I dunno….Will Trump be able to tweet while under sedation at Walter Reed??

    • marknesop says:

      Bush ignored assessments by panels of scientists, environmentalists and intelligence professionals. So, largely, did the press. But of course it suits them to make a big deal of this. Never mind – it’s a no-lose situation for those who view America throwing its weight around with a jaundiced eye. If the Democrats and their cronies are unsuccessful at impeaching and removing Trump, it will offer encouragement to further aspirants to the office who are outside the political class. If they are successful, it will be a slap in the face to the people who elected someone because they were fed up with politicians, and voting participation will fall off still further.

    • Jen says:

      Well the Yahoo article doesn’t say if the “group” of psychiatrists is a small group or a large group so we have no way of knowing if these psychiatrists are even representative of US psychiatrists generally. Are they even endorsed in their opinion by their professional associations? If the group or its opinions on Trump’s mental health are not endorsed or supported by the American Psychiatric Association, and if these psychiatrists are not prepared to go public with their qualifications and expertise (so that the public can judge for itself that these people are bona fide mental health professionals and not presumptuous quacks), then the group has no right to pass judgement on Trump’s health.

      The fact that this group’s leader Dr Bandy Lee is apparently working with Democrat members of Congress (and not with Republican members) to set up a panel to monitor and advise on Trump’s health tells us her group is just another political lobby group. I should think also the fact that much of Congress is already antagonistic towards the Trump administration and is looking for an excuse to impeach him on the grounds of mental or other incapacity under the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution is suspicious and in this context Dr Bandy Lee’s group and its letter represent a clear danger to democracy.

      • yalensis says:

        I don’t think a psychiatrist can assess a patient if that person isn’t actually their patient, and they haven’t spoken to them.

      • marknesop says:

        I guess this must be proof that the presidency drove Trump crazy. There were no gratuitous assessments of his mental health prior to that, and he doesn’t sound any different to me.

        • yalensis says:

          If anything, the job and the responsibilities of office have matured the man.

          Remember, this is the guy who used to grope women’s vaginas in public, call them the c-word, host a TV reality show. claim that polio vaccines caused autism, laugh at people in wheelchairs, tell voters at town hall meetings to “shut the f*** up”…

          The new Trump never does … actually still does … all of the above…
          Plus he has a hydrogen bomb now.

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