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. Northern Star says:

    Well I guess it’s time for a SEAL Team to pay a visit to Paris…maybe relatives of the ‘ordinary folk’ -Black, White and Latino/Latina who drowned in this disaster.

    • Matt says:

      Fair enough. Doesn’t make me a liar, however. Just mistaken.

      And it still doesn’t undermine my point that Venezuela was able to become Latin America’s richest country while having its entire oil industry privatized. Nationalization was only done in 1975.

  2. Warren says:

    Published on 29 Aug 2017
    Russia is collaborating with China to create an alternative of SWIFT system for international payments, along with establishing domestic credit card.

    • Zerg says:

      They can create alternative for payments with each other but it not alteranative because they need swift for interbank exchange with banks in swift system anyway. Domestically it can be replased with whatever homebrew solution and not issue, but it needed for interneational tranasactions, this is the point. And If you declared to be “cut” out of swift, it will not stop you for using it domesticaly but swift system international banks will just stop any transactions with you by whatewer means. All this talk is overhyped, will germany pay for gas by trucks with cash or what. When we at this point – cards is last of your problem. So swift will stay in any case. mir is old news

      • marknesop says:

        The idea was floated to cut Russia out of SWIFT, but it was quickly stepped on by the Americans themselves. Cutting Iran out of SWIFT was a transparently self-interested move by the United States to discourage an oil brokerage which avoided use of the US dollar as a benchmark – don’t want people getting ideas. Western states which got on board were sharply rebuked when the EU’s General Court ruled that sanctioning two Iranian banks was illegal and that they must be compensated for their losses, as no proof was offered that they were doing business on behalf of ‘the regime’.

        The USA is accustom ed to ignoring the law and pressing ahead when it suits it to do that, but the deciding factor was that sanctions and cutting Iran out of SWIFT were ineffective at achieving US aims. Iran suffered, but it was not stopped, and the whole exercise mobilized feeling against the USA. You could times that by ten in Russia’s case. So they won’t do it. But Russia becoming fiscally more self-reliant and the international business community becoming more suspicious of American manipulating are overall good things.

        And two large countries agreeing to remove the US dollar from their bi-national trades is a blow to dollar dominance.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Presumably a BRICS SWIFT could be developed to facilitate transactions among the members. It could be part of the effort to reduce the dominance of the US dollar in international trade. Presumably, other countries can be added resulting in more of a global payment system. As a total novice in such matters, I can state with complete confidence it will be a likely next step in the growing financial power of Russia, China and like-mined nations.

        • marknesop says:

          But so long as the USA and the NATO allies insist on sticking with SWIFT, they can insist that everybody who wants to trade with them must use SWIFT. Russia and its allies can use their SWIFT alternative to trade with each other, and even that is a victory of sorts because currently the USA gets to monitor virtually every financial transaction that is big enough for SWIFT, worldwide. What broad use of an alternative would lead to is a bifurcation of global trade, in which NATO and its buddies used SWIFT and Russia and its BRICS allies used the alternative. Only nations frozen out of SWIFT would not be able to use it at all, but they could still funnel their trade through a non-sanctioned ally, because Washington would not be able to see inside the alternative system and could not see where the trade originally came from before it entered SWIFT.

          The whole thing is the polar opposite of globalism and the concept of making it easier for world nations to trade with one another, all because the United States has to have the biggest dick in the locker room. It is the very essence of global childishness and that is becoming ever more frequently the way the USA chooses to behave. If it were not such a large economy and so attractive to trade, the rest of the world would tell it to just take its crybaby antics with it and go home. America has gotten hooked on being the World Boss, and just cannot let it go, while the economic work of decades is being wiped out and taking us back to the Middle Ages.

          • Patient Observer says:

            Yes, the key would be a non-SWIFT system to settle international accounts among BRICS at a minimum. The US can not harshly sanction China for participating in a non-SWIFT system and Europe needs Russia hence can not swing a big stick on this matter.

            Russia already has in place a national system for settling accounts. I do not know if China or the other BRIC members have their own systems but for the above to happen, the national system should (but probably not required) be in place for all members before an international system can effectively function.

            • marknesop says:

              China has a pretty good system, called UnionPay. It is fairly widely accepted, and consequently Russia could have switched to UnionPay and crippled Visa and Mastercard (in Russia) after their little political stunt of freezing their services in Russia. That was back when Obama was still strutting and beating his chest and telling anyone who would listen how Uncle Sam was going to fuck over the Russian economy. Russia settled instead for severely restricting Visa’s and Mastercard’s operations in Russia, making them pay security deposits of almost $4 Billion, and to establish a processing center in Russia so less processing is done outside the country. But those two companies still control the lion’s share of credit-card business in Russia, and they must still be making money or they would have folded their tents and gone.

          • kirill says:

            NATzO is always short term smart but long term retarded. Cutting Russia off from NATzO and minion financing gives Russia financial independence. Owing money to NATzO and having offshored deposits in NATzO controlled banks is simply stupid for Russia to allow. Decoupling from this financial domain is long term smart. Letting Russian banks grow by filling in the loan void also grows Russia’s GDP and allows Russia to properly diversify its economy. Thanks to Yeltsin and more recently the CBR monetarists Russia has been put in the role of a banana republic in terms of its finance industry (i.e. almost exclusive dependence on foreign loan markets).

            • Patient Observer says:

              Just a quick thought – Russia needed to achieve military security before divesting itself of the Western financial system. Note that Russia could not be conquered militarily at any point given its potent nuclear arsenal but the Western Empire could use its military to take away every natural or traditional ally (Serbia, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, some Latin American countries, etc.). China was way too powerful for the Empire to conquer but China had its own agenda which may not have fully overlapped with Russia’s.

              Now that Russia has turned back the Empire in Syria with an adroit combination of military and diplomatic means, Russia is much more assured that it will have foreign allies (more importantly those allies will have the confidence that the Empire can not willy-nilly destroy them). In other words, Russia and its allies will be able to form a trading block sufficiently large and diverse to allow a total decoupling from the Empire. Note the timing of the recent stories of Russia (including from Putin) leading the effort to overturn the Empire’s empire of financial dominance. Looking back, it all seems so logical.

  3. Warren says:

    Published on 30 Aug 2017
    Haute couture, private jets and super yachts: Russia’s all about conspicuous consumption. But the country’s also home to millions living below the poverty line. CNN’s Clarissa Ward explains how this huge inequality came about.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Ward is an Al-Qaeda propagandist – why is she not currently being tortured to death in a Russian black site?

    • Warren says:

      CNN is working overtime in its propaganda against Russia – it has put together a series of short propaganda segments to misinform ignorant people with short attention spans.

    • Zerg says:

      “Why so many oligarchs” Because this is language of your choice.
      Our successful businessmen — their wicked oligarchs

      “But the country’s also home to millions living below the poverty line. ”
      Are you some sort of commie? Coming from america it’s infuriate me.

      • yalensis says:

        That’s the maddening thing about American propagandists – they have absolutely no shame.
        On the domestic front, they’re against trade unions, they’re for austerity, and they worship the wealthy.
        When it comes to Russia, they’re all crocodile tears about poverty, the social infrastructure, and the rights of the oppressed.

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          ‘It seems clear that it pays to tell the truth when things are going badly, but it is by no means certain that it pays to be consistent in your propaganda. British propaganda is a good deal hampered by its efforts not to be self-contradictory. It is almost impossible, for instance, to discuss the colour question in a way that will please both the Boers and the Indians. The Germans are not troubled by a little thing like that. They just tell everyone what they think he will want to hear, assuming, probably rightly, that no one is interested in anyone else’s problems. On occasion their various radio stations have even attacked one another.’

    • marknesop says:

      Millennials, born in the 1980s, only have a 50% likelihood — a coin toss chance — of earning more money than their parents did, according to new research released this month from the Equality of Opportunity Project.

      Where’s that? Not Russia. Isn’t Clarissa Ward an American? Yes, she is. Who did the story on American income inequality? CNN; the same network Ward works for. How many working people in Russia today, whether or not they are judged ‘poor’ by this or that standard, earn the same wages or less than their parents did? Look at the graph of wage growth in Russia since 1992 – select ‘max’ for the value displayed to see the full range. Here’s the same data for the United States, although this one goes back as far as the 1960’s. If you prefer, just compare the same period – 1992 to 2017.

      American media is the master of “Look over there!!! Somebody’s doing something bad!!!” Consider how much worse America’s present economic performance would be if it were the target of directed sanctions which reduced its ability to borrow money. Washington lives on borrowed money, and could not function without it.

  4. Lyttenburgh says:

    Russian hackers strike again!

    “Putinbots, Olgino trolls, cluck-cluck-cluck!”

  5. Cortes says:

    Well, WADA ya know?

    Note how the alleged malefactor degrades within two short paragraphs into “Scotsman”; top stuff from the glorious diverse Guardian.

    • marknesop says:

      Stephen Swart, a New Zealand cyclist who rode for the British team ANC-Halfords in the 1980s, said in the book Seven Deadly Sins – about Lance Armstrong’s demise – that the riders were all rounded up and injected with an undetermined substance by Fraser. “We had complete confidence in this guy because we thought he knew what he was doing. Like if you go to the doctor when you are sick, you have confidence in him.

      Yeah, totally. You’re a professional athlete who is told from multiple sources on a regular basis that doping is illegal. But somebody musters you for an injection, and you just assume that nothing is amiss even though there is nothing wrong with your health. Nice try, muttonhead.

      • Cortes says:


        Those poor misguided innocent sportspeople.

        “I need a totally innocuous jag? By all means, Dr Frankenstein.


        Sorry, Dr Frongkensteeen.”

    • kirill says:

      Denmark has no legal authority to govern the Baltic Sea in international waters and it has no authority to tell Germany what economic links to establish outside the EU. This “moving to stop” is an inane delaying tactic. But it will not give the US enough time to build up its LNG export potential since the USA imports natural gas (i.e. it cannot cover its own consumption). American gas consumers will be mighty upset when their gas prices start to sky rocket because exports are creating a shortage. This BS about stopping Nord Stream II, is a transparent racketeering effort by US gas companies. Recall that the US tight gas industry has never stopped being in the red.

      • marknesop says:

        This is just Denmark trying to clamber on the negotiation bandwagon and trying to get the best deal for itself, in exchange for essentially nothing – it acknowledges that its planned interference is currently outside the law, and has no arbitrary power to change the law alone. It’s very likely a dog-whistle to the United States to apply pressure to Europe to give Denmark’s claim a favourable hearing. It may even have begun in Washington, which is getting close to the bottom of the barrel in attempts to stop the pipeline. Denmark is current chairman of the Council of Europe as of November, and hopes to parlay that position into a legislative steamroller. Good luck with that.

        • Jen says:

          What does Denmark get out of behaving as though it’s already the 51st state of the Union? Surely its interests should lie with Germany and the rest of northern Europe.

          • Trond says:

            Denmark gets most of its cheap gas from its former colony, Norway.

            So they are safe to bully others without losing much…. ?

            • marknesop says:

              They might be in the short term, but without major new discoveries, Norway’s supply is in irreversible decline. Norway realizes this and has been working already to make the shift from heavy reliance on energy exports to a broader-based economy.

              Norway could not supply Europe, so either the Danes are being selfish by dicing with greater Europe’s supplies, or someone is putting them up to it. I suspect the latter, mostly because it is so tiresomely typical.

              • Trond says:

                “Norway realizes this and has been working already to make the shift from heavy reliance on energy exports to a broader-based economy.”


                Norway and Saudi-Barbaria were the biggest sponsors of the Clintons, and their “humanitarian” foundation.

                Norway’s Statoil and other Norwegian oil companys (like DNO in northern Iraq) need help (pay for play) to be able to steal their oil.

                When Hillary lost the election Norway and Saudi-Barbaria suddenly stopped paying money to the Clintons….

                Norway wants to export and earn most of the profit from oil exported from iraqi kurdistan

                • marknesop says:

                  That’s interesting; I didn’t know that. But their domestic energy output is shrinking steadily. The country therefore has little choice but to diversify or become a dependent. Unless it can gain control over someone else’s energy exports – a possibility I had not considered.

          • marknesop says:

            Who knows what they might have been promised? I agree their interests should naturally align with Germany, and whether they realize it or not I expect Germany will straighten them out in short order. If Germany intended to oppose this pipeline, it would have dug in its heels long since – it did so only long enough to knock Austria out of the catbird seat. Now that Germany stands to be the overall big winner, it is cautiously supportive, and where Germany goes Brussels will follow. Not even Washington could successfully pressure Brussels to overrule Germany – not without a promise from Washington to underwrite EU bailouts for the next couple of decades.

    • marknesop says:

      I see; so they stipulate that they cannot stop it on environmental grounds, and therefore want the power to prevent increased gas flows to Europe for reasons of their own foreign policy. Isn’t that a little bit like…I don’t know….using energy as a weapon?

      I’m not very worried. Germany wants this pipeline, Brussels is sort of just going through the motions of being reluctant, and while I’m sure Washington and the ‘free media’ will throw its weight behind Denmark, it is not in its dreams going to be able to get in Germany’s way. Germany is Denmark’s main trading partner by a considerable margin, taking $11.8 Billion in Danish exports last year.

  6. kirill says:

    So the 27 million Soviet citizens who died during WWII had nothing to do with Nazism (fascism), eh? And of the tens of millions of deaths in the USSR, the 10 million civil war deaths are lumped in with all other, exaggerated, deaths caused by the state. Considering that the Bolshevik revolution was sponsored by the western powers (including the USA), the civil war is on their heads.

    • Zerg says:

      “WWII had nothing to do with Nazism (fascism), eh?”
      If not commies there will be no nazis, this is how that story goes, so ww2 is result of commies.
      By the way it’s the same as yours “Bolshevik revolution was sponsored by the western powers yada yada”

    • Jen says:

      For a blog calling itself “”, the site sure employs a very poor writer in John J Walter who among other things classes Afghanistan (which in the 1970s was actually starting to experience some benefits under socialist-inclined policies and programs like women’s education and employment in teaching, healthcare and the public service) as a “Communist” nation because in 1979 Kabul appealed for Soviet assistance to help fight warlords receiving weapons, fighters and money from the CIA.

      Saying that certain ideologies are responsible for killing people – as if ideologies had lives and psychologies of their own – is a poorly set-out argument. If an “ideology” can claim to have killed more people in the 20th century than any other, colonialism of the kind practised by Europeans across Asia and Africa before the 1970s as an ideology has a better claim. This would include most of the deaths suffered by people in Third World countries from starvation, disease, poverty, repression and natural disasters, because most of these causes resulted from or (in the case of natural disasters like extreme weather events, earthquakes and volcano eruptions) were magnified in their effects by colonial exploitation. To take one example, the Bengal famine that resulted in the deaths of about 2 million in the early 1940s was not just due to war and Japanese encroachment in Burma near British India, it was also due in large part to India being forced to continue supplying food to Britain in spite of suffering food shortages of its own.

      The deaths of millions in countries like the Soviet Union and China under Mao Zedong supposedly due to “Communism” also occurred in physically large countries with large populations. What proportion of these countries’ populations died as a result of “Communism”, vis-a-vis the proportion of people in other countries who died from other ideological causes, would have been more relevant to the argument, mangled as it already is.

  7. et Al says:

    Land Destroyer: Big-Pharma Novartis to Charge $475,000 for $20,000 Cancer Cure Funded by Taxpayers and Charity

    While Americans squabble over irrelevant political diversions, a revolutionary breakthrough in human healthcare has yielded its first FDA approval – a therapy that literally cures otherwise incurable leukemia.

    It is the first of many therapies that re-engineer human cells in living patients to reprogram more resilient immune systems and even repair damaged or aging organs….

    Stunning. Unbelievable. Distressing.

    I guess ‘Charity‘ is just another word in the land of the free.

    • niku says:

      A couple of counterarguments:

      (i) The one patented by Novartis is only its own form of the CAR-T therapy (perhaps with a purchased licence). Other researchers and firms are pursuing their own means of doing exactly the same thing.

      Juno Therapeutics ended a CAR-T study earlier this year after patients died from cerebral edema, or swelling in the brain. No patients treated with the Novartis CAR-T therapy have died from that complication, according to the company.

      (ii) The one cited treatment costed only $20,000 because it includes only the equipment costs. (as the article you linked states) There are many more factors contributing to the costs (capital investments for “mass production”, salaries, etc). In general, if many people use it, the capital costs can be distributed over all of them. And thus, in general, prices keep coming down.

      Though the Novartis therapy has shown extraordinary results in patients, questions remain about how the company will be able to manufacture personalized therapies quickly enough to get them to patients across the country. Novartis says it takes an average of 22 days to create the therapy, from the time a patient’s cells are removed to when they are infused back into the patient. (link above)

      (iii) I haven’t found out who Novartis bought out the licence/patent from, but you have to wonder why this person/firm sold the rights to Novartis at some point. Could it be because of the risks associated with an uncertain future?

      Also, Novartis has to recoup the costs of buying the licence from some other people/firm.

      The historic approval bodes well for rival companies Kite Pharma and Juno Therapeutics, which are also developing CAR-T therapies. Kite Pharma, which is awaiting FDA approval for its CAR-T therapy to treat a form of blood cancer in adults, was this week bought out by Gilead in a deal worth $11.9 billion. (link above)

      (iv) Then there are legal costs of doing new things. This is a new therapy. If things do not go well in the long-term, patients are going to sue Novartis. I assume it makes sense to see the costs as including a form of “insurance”.

      The insurance industry worldwide is still reeling from the delayed asbestos claims — even when the exposures happened before the long term adverse effects of asbestos were known.

      I personally have no love for large corporations. I just pointed out a few counterarguments, and I am sure many more can be made.

      • niku says:

        Lloyd’s is one of the greatest insurance firm in the world, and it was almost destroyed by the asbestos claims.

      • niku says:

        Another question to ask:

        Why do the charities fund only research, but not medicine manufacturing firms? (The customer advocacy groups can start their own firms.) The answer probably is that there is huge difference between research in the laboratory, and a final, usable, product. Most ideas which can be shown to work in the laboratory fail to work in “normal conditions”. This may not make sense, but it is true. (For one, you have to make the methods “idiot proof”.)

        A trivial example: patients generally can’t be expected to be disciplined enough in taking the medicines. You have to consider this before you market it. For example, if dose x of a drug is very helpful, but dose 2x is harmful, as far as I understand, the medicine would not be approved, because patients, now and then, would miss doses and take double the dose.

        I guess ‘Charity‘ is just another word in the land of the free.
        Is development of a new, path-breaking, drug a form of charity? The answer ought be yes.

        Your argument reminds me of something Bertrand Russell says. (I can find the link if you wish.) Suppose a doctor spends his life curing and looking after people, specially, say, poor people. But, if he “practices adultery”, the church would condemn him. (I think the church condemned the doctor who developed the use of quinine as a cure of Malaria too).

        I think it is enough that a new drug has been developed, which even according to your link, is a path-breaking way of solving hereto insolvable problems. But you condemn the people developing it (“the land of the free”), just because they are charging more money (for now) than what you presume is proper.

        > one of the greatest insurance firm
        one of the greatest insurance firms

      • niku says:

        One of the hallmarks of CAR-T: It has to nearly kill you if it’s going to save you.

        The treatment induces such sudden and severe side effects that it can take a small army of top specialists to keep patients alive while their newly engineered immune systems attack their cancer cells. The result: CAR-T remains so risky, so complex, and so difficult to manage [that is to say, so costly] that experts warn it’ll be years before it’s available to most patients who would stand to benefit[.]

        […] But that’s tricky because of the side effects. Education is critical: When any company rolls out a new therapeutic, part of its duty is to teach physicians how to appropriately use the product. This is exceptionally important with CAR-T therapy, said Dr. David Chang, chief medical officer of Kite Pharma.

        There is much more to be said, but even the above quotes show that the price Novartis has set is not outrageous. Later on, when the treatment becomes “regular”, the costs would fall.

        • Patient Observer says:

          You raised some good points although the counter-counter points from Jen and Kirill were well made. My comment relates to this:

          Is development of a new, path-breaking, drug a form of charity? The answer ought be yes.

          The standard definition of charity (to the effect of the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need per wikipedia) is not applicable. A broader definition does fare any better. The drug company is simply seeking a profit thus it is not charitable by any definition. Perhaps there is a backstory where some of the researcher were motivated by aspirations other than greed.

          Also, what would John Galt do? If John actually existed (and assuming he did not follow the typical career path of serial murder), he could develop a drug using other people’s money that would create personal enrichment while squeezing the last dime out of the patients. An extra kick would be if the drug puts the patient in excruciating pain. He may then invest in new consumer products that increase the prevalence of the cancer his drugs treat. Ayn Rand would be proud.

          • niku says:

            “I work for nothing but my own profit–which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs; I do not sacrifice my interests to them nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage–and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner.[…]

            “I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow men than you can ever hope to accomplish–but I will not say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognize the good of others as a justification for their seizure of my property or their destruction of my life. I will not say that the good of others was the purpose of my work–my own good was my purpose, and I despise the man who surrenders his. I could say to you that you do not serve the public good–that nobody’s good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices […]

            “If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own–I would refuse, I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every, power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being’s right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!”

            Atlas Shrugged.

            • Patient Observer says:

              Those quotes sent chills down my spine. The human Ayn Rand imagines do not and can not exist in such an exalted narcissistic state. John Galt would do exactly as described above if he were not sidetracked into murder and exploitation (think narcotics and sex trades). Why would it be any other way?

              Moreover, the hyper-narcissism of Randians rarely if ever produces anything of worth. The spark of creativity can not exist in the vacuum of narcissism in my opinion.

        • et Al says:

          Thanks niku! All very interesting points. My problem is that if charities take public, state and philanthropic money and make these breakthroughs, how can it be that big pharma can ride in and take its pick as is suggested in the article, though it is not 100% clear exactly what is going on?

          I understand that there are costs with ‘commercialization’ etc. but is going down the private route always as the best way to do it? It’s in their interests to pad out their expenses and stay one step ahead of the revolution such treatments will bring that would otherwise cause them serious problems.

          If part of this commercialization deal is that money is put back in to the charity by Novartis, then is that really what a ‘charity’ should be doing? After all it is not a private company with shareholders. Looks like having its cake and eating it. Looks quite wrong to me.

          • niku says:

            There is an argument which says that while the vast majority of research is public funded, the published results get locked behind a pay wall, and that this is wrong. (The costs of Journals’ licensing and subscriptions are often very high.) This, I find to be a very strong argument. A similar argument can be made that public funded research ending up being encumbered by patents is wrong.

            Anyway, it is evident that some mechanism is already playing a limiting effect in the profit drug firms make. As I said, why do the smaller firms sell the rights to the new drugs to the larger firms? Don’t they know that the profits to be made are substantial? Similarly, why do the consumer advocacy groups not start their own firms? I don’t know the mechanism which is playing the limiting effect, but I suggested some ways that may be happening.

            I assume that the technology in question has more potential (perhaps orders of magnitude more) than treating a certain form of leukemia.
            Probably true. My original argument was not so much that the suggested cost is right, but that no one should get outraged over it.

            You probably hate lawyers too. You may find the following useful.

      • Jen says:

        I think the issue is how did Novartis come to the conclusion that commercialising the gene therapy treatment warrants charging each potential patient at least US$475,000 for the treatment? Is Novartis prepared to demonstrate how the money will be used, how much will the company spend on the equipment needed or to be developed, and on the staff needed to use the equipment and the training these people might need. What was the process Novartis used that led the company to impose that level of payment, on what medical or business principles was that process based, and how can Novartis justify using those principles in its business analysis?

        The treatment used on Emily Whitehead cost US$20,000 at the time she received it (back in 2012) and Dr Carl June states that with commercialisation, the treatment should cost each new patient less than US$20,000 because it would be mostly automated and the conditions under which people would receive treatment are no longer experimental. Novartis only bought the licence to market and presumably help distribute the treatment.

        Note also that the gene therapy is intended to be a one-off treatment and the patient would not need repeat treatments: this structuring of the treatment in itself goes against most pharmaceutical companies’ current business models of managing the illness by requiring patients to keep returning for repeat treatments and thus contributing indefinitely to company profits.

        • kirill says:

          It is rather clear that $20,000 rapidly dropping to $1,000 or less with economies of scale is the price range that should be involved. Novartis is engaged in the “we are recouping our initial investment” BS. How about 90% of that recoup go to the government for funding the primary research that enabled this treatment.

          People have way too much faith in the magic of corporate development. In the case of medicine, the innovation originates through public funding of researchers. Companies do not support the whole system, by far. For the average pharmaceutical company, advertisement is one of the biggest costs and drug prices include these expenditures. It is sad, but public health care allows the private pharma industry to get away with an extortion racket. There is no hint of competition in this market like there is a semblance of in the car market. Almost any price contrived by pharma racketeers will be supported by hospitals and health care programs paying those prices without any haggling. You can see the same effect in terms of costs for syringes and gauze. One can get the same supplies from the distributors for 1/3 the price that is charged hospitals.

          • niku says:

            For two recent cases where pharmaceutical giants bought the rights of new drugs from smaller firms (for sofosbuvir and pirfenidone), the costs were 11.2 billion dollars, and 8 billion dollars.

            Let us assume that Novartis too simply bought out the patent from some smaller firm for 10 billion dollars. It has to recoup at least that much money (+interest). Lets assume that Novartis is going to make 400,000 dollars profit for every treatment (which is almost certainly too high an estimate, by the way). At that rate, it would have to treat 25,000 patients to merely recoup its investment. (Actually, given the time value of money, many more patients would be needed.) Are there so many rich Leukaemia patients in the US, who are willing to shell out such money for the expected increase in their life expectancy?

            You could say that if they decrease the costs, they would get many more potential patients. But, if there are more patients interested in it, there would not be enough doctors to treat them (see the last linked article).

            Part of the excessive medical costs in the US (compared to rest of the world) is no doubt due to wrong causes, but the other part is, in effect, US patients subsidising the medical costs for the rest of the world. At the government mandated prices patients pay for drugs in the developing countries, no new drug would be developed at all. Notice that no new drug is developed in these countries.

            • Patient Observer says:

              I am sure the Kirill will have a suitable response. I assume that the technology in question has more potential (perhaps orders of magnitude more) than treating a certain form of leukemia. In fact, the only justification for the investment would be if that were the case. So, the payback would not be calculated based on $400,000 times the number of rich people with leukemia.

              There is a division of labor in technology. The US has a very strong pharma industry. Other countries excel in other area (e.g. civilian nuclear technology for Russia). It would be a risky investment for other countries to seriously challenge the leadership of the dominant player as long as that dominant player is willing to sell its products at a reasonable price.

            • kirill says:

              Who sets the patent buyout prices? The logic here is circular, since the company chose to shell out some absurd figure, it then has the necessity and the right to pass this cost down to the consumer. My point about the public health care system applies here as well. Since all of these companies are basically guaranteed any price range they choose, they can spend grossly excessive amounts on buying out patents and each other. This is a non-market, with price distortion all the way up the chain.

              It remains a fact that essential research in medicine occurs on the public dime. But the system is rigged that these primary researchers have no say after their IP is acquired for a song by big pharma. From there it is off to the races with grotesque advertising budgets and buyouts to make the quasi-competitive oligopoly even more of a de facto monopoly. These companies spend billions sending doctors to “conferences” on cruise ships in the Caribbean and elsewhere where they peddle their drug “solutions”. There is simply no justification for such brazen corruption in publicly funded medical systems such as that in Canada. The Canadian federal government puts all of the research scientists it has on leash when it comes to even private attendance of conferences during vacation time. But the same clowns allow doctors to be lobbied by big pharma on junkets.

              The medical system is totally detached from reality in both the USA and Canada. Inflation in this sector is about 10% per year. Inflation in the rest of the economy is under 3%. Such price increases are simply unsustainable as they double every 7 years.

              Regarding this particular therapy. Gene therapy is nothing new and I don’t see any evidence for some new type of gene therapy technique here. This therapy is all about figuring out which particular molecular production pathways to target. This work was mostly done on public money. Most such fundamental research is done on public money. Big Pharma likes to re-introduced stale drug brands periodically so that they can jack up the price. That is the stellar research that is done in the magical private sector.

              • niku says:

                Since all of these companies are basically guaranteed any price range they choose, they can spend grossly excessive amounts on buying out patents and each other.
                Why ‘guaranteed’? Nobody is forcing the patients to buy the particular drugs. If someone thinks that $475,000 is too high a price to pay, he can just not use the therapy. (The patient may be needy, but patients’ “neediness” does not develop drugs.)

                My point was that at no point did someone do illegal things in this business. (i) In doing the research (e.g., the big firm sabotaging research in the small firm), (ii) in selling patents or licences, (iii) in setting the price. It is all merely “the working of the market”.

                Good arguments can be made about the patent system being broken or inefficient, but you haven’t made them.

                But the system is rigged that these primary researchers have no say after their IP is acquired for a song by big pharma.
                Not true. And, anyway, you could apply the same logic for scientists working in big firms too.

                Anyway, as I said earlier (and even your statement just above) shows that the smaller firms are getting paid heavily for this.

                From there it is off to the races with grotesque advertising budgets and buyouts to make the quasi-competitive oligopoly even more of a de facto monopoly.
                A common argument, but relevant here too: Why can you see the propaganda through (which makes you angry about it), but not “the people it is targeted to”? Are you, at least, confessing that you consider yourself far smarter than those people? (You too are not in the medical business, so you can’t say that you as an expert on the issue can see through, but the “common people” can’t.)

                Anyway, you will grant that advertising (and propaganda in general) works, as otherwise there would be no reason for the firms to engage in it. (The people doing that are not stupid, and you will obviously agree that they don’t wish to waste money.)

                These companies spend billions sending doctors to “conferences” on cruise ships in the Caribbean and elsewhere where they peddle their drug “solutions”. There is simply no justification for such brazen corruption in publicly funded medical systems such as that in Canada.
                I agree with this.

                Inflation in this sector is about 10% per year. Inflation in the rest of the economy is under 3%.
                This may be true.

                Regarding this particular therapy. Gene therapy is nothing new and I don’t see any evidence for some new type of gene therapy technique here. This therapy is all about figuring out which particular molecular production pathways to target.

                It is possible that the incremental advance from the licence and patents held by Novartis is not a big deal. (I know nothing about this.)

                The therapy, though, is revolutionary. It is, finally, “genetic engineering” and “personalized medicine” coming to the market place. The patients own T-cells are edited to fight the cancer.

              • niku says:

                About the “grotesque advertising [marketing] budgets”, as, I said, they are useful. A relevant quote:

                [Novartis’ CEO] acknowledges that Entresto [a new drug] got off to a slow start last year, partly because Novartis underestimated U.S. doctors’ hesitation to prescribe it, even after favorable clinical trials showed reduced mortality in patients who took the drug, compared with those who received older drugs known as ACE inhibitors.

                It turned out that Entresto needed to be marketed more intensively to cardiologists, and Novartis doubled its U.S. field of salespeople. “It is now on track,” Jimenez says. “When patients take the drug, they’re able to get off the couch, and that gives physicians more confidence to prescribe it to other patients.”


            • niku says:

              Lets assume that Novartis is going to make 400,000 dollars profit for every treatment (which is almost certainly too high an estimate, by the way).

              On further thought, a cost of $75,000 (a profit of $400,000) may not be a low estimate. Anyway, even if the whole of $475,000 were profits, nothing would change about my argument.

            • marknesop says:

              All very good and educational points, which are rarely examined in any sort of fair context in analysis.

            • niku says:

              “It is not clear what the break-even point for profitability is, as this is a very capital intensive endeavor,” said Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson, adding that Novartis is likely to cut the price of Kymriah for DLBCL patients.

              On Thursday Novartis said that its cost of goods per Kymriah treatment [the treatment in question] is confidential commercial information, but analysts estimate it could be as high as $200,000. […]

              Additionally, Novartis partner Oxford BioMedica, which supplies a key ingredient, may be due $100 million over the next three years, plus royalties on sales.

              Furthermore, competition is on the horizon. Gilead Sciences this week announced an $11.9 billion deal to buy Kite Pharma to gain access to a similar drug, while Bluebird Bio and Juno Therapeutics are all working on their own CAR-T therapies.

              [And] British health authorities […] had said that up to $650,000 might have been justified if the treatment added years to children’s lives.

              [Also] Novartis estimates that only 600 ALL patients a year would be eligible for Kymriah, making the initial pool for the treatment relatively scarce and worth less than $300 million.


  8. et Al says: Russia to ‘Respond Harshly’ to Latest US Measures

    Russian Diplomats Scramble to Empty Buildings by Saturday Deadline

    …the real question is the Russian reaction to the latest move, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning that they would “respond harshly” to the latest US measures. Other officials warned the US was starting what could be a spiral of tit-for-tat measures…

    I’m off to the kitchen to make some serious popcorn.

    • Zerg says:

      “Mutual recognition that this is a problem, however, doesn’t look like it’s going to keep either side from taking more measures.”
      Well, Russia initially provided de-escalation, but USA is just batshit crazy, so it’s unfair to equate sides of this exchange.
      Where it goes? break off diplomatic relations? Only hope is “Russia is weak”, i.e. more sane, but public at home will be unhappy with more retreats even strategically reasonable.

      Мы долго молча отступали,
      Досадно было, боя ждали,
      Ворчали старики:
      “Что ж мы? на зимние квартиры?
      Не смеют, что ли, командиры
      Чужие изорвать мундиры
      О русские штыки?”

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Zerg, I don’t think that you were active previously here, otherwise I’d have remeber you. Judging by your excellent quotation of from Lermontov’s “Borodino” can I assume that you are also a Russian?

        • Evgeny says:

          Zerg, also, if I may ask a personal question, does your choice of a nickname reflect any kind of life philosophy?

          (I wouldn’t ask such a question, but one my friend, a PC gamer, told me he self-identified as a Zerg, because he believed in evolution as a means to adapt to the changing environments of one’s life…)

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “I wouldn’t ask such a question, but one my friend, a PC gamer, told me he self-identified as a Zerg,”

            Was he serious? Like – for real? I mean, I knew that these “theriantрropes” exist everywhere in the Net and among the geeks, that some of them “identify” with pretty much everything, be it drags, cats of sea cucumbers. Is your friend like this?

            One of my friends also likes Zergs more than any other faction of SC1-2, he also collects the Tyranids from WH40k and in HoMM he plays… Necromancers. Why? Doesn’t like humans much 🙂

            • Patient Observer says:

              I have absolutely no idea what you guys are talking about. Time to put an LP on the Victrola and have a glass of wine. 🙂

              • yalensis says:

                I’m with you, P.O.
                Never played a computer game in my life, and never will.
                And never heard of this Zerg thing, something about people becoming animals, is that what it is ??
                I heard of “furries” — people dressing up like animals, but this seems like a step beyond that. Sort of like devolution, growing tails and fins and stuff?
                Simple question – why?
                Of course, when it comes to Evgeny, I truly like the man, but now makes me wonder why he chose a porcupine as his avatar! I really hope he didn’t choose to devolve into that species, because then I wouldn’t be able to give him a hug – sob!


                • Evgeny says:

                  Haha. Yalensis, yes, this is about a series of computer games — StarCraft and StarCraft 2 — which are real-time strategies where you choose one of three races (Zerg, Terran (i.e. humans) or Protoss) and try to destroy other players on the map using a combination of warfare and economy development.

                  There are a plenty of youtube videos of pro players showing their best skills in this game. Pro gaming is a big thing. Especially in South Korea. You could watch any video, if you feel interested at this point.

                  It’s… completely unrelated to transhumanism.

                  My avatar is due to my nickname, “landak”, which I use at some Russian forums, and which means a “porcupine” in Malay. I actually wanted a nickname which meant a “hedgehog”, but since hedgehogs are not endemic to Malaysia, I settled for a porcupine.

                  Years ago, after being rejected by my first love, I felt isolated and chose a nickname and an avatar which reflected those feelings. I have learnt since that time that one should never seek isolation. But hey, who says porcupines are not social animals? 🙂

                • Lyttenburgh says:

                  “And never heard of this Zerg thing, something about people becoming animals, is that what it is ??”

                  Zergs and Tyranids exemplify the sci-fi trope of “Space Bugs” (actually – they are not insectoid) out to wipe out the humanity, first memetically codified by R. Heinline in his “Starship Troopers”. Zergs and Tyranids are the hive-mind possessing living biological weapon out to gobble all biomass they can lay their claws on:

                  There are some people who argue (half-)seriously, that both of them embody the pinnacle of the evolution, and that the Humanity must strive to become like them.

                • yalensis says:

                  Thanks for explanations, Evgeny and Lyt.
                  Glad to hear you guys are not trans-humanists.
                  Although…. I often wish that humans could grow wings and fly.
                  It would certainly make the morning commute a lot easier!

            • Evgeny says:

              Lyttenburgh, well, we are not really close, just chat occasionally. He has some weird ideas, but otherwise he’s mostly enthusiastic about PC games and his work.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                My son and heir to all that I possess is always playing bloody Dota 2 and goes to tournaments. He and his fellow Dota 2-addict chums watched the world Dota 2 grand finals or whatever somewhere or other in Moscow the other month.

                He drives me bloody mad with his shouting at the computer screen during the night whilst playing with folk on the other side of the world.

        • Zerg says:

          Yea l’m Andrey from Vladivistok() and long time and most of the time(as I prefer) lurker, so I somewhat familiar with most personalities in this “sphere”. This nickname is semirandom, not represent anything and I’m do not attached to it.
          This peice of Lermontov is comment on “Russia is weak” proponents, how it’s nothing new, even attitude at home forums. “Strait of Stalin” solution is tempting. But other side need to consider that historicaly even if Russia is retreating it’s not mean you are winning. Example of this paradigm in art is widely known (in narrow circle) composition “Russian Road”/
          Thanks Mark for cleaning off my mess, I wanted to ask you for that but did not dare.

          • Patient Observer says:

            I, too, wonder if the US intends to force a break in diplomatic relations (over alleged Russian meddling) joined in by the usual weenies. This would be an extreme move but it would go toward isolation of Russia, not because it is weak but, of course, because it is strong. By the way, welcome.

            • et Al says:

              … if the US intends to force a break in diplomatic relations…

              To what goal, PO, to what goal?

              Judging from US behavior over the UN I-ran deal, now the US-South Korea trade pact, the plan seems to be a) bellicose and threaten vague consequences to see if you get decent concessions for free; b) stretch the word and the spirit of the agreement to the point that you force the other side to react (hopefully emotionally) and then take this as them breaking the agreement/not listening/whatever and saying the ‘deal’ is no longer being upheld by them. Of course, the US doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, but that never stopped it or its allies doing whateverTF they want to do before.

              I suspect the US wants an excuse to turn its ‘temporary’ bases in eastern Europe in to permanent ones, even though they are in essence permanent as the infrastructure is being built, the equipment is mostly there/stored and it is only the rather expensive rotation of NATO troops every six months that changes. This shows that they haven’t given up on containment, but are just trying to increase it by small (supposedly unnoticeable) steps, allowing them to present a fait accompli to the Germans for example.

              The US’s problem is not tearing up agreements, but convincing or silencing their allies from protesting such actions. Push back from China or Russia is one thing and can be sold as ‘what did you expect? In China’s case, the supposed agreement over North Korea which the US broke by sanctioning Chinese companies even though China kept up its end of the bargain, but allies are a completely different story. The problem with ripping up agreements is the assumption that you can forge the new ones to your liking, except China is now a very Big Boy (as ‘davidt’ pointed out in an earlier post in response to one of mine). All bets are off. It’s reckless gambling.

              On one hand I kind of understand that the Republicans and some Democrats think that O-bomber was far to passive and should have pushed back much earlier, so now they have the opportunity to do so even if it may be too late. It looks like a desperate last chance attempt to hold back the tide. It will fail, but at what price? The US has a history of trying to be clever and cocking things up (don’t we all?), but the consequences could well be huge, far more so for its allies who take most of the hit.

              • davidt says:

                As Larchmonter445 said elsewhere: “Generally, the US never has a strategy. They have an imperative, hegemony, and an ideology (Russophobia suffices).” Well, “never” is an exaggeration. By the way, did you read Crooke’s most recent article on Netanyahu’s poor bet on Syria:

                • et Al says:

                  Interesting, thanks! It ties together various pieces I have read elsewhere including the Daniel Levy piece I posted earlier. It’s sad to see Israel throw away its reputation over the last twenty odd years completely. They could have had a deal in the way that Northern Ireland Agreement was hammered out (however imperfect it may be), but whacking PM Rabin put paid to that. Even Ariel ‘Sabra & Shatila’ Sharon recognized towards his end that the game was up and the sooner a settlement was made, the better it would be for Israel.

                  A good general knows when to stop fighting. Sharon remembered this too late, Nut &Yahoo wasn’t interested, only his own vainglorious political career counted, keeping the Palestinian issue bubbling and selling himself as the only politician who could ‘save Israel’ by holding together a coalition. What a shit. It is already well on the way to becoming just another middle eastern state with ropy politics and rights, and has lost almost all the respect it has ever garnered. As the US’s influence in the world diminishes, relations with other states become more important and even essential, but it has all been just thrown away. Willfully.

                • davidt says:

                  Yes, I think what you say, and said earlier, is very reasonable. Successive Israeli governments haven’t tried to find a fair or sensible solution/compromise- perhaps one doesn’t now exist. Unlike most problems between states, the Israeli-Arab one seems quite intractable.

              • Patient Observer says:

                In answer to the question why the US may want to break diplomatic relations with Russia, I don’t have a good answer; just suppositions. The break would be preceded by many provocations with assumed symmetrical responses from Russia. The break in relations would be viewed as “the last straw”, not an end in itself.

                The blockage of RT or Sputnik would likely come first along with a total trade embargo. Europe would be in a terrible predicament given its need for Russian gas but the US will ride to the rescue with LNG. Economics would no longer matter as Russia must be stopped before it’s too late! As I said earlier, I don’t have a good answer, just speculation on likely events.

                • marknesop says:

                  The USA could easily market LNG to Europe – if the Europeans wanted to pay higher prices for it – without making a dent in Russia’s market. There is no way ever that US LNG could substitute for Russian supply, nor could anyone else on earth at the same price.

                  Hopefully Russia finally learns a lesson from this hostility – America smiles in your face when it thinks there is a chance it can gain dominance over you and achieve a relationship which is on its own terms. If it perceives that will not happen and you are big enough to be a threat to its global reach, it will turn on you in an eyeblink. A new leader will not change anything there.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            This June, during Pushkin’s anniversary and the general stuff happening all across the world, we (me and friends) attempted to imagine, what it would be like if the pupils of the Lyceum in Czarskoye Selo in general and Pushkin in particle had access to the modern social media in 1812 during the invasion of Napoleon. 12-14 year olds…12-14 year olds never change…

            #AlexanderIsCuck, #КутузовВведиВойска (later – #КутузовВведиВойскаСука), #JeSuisBorodino, #BonaparteLaLaLa, #DeTollyIsGerman – and that only few vatniks/zipunniks“ among the pupils.

            More likely, most of them will start kvetching about uselessness of resisting such progressive, free and Enlightened country as France, which, together with the European Civilized Countries ™ marches on to bring Egalite and Liberte to the blighted wastes of Ce Pays. That should we resist, the entire Civilized Europe will stop buying Russian bread, flax and hemp.

            Besides – czar Alexander I is illegitimate ruler, compared to the former general, former consul and the current self crowned Emperor Bonaparte. Who if not Napoleon is the best friend of the shy and conscientious early Russian intilligent, who risks his life daily reading Voltaire and Russo? Besides – Napoleon invaded Russia only in self defense, after much sable rattling by the perpetual Aggressor Nation (France, as any liberal knows, never invaded anyone – it just conducted Enlightened Intervention to spread Freedom). And what about Russian corruption? Appalling , totally appalling! Those money spent on the army in defense of Russia would be better spent on the building of new (French) operas and (again – French) bordellos.

            After the War, these young, talented and very opinionated authors would have written gigabytes worth of books, “explaining”, how such primitive and barbaric country as Russia defeated such nice and civilized chap as Napoleon. All the tropes were already tried and tested. “Won not Thanks To, but Despite Of”. “Only due to Weather”. “Russian artillery was so primitive, that the artillerists had only one cannon for two of them”. “Drowned the enemy in corpses (Kutuzov said that peasant women will birth new ones anyway)”. “Arakcheiev was in charge of zagrad otriads during Borodino battle, shooting with grapeshot all who tried to retreat”. “Won only thanks to British lend-lease ”.

            P.S. In 1822, during the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the War, very popular in tight circles of the “admirers” of Russia low-key magazine “La Pluie” would as their readers, should the Russian army abandon Maloyaroslavets and do not fight for it, thus saving countless lives.

          • yalensis says:

            Welcome, Zerg!

            Since you live in Vladivostok, I just have to ask you the question, whether or not you ever met celebrity goat Timur?

          • marknesop says:

            It is my pleasure and you are welcome. I love Vladivostok; it’s a long time since I have been there but I am anxious to go back.

  9. et Al says:

    Neuters via Uzbekistan removes 16,000 people from security blacklist

    Uzbekistan has removed about 16,000 people from a 17,000-strong security blacklist of potential Muslim religious extremists, its president said on Friday, in what appears to be part of efforts to pursue more liberal policies in the ex-Soviet republic…

    …Mirziyoyev, elected president last December, took control of Central Asia’s most populous nation last September after the death of veteran strongman ruler Islam Karimov who had tolerated no dissent and cracked down hard on Islamists…

    Convertible currency followed by this? Strange things are afoot by the hand of the Wizard of Uz.

  10. et Al says:

    Neuters via Tajikistan agrees to more intelligence exchanges with China

    …“Both sides will strengthen communications between defense, security and law enforcement departments and deepen intelligence exchanges,” it said.

    China’s plan to rebuild the ancient Silk Road by reconnecting trade routes from its borders into Central and South East Asia, dubbed the Belt and Road Initiative, has raised new security concerns for the country and its companies. ..

    What took so long?

  11. et Al says:

    AFP via Bid for UN vote on Mali sanctions gains momentum

    …Russia, a veto-wielding council member, warned the peace deal could collapse if the council endorses the request and sides with the government, which is one of the parties to the peace deal.

    “We are always against the sanctions regime, especially in this particular situation, when one of the parties to the agreement on peace and reconciliation asks for sanctions against the other two parties,” said Russian Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev.

    “When one party asks for another (to be sanctioned), we can expect a collapse of this agreement,” he added….

    What is this addiction to meddling that only leads to worse things happening? Is this €µ stamping his ‘credentials’ as a big foreign policy hitter, regardless of how disastrous the consequences may be? Apparently nothing has been learned.

  12. Northern Star says:

    “Amid mounting military and diplomatic tensions between the US and Russia, the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday that the American Congress has taken the first steps toward Washington’s annulling of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.”

    “Robert Montgomery • 3 hours ago
    In his interviews with Oliver Stone, Putin went to great lengths to point out that he would take the nullification of the INF treaty as the ***tripwire for nuclear war***. Stone pressed him on why this was the tipping point and Putin explained that it signaled an intent to use short and intermediate range nukes to attack Russia. He stressed that he had no intention of letting this happen. The German bourgeoisie can fret all it wants but it knows it is helpless to stop this, just as it was helpless to stop the recent sanctions that clearly violated Germany’s sovereign rights.”

    Stooge (moron) Trumpsters :

    Keep strokin’ the Orange moron’s dyed calico coat

    Maybe you’ll be fortunate enough to be mercifully vaporized as opposed to a lingering death from third degree burns and traumatic amputations.

    • Patient Observer says:

      At this point, the US leadership (which Trump is hardly a voice much less a force) seems intent on putting every form of pressure it can on Russia – military, economic, diplomatic and propaganda. Perhaps its a death by a thousand cuts effort. One aspect of their thinking is the assumption that Russia MUST be weaker than the Soviet Union simply because of the reduced population and resources. Peeling away Ukraine was a big factor in that thinking. In their mind, if they defeated the Soviet Union, how hard can it be to defeat Russia?

      Russia has many counter strategies such as its operations in Syria and restructuring the Middle East in general. The China/Russia cooperation is another. Dedollariztion is yet another. But, I want to mention one strategy simply because of its audaciousness. An asymmetric response to short/intermediate nuclear missiles in Europe is their autonomous nuclear powered drone torpedo. That weapon is reputed to be armed with a 100+ megaton warhead. A handful of them would devastate large sections of both US coasts where the intelligentsia, Starbucks analysts, neocons and assorted Clintonian liberals call home.

      Russia has extended the triad of nuclear deterrence into a qua-ad. This fourth leg of deterrence seems even more immune to defensive actions than ICBMs. The US leadership would need to commit mass suicide if they pursue nuclear war which I don’t think they would do.

      BTW, do a search on underwater nuclear explosions to gain an idea of how devastating such a weapon would be.

      • et Al says:

        These moves were already afoot under O-bomber. Russia has pulled out of the Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) treaty as the West has refused negotiation, preferring to lock in its advantage despite the complete change of circumstances*. Russia also heavily outnumbers the West in tactical nuclear weapons, though how many exactly, quality and deployability seem to be a bit vague. The B61-12 tactical nuke is one strand of the US’s ‘response’, and it seems to me that pulling out of the INF is another. Is Washington dumb enough to play chicken with Russia? Unfortunately YES.


      • Northern Star says:

        “That weapon is reputed to be armed with a 100+ megaton warhead. A handful of them would devastate large sections of both US coasts where the intelligentsia, Starbucks analysts, neocons and assorted Clintonian liberals call home.”

        Yup……I live in upstate NY..maybe I would survive so as to watch the ‘Breaking News”
        coverage of the horrific disaster elsewhere….including live interviews with all the erstwhile warmongers shittin’ their pants (dresses) and pleading for a ceasefire…

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t know who you think is a Trump fan here. For my part, I have never been. Moreover, most of this is not even Trump’s decision-making, but the result of forcing him down ever-narrowing corridors until there is only one choice. The difference is that Hillary would not have had to be coerced into war – she would have embraced it gladly, knowing that this was always America’s destination. If we can’t have it, then nobody will have it – so long as we have the power to wreck everything, we’re never powerless.

      The deep state which has its hand up the back of Trump’s shirt thinks that Russia is bluffing, and that when it gets time to pop the covers off and let fly, they will back down. They won’t. A handful of people in Washington who fancy themselves the greatest global strategists ever born is holding us all hostage to the world’s biggest game of chicken.

      • Northern Star says:

        “A handful of people in Washington who fancy themselves the greatest global strategists ever born is holding us all hostage to the world’s biggest game of chick”

        MFs ..flirtin’ with disaster!!!

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      There’s hope.

      There’s help.

      Please take it before you blog yourself to death 😦

    • marknesop says:

      Trolling, trolling, trolling….raw hiiiiiidddde!

    • rkka says:

      “This week is the 78th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, signed Aug. 23, 1939. This was the lit fuse guaranteeing that the Second World War broke out precisely when it did, where it did, and why it took on the geopolitical shape that it did. In less than a week, Hitler’s tanks rolled into Poland, igniting the bloodiest war in history.”

      The Nazi attack on Poland was scheduled for the morning of 26 August, 1939. The M-R Pact was signed on 23 August, 1939. Yet, for some reason, on 25 August 1939, Adolf cancelled the attack on Poland, scheduled for the very next morning. So if the M-R Pact was so important to the beginning of the war, why did Adolf cancel the attack on Poland on 25 August?

      Inquiring minds want to know!

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “The Nazi attack on Poland was scheduled for the morning of 26 August, 1939.”

        To this occasion, I re-read just recently a portion from Guderian’s memoirs concerning the invasion of Poland. Ass-covering and cheap rhetoric aside, he claims to be summoned to the Pomeranian border of Poland 22 August 1939. The official reasons were “To prepare the defense of the Imperial border against Polish invasion”. Guderian noticed that he has under his command 1 tank division and 2 motor-rifles ones. The Poles, according to intel, had 3 infantry (non mechanized) division and 1 cavalry (horse) division. Also the intel reported that the Poles were digging trenches all over their side of the river. The very same day, the HQ laid the cards bare for him: “Did you buy into this joke, Heinz? Bu-ha-ha! Not, of course not – we don’t plan to defend. You have 3 days whip up your units into a proper shape”.

        It was a this moment when Guderian shat a brick. His two sons were also in the save army, proably, this also contributed. Anyway, even after the cancelation of the attack, he kept fretting (or so he writes), claiming, that, still, that’s too early. Not once in the coming month would he think “what will USSR do?”. He was much, much more afraid the repeat of the Great War with France and Britain invading in support of Poland from the West.

        P.S. Yes, he mentions brave Polish cavalry trying to attack his tanks. Twice!

        ^Totally legit, +100500%!

  13. Cortes says:

    In Lavrov’s shoes, I’d be tempted to specify that any and all ingresses and egresses of accredited US diplomatic personnel must have landfall or departure in Murmansk or Vladivostok. With overland travel therefrom or thereto.

  14. Matt says:

    Why doesn’t the Kim mafioso family want reunification with the South? It would only deliver benefits to the people of NK. And why are people brainwashed there with with the world’s most disgusting cult of personality, with the Kim family being treated like demi-gods? And why isn’t it a democratic country, like its Southern sibling, where mass demonstrations peacefully ousted a corrupt leader?

    The reason is very simple: reunification would cause the Pyongyang elite class to lose its special privileges. They’d be worthless amongst the South Korean elite class, so they want to keep their positions of power by oppressing millions of people. Who is the only one that can stop this? America. And that’s why Kim is building nukes and ICBMs: not to protect the people of North Korea he loves and helps so such, but to protect his regime.

    Regime change would be a most wonderful thing in North Korea. It’s best if it happens internally, but external regime change would be fine too.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Thank you for sharing. Someone will get back with you to address your concerns.
      – the office of no one gives a damn what you think

      (it was just too funny to pass up).

      • Special_sauce says:

        Here’s an interesting experiment you can perform in your own home with common household items. Google the following: Kim Jong un wants. That’s it – Kim Jong un wants. A torrent of mental abuse will fill your browser from the Clintonian media and the Trumpist side. Our Matt would feel at home. The Clintonians are all oh Trump is appeasing the Brutal, yet chubby, tyrant, arggggh. The Trumpists cry stand your ground! VALLEY FORGE! Politico calls him the young, hermit King. Literally, King. Oh, no purple prose there, nosirree! Now you tell me what Kim Jung un wants. Why don’t the powers that be post an actual article from NKorea, translated, so we can all ridicule the man to his virtual face. Perhaps because the real narrative is precisely the opposite of what Google “discovers”. Lol, it’s not like that would be the first time that ever happened \sarc off

        • Special_sauce says:

          By “real narrative”, of course, I mean the only one that makes sense. Reconciliation with the South with Merka squirming on the side lines. Imagining that Kim wants to drag this out a la NYT, Businessinsider, Washpost yaddida yaddida does not compute

        • Patient Observer says:

          The internet access is very slow where I am taking a short Labor Day break (Labor Day no longer has any meaning in this country other than a day off from labor). I searched “What does North Korea want?” and this article was on top:

          It was was not as horribly done as most such articles as evidenced by these statements:

          Since coming to power in late 2011, Kim Jong-un’s priorities have been focused consistently on two simple objectives of military modernization and delivering economic prosperity for the North Korean public.

          Mr Kim’s nuclear and missile testing ambitions are also an expression of identity politics. The legitimacy of the Kim dynasty’s political leadership is rooted in a narrative of defence against an implacably hostile United States.
          For the country’s older generation that recall US actions during the war, when virtually every urban centre in the North was obliterated by American bombing, this narrative is a convincing one and is routinely reinforced for the wider population in the state’s daily political messages.

          the North’s motivation is a rational assessment of the country’s strategic interests. The experience of Libya and Iraq is a reminder to Pyongyang that the only guarantee of national survival is the possession of a credible weapons of mass destruction capability.

          The article also omits serious violation of agreements by the US and has other biased slants but at least it got some thing right.

          One other comment – NK has a small population and is an extremely mountainous country offering a difficult agricultural environment. For such a small country to achieve as much as it has in virtual isolation (whether one agrees or disagrees with the objectives) is impressive to me. To forestall a blizzard of comments from our resident troll, the foregoing is strictly my personal impression and I will not entertain reading a series of articles with titles such as “NK- threat or menace?”

          • et Al says:

            So far as I have seen, the US media hasn’t roundly condemned him as ‘Hitler’, something they do in unison in the run up to American military action. Could this be because North Korea has nukes and doesn’t believe a single word out of Washington?

            I say give nukes to kids. It’s the only way to stop bullying!

          • Jen says:

            I would add also that the US and South Korea stage massive military exercises each year. These exercises are held during NK’s rice-planting and rice-harvesting seasons, when NK army conscripts and reservists would normally be allowed to go home and farm. If the army cannot go home and farm because of these exercises (which now include staged attacks on NK leaders including Kim Jong-un himself) then the country either has to drag students out of school and college to sow or harvest rice or risk another famine.

            The March 2016 drill involved 17,000 US soldiers, 300,000 SK soldiers and a small Australian and New Zealand contingent: that’s a huge number of participants for a “military exercise”.

            Investing in a nuclear deterrence policy such as NK has done might be seen as the rational thing to do, not only economically but strategically: having a nuclear bomb has so far stopped the US and its allies from invading NK and at the same time allowed the NK government to spend money on other priorities and not on training the army and equipping it with weapons that would be useless in a full-scale attack.

            • Patient Observer says:

              All in all, NK has been a rational force. The personality cult is not my cup of tea but I think that the underlying NK society may have positive aspects as evidenced by their stability, ability to handle adversity and making some remarkable technical achievements. I would not want to live there but I would say that about a majority of nations as well.

        • Matt says:

          If demigod Kim cared about his people, he would immediately allow reunification with the South. The North would experience double-digit economic growth (at least ~11% by some estimates) and the people of NK would benefit greatly.

          Why hasn’t he allowed reunification? Why has he ignored the new Moon administration’s repeat overtures towards him, including the prospect of re-starting economic activities, which the South Koreans are still proposing, and which would even be in breach of U.N. sanctions? North Korean state media has frequent commentaries in which it ridicules the Moon admin’s attempts to reconcile with them.

          The reason for all this is very simple and is the same reason why Kim has instructed his scientists to develop nuclear weapons, and is for the same reason as to why there is such a disgusting personality cult in the country: the regime, or, this case, The Family, wants to retain its power. The prospect of allowing the U.S. to make Kim meet the same fate as Gaddafi (with a pole shoved up his *ss) or forcing the Kim family to stop its dynastic rule and adhere to democratic principles, sharing power with others in a unified government, is simply too much for Kim to handle.

          This is what North Korea wants: a guarantee of its despotic regime’s existence and survival. They are happy to suck the human capital of their people and undergo heavy sanctions to attain this.

          • Patient Observer says:

            When will these reruns end? But this comment was, shall we say, unusual:

            <i.The prospect of allowing the U.S. to make Kim meet the same fate as Gaddafi (with a pole shoved up his *ss) …is simply too much for Kim to handle.

            Yeah, some people are funny that way.

            • Patient Observer says:

              oops on the closing >

            • yalensis says:

              Matt’s implicit support of the Al Qaeda jihadists and his gloating at Gaddafi’s end shows (once again) just what kind of sociopath we are dealing with.
              Gaddafi was basically a good man who tried to do right by the Arab and African peoples. Even a bad man doesn’t deserve such an end, let alone a good man.

              P.O., I think you have must been right, and even hit a nerve, when you speculated about Matt’s sexual abuse as a child.
              What else could explain such a determined sociopathy and zeal to inflict harm on others?

              • Patient Observer says:

                Yes, it’s a terrible crime and victims need a lot of support to overcome the consequences. I partially agree with Matt on one aspect, I nor anyone else can help him through this venue. We just need to deal with the consequences relative to this blog which includes zealotry and monomania. Pavlo is a little harsh on this topic but he did provide a link to a resource that could help Matt.

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to PO:

                  Once again, if I were a psychopath like you who trivialized child sexual abuse to mock people online, I could very easily label you a child rapist, who sexually abused his own children. But you see, my hatred for those I disagree with does not mean I trivialize such matters.

                  But I want you to keep posting these troll posts. It becomes more and more difficult to label me a troll when Pavlo is busy spamming links to child sexual abuse treatment websites and you are pretending to be “helping” someone online for abuse they never experienced.

                  As I said before: it only diminishes you in the minds of others here. Keep up these wonderful posts. It doesn’t get any better for me, and certainly enhances my reputation here.

                  Last time when I got into an argument with PO, I think, Mark warned us to stop exchanging insults, and I happily obliged. But now his blog is being spammed with links to certain websites, all the while my former friend yalensis (after the above outburst, no friend of mine) and PO continue a trolling campaign against me. I assume you are busy, Mark, hence your low-frequency posts. But, I just want you to know I won’t engage in tit-for-tat insults with PO.

                • marknesop says:

                  I would not want you to have the impression that your reputation here was being enhanced. Yes, I’m busy, and far behind on comments, so I’m having a hard time catching up. But it’s also due to the frequency of commenting, which I notice goes up when you are around. So having a real live democracy interventionist on the boards is good for traffic.

                • saskydisc says:

                  How much do you want to bet on the identity of the “Mattisafraud” account?

              • Matt says:

                Where did I “gloat” about Ghaddafi’s death? I merely described his death in a graphic fashion to explain why Kim wants nukes – so he doesn’t meet the same gruesome end. Heck, a few posts ago, I even explicitly said that the Libya intervention was wrong. Plain and simple.

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Well, you made the comment that sodomy would be too much for Kim to handle thus was a root cause of NK’s resistance to the West. Yalensis is correct in my opinion that your hatred of the secular government of Syria (which AFAIK you have no familial or ethnic identification) and your implicit support of those trying to destroy that government (i.e terrorists, rapists, sex slavers, and the like) suggests some deeper psychological issues may be at work. Or, it could be ignorance. However, you seem passionate and have researched that topic (albeit in a biased manner) so ignorance is not a likely explanation.

                  As I said earlier, this venue is not the place to address whatever motivates your monomania. I am done with this topic.

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to PO:

                  “your hatred of the secular government of Syria”

                  Why do you think I hate the secular government? I only want Assad to be judged at the ICC. That does not mean I hate the secular government. Twisting my words, again.

                  “your implicit support of those trying to destroy that government (i.e terrorists, rapists, sex slavers, and the like)”

                  Who said I support the rebels? I have stated many times that the rebels are dangerous and the West should not have freely given them weapons. My stance is that all sides, government and rebel, get judged by the ICC. Again, putting words into my mouth.

                  “I am done with this topic.”

                  Excellent. Not a very graceful exit, after you embarrassed yourself with your concern-trolling. But better late than never.

                • marknesop says:

                  “Twisting my words again”. Yes, because you only want Assad to be judged at the ICC. For what? Saving his country from western overthrow and destabilization, so it could be broken up into statelets where Washington could set up a mini-nation to pacify the Kurds (in case they might be needed later), a brood farm for ISIS (in case they might be needed later) and so on? Why, your aims are so benign I’m surprised you have not started up your own “Friends of Assad” group.

                  Let’s be clear – the entire western campaign against Assad was based on lies, from start to finish. That nonsense about Assad’s goons machine-gunning crowds of peaceful protesters never happened, and nobody has ever offered any proof at all that it did. It was completely fabricated, because it’s a good line and the image of peaceful demonstrators being mowed down is a reliable one for tugging at the heartstrings of western audiences who will have to support a regime-change effort. The White Helmets were a complete invention and their ‘humanitarian’ videos were blatant fakes. The chemical attacks attributed to Assad’s government were setups perpetrated by opposition activists trying to kick-start a western intervention.

                  The Arab League sponsored a monitoring mission in Syria, early on in the run-up to war. It found that many incidents in which opposition activists reported atrocities, nothing of the kind had happened or the event was wildly exaggerated. At the same time it found incidents in which armed militants had attacked government forces and the choice was to defend themselves or die. The report did not receive wide circulation, and the Arab League quickly shut the mission down, as if it were embarrassed by the truth, which it probably was.

                  But by all means declare victory and walk away. You came by that technique honestly enough.

                • MattisaFraud says:

                  As I said before: it only diminishes you in the minds of others here.

                  Speaking as a demi-god yourself or as a long time poster on the Kremlin Stooge?

                  Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had here for quite a few days! You’re a hoot!

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to “MattisaFraud” (kek):

                  Finally. I have my own personal troll, who posts under pseudonyms with my own pseudonym in it, combined with an insult.

                  This is the pinnacle of internet achievement.

                  I am, frankly, flattered and honoured that you would choose to troll me. Who are you? PO? Pavlo? Lyt? The suspense is killing me. Do tell.

                • marknesop says:

                  I wouldn’t be surprised if it were Averko again; for somebody who claims to despise this blog, he surely spends a lot of time creeping it. But it didn’t sound like him, so I left it.

                • marknesop says:

                  So you’re not actually opposed to the North Korean political and social model? You were merely speaking of it in a graphically descriptive fashion?

                • yalensis says:

                  Mark: I did a textual analysis of the Mattisafraud comment.
                  I can’t be 100% sure, but I’m about 90% sure it isn’t Averko.
                  I’m also pretty sure it isn’t Lyttenburg, and I KNOW it isn’t me.
                  That leaves several other suspects.
                  Mark, do you know how to check the I.P. address in WordPress? You can compare it to known I.P. addresses.
                  If you feel like it…
                  Otherwise, we could just assume that it’s some dope from Savushkina Street.

                • marknesop says:

                  Mmmmm…..the UK. It’s hard to say, because Mike uses an anonymizer which makes him appear to be posting from multiple places. But maybe you’re right. I’ll restore them for now.

    • Jen says:


    • saskydisc says:

      As if the demonstrations just spontaneously occurred, and spontaneously lead to the collapse of the regime, rather than being a consequence of severe infighting including assassinations, coups and massacres, leading to a very violent set of “non-violent” protests, including robbing police stations and armories. Excluding friendly fire, at least 14 state personnel were killed, and 253 were injured. Oh, and the party line at the time was that it was a communist plot.

      • Matt says:

        I never said the “demonstrations just spontaneously occurred”. There is always a logical sequence of events, violent and non-violent, leading to an explosion in public anger. And even in the South, when the dictator Park wanted to have the leader of the opposition, Kim, imprisoned and eventually expelled him from the National Assembly, the U.S. recalled its ambassador back to Washington, D.C., and all 66 lawmakers of the New Democratic Party resigned from the National Assembly. Who can pressure North Korea like this? Imagine China withdrawing its ambassador over something like that in NK. I can’t, because in the South, there was an opposition party, as persecuted as it was. Not so in NK.

        In North Korea, The System manages quite nicely to avoid this, with a disgusting cult of personality, harsh punishments for the simplest of actions, and a media blockade.

        It is, IMHO, difficult for a South Korean style revolution to occur in North Korea now. The internet has made controlling information far easier, and easier to indoctrinate people. I foresee externally-assisted regime change. Or targeted assassination of the Pyongyang elite. Best thing to do is have the NSA/CIA track Kim’s movements in vehicles with spy satellites and drones. Then do a precision strike on the fat man. Would the good generals, who are far more informed of outside events than normal citizens, launch a suicidal war over the death of a single man, regardless of how he presented himself as a demigod? I doubt it.

        • saskydisc says:

          So that the CIA can arrange genocidal exploitation of minerals a la DRC? Kagame acted with impunity, on account of US support. A more likely course of events is that MAD is developed with USA, and with the resulting external security, the NK elite reduce strictures. Though that may happen quite fast, given how the US is unravelling.

          • Matt says:

            So that the Korean peninsula can finally be reunified.

            “with the resulting external security, the NK elite reduce strictures.”

            You falsely link the authoritarianism in NK with the threat posed by the U.S.

            • saskydisc says:

              You falsely claim otherwise. The US examples of Saudi, the Shah, Mobutu, Pinochet, the neo-nazi generals in Argentina, Greece, South Korea under Park, et cetera, make the point rather clearly, that freedom under US tutelage is an accident of circumstance. Freedom is obtained by fighting; people resist fighting when there is an external threat that is far more dangerous than the local state. And US practice is consistent, from Biafra, to Iraq in the 90s, or worse yet, the 2000s, to Yemen today. The substance of what you are proposing, whether or not you can admit it to yourself, is that North Korea will be next.

              • Matt says:

                That assumes the U.S. wants to destroy the NK populace. The quarrel is only between the leadership of NK and the U.S.

                • saskydisc says:

                  At best, it is a shot of the dice. Whether or not the US specifically desired to destroy five to ten million Congolese, their actions predictably lead to that consequence. The notion of mens rea defence to nation states in regards to wilful actions with predictable consequences, which they were monitoring, no less (e.g. September 1994 state department memo on Kagame’s killings), is risible.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, because regime change always brings wonderful benefits to the people. Look at the wonderful benefits it brought to the people of Iraq and Libya. And it always causes the oligarchy to lose its special privileges, too. Like in Ukraine.

      Don’t get me wrong – true grass-roots social uprisings based on dissatisfaction when it is clearly the result of government incompetence or self-interest are a good thing, and it is heartening when they succeed and when they actually bear fruit, resulting in a fairer social order. However, there is nothing the globalists will not propagandize and prostitute, and more often than not nowadays, social revolutions are the result of Gene Sharp movements-in-a-box calculated to move Washington’s strategic goals forward. Washington wrecked both Iraq and Libya, not because it wanted the people to get their due, although that’s what it said at the time. Because that’s what it always says.

      • Matt says:

        “true grass-roots social uprisings based on dissatisfaction when it is clearly the result of government incompetence or self-interest are a good thing, and it is heartening when they succeed and when they actually bear fruit, resulting in a fairer social order.”

        Is such a thing possible in North Korea, without any external help?

        • marknesop says:

          Have dictatorships been overthrown by the people before? They certainly have. If the North Korean military is such a massive threat, wouldn’t a lot of Americans get killed in an attempted external intervention? If knocking over the NK military would be cinchy, why couldn’t the people do it?

  15. Drutten says:

    From space, taken by cosmonaut Ryazanskiy the other day:

  16. Patient Observer says:

    Yes, worth the read

  17. Warren says:

  18. et Al says:

    A splattering of Russia related aeronerd air news: Russia has started training Egypt’s Ka-52K pilots
    Chief Designer of the Kamov Design Bureau Sergei Mikheyev told TASS on Aug. 28 that Ka-52K pilots slated to operate the naval rotorcraft aboard Egypt’s Mistral-class amphibious assault ships will undergo training in Russia. UAC unifying civil aircraft with Irkut-Sukhoi combination

    …The company is trying to simplify its operation and increase the efficiency of resources, in order to hike its share of civil products in its portfolio to 45% by 2035….

    …United Aircraft will cut layers of management and centralise functions to reduce costs, while the unification will also enable it to achieve better continuity and simplicity in certification….

    More at the link.

    Old news: Russian titanium giant sceptical about 3D printed forgings

    “I think VSMPO is quite far way” from 3D printing titanium forgings to aircraft manufacturers, VSMPO chief executive Mikhail Voevodin says at the MAKS air show. With a tone of obvious under-statement, Voevodin adds: “It’s not next year.”

    At the same time, VSMPO is responding to pressure from Airbus and Boeing to deliver titanium forgings requiring less post-processing. The manufacturers want a forging delivered that is closer to a finished product ready for installation on an assembly line….

    More at the link. PICTURE: Frigate Ecojet revised as four-engined design

    Russian developers of a 300-seat aircraft with a characteristic wide elliptical fuselage have opted to modify the proposal substantially, revising the design as a four-engined transport rather than a twinjet.

    More at the link. Not a good change IMOHO as the big twins rule compared to the new generation 747I & your basic A380

    Meanwhile, CargoLogicAir wants to wet lease a couple of Russian registered An 124-100s via the UK CAA, & SuperJet International (SSJ 100 marketer to the West) stake of 41% has been bought by Sukhoi Civila Aircraft for €1, & Russian airlines are being ‘probed’ for price-fixing by the Federal Anti-monopoly Service (Aeroflot, Yakutia & S7). All info via FlightGlobal

    • Patient Observer says:

      Thanks for the update. Agreed on the limitations of 3D printing to produce parts of similar characteristics to forgings. Not a metallurgist but forgings use mechanical means to close up grain structure and align grain structure with the direction of expected stress. It seems highly unlikely 3D printing could do the same. In general, the potential of 3D printing is way overstated. It definitely has a place in manufacturing but will likely not have the central role in a large scale economy.

      The big twins of Boeing and Airbus can suffer large loss of market share just by having China and Russia switch to their own domestic supply. Throw in other countries looking for a cheaper alternatives with assurances that the West can not throw in a monkey wrench in the form of trade embargos and financial pressures, the twins could be cut down to size.

  19. et Al says:

    New York’s Crimes: The Cambodia Daily to Close (After Chasing One Last Big Story)

    …In recent weeks, the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered at least 15 radio stations to close or stop broadcasting programming from the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. The government also ordered the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute, a pro-democracy, nonprofit organization tied to the Democratic Party of the United States.

    Since its founding in 1993, the widely respected newspaper has been an incubator for a generation of young Cambodian and foreign journalists, and it has served as an independent voice in a country with little tradition of free expression…

    …Operating under the king’s sponsorship, Mr. Krisher never registered the newspaper as a business or nonprofit organization.

    But the newspaper’s association with royalty has long since faded. King Sihanouk abdicated in 2004 and died in 2012. And Mr. Krisher, 86, who lives in Tokyo, is too ill to come to Cambodia to try to rescue the paper, said Douglas Steele, his son-in-law and The Daily’s general manager.

    Mr. Krisher’s daughter, Deborah Krisher-Steele, attempted to normalize the business this year. Ms. Krisher-Steele purchased The Daily’s assets from her father in April and will return them, the paper said…

    Plenty more at the link.

    It’s clear, the US must intervene! The Cambodian masses will welcome them with open arms. If they don’t, they’ll just have to be bombed to free them first. Anything to stick it to China too!

    I was wondering how long it would turn up in the Pork Pie News Networks as I saw this piece on Land Destroyer last week (27 August).

    Land Destroyer: Cambodia Exposes, Expels US Network

    The government of Cambodia has exposed and expelled a US network attempting to interfere in the nation’s political processes. The US National Democratic Institute (NDI) was reportedly ordered to end its activities in the country and remove all of its foreign staff.

    Reuters in an article titled, “Cambodia orders U.S.-funded group to halt operations, remove staff,” would claim:

    In a statement, the foreign ministry accused the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of operating in Cambodia without registering, and said its foreign staff had seven days to leave.

    Authorities were “geared up to take the same measures” against other foreign NGOs which fail to comply with the law, the ministry added…

    More at the link.

    What could be better than a ready made enemy? Dead cat anyone?

  20. Special_sauce says:

    Well, well, well, what do we have here:

    Over to you Matt.

  21. Special_sauce says:

    The Brutal Tyrant hiding from his own people:

    h/t @snarwani

  22. Warren says:

    The EU Sails Serenely Past the Wreck of the United Kingdom

    The disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has accused the EU of “blackmail” in the Brexit talks. This puzzles me. The disgraced former Defence Secretary has repeatedly asserted that the EU is desperate for a trade deal with the UK, and that German manufacturers of Mercedes and BMWs will insist that the UK leaving the EU brings no interruption in free trade, with no concomitant requirements for the UK to comply with EU practice.

  23. Warren says:

    Al Jazeera English
    Published on 3 Sep 2017
    Donald Trump promised better relations than under Barack Obama, then quickly became surrounded by scandal and allegations that Russian computer hackers helped him win the race for the White House.

  24. Warren says:

    For the likes of “Matt”, anyone who parrots US propaganda and champions US imperialism is “credible” and “authoritative”. Whereas anyone that deviates from US propaganda narrative, and challenges US propaganda and US imperialism is branded “mediocre”, “non-credible”, “anti-American”, etc.

    • Matt says:

      Strawman, that many here, including Mark and PO, have tried using against me. First, I have criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, like the 2003 Iraq war, intervention in Libya, and the war in Afghanistan. This debunks the first part of your post.

      As for the second: anyone who blames the U.S. for something it is not responsible for, in an attempt to distract from the country’s economic issues for example, is an anti-American. Ditto for anyone who wants the U.S. to collapse, be destroyed, or makes fun of its people with stereotypes.

      The above paragraph can be applied to any country in the world and is standard fare for defining phobia against a country. You and your ilk are quick to whine about “Russophobia”, but when similar tactics are used against the U.S., you start calling anyone who calls them out an “imperialist”.

      Such extreme over-simplifications do nothing except twist my words and make it easier for you to avoid critically self-assessing your views on U.S. foreign policy. An easy way to avoid debate.

      Same old, same old.

      • Matt says:

        Uh, am I speaking with the one known as “Averko”? Why are you posting under a different username?

      • likbez says:

        “Ditto for anyone who wants the U.S. to collapse, be destroyed, or makes fun of its people with stereotypes.”

        That’s too simplistic. The USA simultaneously represents a country and a global neoliberal empire led from Washington. The latter gave us all those wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Syria (KSA is a part of the empire).

        You may want prosperity for the USA proper, and the collapse of this neoliberal empire at the same time. This is essentially Bannon’s position and the position of other “economic nationalists” in the USA, who are now tarred and feathered as “Putin friends” (Putin’s position is also somewhat closer to economic nationalism then to neoliberalism, although in certain areas he sits between two chairs).

        The USA is a great country which among other things gave the world Internet, as we know it. As well as modern CPUs and computers ( although here British scientists and Germans made important contributions too, often as staff of foreign subsidiaries of the US companies such as Intel, and IBM) . Due to which such forums are possible.

        Neoliberalism and US governed global neoliberal empire will most probably shrink or even collapse after the end of cheap oil and due to the rise of nationalist movements in almost all EU countries and elsewhere, which partially reverses the trend toward neoliberal globalization that existed before. That’s uneven process. In the USA neoliberalism demonstrated amazing staying power after financial crisis of 2008, which buried neoliberal ideology.

        Recently in some countries (not without some help from the USA) neoliberalism staged revenge (Argentina, Brazil), but the general trend now does not favor neoliberal globalization and, by extension, kicking the can down the road via color revolutions and such.

        The typical forecast for end of cheap oil is a decade or two. KSA is the canary in the mine here. It should collapse first.

        The USA as a country probably will be OK because it is rich in hydrocarbons, but the neoliberal empire will collapse as the USA probably it will not be able or willing to serve as armed enforcer of multinationals around the globe any longer. The set of ideas known as neoliberalism are already on life support. See A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey. Also see

        Neoliberals who control the US state after Reagan coup (or even starting with Carter) still push down the throats of Americans those dead ideas due to power of propaganda machine, but they are less and less effective. Trump election means that allergic reaction to neoliberal propaganda already is a factor in the US political life. Hillary positioned herself as quintessential globalist and warmonger for the USA led neoliberal empire and lost. Trump proved to be no better then the king of “bait and switch” Barak Obama and shed all his election promises with ease. But the fact remains. .

        For the same reason we also need to distinguish between neocons, who currently determine the US foreign policy (and dominate the State Department) and the rank-and-file Americans who suffer from this imperial overreach, from outsourcing, with some of them returning home dead or maimed. There nothing bad in denigrating neocons.

        I would view the current round of hostilities between Russia and the USA through the prism of the fight for the preservation of the US neoliberal empire. They need an external enemy to squash mounting resistance to neoliberalism with the USA. And Ukraine gambit was designed explicitly for that. If they can take out Russia (by installing Yeltsin-style regime, which is the goal) the life of empire might be prolonged (they tried and failed in 2012). The second round of looting also might help with paying external debt. The shot in the arm which the USA got from the collapse of the USSR led to [fake] prosperity in 1994-2000.

        • yalensis says:

          This is very good political analysis, likbez.

        • Matt says:

          What do you define “neoliberalism” as? America’s recent foreign wars have nothing to do with “[serving] as armed enforcer of multinationals around the globe any longer.” Not in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or its hostility to Iran, North Korea, etc.

          It is also incorrect so state that neocons are the same as the liberal interventionists at the State Department, which has historically butted heads with other branches of the American government, including the military, intelligence community, and WH, over their support of authoritarian regimes. An example would the State Department’s internal opposition to the U.S. dealing with war criminals in Latin America, during the Cold War.

          The current fight with Russia has nothing to do with neoliberalism or “needing an enemy”. It began with an avoidance to take Russia’s geopolitical interests in mind when discussing the future of NATO, leading to its enlargement, and which Russia used as an excuse to take back territories of people displaced after the USSR broke down, after the numerous civil wars in the FSU.

          Cheap oil has nothing to do with neoliberalism. It is simply a cheap source of energy, which will be replaced by other cheap forms of energy.

          Socialism is a failed experiment. Perhaps the best example is Venezuela. Venezuela’s economy was reliant on oil exports. Rather than invest in diversifying the economy and in the manufacturing/food sectors, Chavez and Maduro instead gave populist handouts to the poor, alleviating poverty in the short-term, but doing nothing to wean the country off of oil in the long-term. Not only that, but since the country’s domestic manufacturing base was never developed (which would require diverting the subsidies to investments in this sector), the country had to rely on expensive food imports, which need foreign currencies. Venezuela used to be Latin America’s richest country in the 1970s, with a per-capita GDP even greater than some European countries like Italy and Greece. When oil prices crashed, it was obvious to everyone that the economy would crash and widespread human suffering would be the result. Less oil revenues mean less dollars to import food and other basic needs. Then came the hyperinflation. The Maduro regime responded by using anti-Americanism as a distraction. It blamed the hyperinflation on a website that gives Venezuelans the blackmarket exchange rate for the Bolivar. It blamed “CIA/right-wing/fascist/opposition/oligarchic collusion” (take your pick) for deliberately engineering artificial food shortages by “hoarding” the food supply. It blamed the general economic issues on “economic sabotage” by the U.S. Anti-American murals appeared over-night all over Caracas. You get the point. Classic distraction by using a foreign enemy.

          • marknesop says:

            Cheap oil has nothing to do with neoliberalism. It is simply a cheap source of energy, which will be replaced by other cheap forms of energy.

            I love your brash confidence. Be sure and buy stock early in this new form of cheap energy – you might be the next Carlos Slim.

      • marknesop says:

        Perhaps I can help here. Any argument for which ‘Matt’ – not his real name, although you will see him query people from time to time on why they use aliases – does not have a ready refutation is a ‘strawman’. Naturally it is a human characteristic not to introduce an argument unless one is fairly confident of winning it. Anyone who is willing to stipulate to ‘Matt’s’ views is just being sensible; anyone who disagrees is putting up a strawman. Likewise anyone who skewers him with his own argument is ‘twisting his words’, because he ‘never said that’. If he ever mentions a point upon which he and the USA disagree as a matter of policy, that should be taken as evidence of his broad-mindedness and impartiality, and give him the benefit of the doubt when he says Russia shot down MH17 and intercepted conversations taking place between the reels prove it.

  25. Matt says:

    Old hag Zakharova speaking on state TV about Trump:

    “Not all US Presidents were able to complete their term in office”.

    She specified she doesn’t mean impeachment. Sounds like a JFK reference.


    Shout out to @JuliaDavisNews on Twitter for this. (I must always source where I get my news about Russian news from, else yalensis will start accusing me of being able to speak Russian! And Pavlo will start croaking about me being a Ukrainian.)

    • Special_sauce says: another would-be “voice howling in the wilderness” but only just regurgitating well-worn memes: Putin ate my homework etc.

    • yalensis says:

      “Old hag” isn’t considered ad hominem?
      Particular un-chivalrous comment coming from a Hillary supporter!

      Not that Zakharova’s looks matter, but many people consider her to be a nice-looking lady who keeps herself together as she approaches middle age. And has a brain sharp as a carving knife.

      On the other hand, Matt, I heard a rumor that Yo Momma is both ugly and stupid.
      In fact, they say Yo Momma is so fat, that when she stood on her computerized scale, Siri crooned, “Honey, I need your weight, not your phone number.”

      • Matt says:

        In my specific case, no, “old hag” is not considered ad hominem because I wasn’t using the insult to avoid having to critique what Zakharova said.

        Geez, look up the definition of the term “ad hominem”.

        Regardless, do you disavow the hag’s violent rhetoric, yalensis? You are quick to misinterpret my comments and label me a “violent” person, but what about old Zacky*?

        *My nickname for the hag.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Logic is weak in this one.

          • saskydisc says:

            No man, ad hominem loses its evil when combined with pretensions of ad rem, and thus is no longer ad hominem, or something. Strike that. Ad feminam cannot be compared to ad hominem. Different universe, altogether.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, you always have a pat explanation for why your behavior is above reproach, while that of others is disgusting. It’s pretty clear you are only trolling for angry reactions, and your ‘arguments’ on other matters are not convincing anyone. Nobody here is a convert for regime change in North Korea or Venezuela, no new souls have been saved for American Exceptionalism, and your baited barbs directed at Russia are actually an endorsement of it in much the same way that an insult from a fool is a compliment. I would say that you’ve exhausted the subject again – time to go back into the weeds for awhile.

    • saskydisc says:

      Surely you do not object to that, after what was done to Lumumba, Qaddafi—you’ve indicated your approval of him being raped, Allende, et alia. Although Aristide, Mossadeq, Nkrumah, et alia also come to mind. Charity, meet home.

      • Matt says:

        I did not approve of Gaddafi being sodomized.

        • saskydisc says:

          You only wished it upon Kim Jong Un?

          • Matt says:

            I’d rather he be captured alive and made an example out of, at the ICC. But I wouldn’t mind if he met his end at the hands of the North Korean people.

            • saskydisc says:

              So as to attempt to breathe life into that disgusting institution? After the ICC’s abetting of fraudulent charges, and failure to charge its western patrons for their war crimes and genocides (DRC in particular), your statement can only be construed as abetting genocide after the fact, albeit only verbally. I fear what may happen should you obtain a measure of real power.

              • Matt says:

                “your statement can only be construed as abetting genocide after the fact, albeit only verbally.”

                Eh, no. That is completely false.

                • saskydisc says:

                  You specifically stated that you sought to use the ICC in the exercise of criminal review against a head of state. That organization is a known catspaw of the US and allies (in particular, western Europe, although also in south east Asia—Cambodian tribunal that was so corrupt that conservative Andrei Sirois suggested de novo trials for all convictees, Lebanon with the MEK—STL, et cetera). In service to the US in DRC, it through its de facto subsidiary ICTR, avoided prosecution of Kagame and underlings, who have since killed between five and ten million in DRC. The same controlling body (via review, in all cases; the ad hoc tribunals were nominally independent, mainly for the purpose of flouting the ICC’s already weak rules) persecuted Charles Taylor, while remaining silent on the installation of his former right-hand, Sirleaf Johnson as president of Liberia. It is a trivial observation that the ICC’s function is to prosecute those African leaders who resist US designs, up to and including genocide (DRC), usually on spurious grounds. The shoe fits.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, that’s that, then. You’re wrong, and I’m right. Interesting strategy.

        • marknesop says:

          I did not note any distaste in your description of it; rather, a little sic semper tyrannis.

    • marknesop says:

      Just so you know, you’re all supposed to be outraged by ‘Matt’s’ characterization of Zakharova as an ‘old hag’. So that he can chuckle up his sleeve at the effects of his incendiary comments, while pre-typing “I never said that” or “You are twisting my words, I’m a victim here”. Your tactics are getting repetitious, ‘Matt’.

      But then, I suppose Zakharova insulted you first. Right? Because you never gratuitously insult anyone.

      • Matt says:

        How ironic. You accuse me of falsely accusing others of twisting my words, but you did just that now! Right when you said this:

        “But then, I suppose Zakharova insulted you first. Right? Because you never gratuitously insult anyone.”

        I already clarified that I was talking about people in this blog. Know the context. I was saying that I have not insulted a single person here, who has not insulted me before. I was not talking about every person in this world.

        So yes, you are twisting my words.

        • marknesop says:

          Ha, ha!!! Good one!! “I like to develop personal philosophies to be used in very narrow circumstances – I never verbally attack anyone unless they verbally attack me first, on this blog. Wait, when did I post that? On a Tuesday. Therefore, I never attack anyone verbally unless they first attack me verbally, on this blog, on a Tuesday. Stop twisting my words.

          Thanks for that; you couldn’t make it up. A masterpiece of evasion – I hope you had your G-suit on.

  26. Matt says:

    While we’re on the topic of Russian state TV:

    Russian state news agency Vesti: “American Journalist presented proof Michelle Obama is transsexual”. The journalist in question? Alex Jones.




    The journalist showed videos and photos showing a bump in the groin in the folds of a dress or trousers. In addition, he showed two fragments on which Barack Obama called his wife Michael. The presenter also suggested that the ex-president’s daughters were “bearded,” the Daily Mail reported.


    Shout out to @christogrozev for this info.

    • Matt says:

      And just to give you an idea of the intelligence and motivations of Trump supporters (in case you didn’t know), here are the top two most-upvoted comments under the Alex Jones video in question:

      “Joan Rivers odd death right after giving out Michelle Obama’s gender and Barack sexual preferences, isn’t it weird? Are the Obamas involved on Joan assassination?” [171 upvotes]


      “Michelle “Big Dick” Obama. That’s her new name from now on. Make it go viral!!!” [174 upvotes]

      Video has 563,291 views, with 6k upvotes and only <500 downvotes.

      But muhhh "economic anxiety" caused Trump to win.. Gimme a break.

    • saskydisc says:

      Translation of first sentence (google translate helpfully mangles “ultraright”):
      American ultra-right-wing presenter Alex Jones called ex-First Lady Michelle Obama a transsexual on the Info Wars show.

      The last sentence indicates that the information was obtained from the Daily Mail, yet you ascribe it to Russian television.

      Speaking of google translate, when will you answer my request for a quote from the “troll emails”? I am still waiting for a response.

      • Matt says:

        The Daily Mail is trash, and the fact that Vesti quoted it and Alex Jones separately is disgusting.

        Sorry about not following up on those comments of yours. The emails are explicit in what the discuss. There are a number of good articles that discuss the contents of the emails:

        I can link more articles, if you want.

        • Special_sauce says:

          But…but…why does Rashka have to hire trolls to prop Puppet-Master Putin, when there are so many of us who will do it for nothing?

          If I want? And if I don’t, will that stop you?

          • Matt says:

            The goal was to influence the minds of Westerners about the Ukrainian conflict, MH17, Syria, and promote anti-Americanism.

            You and the others here aren’t enough.

            • Special_sauce says:

              Others here? Lol, Let me tell you of this magical place you perhaps have not heard of. It’s know as, wait for it, The Rest of the World.

            • saskydisc says:

              And that is why, in your links, the allegedly fake commentators post in Russian? The government of USA is quite skilled in making itself hated, showing its hand in matters such as MH17 and Syria (why was the main suspect in the MH17 shooting a party to the investigation? why do US and western European arms repeatedly show up in captured IS weapons caches?).

              • Matt says:

                Nobody ever said these guys only post in Russian. They also post in English. In my most recent post to you, I gave the example of an English-language YouTube account.

                Regardless of how poorly the U.S. manages its image in the world, that does not make it OK to spread disinformation about it, by paid trolls.

                • saskydisc says:

                  Only acceptable to spread disinformation about other societies? Although, to use modern lingo, it is rather ‘meta’ to refer to others as disinformation spreading trolls, in a disinformation campaign, by likely paid trolls, such as your sources, hence the sturm und drang about Russia adopting US-style laws for foreign funding for NGOs.

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to saskydisc:

                  “Only acceptable to spread disinformation about other societies? Although, to use modern lingo, it is rather ‘meta’ to refer to others as disinformation spreading trolls, in a disinformation campaign, by likely paid trolls, such as your sources,.”

                  I don’t get your comment. Are you implying people are being paid by the U.S to lie about Russian troll factories? Because i’ve given you the evidence. It’s been discussed and analyzed.

                  “hence the sturm und drang about Russia adopting US-style laws for foreign funding for NGOs”

                  This is a common mistaken argument I often hear. Even Putin dishonestly used this comparison to justify Russia’s laws.. This article does a good job at describing the differences:


                  The differences are enormous. NGOs don’t have to register, for one.

                • marknesop says:

                  And there are…how many Russian NGO’s in the United States?

                  There is virtually no difference between the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Russian laws, since the latter were patterned on the former. The Russian law is pretty clear-cut: if your agency’s activities are political in nature and you receive funding from abroad, you are a foreign agent. What would you call it? Russian domestic agencies funded by oligarchs opposed to the Russian government are exempt – indulge in political activity to your heart’s content, provided you receive no foreign funding. Likewise an American NGO in Russia which is 100% funded by the United States is exempt from registration provided its work is not political in nature; say, kidney research or post-natal recovery programs for women.

                • saskydisc says:

                  I notice that you reply to yourself, rather than to me, so that I do not get a notification. Interesting. As to the foreign agents registration matter,


                  FARA is a disclosure statute which requires persons in the United States who are acting as agents of foreign principals, and engaged in certain specified activities, to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as disclosure of activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities. The general purpose of the Act is to ensure that the American public and its lawmakers know the source of certain information intended to sway U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information by the government and the American people. The Act requires any person or organization (U.S. or foreign), that is an agent of a foreign principal, to register with the Department of Justice if engaged in the U.S. in certain defined activities, and to disclose the foreign principal for which the agent works, the activities conducted, as well as receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.

                  Foreign principals can include governments, political parties, a person or organization outside the United States (except U.S. citizens), and any entity organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country.

                  An agent of a foreign principal is any person who acts within the United States “as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a foreign principal or of a person, any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal,” and who engages in certain political or quasi-political activities.

                  See in particular, 611(c)(1), 611(i), 611(o), 612(a)(5,6)—grants are not ‘simply given’ but must be applied for, 612(d), 614(a), 615, 617 regarding dissolution (!!).

                  The Russian law is here, although you’d have to run it through an OCR prior to auto-translation.

                  The Russian law on foreign agents (including foreign sponsored NGOs acting as agents):

                • marknesop says:

                  Can you give me an example of this disinformation? Saying that income inequality in the USA is growing? Suggesting Ukraine might have shot down MH17 and quickly blamed it on Russia, with western collusion and assistance? Reporting that the Russian economy is not really cratering, but growing? If your best example is passing along the accusation that Michelle Obama is a transsexual (which, of course, is not true) – something which Russia never initiated – then it is weak sauce indeed.

                  It’s not just how badly the US manages its image in the world – in fact, it’s amazing the US has a bad image in the world: that result comes in the face of an energetic and relentless media campaign to portray everything the US does as noble and good, because in the end, it’s all about the democracy. From a system where a presidential candidate can win the democratic vote and still lose to the electoral college, which votes independent of the process and is not bound to vote the way the majority in the delegates’ state voted.

              • Matt says:

                Reply to saskydisc:

                “I notice that you reply to yourself, rather than to me, so that I do not get a notification. Interesting.”

                Sorry about that – I tend to just reply to the deepest comment in the thread. I also use RSS to follow comments, but WP’s RSS only updates in chunks of 10, so if >10 comments have been last posted, I don’t get a notification for the first few, hence my late reply to this comment.

                “See in particular, 611(c)(1), 611(i), 611(o), 612(a)(5,6)—grants are not ‘simply given’ but must be applied for, 612(d), 614(a), 615, 617 regarding dissolution (!!).

                Again, there are enormous difference between the two – the article I previously linked about this makes that clear.

                • saskydisc says:

                  Your article alleges that. There would be a trivial way to demonstrate those claims:

                  Show that the language of the law stipulates rules different from the US FARA law, with quotes.

                  In fact, I challenge you to produce one Russian “human rights” organization that conducts itself as e.g. HRW does, in USA. E.g. posting (and I downloaded the image myself at the time from HRW’s website) disinformation in the form of a photograph of grieving victims a US-sponsored massacre (Odessa trade union house), from the BBC no less, and implying that the photo was of a “victim of Putin’s repressions” (sic).

                  After this was pointed out, HRW created a new version, with the Ukrainian text on the riot police’s uniforms obscured.

                  Need I remind you, that in Canada at least, laws of treason apply even in undeclared war, including in regards to enemy propaganda? They certainly are enforced when under attack.

            • marknesop says:

              It’s not enough that America inspires, instigates and promotes conflicts around the world to gain strategic advantage for itself regardless what effect it has on the populations of those countries – they must like Americans, too.

              You are pretty pro-American for someone who is supposedly a Canadian.

        • Special_sauce says:

          Look at a map. Kiev, run by an illegitimate junta BTW, sent tanks, cannons and assassins east to bombard civilians. Even they don’t deny it.

        • saskydisc says:

          By parity of argument, you are disgusting or quoting that article then. I notice that you leave it implied what that Russian website’s purpose was in quoting Alex Jones. Would you say it was to state agreement (why mention his status of being ultra-right-wing?) or to give an idea of the constitution of US political views (is it disgusting to mention that, and are you thus disgusting also?).

          The quote is guidelines for the public relations analyses, which are yet to be posted to western sites. As to the “damning” links, I first made the mistake of searching for the materials that you last linked, and had to convert multiple encodings just to make the text searchable, only to find that the “damning” text was not in those files. I then went to your links—some allegedly fake account allegedly makes comments, in line with certain guidelines, which are left implied. Weak sauce, even as circumstantial evidence.

          The second website link is about a website that covers eastern Ukraine. Let’s go there—if coverage by a website owned by outsiders constitutes fake news by default, then what does that make all US-sponsored news sites? RFE/RE, Radio Svoboda and company, by that standard, is fake news prior to evaluation of content, and ditto AlHurra. Do you want to go there?

          • kirill says:

            To label Alex Jones far right is to redefine the category. Alex Jones may be a tin foil hat element but he is nowhere near any sort of Nazi or fascist. Fascists are corporate bootlicks by definition, while Alex Jones rails against them. Jones is basically a typical North American conservative but not of the globalist variety like Harper or Bush. I can’t stand his retarded BS about global warming being a hoax, but I will not subscribe to the PC information terror campaign against all dissent.

            • saskydisc says:

              Admittedly, I am not very familiar with his views; Vesti refers to him as ultra-right.

              • yalensis says:

                I actually sort of like Alex Jones. Strange as that might sound, coming from me.
                Alex is definitely an acquired taste.
                I used to watch his youtube videos a lot, with much pleasure, although I haven’t watched them in a while.
                I think recently he fell on hard times and started hawking some products, which is just sad.

                But basically Alex is an American conservative NRA type. Right to bear arms. Survivalist. All that. Opposes Washington’s hegemonistic attitudes and has no delusions about the Neo-Liberal agenda, yet cherishes that naive Idiot-American belief that a man can defend his freedom with a handgun and a hunting knife.

          • Matt says:

            The editors of Vesti chose to publish that blurb of theirs for a reason. Respectable news outlets wouldn’t give Alex Jones free publicity like this, and if they did, would condemn these views. Vesti did not do that, keeping a position of “strategic ambiguity”.

            The original Docs link I gave a while back was only a sample – I made that clear. The full package of files is in those 3 MEGA links I gave.

            “I then went to your links—some allegedly fake account allegedly makes comments, in line with certain guidelines, which are left implied. Weak sauce, even as circumstantial evidence.”

            How exactly is this “circumstantial evidence”? We know not only the total list of troll accounts, but the names of people who worked there, their salaries, positions, daily bulletin, etc. This is not even remotely close to being “circumstantial” in nature.

            Here is one confirmed troll account, from the leaked list of troll accounts:


            Examine a few things:

            – The username: mocking the American dream

            – The profile picture: mocking American consumerism, showing an unhealthy woman.

            – The join date: early 2014, when the agency first began operating

            – And of course, the videos themselves: all of them are similar in style. Short, to the point, with flashy graphics and stylized editing. One of the videos has a clear anti-fracking theme. This is hard evidence that substantiates recent allegations that the Kremlin is behind an anti-fracking effort in the U.S.

            “The second website link is about a website that covers eastern Ukraine…. if coverage by a website owned by outsiders constitutes fake news by default, then what does that make all US-sponsored news sites?”

            The issue has nothing to do with “outside” news outlets. Rather, it is the fact that this so-called “independent/alternative” news website was being run by the St. Petersburg troll factory. Quote:

            “After some impressive detective work, the sleuths at DP found that an outlet called Neva News, run from the 55 Savushkina office, bought the Kharkov News Agency’s domain name on August 25, 2013. The CEO and co-owner of Neva News, Evgenii Zubarev, confirmed DP’s findings, but insisted that the location of the outlet’s hosting or newsroom does not affect its editorial policy. Zubarev is far from an isolated figure, as he heads up the Federal Agency News (FAN) project, which is also based out of—tell us if you’ve noticed a pattern yet—55 Savushkina.”

            • saskydisc says:

              Where in the MEGA downloads? Are they hidden in the partially corrupted BASE64-encoded attachments? I did not find them in the texts of the emails in the MEGA downloads, even after converting all the mangled (e.g. “=E2” instead of byte encoding) ISO 8859-5 to UTF—I even had to code the conversion in C to make the text GREPable.

              This raises another issue. If the “troll factory” (I grant its alleged existence, for the sake of argument) is serving the purposes of the president and/or intelligence services, why accuse Nemtsov’s followers of his murder, when the state’s position is that the murder was perpetrated by Chechen gangsters?

              • Matt says:

                I am not sure where exactly this text is. I deleted the archives from my HDD and haven’t bothered looking at them in a while. Perhaps if I could understand Russian, I could be of some help.

                That said, I’ll download the files and get back to you in a bit.

                “why accuse Nemtsov’s followers of his murder, when the state’s position is that the murder was perpetrated by Chechen gangsters?”

                The reason is very simple: a disinformation campaign never focuses on reality and logical truths. The people at the troll factory were instructed to state that the CIA was behind this, as a “false flag” to implicate the Kremlin. The state’s position of this being the fault of Chechen gangsters can be morphed with this conspiracy theory, with the implication that these gangsters were merely paid by Western special services. Thus, there is no contradiction here at all.

                • saskydisc says:

                  So now the story morphs from being Nemtsov’s supporters (in general; he had enough support to win a seat) to the CIA in particular?

                  At best, your story is a logical possibility. It is, as Russian propaganda, highly implausible. After all, Russian propaganda is based largely on Anglo-American propaganda, albeit not as well executed. Incoherence in propaganda, especially in whisper campaigns, tends to induce cynicism. Which is why I do not think that you are paid—you are too amateurish.

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to saskydisc:

                  “So now the story morphs from being Nemtsov’s supporters (in general; he had enough support to win a seat) to the CIA in particular?”

                  What are you talking about? From the very beginning my claim was that these trolls, as one of their assignments, spread the conspiracy theory that the CIA killed Nemtsov as a “false flag” to demonize Putin. This had been my sole claim about Nemtsov. What morphed?

                  And now, after pretending I “morphed” my story, you use ad hominem to call me “amateurish”. It’s very easy to understand this. Look at the Docs link I gave you:


                  Start at the 3rd page and translate that and the next few pages. This is a sample:

                  “February 28th 2015
                  Theme number 1. Opposition
                  The main idea: we lead to the conclusion that the murder of the opposition leader Nemtsov was not beneficial to the official authorities, it is obvious that behind this is a provocation”

                  Afterwards, they give quotations from various people that Nemtsov was “sacrificed”, that it was a “provocation” done in front of the Kremlin on purpose. Example of a quotation they listed:

                  “According to political analyst Alexander Topalov, the murder of the politician is not accidental. “If this is true, then this is an unequivocal heavenly hundred in miniature, by the hands of Western special services before March 1. Keep in mind. The sacred sacrifice of Nemtsov is ideal in its own way. Citizens of Russia, do not get fooled into provocations. At such a time, every little thing can become fatal, “wrote in his Facebook political scientist.”

                  So what “morphed” from my story? The whole point of the disinformation was to make this look like a false flag. Some comments vaguely blamed the “opposition”, while others were more direct and mentioned “Western special services”.

                • saskydisc says:

                  From your previous link, the first version is that the Ukrainian authorities did it, with the Minsk accords (to which Russia is not even a signatory, brought in), the second version (from your first source) is that the opposition killed him, and the third version is western intelligence.

                  The fact that the source of emails suggests better relations between (NATO occupied) Ukraine and Russia, and that on account of the Minsk accords, reads pretty much like the premises of NATO propaganda.

                • marknesop says:

                  I wonder if you ever pause to consider how ridiculous you must sound with some of your statements. When a crooked politician steals an election, do his supporters announce he got 120% of the vote? Of course not – to be convincing, it has to be close and stay within realistic parameters. Although I have seen no proof at all that there really is a ‘troll factory’ in Russia, if there was it would have to transmit believable information, or it would be ignored or quickly become the subject of mockery.

                  Is it believable that the CIA participates in actions which undermine democratically-elected governments around the world where Washington perceives a change of government would be in its interests? You tell me.

              • Matt says:

                “From your previous link, the first version is that the Ukrainian authorities did it, with the Minsk accords (to which Russia is not even a signatory, brought in), the second version (from your first source) is that the opposition killed him, and the third version is western intelligence.”

                They used multiple, contradictory, conspiracy theories. Not my fault – blame them.

                “The fact that the source of emails suggests better relations between (NATO occupied) Ukraine and Russia, and that on account of the Minsk accords, reads pretty much like the premises of NATO propaganda.”

                You’re a bit vague here. The source of the emails is the troll factory in St. Petersburg. If you mean the people who released the emails, that would be the hacking group known as “Shaltai Boltai” who have hacked numerous figures connected to the Kremlin. Thus I don’t understand what you mean by the above paragraph.

                • saskydisc says:

                  If in fact it is a troll factory, then it is a troll factory pushing a premise of western propaganda, namely that Minsk was to resolve tensions between (the) Ukraine and Russia. Such a troll factory would conceivably be run by the likes of a Khodorkovsky, or a Browder, perhaps with investments in the Ukraine.

              • Matt says:

                “How much do you want to bet on the identity of the “Mattisafraud” account?”

                I have to laugh at this. No, that guy is not me. If it were me, why would I post a single comment like that? Anyway, I don’t know who that really is – could be PO, Pavlo, Lyt, special_Sauce, etc. There is no shortage of people here who would want to do this to me.

                But this conspiracy theory you just conjured reveals something about yourself, my Western-Canadian friend: paranoid when thinking about me, but if I mention a troll factory in St. Petersburg, replete with hacked emails? “Circumstantial evidence” he calls it.

                The cognitive dissonance being displayed by you is pretty incredible.

                Anyway, I think you’re an intelligent person and I have enjoyed my debates with you. Let’s not end in such toxic terms.

                • saskydisc says:

                  It is a bet—hence I’m willing to risk some cash on the outcome. It is that uncertainty, with a strong dose of plausibility, that well, you’d have to understand the lyrics to Garth Brooks’s Standing Outside the Fire. At the moment, you’ve yet to demonstrate mastery of logical reasoning, let alone basic probabilistic reasoning. I say odds are 70 to 30 that that is you—not impossible that it is someone else, but enough that I’m willing to lose some cash on it.

            • saskydisc says:

              The idea of smearing the anti-fracking efforts as foreign is particularly rich. Gasland was made in 2010, Gasland II in 2013, as was Frack Nation.

              Would you like to imply that South African anti-fracking efforts (e.g. in the Kalahari) are also Russian-inspired? And to what end? Courtesy of US efforts, South Africa was no longer purchasing Iranian oil by 2014, getting oil mainly from Saudi (45%), Nigeria (23%) and Angola (18%). By parity of argument, the South African anti-fracking efforts could be smeared as a US effort to protect Saudi, Angola, and to a lesser extent, Nigeria.

              • Matt says:

                I am not implying that all anti-fracking effects are done by Russia. All I’m saying is that this confirmed troll account had uploaded an anti-fracking video, amongst other videos about Ukraine, the U.S., etc. Why did he choose this theme to make a video on?

                • saskydisc says:

                  Aside from that the “confirmation” is suspect, as I already answered, it would under the troll hypothesis be to ride coattails. When will you respond ad rem, rather than avoid the issues?

              • marknesop says:

                Precisely. If the American Midwest folded in on itself and collapsed into a giant crater as a result of honeycombing the substrate with boreholes and causing earthquakes, would Russia weep and beat its breast in agony? I doubt it. American fracking is no threat to Russian pipeline gas, as we have discussed any number of times. If the striped-pants boys in Washington are determined to poison America’s groundwater with chemicals and shake the shit out of everything, what concern is that to Russia? Given the American attitude toward Russia and its apparent gullible acceptance that they have Donald Trump for a President thanks to Putin, why would Russia want to interrupt America while it is destroying itself?

                • saskydisc says:

                  Or the prairie provinces, for that matter. The only thing that slowed fracking down was the drop in oil prices. Both Saskatchewan and Alberta are heavily dependent on oil, and to a lesser extent, potash. Now that Russia and Kenya are investing in potash mines, we are looking at a lost decade, and we sold the provincial bus company right after purchasing a partial new fleet.

            • saskydisc says:

              As to “confirmed,” perhaps within the framework of the story you are pushing, but that’s rather thin. Again, let’s take it for granted that it is a propaganda account. That would mean that the propaganda is merely to regurgitate, in nicely presented form, concerns raised by others, often for decades (social decay), or years (fracking). As propaganda, it is on the cheap, likely by an American expat.

              • Matt says:

                Certainly it’s confirmed. The name was taken from the email dump. And the propaganda is not just to regurgitate. It also amplifies. With this specific account, there were videos about Ukraine, fracking, etc. but with the others there were posts about MH17, to promote a positive image of Putin, to demonize the U.S./Obama, to spread disinformation about the U.S., etc.

                Amplification is very important in a disinformation campaign.

                One more thing I must mention: it seems the troll factory experimented with videos only initially, in early 2014. It quickly stopped using video as a device to spread its disinformation and focused on text. There are other videos created by the troll factory, literally including actors. One of them is the infamous CyberBekut video:

                It claimed it “hacked” this video from the laptop of one of John McCain’s aides when he visited Ukraine as a show of U.S. support (McCain is demonized in Russian media for being a hardliner towards Russia). They claimed the video shows some actors pretending to be Jihadi John and James Foley, his execution being filmed in front of a green screen! But the good folks over at MetaBunk did a frame-by-frame comparison of the real execution video and the so-called “leaked” filming of the set. They found that the actor had different movements compared to the real JJ, along with several other visual mismatches. Here’s the full debunking:


                This “secret” video was prominently featured on sites like InfoWars and Global Research.
                Now, who would have the time, money, resources, and will power (complete with actors, clothing, cameras, props, etc.,) to put so much effort into creating a fake video to spread the conspiracy theory that America is staging ISIS’ videos and is controlling it? Only a state like Russia, of course.

                Another is of a black guy dressed as an American soldier, shooting at the Quran:


                A few hours after the video was non-chalantly uploaded, some government guy working in Chechnya (something to do with Information) quickly issued a statement denouncing the video, before it had even gone viral. The guy in the video is wearing the wrong clothing for an American soldier in Afghanistan, can’t speak proper English, and tries too hard to appear casual by swearing every second.

                • saskydisc says:

                  Where in the email dump? Which email file?

                  If in fact a quick response came from Chechnya, that may be taken to suggest US involvement, as the US insisted on maintaining ties to Chechen Jihadis especially via the old Iran Contra networks.. Did a US infiltrator give the video to CyberBerkut?

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to saskydisc:

                  Those two videos are not in the email dumps. Read the article I linked.

                  “If in fact a quick response came from Chechnya, that may be taken to suggest US involvement, as the US insisted on maintaining ties to Chechen Jihadis especially via the old Iran Contra networks.. Did a US infiltrator give the video to CyberBerkut?”

                  No. The first video was definitely staged, by CyberBerkut, with an actor working fairly hard to mimic the movements of Jihadi John. CyberBerkut is NOTORIOUS for either hacking something and then mixing in fake details, or outright fabrications, as in the above video. More info about CB in this comment by me:


                  The person in the second video was pretending to be an American soldier in Afghanistan, hence the clothing. Although, he wore the wrong insignia and other minor details. He then pretended he was testing his new gun and used a Quran as the target. The black guy pretended to be an American, but he wasn’t. Horrible English, fake swearing, etc. Anyway, the goal was to spread anti-Americanism by making the soldier look like an Islamophobe, hence the coordination with Chechnya’s government. Read the article and watch the video.

                • marknesop says:

                  CyberBerkut is NOTORIOUS for either hacking something and then mixing in fake details, or outright fabrications, as in the above video.


                • marknesop says:

                  Amplification is very important in a disinformation campaign.

                  Nobody would know that better than you would. Remember the fall of Tripoli, and jubilant militants dancing in the Green Square? Except it was filmed on a sound stage in Doha. I was surprised to learn that Russia was responsible for that – after all, who else could have had the time, money, resources, and will power (complete with actors, clothing, cameras, props, etc.,) to put so much effort into creating a fake video to spread the conspiracy theory that the Benghazi rebels were a political opposition? How about Susan Rice’s blubbering warning that Gaddafi was buying trainloads of Viagra for his troops so they could rape more innocent peasant women? A reprehensible lie, widely and relentlessly repeated, for which she was never punished. Hey, remember that emotional photo the BBC used to graphically illustrate the scale of deaths in ‘Assad’s chemical attack’ on Ghouta? Except it was actually taken in Iraq 5 years previously, and the dead were actually killed by the US-led coalition. Oops, that was just an accident. The Beeb would never deliberately deceive its viewers in order to influence their decision-making. But my favourite, I think, was the tearful Kuwaiti candy-striper nurse who blew the whistle on Saddam’s goons dumping babies onto cold hospital floors to die, so they could take the incubators back to Iraq. Maybe so Saddam could install them at the foot of his bed to keep his tootsies warm, the inexpressibly-evil baby-murderer. Oh; except the ‘nurse’ was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, coached through her tearjerker story (which was completely made up) by American PR firm Hill & Knowlton, because that story was judged the most likely to evoke a strong public response in favour of invasion. Hey, look – a bonus; they mentioned the Foreign Agents Registration Act! In the context that it should have been enacted to prevent Kuwaiti money from flooding into the USA to coerce American audiences to support war, because only the USA had a military big enough to get it done in one big massive punch. Supported by its allies, of course, drawn along by the American reputation for honesty, justice and fair play.

                  Hill & Knowlton, then the world’s largest PR firm, served as mastermind for the Kuwaiti campaign. Its activities alone would have constituted the largest foreign-funded campaign ever aimed at manipulating American public opinion. By law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act should have exposed this propaganda campaign to the American people, but the Justice Department chose not to enforce it. Nine days after Saddam’s army marched into Kuwait, the Emir’s government agreed to fund a contract under which Hill & Knowlton would represent “Citizens for a Free Kuwait,” a classic PR front group designed to hide the real role of the Kuwaiti government and its collusion with the Bush administration. Over the next six months, the Kuwaiti government channeled $11.9 million dollars to Citizens for a Free Kuwait, whose only other funding totalled $17,861 from 78 individuals. Virtually all of CFK’s budget — $10.8 million — went to Hill & Knowlton in the form of fees.

                  Don’t talk to me about disinformation. Oh, I hope I’m not twisting your words. Or trying desperately to change the subject, because I fear others being persuaded by the power of your humanitarian arguments.

            • saskydisc says:

              At least you admit that you do not really regard the BBC as respectable.

              • Matt says:

                I knew you would make this argument, hence, in my previous comment I said “and if they did, would condemn these views.” The BBC certainly has critical words in that article.

                • saskydisc says:

                  The “critical words” are quotes from others; in the case of Vesti, they refer to him as a fascist, which it appears, is an exaggeration.

        • marknesop says:

          The Daily Mail is trash, and the fact that Vesti quoted it and Alex Jones separately is disgusting.

          Your quivering moral outrage is inspiring. No problems with western sites which link Novaya Gazeta as a source, though, or The Moscow Times.

  27. Patient Observer says:

    Very nearly a done deal:

    Syrian troops are now at the gates of the Islamic State-besieged city of Deir ez-Zor, the governor of the province said, as the government forces continue to press forward, obliterating terrorist positions in the vicinity and on the outskirts of the city.

    “The heroes of the army will arrive at Deir ez-Zor in 24-48 hours at the most,” the governor of Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province, Mohammed Ibrahim Samra, told Reuters, adding that the Syrian Army was only 18-20 kilometers (11-12 miles) away from the city.

    Faster than anticipated and a great victory for Syria and its allies.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      ^That feeling when you were defending the airport 2 years longer than khohli (Ukies) and ultimately held it.

    • Chinese American says:

      It’s happening as we speak; the maps are currently changing hour by hour. According to the latest reports, the vanguard is now only about 2 km away from the position of the defenders.

      Dead silence from the Western MSM, obviously.

      • Patient Observer says:

        And our resident troll as well. It must pain him immensely that Assad and more importantly the Syrian government will prevail. Too bad the forces who unleashed this war on Syria will not face justice.

  28. Special_sauce says:

    Pyongyang downtown. Look at all those oppressed people in their shabby clothes just crying out for Liberty

    • Special_sauce says:

      They must have muffled the horns blaring out that commie propaganda. And fattened up some actors to fool naive Merkans. The horror!

    • Zerg says:

      I depend at indication of what you are looking for. Humans just do human things. And I’m sure they have less drug use, homicides and suicides then USA.
      Other then that – NK is just poor country under blockade. Most countries in the world are poor.

      • Matt says:

        South Korea is wealthier and more free than North Korea. SK should absorb NK and eject the Kim dynasty squatters.

        • saskydisc says:

          And further, NK has only itself to blame, for not completing the job by the 70s, when it was wealthier and freer than the south. Oh, wait, the South invaded a North Korean town, then the North pushed the Southern occupiers (with Japanese connections) to a little island, then the US carpet bombed NK and used anthrax against the north and China, destroying all above ground structures (dams included—Nazis were executed for such conduct in the Netherlands), to ensure the absence of even relative freedom, in the south; to that end, they killed between one in six and one in five North Koreans. And you would pretend to oppose genocide.

          • Patient Observer says:

            Did you just burst Matt’s bubble? I think you did! Not to worry, he will blow another bubble soon enough.

            • saskydisc says:

              I wonder. There is a rumour spread among the professional class in Latin America that Russia is using Ecuador to send weapons to Colombia and Mexico. If in fact such weapons are being sent, it is likely by Lenin Moreno, under US direction, considering that the US is running out of Soviet weapons to send to various of its clients for plausible deniability (witness US, German weapons in ISIS caches, for example), and thus must choose carefully where to send such weapons.

              I have a confession to make—I’ve been silent while Yalensis would heap abuse on Kirill, even though I defended others’ freedom of speech. In penitence, the following. Yalensis would consider me a madman as well—occasional regard for violence as a tactic especially in response to violence, anarchist (Makhno! one of my party shot Lenin), and a strong hatred for Trotsky (Bolsheviks were dependent on Makhno several times against Tsarist and other forces, but happily stabbed them in the back, although it was Frunze, not boy Napoleon Trotsky, who ultimately defeated Makhno).

              • yalensis says:

                Well, Sasky, you can defend Kirill if you please. Not that anybody cares, but just for the record, Kirill fired the first shot in this war. He called me scum, said Russia didn’t need “scum like me”, as if he, a Canadian emigre, is the arbitrer of whom Russia needs. He conflated me with Soros, which I consider to be blood libel. He threatened me and anybody he thought agreed with me, with sexual imagery. He always has sex on the brain.

                I have serious political differences with YOU, Sasky. I remember that you used to defend the neo-Nazi ThatJ as well. Ideologically you seem quite close to Kirill, in your right-wing views and anti-communism. Nonetheless, I don’t regard you as a madman. You don’t employ the same violent and sexualized language as Kirill. Also, you seem to know your stuff, at least about the things you specialize in, such as African politics and so on.

                My main issue with Kirill is not even his politics, I can co-exist with people of different political views, even right-wingers. My problem with Kirill is that he is verbally violent and a blow-hard. On certain topics, such as physics and BUK fragments, and so on, he seems to know what he is talking about. But I can never be sure. If it isn’t something that I know about myself, then how am I supposed to regard him as an authority? When, on a certain topic about which I DO have expertise, namely Linguistics (in which I have an advanced degree), Kirill made statements — with the exact same cock-sure assertiveness and dissing anybody who disagreed– which I KNEW to be completely and laughably bullshit. And when I called him on this, and corrected him, he refused to admit that he was mistaken.

                Do you see my point? If I just happened to catch Kirill making boners of misstatements on a topic that I KNOW something about, then why should I believe him when he makes assertions on something that I don’t know anything about? For somebody to be an authority to me, they need to be honest, first and foremost, and they need to know their own limits.

                I have a close relative who reminds me a lot of Kirill. He is very smart and very knowledgeable — about certain things. But I discovered that when he doesn’t know the answer to a question, he simply makes shit up. And with such assertiveness and aplomb that people believe him. This drives me crazy, especially when I hear him bloviating about stuff I know isn’t factual.

                You never helped me either, Sasky. You defended ThatJ, and now you defend Kirill. You have set yourself against me. When I pointed out Kirill’s mistake about phonology, you took his side (more or less) and revealed your own ignorance, when you confused acoustic phonetics with phonology. Your own knowlege of theoretical Linguistics seems to be quite lacking.

                It’s not that Linguistics is important in and of itself, in this context, or especially on this blog. It’s just indicative of Kirill’s character flaw as a blowhard and ignoramus. See, he could have cleared the whole thing up, if he just admitted that he was wrong about the phonology of European languages. He could have posted something like, “My experrtise is in physics and/or mechanical engineering, and I said something dumb about European phonology and alphabets.” Instead, he doubled down, repeated his fallacies, and then had to gaul to question whether Linguistics was even a science, just because it was not something that he ever studied.

                There have been many times on this blog where I admitted I was wrong and took factual correction from people who knew something about a topic I didn’t know. Or when I wrote something carelessly, and was corrected. I am big enough to admit when I’m wrong.
                But Kirill just won’t do it. He ALWAYS has to be right. And he continues to harp on the Trotsky thing and slander me and other people, all the while playing the victim and whining about “blood libel”.
                Hence, I continue to fight him. I do believe that he is a madman wearing a mask of occasional rationality. All the fellatio and other sexually violent comments are proof of that — no reasonable person ever talks that way.

                In summary, your comment and your whole attitude towards me are hurtful, but at least, on the bright side, I know exactly where you stand now. I like to know who are my friends and who are my enemies. If you are Kirill’s friend, then please consider yourself to be my enemy.

                • saskydisc says:

                  As you wish. I still regard your attacks on thatJ as helping his cause by blind attack thus making him look the victim, instead of studying e.g. Hilberg, and attacking his absent knowledge.

                  Likewise, with regards to phonology, it was you that claimed that I had phonemes in mind, rather than phones (actual sounds and movements made to produce them), while I merely pointed out correspondences between claims in a patent to which he referred and patterns I had observed, which related to the limitations of phonemic teaching with foreign languages.

                  Perhaps it is an individual matter, but gruesome imagery as a means to insult is quite common where I am from. Back home, “I’m gonna kill you” translates in intention to “go fly a kite” in genteel English. Not that fists never flew, but the habitual nominally homophobic and racist comments around which I grew up were understood purely as insults, both by the insulters, and the insulted. I could point you to a certain white former member of uMkhonto weSizwe who to this day cracks an occasional anti-black joke, not out of ethnic spite or resentment, as much as cultural habit—one of the few matters on which I agree with Zizek. When the racist joke is told to a white, it is a put-down (‘n Wit kaffir!), while to a black it is a mild taunt to see the person’s political views, after one has already hinted at one’s own views.

              • saskydisc says:

                Actually, I’m gauging his responses, albeit on an intuitive level. In a sense, it is selfish of me, but that is how I get to observe patterns and hence form hypotheses. In regards to the story of Russian weapons to alleged Colombian and Mexican gangsters, I have a (Mechanical Engineer) Mexican house mate. I could get such information out of him of his own volition, because I can state certain things in a non-threatening fashion. It is precisely that shortness of life that makes being pissed off, to what are not really moral agents, ill suited. Matt is not my audience, but rather a prop; there are many readers who lurk. An audience can only consist of potentially moral actors, and unless some moral seriousness develops within him, he will remain a prop, to whom I nominally speak, as an indirect address to the lurkers. Remind yourself that he is doing the same with us.

          • Matt says:

            If we were living in the 70s, I would never have supported SK over NK. But now, not only is SK more wealthy, but it is far and away East Asia’s most vibrant democracy. I wonder what Kim was thinking when Park was ousted after hundreds of thousands of protesters went out in the streets, forcing the hand of the judiciary?

            I have never supported or whitewashed SK’s authoritarian past. That was then and this is now.

            Why does Kim have such a disgusting cult of personality? Why do they disallow people from watching foreign movies, even Chinese TV? Why do they not allow people to leave the country of their own free will? Why is Kim so fat due to all the food he eats (at one point, images showed he had gained several dozen pounds over a number of weeks and was walking with a cane), while the NK people starve? Why can’t people protest as in South Korea?

            What does any of the above have to do with America?

            • saskydisc says:

              Who knows why? Maybe it is not even true—south Korean cold warriors are not noted for their honesty? Claims of current malnutrition are just that—claims. Many countries’ residents are allowed to visit NK, yet there are no substantial reports of catastrophe at present, but instead, indications of an economic boom.

              As to the US, their war crimes remain unpunished; the death toll is three to four times per capita that of the 90s famine in North Korea.

              • Matt says:

                I don’t dispute there’s an economic boom. There absolutely is. And it’s only because of the limited free-market black market tolerated by the government, with heavy bribes of course.

                And even then, the South as a model is far better.

        • marknesop says:

          And if the North Koreans show no particular inclination to embrace this prosperous wonderfulness, it should be forced upon them, for their own good.

          Luxembourg is wealthier and more free than the United States. Perhaps Luxembourg should absorb the United States and kick out the corporatist oligarchy.

    • Jen says:

      Photo of port of Chongjin, third largest city in NK, towards NK-Russian border, in this article from The Korea Times about a Chinese firm leasing piers in the city:

      Article from Unification Media Group at on two markets (Pohang and Sunam) in Chongjin with a link to a UMG video on one of the markets plus plenty of photos showing a range of goods sold at these markets:

      BTW the NK goverment doesn’t like UMG (because its aim is reunification of the two Koreas) or (for posting articles critical of NK).

      So people living in the larger cities in NK (Pyongyang, Hamhung, Chongjin) may be enjoying a better quality of life than they did before Kim Jong-un became leader. Though until media outlets like UMG are able to visit the countryside to find out how rural people live, we can’t assume that everyone in NK is living well.

    • Matt says:

      Pyongyang is the city of the elite in North Korea. Oh, look, you found a video of some high buildings and well-dressed elitists, and now, suddenly everything bad in North Korea is all OK? No personality cult? No starvation?

      How dishonest.

      You know full well NK is one of Asia’s poorest countries. Any poor country in the world has a good-looking capital.

      If only the video showed the labour camps run by North Korea, or the military officers stealing food from homes, or the lack of basic washrooms in those big buildings, or innocent people being punished under the government’s “3 generations rule”, where 3 generations of family are punished if one is found to engage in “anti-state” activities.

      Ask yourself: why does NK only allow very carefully controlled videos to be shot on Pyongyang, and not elsewhere? Why do journalists have to sneak hidden cameras around to capture the reality of NK, including the poverty?

      I am reminded of the horrifying sight of a Western journalist shooting a video of some computer lab in North Korea, with people using computers. Sounds great, right?

      Except nobody was doing anything. No typing. No mouse clicking. One guy was literally just staring blankly at a Google homepage!

      15:45 is where this happens.

      • saskydisc says:

        Which must be why a fair bit of animation is outsourced to North Korea.

        Or perhaps it means that computer use in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, is fake. After all, I cease all work when an outsider comes into the lab, as it is simply distracting. Though that does beg the question of how this post came to be.

        • Matt says:

          Citing the case of a handful of NK animators going to Beijing to work on animation does nothing to disprove my point of many of North Korea’s videos and tours of Western journalists being carefully managed and staged.

          • saskydisc says:

            Indeed, but that is simply on account of the insubstantial nature of your claim. North Korean cinema is no secret, and such movies can even be found on youtube. Under the sunshine policy, there was even outsourcing of manufacture to North Korea. Very simply, one does not build a nuclear munition without a substantial industrial base, and modern industry in general is fairly computerised, e.g. PLCs.

            • Matt says:

              Some computer parts were bought from foreign states, without a doubt. You think NK produces its own microchips? Maybe the assembly code, but I doubt the hardware is made without foreign knowledge.

              And all that does nothing to address my original argument: that these videos are staged.

              I recall another video, I think of some Siemens hospital device, that the North Koreans were showing off to Western journalists. One of the journalists asked them to use it, and the supposed “doctors” couldn’t even turn it on.

              There are so many examples of this.

              • saskydisc says:

                I would not be surprised if a doctor could not turn it on. Normally, such tasks are left to technicians and nurses. Doctors are usually busy with their specialities, tending to their patients, and may be able to use such devices, but normally such devices are not turned off, and even have lead-acid or other batteries to prevent them from being turned off. Other than instruments directly used by doctors, most devices would be operated by relevant staff. Care to show me a physician who can run an x-ray system?

              • saskydisc says:

                As to integrated circuits (“microchips”), I would imagine that they would manufacture such for PLCs other and rudimentary industrial electronics, out of security concerns, though for consumer electronics, it would take twenty years for a new-comer state to reach current east-Asian technology; should a few states do that, the technology would cease to be profitable, and already, engineers are the poorest profession in Hong Kong. Foundational research is usually more profitable in the long run, as it will generally lead to greater long term industrial development; in the short term, South Korea’s model works quite well: make cement and steel (again, Danny Rodrik)—it took them a long while to get to high tech, which is capital intensive.

                • Matt says:

                  Not sure about their missiles, but w.r.t to their nuclear power plants, NK’s PLCs are similar to the ones used by Iran. Stuxnet could have worked in NK, if it was successfully transferred into the computers there.

                • saskydisc says:

                  Oh? Details?

      • Special_sauce says:

        The narrator sneers at North Korean patriotism. Is miffed that Koreans don’t fawn all over him, famous Merkin celebrity. Pretends that the “International Community”(which he secretly despises) agrees with him. Tut-tuts Koreans outpouring of emotion over the fate of their leaders and jubilation at their successes. Tells us what to believe with narration, loaded with purple prose and not a few fibs. How in hell does he know that Kim micromanages the entire country, since even he admits he was being closely watched and shunted by “minders” wherever he went? Did the Koreans let him sit in at the equivalent of Merkin cabinet meetings? Trump wouldn’t allow that.

        Flip it. Imagine if all of America had been flattened by enemy bombs. But a leader arose who unified the country. “Eis kouranos esto!” Made his people proud of their accomplishments and determined not to be the disposible playthings of foreign powers ever again. You think Merkins wouldn’t rush into the streets hailing their saviours and waving pretty flags? You think they wouldn’t be suspicious of puffed-up, mendacious, smirking, assholes sent by a foreign press conglomerate to disparage their country?

        • Special_sauce says:

          For more of Vice’s “work” go to utube and search for Vice + Ukraine.

        • Matt says:

          Such a strange post. The tour was very clearly heavily micro-managed. This is the main reason why NK only allows Western journalists to video the capital city and only certain places. They have a full veto over what images can be kept and which deleted. There are many journalists who state that their NK minders had them delete unflattering images. And they weren’t even allowed in the rural areas!

          Your entire post is essentially an enormous strawman.

          “But a leader arose who unified the country. “Eis kouranos esto!” Made his people proud of their accomplishments and determined not to be the disposible playthings of foreign powers ever again. You think Merkins wouldn’t rush into the streets hailing their saviours and waving pretty flags?”

          Are you mentally OK? These people can’t even watch friggin’ foreign TV, or leave the country, or criticize the leader, without 3 generations of their family being punished in labour camps. How delusional do you have to be to fall for Kim’s personality cult… while living OUTSIDE of the North Korea?

          You seem delusional. Someone who I can’t debate with. What a psycho.

          • Zerg says:

            “These people can’t even watch friggin’ foreign TV, or leave the country, or criticize the leader”
            Most americans do not watch foreign TV or leave country(hell, most people on earth do not do that). It’s not like it somewhat ruined their live.
            Americans can criticze the leader as much as they want but this do not matter. They sit two terms anyway and that’s it. So it seems not very useful ability for them.
            USA have biggest prison population, death sentece and prison labor. I suppose USA must be annexed by Canada.

            • Matt says:

              I LOL’d when I read that. Look, if you’re going to jump through hoops to justify your argument, at least do a good job.

              How could you possibly compare willingly not wanting to watch foreign TV with being punished in a labour camp for wanting to watch foreign TV? Such a dishonest comparison. Surely you realize that?

              “It’s not like it somewhat ruined their live.”

              My Russian friend, this does ruin their lives, when they’re caught:


              “Americans can criticze the leader as much as they want but this do not matter. They sit two terms anyway and that’s it. So it seems not very useful ability for them.”

              Again, your critique of democracy does not justify the North Korean system of governance. The democracy in South Korea is a far better system than the North. Do you agree?

              “USA have biggest prison population, death sentece and prison labor. I suppose USA must be annexed by Canada.”

              Hey, Live in Canada, so I wouldn’t mind that! Kidding aside, the U.S. has the biggest population because of its “war on drugs”. Not a good policy, but hardly the same as chucking people in labour camps because they watched some Chinese sitcoms. Prison labour in the U.S. is very, very minimal, and in accordance with the laws, for the most part. It’s n not remotely comparable or as frequently used as North Korean labour camps. And though the U.S. has capital punishment, it is used sparingly and when a genuine crime has happened (though mistakes do occur). Contrast this with execution in North Korea for far simpler and milder things.

              • Patient Observer says:

                NK is in a state of war with a real and continuous threat of invasion by an overwhelming more powerful enemy. The US has zero threats to its existence except its own population. Huge incarceration rates, murder the the thousands, opiate abuse epidemic (50-60K killed per year), etc.

                If the US were under imminent threat of invasions, there is certainty that “freedoms” you refer will disappear faster than you can blink. Heck, the US government already conducts massive spy (sorry, data collection) on US citizens, has violated the various legal protections with impunity, on and on. Yet the US is under no threat whatsoever.

                Oh, US prisoners may not be used much for labor but prisoners are widely abused by gangs and guards. No secret there. As discussed before, working may be more humane than locking people in cages like rats.

                • Matt says:

                  Reply to PO:

                  “NK is in a state of war with a real and continuous threat of invasion by an overwhelming more powerful enemy.”

                  There is no threat of invasion faced by NK, by either the U.S. or SK. Technically, SK is also a victim, considering the long-running hit squads sent by NK on its President, over the years. Or the abductions of Japanese citizens.

                  “The US has zero threats to its existence except its own population. Huge incarceration rates, murder the the thousands, opiate abuse epidemic (50-60K killed per year), etc.”

                  Incarceration rates, gang-related murder, and drug issues are problems faced by many countries around the world. It has no bearing on our discussion.

                  “If the US were under imminent threat of invasions, there is certainty that “freedoms” you refer will disappear faster than you can blink.”

                  You can only go so far to rationalize away the restrictions faced by NK citizens. To what extent can you justify the cult of personality in NK? All because of some threats by the U.S.? Or the fact that they can’t watch foreign TV? At what point do you say “there restrictions are too much”?

                  The quarrel only involves the NK leadership, not its people. The only people facing annihilation and threats is the senior leadership of NK. To that end, they are using all the human capital of their citizens to protect themselves. Such a harsh government does not do this to “protect” or “help” its citizens,

                  “Oh, US prisoners may not be used much for labor but prisoners are widely abused by gangs and guards. No secret there. As discussed before, working may be more humane than locking people in cages like rats.”

                  Again, prisoner abuse happens everywhere. That is no equivalent with mass, harsh 12 hour a day prison labour in NK. Moreover, it dishonestly sidesteps the reason why people are sent to these prisons in the first place. They are entirely different in the U.S. and NK, and not worthy of a comparison.

                • marknesop says:

                  There is no threat of invasion faced by NK, by either the U.S. or SK. Technically, SK is also a victim, considering the long-running hit squads sent by NK on its President, over the years. Or the abductions of Japanese citizens.


                • Patient Observer says:

                  Reply to Matt: You breezily dismiss any argument that challenges your assertions. Zealotry and monomania does that to a person.

              • Jen says:

                “… Prison labour in the U.S. is very, very minimal, and in accordance with the laws, for the most part …”

                A billion-dollar industry (according to The Economist) is hardly very minimal though penal labour is in accordance with the 13th amendment.

                List of 50 companies in the US that employ prison labour in the article below:

              • marknesop says:

                Again, your critique of democracy does not justify the North Korean system of governance.

                The North Korean system of governance does not justify continual assaults on the liberty and self-determination of those living in democracies. But to you, only one of those is a reality, and worth talking about.

            • marknesop says:

              I suppose USA must be annexed by Canada.

              No, thanks. Although I am very fond of Americans as individuals – kindest, most humble people you could ever want to meet, true story. I met a wonderful older couple on the boat just the other day, they were from Chicago. They were so nice I wanted to invite them home with me, and might have if they were not going the other way. There really are no more warmhearted and generous people anywhere. That’s probably why their government feels the need to manage everything they see and hear; because they might not behave predictably otherwise.

          • Special_sauce says:

            This is the main reason why NK only allows Western journalists to video the capital city and only certain places.

            Or maybe because NK and USA are still technically at war. And, as I stated before, the United$hit$ firebombed one end of NK to the other. Here’s wiki’s(eminently editable by yankee toadies, such as yourself) take: The Korean War was relatively short but exceptionally bloody compared to other wars. Nearly 3 million people died. More than half of these, about 10 percent of Korea’s pre-war population were civilians. Ever been firebombed, skippy? And Merka got away without so much as a slap on the wrist. If that isn’t an incentive to “micromanage” Merkin snoops, I don’t know what is.

            These people can’t even watch friggin’ foreign TV,

            I watched Merkin tv but I felt dirty afterwards.

            or criticize the leader

            Whoop tee doo! In Merka you shake your fist at the White House gate. So what?

            Someone who[sic] I can’t debate with.

            Well, we both know the answer to that dilemna.

            • Matt says:

              It seems you don’t want to have an honest debate about NK’s oppression. You haven’t properly addressed a single argument I made.

              What does bombing NK 50 years ago have to do with their banning of Western journalists today? Look, if you’re going to justify NK’s media blockade, use some better excuses. This is pathetic.

              “I watched Merkin tv but I felt dirty afterwards.”

              Again, a snarky one-liner that does not address fact that there are harsh punishments reserved for NK citizens for viewing foreign TV.

              “Whoop tee doo! In Merka you shake your fist at the White House gate. So what?”

              Another snarky one-liner that does not address the personality cult in NK or the harsh punishments for criticizing the Kim dynasty.

              • Special_sauce says:

                Honesty is wasted on you. But very well, here’s another, a little ditty I wrote:

                The US Department of State
                Don’t give a shit
                Who votes
                Or has rights
                Not anywhere
                Not even America.

      • Zerg says:

        “Ask yourself: why does NK only allow very carefully controlled videos to be shot on Pyongyang, and not elsewhere? Why do journalists have to sneak hidden cameras around to capture the reality of NK, including the poverty?”
        It’s not totaly true. It’s somewhat true for western spies. Because they do not trust them.
        I will not trust Vice to film even birthday party because they will turn it to thriller with criminals, drugs, and rapes by editing and narration. “meat looks very suspicios, I do not recomend to eat it, we were told they have tradition to cook dead babes ”

        “Except nobody was doing anything. No typing. No mouse clicking. One guy was literally just staring blankly at a Google homepage!”
        As I said, they do not trust western spies. You see just picture but for them it’s bunch of foreigners with cameras,standing behind, filming everything.

        • Matt says:

          Are you claiming that the people in NK videos act like they’re being forced to behave because of… their irrational fear of Western spies?

          The videos are clearly tightly managed and not based off of normal, everyday lives of North Koreans.

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:


            Why don’t you want to help yourself? 😦

          • Zerg says:

            Slightly incorrect. “western spies” it’s just how I named them. Basicall, journalists form hostle regimes who come not NK only to find something to smear are tightly controlled and they do not show to them much. And attiude to them from people is as expected. And even if not consider real spies – journalists are spies naturally. People from less hostle nations and frendly to NK are less restricted and meet with better attirude. Considering amount of bullshit and hostle relations it’s strange to expect different.

            I do not want to argue how NK bad or good but I’m strongly against killing them “to set them free”. And I’m for removing of all sanctions.
            “By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the UN Charter, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without outside interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and each state is obliged to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter”
            Yankee go home

          • marknesop says:

            You just….know this. Because it’s so clear. From your perspective of – what? Early twenties?

  29. Zerg says:

    She is nuts but she never advocated ” restoration of the Romanovs”, she just worship the Last one

    • yalensis says:

      Actually, Moscow Exile had, in the past, linked some stuff implying that Natasha is in thick with the Pretender Georgiy, and his Momma. Don’t know if her support extends all the way to putting him on the throne, however.
      But she has definitely been photographed with them and met with them several times.

      • Zerg says:

        It’s unclear who was meet who, I see her only around and in context of Nikky(not even his real family). Anyway, what this “putting” could even mean? Russian public could accept this wandering troupe of clowns only for reenactment of 1917-1918 years events. If idea of monarchy by some magic will be seriously considered, Russians will more likely make Putin be god-emperor(not really). But hereditary monarchy is too regressive even for Russians.
        Some grant to themselves titles and pretend to be dukes and such but it’s pure LARPing

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Natalia Poklonskaya was awarded the Imperial Order of Saint Anastasia by the so called head of the Russian Imperial House, the so called Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.

          That’s what Poklonskaya is wearing above.

          • Zerg says:

            It’s decorative gift for actions in Crimea thing presented to her.
            She never advocated monarchy (or restoration of it) and did not participated in such discussions as proponent. This is what I said. But she like Nikky related events. She is nuts but not this way.
            It’s Aksenov who advocated monarchy, and even Zhirik said such things . But even they didn’t propose to put these clowns in charge

  30. James lake says:

    O the same page as that story about Poklonskaya running for president are two other stories regarding the issue of a female president.

    Matvienko saying “Russia is ready for a female president”
    And “1/3 of Russia ready for a female president” a poll was taken on this. Obviously designed to shape opinion.

    Has Identity politics that has beset American politics- reared its ugly head – what about the characteristics, background and the policy agenda of the person male or female? Are these not the most important

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “O the same page as that story about Poklonskaya running for president”

      Source, please.

      “Matvienko saying “Russia is ready for a female president”
      And “1/3 of Russia ready for a female president” a poll was taken on this. Obviously designed to shape opinion.”

      Distortion of words. 1/3 of Russians are not against the prospects of having female president. And this VTSIOM poll:

      “More than half of Russians are ready to entrust a woman to the chair of the head of the federal government, only one third is ready for a woman in the presidential post, while the overwhelming majority favor appointing women to leading posts in the social sphere, but they are not inclined to see them at the head of law enforcement agencies. This follows from the results of the poll of the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion published on Friday.”

      With which of these positions you disagree, James lake?

      “Has Identity politics that has beset American politics- reared its ugly head – what about the characteristics, background and the policy agenda of the person male or female? Are these not the most important”

      If you are asking (rather rhetorically) such question, one has to wonder, whether you are completely clueless about Russia’s internal politics or have an agenda to pull here.

      • yalensis says:

        It’s not that big of a deal. RT just had this report on the same page as the Poklonskaya piece. It’s known as “Affinity Placement” of stories.

        Matviyenko was asked in an interview by Belarus TV if a woman could conceivably become Prez of Russia.
        She answered that she thought it was possible, in our day and age, because most Russians value professionalism over any possible lingering prejudices about female leaders.

        I would hardly call this Identity Politics.

    • Zerg says:

      “what about the characteristics, background and the policy agenda of the person male or female? Are these not the most important”
      Well, this why they are do not object such possibility. Because there other things that important, not person’s sex. Woman is a human too. You fighting voices in your head

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    This should warm the cockles of the Finn’s heart:

    Глава СБУ обвинил Россию в организации терактов на Украине

    The head of the Ukraine Security Service (SBU) has accused Russia of organizing terrorist acts in the Ukraine

    «Я к вам обращаюсь как офицер к офицеру. Даже в условиях войны есть правила, которые нельзя переходить сотрудникам спецслужб», — цитирует Грицака РИА Новости.

    “I address you as officer to officer. Even in conditions of war, there are rules that cannot be applied to members of the special services”, Vasiliy Grytsak, quoted by RIA Novosti.

    What arseholery!

    What “war”?

    • kirill says:

      War criminals acting like judge-jury-executioner over their own crimes. Guaranteed 100% absolution and guilt transfer. Maybe NATzO can have Pukeraine preside over the MH17 investigation with veto powers over release of sensitive information, but NATzO can’t get away with having Pukeraine remain unpunished for its war criminal campaign in the Donbas.

  32. et Al says:

    First Post: BRICS Summit 2017 LIVE: Narendra Modi addresses grouping, vows to offer full support to deepen cooperation

    …15:22 (IST)

    Why is it a good idea for BRICS nations to have a their own Credit Rating Agencies?

    A BRICS CRA will be a counter to the western credit rating agency, which enjoy unchallanged market dominance. Entreprenuers in East and South East Asia often face impediments because of the hegimony enjoyed by CRA’s like Moody’s Fitch and S&P. These three western rating agencies hold over 90% of the sovereign ratings market now.

    It was India, which had first mooted the idea of an independent CRA for the BRICS grouping at last year’s BRICS Summit in Goa, pinpointing the problems the current CRA market posed for the emerging market economies.

    15:17 (IST)

    India bats for setting up Brics credit rating agency

    Prime Minister Narendra Moday, today called for the creation of a BRICS rating agency to cater to financing needs of sovereign and corporate entities of developing countries.

    “Our Central Banks must further strengthen their capabilities and promote cooperation between the Contingent Reserve Arrangement and the IMF (International Monetary Fund),” the prime minister said, urging early creation of the BRICS rating agency. …

    More interesting stuff at the link.

  33. kirill says:

    “Sometime before I left Ukraine I began to feel a strong case of burn-out with this so-called “information war” between the West and Russia. I, of course, made my career so to speak on not joining a “team.” For example, I supported and continue to support Ukraine primarily for ideological, moral reasons, not simply because of heritage and certainly not because of the stance the US government took on the matter. ”

    So I guess this clown supports terror bombing of civilians for ideological and “moral” reasons. What a fucking freak.

  34. Lyttenburgh says:

    Fuhrer’s Policy: The U.S> Is in Denial About the Civillians It’s Killing in Syria

    “The number of civilians killed by the U.S.-led coalition assault on the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria is mounting, but the coalition’s commanding general has cast doubt on the toll his forces are inflicting on innocents there. The monitoring group Airwars currently assesses that 1,700 or more civilians have likely been killed by U.S.-led air and artillery strikes in Raqqa governorate since March. A minimum of 860 civilians, including 150 children, are credibly reported to have been killed in Raqqa since the official start of operations to capture the city on June 6.

    Despite these findings and corroborating evidence from U.N. bodies and nongovernmental organizations, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend has described reports of large-scale civilian death as hyperbole. In one instance, the general prematurely called allegations not credible even before the coalition had completed its own investigation.

    Citing an estimated 20,000 civilians who remain trapped in Raqqa, U.N. humanitarian advisor Jan Egeland asked last week for consideration of a humanitarian pause in the city, similar to the respites organized last year in eastern Aleppo, where regime forces were fighting rebels. Despite a number of major investigations into the civilian death toll in Raqqa by multiple human rights organizations in recent months, there is no sign either side is considering any sort of pause.

    In a report released Aug. 24, the same day Egeland made his appeal, Amnesty International described the hell facing civilians, including thousands of children, at Raqqa. Survivors who fled the city said Islamic State fighters have been “laying landmines and booby traps along exit routes, setting up checkpoints around the city to restrict movement, and shooting at those trying to sneak out.” But the report also described a “constant barrage of artillery strikes and airstrikes” by the coalition that further restricts movement and has injured and killed hundreds of people

    Witnesses told of how shells ripped through civilian homes and killed those seeking to escape. “Artillery shells are hitting everywhere, entire streets,” one witness said. “It is indiscriminate shelling and kills a lot of civilians.” (Russian air raids in support of pro-regime forces have also left many civilians dead south of the city.)”

    [Note – see how sly they are! No hard data to compare with – just abstract “many”! Good job, journos! Way to go!]

    “Throughout operations to capture Mosul and Raqqa, the coalition has argued that defeating the terrorist group quickly would ultimately save more lives. After Egeland’s comments, the coalition quickly tamped down expectations that the tempo of fighting might slow in Raqqa or anywhere else.

    “Any pause in operations will only give ISIS more time to build up their defences and thus put more civilians in harm’s way,” coalition spokesman Col. Joseph Scrocca said. “What is more, it will further reinforce ISIS’s tactic of using civilians as human shields.”

    But Townsend, the coalition forces’ commander, has gone further. He has suggested on several occasions that civilian death tolls are exaggerated — no matter how well investigated they may be.

    In June, after a U.N. commission of inquiry warned that civilian casualties around Raqqa were already “staggering,” Townsend took issue with their phrasing, calling it “hyperbolic.”

    “Show me some evidence of that,” he told the BBC.

    On Aug. 22, Townsend again played down civilian deaths, this time at a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in Baghdad.

    “It’s probably logical to assume that there has been some increase in the civilian casualties, because our operations have increased in intensity there,” said Townsend, when asked by a reporter about the uptick in deaths. “[But] I would ask someone to show me hard information that says that civilian casualties have increased in Raqqa to some significant degree.”

    Such hard information is freely available from multiple sources. Large numbers of civilian casualties from coalition actions have been reported in local outlets and by Syrian monitoring organizations since well before the official start of operations inside Raqqa itself. In the three months leading up to June, Airwars researchers estimated that more than 700 civilians were likely killed by coalition strikes as the Syrian Democratic Forces surrounded the city. Airwars currently assesses that more than 5,100 civilians have likely been killed in coalition actions in both Iraq and Syria since 2014.

    These estimates are only compiled from reporting rated as “fair” by Airwars researchers. This classification requires there to be two or more reliable sources indicating civilian casualties and citing the coalition as having launched the strike, no conflicting attribution (for instance, the presence of Russian or regime strikes), and acknowledgement by the coalition that it did launch strikes in the vicinity on that day. Among accounts monitored by Airwars, more than 1,900 civilian deaths in Raqqa have been blamed on the coalition since June 6, but less than 40 percent was considered “fair.””

    The rest of the article provides links, more facts and examples of the summation above. Sooo… Move along, citizens, nothing to see here! Is there lil’ girl Bana-Banana twitting out of Raqqa? There are literally dozens other massacred, you say? But can they twitt in English? No? Well, then the entire civilized world has no reason to feel sorry for them. Besides – the news cycle of propaganda can only stomach one such “inventive information initiative” in a year, otherwise stupid proles thinking masses of the Enlightened West might notice something is off.

    Remember, kids! Russian and Syrian bombs kill innocent people! Murikan bombs spread FreeDoom and ‘Mockracy! Firetruck Yeah!

    • Drutten says:

      It is interesting. The US-led coalition bombings of IS strongholds Mosul and al-Raqqah (and Kobani too, earlier) have definitely been way more destructive than the Aleppo episode that Russia had a part in.

      The double standards and generally idiocy of the media coverage has been absolutely insane. In Aleppo, everyone wildly exaggerated everything, the jihadists therein were consistently whitewashed to an absolutely absurd degree, and various jihadists were even given ample air time in western media to complain about it all. Also, Russias part in the operation was greatly exaggerated too (in fact, Russia did not bomb the jihadist-controlled parts at all at the time they were accused of doing it the most, eg in the fall/early winter of 2016), and jihadi tunnel bombs and the immense destruction they caused was attributed to Russia in the news coverage, etc.

      It fucking blew my mind as I was watching these stories air in US, British and Swedish news.

      …and at the same time, objectively speaking far more brutal things elsewhere, in say Mosul, Kobane and al-Raqqah were consistently toned down as much as possible. Sure, recently there’s been some concern about Mosul and al-Raqqah that’s found its way into mainstream western media, but it’s been comparably mild and nobody’s even thought of digging up some heartwrenching testimonials by known jihadists and/or their hostages and flinging them all over media.

      Once the dust has settled down there, or in say 10-15 years, this incredible propaganda maneuver will be common knowledge and everbody will be shaking their heads at it. As usual. It’s a bloody shame that it’s always way too late.

  35. Lyttenburgh says:

    Good News (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον), everyone! Rejoice – for a Savior came to our Fallen World!


    Another confirmation, that Petro Olexeich is Messiah! Therefore – he is sinless. A priori.

  36. Patient Observer says:

    Some wince moments but the following link provides basic if highly simplified information on LNG production:

    The article goes off the rails when it claims natural gas will be the transition fuel to full dependence on renewable energy. To share a personal story, we were on a tour of a coal burning power plant (3200 megawatt total output) we asked one of the engineers about their wind power efforts. Since the location of the wind power plant was one of the more favorable in the US, I was expecting a fairly positive assessment. However, he indicated that the average power production was about 10% of the nameplate capacity. Moreover, the temporal matching of wind power output was very poor relative to the need for electrical power. A net positive effect was simply not there.

    Wind power in the US is driven by financial incentives and political expediency. It will prove to be another ethanol boondoggle. I happen to like solar and wind power for, say, a cabin in the woods, or an isolated town. But, to power a modern civilization, no frigging way.

    • saskydisc says:

      On the topic of wind and ethanol, the bigger problem with wind is storage, and the secondary problem is transmission. A possible solution, that is at least at proof of principle stage—direct conversion of water-dissolved carbon dioxide to ethanol:

      Finally, there is the problem of killing birds. I’d suggest a “merry-go-round” consisting of foldable sails, perhaps with a diameter of a kilometer or more, so that the system has a low speed relative to the ground, and hence birds and bats should be able to avoid it at night. Also, ethanol can burn in a heat engine, which leaves a mature technology useful.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Regarding the CO2 + H2O + electricity to ethanol, sounds interesting but the process appears to be in a very early state of development. If it were to achieve industrial scale applications, it could be an economical way to generate ethanol but it still does not directly address the fluctuations of renewable power production is it only absorbs excess electrical energy thus not smoothing over periods of insufficient electrical energy. True, ethanol could fuel a gas turbine but with at least a 50% loss of energy (i.e. thermal efficiency). Still, it it works as hoped, it would be another option to help make renewables more feasible.

        • saskydisc says:

          True, but I doubt that battery storage is that much more efficient, when including manufacture and disposal in the account. It would also be useful generally to get CO2 out of the atmosphere, using nuclear if needs be, although I remain extremely leery—send the fission and activation (e.g. Pu, or U233 for thorium) waste to Jupiter please.

    • Cortes says:

      Leaving aside the start up costs of wind power, does anyone compute the costs relating to the (fairly regular) need to have rescue teams extract freaked out maintenance engineers from the tops of the turbine towers? Must be really cheap.

  37. Matt says:

    Radical… Orthodox terrorism! Said Trump:

    Van With Explosives Crashes Into Cinema to Protest Tsar Biopic

  38. Matt says:

    On the topic of disinformation: our colleagues in Russia went through the effort of faking a video of a some guys pretending to be Ukrainian soldiers in a BUK,”accidentally” shooting MH17. This is kinda old, but the people of this blog need to be educated on the matter:

    At 4:49.

    The crew inside a BUK TELAR wears soft helmets for a reason: when the electrical generator powering the radar is running, it’s very noisy inside, making it impossible to talk. These helmets contain headphones and a special differential microphone or a throat microphone (laryngophone). In the video the sound is obviously staged, studio-recorded. It’s very clear.

    The YouTube account associated with this video published a series of videos “investigating” MH17. This is, by far, the most beautifully well-crafted and edited propaganda I have seen in my entire life.

    They even had enough money to pay for two separate presenters, making two versions of each video. The Russian-language presenter is Alexander Volovik Mikhailovich, former president of the oil and gas concern Bi-Gaz-Si.

    “Alexander Mikhailovich Volovik is a powerful figure in Russian busines. He headed Bi-GAS-SI and participates in the leadership of a number of exchanges , banks and investment funds. He is a professor at the G.V. Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics , president of the Moscow Retailers Association ; president of the Moscow Chamber of Trade & Industry ; vice-president of theInternational Academy of Independent Consultants ; Co-chairman of the Interglobal Association of Institutional Investors ; founder of RosNefteGasStroy , PromStroyBank , MosBusinessBank , and Russian National Commercial Bank.” Wow!

    He is seen here at a ceremony with Medvedev:

    And on the personal website of Volovik a picture can be seen of Volovik standing very close to \Putin:

    Another example of their lying is here:

    whathappenedtoflightmh17 .com/2nd-video-of-mh17-inquiry-released-suggesting-elderberry-bush-does-not-blossom-in-july/

    • Matt says:

      What does your link have to do with our Russian colleagues filming a scene about people pretending to be Ukrainians in a BUK?

    • MattisaFraud says:
      US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down

      as well as what the German intelligence agency, the BND, reported to a parliamentary committee last October, according to Der Spiegel.

      While there are differences in those analyses about who fired the missile, there appears to be agreement that the Russian government did not supply the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine with a sophisticated Buk anti-aircraft missile system that the original DNI report identified as the likely weapon used to destroy the commercial airliner killing all 298 people onboard.

      But that’s just impossible to believe. Indeed, I’ve been told by a source who was briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that a great deal of new information has been examined since the days immediately after the crash, but that the problem for U.S. policymakers is that the data led at least some analysts to conclude that the plane was shot down by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military, not by the rebels.

      But that’s just impossible to believe. Indeed, I’ve been told by a source who was briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that a great deal of new information has been examined since the days immediately after the crash, but that the problem for U.S. policymakers is that the data led at least some analysts to conclude that the plane was shot down by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military, not by the rebels.
      ‘Fraud’ Alleged in NYT’s MH-17 Report

      The Times article suggested that the Russians were falsely claiming that the Ukrainian military had Buk missile systems in eastern Ukraine on the day that MH-17 was shot down. But the presence of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile batteries in the area has been confirmed by Western intelligence, including a report issued last October on the findings of the Dutch intelligence agency which had access to NATO’s satellite and other data collection.

      In the days after the MH-17 crash, I was told by a source that U.S. intelligence had spotted Buk systems in the area but they appeared to be under Ukrainian government control. The source who had been briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts said the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile was manned by troops dressed in what looked like Ukrainian uniforms.

      At that point, the source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops might have been eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said. [See’s “What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?”]

    • marknesop says:

      You could clear up the whole affair, and satisfy everyone’s mind that Russia actually shot down MH17 – or is protecting militants who did, either accidentally or on purpose – by simply explaining why the United States never produced its slam-dunk evidence, alluded to by no less than the American Secretary of State, in public, that the United States saw the missile launch by satellite, and knew its point of origin and time of launch to the foot and second.

      There’s a lot of other things I’d like to know, like why the most corrupt country in Europe was allowed to run the investigation in which it was itself a suspect, and why it was a party to a non-disclosure agreement that says if any of the parties doesn’t like the conclusion reached by the investigation, it will not be disclosed. But just give me that one, and I’ll be a believer. Show me the American satellite evidence which captured the launch.

  39. Warren says:

    Published on 4 Sep 2017
    The spiral downward – this applies to both Russia-U.S. relations and the continuing events on the Korean peninsula. Have we passed the point of no return?
    CrossTalking with Mark Sleboda, Victor Olevich, and Alex Christoforou.

  40. Cortes says:

    Dismayed by the intra Stooge bitching.

    • Special_sauce says:

      I agree, but we can’t let Matt the Schmuck get away with his BS.

    • yalensis says:

      Stooges don’t all share a single political ideology. Russophilia is a spectrum of different and sometimes opposing political philosophies. Within the Russophile community, there is a range of views from monarchists to Republicans to socialists. There are also fascists and anti-fascists. One could hope that all could agree on at least the one minimum thing, which is opposition to American imperialism and war-mongering.

    • Matt says:

      It’s lively debate. Plus it’s Labour Day in Canada and the U.S., so everyone is probably drunk or something.

      To all my fellow Canadian friends here, including kirill, Mark, and saskydisc: Happy Labour Day.

      And the same to my American friends.

      And on that note, I bid farewell to you all. It’s been a great ride, but I’ve once again exhausted all topics of debate. I will come back to discuss important developments in topics related to Venezuela’s internal politics, MH17, Russian disinformation, and the survival of the dynastic North Korean squatter regime.

        • Jen says:

          At least he’s exhausting himself faster and the topics he can discuss are very limited in range and depth. With regards to North Korea, he can only talk about forced reunification with South Korea and overthrowing / assassinating Kim Jong-un (as if there were no other North Korean politicians outside his family who could replace him).

          • Patient Observer says:

            I was entertaining the thought that Matt-Down-With-Assad needed to recover from the psychological shock of the liberation of Deir el-Zour. His poor jihadists are now unloved and unwanted.

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

            That North Korean mania of his is quite silly.

            But let’s all remember that he goes off on these tangents because I (accurately) accused of being a Ukrainian. He evidently thinks he has more credibility if he pretends not to be a diasporite indulging an ethnic grudge, so we get endless rants about the Kims, heart-wrenching tales of his abuela starving under the cruel commandante and so on.

            Which makes me causally responsible for his flood of irrelevant shit.

            Sorry about the mess Mark, but this is what trolling is about – throwing a shill wildly of course with a mix of terse personal attacks, some grounded, some deliberately silly (obviously Matt isn’t actually the head of NAMBLA, just a long-time subscriber).

            • yalensis says:

              Like they say on American TV: “It’s time to deliver the profile.”

              The Un-Sub Matt is a brown-haired brown-skinned Ukrainian who speaks mova with a Spanish accent.
              He is a white, or rather, brown, male, between the ages of 15 and 75.

              As a boy, Matt was sexually molested by Putin at a judo tournament. This trauma made him anti-Russian. He subsequently emigrated to Venezuela where he joined the Galician diaspora and converted to the Catholic Church. Where he was promptly molested by Jesuit priests.
              In Caracas, Matt met a Korean woman named Yum-Yum Kim. They fell in love and moved to Seoul. But one day Matt was kidnapped by North Korean goons. He was held in a slave labor camp and sexually molested numerous times. Matt then made it his life’s work to reunite the Korean peninsula so that he could find his beloved Yum-Yum again. He escaped from the work camp and traveled around the Korean countryside singing, “A Wandering Mistrel I…”

              THE END

      • Jen says:

        Always does – he loves punishment.

      • marknesop says:

        Happy Labour Day (belated). Toodles for now.

    • saskydisc says:

      Try to see it as a display of strength. The divisions are insufficiently threatening to be cowed by someone pushing the party line. In that sense, I am grateful for being declared an enemy (as an example of intra-Stooge bitching). Putting cards on tables is healthy, and indicative of an adult mindset and sincerity. If minds are changed later, it would not hurt, but life goes on otherwise.

      More generally, Matt is unfortunately representative in terms of lack of honesty towards oneself, lack of life experience, lack of reasoning, unwillingness to take risks either in one’s thoughts or in life for truly principled stands. And merely mocking him does not do anything but strengthen his resolve, in a matter where only his pride is at stake—I say this regardless of whether or not he is an agent; most agents are simple humans, when all is said and done.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Yes, he is with little life experience but driven by monomania and zealotry. He finds a sort of validation by eliciting our comments so yes, mocking him makes him feel worthwhile. He lost it on the topic of his possible childhood experience. Note that he breezily dismissed every comment not to his approval yet there he came unglued.

        But, by “agent” what do you mean?

        • saskydisc says:

          By agent, I mean in the paid employ of others, be it a state party, e.g. as police agent provocateur or propagandist, in the service of the likes of Browder, or otherwise, i.e. not stating the things he states of his own sincere conviction and volition. Although I would imagine that certain trauma might lead to monomania. I generally advocate the use of Ilan Shalif’s general sensate focussing technique to address such problems.

          • saskydisc says:

            I quick comment on my link. The red and black flag is that of the CNT FAI, which was an anarchist mass trade union that fought Franco in 1936, and thus has no relation to Pravyy Sektor.

      • marknesop says:

        The lack of life experience charge strikes a responsive chord. Various mentions of dragging this one and that one before the ICC to face justice reminded me several times of a lonely figure hauled before that august body, who decided to use his lemons to make lemonade, and buckled down to a defense so vigorous that in the end he ‘mysteriously died’ in his cell before the verdict could be rendered – Slobodan Milosevic.

        I would have been 45 when he was imprisoned, so the excuse of not much life experience would not really be a very good defense – quite simply, I thought I knew everything. So I was in the front row of those babbling that Milosevic was a bloodthirsty dictator who ‘killed his own people’, and all the usual boilerplate nonsense which is the tools and trappings of the regime-change trade. And I think that experience changed me more than any other, making me suspicious of western media campaigns and go-along push politics and false-flag operations staged to evoke a predictable emotional response.

        In short, before that I was quite a bit like Matt, in many ways. I’m sure he’s considerably younger than that, so there is hope that he will experience his own Damascene conversion. And be ashamed of himself, as I was and am.

        • saskydisc says:

          Do not worry. Once upon a time, I was part of activist networks that were tied to the vampire squidlet (Soros), not that we were aware, as there was much anger against Soros within these networks for the 1998 attack on east Asia, and I looked up to groups like OTPOR. Also, I had fantasies, utterly embarrassing in retrospect, that Thabo Mbeki was in any position to oppose neoliberalism beyond what he did, and even believed the “AIDS denialism” charge, namely that he allegedly denied that HIV caused AIDS.

          During the US invasion of Iraq, he banned CNN, with the consequence that my ethnic group, despite heavy racialist conservatism, was not generally exposed to the US propaganda, and has lead to the rebirth of Afrikaner anti-imperialism, even if none will admit Mbeki’s contribution.

        • saskydisc says:

          Being a part of the world means abetting various crimes at any one time, which is unavoidable. For all my complaints about USA and Canada, I pay taxes, and do not go to great lengths myself to stop the crimes about which I complain. Ultimately, it is up to the victims to stand up and put a stop to it, perhaps with help from nation-states with their own interests, leading to crimes that are orders of magnitude smaller (e.g. Russian industrial fishing in the Congo river, as compared to the mass slaughter of civilians enabled and perpetrated by certain countries east of DRC with western backing). In due time, if a more peaceful world is achieved, and overfishing of the oceans is slowed down and fish stocks recover, it will be up to these societies to renegotiate. It has been a while though since I last heard much about Russian trawlers.

  41. Special_sauce says:

    Lionel’s take on NK

  42. Special_sauce says:

    Link from above: Korean Friendship Association.

    “- Learn from the culture and history of the Korean People – Work for the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula”

    So much for Kim not favo(u)ring re-unification.

  43. Patient Observer says:

    Matt – I know your out there. Why do you continue to post here? You have won no “converts”. You have earned no respect. Your regarded as an irritant rather than a challenge. I suspect that you are angling to be banned by Mark so you can crow being censored for telling “the truth”. That is your exit strategy, yes?

  44. davidt says:

    Perhaps the Kerch bridge does not have sufficient clearance. Admittedly the article doesn’t appear to be especially well founded, but for those who still read Ben Aris: “Part of the problem is the new railway bridge section is too low to allow big ships through and so will significantly constrain access to the Azov sea for many Ukrainian ships, potentially causing a loss of up to 43% of traffic for the Mariupol Sea Port…”
    Aris’s quoted article suggests that this is part of Russia’s economic war on Ukraine.

    • Drutten says:

      It comes from these delusional fucks, who see Russian maskirovka in every bush and who are sponsored by the US NED:

      They claim that the sole purpose of the bridge is to harm Ukraine. Their idea is that the Russian masterplan is to ruin the economies of port cities Berdyansk and Mariupol so that these places may be invaded more easily, again bringing up that old tired meme from 2014 about how Russia wants to create a land supply bridge to Crimea by blitzkrieging itself through south-eastern Ukraine.

      There is literally no logic to any of this at all, it all contradicts itself over and over. Their numbers are likely taken from thin air as well.

      Another thing to keep in mind is this relationship between the Azov sea ports (rough 2016 figures, some from Lavenryuk himself):
      1. Rostov-on-Don (Russia): 1.2 million tons/month
      2. Mariupol (Ukraine): 970,000 tons/month
      3. Port Kavkaz (Russia) : 950,000 tons/month (not counting the ferry traffic to Crimea, which would yank up the volumes a lot)
      4. Azov (Russia): 550,000 tons/month
      5. Yeysk (Russia): 360,000 tons/month
      6. Temryuk (Russia): 250,000 tons/month
      7. Taganrog (Russia): 200,000 tons/month
      8. Berdyansk (Ukraine): 190,000 tons/month

      (by comparison, the Ukrainian cargo ports of Odessa and Nikolaev that have direct access to the Black Sea dwarf these in turnover, as does Russias Novorossiysk)

      Over at the Russia-language places where the bridge is being discussed in depth, there has been a lot of material published about the cargo traffic and the prospects of it.

      They could only find one type of vessel occasionally trafficking the Azov sea that’s taller (above the mean waterline) than the bridge’s vertical clearance, and that’s Panamax type of cargo vessel that cannot sail in Kerch strait (or the Azov sea itself) fully loaded anyway because the draught gets too big. They’ve on a few occasions gone in lightly loaded though and the general consensus was that those were rare exceptions.

      Mind you, all of these sudden complaints come after they’ve spent two years saying that the bridge won’t be built because it’s impossible and Russia sucks. My impression is simply that they’ve jumped to the next “best” thing now, seeing as the bridge is indeed real and everything, namely that it’s all an evil Russian plan.

      • Drutten says:

        Also, I don’t get why Ben is quoting these guys. BNE usually keeps a fairly high standard.

        • davidt says:

          Good to read your detailed response- I did realize that the study he was quoting from a dubious political document. I still read BNE, though it is clear there has been a change in editorial policy. As a general comment, many media outlets are falling into line with the dominant Western narrative. For another example, a few years ago Asia Times Online would publish interesting and insightful articles on many geopoltical conflicts but these days you often wonder where they find their writers.

      • Drutten says:

        And a photo from yesterday that gives you a sense of the scale:

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