Ukraine on the Proud Highway: Skidding in Broadside.

Uncle Volodya says, “Don’t waste time beating on a wall, hoping it will turn into a door.”

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
– Hunter S. Thompson, “The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967”

Whew! It’s been a hell of a ride, hasn’t it, Ukraine? But all roads end somewhere, just as this one must. Despite having the IMF and a host of other western institutions as your pit crew, spraying Febreze into the air to cover the smell of sweat, burning rubber and decomposition, the long, long road (from which there is no return) is drawing to its end. He ain’t heavy, he’s my client state.

Let’s have a look at the current freeze-frame from Trading Economics. Sourced from the World Bank and other global financial and analytic institutions, Trading Economics provides solid benchmark statistical data. In the case of Ukraine, nearly all the data comes from the state statistical service – so this is data Ukraine will admit to.

GDP growth rate – somewhat of a misnomer, it currently sits at 0.6%, a leap upward from the previous quarter’s dismal  -.03. That’s good news, surely? Not necessarily: more about that in a bit. Unemployment rate; 9.1%, down slightly from the previous 10.1%. To put that in perspective, it’s nearly double that of Russia, which is the target of international sanctions that restrict its ability to borrow, rather than the west’s pillow-boy, being coddled with low-interest loans and outright financial gifts. Inflation rate, 16.2%, up a bit from the previous 15.9%. Interest rate, unchanged at 12.5%. Balance of trade, a gulp-inducing -$827 million, another couple of hundred million further from break-even than last quarter’s -$552 million USD. And government debt to GDP ratio, 79%; a full 9% worse than last quarter’s 70%.

This is a snapshot of a country in serious trouble. But how can that be, you say, or you should. Ukraine’s western backers are doing everything they can short of just flying in planeloads of money and throwing it out the windows.

The short answer is that the west has failed in its project to turn Ukraine into the ever-popular imaginary icon of a prosperous western-oriented market democracy. But the magnitude and depth of that failure have yet to be plumbed. And let’s understand each other here: I’d love to cheer for the west, I really would. I live here, I like it here, and generally I am fond of its people, its culture and its values. I have a real problem with some of its governments, but that’s my privilege as a resident of a free society.

But imagine for a second that the west is a child, and you are its parent. When it does something bad, do you reward it? Hell, no. When it does something bad which hurts other people, should the punishment be lighter, tougher, or should there be none? Setting social and even international boundaries for your policies is broadly little different from parenting. If you reward bad behavior, it is the same as encouraging it.

Western agencies and special interests, proudly led by the US State Department, overthrew the elected government of Ukraine and put in place a hand-picked crowd of revolutionaries and oligarchs. This is not even a matter for debate; the Maidan was lousy with State Department officials, American senators, European diplomats and fixers, and the former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State and the former United States Ambassador to Ukraine were caught red-handed, on the telephone, planning the new government which would result while Yanukovych was still nominally President. The western democracies put the revolutionary government in place, interfered constantly in the subsequent election with their relentless promotion of Poroshenko (considering the second-largest Ukrainian diaspora is in Canada), encouraged the martial punishment of eastern Ukraine in what Kiev likes to call the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) (because using the Ukrainian military against Ukrainian citizens is forbidden by the country’s constitution) and encouraged Kiev in every one of its anti-Russian activities in a clear attempt to stoke enmity between the two. The western democracies continue to prop up the demonstrably-unpopular Poroshenko government – although they were quick to help overthrow Yanukovych, who was more popular before the coup that drove him from the country than Poroshenko was only a year after taking office. He’s even less popular now. Last, but far from least, two of the western democracies – Canada and the United States – joined non-entity Palau and Corruption-capital Ukraine in voting against the Russian-sponsored Resolution on the Condemnation of Glorification of Nazism. Please note that only one of those countries wields a UN veto, which should not detract from the shame of the others. I doubt anyone will forget it.

The western democracies – I’d like to call them something else, but just ‘the west’ makes me sound too commie-lover – pressured their own institutions to pervert and subordinate their own good-governance rules to politics, in order to allow Ukraine to continue receiving money although the former rules prohibited it. And now, at last, we are reaping the wages of stupidity and partisanship. Are these behaviors appropriate to reward, or punishment? You tell me, Dad and Mom.

Anyway, back to economics for a moment. Ukraine’s GDP showed a little bit of growth, which we speculated might be encouraging. Is it? Not really.

When the bottom fell out of the Ukrainian hryvnia, Ukrainians who still had a bit of money were desperate to protect the value of the currency they held. Please note that the site referenced tries to link the crash of the hryvnia to Yanukovych’s decision to turn away from the European Union Association Agreement. In fact, you can match it almost to the minute to the explosion of violence on the Maidan.

The tendency at the time was to purchase foreign currency as a hedge, often American dollars. But that has changed – changed in a way which presents a false indicator of Ukrainian fiscal stability.

What is driving the Ukrainian GDP growth is a boom in construction. In a country where the standard of living is steadily declining. If those two statements seem like they shouldn’t go together, it’s because they don’t.  Driven off of their foreign-currency position by the failure of the hryvnia to come back, and to rise in value against the American dollar, coupled with the latter currency’s weakness, Ukrainians are plowing their savings into housing as an investment, hoping to protect what remains of their cracked nest eggs.

Meanwhile, the biggest hard-currency contribution to the Ukrainian economy, aside from Russian investment in Ukraine (the biggest of the country’s investors by quite a stretch), is remuneration by the Ukrainians who have gone abroad to work. Where have most of them gone? Well, what language do most of them speak? That’s right – Russian. The great majority of those who fled the country went to ‘the aggressor’, Russia, from whence they now send home nearly a quarter of the Ukrainian state budget, and 7% of GDP. How long before it sinks in among the western meddlers that their project to split Ukraine away from Russia has instead left Russia with a turn-key implosion option that it can exercise, remotely, any time it likes? Can there be any doubt that only pity stays its hand? It certainly is not fear of the west, whose sanctions are the best thing to happen to Russia in decades.

If it was me who brought about this epic cock-up, this cluster-fuck for the Guinness records…I’d be pretty ashamed of myself. But it wasn’t me. In fact, I think you will find I argued against just about every foolish, wrong-headed and mean-spirited course the western democracies have taken.

But that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of pity at their disastrous consequences.

This entry was posted in Corruption, Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Law and Order, Military, Politics, Russia, Strategy, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

854 Responses to Ukraine on the Proud Highway: Skidding in Broadside.

  1. Jen says:

    For anyone who has just over 34 minutes to spare, here is Vladimir Putin’s speech in the final plenary session of the 14th session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi.

    English-language transcript of the speech plus further discussion with Fyodor Lukyanov, Hamid Karzai (former President of Afghanistan), Jack Ma (founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group) and Margarita Simonyan (RT) at this link:

    • marknesop says:

      Well, well: look at that – Kosovo came up. Says Putin, European leaders presided over the disintegration of several European states and did not hide their joy. But now they are all in a sweat about Catalonia. He suggests that there are apparently ‘good’ independence movements and ‘bad’ independence movements. Trust Putin not to gild the lily.

    • yalensis says:

      Putin made a lot of good points, but lost me at “Will Artificial Intelligence become an entity separate from humans?”
      Excuse me, dude, but that is simply laughable B.S.!
      (I can’t believe a guy as smart as Putin drank the A.I. Kool-aid!)

      • Patient Observer says:

        Corporations are entities separate from humans – very deep, I know:)

        I don’t think that he was imagining a huge think tank with tentacles wrapped around necks. Rather he could have been referring to the reliance of “AI” to do things like turn off the lights at night, feed the cat and drive our cars. AI can disconnect humans from the world that matters to such a degree that we become unhinged; dominated by the goal of stimulating pleasure neurons while AI cleans up after us. It would be narcissism gone wild.

        Also AI in the form of facial and voice recognition, a cashless society (all transaction would be monitored and analyzed) and addiction to social media provides the means to regulate human affairs and root out the malcontents. Of course, the error rate would be phenomenal but perhaps sufficient to crush resistance.

        But it won’t happen. Most of the world would be too poor to afford such luxuries even with the likes of Google and FB trying to wire the world’s population to the internet for “their own good”. But, they will try and I think that may be what Putin’s warning is about.

        • yalensis says:

          If that’s what he means, then these are valid concerns.
          I was just worried that Putin had bought into the Terminator-type future where digital robots acquire consciousness and purpose – argg!
          It is far more likely that we will encounter hostile intelligent (but non-digital) aliens who will hook us up for bio-fuel, like those chaps in The Matrix!

          • Patient Observer says:

            It may already have happened but rather than bio-fuel, they feed off our flabby ego-centric narcissistic mental energy. You know, demons of old or inorganic beings in the world of Carlos Castaneda. Or, something completely beyond our comprehension may be at work. Or, it could be just weird genetic mutations that caused aberrant mental states of those individuals who seek to rule us. Need to keep an open mind.

          • Jen says:

            Isn’t it more likely that AI systems end up being so complicated that even sub-sections of them become difficult for one person or a group of people to describe properly, even if they were using another database or system to describe them? In that sense, we end up losing control over these AI systems and in that sense they become “foreign” to us.

            There is also the possibility that at a sub-atomic level, something in these systems may flip and lead to a viral domino effect that spreads through AI systems and they start to behave as if they had acquired consciousness.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          The prevalence of the so-called “A.I.” in the future would be notriously countered by the combine law of Parkinson-Murphy, i.e. “The increas of capacity and quantity of resources of any system does not affect the efficiency of its operation, since all new resources and even some of the old ones would be wasted on eliminations of internal problems (errors) that arise as a result of the very increase in resources.”. One only has to look at the space science sphere right now.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      If granny had become POTUS there might have been a lot more radiation around the world because of her “charm”.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      The next logical step for her is walking around naked in public while the NYT lavishes praise on her stunning new clothes.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Why don’t they just give her a lifetime achievement award for something so she can stop trying?

      • yalensis says:

        “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?”
        Maybe it’s your poor grammar, for starters, Killery.
        The correct grammar is: “Why ain’t I 50 points ahead.”

        Also, to answer ME’s question, Graham Norton is an English comedian and talk-show host. He is a completely vile individual. 99% of his so-called “humor” consists of poorly-constructed fart jokes. And this from the nation which produced Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, along with so many other literary greats.

      • marknesop says:

        More of her crackpottery which did not make prime-time. Even discounting generously for remarks or moments which might have been deliberately taken out of context, she has a quick temper and a mile-wide sense of entitlement, and does not like being contradicted or situations in which control of the conversation is taken away from her.

    • marknesop says:

      She’s still trying to make it all about her gender, and that she lost because Trump hates women. By extension, that would suggest those who voted for him are also afraid of the stereotypical ‘strong, confident woman’. Does this mean she is giving up on the premise that the Kremlin hacked him into the office? I doubt it.

      It’s comical how they keep insisting she ‘looks Presidential’. What does that mean, exactly? If you don’t say anything, anyone could look presidential because the whole backbone of the American Dream is that anyone could be President. But in reality it is a choice from a very small and very select pool, so perhaps they mean she looks like a Clinton.

    • cartman says:

      Celebrities like to appear on Graham Norton’s show because he’s always easy on them.

  2. Warren says:

    Guardian Wires
    Published on 19 Oct 2017
    The company’s last car will roll off the production line today, signalling the end of car manufacturing in Australia and the death of an Australian cultural icon. The company, which began mass-producing cars with the FX Holden in 1948, employed 23,000 people at its peak in 1964. Among its range were classics including the EH Holden, the Kingswood, the Monaro and the Commodore, one of Australia’s bestselling cars of all time

    The de-industrialisation of the Australian economy continues unabated. Australia appears to be content being a raw material and natural resource exporting country. So long as China’s appetite for Australian iron ore and coal remains, the “lucky country” continues to be such.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Australia should consider diversification as China’s coal consumption continues a three year decline:

      The article mentioned that China is closing inefficient and/or dangerous coal mines thus reducing domestic production. However, coal imports also decline since topping out in 2014. The cost of coal in China rose substantially (I suspected mandated rather than market response in an effort reduce consumption).

      I did not have much success in finding recent data, but Indonesia is another major coal supplier to China. The biggest importer of coal is Japan which is not surprising. NK exports to China are a negligible amount.

      Coal production ins the US appears to be in a huge decline despite that shipment to Ukraine. Too many links to post so early in the morning. Trust but verify.

      • marknesop says:

        The hitch there is that the hard anthracite coal Ukraine burns in its power plants constitutes something like .02% of US production, and is not in great supply in the USA either. Ukraine’s power plants were built to burn it because they had a plentiful supply in the Donbas.

    • Jen says:

      Yes it’s very sad that car manufacturing in Australia has ended. Making cars has long been a bulwark of manufacturing in Australia since the late 1940s. So many other industries depend on car-making – industries such as making components for cars and the machines that help make cars – and in some parts of Australia, even entire towns have relied on car manufacturing as their major industry. Car making is a major driver of robotics development and it’s a shame that without a car manufacturing industry we will be missing out on so much other new technologies that could revitalise and diversify our economy.

      So much has changed though over the last 70 years: other countries in the East Asia region also make cars, but with cheaper labour (and hidden barriers that act as tariffs on Australian imports). The costs of shipping cars from these countries to consumer markets are much less compared to the costs of shipping cars from Australia to consumer markets (because Australia is so far away from export markets). Also in recent years the Federal government here (under Tony Abbott) refused to subsidise car manufacturing more money than the industry was accustomed to get even though in most countries including the US, Germany, China and Japan, government subsidisation of the car industry is a given.

      Now folks, remember that Tony Abbott after being deposed as Australian PM chooffed off to Ukraine to become part of Porky Pig’s panel of foreign advisors.

  3. Patient Observer says:

    Turns out one of the safer jobs with perks and benefits up the ying yang is to serve is the US military.

  4. Lyttenburgh says:

    The following piece ties in with my recent post about the deterioration of the US military hardware. This time the subject is “soft”-ware.

    The Vast Majority Of Americans In Their 20s Are Unfit For Military Service

    The military is facing a growing recruiting crisis: 71% of Americans between 17 and 24 can’t meet the minimum criteria for service, which places the burden of service on an ever-small and shrinking pool of troops with a family history of joining the military.


    Some quick math shows what the services are up against. For the Army, the recruiting goal for the coming fiscal year is roughly 180,000 new soldiers. According to a detailed analysis by Army Times, only 9.7 million out of the 33.4 million Americans between 17 and 24 meet the Army’s minimum standards. The reasons for disqualification range from failure to meet weight and fitness standards, misconduct, medical issues, mental health, and substance abuse concerns.

    Once you take into account whether or not the remaining 9.7 million are enrolled in college — and that the Army doesn’t want the bare minimum for its future soldiers — the recruiting pool shrinks to just 1.7 million. And that’s before you get to those who are even interested in enlisting. What you’re left with is just 136,000 potential recruits interested in joining out of the original pool of 33.4 million, Army Times reports.

    A less diverse, more insular volunteered force

    Military service is increasingly shouldered by a small subset of the population — a “warrior caste” of multigenerational military families — and that population is shrinking. According to a Nov. 11, 2016 Pew Research report, the number of veterans has fallen by half since 1980, and as it declines, so too does the share of Americans with close ties to the military — those most likely to volunteer for service.

    Roughly 80% of recruits entering the military have family members who served in the military; between 22% and 35% are children of veterans, depending on which service you look at, according to an Aug. 2 Slate analysis. Among Americans under 30, just a third have a relative with military service.

    This uneven recruitment is also keenly represented along geographic lines, with a disproportionate number of new troops hailing from rural towns or the South. In 2010, rural Americans accounted for just 20% of the population, but were responsible for providing 44% of military recruits, as Task & Purpose previously reported.


    As USNI points out, the recruitment problem would be compounded if the United States found itself in a security crisis that required a surge of fresh recruits.

    “What happens if we had a national emergency?” Bacon asked during the panel. “I’m concerned about our reserve structure.”

    Turns out it’s difficult for people on the lower end of the income scale (let’s not mince words about the people the armed forces generally attract) to stay in shape when dieting properly and working out is expensive, and a system whereby physical injuries are often aggravated because of lack of treatment. Thus, you have a generation that sits at home playing video games, eating junk food. Many have never played outside or played on team sports. Those that did stopped working out. Those that are fit are either too high or have a criminal record. College does give people the change to become an officer, but, again, they have to be fit and have no criminal record.

    Also, too many people are simply not fit enough: broken bones, sprained joints, torn muscles, mental issues. The shock of going from unfit flabby civilian to soldier/marine/airmen/sailor has been too much for a lot of people.

    The goal of Basic Training is to get a civilian up to speed and ready for military life. The problem is that many are just not ready and throwing more money/revising the whole Basic training won’t help even as a stopgap measure.

    • marknesop says:

      You could add Canada to that; when I was on my Senior Leadership Course in Quebec years and years ago, you could buy boots for half-price which were already highly shone, at the stores department. They had belonged to recruits who washed out of basic training within weeks, after having been issued their full uniform. I was told by the platoon leaders that the great majority of them had done so because they were unable to meet the fitness standard. An astonishing number were unable to climb a rope, too fat and soft from a life of playing video games and being driven everywhere they went by their mothers. When you think about it, few young men in North America are fit for military service just as they are, except for those who became interested in sports in school and continued to pursue them on an amateur or perhaps state/province level. Sports generally demands the same standard as the military, especially the infantry, with emphasis on distance running and upper-body strength.

      When I was in school, Physical Education (more often known as “Gym Class”) was mandatory and you could not elect not to take it. I’m not sure what the present position is on it, because although society as a whole recognizes the dangers of the obesity epidemic and great strides have been made against the elimination of sugary snacks in schools, mandatory physical exercise bumps up against the human-rights priority.

      To those who pursue regular sports you could add the element who are concerned with physical fitness for its health benefits, and are regular runners or cyclists or swimmers but not interested in team sports. But the two groups together are a pretty small pool overall compared with those eligible for military service because of their age.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “When I was in school, Physical Education (more often known as “Gym Class”) was mandatory and you could not elect not to take it.”


        Mark, right now my brain is ready to give me a BSOD, trying to process the idea that PhysEd (rus. “физическая культура” aka “физ-ра”) could NOT be mandatory at school.

        I just… just… AAAAAH!

        “…mandatory physical exercise bumps up against the human-rights priority.”

        Here comes BSOD for me…

        I mean – ah, c’mon! You are Canadians! You have badass hockey teams!

        • marknesop says:

          That’s true. But that’s because we are descended from star beings, and meant to be a little above. But once we used to be a little more like Russians than we are now.

          Seriously, there are quite a few people who pursue a high standard of fitness for health reasons, and quite a few who pursue it for sports ambitions. But schools are getting softer and softer around the edges and our curriculum – generally speaking – is edging ever closer to that terrible model in which failure is too traumatic for children, and so any standard they achieve is a success. Parents also have too much clout in a lot of situations, and schools bend over backward to accommodate religious customs and enforce tolerance and acceptance. That’s not necessarily bad, but it sometimes gives parents a stick to beat the school with. Especially those who make a business out of being offended.

      • Jen says:

        A big part of the issue also with declining levels of fitness among young people – Australia also has a problem with rising levels of obesity – is that in many areas where young people live, community facilities catering to their needs don’t exist, often because when local councils propose building them, they are shouted down at council meetings: few people want skateboard parks, basketball courts or hang-out areas next to their homes or schools because of perceived associations (however actual or not) with vandalism, graffiti and drug dealers. Suburbs and housing developments left to the whims of private developers don’t feature enough open space areas like parks that would encourage families with children to walk or play together. Even the design of neighbourhoods (not enough pavement areas or sidewalks, not enough pedestrian crossings across streets, public transport being too far away) can be enough to discourage walking and other forms of exercise.

        Another complication is that with the emphasis on native plants being planted in parks and public areas (because they help to conserve water among other things), the rates of allergies caused by airborne pollen among children and even adults go up. I have no idea how these allergies can affect children’s participation in outdoor sport, especially team sports. Of course, exercise can help people to control their allergies but children especially need the right kind of guidance, like breathing exercises and meditation / relaxation exercises to help control their allergic reactions, so they can exercise.

        One major paradox too is that the most sports-obsessed nations like Australia have this issue with obesity and low levels of fitness among the general public, probably because so much spending on sport goes to the elite levels of sports and not on encouraging people at beginner and beginner-to-intermediate levels to keep going. Many migrants coming to live in Australia are from countries where sport is seen as a Western luxury pursued by a small rich elite and / or where physical activity is to be looked down upon because only very poor people engage in it.

        • Fat Bastard says:

          Dieting without exercise is problematical as well.

        • Fern says:

          Just to add to those reasons for lower levels of physical activity listed by Jen – here in the UK there has been a huge selling-off of school playing fields. This is called ‘maximising assets’ by those advocating it – as schools are (deliberately) kept short of funds, land sales seem a good way of boosting income. Most of the sales are, of course, to private developers who erect yet more overly-expensive blocks of flats on them. Also, in the US, there seems a shocking shortage of fresh food stores – in some parts of the country, you have to travel for literally miles to find anywhere selling fresh fruit, veg and meat.

  5. Patient Observer says:

    He{Suvorov, Russian press secretary) pointed out that when picking the right car for their country’s Interior Ministry, Slovaks are “reasonably guided by its characteristics and advantages over other analogues in the market.”

    “And it turns out that the Russian-made Tigr is safer, more reliable and cheaper than American, German, French and Swiss armored cars,” he said.

    Suvorov added that Western competitors are doing their best to disrupt the Russia-Slovakia deal on Tigr supplies in order to sell Slovaks their own military equipment. They refer to various arguments, including “the factor of [anti-Russian] sanctions,” according to Suvorov.

    A major purpose of the sanctions appears to be an effort to protect Western markets and not just “punishment” of Russia. With the availability of highly competitive Russian civil aircraft, it would be easy to surmise that the sanctions have an overt commercial goal.

    • kirill says:

      The west is all about free trade as long as they have the advantage. When faced with a serious competitor making superior products it throws a tantrum and puts up trade barriers. I guess the WTO does nothing to protect Russia’s interests.

      • marknesop says:

        The west is great with free trade so long as it gets to make the rules but not follow them. Trump’s current hard line at the NAFTA talks is exemplary – he wants to increase American content in everything and create more opportunity for American business…without any quid pro quo whatever. Really he figures he is in a no-lose situation; he is opposed to NAFTA anyway, as a businessman, and so he figures he will drive such a hard bargain that if Mexico and Canada walk away in disgust, he got what he wanted. If they capitulate, there will still be NAFTA but the deck will be so stacked in America’s favour that the other two parties will basically just be draining their resources into the USA.

    • Matt says:

      Since I’m here ’cause of ME:

      Some Reddit guy has the following to say about that Sputnik article:


      They haven’t even come to a decision on whether they’ll purchase any additional vehicles either. They’re still in negotiations. Regardless, I fail to see how this is really news to begin with and why it targets HMMWVs. There are plenty of NATO members that don’t use HMMWVs and use their own domestic vehicles.

      Do we need an article saying how the Baltic states still use AK-74s or how Bulgaria and Poland still use their MiG-29s and Su-25s?


      You mean a heavily armored Russian produced MRAP is superior to a lightly armored light vehicle from the 1970s, color me surprised.

      The article is comparing apples and oranges specifically because it goes out of its way to target the USA. Why doesn’t the article talk about why the Slovaks are looking at the Tigr vs Rheinmetalls Survivor? Or why aren’t they purchasing Oskhkosh MRAPs.
      That would be more interesting and far more relevant than US bashing for the sake of US bashing.


      Not my domain, so I can’t judge.

  6. Northern Star says:

    Koch Roots:

    “According to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, Koch partnered with William Rhodes Davis to build the third-largest oil refinery serving the Third Reich, a project which was personally approved by Adolf Hitler.[15] Koch President and COO David L. Robertson acknowledged that Winkler-Koch provided the cracking unit for the 1934 Hamburg refinery, but said that it was but one of many “iconic” American companies doing business in Germany at the time.[”

    So What you say..
    Well ..daddy Fred’s sons are butt buddies with current CIA Director Pompeo:

    • Northern Star says:

      Once again the dmorista comment from the above wsws link is MOST instructive:

      “dmorista • 9 hours ago
      For one thing, taking a cue from the Corporate Controlled Propaganda and Misinformation operations, Pompeo should always be referred to as something like “Arch-reactionary Koch Brother’s tool, Mike Pompeo”; seeing as that is exactly who this loathsome right-wing operative is. It is ironically fitting that the creepy Koch Brothers, whose family fortune was founded by their reactionary father while working developing petroleum resources in the Soviet Union, are the patrons of their servant Pompeo.
      The next question is, “just how much more vicious can the CIA become?”. 30 or 40 years ago the CIA was the lead agency in implementing covert murders, coups, and other manipulations of societies; both in the Third World, but also in the developed countries including the good old “homeland” USA. Significant changes occurred, basically beginning with the Church Committee hearings in the late 1970s, and at this point 70% of the public monies spent on covert spying and thuggery now goes to private contractors. There are 17 secret police and covert action agencies run by the U.S. Government (if we include the domestic political police, the FBI), and they predictably engage in turf wars and also commit all kinds of outrageous excesses.
      All this is part of what I call “The Continuum of Coercion”, a system that is run by the U.S. State Apparatus for the benefit of the rich and powerful, both foreign and domestic, who manipulate the levers of power. From nosy social workers ready to investigate some overworked single mother because her child’s couture is not up to snuff at the overcrowded warehouse “school” her children must attend; to the mighty bombers flying along the coast of North Korea or attacking targets to support some favored religious fanatics attacking the, flawed but legally constituted, government of Syria; this juggernaut of terror and violence straddles the globe. Inside the U.S. we see increasing repression and strong-arm tactics, Oklahoma (a hotbed of “fly-over fascism”) has passed state legislation that allows prosecutors to charge protesters with “terrorism” and seize their property including their homes (a tactic developed the U.S. in the bogus “war on drugs”, confiscations being a standard authoritarian tactic); the City of Dickinson, Texas has required any citizen applying for Hurricane Harvey aid to sign a pledge not to participate in any boycotts of Israel; and the cabal of fascists and toadies that make up the Republican majority of the House of Representative has proposed legislation “that would make it a felony to support certain boycotts of companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories”. Many other examples of this sort of repression abound, long gone are the days when the U.S. ruling class could also offer the carrot, of a decent life, along with the stick of repressive governmental actions A vicious and ignorant provincial loudmouth like Arch-reactionary Koch Brother’s tool, Mike Pompeo, is the perfect factotum to head the CIA during this endgame stage of U.S. global hegemony.

      We are clearly in the final stages of U.S. dominance of global affairs. The Chinese and Russians, after some unpleasant interactions with Swift, the World Bank, the IMF, and other finance capital institutions dominated by U.S. and allied interests, are about done creating their own parallel and much better financed financial institutions. The hollowed-out U.S. has steadily less and less ability to influence world events. The plans to provide massive tax give-aways to the rich and perhaps double the National Debt in the process, while cutting vital social services for the great majority of the domestic population in the meantime, promise a rough ride domestically. Crocodile tears shed about the poor saps killed in various commando operations, and the lies about the military being cut to the bone, cannot hide the fact that the U.S. military and covert action agencies are unable to achieve the control of strategic areas and resources like they used to. Allies are jumping ship and enemies are increasingly unafraid. The blowhard Arch-reactionary Koch Brother’s tool, Mike Pompeo, can bloviate all he wants but will find it very difficult to change the general trend of events.”

      >>>Texas has required any citizen applying for Hurricane Harvey aid to sign a pledge not to participate in any boycotts of Israel; and the cabal of fascists and toadies that make up the Republican majority of the House of Representative has proposed legislation “that would make it a felony to support certain boycotts of companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories”<<<<

      Tell me pray tell where or when have vermin like Kuntlery or Sanfart raged against this type of ultra police state madness?? It's 4:10 PM EST October 21..I just tread this motherfucking shit in the course of getting background material for this comment…

      How the fuck is the Texas Hurricane Harvey thing not an open and shut violation of the First Amendment??

    • Patient Observer says:

      Speaking of Pompeo:

      In a recent statement, Pompeo talked brazenly about assassinating Kim Jong-un. The CIA director stated,

      “With respect to … if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I’m just not going to talk about it.
      Someone might think there was a coincidence. ‘You know, there was an accident.’ It’s just not fruitful”.

      Pompeo then ominously stated that the CIA is “going to become a much more vicious agency”.

      Reasons for the efforts to regime-change NK may include preventing the eventual integration of NK’s economy with China and Russia. Once such an integration is achieved SK would have little choice but to join in and be part of the Eurasian one belt-one road economy. Japan would be left twisting in the wind unless it could overcome its US masters and also set aside its racial prejudices. As for Australia, who cares (no disrespect to Jen)?

  7. J.T. says:

    For interested readers: a brief review of Pelevin’s The Hall of Singing Caryatids.

  8. ucgsblog says:

    Ukraine gets trolled on Quora:

    Question: Is Ukraine still building the great wall of Ukraine along their border with Russia?

    Answer: Ukraine hired a contractor that spent 2 weeks digging an anti- tank trench down the street from where I live as part of the wall project. The 40 ton excavator worked from dawn until well into the night every day using mobile lighting and headlamps after dark.The result was a 6 inch deep- 1 meter (3 ft) wide trench that might sprain the ankles of any tanks attempting to drive by it. After 1 year the grass grew high enough that it became a trip hazard for stray dogs and escaped cows trying to cross into Russia through the old barbed wire fence and trees that line the border.

    After 2 years, the edges of the anti-tank trench were sufficiently eroded so, while hordes of Russian soldiers and their bears may not break their ankles trying to cross it, they may trip and fall scraping their knees and lose their resolve to cross over. After 3 years it has become a common goat path for miscreant milking goats on their way to pasture. The malicious goats stop and take a pee in an attempt to turn it into Arsenei Yatzenyuk’s fabled alligator moat. But, because of poor planning on Kiev’s part, there simply are not enough goats in the region to fill the moat and make importing alligators worthwhile.

  9. Cortes says:

    Here’s one for the reconfigured “Lyttenburgh Guide For The Literary Well-being of The Young “:

    Not only but also…

    “The Devil’s Carousel “ is a fabulous suite of short stories about the dying days of a car factory…

    But JT’s claim to fame (according to the gentry) is for “Swing Hammer Swing” his novel. The greatest character in fiction is Talkie Sloan, an obnoxious Communist pub regular, whose value is unappreciated in life… read on. The luvvies have zip, nada, rien to say about Talkie…

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    Typical Daily Telegraph shite on Russia, which rag is, on occasion, referred to by a well known troll as a reliable source of information (his other sources being the ever truthful and objective BBC, RFE/RL, RBK, Moscow Times, Meduza etc.) about Russia, which shows how little the writers for the Tory Rag really know about the Evil Empire:

    Putin’s chic challenger Ksenia Sobchak insists she’s a real candidate and not a Kremlin stooge

    • marknesop says:

      Why is Navalny so frequently described as the ‘fiery opposition figure’? What is ‘fiery’ about him? He is far from a dynamic speaker, and ‘critic’ just about covers his act – I have yet to see anything like a ‘Navalny Plan’ to get Russia to its next progressive iteration, only vague nods to more freedom and democracy. Who gives a fuck about freedom and democracy if you don’t have a job that will allow you a decent standard of living? Where’s the Navalny economic plan?

      Let me save you the trouble; in the extremely unlikely event that Navalny came to power, he would be given a script by his western backers. That’s why he doesn’t need a plan. It would be just like the shock therapy plan of the 90’s, just like the remove-subsidies-privatize-everything plan for Ukraine. Create a Russian one percent of fabulously wealthy, and throw crumbs to the rest to shut them up. Encourage internal dissent and gradual disassembling of the country into independent states, always touted as the very model of democracy and choice.

    • Matt says:

      Just as I was about to unsubscribe from this comment feed, this guy had to make this fallacious comment about me.

      First of all, the interview with the former Russian troll factory employee is most definitely real, regardless of the tabloid nature of Da Telegraph. Further, I called RBC (or RBK, whatever), a well respected media outlet. And what’s your beef with Meduza?

      The funny thing is one can’t deny that the interviews are real, so this guy resorts to the guilt-by-association technique where you try to discredit the interviews by attacking the source directly.

      Is RBC/RBK also a “rag”? What about, a local St. Petersburg-based media outlet who also interviewed a troll and got internal documents from the troll factory? I suppose it’s another Russophobic fascist Sorosoid/CIA rag, right?

      Here, I’ll show you a real dirty rag:

      “Ukrainian invaders use Severodonetsk boarding school as children’s brothel”

      Darn those Russophobes!

      Kek, this is awesome propaganda. Slavic PizzaGate hoax.

  11. Warren says:

    Al Jazeera English
    Published on 22 Oct 2017
    The Weinstein story was suppressed by Hollywood, using its legal and financial muscle to keep a lid on it – until now. But there are also power centres in the US government that can dictate to Hollywood: the Pentagon and the CIA.

    • Patient Observer says:

      What did Weinstein do to get thrown under the bus by his peers? Just on general principles, it could be surmised that this basically a turf war among the Hollywood power elites that went nuclear on Weinstein. When one scumbag accuses another scumbag of being a scumbag, there is more to the story than feigned moral outrage.

      • yalensis says:

        When I first heard about the Hollywood scandal, I was confused for a minute, thinking, “Weinstein is so gay,why would he harrass women?”
        And then I realized that I was confusing Harvey Weinstein with Harvey Fierstein!

    • marknesop says:

      A brilliant piece of modern mockery. Russia is slowly getting its shit together along image-management lines the way the west does, in English. It just has to be careful not to go too far, and must restrict itself to this kind of mockery of actual contradictions, rather than crass ad-hoc demonization as the western media does. You would think the contradiction of the west’s bubbling admiration for Pavelenskiy’s antics while he was in Russia, and the shocked silence and disapproval now would be obvious, but it’s not and it needs to be shoved in people’s faces like this. And doing so is the main reason western governments are looking for excuses to restrict sources like RT and Sputnik. Ditto the creation and hyping of the ‘fake news’ meme. The west knows all about fake news.

  12. yalensis says:

    Only just got some time to start following Mishiko’s “Mikho-Maidan” (English-language hashtag is #Mikhomaidan.

    Apparently Saakashvili came up with a humdinger this morning: He promised his followers from the stump that the Ukraine will become a superpower dictating conditions to Europe and the world.

    «Там где есть сила, там будет Украинская сверхдержава, которая будет диктовать условия в Европе и всем другим, и где люди будут жить достойно… Что стоит между нами и этим будущим? Это маленькая кучка олигархов, барыг – президент и его окружение», — сказал он, заверив, что сменить нынешнюю власть при желании населения можно «очень быстро и очень безболезненно».

    «Кто-то говорит – «вот, этот гастролер, зачем он тут?» Все очень просто. Нет будущего ни у Грузии, ни у Молдовы, ни у Белоруссии, ни у кого в регионе, если не будет Украины», — подчеркнул Саакашвили.

    “If people shall unite as a force, then there will be a Ukrainian superpower which will dictate conditions in Europe and to all the others; and people [here] will be able to live their lives with dignity. What stands between us and that future? A tiny clique of oligarchs and speculators: The President and his entourage,” he said, assuring people that it would be a very quick and painless matter to overturn the existing government, given the desire of the people.
    “Some people say, oh, here is that travelling showman, why is he here? It’s very simple: There can be no future, neither for Gruzia, nor Moldavia, nor Belorussia, not for anyone in this region, if a Ukraine doesn’t exist,” Saakashvili underscored.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Does he even have any legal right to be in the country?

    • Patient Observer says:

      Some people say, oh, here is that travelling showman, why is he here?

      A good question yet to be answered by Mr. Saakashvili. The answer probably includes money, food, cocaine, public attention, food, sex and did I mention food?

    • marknesop says:

      Mmmmm…..that sounds suspiciously like his oratory while President of Georgia, when he predicted that within X years of his modernizations like the Glass Bridge in Tbilisi (between 3 and 5, I forget now and the source was assimilated into the government’s propaganda-pablum machine), there would be more tourists in Georgia than there were Georgians. Or like the time he told the US Senate that Georgia was so honest a place that people did not even lock their doors, the same year the US Government’s State Department released a travel warning for Georgia that warned against pickpockets and various forms of thieving, including stopping your car on the road and robbing you or making you get out and taking the car. Crimes carried out by Georgian and Ukrainian organized criminals are often blamed on the Russian mafia.

      • yalensis says:

        Also don’t forget when Mishka bragged that Gruzia didn’t need no stinking Russian wine market – they could always sell their best stuff to Western Europe!
        ’cause, see, the French and Germans and Italians don’t produce any good wines…

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, that’s right! And then when the Russian market opened up again, it was greeted with great relief by the Georgian winemakers, and impartial sources remarked that there was not much of an appetite in Europe for Georgia’s sweet and somewhat heavy wines, while Russians were very fond of them. Ukraine is learning the same bitter lesson now, and there would be nobody like Mishka to teach them. For the west’s part, they would probably be quite willing to give Mishka another project, to keep him busy and keep Ukraine from slipping back into the Russian orbit.

          Don’t forget that Poroshenko is not likely to be going anywhere, since Ukraine is making him richer and richer, and he is likely to dabble in politics even after he is evicted in the next election. But having Mishka there to split the vote could easily result in a Tymoshenko victory. And that would be just perfect, with all her histrionic squalling about getting a machine gun and going to kill some Katsaps. She did say ‘we’. Go ahead, Yooooolia. Let’s see you bring it.

          Speaking of Yoooolia, she now says that Poroshenko is using the army’s fuel contracts to launder money.

          “Everyone knows that five-billion contracts are not signed by the defense minister or by his deputy, or even by any head of the Defense Ministry department. All politicians know who signs five-billion contracts. And this is the president of Ukraine,” Tymoshenko said, while commenting on the scandal with the detention by the NABU of Deputy Defense Minister Ihor Pavlovsky and director of the public procurement department at the Defense Ministry Volodymyr Hulevych.

          Ponder for a moment the irony of Tymoshenko – who browbeat the director of Naftogas into signing the take-or-pay contract with Russia which caused Ukraine such grief and then flew to Russia herself to wrap it up, after being specifically told by the Rada cabinet not to do it – pointing the accusing finger at corruption in the energy business.

  13. Patient Observer says:

    It is a beautiful craft:

    Hope it finds commercial success. At the very least, it should become a must-have for oligarchs around the world.

    • Jen says:

      That craft is ideal for passenger commuter transport in harbour cities like Sydney and in cities straddling rivers. Shouldn’t be just for oligarchs and their friends and guests!

  14. Warren says:

    Why Soviet prison tattoos are popular

    The Gulag prison system of the Soviet Union produced a tattoo culture with dark, political and religious themes.

    Badges of pride for the hardest in society, they became commonplace throughout the criminal fraternity.

    Now a new generation of young tattoo enthusiasts in Moscow are bringing back the body art of the underworld.

    Video journalist: Elizaveta Vereykina

  15. Patient Observer says:

    I found the following article to be reasonable and consistent with my admittedly imperfect understanding of pre-WW II Russian/Soviet history. The consistency for me was was in finding a balance with the typically hyper-exaggerated claims of Western historians (evident to this day) and the demonstrated behavior of Slavic Orthodox who tend be be far less excessive than the West when it comes to war and genocide.

    Regarding Jews in Russia, the article maintains that many were associated with betrayal of Russia and many fought valiantly against the Western invaders so its a mixed bag in that regard.

    The article suggests that the Soviet Union concluded that it had 10 years to prepare for the Western invasion that was meant to murder them all. They had to collectivize to release labor for rapid industrialization and had to eliminate the anti-Russian 5th column. Only the foregoing allowed the Soviet Union to survive and then defeat the Western invasion. It seems quite plausible.

    The article also debunks (sorry) claims of multi-million deaths from the famine and more from the purges although this seems to still be a point of contention even among Russian historians not slavishly following the Western party line.

    I do recall that Gorbechev himself caused ire in the West when he stated that the numbers killed by the purges were in the tens of thousands and not millions.

    I think that it is time for Russia to write its own history without the slightest regard of what the West will think. That holds even more so for Serbia.

  16. Patient Observer says:

    Logic turned upside down:

    In 2010, Moscow and Washington recommitted themselves to a deal signed a decade earlier called the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement.

    That deal, which was negotiated in the 1990s, called for turning a chunk, though not all, of the countries’ weapons-grade plutonium stockpiles into other forms, such as fuel for nuclear power plants.

    Though the amount involved was just a fraction of the overall stockpiles — 34 tons — the deal has been widely viewed as a barometer of U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation.

    In the United States, the disposal process has long involved blending the plutonium with uranium and turning it into mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX, for use in power plants.

    A government facility being built in South Carolina for that purpose, however, has gone billions of dollars over budget and fallen far behind schedule. The fact that uranium prices have fallen amid a global glut means there’s even less demand among nuclear-plant operators for MOX.

    In February, following years of mounting criticism, President Barack Obama’s administration pulled funding for it, a decision that was praised by some experts and former Obama administration officials as “principled.”

    In place of the MOX plant, the U.S. government is leaning toward a “dilute and dispose” approach or “immobilization.” That involves adding the plutonium to a nonradioactive substance, encasing it in glass or metal-can type containers or oil drums, and burying it at a federal waste site in New Mexico. Unlike with MOX, experts say this method could still allow for plutonium to be extracted some day and put back into weapons, though with difficulty.

    This is what likely prompted Putin’s response to a question that appeared to have been planted by organizers of the April 8 St. Petersburg forum.

    I highlighted both sets of text in bold face as particularly hilarious and 1984esque claim. Of course, any question that rightly challenges the legitimacy of US policy MUST be planted.

    In addition, the US administration was in a corner; either US nuclear technology was inferior or the US was reneging on an important nuclear agreement called a barometer of US-Russian nuclear cooperation? So, whatever it was, lets characterize the violation as “principled”. Wow, just wow.

  17. davidt says:

    Max van der Werff has posted another article on MH17 that gives his opinion on the current state of play. The article is in Dutch so most will need the machine translator. There is little new in the public view but Max is always worth reading.

  18. Moscow Exile says:

    Власти США аннулировали визу финансиста Уильяма Браудера

    23.10.2017, 06:46
    US authorities have revoked financier William Browder’s visa

    Hear the little piggies squeal on Twitter:

    And from the №1 arse-wipe of the British liberal chattering classes:

    Russia puts British Putin critic on Interpol wanted list

    I say chaps! Doncha ya know the bloke’s British?

    He’s as British as I’m a Russkie!

    Browder — born and bred in Chicago, Illinois. He only took British citizenship, I’m sure, so as to dodge paying US tax on his foreign earnings.

  19. Matt says:

    What? I didn’t know that state TV demonizing independent media would cause people to attack them.

    “Russia’s Journalism Union Blames State TV For Stabbing Attack on Editor”

    It’s funny, because we keep hearing how the so-called “alternative” media are being stifled by the U.S./CIA/Google, etc. And all the victimhood about RT. But just take a look at this. Direct attacks on state television demonizing alternative media in Russia.

    But it get’s better:

    Chechen Prosecutor’s Office ordered to eliminate violations in locating Zelimkhan Bakaev

    But I thought the gay purge was just Western propaganda, disseminated by the CIA-controlled Novoya Gazeta?

    The Chechen authorities then staged a video of Mr. Bakaev, in which they forced him to pretend he was in Germany:


  20. Cortes says:

    From around the halfway mark Max Keiser holds forth on the qualities of RT and its critics:

    Spoiler alert: he doesn’t miss the goal and hit the wall behind.

  21. Drutten says:

    Wow, Gazprom-owned radio station Ekho had one of its journalists attacked by an Israeli physicist.

    The man, subsequently identified as Boris Gritz, a Jerusalem University alumnus, a physicist and software developer turns out to have been writing a blog for several years, revealing that he’s long been obsessed with Felgenhauer, accusing her of invading his mind and telepathically harassing him, with the first entries of his detailing this “telepathic abuse” written way back in 2015. His blog posts also repeatedly claim he’s been hacked by Israeli security services and Felgenhauer herself, among other things.

    He is no fan of Russian authorities either, and seems to think there’s a grand conspiracy against him perpetrated by everyone from Putin to Mossad. Most of his blog seems to revolve around his failed career though, which he too ascribes to this conspiracy against him, obsessively going over all the times he gets rejected when applying for various jobs in Israel and so on.

    What a fucking nutcase.

    Seems like he flew to Moscow pretty recently, as most of his online activity is out of Israel up until just now. He also wrote a distinct threat towards Felgenhauer shortly before flying to Russia.

    • Evgeny says:

      I don’t read a lot about politics, but one of Russian newspapers I thoroughly enjoy is Vzglyad. And their recent piece about the design of a new Russian 2000 rouble bank note is yet another gem, which also provides commentaries on a cult song of 1990s and the generation of 1970s:

      I was born in 1980s, so I’m on the side of plainly enjoying the text, rather than supporting or opposing the main claims of it as regards the generation of 1970s.

      • Evgeny says:

        Oops! Responded to the wrong thread. Sorry for that.

        Regarding the recent attack on a journalist, I think that’s the problem of psychiatry and also of the society. Unfortunately, very often a nutcase who clearly suffers from a mental disorder but is critical of the Putin’s Government somehow passes for a normal person, instead of being advised to get the treatment he or she drastically needs. Which results in the problem that the bar is sometimes too low on clear cases of psychiatric disorders, which leads to tragedies like this one.

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