The Stooge Report: As Ukraine Goes Under, Guess Whose Fault It Is?

Uncle Volodya says, “It is a disaster that wisdom forbids you to be satisfied with yourself and always sends you away dissatisfied and fearful, whereas stubbornness and foolhardiness fill their hosts with joy and assurance.”

Say; did you ever notice that when the west overturns a government, re-orders the political stage to its liking, pumps in a bit of money to get things perking, and it’s a complete success….the western leadership is content just to let the beaming press tell its story of how the miracle came about? Before the regime-change effort gets rolling, there is – naturally – a campaign of demonizing the leader the west wants gone, setting him or her up as The Appalling Destroyer of Democracy and Trampler of Freedom. But that’s for the mouth-breathing masses, the clodlike peasantry out in Tee-Vee Land., who will sooner or later be asked to throw their weight behind regime change and ardently support it. For the government, who will execute this deft (which is only one letter away from ‘daft’) sleight-of-hand which hopefully results in the target country becoming a loyal ally of the regime-changers, there are reports. Lots of them. These reports are written by – allegedly – experts in their various fields, and offer their government commissioners what is presumably an accurate picture of various elements of the target country: how capable is its military? Are they likely to back the existing government, or betray it and get on the bandwagon? What kind of shape is the economy in? National health? Agriculture? Manufacturing and industry? You get the picture.

So if the effort is successful, the press picks up the narrative, and beams lots of good-news stories about the happy thriving people of Newcountry and how their success is all owed to the defenders of democracy and the forces of good. And that’s actually happened a few times; I wouldn’t want to create the impression it’s never successful, although the western regime-change success rate has been pretty much 0 for however-many over the last few decades.

But if it turns out to be a shit-show and a complete sweaty, floundering embarrassment – and especially if there was a well-established camp which warned that it would – what you get are more reports. Lots of them. These reports analyze what went wrong or is still in the process of going wrong, and look about for somebody to blame. So that, you know, nobody will actually put the blame where it belongs. All of them are saying, essentially, “Wahhhh!!! We stepped on our dick!!! But the plan was perfect! We’re victims!!! Someone shall pay for this.”

Exemplary is Chatham House’s “The Struggle For Ukraine”, hot off the press; you can smell the ink. One hundred and twenty-six pages of blame-shifting and redirection, seasoned withal by tropes which have been deemed to be facts via repetition, and nothing else. You’ll recognize some of the authors right away – Timothy Ash is regularly tapped for comments on Eurasian affairs with a Russian component, and he is reliably on the side of whoever is opposing Russia. The talking chancre known as James Nixey was featured here, running his chip-hole about how Britain needs to get tough with Russia. Have you ever seen James Nixey? This is he. He looks about as tough as an apple dumpling. Granted, you do not have to be Vin Diesel to give advice on how to punch a country into submission, but hasn’t everyone had enough of paunchy middle-aged bespectacled white guys laying down the hard line? We’re also passingly familiar with James Sherr – he’s the one who wrote a report (another report!) on Ukraine way back following the Orange Revolution, in which he criticized Yulia Tymoshenko for having the fiscal policy understanding of a gnat. He didn’t say it in so many words, but he made it clear her go-to policy placebo was just to give everyone a raise, as if the money were being knitted in the basement by The Little People. John Lough is an energy guy, former foreign-affairs advisor for TNK-BP. Janet Gunn is a trustee for the BEARR Trust, a liaison for NGO’s which promote healthcare reform. Orysia Lutsevych is a longtime advocate for Ukraine, and has recently been doing research into how Russia uses ‘proxy NGO’s’ to achieve its foreign-policy objectives. I’d be interested in what constitutes a ‘proxy NGO’ since Russia has one real NGO in the USA and not a lot of them around the world. Needless to say, she is also an advocate for a burgeoning NGO-managed civil society in Russia, since that is the west’s back door to the protest community. And wrapping up the panel, Kataryna Wolczuk is a longtime think-tanker and policy wonkette.

I kind of like this report stuff. It looks like fun. And I like fun. But instead of steering you further away from what actually happened, I’d like to try steering readers back on, with my own report, based on their report. So let’s look at it. Because writing a report is a bit of an art, particularly when you are trying to put lipstick on the pig the west has made of Ukraine so that it looks as progressive as a bunch of progressive things in a sack, while spelling out the improvements you would like to see as if you were merely taking note of some minor deficiencies instead of trying to shovel guts back into a chest-to-crotch incision.

Let’s start with the Executive Summary, because it contains a few of those truth-by-repetition gems I mentioned earlier. We learn right away that Ukraine is a mess, ‘fighting for its survival as an independent and viable state’. That’s not where its western handlers expected four years ago that it would be today. Because if there’s one thing you learn in the regime-change game – or would, if the west ever learned anything from it – it’s that the initial sunny estimates always blow up in your face, and it’s always a whole lot harder than the sellers make it sound. Oh, and those who say “Don’t do it – you’ll be sorry” are right at least twice as often as those who say “This is a brilliant plan, it’s all going to fall into our laps like an overripe plum”.

Just before we really dig in, let’s look for something that sets the tone, because official reports like to do that right away. They rarely contain surprises, because politicians don’t…uhh… like surprises. And we won’t have to look any further than the photo which kicks off their report. It shows members of Ukraine’s Rada putting up an inspirational banner behind the speaker’s rostrum, which reads, “Crimea is Ukraine”. Don’t worry if you can’t read Ukrainian; like so many of Ukraine’s messages, this is intended for its western backers as well, and is also written in English so the west can enjoy sloganeering along with its Ukrainian friends.

Imagine if members of the Democratic party in the United States hung a banner in Congress which read “Elvis is not dead”. Or, “Barack Obama was born in Kenya”. “Lance Armstrong never cheated”. You see, when you start out from a premise that the earth is flat, or that something everybody in the world knows to be untrue is true or vice-versa, you are establishing yourself as unreasonable right out of the gate. You are serving notice that further negotiations are likely to be accompanied by a deepening sense of unreality and futility. Ukrainians can write, and say, “Crimea is Ukraine” until the clap of doom if they want, and saying it and writing it will never make it reality. What can we say about their western backers, who continue to encourage them in their simpleminded faith? It’s kind of like saying “Step out in front of that train. I bet you can stop it with your mind”.

Ukraine is never going to get Crimea back. Not ever. There is no rhetorical device they could employ which will convince Russia to hand it back, no bauble or concession they could propose which would persuade Russia to exchange it. If Ukraine tried to take it back by force of arms, it would be crushed like a soap bubble in a beartrap. If it persuaded its NATO friends to help it take it back militarily, a war would ensue so destructive that nobody involved in it would ever remember it was about Crimea in the first place. Crimea is Russian. It was never really Ukrainian, and it never will be again.

Now that we have hopefully cleared that up, on with the report. And it is definitely a report, which tells you something about how things are going, and it is not well. I won’t be able to quote it paragraph by paragraph and pick it apart at that level. or we’d be here all week. But let’s try one, just for fun.

Four years since the start of its ‘Euromaidan’ revolution, Ukraine is fighting for its survival as an independent and viable state. Ukrainians took to the streets in late 2013 in protest at their government’s suspension, under pressure from Russia, of plans for a closer relationship with the European Union. While their activism forced President Viktor Yanukovych from power and heralded a more EU-aligned foreign policy under a new government, it also prompted a hostile response from Russia, which annexed Crimea in early 2014, started a territorial conflict in eastern Ukraine, and continues to try to fragment and enfeeble its neighbour.

Notice how they slipped that ‘under Russian pressure’ in there? The Yanukovych government caved in to Russian pressure, and suspended the plan for a close and comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union. Was that what happened? it sure as fuck is not.

I guess Putin must have flown to Kiev, to put the screws to Yanukovych. No? What, Yanukovych went to Moscow? And came back with an agreement to sponsor Ukraine with billions where the EU was offering $600 million in immediate aid, with maybe more if Yanukovych toed the line? I’ll tell you what, Mr. Putin. Let me know when you will be free for an hour or so, and I’ll fly to Moscow at my own expense so you can pressure me like that. Sarcasm aside (regretfully), it is kind of hard to believe Yanukovych went to Moscow of his own free will to ask for help, and got it…and that’s ‘pressure’. In fact, I can show you – for the umpteenth time – what pressure looks like. Pressure is when you take your concerns, all nicely typed up for you by your own economic team, and the Commissioner for European Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy will not even look at it. Especially when all of the concerns expressed by your economic team – from Germany, not Ukraine, so about as arms-length as you could imagine – came to pass, and were every bit as disastrous as they predicted. Ukrainian GDP has been reduced by half since the Glorious Maidan. Half. Which of the European union’s charter members could survive that?

The question the report addressed is what it would cost Ukraine if Moscow were to cut its facilitation of trade with Kiev. The document included tables, bar charts and explanations about the customs union. In the end, though, only one thing interested politicians in Ukraine. On page two, under the heading “summary,” the report states that “Ukrainian exports to Russia would decrease by 17 percent or $3 billion per year.” It provided a solid figure, from Germany, telling the Ukrainian government what it would have to sacrifice for the sake of closer relations with the EU. Should not Kiev be compensated for such a sacrifice?…

Shortly after his visit to the IMF, Arbuzov headed for Brussels to present Enlargement Commissioner Füle with the numbers calculated by the German advisory group. He believed that the numbers spoke for themselves, but Füle didn’t take them seriously. “Did you also request calculations,” he asked smugly, “about what would happen to the Ukrainian economy in the case of a meteorite strike?”

Stefan Fule, you cut-up – no matter how many times I hear that meteorite line, I still laugh. You are wasted on European Engorgement, or whatever it was you used to do, when you could have been killing them with stand-up on Evening at the Improv.

This report recognizes Ukraine’s considerable achievements since the Euromaidan. The country has not succumbed, despite grievous loss of life and territory, to Russian military aggression. It has sealed a landmark Association Agreement with the EU, opening up economic opportunity and making it clear that it sees itself as a fundamentally ‘European’ country rather than a Russian satellite or tributary. And it has undertaken deeper and more extensive reform in the past four years than in the previous 22 of its post-Soviet life.

What’s that funny smell? It’s like…decomposing hay, or something. Oh, right: it’s horseshit. What are Ukraine’s ‘considerable achievements since the Euromaidan’? It has signed an economic cooperation agreement – which its previous and democratically-elected leader refused to sign – which ‘opened up economic opportunity’ that saw its GDP fall by half. It has made it clear it sees itself as a fundamentally European country, although more than three-quarters of its GDP is still controlled by an oligarchy headed by a billionaire president who refuses to sell any of his business assets, although he promised to do so during his election campaign. That’ll fit right in in Brussels, won’t it?

Here are the trade figures for Ukraine-EU trade for 2015 and 2016. Don’t let all that bunk about total turnover and increasing trade obscure an essential fact for you – in both 2015 and 2016, Ukraine spent more on goods it bought from the EU than it earned in goods it sold to the EU. That’s nothing new; Ukraine has always run a trade deficit with the EU. But the Ukraine we’re talking about today has had its GDP cut by half and its reserves looted. It is broke, and living on handouts from the IMF, which the IMF pretends to pay while Ukraine pretends to reform. Yes, I can see economic opportunity yawning wide before Ukraine. Or perhaps that’s the gates of hell; I often confuse the two. The EU allows Ukraine to sell it raw materials for further processing, some piece goods and textiles, a bit of machinery. For these, the EU graciously allows Ukraine a preferential-tariff arrangement, called GSP (Generalized System of Preferences). This is roughly similar to the tariff privilege Ukraine enjoyed with Russia. although the Russian arrangement recognized a wider range of goods. But don’t bother to start printing up “I Heart GSP” stickers. The arrangement expires at the end of this year.

I’m sure you noticed that clever head-fake in there, in which ‘the country has not succumbed, despite grievous loss of life and territory, to Russian aggression’, just as if the former was caused by the latter. Ukraine’s loss of territory was completely and wholly its own fault; it allowed its nationalist instincts to override caution, and announced the withdrawal of official-language status for Russian in a country in which nearly half the population uses it routinely in business and social transactions, and in which nearly all can speak it. Crimea was and is majority ethnic Russian, and they were not interested in being made to learn and speak Ukrainian. They voted with their feet, a concept the west has cheered often in the past when it worked to its advantage. Similarly, the very great majority of deaths of Ukrainians in Ukraine have come at the hands of other Ukrainians, in a civil war the west allows Kiev to call an Anti-Terrorist Operation, because otherwise it would have to confront the reality that President Poroshenko is Killing His Own People, a venial sin the west has jumped upon reliably in the past as an excuse to carry out regime change. Not one Ukrainian has died as the result of ‘Russian aggression’. Russians may have helped prevent the Donbas from being overrun by the Ukrainian military, although Ukraine has never proven any Russian military presence beyond a couple of intelligence officers it captured. Preventing the military annihilation of the civilian population – when it is specifically in violation of the national constitution to use state military forces against the civilian population – does not qualify as aggression.

The west’s credibility and cohesion are also at stake.

For the west, that’s true. And do you know why? Because the west made it that kind of game, with its swaggering and smirking, its “Ukraine – Hey, Russia; We’ve Got a New Best Friend, Get Used To It” headlines, Vicky Nuland handing out cookies on the Maidan, the whole process stiff with western diplomats. All the time shouting that Russia must back off, must stop pressuring Ukraine and let it make up its own mind, when the Russian presence at the Maidan was zero. You did not see so much of that Ukraine-must-be-allowed-to-make-up-its-own-mind talk when Ukraine was choosing help from Russia, so apparently Ukraine must only be allowed to make up its own mind when it is making an approved choice.

The west has already failed. It was going to turn Ukraine into a prosperous western-leaning market democracy just like snapping its fingers, and moreover, Russia was going to pay for it. But Ukraine lost the Russian market, exactly as Yanukovych’s economic team had forecast, and it has been in a downward spiral ever since. Its oligarchy has correctly perceived that while western agencies and leaders might make a lot of noise about corruption,  they are not really going to do anything serious about it because, while they might be able to make something out of a united Ukraine minus Crimea, Ukraine minus Crimea and the Donbas industrial heartland is a non-starter. Therefore the west must look the other way and pretend to be intensely preoccupied with something important, while Poroshenko tries to wrest back the Donbas militarily. Then the west would pretend to be surprised, but delighted that Ukraine is happily whole once again. But that effort is going nowhere, and the war drags on and on without the lines on the map ever changing very much. Without regular injections of cash from the IMF, Ukraine would collapse, and once Europe’s gas no longer crosses Ukraine and it loses its transit fees, that will wipe out its largely illusory ‘growth’, even though that is achieved only through regular loans which Ukraine can never pay back. It might as well all be written next to “Failure” in the dictionary.  Textbook.

At this point, we’re up over 3000 words, and just got to the end of the Executive Summary. But there is still ever so much bullshit ahead, it just will not be possible to tabulate it all in a single session. Therefore, this is going to have to be a multi-post effort. Stay tuned, and if you’d like to read ahead and help me out, I’d be grateful.

 

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1,301 Responses to The Stooge Report: As Ukraine Goes Under, Guess Whose Fault It Is?

  1. Northern Star says:

    Apparently there is more to Deutschland than Merkel’s garbage…
    Very inspiring and informative!!!!
    https://www.democracynow.org/2017/11/15/special_report_from_the_occupied_forest

    • Northern Star says:

      “We are unstoppable..another world is possible”

      WOW….just WOW…..!!!!

      Hmmm..We Americans need some new world theme music to accompany our retaking of the nation from TPTB!!!!
      :O)

    • Moscow Exile says:

      It’s “brown coal”, almost wood, and it stinks when burnt. They used it a lot in the German Democrartic Republic. The worst industrial disaster zone I ever passed through was a place called Bitterfeld in the GDR, a place full of chemical plants, lignite-fired furnaces and power stations. It was swathed in a stinking brown-coal smog. Almost as bad as my home town was, only we used real coal there, black-diamonds.

  2. Northern Star says:

    Lapbulldog see….Lapbulldog do:

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/15/brex-n15.html

    “Deplorable • 4 hours ago
    Of all the present European leaders, Mrs. May outshines everybody in sight, in her abject submission to the Evil Empire. Maggie “the Witch” as many of her compatriots still call her, had a strong but albeit abhorrent personality, that this woman lacks. A lackey without honor, who was not elected by anybody, least of all, the British people.
    However, nobody compares to Europe’s Prostitute, Frau Merkel in moral turpitude, who is a traitor to her country and the German people having caused unimaginable damage to both, in every possible sense.
    Seen on this light, Schoeder was an honorable man.”

    Yup!!!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Neither the British prime minister nor the German chancellor are elected by popular mandate: the former is chosen by the party having a majority in the House of Commons, the latter by Bundestag delegates. May was elected as a member of parliament representing the Conservative Party by a simple majority of those over 18 years of age who voted in her parliamentary constituency and who are not peers of the realm, imprisoned or certified insane; Merkel was elected as a Bundestag delegate for her conservative party according to the complex rules of proportional representation used in German elections for the election of constituency delegates to the Bundestag.

    • saskydisc says:

      Jean Paul Akayesu’s genocide conviction is based on alleged rapes that he would have perpetrated while being mayor of a commune (mixed rural/urban area), of about 100,000 people. He had five police officers, and had used those five to capture militia members who were committing massacres, and had their death sentences carried out—hardly someone of genocidal proclivity, and many Tutsis from the commune were ready to testify on his behalf. Among those who were involved with his case, including the prosecution investigator, his conviction is regarded as an unalloyed scandal. The prosecution investigator, André Sirois, describes finding evidence that conclusively demonstrated Akayesu’s innocence. The drive to have people convicted on genocide charges stemming from alleged rapes, often against evidence, came from Hillary Clinton; this is particularly true of Akayesu’s case, as the prosecutor added the rape charges right after Hillary Clinton departed Arusha, where the ICTR trials were held, in March, 1997.

      • saskydisc says:

        The troll has attacked what I said. I shall quote, analyse, and remind the general audience of the additional evidence.

        So HRC leaves the same location where the ICTR trials are held, and this automagically means she’s responsible for the activities going on around there amongst various international organisations. Good logic.

        Note that the troll understands the causal chain to which I refer. He attacks the chain of events, by conflating the chain of events with the evidence for the chain of events. That is a typical gambit of trolls.

        Clinton had used her heft with US feminist organizations to encourage the prosecution of rapes as acts of genocide; the link rightly refers to extensive evidence of rape used as a weapon of war; such was employed against Hutus; there is scant evidence, and thus the scandal of the ICTR, of rape perpetrated as a weapon of war, by Hutus. The purpose of Clinton’s visit was precisely to generate publicity for this modification of international law, on which she had campaigned. One of the feminist organizations even requested to serve as amicus curiae!

        For what it is worth, the prosecutor at the time was Pierre Prosper. Prosper, prior to becoming prosecutor, mainly worked to put pressure on Carla Del Ponte to drop investigations against Kagame’s people for war crimes, without cause for dropping the investigations; see e.g. Paix et Châtiment p266-283, Florence Hartmann. Prosper then played an important role in having Carla Del Ponte removed as prosecutor. For his services, Prosper was made Special Counsel and Policy Adviser to the previous Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in 1999. He fell under the radar in 2002, but reappeared in the context of investor rights in 2013.

        The charge of rape was added, as mentioned above, in early 1997. The initial investigation made no mention of rapes. The ICTR prosecutor had been trying to get Akayesu on genocide charges, and had already put in some effort to suborn witnesses to perjury. One of the would-be witnesses whom the prosecutor had attempted to suborn to perjury remembered, and was ready to testify, that the first mention of rape by the investigators was in early 1997. Important prosecution witnesses, such as Ephrem Karangwa, were not even in Taba (Akayesu’s commune, Gitarama prefecture), while Tutsis who were ready to testify that Akayesu had even intervened personally to save Tutsis, much like witnesses who were ready to testify to the prosecution’s efforts at subornation to perjury, were not allowed to testify.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Cortes rumbled?

    ‘I’m not a Russian troll – I’m a security guard from Glasgow’

    “The whole issue of anonymous trolls, false personas and automated Twitter accounts is fraught with difficulty, but thanks to the work of James Patrick (among a few others) the public is now becoming aware of the problem of online propaganda, some of it clearly directed (via payments) by Putin’s government …” — Peter Jukes, CEO of ByLine, told The Scotsman

    “Byline” claims to be the most visited crowdfunded journalism website in the UK.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      See: Scot to be kidding: ‘Russian troll’ turns out to be Glasgow security guard

      Reminds me of when years back some smart-arse on the laughable “Comment Is Free” in the Grauniad, having repeatedly stated that I was a Russian troll, congratulated me on my use of English, saying it was quite good for a Russian.

    • Cortes says:

      The whole thing is creepy beyond a joke. It stinks of intimidation.

      Here’s a review (not mine) of the book by the Philo Vance of investigative journalism:

      https://thecommongreen.scot/2017/09/10/book-review-alternative-war/

      • Cortes says:

        An excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Philo Vance:

        “ Criticisms of Vance and the novels Edit

        Vance’s character as portrayed in the novels might seem to many modern readers to be supercilious, obnoxiously affected, and highly irritating. He struck some contemporaries that way, as well. At the height of Philo Vance’s popularity, comic poet Ogden Nash wrote:

        Philo Vance
        Needs a kick in the pance.

        Famed hardboiled-detective author Raymond Chandler referred to Vance in his essay “The Simple Art of Murder” as “the most asinine character in detective fiction.” In Chandler’s novel The Lady in the Lake, Marlowe briefly uses Philo Vance as an ironical alias. A criticism of Vance’s “phony English accent” also appears in Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely. In Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Marlowe says he’s “not Sherlock Holmes or Philo Vance” and explains that his method owes more to judgement of character than finding clues the police have missed.

        Julian Symons in his history of detective fiction, Bloody Murder, says: “The decline in the last six Vance books is so steep that the critic who called the ninth of them one more stitch in his literary shroud was not overstating the case.”[1]

        In A Catalogue of Crime, Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor criticize “… the phony footnotes, the phony English accent of Philo Vance, and the general apathy of the detective system in all these books …”, in all the Vance novels. They review only seven of the 12 novels, panning all but the first and the last: The Benson Murder Case, which they call “The first and best …” and The Winter Murder Case, of which they write, “In fact, this short book is pleasant reading …”[2]

        In regard to Vance’s supposedly phony accent, Van Dine addressed the issue early on. In The Greene Murder Case, one of the three original novels, he wrote that Vance’s seemingly British manner of speaking was the result of his long education in Europe, not an affectation. He described Vance as indifferent to what people thought of him and not interested in impressing them.”

  4. et Al says:

    UKAD – UK Anti Doping organization find the case against Team Sky/Wiggins not proven!

    Eurospurt: Why the continuing mystery of Team Sky’s Jiffy bag is cycling’s worst result
    http://www.eurosport.com/cycling/why-the-continuing-mystery-of-team-sky-s-jiffy-bag-is-cycling-s-worst-result_sto6411186/story.shtml

    …Well, as UKAD has explained, it cannot say what was in that package and it probably never will be able to do so. It is understood that Wiggins has told them it was Fluimucil and Dr Freeman has been too unwell to question in person but has written to UKAD to say the same. The former has retired from cycling, after winning another gold medal in Rio, and the latter has just resigned from British Cycling. That removed the last physical link to this saga at the national governing, which has completely overhauled its medical procedures. Team Sky have said they have done the same and spent the last year hunkered down but winning races. Cycling fans, on the other hand, are in pretty much the same place they were 14 months ago: confused.
    ####

    I’m ill. I’m afraid I cannot give evidence in person. Here’s something I wrote earlier.

    I’m retired. I don’t know nuffink.

    Brilliant. Circle squared. Could have just said “Not Russian!”

    Lots of sympathy in the Groaning Man and the Toilet Barf interviews.

    • marknesop says:

      Typical. Russia is instantly guilty at a state level before the report even comes out, as its author is quite candid about what he says he will prove when talking to the press, and that’s good enough. But for our special friends, your word that it was just summat ‘armless is good enough. No physical evidence kept at all, obviously.

      International sport is a big waste of time. Just let everybody dope to their hearts’ content, let’s see what monsters we can come up with, and let countries who wish to do so in order that they can bring home more medals for the greater glory of their nation compete among themselves. Or just within their own country, where they can be guaranteed to win everything in every category.

  5. et Al says:

    Alernet via Antiwar.com: McCarthyism Inc: Introducing the Counter-Terror ‘Experts’ Hyping Russian Threats and Undermining Our Civil Liberties

    Revelations about Russia’s use of social media in the 2016 elections are being used as a pretext for suppressing dissent by some dubious characters.

    By Max Blumenthal / AlterNet

    November 10, 2017, 2:26 PM GMT

    …However, an investigation by AlterNet’s Grayzone Project has yielded a series of disturbing findings at odds with the established depiction. The researchers behind the ASD’s “dashboard” are no Russia experts, but rather a collection of cranks, counterterror retreads, online harassers and paranoiacs operating with support from some of the most prominent figures operating within the American national security apparatus….
    ####

    Plenty more at the link.

  6. Moscow Exile says:

    Isn’t she just wonderful?

    • Northern Star says:

      So why does this fuckin’ cnt not have to register as an agent of a Foreign government???

      “II. What, Exactly, Does FARA Require / Prohibit?
      It’s complicated. But in a nutshell, FARA requires individuals acting within the United States as agents of “foreign principals” to, in plain English, “register with the Department of Justice and file forms outlining its agreements with, income from, and expenditures on behalf of the foreign principal. These forms are public records and must be supplemented every six months.” An “agent of a foreign principal,” in turn, is defined as

      any person who acts 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 directly or through any other person—(i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal; or (iv) within the United States represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States. . . .
      Moreover, the statute defines “foreign principal” not just to include a foreign government itself, but also foreign 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. So, in a world in which individuals were receiving financial or other enticements from Russian corporations, oligarchs, or the Russian government itself, in order to “engage[] within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal,” that seems to fall within the heartland of what FARA covers.”

      Indeed, a separate statute, 18 U.S.C. § 219, goes one important step further, making it a crime for any individual who is an “officer or employee or person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department, agency, or branch of Government thereof, including the District of Columbia, in any official function,” to be or to act as an agent of a foreign principal under FARA.

      ******In other words, for a private citizen, FARA’s entire impact is in requiring disclosure. But for public officials, § 219 actually prohibits such individuals from acting as foreign agents.” *****

      Thus, whereas a private citizen need only apprise the Justice Department if they are receiving funds from foreign principals to influence U.S. policy, public officials may not receive such funds, period–and face felony charges if they do. (N.B.: There’s an interesting question about whether transition officials might qualify as “public officials” for purposes of § 219. I’m skeptical, but at least in Flynn’s case, there’s still the issue of whether he was continuing to serve as an agent of a foreign power on and after January 20, when he became the National Security Advisor.)

      https://www.justsecurity.org/39493/primer-foreign-agents-registration-act/

    • Jen says:

      Eyes and teeth almost the same colour as her skin, I see.

      • Matt says:

        Jen thinks this was photoshopped after Mark duped her, even though this can be verified by going to the “60 Minutes” video legally and officially uploaded by the “Russia24” channel itself:

        • Patient Observer says:

          My god, you are childish. My two young grandchild show more class and maturity.

          • Matt says:

            Childish? You midunderstand. Back when I first posted this image, Mark speculated whether it was photoshopped. Jen then assumed that it was photoshopped, exclaiming surprise that someone would do that.

            That’s the backstory. I’m just pointing out that the image is not fake. Nothing immature about that.

            • marknesop says:

              I never said that. I said YOU probably did not alter it. You seem to be defending the viewpoint that it is not possible to modify a screen grab. I still am sure it was altered. Just not by you. But of course you chalk that up as another one you have ‘debunked’; Matt says it is not fake, so we must accept that it is genuine, although I have already substantiated American media’s track record of altering the televised images of people it does not like.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, there we go again; I ‘duped’ her. Just like before, when I ‘lied’, instead of making a mistake. And then could not ‘walk it back’ because I would be consumed by embarrassment at being wrong. Poor Mattie – always a victim. Stick with your own side, Mattie – truth, justice, and the American Way, where people ‘misspeak’ instead of lying. That was absolutely the last straw for you, Matt, having had chance after chance to air your hidebound ideology. I wish you well. But I have to draw a line at being called a liar, as if I knew very well I was not telling the truth, but chose to take a chance and see if I could fool everybody. But not you, Mattie – you’re way too smart for all of us. Away you go, now; bye bye.

  7. et Al says:

    Deutscher’s Willy: Germany quintuples arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt
    http://www.dw.com/en/germany-quintuples-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia-and-egypt/a-41370500

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has been criticized for massively increasing arms sales to Middle East dictatorships Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One opposition lawmaker branded the trade “reprehensible.”

    The German government approved nearly €450 million ($526 million) worth of weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the third quarter of 2017, more than five times the €86 million it sold in the same quarter of last year.

    The German Economy Ministry disclosed the numbers after a member of parliament from the opposition Left party, Stefan Liebich, requested the information.

    Egypt alone bought nearly €300 million worth of weapons, making it the number one export destination for German arms, while Saudi Arabia handed over nearly €150 million. By comparison, the two countries imported €45 million and €41 million respectively in the third quarter of 2016….
    ####

    What happened to the great moral and public stance (!) Germany claimed it was taking not so long ago against the KSA, holding back the sale of tanks and other kit? Business is business so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?…

  8. et Al says:

    Sic Semper Tyrannis: Do they do the “perp walk” in Israel?
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/11/httpswwwtheguardiancomworld2017nov14benjamin-sara-netanyahu-allegedly-demanded-free-cigars-and-champagne-from-assoc.html

    “The Australian casino owner James Packer and the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan probably never imagined they would be running a free drinks delivery service for the Israeli prime minister and his wife.

    But when Sara Netanyahu called an assistant of the two men to say the drinks had run out, it was the signal for Packer and Milchan to renew the supplies of champagne, courtesy of their own wallets and a private driver, according to alleged testimony in an investigation into sleaze claims against Benjamin Netanyahu.” The Guardian…
    ####

    More at the link.

  9. Warren says:

    RobinHoodUKIP
    Published on 14 Nov 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 66K
    (14TH NOV 2017) Subscribe for more Nigel Farage content.

  10. saskydisc says:

    I promised two translations of pieces by Max van der Werff. This is the first. Note that van der Werff is somewhat in disbelief that NRC would tell such simple lies, refers to NRC as a quality newspaper, and repeats his question after being asked the first time. Comments by van der Werff start with a short dash (-), while Verduin’s responses do not.

    A number of Dutch expressions do not translate well directly, and the informal speech used leaves things implied that would be stated in English. Hence I have added (italicized) original material in square brackets, especially for expressions that have different meanings in English. Comments and understood information is presented in square brackets, without italicization. In one case, van der Werff presents information in square brackets; these have been bolded.

    I typed this on my computer, hence the absence of auto error insert. I shall post the translation of his other post later this evening.

    Translation of NRC liegt over Karmanov, original by Max van der Werff.

    Witness: “NRC lied about Karmanov”
    Posted on November 14, 2017

    This short interview relates to a publication in NRC on 13 November 2017

    – Hello Greta, your full name is Greta Verduin en this is you on Twitter?

    That is correct.

    – Who is on this photo?

    Andreas Kouwenhoven of NRC and Constantin Karmanov.

    – On what day and where was this photo taken?

    Thursday 24 August 2017 at 11:00 in Almere. At my home.

    – The NRC article states: When NRC asked Karmanov where he got his information about the airplane tragedy [MH17], he said, “from someone of the Russian ministry of defence.” What is your comment about this?

    That is lying!

    – That is quite the allegation. Are you saying that the quality newspaper NRC lied?

    Yes. I was present during the entire conversation, and Constantin did not say that. Of that I am 100% sure.

    – Okay. Who took the initiative to arrange the meeting?

    I [did].

    – Why?

    [That] I do consistently with people who are busy with the same subject or idea [that I am]… but [whom I] do not otherwise [further] know. [We] simply
    [usually] talk relaxedly and share ideas. At my house. Thus I am present. I grant everyone the space [to participate] but am present.

    – Appropriately yes.

    I mean [Meaning]: an open discussion between journalist (Andreas) and technical airplane expert (Constantin)[.] Constantin [This last] wished to elucidate his alternative version of what had happened to MH17. Moreover, he told also of his background / work for Antonov and showed several photographs (also of years before), with all manner of managers [Bobo’s—derogatory term for sports manager?] with him on the photo[s]. Thereby [i.e. in sharing the photographs] names and functions [of managers and presumably coworkers] were named! This is in regards to people in the photos!!

    – Did you have the impression that Andreas took Constantin seriously?

    Yes. I also made photos (I’ve been doing so for 25 years already! The city archive of Almere have them all in the archive [redundancy in original]). Andreas even asked why I make photos, and what I did with them…I always do [take photographs]! (I also sent him the photos in which he is present)

    Do you know whether Constantin perhaps had yet other contacts with NRC? Could you ask him?

    [after enquiring directly] No, neither before nor after the meeting here. Besides, he told me that NRC did not contact him for a fair hearing [original: argument and rebuttal].

    – I ask plainly, one more time. Did Constantin Karmanov at any time say anything about information that he would have obtained from someone in the Russian ministry of defence?

    No, definitely not. Constantin never gave any [personal] sources. And on that allegation, “info from Russian ministry of defence” he would have lost his temper [reacted wildly]: absurd! Because he had in addition to Russian also Dutch citizenship, and thus such an accusation amounts to [high] treason. [It seems that Verduin and Constantin share this view, although I do not see the legal argument…]

    Hereunder: 3 photos out of the personal archive of Constantin Karmanov.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks very much for doing that, Sasky; it is much appreciated.

      • saskydisc says:

        The pleasure was mine. If I have time tomorrow I would like to translate the correspondence between Wilmer Heck of NRC and van der Werff—it really illustrates the appropriateness of be Werff’s legal description of Heck and NRC’s conduct as a “two stage rocket,” although the fact that “Alexandr,” who took Omtzigt for a ride invented his story, and was detected as such by Werff long before the business with Omtzigt, is most likely working for Kiev or Western European intelligence, speaks to the likelihood of Omtzigt sending the offending texts.

        Werff also has some rather direct statements to Heck.

  11. saskydisc says:

    This is the second translation that I promised. Note that van der Werff first repeats the argument that he seeks to debunk, and does not imply agreement. In fact, in the quote from NRC below, it appears that the authors are American rather than Dutch, as the sarcastic sting of first making one’s opponent’s case, before attacking the argument, is missing, and innuendo is present from the beginning of the NRC piece.

    Translation of De Poetinisering van Omtzigt by Max van der Werff
    The Putinization of Omtzigt

    [NRC article page]
    How doubt is worked up around MH17

    Russian influence

    Over the cause of the disaster with MH17, information is spread that is demonstrably false. CDA Politician Pieter Omtzigt played an active role.

    Andreas Kouwenhoven and Wilmer Heck 10 November 2017

    At the end of a meeting at the Free University of Amsterdam, a man stood up in public. The lecture hall, that was filled in May 2017 with relatives of the victims, became quiet. “Good day, my name is Alexandr. My question is posed by a translator,” he said in Russian.
    [end NRC article page]

    NRC journalists Wilmer Heck and Andreas Kouwenhoven did not dally [allowed no grass to grow over], and laid out how Pieter Omtzigt played an active role in spreading demonstrably false information regarding MH17. He would even suborn a pro-Russian fake witness to perjury.

    [Pieter Omtzigt Tweet]
    In my being driven on this dossier, to get answers to questions, I had conducted myself in a disorderly fashion at the meeting. That I regret.
    [Max van der Werff Tweet response]
    What exactly brings you to regret? A detailed account is important.
    [end tweet]
    [Note: one issue is precisely whether certain SMSs had been sent. As of yet, no confession…]

    Pieter Omtzigt felt forced to place the above tweet, and thereby acknowledged that he had conducted himself wrongly. What does Omtzigt seek to achieve? What drove him to trust this witness? While I am writing this article, he is yet to give substantial elucidation.

    Is Omtzigt, just like me [Max van der Werff], a Kremlin-troll?

    About a week before the appearance of the NRC article, I was warned from all sides that NRC was preparing a hit piece [English in original; original link is google search] against a number of pro-Russian people in the Netherlands. A `Heck’ [pun on journalist’s name—Hek is gate, and c=k in same situations as English since early modern Dutch at least, and possibly middle Dutch] would try to interrogate diverse people in an invasive fashion.

    Thus [I] searched for the man on Twitter. This tweet struck me:

    [Wilmer Heck Tweet]
    Pro-Russians in Netherlands all know each other online, and indeed come from extreme left and right, but also from extreme animal rights background [Party of the Animals]
    [end tweet]

    On Friday, 3 November 2017, I very much did [waarempel—expression of irritation, disgust and even shock] receive an SMS from Wilmer Heck:
    “Hello, Wilmer Heck from NRC here. Could I ask you somewhat over your work on MH17? I await your response. Greetings, Wilmer”

    I reacted via Whatsapp:
    17:44 Hello Wilmer, I have received your sms:
    “Hello, Wilmer Heck from NRC here. Could I ask you somewhat over your work on MH17? I await your response. Greetings, Wilmer”

    17:45 My emailaddress: maxvanderwerff@hotmail.com -Feel free to ask. Greetings, max

    20:38 Email from Wilmer:

    “Hello Max,
    With these [this email] thus my questions. In an article, we [intend to] investigate different theories regarding the mh17 tragedy, and see who takes which positions in the Netherlands. You are naturally an important player [in the MH17 matter]. When I look at your writings [pronouncements], I am left with the impression that you would like to indicate that the OVV[research council for safety, Dutch Safety Board] interpretation [of MH17] is demonstrably wrong, and that you thus work closely with, amongst others, Russian Dutch citizens, and previously also with amongst others Putkonen in the DNR (based on, amongst other matters, leaked emails and the fact that on your site there is reference to Elena Plotnikova, who as you know is an ethnic Russian from Donetsk who is involved in the Netherlands with pro-Russian activities). Note; there is as far as I am concerned, nothing wrong with this [conduct]; we merely wish to show where the lines are laid.”

    The whole email, with the first five questions, my answers, and the complete correspondence between Wilmer and me, [is attached] at the bottom of the article. The matter thus concerns: NRC says “different theories regarding the mh17 tragedy need to be brought under investigation”. And I am “in that matter naturally an important player”.

    That may be. First his questions and my answers that have direct bearing on Omtzigt-gate: [Omtzigt-gate in original Dutch]

    3 Why do you work with Elena Plotnikova? On the basis of various pronouncements, she is known as an outspoken pro-Putin person, on an activist basis. Do you not find that your independence suffers?

    – Do I work with Elena Plotnikova? [Rhetorical question; it is a sarcastic response.]

    4 What exactly does your cooperation [with Plotnikova] entail? I came upon a WhatsApp article of hers where she wrote that she sent you to a Ukrainian asylum seeker who would have seen aeroplane parts of MH17. Does she not thus influence your work strongly?

    – I have sent your question, “What exactly does your cooperation [with Plotnikova] entail?,” to Plotnikova. She answers:
    “I sent you [Max vd Werff] a tip that an asylum seeker [Alexandr] wanted to make an eyewitness statement regarding MH17. We had visited the man, and you came to the conclusion that his story was irrelevant.”

    – This man who pretends to be an eyewitness, spoke during a meeting regarding MH17, at a university. Here [he speaks]: https://youtu.be/gBF2cTWcwHQ?t=5394

    Does she not influence your work strongly?

    – Sigh. We do not work together. I do not know whether you refer to subliminal influence, as I am not aware of any influence from a person with whom I do not collaborate.

    Pro-Russian, as the Ukrainian secret service [SBU] alleges that.

    A week later, the NRC wrote, “From the decision of his Dutch asylum request, it appears that Alexandr has long been suspected by Ukrainian authorities, of involvement with pro-Russian fighting groups, that would have operated from his work premises.”

    Accepting as true information from the Ukrainian authorities and secret service SBU is a core problem of the MH17 dossier. One need not be a Kremlin troll to understand that.

    Had Wilmer Heck asked me further questions over Alexandr, I would have mentioned that Alexandr alleges to have been placed under pressure by both the Ukrainian secret service and the rebels. He claims explicitly to have refused to be recruited by the rebels, and had thus left for Kiev-controlled territory. Why did he not flee to Russia if he is so pro-Russian? [google search in original hyperlink]

    We now wait for [The wait is now upon a] expanded declaration from Cabinet minister Pieter Omtzigt, and information from other sources. But to use a dubious game [wobbly two-stage rocket, with two-stage rocket having a legal sense of multi-stage process; reference also to Wilmer Heck hiding his purpose in his initial correspondence] to make an attack on the reputation of Omtzigt, is a politically motivated attempt to character assassination.

    NRC: “The following parts appear Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”

    [The rest is the complete correspondence between NRC’s Wilmer Heck and Max van der Werff; I omit this, as I must work in the morning, and it is about three times as long as the part already translated…]

    • et Al says:

      Many thanks from me too saskydisc!

      • saskydisc says:

        This one was even more of a pleasure, as it indicates that the fake witness that Omtzigt got involved with was first identified as such by Max van der Werff, before NRC published their attack on Omtzigt, and that they likely got the information necessary for the attack, from Max van der Werff. Hence the latter’s bitter sarcasm.

  12. marknesop says:

    WADA will not restore RUSADA to ‘compliant’ status until Russia officially and publicly recognizes the conclusions of the McLaren Report. Yet another lesson for Russia, if it needed one, not to be part of any international body which is run by the west. It will not hesitate to apply pressure in the most extraordinary fashion to get its own way. Admit you are a bunch of dopers and you always have to cheat to win anything, and then we’ll take a look at letting you play in international sport again. Where, of course, every time a Russian wins anything, our press will shout that they must have been doped up, because you admitted you were a nation of dopers with a state-sponsored doping system so crafty it was undetectable.

    • et Al says:

      Just in case anyone forgot, WADA itself cleared 95 of 96 athletes from doping charges a few months ago but not because they were innocent, but because WADA didn’t have sufficient evidence! It’s a no win situation for Russia as they are held guilty either way. The fact that WADA had to clear 95 is only proof that Russia is brilliant at wiping out evidence. The latest ‘evidence’ also makes for rather conspicuous timing, helpfully swinging WADA the right way on the decision on the next winter Olympics.

  13. Warren says:

    RT
    Published on 16 Nov 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 2.2M
    The claims around alleged Russian meddling in British politics has been stirred by allegations that fake Twitter accounts attempted to influence the Brexit vote. But while the mere suggestion was enough to make mainstream headlines, little was said about the “infinitesimal” quantity of tweets involved.

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    This’ll be fun!

    Poland riled by European Parliament vote on plans for rule of law

    Legislators in Strasbourg launch process that leaves Warsaw facing sanctions

    Poland’s ruling party has reacted furiously to a move by the European Parliament that opens a new front in the battle over Warsaw’s alleged breaches of EU rules and values.

    • marknesop says:

      Indeed; Poland’s Foreign Minister yesterday accused the EU Parliament of ‘hate speech’.

    • yalensis says:

      I can’t read the FT piece, it’s behind a paywall.
      Can you summarize, pretty please?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Here’s the FT article in full and I hope it pisses them off that I have copied and pasted it. I accept responsibility for doing this and if they wish to take legal action against me, they know where to find me in Mordor.

        Poland’s ruling party has reacted furiously to a move by the European Parliament that opens a new front in the battle over Warsaw’s alleged breaches of EU rules and values.

        Legislators in Strasbourg began a process on Wednesday that could end in sanctions over Warsaw’s plans to shake up the judiciary. MEPs voted 438-152 to back a motion warning there was a “clear risk of a serious breach” of values outlined in EU law.

        The resolution and the heated debate that preceded it provoked anger in Warsaw, where Beata Szydlo, Poland’s prime minister, described events in the parliament as “scandalous”.

        Poland’s foreign ministry said: “The European Parliament resolution is a one-sided document that is too often based on political assessments, while making too little use of in-depth legal analysis. Such an approach is detrimental to the process of European integration as it only leads to stigmatising a member state.”

        Wednesday’s vote in Brussels assigns a legislative committee to draw up a proposal for member states to vote on formally warning Poland as a step before possibly imposing sanctions, including suspending EU voting rights.

        Parliamentary critics of Warsaw clashed during the Brussels debate. Ryszard Legutko, an MEP of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), accused the EU of a carrying out a “crusade against Poland”. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal group, said the Polish administration had “lost its senses”.

        The European Commission is in its own tense back and forth with Poland over the proposed judicial changes and other aspects of the rule of law. Frans Timmermans, European Commission first vice-president, warned Warsaw on Wednesday that “if you want to play football, you abide by the rules of the game”.

        He told MEPs: “The EU can’t function if member states start saying, ‘we pick and choose which rules we have adhered to are applicable to us’.”

        The parliament’s action and a similar review by the commission underscore growing concerns about the potential of autocratic governments in countries such as Poland and Hungary to divide and destabilise the EU.

        The spat between Warsaw and Brussels has its roots in three bills put forward this year by PiS aimed at overhauling the judiciary.

        The Polish government claims that changes are needed because the current system is unfair and inefficient and has not been overhauled since the collapse of communism almost three decades ago. But the opposition sees the proposals as a threat to the rule of law.

        One of the bills put forward would allow the justice minister to fire the heads of lower courts. A second would have required all supreme court judges to step down, except those kept on by the justice minister. The third proposed giving parliament greater control over the body that appoints judges.

        Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, signed the first bill into law but in July vetoed the other two. Since then he and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of PiS, who is widely seen as Poland’s most powerful politician, have been locked in negotiations to find a compromise.

        Advisers to both men said over the weekend that an agreement had been reached, and the amended bills could be debated in Poland’s parliament as early as next week.

        I cannot fathom out how I can break through the FT paywall here. First time I go to the FT site via Yandex, everything is there, but if I open the link again, FT paywall stuff appears.

        • marknesop says:

          Interesting. I was surprised to learn that the UK is one of the biggest contributors to the EU, and when it is gone, Germany has delicately held out the reality that it will be responsible for an increased share of the funding for what is known as “cohesion funds”. Poland is a big beneficiary of those funds.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            EU citizens working in the UK regularly transfer the child benefits that they legally receive in the UK to their families back in their mother country. The biggest of such transfers of family and child benefits transferred abroad from the UK go to Poland — or did until quite recently.

            Outrage as UK gives £160m in child benefit to eastern Europe

            Polish citizens represent 64.9 percent of all families receiving child benefit for children living elsewhere in the EU followed by Ireland, 6 percent, and Lithuania, 5.9 percent — see: Child benefits for EU migrants in the UK.

            In the light of the fact that I receive a British state pension, I made enquiries about the possibility of my receiving benefits for my three children, who at the time of my enquiry were all still going to school and who are all British citizens.

            I was politely told to fuck off.

        • yalensis says:

          Thanks, ME!
          If FT sends a hit squad after you, just know that you have my full support.

  15. et Al says:

    Antiwar.com: Poll: Americans Would Cut Middle East War Spending
    http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2017/11/15/poll-americans-cut-middle-east-war-spending/

    But “crusaders” backed by foreign interests shape policy
    by Grant Smith Posted on November 16, 2017

    On November 3, professor John Mearsheimer made a short and stunning presentation at “U.S. Foreign Policy in the Trump Era: Can Realism and Restraint Prevail?” https://www.antiwar.com/blog/2017/11/06/the-american-conservative-forum-mulls-us-foreign-policy-in-the-trump-era/ conference held at George Washington University in Washington, DC. In the unipolar world after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he claimed, realists urged nonintervention and staying out of conflicts and countries that “really don’t matter much.” Unfortunately, American “crusaders” prevailed and pushed the US into a series of unnecessary quagmires across the greater Middle East.

    Americans appear to agree. When presented with a list of expenditure categories, and polled about which should be the single top priority for budgetary cuts by Congress, “US military actions in the Middle East” was far and away their top choice. But most Americans probably have little idea how enormous those costs truly are.

    Question: Which expenditure category should Congress cut to make government more responsive to the American people and reduce the budget deficit?…

    More a the link.

  16. et Al says:

    Neuters via Antiwar.com: Syrian Kurdish leaders back longer U.S role in Syria
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-pyd/syrian-kurdish-leaders-back-longer-u-s-role-in-syria-idUSKBN1DF14H

    Syrian Kurdish leaders voiced support on Wednesday for a longer-term role for U.S. forces in Syria once Islamic State is defeated, after the United States signalled it would not pull out before there was progress towards a political solution.

    Comments by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday have drawn heavy criticism from the Iran-backed Syrian government, which says Washington is making up a new excuse for keeping its “illegal occupation” forces in Syria. Limiting Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq is a key U.S. aim. ..
    ####

    More at the link.

    While the KRG leaders in northern I-rack have just publicly endorsed a united I-rack and a senior SDF Kurdish soldier has gone over to Turkey! The US is never one to cut its losses when there are still losses to be made.

    http://news.antiwar.com/2017/11/15/iraqi-kurdish-govt-endorses-united-iraq/

    • marknesop says:

      America remains committed to replacing Assad with a leader who is more receptive to American persuasion.

      • et Al says:

        Ideally these little American bases in Syria should be surrounded with no means of resupply by land – that would require I-rack to play their hand, though the other possibility is that they could turn the tap on and off as required. Of course US troops could be resupplied by air but its harder, more expensive, going through Russian controlled airspaces/SAMS etc.

        The aim would be to make it deeply uncomfortable and demoralizing. Washington would probably push back and demand ever larger ‘zones’ of protection that would look completely out of order for what their stated goal is. Any airstrikes by the US would open up a whole diferrent kettle of fish, no doubt fully justified by the sycophantic PPNNs but the risk calculation would significantly increase as the margin for error would decrease.

        There’s absolutely no benefit of allowing US troops in Syria any freedom of movement because they’d take a slice of territory here, another slice of territory there, all in the name of ‘protecting the (mythical) opposition’. I’m sure the Russians will leave them a face saving way out, but would they take it when push comes to shove?

  17. et Al says:

    AsiaTimes.com: Second China-Russia crude oil pipeline project completed
    http://www.atimes.com/article/second-china-russia-crude-oil-pipeline-project-completed/
    ####

    More at the link

    • Ryan Ward says:

      That’s great news. It was just in the news recently that the Turkish Stream gas pipeline was recently finished as well. If and when they finally get going on Nord Stream II, the pipeline network that Russia needs will be more or less complete. That’s good in itself, but also because it will allow investment funds to start flowing to the LNG plant projects that Gazprom has planned, but so far hasn’t prioritized. Developments in LNG will do more than anything else to help Russia diversify its distribution network (since, once you’ve got the LNG on a ship, you can take it pretty much anywhere).

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Interesting that Putin recently stated that only Russian vessels may use the Northern Passage.

        That’s the northeast one.

        The USA, on the other hand, maintains that the Northwest Passage is international.

        Canada thinks not, but I’m sure Ottawa will change its tune about this.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Putin: Only Russian vessels will be allowed in the Northern Sea Route
          November 16 , 2017 – Fort Russ News –
          Vesti- translated by Inessa Sinchougova

          Putin Prioritizes Building Ships for Arctic and Northern Sea Route
          Vitaliy Ankov
          RUSSIA
          17:38 01.09.2016

          Evil genius?

        • Ryan Ward says:

          This might be wishful thinking on my part (I’m a reasonably patriotic Canadian 😉 ), but I think there’s a good chance of Canada standing firm on this one. Canadian governments are fairly cooperative with the US, but push back on occasion when they have firm public support to do so. The opinion polls suggest that public support for insisting on full sovereignty in the Arctic is pretty solid. So we’ll see, but it’s certainly not a lost cause. In any case, I think this is a really important issue for Canada (if and when the Northwest passage become practically navigable). If serious traffic starts wanting to go through the North, it will be hard enough to keep control of things without the additional complication of having a recognized international waterway through the region.

          As an aside, if and when we manage to improve relations with Russia, I think trying to convince Russia to allow traffic through their own north should be a major priority. There are some major gains for Canada in opening up some routes through the North, but I suspect that many of the shortest routes would go at least partially through Russian waters.

          • marknesop says:

            Canada could ‘stand firm’ on it without the USA losing anything, because to the best of my understanding Canada has never said it intends to prevent international shipping from transiting the waterway. Canada just wants its ownership acknowledged, as the whole of the Northwest Passage does lie within Canadian boundaries. Somewhat like the Bosporus lies entirely inside Turkey, certain powers will argue that the Northwest Passage is nonetheless an internationally significant waterway, and I do not see Canada imposing a significant level of restriction. I think Canada’s point is that it wants to be asked when someone wishes to transit the passage, as it is the acknowledged owner, and that all those who do so must share stewardship to ensure pollution issues are mitigated and controlled by regulation.

            America’s position, the last time I checked, was that it is simply an international waterway, and anyone may use it without acknowledging any ownership or accepting any mandate to regulate. It is there that Canada might stand firm, yes, and hopefully it will. Because if not, the next thing the USA will propose is that America police it, as a favour to Canada. And if that proposal is made and accepted, after that it might as well be an American waterway. Canada’s sovereignty must be recognized and not shared in any way. but that’s not to much to ask, and is unlikely to result in any onerous transit requirements for anybody. Realistically, I don’t think you can use transit of an international waterway as a political weapon or inducement, but I could be wrong about that.

            • Jen says:

              I should think that the US government and US-based companies just don’t want to pay any tolls for using the Northwest Passage if they agree that it lies within Canadian maritime territories.

              • marknesop says:

                That’s possible; I don’t think there would be any tolls, and even if there were they would likely be for a good reason, such as the maintenance of the waterway under heavy use, that sort of thing. I think the USA is simply hung up on its freedom-of-the-seas-we-go-anywhere-we-please complex, and can’t bear to ask permission for anything. But I don’t know; that’s just an opinion.

                • Cortes says:

                  Isn’t salvage and rescue work the major issue?

                  And yes, probably a stupid question.

                • marknesop says:

                  Gee; I don’t know. It could be – it’s an angle I had not considered; the law is complicated. Theoretically if the passage were declared an international waterway, anyone could compete for salvage contracts, which are sometimes for quite substantial amounts under Lloyds Open Form. It would be a matter of who got a line on first.

                  I always believed the sovereignty issue revolved around the fact that none of the passage is American waters, and the USA has never ratified UNCLOS, so who are they to be dictating terms?

    • Patient Observer says:

      The capacity is 30,000,000 tons/year which equals 520,000 barrels/day. This amounts to perhaps 5% of China’s oil consumption so this pipeline project is a pretty big deal.

  18. Cortes says:

    It’s not just the rascally Russians…the Venezuelans are getting in on the act.
    ¡Ay! ¡Caramba!

    http://www.elperiodico.com/es/politica/20171116/congreso-injerencia-rusia-venezuela-catalunya-espana-ciberseguridad-6428341

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    Who is “Tolokno”?

    Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokno: ‘Russia is worse than ever, but I won’t give up’

    How the fuck should she know?

    She doesn’t live here.

    Written by an UCLA student:

    Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokno on Political Creativity and Global Solidarity

    And then I saw Nadya Tolokno, one of the founders of Pussy Riot, speak at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco and that uncomfortable ache in my bones went away for the first time in ages: I felt like I could do something.

    She walked on stage in a cool graphic tee with a light blue, short-sleeved button-up over her shoulders, and flashed a smile at us before sitting comfortably, openly, one ankle crossed over her knee. She is classically beautiful and it takes a moment to reconcile this with her manner, which is disarmingly silly. She is quick to laugh and does so with her whole body. She gesticulates passionately. While speaking, one gets the sense that a few centuries of philosophy are distilled in her head (a casual reference to Wittgenstein here, to Judith Butler there), but just before you get intimidated she starts exclaiming over something like Twin Peaks.

    FFS! A few centuries of philosophy!!!!!

    What utter shite!

    A CONVERSATION WITH NADYA TOLOKNO AND JADELYNN STAHL

    [Tolokonnikova]has spoken before the US Congress, British Parliament, European Parliament and has appeared on stage with world leaders including Bill Clinton. Nadya is a Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipient, has appeared as herself on the third season of House of Cards and performed the Pussy Riot song “Refugees In” as part of Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition.

    When did she speak to the UK parliament?

    All the in-people call her “Tolokno” now, it seems.

    In case you’re wondering, the author of the above shite, Jadelynn Stahl, is a radical, interdisciplinary performance artist, and organizer based in Oakland. Fusing elements of durational art, video, ritual, and burlesque, her work seeks to centralize and complicate socially prevalent narratives concerning systemic cultures of violence, in particular gender-based violence and forced assimilation.

    She must be dead clever.

    • Northern Star says:

      or almost dead

    • marknesop says:

      One thing you have to say for Russian women – they’re tough as boots. Take ‘Tolokno’, for example. The classically beautiful waif was regularly beaten and had to work 17 hours straight on only 4 hours sleep, but she’s still…well…classically beautiful. Much like Tatyana Chornovol, whose face was smashed to pulp, but who recovered just about as quickly as the swelling went down although she supposedly had a broken cheekbone.

      Pretty safe detailing your life in a Russian prison, though – whatever they say is going to be a lie, of course. I guess they must have beaten her during her four hours off, during which she also presumably had to eat, if they gave her any food.

      You can pretty much tell what kind of Russia the western luvvies would make of it if they had their choice, by the Russians they idolize. Funny to see them trotting out the new streamlined and modernized ‘Tolokno’ now, though, considering she’s been in the back of obscurity for better than a year.

      • Jen says:

        Soon Londoners can experience the brutality of the Russian justice system and incarceration in a Siberian prison camp as recreated by Nadia Tolokonnikova in an art installation at the Saatchi Gallery (14 November – 24 December 2017) for the sterling equivalent of US$25 – 60 or whatever she and her fellow shark Jadelynn Stahl charged for their talk.
        https://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/arts/pussy-riot-cofounder-nadya-tolokonnikova-to-recreate-siberian-prison-camp-at-the-saatchi-gallery-a3646631.html

        Wonder who’ll be playing Evgenia Khasis in Nadia T’s recreation?
        http://akarlin.com/2013/09/evgeniya-khasis-on-tolokonnikovas-prison-letter/

        • Moscow Exile says:

          She was not incarcerated in a Siberian prison camp: she spent her prison days in a “colony” in the Republic of Mordovia.


          Greetings from Mordovia!

          With her pal after doing bird:

          Photographed after undergoing 2 or 3 hunger strikes as well!

          • marknesop says:

            Good of them to spare her face with their regular beatings.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            The “colony” where the “philosopher” Tolokonnikova served time was not a “strict regime” one: it was what in the UK they call an “open prison” with minimal security and the fence is basically “token”, indicating the limits by which prisoners are confined.

            In British open prison you are locked up at night in army-style huts, which, nevertheless, have an emergency fire door that can be kicked open. During the working day, in an open prison inmate,s go about their business as did Tolokonnikova: she was sewing police uniforms, I believe. The prisoners are observed but not “guarded” in a high-security way.

            I spent the end of my UK imprisonment in an open prison whose inmates mostly worked on the prison farm. However, I was stuck in the laundry because I wasn’t going to be there long enough to be trained as a cowman or swineherd.

            During the lunch break and recreation periods I use to play chess with the screws.

            They had me down for the prison rugby team, which only played home matches, but on my great inaugural day as star guest second-row forward for Her Majesty’s Prison Kirkham, the bastards wouldn’t let me play because I was over 35.

            I had celebrated my 35th birthday in nick the week before I was due to turn out for the team. I was fit as a flea as well, but that was the rule. Bastards!

            After my release from prison in the UK, I went into exile with a mard lip on.

            🙂

            • Jen says:

              Don’t expect Tolokonnikova’s recreation of the “Siberian prison camp” to feature any live models or mannequins working on army uniforms on sewing machines or getting their own rooms with heaters, TV sets or fridges (as she did, according to Evgenia Khasis). I am guessing this exhibition will cater to stereotypes people have about concentration camps or what goes on in women’s prisons and will seek to titillate them with scenes of supposed torture. The whole idea is beyond dishonesty and there’s something about the idea that whiffily stinks of pornography.

    • yalensis says:

      These sharks charged ticket prices of $25.00 to $60.00 to listen to this degenerate ramble on? What a phony, and what a bunch of phonies in the audience!
      For that much money American audiences could listen to a decent symphony orchestra concert, or maybe even see a play.
      The deepest flaw in the American personality is their fascination with celebrity.
      As Pushkin noted, in his time, this fascination is a twisted form of vanity.
      And vanity, as we all know, is one of the 7 deadly sins!

  20. Cortes says:

    Second part of Le Dahu’s description of developments in the Russian Navy:

    http://thesaker.is/part-2-towards-a-corvette-centric-russian-navy/

    Even a landlubber like me can see that the Buyan M class tootling along one of the great rivers armed with missiles might have a few western planners somewhat exercised.

  21. Northern Star says:

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/16/eufa-n16.html

    “According to an EU press release, the EU Commission, another unelected body, will select the High-Level Expert Group, which is “to start in January 2018 and will work over several months.” It will discuss “possible future actions to strengthen citizens’ access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online.” Who will decide what views are “verified,” who is “reliable” and whose views are “disinformation” to be deleted from Facebook or removed from Google search results? The EU, of course.”

    We-TPTB of the EU- will control all that you are allowed to see,hear or read…!!!

    • marknesop says:

      It’s all in how you sell it; We’re doing this to protect you, because only the state has the wisdom to know what is bad for you. The protest generations in the west have been replaced by passive office drones who will listen to whatever you tell them.

      What is astonishing is how abruptly the west turned away from globalism. It has since opted for a hemispheres of influence model, and seems not to care that it burned up decades if not centuries of work in the space of about five years.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Another indication that the West is losing its Soft Power dominance. BTW, the Outer Limits was a great show for its day.

  22. Northern Star says:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/hillary-clinton-calls-potential-justice-department-investigation-abuse/story?id=51190591
    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/360608-clinton-special-counsel-threat-is-abuse-of-power

    BUT

    When the corrupt fascist apparatchiks of the American Oligarchy subvert entire government
    agencies to carry out their assigned mission of establishing the lunatic horseshit of Russian meddling in American political process as credible and documented.THAT’S not “abuse of power”

  23. et Al says:

    Neuters: Secret witness in Senate Clinton probe is ex-lobbyist for Russian firm
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-clinton-informant-exclusive/exclusive-secret-witness-in-senate-clinton-probe-is-ex-lobbyist-for-russian-firm-idUKKBN1DG1SH?

    Senate Republicans say their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s role in approving a deal to sell U.S. uranium mines to a Russian company hinges in part on the testimony of a secret informant in a bribery and extortion scheme inside the same company.

    The Senate committee searching for Clinton’s alleged wrongdoing is keeping their witness’s name cloaked. However, William D. Campbell, a lobbyist, confirmed to Reuters he is the informant who will testify and provide documents to Congress about the Obama Administration’s 2010 approval of the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with uranium mines in the United States, to Russia’s Rosatom….
    ####

    More at the link.

    What epic amounts of spin! The pure and virginal American political system is under attack from corrupt Russian organizations non-stop. It’s not a question of American political corruption, though maybe their naiveté, but those evil slitty eyed half-breeds and their barbaric practices that are so cunning and irresistible! It’s always the Rooshieans!

  24. Northern Star says:

    I bet that outfit ran her about 5K…..
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/millionaire-treasury-secretary-socialite-wife-230029814.html

    From Mnuchin’s Wiki Bio:
    Categories: 1962 births American banker sAmerican film producers American hedge fund managers American Jews American people of Russian-Jewish descent Goldman Sachs people Living people People from New York City Trump administration cabinet members United States Secretaries of the Treasury Yale University alumni

    Why am I not surprised!!!

  25. Jen says:

    Did you notice that at the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing where Steve Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton were being photographed with that sheet, Jared Kushner was also present “for some reason” (Chris McGonigal / Huffington Post’s words)?

  26. Warren says:

    Russia Insider
    Published on 16 Nov 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 230K
    Credit for English Subs https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC519
    Yakov Kedmi is a former head of the Israeli intelligence agency “Nativ”. He often appears on Russian TV to talk on global political issues. This is a fragment of his appearance on the “Evening with Solovyov” program. Here he talks about the true face of modern democracy and the purpose of the anti-Russian propaganda in the west.

    • Ryan Ward says:

      That be some Grade A trolling right there, but not even I’m going to bite on this one 😉

      • Why do you call it trolling when someone expresses admiration for North Korea and it’s heroic defiance of US aggression which has endured for 60 years and began with the massacring of the people and almost total destruction of the country?

        Kim’s number one priority is to ensure his country does not end up like Iraq. Moreover the DPRK threatens absolutely nobody and will only fire it’s weapons if attacked.

        The achievements of this country have been eyewatering. The type of government they have is their business as is the case with Iran, Venezuela, Syria and of course Russia and China who are facing the same enemy.
        We are entering a multipolar world and will need to be tolerant of different countries religious/political ideologies. I strongly urge those wishing to know a bit of the truth about the DPRK to read the attached link. It isn’t Kim who should be in a special place in hell but the criminal regime in the west which threatens everybody and has murdered millions.

        http://www.4thmedia.org/2017/04/the-long-dirty-history-of-u-s-warmongering-against-north-korea/

        The article also refers to the many times the DPRK has sought a peace deal with the US with China’s support only to be rebuffed.

        Best wishes

        • yalensis says:

          Very good points, Marcus. It is time to stop demonizing North Korea.
          The U.S. has a very odious history in this regard, as you have correctly pointed out.

          • Patient Observer says:

            I suspect that most Americans formed their opinion about the Korean War from the TV show MASH. For me, it came as a shock to learn of the savagery of the US bombing raids on NK and use of germ warfare against the civilian population.

        • marknesop says:

          Interesting. Like Ryan, I imagine, I assumed you were being sarcastic, and had floated an over-the-top love soliloquy to North Korea to see if anyone would bite on it. I don’t think too many people – and I am not trying to influence anyone’s opinion by saying so – would consider Kim a visionary leader who could serve as an example to a multipolar world. I would say the same of the Gulf Kingdoms, and am generally skeptical of ruling dynasties where succession is assured. I personally believe democratic elections are the best model, although there haven’t been any anywhere that I could point to as an example for quite a long time. In a real democratic election, candidates would openly state their plan for the country, subject to verification that all promises were at least theoretically possible, and explain why they believed they were the best choice. They would not engage in slandering and ridiculing other candidates and would not even mention their opponents unless something in their campaign promises was obviously not possible, and in that event would explain clearly why rather than speculating the candidate is a liar.

          I would have a hard time seeing North Korea as progressive, although I would agree it has served as a punching bag for the west when it wants to reassure its citizens how terrible things are elsewhere. I’m not sure, either – because I don’t know – why North Korea necessarily needs an autocratic leader when the population seems to accept he is some sort of emperor. I could defend that in, say, Chechnya, where it probably takes a leader like Kadyrov to keep order because he is feared. It’s hard to imagine anything like modern Grozny could emerge from the tribal warfare that would prevail without a unifying leader. But no such challengers to Kim’s leadership are present in North Korea.

          It is true, too, that North Korea has made attempts in the past to negotiate some kind of security pact, but these were not taken seriously. In the case of the Obama administration, its starting position was that North Korea must give up its nukes. Kim certainly knows better than that, as being a small, weak country has never been a guarantee against American attack in the past.

          • Patient Observer says:

            If the power of money were removed, then a democracy may have a chance of succeeding, Put differently, democracy could only succeed in a deeply socialistic society.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            This silly habit of praising to the skies every grubby 2-bit dictator who makes the correct fist-shaking gestures at the US is not only sloppy analysis; it’s bad politics. It does real harm to the chances of convincing open-minded but not yet convinced people to support more sensible foreign policy. When people get the impression that the only systematic alternative to supporting current American foreign policy is uncritically swallowing a bunch of BS conspiracy theories and living in a topsy-turvy world where leaders who live in Gulf Arab style luxury while their people suffer en masse from stunted growth as a result of malnutrition and intestines infested with parasites as a result of living in a country so backward it’s not capable of making chemical fertiliser are great leaders and models for the world, most of them will take a pass and stick with the neocons. And all the while the real question (whether a country’s internal problems automatically justify America in riding to the rescue with guns blazing) goes unaddressed. Rather, the central premise is tacitly being accepted when people twist themselves into pretzels to avoid the obvious facts about eg. the Kim dynasty, as if these contortions are the only way to challenge America’s policies.

            • marknesop says:

              I hope you’re not suggesting that’s what I’m doing.

              Did you ever wonder what happened to the chemical fertilizer industry in North Korea? Because there was quite an impressive one, at one time.

              • Ryan Ward says:

                No, my comment was about the guy who posted the original link, not about you or anyone else who commented in response to it. The reason I entered my comment as a reply to yours is that you yourself made the distinction between approving of the Kim dynasty and assessing American policy toward NK. That’s the same distinction I was making in my comment (admittedly using much stronger language 😉 )

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Yes, I agree (if I understand correctly) with your statement that just because the US may have a wrong policy toward NK does not automatically make NK right. Its “rightness” or “wrongness” requires a separate analysis.

                • yalensis says:

                  I would agree with that too, namely, that just because the U.S. regards Nation X as an enemy, shouldn’t necessarily mean that Nation X is good, or should be seen as a friend.
                  It does, however, earn it some extra points as the victim of a bully.

              • Ryan Ward says:

                About the chemical fertilizer issue, I don’t know what happened to that industry in particular. But the theme of economic and industrial decline is a common one across the North Korea economy. The North Korean economy initially grew faster than the South Korean, and NK was richer than SK until around 1980 or so. Since then, it’s not only stagnated, but gone consistently backward. The reasons for this general pattern aren’t hard to explain. In the early years, North Korea could draw on a lot of the strengths of the old economy. They had access to the information conveyed by real prices, along with distribution networks that had been established in market conditions. Building on these foundations, and using their authoritarian system’s capacity for large-scale mobilization, the North Koreans were able to outpace their more disorganized and disunited Southern counterparts. However, the more time passed, the more the inner weaknesses of the system undermined it. As it had been longer and longer since they had had access to any real economic data, the plans of the economic ministry became more and more divorced from reality. Alongside this, there was a generational component. The first generation of North Korean leaders, many of whom had been anti-Japanese resistance fighters, generally had integrity and tried to discharge their duties appropriately. Their children were (on average) considerably less honest. All these factors led to a decisive break in the pattern of NK’s economy before the events people tend to focus on (the loss of NK’s patrons, especially the Soviet Union). These were not the decisive events, but only reinforced a pattern that had already been in motion for a decade.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, the included link said the chemical fertilizer industry was destroyed by UN bombing, but that the North Koreans had made significant progress in rebuilding it. The USA has wavered back and forth between giving North Korea economic aid in exchange for concessions it says were never made, and trying to strangle it economically. The time the link speaks of was long ago, but how much has really changed? The North Koreans relied on access to foreign funding in order to build their industrial base, and the driving force behind sanctioning it to prevent that access was the United States. They need fertilizer because their soil is acidic and will not readily support agriculture, but the link said that in the late 1950’s North Korea was capable of producing enough food to feed its people. I presume that owed much to fertilizer.

                  None of this, of course, is a defense of North Korea or Kim. I think I made my position clear. But I was intrigued by something you said; “As it had been longer and longer since they had had access to any real economic data, the plans of the economic ministry became more and more divorced from reality.”

                  How many of us know any more what is actually true and what is not? There’s so much spin – of which the current attempt to make a muzhik of Trump who is practically a native Russian, his connections go so far back, is but an example – that there is little we can say we know for certain.

                  Other than that, I agree with PO; the wrongness of the one does not presuppose the rightness of the other. But I think it is safe to say the USA presents a certain picture of North Korea which lends itself well to demonizing and sanctioning it, and it might not be completely accurate. The argument could be made that Kim should be more conciliatory toward Washington, and avoid the belligerent rhetoric, but I don’t know that soft words have ever deterred the USA from tuning up on another country it has labeled an enemy.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  The USA has wavered back and forth between giving North Korea economic aid in exchange for concessions it says were never made, and trying to strangle it economically. The time the link speaks of was long ago, but how much has really changed? The North Koreans relied on access to foreign funding in order to build their industrial base, and the driving force behind sanctioning it to prevent that access was the United States.

                  American sanctions really haven’t had much impact on NK’s economy until very recently. This doesn’t often get noted, but North Korea, far from being economically disadvantaged by its foreign situation, was actually greatly advantaged by it until the 1990’s. It profited from having not one but two major power sponsors (China and the Soviet Union) that funneled vast amounts of aid into the country. North Korea even at the best of times (eg. the 1970’s) was always a bit of a Potemkin village. A lot of its economic growth at that time had nothing to do with any strength in the country, but just reflected its access to free resources from outside. Since the 1990’s, China (and to an extent, Russia) have been reluctant to go along with American sanctions policy. It’s only very recently that China has really sanctioned North Korea at all (while continuing to provide aid). So even from the 1990’s on, North Korea has had access to all the foreign investment and trade it needs, but it can’t profit much from it, because it has nothing to offer its trading partners. China continues to provide some unconditional aid, but generally wants to be paid (in cash or kind) for its goods and services. North Korea has nothing to offer China, and thus trade is extremely limited, not because of American sanctions, but because of the general poverty of the NK economy and because of political interference. Even when other countries have tried really hard to establish business connections (for example, the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the South and the Special Economic Zone in the North), the experiments have been abortive, entirely because of political interference on the part of the NK government. I remember Lyttenburgh recently posted a cartoon of Ukraine riding a bike, then putting a stick in the wheels, falling off the bike and hurting himself, then complaining “Damn Moskals!” Change the final phrase to “Damn Americans!” and that cartoon is North Korea.

                  But I was intrigued by something you said; “As it had been longer and longer since they had had access to any real economic data, the plans of the economic ministry became more and more divorced from reality.”

                  How many of us know any more what is actually true and what is not?

                  I should clarify that by information I wasn’t referring to any report or analysis coming from some person, but rather the information that is automatically delivered by prices themselves. A huge problem in any economy is deciding how much of this or that good or service to produce, and prices are the only effective means yet discovered for solving that problem (even Soviet economists realized this fact by the 1970’s, and tried out proposals for various forms of “market socialism” to square the circle, but never had enough time to make anything of them before the system collapsed). When a command economy is introduced, its distortions of the economy and production system are limited at first, because targets and quotas can be developed drawing on the analysis of market conditions before the command economy was introduced. However, with each passing year, that information becomes more and more obsolete, and the new years don’t provide any comparable data. The dogmatic Stalinist command economy (almost completely socialized, non-market production and distribution, collectivized agriculture, emphasis on heavy industry) has been implemented in four countries, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Cuba (with Cuba being a partial exception due to the centrality of cash crop production in the country). In literally every case the result has been the exact same. In the early years, when market data is still available and somewhat relevant, when the backwardness of the country means that great strides can be made by simply copying technologies and techniques from elsewhere, and when the early revolutionary zeal results in reasonably dedicated and honest cadres, the countries make fast strides in economic development. But with time, all of these advantages fade. The market data has become completely obsolete, all the “low-hanging fruit” of development has already been picked, meaning that further progress depends on real creativity and initiative, not just copying, and dedicated revolutionaries have been replaced by time-serving bureaucrats. The result is stagnation at best (Soviet Union) and catastrophic economic collapse at worst (North Korea) All of this has nothing to do with the foreign situation. It has everything to do with the contradictions and systematic flaws of the model itself.

                • marknesop says:

                  A very interesting and compelling analysis; thanks for it.

            • Matt says:

              Well said Ryan. Your prose is excellent. And you express concepts in a clear and succint manner, leaving no room for deliberate misinterpretation by others here.

          • Jen says:

            This comments thread has raised at least two very interesting issues:

            1) assuming that North Korea has made significant economic and social strides – and the fact that the country has a nuclear weapons program would suggest that over the past 60+ years it has raised technical and engineering education to a level equal to levels reached by the US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia and a few others – why then, if people express admiration for NK’s achievements, their admiration is dismissed and criticised due to the means used to reach that end? By the same logic, we should not applaud South Korea’s past efforts to vault itself into the ranks of manufacturing nations because the way in which this was done was by similar dictatorial means used by President Park Chunghee (1961 – 1979) who also ran a police state in that country and moreover used centralised planning (typified by 5-year plans), encouraged the growth of corporations and suppressed wages and labour activism to achieve his economic goals.

            2) constant demonisation of NK – and its repetition – possibly blinds us to what has really been going on in the country over the decades. Just as North Korea’s leaders may be deluding themselves as to what’s actually been going on under their noses, so the West may also be deluding itself through demonising the nation and its politics and economic policies as to what North Korea has been doing over the years. Which party is really divorcing itself from reality?

            • Jen says:

              Another two points I would like to raise – I was pressed for time earlier – are whether Kim Jong-un really does exercise absolute power and whether his leadership style is unchanged from the style of his grandfather Kim Il-sung and/or his father Kim Jong-il. In demonising Kim Jong-un, are we projecting a “Sun King” model of absolute monarchy onto the North Korean government and assuming that all power is concentrated in the figure of Kim, in much the same way that the MSM constantly assumes that Vladimir Putin wields total power in Russia and uses the country’s treasury as his personal bank account? Is it also reasonable to assume that Kim Jong-un governs the same way that his predecessors did? Recent news about NK’s rates of economic growth and its policies to encourage growth and investment may suggest that Kim intends to lead North Korea towards economic self-sufficiency and snub Western sanctions against it in a different way from what his predecessors followed.
              http://apjjf.org/2014/12/18/Henri-Feron/4113/article.html

              If we were to drop our assumption that Kim Jong-un acts like a stereotypical absolute ruler, we might come closer to finding out why North Koreans put up with him and his government. It may very well be that North Koreans prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t in a context in which the memory of the Korean War (during which every major city in North Korea including Pyongyang was bombed flat by the US and the country lost nearly a quarter of its population) may still be strong with nearly all families in the country having lost a member in that war, and in which the US and South Korea carry out massive military exercises under Operation Foal Eagle every year, with this year’s operations involving some 300,000 South Korean soldiers and 10,000 US troops.
              https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3235339/stunning-pictures-capture-us-and-south-korean-marines-training-amid-kim-jong-uns-north-korea-missile-threat/

            • Matt (Mark, please leave this up) says:

              1) North Korea’s technical expertise comes from sending its best students abroad, namy, to China. Specializing in a specific industry does not indicate that the country’s education is equal to Western nations. South Korea used to be a dictatorship, but it was that same double-digit exonomic growth that led to the masses becoming educated and critical thinkers, allowing them to get involved in politics and protests, thus overthrowing their dictator just a few years after said explosive growth. Further, the North Korean government spends large sums of money on its military and on the Kim family’s personal enourage, islands, parties, etc. To quote Trump’s recent speech:

              “Among children under the age of five, nearly 30 percent of afflicted — and are afflicted by stunted growth due to malnutrition. And yet, in 2012 and 2013, the regime spent an estimated $200 million — or almost half the money that it allocated to improve living standards for its people — to instead build even more monuments, towers, and statues to glorify its dictators.”

              The point is, of the North Korean regime wanted to help feed its people, it could easily do so. That it does not, is by choice, not due to pressure by sanctions.

              2) This is a vague point that can be applied to any situation. What specifically does the West get wrong about the NK regime? Article after article, statement after statement by U.S. government officials, have proven that the U.S. does indeed believe Kim is rational and understand why he is doing what he has been doing. The understanding we have of North Korea may not even be harsh enough. The recent soldiers who defected had a 10-inch parasitic worm inside of him, amongst other worms. And he was part of the well-off and loyal elite guard chosen to be stationed at the JCS. If things are this bad for people like him, imagine how bad it is for those who are poorer? We already know about the disgusting cult of personality in the country, where sometimes, the only object lit at night in a city is a statue or billboard dedicated to the leader. We know that North Koreans were taught that Kim il-Sung was immortal, descended from the Sun God (propaganda stolen from Japanese Imperialist/Fascist/Shinto). There is much confirmed information about the country, including the fact that it assassinated the half-brother of the leader in the crowded airport terminal of a friendly nation, using the same WMD the U.S. invaded Iraq over! And of course, the labour camps, executions, “education sessions”, choreographed films, etc. The list goes on. Trying to reject all this by muddling reality can not be done.

              Regarding your other points: it is a logical fallacy to say that just because the Western MSM measure Putin’s power incorrectly, that they do the same with Kim. Kim does indeed hold supreme command over everything. Being as young as he is, he has been shown to consult with advisors more, as well as reference the Party over the military. But what does that have to do with anything? Has he allowed other parties to be allowed to take part in the democratic process? What about media freedom? Freedom of movement?

              “It may very well be that North Koreans prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t in a context in which the memory of the Korean War….”

              And how do you know that? Do North Koreans have a free voice in their society? Can they pick someone other than Kim? Are they subject to an intense propaganda campaign and restriction of information flow? And, frankly, it is quite dishonest to present this false dichotomy of NKs having to choose between Kim and being massacred by Americans. If you follow North Korean news, you’d know full well that if there is anything the NK regime loves, it is using the Americans as a threat.

              There is another issue: the Socialist model is part and parcel of the cult of personality. If Kim really was different, he would not only allocate more resources into feeding his people, but allow a free market of agriculture. So far, he has taken extremely small steps and private farming is still illegal in the country:

              http://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?cataId=nk01500&num=14735

              http://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?cataId=nk00400&num=14463

              http://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?cataId=nk01500&num=12888

              I would also like to respond to Mark’s post here, because he claims that NK can not feed its people partly due to sanctions and America;s “economic strangling” of the country. Let’s put this meme to rest. Below are excerpts from various articles, mixed in with my own commentary.

              North Korea’s government has more than adequate resources to feed its people with just a fraction of what it spends on weapons and luxuries for its morbidly obese tyrant. The reasons for hunger in North Korea are not material, they are political. According to the United Nations, North Korea has one of the 10 worst cases of food insecurity in the world today, along with predominantly agrarian states in sub-Saharan Africa. This state of affairs is not the consequence of lack of resources, but of Pyongyang’s deliberate choices.

              Too often, advocates of “engagement” with North Korea have overlooked such ethical questions about what this trade has done to its people. In fact, the legacy of the last two decades of engagement with Pyongyang increasingly resembles state capitalism — the rich and powerful have grown richer, while denying the silent, expendable majority the means to survive by cracking down on smuggling, markets, and private agriculture.

              Is Kim different from his father? Sure, but not int the way you’d think. Luxury goods expenditure rose to $645.8 million in 2012, a sharp increase from the average of $300 million a year under Kim Jong-il in October 2013. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report on North Korea found that Kim squandered $645.8 million in 2012 on “luxury goods,” including cosmetics, handbags, leather products, watches, electronics, cars and top-shelf alcohol. That same year, Kim spent $1.3 billion on his ballistic missile programs. Compare these numbers: the United Nations World Food Program asked donor nations to give a mere $150 million for food and other humanitarian aid for North Koreans in 2013. 84% of North Korean households according to the W.F.P. and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, had “borderline” or “poor” levels of food consumption in 2013.

              Large amounts of state expenditure are devoted to giant bronze statues and other projects designed to further the personality cult of Kim Il-sung and his successors and showcase their achievements. These projects are given absolute priority, which is also evidenced by the fact that they are often completed in a short period of time. Lest you think this is all CIA propaganda, the DPRK Minister of Finance, Choe Kwang-jin, himself reported about the 2012 budget of the DPRK:

              “Of the total state budgetary expenditure for the economic development and improvement of people’s living standard, 44.8 per cent was used for funding the building of edifices to be presented to the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il-sung.”

              The U.N. Panel of Experts described the confiscation, by Italy, of luxury items such as high quality cognac and whiskey worth 12,000 euros (USD 17,290) and equipment for a 1,000-person cinema valued at Euro 130,000 (USD 187,310). The report further revealed that the DPRK has attempted to purchase and import a dozen Mercedes-Benz vehicles, high-end musical recording equipment, more than three dozen pianos and cosmetics.

              Before the North Korean government expelled most international aid workers in 2006, the World Food Program was feeding 6.5 million North Koreans. The biggest donor to this program? The U.S. Pyongyang spent $200 million on its recent party congress. Consider that $200 million is enough to fully fund World Food Program operations in North Korea for two years.

              During the great famine of the 1990s, between 600,000 and 2.5 million people died of hunger. According to the commission’s report, the North Korean regime obstructed the delivery of aid to the hungriest regions until 1997, and punished those who tried to earn, buy, steal or smuggle in enough food to survive. The regime stocked airfields, reactors and palaces, rather than food stores. At the height of the famine, the regime could have closed its food gap by importing between a mere $100 and $200 million worth of food each year, which is just 1 to 2 percent of its national income, or about five to 20% of revenues from exported goods and services. When the country finally admitted in 1995 that it was facing famine, the international community responded with considerable generosity, at one point feeding roughly a third of the population. I’d like to point out to Mark that this had nothing to do with deals made between the West and NK. It was purely volunteer aid given. Hardly “strangulating” the country. Yet rather than using foreign food aid to supplement its own commercial food imports, the commission found that Kim Jong-il used aid as a substitute for them, cutting back on commercial food imports when more aid arrived, in essence using humanitarian aid as a form of balance of payments support, freeing up resources to finance the importation of advanced military weaponry. By contrast, the State Department estimates that in 1997, at the peak of the famine, North Korea’s annual military budget was $6 billion. One defector testified that in 1995, as North Koreans began to die by the tens of thousands, the Kim regime spent $790 million on a mausoleum for North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung — which would have been enough to close North Korea’s food gap for four years. Today, the gap could be closed for something in the order of $8-19m — less than 0.2% of national income or one per cent of the military budget.

              A reporter for The Telegraph identified Canadian snowmobiles, Swedish snow-blowers and Italian and German snow ploughs in photographs of Kim’s new ski resort. Swiss authorities refused to allow the sale of ski lifts for the resort, a decision Pyongyang denounced as a “serious human rights abuse.” Let that last phrase sink in.

              Yachts:

              Imported luxury ski goods:

            • Ryan Ward says:

              assuming that North Korea has made significant economic and social strides – and the fact that the country has a nuclear weapons program would suggest that over the past 60+ years it has raised technical and engineering education to a level equal to levels reached by the US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia and a few others – why then, if people express admiration for NK’s achievements, their admiration is dismissed and criticised due to the means used to reach that end? By the same logic, we should not applaud South Korea’s past efforts to vault itself into the ranks of manufacturing nations because the way in which this was done was by similar dictatorial means used by President Park Chunghee (1961 – 1979) who also ran a police state in that country and moreover used centralised planning (typified by 5-year plans), encouraged the growth of corporations and suppressed wages and labour activism to achieve his economic goals.

              There are a lot of problems with this statement. To start, there’s simply no reasonable justification for the claim that North Korea has made “significant economic and social strides”. A nuclear weapon program is a really bad example to give to justify the claim of “economic strides”, and completely irrelevant to social questions. As Matt noted, one particular, and incredibly over-prioritized, sector, is not an accurate reflection of the economy as a whole. Furthermore, North Korean gains in military technology have benefited greatly from Chinese help. As far as the country’s social situation goes, the fact that the country has poured the resources into its military sector to make these gains makes the abysmal state of the country’s food supply, health care and basic consumer goods and services sectors all the more unforgivable. The article posted engages in a fair bit of strawmanning and obfuscation (no one claims the North Korean economy is currently “collapsing”, and all the emphasis on the difficulties of getting exact economic data in the article is accurate, but only serves to obscure the fact that North Korea’s poverty can be seen in such basic and simple indicators as the height of its people, the health of North Korean defectors, satellite imagery and the observations of visitors on guided tours). A country where not having a famine in the 21st century is considered an achievement doesn’t get to brag about its economic progress. North Koreans are considerably sicker than people in the developed world, don’t have reliable access to even basic utilities such as electricity, live shorter lives, don’t have any access at all to even basic Internet service, and rarely own personal vehicles. These are all facts (and they undoubtedly are facts. A lot of these things can be verified by simple observation by anyone who visits the country. Others are known because the NK government itself admits them) that completely vitiate any claim of anything remotely resembling impressive economic progress in NK. And these things can all be known and observed without having to be certain about precise figures concerning GDP and so on. As far as “social progress” goes, NK remains a cult-state where students are taught and forced to parrot absurd legends about the Kim family, where religious freedom is completely non-existent, that has to lock down its borders to prevent its people from leaving, and where the rule of law is non-existent, and work camps of the harshest kind not only remain present but are growing.

              This brings up a second problem. The comparison between the North Korean regime and Park Chung Hee is ludicrous. While the Park Chung Hee era saw restrictions on political rights and poor wages and working conditions, but it was also characterized by almost complete civil and personal liberties, including freedom of religion, a free and independent cultural life, the rule of law in most areas of life (obviously excluding things like crack-downs on political dissidents) and general non-interference by the government in people’s personal affairs. Getting back to economic growth, the Park Chung Hee era in South Korea saw some of the fastest economic growth in world history. In some years the annual GDP per capita growth topped 20%. And this was true broad-based growth across the entire economy, growth that really made a difference in the lives of ordinary people (and, on top of everything else, Park Chung Hee era SK was actually more equal than NK as well). The North Koreans have suffered from decades of sickness, malnourishment and the almost complete absence of even basic consumer goods, and all they have to show for it are some missiles. The South Korean suffered through about a decade and a half of long hours and low pay, and in return achieved a standard of living among the best in the world. The two situations are not remotely comparable.

              • Jen says:

                I did not say that North Korea had made such strides, I only said that if people like Marcus Johansen believe that that’s what has occurred and they express praise, why then are their expressions derided as trolling? The responsibility is on you to demonstrate that MJ’s statement is not justified. Coming out with all the usual points about North Korea being a cult state where healthcare is abysmal, people are malnourished etc etc without anything or any links to support for what you say is not enough.

                As you say, Park Chung-hee’s reign as president did indeed have restrictions on political rights but then you say in the same sentence that his presidency was characterised by almost complete civil and personal liberties. How “almost complete” do you mean? Most sources I have read agree Park was an authoritarian president who governed as a dictator with the power to rule by decree, especially after 1972 when he changed the country’s constitution so that he could be re-elected indefinitely through an electoral college instead of through direct elections.

                Biography of Park Chung-hee:
                http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Park_Chung-hee

                Washington Post 1979 article on the assassination of Park Chung-hee:
                https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1979/10/27/president-park-killed-in-south-korea/8b1a3a1f-acec-40c8-8716-233e7b6bd55b/?utm_term=.ec00f3b0b242

                Yushin Constitution of 1972:
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Republic_of_Korea#Yusin_Constitution

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  I didn’t bother linking because everything I mentioned, the cult of the Kims, the abysmal health outcomes, the widespread malnourishment, electricity is unreliable (or, in much of the country, pretty reliably absent) is pretty common knowledge. But anyway, providing links for what I said is not hard to do. Simple Google searches will show pretty much everything I was saying. But to make it easy, here we go

                  Cult of the Kims

                  http://www.dw.com/en/the-truth-and-myths-of-the-kim-dynasty/g-40345081
                  https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2011/1222/Kim-Jong-il-Legendary-golfer-and-mythical-powers-even-in-death
                  And, in book form “The Cleanest Race” by B.R. Myers

                  Health Outcomes and Malnourishment

                  http://www.who.int/countries/prk/en/

                  (Some especially relevant stats from that page, in 2012, 47.1% of North Korean children under 5 were underweight, including 32% in the more severed “stunting” and “wasting” categories, while 34% of children under 5 suffered from anemia. In 2015 the under-five mortality rate was 24.9 per 1000. As a point of comparison, in 2011, 4% of South Korean children under 5 were underweight, and 15% suffered from anemia).

                  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17774210

                  Electricity

                  http://newfocusintl.com/a-reliable-supply-of-electricity-in-north-korea/

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  “As you say, Park Chung-hee’s reign as president did indeed have restrictions on political rights but then you say in the same sentence that his presidency was characterised by almost complete civil and personal liberties. How “almost complete” do you mean? Most sources I have read agree Park was an authoritarian president who governed as a dictator with the power to rule by decree, especially after 1972 when he changed the country’s constitution so that he could be re-elected indefinitely through an electoral college instead of through direct elections.”

                  That’s why I distinguished between political and civil/personal liberties. In the Park era, political rights were extremely limited. However, these controls didn’t extend to personal matters. As long as people stayed out of politics, they could go about their personal and family lives, practice whatever religion they preferred, and participate in cultural life, without giving a thought to the authorities. A North Korean can’t do any of these things without strict controls at every step.

                • Jen says:

                  I’m not sure that the abysmal health outcomes, widespread malnutrition, unreliable electricity and the Kim cult really are common knowledge or the result of Western media outlets continuously repeating the same old anonymous South Korean source until through repetition the rumour becomes more “common sense” than what actually exists in North Korea. I am not confident that Deutsche Welle and New Focus International (linked to the University of Leiden in the Netherlands) are impartial sources and these days I never want to look at anything from the BBC about countries targeted for regime change.

                  Interestingly this website ranks global malnutrition (per 100,000 people, and age-standardised) and on this ranking, North Korea actually has fewer deaths per 100,000 than several countries in Latin America, in spite of economic sanctions against it since 2006. Strangely a person is slightly more likely to die in France from malnutrition than in North Korea!
                  http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/malnutrition/by-country/

                  Data source is WHO and the period covered is 2014.

                • marknesop says:

                  I think the most reliable information probably comes from somebody who has both been there, and been around, so that he does not come out of North Korea with stars in his eyes and a boner for Kim. Not unless he actually deserves it, of course. I myself have never been closer than seeing it from a distance. What about Mr. Johansen? Has he been there? Whence comes this admiration for the country and its leader? From practical experience?

                  That’s not to say you can’t learn anything about other countries unless you can observe it firsthand. However, there are certain countries which have had so many lies told about them for so long that ‘common wisdom’ has calcified. Russia is one. Perhaps North Korea is another. I remember reading once that Kim (the present Kim’s daddy, this would be) spent all the money received in aid from the USA for an entire year on a fleet of new Mercedes cars. Was that true? I don’t know – I certainly couldn’t find anything on the web which supported it. But I also read acute nonsense almost every day in the newspaper which I am certain people believe.

                  Reedie was right. Politics permeates everything. What is the likely image of North Korea which is created by politics? Is it likely to be good, or bad? If bad, is it likely to be accurate, or mostly inaccurate?

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  “Interestingly this website ranks global malnutrition (per 100,000 people, and age-standardised) and on this ranking, North Korea actually has fewer deaths per 100,000 than several countries in Latin America, in spite of economic sanctions against it since 2006. Strangely a person is slightly more likely to die in France from malnutrition than in North Korea!”

                  *sigh*

                  If you actually go to the WHO website, you’ll see that the WHO defines “malnutrition” in its etymological sense, as bad nutrition. Obesity according to this definition is just as much a case of malnutrition as being underweight. As the WHO site notes, in most countries of the world, deaths by malnutrition are primarily deaths because of diseases connected with obesity rather than because of starvation. So that map is completely irrelevant to the question of food insecurity, which is what I was talking about. But one nice thing about this comment, you’ve confirmed that one of the few sources you’re apparently willing to accept is the WHO, so we can then I assume take it as established that almost half of North Korean children under 5 are underweight.

                • marknesop says:

                  I’m still a little curious about that linked document which suggested the UN bombed North Korea – to significant destruction, by most accounts – either to deliberately destroy its ability to feed itself or with that as a secondary consequence of the primary reason. The document, which reflects the analysis of an enemy, so it was likely not meant to be sympathetic, inferred that the soil was acidic and needed fertilization to bring the balance which would allow serious production. But it quite clearly stated that prior to the bombing, North Korea could feed itself and was even eying food exports.

                  Mind you, they have had considerable time since to repeat that triumph. I’m not sure if fertilizer is a sanctioned product, since the kind of explosives you can build with it (such as ANFO) are typically cumbersome and hardly suited for war, although it very well might be.

                  Regardless the case there, it is curious that the west does not try soft power to see if Kim could be overthrown by the populace. After all, it maintains that Russia is totalitarian and ruled by an autocratic dictator who stifles dissent, but that does not stop it from inveigling for sedition with its NGO’s. But for North Korea, it is mostly the stick.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  I think the most reliable information probably comes from somebody who has both been there, and been around, so that he does not come out of North Korea with stars in his eyes and a boner for Kim.

                  There are two writers that fit that description admirably, those being Bradley K Martin, who first traveled to NK in 1979 and has been back three times since then, and Andrei Lankov, who actually studied in Pyeongyang. Both have written books about the country, and Lankov owns the parent company of NK News. The Cliffs Notes version of their work is that 80%+ of the terrible rumours about NK are true. But of course, the Mr. Johansens of the world probably won’t ever read anything by Lankov or Martin, and if they do, they’ll just dismiss it as a bunch of lies. That’s of course because the Mr. Johansens only have one criterion of reliable information; it tells them things they already want to believe. It makes any argument super-easy. Any source that could possibly be used to support a counter-point is instantly and obviously unreliable (no argument or demonstration required) and any source that toes the desired line is obviously gold standard (again, no demonstration or argument required). There’s literally no way to reason with these kinds of people.

                • marknesop says:

                  Mmmm….yes; I met someone quite a bit like that just recently.

                • Jen says:

                  I think I would prefer to wait for Marcus Johansen to come back and tell us if he has ever visited North Korea or knows people who have been there and worked there rather than rely on Mr Ward’s dismissal of his views.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  Your choice, but you’ll owe me a case of beer when he either a. never shows up again or b. makes another cameo to repeat more or less the same standard lines as last time 😉

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Per Ryan Ward:
                  f you actually go to the WHO website, you’ll see that the WHO defines “malnutrition” in its etymological sense, as bad nutrition. Obesity according to this definition is just as much a case of malnutrition as being underweight. As the WHO site notes, in most countries of the world, deaths by malnutrition are primarily deaths because of diseases connected with obesity rather than because of starvation.

                  I take slight comfort in knowing that the Western diet and, in particular, the American diet is as deadly as starvation. Credible nutritionists suggest that the US diet has caused enormous levels of death and disease in much of the world. We turn a blind eye to this hideous fact or brush it off by claiming it is not the fault of US business/government if people choose to poison themselves with bad food – the same core argument once made about cigarette smoking.

                  Not trying to draw tight parallels, but does the US in the area of food, really protect its population better than NK? Both governments seem to have other priorities – NK with its nuclear program and the US with protecting its business interests.

                • marknesop says:

                  Someone at work the other day mentioned they had seen a news article – they didn’t say where – which postulated that if the United States continued on the present trajectory for the foreseeable future, 100% of its current budget would be accounted for by health care expenses.

                  I looked to see if there was anything like that, and while I didn’t find a source which said anything like such alarming statistics, I did find a report from 2012 which announced that health care costs in the USA had gone from a statistical $356.00 per person in 1970 to a statistical $8,402.00 per person in 2010. Figuring in the growth in the American population between 1970 and 2010, and the forecast that by 2020 (although projections that far out are rarely accurate) healthcare costs will consume nearly one-fifth of the budget, there’s reason for nervousness.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  I take slight comfort in knowing that the Western diet and, in particular, the American diet is as deadly as starvation.

                  That’s a conclusion that’s not justified by the statistics. When you’re looking at death rates, the key thing to keep in mind is that everyone dies. So if you add up the death rate from all causes, the total will always be 1000 per 1000. But that doesn’t mean that each country is equally healthy. A big part of the reason why Westerners die from health complications of obesity is that nothing else manages to kill them first. A big part of the reason why more North Koreans don’t die of the complications of hunger is that malnutrition is far from the only health problem in North Korea (While one of the few things North Korea does well is providing basic medical care, generally from traditional medicine, to the general population, there’s very little available to treat more serious problems, except of course for the ruling class). According to World Bank figures, life expectancy in North Korea is about 10% lower than in America (71 years versus 79 years). It should also be kept in mind that health is not only a matter of length of life, but also of quality, and the disadvantages of being overweight, while real, are not as great as the effects of living on the verge of starvation.

                  Credible nutritionists suggest that the US diet has caused enormous levels of death and disease in much of the world. We turn a blind eye to this hideous fact or brush it off by claiming it is not the fault of US business/government if people choose to poison themselves with bad food – the same core argument once made about cigarette smoking.

                  Not trying to draw tight parallels, but does the US in the area of food, really protect its population better than NK? Both governments seem to have other priorities – NK with its nuclear program and the US with protecting its business interests.

                  Despite my comments above, I don’t mean to minimize this problem. I just think it’s important to avoid hyperbole and keep a sense of perspective. On a “hierarchy” of nutritional priorities, the most basic is making sure that people eat something. America does a fairly good job in this respect by first generating enough wealth that the great majority have no problem buying food, and second by providing food stamps for those who do. The fact that America doesn’t do so well on level 2 of the hierarchy (making sure that the food people have is nutritious), but that shouldn’t lead to a false equivalency with a country like North Korea that fails even at level 1. That said, it’s definitely true that America is guilty of putting corporate interests above public health, especially when it comes to children. The fact that American parents have to send their kids to schools full of Coke or Pepsi vending machines, and where the lunch in the school cafeteria is more likely to be a burger and fries than a salad and grilled chicken, is a major problem. Personally, I think cleaning up the schools in terms of nutrition and implementing sugar and salt taxes should be the first priority in dealing with this issue, but even the best measures will take time to have an effect.

                • marknesop says:

                  A problem there that would take a monumental effort to resolve is that there is sugar incorporated in almost everything; visitors to North America from, say, Europe are amazed at how sweet everything is, including common condiments like ketchup. Do you know how much sugar there is in something that is supposed to be tomato sauce? And fat; salad dressings are full of fat, and our traitorous bodies are programmed to crave sugar and fat.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  I’m still a little curious about that linked document which suggested the UN bombed North Korea – to significant destruction, by most accounts – either to deliberately destroy its ability to feed itself or with that as a secondary consequence of the primary reason.

                  I’m immediately inclined to believe that destroying the country’s capacity to feed itself was an intentional thing. The bombing campaign seems to have been designed to cause maximum damage in all areas, and dams were intentionally attacked to flood farmland, which seems to be a pretty clear indication that the country’s capacity to feed itself was a target. There’s a good short article about it here https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-war-crime-north-korea-wont-forget/2015/03/20/fb525694-ce80-11e4-8c54-ffb5ba6f2f69_story.html?utm_term=.10413b443874

                  As you said, this was 70 years ago, so for the NK government to use it as an excuse for its poor performance now is pretty weak, but on the other hand, that doesn’t change or excuse the history.

                  Regardless the case there, it is curious that the west does not try soft power to see if Kim could be overthrown by the populace. After all, it maintains that Russia is totalitarian and ruled by an autocratic dictator who stifles dissent, but that does not stop it from inveigling for sedition with its NGO’s. But for North Korea, it is mostly the stick.

                  I agree here. Current policy is completely counter-productive. The Kims have always milked the “American invaders” narrative for all its worth. This would be a lot harder for them to do if the Americans didn’t help them by acting the part. Sanctions are a good example. Like I said, I personally think the effect of American sanctions on North Korea is actually fairly minimal. Until very recently, China hasn’t been on board at all, and the Russians and South Koreans have also been relatively willing to engage economically. With those trading partners, NK doesn’t really need to trade with America or the West. The trouble is, unlike the old days of the “socialist camp”, China and Russia aren’t going to give large-scale aid to North Korea for free anymore. But that more or less means that trade will remain low-level, since the only sector where North Korea is relatively strong (weapons) is an area where China and Russia are stronger. All these problems have nothing to do with sanctions, but sanctions provide a great fig leaf/scapegoat for NK’s economic problems. If I’m right about NK’s economy, a no-sanctions or light-sanctions policy would leave it pretty much in the same condition it is now, but with the added bonus that the Kims wouldn’t have any convenient foreign enemies to blame it on.

                • marknesop says:

                  If nutrition and the availability of fresh, healthy vegetables and lean meat are the problem, you would think a no-brainer soft-power NGO effort would be agriculture; growing techniques, fertilizers, fodder crops to permit increased livestock farming, fish ponds and forest clearing to permit more farms (as long as it did not get out of control, like the destruction of the rain forests to grow corn for ethanol). Much of this is knowledge-based rather than expensive technology. But perhaps it serves America’s official purposes better to have an ideological enemy who threatens its peace and security.

              • Jen says:

                “… Regardless the case there, it is curious that the west does not try soft power to see if Kim [Jong-un] could be overthrown by the populace. After all, it maintains that Russia is totalitarian and ruled by an autocratic dictator who stifles dissent, but that does not stop it from inveigling for sedition with its NGO’s. But for North Korea, it is mostly the stick.”

                The kind of soft power used through NGOs in Russia to undermine its government and the public’s loyalty to it does take time and money to cultivate and perhaps finding and employing people who can speak and read Russian up to and beyond university level in the US is easier than finding the Korean-language equivalent. Also if you believe that North Koreans are brainwashed robots with no minds of their own, then you’d probably consider that funding NGOs to change their minds would be a waste of time and money.

    • Patient Observer says:

      The web site was an interesting compilation of non-MSM articles. It included a number of reminders of just how cynical, cruel and basically psychopathic national leaders are in this age of enlightened liberal end-of-history bullcrap animated shambling lies that pretends to be a civilization.

    • Jen says:

      That Sci-Tech Complex in Pyongyang is an amazing set of buildings.
      http://www.gdnonline.com/gdnimages/20160102/20160102122928scitechcomplex.JPG?

      More photos of scenes in the building:

  27. Patient Observer says:

    Here is an interesting article on obsessive-compulsive disorder:

    https://www.reference.com/health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-4b50000d75878dd?aq=obsessive+compulsive+disorder&qo=cdpArticles

    Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a behavioral and brain disorder characterized by compulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts that interfere with daily functioning…

  28. saskydisc says:

    Herewith the translation of van der Werff’s correspondence with NRC journalist Wilmer Heck, found at the bottom of the artice De Poetinisering van Omtzigt [The Putinization of Omtzigt]. In a few cases, you may find that a quote of e.g. Heck made by van der Werff does not occur exactly before, as I retranslated a few times, rather than look up the exact form of the previous occurrence. The meaning should make the previous reference clear, although I did copy translations of longer quotations for consitency’s sake. In the translation of the original, I did mistranslate meeting as arrangement once; that is noted below, where that part is quoted.

    Complete correspondence between NRC’s Wilmer Heck and Max van der Werff

    [here: PDF-format]
    [here: email screendump]

    Friday 3 November 2017

    SMS from Wilmer Heck:
    “Hello, Wilmer Heck from NRC here. Could I ask you somewhat over your work on MH17? I await your response. Greetings, Wilmer”

    Max reacted via Whatsapp:
    17:44 Hallo Wilmer, I have received your sms:
    “Hello, Wilmer Heck from NRC here. Could I ask you somewhat over your work on MH17? I await your response. Greetings, Wilmer”

    17:45 My email address: maxvanderwerff@hotmail.com -Feel free to ask. Greetings, max

    Wilmer Whatsapp:
    17:51 Okay, wil do, in the coming days.

    20:38 I have already sent the questions.

    20:38 Email

    Hello Max,

    With these [this email] thus my questions. In an article, we [intend to] investigate different theories regarding the mh17 tragedy, and see who takes which positions in the Netherlands. You are naturally an important player [in the MH17 matter]. When I look at your writings [pronouncements], I am left with the impression that you would like to indicate that the OVV[research council for safety, Dutch Safety Board] interpretation [of MH17] is demonstrably wrong, and that you thus work closely with, amongst others, Russian Dutch citizens, and previously also with amongst others Putkonen in the DNR (based on, amongst other matters, leaked emails and the fact that on your site there is reference to Elena Plotnikova, who as you know is an ethnic Russian from Donetsk who is involved in the Netherlands with pro-Russian activities). Note; there is as far as I am concerned, nothing wrong with this [conduct]; we merely wish to show where the lines are laid.

    I have the following questions:

    1 The letter that was sent some time ago to Trump with the request for a new MH17 investigation: who took the initiative? Is it accurate that in that regard there was a prior meeting [I mistranslated this above as arrangement] with amongst others Billy Six? Were you involved with that?

    2 Is it accurate, and did you ever make it known, that one of your Ukrainian visits was paid for by Russian people? If so, who were these people, and can you thus still work independently?

    3 Why do you work with Elena Plotnikova? On the basis of various pronouncements, she is known as an outspoken pro-Putin person, on an activist basis. Do you not find that your independence suffers?

    4 What exactly does your cooperation [with Plotnikova] entail? I came upon a WhatsApp article of hers where she wrote that she sent you to a Ukrainian asylum seeker who would have seen airplane parts of MH17. Does she not thus influence your work strongly?

    5 The twitter account @MH17files contains a link to your website. Can I conclude from this that this is your account?

    I hope for your cooperation. [Sounds like a police style threat.]

    With friendly greetings,

    Wilmer

    22:29 Email

    Hello Wilmer,

    Thanks for your interest in my ideas regarding MH17 and that you call me an important player. I see myself as a simple blogger who is completely relegated, or who is dismissed as a “useful idiot” and a “Kremlin-troll.” Your NRC-colleague Steven Derix wrote, “There is thus a pro-Russian website in Dutch regarding MH17. Honest.”

    And: “The Kremlin-trolls are jerking around in the Netherlands. Fascinating! Sad though that they never really want to talk.” https://twitter.com/StevenDerix/status/605441811818127361

    When I look at your Twitter account, I read your reaction on a tweet https://twitter.com/beek38/status/923621567237705729 of Eric van de Beek: “Be proud of yourself, for allowing yourself to serve as the mule of propagandist Kronilov’s wagon.”

    You also write: “Pro-Russians in Netherlands all know each other online, and indeed all come from extreme left and right, but also for example from Party of the Animals”

    Best Wilmer, could you imagine that I have little need/desire for being called, by a journalist of a major newspaper, an extremist of left or right?

    My questions:

    1. I am myself preparing an article on the role of journalism with MH17. Perhaps we can have a two-way conversation, and publish from this what suits each of us.

    2.May I offer my assistance and answer your questions, but should I not be satisfied with what NRC eventually publishes, do I get a guarantee that within a week, a letter sent by me will be placed, uncensored, on the same page, and with as many words as your article?
    With friendly greetings,
    Max

    23:14 Max Whatsapp:
    Answer sent.

    23:23 Wilmer Whatsapp:
    Wilmer Heck: Okay merci

    Saturday 4 November
    10:05 Email

    Hello Max,

    Thanks for your reaction. I know your conversation with Steven Derix. I am responding only for my own words. My remark regarding Van de Beek [erroneous capitalization in original—I doubt that he is Dutch] I regard as correct. I have followed Kornilov’s activities for some time and I can only conclude that he is a propagandist who takes on different identities from time to time (director of a non-existant centre/journalist/political scientist/writer etc).

    The second remark regarding people in the Netherlands with Russian sympathies who are clearly in contact with each other online strike me as a merely factually neutral statement. [Remember: Pro-Russian people all know each other online! Next he tries to back away from his own statement:]

    It does not concern me to divide you into left or right. I have no idea of your political preferences. For me it is purely about investigating MH17 [in the next paragraph he will cop out of this as well]. You do have a large following, you appear on Novini, but also on RT and in other media. You have had consistent contact with the JIT, with relatives [of MH17 victims], with politicians. In this sense I do think that you have substantial influence.

    Your suggestion for a two-way conversation I do not think is appropriate, as I am no specialist regarding MH17 [this is the cop-out mentioned above]. I think that your knowledge [of MH17] is far broader than mine, and thus a new two-way discussion is not [meaningfully] possible. Though I have no objection to answering your questions. Should my answers be used for van de Beek’s work, I object, as I have no trust in his objectivity.

    I hope that you still wish to answer my questions. Otherwise I shall write about you without your reaction, and that is naturally not my journalistic preference. If you cooperate, you get to see passages [prior to publication] for the purpose of correcting factual errors. Space for a sent letter is not something that I can promise. That responsibility [of allocating space for, and accepting, letters] belongs to the opinion editor [it is separate circuits by us—electrical analogy] The chance that a letter of yours will be published is greater when you figure in an article, as extended information from your side can be relevant to the reader.

    I await your reaction.

    With friendly greetings,

    Wilmer

    10:05 Wilmer Whatsapp
    I have again reacted

    10:58 Max Whatsapp
    OK. I have read it and am almost done with [my] reaction.

    11:06 Email

    Hello Wilmer,

    To answer your 5 questions properly, I shall have to reference matters, and do a few inquiries. I am making time for that this evening.

    You wrote at the very beginning of our correspondence,
    “Hello, Wilmer Heck from NRC here. Could I ask you somewhat over your work on MH17?” and: “In an article we will investigate different theories regarding the MH17 tragedy and check who takes which positions in the Netherlands.”

    Are you sure that MH17 is the main topic of your [plural] article?

    1) I ask as I would like to cooperate in an article in which different theories regarding the MH17 tragedy are investigated, and where this concern is central. [Note: thusfar Heck has only been paying attention to political loyalties, not different theories…]

    2) An article that would have the main purpose of investigating how “the lines are laid” regarding pro-Russian people, and where MH17 plays a less important role, is not one in which I care to figure.

    For clarity, you now get the answers on your five questions.

    In matter 1), with pleasure; there is too little attention on MH17.
    In matter 2), under protest; you give me the choice: either answer [your] questions, or you write about me without hearing from me.

    I await your reaction, after which I shall send my answers.
    With friendly greetings,
    Max

    12:27 Email

    Hello Max,

    Fair questions. We are not yet certain how we will approach the article. The also depends on the contacts that we make and the information that we find. As I mentioned, we think roughly in terms of an article regarding all theories on MH17 that are currently popular, who promotes the theories, and we possibly ask also relatives of the victims what impact the eventual uncertainty in the matter has upon them. But an extra story regarding people who put more light upon the Russian side of the matter, think of one Anneke de Laaf [exam commisioner at a Law School in Amdsterdam, and activist who put attention on Odessa Trade Union building massacre; NRC had a reasonable interview with her], also looks interesting. I put the questions to you for a possible first article. But if you are indeed an investigator who looks especially from a Russian perspective at the matter, for example from working with Plotnikova, a second article would also be interesting. Not to judge, but purely to emphasize that this direction of though, after the OVV [Dutch Safety Board] matter, also exists. It is also rather difficult to say ahead of time what the story [article] will become. Sometimes it goes to a final edit, and everything must change. Or it is not even published, which can happen, as they do not find the article to be sufficiently relevant. But as said, you get to see the eventual passages in which you figure first [prior to publication].

    I lay emphasis.

    Greetings, Wilmer

    13:05 Wilmer Whatsapp:
    I emailed back again. You may also call me if you do not wish to text and explain [in writing].

    18:50 Email

    Hello Wilmer,

    Your questions and my answers:

    1 The letter that was sent some time ago to Trump with the request for a new MH17 investigation: who took the initiative? Is it accurate that in that regard there was a prior meeting with amongst others Billy Six? Were you involved with that?

    I have sent this inquiry to Joost Niemöller. Billy [Six] visited him and came up with the idea for the letter. They set the letter up together, and deliberated the content with a number of people (including with me). As far as I know, there were no meetings. At any rate, I was not involved with such arrangements [meetings].

    2 Is it accurate, and did you ever make it known, that one of your Ukrainian visits was paid for by Russian people? If so, who were these people, and can you thus still work independently?

    – No. I have never made it known that I am paid by Russian people. I also never have been paid by Russian people. [Sarcasm in ordering the responses.]

    – In September 2014, I wanted to travel via Moscow to the Donbass, and [wanted to] visit the crash-site. The Russian embassy, without justification, denied my a visa, while I had the necessary documentation https://start7mei.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/van-der-werff.pdf

    and I had already traveled through Russia several times. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mf3O5Znw5Q

    – First travel to crash-area [in] April 2015, I paid out of my own pocket.

    – Second travel October 2015 total cost about 3500 [Euros?], of which 1904 [were] donations and the rest out of my own pocket.

    The following donations I received from west-Europeans and Americans:

    479,- Euro
    1.000,- Euro
    100,- Euro
    325,- Euro
    Totaal 1.904* Euro

    *Amounts and names of donators on request [regarding].

    – For the thousands of hours of research that I have performed, no one paid me, and in all that time I lived off my savings, and naturally could generate no income.

    3 Why do you work with Elena Plotnikova? On the basis of various pronouncements, she is known as an outspoken pro-Putin person, on an activist basis. Do you not find that your independence suffers?

    – Do I work with Elena Plotnikova?

    4 What exactly does your cooperation [with Plotnikova] entail? I came upon a WhatsApp article of hers where she wrote that she sent you to a Ukrainian asylum seeker who would have seen airplane parts of MH17. Does she not thus influence your work strongly?

    – I have sent your question, “What exactly does your cooperation [with Plotnikova] entail?,” to Plotnikova. She answers:
    “I sent you [Max vd Werff] a tip that an asylum seeker [Alexandr] wanted to make an eyewitness statement regarding MH17. We had visited the man, and you came to the conclusion that his story was irrelevant.”

    – This man who pretends to be an eyewitness, spoke during a meeting regarding MH17, at a university. Here [he speaks]: https://youtu.be/gBF2cTWcwHQ?t=5394

    Does she not influence your work strongly?

    – Sigh. We do not work together. I do not know whether you refer to subliminal influence, as I am not aware of any influence from a person with whom I do not collaborate.

    5 The twitter account @MH17files contains a link to your website. Can I conclude from this that this is your account?

    – I can assure you that I do not sit behind that account, [that I] have nothing to do with that account, and have no idea who controls that account. In response to your question, I make the following known: https://twitter.com/MaxvanderWerff/status/926588938894168064

    Friendly greetings,
    Max

    5 November 2017

    08:51 Email

    Hearty thanks, Max.

    Two more questions:

    1 Is Plotnikova not mentioned on your site as a translator[ess]? Is that not a form of cooperation? Is that the only form of cooperation?

    2 You offer that I may see the names of the donators. I would like to take you up on that offer with the promise that I will not publish their names purely on the basis of their donation to you. In what matter can we organize this?

    11:25 Email

    Hello Wilmer,

    Answer to question 1
    You apparently refer to this article: MH17 – 1000 Days http://kremlintroll.nl/?p=1312

    That is the translation of this article: http://kremlintroll.nl/?p=1162

    I had no plans to translate the article to English. Elena Plotnikova and some others found that [his lack of desire to translate] a pity. They made the translation with “Olga Holland (pseudonym – I do not know who she is) https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004819662844&fref=ts that I placed on my website. After permission, I placed credits for the translator[esse]s with the article.

    You asked: “Is that not a form of cooperation?”
    Your question is too general.

    How does one answer the question, is there cooperation between you and me[van der Werf and Heck]?

    If you have in mind indications of dubious forms of cooperation between myself and third [parties], give a concrete example, for which I can give a concrete reaction.

    Answer to question 2
    This question I obviously anticipated.

    You wrote:
    “I would like to take you up on that offer with the promise that I will not publish their names purely on the basis of their donation to you.”

    That means that you allow yourself the space to publish names of people of whom you get knowledge via me. That is problematic, as I promised these people anonymity. A number of these people are fearful for negative consequences on their professional careers, should their names by publicly linked to a “Kremlin Troll”.

    Follow-up question on your follow-up question, that I anticipate:
    – Can you prove that these four were the only donations?

    Regarding only these four payments, there is still space for the suggestion that I had received other donations that I failed to mention.

    I wrote: “Amounts and names of donators on request [regarding].

    My solution: a journalist who, under all circumstances guarantees the anonymity of my donators, and is trusted 100% by both of us, gets login details and free access to all my telebanking and credit card accounts. Both of us guarantee the anonymity of this journalist. The journalist checks:

    – Do the amounts, identities of donators and [national] origin of donators of the four payments stand, as given by Max?

    – Is Max hiding other donations?

    The journalist reports the findings to you. I am yet to contact the person whom I have in mind. I shall do that once I have your permission for the procedure.

    In the mean time, I do look forward to the article in which you investigate different theories regarding the MH17 tragedy and see who takes which positions in the Netherlands.

    Friendly greetings,
    Max

    12:54 Email

    Hello Max,

    An investigation into all the payments that you have received is not truly needed. I had the impression that you were offering to make the donators available to me, and would thus be interested. In the planned process that you are now suggesting, I do not receive the names, if I understand correctly.

    And regarding your cooperation with Plotnikova; I would like to know how you intend to cooperate further. Indications of dubious cooperation I do not have, thus I have no concrete questions to ask.

    Greetings,

    Wilmer

    10:15 Email

    Hello Wilmer,
    Thus I shall receive an email of an investigative journalist in which you are also addressed. Two questions are to be answered in [that email]:

    – Do amounts, identities and nationalities of donators of four amounts given by Max correspond?
    Answer: yes.

    – Is Max hiding other donations?
    Answer: No.

    Were you to have doubts about the knowledgeability and/or integrity of the investigating journalist who is to send this email, I would be keen to hear about it.

    You write that you are absolutely not an MH17 specialist, and “we bring different theories regarding the MH17 tragedy under investigation and check who takes which positions in the Netherlands.”

    – Who is the NRC’s MH17 specialist?
    – Please send me that person’s email address.

    Friendly greetings,
    Max

    10:34 Email

    Hello Max,

    Our MH17 specialist is Karel Knip: k.knip@nrc.nl.

    • Jeremn says:

      Thanks for this, very interesting. Max’s visit to the Donbas threw up some interesting questions, such as how a BUK launcher on the back of a Volvo trailer could pass under a low bridge on the road allegedly used to spirit the launcher out of Ykraine (sorry, Ukraine) and into Russia. It could not, the bridge was too low.

      I suppose the journalist wants to prove that Max is getting money from Russians, and thus, in the eyes of the journalist, can be discredited. Getting money from Soros, on the other hand — no problem.

      The Dutch have a beam in their eye here as their ministry of foreign affairs has been handing out cash in Ukraine for all kinds of initiatives, ie “Certain projects, such as a number in the Ukraine, are specifically tied to furthering European Union agreements”.

      https://www.cima.ned.org/donor-profiles/ministry-foreign-affairs-netherlands/

      • marknesop says:

        Perhaps Poland will provide an instructive example of what can happen when the union precipitately takes in a new member, in the case of Ukraine for political and strategic reasons. The EU now does not know what to do with Poland, as it insists it has a perfect right to do everything it is doing in accordance with the Constitution, and is reduced to threatening to cut off its money supply. As I’ve suggested before, it will serve the EU right if it does accept Ukraine for membership, minus Crimea. It would exult over having pushed the alliances borders right up to Russia, but it would take 10-20 years of continuously pouring money into Ukraine plus rigorous attention and enforcement to break the back of its oligarchy and get anything like the government it wants in place. And at the end of that, supposing it had been successful at preventing the Nord Stream II pipeline from going ahead, it would still be buying gas from Russia, except now it would own Ukraine’s whistling pipeline system and Russia would not be paying transit fees. But as Brexit demonstrates, Brussels has never been a long-game thinker.

        In this instance it is fairly clear the journalist thought he was on to a hot lead, and could prove that Max was paid by Russia to go to Donbas. But although that was denied, the fact that the insinuation was made is apparently enough.

  29. saskydisc says:

    Mark, I have posted my translation of the correspondence between van der Werff and Heck of the NRC. As it contains several hyperlinks, it has again been put in moderation, though as it is long, you may wish to send it to e.g. research, as it is does occupy a number of screens full, thus sucking oxygen from the thread.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s a good idea; I’ll leave it here for now, and then transfer all three posts to Research Papers. Strictly speaking they are not, but I think that site might accommodate translations as well.

  30. saskydisc says:

    I am curious regarding the alleged hyper-dishonesty of the MOD presentation regarding the US allowing ISIS troops free reign. Does anyone have a link to a transcript of their presentation? I would like to know how they referred to the various videos in the presentation.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I continue to be curious about that as well. I can’t imagine why they would do such a thing – anybody would know such a deception would be exposed at once. In fact, it now serves American purposes perfectly; nobody remembers now that the US government openly and admittedly supported Islamic fundamentalists on the USA’s terrorist list, and all everyone wants to talk about is how the lying Russians tried to cast aspersions on the nice Americans and how they tried to help the Syrians. I personally think the least likely explanation is that the MOD cooked it up in an attempt to frame the USA – it was too clumsy, and was exposed immediately. If they were going to stitch up America, they could have come up with better fakes than that. I wonder if somebody sent the MOD the photos? If so, they were criminally stupid not to check them out. But that’s not very likely, either, just possible.

      • Cortes says:

        The likelihood increases with incompetence and seniority.

        How we all chuckled after two years of being made to sign acknowledging having read memos every month warning of Nigerian scamsters and their dodgy invoices to see a shy little note to the accounts relative to a payment of over £250k authorised by the signatory of said memos. A brief funny handshake and onwards and upwards for the star.

      • Matt says:

        It has nothing to do with the “final word”. When someone makes a false statement, and you correct them, and this correction get deleted, then of course I will come back and re-post it. If Mark just stopped deleting my posts over and over again, I would rarely post.

        In other words, the final word (no pun intended) is being constantly deleted. So, I never really get the final word.

        • marknesop says:

          All right, Matt. I’m tired of arguing about it. Yes, apparently all the photos in the brief were fake, and yes, you apparently did say that and yes, I did delete your posts without reading them as I do pretty much all your material, because it is impossible to debate with you. It’s true you will acknowledge when you are wrong, but only after literally hours of argument and when you have no further option left, and it just isn’t worth it. Yes, I did review the video and yes, it is apparently an actual screen capture of Maria Zakharova, and although I do not see any yellow teeth, it is not a very flattering photo. I daresay you can find the same of Nikki Haley if you are patient enough to advance frame by frame and select the worst. I still don’t think it is representative of how she really looks, but it is apparent you think this is a major vulnerability and are going to hammer on it until the end of time. So enjoy your victory. I will just point out in closing that your techniques serve to distract from other issues, so that the question of whether or not the Zakharova picture is/was retouched becomes of disproportionate importance, and by proving I was wrong about that you have made a case that I am wrong about everything. That’s actually pretty common. And you are free to believe that if you wish.

          On the bright side, you finally got the final word.

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    Пётр Павленский разочарован во французской фемиде

    А вы знаете, что Петр Павленский во французском СИЗО уже десять дней как голодает? Нет? Вот и я не знал. И ни один российский правозащитник почему-то не бьет в набат, во всяком случае, громко, как обычно. На весь мир.

    Pyotr Pavlensky disappointed in the French Themis
    Do you know that Pyotr Pavlensky has been starving in a French pre-trial detention centre for ten days? No? Neither did I. And for some reason or other, no Russian human rights activist has been sounding the alarm as usual — not loudly, at any rate — all over the world….

    Themis — Θέμις: the Greek Goddess of Justice, usually depicted as blindfolded.

    On the Old Bailey in London she isn’t, though:

    Figures!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Today is the tenth day of dry hunger strike. I never thought I would ever be in such a situation, but holding a trial behind closed doors is unacceptable to me because these courts can make a decision on the deprivation of my liberty. For most people, this is a fateful decision. In my life there have been about fifty trials, but none of them have been behind closed doors. Even my assessment by a psychiatrist was behind closed doors, so here the situation is fucking weird. I sense an evil presence, and you know that one must fight against this … </b"

      I've got news for you, old cock: it's all downhill after week three. Almost 2 gone and only one more to go.

      If I were you, I'd ask Tolokonnikova forsome advice: she's done what you are doing a few times already, she says ….

      A letter from Pyotr Pavlensky to friend, asking to publicize the situation he finds himself in.

      There is one piece of good news in it: the bank has not sued him for damages.

      On Gelman (sometimes spelt Guelman) — Wiki.

      Russian collector, gallerist, and an op-ed columnist. The former Director of PERMM contemporary art museum in Perm. The Deputy Director of Channel One (Russia) from June 2002 to February 2004. A political consultant, a co-founder of the Foundation for Effective Politics, and a member of Russia’s Public Chamber (2010-2012 convocation).

      Guelman has lived in Montenegro since 2014.

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    More declassified documents from the Evil Regime about the liberation of Poland from the Nazis.

    В тематической подборке архивных документов ЦАМО представлены сведения об оказании материальной помощи Советским Союзом Польше в 1944-1945 годах.

    Information presented in a thematic compilation of archival documents from the TsAMO [Central Archives of the Ministry of Defence] about the provision of material assistance to Poland by the Soviet Union in 1944-1945

    Members of the Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party have claimed that Warsaw had the right to demand reparation payments not only from Berlin but also from Moscow, on the grounds of the 1921 Treaty of Riga, which ended the Russo-Polish war of 1919-1920 and set a mutual border.

  33. Moscow Exile says:

    If deceit and denial were an Olympic sport, Russian officials would surely be contenders for the gold …

    … If anyone deserves the gold this week, it’s the Defense Ministry for its act titled: “Tweeting Screenshots of War Video Game Footage to Use as Irrefutable Evidence of the U.S.’ Collaboration With Islamic State’” — Moscow Times.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      US Gold Medalist in this event:

      US Silver medalist:

      Note that the recent actions perpetrated by the Russian MoD are classified as “deceit and denial”.

      Powell, however, was simply “misled” and Clinton “misspoke” when claiming that snipers had shot at her in Belgrade.

      Russians, however, are inveterate liars.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, you see, it is this sort of derailment which makes me suspect it was both deliberate and planted. The USA will skate out of this just as if it had never supported Islamic fundamentalist activists in Syria at all, although this is a matter of public record and the USA has admitted to it, including the al-Nusra Front. Everyone is too excited by this latest revelation to remember that. But when Ukraine showed the Senate Armed Services Committee photos of Russian tanks entering Ukraine which were actually photos of Russian tanks entering Georgia, it was barely acknowledged and quickly forgotten, because that was a ‘mistake’. Ukraine said it didn’t know how those photos had gotten in there, somebody must have mixed them in by accident, and the USA said there, there; we understand.

  34. et Al says:

    The Register: Kaspersky: Clumsy NSA leak snoop’s PC was packed with malware
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/16/kaspersky_nsa_staffers_pc_was_riddled_with_malware_from_pirated_code/

    Kaspersky Lab, the US government’s least favorite computer security outfit, has published its full technical report into claims Russian intelligence used its antivirus tools to steal NSA secrets.

    Last month, anonymous sources alleged that in 2015, an NSA engineer took home a big bunch of the agency’s cyber-weapons to work on them on his home Windows PC, which was running the Russian biz’s antimalware software – kind of a compliment when you think about it. The classified exploit code and associated documents on the personal system were then slurped by Kremlin spies via his copy of Kaspersky antivirus, it was claimed….
    ####

    Plenty more at the link.

  35. Northern Star says:

    https://www.rt.com/news/410073-nationalist-march-warsaw-media/
    I am surprised that there wasn’t more commentary about this from the Stooge community!

    Under this vicious MF’n POS:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Greiser#cite_note-FOOTNOTERees1997142-6
    Poland was renamed::
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichsgau_Wartheland#Invasion_and_occupation_of_Poland
    And as many non jewish poles were murdered by the nazis as polish jews:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crimes_in_occupied_Poland_during_World_War_II#German_pacifications_of_Polish_settlements

    The Nazis considered the Poles as untermensch fit only to work as slaves if not outright mass murdered.

    So how contemporary Poles can align themselves with neo nazis and those who promote the notion(s) of aryan/nordic racial superiority is somewhat baffling.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Because racially superior Aryans and Nazis hate Slavs, specifically Mongoloid-Slav Russian Üntermenschen — and before you can say Poles are Slavs, they usually abhor the idea of being categorized thus for they are civilized Westerners and Roman Catholics.

      By the way, a couple of days ago, that cockpit that calls itself the Supreme Rada in Kiev passed law making the “Catholic” Christmas, namely 25th December, a public holiday.

      They are civilized Europeans, see, in the the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

      Alle zusammen!

      Eins, zwei, drei …

      Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
      Alles schläft; einsam wacht
      Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
      Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar,
      Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
      Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!

    • Jen says:

      One answer is that most people who join neo-Nazi groups are ignorant of their country’s history or origins. Lack of knowledge of your own past must be a prerequisite for becoming a neo-Nazi so your mind can be filled full of whatever BS the leaders of the group you join want you to believe.

      Incidentally a lot of Germans (like Angela Merkel) have Polish ancestry. Even the 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche considered himself Polish; his sister Elizabeth (who supported Adolf Hitler in her twilight years) wouldn’t have agreed. On top of that, much of the aristocratic Prussian Juncker class had Slav origins.

      Also the fact that a lot of those 60,000 who were marching came from Slovakia, Hungary and other nearby countries suggests there must have been some foreknowledge of the rally among the governments in this part of Europe and even in Germany. Security agencies must have been monitoring the movements of individuals and groups who flocked to this rally. So why didn’t they make any arrests? Did they allow or even encourage other European far right groups and individuals to come into Poland and attend this march (which took place on 11 November as it turns out: that’s Remembrance day) as a way of discrediting the current Polish government and making it look more extremist than it is?

      • Ryan Ward says:

        Why would people going to that march be arrested? It’s not illegal to go to a march…

        • marknesop says:

          Not as long as the event had permission to proceed, and there were no other restrictions; some countries (Canada included) specify that you may not wear a mask or cover your face while taking part in a demonstration. But it’s quite true that espousing neo-Nazi values is not generally a crime.

        • Jen says:

          OK I take back the statement about security not making arrests – the march was to celebrate Polish independence and would have been organised with the appropriate authorities in advance.

          However in some European countries where these far right groups originated, there are laws against Holocaust denial and some of these groups (though not all) or their members may have participated in the past in activities that come close to denying the Holocaust or suggesting the mass murders were much less than they were. So at the very least the groups or individuals known to have a history of denying the Holocaust or working with those who do should have been monitored.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial#Hungary

          • Patient Observer says:

            What surprised me the most is the relatively recent adoption of such laws – 1980’s, 90’s and later according to the linked article.

            I never did comprehend why challenging the offical facts about the Jewish holocaust would be criminalized to the extent an individual could face imprisonment yet other historical events of similar magnitude were not granted a similar protected status.

            This fact reminded me of a relatively famous Jew who challenged the use of the Holocaust to justify blanket support of Israel and Jewish extremism, calling the effort “Holocaust, Inc”.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Such laws have been carved in stone in German federal law as a result of the occupying allied forces’ post-war denazification programme.

              In the German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code), § 86a outlaws it is stated that “the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations” outside the contexts of “art or science, research or teaching” are prohibited. This law concerns Nazi symbolism in particular. If you give a Nazi salute, say “Sieg heil“, “Heil Hitler” etc. in Germany, you could be in big trouble.

              When in the early ’60s there was noticed a revival of anti-Semitism in the BRD (the good times were then beginning to roll because of the German “Economic Miracle”, so I guess some Germans were beginning to feel cocky again in the light of their apparently superior technical and intellectual skills, notwithstanding their total military defeat and unconditional surrender of 1945), laws were passed that made the outright denial and even the trivialization of the Holocaust in public a federal crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

              Germany in the ’60s was, and still is occupied by the allies: the Western allies, that is — the Russians buggered of in the early ’90s.

              There is no German constitution, by the way, only the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) of 1949, formulated by the occupying allies.

              The German word for “constitution” — Verfassung — is not used because the victorious drafters of the “constitution” regarded the Grundgesetz as an interim arrangement for a provisional West German state; a Verfassung, they said, could only be “freely adopted by the German people” in a re-united Germany.

              However, the now reunited since 1990 Germany still has no Verfassung. and none seems to be in the offing either, because Germany is still occupied.

              Anyway, Germany is still not really “reunited”, because huge chunks of ante-bellum Germany are now Polish territories.

              Furthermore, they ain’t never gonna get Königsberg back, because it is now Kalingrad in the Kalingrad Province of the Russian Federation.

  36. Moscow Exile says:

    Margarita Simonyan defends RT on Russian TV programme

    ТВЦ programme “The Right To Know”, shown in 2 videos with English subtitles and transcriptions.

    ТВЦ [TVTs —TV Tsentr (TV Centre)] — full name: “TV company ‘TV Centre’ Joint Stock Company” — a Russian Federal TV channel. Formerly called TVTs. Mostly belongs to the Government of Moscow (represented by Moscow City Property Department). Since October 29, 2012, the channel General Director has been Yulia Bystritskaya. The channel began broadcasting on June 9, 1997, and can be received throughout the whole territory of Russia. The channel has about 95 million viewers. In Moscow, the channel has on average viewer rating of 5.3 % (6th place) and in Russia a rating of 3.1 % (7th place). The average viewer rating of the channel is 0.57 %. The channel has a staff of 2,061 persons and broadcasts from Moscow.

    Most of TV Centre air-time is devoted to coverage of the political, social and cultural life of Moscow. According to an agreement with the Moscow government and the terms of licensing, the most important goal of the channel is information in support of Moscow city government programmesru.wikipediai

  37. Northern Star says:

    OK…Here’s my ‘feel good’ item for the upcoming weekend:

    https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/woman-born-severe-facial-deformity-happy-ending-220738052.html

    The person who really deserves a gold medal is….her Mom!!!

  38. Northern Star says:

    Oh..so now it’s *multiple* people…LOL!!!

    Well at least your MILF fantasy came true..literally..

    enjoy…LOL!!

  39. Northern Star says:

    Hmmm…maybe what I was about to suggest as a way of expunging the blog of “it” has already been put in place!

    :O)

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    Russian MoD appoints 26yo spokeswoman – and she’s already a social media sensation (PHOTOS)

    Her name is Rossiyana Markovskaya and she was appointed personal spokeswoman for Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu on Friday. She’s a former correspondent and news anchor on local TV networks.

    Rossiyana has already earned the nickname “Defence cutie” ( “Oboronyasha” in Russian).

    Another lying “old hag” in the offing?

    • marknesop says:

      She looks a little like the young Angelina Jolie in the latter photo. She’s nice-looking, but it remains to be seen what kind of media personality she will be. There is no shortage of attractive airheads already, and she will have a handicap to overcome already as there will be many suggestions she was hired for her looks.

  41. Matt says:

    Mark, I received a reply from you via RSS, but your post did not appear here, possibly because the parent comment of mine was deleted.

    Here is the comment:

    —————-

    All right, Matt. I’m tired of arguing about it. Yes, apparently all the photos in the brief were fake, and yes, you apparently did say that and yes, I did delete your posts without reading them as I do pretty much all your material, because it is impossible to debate with you. It’s true you will acknowledge when you are wrong, but only after literally hours of argument and when you have no further option left, and it just isn’t worth it. Yes, I did review the video and yes, it is apparently an actual screen capture of Maria Zakharova, and although I do not see any yellow teeth, it is not a very flattering photo. I daresay you can find the same of Nikki Haley if you are patient enough to advance frame by frame and select the worst. I still don’t think it is representative of how she really looks, but it is apparent you think this is a major vulnerability and are going to hammer on it until the end of time. So enjoy your victory. I will just point out in closing that your techniques serve to distract from other issues, so that the question of whether or not the Zakharova picture is/was retouched becomes of disproportionate importance, and by proving I was wrong about that you have made a case that I am wrong about everything. That’s actually pretty common. And you are free to believe that if you wish.

    On the bright side, you finally got the final word.

    —————————

    I’d like to clarify a few things about why I posted this photo, because I certainly didn’t spend hours going through the video frame-by-frame. I follow Julis Davis on Twitter, who watches Russian state TV talk shows and posts a few tweets with the most important commentary. Each time Julia posts a tweet with a quote from the show, she also posts a screenshot of the person who said it, taken from the YouTube video of the show. That post of mine where I linked the infamous image was based off of Julia Davis’ tweet, and the photo was also taken from her tweet too. Of course, after I made a single comment about her looks, as many others here do about Western female politicians/diplomats, I was attacked, and it was speculated that the photo was modified by me, which I sought to correct. Otherwise, I could care less about the picture.

    I find it strange that you would accuse me of waiting hours to admit I was wrong, after it took you multiple days to admit the same about the photos of Zakharova and multiple hours for those released by the MoD.

    And no, I did not “[make[ a case that [you] [are] wrong about everything.”

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks; I was just looking for it and although it still shows in my comment queue, clicking on the time it was posted does not take you straight to it as it normally would.

      I apologize for taking days to admit I was wrong – I just didn’t think it was so important.

      I should not have been able to reply to a deleted comment. The only possible explanation I can think of is that when you press the ‘back’ button, comments you just deleted will reappear, although their status is still deleted.

  42. Cortes says:

    Will the RF devalue the Winter Olympics by boycotting?

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/nov/16/russia-boycott-winter-olympics-step-closer-after-wada-ruling

    Tasty TV deals for hockey coverage, anyone?

  43. marknesop says:

    Oh, my; Ukraine’s National Anticorruption bureau (NABU) has opened a criminal investigation…against Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General, Yuriy Lutsenko. Nervy, to say the very least. More surprising yet is the suggestion that the case was opened at the prodding by written request of Renat Kuzmin, former Deputy Prosecutor-General under Yanukovych. I’d be interested to know what he gave the agency to make them open the investigation, considering everybody from the Yanukovych administration who is still in Ukraine (Kuzmin is not) is concentrated on keeping their heads down.

    You all remember Lutsenko – he’s the guy the Rada had to pass a new law for so he could take up his present post. A law which repealed the requirement that the Prosecutor-General have a legal background. Lutsenko has none.

  44. davidt says:

    In the discussion of the Saker’s recent article at the Unz Review a commenter “FB” took exception to an earlier claim that “Of course US eventually pulled far ahead of SU with the Moon landing, Space Shuttle, etc…” FB’s response of 2300 words is a useful summary of the different approaches and technologies that the Soviets/Russians and the Americans used in their respective space programs. If you are interested in this sort of thing, or if you need some reassurance that there are some excellent engineers in Russia then this is probably a good short reference and read.
    http://www.unz.com/tsaker/war-with-russia-two-great-american-myths/#comment-2077901

    • Patient Observer says:

      Many posts ago, there was a discussion regarding the moon race in which a linked video went into great detail regarding why the SU lost. IIRC, the main factors were:
      – not devoting enough resources (only a tiny fraction of the US effort)
      – infighting among the various designers as well as the untimely death of the chief design
      – a commitment to an overly complex design
      – lack of high level political support
      – using rocket engine technology that was very difficult to master (closed-cycle)
      SU engineering, according to the video, was never an issue. In fact, the engines developed then (NK-33) are still state-of-the-art today.

  45. marknesop says:

    The United States is edging ever closer to providing Ukraine with ‘lethal defensive weapons’ (which of course Ukraine will use only to defend itself in case of attack, rather than using them to attack the east), and the State Department seems to believe it is a done deal, except for planning how it will be pitched to the public. Expect a whole lotta freedom-and-democracy shakin’ goin’ on. The money the USA fronts ($47 Million, down from previous estimates) will – unsurprisingly – be used to purchase (sell-finance, the article calls it, which always makes me laugh; we’re going to sell the weapons to Ukraine, but give them the money to buy them) the Javelin missile, which Ukrainian armchair warriors have convinced everyone will be a ‘game-changer’.

    So expect another military push against the DNR/LPR. You know as well as I do that Ukraine doesn’t need new weapons to protect itself from ‘Russian aggression’, because the east has never attempted to seize more territory in any kind of aggressive posture – instead, its military efforts are dedicated to preventing the Ukrainian army from overrunning them. Besides, Ukraine is a net weapons exporter, and its failures thus far cannot be put down to not having enough weapons. But its Kiev tacticians have convinced themselves the Javelin is some kind of magic bullet, and have placed ‘Hero of Ukraine’ General Mykhailo Zabrodskiy in charge of the military operation to recover the Donbas.

    The Javelin is an IR missile, and its acquisition signal is passive and therefore undetectable. You can’t know you’re being targeted. But it has a maximum effective range (meaning that’s as far as it will fly, which does not necessarily mean that’s how far it can be fired accurately) of 2km. Also, it requires direct line-of-sight for acquisition, so the operator must expose himself long enough to get the shot away. With a tank’s low profile, that likely means a lot closer than MER. You can select it to attack from the top (where a tank’s armor is typically quite thin) or from the side in a direct attack, but if you choose to attack from the top the gunner must think in 3 dimensions. The target must also be clear from overhead, so the descending missile does not smack a light pole or some wires.

    It will naturally be susceptible to IR countermeasures, which usually consist of something that makes a much bigger heat signature than a tank, like a paraflare or other IR decoy. It needs to be close to the same micron band as a tank engine, though, because most IR systems have discriminators which will reject a target which is too obviously a decoy. Also, the system is heavy, about 50 pounds, so it’s not easy to hump it around the country. And the BCU, the Battery Coolant Unit which provides the power to the missile electronics before launch, has a battery life of only four minutes. Once you initiate it – you can’t turn it off – you have four minutes to take the shot. After that the BCU will be dead and you have to discard it and use another.

    I don’t suppose it will be long before the rebels capture one. Although that’s not really very important, as Russia already has a pretty good anti-tank missile. But the DNR/LPR should focus their efforts on IR countermeasures and tactics. Fancy weapons never beat good tactics. And keep in mind that if a Javelin is shot at you, the person who fired it is less than 2km away.

    • Patient Observer says:

      The Javelin’s greatest impact will likely be a psychological lift to Kiev. It also creates a precedent that opens the door for more serious weapons supply. And, with “advanced” weapons comes the need for “trainers” and “advisers”.

      The TOW missile was to turn the battle in Syria but did nothing of the sort but did show its ineffectiveness against modern Russian tanks. Stingers were provided as well but had no real impact on the outcome.

      • kirill says:

        Americans are mentally deficient when it comes to magic of supplying weapons that “will turn the course of the war”. They may as well be giving their “advanced” (LOL) Javelins and TOWs to a collection of chimps. Anyone who has been paying attention (obviously not US politicians) would know that Kiev’s failure is not due to a lack of weapons.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        What will they do with their Javelins if the Russian army that is occupying part of the Lugansk and Donetsk provinces as well as the whole of the Crimea peninsula does not launch a massive armoured attack against them?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          What if in the break-away regions of 2 of the eastern Ukrainian provinces there are no Russian army armoured divisions manned by Buryats?

          Sorry — stupid question.

        • marknesop says:

          I’m glad you asked. Launch an armored penetration of their own, and use their Javelins to prevent any opposition. Once they’re through the line and in the rear of the militias, any army that is not completely stupid could roll them up fairly easily. Their lack of success so far has been due to their inability to break the line except for small salients, which have been quickly closed by reinforcements. The Javelin can also be used against buildings and other soft targets, although the manufacturer is clear it is not useful for knocking down walls as the warhead is a shaped charge designed to explode after penetration. Just the night sight alone is useful for surveillance even if you do not intend to fire a missile.

  46. Moscow Exile says:

    Right Sector doesn’t like Raikin:

    At Konstantin Raikin’s “Over the shed the sky…”, which was to be performed at the Odessa V. Vasilko Academic Musical-Drama Theatre on the evening of 17 November.

    In Odessa Ukrainian nationalists, headed by, Sergey Sternenko, the former head of the Odessa branch of “Right Sector”, disrupted a solo performance of the Russian actor Konstantin Raikin. They burst into the auditorium at the beginning of the show and began loudly chanting: “Glory to the Ukraine!” and angrily asked the audience: “Whose is the Crimea?” and called them “enemies”.

    The goons then climbed onto the stage and Raikin immediately buggered off.

    There then began an altercation between the audience and the Right Sector intellectuals, who chanted “Glory to the Ukraine!” (without “the”, because there ain’t a “the” in the Ukrainian tongue) and asked the disgruntled audience: “Whose is the the Crimea?” (Again, no “the” for the same reason as given in parentheses above.).

    In response, the audience replied that they had bought tickets for the show and that Raikin was a “wonderful artist” and, therefore, they were not going anywhere.

    However, seeing that no one was about to intervene in the situation, the cops seemingly unwilling to do anything about this breach of public order, the audience began to leave.

    The dispute continued in the theatre foyer, where there were raised voices and exchanges of insults.

    Source: На Украине Райкину досталось за Крым

    • marknesop says:

      The nationalists are a minority, and while they might be violent, they are no match for a crowd if the people only realized it. This is the very essence of revolution, when the many rise up against the few who are constantly interfering in their lives with their own ideology, which does not have broad acceptance. It would only take once for the nationalists to have the bejesus beaten out of them, and their reign of terror would be at an end.

      In a perfect world, anyway. In this case, Poroshenko would just send a few ‘friendship trains’ loaded with goons to discipline the locals. Never mind that, though; at last Ukraine is free, to be itself!!

      • Ryan Ward says:

        There may be a silver lining here. As an analogy, it’s useful to look at the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As long as they could pose as a persecuted minority fighting against the “evil regime”, they attracted really significant public support. But a short time in government was enough for the majority of Egyptians to decide they had had enough of them. In the aftermath, support for the Brotherhood has remained low, but also support for political Islamism in general has dropped notably. We may see the same thing with the Ukrainian nationalists. They can’t pose as heroic resisters anymore, and I think a lot of Ukrainians are starting to get tired of their antics. A situation of relative power is giving the nationalists the chance to show that they’re really just thugs with no positive program to offer.

        • marknesop says:

          That’s the optimistic view, but I’ll take it. The fly in the ointment there, though, is that Ukraine is allowed to get away with running government ‘snitch sites’ like Peacemaker, which encourage neighbours to report suspicious behavior which might indicate ‘separatist leanings’, and consequently people are afraid to speak up. Nationalist bullying will continue if there is not sufficient opposition to it.

  47. saskydisc says:

    Some more developments from Max van der Werff:
    The hit piece that vd Werff referred to was to be on those attacking the party line on MH17, and was to be separate from the hit piece on Omtzigt. That had not been apparent to me before, but in his latest, it appears that Wilmer Heck is rather annoyed that his gambit has been undermined. I won’t translate the bulk, as he largely quotes from the correspondence that I already translated, but he does add a few juicy details:

    NRC: ‘Olet non Olet’ [Stench does not stink]
    Posted on November 18, 2017

    The people of Lux et Libertas[Light and Liberty, NRC’s motto] ‘Olet non Olet’ [Stench does not stink] went too far this time. It has gotten personal.

    The quality newspaper NATO-messenger explained already in January why Russian interference should become a major theme. In the past week, the the prejudicial* campaign reached a new low with the Putinization of Pieter Omtzigt.
    * Max van der Werff uses the legal term “voorlichting,” which is a legal term for a largely negative character reference, that is provided to a judge, e.g. for deciding which sentence to give the convicted.

    Truly a well-executed sample of journalist orchestrated internal Psyops[Google search in original], to make a man who supports NATO, opposes the reunification of Crimea with Russia, argues for a Dutch Magnitsky act, into a fraud who suborns fake MH17 witnesses with fraudulent instructions to advance Putin.

    Omtzigt’s involvement in far-right circles is notable [sarcasm]. [NRC columnist] Frits Abrahams said with Hot Tears [sarcastic capitalization] of Omtzigt:

    “In America they struggle with a 70-year old fundementalist Christian Republican, Roy Moore, who seeks to become a senator, but for whom [sexually] assaulting teenage girls is more important yet. In the Netherlands we have, also Christian, Cabinet minister [of the CDA], Pieter Omtzigt, who uses fraudulent witnesses in regards the MH17 tragedy.”

    Even an irrelevant little blogger comes into the cross-hairs [heading—van der Werff is referring to himself]

    [Quotes from correspondence previously translated]

    Before the hit piece appeared, I had made the complete correspondence with Heck open source. The NRC journalist rat in sheep clothing, Wilmer Heck, found that unacceptable, and proceeded to give me a lesson in ethics.

    Light and Freedom

    The responsibility of journalists is to set questions and seek answers. Followers of the official line do not do that. Also the Dutch presstitutes [google search in original, original in Dutch] fail, and are not a hair better than their American or Russian colleagues.

    With fully 3000 hours of research, two visits to the crash site, multiple interviews in which coworkers of the official investigation expressed much interest in the data that I had collected, an article in which I explain my theory regarding MH17 is a reasonable idea. Those who are honestly interrested in what I have to say about MH17, can read it here [on the blog] for example. Warning, [the reading] is expensive [i.e. in terms of effort and beliefs crashed] with many questions and few answers.

    Fake news with the big boys

    Der Spiegel and NRC were eager to mention: “Investigative journalists: Russia manipulates images of MH17

    Der spiegel saw itself being required to withdraw the article a few days later, and described their investigative method as “the reading of tea leaves“. Kremlintroll.nl did not yet exist, but on my[vd Werff] blog at the time, I placed, three days prior to the rectification [Der Spiegel’s withdrawal], an article by Charles Wood, that wiped the floor with the OSINT investigation collective.

    Journalism is a “locked stronghold”

    Freedom of expression, democracy and rule of law are no guarantees for honest reporting. Who controls the controller? I make sure to be careful/honest. Algemeen Dagblad works with the German Correct!v. Colleague citizen journalist Marcel van den Berg filleted the fraudulent reporting.

    [Tweet by van der Werff]
    Blocked by BellingCat and Corrective and insulted for asking clarification.

    [Quote of Tweet by David Schraven, followed by response from Higgins]
    David Schraven to Max van der Werff: No. You just suck.
    Eliot Higgins: And how!
    [End Quote]
    [End Tweet by van der Werff]

    Without naming names, a number of journalists have been informed by me of fraudulent reporting. They are too cowardly or too powerless to put a stop to this state of affairs. Algemeen Dagblad main editor Nijenhuis is not interested in finding the truth either. The seriousness of the situation is apparent from the fact that the producer of fake news has been tasked with detecting fake news on facebook. [Google search in original; original articles that contain embarrasing information tend to disappear over time…]

    Why did Der Spiegel correct the record, while NRC did not?

    Former NRC Handelsblad political editor and columnist, correspondent in the Soviet Union and Russia, and second main editor, explains:

    [Tweet by Hubert Smeets]
    German image analyst criticises Bellingcat. Regarding the Russian satellite images one cannot say [anything definite]; fake or not also not [clear].
    [end Tweet]

    Even as Dutch amongst one another: Who are we to give the Russians lessons?

  48. Moscow Exile says:

    “Vladimir Putin’s Russia is moving closer to designating international media outlets as ‘foreign agents,’ supposedly in retaliation for the U.S. Department of Justice’s request that RT, which the U.S. intelligence community has called ‘the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,’ to register under the Foreign Agents Restoration Act.

    “As a champion for free speech and free press around the world, the United States must be very clear: there is no equivalence between RT and television networks such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, CNN, or the BBC. The journalists that work for these networks seek the truth, debunk lies, and hold governments accountable. RT’s propagandists debunk the truth, spread lies, and seek to undermine democratic governments in order to further Vladimir Putin’s agenda.

    “Vladimir Putin needs no excuse to crack down on foreign media outlets, just as he needed no excuse to murder countless journalists and political opponents over the last several years. Putin knows that the greatest threat to his dictatorship is the truth and the willingness of true Russian patriots to speak and act upon it.

    “The United States should not shirk defending our democracy by calling RT what it is—a propaganda network—and requiring its U.S. channel to register as a foreign agent. At the same time, together with our allies in the Free World, we should continue to support the right of the Russian people to access media willing to report the truth”STATEMENT BY SASC CHAIRMAN JOHN McCAIN ON RUSSIA MOVING CLOSER TO DESIGNATING INTERNATIONAL MEDIA OUTLETS AS FOREIGN AGENTS

    Заявление Маккейна является почти идеальной иллюстрацией понятия «двойные стандарты».

    McCain’s statement is a nearly perfect illustration of the concept of “double standards.

    • marknesop says:

      Indeed. It speaks to the alarming degradation of mathematics abilities in the United States, as well – even if Vladimir Putin personally murdered every journalist and political opponent who has died for whatever reason in Russia ‘in the past several years’, they would not be ‘countless’ to anyone but a person who can’t count up to, say, 100. McCain has a flair for hyperbole, and it’s all he’s really good at.

      Russia’s foreign agent registration act is in fact closely patterned on its American counterpart, and in many sections the wording is identical. America is only flattered when you borrow its culture, and give your lives over to hamburgers and Hallowe’en. If you tailor your laws exactly to its own and they are found by America to be repressive, whose fault is that? I wrote fairly extensively on the Russia foreign agent registration law here. Don’t be surprised if some of the links have since disappeared, as Max Van de Werff described. My favourite example of that was a link to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, just after Crimea’s reunification with Russia – the article it led to reported that the process by which it was accomplished was not illegal. That’s gone now, and instead the link takes you to some Oxford site which announces it was definitely a violation of international law.

      Interestingly, the American Foreign Agents Registration Act has never been enforced against the country which most enthusiastically and aggressively seeks American secrets: Israel. In fact, a special amendment was introduced to FARA in 2012 which vested in the US Attorney General the power to grant an exemption in cases where he/she determined it was unnecessary.

      Exceptional.

      • saskydisc says:

        For correctness, I made the observation regarding disappearing references, which is why I put it in square brackets in the translation; where Max makes observations in square brackets, I put them in bold face.

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