The Best Health Care You Can Afford

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

“No, I mean I’m sorry that you’ve inherited such a miserable, collapsing Old Country. A place where rich Bankers own everything, where you’ve got to be grateful for a part-time job with no benefits and no retirement plan, where the most health insurance you can afford is being careful and hoping you don’t get sick…

Cory Doctorow; Homeland

“Until fairly recently, every family had a cornucopia of favorite home remedies–plants and household items that could be prepared to treat minor medical emergencies, or to prevent a common ailment becoming something much more serious. Most households had someone with a little understanding of home cures, and when knowledge fell short, or more serious illness took hold, the family physician or village healer would be called in for a consultation, and a treatment would be agreed upon. In those days we took personal responsibility for our health–we took steps to prevent illness and were more aware of our bodies and of changes in them. And when illness struck, we frequently had the personal means to remedy it. More often than not, the treatment could be found in the garden or the larder. In the middle of the twentieth century we began to change our outlook. The advent of modern medicine, together with its many miracles, also led to a much greater dependency on our physicians and to an increasingly stretched healthcare system. The growth of the pharmaceutical industry has meant that there are indeed “cures” for most symptoms, and we have become accustomed to putting our health in the hands of someone else, and to purchasing products that make us feel good. Somewhere along the line we began to believe that technology was in some way superior to what was natural, and so we willingly gave up control of even minor health problems.”

Karen Sullivan;  The Complete Family Guide to Natural Home Remedies: Safe and Effective Treatments for Common Ailments  

No, I haven’t abandoned Uncle Volodya, or shifted my focus to American administration; what follows is a guest post on the American healthcare system, by our friend UCG. As I’ve mentioned before – on the occasion of his previous guest post, in fact – he is an ethnic Russian living in the Golden State.

As an American in America, naturally his immediate concern is going to be healthcare in America; but there are lessons within for everyone. Don’t get me wrong – doctors have done a tremendous amount of good, and medical researchers and many others from the world of medicine have made tremendous advances to which many of us owe their lives. Sadly, though, once a field goes commercial, the main focus of attention eventually becomes profit, and there are few endeavors in which the customer base will be so desperate. While there are obvious benefits to ‘socialized medicine’ such as Canada enjoys and American politicians scorn as ‘Commie’ – enough to earn the admiration of many – it results in such a backlog for major operations that those who don’t like their chances of dying first, and have the money or can somehow get it, often flee to America, where you can get a good standard of medical care without running out of time waiting for it.

Without further ado, take it away, UCG!!

Healthcare in America

This article is my opinion. My hope is that others will do their own research on America’s Healthcare Industry, because this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and for this article to be a mere starting point in this research. The reason for my citations is so that you, the reader, can verify them. Once again, this is my opinion. I write this in the first paragraph, so that I can avoid stating “in my opinion” before every sentence.

Let’s start with Owen Davis who was charged $14,018 for going to a hospital because he sliced his hand, and they fixed it.  A study published by Johns Hopkins showed that for $100 of ER treatment, some hospitals were charging patients up to $1,260.  A redditor claimed that:

I tore my ab wall a month ago and didn’t think much of it until my pain kept worsening. I went to an immediate care facility to rule out a hernia (I had all the symptoms) and they told me to get to ER ASAP. I go to the ER and they give me a CT scan and one x-ray and say it’s not a hernia and let me go. Fast forward to today and I got a bill for $9,200 and $3,900 of it is out of pocket. $9,200 for two tests???? No pain meds were administered; it was literally those two tests. What should I do to contest it? I will be calling tomorrow to demand an itemized bill, but is there anything else I should do in the meantime?

All of these took me a few minutes on Google to find, and another few minutes to post. The reason I chose that reddit, is because one of the readers offered an ingenious solution: Next time you hurt yourself – book a return ticket to NZ – go to accident and emergency, say you’re a tourist and you hurt yourself surfing, pay nothing – fly home and pocket $8,000 in spare change.  If that was me, I’d spend at least $2,000 on tourism in New Zealand. You guys have that system, so you clearly deserve the money! Anyone interested in a startup?

But I am not done with examples just yet. Shana Sweney described her experience in the emergency room: I delivered in 15 minutes. During that time, the anesthesiologist put a heart rate monitor on my finger and played on his phone. My bill for his services was $3,000. $200/minute. I talked to the insurance company about it – and since I ran my company’s benefit plans, I got a little further than most people, but ultimately, that was what their contract with the hospital said so that’s what they had to pay. Regardless of if he worked 15 minutes or 3 hours.  Similarly, my twins were born prematurely and ended up in the NICU for 2 weeks. While the NICU was in-network for my insurance, for some mysterious reason, the neonatologists that attended the NICU were out of network. I think that bill was $16k and they stopped by to see each kid for an average of about 30 min/day.

Almost done with the examples, just please bear with me. How would you like a hospital billing you $83,046 for treating a scorpion sting, if a Mexican ER might have treated you for the same type of sting for $200?  Perhaps being charged $546 for six liters of saltwater is more to your liking?  $1,420 for two hours of babysitting?  $55,000 for an appendicitis operation?  $144,000 to deliver a perfectly healthy, albeit quite impatient baby?  According to my interpretation of the sources linked, all of these actually happened. I encourage you to do your own research.

The World’s Biggest Legalized Corruption (IMHO)

$984.157 billion. That’s $984,157,000,000. That is how much money I believe the United States wastes on Healthcare. Not spends; wastes. As in money down the drain. The astute reader figured out that equates to five percent of America’s 2016 GDP. Said reader is absolutely correct. How did I estimate such a gargantuan amount? According to the OECD data, in 2013 the United States spent 16.4 percent of its GDP on Healthcare; the two next biggest spenders, Switzerland and the Netherlands spent 11.1 percent.  Even if one was to give the United States the benefit of doubt, and claim that the United States healthcare is just as efficient as that of Switzerland or the Netherlands – which is most likely not true according to an article from Business Insider,  but even if it was – that meant that the United States wastes 5.3% of its GDP on healthcare. Wastes. I just want to make sure that the amount of this alleged legalized corruption, which will most likely reach a trillion dollars by 2020, is noted.

Let me place those funds into perspective: it’s almost as much as the amount that the rest of the World spends on the military, combined.   The SCO member states, including China, Russia, India, and Pakistan spent roughly $360 billion on the military.  The wasted amount is equivalent to the GDP of Indonesia, and greater than the GDP of Turkey or Switzerland.  In 2016, the US Federal Government spent $362 billion, or 36.8% of the wasted amount, to run all Federal Programs, including the Department of Education and NASA, with the exception of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Veteran’s Affairs, the military, and net interest on the US debt.  All other Federal Programs were covered with the $362 billion. The US Federal Debt stands at $20.4 trillion, meaning that the debt can be paid off in 30 years, merely if the Healthcare Waste is eliminated.

But why stop there? The US Housing Crisis started partly because loans were allowed to be taken out without the 20% down payment. Could this funding, if applied directly to the housing market, stop the 2008 Great Recession? Absolutely, and all the Federal Government had to do was to gear these funds towards down payment on subprime mortgage loans to meet the 20 percent barrier.  I can go on and on about what can be accomplished, like making collegiate attendance free, or at least very inexpensive, or drastically improving the quality of education, paying off the national debt, reinvesting into the economy, reinvigorating the rural sector, and so on, and so forth. A trillion dollars is a lot of money.

Lobbyists, the Media and the Waste

Any guess how much was spent on lobbying by the Healthcare, Insurance, Hospitals, Health Professionals, and HMOs? How about 10.5 billion dollars?  I knew that was your guess! That’s a lot of money, and that does not include “speaking fees”, or when a politician who constantly made calls beneficial to the Healthcare Lobby gets $150,000 to speak in front of an audience after they retire from politics. Obama made a speech in front of Wall Street, netting $400,000.  And by pure coincidence, only one Wall Street Broker was jailed as a result of the scandal.  That $10.5 billion is just a tip of the iceberg, because “speaking fees” are notoriously hard to track, and not included in said amount.

Obama genuinely tried to reform US Healthcare to the Swiss Model. He was going to let Wall Street slide, he was going to let Neocons conduct foreign policy, just please, let him have healthcare! First, the lobbyists laughed in his face. Second, they utilized the Blue Dog Coalition to block Obama’s attempt at Healthcare Reform,  until it was phenomenally nerfed, and we have the disaster that we have today.  As a result, Obama’s Legacy, Obamacare is having major issues, including the rise of racism.

Obamacare helped the poor, (mostly minorities,) at the expense of the middle class, (mostly whites,) thus transferring funding from whites to minorities. While the intent was not racial, it is being called out as racial by the mainstream media.  This probably suits the lobbyists, because if the debate is about racism, one cannot have a genuine discussion about Healthcare Reform.

Racism strikes both ways. Samantha Bee came out with a “fuck you white people” message right after the election.  Jon Stewart, without whom she probably wouldn’t have her own show, pointed out that it was simply economics, like the healthcare insurance premium increase, that brought Donald Trump to power.  Interestingly enough, James Carville made the same argument when Bill Clinton beat George Bush, but when Hillary Clinton lost, Carville was quick to blame Russia. These delusions on the Left are letting the Right mobilize stronger than ever before. And all of this takes away from the Healthcare Debate.

In an attempt to blame Trump’s Election on white racism, rather than basic economics, numerous outlets simply fell flat. For instance, Eric Sasson writes: white men went 63 percent for Trump versus 31 percent for Clinton, and white women went 53-43 percent. Among college-educated whites, only 39 percent of men and 51 percent of women voted for Clinton… What’s more, these people hadn’t suffered under Obama; they’d thrived. The kind of change Trump was espousing wasn’t supposed to connect with this group.

Did this group thrive? The collegiate debt went from $600 billion to $1.4 trillion under Obama’s Administration,  while the health insurance increased from $13,000 to $18,000 per family. This is thriving? Was the author experimenting with medical marijuana when said article was written? Nevertheless, the parade of insanity continued, with Salon assuring us that it was blatant racism that gave us Trump.  The Root, which also claimed that Russians attempted to hack election machines, pointed out that Russia exploited America’s racism, and thus Trump won the election.  Washington Post claimed that racism motivated white people more than authoritarianism.  Comedian Bill Maher tried to sway the discussion back to economics, by pointing out that outrage over Pocahontas or Halloween should not stop the Democrats from working for the working man.  Sadly, Maher and Stewart are in the minority, and instead of a Healthcare Debate, the US is now stuck in a debate over racism, which isn’t even three-fifths as effective. Meanwhile the US continues to waste almost a trillion dollars on healthcare. 

Who Benefits?

Let’s start with the banks. Medical students graduate with an average of $416,216 in student debt.  The average interest rate on said loan is seven percent.  Roughly 20,055 students go through this program, per year.  Presuming a twenty year loan, the banks are looking at about $7.185 billion in interest payments. It really is a small fraction of the cost. Prescription drug prices are another story. In 2014, Medicare spent $112 billion on medicine for the elderly.  Oh la la! Cha-ching. I would not be surprised if at least half of that was wasted on drug price inflation. You know the health insurance companies? It’s a great time to be one, since profits are booming – to the tune of $18 billion in projected revenue for 2017.

Of course the system itself is quite wasteful, with needless hours spent on paperwork, claim verification, contractual review, etc, etc, etc. Humana’s revenue was $54.4 billion,  Aetna’s was $63.2 billion,  Anthem’s was $85 billion,  Cigna’s was $39.7 billion,  and UnitedHealth’s was $184.8 billion.  Those are just the top five companies. None of them ia a mom-and-pop shop or small business store. Do any of these insurers support Obamacare? Even if they do, it is without much enthusiasm.  They are leaving, and leaving quite quickly. Thirty-one percent of American counties will have just one healthcare insurer.  Welcome to a monopoly that is artificially creating itself. And despite the waste, 28.2 million Americans remain uninsured.  Mission accomplished!

Who else benefits? Those who hire illegal immigrants instead of American workers, since illegal immigrants cost the United States roughly $25 billion in Healthcare spending.  Meanwhile those who hire them can avoid certain types of taxes and not have to cover their Healthcare; communism for the rich, capitalism for the rest of us. Of course that is just a rough estimate, since this spending is also quite hard to track.

The Future

The problem with changing Healthcare is that too many people have their hands in the proverbial pie. There is not a single lever of power that isn’t affected by Healthcare, and most of the levers that are affected, benefit quite a bit. Insurance companies will fight to the death, because Universal Healthcare will be their death knell. Banks will defend it, because who doesn’t want to make billions from student loans? Medical schools too – since it lets them charge higher and higher tuition. Pharmaceutical companies can use the increase in Healthcare expenditure to justify their own price hikes, even though a major reason for those price hikes is artificial patent based monopoly.

What is an artificial monopoly? In my opinion, it’s when a patent is utilized to prevent competitors from manufacturing the same exact drug. In less than a decade, the price of Epi-Pen soared from $103.50 to $608.61. When asked the justify said increase, one of the reasons provided by the CEO was that the price went up because we were making investment; as I said, about $1 billion over the last decade that we invested in the product that we could reach physicians and educate legislatures.  “Reaching” doctors and legislators; I wonder, how was said “education funding” spent? According to US News, a website that is extremely credible when it comes to internal decision making within the United States, drug companies have long courted doctors with gifts, from speaking and consulting fees to educational materials to food and drink. But while most doctors do not believe these gifts influence their decisions about which drugs to prescribe, a new study found the gifts actually can make a difference – something patient advocates have voiced concern about in the past.  Do you feel educated? Would you feel more educated if I paid you a $150,000 consulting fee? What about $400,000? What? It’s just consulting; no corruption here!

Everyone knows that this is going on. But there is not going to be change. Why not? The same reason that there was not change with Harvey Weinstein, until Taylor Swift came along. Remember how I said that almost everyone has their hands in the Healthcare Pie? It was not much different with Weinstein. Scott Rosenberg explained why it took so long for people to speak out against Harvey, and the reasons were numerous.  First, Harvey gave many people their start in Hollywood, and treated all of his friends like royalty. That drastically increased their loyalty. Second, he ushered the Golden Age of the 1990s, with movies like Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Clerks, Swingers, Scream, Good Will Hunting, English Patient, Life is Beautiful – the man could make phenomenal movies. Third, even if one was willing to go against his own friends, workers, mass media, and so on, there was no one to tell. There was no place to speak out. Fourth, some of the victims took hefty settlements.

That fourth reason enabled mass media to portray rape victims as gold diggers. Rape Culture is alive and well. In California, a Judge gave minimal sentencing to a convicted rapist, because he was afraid a harsher sentence would damage the rapist’s mental psyche for life.  Uh dude, from one Californian to another, he, uh, raped. His mental psyche is already damaged; for life. That’s the kind of pressure that Rose McGowan had to deal with. She had a little kerfuffle with Amazon, and she thinks it was partially because of Harvey Weinstein.  How many times had the word “socialism” been thrown around to describe Universal Healthcare? Switzerland has it – are they Socialist?

Enter Taylor Swift. In order to destroy allegations that women are filing sexual harassment claims as gold diggers, she sued her alleged sexual assaulter for a buck; one dollar. She won.  Swift stated that the lawsuit was to serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.  On top of that, Weinstein was no longer as popular as he used to be, and an avenue to tell the story, an outlet was created. The additional prevalence of the internet caused the stories of Weinstein’s sexual abuse to leak. Within a month, the giant fell.

Something similar is needed to change Healthcare in America. But until that comes along, racism will increase, the cost of Healthcare will rise, emergency room costs will most likely double every ten years, and the future remains bleak. As if that was not enough, more and more upper class Americans, (like yours truly,) are seeking treatment abroad. It cost me less money to lose five weeks of wages, spend three weeks partying in Eastern Europe, (Prague to be more specific,) after my two weeks of treatment, buy a roundtrip plane ticket, and stay in a five star, all-inclusive hotel, than the cost of the same treatment in the US. If anyone wants to utilize this as a startup – let me know!

Of course its effects on Healthcare will hurt, since it is a huge chunk of business that will be traveling across the Atlantic. But what can be done to stop it? One cannot stop Americans from traveling to other countries. One cannot force the poor to work for free. Perhaps this is the change that is needed to make those who benefit from the Healthcare Waste realize that this cannot continue. Perhaps not. What we do know, is that Obamacare insured the poor, at the expense of the middle class.  And that is regarded as a failure in America.

 

 

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385 Responses to The Best Health Care You Can Afford

  1. Northern Star says:

    “But why stop there? The US Housing Crisis started partly because loans were allowed to be taken out without the 20% down payment.”

    Sorta..But:

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-big-short-movie_us_565c795fe4b072e9d1c27163

  2. Northern Star says:

    As for Obongo Care ??:

    “In trying to show that he was successfully managing the Obamacare rollout, the president last week staged a high-profile White House meeting with private health insurance executives — aka Obamacare’s middlemen. The spectacle of a president begging these middlemen for help was a reminder that Obamacare did not limit the power of the insurance companies as a single-payer system would.
    ****The new law instead cemented the industry’s profit-extracting role in the larger health system — and it still leaves millions without insurance.”*** (THAT is the Achille’s lower torso of the ACA)

    https://www.healthcare-now.org/blog/single-payer-healthcare-vs-obamacare/

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/2/11/1483523/-Single-Payer-Healthcare-vs-The-Affordable-Care-Act-A-Simple-Comparison

  3. Northern Star says:

    “Prince Harry..Do you take this American mulatto negress -aka raghead untermensch-as your lawfully wedded royal wife?*
    http://www.newsweek.com/prince-harrys-worst-moments-meghan-markle-rogue-723177
    https://www.sbs.com.au/guide/sites/sbs.com.au.guide/files/styles/body_image/public/nazi.jpg?itok=q1oxMi44&mtime=1503879842

    Ummm…Advice to Meghan….make sure the honeymoon motorcade stays clear of tunnels in Paris…
    or elsewhere!!!

  4. Northern Star says:

    WW2 Trivia question for Stooges:

    Who..When ..Where??

    Hint: They were good folk who had fought a very hard battle against nazi kraut occupiers of their homeland..

  5. Northern Star says:

    Appurtenant to many of the issues raised in Mark’s post:

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/27/pers-n27.html
    (Socialist or not..the WSWS writers continue to state that which NEEDS to be hammered home)

    “The vast wealth of the financial oligarchy, expressed in their ownership of massive corporations, must be seized and expropriated, while the complex technologies, supply chains, and advanced transportation systems must be integrated in an organized, planned manner to harness the anarchic force of the world economy and eliminate material scarcity.
    Amazon is a prime example. Its supply lines and delivery systems could distribute goods across the world, bringing water, food, and medicine from each producer according to his or her ability, to each consumer according to his or her need.
    The massively sophisticated computational power used by the technology companies to censor and blacklist political opposition could instead be used for logistical analysis to conduct rescue and rebuilding missions in disaster zones like Houston and Puerto Rico. Drones used in the battlefield could be scrapped and rebuilt to distribute supplies for building schools, museums, libraries, and theaters, and for making Internet service available at no cost for the entire world.
    The ruling class and all of the institutions of the political establishment stand inexorably in the way of efforts to expropriate their wealth. What is required is to mobilize the working class in a political struggle against the state and the socio-economic system on which it is based, through the fight for socialism.
    Eric London ”

    Particularly for American Stooges:

    • Patient Observer says:

      Advanced technology is helpful but not essential for a humane and just society. Its what we believe and feel that matters. FWIW, I like socialism on a national/international level and individual accountability on a personal level.

  6. saskydisc says:

    While general medical care is single payer in Canada, dental services are not. For major work on teeth, it is cheaper to fly to Mexico. The downside is for Mexicans—such practices will drive the costs up in Mexico.

  7. Patient Observer says:

    Mark, today’s posting provided is a nice change of pace to a topic of local impact (for me at least). UGC presented a good overview peppered with supporting data.

    In an earlier career incarnation, I worked as a systems analyst involved with development of online systems for state social services. Data showed that our systems were able to administer a comprehensive health care program for social services recipients for about 3-4% of the cost of services. Private medical insurance providers required approximately 20% of the cost of services to provide similar services. Yet, private providers were supposedly driven by invisible market forces to maximum efficiency. BS. In fact, they are driven by greed and they found it much easier to maximize profits by colluding with politicians and health care providers. That is the trouble with free markets – its just so damn easy to cheat and cheaters are never in short supply.

    One more thing, prescription drugs costs may exceed $600 billion in the US by 2021:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-drugspending-quintilesims/u-s-prescription-drug-spending-as-high-as-610-billion-by-2021-report-idUSKBN1800BU

    That would be nearly $2,000 per year for every American!

    If a tiny fraction of that amount were spent on prevention, education, improved diets and other similar initiatives, the population ought to be healthier and richer. But, greed overpowers the public good every time. The US health care system is a criminal enterprise in my opinion. The good that it does is grossly outweighed by greed and exploitation of human suffering.

    • marknesop says:

      I believe the author is also a systems analyst, so you are thinking along similar lines.

    • ucgsblog says:

      I agree with that. Plus, it seems like they have an entire staff dedicated to giving their “customer” the run around. A friend of mine had to deal with several different departments regarding his healthcare bill. The billing office told him that they only deal with billing questions, and that for explanations for the bill, he should call the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office told him to call the hospital, since that’s where the service took place. The hospital told him to call his primary doctor, who sent him there, and his primary doctor referred him back to the specialist, where he was referred back to the billing department, which promptly told him that they’re closing for the day, since he spent 6 hours being transferred from one department to the next.

  8. anon@gmail.com says:

    I find it terribly silly that we should even consider med student’s debt as an excuse. First, American doctors are the best paid professionals in the country. Internists make a median 190 thousand a year, and they are among the worst paid specialties. I cannot possibly see the problem with paying your income for 5 years, knowing that you get access to a caste that will allow you make good money into your eighties.

    Second, the debt is not that high as you claim. Harvard Medical School tuition is 64 thousand. You can rent across the street with 20 thousand a year – I currently live there.

    Third, med students know all this. The reason why they borrow far more is because they know they can afford it. I went to med school somewhere in a developing world. We shared toilets in the dorm. As a matter of fact, most under-30s in Boston live in shared accommodation. The outliers? Med students. Even the lowly Tufts and BU students that I met own cars and live by themselves, mainly in new buildings across the street from their hospitals.

    Every time I go to the doctors, I am thinking how I am going to sue their asses if they make a mistake.

    • ucgsblog says:

      It’s not an excuse. It’s a bill. When you rent an apartment, did you know that most landlords also factor in the property tax when figuring out what your rent payment should be? Similarly, the interest payments on the doctoral students’ loans are passed off to the consumer, and that is yet another reason why Healthcare is so expensive. That’s why I think that medical school should be free for those students who promise to charge their patients no more than x amount of money.

  9. kirill says:

    Interesting article. Looks like the rot in the US is terminal. But Canada and its “socialized” medicine is not far behind. Operating an emergency ward with only one doctor doing the rounds at the rest of the hospital during the night is absurd. But that is what major Canadian hospitals do. Don’t bother going to emergency at 2 am unless you are literally dying. Wait until 7 am when the day day crew arrives and you can actually receive treatment.

    The problem in Canada, as in the USA, is overpaid doctors and not enough of them (because they are overpaid). Instead of paying a doctor $300,000 per year or more, the system needs to have 3 or more doctors earning $100,000 per year. Then there is no excuse about being overworked and “requiring” a high compensation. Big incomes attract crooks and not talent. If you want to be a doctor then you should do 5 years of low income work abroad or at home. That would weed out a lot of the $$$ in the eyeballs leeches. A nasty side effect of having overpaid doctors and living adjacent to the US, is that they act like a mafia and extort the government by threatening to leave to the USA. I say that the Canadian provinces should make all medical students sign binding contracts to pay the cost difference between their Canadian medical education and the equivalent in the USA if they decide to run off to America.

    At the undergraduate level, the physics courses with the highest enrollment are aimed at streams going into medicine. There are hordes of money maker wannabes trying to make it big in medicine. But they are all nearly weeded out and never graduate from medical school. So the system maintains the fake doctor shortage and racket level salaries. On top of this, hospitals pay a 300% markup for basic supplies (gauze, syringes, etc). It is actually possible for private individuals to pay the nominal price so this is not just a theory. Clearly, there is no effort to control costs by hospital administrations since basic economics would imply that hospitals would pay less than individuals for these items due to the volume of sales involved. At the end of the day North American public medicine is a non-market bloating itself into oblivion since the taxpayer will always pay whatever is desired. That is, the spineless politicians will never crack the whip.

    • Ryan Ward says:

      This is part of the problem in Canada. One way to help deal with it in my view, beyond simply cutting doctors’ fees (which any government with the political will to do so can do) is to simply make it easier for International Medical Graduates to get licensed in Canada. Canada has legions of immigrants (and could have pretty much however many more it likes) with full medical qualifications who would be thrilled to work for much less than the current pay rates. It’s a scandal how many qualified doctors we have in Canada driving taxis rather than practicing medicine. If we just took advantage of the human resources we already have, we could easily say to doctors who threaten to leave for the US, “Fine, go. We’ve got 10 guys from India lined up to do your job.” This isn’t to say that doctors shouldn’t be very well-paid. Anyone who has ever known someone in med school knows it’s hell. But doctors would be very well-paid at half the rates they’re getting now.

      Another part of the problem is an over-reliance on hospitals. There are a lot of people in the hospitals more in “holding” than anything else, because there’s no space in the proper facilities for them (The book “Chronic Condition” talks about this). The problem with this is that the cost per day to keep someone in the hospital is much higher than in other kinds of facilities. This is an entirely unnecessary loss.

      For all that though, the Canadian system is leaps and bounds better than the American. We spend a vastly smaller percentage of our GDP on health care, and in return achieve higher health outcomes, as measured by the WHO. If we were willing to spend the kind of money the Americans do on health care, we could have patients sleeping in golden beds even with the structural flaws of our current system. That’s worth constantly remembering, because some of the proposals for health reform floating around now lean in the direction of privatization, and we’ve seen where that road leads.

      • marknesop says:

        Before he retired from politics, Keith Martin was my MLA, and he was also a qualified MD. He used to rail against the convoluted process for certification in medicine in Canada, while others complained that we were subject to an influx of doctor-immigrants from India because Canada required less time spent in medical school than India does. I never checked the veracity of that, although we do have quite a few Indian doctors. My own doctor – in the military, and still now since he is in private practice – is a South African, and he explained that he had gone in for the military (although he was always a civilian, some military doctors are military members as well but most are not) because the hoop-jumping process to be certified for private practice in Canada with foreign qualifications was just too onerous.

        Unsurprisingly, I completely agree on the subject of privatization, because it always leads to an emphasis on profit and cost-cutting. I don’t know why some people can’t see that.

  10. Jen says:

    Thanks very much UCG, for your article. Very interesting reading for us Australians as the Federal Government eventually wants to shove us kicking and screaming into a US-style privatised healthcare insurance model.

    Funnily enough I’m currently considering changing my private health insurer. I’m with Medibank Private at present but considering maybe going with a smaller non-profit health fund like Australian Unity or Phoenix Health Fund.

    • Fern says:

      I was just about to post along the lines of “I don’t know if Jen has experienced this in Australia but here in the UK….” so I’ll finish the thought. In the UK, successive governments, not just Conservative ones, have been trying to dismantle the NHS and move us to the American system. It is pure ideology – no amount of the very abundant evidence of the inefficiencies of the US system, its waste etc makes any dint in the enthusiasm of those pressing for change.

    • ucgsblog says:

      Thank you Jen! My advice: don’t let the Government cajole you into wasting your money on Corporate Greed. Share the article with your fellow Australians, if you must, but don’t let our wasteful system be replicated. Interestingly enough, one of my friends, Lytburger, send me a meme right after Ukraine adopted America’s Healthcare System, it said: “ISIS refused to take responsibility for Ukraine’s Healthcare Reform!” I’d be happy to provide other data or answer questions about the Healthcare System here.

      As for insurance, I’m not sure if Australia has the in-network and out-of-network rules. Does it? Whatever insurance you get, make sure that it has good coverage. If you own a home in the US, and you end up in a hospital’s emergency room that’s not covered by your insurance, the hospital can take your house under certain circumstances. Ironically, even the Government cannot. All of my real property is in various Trust Accounts, just in case, and I make sure that I have insurance where all major hospitals are in-network and that’s the best I can do.

      • Jen says:

        We do have something similar to the in-network / out-of-network rules: my current fund has Members’ Choice agreements with various hospitals and clinics and other funds have similar arrangements.

  11. James lake says:

    This is s very interesting insight into healcare in the USA. The cost is shocking.
    I live in the UK and the healthcare system is paid for from taxation.
    When it was established over 70 years ago it’s
    The health service would be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which meant that people paid into it according to their means.
    It was the best thing in my view that government has ever done.
    Good healthcare should be available to all and not dependent on peoples ability to pay.

    However there always a private healthcare system that ran alongside it

    And over the years it had been unpicked as successive governments have tried to privatise it. Claiming they will save the taxpayer money

    – opticians and dentistry have become part private after 18 if you are employed.
    Which many people do not mind.
    -Elderly care was also privatised as it’s the most expensive
    -care for the disabled also is a issue for local councils
    -Mental health became care in the community – society’s problem!

    Privatisation has meant profits for businesses, poor services to vulnerable groups.
    And yet still more and more taxation is needed for the NHS!
    The issue of more money was even part of the Brexit debate as it was stated that leaving the EU would mean more money for the NHS which people are proud of.

    • marknesop says:

      There was a quote I was thinking of using in the lead-in, but decided in the end not to since I didn’t want to have too many and it might have become confusing. It related that you would get the best medical care of your lifetime – after you died, when they were rushing to save your organs, for transplant. Obviously this would not be true if you were not an organ donor (at least in this country) or died as the result of general wasting away so that you had nothing left which would be particularly coveted. But this is a major issue in medicine in some countries and there have been various lurid tales of bodies being robbed of their organs without family permission, bodies of Ukrainian soldiers harvested of their organs and rackets in third-world countries where the poor or helpless are robbed of organs while they are alive. From my standpoint, since I haven’t done much research on it, I have seen little proof of any of them despite plenty of allegation, but it is easy to understand that traffic in organs to those who will pay anything to live a little longer would be tremendously profitable, and the potential for disproportionate profit seldom fails to draw the unscrupulous.

      As I alluded in the lead-in, Canada has what is sometimes described as ‘socialized medicine’ and alternatively as ‘two-tier healthcare’ although I have never seen any real substantiation for the latter charge. My mom had an operation for colon cancer some time back, and she paid nothing for the hospitalization or the operation. My father-in-law is scheduled for the same operation as soon as he gets his blood-sugar low enough, and he already had one for a hernia and removal of internal scar tissue from an old injury – again, we paid nothing. He had a nurse come here for a couple of months, once a week, to change his dressing (because the incision would was very slow to heal because he is diabetic – nothing. That’s all great, from my point of view, and I’ve paid into it all my life without ever using it because I was covered by the government under federal guidelines while I served in the military, although I was a cheap patient because I never had to be hospitalized for anything and was almost never even sick enough not to come to work. But the great drawback to it, as I said, is the backlog which might mean you have to wait too long for an operation. And in my small practical experience – the two cases I have just mentioned – both were scheduled for surgery within a month of diagnosis. So perhaps the long wait is for particular operations such as heart or brain surgery.

      • Patient Observer says:

        The Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army harvested organs from captured Serb civilians and soldiers:

        https://thebloodyellowhouse.wordpress.com/

        In December 14th 2010, Dick Marty, Rapporteur of EU Commission pass for adoption to the Council of Europe a report on allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo organized by KLA leader and Kosovo Prime minister Hashim Thaçi. An official report accusing Kosovo’s prime minister of links to a “mafia-like” network that killed captives in order to sell their organs on the black market was yesterday endorsed by a Council of Europe committee.

        Bold text emphasis added.

        Nothing came of the charges that I am aware of and it is business as usual with Kosovo and Albania.

        Per Wikipedia:

        The Washington Times reported that the KLA was financing its activities by trafficking the illegal drugs of heroin and cocaine into western Europe.[16]

        A report to the Council of Europe, written by Dick Marty, issued on 15 December 2010[23] states that Hacim Thaçi was the leader of the “Drenica Group” in charge of trafficking organs taken from Serbian prisoners.

        On 17 February 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Thaçi became Prime Minister of the newly independent state.

        So, there you have it – the war criminal, drug runner, murderer and organ thief/butcher became the PM of Kosovo, a nation created and nurtured by NATO with a nod and a wink from the EU. Simply disgusting but typical treatment for Serbia by the fascist/racist and genocidally inclined West.

  12. et Al says:

    Thank you very much for a very interesting article UCG! Quite the horror story. I’ve heard quite a few about the US over the years from people I know too. I think one of the BBC’s former America correspondent gave an interview to the Beeb as he was leaving America a few years back (MAtt Frei?) and was asked what were the best and worst things about living there. The worst was certainly healthcare.

    I’ve also read that healthcare costs for the self-employed, independents, freelancers can also be crushing in the land of the free where everyone can become rich. Has this changed? I would have thought that those were the ideal Americans, making it off their own back, but apparently not.

    There’s also another issue that is not addressed: an ageing population. This is a very current theme and it is now not at all unusual for people to live another 30 odd years after retirement. Now how on earth will such people manage their healthcare for such a period? Will they have to hock absolutely everything they have? America is already at war with itself (hence the utmost need to for foreign enemies), but nothing is getting done. Just more of the same. Meanwhile the Brits are trying to copy the US through stealth privatization of their health system. It might work as well as privatizing its rail service…

  13. yalensis says:

    Thanks for an interesting post, UCG. Hopefully this will stimulate some ideas on how to fix the American healthcare system, which seems to be badly broken.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Broken for us but working perfectly for Big Pharma and insurance companies. That is a fundamental reason why it will be extremely difficult to “fix” because it ain’t broken as a money making machine.

  14. et Al says:

    Antiwar.com: Israeli Govt Aims to Protect PM From Corruption Charges
    http://news.antiwar.com/2017/11/27/israeli-govt-aims-to-protect-pm-from-corruption-charges/

    The Israeli Knesset has voted 46-36 in favor of a new bill dubbed the “Netanyahu Law,” which aims to retroactively protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from two different ongoing investigations into corruption.

    Technically the bill would protect all elected officials from such investigations, though Netanyahu is clearly the most obvious and primary beneficiary. The bill intends to forbid police from recommending charges be brought in their investigations….
    ####

    More a the link.

    Looks like Nut&Yahoo’s supporters think that sinking the ship will save it. It beggars belief, but then again it also is best buds with Saudi Arabia. 2018 is going to be an epic year.

    • marknesop says:

      Remarkable. You can only imagine the shrieking such a bill in Putin’s favour would inspire. Or Trump’s. And isn’t that quite a bit like a license to do whatever you want to, whether it’s illegal or not? Netanyahu must be pretty far gone if he thinks he could retain any credibility after something like that passed.

      • yalensis says:

        In other news, the Knesset will pass still another law making any of Nutty-Yahoo’s future crimes un-prosecutable as well. At that point he could just go hog-wild and do whatever he pleased.

        • Ryan Ward says:

          Isn’t that pretty much what he’s doing now? 😉

        • Jen says:

          Don’t forget the law the Knesset will pass (if they haven’t already) exonerating all of Sarah Satanyahu’s crimes past, present and future.

          Look at them both! Planning another heist of Israeli taxpayers’ money!

  15. Ryan Ward says:

    With health care in general, there’s a bit of a trade-off. The most cost-efficient systems, like the system in Sweden for example, are fairly regimented and don’t leave much room for individual choice (unless someone pays out of pocket for treatment completely outside the public system). On the other hand, systems that give people a little more choice, like the system in Germany, tend to be a little on the pricey side. I think, given American political culture, something along the lines of the German model is much more likely to attract widespread public support. In any case, it’s still cheaper than the American system, and achieves some of the best results in the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Germany

  16. et Al says:

    Consortium News via Sic Semper Tyrannis: Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels
    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/17/trumps-saudi-scheme-unravels/

    President Trump and his son-in-law bet that the young Saudi crown prince could execute a plan to reshape the Mideast, but the scheme quickly unraveled revealing a dangerous amateur hour, writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

    By Alastair Crooke

    Aaron Miller and Richard Sokolsky, writing in Foreign Policy, suggest “that Mohammed bin Salman’s most notable success abroad may well be the wooing and capture of President Donald Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” Indeed, it is possible that this “success” may prove to be MbS’ only success.

    “It didn’t take much convincing”, Miller and Sokolski wrote: “Above all, the new bromance reflected a timely coincidence of strategic imperatives.”

    Trump, as ever, was eager to distance himself from President Obama and all his works; the Saudis, meanwhile, were determined to exploit Trump’s visceral antipathy for Iran – in order to reverse the string of recent defeats suffered by the kingdom….
    ####

    More at the link.

    • marknesop says:

      President Obama and all his works….what might those be? The American establishment so loathes Trump that it cannot wait to get its digs in, resulting in the retroactive canonization of the mostly-useless Obama, and ignoring his waste of his entire first term trying to achieve ‘bipartisanship’. Meanwhile, because Trump has not whipped the new Saudi front end into shape in five minutes, he’s an idiot. Well, he is; no use disputing that, but bin Salman is still so new it is impossible to get much of a read on him. Mind you, when you are the consequence-free press, you can just go off and rewrite history to your liking.

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    The new Ukrainian BTR-4МВ1 – a heavy duty military vehicle upgraded in accordance with the latest trends in NATO armoured vehicles.

    The BTR-4МВ1 has enhanced opto-electronic sights with a powerful thermal imager and a high-precision digital firing system. The crew is able to destroy the enemy at the maximum range of weapons at night and in difficult weather conditions.

    It is a development of state concern “Ukroboronprom” specialists – a new level of military equipment for the armed forces.

    Yes, a vast improvement on this, Porky:

    But are your new APCs destined to end up like this:

    After the battle of Debaltsevo.

  18. Patient Observer says:

    Dear Moscow Exile – Could you provide a brief overview of health care in Russia and how it may have changed over recent years? Thanks.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Here and here you can read the firsthand account from an American, who relocated with his family to a small-ish Russian town near St.Pete. His blog in general also full of very interesting trivia on comparing the life “here” and “over there”, including schools, roads and bureaucracy.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Quite different from my expectation of spartan if not rudimentary medical care and overworked staff in a small Russian town. The blog on schools was interesting as well. Given where Russia was in the 90’s compared to now, it is easy to understand the strong popular support for the government and Putin in particular.

        Off topic but just saw a 2-3 minute piece on CBS news (a very long story for an American national news show) about a Russian woman (former Playboy “model’) who is challenging Putin. The reporter assured us the if she became too popular, Putin would never allow her to win. The last time Russia was allowed to protest, according to the reported was back in 2011 where the masses were demanding change. The implication being that a subsequent crackdown has suppressed further protest.

        The piece showed her speaking to a group (the camera view was such that is was impossible to determine the audience size but it had to be at least 10 and possibly up to 30 people). The reporter also speculated that the woman coud be a Kremlin plant to create a fake opposition. Just a mishmash of a story all in all.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Off topic but just saw a 2-3 minute piece on CBS news (a very long story for an American national news show) about a Russian woman (former Playboy “model’) who is challenging Putin”

          wat?! That’s the first time I hear about it! And, no, Sobchak is many things – but she is not a “Playboy” star! She does this for free/while drunk:

          “The reporter also speculated that the woman coud be a Kremlin plant to create a fake opposition. Just a mishmash of a story all in all.”

          Not Navalny, then? 😉 He surely has the wibes of the provokator around him akin to the priest Gapon.

        • marknesop says:

          This is all of a piece with that Time Magazine Macron cover – the west rushes like a giddy crowd of teenagers to The Next Big Thing. If you subscribe to that mentality, it would make perfect sense to you how some never-before-heard-of Playboy bunny could be seen as a serious challenger to the leader who has steered the country through dangerous waters for years and years. Macron is a lightweight, and the main reason he is being hyped is likely that he is easy to influence and push to various courses of action. I have no idea who the woman might be that you are talking about, but the mere suggestion that she might be considered for president of the Russian Federation just because she is thinking about running is an insult to Russians, presupposing they are as easily managed as their western counterparts. The storyline is that she will either be brutally sidelined because she is a major threat in Russian politics or is a Kremlin plant to create the fictional appearance of opposition is formulaic fluff.

          • Nat says:

            Speaking of Sobchak, this is her latest brilliant analysis, from her interview with the BBC’s Hardtalk program:” To challenge Putin in the elections in Russia, one has to be brave. Elections in Russia are not like elections in Belgium, it’s not like trying to be Prime Minister of a not big European country”. In Belgium, the Prime Minister is appointed by the King.
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csvpvl

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    re: Health Care in Russia

    Speaking as someone who has been hospitalized 3 times in Russia and still live to talk about, I have no complaints.

    In the twilight years of the USSR everything was deficit, including medicine, and the hospitals were often dilapidated, understaffed and lacking modern equipment. It was socialized medicine, of course, but you only got the basics for “free”. They would not let you die, but if you wanted any “extras”, you had to pay or provide “gifts” to the staff. The doctors were and still are good, but were grossly underpaid.

    I was first in hospital here, in isolation because I had diphtheria, in 1993. They saved me. I thought my number was up. When I was recovering, a nurse asked me when my wife would visit me.

    “I have no wife.”

    “Your friends, then?”

    “No friends. I only arrived here 3 weeks ago.”

    “You’re going to be hungry!”

    Our first child was born in 1999. The maternity wing of Moscow Hospital №1, opened 1837, was nightmarish. I paid the anaesthetist so that he could ensure that my wife did not suffer during her labour: it was a long, slow painful birth.

    Our last child was born in 2008: brand new hospital; my wife had her own room; everything state-of the-art. I paid nothing. My wife came out healthy with a healthy baby. I gave the obstetrician a “present” after delivery.

    A bribe? Not in my opinion: just a token of gratitude for a job well done.

    I broke my left collarbone at the dacha that same year. I was in a village/small town (Ruza) hospital. It was only 2-years old. There were problems because I have broken both collarbones before. Anyway, the orthopaedic surgeon did a good job, and I didn’t pay anything: emergency treatment is free for British citizens, likewise Russians in the UK. A remnant of when the UK and the USSR were glorious allies against the Beast.

    I have also had varicose veins removed. Only 2 days in hospital. A job well done. I gave the surgeon a present. He didn’t ask me for one, but I thought it was right that I do so.

    There have been great improvements in treatment and medical technology here. And the doctors and nursing staff are well trained and competent.

    Not perfect — nothing is — but more than satisfactory.

    Yes, you do hear horror stories, as you do about the British National health Service, but all in all, satisfactory.

    And there is a private health system now financed by private insurance.

    And I have had dental treatment here “on the state”: no complaints — and “free”, paid by taxation.

    An old Russian colleague of mine has lived in Germany many years now, but he comes back to Moscow to see an orthodontist.

    “They are just as good as in Germany, sometimes have even trained there, and much, much cheaper”, he says.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      PS I paid the anaesthetist so he could get the best stuff to help a woman in labour and was unavailable on the state health service. I forget what it was called now: some German manufactured stuff, I suppose.

      • Patient Observer says:

        My wife said it was the norm in Romania to provide small gifts to bureaucrats – too small to be considered a bribe but a necessary gesture of appreciation. Its not entirely different from the custom of bringing a small gift when visiting friends (bottle of wine, flowers, box of chocolate, etc.).

        • marknesop says:

          Very much so; I’m sure I mentioned before the controversy surrounding my marriage in Russia; the waiting period that must follow an application to marry is 30 days (I guess this is a period during which anyone opposing the marriage may make their case), while a tourist visa is also for a maximum of 30 days. Therefore, I could not legally remain in Russia long enough to get married. Sveta was very matter-of-fact about it; we would just, she said, announce that she was pregnant, which is one of the exceptional conditions which will override the waiting period.

          I said she would never get a doctor to sign a certificate that she was pregnant if she was not. Within a week she had her choice of three. We gave the doctor who furnished the certificate some flowers and a box of chocolates. I never considered it a bribe, and still do not, and the gift followed the act. We would have gotten the certificate anyway.

          I notice that Russians typically take such a gift with them whenever they visit friends; Ukrainians do, too. They never arrive empty-handed, and it seems much more a ritualized courtesy.

          • Patient Observer says:

            It seem odds to me how Russia or Romania can be stifling bureaucratic (as ME can attest) yet rules will often be bent with hardly a blink to facilitate a reasonable request.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            I had a somewhat similar experience getting married in Vietnam, but we didn’t need to be so creative. The rule there is that they’ll take between 15 and 25 business days to process the marriage certificate (no guarantee whether it will be at the low end or the high end), and once it’s ready, you have 3 days to come get it or they’ll tear it up and you have to start over again, so you can’t really plan to leave and come back. I could only stay for two weeks, so this was a problem for us. Fortunately, my wife has a friend who works at the People’s Committee office, so she took her boss out for drinks, got him drunk, then talked to him about our situation. We had our certificate in two days 😉

            • marknesop says:

              That’s very interesting. I loved Vietnam, although I only got to visit Saigon; I imagine the less-populated regions to be very beautiful. It was fascinating to me to see the way they just continually add more and more power lines over the existing ones, until you have a bundle suspended from the poles that must be two feet in diameter or more. And the terror you feel crossing the street for the first time, where you just have to step out and keep moving, and let the traffic flow around you. I did find the begging a little aggressive, though. The food is, I think, my favourite cuisine in the world, although I like Asian in general. Where and how did you meet your wife?

              • Ryan Ward says:

                One thing I try not to think about is what they do if there’s a problem with one of the wires and they have to figure out which one it is to fix it 😉 I lived in Saigon for 3 years, so I know it pretty well. For visiting, I preferred the centre and north, because there’s more history there, but Saigon seems to be the most comfortable place in the country for a Westerner to live long-term. It’s also the best party town in the country 😉 When I was there, I was working as an English teacher for adult classes (or, to be a little more honest, procrastinating on going to grad school). My now-wife worked part-time at the corner store near where I lived. I went there to buy snacks almost every day after teaching, so that’s how we met. That was about 4 years ago now

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Excellent! I think marriage involving different cultures can be a truly wonderful growth experience although I will be the first to admit there are challenges as well:)

                • marknesop says:

                  What a lovely story. I’m afraid I was only there for 5 days, so I didn’t have too much time to form more than fleeting impressions. I ate all my meals in restaurants, and never had a bad one, the food was outstanding. I can’t think of too many cultures whose food is more healthy than Asian, with its habitual ratio of a small amount of meat or seafood with a lot of vegetables. I also had a lot of these wonderful orange fruit drinks (non-alcoholic), very refreshing, but I forget what they were called; I think they are quite famous, a bit like a mango lassie.

                  The women were very lovely, everyone (well, every man) says that about Vietnam. I don’t remember there being an obtrusive police or military presence, and the people were friendly and helpful. I was there in 2008 with HMCS REGINA.

                  The wire problem is an easy fix – they just string a new one.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  “I think marriage involving different cultures can be a truly wonderful growth experience although I will be the first to admit there are challenges as well”

                  I’ve already (with great difficulty) forgiven my wife for the fact that her first association with Canada was Justin Bieber, so I think the hardest part is over 😉

                  “I also had a lot of these wonderful orange fruit drinks (non-alcoholic), very refreshing, but I forget what they were called; I think they are quite famous, a bit like a mango lassie.”

                  I think what you’re talking about is sinh to xoai (mango smoothie). There are lots of other sinh to flavours as well. There’s a famous place on Bui Vien Street that has 30 of them.

                  “The wire problem is an easy fix – they just string a new one.”

                  I guess that would explain why the wire bundles are so thick. Could be that half the wires in the bundle are broken 😉

                  “I was there in 2008 with HMCS REGINA.”

                  Just out of curiosity, was that part of a RIMPAC exercise?

                • marknesop says:

                  I was there with HMCS REGINA as part of WESTPLOY 2008 (Western Deployment); there’s a short piece on it here, on page 4. We visited three ports which I had wanted to see my whole career; Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong. But WESTPLOY almost invariably immediately precedes RIMPAC or follows its completion. In this case it preceded it, and we were there for RIMPAC as well, in July. We were accompanied on both by HMCS OTTAWA, although she visited all different ports for WESTPLOY except for Okinawa; we were there together.

                • yalensis says:

                  Congratulations on your marriage, Ryan! And best wishes to you and your wife.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Thanks for the recounting your experiences. They seem to pretty much mirror Russia’s climb fro the abyss. I recall that Putin was blamed for not placing health care as a priority in the early 2000’s. Russia certainly had a multitude of urgent problems so perhaps there were simply no resources (or the need to first rebuild medical infrastructure) to address health care. But, it sure looks like the resources have not only be allocated but successfully applied. Having the medical services you described provided free of charge is remarkable. My family has an exceptional health insurance plan (and very costly) but it does not provide that level of coverage.

      A number of years ago I took my wife to the emergency room as she became very faint; nearly blacking out. The emergency room response was OK but then they said a CAT scan is needed to make sure that it was nothing more than the flu combined with dehydration. They did the test and nothing was found. Good. Well, we received a bill for $1,200 with $1,000 for the CAT scan. The insurance company refused to pay for the CAT scan claiming it was not medically necessary. Well, it was what the doctor ordered so who is in a better position to determine what is medically necessary – the doctor or a clerk in an office in Florida or whatever.

      Doctors are mindful of malpractice suits so would tend to be overly caution at times which was likely the case but the second guessing by the insurance company was uncalled for.

      • Jen says:

        I think the “logic” is that if there had been a cheaper (if less reliable) alternative to the CAT scan, the insurance company would have preferred the doctors to use that – that is why the insurance company deems the CAT scan “medically unnecessary”.

        The clerk in the office in Florida or in the call centre in Manila or Mombasa or wherever these days does what s/he is told by senior management at the insurance company.

  20. Ryan Ward says:

    Good article over at The American Conservative by Ted Galen Carpenter. I’m a big fan of Carpenter, although I don’t always agree with him. The point he’s making in this article isn’t new. It’s simply the point that a lot of America’s current diplomatic problems flow from its own past duplicity. No one wants to deal with America, because everyone knows their promises are worthless. Like I said, not a new point, but Carpenter does a good job of summarizing the issues

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-duplicitous-superpower/

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yes indeed, a good recap of America’s murderous foreign policy duplicity and well worth the read. His defense of North Korea’s mistrust of US intentions was refreshing.

      • marknesop says:

        The comments are highly illuminating, as well. The ones which disagree with the author are the usual screeching about The Budapest Memorandum, you would think it was the Holy Grail or something, and sneering at him as a “Russian apologist”.

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    Заметил русских — меняй курс
    В Минобороны России подтвердили перехват самолета-разведчика США
    28.11.2017, 16:49

    The Russian Ministry of Defence has confirmed the fact of an interception of an American reconnaissance aircraft over the neutral waters of the Black sea.

    The US has accused Russia of executing a “dangerous” intercept.

    “The American plane was in international airspace and did nothing to provoke such behavior from Russia”, said the representative of the press service of the Pentagon, Michele Baldanza.

    According to her, the actions of the Russian fighter aircraft are regarded as unsafe because the aircraft crossed the course of the American aircraft from right to left, which led to “severe turbulence”. “Unsafe acts could cause serious harm to all involved air crews and cause injuries” she said. Baldanza also added that the interception lasted about 24 minutes.

    And not a dicky bird about this in the British media!

    But if a Russian military aircraft flies in international airspace near the UK, then it’s “Chocks away chaps! Tally-ho! Bandits at 2 o’clock!” and “We soon saw the blighters off!”

  22. Cortes says:

    An interesting article. Thanks.

    My tuppenceworth?

    The healthcare system in a country probably reflects the dominant elements in said country’s culture. Our family’s longtime GP was a buffoon. In my interactions with him his enthusiastic “hands-on” gung-ho approach caused several problems, not least when I visited him to get a “line” certifying I was unfit for work a week after a total hip replacement operation (he insisted on examining the wound and re-dressing it with a dressing whose adhesive I had been tested for in hospital and deemed allergic to it; fun and games, anxiety and discomfort…).

    Nevertheless he made an immediate decision to admit a close relative of mine for surgery on the basis of his examination of her.

    In my case I could have “sued his ass.”

    And then? A couple of years later?

  23. Lyttenburgh says:

    Thank you for (finally!) producing a new original, deep, thought-provoking, links-a-plenty article, ucg!

    More than a century ago, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov in his play “ The Wedding ” (1889) had introduced into our Russian meme-sphere the expression still believed and beloved by our shy and conscientious intelligentsia:

    “ZHIGALOV. …And do you have tigers in Greece?
    DIMBA. Yes.

    ZHIGALOV. And lions?
    DIMBA. And lions too. In Russia zere’s nussing, and in Greece zere’s everysing.

    ZHIGALOV. H’m…. And are there whales in Greece?
    DIMBA. Yes, everysing…

    ZHIGALOV. And are there lobsters in Greece?
    DIMBA. Yes… zere is everysing.

    ZHIGALOV. Hm…. And Civil Servants.
    ZMEYUKINA. I can imagine what the atmosphere is like in Greece!
    ZHIGALOV. There must be a lot of swindling. The Greeks are just like the Armenians or gypsies. They sell you a sponge or a goldfish and all the time they are looking out for a chance of getting something extra out of you…

    See? “In Russia there is no-thing. In Greece there is every-thing” have become – for more than century a “winged expression” – “В Греции есть всё”. Why there is every-thing in Greece? Simple – because in Russia there is no-thing. And Украiна цэ Эуропа нi Росiя Greece is not Russia. Thus a myth, a long held belief got a material (because meme is a kind of material) form.

    As I have written many times before, here in Russia our self-proclaimed “best people of the nation” are still beholden to the mystical, religious worldview akin to the neo-Catharism. Here in This Country everything is BAD. But Out-There, in some mythical country that only the Chosen Ones can ever travel, be it’s name Valinor, Greece-where-there-is-everything or The Brighton Beach – and here, Everything Is Good. Because said neo-albigensians have no actual knowledge about the world Out There, their faith gets expressed in the phrases like “Everyone knows that!”, “it is obvious!” and “as each educated person knows”… but not in facts.

    Take a look at the modern day Greece. Thankfully, in our modern day and age there are plenty of articles, books, news-services and videos on the Net, that describe the Abyssal depth of what this country have fallen to. Up till early 2000s the expression “In Greece there is everything” was still in vide use in Russia by the interested parties. Now, being shy and conscientious intelligents, the are shyly silent. Incurable idiots/religious fanatics of their Catharism still squeak about the “Civilized World at Large”, which is bound to be Good and Ideal. And they, naturally, name the country, which patriots they are not ashamed to be – the US of A.

    See the second sentence that I decided to highlight in bold from that excerpt from Chekhov’s play? Strangely enough, our intelligentsia ignored it. But, yes – how can anyone really doubt, even among our “worldly” intelligentsia, from the people who (supposedly) read O. Henry, Mark Twain, Salinger, Steinbeck, Heller, and, after Perestroika, Mario Puzo, how can they ever doubt the “ingenuity” of the American spirit, which, quite often, translates in the new profitable ways of (relatively legal forms) how to screw up your fellow American and half a world?

    Me, personally – I love the stories about crooks and thieves. I admire their boldness and ingenuity. I Admire how they dare to do what they do. I also wish from the very beginning for them to ultimately pay the price for that. I want them punished. But when the crooks and thieves are part of the system called the capitalism, well – that’s another story completely.

    While I had to sweep from the sweat my forehead by the standard-issue red-star bearing ushanka while reading ucg’s jolly narration of, pardon my Russian, “хтонический пиздец” which is the system of the American healthcare, and nod approvingly, I, nonetheless have several principal disagreements. First of all the term “wasted”. What is really “wasted”, ucg? The proverbial “burying of a talent” and burning a wad of cash – that’s “wasting”, all right. Giving fucktons money to the Ukraine, despite the fact, that you yourselves, dear “Western Partners” ™ lamented the stratospheric level of corruption therein and that there is lack of fight against it, i.e. you fucking KNOW that your credits would be stolen – that’s also kinda “waste” (and kinda “gain” for a certain people). Giving money to, ha-ha, Alexey Navalny’s electoral campaign, because “if we collect enough money the Government will have to allow us to run!” (c), but instead these funds are used to finance Navalny and Volkov’s foreign trips to posh resorts – that’s not only a “waste”, that’s kinda a tax on stupidity.

    You yourself have a nice little chapter going by “Who benefits?” title. C’mon, ucg – if anyone benefits in such a way, that it allows all the “wasted” money to be, ahem, “re-channled” into some other capitalist pursuits (and not simply blown on cards, horylka and yet another pair of haute couture shoes which would never be worn in public), i.e. for making money – then this is not a “waste”. That’s an investment. That’s not a bug of the capitalist system – that’s a feature. Why, you bought into the “capitalism with a human face” myth? 🙂

    Still, I think you wrote absolutely terrific (and scary) article, ucg. It must be shown in any debate with the true believers in the Blessed Valinor and others from the pora valit’ crowd.

    “Anyone interested in a startup?”

    😉

    “Within a month, the giant fell”

    Maybe you missed that, ucg, but I shared my opinion on that here. Are you calling for a… purge? We all understand, that the whole system could not be replaced, so it is in the need of some “cleaning”? Of some show-trials to put the fear of Retribution (if not the Justice and/or Justness) into those, who exist and benefit from that system?

    You write “Something similar is needed to change Healthcare in America.” Uhm, but the Hollywoodish system did not change over the Weinstein’s scandal. It didn’t not. No. So, either you chose a bad example, or you chose a right example, just the people need to set their expectations really, really low, and be on a loockout to repeat that “purge” in the future.

    “One cannot force the poor to work for free.”

    8)

  24. marknesop says:

    Ha, ha!!! The Victim Of The Aggressor Country seldom fails to entertain. Here we have VR Deputy Chairperson Ira Gerashchenko bossing Europe around, and telling it that the Victim Of The Aggressor Country’s parliamentary delegation will continue to insist on Russia not returning to the Council of Europe. Because, she says, Russia has stolen part of the territory of the VOTAC which was a gift from Russia in the first place (although she doesn’t mention that last part), thereby setting a precedent for every country which has a province ‘liberated’ by the west to term it stolen by the west. But that wasn’t my favourite part. No; this is – “We live at the time of a certain degrading of European institutions and their external weakening, including by Russia. You can accept it and go with the flow but you can also recognize the fact try to resist it.”

    Beautiful, Ira!! Inspiring!! And how many degraded European leaders are Billionaires who openly own an impressive slate of businesses and media in their countries, which they continue to operate and profit from while piously declaring their only interest is the welfare of the country? Which is, by the bye, the most corrupt country in Europe? How many Prosecutors-General has the VOTAC had since its glorious liberation from the yoke of the Moskali? Yes, you can certainly teach Yurrup a thing or two about integrity.

    It must be embarrassing to be European these days. To be dressed down by the corrupt country you support on handouts because you are not doing enough to support it. First we had the ‘Me’ generation. Then we had the ‘Me’ country.

    • cartman says:

      The Georgians may have killed Akhmed Chatayev (organizer of the Istanbul airport bombings). He was protected from extradition by the ECHR even though he was organizing terrorist cells in the Russian Federation. Why does Russia want the ECHR, even though it taken a stance against the rights of Russian citizens to live?

  25. Northern Star says:

    “The EU has made a resolution of the border issue one of the three preconditions for moving forward onto talks with the British government on Brexit trade terms. Brussels is placing maximum pressure on the Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May to agree to pay a £40-50 billion “divorce settlement” that is meant to be agreed in one week’s time. The Irish government has made clear it will veto any border solution—and therefore any Brexit deal—of which it does not approve.
    This has potentially catastrophic consequences for cross-border trade and for the economies of both parts of the island. Politically, it threatens the survival of May’s government but, more fundamentally, calls into question both future Anglo-Irish relations along with the power-sharing arrangements between the nationalist Sinn Fein and the pro-British Unionist parties. Inaugurated by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the arrangements ended the 30-year armed conflict known as The Troubles.”

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/28/irel-n28.html

    In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote……I told you so…on this blog!!!!.

    • marknesop says:

      All at a moment when the famous Time Magazine (just bought out by Meredith Corporation, whose major shareholders are the Koch Brothers) is touting Macron as ‘The Next Leader of Europe’. Why? Well, because he’s only 39, of course! Merkel, who was just Chancellor Of The Free World 2 years ago, is apparently a has-been now; how time flies.

      The EU is a dysfunctional mess.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Macron is a dysfunctional Trump-like mess as well. ˆ

        https://www.rt.com/news/411346-macron-african-comments-awkward/

        Here is a sample:

        “Sometimes you talk to me like I’m still a colonial power. But I do not want to deal with electricity in universities in Burkina Faso,” Macron said, and the audience reacted with laughter and applause. Warmed up by the response, the French leader carried on. “It is the work of the president [of Burkina Faso],” a smiling Macron said, pointing to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who was listening to Macron’s speech from the same stage.

        At this point, Kabore suddenly stood up and left the room. “He’s leaving… Stay there! So, he went to repair the air conditioning,” Macron said

        What a statesman!

  26. Russian Orthodox Church investigates whether the murder of the Tsar family in 1918 was a Jewish ritual murder: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/russian-orthodox-church-investigation-into-tsars-1918-killing-condemned-by-jewish-groups-1649308?utm_campaign=soficalflowtwitter&utm_source=socialflowtwitter&utm_medium=articles

    The man who gave an order to execute the whole family is Yakov Sverdlov, a Jewish Bolshevik revolutionary leader.

    • Jen says:

      There has to be proof that Yakov Sverdlov gave the order and as far as I know the evidence supporting this is not strong.

      So what if Sverdlov was of Jewish background? Was this significant in any decisions he made? What is your reason for stating his background?

      • yalensis says:

        Do you even have to ask that question, Jen?
        We all know, by this point, that Karl is a Jew-hating Nazi. LIterally.
        Ritual murder? Gimme a break!
        What’s next? Lenin drank the blood of the Christian Tsarevich, as per the Protocols of the Elders of Zion??
        Sheesh!

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. – all the more reason why the ROC needs to retract their “sanctification” of Nicky and his family. It only feeds into this type of cheap Nazi propaganda as promulgated by the likes of Karl. Who is a member of a Finnish neo-Nazi militia group.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            The trouble with that approach is that recognition of saints is seen as just that, recognition, rather than any kind of nomination. Within the church, canonization is seen as being a matter of investigating and discovering the truth about a purported fact, rather than making a decision. So the church can’t really go back on a canonization because the cult of a given saint seems to be taking on some unfortunate forms. But there’s certainly no denying that things are getting pretty weird. That sect that Poklonskaya has gotten caught up in seems to have become almost a separate religion of its own, complete with weird conspiracy theories and a tendency to anti-Semitism. I suspect in the longer run though these things are an inevitable part of the process of coming to grips with recent history, and will blow over in time.

            • yalensis says:

              And, in fact, further down this same thread, there is news, apparently, that the weirdo sect in question, suffered a new split, due to the fact that certain faux-aristocrats were not sufficiently militant enough to denounce the “Matilda” movie.

              Hey, movies are movies, maybe they just ate a good batch of popcorn!

  27. ucgsblog says:

    Thank you for posting this Mark, I appreciate it. And I love the intro!

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks very much for the article, UCG; I appreciate your hard work and interesting analysis. What took so long was going from footnotes back to hotlinks; I had to bring up each reference and re-link it, which took a little while.

      Be sure to read the linked experiences on healthcare in Russia which were provided by Lyttenburgh; very interesting, and the author has a nice, readable style. His account very much mirrors my own limited experience with healthcare in Russia.

  28. Patient Observer says:

    A Yahoo story on the search for the missing Argentinian subs mentioned Russia’s aid in a positive manner:

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-russia-lend-skill-non-stop-argentina-sub-003149369.html

    Of the 9 comments, 3 were anti Russian. Another comment suggested that if a sub hull is breached at a great depth, the incoming water will compress the air to such a level that crew members (assuming they were in the remaining air pocket) would be incinerated presumably from the heat of compression. That could actually be true from the perfect gas law of PV=nRT; never thought of that possibility. The hot highly compressed air could cause flash fires before cooling. It would be ironic to burn to death in a sub rapidly filling with water (assuming your body could survive the rapid increase in pressure).

    • marknesop says:

      Actually, I found most of the comments somewhat Russophobic; my favourite was by Eugene K: “Putin probably sank the sub, so he should have no problem finding it.”

      I guess ‘K’ stands for ‘Konehead’. I don’t know what the effect of implosion would be, but the internal pressure would probably come close to equalizing it, so there would just be a collapsing inrush of water. Investigators still know next to nothing of what happened to THRESHER, much less that the bodies of the crew were incinerated. Her crush depth was something less than 610 meters, and the wreck lies in over 2,500 meters of water. They have sent down cameras but obviously nobody has dived on it, and to the very best of my knowledge no bodies were ever recovered.

      There’s some good discussion on the wreck of THRESHER here, including mention that the Soviets sunk it with their Scalar Electromagnetic Weapon (????) To the site’s credit, the content was removed.

      • Patient Observer says:

        I was thinking that. like in a diesel engine, compressing the air raises the temperature per the gas equation mentioned above. I won’t ever do this again but this Youtube video explains the derivation of the equations to estimate the temperature ad pressure rise from compressing a gas. Fortunately, the example in the video assumes a 10 to 1 compression starting at one bar which results in a 25 bar air pressure which would equal a depth of 250 meters of water; not a crush depth but still suggestive of possible temperature rise. Per the video, if the air were at 300 K (about 80 F), the compressed air temperature would be about 890 F. Undoubtedly, a lot of heat would be lost to the surrounding materials keeping peak temperature somewhat lower but it would still be toasty. Just weird.

        IIRC, the most plausible theory related to the sinking of the Thresher was a short circuit of a control panel resulting in a loss of power. I have no idea of how that could be determined unless there was a history of such problems.

        • marknesop says:

          I’ve never heard of this effect, so I must admit it could be possible – however, the spot heat required to burn a person to death before the water could reach him is difficult to imagine at such pressure, and I have never heard of such a theory before. Lots of crazy things just get tossed out there and the author almost invariably presents them as established facts.

          Every ‘ghost story’ like the loss of THRESHER (and USS SCORPION, five years later) breeds various conspiracy theories and wild claims; I was intrigued by the controversy over the alleged last message received from the submarine – “Tell the boys at General Dynamics they fucked up”. This is hotly contested, some saying it would have been impossible to receive any radio signals from the unit, others pointing out that THRESHER was not built by Electric Boat, which was owned by General Dynamics. In the case of SCORPION, the official government line was that a torpedo exploded during handling, much as speculation has it happened in KURSK. But several academics have disputed this, and the detail which has intrigued theorists for years is the broken inboard end of the propeller shaft and the fact that the shaft blew out of the boat when it imploded, suggesting a main propulsion failure may have made it impossible for her to surface. Like THRESHER, she imploded at about 610 meters and fell to an ultimate depth of nearly 3000 meters. But the severe pinching of the torpedo-room compartment due to the increasing pressure suggests those inside must have known what was coming; the implosion drove the engineering compartment 50 feet further forward into the hull. According to official estimaes, the boat broke in falf considerably before that, at something over 400 meters.

          Israel also lost a submarine, INS DAKAR, under mysterious circumstances, while the loss of the Soviet Union’s K-129 and France’s MINERVE were never satisfactorily explained: all occurred that same year, 1968.

  29. marknesop says:

    Remember, you heard it first from the SBU – Russia is already preparing to falsify the Ukrainian elections in spring 2019. A bit early for them to tip their hand, I would have said. But it’s safe now; the SBU is on to them. All you need to do is listen to who the SBU says is legitimately the president.

    It continues to stagger the imagination how this friendless and isolated country, its economy in tatters under powerful freedom sanctions, still musters up the influence to rig elections around the world. Yes, after the eagle-eyed Democrats in the United States found Putin’s filthy paw-prints on their formerly squeaky-clean elections, greasing greasy Donald Trump’s path to the White House; why, people all over the world are waking up to discover Russia messed with their elections, too – in fact, with every major decision at the state level, like Brexit.

    You can’t blame them, really; it’s a dandy tool to have in the toolbox for when elections don’t turn out the way you had hoped. The Russians hacked us – run ‘er again, boys. So it looks like Porky will be around for awhile, no matter what Ukrainians think. Must make for titillating speculation around the State Department coffee table, since the current Number Two – and trying harder – is Gas Princess Yulia Tymoshenko. I wonder which one is Putin’s favourite? Whichever one Washington didn’t want to win, is my bet.

  30. Moscow Exile says:

    EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

    Украинский депутат предложил травить жителей Донбасса дихлофосом
    По его словам, донбассовцев нужно пожизненно сажать в тюрьму

    Ukrainian deputy has proposed that Donbass residents be poisoned.
    According to him, Donbass residents should be imprisoned for life
    28 November


    Kiev Supreme Rada Deputy Evgen Rybczynski, who has called for the banning of Donbass elections for 10 years, the introduction of a visa regime with Russia and the blocking of TV transmissions from Moscow

    Oh look! He’s wearing a vyshyvanka How smart he looks!


    I do not care what is in Lugansk. I am not interested in the life of cockroaches. Even when a million of them are born in my kitchen, this does not mean that the kitchen belongs to them. There is no status and special regimes for cockroaches, only dichlorvos* and a lot of dichlorvos. Well, time for a couple thousand “Javelins”, of course.

    *2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate is an organophosphate widely used as an insecticide to control household pests, in public health, and in protecting stored product from insects.

    And the delightful Evgen also wants to have a nationwide tribunal over the DPR and LPR.

    It seems that he has already decided what the verdict of that tribunal should be: according to him, all the citizens of the republics should get life imprisonment and forced labour.

    You see, eastern Ukraine was infested with cockroaches after the systematic genocide of the native inhabitants in 1932-1933 on the orders of Stalin.

    The place must therefore be — dare I say it? — ethnically cleansed.

    He dares say it, albeit the arseholes in the EU and USA Department of State dare not.

    • marknesop says:

      First of all, he’s not going to get ‘a couple thousand Javelins’ for $47 Million, which was the proposed package and which has not yet been approved. Second, Ukraine only wanted the Javelin ‘to defend itself from the Aggressor’, didn’t it? If it were not crystal clear to everyone by now that Kiev wants an arms package from the USA for a military push to annihilate the Donbas militias, that should have done it.

      Washington is dithering on the issue; on the one hand, it very much wants Kiev to make a lunge for the Donbas, and for Russia to intervene where there can be no dispute that it did so. But what then? The west is pretty much sanctioned out, and would have to go to war. Is it ready for that? I don’t think so. Washington would like a period of steadily increasing tension first, so the military-industrial complex could get on a war footing and start churning out tanks and planes, all for the greater enrichment of General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin and all those who hold stock in them. A flash-up confrontation is not in anybody’s interests. I personally think the west would not even be too disappointed if Russia took Ukraine by violence; then the west could gird itself to take it back, with mighty righteousness on its side.

      I’m a big fan of the Vyshyvanka, and I think Kiev should take more steps to get back to the happy time when it was unremarkable daily wear. Like plowing behind an ox all day with a wooden plow, and having your front yard full of free-range chickens, that sort of thing.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I prefer this:

        My Vova had one when he was a little lad.

        It’s called a kosovorotkaкосоворотка.


        (above) A man’s kosovorotka.

        Usually made of linen. The name is from the Russian с косым воротомwith an oblique collar.

        You do not see rows of delegates in the Russian State Duma wearing such shirts, though.

        Clearly, they are not patriotic enough to do that.

        • Jen says:

          The danger in the way people wear the vyshyvanka in Ukraine and other countries, as some sort of marketing symbol demonstrating their support for Ukraine, is that whatever the vyshyvanka originally stood for, its origins and what the patterns mean, is lost and the item and its unique features not only become devalued but become associated with the regime (as was the case with the use of the swastika, which was originally used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains in different ways and was later nicked – or “appropriated” – by Nazi Germans) in a way that devalues the vyshyvanka further and will probably ensure its extinction sooner rather than later as an item of clothing.

      • Patient Observer says:

        I respectfully disagree, The book value of a Javelin is at most $4,000 if in good condition such as the one pictured below. $47 million would purchase easily 5,000 units.

        Also, the Javelin can be quite deadly.

        • marknesop says:

          I loved those cars. Seventies muscle cars rocked!

          Now Ukraine just has to figure out how to launch them against the enemy. In fact, the Javelin command launch unit costs $126,000.00, and each missile costs $78,000.00. So there’s a nice little math puzzle for someone who likes math (I don’t). Assuming Ukraine got at least one missile per command launch unit, how many of each could they afford for $47 Million? It’s just an exercise, because the Javelin is just supposed to be a component of the package, and nobody is envisioning Ukraine getting nothing but Javelins. Also, that would be an extremely stupid and expensive way to do it, and it would make more sense to include, say, one command launch unit per 10 missiles, something like that.

          My first car was a 1968 Torino GT, virtually identical to this one (mine didn’t have the gold stripes).

          • Patient Observer says:

            I really liked the Torino as well. There was a pretty good movie, Gran Torino, about a Korean war vet who hated being called a hero for killing a “enemy” soldier who was nothing more than a scared kid.

            He befriended an Asian family to the point of giving his life to help a young Asian boy out of serious trouble with a gang. Clint Eastwood was the star. The Gran Torino car in the movie was nicely featured.

        • Cortes says:

          Jabalí is the Spanish for “wild pig” from which the name of the spear jabalina/javelin surely derives. A few thousand javelins floating around Ukraine might be a problem for Porky.

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    Evgen is not short of a few bob, i reckon, from Russian Wiki:

    Евгений Юрьевич Рыбчинский (21 декабря 1969, Киев)) — украинский политик, общественный деятель, народный депутат Верховной Рады Украины VIII созыва.

    Заместитель председателя Комитета Верховной Рады Украины по делам ветеранов, участников боевых действий, участников антитеррористической операции и людей с инвалидностью.

    Поэт, журналист, медиа-менеджер…

    Evgeny Rybchinsky (December 21, 1969, Kiev)) – Ukrainian politician, public figure, People’s Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of VIII convocation.

    Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Veterans Affairs, combatants, participants in the antiterrorist operation and people with disabilities.

    Poet, journalist, media manager.

    Journalistic career started in his third year of University on Ukrainian radio and television, first in the “Young Guard” programme of the “Blitz” radio station, then the UR-2 “Promin”… Then his carrer as a producer starts.

    In 1992 creates the company “MB Advertising”. The basic activity of the company is marketing, production and advertising for clients such as Oriflame, MTI, UMC(MTS), Helen Marlen Group and many others.

    In 1993 he opens a recording Studio “Music exchange”, which became the leading Studio in ’90s Ukraine.

    In 1997, registers and creates the project “Our Radio”, the rights to whichhe subsequently transfers to Andrei Volkov.

    In 1999 creates “Radio Nostalgia”. After a year the radio has top rating in Kiev

    2003: publishes popular women’s magazine “Eve”.

  32. Nat says:

    Completely off topic, but do any of you guys plan on attending the World Cup in Russia next year?

    • marknesop says:

      I’m not, since I am still a casual employee and have to be available for work on an on-call basis. The typical waiting period now to get on a regular watch is about 18 months. I’m also not much of a sports fan.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I’m not, because I can’t stand football: much prefer rugby — the version with 13 players in a team.

      • Nat says:

        Tell me about it! I’m on a travel forum discussing planning tips for the World Cup, and people on it (mostly from the US or UK) can’t stop complaining about anything and everything. They couldn’t get tickets to a match? Russia is so bad at organizing, all tickets were taken by Russians, this sale is a complete mess! They could get a ticket? No one is interested in going to Russia anyway, that’s why so many tickets are available! Trains between host cities will be free for ticket holders? Yes, but they will be full of drunk Russian fans! No alcohol sale or consumption will be allowed on board these trains? God, Russians are so strict and boring, there will be no party atmosphere!

        As we get closer to the tournament, I’m sure we’ll see more of this and similar stories to what was published before the Sochi Olympics. As Putin commented on a different subject: “Скучно, девочки”.

      • marknesop says:

        Oh, for Christ’s sake – why don’t we all just come out, and be gay. If there’s anything that exacerbates hatred, it’s activists; when will they learn? International sport is not about homosexuality, but the activists bend every event to their agenda. Everything must be ‘gay friendly’ and you have to just smile with approval and clap for them when they hold hands and flutter their little rainbow pennants. I have had it up to here with the gays, and I suspect I am not alone. If they really just want to be like everybody else, then shut the fuck up and do it.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Gays have appropriated and now fully own the words “gay” and “rainbow”. The correct term for them are homosexuals. Heterosexuals need a nifty word like “Fantastic” but we just aren’t very good at coming up with arty phrases I guess.

  33. Moscow Exile says:

    Мост в Крым атакуют санкциями
    Власти Украины нашли способ остановить строительство Крымского моста
    29.11.2017, 15:10

    The Crimea bridge is to be attacked with sanctions
    The Ukrainian authorities have found a way to stop the construction of the Crimea bridge

    Щn 28 November during a speech in Kiev at the International Сonference on Maritime safety, the Ukraine Minister of Infrastructure, Volodymyr Omelyan, stated that the “illegal” construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait must be stopped with the help of additional sanctions against Russia and pressure on Moscow from the international community.

    The illegal construction of the Kerch bridge urgently needs to be stopped, and this can only be done under pressure from the international partners of the Ukraine and additional sanctions against Russia as a state; against companies and individuals involved in the illegal construction“, was stated by Omelyan and published by the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry.

    According to the Ukrainian Minister, the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait is threatening the economy, the maritime transport infrastructure and the national security of the Ukraine. “The Ukraine is a sea power! Always was, is and will be! And this is not a matter of the history of the Soviet occupation, it is a question of sea trade missions to Kievan Rus since the 10th century, and the glorious Cossack naval campaigns of the Hetman Sahaidachny and other legendary hetmans“, said Omeljan.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Ah well, faced with sanctions meted out by the the “community of nations” and the awesome might of “International Law”, Russia will have no other option but to cease forthwith the construction of that bridge and order its demolishment.

      What a typically Russian waste of money and resources the construction of that bridge has been!

    • marknesop says:

      What a starry-eyed bunch of bullshit. You only have to look at the present-day Ukrainian navy to see what kind of national emphasis there is on being a sea power. And sanctions are not going to stop the construction of the bridge. If it were not there, Ukrainian shipping would follow almost exactly the same route as it does today, as sea lanes are based on charted depths and economically-efficient routes, and the bridge does not impede them. Honestly, the Ukrainians are so childish I almost expect them to deliberately construct a ship which is too wide or too high to go under the bridge, just for the complaint value it would provide in squalling to their ‘international partners’. For how much longer is the west going to put up with this before unceremoniously dropping Ukraine on its ass? I question why anyone would want it as a partner or ally now, and if the west took it over and sucked it dry, it would serve them right. The Glorious Maidan brought the absolute worst, most useless, greedy, shortsighted and hateful people in Ukraine to power.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        It was not so long ago that the salo-munchers were on about constructing a sea canal across the neck of the Crimea peninsula so as to avoid sailing to Mariupol through the Kerch Strait. Don’t know what became of that wizard idea of theirs.

        Talking of Yukie pork products:

        Imports of pig fat (lard) for the last five years has increased by 30%

        That was in 2014.

        In 2013 Ukraine imported 44.4 thousand tonnes of pig fat (lard); that is 30% more than five years ago, informs the Association “Ukrainian Agribusiness Club” (UCAB).

        I saw the other day an article here that imports of lard and other pork products into the Ukraine are still on the rise.

        The imports are from the EU, of course.

        Here’s the article — just found it:


        Lost pride: Ukraine will be buying lard in the EU
        Since the beginning of this year the price of lard has risen sharply In the Ukraine

        Ekaterina Katkova 27.11.2017, 21:44

        The Ukraine may soon lose one of its main national products. In a few years the country will not even have enough lard for domestic consumption. This year the volume of pork imports from EU countries has dramatically increased. Experts now say that is cheaper to import into the Ukraine lard and pork from Europe than it is to buy it from local farmers. The price of lard in the Ukraine has increased by 68%.

        Sad, isn’t it?

        The salo that I nosh (I’m rather fond of it) is domestic or Belorussian.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Didn’t link the Russian article on the increase of salo imports into the Ukraine:

          Потерянная гордость: Украина будет закупать сало в ЕС

          Lost pride: the Ukraine will be buying lard in the EU</b

        • marknesop says:

          Sad, but typical – it’s the magic market at work!! The market cures all. Now European products compete with Ukrainian products within Ukraine, and in a few years you will not be able to find anything local on the shelves. And that was the fate that awaited Russia if it had left its tax-exempt regime in place with Ukraine – European products, cheap-cheap, remarketed as Ukrainian products and squeezing out domestic industry. I bet you will find many of the European products being rammed into Ukraine now enjoy a comfortable government subsidy where they came from, which makes it possible for them to get under Ukrainian store price. Germany is a major producer of pork products.

  34. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Tl;dr, the idiot Paslawsky was most likely killed by his own troops, following a dispute over misused donations.

    • marknesop says:

      Check the author’s credentials; former US Special Forces helicopter pilot, writer for Fox Business News and the Moscow Times. You’d have a hard time tarring him with the ‘Putin’s Useful Idiot’ brush.

  35. et Al says:

    The results of German antivirus test lab AV-TEST.org for Windows 10 home are published. Guess which product is top?

  36. Moscow Exile says:

    Shock-horror latest from the Empire of Evil!

    DOGS OF WAR? Putin’s lab-designed canines guarding Russia’s dangerous prisoners REVEALED

    DOGS cloned in a laboratory have started work guarding murderers and rapists at one of Russia’s toughest jails.

    The Belgian Malinois dogs are now guarding 720 males inmates at the harsh labour camp in which Russia has been accused of holding “political prisoners” such as Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker sentenced to 20 years jail for “plotting terrorists acts” in Crimea, which he denied.

    Ukrainian “filmmaker”?

    He denied the charges?

    Clearly innocent then.

    What an evil swine that Putin is!

  37. Lyttenburgh says:

    Welcome back to the cultural newsletter of the Eastern Europe! Yes, Poland, you are Eastern Europe. Now, stop screaming expletives, and behave! Today we will the one in a life time (modern) cultural event – an EPIC RAP BATTLE… OF ARTICLES! In (oh, kurwa!) the “Politico” of all places:

    Let’s welcome our first contender:
    Poland: Patriotic, not Authoritarian, by Tomasz Wroblewski (president of the Warsaw Enterprise Institute – an economic think tank)

    Quote:

    “Many pointed to a recent outburst of violence and extremist sentiment at an independence day parade in Warsaw earlier this month as evidence of Poland’s democratic decline. But out of the 60,000 people in attendance, no more than 10 percent could legitimately be called far-right nationalists of the “fascist” variety. And those represent a small fringe group with no standing in Polish society. Out of hundreds of patriotic banners waved there, no more than 10 were an idiotic nationalistic mix of fascist and communist paranoia.

    Nor are these extremists a threat. We’re dealing with troubled, immature minds. This was obvious in the contradiction of their messages. Next to racist banners promoting “white power,” we saw anti-communist and anti-capitalist slogans. Some were reminiscent of earlier pro-Russian provocations.”

    Aaaaaand – round!

    Well, let’s look at out other contender – Poland: Authoritarian, not Patriotic, by Maciej Kisilowski (associate professor of law and public management at Soros funded Central European University in Budapest).

    Quote:

    “Why does Kaczyński not appear to worry that the judiciary he captured may one day be used against his own party? Is he not afraid that antagonizing Germany, a key NATO and EU ally, may eventually help Russian President Vladimir Putin? Is he not uneasy about increasing Poland’s economic vulnerability by lowering the retirement age and introducing massive new welfare spending?”

    […]

    In the PiS-captured public TV, journalists likewise seem to see no limits to pro-government sycophancy and vicious attacks on the opposition. The public broadcaster’s tone is eerily reminiscent of communist propaganda, giving even some right-wing commentators pause. The station, supposed to be Poland’s BBC, has sported headlines such as “PiS defends Poland against attacks by the opposition,” “Opposition supports Poland’s enemy,” or “Soros net entangles the EU.”

    Aaaaand – round!

    Wow! What a plurality of opinions! Neo-liberal globalist Russophobes vs Polish Traditional Russophobes! Because, ultimately, they made it all about Russia, not about ordinary fascism, not about the trends that the West itself have been nurturing in the “captive nations” throughout the Cold War as the ideological counterweight to the communism. They really thought it will disappear overnight, should the Washington’s ObCom issue a statement – “Change of plans! Nationalism – bad, tolerism – good”. Well – as the Eastern Europe shows them – no, they just “unfroze” what had been dormant there since 1930s – crypto-, pseudo- and quasi fascism.

    Even if the fascists and neo-Nazis at the Independence March were a fraction of the March total, they led it, they organized it, they invited prominent fascist figures as guests. They stood in the front line and carried their banners (“Europe will be either White, or Depopulated” and “Poland for Polish”). They did it while wearing balaclavas and firing flares en masse, which constitutes the “hooliganism” and is punishable by their own Polish law. Oh, and just recently they “hanged” opposition politicians. So far there has been no open condemnation of those movements by the Polish government.

    • marknesop says:

      But out of the 60,000 people in attendance, no more than 10 percent could legitimately be called far-right nationalists of the “fascist” variety. And those represent a small fringe group with no standing in Polish society.

      Yup, there’s ‘just a few Nazis’, and they ‘have no real influence or political power’. That sounds familiar; where have I heard it before?

      • et Al says:

        And silence about many more Croatian nazis and their nazi HDZ government, but hey, they’re only small nazis and they are far away! Look! Orban!

        The Nazi is in the eye of the beholder!

        • Patient Observer says:

          Nazis remain an integral part of Western culture and values. Like Wahhabi Jihadists, they stand ready to serve their masters.

      • Ryan Ward says:

        Yup, there’s ‘just a few Nazis’, and they ‘have no real influence or political power’. That sounds familiar; where have I heard it before?

        The difference is that in this case it’s true. As I mentioned, the Polish President had condemned the march within 2 days. The Polish government refused to even grant Richard Spencer a visa. The idea that Poland is a budding Nazi state is nothing more than a hatchet job in the Western media targeting a government that is one of the firmest barriers to further EU integration. All this phony concern about Nazis in the Guardian, the NYT, the Washington Post and other rags is just the standard pro forma smearing of a country that represents a geopolitical obstacle. The Financial Times gave away the game when they wrote,

        “The political and cultural paranoia of Law and Justice, fueled by a perverted idea of Polish uniqueness and greatness, is the greatest obstacle to fulfilling that promise for Poland itself, apart from all the damage it is doing to the European project as a whole.

        The last phrase is the only one worth paying attention to. The rest is white noise.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “The idea that Poland is a budding Nazi state is nothing more than a hatchet job in the Western media targeting a government that is one of the firmest barriers to further EU integration.”

          Did I say anything about “Nazism”? I was talking about fascism, ordinary, commonplace fascism becoming a thing in Poland.

          ” All this phony concern about Nazis in the Guardian, the NYT, the Washington Post and other rags is just the standard pro forma smearing of a country that represents a geopolitical obstacle. “

          Geopolitical obstacle – to whom? All of them, their governments, are still bleating that Poland must be StronK in face of Russian “aggression”. No, what they are concerned with is that their “success story” of “happy transition”, this “operation Showcase” took quite predictable turn, and might implicate them the “progressors” as well. And that despite the fact that neo-liberalism as an ideology is no less fascist – only subtler.

        • marknesop says:

          I did not say that Poland is a budding Nazi state, and my point was that the overtly fascist behavior of individuals is sometimes overlooked, sometimes hammered like a ton of bricks, depends on where it occurs. And while the president of Poland may have condemned it, influential Polish citizens appeared to at least tolerate it, describing a Poland which nurtures such movements as patriotic, not authoritarian.

          I think most would agree the current Polish government is demonstrably authoritarian, although not because of the presence in Poland of fascist groups. But Europe cannot argue that it was brought to power by other than democratic means. That’s why it’s funny watching the bloc tie itself in knots trying to admonish Poland. It’s also true that its sports hooligans are among the world’s most overtly racist, although that does not necessarily equate to Nazi sympathies.

          My point is that downplaying the numbers or political influence of fascist groups is making excuses for them. Freedom of speech only goes so far, and if the United States, Canada and Ukraine had not vetoed Russia’s proposal, there would be a law on the books which punished glorification of Nazism.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            “I did not say that Poland is a budding Nazi state, and my point was that the overtly fascist behavior of individuals is sometimes overlooked, sometimes hammered like a ton of bricks, depends on where it occurs.”

            I agree with the point in general, but I just went to Google and did a search for “Poland march”. Every hit on the first page was a story about this, including stories from The Guardian, the Washington Post, The New York Times, the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Independent and the CBC. So this event is anything but being “overlooked”. Actually “hammered like a ton of bricks” is a great description of the Western media’s reactions to these events. And this is nothing remotely unusual for Poland recently. The Western media has been in full court press against Law and Justice (and really, Poland as a whole), since they were elected. But other than at the American Conservative (http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/only-smears-and-snark-for-poland-on-its-birthday/ and http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/poland-sunday-shopping-man-market/) the Western media hasn’t spared one drop of ink to even consider another side to the Law and Justice Party or ask why it might be that they’ve won the biggest majority in post-communist Polish history. Instead the Western media is 100% portraying them as simple comic-book villains.

        • Jen says:

          The real issue is that while Western media focus on fringe extremist right-wing groups in Poland, the country generally has been turning more authoritarian and fascist, and has been doing so since the early 1990s. When a country like Poland has been drifting in that direction for over 20 years, there really is not much need for a Nazi-style movement with overt swastika displays or kitsch Hitler worship – its real work is being done for it already.

    • Ryan Ward says:

      So far there has been no open condemnation of those movements by the Polish government.

      This is simply false. Within 2 days of the march the President of Poland had condemned it.

      “President Andrzej Duda said that “there is no place in Poland” for xenophobia, pathological nationalism and anti-Semitism and that the country must remain a land of open to all who want to come together and work for the good of the nation.

      He said it makes no difference if a person’s father was ‘German, Jewish, Belarusian, Russian or whatever.'”

      Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/11/13/polish-government-defends-warsaw-nationalist-march-as-patriotic.html

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        President of Poland is hardly worth a bucket of warm piss – and Dupda is worth even less.

        You mentioned “phony concern” in the Guardia, Ryan did you mean this article?

        ‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day
        Xenophobic phrases and far-right symbols mark event described by anti-fascists as a magnet for worldwide far-right groups

        Surely, these fine pans decided to shave their heads because it is too warm in Poland in November. And they illegally firing flares because… because… uhm… “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła!”

        “Tens of thousands of nationalist demonstrators marched through Warsaw at the weekend to mark Poland’s independence day, throwing red-smoke bombs and carrying banners with slogans such as “white Europe of brotherly nations”.

        Police estimated 60,000 people took part in Saturday’s event, in what experts say was one of the biggest gathering of far-right activists in Europe in recent years.

        Demonstrators with faces covered chanted “Pure Poland, white Poland!” and “Refugees get out!””

        “Many carried the national white-and-red flag while others held banners depicting a falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s. A demonstrator interviewed by state television TVP said he was on the march to “remove Jewry from power”

        Among the far-right leaders attending the march was the former English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson, and Roberto Fiore from Italy. It also attracted a considerable number of supporters of Poland’s governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

        TVP, which reflects the conservative government’s line, called it a “great march of patriots”, and in its broadcasts described the event as one that drew mostly ordinary Poles expressing their love of Poland, not extremists.

        It was a beautiful sight,” the interior minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, said. “We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday.””

        Once. Again. The minister of the interior sees a “peaceful congregation”, despite the fact that the marchers were firing flares and covering their faces with masks and balaclavas.


        ^ Yep. Totally “phony”. How could the Minister of the Interior really notice all of this with his busy schedule?!

        Among other things, Mlodziez Wszechpolska (All-Polish Youth), one of the organizers of the march, said that they’re not racists but “race separatists” (gee, does it remind you of someone?). There were some neo-fascists from Italy and Slovakia present. And banners calling for white-only Europe were clearly visible. Mlodziez Wszechpolska is supported by the current government – for example, one of the leaders of MW got a key position in the national bank (NBP).

        Looks like undoing the Partition of Poland was a mistake. 😉

        P.S. PiS parliament member accuses “Imagine” by John Lennon of being a Communist manifesto. Therefore, the “John Lennon Alley” must be renamed.

        • Ryan Ward says:

          Before I say any more on this, I want to stop and clarify a point. “Fascism” is one of the most over-used and abused terms in the political lexicon. Most of the time when it’s used it simply means “someone I don’t like who is either a) more rightist or b) less libertarian than I am” (Sort of like an alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks more than you do 😉 ) So I think it’s worthwhile, before accusing Poland’s current government of being “fascist”, to clarify what precisely “fascist” means.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            And, while we’re at it, what distinguishes “fascism” from it’s relatives like “nationalism” and “authoritarianism”.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            In the interim, while waiting for clarification about what precisely the accusations being made against Poland are, a little more on why Law and Justice is so popular. There’s a lot of BS in this article, but along the way it touches on some of the truly important points

            https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/central-europe/2017-11-03/why-polands-law-and-justice-party-remains-so-popular

            Some key sections

            In 2016, it implemented a system of unconditional cash payments amounting to $140 per month for parents with more than one child towards the upkeep of each subsequent child until the age of 18. Under this rule, for instance, a household with three children receives $280 per month. (For single-child parents, the payment is conditional on low income.)

            PiS is the first party in power to have asserted that Poland is now rich enough to afford significantly more social spending. In a country where most people’s net salary still amounts to just over $500 a month, the cash payments have provided a significant boost to family incomes. This is particularly true in rural areas, where people tend to be poorer and have more children.

            Poland’s ruling party often deploys a language that emphasizes the need for state protection and support of the elderly, the less well-off, and the family unit in general. After 25 years of government emphasizing individual success, many Poles seem to find this more communitarian approach not only beneficial to their pocket-books but emotionally reassuring, as well, providing a sense of security and community.

            According to PiS, Western Europe has forgotten its roots. As Kaczyński said: “There is a very deep crisis in Europe…it is a serious crisis of European consciousness, a crisis of identity, which is coupled with the collapse of values and basic social institutions.”

            “It is completely untrue that to achieve Western levels of development, we have to adopt their social models,” Kaczynski said in 2015. “That is hogwash.”

            This sort of thing drives Brussels types crazy. Western Europe always wanted Poland to be two things, a) a cheap labour whore-house where Western European investors could achieve higher returns on investment than at home, aided by social Darwinist neo-liberal policies that would keep their taxes low and their workforce desperate, and b) a notional outpost of “European civilization” against the barbaric hordes from Russia. So it’s entirely predictable that they hate a government that prioritizes social services for its own people, tells the West that they can stuff their “liberal values”, and isn’t particularly interested in helping Mutti Merkel deal with the refugee crisis she did so much to generate. None of this has anything to do with “fascism”. It has to do with the powerful EU members hating a government that governs in the interests of its own people. Ironically enough, Brussels hates the Law and Justice Party for precisely the same reason it hates Putin.

            • Patient Observer says:

              This caught my attention seems eminently reasonable:

              This sort of thing drives Brussels types crazy. Western Europe always wanted Poland to be two things, a) a cheap labour whore-house where Western European investors could achieve higher returns on investment than at home, aided by social Darwinist neo-liberal policies that would keep their taxes low and their workforce desperate, and b) a notional outpost of “European civilization” against the barbaric hordes from Russia. So it’s entirely predictable that they hate a government that prioritizes social services for its own people, tells the West that they can stuff their “liberal values”, and isn’t particularly interested in helping Mutti Merkel deal with the refugee crisis she did so much to generate.

              I don’t know enough to comment on the other points.

            • marknesop says:

              And still more ironic, Poland (nationally; there may be individual exceptions) continues to hate Russia although it seems to espouse the same values in a world in which the west increasingly embraces decadence and hedonism, so drunk on ‘freedom’ that one must be allowed to do most anything without restriction and the rest must clap from the sidelines. Perhaps it’s a core Polish value; but the Poles have a lot more in common with the Russians than they have with the west.

              That’s quite a good explanation – I had wondered myself why Brussels is having such a difficult time dislodging PiS. Normally the Poles fall all over themselves in their eagerness to show their loyalty by doing Brussels’ bidding even when it is clearly against their own interests, confident that the benefits are simply hidden.

              Do you think you might ever be interested in writing a guest post for publication here?

              • Ryan Ward says:

                “Do you think you might ever be interested in writing a guest post for publication here?”

                Do you mean about Poland/Law and Justice? Definitely 😀

                • marknesop says:

                  About anything you like, although this is sort of a Russo-centric blog. Sure, about the Poland Law/Justice Party, if you would like. I will be in touch via email so we can exchange addresses. I look forward to it!

              • Ryan Ward says:

                “but the Poles have a lot more in common with the Russians than they have with the west.”

                The same thought has occurred to me. Culturally, it would be a huge leap for Poland (given that despising Russia has been a national pastime for a few hundred years now), but I wonder sometimes if we may eventually see a “flip” in Poland like we saw in Hungary. I think if the Western EU members are able to take a “live and let live” approach to the Visegrad countries, Poland will stay pro-Western, but if they continue to aggressively push “Western values” on the Poles (and the Czechs and Slovaks as well), they may eventually find that they’ve lost their enthusiastic “bulwark of Western civilization” in Eastern Europe.

                • marknesop says:

                  That’s an interesting possibility. Like you, I do not expect it to happen soon, if ever, since hatred of Russia is institutionalized in Poland to a significant degree. But it is intriguing nonetheless to speculate that the west’s eternal glorifying of itself might one day be its undoing in Poland. The comment earlier here which quoted Sigmar Gabriel saying that relations with the USA could never go back to what they once were is perhaps a harbinger of an entirely different US-European relationship, with a great deal more independence exercised by the latter.

  38. Moscow Exile says:

    No doubt there will be much mirth in some quarters as regards the following news:

    Запущенные с Восточного 19 спутников уже упали в океан

    19 satellites launched from Vostok have fallen into the ocean

    MOSCOW, November 29 — RIA Novosti. Nineteen satellites launched from the Vostok Space Centre have already fallen into the ocean, RIA Novosti has been told by a source in the space industry, most likely into the Atlantic.

    There has still been no official confirmation of this information from RIA Novosti.

    On Tuesday a “Soyuz-2.1 b” rocket with the meteorological satellite “Meteor-M” №2-1 and 18 spacecraft payloads was launched from Vostok.

    The flight was controlled from the Vostok Space Centre.

    The release of the “Meteor” into the calculated orbit height of 825,5 kilometers was to be held at 9:42 GMT, after which it had to start sending telemetry, but the satellite was not released into the target orbit.

    Later the source in the space industry said that the next launch from Vostok was planned for December 22, but could be postponed to next year.

    According to the source, yesterday’s setback will require careful checks of the upper stage “Fregat”.

    Most likely, the source said, “Fregat” will be returned to the manufacturer, NPO Lavochkin.

    “The investigation will take time. More testing and possible improvements. before the end of this year is unlikely. It is highly likely, therefore, that this launch from Vostok will take place in 2018”, said the person who spoke with the agency.

    • et Al says:

      I read that it was a programming (sic ‘human’) error. FFS! The FREGAT bus is an impressive piece of equipment though.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yeah, that was a real disappointment. It appears to be a stupid human error – not updating navigation sotware to reflect a launch at a different location than typical:

      http://www.russianspaceweb.com/meteor-m2-1.html#culprit

      Although the information is still preliminary, it is increasingly clear that all the hardware aboard the Fregat upper stage performed as planned. But, almost unbelievably, the flight control system on the Fregat did not have the correct settings for the mission originating from the new launch site in Vostochny, as apposed to routine launches from Baikonur and Plesetsk. As a result, as soon as Fregat and its cargo separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle, its flight control system began commanding a change of orientation of the stack to compensate for what the computer had perceived as a deviation from the correct attitude, which was considerable. As a result, when the Fregat began its first preprogrammed main engine firing, the vehicle was apparently still changing its attitude, which led to a maneuvering in a wrong direction.

      Arrrrgggh!

      • Patient Observer says:

        Slight chance of sabotage – would not be the first time such as occurred with a Proton launch failure.

        • Drutten says:

          This was not a Proton.

          But yeah, you still have a point. There’s been a bunch of failures in recent years caused by simply unprecedented ground handling errors (assembly crew members fitting various sensors upside down and what not, things that never had occurred before, not even in the Soviet days)… And the general verdict was that it pretty much had to be deliberate, especially considering the abundance of “this side up” markings on all these things. The Russians stopped just short of blaming any foreign involvement per se, but there were a bunch of suspicious-looking layoffs that followed.

          • Patient Observer says:

            No, not this occurrence. A Proton crashed soon after launch a few years back (will look up the details later). Some accelerometers were installed backwards thereby causing the guidance computer to freak out. The acceleromters were designed to prevent improper installation, so the culprit used pliers or the like to force the connections. Clear as day, it was sabotage. There was an investigation but I did not see the conclusions.

          • Patient Observer says:

            To be clearer, I agree with your assessment. The deeper questions include were it disgruntled workers or paid saboteurs. If paid, paid by whom?

          • marknesop says:

            You must have to be pretty thoroughly vetted for that kind of work, surely?

        • marknesop says:

          If not, it was at least criminally stupid.

          • kirill says:

            It is criminal, but not stupid. Some Navalny lemming or similar is probably thinking that he is saving Russia from Putin’s totalitarianism.

      • James lake says:

        If that is the case then who checks and double checks what is done as it goes up the chain?

        If the issue is what you state – it was highlighted so quickly after – but not checked before? It does not make sense.

        • Patient Observer says:

          It would seem to take more than one person for such a screw up, whether deliberate or an accident. At the very minimum, two people would likely be involved; the person making the error and the person responsible for checking his work. Or, it could be related to a great deal of transfer of responsibilities associated with moving to a new launch site Something simply fell through the cracks.

          A number of years ago, the US had a similar screwup in which one engineering team used US units and another used metric units. This mixing of units of measure resulted in a botched computer program causing a retrorocket to fire for the wrong duration making a probe to Mars sail by and into a cold and lonely orbit to oblivion.

          http://articles.latimes.com/1999/oct/01/news/mn-17288

        • kirill says:

          This is a critical point. Updating and uploading of the flight control software would not have been some casual activity. It would have been a full cycle process. So the most likely scenario is someone deleting the update and uploading an old version.

          All the computer terminals with access to onboard systems need to be under video surveillance and hard core logging. Workers should not be able to update anything on the rocket (and the satellite) without authorization and tracking.

      • kirill says:

        Sorry, but no such error is likely. Changing the launch geometry is as vital as making sure the rocket engines work. They test rocket engines and they designate teams to modify and test the software. It would take a retard not to follow through on an update of the software before launch. Forgetting it is not an option since there have literally been years to get the job done.

        That this is a mere mistake or “screw up” is only plausible to people that don’t have experience working in project engineering teams (which are rather like science research teams working on large projects). There is typically a steering committee that oversees the various component subprojects. Changing and uploading the software would have been one of the main priorities.

        This is, by far, most likely a sabotage event. Someone deliberately removed the updated software from the onboard systems and uploaded an old version. This is not a Phobos Grunt situation where a glitch prevented a critical antenna from deploying which would have enabled restoration of control.

    • Patient Observer says:

      He was facing charges over killing Muslims. Of course, any murder is bad but the chance of a Western proxy being charged with a crime against Serbia (or Russia) is vanishingly small.

      • saskydisc says:

        Actually, the crime for which he was convicted was bombing civilian infrastructure, to wit a bridge. Reuters correctly calls the court a crime scene, but misidentified the crime[s]: impersonation of judiciary, kidnap and at minimum culpable homicide. If the ICTY were a court of law, then it would have charged the US government and allies with the war crimes of bombing all the bridges in Belgrade, and would have charged Nasser Oric for his massacres of civilians in Srebrenica municipality, rather than charge him (only to acquit him) of abusing Serb prisoners. Kidnap refers to the patently illegal arrests of Serbs that the court knew to be innocent, but decided to charge anyway. Thus the deaths in custody of these individuals are at best culpable homicide, though I fully expect the Dutch police to continue to abet these crimes.

        • et Al says:

          Tsk, journalists! What selectively forgetful memories they have! They all blamed the Serbs first for destroying the bridge in Mostar. Neither a word about the Serb minority there that was ethnically cleansed (as they were from the rest of the regions controlled by the Bosnian Moslems & Croats), but as we know, crimes are only commited by ‘the enemy’.

          As a side note, SOKO had a factory based at Mostar used to make SFRY aircraft (and lisenced foreign aircraft) including the Galeb and the jointly produced with Romania, Orao. Fortunately all the equimpent was spirited away very early on to Serbia…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOKO

          • Northern Star says:

            Evidently one must NEVER get Serbs mixed up with Croatians !!!!!

            The film footage is well worth watching for the moments of history that it captures….

            The comments are..not at all on the same page!!!!

            Ummm..I hope no Stooge is stupid enuf to think I identify with Croatian Nazi collaborators!!!

            • Northern Star says:

              Here’s a question for Stooge historians:
              Which was more pivotal in preventing Europe from becoming a Muslim Caliphate :

              Tours:
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Martel#Battle_of_Tours_in_732
              OR
              Sisak
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sisak

              • Patient Observer says:

                None of the above in the opinion of many – the Ottoman invasion was essentially blunted by the Serb resistance at the Battle of Kosovo:

                http://serbianna.com/analysis/archives/110

                The Battle of Kosovo left both the Serbian and the Turkish armies virtually destroyed and neither was able to strike a final blow against the other.

                Following the death of Sultan Murad I, who was the only Turkish Sultan ever to be killed in battle, his son Bayezid secured his own succession to the throne by having his brother Yakub killed. Weakened, the Ottoman Turks were forced to halt their advance into Europe and they returned from whence they came without pushing any further into Serbia. It wasn’t until 1459, some 70 years after the Battle of Kosovo, that the Ottomans finally managed to subdue Serbia following a slew of further battles and conflicts.

                With these things in mind, it becomes increasingly more difficult to argue that the Ottoman Turks really were the undisputed victors in the Battle of Kosovo. A powerful empire with a large and well-equipped army was stopped from advancing further into Europe by the much smaller and weaker Serbia; the Ottomans lost their Sultan and their plans for conquering the Balkans were derailed for seven decades. It is hard to imagine that the Turks would have considered this kind of outcome a decisive victory for the Ottoman Empire.

                • Jen says:

                  If I remember my Ottoman Turkish history lessons correctly, the Sultan in charge in 1459 had to be the same fellow (Mehmet the Conqueror) who in his early 20s took down Constantinople in 1453 and ended the Byzantine empire once and for all. So the Ottomans needed a truly remarkable leader to succeed in 1459 where they couldn’t succeed 70 years earlier. The only other Sultan who probably could have succeeded was Suleyman the Lawgiver aka the Magnificent. The point is, the Ottomans were very lucky to have taken Serbia when they did.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                The Poles always maintain that they saved Western Europe from the Terrible Turk in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, when the siege of that city by the Ottomans was lifted by forces led by the King of Poland, John III Sobieski, who led the relief forces.


                The Ottoman Empire in 1683

                The victory at Vienna set the stage for the reconquering of Hungary and (temporarily) some of the Balkan lands in the following years by Louis of Baden, Maximilian Emmanuel of Bavaria and Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Ottomans fought on for another 16 years, losing control of Hungary and Transylvania in the process before finally desisting. The Holy Roman Empire signed the Treaty of Karlowitz with the Ottoman Empire in 1699. The battle marked the historic end of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into EuropeWiki.

                • Jen says:

                  One possible reason the Ottomans lost that battle was that they were close to the end of their campaigning season (September) and they needed either to win outright or just wrap up and get the hell out before the onset of autumn when colder and wetter weather would have stopped them and made them vulnerable to guerrilla-style attacks. Vienna represented the utmost limits the bulk of the Ottoman army could travel (with either the Sultan or his vizier leading) from Istanbul and Anatolia even with reinforcements and food supplies from tribute rulers in the Balkans.

                  In 1566 the Ottomans tried to attack Vienna but the 3-month siege at Szigetvar in Hungary put paid to all their plans because the siege ended in September and after that, they couldn’t continue any farther. Also the reigning Sultan (Suleyman, same one I mentioned earlier in this thread) died during that siege and the Ottomans had to return to Istanbul to inter him and be present for the new Sultan to be announced and approved.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The naval victory of the “Holy League” Lepanto in 1571, when the fleets of the Venetian and Spanish Empires whacked an Ottoman fleet, also somewhat knocked Johnny Turk’s expansionist policy on the head.

                • Jen says:

                  Yes, well (harrumph), when it came to sailing on the high seas, the Ottomans were really all at sea … they did rebuild their navy after the Lepanto disaster (they lost nearly their entire fleet then) but for some reason they did not keep up with naval technological advances.

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  The Poles always maintain that they saved Western Europe from the Terrible Turk in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, when the siege of that city by the Ottomans was lifted by forces led by the King of Poland, John III Sobieski, who led the relief forces.

                  Obviously it’s speculative to talk about what would have happened to the rest of Western Europe, but I think there’s little doubt that Sobieski really did save Vienna. By the time he arrived, the Turks had already opened huge gaps all over the walls of Vienna, the casualty rate among the defenders was nearing 70%, leaving less than a third of the original force to defend the wall, the city was hungry and disease-ridden, and munitions were running low. In the absence of the Polish force, there’s no doubt that the Turks would have mounted one more attack committing all reserves before the end of the campaign season. Obviously it’s conceivable that the defenders could have held out one more time, but very unlikely. And even if the Turks had lost the last battle, they would have been able to withdraw in good order and maintain their strength. Instead, Sobieski’s force broke the back of the Turkish field army, and it never really recovered.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The Turks scarpered so quickly from the relief forces that theyhad to leave behind loads of sacks of coffee. And from that time, coffee invaded the rest of Europe and has never retreated, apart from the UK and Ireland, when tea ousted it in the early 19th century.

                  That’s why the Viennese reckon their coffee is so good: they became the first European masters at preparing it and Viennese cafés were born.

                  That’s what they reckon, anyway. .

              • Jen says:

                To be honest, when I compare the history of Spain during Muslim rule (from 711 to 1492) to most other parts of Europe during the same period – and especially France during the Roman Catholic Church’s persecution of the Cathars in the southern regions bordering the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees – I can’t help but feel Spain in many ways was more fortunate. At least most Muslim rulers in Spain tolerated (if not exactly blessed) the existence of Christianity and Judaism to the extent of employing Christians and Jews as middlemen and diplomats in their dealings with non-Muslim nations. At the very least Christians and Jews were needed to pay jizya taxes. Indeed one of the reasons that Jews were forced to leave Spain and Portugal after 1492 was that Christian monarchs never trusted them to have given up their former political loyalties.

  39. Patient Observer says:

    This is the Clinton Cult’s worst nightmare:

    http://theduran.com/rt-america-drops-massive-truth-bombs-on-clinton-mafia/

    Its awesome to see these back-to-back stories reported on RT America…stories that The Duran broke back-to-back on November 25th.

    Secret service agent is ready to blow open Bill Clinton’s “Lolita Express – Orgy Island” trips.

    A former Secret Service agent is threatening to release damaging information on former President Bill Clinton’s trips aboard the “Lolita Express” ‒ Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet. Epstein was convicted in 2008 for soliciting sex from an underage girl. RT America’s Ed Schultz discusses the potential fallout from this salacious story with host of “America’s Lawyer,” Mike Papantonio.

    Monica Lewinsky confidante says White House maids “afraid to bend over” around Bill Clinton.

    Heightened media interest in sexual harassment has brought former President Bill Clinton back into the spotlight. RT America’s David Miller reports on how the changing attitudes about the mistreatment of women have begun to reshape “Slick Willy” Clinton’s troubled legacy.

    Not copping a feel but a rapist and a child molester, Hilary’s husband. The wagons will be circled but a lot of Americans will be quite open to the possibility that Bill and Hilary are sexual degenerates abusing anything with two legs. A fitting end to these pieces of shit if the story can gain traction.

    RT will be blamed for attempting to influence American public opinion – how outrageous!

  40. marknesop says:

    Well, well; Lithuania is transferring all its Soviet-era weaponry it no longer uses (since it switched to NATO standards and bought weapons from approved distributors) to its good friend, Ukraine. This includes over 7000 AK’s and more than 2 million rounds of ammunition.

    Like the rest of the west, Lithuania just cannot seem to grasp that Ukraine was a net weapons exporter before the civil war ignited, and still seeks to sell its tanks and APC’s and the like abroad. A lack of weapons is not the problem, and it has more rifles and ammo than it knows what to do with. But the consignment will make a nice little earner for some oligarch, who will promptly put them on a plane for Africa or someplace like that and pocket a tidy sum. Just like those clapped-out scout cars the UK transferred to them, or the packaged rations from the USA – they promptly showed up for sale on online-marketing sites.

  41. marknesop says:

    Remember that recent article Ryan linked – Ted Carpenter, I think it was – on how the USA threw away its soft-power capability for all-stick-no-carrot? Well, how-to-not-be-a-jerk lessons are obviously wasted on Washington, as it now says it is opposing Turkish Stream, and announces that Nord Stream II will not be built. Otherwise, it might have to sanction European companies. I need hardly mention that neither pipeline starts or ends in the United States, or supplies any gas to it. When are people going to say “Mind your own fucking business, what say?”

    • et Al says:

      On the plus side, they wouldn’t need to say anything if the lo-land-of-Po-land and the Balts were getting their way in Brussels. This is just cheap and easy chest beating for the USA regime.

      Maybe they’re just getting it in considering the hoo-ha in Merkel’s CDU/CSU troubles in putting a coalition together. They are now talking again to the SPD – who are quite favorable on Nord Stream II, not to mention their former boss Gerhard Schroder employment post politics, so we’ll see what extra conditions they will demand from the CDU/CSU to get together. They certainly won’t accept roughly the same deal as before. Interesting times.

      • kirill says:

        I repeat: Russia needs to declare 2019 the zero gas transit via Ukraine deadline regardless of bypass pipelines. If EU-tards are too busy blowing Uncle Scumbag to care, then Russia should sell the gas to China and/or load LNG tankers for global sales. Let’s see the blowhard Ameri-tards fill the gap.

        • marknesop says:

          I pretty much agree – Russia should make it plain, in writing, that it is not going to be coerced by any stratagems to continue gas transit through Ukraine. If Europe wants to continue buying Russian gas, it had best get its skates on and get the arrangements in place to take delivery at the Russia/Ukraine border. Ukraine will be delighted to have its good friend the E-Yooooo paying it transit fees so it does not have to take the dirty Moskali’s money – but it will expect to be paid by somebody. I’m betting the E-Yooooo will not be so excited about it, though.

          Europe has to have Russian gas, because nobody else has the volumes to service its consumption. The USA could not ever do it unless it invents a means to teleport gas, and even then it does not have the kind of surplus we are talking about – it makes little sense to be a gas exporter and then buy foreign gas to service your own market. Nobody is going to ride to the rescue. And it’s just courtesy to speak plainly; I see what you’re doing, and while I am sure you have your reasons, those are not my concern. These are the consequences. Don’t say you weren’t told. Europe will call it energy blackmail, but it is nothing of the sort – merely putting one’s cards on the table. Take it or leave it. The USA is merely looking out for its own interests by saying, no pipelines. But nobody calls that energy blackmail, at least not in public. It is up to Europe if it lets itself be bullied by Washington. Sometimes you can’t tell people – you just have to let them go ahead and make a disastrous mistake.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            США опасаются “доминирования” России в Европе за счет газовых проектов

            The United States fears the “domination” of Russia in Europe due to gas projects
            05:23 01.12.2017

            MOSCOW, 1 Dec — RIA Novosti. The U.S. state Department expressed concern in connection with the implementation of Russian gas projects in Europe. American diplomats believe that the “Nord Stream — 2” and “Turkish Stream” will allow Russia to strengthen its dominance in the energy markets of the European countries and which will reduce energy independence of Europe, said the official representative of the American foreign Ministry, Heather Nauert.

            “We believe that the “Nord Stream-2” and “Turkish Stream” will contribute to the increasing dominance of Russia in Europe and lower European energy independence of Europe”, she said.

            The State Department spokesperson also expressed the view that the implementation of these projects “will allow Russia to undermine Ukraine’s position” by cutting fuel supplies to Europe via this country.

            She also expressed concern that at the end of the “Nord Stream — 2”, Russia would focus in the same direction about 75% of the total imports of gas into Europe.

            At your command, master! ……

            Denmark passes law that could ban Russian pipeline from going through its waters
            NOVEMBER 30, 2017

            • marknesop says:

              The U.S. state Department expressed concern in connection with the implementation of Russian gas projects in Europe. American diplomats believe that the “Nord Stream — 2” and “Turkish Stream” will allow Russia to strengthen its dominance in the energy markets of the European countries and which will reduce energy independence of Europe, said the official representative of the American foreign Ministry, Heather Nauert.

              What; like, less independent than it is now, you mean? When Russia supplies 39% of Europe’s natural gas imports? When Europe’s Number Two, Norway, has already passed its peak and is in decline?

              Everybody talks like Russia is going to make Europe take more gas than it can use. How would it do that? I mean, it lets the USA whip it around, but it doesn’t let everybody. Does somebody know of an alternate supplier who could take over 39% of Europe’s gas imports? I sure don’t. But Russia should maybe let Europe have one winter of dependence on Uncle Sam and his magic LNG. I think one winter would probably do it. This winter, maybe – Russia could use the extra time to work on its pipelines, do a little maintenance. Over to you, Donald. Make Europe great again.

              The State Department spokesperson also expressed the view that the implementation of these projects “will allow Russia to undermine Ukraine’s position” by cutting fuel supplies to Europe via this country.

              What?? Doesn’t anybody listen? How many analysts did you have to pay overtime to come up with that deduction? Russia announced more than two years ago that it intended to circumvent Ukraine for the purpose of transiting Europe’s gas supplies, because of its antics and its instability and its unreliability as a transit country. And I have to say it is more than suspicious that Europe insists on its gas supplies going by the riskiest route. It’s almost like they want their supply to be interrupted; almost like Ukraine is….useful, somehow.

              She also expressed concern that at the end of the “Nord Stream — 2”, Russia would focus in the same direction about 75% of the total imports of gas into Europe.

              Why, yes; it probably will. Hey! I just saw a butterfly the size of a pterodactyl!! Heather Nauert is either living in an alternate universe, or she is being deliberately stupid and pretending to be unable to add. Russia currently supplies about 39% of Europe’s gas through Nord Stream, Ukraine’s GTS, Blue Stream and Yamal. Which one of these is going to be taken out? That’s right: Ukraine’s GTS. And as of 2014 that supplied about 16% of Europe’s gas. Not 16% of that amount supplied by Russia – 16% of Europe’s total consumption. That means that amount is not going to enter Europe any more, through Ukraine. Instead – not in addition to – it is going to go through Nord Stream II. Russia will still be supplying somewhere between 35% and 39% of Europe’s gas – that is, until the inevitable and steepening decline of Europe’s traditional suppliers forces it to ask for increased supply from Russia. But that will not be energy extortion on Russia’s part – that will be energy desperation on Europe’s part.

              Denmark just makes me laugh. They must yearn to be like Bulgaria. The project has already said it has an alternate route planned which will run outside Danish waters. All of Europe and the United States are frantically passing laws which are just going to fuck them up later, all in an attempt to stop Nord Stream II. A more reliable gas supply, in favor of sending it through a system that has not had any significant maintenance in 25 years, which transits a country gripped in a civil war, in which nationalist militias have already threatened to blow up pipelines to get their grievances on the map. Put that way, Europeans sound sort of stupid, don’t they? Bring it on, Denmark. But I promise you it will be expensive, and you will regret it.

  42. Moscow Exile says:

    “God willing”?

    Why bring this thing called “god” into it?

    “China must show leadership and follow through”?

    Who is the US to tell China what it must do?

    “China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands…”

    Because you are exceptional, right?

    You do things unilaterally ‘cos you’re the top dog, right?

    Isn’t she just wonderful?

    Much better than her predecessor whom that Ukrainian jackanapes of a foreign minister used to love groping in public.

    • marknesop says:

      She looks and sounds like she’s reading a bedtime story to children, except for the speaker’s technique of reading a sentence and then looking around at everyone. I’m sure she will continue to render yeoman service in making the USA the most popular country in the world. Other countries just need a Mom to tell them the right thing to do. I’m sure that goes over well in China. Not to mention this irritating habit of differentiating between ‘governments’ and ‘regimes’. Hint: the good guys are all ‘governments’.

      Just how is the USA planning to ‘take the oil situation into its own hands’?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I find that story-reading style of hers, together with the pauses whilst she sweeps her eyes left and right, as though looking for and expecting to see the nodding of her listeners’ heads, extremely irritating.

        • Patient Observer says:

          That is a technique taught in a half-day seminar on public speaking.

        • marknesop says:

          I daresay that’s exactly what she’s doing and why she’s doing it – looking for signs of assent. She doesn’t come across as particularly smart and probably has all her lines written for her, but she has her technique down pat. It also helps camouflage the fact that she’s just reading, and not making remarks as they occur to her lightning, comprehensive foreign-policy mind.

        • Jen says:

          It’s as if she’s looking for approval as she reads from her papers. At some point in her being (not necessarily in her brain) she must feel completely out of her depth in that company every time she walks into the room and sits down at her desk.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            As a person described on here by a visitor to this site as being an “insignificant Englishman” who has cognitive problems, dare I say that the woman in question has always struck me as being not very bright?

            No, I suppose not …

            I wish I was clever …

    • Fern says:

      God (sorry, ME) I miss Churkin. Can you image what he would have done with her nonsense and Wooden-Tops style of delivery?

  43. et Al says:

    FAIR.org via Antiwar.com: Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya
    http://fair.org/home/media-nato-regime-change-war-libya-slave-markets/

    Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

    The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are for sale in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

    In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Muammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the government’s ability to resist rebel forces.

    US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with their European counterparts, insisted the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons. But political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy, 3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”…
    ####

    More at the link.

    Remember kids, regime change was an unintentional accident! How could the West have possibly known that throwing the richest African country under the bus would unravel north Africa like this? It is impossible to foresee, especially coming off the back of all the other successful regime change projects. No intent, no crime?

  44. et Al says:

    Antiwar.com: NATO Official: Alliance Should Defend Sweden, Finland if Attacked
    http://news.antiwar.com/2017/11/29/nato-official-alliance-should-defend-sweden-finland-if-attacked/

    Commodore Helseth: NATO Has Moral Obligation to Defend Nations

    …NATO’s Commodore Hans Helseth, however, argues that NATO should feel a “moral obligation” to defend Sweden and Finland militarily if either one of them gets attacked, adding the nations are welcome to join the alliance.

    Sweden and Finland have long valued their positions of neutrality, which affords them certain advantages during periods of NATO-Russia tensions. It also means they aren’t obliged by treaty to jump into any huge wars NATO gets sucked into ….
    ####

    Treaty obligations led to World War One. Look how that turned out for Europe. And here, yet another blowhard thinks lowering the bar to “moral obliagion” is smart. What could possibly go wrong?

  45. et Al says:

    Neuters via Antiwar.com: Joining NATO would help Finland’s security but unlikely for now: finance minister
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-finland-nato-financeminister/joining-nato-would-help-finlands-security-but-unlikely-for-now-finance-minister-idUSKBN1DT2ON

    Joining NATO would improve Finland’s security but is unlikely to happen any time soon because of a lack of wider support, Finance Minister Petteri Orpo said on Wednesday.

    His National Coalition Party, part of a three-party ruling coalition, had a clear position that “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security, and Finland should be part of all western institutions,” Orpo told Reuters. …

    …A poll released by the Defence Ministry on Tuesday showed only 22 percent of Finns support NATO membership while 62 percent opposed it. ..
    ####

    As long as Europe throws its children it to wars on behalf of the United States and their own corrupt politicians, it will never be independent or stand on its own two feet but it will always pay a much heavier price than Washington.

  46. et Al says:

    There’s some good stuff over at spiked-online.com that I just read on freedom of speech, self-sensorship, the twittermob etc.. It’s been far too long since I visited last. Mostly thought provoking arguments, whether you agree with them or not.

  47. Fern says:

    UCG, thanks for an interesting and genuinely alarming article. Alarming because many western countries with, originally very different health care systems to those of the US, are being railroaded into adopting more and more of the American way. It is pure ideology since the inefficiencies of the US system are not difficult to find or document.

    Some years ago, I followed an American blogger who was, sadly, diagnosed with a brain tumour for which the standard treatment was surgery followed by a course of radiation. He was insured – or so he thought – and, indeed, the surgery was covered. However, when it came to the after-treatment, the insurer refused to pay. The only way he could raise the money was to sell his house which, if he didn’t recover, meant effectively making his wife and children homeless. He decided he couldn’t do that and so didn’t have the radiation treatment. The tumour came back, his insurance company offered nothing this time around and he subsequently died. Of course, he may not have survived whatever treatment he undertook but most people feel, I think, a moral revulsion on behalf of the very ill having to make these sort of decisions, weighing up a chance of life against a family’s homelessness. I have also read of insurers pressing those diagnosed with cancer into hospice care (which, in the US means abandoning active treatments) whereas their lives might have been saved or, at least, extended by treatment.

    It’s a shocking, dehumanising system.

  48. Cortes says:

    Freedom of the Internet…

    For the second time today on accessing this site I’ve been assaulted by a barrage of rubbish from Apple and my broadband provider Talktalk…

    I suspect that the “check your device eligibility for a freebie” crap is a deliberate stratagem to make access too much of a pain in the arse.

    Funny how it never occurs when accessing the Guardian.

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