2017 Fern of England Annual Photo Caption Contest

It’s been awhile since we did one of these; at least a year, obviously.  I’d forgotten how much fun the last one was, and we had lots of great entries.  The photo is courtesy of Yalensis, from the Russian papers, and features President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a man-hug, on the occasion of the latter’s recent visit to Sochi.

Photos typically need a bit of background for context, and this one particularly so given there was a bit of a what-actually-happened media struggle over the sequence of events in Syria. According to the official Washington version, The United States of America noticed that Assad was having a bit of a tough time with this new Islamic fundamentalist group which had basically come straight outta nowhere, and which was variously titled ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State and some other tags which were less popular and which I have forgotten. Anyway, much as the United States disliked Assad and wanted him gone – owing to his practice of strafing crowds of peaceful protesters with heavy machine guns and suchlike, which it claimed he had done according to its network of Syrian opposition activists, but did not ever provide any evidence – it had noticed he was having a problem with his ISIS infestation, and reserved the right to step in wherever the emergence of a threat which might one day impact US national security was observed. Therefore, it would invite itself into Syria to fight ISIS. And since the USA always likes to have friends along to lend an international cachet to its operations, it invited its friends into Syria as well, and appointed itself head of the ‘US-led Coalition’. After nearly two years of this, Syria invited the Russian Federation and Iran’s Hezbollah in to help it defend Damascus; an initiative the United States regarded as counterproductive to say the least.

According to the alternate version – which was occasionally hinted at in the Russian press but which was never the official Kremlin analysis, at least prior to Russia committing a small contingent of forces – was that if this period of 18 months or so constituted a typical example of American suppression of a fundamentalist movement, then they sucked at it like a black hole. American air strikes returned to their bases as much as 70% of the time without having expended any ordnance, and when they did it was hard to avoid the impression that they were simply bombing ahead of ISIS fighters in order to provide a Syrian-Army-free zone for them to advance into. Despite lots of grapevine about ISIS selling oil from captured oilfields through Turkish avenues in order to raise money for its operations, including photography of oil-truck convoys, American leaders declined to bomb them because they said it would risk killing some of the truck drivers, who were helpless civilians – what did people think they were; savages?

Whichever narrative was the more accurate, the facts on the ground spoke for themselves. During the 18 or so months the United States was at the helm of the anti-ISIS effort, ISIS relentlessly advanced and consolidated territorial gains, until it controlled fully three-fourths of Syria and was in the suburbs of Damascus itself. At this point, Bashar al-Assad’s government invited the Russian Federation and Hezbollah to participate on the Syrian state’s behalf, to assist in defending it against ISIS. The American-led coalition was still present in Syria, but had never been invited. Russia responded with a small-scale force of between two and three dozen combat aircraft of various types, some Special Forces troops, a few engineers and some headquarters and communications staff. Hezbollah also sent some fighters, although I don’t recall ever seeing any official numbers. And within three weeks, certainly less than a month, the ISIS advance stopped and it was forced onto the defensive against relentless, around-the-clock air strikes. Within three months from that time, ISIS was in retreat, and except for the recapture of Palmyra – owing largely to Russian overconfidence and the early withdrawal which resulted – it never regained the initiative, fighting a rearguard action all the way back to its strongholds in Aleppo and Raqqa.

There’s much more, and I’d be happy to discuss it if people wish to do so, but the main purpose of this is the photo caption contest, which will be judged by popular acclaim at some point when we have gotten enough entries. I’ll repeat the three which have already been lodged at the previous post:

  1.   “Thank you for everything you did, my friend! The cameras shall capture our hug and give Matt an embolism.”
  2. “OK, OK, I get it, I like you too but it wasn’t that much – 35 aircraft and some Spetsnaz.”
  3. “Putin: I’ve got to tell you Bashar that now that you have defeated the takfiris and driven them out, I might have to transfer some of the aircraft and my advisors to Yemen.”
    Assad: “What?! Boo-hoo!”
    Putin: “There, there, don’t cry!”

I look forward to many amusing sallies. I still have a few of the Novorossiya tin soldiers left, and offer the choice of the remaining ones to the winner, although two are already winnings for Cortes and Vivian; I just keep forgetting to send them. Good luck to all entrants, and as before with the previous contest, your first comment must be a photo-caption entry. After you have submitted your entry, you can as usual talk about anything you like.

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96 Responses to 2017 Fern of England Annual Photo Caption Contest

  1. Evgeny says:

    I’m still listening to the recent Bi-2 album, which might explain the following photo-caption suggestion:

    Where will you be tomorrow, here or there? Hully Gully Krishna, Hully Gully Rama.

    On the topic of Syria, I’ve enjoyed reading the recent article about the expanded role played by Chechnya in the Syrian conflict in the recent year:

    Syria Deeply, A War Within a War: Chechnya’s Expanding Role in Syria by Neil Hauer

    More specifically, I’ve liked the review of recent facts, but disagree with the Hauer’s point about the origins of the second Chechen war, which also affects the quality of the conclusion he was able to reach. In fact, the most recent conflict in Chechnya was international from the onset, due to Arab fighters/missionaries who arrived to the region in mid-1990s. Contrary to what’s claimed by Hauer, Kadyrov’s father did not “defect” to the Russian side by presumably betraying his countrymen. Rather than that, he was a religious leader who didn’t like the direction where the Arabs were taking Chechnya. Which point might also provide a better explanation for Kadyrov’s recent involvement in Syria.

    To understand that context, I recommend the 2006 article which clarifies the issue of foreign involvement in the Chechen conflict:

    Al Naklah, The Arab Foreign Fighters and the Sacralization of the Chechen Conflict by Lorenzo Vidino.

  2. yalensis says:

    Putin: “Stop giggling, Bashar, the joke wasn’t THAT funny!”
    Bashir: “Hee hee, don’t let anybody see me crying like this… Those fly in the soup jokes get me every time…”
    Putin: “You haven’t even heard my best one… So, this guy calls out to the waiter…”

  3. I know Bashar, it’s so sad about all those fine people struck down by the Assad Must Go Curse.

  4. Cortes says:

    He’s Back! Leaner and Meaner!

    Huggy Bear!

  5. et Al says:

    It’s the famous Russian Beer Hug.

  6. Warren says:

    RT America
    Published on 18 Mar 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 484K
    On this week’s On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses the rise of American imperialism with Stephen Kinzer, author of “The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire”. RT Correspondent looks back to the beginning of America’s overseas expansion.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30199431-the-true-flag

  7. Nat says:

    Putin: Have you heard, they are no longer demanding that #AssadMustGo, let’s hug it out!
    Assad: It’s thanks to the Russian airstrikes; the #AssadMustGo crowd have seen their light on their road to Damascus.

    I also want to submit (and in case of victory, accept the award on her behalf) the “caption” that the US Dept. of State spokeswoman had of this photo. Apparently, Putin was giving Assad the I’m-Pressuring-You-To-Not-Launch-Chemical-Attacks hug. : ” We’ve all seen that picture where President Putin is hugging Bashar al-Assad. You know how we feel about the chemical attacks that were launched on innocent civilians in Syria. I think we all feel the same way about that as human being and certainly as Americans as well. I think that hug is proof that Vladimir Putin bears a certain responsibility for trying to help out Syria, for trying to get Bashar al-Assad to – well, trying to get that government – to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad so they don’t do something like that again.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRVqX5xqNic

  8. Cortes says:

    Telling it like it is…

    http://www.atimes.com/media-war-russia-can-lose/

    How soft power evaporates.

    • marknesop says:

      Testify, baby!! I laugh out loud now when I hear that pious American sermonizing about freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedomfreedomfreedom. But you can see why they do it. If Americans are not told daily how much amazing freedom they have and how God-damned grateful they must be for it, they might realize they don’t actually have any, and that what they are allowed to see and hear and express is in fact tightly controlled. He’s right that RT did nothing but hold up a mirror, but even that became too much for the control freaks. And even if RT was propagandizing six ways to Sunday, the whole idea of free speech is you let people make up their own minds. Surely Americans are smart enough to know when they’re being fed a line? All the major American dailies have done mocking features on how ineffective RT’s Moscow propaganda is, its piddling viewership figures, the greatly exaggerated threat from what is really just a bunch of amateurs and Kremlin stooges. But even so, apparently, it was effective enough that it had to be taken out. Now the credibility test for political reporting will be “Were you there? No? Well, I was, and they didn’t say anything like that”. Those stupid circle-jerk White House pressers are all televised anyway, and all RT needs to do is pick them apart after the fact, much as we do here. But now it will be just all glad-handing and bobble-heading and back-slapping, money for jam for the White House spokesholes, except for Matthew Lee. Nobody else holds them to account.

      Pathetic. The Land of the Free, indeed.

      • et Al says:

        I like the URL of the article …media-war-russia-can-lose/

        If losing RT or whatever is the price for the US to save face but still loose on the global stage, then I think it is quite a good one. As pointed out, there is no way Russia could compete with the massive resources and privileges the West plies its media and it really is a David v. Golaith contest, but it really is no problem letting the establishment have their (pyrrhic) victories if it does not changes the general trend which is the West becomes just one pole of a multi-polar world.

        Forcing RT to register and curtailing access is pretty piss poor. Yesterday I read that VW is looking to buy a stake in GAZ. Last week I linked a piece that GE wants a JV with UEC for small turboprops. It’s chalk and cheese. It’s much the same with the trolling this blog has faced. They can bivolate as much as they like but they are not changing anything, let alone the minds of the lurkers who come here. The best they can hope for is colony collapse. It’s a lot of effort for nothing. And therein lies the rub and by extension the West’s problem of the last twenty odd years – more noise has to be made to cover up/distract from its decline. It’s fighting with shadows.

        • et Al says:

          PS, not that I don’t want to give great credit where credit it due to RT. Still, I suspect that these initial measures to freeze RT out of top meets with journos will be under review to see if it has an effect on RT viewership and at some point down the line they will either double down or leave it be. I suspect the former as further restrictions can be wheeled out on political demand & convenience, yet again as a distraction from something else.

          • marknesop says:

            The freezing-out at White House pressers will do the USA more harm than good, since RT’s gig is more analysis than breaking news, and you don’t have to be present to do analysis when the press conference is televised. At the same time, the USA, which has in its time let the John Birch Society, the KKK and the American Nazi Party have their say, has curtailed RT. Why? Oh, sure; some will say, “Because RT is spreading lies!!” And the Washington Post doesn’t spread lies? The New York Times? CNN?? Many times the information imparted in the press conferences themselves are direct spin and lies. But the onus has always been on the audience to choose what it wants to believe in an environment in which everyone purports to be reciting factual information. No more. The rules have changed. Because the propagandists in the US government don’t like to be challenged, and where the law prevents them from taking action, they simply change the rules.

            Even RT’s critics say that it doesn’t lie, preferring instead to ‘selectively report what’s true’. You’d have a hard time finding a network anywhere that just regurgitated everything it hears, without any editorializing or spinning. So it’s not that. The government just doesn’t like the cut of its jib, and somewhere along the line the American government picked up the notion that it can just eliminate its enemies, but still blather on all the time what a free country it is.

  9. Lyttenburgh says:

    Putin: “[Sigh]. Bashar, I understand that after I’ve shown you that old article, you might find this so funny and need some time to laugh it out. But, c’mon, man – you are already laughing for half an hour! And you know that the press will blame me for being “typically late”!”

  10. laninya says:

    Bashar: Oh, Fancy Bear, Cozy Bear! Do I need a hug!
    Putin: There, there, my neighbour. Here, you are always welcome. I will never say ‘Assad must go’.

  11. Cortes says:

    Caption:

    So I guess Hillary doesn’t do the Dorothy Lamour role in “The Road to Damascus.”

    • yalensis says:

      “Bashar, you won’t believe this, but Hillary called me on the phone this morning, with a special request. She wants to team up with Donald Trump in a remake of The Road to Damascus. Hillary will do the Dorothy Lamour role, while Trump will do Bob Hope. Here’s the thing: They want to film all the exteriors on site, for maximum authenticity. Is that doable for you?”

  12. Cortes says:

    Last one. No, really.

  13. saskydisc says:

    On a more sombre note, Putin comforts Assad regarding death of the crazy Druze Zahreddine.

  14. Cortes says:

    OK, I lied.

    5 seconds after VVP telling Bashar

    “and then Hillary says ‘No, no, no, Vova! You don’t dump me cos I already dumped you!’”

  15. saskydisc says:

    Assad (sobbing): I have this awful power, this curse, which I cannot control.

    Putin (while giving hug, moves mouth in speech for aide to lipread so that Assad remains oblivious): Call Savushkina, and get them to call on Hillary’s supporters to get her to say, Assad must go.

  16. Jen says:

    The photo comes from a graphic novel that retells the ancient Greek myth of King Midas in a contemporary 21st-century setting. In this photo, King Midas is given the power to change major world events and the fate of world leaders (and by extension, the fate of millions) by touch. Trick is to guess which of the two gentlemen here is King Midas.

    • yalensis says:

      Putin is obviously King Midas, since he has bought up all the gold in the world and stored it in the Kremlin vault.
      In his manly bromance Putin gives a quick hug to his homeboy, Bashar … and recoils in horror when he realizes that he has turned Bashar el Assad into a pillar of solid gold!

      Bashar: “My mom always told me that I was the golden boy, but .. sheesh!”

  17. Jen says:

    Putin and Assad laughing after watching this Youtube video of Nikki Haley as South Carolina governor staring at the camera like a deer caught in an oncoming semi-trailer’s headlights and lying … er, talking through her teeth.

  18. saskydisc says:

    Mullah Nasruddin was known for his unorthodox doctrines, and there was a rumour spread by his Khawajirite neighbour that the good Mullah came from the land South of Rum. Said neighbour wanted to catch Nasruddin for takfir, and so proceeded to damage the relations of Nasruddin, with help from tribes beyond the Maghreb. The Aghreebian sponsors sought to aid all manner of mischief, but were not Muslim. Despite legal actions, none would condemn the ill-behaved neighbour. Thus a precedent was set.

    The good Mullah was surprised by this precedent, as he had been accused most strongly for having previously performed labour for the Aghreebian kings.

    But a precedent should not be wasted, and the good Mullah called upon another non-Muslim tribe, the Ashmaalians. The Ashmaalian king sent his brave gendarmes to stop the depredations of the Khawajirite, and Mullah Nasruddin used the prestige of a Muslim friend of the Ashmaalian king, the Amir of the Sheeshaan tribe, so called for their smoking habits, to call for a new precedent, namely that those who takfir, takfir only themselves. This precedent joined the sacred river of law.

    A tragedy then befell the Khawajirite, and an earthquake crushed his house, and his son became a cripple. Mullah Nasruddin obtained materials for a new house for his troublesome neighbour, from the Ashmaalian king.

    • saskydisc says:

      So humiliated, the Khawajirite sought to have Nasruddin condemned for hypocrisy, of using the wealth of others, not even of the faith, for his Zakat. Answered Nasruddin, damaging my property and relations on behalf of non-believers is acceptable, but Zakat is to be condemned?

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “The Ashmaalian king sent his brave _gendarmes_ to stop the depredations of the Khawajirite”

      Maybe “harbīs”, no?

      • saskydisc says:

        I was trying to use Arab terms for Muslim societies while using non-Arab terms for non-Muslim societies, although considering that a fair number of the soldiers from Russia have been Muslim, your usage may still work, so 7arbīs it is..

  19. marknesop says:

    Oh, my; former Hero of Ukraine fighter pilot and toughest prisoner ever Nadiya Savchenko, on a recent visit to Poland, announced that the President of Ukraine is ‘evil’ and that the Kiev government started the war against Donbas. There was an immediate rush to discredit her as a know-nothing, although at the time of her release from Russia there were hero parades and she was even voted into the Rada as a deputy while she was still a prisoner, so as to make her detention even more political. What a sad conclusion to the hero story – now she’s just a nut who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Just goes to show you how what you say makes the critical difference in whether the government acknowledges you are telling the truth, or condemns you as a crackpot.

    • Patient Observer says:

      I do recall the fierce criticism upon her release by the Russian government (full disclosure, I was a critic as well but gave Putin the benefit of the doubt). Chalk another one up for Russia.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        You talking about me?

      • marknesop says:

        Well, chalk another one up for Russia by pure happenstance, because I doubt Russia could have foreseen she would go off the rails as she has – remember, their experience of her is of her standing up to sing Ukrainian anthems at the top of her lungs when she was being sentenced. But there is no doubt her release was seen by Ukraine as a massive diplomatic victory, and its gloating was palpable. She’s certainly a unique problem for them now; she’s sufficiently well-known that she couldn’t just conveniently disappear, while it was the state’s own maudlin buildup of her astonishing achievements and heroism that made her a folk figure. Funny old world, innit?

        Oddly enough, her personal courage in traveling to Donbas unescorted, considering her admitted part in shelling them, to visit Ukrainian troops puts her in the best political position of anyone else in Ukraine to effect some sort of reconciliation. Savchenko, with the proper authority, could make the Minsk agreements work, at least up to the point they were designed to work.

        I’m frankly surprised the Ukie government did not think of just blowing up her transport and saying the Separatists killed her. She was right there; it would be believable.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Perhaps Russia got lucky but I think that they understood her psychology well enough that, at a minimum, she would discredit herself in some manner and, at best, appear to flip which seems to be the case. Basically, the Russians may have detected that she had a sense of integrity about her to some degree. Integrity and support of most Western actions do not mix.

          At the same time, I agree that a major motivation was to simply to get rid of her as a symbol of heroic resistance that would have been amped up by the Western MSM.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      How the Ukraine have changed after the victory of the “Revolution of Dignity”, explained in two photos of Ihor Mosiychuk:


      ^ early 2015


      ^ late 2017

  20. marknesop says:

    The Kyiv Post seems to have fallen out of love with President Poroshenko, publishing a detailed and very unflattering update on his appearance in the Panama Papers, in which he leads the list of 11 wealthy Ukrainians who appeared. Laughter warning: Poroshenko claims – through his lawyers, of course – with what I imagine was a straight face, that he set up those tax shelters in order to maximize the tax he paid in Ukraine, not to minimize it. I warned you. Apparently his faith in his own believability is invincible; that, or he is a pathological liar, and that is a possibility.

    I think he must be pretty close to the worst president Ukraine has ever had, and that’s saying something. He seems to just lie reflexively. Anyway, check it out; lots of juicy details.

    • Cortes says:

      I got as far as the following “fuck me gently with a wire brush” paragraph before surgery was required:

      Appleby’s Rejected Business Log, contains the note on Poroshenko, indicating concern about his plans to retaliate against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and likely reputational risk for the firm.

  21. marknesop says:

    Washington still beavering away, with the assistance of its asset Grigory Rodchenkov, at getting Russia completely eliminated from international sport. Hmmm…Sputnik claims Rodchenkov wrote his diaries after he fled to the United States, and it is further alleged that he could have remotely accessed the Moscow database after his arrival in the USA, and performed edits which would make the database conform to his story. Well, couldn’t they demonstrate that? Surely there must be some record of remote access if it occurred.

    • karl1haushofer says:

      Eternal problem for Russia: traitors.

      • marknesop says:

        Oh, I imagine he was substantially encouraged in his treason, and is enjoying quite a comfortable living in the USA. It’s not quite the same thing as a genuine malcontent who perceives a social injustice, and wants to yell about it from the safety of another country. Rodchenkov is making things up and rewriting history, and Washington is paying him to do it. That’s a bit beyond being a simple traitor.

        • Jen says:

          “… Rodchenkov is making things up and rewriting history, and Washington is paying him to do it …”

          Until such time of course as his usefulness to Washington ends and the cheques stop coming in the mail. Then Rodchenkov may “discover” where his loyalties lie and after that, he will be a marked man. Rodchenkov should enjoy his comfortable living while it lasts as it may not last very long.

        • davidt says:

          One of the most fascinating aspects of this sorry episode is how Vitaly Mutko’s political career continues to prosper. Assuming that in fact he is not corrupt, he has to be one of the most incompetent ministers ever to blight a government. I haven’t any feel for Kremlin politics but I find it fascinating that the only minister whom, I am aware, Putin has publicly criticized is Dmitry Rogozin. Whatever faults Rogozin might have, I don’t think that it can be seriously doubted that he is on top of his brief.

      • Patient Observer says:

        The Western elites do indeed attract scum for hire. If that is a problem, it is a good problem for Russia to have – sort of like living close to a garbage dump that draws the rats away from your home.

  22. Warren says:

    • Warren says:

    • Warren says:

      • marknesop says:

        If this works out the way it appears to be heading, England will get a taste of what Europe had planned for Russia. Scotland and Ireland will continue to enjoy a relaxation of tariffs with the European Union, and EU products will make their way into England through its former constituents, competing with local industry.

    • Warren says:

    • Warren says:

    • Warren says:

    • Warren says:

  23. et Al says:

    Another photo caption: From one heavyweight to another.

  24. et Al says:

    The UNZ Review via Antiwar.com: There’s No Such Thing as Precise Air Strikes in Modern Warfare
    http://www.unz.com/pcockburn/theres-no-such-thing-as-precise-air-strikes-in-modern-warfare/

    Patrick Cockburn

    The final elimination of Isis in Iraq and Syria is close, but welcome though the defeat of these monstrous movements may be, it has only been achieved at the cost of great destruction and loss of life. This is the new face of war which governments try to conceal: a limited number of combat troops on the ground call in devastating air strikes from planes, missiles and drones, be they American or Russian, to clear the way for their advance.

    Governments pretend that air wars today are very different from Vietnam half a century ago when towns were notoriously “destroyed in order to save them”. These days air forces – be it the Americans in Iraq, the Russians in Syria or the Saudis in Yemen – say that this mass destruction no longer happens thanks to the greater accuracy of their weapons: using a single sniper, a room in a house can supposedly be hit without harming a family crouching in terror in the room next door….
    ####

    More at the link.

    How times have changed. Now that there are far more of these expensive wonder weapons, they get used more. So they maybe more expensive, but you’ll only need one aircraft or one mission to accomplish your aim, so you save on a/c wear ‘n’ tear, fuel, risk etc. Annnnd, if the enemy has been truly demonized, then anyone who’s near by kind of deserves it as they should have got out already. Ahhh, the joy and peace of precision death from above!

    • Patient Observer says:

      The Russians seem to use military force much more sparingly than the US or its allies. It makes good long term sense as excessive destruction breeds long term enemies. Besides, Russia knows the horror of war better than most if not all other nations so there would be an almost instinctual aversion to unnecessary violence. It was certainly the case in Syria.

  25. et Al says:

    (cr)AP via Antiwar.com: [b]Saakashvili calls for protest camp in Ukraine’s capital[/b]
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/saakashvili-calls-protest-camp-ukraines-capital-150644406.html

    [i]Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who has emerged as an anti-corruption campaigner, urged Ukrainians Sunday to set up a protest camp in Kiev’s main square if parliament fails to adopt a law on presidential impeachment within a week….[/i]
    ####

    More at the link.

    This word order change makes the headline much better:

    [b]Saakashvili calls for camp protest in Ukraine’s capital[/b]

  26. et Al says:

    cr(AP) via Antiwar.com: Latvia bans Russian judges from military simulation contest
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/latvia-bans-russian-judges-military-simulation-contest-155409106.html

    An association of airsoft players in Latvia is expressing outrage after three Russian contest judges were deported before the start of a tournament for teams that use replica weapons and plastic pellets in military simulations.

    The Latvian Airsoft Players Association said the Open Baltic Airsoft Cup 2017 will be rescheduled after the Russians were banned from the one-day competition.

    The association said it communicated “intensively” with Latvian authorities ahead of the “sport event” that was expected to draw about 300 participants. It says the tournament likely will be moved to another country.

    The Russian judges entered Latvia legally. However, Latvia’s Security Police told the Baltic News Service “an efficient control mechanism” was needed to prevent “military tactical trainings in Latvia.”

    Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are concerned about Moscow’s military muscle in the Baltic region.

  27. et Al says:

    Neuters: Russian military working on deal to use Egyptian air bases: document
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-egypt-military-airspace-planes/russian-military-working-on-deal-to-use-egyptian-air-bases-document-idUSKBN1DU11D

    Russia’s government published a draft agreement between Russia and Egypt on Thursday allowing both countries to use each other’s air space and air bases for their military planes.

    The draft deal was set out in a decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Nov. 28, which ordered the Russian Defence Ministry to hold negotiations with Egyptian officials and to sign the document once both sides reached an agreement. ..

    …Russian and Egyptian war planes would be able to use each other’s air space and airfields by giving five days advance notice, according to the draft agreement, which is expected to be valid for five years and could be extended.
    ####

    Imagine, Russian planes based in western Egypt, not to mention Russia gets on quite well with neighboring Sudan.

    In other news, rail based ICBMs on hold:

    Ракеты на рельсы не встанут
    https://rg.ru/2017/12/02/razrabotka-boevyh-zheleznodorozhnyh-kompleksov-novogo-pokoleniia-prekrashchena.html

    Разработка боевых железнодорожных комплексов прекращена

    Тема создания ракетных поездов нового поколения закрыта, во всяком случае на ближайшую перспективу. Об этом сообщил информированный представитель оборонно-промышленного комплекса России.

  28. et Al says:

    SputnikNews via spacedaily.com: EU exempts fuel for ExoMars mission from Russian sanctions
    http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/EU_Exempts_Fuel_for_ExoMars_Mission_From_Anti_Russian_Sanctions_999.html

    …”On November 30, 2017, the Council adopted Decision (CFSP) 2017/2214 in order to permit certain operations concerning hydrazine (CAS 302-01-2) in concentrations of 70 % or more, which is included in the Common Military List of the European Union,” the Council of the European Union’s regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union reads…

    … The EU Common Military List regulates the scope of military items controlled for export in the EU pursuant to the EU Common Position on arms exports.

    The sanctions were introduced under the 2015 amendment order, imposing sanctions on Russia over events in Ukraine…
    ####

    The EU’s easy dick move was inconvenient, so they made an exemption. Pop Quiz: Now where has the EU done something similar before?

  29. et Al says:

    2017 Grand Prix Royal Canin international cat show, Moscow:

    http://anadoluagency.com/en/pg/photo-gallery/2017-grand-prix-royal-canin-international-cat-show-held-in-moscow/0

    Sanctions? Nooobody holds sanctions against cats!

  30. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah GONAD (God’s Own News Agency Direct): UK foreign aid money ‘diverted to extremists’ in Syria
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42217132

    The government has suspended a foreign aid project after a BBC Panorama investigation found taxpayers’ cash was being diverted to extremists in Syria.

    Officers from a UK-backed police force in Syria have also been working with courts carrying out brutal sentences.

    A UK government spokesman said it takes allegations of co-operation with terrorist groups “extremely seriously”.

    Adam Smith International, the British company running the project, said it strongly denies the allegations.

    The Free Syrian Police (FSP) was set up following the uprising in Syria, to bring law and order to parts of the country that were controlled by opposition forces.

    Adam Smith International (ASI) has been running the project since October 2014….
    ####

    Oh what a f(*£ing surprise. In two years time, al-beeb s’allah will discover that the Shite Helmets and their Netflix Oscar for Documentaries are a bunch of Jihadi PR ‘hoes.*

    * Gardening tool.

  31. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah GONAD (God’s Own News Agency Direct): Christmas tree snagged in power lines on way to Kiev
    http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-42222727

    …However, when the tree got stuck in overhead electrical wires, and its journey was halted, some on Twitter called it a ‘sign from nature’…


    ####

    Lolz!

    • Patient Observer says:

      Dragging a tree for miles?

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      That’s nothing! Look at this Christmas/New Year Tree on the central square of Chisinau, Moldova:

      The Ukrainian New Year tree became the main scandal in Chisinau

      “…But the view of the tree, which was acquired for 15,000 lei ($ 873) from the city budget, was pathetic (see the photo) – they say, it suffered during transportation.

      Acting Mayor of Chisinau Sylvia Radu promised to buy a new tree at her own expense. And a new Christmas Tree 19 meters high was cut down … from the kindergarten in Chisinau. This caused even greater outrage among the residents of the Moldovan capital.

  32. marknesop says:

    Here’s a good example of how the Mueller Investigation is finding a whole lot of nothing, but that does not stop the media from filling in the blanks itself.

    She said: “Trump aide J.D. Gordon said at the Republican Convention in 2016 that Trump directed him to support weakening [the USA’s position on supporting Ukraine[ in the official platform.” Ultimately, the softer position was adopted. Denman is scheduled to meet this week with the House and Senate Intelligence committees to discuss what she saw, said two sources familiar with the briefings.

    He said: “I dispute her recollection of events…Trump wasn’t involved in the GOP Platform details. That was my job. Individual delegates didn’t have the authority to force their positions on the campaign…I am not getting into a ‘he said, she said’ with the media about Diana Denman or anyone else…Trump said on the campaign trail that he didn’t want World War III over Ukraine. And he wanted better relations with Russia. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that arming Ukraine isn’t consistent with those two positions.”

    Yet NPR still draws this conclusion: What has since become clear is that at the time of the convention, Russia was running a broad series of “active measures” against the U.S. presidential election that included clandestine outreach by human agents and an overt information campaign on social media. That wasn’t known to the public then, but Mueller and congressional investigators have begun looking into whether anyone in the Trump camp helped the Russians who were attacking the election.

    The change to the Ukraine platform in Cleveland has attracted attention because it has raised questions about whether it might have been evidence of communications between Russians and the Trump campaign, or was intended by the Trump team as some kind of a signal to the Russians about their willingness to accommodate them.

    Embarrassing.

  33. Another Israeli air strike on Damascus happened about an hour ago. No response from either Syria or Russia.

  34. Warren says:

  35. marknesop says:

    “Ummmm….Bashar….where’s your other hand?”

    There, that’s mine. But it cannot be considered for competition, because I cannot win. That’s, you know, why I went for the cheap laugh.

    • Cortes says:

      Great!

      You should hold the prize over until next year.

      I suspect that since Russia is friendless that that’s a blowup doll of Assad. But the issue of the potentially pneumatic hand remains to be blown out of all proportion.

  36. Moscow Exile says:

    ОБ ИНОСТРАННЫХ СРЕДСТВАХ МАССОВОЙ ИНФОРМАЦИИ, ВЫПОЛНЯЮЩИХ ФУНКЦИИ ИНОСТРАННОГО АГЕНТА

    FOREIGN MASS MEDIA ACTING AS FOREIGN AGENT

    12/05/2017 In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation “On Mass Media” and decisions made by the Ministry of Justice of Russia, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL), TV Channel Present Time , The Tatar-Bashkir Service of Radio Liberty (AzatliqRadiosi), “Sibir. Reality”, “Idel.Reality”, “Factograph”, Kavkaz.Reality, Krym.Reality have been recognized as foreign media performing the functions of a foreign agent.

    They henceforth shall not be allowed into the State Duma.

    Fuck them all off!

    And tell them to shove their pseudo-freedoms and democracies up their collective arses!

    • marknesop says:

      Not that it will make a great deal of difference – western reporting on Russia has always had a bit of a dreamlike quality; even when they were right there, they’re always seeing imagined insurrection opportunities and inspiring opposition figures where they don’t exist. The government is always unstable and fearful of the power of the people, except when the west had a hand in putting that government in place. Then even when its popularity is down to single digits, it is strong and unassailable and the people are know-nothings.

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