Hey, Democracy! Why Do You Bother to Vote?

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Uncle Volodya says, “The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.”

“There are no nations, just large corporations
Flying the flag of the day;
From dawn of creation to civilization
Please don’t take my music away..”

From “Joe Fabulous“, by Bad Company

A quote which goes, “If voting actually made any difference, they wouldn’t let you do it” is often attributed – apparently incorrectly – to American humorist and author Mark Twain. Snopes doesn’t know who actually said it, or if anyone ever did, although there are various close versions. For instance, this rant by Robert S. Borden, from the Lowell Sun in 1976:

“Has it ever dawned on the editors that the attitudes of the 70 million projected non-voters may be very consistent with the reality that the concept of voting and electing representatives is basically dishonest and fraudulent? If voting could change anything it would be made illegal! There is no way any politicians can legally represent anyone because he was elected on a secret ballot by a small percentage of voters. He then claims to represent the people who voted against him and even those who wisely chose not to participate in such criminal activity.”

The sentiment was around long before 1976, so he certainly wasn’t the originator. But even without attribution, the notion that voting is just a pointless, slightly pathetic activity which provides the zealous and the patriotic with the illusion that their participation somehow informs and guides national leadership has been around for a long time, and has grown like jimson weed in the fertile ground of government brainlessness. More and more, the electorate is fed up with going dutifully to the polls, only to see another scion of a privileged family up there under the lights giving the clasped-hands victory sign. They see the national leadership forget all his/her promises before the air has even cooled where they were just standing, or within a couple of months when they acknowledge by God, it is going to be tougher than I thought.

Who would ever have imagined Justin Trudeau, poster-boy for quirky LGBTQ issues and social-justice causes – and eye-wateringly incompetent social-hand-grenade at everything else – would morph into an hysterical tyrant, yelling that you don’t have to get vaccinated, but don’t think that if you don’t, you will still be able to get on a plane or a train beside decent folks, and shed your COVID cooties all over them. All right, I might be paraphrasing a little. What he actually said wasIf you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your choice. But don’t think you can get on a plane or a train beside vaccinated people and put them at risk!

As the author of the linked reference piquantly pointed out – how does your unvaccinated proximity threaten the vaccinated? If you are vaccinated, aren’t you immune?

Perhaps this would be a good place to highlight the CDC’s latest venture into revisionist history; I’m sure everyone recalls their earlier below-the-radar reinvention of ‘herd immunity’ so that the new text made no mention of the possibility it could be acquired through natural infection and recovery – nope, it was the product of vaccination. Well, they’ve done it again; this time, to ‘vaccine’. See if you can spot the difference. Old definition.

Vaccine: A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.

New definition.

Vaccine: A preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but some can be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.

Did you spot the difference? Yeah; a vaccine no longer has to confer ‘immunity’, only ‘protection’, which is open to a much greater degree of interpretation. Given it mitigates your symptoms if you do get infected, isn’t that ‘protection’? The brighter among you may have noticed the definitions of ‘vaccination’ and ‘immunization’ have also been modified to remove any reference to ‘immunity’. The buzzword now is ‘protection’.

Talking of the redefining of herd immunity, let’s just take a closer look at that. Because the government keeps holding out the prospect – if only a few more people will roll up their sleeves and take the gene-jab – as if it were a realistic goal. Is it? You tell me. I’ll let math-boy sum it up, because, as Geoffrey Rush said in the character of Cap’n Barbosa of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, there were a lot of big words in there; we’re nobbut ‘umble pirates.

“So, to achieve herd immunity we need to make sure that at least a proportion of $1-1/R_0$ of the population is immune. For an $R_0$ of 2.5, the higher end of the estimates for COVID-19, this means that we need to get at least a proportion of $1-1/2.5=0.6$ of the population immune. This translates to at least 60%…How do we do this? Well, ideally we would do it by vaccinating at least 60% of the population. In the absence of a vaccine, we can hope that this level of immunity will be achieved naturally, by people becoming sick and then immune. But because a lot of people die of COVID-19 we can’t just let the disease wash over the population, confident in the knowledge that more infections mean more immunity. “

Fair warning; the referenced site is sympathetic to herd immunity being achieved through vaccination, although at the time of writing, none was available. It has since become fashionable to pretend this is our goal through vaccinations, and that if some of those crackpot conspiracy-theorist anti-vaxxers would just think of their community for a minute, why, we’d be there. Continue reading “Hey, Democracy! Why Do You Bother to Vote?”

Washington Pretends it was Always the Manager of Nord Stream II

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Uncle Volodya says, “All over, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”

“Narcissists are very retaliative if they believe another has achieved what they desire, exposed their insecurities, or refused to be under their control.”

-Lorraine Nilon

Well, it’s official: Washington has ‘decided’ to stop opposing the Nord Stream II pipeline from Russia to Germany, and has struck an agreement with the latter for the pipeline’s completion. Nord Stream II is a twin pipeline laid alongside the original, which has been operational since November 2011. Nord Stream already consists of two lines, the first opened in November 2011 and the second in October 2012. Nord Stream II will double that again, and increase pumping capacity to well over 100 BcM at maximum volume.

There’s a certain art – which Washington has perfected – of continuing to spin even when you failed to get your own way so that failure looks like a kind of success. A skill that allows you to pretend everything is unfolding exactly as you had planned it would, so that you even appear to believe it yourself. And few can surpass the arch-demoness of the US Department of State, Victoria Nuland, in that arena. Listen to her strut and swagger (translated by Moscow Exile).

“We imposed significant sanctions in May on an additional 19 organizations, and we also imposed sanctions on the [pipeline] operator and employees, but we suspended them in the interest of seeing if we could get Germany to work with us, the Ukraine and Poland on the issue of the consequences and vulnerabilities that this pipeline creates for the Ukraine,”, Nuland said.

“We have not taken any action to [force] the Ukraine to remain silent. The Ukraine is a sovereign country and speaks for itself”, the diplomat said, commenting on the Politico newspaper article about Washington’s alleged demand for Kiev to stop criticizing the pipeline.

“Today we will publish the agreement that we have reached with the German government. I can provide you with a number of details here”, she said.

According to Nuland, within the framework of agreements with the United States on the Nord Stream 2 project, Germany has undertaken to seek the development of pan-European sanctions against Moscow in the event of aggressive steps by Russia against the Ukraine.

“Among other things, Germany has pledged to take measures at the national level, as well as to seek the application of effective measures at the European level, including sanctions, to limit Russia’s export potential to Europe in the energy sector if Russia tries to use energy resources as a weapon or commits further aggressive acts against the Ukraine. This is one aspect of this agreement”, she said.

In addition, Nuland noted, Berlin, within the framework of the agreement with Washington on Nord Stream 2, had agreed to support the extension of the agreement on the transit of energy carriers between Russia and the Ukraine, which expires in 2024. The United States is seeking to extend this agreement for 10 years, said the deputy head of American diplomacy. “Another aspect of the agreement is support for the extension of the transit agreement between Russia and the Ukraine. As you know, it expires in 2024. We will seek with all the levers of influence for an additional 10 years for the Ukraine,”, Nuland said.

To shorten all that up for you, in case high-octane political bullshit makes your eyes glaze over, the United States ordered Russia not to complete the Nord Stream II pipeline, emboldened by its unqualified success in stopping its predecessor, South Stream. Russia kept plodding ahead. The United States gestured mystically, and international sanctions rained down upon Russia’s head. It turned up its collar, set its feet and resumed plodding ahead. When the pipeline was nearly completed, the United States ordered Russia’s Swiss pipelaying partner, Allseas, to abandon the project or face American sanctions, and the company immediately put its tail between its legs and scampered away. Russia brought its own pipelayers into service to finish the project. Increasingly frantic, the United States began probing and brainstorming how best to manage the catastrophe…and settled on the German marshmallow as the weak link.

A Workplace Guide to Managing Your Control Freak Colleague

Perhaps it’s unsubstantiated nostalgia on my part, but I remember the United States being a lot better at strategy. You’re never on your best game when you’re an habitual aggressor who is playing defense, but not even that accounts for the misplaced triumph of a fabricated win after a bunch of flailing around that has achieved more or less nothing. The USA’s aim, ostensibly, is to force Russia to continue transiting gas to Europe via Ukraine, and paying Ukraine a lucrative premium for the privilege. This, in turn, is so the United States can impose a measure of control both over Russia’s ability to transit gas, and over Europe’s ability to receive it, by stirring up trouble in Ukraine. It is fairly plain Washington intends to manipulate circumstances in Ukraine so as to create a situation in which Germany must keep its promise to petition for more sanctions if Russia is ‘acting aggressively’. However, as soon as Nord Stream II is complete, Ukraine will have lost nearly all its strategic value. Continue reading “Washington Pretends it was Always the Manager of Nord Stream II”

Look Out the Left, the Captain Said: the Capture of Roman Protasevich

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Uncle Volodya says, “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”

Star bright, star bright, you got the lovin’ that I like;
Turn this crazy bird around…
Should not have got on this flight tonight

From “This Flight Tonight“, by Nazareth

For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.

Noam Chomsky, from ” Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World 

When news happens, there is a rush on the part of the press to get it out there, hopefully so that their paper or reporter is the one to bring it to you first. This race to be your headline eye-candy king is greatly simplified by having a preformed narrative bias – if we did it, or one of our close allies did it, it was either good or it was an honest mistake; you have to laugh, really, our intentions were so good and look how it turned out. If our enemies did it, or even those who are in arrears on their friendship dues, it’s because they are rotten to the marrow of their wicked bones, and of course there was the basest of evil intent behind it. The story almost writes itself, you just need to plug in a few assumed facts here and there, wind up with a bit of soulful off-the-cuff analysis, maybe a reasonably-safe prediction (“there will be consequences”, said a government source who cannot be named…), et voila!

I usually don’t like to do that. Well, partly it’s because I am often too busy to sit down and write the moment I hear something; I just don’t have the time. But also, I like to give it a couple of days – often, there are major changes in the original storyline, which I often heard entirely one side of anyway, and sometimes there is a complete and embarrassing reversal, in which I would have been complicit had I jumped on the bandwagon.

This story is not like that. There have been some major revelations and mitigations, but we are still left with a lot of questions. Let’s start out with what we know, or think we know. The description of events lifted straight from TASS seems to me to describe the ‘known knowns’ – to borrow from legendary cold warrior Donald Rumsfeld – as well as any I have seen, or at least it more or less encapsulates what I know;

Protasevich was detained on May 23. On that day, a Vilnius-bound Ryanair plane that took off from Athens made an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport after a reported bomb threat. After the landing, the plane was inspected and no bomb was found on board. Among the passengers on that flight was Protasevich who was wanted by Belarusian authorities. Protasevich was detained by law enforcement agents once the plane had landed in the Belarusian capital. Russian national Sofia Sapega was also detained together with him.

However, there is a great deal more to the story than that, and you can usually make a fairly safe bet that when an immediate western pile-on ensues – given its typically lackadaisical organization where domestic and international affairs are concerned – there is something about it that plays directly to its interests, rather than the non-partisan by-Jove-we-will-have-fair-play-wot-wot that it pretends.

And there was a lot of that; a lot of fist-shaking and blustering about ‘air piracy’ and ‘hijacking’, a lot of hyperbole by sources who would pretty much be living on government assistance programs if hyperbole was not allowed. Serial fabricator and English gasbag Luke Harding, for instance. He has more or less abandoned journalism altogether in favour of waiting for major events to fall in his lap, and simply stringing together a series of comments on them. Here’s a fine example:

Friends have wryly noted that the thunderous and very public manner of his arrest is in keeping with his outsized career and personality. “Everything he does is loud,” Nicolai Khalezin, who has known him for a decade, said. “The riot police came and arrested me. Roma got a fighter jet.”

Anyone with an ounce of journalistic integrity, and a brain that exceeded roughly the same deadweight, would know a couple of things which would have precluded putting one’s real name to such tosh. One, the riot police do not patrol or execute offsite arrests; they provide security at events which have the potential to turn into riots, and when they do, arrest people who showed up; therefore, Khalezin has attributed ‘came’ to the wrong authority. If he ‘came’ to a protest and it got out of hand, perhaps the riot police arrested him there. If he was arrested somewhere other than at such an event, it probably was not by the riot police. But that’s semantics. What I particularly wanted to point out is that escort of civil aviation which is making an emergency landing, owing to a potentially dangerous situation onboard, by a military aircraft is standard procedure since the momentous events of 9-11. The polite and peaceful Canadians go so far as to suggest sending two fighter planes is ‘an appropriate response’.

Maj. Holly Apostoliuk said NORAD officials don’t have time to verify a threat is genuine before responding. “Considering the time available when information is received about a potential threat to an aircraft, one does not have time for a full investigation, and neither would anyone want us to do so,” Apostoliuk told The Canadian Press. “The point is, based on the information, to do all we can to ensure a safe landing of the aircraft.”

Quite. This would seem to be affirmed by Air Traffic Organization policy guidance in the event of a bomb threat received while the aircraft is airborne.

  • When information is received from any source that a bomb has been placed on, in, or near an aircraft for the purpose of damaging or destroying such aircraft, notify the supervisor or facility manager. If the threat is general in nature, handle it as a suspicious activity. When the threat is targeted against a specific aircraft and you are in contact with that aircraft, take the following actions as appropriate:
    1. Advise the pilot of the threat.
    2. Report the threat to the Domestic Events Network (DEN) Air Traffic Security Coordinator (ATSC) via (202) 493-4170. If unable to contact the DEN ATSC notify the Transportation Security Administration/Transportation Security Operation Center (TSA/TSOC) directly at 703-563-3400.
    3. Ask if the pilot desires to climb or descend to an altitude that would equalize or reduce the outside air pressure/existing cabin air pressure differential. Obtain and relay an appropriate clearance considering minimum en route altitude (MEA), minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA), minimum reception altitude (MRA), and weather.

NOTE − Equalizing existing cabin air pressure with outside air pressure is a key step which the pilot may wish to take to minimize the damage potential of a bomb.

    1. Handle the aircraft as an emergency, and/or provide the most expeditious handling possible with respect to the safety of other aircraft, weather conditions, ground facilities, and personnel.

NOTE − Emergency handling is discretionary and should be based on the situation. With certain types of threats, plans may call for a low-key action or response.

  1. Obtain and relay clearance to a new destination, if requested.
  2. When a pilot requests technical assistance or if it is apparent that such assistance is needed, do NOT suggest what actions the pilot should take concerning a bomb, but obtain the following information and notify the supervisor who will contact the DEN ATSC or TSA/TSOC as explained in a2 above.

Continue reading “Look Out the Left, the Captain Said: the Capture of Roman Protasevich”

Run Silent, Run Deep. But Not So Deep that the Halfwits Won’t Get It.

Uncle Volodya says, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

I crossed the ocean, where no one would see
And I put a time-bomb in your submarine;
Goodbye to old friends, the secret’s in hand
With phonied up papers, and counterfeit plans…

Alice Cooper, from “Halo of Flies

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Noel Langley, from “The Wizard of Oz

I’ve been wanting to get to this story for some time, but things – like work – keep getting in the way. I would have much preferred to get it out there while it was hot off the press: but even now that it has cooled a bit, it remains evident that western automatic disparagement of anything Russian has metastasized to the point that westerners dare not use a Russian-made spoon to eat their breakfast, lest it lunge at your face in its idiot violence and put your eye out. Russian policy is reckless and destructive, Russian-made coronavirus vaccines are just cheap weapons supporting its pursuit of linebacker diplomacy, and even the most innocent-appearing technology produced by the benighted country is infected with menace.

Consider Deutsche Welle‘s squeals of panic (actually, they are squealing in panic over a story which originally appeared in Bild, implying a general German-media panic) over the installation in German military vessels – even, ich kann es nicht glauben, submarines! – of Russian-built navigational aids. Sohn einer Hündin! What were the naval architects thinking?? Did they not realize the Russians build backdoors and exploitable vulnerabilities into the simplest devices, so that they can later make you chop your finger off, or drive into a wall or something??

The British press was quick to pick it up – absolutely unacceptable, old chap. Those systems must be ripped out as quickly as it can be carried out, and replaced with reliable NATO systems made by an honest western manufacturer.

The thing is, Transas – the maker of these Navaids (a portmanteu of ‘navigational aids’) – builds about 35% of the navigational systems used by world shipping, and about 45% of the trainers. The company was acquired by Wartsila of Finland in 2018, but the defense division remains Russian. It sounds to me as though the alarm was perhaps raised by some commercial entity which builds similar systems, and which would like to see its global market share rise by 35%. Continue reading “Run Silent, Run Deep. But Not So Deep that the Halfwits Won’t Get It.”

Doctor Politico, Reliable Journatard.

Uncle Volodya says, “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”

“We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.”

Carl Bernstein

Don’t wanna be an American idiot,
One nation controlled by the media;
Information age of hysteria…

Green Day, from “American Idiot

Is there, anywhere in the great trackless expanse of the internet, a pseudo-news site more gratuitously insulting, more deliberately offensive than Politico?

I have to say, the hysterical, grunting, wild-eyed hatred routinely on show there reminds me of La Russophobe in her prime. Its reliance on anyone who will say what it wants to hear reminds me of her sycophantic celebration of the ‘work’ of Paul Goble, deep thinker and self-confessed former CIA spook operating from darkest Taunton, Virginia. Once described by Mark Adomanis – remember him? Lithuanian by descent, referred to Edward Snowden as the worst kind of traitor until outed by a commenter as a former employee himself of Booz Allen Hamilton, the security consultancy which had employed Snowden – as ‘a whore who trawls through the lowest gutter press in Russia such as Novaya Gazeta, translates their articles and passes them off as analysis’. Anyway, the default mode at Politico is ‘unhinged’, while its agenda is as easy to see as a turd in a punchbowl, and about as edifying.

The example I’m most recently acquainted with is this hatchet job on Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Let me say up front that I am not a believer in any of the current magic vaccines, and am not interested in being vaccinated with any of them. However, this nakedly partisan attack is in a class by itself; over-the-top hyperbole that labels everything that comes from Russia a weapon. Let’s take a look.

The piece starts out neutrally enough, mentioning – accurately, enjoy it, because that might be the last time you see it for awhile – that the Russian vaccine was given the stamp of approval by The Lancet, Europe’s leading and most-respected medical journal. I would just point out here, in fairness, that The Lancet is as guilty of political bias as anything in print, and only last year was forced to withdraw its approval of a study which found hydroxychloroquine completely ineffective against the symptoms of coronavirus, and even hazardous to health. It transpired the study relied on a database which was mostly bullshit, and was overseen by a director at Brigham & Women’s Health Hospital which was at that time carrying out a trial of Remdesvir, hydroxychloroquine’s rival and a clear conflict of interest. As if that were not enough, America’s ‘leading infectious disease expert’, Dr. Anthony Fauci – living proof that if you claim every possible position on an issue, you are bound to be right on one of them – also piled on that no randomized, placebo-controlled studies have found hydroxychloroquine to be effective. For the record, it is possible if not probable that hydroxychloroquine’s studied efficacy was due to other factors. That does not change the fact that if Dr. Fauci told me my own name, I would check my driver’s license to make sure he was not lying.

Be that as it may, Politico quickly shifted into its customary sneering derision. It also wants you to know that Moscow ‘humiliated’ EU leader Josep Borrell when all he wanted to do was congratulate Russia on its success. In fact Borrell was in Moscow to talk about the Sputnik V vaccine, with a view to securing some doses for the EU. And if he had confined himself to that subject, he would have been warmly received. Unfortunately, he also wanted to shoot his European mouth off about ‘political dissident’ and ‘opposition leader’ Alexey Navalny, and to convey Europe’s absolute insistence that he be released ‘immediately and unconditionally’, which kind of smothered any possibility of cordiality from that moment on. Kind of like how if Lavrov visited Borrell in his native Spain, and ordered him to release Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras would go over among the Spanish.

Continue reading “Doctor Politico, Reliable Journatard.”

No Horizon So Far: the Future of Sino-Russian Commercial Aviation

Uncle Volodya says, “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”

“We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know – that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it.”

Beryl Markham, from “West with the Night”

“Well I can bend, but I won’t break;
‘Cause you ain’t got what I can’t take…”

Bryan Adams/Bonnie Raitt, from “Rock Steady”

Everyone still wants to talk about Navalny; the western press is full of blather and botheration about noble Navalny struggling against the monolithic and remorseless state; you would think nothing else was going on in the world. He’s not really very important, because – try as his western backers might to make a Robin Hood of him – most voting-age Russians regard him with disgust and boredom, and he likely could not get elected lifeguard in a car wash even if he could run for office, which he can’t because he is a convicted criminal. A convicted criminal who is likely to get a couple more convictions added on in the weeks to come, if you take my meaning. The Great Patriotic War, or what most of us know as the Second World War remains a seminal event in the minds of Russians who were alive when what is now the Russian Federation was the Soviet Union. As well it might – Soviet losses against Nazi Germany were more than 20 million people, far more than any other nation. Surviving veterans of that war are iconic even in a country which affords respect to military service in general, and considers it critical in such an unfriendly world. Navalny’s record of contempt for a Great Patriotic War veteran may have been his western-backed attempt to jolt Russians out of their reverence for the nation’s hard-won existence, and deprive them of a vital touchstone which welds the public into common sorrow and resolve on Victory Day. If so, it was a decisive failure, and Navalny’s rudeness and posturing have earned him widespread loathing in his own country; he is about as likely to get elected to any public office which requires the candidate to be voted in as he is to discover the secret of spinning straw into gold, like Rumpelstiltskin.

Yes, he is a jerk, my, my. But the thing about Navalny I wanted to mention – he and his portly roving operations manager, Leonid “Two-Tummies” Volkov – is their immediate reaction to Navalny’s arrest, which was foretold with about the same reliability as the sun rising in the east. Their “beam me up, Uncle Sam” cry for help was “more sanctions!!” Yes, let Navalny go, immediately and unconditionally, or the US-led west will impose further sanctions.

We’ve asked this question before – how’s that working out, do you think? Are western sanctions any closer to bringing Russia to its knees? Have they had any success – any success at all – at changing Russian behavior, in any way, to behavior the west regards with approval and a sense of accomplishment? Feel free to disagree with me, but I would have to say no. Is there anything to justify, do you think, the west’s faith in the potential of further sanctions to arrest or modify behaviors the west does not like? Again, I would have to say no. Why, then, does the west keep doing the same thing, and threatening more? I am at a loss to explain. If you were driving half-inch stakes into the ground for fence palings with a hammer, and every time you swung it you hit yourself in the balls with it, how many times would you try it before you gave it up? Until you were a eunuch?

Anyway, that’s enough of Navalny and his anarchic followers – suffice it to say that when Nadia Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot writes a fan song about your brave stand against the state, you have strayed far enough from statesmanship that you probably could not find your way back with a GPS. No, it was more the sanctions element I wanted to talk about than Navalny.

What Russia has learned from having sanctions leveled against it, and rolled over every six months like clockwork, is that it cannot depend on the west for any kind of commercial relationship. Europe continues to buy gas from Russia, and the USA stands on the sidelines and wrings its hands with anxiety but does not quite dare to forbid Europe’s purchase of Russian gas, because no other supplier has both the capacity and the infrastructure. But every other commercial commodity is carefully parsed for the degree to which Russia is dependent upon it, weighed against how much Europe would lose if it stopped selling it. Pretty much every time Europe has lost, as Uncle Sam squeezes it to cut off trade with Russia. The lesson, then, is that (a) Europe is spineless as a squid, and incapable of resisting American pressure, and (b) the USA is determined to push Russia off the map altogether, and will never relent so long as it has the power to continue trying. These two elements convince Russia that no agreement with the west is worth committing to paper, and that whatever Russia wants, it must make for itself or trade with alternative markets to purchase.

Continue reading “No Horizon So Far: the Future of Sino-Russian Commercial Aviation”

Still Crazy, After All These Years – Western Analysis Continues to Get Russia Wrong

https://dakiniland.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/putin-wink.jpg
Uncle Volodya says; “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead.”

A world that sends you reeling from decimated dreams
Your misery and hate will kill us all
So paint it black and take it back
Let’s shout it loud and clear
Defiant to the end we hear the call…

My Chemical Romance, from, “Welcome to the Black Parade”.

Reading a recent comment which detailed the inexplicable and yawning gulf between the media-hyped love affair the west pursues with ‘poison victim’ Alexey Navalny, and his clownlike public image in Russia, it struck me that the situation is a microcosm of the larger deliberate misunderstanding with which western analysts regard Russia.

We’ve been over the credibility aspects before, in which the Anglosphere stubbornly maintains that Navalny was poisoned – most likely at Vladimir Putin’s direct order – with the most toxic and deadly nerve agent the world has ever seen, but will not share its proof with Russia. Navalny miraculously did not die, and now is feeling fine as frog hair and ready for the next stage in his job-free life. He is most likely going to be a long-term guest of the west – returning to Russia is not a viable option, as he is regarded as a criminal there – enjoying a comfortable lifestyle with his family which arises from his perceived status as ‘Putin’s fiercest critic’, and an important Russian opposition politician.

What immediately follows is a translation by Moscow Exile of this RIA Novosti article.

VTsIOM: Rating of Russians’ confidence in Navalny – 3%

A poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM) has shown an almost complete lack of confidence amongst Russians in the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, non-profit foreign agent) Aleksey Navalny. The low rating is an indication of a failed media campaign to increase the popularity of the oppositionist with the participation of the West.

VTsIOM has published opinion poll data, relevant at the end of November 2020, as regards the measurement of the level of trust in the Russian public towards political figures and oppositionists. As part of the survey, it was established to whom the citizens of the Russian Federation would entrust the solution of important state issues. FBK founder Aleksey Navalny was included in the list of figures, the attitude towards whom sociologists were trying to find out. The poll showed that only 3% of Russians trust the oppositionist and are ready to entrust him with solving important state issues.

Personally, I am opposed to ongoing discussion of Navalny’s affairs, as continued mention of him only keeps him in the news and increases his exposure. However, I think it is fairly clear – if you believe this poll – that Navalny is not really taken seriously in Russia, and has no realistic chance of legitimately attaining any political role in that country. His name recognition may have greatly increased, but his forecast influence on national politics – should he be able to run for a political office – has not budged in ten years.

And therein lies the enigma. The western media persists in portraying Navalny as a political firebrand with a significant audience eager to hear his powerful message. He cannot be an object of mockery – an insignificant boob regarded by many Russians as a foreign agent of the western regime-changers. Therefore…the poll must be rigged!

Those in the west who are seriously committed to regime change in Russia should, by rights, be depressed at this – the overthrowing of Putin and his replacement by a progressive western-friendly liberal, who will deal the country away for a handful of magic beans, does not stand much chance so long as the dullwitted western public-at-large is determined to see a d’Artagnan in a doughhead. Not a bit of it – western think-tankers and analysts are among the most intoxicated optimists when it comes to seeing imminent collapse in Russia’s future, followed by a renaissance under an enlightened leader who will welcome western advice in building a dream country that will anchor a relationship in which freedom and democracy prevail. And, just incidentally, make western investors even more wealthy, even as it removes the next-to-last adversary on America’s must-go list. Western political and media investment in Navalny continues unabated.

Examples abound of this determined tunnel vision, a sort of self-medicated ecstasy in which judgment steps aside to permit fantasy to take the wheel. It hasn’t been that long since America’s ‘Russian athletes are brimming with performance-enhancing drugs’ campaign ran out of momentum, wobbled and collapsed in ignominy as reinstated medals , which had been stripped owing to accusations led by the USA, returned Russia to the head of the medals count. At the start of its run at Russia, the western investigatory commission claimed it had so much evidence of a state-sponsored Russian doping program it was…well, gosh darn it, it was embarrassing. Star-witness ‘whistleblower’ Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Russian anti-doping program, electrified the prosecution with his confident claims of proof beyond any doubt…and then disintegrated, during testimony, in a pants-wetting supernova of contradictory claims and unsubstantiated blather.

More recently, the entire underpinning of America’s Magnitsky Act collapsed like a house of cards when Bill Browder’s tax-fraud case against the Russian state was completely discredited after a nine-year investigation, and probably will be dropped for lack of evidence. Browder used tales of breathtaking financial impropriety as alleged motive for the death of his ‘tax lawyer’ – actually an accountant – Sergey Magnitsky, in a Russian prison. According to Browder’s story, Magnitsky was murdered to shut him up, so he could not tell what he knew about a Russian scheme to steal millions from investment taxes. The Swiss investigators found no evidence at all to support such claims, casting well-deserved doubt on the entire story Browder used to sell the discriminatory Magnitsky Act to the American government.

Western press consistently portrays Russia as floundering, flailing, thrashing to remain afloat against the brutal counterweight of sanctions which drag it down to the deeps. Yet its foreign cash reserves have returned to the peak they reached immediately before the global financial crisis of 2008/09, at nearly $600 Billion.

Russia Foreign Exchange Reserves

The government income ratio distributed to cash reserves has remained metronomic at 8% since 2019, and reflects the highest level achieved since that same global financial crisis in 2008/09.

Russia Cash Reserve Ratio

This is not a picture of a country struggling under a brutal dictatorship led by a thieving oligarch who salts away more billions of his country’s hard-earned money every year in secret accounts abroad which nobody can find any trace of. But the figures come from the Central Bank of Russia…so they’re probably made-up. As is, no doubt, the handling of government debt as a percentage of GDP since Satan’s Imp seized power in Russia in 1999.

Russia Government Debt to GDP

If only a popular people’s champion like Alexey Navalny could gather the reins of power into his steadfast hands. Then you’d see some progress that would make you blink.

Canada’s Mask-Mania Push Campaign – a Contrarian View

 

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Uncle Volodya says, “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it..”

Unless you live under a rock in a thinly-settled part of the world, you are probably familiar with the global government embrace of non-medical cloth or paper face masks. Government medical authorities claim they help prevent infection by the novel coronavirus, AKA COVID-19, and busybodies and social interventionists everywhere are getting increasingly exasperated with the now-minority that will not wear them whenever they leave their homes, get with the fucking program and start caring about their community.

I can’t speak for everywhere, but let me tell you a little bit about how this push campaign is going in Canada. My part of it, anyway.

In the early stages of what it pleases the global political leadership to refer to as a ‘pandemic’, there was a reluctance to endorse masking. The WHO released confusing and conflicting information. The famous Dr. Fauci, who throws a baseball like an undernourished schoolgirl trying to rid herself of a live lizard, initially remarked that there was absolutely no reason for anyone who was not clearly sick to wear a face mask. He later reversed himself, admitting he only said that so panicky people would not run out and buy up all the face masks and there would not be a sufficient supply for the ‘frontline medical workers’. Lied, I guess you would have to say, if you didn’t realize what a visionary and farseeing altruist he is, and didn’t know – because he told you – that he was only doing it for our own good.

But I don’t want to get too distracted by Dr. Fauci, as I mean to turn attention to a more local source. Chris Pengilly, a retired GP, is representative of the Frustrated Class that smirks at the reasons the minority offers for not wearing a face mask in public. I think you’ll agree his tone is the sort of condescending dismissal which might be reserved by a John Deere dealership for a farmer who still plows with a mule – some people just don’t get it the way us smart folk do. Let’s take a look.

Right off the bat, Mr. Pengilly wants you to know that he approves the use of face masks, and believes their wear will soon become compulsory, as if that were reason enough for doubters to line up for them. Not to be a spoiler or anything, but let me say here that a government order to wear face masks in all public spaces is an invitation to a constitutional challenge and a major lawsuit. Why? Because there is no actual scientific evidence that they do anything at all to prevent infection by an airborne virus. None. Continue reading “Canada’s Mask-Mania Push Campaign – a Contrarian View”

The Near-Global Collapse of Critical Thinking

Uncle Volodya says, “When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false.”

“Every ounce of my cynicism is supported by historical precedent.”

– Glen Cook, Shadow Games

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.”

– George Bernard Shaw

I’m lazy. But vanity constrains me from admitting that, so I call it ‘busy’. However I choose to label it, I haven’t written anything new in a long time. It’s not writer’s block, because I had a couple of topics in mind; if I had to blame it on anything, I’d blame it on the comments section. We don’t really have any rules here, or not many (there are a couple of people who can’t comment, but that’s because they cannot be trusted to not instantly return to old habits as soon as they are allowed), and things routinely drift off-topic to whatever is going on at the time. Current events; yes, that’s the term I was looking for. So when new things are happening, we tend to discuss them in the comments section, instead of my writing a new post dedicated specifically to that issue. It’s the primary cause, I’m afraid, of important comments you would like to be able to locate because they contain hard-to-find sources or just the information you need to settle an argument, because they are not linked by subject. Obviously I prefer the unregulated format, or I wouldn’t use it, but it does have its disadvantages.

Anyway, the silver lining that comes with being late to discuss a particular current event is that you get to talk about the filtered version, after the ferment has settled down and often new facts have presented. So it is with the teapot tempest of Alexei Navalny, vaulted to international fame virtually overnight by becoming the latest victim poisoned by nefarious Soviet-era deadly nerve agents that, in their known application, have a success rate of 16.67%. A funny statistic has emerged from the absurd times we are living in – a viral infection, the ‘novel coronavirus’, more commonly called COVID-19, has the world shivering with terror like frogs in a glass cage with a big snake, even though its Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) compares with the annual influenza bouts we have lived with all our years. Yet an engineered nerve agent reputed to be ten times as deadly as the most toxic poison the west could come up with – one which, I might add, has a known survivor list among the exposed of zero point zero – has never killed the individual it was intended to kill, and managed to incidentally slay one innocent bystander who was also an alcoholic and drug abuser. As John Lennon remarked in “Nobody Told Me”; strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Mama.

I meant to do a post on Navalny – more correctly, my patience with the ridiculous statements made about his latest adventure finally evaporated – after reading this amazingly cheeky tapestry of fabrication; “The Kremlin, predictably, says it didn’t poison Alexey Navalny. So what can the West do?”

I looked it up so as to have an electronic link, so readers could get the full effect. But I initially saw it in the newspaper, the Canadian Globe & Mail (British Columbia edition), in which it was headlined a little differently – “Why nobody has power to make Kremlin come clean on poisoning”. So far as I can make out on initial examination, the body of the article is unchanged. Both pieces – well, the same piece with two different headlines – are by Mark MacKinnon, who is The Globe & Mail‘s senior international correspondent, based in London, UK. He’s quite highly-regarded by his employers, is a seven-time winner of the National Newspaper Awards (for creativity, perhaps, although they don’t say), and the author of…”The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics“. Gee, that sounds like it might be about a particular country; let’s have a dekko at the writeup.

“When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, liberal democracy was supposed to fill the void left by Soviet Communism. Poland and Czechoslovakia made the best of reforms, but the citizens of the “Evil Empire” itself saw little of the promised freedom, and more of the same old despots and corruption. Recently, a second wave of reforms — Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine in 2004, as well as Kyrgyzstan’s regime change in 2005 — have proven almost as monumental as those in Berlin and Moscow. The people of the Eastern bloc, aided in no small part by Western money and advice, are again rising up and demanding an end to autocracy. And once more, the Kremlin is battling the White House every step of the way. Mark MacKinnon spent these years working in Moscow, and his view of the story and access to those involved remains unparalleled. With The New Cold War, he reveals the links between these democratic revolutions — and George Soros, the idealistic American billionaire behind them — in a major investigation into the forces that are quietly reshaping the post-Soviet world.”

Because western-imposed liberal democracy has been such a star-speckled success in so many places – Libya. Iraq, Venezuela…anyway, the above author information is offered to sort of set the tone for the type of worldview you might expect. And to introduce a premonition, before you even read his material, that Mark MacKinnon just might be exactly the sort of guy who would smirk with revulsion at the mention of Putin’s name, and have a big ol’ man-crush on Alexei Navalny. I’m not implying anything untoward, here; Mr. MacKinnon is a realist. An ideologue, yes, but a realist. Continue reading “The Near-Global Collapse of Critical Thinking”

The Ceaseless Lies of Eva Bartlett; or, The Partisan Scrubbing of Western Consciousness.

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Uncle Volodya says, “The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena.”

“Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto-tune is called singing.”

Criss Jami, from “Killosophy”

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

Noam Chomsky, from “Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda”

I don’t think you would get anywhere by arguing that living in a democracy means your leaders always tell you the truth – and let you and your fellow voters decide, based on that truth, whether you want to go further down the road under their leadership or come to a parting of the ways, and go forward without them. There is no written promise that leaders will not lie, just as there is no statement of ethics which forbids a free press from lying to its readers, whether deliberately or because it was itself deceived by liars.

Nonetheless, the obvious repugnance and disgust expressed by generations of western journalists for the manipulative propaganda of Nazi poster-boy Goebbels and the overly-motivational exhortations of the Communist Soviet Union’s five-year planners strongly suggested the west at all levels disapproves of lying in order to manipulate public perception.

Can we agree, then, that western philosophy – by which I mean the propounded creed of NATO and various western temporary and semi-permanent alliances over the years since the Second World War – encourages a belief that the creation and dissemination of propaganda is wrong? That western journalism strives for an impression that propagandists are also liars, and that an informed populace can handle the truth?

That’s pretty much what I thought. Continue reading “The Ceaseless Lies of Eva Bartlett; or, The Partisan Scrubbing of Western Consciousness.”