Stephen Blank has a Tantrum

Uncle Volodya says, “No sound is so ominous as the silence of a patient man.”

“It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it’s too late. It does not improve the temper.”

W. Somerset Maugham, from “Of Human Bondage”

Stephen Blank is upset; in a bit of a pet, as the English of years ago would say. Gosh-darn it, those thickheaded Yurrup folk know nothing of loyalty – you always buy from friends, even if their product costs more, and its logistics for delivery are shaky. You know: those friends who threaten to sanction you until you can’t see straight if you don’t do as they want you to. Because in the end, it’s about freedom, damn it all.

I’m speaking of his recent effort for The Atlantic Council; “European Involvement with Nord Stream 2 Is a Deal with the Devil”. Well, it’s no surprise that The Atlantic Council is opposed to Russia’s Nord Stream II pipeline; it’s an American-dominated think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, formed in 1961 with the mission of preserving the cooperation between Europe and the United States that was forged in World War II. A big part of ‘cooperation’ in modern American parlance is ‘trade policies which are in our favour’, and the current president has squashed quite a bit of goodwill to death in his pursuit of US advantage. The Atlantic Council has included such congenial friends of Russia as Susan Rice, and hosted such pro-Russian guests as Mikheil Saakashvili, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Richard Lugar. The United States wants to sell Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe, but it would not be the happiest to do so in concert with Russian pipeline gas – it would like to replace Russian gas supplies. And there, I’m afraid, Mr. Blank and his friends are the victims of geography and America’s own capitalist success. I’m not going to dwell on it, because readers of this blog are well aware of it, but the United States cannot sell LNG to Europe at a competitive price with pipeline gas, and delivery would have to be via seaborne tankers, which are at the mercy of weather conditions and marine traffic congestion. Delays would be remarkable only if there were none, while the necessary increase in trans-Atlantic marine traffic would increase the risk involved.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the petulance.

Failure - Demotivational Poster

Mr. Blank draws on every trope, every stereotypical insult and childish squall he can muster, and if it is a measure of his frustration, he must be wound tighter than a Timex. I have to say, I’m kind of enjoying it. Let’s look, shall we?

Since seizing Ukrainian territory, Mr. Blank tells us, Russia has waged systematic warfare in an attempt to destroy Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state energy company. Do tell. I don’t suppose there’s any sense in repeating that Crimea was always Russian, was given to Ukraine as a gift by a decree of the Russian president, and then was taken back – to the obvious delight of the great majority who live there – when it became evident Ukraine would not be satisfied with merely being independent, but wanted to be an enemy. A little like the Sally of “Mustang Sally” fame; remember that old song? “Bought you a brand-new mustang/ nineteen sixty-five/when I come around, you signify, woman/You won’t let me ride.” Okay, perhaps that’s not the best example, since the ‘ride’ in that instance has a tongue-in-cheek double meaning. But I think the context is pretty clear. Ukraine made an ostentatious big deal about its non-Russianness, and seized upon every opportunity to express its contempt and hatred, just as it continues to do now. Why should Russia allow it to keep the gift which was bestowed when they were fraternal brothers?

As to a Russian effort to destroy Naftogaz, I’m afraid I just don’t see it. In fact, in accordance with President Putin’s letter to European leaders of 2014, Ukraine and Naftogaz accepted significant and deep discounts to its natural-gas prices for the continuation of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet’s use of the Crimean port of Sevastopol beyond 2017. The agreement was approved by the Rada, with 236 votes in favour. While it was clear the coup government would waste no time evicting Russia from Sevastopol, Ukraine had already benefited from 3 years of these deep discounts. There was no offer to pay the money back. Discounts were extended to Ukraine’s chemical companies. Ukraine received a discount in the first three months of 2013, owing to the precipitous fall of its currency and the parlous state of its economy. Discounts which, from 2009, amounted to more than $17 Billion in value. To that should be added at least that amount in take-or-pay fines resulting from the contract Ukraine signed for the provision of natural gas. That contract was signed, for Ukraine, by then-Prime-Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Is she in jail for putting Ukraine in that terrible position? Hardly; she’s running for President, so I guess Ukraine approved of the terms.

Ukraine broke a contract signed by its Prime Minister, and just walked away. The west made no effort to persuade it to honour its contractual debt. Russia lent Ukraine $3 billion just before the Glorious Maidan; Ukraine kept and spent it, and did not pay it back. The west encouraged it to default, offering free legal advice that it should be declared an ‘odious debt’. The IMF cooperated by changing its rules so that it could continue ‘lending’ to a country which was in default. But big, bad Russia is picking on poor, helpless Naftogaz.

Mr. Blank then goes on to laud plucky Naftogaz’s legal victories; now, he says, Gazprom is building Nord Stream 2, with the aims of suffocating Ukraine’s economy and strengthening its grip on European energy supplies.

How will it do the latter, if about the same amounts of gas are going through Nord Stream 2 as would have gone through Ukraine? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Europe receives 20 BcM of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, and 20 BcM through Ukraine. One year later, Europe receives 20 BcM of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, and 20 BcM through its twin line, Nord Stream 2. How has Russia strengthened its grip on European energy supplies? The gas is just not going through Ukraine. Whose fault is that? Russia’s? I don’t see how.

In fact, the west wants Russia to continue transiting gas through Ukraine because, among other reasons, it does not want to have to subsidize Ukraine’s flailing economy for the money it will lose in transit fees. There’s nothing noble or high-minded about it – either Russia pays it, the west pays it, or Ukraine collapses. Kind of ironic, really, to see the Revolution of Dignity (taking bets on the probability that title originated in the US Department of State) result in an impecunious state that lives as a beggar for IMF handouts, isn’t it? You probably don’t need me to point out what that says about western management skilz in the nation-building department.

Well, let’s get back to Mr. Blank’s bitter musings.  We next learn that Russia is “working assiduously to promote a Ukrainian presidential candidate (or two) that is connected to Russia through corruption and would end Naftogaz’s current submissions to European arbitration.” Anyone know who that might be? The western press acknowledges it is a lopsided race between Zelenskiy, Poroshenko and Tymoshenko, with the latter two battling for second place in the hope of pulling out a win in a run-off vote. None of the other candidates is even on the radar – so much for assiduous promotion. Zelenskiy has no connection to Naftogaz, although he is trying to dispel some misgivings that he might be closely connected to Ihor Kolomoisky, bad-boy oligarch. Zelenskiy went on record early that there would have to be dialogue with Russia, with a view to ending the fighting in the east. Under pressure, he later walked it back to say that of course there could be no yielding of Ukrainian sovereignty, borders must be respected, bla, bla. So that means the default position, Crimea must be returned to Ukrainian control, etc… That also means he may as well not have even said any of that out loud, because Russia is not going to hand Crimea back under any circumstances.

I would submit he probably means Tymoshenko, since she has close and pervasive ties to the energy industry, and was once a major player in it, known as ‘The Gas Princess’. But did he really say she was connected to Russia through corruption?? Mr. Blank is coming dangerously close to – gasp! – interfering in the Ukrainian election!

I think it is a given that Washington would prefer Poroshenko stays on for another term. He can be relied upon to bad-mouth Russia loudly at every opportunity, and with him in the saddle there will be no chance at all of improving relations between the two countries, which is just how Washington likes it. In return for his loyalty and fawning, Washington ignores that he has remained an active businessman throughout his presidential tenure, in direct violation of the Ukrainian constitution, and has steadily increased his personal wealth and influence, while his government recently struck down a law against public figures enriching themselves through their positions. Oh, the US Ambassador to Ukraine – currently Marie Yovanovitch – ‘slammed’ Ukraine, and flung ‘scathing criticism’ right and left, but she didn’t really go after Poroshenko; she agitated for the current anti-corruption prosecutor to be fired (because they, you know, have wiretap evidence of him advising corruption suspects on their best course of action to avoid prosecution, which kind of calls his impartiality into question). And doubtless he should be fired. But it is extremely likely his appointed replacement will have pretty much the same laissez-faire attitude toward official corruption. Yovanovitch called for a complete audit into defense-company procurement – Poroshenko’s inner circle, possibly including the president himself, is accused of embezzlement of millions in rigged defense contracts – but the chances of that being completed, plus findings being generated, before the election are somewhere between zero and nil decimal fuck-all.

In the very next sentence, Mr. Blank laid bare the very nub of his bitterness: “Unfortunately, it now looks like Nord Stream 2 will go through, even though the Trump administration has threatened German firms with sanctions if it does.”

He does not speculate on why America was unsuccessful in its drive to stop the Russian pipeline from being built. And make no mistake; Washington tried every trick in the book short of military intervention, even threatening to impose sanctions against European companies if they did not take a stand against it.

But I will.

Steadily, progressively and measurably, the United States has burned through the stock of goodwill and ‘soft power’ in Europe – and the world – that was the work of decades to build. As America increased its confrontational attitude in global politics, and demanded ‘allies’ follow along, it began to breed doubt, reluctance and antipathy, until the only effective tool it had left was fear. Its regime-change operation and abject failure to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria then blunted the fear, reducing it to the degree of weakness that longstanding allies are openly defiant, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to US Vice-President Mike Pence over the Iran nuclear deal, as the UK was in its rejection of a total ban on use of Huawei 5G network components. For whatever reason, America failed to heed the signals that its gauche pressure tactics were unappreciated, instead pursuing a course that has led us to now, when it walks into the room and swings its balls around, and nobody applauds or gasps.

Sad, yes, I know. Oh, look: more sour-grapes whining. “It is important to understand what it means to the EU for Nord Stream 2 to be built. Apart from the bypassing of Ukraine and the potential corrupting of German politics, Nord Stream 2 essentially forces German and Eastern European states and customers to subsidize Russian state expenses and unwittingly assist in Naftogaz’s destruction. Those expenses may result in the rearming of the Russian army, which threatens the sovereignty and integrity of EU and NATO members. It also means that despite their connections to the EU, the investors in this pipeline are winking at the flouting of international law, as embodied in the arbitration verdicts that have ruled against Gazprom. Gazprom, thus encouraged, will continue corrupting European governments and energy policies; and European legal institutions will continue to be impotent against Russia.”

Let’s unpack that a little, what say? As to the ‘essentially forcing German and Eastern European states and customers to subsidize Russian state expenses and unwittingly assist in Naftogaz’s destruction’, what does he imagine would be the result of Europe deciding to switch its dependence to American LNG? Wouldn’t European states and customers then be forced to subsidize American state expenses? Would a triumphant USA be sure to build in some room for Russian-supplied pipeline gas, delivered through Ukraine by Naftogaz?  Ha, ha; as if. So the USA is perfectly all right with the destruction of Naftogaz, in principle, just as long as it works to American advantage and not Russian. Is it difficult to imagine some of the money realized as profit from the USA’s LNG sales to Europe might end up in the American defense budget, considering it is larger than the composite of the next 7 countries combined? If that were the case, would Europe not be assisting the re-arming of the US Army? Pop quiz – America or Russia, which country has started the most wars in the past 30 years?

Are American sanctions against Nord Stream 2 ‘international law’? Because nothing else precludes the building of the pipeline. The EU dropped all its legal objections to Nord Stream 2, and concentrated its efforts on bringing it under European regulation so as to force concessions on unbundling and third-party usage and so forth. Europe has acknowledged that it cannot stop the construction of the pipeline without changing the law, and it has even tried that. So we are left with American threats of sanctions against European companies if they don’t pull out. Is that international law? You tell me. America has been very much in the spotlight of late, for its hurling of sanctions in all directions, particularly those under the rubric of ‘national security’. Over objections from other countries, the USA claims the WTO has no capability to review exceptions based on national security claims, and that “such a review would undermine the legitimacy of the WTO dispute settlement system and even the viability of the WTO as a whole”. So the American premise is that it can impose any trade restriction it likes, stamp “National Security” on it, and nobody can question it. And now it wants to move that policy into the category of international law.

Oh, goodness gracious: Stephen Blank actually suggested that Russia uses energy revenues to fund opposition movements in other countries. Where has he been for the last, Jeez, since World War II?  For starters, show me some evidence of Russian money behind foreign opposition movements. The last I can remember was a loan to Marine le Pen’s Front Nationale from a Russian bank,  back in 2017. And that was remarkable enough to arouse comment from Russia-watchers and analysts: “The 11 million ($11.5 million) euro in loans the French National Front took from a Russian bank is to date the most solid bit of proof that Russia is backing nationalist populist political forces in Europe with more than just talk on Kremlin propaganda channels and invitations for meetings in Moscow.” In case you missed it, that was “to date the most solid bit of proof” of Russian backing. Which means there was less before that. Has there been more since? You tell me.

However, the United States of America opened with the concept of funding foreign opposition groups. Except it doesn’t call it that; it calls it “promoting democracy”. It has several well-established agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) which do little else but dole out funding to opposition groups abroad. In addition, a plethora of private ‘democracy’ advocates such as George Soros’s Open Democracy Network funnel money to opposition groups and whoever is the ‘rebel’ flavour of the month. US government agencies such as the CIA are not often content with just fronting money and airtime to dissidents – they’ve been in the game a long time, and they know if you’re in a hurry to make political change happen in your favour, it’s probably going to get violent. So they send planeloads of guns and ammunition to the politically disaffected around the world (providing, of course, that destabilizing the country would be in US interests – so far as I am aware, Greenpeace, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and the NAACP have never received a dollar from the CIA, never mind guns). More recently, blind drunk on exceptionalism, the USA simply announced that the democratically-elected president of Venezuela was out of a job, and appointed its own favourite, Juan Guaido, in his place.  Is that legal? Of course it isn’t. Following consultation with American advisors, much of the Venezuelan opposition boycotted the last election; candidates did not stand for election and their supporters did not vote. This was used to support the position that the election was illegitimate because the opposition did not have a chance. Therefore the president’s win was fraudulent, so the first country that thought of it got to pick a new one. See how it works? Exceptionalism, baby. Guaido favours American ‘investment’ in Venezuela’s oil industry – it just happens to have the world’s largest proven reserves – and US National Security Advisor John Bolton was saying just a few weeks ago how nice it would be for the American economy if American oil companies were running the show in Venezuela.

In Libya, American-led intervention resulted in the grisly murder of its leader, and the utter ruin of what had been the most progressive country in Africa – today, it is a failed state ruled over by tribal warlords, where women and children are openly sold as slaves in public markets.

Mr. Blank next suggests that in not ‘helping Ukraine’ by putting the brakes on Nord Stream 2, Europe is tacitly acknowledging Russia’s right to annex Crimea, and is telegraphing approval of a policy that ‘might makes right’.

Ummm….who is it, again, that is threatening Europe with sanctions if it does not forego Russian pipelines in favour of continued transit through Ukraine? That’s right – America. And why should anyone listen to America? Because the national psyche equates military might with the responsibility to do good, and fighting anyone the government says is the Enemy Of Freedom is doing good.

What a long, tortuous way the Shining City On A Hill has come from the humble musings of Abraham Lincoln: “Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Then again, Lincoln presided over the biggest and most destructive war in American history, so perhaps he’s not entirely illustrative of the concept that right makes might. Nonetheless, there is much to the credo that first you establish the rightness of your cause beyond all doubt, and then you strike if you must.

If you follow that, you might not have to lie like a hillbilly writing a check.

Here’s my reasoning, Mr. Blank – the USA will be able to make a good case for cutting Nord Stream 2 out of a large share of the European gas-supply business when it can do the following things: (1) demonstrate that it has the reserve capability to supply increasing amounts of natural gas over the long term, (2) convince Europe that American gas supplies would not be subject to leverage for political advantage, (3) reassure the buyers that there would be no interruptions in the supply and that it could match the delivery rate of Russian pipeline gas even though it is delivered by tankers, and (4) sell it to Europe for the same price as they can buy pipeline gas. Can you do all of those? Can you do any of them? Colour me skeptical.

The west in general and America in particular want Russia to be responsible for strengthening the Ukrainian economy,  because otherwise, they will have to do it themselves. Their reasoning is that if Russia must transit its gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine, Russia cannot afford to let it lapse into a failed state. An alternative route that removes Ukraine’s transit fees is a stake through the heart of that reasoning.

442 thoughts on “Stephen Blank has a Tantrum

  1. Press Release
    18 March 2019
    PR (2019) 039

    Statement by the North Atlantic Council on Crimea

    1. Five years ago, Russia used force against Ukraine to illegally and illegitimately annex Crimea. This violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is a serious breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security. We strongly condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognise. We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine. We reiterate our full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and territorial waters. Crimea is the territory of Ukraine.

    2. Allies are deeply concerned by the human rights abuses and violations being carried out by the Russian de-facto authorities in illegally annexed Crimea against Ukrainians, the Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities. These violations include extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, violence, arbitrary detentions, arrest, and torture. Despite the 2017 Order of the International Court of Justice, the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body, remains under persecution and is banned in its homeland.

    3. NATO calls on Russia to bring an immediate end to all violations and abuses in illegally annexed Crimea, to release Ukrainian political prisoners and hostages, and to grant international monitoring organisations access to Crimea. Any attempts to legitimise or normalise the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea must end, including the automatic imposition of Russian citizenship, forced population movements, conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation, and illegal holding of Russian election campaigns.

    4. We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea, and are concerned by Russia’s efforts and stated plans for further military build-up in the Black Sea region. We also condemn Russia’s construction of the Kerch Strait bridge, which represents another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is imposing additional hardship on Ukraine’s economy. Russia’s unjustified use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel near the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait in November 2018 is part of the larger pattern of Russian aggressive actions in the region. In line with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 73/194 from 17 December 2018, we call on Russia to unconditionally release the Ukrainian crew members it detained, to return the captured vessels and to comply with its international commitments by ensuring unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov and allowing freedom of navigation.

    5. NATO’s response to address Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine has been alongside and in support of an overall international effort, which has included sanctions. There can be no return to “business as usual” until there is a clear, constructive change in Russia’s actions that demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.

    Causus belli?

    Dear NATO arseholes: rearrange the following words into a well known phrase or saying …



    1. They forgot to add that NATO’s actions over Kosovo is not in any way a precedent.

      The total hypocrisy wouldn’t melt in their mouths. The only ‘international’ that they can claim is themselves. Everyone else around the world knows they are FOS.


    1. Possibly, though not necessarily terror related in this case as it was reported that the shooter targeted a woman on the tram and then only those others who went to her aid.

      There’s a regular arms traffik from the Balkans all the way to the Netherlands via Belgium and I’ve read quotes that if you buy an AK-74 or two you get a hand grenade thrown in for free, which is why criminals have been throwing them about in NL/Be etc..

      What is clear to me is that the biggest threat to Europe (in particular) is returning headchoppers and a whole host of sleepers as there is quite a crossover between terrorism and organized crime. What we have read from previous terrorist incidents that some security agencies have two separate lists for o/c & terrorists rather than on combined one which has lead to holes identifying risk, surveillance and early warning. Yet again, the information is actually there but it is either not seen or seen too late (not to mention other ‘human factors’) – something that despite the massive increase in total domestic surveillance since 9/11 in the free, democratic and fair west, hasn’t made a great deal of actionable intelligence, rather a lot more chaff and wheat to sort through which all suck up more and more resources. It’s self-justifying.

      The west’s plan to not take back their headchoppers and have I-rack sentence them to death (how convenient) may deal with quite a number, but certainly won’t stop further attacks. If there is a threat to European life and limb, it is not from Russia, but that will not deter the ‘Russia is a threat crowd’. They know now to keep their mouths shut for a week or two after a terrorist attack and then start their bs yet again.

      Either way, I think it fairly likely there will be an increased level of attacks and public anxiety. Whether that translates in to an actual change of nation states security outlooks and priorities is anyone’s guess, but spending 2% GDP on NATO whilst being blown up at home by your own fellow citizens won’t make for popular politicians.


      1. And now reported that a letter found in the suspects (stolen?) car indicates a terror motive. Possibly both as these nutters can settle their personal beefs and get some free terrorism PR. It’s not as if the authorities are friends so claiming a political motive would only serve to tie up more resources, which was Bin Laden’s core concept of bankrupting the west – death by a thousand cats*.. sorry, cuts. Cats are too lazy and individualistic.

        * A genuine typo as I have a large cat fully stretched out on me as I write.


        1. Ah, yes, the essential Incriminating Document Found At The Scene. Not Putin’s passport? They must be using the arrive-at-the-solution-in-several-steps template.

          Increased powers to arrest and detain on suspicion, coming right up.

          Occasionally, to be fair, there is some nut on a train with a weapon. There are a lot of nuts in the world. But usually they are chaotic and disorganized and don’t really have a plan. Why would a criminal write a letter outlining his motives and then leave it in the car? Why not lay it out for his Facebook friends on the interwebs, or carry the letter on his person, or whatever? Sometimes crazy people do not even know themselves why they’re doing it.


          1. You mean crazy people do not even know that according to the media they are doing something like writing and uploading their manifesto to their Facebook page while at the same time in reality they are practising their targeting and shooting skills on Fortnite Battle Royale.


            1. Well, I’m not on Facebook so I don’t know, but I wonder if it’s possible to write one’s manifesto and schedule it to be published at a certain time in the future?

              I think even WordPress has that capability, but I’m not sure. (I mean for posts, not manifestoes…)


  2. Al Jazeera English
    Published on 18 Mar 2019
    Monday the 18th of March marks five years since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.
    Western countries condemned the move and imposed economic sanctions against Moscow.
    Coinciding with the anniversary, the EU, the U.S.and Canada have introduced some more.
    Yet, Putin remains defiant.
    He said he’s not returning Crimea to Ukraine and has visited the region to join in the celebrations and open two new power stations.
    But how long can Putin flex his military muscles against the West?

    Presenter: Hazem Sika

    Ilya Ponomarev, exiled Russian politican
    Mark Sleboda, international relations and security analyst
    Oleksiy Haran, professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.


    1. They allowed a well-spoken dissenter (Sleboda) to represent a Russian/Crimean view. CNN would never have allowed a contrarian voice on such a topic.


  3. Vesti News
    Published on 18 Mar 2019
    Subscribe to Vesti News
    Exactly five years ago, Crimea returned home. We shudder to think what would’ve happened if Crimean citizens didn’t vote for this. The U.S. was about to put its military base in Sevastopol; Poroshenko, who was driven out of Crimea weeks before the referendum would have clearly encroached on the peninsula and its inhabitants. However, all’s well that ends well. Crimea holds a record in tourist traffic.


  4. The Intercept
    Published on 18 Mar 2019
    BRAZIL’S PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO is in Washington to meet U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday. While the trip officially is focused on the joint efforts of the U.S. and Brazil to change the government of Venezuela, it is being billed by the Bolsonaro government as a “restart” of his presidency and image after multiple, serious scandals crippled the first three months of his presidency.

    But when it comes to recreating his image, the timing of this trip could hardly be worse. Key news events of the last several weeks — including the arrests of two former Rio de Janeiro police officers for the March 2018 assassination of Rio City Council Councilor Marielle Franco — have highlighted the most damaging and, to many, most terrifying revelations about Bolsonaro and his three politician sons: their extensive, direct, multilayered, and deeply personal ties to the paramilitary gangs and militias responsible for Brazil’s most horrific violence.

    Watch our video report on the growing, multilevel, personal, and highly disturbing links between Bolsonaro and his family on the one hand, and the country’s most violent, lawless, and murderous paramilitary gangs on the other.


    1. FRANCE 24 English
      Published on 5 Oct 2018
      Subscribe to France 24 now:

      FRANCE 24 live news stream: all the latest news 24/7

      In Rio de Janeiro, dozens of neighbourhoods and favelas are under the control of militias. All of them use terror to control locals and businesses, and resisting them can be fatal. FRANCE 24 reporter Fanny Lothaire met officials, reporters and victims who bravely spoke out against the militias’ controlling their city.

      Marielle Franco, a popular councilwoman in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, was brutally assassinated in March of this year. The 38-year-old activist had spoken out against corruption, as well as Rio’s militias: criminal groups made up of former soldiers, police officers and firemen. In the “Marvellous City”, as Rio is nicknamed, it is estimated that they control more than 37 neighbourhoods and some 160 favelas.

      The militias are much more discreet than the drug trafficking gangs, who make headlines but are confined to the favelas. With Rio de Janeiro squeezed by debt and gradually abandoned by public services, the power of the militias is growing daily. This sprawling mafia operates using a code of silence, and makes the drug gangs look almost upright by comparison. Speaking out against the militias, or exposing them, is dangerous, as Franco’s assassination shows.


      1. Let me guess; Washington’s position is that “President Bolsonaro has a right to protect his country”. When Washington likes the cut of your jib, as it is apt to do if you assist its objectives as Bolsonaro is doing, you are likely to get a free pass to carry out whatever repressions you choose to effect. Washington says the same of Poroshenko – prisoners of the Poroshenko regime are evildoers who sought to destabilize the country, and Poroshenko has a right to jail them because he is only ‘protecting his country’. Crimean Tatar activists who are jailed are political prisoners of conscience who struggled for freedom and democracy, and were imprisoned by an authoritarian dictator.

        Sleboda spoke sense and offered substantiation for his positions; the others, as usual, made wild claims with no evidence offered. You’re just supposed to believe them, because they are on the side of the angels.


    1. Last time I’m going to say this – comments which contain a lot of links, like that one, are likely to be flagged as possible spam, and held until I see them. I’m actually not in front of the computer all day long, and it might be several hours or even overnight, because sometimes I sleep, a nasty habit I picked up in the Orient. Today I cooked lunch and am in the process of cooking dinner as well, since I have the day off. I just didn’t see your comment when it came in. It’s not a conspiracy.



    Leads to:

    “The evidence is mounting pointing to similarities in the two recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max 8 commercial jets, costing a combined total of 346 lives. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that the new model 737s were rushed into service without the level of pilot training that normally accompanies the introduction of new or redesigned aircraft.

    New revelations also indicate that Boeing, the commercial carriers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the pilots unions were all involved in the process by which safety and training corners were cut in the interests of reducing costs and accelerating production and sales, so as to gain market share and profits at the expense of Boeing’s chief competitor, European-based Airbus.”

    The sum total of which is:

    (Paywall problem):

    Prosecutors aren’t looking at the situation from a perspective of lawsuits brought by the victims’ loved ones …..

    “Liability under (USA) Federal Law – Respondeat Superior
    Corporations my be criminally liable for the illegal acts of officers, employees or agents,
    provide that it can be established that:
    · the individual’s actions were within the scope of their duties; and
    · the individual’s actions were intended, at least in part, to benefit the corporation.
    As regards the first requirement, obviously it is not the individual’s illegal actions which
    need to be within the scope of their duties in order for corporate liability to be attracted.
    Instead, it is sufficient that the individual commits an offence in the course of pursuing
    objectives or undertaking tasks which are authorised or required by virtue of their position.
    Even the fact that a superior officer has given express instructions that the individual
    should not engage in the conduct constituting an offence does not prevent that conduct
    from being within the scope of the individual’s duties.
    As regards the requirement that the individual’s actions be intended to benefit the
    corporation, all that this requires is that benefit to the company be one motivation of the
    individual’s conduct”

    Click to access Allens-Arthur-Robinson-Corporate-Culture-paper-for-Ruggie-Feb-2008.pdf


    1. It’s nice to dream, and in some future America where The One Who Spends The Most Money is not the winner, perhaps that American justice system might indict Boeing. But under the present system, America would be as likely to elect a president who really was from Kenya as it would be to criminalize the actions of one of its bellwether companies and one of its most generous corporate donors to political war chests. A grand jury means exactly bubkes; grand juries have indicted people in the past who were eventually convicted. But generally the standard for indictment is so low that it is easy to make it look like the person indicted is in shit up to their eyebrows when in reality, being indicted by a grand jury is as far as the matter will ever go.

      In this instance, the government must be seen to be bustling about and preparing to behead someone, because the present picture is one of The FAA’s and Boeing’s and the President’s heads all cozy together on the same pair of pillows, with the blankets pulled up to their chins. That picture cannot be the one which lingers in people’s heads. So the government has to be Mad As Hell at Boeing and looking to jail someone’s ass. If anyone does go to jail, it’ll be some low-level executive who fell on his sword for a later payout, or some even lower-level flunky who isn’t capable of understanding what is happening to him. One or the other, or both will be fingered for having masterminded the whole scheme to skimp on training to save money. That’s if anyone is punished at all.


    1. “The most recent escalation is the cyber attack and other attacks on Venezuela’s electrical system causing massive blackouts especially in the capital Caracas. I have no doubt that these blackouts are the result of CIA involvement. The blackouts and sanctions are a form of warfare against Venezuela. “

      I think Mario is right about that!


  6. Like I was saying:

    “A federal prosecutor is reportedly looking into the development of the Boeing 737 Max as a potential criminal case, while regulators question a safety analysis of the plane’s flight control system. The Justice Department is looking into the development of the Boeing 737 Max, a highly unusual probe, involving a prosecutor in the criminal division’s fraud section, according to the Wall Street Journal. Typical safety probes are civil cases handled by the Transportation Department’s inspector general, according to the report. ”


  7. Peskov today:

    «Для Кремля однозначно лучше, чтобы к власти пришел на Украине и был избран украинцами тот президент, который будет трезво оценивать реальность, у которого возобладает политическая мудрость и который не будет президентом войны, а станет президентом мира и выстраивания отношений со всеми соседями, в том числе с Российской Федераций. Вот это можно сказать однозначно»

    “For the Kremlin, it is definitely better that, having been elected by Ukrainians, a president will come to power in the Ukraine, who will soberly assess reality and in whom political wisdom will prevail and who will not be a president of the war, but will become a president of peace and the building of relations with all his neighbours, including the Russian Federation. This may be said unequivocally.”

    Bit different from the recent utterances from Washington’s “man in the Ukraine”.

    Love the sly dig at the drunken swine of a Ukraine “president” in the phrase “soberly assess”.


    1. I note he will remain as head of the governing party, chairman of the security council and hold the title “Leader of the Nation”. “President” sounds pretty picayune compared with that. He does say he wants to make way for a ‘new generation of leaders’, but it is not as though he were being forced out by ‘a wave of grassroots street protests’ as the western regime-changers always like to bill the change of power when it was a coup. He seems to be leaving entirely on his own terms, and although he was not really expected to run for re-election, I think this is still a bit of a surprise for the west. I can’t imagine Washington can have had time to be ready with a Charismatic Young Opposition Leader Who Speaks Truth To Power.

      I’m sure they would love to have their own man in the big chair – Kazakhstan is meant to be an ‘oil-rich country’. and there aren’t too many phrases which will more reliably cause drool to appear on Washington’s lower lip than that one. Moreover, it is an aligned power with Russia, and therefore contains rich potential for destabilizing and isolating Russia. But I don’t think they have anyone groomed to contest Nazarbayev. Or even much of an ‘opposition movement’ on the ground.


      1. Nazarbayev’s daughter Dariga might succeed him as President if there are no other contenders for the leadership. Nazarbayev can still have some influence as a sort of mentor or senior advisor. Lee Kuan Yew did this in Singapore from 1990 when he gave up being PM after decades in the position.


  8. The Real News Network
    Published on 18 Mar 2019
    On his first visit to the U.S., President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro eagerly receives his instructions from the CIA and Trump’s foreign policy team. Alex Main of CEPR analyses the visit.


      1. Oh well, good luck to Jair Bolsonaro in persuading the Brazilian military to make unnecessary work for itself in picking a fight with the Venezuelan armed forces along the border in remote jungle full of anacondas and with rivers stocked with piranhas.


  9. Tim Hayward: Where do the interests of democracy lie? Working Group responds to UK minister’s attack on critics of the “Integrity Initiative”

    The Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media has published a response to the recent attack on the group by Sir Alan Duncan.

    This page is open for comments on that response. (A copy of the response follows.)…

    The rest at the link.

    It is heresy to question the word, even that of the lying bastard government.


    1. Good catch. Of course the notion that holding the government to account, when what it is saying is demonstrably not true, is somehow ‘undermining democracy’ is preposterous.


  10. Read the comments to the article..Boeing better hope and pray that none of these folk are on the jury!!!!!
    This is a tragic ,sad, sad situation..but some of the comments are gallows humor freakin’ funny and Spot On!!!!
    My fellow Americans-some-are apparently a little smarter that I thought… Perhaps I recently should been given more credit to their intelligence!!

    “L2 days ago
    Yeah, that’s what I want when I fly. A hastily put together untested software patch for my airplane.”

    Sounds like a windows 98 upgrade

    Laurencius37 minutes ago
    Always remember that the folks in US Federal Gov was more than happy to put every man, woman, and child on one of these flying coffins for several days after the second crash before they suddenly came to their senses and now, “Oh, look – here’s some fixes for the problems that didn’t exist!”

    Also the “P” word-Prosecutors -keeps poppin’ up in the articles…I would not be surprised if the “I ” word-Indictments-didn’t start to make more frequent guest appearances!–finance.html


  11. The Real News Network
    Published on 19 Mar 2019
    Bribery and corruption is the real problem in college admissions, not affirmative action, says historian Gerald Horne–With host Paul Jay


  12. Every day, it seems, the Kiev Porker accuses Russia of something …

    Порошенко обвинил Россию в торможении развития киевского метро
    20 марта 2019, 06:03

    Poroshenko has accused Russia of slowing down the development of the Kiev metro

    President of the Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has claimed Russia is the reason for the poor development of the Kiev metro.

    He made this statement during an inspection of the construction of new metro stations in the Ukrainian capital.

    According to Poroshenko, the Kiev metro had stopped running only once – from February 18 to February 20, 2014, when “Russian aggression” had allegedly begun. It was, however, during this period that clashes on Independence Square escalated, RIA Novosti notes.

    “And, of course, it (the aggression. – ed.) slowed down the Kiev metro development plans. There were also hybrid war attacks. In 2014 alone, there were more than 200 reports received of bombs being in the metro system”, says a statement published by NewsOne.

    The Ukrainian leader assured that “attempts to paralyze the work of the metro and the life of the city have definitely failed”.

    “We have learnt to resist aggression, both on the battlefield and in Kiev”, said Poroshenko, adding that the current mayor, Vitali Klitschko, had made a great contribution to the development of Kiev.

    Glory to the Ukraine! To the Heroes, glory!

    Does anyone take notice of this criminal now?


    1. When does Russia find time to do anything else? Your’re right: Not a day goes by that we are not treated to a stunning new revelation of Russia being behind something or other. Venzuela? Russia. North Korea? Russia, again. Literally anything in the Ukraine, the Baltics, France, Germany, Paraguay, South Sudan, Suriname, Pakistan? Russia!

      It’s a wonder that they have the manpower to keep the lights on and the streets paved. Are you sure those folks who hassled you about your residency were Russians, and not outsourced?


  13. Well, well; lookie h’yar. US Air Force officers in charge of launching the nation’s ballistic missiles routinely cheat on tests – oh, excuse me, I meant “help each other out”, because if you don’t get a perfect score, you’ll never be promoted.

    What a terrible job – there are checklists for everything! And then you get tested on your knowledge of the checklists! So you kind of have to cheat.

    Let me tell you something first, and then ask you something. First, checklists work. Every organization which cannot afford a mistake uses them, to make sure its employees methodically go through the procedures when there is an emergency and pandemonium ensues, and you can’t think straight because of noise and panic. Pick up your clipboard, and read “All emergency personnel wearing proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)” Check. Calm down, and go through the list. It will make sure you don’t forget anything.

    Now let me ask you something. If you could memorize the checklist – what the fuck would you need a checklist for? How can you be tested on your knowledge of a checklist without memorizing it? And if you don’t have to memorize it, why would you have to cheat? You can just read it, and write down the answer. Checklists were developed so people would read them, not memorize them.

    Let me tell you a secret; as a former Navy man, I always thought the Air Force was a bit squirrely. Except my former boss, who was an Air Force major – he was a very together type. Anyway, this just confirms my suspicions.


      1. It does look like things are heating up. I still maintain, though, that Boeing itself will not be hurt by it. They can’t; it’s a bellwether stock, and punishing it hard invites a sharp market correction. In fact, it is even possible the FAA will take the whole rap.


      2. The deeper issues behind the faulty sensor issue is that flight-critical sensors (as is the MCAS sensor) should be two or three sensors to provide redundancy. That omission is a very big sin along with keeping its purpose and possible failure modes a secret.

        Until redundant sensors with the necessary software upgrades are installed and tested along with pilot training including simulator time is completed, that turkey should not fly. Experts outside of the US are talking months.


    1. That site contains an excellent layman’s explanation of the malfunction, so that it is easy to understand; thanks for posting it.

      “So, how did this happen? How did these faulty sensors get past the FAA’s safety checks? The Seattle Times story describes an FAA with limited time and resources farming out safety procedures to Boeing themselves. This delegation of safety analyses to aircraft manufacturers has been going on for some time.”

      You could transpose that explanation to the banking crisis which led to the financial crash – a government fattened by lobbying farmed out borrowing and lending regulation to the banks. And apparently nobody learned anything, and once again a major industry was allowed to regulate itself, with complete disregard for the tenet that a corporation’s first and overriding motivation is profit, and the increase of same.

      I’d just like to remind the world that the late John McCain proposed to government, as the financial industry started the wobble which would turn into a full crash, that the solution was more deregulation.


    2. had some interesting Q&A forums on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 Angle-of-Attack (AoA) sensor issue. One forum noted that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets have 2 AoA sensors (each on either side of the cockpit) and that only one was linked to the MCAS.

      Incidentally the MCAS-linked AoA sensor on the Lion Air jet that crashed in October last year had been replaced by engineers at Denpasar airport the day before its last trip. After it was fixed, the plane flew from Denpasar to Jakarta with no problems.

      I also found at that Airbus jets have 3 AoA sensors: 2 in the usual positions and an extra one near the tail. The third sensor stays quiet unless the front 2 sensors conflict in their data.


      1. Yes, a key failure by Boeing was using just one sensor for critical flight data. Oddly, two were available but they decided to use just one. Also, allowing much greater adjustment of the elevators than originally reported made a bad situation worse.

        Those Boeing Bastards took short cuts, kept them hidden and tried to downplay the seriousness of the flaws after the first crash.

        My guess is, in a just world, there will be massive civil penalties including punitive damages and criminal prosecutions as well.


        1. All true: but the FAA deserves a share of the blame. The FAA outsourced certification to the builder – how stupid is that? – and then conspired with the company to keep the planes from being grounded because it would damage the corporate image.


      2. This is what made me laugh about complaints state side that aircraft ‘have become too complex.’ Airbus has been doing it for decades. Successfully. Computers are there to aid the pilot, when there is a problem the system tells the pilots and hands control over to them (from envelope protection (system won’t let pilot stall/do stupid stuff) to direct law (pilot fully in control).

        Boeing’s MCAS design was poorly thought out and poorly deployed, not to mention that whatever worries engineers may have had (if any) didn’t get past management. If that is not a sign of institutional rot, I don’t know what is. Stuff also obviously needs to take in to account how humans function, i.e. not ideal lab conditions and assuming less information is better is unbelievable in these times.

        It’s time to bring back the Flight Engineer, probably as an virtual assistant to the flight crew. Is there an app for that? Or, add an the ‘Oh shit’ feature that exist in some military aircraft for automated recovery.

        And then the macro picture is the globalists/global companies & the political right wing telling us that ‘regulation’ is strangling business and demanding what little and out of date rules that already exist should be thrown out of the window. Everything else is socialism!


  14. It…just…won’t die…

    The Pentagon wants $300 million to experiment with a space-based direct energy weapon for intercepting ballistic missiles – but the request may be deliberate misinformation, in the spirit of the Reagan-era ‘Star Wars’ program.

    I wonder what congressional district will get the pork?

    The article points out most of the problems but erred when it speculated the weapon could counter Russian hypersonic missiles. Nope, never, nada. Even if the weapon were able to generate a well focused neutral particle beam of sufficient power steered with sufficient accuracy to damage an ICBM warhead (flying pigs would be more probable and effective), the beam would quickly dissipate in the atmosphere even at high altitude where the hypersonics fly.

    The only plausible reason behind this program is money transfer to a defense contractor and associated academic institutions.


    1. Correct. The further out the beam has to go, the more it is diffused by moisture and dust in the atmosphere, and reduction below the Mean Hull Penetration Level (MHPL) would take place well under the altitude it would need to reach an ICBM in anything but the terminal stage. There are already plenty of weapons to address that kind of intercept, with every bit as likely a chance of success.

      $300 million would be a drop in the bucket, and the figure was likely only proposed in the way of a foot in the door, to pave the way for further requests.


  15. Глава «Нафтогаза» заявил об отмене «Газпромом» транзита через Украину
    20 March, 23:10

    The head of “Naftogaz” has announced the cancellation of “Gazprom” transit through the Ukraine
    Naftogaz knows that Gazprom has already begun to notify countries that depend on gas transit through the
    [Ukraine] republic that this transportation will cease.

    The head of Naftogaz, Andrei Kobolev, has said that Gazprom had begun to officially notify countries bordering on the republic that from the beginning of next year, gas transportation through the territory of the Ukraine would be stopped. He stated this in an interview with RBC Ukraine.

    “Gazprom has already begun to officially notify countries that border the Ukraine or are dependent on our transit that this transit will cease from the beginning of 2020”, he said. Kobolev did not cite the sources of this information.

    RBC made an enquiry about this with Gazprom.

    In March, the Bulgarian authorities announced the receipt of such a letter from Gazprom Export. At Gazprom, RBC was then told that they had not sent any official notification to the Bulgarian authorities about their intention to stop gas transit along the Trans-Balkan Corridor from January of next year.

    Kobolev shared his concerns about the fact that that Ukraine faces a complete loss of gas transit after the construction and commissioning of the Nord stream-2 pipeline in early March. “We shall lose all transit. Because there is also the ‘Turkish stream’, which is likely to be built and launched by the end of 2019”, he also noted.

    Running around with wings a-flapping like a headless chicken.

    Tough shit!


    1. The above should have been italicized from The head of Naftogaz, Andrei Kobolev to which is likely to be built and launched by the end of 2019”, he also noted..

      The last two sentences above are my comment.


  16. Генпрокурор Украины заявил о переданном ему США списке «неприкасаемых»

    The Prosecutor General of the Ukraine has said that a list of “untouchables” had been given him by the USA
    According to Yuriy Lutsenko, a list of persons whom the authorities in the Ukraine should not prosecute had been received by him from the American Ambassador. In the state Department this information has been labelled as an “outright falsification”.

    Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has said that at her first meeting with him the American Ambassador to the Ukraine, Mari Jovanovic, had given him a list of persons who should not be prosecuted by the Ukrainian authorities. This was said by the ministry head during an interview on the TV channel “Hill”.

    “Unfortunately, the US Ambassador to Kiev [Jovanovic] gave me at our first meeting a list of people whom we should not prosecute”, Lutsenko said. According to him, he declared that his reaction to this was to declare it inadmissible.

    “Nobody in this country, neither our President nor our Parliament nor our Ambassador, shall force me to turn down the criminal prosecution [of suspects] of criminal activity”, Lutsenko emphasized.

    He also said that the ministry controlled by him had not received funds to the tune of $4.4 million, which the US Embassy in the Ukraine allegedly had to allocate to it. “The situation was quite strange”, Lutsenko noted, having specified that this money, according to him, had been earmarked for transfer to the Prosecutor’s office, but it had “never received it”.

    The state Department, commenting on this information concerning the handing over of a list of “untouchables”, called it an “outright falsification”. “We have seen reports of these accusations [against Jovanovic], said a department representative, according to whom, the United States currently “does not provide any assistance to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office (PGO)”.

    Earlier, as admitted by Lutsenko during the TV interview, the state Department “had tried to support fundamental reform of the legal system” in the Ukraine which reform, amongst other things, was supposed to affect the prosecutor’s office. However, when Washington considered the desire of the Ukrainian supervisory department’s staff to conduct “genuine reforms as insufficient”, the funds allocated for this purpose were redirected by the United States “to more productive projects,” said the foreign ministry spokesman.

    The TV channel Hill has been asking the US Embassy in the Ukraine for additional comments.

    What an outrageous and clearly mendacious accusation to have made against the US Ambassador to Banderastan!


    1. Again, the translated part of the above has not been italicized, although I am sure I did what was necessary for this to happen.

      “What an outrageous and clearly mendacious accusation to have made against the US Ambassador to Banderastan!” is my comment!


      1. Yeah, the correct coding was there. I removed it and italicized the pertinent passage myself, and when I saved the changes, it stayed italicized for less than 2 seconds, and then flipped to default plain text. So everyone is on notice – the final sentence is Moscow Exile’s comment, the remainder should be italicized as a quote.


  17. Новый санкционный список Украины: от сайтов и книжных магазинов до заводов и холдингов РФ

    New sanctions list in the Ukraine: from websites and bookstores to factories and holdings in Russia
    The Ukraine National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) has included in a new list of Russian legal entities against which there shall be restrictive measures: Internet book-shops and publishing houses, companies and factories, construction companies and media people.

    What a really clever cnut I am!!!

    In particular, Ukrainian Internet providers will be obliged to close access to “Litres” bookshops, Maze.Ru and Reksoft.

    Restrictions shall be imposed on online stores as well as three-year restrictions on trade operations with Ukrainian companies.

    In addition, the new list includes eight Russian publishers: Eksmo, AST, ZAO Book World, the Chamber, Tsentrpoligraf, Yauza, Jauza-press, Publishing House Peter.

    The list also includes the “MAKO Holding” of Alexander Yanukovych, the EN + Group and a number of others associated with the Oleg Deripaska companies, the Russian “Power machines” and “Stroytransgaz”, and also the shipbuilding plant “Zaliv” of the People’s Deputy Konstantin Zhevago.

    Under sanctions shall also be Ukrainian subsidiaries of the Russian state banks Sberbank, VEB and VTB, from which for 2 years it will be prohibited to make withdrawals, thereby favouring other banking concerns operating in the same field.

    NSDC has also included in the list of sanctions more than 15 Russian and Crimean construction companies. The list includes: JSC “Krasnodargazstroy” and LLC “Mostdorstroy” (both — Krasnodar, Russia), LLC “KBK Group” (Sochi, Russia) and JSC “Directorate for the Construction of the Railway Berkakit-Tommot-Yakutsk” (Aldan, Russia). The list also includes the Crimea limited liability companies “Bosporektostroi” and GidrPromStroi”.

    Sanctions have been imposed on these companies for a period of three years and provision made for the blocking of their assets, as well as a ban on the implementation of public procurement of goods, works and services.

    We should point out that on March 20, the President of the Ukraine Petro Poroshenko enacted an NSDC decision on the introduction of sanctions against legal and physical persons of the Russian Federation involved in aggression in the Crimea and the Donbass.

    Growing ever stronger, Banderstan!


    1. What is most likely to happen is that Banderastan will become so poor, its major investor – Russia – will end up owning it by default.

      This is why Kurt Volker and the US State Department would really, really like it if Poroshenko wins another term. Perhaps to the point they will help manipulate the vote, or affect not to notice it is being done – his constant niggling actions against Russia.


  18. A more recently taken photograph of the Pig in Kiev:

    Rumours now abounding in Banderastan and elsewhere of his having a serious health problem.

    Let Doctor Moscowexile offer his diagnosis: the bastard is an out-and-out drunkard!

    Some Russian shrink has even said that the Pig is a border-line head-banger:

    Президент Украины Петр Порошенко страдает пограничным психическим расстройствам личности.

    President of the Ukraine Petro Poroshenko suffers from borderline mental disorders.


  19. Two Russian Su-27 forced US B-52 bomber move away from Russian border


    And a B-52 is flying over the Baltic for why, shits ‘n’ giggles? It is being upgraded (>2024) to take the next generation of nuclear tipped cruise missiles (LRSO – Long-Range Stand-Off missile).

    In other news, London based Russian oligarch entrepreneur and owner of the London Evening Standard, the Independent & London Live TV station is putting his cash in to a corporate travel airline based in Moscow:

    RusAviaInsider: Russian companies to create a Superjet 100 corporate charter airline

    …Gathered at the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi, the partners signed a letter of intent on February 14 for the creation of a corporate charter airline using Superjet 100s. The project is the brainchild of Alexander Lebedev, the owner of NRC and the British newspaper The Independent, who, in the past, has significant experience of managing aviation businesses.

    Lebedev first voiced his idea of a new corporate travel airline in May 2018, when he approached the Russian government with a suggestion to upgrade as many as 100 SSJ100s to VIP standards. If such a fleet was made available, Lebedev declared he is willing to invest in the creation of an airline that would focus on enhanced comfort air travel – “at a price 10 per cent higher than Aeroflot’s premium service.”

    His concept is that the venture would take the shape of a public/private partnership in which the government would contribute the SSJ100 aircraft and a private investor would finance their customisation into VIP configuration. Resultant profits would be distributed among the stakeholders in proportion to their shareholding…

    Uh-oh. And what if UK gov do ‘an Abramovic on him?* Well maybe not as Lebedev has both Russian and British passports. For Russia, keep your enemies close, your friends even closer? I could imagine that he would be prime British candidate to be parachuted in to a Glorious Russia withOut Putin (GROPe)!

    * Apparently a British billionaire is interested in buying Chelsea FC….


    1. Pentagon sends B-52 bombers to Europe for exercises amid tensions with Russia

      …The move is widely viewed as a message to the Kremlin as Moscow makes aggressive moves in the region, CNN noted in a report on Thursday, adding that four of the nuclear-capable bombers conducted flights around Europe, near the Norwegian, Baltic and the Mediterranean seas, on Monday…

      A willy swinging exercise if there ever was one. It’s just missing a T-Bird!

      In other news: As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges

      …Ukraine’s top prosecutor divulged in an interview aired Wednesday on Hill.TV that he has opened an investigation into whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.

      The leak of the so-called black ledger files to U.S. media prompted Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign and gave rise to one of the key allegations in the Russia collusion probe that has dogged Trump for the last two and a half years…

      Plenty more at the link.

      This is just the latest in a series of opinion pieces by author ‘John Sollomon’ for tracing the stuff that most of the US media gives a miss.

      John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.


          1. Why yessireee!

            “Special Relationship” and all that!

            The UK has been occupied by US armed forces since 1942.

            Not far from the “Dreaming Spires of Oxford” are US airbases, at one of which “STRAY81” landed.

            And not only in Oxfordshire are situated USAF bases.

            What might deceive those who take only a cursory glance at signposts for such bases is that they are all labelled “RAF”, e.g. RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, to which base is also tagged the initials SAC/USAFE, which stand for Strategic Air Command and United States Air Force Europe.


            1. When I was a child, I never once saw an aircraft with RAF roundels. In the skies above there always droned USAF aeroplanes, as not far away from where I lived was RAF Burtonwood, home to the servicing centre for the United States Eighth, Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces aircraft, otherwise known as Base Air Depot 1 (BAD 1) and home to 18, 000 US servicemen at the time of my birth.

              All the “Flying Fortresses” constructe by Boeing in the USA landed there before being sent off to their operational bases in East Anglia and Lincolnshire. And notwithstanding the fact that all signposts for the base read “RAF Burtonwood”, everybody in my old neck of the woods knew the place better as “The Yankee Airbase”, even though there was a token RAF presence there right up to when I went into exile, namely the RAF Police still maintained security there. I suppose that was just a sop to the “Limeys”.


          2. It is fairly common to refer to outlying fragments of the kingdom as ‘stone frigates’, meaning like a naval unit, with the ability to exert force and influence in its behalf, only permanently moored by geography. The writer is just being sarcastic, speaking of Britain as a useful lackey for American military posturing.

            Generally speaking, governments do not like to name a major naval unit after the country, because of the fearful symbolism generated if it is lost or sunk. There was, however, a USS AMERICA. But they are the exceptional nation, nobody would ever dare sink the AMERICA. There was also a USS ENGLAND, but it was named after a person and not the country. Generally speaking also, the USA does not name those ships named after people while the namesake person is still living. I believe the CARL VINSON was the first exception, but there have been several since.


            1. I was starting to get visions of the UK as a giant concentration camp. I think I need to get off my current cough lozenges.


  20. Former Brazil pres Temer has finally been arrested for corruption, but who cares, he’s served his purpose:

    …While in office, Mr Temer was hit by corruption charges which were blocked by his allies in Congress…

    Oh, and Kaspersky is in the top rank in the latest AV Comparatives report (and a more recent android app av report):
    and this:

    Kaspersky Lab files antitrust filing against Apple

    Cybersecurity firm has taken issue with App Store policies on parental control apps

    What has Kaspersky ever done for us?! According to O-Bomber Russia doesn’t make anything useful…


  21. MARCH 21, 2019 / 6:56 PM / UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO
    British court suspends Gazprom-Naftogaz case

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – The British High Court has suspended its case into a dispute between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz until an appeal process at a Swedish court is complete, Gazprom said in a statement on Thursday.

    The Ukrainian state oil and gas firm said last year that a London court had granted its request to freeze the British assets of Gazprom to enforce an earlier arbitration ruling from Sweden.


  22. MCAS issues in a nutshell:

    Blame for both disasters currently centers on Boeing’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, flight control system for the 737 MAX — a system that was assessed as safe by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) when Boeing was getting the 737 MAX certified to fly. But as reported this week by The Seattle Times (ST), there appear to have been “several crucial flaws” in the System Safety Analysis (SSA) review that Boeing conducted on MCAS at the FAA’s behest.

    Yes, you read that right. The FAA appears to have delegated the job of evaluating MCAS’s safety to Boeing, and then approved the company’s report. Indeed, in some instances, ST reports, FAA managers, pressed for time, delegated even their review of Boeing’s assessment of Boeing’s work “back to Boeing” itself!

    As one engineer quoted by ST lamented: “There wasn’t a complete and proper review of the documents. … Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates.”

    Did this contribute to the 737 MAX’s two crashes? Citing engineers “at the FAA and other aviation organizations … directly involved with the evaluations or familiar with the document,” ST further noted that the SSA:

    Understated by a factor of four the distance MCAS could automatically swivel the plane’s horizontal tail (the stabilizer) in order to direct the plane downwards (to avert a stall). Initially designed to be limited to 0.6 degree of movement, MCAS ultimately was enabled to move the stabilizer 2.5 degrees. As a result, pilots may have been surprised at how difficult it would be to manually correct the automatic flight adjustments dictated by MCAS.
    Did not address MCAS’s ability to reset itself and repeatedly ­re-swivel the tail to resume a dive, after pilot attempts to correct the move manually. Just two such swivels could theoretically have pushed the stabilizer its maximum distance, putting the plane into a full dive.
    Characterized the risk that MCAS would mistakenly trigger and point the plane’s nose down “based on input from a single sensor” as only “major” or, at worst, “hazardous.” In FAA-speak, neither of these danger levels highlighted a risk that MCAS could all on its own crash the plane “based on input from a single sensor.”


    “Boeing, in developing the 737 Max 8, obviously felt intense competitive pressure to get the new aircraft to market as quickly as possible,” wrote Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger in a column in MarketWatch this week. Sullenberger is the pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in 2009 and a leading air safety expert.

    “When flight testing revealed an issue with meeting the certification standards, the company developed a fix… but did not tell airline pilots about it. In mitigating one risk, Boeing seems to have created another, greater risk,” he wrote.

    Sullenberger added, “After the crash of Lion Air 610 last October, it was apparent that this new risk needed to be effectively addressed.” But instead of grounding the aircraft and immediately fixing the problem, Boeing did everything it could to conceal the deadly defect and keep the aircraft flying.

    *****In other words, Boeing executives evidently acted in a reckless, negligent manner, contributing to the deaths of 346 people.****

    Sullenberger concluded, “It has been reported that Boeing pushed back in discussions with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] about the extent of changes that would be required, and after the second crash, of Ethiopian 302, the Boeing CEO reached out to the US President to try to keep the 737 Max 8 from being grounded in the US.”

    Both the FAA and the Trump administration, for their part, were more than willing to run interference for the company.”

    ….The technological advances that have been made in air travel over the past decades are indisputable. For the first time in world history, travelers can move from any two points in the world within a single day. This technology must be freed from the restraints of giant corporations and of the capitalist system as a whole. This requires the
    ****nationalization of the major airlines and aerospace companies, their transformation into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities to provide for social need, not private profit.****



  23. Sullenberger’s article:

    “But now, our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged. Boeing and the FAA have been found wanting in this ugly saga that began years ago but has come home to roost with two terrible fatal crashes, with no survivors, in less than five months, on a new airplane type, the Boeing 737 Max 8, something that is unprecedented in modern aviation history.”



    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday threatened to pull out of the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in China next week if Beijing refuses to allow a representative of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to attend.

    “China’s unwillingness to recognize and provide a visa to Hausmann is a breach of long-established Inter-American Development Bank protocols and procedures,” the U.S. official told Reuters.”

    Protocols , rules, regulations and established procedures and dictates of International law matter to the gringo sonsofbtches…..

    Sometimes….just sometimes….


    1. Maybe Beijing should just issue a notice which reads “Go big or go home”. I don’t know why such a group would want the United States present anyway, with its endless politicization of everything, just as it is attempting to do now by getting the bank to legitimize Guaido’s takeover attempt. The USA is probably the biggest investor and partner, but so what? Is it worth it to be told what to do all the time by the Americans? If they threaten to pull all their funding – see ya, chumps. But I don’t think they would, because that would mean losing all influence in the region which is not either private investment or military force. Meanwhile China’s trade with Latin America jumped 13-fold between 1995 and 2007 – from $8.4 Billion to $110 Billion – and China is now the region’s second-biggest trading partner, after Uncle Bossy.,4828.html


  25. “After Wednesday’s meeting of the council of ministers, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux announced that President Emmanuel Macron would activate army units during this weekend’s “yellow vest” protests.

    *** This is the first time since the 1954–1962 war in Algeria that the army is to be mobilized in police operations on French soil against the population.****

    Griveaux announced that the operation would have the task of “securing fixed and static points in conformity with their mission, that is to say principally the protection of official buildings.” He justified his recourse to the armed forces by claiming this was necessary to allow the police forces to “concentrate on protest movements and on the maintenance and re-establishment of public order.”

    Mon Dieu…La petite salope semble avoir des ennuis!!!!


    1. Whatever happened to the principle that the protesters are entitled to take over public buildings if they believe they need a headquarters from which to plan their next move? As previously introduced By Angela Merkel, to excuse the Ukrainian ‘protesters’ seizure of public buildings in Kuh-yiv in the birth-pangs of the Glorious Maidan?


  26. “After far-right terror attack, New York Times glorifies New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
    By Tom Peters
    21 March 2019
    Following the March 15 terrorist attack by Australian fascist Brenton Tarrant, who killed 50 people in two Christchurch mosques motivated by hatred of immigrants and Muslims, the political establishment and media in New Zealand, Australia, the US and Europe have sought to wash their hands of any responsibility for the massacre.

    The gunman is being falsely presented as someone who acted alone and whose extremism had nothing to do with the right-wing, anti-immigrant policies advocated for decades by the media and capitalist politicians”

    “Far right attacks on UK Muslims following New Zealand massacre
    By Paul Mitchell
    21 March 2019
    Several right-wing assaults have taken place in Britain since the horrific killing of 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand March 15,

    Within hours, a 27-year-old man was attacked with a “hammer” and a “batten,” causing injuries to his head, outside a mosque in Whitechapel, East London. The victim had to be taken to hospital for checks before being discharged. The attack started when a gang of white men in their 20s shouted Islamophobic abuse and called the Friday worshippers “terrorists,” according to witnesses. “The suspects returned to their car and left the scene before police arrived,” a spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police said.

    Despite the incident being filmed by several onlookers, no arrests have been made by the police.

    While describing the attack as a “horrible hate crime”, Detective Chief Inspector Sean Channing was desperate to play down its significance. “Whilst there were initial Islamophobic comments made by this group towards the individual which are being treated seriously, I would like to make clear that at no point did the group approach any mosque or congregation in the area… There is no evidence to suggest that the mosque near the area was the intended target”

    Enter the Goddess ex Machina:

    “Since then, Ardern has been glorified in the international media, including for having a baby while in office, which was ludicrously presented as a major step forward for “women workers.” A September 8, 2018 article in the New York Times described Ardern’s victory as a “preview of what could be possible” in the US, “where a stampede of women—including young mothers—is seeking office in 2018.” The right-wing character of such identity politics, central to the Democratic Party, is revealed in New Zealand, where the purpose of Ardern’s feminism is to provide a progressive façade to a pro-war, anti-working class government.

    The posturing of Ardern and the Labour Party as opponents of anti-Muslim xenophobia and racism is an attempt to cover up the fact that every establishment party in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the US has helped to create the foul political atmosphere in which fascists and right-wing nationalists have grown. Fascism can only be defeated by the international working class, united in a socialist struggle against the capitalist system, which is the source of austerity, nationalism and imperialist war.


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