Listen Up, America: You’re Either With Your Government, or You’re With Putin

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”

One dime is all it cost me, and
I found out for sure; you know,
that you double-crossed me:
Just how much can I endure?

Harlequin, from “Innocence”

“Everything is a contest. All dealings among men are a contest in which some will succeed and others fail. And some are failing quite spectacularly.”

Brandon Sanderson; “The Way of Kings”

You probably thought you had seen it all this year where Russia Hysteria In America is concerned. You probably thought there was no way America could top the loony accusations that Russia rigged the 2016 election for Trump, when the only part of the election Russia could conceivably have affected – the popular vote – was actually won by his opponent. Trump won in the electoral college, which would be impossible for Russia to manipulate – the electoral college votes using a paper ballot with a chain of custody impossible for Russian agents to interdict.A Pennsylvania elector holds her ballot for President-elect Donald Trump before casting it in December 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It would be quite a feat for Russia to rig the election so that the candidate it wanted to win actually lost, but still won – I’m not sure too many investigators could stay with that pretzel logic, and if the Russians are so smart they could pull that off with a layout of less than $110,000.00 when the combined spending of the Democrats and the Republicans on the 2016 election was $2.6 Billion (just on the Trump-Clinton war), it is probably useless for Washington to struggle against them any further. It would be like Dirty Harry in a shootout with a guy from the Bronze Age, or Crocodile Dundee in a knife fight against Boy George armed with a sherbet spoon.

But we’ve been over that before; America persists with the deluded canard that Russia ‘interfered’ in the 2016 election only because Hillary Clinton was incapable of coming to terms with having been beaten by Donald Trump, the intellectual equivalent of a street race between a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Segway. I didn’t want Clinton to win because she is a warhag whose first instinct is to send in the Marines for anything more competitive than the Boxing Day Sale at Best Buy, but I would have to stipulate that she is so much smarter than Trump that they might be different species. Even mild-mannered dotard Bernie Sanders plays along with the charade, raising arms like steamed noodles in a fighting stance as he vows to protect America’s precious democratic process from the blackhearted machinations of Vladimir Putin.

While not too busy subverting the will of the American people, lumbering them with a President more like a petulant four-year-old with a bad comb-over, Russia shot down MH17, stole Crimea, invaded Ukraine, cyberattacked Ukraine over and over, rigged Brexit so the UK had to leave the European Union even though most of the British wanted to stay, hacked the French election and no end of other skullduggery, all of which America said it could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, and none of which it proved. Ever. Satellite photos of Buk missile launches, anyone?

So surely, surely to God the USA would not get right down on the floor and roll in its own sticky flopsweat any further, not make any more of an hysterical fool of itself before an increasingly skeptical and unsympathetic world on the issue of Russians under the bed, hiding in the cupboards, relentlessly sandpapering the exceptionalism right off of the beacon of democracy?

I beg to differ. Next up, Russia pits Americans against…Americans. Yes, in a story of crazy plot twists in which Russia is simultaneously friendless and isolated with an economy in ruins, and an all-powerful multi-pronged democracy skewer taking down one hapless freedom-loving nation after another, Russia lifts its eyes to the biggest and most ambitious target of all – it’s TRYING TO MAKE AMERICA DESTROY ITSELF.

Okay, it sounded way more scary with the soundtrack and the special effects.

I know, you’re probably thinking, who does this come from – some conspiracy theorist with a tin-foil hat and a George Orwell fixation? Au contraire, mon frere – this is David Porter, an assistant section chief with the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force.

Right off the mark, I thought, that can’t be right. The FBI is a domestic law-enforcement and investigation agency. But I be go to hell if the FBI doesn’t include an intelligence wing. Because, you know, the United States does not have enough intelligence agencies.

And it’s probably not the bureaucratic equivalent of a lemonade stand, either, with a basement office that used to be the janitor’s closet, and two people sharing an old Pentium computer – the FBI employs 35,000 people (although of course they’re not going to tell you the real number; you might be a Russian spy), and has an annual budget of about $9.5 Billion, with a ‘B’. It’s kind of comical to read that they have that much money to play with, and then scroll up to see that one of their missions is “to combat public corruption at all levels”. Quite a few of them must be using their share for singing lessons or something, considering a 2017 survey by Transparency International found that (1) nearly 70% of Americans surveyed believed the US government is failing to fight corruption, up from 50% the year before; (2) more than half those surveyed cited fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption; and, (3) of 9 influential groups identified, government institutions and officials in Washington were perceived as the most corrupt in the country. A whopping 44 per cent of Americans said that most or all of those in the Office of the President are corrupt. Heck of a job, FBI.

Well, we’re not here to talk about corruption in America, fascinating as that might prove – I keep getting sidetracked. Let’s see what Mr. Porter had to say.

Okay, this is good: he says that “Russia [is] generally engaged in “information confrontation” aimed at blurring fact from fiction, eroding American confidence in democratic institutions and driving wedges into society’s fracture lines”.

What, you mean like MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell reporting that Russian oligarchs had co-signed loans for Donald Trump? That kind of ‘blurring fact from fiction’? I can’t wait to hear how Russia was responsible for O’Donnell’s admitted unprofessionalism – their tricky disinformation made Deutsche Bank tell America the story was not true. And I have to say, if we could just backtrack for a second to the perception of corruption we just discussed, the belief by nearly half of Americans surveyed that the highest office in America is staffed by persons who are mostly or all corrupt kind of says it all about ‘confidence in America’s democratic institutions’. Who sponsored that survey, again? The Kremlin? Oh, no – I remember: Transparency International. Supported by George Soros and any number of democracy manure-spreaders just like him.

And I’ll tell you what; don’t even get me started about American social fracture lines, because I have my mind pretty much made up on what causes those, and it isn’t the Russians. The Russians were not in any way responsible for Citizens United vs. FEC, the 2010 US Supreme Court decision which ruled that spending on political campaigns is a form of free speech, and thus cannot be restricted. Therefore, US corporations were freed to spend unlimited amounts of money on assuring their preferred candidate was elected. ‘Cause, you know, lots of American citizens clear $290 Billion a year, like Exxon-Mobil. Or $514 Billion, like Wal-Mart; I’m sure everyone’s vote counts just the same. Actually, you probably couldn’t tell, but I am being sarcastic – it’s like a friend confided to me just today, when we were talking about politics; “If voting really decided anything, they wouldn’t let you do it”. So I guess you could say the feverish efforts to make sure the voters turn out in droves every election is a measure of just how useless an exercise it really is, in terms of the ordinary citizen getting to choose who rules over him or her. All voting really does is lend an affirmative veneer to the corporations’ choice.

Or maybe Mr. Porter was talking about fracture lines like America’s intelligence agencies tracking Americans’ social media accounts. Hey, you’ll love this – “…the CIA maintains a social-media tracking center operated out of an nondescript building in a Virginia industrial park.” I wonder if they get smart-ass remarks all the time, like “How’s the weather at Savushkina St. today, Comrade?” This source suggests the effort is focused on international users. Pull the other leg, comrade.

Well, that kind of reckless and malicious tampering cannot be allowed to go without a response, can it? Of course not. So what’s it gonna be? You guessed it, baby: sanctions.

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, along with Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, sent a letter Monday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging sanctions for “all those determined to be responsible for ongoing elections interference,” including Russia President Vladimir Putin.

Yes, America has evolved into a one-trick pony, and its trick is sanctions. Because America has lost any capability it might once have had to tell the difference between actions which piss people off and make them dislike you, and effective deterrents. Further, it has convinced itself that sanctions, which are the former, are actually the latter – that the world fears American sanctions, and that imposing them causes serious damage to the target.

I wonder if I can tell you just how amusing and ineffective American sanctions against Vladimir Putin would be. I don’t think I have the vocabulary. It would be like Taylor Swift threatening to sing Putin to death, or some bakery announcing it is going to make funny Putin faces out of sourdough until he resigns. Putin fears American sanctions like he fears being beaten up for his lunch money by Dora the Explorer. Not scary, Chuck Schumer.

But don’t take my word for it. Late last year, Putin addressed the “Russia Calling” Investment Forum in Moscow. While he was, as usual, restrained and polite in his treatment of the United States, and offered hopes that common interests would prevail in the end, he was unequivocal that rather than crippling and hurting Russia, American sanctions have strengthened its economy, made it more self-reliant and less trusting, and continue to damage Europe far more than Russia. No need to take his word for it, either; in 2017, UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy published a report on the deleterious effect of sanctions on Europe, in which he stated the EU states were losing approximately $3.2 Billion USD per month because of them. He noted the American-initiated sanctions “were intended to serve as a deterrent to Russia but run the risk of being only a deterrent to the international business community, while adversely affecting only those vulnerable groups which have nothing to do with the crisis”. The report also questioned at length whether the extraterritorial application of sanctions by the United States is legal under international law.

“But Russia has now largely weathered the restrictions after a period of capital flight and a financial crisis a few years ago. Russian equities are among some of the world’s top performers this year amid relatively low valuations and a strengthening currency.

Net returns on the MCSI Russia index were up more than 40% year-to-date as compared to the overall MSCI Emerging Market Index, which was up 10.35% in the same period, data from the MSCI at the end of October showed.

Russia’s central bank has tamed high inflation in the last few years with a policy of high interest rates (the interest rate was 17% in December 2014) but has since gradually lowered rates as inflation has fallen.

In October, the central bank again cut its main interest rate by a surprising 50 basis points to 6.5% and signaled that it could cut the rate again in the coming months. In its October statement, Russia’s central bank said that “the Russian economy’s growth rate still remains subdued” and it maintained its 2019 GDP growth forecast in the range of 0.8–1.3%.”

Taking on the flavour of a situation comedy, the country which was supposed to stumbleImage result for Putin devil and then fall now has its erstwhile would-be tormentor ‘right where it wants us’, according to The Grim Weeper, ‘Dr.’ Fiona Hill. A former official at the US National Security Council and former Russia advisor to US President Donald Trump, Hill moans that Putin has political America by the goolies, “making American political leaders and policymakers feel vulnerable, and causing them to doubt the legitimacy of their own systems”. No word on whether Putin has soured milk in America and caused children to be born with deformities, but I don’t expect such reports will be far behind.

Hill is not stupid, of course, and while this is amazingly clumsy psychology, that’s all it is, and she does not for a moment believe Vladimir Putin is in control of American politics. This is just another appeal – and you will hear more of them – for Americans to rally behind their government institutions and trust them without reservation.

Once a relatively sophisticated country with a mature and even dignified political milieu, America has deteriorated at an appalling rate to a state of tribal paganism which plays to Americans’ fear of the unknown, much as natives were once warned not to allow their photograph to be taken, lest their soul be stolen. Its kitty-paws batting at its selected enemy is not doing it any serious or sustainable damage, and is instead making America itself appear weak, addled and committed to a self-destructive course before an increasingly skeptical world.

 

 

 

 

630 thoughts on “Listen Up, America: You’re Either With Your Government, or You’re With Putin

  1. For what its worth, here is my take on COVID 19:
    – much more infectious than the various strains of the flu;
    – a little more lethal than said flu;

    The main health challenge is from overwhelming the medical system due to its potential for fast spread. Hence, the health consequence may be largely a function to the ratio of high-risk persons/respirators and the rate of new infections. The US government had weeks of advanced warning but apparently did little but chortle and denigrate the Chinese response (which is now recognized as being highly successful).

    Per recent reports, the US government knew of the severity and the main response was political insiders dumping stock likely to crash. Sounds a little like 911 in that regard.

    One thing for sure, COVID 19 will be the go-to excuse for every late delivery, every cost overrun, every layoff and all economic ills. Well, that and Russia of course.

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    1. Visited my GP the other day and saw his practice had a sign saying folk with cold and flu symptoms should contact a hospital instead. No wonder hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients if this advice is commonplace. Another medical practice in my area has the same advice. What’s the risk that someone with cold or flu goes to hospial and actually catches COVID-19 from a nurse or doctor pulled away from emergency ward to deal with people with cold, flu and common garden-variety coronaviruses, and ends up passing pathogens around thru no fault of his/her own?

      I’m sure this was how passengers on Diamond Princess in Japan and Grand Princess in SF all got COVID-19: stuck in their cabins during quarantine, they relied on the ship’s crew to deliver food. The crew spread the disease around.

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  2. Good discussion about Tulsi below. She has not betrayed anyone. She is doing what she had to do to continue to fight.

    View at Medium.com

    Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

    — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    I bring this up after seeing some Tulsi Gabbard supporters treating Tulsi like Judas. After suspending her campaign they say she betrayed them by endorsing Joe Biden. Did they not know that all candidates had to sign a pledge to endorse the winner or be left off ballots? Apparently, during These End Times™, endorsing Biden was too much to bear for some. The progressive bloc failed in its challenge to The Dark Side. Victory was snatched away from a seeming inevitable progressive dream come true. Crushed, the only hope left for many was in Tulsi not endorsing the greedy selfish schemes of the victors. That was for many the last hope for sanity in an insane political world — yet seemingly dashed by the one they loved. Their bereavement ran amok as emotions turned bitter. An understanding of Tulsi having to endorse Biden was too much for their fragile psyches. Their mood was resentful and apocalyptic.

    Tulsi supports The Establishment!

    Tulsi sold out to The Dark Side!

    I will not support Biden come hell or high water!

    The war is not over because of losing one battle. Much is being accomplished. Defeatism is not an option when the war is ongoing. The people still need a champion to continue the fight. The various criminal syndicates buying the American government have no plans to stop.

    Not one of us knows the challenges and threats she has faced.

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    1. Borg bitch sold out…end of story. Nothing in this reality compelled her to endorse corrupt racist senile POS Biden. Every sellout has some horseshit excuse…some supernatural demon had them by the throat and MADE them open their bodily orifices to the highest bidder….or some convoluted babble of philosophy and historical platitudes from which almost any inference could be drawn. LOL! Nope…trying to marginalize or demonize those who rightfully denounce her…..? She is comfortable being a sellout POS…We are comfortable calling her out for the path she chose of her own fucking free will.

      ..

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      1. Well, that’s a pretty unforgiving view. Mind you, it doesn’t matter what I think, as I’m not an American voter. But one thing about the spirited defense of her motives disturbs me – she had the courage to call out Clinton to her face, dare her to bring it, and even launch a lawsuit against her. I find it therefore a little tough to swallow that she meekly abided by convention and endorsed the chosen candidate when she plainly so disagreed with his platform that she could find no better endorsement than that he loves the country and has a good heart. If she was going to endorse him so weakly, she would have made more points by refusing. If she is actually thinking long, toward the next election, defiance toward the DNC to the last would have left her with her integrity intact; she plainly did not need the DNC’s backing this time, and would not likely rely much on it next time, either, considering her entire platform is incompatible with the DNC’s doctrine.

        Whatever the case, Biden hasn’t a hope. The DNC will close ranks around him and try to protect him against his most outrageous examples of losing his marbles, but unless they drug him, he will fall apart in the debates and look like what he is – a querulous old man who is losing his mind. In some ways he is an ideal candidate for the corporations, because he will only have to manage one or two good sound-bites a day, and all the decision-making will be done for him. But he won’t be able to hold it together long enough to get elected.

        Now let’s see who he chooses as a running mate.

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        1. I largely agree with your analysis except the last sentence. He will not be the one choosing his running mate. He likely has trouble choosing which shoe goes with which foot.

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      2. Quoting myself:

        Not one of us knows the challenges and threats she has faced.

        Is your argument that she accepted cash or cash equivalents for her statements? Is that your claim? Any proof?

        I once thought Putin was a disgusting sellout – he simply wanted a higher price for Russia from the West than Yeltsin was seeking. Yes, I was quite wrong.

        Monday morning quarterbacks, armchair generals and laptop bombardiers can say whatever they want.

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    2. Also…for the apologists of her shameful deceit and betrayal of
      that which she claimed to believe…
      and who justify her treachery on the grounds of it being the politically. expedient thing for her to do.
      THAT argument works for the SS man mass murdering Russian civilians in Fall 1941.
      It was politicslly expedient for him to join the SS in 1938.

      As for the trials and life struggles of
      Tulsi..cue black spiritual church hymns….
      Lawd….Lawd…what dis poor girl done
      been thru! LOL!

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      1. Yes, I am an apologist for Tulsi Gabbard. Did it for a Wendy’s 2 for 1 Dave’s Single with fries and coke coupon.

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        1. I dunno how many pieces of silver the bitch got….maybe
          none.
          That’s not the point.
          She did a 360 …reversing herself on nearly everytbing
          she formerly claimed to hold dear.
          That is a .matter of fact of record PO…
          Deal with it.
          There were people who died under torture by Nazi SS rather than betray their partisan comrades.
          So GTFOH with nonsense about how poor baby had to
          fold and become a mouthpiece for POS Biden.

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          1. Her main goal was to stop regime-change wars and bring the troops home. That was restated during her concession speech.

            I am not familiar with “GTFOH”. Should it be “GTFOOH” or just “GTFO”? A clarification would be appreciated.

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        2. Well, most anyone would have cracked for that.

          Unwavering integrity is a lot to expect from a person, and we all were pretty sure she didn’t have a chance in this election anyway, although it did help her a little that the DNC was so resolutely against her. It is the DNC which will cost the party this election, although I frankly cannot see how they could ever have won it anyway, with the stable they had to choose from.

          I think Gabbard’s convictions are essentially unchanged, but I argued from the first that she would be much better positioned next time around, after letting the DNC fumble the ball with this one – she would have the power of I Told You So. And now she has thrown that away. And if she has future political aspirations, it’ll cost her. Everyone would have understood if she simply suspended her campaign. It was endorsing Biden, however half-heartedly, that made her just another politician again.

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          1. Yes …when she stood with
            POS Biden…it was game over for her as a credible
            woman of revolutionary
            change.

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  3. A fairly comprehensive and substantive discussion of the water situation in Crimea, from the Ukrainian side.

    http://www.ukrweekly.com/uwwp/geo-economics-of-water-deficit-in-crimea/

    The Ukrainian Weekly is a non-profit publication for Ukrainian-Americans, by the Ukrainian National Association. Relevant points from the article: Crimea has tried to buy water from Ukraine, and Kiev has refused to sell it, knowing that the lack of water causes hardship. Farmers have had to cease growing rice as a crop, because it needs too much irrigation, and to select grain variants which will tolerate drier conditions. Russia continues to work at solutions, and the amount of land under cultivation is slowly growing again from a post-separation low of 10,000 hectares. Russia aims to double that by 2025, but it would still be a long slide from the pre-separation (post-Soviet) high of 140,000 hectares. The hardest hit are Crimean Tatar farmers, whom Kiev claims to worship when it is putting on a show for the west.

    In short, Ukraine knows it could easily provide relief, and could even make money doing it, but withholds it out of spite and perhaps an apprehension that suffering will make Crimea come crawling for forgiveness. Additionally, it wants to spoil the upcoming tourist season, although COVID-19 will likely put a dent in that anyway.

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    1. The article seems authoritative and the numbers were helpful. Some conclusions were colored by political views and wishful thinking.

      The area under irrigation shrunk from 402,000 hectares during the Soviet era to 140,000 under the stewardship of the Ukraine. What happened?

      If the area under irrigation did indeed shrink to 10,000 hectares, it may not be entirely due to water shortage but more of a matter of water distribution. The increase to 17,000 hectares may have been obtained mostly through new interconnecting canals. Its unclear what Russia meant by restoring full self-sufficiency by 2025 – just human needs or all agricultural needs as well?

      The amount from seawater (presumably desalination) was 0.16%, only about 7,000 m3/day. A medium sized desal plant can can provide 100,000 m3/day or about 2.3% of total needs. Such a plant could serve the needs of a city with a population of about 100,000 to 200,000 depending on water conservation measures. Russia certainly has the technical capability to build such plants while China already has extensive desalination experience and the suppliers to speed the process. Its just a matter or economic analysis – build desal plant or build aqueducts. Either way, there will be water for Crimea.

      Crimea will likely never have the irrigation level enjoyed during the Soviet days (presuming the Ukraine continues to be run by Nazis or their backers). Adjustments will be made but certainly the human need can be readily meet while maintaining a significant agricultural output.

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  4. A swoony and worshipful article on that handsome go-getter Republican senator Ted Cruz and his personal vendetta against Nord Stream II, by our own Diane Francis. I guess I shouldn’t say ‘our own’, because she’s American-born, although she lives and works in Canada. And by that definition, Ted Cruz would be ‘our own’, because he was born in Alberta. Anyway.

    https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/cruz-vows-to-thwart-russian-bid-to-save-putins-pipeline/

    Mr. Cruz figures the USA still holds all the cards in putting a stop to ‘Putin’s pipeline’. The reason du jour is because he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the ecological and environmental damage the pipeline is doing, as well as the gripping and terrible risk of releasing chemicals or causing explosions from old wartime ordnance on the bottom, although the second line is being laid right alongside the first, so you would think any detonations that might happen would have already happened. But let’s not overthink this, because you know and I know the USA does not give a fuck about the marine environment in the Baltic; he just wants to stop the pipeline because America wants to sell LNG to Europe.

    Anyway, he seems not to be aware the AKADEMIK CHERKSIY has a dynamic-positioning system, since he claims Russia ‘has no vessels with the unique technological capability to finish the project.’ He seems fixated on the pipelaying barge, which does not have a dynamic-positioning system, and on making sure Denmark does not grant a permit, which he says is ‘unacceptable’. Because, of course, vessels which do not have a dynamic-positioning system must put out an anchor every 10 meters, to fix and maintain their static position, and that could touch off underwater Armageddon. And Ted Cruz aims to keep the Baltic safe from that.

    However, Russia’s proposal was to keep the barge stationary by using tugs which do have a dynamic-positioning system. It would not put down any anchors. But it’s fine if Ted’s office focuses on the wrong problem; actually, it’s sort of typical.

    He blew past the AKADEMIK CHERKSIY completely, except to note Russia has no vessels which could finish the project. Sloppy research. The AKADEMIK CHERKSIY is a pipelayer by specialization, is nearly new (built in 2015), has a dynamic-positioning system, and is believed to be headed for the uncompleted section of the pipeline. Thanks for playing, Ted.

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    1. Ted Cruz is from Alberta? Knock me over with a feather. I assumed he was born in an anti-Castro barrio in Miami. Still, he is dumber than a sack of hammers.

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    2. Russia has no vessels with the unique technological capability to finish the project.
      A statement like this does not reflect well on Diane Francis’ ability. It wouldtake about 20 seconds googling to learn that AKADEMIK CHERKSIY existed and was on route.

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      1. Correct, and it looks even stupider considering the ship was mentioned by name almost immediately after Allseas ceased operations, as a probable alternative. The Germans even suggested the remainder of the pipeline could be completed by divers, although it would be slow and tedious, because what is left is in shallow waters – what’s Cruz going to do, sanction all European suppliers of compressed air?

        Although Francis has a stellar education, I’ve never liked her, and found that even when she was a regular columnist for MacLean’s Magazine, she relied more on snark than smarts. She’s a conservative to the core and worships conservative philosophy.

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  5. Cheesehead Dutchman Fred Westerbeke missed his calling – he should have been in standup comedy. We all know the importance of momentum in the MH17 show trial – it’s imperative that new revelations keep rolling in, pushing readers to the inevitable conclusion. And so Fred is trying to help. In that spirit, he announces that Russia ‘distracted’ the MH17 investigators.

    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/russia-distracted-mh17-probe-dutch-investigator-20200322-p54cnb.html

    By that, he means that while the Russians kept talking and offering all sorts of information and possibilities, they never told the investigators what they wanted to hear. Which was, of course, “We did it”.

    It also presents as fact, in a subheading, that Russia recorded the investigators in an attempt to ‘blacken them’. I guess being black is a bad thing. More to the point, no proof is offered of Russia having done anything of the sort. It wouldn’t be surprising for all such proceedings to be recorded, they are international transactions, after all. But Westerbeke does not offer any evidence, especially of being ‘blackened’ by Russia.

    “You are sitting in a huge room at a long table with ten men on each side. In Russia, you should also assume that everything you do is being recorded and that they are trying to blacken you,” Westerbeke told NRC.

    “I didn’t take my own phone to Russia. I only had an old Nokia with which you can send text messages and phone calls and throw them in the shredder when you return. “

    You should assume. This is the stupid prick who headed the investigation. And he seems to think his texts and phone calls generate some sort of paper file inside his phone, or else he throws his phone in the shredder whenever he returns from Russia. Which is not particularly helpful, since all his texts and phone calls went somewhere else, unless he was texting himself. And he’s going to be…drumroll, please…the POLICE CHIEF OF ROTTERDAM!!!

    They wanted information on Buks, he says. Almaz-Antey offered to put on a demonstration for the JIT of the actual explosion of an SA-11 warhead, as well as providing a scale cockpit on which to observe the damage. Not interested. When Almaz-Antey complained that nobody on the western side was interested in receiving anything but a confession, its experiment was dismissed as disinformation, and was claimed to have been conclusively debunked by…yes, you knew, didn’t you? Bellingcat.

    https://euvsdisinfo.eu/report/almaz-antey-jit-twisted-or-ignored-of-information-presented-by-the-company-during-the-investigation/

    Fred Westerbeke is an idiot. There’s just no kind way to say it. An idiot and a national embarrassment. The MH17 ‘trial’ is a farcical show designed to reinforce conclusions fabricated by liars. Russia did not shoot down MH17. And the west cannot prove it did. It just needs closure. And this is it.

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    1. Bit of a demotion though for Westerbeke, isn’t it, becoming Police Chief of Rotterdam? Instead of shirt-fronting Russians, or whatever it is that the Dutch claim they’d do to Russia if they could, Westerbeke will be staring down cafe owners selling too many cannabis cookies and MJ muffins to stoned customers in court.

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      1. True enough, and the situations are actually similar in that while Westerbeke is technically at the apex, his ability to defend his conclusions by saying, “That’s just what I was told” is limited – the immediate counter would be “Well, why did you believe it?” In fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems like the kind of outcome where they can’t punish him because that might be interpreted as lack of confidence in his findings, but a sharp investigator at the head of a professional and defensible education might be groomed for political office. I mean, it WAS a shit investigation, and Westerbeke’s grumbling only highlights how accommodating the Russians actually were. The western investigators must cast them as evasive and tricky because the awarding of guilt was always a foregone conclusion. If you investigate impartially and broadly, and simply go where compelling evidence you can actually explain takes you, you get a conclusion which inspires confidence. If you investigate that way and the evidence is actually withheld from you or no longer remains to be discovered for some other reason, you say the outcome is inconclusive. If you carry out an investigation which concludes in five minutes that the culprit is who the newspapers said it was the morning after it happened, allow a prime suspect to manage the evidence and participate in the decision-making and give them a veto over publication of any conclusions if they don’t like them, refuse to admit evidence which might be exculpatory and rely on ‘voice-intercepts’ which professional analysts say have been altered and/or cobbled together, you get this.

        However, if he were to move to the United States, they’d probably make him head of his own investigative/intelligence service, created especially for him, with a nice office and an official car and driver and an expense account, because his investigation has been exactly how the United States wanted it to turn out. He’d get the same in Ukraine, if they could only afford it.

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  6. Look out, everybody – the Saudis have a cunning plan. And Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi oil minister, is a veteran negotiator and is skilled in Byzantine diplomacy. Ooooooo….can I get a few bars of ominous organ music?

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/the-saudi-crown-prince-s-plan-to-win-the-global-oil-war

    Read the article over, please. Then come back and tell me where in there you saw anything resembling a ‘plan’, high-stakes or otherwise. The piece is full of contradictory contradictions – the Saudis are ‘very comfortable with $30.00 oil’…but they will go into deficit if it drops below $50.00, which it already is. Still comfortable? Some analysts suggest the price of oil could quite conceivably go down to $5.00 a barrel. The Saudis know – the article is at pains to state it, in case they didn’t – that Russia’s budget-balancing floor is much lower…but they are ramping up production anyway, driving the price down, in the belief that this will scare the Russians into coming back to the negotiating table. That’s not ‘high-risk’; ‘retarded’ is the word you’re looking for.

    The Saudis are looking to ‘monetize their resources’, afraid to get stuck with a resource they can’t sell because climate change is making oil a dirty word. So they’re pumping like crazy, trying to turn it into whatever money they can get for it. Ummm….I have a question. What’s going to replace it? What is Saudi Arabia going to produce that will give the state an income which allows it to pay all its citizens not to work? Wellington boots? Cucumbers? Dashboard hula dancers? Who wrote this, and more to the point, who let them write a business column without supervision?

    Like

    1. Can’t/won’t read the article as I have reached my limit for free views. Perhaps Mike needs some cash flow after flushing $400 million on his vanity project.

      I do think MbS has gone rogue from the US. So the Bloomberg theory is that oil will be worthless in a few years as the world will, by then, be decarbonized? Thus, KSA is having a going-out-oil yard sale? Russia will be stuck with billions of barrels of worthless oil. Is that his fiendish plan?

      The MSM wants to portray KSA engaging in an oil war against Russia. Nope, I think MbS is really targeting the US; the shale oil business and the US dollar. He wants the US to do something but I don’t know what that may be. I readily admit my theory is “out there”.

      Like

      1. I partially agree; I think he wants the US to use leverage against Russia to force it to cut production, because of US discomfort with the prices. And that would maybe make sense if the US had any leverage to use against Russia. But it hasn’t, except for more sanctions.

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    2. I saw some Saudi dates in my local Loblaws a year ago. Could they replace the oil?

      Given the current market instability I am considering diversifying into camels. The market could be picking up. /s

      IIRC the Kingdom has some interesting mineral reserves but how to bring them to market is another matter.

      Like

      1. To the very best of my knowledge the Kingdom does not have or make anything which, in identical or even similar volumes, has even close to the moneymaking potential of oil. If everyone here can see even this far out that the Saudis will lose, with enough certainty to make jokes about it, how can they not see it? You’d almost think, except for the animosity clearly on show, that it was a pact between the two to wipe out the American energy industry, and the hostility all just maskirovka.

        Like

  7. Here ya go PO…..in living color of
    sellout,she babbles thru 30 minutes
    of self contradicting horseshit..
    Read the comments…

    Like

  8. Even Yahoo stories are predicting up to a 10% GDP decline:

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/coronavirus-us-gdp-recession-economists-forecast-140600768.html

    “We now guesstimate that second quarter GDP will drop at a 10% annualized rate, after a 2% fall in Q1,” Shepherdson said. “We are pencilling in a 20% plunge in discretionary consumers’ spending in the second quarter, enough alone to subtract some eight percentage points from GDP growth.“

    Like

    1. Apparently “annualized” so they are prediction a 2.5% loss of GDP in Q2 and an unknown amount later. Seems optimistic to me.

      Like

    2. And the solution, apparently, is to pay people not to come to work – huge amounts of money are being thrown into the breach. Trump promised more than a Trillion, with a ‘T’. Trudeau promised more than $80 Billion for Canadians. I don’t think too many people have thought ahead to how this money is to paid back. Or are we going to be told, once we are allowed to talk to one another again without six feet between us, “Oh, and hey; your taxes are going up like you can’t even imagine”?

      Like

  9. Trump’s news conference on the Virus sounds more like a campaign speech. I must admit his rambling style and positive message does create a sense of confidence; regardless of how unfounded it may be.

    Like

  10. Neuters: U.S. says France’s decision not to extradite Iranian engineer ‘regrettable’
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-iran-engineer/u-s-says-frances-decision-not-to-extradite-iranian-engineer-regrettable-idUKKBN2190WS

    …The U.S. State Department said in a statement that Iranian national Jalal Rohollahnejad was the subject of a U.S. extradition request, adding that “it is regrettable in this instance that France failed to uphold its treaty obligations and prevented justice from being pursued.”

    A French court last year approved Rohollahnejad’s extradition, according to a judicial source.
    ####

    And the punishment will be???

    Like

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