It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.

Uncle Volodya says, “If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people.”

“Do you remember that part, in the Wizard of Oz, when the witch is dead and the Munchkins start singing? Think that kind of happiness.”

Julie Mulhern, from “The Deep End”

The New York Times is unable to contain its glee at Russia’s having had to cancel its Victory Day celebrations. There was no end of negative press directed at Putin for having not yet announced postponement or cancellation, because it looked for a bit as if Russia was going to go for herd immunity rather than bringing everything to a grinding halt, and sequestering its terrified citizens in their homes as the west has done. But finally the number of Russian infections began to rocket encouragingly upward, and something had to be done. So it was lockdown, Victory Day postponed indefinitely, and the Times couldn’t be happier.

The Times has been going downhill at quite a clip ever since the mendacious aluminum-tubes nonsense in the runup to the American invasion of Iraq, and in fact the Times was an enthusiastic promoter of that war in general, swaddling itself in righteousness when serial liar Judith Miller went to jail rather than reveal her sources. It was a ‘proud but awful moment for The Times’, but heroine Miller ‘surrendered her liberty in defense of a greater liberty’. Give me a moment, will you? I want to put on some violins.

Ah, that’s better. Inspiring, thank you, Judith. But in the end the Times’ blubbering about greater liberty looked a lot more like a heartstrings strumfest in defense of telling outrageous lies that got thousands upon thousands of innocent people killed, brought out the very worst in Americans in the grimy corridors of Abu Ghraib, and left a country so battered, demoralized and divided that it has never recovered to this day.

The foregoing is simply a measure of how far the Times has fallen, from standard-bearer for journalistic excellence to liberal demagogue, not fit to wrap fish and chips in. And the unseemly sneering and giggling of the authors of the subject piece should be regarded with the same contempt which would surely be directed at Russians who cheered at Independence Day celebrations having to be canceled in the United States – stick your tailgate parties up your tailgate, Amerikanski!

But since we’re here, let’s take a look at what a journalist’s salary at The New York Times buys you these days, shall we?

First of all, what does Victory Day celebrate? Because the Nazi surrender was actually tendered twice; it was signed May 7th, 1945 at Reims, by Alfred Jodl for Germany, Walter Bedell Smith for the Allied Expeditionary Force, and Ivan Susloparov for the Soviet High Command. But the latter was only a junior officer who did not have the authority to sign on behalf of the state, and the Soviet High Command had not approved the text of the surrender agreement. Stalin insisted on a second ceremony, said that the first ceremony constituted a preliminary agreement only, and insisted on the surrender being signed in Berlin, ‘center of Nazi aggression’.

“Today, in Reims, Germans signed the preliminary act on an unconditional surrender. The main contribution, however, was done by Soviet people and not by the Allies, therefore the capitulation must be signed in front of the Supreme Command of all countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, and not only in front of the Supreme Command of Allied Forces. Moreover, I disagree that the surrender was not signed in Berlin, which was the center of Nazi aggression. We agreed with the Allies to consider the Reims protocol as preliminary.”

Eisenhower immediately agreed, and the final Instrument of Surrender was signed May 9th, 1945, by Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel for Germany, Marshal Georgy Zhukov for the Soviet High Command, and Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder for the Allied Expeditionary Force. This is the date which has been celebrated every year since, by the Soviet Union and its inheritor, the Russian Federation.

What does it commemorate? The loss, according to credible research, of 23.8 million Soviet citizens due to war and occupation, 7.2 million of them soldiers who died on the front lines, 3.1 million more Soviet prisoners of war in German custody, .9 million dead – many of them starved to death – in the siege of Leningrad, and 2.5 million in the Jewish holocaust.

The USA lost a total of 418,500.

Victory Day is not about we-had-more-people-killed-than-you. But just to put the magnitude of Soviet losses in perspective – total deaths in World War II, what the Soviets called the Great Patriotic War, were around 60 million people. The Soviet Union accounted for nearly half the dead of the global total.

And another thing; the war was fought mostly in Europe, and if you look down the rows of national casualties, you will notice a pattern – once you add civilian casualties on to the military deaths, the total takes a huge jump. Austria; 261,000 military dead – total deaths, 384,700. Belgium, 12,100 military dead. Total deaths, 86,000. France; military deaths, 217,600. Total deaths, 567,600. You see what I mean, I’m sure.

United States of America; military deaths, 416,800. Total deaths, 418,500. 1,700 civilian deaths of American citizens. For each American soldier killed in battle, the Soviet Union lost 17.

And even the most pessimistic would have to admit that the USA came out of World War II in a pretty good position; my, yes. Incredibly, American managers of General Motors and Ford went along with the conversion of their German plants to military production at a time when U.S. government documents show they were still resisting calls by the Roosevelt administration to step up military production in their plants at home.

“When American GIs invaded Europe in June 1944, they did so in jeeps, trucks and tanks manufactured by the Big Three motor companies in one of the largest crash militarization programs ever undertaken. It came as an unpleasant surprise to discover that the enemy was also driving trucks manufactured by Ford and Opel — a 100 percent GM-owned subsidiary — and flying Opel-built warplanes.”

America profited handsomely, both by doing business with the Nazis right up until it was forced to stop, while at the same time America was churning out war materiel to support the allies as fast as factory lines could be made to run. Nice work if you can get it. The Bretton Woods agreement, concluded in 1944, abandoned the gold standard as the global currency in favour of the US greenback, putting America in the driver’s seat as the dominant world power. The Soviets were left with a country in smoking ruins, as apple-cheeked America went back to work with a whistle on its lips. Right away, muttering started about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which has recently exploded into accusation by the US Ambassador to Poland that Russia started the war. The Moscow Times, a militantly pro-western newspaper, ponders why Russia will not ‘confront its role in the war’, and decides it must be Putin’s fault.

“Teaching history has never been easy in Russia, where archives are closed and transparent discussions about the country’s Soviet past are met with hostility. Even then, teaching World War II is more difficult: with every year that Putin is in power, Russia fails to confront its role in the war head on.”

And now some fucking American chowderhead – in Moscow – openly snickers over the Fresh Idiot : engrishcancellation of the Victory Day parade and celebration, in between boasting about how he carries a shopping bag with him every time he decides to go out for a stroll, so police won’t challenge him on why he’s not at home.

“I prefer going out during the day, walking with my wife, shielded by a big shopping bag in the hope that the police will let us be.”

And of course, the canard we have all become accustomed to, Russia is aflame with coronavirus, with over 10.000 new cases per day for the last three days straight. As of the middle of April, Russia reported that nearly half its new cases were asymptomatic, and that proportion continues to increase – it seems reasonable to assume the high numbers result from increased testing. Deaths from coronavirus in Russia remain extremely low. 1,723 COVID victims have died, of a total 187,859 cases since the beginning of the outbreak, a mortality rate so far of .91%, about the same as the seasonal flu.

“Travel brings wisdom only to the wise. It renders the ignorant more ignorant than ever.”

Joe Abercrombie, from “Last Argument of Kings”


546 thoughts on “It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.

  1. Exposed: CIA used Sheldon Adelson’s firm to spy on Julian Assange

    4,068 views•18 May 2020

    The Grayzone
    106K subscribers
    Pushback with Aaron Maté

    In his latest Grayzone exposé, Max Blumenthal reveals new details on the CIA spying and sabotage operation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The US surveilled Assange inside Ecuador’s London embassy, all while working with Trump mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s security team and a Spanish company that had initially been hired to protect the embassy.

    Drawing on court testimony and internal documents, Blumenthal reports on how the CIA sabotaged an asylum plan for Assange; installed software that allowed it to directly monitor him; and harassed and monitored Assange’s attorneys, friends, family, and journalist colleagues.

    Guest: Max Blumenthal, Editor of The Grayzone and author of The Management of Savagery.


  2. Ukraine’s medical system cannot cope, although it has relatively few cases.

    The deplorable conditions — broken or substandard equipment, a lack of drugs, low wages — reflects the meltdown of Ukraine’s health care system, which has been quickly overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic even with the country’s relatively low number of cases.

    Ukraine’s corruption-plagued economy has been weakened by six years of war with Russia-backed separatists in the east. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s year-old administration inherited an underfunded health care system that was further crippled by a reform launched by his predecessor that drastically cut state subsidies.

    It has left Ukraine’s hospitals without vital equipment. The infectious disease wing of the main regional hospital in Chernivtsi was built more than a century ago when the city was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it lacks a centralized oxygen supply system that is standard in any modern clinic.

    Ukraine’s corruption-plagued economy has been weakened by five years of the west smiling indulgently while the fat oligarch it installed as president ran the place like his personal money farm, keeping none of the promises he made to sell his businesses and concentrate on national governance, and instead adding to his acquisitions as opportunity he mostly created afforded. And please note that ‘cutting subsidies’ in general is a practice which makes the IMF smile with relief, and dole out more money; it is amusing to see it extolled here as a ‘reform’ in the same sentence that condemns its effects.

    Let’s take a moment’s pause to look back fondly on the west’s plan for Ukraine – a big, poor European country ripe for a US-backed coup which would wrench it away from Russia’s orbit. If you asked most of the people of Chernivtsi, they would still applaud it, because they’re western Ukrainians who despise the Russians. But as I pointed out, times nearly without number when the deal was going down, the average Ukrainians by a very great majority wanted an increased association with the EU for economic reasons. Washington’s siren song that the streets would be paved with gold fell upon appreciative ears.

    Which leads me to the conclusion that those people must be thick as pigshit. Because Ukraine is still a big European country, but it is poorer than it was in every metric you care to name except pride. And who does it blame for its predicament? The USA, who led its people into lifelong debt bondage with its kack-handed overconfident blundering about? Of course not. It blames Russia.

    Every once in awhile they have another go at reshaping reality; especially TIME, which is as full of shit as a Twinkie was full of calories.

    Please note that the average minimum wage in Ukraine according to that reference is $175.00 per month. But according to Ukrainian state statistics, the minimum wage is 4,173 UAH per month, and at the current exchange rate, that’s $157.02 USD. And that represents a more than doubling of the minimum wage since the Glorious Maidan, in 2014. Back then, the minimum wage was only 1,218 UAH per month. So that’s progress for you – don’t say the new Euroambitious government never did anything for Ukrainians.

    The big problem with that, though, is that in 2014 that Ukrainian Hryvnia could be exchanged for US dollars at 8.18 to the dollar. And now it takes 26.55 to do the same. So the 2014 currency which prevailed under the previous leadership has lost two-thirds of its value on the global market to the present day. So in real terms, in the almost six years since the Glorious Maidan and with foreign money being poured into the country – although nowhere near at the rate the local oligarchy would prefer – plus being given money to buy gas during the winter months and a couple million several times a year for this emergency or that, the Ukrainian government has managed to raise the people’s standard of living by $22.50, rounding down by one cent.

    Poroshenko and Zelenskiy, link hands and take a bow. Well done, gentlemen – well done.


    1. Which leads me to the conclusion that those people must be thick as pigshit.

      Or, so desperate that they will grasp whatever slight glimmer of hope almost regardless of how hopeless their situation is. I’m afraid that’s most of us. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, it’s a great western disease at the moment. I think our leaders have known for a long time that the party is over and assume the rest of us won’t take it well and blame them. Hence all the kabuki theater about ‘enemies’ and their diabolical plots to undermine our freedom, the ‘freedom’ that our leaders know doesn’t feed people. We all need a little hope, however stupid…


      1. “Or, so desperate that they will grasp whatever slight glimmer of hope almost regardless of how hopeless their situation is. ”

        Their situation has always been hopeless, since Independence Day. The Ukrainian elite made a fundamental miscalculation from the beginning. They looked at the Soviet price system, observed that they were subsidizing the rest of the USSR, and concluded that an independent Ukraine would do very well indeed.

        But when the USSR broke up, they discovered world free market prices for energy & raw materials, and by that system, Russia had been heavily subsidizing Ukraine. In the words of Ukraine’s first post-Soviet finance minister Hryhoriy Piatachenko, “The world price of oil is death for us.”

        And that’s been the fulcrum of Ukrainian politics since. Orange Ukraine has sought to use their pipeline leverage & Western pressure on Russia to keep the subsidy going, while denying Russia any influence. Blue Ukraine sought to retain the subsidy by maintaining decent relations with Russia. But with the decisive victory of Orange Ukraine, they’ve torched last bridge to Russia. They were certain that US/EU sanctions would stop NSII, that they could jack up the transit price as they wished, and that rivers of Dollars & Euros would flow to them from a grateful West. The more fools they.

        They’re playing out an endgame that they decisively lost on their first move.


        1. Well said, and well defended.

          Speaking of Nord Stream II, the AKADEMIK CHERSKIY has moved into the dock at Mukran, and probably will soon begin embarking pipe if she has not already begun.

          Ted Cruz, who is unusually boneheaded even for a senator from Texas (albeit he is Canadian-born, a fact he chose to leave out of his bio;

          I guess we won’t be able to use that joke about how he moved to the USA and raised the IQ in both countries) says that now Washington will have to sanction Gazprom. Sorry and all, but there is ‘absolutely no wiggle room’. Accordingly, Gazprom’s officers would lose their ability to come to The Shining City On A Hill, and their assets would be blocked. “And that’s”, he says with the relish of the sanctimonious, “just for starters”. The clever Americans will now try to figure out how much suffering they can make their allies endure, in order to realize the goal of selling more US LNG to them for substantially higher prices. I need hardly mention that anyone who is eager to comply is even stupider than senators from Texas.

          Also, as expected, Germany rejected Gazprom’s application for a waiver from the terms of the Third Energy Package, on the grounds that the pipeline was not completed by the due date, for which they can thank the United States, which no doubt feels tremendous satisfaction. But if Russia saw a trap building there, it is curious why they waited such a long time before deploying the AKADEMIK CHERSKIY, and then took such a leisurely route to arrive at the destination – they did not appear to feel much pressure. Anyway, now the lawyers will appeal it on the grounds the terms were especially concocted to affect Nord Stream II, and no other projects, which is discriminatory. As we have discussed before, the construction required to complete the pipeline is not affected by the decision, and Russia can go ahead and finish it. It does not have to send any gas through it until Russia and Europe reach an arrangement that both can live with, and in the meantime it still has years to run on its transit contract with Ukraine, although the mandated volume it must send via that route is reduced after the first two years. Following that the Ukrainian GTS will be on its last legs, and without significant volumes of Russian gas transited through it, it will be just so much scrap metal, without even any real justification for maintaining it let alone upgrading it.


  3. Guest:

    Paul Robinson is Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He is author and editor of numerous works on Russian and Soviet history, including Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, Supreme Commander of the Russian Army. He’s the author of Russian Conservatism published by Northern Illinois University Press.

    Release date:
    16 April 2020


    1. That’s very interesting, because I used to be a fairly regular reader of Sean Guillory’s “Sean’s Russia Blog”. I stopped because it went dead. Like a lot of writers on Russia, he started out irritated by the steady stream of ridicule and hate emanating from the States against Russia. And gradually came around to the idea that well, maybe not all of it was inaccurate, and maybe this one and that one had a point, and maybe Putin is kind of bad, and you know, he should go so a more progressive leader could really move Russia forward.

      In those days, ten years ago when I first started blogging, there were a few of those guys around who started out with a sort of reasonable position on Russia, that maybe it was getting a rough deal from the American press. One of them was Kevin Rothrock, who ran a delightful blog called “A Good Treaty”. In those days he concealed his identity, because he was a junior researcher or something at the American Enterprise Institute – a very conservative and martial Washington think tank – for Professor Leon Aron, who is still there as Director of Russian Studies.

      Sympathies directed toward Putin’s treatment by the American press might not have gone down too well. Anyway, his sympathies gradually began to drift – at least so far as you could tell from his writing – much more in the direction of American triumphalism, and now he works as the Managing Editor at Meduza. Another was Mark Galeotti, whom you all know. He authored an excellent blog on Russian law and legal affairs, called “In Moscow’s Shadows”, it was definitely not pro-Putin, but it was mostly reasonable and he usually welcomed constructive argument. It’s still active, but he mostly seems to use it now to promote his books rather than for discussion. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the same inspiration that overtook Rothrock overtook Galeotti as well, and he came to believe Putin is the devil and the main impediment to Russia reaching its full potential as a good friend who permits untrammeled international investment and ownership and buys tons of American goods.

      Sean himself got kind of a bee in his bonnet about Nashi, the Russian youth movement which he came to regard as more or less the equivalent of the Hitlerjugend for Hitler, performing an equivalent Junior Thugs R Us service for Putin, and he kind of specialized in it for awhile, and around that time I kind of lost touch with him. We were all sort of online acquaintances through Anatoly Karlin, who ran Sublime Oblivion. As far as I know, he still writes for The Unz Review, although Sublime Oblivion is long gone. I kind of feel nostalgic for the days when we would all get together at Sean’s Russia Blog to laugh at the latest ridiculous thing Yulia Latynina had said – remember the time she claimed the Chel’yabinsk meteor was a Russian government missile test which had gotten out of control? Sean Guillory toasted her like a marshmallow over a fire – my ribs hurt afterward.

      So to celebrate the memories, here they are together again at Sean’s new site, the producer of the podcast you linked, SRB Podcast. Here are Sean Guillory, the host, with guests Kevin Rothrock and Mark Galeotti. Maxim Trodolyubov I don’t know. I mean, I know who he is, I can read, but I have never conversed with him even online, and I don’t read Vedomosti.


      1. Those are very much my memories as well and I still have lots of dead links to no-longer existing Russia blogs! Let us not forget Adomanis who did a sterling job of going methodically through the data and statistics on Russia to puncture the (still) widespread Russophobes memes.

        Even being correct and factual though is not good enough for the anti-Russia crowd. He moved on, his online past erased because your past will always be used against you if you are not fully onboard with The Borg.

        I’ve seen this all before of course. The Freedom of Speech is a weapon used against you if you have the ‘wrong’ opinion. The media is more than happy to sit by and watch, because they love the controversy and having one ideology screaming blue faced at someone else who wants to have a discussion. Let us remember that this is not just a right-wing thing, but the liberal psycho Humanitarian Intervention lot and their screaming harpies who ruled the 1990s. Now they’re the same people giving Joe Biden the benefit of the doubt. Scum.


        1. Yes, Mark Adomanis, my, my. I was a big fan, and I well remember his taking on La Russophobe in one of her ‘interviews’, which were conducted via email (although, to be fair, she did actually print the answers given without censoring them). When asked his opinion of Paul Goble (whom La Russophobe always referred to as ‘The indispensable Paul Goble’) he replied that Goble was a whore who trawled through the bottom muck of Russian media such as Novaya Gazeta and The New Times, translated articles he found there and presented them as analysis. Marvelous!

          Eventually, though, his thinking drifted in much the same way that of the others did, and the big break with this community occurred over Pussy Riot, in which he energetically defended their right to freedom of expression, citing it as the most fundamental of American rights. I wonder what he thinks of freedom of speech and expression in America now.

          The big disappearing act for him was when, right in the throes of an online discussion in which he was calling Snowden the very worst sort of traitor, a commenter revealed that he – Adomanis – was actually employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, the firm Snowden had last worked for. That post was later removed together with all its discussion, and Adomanis disappeared shortly thereafter. I haven’t seen his name come up in I don’t know how long, and have not been inspired to look.


          1. I’d forgotten about the other stuff. I wonder if burning bridges is more common amongst us Russia watchers than elsewhere?

            I suppose when the landscape allows for very little grey, and considering the real a**hole posters who only like to make other posters angry, I can imagine becoming fatigued followed by a straw that breaks the camel’s back.

            I should be surprised that normal people suddently become angry because I’ve seen it before, plus it’s not real if it is on the Internet! I suppose there is also a certain lack of agree to disagree. Is there reason to criticize how Russia is run, certainly, but there are not many places us normal peasants can do this without the maximalist ‘tards and drive-bys. I suppose my real problem is that it annoys me immensly that we are told that everything (country) has to be the same (regardless of history/events/whatever), and if it isn’t it must be foreced to by hook or by crook. But stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Countries get there at their own pace.

            Western states seem to be obsessed in making the world in their own image. I guess that is because they ‘won’ the Cold War. To the victor goes the spoils and all that. But life, the universe and everything doesn’t work like that. So I guess all this anger is about loss of control and fear of the future. Just leaving stuff alone is never considered as a viable option. To exercise restraint seems to be a sign of weakness…


            1. As I mentioned in my ‘About me’ page on the old blog, it was extremism in the mainstream media that angered me, the constant shitting on Russia day after day as if everything were fine in the rest of the world that got to me. I was once very pro-American, although it was a good bit before I started blogging, and even at that time I was usually careful to be as fair as I could, and correct those who commented that America is evil or a shithole; it is neither, and most Americans by far are good and decent people. But I kind of expected that some of the lessons it was forced to learn – its hysterical campaign against Russian athletes, for example, using Richard McLaren as a willing bludgeon, when it as usual claimed it had tons of evidence but actually had only the word of a pathological liar – would teach it something. And they have not. It is the same proud, rigid hater it was in 2010, if not more so, although the mask has slipped so many times that there is no longer any point wearing one, of pretending to be motivated by concern rather than avarice, to want to set right rather than smash to rubble.

              But that does not mean Russia is perfect, the ideal model in every way. I think its headed in the right direction, but generally speaking the standard of living has a ways to go to catch up, especially in the provinces. I imagine I am regarded as a Putin fanboy, and it’s true I believe him to be the best living example of a statesman and political leader, and probably the best Russia has ever had – he has literally saved the country from deliberate destruction by its enemies several times. But he puts his pants on one leg at a time the same as we all do – except the ones who wear skirts – and he makes mistakes. So far he has not made any which did the state or the people serious harm, and in several cases what looked like a mistake when it was a decision has turned out rather well. And there is the added filter of every single thing he does and says being trumpeted as the last word in stupid mistakes by the western media. An unbiased and critical review of all the leaders who have come and gone during his tenure would, I think, make it awkward to draw a comparison which was in their favour. Barack Obama. Teresa May. Gavin Williamson. William Hague. Mitt Romney. Catherine Ashton. Alfred E. Neuman. Okay, I was kidding about the last one, but he would fit right in among the dolts and doltesses who, despite their flailing pretenses at leadership, pulled down fantastic salaries for being useless as a chocolate teapot.

              That’s by way of saying ten years not only of no improvement, but actually of worsening performance, has made me more anti-western rather than prouder of its accomplishments and manipulations. It has learned nothing, and keeps trying the same techniques which just failed, as if it feels no embarrassment at all. With Russia, what you see is what you get, and it is not always trying to piss in your pocket and tell you it’s raining.


              1. Add this to the ‘Putin in trouble list’

       Why Russia is losing its hold on Syria

                Putin and Assad are pursuing different policies and endgames, a disconnect that has put their alliance in doubt

                by MK Bhadrakumar

                I usually enjoy his columns (give or take) but he’s jumped the shark with this one and not only with his choice of sources and taking everything referenced at face value. Why is everyone so eager to call time on the successes of the Russian Federation?

                As for Syria, I don’t think anyone has said that Putin & Assad are eye to eye on everything, so tensions are normal and Russia is perfectly capable of managing the differences. The End Game of course is what it is all about. I don’t see how Putin could accept a division of Syria (to keep Erd O’Grand happy) can in any way count as a diplomatic victory for Russia. It’s a baffling analysis. The US has been squeezed in to corners, even the locals stoning the US ‘convoys’ there to save Syrian oil wells ‘for the people’ (which?). The Kurds have yet again learned that the US cannot be trusted, whatever they promise, thus some sort of deal with Damascus is far more likely and something Russia could broker if asked.

                Erd O’Grand is up to his neck in sh/t and is over extended. There’s only so long he can juggle so many balls without it spiralling out of control so it is in his interests to work with Putin rather than the other way around. That particularly would be the return reintegration of Syrian refugees from Turkey and renewed border security which means losing relinquishing Afrin and imploding Idleb. The latter is more delicate but we see that those hired IS/ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/Whatever fighters are now being paid redeployed to places like Libya by their Gulf masters. It’s not a fast process but if the bulk of fighters are mecernaries, then that only leaves a much smaller number of hardcore terrorists behind to deal with. It’s all do-able and it looks like it is ocurring, just not to any fanfare.

                As for Assad, well what else do you expect him and the government to say to such ‘analyses’ published in Moscow? He certainly knows that this last phase is the trickiest and the Syrian government has to be seen as in the driving seat of its own destiny, not Russia. Why on earth would he pick a fight with his best and most reliable ally who is covering his back and taking flak and fully backed up itself by China no less?

                It’s just weird to say that after years of working together, rolling back the terrorists, neutering the countries backing the terrorists, regaining much of its territory, that it is all going to fall apart at the last hurdle. I expected better. As for even mentioning ‘quagmire’ and someone else talking of a and ‘bear trap’! As John MacEnroe says, “You cannot be serious!

                Reconstruction, reconciliation etc. will take years and yet the Borg won’t stop trying to sabotage it because that is the right thing to do, aka its ‘Sh/t the bed’ strategy of if I can’t have it, nobody can. The only thing that I could imagine that would upset the direct of events in Syria is if there is a war in the Middle East most likely accidentally of course! started by i-Srael. Then all bets are off. I’d put it at 60/40 against, but rising as there is now a coalition government and Project West Bank. But even in that scenario, it’s not going to go to anyone’s plan and certainly won’t improve the west’s position nor i-Srael’s in the region. This is a most dangerous year.


                1. Yes, I like your take on it – the west is so obsessed with ‘winning’ (which is of course a victory for ‘the people’ too) that the only mode which reduces it to sullen silence is relentless progress forward. The slightest pause in retaking all of Syria is greeted as a dramatic reversal. But it has been Russian/Syrian policy all along to pause before the next push, and sweat the enemy a little, give them a chance to give up. A lot less expensive if that’s what happens. But customarily the west uses those pauses to fluff the radicals up and replenish their ammo, whisper in their ears how important this is, you know the drill.

                  I suppose Putin cuts Erdogan so much slack because he wants to keep Turkey off the reservation and ‘unstable’ by western estimation, but I must confess I sometimes wonder why Putin does not take him aside and say, “Listen, satchelface; this stops today. You can play it smart, and you can announce it, or you can play it dumb and I’ll announce it, but that’s the way it will happen either way you choose”. I was kind of hoping the original ‘buffer zone’ which Erdogan arbitrarily declared would have been rolled back by now – not only has that not happened, but a second, Northern ‘buffer zone’ has been established.

                  Let’s not forget that the Erdogan government – after failing to persuade Assad to adopt a more secular government model, established the original buffer zone as an area into which Turkey intended to move a viable government-in-waiting which would take over leadership of Syria once Assad fell, which was expected – in those giddy days of 2011 – to take not more than a year and probably closer to six months.


                  Let’s also not forget the triggering event for the establishment of the buffer zone was the shooting-down of a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet by Syrian Air Defense. Pretty much the only ones who would not agree it had been inside Syrian airspace at the time was Turkey.


                  Erdogan is the excitable type who regularly says things in the heat of the moment that he apparently believes no one will check immediately afterward, or ever remember later. On this occasion, he claimed Syria had immediately rung up to apologize and say it was all a terrible mistake. Syria denied it, and Erdogan later mumbled that he could not confirm it, maybe he was in the bathroom or something when the call came. He initially said the pilots had been rescued ‘in good health’, but later retracted it and said they were still missing; you’ll see why that’s interesting in a minute. He also claimed, so perfectly that it might have been scripted, that just because a military plane had made a short entrance into the national airspace of another country was no excuse for shooting it down. Which was repeated many times a few years later, when Turkish F-16’s shot down a Russian warplane which may or may not have entered the ‘buffer zone’ arbitrarily established by Erdogan along the border with Syria, which is not by any stretch Turkish airspace.

                  Hardly any event is much fun without a conspiracy theory, and there is one for this, as well; some sources suggest the F-4 which was shot down was an unmanned drone, possibly flown inside Syrian airspace on purpose to get blasted and give Erdogan an excuse to establish the buffer zone under terms in which nobody would dare challenge him. It’s true his inconsistent statements on the event make it sound like it was rehearsed and Erdogan is just such an inept actor that he could not get things in a proper sequence. And although he initially said the pilots had been recovered, perhaps somebody told him “NO, you fucking dunce! Now the British newspapers will want to interview them!!” In any event, that statement was changed to ‘still missing’, and according to this source, they were never found.


                  Erdogan is an old hand at politics, astonishing since he seems to terrible at it, and is used to getting his way. He was and remains intensely interested in expanding both the physical boundaries and the influence of Turkey in the region, and since Assad refused and refuses to back away from a Baathist state in Syria, reconciliation between Syria and Turkey seems an unlikely prospect while both those figures lead their respective governments. For its part, the USA is interested only in keeping things ‘sturred up’, so Russia’s role is considerably more complicated and difficult than it looks.


      2. Being sympathetic to Russia is career suicide. Guillory, Rothrock and Galeotti know what side their bread is buttered on. To paraphrase Grover Furr the anti-Russian paradigm is hegemonic. You simply can’t show your face in polite society unless you have a visceral hatred for the “Putin regime”, paranoia towards Russian and contempt for Russians.


      1. Yes, that’s why I listened to it; I’m interested in his views. I knew he was…what? Welsh, isn’t it? But the accent was still a surprise; I think you build up a ‘mental voice’ from reading a person’s writing, so that their actual voice is often a surprise. It was the same with Anatoly Karlin; I was invited to speak on Al Jazeera, and I couldn’t do it as I was still a member of the Canadian military then, and it would have been unethical. They asked if I could recommend someone else, and I suggested Anatoly. I was surprised to realize he has a very thick east-European accent in his speaking voice, because I had read his stuff for a couple of years by then and become accustomed to his complete – daunting, even – familiarity with English, including colloquialisms. I guess I expected him to speak like any other Californian.


        1. Why are you surprised at Professor Robinson’s accent? He speaks with the “non-regional accent” of Received Pronunciation, which is hardly surprising, as he is, I am sure, a former commissioned officer of the British army.

          As regards where he is from, I think he once said he was from Monmouthshire, which is a Welsh county, yet I may be mistaken, because I have a faint recollection of him saying that he was from a Marcher county, from Herefordshire, I think.


            1. I faintly recollect that Monmouthshire was only firmly established as a Welsh county when, about 500 years ago, it was included under a Welsh circuit judge’s jurisdiction.

              The neighbouring English Marcher county of Hereford is most definitely an English county, yet as “recently” as the 18th century, the county town of Hereford was often referred to as being in Wales.

              Offa’s Dyke is, for me, the indisputable boundary line of England and Wales.


        2. I remember watching the Metallica documentary “Some Kind of Monster” years ago and I was surprised that drummer Lars Ulrich still spoke with a faint Danish accent in his otherwise typically American accent even after having lived in the US for over 20 years at the time the documentary was made. Ulrich (born in Denmark in late December, 1963) would have been 16 years old when he moved to California in 1980. Even before then, he would have had a good mastery of English because his father was a professional tennis player (dad even appears in the documentary) and would have often taken his family with him on the international tennis circuit.

          I’m sure Anatoly Karlin also once said that he attended secondary school in Britain.


          1. Yes, he did – somewhere dismal in the North or the Midlands. He was there for a couple of years, but not that long in the great scheme of things. There certainly was no British influence to his accent.


          2. Anatoly lived in my home county, in Preston, Lancashire, I am sure, and went to school there. He was, it seems, not overly impressed with Preston.


            1. Yes, perhaps because he was new and might have been a convenient target at school. For whatever reasons, the few memories he chose to recount were not endorsements.


  4. The Duran says the USA is ‘dramatically’ overcounting coronavirus deaths. We knew that, but the practice is going to look especially shady when we have a few moments to reflect, post-crisis, considering their unconscionable baiting of Russia for supposedly concealing mortality counts which are in excess of 70% higher than official figures. Do like us, they’re saying.


  5. Just when everyone and his/her dog have all agreed that COVID-19 deaths in many countries (including the US and UK) have been exaggerated to induce more panic and justify lockdown:

    Jeremy Samuel Faust, “Comparing COVID-19 Deaths to Flu Deaths Is like Comparing Apples to Oranges” (Scientific American, April 28, 2020)

    This paragraph seems quite telling:

    “… The CDC should immediately change how it reports flu deaths. While in the past it was justifiable to err on the side of substantially overestimating flu deaths, in order to encourage vaccination and good hygiene, at this point the CDC’s reporting about flu deaths is dangerously misleading the public and even public officials about the comparison between these two viruses. If we incorrectly conclude that COVID-19 is “just another flu,” we may retreat from strategies that appear to be working in minimizing the speed of spread of the virus …”

    Makes you wonder what might the real reasons for over-estimating / over-reporting COVID-19 deaths, emphasising COVID-19 deaths of people who don’t fall into the high-risk categories or obsessing over deaths of children affected by and dead from Kawasaki syndrome, which syndrome has yet to be definitively linked to COVID-19.


    1. No matter how we slice and dice it, there is no getting around the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who contract COVID-19 do not die, and in fact suffer only mild to moderate symptoms not requiring hospitalization, or are asymptomatic. As Dmitry Orlov pointed out, it is obviously not an engineered bioweapon, because it would suck as a weapon; it simply does not kill enough people to make an effective weapon. The only places in which COVID-19 overwhelmed hospitals and medical services is in those places where large numbers at the same time were affected, such as care homes and critical-care facilities, in which cases it killed nearly everyone who got it, and trying to save them was a desperate battle. Also, places where the standard of medical care and equipment had been allowed to run down to nearly nothing, like Ukraine and some of the provinces in Russia.

      The big threat of COVID-19 was supposedly that it would overwhelm hospitals and they would be stacking stretchers in the halls. That did happen in a very few locations, but it sure didn’t happen here; the hospitals were ghost towns waiting for the rush, because nearly everyone who could be moved had been evacuated to make room, and all but critical surgeries were postponed.

      I think Mr. Faust has answered the question: “…justifiable to err on the side of substantially overestimating flu deaths, in order to encourage vaccination and good hygiene…” In situations where a disease or illness is known to exist but is not particularly prevalent, batches of a vaccine can be ordered, and you can choose if you wish to be vaccinated against it or not.

      In a pandemic, the government simply appropriates a huge chunk of tax money, and buys millions of doses and stockpiles them, because they will be needed in a hurry and demand might quickly overwhelm supply. So if the public is persuaded it is facing a deadly disease and we must all accept that only a vaccine can return life to normal, you don’t have any choice about how the money you paid in taxes is used. It’s a matter of public safety, and remember – there’s no “I” in ‘Team’. So the Pharma industry simply hoovers up money for vaccines which might have only a short shelf life, and need regular replenishment, against a pandemic of a disease that does not kill any more people than annual brushes with seasonal influenza. The practice of overestimating flu deaths – if in fact that has occurred – in order to drive people toward vaccination has come back to bite them in the ass, and nobody wants to hear “yeah, we were exaggerating then, but we’re not exaggerating now”. Especially when there is documentary evidence that they are exaggerating now.


  6. Gilbert Doctorow: Biological Warfare and Covid19

    May 17

    In the ‘fake news’ exchanges between China and the USA, the question of whose biological warfare lab may have developed and lost control over the coronavirus has figured prominently, although most intelligence agencies seem to agree that the virus had natural causes and was not manufactured by humans anywhere.

    At the same time, it seems to me that no one is talking about how nations having cutting edge experience in biological warfare can apply that knowledge to combatting the virus…

    Plenty more at the link.

    Don’t forget to read his previous piece:

    Russia’s handling of the Covid19 pandemic: a busy week

    15 May


  7. Financial Crimes: Australia threatens China with WTO challenge over barley tariffs

    Tensions between trading partners rise after Canberra called for inquiry into coronavirus

    …China’s Ministry of Commerce confirmed late on Monday it would impose 73.6 per cent anti-dumping and 6.9 per cent anti-subsidy duties on Australian barley from May 19, saying imports of the grains had “materially damaged local industry”.

    The move came less than a week after China suspended imports of red meat from four Australian abattoirs,..

    …However, both ministers attempted to downplay the barley dispute, saying it was not linked to Canberra’s call for an inquiry into Covid-19 as Chinese officials had first raised concerns 18 months earlier…

    I’m filing this under #Powder Kept Dry until the right moment.

    So, as it turns out there is already (literal) beef about this and shows us yet again that strategic thinkers hold off on quick emotional responses and wait to press home an advantage when deemed politically or economically necessary. I do really wonder how long Australia thinks it can balance its role between being a growing American military bastion/FOB/cannon fodder against China in the Pacific region but still reap the benefits of substantial trade with China.


    1. Right on target. Ideology relies heavily on targeted countries seeing the government of their tormentor and its business community as separate entities. Which is mystifying, because western tactics specifically build in the target’s economic interests according to their perceived vulnerability and potential for leverage against the political leadership. What possesses them to imagine the enemy does not do likewise?


    2. At the same time that China slaps anti-dumping tariffs on imports of Australian barley …

      “China steps up warnings, buys US barley, Russian beef”

      “… China says it will buy more American barley and Russian beef as part of previously agreed trade deals in a blow for Australian exports facing restrictions due to political tensions between Beijing and Canberra.

      Barley imports from the United States to China would be effective from this week, according to a notice on the China Customs website.

      The deal was part of China’s agreement to buy an additional $US200 billion ($310 billion) in additional American goods and services under a trade deal.

      China is preparing to slap steep tariffs on Australian barley imports after an 18-month anti-dumping investigation. China also this week suspended beef exports from four Australian abattoirs.

      “US barley products have similar quality levels to Australian barley which is replaceable. It is a shame that Australia is losing its competitive advantage in beef and barley,” said Lin Guofa, an analyst with consulting firm Bric Agriculture Group …”

      So let me guess … the US brokers a trade deal with China in which China will switch from other exporting nations to the US for certain of its grain imports … then the US encourages us little lickspittle lapdogs to yap and bark at the Chinese over other issues … and then when Beijing casts us out into the wilderness, the US zooms right in and replaces us as China’s main supplier of those grain imports? Do we get any thanks for our trouble? …. Naaahhhh …


      1. Yes, I would say that is a pretty good summary of the sequence of events. You might have forgotten the part where the USA makes pro-forma complaints about China dumping Australian exports, but that’s just going through the motions for Australia’s benefit, and China will have been told through channels to not pay it much mind.

        If it is especially effective, Washington will try it again, because it is a big fan of templates. So other ‘allies’ should be alert for a call from the State Department, suggesting they press for an investigation of China for starting the plague.


  8. Ha, ha, ha!! Americans sure are funny. I was looking for a little more information on where we are with Nord Stream II – which I discussed a bit above – and came on this article from the Jamestown Foundation. As most of you know, it is yet another Exceptional America think tank mired in the apprehension that the United States is in charge of the world, and that everything is its business. Anyway, America is bustling just now with its very important function of limiting the supply of natural gas to Europe, so that Europe will be pressured to buy shipborne LNG from America. However, the fact that the USA has it for sale (although at a substantial markup from the price for Russian pipeline gas) and the fact that Europe needs more gas than pipelines can deliver once the Ukrainian GTS is taken out of the equation are just happy coincidence. America never said it wants to sell LNG to Europe, and information which suggests that as an American aim is RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION!

    “Russian officials have publicly expressed confidence that blocking the construction of the Nord Stream Two gas pipeline is not a US government priority, “especially considering the new challenges Washington and Moscow are trying to jointly answer,” according to the chairperson of the State Duma Energy Committee, Pavel Zavalny. “I think it would be right if America abandoned these ineffective, wrong sanctions,” Zavalny said last month (Interfax, April 22). He also argued that since the pandemic shrank the demand for energy and brought energy prices down, it would be simply economically unprofitable for the US to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas (LNG). This statement reiterated a favorite line in Russian disinformation that the US is opposed to Nord Stream Two only because it wants to sell more LNG in Europe.”

    I suppose the author is relying heavily on the qualifier ‘only’. ‘Only’ because it wants to sell more gas to Europe. Because of course that is not the ‘only’ reason – the USA is concerned for Europe’s freedom and democracy. Trouble is, I don’t think she is going to be able to find a quotable passage in which Russia claims America’s ambition to sell its gas to Europe is the ‘only’ reason. Because the USA certainly does harbor the ambition of becoming a major gas supplier to Europe.

    That’s probably why Trump was extolling the USA’s virtues as a supplier almost as soon as he won the presidency.

    And while it might be bad form for ‘the Kremlin’ to suggest the USA ‘only’ wants to sell gas to Europe, it is apparently quite acceptable for Washington to argue that Russia wants to hold Europe hostage to its gas sales. I wonder if anyone laughed out loud when Trump solemnly ‘promised’ that the United States would “never use energy to coerce your nations”, considering Trump’s promises only bind him for so long as he can remember having made them, which usually is only good for about the duration of a transatlantic flight. Trump prides himself on being a ‘hardnose’ who will use any advantage to ‘get a good deal for America’, and nobody who has anything to lose should forget it. After Trump is gone, there will still be plenty of neoconservatives left in the government who will persuade whatever president is in office that there is nothing whatsoever morally wrong with coercing people using any leverage available, providing it is for their own good.

    That’s assuming the USA actually could take over gas supplies to Europe and replace their volumes in their entirety, which it could not even in its wildest dreams. Logistically, sailing tankers full of compressed LNG all the way across the ocean would nearly have to be bumper-to-bumper in order to replace pipeline gas, and there are not that many tankers in the entire global fleet, never mind under American flags.

    Oh, zoops, look: replacing Russian pipeline gas with American molecules of freedom is actually enshrined in the US National Defense Authorization Act. But the USA will only sell gas to Europe if, you know, it really wants it. It’s not pushy, or nothing. Anything else is Russian disinformation.

    Fuck you, Margarita Assenova, and the horse you rode in on. ‘Russian disinformation’ has become the Americans’ knee-jerk response to absolutely anything and everything it doesn’t like. Such as suggestions that America only wants to sell LNG to Europe, and is trying to secure its market share by limiting pipeline delivery with extraterritorial sanctions which are illegal as hell.


  9. One of the top stories in the Evening News shows is that Covid-19 survivors (i.e. 99% of the infected) have acquired immunity and are not infectious. So, herd immunity will occur.


    1. Were they from the WHO? Because their scientists are still pretty insistent that there’s ‘so much about this virus that we just don’t know’. Usually used to head off any arguments that it is really not that dangerous and that we should be free to get on about our business.

      It looks like Moderna heads the pack of those researching a vaccine – their formulation allegedly grew antibodies in all of the volunteer test subjects. So I suppose if governments can still be persuaded to buy millions of doses and stockpile them, and regularly replenish them as they expire, then all is not lost for the WHO and Big Pharma.


        1. Many in the WHO. Well, actually, that’s not fair – i imagine there are many dedicated and selfless professionals working for the WHO. But none of them are in its leadership.


          1. 20 out of 20 is statistically significant assuming a random sample. Other studies were reaching a similar conclusion.


  10. Well, the Poles are doing a delirious victory boogie over the German regulator’s decision. But they’re an emotional people.—dep-pm-12738

    We’ll see what their equal-but-opposite depression is like if the decision is reversed on appeal. And once again, it does not have to mean more gas sent through Poland, and Poland being in the driver’s seat with whatever it wants to charge for transit fees. It might just mean less gas for Europe. Maybe even enough of a shortfall that it would make American LNG competitive due to higher prices. See how you like that, Europe. It would serve them all right.

    Russia has the gas, and soon it will have the pipeline – certainly long before the Ukrainian transit contract runs out. All Europe has is need and money.

    Poland still generates most of its electricity from coal.


  11. Reuters is gleeful to report that Sweden has topped Europe’s COVID-19 ‘death count’ for the last seven days – by God, those Swedes are finally getting what’s coming to them, with their cavalier disregard of the Sacred Lockdown! Teach them to think they know better.

    Mind you, deaths are still low, and taken over the entire course of the ‘pandemic’, very low. Curiously enough, the WHO who screamed at us all to stay home and stop trying to exercise free will when such exercise was dangerous to our fellow humans has allegedly put forward Sweden’s method as…a future model. Confused? Me, too.


    1. No doubt when aged care homes in our countries are run Swedish-style – that is, as for-profit and mostly privatised institutions housing several hundred patients each with carers hired on low-wage contracts and drawn from the most impoverished layers of society, and both the elderly in aged care and the refugees and immigrants from Third World countries (from whom the carers are drawn) ending up the hardest hit by COVID-19 – then the WHO will advocate the Swedish anti-lockdown model.


  12. In a blockbuster scrotal kick to the anti-abortion movement in the USA, Norma McCorvey – ‘Jane Roe’ in the landmark Roe v. Wade legal ruling which legalized abortion – revealed in a deathbed confession in 2017 (but not reported until now) that she was paid to switch sides, and took the money and said what she was told to say by the Anti-Abortion movement. She said it did not reflect her beliefs, and that a woman should have the right to choose.

    Roe v. Wade was one of the most contentious legal decisions in American history, and every time there is a conservative Republican president in office, the activists resurrect the issue and try to get it overturned. Good luck with that now.


  13. According to Henry Tillman, founder, director and CEO of UK-based consultancy Grisons Peak, as well as chairman and CEO of Grisons Peak’s China Outbound Investments – as interviewed by the Global Times – European investment in China tells a far different story than the China-baiting going on in the mainstream news and the hoarse yelling from conservative politicians.

    According to Mr. Tillman, in the first quarter of 2020, “European countries including the UK and Switzerland invested or pledged 4.5 billion euros in new investment (disclosed values only). Interestingly, when combined with Asia’s 6.5 billion euros of announced Chinese acquisitions and equity investments, China’s inbound [mergers and acquisitions (M&A)] surpassed announced Chinese outbound M&A.”

    Additionally, CNOOC signed a signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement, worth $5.4 billion, with Royal Dutch Shell.

    The next time someone wants to fill you full of bullshit about how the coronavirus knocked China’s Belt and Road initiatives out of the ring, tell them to get stuffed. Europe remains an important partner for China, although it slipped into second place in the first quarter behind ASEAN, which partnership saw a 6% year-on-year increase to 15% of China’s total trade volume, worth about $140 Billion. Just in case that failed to register, neither the EU or the USA is currently China’s most important trade partner, and the latter has fallen to third place. Remember that if you hear any media pundits talking out of a hole they’re usually sitting on about how “China needs us more than we need them”. And with the foreknowledge this grants you, enjoy the surprise that is waiting for Robert Lighthizer – assuming he is still Trump’s ‘trade czar’ – when Washington again turns its attention to splitting Europe away from China.

    Oh, and China…just in case you needed to be reminded who’s your buddy, who’s got your back;

    If you were wondering if Russia noticed the opportunity to drive a wedge between the squalling babies in America and everyone else, why, yes; yes, it has.


  14. Dear me! It looks like trouble in the pigsty, as Ukrainian prosecutors kick off an investigation of former president Porkoshenko, for high treason. Some rather disturbing recordings have come to light, including one in which Creepy Uncle Joe – who doesn’t need any more problems right now – is heard directing Poroshenko to nationalize Privatbank until Donald Trump takes office. Gosh! as Leddy Ashton might have remarked.

    Of course Poroshenko will heroically cast aside all these charges, by proving that the recordings are all Russian disinformation. I’m being sarcastic, but to be serious, it is interesting to see Ukraine going ahead with a prosecution which has the potential to sink Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations (I don’t want to say ‘chances’, because he never really had any), at the same time as Washington appears to be going to allow without demur the prosecution of Poroshenko, under circumstances in which damaging information regarding his relationship with US politicians may come out.


    1. The biggie is that the then US Secretary of State John Kerry, President of Vice Creepy Uncle Joe and Porky Pig discussed back in 2015 and 2016 what to do with Viktor Shokin who was investigating Burisma Holdings founder Mykola Zlochevsky for awarding drilling rights to the company while he was Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources. Biden and Porky Pig then struck a deal in which the Ukrainian President would get Shokin to resign and Biden would then sign over US$1 billion in loan guarantees in a quid pro quo deal.


      1. Correct. Which Biden stubbornly denies. And which he is even now probably studying – with his corrupt political pals in a sort of focus group – how to blame on Kerry; you know, he misunderstood, or something. It kind of looks as if the Ukrainians are not feeling a Joe presidency. and are not too concerned with pissing him off. Mind you, they could just be a couple of years behind the curve, like they were last time.

        I seem to recall holding up aid money in return for political concessions was something that made the Democrats almost sweat anger back when it was Trump doing it. Where are you now, my Democrats? Cat got your tongue? Or did you all lock yourselves inside Nancy’s ice-cream freezer by accident?


        1. You assume Creepy Uncle Joe even remembers John Kerry and what they together arranged to get Shokin off investigating anything that might lead all the way to Hunter Biden and back to Daddy himself?


    1. Probably commissioning High Mass at the local Orthodox Cathedral by way of giving thanks for the recovery.


    1. Application of sweat is still allowed so bowlers can just rub the ball over their faces and end up looking like radiation-burn victims.


    2. I notice they cannot let even the most tenuously-connected report pass without mentioning that we are ‘living through extraordinary times’. Which we are, I suppose, but solely because our political leaders decided to make a crisis out of a coronavirus, as if it were the triggering event for starting a brave new world where much will be unfamiliar to us and we must all ‘pull together for the common good’. Just like the buzz-phrase ‘Russian aggression’, it appears to be conditioning through repetition, as if…I don’t know…as if the new normal is going to be no more individualism, welcome to the age of Thinking Of Others in all you do. Your rights stop where your exercise of them affects me.

      Shame the coronavirus hadn’t come along before Pussy Riot.


        1. He’s right, though, that there is a big demographic who happily went along with the epidemiological modelers and the how-to-have-fun-during-lockdown happy campers who make a fucking festival out of everything. Out on the sidewalk banging on a saucepan and screaming “Whooo – HOO!” to tell the frontline workers who are rapidly being accorded the recognition of a privileged tier, like returning war veterans, how fervently they are worshiped. What is going to be the reaction of that demographic when its nose is rubbed in its shame? Is it going to be embarrassed and resolve never to be taken for a sucker again? Or is it going to be angry at its humiliation, and react by supporting further encroachment by the authorities if they will only keep the delusion going a little longer?


      1. Dimka said a few weeks ago that coronavirus was a threat to civilization!

        Makes you think, though — that he’s a shitwit!


  15. AL Jizz Error: Brazil lets Cuban doctors resume work amid coronavirus struggle

    Doctors who stayed after Havana cancelled a programme helping Brazil’s healthcare system receive new medical licenses.

    Brazil has rehired 157 Cuban doctors to help fight a surge in coronavirus cases, a year and a half after Havana ended a medical assistance programme over a dispute with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro….

    So not spies then?


    1. Bolsonaro is having the very devil of a job finding a properly servile Health Minister. Is the logistics general still there?


    1. We’ve had quite a rainy Spring as well. I haven’t seen much to complain about yet, though, as everything is bursting with greenery as a result, and the trees certainly seem happier considering how stressed they were two summers ago, when we had more or less three months of unbroken hot weather with no rain. It took the cedars a full year to recover and lose the brown patches and slipped needles; they were literally on their last legs. And that was year three of three long, hot, nearly rainless summers in a row. We’re supposed to be living on the edge of a rain forest, so some of these species can’t take months on end with no water. Last summer was a little more agreeable mix, and so far this year has been good as well. During the hot summers we had several periods where there were intense forest fires inland, and went for days with a pall of smoke over everything and a blood-red sun.

      Not floods, though. We don’t need that, and I hope you all get past it with no harm done. We don’t want the Great Lake State to become just the Great Lake.


      1. Our local concern is Lake Erie. A record high lake level combined with an east or northeast wind of 20+ mph causes local flooding. The lake level has increased 2 or 3 feet over the past few years. An increase of another foot would render some residential area essentially inhabitable.


    2. Unseasonably cold out here in sticks as well: never turned the heating off since I arrived here a week ago And wet snow forecast for tomorrow!


      1. Our last snow (just traces) was a few weeks ago and probably was close a record for the latest occurrence of spring snow. The temperature for the past 8 weeks has been far below normal and with much higher levels of precipitation than normal.

        Many years ago, climatologists were predicting that the US Midwest would become semi-arid and Lake Erie’s surface area would shrink by 50%. The reality is that its surface area is growing.


    1. But….but…isn’t state – as in Federal – ownership in the energy industry…sort of BAD? Won’t aggressive American campaigning to sell its energy abroad in future be (gulp) using energy as a weapon?

      Just kidding, I guess – I think we all knew they were going to do that, even though the Republicans pretended they weren’t and the Democrats pretended to hold them to account. Of the ten largest companies in the world by revenue, six are oil and gas companies, and energy sales obviously were tremendously profitable.

      Whether they still will be, coming out of this, remains to be seen, and probably not in the short term. I suppose a lot depends on how long the USA can hold on to its power to shape things its own way, because it remains firmly wedded to a petroleum-based economy. If fiat currencies collapse, as some suggest they will this year or next, then things might be different, but that has been forecast many times before without happening. I think a lot of people at the moment are focused on just holding the line and getting all our rights back without social distancing becoming the law of the land and some sort of Health-Services Government being imposed on us ‘for the common good’, so that organized resistance is impossible.

      To the best of my understanding shale drilling has never been profitable at the extraction end, and much of the crazy money in the early optimistic years was made in leasing blocks for exploration. But I note that even now, when you would think things were disastrous, the report says only that this is its worst performance in two years. That’s not very far back, and a long way from an irrecoverable decline.

      On the other hand, I notice that now anything that gets oil up over $30.00/bbl is described as a ‘rally’, and the market goes gaga with optimism.


  16. Ukraine judge orders Joe Biden be listed as alleged perpetrator of crime in prosecutor’s firing

    Latest twist in Ukraine impeachment drama could stretch into Biden’s fall campaign as fired prosecutor seeks legal remedy in courts.

    …In Kiev late last month, District Court Judge S. V. Vovk ordered the country’s law enforcement services to formally list the fired prosecutor, Victor Shokin, as the victim of an alleged crime by the former U.S. vice president, according to an official English translation of the ruling obtained by Just the News…

    Shokin’s attorney, Oleksandr Ivanovych Teleshetskyi, confirmed the ruling to Just the News but said Ukraine officials have not yet complied….

    May I remind everyone (and as I previously posted) that the author of this piece, John Solomon, was criticized for his reporting on Ukraine/Biden/whatever by his previous employer for being too ‘newsy’ in his pieces written under The Hill’s ‘Opinion’ section. This more recent news only bolsters his previous reporting and news worthiness whether you consider the story to be exaggerated or not. Apparently there are different standards of journalism expected depending on political persuasion…


  17. So the EU flexed its mighty muscles, and rejected Gazprom’s appeal…

    ruling that it was up to individual states to enforce EU gas rules…and then Germany granted Nord Stream II a 20-year exemption.

    I wonder how much the legal bill was for that little judicial minuet. Say, if you happen to be going past Poland on your way home…look in on them, what do you say? They may…take it hard.

    For the rest of us, break out the bubbly.


    1. Yes, what a surprise! 😉

      The lo-land of Po-land will have to decide to either let it drop or go toe-to-pointless-toe with Germany which it might do considering there are presidential elections this year.

      This ruling and subsequent action neatly side-steps NS partners needing to carry out their threat to take the u-Ropean Commission to legally binding arbitration under the Energy Charter Treaty (that Russia never ratified but is legally bound even if its support was only provisional).

      The other irony here is that the EU is looking to de-carbonize and promote a renewable/hyrogen etc. EU and that the ECT itself is now considered to be too generous to private companies, so reform is necessary! i-Taly doesn’t follow the ECT and there have been numerous rumblings elsewhere in the EU about it, particularly that it gives too much protection to private companies… like NS…


  18. Elijah J Magnier: Israel strikes Syria to keep the USA in the Levant. 20 years after the unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, what has been achieved?

    Following its defeat in the second war on Lebanon, Israel discovered that its only way to suppress Hezbollah would be to close the supply line between Lebanon and Syria. That could only be achieved by removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, disrupting the “Axis of the Resistance” that extends from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza. But Israel and the US, supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Turkey, Europe and many other countries all failed to achieve their goal of making Syria a failed state. …

    Plenty more at the link.

    I thought I’d just add this to buttress my earlier comment refuting the piece saying why ‘Russia is losing in Syria.’


  19. Further to the bing-bong ding-dong between the King-kong and the Au-long over beef&barley-ong & Coronavirus-investagong, Helmer has this to share with us:


    One day after Australia was defeated at the World Health Assembly in a joint effort with the Trump Administration to attack China, and after Beijing retaliated, calling the Australian Government a US puppet, a joke, and chewing-gum on China’s shoe, Australia has telephoned Moscow for help. In a call initiated by Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image, left), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked to boost Russian imports from Australia and send more Russian tourists to the country. ..



    1. How in hell is Russia supposed to import more Australian products? Their economy is in tatters, man! How in hell are more Russian tourists supposed to journey to Australia? They’ve no disposable income, thanks to Washington’s powerful and crushing sanctions! And why would anyone wish to go on vacation anywhere that they are handed a T-shirt upon deplaning which bears the slogan “Foreign Agent” which they must wear at all times while in Oz, and have a pack of police and journalists follow them around wherever they go, rooting through whatever they threw in the trash and looking for ‘clues’?

      It is, unfortunately, Australia’s political style to make bellicose statements about ‘shirtfronting’ this one and that one, to wild applause from the Americans (which political Australia seems to crave), who just titter when the bold threat falls short and those threatened dare Australia to get on with it. They’ve stepped in their own mess with China, for sure, and now there are going to be consequences which Australian producers are not going to like. Maybe someone will even notice how regularly the USA encourages such conflicts, but when they result in economic losses and the American ‘good buddy’ is approached to see if it would like to purchase some of the no-longer-wanted products, it is suddenly very busy with some other important thing, can’t talk now, call you later. Exactly the same thing happened to the Ukrainians when they were encouraged to spurn their Russian markets, only it was the EU that filled their heads with dreams of farting through silk and streets paved with gold, only to be told that if Ukraine was very, very good, maybe the EU would take a bit more sunflower oil.

      I started work on a post about the ridiculous MH-17 trial, which was just postponed due to wild excitement about an arrest made in eastern Ukraine (hint: excuse to stall a bit longer), and remain in awe of Helmer and his incredible sources.


      1. Helmer is originally from Australia (Melbourne is his birthplace and he grew up and was educated there) so he obviously still has an interest in Canberra politics and in the issue of the MH17 crash, especially given that most of the Australian passengers were supposed to have continued travelling to Melbourne if Flight MH17 had reached its destination in Kuala Lumpur.


  20. Tass: Poland lacks strategic vision, if it views Russia as main threat — diplomat

    Polish President Andrzej Duda signed on May 12 the country’s new national security strategy, in which Russia was designated as the main threat to Warsaw

    The Polish leadership demonstrates absence of strategic vision as it continues viewing Russia as the main threat, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook on Wednesday…

    They must has cracked quantum transportation to move Poland to the Caribbean, like really close to the USA. Maybe this is one formal step to hosting US nukes? The lunatics are in charge of the asylum after all…


    1. Yes, it must be a real dilemma at Thunderbird Headquarters inside the secret mountain in Washington – the current Polish leadership is radical and crude, everything western values reject…yet at the same time, so useful. They really, really hate the Russians. Surely there must be some way we can overlook their other little foibles?

      There should be a lesson in there for all electorates. Never, under any circumstances, allow your political leadership – if you must have one – to be comprised of ideologues of any stripe. Nazis, Greens, Corporatists – whatever. Ideologues have had the pragmatism gene burnt out of their DNA. As soon as they are given any power whatever, what they see is an unobstructed road to their ideological goal. And fuck anyone else and their ‘interests’. Like trade. And diplomacy. And manners.

      Poland was spoiled considerably by being one of the first east-European countries into the EU; it received major incentives and investment, and considerable debt forgiveness. Now it is a ‘success story’, but it is completely dependent on the EU. Its economy can be upset on a whim, and indeed economic punishment was the first consideration when the present Polish government took power. But cooler heads prevailed when it was observed how much that government loathed Russia.


      1. When an F-35 manages to complete a flight as scheduled with no hold-ups, no odd bits falling off, the pilot being able to walk from the plane in one piece and not leave a trail of blood behind, and the plane itsel obviously not crashing anywhere along the way, that plane will be front-page screaming-headline news and the pilot given some kind of award … a knighthood perhaps, depending on the country s/he flies for.


        1. Well, if you fly them a lot, you crash them a lot, and Elgin is a training facility. The F-22 is a major loss, though; they only have so many, and they are ridiculously expensive. The F-35 is not a really dangerous aircraft to fly, and all models have their quirks, some including the fact that they are not particularly aerodynamic or even, apparently, designed to fly. The Canadian Air Force flew the Lockheed CF-104 Starfighter for 25 years, and in that time it experienced 110 Class A accidents resulting in 37 pilot fatalities. The press dubbed it ‘The Widowmaker’. although aviation historians claim the pilots never called it that. They referred to it as ‘The Lawn Dart’ or ‘The Aluminum Death Tube’.

          For all of that, it had a better safety record than the aircraft it replaced, the F-86 Sabre. In only 12 years of operation, that model experienced 282 Class A accidents, and killed 112 pilots.

          My biggest beef with the F-35 is the American insistence on extolling it as an amazing feat of engineering and technology that represents a major advance on all previous fighter and attack-aircraft performance. It is not. It is at best an average aircraft at virtually everything it does, and while some of the technology incorporated in it is amazing it is also finicky and not very dependable, fine when it works but useless when it doesn’t. Each of its other performance parameters were routinely surpassed by models it replaces. Probably the best fighter the USA ever produced was the F-15 Eagle; it is a tossup between that and the F-14 Tomcat, which was my personal favourite although the Eagle was more versatile.


  21. My favourite Canamerican, Diane Francis, is caught in mid-victory dance –

    “With the US refusing to soften its stance on Nord Stream 2, Putin’s pipeline ploy to gain added energy leverage over Europe looks to be in tatters. Meanwhile, the Russian economy is crashing under the combined weight of the COVID19 pandemic, collapsed global energy prices, and sanctions imposed for the war in Ukraine. Understandably, plans to make Putin president for life are currently on hold. And neither Ted Cruz nor Congress has had to fire a single shot.”

    Wh…wh…whawassat noise? The alarm clock? Already? And I was having such a bee-yoo-tiful dream…I was having Ted Cruz’s baby, and….

    I honestly do not bear the very great majority of Americans any ill-will. But I have to say that when the USA augers into the ground on afterburner, the screams of denial from cocky exceptionalists like Diane Francis will be music to my ears.

    The unmitigated arrogance on show here, where the USA merely waves its mighty hand and international projects which have nothing whatever to do with the United States must halt, is more than I can take. It just has to be against the law for America to order the Nord Stream II pipeline halted in order to make room for its own fat ass at the table, and if it believes Europeans are incapable of connecting the dots between stopping the pipeline and American LNG sales, it is even more simpleminded than I thought.


    1. Hey; I just read that exemption article again, and it was quite ambiguous – I wondered why it was not being reported with anguish and fury in western newspapers. It’s because the article says it applies to the NORD STREAM pipeline, not Nord Stream II. So the pipeline which was already completely built and which has been operational for some time now was granted an exemption, whoopty-doo, since it was already serving Europe and it needs the gas. So Nord Stream II was not granted anything, and as of today it falls under European Third Energy Package rules which say unbundling bla bla bla, I’m sure you know by now.

      The EU ruling left it open to Germany to apply EU gas rules, but I suppose it wants to make clear that if Gazprom is granted an exemption for the second pipeline as well, it was Germany who did it and not the EU.

      So we’re pretty much back where we were before. The United States is congratulating itself on having stopped ‘Putin’s pet project’, Russia is moving ahead on completing the pipeline, and the USA still does not have anything like the capability of taking over gas supplies to Europe. So the pipeline will still be built, and then we will still have to sit through another bitter fight while Washington squeezes the EU to make it force Russia to sign another transit contract with Ukraine. Long time before we get to that point, though. Russia owns the pipeline. Russia owns the gas. All the EU has is a bunch of rules that it wrote specifically to stop itself from receiving as much cheap gas as it needs. It looks to me as if there is only one way it can end. Mind you, we could all be surprised and by the time the Ukrainian transit agreement runs out, the EU could be powering itself on dandelions and sunshine.


      1. My guess is that the Commission will fudge it. Fudge is what it does best. Legally it cannot discriminate nor apply rules retroactively. There’s no way around that. The (original flavor) NS ruling is a reflection of that.

        Remember that the Commission claimed the right to limit the gas in NS only for it to provide an exemption. I expect the same for NSII. The Commission wants bragging rights to show that it is The Wo/Man/non-specific gender and that in its great magnanimity it may grant, like an emperor, derogations/exceptions/whatever.

        My feeling is that this has all been already worked out, probably as part of the agreement between the Comission and Gazprom a couple of years ago where the latter agreed to abide with EU which saved the face of the Commission of years of embarrasment and cost to ultimately lose at the ECJ. To me it doesn’t make sense that you have such a significant agreement on the one hand, but effectively sabotage it by blocking NSII.

        Yet again, Russia and partners are more than happy for others to blow their trumpets loudly if the former gets what they want. It’s all very proto-t-Rump. “We won! Don’t mind the details…”


        1. What I don’t see is how the USA still thinks it can make forcing rules on the Russians which will ensure the EU gets gas at the best – meaning lowest – price it can possibly negotiate…mesh with a major role for American LNG. How, exactly, is that going to work? The Europeans will chisel Russia down to the minimum price both will accept…and then the Europeans will say, “Now I don’t want it. We’re buying American LNG instead, at a substantial markup.” Well, I suppose they could – let me qualify that: no European decision-maker who wants to get reelected will ever do that.

          As various sources have pointed out, completion of construction is not affected by the quarrel over a waiver and the legality of devising a complete set of European-wide regulations which were obviously formulated specifically to apply to only one pipeline. Construction will go ahead even if Ted Cruz threatens to kill himself, and it seems that stopping the pipeline from being finished is the American objective. Once it is completed, Washington must know it will not be able to compete on price without losing money, and as soon as European demand goes up they will be looking to ease restrictions so they can get more gas. To me the fulcrum of the whole issue is that Russia not commit to another Ukrainian transit agreement. That does not mean no more gas will ever be transited via Ukraine, although to be honest the GTS is on its last legs anyway, and Naftogaz itself has admitted that unless the line is pressurized for delivering significant volumes it will not hold up much longer. But Russia would not be obligated by agreement to keep Naftogaz alive, and it would not be difficult at all to make a case for reliability in favour of Nord Stream II.

          Russia once offered to buy the Ukrainian GTS. The Ukrainians made what they believed was a clever decision, and refused, probably figuring transit fees forever were much better than a lump-sum payment. What a fantastic decision that turned out to be. For Russia.


          1. The architects in Washington have plenty of u-Ropean ass-lantacists/filth-colonists encouraging them to keep the pressure up on those in government/parties who are considered too compromising, i.e. reasonable at all. I don’t think price is even a major factor in this. It is ideological. I also think that u-Rope generally considers itself quite clever and that the Americans can be ‘managed.’

            The Russian strategy I see like tennis, make less errors than your opponent plus selectively squeeze at the right time and in the right way force errors by your opponent. The US by comparison and particularly the t-Rump administration is little short of maximum pressure (save damaging companies like GE, Microsoft etc.). Unlike i-Ran, Russia is too big to burn all bridges.

            As for the Ukraine’s GTS, isn’t that what IMF loans are for? Borrow money from the west and thus you are more in their pocket whomever is in the top job or government?

            Anyway, I’m keeping an eye on the extension of Turkstream via the Balkans to Hungary and onwards. The Bulgarian leg was completed at the beginning of this year after Putin sat on Borissov’s head so all that is left is the Serbian stretch and any interconnector/whatever at the Hungarian border. It’s hard to see that not happening regardless of the legal distractions over NSII.


            1. That all seems pretty reasonable. Pouring money into the Ukrainian GTS only makes sense if there is a high degree of confidence (ha, ha; where have we heard that before?) that Ukraine will continue to see significant international gas transit. For just moving gas around Ukraine, it’s kind of overkill.

              It’s difficult to say how much of Ukraine’s bitching over the requirement to maintain pressure in the pipes is simple thievery, but it has come up before, and was an issue in the 2009 shutdown of gas to Europe. Ukraine insists that it needs 21 million cubic meters/day of ‘technical gas’ just to maintain pressure in the system. And it apparently feels that gas is its own to keep, and sell onward. Russia said that by contract, the generation of ‘technical gas’ was the responsibility of the transit country, and if it could not generate the ‘technical gas’ needed from its own stores, it had to pay for it.


              “Naftogaz Ukrainy, which would have been forced to use some of these transit volumes as technical gas in the absence of a new 2009 supply contract with Gazprom, is reportedly blocking transit due to “unacceptable” conditions under the existing transit agreement, provoking another confrontation and putting Russian gas exports to Europe in jeopardy once again…Gazprom officials stated their expectation that the full volume of gas pumped into the GTS would exit the other side of Ukraine, and the Russian gas giant clarified this morning that there should be no delay in gas being received in Europe. However, Naftogaz has said repeatedly that it needs some 21 mmcm/d of “technical” gas in order to operate the GTS, including maintaining network pressure and pumping stations. Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky noted that Ukraine is “forced” to take this gas since the company cannot bring gas from its underground storage facilities in the western part of the country for GTS operational needs in the east.

              Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov once again pointed out yesterday that, “under the existing contract [covering gas transit], the provision of technical gas is the direct responsibility of the transit agent. If Naftogaz Ukrainy cannot provide technical gas from its own resources, it has to buy it and not siphon it off illegally from transit volumes.” Hence, Gazprom could accuse Naftogaz of “theft”, as it did last week, but this time with confirmation from the international monitors that are now in place. Russia could then promptly use this evidence to blame Ukraine for the gas halt from the past week, but then what?”

              That was the year, you’ll recall, that Yulia Tymoshenko personally negotiated a new gas contract with Russia after having been expressly told to stay out of it by special cabinet meeting, whereupon she bullied the head of Naftogaz into signing for the Ukrainian end, jetted off to Moscow and got their signature under terms which were said to be very unfavourable to Ukraine, and then appended a declaration to it after it had been signed by both parties, to the effect that Russia would supply ‘technical gas’ to pressurize the pumping stations without charge.

              Because the concerned parties only had Russia’s word for it that transit was stopped because Ukraine was stealing gas for its own use and sale, the west of course chose to believe Ukraine that it was all just some mix-up, and it was not repeated once international monitors were in place. So of course it was used to argue Russia was an unreliable supplier.

              Check out the PDF document “Russian Gas Transit Through Ukraine After Nord Stream II: Scenario Analysis” by Dmytro Naumenko, for the Ukrainian Center for European Policy in Kuh-yiv. The various scenarios presented on page 12 are entertaining, and it is apparent that the authors believe the EU does not understand what ‘decrepit’ means. However, on the next page, they state;

              “The EU will put pressure on both sides to find a happy medium in order to ensure Ukrainian GTS operations at least as a back-up transit system during winter months (especially, taking into account its large UGS) and until other new pipelines utilization will reach its full project capacities, but for this such arrangements must guarantee at least reaching conditional “minimum” of transit for the Ukrainian system (estimated near 40-60 bcm/a) for not being scrapped at all.”

              Co-inky-dinkly, 40 BcM was the amount agreed upon for transit – minimum – via Ukraine after this year. Anything less than that, and the GTS is just junk.


  22. And there goes the United States, out of the Open Skies Treaty. Why? You know why – because Russia. The accurate answer, though, would be because the treaty as it was did not provide for significant American advantage. America is not interested in that kind of treaty.

    I find myself wondering if the USA will still be part of any international agreements by the time Trump leaves office.

    “We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it,” Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea told the Hudson Institute think tank.

    Yes, you get right on with ‘spending the adversary into oblivion’ with those still-wet, freshly-printed fiat greenbucks. On top of your out-of-control debt. Rules are for losers, right?


    1. Their Open Skies verification aircraft is falling apart. It regularly breaks down and is expensive to maintain. This didn’t just happen in the last four years. No money was to be found to replace it in previous Administrations so while t-Rump is weilding the executioner’s blade, the process was long set in motion. Logically it follows the USA’s abrogation of the ABM treaty in 2001.

      The whole thinking appears to be, ‘We won the Cold War. All these agreements and systems only benefit a nation (Russia) that has fallen off the map so why keep them when they are holding our hyper-power back?’ The rest of the world was supposed to be formed naturally in the West’s image. But the gobal south told the rich north to f/o over GATT/WTO/globalization Doha round of talks that mean it would be completely open to western companies but only had the promise of access to western markets. The EU expected ACP (78 African, Carribean & Pacific countries) to just extend the Cotonou Agreement but the ACP said ‘No.

      I’ve read elsewhere that the USA has offered Russia a short extension on START by way of a ‘Gentleman’s Agreement.’ The problem is that only one party behaves like gentlemen. The other is that if Russia agrees, the USA will use this as a leveraging model in future, i.e. short extensions and take it as a sign of weakness. If Russia does not agree, they’ll blame Russia for killing it. Russia should quite clearly state that they would much prefer a proper extension and that short extensios only reinforces their view that the USA is Not Agreement Capable, i.e. your promises and words are are worthless.


      1. State Department: New START Talks Between US, Russia Have Begun

        Two sides agree to have an in-person dialogue after pandemic

        …Billingslea is to meet Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov on the treaty, saying a venue was decided on, and they will be exchanging views on the idea. Billingslea also added that the talks are conditional on Trump’s vision to get China involved too…



        1. The same guy who claimed the USA can spend its opponents into oblivion if that’s the route it has to go. Not difficult when you have a basement full of printing presses. Arrogant twit. Washington’s insistence that China be included is probably about making the process fail more than anything else. But Washington’s whole attitude is based on the premise that it will emerge with a powerful advantage – it is never interested in eliminating weapons that can’t hurt it anyway. It plainly believes in its own superior position. But is it?


  23. An interesting short article on the inherent instability of fiat currency, and the many ways in which governments convince their consumers it is much more solid than it actually is.

    “Debt instruments such as bonds offered by the government with a guarantee that they will be settled at a future date and at a specific price are mostly inflationary in nature. This basically allows the state to access cheap money and encourage people to spend their income on consumer goods rather than savings. “They are setting themselves up to lose everything they possess,” according to Macleod.”

    And further on the same theme;

    “But what most individuals are curious about is the life of the U.S. dollar, as the fiat currency has been tethered to barrels of oil for decades. The USD is a derivative of petro-dollar recycling, a term that Wiki defines as “the international spending or investment of a country’s revenues from petroleum exports.” With barrels of oil trading for less than zero, it means that the USD is only backed by military coercion and threats of force.”

    Of course Bitcoin and metals traders have a vested interest in making you believe paper money is not safe anymore, although it begs the question what they think you are going to give them in exchange for Bitcoin or gold. But certain passages such as those quoted ring true – the US dollar IS the petrodollar, implicitly bound to oil and the value of oil, and right now the value of oil is tremendously low at precisely the moment the developed world is embarking on an orgy of money-printing in an effort to spend the economy back to life. The situation for fiat currencies is extremely tenuous, and it would not take much to set off a panic. Especially with a fucking chowderhead like Trump in charge, whose understanding of money is pretty much limited to “I have a lot of it”.


  24. The idiot administration of Donald Trump steps up its trade actions against Huawei, in an attempt to strangle its access to microchips. Chipmakers worldwide who use ‘US technology’ now must obtain a license from the United States government in order to sell to Huawei. China is a $200 Billion a year chip business. The USA also shuttered its Globalfoundries semiconductor plant in China, mostly symbolic because it had never started production.

    What I want to know is where the WTO is while the USA is firing off sanctions here, there and everywhere against WTO members, in an attempt to destroy their links with international trade. I suppose it is entitled to protect its own proprietary technology, but does it not notice its attempts to ‘level the playing field’ (meaning, ’tilt it in America’s favour’) are making its products toxic as former regular customers realize their own access could be cut off the first time America doesn’t like their leader?

    This time Orangeman has bitten off too much. China will spend its last yuan before it submits to American destruction of Huawei, just because America always has to have things its own way. China started up a pretty big chipmaker business in 2016 with Yangtze River Storage, a merger of Tsinghua Unigroup’s investment power and XMC;s engineering team. The objective was to become less reliant on foreign technology.

    The battle lines are being drawn, as China girds itself for a hard push to close the semiconductor gap.

    Again, I am perplexed how a guy who is supposed to be such a business savant cannot grasp that his actions are costing American companies growth markets that will never come back. China has tried to react moderately, because it wants to keep its own markets in the USA. But if push comes to shove, a major rift will hurt the USA far more in the long run – China is the world’s manufacturer, and it would take the USA years to restart its own outsourced manufacturing capability. Probably to find it could not be competitive, because the very reason it outsourced most of its manufacturing in the first place was because American workers wanted too much money and health plans and bennies, and once the factories got rolling in countries where labour was cheap but still skilled, my God, how the money rolled in.

    When is business going to turn on Trump? Does everything have to be in ruins before people catch on?


  25. The Moscow Arsewipe:

    With the coronavirus expected to crater Russia’s economy, regional officials are starting to lift lockdown measures …

    So the economy everywhere else is just going to be fine and dandy after this plandemic lockdown?

    More here if you feel the need to read the MT article.

    Artcle by (Da-da!!!!):

    Эван Гершкович
    репортёр The Moscow Times

    What a smart lad! Born in Moscow in 1991, but has worked for NYT already and now earning an honest (?) shekel at MT..


  26. B-1Bs flew over Sweden for the first time

    For the first time, the B-1B has flow over Sweden. The milestone occurred on May 20 when a pair from the 28th Bomb Wing flew to the Nordic Region.

    Aerial refueling support from a KC-135 from the 100th Air Refueling Wing and a Dutch KC-10 allowed the bombers to make the trip without stopping.

    Oh for fs Sweden. Just get out of your closet and in to NATO’s car! This pretence of neutrality is not believed by almost everyone. Even during the Cold War NATO was given Sweden’s minefield maps in its maritime territory.


  27. Update on my forbidden travels as a high-risk old fogey:

    Got back to Moskva late yesterday evening. My Sasha’s 12th birthday today. Went late so as to avoid the ticket inspectors. Went with my social card and e-pass that I got, using my social card number. Wanted to buy a Strelka travel card [similar to a London “Oyster” card] out at Dorokhovo yesterday. “We’ve got none”, they told me at Dorokhovo station. And then the woman there said: “Use your social card!” (So she thought I look like a dirty old man!)

    What incompetents!!!!

    You cannot buy tickets: you must use a Strelka or a Troika card _ Troika includes trams, buses, trolley buses in Moskva. Social cards are blocked.

    This quarantine business is a load of shite!!!! The “rules” are full of contradictions. I am forbidden to travel, my social card is blocked (which I truly believe is illegal: I EARNED that social card — I wasn’t given it because the government felt sorry for me!) because I’m over 65, yet they sold me a Troika card last week in Moscow and yesterday, I applied for an e-pass online, using my social card number, and immediately got one.

    I got the 21:22 back to Moscow. Arrived home at 23:30.

    No problem when I got to Begovaya station, where I connect to Begovaya metro station on my metro line. Begovaya station is the last stop before the Belorussky terminus.

    I had an e-pass and social card but no ticket. I could not buy one on the train because no ticket inspectors were on board, which was as I had expected: that’s why I had travelled back here so late, so as to avoid any hassle.

    At Begovaya, a railway woman let me through. She was the only railway person at the barrier — very, very few travellers on the train, of course. I told her I had an e-pass — she didn’t even want to look at it — and a social card, that I had used to get the pass.

    She just let me through!

    At Begovaya metro station, almost the same thing happened. My Troika wouldn’t work at the barrier. I told a woman there that I had an e-pass that I had got, using my social card number. She scanned my e-pass and let me through, saying, “When you go back, get an e-pass using your Troika number!”

    She knew I had come from the dacha because on the pass under цель (purpose of journey) I had entered с дачи (from dacha). You have to enter the start address and end address of your journey.

    The railway woman let me through without making me pay. She said I was supposed to pay using a ticket machine that was on the wall near where she was standing, where, in normal times, passengers without tickets pay for their journey so as to go through the barrier. She just said to me, “You are supposed to buy a ticket from that machine, but it only accepts cash, so I’ll just let you through”.

    A ticket to Moscow from my dacha station costs 197₽ .

    Normally, I don’t pay, because I have a social card, but now I have to pay, because my social card is blocked.

    Which, as I have said earlier, is illegal!!!

    I have a social card because I have paid tax here for 25 years AND because I am a “multi child father”!

    The government’s giving me a social card was not an act of charity!!!!

    Having a social card is my legal right!

    And now they have blocked it so asto prevent from travelling free of charge. But I may travel if I buy a travel card … But I must not travel because I ama “high risk” aged person!.

    A woman told me yesterday that she had heard that this quarantine will end on June 15.

    I believe that, because that is when the local МВД [Ministry of the Interior] office opens and when I can re-register my place of residence, which registration I have to do every year in May.

    They told me there 2 weeks ago that re-registrations had been suspended for 90 days since April and that the office will only accept registration of address on and after 15 June.

    All planned beforehand!!!



  28. From offGuardian, March 17:

    To really underline that, as far as geo-political journalism is concerned, normal service has been resumed, we cap off this week with a classic case of “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.”

    In this article, Shaun Walker bemoans “strongman” leaders refusing to wear masks because it makes them look weak. He singles out Putin for special mention (of course).

    While in this article, Simon Tisdall also singles out Putin for special criticism…but this time for the total opposite reason:

    Putin’s decision to shield himself from harm, isolating away from Moscow, has badly dented his image as fearless tough-guy leader.

    I don’t know what great globalist dream is fueling the coronavirus narrative, but it’s certainly increasingly apparent it won’t involve Russia, and especially not Vladimir Putin.

    Tisdall and Walker, what a classic pair of tossers!


  29. BMPD: Доставка американских аппаратов ИВЛ в Москву/American medical ventilators delivered to Moscow

    21 мая 2020 года в московский аэропорт Внуково прибыл американский военно-транспортный самолет Boeing C-17А Globemaster III (военный номер 08-8190 / 88190, серийный номер Р190) из состава 437-го транспортного крыла ВВС США , который доставил в Москву первые 50 аппаратов искусственной вентиляции легких (ИВЛ) для лечения больных коронавирусом, из числа 200 таких аппаратов, передаваемых Соединенными Штатами российской стороне в порядке гуманитарной помощи….

    I have little doubt that this is in part to wind up t-Rump’s opponents as well as accepting Russian ventilators earlier. Dems squealing in 3…2…1…


    1. I would imagine most banks and mortgage companies would be deee-lighted to move three months worth of your mortgage to the back end of the loan – it’s three months more interest, and they would probably pro-rate it so you would pay the interest on the balance you have now rather than what your balance would be then. They would still make the same money, but look like they were doing you an enormous kindness. He is right on about how the high risks banks take to earn more interest on the money they lend are always subsidized by the taxpayer. Banks are allowed to go out on a limb and lend to shaky enterprises because they will pay a huge premium to be able to borrow money. If the whole house of cards falls down and the clients default, the government bails the bank out using taxpayers money. Where’s the incentive to be careful or prudent?


  30. Hallelujah!! The IMF gives Ukraine $5 Billion to get its shit together after the ‘pandemic’. About 80% of which will go straight into the pockets of the oligarchy. But Ukraine has to be rewarded somehow for its ‘land reform’ and cutting Benny Kolomoisky out of banking.

    Oh, but…wait, wait…what’s this? That $5 Billion is actually to help Ukraine with DEBT REPAYMENTS! So Ukraine ‘borrows’ more money than it can pay back…and then Brussels gives it money to make its payments! And Ukraine gets deeper and deeper into the red, until it’s essentially the property of the IMF.

    How to buy your own country, in three easy lessons.


  31. Oh, dear; this can’t be good, if your last name is ‘Biden’.

    I guess Joe Biden has lost his ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Or whatever was safeguarding his family from investigation. So, let’s recap – he’s personally under investigation for sexual assault, with the case generating all kinds of negative press for the Democrats on account of how they swooned with grief over the injustice done to Christine Blaisey Ford and screeched that everyone must believe her, when doing so might keep a Republican appointee off of the Supreme Court, but now go ‘Tara who?’ every time you bring up Biden’s alleged peccadillo. Here’s some sample headlines from the Dem-friendly press:

    And now it looks like an investigation is going to edge closer to why Hunter Biden was given a ‘job’ where he made as much in a month as most people make in a year, despite knowing diddly about the gas and oil business and not really having anything which could be called a ‘job description’.

    Oh, no! Another ‘absurd conspiracy theory’!

    Joe will be a shoo-in for president. Yeah.


    1. I don’t think either will go anywhere as much as I would like it. In my opinion this is about providing talking points in the run up to the erection and deterring democratic supporters who have doubts, like any normal person would have that sexual assualt is not more or less relevant depending on the person’s politics. The real fly in the ointment is Biden’s flaky brain in the high tempo PR/TV/debate/rallies etc. closer to the erection.


      1. How low US political machines appear to be capable of going when someone who seems to have a degree of mental impairment can be exploited in the manner Biden is being used! Whether as eventual nominee himself or as convenient stalking horse for the intended real nominee, to parade this husk of a man is shameful. Whatever his actions during his years of mental competence it is a disgrace that the whole political establishment colludes in the present horrendous travesty of his candidacy.

        Rant endeth.


  32. July cancellations of US LNG cargoes are roughly double what they were for June.

    At least half of the cancellations are for Cheniere’s facilities at Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi.

    Meanwhile, speculation that the ‘oil rally’ is over, on increased tension between the USA and China, and China’s surprise decision to not set a growth target for 2020, due to ‘uncertainty’.

    That notwithstanding, China’s oil imports are forecast to rise about 2% this year, and already its oil demand has reached 90% of pre-pandemic levels.


  33. Iran is (again) calling a likely US bluff:

    The United States will face consequences if it takes action against Iranian tankers en route to Venezuela, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed. It comes after the Venezuelan military said it would escort the ships to port.

    “If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, they [the United States] will also be in trouble,” Rouhani told Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a telephone conversation, Tasnim News reported.

    Five tankers transporting 1.5 million barrels of Iranian fuel to Venezuela are currently near the Caribbean, with the first ship scheduled to reach the country’s territorial waters by Sunday.


  34. I don’t think anyone would be surprised that suicides are up in the US since the great lockdown. But, the scope is. Doctors are reporting that suicides may be exceed Covid-19 deaths. More disturbing, the suicides are most common in young people.

    The f-ing CDC leaders downplayed that aspect as they pumped the Covid hysteria. They have blood on their hands.


  35. I was reading an account of the Battle of Savo Island; regarded as the US Navy’s worst defeat in WW II. The battle was a night time slug fest between heavy cruisers at close range. The Japanese suffered light causalities while American and Australian forces lost four (4) heavy cruisers among other losses.

    I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the role played by John S. McCain, Sr. Yes, the daddy of that dearly departed fuckup.

    Mikawa’s run down the Slot was not detected by Allied forces. Turner had requested that U.S. Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., commander of Allied air forces for the South Pacific area, conduct extra reconnaissance missions over the Slot in the afternoon of August 8. But, for unexplained reasons, McCain did not order the missions, nor did he tell Turner that they were not carried out. Thus, Turner mistakenly believed that the Slot was under Allied observation throughout the day.

    And that is one reason why the Americans suffered grievous losses. Not to take anything away from the Japanese as their training for night fighting was apparently superb.

    The McCain penchant for fucking up is multi-generational.


  36. ME’s former brief, Michael Mansfield, is still active. Busy Stooges might like to know that the money shot is in the final sentence, but much high class entertainment is to be had going through the whole piece:

    What’s that smell? That’s the sweet smell of the Rule of Law…

    Should be fun in the weeks ahead.


    1. Sweet Jeebus, the British cops are incredible entertainers.

      “Rowley’s press interviews have been vague, inconsistent, self-contradictory, and evasive on where the perfume bottle was found, by whom; and when. He and the police have been unable to explain how the perfume bottle on his kitchen table and the package in his kitchen waste bin did not turn up until July 11; that was twelve days after Rowley and Sturgess were taken to hospital; and three days after Sturgess’s death certificate was signed; her lawyers are keeping the cause of death entry on this document secret.”

      Yes, I can see why that might be a bit difficult to explain. Especially considering Rowley claimed the bottle broke in his hands when he held it, after Sturgess had squirted some on to her wrists – he further claimed that he washed his hands immediately because he didn’t want to smell all girly.

      That must have been what protected him from any lasting harm by enough Novichok to kill 4000 people.

      Yet here the bottle is, unbroken, for photographs which obviously could not have been taken before police discovered it on his kitchen table, three days after Sturgess died. Not much of a housekeeper, evidently.

      Yes, scroll down to the bottom-ish where you will find a piccie of the Deadly Bottle, featuring red-label explanations of the various features Teresa May claimed were modifications that “left no doubt it was a cover for smuggling the weapon into the country, and for the delivery method for the attack against the Skripals’ front door”, and Hamish de Bretton-Gordon reckoned had cost the Russian government thousands of pounds and could have been made only in the most sophisticated labs, as it was so carefully and expertly made. It had to have been the Russians, who don’t make anything.

      If I had been involved in any capacity in the British ‘investigation’ – assuming the newspaper reporting accurately reflects events and the true idiots are not the journalists – I should be so ashamed that I would be reluctant to appear in public, and would probably switch to grocery delivery service. I mean, it’s just so hamfisted, with contradiction tumbling atop contradiction.


    2. Mr. Mansfield was a very imposing bloke back in the day when he was my brief in the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Strand, London, whither I had been led in manacles (I kid you not!), having spent the previous night in the lap of luxury, and in solitary, at Her Majesty’s Prison Brixton.

      I had been in solitary there because Brixton is a remand prison, and when I got into the block where I was to spend the night, I thought I was in a kids’ playground: it was full of Rastafarians playing ping-pong and dominoes or just lounging around watching TV. So I just plonked my arse down amongst them, but a screw collared me a few minutes later. I was a convicted criminal, see, so I was not allowed to associate with the dreadlocked brethren and was duly banged up for the night.

      Anyway, at the court, Mr. Mansfield appeared all dressed up in style: black begowned and with a pristine wig atop his bonce. His hair was black then and he was of very athletic build and about 6 foot six tall.

      Nowt down for me there, though, despite Mr. Mansfield’s skilful pleading on my behalf, and the next morning I was heading back, handcuffed to a screw, for Her Majesty’s Prison Manchester.

      The funny thing is, though (not funny then, I assure you, but looking back now, it makes me chuckle), one of my best buddies down the pit (unfortunately he died young about 20 years ago: died of the booze; like many of my old pals, he got his redundancy pay and drank it — unto his death) told me about 10 years after the event that he and another best pit-buddy (he who visited me in Moskva last summer) had been given some money by the Lancashire NUM and train tickets to London, so as to meet me after I had won my appeal, and to come home with me, but not before they had gone out on the town (London Town, that is!) with me so as to celebrate my and the Union’s victory.

      Well, there was no such victory to celebrate, of course: I didn’t see them in the Appeal Court, but they certainly saw me being taken away — yet again.

      “So when my appeal was turned down”, I asked, “What did you do with the money that was given you so as to have a “slap up” celebratory meal with me in London?”

      “We went to steakhouse”, my now dead pal said, “and then went on the piss. Almost missed the last fucking train to Manchester, we did!”

      Ah, such friendships no longer seem to exist!


        1. It was not their money, that is why, the thieving buggers!

          It was money intended to be lavished upon me, a victim of the Class Struggle, and not to be spent on themselves until they had none left and had, therefore, nothing else better to do than stagger legless to Euston Station, homeward bound!


          1. My dead friend’s name was Leo. His dad named him after Leo Trotsky, believe it or not, which must have caused altercations between Leo’s dad and the NUM lodge secretary at my pit, who was a member of the CPGB, as was his wife, a cotton mill worker. She was a rum old bugger! But they were old style Stalinists. I am talking here about the 1950s and early 1960s, when I and Leo were still at school.

            The old Communist branch secretary (strictly t-total and non-smoker) and his wife were still alive and well in 1984 though and still politically active, though.

            My pit was one of the several places that London journalists liked to label as “Little Moscow”.

            For my part, I should counter that by labelling Westminster as “Little Washington”.


    3. Helmer:

      No hospital witness has come forward to testify about her [Sturgess’] condition or treatment

      A round of applause called here for “frontline” NHS staff, doncha think, chaps?


    1. Oh no!!! Piers Morgan will drive 2 km through virus-infested air!! Mercy, what a hero. And then at the end of it, when his lungs are sticky with virus, he will joyously embrace his Dear Old Mum, whom he hasn’t seen for 12 weeks.

      Is that the best he could come up with? Really? No threats to zigzag back and forth for 2 km through 8 lanes of traffic? Swim 2 km through shark-infested waters? Drive 2 km when coronavirus is known to be about? You great pansy.


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