Trial by Blockhead

Uncle Volodya says, “We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN.”

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

– Adolf Hitler

We’re going to do something just a bit different today; the event I want to talk about is current – in the future, actually – but the reference which is the subject of the discussion is almost a year old. and the event it discusses is coming up to its sixth anniversary. The past event was the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine, the future event is the trial in absentia of persons accused by the west of having perpetrated that disaster, and the reference is this piece, by Mark Galeotti, for the Moscow Times: “Russia’s Roadmap Out of the MH17 Crisis”.

You all know Mr. Galeotti, I’m sure. Here’s his bio, for Amazon:

“Professor Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at UMV, the Institute of International Relations Prague, and coordinator of its Centre for European Security. Formerly, he was Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and head of History at Keele University. Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is a specialist in modern Russian politics and security and transnational organized crime. And he writes other things for fun, too…”

Yes, yes, he certainly does, as you will see. But this bio is extremely modest, albeit he most likely wrote it himself. Mr. Galeotti also authored an excellent blog, In Moscow’s Shadows, which was once a go-to reference for crime and legal issues in Russia, a subject in which he seems very well-informed. The blog is still active, although he seems mostly to use it now to advertise podcasts and sell books. That’s understandable – it’s evident from the blur of titles appended to his name that he’s a very busy man. Always has been, really; either as a student or an educator. He also speaks with confidence on the details of military affairs and equipment…despite never having been in the military or studied engineering; his education has pretty much all been in history, law or political science.

I know what you will say – many of the greatest reference works on pivotal battles, overall military campaigns and affairs were written by those who had no personal military experience themselves. Mr. Galeotti studied under Dominic Lieven, whose “Russia Against Napoleon” was perhaps the greatest work of military history, rich with detail and insight, that I have ever read. It won him the Wolfson prize for History for 2010, a well-deserved honour. Yet so far as I could make out, Mr. Lieven never served a day in uniform, and if you handed him an AK-47 and said “Here; field-strip this”, your likely response would be a blank look. He most certainly was not a witness to the subject military campaign. No; his epic work on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was informed by research, reading the accounts of others who were there at the time, poring over reams of old documents and matching references to get the best picture we have been afforded to date of Napoleon’s ignominious defeat through a combination of imperial overreach, a poor grasp of logistics and, most of all, resistance by an adversary who refused to be drawn into playing to Napoleon’s strength – the decisive, crushing battle in which the enemy could not retreat, and in which Napoleon would commit all the reserves and crush his enemy to dust.

So it is perfectly possible for an inquisitive mind with no military experience to put together an excellent reference on military happenings which already took place, even if the owner of that mind was not present for the actual event. Given human nature and the capabilities afforded by modern military equipment, it is even possible to forecast future military events with a fair degree of accuracy, going merely by political ambitions and enabling factors, without any personal military experience. After all, the decision-makers who give the orders that send their military forces into battle are often not military men themselves.

Returning for a moment to Mr. Galeotti, it is quite believable that an author with no military background could compose such works as “Armies of the Russian-Ukrainian War”, although there is no serious evidence that Russia is a part of such a conflict in any real military strength. You could write such a book entirely from media references and documentation, which in this case would come almost entirely from the side which claims it is under constant attack by the other – Ukraine. Likewise “Kulikovo 1380; the Battle that Made Russia”. None of us were around in 1380, so we all have to go by historical references, and whoever collects them all into a book first is likely to be regarded as an expert.

No, it’s more when we get into how stuff works that I have an issue with it. Like “Spetsnaz: Russia’s Special Forces“. Or “The Modern Russian Army“. I’m kind of skeptical about how someone could claim to know the actual internal workings of either organization simply from reading about them in popular references, considering that more than half the material on Russia written in English in western references is rubbish heavily influenced by politics and policy. We would not have to look very far to find examples in which ridiculous overconfidence by one side that it had the other side’s number resulted in a horrible surprise. In fact, we would not have to look very far to find an example of this particular author confidently averring to know something inside-out, only to find that version of reality could not be sustained. And I would no more turn to a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague for expert analysis of the “Combat Vehicles of Russia’s Special Forces” than I would ask a house painter to cut my hair. Unless I see some recollections of a college-age Galeotti tinkering with drivetrains and differentials until the sun went down from a pure love of mechanics, I am going to go ahead and assume that he knows what the vast majority of us knows about military vehicles – he could pick one out of a lineup which included a melon, a goat and an Armored Personnel Carrier, and if it had a flat tire he could probably fix it given time and the essential equipment.

Just before we move on, the future event: the MH-17 ‘trial’ has been postponed until June 8th, to give defense attorneys more time to prepare after the amazingly fortuitous capture of a ‘key witness’ in Eastern Ukraine. I’m not going to elaborate here on what a kicking-the-can-down-the-road crock this is; we’ll pick that up later. The whole MH-17 ‘investigation’ has been such a ridiculous exercise in funneling the pursuit to a single inescapable conclusion – that Russia shot it down –  irrespective of how many points have to be bent to fit the curve that no matter how it comes out, it will stand as perhaps the greatest example of absurd western self-justification ever recorded.

There are a couple of ways of solving a mystery crime. One is to collect evidence, and follow where it takes you. Another is to decide who you want to have been responsible, and then construct a sequence of events in which they might have done it. To do that, especially in this case, we will have to throw out a few assumptions, such as all that stuff about means, motive and opportunity. In the absence of a believable scenario, that is. Let’s look at what we have, and what we need, and see how we get from there to here.

First, we need for Ukraine not to have been responsible. That’s going to be awkward, because it looks as if the aircraft was shot down by a missile, but the missile had to have come from inside Ukraine, because the aircraft was too far from the nearest point in Russia at the moment it was stricken for the missile to have come from there. But we need Russia to have been responsible, and not Ukraine. Therefore we need a sequence of events in which a Russian missile launcher capable of shooting down an airliner at cruising altitude was inside Ukraine, in a position from which it could have taken the shot.

You know what? We are going to have to look at means, motive and opportunity, just for a second. My purpose in doing so is to illustrate just how improbable the western narrative is, starting from square one. The coup in Ukraine – and anyone who believes it was a ‘grass-roots revolution’ might as well stop reading right here, because we are going to just get further apart in our impressions of events – followed by the triumphant promise from the revolutionaries to repeal Yanukovych’s language laws and make Ukrainian the law of the land touched off the return of Crimea to its ancestral home in the Russian Federation. Crimea was about 65% ethnic Russian by population at the time, and only about 15% Ukrainian, and Crimea had made several attempts to break free of Ukraine before that…yet for some reason the west refused steadfastly to accept the results of a referendum which voted in favour of Crimea becoming a part of the Russian Federation, as if it were more believable that a huge ethnic-Russian majority preferred to learn Ukrainian and be governed by Kiev.

Be that as it may, Washington reacted very angrily; much more so than Europe, considering the distance between the United States and Ukraine versus its proximity to Europe. Perhaps that is owed simply to Washington’s assumption that every corner of the world looks to it for leadership, and that it must have a position ready on any given situation, regardless how distant. So Washington insisted there must be sanctions against Russia, for stealing Crimea from its rightful owner, Ukraine. We’re not really going to get into struggles for freedom and the right to self-determination right now, except to state that the USA considers nothing more important in some cases, while in others it is completely irrelevant. Washington demanded sanctions…but much of Europe was reluctant.

“It is notoriously difficult to secure EU agreement on sanctions anywhere because they require unanimity from the 28 member states. There were wide differences over the numbers of Russians and Crimeans to be punished, with countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Spain reluctant to penalise Moscow for fear of closing down channels of dialogue. The 21 named were on an original list that ran to about 120 people…Expanding the numbers on the sanctions list is almost certain to be discussed at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday. Some EU states are torn about taking punitive measures against Russia for fear of undoing years of patient attempts to establish closer ties with Moscow as well as increase trade. The EU has already suspended talks with Russia on an economic pact and a visa agreement…The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said any measure must leave “ways and possibilities open to prevent a further escalation that could lead to the division of Europe”.

The original list of those to be sanctioned was 120 people. The haggling reduced that to 21. Only 7 of those were Russians. Putin was not included. That was pretty plainly not the United Front That Speaks With One Voice that Washington had envisioned, and the notion that Europe would buy into sanctions that might really do some damage to Russia, albeit there would be economic costs to Europe as well, was a dim prospect.

Gosh – you know what we need? An atrocity which can be quickly tied to Russia, and which will so appall the EU member states that resistance to far-reaching sanctions will collapse. That’s called ‘motive’. It’s just not a motive for Russia. Having just gone far out on a limb and taken back Crimea, to the obvious and vocal fury of the United States, it is a bit of a stretch that Russia was looking for what else it could do that would stir up the world against it.

Means, now. That presents its own dilemma. Because Russia could have shot down an airliner from its own territory. Just not with the weapon chosen. The S-400 could have done it; it has the range, easily. But if you were setting up a scenario in which something happened that you wanted to blame on Russia, but they didn’t really do it, you must have the weapon to do it yourself, or access to it. By any reasonable construct, Ukraine must be a suspect as well – there was a hot war going on in Ukraine, Ukraine controlled both the airspace and the aircraft that was lost, and the aircraft was lost over Ukrainian territory. But Ukraine doesn’t have the S-400. You could use a variety of western systems, but it would quickly be established that the plane was shot down with a weapon that Russia does not have. In order for the narrative to be believable, Russia must have the weapon – but if it wasn’t Russia, then whoever did it must have the weapon, too.

Enter the Buk system, with the 9K37 SA-11 missile. It’s got the range, it’s got the altitude, the Russians have it in active service. Oooo…problem. It’s got the range, but only if it was fired from inside Ukraine.

Which brings us back to Mr. Galeotti, an expert in Russian combat systems; enough of an expert to write books on them, anyway. And he plainly believes it was an SA-11 missile fired from a single Buk TELAR (Transporter/Erector/Launcher and Radar) which brought down the Boeing; he says that’s what the evidence demonstrates, although by this time (2019) most of the world has backed away from saying Putin showed up with no shirt on to close the firing switch personally (cue the instant British-press screaming headlines before the dust had even settled, “PUTIN’S MISSILE!!!” “PUTIN KILLED MY SON!!!”). Now the story is that the disgraceful deed was done by ‘Ukrainian anti-government militants’, using a weapon supplied by Russia.

“In this context, a full reversal of policy seems near-enough impossible. The evidence suggests that while the fateful missile was fired by Ukrainian anti-government militants, it was supplied by the Russian 53rd Air Defense Brigade under orders from Moscow and in a process managed by Russian military intelligence.

To admit this would not only be to acknowledge a share in the unlawful killing of 298 innocents, but also an unpicking of the whole Kremlin narrative over the Donbass. It would mean admitting to having been an active participant in this bloody compound of civil war and foreign intervention, to having armed the militants without due thought as to the consequences, and to having lied to the world and the Russian people for half a decade.”

We don’t really have the scope in this piece to broaden the discussion to Russia’s probable actual involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine. Suffice it to say that despite non-stop allegations by Poroshenko throughout his presidency of entire battalions of active-service Russian Army soldiers inside Ukraine, zero evidence has ever been provided of any such presence, although there have been some clumsy attempts to fabricate it. To argue that the Russian Army has been trying to overrun Ukraine for six years now, but has been unable to do so because of the combat prowess of the Ukrainian Army is to imply a belief in leprechauns. This is only my own inexpert opinion, but it seems likely to me the complete extent of Russia’s involvement, militarily, is the minimum which prevents Eastern Ukraine from being overrun by the Ukrainian military, and including the rebel areas’ own far-from-inconsequential military forces. I’m always ready to entertain competing theories, though; be sure to bring your evidence. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Constitution prohibits using the country’s military forces against its own citizens. The logic of ‘Have cake, and eat it” cannot apply here – either the Ukrainian state is in direct and obvious violation of its own constitution…or the people of the breakaway regions are not Ukrainian citizens.

Anyway, back to the Buk system. And not a moment before time, either – I just re-read Don't rely on body language to spot a liar. Just ask them.that sanctimonious stab above, again; “…having armed the militants without due thought as to the consequences…” What, exactly, is the ridiculous nature of the accusation being presented here? That the Russians gave an anti-aircraft system to the ‘militants’ without considering they might use it to shoot down an aircraft? How did they not see that coming? The Ukrainian Army shot down a civilian airliner in October of 2001, and lied about it for as long as it could – interestingly, it took place during joint Ukrainian-Russian air defense exercises on the Crimean peninsula, and Russia tried hard to avoid assigning blame to Ukraine, while at least one Israeli television station claimed the Russians had shot down their own aircraft. This disaster and subsequent lying did not prevent the USA from giving the Javelin missile to Ukraine – did it not occur to them that they might use it to shoot tanks? No due thought to the consequences, obviously.

The Buk air-defense system normally consists of at least 4 TELAR launchers, each with 4 missiles on the launch rails, a self-propelled acquisition radar designated by NATO nomenclature as Snow Drift (the radar on the nose of the TELAR unit itself is designated Fire Dome), and a self-propelled command post, for a minimum of 6 vehicles. Also usually part of the system is a mobile crane, to reload the launchers.  If you were going to supply an air-defense system to militant rebels, why wouldn’t you give them the whole system? In a pinch, you might be able to get away without the command post vehicle, although it is the station that collates all the input from the sensors and makes the decision to assign targets for acquisition, tracking and engagement. If you didn’t give them the crane vehicle, and perhaps a logistics truck with some reloads, they would be limited to the missiles that came already mounted – once those were fired, they’d have to abandon the system, because they couldn’t reload it. Seems a little wasteful, don’t you think?

What about the acquisition radar? Because acquiring targets is all about scanning capability and situational awareness. We’re going to assume for a moment that you don’t use an air defense system exclusively to hunt for airliners, but that you want to defend yourself against ground-attack aircraft like the Sukhoi SU-25. Because, when you think about it, who is more likely to be trying to kill you? A Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, or an SU-25? The latter is not quite as fast as an airliner at its cruising height of 30,000 ft+, but it is very agile and will be nearly down in the treetops if it is attacking you. You need to be able to search all around, all the time.

That’s where the acquisition radar comes in. A centimetric waveband search radar, the Snow Drift (called the 9S18M1 by its designer) has 360-degree coverage and from 0 to 40 degrees of height in a 6-second sweep in anti-aircraft mode, with a 160 km detection range, obviously dependent on target altitude. An airliner, being a large target not attempting to evade detection, and at a high altitude, would quite possibly be detected at the maximum range of which the system is capable. But then the operators would certainly know it was an airliner. And the narrative says whoever shot it down probably did so by accident.

Maybe if it was his first day on the job. Let’s talk for a minute about air-defense deconfliction. It would be nice if your Command parked you somewhere that there was nothing around you but enemies. Well, not as nice as parking you across the street from a pulled-pork barbecue joint with strippers and cold beer, but from a defense standpoint, it’d be nice to know that anything you detected, you could shoot. Know something? It’s never like that. Your own aircraft are flying around as if they didn’t even know you are dangerous, and as everyone now knows, civilian airliners continue their transport enterprises irrespective of war except in rare instances in which high-flying aircraft have been shot down by long-range missiles. That rarely happens. Why? Because an aircraft flying a steady course, at 30,000 ft+ and not descending, is no threat to you on the ground. From that altitude it can’t even see you in the ground clutter, and it’d be quite a bombardier that could hit a target the size of a two-car garage with a bomb dropped from 30,000 ft while flying at 400 knots.

And unless you are an idiot, you know it is an airliner. When you are deployed into the field in an air-defense role, you know where the commercial airlanes are that are going to be active. You know what a commercial-aviation profile looks like – aircraft at 30,000 ft+ altitude, flying at ≥400 knots on a steady course, squawking Mode 3 and Charlie = airliner. Might as well take a moment here to talk about IFF; Identification Friend or Foe. This is a coded pulse signal transmitted by all commercial aircraft whenever they are in flight unless their equipment is non-functional, and you are not allowed to take off with it in that state. Mode C provides the aircraft’s altitude, taken automatically from its barometric altimeter. All modern air search radars have IFF capability, and a dashed line just below the raw video of the air track can be interrogated with a light-pen to provide the readout. You already know how high the plane is if you have a solid radar track, but Mode C provides a confirmation.

Military aircraft have IFF transponders, too; in fact, most of the modes are reserved for military use. But military aircraft often turn off their IFF equipment, because it provides a giveaway who and where they are. In Ukraine, which uses mostly Soviet military aircraft, both sides are capable of reading each other’s IFF, so all the more reason not to transmit. Foreign nations typically cannot read each other’s IFF except for the modes which are for both military and civilian use, other than those nations who are allies. Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that the Snow Drift acquisition radar has IFF, and if it detected an airliner-like target at 160 km., the operator would have that much more time to interrogate it and determine it was an airliner. Just to reiterate, the western narrative holds that the destruction of the airliner was a mistake.

I’m going a little further with my inexpert opinion, to say that the Buk system was selected as the ‘murder weapon’, because it provides a limited autonomous capability. To be clear, the Fire Dome radar on the nose of the TELAR does have a limited search capability, and once the radar is locked on to a target, the TELAR vehicle is completely autonomous. The purpose of the surveillance radar is to detect the target from far beyond the Fire Dome’s range, assign it to a TELAR and thereby direct it to the elevation and bearing of the target so that the TELAR’s radar knows exactly where to look, and continue to update its position until the TELAR to which it was assigned has locked on to the target.

That autonomous capability is probably what made it attractive to those building the scenario; consider. A complete Buk system of 6, maybe 7 vehicles could hardly get all the way inside Ukraine to the firing position without being noticed and perhaps recorded. But perhaps a single TELAR could do it. The aircraft could be shot down by an SA-11 missile and blamed on Russia – Ukraine has access to plenty of SA-11’s. But it is a weapon in the Russian active-service inventory. Further, Galeotti’s commitment to the allegation that the single TELAR was provided by Russia’s 53rd Air Defense Brigade tells us he supports the crackpot narrative offered by Bellingcat, the loopy citizen-journalist website headed by failed financial clerk Eliot Higgins. Bellingcat claims the Buk TELAR was trucked into Ukraine on the back of a flatbed, took the shot that slew MH-17, and was immediately withdrawn back to Russia.

Ummm….how was that an accident? The Russians gave the Ukrainian militants a single launcher with no crane or reload missiles, so it was limited to a maximum of four shots. Its ability to defend itself from ground attack was almost nil, since the design purpose of mounting a Fire Dome radar on each TELAR is not to make the launcher units autonomous; it is to permit concurrent engagements by several launchers, all coordinated by the acquisition radar and command post. Without a radar of its own on the launcher, the firing unit would have to wait until each engagement was completed before it could switch to a new target, but with a fire-control guidance radar on each TELAR, multiple targets can be assigned to multiple launchers, while the search radar limits itself to acquisition and target assignment.

The Fire Dome radar mounted on the TELAR can search a 120-degree sector in 4 seconds, at an elevation of 6 to 7 degrees. Its search function is maximized for defense against ground attack aircraft, and a single launcher is not looking at 240 degrees of potential air threat axis during each sweep. It is not looking high enough to see an airliner at 30,000 ft+. More importantly for a system which was not designed to shoot down helpless airliners, it leaves two-thirds of a circle unobserved all the time it is searching for a target. And the Russians provided this to the ‘militants’ for air defense? They should be shot.

A single TELAR with no reloads and no acquisition radar would have to be looking directly at the target when it was activated in order to even see it; it takes 15 seconds for the launcher to swing into line and elevation even when that information is transmitted to it from the acquisition radar. It takes 4 seconds for a scan to be completed when there is a whole two-thirds of a circle that it is not even looking at, and you have to manually force it to search above 7 degrees because it is not designed to shoot down airliners. All this time, the target is crossing the acquisition scope at 400 knots+. Fire Dome has integrated IFF, so if it did by some miracle pick up an airliner in its search, the operator would know from transmitted IFF that he was looking at an airliner. A single TELAR with no reload capability sent on an air-defense mission would have its ass ripped in half by ground-attack aircraft that it never saw – if the autonomous capability is so good, why don’t the Ukrainians use them as a single unit? Think of how much air-defense coverage they could provide! Do you see the Ukrainian air-defense units employing the Buk that way? Never. Not once. Four TELARS, acquisition radar vehicle, command vehicle, just the way the system was designed to operate.

Just because it has a limited capability to function in a given capacity should not suggest you would employ it that way. You can use a hockey stick to turn off the bedroom light, and you won’t even have to get out of bed. Would you do that? I hope not.

A one-third effective capacity in the air defense role together with the covert delivery and immediate withdrawal suggests that the Russians provided the ‘militants’ with a single TELAR for the express purpose of shooting down a defenseless airliner. Except nobody is saying that. It was a mistake. Well, except for Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who claimed “Terrorists and militants have planned a cynical terrorist attack on a civilian aircraft Aeroflot AFL-2074 Moscow-Larnaka that was flying at that time above the territory of Ukraine.” He further claimed that this was motivated by a desire to ‘justify an invasion’. I’m pretty sure if any western authority could prove anything even close to that, we would not have had to wait 6 years for a trial.

Which brings us to the covert delivery and extraction. As part of his personal investigation, Max van der Werff drove the route Bellingcat claimed was the extraction route by which the single TELAR, on its flatbed, was returned to Russia. He verified that there is a highway overpass on the route which is too low for a load that tall to pass underneath. When he pointed this out to Higgins, he was told there is a bypass spur which goes around it, which would allow the flatbed to regain the road beyond without having gone through the overpass. Max drew his attention to the concrete barriers which blocked that road at the top of the hill, and which locals claimed had been in place long before the destruction of MH-17. And that was the end of that conversation. I cannot say enough about the quality of Max’s work and his diligent, patient dissection of the evidence. His diagrams of the entry and egress routes as provided by Bellingcat illustrate how little sense they make. It was imperative the guilty Russians get the fuck out of Dodge with the greatest possible dispatch…so they drove 100 kilometers out of their way? Don’t even terrorist murderers have GPS now?

Similarly, the simpleminded flailing of the Ukrainian investigators suggests they do not even have much of a grasp of how Surface-To-Air missiles work. In excited posts like this one, the BBC discloses that an exhaust vent from the tail section of a ‘Buk missile’ (the missile is actually the SA-11, while Buk is the entire system) was found in the wreckage of the crashed plane, while this one even shows terminally-stunned head prosecutor Fred Westerbeke standing next to what is allegedly part of the rocket body of an SA-11, including legible inventory markings, also ‘found at the crash scene’.

Do tell.

Let me review for you how an SA-11 missile shoots down an aircraft. Does it pierce it like a harpoon, blow up in a thunderous explosion, and ride the doomed aircraft down to the crash site? It certainly does not. The missile blasts out of the launcher and flies to the target via semiactive homing, which means it has an onboard seeker that updates the missile trajectory, while the radar on the launcher also communicates with it and the missile and the target are brought together in intercept. When the proximity fuse of the missile – this is the important part – senses that the missile’s warhead is close to the target, the internal explosive detonates, and a shower of prefragmented shrapnel pierces the area of the plane near where the missile detonated, usually the front, because the missile is constantly adjusting to make sure it stays with the target until intercept.

MH-17 traveled on, mostly intact, for miles before it crashed into the ground; the crash site was some 13 miles from where the plane was hit. The missile self-destructed miles away from the crash site, and the only parts of it which accompanied the plane to its impact point were the shrapnel bits of the exploded warhead. The body of the missile, together with the exhaust vent, fell back to the ground somewhere quite close to where the plane was hit, not where it fell. Once the missile’s fuel is exhausted, either because it ran out or because it was consumed in the explosion triggered by the proximity fuse, the missile parts do not fly around in formation, seeking out the wreckage and coming gently to rest in it where they can later be found by investigators. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, because this is certainly not the first, but there would not be any missile parts in the wreckage of MH-17 because the missile would have blown up in front of the plane without ever touching it. The missile does not hit the plane. The pieces of the warhead do. But reality has to take a back seat to making out an airtight case.

There is no telling what kind of ordnance might be found in the wreckage itself, as the Ukrainian Army continued to shell the site for days after the crash; doubtless various artillery shells could be found at the crash site, as well, but it would be quite a leap of faith to suggest a Boeing 777 was shot down by artillery. What you would not find is pieces of the SAM that shot it down.

Several witnesses claimed to have seen an SU-25 near the plane before it exploded. They quite possibly did – the Ukrainian Air Force was observed to be using civilian airliners as cover to allow them to get close to Eastern-Ukrainian villages which might be protected by hand-held launchers known as MANPADS (for Man-Portable Air Defense System), reasoning the defenders would not shoot if they were afraid they might hit a civil aircraft. Once they were close enough to the village or other target to make an attack run, they would then return to the vicinity of the airliner for protection while withdrawing; the rebel side complained about this illegal and immoral practice a month before the destruction of MH-17. But there is no evidence I am aware of linking the destruction of MH-17 to an attack by aircraft.

It may no longer be possible to look at the shooting-down of the Malaysian Boeing objectively; the event has become a partisan rush to judgment which was rendered immediately, after which an investigation began which plainly had as its goal proving the accusations already made. Means and motive clearly favour the accusers rather than the accused, and opportunity is mostly irrelevant as a consideration. Ukraine obviously had to be a suspect – the destruction of the aircraft occurred over Ukraine while Ukraine was in control of it and the airspace in which it traveled. Yet Ukraine was allowed to lead the investigation, and to gather and safeguard evidence, while the owner of the aircraft – Malaysia – was excluded until the investigation had been in progress for four months. Russia was not allowed any part in it save to yield whatever evidence the investigators demanded, while all its theories were widely mocked. Demonstrations set up by Almaz-Antey, the designers and builders of the SA-11, were unattended by any investigating nation – small wonder they do not have Clue One how the missile works, and believe they are going to find big chunks of it in the wreckage, perhaps with Putin’s passport stuck to one of them. If any of these conditions prevailed in an investigation which favoured Russia, NATO would scream as if it were being run over with spiked wheels – if the Boeing had been shot down over Russia, who thinks Russia would have been heading the investigation, and custodian of the evidence?

Nor is that by any means all. The Dutch investigation which concluded with the preliminary report implied that nothing of any investigative value was found on the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) or the Flight Data Recorder (FDR). Nothing to indicate what might have happened to the aircraft – just that it was flying along, and suddenly it wasn’t. How likely is that? No transcript was provided, and I guess that would be expected if there was no information at all. Funny how often that happens with Malaysian airliners; they really need to look at their quality control. Oh; except they don’t build the aircraft. Boeing does. I could see there not being any information after the plane began to break up, because both the CVR and the FDR are in the tail, and that broke off before the fuselage hit. But the microphones are in the ceiling of the cockpit and in the microphone and earpiece of the pilots’ headsets, which they wear at all times while in flight. The last audio claimed to have been recorded was a course alteration sent by Ukrainian ATC.

According to the Malaysian government, there was an early plan by NATO for a military operation involving some 9000 troops to ‘secure the crash site’, which was forestalled by a covert Malaysian operation which recovered the ‘black boxes’ and blocked the plan. I have to say that given the many, many other unorthodox and bizarre happenings in the conduct of what was supposed to be a transparent and impartial international investigation, it’s getting so nothing much is unbelievable. The Malaysian Prime Minister went on record as believing that the western powers had already concluded that Russia was responsible, and were mostly just going through the motions of investigating.

The telephone recordings presented by the SBU as demonstrating Russian culpability were analyzed by OG IT Forensic Services, a Malaysian firm specializing in forensic analysis of audio, video and digital materials for court proceedings, which concluded the recordings were cut, edited and fabricated. Yet they are relied upon as important evidence of guilt by the Dutch and the JIT.

The conduct of the investigation has been all the way across town from transparent, and in fact seems to represent a clique of cronies getting their heads together to attempt nailing down a consistent narrative, which is in the judgment of forensic professionals based upon clumsy fabrications. The investigators plainly have no understanding of how the weapons systems involved perform, or they would not claim confidently to have discovered pieces of the very missile that destroyed the plane in the wreckage of it. But rather than take an objective look at how this flailing is perceived, they continue to rely on momentum and the appearance of getting things done while being scrupulously impartial, all the while that more mountains of evidence are collected, which they cannot disclose to the public, although it is all right to let the prime suspect keep it safe under wraps.

Make of that what you will.

Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic.

-Harry G. Frankfurt








616 thoughts on “Trial by Blockhead

  1. Likewise “Kulikovo 1830; the Battle that Made Russia”. None of us were around in 1830, so we all have to go by historical references, and whoever collects them all into a book first is likely to be regarded as an expert.

    And even more unlikely that anyone of us alive now, was alive in <b1380 either, which was the year when the battle of Kulikovo was fought!


  2. Duel of the Champs — Kulikovo, 1380
    left: Alexander Peresvet, a Russian Orthodox monk, in single combat against the Tatar champ Temir-murza, known in most Russian sources as Chelubey, at the opening of the Battle of Kulikovo (8 September 1380).

    It was a technical draw: the two men killed each other.

    After which duel, the shit seems to have hit the fan:

    Interestingly, nobody seemed to know exactly where Kulikovo was fought, until some 19th century historian claimed to have located the site. I have been there. It is a 3 hour drive, 276 kms (170 miles) ESE from Moskva, in the Tula province and a railway station there is called “Kulikovo Field”.

    I have my doubts, though.

    According to contemporary accounts, Russian soldiers were buried on site after the battle, yet so far no burial places have been found on “Kulikovo Field’, which fact still puzzles scholars, as some estimate that the battle claimed up to 200,000 lives on both sides.

    No puzzle there for me: “Kulikova Field” is not Kulikovo Field!


  3. Just checked that Moscow Times link and from what I read, the article says that Leonid Kharchenko, one of the four “suspected participants” in the shoot-down of MH17, was detained by Donetsk People’s Republic on unrelated charges back in March this year in what appears to be an attempt to shield Kharchenko from being kidnapped by Ukrainian infiltrators ahead of the MH17 trial in Amsterdam.

    Given that this is The Moscow Times quoting BBC Russia as a source, the reality may be that Kharchenko may have sought protection from being kidnapped after another suspect was kidnapped by the Ukrainians last year and keeping him in a detention centre or some sort of safe house with very little contact with the outside world is the best the DPR authorities can do at this current time.


    1. That’s quite possible, although the previous kidnapee was handed over to Russia in a prisoner exchange, allegedly at ‘Moscow’s insistence’, and was the subject of much snarling and wailing from the Ukie nationalists. I’m pretty confident that if they really thought – and more importantly, really thought they could prove – that he actually had something to do with shooting down MH-17, they would saw off their own feet before they would let him out of their sight. This way, they get to howl that they were outmaneuvered by The Kremlin, and nobody would help them, and so a killer walked free, how dramatic.

      They may as well get on with this absurd ‘trial’, because everyone knows how it will come out. “Guilty as charged, and may God have mercy on your soul”, a big press barrage, lots of photo ops. Russia is certainly not going to hand over the ‘guilty’, and every anniversary year there will be a little moan in the papers about how Russia cannot move forward until it admits its guilt and pays compensation. I’m sure you noticed the latter quarter of his article consisted of what he apparently thought was an out for Russia, whereby it could quietly pay compensation without actually admitting anything, which would immediately and loudly be pounced upon as, guess what, an admission of guilt.

      It is actually quite startling how ready the west is to accept doctored ‘evidence’, only pretending to have been fooled and mustering up high dudgeon about the sanctity of the judicial process when independent voices yell that they have spotted a fake. It certainly does not take a genius, for example – and that’s fortunate, because we’re talking about James Inhofe, who is probably listed in Roget’s as both an antonym for ‘genius’ and a synonym for ‘moron’) – to figure out that Ukraine would very much like a US-led military intervention in Ukraine which would restore the east and Crimea to its control. It is therefore very likely to use every stratagem at its disposal to try and persuade the USA in that direction, or at least to gib moneys toward such an eventual restoration. Therefore all evidence which came straight from Ukraine should be viewed with the greatest skepticism, and kts provenance checked and rechecked before it is presented at the Senate level. The very association of Professor Phillip Karber, the known regime-change hack and general dogsbody to the social engineers, should be an immediate red flag.

      It took various readers only hours to demonstrate that many of the photos were taken elsewhere and years before the events with which they were linked by the ‘Ukrainian delegation’, which also included Semen Semenchenko, the Commander of the Donbass Battalion of former hooligans given a license to kill people. Inhofe and his staff plainly did not perform any kind of investigation at all, simply taking the Ukrainians at their word despite their obvious agenda.

      And this is the same. The Dutch and the JIT resolutely refuse to even look at any evidence which might be exculpatory for Russia, instead mocking it as an obvious effort by the killers to distract attention from their crime even as they pat Ukraine on the head for doing such a sterling job of assembling the ‘real’ evidence.

      Even after the photos discussed above were exposed as fakes and Inhofe had spat a little bit about being set up, his office continued to maintain that ‘gruesome’ photos of charred bodies were evidence of Ukrainian soldiers killed by Russian thermobaric weapons. You can’t tell from a picture of a burned body if its owner was even killed by the heat that destroyed the body, never mind what its source was – I defy anyone to shuffle through a pack of photos of people killed by thermobaric weapons and people who died in house fires, and tell me which is which. You could tell if you examined the actual body, but not from examining a picture of it. The Ukrainians basically just told Inhofe whatever they wanted, and he believed it, or pretended to, because he’s an idiot.


    1. Just take a look at the progressive schooling of ‘diplomats’ who end up in American ambassadorial and consular posts. Where do they come from? The Heritage Institute, Legatum, the American Enterprise Institute, and various other America-Triumphant think tanks. Look at Michael McFaul, and his absurd just-a-ole-homeboy-who-loves-Russia video he put out before taking up his official duties in Moscow. And he barely had the dust of New York off his shoes before he was huddling with the Russian opposition. I don’t know why Russia even affects to be surprised by their attitudes.


  4. Incidentally not long after China slapped anti-dumping tariffs on Australian barley (and switched to buying barley from the US) and suspended beef imports from four Australian abattoirs, Australia’s foreign minister Maryse Payne phoned her Russian counterpart apparently to request that Russia send more tourists to Australia and buy more Australian products. Imagine Sergei Lavrov’s initial reaction before he went straight into his diplomatic persona. As John Helmer bluntly puts it:

    “… Lavrov replied that Australia should stop fabricating evidence of Russian involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and withdraw from the Dutch show trial which is scheduled to resume hearings in Amsterdam next month …”

    Another source is rather more circumspect:

    “… Russian Foreign Minister [Lavrov] informed [Payne] that Russia will disseminate in the UN a comprehensive document with the facts revealing the serious problems in the operation of the Netherlands-established Joint Investigative Team (JIT).

    Mr Sergey Lavrov criticised the JIT and said their activities fail to conform to the high standards set by UN Security Council Resolution 2166.

    “Russian experts are ready to hold consultations with their Australian and Netherlands colleagues to clear up answers to the numerous questions put during their cooperation with the JIT”, he maintained …”

    Looks like Australia is now between a rock and a hard place. Payne must be really thick to think that she could play Russia off China.


    1. Nobody seems to catch on that it’s always Washington, manipulating and meddling and getting its poodles to yap for it, and it is the poodles who bear the consequences, while nothing much accrues to the manipulator. It will be the same with the Huawei affair, mentioned elsewhere here; it is looking more like Washington will get its way and all its allies will cave and reject all Huawei gear, whereupon they will all end up with a less-capable and more-expensive 5G network which meets with American approval, and the allies will pay the cost in trade reprisals by China.


  5. And on and on it goes:

    Russian embassy urges Bloomberg to apologize for disinformation about Putin’s ratings
    “They probably hope that their audience will not check the source and find a real level of trust 67.9%,” the embassy said

    And mind you folks dont forget now — Russians are almost genetically driven liars!

    On May 28 2017, during an NBC interview, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that such interference tied in with “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique”.

    Clapper is, by the way, a proven perjurer, he having claimed claimed, during a congressional testimony in March 2013, that NSA does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans.

    The revelations from Edward Snowden’s leaks disproved that claim and revealed that NSA was illegally spying on millions of Americans as part of a mass surveillance programme.

    As Russophobic wags like to say:

    — How can you tell a Russian is lying?

    — His lips move!


    1. I read a good one the other day that is quite versatile; you can use it for almost anyone.

      What’s the difference between a Director of National Intelligence and a sperm cell?

      A sperm cell has a one-in-a-million chance of becoming a human being.


    1. The USA has intelligence to share? I’m dubious. I’d be interested to see, in future, a policy whereby if the only intelligence the USA has to support a particular allegation as a fact is something it cannot show to anyone because the security classification is too high, that it be presumed to not exist. In such cases, the USA is perfectly free to find other reasons to sever ties with this country or that entity, supposing it meets with the approval of the electorate. But the US government has gone to the ‘mountains of evidence’ well too often, and if it cannot exhibit this evidence or if it does so and a responsible and professional forensics audit finds it compromised, it must suffer the consequences. No more convictions on secret evidence which uniformly turns out to be moonshine or bullshit.


  6. It’s like watching a bunch of clever people walking though a field full of cow sh/t. They’re all convinced that they can get from one end to the other with clean shoes (they don’t need boots). They never learn, but I guess it is part of the role to be the Empire’s experts to pop up when necessary to smooth over the narrative and keep the right one in the public mind.

    While I’m here, I’ll just repeat a load of stuff that I/we have previously posted for reader’s convenience:

    I read that one expert describe the BUK TELAR as the radar equivalent of looking though a straw. I think that’s something everyone can grasp as a simplifed military thing.

    As for exfiltrating the BUK TELAR, driving it in to a shed and deconstructing it in to single pieces would be the most obvious thing to do.

    Oh, and the US saw it, but then they didn’t, even though that had a fairly new Space Based Infra Red Satellite (SBIRS) designed to detect ICBM (and other) launches overhead, not to mention a whole host of other civilian satellites with infra-red capability and a NATO AWACS over the Black Sea. No-one saw nothing! Oh, do f/k off.

    I’ll leave with this piece vis-a-vis the Crimea and its antecedents in law. For me, it clearly points out that it woz the frogz wot upended international secession law because the West ‘Won’ the Cold War and then preceded to do what the f/k it wanted (aka Law of the Jungle) but dressed this pony up in a tutu with glitter and clown makeup cleverly covering it up by simply placing more emphasis on the bit they like and less on the bits they don’t like to get the conclusion that they wanted. F/kers. Also 1991 was one thing, but they really went full retard in 1999/2008, the rubicon had been well and truly crossed without any shadow of a doubt and here we are today, numerous bite marks marks in their and their allies asses.

    How the Badinter Commission on Yugoslavia laid the roots for Crimea’s secession from Ukraine

    The Russian annexation of Crimea, together with the on-going war in eastern Ukraine, have raised fundamental questions concerning the right of a territory to secede from a larger state. Cornelia Navari writes on the influence of the Badinter Commission, which was set up to provide legal advice during the breakup of Yugoslavia. She argues that while the secession of Crimea from Ukraine remains deeply controversial, it largely followed the ‘template’ set by Badinter.

    The rest at the link.


      1. They can, certainly, but a very great deal relies on a majority believing that the presentation shows what the interpreters claim it shows. There’s an example in one of those references I cited about the dodgy photos provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee, overseen by room-temperature-IQ dolt James Inhofe. It’s a satellite shot provided by Geoffrey Pyatt – using that versatile government-approved Secure Communications System, Twitter – which he claims shows Russian armor or artillery pieces in Donbas, in some town. And there’s the rub – it probably is the town he names (I think it was Debaltseve), but you would have to see a high-definition close-up and maybe some regimental insignia or distinctive antennas to determine if the equipment belonged to this nation or that, while what is displayed looks like cigarette butts in your driveway as viewed from your rooftop. But if they’ve got the town right, quite a few people will assume the provenance of the equipment must be right, too. Obviously there is a high degree of commonality between the military equipment of former Soviet republics, and discerning the nationality or operator of two T-72 tanks is not as simple as “Oh, yeah – that one is rectangular and this one is square”.

        You can probably zoom this in somewhat, and I am not disputing it is the AKADEMIK CHERSKIY; it probably is. But that ship is nearly 500 feet long at the waterline, with a beam of 128 feet. It’s bigger than most of the buildings in the town. And in this photo, it looks like a toenail clipping on a blue-green rug. It could be the AKADEMIK CHERSKIY, and it could be a photoshop of USS IOWA. Or James Inhofe doing the deadman’s float, magnified 80 times. The point is that we often tend to believe satellite photography shows what its presenters say it shows because we do not have the skill to interpret it ourselves. Kind of the same way a good salesman sells a used car to someone with no talent or ability for auto mechanics.

        Which is not a bad example, really, because if you were that potential car buyer, you would be as likely as not to take the car on a provisional basis, and take it to a mechanic you trust for him to give it a once-over. The trouble with translating that approach to the other situation is that nearly all those capable of interpreting satellite photography in the United States work for the government, and those that do not typically have no military-equipment analysis skills. They could tell you that whatever is in the picture is either a tank or a fuel truck, but you could probably do that yourself. Remember Geoffrey Pyatt fowarding satellite photos of holes in the ground which he said proved that Russia was shelling Ukraine from inside Russia with MLRS?

        He also claimed satellite photography showed an armored column entering Ukraine from Russia, crossing Ukrainian fields. The ‘column’ turned out to be tractors or self-propelled farm equipment working a field in formation – perhaps satellite-guided, as has been common for years to achieve greater tilling efficiency. Morgan-Stanley was investing in such equipment for Ukrainian farming in 2007.

        Then again, they might have been tanks. Once.


        1. “… The point is that we often tend to believe satellite photography shows what its presenters say it shows because we do not have the skill to interpret it ourselves …”

          This was Bellingcrap’s bread-and-butter function, to use satellite photos and make them say whatever Bellingcrap had been tasked to say they were, relying on the fact that mainstream media organisations rarely employ people expert in interpreting satellite imagery, before people outside the MSM environment started voicing suspicions about how the “evidence” for the official MH17 narrative was being worked and whipped into shape to fit that narrative.

          It’s my understanding that there is a company in Colorado, called Digital something or other, that supplies a huge amount of satellite imagery to the US government and other big clients.

          Aha, just found the company: Digital Globe.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, indeed. The US also buys up all sensitive satellite product in the run up and during its wars, and other areas of interest.

            I remember a typical piece of Russian snark when they published a picture of the famous American ‘LaCrosse’ spy satellite. The US was not pleased. What we can assume is that there is a gentleman’s agreement not to give the media photos/videos of each others stuff considered sensitive.



    1. They’ll be sorry. They’ll probably end up with either Nokia or Ericsson, neither of which will be as good and both of which will cost far more. But it’s all about teaching somebody a lesson. And it will. Probably not as originally envisioned, though. But you can’t tell people it will all end in tears. They never believe you until they’re crying. And then it’s too late.


      1. End of 2023! I don’t see China taking this lying down. Pulling out of a UK NPP projects could be an option. But it would also make the US happy.



          Despite the continuing tongue baths of allies, the USA is increasingly alone in its attempts to bludgeon a Chinese company into insolvency using economics as a weapon. It is plainly a vindictive vendetta, since stopping Huawei from providing a 5-G network in the USA is a done deal – never happen – and the USA has no right to attempt strangling the company so nobody else can do business with it, either. America constantly blabbers about a ‘level playing field’ and ‘fair competition’, but it is pretty clear to anyone who chooses to look that what it really likes, politically, is a playing field that is acutely tilted in its favour, monopolies and allies who are essentially consumer markets for its products. Nothing strange there, everyone is more or less like that, but only the USA pretends to knees-together-girls virtue. And much of its support, it is important to note, in its battle to the death with Huawei is political. I don’t know how much help BoJo is going to be if British industry objects to his faithful-dog act.

          And it’s not just allies. Entire supply chains are re-orienting to avoid falling into the US-proprietary-technology pit. Which is grossly inefficient, because it sets up competition where cooperation would keep industries smaller, more productive and advance technology faster; in the system which is developing it is tempting to keep technology more or less at the same level it is now and fight it out in the trenches of pricing, and new advances are less compelling because they will be prohibitively expensive and not usable over a wide range of systems.

          “Huawei has said its survival is at stake. Markets are more sanguine. The price of its bonds, which are traded in Hong Kong, barely dipped. It has spent the past year beefing up its large cash buffers and inventories. Now a hunt will begin for a new way to sidestep the rules. China’s long-term project to build up its own chip industry, of which Huawei is a vital part, will be seen as more important than ever. On May 15th SMIC, which is China’s biggest chipmaker, said it had raised $2bn from state investors and planned to increase its capacity in China six-fold…The tech war is guaranteed to make the chip industry less efficient. The big question is whether using technological clout ends up undermining the very American dominance that gives rise to it. No one knows how vital American chipmaking technology really is, because until now there has been no reason to find out. Many governments are wary of China’s power. But they may chafe at American policies that tell their firms who they are allowed to do business with. They may even conclude that wriggling out from under such restrictions by shunning American suppliers is worth a try.”

          Unless some of the technology really is something only Americans can make, I am skeptical about the USA’s chances of success. China has a massive pool of cheap, well-educated and talented labour, and it has been making very capable electronics for a long time. Corporate espionage is notoriously difficult to block entirely, and everything the USA is trying to preserve is something made; American chips and, equally important, American chipsetting tools. China has not only lots of highly-skilled electronics technologists and programmers, but lots of money to put into R&D. Other countries are quite capable of purchasing American chipsetting machines – which America very much wants to sell – and then ‘losing’ some of the technology to the Chinese. I am sure the country in question would have to sign a third-party transfer agreement, but the Chinese don’t have to have the actual machine to figure out how it works, and significant discoveries and advances would result even from the 7000-monkeys-typing-on-7000-typewriters approach. Once something has been created by the hand of man, there are only so many ways it could have been done.

          Overall, though, it’s bad for business. I predict the first to feel the wrath of China will be Apple. But decoupling is a bad omen all around, because it means consumers are going to be aggressively lobbied for their loyalty. That will come with some sweetheart deals, of course, but the device you end up with is most unlikely to be compatible worldwide, and a time will come when a Huawei phone will not even work in the USA. And quite possibly an iPhone will not work in China.


  7. Thanks for a clear and convincing explanation of the technical factors and highlighting the ludicrous evidence of the prosecution. Is there a court-appointed public defender to represent Russia? Not that it matters, the verdict was determined before the plane was shot down.


  8. Stepping back in to the Coronavirus debate again for a moment, I’m reposting this article I saw in a comment at MOA. It’s by Craig Murray, you all know him, and I really like his work. But this piece is more about an angle I completely missed, and I bet you did, too.

    The UK press shamelessly regurgitated almost word-for-word another ‘Russian hackers’ story which the UK government slipped to the state-owned BBC. It claimed the Russians, Iranians and Chinese (might as well get all the enemies in the same sack, keep the public memory sharp on who to hate) are trying to hack into British and American research facilities to steal Coronavirus research.

    I know, bla bla, hackers, reprehensible, disgusting, heard it all before. But I completely missed the real story, although it didn’t get past Murray – NONE OF THAT STUFF SHOULD BE SECRET. It’s supposed to be a global fucking pandemic, with people dying that probably would not need to if world researchers pooled their talents.

    But not the USA and UK. Their biomed companies know that whoever is first with a working vaccine and a patent on the technology can write their own ticket for life. ‘Experts’ keep telling us the coronavirus is not going away soon, and might just, you know, hang around forever. When it’s having a hard time achieving widespread infection, it’ll just mutate; change a DNA fragment here, a gene there… Governments will use taxpayer money to stockpile vaccine doses. There’s a hell of a lot of money potential in coronavirus. I think we all knew that; we’ve discussed it often enough. But I completely missed that nobody should have to hack in to coronavirus research – a discovery should be shared as soon as it’s made. But not if the discoverer is in a race with all other would-be discoverers for a different-colour Lamborghini for each day of the week.

    Get ’em, Mr. Murray!


    1. He sure is … here’s a recent one by Mr Murray on why Dominic Cummings may have been at Barnard Castle back on 12 April 2020, even when he was not supposed to be travelling outside his home during lockdown.

      Why Barnard Castle

      As Murray notes, GlaxoSmithKline has a large manufacturing and research facility at its Barnard Castle branch and that two days after Cummings was spotted in the town, GSK and French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis signed an agreement to develop and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine.


    2. There was a story that broke last week concerning the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, a firm where I used to work, which is is striving to develop a vaccine for this virus that’s threatening the whole of civilization yet, at the same time, will make some folk extremely rich

      Apparently, Sanofi is on target as regards it’s vaccine development programme, and before you could say “billions of dollars”, USA investors, banks, government or whatever have demanded first grabs for the wonder drug as they had pumped money into Sanofi.

      So when the boss of the Frog firm, who doesn’t have a Froggie name, but he might be a Frog, announced that the USA would be getting the drug first, the shit hit the fan in la belle France.

      I was watching the story develop when I was out in the sticks last week. French folk young and old and of various age groups were being interviewed on Euronews (a French news outfit, but I have to watch it with a Russian voice-over) and the general consensus of opinion was “Fuck ze americaines! Sanofi is a French firm so it’s les Frogs first!”



    3. It’s good copy. Just like that piece I posted a week or so ago where Le Monde claimed China used the refurbishment of the Maltese embassy to spy on the u-Ropean Commission. Apparently the Belgian intelligence services did look in to it but did not find a shred of evidence to support such a claim. That bit was hidden or just not reported except for ‘weak’ Maltese denials because we are told that they are in China’s pocket due to weak finances. Win-win-win = BS.


      1. Yes, it’s all about making accusations now. That’s what gets remembered, and the USA usually includes the pro-forma ‘high confidence’ or ‘irrefutable evidence’ add-ons, although I don’t think very many readers even bother to check any more. The world has become so polarized that claims made by the USA are either taken as gospel or rejected as bullshit on the spot. Ditto the European political system – anything that comes out of Brussels is assumed to be de facto American.


  9. “But there is no evidence I am aware of linking the destruction of MH-17 to an attack by aircraft”

    My position is that the Russian position is one of leaving ‘a graceful exit’ door open to the West. Therefor they have allowed for a Buk scenario despite knowing better. The SU25 offers no such escape, it was an intentional mass murder. Much better to allow a repair of relations in the geopolitical equation, allowing it was military incompetence on the Kiev side. That how realpolitik works (sometimes.)

    This cockpit wreckage photo indicates horizontal aircraft cannon fire according to some experts is my recollection:

    Click to access Cockpit-MH017.pdf

    Billy Six also has eyewitness testimony indicating fighter jet attack on MH17 is also my recollection. Found something!

    “From November 2014 till February 2015 I´ve spoken with witnesses on-site. But I didn´t meet anyone who said he had seen a BUK launch – but many of them saw one or two fighter jets. Many witnesses also spoke about two or three explosions in the sky. As colonel Bernd Biedermann, former missile military of East German army … one of few who is ready to appear in public … explained to me in several personal meetings there must have been an explosion hearable in a radius of ten km´s if BUK has been used … and a vapour trail visible for eight to ten minutes. The area is well populated. But nobody who I met has seen it. Visiting the crash side it was eye-opening to me to see that the plane had been divided into two pieces – the cockpit which crashed in Rossypnaya and the rest which has sailed down near Hrabowe. Yes, some pieces besides due to explosion … and others falling outside, finally it was an “open can”. My point is: A limited area was targeted, strong mechanical destruction followed, but only around cockpit. Due to Biedermann the picture of BUK hit is different: Some thousands of perforated splinters would have been distributed between 15 and 45 metres ahead of the target, spreading the similar pieces in normal distribution all over the plane – normally from above, arriving from one direction. Cause for the crash would have been inflammation due to high kinetic energy, but the fire just started on the ground, confirmed by video and witnesses”

    ^ @

    My own analysis arrived at the conclusion (by 1 August 2014) it was an SU25 brought the civilian liner down and I haven’t seen convincing evidence to the contrary since (lot’s of appended links over these past six years.)

    Here’s a ‘suicide’ the Russians aren’t particularly keen on pursuing (no links to the story) though they note it:

    “Voloshin’s name came to be associated with independent investigations into the destruction of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. In late 2014, a Ukrainian army aircraft mechanic told Russian media that the passenger airliner may have been downed by a Su-25 close air support aircraft flown by Voloshin. The Ukrainian side confirmed that the pilot was in the military at the time, but denied that he flew on the day the Malaysian airliner was brought down.

    “Speaking to Sputnik about Voloshin’s suspected suicide, Ukrainian politics expert Bogdan Bezpalko said that Kiev’s version aside, “one cannot help but think that the other side may have eliminated him as a dangerous witness who could have lifted the veil of secrecy over the downing of MH17, which would subsequently strengthen Russia’s position.” According to the political scientist, “it’s quite obvious that it was not in Russia’s interest to shoot down this plane, and that all this was a provocation directed against our country.””

    ^ @

    A general information site with tons of links:


      1. Yes, I’ll be interested to re-read that as well. But I think it is a stretch to imagine the Ukrainians would shoot down the aircraft with an SU-25 – which absolutely could not have been a mistake, the attack would have been line-of-sight and the pilot could clearly see what he was firing at – and then try to blame the destruction on a completely different weapon. It does look suspicious that nobody but western agencies were allowed to even examine the wreckage, but that would be the kind of deception which would be probably impossible to maintain. Everyone who was part of it in any way would have to be in on it. And that seems a bit more cold-blooded than I can imagine.

        But the single-TELAR story is equally foolish.


          1. I should add here, the (later identified as an on location Ukrainian aircraft mechanic servicing combat jets) gentleman who identified Volushin as the SU25 pilot (in the Russian language tv interview) hasn’t a complete picture of the (cynical) deniability built into false-flag intel operations and when he quotes the pilot stating “wrong plane” it indicates the pilot himself is likely (almost certainly) had been misinformed concerning his target. There has been a perfectly reasonable speculation that the pilot believed he was going after Putin’s plane that had been in the air (Northern Europe) at the same time as MH 17 was leaving Dutch airspace.


          2. But the western intelligence agencies did not blow up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie. That was an actual terrorist bombing; the western intelligence agencies merely took advantage of the disaster to plant evidence which would implicate Gaddafi.


            1. Well, you can believe that but there is a better (and much suppressed) thread of evidence that points to MI6 x NIS (South Africa) with CIA & FBI providing cover (the implicating Gaddafi was just one layer of fallback/deniability.) But even Craig Murray sucked the ‘terrorist organization’ scenario up because of the technique called “eyewash” where false stories are planted and circulated within the agencies themselves to derail leakers (like Murray) when a narrative is possibly about to fall apart. Such is the world of spies. I’m on pressing project just now but I’ll dig that stuff up for you after a while (if you like, includes a South African judge pointing the finger squarely at the intel agencies taking the UN High Commissioner for Nambia out.)


                1. “Thanks very much for your expertise and research!”

                  Well, you’re welcome. Funny thing is, I’d never have taken the route in life that landed me here if it weren’t for the f’d up circumstance based on my military test scores landing me in a short-handed special forces detachment assigned as an E-5 (basic sergeant) to an E-7 (sergeant 1st class) intelligence slot; mentored by special forces veterans of CIA liaised operations. After a year in the job, I knew I wanted nothing to do with it and bailed out at first opportunity… but the experience sticks to you like gum on your shoe with a dog-doo aroma. I never saw our small world through the same eyes again.

                  In any case, I much appreciate your own work and thanks for that (and the open mind.)


              1. An alternative theory (which ties together a number of conspiracy theories) is that the CIA had been running a drug-smuggling ring in the Middle East which had been busted by the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). Two DIA agents were booked on the Pan Am flight with a suitcase containing evidence. The CIA discovered this. How to get rid of these guys?

                One of the people in the Middle East gang (based in either Lebanon or Syria) partnering with the CIA used his connections (which apparently included a relative of the then Syrian President Hafez al Assad) to swap the case containing the DIA’s evidence with a case containing a bomb (or managed to put a bomb into the DIA’s suitcase). There was some Iranian involvement as well – at the time, the gang knew that the Iranian govt was seeking revenge against the US for the shoot-down of an Iran Air passenger flight by the USS Vincennes in the Persian Gulf earlier in the year.

                Of course this theory doesn’t exclude other possible theories as to what the various Western intel agencies might have set out to do. If there is the possibility of killing more than two birds with the one stone, and several inconvenient people could be put out of the way all at once, the temptation to seize that opportunity would be too strong to resist.


                1. It certainly is possible a deep state aligned intelligence cell would arrange the DEA agents to catch a flight scheduled to be blown up, so within the realm of possible. But my 1st guess would be it was just the agents bad luck; anyone assigned to Afghanistan would have been vetted (corrupt) prior to taking on their duties in that theater. Likely they were ‘chaff’ (expendable) or possibly scheduling them was another opportunity to plant a false trail to nowhere (for the conspiracy theorists.)

                  The Namibia yellow-cake trail cannot be ignored, Haseldine was a career diplomat with extensive familiarity of how operations are carried out, and the baggage transfer (how the bomb was placed in London) expose appears to be quite sound; that, taken with the South African judge’s expose of Pik Botha’s ‘scheduling’ issues (and big mouth that screwed his alibi) is far stronger than any story put forward by our Western ‘democratic’ (human rights and all that claptrap) players (my view.)

                  Interesting aside, Iran had a stake in the Namibia uranium mines at issue:


                  Funny how the West has a history of doing business with the Ayatollahs (e.g. Iran-Contra) when their interests align ; )


                2. Gosh – like a thriller, innit? I remember from that piece in The Scotsman, I think it was, deathbed confession from a former Police Chief from some village around Lockerbie, who claimed that the FBI had planted a tiny corner of a shattered circuit board somewhere far away from the actual crash but within the plume of debris as it came down, and then either ‘found’ it themselves, or (more likely) steered someone onto it so they would find it, and it turned out to be a piece of a quite distinctive electronic component, used as a trigger for a bomb, which pointed straight at Libya. He claimed the FBI knew it was the Syrians wot dunnit, but was more interested in getting a piece of Gaddafi.

                  I think it’s still fairly easy for intelligence agencies to dismiss any results of real deep trawling as ‘conspiracy theories’, and their reporters as mostly-harmless nutbags, to be more pitied than scorned. But the last five years have seen some major setbacks for the American intelligence agencies, mostly because of efforts to support regime-change initiatives in national politics, in which the intelligence agencies have confidently claimed to have tons of evidence, but have been asked to produce it, and the whole thing has fallen apart. There has been a concurrent drop in popular estimation of how clever the people in the upper echelons of the intelligence agencies actually are, and a proportional ebb in respect. I don’t think it would be impossible to convince a fairly significant demographic that the United States quickly took advantage of a disastrous accident to finger one of its enemies and spark global action against them because of it, because I think quite a lot of people are halfway there already, owing to the blinding incompetence of the JIT investigation. Not to mention the overt favouritism of the Ukrainians in spite of them being a suspect. But if it ever came out that the attack on the airliner was deliberate and calculated, planned from without and executed by the Ukrainian state in compliance with that plan…well, I don’t like to think what might happen. There definitely is a limit to what people will put up with when you make them see it.


                3. And then there was the Israeli security firm that did not find the bomb before the plane left London…

                  The Israeli security firm was staffed by “ex”-Mossad people.

                  Who had access to the airplane, opportunity to plant a bomb, and motive?


            2. Just to keep all plausible theories on the table, the Lockerbie crash may have been a structural failure. The 747 has a history of failures around a forward bulkhead which was apparent in the Lockerbie crash in which the forward part of the plane entirely separated from the remainder of the plane.

              Here is the Lockerbie crash site showing the separated forward section in which said separation happened at high altitude.

              And here is a 747 that survived a similar structural failure


              If the 747 had fully broken up, its crash would have, more likely than not, been classified as a terrorist attack.

              I can not find the reference but I recall reading about an urgent directive that was issued to perform inspections and repairs as needed in the suspect area.

              It would be unacceptable to ground the 747 for both economic and prestige reasons.


              1. Here is the results of structural failure of the United flight:

                If the damage had propagated further, the failure would have had a close resemblance to the Lockerbie crash in that the forward section sheared off from the main fuselage.


                1. Likely business class with their champagne glasses, silverware, gourmet food, reclining seats and nice flight attendants (not to minimize the tragic loss of life). Like I said, if that failure had propagated further, it would have resulted in a mid-air breakup, total loss of life and wreckage similar to that of Lockerbie. I wonder which group the US government would have blamed.


    1. I remember reading somewhere about autopsies in australia and that they xpected to find metal fragments from the Buk in the corpses or evidence that people had been hit. (They also had x-rays of the rest of the victims) They found nothing.


      1. Well, not exactly. They have an explanation for not being able to prove anything from the autopsy, as well – the separatists performed a ‘pre-autopsy’, and removed all the distinctively-Russian shrapnel from the body.

        You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get ahead of The Mirror. This really was the perfect crime, the Russians must have been planning it for years, they thought of everything. Diabolical.


      2. John Helmer / Dances With Bears article dated 16 December 2015 “MH17 Coroner contradicts himself, ignores Australian forensic evidence, rules in favour of Dutch Safety Board” on how the Victorian Deputy State Coroner Iain West contradicted the testimony given by the Australian Federal Police (that the AFP was unable to collect evidence that demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that what the Dutch Safety Board said occurred on 17 July 2014 in eastern Ukraine did indeed occur because of obfuscations by the Ukrainian government) in his inquest findings contains this tidbit:

        … West’s ruling did go into some detail on the post-mortem and autopsy evidence on the victims’ bodies reported yesterday by Dr David Ranson (right); West described Ranson as an associate professor of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, and the head of a team of anatomical, dental, and other pathology specialists who worked at the Dutch mortuary centre during July and part of August 2014. Ranson has also delivered two reports of his findings to the Victorian coroner, one in August of 2014, and a second in December 2014.

        Ranson said in an interview in the courtroom, before West announced his ruling, that CT scans were done twice over for the Australian victims, once at the Hilversum military base, and then at the Melbourne morgue after the bodies were flown home. “The CT scans were designed to detect metal”, Ranson said. He acknowledges none has been found in the scans of the victims …

        Helmer had an earlier article “Australian Police, Dutch Prosecutors break with Dutch Safety Board at Frst Coroner’s Court Inquest on MH17 Crash” with this information:

        … Ranson, who is an associate professor of forensic pathology and deputy director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, told the court he and his team had spent two and half weeks studying the victims’ bodies at Hilversum. There, he confirmed, X-rays and CT scans were carried out and more than 700 autopsies. He testified that when the Australian victims’ bodies were repatriated to the morgue at the Coroners Court, another CT scan was taken of each body, and matched against the scan taken at Hilversum. Ranson’s reports ruling out the presence of shrapnel from a missile strike in any of the MH17 bodies have been kept secret to date.

        On oath, Ranson told Coroner West the deaths of the passengers had been caused by the aircraft breaking up. He dismissed the possibility that an oxygen mask found on a body on the ground had been worn by the victim. There was no DNA evidence to support that, and little likelihood, Ranson said, that the high-speed airflow through the aircraft at decompression would have left oxygen masks on the victims, if they had time to put them on. Death came too fast, Ranson believes …

        These articles might be what you’re looking for.


        1. Mmmmm….yes. I think I read, at one time, pretty much everything Helmer wrote on the subject, and there is more than enough in his observations and Max van der Werff’s research to get the case thrown out of any real court. But that bit on the shrapnel, I don’t recall reading. I am sure I read somewhere – and saw the pictures – of the seats in the cockpit and the piercings that were in them, so that you would think that whatever went through the seat must have also gone through the body, or be lodged in it – more likely the former, as the seats should be facing forward and the explosion should have been in front of and perhaps just to the left or the right of center of the cockpit. But the more poking you do through anything of Helmer’s, the more links you find to stuff you didn’t read.

          Like this:

          “Other Dutch investigators believe the reason the current Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, Ard van der Steur (right) dismissed pathologist George Maat after he gave a lecture on the identification of the MH17 victims, was that the government wanted to warn the Dutch against revealing what the Australians had already reported – that there was no evidence of more than 7,800 pieces of shrapnel in a Buk warhead. Details of that case, and Maat’s pursuit of van der Steur for a retraction, can be read here.

          The record by Maat’s Australian team members at Hilversum is that no Buk detonation could have taken place without filling the bodies of passengers on the left (port), forward side of the cabin, but the evidence of the bodies shows this didn’t happen. Direct testimony from the sister of the pilot of MH17, Captain Wan Amran (Hamrin), corroborates that whatever detonated to destroy the aircraft, it released little shrapnel, and none struck her brother. The pilot was seated on the left side of the cockpit. Verified site photographs of pieces of the cockpit’s outer panels, compiled in this montage by BellingCat, show the damage to the fuselage.”

          But that lets out the notion it was an SU-25, as well, even if it could have reached that altitude and been waiting for the 777 (it could never have caught it if it got past without being engaged) and got that perfect aspect for an engagement. The SU-25 is a ground-attack aircraft, as I mentioned many times, and its principal weapon is a….

          You know, that’s the damndest thing. I was sure it was a 30mm cannon, and that is intended to chew up tanks, so it would have made hamburger of the cockpit crew. But I thought I would check, and I found this:

          There was a variant built – the SU-39, sometimes called the SU-25T or TM. It incorporated modifications based on lessons learned from Afghanistan. Its combat ceiling, armed, is 3000 meters higher than the SU-25, and it is much faster; fast enough to catch a 777 at 400 knots, in which scenario it would have about a 200 kph speed advantage.

          Anyway, the Ukrainians have had too much time to fuck with the evidence and create distortions, enabled by their chuckleheaded western partners, and only selected nationals were ever allowed to see what the collected evidence – bodies and plane – actually looked like when they were found. The Malaysian co-pilot was cremated before return to his country.

          “They showed me the pictures on the camera. It was full length picture and he wasn’t damaged, just slightly burnt. I was able to identify him. The person who cleaned the bodies told us our brother’s body was in the best condition with nothing missing.”

          Malaysia not only disallows inquests. It has forbidden family members of the 43 Malaysian victims from opening the coffins. None of the kin of those killed was permitted to view the victims in their coffins, Wan Lailatul Masturah said. “We were not allowed by the government, nobody must see. All the corpses who came back were not allowed to be opened.”

          The co-pilot, Capt Eugene Choo, appears to have been cremated in The Netherlands, before his remains were repatriated.”

          However, if you are charged with murder in any court of law, so far as I am aware you are entitled to see and examine all the evidence against you. Therefore if there are not actually any shrapnel fragments from an SA-11 missile, and given that pieces of the missile body would not have really been found in the wreckage, then there is not actually any real evidence the plane was destroyed by an SA-11 from a Buk system.


    2. I am completely on board with it being a provocation, and it’s quite possible even that the Ukrainian side put Voloshin out there in the hope that Russia would grab on to the story. There are a couple of factors which might explain the variety of holes and perforations found in the wreckage, one being that the Ukrainians continued to hose down the entire area with various weapons for days, although it is mostly farm fields and of little tactical value. One motive might well be to cause such a wide range of damage that it would be difficult to tell which holes were a result of whatever brought the plane down, and which occurred afterward.

      I still don’t quite believe, or I can’t, that the Ukrainian side deliberately shot down an airliner in order to assist the west in making up its mind to impose serious sanctions. I am sure the Ukrainian side did it, but I think it was probably an accident. However, the propaganda campaign appeared to be all ready to go, and an unwavering narrative was established within hours. But what could they have been shooting at, otherwise? The rebel side had no aircraft. Russian aircraft had never taken any part in the battle – the Ukrainian Air Force was opposed only by ground-based missiles, although that tactic proved effective enough to ground the Ukrainian air element. It’s possible the firing itself was an accident; there was an air-defense exercise going on at around the same time, and Ukrainian television showed deployments of full Buk systems in the area. Perhaps they were conducting tracking runs on their own aircraft, which were in the vicinity of the Boeing. As I mentioned, they liked to ride in close to civilian air traffic to deter missile-shooters on the ground, peel off and bomb the town, and then cozy up to the airliner again to withdraw. The rebel side complained about it a month before the incident. You don’t have to be really close to the airliner – just near enough that a missile seeker might acquire it by accident, which would be enough to prevent the operator from taking the shot; too risky.

      The SU-25 is a ground-attack aircraft. It could theoretically reach that ceiling, 30,000 ft, but it would have to be carrying less than a full load of fuel and probably no weapons. And its speed is such that it would have to have a perfect angle-of-attack presentation, and would get only one chance. Which would imply both planning and deliberate intent. If you were going to make a plan to shoot down an airliner and blame the Russians, why wouldn’t you use an actual fighter rather than a ground-attack plane that was poorly suited to the role?

      The spray of shrapnel from the bursting warhead would be such that each fragment would have a slightly different trajectory, although at the distance the explosion would have occurred from the target, the difference would be slight in most cases.

      I’ll certainly take another look at it, because all I’m really sure of is that the western story is a crock, and they know it, otherwise they would long ago have abandoned a story with so many holes in it.


  10. Why Change Technologies That Work So Well?
    May 24, 2020
    Stalker Zone

    Should be “techniques”, not simply “technologies”, as the writer of the article points out at the end:

    the technical and ideological techniques of subversive work used by American intelligence agencies in the 20th century are fully relevant for their widespread use in the present period of time.


  11. Russia reports less than 10,000 COVID-19 new cases for 10th day in a row
    The daily growth rate remained unchanged from Sunday at 2.6%

    MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. The number of COVID-19 cases in Russia rose by 8,946 in the past day to 353,427 in all regions, the anti-coronavirus crisis center told reporters on Monday.

    For the tenth day in a row, the daily number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia does not exceed 10,000.

    The daily growth rate remained unchanged from Sunday at 2.6%.

    I wish to f***k they would employ a native English speaker proof reader for their English site!

    FEWER than 10,000 COVID-19 new cases …!!!

    the daily number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia HAS NOT EXCEED 10,000!!!

    The daily growth rate HAS REMAINED unchanged SINCE Sunday!!!

    Viele grüße aus Moskau!

    Obersturmbanngramatikführer Moskauer Exil


    1. Having said that … yesterday evening in Moskva:

      Shooting in Moskva: the first frames and stories from eyewitnesses of the shootout in the residential complex “Yasnoe”


      1. I think I mentioned once that the missus narrowly avoided being blown up by a car bomb in Vladivostok once, long ago. She used to go to the Hyundai Hotel – a really nice five-star in downtown Vladivostok – because the DHL couriers office was in the basement. We used to send packages back and forth regularly. The bomb attack was the day after she had made a visit there.


      2. My sister was caught up in a bank robbery years ago in which the “perps” wielded crossbows. I’m sure there are plenty of items apart from firearms available for violent criminals to lay their hands on.

        The pair who raided the bank while my sister and friends were inside were last seen sporting a variety of injuries following their arrest.


    2. I was interested in finding a correlation between the rate of suicide and the per capita gun ownership by country. But, my mind wandered into just the suicide rate for Russia. As discussed before the rate in Russia dropped from 41.4 (Yeltsin era) to 13.8 per 100,000 (Putin era as of 2017). Obviously, Russians are fearful of punishment from Putin’s tyrannical regime if they were to commit suicide.

      Even the Moscow Times acknowledges a sharp reduction:

      Yet, we have this data that shows Russia with a rate of 26.5 for 2017.

      US News and World Report reported a rate of 31 in an article published in 2018. That rate was apparently the case around 2002 or so. Why the author did not use more current data?


  12. Lots of hunters there, perhaps?

    And no! Just noticed: it isn’t the Finns who bear arms the most: its the Swiss!

    I think that’s because of the standing Swiss home army, sort of like British North American traitorous “minutemen” were.



  13. Ye gods!!!

    Another one of those Anglicisms so beloved by Russian journalists and the in-crowd!

    В Москве разрешат возобновить работу операторам каршеринга

    In Moscow car sharing operators will be allowed to resume work
    In Moscow, as part of mitigating the restrictions imposed because of the spread of coronavirus, car sharing is to be allowed from May 25. This has been announced by the mayor of the capital, Sergei Sobyanin. The mayor has also signed a decree.

    Sobyanin explained that it would be possible to rent a car for at least five days. To move around Moscow, a client of car sharing companies must have a digital pass. He also noted that before handing over a vehicle to a client, it must be disinfected.

    “Of course, such a mode of operation is not car sharing in the full sense of the word”, the mayor said.


    RBK — the businessmen’s rag.

    I remember when, in the USSR and the Glorious Yeltsin Years, the Anglicism бизнесмен [businessman] was a pejorative.


  14. It looks like Russia has pulled its support for Haftar. Wagner Group has been evacuated from Libya along with equipment etc. So, who is the deal with? Erd O’Grand? Leaving Libya allows Russia to leave it on the EU & US’s plates…


    1. Russia would be wise to maintain a presence and some influence, though. It’s too hard to stabilize Libya with the west working overtime to destabilize it and get their own proxies in place, but that won’t last and eventually Libya will be discarded for some new shiny toy. When that happens, maybe effort at stabilization could succeed. Right now the danger is that everyone will pull out, in the expectation that someone will see success in settling it down and then they can start up again.


      1. Well we do know that Russia has allies and has proven itself a reliable partner, not to mention raised it standing among non-western states as an international player. Pulling out of Libya could also be seen as a sign of weakness but also an astute move, after all when it got involved the situation on the ground was quite different. They also won’t own the mess left behind, the EU will and that will absorb some financial, political and economic resources that will not be available elsewhere. Lastly, Russia can return if requested. Choose your battles. Know when to call it a day. All good solid strategic thinking.


        1. al-Araby via Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria: reports

          The highway Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border

          …Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters…

          …Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later…

          Early days, but finally a start. As others have pointed out, Erd O’Grand has been sending IS/ISIS/ISIL/Whatever to Libya from Idleb and I assume these are the hardcore paid mercenaries and others who want to save their skins. What’s left over shouldn’t offer much resistance. The real challenge is managing the return of Syrians and Erd O’Grand somehow covering his withdrawl (if he ever does or maybe it just won’t be announced). Good signs so far though.


        2. Yes, that’s quite true, and it is an admitted strategy of the west – led, as usual, by Washington – in places like Syria to turn the place into a hot mess and leave Russia to straighten it out, stirring every once in awhile as necessary.


  15. Just got this in my inbox:

    Dear reader,

    As a reader of The Moscow Times you know that independent, fact-based news from Russia is needed now more than ever. With our readers support, The Moscow Times can continue to produce in-depth, vital reporting about Russia and its role in the world. In the past year many readers made a small (or bigger) donation. We’re very grateful for this.

    We’re currently exploring new ways of private funding. As one of our readers, your opinion is valuable to us. It will form our future donor development strategy. Only 5 minutes of your time could have a big impact.

    Take the Survey

    With sincere thanks,

    The Moscow Times Team



    “Take the Survey” and “SUPPORT US TODAY!” are push buttons.

    How much should I donate?

    Tough question!


    1. I will be happy to complete the survey for you. I like doing such as reading the response wastes their time and money.


  16. Off-topic but distantly related to the crumbling empire theme. Orlov paints a grim picture for the Empire:

    I broadly agree with Orlov’s analysis. I choked a little on his contention that the rise in sea level was due to thermal expansion that occurred from the bottom up (not top down as would be the case for heat transfer from the atmosphere). That part, however, was substantiated with deep ocean temperature measurements. OK. But, I thought he went into the wild blue yonder with the statement that nuclear fission at the earth’s core was driving the deep ocean temperature change.

    A theory of a naturally occurring fission reactor has been promoted by J. Marvin Herndon, a geophysicist who has been pushing this theory against the mainstream thought for decades. He used his own money to finance research as grant money was apparently not available for such a whack theory. Turns out, he was right.

    It was interesting reading (OK, skimming) scientific papers that proved beyond doubt that a nuclear reactor could not form at the earth’s core – any claim to the contrary was nothing more than crazy talk.

    Several thought-leaders in the world of geophysicists stated that if the core reactor hypothesis was proven correct, it would the be greatest revolution in Geo-science since the confirmation of continental drift.

    The core reactor concept also neatly explains the waxing an waning of earth’s magnetic field including pole reversal. Circling back to Orlov, I can now find little to doubt in his general predictions of the global future.


    1. Earth’s Magnetic North Is Moving From Canada to Russia, And We May Finally Know Why

      …Researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK and the Technical University of Denmark have analysed 20 years of satellite data, finding that a monolithic competition between two lobes of differing magnetic force near the core is likely to be behind the pole’s wanderlust…

      …So Earth scientists Philip Livermore and Matthew Bayliff from the University of Leeds in the UK and Christopher Finlay from the Technical University of Denmark reviewed 20 years of geomagnetic data from the ESA’s Swarm mission.

      The pole’s heading lines up neatly with two anomalies called negative magnetic fluxes, one deep beneath Canada, and the other below Siberia.

      “The importance of these two patches in determining the structure of the field close to the north magnetic pole has been well known for several centuries,” the researchers note in their recently published report.

      These large lobes of magnetism grow and shrink with time, having a profound effect on the magnetic field we perceive on the surface….

      More at the link.


      1. The core reactor model may account for the shifting dipole. The reactor produces fission products which absorb neutrons thus shutting down the reactor. The fission products, having an atomic weight of about 50% of uranium, slowly migrate outwards, probably in plumes which may generate a magnetic field (my take). These plumes likely move around which drag the magnetic field. Once the level of fission products drop to a sufficiently low level, the reactor fires back up. Based on the frequency of magnetic field reversal, the process takes about 200,000 years with a high degree of variability.

        The reactor diameter per Herndon is about 5 miles and has an output of about 4 terawatts. However, the neutrino flux indicates that the reactor power is around 22 terawatts thus the reactor may be somewhat larger. Or, its output varies widely and may average somewhat lower over geological time scales. Just for comparison, a typical nuclear power reactor may produce 2.5 billion watts of thermal output. The natural reactor produces about 8,800 times more energy and has been doing so for billions of years.


    2. Patient Observer, neutrinos are produced in beta-decay reactions, which are pretty much common. That a large share of Earth’s heat is produced due to fission, still doesn’t imply it takes place in a certain relatively compact reactor. The heat production could be distributed more or less evenly across the entire mass of Earth. Even if it primarily takes place in the Earth’s crust, its entire mass is still many orders of magnitude greater than a 7-miles-wide reactor. So the amount of power released in a cubic centimeter of Earth’s crust might be negligible, yet result in a meaningful release of power for the entire planet.


      1. True, the detectors probably can not localize neutrino production however the core would be a likely place for sufficient uranium to accumulate for a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. As a rough estimate, the heat production is only about 1,600 watts per cubic foot. Not sure about the linkage of reactor output to the magnetic field other than possibly through convection currents generated by the heat release. On the other hand, the gravitational field at the core is zero or very close to zero so not much gradient to drive convection.

        Anyway, It is just simply amazing nature is.


  17. Following on from US B-1b’s first flights over Sweden with the SwAF..

    Euractiv: Finland, Sweden and Norway increase defence cooperation

    …Representatives of the three countries discussed future military exercises and the current coronavirus situation, which is slowing down plans but not cancelling them.

    However, while no decisions were made, negotiations will continue, according to the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)…

    Which is absolutely in no way in any benefit to NATO…


  18. Inquiry alleges tampering of hard-landing A321 cockpit recorder

    Russian investigators probing an Airbus A321 hard landing have made the extraordinary accusation that its cockpit-voice recorder was erased and fitted in another aircraft, then re-installed in the damaged jet, ahead of the inquiry commission’s arrival.

    The Nordwind A321 – on final approach to Antalya’s runway 36C on 10 January – sustained serious damage after the aircraft, which had slowed below its lowest selectable speed threshold moments before touchdown, was abruptly pitched down and struck the runway nose-gear first.

    Its crew subsequently executed a go-around, with multiple system problems emerging, before landing on the same runway. None of the seven crew members, the only occupants, was injured….

    Plenty more at the link.

    This is unforgivable. Hopefuly the reform and modernization which is due to come in to force the beginning of next year will weed out this kind of behavior: Rosaviatsia prominent in new Russian accident investigation legislation


  19. Opinion The folly of removing US caps on Russian nuclear fuel imports

    By Ike Brannon, opinion contributor — 05/25/20 10:00 AM EDT

    The Trump administration’s recent Nuclear Fuel Working Group report provides a sobering view of the national security threat posed by Russia’s aggressive global strategy to dominate the nuclear power and fuel industry to extend its geopolitical influence. The report warns of Russia’s efforts to increase its market share of the U.S. nuclear fuel industry and the threat that its below-market prices pose to the survival of the U.S. nuclear fuel sector. If this is left unchecked, the U.S. may find itself dependent on Russia for its nuclear fuel….

    Ike Brannon is a senior fellow at the Jack Kemp Foundation and a former chief economist for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Plenty more at the link.

    This rather excitable opinion is quite funny. No-one is forcing the USA to import Russian nuclear fuel. It is the US money wo/men themselves who have decided that it is not worth the cost of having enough of their own capacty and run it down, as well as investment in NPPs. It simply doesn’t figure in the USA money-go-round.

    Conversely, it shows us that Russia could, but hasn’t (yet), banned exports of nuclear fuel to the US. Keeping powders dry. The emperor really has no clothes.


    1. Jezus Christ – they are accusing the Russians of being good industrial capitalists? What is the f’ing world becoming?


  20. The SR-71 was a good engineering achievement but its exploits greatly exaggerated in the popular press. Many believe that it routinely flew into Soviet airspace with impunity leaving commies angrily shaking their fists in frustration.

    That belief could not be more wrong.

    Per the referenced article, the Mig-31 was up to the task by using n R-33 antiaircraft. missile If the SR-71 did cross into Soviet airspace, it would be shot down. Interestingly, the Mig-31 used an infrared sensor to track the SR-71 rather than radar as it was a flying barn fire as far as heat emissions were concerned.


    1. I saw the SR-71 once, at Kadena AFB on Okinawa. Just on the tarmac; I never saw it fly. This is the last flight from Kadena of the Blackbird, so I guess it must have been around 1990.

      The emotional farewell which accompanies the video reads as follows;

      “Preparation and launching of the last SR-71 from Kadena AFB in Okinawa. All of the SR’s from Kadena were flown back to California to be retired. This was the last plane to leave. This video is unique in that you get to see and hear the start-up of the J-58 engines.

      Probably the greatest leap of aircraft technology ever & designed with a slide rule. The fate of these aircraft were sealed in 1968 when, then Secretary of State, Robert McNamara ordered Lockheed to destroy all machinery and tooling associated with making these aircraft (so that no new aircraft could never again be made. It is rumored that McNamara did this to eliminate competition of his ‘pet’ project, the F-111). Thus no new parts could be made and, after the inventory of whatever parts were available, had to be cannibalized from existing airframes. The aircraft were retired in 1991 over many objections from many officials that the aircraft were still needed.

      After the first gulf war, $72 million dollars in funds for the return of a small number aircraft were allocated. On January 1st, 1997 the Airforce announced that two aircrew and aircraft were ready for deployment. In October of 1997, President Bill Clinton line-item vetoed the funds for the SR-71’s out of the FY 1998 budget.

      In 1998, all aircraft were retired permanently from service – excepting the four aircraft on loan to NASA. 1999 was the last year any blackbird flew (with NASA), and the remaining four aircraft were moved to be displayed at NASA or museums over the following few years.

      Nearing 50 years old, and still the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, The blackbirds are all in museums collecting dust. To those of you younger folks that were’nt around to see these wonderful aircraft flying, instead of sitting idle, I am sorry that you will not have the opprotunity to see or, most particuluarly, HEAR these machines in thier element. They made frequent appearances at airshows, and despite being older than most of the aircraft at the shows, the SR’s always drew the biggest crowds.

      “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” – John Keats, 1818″

      That’s what Diefenbaker had done with the five AVRO Arrows in various stages of completion, too; I think three were in flying condition, and none had ever flown with the engine designed for it – the Orenda Iroquois. He ordered them all destroyed, and all that survives today is a wheel strut and I think a piece of the cockpit of one, in an aviation museum in Ottawa. It took nearly 20 years to beat the last of the records it set for acceleration and climb rate, and that was with the Pratt & Whitney J75; the Iroquois produced an additional 7,500 pounds of thrust. AVRO tried to head off destruction by getting the plane in the air as fast as possible, so it had to use American engines because the Iroquois was not yet ready. It did not help, and all the aircraft were destroyed as well as all the plans and blueprints. The company folded and its engineers went to the UK to work on Concorde, or to the USA to help build the fighters that eventually eclipsed the Arrow’s performance.


  21. The Bolivian presidential candidate for the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) (obviously doomed to fail), the unfortunately-named Luis Arce, claims the coup government of Janine Añez is behaving just about as you would expect a corporatist-model elite market democratist administration to behave. He claims the new Bolivian government has only made the payment of taxes more flexible for those employers who had been involved in the coup d’état.

    That’s her job, Luis. When Bolivia is a floundering failed state, its government will have to ask the west for help. Cue big-ass IMF loans and liberalizing reforms, like those which have so improved the standard of living in Ukraine. Coming soon to Venezuela. too, if the Washington regime-changers get lucky. But only if they can overthrow Maduro – no sense pouring IMF aid into Venezuela if Venezuelans are just going to suck up all the money.

    Stiff upper lip, revolutionaries. The USA is in rather a bad way itself economically, you may have noticed. Chances are good if you can hold out a little longer, regime change in Latin America is going to look less important than domestic problems.


  22. Euractiv: Russian gas transit via Poland has almost halted

    Russian natural gas transit via the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which traverses Poland, has almost dried up, Interfax cited gas pipeline operators as saying on Monday (25 May), days after a gas transit deal between Moscow and Warsaw expired.

    Russian gas giant Gazprom declined immediate comment….

    Well this is a f/k Brussels, f/k Moscow and by association, f/k Minsk! Anything to do with whipping up nationalist fervor for Duda’s falling ratings in the run up to the (delayed) Polish presidential elections. Can we call this The Kiev Gambit?


    1. Oh, I think that’s a fairly easy call.

      “Danila Bochkarev, Senior Fellow with the EastWest Institute, made the forecast in an op-ed with EURACTIV in April that in the absence of Brussels lending a hand, the risk of disruption of supply via the Yamal pipeline was real…In the case of transit of Russian gas via Ukraine, the European Commission was able to avoid a disruption and to broker a deal satisfactory to all sides.”

      It’s pretty obvious Poland hopes and expects the EU will step in and hammer Russia into a deal that will make the Poles rich.

      As a plan, it should come with “Attention, Jerkmeat! This Plan May Blow Up In Your Face With No Warning”. For so many reasons, but I wasn’t doing anything much anyway, so I’ll enumerate a few. For one, the EU/EC is in an odd position; well, not odd, it’s fairly common, but unusual in the sense that as the leader of a country or union, you theoretically speak for everyone in it. Therefore you are in the ‘odd’ position of having to simultaneously champion the interests of businesses which want to make as much money as possible in the shortest possible amount of time, and the regular folk who elect you, and who expect low prices, the lower the better.

      The auction system the Poles are trying on does not suit those twin audiences, or only half of them. Now the EU/EC is getting a free preview of what it is like when your national energy supplies are the subject of a vendor who is trying to bid up the selling price. The EU LOVES competition, or so it claims, because theoretically it results in low prices for the EU. Why? Because in this vision of events, it will be the EU who will be directly bidding for abundant supplies of gas, and taking whatever it can get for the lowest price.

      What happens, though, when there’s a middleman between you and the supplier who is auctioning off pipeline capacity in a period when gas prices are already rock-bottom and there is no end of supply? Suddenly suppliers want to hold on to their inventory, which for most is not infinite, and wait for better prices. The consequence is that volume has dropped by two-thirds in hardly more time than it takes to say it, and suppliers are clearly not interested in paying the prices Poland wants to charge.

      Two, the suppliers who have bid for transit are in all probability going to transit Russian gas that they bought nationally, so Russia is still getting paid for it anyway, while it is the sell-on vendor who is getting screwed by the Poles in their attempt to turn Yamal into a river of gold for themselves.

      Three, it presents the EU/EC with a clear and easily-grasped conceptual X1/X2 problem. On the one hand, having to go through this every five years, small-minded grasping its-all-about-ME prima-donnas squawking for Mama to come and help them negotiate a new gas-transit contract. On the other, an uninterrupted pipeline straight to the supplier, with lots of willingness to strike a long-term purchase agreement in which the EU can argue one time for a good price, and then take its chances that it will work in its favour if world prices go up. Alternatively, it can make shorter-term deals which work out to its own interests, whichever they might be, such as screwing the public with high prices which please business interests, and then negotiating a new lower price in an election year, that sort of thing. That’s less likely to involve the supplier anyway, who doesn’t care what you charge for gas in your own venue once you have paid for it. But the choice is to have a middleman, or don’t. It would not be very difficult for the EU to build internal connectors so that the situation was reversed, and the EU could be getting nearly all its gas via Germany and then asking Poland “How much did you say you would pay for this, again?” instead of a bunch of squalling brats tugging on their apron-strings every couple of years and wanting Mum to intervene and help them make more money.

      Maybe the Germans ought to slip Poland some flowers and chocolate.


    2. В США допустили скорое введение санкций против «Северного потока — 2»
      20:08 RT

      The go-ahead has been given in the United States for the imminent imposition of sanctions against Nord Stream 2

      Despite the US election campaign, the process of adopting new sanctions againston the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project can be quick a speedy. This was stated in an interview with Handelsblatt by the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.

      “New sanctions enjoy the support of both parties (in the US. – RT). Despite the election campaign, the bill’s adoption process can go quickly”, the diplomat said.

      According to the publication, the goal of the American side is, if not to prevent the completion of the construction of Nord Stream 2, then to prevent its commissioning.

      In early February, Handelsblatt, citing diplomatic circles in Washington, wrote that the United States plans to impose new sanctions on the gas pipeline project.

      As noted in the Russian Foreign Ministry, the United States “openly seeks to” lay a mine “under “Nord Stream – 2 “.

      At the end of 2019, the United States announced the introduction of sanctions against the project.


      1. You see, though at first glance the actions of the USA seem to run contrary to that concept of the free market, so beloved by liberal economists, who believe that free and fair competition in a free market leads to the greater good, the USA is, in fact, being guided by higher moral principles, whereby the making of money takes a poor second place when it comes to the maintenance of freedom and democracy in a free and happy world, as opposed to the abject thralldom that all Europe most certainly will face if the Evil Empire is allowed to pump its enslaving gas molecules into Germany by means of its diabolical pipeline.


      2. Good. If the USA uses business with itself as collateral for a plainly illegal commercial attack against a project in which it has no part at all either as supplier or consumer, it will serve it right if the result is countries insuring themselves against American sanctions by distancing themselves from American business relationships which might prove to be a vulnerability. I suppose it is not technically illegal, although it kicks WTO rules right in the ballsack, because the USA is only saying “If you want to do business in the USA or with American companies, you have to stand down on Nord Stream II and do your part to prevent it from going ahead”. And it is banking on American trade being too important to the rest of the world for it to disobey. But that is a line in the sand – if it is successful, America will use that leverage any time it does not get its way, and as has been made abundantly clear, America considers everything that happens in the world to be its business – it is, after all, the ‘global leader’ – and it has a preferred outcome for every issue. If imposing trade sanctions on business with America – as it has a right to do – works, it will use it for every issue it considers to be sufficiently important to risk the rest of the world simply saying “You know what? Go fuck yourself.”

        So say it now, and say it loud. Trade with a bully is never worth it no matter how lucrative it is, because you can never figure it into your budget – tomorrow, you may be asked to cut yourself off from some other country, and rely even more on trade with the bully, or else lose what trade you do now. You know and I know that if any other country was doing this, the USA would be the very first to express its disgust at such blatant coercion.

        Don’t wait, other countries. If you go along with this, the day will come when you cannot say your soul is your own, and it will come sooner than you imagine.


  23. Hey, Guys; check it out. A little while ago, I read and commented on a Grauniad article by our old friend, Shaun the Dill.

    I’m afraid you can’t see the comments anymore, because the version to which I replied was actually an MSN repost of the article (and you can’t see the comments there anymore, either) but I said this:

    “Ahhh, yes; the eternal triangle of Putin’s-downfall-is-imminent; Shaun Walker, a talking head from the Carnegie Moscow Center, and Mark Galeotti. Wrong a zillion times in a row – but don’t let that stop you from being a believer.

    In fact, more than half of Russia’s new cases have been asymptomatic, certainly not dying from a hoaxy pandemic which has turned out to have a death rate approximating that of the seasonal flu. The Imperial College model was off a little, but that might be expected of an algorithm which varies by as much as 80,000 deaths over 8 days in two subsequent runs using the same seed and parameters. Brought to you by the same guy who just resigned for violating his own social-distancing and lockdown rules, whose bit of stuff turned out to be a major player in liberal-intervention organization Avaaz. Gosh; like a movie, innit?”

    At the time I was flush with new information I got here from Patrick Armstrong, so I sounded smarter than I actually am – thanks, Patrick! Anyway, I received an email notification that someone had responded to the comment. In the comment forum, they were identified only as “Purple flask”; unless you specify your name, the comment engine randomly assigns you a tile, RT’s comment forum is the same. ‘Purple flask’ responded simply, “Thank you”, and a keyboard smiley thing with the colon and the bracket.

    But in the email notification, it identifies who made the comment. And Purple flask was…(drumroll, please, I’m not doing it until I hear it)…

    @MariaZakharova replied to you on ‘He is failing’: Putin’s approval rating slides as Covid-19 grips Russia:

    Thank you 🙂

    Posted 5/12/2020, 13:40


    1. Much envy!

      Sounds like some of the MSM’s house elves have revolted, permitting your comment and the reply.


      1. I guess there were not enough comments to warrant policing, only 12. But two more of them were hers as well;

        Strange report as a Russian Citizen I We do not see this. Misleading and covering up other nations failings as USA UK are top of list for covid issues.
        If Mr Johnson had a protective suit when visiting hospitals he may have escaped infection? Why complain when Mr Putin had one when it common sense?

        To which someone named Alec Lander replied;

        Putin had one whilst he was telling the rest of Russian that the virus issue would not affect t them too much,

        Whereupon she replied,

        Hi Alec. You are correct but is this being safe? I sure Mr Johnson should have been more careful then he would not catch covid. As both World leaders would it be better taking caution with an unknown situation?
        Thank you for reply 🙂

        I’m kind of let down a little now. He was being a typical abrasive dick, and he still got a smiley face. I think I should have got two. Or maybe even a heart.


  24. From my feed:

    – U.S.-China tensions on the rise. Chinese President Xi Jingping said that China was preparing for a worst-case scenario of war. Tensions with the U.S. are on the rise and many geopolitical analysts have predicted a new Cold War appears all but inevitable. But is a hot war possible?

    Iranian tankers arrive in Venezuela. Despite threats from Washington, five Iranian tankers carrying gasoline arrive in Venezuela.

    U.S. air traffic picking up. While still a fraction of pre-pandemic levels, TSA data shows that passenger throughput at U.S. airports is increasing. On May 25, more than 340,000 people passed through American airports, nearly triple the low levels seen in April. But that number still stands at about 15 percent of year-ago levels.

    Global LNG downturn. The glut of LNG worldwide could put the next phase of liquefaction plants on ice. “We don’t see any additional North American export capacity getting sanctioned in the next decade,” Ross Wyeno, an LNG analyst at S&P Global Platts, told the Financial Times. The glut could last until the mid- to late-2020s, according to analysts. Qatar’s decision to continue to expand export capacity edges out any other competitor in the near-term.

    But in the same breath:

    Qatar pursues LNG expansion. Qatar is moving forward with the development of the largest gas field on the planet. “The North Field expansion project is moving full steam ahead, no delay there. The only issue is because of COVID and suppliers and so on,” said Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister. “In my view, you continue your plan and invest in the bad times because these projects are long term.” The project will increase Qatar’s production capacity from 77m tonnes of LNG per annum to 110m by 2025, the FT said.

    It’s kind of funny to see stories like these back-to-back, from the same source;

    IEA: No peak demand yet. The IEA said that oil demand has not yet peaked. “In the absence of strong government policies, a sustained economic recovery and low oil prices are likely to take global oil demand back to where it was, and beyond,” the IEA’s Fatih Birol told Bloomberg.

    So things are looking up for oil producers – oh, wait a second; except for Russia. Whose word did they rely on? I think you know.

    Peak demand looms as threat to Russia. Russia’s economy could be in for years of stagnation as demand for its oil and gas may begin to wane, according to a new study. The study says that Russia’s economy could be destined to grow at below 1 percent for two decades, absent economic diversification. “The rents that we enjoyed for the last 20 years will never come back,” Alexei Kudrin, former finance minister and now a top government auditor, warned in an article, Bloomberg reports.

    What is it going to take for the Russian government to fire Kudrin? Or is it just amused to watch the USA bigging up his qualifications so he’s some kind of psychic seer? I suppose it would not have the same punch if it had been, “The rents that we enjoyed for the last 20 years will never come back,” Alexei Kudrin, shoe salesman and former shopping-mall Santa Claus, warned in an article, Bloomberg reports. Kudrin might well be an excellent auditor, but he has demonstrated time and again that he cannot foretell the future of anything beyond Kurt Cobain World Tours. Auditing is checking on things that have already happened. Seeing into the future? Not so much, whether he’s a ‘top government auditor’, or like the worst one ever.

    U.S. shale permanently damaged? “February was peak shale,” Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit, told the WSJ. Already struggling with a poor track record of profits, U.S. shale may not rebound to previous levels for years, if ever. More than 70 companies could file for bankruptcy this year at $30 WTI.

    BP (NYSE: BP) said it would cut its leadership in half, cutting senior management from 250 down to 120. “We expect the reinvented BP to be smaller and nimbler. We have already started by removing a layer of management at Tier 1 and 2,” BP CEO Bernard Looney said in an email to staff.

    – Oklahoma-based oil and gas driller Unit Corp. (NYSE: UNT) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    US drill rigs were down another 21 in the shale plays; down 2 each in Eagle Ford and DJ-Niobrara, 2 each in Williston and unnamed ‘others’, and down 13 in the Permian. Oil prices might be holding their meagre gains, but they are still way below the threshold where shale drilling breaks even, never mind being profitable; it has never really been profitable.


      1. That and the west always affects to believe Kudrin, and therefore gets the most pessimistic picture imaginable of the prevailing fiscal picture in Russia. It’s always raining in Kudrinland; the permanent lines around his mouth from frowning all the time tell their own story, and there could never be enough money in the world so that Kudrin felt safe. Disaster is always looming and the sinews of the economy are always stretched to breaking point. But he’s an auditor – what in the name of God would make jealous and paranoid Washingtonian nutbags believe Kudrin works daily with economic projections which allow him to forecast the future? He does have an economic education, but beyond that he knows what you know, can make guesses like you can and economists are wrong more often than you are.

        Only in Kudrinland could the picture be markedly rosier for a nation with over $17 Trillion in publicly-owned debt on a GDP of $21 Trillion than that of a nation with the lowest debt in the G-20 and the cushion of a $ half-Trillion in sovereign wealth funds. No wonder he always has a face like a wet weekend.


  25. So the tactically-clever but ultimately-unstable ‘Russian spy’ Igor Girkin finally accepted ‘moral responsibility’ for the destruction of MH-17.

    I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

    Makes no difference that he specifically said ‘his forces’ did not down the plane, and that “Inasmuch as I was the commander of the rebels and a participant in the conflict, I feel a moral responsibility for these deaths.”

    Nope; without even pausing for breath, Australian shit-for-brains outlet The Herald-Sun shouted “Family of Aussie Victims slam Russian spy’s shock admission!!”, and followed up with “A former spy’s admission that Russia had “moral responsibility” for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was too little, too late, family members of Australian victims say.”

    I can’t link it, because clicking it takes you straight to a Herald Sun subscription panel, but I daresay you can find it in search without too much trouble.

    That’s how disinformation works in the Idiot World we now live in. In the same search pane you can find an article in which Girkin clearly says he ‘feels a moral responsibility’ only because he was kind of in command of rebel forces overall at the time it occurred, although he was quite clear that none of the people under his command had actually shot it down to the very best of his knowledge. This illustrates how eager the west is for even the slightest crack in Russia’s denial if a private citizen’s admission of discomfort with what happened instantly translates to ‘Russia’s admission’.

    Kind of like if Paul Hogan had admitted to homosexual experimentation in college, all of Australia would be gay.


  26. I think the thing I dislike most about the Poles is that they are so smug. Yes, go ahead, Russia, we dare you, it will not be any problem for Poland! Until it is, and then they are wailing to the EU. As we just saw earlier today, Poland is already whining that the EC/EU needs to step in and mediate or there is going to be a problem.

    Danila Bochkarev, Senior Fellow with the EastWest Institute, made the forecast in an op-ed with EURACTIV in April that in the absence of Brussels lending a hand, the risk of disruption of supply via the Yamal pipeline was real…In the case of transit of Russian gas via Ukraine, the European Commission was able to avoid a disruption and to broker a deal satisfactory to all sides.

    I wouldn’t go that far. It was signed by all sides, but I’m pretty sure Russia did not want to get locked in to any kind of medium-to-long-term agreement with Ukraine, because as soon as Ukraine has a signed deal in its pocket, all virtuous talk about cooperation stops and it begins to think about how it can leverage its transit-country status to squeeze money from somebody.

    Be that as it may, there was none of this snot-on-face blubbering back in early May – back then, the Poles were Masters of the Universe, by God!! And that’s the thing about the Poles – they’re euphoric until there’s a problem, but then it becomes everyone’s problem.

    Only a couple of weeks ago, but visions of sugarplums were already dancing in square Polish heads. Europe had so much stored gas it probably wouldn’t need any until you could run your car on piss and tax collectors could fly.

    The auctions do not determine which route of transmission will be selected by Russia, but Poland doesn’t need any guarantees in this regard. Until 2024 Russia is partially dependant on the route across Ukraine where it needs to ensure a minimum volume of 65 bcm a year in 2020 and 40 bcm between 2021 and 2024. Other routes are the Yamal pipeline through Belarus and Poland and the Nord Stream pipeline, which is to be complemented by Nord Stream 2 once it’s ready at the turn of 2020 and 2021, provided there won’t be additional delays. According to’s estimates of the transit fees, the Polish section of the Yamal pipeline will be the cheapest choice. This is the best guarantee for using this route, but from the point of view of the state this isn’t that important. That’s because the transit contract via Poland was badly negotiated and capped the transit revenue for EuRoPol Gaz, the owner of the pipe, at a mere PLN 21 million a year. Today it turns out the bad deal was a blessing in disguise as that sum is very small in comparison to the state budget. Therefore, Poland, in contrast to Ukraine, does not depend on transit revenue and will be fine without deliveries from the East.

    No problems here, Jack – the future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.

    At the same time, Sputnik, a propaganda tool, wrote about the “illogical Baltic Pipe” whose gas Poland would not need because it had a lot of blue fuel from Russia in liquefied form. Sputnik forgot that Poland wants to limit, or entirely discontinue buying Russian gas once the Yamal contract for gas deliveries expires at the end of 2022.

    Poland is another of those irrational simpletons that dances a jig with itself in the street with delight at its own cleverness, and congratulates itself for being so tricky and smart to have gotten away from Russian gas completely, and bought gas instead from its neighbours, which they bought from Russia. The Baltic Pipe will bring gas from Norway, whose gas reserves have been on the downward side of decline since 2005. Yes, that’s really fucking smart, Poland.

    That’s assuming the Baltic Pipe ever gets built. If you have a look at its ‘history’ section in Wikipedia, you will probably notice a disturbing resemblance to the talking-shop circle-jerk that was Nabucco. The Europeans – the British especially – almost came in their pants whenever they talked about how Nabucco was going to end Russian dominance of the energy industry forever, and rhapsodized about the day they would buy their gas instead from one of the most corrupt leaders on the planet, Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, whose molecules of freedom would flow to them through magical Nabucco. They talked about it and had business lunches on full per diem for years – 11 years, to be exact – and never built a kilometer of it. Enter the Baltic Pipe, which also is just in the circle-jerk talking-shop stage, and considering the service end is supposed to be hooked up to a producer whose gas reserves are in sharp decline, is probably not going to advance beyond printing brochures and T-shirts. But the Poles are already boogieing with ecstasy over how when that happy day comes, they will vent off gas into the air just to show Russia how much cheap gas they have and how little they need the hated Moskali.

    Perhaps the reason why Russians have been largely silent about the new era for the Yamal gas pipeline is because the pipe will no longer be important for Poland’s gas policy, as it will become a mere gas transit route for blue fuel from Russia and from outside of Russia that operates in line with transparent EU laws. Only the Kommersant daily was honest enough to admit that the deliveries via Poland’s Yamal section would be the cheapest option for Russia. This shows that a new normal has arrived where the political aspect of Russian gas transit via Poland disappears and with it a potential leverage that could be used by Moscow to put Warsaw under pressure. The process will be completed once the delivery contract expires in 2022. After that the Polish gas market and its infrastructure will develop regardless of our troublesome neighbors’ foreign policy. Gazprom is facing a crisis and will have to court Poles who may not be eager to again buy gas from this uncertain source. Russians will be left with propaganda from RIA and Sputnik, trying to wave away reality, or reminiscing about the good old times that hopefully will not come back.

    See what I mean? Smug as fuck. I agree with them, actually – hopefully those good old times will not come back. And when Poland has to go, cap in hand, to Moscow and beg for renewed exports through Yamal because the babies need shoes, I trust Moscow will spit neatly into their hair.


  27. The postponed Victory Day to be held June 24th, they’re saying, with the Immortal Regiment’s March to coincide with Navy Day, July 26th. I loved Navy Day in Russia, especially the fleet units anchored for review. Each time I was in Vladivostok we either had a harbour view or were visiting a friend who did, and it was a great experience for me.

    Hopefully it will be nice weather for the Immortal Regiment’s march.


  28. It looks as if the USA’s sulky withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is at least partly motivated by pique at the failure of another diplomatic trick – an attempt at a de facto recognition by Russia that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are part of Georgia.

    Russia insisted US aircraft operating under Open Skies could not fly within 10 km of the borders of ‘states which are not signatories to the treaty’. The USA does not recognize the breakaway regions and considers them part of Georgia.

    It’s much like the elaborate dance right after the Glorious Maidan, when Ukraine tried to trap Russian political figures into ‘recognizing’ the incoming government ‘ministers’ by trying to set up meetings in which if the Russians agreed, they would implicitly be recognizing the individual as the legitimate Minister of Defense, for example. Seems kind of silly to me, although of course it has legal implications. But Russia appears to be correct in inferring that the USA imposes restrictions that only a very small portion of Alaska can be surveilled under Open Skies rules, but has a fit over restrictions on flying over Kaliningrad which are much less restrictive.


  29. A useful quick-and-dirty guide to Nord Stream II’s next steps:

    The NS2 group has two months from the rendering of the Bundesnetzagentur’s decision to not grant NS2 a waiver from the EU’s Third Energy Package rules.

    If it decides to appeal that decision, it goes to the OLG, the Dusseldorf region higher court. That authority would likely punt it to the EU.

    Therein lies great risk. The German court could overrule the BNA, but the EU ruling already suggested it was up to Germany to enforce EU rules. That sounded to me like a statement that Germany could grant the waiver if it chose, as indeed it has the power to do. But the BNA said no. If the German courts decline to rule and buck it up to the big boys in Luxembourg, their decision would be binding on Germany. So pushing the decision up the ladder would also mean Germany would lose its national judgment.

    If the decision goes to the EU, it will be under enormous pressure from Washington to impose such restrictions as will make it impossible for Nord Stream II to function – the group might as well just give it to the EU as a present. At the same time the Poles and Ukrainians will be yapping frantically in its ear, hoping to preserve their transit fees. And major members like France and Germany will have to decide whether they can still exercise free will, or if they must bow to the Americans.

    Either way, America is not going to sell LNG to Europe in any significant amounts. The current crisis has made it clear the USA cannot sell LNG at these prices and make money – the cancellation of dozens of cargoes makes it clear that American LNG is not competitive cost-wise. The USA will not give it away, or sell at a loss – it means to make a profit.


  30. Further indications that the UK is about to give in to Washington pressure again.

    Look out, British politicians! If you don’t do as you are told, you too might get a phone call from The Donald, in which he shouts at you furiously and then slams the phone down. That’d be pretty traumatic. You pantywaists.

    Speaking of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou has a critical hearing coming up this week, in which a decision will be rendered as to whether the charges against her meet the threshold for Canadian extradition law. If the verdict is No, she walks. Or flies, more likely, the hell out of here, probably not to return for a long, long time.

    Canada will probably cave in, too, because you know the Americans are lobbying hard to have her extradited – it’d be a real feather in the American cap and would play to their self-image as global arbiters of justice. And when it comes right down to it, the Americans don’t make us lick their shoes very often; maybe once a year. And hey – they have Krispy-Kreme donuts and In & Out Burger!

    Strangely, nobody seems to think ahead to what the tech world in the west will be like once we are locked into a 5-G network with the United States, the most surveillance-happy, snoopy, bossy country in the entire world. And one which plainly will not tolerate competition of any kind. So better get started early on liking everything made by US companies.

    What it boils down to is that the United States has asserted a right to make the rules by which everyone who wants to do business with America must abide. And that means no competition. And that you do what you’re told. Remember, America is an empire. And you’re part of it.


  31. According to the Ukrainians – yes, I know, excitable bunch, and they certainly might have gotten it wrong – among the new asshole announcements the USA might make to try and stop Nord Stream II from going into operation (they have given up on stopping its construction) are measures against ‘buyers of Russian gas’.

    According to Grenell, the goal of the United States is to prevent the pipeline from being put into service since it has already been built.

    It is not yet clear what form the new sanctions will take. One of the possibilities is to tax companies that use special equipment for pipeline maintenance with trade fines. Washington also discusses sanctions against buyers of Russian gas.

    Just so this is crystal-clear to everyone, America continues to aggressively market US LNG as an alternative – not a supplement – to Russian pipeline gas. Its idea of ‘leveling the playing field’ is to prevent the supply of gas by its competitor. No product from you, buy my product instead. That’s the vaunted American ‘fair and open competition’. You can only imagine – actually, I doubt you can – the American reaction to a Russian resolution to stop LNG tankers carrying American LNG for inspection at sea, and if they were found to be carrying American LNG, turn them back. There would be a general recall of all US Naval units, and America would be going to war tomorrow.

    Let’s all remember Trump was elected at least partially because he was meant to be such a genius on trade and economics.


    1. That’s reminded me. It was EU Observer (that also posts extensive poisonous sh/t pieces against Russia) that published a long piece on China/Maltese Embassy/EU/Spying whatever that said there was no evidence at all: Belgium confirms probe into China-Malta spy threat


      1. Not to mention the two stories just adjacent on the same page; “US military: Russia sent jets to Libya to help mercenaries”, and “Russia’s top coronavirus ‘fake news’ stories”. Manichean. There is us, and there is them, and they never stop lying – can’t help it, it’s in their genetic code.

        The Russia-sent-jets-to-Libya-to-help-mercenaries story is particularly ironic, although of course no proof was offered. The source is AFRICOM, which is actually located in Germany because they can’t find an African nation willing to host them, and ‘the US Military’ is presumed to have access to other-worldly knowledge to which the average meathead can never aspire. But I don’t have to cast my memory back that far to recall a time when NATO sent jets to Libya to help mercenaries.

        Page 60: “Although Russia and China opposed the notion of military action by NATO in Libya, the vicious violence by Gaddafi against the Libyans, aired on television, brought significant pressure on the United Nations. Moscow and Beijing allowed the use of military action to defend the civilians only after the regime forces bombarded large areas in Benghazi and were about to raid the city. But Washington and its allies, encouraged by Qatar, moved from striking at advancing Gaddafi forces to providing air cover to advancing rebel forces. NATO air forces, including American, French, and British, operating mostly from Italy, wrecked Libya’s airfields, missile forces and radar. They then pounded Gaddafi’s tank divisions and degraded his communications system to a point where the fight on the ground became a fight between two almost equally-matched forces. NATO acted as an air force for the rebels while its battleships tightened the blockade on Gaddafi’s ports.”

        That’s so amazing a view of the conflict that it’s worth going over line-by-line.

        “Although Russia and China opposed the notion of military action by NATO in Libya, the vicious violence by Gaddafi against the Libyans, aired on television, brought significant pressure on the United Nations.”

        Television has become more or less a wholly-owned western propaganda subsidiary, and it thinks nothing of portraying ‘vicious violence’ that takes place in entirely different countries as having happened at the location it identifies. Western television has shown rioting in Athens which it claimed was taking place in Moscow, and with the help of western toady Qatar, staged a fake breaking-news overthrow of Tripoli to panic and demoralize its defenders. The west, led by those paragons of fairness in Washington, does not hesitate to doctor broadcasts with the objective of ‘putting pressure on the United Nations’ to sign off on military action. The ‘vicious violence’ carried out against Gaddafi after the USA helpfully assisted in his capture by the rebels was portrayed as just boys-will-be-boys punitive impulses gotten out of control. Note that the ‘vicious violence’ is presented by the author as being directed ‘against the Libyans’ in general, a variation on that old “He’s killing his own people!” heartstring-tugger. In fact, Benghazi had been established as the ‘rebel’ (ISIS) capital, and nearly all residents who were not sympathetic to the rebels had left. Not a word about the rebels using civilians and civilian property as ‘human shields’; no, it was just Gaddafi’s ‘regime’ indiscriminately bombing civilians. So much bullshit in a single sentence; and this account is by a detractor who recommends operations like it not reoccur!

        “Moscow and Beijing allowed the use of military action to defend the civilians only after the regime forces bombarded large areas in Benghazi and were about to raid the city.”

        Moscow and Beijing were lulled by western promises that a no-fly zone would be used only to ‘protect civilians’. Instead, it escalated – through that phenomenon known as ‘mission creep’ – almost immediately to bombing ‘targets’ such as the Great Man-Made River, which had no bearing whatsoever on ‘protecting civilians’ but were instead used to cut off Tripoli’s water supplies so as to coerce the population into submission and surrender. The British made up some cockamamie excuse about Gaddafi ‘hiding his tanks’ in the water pipes, I’m not even going to go into that again because it’s stupid beyond belief, and so is anyone who bought it. If that debacle had any value at all, it stopped the no-fly zone cold as a western tactic to insert the thin edge of the military wedge, and it has agitated vigorously for no-fly zones in other conflicts since only to have the proposal vetoed hard. Shame it took the destruction of Libya for Moscow and Beijing to finally acknowledge that treachery is just another word for diplomacy in the west.

        “But Washington and its allies, encouraged by Qatar, moved from striking at advancing Gaddafi forces to providing air cover to advancing rebel forces.”

        Presented as just the ‘fog of war’, but actually part of the plan right from its inception. If anyone not part of the all-friends-together ever gets briefed on every possible facet of a western military intervention plan, it’ll be a first. Escalation is built in, and absence of a veto is considered permission. So is abstention, so don’t ever think of taking that route to show disapproval.

        “NATO air forces, including American, French, and British, operating mostly from Italy, wrecked Libya’s airfields, missile forces and radar.”

        And a ton of unrelated infrastructure, eventually progressing to indiscriminately bombing Tripoli just as they screamed Gaddafi was doing to Benghazi. Libya has never recovered from the damage inflicted.

        “They then pounded Gaddafi’s tank divisions and degraded his communications system to a point where the fight on the ground became a fight between two almost equally-matched forces.”

        Almost equally-matched forces except, as acknowledged in the previous sentences, only one side had an air force. That can’t be cynicism, so it must be self-delusion. There’s a reason why the very first arena the USA tries to secure in any conflict, anywhere, is air superiority and control of the sky. And it’s because once that is established, the outcome of the ground war is a foregone conclusion.

        “NATO acted as an air force for the rebels while its battleships tightened the blockade on Gaddafi’s ports.”

        With one important distinction – the tactical modifications introduced, including smashing civilian infrastructure and using televised propaganda to win support for the western destruction-op were in no way rebel proposals. Those were straight out of the western break-their-will playbook, and were introduced gratis, as a means of achieving western foreign-policy goals which paid no heed at all to the toll in civilian lives or any of the laws of armed conflict.

        How did the great western liberation turn out? Well, you know how it turned out. From further down the same page;

        “One of their Commanders, who trained with al Qaeda and served in Gaddafi’s prisons, was Abdelhakim Belhaj. He soon rose to prominence on the national scene and ended up leading the Jihadi forces, becoming the military commander of Tripoli after the fall of Gaddafi.”

        Oh, don’t be so modest! Gaddafi didn’t ‘fall’, he was spitted on a bayonet before being shot by giggling, jubilant rebels in an orgy of savage, barbaric violence while NATO looked on benevolently. There’s a turn-up for the old books, wot, wot? Belhaj was imprisoned by Gaddafi, but made military commander of Tripoli by NATO – funny how different ‘al Qaeda’ looks on your resume depending on who is reviewing it, innit? Belhaj went on to become commander of the Free Syrian Army immediately after that – military commander of Tripoli proved too boring for such an active guy, and he left Libya with a fat bag of western cash to keep him company on his travels.

        Put that down as my book review of that exculpatory asswipe, and I’m not even reading the rest of it.


        1. Yes, AFRICOM’s weak piss, particularly in light of Erd O’Grand bigging up Turkish Air Force strikes using his F-16s and numerous drone strikes ‘driving Haftar back.’ It’s all there on youtube, certainly much more evidence than some labelled satellite/whatever photos from teh US. It seems the bullhorn everywhere is being turned up to 11.


  32. U.S. Navy’s videos of unsafe intercept of P-8A by Russian Su-35s

    A U.S. Navy P-8A flying in the Eastern Mediterranean on May 26 was intercepted by two Russian Su-35 fighters. The intercept was deemed unsafe by the Americans as the two fighters were flying close underneath the wings of the maritime patrol aircraft.


    Is ‘East Mediterranean’ code for ‘off the coast of Syria’? USN P8As have been ‘allegedly’ providing support for (unknown origin) drone attacks against Russian airforce bases in Syria, so I’m hardly suprised the Su-35s are all over it. In addition to not providing any specific location information, also note that both videos are very short and there’s really no other information. It has all the hallmarks of a propaganda PR.


  33. Three US Soldiers Wounded in Convoy Ambush in Eastern Syria

    Convoy was accompanied by Kurdish SDF forces

    Syrian state media has reported an incident in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor Province where three US soldiers and five Kurdish SDF were wounded when they were ambushed by an as-yet unknown militant force.

    The US and Kurdish forces were on a joint patrol as a convoy and were ambushed just outside of a village. It’s not at all clear who the attackers were or why they targeted the convoy. If they were targeting the SDF primarily, it would be likely they were Turkish-backed rebels….

    The only thing that matters is who the USA blames, not who necessarily did it.


    1. Perhaps it was not immediately clear to the attackers who was who.

      “Speaking Thursday, a top Pentagon official said it’s fairly common for Green Berets and other operators to wear allies’ patches.

      “Special operations forces, when they operate in certain areas, do what they can to, if you will, blend in with the community to enhance their own protection, their own security,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.”

      Maybe top Pentagon officials need a refresher course in military law.

      Article 37. – Prohibition of perfidy

      1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:

      (a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;
      (b) The feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;
      (c) The feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and
      (d) The feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.

      2. Ruses of war are not prohibited. Such ruses are acts which are intended to mislead an adversary or to induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rule of international law applicable in armed conflict and which are not perfidious because they do not invite the confidence of an adversary with respect to protection under that law. The following are examples of such ruses: the use of camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation.

      Article 38. – Recognized emblems

      1. It is prohibited to make improper use of the distinctive emblem of the red cross, red crescent or red lion and sun or of other emblems, signs or signals provided for by the Conventions or by this Protocol. It is also prohibited to misuse deliberately in an armed conflict other internationally recognized protective emblems, signs or signals, including the flag of truce, and the protective emblem of cultural property.

      2. It is prohibited to make use of the distinctive emblem of the United Nations, except as authorized by that Organization.

      Article 39. – Emblems of nationality

      1. It is prohibited to make use in an armed conflict of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.

      2. It is prohibited to make use of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of adverse Parties while engaging in attacks or to shield, favour, protect or impede military operations.

      3. Nothing in this Article or in Article 37, paragraph 1(d), shall affect the existing generally recognized rules of international law applicable to espionage or to the use of flags in the conduct of armed conflict at sea.

      The law does not give a flying fuck if you are in violation of it because doing so “enhances your own protection and security”. If you get a slug through your temples because you were dressed like a Kurdish militiaman when you are not, them’s the breaks, Johnny. I wouldn’t even mention it in future, I was you. Let alone brag about how you routinely break the law because you’re Special.


    2. There is a bit more detail on where this ambush took place and what the convoy was doing at the time from>:

      … The targeted U.S. convoy was accompanied by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said SANA, adding five SDF fighters were also wounded in the attack that took place near the village of Ruwaishid in the countryside of Deir al-Zour.

      Separately, the U.S. forces brought military and logistic supplies into Syria from Iraq on Tuesday, said SANA, adding communication towers were brought into the country as well.

      It’s worth noting that the United States controls several bases in northeastern and eastern Syria, particularly in areas controlled by the SDF …

      So the convoy illegally crossed over from Iraq carrying supplies to boost US military presence in the areas along Syria’s border with Iraq.

      How the US reacts to this attack will help give some idea of who was responsible and who backed the attack. If Turkish-backed rebels had attacked the convoy (I doubt this, because this would suggest Turkey has penetrated eastern Syria much farther than the areas near the Turkish border, but one never knows) then the US would be applying some pressure on Erdogan’s government. If the attackers were receiving Saudi or other foreign help, the US would try to keep news of the attack quiet or deflect it back onto Damascus in some way.


  34. via WaPo’s Dirt on Trump’s ‘Rapid’ Nuclear Testing is a Real Dud

    There’s plenty of ammunition against the administration on the weapons front, but this rumor-based story hardly explodes.

    Scott Ritter

    The Washington Post recently published an article which quotes an unnamed “senior administration official” and two unnamed “former officials familiar with the deliberations” as saying that during the course of a “meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies” on May 15, a discussion was had about the possibility of the United States conducting a “rapid test” of a nuclear weapon.

    Furthermore, this testing was proposed as a means of compelling Russia and China to enter into trilateral arms reductions talks designed to find a replacement for the bilateral U.S.-Russian New START Treaty, which expires in February 2021…

    Plenty more at the link.

    Erection cycle blowing news, innit?


    1. The WaPo itself has actually evolved into a bit of a dud. I try when I am looking for stories to read tl take note of the source before clicking on it, because any time I click on a WaPo story it takes me straight to a subscription page, headed by that silly motto “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. Entertaining as alliteration, I suppose, but totally meaningless otherwise.

      I would speculate that at least half of the new stories, and perhaps more, that feature in the daily milieu never took place anywhere except in policy plans, and are deliberate ‘leaks’ calculated to push the narrative this way and that. The USA’s supposed plans to conduct a nuclear test, which it probably has neither need or intention to do, is meant to push China into coming onboard a new agreement which will help the USA decide if it has to pour money into new nukes or not.


  35. Russia begins construction of the first PAK DA strategic bomber – sources

    The final assembly of the entire machine should be complete in 2021

    Russia has commenced construction of its first strategic stealth bomber within the Perspective Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation (PAK DA) program, also known as “Product 80” and “Courier”, a source in the military-industrial complex told TASS.

    “The production of airframe elements will be handled by one of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)’s plants; development of working design documentation is complete, material shipping has commenced,” the source said.

    Another source told TASS that construction of the plane’s cockpit is already underway.

    “The final assembly of the entire machine should be complete in 2021,” he noted.

    The Tupolev Design Bureau’s press service refrained from commenting on construction of the first PAK DA….

    What’s the point? There are plenty of other questions too, but I’d like to know about the engines, considering the Su-57 Izeliye-30 engines are yet again delayed…


    1. Clicking the link leads to this:

      The requested URL /gorilla-radio-talks-back-at-the-aliens-forcing-you-to-listen-to-evil/ was not found on this server.


      1. Same here: tried evey link that I have found on Google as regards gorilla-radio-talks-back-at-the-aliens-forcing-you-to-listen-to-evil. Every time — zilch!


  36. It looks as if the Baltic Pipe project is actually going to go ahead; there has been a great flurry of activity around getting permits (largely pro-forma, as everybody is on the right side in this one, so it’s all wink-wink, nudge-nudge) and a contract has been let to a piping manufacturer.

    Probably the project engineers have been encouraged to use Allseas for the offshore pipelaying phase, too, just to rub it in that the United States has no problem at all with Allseas working for its friends.

    Be that as it may, I see someone who has not been asked how they feel about it: Nord Stream. There is no way the Baltic Pipe can tap off of Europipe II, cross Denmark and come ashore anywhere in Poland without crossing Nord Stream I and II. So what’s the protocol there, I wonder? What if they damage the Nord Stream lines while laying their own pipeline? There must be some kind of procedure.

    This apparent machine translation’s author seemed to believe Poland would have to obtain some kind of go-ahead from Russia.

    “In early 2019, the Financial Times reported that Poland would not be able to circumvent the agreement from Russia, as the route of the Baltic Pipe will cross the course “Nord stream-2”.

    If it were my decision, I would stall for at least a week longer than the perfidious Danes stalled on Nord Stream II, thus cooperating with their American masers to make it impossible for Russia to finish the pipeline in time to qualify for a waiver.

    It will be interesting to see where the gas comes from to fill the Baltic Pipe when Norway is sucking fumes from the last of its deposits.

    Even if that does not happen right away, and speculation that Norway is holding back production until prices improve is accurate, it will take another two years to complete the Baltic Pipe, and who knows what gas prices will look like then? Obviously the Norwegians don’t plan to give it away, so the Poles will likely be paying higher energy prices. Well played, Poland.


  37. Trump threatens to shut down social media if Twitter does not stop putting ‘fact check’ labels on his tweets.

    So far as I am aware, there is no law which says you must tell the truth except when providing testimony. CNN agrees with me.

    “It is not a crime to lie on television, but it is illegal to lie or omit information during an interview with federal agents as part of a criminal investigation. Lewandowski sought to clarify that he had not lied to Mueller’s investigators.”

    However, Twitter is well within its rights to advise its users that some content is not substantiated by fact, and that those who want to cite it as truth would be well-advised to check it first.

    Welcome to the Police State, where the truth is what the government says it is. Don’t check, or you’ll have no social media at all. Are you checking?? What’d I just say?


  38. America continues to kick sand in China’s face. Today, Jabba the Secretary of State announced Hong Kong no longer enjoys sufficient autonomy from China for it to justify ‘economic privileges’, whatever those might be. From an American point of view – which, I need hardly say, implies a belief that America has the stick and by God you better believe they’re going to whup somebody with it – that means the USA is going to try making sure Hong Kong loses its status as a global financial center. I’m guessing at this point, but I’d guess a directive will follow for all American companies who have major corporate offices in Hong Kong to start preparing to close them. I would further guess pressure will follow upon US allies to do the same.

    Trump appears to be going to try to cut China off altogether from global trade. I just have to shake my head in wonder at the damage that orange egotist is wreaking on world finance, single-handed. Incredible. So now America’s allies will come under pressure to close their banks and corporate offices in China (again, just guessing) while America shows China it means business. Or no business, as the case may be.

    It remains to be seen how many national leaders are going to go along with this madness – you cannot retreat from China and then expect to re-establish yourself when you are satisfied with the political climate.

    As if that were not enough destruction of international relations, the Trump administration has also again threatened sanctions on India for buying the S-400, after being ordered to terminate the sale and buy American missile systems instead. Trump has completely taken leave of his senses, and if something is not done to remove him from office – never mind serve another term which would mostly consist of just stirring the wreckage – America is going to be left without friends or business partners alike. You can’t save someone who is determined to drown, but you can drown with them.

    Because FreeNews is a bit flaky, I fact-checked both latter allegations, and the one about Hong Kong is accurate and substantiated. I did not see any actual decision to impose sanctions on India, although it is a fact the USA has told India it must cancel the order for the S-400 or risk sanctions, and offered its own missiles instead. It threatened India and it signed the contract anyway, and the USA has ramped up its threats again.

    Why not be in conflict with the whole world, eh?


    1. I suspect most know he’s just blowing smoke and will only react to what he does. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if his orifice contacted whomever (ally) before to tell them to take no notice. The threat against India is particularly hollow, not to mention US designs (F/A-18E/F, potentially F-15EX) are in the running for yet another (again) fighter competition: US government clears Harpoon, Torpedo deal for India P-8Is

      4 Apr 2020


      1. Yes, the USA is quite tickled with itself over all the weapons it sells to India, and is particular neither about the stability of the country to whom it sells or how the weapons will be used. Those are ‘good’ weapons, the kind that defend freedom and democracy. Stuff like the S-400, now – that’s not a ‘good weapon’, and just as likely to blow up in your face and cause a disaster as not. I suppose there are a lot of ways you could rationalize ordering a buyer to not buy from the competition, and to buy from you, or else. But none of them can be made to look like ‘a level playing field’.


    1. Good review, Evgeny! Tretyakov’s defiant defense of his decision suggests that in the mental tug-of-war between the son of the liberal elite and the moral citizen, the lure of elitism won.


      1. Mark, thanks! I’m cautious to perceive it as a moral story. Tretyakov wasn’t a good or bad person, and neither Russia was a good or bad society. But it changed a lot in 1990s, and Tretyakov failed to adapt to it. Suddenly he realized that he’s a stranger in Russia, and the U.S. felt more like home. There’s a particular harmful quality — his arrogance — which prevented him from adapting to a new Capitalist and more corrupt Russia. And by harmful I mean that he harmed himself a lot.


      2. It’s a tempting interpretation that Tretyakov has made an immoral decision, but ultimately succeeded. However, taking his attempt to defend himself at face value is a mistake. He has lied. And first of all, he has lied to himself. Happy people do not feel the need to advertise their happiness.

        He wasn’t happy at all. Before he committed a crime against the Russia, he has committed a crime against himself. His desire to explain his actions to other people actually served the need to prove to himself that he had done nothing wrong. Of course, it didn’t work. Man’s superego is like a warrior in a shining armor with a vengeful sword. It doesn’t listen to a rational argument.


        1. The bastard got 2 million bucks off uncle Sam for defecting in 2001 and he was resettled in Florida with his wife and daughter, but he didn’t defect for material gain — oh no! He defected because he wanted a better life for his wife and daughter, saw no future in Russia and thought the USA had one.

          His moral conscience had been stricken with the very idea of continuing to serve the Russian “regime”, see, and the criminals that were running it.

          And then, 9 years after having made his momentous moral decision to leave Russia and, having done so, having accepted, no doubt reluctantly, a $2 million hand out off the US government — just to help him get by, see — he went and died.

          How sad!


          1. It’s indeed an underappreciated tragedy. You felt angry at him for a moment, but imagine what kind of a life was it for him, despising himself all the time. Like living in a haunted castle you cannot leave.


        2. Those two paragraphs are even better than the review itself, and the line “Happy people do not feel the need to advertise their happiness” rises to the level of philosophy. Your ability to express yourself eloquently in English has grown by leaps and bounds. Well done.


          1. I read a Russian psychology blog, evo-lutio. Its owner regularly reviews letters about relationships.

            People less successful with building a relationship often committ some typical mistakes, which can be seen by answering some basic questions. Does that person honestly reflect on his own feelings? Does he have self-respect? Does he respect other people? If those basic checks pass, a person cannot have a trashy relationship.

            That doesn’t apply only to romantic relationships, but to other aspects of life, too.

            Sergey Tretyakov had certain issues on that very basic level, so even a reader not particularly versed in psychology would see them. I hope I didn’t say anything wrong. But the ideas are not really mine. 🙂


  39. Benny Netanyahu: “Israel perceives an historic opportunity to extend its sovereignty to existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the whole of the Jordan Valley. I’ve set July 1st as a start date for discussions with the Knesset on how and how quickly we can make this happen”.

    Mike Pompeo: “Gee; that sounds a little complicated. It’ll require coordination with Washington”.

    Rest of the World: “Ummm….don’t you mean, ‘No, you crazy Jewish fucker! That land belongs to other people, and in case you were confused, they’re still living on it!’ ?”

    As if everybody needed this on their plates along with everything else. 2020 is shaping up to be Year Of The Psycho. Benny just wants a distraction from his corruption trial and some red meat to throw to the Likudniks. Pompeo springs a chubby whenever anyone says ‘Israel’. A marriage made in heaven.

    It’s too bad there isn’t another habitable planet close by, within rocket range. Elon Musk could build a gigantic rocket, and Israel and the United States could be loaded into it and fired off to the new planet, where they could annex and conquer everything on it to their hearts’ content.


  40. The data we have been longing for –

    In a comment by Nick Kollerstrom TR M • a day ago

    Week No. Deaths 2019 No. Deaths 2020Well, please tell me I’m wrong, but here are the total US mortality figures per week, showing 5% LESS in 2020 compared to previous year –
    Week No. Deaths 2019 No. Deaths 2020
    1 58,291 59,087
    2 58,351 59,151
    3 58,194 57,616
    4 57,837 57,000
    5 58,128 56,426
    6 58,492 56,962
    7 57,917 55,981
    8 57,858 55,494
    9 57,920 54,834
    10 58,490 54,157
    11 57,872 52,198
    12 57,087 51,602
    13 56,672 52,285
    14 56,595 49,292
    15 55,477 47,574 => 10 April
    TOTAL 865,181 819,659
    from: Center for Disease Control
    Note how mortality goes DOWN once the ‘pandemic’ arrives.

    The data was copied to a spreadsheet for plotting and analysis. Column 1 is the week, column 2 is the mortality for that week in 2019 and column 3 is the mortality for the corresponding week in 2020. Column 4 is the ratio, week by week, of 2020 to 2019
    1 58,291 59,087 101.4%
    2 58,351 59,151 101.4%
    3 58,194 57,616 99.0%
    4 57,837 57,000 98.6%
    5 58,128 56,426 97.1%
    6 58,492 56,962 97.4%
    7 57,917 55,981 96.7%
    8 57,858 55,494 95.9%
    9 57,920 54,834 94.7%
    10 58,490 54,157 92.6%
    11 57,872 52,198 90.2%
    12 57,087 51,602 90.4%
    12 56,672 52,285 92.3%
    14 56,595 49,292 87.1%
    The trend is clear and consistent. – the Great Plague resulted in a weekly mortality of about 10% less than the preceding year.

    One cause for reduced mortality is the shutdown in the economy with a corresponding reduction in certain factors that contribute to death – traffic accidents, on the job accidents and possibly job released stress leading to heart attacks, etc. There certainly may be other factors in play as well. Correlating mortality to the extent of the lock-down should be revealing.

    Total mortality has yet to be reported in the MSM as far as I know.

    If the above data is as purported, the Great Plague resulted in a substantial reduction in fatalities. More recent data could strengthen the trend (or not).


    1. Thanks for that – very enlightening without being particularly surprising. Some western nations are enthusiastically tagging all their dead “COVID-19”.

      At 150,000 dead every day, which is a low estimate of the average daily worldwide mortality (the more recent 2019 results were about 10,000 a day higher than that) three months worth of pandemic in ordinary statistical mortality translates to about 13,500,000 dead, using 30-day months. Actual death toll attributed to COVID-19 worldwide according to WHO figures, 349,190.

      One day it might even be necessary to pass a holocaust-type law which criminalizes ‘denial of the pandemic’. The people must remain in awe of the Great Plague, and gratefully conscious of the part their government played in saving their lives. Perhaps every year on a date to be determined as the statistical middle of the ‘pandemic’, we will have a memorial ‘Clap for the Frontline Workers’ event, to be followed by three minutes’ silence.


      1. The West may be jealous of Russia’s Victory Day parades and the Immortal Regiment. We need something to one-up them. Criminalizing Plague Denial would be a great start.

        Yes, a day of remembrance. We will tell our grandchildren about our heroic struggles and how EVERY citizen and non-citizen fought the plague with frequent hand-washing, sanitizer and not going to restaurants and movies. We outdone the Russians with our own scorched-earth retreat – destroying the economy to deny the virus fresh victims. Sure, there were turncoats but they were ruthlessly purged from Twitter and YouTube as they should be. We will dazzle our grandchildren with stories about jobs, air travel, vacations and other things like not being fearful while standing in line. Only in that way will they understand the sacrifices we made for them.


    2. Russian Insider shite:

      Meanwhile, Belarus has emerged as the Sweden of the post-communist world, and its devil-may-care attitude threatens the legitimacy of Russia’s harsher response.

      No wonder an enraged Kremlin is keen to strike back. Russia has closed its borders with Belarus, even though they’re part of a union state.


      Chewing the carpets in the Kremlin are they?


      1. It’s all about the drama, innit? Russia’s ‘stay home’ policy is far from the harshest and is probably quite liberal compared with the UK and some other places where the police were tackling joggers and bearing them to the pavement. But Russia is a story that writes itself. No lockdown? Putin is careless of the pandemic’s impact, and fiddles while his people die. Lockdown? Putin is an authoritarian oppressor of human rights. Easiest journalistic gig in the world – you just have to write relentlessly negative. Lukashenko is brilliant, because he took no precautions. If Belarussians had died in droves, it would probably be because COVID-inflamed Russians staggered over the border and spread it. Lukashenko is a political darling at the moment, because every time he says “No” to Russia about anything, the western regime-changers start licking their chops and speculating how they can split Belarus off from Russia – maybe Lukashenko would like to join NATO!! Completely unnoticed is that Lukashenko did not take any of the actions the WHO insisted anyone who did not want to die must take.

        Canada’s borders with America are shut. Is Ottawa ‘enraged’? Is Washington? Someone must have gotten a huge slap in the face. Who was it?


  41. Rainsford of the BBC trying hard to find “good copy” on the Evil Empire and that shamdemic everyone is talking about:

    Coronavirus: Nightmare spreads through Russia’s care homes
    By Sarah Rainsford
    BBC News, Moscow
    6 hours ago

    Its a nightmare here, I’m teing ya! You better believe me!!!!

    This care home in Malakhovka near Moscow is closed to visitors and you need your temperature taken just to enter the grounds

    [They have been doing this at polyclinics (state medical centres) such as my local one right next door, and schools (such as my younger daughter’s, which issues food parcels fortnightly), and bureaucratic offices and businesses that have been allowed to operate since almost day 1 of the shamdemic. The above comment to the picture implies that “this care home” is an exception as regards its checking visitors’ temperatures. It is NOT!]

    Step 1. Concede that all is not so rosy in the free world “care homes” during this epidemic that threatens the whole of human civilization:

    When Alexei Sidnev saw the horror caused by coronavirus in European care homes he knew he had to act fast. Way back in March, before any lockdown in Russia, he began sealing off the six homes he runs near Moscow and buying-up protective clothing for staff.

    Just to show that she’s a truthful, objective journalist for the non-state controlled BBC, see.

    But there then immediately comes a rider to the above:

    Step 2. Anonymous sources who tell how bad things really are in general:

    But while the businessman shares his own trials on social media, the struggle in Russia’s state care sector plays out old-style, largely behind closed doors.

    “I know of many care homes right now fighting the virus, it’s just not public,” Mr Sidnev says.

    Do you really, gospodin Sidnev? Do tell!

    No? You prefer to remain silent?

    Alexei Sidnev is a “businessman”, not a corrupt russian state health service bureaucrat, remember!

    And Rainsford then quotes some unnamed state health worker helot, allegedly working in Smolensk:

    “What’s happening here is a nightmare,” a carer told the BBC by telephone, one of dozens from the state-run home who are now off sick after residents and staff caught coronavirus.

    At the start of this month, residents and staff began catching Covid-19 at this home in Smolensk.

    All those we spoke to asked to remain anonymous because they want to keep their jobs.

    You don’t say?

    Shocking! The necessity of remaining anonymous is so understandable! I mean, this is Russia we’re talking about! Keep your mouth shut or its the GULag for you!

    And now comes the biggie that Rainsford has been working towards:

    Sep 3. The big question:

    Is Russia unusual in Europe?

    Across Europe, frail care home residents account for up to half of all coronavirus fatalities.

    The figures in Smolensk are in line with the unusually low overall mortality rate that Russia is reporting in this epidemic, at around 1%.

    Hmmm …. that does seem somewhat different! How can this be?

    The government insists that’s down to early diagnosis and treatment, though it only counts those found to have died of Covid-19 directly.

    Don’t forget now! This is the RUSSIAN govt. Rainsford is talking about! And you all know, of course, how mendacious Russians are!

    The official mantra is that the country used its couple of weeks’ grace to good effect, bracing before the full force of Covid-19 hit.

    A hit! A very palpable hit, Rainsford!

    In the context of Rainsford’s “investigative” article: MANTRAa word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particular strong belief.

    [“Investigative”, that is, in that Rainsford is searching for evidence to back up the BBC “mantra” that everything in Russia is not really as it seems, that there is non-transparency, lies and subterfuge eveywhere in Russia, rather than searching for evidence in order to form the basis of a proposition.]

    Step 4: A verifiable source is quoted as regards Russian reaction to the unhappy shamdemic situation in the UK:

    “The statistics from the UK were terrifying and that helped places here hunker down, desperate not to let the virus in,” explains Elizaveta Oleskina, the head of the Starost’ v Radost (Joy in Old Age) charity which works with many state-run homes,

    which comment is immediately countered by:


    And here it comes!

    What we’ve been waiting for!

    A reference to a report from sociologists at … wait for it, wait for it! …. Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.

    And the experts at that establishment say that there has been:

    total concealment of incidents in care homes, driven by a fear of prosecution for negligence“.

    Step 5. Back to that nice gospodin Sidnev, he who seems almost normal (for a Russian):

    Alexei Sidnev believes in transparency, so that everyone learns vital lessons in this unprecedented crisis.

    But the man who runs six facilities called Senior Homes near Moscow suspects that old habits die hard.

    “We now know what happened roughly 30 years ago: we learned about it from an HBO series,” the businessman says, referring to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and Soviet cover-up, recently dramatised on TV.

    “The true amount of the death toll and what’s happening, we don’t really know,” he says. “Maybe we’ll find out later.”

    Keep on watching Western TV dramatizations, old boy, which reinforce your beliefs and way of looking at the world!

    Meanwhile, again from the BBC:

    Coronavirus deaths in US top 100,000
    5 hours ago


    1. Yes, the Russians are always ‘desperate’, aren’t they? ‘Desperately’ trying to keep COVID out of care homes. where – just like here – if it gets inside it kills all those frail, old people who are living on hope and a prayer, and the slightest illness which would complicate their condition would kill them. And you’re trying to keep out an illness that is undetectable by a simple test when the carrier is asymptomatic; you would have to do the swab-at-the-back-of-the-throat thing and send it off to the lab and wait two days for the results, and it just does not make sense to do that with staff every single day. The alternative is to pile some non-perishable food in the center of the floor with a can -opener, and shout “You’re on your own, kids!”

      In Quebec, half or more of the total deaths are in care homes. As usual, advocates say the approach to it was all wrong, and if people would just LISTEN, things like this would not happen. Their solutions, unsurprisingly, would cost considerably more money and push senior care out of the reach of many – you will often find economics at the root whenever a major crisis comes up and people wail “How could this HAPPEN???” Staff members who work in multiple facilities is a sensible precaution, and I am agreed that should not happen. And if all workers wore full PPE with a space helmet and independent closed-loop air supply all the time, the chances of Aunt Nancy catching a virus from any of them would be minimal, true, true. But you’re not going to find too many people willing to do a job like that for not much more than minimum wage. So employers would have to pay more, and consequently charge more, and pretty soon only Bill Gates can afford to keep his old mum in care, while the Aunt Nancys are in a back bedroom with a T-shirt tied around their head so we don’t have to listen to them.

      We certainly can keep contagious disease out of care homes, schools and many other facilities. But it will require a degree of freedom-limiting caution that the very great majority do not want to put up with, considering a ‘pandemic’ like this is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Kids do not want to ‘Moon-up’ just to go to school and talk to one another through a helmet microphone, and I loathe those fussy types in restaurants who whip out their tub of Lysol wipes as soon as they sit down and start disinfecting every surface big enough to hold a germ.

      As soon as an outbreak is contained and fades away, priorities shift. As I think I have mentioned before, we almost had plastic bags beat in British Columbia – the Plastic Bag Producers of Canada were on their knees weeping and begging for a stay of execution, while environment-conscious shoppers brought their own bags (made out of recycled plastic, of course, but at least you use the same bag over and over) and rejoiced in a future where winter trees would not be white with runaway plastic bags blown into the branches. And then, presto! along came COVID, and reusable bags were identified as a potential source of contamination! Into the loading bays came trucks groaning under the weight of one-use-only plastic bags, and not only did you have to use them if you needed a bag, they were free!! Meaning that you would pay for them in some other fashion, like higher food prices, because of course the grocery store is not a charity. And the plastic-bag makers relaxed, and smirked.

      That’s just an example, of course, and plastic bags are far from the major issue. But it is typical that M. Legault claims, “There is no higher priority than looking after our senior citizens”.

      “As the extent of the problem in the homes has become clear, Legault has stressed in his daily briefings that protecting the province’s seniors is the top priority.

      “They built Quebec,” he said Thursday. “We live in a fairer, richer, more beautiful society thanks to them and we have a duty to protect them.”

      Until there’s a problem with school nutrition, when middle-school students become the highest priority, or an ugly incident of racial hatred, when visible minorities become the highest priority – a moment, I might point out, when senior-care homes with their expensive moon-suits and staff having to glove up with a fresh set of rubber gloves every time the ones you’re wearing have touched something, is identified as elitist and wasteful.

      In Russia’s case, it cannot do anything right, and as soon as a story emerges, no matter how trivial, it must be examined for deception by the authorities. Your mother got a letter in her box that was addressed to someone else who does not live there? Well, how often does that happen, do you think? No, I realize you don’t know – but just give us your best guess. Is it endemic, would you say? What about the mail carriers – do they drink? Lousy pay, I imagine. No hope, yes, I totally understand – anyway, gotta go: I’ve got a story to file.

      Any time Russia releases stastistics, some cub reporter somewhere is tasked with finding out by how much they are lying, and what the possible reasons might be. Quite apart from the delightful prospect that perhaps there are far more dead Russians than the authorities are willing to admit, it nails down a narrative in which the west might have its problems, but at least it is mostly truthful, while Russia only looks good when it is blowing sunshine up your ass.


    1. Far more likely either shot on the spot or herded together and torched as is the Einsatzgruppen tradition. They didn’t operate in the west because they were fighting their civilized neighbors, with the exception of handful of famous cases where the SS executed escaped POWs. There’s quite a few films about that. Now imagine if it had happend on the same scale as was practiced in the east…

      BTW, it’s not ‘5th columnist’ ME, but filth columnist! The dollar is always greener over here…


      1. Oh, I must remember to make a call out for the regular Wermacht who for many decades got a clean bill of health from Historians covering the Eastern Front…. until it was somehow ‘discovered’ that the Wermacht were pretty bestial too, little banned on the battlefield and less than minimal respect of POW conventions. Think of all those poor Wermacht retirees dying in comfortable retirement homes surrounded by their grandchildren. I bet they never told, and no one asked ‘what did you do during the war, precisely?


      1. She appears to be wearing seven veils in case you haven’t noticed. Clearly itching to start dancing.


    1. For Russia to get along with America is simple – you just have to make an open blanket confession that you admit to whatever they say you did, and acknowledge that you are the lowest form of human life in the most abjectly corrupt society. It would not hurt if you hinted wistfully now and again how envious you are of America, the Great Big Giant Tit from which democracy and freedom flow like sweet, sweet balm. But that’s optional. See? You have lots of choice.

      And American analysts regularly express perplexity that anti-Americanism is both prevalent and rising in Russia. America only wants to take the single most inspirational moment in Russia – its triumph over the filth of Nazism – and turn it into a wretched intrigue of collusion by like-minded partners in barbarity against the forces of decency and light, to whose ranks they (the Russians) can never rise. It is a calculated and deliberate campaign of social engineering, and the Chinese are the latest beneficiaries of American propaganda; attitudes toward the Chinese are growing progressively negative and they are increasingly seen as sneaky low-lifes who are obsessed with stealing American technology. Chinese students – of which there are less and less in the USA every year – are not welcome to study disciplines like aeronautics or chemical engineering, because it is assumed they only want to steal American secrets to take home to China.

      Members of the Trump Administration have taken direct aim at China’s ambitions. Last fall, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that America and its allies must insure that “China retains only its proper place in the world.” During a visit to Europe, he said, “China wants to be the dominant economic and military power of the world, spreading its authoritarian vision for society and its corrupt practices worldwide.” The Administration’s argument, in its bluntest form, frames China as a hardened foe, too distant from American values to be susceptible to diplomacy. In April, Kiron Skinner, Pompeo’s director of policy planning, said in a public talk, “This is a fight with a really different civilization.” She added that China represented “the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian.” (The comments caused an uproar. In August, Skinner left the State Department.) Behind closed doors, Trump aides dismiss Skinner’s invocation of race. But they also liken China to such sworn enemies of America as Iran and the Soviet Union, and argue that only hard-line pressure can “crush” its expansion…

      Trump offers an impressionistic version of these facts. Discussing China over dinner with C.E.O.s, he reportedly said that “almost every student that comes over to this country is a spy.” In 2018, the U.S. government advised university administrators to be vigilant against the theft of biomedical secrets, and it cut the duration of visas available to Chinese graduate students working on advanced technology. Some schools believe the scrutiny is excessive. In an open letter in June, M.I.T.’s president, L. Rafael Reif, wrote that the cases of wrongdoing “are the exception and very far from the rule. Yet faculty members, post-docs, research staff and students tell me that, in their dealings with government agencies, they now feel unfairly scrutinized, stigmatized and on edge—because of their Chinese ethnicity alone.”

      Lai told me, “My dream was to be a lawyer.” But when she tried to combine a degree in law with aerospace or chemical engineering she was advised to look elsewhere. “These are sensitive majors,” she said. “If you study for a master’s degree, you would get restrictions from the American government.” She has no regrets about coming, but the longer she stays in America, the more she feels tempted to recede into a community of Chinese students.”

      Long, but worth reading in its entirety, and fairly even-handed about the faults of both positions.


  42. 2 days ago: Her Majesty’s Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson getting somewhat out of breath whilst being taken on a run in St. James’ Park, London by his pet pooch.

    Should there not be a law against the head of Her Majesty’s Government disgracing himself in such a way by appearing in public in such a slovenly state of undress?

    This is what proper prime ministers should dress like:

    The ever dapper Anthony Eden to the right, although Churchill lets the side down somewhat by his impersonation of Saakashvili, albeit the photograph above was taken some 24 years before that Georgian idiot was born.

    That’s better, chaps! Strolling down to the House from Downing Street in the early years of that war against Nazi Germany what was won by England.


    1. I was wondering the same – common, innit? Some people just walk round like nobody is looking. Might as well show up in your bathrobe and ask where would be a good place to shave.


      1. Yeah, clearly an uncouth Northerner, namely anyone north of Potter’s Bar, Hertfordshire — and, I mean, what could be less couth than someone from Middlesborough?

        A Scouser, perhaps?



        1. Leeds United under Revie were dirty bastards!

          Just had to get that one in! 🙂

          Especially that poison dwarf Bremner!


    2. The fellow with the cigarette does look a wee bit as if he’s been Photoshopped into the photo. He is not wearing or carrying a trilby and he does not appear to have a handkerchief in the top left-hand part of his jacket beneath the lapel on his left-hand side. In those days it was the custom for men to wear hats and women to wear hats and gloves (or at least carry gloves openly) while strolling about on city streets.


  43. US Military Using New Data Collection System Designed For War in Pandemic Response

    Pentagon sees new JADC2 system as vital for beating China, Russia in military confrontations

    …According to Defense One, Northcom received a briefing on April 14th that said Stamford, Connecticut was about to become a Covid-19 hotspot. The briefing used data and predictions collected by a sub-system of the JADC2, which Northcom developed with Apple, Google, Palantir, and the intelligence company ESIR. The system uses AI to make predictions based on analyzed data…

    The US’s forever faith in a ‘Silver bullet’ solution to all its ills never ceases to amaze me. I guess it is an easy sell rather than millions of your own civilian dead not to mention a lot of body bags. There was a report the other day that the USAF is lowering (literally) its requirement so as to allow more women to become pilots. Reducing the height restriction will significantly increase the potential pool of candidates.

    This is what is has come to: there are too many fat, unhealthy men so the US military needs women – not because women are equal and sometimes better at men in combat. Well that’s a backhanded slap in the face if there ever was one but if we look to history, women’s rights have singularly accelerated after they were asked to pitch in and ‘help the chaps’ in WWI & WWII. From western progressive, civilized and egalitarian societies no less!


    1. As the article points out, modeling of international conflicts has the USA regularly losing to China. How do they imagine this would help? AI recommendations are made on the basis of what sensor input tells the decision-maker. In the example used in the article, the writer postulated the US General might see the enemy was preparing for a bomber attack, and quickly and seamlessly select a different weapon. How difficult is it going to be to make it LOOK like you are preparing for a bomber attack, through creative use of media leaks and rollaway fake defenses? Just as an example. The Sun Tzu School of Psyching Out Your Opponent is going to see a renaissance.


  44. I enter this in to evidence that everything for t-Rump is Presidential erection PR fodder:

    MSN via Trump Is Offering to Mediate in the India-China Border Dispute. Here’s What to Know About the Escalating Tensions


    It really doesn’t matter how laughable the subject is, t-Rump is all over it being Prezidential. There’s only one thing to say about him, he has continued as he started. But surely he must know that this all has a limited shelf-life? I suppose that if he is re-elected – and it is still my contention that it is for him to lose – the Dems can still take comfort in spoiling his first term somewhat, rather like the Reps did to O-Bomber in his first term.

    As for the story itself, the lamestream media is bigging it up unecessarily because there is not such thing as moderation or proportion, but there is DRAMA!


  45. SCMP via China brands Canada ‘accomplice’ of US, as Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou loses bid to have extradition case thrown out

    Canadian judge rules that the US fraud charges against Meng satisfy the ‘double criminality’ rule, and her extradition case must continue

    China’s embassy blasts the ruling, accusing Canada of taking part in a ‘grave political incident’ and saying it should ‘not go further down the wrong path’

    Place your bets Stooges! a) she will be extradited; b) she will be held until after the Prezidential erection; c) she will continue to be held and used as a bargaining chip for another MAGA deal with China.

    I’m for ‘b’ though ‘c’ I think is closest coz the US needs anything and everything as bargaining leverage because it has no soft power left.


    1. I don’t see how she could be used for bargaining because the US’s objective is to destroy Huawei completely, or so limit its international reach that nobody in North America will buy a Huawei phone because they don’t work here. I expected her case to lose in this stage because as the article I linked pointed out, only about 1% of all cases tried by this standard failed to meet it. Doubtless the families of The Two Michaels are in despair, because any chance of their release just vanished. Well, that will be it for a few more months on the question of trade with China – I guess we will be eating our own pork for awhile. Which reminds me -meat is getting very expensive, mostly due to meat-packing plants being shut down because of The Plague. That’s good news for Canadian hog farmers, because later on in the year we will be inundated again with cheap pork from the USA that they can’t sell to China.

      It has mystified me from the outset why China has been so reluctant to drop the hammer on American companies operating in China, and I guess the answer is because America is such a big market; they are still hoping to smooth things over so they can continue selling to the USA. But Trump is basically daring them to do something with his determination to wreck a major Chinese technology company. If I were the Chinese, I would start with Boeing. China, as I have pointed out numerous times in the past, is the world’s major growth market for airliners. Boeing is taking increasingly desperate-looking measures to remain afloat, cutting its executive management in half and laying off 12,000 workers in the USA alone, with another 1000 layoffs projected down the pike.

      As usual – and paradoxically, to me – the market reacted with approval, as the venture capitalists celebrated the loss of 12,000 US jobs with a judgment that it had made the company more likely to survive, and consequently worth more money. The company also restarted production of the 737, although God knows where they think they’re going to sell it.

      There was speculation just about a year ago that China would use Boeing as an example in the trade war.

      At that time, China merely hinted it might ‘reduce’ its purchases of Boeing aircraft. That caused a near 5% drop in Boeing’s shares, and 117 points of the DJIA’s 600-point drop for the day. Think what cancellation of all China’s Boeing orders would do to the company. Think what cancellation of all of china’s orders plus all of Russia’s orders for Boeing products plus a Russian embargo on the export of titanium would do to Boeing.

      Boeing received no orders from China in 2018, the first time in 16 years that had happened. About a third of Boeing’s 737 MAX orders are for China.

      But you are absolutely correct that the USA has no soft power left. It started throwing it away under Dubya Bush, and Obama briefly slowed the draining away, then resumed it. There wasn’t really much left by the time Orangeman appeared on the scene, and he was quick to let everyone know he is a hardass who has no time for any schmoozing with other countries – all stick, no carrot. So all it has left are sanctions and more sanctions, and trade embargoes that only hurt American producers, because all customers have to be skeptical of a trade partner who orders you to buy its product, or else, and forbids you from buying from those on its shit-list.


  46. Neuters via Australia drops probe of journalist over use of classified documents

    …and determined there is insufficient evidence to progress the investigation in relation to the unauthorised disclosure of the classified document” by Smethurst. ..

    …“No one will be prosecuted in relation to this unauthorised disclosure,” McCartney told reporters….

    …The journalists’ trade union welcomed the police decision but warned that laws remained in place that could lead to any Australian journalist facing the same treatment…

    Move on. China’s still the enemy people.


    1. It seems not to matter how many stories break in the west which detail how voracious their own h=governments are for more of their personal information – bank accounts, text messages, emails…it’s getting to the point that if you are a suspect in something, they don’t even need to send the police ’round to investigate. They can do that from police headquarters, and make a decision based on everything they have learned from trawling through your personal information. And yet every time they start up again about how ‘authoritarian’ this or that leader is and how his minions are forever snooping on their fellow citizens, westerners get all wide-eyed and outraged, and allow as how that should absolutely not be allowed to continue, someone ought to do something about it.


  47. Neuters via Ukraine government approves memorandum on U.S. LNG

    Ukraine’s government on Wednesday approved a memorandum on the prospect of importing at least 5.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year from the United States, according to a televised meeting.

    Acting energy minister Olga Buslavets said the memorandum envisages Louisiana Natural Gas Exports Inc as the seller. ..

    Freedumb… that’s not free! Who could say no?


  48. According to Izvestia, the USA’s new sanctions against Chinese companies are likely to be responded to with Chinese countermeasures against Boeing, Apple, Cisco and Qualcomm.

    As previously discussed, a third of Boeing’s 737 orders were going to China.

    Apple has considerable exposure to China and sees it as a vital growth market. The company was quite chuffed that its sales in May were up 160% over April, but iPhone sales in China dropped a staggering 60% year-on-year in February. That’s mostly because stores were closed, but we will see how much sales come back when the government gets around to prioritizing Huawei and the company is regarded as a patriotic choice in the face of American attempts to ruin it.

    Apple’s tablet sales dropped 42.5% year-on-year in China in the first quarter, and they were overtaken by Huawei.

    Cisco has been disinvited completely, no longer allowed to bid for Chinese business. Hardly a surprise, since photography of a Tailored Access Operations facility for the NSA showed the technicians opening a Cisco router and installing firmware that yields – according to an NSA manager – ‘some of the most productive operations…because they pre-position access points into hard target networks around the world’. Don’t forget, though, that it is the heathen Chinee who are big on stealing secrets.

    According to Barrons, two-thirds of Qualcomm’s annual revenue for 2017/18 came from China. Likely it had already started to run down operations in China in 2019, since Trump’s trade war was already bad for business.

    The decoupling of supply chains and the establishment of new ones has profound implications not just for trade, but for access to information and the state of future tech. This is why Washington is pushing so aggressively for its allies to come on board for a bloc-based 5G network – because the day will come when if you have to travel to China on business, you’ll need a ‘China phone’, because your iPhone won’t work and won’t connect to the network. By pressuring allies into a common comm network with the United States, Washington is setting the stage for China to gradually be excluded from the US-owned trading bloc. And, naturally, it wants as many customers as possible for American products.

    The decoupling of supply chains would push countries to restrict access to their markets based on US-China alignment. The placement of manufacturing facilities has been a significant bargaining chip for smartphone vendors looking to gain access to the world’s largest markets. In India, for instance, Apple and Samsung opened manufacturing facilities to unlock more favorable market access, including lower tariffs. As Huawei looks to develop an independent smartphone supply chain, it will likely leverage manufacturing opportunities to establish more favorable access to consumer markets.

    If smartphone supply chains continue to divide in response to the escalation of US-China trade tensions, then access to consumer markets could become increasingly dependent on the manufacturing alignment of that country. This would significantly diminish the target markets for the top global smartphone vendors, sequestering Apple and Samsung from the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi, and vivo.


  49. Here’s an easy one – guess who’s holding up the construction of Nord Stream II?

    If you said, “The Danish!”, please advance to the International Championship round. Yes, having stalled and dithered until their US masters had their game all ready, and queered the deal for the pipeline getting an exemption because it wasn’t completed before May 23rd, the Danes are again stalling with a pretty clear goal in mind; holding up the commencement of construction until the closure of the Eastern Baltic for July and August, for the annual regional cod spawning period.

    The problem this time is that the barge which must accompany the AKADEMIK CHERSKIY – because the barge has the crane and the pipe-welding tools on it – does not have a dynamic positioning system (DPS). The AKADEMIK CHERSKIY does, and I believe the strategy originally envisioned was that the two would be moored together, so the pipelayer’s DPS could keep them both stationary. The FORTUNA must hold her position with 12 anchors, and the Danes are kicking up stink because this ‘could disturb old munitions on the seabed’. Of course that concern will have vanished when it’s time for the Baltic Pipe to go through.

    If they can stall long enough, the resumption of construction will have to be put off until September at the earliest, by which time Uncle Sugar will have thought up his next move.

    The short article was also interesting because it suggested a way around the application of European rules which say Gazprom could not use more than 50% of Nord Stream II’s capacity, and would have to reserve the rest for competitors – bring Rosneft on board to make up the other half. And indeed negotiations are underway to that end.

    Meanwhile, AKADEMIK CHERSKIY has apparently taken on a load of pipes and departed Mukran, going to anchor nearby. I wonder how difficult, to say nothing of expensive – it would be to install a DPS system on the FORTUNA? If it is doable, it begs the question why it was not done earlier. The requirement by the Danes for a DPS was known long since.


  50. Who’s behind the release of tape recordings produced in Ukraine which detail Biden pushing for Shokin to be fired, and Poroshenko’s obsequious crawling to the Trump administration? Well, you know, don’t you? Russia. Naturally, Putin is behind it, although they were released in Ukraine by a Ukrainian politician who acknowledged responsibility for them and their release. It’s probably Putin wearing his face, like in “The Silence of the Lambs”.

    “Herbst said the release of the tapes was probably linked to pro-Russian interests and could undermine U.S. efforts to root out rampant corruption in Ukraine and institute sweeping reforms for good governance.

    “This is a ploy by various vested interests,” he said. “The vested interests are, on one hand, the Kremlin, Kremlin-friendly Ukrainians and corrupt interests in Ukraine that realize the sorts of things those tapes describe in distorted and sensationalist fashion is bad for them. Because all the vested interests do not want a Ukraine that reforms.”

    I invite everyone to join me in being tired of hearing about Ukrainian reforms. ‘Reforms’ is just another word for “we get moneys if we say it”. More than half of the country’s GDP is still controlled by its oligarchy, and that is probably not going to change any time soon, especially considering the past president – still active in politics – was one of them. Now you are invited to believe the Kremlin and its servants arranged the release of the taped recordings because they fear Ukrainian reforms which are not really happening, but the USA and NATO and the IMF pretend they are because they can’t officially support Ukraine if it makes no progress.

    Horseshit. I rest my case:


    1. From Global Security:

      “US military assistance to Ukraine has been under intense scrutiny for years, given Kiev’s five-year-old frozen civil war in the Donbass region, which has claimed over 13,000 lives and left tens of thousands injured …”

      And of those 13,000 lost lives, how many were those of the the “Punishment Battalions”, how many were “terrorists” supported by “the Kremlin”, how many were Ukrainian civilians killed by the “terrorists” and how many were Ukrainian civilians killed by the Ukrainian army and the “Punishment Battalions”?


    1. Come on – throw them a bone, here. Tell them a million have died, and you were lying because you were afraid of freedom and democracy. The western media would lose consciousness from a joy orgasm. Better yet, let them pick the number. Call the BBC and ask for Sarah Rainsford’s and Shaun Walker’s telephone numbers, tell them the Kremlin will call them daily for the Coronavirus death numbers. Shaun will get them from some little old pensioner in Samara who is afraid to give her name because she fears retaliation by Putin.

      The numbers remind me of a joke my younger daughter is fond of telling; “Last year, he said he was 63 – now,. he’s 64: which IS it, Obama?”

      The USA and UK are more concerned about the COVID Death toll in Russia than in their own countries. Just tell them the situation is out of control and you are doomed. Then they’ll be happy, because that’s the picture they’re trying for.


  51. Can someone explain the Hong Kong thing to me? As far as I understand it

    a) the HK legislature has the right to pass laws if it has a majority;

    b) a bunch of Honkies (as Hong Kongers call themselves) funded by America protested (caused massive riots) a new law (that would have stopped a Chinese criminal hiding in HK because it has no extradition treaty with China) because they think it is a power grab and the HK is not somehow part of China;

    c) Beijing introduces its own law as the HK leg failed to do its job, hence another backlash (though his may be to put pressure on the HK legislature to follow through with its own law);

    d) the US and friends is now threatening the whole of HK, including its US paid Honkies and fellow hamsters by withdrawing preferential trade agreement;

    Have I got anything of this wrong?

    The irony is that UK papers and commentariat today are hailing UK gov ‘plans’ to extend preferential visa regime that may eventually lead to UK citizenship.. even though it was the UK that refused Honkies the universal right of UK citizenship when it handed HK back to China. Why does anyone still trust the Brits ffs? I guess it will help boost the housing market in London and give the UK’s lopsided GDP a bump…


    1. SCMP: Hong Kong national security law: US gets little backing with hard line on China, as other countries steer clear of threats

      As the US prepares to unveil policy action against China over the new Hong Kong national security law, other nations prefer not to rock the boat

      Some governments fear ‘touching a raw nerve in Beijing’, while others prefer to protect business interests with world’s second largest economy

      Soft power? There are some howlers in the piece too where an Auztrian diplocrap compared it to ‘Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.


      1. “US assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, David Stilwell, told a briefing on Wednesday evening that “our job at the State Department is to do things that coordinate with ‘like-mindeds’ and get them to – those who share our ideas to stand up, be counted”.

        Perhaps this should be looked at from another perspective, one in which the number of ‘like-mindeds’ is dwindling. And conversely, that the number of MYOFB’s is growing.

        I’ve never seen a country like the United States for wanting to help break up other countries into little independent pieces, each shouting its own vision of freedom and democracy while Uncle Sam looks on with a benevolent smile. Yet it is written right into the US Constitution that it is ‘one nation, under God, indivisible’ – so nobody better be trying any independence movements in any of its constituent states, while ambitious presidents like Trump seek to buy entire countries so as to make it even bigger and richer and more important. Does Washington not imagine that other large countries might look at the USA and see a Hawaii, an Alaska that would make a dandy little country on its own? Or that maybe the New England states might make a nice addition to Canada? What is its position on that? That all American states are already so free and democratic that it would be impossible for anything to improve upon their current status? What would its response be to overtures from another major power seeking to establish, nurture and maintain independence movements in US states that looked ripe for sedition? Would it welcome even more freedom for individual states to determine their own destinies? It sure as hell would not.

        Yet all other governments are supposed to stand down and put a sock in it, whilst the USA tinkers and meddles as it wishes.


        1. It is abundantly clear that the US government follows policies that are in the best interests of the USA – better said, of those who control the US government and economy. In this matter, the USA is no different to any other developed country. However, what sticks in my craw, and has done so since I was a lad, is that an unending torrent of bullshit issues forth from Washington that maintains that all that the USA does as regards its policies both at home and broad is in the name of freedom and democracy (whatever those terms are intended to mean in politics) and for the common good of mankind – and for womankind too, I should add, and also for women who want to have a dick or for men who want to have a pussy and so on.

          Why do they bullshit so? Why do they shoot so much shit about the “American Dream”?

          I have been recently watching events as they have been developing in Minneapolis. What a sewer!

          I am off back to the dacha this afternoon, where I shall be free and nobody will tell me what to do, apart from my Russian dominatrix. In fact, my going there indicates the degree of freedom that I enjoy here in Mordor, in that by ignoring gospodin Sobyanin’s restrictions concerning travelling during this bullshit shamdemic, to say nothing of his insulting treatment of those whom he believes are in their dotage, such as I, I am giving him the old 2-fingured salute.

          Only problem is that it has been pissing down for a couple of days here now.

          Summer starts the day after tomorrow, so I’m off to the sticks, deluge or not!


            1. For those who have scant knowledge of the wonderful Russian tongue (I am NOT being cynical: it is!), the above reads:

              left: How good it is that they have shot the landlord!

              right: Special Offer!

              Hand over 2 neighbours WHO ARE WALKING AROUND the yard

              and RECEIVE as a gift

              a 30 minute WALK

              I have just received online an electronic pass that allows me to travel out to the sticks today. I shall return to Moskva on Monday evening, as I have to do that bloody idiotic annual registration of my address business with bloody boneheaded bureaucrats here on Tuesday.

              The pass that I received was, until Sobyanin’s very recent order from on high, called “a pass for any other reason”, namely not for simply going to work, going to a hospital, seeing a doctor, getting medicine or to visit a whorehouse etc., etc. : now it is a pass for going for a bloody walk as well, hence the above illustration that appeared in the Russian blogosphere the other day.

              And it’s all a load of bollocks!!!!


    2. Hong Kong Crown Colony was a prime example of beneficial, paternalistic British rule, where the equality of its citizens under the law and human rights were vehemently maintained by successive British governments — I think not!

      Hong Kong became part of the British Empire as a result of the criminal activities of that august organization when it was seized by the British following the Opium Wars of the 1840s, when the then decrepit Chinese Empire was being set upon by European imperialists.

      I had an acquaintance who, pissed off with working down the pit, joined the Hong Kong police force. He returned to the UK, after having been sickened by police activities there. He got a nice uniform there though.


      1. A fine fictionalized-but-basically-true story of the free hand the west once enjoyed in China, in which they were the conquerors and the Chinese serfs in their own land, is ‘The Sand Pebbles’. A search for an in-depth synopsis suggests those who wrote about the film were much more interested in the actors and their careers than background events, but I never saw the film; I read the book, over and over. The patient semi-contempt of the English and the Americans for the Chinese and their savage customs and culture are the backbone to those countries’ current faith in their own moral and cultural superiority, and that all must make way before their civilizing influence.


        1. I recall reading about a gross act that is described somewhere in a book written about the tea clippers such as the “Cutty Sark”, that plied their way between China and the UK. (I have always had a great interest in sailing ships.)

          The book, if I rightly recall, was written by possibly the last British sailor who was a crewman on board a full-rigged ship. He was from Liverpool and he used to give talks about his life “before the mast”. (He also had a huge repertoire of sea shanties that he sang, accompanied by a small squeeze box – I forget now what the instrument is called.)

          The last sailing ship he helped crew was a four-masted barque. He died about 20 years ago.

          Anyway, in this book of his that I read, he quoted from the dairy kept by a 19th century British tea clipper sailor, where a jolly jape by one of his crew mates was described.

          Apparently, while at anchor in the Shanghai roads, such tea clippers used to be mobbed by Chinese traders in their sampans. The diarist recounted how one such sampan was bobbing alongside the ship bows below the “heads” – the place where crewmen stuck out their arses so as to answer the call of nature.

          In this sampan, the Chinese had gathered around a big pan of rice, which they were eating, whereupon one of the the diarist’s crew mates went to the heads and shat into the bowl of rice below.

          This act was believed to have been hilarious, at least by the British sailors.

          Just shows you how superior to Chinese culture that of the British was!


          1. A concertina, that’s what that old salt played! He used to intersperse his talks and yarns with sea shanties.


              1. I got to see the Tall Ships as a group several times, usually in port and on both coasts of Canada, but once we shared a port visit to Bermuda with the Argentine tall ship LIBERTAD.


                She was a sight to stir the soul; not rigged as in the picture, all sails were lashed up for coming alongside, but the sailors were all at their stations for entering harbour, out at the ends of the yards, and wearing their white trousers and striped blue-and-white shirts. It was impressive, and unforgettable.

                I was at sea also in ’84 when the British barque MARQUES sank on her way to Halifax, although we were nowhere near her at the time.



                1. I once had the great pleasure of being invited as a guest on board the Russian — at that time “Soviet” — sail training ship “Kruzenshtern”, formerly the German four-masted barque “Padua”, which those dastardly Russkies had nicked off Fritz when they captured Königsberg in 1944. She used to be in the South American nitrate trade, in which it was still economically viable to use sail well into the last century.

                  She had docked in Liverpool for a tall ships festival there and I recall how all the cadets went on a spending spree in Liverpool in search of microchips. That was in 1988, when I was a student in that city.

                  As a kid, I used to ride out on the train to Liverpool just to see the ships in the Mersey. The “Empress of Canada” sailed from there to Toronto, I think. A Canadian Pacific ship, believe. I think she was the reason that there arose a yearning in me to emigrate to Canada.


                2. Yes, I’ve been aboard, in Halifax, and seen her here in Victoria as well.

                  Here she is arriving, that same year, in North Vancouver for the winter Olympics. I wonder how many observers though the Russian Navy still consisted of sailing ships.

                  Many if not most of the Tall Ships are sail-training vessels for officer cadets in their national navies – so far as I am aware, KRUZENSHTERN is no exception, and is crewed by future naval officers. The atmosphere aboard was decidedly military when I visited her in the 80’s in Halifax, when I knew only one word in Russian – “Spasiba”.


                3. ON the Mersey, not “in” the Mersey!!!

                  That bloody spellchecker again, though when I was a child, there were very many ships literally in the Mersey estuary, wrecks of Liberty ships that had been bombed by the Luftwaffe as they rode at anchor, waiting to dock.


                4. I recall that there were many Russian devushki cadets on board the “Kruzenshtern” when I was on board her when I was a 39-year-old “mature student”. That was when I first witnessed the pulchritude of very many Russian women. I was to set off for the USSR the following year as part of my Russian language studies. Couldn’t wait to get there! 😛


                5. It was an all-male crew as far as I knew, at least that’s all I saw when I was aboard. But during my first visit to Vladivostok, which would be 7 years later, my head was like it was on a swivel trying to take in all the beauties.


                6. I was once on board the russian sail ship Sedov. I bought a lot of souvenirs with evil communist symbols on them.. (Medals, coins, uniform badges++)

                  Sedov was originally a german ship, just like the Statsraad Lehmkuhl here in Bergen.

                  Both ships were stolen from Germany by UK after Germany lost wars (ww2 and ww1).

                  UK sold Statsraad Lehmkuhl to Mr. Lehmkuhl and gave Sedov to Stalin…


                1. I remember seeing a photograph once a shipmate showed me, of the assembled starboard engineering watch of one of the Dutch oilers – the Zuiderkruis or the Poolster, I forget now which of them. About half were girls, and some of them were spectacular. It was incomprehensible to me then how a man could work around them; I would never have been able to get anything done. Of course, I was a much younger man then, and thought of little else but girls and sex. I’m older now, and things have changed; women in non-traditional roles like that are commonplace. But I don’t know that it has entirely brought improvement, as it has ushered in an age of strict political correctness which has taken a lot of the camaraderie out of the workplace.


                2. Shit! That didnt work because I’m I’m using my iPhone and fucked the linked article up, as per bloody usual!

                  Here’s the link, pure and simple.:


                  Liked by 1 person

                3. In my personal experience, no military is ready for women in combat roles unless the unit is all-female, because if women are captured alive by the enemy, men in the unit will take unacceptable risks to free them. You need look no further than the Jessica Lynch story to realize that – it was a complete put-up job from the first and little more than a rah-rah piece of American-exceptionalism porn, but it played directly to stereotypes that military men do not let their women get raped by the enemy; it’s an unacceptable insult to your entire society. It makes no difference that Lynch was very well treated by the Iraqi medical personnel, and they even tried to take her in an ambulance and return her to her own side, but the vehicle was fired upon by American forces and could not approach close enough. They had her, in seclusion and unprotected, and they could have been raping her.

                  Also in my own personal experience, there is little difference in the way women and men perform in military roles. Some of each group either love it or hate it, some of each group are very good, good, satisfactory or abysmal at it. I had my own favourite team for Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) in the operations room, and roughly half of them were women. Sylvia Reade was the best Air Raid Reporting Operator (ARRO) I ever worked with – she had a loud voice that cut through the chatter, a brain that excelled at reading the air picture and noticing the exact moment a contact turned to start closing, and keyboard skills that helped her get the contact tagged and out on data-link to the rest of the force in less time than it took me to type this sentence. Half my work was already done – I only needed to hook the identified target and assign a weapon to it.

                  Things may have changed in the way that military men and women relate to each other, but I frankly doubt it. There is a bond between men who have served together, but less so between men and women, and every time that starts to evolve and we start to see each other as friends, another “RAPE IN THE MILITARY!!!” piece is released, and we go back to our own sides of the line again. It’s difficult to explain unless you have been part of it, but comradeship does not seem to be able to bridge the gender gap. A useful example is that of Captain Sandra Perron, our first female Infantry officer, and in the feared Royal 22nd Regiment, no less; the legendary Van Doos.


                  By all accounts she did her job, and did it well. But she was never accepted. Her career was finished by a cover photo of her in Macleans Magazine, barefoot in the snow and tied to a tree. It was part of an exercise at Gagetown, New Brunswick, and while it was rough (something like the Escape and Evasion Course), she did not come to any real harm. But it became a political cause celebre overnight, and everyone began to take sides – some perceived she had sent the photo herself, as a protest to how shitty women were treated in the military. I don’t know how they got it, but it wasn’t that. But people could not get over that image – what if it wasn’t her own guys doing that to her? What if it was the Taliban, or ISIS?

                  As far as success in the Navy goes, stand aside, Russia. My old Combat Officer in HMCS VANCOUVER, Josee Boisclair, is a Commodore now, as Josee Kurtz.


                  The last time I had occasion to look her up for any reason, she was Commanding Officer of HMCS HALIFAX, the lead ship of the HALIFAX class frigates. The Powers That Be in the navy told her when she was a comparatively-lowly Lieutenant that she was destined for greatness, and I guess they weren’t kidding.


                  VANCOUVER was quite early in her career, and at that time, on my watch, I was the only male in the ‘Back Row’. There are two rows of sensor consoles in the Operations Room (no such thing as radar and sonar any more, all sensors are accessible from all generic consoles, although only the back row and the Anti-Submarine Air Controller (ASAC) consoles have firing buttons); the Front Row is the ASAC and all the operators, surface and air tracking and picture compilation. The Back Row is Command Row; the Captain (although his chair is almost always empty, he or she is usually on the Bridge), the Combat Officer or Operations Officer, the Sensor-Weapons Coordinator (SWC, that was me) and the Assistant Sensor Weapons Coordinator (ASWC, more often known as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer) which on my watch was also a female, Lieutenant Kim Payne. At that time Lt(N) Boisclair was quite tall and skinny, with long arms and legs and a great bush of hair that was often sticking everywhere. It’s dark in the Operations Room, and one day someone glimpsed her in silhouette and remarked “Jeez; she looks like Sideshow Bob” (from The Simpsons).


                  Whose real name, I am astonished to learn, is Robert Underdunk Terwilliger. Anyway, it stuck.


                4. It was incomprehensible to me then how a man could work around them

                  I think people (men) would adjust much more quickly, particularly in close quarters for weeks or months on end. It’s definately cutural. I seem to recall the scandies have had women on submarine for quite a long time. There’s a picture somewhere (we’ve posted about this before) of a USN ship passing a scandie submarine with their crew on deck. The ladies had pulled their tops up to flash the American crew… As much as I’d like to work in a chocolate shop, I suspect that after a week I’d barely notice.


                5. I visited an American supply/logistics ship once, in Halifax; I was on some course or other, and we all went down to visit the American ship and were given a tour. Our tour guide was a very pretty young junior officer; the USN at that time employed women aboard only in non-combat roles, although a supply ship is as likely to eat a missile as any other and is a preferred target to a destroyer. Anyway, we were encouraged to ask questions, and I asked the sailor at whatever station we were visiting what he thought about serving with women. He plainly did not like being put on the spot with her standing right there, but he answered honestly; “I don’t like it. I work in the engine room, and if somebody like her is down there, only half my guys are working and the others are jacking around, trying to impress her”.

                  It probably was like that then, but women have been part of combat crews for a long time now, although when they were first posted to active-service warships they were usually assigned as supply officer or administration officer. I guess it sank in quite quickly that there was nothing protective about such a policy as if a ship is hit, it could be anywhere and is not necessarily going to hit wherever the real warriors are. So now the combat officer or weapons officer, or both, is as likely as not to be a woman. I find them pretty much the same as men – some are a pleasure to work for, and some are bitches. Luck of the draw.

                  I did notice, though, that there were some surprised glances when we were in port and the crew were all going ashore for a few wets in the nearest dive. Military uniforms, especially the working rig, are not designed to be flattering, and when the lads saw their erstwhile shipmates going ashore in that little black dress with a touch of lipstick, they often barely recognized them.


          2. I’m afraid situations the rest of the world find disgusting appeal to the sense of humour of sailors everywhere, and behaviors that would be intolerable ashore are tolerated or ignored aboard. That particular example is pretty bad, and it does illustrate the contempt in which the Chinese people were held by visiting westerners. In drinking establishments ashore – so I have read; the only drinking establishment I have ever been in in China was a Hard Rock Cafe in Shanghai, and things had changed a bit in 80 years – it would be assumed any women present were whores, and so it was all right to feel them up while they were trying to serve you, that sort of thing.

            I was told firsthand by a shipmate who had done a crossdeck tour with one of our consorts in a RIMPAC exercise, a Korean warship – it would have been either the CHEON NAM or KYONG BUK, we called them “Itchy” and “Scratchy”, from the cartoon the Simpsons kids are always watching because they were always fighting over the radio – that homosexuality was quite overt and widespread in the Korean Navy; he said he was afraid to stand up for three days. Everybody seemed to have his ‘sea boyfriend’, and it was considered quite normal – people have urges, there aren’t any women. So far as I am aware, that doesn’t mirror South Korean culture ashore where you are not stuck for choice, although generally speaking the Asian cultures regard homosexuality more philosophically than western culture. The latter seems split these days into extremes – the middle ground that just wants to ignore it is shrinking steadily as it is compressed between a majority that loathes it and a minority of prancing activists that wants to normalize and celebrate it.

            I did not notice homosexuality was common in the Canadian or US Navies; it existed, of course, as it always has, but known homosexuals were scattered and few – any ship that had more than one was invariably dubbed “The Love Boat”, for that early-80’s sitcom. I knew and worked with some, and they were good guys, good at their jobs and they seemed to get along well with everyone and everyone liked them. But none of them were activists who made a big deal about it, and so far as I knew none had relationships with anyone else on board. However, Asian cultures often find westerners intolerant overall and cannot understand our attitude toward such things.

            I had always, since joining the navy, wanted to visit Hong Kong, and did in 2008 during the WESTPLOY (Western Deployment) preceding that year’s RIMPAC exercise. I had heard tales for years of how we usually painted the ship in Hong Kong, and that the Chinese would do it for the garbage, which they would take ashore in a barge. I don’t know how that ever got started, but if anyone ever tells you that, it’s not true. It is true that Chinese crews provided both garbage-removal services and hull painting (they painted HMCS REGINA, from stem to stern, from water craft in the middle of the harbour, in two days), they were paid for both in cash at the going rate. Crazy stories get started at sea and persist for years, and likely some thicko saw the Chinese doing both and made a non-existent connection. But it serves to illustrate what many believed and might still – that the Chinese are so poor that our castoffs are riches to them. Might be so in a few cases, but that’s true here in Canada as well.


    3. You missed the bit between (c) and (d) where the US determined that HK is no longer “autonomous” so it will now support HK by withdrawing all preferential trade agreements with the territory.

      As that Chinese Lego cartoon Patient Observer put up on the comments forum attached to the last KS post observed, the US is consistent in being contradictory.

      Of course if and when the UK eventually extends its visa regime to Hong Kong residents, it’ll probably be in the form of a “wealthy investor” investment scheme whereby to qualify for being fast-tracked for UK citizenship, an HK resident has to agree to invest the equivalent of 2 million pounds sterling in British industry, though the reality will be that the money will eventually either end up in City of London property speculation or sloshing in a trust fund in the Cayman Islands.


    4. The China that submitted to the lease to Britain of the Crown Colony and the China today are not the same country. The trouble is, only one side realizes that. I bet if you started putting it about in London that the government was going to send a couple of gunboats up the river to shell Shanghai until the Chinkies came to their senses, you’d see a lot of stiff upper lips.


        1. The new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was not long in making himself heard on the subject, as he bewailed the unwillingness of America to step forward and lead. The coming century, he quavered, will be an Asian one, and the Coronavirus marks the turning point.

          That’s just a lot of diplomatic flannel calculated to get a rise out of the can-do Americans. But if he turns out to be right, China is going to be keeping score of who dicked it around and who did not. And Canada is on its naughty list, as an ‘accomplice’ of the United States and its anti-China crusade.

          Canada is not going to be left alone much longer, either, before Washington is expecting an answer on whether Canada is all-in on a Bloc America 5-G network, or whether it is going to wimp out and allow Huawei or other Chinese components. Now that I think about it, that will mark a turning-point of its own – if the United States insists on complete communications-network control by its government, trade with countries that are not part of the bloc will just grow so awkward that each side will gradually turn away from the other. If that’s the way it’s going to be, then America had better start leaning on its Gulf pals to be part of the Circle Of Trust, because otherwise Team America is going to wake up some morning and realize it doesn’t have enough oil. Of course Canada’s resources will become common property, managed by the US government for all, but that won’t be enough. In fact, I would not be surprised to hear them start up that let’s-eliminate-the-border-and-be-all-one-happy-family stuff again.


      1. The last time a RN warship was cruising up a Chinese river was in the year of my birth. And those cheeky Chinks had the temerity to fire on it!!!

        I mean, what did those impudent little buggers think they were playing at by opening fire on one of His Majesty King George VI’s warships that was well up a Chinese river, defending said monarch’s interests in Nanking???


    1. Sooner or later, the USA’s mouth is going to get its face in trouble. Despite being the only civilized nation to have not yet ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), America maintains the right of the United States to sail anywhere it wishes at any time of its choosing, signifying simultaneously that it does not recognize any other nation’s territorial claims, and that it only solicits permission from its allies out of courtesy rather than any real sense of being restricted. It is more or less stating up front that the world belongs to the United States, and only the United States has the right – maintained through military strength – to restrict the passage of other nations.

      If you look at Woody Island (that’s not what the Chinese call it), from the air, it is basically a long runway. In 2015, the Chinese deployed J-11 fighters there, and then HQ-9 missiles – the Chinese version of the S-330 – to protect them and their facilities.

      Don’t miss Minnie Chen’s linked article on the $12.3 Billion China started pouring into the island and Sansha City in 2012, including what looks like a first-rate air control radar atop the tower which can probably see a hell of a long way.

      China’s claim to the island is disputed by Vietnam, and it is about equidistant between Vietnam and Hainan Island. So, what is the USA claiming, here? That the Vietnamese would prefer to have their security in the region guaranteed by the United States, or by China? I seem to recall the Americans left Vietnam in quite a mess the last time they were there in serious numbers, and their departure was not regretted by many except the few trying to cling to the skids of the last helicopter.

      I’m not sure what America is trying to prove by its frequent prodding, but it cannot be that it would fight for these islands. They are within easy reach from mainland China, and a potential attack force would be seen a long way off, while resupply would be difficult and dangerous. The USA does not really care about the islands or who owns them – it just wants to keep things stirred up in the region and ‘contain’ China. So far all its forays are met with polite but firm escort out of the area, but sooner or later there is going to be a cowboy in charge on one side or the other, and there will be shooting. Then what?


  52. Consortium News via JOHN KIRIAKOU: Michael Flynn & the FBI Setup

    The case of the fallen Trump official shows exactly what is wrong with our criminal justice system.

    …A 2012 study by ProPublica found that the Justice Department wins 98.2 percent of its cases, almost all as a result of a plea deal. So, what strategies do prosecutors use to ensure a conviction? There are two common ones: charge stacking and venue shopping. …

    Plenty more at the link.

    Ooh, that’s close to the success rate of Japan’s prosecutors. They also use pressure. I’ve always got time for Kiriakou as a victim of one of O-Bomber’s witch hunt against whistleblowers..


    1. That’s the kind of article that makes you angry to read it. If there are emails in which FBI agents are discussing how to set him up, no more evidence should be needed.

      I notice the racial incident in Minneapolis is really gaining steamroller power. The deliberate and public murder of George Floyd is close to becoming a national moment.

      Authority is in the spotlight as it has not been for a long time, and people don’t like what they see. If those who conspired to put away a decorated veteran like Flynn walk with a slap on the wrist, there will be trouble. But the Floyd case may eclipse it before a punishment phase in the Flynn miscarriage of justice gets off the ground. It’s looking ugly.


  53. ToloNews via US, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan Agree to Expand Cooperation

    Later on, the three countries issued a joint statement in which the three nations pledged to further expand their cooperation.

    …The meeting was co-chaired by American Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar, and Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov. ..

    Read on.

    It all sounds very constructive, but Uzbekistan should still watch its back, scorpion and frog wise…


    1. But, but….the Baltic Pipe!! You just wait, Moskali! When the Baltic Pipe is built, we’ll show you!

      Except the Baltic Pipe will mostly be used to transfer gas from the Europipe to Poland via Denmark, for Poland’s use. The Poles will be paying for it, and they won’t be getting any transit fees for it. We batted this one around quite a bit in the previous post, I think, and we are agreed the Poles like to make a big noise and feel all European, but they have little real concept of utilities or of supply and demand. They look at everything through a filter of Poland On Top Of The World. And their entry into the EU, replete with weeping welcome and debt forgiveness and lots of dosh for incentive spoiled them.

      Are you watching, Ukrainians? You’re next.


      1. Brussels has given them a hefty grant:

        €215 million of CEF Energy funding for the Baltic Pipe connecting the Danish and Polish gas transmission systems

        April 15, 2019

        INEA’s Director Dirk Beckers and Tomasz Stępień, CEO of GAZ-SYSTEM signed today a grant agreement releasing €215 million of EU funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to carry out the construction works for the Baltic Pipe Project.

        The signature ceremony took place in Brussels, in the presence of Maros Šefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission, Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland and Piotr Naimski, Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Republic of Poland for Strategic Energy Infrastructure….


        1. Well, that’s great. And maybe Brussels will continue to subsidize Poland’s gas supplies, so the Poles can just sit there fat and happy, and keep themselves toasty-warm at the expense of their fellow Europeans. What a victory for democracy! Who needs Russia, when Brussels has enough money for all!!

          Where’s that money coming from? As far as I can make out, the EU’s government debt was 79.3% of its GDP in 2019.


  54. Учите китайский? Практикуйтесь на правильных произведениях.
    А как вы думали.
    Само собой книга адаптирована для иностранцев изучающих язык. Имеет пиньинь транскрипцию.
    Но книга для достаточно высокого уровня знания языка, HSK5-6.

    Learn Chinese? Practise using real works of literature.
    What did you think?
    Of course, the book is adapted for foreign language learners. It has a Pinyin transcription.
    But it is a book for a fairly high level of language proficiency, HSK5-6.

    Drawing ever closer, Trump, you chump!

    “How the Steel Was Tempered” (Как закалялась сталь, Kak zakalyalas’ stal’) or “The Making of a Hero”.

    A fictionalized autobiographical novel of the socialist realist genre, written by Nikolai Ostrovsky (1904–1936). .

    The author, a Ukrainian Bolshevik, served in the Red Army and in 1920, during an enemy artillery barrage, lost his right eye near Lvov.

    I should imagine that the enemy were Poles and this happened during the Polish-Soviet War 1919-1921.


  55. Is the book a Chinese translation of an English translation?

    Looks as if it is, but the linked blog is Russian.


  56. The article below from the Saker blog touches on a looming crisis; the July 31 end the $600/week PUA benefit being received by tens of millions of unemployed Americans.

    The article mistakenly attributes the surprisingly generous benefits to some type of consciousness in the financial elites. The real motivation was to tamp down massive social unrest. As evidenced by the long lines at food banks within a few weeks of the shutdown, millions of families have no savings and can not go without a paycheck even or a few weeks before without a threat of starvation.

    The shutdown, absent a credible reason combined with starvation and evictions on a mass scale, would change the normally meek US population into an unruly and unpredictable social force. These folks, for the first time, will be unable to avert their eyes from the gross injustice and exploitation perpetrated by the ruling elites (actually, it will be an enlightening experience for most to realize that there is such a thing as a ruling elite).

    The dilemma for the unemployed hordes is being framed such that they will be forced to go back to their old jobs and their old rate of pay. No way, Jose. There will be no jobs to go back to. It’s starve in silence or hit the bricks.

    The shit is airborne. Where it falls, nobody knows.


  57. Having only recently risen from his sickbed, Irony was brought to death’s door again today.

    “Russia is executing the same playbook as successfully employed in Crimea, Ukraine and to a lesser extent in Syria. Russia has proved its willingness to violate sovereign nations, and appears willing to do the same in Africa,” Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director for intelligence, told reporters Friday.”

    Merciful God. A criticism of another nation, from the United States of America, for abusing sovereignty. The United States, who made a plan to wreck Libya but concealed it under a virtuous no-fly zone solely for the purpose of ‘protecting civilians’, then within a week or two was flying ground-attack missions as the rebel air force. The United States, which invited itself into Syria to ‘fight ISIS’, and then helped its advance until it was in the suburbs of Damascus, whereupon it was thrown back by the Russian Air Force which was invited in by the sovereign Syrian government. The United States, which would very much have liked a naval base in a Crimea under the thumb of a NATO-satellite Ukraine, but lost out when an autonomous republic which had been a part of Russia for more than 170 years, prior to Khrushchev giving it as a gift to Ukraine in 1954, returned in an act of its people’s will to Russia. The United States, which invaded Iraq after fabricating reasons to do so which amounted to nothing more than Donald Rumsfeld’s assessment that there were ‘lots of good targets in Iraq’. And now that’s an unstable wreck, too, like everything King MidUS touches.

    Words fail me.


  58. The mysterious and secret GRU hacker group once known as APT-29 or Cozy Bear gets a sinister new code-name, even as evidence of ‘Russian hacking’ of the 2016 election in the USA continues stubbornly to not be available. Perhaps this scary new name will frighten Americans back into their constant state of low-grade terror – meet “the Sandworm Team”.


    1. GRU, not GRU I thought?

      Why does everyone including the media insist on being wrong? Is it because they want to show that it is still SOVIET?


  59. What a washout 2020 has been for Russia. Why, Putin had planned to announce at the Victory Day Parade that Ukraine had been successfully split along the Dnipro River, and Novorossiya was once more; the Ukrainian side would now have to negotiate with ‘the puppet regime’. But all the Evil One’s grand plans came to naught, because the Victory Day Parade had to be postponed, and then it all slipped like sand between his fingers.

    I see now that Ukraine could never have shot down MH-17 – they’re too honest. They would never have been able to say “It wasn’t us” if it was, because they’re simply incapable of lying. Think what an amazing country it could be now, if it weren’t for Putin!

    A round of applause for the national Armed Forces, lads! But for them….


    1. And guess who’s criticizing the holding of a rescheduled Victory Day parade?

      Why, Putin’s chief critic and stalwart fighter against corruption amongst Russian government “thieves and swindlers” of course.


        1. I wonder how many Russian citizens think the rescheduling is a bad idea, simply a cynical manipulation by the Evil One of Russian patriotic emotions?

          Of course, there are many, such as Venediktov and Makarovich etc., etc., who loathe the very idea of celebrating the victory of the Soviet Union against the Nazis,

          I wonder why?

          (I don’t really: I know damn well why!)


          1. I doubt many are that cynical about it, and most will see it as a promise fulfilled – Putin said it would happen, and it will. But I suspect a few will celebrate it with a little frisson of superstitious trepidation that it is not on the right day and therefore lacks the significance of the actual event. Therein lies the harm to it; the concept that it could be any day. But it is a sufficiently momentous occasion – the 75th – that it must go forward or it might take on the feel of a bad omen if it were missed altogether on that year.


            1. I can’t imagine all that many here being miffed about the rescheduled parade: the reviled despot announced that the day of the parade is a non-working day.

              Navalny doesn’t like people partying, it seems, at least when celebrating victory in a bloody war that the USSR helped start and which victory celebration is only used used to serve as a bread and circus event for the brain-dead Orcs.


  60. I see President Nothing-Rhymes-With-Orange has gone ahead with his crackpot plan to withdraw the United States from the WHO – according to him, because it is in bed with China and will not cooperate with his ideas on reforms. Which, I would be willing to bet, consisted of ‘Do as I say. And don’t forget to blame China for the Coronavirus, so I can level the playing field a little and make them pay billions in damages’.

    What a tragedy! Hundreds of millions of dollars lost to the Big Pharma of America executives who ran it.

    Way to go, Trump! If he keeps on, by the time he finishes out his second term he will have taken the United States out of half the international organizations and treaties to which it once belonged. Take a hint, guys – when Trump says “I want reforms”, that’s your last warning. Maybe he will take the USA out of the UN. Then the USA and Israel can form their own club. The He-Man-Anti-Anti-Semites Of America And Israel Club. Then they can make resolutions, and they will both approve them, and Trump will say “That was the best resolution ever made”, every time. And if ever there is a resolution that is critical of Israel….ha, ha, ha!!! I was just kidding!


    1. Maybe he’ll change his mind in a week (or when something bigger comes along) and everybody will forget it ever happened!


      1. I daresay the WHO would forgive him in such an eventuality, so long as the money was restored. But the conservative nutcases in his administration who believe The Donald is a Godsend who is finally putting the American economy back on track have likely already hoovered it up for other projects.

        For me, it’s a win/win, because the WHO and the Trump administration are roughly-equal menaces to the world in my estimation.


  61. Gazprom Could Lose $20Bln on Flagship China Pipeline: Lenta:

    Gazprom risks losing $20 billion and will struggle to fulfil a flagship deal between Russia and China to supply gas for the next three decades, an investigation by Russian news outlet has found.

    The investigation showed that the state-controlled gas giant overestimated capacity at production sites while senior management kept information of technical setbacks quiet, under pressure to deliver on Russia’s $400 billion deal with China and beat the U.S. in a race to supply gas to the world’s second largest economy.


    1. I bet you are grief stricken, having read read that Lenta article.

      Lenta is on a par with Meduza, by the way.


      1. By the way, the Moscow Arsewipe headline reads:

        Gazprom Could Lose $20Bln on Flagship China Pipeline.


        In context, the subjunctive mood of the modal auxiliary verb “can”.

        However, the headline reads:

        Мечты срываются
        «Газпром» теряет 1,5 триллиона рублей и рискует сорвать поставки газа в Китай на миллиарды долларов

        Dreams shattered
        Gazprom has lost 1.5 trillion rubles and risks cutting billions of dollars of gas supplies to China

        Lenta breathlessly continues:

        The key project of the state-owned company Gazprom has hit fac enormous problems: gas production at one of the largest fields in Russia – Chayandinsky – may not be enough to fill the”Power of Siberia” gas pipeline. This threatens to disrupt a 30-year gas supply contract between Russia and China, and Gazprom risks losing more than 1.5 trillion rubles. This was led by a rush in geological exploration, systematic negligence and criminal forgery committed by company leaders, a regular disregard for technological violations and even the consequences of import substitution. The great Russian “Maybe” and its terrifying consequences — a “” investigation.

        Oh golly!

        Do tell more!

        Over the past ten years, Gazprom has repeatedly demonstrated that the company is primarily interested in solving large-scale geopolitical tasks. Gasification of Russian regions gradually faded into the background, giving way to the construction and launch of megaprojects. The main gas pipelines fit perfectly into this logic: they were supposed to bring billions of dollars in revenue, and the aura of opposition from the West forced the whole world to monitor the progress of construction. Each time, the state-owned company heroically did not succumb to foreign pressure and brought the project to the end – even if its economic feasibility raised big questions.

        Oh do fuck off!


        1. Yes, this is the latest wheeze by the Americans – Russia may have sewed up a solid multi-year contract with the heathen Chinee…but it’s not profitable! In fact, they’re losing money in fistfuls!

          I don’t imagine there are so many fools in the Russian government that they would continue to fulfill contract terms year after year while they were losing billions. 2019 was the first year there was even any gas in the Power of Siberia pipeline, and I doubt anyone – least of all muckraker – has an accurate picture of profit and loss, while the terms of the Russia/China deal were a closely-guarded secret. But nobody who saw the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees and gas robbery should seriously think Russia would sit there and passively just pump more gas to make up for its losses.

          Maybe the western media could use some of its incisive brilliance to solve the problem of American shale gas production being a consistent money-loser; the problem seems solvable to me, so long as the bottlenecks are correctly identified:

          “On the edge of the Permian in New Mexico, The Albuquerque Journal reported the industry is “on pace this year to leap past last year’s record oil production,” according to Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. And yet that oil has at times been discounted as much as $20 a barrel compared to world oil prices because New Mexico doesn’t have the infrastructure to move all of it.

          Who would be foolish enough to produce more oil than the existing infrastructure could handle in a year when the industry promised restraint and a focus on profits? New Mexico, for one. And North Dakota. And Texas.”


        2. Oh, and look there:

          gas production at one of the largest fields in Russia – Chayandinsky – may not be enough to fill the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline.

          My stress.



      Minneapolis burns, rioting across US cities. You ain’t seen nothing yet baby! Wait and see what happens when the PUA expires July 31.

      Police thugs attack innocent US journalists!

      What is the connection with Gazprom and Siberia? No connection at all. Just thought it would be a good reminder that the US has problems that dwarf Russia’s.

      Will Russian officials meet with the protestors? Will they serve hot dogs and beer? Will they spend billions to spread (Russian) democracy to the US?

      Interesting bit on MoA:

      Yesterday afternoon the regime sent in its provocateurs. One of allegedly six was a white man in black clothes, masked with a professional gas mask and carrying a black umbrella. He was filmed as he started to smash shop windows even while protesters told him not do do that. (video). When people got suspicious of him the man walked away, his umbrella still up. (video). He was later identified as a member of the St. Paul police department.

      Are the riots being promoted to increase public clamor for MORE lock downs? More loss of freedom? Can the plan (if it is a plan) spin out of control? Q3 and Q4 will be, lets say, highly interesting.


      1. Come to think of it, the police provocation mentioned above is most likely just cops looking for the opportunity to crack some skulls or slowly suffocate people. Also, it raises their prestige in the community of the privileged as the protectors of the socio/economic order.

        The sooner the protestors recognize that the true villains are the deep state and their minions, the sooner justice will be served. The racism card is weak as blacks appear to the the head of many of the police departments in cities with riots.


      2. Trump has stated that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’. I think it is at least fairly likely that the job of the provocateurs – as has often been the authorities’ covert template before – is to turn things violent so that the City has ‘no choice’ but to put it down violently and impose severe restrictions to limit people’s movement and permitted actions. Would-be protesters should watch carefully for signs of ‘kettling’ and techniques to incite mob-style violence so the police have an excuse to react with force, deadly force if they can justify it. The alternative in this instance is swelling protests that might well encompass the nation, since frustration with the overall situation has been given a voice by the public murder of Floyd. People of all races are well past sick and tired of the way appeals to the authorities to stop killing black people in America on the flimsiest of excuses, culminating in cheekily kneeling on a black man’s throat right in front of God and the world and asphyxiating him to death. It is too late fir whatever discipline comes to those officers involved to do any good, short of the death penalty, and we know that’s not going to happen. There comes a point when people’s concern for their personal safety is overcome by the imperative to do something, and I think we’re there. The police claim the absolute right to take anyone’s life in the course of their duties if they feel themselves threatened, and partly due to America’s promotion of gun rights, if you have anything in your hand when they yell at you to get down on the ground, it could be a gun. And it isn’t just black people who are infuriated at police for continuing to kill black people when they weren’t doing anything wrong, and said so. We are a whisker away from a police officer being swarmed and torn apart by a furious crowd in one of these instances – all it would take is for someone close to the cop to grab him so he couldn’t shoot.


    3. That’s pretty funny; use your head for a moment, why don’t you, and see how many ships the USA would need to supply gas in the same volumes as a large-diameter pipeline which is pumping all the time. “,,,a race to supply gas to the world’s second-largest economy.” Sure it’s a race, the Russians are neck-and-neck with the Americans, just like The Moscow Times always portrays it.

      Here’s a report of what natural-gas volumes America sent to various countries between 2014 – when it first became an exporter – and 2019. Volumes sent to China are selectable as a separate chart, but you can see even from the main report that American LNG exports to China peaked in 2017, and by last year were 1/15th of their 2017 level – is that how a race usually goes, do you think?

      Knowing what you know of Putin and his leadership style thus far, do you really think Gazprom would be at serious risk of a $20 Billion loss, and the company would try to cover it up instead of warning him? Russia only pressurized the Power of Siberia pipeline in October of last year.

      There is no reason to disbelieve it will achieve its steady-state volumes of 38 BcM annually by the target date. But that is a tiny drop in the bucket of China’s gas consumption, which was projected to be 320 BcM annually this year. Some 64% of China’s needs are currently met by domestic supply.

      The United States is not even competition, never mind in a realistic ‘race’, especially considering the current abysmal state of US-China relations, while there is by no means a situation in which China must buy from the USA even though they hate each other, because it can’t get enough gas anywhere else.


  62. Beijing sees Trump’s hand and won’t fold

    With Sinophobic hysteria reaching new heights in US, China’s counter play is a massive new economic plan

    by Pepe Escobar

    Stranger things have happened.

    Everyone was expecting US President Donald Trump to go nuclear by de facto sanctioning China to death over Hong Kong. In an environment where Twitter and the President of the United States are now engaged in open warfare, the rule is that there are no rules anymore.

    So in the end, what was announced against China amounted to an anti-climax. ..

    A lot more at the link.

    I do like a cunning plan. The US continues to over-extend itself and the reckoning is in motion. Whatever plan they think they have….


    1. That’s a brilliant article – thanks for linking it. Escobar can see further into a brick wall than most. Merkel’s statement about a new era dominated by Asian influence has been interpreted various ways, from the optimistic time-to-adjust-our-policies tone Escobar portrays to a frantic entreaty for the USA to get its shit together and PLEASE lead us again.

      At our level, there is little we can do but stand and watch as our governments either choose wisely, stall for time or take a disastrous leap. The United States is all-in now on a purge of all things Chinese from what it hopes will emerge as a US-owned trading bloc where it can continue to be the big frog in a smaller pond. Canada is at far greater risk than most, as is Mexico, and I fear Trudeau will crumble under US pressure and throw in our lot with the Americans. Things look much differently in Ottawa, where trade with the USA basically has zero alternative, than in British Columbia where a pivot to Asian trade would not really be that much of an adjustment and where there is already a huge Chinese demograpgic. But there’s nothing I can do to affect the course of events.


      1. It’s all far too late and even if they had spotted the ‘Chinese threat’ and reacted earlier, I suspect that the result would have been very much the same.

        Several very clear points (among many others in hindsight) in the last thirty years and one that sticks out for me is that when China was finally allowed to join the World Toilet Organization (WTO) the western media published reports about how shocked western diplomats and others were that China hit the ground running. They’d done all their homework and steamed ahead.

        It was expected that they’d act more as observers rather like a apprentice at the knee of western economic masters and when they had gained sufficient knowledge (of doing things the western way), they would continue the status quo.

        While the west was making loud declarations and not fixing problems, China was studiously building its systems and fixing problems along the way. If you do well, people notice anyway. You don’t need to shout.


  63. Minneapolis is considered liberal city on the cutting edge of the PC cultural. Now, it is this:

    The governor of Minnesota has pledged to “fully mobilize” the National Guard saying that the protests that have gripped the state are no longer about the death of George Floyd but rather an “attack” on civil society.

    “The situation in Minnesota is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities,” Governor Tim Walz said during a press conference on Saturday.

    Walz said he arrived at the decision to fully mobilize the National Guard for the first time in Minnesota’s history after speaking with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as well as with mayors from across the country.

    Interesting to me that the decision involved the Secretary of Defense and the top military leadership. One could think that the concerns run far deeper than protests over a case of police murder.

    The economic pandemic is spreading. The impact of the July 31 termination of federal assistance to tens of millions of the unemployed and the expected massive wave of evictions will set the stage for a very long and hot summer during a highly contentious election year. Politicians will play the the civil war (yes) to their favor. It will be ugly.


  64. From Orlov’s latest apocalyptic vision, “The Fate of Eastern Europe”.

    “The unfolding demise of shale oil in the US has put an end to the growth of the global oil supply, and with it to global economic expansion that has underpinned the system of global capitalism. The global economy is no more, to be replaced by regional energy/technology clusters. The major cluster will consist of Russia, China and Iran, which together have enough resources and technology to comprise an independent industrial civilization. Elsewhere, relatively civilized industrial enclaves may remain around centers of natural resource extraction and high-tech manufacturing. Outside of them will lie ethnographic eco-parks in which natives will wear colorful ethnic garb, speak obscure local languages and sell home-made knickknacks to passing Chinese tourists.

    Where will this leave Eastern Europe? What will be its new function in this new world order? Once the age of empires ended and the Russian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires were no more, Eastern Europe mainly served as a buffer zone between the east and the west. Then, after the USSR collapsed, it mainly served as a source of cheap migrant labor for Western Europe and as a buffer zone from which to (pretend to) threaten Russia (while the real goal of NATO is to channel public funds to US arms manufacturers). But now that US and the EU are collapsing economically while rapidly debasing their currencies, could their political collapse be far behind?

    And once it occurs, to whence will Eastern European pseudo-nations shift their locus of external authority? Back to Moscow? You can forget about that! The age of tank armies and infantry is over and Russia no longer needs to surround itself with buffer zones. If attacked, it can now reliably destroy the Pentagon using a hypersonic missile in about 18 minutes; therefore, it won’t be attacked. Russia does need more people, but in order for the great Russian experiment to work these need to be loyal, patriotic Russians, of whatever ethnic origin, not foreign nationals with their own fanciful notions of nationalistic greatness. Having fully satisfied its irredentist urges with the reannexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia is now eager to construct a notional Great Wall of Russia, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, which will shield it from the predations of various pseudo-brotherly peoples to its west, since they will no doubt run back and demand something from it in exchange for their unreliable pledges of eternal friendship.

    What options will remain open for the Eastern Europeans once their locus of external control disappears while the exercise of true national sovereignty remains too expensive? The remaining two options are authoritarianism and failed-statedom.

    It….ahh….doesn’t get any sunnier, I’m afraid. Those who were waiting to see the smart-mouth Poles get their comeuppance might in fact live to see just that. Not a good time to be a Ukrainian, either. I just hope if I’m still alive when the walls of the jelly house of cards fold inward, that they will consider spouses of patriotic Russians.

    However, he does point out that predictions of the future are as good a way as any to be catastrophically wrong (like Fukuyama was), and that this is just one of many, many possibilities. Perhaps I shall be King over the world. You never know – it wouldn’t hurt to be extra-nice to me, just in case. I shall do the same for you, because…you never know.


    1. And once it occurs, to whence will Eastern European pseudo-nations shift their locus of external authority?

      to whence???

      Whence comest thou, Orlov?

      Get thee hence to a word book of the English tongue!


      1. Yeah, he’s a little grammatically awkward sometimes, but still an astonishing grasp of a second language in my estimation. We deserve to have a few of those on the illiberal side, I think, because it always seemed to me that the most skilled in English among the Russians were the liberal toffs like Leonid Bershidsky and Vladimir Kara-Murza the Younger. There was a girl I used to know on the net who was amazingly literate in English as well, I can’t recall her real name – although I did know it once – but she started as Alterismus. She was a Russian who lived in Shanghai, and moved from the Alterismus blog to Shangology, and then her blog went private and I lost track of her. Anyway, she was quite pro-Russian, which was how we ‘met’; in the “About” page on my old blog.


        1. There’s that Russian young woman in NZ as well, who does some great translations. I forget her name. She writes for FortRuss, I think. She has (had?) a YouTube account.

          I used to often visit that site and then I couldn’t access it for some reason or other


  65. According to Fort Russ, Ukraine is restarting the military draft program again, beginning in two days, June 1st.

    This is intended to redress shortages of personnel – especially junior leaders – in frontline battalions. The COVID quarantines caused a flood of military-age males to return to Ukraine from countries in which they were migrant workers, and Kuh-yiv decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up. But it leaked, and in the first day checkpoints were opened with the Czech Republic and Poland, 4.5 thousand people crossed into those countries, 80% of them men aged between 18 and 45.

    The “They Are Waiting for You at Home” program discussed at the end of the article exists; here it is on the SBU’s website.

    It purports to be a program through which those who have fought for the east but have relatives in Ukraine proper can ‘come in from the cold’ and all will be forgiven. According to Fort Russ, it is nothing of the sort and those who respond to it are squeezed dry of information and then given lengthy prison sentences. Probably neither side’s representations are completely accurate.


  66. Elon, Elon….

    Another SpaceX prototype exploded on the pad yesterday in Texas following a static-fire test.

    This is the fourth prototype to leave the world in a blast of fire that was not followed by a flight. I daresay Elon will be along shortly to explain cheerfully, “That’s why we test”. And you can’t really argue with that. But I wonder if people aren’t starting to get a little nervous about the cost.


    1. Musk really should consider going into the pyrotechnics business. Companies could send him all their junk planes or other scrap vehicles and he could blow them up for a fee. Film of the explosions could be sold to Hollywood or MSM news outlets every time they need blow-ups. When the same thing happens to you a 4th time, you should realise the Fates are telling you something.


      1. Well, he has come up with some amazing innovations, and if he had stuck to electric vehicles I think he would be in a pretty good place now. I know several people who have Teslas, Model 3 and Model S, and they love them – no complaints. One of my workmates salivates over the Cybertruck, and has preordered one in faith that he will have the money by the time it’s ready. Musk has certainly moved battery capacity and overall power delivery forward. Maybe he’s just a late bloomer in the space field. I think what I dislike about him is his celebrity persona, the way he comes across as such a grinning huckster. He’s more like a reality-TV star than a CEO of a serious company. But there’s no denying that factor has pulled in a lot of young people who would not normally be very interested in business. His story is certainly not written yet, but he needs to show some success in the space field or investors will start to pull back, and his operation breathes on borrowed money, lots of it.

        He owes over half a Billion in personal loans, but it is the nature of the ‘free market’ that every time he ‘raises more capital’ (goes further out on the debt limb), stock in his companies jumps. Apparently that suggests confidence that the company is not going to fold up, and people buy in. Here’s an interesting article on the market, and it suggests to me why it is increasingly disconnected from ordinary people and their troubles, while it is the playground of slicks who have done nothing much all their lives but move numbers around. Interesting prognosis of businesses as an analogue of the human population and coronavirus;

        “But even with most of the country shut down, almost 100,000 Americans were now dead, and some 38 million were out of work. So why was the stock market going up? Ackman said that the market was heavily weighted to a small number of companies — Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook — that were positioned to become even more dominant than they were before the crisis and whose stock prices were rising in anticipation of that. Weak public companies were being culled — ‘‘the virus kills older people, people with comorbidities, people with other health issues, and the same thing is true in business; the virus kills off companies that were structurally impaired already’’ — while strong ones were poised not just to survive but to prosper.”


        1. New York’s Pissed: Tesla stock rise triggers $700 million payday for Elon Musk


          Swings and roundabouts.

          Not to mention the significant tax breaks he got from California, Nevada et al (not me!) to set up shop there. And most recently this in ‘the suckers fell for it before so I’ll try it again’:

          Fux My Business: California officials deny Musk’s SpaceX subsidy request after union objects


          I do wonder about the car subsidy game as Boing & Arbus have been fighting it out with each other for years at the WTO and even Boing said it would pay back subisdies to Washington State because it was not in compliance with WTO rules.


          1. Check out that “What is the Stock Market even for, Anyway?” in the New York Times; it mentioned somewhere in there how much the ‘pandemic’ and its accompanying tidal wave of unemployment have added to Jeff Bezos’s fortune, and he must have like all the money in the world, because he just racked up another $36 Billion or so – hang on, I’ll look it up.

            Okay, I overshot a little. A measly $34.6 Billion. In two months.


            Bill Gates, that charitable chap, saw his net worth grow by $8 Billion in the same time period; chump change. Mark Zuckerberg, living proof that you can put all the lipstick on a punk you want and he’s still a punk, just a very, very rich punk, pocketed an extra $25.3 Billion. With a ‘B’. The top five sickeningly-rich Americans – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet and Larry Ellison (owner of Oracle) – saw their wealth grow by $75.5 Billion. In two months. Two months of ruin for nearly the entire rest of the country. Slightly less than the entire national GDP for Guatemala ($78.46 Billion) for the whole of 2018.


        2. I can see a problem with how the various businesses that Elon Musk might have a stake in might be structured. Is Tesla and its factories and products together a separate business from the other businesses he has an ownership stake in and are those businesses separate as well?

          There used to be a time when companies like Boeing, Ford and GM were founded as businesses in themselves and were not dependent on or structured around the personalities of their founders or the founders’ family members. Companies had a core business – they defined themselves by what they made, and by extension the processes that contributed to what they made and the values the companies wanted to attach to their products to make their names stand out.

          Now, thanks to the rise and dominance of tech companies, companies are no longer about what they make and sell, and what they want to market about themselves (whether true or not), they’re all about celebrating their so-called “entrepreneur” founders and their supposed rebel natures, breaking or steam-rolling over all the rules that get in their way of being successful. Stock-market investors seem to agree: after all, they are part of that Silicon Tech generation that thinks the rules that apply to sheeple don’t apply to Ayn Randian rebels they (the investors) fancy themselves to be.

          The result is that Tesla will end up living and dying with Musk and any successes or failures he and his other companies might have, that shouldn’t affect Tesla’s performance and wouldn’t if Tesla were seen to have some distance from Musk and his other businesses. The fortunes of Richard Branson and his Virgin empire should be an object lesson to younger businesspeople.


  67. At Natylie Baldwin’s site; “The CIA- 70 years in Ukraine”. From the recruitment of Reinhard Gehlen right after the war, incorporating by extension his Nazi network throughout Eastern Europe, to the present day of funneling cash to fascist assets who set up, train and pay militias that hunt down pro-Russia journalists and citizens. A fascinating snippet of what promises to be a good interview.


  68. Yalensis has a good piece up; part of a series, actually, entitled, “There Has Always Been a Ukraine”. Much of it is just delightful mockery, but there is an underlying serious theme – crazy dogma from wacky ideologues is quickly adopted into official Ukrainian history, and education. I’ve only read the last two of a currently five-part series, but they included such amazing insights as Plato and Buddha sharing a common Ukrainian heritage. Basically, if it was written in a discernible language – i.e if there were enough repeated patterns that the marks qualified as a written language – it was Ukrainian. Witty and entertaining.

    I should add that serious Ukrainian academics reject this silliness out of hand, and want no part of it. But the last couple of Ukrainian governments are greedy for anything that lets the people feel good about themselves and superior to the dirt people across the border, and they just lap it up; can’t get it into the books fast enough.


  69. A good piece also at Marko Majanovic’s ‘Anti-Empire’, for those who have been following the race riots – anti-police riots, really – which started in Minneapolis over the public execution of George Floyd, and which are now spreading across the United States. The policeman who directly murdered Floyd by choking him although he cried that he could not breathe has been charged with murder and the other three have been fired, but it is too little, too late. The US public is fed up with a police force which behaves like an occupying army, and Marjanovic’s article provides a timely review of successive legal amendments by the Supreme Court and enabling attitudes by state-level politicos which have led to a culture of unaccountability.

    I would think there is a fairly obvious implicit lesson there, too, and in the video we discussed some time ago where the New York cops beat up a black man and handcuffed him because he was ‘flexing’, like he was going to resist – might as well! Might as well go down fighting and take as many of them out as you can, because chances are pretty good that if you don’t resist and comply with all their shouted orders, they will get excited and kill you anyway.


    1. I would call it ‘When the police become a state within a state.’ They’re certainly tooled up with a lot of ex-military (couldn’t leave it in Afghanistan/i-Rack/whatever – and we don’t want to use, pay for or store it on our military budget). Maybe that could be a dystopian novel, the United Police States of America where sheriffs ride around in Abrams tanks to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries dispensing street justice at a moments notice. Apart from that’s not much of a stretch from what is already happening… Gun Happy, Peace Shy.


    2. Police have side hustles as well – “protection” rackets, confiscation of property, theft, illegal drug seizure for resale, etc. Why not? That is what many of them done in Iraq and Afghanistan. It all goes on with a nod and wink as long as they can keep the poor in their place.

      Police also serve as a lightning rod to divert attention from the wealthy SOBs. The poor hate the police while the wealthy smirk in the background.


  70. A really interesting and informative opinion editorial in the Asia Times, on the coming realignment of the semiconductor industry and further splitting of the world into two major blocs. Everybody seems to see this coming, but nobody has any idea how to stop it.

    Basically, there are five major semiconductor manufacturers in the world. Three are American. The pivotal one, though, is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Some time ago, TSMC approached the other companies with a business proposal – TSMC would act as the ‘foundry’ for all the other companies, who would then no longer need to invest in their own fabricating lines, or ‘fabs’. Not having to constantly re-tool new ‘fabs’ made a difference in costs for chip startups between $1 million – fairly affordable – and nearly $10 Billion; not at all affordable. Smaller companies concentrated on newer, faster and more powerful chip designs, and TSMC made them.

    “TSMC announced that it would invest and keep investing in state-of-the-art equipment to make semiconductor chips as a “foundry” service to anyone who wishes to take advantage of such “toll” fabrication. Thus TSMC irrevocably altered the business model for the industry. No longer having to invest in a “fab” (industry lingo for a production line), companies can concentrate on designing new chips to perform new functions and tasks. A million dollars for computerized design tools can now launch a startup with an idea to meet a market opportunity, whereas to own a semiconductor fab, the company would have been looking at minimum investment well north of US$1 billion around a decade ago, a figure that could pass $10 billion these days.”

    When China starts re-engineering its supply chains and producing more chips domestically, *poof* goes $75 Billion worth of American semiconductor chip sales to China, annually: about 36% of the US output.

    “When China retaliates by buying less from the US, the generous trade surplus enjoyed by the American side will shrink. Lower sales mean less profit and less money to spend on research and development, and that will erode America’s leadership in this high-tech sector. Chip suppliers in Japan and South Korea will be happy to fill the void left by the US, and China will be more determined than ever to invest in the development of semiconductor technology that will break the dependence on the US. The short-term outcome is lose-lose, but the long-term consequences will be disastrous for both sides. The virtuous circle where everybody gains will be replaced by vicious competition and market fragmentation. “

    Well worth reading.


    1. I read a piece (last week?) or I might even have posted it but China’s main foundry SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp) trails TSMC and was blocked by the US from buying EUV (extreme ultraviolet) tech from ASML of the Netherlands for etching silicon wafers at smaller sizes but this hasn’t stopped it:

      Also development of China designed Kirin chipsets for mobiles continues apace and it is pretty good, sic buying Kirin means not buying… Qualcomm! China has long had a plan for tech autarky so they will catch up and surpass.


      1. There’s a reason major US universities demand increasingly more detail about applicants and try deliberately to limit the proportion of Asian students even when their academic standards are nearly flawless; the very top layer of academic achievement is increasingly Asian-dominated. Asians themselves have suggested to me that it has nothing to do with being smarter, it is often the result of culture; of parents’ expectations and a learned lifetime habit of working harder and taking education more seriously. You won’t find too many Asians at college keggers or playing beach volleyball. They’re studying, and memorizing, and working on a goal-oriented plan. There’s nothing at all remarkable, when you think about it, in coming off smarter because you worked harder and spent more time on it.

        Consequently, there is nothing invented or developed by the mind and hand of man that cannot be duplicated and/or improved by the Chinese if they put their minds to it. A semiconductor chip is just a sandwich of layers of silicon and integrated circuits; the Chinese can demonstrably already do it very well, but they need the specialized tools developed by Americans. But those, too, are just a culmination of ideas and skill, and while Chinese chipmaking at the 5G level is not going to take off tomorrow, they will be putting a lot of emphasis on developing tools of their own that are as good or better, and no reason at all to assume they will fail.

        However, dual trading blocs that work mostly within their own spheres of influence are a bad outcome for the world. There will be more competition and less sharing, and far fewer opportunities fior American moguls to increase their wealth – Asia was the growth market.


    1. When all else fails – blame Russia it’s worked for 3 years!

      It will be interesting to find out what is going on in the USA right now.

      There are genuine protestors – but there are also looters and people out to cause trouble.

      The people on the street seem to be mainly young and are both black and white.

      There doesn’t seem to be any vocal demands from the demonstrators and no leadership – this allows the vacuum to be filled with all sorts of grievances.

      From the film I’ve seen though the demonstrations have taken place in many cities – the number of people doesn’t seem that great. More in the thousands

      Here in the UK in London and Manchester we had two marches in sympathy / support for George Floyd which just seemed odd – we are supposed to be in lockdown yet it was allowed.


      1. I suppose the networks are portraying it as if the protesters have no focused demands, but in fact many are carrying signs protesting the police being able to get away with killing black people. Here, again, is a link I posted a couple of days ago regarding the systematic dismantling of accountability by public officials – in order to ‘do their jobs’, the story went, they had to be made safe from frivolous lawsuits and when they acted badly, they always got the benefit of the doubt. So long as they claimed they acted in ‘good faith’ – which is where the “I feared for my life” claim comes from – they can shoot you and get away with it.

        In one conspicuous case, two officers who stole $225.00 from funds confiscated from suspects were not prosecuted for theft because they ‘were not equipped with enough information to know their actions violated the Fourth Amendment”. In plain language, they had not been given clear and specific direction that stealing is against the law. It’s called “Qualified Immunity”; check it out.

        “While the unanimous panel acknowledged that “the City Officers ought to have recognized that the alleged theft was morally wrong,” it concluded that they “did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment.” In other words, the cops weren’t equipped with enough information to deduce that robbing people is a violation of their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures—a bizarre interpretation of the law, to say the least.”

        They didn’t get to keep the money, obviously, but they were shielded from legal action for stealing in a way no ordinary citizen could expect if it had been them.

        Police everywhere are trying to maintain a low profile and not come the heavy, because the situation in the USA is very volatile and a lot of different grievances including job losses are being rolled into the same expression of fury. But that doesn’t mean the police are idle; if you check around, you will find examples from the United States where police officers from other regional departments are mingling with the crowds and being the first to pry up paving stones to throw, or smashing windows to inspire a rush of looting. The theory there is that the protest is likely to turn violent, so the provocateurs want to set it off at a time of their choosing, perhaps when they have an overwhelming police presence waiting in the wings or in an area where the protesters can be easily contained and rounded up; as soon as it flares into violence, the police ‘have no choice’, and ‘have to’ wade in and start swinging.

        People have been shot by police in the USA often fatally, because they were holding a cell phone. If you have anything in your hand, the police will claim they thought you had a gun.


    2. More than 50% of the United States population that are under 15 years old are others than White. In the future we will see more and more of these protests and confrontations between different ethnic groups in the United States, as the white population continues to decline and the population of other ethnic groups continues to rise.

      This is also the biggest hope for the end of the US empire. That they will have to spend so much resources to maintain internal stability that they cannot afford to maintain their empire anymore.


      1. No, the US problems include a short-sighted, greedy and increasingly incompetent ruling elite, ill-advised social engineering schemes and the rise of other global powers.


        1. I disagree. Their ruling elites have always been greedy but they still managed to become the biggest superpower ever in the world. This is because of the quality of their population and also very fortunate geographical conditions.

          Now with the demographic change the quality of their population is changing for the worse, and it will spell trouble for them.


          1. Define “quality” in “quality of their population”.

            Can you reduce the characteristics of a population to each of its members. and if so, how do you define and assess the quality of an individual?

            And if an individual has low quality, what should be done with him/her?

            Do you believe that some people are of no worth, and if so, what should be done about them?


          2. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Karl, don’t be such a Nazi. Show me some proof that Hispanics and blacks are genetically lazy and inferior, or stop with the silly provocations. You’re just trying to wind people up.


          3. (yawn) With the collapse of the US, the US elites lost any remaining restraints. Break organized labor, let China do the manufacturing, dumb down an already mentally challenged population, use the military to enforce dollar dominance, reorganize the world and DECLARE THE END OF HISTORY!

            Those imbeciles . . look at what they have done.


      2. I don’t know the statistics, but I have no reason to disbelieve you; ethnic couples tend to have larger families even though they are at the lower end of the income scale. But you saw the financial data, I’m sure – Jeff Bezos alone added $34 Billion to his wealth, in just two months. Who needs that much money? You could feed $1,000.00 a day out your car window, driving to work, and never make a dent in it. What’s it all for, does anyone need to be that rich? Maybe if you want to buy a country or something. But Bezos is an example of the people the planned world order is designed to enable, to just go on amassing more and more wealth and power, while the enormous majority of Americans struggle and make sacrifices to stay afloat.

        Still, the collapse of the USA is not a desirable goal. It’s the kind of actor that will not go out quietly, and will seek to smash and destroy as much as it can on its way out – notice me! Notice me! The best compromise would be achieved by slowly detaching from the United States and reducing trade with it to a break-even basis; buy just as much from American traders as your state sells to them, so that they’re not desperately broke but not crazy wealthy either. That sounds easy, but it’s not, because they are working steadily toward a moment when their money isn’t worth anything. You can’t go on printing more and more of a fiat currency when it becomes clear the accumulated wealth of the state which is not in private hands is nowhere near parity with the amount of currency in circulation, or an effective counterbalance to your accumulated debt.

        But I think this manufactured crisis is the turning point. From here on out American global influence will continue to slowly decline, because only western political leaders are still eager for US leadership. God knows why, because it inevitably leads to disaster and ruin for somebody. But populations of western states no longer see American leadership as important or desirable, and the USA is seen more and more as a global bully and friendship with it as too costly and dangerous. American overreach coincided with Chinese resolve, and China is probably all finished being conciliatory and polite and trying to smooth things over. A clash is increasingly inevitable; not necessarily a major war – which the USA would lose, both because it is getting short on real allies and because it is nowhere near as tough as it thinks it is – but a progressive separation of the world powers into Asia-centered and North-America centered blocs. New US leadership will make no difference at this point, so no use hoping for that – even after the no-win equation of Trump-or-Biden, there is nobody rational left in American politics.


    3. That’s great that Rice has said that in public. Yet another fact to ridicule her in future if she ever returns to government, which I suspect she will. Well done!


  71. There’s another big clue that (AFAIK) I am the only person to have noticed and that’s the damage to the port engine cover which shows the missile came from a different angle.

    Personally I have long doubted that it was a BUK — not enough lethal fragments in the cockpit. Which leave a fragmentation warhead AAM and there aren’t many of those.


    1. Yes, I recall that reference piece from when it came out, and indeed it asks a lot of questions which have never been satisfactorily answered. I agree we will probably not ever know unless and until a Ukrainian Edward Snowden comes forward. Ukraine simply has had too much unsupervised access to the evidence for too long, and it seems probable to me that anything they felt they could not explain or was inconsistent with a Russia-did-it narrative was disappeared.

      I believe it was an SA-11 mostly because, as I said in the story, in order to show any evidence at all, it must be a weapon both sides have. Ukraine needs to have the weapon in order to do it, but if Russia doesn’t have it, embarrassing questions would quickly be asked. Considerable further damage to all the remainder of the airframe – including the port wing and engine nacelle – probably occurred when the Ukrainian army continued to shell the wreckage for days after the disaster. If it had been preserved exactly as it landed, it might have been possible to prove the damage was centralized to a certain zone and therefore the missile came from that direction or this, but it is probably not possible now, and if the ‘evidence’ had so indicated, Ukraine could have vetoed its publication anyway and probably would have.

      If it had been an AAM, you would think questioning would have quickly focused on how it could have been Russia when no Russian military aircraft were in the area. The investigators have certainly never even hinted at the possibility of AAM damage, but then, they wouldn’t. But it’d be pretty hard to make the carnage from a teensy AAM look like that inflicted by a missile 18 feet long that weighs nearly a ton. From the number of holes in the cockpit, it is not possible there were no projectiles in the bodies of the cabin crew, but again, we can no longer prove how many holes were inflicted post-crash.


      1. Early reports of the MH17 shoot-down said that the Donetsk fighters were the first people on the scene of the crash and they reported that the cockpit was full of blood (“awash with blood” was the early English-language translation of what they said they saw). I believe from reading some of the early reports that they did try to protect the crash scene from being shelled by Ukrainian forces, at least until they could retrieve the flight recorders and allow foreign investigators to take over.

        There are still photos and videos available online of the funerals of the pilot and co-pilot.

        John Helmer had a report back in 2015 that, among other things, mentions that the captain’s body had been in good condition when the sister of the captain came to the Netherlands to identify the body (she identified it from photographs) and to bring it back to Kuala Lumpur.

        One would think if the SA-11 missile had exploded above the cockpit and to port side, the captain’s body would be damaged so badly that no-one would have been able to identify it.


        1. I should have added that the captain, Captain Wan Amran, was the pilot (according to Helmer) and that Captain Eugene Choo was the co-pilot.


        2. Yes, I remember; I was looking at Helmer’s post a short while ago. The sister of the pilot identified his body from photographs, and she said he was whole and appeared unmarked, he was ‘just a bit burnt’. But he was likely clothed in the photo and it would have been difficult to tell from a photo if he had shrapnel wounds. The caskets sent back to Malaysia were sealed by government order, and the relatives were not permitted to open them – they had to take the word of their government and the Ukrainians that their relative was even inside.

          There would have been nothing the Donbass militias could have done to prevent the Ukrainian army from shelling the crash site, especially when the artillery forces knew there were no foreign inspectors there – they were pounding the site with artillery from miles away. They certainly would not have been too upset if they accidentally hit some Donbass militia members who were combing the wreckage.

          I remember from somewhere the Ukrainians accusing the easterners of having ‘pre-autopsied’ the bodies of the cockpit crew, and cut all the shrapnel out to prevent identification of the missile that killed them. I need hardly point out the Ukrainians could do just that, for the same reason, and accuse the easterners of having done it. Because part of the controversy was the suggestion that the missile was an early variant that Russia no longer had. When the dented missile body was trotted out, supposedly ‘found in the wreckage’, I remember also that the number on it was tracked down through Russian records that Ukraine would have likely believed the Russians had not retained for so long, and demonstrated to have been one which was transferred to Ukraine. As I best remember, the Ukrainians claimed the record was a forgery, and no more was said about it.

          Yeah, I thought so; here it is.

          The article also clearly states it was the position of the JIT that the missile parts were found at the crash site – which, as I have pointed out many times, the parts of the missile that actually shot the plane down would not be. They would be miles from the crash site. The allegation by the JIT that the missile came from the 53rd AA Missile Brigade in Kursk demonstrates that they put more faith in Eliot Higgins’ cockamamie theories and fabrications than in actual declassified records produced by the Russian defense department. The western side is determined, in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary, to pin it on the Russians and clear Ukraine of any responsibility. That Galeotti goes along with the Bellingcat bedtime stories suggests he is just a partisan hack, and not really any kind of an analyst at all.

          Well, the show-trial is coming up soon; let’s see if the west is as duplicitous as usual.


          1. Rather the long praticed art of constructing a chain of evidence to present in public, one that happens to align with the desired result.

            Sometimes this is done to hide the (sensitive) source but is contrary to the normal functioning of a judiciary (aka ‘discovery’/sharing with the defence) in a supposed democracy.

            The FBI was caught doing this because it was handed info hoovered up by the NSA. And therein we have how corrupting pervasive surveillance of a population is.

            All sorts of stuff is hoovered up and certain stuff flagged automaticaly by Al-gore-Rhythm for human notification and stuff that has been seen, cannot be unseen.

            It’s the proverbial self-licking icecream. You need surveillance to get the edge on your enemies (and allies) but there is always more stuff than you can use openly, but not using it is never an option and providing that information to others increases demand which increases supply etc. (ad nauseam).

            Add to that the US, UK and other so-called democracies are now sharing their closely kept crown-jewel info/software with many more arms of government and right down to the regional and local level.

            In the end, it is just a tool, like fire. Fire burns. That is why we are really careful with it. Surveillance tech is already out of the bag but it is clear that governments haven’t been burned anywhere near enough to make them impose effective controls. If anything, it is the opposite considering the regular arguments by ‘intelligence officials’ that encryption as standard is bad. They still think we should trust them despite their regular inability to protect their own data and ours. I would say it is a joke, but that would be sugar coating it. The Gatekeepers are shit at keeping the gate closed. It’s almost as if they don’t care. Oh, that’s right, there are no consequences of note to them…


  72. Sky Nudes: Growing rivalry with China risks ‘eventual conflict’ warns defence committee chair

    Tobias Ellwood says the UK must work with the US on a new blueprint for global unity.

    Boris Johnson is set to chair a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council (NSC) on Tuesday, with China the one topic on the agenda, Sky News understands.

    Say something, however ridiculous, as saying nothing means you are nothing. This chest beating I guess appeals to a certain part of the population who still thinks the UK punches above its weight in international affairs. Bizarre!


    1. Let me ask you this; if you truly were interested in ‘global unity’…why would you pick the US as a partner? Is IT interested in global unity? Hardly. It is interested in global dominance, to the exclusion of all other options. The US must be considered in that it is part of the globe, and you can’t have global unity without considering all parts. But that’s as far as it goes, and I would not consider asking it for its ideas on global unity unless I were concerned to see where its approach might impede the way of people who might actually want it to succeed.

      However, ‘discoveries’ the USA has made will no doubt be useful to Boris as he explains why Britain must submit to American pressure, and ban Huawei from its 5G networks. A punch in the face doesn’t hurt any less just because you see it coming.


  73. Asian century began in May 2020

    Region has emerged as an economic zone as closely integrated as the European Union

    by David P. Goldman
    #### South Korea is the pivot in the Huawei wars

    Restrictions on semiconductor sales to Chinese companies are ‘unacceptable’ to Seoul

    by David P. Goldman

    …During the Reagan years, federal subsidies for basic R&D amounted to 1.4% of GDP, nearly double today’s level. Washington wants to throw its weight around without spending the money required to bulk up. That could end badly.

    The last sentences of the piece sum up everything perfectly. US ambitions are not matched by the requisite actions. They simply do not want spend the $$$ in the right place. There are plenty of reasons for that, including a highly corrupt political system where everyone is looking out for their own interests privately while declaring to behave in the interests of the USA in public. And referencing Regan, his and others blind obsession in escalation meant that massive resources were going in to the military rather domestic investment, one of the many reasons Japan was forced to rebalance the massive trade deficit the USA had built up with it. It’s been a long road of wrong priorities, but that’s what you get when you follow an ideology so blindly.


  74. Jonathan Cook blog: Emily Maitlis is no media hero. She simply forgot what she and the BBC are there to do

    The wrong conclusions are being drawn about Emily Maitlis’s comments on Dominic Cummings on the BBC flagship Newsnight show this week. Her remarks are not evidence of her courage, or that journalists are being gagged, or that the BBC is suddenly capitulating to the government….

    …The public rebuking of Maitlis by the BBC is an extreme version of the rewards-and-punishment training all corporate journalists go through. Mostly such admonishments are suffered by staff when they are employed at junior levels, as they “find their feet” and learn from their elders and betters what journalism requires of them. Maitlis’s reprimand served a similar purpose….

    Plenty more at the link.

    I would also add that other evidence of this ‘don’t ruffle feather’ training is seen every day in many reporters/journalist/whatever reports that continue to repeat old lies told by those in power well after they have been so proved. Rather than being factually correct or not referencing the lie, it is easier just to leave it in.


    1. It sounds to me more as if Maitlis was selected to fall on her sword in a big show of defiance, as if British journalism is fed up with the government. Nearly everything that happens these days, or is allowed to happen, is a distraction, and everything else is a cover-up. If the government doesn’t want you to see it, it makes sure you don’t. If it does want you to see it, there’s a reason and it is hardly ever the one it wants you to infer. Everything else on television is bingo and bake sales.


  75. Euractiv: SOFIA/BELGRADE : ‘Balkan Stream’ will work without problems



    crAP: Bulgaria expects to finish Russian gas pipeline on time


    Curiously, only the latter mentions Turkstream. Still, whatever the US thinks it can do with NordStream II, more Russian gas is still coming to u-Rope one way or another. I wonder if the NS Consortium has threatened to take Denmark to arbitration (and all the associated costs therein) yet for unnecessarily holding up NS II? If it is powerful leverage against Brussels representing the EU 27, then it is far more powerful against Dk. Curiously there’s been total radio silence about this, as well as the negotiations between Russia and the lo-land of Po-land over the Yamal pipeline new transit accords.


    1. I don’t have any real worries about Nord Stream II. Russia is plainly going to finish construction, and if Denmark manages to stall long enough that it can’t get started before the July-August eastern-Baltic closure, then it will have to begin when it can, or next year or whatever. Russia had no options, thanks to the American ‘surprise’ – other than to sign another transit contract with Ukraine, but I can’t see any possibility the pipeline will not be completed by the time the current contract runs out. The open end of the pipeline will be well-sealed, and those lines are designed to last in a marine environment for decades. The imperative is that Ukraine does not get another long-term transit contract. That does not necessarily mean there will be no transit, but as I have often pointed out, the GTS is on its last legs, and if they don’t have at least 40 BcM going through it it can’t even hold pressure. If they don’t get another multi-year contract for large volumes, it isn’t worth the cost of fixing it.

      Once NS II is finished, Europe can go through its power posturing of insisting half capacity is reserved for competitors, but realistically, who would they be? That idea will go out the window just as soon as it is clear there is unused capacity and the potential for much greater volumes, but the price is high because there isn’t enough gas coming ashore in Europe.


    2. Denmark has already given its permission for the route. The current stalling centers around the barge FORTUNA, which does not have a Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) and must use 12 anchors to hold its position to the degree of accuracy demanded. Denmark is pretty plainly going to stall until it is too late for construction to commence before the onset of codfish spawning, when the eastern Baltic will be closed to construction. I have speculated before now on the possibility of installing a DPS in FORTUNA. Would it really be needless expense? It would probably cost about 2 Million, maybe a bit more, likely less than $4 Million.

      Even if it could not be installed in time to commence construction right away – and that looks more unlikely by the day – it seems like it would be money well-spent if Russia intends to develop a deep-water pipelaying capability of its own. That might be a worthy area of expertise to venture into, considering how easy it was for Washington to stop construction dead – there was nobody but Allseas, and they are unwilling to defy the USA’s extraterritorial sanctions. How many other countries – Venezuela, for example – might someday aspire to building a gas pipeline to somewhere and run up against American disapproval which makes any such process impossible? the United States has clearly shown for everyone who was paying attention that it will arrest commercial projects anywhere in the world if it perceives that sales of its own product might suffer because of it. Surely there will be other customers who would use the services of a state company that is unafraid of American sanctions.

      AKADEMIK CHERSKIY and FORTUNA together are adequate to complete this project, but are by no means a competition-ready solution. It is painfully apparent there is little international competition in the market, and none that does not take its marching orders from Washington. It seems to me there is an opportunity here to take some serious market share from Allseas, made attractive by Washington’s chaos and banditry. Mind you, that would depend on the client also being unafraid of US sanctions, because if the USA could not stop the pipelaying company it would instantly think to sanction the company building the pipeline, and then its customers, and so on until it found some leverage. But all of that contributes to business independence from the United States, and reducing vulnerability to American meddling means reducing trade dependency until the loss of business is something you could handle. How much longer can America handle that? Its most important companies already depend on achieving a monopoly in market share for success.


  76. Srategic Culture Foundation: An Arrested Middle East – The ‘New Strategy for Securing the Realm’ Dissipates

    Alastair Crooke

    Some eight years ago, I wrote about the outbreak of popular stirring in the Middle East, then labelled the ‘Arab Awakening’. Multiple popular discontents were welling: demands for radical change proliferated, but above all, there was anger – anger at mountainous inequalities in wealth; blatant injustices and political marginalisation; and at a corrupt and rapacious élite. The moment had seemed potent, but no change resulted. Why? …

    I don’t agree with his bit about Red/Blue USA existentialist stuff. It’s the same underneath whomever forms the veneer of difference on top. Small changes can make big differences but the supertanker is not for turning even if there is a recognition that maybe it should. In short, the USA has not hit rock bottom yet, bounced and then finally settle


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