The USA is Not Ever Going to be a Major Gas Supplier to Europe. That’s Never.

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Uncle Volodya says, “When I find that stubbornness continually overrides common sense regardless of the logic of my argument, it seems that the only effective solution is to tell them to go ahead and stick their finger in the socket. And what I find is that what my argument failed to solve, electricity does quite nicely..”

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

– Lao Tzu

“Here’s to the few who forgive what you do, and the fewer who don’t even care”

Leonard Cohen, from “The Night Comes On”

There must be a term for words which become so inexorably and automatically associated with one another that one of them is immediately assumed without being spoken. Like “dairy ice-cream”. I realize there are non-dairy kinds of ice cream, but generally speaking, ‘dairy’ is assumed when you say ‘ice cream’. And so it is becoming with “the United States of America” and “hyperbole”. Always known to some degree for self-aggrandizement, America’s official conversation with the world now routinely includes not only oft-repeated falsehoods that are intended to be repeated until they become truth, but wildly improbable schemes which seem to have as their purpose a general inoculation of feelgood in the American population, a return to those grand old ‘anything is possible’ days.

Certainly nobody else believes them.

An instructive, and repetitious example is the premise that the United States is going to become the major supplier of economical energy to Europe, supplanting Russia’s pipeline-delivered gas with tanker-loads of ‘freedom gas’ – I wish I was kidding, but I’m not; American leaders seem to think Europeans would eat a brick if you painted ‘freedom’ on it – brought to Europe’s LNG terminals by ship.

I’m sorry to keep bringing it up, and I know we’ve been over this and over this…but. The USA simply will not stop with this silly fable that good old American can-do will overcome all obstacles, regardless the difficulties they present. In fact, it calls to mind a line I read in Phillip Lewis’s wonderful “The Barrowfields” – “A beguiling optimism is often the first step toward folly”. America convinces itself that it can do it, and then afterward you’re not allowed to point out that it did not do it, because that would be rude and a repudiation of its cheeky and inspiring optimism.

How many times now – and you don’t even have to cast your memory that far back – has the United States promised that if the ‘free world’ (whatever that means) will only band together with it in a coalition (which it will lead, naturellement) they will turn this or that nation, presently afflicted with dictatoritis and not enough freedom, into a prosperous western-leaning market democracy? How many times has that actually come about? Has it ever? Iraq and Libya were ruined, spun in the negative-development chamber and spat out decades behind what they were before the Glorious Liberation. The Coalition Road Show gave it an honest try in Syria, where the megalomaniacal plan was to ease up on ISIS until it had managed to wipe out Assad, then pour on the coal in the home stretch, evict the flea-bitten rebels and implant a liberalizing Syrian leader who would occupy himself with gay marriage and other important western issues, while ‘international investors’ took over state energy production. Unfortunately – depending on your viewpoint – Russia spoiled that rosy outlook, and the western media went from confidently and mockingly forecasting Assad’s imminent demise to squawking about damage from Russian airstrikes that had not even taken off yet to grudgingly – and bitterly – allowing that Assad could remain in charge in the country that voted him into that capacity. America, largely on its own, tried it in Venezuela, and while it was predictably successful at causing ruin, it achieved nothing much else, although it’s early days yet and it has obviously not given up. Occasionally, it is distracted by the possibility of causing ruin in Iran, and wavers back and forth on which place it plans to ruin next.

Anyway, never mind that – I only wanted to point out that a sunny assessment of American intention to re-order this or that reality, plus $3.95 will get you a Caffe Mocha Grande at Starbucks.

I would therefore like to redirect your attention to the latest piece of caterwauling about Nord Stream II.

Don’t be thrown by the “Commentary Europe” tag at the top; the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom is actually in Washington, deep in the bowels of the Heritage Institute think tank, so it’s more a case of “Commentary About What’s Good for Europe, by Americans”. But you probably caught on as soon as you saw that ‘Center for Freedom’ elaboration. Washington is the epicenter of a country that is crazy about freedom, and likes to throw that buzzword into everything, although it has largely lost its meaning considering all Washington’s recent regime-change projects have lapsed into infighting and ruin just as soon as they were ‘liberated’. Well, freedom is untidy, as Donald Rumsfeld warned us. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Anyway, Daniel Kochis and Russia’s desperation. You probably got the feeling yourself, even without being told, that Russia was ‘desperate’ by the glacial pace at which progress toward finishing Nord Stream II is proceeding; at how the AKADEMIK CHERSKIY sailed halfway around the world, continuously changing its destination, before meandering into the Baltic, and then lying idle for weeks at the German port of Mukran. Perhaps at how Putin desperately announced that Nord Stream II would be completed and operational this year…or maybe next. You can just tell they’re tearing their hair out in Kremlintown.

What’s actually happening is that the Danes are once more rendering yeoman service to Washington, and doing what they do best – stalling, like they did on the original permit to use a route through Danish waters. Stalled long enough that America got a sanctions bill through which ordered Swiss offshore-pipelaying company Allseas to cease operations on the Nord Stream II line, or face the wrath of The Freedom Machine. Then the pipeline could not be completed before the deadline which exempted it from European gas law, which was specially rewritten to apply to the Nord Stream II pipeline and no other, which is a whole other problem, although not insurmountable.

The Russian offshore pipelayer AKADEMIK CHERSKIY will have to work in concert with the pipelaying barge FORTUNA. The ship has a Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) which automatically adjusts rudders and propulsion to ensure the ship remains in a static position with a high degree of accuracy. The barge does not, and typically uses a 12-anchor system to maintain a static position. The Danes don’t like that, because of the possibility of disturbing unexploded ordnance on the bottom of what was a hotly-contested sea during the Second World War. It seems irrelevant that the path of the pipeline is right alongside the existing Nord Stream I line. The Russians wanted to moor the barge to the ship, and use the ship’s DPS to hold both units in position, but the Danes don’t like that idea very much. Or Washington doesn’t, which amounts to the same thing. The timeline is such that if the Danes can stall for a few more weeks, the eastern Baltic will be closed to construction for all of July and August for the annual codfish spawning. Then Russia would be looking at autumn at the earliest, when the weather begins to become a concern for offshore construction.

I would think that if Russia were actually desperate, they would have taken steps by now to fit a DPS system in the barge as well; it’s only a couple of million bucks, set against the costs of delaying the completion of the pipeline for months, perhaps until next spring. But apparently Russia exhibits desperation differently than other people – perhaps they’ve lost their wits entirely in their desperation, and have not thought of this simple strategy.

Meanwhile, Washington is hugging itself with glee, because there’s nothing sweeter than that moment you snatch something away from some poor fool when it’s almost within reach; if you’re going to hit someone’s elbow so that their ice cream falls off the cone onto the sidewalk, don’t do it while they’re still paying for it. No; wait until their tongue is stretching out for that first lick…Oopsie.

Anyway, that’s us caught up to now, and Mr. Kochis’s insistence that Washington must keep the pressure on, success is almost within America’s grasp. I hate to be a spoiler – sorry, was that your ice cream, Daniel? – but that’s not so at all.

Russia has a five-year transit contract with Ukraine that endures until 2024. Current pipeline configurations are sufficient to ensure Gazprom can meet European demand until Nord Stream II is completed and operational, and if it can’t, well…whose fault is that? Russia’s? Hardly. It is the United States who has stepped in the way at every turn, because…because it is so concerned about the security of Europe’s gas supplies that it figures it would be better for the Europeans to go short, and for prices to go up, than for them to get too much cheap gas from Russia. I think that’s probably clear to Europeans, as well, they are not as stupid as they sometimes pretend.

But what I would like to take a closer look at is Daniel’s rationale for stopping the construction of Nord Stream II. Apart from perhaps he is a closet environmentalist, ha, ha. Seriously, though, he claims in the same paragraph that the Nord Stream II pipeline is both ‘economically unnecessary’…and would ‘greatly increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas’.

Huh?

“The Nord Stream II (NSII) natural gas pipeline would connect Germany with Russia. It is neither economically necessary nor geopolitically prudent. However, it would greatly increase European dependence on Russian gas, magnify Russia’s ability to use its European energy dominance as a political trump card, and specifically undermine U.S. allies in Eastern and Central Europe.”

This is a classic example of trying to bombard the reader with diverse arguments, and inadvertently contradicting one’s own case. If the Nord Stream II pipeline is economically unnecessary, how could it greatly increase European dependence on Russia gas? If Europe is awash in gas, does it have to take more? Why? How could Russia’s ability to use its European energy dominance as a political trump card be magnified with a pipeline that is economically unnecessary? Are Europeans stupid, or something? How would an economically unnecessary pipeline give Putin tremendous leverage to pressure European leaders to acquiesce to his geostrategic aims? Wouldn’t they just say, “Go fuck yourself, Putin; we have more gas already than we know what to do with”?

How would an economically unnecessary pipeline greatly undermine collective defense in Europe? Try using your head, why not – I promise it won’t hurt.

Washington’s aim is to preserve such Russian gas transit as must take place through Ukraine, because Ukraine has evolved into a reliable, if unscrupulous ally who will introduce complications into that transit so that Russia appears to be an unreliable supplier. Particularly when compared with its would-be competitor, the United States, which would just love to bring huge volumes of freedom gas to Europe. But wait a minute; who’s actually applying energy leverage here? Isn’t it the country that is trying to remove a competitor so that it can introduce its own supply? At a higher price, or else it can’t make money? And isn’t that the same country which is threatening to sanction any European companies which aid and abet the construction or operation of the Russian pipeline? How, then, does that square with Protecting Europe’s Energy Security?

“Russia currently supplies around 40% of Europe’s natural gas, utilizing the existing Nord Stream I pipelines and overland pipelines via Belarus and Ukraine. Completing Nord Stream II would allow Russia to decrease gas flows via its overland pipelines in favor of the Baltic Sea routes of Nord Stream I and II—and Gazprom has clear plans to do exactly that.

This would make Europe far more vulnerable to Russian energy blackmail. Analyst Mikhail Korchemkin notes that a completed NSII would allow Putin “to quickly cut off over 80 percent of the supply of Russian gas to the European Union on short notice.” This would give Putin tremendous leverage to pressure European leaders to acquiesce to his geostrategic aims; Germany’s growth as the continent’s key natural gas transit hub could also buy Russia some political space for maneuver in a critical U.S. ally.”

Uhhh…help me out, here, would you? Where does the gas originate that currently comes to Europe via overland pipelines transiting Belarus and Ukraine? Mmm, yeah, Russia – that’s what I thought. And who’s the leader of Russia, again? Uh huh; Putin, that’s right. So, theoretically, couldn’t Putin shut off all of Europe’s supply of Russian gas…right now? Couldn’t he have kind of done that at any point during the 17 years he was President of the Russian Federation? ‘Cause, you see, I’m having a little trouble figuring out what it is about having a seabed pipeline that would make him more likely to do it now.

Also, I’m not sure it was a good idea to point out so insensitively that the American plans for European energy security do not include Germany being the continent’s key natural-gas hub. Because I’m not really sure how much of a loyal U.S. ally Germany really is now. The most recent Ambassador of the United States to Germany, Richard Grennell, was celebrated with notably more enthusiasm upon his departure than upon his arrival; prior to his departure, several serving German political figures had expressed their displeasure with his performance in the starkest terms. Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), suggested Foreign Minister Heiko Maas should recommend his expulsion, angrily characterizing Grennell’s diplomatic style as that of “a high commissioner of an occupying power”. Carsten Schneider, caucus manager of the Social Democrats (SPD), called him a ‘complete diplomatic failure’ – that’s not going to look good on a Resume. He went on to accuse Grennell of “damag[ing] trans-Atlantic relations with his repeated clumsy provocations.”

https://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4710/993/1600/stupidity.2.jpgNor was German anger at American high-handedness reserved for its ambassador. Chairman of the Bundestag Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy Klaus Ernst charged “The US is trying to accomplish its economic interests through illegal extraterritorial sanctions, which it directs at their partners and allies. I assume this as an assault on Europe’s sovereignty. These actions are seriously damaging the transatlantic relationship.” Deutsche Welle complained last year, “In the past two years, the US has taken on its closest allies and companies that it doesn’t like. As we have seen recently with the trade conflict between China and the US, America is willing to hurt itself to make a point and try to get a leg up. It has often been accused of putting its business interests at the forefront instead of the moral arguments it claims, especially when it comes to huge financial fines on banks and companies accused of breaking US sanctions.

Once again this fight is about business, influence peddling and shows of strength. It could even be about Nord Stream AG, the company behind the pipeline whose biggest shareholder is Russia’s Gazprom. Whatever it is, the US has shown the lengths it is willing to go to in order to make a point no matter the broader consequences.”

Those last five words should have set off a blinking red warning light in the corner of American Foreign Policy’s eye. In the event of continued American meddling, ‘the broader consequences’ could be a major European realignment. The schoolyard bully approach is beyond not working. It is plainly not just the way Germany feels about it, either. Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, was quite blunt; “The EU does not recognise the extraterritorial application of U.S. sanctions, which it considers to be contrary to international law.” Keep on pushing, America – as Daniel Kochis insists is just what the doctor ordered – and your mouth is going to get your face in trouble. The law is most decidedly on Europe’s side, and a customarily breezy American refusal to recognize the jurisdiction of the court is not going to cut it when caving to Washington is going to mean much higher gas prices for European customers. And it would – guaranteed – for at least two reasons; (1) the Americans cannot sell shipborne gas for as low a price as pipeline gas, or they can’t make a profit, and (2) the LNG-tanker logistics chain could not even hope to supply gas in the volumes a pipeline can, so there will be shortages of gas that already costs a lot more when there is enough of it.

America’s plan for flogging its LNG to Europe relies on regasification terminals, which will turn its liquefied gas transported by tankers back into gas for onward transmission to Europe. Of a planned 108 LNG regasification terminals in Europe, 26 – by far the largest share – are slated for Germany. You remember – those beer-drinking schnitzel-eaters you just infuriated.

Russia is entering the LNG game, too. Novatek has a large export terminal operational on the Yamal peninsula. Novatek plans to open another large export terminal, Arctic LNG2, and a small/medium terminal at Vysotsk. Gazprom plans large export terminals at Ust-Luga (Baltic LNG, right next door to Germany) and on the Barents Sea (Shtokman-Teriberka). Russia has an icebreaking LNG Carrier, the CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE, already in service, with another 14 projected to follow.

Let’s go back for a little more Daniel. Mr. Kochis advises us that allowing Russia to complete its seabed pipeline would enable it to shut off gas transit through Ukraine, which it would and which Russia does indeed intend to do. Their assessed reasons, though, are a little different. Mr. Kochis wails that this would “benefit Russia by staunching the flow of money which eastern European nations, like Ukraine, collect via transit fees—money which Kyiv utilizes to defend itself from Russia’s continued illegal occupation of Crimea and the ongoing war in Ukraine’s Donbas.” You see he made some extra points with Ukraine right there, by spelling ‘Kiev’ the way they like to see it. But I’m not sure what his point is there – is he implying that if Russia has to pay transit fees to ‘Kyiv’…it can’t afford to continue its ‘illegal occupation of Crimea and the ongoing war in Ukraine’s Donbas’? I would have to say that’s a pretty unrealistic appraisal of the state of affairs. The current transit contract means the transited amount next year will drop from around 60 BcM to around 40 BcM – does that mean Russia will annex more of Ukraine with the savings? You never know; after all, Petro Poroshenko openly declared Russia was the enemy, and his successor, Zelensky, has done nothing to mend relations. Why would Moscow want to send about 30% of the energy it exports to Europe through enemy territory – and pay the enemy to do it? Are Russians stupid? Are Ukrainians? Why do they rely on their main enemy to keep their economy from tanking? Is there something about war they don’t understand? And what kind of tactician is Kochis? He advocates the continuation of that lunatic situation.

Finally, Mr. Kolchis claims the Nord Stream II pipeline project is “opposed by most European nations”. Is it? No. It is opposed vociferously by Poland and the Baltics. The latter reflexively oppose everything Russia does – if Moscow announced the adoption of the marshmallow as the Official State Fruit, the Baltics would scream that marshmallows posed an unacceptable threat to their national security. As for Poland, maybe you haven’t talked to them lately. The Polish contract with Russia for gas transit via the Polish section of the Yamal Pipeline ran out May 17th, and was not renewed, a fact that was loudly cheered by the Poles. They were free of the stinking Russian gas yoke, by God!! Henceforth, transit capacity would be booked by auctions: over 90% of the technical capacity at Kondratka TGPS point and 100% of the technical capacity at Mallnow TGPS point would be at the disposal of the TGPS Operator. Jubilation! Now you’ll see some commerce!!

Which ushered in a period of thumb-twiddling  such as has never before been seen. “Earlier on Tuesday operators of European gas pipelines reported that the transit via the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Russia through Belarus and Poland to Germany had been brought down to zero on Tuesday. According to the results of the latest auction, the Polish section of the pipe was booked only by 3.7% on Tuesday.” Where were all the eager customers looking to move gas?

The Nord Stream II pipeline is also vociferously opposed by Ukraine and the United States of America, for obvious reasons in both cases. The last time I looked, neither nation was part of the EU, and the United States is not even part of Europe.

The Nord Stream II pipeline is going to be completed. American sanctions will not stop it. Russia is not afraid of American sanctions, and the constant threat of sanctions against European companies is hardening Europe against America. The Ukrainian gas transit system has had little to no maintenance over the last 20 years, and it is in rough shape – the Ukrainians have no money to fix it, and anyone who entertained thoughts of giving them money to modernize it would be wise to keep an eye on those funds and where they went. Russia is under no obligation to renew a gas-transit agreement which sends its energy exports over enemy territory, and I feel pretty confident there will be no subsequent long-term contract: Ukraine should do it the European way, through daily auctions, like the Poles do. It would certainly reduce the numbers required in the sales department.

The current American policy of grabbing market share for itself by using extraterritorial sanctions to suspend competitor’s projects is plainly not ‘leveling the playing field’; it is a directive to Europe to limit its purchases to American product and to pay much higher prices than it has become accustomed to pay. If you were looking for a word to encapsulate the process, you might give ‘extortion’ a try. The United States does not have anywhere near enough LNG tankers to ensure a constant resupply of gas to Europe, and could not in its wildest dreams match pipeline volumes. Shortages, even if temporary, mean price hikes. And American shale production is in terminal decline, regardless what carny-barker speculators tell you. Listen to two giants in the industry – Halliburton and Schlumberger.

“U.S. shale oil fracking has already peaked and is in a period of sustained contraction, according to two major providers of services to the industry.

That view from Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. signals an eventual deceleration in U.S. oil production, which is currently at record highs. Slower output growth would have global ramifications, given additional American barrels are forecast to account for most of the increase in worldwide supply this year.

Halliburton CEO Jeff Miller said Tuesday that customer spending in North America will keep falling this year. That echoes Schlumberger, which said Friday it’s continuing to shrink its business in the region to match lower demand…Halliburton cut 22% of its frack fleet last year, Miller said. Schlumberger, the largest oil and gas services company, has already reduced its pressure-pumping fleet in half, and said Friday it has no intention of bringing that equipment back into service. It took $12.7 billion in pretax charges for the third quarter and is restructuring its North American land business.”

I’m well aware facts are not going to change American behavior. Exceptionalism runs deep in official America, and today’s American political lineup cut its teeth on can-do. They won’t be told they can’t, and as earlier European references pointed out, America is stubborn to a fault. The United States has gotten out of the habit of analyzing and weighing up the checks and balances, because even when it didn’t win, it tells itself it did, so that its slipstream is full of wins.

It’s sometimes referred to as ‘the omnipotence paradox’. The solution to such contradictions for Zeus was to turn both opponents into static stars. Someday you might see a new star called ‘America’. And you might see it sooner than you think. Figuratively speaking, of course.

 

 

154 thoughts on “The USA is Not Ever Going to be a Major Gas Supplier to Europe. That’s Never.

  1. USA “Can Do”:

    The US military has tried to block a Russian patrol in Syria.
    Alexandra Ganga, June 10, 2020

    According to an agency source, the Americans tried to block a Russian military Vehicle near the village of Abra, but their armoured car conked out.

    It was stated that at the time of the manoeuvre, a banging noise was heard coming from beneath the bonnet of the American M1235 MRAP [The International MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, an armoured fighting vehicle of the US military — ME] and smoke started coming out. The vehicle came to a halt.

    The Russian patrol continued unhindered along its route.

    Neither the RF Ministry of Defence nor the Pentagon has commented on what happened.

    It is noteworthy that this is not the first such incident.

    It is also worth noting that the Pindosi invited themselves there!

    source

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    1. PS Thanks for the article, Mark! Well written and researched. As I have mentioned many times before, I often use your articles for discussion in advanced English conversational classes. Interestingly, I never come across Libtards or Kreakly in these classes, possibly because they are professionals who work for a living. They are also young — late 20s/early 30s. They are certainly not all uncritical of government policies, its ministers or the president. In other words, they are not supportive of “oppositionists” and NGO, Washington funded arseholes.

      Like

      1. Thanks, I’m honoured! Upon reading it over again just after publication, I thought I had noticed a grave error – how could a DPS be installed in FORTUNA, when it is a barge and likely has no source of propulsion! Idiot! A DPS likely consists of a number of Z-drives or RADS (Right-Angle Drives) which constantly adjust to push the hull this way and that so that it remains in a fixed position regardless of wind and tide. In any case, I looked up FORTUNA, and have so far been unable to discover if it is actually self-powered, although its design is unusual for a pure barge in that it has a high, curved counter that looks to contain a rudder-post and rudder. The video I saw showed her shifting from her berth at St Petersburg, and although there was a tug at the bows to assist, that is typical for large craft getting underway, and she appeared to be under her own power.

        Not that it would be impossible to fit a DPS in a vessel that has no propulsion system, but it would be more difficult and expensive. Barges are typically moved about and held in position by a tug or several tugs until they can anchor.

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  2. Stupendous article, Mark. Thanks for all your work.

    One factor which the optimistic Americans, Poles and Balts never appear to consider worthy of mention is that there are alternative markets for gas produced in the RF. Maybe, just maybe, adults in Germany and elsewhere have heard of places like China which has a large and growing appetite for energy. Perhaps said adults are old enough to have experienced power cuts and the disruption they cause at Industrial and domestic levels. And then again perhaps they are adult enough to prefer security of energy supplies to short term political games like the stuff indulged in by student radicals or faculty members – or, regrettably, US, Polish and Baltic “leaders”.

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    1. Seconded, and thanks for your hard work, Mark.

      As long as Nordstream II remains uncompleted, the Americans don’t really care how Europeans will cope without a reliable supply of energy … unless and until the US discovers that Russia has decided to sell the energy (that would have been supplied to Europe thru Nordstream II) to China instead.

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      1. I think that at present the demand from each is close to equal, so that neither would be able to absorb double the supply; if Russia lost Europe, it would undoubtedly affect its exports negatively. Chinese demand is likely to grow, true, but there is no reason Russia cannot dominate both markets for so long as its reserves hold up, purely due to geography. Once the pipeline is complete, it will be all down to demand. The European mandarins in Brussels will play at control, but when they restrict supply, prices rise, so Russia comes out about the same either way, while it is Europe which pressured Russia to sell for hub prices rather than long-term contracting tied to the price of oil. The important part is getting the pipeline finished – it will be much more difficult for Washington to persuade Europe not to use it once it is operational, especially considering they would have to pay more for Freedom Gas.

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    2. Thanks, Cortes! The corollary to that is that while Russia has other markets for its gas, Europe does not have a lot of other suppliers. Its domestic producers are all in decline, and while Brussels is fond of pointing out that Europe steadily uses less gas in its ‘transition to renewables’, domestic gas supplies’ rate of decline is steeper yet, so that it continues to import more gas. Renewables are a great idea, but their efficiency will have to improve by an order of magnitude before any country can consider a renewables-only power grid. Of course America is shoving its hand into the air and shouting “Me!! Me!! Over here!!”. But as we have discussed repeatedly, supply across the ocean by lumbering tankers is going to be competitive with pipelines only when the pipeline’s supply runs out. Russia has said before now there is plenty of room in the European market for American gas in whatever volumes it can deliver, but that’s not the way America does international business. It likes entities to be dependent upon American supply, because that translates to leverage. If it were to speculate now, aloud, what might happen to Europe if, say, a problem developed with American supplies, Europe would just laugh. That’s not leverage. Defense forces are now less leverage as well, as despite the frantic scaremongering among European leaders – led by the Balts – not very many Europeans really believe Russia is going to attack. So reminding Europe how many Americans are there to defend them causes irritation rather than a sense of obligation.

      America is the one who is desperate – it is frantic to stop a pipeline which will allow Russia to cease transit, or at least cease depending on transit, through Ukraine, because the USA cannot tinker with flows across the seabed the way it can introduce problems in transit within Ukraine. Problems with Russian deliveries remind consumers how nice it is to have an alternative (American) supply of gas.

      There is no denying that being the major supplier of energy to a continent puts one in an influential position. Which is exactly the situation the USA desires for itself. It cares nothing for European ‘energy security’ in reality, and wants Europeans to rely on Uncle Sam not because it makes America feel warm and good to know Europe is ‘secure’ or even so much to gain market share as it is to gain leverage; leverage which can be applied to gain political considerations and expand American influence upon European decision-making. The security of lasting control over Europe’s money supply; it would still use the Euro, of course, but there would be no talk of moving away from the dollar, and that’s going to start coming up more often considering the Fed is printing new money like crazy, $2 Trillion this quarter where new money only amounted to about $8 Trillion between 2008 and 2019. Now that the unthinkable has happened and a NATO country has actually purchased missile systems from Russia, American control would keep the defense-equipment supply chain solidly American or at least domestic European, possibly with an expanded American investor base in European companies. It’s safe to say there’s a lot at stake.

      But there is no evidence to suggest an America in charge of European energy supplies would be unlikely to interfere in national issues using its influence as an energy provider – it’s doing it now, or attempting to, right out in the open. It has frequently painted Europe’s energy-supplier choice as either-or, not both, and urged Europe to greatly increase its imports of American gas and oil. In case the Europeans are slow to get it, it has dangled the possibility of being selectively cut off from the American market, which I am pretty sure is illegal under WTO law. At the same time, I see little if any real evidence of Russia using its energy-supplier position for coercion. It could, certainly. But where’s the backtrail?

      This is the big one, though. Washington was successful at stopping South Stream, although it would not be now, as Bulgaria learned a hard lesson. If it is successful also at stopping Nord Stream II, I don’t believe Russia will try again, perhaps for decades. It will continue to transit gas over presently-existing land routes until current agreements expire, and then try to make a good deal for continuing for so long as the pipeline system holds together. If Europe experiences shortfalls, it will be no skin off Russia’s nose, because prices will rise sharply and Russia will continue to make money. Ideally, though, it would like to keep the European market as well as China. Exports to the latter are likely to grow . It made me laugh yesterday when I saw Jens Stoltenberg finally registering alarm at the Russia-China alliance the west pushed both powers into, at Washington’s urging. But he never blames Washington. Stoltenberg is the perfect stooge, thick as a BC pine. Any thicker, and he’d be soundproof.

      https://euobserver.com/foreign/148597

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  3. As regards that idiot Zelensky:

    In the Crimea Zelensky invited you repent
    IA REGNUM, June 11, 2020
    Simferopol, June 11, 2020, 09:22 – REGNUM President of the Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky should repent for lying to the Crimea, said Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Crimea Georgy Muradov on June 11 in a commentary reported by RIA Novosti.

    The official commented on Zelensky’s statements in an interview with “Ukrainian Truth”. The President of the Ukraine said that the Crimea would return to the Ukraine, and the people of Russia would allegedly be put to shame over this.

    “Repentance must come. Repentance for lying and slandering the Crimea and Crimeans, for endless blockades (water, energy, transport, food) aimed at creating a humanitarian catastrophe”, Muradov said.

    He also noted that Kiev had severed profitable economic ties with Russia, which provided for the existence of the Ukraine itself, and also plunged the country’s population into the gloom of semi-Nazi fervor.

    The Ukraine should also be ashamed of the decades of humiliation of the inhabitants of the peninsula who had been systematically deprived of the right to study in their native language, as well as for threats of ethnic cleansing in the Crimea, which led to the peninsula choosing to return to Russia, the Vice Prime Minister added.

    As REGNUM reported earlier, the former Foreign Minister of the Ukraine Pavel Klimkin said that the Russian Federation would never be ashamed, and it would never surrender the Crimea. According to Klimkin, the Crimea could only be “taken away” from Russia.

    Really? By you and whose army?

    https://regnum-ru.turbopages.org/s/regnum.ru/news/2978697.html?utm_source=yxn

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  4. And get this — the latest from Banderastan:

    Some Supreme Rada arsehole deputy there wants to rename Bandera Street in Kiev in honour of George Floyd.

    From one criminal’s name to another.

    Yes, Floyd probably died unlawfully, apart from the fact he was full of dope when he shrugged his mortal coil in hospital, but he wasn’t exactly a Mr. Nice Guy.

    source

    Hope the link works properly this time!

    Like

    1. No, he wasn’t a saint, and I doubt anyone on earth is. It in no way detracts from the fact that American police routinely and casually kill black people in their custody and during stops for suspected offenses which should not involve violence. The papers now say Chauvin is unlikely to be convicted because the choke maneuver he used is in the Minneapolis Police training manual and he was taught to use it as a tool for subduing people. They were probably intimidated by Floyd’s size, but what does it say about a police department when they have your hands and arms secured behind your back and they still feel it necessary to kneel on your neck to render you unconscious? It seems a state of complete and utter helplessness is the desired norm, which probably goes far toward explaining why it is easier to just kill you and say they feared for their lives.

      Like

    2. Yes, Floyd … wasn’t exactly a Mr. Nice Guy.

      So?

      The point being made is that even in the USA one should not excuse murder just because the victim had had criminal convictions 5-10 years before.

      Heck, I’ve worked with people on lifetime probation for murder and I would be very annoyed if some cop tried to excuse murdering one of them because my coworker killed someone in a brawl 25 years before.

      The dope statement apparently read “potential”, kinda like, hey he’s dead and he’s black, he must have been using drugs–well at least an aspirin, so we will toss it in just in case the officer needs some support.

      Like

      1. He was apparently suspected of having passed a counterfeit $20.00 bill. Again, this is not necessarily a flag that the individual is a counterfeiter, and crooks typically do not like to counterfeit the $20.00 note because although it is easy to pass, you need a bundle of them to add up to real money. Unless you are patient, like the Chinese, and prefer to exploit an advantage without worrying much about how much paper you’re using.

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/01/28/900000-counterfeit-seized-customs-all-one-dollar-bills/4598937002/

        But lots of people have passed a counterfeit note without knowing. I saw the video from the time Floyd stepped out of the car, and he did not offer violence; they cuffed his hands behind his back as soon as they took him out of the vehicle.

        Like

        1. I have once passed what I thought was a loonie to my local bartender.

          We still do not know what it was, the obverse said Panama but no value indicated but it looked a lot like a loonie.

          What we see in the Floyd case is systemic racism in the police force.

          Like

          1. A complicating factor is that they had previous encounters. Both worked security at a club for over a year. Was there a previous beef between the two?

            If Chauvin murdered Floyd with multiple motivations (with racism perhaps not even the primary motivation) , it takes the shine off of the Floyd death as the perfect example for the BLM movement.

            Yet, the media/anti-Trump elements had far too much invested in the media blitz to back off. Floyd and Chauvin would otherwise be just two scumbags with one of them being a cop.

            Another example of a disconnect between the media promoted imagery and reality was the Jessica Lynch story. Here is one of the more thorough accounts:

            https://www.voltairenet.org/article30097.html

            Do not understate the degree that the Floyd matter is being exploited as means to stop Trump from what appears to be a near certain election victory. We had three years of Russia-gate which ultimately fizzled. This is the last ditch effort to stop Trump and to discredit anyone who supports him – the final showdown between organized evil and narcissistic ignorance.

            Like

            1. The Lynch article above is well worth reading in its entirety as a deep dive into how news stories are fabricated – it’s a real team effort showing seanless cooperation from the military through the media. Its likely the best example of the legendary American can-do spirit.

              Like

              1. Yes, Voltaire Net reminds me a little of John Helmer in that both have amazing sources and come up with stuff that enrages you with its blatant lying and manipulation. It was from Voltaire Net that I learned Abdelhakim Belhaj, the ‘hero of Tripoli’, who was made ‘military governor’ of the city upon its overthrow by the flip-flops backed by US and coalition air power, went straightaway thereafter to Syria tpo be the commander of the ‘Free Syrian Army’. With a big bag of cash to help him get started.

                Another classic I have often mentioned here was the Hill & Knowlton PR op which saw the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States in the role of a ‘nurse’ who tearfully claimed to have seen Iraqi soldiers at ‘her hospital’ pull babies out of incubators and leave them on the hospital floors to die while they took the stolen incubators back to Iraq. She was never a nurse and the entire scenario was a fabrication designed to rouse world fury against Iraq. Here’s a teaser thar should make your blood boil – was anyone ever punished? Of course not.

                “Throughout the campaign, the Wirthlin Group conducted daily opinion polls to help Hill & Knowlton take the emotional pulse of key constituencies so it could identify the themes and slogans that would be most effective in promoting support for US military action. After the war ended, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced an Emmy award-winning TV documentary on the PR campaign titled “To Sell a War.” The show featured an interview with Wirthlin executive Dee Alsop in which Alsop bragged of his work and demonstrated how audience surveys were even used to physically adapt the clothing and hairstyle of the Kuwait ambassador so he would seem more likeable to TV audiences. Wirthlin’s job, Alsop explained, was “to identify the messages that really resonate emotionally with the American people.” The theme that struck the deepest emotional chord, they discovered, was “the fact that Saddam Hussein was a madman who had committed atrocities even against his own people, and had tremendous power to do further damage, and he needed to be stopped.”

                https://prwatch.org/books/tsigfy10.html

                Yet another was the glorified and manipulated death of ‘American hero’ Pat Tillman. Tillman actually was a hero; he turned down a multimillion-dollar pro football contract to enlist in the infantry after 9-11, and was by all accounts every bit the great guy everybody said he was, a credit to his country and to his family. But he was accidentally shot by soldiers from his own side when the two groups split up and then unexpected re-encountered each other, and the manner of his death was spun by the Pentagon and senior military officers into a classic going-over-the-top, charging-the-machine-gun-nest tale of breathtaking heroism calculated to wrench at America’s heartstrings.

                https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-really-happened-to-pat-tillman/

                We regularly hold up politicians and senior military officers for their reprehensible conduct, and express our disgust at their behavior and their falsehoods. But there is a whole other layer of human sludge between them and the audience, and that layer is the media and its professional manipulators who study psychology solely to use it to manipulate well-meaning people into supporting actions rooted entirely in self-interest but disguised as outraged morality that must have satisfaction. And they are never, ever punished. The engineers of successful manipulations are advanced and rise in their profession with commensurate salary rewards.

                Like

                1. Even in the case of Pat Tillman’s death, rumour has it that Tillman had been set up by the Pentagon. Tillman had become critical of the US army’s conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had made his opinions known to others in the US army. He had corresponded with Noam Chomsky and planned to meet with him. The US Army had to find a way to rein Tillman in without tarnishing its own reputation among the US general public. Killing him in a false flag set-up that preserved his hero status while retaining public affection and loyalty for the military was the answer.

                  Like

                2. Voltaire people are pretty crazy but sometimes lunatics have important information, as I learned from playing RPG games. The Tillman thing is well known however. After I saw it on Family Guy, a cartoon that I watched very rarely, I realized that it was a very subversive cartoon and that American society had some real problems if stuff like this was allowed on prime time. The other episode that was particularly shocking was where all the main characters decided to kill an abusive and violent boyfriend of a sister of one of them in the woods and didn’t tell anyone.

                  Like

                3. @ JEN – The three conjectures about Tillman’s death are:
                  – friendly fire accident (promoted by the Pentagon)
                  – a deliberate hit to stop him from publicly going anti-war
                  – a fragging by fellow soldiers who resented him fame
                  The 2nd reason seems the most plausible.
                  @ BLATNOi
                  Voltaire people are pretty crazy but sometimes lunatics have important information…
                  From a admittedly brief review of recent posts, I did not see lunacy in their content. Is there anything in particular that would fall into the lunatic basket?

                  Like

          2. I think you must mean a Toonie, the $2.00 coin. The Panamanian Balboa looks very much like it, and apparently they are made at the same mint in Winnipeg.

            https://www.retireinpanamatours.com/post/canadians-living-in-panama-and-moving-to-panama/

            From the latter reference:

            “Panama’s currency is the Balboa, which since the inception of Panama in 1903 has been pegged to the US Dollar. Panama mints it own coins, this are the same denomination as Canada’s, except no Toonie yet. I sometimes get in trouble when I go back to Canada with Panama coins in my pocket, as our $1 balboa, is exactly the size and style as the Canadian Toonie, and could easily be passed off as one. The paper bills in circulation are old US treasury bills. Another interesting fact is currently Panamas coins are being minted by the Royal Mint of Canada.”

            The photo featured in the first reference is so blurry you can’t make out any detail, but the second reference includes a crystal-clear photo of both sides of the Balboa. There’s no corresponding photo of the Toonie, but I’m sure you’ve seen enough of those that the resemblance will be immediately obvious.

            Like

    3. My credential as a SJW against police brutality are strong. Yet, the link between racism and police murder is not a strong one. As explained in an earlier posting, the rate of murder of whites by police is about 2.7 time greater. True, adjusted for population, the ratio may seem disproportionately skewed towards black murders. But, a more appropriate metric is the crime rate based on the reasonable assumption that the opportunity for police murder is a function of the amount of crime. With this metric, whites are more likely to be murdered by police.

      Unjustified police violence seems to be triggered by less than total subservience and groveling on command. Also, perhaps the police realize the murder of a white suspect draws far less media attention than a black suspect. That is the reality from my perspective.

      Like

    4. The autopsy report on George Floyd reported the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his blood. These substances could have come from medications he may have been taking at the time of his death. He did have some medical issues with his heart and the autopsy report noted that he was a carrier of the sickle cell trait. There is a possibility the police could have planted the substances on him. If Floyd had indeed been handling money just before his death, counterfeit or not, the money could have had these substances in minute amounts. That would not be an indication though that Floyd was addicted to these substances or was taking them illegally – the money could have been handled by someone else who had taken these substances before passing the bill to Floyd.

      Autopsy report on George Floyd:

      Click to access Autopsy_2020-3700_Floyd.pdf

      Like

    5. This is a good proposal – Floyd was merely a drugrat, pornographer and armed robber, so replacing Bandera with him is a marked improvement.

      Like

  5. That word ‘freedom’ that the usa loves so much has me thinking about a cap to wear.
    Freedom: Make america go away
    Freedom: Make america small
    Freedom: Make america socialist

    Thanks for an interesting report Mark. As the elections close in and the goons become more desperate I suspect they will try a military trick in the Baltic and risk everything. These are desperate fools and the entire Trump inner echelon is from the same West Point Class of 1986.
    Strange days ahead.

    Like

    1. I agree; it certainly is a strange climate for an important election. I have seen several sources, there was one at OffGuardian just yesterday, suggesting this was an attempt at regime change in the USA, but it failed because Trump did not behave as expected. It sounds insane, but when you consider such ops are usually mounted by the intelligence services and state department, neither of which is particularly loyal to Trump…

      Like

        1. Yeah, this is the Democrats peddling the meme that Trump has ‘lost the military’. Because apparently when a leader has ‘lost the military’, he’s done. The Democrats never give up trying to take Trump out by means other than an election, which tells you a lot on how they feel about their chances in that venue.

          Like

  6. Radars did not register missile flight before MH17 crash
    The Dutch prosecutor has admitted that the recording could have been deleted intentionally. He also admitted technical problems with registering a missile flight.

    Experts involved in the investigation into the crash in the Donbass of a Malaysian Boeing, flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, did not find traces of a missile or fighter flight at the time of the tragedy. According to the Australian publication Goodwindi Argus, these were not recorded by a radar station in the Ukraine or in Russia, which has been stated by the Dutch prosecutor Theis Berger during a court hearing on the death of passengers.

    At the same time, it was indicated in the court that the the Buk M1 missile, which is smaller than a drone in size, might not have been noticed by radar. Berger also admitted that Russian civilian services might not have saved data about the missile or that the radar could not have technically spotted it.

    Berger also cited the opinion of one of the experts, who put forward the version that the radar data had been deleted. “According to him, it was very easy to do,” the prosecutor added.

    Oh my! Lots of “might haves” and “could haves” there, when everybody knows that it was the Russians what done it!

    Source: RBC

    Like

    1. John Helmer: RUSSIA DID NOT HAND OVER SATELLITE IMAGES, MH17 COURT TOLD, THE US AND CHINA ALSO
      http://johnhelmer.net/russia-did-not-hand-over-satellite-images-mh17-court-told-the-us-and-china-also/

      A Dutch Government prosecutor has told the court trying charges of murder against the Russian state, three Russian soldiers and a Ukrainian in the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that satellite images were requested from the US, Russia and China. The Russian reply, announced yesterday in court by prosecutor Thijs Berger, was that the Russian satellite images were “not stored”. The Chinese reply, he added, was that there had been a Chinese satellite above eastern Ukraine at the time of the MH17 downing, but it was “not operational”. All three governments – the US, Russia, and China – refused to provide satellite images. …
      ####

      There’s plenty more to dig through at the link and it stinks to high heaven.

      So, what of Ukanian military radar data? or positioning of Ukranian air defense BUK’s known to be on exercise in the region and broadcast on Ukranian national television? Not a peep.

      What we have here is a stand-off. If the US produces images, then so will Russia and China. If the US doesn’t produce images (and no civilian images are available), Russia and China still could at any time if the case proceeds in to the legal wilderness it has already set its heart upon. I certainly don’t think the Dutch are creative enough legally to get away with bs, however hard they try. Are they being hung out to dry or is there some sort of unspoken agreement between the big powers?

      Like

      1. It is entirely possible the satellite data was not stored, as they describe it, over a long period of time, but every scrap of data which was captured during such a major international disaster would have been instantly requisitioned and put under lock and key. It’s quite believable that they would not be able to recover such information now, if you just asked today. But the news of the incident was flashed out as soon as it happened and everybody would have been instructed to save whatever information sensors recorded.

        It blows me away, the high-handed way the Dutch investigators order Russia to produce this and that. You know what? Fuck you guys. Russia offered all kinds of information and investigative assistance, and the response was mockery and accusation that Russia was trying to derail or pervert the investigation. So you guys figure it out. You can’t prove it happened the way you say it did, and Russia is under no obligation to help such a bunch of dinks.

        According to the Ukrainians, one ATC radar was not operating because it was taken down for maintenance, while MH-17 was out of range of the other. So I guess the inescapable conclusion is that Ukraine was controlling aircraft it could not see on radar anmd had really no idea where they were.

        “The Ukrainian radar data provided to the prosecution, according to Berger’s testimony, was fragmentary and incomplete. He reported the Ukrainian claim that their Chuguev radar station, closest to MH17’s flight path, had been switched off for “routine maintenance” during July 17, 2014, and at the time of the crash. Berger also claimed the Ukrainians had said their air-traffic control radar at Dniepropetrovsk was “out of range” of MH17 at the point of its break-up. Berger then reported a telephone record between a Dneipropetrovsk radar operator and a Russian air traffic control operator at Rostov, proving the Dniepropetrovsk radar had been within range, tracking MH17 before its disappearance from the radar screens.”

        Oh, whoops! they were lying. But their truthiness quotient was extremely high on everything else, so I guess we’ll just give them a pass.

        So far I don’t hear anything that sounds like proof, never mind beyond a reasonable doubt. I wonder if the Dutch are getting tired of being lied to by Ukraine. It sounds like it to me – the prosecutor certainly is not building an airtight case against Russia, and now we are hearing that not only did Ukraine not close the airspace over the war zone, it also vectored an international flight right over it that it claims it could not even see on radar. Although it was being controlled by the Ukrainian side. What a bunch of bullshit.

        Doesn’t matter in the least, though. Even if it does end without a legal conclusion because the evidence will not support one, the USA will make sure everyone knows Russia did it. Has anyone thought to ask John Kerry? Maybe the missing satellite data is at his house. He claimed to have seen it, but now nobody knows where it is. Perhaps he just forgot to put it back.

        Like

        1. The Dutch prosecutor’s office has not accepted Russia’s version of the launch site. Moscow believes that the investigation is averting suspicion from the Ukraine.

          The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the investigation in the Netherlands is trying to avert suspicions in the case of the downed flight MH17 from the Ukraine. This was announced on Thursday, June 11 by representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova, reports TASS.

          “During their speeches, the Dutch prosecutors tried to ward off any suspicions from the Ukraine, [stating] that Ukrainian air defence systems on the day of the disaster allegedly did not function in the area of ​​the tragedy”, she said.

          Zakharova also argues that “the prosecution directly indicates that the Buk air defence system of the Armed Forces of the Ukraine were located not only around, but also in the immediate vicinity of the tragedy”.

          “And all this against the backdrop of allegations that Russia is allegedly acting in bad faith, is trying to lead the investigation into a dead end, and so on”, Zakharova said.

          She emphasized that the investigation bypasses the issue of the responsibility of Kiev in connection with the non-closure of airspace in the combat zone. “And, of course, it’s worthless that for a number of episodes considered in court, references to data obtained directly from the SBU, a clearly interested party, were made as an evidence base”, the diplomat added.

          She also emphasized that Russia is not a party to the criminal proceedings conducted by the district court in The Hague. The Russian Federation monitors the proceedings from the point of view of observing the rights of Russian citizens against whom charges have been brought.

          Recall, the second stage of the trial in the case of MH17 began on June 8 and should continue until July 3.

          On the first day of the meetings, the prosecutors talked about the witnesses to the case, and also identified the accused and the weapons by which the aeroplane was shot down.

          On the second day, the prosecutor’s office did not accept the version of the Russian Federation on the launch site of the missile. It also became known that fragments of the Buk missile were found in the crew’s bodies.

          On the third day, prosecutors reported evidence of a missile launch from a Buka system, and also clarified the accusations of the defendants in the case.

          After that, the court took a break until June 22. By that time, the court wants to hear a demand by the defence for additional investigations.

          https://korrespondent.net/world/4239669-v-myd-rossyy-otsenyly-khod-protsessa-po-delu-mn17?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fzen.yandex.com

          Like

  7. Quelle tour de force, Mark!

    You have to start wondering whether Russia is merely the (reliable) tool to beat a united u-Rope with, considering the all these ridiculous schemes. With the enlargment of the EU, Washington gained more than willing partners. With the enlargment of NATO, dramatically reducing Russia’s buffer against yet another attack from the west, they went even further with the Ukraine.

    Warsaw no doubt is hand-in-hand with Washington to destablize Belarus in this most recent cut off in order to deny it gas transfer fees which they see as propping up The Last Dictatorship in Europe(TM). The appetite for destruction and shitting on their allies doorstep with consent despite the failure of such previous adventures seem not to have provided even a remote warning of disaster.

    To me it is clear that the US is leveraging the New EU bit vs. the Old EU bit, the former far more compliant than the latter. A divided and destracted EU is easier to manage especially when your own power is fading. Germany’s historical reluctance to throw its weight around in foreign policy is being used against it. Too active and the newer members will accuse it of building the Fourth Reich and use it for domestic political purposes, too little allows those who contrbute the least to run around and pull the goats ears at will like being back on the farm. Ergo, no stable relations between the EU & Russia.

    The Old EU bit was more than happy to play along up to a point (i.e. Russia laying down the law in word and showing they demostrated the ability in deed – S. Ossetia, Crimea and abroad) and have since been stuck in the sanctions holding pattern because all their other options are useless and they have no means to extract themselves out of their corner. This suits the US perfectly well in all cases but gradual reconcillation or as we call it, the return of realpolitik.

    Like

    1. Putin did warn them at the 2007 Munich Security Conference that Russia wouldn’t take any bs near its borders, and was ultimate forced to prove it a year later when the US encouraged Saakashiti to start a war by killing Russian peacekeeper. And that was under Barack ‘Drone strike’ Obama. Sure, the Russian military wasn’t exactly great, but it was certainly more than good enough for the job. The conclusion drawn in Washington, Brussels, London, Paris & Berlin? Rusia is weak piss. Keep pushing, hence the US/EU sponsored coup in the Ukraine that would be the feather in the West’s crown. Russia Contained. Talk about biting off more than you can chew.

      Like

      1. The Russian Army performed well, particularly the armored corps, although the infantry distinguished itself as well. Although the Georgian forces got a little carried away with excitement when it seemed so easy at first, and occupied themselves by driving around shooting up Tskhinvali apartment blocks when they should have been consolidating and reinforcing their positions against counterattack, but once the counterattack was underway there was never really any doubt who controlled the battlespace – if international outcry had not prevented it, the Russian Army would have chased the retreating Georgians all the way to Tbilisi. And it’s not as if western appraisal had not been encouraging; their American trainers regularly claimed what fire-eaters the Georgians were, how eager to go into combat. They had to walk their statements back 180 degrees afterward, claiming sorrowfully that they ‘weren’t ready’, and how shameful it was that untried troops had been stomped by the Russians. I remember discussing it extensively at the time, but those links are probably all gone now.

        Well, here’s one of them that I used; naturally, it’s the one from right after the war was over, when the US trainers were shaking their heads and saying “Oh, no; no way were those guys ready for combat”.

        http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26273453/ns/world_news-europe/t/us-trainers-say-georgian-troops-werent-ready/

        It also recorded how the Georgian soldiers dropped their new M4 rifles and switched back to the AK-47 despite their training using the former weapon, because the AK-47 was the weapon they trusted.

        There was this one as well, which detailed how the USA was prepping Georgia for a conflict with Russia – not ‘just in case’, which would be only prudent, but to tip the scales in favour of such a decision.

        https://www.wired.com/2008/08/did-us-military/

        There used to be a really good source, called the Georgia Media Center. It was run by the opposition, and one day Saakashvili discovered it and that it was ridiculing him as well as publishing things he did not want the west to hear about – such as his question to customs officials; “Are we niggers?? Why are we acting like savages??” – and shut it down. Well, worse, actually – it was turned into a site which read like a tourist brochure for Georgia; things to do, sights to see, that kind of thing. If you know what to look for, sometimes you can still find other references which document some things, like the incident I just referred to.

        http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=main&pid=12073&lang=eng

        Anyway, the major criticism of Russian performance in the Russo-Georgian war was aviation, specifically ground support. It did not work as well as it should have done, and some Russian aircraft were lost which probably should not have happened. Ground support, incidentally, was a role the Russian Air Force honed to a high degree in Syria, and I wouldn’t mess with them now.

        Like

  8. Neuters via Antiwar.com: U.S.-Polish Fort Trump project crumbles
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/us-polish-fort-trump-project-crumbles/ar-BB15jiIK

    Fort Trump appears to have fallen…

    …A U.S. official familiar with the matter said the idea had been doomed from the start: “There is no Fort Trump.”…

    …Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski calls it all “a very complicated process”.

    “There’s the question of financing, of the placement, of legal rights, under what principles these soldiers will function here,” he told Reuters.

    “The discussions are taking a long time because the subject matter is just very complex. I do think we will come to a final decision, but this will still take some time.”…
    ####

    Yes, Washington wanted the lo-land of Po-land to pony up for it and and become a nuclear target! A twofer.

    In other news, apparently the US is planning to pull the same schtick in Asia as they do with NATO in the Balts/Poland, i.e. rotating troops of different nations every six months – in NATO’s case not to break any agreements. The US plan in Asia is slightly different as they want to place long range strike missiles in places like Okinawa and ‘friendly’ Asian nations. The whole idea about ‘roatating’ such deployments is to ‘not anger China.’ Good luck with that.

    Like

  9. Middle East Eye via Antiwar.com: Syrian militants attack journalists covering Russian-Turkish patrol
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syrian-militants-attack-journalists-covering-russian-turkish-patrol

    Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham militants attacked a group of journalists covering a joint Turkish-Russian military patrol in northwest Syria’s Idlib province on Wednesday, causing outrage in the rebel-held enclave…

    para. 19 …Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and seized control of most of Idlib through violent confrontation with other, more moderate, rebel factions.

    Renowned for its hardline rule,…
    ####

    But HTS used to be ‘nice’ rebels! Even now, the so-called ‘independent’ media bury HTS facts in paragraph 19. Shame!

    & this:

    Middle East Eye via Antiwar.com: Syrian Kurdish spokesperson targeted in assassination attempt in Manbij
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-manbij-sdf-shervan-derwish-assassination-attempt

    …No group claimed responsibility. Derwish had previously been targeted in attacks in 2018 and 2019.
    ####

    We have to get to para. 4 to read …Manbij was targeted by Turkey in October 2019, prompting the Syrian government to send troops into the city to bolster the SDF…

    Like

  10. Fux Nudes via Antiwar.com: Austrian ex-colonel, 71, found guilty of spying for Russia for decades
    https://www.foxnews.com/world/austrian-colonel-spy-russia

    …The 71-year-old defendant, who has not been named and whose trial in Salzburg was held behind closed doors because of national security, was sentenced to just three years in prison Tuesday but was released for already having served half the time…

    …He had denied handing over secret information but admitted to explaining open-source material “like a foreign correspondent”,…
    ####

    Isn’t that the line that not-spy Edumund Pope and others used to little avail when caught in Russia, that what they had was already public? Much protestation and denial in those cases…

    Like

  11. … ‘economically unnecessary’…and would ‘greatly increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas’.

    Amazing how such self-contradictory statements slide down the gullet of so many Americans. That was a very good deconstruction of the nonsense that passes for analysis.

    Like

  12. Here’s a round-up from news on my OilPrice feed;

    1. The US Rig Count is down again, 17 fewer operating rigs since the last report. 9 less at Eagle Ford, 7 less in the Permian, and 1 less at Haynesville. The overall count of operating rigs is 284, 700 down from 984 at this time last year.

    2. Canada is the USA’s largest source of energy imports.

    https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=43995

    Crude imports are up a million barrels a day since 2011, and rising fairly steadily. Which is…uhh…not what you expect for a country which is self-sufficient in energy and a major exporter.

    Hey. Energy imported by the United States from Canada amounted to $85 Billion…or about 27% OF OUR TRADE WITH THE US!! We’re just a gas station…umm…without missiles!!

    3. Occidental Petroleum surged 33% last Friday, the biggest percentage increase in the company’s history.

    4. Whiting Petroleum fell by more than 30% on Tuesday. Doesn’t matter; they’re bankrupt anyway.

    5. Trading in Chesapeake Energy’s shares was halted on reports the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy. Chesapeake is one of the Bigs, worth $37.5 Billion at its peak.

    6. OPEC agreed to extend the supply cuts for another month. The US officially entered a recession in February. Even as OPEC agreed to extend the supply cuts, Saudi Arabia announced that it would not continue the supply cuts it had imposed in the second quarter, and that it is ‘moving on’. Saudi revenues fell nearly 22% in the second quarter, a decline of $11 Billion.

    7. Saudi Arabia also increased its oil price, by the most in two decades, with Saudi Aramco raising prices of Arab Light to Asia by $6.10 per barrel. The move is a sign that Saudi Arabia wants to continue to boost the oil market by erasing all the discounts it offered at the start of the price war several months ago.

    8. North America’s largest pipeline company, Enbridge, plans to shift its asset mix towards natural gas and renewable energy over time.

    9. BP (NYSE: BP) plans on slashing 10,000 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce. The move follows similar-sized cuts at Chevron (NYSE: CVX). Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) is doing voluntary layoffs. “We are spending much, much more than we make — I am talking millions of dollars, every day,” BP’s CEO Bernard Looney wrote.

    10. Amazingly, with the plunging rig counts I just showed you above, the shale industry in the USA claims to be on a big rebound – listen: “U.S. shale drillers continue to bring shuttered production back online. “We’re seeing production coming back in pretty much all of the basins,” Kelcy Warren, chief executive of pipeline giant Energy Transfer (NYSE: ET), told the WSJ. “It’s been a steady recovery since the first week of May.” But U.S. production is still expected to continue to decline, perhaps closing out the year around 10 mb/d, according to IHS Markit.”

    So a decline of around 2 million BPD is an awesome comeback, we couldn’t be happier. We’re seeing production coming back in all the basins, even as rig counts continue to shrink. Huh?? Oh; wait. In the very next item…

    11. U.S. shale revival unlikely. The oil market has tightened and prices have rebounded, but the frenzied pace of drilling in U.S. shale won’t come back for the foreseeable future. “Producers broadly characterized teens production growth as more an upside case than a base case,” Goldman analysts wrote in a note.

    Just before they jumped out a window.

    12. California Resources to file for bankruptcy. California Resources (NYSE: CRC) skipped an interest payment and could file for bankruptcy next week, according to the WSJ. CRC is primarily a conventional oil driller based in Los Angeles.

    Another one bites the dust. Aaaaannnd…

    13. Trump’s “emergency” pipeline order to face legal challenges. President Trump signed an executive order that waives bedrock environmental protections from the permitting process for new pipelines. But the order likely faces a series of legal obstacles.

    Like

  13. From today’s Russian blogosphere:

    On the one hand

    Vasilyeva lies: 9 fakes from Navalny’s personal ophthalmologist
    10 April 2020

    and

    Свежий опрос Левады показал, что россияне больше доверяют Навальному, чем Путину. Показываю результаты

    A fresh Levada poll shows that Russians trust Navalny more than Putin. I show the results
    11 June 2020

    The blogger of the above calls himself “Thinking Person”.

    Like

      1. I suspect that “Thinking Person” may be one of those juveniles last seen with like-minded individuals, who were parading around central Moscow holding a yellow rubber duck and making a public nuisance of themselves.

        Like

    1. Well, naturally they would do. I mean, Navalny has come forward with a sensible and achievable plan to meet every crisis. Putin just doesn’t listen.

      I actually am a big fan of Navalny – he serves a useful and even vital purpose. So long as the Russian liberal too-cool-for-skool crowd unites behind Lyosha, there is no danger at all to Putin’s leadership.

      Like

      1. Constitutional Reform Will Strangle Russia’s Internal Saboteurs
        June 17, 2020
        Stalker Zone

        The constitution should be higher than international law, and this is so that “pocket” organisations like the ECHR do not pump money from the Russian budget in favour of liberals and oligarchs who dream of breaking up our country. The ideal example is Khodorkovsky and Navalny. The latter goes to the European court as if it’s his workplace. He himself has repeatedly admitted that one of his main income sources is money received from the ECHR.

        Like

        1. Damn!

          Bum link again!

          Almost invariably, when using my iPhone, whenever I insert a link, that link leads to “Kremlin Stooge”.

          Here is the link to the above “Stalker Zone” article again. This time, I am using my laptop.

          Constitutional Reform Will Strangle Russia’s Internal Saboteurs

          “What about the violation of territorial integrity performed by Russia when annexing the Crimea?” Western critics will say.

          Yeah, well, the people living in said territory, the vast majority of Crimeans, decided which territory their own territory should be an integral part of.

          The people!

          Or did the majority of British subjects in the 18th century British North America violate British territorial integrity and “annex” former British North American colonies?

          Like

  14. Neuters via Antiwar.com: Protests hit Druze city in Syria for fourth day
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-syria-security-sweida-protests/protests-hit-druze-city-in-syria-for-fourth-day-idUKKBN23H3M1

    Hundreds of Syrians in the mainly Druze city of Sweida took to the streets for a fourth day on Wednesday, …

    …also called for an end to rampant corruption and the pullout of Iranian militias and Russian troops, …

    …“Protesters called for freedom and toppling of the regime as a result of popular anger over the deteriorating economic, social, security and political situation,” said Noura al Basha, a resident and activist. ..
    ####

    It’s the same old hamster schtick. No precise details but ‘hundreds’, quoting an ‘activist’ etc. Sweida is a town on Syria’s south west border with Jordan,* i.e. the usual places where the US/whatever an incite violence easily by just hopping over, as they did back in 2011 and provide weapons, uncover whatevers etc. It is even more curious as the Druze are christians whom are much better served by Assad’s coalition with other minorites (and refuse to serve in the Army but instead try and sit it out and have their cake) and not the somewhat intolerant ‘rebels’ aka ISIS who targeted them.** There is also a ‘prominent Greek Orthadox’ population in the town too!

    Noura al Basha, the ‘activist’ (or is that metaphorical arsonist) is not mentioned as a ‘local journalist’ and has reported for SyriaDirect.org***, funded by the usual suspects (Konrad Adenaur Institute/European NED/French-Austrialian embassies in Jordan etc.) run out of Jordan.****

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As-Suwayda

    ** https://syriadirect.org/news/at-least-150-people-killed-in-devastating-is-ground-offensive-suicide-attacks-on-suwayda-province/

    ***https://syriadirect.org/search/view/?keyword=noura+al-basha&province=&category=

    **** https://syriadirect.org/pages/about-us/

    Like

    1. All, all psychological operations designed to mobilize public support in western countries for a military intervention. Everybody knows how it works, yet somehow it still works and ordinary people have not evolved a filter for it.

      Like

  15. OilPrice.com via Antiwar.com: Turkey’s Latest Pipeline Plan Is A Move To Restore Relations With U.S
    https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Turkeys-Latest-Pipeline-Plan-Is-A-Move-To-Restore-Relations-With-US.html

    .Turkey’s state gas grid operator Bota? has opened a tender for a gas pipeline to supply Azerbaijan’s exclave of Nakhchivan. The new supply route would sideline Iranian gas sales to Azerbaijan and comes as Ankara is trying to repair its relationship with the United States…

    …Nakhchivan has been importing Iranian gas under a swap agreement between Baku and Tehran inked in 2004, under which Azerbaijan supplies gas to Iran’s isolated northwestern border city of Astara, which has no gas supply from inside Iran….

    …but that flow has been halted since March 31 when a sabotage attack, which the Turkish authorities blamed on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), forced the closure of the pipeline.

    Ankara has been in no hurry to repair the line, claiming that the attack is a “force majeure,” meaning it isn’t liable to compensate Tehran for any losses…
    ####

    Erd O’Grand continues to zig-zag for any possible benefit, so no surprise there, let alone that Turkey has taken full part in all major NATO exercises. The US really cannot give him what he wants apart from to stave off various threats of sanctions for being a very naughty boy.

    Like

  16. crAP via Antiwar.com: Belarus: Anti-president rallies canceled amid detentions
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/belarus-anti-president-rallies-canceled-amid-detentions/ar-BB15l7Qc

    …In a video statement released Thursday, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya urged supporters not to hold pickets and not to collect signatures for her candidacy in Minsk and other big cities in the next few days. “Not a single signature is worth the suffering of you and your families,” Tikhanovskaya said…
    ####

    I’m surprised that she folded so quickly. What’s the point of all this only to call it off now? Did she recieve advice from certain quarters? It’s all a bit weird.

    Like

    1. It’s entirely possible that her ability to muster visible support has been weighed against the value of canceling what might be lukewarm support and insignificant numbers in favour of a storyline where Lukashenko is threatening to incarcerate families of supporters. Not that he isn’t actually capable of that. But real dictators usually have at least an elementary understanding of timing. So it’s probably just the latest dodge in Tikhonovsky’s completely-managed campaign. He is the Belarusian Navalny.

      Like

  17. AsiaTimes.com: How Huawei can work around US chip ban
    https://asiatimes.com/2020/06/how-huawei-can-work-around-us-chip-ban/

    The chip ban gives the world an enormous incentive to circumvent the US

    …Chip fabricators will remove American equipment from production lines in order to maintain market share in China, the world’s largest purchaser of semiconductors…

    …Samsung and Huawei are considering a deal under which the South Korean giant would fabricate advanced chips for Huawei’s 5G equipment, and Huawei would in effect cede a substantial amount of its smartphone market share to Samsung, ..
    ####

    Nothing much new, but the piece does tie more strands together.

    The US, yet again using the hammer of sanctions for short term gratification, and like measures applied against Russia has drawn it much closer to China and thus mutually reinforced each other strategically, the US looks like it may well do the same between China & South Korea and undermine its own strategic rationale for maintaining troops and equipment in SK. The benefits become much less obvious politically and domestically.

    Either the US is completely convinced that battering friends and foes alike will pay long term dividends because the USA is forever excreptional, or it is much longer and badly designed cunning plan to extract as much as possible from allies before pulling the plug and blaming others for not pulling the weight of US expectations. It certainly looks a lot more like the former as it is by far the largest weapons exporter and relies on a large market share to help subsidize still significantly over-priced and poor value miitary equiment back home. Oh, and recycle some of those profits back in to Capitol Hill.

    U-Rope is certainly become poor value for weapons money if you consider the latest news that even the psychophantic Netherlands said that they wouldn’t meet their 2% NATO mandated per year weapons spend even though they have already bought in to the F-35 it’s shit but it’s for life dealership. So with the u-Ropean idiots in the F-35 bag for the next few decades, surely high-growth Asia is far more interesting for significant weapons sales? Therein lies the US plan to pre-place its missiles, potentially on roatation, to keep the rest of Asia safe from China, ergo China will obviously react to such a threat and so such a nation will need more weapons… from the USA! It’s a protection racket. Again. I doubt it will work, but that won’t stop them trying.

    Like

    1. The final sentence summarizes the situation perfectly.

      “The chip ban gives the world an enormous incentive to circumvent the US, raising the risk that the US rather than China will be left without a chair when the music stops.”

      The USA has a few blind spots. One is a tendency to be over-encouraged by an early success – Jean Shaheen could hardly stop herself from breaking into a victory Macarena over the success achieved by making Allseas stop work on the Nord Stream II pipeline. And so therefore the way to go is more sanctions – it worked before. But in large part, sanctions work best when what is threatened is a production process in which American technology must be used, or when what is threatened is continued commerce in the United States when your company does a large volume of business there and it would not be practical to reduce your exposure, and expand elsewhere instead. In many cases, perhaps most, American sanctions have worked initially because nobody thought the Americans would really go through with such an obvious dick move, and had taken no serious preparations against it.

      Another blind spot is rooted in arrogance, leading to an assumption that America has such a technological lead that nobody could duplicate its machines or processes. This roll of the dice they are taking now relies on the widespread use of American chipmaking technology and machines being sufficient to prevent any company from simply getting rid of their American machines, or setting up another fab line that does not use them, and use that line to produce chips for Huawei. What I think is most likely to happen is that companies who already own American chipmaking machines will use those machines to build their own which duplicate American capability, but are not American.

      What makes this gamble so risky is that the United States is not really a growth market. It is a significant market, but most industries operate from supply chains of long standing, without much opportunity for taking large profits from introducing something the USA does not already have or by selling your product at an advantageous price to that of competitors. It’s a large market – but a mature and ordered market, with not a lot of volatility in most industries. Set against that is the possibility – for companies trying to make up their minds – of losing the Asian market, which is both huge and growing. The decision is no longer an easy one, and hedging against America is its demonstrated preference for using coercion and force against allies and foes alike to get its own way. Getting its own way is never going to get old for America; it’s always going to be a sought-after thrill, and you never know what twist of fate might put your company or administration in its gunsights. Being an ally is clearly no longer any protection against American leverage, and the only way to eliminate leverage is to eliminate vulnerability.

      The strongest argument against the obvious process of deleveraging is that it’s not the kind of thing you can easily reverse. Once a decision is taken to shift reliance to the Asian market, the production for the western market becomes more a hobby than a company pillar. Companies will still make things to sell to the west, but under circumstances where it would not hurt the company if it suddenly had to stop. That also makes the product, whatever it is, more expensive in the west, because there has to be a virtual insurance policy built into its production. And such a policy punishes all western countries, because it has been made clear to all businessmen that even if Germany, say, is unwilling to stop selling widgets to Country X, the United States can threaten Germany, or Luxembourg or whoever, and make them stop.

      This, then, will lead to a massive trade realignment in which only the biggest companies will be able to afford to maintain separate production facilities which operate independently, because the entire business philosophy to date has been streamlining and efficiency and making every process serve multiple objectives. This represents a complete reversal of globalism, and a move to a bloc-focused trade model. Most companies will not be able to maintain separate processes for both major blocs, and will have to optimize their production for one bloc or the other. In such circumstances, an obvious advantage accrues to the bloc which represents a growth market. For western companies which want to continue making a global product, it will mean removing themselves from any vulnerability to Amerocan sanctions for so long as the United States remains a major power. Companies doing business with Canada, for example, must first assure themselves that Canada will not stop buying their product because it was ordered to do so by the Americans. And so gradually all other countries will reduce their vulnerability to American bossing, or tacitly commit to doing business only within the bloc dominated by the United States.

      Like

      1. Antiwar.com: Envoy: Trump Wants US Troops Out of South Korea, Japan
        https://news.antiwar.com/2020/06/12/envoy-trump-wants-us-troops-out-of-south-korea-japan/

        Outgoing US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennel finally tackled US troop cut announcement for Germany, saying it is in keeping with Trump’s position, and that he also wants cuts in Japan and South Korea….
        ####

        Yes, it’s erection season! But what if both Jp & SK say ‘OK, bye!’?

        Meanwhile here’s the next silver bullet that will magically project the USA far beyond its military competitors.

        FlightGlobal.com: Why the USAF is keen on car maker know-how for future fighter production
        https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/why-the-usaf-is-keen-on-car-maker-know-how-for-future-fighter-production/138786.article

        …The service wants to mimic the way the car industry makes small improvements to models year after year using digital design and engineering tools, says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the USAF for acquisition…

        …the service wants to see prime manufacturers sharing suppliers and adhering to common supportability requirements. Across the series, aircraft might also use the same simulators, cockpit design or standards, says Roper…

        …Ultimately, the service plans to scrap and replace airframes with new iterations instead of maintaining and upgrading legacy aircraft for decades….
        ####

        More at the link.

        So, the USAF wants a platinum plated profit driven defence industry to completely change their profit model somehow. The whole ‘commonality’ idea will be strongly resisted unless off-set elsewhere. China in the mean time has been using rapid protoyping techniques via ALM/3D printers in just about everything. Rather than waiting weeks for the next iteration of motorcycle part (for example – there was a whole program about this years ago on the BBC radio) to arrive, it is brought down to hours.

        As for threats/promises to Asia, what about Africa, where the US military Africom command isn’t based? China is in there in a big way, so is Japan, India and even the EU is willing to be more fair. And the US? Can’t see past its nose except to offer ‘military expertize’ and bomb civilians from drones in countries that are suffering because they blew it up or a neighbors (Libya – Mali/Niger/Chad/) and wherever those vast stocks of liberated Ghadaffi weapons ended up in terrorist hands. Without terrorists, who needs help? Quite convenient, no?

        Like

        1. If the U.S. draws down its forces in Japan and South Korea to negligible levels, it will have to abandon the argument, “But we protect you!!!” I’m not sure what the arrangements are with South Korea, but Japan pays millions each year toward the hosting of American military bases, while the USN reaps the benefit of forward-based naval forces which are useful to annoy and pressure Russia and China. Yokosuka is the big one, and I did not spend enough time there to get much of a feel for how popular the U.S. forces are, but I spent a fair amount of time in Okinawa at the White Beach station, and the Americans are not well-liked in Okinawa in general; the big presence in Okinawa is Air Force. The Okinawans already have a problem with Japanese rule, and imposing an American military presence on them is not welcome. All it takes is a few incidents – and there have been some wowsers – to result in a divided community with sullen, resentful hosts.

          Cap’n Trump can bring the troops home from everywhere if he likes, but he doesn’t really have roles for all of them in America, and he seems to be under the impression that a withdrawal of the American presence in foreign countries is going to bring an apprehension of being all alone in a hostile world, resulting in begging by former hosts to have the soldiers back, plus more, anything, we’ll give you anything! If that’s the last gross misjudgment he makes, America will be lucky. I don’t think that will happen at all. And a relaxation of American presence will bring a reduction in American influence. If this becomes a trend, we might just see an eventuality in which the purpose of U.S. Forces actually is the defense of America, from America.

          Keeping the same airframe and introducing mini-mods so as to save money is an interesting idea, but I think its explorers will learn that no car on the face of the earth – with the possible exception of demolition-derby stock cars – is subject to the stresses and impacts a carrier-based fighter is just in takeoffs and landings. The airframe is constantly flexing, and metal which is constantly flexed eventually undergoes a molecular change: it becomes crystalline and brittle at the flex point, and cracks or even shears. Carrier-based aircraft only get the worst of it; regular landbased fighters are slammed onto the ground as well and take off with extra tanks and weapon loads which alter the stress points. Of course manufacturers prefer to design new fighters from the ground up because they make far more money that way, but there is an underlying truth to their contention that military aircraft were generally not designed for long lifespans.

          Like

  18. AsiaTimes.com: Russia aiming to realize Greater Eurasia dream
    https://asiatimes.com/2020/06/russia-aiming-to-realize-greater-eurasia-dream/

    The Russian role will be to balance the hegemonic powers, as a guarantor of a new union of non-aligned nations

    by Pepe Escobar June 12, 2020

    ####

    I’m not convinced that Russia will be strictly needed by China as a mediator/soft end between China and the West. I certainly can see it playing a leading role in the non-Aligned movement like Yugoslavia (sic article picture at the bottom), but India seems to be tilting even more short-sightedly towards the US, and other non-Aligned countries need to make up the short-fall (such as Brazil, which we may well see a boomerang effect).

    What we do know is that Russia is putting significant resources in to the asiatic part of the country in transport (a brand new Far/East asia oriented airine as I previously posted) infrastructure and not just energy. It is clearly ‘we build it and they will come’ strategy, the ‘they’ being Russian citizens through new preferential ‘economic zones’, but from where exactly? There are plenty of old projects on hold such as the gas pipeline through North Korea to South Korea and an undersea one to Japan that are waiting for a change in conditions. Events this year are already moving fast and may well act as a catalyst for faster development.

    It also looks like the traditionally passive Russian bureaucracy (only do stuff when someone lights a fire underneath them from above) is also much more active and I hope the new generations will be able to do/propose stuff of their own initiative. I think this is inevitable and will follow the increase in positive local grass-roots citizen led initiatives that have grown in Russia but are rarely reported by the Pork Pie News Networks. If you want to get something done, get off your ass, ask and don’t give up. This should only be encouraged. Unfortunately we still get people during Putin’s yearly ‘Ask me anything’ event moaning and appealing directly to Pootie-Poot to do something, which he then does (Delivery Man routine). I understand the PR aspect of this, but it is obsolete and tired. More PR and championing of people who self-organize and do stuff to better whatever is a must.

    To be honest, here in u-Rope as everything went to shit with Covid-19, people who usually are not interested in anything much than themselves have done their bit, whether it is shopping for oldies (wot I do – even before recent events) and offering, expertize or just looking on on those less fortunate/vulnerable etc. I’m glad that there is still some sense of community and ‘do the right thing’ left, but then that is unfortunately the lowest common denominator. Things have to get quite bad first. That, I am not happy about.

    Like

    1. Over there in Western Europe today was a lead story in the UK Independent that, as result of that epidemic, the UK economy is set to shrink by 20% — the largest contraction of the economy since such data began to be gathered.

      I wonder if the BBC thinks that those dire prediction might lead to Johnson the Buffon being ousted, as does its man in Moscow thinks Putin might be because of the fall in his popularity rating (now 64% for) as a result of popular dissatisfaction in how his “regime” has handled the epidemic?

      Like

      1. But Johnson is irrelevant. He’s done his job as being the most popular tory politician and got the tory party re-erected.

        He’ll be dumped the moment there is enough public anger/they need a scape goat/loses more votes than gains etc.. and certainly not before they have a few suitable replacement in line and ready to slip in to the PM’s shoes comfortably. They only need be a little bit more competent than BloJo and most people will be relieved. It’s all in the timing, say a minium of a year and a half before the next erection is called, earlier if circumstances dicate.

        The Five Year Parliaments Act (brought in with the help of the LibDims) means you can ejeculate your leader via a vote of no coincidence and no new elections! What’s not to like?

        Like

  19. How long ago did I say this? How long ago? I can tell you it was before Yanukovych turned down the Association Agreement, and precipitated the events which culminated in his overthrow. And now Ukraine is finally coming to the realization. Glory be.

    https://www.stalkerzone.org/ukrainian-deputy-evgeny-murayev-ukraine-lost-half-its-gdp-due-to-the-wests-sanctions-against-russia/

    Moreover, he specifically acknowledges that Ukraine has been living on handouts for four years. But he could have known that would happen in 2013, if he was old enough to read then.

    https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/if-you-liked-it-then-you-shoulda-put-a-ring-on-it-the-russiaukraineeu-love-triangle/

    Here are the relevant paragraphs:

    “Anyway, the greatest part by far of Ukrainians who are eager for the EU Association agreement to be signed feel that way because they believe it will result in economic benefits for Ukraine. Will it?

    I’m having a hard time seeing how. According to Euronews, more than 60% of Ukraine’s trade is with “the former Soviet market”, with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan the most important. Would Europe pick up an extra 60% of Ukraine’s exports to ensure they did not experience a loss, if Russia shut its doors? I would have to say I doubt it. So does The Kyiv Post, in this article for European Dialogue; it suggests Russia has the advantage despite Mykola Azarov’s insistence that Ukraine will sign the EU Association Agreement, and points out that “many of Ukraine’s main exports – particularly in heavy industry such as steel and chemicals – would suffer as a result of the more competitive and higher quality EU goods.” Almost 35% of Ukraine’s GDP comes from the industrial sector, and another 9.3% is agricultural exports, which are heavily subsidized in Europe to protect local markets.”

    I just noticed that article goes back to 2018; it was included as a supplementary link in a current article I was reading, so I assumed it was current as well. Just the same, if my impressions of the consequences of signing the Association Agreement had somehow been considered, they might have saved themselves 5 years of zero progress and growing ever-more-dependent on the international finance system owned by the west. Ukraine could never retrace its steps now; what’s done is done, because it now owes so much money it could never get free. And now the west owns its political system as well, and can easily arrange for endless Russia-haters to be elected to office.

    Like

  20. Helmer’s daily take in the ongoing MH17 trial is up. The prosecution has stipulated it relied completely on the SBU for recorded voice intercepts which have been widely discredited by professional independent analysis as manipulated and stitched together. The prosecution also stipulated it relied completely on the SBU to produce and question secret witnesses, who cannot be identified except by alphanumeric title and who are allegedly former DPR fighters who knew the defendants.

    http://johnhelmer.net/ukraine-secret-service-telephone-tapes-witness-tampering-hatred-for-russians-dutch-prosecutors-wind-up-presentation-of-kievs-mh17-show-trial/#more-33968

    A revealing preamble about the basics of Dutch law, as well, which hints at why the Netherlands might have been chosen, although it was a natural role as most of the dead were Dutch citizens. But the leeway accorded to the presiding judge would never be allowed in Australian, UK or American courts.

    To get a feeling for what a farcical procedure it continues to be, imagine the trial is being conducted in Russia by a Russian judge, and the implicated defendants are British or American. Further imagine what western media coverage would have to say about, for example, telephone intercepts furnished by the FSB of American partisans saying ridiculous things like “The US government must give us heavy weapons or we will be overwhelmed, and they must supply trained crews also because we will not have time to train them”, and which recordings had been assessed as heavily edited and manipulated in the judgment of professional independent analysts. Yet the farce goes on.

    Like

  21. Here’s a little story that will warm your heart to its furthest cockle. From OilPrice.com;

    “More oil execs see rewards before bankruptcy. Around 35 oil executives at Whiting Petroleum (NYSE: WLL), Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) and Diamond Offshore Drilling (OTCMKTS: DOFSQ) are set to enjoy $50 million in payouts even as their companies head into bankruptcy, according to Bloomberg. The list of companies engaging in this practice is rising, with California Resources Corp. (NYSE: CRC) recently guaranteeing executive bonuses. On Thursday, Extraction Oil & Gas (NYSE: XOG) disclosed $6.7 million in payments to 16 executives ahead of a possible default on bond payments.”

    It’s good to be King. The electorate never learns – this is just what happened in the global financial crash of 08/09, when banks and mortgage companies collapsed and had to be bailed out using taxpayers’ money, even as the dying banks paid out millions in executive bonuses, and bankers went on ‘retreats’ to exotic destinations complete with swanky rooms and five-star dining while they navel-gazed over what went wrong and then wrote it all off as a tax deduction.

    Like

    1. My UK bank, NatWest, had to be bailed out by the British govt. a few years ago, and shortly after this had been done, it was reported that the executives of that bank had awarded themselves a huge increase in salary.

      I forget exactly how much this bail-out using taxpayers’ money amounted to, but I saw a calculation somewhere concerning how much this generosity by the British govt. towards NatWest will cost each taxpayer annually for many years to come.

      I have had a lot of hassle with NatWest of late, in that it has refused to send me a new debit card upon expiry this August of the validity of my present card: the bank says that it will not send the card to my address in Russia because Russia is a “high risk country”.

      The only way that I could receive my new debit card was to change the card holder’s address to a UK one, whence it could be forwarded to me at my address in the “Evil Empire”.

      I have changed my card holder address to that of one of my nieces and, hopefully, I shall receive it in the post from her sometime in September.

      Up to 2016, having gone into exile, I had used my sister’s address in Manchester as my forwarding address for the use of NatWest bank. Then, in that year when trying to use my NatWest debit card to pay for flight tickets to the UK for me and my family, payment by this card, was refused because the payment order was being made from Russia with a British debit card having a UK address.

      Clearly, the bank suspected that the card had been stolen.

      Having arrived in the UK with my family in 2016, I was then advised by the NatWest to change the card holder address to my Russian address.This I did. And now the bank refuses to send my new card to that address!

      Also, when trying to make online transfers from my NatWest account to an account in Russia, NatWest refused to transfer money to Russian bank accounts that I have — one with VTB and another with the Russian National Savings Bank (Sberbank), both of which are subsidiaries of the Bank of Russia.

      In order to enable a money transfer from NatWest to Russia, I had to open an account with a Western Bank here, which I did, with the Italian UniCredit Bank.

      I should add that there are a few Western banks operating in Russia, including the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank and Citibank of the USA. However, not a single British bank is operating in Russia.

      British banks are a waste of time.

      Like

  22. Alert5.com: Georgia’s Defense Minister says country capable of producing and selling Su-25
    http://alert5.com/2020/06/09/georgias-defense-minister-says-country-capable-of-producing-and-selling-su-25/

    Georgia’s Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili says his country is capable of producing and selling the Su-25 attack jet.

    “We have absolutely all the resources – technical, intellectual or human – to be able to restore, produce, and sell the Su-25,” Garibashvili said in an interview on Palitranews tv channel.

    The majority of Su-25 in service were produced by Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing in Georgia before the breakup of Soviet Union. …
    ####

    When you go to the source link, it’s even more clear that he is talking out of his ass.

    Didn’t they already announce this twenty years ago when they made a non-OEM (Russia) approved version with i-Sraeli avionics that no-one bought, the ‘Scorpion’? Russia already produces modernized Su-25s…

    Like

    1. They would not be licensed to produce it for sale, and as you suggest, they could only produce a Soviet-era version anyway. It’s a very effective design, but it’s a bare-bones ground-attack jet with few of the bells and whistles western ground-attack pilots are used to – no lighted makeup mirrors or cup holders, I’m afraid. Most western pilots would prefer their own designs, and feel like they were being cheated by being posted to an SU-25 squadron (although they would call it something else, obviously) instead of one of the western flying Cadillacs. It’s a similar design to the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, and although they were a great aircraft, hardly anyone uses them any more. I think the Israelis were the last major air force to retire them, and that was in 2015.

      The production of major defense platforms in former Soviet countries is an ongoing problem, though; Ukraine is a classic example, flattered and stroked by the west that it is superior in every way to the Russian mud-men, and that it was selected to produce military hardware for the Soviet Union because it is brilliant. It’s true that many very capable rocket engineers came from Ukraine and that it was a center of excellence for rocket and missile engines, but that was more a function of Soviet planning, locating factories throughout the Soviet Union to promote employment and a sense of brotherhood and collective effort. Present-day Ukraine is a state of oligarchical rule, and profit and power are king. The Ukrainians sold China a partially-completed SU-33 prototype – which Russia would have been very careful about doing and probably would not have done – and the Chinese used what they learned to produce the J-15. If they had gotten it with engines, you would never see them buying completed aircraft from Russia now. But the Ukrainians are greedy, and feel like if they make it in Ukraine, they own the design, and fuck everyone else.

      Like

  23. Meanwhile the u-Ropean parliament is getting a ball swinging hard-on, America style:

    Politico.eu: EU lawmakers propose taking China to court over Hong Kong security law
    https://www.politico.eu/article/european-parliament-china-hong-kong-court-move/

    European Parliament set to suggest filing a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

    …Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the issue next Thursday with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and vote on the resolution next Friday. “We intend to show what the EU can do beyond hand-wringing,” said Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, who is driving the resolution…

    Politico.eu: EU Parliament set to condemn ‘potential conflict of interest’ by Czech leader
    https://www.politico.eu/article/andrej-babis-conflict-of-interest-european-parliament-condemnation/

    Planned resolution expresses concern about Andrej Babiš’s role in negotiating and implementing the EU budget.

    …Babiš has come under scrutiny in both Prague and Brussels for his links to an agricultural conglomerate he founded, Agrofert, which has received millions in EU funds. Questions about his continued ties to Agrofert have been the subject of a European Commission audit into a possible conflict of interest because he’s actively negotiating the EU budget and oversees a government implementing EU budget programs…

    …At the same time, the Commission should “set up a control mechanism to address the issue of conflicts of interests … ensure a policy of zero tolerance … and ensure a swift recovery of potentially irregularly paid out subsidies,” the resolution says. It adds that Brussels should “thoroughly supervise the process in the Czech Republic.”…
    ####

    Yes, it’s this again. The Czech police have no actionable evidence or anything in law to go after Babiš, the European Commission likewise has no sanction or mechanizm for punishing Babiš, but that does not matter. Babiš is seen as too close to… Russia! And not to mention President Zeman. Either you are anti-Russia or pro-Russia. Nothing in the middle is allowed and he’s not a ‘QueensTeam Player(TM).’ You don’t have to like him but he’s done nothing illegal. Russia has a large diplomatic presence there… to keep track on the large American diplomatic presence there… Speaking of which.

    Politico.eu: Russian rivalry behind Prague ricin assassination hoax
    https://www.politico.eu/article/russian-rivalry-behind-prague-ricin-assassination-hoax/

    Feud between diplomats led to fake plot to kill mayor, spy service says.

    …In a statement posted on its website, the BIS described the fictional assassination plot as “a simple and sad story of animosity and jealousy between two employees of the Russian embassy in Prague, which one of them decided to resolve with an anonymous e-mail sent to the BIS in an attempt to seriously harm his colleague.”

    The BIS said Friday that the vast majority of information in the email was “verifiable, true and accurate.” As a result, Hřib and two Prague district mayors were immediately placed under police protection.

    The case was first made public in mid-April by the Czech weekly Respekt. Citing “police and other responsible security services,”…

    …The Russian embassy in Prague called it a “fabricated provocation” and declared, “We are deeply disappointed by such an approach of our Czech partners that [is] leaving less and less space for constructive dialogue.”
    ####

    They’ve finally got ‘pro-Russian’ PM Babiš to pick a fight with Russia over fake ‘intelligence’, which follows the same pattern as previous fake intel, sic vague language and light on detail like “vast majority of information“, remarkably similar to other massive lies (Saddam’s WMDs etc.) used to target someone. Deliberately leaked information to intelligence compliant media (again, Buzzfeed and the Christopher Steele Dossier). What we don’t know is whether this was just about forcing Babiš to do what they want or whether they had something against those expelled Russians in particular. But instead, we have nothing but silence on the interesting questions. Thank god for free, fair and independent journalism! Freedumb!

    RT.com: ‘Dishonorable and unworthy’ move: Moscow vows ‘adequate response’ to diplomats’ expulsion from Czech Republic over ‘poison plot’
    https://www.rt.com/news/490980-moscow-prague-diplomatic-row/

    …“The Czech side has acted dishonorably and unworthily, taking this unfriendly step. Without any reason, the Czech authorities caused serious damage to Russian-Czech relations,” the ministry said in a statement..

    Like

    1. The next Czech legislative elections are supposed to be in October 2021. Is this simply a multifacted campaign to make sure that Babiš is not re-elected, regardless of a large portion of the Czech electorate not having any trouble with Russia or Russians?

      Like

  24. Add to the the Too Big to Fail category:

    Defense One: Pentagon Starts Bailing Out Companies That have Lost Business Due to Coronavirus
    https://www.defenseone.com/business/2020/06/pentagon-starts-bailing-out-companies-have-lost-business-due-coronavirus/166106/

    …On Wednesday, officials announced that five mid-tier defense companies had received a total of $135 million to “help sustain defense-critical workforce capabilities in body armor, aircraft manufacturing, and shipbuilding,” according to a Defense Department statement…
    ####

    And reality is starting to be clearly expressed.

    Defense One: The Pentagon Can’t Afford All of the Weapons It Wants, New Report Says
    https://www.defenseone.com/business/2020/06/pentagon-cant-afford-all-weapons-it-wants-new-report-says/166034/

    …“But no matter what happens,” Work said, “there’s going to be a new National Security Strategy and a new National Defense Strategy and there will be new priorities, without question.”

    Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said the Pentagon needs 3 percent to 5 percent annual growth in its coffers to make investments in new weapons. ..
    ####

    Me-oooow!

    Like

    1. The Pentagon needs 3-5% annual growth in its budget that is bigger than the next 10 countries put together in order to adequately defend a country which is surrounded by allies. Sure, I’ll buy that. And they’ll continue that practice for as long as they can get away with building their budget on a fiat currency that they simply print more of when they want it. There’s no problem fronting 3-5% growth in a multi-multi-billion dollar budget when it’s just coloured paper, as long as the world is willing to recognize it as legal tender in good standing.

      Like

  25. First published as an Op-Ed by Forbes, here’s Rogozin’s interview on Roscosmos’s site via space.com*

    ‘This war is theirs – not ours’: Dmitry Rogozin on Elon Musk’s Crew Dragon launch
    http://en.roscosmos.ru/21511/

    June 08, 2020, 17:40 GMT

    Nine days after the Crew Dragon crewed spacecraft created by billionaire Elon Musk’s company launched to the International Space Station, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin in his Forbes op-ed comments on the event for the first time giving an insight into Russia’s response plans.

    Some time has passed since the ‘epochal’ launch of the private US SpaceX company’s new crewed spacecraft. I think, it’s time to share some thoughts on the situation per se and what will happen in the coming years.

    So, what happened? 2011 saw closing down of the American crewed spacecraft launches to the ISS. The closure came as the result of its immense costliness and unforgivable failure rate. In crewed spaceflights, with people going into space aboard the vehicles, reliability is key to evaluate these technical means ensuring safety of the crews. Thus, the closure came as a predictable and forced measure, as the Americans lost as many as two crews. Disasters and emergencies have already occurred in crewed cosmonautics, but none of them took this many lives at once.

    Finding itself without its own space transport system, NASA was hectically searching for a solution — and it was found. Colossal funds were allocated to create three crewed spacecraft at once with the order distributed among several companies: Lockheed Martin (Orion Moon spacecraft), SpaceX (Crew Dragon) and Boeing (Starliner). Just to give a clue about the generosity of the US government, I will mention only the fact that Elon Musk’s company received the state-built cosmodrome at no expense, NASA-paid scientific and technological groundwork and best engineering talents, but also budget funds to create its own spacecraft. Contrary to common belief, the head of SpaceX built the spacecraft not on his dime, but at the expense of the American taxpayers. In addition, the budget funds allocated to Elon Musk are three times bigger than the funding of the contract between Roscosmos and RSC Energia to develop a much more complex Russian lunar ‘Oryol’ spacecraft (lit. ‘Eagle’). By the way, the Vostochny Cosmodrome costs 2.5 times cheaper than this purportedly private spacecraft — taking into account that the cosmodrome is being built in the Amur taiga 8-hour-flight away from Moscow with no necessary workforce, nor construction machinery or logistic centers (all of that we had to bring or create there in the Far East)….
    ####

    More at the link. Spot the typo!

    They really could have done with an executive summary of the interview. The Space.com article (below) is not bad at all. I do wish source links be published as standard by the PPNN rather than just referring to the name of the source so you don’t have to just rely on their cherry-picking.

    https://www.space.com/spacex-astronaut-launch-russia-space-chief-comments.html

    Like

    1. The typo is at the link: ‘…At the end of 2023, it is expected to begin flight tests in the unscrewed mode,..’

      I think unscrewed mode is the standard for space flight.

      Like

      1. The space.com article was pretty good. US media has been portraying the Russian space program and Rogozin in particular as jealous, resentful and fearful of the Mighty Musk and his Unstoppable Rocket Machines.

        Still have hope that Russia will launch a megawatt class nuclear powered ion drive this year.

        Like

  26. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the US government to showcase, for the world, its chops in birthing a nation yearning to breathe free air, and shake off the burdensome yoke of its masters. I don’t mean to tell you your business, but I think Job One is always to meet with the leaders, just like you did in Hong Kong, and together map out a path for independence which will be beneficial to both. But really, when you encourage freedom and individual will…we all benefit. Am I right? Can you gimme hallelujah?? Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, I present….CHAZ!!!!

    And remember – don’ be hatin’.

    Like

    1. Although this alternative view suggests – well, demonstrates – that some photos were photoshopped to make the situation look much more menacing than it actually is.

      https://www.motherjones.com/anti-racism-police-protest/2020/06/fox-news-is-losing-it-over-seattles-capitol-hill-autonomous-zone/

      The Democrats – surprise!! – have seized the whole BLM thing as THEIR cause, claiming that Trump is the villain in all of this. And he is, actually; he was as tone-deaf and simpleminded on this as he has been on so many other issues. But the Democrats’ message, skillfully introduced as usual by CNN, was that if Trump is not defeated in the upcoming election, black America will regard it as a sign that nothing is going to change, and rioting will redouble. Naturally if the Democrats take the White House, that won’t happen and black and white will walk together hand-in-hand into the sunset. Uncle Joe will come around and give all them black wimmens a squeeze to show them what he’s all about.

      Like

      1. MoA is back on his game:

        Do the Democrats believe that they can win the election with such a ‘strategy of tension’ against a ‘law and order’ Trump?

        If so they are making a huge mistake.

        The ‘silent majority’ that voted for Nixon will also vote for Trump.

        https://www.moonofalabama.org/

        Like

  27. Dutch scientist Willem Engel on the global lockdown that was completely and utterly unnecessary, the mortality rate which is demonstrably comparable to the seasonal flu, and the 1.5-meter social distancing whose source nobody can now identify. In Dutch, with English subtitles.

    former dutch scientist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KafIdOk8bLs&feature=emb_rel_end

    This issue has proven to be another major global divider; the notion that Coronavirus was a deadly plague-like pandemic from which we were saved by heroic medical professionals persists in some quarters. Moon of Alabama, for instance – B is normally very grounded in reality and provides an excellent service in analysis of global events. But B has a B in his bonnet over the coronavirus, and will entertain no discussion that it was not real and never anything like the looming threat it was presented. He continues to post defensive stories that purport to prove that masks work to prevent infection, by citing some German town in which masking was mandatory in public, and similar-sized German towns in which it was not. There could be any number of reasons for one town having more or less infections than another of similar size, but no – masks work, and we should all be wearing them all the time. Even though it says right on the package that a paper mask will not protect you from Coronavirus.

    I’m curious, on a purely academic level, to see what kind of explanation will be offered for the massive and widespread fiscal destruction, the jobs lost that will never return, the veering of some businesses into continuing their work-from-home policy because even though most workers don’t like it, it is ‘surprisingly productive’. And hey – you can get rid of your whole HR department; if there is any more sexual harassment, it’s not a company problem if there is no company workplace. Ditto employees who have a drinking or drug problem – as long as their production does not flag, what the eye doesn’t see the heart will not grieve. No more office building; a nice office for the boss and his secretary will be sufficient, and warehouse space can be leased. Anyway, the media keeps hammering on it as a life-and-history-changing event, and I believe that’s because an element of social engineers chose it to make changes. It becomes clearer by the day that it was never anything like the danger it was portrayed.

    Like

    1. With regard to the coronavirus issue, MoA is acting as if he is cherrypicking only those articles that agree with his views or preferences:; one example being where he highlighted or linked to articles featuring studies that suggested smokers suffered less from COVID-19 infection than non-smokers did. At that point I realised he really was far gone down that particular rabbit hole and was unlikely ever to re-emerge.

      No doubt he’ll soon be crowing over the news that a study of the USS Theodore Roosevelt crew found that mask-wearing was more effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the crew than hand-washing and social distancing – even though the environment on a naval ship is rather different than what most of us landlubbers experience and the crew might not be representative of the general public either. They might all be non-smokers (not necessarily by choice) for one thing.

      Like

      1. The atmosphere on a ship is the most conducive-to-airborne-infection climate I could easily name. Below decks, only about 10% of the air is fresh, and the rest is recirculated – the supply of outside air to the inside of the ship must be capable of instant termination in the event of a chemical or nuclear attack, and at that point all air inside the ship is filtered and recirculated and the environment pressurized to form what is known as the citadel. This is the gastight interior where you do not have to wear PPE, because the citadel is pressurized so any air leak – as when a door is opened – goes outward. Of course we only exercise that system in drills, and so far not ever in the real thing to the best of my knowledge, but the circulation of air onboard is optimised for non-reliance on the outside environment. The result is that even under relaxed conditions, much of the air aboard is recirculated. If someone has a bug, it becomes part of the air supply piped through the ship. Ships are notorious for the spread of colds and flu.

        I decided to ignore the coronavirus discussions at MOA, as there is no room for argument, and just enjoy the discussions on everything else, which remain as before. I would not say that masks are useless; if you were wearing a mask and you sneezed, the mask would probably capture a lot of the droplets. But some would get through, and they are even less effective at protecting you from what you’re breathing in if you are not already sick. Plus it looks dorky and like we are living in a plague world if everyone goes around wearing them. I don’t get why I should wear a mask and look like a dork to guard against a disease the odds say I won’t ever get, and if I do I have a good chance on not even knowing I have it. I’m sure the medical people would like us to go masked and gloved and probably wearing a light protective suit whenever we left home, because it would mean less sick people, but it’s just not part of a good quality of life for most people.

        Like

  28. Working remotely can be surprisingly productive but results may vary.
    – sales can work remotely as they are “outward” facing
    – managers should not work remotely
    – personal productivity may improve but team productivity decreases
    – productivity decreases with time as the novelty fades
    It’s more work for HR, at least initially, and more work for managers to monitor performance. Can’t say remote working is totally bad but it can have a limited role.

    I don’t get MOA, either, I suppose he is assuming that the Chinese response was proof of the virus’s seriousness. It kinda had me for a while, too.

    It is hard to imagine that the response to the virus was primarily over public health. It may be social training or conditioning. Trump and the rise of the deplorables threw a monkey wrench in the grand strategy of globalization of values. The lock down for our own good, and now the ginned up BLM shame game may be meant to dismantle “the resistance”. Something like that.

    Like

  29. Well, you knew it was going to happen.

    Astra-Zeneca has just signed a contract to supply Europe with 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, pending a successful outcome to ongoing clinical trials. Even if they only cost €1.00 apiece, and I’m confident it will be more than that, it’s still nearly a half-billion Euros, to a single drug company. And you don’t have anything to say about it, as a European – your government is using your money to buy you a dose, whether you want it or not. If you don’t, Astra-Zeneca still has your money, because it was spent without asking for your consent.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-vaccines/astrazeneca-agrees-to-supply-europe-with-400-million-doses-of-covid-19-vaccine-idUSKBN23K0HW

    Bye-bye, not-very-dangerous virus; hello, Huh-YOODGE money!! And next year it will have mutated enough that this year’s vaccine will no longer be effective. Like a license to print your own money, innit? Don’t forget the global manufacturing deal for 2 BILLION doses globally, sweetened with a $1.2 Billion deal with the U.S. government. Bill Gates-backed ventures, bla, bla, you knew that would happen, too. Probably too late to catch the leading edge of the Astra-Zeneca investment curve, but I’ll bet their stock took off like a comet.

    The only prophesy which remains to be fulfilled is that vaccinations will be mandatory, by government order. And that’s not too farfetched any more, either, because governments are not going to want to be left with a big backlog of unused doses because some people don’t want one; they’ve been going after the ‘vaxxers’ for years, portraying them as cackling crazies.

    Like

    1. And next year it will have mutated enough that this year’s vaccine will no longer be effective.

      We don’t know that. From what I read and understand, mutations within strains are not unusual and don’t affect the efficacy of current vaccines much except in a few cases. It’s also simply too early to tell with Covid-19, but it is considered a mild and slow mutator.

      https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-to-know-about-mutation-and-covid-19

      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm

      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm

      It looks like a high percentage of us naturally develop immunity and suffer no symptoms (60%)+ which if you consider ‘Herd Immunity’ requires 80%+, then vaccines (if they are properly tested) should go first to the most vulnerable, just like yearly flu shots for oldies are but should not an obligation for the rest of us. Either way, the more vulnerable will have to be carefully treated by everyone over the next couple of years until we see how it all shakes out.

      Like

      1. Yes, that’s all true. And if next year it does not reappear or if it is still in a form whereby the original vaccine has conferred immunity, then Astra-Zeneca goes from a $2 Billion year to a zero year, or a year of whatever its normal profits were before it surged ahead to grab the brass ring and Vaccinate The World.

        Like

        1. And this is but the end of the beginning. I think China has offered any vaccine it produces for free (?IP/or produced in Cn & transported for free?). That would really be quite a kung-fu move and an ‘Up yours’ to the west and Astra-Zeneca. We’ll see…

          Like

          1. Well, naturally China has not offered to provide the vaccine itself for free, but it has pledged to share the formula for it so that others may make it, without charge. Probably the western lunge to develop a vaccine first is so as to get in at the trough of research funds as well, rather than wait for the Chinese to develop one. In that case, as well, they would probably patent it so that a western pharma manufacturer could not simply take their research, slap their own name on it and sell it for a fortune. But it certainly lends weight to the suggestion that one of the reasons for turning a relatively non-dangerous infection into a global Black Death is to reward Bill-Gates-affiliated companies with a huge payday of public funds.

            Like

  30. In his most recent – at this time of writing – post at Russia Observer, Patrick Armstrong posited, “Who won the oil war? Russia.” And it’s true Riyadh did make a huge mess of things, while the USA requires oil to be at a much higher price than Russia and even Riyadh in order to turn a profit. But I don’t think even Patrick saw this humiliation coming – Russia has risen to second-highest supplier of crude oil to the USA, beating out Mexico and Saudi Arabia and second only to Canada. The USA has taken a 9-year record amount of Urals crude; around 9 million barrels . Why? You’re going to laugh. Because Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela, and now American refineries will have to take heavier crudes from a new source, or be forced to shut down.

    https://www.stalkerzone.org/its-nothing-personal-how-the-us-helped-russia-win-the-oil-war/

    Like

      1. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-england-wales-death-toll-latest-nhs-a9555951.html

        …Covid-19 was responsible for 45,748 of these fatalities, the ONS said.

        The remainder – deaths not directly linked to Covid-19 – might have been caused by factors connected with wider changes in England and Wales since the lockdown began: a reluctance on the part of some people to visit a doctor or a hospital, for instance, or the result of long-term health conditions being made worse by having to remain at home….
        ####

        al-Beeb s’Allah recently ran a piece on Russia about this which included the infection rate & the death rate, but not the number of tests which are now over 14 million (102,000 per 1 million of population)! Or does mass testing create Covid-19 where it doesn’t exist already? al-Beeb s’Allah, doing what it does best: Lying by Ommission (LbO). Here it is:

        Putin makes first public appearance in weeks of lockdown in Russia
        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53026388

        …About 510,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Russia, the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Brazil. Russia has recorded 6,705 deaths amid accusations of under-reporting by the authorities…

        Like

  31. Politico.eu: Poland calls off Czech invasion
    https://www.politico.eu/article/poland-czech-invasion-polish-army/

    The Polish army says it was a ‘misunderstanding.’

    …”There was a misunderstanding on the Polish side, the chapel is already accessible,” Hana Malá, a Czech interior ministry spokesperson, told Czech media…

    …bla bla bla bla…

    Poland and the Czechs have a history of much more serious border frictions. They fought a brief war in early 1919, Poland annexed part of the border region in 1938, and the two almost came to blows again after World War II….
    ####

    It’s that last bit that is interesting in that it was actually published. Cz has a legitimate beef with the lo-land of Po-land as it got its piece (of Cz) from the 1938 Munich Agreement. The Czechs still haven’t forgotten about it even today. As for Pilsudski, even the Nazis even held a symbolic funeral for him on his death in 1935 when Nazis were still seen as A Good Thing (TM):

    https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/adolf-hitler-memorial-pilsudski-1935/

    … In 1939 when the Germans took Kraków (Krakau) Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to set at Piłsudski’s grave a honor guard…

    Like

    1. It sure don’t look like Poland is getting much support for its Intermarium ambitions from neighbouring nations .

      Like

  32. Matt Taibbi: The American Press Is Destroying Itself
    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-news-media-is-destroying-itself

    A flurry of newsroom revolts has transformed the American press

    Sometimes it seems life can’t get any worse in this country. Already in terror of a pandemic, Americans have lately been bombarded with images of grotesque state-sponsored violence, from the murder of George Floyd to countless scenes of police clubbing and brutalizing protesters.

    Our president, Donald Trump, is a clown who makes a great reality-show villain but is uniquely toolless as the leader of a superpower nation. Watching him try to think through two society-imperiling crises is like waiting for a gerbil to solve Fermat’s theorem….
    ####

    Plenty more at the link.

    t-Rump is a catalyst and a symptom of a rotting empire, as is the media class. It’s long been evident that they were on a downwards spiral. From the 1990s onwards any semblance of real or percieved impartiality was jettisoned while opinion and fact became interchangable, along with having the wrong opinion or not completely agreeing was considered to be beyond the pale. As Taibbi points out, self-sucking journalism that almost unanimously and mostly unquestioningly peddled Saddam’s invisible WMDs has now come home. It is no longer full-speculum dominoes against anyone abroad who is an enemy or they just don’t like and anyone who might just smell funny, but serious polarization back home too.

    Like

  33. Tass: Press review: Republicans take aim at Moscow and is Russia’s gas export kingship in danger
    https://tass.com/pressreview/1166695

    Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, June 11

    Kommersant: Republicans drawing up plans to crack down on Russia

    The Republican Study Committee (RSC) in the United States Congress has proposed a foreign policy vision and strategy to counter its US opponents. According to Kommersant, another blacklist is in the making and the honors of second place (after China) on this list goes to Russia…

    …According to their document, Russia is stepping on US interests around the world – from Syria and Libya to Venezuela and Montenegro…

    …To counter Russia, a number of specific measures are proposed. Among them would be to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, introduce secondary sanctions against companies supporting special Russian oil and gas projects, slap sanctions on new Russian public debt, put Vnesheconombank on the sanctions list, impose restrictive measures against “leaders of Russian propaganda”, and continue assistance to Ukraine and Georgia, and others.

    However, the proposed document is just a list of recommendations, not a bill….
    ####

    I don’t know where the Neocons get the time for stuff like this when they are busy having global orgasms all the time. A sticky paper…

    Like

    1. It’s not so difficult. Just go through the ‘List of Plans for Global Domination’, pull out the one headed “Venezuela”, and stick a label over Venezuela that says “Russia”. The USA is drunk on sanctions, and extraterritorial sanctions have evolved to their go-to policy instrument to the exclusion of even negotiations. Do as we say, and exactly as we say, or else – sanctions! Sooner or later it will become obvious to the world that trade with the United States comes at high risk, as it could be snatched away at a whim tomorrow, and the world will start to decrease its exposure. Even Canada is discussing a revisiting of Trudeau The First’s ‘Third Option’.

      https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-shows-why-canada-must-reduce-its-dependence-on-the-u-s-136357

      Policymaking is generally done in an atmosphere of the-Ghost-of-Christmas-Yet-to-Come, and looks as far into the future as reasonably practical; what lies ahead for our largest trade partner? A gradual return to stability, or increasingly harebrained lunacy, crude coercion and bullying? Trump is still very likely to be re-elected, and if he is not Biden would just be an addled talking head for the Clinton Machine, and either way America will simply grow more and more firmly divided. America has seen its golden age come and go, and while it is far from irrelevant now and in the immediate future, it is too saddled by debt to return to its days of greatness; its soft power is entirely gone, and all it has left is the threat of war using its huge military, or economic coercion until no country feels safe to engage in any trade pacts that are not pre-approved by Washington. Obviously, no ‘free’ world can put up with that.

      I saw yesterday where American sanctions caused several international tankers – who were bound for Venezuela to pick up crude for transport to international refineries – to turn back, or turn aside and anchor. America already banned all domestic imports of Venezuelan crude, to the point it is taking record amounts of Urals crude from Russia, in a bid to starve the country of income until it gets its way and puts Guaido in charge – it will entertain no other solutions, and does not seem to see how undemocratic it is.

      https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14904

      No country can call itself independent if its government must look to Washington for signals before making any major decisions, and Washington does not have the grasp or capability to run the world, only to make decisions which are in America’s interests. And no country can arrange its economy around what policies would most benefit Americans and make them rich and fat. But as we have often discussed, once decisions are taken to abandon previous trading patterns and strike out in search of new markets, it leads to new alliances and will not likely be reversible. America is quite literally burning bridges in its drive for absolute power. As soon as countries grasp that their economy can only ever make as much money as Washington says it’s all right to make, and that as soon as Washington thinks it is not getting a big enough piece of the pie, it will impose extraterritorial sanctions until the balance is redressed to its liking, countries begin to think about how their present relationship with Washington constitutes an unacceptable vulnerability. The global trade America now enjoys did not come about overnight; it was the work of decades of careful relationship-building. The USA is a bully, and relationships with a bully pretty much never turn out to favour the bully’s subjects.

      Russia is not in a position that the USA can bully it. It is largely insulated now from Washington’s precious sanctions, and many European countries are now wondering how they can ease the sanctions already in place at Washington’s orders, much less apply more so as to benefit America. Trump’s political stable, Pompeo and Grennell and Perry, are hated around the world, and their international visits are all stick and no carrot. I think the USA has already crossed the Go Fuck Yourself line. Washington is demanding nothing less than the complete reordering of global trade to its pleasure.

      Like

  34. If the rioting in the USA could not be brought under control, then sooner or later the narrative must be brought around to where rioting is a sign of how free Americans are, and is essentially a validation that everything is going according to plan.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/video/how-riots-built-america/vi-BB15oZZJ

    “Rioting is inherently American. Throughout U.S. history, from the Boston Tea Party to the ongoing George Floyd protests, demonstrators can be found fighting for change and against oppression on the streets. “

    Bet you wish you could have rioting in your country like they have in America. It is the sad fate of other countries to just be envious of Americans, and how good they have it.

    Like

  35. Jean Shaheen and Ted Cruz appear to be smooching in victory over their New and Improved Sanctions bill, which in addition to sanctioning every company that provides any service at all to the Russian vessels – port services, insurance and so on – threatens to sanction the German regulator which will have to certify the pipeline for operation. It’s more or less certain nothing will be started before autumn, anyway, because we’re too close now to the July/August closure for codfish spawning.

    It would have been interesting to hear Cruz explain how the pipeline presents a ‘threat to American national security’ when Germany at present has no LNG terminals and the USA at present has no pipelines to Germany. But the simplest and most likely explanation is that American national security is a boilerplate add-on that America uses to pad out its legislation when it wants it to sound more serious. Still, it’s called the ‘Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act’, with nary a mention of American national security, at least not in the title. Everyone knows, I think, that the Americans are trying to stop completion of the pipeline so there will be more market share for American LNG, but Germany can’t take any, and building LNG terminals at German expense so they could buy LNG at higher prices from the country that forced them to buy it would be a strange reaction from Germany, and I’m afraid I just don’t see them doing it, or anything like it.

    Anyway, Oilprice’s analysts reckon Russia and Gazprom will ignore the U.S. and proceed, and the likely effect of American threats to Europe will be Europeans moving business out of America’s reach, as the Russians have done and continue to do. And threats that no American technology can be used in Arctic drilling operations by Gazprom or any other companies affiliated with it merely encourage other companies to develop their own drilling technology. The net result will be less and less business joint ventures with American companies, because all American companies are subject to US government orders to cease operations if the US government wants some leverage somewhere. I don’t think there is anything in the world that only Americans can do, and if an American company is the world’s best at something, go with the number two provider and invest some money in bettering their operations.

    https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/New-US-Sanctions-Unlikely-To-Derail-Nord-Stream-2.html

    Like

  36. Another apocalyptic view – we seem to be getting a lot of those lately – this time of the economic recovery, by allegedly well-respected economist Nouriel Roubini. I’m not going to pretend I’ve heard of him, but economics is not my field and quite a long way from anything I would be likely to take up as a hobby.

    A particularly resonant chord struck here, I think: “Globalization has kept labor and production costs low for years, if only because of the 2.5 billion cheap laborers from India and China. But globalization had already passed its peak after the financial crisis, and the pandemic has intensified the trend. We are witnessing renationalization, the disintegration of supply chains, a trade conflict between China and the U.S.”

    And, astonishingly, vindication of my previous assertions that if the USA is successful at strong-arming its allies into blowing off Huawei for its 5G builder, they and the USA will end up with a more-expensive and less-capable network.

    “Take the example of 5G technology: Nokia and Ericsson are 30 percent more expensive and 20 percent less effective than Huawei. So if a country decides against Huawei for 5G expansion, which there are good security policy reasons for doing, the prices of all kinds of end products, from 5G services to toasters and microwaves with 5G chips, will automatically rise. And that ultimately leads to inflation.”

    Enjoy.

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/business/nouriel-roubini-the-stock-market-is-deluding-itself-a-a9d3ab21-cfea-4220-8727-5b59105d0858?sara_ecid=nl_upd_1jtzCCtmxpVo9GAZr2b4X8GquyeAc9&nlid=bfjpqhxz

    I would just like to point out that the least-likely nation to see its supply chains disintegrate is the one that has just rebuilt all its supply chains thanks to US meddling. Conversely, the nation that is going to suffer the most is the one that has been throwing its weight around and generally making a prick of itself.

    Like

  37. Latynina apologizes for fake about coronavirus in Tatarstan
    14/06/2020, 10:59:51

    https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2020-06-14-latynina-apologizes-for-fake-about-coronavirus-in-tatarstan.HJ-gbtUXaU.html

    Navalny’s personal ophthalmologist and propagandist lying through her teeth again. But this time she has been irrefutably revealed for what she is and made a fool of noted Libtard Latynina, who, according to some Russian reports, has stated that Vasilyeeva should be
    imprisoned for spreading fake Coronavirus stories.

    Российские либералы решили казнить своего соратника

    https://www.bragazeta.ru/news/2020/06/15/rossijskie-liberaly-reshili-kaznit

    Like

  38. The well-known liberal journalist and Russophobia columnist, Echo of Moscow, Yulia Latynina, has called for imprisoning the comrade-in-arms of the liberal legion Anastasia Vasilyeeva.”

    The reason for such an appeal was Latynina and Vasilyeeva’s exposed fake about an outbreak of coronavirus in Tatarstan. After the deliberate lie had been revealed, Latynina had to apologize to the Tatarstan authorities. Obviously, the venerable liberal did not like this, so she has actually called for the imprisonments of Vasilyeeva, who is a representative of Navalny’s medical pseudo-trade union “Alliance of Doctors”.

    “I apologize to Tatarstan for having been taken in by a letter from a malicious“ fake-doer”, Latynina said live on air during the programme “Access Code”.

    If the fake had not been uncovered, then, to the joy of the opposition, yet another Russophobe attack by Latynina, would have been added to the hoard of lies that denigrate Russia. But now the journalist has been put into an uncomfortable position, so she has attacked Vasilyeva.

    According to Latynina, the letter was written on behalf of an employee of the Nizhnekamsk hospital, Zainab Mukhametshina. Later it turned out that “it was all a fake”, and the letter was written by a man who was trying to compromise the Alliance of Doctors organization. Since the journalist’s actions fall under the law on the distribution of fakes, Latynina has publicly called for her colleague to be punished — she has even approved the application of a law that is criticized by the liberal legion:

    “The actions of this person entirely fall under the article adopted by the state on malicious fakes. This is an exceptional case, where, I think, he deserves to go behind bars.”

    Earlier it was reported that the Investigative Committee of Russia had begun checking on the possible dissemination of false information in the Latynina programme. Investigators have appealed to the editorial office of the radio station with a request to ensure Latynina’s appearance for an explanation.

    What a pair of Berkshire hunts!

    Like

  39. BBC
    3 hours ago:

    The US has said it is “outraged” after Russia sentenced an ex-US marine to 16 years in a high security prison on spying charges.

    Like

    1. “The United States is outraged by the decision of a Russian court today to convict US citizen Paul Whelan after a secret trial, with secret evidence, and without appropriate allowances for defence witnesses,” he said.

      Secret evidence, eh?

      Sort of like the evidence that the USA has presented in secret for the MH17 “trial”?

      Like

      1. Good. Then the Russian press can print that the USA is ‘fuming’ or ‘furious’ or whatever colourful verbiage it chooses, and have something to substantiate it. Unlike the American press, where they initiate some action they deem to be most clever, and then print that Moscow is ‘enraged’ although there has been no reaction at that point.

        Who is the ‘old friend’ who ‘turned up unexpectedly’? Is he on trial as well? Or are we to believe the ‘old friend’ was a Russian agent of long standing and Whelan, a self-advertised ‘security executive’ was unaware of that? Think that’d fly in the Land of the Free if the nationalities were reversed? I was just in Washington for a wedding, and thought this flash drive only contained holiday photos? Sure, yes, my old friend turned up unexpectedly to give me holiday photos, honest! The NSA set me up!

        How long an interval was ‘moments later’? Was the flash drive accessed by Whelan before agents burst in to arrest him? They could certainly tell. It’s not like Russia is above setting someone up if it wants to take them out of circulation, but it has no track record of pouncing on innocent citizens who were just in town for a wedding.

        Then again, it probably does not have too many wedding guests just blow into town who are each citizens of four different countries, have a military background with several combat deployments and chose ‘security executive’ as their post-career specialization, and have an old friend who is a Russian agent.

        Like

  40. Ha, ha, hahahahaha… The US walks back on its persecution of Huawei. The wording of the amendment must be exquisite, I can’t wait to see it, because the reports maintain that a commitment to work with the company on 5G “in no way affects the government’s position on Huawei”. Which is…ummm…to crush it to dust.

    “The amendment will significantly help American companies that maintain leadership in international standards groups, without prejudice to the government’s goals regarding Huawei,” a Washington lawyer quoted a source as saying.”

    This is perfect. Because the USA has signified that its government still means to cut Huawei out of all 5G networks where it can exercise influence, the company is going to be under no illusions what it means, and will not want to commit to installing expensive equipment the US government might order ripped out next week. But it totally frees up allies who were on the fence and hesitant to allow Huawei any access for fear of angering Trump and his Numpties. It will do noting to alleviate the strain between America and China, but is a green light to any other country agonizing about being cornered into a more-expensive and less-effective Ericsson or Nokia network. It is unlikely to affect China’s or anyone else’s plans to decouple from any potential vulnerability implicit in using American-made equipment, for chipmaking or anything else. And I’ll bet that sort of backing-away is exactly what the legislation hoped to avert.

    https://www.ixbt.com/news/2020/06/15/ssha-ochen-skoro-razreshat-svoim-kompanijam-rabotat-s-huawei-nad-standartami-5g.html

    Like

  41. Keeping up his good work for the world hegemon:

    In one of his videos, Alexei Navalny said that voting for a new constitution makes no sense, saying that all decisions have already been made, that the new constitution has already been printed and is being sold in the shops, and it is, therefore, not necessary to have a referendum, as by doing so will not change anything. This, however is a blatant lie. Let us just check this out!

    In his video, the oppositionist waves about in front of the camera a certain booklet, which he bought in a shop, and he assures us that this is the new ALREADY IN FORCE constitution. Therefore, no one need go to the polls, because everything has already been decided for us. But he ignores the fact that the title page of the book has the following text:

    “The Constitution of the Russian Federation, as amended by the Law of the Russian Federation of March 14, 2020 No. 1 – FCC, which enters into force AFTER approval in the course of the all-Russian vote”.

    From this text it is clear that this is NOT a valid constitution, but one with an amendments, which amendments have been proposed to be put to a vote and which will only come into force if a majority votes in favour for them. This book was put on sale so that citizens familiarize themselves [with the proposed amendments] and especially for those citizens who do not use the Internet!

    But Alexei, looking into the camera with crystal-clear, honest eyes, assures us that this book is real proof that all amendments HAVE ALREADY BEEN DRAWN UP and that there is no need to vote. Ai-yai-yai Alyosha! You are a lawyer by training. Is that not so? You have been caught out lying again! After all, what is written on the book cover was impossible not to notice. So you knowingly call for a boycott of the referendum — your call being based on a lie?

    But this is not too bad. By his action, Navalny renders an invisible service to Putin. Indeed, according to the above law, amendments to the constitution will be adopted if more than half of all who come to the referendum vote for them. Do you understand? It turns out that if fans of Navalny believe their idol and do not go to vote, then the percentage of votes “AGAINST” will noticeably decrease! By their failure to appear, they help to accept these amendments, because those who are “FOR” the amendments will come to vote and vote “FOR”. Now here is a puzzle to solve: if Alyosha did this consciously, then he works for the Kremlin; If not consciously, then he is hopelessly stupid.

    Take a look at what member of the Yabloko party Maxim Katz is talking about.[video in linked article — ME]>. It is thanks to him that my eyes were opened as regards this oppositionist being caught out lying.

    https://zen.yandex.ru/media/id/5cc5ee79589ccd00b2288afd/navalnogo-poimali-na-lji-on-vral-pro-popravki-v-konstituciiu-5ee76a7cc64be97c15fe8671

    Like

    1. I suppose his hope is to affect a low turnout, whereupon he would spin it that the electorate is apathetic because it knows the amendments are a done deal and the people cannot change what their master has decided, bla, bla, you know the drill. The new Consitution would in all probability pass anyway, and likely Lyosha knows it, he just wants to get something out of it and a low turnout would be about the best he could do. Let’s remember he was trained as a real-estate lawyer, and his grasp of criminal law is likely no better than anyone else.

      Like

  42. Alert5.com via Star Tribune: Tokyo abandons plan for Aegis Ashore
    http://alert5.com/2020/06/16/tokyo-abandons-plan-for-aegis-ashore/

    Japan has decided not to proceed with the Aegis Ashore missile defense system after spending $1.7 billion on the program.

    Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters that one of the sites required modifications to the hardware in order to ensure the safety of the local community. The fixes would be too costly and time consuming…

    …The site in Yamaguchi was the one having issues as the booster from the interceptor might land outside the base after being fired.

    https://www.startribune.com/japan-to-scrap-costly-land-based-us-missile-defense-system/571259302/
    ####

    Waiting for a t-Rump tweet in 3…2…1…

    Like

    1. That sounds a little shaky to me. You have to do the same thing when firing a Harpoon missile; have a quick look at the radar to make sure your booster drop zone is clear, because one of your consorts might be in it. But the missile flies almost straight up when launched, so the booster drop zone does not extend out very far, and it is centered on the bearing line down which the missile flies toward the target. In the case of a landbased missile, you would have to clear that zone all around, because you would never know in what direction you might be firing, and cannot maneuver to clear it as you could in a ship. But the point is that this condition must have been known in the very early planning stages, before the site was even chosen. The missile is always going to use a booster to attain sufficient speed and height before its onboard propellant cuts in, and that booster was always going to fall somewhere. Unless somebody only clued in at the $1.7 Billion mark that you can’t move a base to clear the booster drop zone, it sounds like a manufactured buy-out for some totally different reason.

      Like

      1. The previous news was that they had chosen the Aegis Ashore for the second location (Araya) based on GoogleMaps/earth and only later discovered that it was bad data and that the essential radar’s effectiveness would be seriously compromised by…. mountains!

        This latest news looks like the straw that broke the camel’s back. 1: it’s expensive; 2: the locals aren’t happy with it (and elsewhere in Japan there has been growing local opposition to US military stuff); 3: the US moved more missiles to Japan without notifying (recently). So an accumulation of political, economic and military doubts, but the mountains one takes the biscuit.

        So what’s next? Buying the ship based Aegis?

        https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/05/ee719ce480d0-japan-to-change-location-of-missile-defense-system-amid-local-outcry.html

        Like

        1. Japan has had the ship-based Aegis for a long time, on the KONGO Class.

          https://nara.getarchive.net/media/the-japanese-maritime-self-defense-force-msdf-kongo-class-destroyer-myoko-ddg-2a6c0c?zoom=true

          It’s those hexagonal flat arrays on each side of the bridge and just below. Four units were built between 1990 and 1998. Structurally they are similar to the American ARLEIGH BURKE class which inspired them, but the mast is a dead giveaway, straight on the Japanese ships and angled aft on the American ships.

          Nobody looks after their ships the way the Japanese do. Even old ships look like they were just built, for cleanliness and attention to detail. If there is a brass lock on an upper-deck locker, it is polished to a gleam, there are no paint spatters and I have seen them vacuuming the upper decks with backpack vacuum cleaners when they are alongside in port.

          Like

    1. Hmmmm….let’s see…on the one hand, we have Lukashenko, ‘after decades in power’. On the other, we have Babariko, ‘after decades spent out of politics’. If I was taking my car to get it fixed, would I be more likely to take it to somebody who has been a mechanic for decades, or someone who was a mechanic decades ago? Of course it depends on a lot of variables, but Lukashenko has been a target for western overthrow for nearly as long as he has been in power, and I would like to think he is expecting western meddling every time there is an election. Probably the people do want a change, people are seldom satisfied for long, and that’s why politicians can make crazy promises and some will always listen. But knowing the uncertainty of a world under constant risk of more U.S. bullying and economic instability, I doubt the Belarusian voters are going to unite behind a guy who has had zero political experience for decades. How would he fare, do you think, if he decided instead that he wanted to be President of the United States, saying for the moment that he was an American citizen and met the criteria?

      Like

      1. Moon of Alabama: Belarus – A U.S. Sponsored Color Revolution Is Underway
        https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/06/belarus-a-us-sponsored-color-revolution-is-underway.html

        U.S engineered attempts to overthrow a foreign government by stirring civil arrests are usually named after a color or, at times, a flower. Thus we had an “rose revolution” in Georgia, a “green movement” in Iran and an “orange revolution” in the Ukraine.

        But now the CIA and its assortment of supporting organizations seems to have run out of color choices. How else can one explain that their latest attempt in Belarus is called a “slipper revolution”….
        ####

        But ne’er a word about the military and security services? What’s supposed to happen, Lukashenko is unseated by ‘slippers’ and the whole security state goes along with it? It all rather smacks of desparation and the more common incompetence of the US these last few years.

        Like

        1. Yes, I saw this; the Slipper Revolution? How sad. But every revolution needs a label, a rallying symbol. The western press made much of the way Iranians ‘crowded around’ (although the crowds were often much smaller than they were made to appear) toppled statues of Saddam Hussein to slap the dictator’s face or shoulders with their sandals as a sign of their contempt. And the western professional agitators are always carefully parsing current events in the target country, looking for a slogan which may become a rallying-cry. ‘Stamp him out like a cockroach’ seems to be the one they felt had the most potential. I remember we had to undergo a similarly-tedious trial of ‘The Party of Crooks and Thieves’ on Navalny’s behalf, and the western press inevitably plays it up as a salacious phrase that is on everyone’s lips, it’s so bad but it feels so good. I think this one will be a dud just like Navalny’s was. Lukashenko is an old hand at this game, and tough to beat, especially as he is selling stability – with some credibility – and needs only to point to the turmoil in the west and say “You’re telling me you want that???” The link was interesting, though, because it portrays Babariko as possibly the preferred Russian candidate. I had not looked into his background at all, being satisfied with his claim to having been out of politics for decades. That was enough to write him off, in my book – Lukashenko would eat him for lunch.

          I still think the Kremlin would be playing a dangerous game to argue for Babariko. It plainly wants Lukashenko gone, because he is only going to play the same game of courting whoever he thinks he can use as a foil against the other party forever. I’m sure he doesn’t want the west to take over Belarus, but he doesn’t want a union with Russia in which he will be a smaller frog in a so-much-bigger pond, either. Perhaps Russia thinks Babariko would be more progressive and loyal, but there’s every chance the west would get to him first, as well. Belarus is not big, but it would be symbolically huge in the west’s pursuit of Russian encirclement.

          For what it’s worth, I think Lukashenko will win again. The western press always plays up support for the opposition as if it is a juggernaut, but that’s seldom the case and there are no other signs of it. People are discontented, sure, but that’s an iron rule of government – the longer the same one is in power, the more the people feel they would like a change. The magic formula is to present them with a potential change that looks like it would be a big improvement. So far, I’m not seeing that.

          Like

          1. You mean Iraqis, not Iranians, who were crowding around the toppled statue of Saddam Hussein and hitting it with sandals. There were said to be fewer than 200 people in the square at the time and I think also there was a hotel packed with foreign news teams facing the square so the toppling of the statue made for a good photo shoot suitable for a made-up story.

            Iranians hate Saddam Hussein for the 8-year war that cost both Iraq and Iran heavily.

            Like

            1. Yes, that’s exactly what I meant, I did not even notice I had written ‘Iranians’; so much for proof-reading. I believe there were several events of statue-toppling accompanied by sandal-slapping, but yes, the best known was the one staged at Firdos Square.

              According to this source, the people seen swarming over the statue and slapping it with their sandals as a token of their disrespect and contempt are not even Iraqis. The whole thing was a psyop from start to finish, staged by the US military under the direction of a Marine Colonel.

              https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=4a4_1316441737

              So those people might actually have been Iranians, but I couldn’t take any credit for that considering it was a mistake. The speaker does not say what they were, and it is probably unlikely that Iranians would cooperate with the US military in any case. The news anchor just says it was plain from their accents and speech that they are not Iraqis, but never takes it any further than that, and it’s hard to imagine where the US military would have gotten non-Iraqis in Iraq at such short notice, considering it was a spur-of-the-moment ‘target of opportunity’.

              Like

              1. Some Iraqi journalist lobbed a slipper at George “Mission Accomplished” Bush when he was addressing the press in Baghdad.

                Apparently, such action is seen as a great insult in the Arab world.

                “Slipper Revolution”?

                Why coin such phrases?

                Journalists seem to be always seeking a catch-phrase, a slogan etc.

                I say “journalists”, but that really should be “Western journalists” — most of them at least.

                They are shite! — always looking for a “handle”, a “gimmick”, a stupid tag.

                It’s their crappy marketing style, their way of “selling” a story, “story” being the operative word.

                It’s all about marketing opinions, propaganda, half-truths and outright lies, innit?

                It’s all about controlling and shaping public opinion, innit?

                My elder daughter is studying journalism, by the way, and English (piece of cake for her, because she’s fluent in English now) and German.

                Like

                1. Not exactly. More like “the process of repeating a word or phrase or logo until it gets stuck in the mind of the public”.

                  https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/power-branding-politics

                  When Goebbels was still alive, they called it ‘lying’, but that was only when ‘branding’ (except they didn’t call it that then) was used to spread propaganda that usually was not true. ‘The Party of Crooks and Thieves’ was a clear and indisputable example of branding – you see, I still remember it clearly and probably always will – but it was resisted strongly, most Russian people with the exception of the ultracool liberal hipster/hamsters refused to use it, and it didn’t stick like it was supposed to. But every regime-change attempt is dubbed The Something Revolution so as to inspire participants (presumably on the side helping you to overthrow the government) that they are part of a collective effort bigger than themselves, invested with the nobility of many dreams, instead of another shoddy gig job for the State Department.

                  Like

  43. Al-Jizz Error via Antiwar.com: Russia expels two Czech diplomats in tit-for-tat move
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/russia-expels-czech-diplomats-tit-tat-move-200615093649998.html

    Moscow’s move follows Czech expulsion of two Russian diplomats over their alleged involvement in poisoning plot hoax.

    …The ministry said it summoned the Czech ambassador on Monday to announce the move, saying the two diplomats must leave Russia by Wednesday…
    ####

    Like

    1. That’s the way to do it. Every western move must have equal and proportional consequences. If it doesn’t cost you anything to shit on people, you will do it all the time.

      Like

  44. South China Morning Post via Antiwar.com: Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou accuses US of giving Canadian court ‘grossly misleading’ evidence summary in extradition case
    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3089180/huaweis-meng-wanzhou-accuses-us-giving-canadian-court-grossly

    Meng’s lawyers want the extradition case thrown out because of the alleged abuse of process

    Defence team says US misled British Columbia court about a PowerPoint presentation Meng gave to a HSBC banker, forming the basis of US fraud case

    …As part of the other plank of the abuse claim, Meng’s lawyers have described a report written by Canada’s Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) on the morning before her arrest, which they say provides evidence of “coordinated state misconduct” between the US and Canada against her….
    ####

    Plenty more at the link.

    Like

    1. Impossible to believe “Requesting State’s summary of evidence … is grossly inaccurate and based on deliberate and/or reckless misstatements of fact and material omissions, thereby constituting a serious abuse of the extradition process that should disentitle the Requesting State to proceed”

      I am sure Leonard Peltier would agree.

      Like

      1. Clumsy writing on my part. Just a sarcastic remark about the US lies that got Peltier deported. After that mess no Canadian court should give any credit to US testimony in an extradition case that has the slightest hint of politics in it.

        Like

    2. The information about Meng’s PowerPoint presentation and junior HSBC employees (but not senior HSBC mgt) being made aware of certain information about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom in Iran, which forms the basis of the US request for her extradition, is laughable. No company on the planet would sign off on anything where senior execs were being kept in the dark by junior execs or departmental heads, unless the HSBC corporate organisation structure is completely non-hierarchial and people just do as they like behind one another’s backs.

      Like

      1. Even if that were the case, and I agree the notion is comical, no Junior executive would be likely to have signing authority to commit the company to billions in loans. Who signed the deals? Must we think of everything?

        Like

  45. Up yours, arseholes!

    Better said: Stuff your LNG “Freedom Molecules” up your shitters!

    «Газпром» приступил к демонтажу труб для транзита через Украину
    16.06.2020 | 17:29

    Gazprom has started dismantling pipes for transit through the Ukraine
    06/16/2020 | 17:29

    The head of the Ukrainian GTS Operator, Sergey Makogon, has said that Gazprom had begun dismantling pipes for gas transit through the Ukraine — reported by OilPoint.

    He said that dismantling is a problem that the Ukraine is not capable of affecting.

    According to him, the Russian side wants to stop transit, while the Ukrainian side does not refuse transit.

    Makogon also added that if deliveries through Ukrainian territory really stop, the GTS operator will be forced to work only on the domestic market and transit will no longer be a source of income for the Kiev budget.

    Like

    1. I’m pretty sure they would not do that if they were not confident about completing Nord Stream II. But stay tuned for more US sanctions, this time directed at anyone who ‘touches or handles GTS pipes, anyone who provides storage for GTS piping or brings sandwiches or tea to crews working at dismantling GTS pipes, and any woman who winks at or otherwise suggestively encourages a GTS pipe handler during the execution of his work’. Washington thinks sanctions are a magic bullet.

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      1. Weren’t the Yukietards only crowing not so long ago about their not buying for a whole year one Moskal molecule of gas, that they were independent of the aggressor state as regards gas supplies!

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        1. Indeed they did, and I well remember their bold celebration, in which they showed what was allegedly the last cubic meter or whatever of Moskali gas encapsulated in a shiny brass-and-glass cylinder. I can’t remember if they said they were going to put it in a museum or auction it off to the highest bidder, but I definitely remember the mood of jubilation and the ceremonial cylinder. However, I cannot now find any mention of it on the internet through any combination of search terms I can think of. It is as if it never happened.

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  46. ‘Tori Noodles, fresh from her bake sale on the Maidan, has a piece in Foreign Affairs:

    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2020-06-09/pinning-down-putin

    She laments how Vladimir Putin has for twenty years repeatedly slapped away Uncle Sam’s extended open hand, offered in the purest desire for friendship with Russia.
    /s

    She does admit one US mistake, tearing up the ABM Treaty in 2002, but the rest of it is one long whine about Putin.

    Her policy prescription: spend uncountable trillion$ the US has to borrow building up US military capability, unify all NATO allies to resist disinformation, hold up the renewal of the new START Treaty conditioned on Russian concessions on Russia’s short & medium range nuclear strike systems & new conventional capabilities, forge a united NATO & EU front on Ukraine with the US participating in the negotiations, and then offer a future Russian government a return to non-substantive participation in Western institutions like the G-7 and NATO-Russia Council as well as a few miniscule economic inducements like (and I quote):

    “…a joint investment fund, free-trade zones, or the removal of tariffs on certain goods. It could also include public-private partnerships in sectors such as clean energy, a business-to-business roundtable, and internships for young Russians to work in American and European firms. NATO could offer Moscow a fresh start, including resuming joint military exercises in areas such as accident prevention and emergency response. The United States and Europe could reopen the question of a pan-European security dialogue of the kind then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggested in 2008, so long as doing so would not weaken existing institutions, such as NATO, the EU, or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. If the United States and its allies resume working together on their Iran and North Korea policies, they should invite Russia to be a constructive contributor.”

    In other words, the same offer to Soviet/Russian leaders since Brezhnev: major substantive Soviet/Russian concessions in return for vague assurances of future Western goodwill.

    Gorby & Yeltsin fell for it, as did Medvedev, but I doubt anyone else in the Kremlin will.

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    1. What’s this “growing sense of malaise” that Russians have, to which Noodles refers?

      Oh, right! They’re pissed of with Pindostan, that’s what it is.

      Like

    2. “We know they’ve been naughty scamps but we’re willing to give them a chance to turn their lives round.”

      Must be some amount of money to be made from peddling twaddle.

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    3. I wholeheartedly share your doubt, and I must thank you at least as enthusiastically because it is rich fertilizer for my next post. A compost, I guess you could say. But on reading it through, I noticed a red-hot omission among all the squalling and bawling about evil and insecure Putin – any mention, any at all, of MH-17. I’m pretty sure the USA claimed Russia would never be forgiven for that dastardly act, and more importantly, that no rapprochment with the west could even be considered until Putin had personally apologized for Russia’s alleged action, and the paying of reparations had been discussed. Virtually every other authority, not to mention commenters on every article that mentions MH-17, announces that ‘Puler must man up and admit it, and apologize’. Few of them ever mention reparations, but you know as well as I that as soon as Russia said “Okay, we did it”, there would be a shitstorm of lawsuits demanding billions upon billions in reparations. A few people have even sued Ukraine, for not closing the airspace, although they are unlikely to have much success and the western media barely even mentioned it, although civil suits against Russia would likely have their own section in the daily news and the case would be followed hungrily day by day.

      But Nuland went an entire, comprehensive, wide-ranging article without ever mentioning it, and implied that some sort of rapprochement with Russia must be attempted without reintroducing the USA’s immovable negotiating line that Russia must first return Crimea to Ukrainian control.

      Interesting.

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      1. The Foreign Policy article is a reminder of what to expect if/when Joe Biden is elected president. The awful Obama years will be back.

        Europe will unite behind Joe and the the regime changers will be back in business- more efficiently than under Trump.

        We may even see a return of the same cast of characters.

        The media will stop reporting all the negatives and America will look great again.

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  47. “I wholeheartedly share your doubt, and I must thank you at least as enthusiastically because it is rich fertilizer for my next post.”

    You’re so welcome. I knew you’d craft something superlative out of it.

    “But Nuland went an entire, comprehensive, wide-ranging article without ever mentioning it, and implied that some sort of rapprochement with Russia must be attempted without reintroducing the USA’s immovable negotiating line that Russia must first return Crimea to Ukrainian control.

    Interesting.”

    Very.

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      1. Quite!

        I’m sure this is because Chechens (the men, at any rate) have this strict code of respect, and what is perceived as an insult must not go unpunished.

        They’d be using duelling pistols every other day if there were no law against doing so.

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        1. Well, probably not – that’d remind people of Pushkin, and he was a filthy Russian. A black one, no less.

          I can think of other groups that also demand ‘respect’ from everyone, and an inkling that one has been ‘disrespected’ is cause for immediate corrective action. I may have mentioned this before, but nobody is entitled to respect, except for military officers of a higher rank by military members of a lower rank, and that is respect for the rank rather than the person, and is based on an assumption that the holder of the rank has learned enough to satisfy all the requirements to hold it. Everyone is entitled to ‘courtesy’, but that is not ‘respect’, which must be earned to have any value at all. Groups who attack others because of a perception that they have been insulted and must avenge their honour are complaining about perceived rudeness, nothing more.

          I’m sure it has escaped nobody’s notice here, but the entire Black Lives Matter movement has been hijacked by special interests as a vehicle for regime change in the United States. The mindless violence and destruction and seizure of property is blamed on Antifa – who are somehow perceived by the American media and their police foes as ‘Communist’, but some of it is probably the police themselves, in much the same way that police officers (usually not in uniform) have been caught smashing windows and throwing stones and trying to tip protests into riots, so their colleagues can move in and start busting heads, because they can’t do that so long as the protest remains peaceful. If you haven’t read the list of demands made by those who consider themselves the leaders of the several blocks in the center of Seattle which are now an ‘autonomous and police-free zone’, it’s a treat. I don’t want to generalize too much, but it rapidly becomes clear that the only thing which will redress White Privilege is for it to be replaced by Black Privilege. And I would not rule out that whole manifesto being written by radical elements, either – anyone should know that the whites who currently and honestly support BLM are going to drop it like it’s hot as soon as they realize it means they could be turned out of their home so a black family can occupy it. It’s a lot like the extreme positions the NRA takes whenever there’s another school shooting – everybody, without exception, should carry a gun and then these lawless things wouldn’t happen. Teachers should be armed. They know society is going to reject that position angrily, but it will usually be satisfied by having ‘won a victory’ from the NRA over a position it knew perfectly well was not going to be accepted, and then things will go back to the way they were before, which was what the NRA wanted to achieve in the first place.

          Every crisis, every news item now is seized and spun and spat out again for psychological value to some special-interest group. The news almost never means what your first reaction suggests it does any more.

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    1. Oh, HE’s convinced that the attacker is a Russian assassin sent to kill him for his Chechen blogging activities. Well, that’s that, then. Case closed. No investigation required; got to make the front page, you know – time waits for no man.

      It reminds me for all the world of that Ukie halfwit who faked his own death, him what was going to enter Moscow riding on an Abrams tank.

      Like

    2. All nicely timed to segue after al-Beeb s’allah’s Salisbury Poisonings dramatic re-enactment documentary that dispenses with relevant detail. It’s nice to see Brutish media working hand in glove, all by accident and fully independently of course!

      Like

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