No Horizon So Far: the Future of Sino-Russian Commercial Aviation

Uncle Volodya says, “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”

“We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know – that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it.”

Beryl Markham, from “West with the Night”

“Well I can bend, but I won’t break;
‘Cause you ain’t got what I can’t take…”

Bryan Adams/Bonnie Raitt, from “Rock Steady”

Everyone still wants to talk about Navalny; the western press is full of blather and botheration about noble Navalny struggling against the monolithic and remorseless state; you would think nothing else was going on in the world. He’s not really very important, because – try as his western backers might to make a Robin Hood of him – most voting-age Russians regard him with disgust and boredom, and he likely could not get elected lifeguard in a car wash even if he could run for office, which he can’t because he is a convicted criminal. A convicted criminal who is likely to get a couple more convictions added on in the weeks to come, if you take my meaning. The Great Patriotic War, or what most of us know as the Second World War remains a seminal event in the minds of Russians who were alive when what is now the Russian Federation was the Soviet Union. As well it might – Soviet losses against Nazi Germany were more than 20 million people, far more than any other nation. Surviving veterans of that war are iconic even in a country which affords respect to military service in general, and considers it critical in such an unfriendly world. Navalny’s record of contempt for a Great Patriotic War veteran may have been his western-backed attempt to jolt Russians out of their reverence for the nation’s hard-won existence, and deprive them of a vital touchstone which welds the public into common sorrow and resolve on Victory Day. If so, it was a decisive failure, and Navalny’s rudeness and posturing have earned him widespread loathing in his own country; he is about as likely to get elected to any public office which requires the candidate to be voted in as he is to discover the secret of spinning straw into gold, like Rumpelstiltskin.

Yes, he is a jerk, my, my. But the thing about Navalny I wanted to mention – he and his portly roving operations manager, Leonid “Two-Tummies” Volkov – is their immediate reaction to Navalny’s arrest, which was foretold with about the same reliability as the sun rising in the east. Their “beam me up, Uncle Sam” cry for help was “more sanctions!!” Yes, let Navalny go, immediately and unconditionally, or the US-led west will impose further sanctions.

We’ve asked this question before – how’s that working out, do you think? Are western sanctions any closer to bringing Russia to its knees? Have they had any success – any success at all – at changing Russian behavior, in any way, to behavior the west regards with approval and a sense of accomplishment? Feel free to disagree with me, but I would have to say no. Is there anything to justify, do you think, the west’s faith in the potential of further sanctions to arrest or modify behaviors the west does not like? Again, I would have to say no. Why, then, does the west keep doing the same thing, and threatening more? I am at a loss to explain. If you were driving half-inch stakes into the ground for fence palings with a hammer, and every time you swung it you hit yourself in the balls with it, how many times would you try it before you gave it up? Until you were a eunuch?

Anyway, that’s enough of Navalny and his anarchic followers – suffice it to say that when Nadia Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot writes a fan song about your brave stand against the state, you have strayed far enough from statesmanship that you probably could not find your way back with a GPS. No, it was more the sanctions element I wanted to talk about than Navalny.

What Russia has learned from having sanctions leveled against it, and rolled over every six months like clockwork, is that it cannot depend on the west for any kind of commercial relationship. Europe continues to buy gas from Russia, and the USA stands on the sidelines and wrings its hands with anxiety but does not quite dare to forbid Europe’s purchase of Russian gas, because no other supplier has both the capacity and the infrastructure. But every other commercial commodity is carefully parsed for the degree to which Russia is dependent upon it, weighed against how much Europe would lose if it stopped selling it. Pretty much every time Europe has lost, as Uncle Sam squeezes it to cut off trade with Russia. The lesson, then, is that (a) Europe is spineless as a squid, and incapable of resisting American pressure, and (b) the USA is determined to push Russia off the map altogether, and will never relent so long as it has the power to continue trying. These two elements convince Russia that no agreement with the west is worth committing to paper, and that whatever Russia wants, it must make for itself or trade with alternative markets to purchase.

It has long been a pet theory of mine that Russia – and its growing partner in adversity, China – are well-placed to strike a significant commercial blow against the west in a field the west has become accustomed to dominating: civil aviation. And it is my belief that the partners could do so by the simple expedient of designing, producing and buying their own commercial aircraft.

I’m not the only one who thinks so, of which I was reminded by Gunnar Ulson’s piece for New Eastern Outlook and which I read at Tony Cartalucci’s Land Destroyer, entitled “Russian-Chinese Civilian Aviation Challenges Western Duopoly”.

“China’s Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), founded as recently as 2008 is developing a range of commercial airliners for use domestically and is attempting to promote its products abroad. While the latter is an intermediate to long-term prospect, domestically China already has the largest aviation market in the world with a growing demand for airliners projected well into the future.”

I’m sure most everyone is aware this will be a slow transition to develop – the future of western civil aviation is already tenuous, and is going to require heavy commitment of money for little short-term reward as the world struggles to get back to a place where we feel comfortable – I won’t say ‘safe’, as I am beginning to despise that word – traveling to other countries for vacation and taking to the skies in some of the most cramped public-transit conditions. Airlines cannot make money with only every third or fourth seat occupied while people remain terrified of COVID, and while they are not making money – are struggling for survival, in fact – no serious thought can be given to expansion.

Still, one day the west’s attention will turn once more to selling airliners, and when it does it will turn first to China, the biggest growth market in the world for airliners.

“Before the trade war, China was a big market for Boeing. In 2015 and 2016, China sales accounted for 13% and 11% of the company’s total revenue, respectively, according to its annual reports. In 2015, China was Boeing’s largest export market, and it was the third largest in 2016. But the company hasn’t sold any passenger planes to China in the past two years, Sherry Carbary, president of Boeing China, said late last year, according to the state-owned Shanghai Observer.”

At the end of 2019, China had more than 3,700 planes in its civil aviation fleet.

Looking forward, every domestically-produced civil heavy cargo or passenger aircraft China buys is one that is not bought from Boeing or Airbus. The COMAC C-919, a narrow-body jet designed to compete in the class of the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A-320, already has 400 orders, mostly by the state. American company Honeywell hopes to provide critical flight-control system components in a deal worth $15 Billion, and probably out of caution to not offend the builder, claims it is ‘going to be a great aircraft, very competitive with the aircraft that are flying right now’.

How quickly the advantage shifts to the purchaser – China, in this case – and it is easy to see COMAC purchasing flight-control systems from the United States so long as it is convenient to do so, but energetically developing its own against the day America will withhold them due to sanctions. The United States is very good at building a lot of things, but it is its belief that it will always be the sole nation capable of producing them that is its Achilles heel. Typically for the USA, it assumed until recently that the Chinese civil aviation market was its own for the asking, and grumbled a little at how hard it was going to have to work to keep up with Chinese demands.

“China will likely become the largest market in the world for new large civil aircraft (LCA), with global LCA manufacturers expecting to sell 100 LCA per year in the Chinese market for the next twenty years, or one every three to four days, at a total value ranging up to $350 billion.”

You’re probably wondering where Russia comes into this. The original reference cited describes a partnership between China (COMAC) and Russia (UAC) to build a long-range wide-body twinjet, the CR-929.

“Together, COMAC and UAC through the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation  (CRAIC), are developing a long-range wide-body twinjet airliner that would further enhance the competitiveness of both companies. Designated the CR929, the new aircraft is expected to make its first flight by 2025, before being introduced to the market in following years. 

The ability for the CR929 to compete head-to-head with Boeing and Airbus at the moment seems unlikely. What is more likely is that it, along with other offerings from both COMAC and UAC, will prove themselves first in the Russian and Chinese civilian aviation markets, before future developments are more widely accepted by others internationally. 

It is a long-term plan that takes into account not only the current geopolitical climate, but one that takes into consideration a future international order that has tilted considerably more toward the multipolar and away from the West’s current unipolar order, and an order that has produced and still jealously protects the Boeing-Airbus duopoly. ” 

Two things should stand out from those passages; one, the west stinks out loud at long-term planning, and two, a determination to rely on sanctions even when they don’t accomplish much of anything is teaching – may have already taught – the world that the west is an unreliable commercial partner who is constantly assessing what it sells to you to determine if its market share equates to leverage it might use to direct your behavior as a nation. Kind of odd behavior for a bloc which is forever blabbering about freedom, isn’t it? Here’s a little whiff of nostalgia for you, Uncle Sam, circa 2006; remember this?

“Since the demise of the BAe, Douglas, and Fokker brands, and in light of the inability of Commonwealth of Independent States’ manufacturers to sell their equipment to Chinese operators in sizeable numbers,Boeing and Airbus essentially share the new equipment market. Given China’s past relationships with Commonwealth of Independent States’ manufacturers, there is some room in China’s market for Russian-and Ukraine-built aircraft if they offer performance characteristics similar to Western aircraft, attractive pricing, and after sales support comparable to Western manufacturers. However, this window of opportunity is closing, as China’s airlines invest heavily in support of infrastructure (training, parts, tools,etc.) geared towards Western models.”

Is a hazy picture starting to emerge? Is it possible to see a little more clearly what a disastrous decision it was to push Russia and China into a defensive, commercial, energy and policy alliance? Is it more realistic now to imagine a short-term future in which Russia and China increasingly stop buying western-built airplanes altogether in favour of building up their civil-aviation fleets with domestically-produced designs? If those aircraft demonstrate a reliable safety record and decent performance characteristics, is it possible to imagine a long-term future in which price, but more importantly political detachment by a Sino-Russian manufacturer brings increasing pressure on western regulators to certify their designs for international operations?

I thought it might be.

431 thoughts on “No Horizon So Far: the Future of Sino-Russian Commercial Aviation

  1. Блумберг сообщил о новом списке санкций США по “Северному потоку — 2”
    07:28 19.02.2021 (обновлено: 07:56 19.02.2021)

    Bloomberg reports on new US sanctions list on Nord Stream-2
    07:28 19.02.2021 (updated: 07:56 19.02.2021)

    MOSCOW, 19 Feb – RIA Novosti. The United States will not include German companies in the list of sanctions related to the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, Bloomberg news agency reported, citing informed sources.

    It is noted that a report on Nord Stream-2 could be submitted to Congress as early as Friday. The new sanctions list only mentions a small number of organisations linked to Russia.

    According to the agency, President Joe Biden’s administration is thus seeking to halt the project and at the same time avoid confrontation with a close European ally.

    According to sources, the administration of former US leader Donald Trump was preparing to impose sanctions against German participants in the project and did not do so only because of lack of time.

    Nord Stream-2 AG CEO Matthias Warnig is among the candidates for the sanctions list.

    Nord Stream-2 involves the construction of two gas pipeline routes with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from the Russian coast through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The project is strongly opposed by the United States, which promotes its liquefied natural gas to the EU, as well as the Ukraine and several European countries.

    Washington imposed sanctions against the pipeline in December 2019. Russia has repeatedly stated that the project is commercial and beneficial to Europe. Berlin is in favour of completing the pipeline and rejects the unilateral extraterritorial US sanctions.

    But it’s a question of national security, see. The pipeline threatens USA security. And they must defend “their” democracy, which the Russian loathe to distraction, because they are not normal: they are not really humans in the accepted sense of the word …

    They are immune to very low temperatures for one thing, and are able to drink vodka as though it were water, whereas real humans use vodka to make cocktails.

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    1. notional security, i.e. not because it is necessary to the USA, but because can aka ‘Do Something’ however dumb and self-destructive.

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  2. Euractv: Estonia shows willingness to ratify border treaty with Russia
    https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/estonia-shows-willingness-to-ratify-border-treaty-with-russia/
    The new Estonian government and its foreign minister, Eva-Maria Liimets, have shown willingness to move towards formally solving the country’s border dispute with Russia and ensure it no longer remains the only EU country without a border treaty with Russia.
    ###

    ‘Move forward.’ WtAF does that mean? They’ll accept the current border or they are ‘opening negotiations’?

    It’s worth pointing out again that techincally Estonia should not have been allowed to join NATO or the EU as it still has a border disput. But as we all know, there are rules, and then there are rules.

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    1. It seems fairly evident from the overt hostility in the remainder of the article that Estonian representatives will approach such a discussion with the aim of not yielding an inch of what they regard as Estonian land. It was apparently not enough that they were allowed to dump their debt burden and simply walk away and begin again under a new master. A ‘deal’ will only be accepted if Russia accepts the Estonian position, and anything less will be rejected as typical Slavic intransigence. Interesting, though, because I did not know Estonia had an ongoing border dispute with Russia, or that it was active when Estonia was accepted into the EU. Otherwise I would have entered the same objection as you – that’s against the rules. So now I must find it worrying, because like the Kosovo issue we often discuss, it establishes precedent. There is technically nothing but a lingering wisp of common sense preventing the EU from accepting Georgia for full membership, border dispute notwithstanding, not to mention Ukraine. The latter is probably not under consideration because it is so large and so poor – bucking it up to anything like a European standard would drain the EU’s coffers, while it has lost its principle trade partner and there is no room in European trade calculations for Ukrainian-made goods. But Georgia might work, and bring NATO one small step closer.

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      1. I think Georgia and Ukraine are out of question. Estonia’s dispute is quite obscure:

        After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Estonia had hoped for the return of more than 2,000 square kilometers of territory annexed by Russia after World War II in 1945. The annexed land had been within the borders Estonia and Russia agreed on in the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty. However, the Boris Yeltsin government disavowed any responsibility for acts committed by the Soviet Union.

        It’s similar to Kaliningrad: an outcome of WWII not questioned by anyone.

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  3. I read somewhere recently (Lavrov perhaps), that Russia need to take action against those who interfere in Russian elections! I’m sure there’ll be plenty of squealing from the usual suspects, but if interferring in elections is almost considered (sic) an act of war, then Russia’s concerns cannot be so easily dismissed either.

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  4. Наша героическая портретная галерея

    Our heroic portrait gallery

    What an imposing man Stepan Andreevich was in his youth! In this now famous hand painted photograph from 1929 or 1930 he is not just some dickhead, but a totally sad member of the Plast detachment “Chervona Kalyna”*! What a thoughtful face! What a look! What a living embodiment of the Ukrainian spirit.

    Hang it on your wall. Let him greet you with that look in the morning.

    *пластун куреня Червона Калина

    The youth organization “Plast” is the National Scout Organization of the Ukraine” — ME.

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  5. From Dozhd, where else? . . .

    «Я скоро, люди»: группа «Элизиум» записала песню со словами Навального о жизни в СИЗО
    19 February, 19:28

    “I’m coming soon, people”: “Elysium” has recorded a song with Navalny’s lyrics about life in pre-trial detention
    19 February, 19:28

    The rock band “Elysium” has recorded a song “Hello, this is Navalny”, the lyrics of which having been a post by oppositionist Aleksey Navalny about life in a pre-trial detention centre. In their YouTube channel, the musicians thanked Navalny “for his courage and bravery”, as well as for the “excellent lyrics” for the composition.

    Prison, as you know, is in the head. And if I think hard enough, it is clear that I am not in prison, but on a space journey. Judge for yourself. I have a simple, spartan-looking cabin — an iron bed, a table and a bedside table. A spaceship is not a place for luxury. The door to my cabin only opens from the control centre meaning a voice coming from the wall over the intercom says, “Three-zero-two, prepare to be decontaminated. And I say: Yeah, okay, in 10 minutes. I’ll just finish my tea . . .

    Navalny’s words are repeated in the song.

    In the song chorus, the lyrics of the opposition leader are used in part: “Hi, this is Navalny. I’m doing all right. In a single cabin, warm and cozy. I’m coming soon, people”.

    The song concludes with Navalny’s words about when his “space voyage” will end. “The flight could be much longer because of a navigational error. An accidental asteroid could destroy the ship and you’d be killed. But after all, help often comes too. A friendly signal. A hyperspace tunnel: “pop!” and you’re there. You embrace your family and friends in the beautiful new world”, reads the musician.

    Kreakles! Don’t you just love ’em?

    All hail the liar, bullshitter, foreign agent Saint Aleksey the Martyr!

    This is a better song about a space trip. Possibly provided inspiration to St. Aleksey:

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    1. What a delusional dreaming tit. Perhaps he fancies himself as Ivan ‘One Day at a Time’ Denisovich. I propose an elegant solution – fulfill Saint Alexey’s dream. Build him a nice little space capsule with technology that will allow the re-use of breathable air through CO2 scrubbing or whatever they use these days, a lifetime (remaining) supply of dry rations and one of those dandy filters that allows you to make drinkable water from your own urine, and strap him to the nose of an RD-180 and put him into geosynchronous orbit. No comms gear, though – he will already have left a deathless legend and there is no need of hearing his sardonic spew every time he passes over.

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      1. The Thoughts of St. Aleksey the Martyr,

        Part I; Thought I:

        Prison, as you know, is in the head.

        You’ve not done any bird yet, arsehole!

        Tell us what you think in just over 3 year’s time — hopefully after much longer than that.

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        1. Aleksey the Philosopher King. The same Aleksey, apparently, who was ‘trained as a lawyer’, but cannot fashion a legal argument and must resort to burlesque to plead his case. He did actually have defense lawyers, but you’d never know it. If he’s a great a philosopher as he is a lawyer, perhaps they can find room for a guest spot for him on Sesame Street. When he gets out, of course.

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  6. Boeing may by in a fight for its life per the link below. A 300+ plane order from Southest airlines is at stake with Airbus have the better offer that Boeing. Per the linked video, if Boeing is to win the order, the required discount could make the deal a money loser and Boeing can not afford to lose money. I suspect that if such were to happen then the US government would be compelled to intervene to save Boeing’s commercial aircraft division

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    1. It does indeed look like Maximus has nailed the operative issue – how much can Boeing afford to lose? Because there is no way it can make money from this deal. But the consequence of passing on it and having it snapped up by Airbus is losing a customer who has maintained an all-Boeing fleet since Day One. It looks like Boeing is screwed hard either way. But as I just posted elsewhere in another comment forum, the USA’s debt load will pass its GDP this year, for the first time since the Second World War. The only thing that makes a fiat currency worth anything is the faith that if everyone in the USA with a paper dollar demanded a dollar’s worth of value in exchange for it, even all at the same time, the government could make good on its promise. It plainly cannot do that now that spending has outpaced revenue, and continues to gain, even as special interests everywhere cry “Stimulus!! Stimulus!!” The government is frantically printing dollars which are just rectangles of paper. There is no money to bail out Boeing. But it is too big to fail. What to do?

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      1. It looks like the Ryanair Gambit to me. Hard negotiating to get a better deal.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwest_Airlines#Fleet

        Southwest Airlines has operated only Boeing 737 jetliners, except for 1979 to 1980 and 1983 to 1985 when it leased and operated a few Boeing 727-200s.[12] Southwest is the largest operator of the Boeing 737 worldwide, with 734 in its fleet.[1]

        In October 2020, it was reported that Southwest was considering the Airbus A220 as an alternative to the MAX 7 to replace its 737-700s, with deliveries from 2025. The company expects to make a decision in 2021 after evaluating whether the economic advantages of the A220 are sufficient to offset the efficiencies of an all-Boeing fleet
        ####

        It’s not just the aircraft price, but maintenance, training etc. As we know, even the proposed Airbus A220 is not related to any other Airbus product in anything but name (and engine variation?) previously being Bombardier, so buying it will not give South West the cross-training/flight/low-cost benefits of buying a traditional A320/30/50+ fleet.

        Boing still has the large Ryanair $9b 75 aircraft order for the MAX from December 2020 which is a significant vote of confidence.

        https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/03/ryanair-agrees-to-buy-75-boeing-737-max-jets-in-boost-for-the-planemaker.html

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      2. Unlike post WW II where the the world was at feet of the US (excluding USSR of course), today’s economic landscape shows the US slipping behind China and the dollar becoming increasingly shaky. There is no recovery possible. The only real question is how disruptive the coming crash will be to US society. Hints such as the crackdown on social media, the Covid measures aimed to distract attention and misdirect fear suggest our fearless leaders expect something awful. So do I.

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    1. It looks as if the Global Hawk drone is doing much of the heavy lifting, and many of these flights are probes crafted to draw a response from Russian air defenses, in the hope of recording search/acquisition characteristics of its sensors, so the USA can discover ways to get past it without being blown out of the air.

      https://www.globaldefensecorp.com/2020/04/06/the-usaf-global-hawk-is-scanning-frequency-of-gravestone-radar-of-s-400-triumf/

      Just something Air Forces have to do, I guess, although in the end it is probably somewhat pointless. The Soviet Union sold military equipment to a variety of trusted allies, but the export versions always lacked a few of the bells and whistles of the national-defense variant, and both versions had radar modes which were designated for wartime use only – read, never ever radiate in this mode unless you are actively defending yourself against a detected attack. I am pretty confident the Russian Federation is no different in that regard. You would probably have to search a pretty long time to find any American pilot so confident that his team had devised a work-around that made Russian air defenses helpless against American attack that he/she would be eager to test out the theory.

      Besides, the Grave Stone radar (aptly named; that must be what they call ‘dark humor’) uses a phased array, which means it sweeps a range of transmission frequencies on a pulse-to-pulse basis; every time it radiates a pulse it is on a different frequency, so the only way to effectively and confidently jam it is with a barrage jammer that covers the entire frequency range of which it is capable. The power requirements for such a jammer to operate from a safe distance would be something like NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain.

      https://www.radartutorial.eu/19.kartei/06.missile/karte006.en.html

      It likely is also capable of random frequency hopping, and would include all the mundane functions we are accustomed to such as Coast, where if it detects a jammer trying to break lock, it immediately starts a predictive track which forecasts where the aircraft would be if it did not change course or altitude, even if it can’t see it. It can also utilize passive tracking, which does not emit anything and cannot be jammed. In that tracking technique it would probably not be able to reach its maximum effective range of 400 km, though, which can be achieved with the most up-to-date missile variant. And it can see and strike 30 km up, so not much can get out of its reach by flying over it. Just getting a feel for how its radar operates is not good enough to defeat it, and the conundrum is that you never know how effective a work-around is until you test it. Once you do, it isn’t a secret any more, and the other side works to devise a modification which will surprise you when you try it. And so on.

      Scrolling through information I was moved to research by your comment revealed an interesting facet of drone employment – the USAF doesn’t like the Global Hawk much, and it is the baby mostly of the politicians and the gearheads. The USAF has been trying to get rid of it, because procurement wants it to buy more and to use them to replace its aging Dragon Lady aircraft, the U2’s.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastienroblin/2020/04/20/the-air-force-wants-to-cut-surveillance-drones-a-think-tank-argues-thats-a-mistake/?sh=39e74f84e69f

      The Air Force plans in its 2021 budget to retire 24 of its 35 Global Hawks. But privately senior officers have all but given up on getting rid of it. They don’t like it for a variety of reasons, one of which has almost certainly to do with the fact that they are pilotless, and the Air Force is made up of pilots. They don’t mention that reason, though, and they have plenty of other good ones.

      “The Air Force’s move away from these two types is because both can be easily detected and destroyed by surface-to-air missile systems fielded by a state-level opponents. This reality was underscored in the summer of 2019 when Iran shot down an RQ-4N drone over the Persian Gulf with domestically built missiles.

      Because such large drones are too expensive to be considered expendable, this means they are considered to be of limited use in a war with China or Russia.”

      Another huh-yooge disadvantage of drones is that they are reliant on their data link with their remote operator, via which all their flight commands are transmitted; if you can interrupt that link, even for a minute or two, many drones have a default mode which causes them to land themselves as expeditiously and safely as possible for later recovery, to prevent being smashed to bits in a crash. My memory is a little hazy on specifics, but I believe that’s how Iran was able to capture an American drone virtually undamaged. That was a Boeing model, the Scan Eagle.

      https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/iran-shows-us-drone-as-proof-of-capture-as-pentagon-issues-denial/article5952249/

      The Air Force is on more solid ground with its defense of the U2 as able to mount more powerful sensors and operate then concurrently, because it can generate more power than a drone like Global Hawk, which must always mind its girlish figure because extra weight costs propellant, and its metier is lengthy loitering over the target.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2014/02/20/u-2-vs-global-hawk-why-drones-arent-the-answer-to-every-military-need/?sh=48158f921627

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      1. Many thanks for that great response, Mark.

        I did think that most of the flights were trolling operations designed to gauge responses but had no idea of the range of detection measures being deployed.

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  7. 20.02.2021, 06:36
    Госдеп США не предложил новых санкций против «Северного потока-2»

    20.02.2021, 06:36
    US State Department proposes no new sanctions against Nord Stream-2

    The US State Department has handed over to Congress a list of entities subject to sanctions on Nord Stream-2. Only the Russian vessel “Fortuna” and its owner, the company KVT-Rus, made it onto the list, said House Foreign Affairs Committee member Michael McCaul. He recalled that the restrictions imposed by former US President Donald Trump’s administration were already in place against them.

    “Simply put, today’s sanctions are completely inadequate. The intentions of Congress are clear and cannot be ignored: the binding injunctions passed with bipartisan support in the last two defence budgets are designed to stop the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline“, Mr McCaul said in a statement posted on Twitter. He noted that imposing sanctions on Fortuna and KVT-Rus did not meet that intent.

    On 14 February, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak said that the Nord Stream-2 pipeline is 95% complete. He said the project was fully compliant with European legislation, and the observed attempts to hinder it were non-market competition methods.

    In January, the State Department warned European companies against sanctions over Nord Stream 2. Prior to that, the US Senate voted to pass the 2021 fiscal year defence budget, which would involve another extension of sanctions.

    My stress.

    Russia’s pipeline?

    Not a joint venture with other European countries but simply a sly Russian plot to hold free, Western Europe in its undemocratic thrall?

    Yea, verily! America must defend democracy world wide, for any threat to democracy (“our” democracy) is a threat to the national security of the United States.

    I’m sick of hearing such shit — endlessly, all my cognitive life.

    I’m buggering off to the country, where, for a short while, I shall be isolated from hearing and reading of such claptrap.

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  8. Again, block letters not closed correctly.

    My stress should have been:

    the last two defence budgets are designed to stop the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline

    and not the rest of the article.

    And it bugs me how Microsoft changes the orientation of the quotation marks if I do not use the American system of placing punctuation before the closing the quotation mark, namely not writing:

    “What a load of crap,” he said, “which I hear from the US congress each day.”

    whereas I prefer to use logical punctuation thus:

    “What a load of crap”, he said, “which I hear from the US congress each day”.

    I suppose I could remedy this in Microsoft Word,

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      1. Shit! And all these years I’ve been writing “Scottish assembly”!

        Seriously, though, it bugs me that there’s no edit feature here, for almost invariably, as soon as I hit the “send” order, I spot a typo.

        And I did see that lower case “c” typo, but the deed had been done.

        However, if there were an edit feature on a forum such as this, some persons might abuse it and make retrograde edits to back up a dubious argument.

        I reckon the “Venezuelan” would have done that.

        Like

  9. Фальшивый Навальный для зомбомасс

    A Fake Navalny for the Zombie Masses
    February 20th, 11:59

    About alleged falsifications, photoshopping etc. undertaken by Team Navalny/the foreign agent’s curators, with evidence proffered

    By the time signature, must have been published in Siberia, but back checking, I have discovered that it was first blogged on 13th February.

    Lengthy article in Russian. Use machine translator if necessary.

    Like

  10. Diverting for just a moment, if I may, to the daily idiot show known as the ‘global pandemic’, I imagine most of you have heard the latest advice on masking – wear two. Yes, incredible as it may sound, ‘public health experts’ are now recommending people wear two masks, a disposable one covered by a non-medical cloth mask to pull in those embarrassing tucks over the cheeks, and US Federal Court buildings in some districts have adopted this as the minimum safe standard.

    https://anti-empire.com/two-masks-now-required-to-enter-manhattan-federal-court-buildings/

    In light of that special moment in human mental health, I thought it would be instructive to collect the changing positions of the world’s foremost authority on the novel coronavirus and protection, Doctor Anthony Fauci, in one place for everyone’s edification.

    By now everyone is conversant with one of his earliest positions on masking, from a 60 Minutes interview which aired in March 2020, just as the ‘pandemic’ was starting to flex its muscles.

    In it, the good doctor was unequivocal that while it was perfectly all right for 85%, 95% of Asians in those yellow countries on the other side of the world to wear a mask while out in the streets, there was no reason at all Americans should mimic this behavior – while he was ‘not against it, it’s fine’, there was no reason for healthy Americans not showing symptoms to wear face masks. Face masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, and pretty much nobody else needed them.

    Now that the production of masks has ramped up like they’re building Liberty Ships, of course ‘Pinocchio’ Fauci agrees that wearing two masks is “just common sense”. Thank God he’s around to think for us.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/25/dr-fauci-double-mask-during-covid-makes-common-sense-more-effective.html

    Which should just leave you shaking your head in bewilderment at the mercurial jinks and course changes of this fucking assrocket, as he almost immediately acknowledged that no evidence whatsoever supported the wearing of two masks.

    “There are many people who feel, ‘You know, if you really want to have an extra little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on.’ There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference. And that’s the reason why the CDC has not changed the recommendations.”

    https://thewashingtonstandard.com/liar-liar-pants-on-fire-fauci-tells-public-to-wear-2-masks-immediately-says-no-evidence-it-helps/

    Tune in next Thursday, when Doctor Fauci tackles bicycle design; program highlights – “You don’t need any wheels”…”for maximum stability, four wheels is the optimum”…”Many people have opted for eight wheels”…

    And people are still eager to be led down the garden path by this lunatic, and others like him.

    Like

    1. Next up on Derange-O-Vision:

      The 3-Condom Way To Better Sex

      The mask thing reminds me of the compliance technique used by one of the Chinese Emperors who made it compulsory for men to wear their hair in a pigtail.

      Like

  11. More of the same on another blog, same blogger:

    Фотоцирк, над которым и ёжики в садике смеются. Или как делают историю в XXI веке

    A photo circus, at which the hedgehogs in a kindergarten laugh at. Or how history is made in the 21st century

    gorojanin_iz_b wrote in 911tm
    February 20th, 10:49

    [Again, time signature indicates this below was posted in the east: it is now 10:13 in Moscow —ME]

    Since September 15, the social networks have been all ears owing to it having been posted that Navalny had come out of his coma.

    I say right away: I look at the facts, but hysteria, political fights and any shades of belief, such as images of actors who look like Navalny, do not interest me. And the facts are such that there has not been a single photo in the hospital, and this photo [below] is a silly photoshop.

    The faces of Navalny and his wife are illuminated in different ways: Yulia’s left cheek and cheekbone are illuminated; Navalny’s left half of his face is completely in shadow, which cannot be so with a common light source on the left. Yulia’s right cheek and cheekbone are also lit, although they should be in the shadow of Navalny’s face, which is a few centimetres closer to the lens; their faces are pressed cheekbone to the temple.

    With a light source on the left behind the lens giving such a shadow on Navalny’s face, Navalny’s left shoulder cannot be illuminated, it must be in the shadow of his head.

    Let’s keep quiet about the incredible bend of Julia’s neck: it is hardly possible to lift your head at such an angle without a fracture of the cervical vertebrae . .

    And on the blog goes on, with further photos and accusations of their fakery.

    I should add that in the Russian blogosphere, these very same accusations started as soon as these photos appeared, but it seems that this and the previous blog are the result of some blogger’s work in compiling all these accusations of photo fakery.

    Like


  12. One of Navalny’s apostles praying (I think) outside the court where the Bullshitting “martyr, liar and foreign agent will be sent down today.

    Like

  13. Here we go — the several hours of reckoning:

    10:27
    Navalny’s lawyer Mikhailova reads out the materials of the case, which were considered by the European Court. What the meaning of this is not entirely clear if the updated Constitution of Russia provides for the rule of law in our country over international ones.

    10:33
    Judge Dmitry Balashov to Mikhailova: to whom have you read all this?

    Mikhailova: to the court of the Russian Federation.

    Navalny: We respect the decision of the European Court.

    Prosecutor Ekaterina Frolova: I ask you to consider the appeal on the merits of the case.

    The judge proceeded to consider the case.

    10:45
    Navalny calls himself an “ideal person” who did not hide, and the investigation he compares to the tick-tock of a clock, which says “that’s it already, that’s it already”. He says that had not managed to tell them that he was still recovering and rehabilitating.

    Navalny: How was I hiding, if I came home immediately? How was that possible?

    10:55
    The lawyers keep on repeating the expression “The European Court”, but this magic word does not work for the prosecutor Ekaterina Frolova.

    Frolova: Navalny systematically violated the duties assigned to him according to the suspended sentence. Navalny did not appear at the inspection, although in the submitted medical documents Navalny was no longer in a medical facility and was not did not receiving treatment. His actual location after treatment in Germany has not been established.

    11:04
    Navalny’s lawyer Kobzev believes that the arrest of his client cannot be allowed, and the decision of the Simonovsky court must be cancelled.

    11:07
    Prosecutor Frolova reminded the judge that Navalny had violated the probationary period more than 50 times, hiding from the inspection for more than 30 days.

    “Any of these violations could have resulted in the replacement of the suspended sentence with a real one”, the prosecutor said.

    11:11
    Prosecutor: it was not a prison inspector who was supposed to look for the convicted person, but the convicted person was supposed to visit the inspectorate at the time set by an inspector. Instead, he walked with his son in Berlin, went to Dresden, walked in the woods with his wife, and rested at a waterfall in a resort. Where exactly was the inspector supposed to look for him?

    11:11
    They have began to get ready video cameras in court – apparently for filming the announcement of the final decision on the appeal to change Navalny’s suspended sentence to a real one.

    11:17
    Navalny in his last word to the judge: Let’s talk about God. I’m a believer . . .

    For crying out loud!

    Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilatus!!!!!

    Are his lawyers really so dumb?? ?

    ECHR, he was still recuperating in Germany blah, blah, blah . . .

    Guaranteed: his advocate’s final word:

    We do not recognize the authority of this court! This is a political trial!

    Like

    1. Here you are, would be bullshitting Messiah and “believer”, take a word out of Jesus Christ’s book, his last before he died on the cross:

      My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?

      Your god being your uncle Sam.

      Like

  14. And while he’s talking to his god, he should thank what he believes to be his creator for not having made him a US citizen, for if he had been such and had done what he has been doung in Russia, namely acting as an agent of a foreign power so as to cause political instability and the overthrow of the government, not to mention his request made to an assembly of other foreign powers that economic sanctions be imposed against his mother country, he would have notched up 50 years or more in a United States penitentiary.

    Like

  15. 11:17
    Navalny in his last word to the judge: Let’s talk about God. I’m a believer . . .

    11;18
    Judge to Navalny: Fuck off! I’m an atheist.

    Like

  16. 20.02.2021, 12:02
    Суд оставил в силе решение о замене условного срока Навальному на реальный

    20.02.2021, 12:02
    Court upholds decision to replace Navalny’s suspended sentence with a real one

    The Moscow City Court has upheld an appeal against a suspended sentence imposed on oppositionist Aleksey Navalny in the Yves Rocher case. An off-site session was held in the Babushkinsky court building. At the request of the defence, Navalny was given an additional 1.5 months of house arrest credit towards his total term of imprisonment. Taking into account the time served, the opposition activist will spend 2.5 years in penal colony.

    “Having heard the views of the parties, the court has decided to change the decision of the first instance: to count the time spent under house arrest from 30 December 2014 to 18 February 2015 as part of the sentence, to leave the rest of the decision of the Simonovskiy court unchanged and the appeal of Navalny’s defence without satisfaction”, judge Dmitriy Balashov read out the decision.

    Navalny’s defence is planning to file an appeal against the court ruling. The opposition leader’s lawyers do not rule out that he may be transferred to a penal colony as early as today.

    In his final statement, the opposition leader said: “How do I make my final statement! This trial is now over. There will be another one. And I shall have my last word there as well. If someone decides to publish my last words, it would make a thick book”. He went on to mention the investigation into the “palace” in Gelendzhik, spoke about his faith in God and cited the book “Harry Potter”, the cartoon “Rick and Morty” and the movie “Brother”. He also said that his guards were forbidden to talk to him and spoke about the letters he received in the remand centre.

    We shall remind you that on 2 February, the Simonovskiy District Court in an off-site hearing at the Moscow City Court changed Alexei Navalny’s suspended sentence in the “Yves Rocher” case to a real one. On February 17, the ECHR asked the Russian authorities to release the politician as part of the interim measures. The Russian Ministry of Justice described the demand as knowingly impossible to fulfil.

    A hearing in the defamation case against the veteran will also take place today. It is scheduled to start at 2:30pm, but may be delayed if the first hearing is not over.

    Get to fuck out of here Navalny and enjoy your time during your 30-month-long journey into the cosmos!

    Like

    1. The bullshitting toe-rag’s last words to the court were:

      “Russia should be rich and happy”.

      Right!

      So that’s why he asked the EU to impose sanctions against Russian businesses and businesspeople so as to prevent construction of NS2.

      Figures!

      Like

  17. BBC quick off the draw:

    Alexei Navalny: Putin critic loses appeal against jailing
    34 minutes ago

    And they get it wrong an’ all:

    But the judge rejected his case and he will return to the penal colony where he is serving his time. The judge did, though, cut his six weeks off the nearly three-year sentence imposed.

    Return to the penal colony?

    He might well be going a penal colony now (called a Gulag in the Russophobe trade, but an “open prison” in the UK), but up to when the judge overruled his appeal against his receiving a custodial sentence, he had been sitting in his space capsule in a remand prison in central Moscow, situated on Sailor’s Silence Street.

    Funny name for a street, isn’t it?

    Like

    1. And 2 years and 6 months is not, in my book, “nearly 3 years”, as the BBC says.

      But “nearly 3 years” sounds much worse than 30 months.

      Like

  18. February 20 2021, 12:00
    Последнее Слово Навального: лицемерие якобы “верующего” и 3.5 года тюрьмы

    Navalny’s Last Word: Hypocrisy of an alleged “believer” and 3.5 years in jail

    People are already writing about Navalny’s speech where he called himself a believer: “Alyosha has decided to play the fool”. But Navalny is changing. Today in court, for example, he suddenly revealed that he is a strong “believer”. With an exceptionally sneering look. And he got 3.5 years in prison, not suspended, but for real. Now with the time spent in pre-trial detention and under house arrest, Navalny has about 2 years and 5 months left to serve. But soon (today) another year will be added for the veteran case, giving a total of 3.5 years.

    This change in him is total: he used to call himself an “atheist”. The ECHR demanded that Navalny be freed, but Strasbourg can no longer decide anything after the amendments to the Constitution, so he’ll do 10 or even 15 years. More will be added. Lyosha used to be a nationalist, he used to go to Russian marches, he used to blurt out “khokhly” [insulting term for Yukietards — ME] online. Then he reported that he had spent his childhood in the Ukraine, was a bit “Ukrainian” and felt partly Ukrainian. He condemned Georgia for attacking South Ossetia — calling Georgians “rodents”. Then he spoke about Russia’s aggression against Georgia. He was an atheist, then suddenly became a believer. It remains to be seen whether he is changing his views on his own. Or is his behaviour corrected from the outside? In the US, you know, it is customary for politicians to talk about how religious they are. The most atheistic US president was Trump. But he too talked about God who helped him with business and will help make America Great again. Looks like Navalny is just a fool.


    Churchillian Navalny: “This is not the end; this is not the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning“? Putin might well be dead and buried when you’ve done your time, sucker, in the service of the USA.

    In general, in his last words to the court, Navalny he spoke about God — and showed sheer hypocrisy:

    “I’ll turn the handle of pathos to the maximum and talk with you about God. I am a believer, this will be a reason for ridicule in FBK, as there are atheists there. I was with them too, but then I began to believe, and it became easier. It is not always easy to follow the Bible, but I try. Perhaps that is why it is easier for me than for everyone else in Russia to engage in politics”.

    The oppositionist reads out a quote from St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be sated”. In his opinion, this is the most popular of political slogans.

    Let’s start with the fact that there are few atheists in the Office [one of many slang terms for KGB/FSB — ME] otherwise there would not numerous cases of insulting believers. Yes, and the president himself prays in churches and on major church holidays — always in a Church — and travels to holy places, and he has a confessor. And our president, as you know, is an FSB lieutenant colonel. And yes, he partly oversees the FSB. Of course, there are no theology lessons in a secular institution of higher learning that trains employees of the department. But this is an oversight, I guess. If you need them, they would help you professionally. Different work lies ahead.

    Finally, Navalny showed that he was not a believer, but a liar. “What is power? Power is in truth! For whomsoever has the truth, then will he win! ” In general, he quotes the [film director of “Brother” and “Brother 2”] Balabanov’s hero — only he doesn’t look like him at all — Danila Bagrov, who loved his motherland. Remember: “I found out that I have a huge family: every path and forest, every ear of wheat in a field, every river, the blue sky — it’s all mine, it’s my Motherland! I love everybody in the world!” Navalny didn’t forget to mention Harry Potter either. He compared himself to Harry and mentioned Voldemort, whom he fights. All in all, working hard for a young audience. A believer would say God has the power. And God knows best who’s right and who’s wrong. And finally he added: “His will be done, not mine”.

    Some people do not sympathize with Navalny whatsoever. All over the Internet there are posted numerous Navalny memes. For the most part, they mock the future convict, which is also not good. Even protesters say: “I did not come out onto the street for Navalny, but for another reason.” And now this man has to stay in prison for a very long time. He listened to the wrong people and believed in the plans they voiced — that someday an ambitious boy from a small village could become the president of Russia. No, he couldn’t. You can’t sell your homeland. But no one will shoot him, as Okhlobystin [Russian Orthodox priest, actor, director and screenwriter; by his own choice, he is temporarily suspended as priest from the ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church; noted homophobe — ME] suggests. 15 years for Treason to the Motherland, and then they’ll add more if necessary. And he is no Nelson Mandella, of course, but rather the “Man in the Iron Mask”, though not royalty, imprisoned for eternity out of his own stupidity.

    Like

      1. 12:39
        At the next session, Navalny will have the last word on the case of libel against veteran Ignat Artemenko. If judge Vera Akimova finds Navalny guilty, he faces being fined of 950 thousand rubles.

        14:05
        Navalny read out an extract from Ignat Artemenko’s social services. According to Navalny, Artemenko received financial assistance seven times in 4 years for a total amount of 11 thousand rubles.

        14:12
        Navalny lumped together veterans, the prosecutor’s office, Russian parties and the Tsapok gang. And now he is talking about looking at reports of himself in the pre-trial detention centre.

        14:16
        Navalny: You will all burn in hell, but you are young people: there will still be time to have you judged in a regular court.

        Read on http://WWW.KP.RU: https://www.kp.ru/daily/27243/4370606/

        Now don’t you folks go forget now — he’s a lawyer.

        Like

    1. “Perhaps that is why it is easier for me than for everyone else in Russia to engage in politics”.

      Mmm…perhaps. I was thinking it was maybe because you are lazier than everyone else in Russia, and politics looks like easy money for no work as long as you can keep getting re-elected. Democracy, innit?

      Like

  19. Navalyny’s handlers kept in him in a never-ending rebellious adolescence state of development to keep his appeal to Russian youth which was identified as the most accessible and vulnerable demographic group in the Russia population.

    He will not make a good martyr nor will his followers view him as such. Having the West offing him in prison through some means will not be worth the effort His followers will move on to another form of rebellion (e.g. wearing tattered cloths) or grow up. End of story. That’s my take.

    Like

    1. The Western MSM will continue to use Navalny as an example of Putin’s brutal regime but with decreasing enthusiasm as its effect diminishes.

      Like

  20. The invisible hand gave its middle finger to the residents of Texas. For those not blacked out in the collapse of the grid many saw the electric rates increases several hundred-fold:

    But the company has argued that PUCT’s order is to blame for the surge [price surge-PO] , insisting it “changed the rules” and kept costs “300x higher than the normal wholesale price,” even after the power grid regained sufficient capacity to return to normal levels.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/516115-texas-power-bills-storm/

    For example,

    Texas resident Ty Williams told a local ABC affiliate that while he typically pays a combined $660 each month for his home, guest house and office, he’s been asked to shell out a shocking $17,000 this time around – and that’s just for the first half of February.

    It is unclear if all customers were hit with similar charges but it is not amazing how disasters, natural or man-made, are legally and ruthlessly exploited by our fellow (corporate) citizens?

    Like

  21. In followup to Jen’s comments about efforts to raise Romanian population in the 1980’s, I asked my Romanian wife about her knowledge on this topic. She said that the government provided extremely generous subsidies for any woman (married or not) who had three or more children to the point where she no longer needed to work. The Roma population in particular took full advantage of this opportunity.

    A woman was typically given one year of maternity leave. Day care for children was virtually absent during this era.

    A woman who reached the age of 27 without giving birth was hit with a 25% tax.

    I suspect that the shocking state of large number of Romanian children occurred after subsidies were either ended or were greatly reduced in the 90’s. Hey, it’s just market forces.

    Like

    1. My understanding of the Ceausescu govt’s population growth policy was that it coincided with gradual deindustrialisation in the country and with what we’d now call austerity measures being imposed on the Romanian public over the 1980s. For some reason Ceausescu was anxious not to allow Romania to be indebted to the IMF or to Moscow. (This may have had something to do with how he tried to play the West and Moscow off against each other.) This meant among other things that state industrial assets were sold off to earn money for essential imports and to support essential or basic social services. This also meant jobs in industry being lost with insufficient alternate employment, at a level where the same skills and knowledge could be used, to replace them. Women workers would have been the first people put out of employment during this deindustrialisation phase and the pro-natal policy with the childcare subsidies would have been both encouragement and pressure on them. During the 1960s and 1970s, Romania did have state-supported industry including iron and steel making but by the end of 1989, when the Ceausescu govt was overthrown, this had all gone.

      Back in the 1990s I bought a couple of CDs of music made by an avant-garde musician working in Romania in the 1980s. All the instruments he used (I forget his name now but he was well known outside Romania and his wife (Maria something?) was a musician and composer as well) and the studio recording equipment used as well had been imported before the 1970s. Romanian musicians in the 1980s had had no access to synthesisers or other music and studio recording technology, at a time when these technologies were undergoing very rapid development. So the avantgarde music that was coming out of Romania then was quite distinct, being performed entirely on old acoustic or orchestral instruments – and probably now sells for heaps of money on the secondhand market!

      I have seen some online sources on the pro-natal policy and they do mention that single women (and also single men) were hit with income tax of up to 20% of their incomes. Childless women were also required to undergo monthly gynecological examinations. In spite of the financial pressure and the intrusive measures, population growth in Romania in the 1980s didn’t spike much at all.

      Like

      1. I finally found the Romanian composer’s name I had forgotten: he is Iancu Dumitrescu and his wife was Ana-Maria Avram. Dumitrescu (born 1944) is still alive but his wife died in 2017 in her mid-50s.

        Like

  22. MoA sums up the Biden “presidency”:

    The No Change Presidency

    After a month as president Joe Biden has already broken several major campaign promises.

    There will be:

    No $2,000 checks.
    No minimum wage rises.
    No student debt forgiveness.
    No halting of deportations.
    No end of the war on Yemen.
    No return to the JCPOA.

    As Alan MacLeod summarizes:

    Biden began his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in June 2019 at a Manhattan hotel, telling wealthy donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his presidency. After one month in office, it appears as if that is one campaign promise he is likely to keep.

    The U.S. will also continue its wars on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

    We are left to guess where, not if, Biden will start another one.

    Knock me over with a feather, I am so shocked.

    Like

  23. al-Beeb s’Allah: Bag packed but Russian activist avoids jail
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56096694

    Anastasia Shevchenko spent the past week packing a bag for prison and recording voice messages for her children to listen to in case she was jailed. The prosecutor had requested five years behind bars for the single mother of two, in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

    …The defence team also argued that the Open Russia opposition movement Ms Shevchenko belonged to, which is legal, has no formal ties to a very similarly named organisation based in Britain which was founded by the Kremlin critic and tycoon-in-exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky…
    ####

    tycoon-in-exile

    Rainsford at her most shameless. F/k. Off.

    ‘The defence team argued that the Austrian Nazi Party has nothing to do with the German Nazi party.’ That’s a good one. Try it at home and see how far that gets you in front of the judge.

    The rebranding of Mikhail Khodokovsky in to a ‘just nice guy’ by the BBC continues…

    Like

    1. Khodorkovsky started his criminal activities as a student in the USSR at a time when the term бизнесмен [beeznyesmyen — “businessman”] was very much used as a pejorative.

      He was and remains a criminal smartarse. However, unlike the Bullshitter, he really is a smartarse — a clever c*nt, but a wrong ‘un.

      As a Komsomol member and student and as a graduated chemical engineer, he embarked upon “quasi-official and often extra-legal business opportunities” [Wiki], venturing “into finance, devising ways to squeeze cash out of the Soviet planned-economy behemoth”. And like very many criminals of the time, he recognized that banking was “da business”, setting up his own Bank Menatep.

      Traitor Gorbachev is to blame for the rise of Khodorkovsky and his ilk:

      Oligarchic Capitalism in Putin’s Russia: The Khodorkovsky Case

      I “told Human Rights Watch that [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky is not Sakharov,” stated David Hoffman, Foreign Editor, The Washington Post, at a 27 January 2004 seminar. “After that I told the Carnegie Endowment that [he] is neither Rockefeller nor Carnegie. The question of who Khodorkovsky is and what he has done is important for what it tells us about Russia today and Putin.”

      In response to one of his first stories on the oligarchs filed from Moscow, Hoffman was asked whether one of the oligarchs was a capitalist or a criminal. Hoffman replied, “what are capitalists in a land that has been hostile to the very idea for more than seven decades? And what are criminals in a state completely without the rule of law?” Post-Soviet Russia was such a place. While there was plenty of theft, Hoffman said, the oligarchs who emerged did more than hustle or steal, they built empires and tried to steal the very state.

      Hoffman stated that the roots of Russian capitalism are in Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms in the late 1980s, which were in part an attempt to legitimize self-interest to foster efficiency. Khodorkovsky seized on the idea of exploiting a loophole granted to Komsomol (Young Communist League) organizations that enabled them to convert purely administrative currency units (beznalichny rubles) into cash (nalichny rubles). The cash reserves he accumulated through this practice enabled him to take advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      Russia’s early economic reforms were crafted to reduce the state’s role in the economy as quickly as possible and to create a class of capitalists who would support continued economic reform. Khodorkovsky, with his cash reserves from before the collapse, was among those early capitalists to benefit from the privatization of government functions and assets. His bank, Menatep, was among a limited few that were authorized to handle government funds for payment of salaries and contracts. Hoffman described how Menatep, along with other Russian banks, would hold on to government funds for months at a time in order to speculate on exchange rates and other investments, enriching the bank’s owners at the expense of the designated recipients of the government funds.

      During this period billions of dollars fled Russia to offshore tax havens, but Khodorkovsky took a risk by buying up privatization vouchers and acquiring Russian companies, Hoffman said. Khodorkovsky also acquired companies through “investment tenders,” which were organized to sell off remaining state shares in enterprises in return for pledges to invest significant funds. Investment tenders were followed by an even more infamous “give-away” of Russian state assets to select business elites—the loans-for-shares program, which introduced the term “oligarch” to describe the handful of beneficiaries. Hoffman noted that in the loans-for-shares auctions, the auctioneers were often the same as the bidders—the auctions were rigged and the state knew it.

      It was during this period, Hoffman stated, that Khodorkovsky acquired the Yukos oil company for about $300 million through a rigged auction. Khodorkovsky subsequently went on a campaign to raise investment funds abroad, borrowing hundreds of millions. When the 1998 financial crisis struck Russia, Khodorkovsky defaulted on some of his foreign debt and took his Yukos shares offshore to protect them from creditors.
      With shares of Yukos trading at near zero, Khodorkovsky was faced with the choice of living off the oil exports of his company or launching a reform effort to increase the value of his personal holdings. He chose the latter. By reforming his company to adopt western accounting principles, respect minority shareholders, and pay dividends, he slowly rebuilt his reputation and as a result—with the help of high oil prices—drove up Yukos’ share prices. In 2002, Yukos reached a market capitalization of $23 billion.

      In 2003, Khodorkovsky seemed poised to take his company to even greater heights. He was wrapping up negotiations to merge with Sibneft, another large Russian oil company, and was seeking to sell a minority stake in Yukos to a Western firm for billions. However, Hoffman stated, he came into conflict with the Kremlin by supporting opposition parties, hinting at a desire to go into politics, and advocating private pipeline routes. In October, he was arrested on charges related to an investment tender of a fertilizer company in 1994, a case that had already been litigated and for which Khodorkovsky paid a fine of $15 million, according to Hoffman.

      Hoffman argued that Khodorkovsky’s arrest halted the evolutionary process of self-reform in Russian business, and that “the real danger of where we are today is that it could be aborted altogether.” “What is really happening here,” Hoffman continued, “is that Vladimir Putin is trying to extinguish competition, and competition is the oxygen for democracy and capitalism.” Hoffman stressed that is important for the West to continue to engage Russia during this period of difficulty, but “we have to speak the truth to Putin about our values.”

      My stress.

      Of course, what is pasted above is all old hat: it was written in 2004.

      The big fish got way.

      Like

    2. Oh, come on! Just look at his adorable little eyeglasses! He looks harmless as a librarian! How could anyone think he could do anything rotten?

      What earned Khodorkovsky his media persona as downtrodden brilliant intellectual is the fact that he never succeeded. Well, that and the assumption that upon ascending to the Russian presidency, he would immediately begin selling off Gazprom and other major state assets to wealthy investors and living like a king. Because if he made it all the way to the Big Chair and then started acting like Vladimir Putin, you can bet the media would suddenly ‘discover’ the convenient (for Khodorkovsky) murders in his wake and his apparently complete lack of scruples. Like with Navalny, the west is prepared to overlook unsavory qualities about Khodorkovsky and even pretend they are invisible, as long as he’s completely on their team and might still be useful. But it hasn’t forgotten.

      Like

  24. This made me laugh:

    Politico.eu: Czech lawmakers weigh the geopolitics of building new nuclear reactors
    https://www.politico.eu/article/czech-lawmakers-weigh-the-geopolitics-of-building-new-nuclear-reactors/

    Security services worry that reactors from Russia or China pose a political risk.

    The Czech parliament on Friday dodged a vote on a nuclear tender that could open the way for a Russian bid to build a nuclear power plant, something that’s sparked warnings from the U.S. and the Czech security services.

    In a special session in the lower house of parliament Friday, opposition MPs forced the postponement of a vote on a low carbon energy law that also includes a provision to launch a tender to build a 160 billion koruna (€6.2 billion) reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant….

    [para. 16 – my emphasis and 5 paras. from the end]..Russia also has technical advantages in a contest to build a new reactor — Rosatom is the only potential contractor to offer the 1,200-megawatt unit detailed in the tender.

    “France and Korea don’t have this size of reactor. U.S. Westinghouse is struggling with its model. Under these conditions, without Russia the tender is practically over,” said Michal Šnobr, an analyst and activist CEZ shareholder. …
    ####

    Just listen to Barack ‘Russia wot make nothing’ Obama and his dickless quips. He’ll keep your country warm and reduce greenhouse emissions all by himself!

    The west is finally discovering upfront that russo/sinophobia has consequences. It’s not fair!

    Like

  25. Factual report on the conviction of St. Aleksey the Martyr:

    Maria Lokotetskaya
    Business FM court correspondent

    Journalists were allowed into the courtroom ten minutes before the beginning of the verdict, which was scheduled for 6pm. For the first time since the beginning of the trial, TV cameras were invited in. Navalny asked the cameramen to film a prison heart and folded his palms in handcuffs in the shape of a heart. It is worth noting that the hearing had been marked by unusual punctuality. All three sittings of the Magistrates’ Court of the South Medvedkovo district on 5th, 12th and 20th February had started on the minute, but today it was judge Vera Akimova who broke the general pattern. She came to the verdict reading almost 50 minutes late. It should be recalled that the basis of the criminal case was Navalny’s comments on a promotional video in support of constitutional amendments, dated June 2nd last year. On his Telegraph channel and on Twitter, Navalny called the people who appeared in it a “disgrace to the country”, “people without conscience and traitors”. Ignat Artemenko, a 94-year-old veteran of the Great Patriotic War, was one of the participants in the video. During the trial Navalny pleaded not guilty. The judge said that the accused person’s actions had been deliberate and purposeful. She did not accept the argument that his comments were of a general nature. The prosecution had asked for a fine of 950,000 rubles, but the judge gave him 100,000 less. Since Navalny already had a criminal record in the Yves Rocher case, the court imposed a final sentence of 3.5 years imprisonment with a fine of 850,000 rubles.

    Silly me! How can the above be “factual” if it appeared in the Russian Kremlin controlled media?

    Business FM journalist Lokotetskaya continues:

    The reading of the verdict in the libel case started with a 45-minute delay. While waiting for Judge Vera Akimova to come out, the opposition leader entertained the audience with tales of pickles:

    “Why are you all so sad? What can I tell you that’s interesting? Аh! I salted some gherkins! I got a huge number of recipes. And I couldn’t figure out what to salt them in, so I ended up salting them in a bag. I got some really funny recipes sent to me. Some people are familiar with how to do this. They write: Take a bag, put the gherkins into it, salt, and, if available, sugar and garlic. And some people write very funny things: “Take a crockery pot, put cherry sprigs onto the bottom”. I think this recipe is right up my street, the one with cherry sprigs”.

    What the fuck was he rambling on about?

    And get this:

    After the verdict in the defamation case had been given, the opposition leader’s lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev answered journalists’ questions:

    Mikhaylova: Naturally, we shall appeal. Moreover, we have not even received the verdict yet, the court said that it would issue it to us in five days.

    Journalists: What is the final term?

    Mikhaylova: 3.5 years, minus the house arrest he was serving in the Yves Rocher case, and minus the time since he has been in custody up to now.

    Kobzev: You have to calculate it by the day. But in the end it will be until the summer of 2023.

    Journalists: Will Aleksey be transported to the colony today or when?

    Mikhaylova: I doubt that he can be transported at all and, moreover, he may be kept in a pre-trial detention facility now. Since he does not have the sentence in his hands (he was told that he would receive it within five days), nor has he a convoy yet, nor have his lawyers the sentence in their hands. In other words, it is not clear on what grounds he is now. [in the SIZO].

    SIZO: remand prison.

    . . . it is not clear on what grounds he is now. [in the SIZO]???

    This woman is a lawyer, remember.

    The sentence had just been given by the judge in a court of law when she told journalists the above!

    So the Bullshitter, having not yet received written documentation of his sentencing, may walk free until he has received such notification, as until he has received such notification, the grounds for his being held on remand are unclear, the fact that he has just been sentenced in court notwithstanding?

    Like

  26. Latvija izpārdod dzelzceļu metāllūžņos Latvian Railways (LZD) will sell about 4,300 tonnes of scrap metal at auctions from February. The word “scrap metal” means rails and other elements of Latvian railway infrastructure.

    This is reported by the Latvian official internet publication Latvijas Vēstnesis

    Rails of various lengths, parts of switches, rail fasteners, units and parts of rolling stock, car retarders – all this is being sold at scrap prices, at the instigation of the Latvian Railways board.

    The article states bluntly that this state of affairs at LZhD is due to Putin’s policies. V. Putin’s policies

    What an evil swine that Putin is!

    https://peremogi.livejournal.com/55596711.html

    Like

  27. Clearly blogged by a reactionary Putin fan who dreams of the resurgence of the USSR:

    Услышав приговор суда, Навальный показал абсолютную неадекватность
    2021-02-21 11:44:00

    Upon hearing the court verdict, Navalny showed utter inadequacy

    In Russia, the country that won the Great Patriotic War, no one has the right to insult or slander veterans. The court handed down a fair verdict in the case of Navalny, who had insulted and slandered a 94-year-old war veteran, Ignat Artemenko, who had fought in a partisan unit, who had been through half of Europe in the Red Army and who has had wounds and awards.

    In the opinion of political scientist Armen Gasparyan it is very good that in Russia attention has been drawn to the scoundrels who besmirch the Great Patriotic War and seek to discredit our victory. It was high time to bring some sense to liberals, for they have gone crazy, saying that if the USSR had lost the war, we would now be drinking German beer. Only absolute degenerates can say such nonsense. The Nazis didn’t start the war and wiped out the nations in order that beer be drunk afterwards. People would have become slaves to the Nazis, that’s obvious.

    Navalny’s behaviour in court was brazen and defiant and raises doubts about the blogger’s adequacy.

    In the opinion of Vadim Manukyan, an expert on the Media Commission, the FBK leader (the foundation has been recognized as a foreign agent) got what he deserved. Manukyan said that Navalny has gone unpunished for a long time and has grown increasingly brazen. The change of sentence in the Yves Rocher case and the verdict in the Ignat Artemenko defamation and insult case should show both him and the public that everyone is equal before the law.

    “Navalny has not learnt the lesson that was taught to his supporters who uploaded photos of Nazis and collaborators into the Immortal Regiment website. He failed to understand that the state would not allow this to happen again and that he could not get away with slandering Ignat Artemenko.

    Now Navalny will have time to think it over. The FbK case will also come up soon, and the punishment could be much more serious. Aleksey Navalny’s journey along Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s route is just beginning”, says Manukyan.

    Recall that Navalny’s suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case was commuted to a real sentence: he was given 2.5 years in a penal colony because of numerous probation violations. In addition, the court imposed a fine of 850,000 rubles on Navalny for defamation of a veteran.

    When will Russia at last be free if there exist such people who write as above, who are in thrall to authoritarianism?

    Like

    1. Probably everyone gets it, but language is a funny thing and when they speak here of Navalny’s ‘adequacy’, they mean his mental health.

      In my own opinion, there is nothing wrong with Navalny’s mind other than a narcissistic tendency to regard himself as the centre of the universe. Beyond that, though, the absurd and off-track things he says are just Navalny speaking from a script or out of pique that the focus seems to be drifting away from him. It’s also possible, as Cortes suggested, that he is attempting to build an insanity defense, or diminished capability. Whatever the case, the west could not have chosen a better champion – fitness-wise – than Navalny. He is completely committed to the notion of himself as some sort of other-worldly martyr and munificent leader whose brilliance remains unrecognized by the majority of his clodlike countrymen, and consequently his loyalty is easily given to his external curators and he happily follows their direction with childish faith. The sole limiting factor to Navalny’s success is the unwillingness of his aforementioned clodlike countrymen to recognize his limitless potential, and support and vote for him. If he could just nail that, he’d be golden.

      Like

  28. 21 февраля 2021 12:43
    Тут Россия, а не Берлин: Оскорбляя ветерана президентами не становятся
    Коротко о важном — все что нужно знать об итогах обоих судов по Алексею Навальному

    21 February 2021 12:43 am
    This is Russia, not Berlin: Insulting a veteran doesn’t make you president
    Breaking news – everything you need to know about the outcome of the two cases against Aleksey Navalny

    This was a sign: foreign diplomats did not show up for the second trial of Aleksey Navalny for the “defamation of a veteran” case. It was at the appeal in the Yves Rocher case that they arrived, nice and clear, like a support group in fur coats (it was freezing!). Because — what if the court is scared of the shouting from Europe and America and sets the hope of Russian democracy free?

    It didn’t quite work out like that. The court reduced Navalny’s sentence by one and a half months, leaving him with two and a half years in prison.

    OK, let’s go write the reports.

    And in the libel trial – or should I say insulting and humiliating a war veteran – what’s the point of putting creases in your fur coats? And it’s not because of any shame of their ward’s behaviour: it’s just that . . . well, the punishment is only a fine. It’s no big deal.

    It’s not about the money.

    That is why foreigners will never understand us.

    For a Russian person, the case of Navalny’s machinations with the French firm Yves Rocher is what? It’s boring. There are too many such machinations in Russia.

    But insulting a veteran is an evil business. Russian people are not trained to understand and forgive that. In general, people are smacked in the face for insulting their elders. Calling a veteran a “doll with medals” (Navalny’s phrase in court) is completely shameful.

    Which country do you really want to be president of? Have you got the wrong country?

    All he had to do was stand up in court and say, as Detochkin [character in a Soviet film who apologizes for his misdeeds — ME] did: they steal, and steal a lot, but you, veteran, forgive you! I overreacted. The devil got hold of my tongue.

    It’s unlikely that the fine would have grown from such a confession. Maybe even the opposite.

    They don’t hold grudges against the repentant in Russia.

    You’re building a political career, aren’t you? Well, then build one. People will understand repentance to a veteran, but they will spit and curse at you for saying for a “doll with medals”. Even admirers of the very best will be aroused. Where are we going to, Aleksey Anatolich?

    And what about Navalny? About salting cucumbers in his cell. And like making ice cream from sour cream and sugar? How little they help veterans in a country where there is a lot of oil and officials are bastards. But no apologies to the veteran. Pride won’t let you?

    Did you really come home from Berlin? Or are you still there in your mind?

    “It’s a pity that the law allowed a real term of imprisonment under this article after Navalny had insulted the veteran”, the prosecutor said after the trial.

    Severely.

    But this is, perhaps, all you need to know about the grand finales of two court hearings held one after the other in the same court in the cases of Aleksei Navalny.

    Like

  29. My latest update from GOV.UK:

    Press release
    Foreign Secretary reaffirms UK’s solidarity with Ukraine on seventh anniversary of illegal annexation of Crimea

    The UK will remain at the forefront of international efforts to end Russia’s illegitimate control of the Crimean peninsula.

    My latest update to GOV.UK:

    Nobody in the Crimea gives a flying fuck as regards your pathetic efforts to end the existence of the federal subject of the Russian Federation that is the Republic of the Crimea.

    Like

    1. Well, almost nobody. I suppose she who won the Eurovision song contest wailing “1944” does, but she lives in Yukiestan. Her parents don’t, though. They live on the peninsula, where they hire out rooms to Evil Russian tourists.

      Like

      1. 21st February 1784, decree from Yekaterina II to Potyomkin that he construct the “Great Fort of Sevastopol”. The City of Russian Glory had gained its name.

        I wonder if Her Majesty’s Government was aware of this fact when it issued its pompous Crimea statement yesterday.

        Probably not.

        Many of them are very likely unaware of their natural fathers’ names as well.

        Like

    2. “Woke colonialism” is the term that comes to mind to describe the West’s collective belief that 1) white people are bad and 2) white European nations should undermine the rest of the world via warfare, sanctions, and sabotage. Russians are honorary non-whites.

      Like

    3. Press release
      Foreign Secretary reaffirms UK’s solidarity with Ukraine Serbia on 21st anniversary of illegal annexation of Kosovo.

      The UK will remain at the forefront of international efforts to end Russia’s albanian organized crime’s illegitimate control of the Crimean peninsula Kosovo.
      ####

      1,2,3, ‘Kosovo is NOT a precedent.’ Except that the NATO bombing of Serbia showed Russia without a shadow of a doubt that the west can be very flexible when it comes to international law. Law of the jungle first. Always.

      Like

  30. Two down, just one more to go:

    «Мы проиграли»: Тихановская признала поражение оппозиции в Белоруссии
    Тихановская: оппозиция в Белоруссии «потеряла улицы»

    21.02.2021, 16:22

    “We have lost”: Tikhanovskaya admits defeat of opposition in Belarus
    Tikhanovskaia: the opposition in Belarus ” has lost the streets”

    The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has said that the opponents of the country’s current president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, had lost. Nevertheless, the opposition does not intend to end there. In an interview with the Swiss newspaper “Le Temps”, Tkihanovskaya spoke about the creation of structures to continue their activities in the future and the organizational measures being taken to do so.

    “I have to admit that we have lost the streets”, she said.

    The head of the republic’s opposition cited “a lack of means to deal with the regime’s violence against the demonstrators” as the reason. “They [law enforcement services in Belarus] have weapons, they have force, so at the moment — yes, it appears that we have lost”, she explained. Tikhanovskaya left Belarus in August and has never returned to her country since.

    Way to go, Guaidó!

    Like

  31. Very much on-subject with the theme of Russia developing self-sufficiency and recalibrating its alliances is this piece, on the domestic Elbrus processor.

    https://www.stalkerzone.org/about-the-russian-elbrus-processor/

    It’s interesting both from a technological standpoint, and a geopolitical one – from January of next year, “the requirement for a domestic processor or controller applies to almost any electronics, including ATMs, cash registers (processor or ad valorem part), I/O devices, monitors, peripherals (for example, printers) and “semiconductor storage devices” (controller in solid-state drives). There is also a requirement for quotas (paragraph 2013) for the purchase of radio-electronic equipment, and several other standards and proposals that are likely to become standards in the coming months.”

    The Huawei lesson resonates around the world, and many countries are noticing that the west – led as always by the United States – will not relinquish any opportunity for leverage; any dependence on western equipment constitutes a degree of vulnerability. Russia has relied heavily since 2006 on IBM mainframes, and the cost of maintaining and servicing them suddenly and fortuitously reached a level which made development of domestic equipment attractive.

    I need hardly point out that even if the Elbrus processor lagged behind western designs – and it may not – it would still constitute a strategic advantage in limiting the enemy’s options, both in snooping opportunities, and a catastrophic withdrawal of support for western processors. So long as it is adequate for the purposes it will serve, it is a plus, and if it so evolved that it is very fast and capable and competitive with global equipment, that would just be icing on the cake.

    Like

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