Tuesday, March 31, 2015

10 Major accomplishments of the age of Putin - Fort Russ

March 26, 2015
Alexey Zernakov/(Nightly Moscow) Vm.ru
Translated by Kristina Rus

Fifteen years ago, on March 26, 2000 Vladimir Putin was first elected to the post of the President of Russia. After coming to power in difficult times, he not only managed to keep the country united. 15 years later we can say: we have again become a superpower with a developed economy, industry, a powerful army and navy. And may be not everything is smooth today. But then, 15 years ago, many people actually thought that the country was finished. However, Putin has managed to prove to the Russians and the whole world that we can not be easily defeated.

In fifteen years, thanks to the "swift tiger," as President Vladimir Putin is called by Chinese journalists, our country is once again referred to with respect.

We have decided to make our own rating of achievements of Vladimir Putin and his team in the last 15 years, helped by experts from "Nightly Moscow":


Alexei Mukhin, political scientist, Director of the Center for Political Information:

- Putin's role in preserving the unity of Russian Federation is primary. The change in the territorial-administrative division of Russia, the creation of seven federal districts allowed to first slow down and then reverse the processes that were leading to a direct collapse of Russia into several pseudo-state entities. Fortunately, Boris Yeltsin timely sensed what was happening, and resigned as President. And Vladimir Putin in time identified existing threats and took a number of preventive measures.
. . . . .

Maxim Safonov, Doctor of Economic Sciences, professor:

Over the past 15 years serious steps were made and the budget of our country has become truly socially oriented. But there is no limit for improvement, and I think we should not stop there. A good example is the joy of the inhabitants of Crimea after becoming a part of Russia. Because the level of pensions and social benefits there instantly rose to nationwide levels. Yesterday I was at a general meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was speaking. And he clearly said that the social obligations will be fulfilled, despite the economic difficulties.


Vladislav Ginko, economist, Professor of the Russian Academy of National Economy and State Service:

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has managed to significantly reduce the arrears to international financial institutions. Currently Russia, of course borrows in the foreign market, but in relation to the gross domestic product, this amount is small. First of all, it gives us the opportunity to pursue an independent policy.

Because loans from international organizations are very often accompanied by certain encumbrances. Which are often hidden behind vague wording. But often, after such "reforms" the standard of living of the population drops - we see it today in Ukraine. And, of course, if our debts were higher, the sanctions would hurt us more.

Complete story at - 10 Major accomplishments of the age of Putin - Fort Russ

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Information war between Russia and the West intensifies -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net

War is raging between the West and Russia, with a key battlefield being the "war for public opinion" and control over information, narratives and perspectives. The Ukrainian crisis has again reiterated the polar opposite narratives between Western and Russian media as the information war intensifies. Western news outlets have been incessantly attempting to portray Russia as the belligerent power over the past year, even though many of the facts contradict this perspective. In order to justify an illegal coup in Kiev - which is part of a grander strategy of destabilising, encircling and antagonising the Russian Federation - the presstitutes are hard at work manufacturing narratives and preparing "Americans for conflict with Russia", as Dr. Paul Craig Roberts wrote in his article: 'CNN is Beating the Drums of War'. Considering the majority of conflicts in recent years have been initiated by Western intervention or meddling - including the Ukrainian crisis of course - Russian propaganda relies far more on facts, as there is often no need to invert truth to support Moscow's position.

"War for Public Opinion"

"It's a war for public opinion because whatever the case may be on the ground Western leaders, specifically NATO-countries, they really need public opinion to be backing whatever moves they are making around the world," was how investigative journalist and founder of 21st Century Wire, Patrick Henningsen, described the Western media landscape in an interview with RT. In an attempt to win the "war for public opinion", the West has launched multiple initiatives recently in a bid to successfully influence and shape public perception on current affairs. The European Union (EU) has launched a 3-month project to prepare a "strategic communication" plan to counter what the EU believes to be Russian "disinformation campaigns", according to draft conclusions of an EU summit obtained by Reuters. The project will be led by Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, who will present her strategy to EU leaders in June.

A key area of this project will be an attempt to build popular media initiatives for Russian speaking audiences. One organisation that has been involved in initial discussions on this matter is the EU-funded European Endowment for Democracy (EED), which shares a remarkably similar name to the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED) - the pre-eminent regime change organisation of Western intelligence agencies. A press release from an EED consultation on the "feasibility [of] Russian-language media" projects states: "Around 90 media experts and organisations examined ways of setting up new media initiatives for Russian-language audiences and strengthening cooperation between existing media actors in the Eastern Partnership countries and beyond." There is no doubt that these 'media initiatives' will be nothing more than Western intelligence operations aimed at subjugating the Russian state and reducing support for Moscow's stance on Ukraine and other issues.

Complete story at - Information war between Russia and the West intensifies -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net

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Trademark Jaw-Dropping US Hypocrisy on Display re Saudi Aggression - Washington's Blog

Washington has for months been screaming about Russian “aggression” against post-US-backed coup Ukraine. The screams are never accompanied by any clear evidence (perhaps highlighting why the screaming is so important), which the governments of Germany and other European countries recently announced is for good reason: the claims are merely more of Washington’s characteristic, self-serving distortions.

Condemnation of Russian “aggression” was already a case study in US-American hypocrisy, as the US is the country that has carried out, and is continuing, the worst case of aggression of the century, the invasion of Iraq, which, as part of its ongoing, wider war for hegemony over the Middle East, has slaughtered somewhere on the order of 1 to 2 or more million people in the last ten years, according to a new study by the Nobel-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility. (This is in addition to the approximately ten thousand of its “own” people the US has slaughtered domestically in the last ten or so years.)


Adding to this, the US is now openly coordinating another act of naked aggression committed by a tandem force of two US-collaborator countries competing for the title of world’s worst domestic dictatorship: Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Amazingly (though typically), the US and its media partners, such as NBC, are trying to spin the Saudi invasion as a Saudi “proxy” war… It isn’t. The Saudis are not using proxies. They themselves are doing it… openly, as terrorist states backed by the US are often wont to do. If it is a proxy war in any way, it is a US proxy war, since the Saudis are using US planes and being coordinated by the United States, making them, arguably, US proxies.

Complete story at - Trademark Jaw-Dropping US Hypocrisy on Display re Saudi Aggression Washington's Blog

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Schroeder slams Merkel’s Russia policy

Former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has lashed out at his successor, Angela Merkel over her policies towards Russia, saying he understands Moscow’s foreign policy concerns.
Schroeder made the remarks in an interview with the German daily Der Spiegel published on Saturday.

The former chancellor who ruled Germany from 1998-2005 said he fully recognizes Moscow’s concerns as since the Eastern European defense alliance, the Warsaw Pact, ceased to exist with the end of the Soviet Union, the Western military alliance “NATO not only survived, but also has extensively expanded to the East.”

Schroeder added that he sees no grounds to fear a possible Russian threat in Eastern Europe and Russia would not “consider placing in question the territorial integrity of Poland or the Baltic states.”
In addition, Schroeder insisted that attempts by the United States and the European Union (EU) to internationally isolate Russia over the crisis in Ukraine are “wrong,” arguing, “It is during a crisis that dialogue should be maintained.”

Western governments, including Germany have imposed sanctions on Russia, accusing Moscow of interfering in neighboring Ukraine. However, the Kremlin denies the accusation.

According to Schroeder, Berlin should have prevented the European Commission (EC) from “holding talks on Ukraine’s association with the EU solely with Kiev without involvement of Moscow.”

A political crisis erupted in Ukraine in November 2013 when the country’s then president, Viktor Yanukovych, refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

The move sparked pro-EU protests, with its center in Kiev’s Maidan Square, and in February 2014, Yanukovych was ousted by Western-backed groups. The ouster triggered in its turn pro-Russian protests in the country’s southern and eastern regions.

Complete story at - PressTV-Schroeder slams Merkel’s Russia policy

The Greanville Post • Vol. IX | The Clinton Crime Family

They’re one of America’s notable crime families – Bill as president, Hillary as first lady, senator, secretary of state and now presidential aspirant.
Bill’s rap sheet includes:
• eight years as Wall Street’s man in Washington – facilitating casino capitalism more than ever before;
• NAFTA and the World Trade Organization – anti-democratic job and environmental-destroying coup d’etas;
• compromising vitally needed welfare aid;
• marketplace medicine managed competition Hillarycare – Obamacare’s precursor.
• responsibility with Bush I for ethnic Rwandan massacres;
• Iraq sanctions causing mass starvation, disease and 5,000 monthly Iraqi children deaths, according to former humanitarian relief coordinator Denis Halliday;
• Balkan wars and raping Yugoslavia;
• telecommunications deregulation facilitating unprecedented media consolidation;
• repeal of Glass-Steagall; and
• the Commodity Futures Modernization Act ending regulatory oversight over derivatives and leveraging;
• Hillary partnered in her husband’s crimes. She shamelessly self-promoted throughout her Washington years and since leaving government.
• She’s unabashedly hawkish. Earlier articles called her a war goddess. In 1999, she urged Bill to bomb Belgrade. “What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life,” she blustered.
Straightaway post 9/11, she urged waging war on terror. She supported Bush and Obama’s worst crimes. She endorses nuclear weapons use. She calls them peacekeeping deterrents.

As a 2008 presidential aspirant, she told AIPAC convention participants America “stands with Israel now and forever.”

Complete story at - The Greanville Post • Vol. IX | The Clinton Crime Family

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All of the countries joining China’s alternative to the World Bank - Quartz

Russia, the Netherlands, and Australia announced over the weekend that they will be joining the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose membership has become something of a test of diplomatic clout between China and the United States. The development bank is seen as a challenger to existing institutions like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.

Unable to increase its voice in the current institutions—China commands just 6.47% of the vote in the Asian Development Bank, 5.17% in the World Bank, and 3.81% in the International Monetary Fund—China is building its own alternative. The bank is intended to make up for the gap in funding the region needs—about $800 billion a year in infrastructure investment, according to the Asian Development Bank. It is expected to launch later this year.

So far, just over 40 countries have joined AIIB, with one day left before the deadline to join as a founding member expires. The United States and only one of its main allies, Japan, remain absent from that list. The US and other critics question whether the Beijing-led institution will uphold international standards of transparency, debt sustainability, and environmental and social protections, or just turn into an arm of Chinese foreign policy. Last week, Japan’s finance minister said, “Unless [China] clarifies these matters, which are not clear at all, Japan remains cautious.”

But as more countries join the bank, the more likely AIIB will have to follow international standards, observers have noted, and the less likely China will be able to use a multilateral institution to wield influence in the region. Here are all the countries that have joined or applied to join the AIIB:

Complete story at - All of the countries joining China’s alternative to the World Bank - Quartz


Estonian Sports Hero Condemning Fascism Told to Go Read Works of Hitler

In an op-ed for Estonian news portal Delfi.ee, EKRE member and former Olympic champion Mait Riysman criticized his party’s defense of an MP who had praised Nazi Germany and the “positive nuances of fascism.”

The Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), embroiled in a scandal earlier this month involving a recently elected parliamentarian’s comments about the “many positive nuances” of fascism, was hit again on Saturday in an op-ed by a famous party member and national sports champion who said that he had once been told that he was just another “illiterate athlete who must first go to the nearest library and read the works of Hitler.”

Earlier this month, the EKRE was hit by scandal following local media’s discovery of an old blog post by recently elected MP Jaak Madison, who noted in 2012 that he saw “fascism as an ideology that consists of many positive nuances necessary for preserving the nation-state.” The young politician also noted that while “it’s true that there were concentration camps, forced labor camps, and a fondness for the use of gas chambers, at the same time, [the Nazis’] ‘iron-fisted’ rule did bring Germany out of deep trouble as the development initially based on military industry growth made the country one of the most powerful in Europe in just a few years.”

The scandal widened after Madison tried to defend the post, which had also appeared on the party’s website until recently, saying that it was merely “a hasty attempt to apply moral relativism to different political systems,” Estonia’s Public Broadcasting had earlier explained. Party leader Mart Helme’s defense of Madison only sunk the party further, his statements that the opinion piece was dug up on the orders of the Kremlin proving unconvincing. Prime Minister Taavi Roivas condemned both the statements and EKRE’s defense of Madison, noting that “the text of his blog is completely at odds with my values,” but adding that “in Estonia we have freedom of opinion and expression, and we have to protect these values.”

Complete story at - Estonian Sports Hero Condemning Fascism Told to Go Read Works of Hitler

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Land Destroyer: Russian Crimea: One Year Later

NATO calls Crimea "invaded" and "occupied." NATO has taught the world well what invasion and occupation really looks like, and Crimea isn't it.

March 22, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In 2001, NATO invaded and began the occupation of the South-Central Asian country of Afghanistan. The invasion and occupation has left tens of thousands dead, many more displaced, and has resulted in continued chaos and violence up until and including present day. Throughout the conflict, revelations of abuses, mass murder, and other atrocities including systematic torture have been exposed, perpetrated by invading NATO forces and their Afghan collaborators.

The war has also resulted in the use of armed drone aircraft which regularly kill men, women, and children indiscriminately along the Afghan-Pakistani border - a campaign of mass murder ongoing for nearly as long as the conflict has raged.

In 2003, NATO-members joined the United States in the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. An estimated 1 million people would lose their lives, including thousands of Western troops. For nearly a decade the United State occupied Iraq, and during its attempts to prop up a suitable client regime, laid waste to the nation. American forces in their bid to exercise control over the Iraqi population would conduct sweeping assaults on entire cities. The city of Fallujah would be leveled nearly to the ground, twice.

Complete story at - Land Destroyer: Russian Crimea: One Year Later

The Greanville Post • Vol. IX | The New Chinese Dream

What’s in a name, rather an ideogram? Everything. A single Chinese character – jie (for “between”) – graphically illustrates the key foreign policy initiative of the new Chinese dream.

In the upper part of the four-stroke character – which, symbolically, should be read as the roof of a house – the stroke on the left means the Silk Road Economic Belt, and the stroke on the right means the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. In the lower part, the stroke on the left means the China-Pakistan corridor, via Xinjiang province, and the stroke on the right, the China-Myanmar-Bangladesh-India corridor via Yunnan province.

Chinese culture feasts on myriad formulas, mottoes – and symbols. If many a Chinese scholar worries about how the Middle Kingdom’s new intimation of soft power may be lost in translation, the character jie – pregnant with connectivity – is already the starting point to make 1.3 billion Chinese, plus the overseas Chinese diaspora, visualize the top twin axis – continental and naval – of the New Silk Road vision unveiled by President Xi Jinping, a concept also known as “One Road, One Belt”.
In practical terms, it also helps that the New Silk Road will be boosted by a special, multi-billion-dollar Silk Road Fund and the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which, not by accident, has attracted the attention of European investors.

The New Silk Road, actually roads, symbolizes China’s pivot to an old heartland: Eurasia. That implies a powerful China even more enriched by its environs, without losing its essence as a civilization-state. Call it a post-modern remix of the Tang, Sung and early Ming dynasties – as Beijing deftly and recently stressed via a superb exhibition in the National Museum of China consisting of rare early Silk Road pieces assembled from a range of regional museums.

In the past, China had a unifying infrastructure enterprise like the Great Wall. In the future it will have a major project of unifying Eurasia via high-speed rail. When one considers the breadth of this vision, depictions of Xi striving to be an equal of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping sound so pedestrian.

Complete story at - The Greanville Post • Vol. IX | The New Chinese Dream

U.S. Ships 50 Bradley Tanks to Ukraine: Europeans Are Furious Washington's Blog

Eric Zuesse

Apparently, Obama, though he says he hasn’t made up his mind about whether to send weapons to Ukraine, actually has and is. He now seems to be quietly trashing the spirit though no provision in the Minsk II truce that was arranged by Merkel, Hollande, Putin, and Poroshenko, and signed by the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, and both of the rebelling former parts of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Obama now appears to be sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, and thus assisting Ukraine to resume attacking the DPR & LPR.

Even conservative Europeans are expressing outrage. Followers of Italy’s Sylvio Berlusconi, and even the leader of Austria’s anti-immigrant “Freedom Party,” are shocked and appalled by this Obama action.

Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, posted online a photo alleged to be of Bradley tanks now on rail-cars in Linz Austria en-route to Ukraine; he estimated 50 of them.

Complete story at - U.S. Ships 50 Bradley Tanks to Ukraine: Europeans Are Furious Washington's Blog

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Colonel Cassad (in English) - Destabilizing the old world order

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond gave a speech in London in which he again spoke about the destabilizing role of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis.

"President Putin's actions — illegally annexing Crimea and now using Russian troops to destabilize eastern Ukraine – fundamentally undermine the security of sovereign nations of Eastern Europe," — said Hammond, speaking in the Royal United Services Institute in London.

According to Hammond, Putin is not going to follow the rules accepted in the international community, the goal of which is to keep peace between nations. Quite the opposite he is bent on "subverting it", due to which Russia is potentially the "single greatest threat to Britain's security."
Earlier in his BBC interview the head of the British Foreign Office said that there are no signs of changing the Moscow's policy towards the Ukrainian conflict.

He added that additional sanctions against Russia may be passed in the case of the worsening situation in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities and the western countries accuse Russia of giving military aid to the separatists in the east of Ukraine and of sending military force to participate in the conflict.

Moscow consistently denies direct participation in the armed conflict in Donbass and accuses the west of not having the desire to settle the crisis peacefully.

Merkel convinced Obama.

On Monday evening it became known that the US president Barack Obama decided not to ship lethal weapons to Ukraine for now.

As the Associated Press agency was told by the ambassador of Germany in Washington Peter Wittig, Obama made this decision in February after the talks in the White House with Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to Wittig, the American president agreed with Merkel that more room needs to be given to diplomacy in the situation of the cease-fire that started.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/uk/2015/03/150310_hammond_speech_russia_threat_europe (in Russian) — link

The only thing in which it is possible to agree with Hammond is that the current Russian line is destroying the existing world order, willingly or unwillingly, which its current masters naturally don't like. Few can be deceived by hypocritical lamentations that the existing world order served the goal of keeping peace, because it is precisely the masters of the existing world order who lead in the number of aggressive wars and foreign-inspired coups, which violate the sovereignty of independent and formally independent countries. It is hard to say that Russia consciously sought actions that destroy this world order. For many years Russia tried to integrate into this system, but no matter how our westernizers tried, they were regularly shown the door. In the end, Russia was forced to throw monkey wrenches into the works of the wheels of the existing world order, first in Georgia, then in Syria, and now in Ukraine. Not in any single one of these crucial events Russia wasn't the initiator of the process. Rather, it stood in defense, in some cases successfully, in other cases not so much. But this is unacceptable for those who benefit the most from the fact that our world works in this specific way and not in some other way.

Russia is currently unable to offer some kind of global project or a paradigm of development to the world. The rejection of superpower status is fixed at the level of the basic ideological postulates. Russia cannot replace the USA, even if she strongly wanted it. So there is no speaking about Russia trying to bring the USA down from their high horse and take the place of the world hegemony. Only China may entertain such ideas, and only in the long term. Russia simply wants to lock certain spheres of influence behind her and to review the rules of the game where the USA act as not the first among equals bur rather like a sovereign among vassals (perhaps, disloyal vassals). That is why the conflict based on the foundation of such postulates destroys and will continue to destroy the existing world order, both due to the natural development of the cold war between the USA and the RF and also due to the long-term consequences of wars and political and economic crises generated by this conflict.

Complete story at - Colonel Cassad (in English) - Destabilizing the old world order

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Russia Rebounds, Despite Sanctions - Bloomberg View

By Matthew A. Winkler

Sanctions meant to punish Russia for snatching Crimea from Ukraine one year ago were supposed to hurt Russian business. And they did. Russian stocks, bonds and commodities had the worst performance in 2014 of those in any emerging market.

That was then. Now the picture is changing, with investors starting to favor Russia in 2015. The ruble, which became the world's most volatile currency last year after President Vladimir Putin's land grab, is stabilizing. The swings in its value narrowed this year more than any of the other 30 most-traded currencies.

Investors in Russian government securities denominated in rubles have earned the equivalent of 7 cents on the dollar so far this year, as measured by the Bloomberg Russia Local Sovereign Bond Index. In contrast, anyone holding similar government debt in emerging markets across-the-board has lost 1.1 percent in 2015.

The picture is even rosier for Russia's corporate bondholders; they've had a 7.3 percent total return in 2015, leading the gains in the index for emerging market corporate bonds compiled by Bloomberg. And while shareholders in the global emerging market stocks measured by the MSCI Emerging Market Index gained 1.7 percent this year, the 50 Russian stocks in the Micex index are up 11.9 percent -- better than the Standard & Poor's 500 or any other North American market.

The ruble's relative value helps explain why there are some signs of confidence in Russia. Although the ruble remains the most volatile of the 31 most-traded currencies this year, its swings are narrowing. This is visible in implied volatility, a measure of traders' bets on how much the currency's value will change day-to-day. After surging in late 2014 amid the widening Ukraine crisis, the ruble now is fluctuating the way it did in 2009.

Complete story at - Russia Rebounds, Despite Sanctions - Bloomberg View

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Crimea's Growth Fastest in 20 Years Thanks to Russia, Sanctions - Minister / Sputnik International

In an interviw with Sputnik, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Dmitry Polonsky explained how the republic won after rejoining Russia, how Western sanctions contributed to its economic development and what the West should focus on.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Crimea has been experiencing an upsurge in development following its reunification with Russia thanks to the country’s investment in the republic, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Dmitry Polonsky told Sputnik on Wednesday.

“Crimea has not developed at such a pace as it has in the past year over the past twenty years,” Polonsky said, adding that the Russian government plans to invest almost 700 billion rubles ($12.1 billion) in the republic’s economy under the current social-economic development program, which will run until 2020.

Polonsky, who is Crimea's Internal Policy, Information and Mass Communications Minister, stressed that during the 23 years prior to the March 2014 independence referendum, Crimea experienced “regression” due to the Ukrainian authorities lack of investment.

“Unfortunately, the 23-year-long tenure in Ukraine has been the time of regression for Crimea. The Ukrainian government did not invest a single penny into Crimea, at the same time it sucked out all possible resources from here," Polonsky told Sputnik, stressing that Russia “is taking an entirely different route” which is making a “drastic” difference on the peninsula. But even if Crimea residents were told not to expect any investment from the Russian government a year ago, they would have "still made the choice of becoming part of Russia," the minister stressed.

Complete story at - Crimea's Growth Fastest in 20 Years Thanks to Russia, Sanctions - Minister / Sputnik International

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"You Grow Up Wanting to be Luke Skywalker, Then Realize You've Become a Stormtrooper for the Empire"

POWERFUL STORY: Read this shocking account of how U.S. Iraq War veterans had their 9/11 patriotism crushed & replaced with something far more alarming...

Someone asked:

How do you Americans as a people walk around head held high, knowing that every few months your country is committing a 9/11 size atrocity to other people. Imagine if the 9/11 terror attacks were happening in america every few months. Again and again, innocent people dying all around you. Your brothers and sisters. For no reason.

Daniel Crimmins from U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division answered:

"Many of us are unable. Many of us watched 9/11, and accepted the government and media's definition of the attack as a act of war rather than a criminal action. A smaller portion, drifting along passively thought a major war was coming, that people we knew were going to fight and die. Some of us maybe worried about our younger brother being drafted, despite being in college. Now, it seems stupid, but in the 72 hours after 9/11, some Americans, maybe suffering from depression, certainly with a mind shaped by comic books and action movies, ate up the "us vs. them" good vs. evil rhetoric spouted by the cowboy in chief. After all, he was the president, and no matter how bright you might think yourself, you can still be swayed by passion and emotion, led to terrible decisions.

Some of us, therefore, left our dorm rooms, and walked down Main Street to the recruiter's office. Some of us were genuinely surprised the office wasn't full to bursting of young men eager to avenge their fallen countrymen. Some of us were genuinely surprised when we had to push the recruiter to stop trying to sell desk jobs and just let us join the damn Infantry.

Some of us got enlisted, then, and went down to Georgia, head high to mask the anxiety and fear they might have helped. Perhaps some number of Americans in this situation discovered that maybe it hadn't been the best idea, but would be goddamned if they were going to admit it, and let everyone back home smuggly remark on how right they were.

So they persevere. They learn to work as a unit, to look past personality issues, to see each other as Soldiers rather than as a race, or economic status, or any of the other things people hate about each other.

Complete story at - "You Grow Up Wanting to be Luke Skywalker, Then Realize You've Become a Stormtrooper for the Empire"

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The Economist has a funny sense of European values — RT Op-Edge

In the same week that The Economist lauded Ukraine's "commitment to European values," Kiev's current regime kicked out Euronews. Who do they think they are kidding?

Ah, The Economist. Without question, it’s is the best informed news magazine in the world… except on subjects I know something about. Take Ukraine for instance, throughout the country's current crisis, The Economist has been weaving a web of fantasy to its readers. The narrative has continuously blamed Russia for all Ukraine's misfortunes while painting its post-Maidan oligarchic rulers as being somewhere near God's right hand.

After wholeheartedly backing last year’s coup, the windy weekly has been unwilling to admit the severity of Kiev’s economic malaise. Instead, it has maintained the pretence that throwing money at its pro-NATO regime will solve all its problems. Anybody who knows the first thing about Ukraine acknowledges that the lion's share of the dough would be pilfered.

The problem is that a great number of the Western world’s most powerful people take The Economist seriously. The magazine appears both authoritative and credible, and never misses a chance to emphasize its own importance. However, this is “lipstick on a pig” territory. On subjects I’m reasonably informed about (Ireland, Europe, Britain, the ex-USSR for example), The Economist is more often wrong than right. Viewed through that prism, I’m extremely skeptical of the rag’s accuracy on topics I know little of.

In 2005, The Economist announced that Ireland had the highest quality of life in the world. I clearly remember reading the edition in downtown Dublin and that my first thought concerned the quality of the drugs the magazine’s editors were taking. Oddly, I'd penned a column a week earlier for the Ireland On Sunday newspaper predicting a deep recession for my homeland, which was rapidly losing its industrial base as credit-fuelled property madness raged.

Two years later, Ireland’s economy collapsed and a half decade of misery began. Incidentally, the periodical currently lists Melbourne as the best place to reside on earth. If you are in Melbourne right now, given The Economist’s track record, it’s probably best to emigrate before the inevitable happens.

Complete story at - The Economist has a funny sense of European values — RT Op-Edge

Clinton Foundation Received $10 Million from Ukrainian Oligarch - Russia Insider

Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Pinchuk foundation said its donations were intended to help to make Ukraine “a successful, free, modern country based on European values.” It said that if Mr. Pinchuk was lobbying the State Department about Ukraine, “this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing.”

Complete story at - Clinton Foundation Received $10 Million from Ukrainian Oligarch - Russia Insider


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S.-v.-Russia: Even Stephen Cohen Is Starting to Speak the Truth - Washington's Blog

Eric Zuesse

An alarming development is that Stephen F. Cohen, the internationally prominent scholar of Russia, is acknowledging that (1:35 on the video) “for the first time in my long life (I began in this field in the 1960s), I think the possibility of war with Russia is real,” and he clearly and unequivocally places all of the blame for it on the U.S. leadership. He calls this “possibly a fateful turning-point in history.” He also says “it could be the beginning of the end of the so-called trans-Atlantic alliance.”

He goes on to say (2:20): “This problem began in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration adopted a winner-take-all policy toward post-Soviet Russia … Russia gives, we take. … This policy was adopted by the Clinton Administration but is pursued by every [meaning both] political party, every President, every American Congress, since President Clinton, to President Obama. This meant that the United States was entitled to a sphere or zone of influence as large as it wished, right up to Russia’s borders, and Russia was entitled to no sphere of influence, at all, not even in Georgia, … or in Ukraine (with which Russia had been intermarried for centuries).”

He also speaks clearly about the misrepresentations of Putin by the American Government, and he clearly states (5:25): “He’s more European than 99% of other Russians.”

Regarding Ukraine (5:45): “Since November of 2013, Putin has been not aggressive, but reactive, at every stage.”

Regarding, in America, the effective unanimity of allowed scholarly and media opinions to the contrary of the actual facts, (and this is the most startling thing of all, so you might want to go straight to it, at 7:05): “This is an unprecedented situation in American politics. … This is exceedingly dangerous, and this is a failure of American democracy. Why it happened, I am not sure.”

He condemns (7:30) “this extraordinarily irrational [non] factual demonization of Putin … and this too is hard to explain.”

Complete story at - U.S.-v.-Russia: Even Stephen Cohen Is Starting to Speak the Truth Washington's Blog

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Polish Foreign Minister Says New Russia Sanctions Not Necessary; More Deaths Recorded In Eastern Ukraine

According to Poland’s foreign minister, the world does not need to discuss increasing sanctions against Russia, because the Ukrainian conflict that sparked the sanctions is essentially stalled. Grzegorz Schetyna, who made the comments while in Brussels on Monday, said that nothing has happened in recent weeks that would warrant an increase in the U.S.- and European Union-imposed sanctions.

"Now it seems that the conflict is frozen, and we have to respond flexibly to this situation. It is not necessary to radicalize it," Schetyna said. "For today, the EU countries have faced an issue of extending the existing sanctions, which is to be considered at the summit of the EU leaders this week."

Schetyna said that new solutions must be found if the conflict is to reach a peaceful conclusion.
"The thing is that we must use the most effective means for the resolution of the conflict,” Schetyna said. “The implementation of the Minsk agreements is important, but we need to look for another format ... and it is a challenge for those who are currently engaged in talks with Russia for a peaceful resolution of the Donbas conflict." The Minsk agreements are the February deal that led to a ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. That ceasefire, however, is being violated with skirmishes almost every day.

Schetyna’s comments came as the government in Kiev reports that the pro-Russian rebels fired on Ukrainian military positions 30 times in 24 hours, and that three soldiers have been killed. According to Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council, the men were killed after driving over a land mine. “Another five were injured as a result of military clashes," Lysenko said.

While the government offered no details of where the land mine exploded, clashes took place near the city of Donetsk, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Complete story at - Polish Foreign Minister Says New Russia Sanctions Not Necessary; More Deaths Recorded In Eastern Ukraine

Serfdom Is Better Than What the West is Heading For | Ian Welsh

One of the things that we forget about Feudalism is that serfs had rights: economic rights. They had the right to farm common land, they had the right to take wood from common forests, they had the right to live where they had lived before.

This is not to say that they were free, they certainly were not. But they were not slaves; they had access to, as it were, capital: what they needed to grow their own food, shelter themselves and clothe themselves.

We have an overly grim view of the Middle Ages, but, in various periods and various places, serfs, let alone freeholders, lived quite well. Much of what we associate as the worst of the Middle Ages actually happened either in the Dark Ages or in the Renaissance. For example, torture really takes off in the Renaissance, because as Stirling Newberry has pointed out, torture chambers and so on take a lot of iron and they didn’t have it to waste in the Middle Ages.

Late serfdom (after the Renaissance) was pleasant enough for serfs that they had to be forced off their land: The factories were worse. In factories, they lived shorter, sicker lives and worked far more. Capitalism is based on dependency—on wage laborers needing to work for someone else, or their lives are miserable or short. (Marx’s “whip of hunger”.) It is voluntary only in the sense that you can offer your labor to anyone willing to pay, not in the sense that you can opt out of the system and have anything approaching a decent life.

Today, if you lose your job and you’re an ordinary person, you can’t support yourself. If the government, friends or family don’t give you what you need, you have to beg for it. If you don’t get it, you die. Homesteading laws and laws which allowed people to take unused or underused property and use it to support themselves have been drastically weakened.

Complete story at - Serfdom Is Better Than What the West is Heading For | Ian Welsh

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Hold the Rich Accountable in New U.N. Development Goals, Say NGOs | Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 23 2015 (IPS) - When the World Economic Forum (WEF) met last January in Switzerland, attended mostly by the rich and the super-rich, the London-based charity Oxfam unveiled a report with an alarming statistic: if current trends continue, the world’s richest one percent would own more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth by 2016.

And just 80 of the world’s richest will control as much wealth as 3.5 billion people: half the world’s population.

So, when the World Social Forum (WSF), created in response to WEF, holds its annual meeting in Tunis later this week, the primary focus will be on the growing inequalities in present day society.

The Civil Society Reflection Group (CSRG) on Global Development Perspectives will be releasing a new study which calls for both goals and commitments – this time particularly by the rich – if the U.N.’s 17 proposed new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the post-2015 development agenda are to succeed.

Asked if the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will reach their targeted deadlines in December, had spelled out goals for the rich, Jens Martens, director of the Global Policy Forum in Bonn, told IPS MDG 8 on global partnership for development was indeed a goal for the rich.

“But this goal remained vague and did not include any binding commitments for rich countries,” he pointed out.

This is the reason why the proposed SDG 17 aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development, he added.

In addition, Martens said, governments agreed to include targets on the means of implementation under each of the remaining 16 SDGs. However, many of these targets, again, are not “smart”, i.e. neither specific nor measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

“What we need are ‘smart’ targets to hold rich countries accountable,” he added.

Complete story at - Hold the Rich Accountable in New U.N. Development Goals, Say NGOs | Inter Press Service

A man lives in the makeshift house behind him in the Slovak Republic, a member of the EU. Photo: Mano Strauch © The World Bank

A beautiful place caught in geopolitical games: Expats give their views on Crimea | Russia Beyond The Headlines

It has been a year since Crimea became part of Russia. RBTH asked several Western expats in Russia about Crimea and if the geopolitical tensions between Moscow and the West have affected their lives. Several people declined to answer the questions, citing the complex nature of the situation, but three people responded. They are:

Elizabeth Bagot, 27, is an American from Kansas who works as a professional translator. She has lived in Russia for 4.5 years and is based in Moscow.

Bryan McDonald, 35, is an Irish journalist. He has lived in Russia for five years and is based in Sochi.

Richard Winterbottom, 31, lived in Russia for eight years teaching English before recently moving to London.

RBTH: In your opinion, have attitudes towards foreigners in Russia changed in the year since Crimea's absorption by Russia?

Elizabeth Bagot: Yes, attitudes towards foreigners appear to have changed since the annexation, not so much on a person-to-person level as on a rhetorical and abstract level.

I have heard a lot of anti-American rhetoric on social media and in discussions with Russians, but the same holds true for anti-Russianism from my American friends. Never once have I been treated differently on a personal level in Russia. This is probably because I speak Russian fluently and don't loudly express political opinions.

Bryan MacDonald: Yes, definitely. The usual Russian warmth and curiosity towards west Europeans is gone. However, it isn't nasty yet in any way.

That said, I believe it's pretty bad for Americans. I've also noticed that Russians are less interested in the EU Europe as a palace to visit/work.

Complete story at - A beautiful place caught in geopolitical games: Expats give their views on Crimea | Russia Beyond The Headlines

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Ukraine crisis takes its toll on country’s oligarchs | beyondbrics

Ukraine’s billionaires are losing their cash, especially those with significant assets in the Donbas, an area that has become a battlefield between pro-Russian rebels and units loyal to Kiev. According to Forbes’ 2015 billionaires list, Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, has lost as much as $5.8bn over the past year.

The mining, steel-making, energy and heavy engineering units of Akhmetov’s SCM Group have been forced to halt operations or reduce their capacity in territories controlled by separatists or near the front line. The Group’s media, telecommunications and banking businesses are also feeling the effects of the rebellion.

On Friday, SCM’s power generator and coal producer DTEK posted a full-year net loss of 19bn hryvnia ($850m) in 2014, after a net profit of 3bn hryvnia in the previous year. “Military operations and difficult macroeconomic situation in Ukraine have resulted in a significant decrease in the net profit of DTEK’s companies,” Piotr Fokow, finance director, said in a statement.

DTEK’s mines and power plants have been damaged by shelling, by pro-Kiev forces and by pro-Russian separatists; they have experienced power blackouts and other logistical problems.

Two of DTEK’s producers of anthracite, Rovenkianthracite and Sverdlovanthracite, have been running at between a quarter and a third of capacity, mainly due to the destruction of railway infrastructure. In peacetime, they produce up to 40,000 tonnes of coal a day; now, they are managing just 8,000 tonnes.

Complete story at - Ukraine crisis takes its toll on country’s oligarchs | beyondbrics

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Making of a Christian Taliban in Ukraine - The Intercept

THE RECRUITMENT POINT for volunteers in Dmytro Korchynsky’s holy war is located in the basement of a building in central Kiev, on Chapaev Street, in what used to be a billiard club. Anyone can sign up, and the location isn’t secret — its address and phone number is on the Internet.

Inside, lying on the billiard tables, are toy Kalashnikovs, which recruits can use to shoot at targets on the wall. Behind the bar, shelves are lined not with liquor bottles but with Molotov cocktails left over from the violent protests that ousted the government a year ago; the firebombs may be useful in the next stage of Ukraine’s upheavals.

Along with being a recruitment center, the former billiard club also serves as the headquarters of Korchynksy’s political organization, “Bratstvo” (in English, the Brotherhood). I find Korchynsky in a side room furnished with a large billiard table, worn-out leather sofa, armchairs and a piano. Lying on the piano are the notes of Chopin’s funeral march and the lyrics to the German national anthem, whose first verse, beginning “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” harkens back to the Nazi era. It is perhaps an unfortunate choice of song for a political figure that is often described as an extremist, ultranationalist and fascist.

Korchynsky does not pretend to be moderate, but he doesn’t appreciate the worst epithet used against his forces.

“We are not Nazis,” he tells me. “We are patriots and nationalists.”

Korchynsky is nearly a caricature of a Russian-hating Ukrainian nationalist. His silver hair contrasts with his dark, bushy mustache, which is turned down at the edges in the Cossack style. The St. Mary’s Battalion, which is one of more than a dozen private groups fighting alongside the Ukrainian Army against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, is Korchynsky’s creation. It is also one of the more unusual volunteer formations in the ragtag forces taking on the separatists, incorporating an ideology that manages to mix Christian messianism with Islamic jihadism.

Complete story at - The Making of a Christian Taliban in Ukraine - The Intercept

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Ukraine needs more bailout financing – Ukraine finance minister

Ukraine needs more bailout financing than currently promised to help jump-start the embattled nation’s economy, Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said Monday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

"The package that we have is going to stabilize the financial banking system, but it’s not enough to seriously restart growth and promote growth," Jaresko said after meetings with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

The newspaper said that in meetings with senior U.S. Treasury, State Department and White House officials and lawmakers, Jaresko this week is making the case that backing Ukraine will pay geopolitical dividends.

"If, for whatever reason, one of our partners is not willing to come up with, or not able to come up with defensive military support, then provide us with financial support," Jaresko said.

But aside from promising to guarantee $2 billion of new Ukraine debt and working with the World Bank, Europe and other international lenders to provide support, U.S. officials haven’t indicated they are prepared to cough up any more cash, the newspaper said.

"Right now the coalition seems to be unified," the finance minister said.

Complete story at - Ukraine needs more bailout financing – Ukraine finance minister

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Russia Won't Return Crimea To Ukraine Despite Threat Of Continued Sanctions, Kremlin Says

Russia reiterated Tuesday it will not return Crimea to Ukraine, one year after its much-criticized annexation of the region despite objections from Western leaders. The United States and European Union have each said they will not lift economic sanctions against Russia unless Crimea was returned to Ukrainian control.

“There is no occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a region of the Russian Federation and of course the subject of our regions is not up for discussion,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 following the disputed results of a referendum and one month after Russian soldiers entered the peninsula to quell unrest that forced pro-Russia former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to resign. Russian President Vladimir Putin said 97 percent of Crimean citizens had voted to join Russia, though many in the international community disputed the referendum’s alleged results.

The annexation of Crimea led to an ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatist rebels and pro-government Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of more than 5,800 people since last summer. Western leaders have accused Russia of providing the rebels with direct and logistical support, and both the United States and the European Union instituted economic sanctions as punishment. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini each reiterated this week that sanctions will remain intact so long as Russia continues to control Crimea.

Despite international outrage, support for Putin has increased since Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Recent polls found Putin’s approval rating at between 80 percent and 90 percent.

Putin said in a documentary that aired Sunday that he was “ready” to place Russia’s nuclear weapons on standby if other nations attempted to interfere in Crimea’s annexation. He added the military intervention was enacted in part to save Yanukovich’s life, according to Reuters.

Complete story at - Russia Won't Return Crimea To Ukraine Despite Threat Of Continued Sanctions, Kremlin Says

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The Big Dick School of American Patriotism, and What We Make of It | naked capitalism

Let’s face it: we live in a state of pervasive national security anxiety. There are various possible responses to this low-grade fever that saps resolve, but first we have to face the basis for that anxiety — what I’ve come to think of as the Big Dick School of Patriotism, or (since anything having to do with our present version of national security, even a critique of it, has to have an acronym) the BDSP.

The BDSP is based on a bedrock belief in how America should work: that the only strength that really matters is military and that a great country is one with the capacity to beat the bejesus out of everyone else. Think of it as a military version of 50 Shades of Grey, with the same frisson of control and submission (for the American citizen) and the assumption that a good portion of the world is ripe to be bullied.

The BDSP is good citizenship conflated with JROTC, hosannas to sniper kills, the Pentagon’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War — what are we celebrating there anyway? — Rudolph Giuliani pining for a president who loves America in Reaganesque fashion, and the organizers of South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day, who wouldn’t let the local chapter of Veterans For Peace march with their banners because, so the story goes, they didn’t want the word “peace” associated with veterans.

Of course, the Big Dick School of Patriotism isn’t new — revolutionary roots, manifest destiny, history as the great pounding of hooves across the plain, and all that. Nor is it uniquely American, even if there is something culturally specific about our form of national hubris on steroids. Still, there have been times in our history when civilians — some in power, some drawing strength from numbers — have pushed back against the military and its mystique, or at least have demanded an accounting of its deeds. And of course, until the Cold War bled into 9/11, there was no national security state on the present gargantuan scale to deal with.

As he was leaving office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned against the overweening power of what he called “the military-industrial complex.” As a senator, J. William Fulbright similarly warned of “the arrogance of [American] power” and used his Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship to challenge the Vietnam War — whereupon Fred Friendly, president of CBS News, got that network’s executives to agree to preempt “Captain Kangaroo” and cover those hearings live.

On the populist side, there was General Smedley Butler, who campaigned against the military in his retirement, the Bonus Marchers of Great Depression Washington, and of course the massive antiwar resistance and remarkable insubordination of American soldiers during the Vietnam War. Similarly, some soldiers from the all-volunteer force of our era worked to undermine the U.S. occupation of Iraq in various (though far less pervasive) ways, including conducting “search and avoid missions” in which they would park, hang out, and falsely report that they were searching for weapons caches.

Complete story at - The Big Dick School of American Patriotism, and What We Make of It | naked capitalism

Yatsenyuk: One Quarter of Economy Lost, Hundreds of Companies Closed / Russian peacekeeper

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Tuesday his country has lost 25 percent of its economy because of the conflict in Donbass, hundreds of businesses have been closed.

"We have lost a quarter of the Ukrainian economy. Because of the war…hundreds of companies have been closed, but we were able to collect more taxes than last year," Yatsenyuk said at a meeting with governors. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved $17.5-billion financial aid for Ukraine. In exchange for money Kiev committed to implementing deep political, social and financial reforms.
Yatsenyuk said Ukraine needs a new constitution, the main provisions of which should be approved in a referendum: "The will of the people, expressed through a referendum, should define Ukraine’s new constitution." Yatsenyuk said the new constitution would give the Ukrainian regions more powers, and would introduce a European legal system. Earlier in March, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree to set up a commission to amend the country’s constitution.

Complete story at - Yatsenyuk: One Quarter of Economy Lost, Hundreds of Companies Closed / Russian peacekeeper

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U.S. war moves in Ukraine: Watch what they do, not what they say | Workers World

As activists, students and workers gather in Washington, D.C., for the “Spring Rising” anti-war mobilization March 18-21, many are probably unaware that 300 U.S. troops arrived in Ukraine this month, with another 300 expected to join them shortly.

The U.S. soldiers are stationed at the Yavoriv Training Area in Lviv, near the Polish border in western Ukraine. Their mission, according to the Pentagon, is to train divisions of the Ukrainian National Guard.

But their presence also establishes a provocative U.S. military “footprint” in this key agricultural and industrial country on the Russian Federation’s western border.

The first open and public U.S. military presence on Ukrainian soil comes amid a civil war raging in former southeastern Ukraine, now the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, also called Novorossiya. It’s accompanied by unprecedented NATO war games and military buildup threatening Russia.

All this despite a ceasefire agreement, negotiated by Russia, Germany and France, which went into effect Feb. 15. As happened during previous ceasefires, the U.S.-backed government in Kiev routinely violates the terms and is using the “breathing spell” to rebuild its military forces to assault the embattled Donbass mining region.

“Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus … to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” the U.S.’s 173rd Airborne Brigade commander, Michael Foster, told a meeting of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington on March 3. (Global Research, March 3)

Complete story at - U.S. war moves in Ukraine: Watch what they do, not what they say | Workers World

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Busting Ukraine Fakes (#1) – How Ukraine’s Media Works (Fakes) | The Truth Speaker

Graham Phillips

A series, looking at the fakes behind perhaps the world’s most dishonest media...

When Ukrainian media fakes about myself hit the hundreds, I stopped keeping track. To come in future instalments, but they did everything, from faking civilian cemeteries for cemeteries of the ‘Russian soldiers’ , to seeing ‘Russian soldiers‘ in every single fighter in Donbass (incidentally all Donbass citizens are ‘Russian actors’, in Ukrainian media).

Having been on the receiving end so often, I can tell you just how Ukraine’s mendacious media works – exemplified by this recent case in point. I arrived at Heathrow airport on March 4th, after having taken part in the MH17 investigation in the Netherlands. At Heathrow, I was detained for four hours, questioned by British authorities about my role in the conflict in Donbass, released without charge. I gave many interviews on the subject, describing exactly what had happened.

How this came out in the Ukrainian media was, such – ‘ ‘Journalist’ Graham Phillips passed on information about Russian occupant troops in Donbass to British Special Services’ - this from state-funded news portal http://antikor.com.ua/, this then disseminated into at least half a dozen Ukrainian news sites, countless social media.

Looking past the clumsily loaded terminology, let’s get to the article itself – ‘Phillips underwent many hours of questioning about my illegal activities in Donbass’ – ok, let’s look past some more troweled-on loaded terminology to get to the article itself.

‘After literally 5 minutes, Phillips agreed to cooperate with British authorities.’

Complete story at - Busting Ukraine Fakes (#1) – How Ukraine’s Media Works (Fakes) | The Truth Speaker


The 4th Media » US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down

Exclusive: Almost eight months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine – creating a flashpoint in the standoff between nuclear-armed Russia and America – the U.S. intelligence community claims it has not updated its assessment since five days after the crash, reports Robert Parry.


Despite the high stakes involved in the confrontation between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States over Ukraine, the U.S. intelligence community has not updated its assessment on a critical turning point of the crisis – the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – since five days after the crash last July 17, according to the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

On Thursday, when I inquired about arranging a possible briefing on where that U.S. intelligence assessment stands, DNI spokesperson Kathleen Butler sent me the same report that was distributed by the DNI on July 22, 2014, which relied heavily on claims being made about the incident on social media.

So, I sent a follow-up e-mail to Butler saying: “are you telling me that U.S. intelligence has not refined its assessment of what happened to MH-17 since July 22, 2014?”
Her response: “Yes. The assessment is the same.”

I then wrote back: “I don’t mean to be difficult but that’s just not credible. U.S. intelligence has surely refined its assessment of this important event since July 22.”

When she didn’t respond, I sent her some more detailed questions describing leaks that I had received about what some U.S. intelligence analysts have since concluded, as well as what the German intelligence agency, the BND, reported to a parliamentary committee last October, according to Der Spiegel.

While there are differences in those analyses about who fired the missile, there appears to be agreement that the Russian government did not supply the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine with a sophisticated Buk anti-aircraft missile system that the original DNI report identified as the likely weapon used to destroy the commercial airliner killing all 298 people onboard.
Butler replied to my last e-mail late Friday, saying “As you can imagine, I can’t get into details, but can share that the assessment has IC [Intelligence Community] consensus” – apparently still referring to the July 22 report.

Complete story at - The 4th Media » US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down

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John Helmer: IMF Makes Ukraine War-Fighting Loan, Allows US to Fund Military Operations Against Russia, May Repay Gazprom Bill | naked capitalism

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed on a scheme of war financing for Ukraine. For the first time, according to Fund sources, the IMF is not only violating its loan repayment conditions, but also the purposes and safeguards of the IMF’s original charter.

IMF lending is barred for a member state in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes, according to Article I of the Fund’s 1944-45 Articles of Agreement. This provides “confidence to members by making the general resources of the Fund temporarily available to them under adequate safeguards, thus providing them with opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity.”

To deter Russian and other country directors from voting last week against the IMF’s loan, and releasing their reasons in public, the IMF board has offered Russia the possibility of, though not the commitment to repayment for Gazprom’s gas deliveries, and the $3 billion Russian state bond which falls due in December.

On March 11 the IMF board agreed to approve an Extended Loan Facility (EFF) for Ukraine for a total of 13.4 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR), currently equivalent to $17.5 billion. Here are the IMF papers spelling out the details.

The first tranche agreed for payment amounts to $4.6 billion, and was paid on Friday. According to the IMF, another $4.6 billion may be released in three instalments later in the year – in June, September, and December. At the same time, the Ukrainian government is obliged to repay the IMF $840.1 million in past-due loan amounts and charges.

The Fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde (lead image) did not claim in her press release that this is new money. Instead, she said the IMF is making a “change in the IMF-supported program from Stand-By Arrangement [SBA] to Extended Arrangement under the EFF, which is consistent with the more protracted nature of Ukraine’s balance-of-payment needs.” Lagarde also claimed the loan’s purpose is to “support immediate economic stabilization in Ukraine and a set of deep and wide-ranging policy reforms aimed at restoring robust growth.”

Complete story at - John Helmer: IMF Makes Ukraine War-Fighting Loan, Allows US to Fund Military Operations Against Russia, May Repay Gazprom Bill | naked capitalism

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Germans Furious After Varoufakis/Tsipras Admit "Greece Will Never Repay Its Debts" | Zero Hedge

The Greco-Germanic war of words continues... Having pissed off The Greeks with his "Troika" remarks, Germany's Schaeuble went on today to more ad hominum attacks by reportedly calling the Greek FinMin "foolishly naive." The Greek ambassador has 'officially' complained to "friend and ally" Germany about the personal insult. But The Greeks had the last laugh, as first Varoufakis and then Tsipras explained respectively that "Greece would never pay back its debts," and "Greece cannot pretend its debt burden is sustainable." The German response, via tabloid Bild, "there must be an end to this madness. Europe must not be made to look stupid."

As Bloomberg reports, Germany and Greece confirmed Thursday that the Greek ambassador in Berlin made an official protest late Tuesday to the German Foreign Ministry over comments made by Schaeuble.

Schaeuble and his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis have traded barbs in recent weeks, with Schaeuble on Tuesday suggesting that Varoufakis needed to look more closely at an agreement that Greece signed in February: “He just has to read it. I’m willing to lend him my copy if need be.”

“It was a complaint after what he (Schaeuble) said about Mr. Varoufakis. As a minister of a country that is our friend and our ally, he cannot personally insult a colleague.”

Koutras did not specify what the insult was, but Greek media had reported that Schaeuble had said that Varoufakis was “foolishly naive.”

Complete story at - Germans Furious After Varoufakis/Tsipras Admit "Greece Will Never Repay Its Debts" | Zero Hedge

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Russian Elites but Not Russian People, Ready to Capitulate to the West, Kagarlitsky Says | Johnson's Russia List

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 17, 2015)

The West does not understand Russia, but it does understand very well indeed Russia’s elites; and as a result, it has seriously miscalculated in its dealings with Moscow about Ukraine, according to Boris Kagarlitsky, who argues the elites are ready to capitulate in the face of sanctions but the Russian people never will be.

In fact, the Moscow analyst says, while increasing sanctions may increase the willingness of Russian elites to find compromises, they “not only will not frighten the population of Russia but on the contrary will push” all other Russians in the opposite direction and make them more anti-Western and anti-elite as well (stoletie.ru/vzglyad/elity_gotovy_kapitulirovat_627.htm).

Although the West and the elites assume the population will always be passive, in fact, that is not the case, and popular anger at anything that ordinary Russians view as a capitulation will be something the Kremlin will have to take into account. Indeed, Kagarlitsky says, this divide between elites and masses will form the core of Russian politics in the months ahead.

The Presidential Administration understands this, he says, but the government and even more the Russian liberal elites on whose views the West relies do not. And consequently, the West’s own actions instead of pushing Moscow in the direction it hopes for are in fact pushing the regime in very different ones.

And he argues that in this conflict, Moscow’s liberal intelligentsia will find itself in an ever weaker position because its support of the West on Ukraine means that it “has isolated itself from society and even from those of its strata which a year or two ago were ready to listen to its arguments.”

Complete story at - Russian Elites but Not Russian People, Ready to Capitulate to the West, Kagarlitsky Says | Johnson's Russia List

CC Photo Google Image Search Source is EAE0QAAIBAgMDBwULCAcJAAAAAAABAgMRBBIhBTFRBhMiQWFxkTKBobGyByNCUmJyc5KjwdEUFRYzRFNjdCQ0Q4Kz4fElZHWDk6LS4vD  Subject is russian flag

New Feature: Even More News for You

New red

I'm making available today a new feature on my blog. While there is still a little bit more work that I want to do with it, I'd like to make it available to everyone right now in the hope that you'll find it useful. Click on one of the links below and you'll be taken there.

The new pages each contain a scrolling news widget. The news widgets are Russia News, Ukraine News, Novorossiya News, and Elsewhere in Ukraine News. This news widgets will allow access to a greater number of news stories than I could hope to post myself. Here's some basic information on each widget.

1. Russia News – the latest news concerning events and developments regarding Russia.

2. Ukraine News – the latest news regarding events and developments in Ukraine. This also includes NATO news, since we know that NATO is deeply involved in events in Ukraine.

3. Novorossiya News – news regarding the events Donetsk, Luhansk, and Novorossiya.

4. Elsewhere in Ukraine News – news regarding events elsewhere in Ukraine, with specific emphasis on cities and regions that may not remain in Ukraine for whole lot longer.

• Even More News for You - All four of the above feeds together on one page.

The first two categories have a larger number of news stories than the last two categories. This is not all that surprising. Because frankly, even a lot of alternative news sources are not covering these areas in much depth. Yet.

These news scrolls, while they contain a lot of current, up to the moment, news, are not updated instantaneously as news occurs. There will likely always be a couple hours delay. This is about the best that can be expected from a free solution. Yet, it will allow this website to be updated a lot more frequently than I could ever hope to update it myself.

Some caveats.

On the initial load, sometimes 1 or more news feeds don't load.  Refresh/reload the page and it should all work.  (Fingers crossed)

If you see a story that seems interesting, click it now. Once it disappears from the news scroll, it's gone and it won't come back.

Since the selection of these stories are computerized, there will no doubt be some stories that don't fit in well with the mission of this blog. As I discover these stories, I will go back and tweak the selection process in the hope that you see a more appropriate selection of stories.

If you see anything that appears not to be working too well, or doesn't seem to fit, feel free to leave a comment on the news scrolls page and I will look into it. And the feel free to drop me a comment and let me know how you like this new feature.

- Aaron Talka

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Theft of Ukraine’s ‘Golden Loaf’ Reflects the Revolution’s Failings | TIME

The disappearance of a symbol of the revolution comes as President Poroshenko's approval rating crumbles

When revolutionaries stormed the mansion of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych one year ago, a few of them ran up the winding staircase to the master bathroom, expecting to find the golden toilet that was rumored to be in the house. Instead, as they rifled through the gaudy rooms that day, they found something better, or at least more bizarre: a golden loaf of bread, weighing about two kilograms, that a prominent businessman had given the President as a gift in an elaborate wooden box.

Of all the pieces of cartoonish opulence found on the palace grounds – including a stuffed lion, a golf course, a private zoo and a floating restaurant in the shape of a pirate ship – the golden loaf became the most famous token of the corruption that fueled the rebellion. In the months that followed, key chains and refrigerator magnets of the loaf were sold on Kiev’s Independent Square as mementoes of the revolution and its promise to make politicians stop stealing from the people. But on Tuesday, March 17, its symbolism came full circle when Ukraine’s new government announced that the loaf had itself been stolen.

“It turns out that the location of the famous golden loaf is unknown,” said Dmitri Dobrodomov, chairman of the committee in charge of combating corruption in Ukraine’s post-revolutionary parliament. “In essence, it was stolen. The question is: by whom?” said the lawmaker, an ally of Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko.

It was another embarrassing setback for Poroshenko’s government, which has struggled to keep the pledges of the revolution over the past year as Ukraine fights a war with Russia’s proxy militias in its eastern regions. “With one hand we’re firing back at the aggressor, with the other we’re speeding up reforms,” Poroshenko said in a speech last month, on the one-year anniversary of the uprising that brought him to power. “Once we stop the war,” Poroshenko assured the nation, “it’ll just take a few years before everyone notices how Ukraine is changing.”

But Ukrainians are getting impatient. At the start of February, Poroshenko’s approval ratings dropped below 50% for the first time since he took office in June, according to a nationwide poll conducted by the Research & Branding Group, a leading Ukrainian pollster. More alarming for his government, nearly half of respondents in the survey (46%) said the revolution had failed to meet its goals of uprooting corruption. One in five said they were prepared to take part in another uprising to finish the work of the last one. “This is an incredibly huge number,” says Evgeny Kopatko, the director of the polling agency. “It shows that the protest potential is still extremely high. People just don’t see the changes that they were expecting.”

Complete story at - Theft of Ukraine’s ‘Golden Loaf’ Reflects the Revolution’s Failings | TIME

Revealed: The harsh terms of IMF loans agreed by Ukraine gov't - New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond

By Ivan Katchanovski (University of Ottawa)

Ukraine for sale under IMF oversight Leaked documents, which were previously kept secret by the leaders of Ukraine, show that as a condition of getting a new IMF loan, the Ukrainian government agreed inter alia to the following:

raising prices for natural gas and heating to households to the level of prices for imported natural gas by April 2017, starting with the first increase in April 2015 cutting 20% of state employees in 2015 reducing the number of higher education institutions from 802 to 317 and raising the retirement age by 5 years. Such economic policy would increase the household prices for natural gas by more than ten times and bring the combined utility payments for energy to the levels approaching or exceeding wages and pensions of a significant percentage of Ukrainians. Such price shocks would be coupled with expected continuation of the economic crisis, which has already resulted in three fold devaluation of the Ukrainian currency, significant declines in GDP, industrial output, real wages, and export and significant increases of inflation and unemployment.

The Ukrainian central bank has asked the IMF to maintain its current practice of parallel exchange rates and currency controls, which include an official lower rate set by the central bank and much higher black market exchange rate.

The IMF agreement does not include political conditions, such as ending the civil war in Ukraine and democratization of its increasingly undemocratic political system.

The agreement and the economic policy based on the Washington Consensus fail to address key institutional issues that would prevent such shock therapy from working in Ukraine, such as corruption, property rights, social capital, and oligarchic capture of the state. The current agreement with the IMF is likely to be only partially implement as was the case with previous such agreements.
In either case, ordinary Ukrainians who were misled by the Maidan opposition leaders/current government leaders and the Ukrainian media with promises of EU standards of living, are likely to suffer the economic shocks without any prospects of reaching EU standards of living in the next years and decades.

Complete story at - Revealed: The harsh terms of IMF loans agreed by Ukraine gov't - New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond

Ukraine, land of plenty, now running on empty - Taipei Times

A Soviet tank mounted on a plinth outside a primary school attests to the last time the central Ukrainian town of Kagarlyk saw war up close. The tank is a leftover from the Soviet force that routed Nazi troops from Ukraine during World War II.

More than 70 years later, tanks have again been churning up the rich black soil of Ukraine as the country’s pro-Western government battles a pro-Russian insurgency. Seen on television from the comfort of a sitting room in Kagarlyk, a depressed town about 600km west of the frontline, the fighting that rumbles on at a low level despite a month-old truce seems remote. However, Ukrainians across the country are paying a high price for the conflict in the industrial Donbass region, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of national output.

Maria Polyvaniuk, a 27-year-old mother of two who lives in a drab Soviet-era apartment block, has watched aghast as the nation’s currency nosedived in the past year, triggering astronomical increases in the prices of imported food, clothes and other essentials. “Before, if we had something to celebrate, like a birthday, we could go to a cafe. We also ate more meat and fish,” says Polyvaniuk, a slight figure with wispy hair, describing life for a family of four on her electrician husband’s monthly salary of 2,000 hryvni in pre-war Ukraine. That salary was equivalent to US$250 a year ago, but just US$87 today.

“Nowadays, we cook mostly simple food, like soup and rice. As for clothes, we buy less and wait for sales,” she says.

Complete story at - Ukraine, land of plenty, now running on empty - Taipei Times

Recommended Reading via Amazon

If you're seeking more information about how the world really works, and not how the media would want you to believe it works, these books are a good start. These are all highly recommended.

If you don't see pictures above, you likely have an adblocker running.  If so, here are the links.

1. The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein
2. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - John Perkins
3. Manufacturing Consent - Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky
4. Gladio - NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe - Richard Cottrell
5. Profit Over People - Noam Chomsky
6. Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives - Stephen Cohen
7. The Divide - American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap - Matt Taibbi

How this works.  Follow one of the links.  Should you decide to buy that item, or any item, I get a small percentage, which helps to maintain this site.  Your cost is the same, whether you buy from my link or not.  But if the item remains in the cart too long, I don't get a thing.  
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