Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Historic Moment: Ramzan Kadyrov offers Putin his own *personal* volunteer Chechen special force





Amazing video, thanks so much to all those who translated it in less then 24 hours!!  The video begins by showing the Chechen special forces equipped with Russian military and police special forces uniform.  Notice that the average age seems to be in the 30s.  You can tell that these are hard core, experienced fighters.  Will Putin actually use them and, if yes, how so?  It is hard to tell.  Probably not officially, but is obvious to me that these are ideal forces to send anywhere were "plausible deniability" is needed or to operate in a Muslim society (Lebanon? Xinjiang? Syria?).  What is certain is that they are already present in Novorussia.
Continue...

The US cannot start a major war in Ukraine




By Nikolai Starikov 
Translated by Val from Osa 

http://www.vz.ru/opinions/2014/12/25/722171.html 

How long the West is willing to pay for the crumbling economy of Ukraine without guarantees of the beginning of its war with Russia? The Western strategy rule says: lost control over the territory - create the Antithesis. 

It is possible to understand what is happening in Ukraine, it is much more difficult to evaluate and forecast the development of events. Whatever the case, it is necessary to consistently follow one rule: set emotions aside. Blood, death and destruction are the most serious emotional blows, but if you follow your emotions, neither proper assessment nor correct forecast will result. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 "End of Year" report and a look into what 2015 (WW3?) might bring - by Saker




Introduction: 
By any measure 2014 has been a truly historic year which saw huge, I would say, even tectonic developments. This year ends in very high instability, and the future looks hard to guess. I don't think that anybody can confidently predict what might happen next year. So what I propose to do today is something far more modest. I want to look into some of the key events of 2014 and think of them as vectors with a specific direction and magnitude. I want to look in which direction a number of key actors (countries) "moved" this year and with what degree of intensity. Then I want to see whether it is likely that they will change course or determination. Then adding up all the "vectors" of these key actors (countries) I want to make a calculation and see what resulting vector we will obtain for the next year. Considering the large number of "unknown unknowns" (to quote Rumsfeld) this exercise will not result in any kind of real prediction, but my hope is that it will prove a useful analytical reference.

MH17: Not BUK-M1: new video proof



Check out this excellent report by Dutch journalist Max Vanderwerff who debunks the reports allegedly showing a  video of a Buk-M1 launch:

http://7mei.nl/not-buk-m1-new-video-proof/

There is no doubt my mind that MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian SU-25, possibly one of several Su-25s patrolling the skies that day to intercept a civilian airliner the downing of which was to become the "surprise" Poroshenko promised and which Kolomoiskii probably organized.

Monday, December 29, 2014

27-28.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. War in Ukraine, Russia, Europe, USA, Afganistan



China Launches Swaps, Forwards with Russia in National Currencies





China launches swaps and forwards between the yuan and the Russian ruble starting Monday.

According to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS), the ruble has become the 11th currency in the yuans swaps trading.
On December 26, CFETS reported on its website that swaps and forwards trading between the yuan and national currencies of Russia, Malaysia and New Zealand would start on December 29.

Earlier in December, China's Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng claimed that China could increase the usage of yuan in trade with Russia amid the ruble's depreciation.
Continue..

US Condemns Crackdown on US-Funded Broadcaster in Azerbaijan: State Dep't





US Department of State spokesperson said that the United States is alarmed by the crackdown on the US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty by the Azerbaijani authorities.
The United States is alarmed by the crackdown on the US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) by the Azerbaijani authorities, who say raids and detentions of the RFE/RL employees are part of a tax fraud investigation, the US Department of State spokesperson said.
Continue..

After 13 Years US Military Campaign in Afghanistan Proves to Be Inefficient





The US-led coalition has formally ended its military mission in Afghanistan. Although top NATO officials are expressing optimism regarding the results of the campaign, an Islamist insurgency is still on the rise in the region.

The 13-year US military campaign in Afghanistan formally ended on Sunday, December 28; however, the longstanding military confrontation with the Taliban has not led to a victory over steadily-expanding Islamic extremism in the region.

Continue...

Europe Beware! – WWIII could destroy Europe for the third time in a Century by Peter Koenig



Washington is hell-bent on a war with Russia. It is part of the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) to take over the world. After Russia, China would follow. That’s the plan. China is being encircled as we speak. Never mind that Russia and China have recently concluded a pact, a close financial and military alliance – which to defeat will be next to impossible. 

Unless – and here is the crux of the matter – unless Washington initiates an all-out nuclear war, destroying the planet, including itself – but foremost Europe. 

Why America Can't Stop



by Mikhail Khazin 

Translated by Roobit 

Or an attempt to describe how US problems correlate with international security. 

On several past occasions I have written that the United States is deliberately destroying the entire system of international security, the same system that they had built together with the USSR. Why did they start dismantling the international security system is also understandable, in the 1990s the generation of “victors” came to power in that country, these people are convinced that they had “defeated” the USSR (as our theory explains it is obviously not so, please refer to http://worldcrisis.ru/crisis/188291 ) and because they are “victors” they may do anything they please. They decided that collective security arrangements are onerous, and that they need their own security system, the one that only they will have control over. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rethinking Politics: The Irresistible Lure Of Socialism



Today I am posting a first article in what I hope will become a series about "re-thinking politics".  By that I mean the following: we are told that communism is dead.  I am not so sure at all, but maybe.  I would argue that what we think of as "European social-democracy" has died this year after a long and painful agony.  The US is only a republic or a democracy in name, in reality it is a fascist oligarchy.  Chavez in Venezuela spoke of "Bolivarian Socialism".  Arundhati Roy in India seems to think that democracy is dead and that Maoist guerrillas might have the answer to a lot of questions.  One thing is sure, Fukuyama got in wrong and history has not ended (unless some crazy idiot in the White House launches an attack on Russia then yes, history will end).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

26.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Minsk, Russia, China



Friday, December 26, 2014

Russia in Talks With China Over Fast Neutron Nuclear Reactors Construction




The USS Donald Cook's presence in the Black Sea is meant to reassure and at the same time demonstrate US commitment to work closely with NATO allies in order to enhance maritime security, the ship's commanding officer, was quoted as saying in the statement Thursday.


 — The USS Donald Cook is scheduled to enter the Black Sea Friday to maintain peace and stability in the region, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement.

US Warship Destroyer Donald Cook Enters Black Sea Second Time This Year




The USS Donald Cook's presence in the Black Sea is meant to reassure and at the same time demonstrate US commitment to work closely with NATO allies in order to enhance maritime security, the ship's commanding officer, was quoted as saying in the statement Thursday.


The USS Donald Cook is scheduled to enter the Black Sea Friday to maintain peace and stability in the region, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement.

Visa, MasterCard Stop Operating in Crimea Over US Sanctions





International payment systems Visa and Mastercard said they stopped issuing and servicing payment cards in Crimea over sanctions imposed on the region.


Two major US payment giants Visa and MasterCard have stopped servicing banks in Crimea because of the recent round of US sanctions imposed over the Black Sea peninsula's decision to reunite with Russia, the companies said Friday.
Visa said it stopped issuing and servicing payment cards in the region.

According to the company's Friday statement, MasterCard halts servicing payment cards issued by banks operating in Crimea.


Russia Revises Military Doctrine, Lists NATO Buildup As Major Threat





According to the updated Russia's military doctrine, NATO military buildup, the development and deployment of strategic missile defense systems, the implementation of the 'global strike' doctrine are among main external threats to the country's security.


President Vladimir Putin has signed an updated version of Russia's military doctrine, which highlights expansion of NATO's military capabilities among main threats to national security, the Kremlin said in a statement on Friday.
"Despite a decreased likelihood of a large-scale war against Russia, some security threats continue to grow," the revised doctrine says.

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The online Campaign against the Hierarchy of The Nigerian Army





The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a publication on the website of Sahara Reporters with the caption “Nigerian Army Presents Unverified “Lt Col” To Refute Petition Against Military Hierarchy”.  It is noteworthy but sad and unfortunate that Sahara Reporters has committed itself to support for terrorism and fighting Nigeria, its people, its military and particularly the Nigerian Army.

Before Sahara Reporters published their purported document described as petition from Lt Col Wende, a serving Commanding Officer, the Nigerian Army conducted a thorough investigation on the document involving other security and intelligence agencies. The process confirmed that the serving officer was not the author of the petition.  Yesterday, the officer dissociated himself from the so-called petition in a press conference he personally attended.  While reputable media organizations were on hand to engage the officer, Sahara Reporters being a faceless medium, preferred to remain faceless and was not represented. Sahara Reporters sadly, but predictably, and in fulfilment of its support for terrorism published in its website a fabrication in which it referred to the officer as “unverified”. How absurd!

Sahara Reporters has strived hard to present itself as a propaganda medium for terrorism and Boko Haram in particular.  It is with this in mind, that the Nigerian Army conducted a press conference in Maiduguri in which the officer who appeared for the press conference is Lt Col Wende, a serving officer of the Nigerian Army.  Since the officer has clearly dissociated himself from the document, it makes sense that the so-called petition is the handiwork of Sahara Reporters.  With time, terrorism in Nigeria and Sahara Reporters will be defeated by the collective will of the good people of Nigeria.

 

OLAJIDE LALEYE

Brigadier General

Director, Army Public Relations

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ukraine Civil War: 23-24.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. War in Ukraine, Russia, USA



The 2014 "Saker's Man of the Year": the Russian soldier



It's this time of the year again when the corporate media engages in the silly "man of the year" exercise and when I offer my own nominations just as a small sign of defiance towards the Imperial propaganda.  Last year, I decided that the title of "Saker man of the year" should go to the Syrian soliderwithout whom neither Russia, nor Iran, nor Hezbollah would have been able to save Syria from the NATO-Wahabi aggression.  I also listed Vladimir Putin as a "runner up" and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as honored by a "special distinction".  Looking back, I would say that these were very good nominations and I hope that this year I will get it right again.  So here we go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

23.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Mariupol, Russia, Abkhazia, Germany



22.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Europe



New testimony about the shooting down of MH17



Interesting news this morning: the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaia Pravda has interviewed a man who claims to have been a witness to the take-off of three aircraft one of which allegedly shot down MH17.  Thanks to the incredible work done by Kazzura the full video with English subtitles is already available today.  Check it out:  
I will notice that there are several mutually contradictory versions circulating out there.  For example, one version spoke of a Polish pilot, this one speaks of a Ukrainian (with a very Russian last name), some versions speak of one aircraft, other of two and this one even three, some speak of a SU-25, others of a MiG-29 or even a SU-27 (such as the alleged satellite photo from the student at MIT).  There are several reasons for such discrepancies.

China openly & officially backs Russia



Well, now we have it from the most official source possible: Foreign Minister Wang Yi who declared on Monday. “If the Russian side needs it, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity".  Considering the US rhetoric and imperial mindset which proclaims that "you are either with us or against us" it is pretty clear what such a declaration really means: China is putting the US on notice that in the current economic war Russia will have the full backing of China.

Ukrainian civil War Soars: Mariupol railway bridge bombed by anti-Kiev partisans




"There was bomb attack at the railway bridge across the Kalchik River in Mariupol at 1:40 am on December 23, at the 1260th kilometer of the railway leg of the route, which damaged a support structure. Train service in the direction of the railway terminal and the seaport has been suspended. There were no casualties", said official statement.
Continue.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Former French Airline CEO Claims MH370 Was Shot Down by US Military



Marc Dugain, a reputable French author and former Proteus Airlines CEO, claims Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was shot down by US military forces near Diego Garcia Navy base.
MH370

Ekaterina Blinova — Marc Dugain, the former Proteus Airlines CEO and reputable French author claims that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could have been shot down by the US military.
"In an article for French magazine Paris Match, he [Marc Dugain] claimed that the Boeing 777 crashed nowhere near where international search teams have been combing the ocean for wreckage, but near an American military base in the British territory of Diego Garcia," the Independent reported.
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MH17 investigation shrouded in secrecy.





"On 17 July 2014 Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine.

Although the precise circumstances were at that point unknown the western media were quick to blame Ukrainian “rebels”.
the initial inquiry group consisted of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia and Belgium.On 8 August 2014 these four investigating nations signed an agreement that the results of the investigation would not be published unless all four countries agreed.

US Embassy in Havana – The Cuba Caper





by Peter Koenig 

The lame duck, Obama, extending a conciliatory hand to Cuba by opening an embassy in Havana, by reopening, after 54 years of a criminal and crippling embargo, diplomatic relations? – At the same time Obama is making not a single concession in terms of lifting the blockade. This smells like a trap. Cuba beware! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ayatollah Khamenei's 6 reasons to prove ISIS serves the U.S. and Israel





There is an undeniable point which is the fact that the takfiri orientation and the governments which support and advocate it move completely in the direction of the goals of arrogance and Zionism. Their work is in line with the goals of America, the colonialist governments in Europe and the government of the usurping Zionist regime.

Certain signs confirm this claim. The takfiri orientation is Islamic on the face of it, but in practice, it is at the service of the great colonialist, arrogant and political orientations that are working against the world of Islam. There are clear signs which cannot be ignored. I would like to mention a few of these signs: one is that the takfiri orientation managed to make the movement of Islamic Awakening deviate from its path. The movement of Islamic Awakening was an anti-American and anti-arrogance movement which was against the elements that America had installed in the region.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

shaitans: Ukrainian Nazis & Chechen Wahabis now appear to be working together (Hizb-Shaitan - AngloZionist Empire)



Khasan Zakaev

Interesting news this morning: Khasan Zakaev, one of the terrorist which organized and executed the 2002 attack against the Dubrovka theater in Moscow and an aid to Shamil Basaev was arrested in Crimea when he tried to enter from the Ukraine with false documents.


I very much doubt that Zakaev wanted to visit Crimea to enjoy the beautiful sights, sample the local cuisine or to relax on the seashore.  Not coming from the Ukraine.  Not with fake documents.  In fact, I would argue that it is pretty darn obvious that if he took the huge risk of entering not just any Russian territory, but a highly monitored and secured one, he was there on a mission.
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Oh how much they hate and fear Russia and Putin



A (well anonymized) anonymous reader sent me a very interesting link today.  It is an opinion piece by Strobe Talbott for Reuters entitled "In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell" in which Talbott predicts that:
The year ahead could see the outbreak of the third Chechen war, which, in turn, could be the death knell of the Russian Federation in its current borders. (...)  For the past five years, the situation has been more or less quiescent, though neighboring republics have been rocked by violence. The lull in Chechnya, however, ended in early December with a series of bloody incidents in the Chechen capital of Grozny.   The group behind the resurgence of unrest is advocating a “Caucasus Caliphate,” with ties to al Qaeda and, more recently, Islamic State. There is at least an indirect tie between outside support for Islamic radicalism in the Caucasus and Putin’s sponsorship of Russian secessionism in eastern Ukraine.   By proclaiming ethnicity and religion as the basis for Russian statehood and aggression against its neighbors, Putin is inadvertently stoking the forces of secessionism in those parts of Russia that are historically and culturally Islamic.

19.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, Serbia ,Bulgaria



The forgotten lady who gave her life for Cuba




There is one specific aspect of the recent thaw between the US and Cuba which nobody has mentioned and that bothers me a lot.


We have all heard about the Cuban 5, the last three of which were now freed and we heard about the Jewish American spy Alan Gross who has now returned to the USA.  The media has also reveled the name of the top US mole in Cuba who had provided the USA with information about the Cuban 5 which lead to their arrest: Rolando Sarraff Trujillo who is now in the USA.  So all is well, and everybody is back home, right?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Is that not the height of stupidity and self-delusion?




Listening to Obama's speech about Cuba I was stunned by the following statements:
After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked.  It’s time for a new approach.  (...) I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.  Moreover, it does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.  Even if that worked -– and it hasn’t for 50 years –- we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.

Crouching sanctions, hidden revenues



by Lev Igorevich 

Dollars for borsch


There is a lot of speculation about the economic health of Russia in the light of tougher sanctions, falling oil prices and tumbling ruble. Concerns are raised whether Russia can afford it’s existence. However, those concerns are paper thin and are presented in more of a mocking spirit, because in most prediction acrobatics, actual revenues of Russian state are not considered at all. Many sources, in their predictions for Russian economy, are repeating the same mistake over and over again. Roughly speaking - assesments are made under the assumption that Russians pay dollars for their borsch. In reality, Russia sells borsch for dollars. This is important point to consider, because Russia pays it’s public sector expenditures (education, healthcare, pensions, police, army etc) in rubles!

Putin on the defensive forced to invest a lot of his personal political capital



Can this nightmare be averted?

Let's begin by what I personally consider bad news: either Putin really believes in liberal market economics or he has to say he does.  He began his Q&A and ended it with a categorical expression of full support for the policies of the Central Bank and its Chairwoman, Nabiulina, and a no less categorical expression of support for the Government and its Prime Minister, Medvedev.  Worse, Putin declared that he believes that market forces will by themselves correct the current disequilibria.  At most, he agreed that certain decisions should have been taken earlier or more forcefully, but that's it.  

Some will love it.  Lew Rockwell went as far as to say that he would hand Elvira Nabiulina the award of "Central Banker of the Year".  Not everybody agrees.  For example, Victor Gerashchenko, a former Chairman of the Central Bank, declared that if he had been in the position of Nabiulina today he would have "asked for a gun to shoot himself".

I have to admit that I personally am dismayed by Putin's apparent beliefs in market economics.  I say 'apparent' because there might be things going on which I am not aware of.  For example, while Putin speaks of "market forces" China seems to get heavily involved in the Russian economic crisis.  For those interested in these developments, please check the following sources:

Free Fall of the Ruble – A brilliant ploy of Russian economic Wizards? Who’s chess game?





by Peter Koenig 

The world is still hell-bent for hydrocarbon-based energy. Russia is the world’s largest producer of energy. Russia has recently announced that in the future she will no longer trade energy in US dollars, but in rubles and currencies of the trading partners. In fact, this rule will apply to all trading. Russia and China are detaching their economies from that of the West. To confirm this decision, in July 2014 Russia’s Gazprom concluded a 400 billion gas deal with China, and in November this year they signed an additional slightly smaller contract – all to be nominated in rubles and yuan. 

18.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, Europe, Germany, USA



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ruble Exchange Rate Fluctuations and the Economic War



by Aleksei Kettunen
Translation to English: Petri Krohn

Russian ruble exchange rate changes have all the ingredients of success detective story. On Monday, 15.12. 2014 ruble weakened to a record low since 1998: the dollar cost 64 rubles and 79 rubles to the euro. In recent years, the price of an euro has been hanging around 50 rubles, or 5 000 rubles withdrawn from an ATM for a night of adventures in St. Petersburg would cost around 100 euros.

Taliban raid Pakistan primary school, kill 80 children



Islamic terror group, the Taliban, around 10 this morning launched a deadly attack on a military-run primary school in Northwestern city of Peshawar in Pakistan, killing 100 people, 80 of them children, according to the BBC. They are also reportedly holding over 100 children hostage. Over 500 students have so far been evacuated.

According to reports, the militants stormed the school's auditorium this morning where the students were learning first aid training from the military and started shooting.

The Russian Central Bank's "counterattack" lasted 30 mins!





The result of the Russian Central Bank's hike in interest rates turned out to be worse then my worst nightmares: it reversed the downward spiral of the Ruble for only about half an hour, then the Russian currency resumed its collapse.  Rumor has it that the Central Bank might begin buying Rubles next, which I personally don't see as useful at this point.

I have asked for expert opinions and I hope to get them soon.  In the meantime, here is my own take on this which, caveat emptor, is backed by ZERO personal expertise in these matters.  Still, for whatever it's worth, my own speculations:

Monday, December 15, 2014

A coup against Putin or a coup BY Putin?



A very interesting question was recently asked by a reader of the French Saker Blog, "FD":
Should we expect a coup AGAINST Putin or a coup BY Putin? Given the power of the pro-USA forces at the top political, intellectual, financial and media circles, will Putin not have to make his own "18 Brumaire"?
This is a very interesting idea because, in a way, it might appear to be, if not a good solution, t

14-15.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Australia



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hypocrisy's Prelude: House Passes New Cold War Resolution





The U.S. House of Representatives is pretty mad at Russia these days, and this week they passed a resolution saying so. In 16 pages of pretty forceful language they explain why: Russia seeks to “establish domination,” “erase independence,” and commit “armed aggression” against “U.S. allies.”
The bill calls on President Barack Obama to “provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

12.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, OSCE, Latvia



QnA: The EU and the Ukraine stand to lose the most from the current US policies against Russia.



QUESTION:

Ukraine is becoming an American/NATO platform with no viable economy, a thoroughly corrupt junta-criminal government.  It has lost most characteristics of a state. We know its economy is no longer functioning. It is on economic life-support.

Q: What in history does this colonization most remind you and what does it present as a permanent platform for the projection of US hegemony right next to Russia?

In the context of US cruise missiles into Poland and 100 US tanks into Latvia, also right on the Russian border, how do you interpret these developments?

India strengthens its strategic partnership with Russia




President Putin visited India on December 11th for the 15th annual Indo-Russian Bilateral Summit. Some interesting agreements were signed, and there are very interesting agreements in the works. According to The Hindu, 

The highlight of the meeting — part of an annual summit between the two countries — was the unveiling of a vision statement on atomic energy cooperation, where Russian nuclear agency ROSATOM and the Department of Atomic Energy and NPCIL have agreed to build at least 12 new reactors supplied by Russia over the next 20 years

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A seminal series of lectures on the US Empire



Dear friends,

It is really a huge joy for me to share with you something which I recently discovered and which I have come to consider the single most interesting and far-reaching series of lectures I have ever heard. Dr John Marciano's "Empire as a Way of Life" (thanks to C. for introducing me to Marciano's work!)

08-09.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, USA



07-08.12.2014 Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, ISIS



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Importance Of The Cancellation Of South Stream by Alexander Mercouris





The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully.

In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.

Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe's great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Most interesting interview of Dmitry Orlov



Monday, December 1, 2014

Interesting QnA Session: Mikhail Khazin Q&A with the Saker Community




Dear friends,

It is a huge pleasure, and honor, for me to present you today with the Q&A between Mikhail Khazin and the Saker Community.  For those who might have missed it, here it is (including a biography of Mr Khazin):

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/10/exclusive-mikhail-khazin-q-with-saker.html

This was truly a massive effort, not only on the part of Mr. Khazin to whom I am immensely grateful for taking the time to reply in detail to so many questions, but also on the part of a lot of volunteers from our community.  In the words of the Russian Saker Team Leader, Marina,

I just wanted to say couple words about the project and our team.

Peña Nieto: Two Years Of Poverty, Corruption, Repression And Impunity



This December 1st marks two years since Enrique Peña Nieto became President of Mexico. 

It has been two years that the main problems facing the Mexican people have worsened: violence, insecurity, impunity, corruption, repression, inequality, poverty, abuse of the powerful, privileges to a minority and exclusion for most. 

The data speak for itself (www.oecd.org): 

According to recent data (2011-2014), 3.9% of people in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report having suffered an assault or theft during the past 12 months. However, there are important differences between countries. Rates of Canada, US, Japan, Poland and the UK are below 2%, but reaching more than 6% in Chile, Israel and Belgium, and 12.8% in Mexico (it is the last place in the OECD rating). 

In the homicide rate (average number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants), Mexico ranks second to last with 23.4 homicides (Brazil is the last place with 25.5)2

In the total score on the security issue (from 0-10), Mexico ranks last in the OECD with a rating of 0.4, while Brazil is the penultimate place with a rating of 2.1 (the first is Japan with 9.9). 

On the revenue Mexico ranks third from the bottom of the OECD with a rating of 0.7, above only of Turkey (0.6) and Brazil (0.1). In household disposable income (the one who earns a family in a year, after taxes), Mexico ranks second to last place with $ 12.850 (Brazil ranks last with $10.310). 

In the overall rating on education Mexico is in last place with 1.2 (after Brazil with 1.9). In the table of the percentage of graduates of upper secondary education between 25 and 64 years, Mexico has a rate of 36.3%, up only from Turkey and Portugal. 

In other areas the rating of Mexico is: housing 3.7 (place 33 of 36); environment 4.5 (place 33 of 36) and health 5.0 (place 31 of 36). 

Mexico has been part of the OECD for 20 years, and in these two decades has not left the last two or three places of the table in the main items measured by this organization, and the situation has remained the same in the two years in office of president Peña Nieto. 

These data demonstrate that after 26 years of neoliberal governments (if we start counting with the government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1988), most of the Mexican population has not seen any improvement in their standard of living, safety, education, health, income, housing and environment. At best, it has remained stagnant for a quarter century, which is said to have been behind compared to other countries. Two and a half decades lost for most of the people of Mexico. 

Economic growth in Mexico is insufficient (the first year of the reign of Peña GDP grew 1.1% and this 2014 will be 2%)3 to give decent jobs to most of the population, and currently 60% of the economically active population works in the informal sector; in addition, according to the OECD, the risk of falling into poverty in Mexico is one of the highest within the organization, because while only between 9 and 11% of the population of OECD countries fall into this risk, for Mexico the percentage is between 19 and 21% (Report All aboard: making inclusive growth possible). For its part, the World Bank has noted that poverty in Mexico affects 52% of the population, a percentage that has not changed in the last 20 years. 

However, the 2014 census for billionaires who makes the Swiss bank UBS (UBS Billionaire Wealth and 2014)4, Mexico was ranked at number 21 among 40 countries with the highest number of billionaires. Adding the resources of the 27 individuals and families considered in the study, together with a combined fortune of 169 billion dollars (14% of GDP in Mexico); in addition the number of billionaires rose from 22 in 2013 to 27 in 2014 (an increase of 23% when the economy does not grow above 2% per year). 

Peña Nieto's government maintains the economic policy that has been implemented in the country for a quarter century, which favors the concentration of economic growth in a minority of plutocrats, who have enough power to decisively influence the political process and therefore the kind of policies that are implemented in the country. 

The governments of the PRI and the PAN5 who have ruled over the last 30 years, have begun welfare policies toward the poor, so that poverty does not overflow uncontrollably, through programs such as "Solidarity" (Salinas), "Opportunities" (the PAN governments) and now "Prospera" (Peña). None have decisively impacted the lives of the majority of the population, and conversely, other policies related to economic policy (removal of subsidies on energy, increased VAT and withdrawal of the state in education and health, leaving the market cater to growing segments of the population in these areas) have nullified the few benefits of such welfare policies. 

With regard to corruption, according to Transparency International (Transparency.org), 52% of the population in Mexico considers that in the last two years has increased "a lot" corruption in the country, and another 19% considers that has increased. Also, 90% believe that the police are corrupt, 87% believe that officials and public servants are also, 91% think so of leaders and leading representatives of political parties and 80% of members of the Judiciary. 

Here it is worth mentioning that the greatest corruption scandal just give out in the country in the month of November this year, when CNN in Spanish reporter, Carmen Aristegui, through her website Aristeguinoticias.com, announced that president Peña’s wife, former actress of the T.V. consortium Televisa, Angelica Rivera, owns two properties valued at more than $7 million in one of the most expensive areas of Mexico City (Lomas de Chapultepec), and that in one of them had just built a huge mansion (now known as "the White House of las Lomas")6, through the construction company TEYA belonging to GRUPO HIGA, owned by businessman Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantu. 

Cantu Hinojosa’s companies were during the government of Peña Nieto in the State of Mexico (2005-2011), the most favored in public works contracts (almost 2 billion dollars), and during the presidential campaign of Peña Nieto, Hinojosa Cantu rented his private planes to Peña for his travels. 

Cantu Hinojosa and his HIGA Group was the group associated with China Railway Construction Group, a Chinese company that won the contract to build the fast train between Mexico and Queretaro, with an estimated investment of more than 50 billion pesos ($3600 million), being the only company that was registered in the public bid for the concession to build the railway. 

Shortly before traveling to China to the APEC Summit, Peña Nieto revoked the concession to the company, since it was learned that it was about to be released information about the properties of his wife, and the relationship of these properties with the construction company of Cantu Hinojosa. 

Following this scandal, the president's wife, Angelica Rivera, who was an actress for 23 years in Televisa (before marrying Peña Nieto in 2010), was forced to disclose the country, through television, how she acquired these expensive properties. 

The explanation was that Televisa paid a "settlement" of her contract for 88 million pesos ($6,285,000), and thus was able to acquire her first property in Las Lomas; while the second, which is on one side of it, she is buying it to the construction company TEYA in monthly installments (until now, she has paid 14 million pesos). 

The "explanation" of Mrs. Rivera (who made it in a scolding tone and "outrage" because her integrity was questioned) was a disaster, because in Mexico everyone knows that Televisa came to "rescue" Peña Nieto, and that the quid pro quo with Hinojosa was evident, who many believe "paid" the contract award of the fast train (and perhaps earlier contracts in the State of Mexico, or other future ones under President Peña presidency) with the mansion. 

In any case, if Televisa "paid" that fabulous sum to an actress who nobody in Mexico consider her one of the most famous and important of the country (the highest sum Televisa paid for a multiyear contract went to Gloria Trevi, and only were 8 million pesos)7, it was not for services rendered to the company, but as part of the "buy" that this company made of the services of the new husband of Mrs. Rivera (as described in detail in the film of recent release, La Dictadura Perfecta – The Perfect Dictatorship-, where the filmmaker Luis Estrada describes how a large television consortium in Mexico manufactures the candidacy of a corrupt and mafia governor, and takes him to the presidency of the Republic). 

With regard to violations of human rights, the government of Peña is now being questioned nationally and internationally, as was the one of Calderon Hinojosa (2006-2012). 

The involvement of governments, police and members of the armed forces with organized crime has reached intolerable levels, even for a very condescending and permissive Mexican society on this issue, as the case of the 43 students in the rural normal Ayotzinapa8 that were kidnapped by municipal police of Iguala and Cocula (state of Guerrero) and delivered to the cartel hitmen known as Guerreros Unidos, to be tortured and killed, was the straw that broke the camel and sparked nationwide protests and protests from international organizations and NGOs around the world. 

Also the Tlatlaya (State of Mexico) event has impacted heavily on the government of Peña Nieto, since in June 30, 2014 a group of military massacred 22 young in a cellar of the municipality, arguing that they were criminals. 

At first both the state government and the federal government, supported the version of the Army, that the youth died during a "confrontation" and the much discredited National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) endorsed this version. 

However, it had to be a US magazine, named Esquire, who took statements from several witnesses, which revealed what had really happened: an execution by the Army battalion who participated in these events. It was only then (September) that the case was resumed by the Attorney General's Office and the CNDH, leading to the arrest of 7 military who participated in this massacre. 

Both cases, the Ayotzinapa-Iguala and the one of Tlatlaya, and the one of the "white house of Las Lomas" have cornered the government of Peña Nieto, who has started to react violently to the just demands of the Mexican society, not only for clarify and punish these acts of impunity and corruption, but to change a rotten system that only serves the interests of politicians and business groups obscenely rich, who do not care about the fate of the majority of Mexicans. 

Thus, Peña began to change the narrative about the demands of the people for justice9, to the condemnation of "violent" groups of hooded men, whom during demonstrations by the case of Ayotzinapa, burned public buildings in Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca and set fire to the front door of the National Palace in Mexico City (these persons could be professional provocateurs paid by the same federal government). 

Thus, Peña Nieto and his cabinet members (Secretaries of the Interior, National Defense and the Navy) and the head of government of the Federal District (the Maxico City Mayor), have been trying to turn the situation, noting that the real problem is "the violent groups" who do not want peace and attack the rule of law. 

They accuse them of trying to "destabilize" the government, and hence them being the main threat to the country; when the vast majority of the population has been demonstrated peacefully and is demanding a thorough clean of a corrupt political system, linked to the drug cartels and promoting a "crony capitalism", where only those close to political power and the small group of plutocrats who dominates the economy (with their transnational allies), have all the privileges and guarantees, while the people suffer from poverty and repression. 

On November 20 (the day the start of the Mexican Revolution is commemorated), thousands of people, families, young, old, women and children marched peacefully to the Zocalo (main square) of Mexico City, demanding justice for the 43 Ayotzinapa missing. 

After the demonstration, when there were still several thousand people in the Zocalo, hundreds of federal and Mexico city police attacked the crowd, without provocation, beating and abusing all people in their path, with the obvious intent to terrorize protesters and give a lesson to the people who want to express their dissatisfaction and complaints. 

Eleven people were unjustly arrested and have now been imprisoned in distant prisons of Mexico City, which is triggering a new movement for their release. A large group of intellectuals and personalities are starting a movement to demand their release and punishment for the authorities responsible for this brutal repression. 

Peña Nieto and Miguel Angel Mancera (head of government of Mexico City)10, have pointed out that the actions of the authorities were “correct” and they do not think to rectify. 

So the government response is hardening, because it has no substantive responses to the demands of the population, and although these days Peña will propose the signing of a "pact" to the legality and the rule of law (one of several that have been signed in recent years and have remained on paper), the reality is that his government has demonstrated its repressor mood, tarnished by corruption, abusive and subordinate to Mexican billionaires and large transnational corporations, which will deepen the great national problems and eventually will cause a violent awakening of the dispossessed of Mexico. 
-------
Notes:
1 independent political analyst (analisispolitico-rgarrido.blogspot.mx). Mexican government civil servant for 20 years (1988-2008); national journalism award 1989 (club of journalists of mexico). Internationalist (national autonomous university of mexico). Contact: rgarrido63@yahoo.com 
2 Although Brazil is not part of the OECD, there is an agreement to include statistics in studies of the organization. 
3 Bancomundial.org 
4 Billionairecensus.com 
5 Revolutionary Institutional Party (center-right) and Action Nacional Party (right). 
6 “The design of the residence was in charge of Mexican architect Miguel Angel Aragones and his photos are still exhibited in www.aragones.com.mx, entitled Casa La Palma.The blueprint of the house is available on the website archdaily.com, bearing the logo of Aragon and located on the street Sierra Gorda. They also show a date: October 2010, a month before Peña Nieto and Rivera got married "(Aristeguinoticias.com)
7 Regeneración.mx 
8 See State Crime in Iguala, Guerrero (Mexico), by Rolando Garrido, article appeared in The Vineyard of the Saker (Vineyardsaker.blogspot.com) last October 18. 
9 Recall that in Mexico, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI.org.mx), crimes go unreported and unpunished reach 95%. That is 95 out of 100 crimes in the country go unpunished. 
10 Linked to the leftist and discredited Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), who postulated and sheltered the mafioso mayor of Iguala José Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda, and the ousted governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre. Mancera is linked to a group of businessmen who control public works of the Federal District, which have been enriched with concessions such as the imposition of parking meters in thousands of streets and with contracts for building works, poorly made in the roads of the city; also they have managed to change the "land use" of residential areas to build malls and office buildings. Just 26 November PRD founder and three-time presidential candidate (1988, 1994 and 2000), C. Cárdenas resigned from the party for all these scandals.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Read about Ladi Kwali: The woman on the ₦20 note



 If you know any great Nigerian history please share with the rest of us. Below is the history of Ladi Kwali, the woman on the N20 note...

Nigeria's best known potter who was awarded a Doctorate and was made MBE in 1963 for the level of detail and skill she utilized while making her pots.
Ladi Dosei Kwali (1925-1983) popularly known as Dr Ladi Kwali was born in 1925 in Kwali town in the present Federal Capital Territory, Abuja,Nigeria.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Missouri Governor Calls for More Funding for Police Amid Ferguson Protests




National Guard and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are playing a critical role in keeping people safe and protecting property in the St. Louis region, the office of Missouri governor said.
Protesters are taken into custody Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon intends to provide critical funding for Missouri National Guard and Missouri State Highway Patrol to continue their operations in Ferguson and the St. Louis region, the office of Missouri governor said.
Nixon will call a special session of the Missouri General Assembly to ensure that the members of the Missouri National Guard are paid before December 15, the office of Missouri governor reported late Friday.

Up to 13,000 Potential Victims of Modern Slavery in UK: Home Office



© FOTOLIA/ RAFAEL BEN-ARI
Children Increasingly Fall Victim to Human Trafficking: United Nations

Professor Bernard Silverman has estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK.
The report shows there is no place in the world where children, women and men are safe from human trafficking, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said.



NATO Determined to Weaken Russia at Its Western Borders, Expert Says





Is NATO really seeking a “more constructive relationship with Russia”? Radio Sputnik is discussing it with Lindsey German, Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, and Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, Publisher and Editor of Politics First magazine
Speaking at the Amari air base during his visit to Estonia Thursday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "There is no contradiction between being in favor of a… firm policy from NATO and at the same time aspiring for a more constructive relationship with Russia. … We urge them [Russia and the separatists] to be part of a peaceful solution," he said.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Official - China Recognises Crimean Referendum





 By Alexander Mercouris

"OFFICIAL - CHINA RECOGNISES CRIMEAN REFERENDUM"

This is the clear meaning of the statement TASS reports that a senior official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has made. 

The fact that China recognises the Crimean referendum means that de facto (and surely before long de jure) China has recognised Crimea's unification with Russia.  Note also that the official has expressed support for Russia's Ukrainian policy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Biden in Ukraine, War Surely to Follow




US Vice President Joe Biden's plane has touched down in the Ukrainian capitol to meet with US-backed president, Petro Poroshenko, and prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. If the past is prologue, we should expect a full-fledged assault by Kiev on the breakaway eastern part of the country to begin at anytime.

Biden's last trip to Ukraine was in April, where he told unelected post-coup prime minister Yatsenyuk that "You will not walk this road alone. We will walk it with you." Within days of Biden's assurance of support, Kiev's offensive on eastern Ukraine markedly intensified. Soon thereafter, artillery shells fell on densely-populated civilian centers killing hundreds at a dramatically increased rate.

ST

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