In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.
By Margarita Menshikova, translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
On the day before Good Friday (Orthodox), Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported at the Kremlin to President Vladimir Putin that at Mariupol, inside the Azovstal steel works, about two thousand troops remain underground, including foreigners. Putin issued the following order: “There is no need to penetrate these catacombs and crawl under these industrial facilities. Seal off the industrial zone completely.”
Four days earlier on April 17, the Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov told the press that “up to four hundred foreign mercenaries were trapped [at Azovstal]… Most of them are citizens of European countries, as well as Canada. We have already reported earlier that radio conversations between militants in Mariupol are conducted in six foreign languages”
Today, an unusually detailed report by the Moscow internet broadcaster Tsargrad was published to signal the strategic significance and political value of the NATO officers in their command bunker under Azovstal.
If you understand the war in the Ukraine as the US operation to fight to the last Ukrainian for as long as required to save the Democrats at the November election and conceal the most incapacitated president since Woodrow Wilson’s stroke in October 1919, how well is it going?
And if you understand the war as the Russian operation to defeat the NATO attack against Russia through the Ukraine, and its neighbours, what is the parallel answer?
In Washington, the war has steadied President Joseph Biden’s falling approval rating. If not for the war, Biden’s job approval on inflation and jobs, the direction of the country, and immigration would be crushing the small hope remaining that the Democrats can stave off the loss of both the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 8, and preserve their defence against the rising approval for Donald Trump’s re-run for the presidency in 2024. Biden is desperate for Ukrainian and Russian blood to keep flowing; and European too, if need be.
Score the war the best the Americans can hope for right now — but they have only six months left.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin and the Stavka have completed their reassessment of Phase-1 of the campaign. As Putin told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in his report on the Battle of Mariupol on Thursday, “we have to prioritize preserving the lives and health of our soldiers and officers…. There is no need to penetrate these [Azovstal] catacombs and crawl under these industrial facilities. Seal off the industrial zone completely.” Putin explicitly identified the same territorial objectives as he had announced them on February 24 — “our people in Donbass [to] live in peace and to enable Russia, our country, to live in peace.”
Score the war according to the Russian plan — also according to the clock.
Putin has just stretched the time for the American, Canadian and other NATO officers directing the war from their Azovstal bunker to take Marshal Friedrich Paulus’s way out of Stalingrad – surrender, not suicide; then on trial testify to the war crimes of their commanders-in-chief.
Russians blame Americans, not Ukrainians, for the war, according to a new countrywide poll – and not Americans personally, but the US Government and US officials. Race hatred of Russians of the kind broadcast by the Anglo-American, European and Ukrainian media, is not reciprocated by the Russians towards their accusers.
“Tell me, please, Grandpa,” the little boy asked the Red Army veteran, “what does a war economy mean and how is it different from now?”
“Well, Yegorushka,” replied the old man, “our beloved President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin explained just this week: ‘I think commonsense should prevail, after all is said and done. And this is my great hope.’”
“But if the Americans want us to starve to death,” the little boy looked quizzical. “What does commonsense mean?”
It’s a mark of civilized people that they keep and honour their old things. When the things are broken, they put the pieces back together again.
In the 19th century rural Americans of northeast states like Pennsylvania did this with their old tablecloths, dresses, and curtains, turning the remnants into patchwork quilts. Starting several hundred years earlier, the Japanese, having to live in an earthquake zone, had the idea of restoring broken ceramic dishes, cups, and pots. Instead of trying to make the repairs seamless and invisible, they invented kintsugi (lead image) – this is the art of filling the fracture lines with lacquer, and making of the old thing an altogether new one.
Quite quickly, the Japanese turned cheap lacquer fillings (urushi) into gold (kintsugi) and silver (gintsugi). In this way, a frugal custom of the poor working classes turned into conspicuous consumption of the rich leisure classes.*
The Ukraine is a new thing. Depending on which region, language, religion, class, and ideology is displayed, it’s newness and oldness are disputable. New or old, however, the civil war in the Ukrainian east since 2014, Russia’s special military operation since February 24, and the US war — currently directed by US officers in the tunnels under the Azovstal factory — to destroy Russia in a fight to the last Ukrainian mean that the country cannot be put back together again the way it was. The Ukraine will have to be repaired and the damage replaced.
Kintsugi requires gold filling for the repaired cracks (lead image). This may not be quite the Ukrainian outcome the Americans, their German and British allies are insisting on, but they must contend with the Russian plan after the battlefield operations of Phase 2 are completed. This, according to a Moscow source who knows it, is that the Ukraine will be destroyed and preserved in that state. “They don’t need to patch it,” the source says, “they need to keep it broken.”
Now that the US and the NATO allies have taken from the Russian oligarchs their cash in foreign banks, their mansions, their boats and planes, and blocked the export of all private and corporate Russian capital abroad, Russia is freer to decide how to organize the capital investment of the economy. Freer, that’s to say, than Russia was when the Bush, then Clinton Administration installed Boris Yeltsin and his cronies in the Kremlin at the end of 1991; destroyed the parliament in 1993, and rigged Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996.
Freer too than Russia has been under Vladimir Putin’s policy of deoffshoreization – that policy fell through a loophole in 2015. The price of their combined failures over thirty years has been more than one trillion dollars. That’s the sum of Russian capital outflow which started in 1992 and accelerated since 2000.
In the calculation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Russia has been the only example in the world of an economy in which domestic economic growth has failed to reverse capital outflow, and to attract capital to return. Privatization in Russia has also been unique because it has accelerated the rate of outflow of domestic funds, enlarging the gap between domestic outflow and foreign inflow. Predictably, this has led to the accumulation of a bigger Russian capital economy offshore than the domestic capital economy (except for housing); and a level of inequality of incomes which is today worse for Russians than it was during the last decade of tsarist rule ending in the world war and the revolution of 1917.
Not so predictably, under the conditions of the war of the US and its allies to confiscate the offshore economy and destroy the domestic economy entirely, the Russian revolution of 2022 has commenced. It has begun with the passage through the State Duma last week of the new law to terminate all Russian share listings on foreign exchanges, and reorganize the Moscow stock exchange accordingly. Entitled “On Amendments to the Federal Law On Joint Stock Companies and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation”, and running for 22 pages, the revolution doesn’t start until Article 4 on page 14, buried under a series of articles revising the regulations for public company audits and accounts.
Also buried in the revolutionary new law is Section 9 of Article 6 on page 20. This provides the Russian government with the discretionary power to issue exceptions to the new law and allow foreign share listings, circulation and trade of securities for Russian companies which apply.
The Russian revolution of 2022 has a gaping loophole.
The allegation that the Russian leadership in Moscow ordered its soldiers to take a lethal nerve agent called Novichok to England and kill Sergei Skripal began on March 4, 2018, in the offices of the British prime ministry and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).
Skripal himself and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, are the only direct witnesses of the alleged crime, of who committed it, what weapon was used, and what happened. Their names appear on the indictments and arrest warrants of the Crown Prosecution Service, and in statements to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister accusing Russian military intelligence agency officers of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, use and possession of Novichok, and causing grievous bodily harm.
For four years the Skripals have not been allowed by the British authorities to testify freely and in public. Sergei Skripal has not been heard or seen by his family members on a telephone for almost three years. Yulia Skripal has not been heard or seen on the telephone for a year and a half. Sergei Skripal may be dead; both of them may be in prison.
Can they, did they, of their own free will recently communicate directly with a London lawyer named Adam Chapman (lead image, right), and request him to represent them in the official public inquiry, an investigation of the Novichok allegations opened last month by Lord Anthony Hughes, a retired judge (2nd from left)?
Are Chapman and Hughes the first public witnesses in four years that the Skripals are alive, well, free, and able to communicate without control or coercion?
Through his principal legal advisor Martin Smith (3rd left), Hughes was asked to say what he knows. His answers were given late yesterday. Judge what these answers mean, if anything.
The public inquiry opened in London on March 17 by Lord Anthony Hughes to investigate allegations of the Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess in July 2018 will employ a secret lawyer to make sure Sergei and Yulia Skripal will not appear; will not answer questions in public; and will not reveal what they know to challenge the British government’s version of the Novichok plot perpetrated by Russian assassins acting on Kremlin orders.
Adam Chapman was appointed last week by Hughes, who is heading the public inquiry which has replaced the inquest into the death of Sturgess, allegedly from Novichok poisoning. The official document naming Chapman and his London law firm Kingsley Napley was published on April 4.
Chapman is currently absent from his office on sabbatical leave; he and two of his assistants, Jo Dorling and Katie Baker, do not respond to emails. Chapman, the assistants, and the spokesman for the Kingsley Napley firm, Michael Rosen, refuse to confirm that Chapman has met with the Skripals or communicated with them in any fashion. The lawyers have not verified that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal or both of them want Chapman as their representative in the Hughes investigation. The first public witnesses aren’t expected to testify in front of Hughes until 2023.
The government’s payment to Chapman to act for the Skripals makes it appear they are alive and not in prison. Chapman’s secretiveness indicates otherwise. Speaking this week for Chapman and Kingsley Napley, Rosen said: “we will not be commenting on this matter.”
We now have a first-class international crisis on hand — a man-made crisis of the kind that comes once in millennia and causes empires to fall.
We may not, as some observers put it, be witnessing a world war. But we are certainly braving a “war of the world”. Though the guns have not yet fallen silent, a new world order is already here. While the war is taking place in Ukraine, which for centuries has been a battlefield between European and Russian armies, the real conflict is between the United States, its allies and Russia. US and NATO leaders have repeatedly stated that the western military alliance NATO has never been more united than it is now.
Students of history and international relations will ponder through history to judge whether the Russian invasion of Ukraine was avoidable and why, despite its enormous power, the United States and Europe did not come to Ukraine’s aid. President Putin had conducted reluctant diplomacy last year with President Joe Biden over Ukraine’s “de facto” NATO militarisation; claimed continuing violation of Minsk agreements over the status of Donbass; Putin repeated the warnings he has been making for nearly fifteen years that NATO’s eastward expansion would lead to a conflict. Western weapons, trainers and military experts have been making a beeline for Ukraine for the last eight years since the 2014 violent regime change which ousted the pro-Russia President of Ukraine from Donbass and set the stage for this conflict.
This is not, repeat not, the tar baby story of the Afro-Americans and American Indians. The US and NATO allies aren’t the fox, Russia isn’t the rabbit, except that the Ukraine is the tar baby.
The reason US commanders were confident Russia would move into the Ukraine when they did was that they made certain the Russian General Staff understood that if they failed to move west, they would be attacked themselves east across the Ukraine front, north against Belgorod and Voronezh, south against Crimea and Rostov; and at the same time the US would launch its blitzkrieg to destroy the Russian economy. The Ukrainian plan of land attack was the feint; the sanctions war was the main thrust at Moscow.
In last year’s manual of what is called the Russian Strategic Initiative of the US European Command in Stuttgart, the Russian Army’s strategy of “active defense” was reported to start with “preventative measures taken before a conflict breaks out, to deter it”. Thereafter would follow “a defensive-offense that envisions persistent engagement of an opponent throughout the theatre of military action to include critical infrastructure in their homeland, executing strategic operations that affect an adversary’s ability or will to sustain the struggle.” Aiming at “achieving surprise, decisiveness and continuity of strategy action”, the US command has been expecting Russian “warfighting defined by fire, strike and maneuver where tactical formations engage each other at distance”.
The Russian “calculus”, according to US Army figuring, “is that the center of gravity lies in degrading a state’s military and economic potential, not seizing territory.”
Since the war plan for the US to destroy Russia required eight years of fitting out the Ukraine as a gunship, what has been surprising in the first phase of the war? What can be anticipated to happen next in Phase 2, then Phase 3, and Phase 4 – that’s the long war President Biden, Chancellor Scholz, and Prime Minister Johnson think they can sustain in the belief the Russians cannot?
By Yevgeny Krutikov, Daria Volkova, and Alyona Zadorozhnaya. Moscow – translatedby John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
Large units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass will be cut into pieces, and then destroyed.
Russian troops, as well as units of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), are moving towards each other from the north, east and south, and will soon be able to close a huge cauldron in which the 50,000-man Donbass group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) will be. These are the most trained units of the Ukrainian army – they have been in the combat zone since 2014, well trained and strengthened. But only the defeat of the AFU in the Donbass will allow us to solve other military and political tasks in Ukraine. How will the offensive develop?
Roman Abramovich (lead image left) is the most indiscreet back-channel, flaunting go-between in the history of secret diplomacy. The Russian oligarch, now a citizen of Israel and Portugal, could not have made himself more visible this week at the Istanbul round of negotiations between Russia and the Ukraine than if he had danced for the cameras in a jester’s costume with ninny stick and bells.
According to the Turkish protocol in the conference room on March 29, the businessman whom a decade ago Boris Berezovsky accused of cheating him out of a fortune, and then out of the judgement of the High Court in London,* was seated as President Vladimir Putin’s personal advisor next to Ibrahim Kalin, President Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s advisor.
That was the Turkish signal that Abramovich outranked the official Russian delegation which included a Kremlin staff assistant, a deputy foreign minister, a deputy defence minister, an ambassador, and a member of the State Duma. Erdogan (lead image, 2nd from left) sent a second signal of Arbamovich’s seniority when he and his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, posed talking with him ahead of the other Russian negotiators.
Two days later in Moscow on March 30, in a letter to the Foreign Ministry, Sergei Obukhov, a leader of the Russian Communist Party and State Duma deputy, requested “information about the status [in the Istanbul negotiations] of the famous Russian-speaking oligarch and today’s citizen of Portugal and Israel.”
Reflecting the hostile reaction in Moscow, Obukhov asked if “the Foreign Minister of Russia is planning to involve in participation [in the negotiations with the Ukraine] other Russian-speaking oligarchs, for example MB Khodorkovsky, MM Fridman, PO Aven, and others like Abramovich, who have their own interest in relation to the special military operation for demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. And does MiD [Foreign Ministry] of Russia have the plan or the intention of involving for participation in the negotiations people who represent patriotic parties and social organisations who introduce the interest of the state-supporting Russian people who are recognised for their firm stance in the protection of the national state interests of historical Russia.”
Ukrainian officials have also attacked Abramovich’s involvement in the negotiations, suggesting he had bribed his way into the talks to save himself from US sanctions. “I don’t know if he’s buying his way out somehow or if he’s really useful, that’s very difficult to tell,” the BBC reported the Ukrainian ambassador to London as saying. The Murdoch press in New York have claimed Abramovich had persuaded Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky to lobby in Washington for sanctions relief on his behalf.
The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.
It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.
Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.
Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points, want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.
“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification, his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”
The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island, was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.
It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.
Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”. The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.
But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.
Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits, LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”
Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”. “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added, diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February. Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace Morawiecki next year.
The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45; and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption, and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .
“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June, “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”
“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”
The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.
The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.
Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha by the Black Sea in Abkhazia. Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.
Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel. As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him. “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”
In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.
Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.
There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.
There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.
Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers. In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.
Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.
How little the Germans have changed.
But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.” By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”
So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.
China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.
The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.
In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022, is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.
There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself. Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”
This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.
The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.
Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age, after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.
After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster history to be her own joke.
Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself. This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.
In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English: the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.
The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British. Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating. The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin BlueLine (d. 1996).
The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion), Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok) are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences. The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.
Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money. “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.
By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.
The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.
Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.
China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years. The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.
So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.
The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).
A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester, he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018, claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.
Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”
Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.
After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.
The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.”
Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.
New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.
Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes, it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.