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By John Helmer, Moscow

Like you, I have been a frequent commercial airplane flyer for years. I don’t have a bone break or concussion to report from airplane or airport handling, though like you too, my luggage has suffered that, and worse. My teeth are falling out from natural causes. I have not been beaten up for insisting on my legal right to an aircraft seat I have paid for. But I have been the target of threatened violence by British Airways crews; arrest by personnel of Heathrow airport and Olympic Airways; abuse by female Qantas passengers who don’t know what decompression does to their infants’ ears; and Afghans without socks and shoes on Emirates Airline flights.

Through it all, my experience in flying has convinced me the two best airlines to fly if you are an economy-class passenger are Aeroflot and Cathay Pacific, the first because it is state owned, and second because it is Chinese. More of what this means after you fasten your safety belt and make sure your seat backs and folding trays are in the full upright position. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was telling the Russians and the US state press yesterday to stop hacking into American politics, sitting beside him was a former US Navy signals officer and  lawyer named Margaret Peterlin (lead image, red circle). Peterlin’s job for the last two years was managing a Boston company specializing in cyber warfare weapons, including the latest in US computer programmes to mimic foreign hackers and convince US  targets they have been hacked by Russians. Peterlin was also an advisor to Donald Trump during the presidential transition. Her targets then included Hillary Clinton and her campaign organization. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

US Government officials and the official US media have wound up their meetings in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin with one unexpected admission, one unprecedented demand, and a non-disclosure by the Kremlin which has never happened before. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

How to rule a country which is a target of war by the mad figurehead of a military junta in another country?  

This is not a historical question about Joseph Stalin’s options in August 1939, before he and Adolph Hitler decided on the time-buying ruse known as the German–Soviet Non-aggression Pact.  Nor is this a current question about Bashar al-Assad and Syria, nor about Kim Jong-un and North Korea. 

It’s the question President Vladimir Putin is obliged to ask about Russia’s options facing a US regime in which, as the Kremlin now acknowledges, a military junta has installed itself behind President Donald Trump. “We have seen this all before”, Putin declared yesterday. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It is well-known that the only certain method for diagnosing the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease is a post-mortem examination of slides of brain tissue. You have to be dead to be certain.

In the case of President Ronald Reagan, in 1987 the cognitive explorer G. B. Trudeau (lead images) anticipated by 28 years the report by a group of Arizona State University researchers that there were early speech symptoms of the deterioration in Reagan’s brain, though they were not diagnosed as Alzheimer’s until 1994; and Reagan didn’t himself die of the disease until 2004. The report from the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, entitled “Tracking Discourse Complexity Preceding Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis: A Case Study Comparing the Press Conferences of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush”, can be read here.  

Last August, Trudeau warned,  three months before the presidential election won by Donald Trump, that “whatever else this election is about, it’s primarily a referendum on mental health.” The first diagnosis of Trump’s symptoms in office — reduction in the number of unique words, increase in conversational fillers and non-specific nouns  —  occurred this week, when a group of researchers from a London publication reported  they had found in Trump “tentative signs that there is more method in the madness”.  (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

How is it possible for a 25-minute meeting to cause Lionel Barber (lead picture, centre), current editor of the Financial Times, to report “one of the most fascinating interviews I have conducted during my 32-year career at the FT”, concluding with this last line:  “there are tentative signs that there is more method in the madness than critics suspect”?

Barber was talking about meeting President Donald Trump (front, right), in which almost nothing was said by Trump which had not been reported before — except for a threat of US missile attack on North Korea’s nuclear weapons depots and missile-firing sites. Trump’s threat, as transcribed by Barber, was “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you. [And do you think you can solve it without China’s help?]  Totally.” Trump may not have said or meant this. That’s because, the newspaper qualifies,  “this is an abridged transcript that has been edited for clarity.”

One US war target Trump was more or less clear about in Barber’s interview: he omitted to mention Russia or President Vladimir Putin. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

There have been many, many advertisements for the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, but none as alluring as those he composed and performed for himself.

Now that he has died, and his body is to return this week from Oklahoma for burial near Moscow, there will be many more advertisements. Some will be eloquent for not turning him into the crude symbolism which marred much of his poetry and the Russian intelligentsia from which he came, and which continues to discredit itself a little bit more each year since 1991.  Better to remember Yevtushenko’s beautiful blue eyes, and his taste for clown costumes on and off stage.  

(more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Interview broadcast by Global Research Radio News Hour, with Michael Welch, from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Click to listen

Interview starts at Min. 7:23; ends at Min. 29

And click to listen to the second broadcast on April 7:

Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki has been the commander of the Canadian military mission in western Ukraine since March. The location of his Canadian base at Starichy is as far west as it’s possible to be from the war front in the Donbass, before the Canadians would be camping on Polish soil.

Like Chrystia Freeland (lead image), Canada’s Foreign Minister, Colonel Lubiniecki’s family is from this region known as Galicia (also as Volhynia). Instead of training local soldiers and giving speeches at cadet graduation ceremonies in Ukraine, Lubiniecki should be called back to Canada to explain what he is doing, and for whose benefit. Is the Canadian colonel training Galicians to fire rocket-propelled grenades at Polish targets? (more…)

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New broadcast by Chris Cook with John Helmer, Victoria, B.C., Canada

Click to listen   

Interview starts at Minute 36:40

“Question: Is Putin’s political obituary in the western press a little premature? Answer: There’s been no conception, no baby here, no bath water.” (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Paying bribes to your enemies to switch sides and become your friends is as old as monkeys and men (and women).  As gang and warfighting strategies have evolved, corruption with money was always to be preferred to force with arms because corruption is much cheaper, and the results more predictable, at least in the short run.

A new book on corruption in the former Soviet states of Central Asia provides a handy reckoner of the colossal sums of money which have been exchanged to sustain the ruling regimes, or to change them.  Alexander Cooley’s  and John Heathershaw’s “Dictators Without Borders, Power and Money  in Central Asia”, just published  by Yale University Press, is also an encyclopedia of palaces owned in the UK, France and the US by the rulers of the Central Asian states and their hangers-on; the names and fates of the principal opposition leaders in exile from those states; a dossier of renditions, arrests, and assassinations carried out by the Uzbek and Tajik security services abroad; and case studies of the billion-dollar larcenies of the Kazakh and Kyrgyz bankers, Mukhtar Ablyazov and Maxim Bakiyev;  of the Uzbek heiress Gulnara Karimova; and of the Tajikistan Aluminium Company (Talco) controlled by the Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.

The new book is also a valuable balancer on the side of independent research and antidote for the propaganda to be found from US and UK Government-funded think-tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment,   Brookings Institution, Freedom House, and Chatham House. (more…)