DERIPASKA AND LAWYER ASKED FOR WARRANTY AGAINST RECEIVING STOLEN GOODS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska demanded, and received from Roman Abramovich, a warranty that in his takeover of Rusal shares, he wasn’t buying stolen goods. Testimony by Deripaska’s London lawyer, Paul Hauser, followed in the UK High Court last week with details which Deripaska himself claimed in his testimony he couldn’t remember at all.

The testimony ought to revise, dramatically, the history of the so-called Russian aluminium wars. Until now, it has been accepted that those who ended up with the goods bravely fought off gangs of primitive thieves and homicidal thugs acting on their own initiative.
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DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN ON BLACK, US REPORT OF THE END-GAME AIMS AT SARKOZY, KEEPS OBAMA OFF THE BOARD

By John Helmer, Moscow

In May, when not a single head of a government holding a seat on the board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dared say what he thought about the criminal case against managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said: “it really is hard to believe that everything is as it was initially presented. I just can’t believe that – it is beyond me to understand it.”

It’s a safe bet at this point in time, looking back, that Putin was pretty sure there was a plot against DSK; and that he believed that French and American government officials were in on it. But note — it’s easier to speculate the French were; easier to prove the Americans were.
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OFFSHORE SEQUEL — RASHNIKOV PAYS DOUBLE THE MARKET PRICE TO BUY AUSTRALIAN IRON-ORE PROJECT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Early this morning, November 25, Flinders Mines announced that Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), owned by Victor Rashnikov, has signed a full takeover offer, proposing to buy all 1.8 billion Flinders Mines shares (including options) on issue at 30 Australian cents. This values the company at A$546.3 million (US$530 million) — a premium of 82% to the share price and market capitalization of the company on November 22, before the offer was announced; and at double the value of Flinders Mines three months ago. The MMK offer will also provide $10 million for the share options claimed by Flinders Mines managers who commissioned the Citi banking group in September to look for candidates to buy them out.
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TARTS AND TOFFS – ALEXANDER LEBEDEV’S LONDON NEWSPAPER TARTS UP THE BANANA BUSINESS OF VLADIMIR KEKHMAN

By John Helmer, Moscow

If you could make more money turning bananas into ballet, it’s likely that you couldn’t do it in places where the supply of bananas is plentiful and the price cheap, but the demand for ballet non-existent. But what if in places where the supply of ballet dancers is large and their unit price low, you can use banana sales revenue to kick start a business, where the profit target is a brand-name like the Bolshoi Theatre?
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FOR THE CAT’S AMUSEMENT — RUSSIA’S FUTURE IS ON THE LINE (LEASH)

By John Helmer, Moscow

To gauge the future welfare of Russia and the Russians, nothing is more telling than the Cat Test.

Michel de Montaigne (left) originated it in one of his 16th century essays, when he wrote: “When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.” The name of Montaigne’s cat isn’t known. In any event, what he meant didn’t refer to a real-life cat. A hypothetical one would have done just as well, as Montaigne was making his point, not about cats, but about men. His point was: what if what we think about ourselves is insignificant, compared to what others think of us? In short, the Cat Test is a measurement of our capacity to think reciprocally.
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW – MAKE THAT ABRAMOVICH’S COOK, HERR SPONRING

By John Helmer, Moscow

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently conceded that the oligarchs who were running Russia behind the shaking hand and raddled brain of Boris Yeltsin had caused such chaos, Putin was obliged to use what he called “manual control” to recover the country. The evidence given last week in the UK High Court trial of Berezovsky v Abramovich reveals what Abramovich got up to outside Russia, when he thought he was safe from Kremlin supervision – holidays, airplane rides, limousine and helicopter trips between seaside villas and ski chalets, lots of them. That is according to Christian Sponring, the Austrian cook who became Abramovich’s major domo, and after fourteen years, still is.
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EVEN IF US MARINES CAN DIG IRON-ORE AND COKING COAL, WHO WILL BUY IT? SUPPOSE CHINA WERE TO TELL AUSTRALIA IT PREFERS RUSSIAN MINES FOR ITS RAW MATERIALS

By John Helmer, Moscow

The share price of OM Holdings (OMH:U), one of the few pure manganese miners in the world to be listed on an international stock exchange, fell 9% the day after the Australian and US governments signed a new military pact, inviting 2,500 US Marines to a base in Darwin, and threatening China with as yet undisclosed new military measures. OMH’s manganese is mined in Australia, and that’s where its share is listed also. But its control shareholders are Chinese, who have employed Singapore-based nominees to run the Australian source of manganese – an alloy to strengthen steel — and protect Chinese steelmills from having the manganese price dictated by the real government in Australia, BHP Billiton, one of the world’s largest manganese producers. BHP’s share price fell 2% on the same day.
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AFTER HIS HIGH COURT TESTIMONY, WHICH WAY FOR DERIPASKA NOW?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska has made his debut in the witness-box of the UK High Court, testifying for almost three hours on Friday afternoon, after being called as a witness by Roman Abramovich against the claims of Boris Berezovsky.

So precise and painstaking were Deripaska’s responses to some of the questions asked by the High Court Justice Dame Elizabeth Gloster and Laurence Rabinowitz, counsel for Berezovsky, that the near-total collapse of another of Deripaska’s cognitive functions, his memory, stunned the courtroom in London. At one point, the presiding judge told Rabinowitz that she permitted him to continue a line of questioning to probe Deripaska’s claim for forgetfulness after Rabinowitz said he had done as much as he could.
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ANDREI BORODIN OF THE BANK OF MOSCOW ACCUSES PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV OF STICK-UP

By John Helmer, Moscow

At a time when mass protests against the greed and criminality of bankers have spread from from the US to Greece, Italy and the UK, and on across the world, the London Daily Telegraph headline, “Financiers are being forced out of Russia”, might be widely applauded by a certain section of the population. So the Bolshie Russians are doing to them what noone else in the capitalist world dares – that might be the theme for Telegraph columnist Con Coughlin. Except that it isn’t.
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FIBS FROM UNDER GROUND – MECHEL MINING AND HIGHLAND GOLD

By John Helmer, Moscow

Ekaterina Videman is the spokesman for Mechel and Mechel Mining, wealth accumulation vehicles controlled by Igor Zyuzin (left). What she and the company announce publicly is what they want public shareholders to think, and they do not respond readily to questions. This is allowable under the New York Stock Exchange rules for Mechel, because it is a foreign-domiciled listing on the US exchange, and that exempts it from disclosure requirements which apply to the domestic stocks on the same exchange.
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RUSSIAN BEER – THE MAN’S DRINK GOES LIMP

By John Helmer, Moscow

Global warming should be so good for Russia that, as long as St. Petersburg can be jacked up by a metre or so, it may pay for the Kremlin to accelerate the melting of the Arctic ice-pack, if it can. But will that be so good for the beverages Russians like for slaking their thirst? Beer, for instance.

According to the latest announcements from Denmark-based brewer Carlsberg, profits of 3.3 billion Danish krone ($591 million) have fallen by 20% in the third quarter, ending September 30. And because almost half of Carlsberg’s profits are earned from beer sales in Russia, the bad news must be Russian in origin. Carlsberg sells 45 brands of beer in the Russian market, ranging alphabetically from Baltika to Nevskoye, Uralskoye, and my favourite, Zhigulevskoye (as aerated and rusty as my old car).
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WHAT GAME IS VLADIMIR KEKHMAN PLAYING WITH RUSSIA’S BANANAS?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Is Vladimir Kekhman going to lose his bananas because the Joint Fruit Company (JFC) he owns, Russia’s banana trade leader, cannot, or will not, pay $16.2 million in commercial damages awarded since August by the UK High Court in London?

Kekhman, who doubles as director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, was recently named Man of the Year in the Theatre Producer category by Russia’s GQ Magazine. In March, he won the Izvestia Celebrity of the Year award in the Culture category (Good Deed was the other category). The year after next, Kekhman said at the March award ceremony, he plans bicentennial celebrations for Wagner and Verdi. Until then, it’s a case of la forza del destino – though not the one commissioned from Verdi by the old Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg.
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ABRAMOVICH CONFUSES SCREWING AND MAKING LOVE, WITH OLEG DERIPASKA

By John Helmer, Moscow

An unusual moment occurred on Wednesday this week in Roman Abramovich’s testimony in the UK High Court when he refers to the seigneurial right – that historically doubtful power a feudal lord claimed for first sex with young virgins on his estates, who were, by feudal law, his property.

Abramovich says: “Well, it’s the thing which is called the right of the first night”. In the Russian and the English, Abramovich is referring to the Latin jus primae noctis – properly translated, that’s the law of the first night. The feudal law textbooks claim the rape could be bought off if the girl gave the lord part or all of her dowry. Either way, she would become used property and unmarriageable.
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WHEN IS A FREE FLOAT A TOY BALLOON – POLYMETAL’S CONTROL SHAREHOLDERS PREPARE TO LET GO

By John Helmer, Moscow

Let’s hear it for Polymetal’s control shareholders – they have devised a scheme that appears to have fooled much of the Moscow market, but few in the London market. By moving Polymetal to the main board of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), they have camouflaged a free floating share bloc which isn’t, in order to create a better share-price platform to sell out. And that is what is known in the toy balloon business as a prick.
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SERGEI FRANK TAKES A STAB AT IRONY – UK COURT OF APPEAL RULES TO HEAR MORE

By John Helmer, Moscow

There are two ironies in Sergei Frank’s latest outing in the London courts on November 4. One is that Frank, chief executive of Sovcomflot, is not lodging an appeal against rulings last December and March by High Court Justice Andrew Smith, judging Frank himself to have been dishonest. Nor is he claiming that most of the rulings, which have vindicated the three men he has targeted for almost six years– tanker charterer Yury Nikitin, and former chief executives Dmitry Skarga and Tagir Izmaylov – are faulty.
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WORLD’S WEIRDEST FACT – ROMAN ABRAMOVICH DOESN’T KNOW HOW OR IF RUSSIA TAXES DIVIDENDS

By John Helmer, Moscow

One of Russia’s richest men, and by some accounts one of the cleverest, claims he has no idea whether the principal source of his income is taxed. The admission came just a few minutes after three in the afternoon in London last Friday. Roman Abramovich may have been tired, having been on the witness stand in the High Court since 10 that morning, and for the fifth gruelling day in row.
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SEX CHANGE IN THE DIAMOND BUSINESS — ALROSA NOW WEARS THE PANTS, AFTER THE OPPENHEIMERS SELL THEIR BALLS, I MEAN THE CROWN JEWELS

By John Helmer, Moscow

There’s not much of a market in used testicles.

When Jonathan Oppenheimer (right image) was obliged to sell his last week, ending the Oppenheimer family’s century-old diamond business, those closest to the affair in Johannesburg sniffed that Jonathan Oppenheimer’s wife Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer had so gravely damaged the value of the De Beers brand, her father-in-law, Nicholas Oppenheimer, was obliged to accept a discount buyout from Anglo American Corporation.
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404 ERROR! WEBSITE ATTACKERS FOUGHT OFF AFTER DERIPASKA VISA STORY APPEARS

For readers who have been experiencing interruptions of internet connexion and seeing instead notices of 404 error, the explanation is a series of denial-of-service (DOS) attacks launched against this website in an attempt to stop publication. Technical evidence reveals that the attacker began bombarding the website server about 20 minutes after a story was published last Thursday, October 27, regarding Oleg Deripaska’s latest attempts to overturn the ban on his entry to the US. Here’s the story again.
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THE RUSSIAN DRINK BUBBLE BURSTS — FINANCIAL FIZZ AT COCA-COLA DEPENDS ON STILL JUICE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Carbonated water was an 18th century invention in England, associated with the brewing of beer. Fizz came in just over a hundred years later in New Orleans, when carbonated water was added to a cocktail of gin, lemon, lime, egg white and sugar, stirred. After years of trying fizzy drinks from the US, the Russian drinker appears finally to have decided enough is enough, at least for bubbles. Coca-Cola is discovering that its growth in Russia now depends on its Russian branded juice beverages, while sales demand for Coca-Cola-branded products appears to be declining.
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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 bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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