SERGEI KIRIENKO PULLS STRING — ROSATOM PLAN FOR BEATING THE AMERICANS AND FRENCH OUT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN NUCLEAR REACTOR CONTRACT

rosatom_sa

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the world of mules there are no rules (so Ogden Nash wrote last century). In selling $50 billion worth of nuclear reactors, there are a few.

Sergei Kirienko, the prime minister in charge of the Russian government’s default on its treasury bonds and other financial destruction in 1998, is no donkey. But this week, as the head of the state nuclear power monopoly Rosatom, it’s far from clear what rules Kirienko, and his South African counterparts, had in mind when they initialled their agreement on cooperation this week in Johannesburg.

Russian and South African press reports, as well as officials of both countries, have described the document as an agreement between the two governments for “strategic partnership and cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and industry”, as Vedomosti called it.
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INTERPIPE STARTS DEBT REFINANCING TALKS, BLAMES RUSSIA FOR DEFAULT, AS VICTOR PINCHUK BEGS PRESIDENT VICTOR YANUKOVICH FOR RUSSIAN REWARD

interpipe_car

By John Helmer, Moscow

Interpipe, the Ukrainian pipemaker owned by Victor Pinchuk (left), son-in-law of ex-President Leonid Kuchma (centre, right), has released its first official acknowledgement that it is in default on $106 million of debt owed to its banks. In a statement yesterday on the company website, Interpipe said negotiations are under way with the banks, and that they had been informed in advance of the company’s failure to meet the repayment amount due on November 1. “The creditor banks”, according to Interpipe, “have formed a steering committee of creditors. The parties will have to agree to change the schedule of payments on the main body of the loans, as well as some other changes in the loan agreement conditions. The company plans to continue to pay interest on all borrowings in full. The operating activities of Interpipe run in the normal mode.”

Interpipe’s debts currently exceed $1.3 billion; it has less than $50 million in cash. The banks, which negotiated with Interpipe for an earlier debt restructuring agreement in 2011, include Citi, Barclays, Intesa, ING, and Credit Agricole. The banks are not commenting publicly except for Intesa in Milan; it said this week it is aware of the default and is evaluating the situation with the other lenders.
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THE SNOWBALL EFFECT — GREENPEACE DEFEATED AT HAMBURG TRIBUNAL, DISSENTING JUDGEMENTS AND US COURT ORDERS SUPPRESSED

snowball_greenpeace

By John Helmer, Moscow

By releasing on bail all but one of thirty Greenpeace protesters charged for an attack on the offshore Russian oil platform Prirazlomnaya in September, Russian prosecutors and a St. Petersburg court have pre-empted and defeated Greenpeace and the Dutch Government.

Greenpeace and the Dutch had applied for “provisional measures” from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg. Their demand was for the release from arrest and prison, and for permission to leave Russia altogether, for the 30 protesters, including three of them who are Russian citizens. The demand also included the release of the Arctic Sunrise, the converted icebreaker which Greenpeace has been operating this year in the Barents Sea and Pechora Sea, above the Arctic Circle. The Russian government has preempted the vessel release by issuing guarantees of the state icebreaker fleet company which owns the berth at which the Arctic Sunrise is moored; and of the Coast Guard division of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is guarding it.
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SOVCOMFLOT STILL IN THE RED

scf_still_in_red

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia’s state-owned tanker company Sovcomflot has reported third-quarter and nine-month financial results showing that it continues to lose fleet operating revenues and run at a loss. In the nine months to September 30, the company says its time-charter equivalent (TCE) revenues were $657.2 million, down 1.6% on the same period of last year. Fleet operating costs were up by 7% to $284 million, primarily because of a jump in charter hire payments. On the bottom line, Sovcomflot says it ran a 9-month loss of $8.6 million; a year ago it was in the black at $42.5 million.
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THE TAJIK ARM WRESTLE — RUSAL SQUEEZES, OLEG DERIPASKA THREATENS, BUT PRESIDENT RAHMON GETS UPPER HAND

tajik_arm

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska’s (image right) associates inside Rusal say the company is so short of cash, the chief executive has no alternative but to squeeze the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon (left), and threaten to publish details of his offshore bank accounts, unless he comes across with almost $350 million. But Rahmon, Deripaska’s partner in a highly profitable metal trading scheme between 2004 and 2008, is sitting on a military card which may yet oblige President Vladimir Putin to tell Deripaska to back off. That card is Russia’s military base and arms agreement with Tajikistan, which waits for final ratification at the moment. Coincidentally, the Russian Ministry of Defense is promising to invest an almost identical sum if Rahmon agrees to terms.

Rusal has issued two recent announcements after Swiss arbitration tribunals ruled in its favour and issued awards amounting to at least $350 million; more as the interest accumulates while Rahmon and the Tajikistan Aluminium Company (Talco; aka Tajikistan Aluminium Combine, TadAZ) delays payment. The first of these was the Swiss ruling of October 9, 2013, which Rusal reported this way. “The tribunal granted in full Hamer’s claim that TalCo was in breach of two barter agreements concluded in 2003 under which Hamer supplied TalCo with certain raw materials, and ordered TalCo to pay Hamer damages of US$112,745,501, interest of approximately US$147 million, and costs, fees and expenses of the arbitration proceedings in the amount of US$14,579,385, for a total of approximately US$275 million plus post-award interest. The tribunal also denied in full TalCo’s amended counterclaims in the amount of almost US$400 million (exclusive of interest), which were based on TalCo’s assertions that the said contracts had been procured by corruption. The tribunal rejected such allegations.”
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RUSSIA’S PIRACY POLICY — CATCH, MAROON, SAIL AWAY

piracy

By John Helmer, Moscow

While the Greenpeace organization has been drawing worldwide attention to pending charges of a pirate attack against the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Barents Sea, Russian prosecutors and the Russian Navy reveal they have abandoned the prosecution of piracy threatening Russian vessels in the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa.

Article 227 of the Russian Criminal Code defines piracy as an “assault on a seagoing ship or a river boat with the aim of capturing other people’s property, committed with the use of violence or with the threat of its use”. The penalty for a conviction on one count is prison for between five and ten years. Repeated acts of the same type “with the use of arms or objects used as arms”, according to section 2, draws a penalty of 8 to 12 years. If pirate acts are organized by groups the sentence grows from 10 to 15 years.
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MECHEL’S IGOR ZYUZIN EVOLVES — FROM OLIGARCH TO DEADBEAT DEBTOR TO GOSPLAN APPARATCHIK

mechel_evolves

By John Helmer, Moscow

The sharp selloff of Mechel, the steel and coal group controlled by Igor Zyuzin, ought to demonstrate — if fresh proof were needed — that this is no longer a commercial operation in the normal sense of the term. Today Mechel is a nationalized enterprise kept solvent by five state banks in order to preserve the economies of several cities and regions across the country.

The stock market gyrations this week, in which almost $330 million in market capitalization was liquidated, should also demonstrate – if that too were necessary – how little a Russian company listing on the New York Stock Exchange provides by way of accountable financial reporting or effective regulation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
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GHOSTS OUT OF GRAVES, TRICK OR TREAT — OLEG DERIPASKA’S DECEMBER 6 ANNIVERSARY

december_6

By John Helmer, Moscow

According to United Company Rusal, the Russian state aluminium monopoly, it is one of the most transparent multinational corporations in the world – that’s to say, in the emerging markets of the world, and across sixteen countries. A report of Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), issued on October 16, has ranked Rusal sixth on several measures, with a perfect 100% score on what TI calls “organizational transparency”. The other perfect scorers were Emirates Airlines (UAE), Johnson Electric (Hong Kong), Petronas (Brazil), and Shanghai Electric Group.

As for what organizational transparency means to TI and how it scored Rusal and the others, TI says it asked these eight questions as part of a larger questionnaire:
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DUTCH BACKING FOR GREENPEACE AGAINST RUSSIA HAS A 390-YEAR OLD PRECEDENT — THAT WAS WHEN NUTMEG, NOT OIL, WAS THE TARGET FOR TRADE WARFARE

dutch_backing

By John Helmer, Moscow

Three hundred and ninety years ago the Dutch water-boarded and then executed a group of British merchants on the trumped-up allegation of plotting to seize the Dutch fortress on the island of Ambon, now part of Indonesia where it is called Maluku. Remember the Amboyna Massacre! became fighting talk in London for fifty years, leading to a decade of litigation in The Netherlands, and ultimately to the first Anglo-Dutch War of 1652-54 The British won that one – and also the second war of 1655-57, and the third war of 1672-74.

The real reason for the massacre was that the Dutch were determined to hang on to their monopoly of the nutmeg harvest on the island, and make sure the British didn’t undercut their prices or their influence with the local sultans, who controlled the indigenous nutmeg plantations. In those days, nutmeg was more than the sweet spice it’s thought of today. It was a strategic commodity – almost a matter of national security. That was because it was believed to be able to ward off the fatal attack of the Black Plague.
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VICTOR PINCHUK TRIPS HIMSELF UP — INTERPIPE FAILS PAYMENT DEADLINE, FACES DEFAULT AND LIQUIDATION

pinchuk_faces

By John Helmer, Moscow

Interpipe, the leading Ukrainian pipemaker, failed to meet last Friday’s deadline for repayment to its international bankers of $106 million, sources in Kiev have confirmed. Interpipe, owned by Victor Pinchuk (image above) and his wife Elena, daughter of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, is the largest steelmaker in the former Soviet Union to face bankruptcy and liquidation in recent years. According to sources close to Interpipe, who ask not to be identified, Interpipe’s debts now exceed $1.3 billion; its free cash on hand is less than $50 million.

The group says it continues to produce pipes at its new electric arc furnace plant at Dniepropetrovsk, despite market shut-out measures adopted by Russia, the CIS Customs Union, and the US, which have introduced, or plan shortly to impose penalty duties on pipe imports of 19.4% and 30.8%, respectively. These measures, compounding the generally depressed market demand for pipes, have led Fitch Ratings to slash Interpipe’s earnings estimate for this year by more than $100 million to $260 million, possibly less.
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LEAKED LETTER REVEALS SOVCOMFLOT DROPPED ITS CASE AGAINST CHIEF EXECUTIVE DMITRY SKARGA IN MOSCOW IN 2011, BUT KEPT ATTACKING HIM IN THE LONDON COURTS FOR THREE MORE YEARS — AND KEEPS ATTACKING IN MOSCOW

frank_letter

By John Helmer, Moscow

New evidence has surfaced from the Russian state shipping company Sovcomflot showing that the current chief executive Sergei Frank ordered the company’s lawyers to continue their attempts to prosecute his predecessor Dmitry Skarga in the London and Moscow courts, while telling the General Prosecutor in Moscow they were dropping their case against him.

Last week Frank’s eight-year campaign against Skarga came to an end when the Supreme Court, the highest of the English courts, dismissed Sovcomflot’s application to appeal against two High Court judgements and one Court of Appeal judgement, all exonerating Skarga of Sovcomflot’s allegations, and requiring Sovcomflot to pay more than £8 million ($13 million) in compensation of his costs. The latest episode of that story was reported here.
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MY TINKOFF, THEY DON’T FIT

tink_it

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Pelaco shirt company was a feature of my childhood for an advertising slogan that was so original, it hardly made sense. The idea was that if a native Australian, speaking pidgin English, recommended a Pelaco shirt because it fitted him so well, his recommendation would be credible to white shirt-wearers – even if the aboriginal didn’t wear trousers, and was therefore unlikely to acquire a Pelaco shirt in the first place, let alone a pair of Pelaco pyjamas. In short, the selling-point was preposterous. But fifty years later, the ad slogan is still memorable.

Oleg Tinkov, 45 years old, has the name and the style of advertising which have made him memorable, briefly, on the London roadshow circuit. His idea was that in a market which deeply devalues Russian banks, especially the state-owned ones; and suspects the short-term prospects of the commercial ones are getting poorer by the day, Tinkov would disguise his bank as if it were a credit card payment system, and promote his shares to the market fad for internet payment system companies like Luxoft and Qiwi. The stories of the latter share listings in the New York market can be read here and here. They aren’t banks at all, though in due course they may be threatened by Russian raiders who are banks. Since their initial public offerings (IPO) in June and September, Luxoft is up 71% and now has a market capitalization of $966 million; Qiwi is up 32%, with a market cap of $2.2 billion.
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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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