The South African Government has pulled back from the agreement it reached last November with Rosatom, the state nuclear industry corporation, to build nuclear reactors to supply South Africa’s future power needs. Officials at the South African Department of Energy refuse to say to what the Minister of Energy, Ben Martins, has decided. Off the record, sources in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Moscow claim the reason for dropping the $50 billion deal is that the government has revised its assessment of its future energy needs, and decided it doesn’t need the new reactors, at least not soon.
But that’s a nose-stretcher. The assessment leading to the change of mind in Pretoria was issued by the Department of Energy on November 21. For weeks beforehand its conclusions were well-known to the ministry, Minister Martins, and to the office of President Jacob Zuma (image above), when he approved the initialling of the Rosatom deal. The deal ceremony took place on November 26, five days after the Energy Ministry had issued its thumbs-down. (more…)
When the last war with Germany was ending, the British intelligence services rounded up as many of their German counterparts as they could find, and interrogated them. They were taken by surprise, as a series of reports by Hugh Trevor-Roper, then a signals intelligence analyst, uncovered as early as 1944.* For the British, the surprise was that neither German military intelligence (Abwehr) nor the SS intelligence organization (Sicherheitsdienst) had the doctrine or the resources for strategic deception: that’s the capacity to mask from your opponent what your plans are, and thereby fool your target into positioning himself for defeat. By the standards of British deceit, as British historians and thriller writers have proclaimed ever since, the Germans were naïve – exposing a colossal Achilles heel to be exploited just because it was always possible to persuade them to put their Achilles foot into a trap.
Predictability and naivety aren’t recommended for war-fighting — nor just for Germans, and not just then. The British intelligence services’ reports on the Russian capacity for deception remain top secret. But what the British believed was once their own superiority in deception tactics, they have now dispensed with, or lost. So when it comes to waging the Anglo-American war against Russia, there’s been no disguise for the Achilles Heels on display in the war for Chechnya or in the Georgian War of August 2008 – both of them lost by the Anglo-American side. (more…)
Oleg Deripaska has never agreed to settle before judgement in international litigations against him, or against his management of United Company Rusal, unless Deripaska was certain his opponents held a winning hand. When Rusal announced last week that it has settled a London arbitration with Rusal shareholders, Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, what had happened was a big loss which Rusal’s public shareholders failed to anticipate – with the case still to run against Deripaska personally. That’s the mirror part.
The smoke part has been the failure of market reporting in Moscow and elsewhere to notice the significance of Vekselberg’s and Blavatnik’s victory, and the compensation Deripaska has undertaken, along with Glencore. It was Glencore’s contract for trading Rusal’s aluminium, which was the cause of action that Rusal has now settled. (more…)
Theologians may wrestle to Kingdom Come before they will agree that a gusher of faith can be drilled out of a bedrock of reason. In the case of junior Russian oil companies taking money from investors on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), the gushers are proving to be short-lived. The loss of faith can be measured in the collapse of share price and market capitalization – and in the files of Mirabaud Securities, the Swiss promoter of a great deal of short-lived enthusiasm.
Timan Oil and Gas, for example, failed to produce what it promised from prospects in the Arctic region of Timan Pechora; defaulted on its loans; delisted its shares; and is now in liquidation. Ruspetro, operating in the Khanty-Mansiysk region of western Siberia, listed its shares at the start of 2012, but in two years they have collapsed to a tenth of their peak value. Mirabaud was a lead manager for both issues. (more…)
The Kremlin has yet to agree to a Ukrainian application for the resumption of duty-free quotas for steel pipe imports to Russia. In December, Ukrainian Industry Minister Mykhaylo Korolenko told Bloomberg that there had been an agreement with the Kremlin to reinstate the quotas which were cancelled on July 1 and a penalty duty of 19% introduced instead. In effect, this killed the Ukrainian trade. (more…)
The dickhead question is not which direction the dick is pointing in, but whether it’s connected to the brain. The heart being an automatic organ, it’s the brain which must obey the rules of informed consent and their corollary, the age of consent. Among the ancient Greeks, who celebrated homosexuality more than any culture before or since, these rules were enforced to the point of capital punishment for infringing them.
If you plan on travelling to Sochi with homosex on your mind, and you are having trouble understanding what the French President has been doing with his dick, and what the Russian President says you shouldn’t be doing with yours, you should read the 634-page history of how the ancient Greeks regulated the passions between age-groups.* A second primer by the same author explains what endorsers of Hollande’s conduct today fail to appreciate when they attack Putin’s conduct – this is the ancient Greek concept of dickheadedness. The Greeks called it ἀκολασία (akolasia), meaning intemperance; lack of self-control; the vice of excess when desires are not corrected by reason. This is the key to understanding 135-FZ, the Russian law banning public “propagating non-traditional sexual relations among minors”, enacted by the State Duma, the Federation Council and Putin in June of 2013. (more…)
Interpipe, the heavily indebted Ukrainian pipemaker owned by Victor Pinchuk (left foreground), has defaulted on its pledge to list its Eurobonds on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange by December 27, a notice from Deutsche Bank, the bond trustee, has revealed. This is Pinchuk’s second default in two months. On November 1, Interpipe announced it was unable to pay its international banks $106 million due on at least half a billion dollars in loans.
According to the latest disclosure, Deutsche Bank now has the authority to call for repayment of the face value of the Interpipe bonds plus interest. Interpipe’s last financial report indicates that as of December 31, 2012, the sum owing would be more than $198 million. A repayment call would also trigger repayment demands from Interpipe’s international banks and the Italian export agency SACE. The banks, led by ING of the Netherlands, Commerzbank of Germany, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), are owed more than $543 million; SACE, $156 million. (more…)
It’s possible to imagine that when Kornei Chukovsky wrote about crocodiles telephoning Moscow for take-out galoshes to eat (1926), or about the bear who beat up a crocodile and saved the sun from his jaws (1916), he was doing something secret and political for adults, instead of making children laugh and learn to read. It’s even possible to interpret Osip Mandelstam’s children’s book, Two Trams (1925), as a coded attack on Lenin’s definition of five years earlier — “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country.”
For those in the west who hate Russia, it’s anathema to suppose there ever was a time – tsarist past, communist past, or post-communist present – when Russians of any age smiled, either inadvertently or sentimentally, for the fun of it. This must be the reason why a newly published album of illustrations from Russian children’s books published between 1920 and 1935 recommends the artfulness of the works and designs, but feels obliged at the same time to castigate the country and regime in which they were produced.* (more…)
Once upon a time, not so long ago, the United States and Russia appeared to agree that the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, was a crook.
It now appears that whatever government officials say in private, in public it is now US policy, along with that of the multilateral banks which the US dominates, that Rahmon’s reputation is to be protected, enhanced even. By contrast, United Company Rusal, Russia’s state aluminium monopoly, is turning up the public pressure on Rahmon with threats to expose his private money-box in the British Virgin Islands unless he pays two court-ordered judgements for a total of $347 million. (more…)
This year the Moscow School of Management at Skolkovo is planning to publish what it calls a market atlas of the jobs and professions which will be newly needed by the year 2020, and those needed no longer. One of the new ones is what the Skolkovo atlas calls a cyber-cleaner (кибердворник). This is a specialist in removing from the internet and all digital data archives whatever information someone pays to have cleaned or deleted entirely. One of the professions the cyber-cleaners will replace, according to the atlas, is journalism.
That’s just six years away. But for at least a handful of the Skolkovo school’s coordination council — Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Alexander Voloshin, Anatoly Chubais – none too soon. So ask yourself the question — will they too be cleaned or washed up this year, or by 2020? For the answer, a little old-fashioned journalism may go a long way. Read on.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.