United Company Rusal has admitted that one large international bank is refusing to accept the restructuring terms the company has offered for loans totaling $5.15 billion which fall due for repayment by July 7. Until now, there has been speculation that state-owned Chinese banks had been pressing for repayment in cash, rather than accept extension of the loan maturity date and other terms. On Friday, the holdout banks were identified by Rusal sources as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is majority-owned by the UK Government; and the German bank WestLB, which has been in a form of bankruptcy management since June 2012. Today, Portligon, which has taken over WestLB, reportedly changed its mind, and accepted Rusal’s offer of terms.
The latest Rusal disclosures also provide for an international court to oblige the last holdout to accept another four to five months of negotiating time, thereby preventing it from pitching Rusal into default and bankruptcy next Monday. (more…)
The Swiss Federal Police and the Federal Office for Migration will shortly decide whether the residency permit issued to Igor Kolomoisky to live in Geneva will be extended beyond the current expiry date. Kolomoisky’s permit comes up for renewal in October, and four months of investigation may be required by the Swiss authorities to authorize his stay.
Regular reviews of foreign residency permits in Switzerland are required every one or two years, according to government sources referring to Swiss law and regulations. But in Kolomoisky’s case, the Swiss authorities are obliged to determine whether Kolomoisky’s activities since March as the governor of the eastern Ukraine region of Dniepropetrovsk, and a recent Russian indictment of Kolomoisky for war crimes, represent a violation of the rules and disallow him for residency. (more…)
Three years of litigation in New York and Delaware between Severstal and US steelmaker RG Steel over a failed Maryland steelmill, for which Alexei Mordashov paid $810 million, will be finalized at a US court hearing on July 15. Moscow and US sources report that lawyers for the two sides are expected to present for the judge’s approval an agreement for RG Steel to receive $30 million in cash from Severstal, and in exchange, Severstal will acquire RG Steel’s 50% stake in their joint coke venture, Mountain State Carbon (MSC).
At most, this outcome for Severstal is worth $70 million – one-eleventh of what Mordashov originally paid in March 2008, announcing at the time: “We believe in the long-term promise of the U.S. market.” (more…)
The Ukrainian revolution has been very bad for business in the country. But for Igor Kolomoisky’s Privatbank there has been compensation of almost a billion dollars in state funds: publicly, rival Ukrainian commercial banks call that favouritism; privately, Ukrainian business as usual.
Privatbank is Ukraine’s largest commercial bank. Since the replacement of the Ukrainian Government in February, and the start of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) financial aid programme in April, Privatbank has been the largest beneficiary of what the IMF and the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance are calling Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to the country’s banks. Published measurements of Privatbank’s share of ELA range from 36% to more than 40% of the additional financing which has flowed out of Ukrainian state funds into the commercial banks. Just how much Kolomoisky benefits, along with related companies to which Privatbank lends much of its loan book, is one of the control operations being performed this week, as the IMF’s Ukraine mission starts its first inspection since the IMF transferred $3.2 billion to the National Bank of Ukraine on May 7. (more…)
In March, when he thought it was safe to speak his mind at the Amber Restaurant in Warsaw, Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw (Radek) Sikorski (lead image, left) used a racial expletive to refer to the Polish relationship with the US government, which is so unpleasant, noone outside Poland has been willing to translate it into English. That was on top of an expletive describing what Sikorski said Poland’s metaphorical mouth has been doing with the US government’s metaphorical sexual organ.
Sikorski was talking with Jacek Rostowski; like Sikorski, Rostowski is a British-educated, British national, and a recent finance minister in Donald Tusk’s current Polish government. They were dining just after Crimea had voted to join the Russian Federation, and as the US government announced the first round of sanctions. The tape-recording, which has begun to be published by the Polish weekly Wprost, also reproduces jokes Sikorski told Rostowski, including one about a man with multiple sclerosis who over-exerts himself at a brothel. (more…)
In the New York and London markets brokers and bankers explain that they are being discreetly called by US Treasury officials with this message: buying Russian equity or debt paper is legal, but in the event there is a new round of sanctions, it will be illegal to re-sell them, so there can be no profit in Russian assets. The market is calling this campaign “stealth sanctions”. It is an attack on the international market for Russian corporations, and on the international currency and security clearance systems on which the market depends.
According to the highest UK and European courts — reported here on March 25 — the type of formal sanctions which the US and the EU have already introduced are likely to be found illegal, if they are challenged in court. Stealth sanctions are more difficult to substantiate in court -– and also financially much more damaging. Until now, there has been no Russian retaliation for the sanctions, and no litigation. (more…)
Putting money where the mouth is, the value of Russian artworks has reached a record high this month at auctions of Christie’s, Sotheby’s and MacDougall’s. Bad mouthing by the US State Department daily briefer is cheaper, as the US Government endorses Ukrainian government hate speech in referring to Russians in general as “subhuman”, and the president in particular as a “dickhead”. But for the heads of the Russian art departments at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, neither US sanctions nor the Russophobia of the London press have made any impact on cultural sentiment.
If anything, Russian art buyers are bidding against each other to recover and return to Russia works which have been on the walls of American and European collectors who acquired them before the revolution, or in the fire sales just after. Not exactly for patriotic reasons, Russian art buyers are doing this because they are confident the London market is securing new asset value, ensuring that even in the short run, Russian art will enjoy a lucrative resale price. (more…)
Two months after South Africa’s (SA) President Jacob Zuma appeared to drop Russia in favour of a Chinese-American combination for the country’s $50 billion nuclear reactor programme, the head of the SA National Nuclear Regulator, Bismark Tyobeka, appeared in Moscow last week to be favouring the Russian bid over the competition.
Tyobeka, who was attending a nuclear industry convention, AtomExpo-2014, was reported in the Russian press as saying that now that South Africa’s May 7 parliamentary elections are out of the way, Zuma intends to announce his choice for the first two reactors from among the competing bids of China, Russia, South Korea, and France. Tyobeka reportedly was negative towards the Chinese bid, which is coordinated with Westinghouse of the US. “All these countries also have a chance to become the contractor, but the main thing is whether they have sufficient experience of building nuclear power plants abroad. In that sense Russia has the best experience, and its chances [for the procurement award] are very high.” (more…)
Victor Boyarkin, the former lieutenant-colonel of Russian military intelligence and special operations chief for United Company Rusal, returned to the company on Monday after an absence of fifteen months. In Conakry, the capital of Guinea, his arrival is anticipated shortly for a fresh attempt by Oleg Deripaska, Rusal’s chief executive, to relieve new pressure on Rusal to reopen the Friguia (Fria) alumina refinery and bauxite mine, and spend several hundred million dollars committed earlier to investment in Guinea.
The Guinean President, Alpha Conde (image, right foreground), has started to prepare his presidential election campaign for the poll, which is due in less than a year’s time. In Friguia, where Rusal is the principal source of employment, the alumina refinery has been closed since 2012, and according to local sources, the city is “dead. People are starving, and only a heavy military presence can keep things quiet. Conde has nothing to show for his presidency, and unless he can persuade Rusal to reopen the refinery, he must persuade the Russians to make a large compensation to help the city.” (more…)
The holes in Emmental cheese are so characteristic of the Swiss brand, their diameters are officially fixed by the US Food and Drug Administration. The reason for the holes is that in fabrication of the cheese, the addition of the Propionibacterium shermani causes the release of carbon dioxide. When the wheels of emmental are broken, the bubbles burst, leaving behind the holes. The Swiss call it the jolly bacterium (P. freudenreichii).
Didier Burkhalter, President of Switzerland, and also Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), hasn’t been feeling so freudenreich lately with these two titles, whose tenures run out, both of them, on December 31. (more…)
Backstage at the Theatre du Chatelet on May 9, 1909, the curtain had come down on Vatslav Nijinsky’s performance of the Polovtsian Dances, an adaptation to Alexander Borodin’s music of the Tatar warrior dance. The Tatars flaunt their prowess, and their alluring slave girls, before their captive, the defeated Prince Igor. He’s in a low-libido Slavic mood, dismissing the Khan’s offer of his choice of the girls, or boys. The last words the chorus sings to Igor are: “There is more freedom for you there, song…And so, fly away!”
Nijinsky was asked by a visitor if it was difficult to stay in the air during his stage jumps. “No, no. Not difficult,” he answered. “You just have to go up and then pause a little up there.”
The International Monetary Fund’s senior officials have known that Stepan Kubiv, Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, was removed six years ago for his involvement in a massive bank loss and loan diversion, when Kubiv was in charge of Kredobank, a west Ukrainian bank owned by PKO Bank Polski, the leading bank of Poland. The affair cost Bank Polski at least $350 million in 2008 and 2009. Another $144 million was provided by Bank Polski to save Kredobank from insolvency. At the time, Kubiv’s management performance led to his replacement by the chief executive of Bank Polski, Jerzy Pruski. The bank scandal was discussed officially, Bank Polski has reported, with the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) and with the Central Bank of Poland.
The Kubiv dossier resurfaced in Warsaw after February 24, when Kubiv was named by the new Ukrainian Government to head the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). In that role, Kubiv has been identified by the head of the IMF Ukraine Mission, Nikolay Gueorguiev, as the key Ukrainian official, under President Petro Poroshenko, who will decide what audits will be conducted of Ukraine’s commercial banks, and how much IMF money will be requested to bail them out. (more…)
Last year Russia’s six major steelmakers cut 33,500 jobs from their payrolls, because, they explain, they are struggling to reduce losses and cut bank debt. That amounted to a loss of almost one in ten jobs in the Russian steel sector. At the end of 2013, the headcount of steelworkers was 355,900, down 9.4% from 2012.
Government officials and sector analysts acknowledge that five years ago during the collapse in steel trade in the last months of 2008 and first half of 2009, such a job cull would have been impossible because the Kremlin warned the mill proprietors against mass layoffs. Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK) announced it was reducing its steel output by 15% in October 2009 after earlier claiming the cutback would be 25%. Alexander Mastruev, head of personnel at MMK, said at the time: “It is not necessary to dramatise the situation, and to panic.” MMK was considering a furlough of employees, not dismissal and job cuts, he added. At Mechel, it was claimed at the time there was no plan to review production plans “for now” but the length of the working day might be cut. According to Mechel, “we are making all effort to save all working places and our employees.” (more…)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is preparing to release Privatbank, the largest commercial bank in Ukraine, from independent tests of its solvency and capital adequacy, and allow a bailout of the bank with Ukrainian public funds, backed by the IMF. The Ukraine mission of the IMF has also revealed this week that it is allowing Igor Kolomoisky (image above), the control shareholder of Privatbank, to direct his own audit and stress test of the bank. This is despite independent evidence of large related-party lending in which the bank has been engaged; and despite judgements recently issued in the UK courts that Kolomoisky presents evidence that is “false or materially incorrect.”
The bank, headquartered in the Dniepropetrovsk region of eastern Ukraine, is rated E, according to Moody’s Investors Service, the worst of its ratings for “Ownership and Organizational Complexity, Key Man Risk [and] Insider and Related-Party Risks”. Kolomoisky has been the governor of the Dniepropetrovsk region since March 2, when he was appointed by the new government in Kiev. The record of his attacks on Russia, and on President Vladimir Putin, can be read here. (more…)
Nudelman is the real name of Victoria Nuland, co-author of the February 21 coup d’etat in Kiev; and author of the four-letter expletive by which she disposed, almost, of Germany’s objections to the war against Russia which has followed.
In Yiddish, Nudelman is generally thought to refer to the culinary trade of making “lokshen”, the Yiddish form that’s closer to the Russian лапша than to the German “nudel”. It’s also related to the verb “nudyen”, which means to whine, nag, or push. The Yiddish “nudzh”, Polish “nudzik”, and the pseudo-Russian “nudnik” are related too. They mean a pestering bore — or a boring pesterer, depending on what she whines about. In the history of the Nudelman family, the name change was initiated by Shepsel Ber Nudelman (Sherwin B. Nuland, Victoria’s father), before he got to study at Yale University. Sherwin’s autobiography reveals his father, Victoria’s grandfather, to have been a “nudzh” with syphilitic symptoms. That autobiography also introduces the Nudelman habit of saying “Fuck you” at moments of disagreement with others. When Sherwin reports saying it on page 8 of his life, “my sea of troubles had receded”. When his daughter said it this past February, the sea of troubles became a tsunami. That is, if you are Ukrainian, Russian, European. (more…)
Stealth warfare against the Russian economy may be encouraging capital outflows, but for Russians on the home front, glasses are still being raised with a growing volume of sparkling wine or champagne going down the hatch. Abrau-Durso, the only Russian winemaker listed on a public stock exchange, is also going up, and like the bubbles, defying threats from Washington.
Even if falling consumer incomes and worsening economic prospects threaten the rate of growth in Russian consumption, Russia is “still the most promising country in the world for the consumption of wine products,” declares Vadim Drobiz, director of the Centre for Research on Federal and Regional Markets for Alcohol (TsIFRRA) in Moscow. “This remains the fact even if the entire world is tired of wine, and economic crisis is pushing down on consumption. Seventy years ago, in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Chile annual wine consumption was between 120 and 150 litres per capita. Now they drink 40 litres. In principle, this decline will continue, as wine is replaced by beer and strong alcohol. In 1985 in Russia, we consumed 21 litres, but now 4.5. We’ve declined by almost five times over the 25 years. Although the figures have been even lower: in 1995 the consumption was 3 litres of wine per capita. So we are improving since then.” (more…)
The US Navy’s current Russia containment tactic in the Black Sea has been unable to negotiate refuelling from naval or civilian fuel tankers while under way at sea, and requires port calls for fuel every seven days. The Navy has announced that its missile cruiser, USS Vella Gulf, put into the Bulgarian port of Varna on May 30. The vessel entered the Black Sea, 180 nautical miles to the south, on May 23. The illustration from the bridge of the Vella Gulf as it approached Varna is a US Navy photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III For the delay of the Vella Gulf in reaching the Black Sea, click.
According to the US Navy press release, Vella Gulf’s presence in Bulgaria reaffirms the United States’ commitment to strengthening ties with NATO allies and partners, while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region. While in Bulgaria, the Navy says the Vella Gulf crew will participate “in community relations events at the Bulgarian Naval Academy and a local orphanage, visit the Bulgarian Naval Museum and tour the historic city of Varna.” (more…)
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.