If it wasn’t for a Russian, Americans wouldn’t be able to lick large lollipops.
Samuel Born – it isn’t known what his original Russian name was – emigrated to the US at the end of the 19th century. There he invented an apparatus he called the Born Sucker Machine. Its function was to insert sticks into hard lollies so they could be sucked slowly. This was a revolution in the sweets business. It allowed sugar confectioners to manufacture — and charge premiums for — much larger sucking sweets than had been known for two thousand years. Until the Born Sucker, a sweet had to be small enough to fit into the mouth at one go. Noone, from the Pharaonic Egyptians to the Obamic Americans, likes sticky fingers. *
But now the US is at war with Russia, bent on overthrowing President Vladimir Putin, and in the meantime cutting Russia off from the flow of bank capital, oil and gas technology, and imported lollipops too – because Putin and his friends depend on them. There has already been one confectionery casualty of this war – exports by the Roshen company, owned by the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, have been banned in Russia, their principal trade destination, and the Russian factory of the company arrested in Lipetsk. (more…)
Investigations into the collapse of National Bank Trust, one of the largest Moscow banks to be rescued by the Central Bank of Russia and the Deposit Insurance Agency, have targeted a Cyprus-based management group as the operational headquarters of a scheme which, according to current calculations, may have diverted more than $3 billion in bank funds over a decade between 2004 and 2014.
If and when the grand total of losses is toted up, this may beat the Bank of Moscow as the largest Russian bank fraud in history. But there may never be a toting-up — not by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) which has provided Rb129 billion in bailout financing, nor by the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA), the state organ in charge of supervising the bailout. Otkritie, the top-5 Russian bank selected by the government to take over Trust and keep it running, has yet to agree with the government on the results of the investigations and attempts at recovery of the funds from offshore.
According to a well-informed Russian state banker, Trust Bank had a high-level krysha, and he’s still at work to assure that the state refinancing of the losses, and the takeover by Otkritie, continue without embarrassment to the Central Bank, without risk for the stakeholders, and without cost for the perpetrators and beneficiaries. With shareholders as well-known as Mikhail Khodorkovsky who started by calling the bank Menatep St. Petersburg; then transferred it to Ilya Yurov, who renamed it Trust; and the current shareholders who have taken over — Ruben Aganbegyan, Vadim Belyaev, Alexander Nessis, Vagit Alekperov, and Alexander Mamut — the duration of the protective cover over the bank’s offshore operations also makes a record by Russian standards. (more…)
The commodity supercycle made an offshore fortune for Oleg Deripaska, control shareholder of United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly, and for Glencore, the Swiss combine which has financed and managed Rusal’s trade. But the cycle is now in reverse, as the markets accept that China’s economic performance will now trigger short-term booms and busts, keeping the price of aluminium low for the foreseeable future. Too low for the cost advantages to Rusal of the rouble crash to produce optimism for the company’s profitability as a global aluminium exporter.
In September Deripaska declared his first profit dividend in seven years. As an 8.75% stakeholder, Glencore’s share of the $250 million payout will be about $22 million. But Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg’s parallel announcement of cuts to Glencore’s trade loans to its clients means that he is quietly asking Deripaska to pay more cash up front, both for trading commissions and interest on trade advances. How much is a secret Deripaska and Glasenberg aim to keep from the minority Russian shareholders in Rusal; and from the Russian government, which is pushing Rusal to refocus its business on the domestic trade in aluminium, for which Glencore is no longer necessary. (more…)
Yury Trutnev, the Kremlin’s special representative for the Russian Fareast, has come up with a scheme, starting this month, for storing the world’s most valuable art works in Vladivostok, one of the world’s smallest art markets, with the personal backing of President Vladimir Putin; and on the advice of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the art-collecting oligarch exiled to Switzerland and Monaco, who is charging Yves Bouvier, the French operator of comparable art storage schemes in Europe, with multimillion dollar art fraud.
This tale was published in Mediapart, a French internet publication, on October 11. It was translated into Russian and published two days later. Not a shred of evidence has since been found to substantiate it. Desperation measures then, but for whose benefit? (more…)
Tjibbe Joustra (lead image, right), chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, wants it to be very clear that Russia is criminally responsible for the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014; that a Russian-supplied ground-to-air missile, fired on Russian orders from territory under Russian control, exploded lethally to break up the MH17 aircraft in the air, killing everyone on board; and that Russian objections to these conclusions are no more than cover-up and dissimulation for the guilty.
Joustra also wants to make sure that no direct evidence for what he says can be tested, not in the report which his agency issued last week; nor in the three Dutch government organs which prepared and analysed the evidence of the victims’ bodies, the aircraft remains, and the missile parts on contract to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) – the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research ( TNO), and the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). So Joustra began broadcasting his version of what he says happened before the release of the DSB report. He then continued in an anteroom of the Gilze-Rijen airbase, where the DSB report was presented to the press; in a Dutch television studio; and on the pages of the Dutch newspapers.
But when he and his spokesman were asked today for the evidence for what Joustra has been broadcasting, they insisted that if the evidence isn’t to be found in the DSB report, Joustra’s evidence cannot be released. So, if the evidence for Joustra’s claims cannot be found in the NLR, TMO and NFI reports either, what exactly is Joustra doing – is he telling the truth? Is he broadcasting propaganda? Is he lying? Is he covering up for a crime? (more…)
The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) conclusion on the missile detonation which caused the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 is based on a report of the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), based in Amsterdam. The 66-page NLR report can be found as an appendix to the main DSB report. Combined in their release this week, the two Dutch organizations and the two Dutch reports claim that a Russian-made Buk missile of the 9M38 model series, armed with warhead type 9N314M, was fired at MH17, exploding to the left of the aircraft at about two metres from the cockpit. The blast and shrapnel spray from this detonation, the two Dutch reports claim, caused the break-up of the aircraft in the air, and the deaths of all on board.
From the evening of the crash day, July 17, 2014, western government officials and media reporters have blamed Russia for manufacturing the missile, ordering it fired, and causing the crash. They are now citing the Dutch reports as proof of the initial assignment of blame. This is despite the DSB’s reluctance to do so in its report; and despite the refusal to date of Australian and Dutch police, coronial investigators and pathologists to release the detailed autopsy evidence they have gathered of the shrapnel which struck the aircraft and the bodies of those on board. According to the DSB report, shrapnel killed the crew in the cockpit, and three pieces of shrapnel, characteristic of warhead type 9N314M , were found in the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot. No crew member or passenger in the aircraft, outside the cockpit, was struck by this shrapnel, according to the DSB.
On these three pieces of metal hangs the case for a Buk missile detonation as the cause of crash; the cause of death; and Russian culpability for the shoot-down. But a search through the DSB records, and through the technical reports of shrapnel impact and blast simulation on which the DSB has based its conclusions, together with interviews with spokesmen for the Dutch investigations, finds that the only evidence for the source of the three metal fragments turns out to be a classified military secret of the Dutch Ministry of Defence. (more…)
The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) reported yesterday that its evidence for concluding that a single ground-to-air Buk missile caused the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was an explosive blast of sound on the cockpit voice recorder lasting 2.3 milliseconds; a spray pattern of damage to the cockpit area of the fuselage; three distinctively shaped metal fragments (lead image) found in the bodies of the cockpit crew; a chemical analysis of explosive residues missing 2 out of 3 warhead explosives; and a match of paint samples collected up to 4 months apart.
The fine arithmetic of this evidence has convinced the Dutch to pinpoint the source as a Buk missile type 9M38, with a warhead model 9N314M. The larger arithmetic of the area from which the DSB has calculated the missile was fired – 50 square kilometres of crash area; 320 square kilometres of launch area – has proved to be inconclusive for a judgement of who fired the missile, and thus who is responsible for the crash and for the deaths of the 298 crew and passengers on board. That said, aviation lawyers close to the MH17 case now believe there is no evidence of a crime – a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a crime of terrorism — that would meet international prosecution standards. For what lawyers have done, or not done, to examine the case for evidence of a crime, or evidence of civil negligence, read this.
Just how circumstantial and inconclusive the newly reported Dutch results turn out to be was revealed two days before the release of the Dutch report, when the Australian Federal Police (AFP) released unusual criticism of Australian Government officials. According to the AFP, public Australian Government interpretations of the crash evidence and assignments of blame cannot be supported by the evidence the AFP’s officers had collected themselves at the crash scene in Ukraine, in the autopsy process in The Netherlands, and in the subsequent forensic testing of what was found in the bodies of the MH17 victims. (more…)
Between buying his bank from Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2004 and losing it to the Central Bank of Russia at the end of December, 2014, Ilya Yurov, chairman of National Bank (NB) Trust, made a fortune. How much of it he has kept for himself, at the expense of his depositors, shareholders and bondholders, isn’t clear yet. The Central Bank and Moscow prosecutors currently charge that $256 million was stolen from Trust over the past three years through fraudulent loans offshore, the money moved in and out of Cyprus, Switzerland, and Austria, back to Russia, and out again. The amount missing from the bank, according to investigators who have yet to finish the forensic accounting for a much longer period of time, may be turn out to be between $2 billion and $3 billion. (more…)
“I wish I had sent one more helicopter to get the hostages,” former US president Jimmy Carter said at one of his farewell appearances in Atlanta recently, “and we would’ve rescued them, and I would’ve been re-elected.”
Compared to his predecessors and successors Carter was intellectually superior. He also didn’t suffer from the corruption of Bill Clinton, the untruthfulness of Barack Obama. But unlike all of them, Carter had an inferiority complex. It started with his career mentor, the Polish Jewish admiral Hyman Rickover, and ended with his national security advisor, the Polish Catholic Zbigniew Brzezinski. Their combination has produced the eventual destruction of the US positions in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and these days, Syria.
The other side to Carter’s complex is Carter’s and Brzezinski’s wishful thinking. Not their misjudgements have brought these defeats about, they say aloud. Why, they weren’t defeats at all, but victorious strategies missing just one increment of the force multiple, and costing the US little blood, affordable treasure. One more gunship in the sky, and their triumph would have been recognized for what it was. That’s to say, what they in their dodders think it was. (more…)
A fight over fees by Australian lawyers claiming to launch a compensation claim on behalf of one of the victims of the MH17 shoot-down revealed last week in an Australian state court that the top officials of the Australian Government are unable to confirm evidence of what crime was committed, or who committed it when the aircraft was destroyed, and its 298 crew and passengers, including 38 Australians and 196 Dutch, killed on July 17, 2014.
In the Netherlands, meanwhile, a lawyer who has claimed to be representing Dutch kin in pursuing criminal and civil court suits on behalf of the victims, has declared: “Our government must clearly express that it is an illusion to believe that any study ever could lead to prosecution of the individual offenders.”
A secret file by the Australian Attorney-General to the Prime Minister, setting out the admissibility of evidence for prosecuting the crime, has recommended against a public declaration by the Government of what happened, and who is responsible. The disclosure of the file, though not of the secret evidence or of the internal Australian Government debate over its contents, comes just days before the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) is due to issue its final report on the causes of the crash. (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.