NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T – US SATELLITE EVIDENCE AND THE MH17 TRIAL

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US satellite images proving that a BUK missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, have existed for twenty-three days – between July 20 and August 12, 2014. Since then they ceased to exist.  Since then too, for almost six years, no US Government official has claimed in public, nor told Dutch police, prosecutors, or military intelligence officials in secret, that the images can be viewed with the naked eye.

A week ago, on March 23, Hendrik Steenhuis, a judge of The Hague District Court, ordered the production and disclosure of these US satellite images as evidence in the trial of four men accused of transporting the missile to its launch site, participating in the order to fire, and intending to kill all 298 people on board the aircraft.

Steenhuis, the presiding trial judge, gave Dutch prosecutors until June 8 to comply with the order and prove the satellite images exist. If they do not, the foundation of the case against the four accused, and against the Russian military and political command for ordering the BUK launched, will collapse.

Lawyers with experience in comparable international tribunals are sceptical of both Judge Steenhuis’s order, and of the likelihood the US Government and Dutch prosecutors will obey it.  Christopher Black was a Canadian lawyer for the defence in the Yugoslav trials beginning in 1993, and the Rwanda trials commencing in 1994. He says: “In our trial at the ICTR [International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda] we pushed the judges to order the prosecution to produce what they claimed they had. Several times under our browbeating, they did make such orders. But they were never followed up. The prosecution never complied, even when a couple of times they were roasted by the judges for disregarding their orders. They didn’t care and nothing was done. We think it was all window-dressing for the press in order to make the judges appear neutral when they were part of the prosecution.”

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FOLLOW CHINA, FOLLOW RUSSIA, FOLLOW AMERICA — THE POLITICS OF COVID-19 ALTERNATIVES WITHOUT CHOICE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

“The immediate priority is to prevent the quick spread of this disease”, President Vladimir Putin (lead image, top left) declared in his state speech on the corona virus last week.  

This is the point on which there is no disagreement, not now at least. But how restrictive for the economy the anti-contagion measures should be, and at what cost compared to the cost of the virus impact on life and death, is a point of considerable debate, inside Russia as everywhere else. That is the point which Putin avoided. He is not alone among the heads of state or government in the rest of the world.  What is the difference then between Putin and all of them?

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ANGLO-AMERICAN STANDARD OR DUTCH TREAT – WILL THE MH17 TRIAL STOP FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE OR END IN ACQUITTAL?

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

“Where no case is made out against a man, or such a flimsy one that it cannot stand on its feet, he is entitled to say: ‘I ask the jury to say that I am not guilty without hearing a word from me.’”

That sentence was written almost sixty years ago by one of the most brilliant tellers of courtroom stories in the English language, Henry Cecil. Nom de plume of an English county court judge,  Cecil  put the words in the mouth of the barrister for the defendant, in his summing-up for the jury. The story is a whodunit, with much of Cecil’s characteristic poking of fun and then, at the end — well, a surprise I shan’t reveal.

In the tale of the trial of four defendants accused of murder in the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines MH17, there are no jokes. But the proceedings which commenced at Schiphol, in The Netherlands, on March 9 and adjourned on March 23 for ten weeks, did have a surprise ending. That is also the point of Cecil’s defence speech. The point is that the Dutch prosecutors have revealed the case they are making out against the defendants, and also,  they insist, against the Russian state, is such a flimsy one, it cannot stand on its own feet. It should therefore be dismissed by the panel of three judges.

Recognizing this in his first ruling, issued on March 23, Hendrik Steenhuis, the presiding judge, gave the prosecution, the Dutch Government behind them,  and the US Government behind them,  one last chance.

This was his order to produce in court the crucial piece of evidence on which the case of murder depends – the US satellite images which US officials have long claimed to prove the firing of a BUK missile at MH17 and to have reported in secret to Dutch intelligence. But since the evidence of the chief of Dutch military intelligence, and also of the investigating police and prosecutors – official secrets now leaked in public – is that the US has not provided the evidence, the judge’s order is an ultimatum.

If the evidence isn’t produced by June 8, when the court resumes, the court will be asked to rule that the defendants have no case to answer.

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RUSSIA’S MEDICAL AID OPERATION TO ITALY AVOIDED, NOT JUST POLISH AIRSPACE, BUT US ATTEMPTS TO STOP IT

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On Sunday, March 22, Russia’s Defence Ministry sent more than fifteen Ilyushin heavy transport planes to Rome with medical aid to Italy, setting up a special medical headquarters at Bergamo, in the Lombady region of northern Italy.  This is the largest Russian aid operation in Europe since World War II.

To avoid US intervention to stop it, the air convoy flew across Turkish and Greek airspace, avoiding Ukraine and Poland. As military secrets go, the operational plan devised by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Italian counterpart, Lorenzo Guerini, was a near-perfect success.

Recriminations followed the next day from the Financial Times which accused Moscow of  trying to “exploit EU tensions over medical export bans and delays in financial support.”  The newspaper quoted the director of an Italian think-tank, Nathalie Tocci, as saying “Russia needs a quick win, so it wants to act fast…It does what Russia always does, which is seize low-hanging fruit.” Tocci and her think-tank are employed by NATO, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, and the European Defence Agency.

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JUDGE DROPS A BOMBSHELL IN MH17 TRIAL – DUTCH PROSECUTORS CONCEAL COURT ORDER TO PRODUCE US SATELLITE DATA ALLEGEDLY SHOWING BUK MISSILE FIRING

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The presiding judge in the trial of murder in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, dropped a bombshell at the end of his 45-minute ruling presented in court in The Netherlands yesterday.   

The Dutch prosecutors are now attempting to cover it up. A press spokesman, Monique Buunk, was asked for a copy of the judge’s ruling. She declined and refused to explain. A summary of the ruling issued by the prosecution press office on Monday afternoon said only: “the court also put a number of questions to the prosecution and counsel for the relatives.” The court has now adjourned until June 8.

Reading from a prepared paper, Judge Hendrik Steenhuis (lead image) ordered the Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team, which has provided the evidence for the murder charges, to report to the court whether US satellite data, allegedly showing the firing of a BUK missile to bring down the aircraft, have been provided to the investigation. The judge’s order also requires the prosecutors to explain whether the American satellite evidence can now be released to the court and to the lawyers representing Oleg Pulatov, one of the four men accused in the firing of the missile.

On January 22, 2016, according to Steenhuis , Dutch members of parliament were briefed by a Dutch satellite expert at a parliamentary discussion of the MH17 case that “the US has satellite images of the missile being fired”, and that these images were “shared with Dutch intelligence.” According to Steenhuis, the MP also announced “the US has no objection to declassification”. “Is this correct?” Steenhuis issued an order to the prosecutors for reply. “Is this satellite data to be released?”

The order for disclosure of the US satellite evidence opens in court for the first time the possibility that the Dutch prosecution may not be able to produce the satellite images because the US has not released them;  because a Dutch military intelligence report of September 21, 2016,  says it had received from the US no satellite imagery of a BUK missile launch at MH17; and because the US claim to have the satellite data is a fabrication. 

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JUDGE DROPS A BOMBSHELL IN MH17 TRIAL – DUTCH PROSECUTORS ORDERED TO PRODUCE US SATELLITE DATA ALLEGEDLY SHOWING BUK MISSILE FIRING

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The presiding judge in the trial of murder in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, has dropped a bombshell at the end of his 45-minute presentation in court in The Netherlands on Monday morning.  

Reading from a prepared script, Judge Hendrik Steenhuis (lead image) ordered the Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team, which has provided the evidence for the murder charges, to report to the court whether US satellite data, allegedly showing the launch of a BUK missile to bring down the aircraft, have been provided to the investigation. The judge’s order also requires the prosecutors to explain whether the American satellite evidence can now be released to the court and to the lawyers representing Oleg Pulatov, one of the four men accused in the firing of the missile.

On January 22, 2016, according to Hendrick, a Dutch member of parliament claimed in a parliamentary hearing that “the US has satellite images of the missile being fired”, and that these images were “shared with Dutch intelligence.” The Dutch parliamentarian was not named. According to Steenhuis, the MP also announced “the US has no objection to declassification”.

“Is this correct?” Steenhuis issued an order to the prosecutors for answer.  “Is this satellite data to be released?”

The order for disclosure of the US satellite evidence opens in court for the first time the possibility that the Dutch prosecution may not be able to produce the satellite images because the US has not released them;  because a Dutch military intelligence report of September 21, 2016,  says it had received from the US no satellite imagery of a BUK missile launch at MH17; and because the data may not exist at all.

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TURKISH PRESIDENT ERDOGAN CAUGHT PLAYING THE ENDS AGAINST THE MIDDLE IN IDLIB

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

At the end of President Putin’s war talks in Moscow with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (lead image) on March 5, Erdogan refused to shake the hand of Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Erdogan’s insult, in the presence of Putin, revealed the Turkish president’s anger at the defeat  his ambitions have suffered on the battlefields of northern Syria, at the hands of the Russian military. By snubbing Shoigu at the farewells, Erdogan was revealing that he blamed the Defence Ministry and General Staff for opposing the terms of troop deployment, reinforcement of arms, and rules of engagement which he demanded, and was repeatedly refused, during the five hours of negotiations.   

Shoigu knows Erdogan knows that he expects him to attempt to break out of the new agreement, just as he has done with the two Sochi agreements of September 17, 2018 and October 22, 2019.  Erdogan hates him for that. Shoigu is content to let Erdogan demonstrate to Putin which of them cannot control himself.

On March 19, when Erdogan, his Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, decided on their breakout along the M4 highway, just as the Russians were expecting, they triggered a new test of Kremlin strategy. 

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ATTEMPT TO ARRANGE PRESIDENT PUTIN’S MEETING WITH MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN TO STABILIZE OIL MARKET

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

An attempt is underway to arrange a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to restore the agreement on oil production cuts which MbS broke at the March 6 meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia (OPEC+).  The Crown Prince is reportedly now ready to agree on a formula for oil production limits along the lines already discussed with the Russians.

His pre-condition is a domestic Saudi one. He is insisting that he will meet President Putin as the Saudi head of state, no longer as Crown Prince. This means that the full and formal transfer of power from his father King Salman bin Abdullaziz will take place “imminently”. 

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WAR ON THE TOILET PAPER FRONT — RUSSIA’S TISSUE BATTLES SWEDES, TURKS, AMERICANS

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Russian toilet paper is a national secret – not a state secret, but a commercial one.

This is because production, sales and profits have been growing fast – and this has been for the past five years, before the current toilet paper panic.

Secrecy is also in operation because the major foreign companies would like to keep the lion’s share of the Russian  market boom by out-selling or buying up the competing Russian toilet paper companies. They, in their turn, want to push the foreigners out by consolidating among themselves and lobbying for government measures to do that.  Consolidation of assets and market share is what western market analysts call it. In Russia it can be called asset raiding. This is when one toilet paper company takes over a rival at a price for the assets which is below the real asset value.

In the bum boom, on the hot seat at the moment are Essity, a unit of SCA, the Swedish paper and pulp group group, which is currently the Russian market leader with a third of the market; Hayat Kimya, a Turkish group trying to expand from its base in Tatarstan; and Kimberly-Clark, the Kleenex maker of the US, which is losing market share to the Russian brands. SCA and Kimberly-Clark are stock exchange-listed shareholding companies with public reporting and accounting obligations. The Hayat holding is privately held. About their Russian business they are as secretive as each other. Altogether, the Russians produce just over half the toilet paper sold in the market; the Swedes, Turks and Americans,  just under half. That proportion is about to change. 

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THE DEFENCE OPENS ITS CASE IN THE MH17 TRIAL, CHARGING THE DUTCH PROSECUTORS WITH ILLEGAL HOBBLING, SABOTAGE AND EXCESSIVE HASTE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Defence lawyers for Oleg Pulatov, one of the four men charged by the Dutch government with murder in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, have told the court the prosecutors were acting illegally in the case they have presented so far.

A lawyer for the 298 victims killed on board the aircraft, and their next of kin, also accused the prosecution of unlawfully keeping the evidence in the case file secret. No reporters for the international or Dutch media have published this part of the trial.

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BRITISH CHEMICAL WARFARE LABORATORY ADMITS IT WAS PRODUCING AND TESTING NOVICHOK IN 2014, FOUR YEARS BEFORE SERGEI SKRIPAL “DISCOVERED” IT

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, the principal chemical warfare testing unit of the British Ministry of Defence, has acknowledged it was producing and testing the organophosphate nerve agent Novichok from 2014.

This is four years before Sergei Skripal, the retired double agent for the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and his daughter Yulia, were incapacitated by a nerve agent in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. The British Government has called that nerve agent Novichok. According to the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaking to the House of Commons on March 12, 2018, “it is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’…the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.”

The admission of British Government testing of Novichok since 2014 came from DSTL in a letter of last week, dated March 11, 2020. This was the laboratory’s reply to a Freedom of Information Act (2000) request for details of testing of organophosphate chemicals on monkeys.  The reply said the testing programme between 2014 and 2019 was a “Home Office project”. Its purpose was “development of medical countermeasures for nerve agent exposure”. Regarding the testing of Novichok on monkeys in this period, DSTL said “no other organophosphate compounds have been tested.”

The admission appears to contradict the official narrative of the British Government that Novichok was produced in Russia and brought to the UK by Russian military intelligent agents on a mission to kill Sergei Skripal. The Defence Ministry, through DSTL, appears now to be  admitting  its own secret chemical warfare operation in breach of the international Chemical Weapons Convention.   In consequence, this would have been of particular interest to Russian and many other military intelligence agencies.

In Salisbury, which is close to Porton Down and to the headquarters of the British military’s chemical warfare command centre, Skripal had been living among British intelligence officers and Wiltshire police since mid-2010; this followed his release from a Russian prison in a spy exchange. He was subjected to an unusually lengthy period of testing by British security agents to determine whether he was a triple agent still loyal to GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency he had been convicted in Moscow for betraying. If Skripal subsequently obtained information about the top-secret Novichok programme at Porton Down, he may have been judged by the British counter-intelligence service MI5 to represent a serious threat of disclosure.

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THE FACE OF DUTCH JUSTICE LAUNCHES A THOUSAND SLIPS

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Lesions in the frontal lobe of a normal human being will cause deficits in the executive mental capacities; things like organizing data, planning action, archiving for memory, controlling anger, and the ability to make inferences about the intentions of others. Neurological trials have proved this beyond reasonable doubt.

The lead images present the frontal lobes and the faces of the three principal prosecutors in the Dutch trial of murder in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 six years ago. Their names are, from left to right, Thijs Berger, Ward Ferdinandusse, and Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi.

Analysis of every word they have spoken on the second day of the MH17 trial, March 10, reveals so many mistakes in Dutch criminal law and procedure that the medical condition of their frontal lobes is, to independent specialists, suspect. The resulting risk is for the defendants they are prosecuting – three Russians and a Ukrainian; and also the Russian state, which Berger accused of  “a disturbing pattern of active involvement on the part of Russian security services, specifically the GRU and the FSB in murders in other countries.”

The prosecutors did not speak off the cuff. They read scripts which their brains, and also those of their supervisors at the Public Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Justice, had drafted, reviewed, corrected, edited, and authorized in advance.  The pathological evidence presented, therefore, is of more than three individual frontal lobes, but also of the frontal lobe of the Dutch judicial system.

Only if that is tested according to the Dutch Criminal Code and the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure can this trial commence lawfully for the four accused of intentionally murdering 298 passengers and crew on board MH17 when it was shot down on July 17, 2014. So everything the prosecutors have said has been extracted, weighed, and dissected. Here are the neurological and jurisprudential results of the examination.  

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HOW TO MEASURE PREJUDICE – DUTCH JUDGE HENDRIK STEENHUIS DEMONSTRATES IN THE MH17 SHOW TRIAL

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In the first two hours of the first day of the Dutch trial of allegations of murder in the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Hendrik Steenhuis, the presiding judge, revealed that the judgement for  Dutch court jurisdiction for the case to proceed is inevitable. He did that three months before he has scheduled a hearing on the question. Steenhuis also revealed that a judgement of guilt against the three Russian and one Ukrainian defendants is not less inevitable.

Judgements in a trial scheduled to run for at least twelve months, issued before lunch was served to the judges on their first day, are the makings of a show trial.

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PREMATURE EJACULATION IS A SAUDI PROBLEM, NOT A RUSSIAN ONE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Russia is not the initiator of the war on the oil front which is now under way. Not Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak (lead image, right), but Mohammed Bin Salman (left), the Saudi Crown Prince and chief executive of the sheikhdom.

This is war propaganda from the Financial Times : “ ‘There was a consensus among Opec [to cut production]. Russia objected and has said that from April 1 everyone can produce whatever they like. So the kingdom too is exercising its right,’ said one person familiar with Saudi oil policy.”

This is more lying from the New York Times: “Moscow refused to accept production cuts to offset the effect of the coronavirus outbreak”

What is true is that the war started with the US Government; its spetsnaz, the shale oil producers;  and their offensive to capture  market share from the traditional producers, the member states of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries led by Saudi Arabia, plus Russia (OPEC+). Pressing this attack when oil demand started falling, as the corona virus damaged the global economy, obliged the defenders to agree between themselves on tactics. The Russians argued for holding the current position, and let the virus, the demand dynamic, and the elapse of time damage the Americans. The Saudis argued for a break-out, a counter-offensive. Between lower-risk defence in place, and a higher-risk sally, it’s impossible to do both at the same time. Three things happened next.

They illustrate the lesson the Russian command will now teach Mohammad Bin Salman, as last week’s lesson was taught on the Syrian war front to Tayyip Recep Erdogan, Turkey’s President. Defence in depth will usually defeat offence, even surprise attack, when it runs beyond the lines of supply and reserve.

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DUTCH PROSECUTORS REVEAL FIVE METHODS FOR WITNESS TAMPERING TO FABRICATE MH17 CASE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Bribes; early release from prison; threats to kill; covert operations inside Russia, including rendition; and intimidation of relatives.

These have been five of the methods planned for obtaining witness testimony for the trial of the criminal destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.  The trial opens on Monday, March 9, in The Netherlands. The Dutch prosecution alleges that three Russians and one Ukrainian intended to murder the 298 passengers and crew on board the aircraft by firing a BUK missile.

Details of the witness tampering plan have been released to reporters in The Hague by Bonanza Media this weekend. In their secret conference police officers and prosecutors from The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and the Ukraine acknowledged they knew what they were planning was a violation of the law of the states they represented. This was acceptable to the Australian police representative  so long, he said, as it was a “covert operation”. The Ukrainian prosecutor said he “sees no problem if this is done by The Netherlands. It’s like a regular intelligence operation.”

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MI6 & BBC REVEAL OPERATION MINCEPIE – SKRIPAL BLOOD-TESTS AT SALISBURY HOSPITAL FAILED TO SHOW NERVE AGENT UNTIL PORTON DOWN ADDED IT FOR THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT TO ANNOUNCE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In Operation MINCEMEAT, the brightest and the best of British secret intelligence available in London between January and March 1943, dressed up a corpse as a high-ranking British Army  courier. He was dropped into the water off the Spanish coast, so that he would wash up for a German Army patrol to find, along with a briefcase of top-secret General Staff letters and plans. They were fakes made to fool Adolph Hitler and his military commanders about where the D-Day invasion would take place.  Deceiving the enemy turned out to be a big success.  The corpse belonged to a 34-year old Welshman, homeless and mentally ill, who had been taken to St. Pancras Hospital in London and treated for acute organo-phosphate poisoning. He died. He had committed suicide with rat poison.

In Operation MINCEPIE, what’s left of British secret intelligence in March 2018 dressed up two  Russians – Sergei and Yulia Skripal, 66 and 33 years old respectively (lead images) – knocked them out on a bench in the middle of Salisbury,  and  took them to Salisbury District Hospital where they were treated for acute organo-phosphate poisoning. But they didn’t die so they have been locked up ever since.  This, too, has proved to be a big success at deceiving the enemy.

No! Whoa! Cut! Roll that sentence back! This, too, was a big success at deceiving the British people. The difference between MINCEMEAT and MINCEPIE isn’t between rat poison and the nerve agent the British call Novichok; nor between the corpse of the Welsh tramp and the live Russians who are now dead to the world. The telling difference is that the secret intelligence boys have given the game away the second time round.  The biggest similarity is that Hitler and the British people didn’t notice until it was too late.

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THE CATHERINE PRINCIPLE FOR NEGOTIATING WITH THE TURKS – LET ARMS DO THE TALKING

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Between 11:30 Moscow time on Thursday and 14:00,  President Vladimir Putin spent two and a half hours talking with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with interpreters present but no one else, and including lunch and toilet breaks. The two presidents then spent three hours and twenty minutes in talks with delegations of their officials before appearing at 17:22 for another sixteen minutes in front of the press. The Turkish clock for the negotiations counted 5 hours 40 minutes; the Kremlin clock, six hours.

The outcome was a document entitled “Additional Protocol to the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-escalation Area”. This comprises an agreement of three paragraphs amounting to ten lines, and a preamble of four paragraphs repeating what professionals call boilerplate; that’s to say, points with which everyone agrees in principle, and no one in practice.

The difference between the amount of time and effort expended and the outcome isn’t between the mountain and the molehill. It is the result of the Russian side applying the brief script dictated to Putin by the Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and the General Staff led by General Valery Gersasimov,  and  confirmed the day before by the Security Council.

The script is dictated by the principle of the tsarina, Empress Catherine II, during the Turkish-Russian wars of 1768 to 1792. The principle is that nothing the Turks say they agree to or sign  can be relied upon; and that everything the Turks can’t achieve with their army will be tested again and again, until and unless they are defeated by the battle of arms and the defence of territory by more force than the Turks can overcome. The corollary of the Catherine principle is that the new agreement between Putin and Erdogan cannot last for long. Because both sides know this, their heads were in the down position, their eyes averted, for longer than has ever been recorded at their summit meetings before.  

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NEW MH17 LEAK – DUTCH PROSECUTORS HAVE RECEIVED NO US SATELLITE EVIDENCE OF THE SHOOT-DOWN BY A BUK MISSILE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A new document, leaked from the files of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in The Netherlands,  reveals that Dutch prosecutors told the Australian, Belgian and Ukrainian representatives on the team, that the US Government had not presented any satellite evidence of a BUK missile firing at Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The aircraft was destroyed above eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

“We haven’t received anything from them”, one of the Dutch officials told the JIT, according to minutes of a meeting of JIT leaders on December 4, 2015.  There were eight  officials recorded at the meeting, four of them Dutch, two Belgians, one Australian,  and one Ukrainian. The Malaysian Government, which is also a member of the JIT but refuses to endorse the Dutch allegations of Russian culpability in the shootdown, was reported to be absent from the  JIT meeting recorded on February 12, 2016. The leaked document claims the Dutch had made “unsuccessful attempts to connect both with Royal Malaysia Police and Malaysia Attorney-General’s Office.”

The meeting was held at the Dutch National Police Central Crime Unit at Driebergen. The Ukrainian official participated by video link to the Ukrainian Embassy in The Hague.

“We should receive the official report from Dutch Military [Intelligence] on U.S. data by mid-March [2016],” the JIT officials agreed. “Then we can determine future actions.”

The disclosure of their classified meeting record took place at a public briefing in London this week by Max van der Werff and Yana Yerlashova, the Bonanza Media partners in a long-running independent investigation of the MH17 crash.

The document provides evidence directly contradicting US Secretary of State John Kerry. He announced on July 20 and August 12, 2014, that he had seen US satellite imagery of the attack on the MH17 flight – the launch of a ground-based missile, its flight, and then detonation beside the civilian aircraft in flight.  “We picked up the imagery of this launch,” Kerry announced on NBC television just three days after the crash. “We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing….And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft [MH17] disappeared from the radar.”  US officials have been unable to substantiate this in public or in the Dutch proceedings.

The leaked document also reveals that by February 12, 2016, no US satellite data had been handed over to the JIT. Seven months later, on September 21, 2016 – another leak from JIT files revealed last week — the head of the Dutch military intelligence agency MIVD, Major-General Onno Eichelsheim,  reported to the Dutch prosecutors that the US and NATO satellite data shown to his agency revealed that no Russian BUK missile radar and launch units had crossed the border into Ukraine before or on July 17, 2014; no BUK missile radar targeting or firing on MH17 had been detected; and no identified Russian units on the Russian side of the border had launched missiles.”

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CYBER SOLDIERS PENETRATE THE SKRIPAL CASE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Cyber attacks have been launched in England to stop publication of new evidence in the Skripal case from being published this week on the second anniversary of the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, March 4, 2018.

The targets were The Blogmire produced by Rob Slane from Salisbury, and this website produced from Moscow. The Blogmire was disabled and inaccessible to readers between last Thursday and Saturday.  Then on Monday evening this site was attacked. The evidence left behind by the attackers shows they come from the same source, using the same unusual method of attack and concealment.

Reporters and columnists for the London papers also say they are under pressure from their editors not to report on or review the new book, Skripal in Prison, published on February 13. According to Mary Dejevsky, columnist for The Independent, “the govt’s info people have managed by various stratagems, incl silence, to close the whole thing down.”

The Blogmire publishes essays by Slane (right), a church minister, on a range of religious, political and social topics. The website opened in 2014; Slane’s reports on the Skripal case began on March 12, 2018. Printed out, they currently run to more than three hundred pages. They have also drawn comments, additional data, factual corrections of police, prosecutor, and politician claims, together with speculations about motive, timing and modus operandi. Altogether on the website, attached as threads to Slane’s reports, there are several thousand comments from individuals, some of whom identify themselves, some of whom prefer to stay anonymous; some are very well-informed. MI6 and the BBC have dismissed them as “truthers or pro-Kremlin users”.

The website can be opened here.

The Skripal archive is here.  Peak readership has been running at more than 90,000.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4-1-1024x410.png

“When I began writing about the Skripal case,” Slane said in August 2018,  “I was moved to do so by three main considerations. Firstly, I really am passionate for the truth, and whatever the truth happens to be in this case, I strongly desire it to be made manifest. It was clear to me fairly early on that this was not happening. Secondly, I am also very passionate about concepts such as the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty, and the apparently quaint notion that investigations should precede verdicts, rather than the other way around. And so when I saw accusations being made before the investigation had hardly begun, verdicts being reached before the facts were established, I was appalled – appalled that this was happening in what we British pride ourselves is the Mother of Parliaments, and equally appalled that this meant the investigation was inevitably prejudiced and – pardon the expression – poisoned from the off. Thirdly, the incident happened to have taken place pretty much on my doorstep, which made it of even more interest to me.”

“I still do not have any clear idea of what happened on that day, but what I am certain of is that the official narrative is not only untrue, but it is manifestly inconceivable that it could be true. There are simply too many inconsistencies, too many holes and far too many unexplained events for it to be true.”

Last week, after the cyber attack began on The Blogmire, the website’s server reported: “A recent review of your account uncovered it has been compromised. We found malicious scripts running in the background that appear to be sending spam emails. In order to prevent further abuse/spam, we have suspended your account.” A server notice posted at the site’s address told readers the site had been suspended, but no details were provided.  After a lengthy damage assessment and repairs, Slane reported:  “Was this the work of Spook Bots, intent on disabling the site because of its investigations and the insightful thoughts from many wonderful commentators? Possibly. Or just the work of Bog Standard Bots with nothing better to do with their time? Possibly.” That was on February 29.

More evidence materialized on Monday, March 2. This was left behind after a cyber attack on this website, Dances with Bears. This was not the usual type of operation.

Attacks of the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) type are frequent, usually in response to investigations of Russian oligarchs and their London lawyers or of major court cases or stock exchange flotations  involving Russian businesses with big money at stake.  DDoS attacks work by generating very large volumes of near-simultaneous reader clicks on a portal address, server or network, overloading it and forcing it to shut down.

Some of these incidents have been reported, though for our security and defence, the details and the methods developed to identify and repel the attacks have not. If you see the sign of the fighting bears, you know someone powerful enough to employ hackers doesn’t want you to read the new publication.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5-—-копия-—-копия.png

The operation against this site and the Blogmire was not DDoS. The telltale signs indicate a source with cyber warfare expertise which is different from that of commercial hackers and the companies which employ them. The source has been profiled and tracked, and new defences established.

Skripal in Prison, which was the target, can be read here.

To prevent the book from being read, and its evidence of British government faking from being reviewed, methods which are more human,  less electronic, are being used. The main London newspapers, the weeklies, and book reviews have come under pressure not to challenge the official narrative of the Skripal case, and not to allow the book to be reported.

Mary Dejevsky, a Russia specialist and columnist for The Independent, says the British government “has ensured that there’s nothing new to say that they wouldn’t immediately dismiss as speculation or worse.” The Skripal case is a “scandalous saga”, she adds, but “govt info people” are actively deterring a review of the new book because “no outlet would take it.”

LESSONS ON HOW TURKS FIGHT AND HOW RUSSIANS FIGHT THEM UNTIL THEY RUN AWAY, ONLY TO TRY AGAIN

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Everything, including artillery fire, infantry movements, launch of drones, rockets and refugees,  even losses of territory and men, is planned by three Turks – President Tayyip Recep Erdogan (lead images);  Defence Minister and former head of the Turkish General Staff, Hulusi Akar;   and Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (in Turkish, MIT). Call them the Sultan and the Ugly Viziers (SUV).  

An SUV is never as serious as it would like to appear.  This Turkish SUV also planned the July 2016 coup in Istanbul and Ankara. Nothing they do, including the sacrifice of large numbers of their own people, will result in a military coup to remove them, no matter how costly their mistakes. Those Turks who can calculate their mistakes are in jail or dead.  

The SUV has decided to fight for Syria outside the lines of the Sochi agreement. With artillery firing from the Turkish side of the Syrian border, they decided to fight a new battle for Saraqib, east of Idlib, and succeeded. In the battle they lost up to 60 regulars; the Syrian Army lost more than a thousand. The Syrians have gained in the south of Idlib; they have lost Saraqib.  They must retake it and hold it; they will; they have done so.

Russian forces have now established a cordon around the city. They have restored air cover for the Syrian Army, and just as importantly, extended their electronic counter measure (ECM) defences to the frontier and further. The drones on which the SUV depended for targeting their long-range guns and for attacking Syrian Army units have been neutralized. The Russian resupplies now arriving by sea and air are more than a match for the small force the SUV has committed so far.

Defeat makes the SUV keener than ever to hide their weakness. Akar has retreated from his field headquarters in the south to Ankara, as the SUV prepares to meet Putin and the Stavka on Thursday in Moscow. A Russian military analyst reports the General Staff assessment awaiting him: “General Akar should keep himself in check, because it is one thing to inflate the enemy’s losses somewhat and pass off old videos as fresh ones. It’s quite another to write fiction novels in the context of information war.”

The SUV responds to force of arms more than to the force of money. They calculate President Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin advisors are the opposite. The SUV will continue to operate NATO AWACS aircraft for attempting the same ambush tactics they used against the Russian Air Force in November 2015. The SUV will try to threaten with US weapons the Pentagon will not hazard in a losing fight.  The Turks will push against the cowardice they have come to expect from the Greek Government in Athens and President Nikos Anastasiades in Nicosia. This has been a winning strategy for the SUV until they overreached with force instead of bluff. When the SUV goes through the Spassky Gate on Thursday, for the first time in the four hundred years since the Ottoman siege of Vienna, a single army, Russia’s, is defending all of Europe.  

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SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL “DESPERATE” AND “UNDER HOUSE ARREST” IN ENGLAND — LAST BRITISH CONVICTS FOR TRANSPORTATION TO AUSTRALIA

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A London newspaper on Sunday, citing “security insiders” as the source, claims Sergei and Yulia Skripal are “desperate to leave the UK”, and are “living under house arrest…[at] a secret location where [they are] guarded by British intelligence agents.” The report also claims they “may have already travelled to Australia and New Zealand to scout possible locations.”

The newspaper report has appeared days before the second anniversary of the incident in Salisbury, England, on March 4, 2018. Then, according to British Government allegations, the Skripals were the targets of a murder attempt by a nerve agent manufactured in Russia and delivered by Russian assassins. The attempt failed.  

In the history of the British criminal law, the Skripals are the only targets of a crime who have not been allowed to testify in public nor communicate with their kin; Sergei Skripal was last heard of in a telephone call to his mother’s house on June 26, 2019; Yulia Skripal on July 18, 2018. The British authorities have yet to produce in court evidence of the crime, the weapon, the crime scene, or even the arrest warrants allegedly issued by the Crown Prosecution Service for the culprits.

The book, Skripal in Prison, just published, provides the full story.

Sources in the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the organisation in charge of witness protection in that country, indicate there is “no verification that the [London] article is correct.” The Australian Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, to whom the AFP reports, refuses to say whether the Skripals have visited Australia, or whether there has been any discussion with the British Government on relocation to Australia and protection for the Skripals. Nicole Chant, confirming her role as Dutton’s spokesman and agreeing to follow up on the London press report, said by telephone: “I don’t want to be referred to in any article.”

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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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