A stent is a contraption which cardiologists have invented for opening a blockage in an artery so that blood can flow normally. Without it, the blockage will eventually lead to failure of circulation – an explosion of blood, the destruction of the artery, death.
Angela Stent considers herself a contraption to save US policymaking towards Russia from defeat and destruction. Instead, however, the book she’s written illustrates the opposite. She’s not the saving surgeon, but the collapsing patient, whose failure to understand the basics of circulation makes effective repair impossible, and is bound to lead, if not to an explosion of blood, then to the accelerated demise of the command system Stent represents.
Just over a year ago, five New York Times reporters published lies about the dead ducks they were told had been killed by Russian assassins running amok in the English town of Salisbury with a poison they called Novichok. This was a lie which came from the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gina Haspel. She told her lie to President Donald Trump, who promoted her to head the CIA a few days later. She then handed the lie to the reporters to print as proof of how much the President trusted her.
Two of the reporters, called Julian Barnes (lead image, centre) and Adam Goldman (right), refused to explain, retract or apologise for repeating Haspel’s lie as if it was the truth. They stuck to the lie even after the Salisbury authorities announced there had been no dead ducks. Instead, after three weeks of what Barnes called “research”, Haspel told them to print that she had shown Trump “pictures illustrating the consequences of nerve agent attacks, not images specific to the chemical attack in Britain”. That was a correction of the photographs, not of the lies which Haspel had told Trump, and the reporters continued to repeat.
Barnes and Goldman have now repeated more lies, this time about police violence against blacks in the US. The lies are occurring because “the Russian government has stepped up efforts to inflame racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election.” This time Barnes and Goldman repeat the lying because “seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence” told them to say so. The seven told the two to print that on March 10. Now look what has happened.
by John Helmer with translation of report by Gevorg Mirzayan, Moscow @bears_with
If the war in Libya continues the way Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thinks it has gone in recent days, the Eastern Mediterranean will be a Turkish sea for the first time since Napoleon defeated the Ottomans and took Egypt and Syria between 1798 and 1801. But with Russia engaged against the Turks on the ground, in the air and at sea, not yet.
In escalation of the civil war in Libya in April and this month, Turkey has added ground forces from Syria, as well as Navy frigates, Air Force F-16s, and the capture of the Al-Watiya air base west of Tripoli. The Turkish side has now created a reinforced corridor for ship and airborne supplies of men and arms into Libya in support of the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj.
The Greek Air Force has watched the Turks go by with aerial antics and diplomatic protests amounting to a white flag. No Greek or Cypriot military source has issued an appreciation, let alone criticism of this historic rout of the Hellenes in their own territorial waters.
Russia has reinforced the capability of the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar to deter the Turks and in an operation with MiG-29s early this week attacked a Turkish frigate off the Libyan coast and a Turkish freighter in Tripoli port.
The US has taken the Turkish side, announcing through Army General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US Africa Command in Frankfurt: “Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria.”
Detailed Russian situation briefs from the General Staff’s military intelligence agency (GRU) have been appearing in Vzglyad, the internet analytical publication in Moscow. In the translation to follow, a strategic assessment by Gevorg Mirzayan indicates what is now at stake in Libya.
Covid-19 and corona psychosis are parallel attacks on your health, pandemic in scale for both at the moment.
Among the recognised symptoms of Covid-19 in the central nervous system, there is ageusia (loss of taste) and anosmia (loss of smell). Newly discovered, there are also symptoms affecting eyesight, such conjunctival hyperemia, chemosis, and epiphora. Those are the medical terms for inflammation of the conjunctiva and excessive secretions from the eyes. Like tears when you weep, they blur the vision, though the fluid isn’t infectious. Face mask, goggles, gloves, hazmat suit are part of the personal protective equipment needed to defend the body organs most exposed. So is social distance from potentially infectious cases.
But they are no protection against the circulation of lies. The media messages which carry the lies attach themselves to human receptors, then mutate rapidly inside the brain, the voice box, and the fingertip-keyboard reflex. Consuming lies is the way you catch the corona psychosis; retweeting and retelling them in small, intimate spaces – laptop, tablet or smart phone – is the way they spread. The basic reproductive ratio of Covid-19 runs from 3 to 9 people infected by a single case, and the virus may take up to two weeks to reveal itself in symptoms or testing. The reproductive ratio of the corona psychosis is larger and faster. Blindfolds, earplugs, gags, and handcuffs are too unpopular with people to be implemented in most places. For the time being, there is a desperate shortage of antidotes and vaccines. Truth is an effective antidote, but most infected individuals don’t recognise they are missing it.
Gorilla Radio provides natural immunity if taken regularly in sustained doses over lengthy periods of time. Laboratory experimentation and human trialling with earfuls of the medicine are under way in Canada to demonstrate contraceptive effect before exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis. Think of each Gorilla Radio broadcast as a combination of condom before bare backing, and antiretroviral pills, PEP and ART, after you were enjoying yourself without restraint.
So don your earphones, turn up the volume, and sit back for an hour of the most advanced health cure available in the world today.
Pandemic or no pandemic, misery always and everywhere craves company.
After he had been running a high fever with diarrhoea and other symptoms, scribbling notes on the progression of his illness — London’s typhus plague of 1623 — John Donne not only wrote, famously, “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” He also added that publishing his fear shouldn’t be called “a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours… for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.”
If you were suffering from dizziness, anxiety, and paranoia when you began reading this, continuing to read will be no cure – except you will feel less alone. This is because you aren’t – and that’s part of the remedy. Or is it?
The increase of domestic violence among families locked into their homes for the past twelve weeks suggests there is a human limit to coping with other people’s miseries. Depression among doctors, nurses and paramedics currently treating Covid-19 patients is rising sharply. For patients who recover, the corona virus has neurological impacts, difficult to detect and easy to misinterpret as psychotic breaks. There has also been a spiking of public distrust in whatever others say, including politicians running for or trying to hold on to office, police, medical administrators, and most of all, the social, mass and alternative media.
Telephoning the International Institute of Psychosomatic Health in Moscow for their wagon to deliver a psychologist to your door may be an option. But the psychologist inside the wagon has spent the past week refusing to answer questions about the Institute’s service, except for the price. Now that’s the recognisable sound, as Donne used to say, of a bell tolling for thee.
A London barrister named Michael Mansfield (lead image, left) and solicitor Irene Nembhard (top right) have moved one step closer to claiming a multi-million pound payment from the British Government on their allegation that the British intelligence and security services had been negligent in protecting Dawn Sturgess from a Russian state assassination attack in 2018. The allegation was dismissed in a coroner’s court ruling last December. But this will now be reviewed by a High Court judge in a hearing planned to start in July.
The calculation of the lawyers is that the evidence of the Novichok nerve agent, of the Russian assassination plot against Sergei and Yulia Skripal (top left and centre), and of the cause of death of Sturgess is so secret, and also so false, the British Government will prefer to pay the lawyers their bounty, rather than let a High Court judge hear the evidence in open court and expose the truth.
There has been no court test to date of the British government’s narrative of what happened to the Skripals in Salisbury town centre on March 4, 2018; and then to Sturgess at a flat in nearby Amesbury on June 30, 2018; Sturgess died in Salisbury Hospital on July 8, allegedly of the same Novichok poisoning from which the Skripals have recovered. The inquest into the cause of her death has been repeatedly postponed and is unlikely to be held.
The Skripals are being held incommunicado: Yulia Skripal has not been heard from since July 24, 2018; Sergei Skripal not since June 26, 2019. London lawyers now say the Skripals may be called as witnesses to testify in the High Court.
One day after Australia was defeated at the World Health Assembly in a joint effort with the Trump Administration to attack China, and after Beijing retaliated, calling the Australian Government a US puppet, a joke, and chewing-gum on China’s shoe, Australia has telephoned Moscow for help. In a call initiated by Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image, left), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked to boost Russian imports from Australia and send more Russian tourists to the country.
Lavrov replied that Australia should stop fabricating evidence of Russian involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and withdraw from the Dutch show trial which is scheduled to resume hearings in Amsterdam next month.
Payne has not disclosed the telephone call to Moscow in her twitter stream nor is it revealed in her ministry’s news releases. No Australian newspaper or television broadcaster — half of them owned by Rupert Murdoch and equally hostile to both Russia and China — has reported the Payne-Lavrov conversation.
Payne’s spokesman, David Wroe, refused a request to confirm the conversation, which took place in the early Moscow afternoon of Wednesday. Payne’s ministry in Canberra is also refusing to explain why the minister made the first-ever telephone call to Lavrov on record in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s archive.
“A clumsy move by the Australians,” commented a Moscow source close to the General Staff, “to make it appear they can balance ‘positive’ relations with Russia against the bad relationship they caused with China. In Mao’s day, the Australians were called paper tigers and running dogs. Recently we’ve experienced how much of a US puppet the Australians are; they imposed trade sanctions against us in 2014; they have lied consistently about the MH17 affair and tried against us the same ‘international investigation’ ploy they failed to achieve against the WHO. This telephone call changes nothing except to convince us, and the Chinese of course, that Australian officials are blundering so badly in the world Trump won’t be able to save them.”
A coordinated attempt by the Australian and US governments to blame China for the corona virus, and to attack the World Health Organisation (WHO) for covering this up at China’s behest, failed when the World Health Assembly (WHA) voted on Tuesday afternoon.
The terms of the Covid-19 resolution adopted by the 194 member-state assembly declared it is up to the WHO to “initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with Member States, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms”.
This language, originally sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Russia, repudiated the Australian demand, issued after talks with President Donald Trump (lead image, centre) on April 22, that an investigation should be conducted independently of the WHO because “the government does not hold faith in the WHO, or its decision-making body the World Health Assembly, to lead a probe into the pandemic”.
The WHO could not be trusted to investigate itself or the origin of the Covid-19 virus, said Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image, centre). She does “not believe the WHO should run the inquiry,” the official told a state media organ. “It will need parties, countries to come to the table with a willingness to be transparent and to engage in that process and to ensure that we have a review mechanism in which the international community can have faith.” The WHO, she added, “strikes me as somewhat poacher and gamekeeper”.
The terms of the resolution adopted on Tuesday also ignored the claim by Australia’s agriculture minister that the Huanan wild animal market in Wuhan was the starting point for the virus to develop in human beings. “We should be damn proud as a nation,” said David Littleproud, “that we led the world, not only on understanding what the WHO has done, but understanding what wildlife wet markets’ role is in these pandemics.”
Apart from claims broadcast by Australian and US officials to the media, there is no trace of an Australian text circulating among the WHO member states since Canberra and Washington started their campaign in April. WHO spokesman Margaret Harris, speaking in Geneva just after Tuesday’s vote, said no Australian draft resolution had been submitted to the WHO secretariat. Harris also said the US had refused to join the final resolution as a sponsor, but did not publicly object when the vote was called.
David Wroe, spokesman for Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, was asked to substantiate the minister’s claims by releasing the “first Australian proposal for the text of the resolution; the date of first introduction of the Australian text; and the texts with dates of such subsequent Australian text drafts submitted to the WHA.” He refused.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attacked the Australian-American campaign last week. “This is not a time to be crying ‘stop thief!’ and pointing fingers, it’s a time to cooperate and to develop a vaccine as soon as possible. Institutions in Europe, China, Russia, the US and many other countries are working on this… it is at least inappropriate to say that the Chinese were concealing information from the WHO, or that the WHO did not know some things, or that it knew about the coronavirus but held back information. Needless to say, nobody could imagine the developments that led to this pandemic but it’s an unprecedented situation. Doctors were acting under conditions where the experience gained from other pandemics was not enough. This pandemic proved to be much more serious. I think WHO experts must be supported and encouraged in every way rather than accused without grounds. This is especially true since the overwhelming majority of WHO Secretariat employees come from the countries that are the strongest critics of the WHO.”
On Tuesday, following the WHA vote, the Chinese government issued a statement from its embassy in Canberra. It said the terms of the Covid-19 resolution were “totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review…All those who know the consultation process that led to the resolution understand this. To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.”
All the well-known plague novels make the same mistake. So unexpected, inexplicable, incurable, and comprehensively lethal was the plague for those telling its story, their conclusion has been that there can be no getting back to normal.
Not so in Russia. “Over the past week”, President Vladimir Putin declared last Thursday, “we have dedicated our efforts primarily to countering the coronavirus epidemic and preparing urgent measures to support the people and the economy… now that life is getting back to normal, it is essential that we deliver in a proactive and effective manner on the strategic objectives and large-scale projects with a long planning horizon and generate momentum.”
He’s right; the plague diarists are wrong – pandemics reinforce the normal and those who survive are doubly sure of it. But normal for Russia is the one the Anglo-American warfighters also aim to go back to. Their campaign to turn the World Health Organisation (WHO) upside down to blame China for the coronavirus is a fresh example – and contrary to western media reports, Russia is not supporting it.
The new WHO campaign, in the Russian interpretation announced last Friday by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, is nothing more than a repeat of the British campaign two years ago to blame Russian assassins for smearing Novichok poison on the door-handle of Sergei Skripal – and to turn the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) upside down until it endorsed the fiction.
Cardiology doesn’t expire when people die of heart attacks. Just so, no one should expect that when a man dies of the corona virus, or hundreds or thousands of men, the sociology of their pre-existing health, race, ethnicity, income, education, ideology – in short, their class in the old- fashioned meaning of the word — goes belly up at the same time. For understanding and prediction, sociology will always trump epidemiology — the basic reproductive ratio R0 of Covid-19 might run from 3 to 9, but the R0 ofclass struggle is many times more virulent.
It is therefore surprising that so many pundits, even the Russia-hate specialist Anne Applebaum, think to publish an interpretation of the sociology of the plague of ancient Athens, circa 430 BC; and taking Thucydides as their source, give lectures on how much the European and American societies can learn from him on Covid-19, but have failed to learn to date. At the same time as they depend on Thucydides for their lessons, they ignore the very first of his – that was his dismissal of the source and cause of the plague among the foreign enemies of the ancient Athenians. In other words, Thucydides wouldn’t be blaming China and Russia for Covid-19 now any more than he blamed the Spartans then.
Death can be a coincidence, but not in the Russian aluminium business.
So when Dmitry Bosov died of a pistol shot at his home near Moscow on the evening between May 5 and May 6, and Anatoly Bykov was arrested by federal agents in Krasnoyarsk on May 7, everyone with well informed suspicion asked if there is a connection to a Kremlin political calculation made at the highest level.
Roula Khalaf (lead image, right) is the only editor of a major London newspaper about whom next to nothing important is obvious, not even her name.
She was appointed last year by Tsuneo Kita (left), chairman of Nikkei, the Japanese media group and owner of the paper, to succeed Lionel Barber as editor. On January 20 of this year, Kita assigned Khalaf a seat on the board of Financial Times Limited, the entity through which the Japanese run their marginally profitable London property. The UK company registration reveals that Khalaf is a maiden name, and that her legal name is Roula Khalaf Razzouk.
The disguise is for policy reasons, according to two people close to the matter. Khalaf Razzouk began her career in the Financial Times (FT) in 1995. She has advanced over the past 25 years, FT sources claim, by taking orders from her superiors and never reporting outside the guidelines of the FT’s management. Conformity to the interests of the beneficial owner has been the rule of her journalism; anonymity her method for concealing from readers what the beneficial owner’s interests are. This combination of conformity and anonymity has provided Khalaf Razzouk with one target to be attacked on every front and at every opportunity. That’s the combination of Syria and Russia.
This is Khalaf Razzouk’s policy; and she conceals it for personal reasons also. They spring from her husband’s business interests and his and her background in the well-known el-Solh family of Beirut. From the el-Solhs have come four Lebanese prime ministers on the Sunni moslem side of the Beirut line; a financial and political alliance against the Saudi succession of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; together with considerable wealth which the family has accumulated over almost a century. The husband’s name is Assaad Wajdi Razzouk. Khalaf manages to keep his personal details as secret as her husband and their families in Beirut keep her secret.
What to make of the truthfulness of the newspaper Khalaf Razzouk is now directing when it demands transparency and accountability from its targets, but not from its director?
It’s embarrassing to be caught publicly with a case of the crabs, especially if you are a media celebrity. That is, unless you are in the business of selling your celebrity status to advertise other people’s crabs, not your own.
This is the case of Ksenia Sobchak, a socialite from St. Petersburg, and her mother, Lyudmila Narusova, a senator in the upper house of the Russian parliament. For years they have been trading on the fame of Anatoly Sobchak, Ksenia’s father, Lyudmila’s husband. He was the first elected mayor of St. Petersburg; first promoter of the post-KGB career of Vladimir Putin; and himself such a threat to the presidency of Boris Yeltsin twenty-five years ago he had to flee to Paris for a while and then on his return die prematurely. Sobchak suffered from many infections from the lice of his city at the time. Crabs weren’t one of them.
After the episode of the sermon by the Jesuit priest, blaming the plague on the sinfulness of his congregation – “a calamity has befallen you, my brethren; you have deserved it…no earthly power – not even, note this well , vain human science – can shield you from His hand as it reaches out to you”; and after the journalist’s attempt at bribing the militia to arrange his escape from the plague city; and after the municipal administrator’s acknowledgement that “luckily, I have my work”; the visitor from Paris explained to himself in his diary that regarding the old Chinese custom of “playing the tambourine in front of the genie of the plague…it was quite impossible in reality to know whether the tambourine was more effective than other preventive health measures.”
So it seemed to the leading citizens of a town consumed by a pandemic imagined by the French writer Albert Camus seventy-five years ago.
Camus began writing La Peste (“The Plague”) in Oran, Algeria, then a colony of France, at the beginning of 1941, but he didn’t finish it until 1946. Published a year later, it is Camus’s most widely read novel and is often interpreted as an allegory of the German occupation of France which began in May of 1940, and lasted until August 1944. It isn’t that at all; Camus himself didn’t say so.
Medically, the plague of Oran in the book is the bubonic pandemic known in English as the Black Death. Historically that has never been recorded in Oran; cholera was the plague there. An equally lethal form but with different symptoms and contagion is known as pneumonic plague; Camus described many cases of that in his fictional Oran. Because he himself had contracted tuberculosis at the age of 17 and been sent to the central French alps for sanatorium treatment, Camus understood very well the lung failure we now recognize in the serious stages of Covid-19. The plague of Oran in the novel is reported as starting in mid-April of a year in the 1940s, and ending nine months later in mid-January. In between, the administration ordered a total lockdown, cutting the town off from the outside. Inside the town, district and building quarantines were imposed; along with tracing of contact networks, conversion of public buildings and stadiums to hospitals; nightly curfews; wearing of masks; daily publication of infection case bulletins; and the rushed development of a vaccine.
Reading La Peste in the time of the corona virus we can understand the book, not as an allegory, but as a realistic portrait of what happens to a town and a representative sample of its people during a lethal pandemic.
Realism was also Camus’s declared objective. He makes Joseph Grand, a townhall apparatchik whose job was compiling numbers of infections and deaths in a daily report of rates and graphs, into a would-be novelist in his spare time. But in the hundreds of pages Grand wrote, he never managed to get beyond the first sentence. After narrowly surviving a bout of the plague himself, when he burned his manuscript, he started on the first sentence again. “I’ve cut out all the adjectives”, Camus reported him saying.
The master of French realism without adjectives at the time Camus was composing his story was Georges Simenon with his tales of Jules Maigret, a detective chief inspector in Paris. Camus acknowledged reading and learning from Simenon; they also shared editors at the Gallimard publishing house. But they spent different wars — Camus in the underground resistance press, ill-fed and in hiding; Simenon above ground, comfortably settled and well off. There is almost no German war or occupation in either man’s books.
“Understand and judge not” was Simenon’s motto, expressed in the mouth of Maigret. He didn’t really mean it. “How hard it must be”, Camus’s motto was expressed by Bernard Rieux, the doctor and central character in La Peste, “to live only with what one knows and what one remembers, and deprived of what one hopes.” Camus did mean it. Deprived of hope is what a pandemic like Covid-19 does to you. Understanding that in Moscow today is what reading Camus’s book is for.
Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.
There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.
There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.
Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers. In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.
Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.
How little the Germans have changed.
But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.” By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”
So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.
China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.
The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.
In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022, is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.
There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself. Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”
This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.
The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.
Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age, after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.
After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster history to be her own joke.
Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself. This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.
In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English: the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.
The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British. Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating. The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin BlueLine (d. 1996).
The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion), Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok) are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences. The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.
Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money. “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.
By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.
The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.
Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.
China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years. The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.
So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.
The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).
A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester, he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018, claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.
Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”
Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.
After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.
The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.”
Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.
New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.
Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes, it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.
The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.
The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory. The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.
“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”
“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”
The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image). McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.
Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.
Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.
In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.
Those lighting Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral pyre are torching the truth of the matter – that Gorbachev was a liar of monumental vanity who betrayed his country out of greed and incompetence, outpointed by his adversaries in Moscow, Washington, and London because they knew him better than he knew himself.