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Western MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage:  the signal of the beginning of a new cold war

News Cold War II Recommended Links Fighting Russophobia Propaganda: Journalism Vacation from Truth The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Color revolutions
 Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Compradors Bombing country with dollars Interference of foreign agents into election process via NGO Media as a weapon of mass deception Ukraine: From EuroMaidan to EuroAnschluss The patterns of Western coverage
Neocolonialism Machiavellism Predator state Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians Russian compradors Net hamsters Creative class
Fifth column and NGOs The art of manufacturing of prisoners of consciousness Human rights activists or globalism fifth column IntelliXencia: Corruption of Intelligentsia and it usage in fifth column in Russia Frustrated underachievers Humor Etc

Media basing of Sochi Olympics by presstitutes of Western media was a clear sign that the US government and it allies adopted a new course intending to isolate and weaken Russia (aka Cold War II).  In other words Sochi Olympics was the first swan signaling the beginning of a new cold war.

The policy of containing Russia in best traditions of the cold war began when the U.S. realized that Russia will not, as they hoped after 1991 became yet another vassal state, acting always in line with the common Western policy as it did during Boris Yeltsin presidency.  This new course on isolating Russia probably crystallized in the spring-autumn of 2013. The tone of speeches of key figures in US and EU administrations became more and more hostile, and media started to feed lemmings with nothing but pure anti-Russian propaganda. I would say war style propaganda, which became especially clear during the Olympics. In other words the significance of Russia bashing by Western and first of all the US media is that it signaled that the U.S. policy toward Russia made a sharp turn. And if the stream of misinformation, and sometimes outright slander, which dominated the Western media on the eve of the winter Olympics in Sochi, can't convince about the existence of such a turn  then Ukraine EuroMaidan events and neo-fascist coupe of February 22, 2014 should. In other words EuroMaidan can be considered as belonging to the same policy that caused Sochi bashing.

In other words in the centre of this crisis is the fact that Russia no longer wants to play by the earlier imposed on her rules, which can be called the "Versailles policy in velvet gloves". The latter implemented by the European countries-winners against Germany after the WWI. Then Europeans, driven by greed and hatred of the defeated in the war Germany, imposed on Berlin and the German people very humiliating conditions. As a result, they paved the way for the WWII. The responsibility for coming to power in Germany of disgusting fascist regime lies in full on European countries, the countries which  imposed on Germany the humiliating conditions of the Versailles peace. After dissolution of the USSR they unfortunately, although in a milder form, had carried out the same policy. Although European and American preferred not to talk about Yeltsin Russian in terms of imposing on her a new Versailles treaty, this is was in fact implemented  along with unprecedented economic rape of Russia.

That's why bashing the Sochi Olympics has become a new winter sport for Western media. The dirty contact sort that has nothing to do with Olympics ideas. Here is one interesting comment on Western coverage of the event (The Jubilee):

Lisa said, June 6, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I found it shocking the way American media portrayed the Russian people and Pres. Putin during the opening of the Olympics this year. I thought to myself this is the opposite of what the Olympics are supposed to be about.

It was clearly a propaganda machine designed to put the American people against Pres. Putin and Russia. It’s like they were bringing the cold world back into this timeline on purpose. And it hasn’t stopped, I don’t even have cable TV and I can’t get away from it. My first thought was why? It was ridiculous how much time they spent on the bathroom incident.

It really showed the maturity of the American media, comparable to bullying kids in the schoolyard. Thank you for this well-written article. I wish people would think for themselves instead of letting media dictate reality. And for those people who are guaranteed to slam me with insults for writing this, or call me unpatriotic, it’s not true I love my country. I but I don’t love how media, lies to us every single day and tells us what our values are, what is true and what is not true. But as always, if you really want the truth follow the money, follow the power, and the motives will be there as clear as the nose on your face.

Sochi schadenfreude bubbled up each time another broken door knob or damaged park bench was discovered. Whatever doesn't fit into the narrative was forced in nonetheless. Even if most Sochi bashing was directed at Putin, it still hit all the Russians. As observed (smh.com.au)

It's already as exciting as curling and the Nordic Combined, with the biathlon firmly in its sights.

While the horror stories of incomplete media hotels and not-so-helpful volunteers are indeed so, the frenzy of negativity is turning into a witch hunt.

An example: in the hours before the opening ceremony, US website Mashable.com published a series of photos entitled “The 12 Sochi Photos That Russia Probably Doesn't Want You To See”.

The first image showed a construction site at the back of scaffold seating at the bottom of the course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, with wooden beams strewn across muddy ground.

Interestingly, this reporter had stood in that same patch of ground the day before, with swarms of happy Russians wearing furry hats and broad smiles as they lined up for hot dogs.

This is a typical propaganda operation. Well coordinated, well executed, well financed propaganda operation. It is not "degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia" like Professor Stephen F. Cohen assumed in his article Distorting Russia (The Nation). This is planned and coordinated propaganda operation, that resembles and in some way exceeds similar operations by Communists in the past. The attacks also remind cold war propaganda campaign against Moscow Olympics executed by Carter government USA in 1980 with the only element missing -- boycott due to provoked by Carter administration Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (Brzezinski: "it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention." )

On January 20, 1980, President Carter announced that “[u]nless the Soviets withdraw their troops within a month from Afghanistan,” that the US would boycott the Olympic games that year in Moscow. The media, including the Washington Post’s Robert G. Kaiser, supported the boycott, arguing, “the collapse of this Olympiad would send a genuine shock through Soviet society,” though CIA Director Adm. Stansfield Turner warned that such a stunt would backfire. Declassified documents, including the confidential memo featured in today’s posting, help contextualize the Carter administration’s final decision to boycott the games in the hopes of preventing Soviet expansion into Afghanistan.

The confidential January 30, 1980, memorandum from William E. Simon, Treasurer of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), to Marshall Brement, Honorary President of the USOC, encapsulated the Carter position on boycotting the games. In the memo, which is part of the Digital National Security Archive’sCIA Covert Operations, 1977-2010” collection, Simon wrote that while the majority of the US Olympic Committee felt that “pressure from the President and the Congress forced them to take their position” to boycott the games, he remained confident they would come to embrace the official USOC position “a little more enthusiastically” in the weeks to come. Simon’s belief was no doubt buoyed by the boycott’s popularity with the American public, nearly 55% of whom were alarmed by the Soviet Union’s first attempt at territorial expansion since the end of WWII and supported the protest.

The boycott might have had the support of the President and the majority of American citizens, but it was abhorred by US Olympians. Simon’s memo notes that “[a]thletes remain, quite naturally, the group most hostile to nonparticipation in the Olympics, though they are supporting us. The athletes do not trust the USOC and they deserve special attention.” American member of the International Olympic Committee, Julian Roosevelt, and gold medalist Al Oerter, proved Simon’s point, arguing respectively that “I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but the patriotic thing to do is for us to send a team over there and whip their ass,” and “[t]he only way to compete against Moscow is to stuff it down their throats in their own backyard.”

Coordinated attacks on Sochi Olympics were launched simultaneously from several directions:

The level of uniformity of major Western MSM in covering Sochi Olympics would make former staff of USSR Pravda and Izvestia die from envy. And they did not allow themselves to use some dirty tricks now used by their US counterparts. Such a free from any objectivity press ;-)

Level of classic British-style hypocrisy is breathtaking. They would really make an Olympian record in hypocrisy if such venue existed.

Again it is not prudent to view this campaign as sign of degradation of US MSMs. For example Professor Stephen F. Cohen wrote in The Nation (Distorting Russia, March 3 2014):

The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines—particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin—is an indication, this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.

There are notable exceptions, but a general pattern has developed. Even in the venerable New York Times and Washington Post, news reports, editorials and commentaries no longer adhere rigorously to traditional journalistic standards, often failing to provide essential facts and context; to make a clear distinction between reporting and analysis; to require at least two different political or “expert” views on major developments; or to publish opposing opinions on their op-ed pages. As a result, American media on Russia today are less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.

... ... ...

Since the early 2000s, the media have followed a different leader-centric narrative, also consistent with US policy, that devalues multifaceted analysis for a relentless demonization of Putin, with little regard for facts. (Was any Soviet Communist leader after Stalin ever so personally villainized?) If Russia under Yeltsin was presented as having legitimate politics and national interests, we are now made to believe that Putin’s Russia has none at all, at home or abroad—even on its own borders, as in Ukraine.

Russia today has serious problems and many repugnant Kremlin policies. But anyone relying on mainstream American media will not find there any of their origins or influences in Yeltsin’s Russia or in provocative US policies since the 1990s — only in the “autocrat” Putin who, however authoritarian, in reality lacks such power. Nor is he credited with stabilizing a disintegrating nuclear-armed country, assisting US security pursuits from Afghanistan and Syria to Iran or even with granting amnesty, in December, to more than 1,000 jailed prisoners, including mothers of young children.

Not surprisingly, in January The Wall Street Journal featured the widely discredited former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, branding Putin’s government as one of “deceit, violence and cynicism,” with the Kremlin a “nerve center of the troubles that bedevil the West.” But wanton Putin-bashing is also the dominant narrative in centrist, liberal and progressive media, from the Post, Times and The New Republic to CNN, MSNBC and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, where Howard Dean, not previously known for his Russia expertise, recently declared, to the panel’s approval, “Vladimir Putin is a thug.”

... ... ...

For weeks, this toxic coverage has focused on the Sochi Olympics and the deepening crisis in Ukraine. Even before the Games began, the Times declared the newly built complex a “Soviet-style dystopia” and warned in a headline, Terrorism and Tension, Not Sports and Joy. On opening day, the paper found space for three anti-Putin articles and a lead editorial, a feat rivaled by the Post. Facts hardly mattered. Virtually every US report insisted that a record $51 billion “squandered” by Putin on the Sochi Games proved they were “corrupt.” But as Ben Aris of Business New Europe pointed out, as much as $44 billion may have been spent “to develop the infrastructure of the entire region,” investment “the entire country needs.”

Overall pre-Sochi coverage was even worse, exploiting the threat of terrorism so licentiously it seemed pornographic. The Post, long known among critical-minded Russia-watchers as Pravda on the Potomac, exemplified the media ethos. A sports columnist and an editorial page editor turned the Olympics into “a contest of wills” between the despised Putin’s “thugocracy” and terrorist “insurgents.” The “two warring parties” were so equated that readers might have wondered which to cheer for. If nothing else, American journalists gave terrorists an early victory, tainting “Putin’s Games” and frightening away many foreign spectators, including some relatives of the athletes.

The Sochi Games will soon pass, triumphantly or tragically, but the potentially fateful Ukrainian crisis will not. A new Cold War divide between West and East may now be unfolding, not in Berlin but in the heart of Russia’s historical civilization. The result could be a permanent confrontation fraught with instability and the threat of a hot war far worse than the one in Georgia in 2008. These dangers have been all but ignored in highly selective, partisan and inflammatory US media accounts, which portray the European Union’s “Partnership” proposal benignly as Ukraine’s chance for democracy, prosperity and escape from Russia, thwarted only by a “bullying” Putin and his “cronies” in Kiev.

What is more interesting is that "propagandons" (mock on propagandists) as foreign correspondents are called in Russia make mistake, provoking defensive reaction even within Russia neoliberal camp (aka "liberasts"). Here is one example from LiveJournal (slightly edited Goggle translation):

As a professional I never had no illusions about " objectivity " and "independence" of the Western media. But lately absence of illusions was replaced with firm conviction that Western MSM, even the most reputable newspapers and TV channels contain less dezo than corresponding Russian media outlet. Four years ago, I was really surprised with the ferocity of the information war unleashed upon the Russian-Georgian clashes in South Ossetia. Now it's the same situation with publications on the Olympics.

Of course, I am far from thinking that the organizers of the Olympic Games in Sochi can't be criticized . And even be prosecuted. Moreover, anyone born and raised in Russia has some idea that such project has a certain level of stealing built-in. And this silly claims by the mayor of Sochi, that in the city blessed by his leadership there is no gay people - is also striking irresponsibility, if not worse. Also the massacre of stray dogs and cats that was initially planed in the name of beauty and "coloring the grass with green point" time of absurdities, that all our reality and it does not make sense to deny or conceal such facts.

And yet that dezo orgy that unfolded in the international media around the Olympics - was stunning.. Games not yet begin but the amount of sh*t poured surprise with the level of journalistic objectivity and independence demonstrated. Among those "horror stories" masterpieces :

What is surprising almost nothing is written about sport itself. Main topic - gay and lesbian human rights in Russia , and Russian corruption. Not skiing, biathlon not , not curling, not even ice hockey.

Main hope is for the two American warships that entered the Black Sea and will help to evacuate tourists. "What if there will be a terrorist attack" memo is attached to each and every publication . And all this stinking pie of crap is sold as objective reporting...

Main estimates made are not about medals, but about how many heads of states will ignore Olympics, protecting the rights of homosexuals. If this is the famous principle of separation of sports and politics, then please accept my congratulations. Western MSM outdid themselves...

I myself many times criticized corruption in the Olympics, but now reading all this propaganda nonsense , I want to defend it. Why so: out of my sense of justice or out of patriotism ? Probably from both those considerations simultaneously . We can criticize their country - it is ours . And listening this not-stop steam of dirt from them is humiliating. As if they never had problem on other Olympics with the Olympic flame, corruption of builders, as if they can't be glitches during the opening ceremony , as if they never has terrorist attacks during Olympics...

I read thus "objective" insinuations and I hope that we guys will prove to you that we can do it. I catch myself thinking that now I am eagerly waiting Friday ...

In a way within Russia it increased the level of anti-Americanism so that even liberasts now try to distance themselves from the USA foreign policy. And all US MSM are now viewed as direct State Department outlets with foreign correspondents (not to mix with those who report about internal affairs) as despicable "presstitutes". As one LifeJounal call them "Репортеры без границ, мозгов, стыда и совести." ("Reporters without borders, brains, and conscience")

This reminds me what usually called blowback -- is unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the aggressor (Wikipedia).

While this is a typical way of how neoliberal elite treats resource nationalists, it might be a very shortsighted foreign policy that goes contrary to real interest on the US people and serve only tiny and detached from the population neoliberal elite.


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Old News ;-)

[Aug 09, 2016] New Cold War also competing in Rio Olympics

Notable quotes:
"... It is no coincidence that the doping scandals have started around Russian sportsmen. After all, professional athletes from other countries also use steroids. The West needs to strike at Russia's image since sanctions didn't bring about the planned affect and Moscow is not giving in to political and economic pressure. ..."
"... As in politics, sports is filled with a variety of scandals which have taken place quite often in the history of the Olympic Games and other major events. However, in the case of violations by athletes, things should be handled fairly and objective. Otherwise, having achieved their goal (and all Western law is based on precedent), certain lobbies will begin to repeat the practice of discrediting athletes from other countries, thus not serving the interests of sports at all. ..."
Defend Democracy Press
International sporting events have a clear political nature: nation-states enter the stadium under their national anthem, represent their countries, and, in the case of victory, their rank increases. In other words, sports is an instrument of "soft power" if we use Joseph Nye's term. Moreover, the country hosting a sporting event can improve its image, as was the case with the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Thus, athletes, just like politicians, are paid careful attention by their "partners" and detractors. It is no coincidence that the doping scandals have started around Russian sportsmen. After all, professional athletes from other countries also use steroids. The West needs to strike at Russia's image since sanctions didn't bring about the planned affect and Moscow is not giving in to political and economic pressure.

We should recall that the first article about such was published in the New York Times in May. The media has statutes for tribute for ordered articles, so it is very easy to identify the initiators.

Russia has the right to maintain sovereign positions on many other issues, but it is also necessary to reach consensus through skillful diplomatic work in international organizations. This is not always effective (for example, in recent years the United Nations has supported sodomites in Russia at the expense of traditional family values), but it is individual persons who often have the last word.

The doping scandal was put to an end by the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, who is in office since 2013. The Russian Olympic team will not be banned from the competition in Rio de Janeiro. The federation will pass decisions on individual athletes. Bach called this approach distinguishing between "clean" and doping athletes who have the chance to prove their case.

Although the number of Russian athletes will in fact still be smaller, there still exists the space for a political message: the anthem, the flag, and the possibility to win in different sports.

Perhaps some can see a pro-Russian position in Bach's activities, since he is against the US' political order on this occasion. He is in fact trying to protect the traditions and mechanisms of big sports.

As in politics, sports is filled with a variety of scandals which have taken place quite often in the history of the Olympic Games and other major events. However, in the case of violations by athletes, things should be handled fairly and objective. Otherwise, having achieved their goal (and all Western law is based on precedent), certain lobbies will begin to repeat the practice of discrediting athletes from other countries, thus not serving the interests of sports at all.

[Aug 08, 2016] The Olympics as a tool of the new Cold War

Notable quotes:
"... Yulia Stepanova's husband is Vitaly Stepanov a former staffer at RUSADA. He had lived and studied in the US since he was 15, but later decided to return to Russia. In 2008, Vitaly Stepanov began working for RUSADA as a doping-control officer. Vitaly met Yulia Rusanova in 2009 at the Russian national championships in Cheboksary. Stepanov now claims that he sent a letter to WADA detailing his revelations back in 2010, but never received an answer. ..."
"... One fact that deserves attention is that Vitaly has confessed that he was fully aware that his wife was taking banned substances, both while he worked for RUSADA as well as after he left that organization. ..."
"... In early June he admitted that WADA had not only helped his family move to America, but had also provided them with $30,000 in financial assistance. ..."
"... Threatened with prosecution, Gregory Rodchenkov began to behave oddly and was repeatedly hospitalized and "subjected to a forensic psychiatric examination." A finding was later submitted to the court, claiming that Rodchenkov suffered from "schizotypal personality disorder," exacerbated by stress. As a result, all the charges against Rodchenkov were dropped. But the most surprising thing was that someone with a "schizotypal personality disorder" and a sister convicted of trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs continued as the director of Russia's only WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory ..."
"... All the evidence to be used by the prosecution is subject to challenge, and if some fact included in those charges can be interpreted to the defendant's advantage, then the court is obliged to exclude that fact from the materials at the disposal of the prosecution. ..."
"... As a lawyer, McLaren understands all this very well. Hundreds of lawsuits filed by Russian athletes resulting in an unambiguous outcome would not only destroy his reputation and ruin him professionally – they could form the basis of a criminal investigation with obvious grounds for accusing him of intentionally distorting a few facts, which in his eyes can be summarized as follows. ..."
Oriental Review

The 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism (non-discrimination of any kind, including nationality and political opinion) seems to be forgotten long ago. In ancient Greece the competition of best athletes was able to halt a war and serve as a bridge of understanding between two recent foes. But in the twentieth century the Olympics have become a political weapon. Back in 1980 the US and its allies boycotted the games in Moscow as a protest against the Soviet troops that entered Afghanistan at the request of that country's legitimate government (in contrast, the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany were held as usual, to the applause of the "civilized" world).

On May 8, 2016 the CBS program 60 Minutes aired a broadcast about doping in Russia. The interviews featured recorded conversations between a former staffer with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), Vitaly Stepanov, and the ex-director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Grigory Rodchenkov. That program was just the fourth installment in a lengthy series about the alleged existence of a system to support doping in Russian sports.

A few days later the New York Times published an interview with Rodchenkov. There that former official claims that a state-supported doping program was active at the Sochi Olympics, and that the orders for that program had come almost directly from the Russian president.

One important fact that escaped most international observers was that a media campaign, which had begun shortly after the 2014 deep freeze in Russian-Western relations, was constructed around the "testimonies" of three Russian citizens who were all interconnected and complicit in a string of doping scandals, and who later left Russia and are trying to make new lives in the West.

A 29-year-old middle-distance runner, Yulia Stepanova, can be seen as the instigator of this scandal. This young athlete's personal best in global competition was a bronze medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championship in 2011. At the World Championships that same year she placed eighth. Stepanova's career went off the rails in 2013, when the Russian Athletic Federation's Anti-Doping Commission disqualified her for two years based on "blood fluctuations in her Athlete Biological Passport." Such fluctuations are considered evidence of doping. All of Stepanova's results since 2011 have been invalidated. In addition, she had to return the prize money she had won running in professional races in 2011-2012. Stepanova, who had been suspended for doping, acted as the primary informant for ARD journalist Hajo Seppelt, who had begun filming a documentary about misconduct in Russian sports. After the release of ARD's first documentary in December 2014, Stepanova left Russia along with her husband and son. In 2015 she requested political asylum in Canada. Even after her suspension ended in 2015, Stepanova told the WADA Commission (p.142 of the Nov. 2015 WADA Report) that she had tested positive for doping during the Russian Track and Field Championships in Saransk in July 2010 and paid 30,000 rubles (approximately $1,000 USD at that time) to the director of the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Gregory Rodchenkov, in exchange for concealing those test results.

Yulia Stepanova's husband is Vitaly Stepanov a former staffer at RUSADA. He had lived and studied in the US since he was 15, but later decided to return to Russia. In 2008, Vitaly Stepanov began working for RUSADA as a doping-control officer. Vitaly met Yulia Rusanova in 2009 at the Russian national championships in Cheboksary. Stepanov now claims that he sent a letter to WADA detailing his revelations back in 2010, but never received an answer.

In 2011 Stepanov left RUSADA. One fact that deserves attention is that Vitaly has confessed that he was fully aware that his wife was taking banned substances, both while he worked for RUSADA as well as after he left that organization. Take note that Stepanova's blood tests went positive starting in 2011 – i.e., from the time that her husband, an anti-doping officer, left RUSADA. With a clear conscience, the Stepanovs, now married, accepted prize money from professional races until Yulia was disqualified. Then they no longer had a source of income and the prize money suddenly had to be returned, at which point Vitaly Stepanov sought recourse in foreign journalists, offering to tell them the "truth about Russian sports." In early June he admitted that WADA had not only helped his family move to America, but had also provided them with $30,000 in financial assistance.

And finally, the third figure in the campaign to expose doping in Russian sports – the former head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow,Gregory Rodchenkov. According to Vitaly Stepanov, he was the man who sold performance-enhancing drugs while helping to hide their traces, and had also come up with the idea of "doped Chivas mouth swishing" (pg. 50), a technique that transforms men into Olympic champions. This 57-year-old native of Moscow is acknowledged to be the best at what he does. He graduated from Moscow State University with a Ph.D. in chemistry and began working at the Moscow anti-doping lab as early as 1985. He later worked in Canada and for Russian petrochemical companies, and in 2005 he became the director of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory in Moscow. In 2013 Marina Rodchenkova – Gregory Rodchenkov's sister – was found guilty and received a sentence for selling anabolic steroids to athletes. Her brother was also the subject of a criminal investigation into charges that he supplied banned drugs.

Threatened with prosecution, Gregory Rodchenkov began to behave oddly and was repeatedly hospitalized and "subjected to a forensic psychiatric examination." A finding was later submitted to the court, claiming that Rodchenkov suffered from "schizotypal personality disorder," exacerbated by stress. As a result, all the charges against Rodchenkov were dropped. But the most surprising thing was that someone with a "schizotypal personality disorder" and a sister convicted of trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs continued as the director of Russia's only WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory.

In fact, he held this job during the 2014 Olympics. Rodchenkov was not dismissed until the fall of 2015, after the eruption of the scandal that had been instigated by the broadcaster ARD and the Stepanovs. In September 2015 the WADA Commission accused Rodchenkov of intentionally destroying over a thousand samples in order to conceal doping by Russian athletes. He personally denied all the charges, but then resigned and left for the US where he was warmly embraced by filmmaker Bryan Fogel, who was shooting yet anothermade-to-order documentary about doping in Russia.

As this article is being written, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is studying a report from an "Independent Person," the Canadian professor Richard H. McLaren, who has accused the entire Russian Federation, not just individual athletes, of complicity in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. McLaren was quickly summoned to speak with WADA shortly after the NYT published interview with Rodchenkov. The goal was clear: to concoct a "scientific report" by mid-July that would provide the IOC with grounds to ban the Russian team from the Rio Olympics. At a press conference on July 18 McLaren himself acknowledged that with a timeline of only 57 days he was unable "to identify any athlete that might have benefited from such manipulation to conceal positive doping tests." WADA's logic here is clear – they need to avoid any accusations of bias, unprofessionalism, embellishment of facts, or political partisanship. No matter what duplicity and lies are found in the report – it was drafted by an "independent person," period. However, he does not try to hide that the entire report is based on the testimony of a single person – Rodchenkov himself, who is repeatedly presented as a "credible and truthful" source. Of course that man is accused by WADA itself of destroying 1,417 doping tests and faces deportation to Russia for doping-linked crimes, but he saw an opportunity become a "valuable witness" and "prisoner of conscience" who is being persecuted by the "totalitarian regime" in Russia.

The advantage enjoyed by this "independent commission" – on the basis of whose report the IOC is deciding the fate of Russia's Olympic hopefuls – is that its accusations will not be examined in court, nor can the body of evidence be challenged by the lawyers for the accused. Nor is the customary legal presumption of innocence anywhere in evidence.

It appears from Professor McLaren's statement that no charges will be brought against any specific Russian athletes. Moreover, they can all compete if they refuse to represent Russia at the Olympics. There are obvious reasons for this selectivity. A law professor and longstanding member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Professor McClaren knows very well that any charges against specific individuals that are made publicly and result in "legally significant acts" (such as a ban on Olympic participation) can and will be challenged in court, in accordance with international law and on the basis of the presumption of innocence. All the evidence to be used by the prosecution is subject to challenge, and if some fact included in those charges can be interpreted to the defendant's advantage, then the court is obliged to exclude that fact from the materials at the disposal of the prosecution.

As a lawyer, McLaren understands all this very well. Hundreds of lawsuits filed by Russian athletes resulting in an unambiguous outcome would not only destroy his reputation and ruin him professionally – they could form the basis of a criminal investigation with obvious grounds for accusing him of intentionally distorting a few facts, which in his eyes can be summarized as follows.

During the Sochi Olympics, an FSB officer named Evgeny Blokhin switched the doping tests taken from Russian athletes, exchanging them for "clean" urine samples. This agent is said to have possessed a plumbing contractor's security clearance, allowing him to enter the laboratory. In addition, there are reports that Evgeny Kurdyatsev, – the head of the Registration and Biological Sample Accounting Department – switched the doping tests at night, through a "mouse hole" in the wall (!). Awaiting them in the adjascent building was the man who is now providing "credible evidence" – Gregory Rodchenkov – and some other unnamed individuals, who passed Blokhin the athletes' clean doping tests to be used to replace the original samples. If the specific gravity of the clean urine did not match the original profile, it was "adapted" using table salt or distilled water. But of course the DNA was incompatible. And all of this was going on in the only official, WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory in Russia!

How would something like that sound in any court? We have witnesses, but the defense team cannot subject them to cross-examination. We cannot prove that Blokhin is an FSB agent, but we believe it. We do not possess any of the original documents – not a single photograph or affidavit from the official examination – but we have sufficient evidence from a single criminal who has already confessed to his crime. We did not submit the emails provided by Rodchenkov to any experts to be examined, but we assert that the emails are genuine, that all the facts they contain are accurate, and that the names of the senders are correct. We cannot accuse the athletes, so we will accuse and punish the state!

To be honest, we still do not believe that the Olympic movement has sunk so low as to deprive billions of people of the pleasure of watching the competitions, forgetting about politics and politicians. That would mean waving goodbye to the reputations of the WADA and the IOC and to the global system of sports as a whole. Perhaps a solution to the colossal problem of doping is long overdue, but is that answer to be found within the boundaries of only one country, even a great country like Russia? Should we take a moment here and now to dwell upon the multi-volume history of doping scandals in every single country in the world? And in view of these facts that have come to light, is not WADA itself the cornerstone of the existing and far-reaching system to support and cover up athletic doping all over the world?

In conclusion, we cite below the complete translation of the Russian Olympic Committee'sstatement in response to the WADA report:

"The accusations against Russian sports found in the report by Richard McLaren are so serious that a full investigation is needed, with input from all parties. The Russian Olympic Committee has a policy of zero tolerance and supports the fight against doping. It is ready to provide its full assistance and work together, as needed, with any international organization.

We wholeheartedly disagree with Mr. McLaren's view that the possible banning of hundreds of clean Russian athletes from competition in the Olympic Games is an acceptable 'unpleasant consequence' of the charges contained in his report.

The charges being made are primarily based on statements by Grigory Rodchenkov. This is solely based on testimony from someone who is at the epicenter of this criminal scheme, which is a blow not only to the careers and fates of a great many clean athletes, but also to the integrity of the entire international Olympic movement.

Russia has fought against doping and will continue to fight at the state level, steadily stiffening the penalties for any illegal activity of this type and enforcing a precept of inevitable punishment.

The Russian Olympic Committee fully supports the harshest possible penalties against anyone who either uses banned drugs or encourages their use.

At the same time, the ROC – acting in full compliance with the Olympic Charter – will always protect the rights of clean athletes. Those who throughout their careers – thanks to relentless training, talent, and willpower – strive to realize their Olympic dreams should not have their futures determined by the unfounded, unsubstantiated accusations and criminal acts of certain individuals. For us this is a matter of principle."

orientalreview.org

[Aug 08, 2016] The fact that Rodchenkov knew techniques of manipulating test results is not evidence of state controlled doping program, especially since he was the main culprit

Notable quotes:
"... That's a excellent article; good catch. I wrote to the Canadian Minister for Sport about it and urged her to revisit Canada's position on this, which is to essentially act as a spear carrier for Washington. ..."
"... The 'Independent Commission' was McLaren, Dick Pound (who has already made his feelings on banning Russia from the Olympics quite clear), and Gunter Younger, who was just appointed WADA's Chief of Intelligence and Investigations this past June. A reward? I wonder. Whatever the case, you could hardly imagine a more ideological and biased team of 'investigators'. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Fern . August 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm
I came across this guy, Rick Sterling, being interviewed on RT about the ban on Russia's paralympic team where he mentioned that he'd produced a critique of the McLaren report. It's a substantial analysis and worth reading:-

"The report concludes that Rodchenkov is credible and truthful with little demonstrated proof. In contrast, the November 2015 Independent Commission report concluded that Dr. Rodchenkov was not credible. The fact that Rodchenkov knew techniques of manipulating test results is not evidence of "state controlled doping program," especially since he was the main culprit. The information spread in previous reports on Russian doping that Rodchenkov was involved in extorting money from athletes – this information suggests opportunism on his part rather than integrity. The former director of Moscow Laboratory has admitted his involvement in urine sample swapping, design of a steroid cocktail not easily traced, and more. He was instrumental in helping some athletes cheat the system. He is also the person with most motivation to implicate others, even if unjustly. His testimony obviously needs careful scrutiny and cross-checking."

http://theduran.com/heres-russian-athletes-unfairly-banned-olympics/

marknesop says: August 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm
That's a excellent article; good catch. I wrote to the Canadian Minister for Sport about it and urged her to revisit Canada's position on this, which is to essentially act as a spear carrier for Washington. I am sure there is going to be an independent legal review of the McLaren Report after the Olympics is over, and that it will find it a shambles.

The 'Independent Commission' was McLaren, Dick Pound (who has already made his feelings on banning Russia from the Olympics quite clear), and Gunter Younger, who was just appointed WADA's Chief of Intelligence and Investigations this past June. A reward? I wonder. Whatever the case, you could hardly imagine a more ideological and biased team of 'investigators'.

[Aug 08, 2016] America's Dangerous Game of Intrigue Inside International Organizations

Notable quotes:
"... From the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Washington has been playing a dangerous game of intrigue and deception with regard to steering these organizations in a pro-American direction. The Obama administration has decided that the halls, offices, and conference rooms of international organizations are acceptable battlefields to wage propaganda and sanctions wars. ..."
www.strategic-culture.org

From the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Washington has been playing a dangerous game of intrigue and deception with regard to steering these organizations in a pro-American direction. The Obama administration has decided that the halls, offices, and conference rooms of international organizations are acceptable battlefields to wage propaganda and sanctions wars.

The first American target of note was the international football association, FIFA. Not content with trying to sully the reputation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with issues of gay rights and doping of athletes, the US disinformation boiler rooms began a full-scale attack on FIFA. The major reason is Russia's hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The US Justice Department, in a major move toward the internationalization of domestic US law, began unsealing indictment after indictment of FIFA officials for financial crimes. The actual target of these indictments was Russia.

... ... ...

Resisting pressure from Washington, IOC president Thomas Bach wisely decided to avoid a blanket ban of Russian athletes. Bach called such a unilateral ban on Russia participating in the Rio games as a "nuclear option". He also said that such a "nuclear option" would have resulted in "collateral damage" among innocent athletes. Bach's use of two geopolitical military terms was no mistake and it bore the mark of someone responding to familiar American "shock and awe" pressure. The United States used its compliant stooges, Germany and Canada, as well as the dubious World Anti-Doping Agency, run by a Scottish lawyer, to call for a total ban on Russian athletes in Rio.

... ... ...

[Aug 08, 2016] Feds: Clinic founder sold performance drugs to athletes

Fish rots from the head: doping is the most rampant in the USA...
Notable quotes:
"... Federal officials said earlier Tuesday that Bosch would agree to plead guilty to a charge of distributing steroids in a conspiracy that stretched from big league club houses to South Florida high schools and youth baseball leagues to sandlots in the Caribbean. ..."
"... "These defendants were motivated by one thing: money," United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo Ferrer, said. "They did this by lining their pockets, by exploiting the pressures of athletes and others to be bigger, to be stronger and to play better." ..."
"... Bosch told investigators that he provided the illegal substances to at least 18 minors, Ferrer said. ..."
"... Bosch and his associates distributed the drugs to minors who attended a number of public and private high schools in South Florida. He would charge the teenagers and their parents between $250 and $600 a month, promising that the concoctions -- which included black market steroids -- would improve their game. ..."
CNN.com
Tony Bosch, the founder of the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami, is not a licensed doctor, but portrayed himself as one, federal officials said Tuesday.

Officials said he dispensed performance-enhancing drugs to professional baseball players such as suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and to impressionable high school athletes in South Florida and teenagers in the Dominican Republic.

Bosch, 50, surrendered to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Florida on Tuesday. At a court appearance, he pleaded not guilty and a judge set bail at $100,000.

Federal officials said earlier Tuesday that Bosch would agree to plead guilty to a charge of distributing steroids in a conspiracy that stretched from big league club houses to South Florida high schools and youth baseball leagues to sandlots in the Caribbean.

One of his attorneys, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said there is a plea agreement in place and Bosch will change his plea later.

"Mr. Bosch has never had and does not have a DEA registration," said Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA Miami. "He is not a licensed medical professional. He is not a doctor. He is a drug dealer."

Also charged in the scandal were Yuri Sucart, a cousin of Rodriguez, and Juan Carlos Nunez, who was named in a scheme to clear All-Star Melky Cabrera after a positive 2012 testosterone test, authorities said.

Other defendants include Carlos Acevedo, a longtime associate of Bosch's, former University of Miami coach Lazaro "Lazer" Collazo, Jorge Velasquez, and Christopher Engroba.

Acevedo and three other men, including CarlosLuis Ruiz, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, also were charged in a separate conspiracy involving the sale of the drug MDMA, or molly.

Eight of the 10 men charged appeared in court. Acevedo and Engroba also entered not guilty pleas. The other men didn't enter a plea.

Lengthy investigation

The drug conspiracy charges against the men stemmed from from a 21-month DEA investigation.

"These defendants were motivated by one thing: money," United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo Ferrer, said. "They did this by lining their pockets, by exploiting the pressures of athletes and others to be bigger, to be stronger and to play better."

Bosch could face a 10-year prison term in the case.

Bosch told investigators that he provided the illegal substances to at least 18 minors, Ferrer said.

Bosch and his associates distributed the drugs to minors who attended a number of public and private high schools in South Florida. He would charge the teenagers and their parents between $250 and $600 a month, promising that the concoctions -- which included black market steroids -- would improve their game.

A look at performance enhancing drugs in sports

In addition, investigators said, Bosch and the others operated in the Dominican Republic, where boys as young as 12 were given new baseball equipment and treated with testosterone-loaded syringes in an effort to get them signed with big league teams. Talents scouts working with the children would keep as much as 50 % of their signing bonuses.

"These defendants provided easy access to dangerous concoctions of steroids and human growth hormones to impressionable high school kids," Ferrer said. "Simply put: Doping children is unacceptable. It is wrong. It is illegal and it is dangerous and Bosch and his reckless recruiters and his black market suppliers ignored the serious health risks posed to their so called patients, all to make a profit."

Using lollipops

The drugs were administered in a number of ways, through injections, pills, creams and even lollipops, according to a source with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Masking agents were used to hide the drugs. "It was so good. The key was being able to fool testers with the league (Major League Baseball), the source said. "The masking agents in the creams would hide the actual drug, and (Bosch) would know the timing involved. He knew if the athlete took the drug right before a game, they'd be tested 12 hours later and the drug would no longer be detectable."

Earlier this year, Major League Baseball dropped its lawsuit against Bosch and the company the league claims provided performance-enhancing drugs to a number of players, including Rodriguez. The league had agreed to drop the suit if Bosch cooperated in the investigation, according to published reports.

In a statement Tuesday, Rodriguez's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said: "This obviously is the beginning of the end of this sordid chapter in baseball."

Authorities said professional athletes recruited by the clinic paid between $2,000 and $12,000 per month for the drugs.

The investigation led to the suspension of 14 players for violating the league's drug policy. Besides Rodriguez, suspended players included Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, who served part of his suspension last season.

Bosch's Biogenesis clinic became part of the story in late January 2013, when the Miami New Times reported that more than a dozen professional baseball players and other athletes had been named in records kept over several years by the clinic.

Two months later, MLB filed its lawsuit against the clinic in Florida's Miami-Dade County.

Its 14-page complaint named Biogenesis, its predecessor company and six individuals -- among them program director Bosch, others at the company, someone who worked at a sports agency, a former University of Miami baseball player and a "self-proclaimed chemist" who supplied substances.

[Aug 08, 2016] Fmr Russian doping lab chief sold drugs to athletes, promised cover-up

Notable quotes:
"... At the end of June the Investigative Committee filed a request with US authorities to help with carrying out the questioning of Rodchenkov, as part of the criminal case against him. ..."
"... This guy should be dealt with harshly for he has used, other wise, athletes that would have used better judgment. Temptation in the eyes of rising stars with the promises. Tragic now that they are sideline. Gods speed with this calamity. ..."
Jul 5 , 2016 | RT Sport

The former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory set up a doping scheme in which he sold illegal substances to athletes while also promising to help them obtain a clean doping record, a Russian investigation has revealed.

Investigators cited witnesses implicating Grigory Rodchenkov in a doping scheme.

"According to preliminary information, he [Rodchenkov] purchased these substances in the US and when selling them to clients, promised to cover the fact that banned substances had been detected in their samples," Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement published on Monday.

The committee has reason to think that Rodchenkov was the mastermind behind the illegal trade, the statement continued to say. There is as of yet no information about his possible accomplices.

"He could have destroyed the samples to conceal the selling of prohibited substances and avoid criminal responsibility that would bring him a much stricter punishment, than that [which exists] for violating WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] standards," Markin also wrote.

Another detail revealed by the Investigative Committee is that Rodchenkov's sister had been convicted in 2012 for the illegal trafficking of substances that could have been used for doping. It is yet to be established where she bought the drugs.

The case against Rodchenkov was launched in the middle of June. He faces charges in Russia of abuse of authority based on World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reports and media reports which suggested Rodchenkov and Russian athletes violated anti-doping regulations.

Rodchenkov deliberately decided to destroy 1,437 blood samples in December 2014, despite receiving a letter from WADA requesting that he keep the samples, the investigation stated.

The former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab is currently in the US where he fled, stating that he has been fearing for his safety.

In May, Rodchenkov said in an interview with NYT that he substituted more than 100 samples given by Russian athletes during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics which was all part of a state-run "decade-long effort to perfect" Russia's performance at international competitions.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko subsequently rejected the claims, stressing that no doping program had ever existed in Russian sports.

At the end of June the Investigative Committee filed a request with US authorities to help with carrying out the questioning of Rodchenkov, as part of the criminal case against him.

Blue Sushi -> Red Fish

"Is anybody stupid enough to think Russia would have admitted its drugs problem on its own?"

Does any nation?

ethan hunt

Grigory Rodchenkov made an allegation and its only right that he provides proof/evidence to backed his allegations.

Russia does not want to shut him up but it does wanted Rodchenkov to present evidence to claim so that the necessary steps can be taken.

MeBituman

Simple question who destroyed the samples that were expressly requested by WADA to be preserved? This is your guilty party. No?

ethan hunt

An allegation was made and no evidence was presented. Did the IAAF and WADA actually presented evidence? They did not, their decision was based on the "allegations" made.

James Hickey

This guy should be dealt with harshly for he has used, other wise, athletes that would have used better judgment. Temptation in the eyes of rising stars with the promises. Tragic now that they are sideline. Gods speed with this calamity.

[Aug 08, 2016] Doping must not be tolerated, but neither should the politicizing of sport by Peter Lavelle

Actually the fact that almost anybody under investigation from Russia can escape to West and on crossing the border be promoted as fighter for democracy or truth creates an unhealthy climate. See Fmr Russian doping lab chief sold drugs to athletes, promised cover-up – investigation - RT Sport
Notable quotes:
"... Peter Lavelle is host of RT's political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer. ..."
theduran.com

The International Olympic Committee has decided Russian athletes can attend the Rio Olympic Games – participation to be individually decided by federations. This is the right decision, but a dangerous precedent has been established – entire teams can be targeted for political reasons.

The IOC probably realized it was playing with fire. The U.S. and some of allies have gone to great lengths to "isolate" Russia for Washington's blunders in Ukraine and elsewhere. The strategy to "isolate" means no stone will be left unturned to damage Russia, including the areas of sports and other prestige events. By banning the Russian team the IOC probably drew the conclusion that itself would face isolation from hundreds of million of sports enthusiasts.

Also, the IOC probably reflected on what any Olympics would be like without Russia – one of the pillars of international sports. Without the Russians, all medals would have been deemed less worthy.

... ... ...

Washington's neocons and their fellow travelers have been dealt a blow – there are surely feeling they lost an important PR coup. They will certainly regroup and continue their vengeful assault on Russia and international legal norms. The Rio Games have been saved, but the reputation of the IOC has been damaged. Doping must not be tolerated, but neither should the politicizing of sport.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT's political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.

[Aug 08, 2016] Russian Olympic doping scandal McLaren Report sexed up, implicated clean athletes

Notable quotes:
"... the whole way the campaign was conducted, and the timing of the publication of the various WADA reports, shows that the agenda all along was to get the whole of Team Russia expelled from the Olympic Games. ..."
"... The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, who is also an IOC vice president, reportedly wrote to Australia's Health Minister Susan Ley, saying that the IOC had a "lack of confidence in WADA." ..."
"... We encourage a full report by Professor McLaren before we make any full and frank ­decisions ..."
theduran.com

More evidence of deep divisions between the IOC and WADA over the Russian doping scandal have emerged in two articles in The Australian. One article, which is behind a paywall, derives from off-the-record conversations with IOC officials. The other article, which is open access, gives Professor McLaren's side of the story. It alludes to the article behind the paywall and reproduces some of its material.

For an open source account of what is in the article behind the paywall, one is obliged to turn to RT. It claims that the article says

"….that there are members within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who believe the release of the McLaren report on the eve of the Olympics was designed to set off the "nuclear option" of issuing a blanket ban on Russia competing at the games."

This is very similar to what I said in an article I wrote a few days ago. I said that the whole way the campaign was conducted, and the timing of the publication of the various WADA reports, shows that the agenda all along was to get the whole of Team Russia expelled from the Olympic Games. Here is what I said:

"That this was indeed the agenda is clear enough from the way the whole anti-doping campaign against Russia has been conducted. It seems that a decision to expel Russia from the Olympic movement was taken probably around the time of the failure of the campaign to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. All the various allegations of doping in Russia that have circulated since 2010 and even before were then sifted through to construct a case. Someone then put them all together in a dossier, spicing them up with witness testimony from people like Stepanova and Rodchenkov. A series of lurid articles and documentaries then appeared in the Western media, reviving all the allegations and putting the worst possible spin on them. A series of reports from WADA then followed in quick succession starting in the autumn of last year, timed to make the maximum possible impact and to leave the least possible time for proper independent fact checking or for any other steps to be taken before the start of the Rio Games. That way the allegations could not be properly and independently assessed and no fully fair arrangements could be made to allow for the admission of all indisputably clean Russian athletes. That opened the way, just as the Rio Games were about to start, for the IOC to be presented with a demand for a blanket ban."

In my article I also said on the basis of certain comments by IOC President Thomas Bach that all the facts pointed to the IOC being furious with WADA for its conduct of the whole affair. Again RT's summary of the article behind the paywall confirms as much.

"Once it was clear that the IOC was not going to support a full ban, the author of the report, the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, handed over the names of Russian athletes who had been cited in his document to the 28 federations. These names had initially not been published when the report was first made public on July 18. However, The paper's sources reportedly said that WADA now has a problem as it "had been caught short not having enough detail to justify some of the claims against athletes."

"They sexed it up which is crazy because now the entire report is under scrutiny and I am sure most of the report is absolutely accurate. It just puts question marks where question marks should not be," a sports official told the publication.

The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, who is also an IOC vice president, reportedly wrote to Australia's Health Minister Susan Ley, saying that the IOC had a "lack of confidence in WADA."

"McLaren said there was evidence that 170 Russian athletes, the majority of whom were set to compete in Rio, had previously had positive doping tests destroyed by the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory. Following further analysis of the samples carried out at the Moscow laboratory, it was found that Russian samples were split into four separate categories of seriousness. However, one of these categories was for samples which were not considered serious at all.

"We were asked to make a judgment about Russian competitors based on McLaren's report but without having any of the detail to understand the significance of them being named," a senior sports official said, as cited by The Australian. "Now to be told that there were four different categories – why weren't we told this at the very beginning? It's a mess and it's WADA's fault.''"

That RT is reproducing the article accurately is confirmed by the open access article. It corroborates RT's account of the article behind the paywall:

"Sports officials have accused WADA of "sexing up" the case against Russian athletes by handing over to sporting federations the names of competitors who had no evidence against them in order to invoke the "nuclear option" of expelling Russia from the Games. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said yesterday the confusion showed the dangers of working with an unfinished report: "To have someone who didn't (commit) a competition doping offence but was counted as such is a very dangerous thing. We encourage a full report by Professor McLaren before we make any full and frank ­decisions.''"

(bold italics added)

The reference to McLaren's report being "unfinished" and to the need for a "full report" refers to something else I said in another earlier article I wrote a week ago:

"In any rational world what ought to have happened is that when Stepanova's and Rochenkov's allegations became public a full and proper investigation ought to have been set up, with all the witnesses examined and represented by legal counsel, and with the forensic evidence examined by a variety of scientific experts, who could have been cross-examined and whose reports would have been made public. Since this would have taken time – a year at least – arrangements of the sort now set up by the IOC should have been made in the meantime to ensure that there was no cheating by Russian athletes at Rio. Given the scale of the allegations and the suspicion of state involvement in the doping, this would inevitably have involved barring Russian athletes already found to have cheated from competing in Rio, harsh though that is. At the end of this process the investigation would have delivered a proper report – not like the deeply flawed report provided by McLaren – either confirming or refuting the allegations, and making specific recommendations to prevent the problem arising again."

The IOC is obviously right to complain that it should not have been asked to make a decision on the basis of an incomplete report provided just 2 weeks before the Games in Rio were due to begin. However, given his actions in preparing his report and the way he presented it, Professor McLaren is obviously the wrong person to prepare the full report IOC spokesman Mark Adams is referring to.

The open access article in The Australian shows the extent to which McLaren and WADA have been thrown onto the defensive. It reports McLaren complaining that

"The focus has been completely lost and the discussion is not about the Russian labs and Sochi Olympic Games, which was under the direction of the IOC. But what is going on is a hunt for people supposed to be doping but that was never part of my work, although it is starting to (become) so. My reporting on the state-based system has turned into a pursuit of individual athletes.''

I am at a total loss to understand how Professor McLaren thinks that a report supposedly about an alleged state-sponsored system of doping should not look into the evidence of doping on the part of individual athletes, when it is precisely those individual cases of doping which are the evidence that there was a state-sponsored system of doping in the first place.

Obviously there was insufficient time to look into each and every allegation of doping properly in the 57 days in which Professor McLaren's investigation was conducted. However that merely points to the fact that conducting a proper investigation within a timeframe of just 57 days was impossible. Professor McLaren should have admitted as much and asked for more time to conduct his investigation properly, leaving it to WADA and the IOC to put in place proper arrangements to prevent possible cheating by Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio in the meantime. However that is not what he did. Instead he delivered an incomplete and defective report and demanded a blanket ban on the strength of it.

Frankly I cannot see in Professor McLaren's words anything other than confirmation that that was his objective all along. Judging from what IOC officials are reported to have told The Australian, it seems that is their opinion too.

Further confirmation that this was the objective is provided by the way WADA is now desperately trying to retreat from the way McLaren "implicated" individual athletes in his report. In order to explain this away WADA's chief executive Olivier Niggli is quoted by The Australian as providing what can only be called a twisted explanation of what happened.

"WADA chief executive Olivier Niggli said the confusion arose because sports officials had not understood what the word ''implicated'' meant. ''Professor McLaren gave each sport the list of the athletes who were implicated. That was the word used by the IOC; which athletes were appearing there in the report. Then we get to the confusing part. He gave the international federations everything he had, every name.'' There was no further information about some names, yet the sports federations believed listing meant they were ''implicated'' and they should withdraw the athletes and, following IOC guidelines, they should withdraw them from Olympics competition."

That Professor McLaren (who is a lawyer) "implicated" athletes in a way that was not intended to cast suspicion on them strikes me as frankly absurd. On the contrary it is now starting to look as if he presented his findings in such a way as to create the impression that there was more evidence of Russian athletes being involved in doping than was actually the case.

All this is of course grist to the mill for the lawyers in the court cases which the Russian athletes are now bringing. Some of the comments on the thread to the article in which I discussed these court cases doubted that they would have much effect. On the contrary it is precisely because these court cases are being brought that the IOC and WADA are now so publicly at odds with each other. What one can see in these angry exchanges and recriminations are the frantic steps of the two sporting bodies as they try desperately to cover their positions in anticipation of the court cases that are now coming. Moreover in any court case there is a legal duty of full disclosure which the Russian athletes can use to demand sight of all the correspondence (including telephone records and emails) which led to the decision to exclude them being made. I expect their lawyers to advise them to use this right to the hilt. This is beginning to look like a debacle. As I have said before this affair is only at its start.

[Aug 07, 2016] Issues of defamation, slander and libel and possible future legal action

Notable quotes:
"... any knee jerk withdrawal, boycott, etc., would "prove" Russia is covering up its "misbehaviour" and is a "sore loser". Right now, the Russian athletes in Rio cannot be smeared with the same brush. ..."
"... I am really hoping that multiple legal actions are launched against WADA and any enablers of its libel ..."
"... Challenging it in the public political space is doomed to failure since the average sheep does not have enough IQ or desire to evaluate such reports on their merits and simply defers to the "authorities" and their "evidence". ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
kirill, August 6, 2016 at 9:00 am
Regarding Russia, WADA and the Rio Olympics. The current Russian approach seems optimal. Russian athletes have managed to clear the hurdles set up before them and will participate. That is a major fail for Uncle Scam and his WADA cronies. They were hoping for Russia to knee jerk with indignation. It is something I would have done. But any knee jerk withdrawal, boycott, etc., would "prove" Russia is covering up its "misbehaviour" and is a "sore loser". Right now, the Russian athletes in Rio cannot be smeared with the same brush.

I am really hoping that multiple legal actions are launched against WADA and any enablers of its libel. This is the right medicine for this scum. They have no legal case and use some two bit propaganda report to smear all Russian athletes. This report will not stand up in court and that is where it should be challenged.

Challenging it in the public political space is doomed to failure since the average sheep does not have enough IQ or desire to evaluate such reports on their merits and simply defers to the "authorities" and their "evidence".

Fern , August 6, 2016 at 1:27 pm
I was watching the Games' opening ceremony from Rio on the BBC and when the Russian team appeared in the parade, we had a quick re-hash of the doping 'scandal'. Then one of the commentators did something surprising – she said, of course, many of these athletes are probably clean and we wish them well. I suspect someone has raised the issues of defamation, slander and libel and possible future legal action and commentators have been warned to take care in what they say.

Here's another interesting point I learned from last night's BBC coverage – Thomas Bach, newly-labelled as a Putin-stooge for not enforcing a ban on the whole Russian team, was in competition for his post against a Ukrainian. I wonder whether the plan to ruin Russia's Olympics was hatched a while back with the West hoping it would have a Ukrainian in the key job?

Patient Observer , August 6, 2016 at 1:51 pm
I had the same initial reaction as you and now agree with your conclusions. Russia has also consistently used a similar "high road" approach in its foreign policy decisions with great results.

Of course, it takes a savvy (and moral) domestic population to understand the strategy. It would seem that a majority of Western populations would not be able to comprehend, much less support, such actions. They have grown to expect if not demand bellicose, insulting and vindictive actions by their governments over the slightest real or imagined challenge to US hegemony.

[Aug 07, 2016] Does WADA has facts to prove allegations ? If they are lying or cannot furnish any real evidence, the case is in serious trouble

Professional sport is now almost pure politics and not only athletes destroy their health by taking drugs, the corrupt politicians play their dirty games with impunity. As perforce enhancing drags are not a real menace, singling out Russia as the most egregious abuser based on testimony of the corrupt turncoat (who destroyed the evidence and is under criminal investigation in Russia) looks like a dirty game.
Notable quotes:
"... That is a slippery slope in which WADA is putting all its eggs in the Rodchenkov/Stepanov basket. If they are lying or cannot furnish any real evidence, the case is in serious trouble, and it looks like it is only going to heat up after Rio rather than dying down. ..."
"... If I remember correctly, Dick Pound is not part of WADA any more, or any Olympic organization – he's retired, just (allegedly) 'well-respected' and a former WADA official. He's a co-founder of WADA and a former president, and he had several jobs in both the Canadian and international Olympic committees. but now he's just an international busybody without portfolio, and obviously possessed of the belief that the Russians are what is wrong with clean sport and everything they ever won, they cheated to get. conversely, North America represents everything that's right with clean sport, and has an international obligation to squeeze out those Russian state-sponsored dopers and everyone else who shames their nation. The United States is happy to use him and McLaren because they like to internationalize their Russophobia. ..."
"... I'm sure there are good reasons for Russia to just bow its head and accept it for now, and probably that's the best thing in the long run, especially if WADA ends up discredited. And hopefully Russia will press it hard once the Olympics is over. But I would be hurt and angry if I were in charge, and I would withdraw from the Olympics, do everything I could to damage it as an institution and it would never see another dime out of me. ..."
"... I would be exactly the kind of reactionary leader Washington wishes was in charge in Russia. Because the USA would be delighted to see Russia as isolated as it is trying to make it. Here's a very interesting Canadian policy document on the drive for medals in international sport, and how much it means politically. It specifically cites how much Russia spends on sport, and I am sure I'm not speaking out of turn when I say screwing Russia out of medals is a western objective, and one that would not be necessary if they could be easily beaten just by superior athletes. ..."
"... "International sporting success has many outcomes, which I would argue are beneficial and far reaching. Governments seem to agree with what appears to be a continuing and increasing "arms race" with the hopes of further medals . As but one example on October 11, 2014, Russia announced a new federal funding program worth RUB70 billion ($1.8 billion) to further develop physical education and sports. Understanding how to best invest these funds in any country is difficult, however, as creating world champions is a complicated algorithm. In part, it was this recognition that led to the creation of the Canadian Sport for Life Long-Term Athlete Development (CS4L–LTAD) pathway. ..."
"... Another way to help answer the question of how to best invest in sport is SPLISS (Sport Policies Leading to International Sporting Success), a theoretical model for understanding (as the name suggests) what policies administrators can influence that will lead to medals in Summer Olympic Games ..."
"... Forget that 'just do your best; you can do no more' shit. It's about international prestige and winning lots of gold medals gives you a bigger dick to swing around on the world stage. And that's what it's all about. ..."
"... We've spoken before about the limitations of the human body set against the expectations that new world records will be set at every Olympics. The body can only do so much, and there are thresholds for human performance. These are young people in the prime of health who train every day, and it is not unrealistic to imagine at some point a person is going to lift the greatest weight of which a human is capable of lifting without taking some sort of drug to boost his strength or dull the pain that warns him he is destroying something. ..."
"... the IOC smackdown is a double kick in the sack. ..."
"... For all the slurry WADA, the US and its allies have spread in the direction of Russia, two thirds of (now angry) Russian athletes are going to the Olympics. ..."
"... I'm not for keeping Russian athletes at home. This is about history. It will be another chapter in a series of attempts by the West to pawn Putin that he handles with his usual Judo throw/chess move, at his timing and choice. ..."
"... I think WADA is going to end up getting its peepee slapped. I certainly hope so, anyway, and I hope Reedie comes through on naming athletes fingered by WADA's 'whistleblowers' because that will leave both the 'whistleblowers' and WADA open to lawsuits. ..."
"... Let's hope Russia goes after WADA and McClaren once the Games are over – let's see how well his 'evidence' stands up in an actual court rather than the fictious one he seems to have created in his mind. ..."
"... He looks to be sweating in the picture. I'd say he should get used to that. He just admitted to convicting an entire country on secret evidence that he has shared with nobody else. ..."
"... Did he actually go to Russia to obtain the samples he alludes to having? If not, I hope he has a chain of custody for them, because they could have come from anywhere and he probably got every bit of it from Rodchenkov. ..."
marknesop, August 3, 2016 at 10:01 pm
I wonder if there is an implied threat here; "Russian sports chief says McLaren's doping report to be thoroughly studied after 2016 Rio"

Moscow knows very well that McLaren has no real evidence, and is pinning everything on Rodchenkov's and the Stepanovs' testimony – he has said as much. Will their wild tales hold up? We'll see. But the public rift between the IOC and WADA, and increasing talk about reform at the latter does not spell confidence in WADA's allegations to me. It would be pretty sweet if their whole case fell through and Russia took WADA to court. They've been strutting around throwing bans and cutting a wide swath as Washington uses them as yet one more of its political tools, but just maybe they have overstepped this time.

I notice WADA was not able to reward its star nightingale , Yulia Stepanova, with an Olympic slot. The IOC put paid to that proposition, as their quarrel gets more public.

Speaking of WADA, Russia appears to have goaded its president, Craig Reedie, into announcing that WADA was ready to reveal the names of the Russian athletes who allegedly took performance-enhancing drugs during the Sochi Olympics. That is a slippery slope in which WADA is putting all its eggs in the Rodchenkov/Stepanov basket. If they are lying or cannot furnish any real evidence, the case is in serious trouble, and it looks like it is only going to heat up after Rio rather than dying down.

et Al, August 4, 2016 at 9:03 am
I think the legal route will be pretty well inevitable unless WADA rows back. It doesn't actually have to go to court, as you have pointed out their rather whimiscal 'evidence', that I highly doubt would pass the legal smell test to even get beyond a hearing. I would expect that WADA & the IOC may simply be happy to drop the ban with little or no fanfare and 'no comment', after Rio if possible.

Those re-tested samples would need to be tested even again…

I suppose the question is what happens to those officials in WADA who backed & demanded the ban. I don't see how anyone could have further confidence in WADA if they remain in place. They may pretend not to be responsible or take any blame but I don't see how they could stay (apart from their government's insistence) without all credibility being lost.

marknesop , August 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm
If I remember correctly, Dick Pound is not part of WADA any more, or any Olympic organization – he's retired, just (allegedly) 'well-respected' and a former WADA official. He's a co-founder of WADA and a former president, and he had several jobs in both the Canadian and international Olympic committees. but now he's just an international busybody without portfolio, and obviously possessed of the belief that the Russians are what is wrong with clean sport and everything they ever won, they cheated to get. conversely, North America represents everything that's right with clean sport, and has an international obligation to squeeze out those Russian state-sponsored dopers and everyone else who shames their nation. The United States is happy to use him and McLaren because they like to internationalize their Russophobia.

I'm sure there are good reasons for Russia to just bow its head and accept it for now, and probably that's the best thing in the long run, especially if WADA ends up discredited. And hopefully Russia will press it hard once the Olympics is over. But I would be hurt and angry if I were in charge, and I would withdraw from the Olympics, do everything I could to damage it as an institution and it would never see another dime out of me.

I would be exactly the kind of reactionary leader Washington wishes was in charge in Russia. Because the USA would be delighted to see Russia as isolated as it is trying to make it. Here's a very interesting Canadian policy document on the drive for medals in international sport, and how much it means politically. It specifically cites how much Russia spends on sport, and I am sure I'm not speaking out of turn when I say screwing Russia out of medals is a western objective, and one that would not be necessary if they could be easily beaten just by superior athletes.

Here's a teaser:

"International sporting success has many outcomes, which I would argue are beneficial and far reaching. Governments seem to agree with what appears to be a continuing and increasing "arms race" with the hopes of further medals . As but one example on October 11, 2014, Russia announced a new federal funding program worth RUB70 billion ($1.8 billion) to further develop physical education and sports. Understanding how to best invest these funds in any country is difficult, however, as creating world champions is a complicated algorithm. In part, it was this recognition that led to the creation of the Canadian Sport for Life Long-Term Athlete Development (CS4L–LTAD) pathway.

Another way to help answer the question of how to best invest in sport is SPLISS (Sport Policies Leading to International Sporting Success), a theoretical model for understanding (as the name suggests) what policies administrators can influence that will lead to medals in Summer Olympic Games . This model has evolved following rigorous study that began in the early 2000s. At that time, researchers from Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom recognized that other models were too anecdotal or descriptive in their attempts to understand how to better invest for medal success ."

Forget that 'just do your best; you can do no more' shit. It's about international prestige and winning lots of gold medals gives you a bigger dick to swing around on the world stage. And that's what it's all about.

We've spoken before about the limitations of the human body set against the expectations that new world records will be set at every Olympics. The body can only do so much, and there are thresholds for human performance. These are young people in the prime of health who train every day, and it is not unrealistic to imagine at some point a person is going to lift the greatest weight of which a human is capable of lifting without taking some sort of drug to boost his strength or dull the pain that warns him he is destroying something. At the next Olympics, somebody will still win a gold medal in that event, but they will not be able to break the record, and that will be disappointing because it will force everyone to acknowledge that humans have limits.

Interestingly, Craig Reedie is not only President of WADA, but Vice-President of the IOC. He is British, unsurprisingly – he had to be either that or an American because nobody hates the Russians like the British and the Americans do. So the IOC smackdown is a double kick in the sack. I guess we know who the "1" was in the 84-1 vote, or whatever it was.

et Al , August 4, 2016 at 1:51 pm
I think you've just failed your job interview with Vladimir Putin! Never mind.

Let's look at this dispassionately. For all the slurry WADA, the US and its allies have spread in the direction of Russia, two thirds of (now angry) Russian athletes are going to the Olympics. By not winning a ban, they have already lost. It was the best they could do and there was no way for them to square the circle short of declaring that Russia does not exist and thus cannot be present a the Olympics.

Then there's the longburn that we've all discussed and heavily speculated upon. Who knows how it is going to shake out, but what we do know is that Putler takes his time and likes to serve his revenge cold, and usually indirectly with little fanfare. It may not garner headlines, but it will be an obvious slap in the face with a large fish a la Asterix to Russia's opponents.

I'm not for keeping Russian athletes at home. This is about history. It will be another chapter in a series of attempts by the West to pawn Putin that he handles with his usual Judo throw/chess move, at his timing and choice. This will be stuff taught to new cadres of diplomats as textbook 'handling dat shit and then some'. No one is perfect and certainly not Putin (disbanding the firewarning/volunteer service for example), but it is a master class of playing whatever cards you've got their best advantage.

et Al , August 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Wada's that stuck in your throat, Groaning Man?#

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/04/thomas-bach-russians-ioc-soul-searching-rio

…"For me was that after this decision you have to be able to look into the eyes of all the athletes and during my many visits to the village here in Rio I have been looking into eyes of many athletes."

McLaren has accused the IOC of misrepresenting his findings, with several Russian athletes challenging bans based on their inclusion within the report. But Bach defended the process, which left those Russian athletes who did travel in limbo until the eve of the Olympics.

"I think this is a very thorough, strict and clear procedure and you will see the results of the individual analyses and on the application of justice in order to ensure a level playing field here at the Olympic Games," he said.

As he has since the beginning of the saga, he said that while the presumption of innocence had been reversed, "natural justice does not allow us to deprive human beings of the right to prove their innocence".

Bach pointed to the near unanimous support he received from members at the IOC decision, with only Britain's Adam Pengilly voting against. ..

marknesop , August 4, 2016 at 10:14 pm
Still a lot of mouth from the western press against the IOC, and although I think Bach's position is secure, you can bet that an effort to muscle him out and a compliant toady into his position will depend on how further investigations into the McLaren report go after the Olympics are over. For the moment McLaren seems pretty cocky, saying the IOC misrepresented his findings, but he got all of his testimonial evidence from WADA and its president is vice-president of the IOC! What's the chances of that being true, do you think?

I think WADA is going to end up getting its peepee slapped. I certainly hope so, anyway, and I hope Reedie comes through on naming athletes fingered by WADA's 'whistleblowers' because that will leave both the 'whistleblowers' and WADA open to lawsuits.

Cortes , August 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/04/richard-mclaren-ioc-wada-russia-rio-2016
Fern , August 4, 2016 at 4:28 pm
Looks like the wheels are coming off the WADA wagon and McClaren is getting a tad worried hence the somewhat hysterical tone of this:

"I have the evidence, I have it secured. I have the evidence backed up by forensic analysis of databases, sample bottles, I have laboratory evidence of some of those samples. It's true I haven't revealed," he said.

"But if you conduct a proper investigation, you don't put the evidence out there to create misinformation. I was at the stage where I could say what I knew beyond reasonable doubt. I wouldn't put anything in the report that I didn't have evidence of and wouldn't meet the criminal standard in any court around the world," he added.

I don't know what standard of jurisprudence he's used to but it's a mighty odd one. How can he really have established the provenance of any samples his 'whistleblower' presented him with? Other than the word of his informant, what actual evidence has he got of the involvement of the Russian state? Why did McClaren make no effort to discuss his 'evidence' with Russian officials?

Let's hope Russia goes after WADA and McClaren once the Games are over – let's see how well his 'evidence' stands up in an actual court rather than the fictious one he seems to have created in his mind.

marknesop , August 4, 2016 at 11:35 pm
He looks to be sweating in the picture. I'd say he should get used to that. He just admitted to convicting an entire country on secret evidence that he has shared with nobody else.

yalensis , August 5, 2016 at 4:57 am

Yeah, but he said that it appeared that way to him beyond reasonable doubt .
If that's good enough for this one-man judge-jury-executioner, then it should be good enough for the rest of us.
marknesop , August 5, 2016 at 10:06 am
He said he had secret evidence that nobody had seen but him, and that the purpose of his report was never to establish individual guilt, but to demonstrate that there was a state-sponsored doping program. He admitted publicly before he commenced his research that he had no such evidence, so he must have obtained it between the time he announced he had none and the time his report was released. Did he actually go to Russia to obtain the samples he alludes to having? If not, I hope he has a chain of custody for them, because they could have come from anywhere and he probably got every bit of it from Rodchenkov.

He's just saying nobody else has seen it to avoid saying where he got it, and a conviction in which the accused was not permitted to challenge the veracity of the evidence would not stand up anywhere else in the world except for America, where they are just so exceptional that they can do things that any other country would be condemned for doing. And rightly so.

Chinese American , August 5, 2016 at 7:53 am

Alexander Mercouris just put out a good summary of some of the new developments:

http://theduran.com/russian-olympic-doping-scandal-mclaren-report-sexed-implicated-clean-atheletes/

Apparently, the IOC and WADA are starting to point fingers at each other, and it's starting to get reported in the Western press.

[Aug 07, 2016] Former head of Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory faces criminal charges

Notable quotes:
"... "Rodchenkov used his authority despite the legal interests of the aforementioned organization and with the purpose of gaining personal advantages and benefits, thus having abused rights and legal interests," ..."
"... "Thus, the Anti-Doping Center lost the right for work. Rodchenkov's activities also have affected the interests of state, damaging its reputation, discrediting the country's anti-doping policies, and caused revoking of the international license from the laboratory, which had been established at expense of the federal budget." ..."
RT Sport
Published time: 18 Jun, 2016 10:44 Get short URL Grigory Rodchenkov © Valeriy Melnikov / Sputnik The discredited former chief of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, now faces criminal proceedings on charges of abuse of authority by Russia's Investigative Committee. The case focuses on media reports alleging violations of anti-doping regulations (including his participation) in Russian sports, as well as the information presented in the report of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November last year.

Of particular note is Rodchenkov's decision to deliberately destroy evidence after being asked by WADA to preserve and freeze blood samples in December 2014.

The Investigative Committee's spokesman, Vladimir Markin, explained the case by chronicling the events that eventually led to the suspension of the Moscow lab, as well as creating massive suspicion and mistrust of Russian athletes.

On December 9, 2014, WADA sent a letter to Rodchenkov, then-director of the Anti-Doping Center, asking that all blood samples that had been taken in the previous three months (as well as those taken in the future) were to be frozen and stored until further instructions from WADA.

On December 10, Rodchenkov confirmed by e-mail receipt of the letter and assured that the samples would be properly stored.

Read more Drugs, alcohol & offended insider: 5 reasons why Sochi doping allegations don't hold up

On December 12, in violation of the Anti-Doping lab's regulations, Rodchenkov issued a verbal order to his staff to discard 1,437 samples. His staff complied the same day.

"Rodchenkov used his authority despite the legal interests of the aforementioned organization and with the purpose of gaining personal advantages and benefits, thus having abused rights and legal interests," Markin said.

"Thus, the Anti-Doping Center lost the right for work. Rodchenkov's activities also have affected the interests of state, damaging its reputation, discrediting the country's anti-doping policies, and caused revoking of the international license from the laboratory, which had been established at expense of the federal budget."

READ MORE: Sochi Olympics doping allegations

[Jan 05, 2015] Do Svidanya 2014

Today we know that the stupid denigration of the Sochi Olympics in "western" propaganda media was part of the plan for the coup in Ukraine. On of distinct features of psychopaths is a lack of 'strategic empathy'. One onw commenter noted: "for me personally, discussing and seeking ideas an alternatives to the financial oligarchy hiding underneath the us$ is worth it.. it has nothing to do with putin, or only in so far as he represents an alternative - something that western countries are not offering.. i "
Jan 05, 2015 | moonofalabama.org

The most moving event to me in 2014 was the closing ceremony (vid, best parts of opening start here) of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Today we know that the stupid denigration of the Sochi Olympics in "western" propaganda media was part of the plan for the coup in Ukraine.

That illegal regime change was itself part of a bigger plan to restart a cold war, which will allow the U.S. to assert even more control over Europe, and eventually for regime change in Russia.

I am confident that in 2015 the non-poodle parts of Europe and Russia itself will assert themselves and block and counter the neo-imperial U.S. moves. As my Do Svidanya Sochi piece said:

The Russians will be very proud of these games. They will be grateful to their government and president for having delivered them. The internal and external message is understood: Russia has again found itself and it is stronger than ever.

The U.S. is ill informed about and underestimating Russia. Therein lies the possibility of serious miscalculations.

My hope for 2015 is that any miscalculations will be avoided and that peace will mostly prevail.

My very best wishes to all of you for a happy year 2015.

Posted by b at 12:19 PM | Comments (56)

KMF | Dec 31, 2014 12:50:24 PM | 2

Happy new year to you too.

On what you say: 'Today we know that the stupid denigration of the Sochi Olympics in "western" propaganda media was part of the plan for the coup in Ukraine.' This strikes me as placing too much emphasis on design as opposed to miscalculation, or perhaps, as this blogpost suggests, a lack of 'strategic empathy': http://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-need-for-strategic-empathy/

GoraDiva | Dec 31, 2014 1:33:23 PM | 6

Best to you and thanks for running a great blog!

Born in Krym, I came to the US critical of USSR, but was astounded at the viciousness (and lies) of anti-Soviet propaganda. Nothing prepared me for that.

After the fall, there seemed to be a short respite - but now it's full speed ahead - see if we can replicate the worst of the Cold War. Simply heart-breaking... how much better the planet would be if the two countries cooperated.

Combining Russian knowledge and creativity with American ingenuity and entrepreneurship... - yes, one can only dream. All we have now is an unstoppable desire to dominate and a complete failure of imagination. But nothing lasts forever... so let's hope for a brighter and more honest future.

Oui | Dec 31, 2014 3:19:45 PM | 7

Great stuff!

Oliver Stone on the narrative USA In Ukraine.
Always love those comments, 2,473 and counting.

Links to Pepe Escobar's analysis "The new European 'arc of instability,'" which indicates growing turbulence in 2015, as the US cannot tolerate the idea of any rival economic entity.

james | Dec 31, 2014 6:56:35 PM | 17

hey sloth.. for me personally, discussing and seeking ideas an alternatives to the financial oligarchy hiding underneath the us$ is worth it.. it has nothing to do with putin, or only in so far as he represents an alternative - something that western countries are not offering.. i

live in canada and when i see the country being raped by corps that have only as much concern for the environment as our politicians will demand, i get discouraged. these same politicians don't represent me or ordinary canucks, but these same corps wanting to take the resources while giving few jobs in return..

it might not be any different in russia, but the financial demons that are pushing for global domination via the us$ are no friends of mine or of the planet..

they will switch to another whore when the us$ is no more.. this isn't about hero worship.. it's about recognizing how we in the west are being conned and lied to by financial interests who own the press and have nothing to do with my best interests.. no hero worship on my part.

you saying folks put putin on a pedestal is your own wishful thinking bullshit.

okie farmer | Dec 31, 2014 7:05:26 PM | 18

BBC World Service this morning said Moscow's riot police had dispersed Navalny's demonstrators keeping them off the sidewalks etc. I watched a live feed of the demonstration for hours, I counted about 80 demonstrators and about 20 police. Actually the demonstration was in a small plaza and no one was "dispersed". The police, however, were on the sidewalks watching the demonstrators in the plaza, which BBC turned on it's head for propaganda purposes.

Copeland | Dec 31, 2014 8:43:40 PM | 23

2015 is likely to be a dangerous year because the Empire is going for broke, as unpleasantly as possible. But the bloodiness of its intentions is now amplified by economic war; and cutthroat oil devaluation may backfire, leaving them to stumble down unpredictable paths; and it is obvious that the ruling class is exposed by its desperation , with a more fragile hold of the reins than they realize. Their confidence is just as puffed up as their hubris.

I go into the New Year cheering b, our host at this bar. And I feel so much respect for those among us who resist, who constantly refuse to capitulate to the Forces of Darkness; and so I believe the spirit that sustains us will be here in abundance, in 2015: solidarity, imagination and ingenuity, indignation and revolt, love and catharsis, all strength of character to encourage, and yes, an ample measure of good luck.

May we live to see a better year.

Demian | Dec 31, 2014 10:18:13 PM | 26

To address the matter of the Sochi Olympics. I had wondered about what the performances were like, and since I don't have a TV, b's linking to a video of the highlights was the first opportunity I had to see what the Russians had done in an apparent effort to represent Russia as a solid part of Europe. (This is what reports said was the purpose of putting so much effort into these Olympics. Warning: I am not into ballet.)

I believe that using a given Olympics as a platform to advertise one's country to the world is utterly futile, because no Olympics are ever even going to come close to the 1936 Summer Olympics, because of how Leni Riefenstahl filmed them in Olympia. Rammstein have kindly selected the highlights of Riefenstahl's brilliant film and used them in the video of their cover of Depeche Mode's Stripped. This is some of the best film making I have ever seen. Every single scene in the Rammstein video is mind blowing. Particularly notable are the sequence with the girls swinging their arms in tandem and the women and men diving into water. As far as I know, there is nothing like that elsewhere in cinema. It is a war crime that with cinematography and editing like that, Riefenstahl wasn't permitted by the occupying powers to continue making films.

It should be noted that at the climax of the video – a throng of women gymnasts gleefully and ecstatically swinging their arms in perfect synchrony – the video cuts to a flying American flag taking up the whole screen. This is the only footage that is in the Rammstein video that was not taken from Riefenstahl's film. The message is clear: America has replaced Germany as the seat of fascism.

Compared to Olympia, what the Russians did with the Sochi Olympics is nothing but Kitsch.

jfl | Jan 1, 2015 12:23:07 AM | 27

And in addition to Saker himself and Paul Craig, there is the WHITE PAPER posted by the former and alluded to by the latter : The DOUBLE HELIX: CHINA-RUSSIA. Seems very solid.

And towards the end, the Larchmonter makes some interesting observations on North Korea, and so, obliquely on the 'Lost U.S. Credibility On Cyber Claims'.

fairleft | Jan 1, 2015 6:29:10 AM | 29

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31, 2014 6:08:50 PM | 14

I don't see b or this blog in that way, but blind worship of anything or anyone capitalist and representing the ruling classes is something to be skeptical and distrustful of. The ruling class is mostly capitalists and populism is a tool for such folks and not typically a core belief.

But Putin's actions show he _is_ a real Russian nationalist, and he has a real-world, non-imperialist understanding of what Russian nationalism covers and doesn't cover.

Anyway, I say so far so good. I love Putin for his 2014 actions in Syria or Ukraine, which blocked Western imperial wins and saved many innocent lives. I just wish he (and China) had woken up sooner, in 2013, and maybe the rape of Libya could've been prevented. So, Putin is a major actor in world affairs, he's on the anti-imperial side of history, and as far as I can tell he is on the side of all who fight the Western financial borg's world dominance and austerity crusade.

However, the next twenty years is about China and what it decides to do and who it decides ultimately to ally with. Maybe Putin fever can be cured a bit if we imagine him checking his every major move with Xi Jinping. Quiet Xi is the real man going forward. Not as much fun at parties, not as animated facial expressions, not as direct or as artful in expression as Putin, but he (and what he represents) is the real power.

And, if Xi and Putin remain allied, this may really turn out to be the Chinese century. Hope no feelings are hurt but I don't guess it will be known as the Eurasian Century.

That said, the only thing I remember from Sochi are Yu Na and the other beautiful Asian figure skaters.

Happy New Year everyone!

guest77 | Jan 1, 2015 2:37:36 PM | 33

Looks like the US is already playing its games in Cuba.

Here is an event presented in the New York Times: a "sweeping roundup of dissidents":

[A performance artist] was detained at her mother's home hours before the event and released Wednesday afternoon, along with several others.

That's a "sweeping roundup of dissidents" - briefly questioning someone at their mother's home.

Of course the job of the New York Times is to blow things out of proportion. How else to can the NYTimes present the enforcement of mundane laws in Cuba (laws which all countries have) to the American people, who see their police forces daily murder people? The NYTimes has a job to do (as does any propagandist): they have to convince the home population that they are living under the best conditions possible while giving the impression that life anywhere else is a dystopian nightmare. Truth be told - for a significant sector of the US population, as events in NYC and Ferguson have recently shown - the reality is exactly reversed!

Consider too, what she was briefly detained for - seeking to assemble without a permit - and ask yourself: what happens in the United States when people attempt to assemble without a permit in some of the most heavily trafficked areas of the US largest cities? What would occur, should, say, the New Black Panther Party attempted to set up a rally in Times Square unannounced? What happened, indeed, when the Obama Administration had enough of the Occupy Movement? The tear gassing, the pepper spraying, the ejection of people from a park where they had a right to be.

Face the facts. The US allows no public displays of dissent without the approval of the authorities. Yet what is presented in the US as "public order" is, in Cuba, portrayed as some sort of totalitarian repression. This is sheer hypocrisy from those who have an interest in smashing an independent government in Cuba, and convincing the American people that we live in a "free" society.

It sort of says it all that she chose the location of the memorial to the sunken Maine Battleship - the incident that brought the most recent wave of US Imperialism to Cuba.

"She then announced a news conference and public gathering on the Malecón, ...at the memorial to the Maine, the American battleship that sank in Havana Harbor in 1898."
guest77 | Jan 1, 2015 2:53:39 PM | 34
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:5

There is no statement more appropriate to present to those sitting in the US, smug in their conviction that their country is the righteous one, and that Russia and "evil" Putin are the aggressors.

The fact is, there is little in Russian behavior - at home or internationally - which one can point at negatively in which the United States doesn't out do them by a long stretch. From the military sphere, to the way it treats its smaller partners and neighbors, to the way it provides for its people at home.

May 2015 be the year hypocrisy faces consequences.

nomas | Jan 1, 2015 4:02:32 PM | 37

@ Oui @ 7

Yes that's great stuff. Cant say I enjoy reading the comments but over and over it becomes clear that the pro-US, pro NATO, pro IMF rah rah fools have NOTHING.

The most they can manage is "Putin lover" or "why don't you marry Putin if you love him so much"...etc., some turn it around and say instead "why don't you move to Russia if you hate America so much"..LOL.

The few Ukie/NATO trolls that habituate themselves here say the same things over and over. Its amazing to see how many ways they can find to say "Putin lover" over and over again in the same paragraph, and literally nothing else. When they do attempt to argue the extant facts they merely invert them and mimic the arguments of we anti imperialists, standing reality on its head. These are classic, textbook reactionary rhetorical "styles"...They cant argue facts because any facts they are willing to admit to almost never support their opinions. In the end they often achieve their goal because when your shilling for a lie, muddying the waters is as good as a win. The best way to deal with these trolls and shills ? Don't engage them directly at all, but address their nonsense obliquely and restate the true facts clearly and repeatedly .

Nana2007 | Jan 1, 2015 4:25:30 PM | 38

fairleft@29- Watching the 2008 Chinese Olympics opening ceremony I remember being bowled over by the precision and artistry. I remember thinking we in the US are truly screwed. With Sochi not so much -- kitschy as you would expect. However I think Russia's actions in 2014 were duly impressive. Your post made me think of Putin re Knut Rockne's quote: "One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it."

It 's funny I know next to nothing of Xi Jingping- I'll have to remedy that this year.

Happy new year everybody.

somebody | Jan 1, 2015 4:58:24 PM | 39

slothrop | Dec 31, 2014 6:08:50 PM | 14

I agree, it is not rational. But would you really say causing something like this is Putin's fault?

From the Washington Post

But now several of these units, especially those linked to oligarchs or the far right, are revealing a dark side. In recent months, they have threatened and kidnapped government officials, boasted that they will take power if Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko fails to defeat Russia, and they served as armed muscle in illegal attempts to take over businesses or seize local governments.

In August, members of the Dnepr-1 battalion kidnapped the head of Ukraine's state land fund to prevent him replacing an official deemed inimical to business interests. On Dec. 15, these volunteer units interdicted a humanitarian convoy destined for the Russia-controlled Donbas, where a major emergency is emerging.

On Dec. 23, the Azov brigade announced that it was taking control of order in the eastern port city of Mariupol, without official approval from local or national officials.

Government prosecutors have opened 38 criminal cases against members of the Aidar battalion alone.

A pattern of blatant disregard for the chain of command, lawlessness and racketeering is posing a growing threat to Ukraine's stability at a critical juncture. Concern about volunteer groupings is widely shared in the Poroshenko administration, which reportedly raised the question of dealing with these dangers at a meeting in November of his National Security and Defense Council.

Most alarming, however, is the role of Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov. Instead of reining in these fighters, conducting background checks on their records and reassigning those who pass muster, he instead has offered them new heavy weapons, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, and given them enhanced brigade status. Amazingly, in September he even named a leader of the neo-Nazi Azov brigade to head the police in the Kiev region.

Equally worrying is the activity of Ihor Kolomoyskyy, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Kolomoyskyy, who played a crucial and widely respected role in stabilizing his East Ukrainian region, is now flouting central authority by interdicting aid convoys headed to the Donbas and permitting brigades he finances to engage in activities that contravene the law.

What can be done? Poroshenko clearly wants this problem resolved but has been reluctant or unable to act. For him to succeed will likely require coordination with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who has also been slow to address the threat, possibly because Avakov is one of his key political allies.

Now, we all know that Yatseniuk is Victoria Nuland's guy - so the US support war lordism in Ukraine?

It is not a bug, it is a feature - in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya ....

Demian | Jan 1, 2015 5:33:31 PM | 40

@somebody #39:

haha, here is how the author is described in that op-ed:

Adrian Karatnycky is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where he co-directs the "Ukraine in Europe" initiative.
The author complains about "warlordism" in Ukraine, but it is the "Ukraine in Europe" "initiative" which has produced the warlordism. You really have to wonder how these people can live with themselves and keep on producing such pieces which studiously ignore the obvious.

brian | Jan 1, 2015 5:45:35 PM | 42

Today in Kiev, a torchlight parade honoring Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMZPV1MmrLo

MRW | Jan 1, 2015 8:27:59 PM | 44

GoraDiva | Dec 31, 2014 1:33:23 PM | @6

I couldn't agree with you more, GoraDiva. But you have to understand how badly educated we Americans are. Furthermore, the majority don't give a shit about history, other countries, or their history.

And, literally, no Americans know how well-educated Russians are who went to university under the USSR system; they have no idea of the rigor. None. No one. They think Putin is some KGB agent who studied at the equivalent of a Police Academy, and managed to get lucky and win a few elections, and view him as someone similar to a Brooklyn mafia don. They don't know about Putin's Master's and PhD degrees, or what they were in.

They don't know that Lavrov can run rings around Kerry intellectually, and speaks, what? Five or six languages fluently?

They regurgitate what the former house-painter Sean Hannity thinks of Putin, who regurgitates what he heard growing up on the streets of New York. These guys don't read.

MRW | Jan 1, 2015 11:43:57 PM | 45

slothrop | Dec 31, 2014 6:08:50 PM | @14

I really don't understand why this blog became a living monument to Putin. At times, I think that b's hatred of the US has something to do with the gutless murder of civilian Hamburgers by allied bombers. On the other hand, the Red Army raped and murdered countless thousands of German civilians. And rather unlike the Russians, the American occupation was colossally more favorable to Hamburgers that was to anyone living in the Soviet bloc.
Maybe reading some history will help.

A Serious Case of Mistaken Identity by Benjamin Schwarz, LA Times
http://articles.latimes.com/2000/jun/22/local/me-43656

But the biggy is what Eisenhower did to German POWs just after the war. He killed a million, dumped lye on them, and ground them into the dirt. Story in Saturday Night, 1989. Make sure you scroll down to see the photos. Eisenhower made them live in hole in the ground.
Eisenhower's Death Camps-The Last Dirty Secret of World War Two by historian James Basque
http://www.whale.to/b/bacque1.html

fairleft | Jan 1, 2015 11:53:29 PM | 46

MRW | Jan 1, 2015 8:27:59 PM | 44

It's not simply about the uneducated masses, the leaders are uniformly educated at conformist, grade-inflated Ivy League or Ivy League equivalent institutions where anyone, even George Bush Jr., can graduate with a B- average.

And then the magic of connections and just doing what you're told can push an unqualified, uninterested dolt all the way to the top or near top.

Looking at Obama/Biden, Bush/Cheney, the only one who seemed smart and who knew and cared about what he was doing was the sociopath Cheney.

Obama is disengaged, an affirmative action actor/spokesmodel who'd rather be smoking a joint at his Hawaii beach house. Biden and Bush are similar, but also morons.

A Presidential candidate who is engaged, very smart and well-informed sticks out like a sore thumb and has a hard time earning the trust of the powers that be. Hillary Clinton in 2008 is a good example. (She's done a lot (of horrible things) since then to earn the PTB's trust, though.)

For the reason that being smart, engaged and well-read means you are potentially independent-minded in a sudden crisis. What if, for example, a sudden huge economic/mortgage crisis occurs and the extremely obvious thing to do is help homeowners directly, let the foolish banks who bankrupted themselves suffer the consequences, and pour money into public works and workers' pockets? In such a crisis, the PTB wants a bored, conformist, "don't give a shit" President who'll do exactly what Goldman Sachs tells him to do, not a smart, engaged, well-informed and potentially independent thinker/decider.

So the U.S. will continue to have an intellectual deficit at the top, and Russia will continue to win diplomatic and other battles with the U.S. even in situations where it's significantly 'outweighed'. Brains are too untrustworthy, they make the Wall Street boys nervous.

somebody | Jan 2, 2015 12:02:10 AM | 47

rufus magister | Jan 1, 2015 8:13:33 PM | 43

You have the same problem as b. The world is shades of grey not good and bad.

The "novorussian" side is fighting in the areas where Ukrainian/Russian oligarchs have interests who lost when Yanukovich was ousted. By withdrawing his own Russian nationalist fanatics Putin left the field to them. The non-destruction and shake down of Mariupol is a good case study of what is going on. Kolomoisky (Dnepopetrovsk) is in a take over fight with Akhmetov (Donbass).

There seems to be an agreement between Putin, Poroshenko and the EU (devolution and Donbass remaining part of Ukraine), just Poroshenko has not got the power (the security/military apparatus is in the hands of the Yatseniuk/Avakov/Kolomoisky faction backed by Victoria Nuland) to deal. Poroshenko's statements are devoid of any logic as he tries to cover the divide in his political coalition. At the same time obviously, he is in it for himself. On the other hand there is the issue of the funding of the Novorussian side. A lot of that will be a shake down of the oligarchs, too, and the genie probably has come out of the bottle there, too.

There is something intriguing about the Dniepopetrovsk private civilian and military airport run by Kolomoisky's airline. And there is a gap in the conspiracy theories of the usual Russian linked, Western left media outlets. Indian media is full of it, just google it.

According to reports in the media, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to take off at 1 PM from Frankfurt on his way back to India from Brazil where he had gone for a meeting of the leaders of the BRICS countries. His flight eventually took off at 1:22 PM. Had Modi's flight taken off at 1 PM as the earlier reports had indicated, it would have been in the vicinity of the shooting within six minutes of the Malaysian Airlines flight being shot down. ... What makes the claim that MH 17 was mistaken for an Ukrainian military plane a highly questionable one is that the plane was just 20 miles from the Russian border and the Ukrainian government would not dare provoke Russia by sending military planes to cross over into Russian airspace. It is unlikely that the anyone could have mistaken a plane headed for Russia as an Ukrainian military aircraft. ... Modi's election in May as the Indian Prime Minister caused a huge geopolitical earthquake, and any harm to him will have great ramifications around the world.

Actually, Modi was on his return from Brazil where BRICS had just voted on the founding of a BRICS development bank.

Now, this is a very good conspiracy theory with all the necessary ingredients. How come this has been restricted to India?

fairleft | Jan 2, 2015 12:46:21 AM | 49

Well happy bad new year, the Western media works harder to whitewash fascist/Nazi Bandera. An absolutely brilliant comment by 'Jack' below the AFP puff piece:

This US imperialist propaganda piece must be written by one of the staff comedians! Bandera is Che Guevara! Chocolate king Poroshenko fought on the barricades!

Notice the backhanded support to these n@zis? Our propaganda machine wants you to think that only "Moscow" says Bandera fought on the side of Hitler and the N@zis. Notice how the article tries to justify Bandera's fighting with the n@zis by blaming the 1930s famine -- but not mentioning the famine affected the whole USSR and was made worse by US economic embargo (just like today!)

These are the n@zis on whom our US government of hypocrites spent 5 billion of our tax dollars to bring to power and overthrow an elected government. These n@zis have attacked all media and parties in Ukraine that oppose the US puppet junta.

The people of the east are overwhelmingly Russian speaking working class people, miners and factory workers, who refused their appointed oligarch governors and declared their independence of the junta.

Our US government wants to turn Ukraine into a low wage colony and establish first-strike nuclear missile bases in Ukraine directed against Russia. The restoration of capitalism in Ukraine has brought disaster.

No surprise that some US politicians mingle with N@zis in Louisiana!

brian | Jan 2, 2015 2:08:01 AM | 52

the nonpoodle parts of europe will have to be aware of sedition from its own peoples as with the various Arab springs and Ukraine's Maidan, where locals serve to agitate for a foreign power while talking about 'freedom and democracy'

Mina | Jan 2, 2015 2:25:14 AM | 53

Fascism in Ukraine
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/119309/World/International/Thousands-of-Ukraine-nationalists-march-in-Kiev.aspx

And happy new year to all here!

Ghubar Shabih | Jan 2, 2015 3:20:03 PM | 54

Sergey Lavrov said on 15 Dec 2014: "We have overestimated the independence of the European Union [from the US]." http://itar-tass.com/en/russia/767282 . Lavrov made that comment in contemplation of the trade sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia last summer & autumn including particularly the manner in which the sanctions were discussed and not debated by EU political society.

It is clear to me that 'b' overestimates the numerical strength and political power of the "non-poodle" components of Europe. 'b' makes a bold declaration in his above post that "I am confident that in 2015 the non-poodle parts of Europe and Russia itself will assert themselves and block and counter the neo-imperial U.S. moves."

It is clear to me that Germany in particular is a "poodle", as the saying goes, and in other words German political society is committed to being in alignment with the USA for good and for ill, for better and for worse.

I repeat, the "non-poodle parts of Europe" have no teeth in Europe. You've seen that consistently in recent years, and you've no intelligent basis for supposing you're not going to be seeing it in 2015.

rufus magister | Jan 2, 2015 9:12:58 PM | 56

s'body @ 47 --

I'm sorry that I did not make my intent clear. I've been posting about the dangers posed by the militias and the rivalry btw. Poroshenko and Kolomoisky for a bit (good to see the WaPo has caught up, as you advise in 39 -- NYT is my MSM paper-of-record of choice, so I don't see the Post, thanks). I offered it as evidence of growing discord amongst the junta, not praise for Poroshenko's virtue. I expect him to remain a figurehead, but I expect the militias to continue to assert themselves. We'll see what comes of the prosecutions, that will be a tell.

I see the junta as shades of black -- midnight, charcoal, jet, ebony, etc. The Opposition Bloc is grey.

More grist for the mill -- nice pc. from Fort Russ, Is Poroshenko Preparing for Peace or War?. The whole pc. is worth reading, thorough consideration of Poroshenko's position, but here's the bottom line.

"It is therefore quite possible that Poroshenko is simply seeking to gain time and work on preparing the country for an all-out war, even though it is clear that people on all sides will suffer as a result. Or at the very least that he will be unable to stop the war drums even if he wishes to."

[Mar 08, 2014] Sochi Games under fire [from] 'Pravda on the Potomac' and elsewhere

RT Op-Edge

When Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, he must have been motivated by the hope of reviving sporting competitions on the pattern of the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece.

De Coubertin's contemporaries noted that he wished to create a festive atmosphere around the Games, to be imbued with the noblest human aspirations and emotions.

The IOC Statute specifically emphasizes that interference of politics in the preparation and conduct of the Olympics is utterly impermissible. Pierre de Coubertin could hardly have been so naive as to believe that the statute would be strictly complied with. Still, he certainly did not imagine the extent of the impact on the Games by political intrigue, as well as unbelievable commercialization, boycotts, bribery, doping, and on two occasions - in Munich in 1972 and in Atlanta in 1996 - even terrorist acts.

The Sochi Olympiad, or rather the epiphenomena connected with it, beat all previous records in terms of the scale of political interference and of the ferocity of world media attacks aimed at boycotting or disrupting the Games. We are witnessing a species of odd symbiosis between such motley groups as traditional Russophobes, Cold Warriors, radical elements among the LGBT community and human rights organizations, as well as some individuals within the Russian liberal circles who, along with Islamist extremists, openly talk of inflicting moral or physical damage on the Olympiad. The impression is that all of those groups would dearly love to see the Games fail ignominiously, while a successful completion of the Olympics would mean a personal disaster for them.

The Western press is doing its damnedest to broadcast across the world any faultor mishap at the Games - from a broken toilet bowl or a stray dog spotted in the street to terrorist threats - frequently in a grossly inflated form to enhance the effect. Until recently, it was virtually impossible to find a single good word about the Olympiad in the Western media; it was truly touching to watch the glee of the Games' ill-wishers when one of the Olympic rings failed to unfold during the opening ceremony.

One of the more revolting episodes in this mass hysteria was the monstrous and nauseating insinuation - the drawing of parallels between Sochi 2014 and Berlin 1936. Without stooping to argue with those who make such comparisons, I would like to remark that if there are any parallels with Germany to be drawn, it is not with Berlin in 1936, but with Munich in 1938.

It was in that year that Britain and France made the notoriously disgraceful concessions to Hitler and Mussolini, which played a significant role in encouraging Nazi Germany to start WWII. And now Washington Post correspondent Sally Jenkins castigated the IOC for choosing Sochi to conduct the 2014 Olympics despite threats from terrorists. It appears that from now on, IOC members will have to consult terrorists and appease them in selecting a venue for the Games, in the manner of British PM Chamberlain and his colleagues in Munich in 1938.

The Washington Post has for years been the indisputable world champion in anti-Russian propaganda. Its language in pieces devoted to Russia clearly differs from the standards accepted in Western journalism; in fact, its style is uncannily similar to that of the Soviet communist daily Pravda in the not so distant past. No wonder its soubriquet, "Pravda on the Potomac," is getting increasingly popular - so much so that it occasionally occurs even in mainstream Western media.

To be fair, over the last couple of days the Western press - apparently waking to the criticism of indignant readers and commentators - has somewhat mitigated the vitriolic drive of its Sochi Games coverage. One could see some limited praise for the organizers and it was indeed heartening to hear Donald Trump - hardly the biggest admirer of Russia or Putin - to politely rebuke the Fox News anchor by saying that it was perhaps about time to give Russians a break and note something good about Sochi, when the guy kept pushing him toward yet another portion of criticism.

Meanwhile, the Olympiad in Sochi follows its course and, pray God, will end in resounding success. However, let us face the reality: it does not look like the future Olympiads will be able to revive the ideals of the Games as conceived by their founders in Ancient Greece and by Baron de Coubertin.

Edward Lozansky for RT

Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow, and a professor at Moscow State University and National Research Nuclear University.

[Feb 24, 2014] How Putin plays the crisis in Ukraine will decide his fate by Simon Jenkins

February 24, 2014 | The Guardian
No plan survives contact with the enemy. The modern Olympics offer puffed-up authority the world over a platform for its political message. Vladimir Putin spent the requisite money, in excess of $50bn, to win and stage the Games. He supplied seven guards for every athlete. In return he had the world's sports media ready to launder his every word with synthetic hysteria, Britain's BBC included. Putin duly fashioned the Games as his "moral moment". He bizarrely portrayed modern Russia as a neoconservative bastion of order, discipline and traditional (heterosexual) values.

Then came the enemy. Even before the final ceremony Putin was entombed in his Moscow bunker, bullying a client state of the old Soviet empire to do his bidding. One minute he was embracing his adored skating champion, Yulia Lipnitskaya, the next he was screaming down the phone at Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych to suppress the Kiev uprising by whatever means it took, however murderous. The screaming failed. The Sochi Games had been designed, indeed located, to show how Russia's Caucasian borders had been cowed into submission. Neighbouring Georgia and Chechnya were silent.

Fanatical security ensured there was no repeat of December's Volgograd bombs to spoil the fun. Yet before Putin had finished making this point to his south, his western border erupted. It must have crossed his mind that the 40,000-strong army positioned at Sochi might have been bettered deployed a thousand miles to the west in Ukraine.

How Putin plays this crisis will decide his fate as sophisticated statesman rather than kleptomaniacal bully. He prepared the ground for Sochi with some deft diplomacy in Iran and Syria. He was revelling in the west's ham-fisted debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that was arm's-length politics.

Ukraine is Putin's backyard, where at least a third of a nation looks to him for a lead. He can neither desert them nor ignore the upsurge of Ukrainian nationalism in Kiev. The raw language of the crowd has proved more potent than all Sochi's conservative values. No slaloms, somersaults and double axels will guide him out of this one.

[Feb 24, 2014] Putin's toy (Polish Newsweek)

marknesop :

February 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Oh, that's just based on the Ukrainian Blazing-Tire-Throw, which is being considered for inclusion in the Korean Olympics lineup.

[Feb 23, 2014] Sochi 2014: For all the nagging concerns the legacy will be the thrills by Owen Gibson

Another Guardian presstitude busily performing what was ordered by the master...
The Guardian

The flatpack Olympics lacked soul and cost a fortune, but it's the sporting achievement that will linger in the memory

Arriving at the stark Omega 18 media hotel compound at 3am the day before the opening ceremony to be greeted by panicked staff furiously fitting out rooms, it was hard to believe these were the most expensive Games in history.

The buildup to the Sochi Olympics, described by critics as a $51bn monument to one man's ego, had been dominated by security concerns, human rights protests, doping fears and weather worries. In other words, just like any other modern Games but – like the garish uniforms sported by the unfailingly polite volunteers – ramped up to hideously loud levels. Like Spinal Tap, Vladimir Putin had gone "one louder" in every respect.

That huge bill was alleged to have been inflated by up to a third by kickbacks and bribes (denied by Putin). Worse, word got out that cute stray dogs wandering the streets of Sochi were to be culled. That fed a frenzy around the opening days, with fears of toothpaste bombs and protests over Putin's anti-gay laws heavy in the air in the cavernous Tower of Babel that constitutes the main press centre. By the end of the fortnight, as in London, life-size versions of the Games mascots were gambolling around the Sochi media centre with the same reporters as organisers claimed victory.

Operationally, you could not fault them (media hotels aside). The buses ran on time. The venues, shimmering like alien spacecraft that had crash-landed in a concrete car park, looked stunning – especially at night. Inside, fears that the atmosphere would be flat and stands empty in this remote sub-tropical corner of Russia by the Black Sea, proved unfounded.

It was sometimes hard to tell who exactly was filling the seats, but in moments such Russia's relay victory in the 5,000m speed skating or Adelina Sotnikova's controversial triumph in the figure skating, they raised the roof. And, as in London, there was also an appreciation for sporting moments that went beyond pure patriotism.

The Russian families munching hot dogs and enjoying the kamikaze snowboarding cross action in the sun were part of just the sort of national rebranding exercise Putin had in mind when he conceived his madcap plan to transform his favourite summer resort into a year-round tourist destination. On the incongruously balmy Olympic Park, organisers also made a game attempt to create an atmosphere, despite the fact that the turf and trees didn't look like they'd last much beyond March.

And yet. This was the ultimate flatpack Olympics, the first time a country had built not only an Olympic Park but a city to host it in. As a result, for all the friendliness of the volunteers, it lacked soul. Anyone entering the "ring of steel" had to wear a visible "spectator pass" or their official accreditation. It was hard to get around except by official bus. Inside the ring, security was never overbearing or aggressive but was omnipresent.

It was like being trapped in the Truman Show, the Jim Carrey film in which everyone is perfectly pleasant but the central character slowly realises he is living in an artificial construct with no way out.

Nor was it possible to wander the Park and its surrounds without wondering what on earth it was all going to be used for afterwards. Mile after mile of newly built, haphazardly arranged hotels, apartments and restaurants. An unopened funfair with unfinished rollercoasters that dominates the skyline. A huge new port for cruise ships. An ersatz but accurate approximation of an Alpine skiing resort, built from scratch. Enormous gleaming train stations.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the amenable Sochi 2014 chief executive tasked with delivering Putin's dream over a 10-year period, promises "no white elephants" and insists Sochi will become a magnet for conference guests and tourists. The F1 circus will come later this year, the G8 will meet in Sochi, the national football team will train here and 2018 World Cup matches will be staged here. Whether that is enough is one question. Whether Putin even cares is another.

Amid the stunning sporting action nagging concerns kept pricking the Olympic bubble from beyond the ring of steel. Some were Sochi-specific: Cossack guards whipping the protest punk band Pussy Riot or a tweet from Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff: "Yesterday I met and had lunch with a gay Russian. The things he has been through are so heartbreaking. Things must change here." Human rights groups called on the IOC to change their bidding criteria to hold organising countries to minimum standards. They should.

Other concerns were common to every Games: the incongruity of watching stellar sporting feats where the only food and drink on offer was McDonalds or Coca Cola; the command and control that forbade Norwegian cross-country skiers from wearing black armbands in support of a recently deceased relative, the uniformity from Games to Games and the needless pomposity.

Yet, as ever, it is the glorious stories of soaring human triumph and crushing disappointment that will be remembered. The slopestyle snowboarders displaying perfect white teeth beneath azure skies on brilliant snow. The crowd's passion in the Bolshoy ice hockey arena or the Iceberg Skating Palace. The camaraderie and honest endeavour of the athletes.

With a day to go there had been no serious security incidents. Sporting records had been set and memories made. And all that is why, for all the discomfort it causes, the likes of Putin will carry on queuing up to host major sporting events.

Ivan Borisov

Typical Guardian... Instead of giving us some credit and celebrate such a fantastic event together, it had to come to Putin that, Putin this... to paint another grim picture.

Ozma46 Ivan Borisov

"Typical Guardian... Instead of giving us some credit and celebrate such a fantastic event together, it had to come to Putin that, Putin this... to paint another grim picture."

Allow me to say I think Russia did a fantastic job and Sochi has every chance of becoming a major year round resort, congratulations to everyone involved!!!

fuggo

I have only watched these olympics on the NBC live stream but it seems to me that there was much in the way of spectators to commend them. The events shown live always seemed to have enthusiasm etc. from all sides. Enjoyed them immensely - just like the 2012 olympics. What will be their legacy? - not in a position to say but I hope things work out well.

oommph fuggo

Again, the warm weather may well have helped.

A vast different from attending in zero (or lower) and being freezing cold and wrapped in fixe layers for a lot of the time.

oommph

On the incongruously balmy Olympic Park,

In my opinion, the warmer weather was a great asset. It eliminated the random results that a lot of Winter Games have been afflicted with which result in dominant names missing out while lesser known ones get gold (sometimes to their disadvantage, if lacking credibility).

If you look down the list of alpine, nordic and biathlon, most of the successful names of ther last cycle (or two) got their gold(s) here: Cologna, Bjoergen, Kowalczyk, Domracheva, Svendsen, Fourcade, Bjoerndalen, Frenzel, Ligety, Maze, Riesch, Shiffen, Matt and assorted relayers.

There were very few "flukes" or "surprises". That probably also means the organisers got the courses right too.

arcog

I thought they were great games... most events seem full of people attending and supporting Russian athletes.

Courses were spectacular and the sport won...

then again Olympics are sport... and as such should be followed.

Obviously putin is a tyrant but the Olympics aren't ours (UK or US etc.) so it is only fair that they get staged around the World

Victor999 VladimirM

Such grudging praise....Western media is SO disappointed that the games were not interrupted by terrorists or lack of crowds or snow....they just can't fully accept that things went quite well for an event of this size and scope.

To me the article just shows how bitter and small-minded the media can be, even in the face of success.

Well done, Russia! And congratulations on a marvellous success!!

Euphobia1

Bravo Russia. I've loved every minute. Worth every ruble. Can't wait for the next.

PakDooIk66

I notice the Guardian have persisted with their rainbow coloured 'G' on the front page banner throughout the games. Still clutching at the hope that that LGBT athletes would somehow be strung up and tarred during the games or something.

Some countries and societies are different. Get over it.

fripouille

I'm very pleased for all the athletes and other participants who make the Games possible and it's nice to see that most of the comments here so far are positive.

But that said, these have been rather sad Games for me in that this is the first ever time that I have not followed an Olympics. I haven't read any articles or watched anything on TV either.

It's difficult for me to put my finger on any specific reason for this but my sentiment can be summed up by the fact that the build up to these Games was characterised by negativity. The gay issue and Russian homophobia were all over the press, reams of print about the exorbitant cost appeared, complaints that they should have been held in 'Putin's Russia' and other negative aspects finally meant that when they began my heart just wasn't in it any more.

I was glad that they had begun for sports lovers and that there was less polemical journalism and I am also pleased that up till now there have been no serious incidents, but these Games have just passed me by I'm afraid.

gruniadreader666

Aren't all winter Olympics a bit soulless.

They are not many interesting cites close to big mountain ranges and by default they tend to happen when it a bit too cold for a big outdoor party.

peneerg

Surely the sporting achievements are what its all about...is it not????? ;-)

gruniadreader666 peneerg

No the idea its about sporting achievement is laughable, no sport is.

Sport is entertainment that why people who win with a bit of style will always be more popular and famous than those who just win and boring sports are in general less prestigious than those that are more exciting or tense.

Winning the football world cup is considered a great achievement celebrated nationally, winning the arm wrestling world cup may get you five minutes on the one show at best.

blackbroom

As a result, for all the friendliness of the volunteers, it lacked soul. Anyone entering the "ring of steel" had to wear a visible "spectator pass" or their official accreditation. It was hard to get around except by official bus. Inside the ring, security was never overbearing or aggressive but was omnipresent.

Oh, FFS. I'm sure much could be said of the London 2012 Olympics or indeed any post-Munich Olympics. For good reason.

There are numerous reasons to criticise Putin and his government of Russia, but articles like this seem to be picking entirely the wrong ones. And all the xenophobic sneering that's gone on about the toilet arrangements - trying to paint Russia as a backward little tinpot state that can't compete with the superior toilet technology of the civilised West just makes you look like an arrogant, prejudiced arse, not them.

Why can't we just admit that there was little to criticise about the Olympics at Sochi? That doesn't mean that there isn't huge amounts to criticise about Russia's attitude to human rights, but trying to conflate the two jdoesn't help the argument.

northsylvania

This is the first time I have noticed the Brits descend to the level of Olympic coverage that has always been SOP for American media: overhyping infrastructure problems, and passive aggressive commentary about many of the contestants.

Russia is not paradise, run by dodgy leadership supporting an even dodgier power structure, but China isn't either and, come to think of it, shouldn't America and the UK's media be kinder about the motes in other people's eyes while they're at it?

[Feb 19, 2014] Russia's anti-gay law is wrong – but so is some of the criticism from the west by Marc Bennetts

An interesting question is here where we should stop. If we assume the right of gays to be "absolutely" equal to heterosexual couples, why pedophilia is a crime, why incest is a crime? And what about bestiality? Also polygamy looks pretty normal, is not it ? And by the way, aren't catholic priests recently cought in sexual scandals simultaneously gay and pedophiles?
February 05, 2014 | theguardian.com | Jump to comments (600) Sochi gay rights protesters may have noble intentions, but they are playing into Putin's hands

Amid the furore, it's easy to overlook some simple facts. Homosexuality in Russia – unlike more than 40 countries in the Commonwealth and 70 worldwide – is not illegal. To date, over six months since the law came into force, fewer than a dozen people have been fined for "gay propaganda". Not a single person has been jailed. Russian police do not have powers to detain people they suspect of simply being gay or lesbian, as a New York Times leader erroneously stated last year. If this were so, then how do we explain the fact that gay clubs are able to advertise and operate in Moscow and other big cities?

And, no, gay people are not, as Fry claims, being beaten to death "while police stand idly by". If this were the case, would police in Volgograd have arrested and charged three men with murder last year over what investigators called a homophobic hate crime? Would the men who carried out a brutal homophobic killing in the east of Russia this month have been sent to penal colonies? Would the thug who attacked a gay rights activist for unfurling a rainbow flag during an Olympic torch relay in central Russia have been sentenced to corrective labour? The authorities should and must be far more vigilant in punishing perpetrators of hate crimes, but these are hardly the hallmarks of a campaign of state-sponsored terror.

If Putin is indeed waging war on Russia's LGBT community, then why has he not followed the example of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, which has just introduced a new law that stipulates jail sentences of up to 14 years for gay people? Or India, the world's largest democracy, where the supreme court recently reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex? If he wants to get really harsh, of course, Putin could look to Saudi Arabia, whose habit of executing homosexuals has done little to break up what Barack Obama has called the "long history of friendship" between Washington and Riyadh. This, of course, is the same Obama who has "no patience" for Russia's gay propaganda law.

UralMan

Oh, dear. This is one of the cruellest articles on these pages that I've seen. Did you consider what effect it would have on people here? How can you tell the thoroughly brainwashed by propaganda that gays in Russia are not only not sent to Gulag but in vast majority of cases not even paid any unusual attention to, that the endless TV programs are full of openly gay entertainers, that gay bars are thriving in practically every Russian city (Sochi, obviously, not excluding), that walking through many large public gathering places some of the flyers you'd have shown into your hands by ads distributors are likely to be gay related.

Whatever next? An article that Sochi is actually not one big construction place, and on 97% consist of beautifully made building and surroundings? That the foreign correspondents there went out of their way scouting around the city trying to find a backyard with unfinished business, that they demanded the hotel managers to show them those "Russian" double toilets – "we have the editor order, we must produce the photo of it for our readers, find what hotel had that bloody room with that practical joke and take us there, we'll write that it is the norm in Russia".

You, Sir, with your article are either very brave or very foolish. If I were a Western correspondent I'd stick to the rules of the games and keep on building the iron curtain of disinformation about Russia. It's quite easy actually; one doesn't even have to lie. All you need to do is to be very selective with your facts and taking one true episode exaggerate it and state that it is the prevailing system.

dangor

I agree with Mr. Bennettes on the issue of measured criticism. The Western coverage is often exaggerated and hysterical. The laws in Russia are nowhere as harsh as in many other countries. That being said, Russia is moving fast in the direction of diminishing tolerance and not only vis-a-vis gay issues. This new anti-gay legislation is not so much the problem as a symptom of the problem. The real problem is a sharp conservative turn in the minds of the citizens. The governmental propaganda and public atmosphere feed themselves in an spiralling spree of nationalism, bigotry and paranoia. Here it is important to realise that the Western negative discourse is given much spotlight in the Russian media and it enforces the alienation of the Russian people from the West and the ideas traditionally associated with it. People criticising Russia should keep that in mind.

TantPis

I don't really understand the point of this article.

While I get that, yes, there has been some hyperbole flung around on the subject, ultimately the Russian government, whilst not explicitly criminlising homosexuality, has given license to homophobes to abuse and ostracise gay people.

Saying that Russia's laws aren't as draconian as those in force in Nigeria or India is facile. That may be true to some extent, but any law which criminlises people for no good reason other than pure intolerance is wrong and cannot (and should not) be defended.

On another note, it appears that the US no longer regards itself as having an especially cordial relationship with Saudi Arabia, certainly not since the recent perceived inaction in respect of the violence in Syria and the lifting of sanctions etc in Iran.

Finally, money isn't currently being ploughed into Nigeria or India, nor Uganda nor any of the other countries where anti-gay laws are particularly harsh. Scores of international countries are pouring money into Russia in sponsorship etc, of the Russian Winter Olypmics which smacks of tacit complicity and I think that that is what many of us (including me) find hard to swallow.

russianpuck TantPis

gday TantPis

money isn't currently being ploughed into Nigeria or India, nor Uganda nor any of the other countries where anti-gay laws

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is going to be held in Dubai.

NASA Releases Stunning Pictures From Space Of The Sochi Winter Olympics [PHOTOS]

By Christopher Harress
on February 14 2014 ibtimes.com

From Moscow Olympics in 1980 to Sochi By Jeffrey D. Sachs

2014-02-19 | koreaherald.com

NEW YORK ― The Winter Olympics in Sochi are the first to be hosted by Russia since the Cold War-era Moscow Summer Games in 1980. Obviously, much has changed politically in the interim. But today's games also create an opportune moment to look back at Russia's recent economic history ― and to peer forward as well.

Many people who remember the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and its tumultuous aftermath believe that Russia's economy today must be impoverished and unstable ― and far behind booming China. Wrong. According to the International Monetary Fund, Russia's per capita income in 2013, measured in terms of purchasing power parity, is roughly $18,600, nearly double China's per capita income of around $10,000. And, according to World Bank data, extreme poverty is close to zero, compared to 11.8 percent in China in 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available).

Yes, Russia's economy has been buoyed recently not only by sound macroeconomic policies, but also by high world oil and gas prices. In fact, the collapse of world oil prices after 1985 contributed to the severe economic crisis in the Soviet Union and Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is an important point, given that the economic reforms implemented by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin thus confronted powerful headwinds.

For two years (1992-1993), I was a macroeconomic adviser to Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, trying to help Russia to end the high inflation and extreme shortages that characterized the last years of the Soviet era, and to begin Russia's transition to a market economy. I recommended a macroeconomic stabilization strategy that had been highly successful in nearby Poland, and that called for timely financial assistance from the United States, Europe, and the IMF, just as Poland had received.

Unfortunately, the West did not provide the needed financial assistance, contrary to my (and many other people's) recommendations, and the Russian economic and financial calamity was more severe as a result. At the time, I attributed Western inaction to incompetence on the part of the U.S. government and the IMF. Looking back, it is clear that there was also a deliberate strategy by U.S. neoconservatives, such as then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, to weaken the new Russian state. The U.S. government was also complicit during the mid-1990s in the plundering of Russian state-owned property, including oil assets that were unscrupulously privatized.

The good news is that Russia was able to bounce back from those terrible years, no thanks to the West or the U.S. government. Russia's market economy, albeit marred by corruption, took root. After several years of political infighting and unnecessary delay, macroeconomic stabilization was achieved, and Russia's economic growth was restored, especially as world oil and gas prices began to rise. From 2001 to 2013, Russia's GDP grew at a robust 4.4 percent average annual rate.

Russia achieved a good measure of financial stability as well. The IMF puts Russia's inflation rate at 6.9 percent in 2013, with unemployment at 5.5 percent, while the budget deficit was just 0.3 percent of GDP. Moreover, Russia's foreign-exchange reserves stand at a healthy $500 billion.

But Russia could achieve still greater success by basing its economy on two growth engines rather than one. Oil and gas will continue to provide a strong lift to Russia for years to come, especially as China becomes a major customer. Yet Russia also has vast and still under-developed potential in many global high-tech industries.

During the Soviet era, Russia produced a vast array of technology-based industrial products, from airplanes to computers to sophisticated machine goods. Unlike Chinese industry, Russia's manufacturing branches were almost completely cut off from world markets, both by the Cold War and by Soviet planning. When post-Soviet Russia opened itself to trade, its industrial enterprises lagged far behind cutting-edge technologies, especially in the dynamic information and communications technology sector.

Many industries collapsed, owing to neglect, lack of international partners, and financial chaos. Those that survived did so only barely, with greatly reduced output going mainly to the ex-Soviet market.

Russia has the know-how, skilled engineering, and natural-resource base to become a global competitor in a range of major high-tech industries, including nuclear energy, commercial aviation, commercial space technology (including satellites and GPS), ICT hardware and software, electric vehicles, high-speed rail, petrochemicals, and heavy equipment for the mining and hydrocarbon sectors. All of these industries will benefit from the potential for enormous demand growth in large markets, such as China, Africa, and India.

But achieving long-term growth led by high-tech industries requires a business environment that encourages private-sector investment, including openness to foreign players. Moreover, the social and political environment must be conducive to a high-tech labor force, providing an attractive quality of life, ensuring civil liberties, and supporting entrepreneurship and creativity. Finally, economic policies must promote technological advances and global technical cooperation in promising sectors.

It is notable that Russia recently completed an agreement to finance a nuclear power plant in Hungary, and looks likely to do the same in Turkey. The demand for nuclear energy will grow as part of the global effort to decarbonize the world energy system. Russia's new reactors seem to be safe and competitive with those produced elsewhere. Similarly, we might see new Russian-built civilian aircraft entering the global market in partnership with international firms, especially those that can work with Russian companies on advanced ICT avionics.

Back in 1991, many thought that Russia could not end high inflation, adopt a market economy, or compete effectively in world markets. Two decades later, Russia has proved the skeptics wrong. Yes, Russia remains too dependent on oil and gas, and should move further on transparency, openness, and competition in business and governance. Yet the trend is positive: Russia has become a stable, high-income market economy, with strong prospects for decades of rapid GDP growth and high-tech progress if it pursues a sensible economic strategy in the coming years.

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs is professor of sustainable development, professor of health policy and management, and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general on the Millennium Development Goals. ― Ed.

(Project Syndicate)

http://www.knoxviews.com/node/21538

CE Petro on Sat, 2014/02/08

Some other company needs to step up

Let me start off saying, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the winter Olympics. The winter sports are far more engaging (to me). While I agree there are human rights issues, stray dog killing issues, and a whole host of other political issues, I don't watch the winter Olympic games for political reasons.

Did you know that NBC edited out part of IOC President's speech that the games are about UNITY and not POLITICS? Guess that was on purpose since the NBC bobble-heads kept bringing politics into their coverage.

That said, NBC's coverage of the opening ceremonies was horrible. The music was so loud that you could not hear what the announcers were saying. Then, during the musical parts of the program, trying to watch the incredible sets and the actual program, the stupid announcers would not STFU! Seriously, it was like sitting in the theater and the idiot behind you kept talking through the show.

NBC's Facebook page is loaded with the same complaints.

Oh, and according to other complaints on NBC's FB page, if you aren't a cable subscriber you can't stream the games online. Not sure about that, so I'm wondering if that's true?

Look, I understand NBC wanting to optimize viewership for the opening ceremonies, and wait until prime time, but, the Opening ceremonies should have been broadcast in real time. Only in America did viewers have to wait to see the opening ceremonies.

[Feb 19, 2014] Sochi makes a mess of the Olympics

Bagdad Judy in action. "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." ~Noam Chomsky~
Feb. 05, 2014 | foxnews.com

Judy Miller on alarming conditions in Sochi, from unfinished hotel rooms to security concerns

Time for Sochi bashing to end, let the real Winter Olympics begin

Peter Schmidt

Good article. BBC's Newshour was so disgusting to hear, you could actually sense the hatred through the voice of the hosts, but when it was time to gloss over Victoria Nuland phone fiasco and the US arming of rebels in Syria (new to tanks to target government held areas in Damascus; funny how rebels only target government areas, while the 'regime' always targets civilians according to the tired sounding BBC propaganda) I could sense fake laughing and joking.
This morning, again on the BBC's World Have Your Say, it was suggested that the 51 billion would have been better spent on hospitals treating children with cancer. Maybe, but the trillions spent by the US on foreign wars and installing puppet governments would also have been better spent on Americans who were evicted from houses or 70% of its population who cannot afford dental treatment and are forced to extract their own teeth.

Thomas

There is no such thing as news reporting in western countries. There are only editorials, broadly corralled into pushing the same line by a decentralised culture of self-censorship and an indoctrination that independence and self-identity come through publishing opinions that are acceptable to the power-holders in our society (and, in some sense at least, that is correct; an overseen independence is better than enforced ostracism).

That Russia, its laws, and its people are imperfect is no secret. It was said to us by both Napoleon and Hitler, and is told to us by many people today. And it is true that the Russians are not perfect. Doubtlessly, there is some scaffolding that has remained after a breakneck construction period, some sub-sub-contractors have placed two toilets next to each other. It is all true, and they can do better.

But let's not engage in a frenzy with a dehumanising undertone towards the Russian people, their chosen representatives, and their state. For those of us who think, and think for ourselves, we should say it's un-Australian.

[Feb 19, 2014] While she did not meant it, Victoria Nuland's remark is fully applicable to FT coverage of Sochi Olympics

Classic British hypocrisy. If this is brainwashing under the mask of coverage of the event, then what is.
  1. February 14, 2014 Russia's surly waiters and gruff hoteliers train to smile at Sochi

    Last autumn Sergio Vai, an affable Italian hotelier, descended on Sochi on a mission. A 43-year-old with two-plus decades'...

  2. February 12, 2014 Jailing of Sochi environmental activist raises fear of crackdown

    A Russian court has sentenced one of Sochi's most prominent environmental activists to three years in prison for spray...

  3. February 11, 2014 Sochi Olympics is a cyber war zone, experts warn

    Foreign visitors to the Winter Olympics in Sochi are unknowingly wading into a cyber battlefield, the US government and...

  4. February 10, 2014 Sochi games will do little to normalise ties with the west

    The sighs of relief from Russian officials are almost audible as the foreign media turn to stories about proud locals and...

  5. February 9, 2014 Russia seeks to replicate Beijing's success story

    When foreign observers were still gloating over a glitch in the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the Russian hosts...

  6. February 7, 2014 Sochi 2014: Russian icons aid Putin's opening ceremony rebuke

    No business like snow business at Sochi Conjuring up the ghosts of Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky and Peter the Great, Vladimir Putin...

  7. February 7, 2014 Sochi 2014: Russia's capitalists seek Soviet style triumph

    Sochi spectacle opens In 2009, a year before the Vancouver Olympics, the oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov set himself a daunting...

  8. February 6, 2014 Sochi 2014: Russia declares Olympics victory despite glitches

    With only hours to go until the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia declared victory – whatever the...

  9. February 6, 2014 Putin gambles all on creation myth behind Sochi

    Vladimir Putin rarely speaks in the first person. But for the Olympic Winter Games, he has abandoned the dignified 'we'...

  10. February 4, 2014 Russia: After the party

    Oleg Shklyaruk strokes the sleeve of his azure uniform with pride as he describes how he gave up his job at an insurance...

  11. February 3, 2014 Olympic homes aim to raise rental standards

    Former athletes' accommodation at London's Olympic Village is being rented out on long-term tenancies with no fees or estate...

  12. January 31, 2014 Sochi's gay clubs openly prepare for Olympic Games visitors

    In the Black Sea town of Sochi, workers are putting the finishing touches on Russia's $51bn Olympic extravaganza with a...

  13. January 31, 2014 The maths behind Olympic projects

    The Sochi Winter Olympic Games will begin next week. Billed as the most expensive Olympics project in history the Sochi...

  14. January 31, 2014 Observations from Sochi

    It was already nightfall when I met Alla Nikolaichik, 76 years old and a tightly coiled bundle of anger. She was standing...

  15. January 30, 2014 Russia tightens security at 'fortress Sochi' to protect Olympics

    Almost every day, Sochi's tens of thousands of law enforcement officers receive another name with an accompanying...

  16. January 29, 2014 An Olympic sprint for the finish line

    "Russians are slow to saddle the horse," Otto von Bismarck once remarked. "But they drive fast." One hundred-plus years, two...

  17. January 26, 2014 Russia makes Olympic dash to ready Sochi games in time

    Seven years ago, Vladimir Putin made a meteorological promise to the International Olympic Committee that a tsar would have...

  18. January 20, 2014 Militant group claims responsibility for Volgograd attack

    An Islamic militant group in the North Caucasus has claimed responsibility for the deadly bombings in the southern Russian...

  19. January 17, 2014 Russia bomb upsets Putin's Olympic security campaign

    A bomb went off in a central Makhachkala restaurant in Russia's restive North Caucasus on Friday, hours after President...

  20. January 13, 2014 Sochi Olympics a risky bet for advertisers

    Plagued by terrorism fears, controversy over gay rights and broader political turmoil, the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi...

  21. December 30, 2013 Winter Olympics countdown tinged with fear after Volgograd blasts

    All over Russia, clocks in public places show there are only 38 days to go until the start of the Winter Olympic Games in...

  22. December 27, 2013 Why the west has not boycotted the Sochi Olympics

    With the approach of the Winter Olympics, to be held in February around the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, you can see...

  23. December 19, 2013 Sochi games spur Putin to mend reputation

    The Russia Mikhail Khodorkovsky will find on his release from prison – assuming it happens – is much changed from when he...

  24. December 18, 2013 US to send gay delegates to Sochi Olympic Games

    The US is joining France and Germany in not sending its president to the Sochi Winter Olympics and, in a pointed riposte to...

  25. December 8, 2013 German president to boycott Sochi Olympics over human rights

    The German president has declined to travel to Russia for the Winter Olympics in a move being interpreted as a protest...

[Feb 19, 2014] Sochi Olympics Official We Realized Hotel Problems 'Too Late' by Matthew Futterman & Gregory L. White

Good example of how you can pain in dirt any effort to built a world class facilities by two anti-Sochi propagandists from Rupert Murdoch's rag. They forgot to mention that Krasnaya Polyana now was called the best ski resort of Europe. The choice was carried out in the Austrian Kitsbyuele by estimates of tourist operators and journalists, reported Visa Bulletin. From 80 objects from the initial list twenty resorts in which their complex infrastructure of accommodation was estimated, got to "short list" of sports and rest - hotels, quality of mountain descents and other indicators.
Together with Krasnaya Polyana the list of the best ski resorts included the Austrian Kitzbuhel, Val Thorens in France, the German Garmish-Partenkirkhen, Finnish Ruka and the Italian Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Feb 17, 2014 | WSJ.com

Killy, who won three Olympic gold medals skiing for France, said that despite making 40 trips to Sochi in the seven years leading up to the Games, he didn't understand the depth of the problem until last fall.

"We realized it too late," said Killy. Focused on getting the sports venues done, he added, private developers and oligarchs devoted less attention to hotel projects.

"All the alarms went up in September," Killy said. "I made a special trip. I said, 'What do we need to do?' There is no way to organize a Games if you cannot accommodate people."

Killy said he declared a "red alert," which required expanding a workforce that he said ultimately totaled 100,000 people working around the clock, seven days a week. The schedule, Killy said, cost organizers what was likely millions of dollars in additional pay.

Killy said a key to addressing problems was his access to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who IOC officials say provided unprecedented access for a head of state.

"We always had the capacity to go to the top man," said Killy, who met Putin over dinner in Guatemala City in 2007. "When you become friends with this guy and ask for something and you see it within two hours, that's very impressive."

Russia landed the Games after an appearance by Putin at the IOC meetings in Guatemala City. The decision represented the IOC's biggest gamble in modern times, according to Michael Payne, the former director of marketing for the IOC. The organization is making a similar bet on the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Killy said these risks are necessary because the IOC has an obligation to spread its values of fair play and friendship through sports to the developing world, and to create opportunities for sports participation through the construction of world-class venues. Russia, he said, was a winter-sports nation but had little sports infrastructure.

"That is sad," he said.

Going into the project, Killy-the IOC's chief coordinator for the 2006 Turin Games-knew little about this city where people can swim in the sea and ski the nearby mountains on the same day. He felt good about the project because Russia had good people working on it: "foreign-educated, people from Harvard, Stanford, KGB."

Two months after the vote, Killy packed warm clothes and a heavy coat for a trip to Sochi but wound up sweating heavily throughout a news conference. At the time, the area in Adler where the Olympic Park now stands was a swamp. There was no ski resort and little in the way of facilities in the Caucasus Mountains in Rosa Khutor.

Sochi needed to build 22,000 hotel rooms, a new highway 30 miles into the mountains and a train line that would run beside it. The bill would eventually rise to more than $50 billion, even though organizers altered plans as construction was under way and saved money, such as deciding against building a second train line to the mountains.

By last summer the sports facilities were nearly complete and organizers had held more than 70 test events. Then word spread that numerous hotel projects were way behind schedule. Ultimately, hundreds of hotel rooms weren't complete by the start of the Games earlier this month, though, as Killy pointed out, "nobody slept outside."

Some of the most severe problems were with hotels for media and staff near the Olympic Park that are to be converted into apartments after the Games. The project was run by the regional government and officials said it took nearly round-the-clock work in December and January to get them close to ready. Final work, such as installing bathroom fixtures, continued even after guests moved in.

[Feb 17, 2014] At Sochi Olympics, finding risk is snow problem By Sally Jenkins

February 16, 2014 | washingtonpost.com

The snow around here looks like soup, a creamy bisque that seems harmless enough until the athletes plunge into it and find the hard crags of the Caucasus beneath, which is when the medics race out. The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails - or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher.

After Russian skicross racer Maria Komissarova underwent six hours of surgery to repair the broken spine she suffered tumbling in the slosh of Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, President Vladimir Putin was kind enough to visit her. She should have told him, "Talk to my personal-injury lawyer." This was the wrong place for a Winter Olympics for all kinds of human rights reasons. It may also have been a dangerously idiotic one for the competitors based on the quality of snow.

Sochi's warm Black Sea air makes this an undeniably scenic and unusual venue, but it has added a slippery caprice to events that are already plenty hazardous, such as skicross racing. Or snowboard cross, in which American Jackie Hernandez was knocked unconscious Sunday morning after an unnervingly nasty wipeout during a seeding run and was taken away in a sled with a hand over her eyes.

Then pre-race favorite Lindsey Jacobellis wiped out in the semifinals despite a lead when she lost her balance off a jump into the muck. "It was kind of like landing in mashed potatoes," she said.

The combination of monstrously large jumps and bad snow put fear in the heart of the competitors. American Faye Gulini, who finished in fourth place, said, "On this course, it kind of seemed like just staying on your feet was important."

ashgupta

Please note that the today's quota for complaints about the Sochi Olympics has already been met. In future, please postpone publishing your article to a future date, when Washington Post is finding it difficult to meet its quota. Please check with your editor for the daily quota status.

- Administrator.

DK_NoVa

WaPo seems heavily invested in discrediting these Olympics. Wonder what their motivation is?

DrivebyPoster

more proof that washingtonpost write sally jenkins is a FRAUD is here.. she is now claiming that the sochi olympics were a risk of BAD SNOW CONDITIONS.. she doesn't mention her earlier posts where she NEVER mentioned the snow.. but the "horrendous living conditions in russia.. the uncompleted olympic venues.. the corruption of the olympics.. the security which was bound to have terrorists attacks every 4 minutes..... " yet, here are her own words.... wow. she probably shouldn't be writing for a national media... i sure as heck wouldn't want her as my employee.....

------------------------

"In Sochi, hotel complaints fall into chasm between global spectacle and under-served population"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/in-s...

or;

-------------------------------------

"IOC jeopardized safety of athletes and fans in awarding Games to Putin's Russia"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/soch...

---------------------------------------------------------------

and now.. with the united states having handed their collective BUTTS to them in a sling.... sally jenkins now wrong on the contstruction flaws... the security.... the corruption..... must now blame something else.

skeptic11

Its an outrage that couples figure skating is only male-female.

Male-male couples and female-female couples should be allowed to compete --

Equal and fair couples figure skating is one of the biggest issues we face today !

Stuge

Speaking of injuring Olympic athletes, did anyone notice the NBC "sports" "journalist" interview with Bode Miller after the Super G? She interviewed like a school of piranhas, intent on dragging out every sad, unhappy thing that has ever happened to him and kept at it until he could no longer continue. This subhuman behavior should be cause to terminate NBCs Olympic contract and to suspend their FCC license. The "journalist" should be burnt at the stake.

[Feb 15, 2014] The great Games

Feb 15, 2014 | RT CrossTalk

hope:

Sochi "reporting" ; in the West is part of the vicious psychological warfare waged against Russia that escalated as Putin announced his candidacy for President. You could see it all over the "free press" in the US. Even before he took office, the West was busy undermining him and supporting the fifth column in Russia.

Vlad is a formidable opponent, who has challenged western hegemony over his country. People around the world know Great Satan's destructive game plan and are rooting for Putin to stop the juggernaut of the evil empire.

[Feb 15, 2014] Allegations of Russia are somewhat correct, but if the games were in the U.S. ... by

ntine proportions costing the country over $50 billion, an emanation of Putin's superpower ambitions as well as sick , shameful turning a blind eye to discrimination against gays and lesbians in Russia. And so on and so forth.

All these allegations are somewhat correct, but their constant repetition - as well as the awareness that they came somewhat late create in many people minds an effect that Goethe called "the eternal spirit of dissent". And what if the Winter Games in 2014 were held not in Sochi, but, say, in Aspen, Colorado ? - whispers that mischievous spiri . What in thicase today perma-malcontents will be talking about ?

If they indeed are fighting for the purity of the Olympic idea, they probably would say something like that ...

So, as you can see, running the Olympic Games in Aspen also generate a lot of controversy ... Of course, only if America and Russia are treated the same in a cold, dispassinate way, ignoring our own n sympathies or prejudices .

Well, but that's how we all should behave after all, is not it ?

[Feb 14, 2014] Against Frogs & Russkies By Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher: "I think journalists today - elite journalists, at least - absorb the biases of the ruling class far more readily than they used to do."
February 13, 2014 | The American Conservative

Steve Sailer and one of his readers notice something interesting. Sailer's reader writes:

NOTA said…

The anti-Russia PR campaign in the prestige media reminds me a great deal of the anti-France campaign around and right after the Iraq invasion. Remember cheese eating surrender monkeys, freedom fries, and "rifle for sale, never fired, only dropped once?"

The pattern here appears to be that countries that resist our foreign policy adventures then become a kind of acceptable target in various bits of our media. I'm sure this isn't overtly coordinated anywhere, but media people are presumably pretty good at inferring which way the wind is blowing….

[Feb 14, 2014] What Did Sochi Get for $51 Billion? Highways, Railroads and a Lot of White Elephants by Alec Luhn

Another sample of incompetent, one sided coverage. This time from The Nation -- a left wing rag with penchant for gay rights...
February 11, 2014

But whether this development was worth the cost to taxpayers, let alone those residents who lost their homes, is another question. "In Russia it's not customary to count the money, the main thing is that there was development," another Sochi acquaintance told me.

Under that criteria, what did Sochi actually get for $51 billion?

No more traffic jams

A new beltway has diverted through-traffic around central Sochi and has taken the pressure off the main road running along the coast. As a result, driving the sixteen or so miles from downtown Sochi to the Adler district, where the Olympic stadiums are located, now takes about half an hour rather than two and a half hours.

Better access for the disabled

With their iced-over sidewalks, high curbs, ubiquitous walking underpasses, general lack of elevators and no concept of pedestrian right-of-way, Russian cities are not known for being particularly friendly to people with disabilities, and the strung-out resort town of Sochi was no exception. But with the arrival of the Olympics, the city has been peppered with wheelchair ramps, tactile paving for the blind and, to the utter bewilderment of anyone who has lived in Russia, audio signals at major crosswalks.

... ... ...

Awesome public transportation

Anybody who's read the classic Soviet novel Moscow to the End of the Line remembers the narrator's alcohol-fueled adventures on Russia's commuter trains, which even in Moscow remain dirty, smelly and overcrowded to this day. Not so in Sochi, where new city buses run often and commuter trains shuttle fans and locals ninety miles along the coast and through a huge new train station in the Adler district.

[Feb 13, 2014] Man Responsible For Olympic Ring Mishap Found Dead In Sochi - The Daily Currant

The Daily Currant - a satire site that does well to mask the fact that it is satire - has struck again ... It fooled this time even more people then usual including an army of Facebook lemmings.
olympic-rings-mishap-doctored-by-russian-tv

The man responsible for operating the Olympic Rings during last night's Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Russia was found dead today.

According to local reports the body of Boris Avdeyev was found his hotel room early this morning with multiple stab wounds....

Avdeyev was a technical specialist responsible for the Olympic Ring spectacle, which embarrassingly malfunctioned last night. Five animatronic snowflakes were supposed to transform into Olympic Rings. The first four functioned properly but the fifth snowflake failed to change shape.

Although his body was badly mangled and the wounds were consistent with a struggle, so far officials say they don't suspect foul play.

"Sure there were stab wounds and bruises all over the body," admits the lead investigator on the case. "But who knows what caused them. Maybe he tripped and fell on a set of knives. Right now we're ruling this an accidental death.

"It's terrible when accidents like this happen. But then again, maybe Mr. Avdeyev should have thought twice before he screwed up the Olympics. Accidents tend to happen to people who betray Russia."

Despite the government's story, fellow hotel guests reported hearing a struggle in Avdeyev's room around 3 a.m. local time.

[Feb 13, 2014] Putin Sochi Bill Seen Rising $7 Billion After Flame Dies - Bloomberg

"All the investments should pay off," Kozak said in an interview in Moscow in December.

In explaining his vision for Sochi, Putin said the city should vie for tourists with Turkey, which received a record 4 million Russian visitors in 2013, as a year-round travel destination. He said the sweat and money spent on the region's renewal should be enjoyed by ordinary Russians, as was the case during the Soviet era, not just the elite.

For that reason, Putin said he rejected a proposal that would have generated the most income in the shortest time -- legalized gambling. Putin outlawed casinos in all but four special zones scattered across the country in 2006, as part of an anti-vice campaign that included measures to curtail smoking and underage drinking. Sochi, the president told its residents, should remain a family resort.

"This is not for a small group of select citizens who can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in casinos," Putin said. "This is, frankly speaking, for the general public."

Zhivko Yakimov

Only a side note - the article somehow misses the fact that Sochi is already a very popular summer resort in Russia, a very posh one at that. The main issue is not that much that it is not popular, but that it is not popular as a winter resort.

Regarding the costs - well, I still think they are too high. I mean, it's not normal that Olympic games should cost as the annual GDP of a middle-sized country. If it is, then winter olympics should take place only in a handful of countries, where these costs would not be so noticeable, such as Russia.

Yes, everything looks fantastic so far, the venues are exemplary and the conditions - extraordinary. However, you shouldn't expect anything less after a $44 billion bill. The big question which Bloomberg tries to put forward is whether it is worth it. I think it isn't, because it sets unrealistic expectations for every other country to organise olympic games. Sure, Russians have a reason to be proud, but I think the money would have been better spent on education or healthcare, something that would build the nation's wealth, rather than on a single winter resort, which will need to draw only rich tourists in order not to make too many losses.

Mason Minell

Count on Bloomberg for the best in Russian gloom and doom reporting. Bloomberg will never report to you that Russia's GDP will still exceed Brazil's even with added debt from the Olympics. Of course, Bloomberg will not paint Brazil's Olympics nor its World Cup with the same objectivity. Bloomberg, how bout doing more feature stories on Russian Oligarch vultures that raped Russia, we'll give you a Gold medal for that. MSNBC the Silver and CNN the Bronze.

Oleg N

All these billions sound impressive until you compare how much the USA WASTES for corporate war profiteering in the sands if Iraq and Afghanistan, on building useless fighter planes suitable only for Cold War in the 1980's (no other strategic missions for them), and maintaining NSA activities (it's been created by Bush-the-Second right after 9-11 attack, with the starting ANNUAL budget of $70 billion)

yakov

Fed has spent 85 bln a month last year purchasing government debt and mortgage securities and still spending 65 bln a month. I think that 50 bln spent for Olympics and region development is far better investment than government paper...

Andrei Voicu > yakov

Only the Fed didn't really "spend" anything to buy the paper. It created the money out of thin air through an accounting entry: credit bank reserves.

Otherwise, Russians should spent as much as they wish on their olympics. It is not the US' business to whine about it.

[Feb 13, 2014] How international coverage missed the point of the Sochi opening ceremony by Mary Dejevsky

The Guardian

Beckow -> Bob_Helpful

US spent 2 trillion dollars in the last 12 years on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. UK a a few hundred billion. What was that? A "state funded" entertainment for bloody media? Or a bribe to rich arms manufacturers?

Sochi spent officially $15 billion on the Olympics. If you include absolutely everything (railroads, new freeways, new infrastructure, airports,...), $50 billion. What was a better investment? Dropping bombs or building a new subtropical resort region of southern Russia?

Or would you prefer that Russians spend their money on buying real estate and football clubs in UK? That is not "corruption"?

Bob_Helpful Beckow

Your funny little rant would work better if I had said that it was a worse investment than spending money on wars. The fact that America spends so much on warfare whilst simultaneously claiming it can't afford to provide basic free medical care to its citizens is bizarre.

What was a better investment? Dropping bombs or building a new subtropical resort region of southern Russia?

An even better investment would be investing in Russian schools and hospitals in my humble opinion. I would rather Russia spent money on helping the plight of the millions of poor people in its country rather than spending so extravagantly on a skiing festival.

Rialbynot -> Bob_Helpful

I suggest you look at a map of Russia.

It is has a very short Black Sea coastline, and it doesn't have many mountains (am thinking of the European part of Russia here).

Lots of Russians want to spend their holidays by the sea and/or ski in the winter.

Where should a country with a short coastline and few mountains with millions of would-be summer and winter tourists build hotels?

Tell me please!

(Admittedly, all of this is not such good news for the tourism business in Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria, where all the Russian summer tourists used to go, because there was no capacity in Sochi.)

Beckow -> Bob_Helpful

Well, context matters. I provided a context on what countries usually spend their money on. Is your view that until all educational and health needs are satisfied there should be no Olympics, no World Cups, no sport extravaganzas of any kind? Or are you just focused on Russia? If it is just Russia, than what your wrote was just a "rant".

When US built its interstate freeway system there was a lot of complaining about "roads to nowhere". Nowhere sometimes becomes "somewhere". Russia is taking a chance, we will not know for years whether those infrastructure investments in the Sochi region will pay off.

In any case, it seems on its face a better way to use society's resources than bombs or giving it to already wealthy bankers. When you citisise others, you need to be accurate and have some context.

Beckow

The Western coverage missed the point because it really, really, wanted to miss the point. As with so many things in the West petty geo-politics and social obsessions control what Westerners are allowed to see. And I use the word 'allowed' consciously - it is unfortunately a very scripted life that Western masses are fed over and over again.

Was there any mention of slavery or colonial genocides at London, Salt Lake, or Vancouver? No, I didn't think so. Did Bush show as the shock-and-awe as part of the opening ceremonies? There is a place for introspection and there is a place for ceremony, so this harping - and the Mary Dejevsky couldn't stay away from it - is absurd on its face.

What the coverage showed about today's Russia is that West is stuck in an immature, bad mannered tine warp. Traveling around the world looking for that one broken toilet, or the few unfinished rooms, or an angry lesbian, is that what the culture has descended to?

Apart from everything else is has backfired spectacularly: the Russia-haters have come out of it diminished and exposed as frauds. They will continue hating, they will continue their campaigns, but unless the mainstream media dumps them, they will be simply diminished with them.

Hatred and schadenfreude are not interesting. They are poisonous. The consequences are paid for by all. Including the struggling British businessmen who will simply lose out....Cameron knows that, that's why he has been so quiet.

Waterkanter

£30billion for all that infra structure looks rather good value for money when you compare it to the £52billion of HS2. All we'll get is a train set and some rail tracks.

Ameliascottage

One of the best Guardian articles I've seen in years. As an American I love hearing the inside story of a land so far away, one that I hope to visit but may never get to. Oymoyakon looks especially harsh but beautiful.

The Olympic coverage could have been very shallow, but instead it gave me a valuable glimpse and information I never would have had otherwise, presented in an incredibly artful manner.

Anyone who doesn't appreciate it should switch back to their Fox News and let the rest of us enjoy the show.

AnnaKim

Now let's spin the story and imagine what it would be for Britain if other countries were treating you as badly as you treat Russia.

So 2012.

Opening ceremony in London. The shambolic kitschy music circus that was unfolding on stage left the world baffled as 99% percent of the global population didn't get a single cultural reference. Athletes are moaning about the unacceptable quality of food. Journalists discover that London is teeming with feral foxes which are attacking little kids and spreading infectious diseases. Tourists are puzzled by the eerily silent streets in West End unaware of the fact that most Londoners were advised to avoid the Olympics like the plague.

And how dare those treacherous imperialists so grossly distort their own history omitting some of its major highlights - which would most certainly include unleashing deadly opium wars in China, Peterloo massacre, gassing the Kurds in 1920, systematic executions in India, torturing Kenyan rebels in 1950s, hunger strikes in Ireland and many other glorious achievements, not to mention the ongoing victorious war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And last but not least, it's dazzling how the record-breaking financial crisis didn't get any credits in the opening ceremony given that City - the world's biggest virtual money refinery - is just a few miles away from the Olympic park. Perhaps they'd better spend all those billions to cut budget deficit instead of slashing public spending on health and education? Well done guys.

[Feb 13, 2014] Two different Olympics, same propaganda

[Feb 12, 2014] Also Cheering at the Olympics Russian Critics -

A nice sample of anti-Sochi propaganda from Grey Prostitute (former Gray Lady ;-)... Looks like they managed to beat the king of "negative campaigning" the Wall Street Journal. By this standard that fact that sportsmen lived in the building that will be used a prison is a sure sign of police state.
Feb 12, 2014 | NYTimes.com

SOCHI, Russia - If anyone has a right to resent the Sochi Olympics, it is Andrei Martynov, whose house was seized by the Russian authorities and then demolished without compensation to clear land near the hockey arena where Russia will play Slovenia on Thursday.

Mr. Martynov now lives in a dingy shelter for people dislocated by the reconstruction that transformed Sochi, and he is still angry about losing his house. Yet, far from harboring bitterness, he expressed an emotion that has spread, perhaps unexpectedly, across Russia since the Games began - unabashed pride in his country.

"This is a unique event, of worldwide interest, and it's happening in my town," he said in the communal kitchen of the shelter not far away from the Olympic Park, where tea was served on a rough wooden table and a television with a perpetually yellow screen was tuned, in spite of everything, to the Olympics.

The preparations for Sochi were so besieged by controversy here over excessive spending, poor planning and accusations of corruption, labor abuses and ecological calamity, that the Games themselves seemed to many Russians to be preordained for failure. President Vladimir V. Putin's lavishing of state funds to remake this subtropical resort to host the Olympics appeared to many here to embody his increasingly autocratic style, out of touch with the day-to-day struggles of most Russians.

Instead, the elaborate opening ceremony and the first week of events - including the country's first gold medal, in team figure skating - have melted away some of the severest criticisms. Russians accustomed to upheaval and chaos, economic booms and busts, and the simmering war in the Caucasus since the collapse of the Soviet Union have seized on something to celebrate.

"Maybe it's the dust in my eye / maybe it's something else," a blogger, Ilya Romashkin, wrote in a poem published on the website blogsochi.ru, which has chronicled in excruciating detail the myriad problems with construction and corruption the city has endured since it was chosen as host nearly seven years ago. "But the tears are clear not of sorrow / maybe I'm proud of my country."

There remain abundant issues with the Games, including new complaints about the design of some of the venues and worries about the mild weather, even in the mountains. And then there is the continuing debate over the expense, estimated at roughly $50 billion, the highest ever and more than all 21 previous Winter Olympics combined, at a time when poor roads, meager health care, the scourge of bribery and a slowing economy are realities that most Russians face.

For now, however, the focus of attention has shifted to the sports themselves, as Mr. Putin and his senior aides have insisted all along that it should be.

In Sochi and other cities where the authorities have erected giant screens for those without tickets, the mood swing in the last few days has been palpable. It has been all but impossible to find anybody who did not express renewed enthusiasm for winter sports and, of course, for the Russian athletes, underscoring how the Olympics anywhere can tap deep reservoirs of patriotism.

"When our champions are on ice, we will let them know we love them, and we support them," said Mr. Martynov's wife, Natalya, who plans to watch figure skating on the shelter's television.

Across Russia, the events have been broadcast by state television channels that have focused immeasurably less than critics at home and journalists from abroad have on the problems that bedeviled the buildup to the Games. That positive, if limited, view is what the overwhelming majority of Russians will have of the Olympics.

As with the sweeping, analgesic celebration of Russia's history and culture in the opening ceremony - sidestepping darker moments like the Red Terror, the Gulag and even the Soviet collapse - it appears to have won over even some of the Kremlin's harshest critics.

"Even more than the opening itself, I like that everyone on this site is writing 'What a cool opening,' " Aleksei A. Navalny, the anticorruption blogger, wrote on Twitter. (Mr. Navalny's organization recently published a comprehensive, interactive website devoted to documenting the overspending, corruption and cronyism of the Olympics, even as it welcomed the event itself.)

"It is so sweet, and so uniting."

It remains to be seen what the lasting legacy of Sochi will be, of course, but the warming welcome that greeted the Olympics so far has rebounded politically to Mr. Putin, whose personal involvement in the Olympic preparations was arguably greater than that of any other single political leader in decades.

The full measure of that has yet to be counted, but Stepan Lvov, an official with the Russian polling agency Vtsiom, said that their initial surveys showed a bounce in Mr. Putin's personal approval ratings just since last weekend. "This sort of dynamic happens very rarely," he said. (The results of the latest polling will be published after the Olympics.)

He added, "Looking at websites and social media networks, we can see that the amount of negative expressions has declined significantly from before the beginning of the Games."

That in itself has infuriated some of Mr. Putin's critics.

After Russia's gold medal victory in team figure skating, led by the dazzling performance of Yulia Lipnitskaya, a budding 15-year-old star, Viktor Shenderovich, a satirist and opposition commentator, compared the patriotic celebration that followed to those of German athletes in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He warned that the patriotic fervor would embolden Mr. Putin's authoritarian policies, prompting a furious backlash.

One of the country's most famous writers, Grigory Chkhartishvili, who writes under the pen name Boris Akunin, responded to the avalanche of criticism ahead of the Olympics with a plea for a respite from the "Facebook masochism" of complaints about the preparations, which have included hastily finished hotel rooms, polluted tap water and the fate of Sochi's stray dogs.

He noted that he was not much of a sports fan himself, but that his hopes for Sochi were simple: no terrorist attacks, beautiful sports, records and an event that "would not be a national disgrace."

Referring to Mr. Putin's opponents, Mr. Chkhartishvili wrote on Facebook, "I swear to God, I am not ready to live by the principle, 'If it's bad for Putin, it's good for us.' "

The cost of the Games, financed largely from state coffers, will ultimately affect every Russian taxpayer, especially as officials seek to tighten spending to cope with dwindling revenues. But the most direct burden has been borne by the residents of Sochi.

In the last seven years, the city has been a construction site, and a still unfinished one, that caused uncountable delays and disruptions for its 340,000 residents. The simmering anger has now turned more forgiving.

"When you remodel your house, it's uncomfortable," said Alla Guseva, a curator at Sochi's history museum, "but when it is done, you are happy you did it. Yes, it was unpleasant, but thank God, it's done now."

The Martynovs lost their home nestled in a marshy, rural village in the Adler district, where migrating birds once thrived. Their house stood on a spacious plot near mandarin orange groves. Palms and eucalyptus trees shaded the village. The pebbly beach of the Black Sea was only a few steps away.

Although local and federal officials say that all those dislocated have received compensation, Mr. Martynov said they had not, because officials found irregularities in their title to the property. "Before our eyes, the backhoe drove onto our property and destroyed our home with its shovel," Mr. Martynov said. "Imagine that, watching your home be destroyed before your eyes."

Mr. Martynov, 55, is a lifelong hockey fan. He played as a teenager with enough talent to join a national competition called the Golden Puck, before he was sidelined by a knee injury, the scar of which he rolled up his pant leg to display. All his life, he said, he loved hockey, while the sport only tormented him in return - now by demolishing his home to make way for the two arenas where the Olympic matches will be held.

So, how could he tolerate watching hockey on this spot?

How could he not, he answered.

"It's a once in a lifetime occurrence," he said of the Russian national team, whose prospects for a gold medal are close to a national obsession here. "When the Russian team skates out, I will cheer. I have no other team and who else would I cheer for? I will cheer for Russia."

Andrew E. Kramer reported from Sochi, and Steven Lee Myers from Moscow. Patrick Reevell contributed reporting from Moscow.

Related Coverage

[Feb 10, 2014] Opening Ceremonies and First Race by Noah Hoffman

A lot of interesting pictures by a member of US Olympic team... Along with unique Olympic fire tower, the roof of the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the main home of Sochi's Olympic ice hockey tournament, fully lights up at night. It is is studded with 38,000 LED lights. The score -- with each country's flags to help viewers know who's playing -- displays on the entirety of the outside of the arena every time a team scores. At night, the lights make in interesting effects.
Noah Hoffman

OK, so maybe that doesn't count as a creative title but at least it's DIFFERENT than the last three.

It's been an incredible 24 hours. Time is flying. By the time I finished blogging yesterday I had about 10 minutes to get dressed for opening ceremonies. It was a little frantic. Luckily the time we were requested to be ready had a built in cushion before we actually needed to leave. They must know that promptness is a struggle for some of us. The extra time gave us a chance to take some group pictures. Kris Freeman, Torin Koos, Liz Stephen, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen and Kikkan Randall all decided they couldn't afford the time and energy to go to the ceremonies. I respect their decision, but I'm so glad I chose to go. Liz, Holly, Kikkan and Sadie got dressed in their outfits to take pictures with us before we headed down. Here is our entire team less Kris, Torin and Simi Hamilton (who was down visiting his family before the ceremonies). (Top row left to right: Bryan Gregg, Andy Newell, Erik Bjornsen and myself; bottom row left to right: Holly, Sadie, Kikkan, Liz, Sophie Caldwell, Jessie Diggins and Ida Sargent.)

[Feb 10, 2014] ​Journalistic malpractice & the dangers of Russia-bashing

RT Op-Edge

Sochi on my mind: It is hard to think of an issue more politicized in Western media than the topic of Russia. It is commonplace to hear, read, and watch media reports claiming the worst possible things about Russia and Russians.

Criticisms are magnified even more when the subject is Vladimir Putin. While Russia does have a long list of issues to grapple with (like just about every other country in the world), the kind of media coverage it receives in turn engenders a serious security threat to the international system. Russia bashing is dangerous for us all.

Whether one likes it or not, Russia is an important power in the world. Having a seat on the UN Security Council confirms its voice will be heard. In fact, Russia often represents the concerns of most of the globe on the Security Council, although this is hardly ever pointed out by the western powers on the Council, particularly the United States. Russia is not a spoiler; rather it holds back the unilateral tendencies held by those in Western capitals. It is almost unthinkable that anyone in the mainstream would ever inform audiences of this reality.

It is quite remarkable, after the incessant demonization Russia gets from mainstream media, that the Kremlin continues to work closely with the West on issues that impact geopolitical stability, i.e. Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, nuclear proliferation, terrorist threats, food security, and the narcotics trade. Western publics rarely, if ever, learn about these kinds cooperation from their media. This is truly regrettable.

The level of journalistic malpractice committed against Russia blinds Western electorates, poisons public opinion, and emboldens the reckless political class. The denigration of the Sochi Games was to be expected. Cheap shots, lazy reporting and maniacal commentary are a form of entertainment served up by Western mainstream media. The Games have come and will soon pass into history. But their impact will be felt long after.

While the media spotlight is on Sochi, other places and events in the world demand our attention. Ukraine is in political deadlock and is teetering on the brink of becoming a failed state. Western audiences are told it is all "Putin's fault." The fact is we have irrefutable evidence ('Nulandgate') Washington is stoking the flames of division in Ukraine. Before the violence in Kiev, Russia called for trilateral consultation involving Ukraine, the EU, and Russia.

Needless to say, mainstream media is very reluctant to inform its audiences of this. Instead, the narrative invented and spread by the Western mainstream is how the West wants to save Ukraine from its "evil neighbor." This is a recipe for disaster - and possible (though completely unnecessary) conflict involving the West and Russia.

There are many other issues, like Ukraine, that western media dwell on with a specific and intentional anti-Russia bias (such as Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan). When publics are not informed or poorly informed, serious policy mistakes can be made. Russia has its own geopolitical interests, often divergent from the geopolitical interests of the West. However, these differences should not be reported as a binary of "good vs. evil." Doing so is irresponsible and a dereliction of journalistic duty.

The Sochi Games should be about athletic excellence and the sense of fair play, and not an exercise to bash Russia when it is reaching out to the world in good faith. Western journalists should take a good look at themselves - where is their good faith?

Peter Lavelle is host of RT's "CrossTalk" and "On the Money."

[Feb 09, 2014] Tensions between US and Russia hang over Sochi despite strong opening by Owen Gibson

Nice media poodle... Diligently backing at the object the owner pointed to... See also British hypocrisy
8 February 2014 | The Guardian

Picking your way through Sochi's Olympic Park at night is like weaving through a giant car park in which a series of jaw-dropping spaceships have landed at random.

The brightly lit ice palaces themselves are stunning, inside and out, and the sporting facilities have been rightly praised by almost all the athletes. But, beyond them, there is little but concrete expanses, hastily planted grass verges and an incongruous funfair.

To bring the Winter Games to his favourite holiday resort at a cost of $51bn, Vladimir Putin has had to build not only a series of world-class sporting venues but an entire city. The scale of the construction is at once impressive and dizzily disconcerting.

Endless utilitarian apartment blocks and gigantic hotels sprawl seemingly at random in the so-called "coastal cluster". In the mountains, ersatz approximations of a Swiss ski resort have sprouted. Even if you accept the argument that the Games can be used as a catalyst for development, it is impossible not to wonder how they will be filled afterwards.

Lessons have been learned from previous Games, not least London 2012, in how to best frame the sporting action for maximum impact – not only for those watching on television but those attending in person.

At Saturday's snowboarding, staged in a stunning setting under brilliant sunshine to a booming dance music soundtrack and cheering crowds, it was even possible to feel the tingle of excitement in the c of criticism of the huge cost of building the infrastructure to host these Games, the protests about Putin's anti-gay laws and security concerns, is a sporting event struggling to get out. It might even be fun.

Not all of the criticism has been fair and there is a lingering undercurrent of bitterness from the Russian organisers, who believe they are being unfairly targeted.

The Cold War may have been studiously avoided in an intelligent opening ceremony, but the simmering tension between the US and Russia is at the heart of a tug of war over how these Games are presented to the world. American networks in particular have dwelled on tales of unfinished media hotels and ramped-up security concerns.

By the same token, the Russian organisers have been needlessly defensive and slow to acknowledge genuine, and often comical, problems with accommodation and, more seriously, prickly when it comes to criticism of their human rights record and anti-gay laws. Putin's hopes for a flawless Games that would showcase his vision of Russian might to the world is already fraying at the edges.

Rightly or wrongly, it is also the Americans who have been most vocal in their criticism of some of the sparkling new sporting facilities.

Shaun White pulled out of theslopestyle snowboarding over concerns about the safetyof the course and US downhill skier Bode Miller on Saturday warned that the Rosa Khuta piste "could kill you" after watching team-mate Marco Sullivan narrowly escape a serious crash.

Shoddy hotel rooms and malfunctioning giant snowflakes aside, everything else appears to be working as it should. Inside the so-called "ring of steel", security is surprisingly unobtrusive. Policemen are dressed down in purple tracksuits and volunteers are friendly and helpful.

What is not yet clear is where the soul of these Games will lie. Russian organisers insist ticket sales have been strong and venues have appeared fairly full so far. The extent to which ordinary Russians get behind an Olympics that, to date, have sometimes appeared the obsession of just one man will be a key factor in determining how they are remembered.

[Feb 9, 2014] Cold War Politics in Sochi by Stephen Lendman

February 9, 2014 | freedomsphoenix.com

On February 6, the XXII Olympic Winter Games began. A geopolitically tense atmosphere prevails.

Security is extremely tight. It's prioritized for good reason. Terrorist attacks are possible. Don't discount potential Washington shenanigans.

Perhaps raining on Putin's parade is planned. Obama may want him embarrassed. False flags are a longstanding US tradition. Will Sochi be Washington's next target? The fullness of time will tell.

It's a virtual armed camp. Measures in place are unprecedented. Around $2 billion was spent on security.

Ahead of February 6, around 23,000 personnel assured proper measures were in place as planned.

Tens of thousands of police officers are deployed. They're backed by helicopters, drones, gunboats, submarines, and 70,000 Russian troops.

Hundreds of Cossacks are involved. They'll check IDs. They'll detain suspects. Sochi's proximity to the North Caucasus raised concerns.

Islamist jihadists named it a target. They're US assets. They're used strategically. Washington used likeminded ones against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan.

Libya was targeted this way. They comprise America's anti-Syrian proxy death squads.

Russia raised concerns after December Volgograd bombings killed 34 people. Were Washington's dirty hands involved?

Is something similar planned for Sochi? Hegemons operate this way. America is by far the worst. Anything ahead is possible.

According to Sochi Organizing Committee chairman Dmitry Chernyshenko:

"Terrorism is a global threat, and for terrorism there is no boundaries, no territories, but here in Sochi from the very beginning of the construction phase the state authorities did their utmost to prepare special measures, starting from the screening of raw materials, checking all the venues and preparing far-reaching security measures to provide the safest ever environment here."

A controlled zone was established. It covers 60 kilometers. It runs along the coast. It extends 25 kilometers inland.

It includes all venues. They're heavily guarded. The entire area is for authorized visitors only.

Western anti-Russian sentiment persists. Cold War politics continues. Putin bashing is featured. He's not about to roll over for Washington.

He wants rule of law principles respected. He opposes Western imperialism. He's against meddling in the internal affairs of Russia, Syria, Ukraine and other nations.

He stresses Moscow's "independent foreign policy." He affirms the "inalienable right to security for all states, the inadmissibility of excessive force, and unconditional observance of international law."

He and Obama disagree on fundamental geopolitical issues. Key is national sovereignty. So are war and peace. America claims a divine right to fight. Putin prioritizes diplomatic conflict resolution.

Disagreements between both countries play out in dueling agendas. Washington notoriously plays hardball. Putin protects Russia's national interests. They're too important to sacrifice.

US media scoundrels target him. They vilify him. They mischaracterize him. They call him a Russian strongman. They make all kinds of baseless accusations.

Lies, damns lies and misinformation substitute for truth and full disclosure. They want him embarrassed. They're raining on his Sochi parade.

On February 6, the Financial Times headlined "Putin gambles all on creation myth behind Sochi."

"I am particularly pleased to see what is happening here because I chose this place myself," he said.

"It must have been in 2001 or 2002," he added. "(W)e were driving around and arrived at this brook, and I said: 'Let's start from here.' That's how it all began."

Putin staked much on the games, said the FT. George Washington University's Sufian Zhemukhov said "(i)f all goes well, (he'll) be seen as the leader who resurrected Russia."

Failure perhaps won't be forgiven, he added. His forthrightness for peace "made him a force on the world stage," said the FT.

A January Levada Center poll showed he'd be elected today by a wide margin. At the same time, his overall support dropped.
Excluding undecided respondents, its "higher than ever."

He's taking no chances. He's going all out to make Sochi successful. FT comments were tame compared to America's media.

The Wall Street Journal headlined "The Putin Games." He wants them to "showcase...modern Russia."

"(H)e succeeded (but) not as he intended...What could go wrong?" Sochi is the most expensive Olympics in history.

Around $50 billion was spent. It's five times the original estimate. It's double what Britain's 2012 summer games cost. It's a fourth more than China spent in 2008.

Much of Sochi's cost related to building vital infrastructure. It had to be done from scratch. Doing so added enormously to costs.

Major projects are expensive. According to Journal editors, "(t)he games are proving to be a case study in the Putin political and economic method."

They claim billions of dollars "lost to corruption." They provide no evidence proving it. They said "Russians call this Olympiad the Korimpiad."

More Putin bashing followed. It's standard scoundrel media practice. Journal editors feature it.

They claim he "made it impossible to hold his regime accountable through free elections or media."

Fact check:

Russian elections shame America's sham ones. They're democratic. They not rigged. Monied interests don't control them.

Outcomes aren't predetermined. Russian voters decide. US ones have no say.

Don't expect Journal editors to explain. Or how Voice of Russia and RT (formerly Russia Today) shame America's corporate media.

They feature news, information and opinion viewers most need to know. They do it forthrightly. They're polar opposite America's managed news misinformation.

Truth is systematically suppressed. Demagoguery, propaganda, scandal, sleaze, junk food news, and warmongering substitute.

Journal editors ignore truth and full disclosure. Bias permeates their opinions. They betray readers. They shame themselves doing so.

They claimed billions spent on Sochi left it unprepared. They cite "unfinished hotel rooms, incomplete road work and now the famous photographs of two toilets in a single stall."

RT.com responded. On February 6, it headlined "Spread fear, toilet humor? MSM guide to 'Worst. Olympics. EVAR!" (Repeat: EVAR!)

Even before the opening ceremony, MSM scoundrels drew conclusions "Sports? Not really," said RT. At issue is malicious Putin bashing. It's longstanding practice.

It's MSM's "own Sochi 2014 moan-athon." Imagine claiming something yet to occur the "worst Olympics ever." They beat up on Beijing the same way.

They "never believed in Sochi," said RT. They called its climate unfit for winter games. They cite corruption with no substantiating evidence.

They claim lax security despite unprecedented measures in place. They discuss possible terrorist threats. They leave unexplained what most worrisome - a possible disruptive US false flag attack.

It bears repeating. Perhaps Washington plans raining on Putin's parade.

On August 7, 2008, hours before Beijing's summer Olympics' opening ceremony, Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia. He did so at Washington's behest. Attacking was strategically timed.

After Soviet Russia's 1991 dissolution, South Assetia broke away from Georgia. It declared independence. It's home to many Russian nationals.

Moscow responded responsibly. Conflict continued for days. Then President Medvedev was on vacation. Then Prime Minister Putin was in Beijing.

In half a day before Russia intervened, 1,700 people were killed. Included were 12 Russian peacekeepers.

Moscow was blamed for Georgian aggression. Does Washington plan something similar this time? Will a false flag attack occur?

Will Obama usurp a freer hand in Ukraine? Will he take advantage in Syria? Does he plan other mischief? Is disrupting Sochi planned?

Hegemons operate this way. Washington's disturbing history gives Russia good reason for concern.

Preparations in Sochi aren't perfect, said RT. "(F)laws and problems" exist. "But what makes the Sochi Olympics 'the worst' so far is...accommodation for the global media elite."

"See it, slam it," said RT. "Intrepid Olympic reporters, we thought, would get behind the scenes, unravel the PR."

"Nope. Not this time. Of global importance were rooms (if they were available), toilets, floors, and shower curtains."

"Oh - and a request to not flush toilet paper (it's rarely done in public toilets) had the press pack throwing up."

Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally was upset about "a tiny, tiny (hotel room) sink."

It "sits atop an exposed white plastic pipe, stuck to the wall and surrounded by an unruly gob of caulk," she said.

"The single room has two lamps - which don't have light bulbs, but that's okay because they aren't near any unused outlets."

Other journalists reported missing shower curtains, lamps, chairs, inadequate heat and hot water, and whatever else they wanted to cite to bash Putin.

Fox News called conditions "laughably bad." It warned about event coverage being just as dreadful.

MSM scoundrels feature daily "hotel horror stories." They regurgitate similar tweets to each other. They find new reasons to complain.

BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg tweeted about two sit-down toilets shown side-by-side with no partition. It went viral.

RT calls it a "must have" for every Sochi story. Imagine toilet humor substituting for real journalism. It gets worse.

Whatever is happening in Russia multiple time zones away gets reported. A Moscow school shooting creates Sochi shudders.

So does a derailed gas-laden freight train exploding. It happened 500 miles northeast of Moscow. It made Sochi headlines.

CNN connected Sochi to the September 2004 Beslan school siege. Its February 5 report said:

"Amid the shrill noise of militant threats ahead of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the gym in Beslan is now steeped in silence, a monument to the dead, untouched almost."

Trashing Sochi bashes Putin. MSM scoundrels are deplorable. They disgrace themselves before dwindling audiences.

CNN and other US cable news networks report increasing to fewer viewers. Maybe one day they'll all tune out.

RT called Sochi the "biggest construction site in the world over the past seven years."

"Everything there - most of the hotels, sport venues, high-speed rail links, highways, 50 bridges, even the Olympic village itself - was built from scratch."

It's an extraordinary achievement in a short time. It's almost like building an entirely new city in record time. Sochi deserves praise, not criticism.

Toronto Star reporter Rosie Dimanno wrote:

"Mounds of debris, parts of roads unpaved, mesh hoarding to hide the eyesore bits, lots of trash, unreliable power - nothing upsets journalists more than an internet that goes up and down - these have all featured in Olympics over the past three decades, as the Games have grown too big, too gaudy and too complicated."

"The Olympics are no (place) for old sissies," she added. "So I'll take my own advice: Just chill."

Most MSM scoundrels report as expected. They mock legitimate journalism. It's verboten in America. It's lacking in Canada. It's largely absent in Western Europe. Managed news misinformation substitutes.

WSJ editors called Sochi "a shrine to authoritarianism." They bashed Putin relentlessly. One bald-faced lie followed others.

"(T)he underbelly of Mr. Putin's regime (was) exposed," they claimed.

New York Times editors were just as bad. They headlined "A Spotlight on Mr. Putin's Russia," saying:

"(T)he reality of (his) Russia...conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights."

"There is no way to ignore the dark side - the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new anti-gay and blasphemy laws, and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges."

Fact check

NYT editors have a longstanding disturbing history. They one-sidedly support wealth, power and privilege. Whenever Washington wages imperial wars or plans them, they march in lockstep.

They long ago lost credibility. They feature mind-numbing misinformation. They violate their own journalistic code doing so.

They invented anti-gay law controversy. Russian gay propaganda law has nothing to do with persecuting people for their sexual orientation.

Everyone's rights are respected. Russia wants its children protected from malicious anti-gay propaganda, illicit drugs, alcohol abuse and whatever else harms them.

Responsible governance demands it. America leaves millions of children unprotected. Cutting food stamps alone denies them vital nutrition.

Don't expect Times editors to explain. Or about thousands of political prisoners languishing in America's gulag.

About torture being official US policy. About rigged US elections. About impoverishing neoliberal harshness.

About destroying social America. About eliminating America's middle class. About waging war on freedom.

About unprecedented levels of public and private corruption. About kleptocracy masquerading as democracy.

About out-of-control corporate empowerment. About Washington being corporate occupied territory. About crushing organized labor.

About commodifying public education. About ignoring international, constitutional and US statute laws.

About violating fundamental human and civil rights. About Obama's war on humanity.

Bashing Putin takes precedence. Managed news misinformation proliferates.

Times editors report like other media scoundrels. MSM ones long ago lost credibility. They replicate the worst of each other.

They support what demands condemnation. They back wrong over right. Readers and viewers demand better.

MSM scoundrels don't deliver. Sochi games run through February 23. Expect lots more Putin bashing ahead.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

[Feb 07, 2014] Security Researcher Punches Holes In NBC's 'Everyone Going To Sochi Will Be Hacked Story; NBC Doubles Down In Response Techd

Earlier this week, NBC "reported" that journalists and visitors to Sochi are being immediately hacked virtually as soon as they acquire a connection. [AUTOPLAY WARNING.] NBC presented this as something completely inescapable in its report, which purportedly showed NBC journalist Richard Engel's cellphone and laptop being compromised "before he even finished his coffee."

All very scary but all completely false.

Errata Security points out that the entire situation was fabricated.

The story shows Richard Engel "getting hacked" while in a cafe in Russia. It is wrong in every salient detail.

They aren't in Sochi, but in Moscow, 1007 miles away.

The "hack" happens because of the websites they visit (Olympic themed websites), not their physical location. The results would've been the same in America.

The phone didn't "get" hacked; Richard Engel initiated the download of a hostile Android app onto his phone.

...and in order to download the Android app, Engel had to disable a lock that prevents such downloads -- something few users do [update].

While your average person might be lured to sketchy sites supposedly related to the Olympics, most of these people wouldn't have disabled the default locks on their phone, as Robert Graham at Errata Security points out.

silverscarcat (profile),

Stupid people do stupid things!

News at 11!

Anonymous Coward

You trusts mainstream media these days?

[Feb 05, 2014] Propaganda, American-style by Noam Chomsky

Pointing to the massive amounts of propaganda spewed by government and institutions around the world, observers have called our era the age of Orwell. But the fact is that Orwell was a latecomer on the scene. As early as World War I, American historians offered themselves to President Woodrow Wilson to carry out a task they called "historical engineering," by which they meant designing the facts of history so that they would serve state policy. In this instance, the U.S. government wanted to silence opposition to the war. This represents a version of Orwell's 1984, even before Orwell was writing.

In 1921, the famous American journalist Walter Lippmann said that the art of democracy requires what he called the "manufacture of consent." This phrase is an Orwellian euphemism for thought control. The idea is that in a state such as the U.S. where the government can't control the people by force, it had better control what they think.. The Soviet Union is at the opposite end of the spectrum from us in its domestic freedoms. It's essentially a country run by the bludgeon. It's very easy to determine what propaganda is in the USSR: what the state produces is propaganda.

That's the kind of thing that Orwell described in 1984 (not a very good book in my opinion). 1984 is so popular because it's trivial and it attacks our enemies. If Orwell had dealt with a different problem-- ourselves--his book wouldn't have been so popular. In fact, it probably wouldn't have been published.

In totalitarian societies where there's a Ministry of Truth, propaganda doesn't really try to control your thoughts. It just gives you the party line. It says, "Here's the official doctrine; don't disobey and you won't get in trouble. What you think is not of great importance to anyone. If you get out of line we'll do something to you because we have force." Democratic societies can't work like that, because the state is much more limited in its capacity to control behavior by force. Since the voice of the people is allowed to speak out, those in power better control what that voice says--in other words, control what people think. One of the ways to do this is to create political debate that appears to embrace many opinions, but actually stays within very narrow margins. You have to make sure that both sides in the debate accept certain assumptions--and that those assumptions are the basis of the propaganda system. As long as everyone accepts the propaganda system, the debate is permissible.

The Vietnam War is a classic example of America's propaganda system. In the mainstream media--the New York Times, CBS, and so on-- there was a lively debate about the war. It was between people called "doves" and people called "hawks." The hawks said, "If we keep at it we can win." The doves said, "Even if we keep at it, it would probably be too costly for use, and besides, maybe we're killing too many people." Both sides agreed on one thing. We had a right to carry out aggression against South Vietnam. Doves and hawks alike refused to admit that aggression was taking place. They both called our military presence in Southeast Asia the defense of South Vietnam, substituting "defense" for "aggression" in the standard Orwellian manner. In reality, we were attacking South Vietnam just as surely as the Soviets later attacked Afghanistan.

Consider the following facts. In 1962 the U.S. Air Force began direct attacks against the rural population of South Vietnam with heavy bombing and defoliation . It was part of a program intended to drive millions of people into detention camps where, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, they would be "protected" from the guerrillas they were supporting--the "Viet Cong," the southern branch of the former anti-French resistance (the Vietminh). This is what our government calls aggression or invasion when conducted by some official enemy. The Saigon government had no legitimacy and little popular support, and its leadership was regularly overthrown in U.S.-backed coups when it was feared they might arrange a settlement with the Viet Cong. Some 70,000 "Viet Cong" had already been killed in the U.S.-directed terror campaign before the outright U.S. invasion took place in 1972.

Like the Soviets in Afghanistan, we tried to establish a government in Saigon to invite us in. We had to overthrow regime after regime in that effort. Finally we simply invaded outright. That is plain, simple aggression. But anyone in the U.S. who thought that our policies in Vietnam were wrong in principle was not admitted to the discussion about the war. The debate was essentially over tactics.

Even at the peak of opposition to the U.S. war, only a minuscule portion of the intellectuals opposed the war out of principle--on the grounds that aggression is wrong. Most intellectuals came to oppose it well after leading business circles did--on the "pragmatic" grounds that the costs were too high.

Strikingly omitted from the debate was the view that the U.S. could have won, but that it would have been wrong to allow such military aggression to succeed. This was the position of the authentic peace movement but it was seldom heard in the mainstream media. If you pick up a book on American history and look at the Vietnam War, there is no such event as the American attack on South Vietnam. For the past 22 years, I have searched in vain for even a single reference in mainstream journalism or scholarship to an "American invasion of South Vietnam" or American "aggression" in South Vietnam. In America's doctrinal system, there is no such event. It's out of history, down Orwell's memory hole.

If the U.S. were a totalitarian state, the Ministry of Truth would simply have said, "It's right for us to go into Vietnam. Don't argue with it." People would have recognized that as the propaganda system, and they would have gone on thinking whatever they wanted. They would have plainly seen that we were attacking Vietnam, just as we can see the Soviets are attacking Afghanistan.

People are much freer in the U.S., they are allowed to express themselves. That's why it's necessary for those in power to control everyone's thought, to try and make it appear as if the only issues in matters such as U.S. intervention in Vietnam are tactical: Can we get away with it? There is no discussion of right or wrong.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. propaganda system did its job partially but not entirely. Among educated people it worked very well. Studies show that among the more educated parts of the population, the government's propaganda about the war is now accepted unquestioningly. One reason that propaganda often works better on the educated than on the uneducated is that educated people read more, so they receive more propaganda. Another is that they have jobs in management, media, and academia and therefore work in some capacity as agents of the propaganda system--and they believe what the system expects them to believe. By and large, they're part of the privileged elite, and share the interests and perceptions of those in power.

On the other hand, the government had problems in controlling the opinions of the general population. According to some of the latest polls, over 70 percent of Americans still thought the war was, to quote the Gallup Poll, "fundamentally wrong and immoral, not a mistake." Due to the widespread opposition to the Vietnam War, the propaganda system lost its grip on the beliefs of many Americans. They grew skeptical about what they were told. In this case there's even a name for the erosion of belief. It's called the "Vietnam Syndrome," a grave disease in the eyes of America's elites because people understand too much.

Let me gives on more example of the powerful propaganda system at work in the U.S.--the congressional vote on contra aid in March 1986. For three months prior to the vote, the administration was heating up the political atmosphere, trying to reverse the congressional restrictions on aid to the terrorist army that's attacking Nicaragua. I was interested in how the media was going to respond to the administration campaign for the contras. So I studied two national newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times. In January, February, and March, I went through every one of their editorials, opinion pieces, and the columns written by their own columnists. There were 85 pieces. Of these, all were anti-Sandinista. On that issue, no discussion was tolerable.

There are two striking facts about the Sandinista government, as compared with our allies in Central America--Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. One is that the Sandinista government doesn't slaughter its population. That's a well-recognized fact. Second, Nicaragua is the only one of those countries in which the government has tried to direct social services to the poor. This too, is not a matter of debate; it is conceded on all sides to be true.

On the other hand, our allies in Guatemala and El Salvador are among the world's worst terrorist states. So far in the 1980s, they have slaughtered over 150,000 of their own citizens, with U.S. support. These nations do little for their populations except torture, terrorize, and kill them. Honduras is a little different. In Honduras, there's a government of the rich that robs the poor. It doesn't kill on the scale of El Salvador or Guatemala, but a large part of the population is starving to death.

So in examining the 85 editorials, I also looked for these two facts about Nicaragua. The fact that the Sandinistas are radically different from our Central American allies in that they don't slaughter their population was not mentioned once. That they have carried out social reforms for the poor was referred to in two phrases, both buried. Two phrases in 85 columns on one crucial issue, zero phrases in 85 columns on another.

That's really remarkable control over thought on a highly debated issue. After that I went through the editorials on El Salvador and Nicaragua from 1980 to the present; it's essentially the same story. Nicaragua, a country under attack by the regional superpower, did on October 15, 1985, what we did in Hawaii during World War II: instituted a state of siege. There was a huge uproar in the mainstream American press--editorials, denunciations, claims that the Sandinistas are totalitarian Stalinist monsters, and so on.

Two days after that, on October 17, El Salvador renewed its state of siege. Instituted in March 1980 and renewed monthly afterwards, El Salvador's state of siege was far more harsh than Nicaragua's. It blocked freedom of movement and virtually all civil rights. It was the framework within which the U.S.-trained and -organized army has carried out torture and slaughter.

The New York Times considered the Nicaraguan state of siege a great atrocity. The Salvadoran state of siege, far harsher in its methods and it application, was never mentioned in 160 New York Times editorials on Nicaragua and El Salvador, up to now [mid-1986, the time of this interview].

We are often told the country is a budding democracy, so it can't possibly be having a state of siege. According to news reports on El Salvador, Duarte is heading a moderate centrist government under attack by terrorists of the left and of the right. This is complete nonsense. Every human rights investigation, even the U.S. government in private, concedes that terrorism is being carried out by the Salvadoran government itself. The death squads are the security forces. Duarte is simply a front for terrorists. But that is seldom said publicly. All this falls under Walter Lippmann's notion of "the manufacture of consent." Democracy permits the voice of the people to be heard, and it is the task of the intellectual to ensure that this voice endorses what leaders perceive to be the right course. Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism. The techniques have been honed to a high art in the U.S. and elsewhere, far beyond anything that Orwell dreamed of. The device of feigned dissent (as practiced by the Vietnam- era "doves," who criticized the war on the grounds of effectiveness and not principle) is one of the more subtle means, though simple lying and suppressing fact and other crude techniques are also highly effective.

For those who stubbornly seek freedom around the world, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the propaganda system to which we are subjected and in which all too often we serve as unwilling or unwitting instruments.

[Jan 23, 2014] Arrested Development – The West Redoubles its Efforts to Derail Sochi

We report, you decide ;-)
January 22, 2014 | The Kremlin Stooge
Oh, and terrorism. There was a brief suspension of the daily braying about the incredibly dangerous climate in Sochi, centered immediately around the latest double bombing in Volgograd, in which the U.S. State Department released a brief "We are all Volgograders Now" type statement and in which foreign leaders expressed solidarity with fighting terrorism: then it was straight back to towing the gay-rights, homosexual-advancement bandwagon through the streets, and encouraging everyone to jump on.

At around the same time – attacking on another front – U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would not attend the Olympic Games in Sochi (which he was not likely going to attend anyway; he sent Vice-President Biden to Vancouver in 2010 and First Lady Michelle to London in 2012), at the same time appointing "openly gay" athletes to the American delegation, for the sole purpose of "tweaking", "slamming" and "sending a message to" Russia and Putin.

What message would that be, Mr. President? I mean, I'm sure Billie-Jean King will be all over it like Mr. T on…well, anything shiny, because attention is the lifeblood of politics and her escalation to leadership of the American delegation will focus attention on her new Political Action Committee, launched in 2012. LPAC is intended to channel funding to political candidates who support lesbian rights. Not human rights, or even women's rights. Lesbian rights. LPAC "distinguishes itself from existing women's and LGBT groups - such as EMILY's List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund - by specifically targeting lesbians."

According to Ms. King herself, speaking as a homosexual, only 50% of homosexuals know who they are by the age of 13. I'm not sure where that statistic comes from, but since it is offered by a gay icon who should know what it is like to be gay, we are forced to give it due consideration. The remainder, she says, do not know until they are adults, presumably when some watershed moment reveals to them their true desires. If we assume that to be a fact, I am damned if I can understand why Billie-Jean King is throwing her weight behind opposition to a law which says you may not market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to children under 16. In theory, some 4% of children will be homosexual, and of those 4%, 50% will not realize their true orientation until they are adults. But in order to be comfortable with their orientation, children should receive reassuring information on same-sex relationships before they are 13, and since 50% of them will not even know they are gay until they are adults, you pretty much have to pitch it to them all, right? However, about 96% of them will actually be heterosexual. Is there any harm done by informing heterosexual children who are 13 and under about the pleasures of homosexual love? I couldn't say; I'm not a psychologist. But if I were asked, as a parent, if I thought basic sex education in schools taught kids what they needed to know about sex as a reasonable supplement to instinct, I would say I think so. If I were asked did I think a homosexual supplement should be added to the school curriculum, I would say I did not think so.

By her own admission, Ms. King knew she was a lesbian by 1968, but she kept it a secret until a lawsuit revealed it in 1981, 13 years later. Why? Because America was homophobic, and her parents were homophobic. Although she asserts that it cost her all her endorsements within 24 hours of the lawsuit's being filed and at least $2 million – more than she made in prize money over her entire career – she dealt with it to the best of my recollection with courage and dignity, for which she deserves the respect such courage earns. I can't help wondering, though, if she was bitter about her secret being blown to the world…and what she would have thought in 1981 of a bunch of crusading foreign busybodies trying to impose their "national values" on America, and insisting she come out immediately and be free.

Moscow Exile:

I remember not all that back when a popular song in the USA was called "Okie from Muskogee" or summat like.

Yeah, a long while back, come to think of it. Just checked: 1969 it was No.1 in the US.

What happened?

I'm proud to be a Russky from Moskvy!

(Well sort of :-))

marknesop

It reminds me of one I heard years ago, to the effect that a struggling sports team intended to draft Linda Lovelace as their coach. When asked why, the team captain reported that although she would probably blow a few, she would not choke on the really big ones.

I really have no problem with Billy-Jean King; as I said, she mostly behaved with courage and fortitude when she was on the losing end of gay persecution herself, and it is only natural that she should want to see an improvement in gay rights and an end of being persecuted because of your orientation. However, I submit that day has come and gone, and that it is not an issue in Russia any more than it is in the United States, while the crusaders overlook behavior that is several removes worse on the part of repressive Middle-Eastern monarchies who are valued allies. We will see if there is a big gay-rights push by the USA when Qatar has the World Cup – which I understand has now been moved to winter rather than summer despite fierce arguments. I daresay much more important issues will occupy Americans than gay rights by that time.

;Alexander Mercouris

Dear Mark,

A fine article!

Has there ever in history been a sillier campaign than the one for the boycott of the Sochi Olympics on the basis of this law? I suppose there has but off the top of my head I can't think of it. Has there ever been a sillier case of posturing and grandstanding than the US decision to pick LGBT athletes like Billy-Jean King to head the official US delegation to Sochi? Bear in mind that Billy-Jean King's heyday came at a time when the USSR did not participate in international tennis competitions so she is probably not well known in Russia anyway. Even if most Russians have heard of her, as I said previously it is simply delusional to think that the great majority of Russians know or care whether she is or any other American athlete is gay or lesbian or not.

For the record consensual sex between women was never prohibited in the USSR even during the Stalin era so what Billy-Jean King and Navratilova got up to between the sheets was never a crime in the USSR. For the further record consensual sex between men was actually decriminalised in the USSR in the 1920s (when it was a crime in the UK and the US) until it was recriminalized by Stalin in I believe 1933. It was then decriminalised again in 1993 to almost complete indifference.

A gay Russian man I know (who is now a UN official) and who lived and was brought up in the USSR during the late Soviet period has told me that provided gays like him maintained a certain discretion the police during this period left them alone. If so then this was unlike the situation in Britain where until homosexual activity was decriminalised the police actively hounded and searched out gays. The Soviets seem to have made little use of allegations of homosexuality to discredit their opponents in their own political conflicts even during the political trials of the Stalin era whilst I can't say I have ever heard of a prominent Russian or Soviet artist who was ever ruined or harassed by the authorities simply because he was homosexual. Certainly I know of no Russian or Soviet case remotely comparable to those of Oscar Wilde or of the recently posthumously pardoned scientist Alan Turing and nothing that resembles the unceasing harassment by the police of gay cultural figures in Britain like the actor John Gielgud before homosexuality was decriminalised.

I say all this because I do sometimes wonder whether part of the explanation for the hysteria in the US and Britain about to the new law may be because LGBT people in the US and Britain make assumptions about Russian treatment of LGBT people based on their own historical experience in their own countries. If so then that may be a serious mistake. However even if it is the case this can only form part of the explanation. That the recent western campaign against Russia and for the boycott of the Sochi Olympics has in reality little to do with the new law is shown by the way supporters of this campaign constantly misrepresent it.

Having said all this, I think we can now say confidently that barring a major international crisis or a major terrorist incident a boycott of the Sochi Olympics is not going to happen.

There are two further points I want to make about this campaign, which concern its impact in Russia itself:

  1. This whole ugly campaign has had the unfortunate effect of encouraging some unpleasant people like the television personality who is an ex priest and who has just called for homosexuality to be recriminalized to come crawling out of the woodwork. Given how trivial this law is I am pretty sure this would never have happened if there had not been in the west this extraordinary campaign against it. Thankfully I don't think anyone takes this call seriously or sees in it anything other than a self publicity stunt. Fortunately the extent to which this sort of thing is happening has been limited and so far this looks like an isolated case.
  2. By contrast the Russian LGBT community have shown astonishing good sense and political maturity in the face of this provocative campaign. They have staunchly refused to join in it or be drawn into it or be used by it in a way that speaks highly of their patriotism and good sense. This contrasts sharply with the way the liberal opposition in Russia last year foolishly supported the Magnitsky law. This is a major plus and promises much good for the future of the country.
;Jen

Dear Alex: It's worth knowing that while the dancer Rudolf Nureyev was still living and working in the Soviet Union, he was shadowed by the KGB for suspected disloyalty to the Communist Party and for associating too freely with Westerners. According to some Internet sources I have seen, the KGB knew that he was gay and had been tracking his movements but the sources don't say if the agency did so with a view to blackmailing him (and using him to inform on others) or because it believed his contacts with other homosexual people were encouraging his disloyalty and rebellious nature.

The FBI also had a file on Nureyev as it suspected him of being a spy for the Soviets. It's quite possible that at those moments when Nureyev believed the KGB was after him, it was actually the FBI spook who was on his trail!

http://articles.latimes.com/1999/sep/12/news/mn-9201

The Los Angeles Times article linked to notes that when Diane Solway (Nureyev's biographer) asked for both the KGB and the FBI files on Nureyev, the KGB file arrived promptly, was uncensored and acknowledged mistakes made at senior levels; the same could not be said of the FBI file.

marknesop:

Thanks, Alex, and as usual a very perceptive and thoughtful analysis. That's a good point about Billie-Jean King's name value in Russia – I didn't think of that, and you're probably right; most Russians will have no clue who she is because they were not involved in the sport at the time she was a big deal. It is likewise an interesting suggestion that bitter gay activists in the west are projecting because of their own treatment in the past. And finally, it is also an insightful observation that the Russian gay community has behaved in an exemplary fashion – the interview with the owner of The Lighthouse gay club in Sochi, linked by Moscow Exile, offers an excellent glimpse – by refusing to let themselves be used as a stick with which to beat the government, and have probably in so doing achieved far more acceptance by Russians than external pressure would ever have done.

Historically even brutal regimes have looked the other way on same-sex activity between women, and in my opinion it has always seemed simultaneously less harmful and less perverted to even harsh judges than the same activity between males. Even now the more repressive Middle Eastern nations are relatively accepting of lesbianism (probably perceiving it as a college-experimentation dalliance type of thing which sometimes happens whenever large numbers of young women get together, and which they will "grow out of") than they are of gay male activity.

yalensis

Dear Alex, that was a most EXCELLENT and well-reasoned comment.

A couple of points:

Taking it as self-evident that homosexuality is a trait (genetic or hormonal, of whatever) that persists from generation to generation, that each society in human history comes to deal with this in its own way. Soviet Union/Russia dealt with it in a certain way that involved a certain amount of compromise, and a certain amount of discretion.

Many western societies (such as Britain and America) were quite vicious towards homosexuals, as you point out. The American film Brokeback Mountain, which depicts a love affair between two (grown-up) male cowboys takes place between the years 1963 to 1981. The film is fictional, of course, but based on realities of the time. One of the cowboys describes how his father tried to steer him away from becoming gay by showing him a vicious hate crime that the townspeople had perpetrated against a gay guy, torturing him and killing him. This was supposed to be a warning to the boy that he had better try to pretend to be heterosexual, otherwise he could be tortured and murdered himself.

The Brits were possibly even more vicious towards homosexuals than the Americans, as you point out with your examples of Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing, who were literally hounded to death, in spite of their outstanding accomplishlments.

So now, I think these Western societies are trying to atone for these past crimes, and maybe even bending over backwards; but unfortunately they are projecting their guilt onto a country like Russia, which always handled the issue of homosexuality in a different way.

In conclusion, the Americans are being ridiculous by sending a self-professed "gay" delegation to Sochi, thinking this will shame Russia by boasting how diverse America is.

Russia should respond as follows:

Treat the delegation with the utmost respect and the usual generous Russian hospitality.
Send them back to America with only positive impressions of Russia and Russians.
(Well, in the case of Johnny Weir, that's redundant, because he is already a Russophile!)

Moscow Exile

Turing has become an iconic figure amongst homosexuals and liberals in the UK. I often get the impression that some of these people even try their hardest to suggest that Turing was a mathematical genius because of his homosexuality, that homosexuality is concomitant with genius; that without homosexuality, "we would have lost the war". Needless to say, I have seen that argument put forward by several "Guardianistas". I have also heard the same proposition concerning Tchaikovsky's homosexuality and his musical talent.

As regards the law in the UK concerning homosexuality, I also think that liberals there often try to rewrite history and to be absolutely frank, they sometimes tell downright lies about this matter.

It was not an offence to be a homosexual in the UK, only to engage in certain homosexual acts. The Buggery Act of 1556 applied to its eponymous activity. The Criminal Law amendment Act of 1885, popularly known as the Labouchere Amendment and covering other kinds of homosexual sex acts, was introduced after a wave of sensational cases of upper-class, middle-aged men corrupting young boys. From 1885 to the reform of 1967, 85% of all prosecutions under the act involved soliciting or activity in a public place. One must remember that Turing was man in his middle forties and his "partner" in the offence that led to his conviction was an unemployed young man aged 19.

Furthermore, Turing's chemical castration was not ordered by the courts, as the common opinion in the UK has it, but was the result of a plea bargained and suggested by Turing's barrister as an alternative to prison.

Regardless of Turing's contribution to the allied war effort and to computer science, his homosexuality caused great concern to many. He was fond of boys (there exists correspondence between Turing and one of his homosexual chums in which Turing writes about the "scrumptious boys" at a school where he had been appointed to a post as mathematics teacher), though there is no evidence that he practised paederasty. Nevertheless, he had been warned to be discreet as regards his "cottaging" activities (seeking partners for homosexual acts in public toilets and locations known to be meeting places for male homosexuals). He chose to ignore this advice, and, as the law stood at the time, he paid the price.

When the UK 1967 Sexual Offences Act received Royal Assent, Lord Arran, a co-sponsor of that act, said: "…I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… ".

It is indeed extremely unfortunate for Turing that the said Act, together with Lord Arran's sage advice, came too late for Turing, who was recently granted a Royal pardon for his conviction.

Interestingly, there has been no mention of a pardon for Turing's 19-year-old partner in the performance of a homosexual act in Manchester, which act led to Turing's conviction. Unlike the bourgeois, highly educated mathematical prodigy Turing, however, that 19-year-old was a member of the working class.

I wonder what Lord Arran would have said as regards the lurid and, to my mind, extremely offensive displays perpetrated in public by homosexuals these days, an example of which being displayed in the photograph above accompanying Mark's article that leads this thread?

[Jan 19, 2014] Italian IOC official accuses US of 'absurdly' politicizing Olympics by sending gay athletes

See also Sochi Olympics Vladimir Putin's interview with world media in full - RT
RT News

A senior Italian member of the International Olympic Committee has slammed the US for mixing politics with the Olympics in its "absurd" decision to include openly gay athletes in its official delegation to the Winter Games in Russia's Sochi.

In a comment that has caused quite a stir, Mario Pescante also described President Barack Obama's move as political extortion, according to Italian media.

"It's absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have [been established]," Mario Pescante said at an Italian OC meeting on Wednesday, reported Associated Press, citing local press. "The games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports support daily."

Later, Pescante downplayed his rhetoric saying that he used the "wrong terms" and that his words were taken out of context, wrote RaiSport.

Clarifying his comments to AP, the Italian IOC member said "of course" he was not against gays.

"I just wanted to make the point not to let politics interfere with the Olympics," he told the agency via phone.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky refused to comment on the matter.

For the first time since 2000, the American delegation to the Olympics will not include the president, vice president or first lady. Among the delegates that Obama picked to represent the nation in Sochi are two openly-lesbian athletes – tennis legend Billie Jean King, and hockey player Caitlin Cahow – and, also figure skater Brian Boitano who came out as gay ahead of the Games.

The decision is interpreted as a snub to Russia over the ban on propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors passed in the country last summer. The law - dubbed the "anti-gay" law in the West – is seen as discriminatory towards LGBT community by its critics. Gay rights activists and some politicians called to boycott the Olympic Games in Russia in protest against the law.

"We've seen boycotts, concerns over Aboriginal rights in Australia, the Tibet issue in China. It's enough already," Pescante told AP. "There are always going to be issues wherever the games are held, but the best way to combat these issues is by letting the games unfold and sending thousands of journalists to these places to report on what is going on there," Pescante, the head of the IOC's International Relations Commission and a former IOC vice president said.

Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly said that no one will be discriminated against in Sochi. President Vladimir Putin reiterated Friday that gay people have nothing to fear coming to the Olympics. He emphasized that there is no criminal or administrative responsibility for homosexual relations in Russia, unlike many other countries.

"We don't outlaw anything and don't nab anyone," Putin said at a meeting with Sochi Olympics volunteers. "That's why you can feel safe and free here but please leave our children in peace."

Putin also recalled that just like Russians respect foreign traditions, Russian culture and traditions should be respected by foreigners.

"We have our traditions and our culture," he said. "We treat any of our partners with respect but we request that our traditions and our culture also be treated with respect."

[Jan 19, 2014] What other accusations "partners" are hung on the Sochi Olympics ?

"Yet another [jerks] can't sleep because of cost overruns..."
Jan 17, 2014 | topwar.ru

Sorry but again, we need to touch the theme of Olympics in Sochi...

Well, what we can do if new reasons to discuss it was provided by our foreign "partners" , many of which just can't sleep because this most important international sporting event is held in Russia

One imagining that in Russia on every corner people with a long beard in hard boots and ugly "fufayka" , tied with hemp instead of morning coffee drink the blood of gays and transvestites and lesbians, sharing it with tame bears. Other are preoccupied with the vision of Vladimir Putin personally shooting with "Maxim" machine gun right on the Red Square Russian sportsmen who lost their events on Olympics.

Yet another [jerks] can't sleep because of cost overruns that the sad fact that gold and treasure which were safely hold in the distant mines since the time of Ivan the Terrible were wasted on Sochi Olympics; by modest estimated no less that a kvadragintillion dollars ...

[Dec 21, 2013] Vladimir Putin is outflanking the west at every turn by Nick Cohen

December 21, 2013 | The Guardian | Comments (968)

Putin is giving every sign that he wants Orthodox Russia to repel the satanic west again. He has appointed Dmitry Kiselyov to control the state's media network. Kiselyov earned Putin's admiration when he declared that gays "should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case they die in a car accident, should be buried or burned as unfit for extending anyone's life."

In his state-of-the-nation address last week, Putin sounded like the most slavophile of patriarchs when he derided the liberal west as "genderless and infertile" and promised he would fight the western elite's "destruction of traditional values from the top".

If you think that makes him sound like a Christian Coalition or Muslim Brotherhood cleric, well that thought has struck others too. The leathery old American conservative "Pat" Buchanan, who has been involved in every foul movement on the American right since Richard Nixon's day, knows a potential collaborator when he sees one. Putin could be the leader of "conservatives and traditionalists in every country", he said, and lead the fight against the "militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite".

Brian Whitmore of Radio Free Europe quotes Moscow journalists talking of Putin's Russia replacing the old Communist International with a new "conservative international" that unites the religious and the repressive in a common front. You can see its work already. When Ukraine seemed close to reaching agreement with the EU, an advertising campaign, apparently financed by an oligarch close to Putin, warned that joining Europe meant allowing gay marriage. Fear of queers was used to keep Ukrainians in line.

Homophobia, the authoritarianism of the religious right – are these not the very vices that Obama and his "progressive" supporters have dedicated their lives to fighting? At home maybe. But abroad? Obama's conservative critics say he is the most "leftwing president ever". To my mind, no honourable definition of the left or of liberalism can exclude an awareness of the suffering of others – "internationalism" as we used to call it.

OneTop

At this point in time all I can say is that Putin, offered safe haven to Edward Snowden, when all the so-called western liberal democracies refused to offer him a glass of water.

In my mind, that puts him head and shoulders above any of the self-righteous westerners.

It's easy for Putin .... all he has to be is marginally above totally disgusting.


WyldeWolfe OneTop

Well said. Not a single "Western" democracy willing to step up to the plate and protect an individual who made the public aware of massive crimes being perpetrated by the state. Not one. They're all too busy kissing each others butt in hopes of a cozy appointment once they retire.

LouCipher

Funny how the word 'Democracy' is omitted from the article, such as it is in the West, 90% of people don't want our soldiers in these places we can never fix.

We don't want intervention in Syria, and it bears to comparison to Spain.

Leave Assad where he is, at least he won't massacre the Christians (although that wouldn't trouble you).

Of all the 'isms' out there, Liberalism is the most poisonous because it destroys the host society.

Hopefully Putin stays in place for a long, long time.

Alex P.

About time you start calling it how it is. Putin owned everyone, and why? Because he is a living legend, the most prolific force of political will. Is he smarter than your western leaders...yes he is. Vladimir Vladimirovich is a force nature, I've been saying this since 2004, I guess people are finally starting to take him more seriously in the West. Everyone should have caught on in Munich 2007.

All the attempted slander and mocking by western press, while he ate your lunch. It was never supposed to be a joke when Putin said that he thrived in all the negative attention.

Enjoy the Putin era.

WyldeWolfe

As ever Nick has it all wrong yet expresses suprise that he and his fellow travelers are being outflanked.

You have a very distorted view of the world Nick. You view everything through the same lense. Your moral compass is inverted.

As nasty as Putin is, and he is nasty, he outflanks you easily as he has been making the sane, and right, choices in most cases.

I actually feel sorry for you. You make good money, I suspect, churning out drivel for the Guardian despite the fact you consistently make the wrong calls.

Maybe it's time to contemplate your values and beliefs.

cactuswizzard

Putin is certainly no saint but he has played a very clever game recently, which to my mind comes from learning from mistakes in the past such as the mighty Russian army screw up ages ago in Afghanistan whereas western big heads such as Obama and Cameron still love to send in troops to countries for mission accomplished jobs that end up achieving nothing but the statements sound good at least in Camerons eyes.......and the weapon manufacturers count the profits.......

certainly with Snowden Putin has hit the coup and its a total master piece because it shows the so called western liberalism and its so called war action for liberating the select part of the middle east (deselecting Saudi Arabia for instance) as a total farce

if Snowden ever gets on a plane again he will no doubt end up in an American Guantamo bay where he will be buried alive to send a clear signal to any other liberal minded person........

its all wonderful for Cameron and Obama to remind the west of the Russian disregard for democracy but it appears after the whole NSA revelations and the reactions by the relevant two governments that state control as well as big business is king and voters irrelevant............


BrazilianMulatto cactuswizzard

whats up with guardian's obsession with Russia? focus on sorting out your own house (UK) before criticising other peoples houses

Your empire is gone...long gone...

RomanianOutsider BrazilianMulatto

It's not Guardian's obsession with Russia.

It is British obsession with Russia.

Pyrrho San Pellegrino
22 December 2013 4:50am
Recommend

318

Cohen just made me like and admire Putin even more.

Syria...broke one of the few taboos limiting man's inhumanity to man by using chemical weapons

How do you know this? The UN chemical weapons team has not yet even concluded who did the attack.

Edward Snowden... under the vigilant eyes of his secret police in Moscow

Every country has a secret police. So what?

he can afford to play the merciful tsar and release dissidents and his former rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

He released a so-called dissent from prison and you're criticizing him for it? He was more like a financial crook, anyway.

Putin is giving every sign that he wants Orthodox Russia to repel the satanic west again.

Watch any MTV or award's-ceremony-type show, and you'll see a staggering amount of satanic symbolism and references. I hope Putin succeeds.

Thanks, Mr Cohen, you've crystalized why Putin is the man for the job, to counterbalance the endless war profiteering and junk celebrity culture coming out of the west.


prof7day

It is very easy to outflank idiots = our leaders:
- our leaders are proven morons
- they have no vision or idea what to do, they jump from one PR blip to another

Our leaders do not lead us or anyone - they allow banksters and perverts to run the societies.

Nokaoi prof7day

Good one.
Micro-Minorities are running the "Dumb Plebs" as they think. They figured by taking money from education they will stupefy the public to the point of trained Chimpanzee bunch. WRONG. Russia proved it wrong twice last century.

LinearBandKeramik prof7day

I have to agree with this. The likes of Putin only look impressive in comparison with decadent Western leaders. I imagine, given the upheavals in Russian society during the last century or so, one has to be pretty ruthless and cunning in order to come to power in that country and stay there any length of time. One also has to be a pretty competent strategic thinker as well.

By contrast, how did the likes of Osbourne and Cameron come to power? Not-too-bright public schoolboys whose role is simply to rubber stamp the demands of the bankers and corporate shareholders feeding on declining wealth of the Western nations, so that it can be stashed away in Caribbean tax havens. The only wonder is why anyone is surprised that the likes of Putin regularly run rings around them.

jimmywalter

Seymour Hearst exposed the lies about Assad and the gas. It came from the rebels, aided by the Saudi's, one of the many dictators that the US, Britain, and France support. The irony is, that he is more capitalistic than the west! Corporations are not democracies, they are greedy dictators who control democracies.

The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from overrating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice overrates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquility of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice."

― Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments


Drewv jimmywalter

The irony is, that he is more capitalistic than the west! Corporations are not democracies, they are greedy dictators who control democracies.

It's not ironic at all. No one should be labouring under the misapprehension today that authoritarianism and capitalism are somehow mutually exclusive. It is patently obvious that capitalism functions much more smoothly in a suspended or hollowed-out democracy. Russia and China are demonstrating the case, and our own leaders are eager students.

monkie jimmywalter

Brian Whitmore of Radio Free Europe quotes Moscow journalists

you know someone has no real case to make when they use the widely discredit radio free europe as a source of anything, the station set up by the cia as a cold war propaganda station, that was used to ferment revolution in eastern europe after the cold war and not afraid to use outright lies if it suited their aims, right up to wrongly claiming a student died during a demonstration that set off the czech "velvet" revolution in earnest.


jimmywalter

Obama executes people and innocent bystanders without trial or public justification. He kidnaps people and tortures them. He let the rulers of the HCSB get away with laundering drug money. Power and strength are tools -they can be used for either good or bad - I see no difference between Putin and the west - both are using them for greed!


exiledoffmainstreet jimmywalter

Putin isn't quite as bad; that is why he is outflanking the morally bankrupt neoliberal crowd.

BruceMullinger

Putin is a standout in world leadership mainly because he hasn't surrendered his country to the nefarious forces of globalisation and political correctness.

Some may consider him a dinosaur in a world awash with supposed progressiveness and enlightenment but history will probably judge him kindly.

Beckow

Incoherent article: sweeping analogies, random name-calling, one-sided historical allusions and over-simplifications. There is a hint of desperation, of die-on-the-barricades breast-beating about some "-isms" that nobody today relates to. And some selective and deceptive minutia about foreign lands that Cohen completely misrepresents - from Syria to Russia, from Obama to Putin.

It is a cry for help. Cohen and his liberal interventionist crowd are done. What they did, didn't work. People don't like them and don't even want to listen to them - thus the ennui displayed by Obama. History will denounce them as both evil and a failure; a rare combination, but one the neo-cons and "humanitarian" interventionist fully deserve.

They like to bomb people in the name of "human rights". They like to decide who lives and who dies, who we can like and who we have to hate, what we are allowed to think and what "will not be tolerated". As they do this, they also always fully support their own tribal interests. Somehow the nauseating hypocrisy doesn't bother them.

Well go off to play with your maps. The world has moved on. In their own way both Putin and Obama put an end to this We should all be thankful....

zanina Beckow

Many recommends. The guy is crying because the West is not bombing more Arabs. Shameful.


TheWorldTraveller

Obama's agenda is every bit as authoritarian as Putin's. It's just the presentation that differs.

exiledoffmainstreet TheWorldTraveller


Obama is far more authoritarian. Compare the sentences dished out to "Pussy Rioters" to those dished out to Manning and other whistle blowers. The yankee constitution is written in pencil these days.

vigorous

I looked at my Johnson's Russia List archives covering 3+ years. Over that time, the author has not placed a single article. To me, that says it all. Either he doesn't do much writing on Russia or the stuff he does do is so out of whack it's deemed unfit for publication, like an Edward Lucas on steroids.

I did run across a rant he was quoted on at Al Jazeera where responses to Pussy Riot were all put together and classified.

As the saying goes, this man's opinion and $2.25 gets me a cuppa at Starbucks.

I hate to be just a shooter of messengers but IMO, this dude has not got the legs to be a messenger on Russia.

Try some other topic, Nick.

usini

To compare the situation in Europe in 1936 with that today in Syria is simply pathetic. It is not Russia China or Iran who are rattling sabres and arming for a war.

The only aggressive power in the Middle East seems to be Saudi Arabia, and that is a chum of the west. They finance terrorism and were instrumental in overthrowing a democratically elected government in Egypt. I didn't hear Mr Cohen and his chums railing against the coup.

Mr Cohen also obviously hopes that his younger readers don't know what that infamous propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe is.

The reasons that western public opinion is against intervention is that most people feel that they were lied to about Iraq, including by people like Mr Cohen and the "liberal interventionists" and they realise that the situations in these countries are far more complex than the neocons like Mr Cohen pretend.

Then there is the cynical use of gay rights as a stick to beat some countries but not others (such as many Caribbean countries).

Finally the greatest humanitarian crisis of this century is in the Congo where some five million have died, but as that is christians killing christians it does not fit the narrative.

Quiescent usini

To call Mr Cohen a 'liberal interventionist' is far too flattering.


californiaroad

Putin may be strong as hell, but I don't think it correct to give him all the credit for Syria. I mean President Obama and Secretary Kerry did make the effort of meeting President Putin and Minister Lavrov half way on stopping short of bombing Syria. I see it as pragmatism on United States part. As for Putin's authority and him being portrayed as the strongest leader in Forbes Magazine, I think we really ought to look at how declined Russia is that it had to elect President Putin for another eight more years. I mean that has to mean something, when one man, one party (United Russia) to carry a nation.

What happens when Putin passes away? All that power and talent dissipates. Will his successor be measured by Putin's shadow? Will the successor be able veil the Crumbling Russian glory and pride by invoking Orthodox Christianity and making increasing military procurement?

Shaukit Sadiq californiaroad

A very pertinent point, and also a very worrying one. Putin may have consolidated all the power for himself, but what will happen when he is no longer around? Successors will have to fill a huge void, the power vacuum will be huge.

It won't end well. Russia didn't too great when Stalin died either.

Quiescent

Lavelle gets it right:

Khodorkovsky was not a prisoner of conscience – he was a criminal who would have been sentenced to life in other jurisdictions for the crimes he committed. Khodorkovsky can hardly have been called a businessman either – he, like other oligarchs during the 1990s, stole, extorted, and even possibly ordered murders when making empires from looted state property. He was also a political fraudster – buying political influence from virtually anyone who would take his dirty money. It was only in prison did Khodorkovsky "find religion" in an attempt to rebrand himself as a man of the people and supporter of democracy.

Not only did Khodorkovsky become Russia's richest man, but he also intended to cash-out and/or make himself even richer (and at the expense of the Russian state and people). No one can deny Khodorkovsky had ambitions. His ambitions became hubris. First, he wanted to sell Yukos to Texas oilmen. Second and against Russian law, he wanted to build a private pipeline to export energy. (Under Russian law, the state has the monopoly right to export energy). Putin, as head of state and protector of the country's sovereignty had no choice – Khodorkovsky and the other oligarchs had to be stopped.

donibristle

It certainly has been Putins / Russia's year.

Lest we forget Nick, we had 8 pints Wullie Hague rushing to war in Syria. Those liberal western democracies wanted to ruin yet another Arab nation and bomb them back to the stoneage.Now we supply Al Qaeda to do the dirty work for us, but Putin has stopped all out war.

Snowden is a hero for freedom loving western democracies. His revelations show that the US , UK et all have sunk to the deepest depths of Hitlers Gestapo. You of all people should know how free the press is ???

Putin was voted in whether you believe their elections were free and fair, but our EU leaders did not give its citizens elections. We just have to put up with what we've got and what they decide for us.

Our Government hides the truth on Iraq, Blair, Lockerbie, Dr Kelly, , supports Dictatorships in Bahrain, Saudi, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, an on and on. If you fear Fascism Nick, look no further than " The City " where Business and Banks tell a kowtowing British Parliament what to do.

Have you never wondered why Al Qaeda conveniently pops up wherever the freedom loving West declares national interests, whether its a pipeline or oil and minerals in the ground ?

In comparison to our leaders, Putin as short as he is, towers above them all

DuncanMcFarlane

I have no time for Putin, he is a dictator, but comparing the Syrian rebels to the anti-fascist forces in the Spanish civil war is utterly ludicrous. The main rebel groups in Syria are Al Nusrah (Syrian wing of Al Qa'ida), Al Qa'ida in Iraq, the Syrian Islamic Front (Jihadists only marginally lesss extreme than Al Qa'ida) and the Free Syrian Army, which, as many experts on Syria and even FSA fighters have pointed out, only exists on paper and is mostly made up of radical Sunni Islamist/Jihadists - and again only slightly less extreme than Al Qa'ida and including many sectarian murderers and torturers. Many FSA fighters (who are almost all Sunni Jihadists) even say Alawites can't be civilians and are all legitimate targets.

And the arms the Saudis, with the aid of NATO countries including the US and UK, sent to the SIF have already got into the hands of Al Nusrah/Al Qa'ida.

Stop making the ridiculous comparison with the Spanish Civil War Nick. There is no good side in Syria and the sooner you and Aaronovitch stop pretending there is the better. Arming the rebels is only getting more civilians tortured and murdered by both sides.

Shaukit Sadiq DuncanMcFarlane

Excellent post. Replacing one blood thirsty mob with another is not 'progress'.

schnozi

Not sure if anyone else has commented on an interesting curveball development over the last few days.

Israel has just joined the Customs Union with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus etc.

Yes, that's right. The same one that some people in Ukraine are getting exercised about.

I haven't seen this reported in English language media at all.
But here is a link in English http://abc.az/eng/news/78113.html

This was around the same time that Khodorkovsy was getting released, which has pretty much dominated xUSSR coverage over the last couple of days.

This doesn't really fit the current narrative about the Customs Union, does it?

merlin2

I can't believe that Cohen continues to propagate the libelious accusation that it was Syria's government that perpetrated the CW attack in Ghoutta. By now everybody who is anybody, including most in the US government, have seen that this was a false Flag operation, one for which ample proof exists. yes, it's embarrassing to come out and admit the truth but surely mr. Cohen would at least have the gumption to equivocate?

As for Putin, yes, it's funny that it'd take someone like Putin, not example a liberal leftists, to do that which self-professed "leftists" and pretend -progressives couldn't. Whether it's saving Syria from the saudi Arabian Jihadists (and assorted western supporters of terror), or save Ukraine from the clutches of the IMF (which will no doubt require the kind of austerity the greek people have become all too familiar with), or to help Obama deal more constructively with Iran, even in the face of enormous pressure from the settler state and its western minions.

And if it takes someone like Putin to rescue the corporatist west from its worst interventionist and neoliberal/feudal instincts, what does it say about the strength of more principled opposition in the west? does such even exist any more in any organized fashion?

Quiescent

Putin is a follower of central European Staatsraison, an admirably Western idea first developed by Machiavelli and further developed by nineteenth century German thought. It may have its authoritarian side but the West spies, tortures and kills illegally so that is more than slightly authoritarian as well.

adamsmith123 Quiescent

Putin is a follower of central European Staatsraison, an admirably Western idea first developed by Machiavelli and further developed by nineteenth century German thought.

With you mate but let us know how you going to describe Obama, Cameron and Netanyahu. Mighty Archangels?

BruceThrillis

Vladimir Putin is probably one of the greatest leaders in the world. Far from perfect, especially domestically, but he has done more for world peace in recent years than any other nation. You may disagree with some of his views, but by and large he genuinely loves his country, and he stands between ultra-nationalists gaining power in Russia. Other world leaders could learn a thing or two from Putin.

frado_13

an article of unashamed propaganda. The West is run by clowns and puppets of the Internationalists and Money Power who themselves pay lip service to freedom of speech and who are behind all the various wars and revolutions of the 20th century aided by their lackies in the mainstream media.

Nokaoi

God that putin Outflanked the Western Click of Plutocrats, "Religious" bigots, Long sold off "Liberals" and so called Politicians - the bureaucratic rubble - working for cheap to insure that few people are making money either way the humanity may turn.

It is all going in ridiculously unfair way in the Western Hemisphere and you don't have to be Mandela to win the people over that bunch of pathetic suckers.

chikwanda

The difference between Putin and Obama, is that Putin is a nationalist patriot.

1) Putin does not make indebted serfs out of his citizens, forcing them to pay back trillions of dollars in national debt. Loans are made with terms, conditions and with pledges of assets or services as collateral.

2) Putin does not sign environmental and free trade treaties deleterious to the industry and prosperity of his countrymen.

3)Putin does not surrender sovereignty of his nation to foreign bureaucrats of the UN or EU .

4) Putin is not an indebted , subservient Janissary to the Sunni oil sheiks of Qatar and Saudi Arabia who have been sponsoring wahabbi jihadist attacks on Americans, Hindus, Christians and Africans since the USS Cole and Mogadishu

5) Putin is not a vassal to Tel Aviv/Manhattan and too the "too big to fail" bail out recipients who also control the FED, IMF, World Bank, Goldman Sachs and its subsidiary-The US Treasury. Putin has the courage and will to stand against what he believes is wrong and has the will to try and fight for what is right.

westmoreland22

Putin tried to protect the Christians in Syria. I am not shrugging. I am glad that supporters of ethnic cleansing such as the writer have failed.

Unlike Britain's depleted uranium and Israel's white phosphorus, there is no evidence Assad ever used chemical weapons.

So Obama backed away from confrontation. What does the author want, World War III? This one will be nuclear.


Strollinby

Outflanking the west at every turn? Hardly. Couple of tokenistic prison releases, of people who pose no real threat (is pussy riot), or who can be neutralised as a political threat by pushing out of the country (VK and the Arctic 30). Smart politics, as western media is preoccupied with tokenistic gestures.

Snowden? He was already there. Asylum allowed him a simultaneous "up yours" to the west, and to keep snowden as an ace up the sleeve. It was moderate political smarts; he'd have to be a fool not to see the chance. VP is no fool - pollies at the top seldom are. (Exception: Mr ' clown shoes' Rabbit PM of Australia)


MajorGeek Strollinby

Smart politics, as western media is preoccupied with tokenistic gestures.

Speaking of token gestures, has it ever occurred to you that homosexual marriage is used by the West as such? It is a useful smokescreen to divide populations in order to deflect attention from more important economic issues which go unaddressed.

In the list of priorities, economic stability, a reduction of the income gap, freedom of speech and the press, privacy, sanitization of the banking system, fight against corruption, youth employment, to name but a few are much more important issues than marriage, whether homosexual or heterosexual.

Before anyone starts barking at the wrong tree, I'm all in favour of gay rights and opposed to discrimination in all its forms but let's get real for a moment. Marriage is a superficial issue when compared to essential ones dealing with putting food on one's plate, dignity, privacy and freedom. It's actually optional, as many couples live without the need to get married, and could disappear tomorrow without making a bit of difference to how we run our lives.

We are manipulated into debating same-sex marriage while an abortion law is being rolled back in Spain, which has much more impact on the well-being of individuals. Rather than supporting a deeply irrelevant right (marriage), we should instead focus on fighting gay discrimination which actually affects people's lives much more drastically than the ability to slip a ring on one's finger.

Tintin1

It was not just that Hitler and Mussolini had no qualms about "illiberal intervention" in Spain, any more than Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia have qualms about illiberal intervention in Syria today.

Whereas your illegal invasions of iraq and bombings of other countries that result in the deaths of hundreds and thousands are 'liberal interventions'. I'm not kidding, that distinction really eludes me.

tr1ck5t3r

"Putin has managed to protect his client dictatorship in Syria – even after it broke one of the few taboos limiting man's inhumanity to man by using chemical weapons".

Which is worse? Death by chemical weapon or a slow slow painful death from cancer or a substantially poor quality of life due to exposure of depleted uranium?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/oct/13/world-health-organisation-iraq-war-depleted-uranium

Atomist Keo2008

Yours is a selective, if even a 'reading' of history.

The Munich pact was in 1938 (the bible of appeasement). So Stalin's appeasement was a retaliatory measure. The allies were happy with Hitler attacking USSR. Guess who the US was selling arms to then? The Allies fought Hitler only when they were forced to. Opposition to Hitler was not a priority, destruction of USSR was. Suffering of civilians of other countries has never been their concern till date. Profit and power has been their motives. What makes its worse is that they try covering it up with democracy, human rights…..

Read in this light, accepting the logic that they could not reach Poland is at best an excuse for their delay, or their military incompetence.

Futile intervention in Norway was preceded by over two months of crucial non-intervention. They were perhaps deciding on the real value of Swedish ore for them!

Russia ( it was USSR then) chose Stalinism!! Ha ha. I am sure you think they held a referendum. Stalinism- centralization and dictatorship- was a two-edged sword. Centralization helped build economic and military power back from the destruction that the western powers were indirectly responsible for. I hope you remember that the USSR suffered the biggest losses as percentages of population and economy. They also won the war for the allies (remember Stalingrad?).

The liberal west is the one largely responsible for the return of religion and authoritarianism today in Russia. Just as they are in most other parts of the world. Supporting religious fundamentalists and pliant autocrats everywhere. More of them will soon be visible in central asia soon, now that the west is running after resources there.
If my reading of history is peculiar, yours is both ignorant and hypocritical.

outer

The idea that giving weapons to the rebels or creating a no-fly zone would improve the humanitarian situation in Syria was always rubbish, even before Al-Qaeda became the dominant rebel ideology. You don't improve the lives of ordinary citizens in a country by helping armed gangs destroy their government.

Putin wants to lead a world movement of social conservatism - fair enough, it's his right to do so, if people outside his country want to listen to him, it's their own free will. We don't have to agree with his views, but competition in the field of ideas is a good thing.

BryanHemming

Cohen manages to get one unproven allegation and an unwarranted accusation across in his first paragraph.

At times you could be forgiven for thinking he was writing for a politically-motivated state organ the way he twists language to get his own opinions across, while masquerading as an impartial observer.

Putin has managed to protect his client dictatorship in Syria – even after it broke one of the few taboos limiting man's inhumanity to man by using chemical weapons.

Seymour Hersh, one of the most respected journalists in the US, threw serious doubts on the claims that Assad was responsible for the sarin attacks in Syria only the other day. He was not the first. Nevertheless, despite all his painstaking research, Hersh was very careful not go so far as to absolve the Syrian government, or its forces. In his article he states there is no conclusive evidence, but there is evidence that al Nusra, the extremist Muslim faction in the conflict, possessed all the ingredients and equipment to manufacture and deliver sarin. Most of all, they also had a strong motive. Cohen ignores this side of the argument completely, yet offers no evidence.

There are many others who doubt whether Assad was responsible. But, just as with the Iraq war, Cohen knows best, and spreads his poisonous bile like butter on hot toast, knowing how quickly they will be soaked up.

He has Edward Snowden, perhaps the most damaging leaker in recent history, under the vigilant eyes of his secret police in Moscow.

This is simple malice. Whereas most journalists have described Snowden as a whistleblower, including those at The Guardian, Cohen has decided to accuse him of being 'perhaps the most damaging leaker'.

Noticeably, he doesn't accuse Alan Rusbridger, his own editor, of the same crime even though it was he, not Snowden, who first leaked the documents publicly.
Logically, any potential damage caused would have to have been caused by this very newspaper.

I hesitate to speculate who else he regards as damaging leakers, but I'll bet my bottom dollar it won't be the paper that pays his salary.

Does Cohen really regard Snowden as worse than Kim Philby, Donald Mclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt?

Throwing accusations around like this says more about Cohen's petty and vindictive nature than it does about the people he deliberately attempts to tarnish with his nasty sideswipes.

Jiri

Putin has mightily pissed you off hasn't he?

But it is not his fault. He is in the position that he is, by default, and not by any being any more clever or wittier than the opposition.

Take Syria- You are assuming that the US/UK wanted to bomb Syria and that Putin somehow prevented this. The facts do not support this. The British House of Commons decided not to have a military engagement in Syria. Did Putin and the Russian government lobby MPs to persuade them otherwise? Did he bribe them? Threaten them? Blackmail them? I don't think so. They voted of their own free will. So why are you giving Putin the credit (or debit) for what happened?

Similarly for the US. There was (is) nothing to stop the Obama attacking Syria on behalf of his allies. How did Putin stop Obama? Did he threaten to bomb the US if the US had their way in Syria? I very much doubt it. The worst that he seems to have done is write an article in the New York Times and also probably told the US that it was not a good idea to bomb Syria. How does that make Obama look like a conman's stooge? The US could have and still take the military option in Syria as they have done in Libya and other places. What can Putin do? Make a few speeches? Bang his shoe on the table? Why blame (or praise) Putin for a policy the the US chose to take?

Similarly with Ukraine- The EU offered a deal and the Russians offered a better deal. It is still open for the EU to offer a better deal. It is only a matter of a few bilion Euros. Britain on its own could buy off the Ukraine, never mind the EU.

Don't see why you are fretting.

peekaboo

Homophobia, the authoritarianism of the religious right – are these not the very vices that Obama and his "progressive" supporters have dedicated their lives to fighting?

Obama's anti-homophobia when applied abroad is mainly there to advance a political agenda

he derided the liberal west as "genderless and infertile"

well we are subjected to propaganda that says that women should be mimicking men

fairleft

Yup, Putin is 3 for 3 outflanking the West:

1. Prevents a repeat of Libya: U.S. air war, thousands of casualties, and Al Qaeda victory in Syria.
2. Keeps Ed Snowden free to expose the real issue of the day, the NSA and other Western spy agencies' total surveillance state.
3. Persuades Ukraine to stay out of the EU's neoliberal austerity-ism.

Not surprisingly, Cohen's politically correct anti-Putin screed mentions none of the preceding. Instead it focuses on every issue the masters of the West don't give a d-mn about.

UralMan

When Ukraine seemed close to reaching agreement with the EU, an advertising campaign, apparently financed by an oligarch close to Putin, warned that joining Europe meant allowing gay marriage. Fear of queers was used to keep Ukrainians in line.

Just trying to make sure that I understand it right. So, Ukrainians turned to Russia out of fear of queers – the fear caused by few advertising posters, no less. This frankly shows them as a bunch of idiots. And yet just few days prior to that the West was pulling out all stops to sign up such a bunch as its ally. I see...

Eastwestdivan

What ill informed rubbish. Cohen is so lazy that he cannot even be bothered to scan the websites for half an hour before he writes his tedious nonsense.

Putin is a canny politician who has to give Russians something they have desperately been deprived of since the end of the USSR: minimum social and political security, a sense that their country is not in the hands of buffoons in the obvious pay of the West. He has succeeded in that. As for his Tsarist conservatism, he makes some gestures to that school of opinion in Russia but has also very significantly rehabilitated the Soviet record in many ways. Not many days go by without the Russian president praising the USSR in one way or another - sometimes in the most fulsome way. Lenin remains honoured and Putin recently compared him to the saints of the Orthodox Church to the fury of some believers of that outfit.

Putin is an intelligent man who far surpasses most Western leaders in sophistication and common sense and he represents a Russia increasingly happy with its Soviet heritage. This makes Western hysterical anticommunists like Cohen retch but long may they do so. It is a lovely sound.

Eastwestdivan

Everyday that Russians realise what the West is about they become more reconciled with their Soviet past. I have a Russian friend who used to be a pro-democracy enthusiast in the nineteen eighties. Now he tells me if he had known what the West really stands for he would have fought Gorbachev with a gun. He is not a rare type in Russia. I told Sergei: Did we not tell you the Americans are blankety blankers? Yes, sighs Sergei: If only we were wiser!

Cusperi

In their quest for regime change (for greedy mercantile reasons as well as those of Zionist-enablement) the West struck the sectarian match in Syria from the very beginning, encouraging and aiding Islamists to enter the country to kill people (It was the same in Iraq). Turkey played an enormous role (NATO member) and close US ally Saudi has never stopped playing the largest role in destabilising Syria.

The West's mission in the Middle East since 2000 has been to topple as many secular stable Governments (and I know Assad was not perfect, but that is no excuse to provoke this genocidal war) as possible and spread Sunni Islamist terror throughout the region, and they have had a huge amount of success.

Putin does deserve credit for his loyalty to the last few Governments which stand against the horrific truth of the NATO-Al Qaeda entente in the Middle East.

LaughableButaneBob

The xenophilia shown towards Putin and Russia by commenters here is prostate powered

Eastwestdivan

Cohen's trademark is the bastardisation of leftwing motifs to suit an extreme rightwing cause. Talk of the valour of the International Brigades in Spain being used to land the West into supporting the emerging Israeli-Saudi alliance in the Middle East.

Notice how careful he is to avoid targeting the Saudis. He knows which side his bread is buttered.

lordtruth

In some respects Putin does run rings around the west This is because despite the sick demonising nonsense pumped out by the Western media,his mind is actually far more flexible than the mindset of the Wests leading power, the United States.

The USA operates within very narrow policy guidelines . These are ,that socialism and nationalism must be destroyed at all costs That is because they prevent Americas Wall Street from essentially buying up the world

There is no greater fury than a Wall Street investment broker scorned.

This policy is of course disastrous for the world. It provides the advantages of greedy profit with none of the responsibilities of for example British colonialism that for all the criticism thrown at it ,actually advanced colonial countries on a western forward path.

With America you just get ruthless greed followed by a wrecked nation....but Americans dont worry about that...

Its interesting that America is now trying to destroy or damage the Olympics with its obsession over Russias apparent restrictions relating to homosexuality. I have a few homosexual friends yet in all my senevty eight years ,for most of that time the overwhelming majority of British people regarded physical male homosexuality with absolute revulsion.Times sure have changed ....or have they......

Regarding Russia ....Americans and the west might like to learn something about that nation...
When I first went to live in Eastern Europe I was shocked and embarrassed by the huge amount of male kissing that went on.

Every time my wife and I went to a social gathering ,huge men would throw their arms around me and kiss my face passionately... It was difficult not to be kissed on the mouth...Even more awkward was being kissed by ten year old boys eagerly urged on by their parents...Incidentally I should tell you that the kisses of young boys are quite different to those of girls...they taste of beef burgers and fizzy cola sweets..

It took me several years to finally get the message across that in the west we just shake hands warmly.

Where does this mania for kissing come from.? I believe it comes from the long winters when, if you are out and about you welcome anyone,any stranger etc with a „thank God theres someone alive out here..." Perhaps in the future astronauts will do the same..
Russias legal changes are merely to keep this warm loving Russian/East European practice from being tainted with sexuality...Thats all it is..

Meanwhile lets hope Putin gets back all the Russian assets that were sold off so crookedly and cheaply in the fire sale that followed the end of communisn

Russia's Gay Rights Groups Want More Olympic Committee Pressure

12/11/2013

NEW YORK, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Russian gay rights advocates called for increased pressure on the International Olympic Committee ahead of the 2014 winter games in Sochi in light of Russia's anti-gay laws, telling a gathering on Wednesday that anti-gay violence is increasing.

Russia has come under mounting human rights criticism internationally since passing an anti-gay propaganda law earlier this year that opponents contend curtails the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the country.

Panelists at a Human Rights Watch-sponsored event at New York's Empire State Building cited what they said is a disturbing trend in which homophobes lure gay men through online dating sites into videotaped humiliation and beatings.

"It's a green light for nationalistic groups to make violence against LGBT people," Maria Kozlovskaya, a program manager at the Russian LGBT Network, said of the Russian law.

The advocates said there is a need to increase pressure against the International Olympic Committee to speak out against the conditions of human rights in the country. The games, the first to be held in Russia since 1980, are scheduled to run Feb. 7 to 23.

A number of movements supporting Russian LGBT people have recently launched in the United States. Singer Melissa Ethridge and a host of celebrities -- including James Franco, Edward Norton and Madonna -- launched Uprising of Love, an awareness campaign on International Human Rights Day on Tuesday.

An LGBT sports group, Athlete Ally, began a movement called Principle 6 -- referring to the Olympic charter provision banning discrimination -- with support from Olympians and professional athletes in the United States. Tennis star Andy Roddick and the National Basketball Association's first openly gay player, Jason Collins, are among those listed as supporters.

"What is important for us is to not turn this campaign into a campaign against Russia," said Anastasia Smirnova, coordinator at the Russian LGBT Network. "It is a campaign for equality. It is a campaign that promotes the idea of human dignity for LGBT people in Russia, but it is not a campaign against the country."

European Union Commissioner Viviane Reding said on Tuesday she would not attend the games "as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation."

Attempting to dampen international backlash, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October that gays would be welcome in Sochi. The International Olympic Committee announced earlier this week that Russia would set up protest zones at the games. (Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie Adler)

[Aug 03, 2013] Somewhere Over The Rainbow: The West Calls The Gay To Arms Against Russia by marknesop

Uncle Volodya says, "Human beings, who are almost unique in their ability to learn from experience, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
August 2, 2013 | The Kremlin Stooge

Somewhere over the rainbow
nonsense rules; boycotting vodka, a gay intifada
and playing us all for fools

Once upon a time, your ranking within the western freedom-and-democracy club was a reflection of how much you loved Israel. Suddenly, in a bizarre turn of events that has getting-even-for-Edward-Snowden written all over it, the metric has shifted to how much you love homosexuals. And Russia – unsurprisingly – is the center of a circle of pointing fingers as the homophobic flavour-of-the-year, because of what western media insists on referring to as its "anti-gay law".

Sniffing the heady aroma of empowerment, the gay community was quick to react. Gay bars from Vancouver to London to Chicago to San Francisco have vowed to remove Russian vodka brands from their shelves. Gays of the world, unite to free your oppressed Russian brothers and sisters!!

It's hard to overstate how stupid this all is, and you could be forgiven for being a little weary of it, because you've seen it before: in the embarrassing and much-ridiculed "Freedom Fries" fiasco. Back then, the target was France, because its surrender-monkey government would not climb on board the Get Iraq bandwagon. Just for fun, a blast from the past, would you like to see an excerpt from the speech made before the U.N by senior French surrender-monkey Dominique de Villepin, in a desperate attempt to put the brakes on the idiot train before it jumped the tracks? Allons-y, mes amis.

"To those who believe that war would be the quickest way to disarm Iraq, I say it would establish gulfs and create wounds that are long in healing. And how many victims, how many grieving families?

We do not subscribe to what may be the other objectives of a war.

Is it a matter of regime change in Baghdad? No one underestimates the cruelty of this dictatorship and the need to do everything possible to promote human rights. That is not the objective of UNSCR 1441. And force is certainly not the best way to bring about democracy. It would encourage dangerous instability, there and elsewhere. Is it a matter of fighting terrorism? War would only increase it, and we could then be faced with a new wave of violence. Let us beware of playing into the hands of those who want a clash of civilizations, a clash of religions.

Or is it, finally, a matter of reshaping the political landscape of the Middle East? In that case, we run the risk of exacerbating tensions in a region already marked by great instability. Not to mention that in Iraq itself, the large number of communities and religions already constitutes a risk of a potential break-up. We all have the same demands: more security, more democracy. But there is another approach beside that of force, another path, other solutions.

We understand the profound sense of insecurity with which the American people have been living since the tragedy of 11 September 2001. The entire world shared the sorrow of New York and of America, struck in the heart. I say this in the name of our friendship for the American people, in the name of our common values: freedom, justice, tolerance.

But there is nothing today that indicates a link between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaida. And will the world be a safer place after a military intervention in Iraq? I want to tell you what my country's conviction is: no."

Was he right? Damn skippy he was, right as rain on every point. But America went ahead with the "Freedom Fries" dunce's opera anyway. There are not too many people in the Anglosphere today who remember that as other than the epic piece of stupidity it was. But the point is, when you burn your fingers on a hot stove, it is supposed to foster an instinct in you that will prevent it from happening again.

Have we learned anything? Apparently not.

Would you like to see the law that has vested so much clout in international gayness that banning vodka is going global, and has miffed cities – hard to imagine the childishness, I know – severing their "twin" relationships with Russian cities? All right, then.

The Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences (Collection of Laws of the Russian Federation, 2002, No. 1, Article 1, No. 30 et al.) shall be amended as follows:

1) add Article 6.13.1 reading as follows:

"Article 6.13.1. Propaganda of homosexuality among minors

Propaganda of homosexuality among minors -

is punishable by an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of four thousand to five thousand rubles; for officials –forty thousand to fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities – four hundred thousand to five hundred thousand rubles";

2) in Article 28.3, Section2, Clause 1 figures "6.13" shall be changed to "6.13.1".

President of the Russian Federation

EXPLANATORY NOTE
to the Draft Federal Law "On Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences"

Propaganda of homosexuality in Russia took a wide sweep. This propaganda is delivered both through the media and through active social actions that promote homosexuality as a behavioral norm. It is especially dangerous for children and youth who are not yet capable of a critical attitude to the avalanche of information that falls upon them every day. In this regard, it is necessary to primarily protect the younger generation from the effects of homosexual propaganda, and the present bill pursues this goal.

Family, motherhood and childhood in the traditional, adopted from the ancestors understanding are the values ​​that provide a continuous change of generations and serve as a condition for the preservation and development of the multinational people of the Russian Federation, and therefore they require special protection from the state.

Legitimate interests of minors are an important social value, with the goal of the public policy toward children being to protect them from the factors that negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual,and moral development. Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Federal Law № 124-FZ of24.07.1998 "On Basic Guarantees of Child Rights in the Russian Federation" directly states the obligation of public authorities of the Russian Federation to take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigning that harm their health and moral and spiritual development.

In this connection it is necessary to establish measures to ensure intellectual, moral and mental security of children, including the prohibition onto perform any act aimed at the promotion of homosexuality. By itself, the prohibition of such propaganda as an activity of purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of the information that could harm the health and moral and spiritual development, as well as form misconceptions about the social equivalence of conventional and unconventional sexual relationships, among individuals who, due to their age, are not capable to independently and critically assess such information cannot be regarded as violating the constitutional rights of citizens.

Given the above, a bill suggesting amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences was prepared to introduce administrative responsibility for propaganda of homosexuality among minors. In this case, administrative responsibility is established not for the sheer fact of the person's homosexuality, but only for propaganda of homosexuality among minors.

This bill imposes the right to make records of administrative offences for public actions aimed at propaganda of homosexuality among minors on the law enforcement officials (the Police), and trial of cases of administrative offences– on the judges.

Please note – this law does not, in any way, prohibit adults from being gay, or being seen to be gay. You'll see why that's important in a minute. It introduces administrative punishments – fines – for the promotion of homosexuality as a behavioral norm to a minor child. In Russia, that means anyone aged 16 and under. The explanatory notes are at pains to point out "administrative responsibility is established not for the sheer fact of the person's homosexuality, but only for propaganda of homosexuality among minors."

Since this anti-gay law has so infuriated homosexuals all over the world, only two possibilities exist – (1) they have not actually read it, and have no real idea what it says, but are content to follow mob rule because the empowerment is too exciting for them to bother considering they may be advocating from a position of ignorance, or (2) they demand the right to market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to children aged 16 and under. Because behavior other than that is defensibly not against the law.

Own it, my gay brothers and sisters – which is it?

I'd be interested to hear why gay people demand the right of access to minors. Kids 16 years old and under are still in school. Do they need to learn The Gay Way for purposes of basic sex education? Why? What does where you intend to stick your penis have to do with learning how to put on a condom correctly? Kids already learn it; after that, it's pretty much point and push. Is it to protect them from sexually-transmitted diseases? Already part of the focus of basic sex education. To protect them against unwanted pregnancy? Ha, ha. Is it to teach them tolerance, so they will not pick on gay people when they get older? Schoolchildren already learn that it is wrong to discriminate against people because they look, act or worship differently, and there have been far fewer suicides of Russian schoolchildren over anti-gay bullying than there have been in western countries; they must be doing something right.

I doubt that persons of the same gender holding hands or exchanging low-key demonstrations of affection is going to be regarded as "homosexual propaganda". Unless perhaps the two are schoolteachers at work in school, in which case no public demonstrations of affection – whether homosexual or heterosexual – are permitted. But say it's on a city bus, where minors are present. Do you really think if two women on the bus are holding hands, a SWAT team is going to smash in the windows and drag them away? Come on. However, if they're playing sloppy tonsil-hockey in front of everyone, that is offensive to a broad spectrum of society and simply being gay does not grant you absolution from responsibility to behave respectably in public. Elderly people still have a functioning sex drive, too, and are an identifiable social group. Grandpa and Grandma sitting on a bus seat together holding hands – no problem. Grandpa with his tongue down Grandma's throat and his arm up her skirt like he's prospecting for gold – big problem. Perhaps I'm getting the wrong impression, but it seems to me that gay-rights advocates are crusading for the right to behave with complete hedonism in public. And if there is a group that loves to act out in public more than homosexuals do, it must be the Stratford Theatre.

The law says you may not market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to minor children. Well, is it? If homosexuality is natural and normal, why can't homosexuals reproduce naturally? If it were natural and normal, there would be only one sex, and it would blaze out in a single generation, or it would be capable of high-function asexual reproduction or we would all be born hermaphrodites, a plug-and-play species. Since none of those conditions prevail, I believe we must conclude that homosexuality is not the normal or natural state – and, furthermore, that it is a state at which humanity arrived all by itself, without input at the drawing-board by The Creator.

That notwithstanding, it must be acknowledged that the gay community has provided the world some of its finest playwrights, poets, artists, performers and philosophers – in fact, due to the late closeted nature of homosexuality, imposed upon it by revulsion and persecution in decades past, it is very likely the gay community provided the world with giants in every field of endeavor, but their sexuality was a puzzle-piece which remained undiscovered. For that, it is owed a debt of gratitude, and at the very least homosexuality must be regarded as a reality that is not going to be discorporated, frightened, wished or legislated away.

Understand me – I get that love is love, and I'm not arguing you should deny the call of your heart if that's what you really feel, just because some of society disapproves. The same resistance was encountered by interracial relationships, and nobody thinks anything of that any more. But a law which restricts pitching homosexuality to minor children is not unreasonable. Neither is teaching basic sex education in schools pitching heterosexuality. It is focused on preventing sexually-transmitted disease – which is a concern for homosexuals as well – and preventing unwanted pregnancy, which is not. It is not disadvantaging homosexuals, and it is not anti-gay.

Which is why it is particularly disappointing to listen to the coded rhetoric of Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, as he "blasted Russia's hateful anti-gay law". Mr. Baird and others allegedly "raised concerns" both before and after the signing of the law, which suggests that Mr. Baird is well aware of exactly what the law says – God knows politicians should all have learned by now not to blather about issues on which they know nothing. Therefore, he knows the law applies only to the propagandizing of homosexuality to minor children, which is those 16 years old and younger. There are all sorts of red herrings, such as that gay Olympic athletes may be arrested, and that simple displays of affection such as holding hands or displaying the rainbow flag are now banned. Really? Show me. No specific examples of "homosexual propaganda" have ever been provided – activists complained the meaning was not clearly defined. Homosexuality has been legal in Russia since 1993 – 10 years before it was legal in the United States, and even that was pushed through only in the shocked aftermath of the gruesome torture murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

Policymakers are knowingly misrepresenting the Russian law, and gays are responding unthinkingly, because they perceive an outpouring of western support for gay rights which is, in fact, an illusion. The gay are simply being used as a battering ram to put pressure on Russia, because the west has no other way.

I mean, there's no appetite for a gay boycott of oil, is there? Think you can get gay people to stop using any means of gasoline-powered transport, and convince them to put on a sweater instead of turning on any non-electric heat? After all, Russia is the world's largest energy producer. But that will never happen, because three of the USA's top five companies are oil companies. Oh, and Saudi Arabia is a close ally. Where, incidentally, the penalty for any same-sex activity is death, or life imprisonment; you pays your money and you takes your chances.

I mentioned earlier that Milan, Venice and Turin had severed their "twin" relationships with Russian cities in outrage over the "anti-gay law". However, Milan remains twinned with Dakar, Senegal, where any same-sex activity is illegal and punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Turin remains twinned with Kazerun, Iran, where any same-sex activity is illegal and punishable by death. Venice had only two twins; since it dumped St Petersburg in a show of solidarity that likely had the gay community in tears of emotion, it now has only one – Esfahan, Iran. Yeah, that's right. Give me sodomy, or give me death.

Stolichnaya vodka, often referred to as "Stoli" by regular vodka drinkers, is the target of choice in the gay purge of Russian vodka. It's actually made by two different companies; the one which markets the vodka being pulled from gay bars in Canada and the United States is really made by SPI Group, a company based in Luxembourg. The CEO, Val Mendeleev, says, "the Russian government has no ownership, interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group."

Oh, look; New York City gay bartenders dumping Stoli on the street, in a gay symbolic protest in front of the Russian consulate. I'm sure that will hurt their feelings, since it was bottled in Latvia and made by a private Luxembourg company. That's OK, the Latvians do not need jobs, it's a very wealthy country. Yes, I was being sarcastic – the per-capita GDP in Latvia was just a little over $5,000.00 a year in 2012. Additionally, the gay community in Latvia begs the world not to boycott Stolichnaya – not just because it is only tenuously Russian, but because gay Latvians fear a backlash of hatred will be directed against them.

And here, in another of those weird double exposures, is a story about Young Americans For Freedom gathering at the French consulate in New York City in 2003, to pour French wine into the gutter. Freedom fries, anyone? Incidentally, the CATO Institute pointed out at the time that boycotting French wines would hurt California manufacturers, because they would have to lower their prices to get under the artificially-depressed price of French wines. But damn, a boycott sure feels good, doesn't it? We're doin' something!!

Those who are fond of pretzel logic, riddle me this: how did we get to a point where the Russian Orthodox Church's lack of support for the unrestricted freedom of homosexuality is an intolerable restraint which requires an international gay assault to overcome it….cheered on by the political class and press of the country in which the penultimate president was elected with the enthusiastic support of evangelical voters? George W. Bush carried every state in which there was a significant Southern Baptist presence. You better believe religion mattered then, oh, yes, and the newly-elected president was quick to reward those who had helped him: with the establishment of the National Day of Prayer, the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, and the re-imposition of the gag rule with regard to abortion services in American foreign aid. You remember the Southern Baptists – they're the ones the religious press was talking about back then when they said, "When we talk to evangelicals about political issues, we actually hear them talk much more about gay marriage than about abortion. It's not that they're not concerned about abortion. But it's like people have been fighting that battle for a long time. Everyone knows this script. There's a sense that if there's going to be movement in one direction or another, it's going to be relatively minor…Whereas with gay marriage, there's a feeling that they've just gotten hit with a tidal wave, and that society as they know it, and as they think it should be, is being destroyed rapidly. It's urgent. It's an emergency. And something has to be done about it." Mmm hmm. Gay marriage is going to destroy society. That's right there at home, folks, if you're not too busy boycotting Russian products to punish them for not being sufficiently welcoming of homosexual rights to chat up minor children.

In case you've forgotten, it was the ultra-radical Westboro Baptist Church which picketed the funeral – the fucking funeral, if you can believe it – of Matthew Shepard, carrying signs that read "No Tears For Queers", and "Fag Matt Burns In Hell", and others which featured crude stick figures in sexual positions. The Supreme Court upheld the church's right to free speech. Just in case the sublety of that point slipped by you, let me re-frame it – it is apparently fine for the U.S. Supreme Court to legislate against gay rights in the interests of the majority who are not gay – in any event, it has not inspired a gay boycott of black robes and oak paneling. When Russia legislates in a manner which is even perceived to champion the rights of the majority – and 16.5% of the Russian population is 14 and under, I find it hard to believe a higher percentage of Russians are homosexual – it's simply unacceptable. The Westboro Baptist Church is a hero to websites like godhatesfags, which described Shepard as someone who "…lived a Satanic lifestyle [and] got himself killed trolling for anonymous homosexual sex in a bar at midnight."

But I don't want to interrupt your high-fiving each other for how you're bringing Russia to its knees.

Western policymakers, and the mainstream press which are their mouthpiece, are encouraging militant gay activism by hyping the vodka boycott to make it seem larger and more effective by far than it actually is, at the same time they are pushing gays and gay-rights activists toward demanding a boycott of the Sochi Olympics so that it will appear to them it was their own idea. Drunk with imagined success and tingling with imagined acceptance, the gay community thus far is going along with it even better than the initiators could have hoped. There is no broad support, politically or otherwise, for an Olympic boycott, and the athletes at least want nothing to do with it. But if a powerful special-interest group could develop support based on the narrative that Russia must be punished for its barbarity, and sacrifices must be made for the greater good…

For what it's worth, I don't believe the manipulators seriously think they're going to be able to achieve a total boycott. But I believe they would happily settle for gay activism turning the Sochi Olympics into one gigantic rainbow protest. And it is this that would do the most damage, because the authorities would have to react and there would doubtless be incidents which would be spun as a brutal authoritarian crackdown on human rights, with bonus negative publicity for Russia while creating a distraction which would see the protests remembered as the defining story of the 2014 Olympics rather than any feats of athletic achievement.

The gay community thus far is happy to cooperate – delirious with excitement, in fact – by boycotting vodka which is neither made in or owned by Russia. A state of near hysteria prevails over a law perceived to discriminate against homosexuals which specifies in its text that no administrative penalty may accrue to anyone simply because they are gay. The same gay community which claims to yearn for autonomy, to be treated like everyone else, is gathering itself for an assault on Russia because it will not allow gay people to have a parade… which advertises their difference.

Gay activists who were truly focused on strategy and advancement of gay rights would know enough to demand up-front compensation of the policymakers in the form of domestic reforms at home, rather than running about waving rainbows and shouting down a law they do not understand. But the string-pullers know their weakness, and they dangle in front of gays an opportunity to scream in the face of everyone who ever called them fag or dyke or pansy or queer. The sad thing is that illusory arm around the shoulders, that gay momentum, will fall away just as soon as the gay footsoldiers have served their purpose.

And for that they will throw away the patient work of years of building acceptance, as the gay community will almost certainly be blamed for the worsening of international relations that would inevitably result from a deliberate attempt to sabotage the 2014 Olympics.

Disappointing, to say the very least.

kirill says:

Great article, Mark. I like especially the highlighting of the breaking of twin cities links that are outright hypocrisy. This whole hysterical farce highlights once again that the west is not interested in facts when it comes to Russia. Fabricated narratives, lies and hate are all the west has to offer to Russia. And Russians are supposed to respect the west!

Let them "ruin" the Sochi Olympics. They will be leaving a stain on themselves that will be hard to undo in the coming decades. The truth has a habit of slowly leaking out and the lie that this Russian law is anti-gay is just to brazen to be construed as some innocent misunderstanding or over-zealousness on behalf of a "suffering" minority.

[Aug 02, 2013] Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden

August 1, 2013 | naked capitalism

ScottS:

I'm not sure why people are so cynical about Obama's proclivity for playing 11-dimensional chess. Isn't the fact that he's playing the game against his own party, against his own ethnicity, against his own class, and against his own country evidence enough that he's playing a far more complicated game than most?

Though it does boil down to selling out, which isn't as hard to follow as rationalizing it.

profoundlogic:

How ironic that an average person like Snowden (certainly not average in the character category) could be such a remarkable thorn in Obama's side. Snowden has taught us all a valuable lesson in the value of truth.

Interesting to watch how the credibility trap continues to grow for Obama. As you mention, it may not be the abuses themselves that result in the big O's undoing, but the ensuing cover-up and lies.

"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage."

John Kenneth Galbraith

MRW:

The people advising Obama aren't interested in America. They are only interested in Israel. And Israel has a national, strategic, and economic interest in keeping the security state functioning with the public-private relationships that its defense contractors, security contractors, and telephonic partners provide them. For example, it is inconceivable that the utility AT&T, in its pre-breakup days, would have routed all call record data through an Israeli (foreign) government-backed company for billing of US customers. Now, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, et cetera, do.

Further, General Keith Alexander has outsourced US strategic interests to private contractors outside US jurisdiction that cannot be curtailed or controlled directly by US law, or the quaint notion of the express wishes of the American people. They can only be curtailed or controlled by Alexander himself, and as James Bamford pointed out this past month, Alexander as the head of Cyber Command has his own army, navy, and air force that is not under the direct control of the US President.

Cocomaan:

Cornell West was talking with Larry Lessig in an interview and went into detail about "simple virtue" and how threatening it is to the state. Very good interview, I highly recommend it.

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/tavis/local-tavis-1026900.mp3

from Mexico:

Wow!

Fifty percent of congress-persons leave congress to go to work on "K" Street as lobbyists, with an average increase in pay of 1,452%.

And yet juxtaposed to this we still find folks with "simple integrity," as West goes on to explain:

And yet in the end we do have a significant number of fellow citizens who just want to be decent. I think it's just fundamentally a moral and spiritual issue. When you look at the words of Bradley Manning and Snowden and others, they really talk about conscience; they really talk about trying to do what's right regardless of the consequences. And that really is in the end an issue of integrity… It's a matter of them being willing to sacrifice and being willing to disclose truths that they know could lead toward their destruction of their lives.

–CORNEL WEST

What West said reminded me of something Susan Neiman wrote:

Moral Clarity – Facing Gallows

Are there moral laws that bind everyone-wherever they come from, whatever they believe? The greatest philosopher of modern times walked up to this question and turned sideways, refusing to answer directly. Instead, Immanuel Kant reached for a parable.

Imagine, he says, a man who claims temptation overwhelms him whenever he passes what the 18th century discretely referred to as "a certain house". No matter what he tells himself beforehand, when he reaches the whorehouse he has to go in. He'd like to be prudent, he'd like to be faithful; perhaps he thinks sex is one thing that doesn't belong on the market. But no tie of love, no fear of disease or shame is stronger than the claims of the flesh. Can we understand him? Easily, says Kant. But what if a gallows were installed before the whorehouse on which he will be hung immediately after emerging from its sin-sating depths? Suddenly he discovers he can withstand temptation very nicely, thank you. For however bright ordinary desires may be-for sex or wealth or any other form of mortal pleasure-all of them pale before the desire for life itself. No life, no consumption: all the sweets of the world put together cannot weigh against that.

Let the same man be summoned before an unjust ruler, and given a choice. The ruler intends to execute an innocent subject fallen afoul of his regime, but the semblance of law demands the appearance of just procedures. Someone will write a letter denouncing the innocent, bearing false witness to a capital crime. Our roue is asked to do it. Should he refuse, the ruler will make sure he is executed himself.

As in the first case, Kant thinks it's easy to imagine being in this fellow's shoes. But unlike the first case, we suddenly waver: we do not know what we would do. Kant always emphasized the limits of knowledge, and one of the things we never know for certain is the inside of our souls. None of us is so righteous as to be sure not to crumble in the face of death or torture. Most of us probably would. But all of us know what we should do: refuse to write the letter though it cost our own lives. And all of us know that we could do just that-whether or not we would totter in the end. In this moment, says Kant, we know our own freedom, in a breath of awe and wonder. Not pleasure but justice can move human beings to deeds that overcome the strongest of animal desires, the love of life itself. And contemplating this is as dizzying as contemplating the heavens above us: with this kind of power, we are as infinite as they are.

[....]

[We should never] be urged to live rightly because it's in our self-interest to do so. Such arguments leave us helpless whenever morality and self-interest part company; in the times when they don't, we don't need morality to move us.

So how do you answer the skeptic who asks why he should be moral? Kant says you do it by talking about heroes: those who risk their lives rather than resign themselves to injustice. "Here virtue is worth so much because it costs so much."

[....]

"What's absolute, " says Cornel West, "is what I'm willing to die for."

http://www.einsteinforum.de/fileadmin/einsteinforum/downloads/victims_neiman.pdf

Chris Rogers :

@ from Mexico,

Good insight from Kant and many thanks for sharing.

I am reminded though that in the movie "V for Vendetta" the heroine is held captive by the man of the Guido Fawkes mask – our hero, during weeks of torture, Evie refuses to give up her friends, knowing full well they, and most likely herself, would be killed regardless of the outcome.

The end of that particular scene, when Evie believes its better to die, than betray, is the moment she's overcome by all human emotion, love of life, love of freedom and a love of all that's good in humanity.

Its a very powerful movie despite being based on a comic, and one regular posters should view or review again – particularly given the fascist trends so evident in the USA and UK presently – its a good dystopian warning that offers hope.

nonclassical

…Snowden is bushbama version of bushcheney's WikiLeaks…

we, the American people, must be thankful for both…and contrast within, to LIES…

b :

a. Thanks for quoting me.

b. "If the NSA knows what Snowden downloaded (as they assert they do) they should be well aware of what he can publish. "

I believe they do NOT know what he downloaded. Unless the NSA has a very diligent access and logging system (which for efficiency reasons does not make sense) a sysadmin like Snowden can delete the traces of access he had to a machine or file. The NSA does not know what Snowden got.

In yesterdays hearing the NSA robot said they did not know yet how Snowden did what he did. If that is true they can not know what he has.

(The NSA does not even know if he left a bug in the system or some kind of time bomb like virus. It will take month for them to be sure that their systems are not corrupted. Quite mess in that data shop.)

Yves Smith:

Thanks for paying a visit!

Well, even if they feel compelled to lie, their actions still are remarkably nonsensical (or as you said re Obama, arrogant). If they don't know what he has, they should assume the worst. And they aren't acting that way (well they are in their desperation to get him, but with the info having gone to Greenwald, that horse has left the barn and is in the next county) as least in terms of what they've been saying to Congress.

Bob:

My thoughts would be that that is the exact reason they are so extremely obsessed with getting him. They want him so they can put the screws to him to find out what Greenwald has so they can know what needs to covered up. Right now they don't know how much of their a** is hanging out.

Antifa:

It's important to note that Snowden was hired in the role of "infrastructure analyst" at Booz Allen. They advertised for someone to fill that role and Snowden was an absolute catch for them. He could do awesome things on the keyboard, according to those who knew him.

What does an infrastructure analyst do? Test the system. Put on a black hat for the good of the company and see where the weaknesses in the network and security protocols are. To do that, he or she has to be able to get in and out AND cover their tracks, just as an expert outside hacker would do.

Edward had the run of the place, and a thumb drive, for three months, and only left when he was completely satisfied. He had his way with them.

So no, there is no real way short of peeling Edward's skin off to discover exactly where he went and what he took from Booz Allen and the NSA. The blowhards in Congress and the bureaucrats atop the NSA have no idea.

If Snowden is taken or disappeared, the NSA will then treat anyone who publishes the rest of his material similarly, no matter where they live or what nation they are a citizen of. The gloves are off to save their secrets, and their own asses.

hunkerdown :

That's escalation. If discretion in releases doesn't buy any indulgence, their next disgruntled infrastructure analyst might not be bothered to exercise it. Training documents and presentations are one thing to have exposed, but there are crown jewels, such as sources and methods, cipher details, keying material, source code, and email server contents, that once disclosed could irreparably damage billions of dollars in black ops investments throughout DoD and might even be fatal to the agency (and, though we may hope to find the teachable moment, probably to the discloser as well).

Richard Kline:

What Antifa said, but some what differently, and then more. Snowden is a two-level problem for the NSA.

The first and highest level problem is _how_ Snowden knows what he knows. That is, what he knows about how the NSA's data gathering operates systemically, and how it's internal structures work; just as Antifa remarks. Snowden BEAT that system, in that he got in, got data, got out, and they didn't know until he told the world. Now, Ed Snowden has publicly promised not to reveal this kind of 'structural knowledge,' because in principal that could harm 'real national security' as opposed to the obscene simulacra of that concept which is the workaday perception in the minds of the Securacrats and the ultimate insiders of Permanent Washington. But who knows how Ed will feel months or years from now? Or if the Russkis will worm it out of him; "We have ways . . . ." goes the thinking. Ed Snowden walking free and unafraid is more dangerous to the NSA as of today than an armed nuclear missle in flight given what he knows of their big iron and little bugs. Getting him back before he squawks anything of that 'structural knowledge' is Mission One for them, and hence for the President. Greenwald & Co. may very well _not_ have much if any damaging components of such 'structural knowledge' since Ed said he was keeping mum on that. So there may still be time, from the securecrats' standpoint. Obama is stalling for time therefore, hoping to figure some way of getting Snowden out of circulation before the 'iron' gets shopped, deliberately or inadvertently. Or at least until the NSA can reconfigure internally on the hurry-up to keep themselves from getting hoovered via Ed's keys should they come out. That has to be a worry against simply assassianting Snowden too: he could have a 'dead man drop' of those keys. Don't be surprised if he hasn't left them a message to that effect which neither he nor the securecrats have chose to make public.

Snowden also presents a second-level problem for the President even more than the NSA in _what_ he knows. I can think of at least two potential reveals, or two-and-a-half, which would get Barack Obama and his main crew in an all night stew to defense, delay, and deny. Just guessing, but when Greenwald says 'bigger to come,' this is where I go.

1) We me find out that the NSA has systematically snooped on every member of Congress since long since, and in particular monitors all communications of those thought to be 'politically unsound' such as Grayson, McDermott, Rand Paul, or, yes, Amash. Folks who might actually take a call from *cough* _Julian Assange_, or 'an agent of a foreign power,' or 'an Islamofascist sympathizer' who might try to funnel data to said Congressperson which proved embarassing or worse to the Prez and the securecrats. I mean, what is the _highest_ value domestic intel out there for those who RUN the security state? Com-taps on dissenters; as always, ever. So that at least the securecrats know what's coming before it's out. Or better (from their viewpoint) can catch someone from the other team showing a little too much of their hand. Or, maybe as sweet, can get something incriminating, or at least indiscreet, on said member of Congress to break their arm on a critical vote. If Congress thought Greenwald was about to spill _that_ kind of snopping program via telelink to the whole Democratic Caucaus of the House, I can definitely see Barack Obama getting his skinny ass plunked in front of the screen between two flags on the hurry-up.

2) It is very telling that despite the international shennanigens of the NSA already revealed we have heard nothing from the Near East, and absolutely not a whisper of Israel. Now, this is an area of perceived 'national security [sic],' and so Snowden may just not be going there. But that strikes me as ridiculous, since we know that Israel and the US are interlocked at the basal ganglia level on intell and black op wire-work in the Near East. Much of that is dirty work, and not a little of it might have nothing to do with mad bombers and much to do with heads of state. I suspect one reveal to come would be that the US systematically snoops all internal communications at the head of state and Defense Ministry level of every country bordering Israel-and runs this by Israeli filters. Not 'direct sharing' but simply allowing Israel to glean most everything obtained while the US 'looks the other way.' Consider that: the US effectively bugs all military and state communications in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all else, and lets Israel have a look in passing. Can you imagine Obama and the NSA being in an epileptic froth to try to get out in front of something like THAT? They may not know if Ed Snowden can prove it, but it seems highly likely that the US-NSA is doing this, so they have to believe that Snowden _could_ reveal it. And them are Big Potatos. Even if Ed got Dead, they could still upset quite a few pretty apple carts if they got rolling.

2.5) A further reveal which might be available to Snowden would be if he had evidence that the NSA wasn't just scanning transmission data in other countries, specifically in the Near East, but was actively _falsifying transmission data WHICH DID NOT EXIST_. It seems highly likey that they US is doing this, both on its own and in collusion with Israel. This, for instance, is specifically the counter-charge that Hezbollah made when suspicious phone data records in Lebanon were produced to impute that Hezbolla could or did orchestrate the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The issue of falsfied transmission records has come up in other instances as well. This, again, treads closer to 'national security [sic]' but at the same time is completely bogus info that at least is used to mislead international justice bodies and the American Congress, but which, far worse, could easily be used as a pretext for military action. "We caught them plotting ON THE PHONE (*hahahahaha* who'll ever know?)." The concept that the NSA could fake records of discussions in other countries and that military action could be launched in consequence of such black-op fakes should send a chill down every spine. I could see Snowden revealing something like that. And THAT kind of reveal would hit like a .40 Magnum round taking out the right testical of the NSA. Again, the NSA very likely does this kind of thing, so they have to assume that Snowden could know and might chose to reveal it. Hence the frenzy.

This is a GREAAAAAAAAAAT show, I've gotta say . . . Information wants to be free, and freedom wants to be informed. It's only the unfreedom salesmen who have a problem with that . . . .

Code Name D:

If you forgive the pop-sociology, what they are doing is actually quite predictable. To Obama – this is a publicity problem, nothing more. It's Wikileaks all over again, laving it to the grunts and cubical-drones from the press core to clean up the mess while Obama focuses on more important maters.

But I suspect there may be some very different thinking going on here over at the NSA. This is NOT a security operation, but something else entirely. I have argued on my own blog that NSA is more like a deep-data broker. GE has gone on a media blitz promoting deep-data as the next big thing, and GE apparently has significant connections to NSA. I don't think it's a coincidence.

In other words, this is more a market agenda, rather than a security agenda. And the data being collected by NSA is not really intended for security, which is likely why they believe NSA is not violating the law. But rather they are collecting information with the intent of giving corporations the privilege of data-mining the data-stores for what ever agenda they wish to bring. It has accord to me that this may be just another approach to selling role-on deodorant.

Privacy rights in this regard are already non-existent. But corporations have been under pressure by consumers to tighten up privacy policies. One possible true function for NSA is to be a means of bypassing these restrictions, allowing corporations to claim they have tight privacy policies while secretly mining the data behind the NSA security curtain. This may also be about industrial espionage as well, with NSA pulling for US corporations against competition from Europe, China, and India.

All speculation of course. So perhaps I should go and take my anti-conspiracy theorist medications before I find connection to 911.

LucyLulu :

You have company in your tin-foil conspiracy theory beliefs. I have the same suspicions as you. I wouldn't discount that the NSA continues to operate as a security organization but no reason it can't be a dual function entity. If it's not doing the commercial work itself, it's working in cooperation with companies that are. The public/private partnerships that Obama touts at work.

We have reports of private organizations doing similar work already, such as Endgame, allegedly working in cooperation with Uncle Sam. As revealed by Anonymous a couple years ago, for a mere cool $2.5 million, a company can purchase 25 exploits from Endgame, exploits which are no longer limited to crashing networks and stealing data but now can do actual physical damage.

a :

I wonder if Snowden might test Putin by standing innocently by while Greenwald or the Guardian keeps releasing more damaging info, saying, "Hey, I'm not the one releasing this stuff. They are."

Thus keeping his promise to Putin to stop releasing damaging info about the USA as the price for refugee status in Russia. Technically.

Poking the Russian bear is risky.

willibro :

That assumes, of course, that Putin's public statements about not "inflicting damage to our American partners" were anything but pro-forma/diplomatic ass-covering. Under the current circumstances, he can point to the same excuse as Snowden: "Dude, horse is already out of the barn, I'm not riding it anymore."

Kurt Sperry :

This is a real possibility. One can safely assume that Snowden mentioning that he could access even the President's private email communications was a very deliberate and very blunt signal, a shot across the bow. If he could have done so and made a point of mentioning it, surely he was canny enough to actually do so. Even if he didn't do so, it seems likely the head spooks believe that he might have. The desperation hangs thick in the air here doesn't it? The Morales fiasco, the incredibly clumsy handling of the whole thing, the unforced errors, it all points to panicky, sweaty fear being the driver of the administration's response.

They (or Obama) evidently think he may have some real dirt, the kind that could pose a real or even existential threat to them.

Let us all fervently wish that is in fact the case. I want to see Obama and the US security state twisting in the wind, exposed, helpless and just waiting for the next bombshell to hit. "Looking back" can be cathartic.

Jeff W :

some real dirt

As I said in this comment a little over two weeks ago, Edward Snowden himself said, in his first interview, in answer to a question about what he "didn't end up doing," said,

Anyone in the positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia; they always have an open door as we do. I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world. The locations of every station, we have what their missions are and so forth.

That's a pretty clear statement of what he actually had access to. That to me is even more of "a shot across the bow."

Of course, what's not clear to us (or, judging from the fascinating comments above, even to the NSA, which, in itself, would account for the air of desperation on the part of the administration) is whether or not he actually took that information regarding rosters, missions, station locations-his denial seems to be more aimed at how he did not seek to profit from what he had access to-although I would say, as I suspect you would, that he is definitely canny enough to have done so.

I took his statement

I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.

more as an indication of just how pervasive and completely without controls the surveillance actually is; his phrase "if had a personal e-mail" indicated (to me) that his ability to wiretap the President was purely for purposes of illustration. But, if, in fact, no one knows what Snowden took, even that comment might be, as you say, "a very deliberate and very blunt signal."

Kassandra :

I've ehard they can't even find their OWN emails. So the package may already have opened. In any event, their "surveillance" certainly didn't stop the Tsarnov brothers…..or whoever…..

Jim Haygood :

XKeyscore's ultimate justification is summarized in the concluding sentence of the NSA's statement:

"These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad."

Got that? If you don't blindly support the NSA, then you don't support the troops.

Or to state the case in the opposite sense, until the m*****f****** troops are brought home - every bleeding one of them - permanent war means permanent surveillance under de facto martial law.

To stop the NSA, stop the war(s).

Cocomaan:

Find me a single person in a powerful position in Washington DC that endorses peace.

I haven't found too many.

citizendave:

To echo that idea, a marriage between privacy and security will be doomed to failure because of irreconcilable differences.

As long as we have permanent war, Defense will want the kind of security NSA tries to provide.

The best way, or the only way, to reduce the desire for security is to work for peace.

The USA is responsible for a big part of the permanent state of war.

To protect our privacy we must persuade the USA to stand down from our permanent state of war.

Until we achieve peace, our right to privacy will be like the ideal expressed in our founding documents, that all people are created equal. It turns out that equality is a goal, not a fact. The fact of our privacy in the past was a function of the lack of technology. It appears it will be necessary to work to establish actual privacy the way we have worked to establish actual equality.

kimsarah:

In peace or war, all this meta-data must have some value on the black market, with so many unscrupulous private contractors potentially having access to much of it.

Start following the money, and we might find out how much this NSA program is costing the taxpayer, and who has ownership and political connections to the private companies operating it.

It then becomes obvious why the biggest blowhards like Feinstein and Rogers are its biggest defenders.

DaveAlaska:

kimsarah, Booz Allen Hamilton for one has insidious threads connecting it to America's power-elites from several presidential administrations beginning with GHW Bush's. The Carlyle Group hedge fund owns 2/3 of BAH. Check out the board members and try to fathom the depth of foreign policy intrigue emanating from that toxic mix alone. The AIPAC nexus with the Beltway is another profound horror to the autonomy of this nation. We are not only lost, we are owned by the power mongers of the world.

from Mexico:

The documentary film The Power Principle does a great job of giving a short 15-minute or so history of what happened to Russia after 1989, beginning here at minute 44:28, which goes a long way to explain why relationships between the US and Russia are so strained:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qJE_rPvEgE&feature=player_detailpage&t=2669

Pokey:

No one so stunningly unqualified to be an executive could be an inept politician, but until he started flailing around in his Snowden hissy, it's hard to think of any issue or principle that made a difference to him. The king of empty rhetoric is as pathetic as he is pompous. But he is probably better than Romney or McCranky (by 2008) would have been in his office.

Enrico Malatesta:

The Ruling Party has "binders of sociopaths" just waiting to fill POTUS, SCOTUS, etc…

If you think it was only Roberts, Kagen, & Obama they have been grooming, suggest you check out this version of Swiftboat Kerry:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/26/what-john-kerry-really-did-in-vietnam/

Emma:

In a rat race, the winner is still a rat.

Synopticist :

I'm just loving this story.

Obama can't understand that full spectrum dominance doesn't apply when his nightmare whistleblower is safely tucked away in Moscow. Even Bush would have got his head around that fact. Just imagine the uproar if Bush had forced down Morales' plane.

(I think this contributes to the internal debate about what Obama is like as a man within out own NC sphere. Rather than the evil Manchurian candidate who knew what he was doing all along, which is what I might call the "Lambert View", this shows that he's actually just a fairly inept politician and negotiator.)

Anyway, I'd like to point out another marginal influence here, and that's the situation in Syria. Putin knows that Obama's and the securicrat's "arm Al qaeda's bitches in the clearly non-moderate FSA" policy is wildly unpopular, and that strengthens his hand somewhat. He can shove Obama around a bit more than he would otherwise be able to do without arousing the bi-partisan ire that a Russian president normally would.

Dan Kervick:

I suspect that you are right in attributing some of this to Obama's frustration over his loss of personal power and prestige. He is also showing pique over the Democrats' unwillingness to rubber stamp his preference for old crony Larry Summers.

The Morales affair was totally unhinged, risking the resurrection of 100 years of bitterness over gringo political domination, all to to catch one programmer.

So in the end I think this is about more than Obama's personal feelings. The spooks and thugs manning the 12-year regime of GWOT abuse and overstepping are now seeing the possibility of the end of the road, with the blown-up careers and prison sentences the unraveling will bring. They know what Snowden knows, and Obama must be under intense pressure to keep the lid on it all.

I'm worried that Obama might lash out militarily at something to reassert presidential and state authority.

Francois T:

Dan, The very fact that Obama is pushing for a spectacular failure (Barry Ritholz expression) like Larry Summers is proof positive that he totally lost it.

Malmo :

Exactly. The Summers push defies all political logic short of one becoming completely unhinged.

Dan Kervick:

I don't think that in itself would show he had lost it. Politicians routinely opt for the usual established party hacks and insiders to fill big positions. Lots of people in the old guard are friends of Summers, and that's just government as usual. But Obama's willingness to start shredding US foreign policy priorities and relationships in a mad pursuit of one lone whistle-blower seems different.

Malmo:

Right. And I think he'll go with Yellen at the end of the day. This trial balloon isn't going over with anyone, including his own party. Not the time for a lightning rod trail balloon, much less one that he needlessly appoints, who could very well be rejected.

CB:

Don't underestimate Obama's capacity to cut off his nose to spit his face. Egomaniacs will do that from time to time.

Patricia:

Over the last 3-4 years, the people at the top have become increasingly careless of image, making less and less effort to bring consistent messaging/cover. I think Obama has been assuming, after long dirty work built on top of Shrub's admin on top of Bush Sr on top of…., that the whole oligarchy thing is sewed up tight. Gift-wrapped global empire with an NSA bow.

I'm sure Obama knew there would be pushback but I suspect he planned that it would appear after he left office. Instead, his filth is being globally exposed while he is yet in office, against his wishes, and he's indulging narcissistic rage, which only further exposes him, ripping off his suave sophisticated image. There have been hints of his malice before, but not like this. He might not yet recognize what he's doing, or he is so angry that he doesn't care, but surely the people around him are aware and know it matters, at least a little bit.

It must not be easy to be Obama, with his combination of empty-suitism, narcissism, pressure to perform for the oligarchs, (likely) vague threats of blackmail via NSA, etc.

I am delighted.

But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama's work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn't collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people "qualified" to run the country, and they'll pull from it. Voila.

from Mexico :

Patricia :

But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama's work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn't collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people "qualified" to run the country, and they'll pull from it. Voila.

The dream of global domination runs like a thread through Western civilization, starting with the Spanish Habsburgs in the 16th century and continuing with Napoleon and Hitler. Many people, such as Jonathan Schell writing in The Unconquerable World, believe the current neocon project for world domination will end just like the others did.

I've always admired the following passage from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace:

All historians are agreed that the external activity of states and nations in their conflicts with one another finds expression in wars, and that the political power of states and nations increases or diminishes in direct proportion to success or defeat in war….

An army suffers a defeat, and at once a people loses its rights in proportion to the magnitude of the defeat, and if its army suffers complete defeat, the nation is completely subjugated.

So it has been (according to history) from earliest times to the present day. All Napoleon's wars serve to confirm that rule. In proportion to the defeat of the Austrian armies, Austria loses its rights and the rights and powers of France increase. The victories of the French at Jena and Auerstadt destroy the independent existence of Prussia.

But suddenly in 1812, the French win a victory near Moscow, Moscow is taken, and after that, with no further battles, it is not Russia that ceases to exist, but the French army of six hundred thousand, and then Napoleonic France itself…

The victory did not bring the usual results because the peasants Karp and Vlas (who after the French had evacuated Moscow came in their carts to plunder the town and in generally personally failed to manifest any heroic feelings) and the whole vast multitudes of others like them, did not bring their hay to Moscow for the high prices offered them, but burnt it instead…

[T]he cudgel of the people's war was raised with all its menacing and majestic might, without regard for anyone's taste, or for the rules, or for anything else, but with obtuse simplicity and utter efficacy it rose and fell, belaboring the French till the whole invasion was extirpated.

Anon:

Why do you think that the push for Summers is the least bit sincere? The very fact that Summers' personality can generate such pique in almost any forum demonstrates just how credible his candidacy is. He strikes me as uniquely positioned- an upper level economist so thoroughly offensive to both the left and right that almost any credible alternative will sail through the wake…of his bilge, to abuse the metaphor.

Of course Yellen is better qualified. Of course she'll be elected. But having Summers as the putative alternate serves to discredit any of her potential detractors, leaving them looking like misogynists and economic cranks. And this, I suspect is the point. The most material difference in Yellen's and Summers' perspectives is the broader economic benefit of QE. In this regard, I'm in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Summers that QE hasn't been demonstrated an unalloyed good. If he is the face of policy skeptics, particularly while markets serially hit all time highs (today, included) then no deeper public consideration of the policy is necessary, right?

molehill :

America's ГУОТ installed Obama and they will uninstall him if he doesn't restore the blissful ignorance of the subject population. It's Snowden or Obama, it's that simple. If Snowden is returned, his former employers will torture him to death. They have a sinking feeling that Snowden is not a lone wolf.

If Obama doesn't stop the drip-drip-drip it's going to loosen the massive foundation of unacknowledged crime that props up this regime. The family jewels are not secure. The regime has had 50 years. Now their time is running out.

Cache Is King:

I just read the news that Russia granted conditional asylum to Snowden and so I popped off a message of thanks to the nearest Russian consulate by way of fax.

The fact that I don't give a rat's ass anymore whether the CIA, NSA, DIA or DICK monitored that is of blindingly significant import.

When the people you are oppressing begin to lose the fear of telling you to shove it, the beginning of the end is in sight. I just don't care anymore. Just an average guy who has had enough.

That should be something to shake the foundations if anyone at HQ is REALLY paying attention.

ohmyheck:

This image reflects your comment: "Never Push a Loyal Person To the Point Where They Don't Give a Damn"

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p75x225/524320_10151802976345320_745032554_n.jpg

psychohistorian :

I don't think people are giving Snowden enough respect.

I think he knows he has chosen an interesting way to commit suicide, and like Aaron Swartz, he hopes his life makes a difference in our world.

Of course Yves, he would have been safer in the transit zone but the play had to change acts to keep the consciousness level up. On top of some well planned and executed bit diddling, he is playing the data release for all its worth.

Are there any who believe that eventually all that Snowden has will be released? I would argue that that genie will not go back into the bottle and it has yet to be seen if the movement this truth showing is creating will take on enough momentum to bring down our current "government"…..it would not burnish Obama's image if that were to occur.

However this plays out, I am all over nominating Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize like Manning. Might as well try and get it to those who really deserve it.

I hope we have a chance to build a better world than the wreck we are being handed by the plutocracy intent on destroying everyone's home for their control and enjoyment.

Gerard Pierce :

It's oly a metaphor, but the operative idea comes from the prisons and the streets – with 9-11, the US got punked. That's an idea that has a lot more meaning and emotional charge than most people acknowledge.

The result is that the neo-cons and war-makers were able to take charge of large parts of US policy and large parts of the US government. (Can you spell Homeland Security?) These same people are neurotically sensitive to any new challenges to US power.

Fifteen years worth of failed or f#cked up military adventures have left these people in a state of emotional fragility. And a collapsing economy has not done much to improve their mental state.

The ones who are not foaming at the mouth are allied with outfits like the Chertoff group and working hard to make as much money as they can while supporting their shared ideology in the background.

And Obama is their whipping boy.

Cynthia :

Seems to me that this is where the "Occupy Wall Street" movement should be intersecting with "The Tea Party" movement. Can we get together and fight the Government-Corporate monster, or are we too busy hating each other as directed by our lying snooping puppet masters and their media lackeys?

washunate

Agreed. To me, that's what was so valuable about the occupy protests. They showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was Democrats at the heart of enabling the police state and all the oppression and racism and unconstitutionality it entails.

It's also what I enjoyed so much about the Dem pundit temper tantrums around people like Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald.

That reminds me, this is another delicious angle of what is making the Obots so pissed. Greenwald is still beating them. The Dem pundits even now making this personal about Greenwald and Snowden rather than about the story are helping to drag out the story while revealing their own irrelevance when it comes to discussing substantive matters.

Cynthia:

What people seem to be missing is that Snowden spent a month at Moscow airport because the USA voided his passport while he was en-route to South America. Once he landed, he could go no further. As it happens, Russia is a big enough player to stand up to the American government's bullying - and of course, it is ironic that one country (with a history of internal oppression) is now cast into the role of hero by sheltering a refugee from another country whose long-time motto has been "the land of the free".

As for the secrets Snowden revealed: they are not plans for bombs or military orders of battle. Rather, they demonstrate that Americans are now deeply ensnared in the folds of a military/espionage/corporate complex, where new technology makes it that much easier to sidestep and negate Constitutional rights. He did not sell these "secrets" for personal gain; he placed himself in personal peril because of them. That is the classic definition of "hero".

Hugo Stiglitz :

To quote the group Anonymous, "When exposing crimes becomes a criminal act, you are ruled by criminals."

Sandwichman:

John Poindexter and Robert Gates… Iran-Contra… Total Information Awareness… Mujahideen… the "Reagan Doctrine"…

Lying to Congress?

John Poindexter: "Found guilty of 2 counts of false statements, 2 of obstructing Congress, and conspiracy. Given 6 months in prison for each count, to be served concurrently."

Robert Gates: "Testified falsely about when he first learned about the Diversion (received a report on it during the summer of 1986 from CIA official Richard Kerr ["Gates claimed that he did not recall the meeting."]). Also helped prepare Casey's false testimony."

Poindexter appointed head of the "Information Awareness Office" in February 2002. Gates was appointed Secretary of Defense by George W. Bush in 2006 and retained in that position by President Obama.

http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2013/07/are-those-nsa-contract-spooks-really.html

Roger Bigod:

I raised the issue of kabuki re the Amash Amendment. Clearly the vote was an enormous setback for the Surveillance State, an "unwelcome surprise" as we diplomats like to say.

My congressman's vote is still a mystery. He's an impressive guy in many ways - worked his way through college and medical school, successful family practice, chain of fast food restaurants, popular with constituents in a safe Republican district. The only part of the Bill of Rights he's enthusiastic about is the 2nd Amendment.. But he voted for the Amash Amendment. There's no reason for him to go against the leadership, so I wonder if he got a dispensation. The only reasons I can see for him to vote that way are (1) worry that beyond some point surveillance would be electoral cyanide, (2) recognition that as a member of the Outer Party he and others in his position are easy targets of blackmail.

There are some other mysteries in the Snowden revelations. With the massive surveillance, it should have been easy to unravel the drug trade. This suggests a large involvement by the government. The other obvious target is the financial system. Transactions may be encrypted, but any M&A activity will leave a huge footprint of phone calls, travels to company headquarters, involvement of law and accounting firms. All it would take is one junior analyst to run some social network analysis. I'm cynical enough to believe that all those thousands of underlings were as pure as the driven Snowden.

Jess :

Your assessments regarding blackmail, the drug trade, and financial activity would appear to be dead on.

Guess I'll be seeing you soon in the Gulag.

dSquib :

Obama is more perturbed about losing the semblance of running a "tight ship" than any national security concerns. Or probably any imperial concerns, for that matter. I think he's a thoroughly superficial person in all aspects. Say what you will about imperialism, it requires an affirmative belief.

There's Obama, and there's McCain, Graham, Schumer and so on. These people are addicts. They disturb me more than Obama, who for his basic lack of character I don't think has the appetite for the long haul of imperial service. They scare me, because they are terrified at the faintest whiff of decline in status, America's or their own. They and Obama WILL do something really, really big and stupid, I just hope it's to their own ruin and not everyone else's.

Sandwichman:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Iran-Contra affair involved illegal activity and cover-up of that illegal activity engaged in by intelligence agency officials to circumvent "safeguards" against infringements on "the rights of Americans to engage in political activity free from government surveillance" that were enacted by Congress in response to the findings of the Church Committee of extensive illegal activities by the CIA, including COINTELPRO. And here we go again… and again… and again.

The report is concerned primarily with the FBI's COINTELPRO counter-intelligence campaign, but also discusses the CIA's Operation CHAOS, whereby the CIA engaged in domestic intelligence work in violation of the CIA charter. Other agencies including the NSA and Army Intelligence are also discussed. Illegal electronic surveillance, mail opening, infiltration of dissident groups, "black bag" break-in jobs, media manipulation, IRS targeting, and the intense campaign waged against Martin Luther King, Jr. are all subjects of this report. The overriding theme is the violation of the rights of Americans as identified in the U.S. Constitution.

It should be noted that the activities that eventually morphed into Iran/Contra commenced with covert arms supplies to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan PRIOR TO (and in the view of some, helping to precipitate) the Soviet invasion.

In addition to convicted felon John Poindexter's role in establishing the Total Information Awareness program that was supposedly defunded by Congress but actually continued with "classified" funding to renamed components, the retention as Secretary of Defense by Obama of Bush appointee Robert Gates needs to be viewed in the context of Gates's "disquieting" activity and testimony during the Iran/Contra affair and subsequent investigation.

From Chapter 16, "Robert Gates," of the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Conta Matters, Lawrence E. Walsh:

Kerr told Independent Counsel that he did not recall Gates referring to other rumors of a diversion at this meeting. The Select Committees' report of the interview did not contain the statement that Gates was aware of "rumors" of a diversion, but it did state that Gates told Kerr to "keep him informed." Accordingly, the evidence was clear that Gates's statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support North's activities without informing North's superiors or investigating. By October, when Gates claimed he first remembered hearing of the diversion, Casey ordered an inquiry and later made a report to Poindexter; but, by then, the Hasenfus aircraft had been shot down and Casey and Gates were beginning to cover.

Gates's defense was that he did not recall the Kerr meeting. To say the least, this was disquieting. He had been told by a very senior officer that two of President Reagan's personal priorities were in danger - not something an ambitious deputy director of central intelligence would likely forget. Allen was acting as a whistle-blower in a difficult situation. His concern was for the safety of the hostages and the success of the efforts of the President. His information suggested serious malfeasance by Government officials involved in a clandestine and highly sensitive operation. Even though Gates may have believed Allen to be excessively concerned, could such an expression of concern be forgotten, particularly after it had been corroborated within a few weeks? Logically, Gates could ignore or forget the Allen report only if he already knew of the diversion and he knew that Casey and Poindexter knew of the diversion. Gates also was on the distribution list for highly reliable intelligence that should have informed him of the pricing dispute among Kangarlu, Ghorbanifar, and the U.S. Government, although it did not refer specifically to any diversion of funds. Gates claimed that he rarely reviewed the intelligence. North testified that he did not discuss the diversion with Gates or in Gates's presence. Gates also never met with Richard Secord, whom Gates was aware of only as a "private benefactor" (the CIA's term for non-Government donors to the contras) by July 1986.

Notwithstanding Independent Counsel's disbelief of Gates, Independent Counsel was not confident that Kerr's testimony, without the support of another witness to his conversation with Gates, would be enough to charge Gates with perjury or false statements for his testimony concerning the timing of his knowledge of the diversion. …

The evidence established that Gates was exposed to information about North's connections to the private resupply operation that would have raised concern in the minds of most reasonable persons about the propriety of a Government officer having such an operational role. Fiers and Cannistraro believed that Gates was aware of North's operational role. The question was whether there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates deliberately lied in denying knowledge of North's operational activities. A case would have depended on the testimony of Poindexter. Fiers would not testify that he supplied Gates with the details of North's activities. In the end, Independent Counsel concluded that the question was too close to justify the commitment of resources.

There was conclusive evidence that in October 1986, following the Hasenfus shootdown, Clair George and Alan Fiers obstructed two congressional inquiries. Gates attended meetings where the CIA's response to these inquiries was discussed. None of the evidence, however, links Gates to any specific act of obstruction.

Read the Church Committee report, vol. 2. Read the Walsh Independent Counsel's report.

Here's a better link for book 2 of the Church Committee report:

http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs94th/94755_II.pdf

ulsatime:

With all the signs of frayed temper and no patience from the WH, I keep wondering if they could be that open about being pissed off? The whole reaction to Snowden has seemed very unmanaged, like barely restrained panic, especially after the Moralles jet incident. I can see where some of the foil-wearing types get ideas for their double-tripple secret agent hallucinations now.

The Russian badgering has been the most laughable part so far, but perhaps that is for domestic consumtion. If there is really no more back channel effort going on than that, we are in a very bad way. The emperor seems to be getting some very bad advice, or the good advice is going out the window. We will know in a few years when the books come out.

Yves Smith:

That's a good synopsis of what is bothering me. Obama and the US are looking frazzled. One incident might be a replay of the Kissenger cultivating the image that Nixon was nuts (as in might do reckless, crazy things, as in drop the Big One) but this is clearly not strategic and if it's posturing, it's awfully lame.

And yes, the Obama call to Putin looked like either super misplaced ego or back channels had broken down, neither of which is good.

Hugh:

Obama is notorious for his lack of poise in private meetings. He is famously hostile to anyone who disagrees with him. He is a classic little tin god of academia, encouraged in a small, insular environment to think he's god's gift to everything. I've heard more than one academic call this president "a brilliant Constitutional scholar" - this president who has done more to undermine the First Amendment than all other presidents in the past 100 years combined. Obama hasn't lost it, he never had it.

tongorad

Obama is merely re-branded status quo. It took Obama's historic presidency to kill any momentum for political change, probably for generations. To be honest, I regard his supporters with outright disgust and even hatred. It's hard to imagine finding any common ground with anyone so easily compromised.

Dingo:

As PCR suggests, all the NSA has to do now is create some sort of false flag terror, and all will fall in line to maintain the Stasi state

Sandwichman:

Right on cue!

"US Warns Al-Qaida Could Strike Embassies, Other Targets"

http://www.voanews.com/content/us-to-close-embassies-august-4/1722140.html

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