Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 04, 2018

Media Use Disinformation To Accuse Russia Of Spreading Such

The Grauniad is slipping deeper into the disinformation business: Revealed: UK’s push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance is the headline of a page one piece which reveals exactly nothing. There is no secret lifted and no one was discomforted by a questioning journalist. 

Like other such pieces it uses disinformation to accuse Russia of spreading such.

The main 'revelation' is stenographed from a British government official. Some quotes from the usual anti-Russian propagandists were added. Dubious or false 'western' government claims are held up as truth. That Russia does not endorse them is proof for Russian mischievousness and its 'disinformation'.

The opener:

The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria.
...
“The foreign secretary regards Russia’s response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more,” a Whitehall official said. “The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.”

There is a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons. It is the Chemical Weapon Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It was the British government which at first rejected the use of these instruments during the Skripal incident:

Early involvement of the OPCW, as demanded by Russia, was resisted by the British government. Only on March 14, ten days after the incident happened and two days after Prime Minister Theresa may had made accusations against Russia, did the British government invite the OPCW. Only on March 19, 15 days after the incident happen did the OPCW technical team arrive and took blood samples.

Now back to the Guardian disinformation:

In making its case to foreign ministries, the UK is arguing that Russian denials over Salisbury and Douma reveal a state uninterested in cooperating to reach a common understanding of the truth, but instead using both episodes to try systematically to divide western electorates and sow doubt.

A 'common understanding of the truth' is an interesting term. What is the truth? Whatever the British government claims? It accused Russia of the Skripal incident a mere eight days after it happened. Now, two month later, it admits that it does not know who poisoned the Skripals:

Police and intelligence agencies have failed so far to identify the individual or individuals who carried out the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, the UK’s national security adviser has disclosed.

Do the Brits know where the alleged Novichok poison came from? Unless they produced it themselves they likely have no idea. The Czech Republic just admitted that it made small doses of a Novichok nerve agent for testing purposes. Others did too.

Back to the Guardian:

British politicians are not alone in claiming Russia’s record of mendacity is not a personal trait of Putin’s, but a government-wide strategy that makes traditional diplomacy ineffective.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, famously came off one lengthy phone call with Putin – she had more than 40 in a year – to say he lived in a different world.

No, Merkel never said that. An Obama administration flunky planted that in the New York Times:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

When that claim was made in March 2014 we were immediately suspicious of it:

This does not sound like typically Merkel but rather strange for her. I doubt that she said that the way the "people briefed on the call" told it to the Times stenographer. It is rather an attempt to discredit Merkel and to make it more difficult for her to find a solution with Russia outside of U.S. control.

A day later the German government denied (ger) that Merkel ever said such (my translation):

The chancellery is unhappy about the report in the New York Times. Merkel by no means meant to express that Putin behaved irrational. In fact she told Obama that Putin has a different perspective about the Crimea [than Obama has].

A McClatchy journalist investigated further and came to the same conclusion as I did. The 'leak' to the New York Times was disinformation.

That disinformation, spread by the Obama administration but immediately exposed as false, is now held up as proof by Patrick Wintour, the Diplomatic editor of the Guardian, that Russia uses disinformation and that Putin is a naughty man.

The British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson wants journalists to enter the UK reserve forces to help with the creation of propaganda:

He said army recruitment should be about “looking to different people who maybe think, as a journalist: ‘What are my skills in terms of how are they relevant to the armed forces?’

Patrick Wintour seems to be a qualified candidate.

Or maybe he should join the NATO for Information Warfare the Atlantic Council wants to create to further disinform about those damned Russkies:

What we need now is a cross-border defense alliance against disinformation — call it Communications NATO. Such an alliance is, in fact, nearly as important as its military counterpart.

Like the Guardian piece above writer of the NATO propaganda lobby Atlantic Council makes claims of Russian disinformation that do not hold up to the slightest test:

By pinning the Novichok nerve agent on Sweden or the Czech Republic, or blaming the UK for the nerve gas attack in Syria, the Kremlin sows confusion among our populations and makes us lose trust in our institutions.

Russia has not pinned the Novichok to Sweden or the Czech Republic. It said, correctly, that several countries produced Novichok. Russia did not blame the UK for the 'nerve gas attack' in Syria. Russia says that there was no gas attack in Douma.

The claims of Russian disinformation these authors make to not hold up to scrutiny. Meanwhile their pieces themselves are full of lies, distortions and yes, disinformation.

The bigger aim behind all these activities, demanding a myriad of new organizations to propagandize against Russia, is to introduce a strict control over information within 'western' societies.

Anything that may not confirm to the 'truth' as prescribed from above must be overwhelmed with an onslaught of more lies or, if that does not work, be discredited as 'enemy' disinformation.

That scheme will be used against anyone who deviates from the ordered norm. You dislike that pipeline in your backyard? You must be falling for Russian trolls or maybe you yourself are an agent of a foreign power. Social Security? The Russians like that. It is a disinformation thing. You better forget about it.

Posted by b on May 4, 2018 at 02:22 PM | Permalink

Comments
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Excellent article, in an ongoing run of great journalism.
I am curious - have you read this? https://ratical.org/ratville/JFK/ST/
It purports to be a book by an American military man intimately familiar with the covert ops portion of the US government. The internal Kafka-esque dynamics described certainly feel true.

Posted by: c1ue | May 4, 2018 2:27:27 PM | 1

The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Moscow--that will be the first thing this "Communications NATO" produces.

Posted by: Timothy Hagios | May 4, 2018 2:36:13 PM | 2

One of the reasons newspapers are getting worse is the economics. They aren't really viable anymore. Their future is as some form of government sanctioned oligopoly. Two national papers -- a "left" and a "right" -- and then a handful of regional papers. All spouting the same neoliberal, neoconservative chicanery.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | May 4, 2018 2:44:12 PM | 3

Genuine journalist Matt Taibbi warned of this sort of branding of disparate views as enemy a month ago. He was also correct. Evil and insidious. The enemy of a free society.

Posted by: CD Waller | May 4, 2018 2:57:20 PM | 4

Wait for an outbreak of hostilities on the Ukraine-Donbass front shortly before the beginning of the World Cup competition which is as internationally important as the Olympic Games -- as they did in 2014 with Maidan and 2016 with the SOchi Winter Olympics drug uproar, the CIA will create chaos that will take the emphasis off any Russian success, since as to them, anything negative regarding Russia is a positive for them.

Posted by: chet380 | May 4, 2018 2:58:22 PM | 5

The later history of the 20th century will one day be read as the triumph and normalization of the Nazi state through liberal democratic capitalism.

Posted by: WJ | May 4, 2018 3:02:57 PM | 6

I agree that it's difficult to see how the drive to renew the Cold War is going to be stopped. I presume that, with the exception of certain NeoCon circles, there isn't a desire for Hot War. Certainly not in the British sources you quote. Britain wouldn't want Hot War with Russia. It's all a question of going to the limit for internal consumption. Do a 1984, in order to keep the population in-line.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 4, 2018 3:07:19 PM | 7

thanks b... i can't understand how any intelligent thinking person would read the guardian, let alone something like the huff post, and etc. etc... why? the propaganda money that pays for the white helmets, certainly goes to these outlets as well..

the uk have gone completely nuts! i guess it comes with reading the guardian, although, in fairness, all british media seems very skewed - sky news, bbc, and etc. etc.

it does appear as though Patrick Wintour is on Gavin Williamson's propaganda bandwagon/payroll already... in reading the comments and articles at craig murrays site, i have become more familiar with just how crazy things are in the uk.. his latest article freedom no more sums it up well... throw the uk msm in the trash can... it is for all intensive purposes, done..

Posted by: james | May 4, 2018 3:11:05 PM | 8


Meanwhile, OPCW chief Uzumcu seems to have been pranked again, this time by his own staff (this is how I interpret it):

He claimed that the amount of Novichok found was about 100 g and therefore more than research laboratories would produce, i.e. this was weaponized Novichok.

http://www.startribune.com/large-dose-of-nerve-agent-was-used-in-spy-s-poisoning-watchdog-says/481687061/

However, the story is being retracted right now because OPCW staff says it was only 100 mg.

Uzumcu looks like a fool.


Posted by: mk | May 4, 2018 3:31:41 PM | 9

c1ue @1--

Yes, that's the real deal from a genuine patriot, J. Fletcher Prouty. The website archiving that masterwork of info on CIA has numerous important works by Prouty and others and warrants being closely investigated. You'll also want to read Prouty on JFK's murder. If you haven't already, click the JFK tab at top left of page to find the linked essay and oh so much more.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 3:45:27 PM | 10

The Russian embassy in the UK must be reading MoA.

It just now tweeted this press release:
Embassy press officer comments on the Guardian article concerning a new British anti-Russian strategy


Q: What is our reaction to the Guardian article on a “comprehensive strategy” to “deepen the alliance against Russia” to be pursued by the UK Government at international forums?

A: Judging by the publication, the main current challenge for Whitehall is to preserve the anti-Russian coalition that the Conservatives tried to build after the Salisbury incident. This task is challenging indeed. The “fusion doctrine” promoted by the national security apparatus has led to the Western bloc taking hasty decisions that, as life has shown, were not based on any facts.

No traces of chemical weapons have been found in Douma. This means that not only the US/UK/French airstrikes were illegal under international law but even their political justification was inherently flawed. Similarly, in the Salisbury affair, no evidence of Russian involvement has been presented, while the two myths on which the British case was built (the Russian origin of the chemical substance used and the existence of proof of Russian responsibility) have been shattered.

Given the lack of facts, the Tory leadership seems to be adopting a truly Orwellian logic: that the main proof of Russian responsibility are … the Russian denials! It is hard to see how they will be able to sell this to their international partners. Self-respecting countries of G20 would not be willing to risk their reputation.

Posted by: b | May 4, 2018 3:49:03 PM | 11

Hmmm... My reply to c1ue went sideways it seems. Yes, The late Mr. Prouty's book's the real deal and the website hosting his very rare book is a rare gem itself. Click the JFK at page top left to be transported to that sites archive of writings about his murder. The very important essay by Prouty's there too.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 3:52:31 PM | 12

The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote."

This one detail tells us so much about how propaganda works, and about how it can be defeated. Successful propaganda both depends upon and seeks to accelerate the erasure of historical memory. This is because its truths are always changing to suit the immediate needs of the state. None of its truths can be understood historically. b makes the connection between the documented but forgotten past "truth" of Merkel's quote and its present reincarnation in the Guardian, and this is really all he *needs* to do. What b points out is something quite simple; yet the ability to do this very simple thing is becoming increasingly rare and its exercise increasingly difficult to achieve. It is for me the virtue that makes b's analysis uniquely indispensable.

Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows: "Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?"

Whataboutism seems to deny that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth.

Posted by: WJ | May 4, 2018 3:53:30 PM | 13

1984, anyone?

Posted by: Jose Garcia | May 4, 2018 3:56:03 PM | 14

The absurd story that the OPCW says there was a 100gm/100mg who knows which on the door and other sites is just so stupid its painful. This implies that the Skripals both closed the door together and then went off on their day spreading the stuff everywhere, yet no one else was contaminated (apart from the fantasy policeman). Presumably the Skripals touch the cutlery, plates and wine glasses in the restaurant, so why weren't the staff there infected as they must have had to pick up the plates etc after the meal. Even the door to the entrance of the restaurant should be affected as they would have to push it open, thus leaving the chemical for other people to touch. Nope, nothing in this stupid story adds up and the OPCW can't even get the amounts of the chemical right.

Posted by: john wilson | May 4, 2018 4:03:04 PM | 15

The problem is,,, most know it's all BS but find it 'easier' to believe or at most ignore, as then there is no responsibility to 'do something'. Biggest problem with the world today is lazy insouciant citizens. (Yes,,, I'm a PCR reader) :))

Posted by: ken | May 4, 2018 4:03:13 PM | 16

b @10--

Did you catch the Lavrov interview I linked to on previous Yemen thread? As you might imagine, the verbiage used is quite similar. One very important point Lavrov made was the anti-Russian group consists of a very small number of nations representing a small fraction of humanity; and that while they have some economic and military clout, it's possible for the rest of the world's nations to sideline them and get on with the important business of forming a genuine Multipolar World Order, which is what the UN and its Charter envisioned.

I won't omit linking to Craig Murray's conclusion:

"I cannot sufficiently express my outrage that Leeds City Council feels it is right to ban a meeting with very distinguished speakers, because it is questioning the government and establishment line on Syria. Freedom of speech really is dead."

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 4:05:15 PM | 17

Anything that may not confirm to the 'truth' as prescribed from above must be overwhelmed with an onslaught of more lies or, if that does not work, be discredited as 'enemy' disinformation.
_______________________________________

Yes, exactly. The Western hegemony, i.e. the true "Axis of Evil" led by the US, and including the EU and non-Western allies, have invented the Perpetual Big Lie™.

This isn't a new insight, but it's worth repeating. It struck me anew while I was listening to a couple of UK "journalists" hectoring OPCW Representative Shulgin, and directing scurrilous and provocative innuendo disguised as "questions" to Mr. Shulgin and the Syrian witnesses testifying during his presentation.

It flashed upon me that there is no longer a reasonable expectation that the Perpetual Big Liars must eventually abandon, much less confess, their heinous mendacity. Just as B points out, there are no countervailing facts, evidence, rebuttals, theories, or explanations that can't be countered with further iterations of Big Lies, however offensively incredible and absurd.

Witnesses? They're either confederates, dupes, or terrified by coercion. Evidence and/or technical analysis? All faked! A nominally reliable party, e.g. the president of the Czech Republic, makes statements that undermine the Big Lie Nexus? Again-- he's either been bought off or frightened into making such inconvenient claims. Or he's just a mischievous liar.

And, as I seemingly never get tired of pointing out, the Perpetual Big Lie™ strategy arose, and succeeds, because the "natural enemies" of authoritarian government overreach have been coerced or co-opted to a fare-thee-well. So mass-media venues, and even supposedly independent technical and scientific organizations, are part of the Perpetual Big Lie™ apparatus.

Even as the Big Liars reach a point of diminishing returns, they respond with more of the same. I wish I were more confident that this reprehensible practice will eventually fail due to the excess of malignant hubris; I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Ort | May 4, 2018 4:22:35 PM | 18

Is Putin capitulating? Pro US Alexei Kudrin could join new government to negotiate "end of sanctions" with the West.

Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin will be brought back to “mend fences with the West” in order to revive Russia’s economy. Kudrin has repeatedly said that unless Russia makes her political system more democratic and ends its confrontation with Europe and the United States, she will not be able to achieve economic growth. Russia’s fifth-columnists were exalted: “If Kudrin joined the administration or government, it would indicate that they have agreed on a certain agenda of change, including in foreign policy, because without change in foreign policy, reforms are simply impossible in Russia,” said Yevgeny Gontmakher . . . who works with a civil society organization set up by Mr. Kudrin. “It would be a powerful message, because Kudrin is the only one in the top echelons with whom they will talk in the west and towards whom there is a certain trust.”

Putting Kudrin — an opponent of de - dollarization and an upholder of the Washington Consensus — in charge of Russia’s international outreach would be equal to putting Bill Clinton in charge of a girls' school. It would mark Putin’s de facto collapse as a leader. We shall know very soon. Either way, if anyone wondered what the approach to Russia would be from Bolton and Pompeo, we now know: they will play very hard ball with Putin, regardless of what he does (or doesn’t do), and with carefree readiness to risk an eventual snap.

https://archive.is/1Ynms#selection-1641.0-1641.66

Posted by: Passer by | May 4, 2018 4:24:44 PM | 19

mk@9
I can't find the retraction anywhere about the 100 grams. Do you have a link?

Posted by: Michael Weddington | May 4, 2018 4:25:21 PM | 20

Posted by: Passer by | May 4, 2018 4:24:44 PM | 18

So a new troll reasserting a western narrative. I doubt if the Russian government agrees with his assertions.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 4, 2018 4:43:19 PM | 21

@ 20 Laguerre

Certainly looks like @ 18 is a fine example of what b is presenting.

A good way to extract one's self from the propaganda is to refuse using whatever meme the disinformation uses, e.g. that Sergei Skripal was a double agent - that is not a known, only a convenient suggestion. Military intelligence is far better described as military information needed for some project or mission. Not surreptitious cloak and dagger spying. This is not to say Sergei Scripal was a British spy for which he was convicted, stripped of rank and career and exiled through a spy swap. To continue using Sergei Scripal was a double agent only repeats and verifies the disinformation meme and all the framing that goes with it. Find some alternative to what MSM produces that does not embed truthiness to their efforts.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | May 4, 2018 4:57:25 PM | 22

I'm interested by the fact that trolls never last long on MoA. With only b doing the moderation, you'd think they would proliferate, especially with his liberal approach. In the old days they used to be hasbara trolls mainly, indeed I've forgotten his name. Of course in those days, MoA was not that well known, but today it is. It seems that trolls pass, make a few comments, and then depart. Good thing, I think. leave us to our debates.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 4, 2018 5:01:02 PM | 23

In the Guardian I only read the comments, never the article. Here, I read both. That is the difference between propaganda and good reporting.

Posted by: Peter Schmidt | May 4, 2018 5:08:52 PM | 24

@Michael Weddington 19

I realize it's from one of the biggest propaganda organs in the world... take this New York Times report of the OPCW's retraction with a 100 grams -- 100mg? -- of salt:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/world/europe/opcw-skripal-attack.html

Posted by: Emily Dickinson | May 4, 2018 5:09:00 PM | 25

Passer by @18--

This same narrative was put forth in 2016 and is just as false now as then. As I posted on Yemen thread earlier, Putin on 5 May is likely to announce the formation of a Stavka. Kudrin is a neoliberal and as such is an enemy of humanity and will never again be allowed to hold a position of power within Russia's government. Let him emigrate to the West like his fellow parasites and teach junk economics at some likeminded university.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 5:12:57 PM | 26

Anyone seen this reported elsewhere?

https://www.rt.com/news/425810-white-helmets-us-funding-freeze/

Posted by: jalp | May 4, 2018 5:30:35 PM | 27

One of the first lies to jump out at me was this:

Alicia Kearns: “For instance for the first 10 days that Russia was inside Syria, it insisted through a large propaganda campaign that its planes were only bombing Islamic State’s positions, and it was categorically not true.”

A complete lie. I defy anyone to substantiate it.

Russian stated from the gitgo that it was going to kill terrorists. I recall no promise it was going to target ISIS and leave NATO sponsored terrorists alone. Of course, that is why NATO went apeshit at the time, seeing their well armed terrorists annihilated by Russian aircraft. Whereas it was obvious to a child that any tactician was going to target the terrorists that were presenting the most immediate threat to Damascus. ie NATO terrorists.

Posted by: Guy Thornton | May 4, 2018 5:31:40 PM | 28

@16 cont'd--

Adam Garrie adds to Murray's take on UK election by showing Sadiq Khan, London's mayor, to be yet another propagandizer. Garrie concludes:

"The fact is that the UK mainstream media that has cheered for war in Iraq, Libya and Syria on the basis of false information and has rushed to condemn Russia over equally false information is now saying that a man whose party just won an election has in fact lost an election. This is what happens one those who frame the terms of the debate in insincere ways are allowed to do so without a robust and truthful challenge."

Neil Clark argues it's "1938 Again" thanks to the propaganda and associated provocations, but that today's Nazis are the British and Americans. I'm sure many MoA agree. The future forecast by Orwell seems to have swallowed UK whole and is on the march to control other nations. I'd be very interested to hear from those inside UK give their take on the election.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 5:47:08 PM | 29

Just wonderin' Where are the Skripals? weeks go by and Russia isn't even asking any more - Why not?

As understand it the OPCW is taking "probes" today in Douma????? It's been weeks again Russia says nothing - Why not?

And why should we not consider that there are CIA assets within the OPCW?

Posted by: Babyl-on | May 4, 2018 5:47:28 PM | 30

Guy @27--

Actually, Russia made no distinctions between the various terrorist groups arguing that no effective distinction could be made to delineate between Daesh, Al-Qaeda and so-called moderate terrorists like FSA. This BBC item even accused Russia of "aiding ISIS," killing civilians and worsening the situation. But the Russians had learned from 2008 and had their own media well prepped to inform the world, while Lavrov made fools of Western diplomats and politicos by pointing out the absurdity of the term moderate terrorist. The West yelped about their toys being targeted; Russia responded by saying give us a list of the moderates and we'll desist from attacking them, but no list was ever presented.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 6:02:59 PM | 31

The RT report on the White Helmets funding links to a CBS report
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-freezes-funding-for-syrias-white-helmets/

Posted by: Ken | May 4, 2018 6:06:26 PM | 32

29
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201805041064149894-us-no-money-douma/

There have been a number of news articles on OPCW progress at Douma. Progress at the moment is OPCW have taken samples which included exhuming bodies and the samples are now being tested. Not much for Russia to do or say until the results from testing.

And what should Russia do about the self exiled traitor and his daughter?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 4, 2018 6:06:30 PM | 33

21 - Weren't the Brits calling Skripal a "defector" early on?

Posted by: Bart Hansen | May 4, 2018 6:07:02 PM | 34

@12 wj.. yes - that part where b is able to read german and take apart the quote on merkel is very central to this article and any attempt at breaking apart the propaganda that is on full display 24/7 in such publications as the guardian... all of b's post is good, but that was golden..

@22 laguerre.. that is largely true, however it pays to be aware, as the levels of sophistication are difficult to read and detect sometimes..

regarding @18's passer by's post - it is not that far removed from john helmers latest article that i and others linked to the past few days.. i would treat it all with a good degree of skepticism..i was speculating it might be a diversion tactic.. it is hard to know what the basis for helmers article was from a few days ago, although i liked what smoothie had to say on the helmer article at his site.. to quote him "1. You would never know (nor will Helmer) if S-300 were delivered or not, until it will be needed to know;
2. Even if to imagine that Kudrin somehow makes the "team" it absolutely will mean nothing since it was precisely on Kudrin's watch that Russia accumulated capital for modernization and re-armament as an example.

I wouldn't enjoy seeing Kudrin but there is no "going back" for Putin and there are million other indicators which testify to that. In the end, Russian Central Bank Nabiulina is in no way "inferior" to Kudrin. But we, indeed, will have to wait and see. After all: Putin Vse Slil is a popular tune among very many self-proclaimed "analysts" for the last 4 years. Yet somehow..." from the ironic smile story on his site yesterday...

Posted by: james | May 4, 2018 6:08:37 PM | 35

@Babyl-on 29
Where are the Skripals? weeks go by and Russia isn't even asking any more - Why not?
Russia doesn't ask because it knows, methinks. In fact I would be shocked if GRU wasn't aware of what they had for breakfast this morning.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 6:09:53 PM | 36

@19 michael weddington / @24 emily dickenson... here is rt's version -on the correction..
https://www.rt.com/news/425886-opcw-novichok-grams-correction/

Posted by: james | May 4, 2018 6:15:55 PM | 37

The quote mentioned by b:

About 50 to 100 grams of liquid nerve agent was used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, according to the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

That quantity — a range from slightly less than a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid — is significantly larger than the amount that would be created in a laboratory for research purposes, meaning that it was almost certainly created for use as a weapon, the director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in an interview. He added that he did not know the precise amount.

---------

It is one thing for a journalist to be innumerate, but a head of an agency with technical responsibilities should be able to make some quick plausibility checks.

(a) a surface of a door handle is under 100 cm sq (15 cm long, 2 cm wide, 15 x 2 x 2 = 60) so it would be smeared by a layer that consists of a very strong poison that would be at least 1 cm thick, both on upper and lower surfaces, not plausible

(b) it would be enough to poison victims almost instantly, barring Rasputin-like resistance

(c) why a lab would not be able to produce 100 g of anything? laboratory vessels of sufficient capacity are not available? would not fit on a bench with area 1-2 m sq? the hood would not have sufficient capacity? and a person using the lab for "research purposes" could also misuse it for other purposes.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 4, 2018 6:17:17 PM | 38

@ Don Bacon#35

Yeah your probably right. Still, diplomatically they don't and it is a continuing issue and fundamental to international relations to allow the Ambassador or his rep meet with citizens of their respective countries if they are detained or fall ill or are otherwise in possible need of help or are under arrest or held for any reason.

The UK just blatantly disregards this.

They should be called on this every day - can we see our citizens today?
Even introduce a draft at the UNSC.

I guess I'm just frustrated.

Posted by: Babyl-on | May 4, 2018 6:24:05 PM | 39

In this age of Orwellian newspeak,sites like Moon Of Alabama are indispensable.B ring involved in Central American and East Timor Solidarity groups back in the 1980s and 1990s, I recognised the role of mainstream media back then as mouthpieces for Empire and Imperialism and the neverending potrayal of the West as 'defenders of freedom and democracy'. In fact, I soon realised that whole democracy and freedom mantra was code for pillage, plunder and profit. As other commenters have pointed out, Western media are nothing more than the cheer squad for Neoliberalism and Total domination of the planet. Apart from this excellent, informative site, I find The Greanville Post, The Saker, Worldwide Socialist Web and Information Clearing House to be indispensable as well, as antidotes to the utter cow poo emanating from the liars at papers like The Guardian.

Posted by: Gezzah | May 4, 2018 6:34:08 PM | 40

@19 $ 37 The New York Times has published a correction. Milligrams not grams.

"LONDON — A chemical weapons watchdog amended statements on Friday that its leader had given to The New York Times, in which he estimated that 50 to 100 grams of liquid nerve agent had been used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England. The Times reported the incorrect information in an article published online on Thursday.

A statement issued by the group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said the amount should be measured in milligrams rather than grams.

The group went on to say that it would not be able to estimate how much of the nerve agent was used in Salisbury."

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/world/europe/opcw-skripal-attack.html

Posted by: dh | May 4, 2018 6:36:53 PM | 41

@39
That's the problem with the metric system, you mean to say milligrams and you say grams, you want to say milliliters and you say liters, it's a wonder anybody can deal with it. Better to do what the US does. Nobody aver says pound when they mean ounce. Its a factor of sixteen, as I recall. I might be wrong. Or is it twelve, like inches and feet?
In other words I'm shocked at the stupidity of the OPCW chief. What else did he get wrong?

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 6:54:25 PM | 42

Posted by: b | May 4, 2018 3:49:03 PM | 10
That is really interesting, thank you. I have often sighed when I read Russian responses to western attacks. They were so often lost in translation and too long after the fact, but this response is excellent and quick. Looks like they are upping their game, thank heavens!

Posted by: frances | May 4, 2018 6:55:20 PM | 43

I wonder how you would apply novichok to a door handle without poisoning yourself without a hazmat suit.

Posted by: Michael Weddington | May 4, 2018 6:55:23 PM | 44

@40 It's a French thing and your average NYT reader won't know the difference anyway. They probably think a milligram is a million grams.

Posted by: dh | May 4, 2018 7:10:21 PM | 45

Help! I'm just not getting this.
NYTimes quotes (corrected):
>[OPCW chief Uzumcu] estimated that 50 to 100 milligrams of liquid nerve agent had been used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.
>[OPCW] would not be able to estimate how much of the nerve agent was used in Salisbury.

So we have a difference between the chief and his agency?

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 7:13:06 PM | 46

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 5:47:08 PM | 28
re a win portrayed as a loss, the DM readership is burning up the comments sections with cries of, of course he lost, he is anti-Semitic, balanced by:
"Labour up 57 seats to over 2200. Tories down 25 to just over 1300 seats. Great night for the Tories?" and,

"Anybody would think from this article that Labour didn't have 583 more council seats that the Tories. That's right, you won't read the truth in this paper. Labour have 1467 and Tories have 884. Labour gained 37 seats yesterday, and Tories lost 2."

There is hope, you just have to look hard to find it. Also at DM they are savaging the latest claims of how much poison was used, quite a few people are on to May and her charade IMO.

Posted by: frances | May 4, 2018 7:13:09 PM | 47

@44 "So we have a difference between the chief and his agency?"

Seems that way. Looks as though somebody at the OPCW is doing his/her best to make the Salisbury thing look really dangerous and bad but Uzumcu didn't get the memo. Doesn't he have a family to think about?

Posted by: dh | May 4, 2018 7:21:10 PM | 48

@46
So it might have been liters I mean grams after all!

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 7:23:51 PM | 49

Guys, Russia is in deep trouble. No wonder Putin is so silent, there will never be S-300 for Syria, Israel can bomb whatever it wants and russian officials are begging for a meeting with Trump.

The sanctions seem to have worked if their goal was to change Russia’s behaviour. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his media machine to tone down its anti-American rhetoric and the buzz of diplomatic activity suggests that Russia is looking to find a new deal.

The losses from the new US sanctions for this year alone are massive 150 billion dollars. This is A LOT for an economy with the size of Spain or Italy.

link


How much will the new US sanctions imposed on April 6 cost Russia? There is the $16bn that the oligarchs and their companies named on the sanctions list have already lost from the fall in share prices in the first week of the new sanctions, but a bne IntelliNews back of the envelope calculation suggests the real cost to the economy is a visible $65bn, and once you start adding in the lost opportunity costs of investments that should have arrived in Russia but now won’t, that quickly rises to at least $150bn.

But the long-term costs of the new sanctions could be much more. Economists studying the problem argue that Russia will be increasingly isolated now and the reduced access to capital means slower growth – and that is expensive.

Russian Higher School of Economics (HSE) experts Natalia Akindinova and Nikolai Kondrashov say sanctions have increased Russia’s technological lag, and cemented low growth rates.

Russia doesn't have the US resources and will sink into stagnation unless deep structural reforms are put in place. Putin has just announced a $162bn spending spree on the social sphere, but few Russian observers have much confidence that Russia will suddenly transform itself.

Growth rate is minimal - 1,5 % per year accoring to IMF estimates for the next 5 years. Rusal was destroyed by US sanctions and Deripaska, who is close to Putin, was forced to resign as per US demands. And guess what would happen if more oligrarhs are targeted.


Russia is not on the rise, it is a declining country. Its annual GDP growth rate is 1,5 %, EU 2 %, US 2,5 %, World 3,8 %, China 6,9 %

In other words, with every year the US and the EU are getting stronger compared to Russia. (And weaker compared to China).

Similar dynamics exist for population, Russian population is roughly stagnant, thus Russia’s share of the world’s population is declining. For example the US is projected to reach 400-440 million people, and Russia will be lucky to remain at 140 million, with few fertile women due to aging population. TFR is just 1,68, comparable to that of the EU and lower than the US. The fastest growing russian cities are those from muslims areas mostly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7EhGdie9D0

Thus its share of the world economy and world population is declining with every year. The good news is that the West is declining too, but the bad news is that Russia is declining even faster thah the West.

The sanctions did their job, Russia was growing faster than the West and now it is growing slower than the West, thus losing ground vis-a-vis the West. So it is now one of the slowest growing economies in the world.

Don't look at US debts to destroy the US, they can print money for a long time so that the rest of the world pays for their deficits. It will take a long time before the yuan can replace the dollar.

If not for China helping Russia's economy, it would have imploded long time ago. The truth is, Russia’s rulers should have done much more than they have done up to now. They lost the time during 2000 - 2013, and only reacted to try reform the economy when sanctions forced them.

China will definitely be a world power, but Russia will be lucky to make it. If it becomes a part of some chinese sphere of inluence, it might survive. But it will be dwarfed by China.

Posted by: Passer by | May 4, 2018 7:25:27 PM | 50

@47
I said liters because the agent was claimed to be a liquid, and I'm guessing (being American) that grams, straight or milli, is not a liquid measure.
Now I'm even more confused.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 7:27:09 PM | 51

@ Passer by 48
Isn't it amazing that a "declining" country can be so powerful, influential and successful, with all sorts of "powerful" countries complaining about Russia. Just amazing.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 7:31:54 PM | 52

@50
I just got out of charm school where I learned to say "amazing" and not "bullshit."

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 4, 2018 7:33:40 PM | 53

I am expecting the morons in control of the US/UK/EU to start blocking access to web sites that they disapprove of.

If this is so incredible then consider how so much that is so incredible has already occurred.

It's coming. I don't know if a VPN will be able to get around it.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | May 4, 2018 7:36:24 PM | 54

The NYT simply redirected the May3 story to a May 4 correction. But the May 3 story is alive and kicking here, thanks to Archive.org: link">https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/world/europe/opcw-salisbury-novichok-skripal.html">link
However, you have to be fast and press CTRL+A followed by CTRL+C, then paste that on a text program (Word or Notepad) so you can read, because it redirects to a "missing page" note.
I put that on a PDF and on Google Drive: https://bit.ly/2jvqidz (to the suspicious, you can first check it on http://www.checkshorturl.com/)

The OPCW correction is here: https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-spokespersons-statement-on-amount-of-nerve-agent-used-in-salisbury/

Amzingly, Ahmet Üzümcü is still head of the OPCW...


Posted by: Vasco | May 4, 2018 7:38:46 PM | 55

The concept that someone could be poisoned by a nerve agent and subsequently a few hours later enjoy a meal at a restaurant is simply beyond incoherent nonsense.
Attacked by BZ by a person known to them after they finished at the restaurant who then places traces of nerve agent at a few locations to create a casus belli. Pretty straightforward.

Posted by: Phillip O'Reilly | May 4, 2018 7:40:12 PM | 56

18 Passby, i sometimes read the financial times however their political reporters all swallow the exceptional western propaganda policy line.
I only read 'western' media to see what the enemy is up too. Coming from Australia I came across a addon that gets beyond 'their wall', so you can keep up with what the 'enemy' is propagandizing. Enjoy ALL
https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/339211
Works for me!

Posted by: col from oz | May 4, 2018 7:43:17 PM | 57

@49 It's OK. Everybody is confused. Even the OPCW is confused. We don't even know what kind of nerve agent was or wasn't used or even what form it did or didn't come in.

Posted by: dh | May 4, 2018 7:44:18 PM | 58

@56 I am hoping to get some clarification from Boris Johnson fairly soon.

Posted by: dh | May 4, 2018 7:47:48 PM | 59

Meanwhile the United Kingdom will continue to support its black propaganda operation in Syria (The White Helmets)

The United Kingdom will continue to support the activities of the White Helmets organization in war-torn Syria, a Foreign Office spokesperson told Sputnik on Friday commenting on the reported suspension of assistance to the non-governmental group by Washington.

“The UK remains committed to supporting the White Helmets and the vital work they do, providing life-saving assistance to civilians affected by Syria’s conflict,” the spokesperson said.

It used to be that the White Helmets were to provide life-saving assistance to the Syrian people but since they are now confined to Daraa, Idlib and north and west Aleppo, that is no longer true, hence the construct of "civilians affected by Syria’s conflict", (which is also not true as the civilians in government-controlled areas are also affected by the Syria's conflict and the White Helmets ran away with their jihadist mates instead of supporting local civilians).

Posted by: Ghost Ship | May 4, 2018 7:52:12 PM | 60


Great article. I hope your health is now better. Hard work, it must be, dissecting disinformation accurately.

Worth it though. At some stage, you know, enough of us are going to be disillusioned enough with our mass media to stop attending to them altogether. I get the feeling that they'll end up just telling lies to each other and no one else listening.

That's how it went in the old Soviet Union and it'll probably be how it goes here.

Posted by: English Outsider | May 4, 2018 8:09:53 PM | 61

About anti-aircraft systems for Syria, SS-300/400. Those systems are quite expensive. Comparable American systems are priced about 2.5 G$ per "battery". I would guess that Russian systems cannot cost much less than 50% of that amount. Comprehensive defense of Syrian territory could require 10-20 batteries, which is something that Syria surely cannot afford, and even of RF it is a bit much. One could settle for 1 system for south Damascus (near Golan) and 1 for each major urban area, Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo -- Tartus and Latakia are defended already.

Putin is very, very conservative on financial matters. Some deem him "fiscal neo-liberal", although it is quite different than "following western prescriptions". Western advise is to stabilize exchange rate without currency control, and that is perhaps the most "efficient" method to accumulate a huge amount of debt. The current policy allows rubble to float quite freely, so speculators face quite a bit or risk, additionally, depreciated rubble makes non-oil exports more competive, e.g. arms and nuclear reactors are build with rubble wages, aluminum is produced with hydropower, again priced in rubbles, etc. etc., which allows to diversify economy. Such diversification is surely a gradual process, so the effects take time.

Concerning money to arm Syria with no charge, oil is 30% higher than in the previous year and that allows to contemplate that. It can also be a good investment -- countries like India would be interested in proven weapon systems, and the end-game of Syrian war would pit Russian arms squarely against NATO -- regaining Tanf enclave, lands east of Euphratus etc, NATO does have a shortage of "boots", but in the desert air support can be very effective. A victory could create many customers, but it is easier said than done. Russia will move cautiously until it has enough operational systems etc.

Concerning Kudrin, perhaps Putin needs a contrarian with ideas how to stimulate productive investments, but it could also be some internal power games -- oligarchs are "under control", but they have to be humored too. Additionally, allowing putative liberal champions to have stints at high government posts takes away "rebel" credibility. Putin likes when he has comfortable majority in polls AND fragmented opposition, and that requires to deliver the basic popular requirement AND political "dark arts". Note that Russia is quite light on outright authoritarian measures (compare with Turkey or Israel).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 4, 2018 8:16:54 PM | 62

Posted by: Michael Weddington | May 4, 2018 6:55:23 PM | 42

I wonder how you would apply novichok to a door handle without poisoning yourself without a hazmat suit.

Easy. It is a binary agent, so you send two agents, carrying one component each, 3 minutes apart.
The Agent #1 applies the first component, leaves, and then the Agent #2 CAREFULLY applies his stuff over the fist. The agent #2 has 45 seconds to leave before components react and the thing becomes totally lethal, but it is wise if you send some rookie as #2 so if he croaks not a biggie.

Posted by: hopehely | May 4, 2018 8:21:58 PM | 63

@48 passer by
I think you'll find most commenting here at MofA have been vaccinated. A nice collection of words you've put together, a tad on the longish side, though you'll have a tough time reaching others with a common understanding of your truth. I think post World Cup you can expect the noise you seem to be missing. Hope this helps.

@58 Ghost ship
White Helmets still loved in the UK yes, though US funding frozen now. The writing is on the wall for these failed stunt doubles moonlighting as headchoppers. Any takers on when The Academy will ask for the 2017 Oscar back...?

Posted by: MadMax2 | May 4, 2018 8:35:28 PM | 64

Regarding Kudrin. I read this morning on Fort Russ that this story comes from the Financial Times - haven't spent any more time on it. I prefer Pepe Escobar's take, that Putin is preparing a war cabinet, linked I believe by karlof1:
Popular Putin prepares for Cold War 2.0

As to Helmer, I find him sometimes brilliant and always a tireless researcher, on many things, but often more gloomy in his outlook than subsequent events justify. Choose which pieces to agree with.

Regarding S-300. The Saker has a translation of a Russian piece saying the S-300's are already in Syria, and there are great reasons for not revealing this fact - very much to do with military tactics. It's a technical piece for those who love hardware, radar and hypersonics: Syria SITREP: How the Russian General Staff is fooling the US and Israel

Posted by: Grieved | May 4, 2018 8:36:22 PM | 65

@48 Passer

Russia as a country can easily withstand the sanctions as an oil rich country and trade with China and Iran. Paper losses are not important. The real problem for Putin is the sanctions on the oligarchs themselves , as they have significant power. They now have a reason to want Putin gone if he does not act in their interests.

The Russian HSE was set up as puppet of the western neoliberal bandits who looted Russia In the early 90's .

The sanctions prevent the oligarchs from traveling to the United States or doing business or even opening a bank account with any major company or bank in the West. It also restricts foreign individuals from facilitating transactions on their behalf.

It could also possibly allow the US to seize assets they might hold in the West, or at least provide the stepping stone to that step.

Posted by: Pft | May 4, 2018 8:38:44 PM | 66

Guys, Russia is in deep trouble. No wonder Putin is so silent, there will never be S-300 for Syria, Israel can bomb whatever it wants and russian officials are begging for a meeting with Trump. [...]

How much will the new US sanctions imposed on April 6 cost Russia? There is the $16bn that the oligarchs and their companies named on the sanctions list have already lost from the fall in share prices in the first week of the new sanctions, but a bne IntelliNews back of the envelope calculation suggests the real cost to the economy is a visible $65bn, and once you start adding in the lost opportunity costs of investments that should have arrived in Russia but now won’t, that quickly rises to at least $150bn. [...]

Posted by: Passer by | May 4, 2018 7:25:27 PM | 48

Let's see: fleeting paper losses plus some vague "opportunity costs of investments that should have arrived in Russia" could add up to $150 G$. Is it paper loss, or some economic reality?

1. Russia has steady trade surplus, but a problem with capital flight. Sanctions make it harder for the capital to flee. Mind you, close ties with Western financial markets can be disastrous, e.g. Argentina and Greece. Those fabled "opportunities" are not a one-way street, manna falling from the Western heaven into the domestic desert. Russia needs steady partnership with companies like, say, Siemens, major car manufactures and assorted other manufacturing companies, and USA can snipe at those without any formal sanctions, and it does.

2. Concerning purely financial opportunities like loans or stock prices, Russia needs first and foremost robust domestic market, and in the case of loans, it does not have to be "free market". I cannot repeat enough how much Greece gained from the clever advise of Goldman Sachs -- they surely managed to borrow more than allowed by the letter of Euro zone regulations. That opportunity was in longer term a negative one.

3. Again in plausibility of "150 G$ lost in this year alone". That would mean 10% of GDP. Thus, barring the new, incremental sanctions, Russia would have larger growth rate than ANY major economy, China, India, you name it. And compare with Ukraine, blessed by the absence of Western sanctions and having roughly the same growth rate as Russia (after a terrible contraction that Russia did not have in the last decade).

4. One dollar per barrel translates into nearly 4 G$ per year for Russia, so this year increase in oil prices translates into ca. 60 G$. Consider Rosal, affected by sanctions. It depends of world aluminum prices that were depressed by almost insane Chinese investments in aluminum production, now more than 50% of world total. The latter were literally fueled by cheap dirty coal from the provinces upwind from Beijing, so somewhat belatedly the government in Beijing puts some breaks on that "free activity", and aluminum prices are rebounding. Coughing in Beijing is more important here than harrumphing in Washington.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 4, 2018 8:44:23 PM | 67

Peter Au,

"OPCW have taken samples [from Douma] which included exhuming bodies" of persons ostensibly killed by a chemical attack that has not been shown to have occurred, but has on the contrary been denied as ever having happened by every eye witness to and participant in the White Helmet video, including a boy that, had a chemical attack really taken place, would probably not be around to testify that it didn't.

But now we at least see one important purpose behind Al-Islam's mass slaughter of women and children prisoners just before leaving down. I wonder how they died, exactly, and where their bodies are buried? I guess the OPCW is about to find out.

Posted by: WJ | May 4, 2018 8:45:21 PM | 68

@ at the Russian "doom and gloom"

Russia is in a resurgent phase. It would be difficult for Putin to lose his overwhelming popular approval without some serious gaffes that he seems incapable of making, irrespective of a lackluster GNP (Obama anyone?...he rode for eight years with a 1-3% to great and fine fanfare and much koolaid was drunk by everyone). For better or worse, Russia is not seeking to escalate, but to cockblock wherever it can and its deciders have given the nod to an endgame strategy that is banking on the west to start violently convulsing until their heads explode like in the movie "Scanners."

It is true that we should be worried about the next few months with the World Cup, etc., but to doubt the Russian resolve and their faith in Putin right now would be foolish.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | May 4, 2018 8:54:28 PM | 69

Einer großen Konfusion! The Skripal affair is a real-time "rabbit hole".

I'm getting confused by the way "novichok" and "nerve agent" remains central to the discussion.

The UK government narrative began with a fairly firm assertion that a "military-grade nerve agent" had been deployed against the Skripals. It's not necessary to retrace all of the rabbit-hole twists and turns that followed.

The announced choice of weapon was obviously intended to push the public's buttons, and trigger associations with everything from recently-televised spy programs to the mysterious death of Alexander Litvinenko. The not very subliminal inference was that a sinister Putin assassin had committed this dastardly deed, etc.

But even the sketchy and compromised evidence has long since fatally undermined the prospect that a real, or true, nerve agent was used in the manner originally propounded with confidence. If the Skripals were poisoned at all, it was not with a fast-acting, hyper-lethal chemical weapon.

To mix up a metaphor cocktail, to me the "novichok" red herring has morphed into a wild goose chase. It's like chasing a will-o'-the-wisp.

But it keeps getting played up because it's one of the few pieces of the puzzle allowed on the board of public scrutiny.

Posted by: Ort | May 4, 2018 8:57:46 PM | 70

@Jose Garcia 13

Yes, it's frightening isn't it? With rare exception, the western media has always functioned as an arm of the state, yet it usually has made some effort to retain the illusion of a neutral facade, as poor as those efforts may have been. The fact that it has now openly and blatantly gone beyond that and openly seeks to limit and/or criminalize voices which are not state approved takes it to another level. It is open war against whatever remains of a "free" society, an open war against its own citizenry's access to information.

For the media to go from barely concealed open propagandizing to outright censorship, the state powers must be increasingly frightened that their house of cards is on the verge of collapse.

As the western powers feel increasingly that their ideological grip is under assault, I can only wonder what sort of new repressive tactics will be dreamed up in the future and used against ordinary citizens.

Posted by: sleepy | May 4, 2018 9:20:57 PM | 71

https://www.trtworld.com/asia/malaysia-releases-images-of-suspects-in-palestinian-scientist-killing-16945

Western governments and media have a good occasion to show their aversion to assassinating civilians. I do not keep my breath.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 4, 2018 9:25:56 PM | 72

From the Intercept piece linked below on the proposed legislative expansion of the 2012 NDAA:

On the other hand, supporters of the NDAA’s new provisions excitedly averred that they were new and did apply to U.S. citizens. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., claimed that the bill would “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” and individuals could now be imprisoned by the military without charge, “American citizen or not.”

https://theintercept.com/2018/05/01/ndaa-2018-aumf-detention/

The homeland is legally part of the battlefield! I love it!!

Show confidence in our institutions or be imprisoned in them for life! How Kafka-esque!

Posted by: WJ | May 4, 2018 9:27:16 PM | 73

Posted by: karlof1 | May 4, 2018 5:47:08 PM | 28

"I'd be very interested to hear from those inside UK give their take on the election."

The first I heard it had even taken place was here on this site.

As I now understand it was local government elections in England. AFAIK nothing took place in Wales or Northern Ireland nor in Scotland where I live and where there is absolutely zero relevance or interest in it whatsoever and I'd imagine very little interest in England either. It simply doesn't matter at all.

The Labour and Tory parties are indistinguishable and interchangeable despite Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn's efforts; the hard-core Blairites and traitors infesting the party he leads will destroy it utterly, terminally and irreparably damage its electability than see it deviate from the now entrenched murderous neo-liberal economic course at home and costly criminally insane genocidal wars abroad for their foreign paymasters, assuring for England Tory government without end.

In Scotland there was a real choice which scares the English establishment witless and to their very core as it is the source of the wealth that has kept the UK on life-support this last forty years, and Scots have made the decision to give it up as a lost cause and pull the plug from the long brain-dead patient.

Thus, in the 2015 UK-wide General Election it was held to be a 'blow' for the Scottish National Party across all mainstream media when the SNP decisively won 59 Westminster parliamentary seats out of all possible 62 seats in Scotland in which they stood for election. The others were were a very suspicious highly improbable one seat each for the other three contenders, the England-based staunchly Unionist/British Nationalist Tory/Labour/LibDem parties, all draped in the Butcher's Apron Union Fleg.

The mask of their notional differences was completely discarded as they all joined into one organisation which is what they've always been behind the scenes, plotted together, urged anti-SNP tactical voting and stood together on an anti-independence platform, with ALL print and broadcast media in Scotland and England too, without exception and with the BBC in particular shamelessly orchestrating blatantly partisan gushing cheerleading coverage of this panic-driven anti-SNP alliance's lying threatening demonising campaign of falsehoods. And having shot their bolt, pulled out every last stop, in utter desperation and with no possible way back, it still it only netted them 3 out of 62 seats in Scotland, which stomping mandate for Scottish Independence nevertheless instead gave those English parties with just three seats out of 62 a mandate to govern us as they please, which is always in a malign extractive exploitative disparaging manner, remotely from London.

Subsequent elections were and future elections will be fixed in advance and the SNP will in due course be co-opted, bought and sold for a parcel of their own gold, to prevent such a near catastrophe recurring.

This is how democracy works, or rather doesn't in this very disunited UK, where even the fiction of democracy was long ago discarded, they have no further need or care to maintain any illusion of legitimacy or choice, as no-one falls for such silliness anymore. If need be they'll kill us all up here in Scotland, without scruple if we continue to make trouble by seeking to end the supposedly bi-lateral union with England into which were forced by blockade, terror and bribes given to an unrepresentative elite few in 1707.

Posted by: Tony M | May 4, 2018 9:30:32 PM | 74

@WJ no. 92

In my post shortly above yours, I posed the question:

"As the western powers feel increasingly that their ideological grip is under assault, I can only wonder what sort of new repressive tactics will be dreamed up in the future and used against ordinary citizens."

You provided an answer.

Posted by: sleepy | May 4, 2018 9:31:32 PM | 75

Correction to above--WJ @ 72

Posted by: sleepy | May 4, 2018 9:32:21 PM | 76

Posted by: Piotr Berman 65

One dollar per barrel translates into nearly 4 G$ per year for Russia, so this year increase in oil prices translates into ca. 60 G$

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

Not sure if the connection between gdp growth and various sanctions losses or oil prices is that direct. Otherwise you should have 5,5 % gdp growth for this year (around 1,5 regular gdp growth plus 4 percent caused by the oil price rise, those 60 billion $) for this year, instead of the projected 1,7 growth for this year (the projection, which is by the European Commision, reportedly takes the oil price rise into account).

Its also possible that the sanctions annulled the rising oil price effect, hence the weak gdp growth for 2018 (1,7 %) that is almost the same as the one from 2017 (1,5 %).

Posted by: Observer | May 4, 2018 9:32:51 PM | 77

karlof1@ 11

It was interesting to read Prouty's article on the Kennedy affair and compare to 9-11. What people saw and witnessed on the spot was quickly smothered by a ready made story that was trotted out before Kennedy's blood was dry almost, a story endlessly repeated in the press until everyone 'knows' what happened while witnesses and those with real questions are sidelined, marginalized, attacked, (soon dead), and then labeled 'conspiracy nuts'. Repeated on a small scale for Skripal affair and Douma 'gas' attack. I guess something that works, or appears to, encourages going back to the well again and again.

Posted by: the pessimist | May 4, 2018 9:47:16 PM | 78

WJ 66

The dead people filmed by the white helmets apparently died of asphyxiation due to dust and smoke. I take it that some of the victims that featured in the videos are those that have been exhumed by OPCW.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 4, 2018 9:57:35 PM | 79

Well there you go being reasonable again.

Posted by: WJ | May 4, 2018 10:02:15 PM | 80

Ort @ 68
The term 'orwellian' has -rightly- regained popularity as google, facebook, twitter among others in tech whoredom rejig their algorithms to mirror/stenograph/echo the singular narratives of the day...now that the printing presses are dying.

Though, as you mention rabbit-hole, there is room for another term to re-enter popular vernacular...a term that even better describes the generation of the narratives themselves: 'carollian'.


Carrollian (comparative more Carrollian, superlative most Carrollian)
Of or pertaining to Lewis Carroll (1832-1898, real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) or his writings, most notably a type of imaginative fantasy involving humorous plays on words and logic.

Like dh @57 I am expecting full clarity on the Skripal affair very, very soon from Boris 'The Price is Right' Johnson. LSD may be required.

Posted by: MadMax2 | May 4, 2018 10:05:49 PM | 81

21

Not totally OT, there is forceable Controlled Dissent too, as witness:
After Kanye's epic rant against the Ubers, the music industry moguls, their financiers and agents, he was foreceably hospitalized, then 'bleached' in a pharmaceutical coma and electro-convulsion 'therapy' (sic), all perfectly legal, under a physician's 'care' (sic), it happens 100s of times across America every day, often foreceably.

As soon as he was released, Kanye had the calm demeanor and dead eyes of someone with no memories. A blank slate. Bleached. They bleached his hair as a signal. Look at the old videos after.

People in this situation gravitate to their 'caregivers', families, handlers and familiar faces of their music agents. And to people they see on TV. Like Trump. They search for a handle on reality. They hold onto that security like a blanket. Trump is an important man. I want to be near him.

And as Kanye builds new memories of being among those Evangelicals and Rabbinicals who crowd around Trump like seagulls around fish guts, Kanye wlll completely forget he once raged against the Machine, and become a modern-day Perry Como crooner. Sad. He'll probably headline in the Poconos.

Don't hate the Player,
Hate the Game.

Posted by: Chipnik | May 4, 2018 10:10:18 PM | 82

The Guardian has enlisted a certain Nougaraide, or rather recycled a destitued Director of LeMonde (better knownknown as the im-Monde).
Yesterday the Young Leader Joffrin director of the Liberation newspaper committed a master piece of 1984 gigantic proportions just on clue:
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/16327be401421577

The french press is subsidised in the name of the Plurality of Opinion
as long as they tow the AFP line, of course.

Posted by: Charles Michael | May 4, 2018 10:43:35 PM | 83

On the subject of Russia's national power, measuring national power is a tricky business. Books have been written about how to measure it, also Rand studies, etc. In researching the subject I came across an article with the subject: Measuring National Power: Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia in Decline? May 4, 2018, from Russia Matters, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Here's a summary of the "key findings," with results by research method. Is it biased? I don't know, but let's consider it.

1. The only single-variable approach used by the authors was the Gross Domestic Product Index (GDPI), which measures the ratio of Russia’s GDP to that of the world as a whole and to the GDPs of individual countries (in terms of purchasing power parity, or PPP, in constant 2011 international dollars). This method of measuring national power shows Russia to have gained on the world as a whole in 1999-2016 and on all five of its Western competitors, whose share of global GDP declined by double digits while Russia’s rose by 3 percent. Russia’s performance vis-à-vis its BRICS peers landed it right in the middle of the group in terms of rate of growth. Russia’s share of global GDP was the largest among the hydrocarbon-dependent countries in 2016, but four of the six outperformed Russia in terms of rate of growth, as did all the former Soviet republics except Ukraine. In absolute terms, Russia’s GDP on the index was behind China’s, the United States’, India’s and Germany’s, but ahead of the rest of the comparands.
2. The second model for measuring national power was devised by Chin-Lung Chang of Taiwan’s Fo-guang University and takes into account a nation’s “critical mass” (its population and land mass), GDP and military strength. According to this calculation Russia’s national power grew by 10.31 percent in 1999-2016, a faster rate than all of its Western competitors. A comparison within the BRICS group reveals that Russia lagged behind China and India in terms of rate of growth of power but surpassed South Africa and Brazil. Russia also lagged behind most of its post-Soviet and hydrocarbon peers in terms of rate of growth of power, but its absolute power was greater than that of its post-Soviet and hydrocarbon-producing peers.
3. The variables used in the third model, the Revised Geometric Index of Traditional National Capabilities (RGITNC), include countrywide population, urban population, energy consumption, military expenditures and value-added manufacturing. Under this method, Russia’s national power decreased by 0.98 percent from 1999 to 2016. In comparison, the power of Italy, Germany, Britain, France and the U.S. decreased, respectively, by 34.17 percent, 29.6 percent, 29.6 percent, 26.85 percent and 18.47 percent. The same period saw the power of China and India, Russia’s BRICS peers, grow by 106.53 percent and 29.84 percent, respectively, while the power of Brazil and South Africa declined by 14.42 percent and 4.39 percent, respectively. Most of Russia’s post-Soviet peers also saw their power increase in the research period, as did Russia’s hydrocarbon peers, with the exception of Venezuela, which declined by 38.68 percent. In terms of absolute power, Russia ranked the fourth-most powerful nation, behind the U.S., China and India.
4. The fourth model for measuring national power is adapted from American intelligence analyst Ray S. Cline’s index of the perceived power of nations. This Experimental Index of National Power (EINP), as the authors have termed it, measures national resources, including territory, population, economic power, military power and technological prowess, along with a nation’s “capability to employ resources,” i.e., government effectiveness. Using this model, Russia’s national power grew by 118 percent between 1999 and 2016. In comparison, U.S. national power declined by 16 percent, while that of Italy, Germany, Great Britain and France—all of which cut their military budgets during this period—declined by 57 percent, 38 percent, 31 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Russia’s national power also expanded faster than any of the few BRICS, ex-Soviet and energy-producing peers for which data is available, including China and India. The dramatic growth in Russia’s national power was largely fueled by an increase in government effectiveness as defined by the World Bank (101 percent). . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 5, 2018 12:07:18 AM | 84

Guy and karlofi1. In fact, Russia over and over again reminded the US that they were supposed to separate the “good” terrorists from the bad ones. Kerry and Kelly both said on numerous occasions that they were working on it.

Posted by: Daniel | May 5, 2018 12:33:59 AM | 85

Baby-lon. OPCW’s press release today says their mission is done, and they’re on their way back. Of course, they also chide Russia for taking the witnesses OPCW refused to interview in Syria to OPCW headquarters. I’m guessing they’re paving the way to ignore those testimonies because Russia/Syria did it “wrong.”

Posted by: Daniel | May 5, 2018 12:40:26 AM | 86

`Don Bacon @40. Good satire.

I used to tutor math at a Jr. College where many of my students were recent immigrants. Having to teach them the US weights and measures was maddening. “Yeah, 12 of these equals one of those; then three of those equals one of these, or 5,280 of them equals one of these.”

I’ve always contended that learning conversions is a waste of time. Most people couldn’t judge the difference between a quart and a liter or between a yard and a meter anyway. So just start using the metric system and consult a conversion table/calculator on those rare occasions when precise conversion matters.

Posted by: Daniel | May 5, 2018 12:51:46 AM | 87

The good terrorists take orders from the US, and are paid.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 5, 2018 12:54:35 AM | 88

@85
Okay on meters and liters, but fahrenheit-centigrade and mile-kilometer are a challenge and also grams-pounds and centimeters-inches. How can the US pretend to rule the world when it's on different standards from the world? It makes no sense. (But what does?)

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 5, 2018 1:05:36 AM | 89

The troll called "Passer by" looks very similar to the troll Matt who posts occasionally at Off-Guardian and who used to post at Kremlin Stooge. Matt claimed to be a Venezuelan student studying at a college in Canada (even though someone at Off-Guardian discovered he used several IP addresses, one of which was based in Tel Aviv) and was only too eager to disrupt conversations and derail comments threads.

Note that at Comment 48, the troll cherry-picks information out of its original context to support his argument that Russia is in decline militarily, economically and demographically. Not surprisingly, he doesn't leave links to his sources (in case some of us investigate and call him out for misusing information).

Among the honorary professors of the National Research University - Higher School of Economics are included Yegor Gaidar (father of the economic shock therapy "reforms" that plunged Russia into free-market chaos in the early 1990s) and Alexei Kudrin.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Research_University_%E2%80%93_Higher_School_of_Economics#Honorary_Professors

I'd be careful of answering to any comments from "Passer by".

Posted by: Jen | May 5, 2018 1:13:50 AM | 90

I've just looked up some information on OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü. As I suspected, Üzümcü's background is not in chemistry at all. He is a career diplomat.

"... Ambassador Üzümcü was born in Armutlu, Turkey, on 30 August 1951 and holds a bachelor's degree in international relations with a specialisation in public administration from the Faculty of Political Sciences, Ankara University ..."
https://www.opcw.org/about-opcw/technical-secretariat/director-general/biography/

Should we really be surprised that Üzümcü made such a faux pas in mistaking milligrams for grams?

Incidentally the Chief Executive of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Porton Down), Gary Aitkenhead, also has no chemistry-related qualifications. As former British ambassador Craig Murray notes (rather dismissively}, Aitkenhead used to work for Motorola.

Posted by: Jen | May 5, 2018 1:24:05 AM | 91

89

Should we really be surprised that Üzümcü made such a faux pas in mistaking milligrams for grams?

Yes, because that is grade 7 level of chemistry in Europe. It is elementary, Watson!

Posted by: hopehely | May 5, 2018 1:34:35 AM | 92

Don. To me it's still the same thing. We don't need to bother converting degrees or miles either. Just use the metric ones. If we'd changed over in the 1980s like Congress legislated we should, most folks wouldn't even remember the old system by now. That's why autos had both kilometers and miles on their speedometers; it was legally required during the planned switchover.

BTW: Fun fact. Benjamin Franklin proposed the metric system. That's why we have "metric money" instead of pounds and shillings and all that bizarre stuff. But when it came time for the US and France to set the new standards for a metric system, the US was too busy to bother, so the French just went ahead and did it. Then the anglophile USAmericans refused to accept a "French system."

He also recommended changing spelling to a phonetic system. He pointed out that using the existing convoluted system, "fish" could be spelled phytio, or something like that. (ie. "physics" and "abortion").

Posted by: Daniel | May 5, 2018 1:57:09 AM | 93

>>>> hopehely | May 4, 2018 8:21:58 PM | 61

From what I understand the reaction between binary agents is almost instantaneous so with your scenario the second operative is dead come what may. Not exactly a great way to recruit operatives. "Join the FSB/SVR/GRU and die!"

What would make more sense is if the second chemical is applied to the target away from the location the first chemical was applied in the expectation that the target has absorbed (not adsorbed) enough of it to create a lethal dose but hopefully cleaned off any surplus to avoid poisoning the second operative.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | May 5, 2018 3:19:10 AM | 94

>>>>> Grieved | May 4, 2018 8:36:22 PM | 63

Regarding S-300. The Saker has a translation of a Russian piece saying the S-300's are already in Syria, and there are great reasons for not revealing this fact - very much to do with military tactics. It's a technical piece for those who love hardware, radar and hypersonics: Syria SITREP: How the Russian General Staff is fooling the US and Israel

Makes a lot of sense. With highly mobile networked systems like S-400/S-300/Pantsir you can set up ambushes and aircraft hunter-killer teams. BTW, someone mentioned the beast mode of the F-35 but to avoid losing all your F-35s, you can not switch to beast mode until you've destroyed all the SAM systems in the area you are flying over and with highly mobile networked systems you could never be certain, so the F-35 is stuck on 4 devices in total for its load out for all time if it's used against a near-peer of the United States.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | May 5, 2018 3:30:37 AM | 95

As stated by another post, if the Syrians are to operate the S-300s, it will require time to train them. The systems are complex.
I would think that the Russians would keep some of their own personnel stationed with the systems, too.

Posted by: Perimtr | May 5, 2018 3:58:17 AM | 96

Passerby 48

Who are we kidding ' Russia doesn't have U S resources . . . '
That is certainly news to anyone who has studied the resource wealth of SIBERIA - let's start with water and move on . . .

Posted by: ashley albanese | May 5, 2018 4:33:15 AM | 97

Everyone (except you odd folks across the pond) including small children would intuitively know that a hundred grams is something about the size of a pebble - and yet this glaringly painful fact didn't strike anyone who handled the datasheet including the good spokesman himself, as suspicious, could only lead to one explanation: Those villainous Ruskies pelted the poor man and his daughter unconscious with Novichok(tm)!

Lying takes a lot of effort.

Posted by: Drive-by commenting | May 5, 2018 4:45:17 AM | 98

Drive-by commenting | May 5, 2018 4:45:17 AM | 96

100g are about 3.5 ounces. That ain't no pebble...

Posted by: V | May 5, 2018 5:49:18 AM | 99

Further thoughts on the White Helmets.

The US State Department has stopped funding them because they are all in the jihadist bastion in Idlib or soon will be after jihadists in the Homs/Hama and Daraa pockets surrender and are deported to Idlib. At that point the claims the White Helmets are a part of a terrorist group become pretty hard to disprove and the whole White Helmet legend falls apart, particularly how they were created to help all Syrians. This is a replay of events around Japanese biological and chemical warfare Unit 731, which when the Soviet Union put the ones they'd captured on trial for war crimes, the United States claimed it was Soviet propaganda even though the United States had scooped up the leaders and given them amnesty. So nothing really has changed in Washington.

Meanwhile, back in London, the idiots in the May government haven't worked out yet how continuing to fund a terrorist-associated entity will look bad for the UK, particularly when Russia is running such a successful information war because they, the Russians, are relying on the truth (whatever that is) rather than lies that the UK relies on. I can't help but feel that a subversive civil servant whispered in his minister's ear about how important it was to keep funding the White Helmets to delay their imminent departure from the pages of history.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | May 5, 2018 6:47:22 AM | 100

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