Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 26, 2014

Open Thread 2014-33

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 26, 2014 at 18:28 UTC | Permalink

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A Glorious Piece of Meat: The Neural Basis of Consciousness

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 26 2014 18:46 utc | 1

Big Media Pays this Torture Supporter to Spout Her Opinions on TV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6Hz36of8bI&list=PLfrlsC1yJ2dTh5ozLrpz7YTIkDuQIY1uk

Posted by: Tom Murphy | Dec 26 2014 19:45 utc | 2

@1 u$sam - i enjoyed reading the book 'the brain that changes itself'. i thought it was quite good as it suggested we are always re-creating our brian by the mental activities we engage in.. it is a thought provoking book for anyone intereseted..

@2 tom - that lady is quite a contradiction.. spewing hate while saying 'i pray to god, whoever knows how many times.. i stopped watching after a brief moment.

Posted by: james | Dec 26 2014 23:09 utc | 3

Dr. Norman Doidge wrote the book 'the brain that changes itself'. He gave an interview on CBC Radio (The Next Chapter) in 2009 in which he declared the science has proven: behavior determines the culture (starting after six months of the new behavior) and culture rewires the brain. Not the other way around as assumed throughout the 20th C.

Helps explain Israel's shitty behavior and why it cannot come back from where it's got without a major shakeup and wakeup administered from outside the confines of the country. Another reason why people must be told early on that their behavior is unacceptable. Nip it in the bud.

Posted by: MRW | Dec 27 2014 1:30 utc | 4

From the Saker: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/

Posted by: ben | Dec 27 2014 2:51 utc | 5

Russian Spring

12/26/2014-15:34

Summary by combatant Prokhorov:

In the evening from Dzerzhinsk Ukrainians began firing at Gorlovka by tanks as well; they were worked upon in response: a couple of tanks were liquidated.

Skirmishes took place in area of Mayorsk (also Gorlovka region) too.

It was loud in the airport and Peski too. In Peski, two were blown by a land mine – both Ukrainian officers: a head of reconnaissance and a commander of platoon.

28th brigade also lost two – near settlement Stepnoye as result of liquidating a battery.

Several things resembling howitzer shells landed at Ukrainian positions near Gorodovka. One of the things directly hit an APC. Eight bodies were recovered and packed in bags.

Ukrainians announced backing off the artillery beyond 15 km zone, but who would trust them?


Ukrainians, in turn, inform how many times they were hurt.

They were fired at 16 times from small arms, grenade launchers, mortars, artillery and armored hardware.

In particular, attacked by small arms and grenade launchers (retaliatory fire) near Stanitsa-Luganskaya, Chernukhino, Nikishino, and on fringes of Sokol`niky.

Subjected by mortar fire in Mar`inka, Slavnoye, Shumi, Mayorsk, Chernukhino and three times in Peski.

In Sokol`niky the ATO (anti-terrorist operation) forces were shot from an APC.

The combatants' artillery fired two times – upon Stepnoye and Shumi.

Posted by: Fete | Dec 27 2014 3:55 utc | 6

Latest from Cannonfire:http://cannonfire.blogspot.ca/

Posted by: ben | Dec 27 2014 3:56 utc | 7

The United States better find some rational foreign policy and it better find it like yesterday. The Russian Federation and China should not be provoked to belligerance by neo cons neo liberals and their msm shill economically or militarily. The. Consequences for the average American citizen would be devastating. Russia and China are just as capable militarily if not ahead of the US because they have not been waging in perpetual war over the last 14 years. The American public needs to mmake sure they are prepared for the consequences of starting a war with Russia and China. Btw, just the idea of these US warmongers jabbering about a fight with Russia and China could have dire consequences for the already fragile and QE bloated US and European economies. Read link below.

http://defensetech.org/2012/06/29/china-caught-the-u-s-in-education-and-manufacturing-high-tech-weapons-are-next/

Posted by: really | Dec 27 2014 4:51 utc | 8

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/26/the-empire-is-crumbling-that-is-why-it-needs-war/


2015 Will See Decisive Battles
The Empire is Crumbling, That is Why it Needs War

By Andre Vltchek

The world is in turmoil. Like in the early 1940’s, something tremendous is gaining shape, something irreversible.

Almost all of us who have been analyzing the Empire fighting against the propaganda and nihilism it spreads, and its venomous tentacles extending to every corner of the globe, know that ‘appeasing’ Western imperialism is clearly impossible, as it is impractical, and even immoral.

Just as George W. Bush (clearly borrowing from fundamentalist Christian rhetoric), liked to say: “You are either with us or against us”. Countries are now evidently put on the spot: ‘they either accept the Western neo-colonialist doctrine’, or they get destroyed, one after another, as were Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

No logic can help, no negotiations, no international mediation from the United Nations. The willingness to compromise is mocked. Appeals for simple human compassion do not move the rulers of the Empire even an inch.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 27 2014 5:52 utc | 9

So Free 17 Pizza west of Ximen Station Taipei is the best wood fire pizza we've had by unanimous 5*s from all three judges, washed down with cold Max Malt Dark, and you're good to go.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Dec 27 2014 5:58 utc | 10

The West is starting to tremble as China makes its economic might felt: China">http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-25/china-steps-in-as-worlds-new-bank">China Steps In as World's New Bank

China Offers Russia Help With Currency Swap Suggestion

The SCO is proving its worth as an alliance as China helps Russia defend itself against the Western attack on its economy and currency.
_______

Saudi Arabia braces for $39bn deficit, to cut wages due to low oil prices

Why, then, if not because the US has demanded it as an attack on Russia, would the Saudis allow oil prices to fall so low? Only to "protect market share" at this cost to them?

Clearly the US is pushing this - with just enough "plausible deniability" to keep the people in the dark.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 27 2014 6:04 utc | 11

To me it is sort of amusing to watch these westerners gloat about Russia, or squeal as they think Russia is about to fall victim to the economic attack of the US.

They still seem to think that the economy is some sort of natural phenomenon or weather event - "The Invisible Hand of the Market" - and they've learned to see it like this, because the US has no democratic control over its own economy. They don't get is that Russia and China aren't the US. They aren't societies whose economies are wholly in the hands of oligarchs, where the state and people are the victims of every economic speculator and bad actor.

China and Russia can and will intervene in their economies to protect them and their people. They will raise taxes, nationalize banks, go into debt - they will do what they need to do, unlike the US who is positively incapable of any actions because of the power of the oligarchy here.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 27 2014 6:10 utc | 12

guest77:

That Bloomberg editorial is an excellent catch, and a strong sign of post-IMF hope, one that even servants of the West's neocolonial empire must begin to recognize (if they're to give anything close to sensible investment advice). But don't read too far into it or you'll have to read laughable reverso-bizzaro world crap like this:

When Ukraine received a $17 billion IMF-led bailout this year it was about shoring up a geopolitically important economy, not geopolitical blackmail.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's government doesn't care about upgrading economies, the health of tax regimes or central bank reserves. It cares about loyalty.

LOL

Posted by: fairleft | Dec 27 2014 8:04 utc | 13

Russia to Meet NATO Challenge, Nukes As Last Resort

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has signed a new military doctrine that describes NATO’s military buildup near the Russian borders as the top military threat amid Russia-West tensions over Ukraine.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 27 2014 14:55 utc | 14

Evil Russians not ready to surrender....

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30589004

Posted by: dh | Dec 27 2014 15:11 utc | 15

@Uncle $cam #1
Cute presentation, but the SOTA research has a very different story.
1) Consciousness is not due a single emergent property from the human brain's neural net. As it turns out, the brain actually performs an internal poll with a single aspect tending to win out. This was shown to be true via patients who suffered brain damage and emerged with completely different personalities; in their case, the dominant aspect was damaged or destroyed thus allowing another aspect to "step up"

2) Actions do change the brain, but generally only in extreme circumstances. PTSD is one of the fear induced aspects: long periods of exposure to the chemicals generated by the state of fear change neural pathways in the brain. Good news is that they can be changed back, but it requires a similar level of stress to activate, or possibly the application of drugs like amphetamines which have been shown to be able to cause neurons to form new connections

3) A significant part of behavior is actually controlled by glandular excretions - which are NOT controlled by the brain except in the sense that the brain is also a central switchbox. The Mini-me phenomenon in men is a good example :)

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 27 2014 15:13 utc | 16

Ellen Brown shreds Obama's pretense of acting in the public interest. Instead, he lobbied for the Citibank rider to the spending bill, a provision that could end up costing taxpayers $Trillions (and maybe their Medicare and Social Security.)

Elizabeth "Warren and Representative Maxine Waters came close to killing the spending bill because of this provision. But the tide turned, according to Waters, when not only Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, but President Obama himself lobbied lawmakers to vote for the bill."
http://truth-out.org/news/item/28207-russian-roulette-taxpayers-could-be-on-the-hook-for-trillions-in-oil-derivatives

Of course, many Democrats will never believe that Obama is not the well intentioned public service that he masquerades as...

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 27 2014 15:35 utc | 17

guest 77 @ 10: "Clearly the US is pushing this - with just enough "plausible deniability" to keep the people in the dark."

Yep! For those paying attention, crystal clear.

For me, first link is a no-go. Second, good. Thanks.

Hell of a note, when you're forced to root against your own country, but reality & truth should always trump patriotism, at least, in my world.

Posted by: ben | Dec 27 2014 16:02 utc | 18

John H @ 16: "Of course, many Democrats will never believe that Obama is not the well intentioned public service that he masquerades as..."

Yes, servant of the Corporate Empire. Too bad I don't have a dollar for every one of these folks I've heard lately.

Posted by: ben | Dec 27 2014 16:06 utc | 19

Funny how the corporate media isn't gloating about Saudi Arabia's $39 billion budget deficit. I mean, weren't most of the 911 hijackers Saudis?

Or maybe the Saudis pumped a glut of oil onto the market to punish themselves?!?

The media's analysis of the oil price drop is glaringly shallow. They show no interest at all in understanding what the fundamental causes are.

Hidden from view are the prospects for Israel's expensive, deep water gas projects off the coast of Cyprus. I suspect that low prices will threaten the viability of these projects, too. (Bill Clinton and his Noble Oil patron cannot be happy.) So, as is their practice, we can look for the Zionists to return with a vengeance to Washington to demand more money...and Obama, as is his practice, will appease them.

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 27 2014 16:28 utc | 20

guest 77 no. 10

The government of Saudi Arabia has its own reasons for sticking it to Russia: Syria and Iran.

Posted by: sleepy | Dec 27 2014 17:12 utc | 21

"Bill Clinton and his Noble Oil patron …"

Noble Energy Clinton Global Initiative Topic Dinner
Israel Acts Ignobly Towards Noble Energy

Netanyahu favored Israeli patriots …
Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild

Posted by: Oui | Dec 27 2014 17:39 utc | 22

@ guest77, #8.

"The Empire is Crumbling"

SUPERB! I haven't read a more damning yet hopeful commentary of our present existential dilemma , maybe ever.

I recommend everyone here read it, even the trolls. Maybe you (the trolls) will learn a hugely important lesson.

Thank you guest77.

Posted by: juannie | Dec 27 2014 18:04 utc | 23

Who is Czech filmmaker, journalist, and author, Andre Vltchek?

Book Review by Richard Falk

Posted by: Oui | Dec 27 2014 18:35 utc | 24

Pity for Saudi shortfall of $39bn?

According to SWFI, 59 percent of all sovereign wealth fund assets derive from surpluses gained from petroleum sales. The assets of the top-three largest funds in the world—Norway’s Government Pension Fund – Global, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s (ADIA) fund, and SAMA—all deploy surpluses deriving from petroleum sales. Total global sovereign wealth fund assets reached 6.9 trillion dollars in October, according to the report, with those from Arab countries accounting for 35 percent of all assets. Only Asia, which represents around 40 percent of global assets, accounted for more.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 27 2014 18:46 utc | 25

11

Double PSYOP, two...two sticks in one!

China's internal credit shrank by 97%, their 'growth rate' is entirely socialist government deficit spending, and ASEAN is outsourcing to even cheaper labor in the south. Domestic consumption cannot possibly offset decline in Western purchases because it's a martial economy. Pure gold buggery.

$39B profit decline to the House of Saud Trillionaire Triad is just walking around fuck-it money, the little princes will have to lay off staff and hire more Bangi slaves. Pure gold buggery.

Where do you get this sh+t, NOVA alphabet soup?.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Dec 27 2014 19:46 utc | 26

Thanks for that Oui #24. I hadn't before been aware of Vltchek. I have reservations about Chomsky but if Vltchek's contribution is significant in their book "On Western Terrorism" I think it should be part of my reading and library.

Posted by: juannie | Dec 27 2014 20:01 utc | 27

I'd like to share my latest story:
The Saudi 'Oil Strategy': Motives And Consequencies
"Why does the Saudi Arabian regime insist on accelerated oil production despite budget deficit?"


Posted by: M. Tomazy | Dec 27 2014 21:13 utc | 28

M@28

Do you have any actual numbers showing that the Saudis "flooded" the market with oil?

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 27 2014 22:22 utc | 29

The government of Saudi Arabia has its own reasons for sticking it to Russia: Syria and Iran. kilin faydaları

Posted by: kadinamoda | Dec 27 2014 22:26 utc | 30

Now would be a good time for Russia aka Putin to inform the world of two truths:

The Apollo Space program was a fraud. The USA never landed any men on the moon. There is no one taking residence on the Int'l Space Station.

Posted by: Fast Freddy | Dec 27 2014 22:47 utc | 31

To @Wayoutwest

Yup, according to Bloomberg: "Saudi Arabia increased output by 0.5 percent in September to 9.65 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. OPEC as a whole pumped 30.9 million barrels a day in the same period, the most in a year."
This explains: "to cut its fourth-quarter price forecast for Brent crude by $12 to $88 a barrel, Mike Wittner, the New York-based head of oil-market research at the bank, said in an e-mailed note today."
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-16/saudi-arabia-oil-stance-seen-targeting-opec-output-discipline.html

Posted by: M. Tomazy | Dec 27 2014 23:01 utc | 32

@4MRW - yes. i agree with you on all that too..

Posted by: james | Dec 27 2014 23:15 utc | 33

M@32

Thank you for the actual output increase, M but 50k bbl/d does not seem to be a flood on top of 9.6mbbl/d.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 27 2014 23:36 utc | 34

in the bitter light of the ongoing demonisation of DPRK (AKA North Korea) and its leader Kim Jon-un, what is it like in the country?
hip hop artist and activist Marcel Cartier visited it to see it for himself

'By Marcel Cartier

I had the unique opportunity to spend several days in three different parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly just referred to as “North” Korea. This was an exceptionally life-changing experience that challenged many of the pre-conceptions that myself and fellow western visitors who accompanied me from Beijing had going in. Here are some things about North Korea that may surprise you, as many of them surprised me, as well.
etc

http://www.existenceisresistance.org/archives/4222

Posted by: brian | Dec 28 2014 0:05 utc | 35

According to EIA, world oil production and consumption are in balance. Nobody has flooded the market with crude.
http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/global_oil.cfm

Saudi Arabia's production seems to be about at the level it has been at for some time.

I'm not convinced anyone, except perhaps Wall Street oil speculators, knows what's going on.

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 28 2014 1:28 utc | 36

Russian Spring

12/28/2014-01:19

Military journalist Step`:

Day of December 27 in Donetsk went relatively quiet.

Single volleys on south-west reminded of serious intentions of combatants’ defense.

On north-west fringes and in area of Peski work of enemy artillery was registered as well as retaliation sent in opposite direction.

Commentary: Information Center of Novorossia reports mortar and tank cannon fire from Mayorsk (Gorlovka). Mochine gun, mortar, small arms combat took place in settlements Shumi and Magdolinovka (Gorlovka).

Posted by: Fete | Dec 28 2014 3:23 utc | 37

airasia is a malaysian low budget carrier..someone is ruthlessly targeting malaysian planes
RT @RT_com 6m6 minutes ago
UPDATE: #AirAsia flight #QZ8501 from Indonesia to Singapore confirmed missing http://on.rt.com/i84tw7 pic.twitter.com/xHoEn7v842

Posted by: brian | Dec 28 2014 4:29 utc | 38

John@36

An Iraqi oil executive claims that the highly discounted Islamic State oil sales were the trigger that sent the speculators short. I tend to concur with his judgment and stated that possibility weeks ago. I'm not even certain that if the Saudis has supported lowered OPEC output that it would have changed the correction because I also think oil was artificially high priced.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 28 2014 5:07 utc | 39

@brian #38:

someone is ruthlessly targeting malaysian planes

Jesus Christ. This is like living in a nightmare.

Speaking of Christ, apparently hating Christianity is all the rage now. Andre Vltchek hates it (article linked to at #9 by guest77, which is otherwise good, if you don't come to the conclusion that hating on Christianity so much discredits the whole article), which puts him in the company of our resident peas in a pod Christianity haters Cold and rufus.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 28 2014 5:37 utc | 40

fairleft@13, here's the best comment on the Bloomberg piece:
AussieLouis • 10 minutes ago

"Chinese President Xi Jinping's government doesn't care about upgrading economies, the health of tax regimes or central bank reserves. It cares about loyalty. The quid pro quo: For our generous assistance we expect your full support on everything from Taiwan to territorial disputes to deadening the West’s pesky focus on human rights."

What a narrow and distorted view, spewing from a vicious and dishonest neocon!

Africa, much of Latin America and the third world have their economies uplifted by the Chinese in the last two decades, after centuries of plunder by the Christian West.

In the case of the US and the West, it is only a constant threat of regime change, sanctions, blockade, subversion or military conquests, if you do not go my way.

How long are you going to continue to insult the intelligence of readers and lie pathetically to line your pocket? You are beyond disgusting mate!

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 28 2014 5:57 utc | 41

@okie farmer #41:

centuries of plunder by the Christian West

Sorry, but since we are in the Christmas season, I am going to continue my Christian apologetics. As R.H. Tawney argued in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, England was only able to implement capitalism by subverting Christianity.

All this hate on Christianity is the result of the postmodernist propaganda of the Empire. Christianity represents Western values and identity, whereas capitalism allows for no values or identity: only the market and exploitation by the super wealthy of evorybody else.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 28 2014 6:53 utc | 42

Demian, is the West Christian, or not? It plunders, would you not agree?

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 28 2014 7:21 utc | 43

curious fact:
pic.twitter.com/RKbO3JgEa6
Tweeter! ‏@oneworldtweet 2m2 minutes ago
.@AirAsia has never had a fatal accident in its history http://tinyurl.com/prjwneg #QZ8501

Posted by: brian | Dec 28 2014 7:28 utc | 44

@okie farmer #43:

It can be argued that "the West" (which means the Empire or, more broadly, the Anglosphere and the EU vassal states) are no longer Christian. Christianity has been replaced by postmodernism and Judaism. Certainly the whole War on Terror has nothing to do with Christianity, and clearly is an adoption by the US of the Israeli paradigm of merciless destruction of its perceived enemies and striving for total domination.

So, to answer your question, the West plunders because it is no longer Christian. This is not a matter that should be up for debate; it is obvious. The neoliberal postmodernist propaganda is what makes you think that Christianity is the problem. Russia doesn't plunder; one reason for that is that it is Christian.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 28 2014 7:43 utc | 45

@45

There are those who say there has never been a 'real' socialism, and who explain 'the West's' identification of socialism with totalitarianism as the confusion of Hitler's National Workers' Socialism, Stalin's Socialism, Ne Winn's Socialism, et. al. with 'real 'socialism'.

So, I guess you're taking the same tack with Xtianity? There has never been a 'real' Xtianity?

I'm sympathetic to Jesus Christ and the Beatitudes, sympathetic to the Buddha and his Dhamma, I'm sure I'd be sympathetic to other religious figures if I knew them better than I do.

It's civil religion - Xtian, Buddhist, Islamic, Judaic - that, together with money, are the root of all evil.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 28 2014 8:37 utc | 46

Posted by: juannie | Dec 27, 2014 1:04:26 PM | 23

You are correct juannie that piece should be read by all. Thanks to guest77 for posting.

Posted by: really | Dec 28 2014 8:49 utc | 47

Indonesia is not the same as Malaysia, two different nations.
Regardless, bad year for asian planes this year.

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 28 2014 9:05 utc | 48

@45 absolute tosh! The culture which set up the East India company - the vehicle which was used to both grow english capitalism and invade & colonise India, was emphatically xtian.
The same goes for the post civil war rape of western North America. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous americans were massacred, starved & infected. In that way driven from their lands. Custer and his bosses incessantly spouted their superstitious claptrap at every turn to justify the horrors resulting from their actions.
Those horrors were committed at the behest of the growing class of amerikan capitalists who owned the railroads, mines and lands the xtian government of amerika stole from others, as their primary purpose. Once they grabbed as much as they could, the export of amerikan capitalism began in earnest, firstly through war with Spain, later on by way of direct invasion and colonisation without the targets being allowed amerikan citizenship. The only reason Hawaii was absorbed was as part of an ass backwards claim that the US had been attacked to try and excuse the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians murdered by nuclear attack.
From Washington to Obama, amerikan leaders have dragged out their bibles as a way to claim their pandering to capitalism as "gods work".
Amerikan religious leaders have been only too happy to go along with that - so it cannot be claimed that these murderers have been using religion for their own ends. Current amerikan religious leaders have been at the vanguard of cheer-leading amerika's wars for capitalism.

I mention those older forms of xtian capitalism because while it is true that the use of this superstition was more obvious 150 years ago than it is now, the basic model adopted by england and later amerika, hasn't altered one whit.
The intended target is painted as being wrong unchristian and deserving of being invaded and robbed, and then it is.
Capitalism is totally dependent on growth unless capitalist enterprises increase in size they cannot make the nut to their 'investors' because stockholders demand income and capital growth. Growth has always been by way of misappropriation of other people's assets and resources. Xtianity has been the primary driver of that expropriation since capitalism appeared.
Not only have xtian fables provided the means for capitalism to succeed, they also provided the ideology underpinning capitalism.
The monotheism of xtian superstition justifies the sociopathy of capitalism. The idea that there is one god standing alone all powerful - all owning, that is the ethos from which the notion of capitalism with its emphasis on individual property rights, sprang.

Somewhere in there lies the basic conflict between the islamic view of the world and the xtian one.
Islam is montheistic but islam's emphasis on an individual's role within his/her clan or tribe, has generally supported a more communal view of property rights than western xtian capitalism allows. It has been that worldview which made it so difficult for USuk corporations to persuade ME leaders to adopt 100% western style capitalism - hence the need to invade.

As for england well it was Tony Blair the first unrepentant xtian englander PM in a long time, who resurrected the english imperialism that capitalism that depends upon.
BushCo agreed to let england back into the colonialism biz, as a trade off for supporting amerika's invasion of Iraq.

M Thatcher breathed life back into england's zombie capitalism by selling off the citizens' jointly owned assets, but without Blair's efforts to persuade amerika to let england get back into imperialism, english capitalism would have failed - nowhere to grow. Blair incessantly spouted the bible chapter, and verse.

Post modernism is nothing more than a veneer laid over the structure of the same old same old, by the mouthpieces of the elite. A piece of pop art designed to catch the eye and distract - not to inform.
The west didn't just start plundering recently - it has been out there murdering and stealing for at least 500 years.

That may not fit in with yer racist theories but it is an easily proven fact.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28 2014 9:05 utc | 49

Christianity, as a faith, is a personal approach to morals. Various Christian churches are social/political organizations that only superficially align themselves with a particular approach to any religion.

Calvinism is about stuffing camels through the eye of a needle.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 28 2014 9:23 utc | 50

@jfl #46:

So, I guess you're taking the same tack with Xtianity? There has never been a 'real' Xtianity?

Not really. I would say that Christianity in nations where the official religion was Lutheranism or Russian Orthodoxy was real. I am not interested in defending other branches of Christianity than those two.

Scandinavian countries are Lutheran, and Scandinavian countries implemented social democracy. I would say that the moral imperatives of Lutheranism lay behind the concern with social justice which gave rise to the Scandinavian welfare state. Similarly, the German welfare state was created by the Christian Democrats, not the Social Democrats.

To turn to the Anglosphere, the American movement to abolish slavery was led by evangelicals. So one can say that the abolition of slavery in the Anglosphere (slavery never existed in Germany or Russia; as far as Western countries go, slavery is an Anglo specialty, which should come as no surprise, given that the Anglos developed free market economics) was the implementation of real Christianity.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 28 2014 10:21 utc | 51

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28, 2014 4:05:19 AM | 49

In its quest for profit, capitalism has trashed and subordinated every religion it has come in contact with. Christianity is 'the worst' only because capitalism has been in contact with it the longest, and it was for a long time the religion of the states who got a head start on economic development and were the only states the capacity to do imperialism. As non-Western capitalist states have built powerful militaries, the fact they are non-Christian doesn't hold them back so far. Two examples are Japan in the '30s and '40s and India long after WW2. I'm defining imperialism as unwanted capitalist expansion into other territories that is not defensive and not part of nation-building at or near the beginning of a state's existence.

Posted by: fairleft | Dec 28 2014 10:27 utc | 52

airasia QZ8150 and MH370: similarities
'“Obviously the first priority for the pilots is to fly the aircraft but relaying a message to Air Traffic Control (ATC) about what’s happening only involves depressing a single button on the control column and simply speaking.

“It would also only take a few seconds to squawk 7700 (emergency) on the SSR box which would alert ATC to there being a problem although not what the problem was.”

He said severe weather was a common feature of Indonesia at this time of year, but it was almost unheard of for a modern aircraft to be brought down by turbulence at altitude.

“It’s a different situation when the aircraft is close to the ground but at altitude, even if the aircraft stalled, there would be ample height for the aircrew to recover the situation and regain control,” Mr Smith said.
http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/missing-airasia-flight-qz8501-and-mh370-share-similarities-according-to-aviation-experts/story-fniztvnf-1227168725873?utm_content=SocialFlow&utm_campaign=EditorialSF&utm_source=PerthNow&utm_medium=Twitter&nk=3b80c84dee6c07007cc150797f71913d

Posted by: brian | Dec 28 2014 11:00 utc | 53

1.Kaiser's admonition to Hirobumi Ito who sought equality with the Western imperialist powers:Japan can never be (considered) civilized unless it is Christianized.
2. I was raised on the Good Book, Jesus
Till I read between the lines
Now I don't believe, I'm gonna see the morning
- Barbra Streisand, Stony End

Posted by: Amomymous | Dec 28 2014 11:04 utc | 54

For the record, what I mean by Christianity is either churches which are members of the Lutheran World Federation, or the Russian Orthodox Church. Churches which are in communion with either of those two churches are also Christian. Everything else is aberrant sects.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 28 2014 11:13 utc | 55

Identity warfare in Ukraine - explained.

People are ready to kill and die for their identity, for what they see as protection of it against the ‘Russian agression’ or ‘Nazi threat’. The tragedy of the Civil War is basically that in REALITY people are killing not ‘Nazis‘ or ‘terrorists‘, ‘fascists‘ or ‘vatniks‘ but their OWN sons, brothers, sisters, fathers, etc.

When you are through with culture, try religion ...

Posted by: somebody | Dec 28 2014 12:55 utc | 56

@brian

dude- learn to use blockquote and href tags or keep it to yourself - thanks

Posted by: b real | Dec 28 2014 16:14 utc | 57

@55 Christians who survived 'Jesus in Urine' will be thrilled to have Bethlehem relocated.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1709847/israeli-archaeologist-says-jesus-christ-was-born-in-bethlehem-of-galilee/

Posted by: dh | Dec 28 2014 16:31 utc | 58

in re 55 --

As Monty Python said, "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition."

So much for peace on earth and good will towards all.

I have always found it instructive that as soon as Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Senate and People of Rome, it immediately began to persecute those it deemed schismatics. Banning paganism came later.

And this is why I prefer Enlightenment rationalism over anything that even smacks of Deism. But with a mixed Catholic-Evangelical bk'gd., I can preach a little hellfire, myself.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:... For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.... A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Luke 6:37-38, 45 (KJV)

Can I get an "Amen" from the deacons, brothers and sisters! Hallelujah, brethen, hallelujah, can you feel the Holy Spirit moving among you? Can you feel it!

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 28 2014 16:45 utc | 59

Planes in Indonesia/Malaysia are constantly crashing. I think the average is over 1 per year.
MH17 is obviously an exception since it wasn't in the actual SE Asia region.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 28 2014 17:08 utc | 60

in re 51 --

Bismarck began the construction of the welfare state, explicitly to undercut the appeal of Social Democracy amongst the proles. Would there have been Christian socialism without the prompt of Social Democracy? Muntzer and the Anabaptists did get such a warm reception.

"I am not interested in defending other branches of Christianity than those two." Very convenient dodge, quite elegant.

So let me get this straight. You want to impose your narrow vision of "Christ" upon us. But you decline to fully consider the possible implications and consequences should others expand upon that notion, as would be likely? "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matt. 7:5.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 28 2014 17:27 utc | 61

Now to pay the bar tab -- a few recent news items of note.

The Nation (via Russia Insider) has another piece on the prospects for social revolution in the Donbas, with a Profile of Novorossiya's Most Radical Rebel Commander (Alexey Mozgovoi). The subtitle says it all: "Espouses radical left-wing politics. Wants to carry out a social revolution, dispossesses the oligarchs."

Things keep moving along in Banderastan. Ukraina.ru reports that aUkraine MP urges military dictatorship. Andriy Levus, of the Popular Front fraction, was active in security at the Maidan and subsequent a senior official in the security services. He also called for war with Russia.

The "European choice" in Ukrainian politics seems to be working out well, as the Ukrainians Conduct Master Classes in Making Molotov Cocktails near the Ukrainian Parliament. The item at Fort Russ begins:

For several days running, there have been protests at the Verkhovna Rada of all sorts, from teachers, about their benefits getting chopped, to defrauded investors. On December 25 they were entertaining themselves by throwing grenades at the feet of deputies, which police considered as routine hooliganism. They even held a “peaceful” master class in the preparation of Molotov cocktails...."

Sounds like a good morning for mimosas, if you are so inclined. Cheers!


Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 28 2014 17:58 utc | 62

The Missouri Synod is not an "aberrant sect" of Lutherans, though not claiming membership.

Posted by: eurasian | Dec 28 2014 21:02 utc | 63

What was Jesus? We will never know a historic version of his person or teachings.

Xianity is the bizarre Greco/Levantine cult, perpetrated at outset by Paul. This fundamental break, in the generation after a probable life of Jesus, allowed for creation of a state religion for the world's then dominant empire - and for its principal successor empires.

Jesus was metaphorically slaughtered by the Pauline apostles, and the return of a Hebraicized version of the old Winter Sacrifice God was brought in his place.

Fortunately, there have been those individuals and communities in the past 20 centuries, which have glimpsed the opportunity for inspiring compassion and humanity in the jumble of bizarre and theologically obscurantist texts.

All is never lost...

Posted by: Jeremiah Cornelius | Dec 28 2014 23:03 utc | 64

@rufus magister #61:

I prefer Enlightenment rationalism over anything that even smacks of Deism. But with a mixed Catholic-Evangelical bk'gd.

Your reading comprehension is as good as that of your intellectual equal and ally, Cold. Did I not bring up the German Enlightenment? Unlike the French and Scottish Enlightenments, the German Enlightenment did not reject Christianity. It kept it, and the aftermath of that was the creation of critical Biblical scholarship

Given that you come from Catholicism and evangelicalism, it is not surprising that you hate Christianity. But given that you have gone through an academic training, I am disappointed that you cannot understand my perspective. Since the Christian traditions I was exposed to are not primitive as yours are, I never stopped liking Christianity, even though I stopped believing in God as I entered puberty, as is fairly typical in Western society.

@eurasian #63:

Haha, it's funny that you bring up the Missouri Synod. I went to a service in a Missouri Synod church once, when I was exploring American Protestantism. It was utterly dour, and I could not detect a trace of Christian spirit in the worship. Simply put, the Holy Spirit was not there. I did not take Communion. (I sound like a real evangelical, don't I? I just can't keep myself from chanelling Luther.) I might as well have been in a mosque, synagogue, or Mormon temple. The Missouri Synod is most definitely an aberrant sect.

The Missouri Synod also teaches biblical inerrancy,[9] the teaching that Bible is inspired by God and is without error.
The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is totally unLutheran. This is so obvious that everyone in the Missouri Synod must be an idiot. Luther made several books of the Bible apocryphal (something Catholics have never forgiven him for), and expressed misgivings about Revelations. Obviously this means that Luther believed that any Christian can judge for himself which parts of the Bible are valid and which are not. Luther's way of reading the Bible is very clear an simple, and it is the only way of reading the Bible that makes sense from a Christian point of view. You interpret everything in the Bible in terms of the gospel. Thus, the gospel carries much more weight than the other parts of the Bible. This is completely different from biblical inerrancy, according to which all parts of the Bible are equally valid. Biblical inerrancy is in fact heretical, and turns Christianity into something more like Islam than like mainstream Christianity. We used to have a contributor here called Nora, who stopped posting here to express solidarity with two users that got banned. She agreed with me about this.

My accepting both Lutheranism and Russian Orthodoxy is atypical, and is explained by my parents coming from the Baltic, a Germano-Russian region which for some reason is currently occupied by national statelets. Judging by what I have read on the Runet, non-Baltic Russians consider Protestantism to be just as heretical as Roman Catholicism. I find this position to be bizarre, but have not bothered to try to figure out what the quarrel of Russian Orthodox is with Lutherans, since I am not interested in Orthodoxy, having grown up in the West.

By the way, this is partly self-parody, but I think it's worth doing, since endless schisms are a feature of Christianity. My family went through a schism when reactionaries in our church executed a coup in response to the larger church wanting to create an American Orthodox church. The reactionaries were against that, because permission from the Moscow Patriarchate (whic was required. The way non-demented parishioners were able to get the church back was by filing a civil suit.

@ rufus magister: Why I am putting you through the Spanish Inquisition is that your hatred of Christianity has nothing to do with the Enlightenment, and everything to do with capitalism's totalizing impetus. So if you hate or reject Christianity, you are in the same camp with Francis Fukuyama when he claimed that the end of history is the universal establishment of neoliberalism. So your position is really reactionary, as is postmodernism in general.

Final note. When I looked up "Holy Spirit" in Wikipedia, I noticed that the article places the section about Judaism before the section on Christianity. This confirms the point that I made yesterday, that the Anglosphere is now Judaic, not Christian.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 29 2014 1:26 utc | 65

in re 65

" Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

Matt. 7:6

I again explain -- the Deist view of faith held by the Enlightenment does not seem to be what you are preaching.

I'm puzzled -- for all of its superiority, it was the Germanic peoples that produced the Holocaust.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 29 2014 1:43 utc | 66

ps in re to 65 --

"And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."

Mk. 4:21-23

I understand well enough, you dislike both the historical materialism I presently espouse, and you pronounce anathema, on some bit of theological sophistry, the two faith traditions, in my immediate background. They only account for the majority of the faith between them, BTW. In favor of two state religions not known for pioneering dissent.

If it comforts you to misstate my views as post-modern, well... it is a veil of tears and who am I to deny a sufferer the balm of another pleasant superstition? I'm sure the Deity would like it that way.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 29 2014 2:09 utc | 67

@rufus magister:

I don't have an evangelical background like you do, so the biblical citations you give mean very little to me. Pretty much the only parts of the Bible that resonate with me are what is in the St Matthew Passion. (Those Protestant Germans again!!!)

I'm puzzled -- for all of its superiority, it was the Germanic peoples that produced the Holocaust.
So your argument is that residents of the Anglosphere should remain ignorant of the German Enlightenment because Hitler. Jews. Holocaust. This definitively proves that your intellectual level is truly no higher than Cold's.

For what it's worth, I have benefited from this exchange. I have been deeply disturbed of late by the level of hatred of Russia and Russians that exists on Wikipedia. But your example shows me that exactly the same level of blind, ignorant hatred can be directed by American intellectuals at Germans. So what your example shows me is that what this hatred involves is not racism, but ignorance, pomposity, and Anglophone chauvinism. I find that somewhat reassuring.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 29 2014 2:41 utc | 68

Russian Spring

12/29/2014-01:18

Military journalist Step`:

Ukrainian army provokes armed confrontation imposing battles and firing at housing areas and combatants’ positions.

Donetsk.

On north, intensive fighting involved small arms and grenade launchers. Firing from “Grad” system followed.

On north-west, from its positions in Peski the enemy shelled the airport from howitzers forcing the combatants to open retaliation fire.

On south, from settlement Mirniy (Volnovakha region) outposts of Donetsk Republic army and residencies of civilians were shelled by self-propelled artillery.

Gorlovka.

From site of occupied Dzerzhinsk assessment of combatants’ defense and disturbing fire at fringes of the city continued.

Based on radio intercepts, on the eve of New Year and following Christmas holidays, the punitive troops prepare for high-scale provocations.


Russian Spring

12/28/2014-20:51

Minister of Defense of self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic Vladimir Kononov will meet with representatives of Ukraine military in Donetsk on December 29.

After the meeting the Minister will make an important announcement for the Media.

Posted by: Fete | Dec 29 2014 3:33 utc | 69

in re 68 --

No, my argument is that your smug superiority is misplaced. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matt. 7:15-16. Anything constructive to say about Prussia's fruits?

Ad hominem attacks, straw men, patronizing abuse -- gee, who does that remind me of....

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 29 2014 3:33 utc | 70

Demian @ 65:

Wishing you a joyous Christmas season (I celebrate Old Calendar, so Christmas is still coming, but others have Twelfth Night the same evening.) Thank you for all your studied responses here, and thanks to b for the Merry Christmas thread - it was heartening to encounter when so many have succumbed to mainstream hatred of non-commercial Christmas. I've always loved the Old Calendar one for that reason.

I have been so fortunate to find (or it found me) a home church environment with traditional, classical Russian theology, the icons and beautiful music to sing - far from the madding crowd of church hierarchy - that community has passed on now, but I have my own home chapel and that is where I pray, my closet so to speak. I have a warmth towards Protestant and Catholic communities, both of which I have lived among - though Orthodoxy has become my final home. I like what you say about the importance of the Gospels for Lutherans - I had not known that. It's very Orthodox, isn't it?

Posted by: juliania | Dec 29 2014 5:50 utc | 71

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Believers

In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers, or Old Ritualists, (Russian: старове́ры or старообря́дцы, starovery or staroobryadtsy) separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652 and 1666. Old Believers continue liturgical practices that the Russian Orthodox Church maintained before the implementation of these reforms.

By the middle of the 17th century, Greek and Russian Church officials, including Patriarch Nikon, had noticed discrepancies between contemporary Russian and Greek usages. They reached the conclusion that the Russian Orthodox Church had, as a result of errors of incompetent copyists, developed rites and liturgical books of its own that had significantly deviated from the Greek originals. Thus, the Russian Orthodox Church had become dissonant from the other Orthodox churches. Later research was to vindicate the Muscovite service-books as belonging to a different Greek recension from that which was used by the Greeks at the time of Nikon, and the unrevised Muscovite books were actually older than the current Greek books, which had undergone several revisions over the centuries and ironically, were newer and contained innovations

...the authorities imposed the reforms in an autocratic fashion, with no consultation of the people who would become subject to them, and those who reacted against the Nikonian reforms would have objected as much to the manner of imposition as to the actual alterations. In addition, changes often occurred arbitrarily in the texts. For example, wherever the books read 'Христосъ' [Christ], Nikon's assistants substituted 'Сынъ' [meaning the Son], and wherever they read 'Сынъ' they substituted 'Христосъ'. Another example is that wherever the books read 'Церковь' [meaning Church], Nikon substituted 'Храмъ' [meaning Temple] and vice-versa. The perceived arbitrariness of the changes infuriated the faithful, who resented needless change. "The incorrectly realized book revision by Nikon, owing to its speed, its range, its foreignness of sources and its offending character was bound to provoke protest, given the seriously assimilated, not only national, but also genuine orthodox identity of the Russian people. The protest was indeed global: the episcopate, the clergy, both regular and monastic, the laity and the ordinary people."

Schism

Opponents of the ecclesiastical reforms of Nikon emerged among all strata of the people and in relatively large numbers (see Raskol). However, after the deposition of patriarch Nikon (1658), who presented too strong a challenge to the Tsar's authority, a series of church councils officially endorsed Nikon's liturgical reforms. The Old Believers fiercely rejected all innovations, and the most radical amongst them maintained that the official Church had fallen into the hands of the Antichrist. Under the guidance of Archpriest Avvakum Petrov (1620 or 1621 to 1682), who had become the leader of the Old Believers' movement, the Old Believers publicly denounced and rejected all ecclesiastical reforms. The State church anathematized both the old rites and books and those who wished to stay loyal to them at the synod of 1666. From that moment, the Old Believers officially lacked all civil rights. The State had the most active Old Believers arrested, and executed several of them (including Archpriest Avvakum) some years later in 1682.

After the schism

After 1685 a period of persecutions began, including both torture and executions. Many Old Believers fled Russia altogether.


Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 29 2014 6:59 utc | 72

@juliania #71:

I like what you say about the importance of the Gospels for Lutherans - I had not known that. It's very Orthodox, isn't it?
I guess it probably is Orthodox, since it comes so naturally to me. I was baptized Orthodox and my family went to an Orthodox church until we moved out of a town which had a large Russian community. There were two Russian Orthodox churches within walking distance in the village I lived in until I was twelve. The two churches belonged to analogues of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Missouri Synod. The other church even had "Synod" in its name. Needless to say, we went to the "liberal" church.

The reason I can't say for sure that privileging the gospel is "very Orthodox" is that I have had essentially no exposure to Orthodoxy since I was twelve. My reception of Orthodoxy was perhaps compromised because I didn't respect our priest. Even as an eight year old, I took all the Old Testament nonsense to be nothing more than primitive folklore. But for some strange reason I totally absorbed the doctrine of the Trinity and the idea of Christ as savior, even though I never became interested in the idea of an afterlife. So when I stopped believing in the existence of God, I never lost my acceptance of other core Christian theology. The other influence from Orthodoxy that has stayed with me is the idea that worship must follow a liturgy. This basically leaves only Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism as options. I went to a few services at a contemporary American evangelical church, which uses video projectors and has a coffee shop, and I did find it to have a Christian spirit (even though the preacher gave a reactionary brazenly political sermon, which I walked out on). So I do find non-liturgical worship to potentially be an authentic expression of Christianity. It is just not for me.

It is very interesting to go to see worship in churches of various denominations to get a feeling of whether they are really animated by the Christian spirit. I went to a service at a Catholic church a few years ago, and I have to say that I didn't get a sense that the worship was any more connected to God than the worship in a synagogue is. (I am totally with the Saker when it comes to the relation between Christianity and Judaism.) The proceedings were pretty lifeless. One got the impression that the people didn't want to be there.

One of the things that made me love the Lutheran church is that it has an open communion. I can take communion in a Lutheran church because I was baptized in a Russian Orthodox church. I couldn't take communion in a Catholic church even if I wanted to. You have to be baptized Catholic to take communion in a Catholic church (closed communion). The Russian Orthodox church is the same: I can only take communion in an Orthodox church because I was baptized in an Orthodox church. If I had been baptized in a Lutheran church, I couldn't take communion in a Russian Orthodox church. This is one of the things that really bothers me about Orthodoxy: what happened to the idea that we are all brothers?

Speaking of communion, some evangelical churches only have communion once a month, or even less frequently for all I know. That strikes me as pagan.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 29 2014 7:27 utc | 73

Speaking of communion, up with hope, down with pope, America has 'lifted the Afghan people out of despair', and left them with a secular joint CIA-IMF partner caliph, someone that the Afghan people can point to and state, as a Taliban leader said to me, 'I love your Jesus, but hate your Christ(ian war criminals).' The Long War is over! Global economic collapse can't be far behind. On to Damascus!

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Dec 29 2014 8:31 utc | 74

#qz8501: Indonesian govt gets report of wreckage sighted by Australian P3 Orion aircraft, but yet to be verified, Indonesian VP Jusuf Kalla

Posted by: Oui | Dec 29 2014 9:35 utc | 75

qz8501 - puzzling …
indeed, no distress signal
no pick-up of pulse signals from black box transmitter

#qz8501 timeline:
5:36a takes off
6:12a pilot asks to ascend to 38,000 ft
6:16a still visible on radar
6:18a disappears from radar

personal problem pilot, his father was interviewed and mentioned the burial of another son
last week due to diabetes. See MH370, the transponder was turned-off.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 29 2014 9:39 utc | 76

Fatal crash due to weather is possible – Fokker Friendship Moerdijk, The Netherlands:

On 6 oct 1981, NLM Cityhopper's Fokker F-28-4000 Fellowship, PH-CHI crashed near Moerdijk (NL) close to Rotterdam. Aircraft entered a tornado embedded in a supercell, which resulted in loads increasing to +6.8 G and -3,2 G. The right wing separated and the aircraft crashed out of control out of 3000 feet. 4 crew, 13 pax and one person on the ground died.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 29 2014 9:40 utc | 77

AirAsia Airbus A320 Flight QZ8501 has gone missing over Indonesian airspace in Java Sea

The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were 155 passengers on board, with 137 adults, 17 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew and one engineer on board.

The captain in command had a total of 20,537 flying hours of which, 6,100 flying hours were with AirAsia Indonesia on the Airbus A320. The first office officer had a total of 2,275 flying hours with AirAsia Indonesia.

Info about pilot Captain Iriyanto, a former Air Force fighter pilot who had chosen early retirement. It was his sister Edi who died last week.

Pilot AirAsia Pilih Pensiun Dini dari Kemiliteran   [Indonesian]

Posted by: Oui | Dec 29 2014 12:28 utc | 78

Ad hominem attacks, straw men, patronizing abuse -- gee, who does that remind me of....

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 28, 2014 10:33:51 PM | 70

Yourself?

Posted by: Rogan Josh | Dec 29 2014 13:07 utc | 79

excellent article:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30278606

How can the West solve its Ukraine problem?
By Anatol Lieven

Professor, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar

Russia badly overplayed its hand last year when it tried to bring Ukraine into the Eurasian Union against the passionate opposition of many Ukrainians.

The European Union is now risking the same thing by trying to bring Ukraine into the West without reference to economic reality or the willingness of European publics to bear the enormous costs involved, and at a time when the EU itself is in deepening crisis.

Russia is suffering badly as a result of Western economic sanctions - but Ukraine's situation is far worse, with a predicted fall in GDP of 7% this year.

If this decline continues, the Ukrainian state will face collapse,

Throughout the 23 years since the end of the Soviet Union, too many members of the Western media and policy worlds have ignored or misrepresented key aspects of the Ukrainian-Russian economic relationship.

The West simply does not have the means or the will to integrate Ukraine into the West while isolating it from Russia.”

This allowed them in turn to ignore crucial features of the economic balance of power in Ukraine between Russia and the West.

In their zeal to denounce Russia for putting pressure on Ukraine over gas supplies, Western commentators usually neglected to mention that, through cheap gas and lenient payment terms, Russia was in fact subsidising the Ukrainian economy to the tune of several billion dollars each year - many times the total of Western aid during this period.

This allowed the same commentators not to address the obvious question of whether Western states would be willing to pay these billions in order to take Ukraine out of Russia's sphere of influence and into that of the West.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 29 2014 16:44 utc | 80

@80 Nice to see an article like that on the BBC. Sober second thoughts or is UKIP getting to them?

Posted by: dh | Dec 29 2014 16:57 utc | 81

@okie farmer #80::

That article is very disingenuous, because Lieven neglects to mention that Western policy towards Ukraine has nothing to do with improving conditions in Ukraine, and everything to do with destroying Russia. So until European leaders make a clear decision to follow an independent policy, they will follow the will of the US, which will lead to ever worsening conditions in Ukraine.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 29 2014 18:15 utc | 82

@82 'Lieven neglects to mention that Western policy towards Ukraine has nothing to do with improving conditions in Ukraine'....maybe that part got edited out?

Posted by: dh | Dec 29 2014 18:58 utc | 83

You know the Empire is grinding to its sorry end when each successive war becomes, in turn, its longest.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 29 2014 19:18 utc | 84

@dh 83:

Lieven's background is Baltic Russian, so he understands the region, but he's part of the British establishment. That means he is only going to say half of the truth, and this article is a good example. I don't mean to put Lieven down: we need more people like him, because saying half of the truth is better than doing nothing but displaying complete ignorance, as NY Times columnists do, for example. Robert Parry has written about this recently.

To have a successful career in journalism and/or academe in the Anglosphere, as Lieven does, you need to know how to engage in self-censorship. That is how the system works. Editors rarely have to censor articles themselves.

Another consideration is that the BBC is m much more of a propaganda outlet than RT, for example. So if he submitted an op-ed to the BBC, he would omit themes that expose the nature of the Empire, because if he didn't the article would be rejected. He would likely have allowed himself more leeway with the London Review of Books, for example.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 29 2014 19:30 utc | 85

@85 All true. Lieven would have a good idea what would be acceptable before any editors went through it. And he won't be exposing the nature of the Empire. Do not underestimate the powers of the editors though. A writer/journalist may have their own take on things but the editors set the agenda. They don't last long otherwise.

Posted by: dh | Dec 29 2014 19:58 utc | 86

My 2 cents for the day - Flights unexplained go down while drones are more and more in service, some drones are mia; rather mit, missing in transit, some with payloads, in other words armed! Most drone routes and details are covert, 1+1= the military fucking up! Recently reports of drones and near misses have increased, but reports are vague to say the least.

Posted by: kjs | Dec 29 2014 22:03 utc | 87

in re 79

Hit sharply foul down the line in right for strike one.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 29 2014 23:46 utc | 88

in re 68 --

How odd, a Christian apologist who doesn't know the Gospels. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matt. 4:4.

It's not so much Christianity, it's inquisitors and their dogmas I find distasteful. I recall quite a few of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth; many, like the Beatitudes, are quite wise. And, hey, any deity whose first miracle is turning water into wine can't be all bad. I really dug that thing with the moneychangers and the temple, too.

But something more suitably Teutonic occurs to me now, from my second-favorite German author.

"Finally to pose questions with a hammer, and sometimes to hear as a reply that famous hollow sound that can only come from bloated entrails.... [T]his time they are not just idols of the age, but eternal idols, which are here touched with a hammer as with a tuning fork: there are no idols that are older, more assured, more puffed-up — and none more hollow."

F. Nietzsche, from the Preface to Twilight of the Idols, or How to Philosophize with a Hammer

Unfortunately, I can't quite place that note, it sounds both flat and sharp...

BTW, The section on "What the Germans Lack" later in "Twilight" is quite instructive, IMHO.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 30 2014 1:01 utc | 90

Oui@89, that article is total horseshit. Not surprising for Business Insider, although they occasionally get something right.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 30 2014 1:14 utc | 91

Here is one of the best articles I've read on the anti-fascist resistance going on in Ukraine:

http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/12/28/resistance-grows-ukraine-puts-anti-fascists-trial/

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 30 2014 1:17 utc | 92

Of course I have read Missouri Synod clergy and theologians noting exactly what you refer to about Luther's doubtful view of Revelation, and so what "Biblical inerrancy" actually means to each of them when preach comes to shove is certainly not what it means to a dispensationalist.

Posted by: Eurasian | Dec 30 2014 1:31 utc | 93

To Demian @ 73: I will explain my comment. During any liturgy in the Orthodox practice it is expected that any able parishioner stand during the reading of the Gospel, and indeed the decisions being made during the early councils of Christianity used the Gospels as the template on matters of doctrine. Many people suppose that Christianity is based upon the writings of Saint Paul, but actually his writings only count if they are in harmony with the Gospels, and when parts of his letters are read, it is the deacon or reader who reads them, whereas for the Gospels it is the priest. The ornamented large tome carried by the priest is the Gospels alone.

On Easter, any Christian was welcome to take communion in my little church. Our priest told me once that he had only refused communion to one person, and even then he felt bad about it - this was a young man who had proclaimed and was a practising ba'hai. It would be hard, though, for me to disparage the Old Testament, since all the prophets are interwoven in the liturgical readings and hymns, and especially the Psalms also. On Holy Saturday there are about twelve of the magnificent tales from the Old Testament read one after another, and I defy anyone to listen and not get chills up and down the spine. It always happens to me. It is the prologue to Easter, a very important setting of the stage.

Another wonderful thing about our little church was that our priest seldom gave a sermon - the liturgy itself was usually enough for all of us. Very occasionally he would be so moved that he would say a few words before we went into the house for coffee and conversation. We were there to stand before God, and we did. I miss it.

Posted by: juliania | Dec 30 2014 1:31 utc | 94

and ps to 88

And that's 'cuz my profile would be -- faux-folksy 80's pop-cult know-it-all; lame jokes and "sarcasm." Pedestrian musical taste, too.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 30 2014 1:33 utc | 95

Juliania at 94 --

Downright poetic, tx.

The differences in presentation btw. Gospels and Paul's Epistles is a very interesting bit of ritual, and it seems suitable. Though no longer a believer, the rituals always fascinated me. For me, the Prophets and their jeremiads against oppression are the best bits of the Old Testament, after the Psalms.

Back in the day, I liked the music the best. "Onward Christian Soldiers" was an old fave, and I always grooved on the more mellow stuff they played under prayers and "the call to Jesus."

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 30 2014 2:15 utc | 96

Russian Spring

12/29/2014-13:28

Campaign overview by combatant Prokhorov:

In recent days Ukrainians recalled soldiers from vacations – day “X” (massive offensive) is Monday or Tuesday.

The situation is reiteration of December 27. Here people say that Ukrainians have delayed because accepted a large number of prisoners. Hundred and half of total 600 were accepted; all others were denied.

Over the radio Ukrainians are more nervous than usual, but not as much as if anything serious were planned.

In reality, Ukrainians, generals and officers in the first place, are afraid to initiate active campaign, which is understandable in the view of September defeat and losses at the time of “ceasefire” in areas of the airport and Debal`tsevo (I mean all directions, not just the city. Maloorlovka, Chernukhino, Nikishino, Redkodub, Mius, Mogila-Ostraya and others), Bakhmutka and Stanitsa-Luganskaya.

Therefore, a command from Black Master(?) can be disobeyed.

Say, a task force of Ukrainian Security Service’s counter-intelligence arrives (to force to attack) – all will be shot up and written off on “separatists”.

Hundreds of reasons (to disobey) exist. 14th brigade (former 51st) has not been provided with winter clothing, 93rd is left entirely without military hardware, 128th (except units in Debal`tsevo pocket) and 34th battalion of “Bat`kivschina” (a political party) demoralized – massive drinking and thievery.

Many reasons can be found, indeed.

The better equipped units of nationalists never head on for attack themselves.

Poorly done reconnaissance of combatants’ positions and forces (the counter-reconnaissance of combatants did not idle at the time of “ceasefire” – believe me).

The pilots are scared of reminding of Donetsk/Lugansk Republics, yet Ukrainians utterly reject an idea of a wide-scale offensive without air support.

Posted by: Fete | Dec 30 2014 5:33 utc | 97

@okie farmer: It's just a reminder what the business community is cheering for and Obama should oblige for his foreign policy 'legacy.' Pure bs.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 30 2014 6:59 utc | 98

The Liberal Idiocy on Russia/Ukraine, by Robert Parry @Consortiumnews. Apologies if this was already posted. Excellent exposure of the US imperial consensus, which of course includes Paul Krugman moonlighting from his economics gig. All hands on deck when it comes to demonizing the Western 1%'s enemies.

Posted by: fairleft | Dec 30 2014 7:02 utc | 99

The real news: What are US objectives in weakening Russia's economy

JAY: The only objective here that makes any sense to me, while I think it's a destructive objective, there's a logic to it. Putin had been calling on Russian oligarchs, bring your money back. He had been strengthening the public sector public ownership, the state private partnerships. And if you can destroy that, you open up a whole field for foreign takeover.
WILKERSON: You mean like Anatoly Chubais and Larry Summers did when they increased Harvard's endowment to something like $20 billion almost overnight by ripping off and stealing from Russians?
JAY: Mm. Exactly. You start a whole 'nother--you know, the scramble for Africa. Well, you can have a new scramble for Russian resources if you can destroy this whole stratum.
WILKERSON: Think about the people who would design something and try to execute something like that. If they're Americans, I'd like to see them tried and put in jail.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 30 2014 8:40 utc | 100

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