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The disappearance of American will

by Speranza ( 157 Comments › )
Filed under China, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Syria at April 21st, 2014 - 7:00 am

Is there a more pathetic looking cabinet member than Chuck Hagel? Seriously, we would have been better off picking any random name out of the phone book and installing them in the Pentagon than having the drunken, incompetent, boob Hagel running the department.

by Caroline Glick

The most terrifying aspect of the collapse of US power worldwide is the US’s indifferent response to it.

In Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East and beyond, America’s most dangerous foes are engaging in aggression and brinkmanship unseen in decades.

As Gordon Chang noted at a symposium in Los Angeles last month hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, since President Barack Obama entered office in 2009, the Chinese have responded to his overtures of goodwill and appeasement with intensified aggression against the US’s Asian allies and against US warships.

In 2012, China seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines. Washington shrugged its shoulders despite its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines. And so Beijing is striking again, threatening the Second Thomas Shoal, another Philippine possession.

In a similar fashion, Beijing is challenging Japan’s control over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and even making territorial claims on Okinawa.

As Chang explained, China’s recent application of its Air-Defense Identification Zone to include Japanese and South Korean airspace is a hostile act not only against those countries but also against the principle of freedom of maritime navigation, which, Chang noted, “Americans have been defending for more than two centuries.”

The US has responded to Chinese aggression with ever-escalating attempts to placate Beijing.

And China has responded to these US overtures by demonstrating contempt for US power.

Last week, the Chinese humiliated Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to China’s National Defense University. He was harangued by a student questioner for the US’s support for the Philippines and Japan, and for opposition to Chinese unilateral seizure of island chains and assertions of rights over other states’ airspace and international waterways.

As he stood next to Hagel in a joint press conference, China’s Defense Chief Chang Wanquan demanded that the US restrain Japan and the Philippines.

In addition to its flaccid responses to Chinese aggression against its allies and its own naval craft, in 2012 the US averred from publicly criticizing China for its sale to North Korea of mobile missile launchers capable of serving Pyongyang’s KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles. With these easily concealed launchers, North Korea significantly upgraded its ability to attack the US with nuclear weapons.

As for Europe, the Obama administration’s responses to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and to its acts of aggression against Ukraine bespeak a lack of seriousness and dangerous indifference to the fate of the US alliance structure in Eastern Europe.

[.......]

Clearly not impressed by the US moves, the Russians overflew and shadowed the US naval ship. As Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox News on Monday, the Russian action was not a provocation. It was “a show of contempt.”

As Krauthammer explained, it could have only been viewed as a provocation if Russia had believed the US was likely to respond to its shadowing of the warship. Since Moscow correctly assessed that the US would not respond to its aggression, by buzzing and following the warship, the Russians demonstrated to Ukraine and other US allies that they cannot trust the US to protect them from Russia.

In the Middle East, it is not only the US’s obsessive approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel that lies in shambles. The entire US alliance system and the Obama administration’s other signature initiatives have also collapsed.

After entering office, Obama implemented an aggressive policy in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere of killing al-Qaida operatives with unmanned drones. The strategy was based on the notion that such a campaign, that involves no US boots on the ground, can bring about a rout of the terrorist force at minimal human cost to the US and at minimal political cost to President Barack Obama.

The strategy has brought about the demise of a significant number of al-Qaida terrorists over the years. And due to the support Obama enjoys from the US media, the Obama administration paid very little in terms of political capital for implementing it.

But despite the program’s relative success, according to The Washington Post, the administration suspended drone attacks in December 2013 after it endured modest criticism when one in Yemen inadvertently hit a wedding party.

[......]

This week, jihadist websites featured an al-Qaida video showing hundreds of al-Qaida terrorists in Yemen meeting openly with the group’s second in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.

In the video, Wuhayshi threatened the US directly saying, “We must eliminate the cross,” and explaining that “the bearer of the cross is America.”

Then there is Iran.

The administration has staked its reputation on its radical policy of engaging Iran on its nuclear weapons program. The administration claims that by permitting Iran to undertake some nuclear activities it can convince the mullahs to shelve their plan to develop nuclear weapons.
[.....]

In a televised interview Sunday, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akhbar Salehi insisted that Iran has the right to enrich uranium to 90 percent. In other words, he said that Iran is building nuclear bombs.

And thanks to the US and its interim nuclear deal with Iran, the Iranian economy is on the mend.
[.......]

Rather than accept that its efforts have failed, the Obama administration is redefining what success means.

As Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz noted, in recent months US officials claimed the goal of the nuclear talks was to ensure that Iran would remain years away from acquiring nuclear weapons. In recent remarks, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US would suffice with a situation in which Iran is but six months away from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In other words, the US has now defined failure as success.

Then there is Syria.

Last September, the US claimed it made history when, together with Russia it convinced dictator Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal. Six months later, not only is Syria well behind schedule for abiding by the agreement, it is reportedly continuing to use chemical weapons against opposition forces and civilians. The most recent attack reportedly occurred on April 12 when residents of Kafr Zita were attacked with chlorine gas.

The growing worldwide contempt for US power and authority would be bad enough in and of itself. The newfound confidence of aggressors imperils international security and threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

What makes the situation worse is the US response to what is happening. The Obama administration is responding to the ever-multiplying crises by pretending that there is nothing to worry about and insisting that failures are successes.

And the problem is not limited to Obama and his advisers or even to the political Left. Their delusional view that the US will suffer no consequences for its consistent record of failure and defeat is shared by a growing chorus of conservatives.

Some, like the anti-Semitic conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan, laud Putin as a cultural hero. [......]
.

Leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz who call for a US foreign policy based on standing by allies and opposing foes in order to ensure US leadership and US national security are being drowned out in a chorus of “Who cares?” Six years into Obama’s presidency, the US public as a whole is largely opposed to taking any action on behalf of Ukraine or the Baltic states, regardless of what inaction, or worse, feckless action means for the US’s ability to protect its interests and national security.

And the generation coming of age today is similarly uninterested in US global leadership.

During the Cold War and in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the predominant view among American university students studying international affairs was that US world leadership is essential to ensure global stability and US national interests and values.

Today this is no longer the case.

Much of the Obama administration’s shuttle diplomacy in recent years has involved sending senior officials, including Obama, on overseas trips with the goal of reassuring jittery allies that they can continue to trust US security guarantees.

These protestations convince fewer and fewer people today.

It is because of this that US allies like Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, that lack nuclear weapons, are considering their options on the nuclear front.

It is because of this that Israeli officials are openly stating for the first time that the US cannot be depended on to either secure Israel’s eastern frontier in the event that an accord is reached with the Palestinians, or to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

It is because of this that the world is more likely than it has been since 1939 to experience a world war of catastrophic proportions.

There is a direct correlation between the US elite’s preoccupation with social issues running the narrow and solipsistic gamut from gay marriage to transgender bathrooms to a phony war against women, and America’s inability to recognize the growing threats to the global order or understand why Americans should care about the world at all.

And there is a similarly direct correlation between the growing aggression of US foes and Obama’s decision to slash defense spending while allowing the US nuclear arsenal to become all but obsolete.

America’s spurned allies will take the actions they need to take to protect themselves. Some will persevere, others will likely be overrun.

But with Americans across the ideological spectrum pretending that failure is success and defeat is victory, while turning their backs on the growing storm, how will America protect itself?

Read the rest - The disappearance of US will

 

Donetsk Jewish community calls alleged registration letter a smear

by Rodan ( 2 Comments › )
Filed under Judaism, Orthodox Christianity, Russia, Special Report at April 17th, 2014 - 2:43 pm

Once again the anti-Russian haters in the GOP have egg on their faces. The idiots at Hot Air and several other blogs ran with a  story claiming Pro-Russian militias in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk  handed out letters telling Jews to register. As usual with the Russia/Ukrainian situation, this story turned out to be false. The Jewish community of Donetsk said the letters were a hoax and done to smear the Pro-Russian militias.

Today, the Western press caught up with the Ukrainian rumor mill: apparently, the People’s Republic of Donetsk had ordered all Jews over the age of 16 to pay a fee of $50 U.S. and register with the new “authorities,” or face loss of citizenship or expulsion. This was laid out in officious-looking fliers pasted on the local synagogue. One local snapped a photo of the fliers and sent it to a friend in Israel, who then took it to the Israeli press and, voila, an international scandal: American Twitter is abuzz with it, Drudge is hawking it, and, today in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the fliers as “grotesque.”

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as “a provocation,” which it clearly is. “It’s an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,” says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. “I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”

Rather than fact check, Allahpundit let his anti-Russian bigotry get the better of him. Meanwhile he and most of the Conservative media are silent about the real Nazis in the IMF/EU puppet regime in Kiev. It is a shame a Liberal website like New Republic publishes the truth, while a conservative outlet like Hot Air lie.

Here is the statement by the Donetsk Jewish community on these fake letters in Russian.

 

File this under: Things that make you go… Oh Shit…

by Guest Post ( 216 Comments › )
Filed under Islam, Russia, Taliban, Terrorism at April 16th, 2014 - 1:00 pm

Guest Blogger: File this under: Things that make you go… Oh Shit…


Warning: this is 100 percent pure worst possible case imaginably speculation.

Now that Malaysia Flight MH370 is fading from everyone’s (except those who have family on that aircraft) mind. It is time to look at possible crazy tin-foil hat conspiracy theories that involve other current events. First, let’s look at the rumors coming out of Britain/Russia regarding MH370.

MH370 ‘hijacked and in Afghanistan’: Russian intelligence source claims all passengers and crew are alive but held hostage

A Russian newspaper has claimed that Flight MH370 was hijacked by “unknown terrorists” and flown to Afghanistan, where the crew and passengers are now being held hostage.

The extraordinary comments, attributed to a Russian intelligence source, appeared in the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

The source told the paper: “Flight MH370 Malaysia Airlines missing on March 8 with 239 passengers was hijacked.

“Pilots are not guilty; the plane was hijacked by unknown terrorists.

“We know that the name of the terrorist who gave instructions to pilots is “Hitch.”

“The plane is in Afghanistan not far from Kandahar near the border with Pakistan.”

This claim is the latest in a growing number of conspiracy theories over what could have happened to the missing jet. Here is our round up of the top 13 conspiracy theories so far.

According to The Daily Star, Moskovsky Komsomolets also claims the passengers have been divided into seven groups and are living in mud huts with almost no food.

Twenty Asian passengers were said to have been smuggled into a bunker in Pakistan

So, according to this rumor, a well financed, large and extremely well organized and disciplined terrorist organization now has possession of a Boeing 777-200ER commercial passenger aircraft with a range of 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles (9,695 to 17,372 km). Moreover, the terrorist organization in question has the sophisticated knowledge and tactical ability to fly said aircraft through multiple layers of controlled airspace.

Let us depart for a moment from this terrorist organization to cast our gaze on another well financed, large and extremely well organized and disciplined terrorist organization.

Video: Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Did the US recently miss a golden opportunity to take out a large number of al-Qaeda leaders, including the top lieutenant of Ayman al-Zawahiri and chief of the network’s most virulent subsidiary in Yemen? AQAP recently held a large meeting somewhere in south Yemen despite US drone warfare targeting the network in that region, and published the video on jihadi websites to emphasize their success. In the tape, AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi pledged to the terrorist leaders gathered there that he wants to attack the US soon:

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

U.S. officials won’t comment on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed by the United States.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.

The video started appearing on jihadist websites recently, drawing the attention of U.S. officials and global terrorism experts. U.S. officials say they believe it’s authentic.

“This is quite an extraordinary video,” Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst, said.

Did the US know about this ahead of time? If they did, they must have either had difficulty arranging the logistics of an attack — or perhaps had other assets in place for other reasons. It can’t be that we didn’t understand the value of the target, though. The Wall Street Journal recalls that Wuhayshi was one of the reasons the US closed a slew of embassies last summer:

Concerns last summer about a plot, discovered in part through intercepts of communications between Mr. Wuhayshi and al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, prompted the U.S. to temporarily close its embassy in Yemen and 18 other countries.

U.S. officials have been particularly concerned about the threat posed by the Yemen-based affiliate’s creative bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who built the device used in the botched 2009 effort to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner among other plots.

Raise your hand if you see anything disturbing about this event? No? here, let me straighten my tin-foil hat and sharpen my conspiracy theory pencil, while I point something out.

U.S. officials have been particularly concerned about the threat posed by the Yemen-based affiliate’s creative bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who built the device used in the botched 2009 effort to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner among other plots.

If at once you fail to succeed, try try again… So, according to this rumor, a well financed, large and extremely well organized and disciplined terrorist organization now has possession of a Boeing 777-200ER commercial passenger aircraft with a range of 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles (9,695 to 17,372 km). Moreover, the terrorist organization in question has the sophisticated knowledge and tactical ability to fly said aircraft through multiple layers of controlled airspace. Try try again…

Video Shows Large Meeting of Al-Qaeda Leaders Openly Meeting In Yemen, Vow To “Eliminate The Cross … The Bearer of The Cross Is America”…

The video shows al-Wuhayshi addressing more than 100 fighters somewhere within Yemen, Cruickshank said, a restive nation on the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The al Qaeda leader, he said, is “taking a big risk in doing this.”

But he doesn’t mince words about his mission.

In a speech to the group, al-Wuhayshi makes it clear that he’s going after the United States, saying “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!”

So, tin-foil hat conspiracy theory time has arrived. A terrorist organization capable of bringing together 100 or more of the worlds most dangerous and prominent terrorists organizes and pulls off a clandestine meeting that none of the worlds intelligence agencies know about until after the fact. This shortly after a Malaysian 777-200ER disappears, presumable crashing into the ocean somewhere, though no wreckage of it has to date been found. Russian newspapers (clearly to distract from Putin’s actions in the Ukraine) make the assertion that the passenger are all alive and being held hostage near the Pakistan Afghanistan border. Suggesting that the Malaysian 777-200ER is still intact and fully functional.

Nope, nothing to see here, move along…

(Cross Posted @ The Wilderness of Mirrors)

Items beloning to Napoleon stolen from Australian Museum

by Rodan ( 122 Comments › )
Filed under Australia, Europe, History at April 15th, 2014 - 2:45 pm

People still hold a grudge against Napoleon Bonaparte, but this story really had me rolling. An Australian museum had a lock of Napoleon’s hair  and other items from his days as French Emperor. Thieves broke in and stole these items.

Sydney (AFP) – A lock of Napoleon Bonaparte’s hair and other “priceless” artefacts linked to the French emperor have been stolen from a museum in Australia, police said Tuesday.

 Burglars broke into the building on Victoria state’s Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, in what was believed to be a targeted robbery.

“The offender(s) have jemmied open cabinets inside and stolen numerous priceless antiques,” a police statement said.

“The stolen items included a ring and (a glass frame) containing Napoleon’s hair, a ribbon inscribed by Napoleon in 1815 and a snuff box.”

The thieves removed outside blinds and entered through a bathroom of the historic Briars Park homestead in Mount Martha last Thursday night.

People still hold grudges it seems!

In all seriousness, this was clearly done to sell the items on the black market.

 

The Russian Moon

by coldwarrior ( 167 Comments › )
Filed under America, Open thread, Russia, Science, Space Exploration at April 11th, 2014 - 7:14 pm

It was inevitable, I suppose. While America drowns in debt and avoids teaching the hard classes in school the Russians are going to colonize the moon.

 

Russian Federal Space Agency is elaborating Moon exploration program

© Collage: Voice of Russia

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has created a team of specialists, which will elaborate the Moon program. The scientists plan to launch three spacecraft – two landing and one orbital – to the Moon to the end of this decade.

Roscosmos is about to begin creation of a carrier rocket that will be launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. The agency is also elaborating a carrier rocket of extra-heavy class for flights to the Moon, Denis Lyskov, Deputy Director of Roscosmos, told journalists.

“Within the program of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, we create a modern carrier rocket that will suit a manned spacecraft,” Lyskov said. The spacecraft will weigh 14 tons for lower orbit and 20 tons for lunar missions.

“It requires a carrier rocket of extra-heavy class with carrying capacity of 80 tons to perform flights to the Moon. The program of such carrier rocket is being elaborated. The government has ordered to elaborate the program so that it could make a particular decision on it,” Lyskov said.

Lev Zelenuy, vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that Roscosmos plans to build a lunar base on the Moon to the end of 2030.

The Russian Academy of Sciences, which elaborated a program for Solar system exploration till 2025, marked the exploration of the Moon as the primary task. During the first stage, which is to begin in 2015, Roscosmos will launch two satellites – “The Moon-Resource” and “The Moon-Globe”. One of them will explore the south pole of the Moon, where Roscosmos plans to land Russian lunar lander with Indian mini-rover. During the second stage, which is to begin in 2020, Roscosmos plans to land two new Moon research vehicles – “Lunokhod-3” and “Lunokhod-4”. Scientists think that the new Moon research vehicles will be able to operate in Polar Regions of the Moon for five years and move away from the landing site for a distance of 30 kilometers.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_09/Russian-Federal-Space-Agency-is-elaborating-Moon-exploration-program-5997/

Is Vlad keen on a trip? Putin eyes up cosmonaut uniform as his deputy premier sets out plans to colonise space and declares ‘We are coming to the Moon FOREVER’

  • Kremlin announced the 26-year plan in state-run newspaper this morning

  • Deputy PM says moon is only realistic source of minerals and resources

  • First mission to launch in 2016 and ‘base will be up and running by 2040′

Russian Gas and American Production

by coldwarrior ( 156 Comments › )
Filed under America, Chechnya, Economy, Energy, Open thread, Politics, Russia at April 8th, 2014 - 9:00 am

This is an interesting take on the possibility of American Gas exports ‘hurting Russia’.

 

Why Russia Isn’t Afraid of U.S. Gas Exports

Wikicommons

During his recent speech in Brussels, U.S. President Barack Obama said the U.S. could soon become a major supplier of gas to Europe and allow countries that are currently “hostage” to gas imports from Russia to have an alternative supply source at a cheaper price. We heard the same sentiment from the chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, during his March 26 address at a committee hearing on ”The Geopolitical Potential of the U.S. Energy Boom.” While Obama placed his comments in the context of energy supply security, Royce was much more explicit about the real objective of an energy dump into Europe. “America’s newly developing energy supplies could make a difference,” he said. “They could sap Putin’s strength, while bolstering Ukraine’s and that of other European countries.”

We have heard similar comments from many politicians in Europe as well as the U.S., and from executives in companies operating in the shale gas industry. We also heard similar comments from many others promoting the idea that the U.S. Energy Department might release oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve to increase global supply and depress the world price of crude. The basic line has been to send cheap U.S. gas or oil to Europe to kill off demand for Russian exports and to debilitate the Russian economy. Some have also emphasized the benefits, as they see it, to the European economy from cheaper energy and to the U.S. economy because of higher export volumes. But the key objective, the argument goes, is causing collateral damage to the Russian economy.

You can see where they are coming from. The widely held perception among those who only superficially look at the structure of Russia’s budget and economy is that it is a hydrocarbon-­dependent country and even a slight twitch in the price of export oil or gas would destabilize the country. That certainly was the case in the late 1980s, in the late 1990s and again in late 2008. But much has changed even since 2008. and the continuing legacy of various wars across North Africa and in the Middle East means there is little threat to the price of crude oil. Brent crude has been more or less stable just under $110 per barrel for more than three years, and looming problems in Venezuela and reports of increasing violence in Nigeria offer little medium-term comfort for oil bears.

But it is Russia’s gas position that has attracted most attention since the Crimea referendum. And it is against the backdrop of political emotionalism that basic fact-checking has been ignored. Here are some important facts. Gas production has certainly grown very rapidly in the U.S. since the middle of the last decade. According to BP’s most recent Statistical Review of World Energy, the U.S. has increased annual gas production from 550 billion cubic meters in 2007 to more than 750 bcm last year, overtaking Russian production of about 600 bcm. But according to the BP report, the U.S. currently consumes almost all of the gas it produces. It exports almost no gas.

To be sure, if the U.S. can sustain the rapid pace of production growth seen since 2007, it will eventually become a large exporter of gas via LNG tankers. But this will be possible only if it adds a significant amount of export infrastructure, namely LNG loading terminals. The first of these, at Sabine Pass in Louisiana, is not due online until late next year or early 2016, while some others are bogged down in environmental disputes and are not expected until 2019 or 2020. But even then, U.S. gas producers, which have been booking export contracts far in advance, are all planning to send their LNG volumes to Asia. The price of gas is much higher in Asia than Gazprom charges its European customers. It is difficult to see why a U.S. LNG tanker would sail to Europe just to make a political point rather than to the far more profitable markets in Asia.

In addition, the price of gas sold domestically in the U.S. is extremely inexpensive compared to world prices. This is regularly cited by economists — and lauded by politicians — as an important factor behind the revival in the U.S. economy. It is no surprise that U.S. gas executives are pushing for approvals for more export facilities. The Russia angle is purely convenient for a profit-orientated industry keen to sell to the highest bidder and to break free from the depressed local market. One wonders what the attitude of lawmakers will be when the price of domestic gas eventually starts to rise because of competition from the export market.

That is not to say that Russia can be in any way complacent about economic vulnerability to energy exports. By the time LNG volumes are sailing in large volumes into European ports, overall demand will be much higher, and Russia will be a major player in the global LNG business. Novatek’s Yamal-based LNG terminal is expected online by 2017, and more than 70 percent of the planned production is already sold to Asian customers. The plant will double in capacity between 2015 and 2020. By 2018, the LNG plant currently under construction in Sakhalin, which is jointly owned by ExxonMobil, Rosneft, ONGC of India and Japanese investors, will also be online. Russia’s first LNG plant came online in March 2009 as part of the Gazprom-Shell Sakhalin-2 project, and another bigger Gazprom foray into LNG production cannot be far off. By the start of the next decade, Russia is likely to be a much larger exporter of LNG than the U.S. Exports from both countries will sail to Asia rather than to Europe

What about Europe’s ability to produce more of its own gas? Europe is much more sensitive to environment risk than is the U.S. Germany has decided to cut nuclear power, and most countries are dragging their feet when it comes to alternative energy projects, such as wind farms, because of the aesthetic and other environment damage. It is therefore naive to assume that Europe will embrace the shale gas revolution in the same way as the U.S. has. The first television images of homeowners in Britain, France or Germany setting light to gas coming out of their water faucets, a very familiar sight in many parts of the U.S., will send the environmentalists to court for injunctions faster than politicians will deny they ever supported the project.

Russia’s current share of the European gas market share is about 30 percent. For Gazprom to maintain that market share as overall gas demand rises on the continent, it must complete the South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea despite objections from Brussels. Customer countries, such as Bulgaria, are in favor of South Stream because it bypasses the troublesome transit route through Ukraine. For the same reason, Germany wanted the twin-pipe Nord Steam connection which delivers 55 bcm of Russian gas directly into its industrial heartland.

U.S. and European Union officials are, of course, quite correct to emphasize long-term energy security. The long-term alternatives — that is, from Iran, Central Asia or Africa — hardly offer more assurance. And we already know that price differential between Europe and Asia means that U.S. LNG tankers will not be in any hurry to supply the market when they eventually do set sail.

Chris Weafer is senior partner with Macro Advisory, a consultancy advising macro hedge funds and foreign companies looking at investment opportunities in Russia.

Cocaine Parody OOT

by Macker ( 19 Comments › )
Filed under Barack Obama, Healthcare, Humor, Music, OOT, Russia, Satire, Ukraine at April 7th, 2014 - 11:00 pm

Eric Clapton’s Classic Hit lends itself very well to Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, as he turns it into the latest Parody. Courtesy of The People’s Cube:

Here is the mp3. The lyrics are below:

The world says get out. But, Putin says.. no doubt, Ukraine.
Obama frowns, but Putin’s getting down in Ukraine.
He don’t buy, or stand by, or say why; Ukraine.

Obama talked tough but, Putin called his bluff Ukraine.
When the day is done Putin won; Ukraine.
BO lied by the side watch Vlad ride – in Ukraine.

He sanctioned some guys hoping to turn the tide: Ukraine.
Don’t forget this fact, Putin won’t give it back; Ukraine.
Let’s talk gays, women’s raise, ACA – ignoring Ukraine
BO’s weak, Putin streaked moved his fleet – to Ukraine.

Remember to stop snorting in laughter for a few moments…and proceed directly into The Overnight Open Thread!

Neither East Nor West

by Macker ( 182 Comments › )
Filed under History, Orthodox Christianity, Religion, Russia at April 6th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

One of the very first things I learned in my Soviet History class in college twenty-two years ago is the fact that Russia is Neither East nor West.
Let me repeat that: Russia is Neither East nor West.
The Western World has mistakenly believed since 1991 that it was possible for Russia and most of the ex-Soviet Republics to join our side. Russia’s actions in Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine clearly prove that is not the case.
In fact, Russia, through Владимир Владимирович, is asserting that little above-mentioned fact, through a proposed document called the “Foundations of the State Cultural Policy”, and it is guaranteed to throw liberals and many extremist groups (we all know who they are) into a great gnashing of teeth:

“Russia must be viewed as a unique and original civilization that cannot be reduced to ‘East’ or ‘West,’” reads the document, signed by Deputy Culture Minister Vladimir Aristarkhov. “A concise way of formulating this stand would be, ‘Russia is not Europe,’ and that is confirmed by the entire history of the country and the people.”

Russia’s non-European path should be marked by “the rejection of such principles as multiculturalism and tolerance,” according to the draft. “No references to ‘creative freedom’ and ‘national originality’ can justify behavior considered unacceptable from the point of view of Russia’s traditional value system.” That, the document stresses, is not an infringement on basic freedoms but merely the withdrawal of government support from “projects imposing alien values on society.”

And of course, we all know just which alien values they’re talking about.
From the Varangians of the west…to the Golden Horde from the East and South, Russia has been shaped from both. That is why they have struggled to maintain their own identity for its entire history. We must acknowledge that the tolerance we tolerate in our society simply won’t work over there.

How the only pilot to thwart a gunman at 29,000 feet, did it

by Speranza ( 109 Comments › )
Filed under Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, UK at April 4th, 2014 - 7:00 am

As two commenters wrote The best lesson to be learned from this hero: “As long as you know you’re not going to allow it to happen, then you’ll find the way.”  and That reminds me of Hannibal’s line: We will find a way or we will make one.” Is any one surprised that the British authorities treated the crew of the El Al plane almost as if they were the  criminals?

by Mitch Ginsburg

With the world’s attention focused on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a retired El Al pilot, a veteran of five armed hijacking attempts and plots, including one movie-worthy standoff at 29,000 feet, splashed some local brandy into his afternoon tea.

“When you don’t know, you just don’t know,” Uri Bar-Lev said of the fate of the airliner, speaking two weeks after it dropped off the radar.

 [......]

The Times of Israel mentioned the missing plane and hinted at his heroics. We said there might be a lesson to be learned or simply a tale worth re-telling.  [......]

On September 6, 1970, Bar-Lev, who had flown as a 16-year-old in the 1948 War of Independence and later during the 1956 War, was picked up from his Amsterdam hotel and brought to Schiphol airport to fly the second leg of El Al Flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York. Before take-off, El Al’s security officer on duty at the airport told the pilot that there were four suspicious people seeking to board the flight. Two held Senegalese passports with consecutive numbers; two others, a couple, carried less suspicious looking Honduran passports, but all had ordered their tickets at the last minute.

Bar-Lev, in consultation with the security officer, barred the Senegalese passengers from boarding and demanded that the local security officers closely inspect the two Honduran nationals before allowing them to board.

Although at the time he did not know that no such inspection had been performed, he stopped at seat 2C and had a chat with Avihu Kol, one of the two armed security officers on the plane. “I told him, I want you in the cockpit with me,” Bar-Lev said.

Kol was alone in first class. He might as well have been wearing a sign that said air marshal. “Someone could just come up behind him and shoot him in the head,” Bar-Lev said, recalling that Kol had warned him about just such a scenario two weeks before.

[.......]Yet El Al was the only airline in the world to field armed guards and re-enforced steel cockpit doors — precautions that had been put in place after the 1968 hijacking of an El Al jet to Algeria, the only time Israel’s national carrier has been hijacked. Kol, though, initially resisted Bar-Lev’s demand that he sit in the cockpit, saying it contradicted his orders. Finally, Bar-Lev pulled rank.

At 29,000 feet, with the plane still climbing, the emergency light flashed in the cockpit. False alarm, one of the crew members said. It happened often. Flight attendants sometimes grazed against the warning panels, sounding the alarm. “No,” Bar-Lev responded, “we’re being hijacked.”

Seconds later a flight attendant’s voice came through the intercom: two people, armed with a gun and two grenades, wanted to enter the cockpit. If he didn’t open the door, they would blow up the plane.

Bar-Lev sent flight engineer Uri Zach to look through the peep hole. The “Honduran” man, Nicaraguan-American Sandinista supporter Patrick Argüello, a former Fulbright scholar operating on behalf of George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was holding a gun to a female flight attendant’s head. Uri, she said to the pilot through the locked door, they are going to kill me if you don’t open up.

According to the International Air Transport Association rules, Bar-Lev said, a pilot is responsible “for the welfare of his passengers” and therefore must acquiesce to the demands of terrorists. His thinking was just the opposite: acceding will only further endanger the passengers. Giving voice to an unformed thought, he said aloud, “We are not going to be taken hostage.”

Sitting in the right-hand seat, having let the co-pilot handle the take-off from Amsterdam, Bar-Lev recalled his mandatory training on the Boeing 707 at the company headquarters several years earlier.  [......] He wanted to know the outer limits of the plane’s capacity. The instructor, a Korean War vet, walked him through some of the maneuvers and explained that the passenger plane was very strong and could endure more than it would seem at first glance.

The plane began to plummet, dropping 10,000 feet in a minute

Bar-Lev told Kol, the air marshal, to hold on tight. He was going to throw the plane into a dive. The negative g-force, akin to the feeling one gets on the downhill section of a roller coaster ride, would accomplish two things: it would lower the plane’s altitude, reducing the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the plane, which would make a bullet hole or a grenade explosion less dangerous; and it would throw the hijackers off their feet. The passengers, he said, were all belted in and would be fine.

Bar-Lev lifted the nose of the aircraft, dipped one of the wings, and then tilted the nose down to earth. The plane began to plummet, dropping 10,000 feet in a minute. When he pulled out of the dive, Kol charged through the door and killed Argüello.

The second terrorist, Leila Khaled, a Palestinian veteran of previous skyjackings, rolled a grenade forward but it didn’t explode. In her memoir, Bar-Lev said, Khaled claimed to have been violently subdued, but the air marshals found her passed out from the dive and quickly arrested her.

“The whole thing took two and a half minutes,” Bar-Lev said.

A photo of the two airliners that were hijacked and flown to Jordan on that September 6, 1970 (photo credit: wiki)

But it was far from over. Three other planes, in what Bar-Lev called a more complex attack than 9-11, had been hijacked. The two men carrying Senegalese passports had commandeered a Pan Am flight and flown it to Egypt. TWA and Swiss Air flights were flown to Jordan. The Shin Bet, via an El Al dispatcher, sent Bar-Lev a terse command: About face. Come home.

On board he had two armed Shin Bet officers — Kol, and a second agent who was at the back of the plane — plus a dead man and an internationally wanted terrorist. Pivotally, though, he also learned that Shlomo Vider, the chief flight attendant, had charged the hijackers and been shot several times. Before responding to the Shin Bet’s orders – Bar-Lev didn’t know and wasn’t told about the other hijackings – he called for a doctor to come forward and examine Vider. The most qualified person was a dentist. He ruled that Vider was in stable condition. “I didn’t think so, though,” said Bar-Lev. Vider was pale and though he had been shot, he didn’t seem to be bleeding out, raising concerns about internal bleeding.

[......]

Headquarters again ordered him to return to Israel, but Bar-Lev contacted the British authorities and began to descend. En route, he heard the voice of an El Al pilot preparing to take off from Heathrow to Israel. “I told him to switch to the internal frequency,” Bar-Lev said.

Speaking quickly and in Hebrew, he told the other pilot the situation and the plan: he would land near him. In the commotion, no one would notice if the two armed Shin Bet marshals slipped through the flight engineer’s maintenance door between the wheels and quickly boarded the Israel-bound plane in the same way. The last thing he needed was for the two to be arrested by the local authorities and possibly charged for killing Argüello.

He insisted that he had simply flown the plane throughout and did not know how the Nicaraguan terrorist had died

Bar-Lev had good reason for concern. In February 1969 a Shin Bet air marshal named Mordechai Rachamim had fought off a squad of terrorists attacking an El Al plane in Zurich. After jumping out of the airplane door under fire, apprehending three of the terrorists and killing the fourth, the Swiss authorities, before finally exonerating him, first put him on trial for manslaughter.

After Bar-Lev slowed the plane to a stop, the crew welcomed an emergency British medical team on board. Vider, he later learned, reached the local hospital an estimated five minutes from death. But when Bar-Lev tried to close the door and head back to Tel Aviv, several armed agents from the British secret services drew their sidearms and said, “Do not shut that door. You are on the soil of Great Britain.”

Bar-Lev and the rest of the crew were taken for interrogation. Asked what he told the British authorities, he said, “I told them nothing.” He insisted that he had simply flown the plane throughout and did not know how the Nicaraguan terrorist had died.

An El Al security officer, in the meanwhile, printed tickets for the two Shin Bet air marshals who had slipped onto the Israel-bound flight and, after going through the passenger list repeatedly, the British authorities were forced to let the plane take off.

Bar-Lev and the crew were released the following day. The British authorities knew they were lying but could find no proof. Leila Khaled remained in the United Kingdom. She was let out of British custody three weeks later, after a British jet was hijacked on September 9, en route from Bahrain, expressly in order to secure her release.

For Bar-Lev, though, the ordeal was still not over. Upon return to Israel, a man he did not recognize took him into a side room and began asking questions: Why had he insisted on bringing the sky marshal into the cockpit? Why had he refused a direct order to return to Tel Aviv? Why had he dismissed the dentist’s assessment?

The next day, El Al Director General Mordechai Ben-Ari told him that the Shin Bet would not provide security for Israel’s national air carrier so long as he remained an active pilot. Ben-Ari tried to convince him to take a year off, to pacify the Shin Bet, and then return to service.

[......]

He phoned Golda Meir and asked to explain his side of the story. After giving his version of events to Meir, Moshe Dayan and the head of the Shin Bet at the time, he was given a two-week holiday and then reinstated, with honors for bravery.

Several months after that, then-transportation minister Shimon Peres helped pass a new law that gave pilots the right to resist hijackings and immunity against foreign lawsuits, such as the one Pan Am filed against Bar-Lev for not alerting the airline to the danger posed by the two Senegalese men and the one the British authorities briefly pursued – to charge Bar-Lev as an accomplice to murder.

Today, though, he said, despite the thousands of deaths caused by airline terror since that day in September 1970, there is still not a consensus among airlines that pilots are part of the inner circle of protection against terror. Lamenting the tragedy of 9/11, and the way 2,977 innocent people were killed by 19 hijackers wielding household objects such as penknives, he said the “formula for prevention” is for the crew to be trained, in mind more than in body, to resist.

“As long as you know you’re not going to allow it to happen, then you’ll find the way,” he said.

Read the rest – How to thwart a gunman at 29,000 feet, by the only pilot who ever did

Art Laffer’s take on the Ukraine crisis

by Rodan ( 2 Comments › )
Filed under Headlines, Russia, Ukraine at March 30th, 2014 - 10:48 pm

Art Laffer who is an old school Republican and not a fraud like these chest pounding diarrhea mouth neo-con pundits writes his take on the Ukraine crisis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin really had no choice except to act on annexing Crimea. The reasons go back many years and involve politics, the economy and the fact that many Crimeans identify more with Russia than Ukraine.

America should have been prepared for Russian actions in Crimea, yet, it was not. Those who fail to plan plan to fail.

The incentives for Russia to enter Crimea are obvious.

• First, the Black Sea port city Sevastopol provides Russia with year-round access to the high seas.

• Second, Crimea was transferred from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 by Communist Party First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev’s unilateral decree – no vote.

• Third, Russia has maintained the Sevastopol naval base since the fall of the USSR more than two decades ago.

• Fourth, the Ukrainian Parliament, after long periods of street riots in the capital Kiev, ousted the elected, pro-Russian president of Ukraine and replaced him with somebody decidedly anti-Russian.

• Fifth, approximately 60 percent of Crimeans are of Russian descent. As a whole, Ukraine’s population is 78 percent Ukrainian and 17 percent Russian.

• Sixth, Crimeans identify themselves as Russians rather than Ukrainians.

• Finally, a tremendous amount of Russian natural gas flows to Western Europe via pipelines through Ukraine.

Based on these facts, it should surprise no one that Putin’s domestic approval ratings last week after the annexation were at their highest level ever, 71.6 percent. President Obama, on the other hand, has approval ratings in the mid-40s.

Art Laffer helped engineer the 1980′s boom, that is more than any of these chest pounding clowns have accomplished in their collective lives.