31 March 2014

"I work for IBM and I have managed to hide my cellphone in my ass during the hijack."

Does this story characterize some special abilities of IBM employees or tell us something new about the current trend in the cell phone sizes?

I don't know. I have been an IBM employee for quite a few years, but I don't remember any special training regarding safe storage of communication equipment in my digestive tract.

Oh, and the current phone I use is Galaxy Tab 7.7, and I doubt that even with IBM discipline...

So I am confused.

Is Putin going to "regain" Finland?

Anyone who considers the British Independent to be a reliable source should have his head examined. But the story is repeated by several other sources. Of course, an ex-chief economic adviser of Putin can't be considered a cast iron witness, but still:

After annexing Crimea and with troops massed on the border of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will not stop trying to expand Russia until he has “conquered” Belarus, the Baltic states and Finland, one of his closest former advisers has said.

According to Andrej Illarionov, the President’s chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005, Mr Putin seeks to create “historical justice” with a return to the days of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Speaking to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Mr Illarionov warned that Russia will argue that the granting of independence to Finland in 1917 was an act of “treason against national interests”.
Sounds bleak for Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Sounds bleak all around, actually.

The Anti-Semitism of the United Nations - Alan Dershowitz

A must listening to speech.

Vanessa Paradis' sex tape uncensored

Is not of any interest here, and who is Vanessa P., by the way? Better watch this (click to embiggen first):

Egyptian vulture

Ain't this bird beautiful?

30 March 2014

Peter Beinart on Russian and American neocons: an imaginary symmetry

Peter Beinart has written for The Atlantic a curios article, the real purpose of which is still unclear to me. The article is titled Vladimir Putin, Russian Neocon, which may give you a hint about the contents and subtitled: "How Russia's president resembles the American hawks who hate him most". The lede quite amply distills the contents.

This conclusion is supported by three different points of comparison:

1. Putin is obsessed with the threat of appeasement

Appeasement is, I strongly suspect, the main thread of the article, and we shall return to it at the end. However, trying to prove the symmetry of Russian (or Putin's) rejection of appeasement and the Western "hawks" rejection of same, prof Beinart is driven by linguistic similarities, disregarding the history of appeasement in Europe and United States. The appeasement during pre-WW II years, that cost many million lives in the end, the appeasement that allowed Soviet Union, China and lesser tyrants bloody suppression of dissent during the long post-WW II years, the appeasement that allows Syria and Iran butcher the Syrian population, that permits the travesty of the dictators' club pompously called United Nation - is it the same kind of appeasement that is being rejected by Putin?

Now pull the other one, prof Beinart.

As for the envy that, according to the author, some hawks feel toward Putin: I wouldn't want to argue against its existence. But if Americans today feel some envy looking at a decisive leader who doesn't dither, prevaricate and renege on promises and commitments - it must be difficult to judge them harshly.

2. Putin is principled—so long as those principles enhance national power

Beg pardon? This "principled" ex-KGB man will do what it takes to reach his goals and step on anyone who stands in his way. For many years his chief art (and occupation) was to isolate his most effective and outspoken rivals - from billionaire oligarchs to unruly reporters - and getting rid of them in a rich variety of methods all over the world. Now he turned his attention to expansion of Mother Russia under all kinds of unashamedly rude pretexts, not very different from the pre-WW II German acts of expansion. And prof Beinart calls this "principled"? Oh boy...

If this is not a cheap exercise in rhetoric, show me one, please.

3. Putin doesn’t understand economic power

Possibly, and I am not sure that Peter Beinart (or I for that matter) do fully understand the subject, both of us not being schooled in economics, as far as I am able to detect. One thing I know, though: try nurturing your economic power without being able to flex your military muscle, and let's see where it will get you in this world (that isn't very much invested in appeasement these days, at least not outside US and western Europe).

Now a general notice about the hawks that prof Beinart decries in the article. While the article itself operates mostly in some strange linguistic universe and is hardly supported by facts*, I would like to know one single thing about these menacing and frightening American hawks: how many square meters (OK, talk to me in square feet if you must) of foreign territory did they add to the territory of USA lately (or earlier, for that matter)?

On the other side of that imaginary equation: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, Russian troops massing on the eastern borders of Ukraine with plans not very clear at the moment, but menacing nevertheless. Looks like USA hawks are rather ineffective, all things considered.

And nothing else needs to be argued, really. Still, being as much Jewish as prof Beinart, I would like to add a few bits and pieces to complete the picture. Let's start with comparison of mutual likes and dislikes of Russians and Americans.

Only a Quarter of Americans See Russia as an Enemy:

Since last November, the percentage viewing Russia as an adversary has risen eight points (from 18%) while the share saying it is a serious problem has increased seven points (from 36%). The number of Americans who do not think of Russia as much of a problem has fallen by almost half – from 40% then to 22% today.
While the trend, shown in the picture below, is that more Americans are becoming concerned about Russia, it's still easy to see that the current level of concern is nothing compared to the situation 30 years ago:

Notwithstanding the better general opinion that Russians express about Americans (about 60% positive) than vice versa (only 37% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Russia), there is a hard core of America haters in Russia that isn't matched by anything even remotely similar in US. Of course, as a bilingual surfer, I am in a better position to judge than professor Beinart, but I guess that striving for linguistic and other symmetries depraved him of his usual passion for objectivity anyway.

The Russian Internet, whether it reflects the state of mind of the general population or only that of the surfers, is choke full of expressions of hate, derision and rejection addressed by Russians at the general American population. Here is a typical, albeit expressed in better English, example of such hate:

Click on it, please, and read it all, it's an important human document, a true presentation of the above mentioned hard core haters' considered opinion.

And, since language takes an important part in prof Beinart's article, is prof Beinart aware that, unlike in US English, Russian language has several terms of abuse, aimed specifically at Americans? "Pindos" being the newest of them. I can tell you that (besides and beyond that above linked article), the term "Pindos", when pronounced in Russian, carries a few additional flavors I wouldn't dare go into in this post. And, as the Russian Wiki discloses:
By absolute frequency of invocation in the Internet environment, invectives for Americans ("Amerikos", "Pindos", "Yankees" - 1.1 million mentions) took the second place, behind the Ukrainians ("Khohol" - 1.2 million mentions) and ahead of the Jews ("Kikes"/"Zhidy" - 1.0 million mentions).
Wow, ahead of "kikes" - that's not an easy feat in Russia, I can assure you.

All in all, I dare prof Beinart to find some symmetry in this too. And good luck. But as far as I know, American English doesn't include anything similar to "Pindos"...

I guess that prof Beinart, a student of history, knows all too well how easily a deft and manipulative ruler (sounds like Putin, doesn't it?) could turn the verbal violence into  real, physical one, at will. Enough said - I hope.

It would have been all, if the end of the article weren't more disturbing than the rest of it. It starts with somewhat relaxing remark:
None of this is to suggest that American and Russian actions are morally equivalent. For all its errors and crimes, American foreign policy is restrained by our democratic political system in a way Russia’s is not.
But the last sentence, that casual afterthought kind of turns the whole on its head:
Maybe “metrosexuality” and “mom jeans” aren’t so bad after all.
It refers (sympathetically) to appeasement and to the appeasing ways of the current POTUS and his administration.

And it shows an interesting and very, very much disturbing trend. If you put together the "progressive" left, presented in this case by Peter Beinart, the quite strong paleoconservative stream in American politics and the good part of today's libertarians, lead by Rand Paul and his daddy: the powers of isolationism (or, at least, relentless appeasement) in today's USA are considerable indeed.

Where does it end?

(*) Unless you consider the timely (and somewhat sympathetic) references to Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza and the late Caudillo Chavez to be part of the factual basis of the article, of course.

Erdogan's illicit love affair, Twitter and Facebook in Turkey and his falsetto voice

Connect the dots, as they teach us to do in the Elders' training, and I always go out of my way to connect a few. In this case the dots were only too easy to connect.

First - a short piece in Hebrew, broadly hinting that we should expect a scoop: publication of a blazing sex tape, showing the Turkish chief with a beautiful journalist. The said journalist is threatening to sue anyone who dares, Erdogan denies and closes down Twitter and Facebook.

As for his newly acquired falsetto voice, described in the Hurryet article: obviously his spouse caught up... but connect that dot yourself, please.

Update: Aussie Dave has another explanation: the old trauma Erdogan received in 2010, when a horse kicked him in the unmentionables, is playing up:

But frankly, I like my version better.

29 March 2014

Russian Culture Minister, the extra chromosome and Tchaikovsky

Ho ho ho. As far as mysterious headlines are concerned, this one surely must be at the top, ain't it? But everything will be illuminated shortly. Starting with this:

Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation:
"I think that after all the disasters that hit Russia in the twentieth century, beginning with World War I and ending with the "Perestroika", the fact that Russia has been preserved and developed, proves that our people have one extra chromosome."
The Hon. Minister of Culture isn't aware that an extra chromosome is a symptom of one of several serious disorders, one of which is Down Syndrome.

Prof Medinsky is also known to issue the following statements:
"There is no evidence that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual", Vladimir Medinsky told Interfax news agency, as he spoke about the biopic by acclaimed screenwriter Yuri Arabov.
Beg your pardon? Evidence?

From here:
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact "deserves a monument."
The U.S.S.R. never occupied the Baltic states, it just "incorporated" them.
An infamous picture of a Nazi-Soviet military parade in Poland in 1939 was "photoshopped."
Anti-Semitism in Tsarist Russia has been "greatly exaggerated."
More on this natural treasure, including some details about his education and scientific "career" in this article. One quote from its last paragraph:
Perhaps the simplest explanation [re Medinsky and the job he got] is given by Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Moscow-based Panorama think tank. The Kremlin, he suggests, simply couldn't find anybody else. "It's not the kind of position that people fight for. It's not easy to find a person for this post," Pribylovsky says. "Perhaps there was a competition between fools and they simply chose the most patriotic one."
In any case, there are all the good reasons to suspect that, unlike most of the Russian people, prof Medinsky got more than the normal share of chromosomes.

Council of Islamic Ideology recognizes superiority of homosexual relationships

Well, not directly, a self-respecting scholar never states anything in a simple straightforward way, but here it is:

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) concluded their 192nd meeting on Thursday with the ruling that women are un-Islamic and that their mere existence contradicted Sharia and the will of Allah. As the meeting concluded CII Chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani noted that women by existing defied the laws of nature, and to protect Islam and the Sharia women should be forced to stop existing as soon as possible.
Which, of course, leaves only one solution, unless one doesn't want to end up like this:

It is getting curiouser and curiouser...

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

28 March 2014

Chinese smuggler haircut a la Kim the Fatso: for all North Korean men?

And you thought that our life doesn't have a place for individual expression of a genius. Here you are:

Men in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un, it is reported.

The state-sanctioned guidelines were introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, media reports say. They are now being rolled out across the country - although some people have reservations about getting the look.
How about that:

I think that this measure doesn't go far enough. So here are a few creative ideas for the leader:

1. First of all, not only the haircut: the facial expression, as presented in the above picture, should become mandatory as well. Every loyal NK citizen should train to carry this expression at all times, eating, sleeping and making love to officially approved partner (according to officially approved technique) included.

Since some of the people are handicapped in regard of their haircut options (for example, baldies) and some people have other disfigurements, both the hair style and the expression may present a technical issue. To resolve these problems, after some observation of the fearsome and glorious Fatso Leader, I offer a revolutionary solution in the best tradition of Juche ideology:

Properly skinned and stretched, the face of that critter could be used as a mask for daily use, and its fur, cured and colored black, after a simple cutting will be indistinguishable from the dead animal on the head of the glorious Leader. Uniformity thus practically secured - forever or until further notice, whichever comes first.

2. Why is the measure restricted only to men?  Methinks, if women are made to carry the same face and head cover as described in par. 1, it will make the life in NK even better.

3. When all this is said and done: why doesn't the glorious creep take his haircut with him, crawl into some sewer, curl up there and die? I bet it will be the only good thing he has ever done.

Update: the BBC story appears to be a hoax. However, my proposal #3 stays in force.

Rule 5 and a language issue

Regarding this picture (click on it to read the text):

My question is solely about my poor understanding of that language: shouldn't the "cheeky" mark be the top one? I mean... well, you surely know what I mean.

27 March 2014

A queue of joiners on Putin's porch is growing

Of course, most of us are joking about Vladimir Vladimirovich and his carefully nurtured and hitherto carefully concealed plans for restoration of the great empire. The jokes could come in different form and size, like that one, already published:

"How is our Alaska doing there?", says the caption.

Alaskans, however, being a nice bunch of folks, besides being hungry for entertainment, picked that joke up:
Moscow’s annexation of Crimea was condemned worldwide, but some people in Alaska apparently are yearning for the days when they, too, were part of Mother Russia.

A petition on the White House website created by “S.V.” of Anchorage is calling on Alaskans and others to "vote" for Alaska to secede from the U.S. and become a part of Russia.
This petition is, almost surely, a joke (more about jokes later). Another call for joining the growing empire came from a totally unexpected direction: so called Palestinian Information (yeah, sure...) Center - a Hamas mouthpiece - published an article in Russian (I couldn't find an English version, so to save some time I have used a close enough report from Voice of Russia):
According to online reports, the treaty on Crimea being accepted into Russia has prompted the setting up of an initiative group that will draw up a proposal for the Palestinian enclave in Israel to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation, too. This is reported by the Russian-language version of the Palestinian Information Center.

The initiative group comprises Russian nationals making their home in Gaza. These are mostly Russian women, totaling some 50,000, who have married Palestinian men but have retained their Russian passports, the report says.

The report quotes a group member as saying that "Moscow has said it will defend Russians anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, we live in a place where Israel has threatened our lives and those of our children for years on end. But if the Gaza Strip joined Russia, we would also have a well-protected border, up-to-date weapons, perhaps, even nuclear weapons [sic]. This would make Israel and Egypt speak with Palestinians differently, the activists feel.

They are absolutely unperturbed by the fact that Russia is far away from Gaza. They point out that Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands are also far away from the UK. The activists have no doubt about the outcome of this kind of referendum, the Information Centre points out.
Etc. Of course, you may say, this is a joke too. Indeed, as one commenter succinctly expressed his attitude to the story elsewhere:
That would be interesting. Although I don't see Putin tolerating this "Allah" fellow for very long.
Yes, jokes are cool and hopefully will last us for years to come. However, let's not forget that there's a grain of truth in every joke. I bet that patricians in old Rome used to joke about the small and disorganized barbarian gangs. Just as well-to-do XX century Germans used to joke about that small man with a funny mustache. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Saudis about the POTUS: another bullseye

I would be the first to agree that by now being clever on account of the current WH and the current administration in general has become somewhat of a cheap kind of entertainment. I mean, after you have taken one shot at the fish in that barrel, how many more shots will keep you interested?

Still, Saudi prince with his flowery turn of phrase, has managed to do it in a fresh way:

We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia.
I would add that some of them lines have gotten yellowish a bit, what with the relentless Middle Eastern sun. But it would be just some icing on the cake and not really necessary.

Speaking about more icing on that cake, a good article on CNN by Peter Bergen about Saudis' disappointment with US of A.

And, speaking about Saudis: they are not alone in that sentiment. Nuff said...

Peruvian police arrest 60 Israeli tourists

And for a good reason, too, and I don't mean "drugs, alcohol and orgies". The other thing, though: the location - the archeological dig at Sacsayhuaman. And this:

Another report by volunteers working at the site stated that the Israeli youth had stolen artifacts found at the dig site and cans of spray-paint were discovered in their possession. The artifacts were reportedly discovered by the youth while they constructed illegal, makeshift shelters for the party...
I am not saying "lock them up and throw away the keys". But a year (or two) of doing the menial work on that same site, helping out the archeologists could go a long way to "clear their mind"*.

(*) "Clear the mind" is a not very good translation (in the article) of the Israeli slang for after-army excesses our dear kids indulge in. Oh well, be that as it may, there are better ways, like that year or two at the digs...

Watcher’s Council Nominations – March Madness Edition

Council News:

The Council In Action!

Liberty’s Spirit has a new article up at the Times of Israel, Rejecting God: Atheism and Autism
Nice Deb has a new piece up at Breitbart about a significant legal challenge to Obamacare, DC Circuit Court to Decide Tuesday Whether Obama Administration Can Rewrite Laws
Joshuapundit has a new piece up at the Times of Israel,What Caroline Glick’s One State Plan Unfortunately Misses

This week, MidKnight Review, The Pirate’s Cove, Maggie’s Notebook and Right Truth earned honorable mention status with some great articles.
You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.
To bring something to my attention simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor  by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning
Simple, no?
It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?
So, without further ado, let’s see what we have this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

26 March 2014

Odessa Jews about Crimea and more

Two Jews meeting on the Odessa street.

- Say, Chaim, did they have a referendum in Crimea?
- Yes.
- And what are the results?
- 97% voted to join Russia.
- And why would these 97% want to do this?
- Because they were oppressed by the other 3%.
- No, you don't say!
- You better believe it, Moishe, because Russians over there in Russia also say they suffered a lot from these 2% of Jews...

- You know, Meyer, I try not to speak Russian in the street anymore.
- Why is that, Reuven, are you afraid that these Ukrainian patriots will clean your clock?
- Nope, I am afraid that the Russians will come over to help me out.

And on a related subject. An Ukrainian naval base in Crimea is surrounded by Russian soldiers. The Russian officer is calling over to the Ukrainian commander.

- Surrender!
- Nah...
- Then start shooting!
- Nah...
- Oh well, at least let us in to warm up, it is cold like Siberia out here. Let us sleep in your barracks, be a man!
- Er... dunno... Well, OK, but for 90 bucks per head!
- Are you mad, why it is so expensive?
- Well, for sure you understand that Crimea is a resort area...

To better understand the references to Odessa, here is a map:

Odessa is circled in blue, Crimea in red. Then browse through this.

Hat tip: Y.Z.

Rule 5 corollary: don't be a dog

Like this:

Real unseemly.

25 March 2014

What I think about Jimmy Carter thinking that his mail was perused by NSA

I think that if this is true, NSA jobs are much more hazardous for its employees' mental health than government salaries allow. That will be all, folks.

P.S. No, it is not all, it appears. Jimmuh has more insights to share (thanks to Peter The Hungarian):

But to force the Arab people to say that all the Arab people that they have in Israel have to be Jews, I think that’s going too far.
Truly a great man. Or a monument to a great man that just didn't materialize. Cause of them NSA mind-bending rays. Or whatever.

24 March 2014

Forum: What Is The Meaning Of ‘Spirituality’ To You?

Every week on Monday morning , the Watcher’s Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question:What Is The Meaning Of ‘Spirituality’ To You?

A short and sordid story of a life

Bryson was bailed until sentencing on the condition he is not alone with animals.

23 March 2014

The slaves and their emperor: Russians' adulation of Putin

Presiding over a stuttering economy and (slowly but surely) aging and dying population, with smoldering under the ashes societal issues that looked to be threatening his throne, Vladimir Vladimirovich has found a trump card that raised his popularity to unimaginable height. Western media went slack-jawed at the wondrous show of support. That card was, of course, his swift Anschluss-style annexation of Crimea. A typical sentence from a USA press:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Ukraine's breakaway republic of Crimea has stunned the international community, but support for his actions in Russia suggest there is certain logic to what he is doing that no amount of sanctions or threats of isolation will overturn: bolstering popularity back home.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses a joint session of Russian parliament on Crimea in the Kremlin in Moscow on March 18. Putin pushed every emotional button of the collective Russian psyche as he justified the incorporation of Crimea. (Photo: Alexei Nikolsky, AFP/Getty Images)

Indeed, the skillful use of cheap patriotism by Vladimir Vladimirovich caused an unprecedented wave of nationalistic enthusiasm.
The mood in Moscow on Tuesday was supportive of the annexation, with Russian flags hanging out of windows and strangers congratulating each other on what they referred to as a "holiday."
At the moment this wave seems to be overwhelming and drowning any dissenting voices. Journalists that dare voice a contrary opinion on the latest "liberation" move are ostracized, denigrated and even threatened physically in some cases. The ultra-nationalistic movements, hitherto quietly restrained, their activities curbed, are ruling the streets. Protesters are being dealt with swiftly and forcefully.

And, of course, the media outlets that don't toe the line, are getting a swift and merciless punishment, as it could be seen in this clip (by Al Jazeera, sorry to say):

Everyone is asking nowadays what will be the next move of the "liberator". And where does he plan to stop (seeing as the Western token protest and feeble economic measures don't seem to impact his plans)?

As for the first question, the most likely target to join Russia is the tiny de facto "sovereign state" of Pridnestrovie(Transnistria), that has broken away from the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova in 1990 and exists only thanks to not very generous Russian assistance and more generous Russian military presence. Having a high percentage of ethnic Russians, Pridnestrovie has already overwhelmingly voted to join mother Russia several years ago, but so far their entreaties weren't met by a warm embrace from Moscow. It may change now, with Putin being quite happy with the first empire expansion step. Of course, being a consummate politico, Putin will try to time this next step according to his best interests. Such as a serious drop in the polls, when the sobered Russians discover the economic damage caused by the Crimean adventure...

Regarding the second question - re further Putin's expansionist plans - my guess will be that they are limited and are not really meant to recreate the Russian empire or the Soviet Union in its past geographic glory. Putin would rather chip off a few bits and pieces here and there, skillfully using each piece to promote his own internal popularity and in no way is he going to go far enough to change the pattern of Western anemic protests and chance a real confrontation. Not that he has to worry too much about the latter, as the things look at the moment.

As for the Russian people: their chauvinistic ecstasy is a bitter surprise. Obviously it takes more than just puny twenty years to instill democracy in a nation that never knew democracy at all. And, with apologies to my reader, I just have to do it. Follows a very relevant quote from a person who started it all. Enjoy.

"...Никто не повинен в том, что он родился рабом; но раб, который не только чуждается стремлений к своей свободе, но оправдывает и приукрашивает свое рабство (например, называет удушение Польши, Украины и т. д. «защитой отечества» великороссов), такой раб есть вызывающий законное чувство негодования, презрения и омерзения холуй и хам..."

В. И. Ленин, "О национальной гордости великороссов"
ПСС, том 26, стр. 106-108

"... No one is to blame for the fact that he was born a slave, but a slave who not only eschews a striving for freedom, but justifies and embellishes his slavery (for example, calls the strangulation of Poland, Ukraine, etc. "defense of the fatherland ")*, such a slave is a flunky and a boor that deserves a legitimate feeling of indignation, contempt and disgust... "

V.I. Lenin, "On the National Pride of the Great Russians"
Collected Works, Volume 26, pages 106-108

(*) Interestingly, the quote used here appears in many Internet sources, however the mention of Poland and Ukraine is missing in many of the quotations...

Update: Just received this via email (thanks to L.G.):

22 March 2014

Obama Ranked 5th Best President In American History

By Nice Deb.

U. S. A.

Sorry, guys and gals... This video contains English subtitles, but won't actually tell an awful lot to someone who didn't spend a fair portion of 1970s in the good ol'd USSR. 

Dear Snoopy... This one is for you.  Who said time machine was pure fiction???

January Jones naked uncensored

Is of a slight interest to this here blog, not to mention the name being unfamiliar to this ignorant blogger. However, some other birds are, and you get an opportunity to watch one and to relax, just by clicking on the picture to enlarge it:

I bet you feel better now and not as willing to surf like mad in the vain search for Ms Jones.

21 March 2014

Vladimir Putin: an opportunist or a clever strategist?

Strangely (or rather not), the question doesn't come from me, but from Tom Lister, the author of that CNN article. The full text of the sentence where the question is asked:

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin an opportunist, grabbing at chances to poke the West in the eye, or a clever strategist with the longer-term goal of restoring a greater Russia?
I am stumped trying to understand Mr Lister. Really.

Is there any contradiction between being a "clever strategist" and poking the West where it hurts? Did the venerable Sun Tzu ever object to a bit of poking one's enemy in the eye?

Unless, of course, that kind of poking is considered politically incorrect nowadays. But I wouldn't know. Or care, for that matter.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

And, since Russians were mentioned...

"Is it true that you force your Russian-speaking population speak something you call Hebrew?"

Crimea and Goebbels' dream: Russians still are able to joke

The caption: "My Fuhrer, I dreamed that Russia attacked Ukraine and Germany demands to stop the war".

19 March 2014

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Putinmania Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

15 March 2014

UN Security Council is concerned...

with the situation in Ukraine. The reason of the agitation: so far no possible cause to blame Israel for this was found.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

13 March 2014


No time for anything else, folks, back to light blogging mode. Be well.

09 March 2014

Begging off for two weeks

Blogging will be light for the next two weeks. Practically nil. But keep watching Vladimir Vladimirovich and other shady characters, please!

Vladimir Vladimirovich, please liberate us!

This article was written by Roman Romanenko, a Russian journalist for Moscow's Echo*. Follows a Google translation, with a slight nudge or two from me.

Our address to V.V. Putin.

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

We've learned that you want to send troops to the Crimea, to protect the rights of Russian-speaking population.

In this regard, we have a big request - to send troops to the Vologda. We're almost all Russian-speaking here and our very rights are infringed. Our sick can not get the drugs and treatment they need, the level of our education falls every year, kindergartens and children's enrichment sections are closing, agriculture is virtually destroyed. We all suffer.

And the usurpers, who seized power in fraudulent elections, do nothing for the subject population. They spend the money on themselves, on their PR, their offices, country houses, purchase of apartments and air charters.

We'll be very grateful and guarantee that there will be no guerrilla war against the liberators. Yes, and international sanctions, for sure, will not follow.

We have learned that you are going to spend a lot of money to normalize life in the Crimea. It is a bit embarrassing, but we have to ask whether it is possible to spend the money on the normalization of life in the Vologda. Because we are in such a debt hole that there is no money for anything. And we really need bridges, roads, sports facilities, industrial parks, new jobs ...

With respect and hope for liberation, Russian-speaking residents of the Vologda region.


By now, you may have already realized that this is (kind of) a spoof, because Vologda is one of the central provinces of Russia (click on the map below to embiggen).

However, while the request for troops is a sham, all the rest is not. Unfortunately.

(*) And the article may easily fall under the new draconian censorship law.

P.S. Citizen of Tver province came out with a similar call to Putin. No time for translation, but the idea is identical.

08 March 2014

No, Putin is not Hitler, recalibrates Hillary

According to this. And I, for once, find myself in total agreement with the lady.

And in general, "you are not Hitler" could be a great conversation starter. Imagine using that on your friends:

  • - Hey, Jim, you are no Hitler.
  • - How do, Bob, you are totally unlike Hitler today.
  • - Morning, Tanya, you are not Hitler for sure, although I wanted to discuss with you that mustache for quite some time...
Mmm... might work.

The last argument

Dear Ms ...

Please keep in mind that if you die a virgin, you will end up in the section of paradise allocated to Muslim martyrs.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

07 March 2014

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité and a few Russian rubles

Which one wins? Guess. Nah, don't bother.

Apropos Crimea...

"How is our Alaska doing there?", says the caption.

P.S. 1.4% of Alaskan population is Russian. And every single one in dire need of protection...

BBC, CNN, ... : a happy family of politically correct clones

I have read the CNN article Israel intercepts ship with weapons headed to Gaza before stumbling on BBC Watch post BBC employs smoke and mirrors in report on Iranian weapons smuggling ship. After reading the latter, I remembered the former and got back to check it out again in the light what the BBC Watch writer said.

Guess what: same difference. I would even dare say that the liberal (no pun intended) use of quotation marks by CNN somewhat overtakes that by BBC.

All is left to be grateful for is that they don't yet use quotation marks in word combinations like Israel Defense Forces, Israeli navy, Israeli Prime Minister. Just imagine:

  • "Israel" "Defence" "Forces"
  • "Israeli" "Navy"
  • "Israeli" "Prime Minister"

"Anti-Russian" article = crime against the state

I wanted to say that reading an article in Izvestia, I felt the smell of sulfur. But no, upon second thought. It was rather a curious mix of sulfur, burning fragrance candles (or whatever Inquisitors used at the time) and poorly cured leather of Soviet jackboots, NKVD issue.

OK, enough lyrical asides, here comes a quick and dirty translation of the first two paragraphs from that article, titled Anti-Russian articles by journalists will be considered a crime against the state.

State Duma member Yevgeny Fyodorov ("United Russia") is preparing a draft law on amendments to the Administrative and Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, as well as amendments to the laws against terrorism and extremism. According to the author of the amendments, the purpose of the amendments is to establish administrative and criminal liability for media executives, "which allow publication of false anti-Russian information, provide information and support to extremist and separatist anti-Russian forces, including the coverage of events beyond the borders of Russia."

The reason for the introduction of the bill is multiple publications in the Russian media, in which the authors, according to the MP, used incorrect historical analogies and interpretation of events in Russia and the Ukraine coup.
Now, my dear reader, what do you smell?

06 March 2014

Aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease,

said the president.

Oh my, oh my... we do learn on the job, after all. So why is the third term in White House out of the question? When Putin gobbles up California, some excuses could be found, but Illinois... nah, the POTUS wouldn't stand for it.

I am pretty sure, that is.

Assistance to Gaza from two different directions: Tehran and Medea Benjamin

I don't want to connect the dots, but the timing of these two failed attempts to lend a helping hand to Hamas is speaking for itself. You be the judge.

First of all, the IDF naval commandos from Shayetet 13 had a successful fishing trip in the Red Sea: an Iranian arms shipment headed for the Gaza Strip.

(The soldier whose feet got in the frame should be chastised by his sergeant anyway, re the deplorable state of his shoes, what with CNN watching like an eagle...)

And, on the other side of Gaza, in Egypt, the chicken-brained founder of Code Pink, one Medea Benjamin "had spent a day in a cold Egyptian jail pen" (according to her) and had her arm broken (according to her), both acts committed before she was sent away.

(As a totally unrelated remark: I would vastly prefer to handle these Syrian/Iranian missiles in any quantity than to deal with this raving lunatic, so my sincere sympathy to the Egyptian security folks who had that pleasure).

So there: we report, you decide...

Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim: one of us, after all!

I don't know whether many of you remember the fiery police chief and his stated intention to arrest all of the Israeli population in that mystery of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the hapless Hamas operative and his wondrous death, caused simultaneously by suffocation, electrocution, two different ways of poisoning, tasering and unbridled wild sex. Not to mention the preliminary torture (self-torture?).

Anyhow, the whole story and its amazing twists, turns and zigzags could be explained anew in the light of the latest news coming from Dubai.
Dubai police claimed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah was behind a Monday bombing in the outskirts of Bahrain’s capital Manama that resulted in the deaths of three policemen, one of them an officer from the United Arab Emirates deployed to help bolster security in the tiny island kingdom. According to Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the culprit behind the attack had traveled to Lebanon several times over the past years and had been trained by Hezbollah operatives.
So, it is obvious now to an untrained eye of a news reader that Mr Tamim didn't really intend to find the culprits in that old case, deliberately sowing misleading information and making ridiculous statements twice a day. While all the time doing solid police (and Mossad too) work, uncovering the mayhem caused by Hezbollah and similar.

Nice to know. And more power to Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim!

Nick Cohen shoots, Nick Cohen scores

A great slap on the face of the Mastermind of the Century. And kudos to Nick.

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Bear Facts Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

05 March 2014

There are no Russian soldiers in Crimea. Forget it.

Because all you have heard and seen before is an optical illusion. So say Putin and Lavrov.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that none of Russia’s forces have moved into the Crimean Peninsula, drawing a stunned reaction from Kerry.

Lavrov reiterated Putin’s claims on Wednesday. Asked if Russia could order the troops in the Crimea region back to their bases, Lavrov told a reporter in Madrid: “If you mean the self-defense units created by the inhabitants of Crimea, we give them no orders, they take no orders from us,” according to Reuters.
Move along, ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here. Case closed.

P.S. "Inhabitants"? Did he mean "natives"? Or "aborigines"?

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey and the art of misrepresentation


1. A misleading falsehood

2. A willful perversion of facts

A tough word that. Not the toughest, mind you, but early in the morning, before the caffeine started to spread through the old blood vessels, it is a challenge. So when I've stumbled on a Pravda piece titled The Misrepresentation of Sochi in the Western Media, I was kinda intrigued. The author, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, is not a stranger to this blog. Being as he is a past master of the Pravda style misrepresentation, I've expected the article to provide some hands-on advice to beginners.

But no, the article is one long lament about the execrable coverage of the Sochi Olympic Games by American press. It starts with the sweeping:

Surprise, surprise, surprise. The US media almost without exception concentrated on toilets, light bulbs, stray dogs as much as, or more than, the sport, the celebration, the party and the spectacle which is Sochi, the XXII Winter Olympic Games. It comes as no surprise that the showing of the Opening Ceremony in the USA was a study in manipulation.
So why should I raise that article from the dead almost a month after it was published? Because of another passage in it, pregnant with meaning and foreboding.

Usually the passion and general temperature of Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey's articles tend to rise toward the end, culminating in a paragraph or two of Wagnerian righteous rage. That one is no exception, and the third paragraph from the end carries a sublime passage:
Russian security forces, like their American counterparts, work daily to help protect the lives of ordinary citizens and their right to go about their daily lives without being confronted by some demonic maniac yelling Allahu Akhbar and going to meet his virgins. The difference is that Russia does not invade foreign lands and conduct a foreign policy which walks hand-in-hand with terrorism.
Yeah. It is March 4, 2014 right now, and some Russian soldiers are busy like little bees, providing brotherly assistance to the oppressed Russian citizens of Crimea as we speak. Talk about "misrepresentation " some more, folks. Please...

And notice that I didn't even mention the hilarious finale of that article:
How childish...as if anyone in the USA these days believes a word their media tell them anyway, given that most people have access to the Net and to places where they can read the truth, like Pravda.Ru.
Pravda means truth, after all, as we all know by now.

Update: fresh from the press, a new opus by Bankrupt-Hinchey, the servant of Pravda/Truth:
Before we have another display of butt-faced ignorance, pig-headed arrogance and unadulterated, jingoistic, xenophobic and chauvinistic bilge from Mr. Kerry and his NATO sidekicks, let us make one thing crystal clear...
Etc. This is Pravda's answer to critics of Crimean invasion... oh well.

Now explain this, please!

Men don't have to bother, I must add.

04 March 2014

Crimea Mulls Switch to Moscow Time - I wonder why...

This headline of RIA - Russian Information Agency Novosti - is placed under the topic: Turbulence in Ukraine. Does it mean that Russians are still hesitating whether Crimea still belongs to Ukraine? Or are they just playing the farce out till the formal declaration of annexation I mean Crimean decision to join the brotherhood of autonomous, semi-autonomous and all these other kinds of virtual entities so familiar from Soviet times?

This schizophrenic indecision should continue for a few days, I guess. Meanwhile the pictures continue to come in, including ones from the Russian media:

In this picture you can see that, notwithstanding the part where Crimea conducts a referendum and declares self an independent state, to be able to formally ask Russia to accept it as a new whatever, Crimeans are running the Russian flag (in the background) together with the Crimean one over the building of their Rada (the Ukrainian name for the parliament, to be changed to the Russian "Duma" quite soon, I guess).

Ukraine's Yanukovych asked for Russian troops

Yes, indeed. Now pull the other one, please.

The oldest Soviet trick on the long and barbarous Soviet record of "brotherly international assistance". And it seems to be dusted off and reused successfully.

I only wonder whether it was printed, scanned and e-mailed to Putin or faxed. And how old the printer ink on it is. My guess will be about two or three months.

How do they say "Bye bye, Crimea" in Ukrainian? Beats me.

I know it's not April 1st or even Purim (yet), but...

How could I resist such a Purim spiel? Even if it is 2 weeks early. Read and enjoy (provided you're not Haredi, of course) this.

By Brian Goldfarb.

03 March 2014

Crimea seems to go back to Russia - no matter what Obama says (or does)

Once again the leader of the free world remains standing in Putin's dust. While president Obama "is examining a series of economic and diplomatic steps to "isolate Russia"", Russian Duma (a Russian simulacrum of a parliament) is preparing a law that will allow to "accept" any foreign state that expresses the desire to do so into the embrace of the Russian Federation. It must be stressed that the law is good not only for Crimea, which wouldn't be mentioned in its text specifically.

Indeed, Putin's plans could be wider and more far-reaching than just Crimea...

And of course, the same source (Pravda.ru) reports with a great deal of satisfaction that Crimea (that currently enjoys semi-autonomous status in Ukraine) is creating first attributes of a state.

A government independent of Kiev was formed and announced a referendum to change the status of Crimea Autonomous republic to that of a state. It was decided to Crimea's own Ministry of Defence. The primary tasks are to hold a referendum and become independent. But what's next?
Indeed, what next (don't you just love that question?).

It doesn't take a Sherlock to notice the mention of the term "state" in that report on the Russian Duma's deliberations about the possible future annexations, coupled with the sudden craving of the spontaneously formed Crimean government to make Crimea a state. Funny that.

One thing in that Pravda article may be confusing for an innocent foreign observer.

If you look at the flags brandished by the enthusiastic Crimeans, you may notice that they (the flags) bear an amazing likeness to that of a Russian tricolor. Probably, while being in such a rush to become an independent state, Crimeans just didn't have time to design a new flag for their future independent Motherland.

Or, which is more likely, it is just something that the Kremlin planners of all these Crimean developments overlooked, being too busy with more important details.

Yet again, it could be a grave mistake to think that the Kremlin planners are allowed to forget anything at all. Which means that these flags are an... OK, enough of that paranoid thinking.

Or not?

Western world and Ukraine: peacemakers for bandits?


The goings-on

This "BRINK OF DISASTER" thing is the masthead headline today on CNN. Frankly, as one who still remembers the heady days of Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (albeit as a child), the goosebumps caused by a headline of that type are quite considerable.

So what does a concerned news watcher in the West see as the things develop? The Russian army does what an army usually does: quietly and without undue fanfare the first line of attack, most probably including the Russian commando forces, occupy the possible centers of resistance in Crimea, including three Ukrainian army bases that were surrounded "to guard the Ukrainian troops from any provocations". Whatever this Machiavellian formula means. There are some reported pockets of resistance, but so far not a single shot was fired in anger and the resistance was verbal. The Ukrainian forces in Crimea, besides being small, are definitely not trained to stand up to a solid Russian strike force anyway, so if a shot will be fired, it will only result in a short and decisive annihilation.

I hope that the said news watcher notices that Putin and his henchmen, being old KGB-trained hands in psychological wars, have already prepared a local group of quislings who are readily executing the old Soviet times trick with "asking for Russian assistance" in that hour of need (need for what exactly?).

While the new Ukrainian leadership denounces the Russian aggression and calls for mobilization, vowing to defend Ukrainian sovereignty, it is very doubtful that Ukrainian military, small and poorly trained as it is, its loyalty divided and its moral low, will be able to put up anything more than token resistance. Sentences like "In Kiev, Ukraine's new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military, warning that 'we are on the brink of disaster.'"may impress an uninformed watcher, but there is not a lot of cattle behind that hat...

Russian press has already reported that the Ukrainian Navy flagship, Hetman Sahaidachny, deserted its navy, refused to follow orders from Kiev and came over to Russia’s side. Russian language report ads that the desertion was a result of direct command by the deposed Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovich, who relocated himself and his close supporters to Kharkiv (or Kharkov as this east Ukraine city, sympathetic to Yanukovich and Putin is called in Russian). Whatever the reason for desertion, Hetman Sahaidachny is (was) an only military vessel of substance in the otherwise largely token navy. So there is nothing to protect Crimea from the (comparatively) powerful Russian Black Sea fleet or from sea-based amphibious assault.

As far as the military angle is concerned, the Crimea goose is cooked, in case Putin and his clique decide to complete its conquest, sending in more troops, armored units and air force.

So, all in all, the hypocrisy and the flawlessly carried out power play win another day for the leader who outmaneuvered the Western world several times during the last two or three years. That same leader who, in tune with his Chinese friends, endlessly repeated the mantra of non-intervention in internal matters of a sovereign state, is brazenly and openly acting against his own (oh well...) bit of cheap wisdom. While enjoying quite a rise in popular support at home for his troubles, it must be mentioned (check the pictures coming from Moscow, please).

Whether Putin intends to keep the Crimea for good or not is an open question right now. To be discussed later in this post.

What could West do?

Ukraine is not a NATO member, meaning that U.S. and Europe are not obligated to come to its defense. However, NATO and US committed to protect Ukraine as compensation for Ukraine ridding itself of its nuclear arsenal. I doubt that this clause will be ever invoked.

Technically, aside of Turkey, there is no military presence in the Black Sea basin to be of any possible significance, and the significance of Turkish Navy and Air Force as a possible threat to Russian activities in the area has, most definitely been taken into account by Russian planners, with appropriate messages passed to whom it may concern.

In short: all the West could do for Crimea amounts to diddly squat - in the best case and a lot of face loss in any other scenario - militarily speaking, at least. For instance, sending a few squadrons of long range bombers to bomb the heck of quite dense civilian population in Crimea will be hardly a model of a meaningful international assistance, would it?

And how about the rest of Ukraine? What if Russian army starts moving into the eastern parts of it, ostensibly to protect its ethnic Russian population? What is left to the Western powers, aside of toothless entreaties and protests? Put troops on the ground? Send armor brigades to Ukrainian borders with Russia and relocate the NATO air force to Ukraine? A better recipe for WW III was rarely hatched...

But should the West intervene?

If you ask the American pundits, strangely there is an agreement between the former doves and hawks. Fareed Zakaria of CNN fame:
In any event, Washington’s response should be clear and forceful. Russia has violated all kinds of laws and norms, including most crucially, a treaty that it signed with Ukraine guaranteeing that country’s borders, in return for which Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons.
For Washington, for Americans, for people around the world, it would be a terrible precedent to allow issues like this to be resolved not through diplomacy, but by force. If Russia could detach parts of neighboring countries with impunity, won’t other great powers like China decide that they too can act in such ways?
And Charles Krauthammer, as expected:
I can assure you, Putin has calculated his calculated his own interests, and he's calculated that detaching Crimea from Ukraine and making it, essentially, a colony of Russia, is in Russia's interest - because he knows he has nothing to fear from the west, because it's not led by anybody. It used to be led by the United States.
Notice that both don't go as far as specifying what kind of response they will consider fitting. I hope they don't have in mind some kind of Dr Strangelove scenario. Because the matter is a bit more complex than usual Cold War slogans, dusted off and freely used by the media.

It is true that Putin is behaving like a thug, and one that feels he can do so with impunity. It is also clear that EU will not go further than token verbal resistance, taking into account that even an attempt to apply some kind of economic pressure will be swiftly repelled by Moscow turning off the gas and oil supplies to the freezing Europe. With China benevolently watching the power play between some insignificant European powers, only US may organize and lead some kind of meaningful resistance to the Russian thuggery. But should US really do so?

In the older post John Kerry's "stand with Ukraine's people" and the staggering ineptness of State Department I have tried to present the unappetizing alternatives that anyone who supports the cause of freedom and democracy in Ukraine is facing. The choice between a career criminal Victor Yanukovich and his ultra-corrupt gang of thieves and charlatans, whose only redeeming quality in Moscow eyes is their loyalty to Russia; and, on the other side, another gang of thieves and cads, stained even more by their embrace of the ultra-nationalist, racist thugs with roots deep in the Ukrainian fascist past, is not a choice that anyone in the West should make.

Could really someone seriously consider supporting a political movement, whose leader calls upon the Chechen terrorists to increase their terror activity in Russia in support of Ukrainian cause, whatever it might be? Yes, yes, I know, there are many politicos that live by "enemy of my enemy is my friend", but aren't there some limits?


And, finally, the case of Crimea - probably the main, albeit not yet publicly announced, goal of Putin's military adventure. CNN will tell you in its epic and foolish, as it frequently happens Cold War-style conflict hits Ukraine's Crimea: 3 things to know:
The Russian navy has had a base in Sevastopol for 230 years. The ships and subs are based just north of Turkey and can reach the Mediterranean.
The fleet has been a point of contention since 1954, when the former Soviet Union transferred the Crimea, including Sevastapol, to Ukraine, according to Jane's. In 2010, the two countries reached an agreement to permit the fleet to stay in Sevastopol until 2042.
For people CNN addresses, the ones that don't want to know more than 3 things (probably CEOs of big corporations), it may suffice. However, the claim re point of contention is laughable in its sheer idiocy and lack of basic knowledge.

In 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev made a gift of Crimea to Ukraine, the gesture was nothing but an empty and symbolic one. No one, be it a Russian or an Ukrainian, was seriously considering the borders between the republics of the (then seemingly eternal and unbreakable) Soviet Union. Crimea, which history is soaked by blood of Russian soldiers for hundreds of years, has no more historical or ethnic links to Ukraine than, for example, Canada, which has a significant Ukrainian population. A good analysis of the Khrushchev's historical blunder could be found here.

To make sure: I am not in any way supporting Putin's thuggery and expansion. But on the other hand, blind support of the (seeming) underdog, so characteristic in some enlightened, albeit uninformed, Western circles, is not a good idea either.


Stand back and stand fast. Let the hyena settle the brawl between the buzzards.


And if you are looking for a funny side in this grim business, here is one: Dmitry Medvedev (the current Russian PM and the best actor in the role of Russian president sometimes) says about Victor Yanukovich: "The man's authority is minuscule, but he is a legitimate president". Yep... take it or leave it...

Update 1: In the clip below one of the leaders of the "Right Sector" neo-fascist gang is "pacifying" a district prosecutor.

No doubt the latter is corrupt, just because he held the job with the old regime, but how do you like the new guy?

Update 2: And here are the protectors of the new Ukrainian regime in Kiev:

The text on their tees is straightforward: "Kill the kikes". What exactly them kikes have done to the true Ukrainian patriots is unclear, but this is a part of the hundreds years old Ukrainian tradition: when in trouble, kill a few of them...