Monday 1st of May 2017

huis clos...

stasi HQstasi HQ

BERLIN — He was skinny in his trim, dark suit, an almost lupine figure, nervous and unexpectedly youthful for a president of Russia. Taking the lectern beneath the dome of the restored Reichstag, Vladimir V. Putin soon shifted to German, with a fluency that startled the German lawmakers and a pro-West message that reassured them. The Cold War seemed over.

It was 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mr. Putin pledged solidarity with America while also sketching a vision of Russia’s European destiny. He was the first Russian leader to address the German Parliament, and lawmakers jumped to their feet, applauding, as many deputies marveled that he could speak their language so well.

Except for Angela Merkel, then the relatively untested leader of the opposition. She joined the standing ovation but turned to say something to a lawmaker who had grown up in the formerly Communist East, as she had. She knew how Mr. Putin’s German had gotten so good.

“Thanks to the Stasi,” Ms. Merkel said, a reference to the East German secret police Mr. Putin had worked alongside when he was a young K.G.B. officer in Dresden.

Fast-forward more than 15 years, to a world where the Cold War seems resurgent, which has seen a procession of American and European leaders try and fail to engage Russia, and only Ms. Merkel and Mr. Putin remain. Their relationship, and rivalry, is a microcosm of the sharply divergent visions clashing in Europe and beyond, a divide made more consequential by the uncertainty over President Trump’s policy toward Russia and whether he will redefine the traditional alliances of American foreign policy.

read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/12/world/europe/vladimir-putin-angela-merkel-russia-germany.html

 

I'm a dork! Get me out of here!

No Exit (French: Huis Clospronounced: [ɥi klo]) is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The original title is the French equivalent of the legal term in camera, referring to a private discussion behind closed doors. The play was first performed at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in May 1944.[1] The play begins with three characters who find themselves waiting in a mysterious room. It is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre's especially famous and often misinterpreted quotation "L'enfer, c'est les autres" or "Hell is other people",[2] a reference to Sartre's ideas about the look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object from the view of another consciousness.[3]

read more:

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

Picture at top: Former Stasi Headquarters in Berlin (picture by Gus Leonisky), now the home of the Soho Club, Berlin. All this to say that we all are dependent of others, even those we don't like because there is some historical baggage with the "greater" relationship of ideas and cultures, though the relationship of people should not be a struggle. We are mostly people in search of better ways to live in peace. Our means to peace may differ, but we should not be in hell yet.

 

they are not trying...

"procession of American and European leaders try and fail to engage Russia, and only Ms. Merkel and Mr. Putin remain"...

Really? All America and the European have tried to do was TO TRY TO STEAL FROM THE RUSSIANS. As well, contrary to the agreement made with Gorbachev, the west has encroached into the former Soviet Union countries, to a point now, where NATO is doing military exercises less than 15 kilometres from the Russian border. The Russians which are now led by Putin do not have any choice but prepare for the eventuality of war. The Russians won't start it, but the West will fabricate a false flag event to poke the Russians enough for a possible retaliation. There are still some agreements in place regarding the Black Sea, but the Americans and the NATO ships flaunt this agreement every day. Most likely that after the next German elections, only Putin will be left standing. The West has been trying to do what it can to get rid of him. Russia is not a bad country. Russia is not hell... Hell is only in our own head and it's full of shit. 

meanwhile, dealing with the potomac sewer...

The world already knows how Angela Merkel feels about Silvio Berlusconi. The former Italian prime minister allegedly sought pleasure with underage prostitutes, he wasn't particularly fastidious about the rule of law and he sought to grin away his country's problems. Italian newspapers also reported a few years ago that he made some rather untoward remarks about the German chancellor's posterior in a telephone conversation. Berlusconi was precisely the kind of politician Merkel abhors.

Nevertheless, she usually got what she wanted from him. At an EU summit in December 2008, she deployed a mix of charm and toughness to secure his agreement on her climate policies. It was a fabled event, and diplomats still tell stories today about how she wrapped the vain Italian leader around her little finger. 

Merkel's people are hoping for some similar magic at an upcoming encounter that will be even more sensitive. On Tuesday, she will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. It will be the first in-person meeting between the two since the U.S. election in November. And it could be the most difficult meeting Merkel has ever faced as chancellor.

The two couldn't be more different. On the one side is an unsophisticated yet self-absorbed political neophyte who has made it clear that there is nothing he won't sacrifice to achieve what he sees as America's interests. On the other is one of the most experienced leaders in the world, one who many see as being the last defender of democracy and Western values -- a view that Merkel herself considers to be a dangerous misjudgment given the limits of German power. Indeed, she calls it "absurd."

read more:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/merkel-prepares-for-difficult-...

darkseasky....

 

Amidst WikiLeaks’ revelations about the CIA’s capabilities to hack into Apple products is DarkSeaSkies – a tool used to monitor and control MacBook Air that’s physically installed by a CIA agent or asset in “less than 29 seconds.”

READ MORE: Apple’s achilles heel: CIA hacks MacBook computers with ‘Sonic Screwdriver’

DarkSeaSkies is a tool that runs in the background of a MacBook Air to allow the CIA command and control laptops. It is delivered via “supply chain intercept or a gift to the target.”

It’s loaded onto a MacBook via booting through a thumb drive. The CIA’s user document explains: “It is assumed that an operator or asset has one-time physical access to the target system and can boot the target system to an external flash drive.”

A 2009 “user requirements” document on DarkSeaSkies explains it was created to allow the CIA to access a MacBook Air.

The CIA’s COG [Computer Operations Group] had a “time-sensitive operational need” to install the Nightskies tool onto a MacBook Air, as the CIA had an “opportunity to gift a MacBook Air to a target that will be implanted with this tool.” It’s unknown who this target was.

 

read more:

https://www.rt.com/viral/382095-darkseaskies-cia-mackbook-darkmatter/

 

At this stage, there is nothing more I can do. I correspond with various people with four different Mac computers. Sounds like an overkill, but one cannot be too careful. Four different email addresses and two old computers that have reached their updated level of incompetence. So ancient they are untouchable. None of my computers are linked into a network. And I have no secrets worth the secrecy... So bugger off... Anyway, I will rely on the CIA to open my computer should I become dotty and forget my passwords...

I am working on a new security encoding which involves several horizontal lines the number of which is the same number as the number of characters in each lines -- forming a square, but the key to open SESAME is to highlight a vertical up or down match of characters, or a diagonal at any of the levels -- or BOTH. All I need now is to remember the key to these keys. Geez...

 

the bad smell of the dark deep sewer state...

 

Devin Nunes just set the cat down among the pigeons.

Two days after FBI Director James Comey assured us there was no truth to President Trump’s tweet about being wiretapped by Barack Obama, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump may have had more than just a small point.

The U.S. intelligence community, says Nunes, during surveillance of legitimate targets, picked up the names of Trump transition officials during surveillance of targets, “unmasked” their identity, and spread their names around, virtually assuring they would be leaked.

If true, this has the look and smell of a conspiracy to sabotage the Trump presidency, before it began.

Comey readily confirmed there was no evidence to back up the Trump tweet. But when it came to electronic surveillance of Trump and his campaign, Comey, somehow, could not comment on that.

Which raises the question: what is the real scandal here?

Is it that Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks? We have heard that since June.

Is it that Trump officials may have colluded with the Russians?

But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and ex-CIA Director Mike Morrell have both said they saw no evidence of this.

This March, Sen. Chris Coons walked back his stunning declaration about transcripts showing a Russia-Trump collusion, confessing, “I have no hard evidence of collusion.”

But if Clapper and Morrell saw no Russia-Trump collusion, what were they looking at during all those months to make them so conclude?

Was it “FBI transcripts,” as Senator Coons blurted out?

If so, who intercepted and transcribed the conversations? If it was intel agencies engaged in surveillance, who authorized that? How extensive was it? Against whom? Is it still going on?

And if today, after eight months, the intel agencies cannot tell us whether or not any member of the Trump team colluded with the Russians, what does that say of their competence?

The real scandal, which the media regard as a diversion from the primary target, Trump, is that a Deep State conspiracy to bring down his presidency seems to have been put in place by Obamaites, and perhaps approved by Obama himself.

Consider. On January 12, David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote,

“According to a senior U.S. government official, (Gen. Michael) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials … What did Flynn say?”

Now, on December 29, Flynn, national security adviser-designate, was not only doing his job calling the ambassador, he was a private citizen.

Why was he unmasked by U.S. intelligence?

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/an-obama-plot-against-tr...

 

through the window of some paleoconservatives...

“If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time.

“On the world stage, who could vie with him?”

So asks Chris Caldwell of The Weekly Standard in a remarkable essay in Hillsdale College’s March issue of its magazine, Imprimis.

What elevates Putin above all other 21st-century leaders?

“When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that.

“In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he resurrected a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.”

Putin’s approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump’s?

Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists, and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.

What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War’s end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.

And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.

The U.S. establishment loathes Putin because, they say, he is an aggressor, a tyrant, a “killer.” He invaded and occupies Ukraine. His old KGB comrades assassinate journalists, defectors, and dissidents.

Yet while politics under both czars and commissars has often been a blood sport in Russia, what has Putin done to his domestic enemies to rival what our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has done to the Muslim Brotherhood he overthrew in a military coup in Egypt?

What has Putin done to rival what our NATO ally President Erdogan has done in Turkey, jailing 40,000 people since last July’s coup—or our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte, who has presided over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers?

Does anyone think President Xi Jinping would have handled mass demonstrations against his regime in Tiananmen Square more gingerly than did President Putin this last week in Moscow?

Much of the hostility toward Putin stems from the fact that he not only defies the West, when standing up for Russia’s interests, he often succeeds in his defiance and goes unpunished and unrepentant.

He not only remains popular in his own country, but has admirers in nations whose political establishments are implacably hostile to him.

read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/is-putin-the-preeminent-...

crook opinions at the SMHMMMM

James O'Neill critiques the Sydney Morning Herald's recent portrayal of Putin's Russia. 

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (SMH) used to be a respected broadsheet.

It moved to tabloid size and its journalism followed the same trajectory.

Nowadays, it is divided into four broad sections: news (of a highly selected nature); comment and analysis; business and sports. Other miscellany includes the weather, public notices, obituaries and the like.

It is almost impossible to trust the first two of these categories — so slanted, ill-informed or propagandistic is so much of their content. There are some honourable exceptions, but like mining for gold, an awful lot of dross has to be sifted to find the valuable nuggets.

The manifold problems with what the SMH is pleased to call “analysis” are exemplified by a piece in the SMH of 30 March 2017 by Helen Womack. It is entitled 'The genie of Russian youth threatening Vladimir Putin's "managed democracy'. We are told that Ms Womack was a Moscow correspondent for 30 years. A Google search revealed that those 30 years ended in 2015, so her time there covered the GorbachevYeltsinMedvedev and Putin years.

Putin's model of "managed democracy" may no longer work. https://t.co/owbddQCinD

— chris zappone (@chrizap) March 28, 2017

Quite what Ms Womack learned from her 30 years in Moscow is not entirely clear from her "analysis". It included the Yeltsin years, which were an unmitigated disaster for most Russians. Their living standards plummeted, life expectancy dropped and, apart from a select number of oligarchs, the principal beneficiaries of those years were the western capitalist conglomerates that plundered Russia for their own benefit. Ms Womack ignores this history but it is critical for putting what she later alleges in proper context.

Her failure to acknowledge the disastrous Yeltsin years means she is unable to attribute credit to subsequent Russian leaders – including but not only Putin – who have led Russia to a remarkable evolution, often in the face of hostility, misrepresentation and sabotage from the west.

Russia is not only the world’s largest country by a significant margin, it is large and diverse. It even encompasses a Jewish oblast, as well as accommodating a range of other faiths such as Russian Orthodox (41%) Muslim (6.5% and much higher in the Caucasus) and Christian (4.1%). More new Orthodox churches have opened under Putin than at any other time since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

According to Ms Womack, Putin 'hates revolution and banks on a public desire for stability'.

He faces, according to Ms Womack, the

'... nightmare that his model of "managed democracy" may no longer work.'

Is there a single western leader to whom Ms Womack can point that loves revolution? Is there a single western community that does not desire stability? Yet, in Ms Womack’s view, these are somehow unique qualities that disadvantage Mr Putin. She claims that 'discontented youth' threaten Mr Putin’s ability to win another election.

Ms Womack clearly did not follow the results of the 2016 legislative election in Russia, nor is she cognisant of the results of multiple western-conducted opinion polls in Russia.

There are more than 100 registered political parties in Russia (more than in Australia for example). After the 2016 election, there were six parties in the Federal Parliament (Duma). Medvedev’s United Russia Party polled 54.2% of the vote (up from 49.3 in 2012) and holds 343 of the 450 available seats in the Duma. It was followed by the Communist Party (42 seats) LDPR (39 seats), A Just Russia (23 seats) and Rodina and Civic Platform (1 each). It is therefore at least as diverse as the Australian lower house.

Quite how "discontented youth" are a threat to Putin in the light of these results is unclear. Ms Womack cites two isolated instances of disaffected youths as somehow conveying a wider truth. According to opinion polls, Putin consistently scores in the 80%-plus approval category across all age groups. Lest anyone suggest the polls are as managed as Ms Womack claims Russian democracy is, the following are drawn only from polls conducted by American companies.

According to Pew Research, in a poll conducted in June 2015, Putin’s overall approval rating was 80%. When respondents were asked about his handling of relations with China, the U.S., Ukraine and the EU he scored 90.7%, 85%, 83% and 82% approval, respectively.

Washington Post poll conducted on behalf of one of the world’s leading "Russophobic" outlets in March 2016, had Putin rated as “trustworthy” by 73% of those polled with 65% wanting him re-elected, compared to 57% a year earlier.

Gallup, another American pollster, had Putin’s approval rating at 86.1% in the last week of February 2017. This was an increase on earlier polls, that Gallup called an “uptick" and indicated this was "despite economic worries”.

Inconveniently Putin is insanely popular in Russia. He inherited a total messhttps://t.co/thydDL8Ryn

— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) April 2, 2017

Those are the sorts of approval ratings that other European, North American, and Australasian leaders can only dream about. Ms Womack completely ignores the objective evidence, perhaps because it does not fit her (and the SMH’s) narrative of a “beleaguered” leader beset by a youth revolt.

A similar blindness, historical amnesia and geopolitical ignorance mark Ms Womack’s description of Russia’s policies vis-à-vis Ukraine.

Ms Womack says:

'Ukraine ... is the root of the Kremlin’s problems. Spooked by mass protests in Kiev in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and fomented war in Eastern Ukraine. Western sanctions allowed Kremlin propagandists to portray Russia as beleaguered ...'

If there is any single measure that is a litmus test of western media objectivity, it is surely the consistent misreporting of the events in the Ukraine and Crimea in 2014 and subsequently, including Russia’s policy responses.

Whether or not Russia was “spooked” by the events in 2014 is a moot point. They were certainly American-financed; a $5 billion organised coup overthrew the legitimate government of Ukraine and replaced it with a right wing cabal that draws inspiration and support from Nazi-oriented politicians. Ms Womack is in tune with other Western media in refusing to even acknowledge that the events in February 2014 in Kiev were a coup, even though it has been admitted as such by the Americans.

One of the many offensive policies that the Ukraine's Poroshenko regime instigated was the banning of the Russian language — even though that is the first language of a significant majority of Crimean and Eastern Ukraine citizens.

Crimea had been part of Russia since at least since Catherine the Great defeated the Ottomans in 1783. Australian troops also fought Russians in the Crimean War in the 1850s in an early attempt by the British to seize control of the important port of Sevastopol.

Crimea remained part of Russia until 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Presidium “gifted” Crimea to Ukraine without consulting either the Crimean or the Russian people.

The Crimeans (and the residents of the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine) were understandably upset at the February 2014 coup. A referendum was hastily organised and held on 16 March 2014. There was an 83% turnout and 96.7% voted in favour of applying to be readmitted to the Russian Federation.

The United Nations Charter recognises the right of people to self-determination — a principle the West was eager to embrace in the case of Kosovo but wishes to deny the Crimeans. None of this essential information is allowed to intrude upon Ms Womack’s narrative.

The argument that Russia “fomented war” in Ukraine is equally false. A majority of the people ofDonbass wanted to join the Russian Federation, with whom they share linguistic, cultural and family ties. Russia refused their wish, a fact that the Western press goes to considerable lengths to conceal.

@Hermius1 @mark_markat Its Ukraine bombing Donbass,media silent!

— KG (@YSPHUK) January 31, 2017

As for “fomenting war”, it is the Ukrainian Government that is bombing and firing artillery shells and rockets into civilian areas of Donbass. Of course Russia supplies political and material support to their cultural brethren. They would be entitled to under the concept of Responsibility to Protect(R2P), were it not for the fact that this is a concept the West reserves to itself for the right to intervene when its own geopolitical goals demand.

It was Russia, along with France and Germany, that negotiated the Minsk Accords with Ukraine that set out a specific pathway to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine that has become a civil war. It is the Ukrainian Government, however, who have refused to comply with the terms of the settlement to which they had agreed. That refusal has been criticised by France and Germany — another fact that the Australian media prefer not to publicise.

As to who is actually fomenting war, Ms Womack neglected to mention that U.S. Senators McCain and Graham travelled to Kiev after the 2016 U.S. presidential election and urged Ukraine to keep fighting, promising American support.

As to the sanctions making Russia “beleaguered”, again Ms Womack is apparently oblivious to a whole range of economic and geopolitical initiatives that Russia has taken in response to western sanctions, the main victims of which appear to be the people of Western Europe. One has only to mention the successful Russian intervention in Syria, the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the huge development projects with China as part of the "One Belt, One Road" developments to note that Ms Womack, along with most of the SMH’s readers (one suspects), is simply ignorant.

SMH does its readers a disservice by promoting what is little more than ill-informed anti-Russian propaganda. It is little wonder that its readership is shrinking ever closer to the point of threatening its very existence. They have only themselves to blame.

James O'Neill is a former academic and has practiced as a barrister since 1984. He writes on geopolitical issues, with a special emphasis on international law and human rights. He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au.

 

Read more:

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/putins-russia-the-facts-and-the-sydney-morning-herald,10170

merkel to meet putin on may 2...

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 2 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with both leaders expected to focus on the civil war in Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations between Berlin and Moscow. Analysts told Sputnik what to expect from the upcoming visit.

German political analyst Alexander Rahr, director of the German-Russian Forum well known for his insights into relations between Russia and the West, maintained that Ukraine would be the main topic on the agenda.

"Whether Merkel wants it or not, but as the Chancellor of Germany she serves as the guarantor of the success of the peace process in Eastern Ukraine or its failure. She is the one who launched this process. This was her idea. She brought French President Francois Hollande to Minsk where this process was kick started with the participation of Russia and Ukraine. If it fails, then Merkel will be to blame," he said.

Russian political analyst Alexei Mukhin reiterated that Ukraine and Syria would be the main topics during Merkel's visit, but added that a breakthrough on both issues is unlikely. "Germany is not interested in raising these issues. European policies in Syria and Ukraine have been extremely unsuccessful," he said.

 

Political analyst Peter Schulze of the University of Göttingen also expressed doubt that the summit could lead to any major bilateral decisions.

"The best-case scenario involves reduced tensions, but not a real thaw of these frozen relations. Merkel hardly has anything new to offer Moscow. If she adds a flexible and creative review of the sanctions regime to the agenda of her visit, this would necessarily lead to positive response from Russia. But I don't think this will happen," he said.

read more:

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201704301053150534-merkel-putin-sochi-m...

 

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