Sunday 19th of September 2021

codswallopy balderdash and balderdashy codswallop...


I have a major problem when a so-called “philosopher” starts with a crooked stream of consciousness such as this:

Tyrants like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un seem to win a lot of their geopolitical contests against democratic governments. How do they do it?

This pseudo-philosopher is Thomas R. Wells, Assistant professor of philosophy and business ethics, at the University of Tilburg. I say “pseudo” because from the onset of what he writes, there is no explanation as to where he comes from to the conclusion that Vladimir Putin is a “tyrant”. It is only later on the development of his story that we see slanted biased stupidity oozing from the back side of his “moral markets”:

Tyrants don't succeed because they are especially skilled at the game of geopolitics, but because they are baddies. Tyrants make bold moves because they are willing to subject their country - and the whole world - to more risk. They can do that because they care less than democrats, and hence worry less, about bringing harms to their people.

What a lot of balderdashy codswallop. Thomas must be an idiot with a tunnel vision: “I’m so right, you’re so wrong”. 

Take Vladimir Putin. Under his rule Russia once again dominates, bullies and even invades its neighbours, with seeming impunity. New techniques of "hybrid warfare" and cyber misinformation have put NATO on the defensive. In Syria he successfully defied the international moral consensus and showed off the reach and capabilities of Russia's revamped military by saving the regime of his fellow tyrant, Bashar al-Assad.

This is a lot of steaming codswallopy balderdash. When was the last time that Russia invaded its neighbours? Never? well not since Catherine the Great and when the Russians won World War II. If you do not specify which neighbour(s) nor when, this Thomas R. Wells' sentence is worth less than zero. Philosophically speaking he writes utter RUBBISH. If you mention Ossetia and Crimea, you are dancing on shifting quick sands. Ossetia was attacked by Georgia — possibly under instruction from the cloaca of Washington (CIA) and Crimea VOTED to separate from the Ukraine and become part of Russia AS IT WAS before 1956 and was part of the USSR till 1990 and relating to Russia till 2014, when Ukraine was overtaken by Nazis supported by the sewers of Washington… When was the last time that the USA has tried to destroy a legitimate government? Yesterday or today?. 

In mentioning “defying the international moral consensus” in regard to Syria is far away from a philosophical assessment of a situation in which the USA has been supporting the side of Sunni religious extremist terrorism versus a complex country in which other ethnic groups value the protection of a “strong” government. 

Why do I bother with such a clown like Thomas R. Wells? Because, with his many degrees and "working" at a University that therefore must be biased with its “teachings”, he is no more than a spruiker for a one-sided arse-hole. And this not just me talking. Here the genius from the University of Tilburg tells us as he approaches his “konklusion” if I may misspell this important word:

The problem here is that the realpolitik game of brinkmanship has become confused in the tyrant's mind with a delusion of invulnerability, or, worse, a sense of entitlement to respect and fear by other powers (see my "Asshole Theory of International Relations")

In the end, this junior genius with a degree in moral banana skin on the pavement tells us:

What makes this tendency to misjudge risk even more dangerous is that the most powerful country in the world has elected a would-be tyrant. Though constitutionally constrained at home, Trump is free to play at brinkmanship abroad unencumbered by competence or facts. And he has made it clear that "chicken" is the only negotiating strategy he believes in. The competitive interaction of so many incompetent but heavily armed states all using the threat of escalation as their main tool of international diplomacy is a recipe for very dangerous times.

Okay, now we're going somewhere: Trump is only a pseudo-tyrant. I don’t know why Trump is only a pseudo one, considering the criteria of clowning, set by this imbecilic assistant who dictated the topic: The Illusion of Genius: Toward a Clown Theory of Tyrants

Unless Thomas R. Wells was born yesterday or was an exceptionalist American, which he could be both considering the rubbish he writes, he would have realised that all the US President since the 1920s "have exhibited a brinkmanship abroad unencumbered by competence or facts". It's part of the profession. The only difference with Trump is that he doesn't gild the lily. I mean the previous tenants of the White House lied with elegance. It’s ingrained in the interpretation of the US constitution. Obama was a master of playing “chicken” as well. His Secretary of State Hillary was also a very devious operator. Ask Gaddafi for example, but you can’t. I know. Thus ask the people in Libya... If you have not understood the US deceit on Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction, then you are still living in a cave… I know it’s a “university”where the learning is all about the price of fish. If Thomas R. Wells represents the standard of this university, it’s not worth getting a degree from, especially a "social science degree". For a kick off, there is no such a thing as “social sciences” or "political sciences". Social understanding of relationships is an art form in flux. 

Just for your information, although in its present name Tilburg University, the word Catholic was dropped, the university is regarded as a Catholic university in the Netherlands. Now you know where all this “moral” bullshit is coming from…


Now a different word from someone who knows far better than this assistant professor pseudo:

This open letter, from iconic Russian actor Vasily Livanov MBE, was first sent to The Guardian. They declined to publish it, we did not.

As with many of my compatriots, there are many things about Britain and the British people that I admire. As someone whose whole life has been linked with literature, cinema and theatre, I have the greatest appreciation for English literature and the arts, for its writers and playwrights, actors and directors. As someone who had the good fortune to have played the iconic Englishman Sherlock Holmes in a very successful Soviet film series, I was honoured to have been awarded an MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I am grateful for a chance to have been part of the mutually enriching cultural kinship and synergy of our two countries. As someone who has lived a long life, I vividly remember the years of WWII when the Soviet Union and Britain were staunch and proud allies in the fight against Nazism.

Many Russians feel an affinity with many things English – from pubs and gardens to Scotch whisky and Welsh singing and luscious valleys. Ascot races, Chelsea flower shows, London museums and Stonehenge – many will have been or at least seen them on TV. Perhaps surprisingly, many entertain a lively interest in the British monarchy and the Royal family, Russian television and papers carry stories about the Queen and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Flattering stereotypes of Britain still abide. But more and more this idyllic picture is being marred by the political developments of recent years.

Today, as many of my compatriots, I am sad to see the state to which the relationship between our two countries has been reduced. While conflict situations can seldom be blamed on one party alone, I am convinced that the current deplorable and deepening crisis is primarily of London’s making.

Please do not make the mistake of writing this view off as a casualty of devious Kremlin propaganda. On the contrary, the view I hold and share with the vast majority of Russians has been shaped and honed, paradoxically, by incessant anti-Russian propaganda emanating from London’s corridors of power and the media that seems to have lost all capacity for independent reasoning, at least for anything Russian. Many in Britain may be surprised that Russian audiences are kept well informed of the international media coverage, certainly insofar as it concerns their country.

I do not intend to dwell on the long list of geostrategic and political differences between Moscow and London. Surely, each of side has its own interests and reasons for acting the way it does. Understanding these reasons is the job of respective governments and their foreign policy thinktanks. Manifestly refusing to understand those reasons is an abject failure of government. And that, I am sad to say, is exactly what I am seeing at the top of the British government and in much of the British press.

What we have been witnessing is London’s – and, more generally, Western – consistent refusal to treat post-Soviet Russia as an equal partner in international affairs. The more hawkish Western capitals – notably, London – have been trying to condemn Russia to be the defeated party in the Cold War, and to behave like one. Mind you, this is a view taken by most Russians who are also increasingly convinced that the West’s attacks are not directed at Putin or the Kremlin, but at their country as such, at the people and state of Russia.

Many will point to Crimea as proof of Russia’s aggressiveness and threat to world peace. But they should consider that Crimea, rather than being the cause, is a consequence of the total collapse of East-West dialogue in which London has played a significant role and often been the cheerleader. More importantly, it is, in the final count, down to the people of Crimea to decide where they want to be, certainly not to London or Washington.

The accusations London has been flinging at Russia’s door fly in the face of every complimentary stereotype that Russians have of Britain and its allegedly gentlemanly culture. People at the top of the British government have been talking down to Russians as some kind of ‘lesser people’ in a language that invokes the less flattering pages of the not so distant British imperial history.

PM Theresa May accusing Russia in the Skripals poisoning without any serious evidence was downright shameless. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson likening Russia’s upcoming World Cup to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics was the ultimate insult – not only to Russia, but to Britain itself and the rest of the anti-Hitler coalition. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson telling Russia to ‘shut up and go away’- does he even realise whom he is trying to bully? You can criticise Moscow all you want but it has never stooped to this level in talking to sovereign nations, big or small. Is an acute crisis in British education the reason for this excuse for statesmanship? What sort of policy do they think they are pursuing, what kind of world they are shaping? I feel genuinely sorry for Her Majesty the Queen that she has to call this government her own.

The current explosion of Russophobia and anti-Russian hysteria in Britain has no precedent in living memory. Not even the Cold War saw such blatant disregard for the norms and conventions of inter-state diplomacy. Anyone who calls for a meaningful engagement with Russia is branded a dangerous radical or traitor. People who even agree to talk to the Russian media are ostracised and side-lined. Anyone who simply calls for restraint or caution is vilified as a Putin puppet. Is there a name for it already? Un-British activities? A curious yet deeply troubling throwback to the McCarthy era in modern-day enlightened Britain. 

It’s hard to escape the timing of this latest chapter in London’s lengthy anti-Russian saga with a crucial stage of the North Stream 2 project, the football World Cup and of course the recent presidential election in Russia. Which only goes to show that the instigators are quite ignorant of what the Russian people are like. Any hostile moves from the outside will unite us, we come together and find a response. They wouldn’t have attempted it if they knew the first thing about what makes Russia tick. They have to realise that in their poisonous campaign they are engaging not just the Kremlin or Putin, they are taking on the whole of the Russian people, including its political class and business elite.

We have no beef with the people of Britain. From what we can glimpse, more and more of them are sceptical of the anti-Russian propaganda spewed by the hawks in government and much of the media. The current cold winds will die down and our two countries will revert to a civilised and respectful relationship which has so much to offer. As a proud recipient of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire I aspire to wise and dignified British statesmanship that will make it possible.

– Vasily Livanov

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privilege class on the one per cent airline...


Greenfield introduces us to characters all motivated by the accumulation of wealth. “No matter how much people had, they still wanted more,” Greenfield says of her subjects. We meet Florian Homm, a hedge fund manager living in self-imposed exile in Germany to avoid extradition to the US where he has been sentenced to 225 years in jail. Smoking cigars and dripping in gold, Homm, who became known as “the antichrist of finance” for ripping off his investors for hundreds of millions of dollars, tells Greenfield that morality changed in the 80s. “The value system changed completely. It wasn’t about who you are, but about what you are worth… Morals are completely non-productive in that value system.”


Greenfield says the true absurdity of extreme wealth hit her when she was documenting the lives of the Siegel family, who were attempting to build the biggest private home in America, for her film The Queen of Versailles. When “timeshare king” David Siegel loses billions in the 2008 financial crisis, the family are forced to travel by commercial jet and one of the children turns and asks, “Mommy, what are all these people doing on our plane?” Greenfield met the Siegels after striking up a friendship with Donatella Versace, whom she met via her work documenting the lives of rich kids in LA. She went back to Crossroads, the $38,000-a-year private school in Santa Monica she’d attended alongside Hollywood’s rich and famous offspring. Greenfield says her position as an “insider and outsider” – she went to the school herself, but her parents (both academics) couldn’t afford to kit her out with the designer bling the other kids had – gave her “exceptional access to the world of the wealthy in LA”.


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the world cup...

Few issues generate a bipartisan response in Washington. President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin is one.

Democrats who once pressed for détente with the Soviet Union act as if Trump will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Neoconservatives and other Republican hawks are equally horrified, having pressed for something close to war with Moscow since the latter’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Both sides act as if the Soviet Union has been reborn and Cold War has restarted.

Russia’s critics present a long bill of requirements to be met before they would relax sanctions or otherwise improve relations. Putin could save time by agreeing to be an American vassal.

Topping everyone’s list is Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was outrageous. Protecting the integrity of our democratic system is a vital interest, even if the American people sometimes treat candidates with contempt. Before joining the administration National Security Adviser John Bolton even called Russian meddling “a casus belli, a true act of war.”

Yet Washington has promiscuously meddled in other nations’ elections. Carnegie Mellon’s Dov H. Levin figured that between 1946 and 2000 the U.S. government interfered with 81 foreign contests, including the 1996 Russian poll. Retired U.S. intelligence officers freely admit that Washington has routinely sought to influence other nations’ elections.

Yes, of course, Americans are the good guys and favor politicians and parties that the other peoples would vote for if only they better understood their own interests—as we naturally do. Unfortunately, foreign governments don’t see Uncle Sam as a Vestal Virgin acting on behalf of mankind. Indeed, Washington typically promotes outcomes more advantageous to, well, Washington. Perhaps Trump and Putin could make a bilateral commitment to stay out of other nations’ elections.

Another reason to shun Russia, argued Senator Rob Portman, is because “Russia still occupies Crimea and continues to fuel a violent conflict in eastern Ukraine.” Moscow annexed Crimea after a U.S.-backed street putsch ousted the elected but highly corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The territory historically was Russian, turned over to Ukraine most likely as part of a political bargain in the power struggle following Joseph Stalin’s death. A majority of Crimeans probably wanted to return to Russia. However, the annexation was lawless.

Rather like America’s dismemberment of Serbia, detaching Kosovo after mighty NATO entered the final civil war growing out of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Naturally, the U.S. again had right on its side—it always does!—which obviously negated any obligations created by international law. Ever-virtuous Washington even ignored the post-victory ethnic cleansing by Albanian Kosovars

Still, this makes Washington’s complaints about Russia seem just a bit hypocritical: do as we say, not as we do. In August 2008 John McCain expressed outrage over Russia’s war with Georgia, exclaiming: “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.” Apparently he forgot that five years before the U.S. invaded Iraq, with McCain’s passionate support. Here, too, the two presidents could agree to mutual forbearance.

Worse is the conflict in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, between the Ukrainian army and separatists backed by Russia. Casualty estimates vary widely, but are in the thousands. Moscow successfully weakened Kiev and prevented its accession to NATO. However, that offers neither legal nor moral justification for underwriting armed revolt.

Alas, the U.S. again comes to Russia with unclean hands. Washington is supporting the brutal war by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates against Yemen. Area specialists agree that the conflict started as just another violent episode in a country which has suffered civil strife and war for decades. The Houthis, a tribal/ethnic/religious militia, joined with their long-time enemy, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to oust his successor, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi attacked to reinstall a pliable regime and win economic control. The U.S. joined the aggressors. At least Russia could claim national security was at stake, since it feared Ukraine might join NATO.

The “coalition” attack turned the Yemeni conflict into a sectarian fight, forced the Houthis to seek Iranian aid, and allowed Tehran to bleed its Gulf rivals at little cost. Human rights groups agree that the vast majority of civilian deaths and bulk of destruction have been caused by Saudi and Emirati bombing, with Washington’s direct assistance. The humanitarian crisis includes a massive cholera epidemic. The security consequences include empowering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Perhaps the U.S. and Russian governments could commit to jointly forgo supporting war for frivolous causes.

Human carnage and physical destruction are widespread in Syria. It will take years to rebuild homes and communities; the hundreds of thousands of dead can never be replaced. Yet Moscow has gone all out to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. The Heritage Foundation’s Luke Coffey and Alexis Mrachek demand that Moscow end its support for Assad “and demonstrate a genuine willingness to work with the international community to bring a political end to the Syrian civil war.” The American Enterprise Institute’s Leon Aron urged “a true Russian withdrawal from Syria, specifically ceding control of the Hmeymim airbase and dismantling recent expansions to the Tartus naval facility.”

But the U.S. is in no position to complain. Washington’s intervention has been disastrous, first discouraging a negotiated settlement, then promoting largely non-existent moderate insurgents, backing radicals, including the al-Qaeda affiliate (remember 9/11!?) against Assad, simultaneously allying with Kurds and Turks, and taking over the fight against the Islamic State even though virtually everyone in the Mideast had reason to oppose the group.

At least Russia, invited by the recognized government, had a reason to be there. Moscow’s alliance with Syria dates back to the Cold War and poses no threat to America, which is allied with Israel, the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. Washington also possesses military facilities in Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. For most Middle Eastern countries Moscow is primarily a bargaining chip to extort more benefits from America. Trump could propose that both countries withdraw from Syria.

Coffey and Mracek also express outrage that Moscow “has weaponized its natural gas exports to Europe, turning off the tap when countries dare go against its wishes.” Russia’s customers should not fear coercion via cut-off. Of course, the U.S. never uses its economic power for political ends. Other than to routinely impose economic sanctions on a variety of nations on its naughty list. And to penalize not only American firms, but businesses from every other nation.

Indeed, the Trump administration is insisting that every company in every country stop doing business with Iran. The U.S. government will bar violators from the U.S. market or impose ruinous fines on them. The Trump administration plans to sanction even its European allies, those most vulnerable to Russian energy politics. Which suggests a modus vivendi that America’s friends likely would applaud: both Washington and Moscow could promise not to take advantage of other nations’ economic vulnerabilities for political ends.

Cyberwar is a variant of economic conflict. Heritage’s Mracek cited “the calamitous cyberattack, NotPetya,” as “part of Russia’s effort to destabilize Ukraine even further than in the past.” Yes, a criminal act. Of course, much the same could be said of Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran’s nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?

Virtually everyone challenges Russia on human rights. Moscow falls far short, with Putin’s control of the media, manipulation of the electoral process, and violence against those perceived as regime enemies. In this regard, at least, America is far better.

But many U.S. allies similarly fail this test. For instance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has created an authoritarian state retaining merely the forms of democracy. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has constructed a tyranny more brutal than that of Hosni Mubarak. Saudi Arabia’s monarchy allows neither religious nor political freedom, and has grown more repressive under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It is not just Trump who remains largely silent about such assaults on people’s basic liberties. So do many of the president’s critics, who express horror that he would deal with such a man as Putin.

Moscow will not be an easy partner for the U.S. Explaining that “nobody wanted to listen to us” before he took over, in March Putin declared: “You hear us now!” Compromise is inevitable, but requires respect for both nations’ interests. A starting point could be returning the two nations’ embassies to full strength and addressing arms control, such as the faltering Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and soon-expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. A larger understanding based on NATO ending alliance expansion in return for Russia withdrawing from the conflict in the Donbas would be worth pursuing.

Neither the U.S. nor the Russian Federation can afford to allow their relations to deteriorate into another Cold War. Russia is too important on too many issues, including acting as a counterweight to China, the most serious geopolitical challenge to the U.S. Hopefully the upcoming summit will begin the difficult process of rebuilding a working relationship between Washington and Moscow.               


Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.


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time for peace...


The upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is an overdue opportunity for the American president’s next bold peace initiative. It is time for the U.S. to stop its wasteful wars, and Russia can be a constructive partner to this end.

The mainstream press on both sides of the Atlantic will howl against any agreement between Trump and Putin—no matter what’s in it. So why not take steps that the American public will instinctively understand and that will provide the support for Trump to end America’s failed interventions? Besides what are his opponents going to do? Vilify him for seeking peace and starting the process of healing the many wounds of the wars? The American people are not fooled by false claims that Trump is soft on terrorism; they are aware that U.S. military interventions oftentimes can—and do—fuel terrorism.

President Trump should propose a drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan in exchange for a drawdown of Russian troops in Syria (along with a pledge that America has no interest in reengaging in the Syrian Civil War). This would be consistent with Trump’s oft-stated observation that America’s wars (declared and undeclared) in the Middle East have been a waste.

Trump need not “recognize” the Russian annexation of Crimea but he should assert that a resolution to the situation on the ground in Ukraine is a European matter—to be settled by bilateral negotiations between Russia and Europe.


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bargaining chips...

Amid the flurry of visits there is some speculation in the media that a grand deal between the US and Russia, which would involve a rebalancing of power in the Middle East, may come out from the Helsinki talks and that regional players are making an 11th-hour bid to ensure that their interests would be taken into consideration.

Such a scenario is possible, but highly unlikely, because it would be inconsistent with Russia’s current policies in the Middle East, Grigory Lukyanov, a Middle East analyst and senior lecturer at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, told RT.

“There are concerns in Damascus and Tehran that the course which Russia had in foreign policy over the past years, may take a shift similarly to how it happened in the past, when in pursuit of some global agreement with the US, Russia would sacrifice its Middle Eastern achievements and interests that it perceived secondary,” he said.

The sentiment is particularly strong in some Iranian political circles, which view Moscow as unreliable and its interests inconsistent with those of Tehran, he said. Such concerns don’t seem to be backed by facts and are inconsistent with Russia’s own interests in the region.


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seeing stars and stripes in nazi ukraine...


The US Marines’ 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment trained with Ukrainian marines in Exercise Sea Breeze war games about 100 miles from the Crimean Peninsula on Thursday.

The drills were meant to increase combat effectiveness and "demonstrate resolve" among the 17 allied and partnered nations participating in the exercise, which has now happened 18 times over the years.


Tensions have increased in the region since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join the Russian Federation in the face of a ban on speaking Russian in Ukraine. Many Western governments have claimed the referendum was carried out fraudulently and have refused to respect its results.

Moscow warned that the war games in the Black Sea showed the US and the other participating nations were "playing with fire," according to Stars and Stripes.


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The war futbol training continues despite the FIFA world cup... Read from top.

torched cars in sweden... blame putin...



More than 1,800 cars have been set on fire in Sweden since January and a record was reached this week as more than 100 were torched over several hours. After every incident, the same pantomime plays out, as if for the first time.

In this spectacle every actor, from righteous government politicians to confused police officers to concerned academics has their own part, played always with a straight face. While the latest incident provides a good case study, these steps can be transposed from Sweden to almost any Western European country, from a car burning to a mass riot to a gang rape.

Here is how the drill goes.

Bombastic outrage from ruling centrist politicians

The more routine something becomes, the more indignant the language deployed by the government to convince the people it still cares.



A representative locally-written New York Times article claims that the “phenomenon has stymied the police and criminologists” and later that it has “left police officers scratching their heads as they struggle to find the root cause of the fires.

Like many others, the article believes that the torchings happen in high-crime areas with a significant proportion of immigrants is a coincidental irrelevance, even if it crops up again and again, and is inevitably the first comment below articles on the subject (albeit not in Swedish media, which doesn’t tend to allow comment sections).

Wait, wait, we’ve solved it, it’s the Russians

From the same NYT article. 

“Residents cite disparate theories to explain the attacks, including blaming them on Russians trying to foment unrest before the election.”

Not only is it interesting that an article that has studiously avoided conclusions might suddenly get so specific, but some might find it hard to believe that among the “disparate theories” propounded by locals, sneaky Russian arsonists came out top. Still, as always, a reassuring use of anonymous and non-specific sources from that publication.


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