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Posted in: Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe See in context

The legislative equivalent of flag waving.

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Posted in: Do you think it is OK for media organizations to support candidates in elections or should they remain neutral? See in context

Believing that present day Mass Media of any kind is ever politically neutral is indulging in fantasy. However, there is really no inherent problem with partisan news media enterprises supporting certain political views or political candidates either in full throated voice or by more subtle rhetorical or editorial measures. The principle failing of modern mass media today, as a resource for understanding national or international events, lies in their mischievous attempts to beguile audiences into false beliefs of neutrality (balanced reporting) while delivering primarily discrete opinions in place of facts. Modern mass media journalism (post the Ted Turner 24-hour news revolution in America) has become merely a corporate popularity contest pushing out a steady, predictable and monotonous message essentially declaring that someone in power (a "leader") has failed in their public mandate with dire consequences for all. That is not news reporting, it is just low-brow blame-game entertainment and political partisanship cloaked in current events. The mantra 'fair and balanced' and the reporting style it symbolizes in broadcasting and print is entirely intended only to guide (capture) public opinion rather than to inform it in support of a properly functioning democracy. Editorial Boards such as they still exist any more in Mass Media are actually the polar opposite of neutral objective fact checkers and syntax monitors. Rather, they are politicized war rooms constantly strategizing on how to best prosecute (promote) their values (message, influence) to what they see as their willfully mindless but happily seduced (easily entertained) audiences. This applies equally to the collective international newswire services who hawk their sanitized word count pieces upstream to major media retailers in the acceptable predigested politically correct packaged formats which are currently in-line with their buyer's Editorial Standards" (content requirements) for "news" reporting on that particular subject.

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Posted in: Can Obama wage war without consent of Congress? See in context

This 3rd Iraq war (now plus Syria) is currently an off-budget executive action. It is funded entirely with black budget funds (with no expenditure reporting) through U.S. intelligence commands and NATO. The U.S. Congress needs to own-up to the American public soon about (rational) national funding decisions. So far their tepid media cameo protests at being end-run by the President just demonstrate what a bunch of baa baa lobby sheeple they really are. Sticker price shock and awe should happen now not later. This mission will continue active all during and long after the next U.S. Presidential elections in 2016. The 1st and 2nd wars were ostensibly self-financing by potentially securing long-term control over access to oil resources. No such tenable prospects this time. The costs of The 3rd will be significant (perhaps greater all told than the first two combined) and the political social nation building results if any very difficult to confirm or measure. No wonder the push for expanding NATO (and the funding for it) has gone into hyper-drive. US SECTREAS Jack Lew and staff will be doing lots of late night fancy pencil work for some time.

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Posted in: Russia faces new U.S., EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis See in context

gelendestrasse wrote ||No cohesive culture my hind end. You've just proven your ignorance||

Many persons around the world posses a sense of Ukrainian identity; and a sense of being connected to Ukrainian cultural continuity and history. It is a particularly strong sentiment among those who for various reasons no longer reside in what are the modern day Ukrainian regions. For instance, there are a good number of Ukrainians presently living and working and raising families in the Russian Far East. They are proud to be from Ukraine and proud to be Ukrainian and share that fact with others. However there is no single common Ukrainian heritage which binds all people from various Ukrainian regions into a single inseparable and indivisible group who mutually support all other Ukrainians as countrymen. Saying so is naive. There are separate population groups sharing a common Ukrainian group identity (like the Catholic Ukrainian immigrant community in Rochester NY) but a very different social identity from other population groups in other parts of the region. Saying Ukrainians have a single cohesive social identity is like saying all Yugoslavians once shared a single cohesive social identity. Ask a Slovenian from Ljubljana today about identifying socially with Croatians or Serbians who were once fellow nationals under the single country ruled by Josip Broz Tito. If there were a single cohesive Ukrainian national identity the present crisis would not have erupted and no one would have died in the Donbass.

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Posted in: Russia faces new U.S., EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis See in context

@hamein (In re. Officer Eston Kohver):

It seems Estonian Officer Eston Kohver was taken captive (or merely arrested) at an unmarked location on the Luhamaa rural border (between Russia and Estonia) at a site where there are no paved roads or lighting. Estonia says he was there officially policing the black market. It is important to understand that Luhamma is a notorious smuggling zone and organized crime cesspool where customs agent officials on both sides thrive on bribes. It is not a safe place and there are no good guys just hanging about talking over the weather and their marital problems. The Luhamaa border is not Tallin. Quite obviously Kohver was in Luhamaa to encounter someone for a clandestine meeting. Someone who was unwilling or unable to enter Estonia legitimately. That means Kohver went there to meet with a Russian whom he was intrigued with in some way. Most probably that Russian person was claiming to have obtained information worth big money. Dialing the NATO hotline is an egregious overreaction to this kind of matter. There is no call to scramble fighter jets. This is about the underworld of goods smuggling. Do we really need to hear speeches about this from world leaders? Allowing this kind of individual incident to invoke calls for retaliatory steps by NATO shows how far off kilter the wire service news media has veered.

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Posted in: British party leaders head to Scotland as vote tightens See in context

Westminster and the Tory media laundry machine are now in a heated frenzy to get the vote closer to 50/50 in the hopes of mounting a legal recount campaign. Political pollsters know that most undecideds are chronic undecideds who select their choice for almost anything on a last minute impulse (like buying a packet of gum at the checkout). Serious efforts towards promoting NO on a rational basis have ceased. Now the battle is for the "I went against YES because I didn't know how to vote". It won't matter. YES will prevail with a margin significantly over 5%.

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Posted in: Russia faces new U.S., EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis See in context

Ukraine acceded to UN membership in 1945 with the support of Russia. It was by no means a sovereign independent nation at that time and would never have been admitted without Russian (Soviet) support. In fact Ukrainian (de jure) sovereignty only began in 1991. It does not have ancient primordial borders or even a cohesive social identity. It is self-divided demographically by a western population which has a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church majority and an eastern population of Russia Orthodox majority and minority groups. The present cabinet of Poroshenko does not include any representatives from Eastern regions (at all). It fact Kiev regards those regions as essentially parts of a seperate society and visa versa. NATO is representing that Ukraine is a mature and cohesive western-like state (or a ancient territory like the three Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia). It is very different from either of these forms of national union. Now it is just a broken pawn which has no more moves to play. Giving it weapons and money in cannot repay (from the World Bank and IMF) and military advise won't help it to develop economically or keep ordinary people from freezing this winter. It will cause Russia to stop natural gas deliveries reaching Poland and Germany through its territory.

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Posted in: Russia faces new U.S., EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis See in context

Kabukilover wrote: ||This is insane. Putin has been instrumental in brokering peace. Now Kiev is willing to make concessions to East Ukraine. What does the EU want at this point? War?||

Yes. The U.S. / U.K. / NATO (and a divided EU coalition) are pushing for a new war (cold war). They want to keep the pressure on to build new multibillion dollar NATO bases in Poland and Romania. Protecting Ukraine's territorial sovereignty is just a pretext for this cold-warist agenda under the NATO banner. Any practical process made now towards ending the domestic hostilities inside Ukraine will come too late to reverse the course. U.S. and U.K. politicians are already convinced that more (international) military spending is the best answer to their declining national welfare and global influence. They are willing to gamble on sustaining another cold war and financing spending for it until a more positive economic shift occurs. It is a desperate and stupid choice.

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Posted in: EU must keep up pressure on Russia over Ukraine, Britain says See in context

"Appeasement" is a term grossly overused by folding chair dilettantes of global conflicts who like to project the Chamberlainian reminiscent ring to that word. The consequences of a continued and deepening involvement in this issue by the U.S. / U.K. / NATO could very well mean a permanent return of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) along the entire European border with Russia (with the West to blame; despite the significant progress recently on denuclearization). It has already led to an economic collapse in all Ukrainian regions which will likely persist for more than a generation. If Russia moves on to initiating an international no-fly-zone (over the Siberia and Polar zones) as a counter-sanctions measure, it will trigger a schism in economic relations on the continent which would profoundly affect quality of life in Europe for decades. Concurrently Russia, to secure its own potential, will be left with no better option than to build new modernized energy delivery pipelines into the PRC (with Chinese financing) and leave both eastern and western Europe to source hydrocarbons wherever they can bought in the fractured Middle East including Iran. The newswire press in this regard is uniformly and benightedly leading public opinion to support an entirely avoidable crisis. By all means appeasement is exactly what this situation calls for and soon. Who honestly opposes appeasement; and who has their ear?

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Posted in: British party leaders head to Scotland as vote tightens See in context

Cleo writes: ||All other aspects of the debate aside, this reminds me of the surly teenager who claims his parents don't understand him: he didn't ask to be born, he demands his independence, and from now on he'll have his meals served in his room. And of course he still expects them to come up with his pocket money.||

Interesting simplification. Myself I'm more mindful of parental figures fretting over the loss of an elder daughter who has suddenly eloped with someone they did not choose for her; and this just when they had lately realized she might actually have been secretly seeking a better life than they had imagined for her for some time. Reconciliations post separation inevitable.

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Posted in: UK offers Scotland more autonomy ahead of vote See in context

Elizabeth Heath wrote: ||Scotland join the Euro? Not for a long time, they don't even have a central bank.||

Agreed. However, recognize that the essential purpose of a central bank is to manage national debt (repayment of loans made to government). So, at present, there is no need for a Central Bank of Scotland.

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Posted in: UK offers Scotland more autonomy ahead of vote See in context

wtfjapan wrote: ||an independent Scotland would not be able to use the British pound||

To the contrary. The new government of Scotland will be diplomatically solicited to join (retain) a currency union with G.B. Whether it will accept or not and under what terms remains an open question. Ireland's experience with the EURO will augur against but the cases are very very different. Ultimately the Pound Sterling must be (ought to be) retained as a united currency in the interests of both the London City financial institutions and the energy business interests who will be immediately pushing more FDI into independent Scotland. For that reason the Tory party will backtrack once the hand is played, and push Currency Union as their idea. Other ideas (potentials) would require too much bottom up support to be politically realistic for the time being.

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Posted in: UK offers Scotland more autonomy ahead of vote See in context

Cameroon's ruddy faced spectacle at the NATO gathering in Wales has won the vote for Yes (peeling away a super majority of the former undecideds who now solidly favor Yes). Scots want no hand in UK meddling with fractured Ukrainian politics; or another long drawn out adventure in Iraq.Syria.Jordan of the kind Tony Blair conned them into; or more distorted BBC media programs supporting Tory initiatives. This calculated gesture of offering to loosen the grip Westminster holds on the national purse just a fortnight before the vote was never mentioned by Darling in the debates while he pounded away on demanding to hear about a Plan B. Watch now how keeping Scotland in a Currency Union suddenly becomes top of the Westminster agenda and gets reborn and rebranded as a Tory plan (exposing the Plan B rhetorical gambit as a deliberate deception). Goodnight Mr. Darling. Goodmorning Scotland.

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Posted in: NATO leaders accuse Russia, aid Ukraine See in context

One certain outcome from this summit will be more pressure on the EU member nations to ratchet up existing sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile Turkey and Israel both outside the EU block are expanding their trade relations with Russia in agricultural goods and electronics and other sectors at a break-neck pace. While this story does not get play in the newswire fed media it is exactly the kind of real political economics which will ultimately doom sanctions on Russia to fail (in fact to backfire). Ironically both Turkey and Israel support the sanctions on Russia with lip service while they enjoy the benefits economically (so long as their EU competitors are (temporarily) shut out).

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Posted in: NATO leaders accuse Russia, aid Ukraine See in context

Spending by NATO members as a percentage of GDP in 2013: ||U.S. 4.4%; U.K. 2.4%; France 1.9%; Norway 1.4%; Germany 1.3% Netherlands 1.3%; Italy 1.2% CzechR 1.1%; Canada 1.0% (financial contributions by all other NATO members are negligible)||. Continued bankrolling of NATO is a significant national budgetary issue for the U.S. and the U.K. (who are also the primary sellers of weapons systems to NATO). Take a look at the captioned picture with Obama and Cameroon bookended by Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko on the left and the young Italian Prime minster Matteo Renzi on the right. Basically Obama and Cameroon want Renzi to pony up more Italian GDP so that Poroshenko can keep his job. You easily discern what Renzi thinks about that idea. Even Kerry (in the background of the picture) recognizes that it is already a lost cause. Hollande and Merkel are just taking a Welsh holiday.

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Posted in: South Africa refuses Dalai Lama visa for Nobel summit See in context

Desmond Tutu will refuse to attend if his friend the Dalai Lama cannot. Once that happens others will also express their regrets and the "Summit" will be cancelled. De Klerk will have to take the podium alone backed by a super human sized poster of a smiling Mandela. His speech will be mocked. Soon afterwards the Nobel selection committee will announce a special prize for the Chinese dissident artist AI WEI who will decline but make some kind of symbolic gesture of solidarity like painting his bicycle saffron and crimson. He cannot ride the bicycle since he is still under house arrest.

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Posted in: Ukraine agrees to permanent ceasefire in east with Russia See in context

gelendestrasse wrote: ||So Russia has nothing to do with having troops in Ukraine but they can declare a cease fire? How does that work again? Who do these "rebels" report to?||

This is called buying in to the narrative. In point of fact they (civilian separatists not troops) don't report to anyone which is one reason why this situation is such an imbroglio. It confuses some folks to think that any people are actually capable of spontaneous self-actuated opposition to authority. Nevertheless what occurred in Ukraine since the Euro Maiden protests is a case in point. One side wants to cast off the old Russian ties and form a new national identity as a nuovo euro society. Another side wants to maintain a national heritage which includes economic relations with the Russian command control economy (from which they benefit directly and personally). In between are the ideologues who think they should decide everything for everyone. The AFP only writes the ideological byline which is why their reporting lacks clear facts about the situation on the ground. Such facts simply are not germane to their general point of view unless they can be used provocatively.

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Posted in: Ukraine agrees to permanent ceasefire in east with Russia See in context

From start to finish this imbroglio has been all about a big time media spin channeling the NATO narrative. Why an internal conflict (civil war) between pro Russian (Ukrainian Cossack) separatists and the former director of a chocolate candy making empire (Prime Minister Poroshenko) needed to be pumped up into a sequel to the cold war is a raw indictment of the lack of character in corporate media on the world stage today.

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Posted in: Video purports to show beheading of second U.S. journalist See in context

ISIS videos always show captives dressed in GITMO orange enemy-combatant boiler suits. GITMO orange is a Bush color which ISIS uses as symbolic way of conveying their message of a ruthless revenge for the U.S. led War On Terror which Bush misguidedly initiated in response to 9/11. No enemy combatants in Guantanamo; no special rendition by CIA; no targeted assassinations of politicians, political activists and scientists by the U.S. and Israel; no covert regime change policies in Iran, Iraq, Egypt; no NATO command air raids on Libya obliterating thousands of civilians just to put down one aging man (Muammar Gaddafi); no international complacency on questions of fast tracking Palestinian autonomy = No regional threat by ISIS. Blaming extremists and blaming Islam and blaming Obama just shows a willful denial and ignorance of historical causation and responsibility.

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Posted in: Russia declares NATO a major threat See in context

Eventually Ukraine will self-partition into a relatively tiny south eastern (semi) autonomous region supported by cooperative economic and social exchanges with Russia, and an expansive north western agricultural basket zone region continually begging (braying) for support from the EU IMF US NATO. Putin is now set on embarrassing nouveau euro mistress Kiev for at least a decade after which the west will realize (but not admit) that economic sanctions were unenforceable, unsustainable, ineffective and ultimately unaffordable. Meanwhile the EURO currency is going to take a big pounding against the DOLLAR, further compounding the energy crisis for the entire EU Community by raising costs for its vital natural gas imports by half. Running factories with wind turbines is going to be a big drag on German manufacturing and that will have devastating knock on consequences for the rest of the EURO nation complex and also for Poland. This entire morass could have been avoided by better western diplomacy sans CIA and NATO meddling by neo-cold-warists. What was gained: Just an enlargement of NATO by 4000 more troops who will never see action but will cost billion(s) and billion(s) in force maintenance and more pieces of shiny new equipment to polish. Oops.

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Posted in: Germany to send anti-tank weapons, rifles to Iraqi Kurds See in context

|Germanys decision follows similar moves by several other countries, including the U.S., Italy, France and Britain.|

Factually inverted. The Italian press among others in EU (ex UK) make it clear that the decision by Merkel to arm the Kurds set the precedent which others are now rushing to follow). It is funny how this narrative has suddenly flip-flopped in all the newswires which feed U.S. media. While other EU nations focused inwardly on concerns over NATO / Turkey relations being agitated by any arming of Kurds directly, Merkel made it clear that such thinking was just a red-herring issue blocking responsible action (fiddling while the land burns). Turkey depends on cash sent back home from Turkish citizens employed in Germany. Therefore Erdogan is in no position to call Merkel bad names for supporting the Kurds (which he calls terrorists) while there are no jobs for his own people in their own country.

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Posted in: EU inches toward new sanctions on Russia See in context

Kazuaki wrote: ||I won't put it past the West to play games at this junction||

The CIA has been playing dirty games in Ukraine since the end of WWII. As one agency analyst commented in a memo written in the midst of CWONE (cold war one) |(So long as) some form of nationalist feeling continues to exist [in the Ukraine] and, there is an obligation to support it as a cold war weapon.| All this media chatter about Putin this and Putin that is just old CIA hat. No one knows that better than German Prime Minister Angela Merkel a fluent (native level) Russian speaker (raised in East Germany) for whom Polish|German| Ukrainian|USSR post war history is intimately interwoven with her own life and family experience. Look closely at the image of Merkel in the captioned photo with Poroshenko where he tries to avoid even listening to her while she gestures at him as if to say - 'are you seriously this deficient in knowledge of your own national history' Mr. President. Merkel is a multilingual science Ph.D. (Chemistry/Physics) and the senior most political leader of EUs largest economy while Poroshenko is former director of a chocolate factory, a corrupt banker who skimmed millions off various loans to various state owned businesses, and is now just a western stooge boy.

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Posted in: IS executes scores of Syrian troops; Obama admits he has no strategy See in context

The White House and the Pentagon are finally (barely and reluctantly) recognizing that an effective containment strategy is essential and must involve cooperative moves by all political leaders along the conflict periphery (including Syria/Assad). One major problem they face in those long belated talks is that the general direction of ISIS momentum is already pushing westward. Asking the periphery nations (including Syria/Assad) right now to act for what they will see as a proposal motivated primarily by U.S. support for the interests of Israel could not come at a worse time (following so soon on the heels of events in Gaza). What should happen in the foreground (while that critical proposition brews) is that the U.S. should set in motion plans to help secure Jordan, which holds the largest of the Palestinian refugee populations. If ISIS implants itself inside the Hashemite Kingdom along the southern banks of the River Jordan via Syria there will be eventual conflagration. King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein cannot roll his tanks to protect the outlying regions of his country without endangering (exposing) the Kingdom at its center and he cannot order air strikes which will endanger civilians for the same reasons. He is too wise a soldier to do either alone, but he may permit international forces access on a contingency basis if approached diplomatically by UN request. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power should start pushing for that process on orders from her CIC post haste. The Arab Spring is past; it may be Winter all too soon.

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Posted in: Ukraine accuses Russia of sending in tanks, armor See in context

Asserting (again) that Russian soldiers and armaments had crossed into Ukraine to support the separatists, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine canceled a trip to Turkey on Thursday, as his national security council ordered mandatory conscription for the armed forces.|The situation is certainly extremely difficult and nobody is going to simplify it.|Still, it is controlled enough for us to refrain from panic.| Poroshenko said.

Taking sudden trips to Turkey and establishing mandatory military service (an emergency draft (conscription)) by executive order without input from elected officials are not acts of a cool and level headed democratic leader. Right now Poroshenko is just trying his best to avoid thinking about being sent to the political cooler like Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko. No panic though, not yet, still refraining from that.

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Posted in: 75 Philippine U.N. peacekeepers defy Syria rebels after 43 Fijians seized See in context

The Philippines has long been fighting separatist movements led by Muslims in their southernmost island of Mindinao. At least 120,000 people including many civilians have died in brutal fighting since the mid 1970s. That's why the Fijians could put down their rifles while the Pinoy thought twice. Actually the entire 43 member force from Fiji were no longer on active duty, having been formally relieved of their posts on August 14th. Since then they have just been waiting to be sent home. Now is a painful time in their tiny neutral nation.

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Posted in: 75 Philippine U.N. peacekeepers defy Syria rebels after 43 Fijians seized See in context

The UNDOF mandate is to supervise 'disengagement' between Israel and Syrian forces. The bluehelmets are observers not peacekeepers not mercenaries and not police.The UN UNDOF is merely in Golan to monitor and document any hostilities occuring between forces representing these two specific sovereign nations (and any unexplained incidents). Should ISIS forces fully enter into the equation the UN UNDOF must be completely withdrawn. They would be able to remain only if the Security Council passed a new kind of resolution establishing a totally different UNDOF mandate. That would be an extraordinary act. The annexation of the Golan Heights territory by Israel is not (was never) recognized by the UN under international law. |www.undof.unmissions.org| Security Council resolution 350 (1974) |

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Posted in: Russia, Ukraine talks end without major breakthrough See in context

What the West wants with Ukraine is just to plant a NATO flag on a map in a distant operations center. NATO is floundering as institutional legacy of the cold war and WWII. Its latest mission of significance was bombing Libya in north Africa in 2011 (hardly a fitting chore for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Unless it can revive appetites for more cold war (a neo-cold-war) it cannot justify its own existence and its enormous budgets which weigh so heavily on EU finances. The new neo-con provocationalists are doing their very best to shake up the bottle in Ukraine, but there simply is not enough fizz in Russian speaking people fighting other Russian speaking people in a place that was once very proudly Russian. Only the enigma of the Malaysia flight incident has kept the story from disappearing totally in the press. That and subtle media efforts to distract international audiences from watching the IDF mow the lawn in Gaza. With both those incidents in the past this tempest in a samavor will gradually fade from the world stage. Winter is right around the corner and Ukrainian forces do not have the will (or an adequate sense of purpose) to fight in their own country on frozen ground, all for some vague promises of a more European future. Their families want them to come home to chop wood for the stove (since there will be no gas from Uncle Putin for heating or cooking this year).

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Posted in: Russia, Ukraine talks end without major breakthrough See in context

Kiev knew all along that this region of their country (the Donbas) was kept afloat economically only by periodic factory orders coming from Russia. Now on top of sweeping away their livelihoods (forever) Kiev wants to openly repress this population group for their natural separatist sentiments. It desparately hopes to cover up its own internal failings by demonstrating an adolescent readiness to stand up to Russia on command just like a good junior NATO puppet.

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Posted in: Japan to propose 50% cut in young tuna catch See in context

Behind this move are incoming reports of record declines in the wild Japan salmon catch this season.

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