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Just One of Many Sermons You Won't Be Hearing on Easter Sunday

kennysideshow - 5 hours 49 min ago

The Sermon on The Mark
Barry Crimmins

To grasp how hard it is to express antiwar sentiment in mainstream America, consider this: Mark Twain couldn’t get “The War-Prayer” published while he was alive.

Even worse, it wasn’t just any Mark Twain who couldn’t get this crucial tract into print. It was 70-year-old Mark Twain. Legend emeritus Mark Twain. The Mark Twain who had done world concert tours performing symphonic oratory to rapt overflow audiences. It was steamboat captain, journalist, essayist, minter of maxims, travel-writer beyond compare and author of novels who will live until the damned human race inevitably eliminates itself, Mark Twain who could not get “The War-Prayer” published.

Many of Samuel Clemens’s very important political works have been dismissed by scholars and critics who’ve attempted to transmogrify his natural grief over personal loss into a sad and public departure from reason. And why was he crazy? Because (among other injustices) he railed against the needless infliction of violence upon the cannon fodder dispatched to fight needless wars—as well as the grief and suffering of their loved ones, caretakers and survivors. Pretty crazy, huh? For such a weak argument, it certainly has been durable: it began while he was alive remains in disservice today

Obviously Twain’s life was full of grief because Twain was a human and sooner or later being a human is going to hurt—a lot. Twain lost dear friends, parents, siblings, children and his wife over a span of decades. Twain’s personal suffering undoubtedly helped fuel the extremely lucid outrage he eloquently expressed in “The War-Prayer” but it was frst and foremost the work of a great student and teacher of, and participant in, history.

Nevertheless his publisher passed when Mr. Clemens submitted this mordant satirical indictment of the militaristic lunacy, public cowardice and religious hypocrisy that, to paraphrase the great man, precedes war, must precede war, cannot help but precede war. How much shame did that publisher swallow when he said “no thanks” even after reading the following from the Prayer’s preface?
. . . the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.The cock had crowed three dozen times on Twain before “The War-Prayer” was rejected so perhaps the publisher was simply considering his own personal safety’s sake. Newspaper and magazine editorialists, political cartoonists and public speakers that aimed lemmings cliff-ward with thunderous pro-war messages had already all but shouted Twain from the stage. He was admonished to return to his role as the humorous yarn-spinner whose true messages were easier to miss.

Twain was savaged for not meeting expectations. They wanted to laugh and instead were challenged to think. And feel. And then maybe laugh. He was joking in his “Seventieth Birthday Speech” when he said “I am not here to deceive; I am here to teach.” But in “The War-Prayer” he wasn’t kidding—he was teaching advanced truth, insight, compas-sion and sanity. As one who’d single-handedly seen more of the world than most of his critics combined, he understood deteriorating global and national circumstances and wrote
with passion and vigor in an attempt to save what he himself would soon lose: life.

“The War-Prayer’s” custard-pie in the face of piety in the name of mass murder didn’t strike many of his critics the right way. Just squarely. Perhaps they were upset over the cleaning bills. The grief/loss-of-reason dispensation Twain’s detractors employed to keep so much of his later work sitting in darkness duplicitously urged us to remember, “His earlier works were great and so let’s recall the happier Mark Twain.”

And slowly, that is what he became. The carefree man who wrote lighthearted tales like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court—they were perfect vehicles for Mickey Rooney and Bing Crosby to rollick across the silver screen into provide distraction from the grim realities of a world of economic depravity and militaristic expansion. Hollywood rewrote a happy ending for 1949’s Connecticut Yankee because it would have been un-American to have Bing sing and dance his way through a stark warning about the technological depravity of new and more awful killing machines —especially at the dawn of the nuclear era and the mushrooming munitions profiteering it promised. Worst of all was a ridiculous bio-pic called The Adventures of Mark Twain, in which Frederic March chose to depict Clemens as a wide-eyed rube who couldn’t understand why anyone took much notice of the tales he scribbled. By the time I was growing up in the 1960’s Twain had been robotized and turned into an attraction on Disneyland’s Main Street. He’s held the position for half a century.

Despite repeated attempts to sanitize Mark Twain’s already pure messages, some of us still read his works that sass the ever-oppressive status quo. A status quo that’s been unbearable for a landslide majority of human beings ever since Twain took up their cause long ago. His allegedly glum summations have provided booster shots of hope at the most unexpected times. When “The War-Prayer” was discovered by my generation during the Vietnam War, we found someone we could trust who was over 30. Over 130!

“The War-Prayer” is the final word on war. It truly is a holy work because it peacefully resists the frothing madness required to stand on an altar to promote war. It mocks the brainlessness of nationalism and challenges people of any land to take a truly brave stand by separating themselves from the parochial mob to join anyone from anywhere smart and courageous enough to work toward resolving differences with reason rather than violence.

Even after learning how he was muffled, if not silenced, and knowing that many of the great works of his later life are still universally dismissed, even though mostly unread, I chose a course that even the premiere navigator of American letters couldn’t safely negotiate. But as they like to say in the war movies, I’d go to hell for that guy. Although it’s more fun going with him and so that’s why I always tuck a volume or two of Twain into my suitcase before I hit the road to take my argument for the improvement of the human condition onto the stage, page or airwaves.

I’ll never achieve even a fraction of what Mark Twain accomplished but I can aspire to emulate his bravery when it comes time to be one of “those rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness.” Since first reading “The War-Prayer” I have wandered in a “wilderness of flags” for over 35 years. I have performed and written material in the ever-darkening shadow of a Stars and Stripes that has been dragged through the mud, blood and treachery of one unjust war after the next.

At times I’ve inoculated myself from an audience’s silence and/or jeers by thinking, “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.” My audiences just wanted some laughs, but not the kind that come from understanding the buffoonery, arrogance and depravity that’s led to wars from Southeast Asia to Central America to the Middle East. Damned expectations!

It is a joyous and rare day when another “War-Prayer” passage does not impale my heart, “..tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander un-friended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!”

There’s never a day when I fail to think of the author of the greatest spiritual offering since the Sermon on the Mount and realize that regardless of what a century of jingoists would have you believe, Mark Twain was anything but a lunatic, because there was perfect sense in what he said.
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Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of it's chems

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 12:54
Notice the lying corporate media is spinning away on that  hoax out of Donetsk, instead of reporting on the substantial progress Syria has made!! Despite all that the US/Israel and Turkey have thrown at that beleaguered nation. Almost 80 percent removal.
OPCW-UN mission reports approximately 80 per cent of its chemical weapons material.Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, said in a statement that further engagement is expected to sustain momentum and to complete removal operations during the next days. This will contribute to meeting the deadlines set by the OPCW Executive Council, including the 30 June 2014 target date for completing the destruction of Syria's entire chemical weapons programme. “The renewed pace in movements is positive and necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline,” said Ms. Kaag. The statement also noted that Syria has further completed destruction of empty mustard gas containers, and made progress closing chemical weapons production and storage sites.
What excuse, hoax. lie or false flag will US/Israel cook up now?

Please don't miss  Is Factory Farming Making Us Sick?
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Is Factory Farming Making Us Sick?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 12:43

I believe the answer to this question, which is a resounding YES, is self-evident in our society.
Amongst our species.
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Today is Holy Paskha - Christ is Risen!

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 09:58

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! المسيح قام! حقا قام!‎
11th century fresco of the Resurrection, Chora Church, Constantinople
Today is by far the biggest and most joyful day of the year for Orthodox Christians.  This is also the day when Christians greet everybody, regardless of their faith or lack thereof with the words "Christ is Risen!".  The ancient tradition has many meanings, but one of them is the fact that Christ did not only resurrect for the pious believers, but for all of mankind and in His resurrection he "co-resurrected" all of humanity.  I think that it is therefore only appropriate for me to also greet you all with this ancient greeting - Christ is Risen!

For those of you more theologically inclined, regardless of your religion or denominaton, I am posting an except from the first epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians which has a profound exposition of the importance of the resurrection of Christ for all of mankind.

I will "see" you all on Monday, kind regards and have a peaceful and joy-filled Holy Paskha,

The Saker

Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (chapter 15 verses 12-58)

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.  But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.  Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”  Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.  And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.  But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
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The thing which everybody seems to be missing

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:34
Okay, I decided to squeeze in one more post before taking time off for Holy Paskha, this is well worth it.

Some of you have asked about China's role in all this, in what the real interests of the USA are, how the EU is positioning itself and what Russia does or does not want.  And, somehow, bogged down by the minutiae of the unfolding events I managed to never mention something which Putin, Lavrov and many other top Russian politicians have repeatedly said:

What is happening today before our eyes is the end of one international system and the birth of a qualitatively different one.

Interestingly, Putin has declared that for him the point of no return was reached when the USA and its allies at the UNSC and NATO clearly and grossly twisted the intention of the UNSC on Libya and "upgraded" what should have been a "no fly" zone to a free-fire zone to attack and bomb Libya [of course, it was pretty darn clear to Putin that the "all necessary means to protect civilians" of the resolution was an open ended invitation for the AngloZionists to "interpret" it in any way they wanted; now his says that Russia was "lied to" in order to not blame Medvedev for walking into a 10 foot wide hole.  But that is irrelevant here].  Putin says that from then on he had acquired the conviction that the West could not be negotiated with and had to be simply stopped.  Then Syria happened: for the first time since the end of WWII the USA had decided to do something and was stopped by an outside power in the most humiliating way possible.

The Russian stance on Syria was an overt challenge to US world hegemony.  It was clearly understood as such in Washington and now, following the crisis in the Ukraine, the Russians have openly admitted this.

So this is the real stake of the civil war in the Ukraine: for the USA it is to punish Russia for daring to challenge the world hegemon; for Russia it is to unseat this hegemon and replace him by a multi-polar international system in which sovereign countries act within the bounds of international law.  You could say that even though most of the Security Council is vehemently opposed to that, Russia is trying to show to the world that the USA does not own the UN and that it only represents 1/5th of the P5 and 1/15th of the UNSC.

The West has slouched into a position of total submission to the USA and its domination tools over Europe: the EU and NATO.  The central Europeans have even volunteered to become a US protectorate, a territory to house US missile systems and secret CIA prisons.

With the exception of Iran and Syria, the Arab and Muslim world has sold out, some to the USA, others to Saudi Arabia, most to both at the same time.  Latin America tries hard, but is still heavily dependent on the USA while Africa just wants to survive the best it can.  As for Asia, some parts are as sold out as Europe (Japan, Korea), others are trying to keep a low profile, while China is clearly quietly standing behind Russia but in an externally undeniable way even though China stands to benefit more than any other country on the planet from a change in the international order.

The Russians would have much preferred to wait, to buy time, but the US determination to punish it for daring to oppose it on Syria literally forced them to fold and surrender or openly accept the US challenge and stand firm.

I will repeat that again and again - Putin had no other choice.

And now that this is all in the open, you can be absolutely sure that Russia is not playing to return to the status quo ante.  With an amazing candidness both Putin and Lavrov have openly spelled out their goal on Russian TV (Lavrov on the show "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev" and Putin on during his 4 hours long Q&A yesterday).

So this is the Russian end-goal: to unseat the USA from its role as a world hegemon.  And that goal implies a much longer, bigger and more sustained effort that just force the freaks in Kiev to the negotiating table.  Among other things, this goal implies that Russia must:

1) Force the Europeans to fully realize the outrageous price they are paying for being the obedient and silent vassals of the USA and slowly drive a wedge between the USA and Europe.
2) Force the USA to admit that it does not have the military might to punish or, even less so, "regime change" anybody they don't like.
3) Encourage China and other Asian powers to openly stand with Russia in demanding that international law be adhered to by the West.
4) Gradually replace the dollar with other currencies in international trade and thereby slow down the financing of the US debts by the rest of the planet.
5) Create the conditions for Latin America and Africa to be able to make choices about its future and replace the current monopoly enjoyed by the West in setting the terms of North-South relations.
6) Present another civilizational model which openly reject the current Western paradigm of a society run by small and arrogant minorities.
7) Challenge the current liberal and capitalist economic order embodied in the Washington Consensus and replace it by a model of social and international solidarity (call it "21 century socialism" if you want).

All of the above can be summed up in one word: re-sovereignization.

Since he got elected, Putin mentioned many times the need for a re-sovereignization of Russia.  The Ukrainian crisis has forced him reveal the real end goal of his agenda: to re-sovereignize the entire planet.

This is a tall order and it will take many years, possibly decades, to achieve this goal, though my personal feeling is that the total incompetence and infinite arrogance of of the 1%ers plutocrats which rules over the western world will continue to accelerate that process.

The big question now is this: can the AngloZionist Empire follow the example of the Soviet Empire and collapse without triggering a massive bloodbath on its way down?

There will be violence, for sure, as has been with the former Soviet Union.  But if we can avoid a global conflagration or even a large scale massive war then that would have to be considered as success because it is when they collapse that empires become the most dangerous and unpredictable.

I hope that the above answers many of the questions which have been posted here.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker

PS: I just got this amazing video of a woman stopping a APC in Kramatorsk with her bare hands.  I guess she could be seen as a symbol of what Russia wants to do with the AngloZionist Empire:

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Full text of the Geneva Statement of April 17, 2014 and a short commentary

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 10:23
The Guardian published the full text of the Geneva Statement. This is what eight hours of negotiations produced:
The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.

All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.
That's it. Good thing that they called it "initial" because it really contains only vague well-intentioned truisms.  They might as well have written something along the lines of "give peace a chance" or "we are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day".  So if there is nothing of substance here, what is the big deal?  Why did it take so long?

The big deal is that Uncle Sam had to accept Russia as an equal party to the solution of this mess.

The big deal is that Kiev had to accept the East as an equal party to the solution of this mess.

This might look obvious to any mentally sane person, but for die hard imperialist who believe their own hubris and for neo-Nazis thugs who thought that they could built their Banderastan and basically eliminate the East in one way or another, this is a very painful concession one, in fact, they will try as hard as they can to renege on.

Furthermore, this "statement" (it is not even an agreement) has a huge flaw which is already becoming obvious: it was signed by "the Ukraine" as if there was such an entity in the first place.  But that, of course, is a fiction.  The two biggest forces which really matter are the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers of the East, neither of which was invited.  Instead, it is this fictional and wholly illegitimate regime of oligarchs and CIA agents which put it's signature in the name of all Ukrainians.  The problem is that this regime is about as representative of the Ukrainian people as the Kerensky regime was in 1917 Russia: it represented only itself.

As for the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers in the East, they are not bound by this agreement and the latter have already declared so.  As for the Right Sector, there is one word in this document which refers directly to them, the word "square" as in "all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated".  That they won't like one bit.  Of course, all the revolutionary junta needs to do is to deliver the "Maidan" a public demonstration permit and, voila, they will be "legal", except that the Maidan is a much bigger threat to the regime than to anybody else.  So doing that might be very dangerous.

The bottom line is this: this "statement" is only a "partial acceptance of reality" by the USA and its puppets in Kiev, that's it.  What made them cave in is the absolute failure of the so-called "anti-terrorist operation" which far from crushing the East saw several instances of units switching sides (the 24th Airborne Brigade, were most of these defections occurred, is now reportedly being disbanded, thus Kiev is basically getting rid of what is probably the comparatively  best trained and most combat capable unit in the entire Ukrainian military).

The most important thing to understand at this point is that the future of the Ukraine will not be decided by this document, but only by the correlation of forces on the ground.  That is the only thing which the AngloZionist Empire responds to: force.  With the Empire, written agreements, treaties, promises and pledges are not worth the paper they are written on, and the Russians knows that better than anybody else.

Putin gave the Ukrainians one month to, at the very least, resume paying their electricity bill and negotiate a payment plan, then Russia will switch to a monthly pre-payment option in which the Ukies will only get the energy they have paid for in advance.  The effect of that will be nothing short of an economic nuclear explosion, especially in the context of the promised Presidential election.  And even if by a mix of halfway measure (loans, reverse gas deliveries, etc.) the West managed to keep a few streetlights in Kiev on over the summer, by September the severity of the shortage will be nothing short of apocalyptic.

As for the Russian-speakers in the East, nobody currently has the means to disarm and crush them by force.  I see no way this could change in the foreseeable future.  What the East will do over the summer is simply to organize itself better and prepare for any attempts by Kiev to crush its people.  As for Russia, it now has all the time it needs to covertly assist the Donbass financially, organizationally and even militarily.

Time is most definitely not on the USA's side and with the passing weeks the position of the current oligarchic regime will get weaker and weaker and that will force it to more and more concessions.  Frankly, a much better solution at this point would be to have direct negotiations between the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers.  I know, this sounds far fetched, and it it, but at least these two parties do most definitely have power and legitimacy (with their own people, that is).

One more thing: some of you have expressed concerns about the planned OSCE monitors mission.  You have to understand that all this is is a fig leaf to try to give the impression that all parties want to de-escalate the violence.  Furthermore, and I assure you that this is true, nobody on the planet knows the OSCE better than the Russians, especially Putin, as they saw how these "observers" "observed" in Chechnia!  As a result, if and when these so-called "observers" show up in the eastern Ukraine, they might as well wear T-shirts with "CIA", "MI6", "DGSE" or "KSI" written in big letters.

The bottom line is this: this agreement is first and foremost a symbolic concession by the AngloZionists and nothing else.  It will have zero real impact on the ground.  One should not be distracted by all the hot air being currently released in the corporate media and the blogosphere because words are just that - hot air, political flatulence.  Only one thing will decide the eventual out come of this crisis: the correlation of forces on the ground and it unambiguously indicates that the "Ukrainian experiment" is over.  It is now just a matter of time.

The Saker
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*Very* interesting reply of Putin during yesterday's Q&A

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 01:04

Yesterday Putin had a four hour long Q&A on Russian TV.  I will not post it here, but one reply by Putin is really interesting.  See for yourself:

Q: MARIA SITTEL: More from anxious pensioners. “If the West refuses to purchase gas from Russia, how will that affect people’s well-being, especially that of pensioners?” – Lyudmila Budarina, Tambov Region.

A: VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have to say that oil and gas revenues make up a large part of the Russian budget revenue. This is a serious component for us in addressing economic development, budget funding for our development programmes and, of course, and meeting of our social commitments to our citizens.

I’ll tell you what. I am not sure that I’ll get the figures right, but, if my memory serves me correctly, the bulk of oil and gas revenue comes not from gas but from oil. In terms of the dollar equivalent, our oil revenues last year amounted to $191-194 billion and gas revenues to about $28 billion. See the difference? 191 from oil and 28 from gas.

Oil is sold on world markets. Is there any way to do us harm? One may try. But what would be the result for those who would attempt to do it? First of all, how would this be done? Of all the countries in the world, only Saudi Arabia has the real potential to increase production and thus bring down world prices. Saudi Arabia’s budget assumes a price of $85-$90 per thousand cubic metres.

Q: KIRILL KLEYMENOV: President Obama has already visited them.

A: VLADIMIR PUTIN: I’m sorry, I meant oil, not gas. The budget assumes a price of $85-$90 per barrel, and our budget, I think, $90. So, if one goes below $85, Saudi Arabia will be on the losing end and have problems. For us a drop from $90 to $85 is not critical. That is first.

Second, we are on very good terms with Saudi Arabia. We may, for example, differ in terms of our views on Syria, but we practically have identical positions on the development of the situation in Egypt. There are many other things where we see eye-to-eye.

I have great respect for the custodian of the two Muslim shrines, the King of Saudi Arabia. He is a very clever and balanced man. I don’t think that our Saudi friends would make any abrupt changes to harm themselves and the Russian economy.

Furthermore, they are members of OPEC, where we have many supporters. It is not that they have sympathy for us, but that they have their own economic interests and sharply reducing production – which can only be done in a manner agreed upon within OPEC – is a fairly complicated business.

Finally, in the United States, which is developing shale gas and shale oil production, production costs are very high. These are expensive projects. If world prices tumble, these projects may turn out to be unprofitable, loss-making and the nascent industry may simply die.
And one last point. Oil is priced and traded in the world in dollars. If prices fall, demand for dollars will plummet and the dollar will start losing its significance as a world currency. There are very many factors involved. The wish to bite us is there, but the opportunities are limited. That said, some damage can be caused.

Now about gas. We sell gas by pipeline (most of our sales are by pipeline) mainly to the European countries that depend on Russian supplies to cover about 30-35, 34 percent of their needs. Can they stop buying Russian gas altogether? I don’t think that this is possible.

Some of our neighbours, very good neighbours with which we have very sound relations, such as, for example, Finland…Finland gets 90 percent of its gas from Russia. Some countries that used to be called People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe depend on Russian gas if not for 90 percent, then for 60, 50 or 70 percent of their needs.

Can supplies be stopped altogether? I think that this is totally unrealistic. But one can do this at one’s own cost, by hurting oneself. However, I cannot imagine such a situation. Therefore, of course, everyone is keen on diversifying their sources of supplies. Europe is talking about greater independence from Russia as a supplier, and similarly we are beginning to talk and act to become less dependent on our consumers.

However, so far, there is a measure of balance between consumers and suppliers. The only problem is transit countries. And the most dangerous part, of course, is transit via Ukraine with which we have tremendous difficulties in agreeing on energy problems. But I hope that we will be able to bring things back to normal, considering the contracts that have been signed and are functioning.

MARIA SITTEL: Thank you.
Also, FYI, a reader sent me this chart from Zerohedge:

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Breaking bad in southern NATOstan- Pepe Escobar

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:28

I am just going to excerpt from Pepe after the background info

 If you have not read these posts you may want to: 1-Trigger a cold war to make it easier (for the US) to annex Europe 2- Ukraine: Regime Change & the IMF's Bitter Pill3-The New Great Game: Why the Ukraine matters to so many other nations4-   Ukraine: Cargill acquires stake in UkrLand Farming/food control = people control 

Apparently China is not looking for the US to capitalize anymore then it has on it's domestic populace. Rather China is opting to build it's society up, on it's own. And is looking to Russia for assistance.Which is a much better option for two stronger nations.  
Pepe- Not impressed is an understatement. One week off the grid, and the same sarabande of paranoia, frenetic pivoting and monochromatic exceptionalism. Yet, there it was, like a pearl at the bottom of the turquoise Mediterranean, buried in the info-avalanche: the definitive news of the week, perhaps the year, perhaps the decade.

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller had met with China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping in Beijing on Wednesday. They were on their way to sign the 30-year, mega-contract deal to supply China with Siberian natural gas "as soon as possible". Probably on May 20, when Putin goes to Beijing.

Now this is the genuine article. Pipelineistan meets the strategic partnership Russia-China, as solidified in the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with the tantalizing prospect of pricing/payment bypassing the petrodollar, otherwise known as the "thermonuclear option". Ukraine, compared to this, is a mere sideshow. Welcome to the Brussels rat-o-drome
It was on the road from the Mediterranean back to Arles via Aix-en-Provence that it hit me like an Obama drone. This whole trip was after all about the sublime chevre wrapped up in chestnut leaves in Banon, those "rose petal" bottles of wine; in Bandol, artisan producers and season mountain folks spelling out their fears in village markets and unpretentious chateaux. This was all about economic NATO.I am very jealous of the wine and cheese- Yummy
The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is a top priority of the Obama administration. Tariffs are already almost negligible across most products between the US and the European Union. So a deal is essentially about a power grab over continental markets by Big American Agro-Business (as in an invasion of genetically modified products), as well as American media giants. Call it a nice add-on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - which in a nutshell means an American takeover of the heavily protected Japanese economy.This goes right back to that post on annexing the EU. The Cargill post- Using Ukraine as a means to get American GMO foods shoved down the throats of the rest of the world. And the TPP an agreement that is being made so secretly. Here in Canada we hear next to nothing about it. But, Canadians will lose in this one. Because Canadians have lost in every free trade agreement since Reagan and Mulroney sang Irish eyes are smiling- Sickening!
 Southern NATOstan does offer glimpses of a European post-historical paradise - a Kantian rose garden protected from a nasty Hobbesian world by the "benign" Empire (the new denomination of choice, coined by - who else - neo-cons of the Robert Kagan variety). Yet the main emotion enveloping southern NATOstan, as I witnessed since the start of 2014 successively in Italy, Spain and France, is fear. Fear of The Other - as in the poor interloper, black or brown; fear of perennial unemployment; fear for the end of middle-class privileges until recently taken for granted; and fear of economic NATO - as virtually no average European trusts those hordes of Brussels bureaucrats.

For nine months now, the European Commission has been negotiating a so-called Trade and Investment Partnership. The "transparency" surrounding what will be the largest free-trade agreement ever, encompassing more than 800 million consumers, would put North Korea's King Jong-eun to shame.

The whole secret blah blah blah revolves around the euphemistic "non-tariff obstacles" - as in a web of ethical, environmental, juridical and sanitary norms that protect consumers, not giant multinationals. What the behemoths aim for, on the other hand, is a very profitable free-for-all - implying, just as an example, the indiscriminate use of ractopamine, an energy-booster for pork that is even outlawed in Russia and China.
 Ractopamine! Disgusting. 

Ever heard of that garbage? I have.  In fact there is a previous post here which mentioned Ractopamine; along with the Boston bombing and NATO- Interesting how all these topics intersect yet again.
 Boston Bombing: NATO- Taking the fight to Russia via Georgia/Chechnya ?? The Russian ban centers around the toxic swill, Ractopamine, allowed by the US & Canada.  Both freedom loving nations..... free to poison the dumbed down populace with toxic foodstuffs and gmo,  that is!
Would You Like Extra Ractopamine With Your Pork, Sir? Ractopamine is a growth promoter drug. It is widely used on intensive livestock farms in the U.S. because it increases the rate of weight gain and carcass leanness in pigs, cattle and turkey. It's estimated that up to 80 percent of the U.S. pig herd is fed the drug every year. Of course, the drug doesn't come without its costs.
Ractopamine digression over- Yummy "So why is the Obama administration suddenly so enamored of a free-trade agreement with Europe? Because US Big Business has finally found out that the Holy Grail of an economic pivoting to China won't be so holy after all; the whole thing will be conducted under Chinese terms, as in major Chinese brands progressively upgrading to control most of the Chinese market.

Thus Plan B as a transatlantic market submitting 40% of international trade to the same big business-friendly norms. Obama has been heavily spinning the agreement will create "millions of well-paid American jobs". ( Obama is full of 'it') That's highly debatable, to say the least. But make no mistake about the American drive; Obama himself is personally implicated.

As for the Europeans, it's more like rats scurrying in a secret casino. As much as the National Security Agency monitors every phone call in Brussels, average Europeans remain clueless about what they will be slapped with. Public debate over the agreement is for all practical purposes verboten for European civil society.Same in Canada and the US

European Commission negotiators meet only with lobbyists and multinational CEOs. In case of "price volatility" down the road, European farmers will be the big losers, not Americans, now protected by a new Farm Bill. No wonder the direct and indirect message I received from virtually everyone in the Provencal countryside is that "Brussels is selling us out"; in the end, what will disappear, in a death by a thousand cuts manner, is top-quality agriculture, scores of artisan producers with a savoir-faire accumulated over centuries.The crushing of small independent accountable business for big toxic US agribusiness and GMO's
A nightmare for humanity
So long live hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and GMOs. And off with their heads in the terroir! NATO issuing threats to Russia is such a lame, convenient diversionary tactic. As La Piccolina left Provence carrying its share of sublime artisan goods, I could not but understand why the locals see an economic NATO future with such Van Goghian apprehension.

American multinationals as global plundering marauders, backed up by the military might afforded by the petro dollar

Don't Miss!!!

Post 1-The Narcotic Farm- A documentary

Post 2-Was the US behind the ousting of Prince Bandar (Bush) bin Sultan
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Making sense of the latest Kerry Lavrov deal

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:13
Ok, first the necessary caveats:

1) Kerry and Lavrov already had a deal on Syria, also made in Geneva, but then the USA reneged.
2) The EU also had a deal on the Ukraine with Yanukovich, who was overthrown literally the next day.
3) The USA, NATO and the EU have lied, cheated, mis-represented, twisted and simply betrayed pretty much every promise which they made to Russia ever since Russia freed itself from the yoke of Communism in 1991.
4) The USA probably has as much control over the Ukrainian crazies a la Right Sector as it does over al-Qaeda, tenuous at best.
5) Putin does have a lot of "street cred" in the eastern Ukraine, but it is far from being infinite.
6) The USA does have full control over the Ukrainian oligarchs, but they, in turn, are clearly in a struggle with the nationalist crazies who probably have more firepower and crowd muscle than these oligarchs.

To these caveats, I also want to add a few basic reminders because from the comments I have seen on my previous initial post, a lot of you are over-reacting to this latest developments.  So, just for context, please keep in mind that

1) The Kiev regime has proven that it does not have the means to crush the rebellion in the East.
2) For reasons I have already mentioned many times, NATO and the US do not have a military option in the Ukraine.
3)  Western sanctions are not significantly hurting Russia and they are very significantly help Putin's personal popularity and reforms program.
4) Time is not on the side of the regime in Kiev as the West cannot rescue the Ukraine; Russia can, but will not do so as long as the regime in power remains both illegitimate and crazy.
5) Popular militia can which materialize overnight can also disappear overnight.
6) Until now Kiev has rejected any negotiations with the East.
7) Kiev hold tens or even hundreds of anti-Fascist activists in its jails.
8) The population which would suffer from open warfare is in the East.

Ok, now that we have set the context, let us look at what happened today:

1) Kiev has agreed to negotiate with the East.
2) All illegal armed groups will have to disarm (that was already agreed between Yanukovich and the EU).
3) OSCE monitors will be dispatched to the East to monitor the situation.
4) Kiev has committed to legal reforms for greater autonomy.
5) The Crimea has not even been discussed.
6) The EU has accepted Putin's proposal to discuss gas deliveries.
7) Nobody will face prosecution except for major crimes.

Now, in my opinion, very little has in fact been agreed to, and all that has been agreed to is vague, ambiguous and lacks any verifiable landmarks to achieve within a clear timetable.

So I very much disagree with those who see that as a sell-out by Russia or, even more so, who call a truly top-notch diplomat with fantastic diplomatic skills all sorts of bad names.

Furthermore, and that is the only big news, the USA, the EU and Kiev have agreed to negotiate with Russia, something they had categorically refused to do in the past (except for the EU agreement with Yanukovich which lasted less than a day and which the US never committed to).  As for Crimea, it is simply not part of any negotiations and will just remain a great opportunity for western politicians to spew some more hot air when they feel the need to.

The illegal formations and their weapons?  I suppose that if things go well they will very gradually vacate some buildings which are only needed for symbolic reasons, as for their weapons, they will hide them (and use extra time to get more!).  None of the activists will be detained, at least not legally and, frankly, I see no other option at this point for the Kiev authorities then to release the anti-Nazi activists they are holding.  So far, the Russian speakers, far from vacating any building, have seized one more.

The sanctions?  Those in place will stay, the West will make lots of empty threats about more sanctions if these evil Russkies don't behave, Putin will assume not only that no sanctions will be lifted, but also that many more will be introduced (that serves his economic reform agenda).

Crimea?  It will see a huge economic boom starting this summer with a wave of "patriotic tourism" and *massive* investments from the Russian business community which will now get a chance to bid and invest in all the neglected infrastructure the Ukies left after them and all the numerous millionaire mansions the Ukrainian oligarchs have built.  Crimea will become the "jewel of the Black Sea" and the economic powerhouse of southern Russia.  Military contracts, huge ones, will begin pouring in (the Russian Navy already ordered 5 ships today).

The Ukraine?  It will get poorer, more unstable, totally dependent on western emergency aid which will barely let the regime stay in power unless the revolutionaries come to their senses or tell Uncle Sam to buzz off.  Either way, as long as the rump-Ukraine remains anti-Russia (nevermind a Nazi Banderastan) it will remain a bankrupt failed state.

Russia?  It will continue exactly on the same course and adapt its policies depending on the exact ratio of sanity/delusion it will detect in its "western partners".

So today agreement is really neither good, nor bad, in fact - it's no big deal at all.  Either it will be as short-lived as the agreement between the EU and Yanukovich, or it will be slowly implemented with lots of zig-zags on the way.  Regardless of which option proves true, it will not affect the deep dynamics which have been set in motion which have now acquired a momentum so powerful that probably nobody can stop it.

The attempt to put down the eastern Ukraine appears to have petered out and the chance to turn the Donbass into a "East Banderastan" lead by a clique of neo-Nazi freaks are as small as ever.  In other words, chances are the at least the current phase of the Ukrainian civil war is over.

All in all, that is pretty good news, I think.

The Saker
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Was the US behind the ousting of Prince Bandar (Bush) bin Sultan

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:46
I saw  the news that Bandar had retired. Or something like that? Kuwait Times is suggesting US displeasure was behind the sudden stepping down. The trusted American friend couldn't "get'er done"

  Saudi spy chief ousted under US pressure – Washington irritated by Prince Bandar’s handling of Syria dossier 
DUBAI: The exit of Saudi’s spy chief was the result of US pressure over his stance on Syria but does not signal a shift in Riyadh’s goal of toppling the Damascus regime, experts say. Riyadh, as is usual, did not elaborate on its statement this week that Prince Bandar bin Sultan was being replaced, saying only that the veteran diplomat had asked to step down. But a Saudi expert said that Washington-irritated for some time by Prince Bandar’s handling of the Syria dossier-had in December demanded his removal.Washington may  be irritated with Bandar, but, there was no issue over US weapons being sent to the rebels. I made note of that just the other day.
In this post:  Syria: two thirds chems transferred & Canada prepares attack Syria plans
Here American anti-tank weapons appear in Syria 

Prince Bandar was leading Saudi Arabia’s efforts to finance, arm and unify the Syrian rebellion, which after three years of fighting is still far from its goal of overthrowing the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. The spy chief’s efforts were especially stymied by US objections to plans to supply the rebels with advanced weapons that could tip the military balance against Assad’s forces, which are increasingly gaining the upper hand on the ground.  (Not true)Dubbed “Bandar Bush” for his strong links with former US president George Bush and his son George W. Bush – forged during the time he served as ambassador to Washington-the Saudi royal has openly criticized the current US administration headed by the Democrats. He vented his anger in front of Western diplomats when Washington stepped back after threatening a military strike following deadly chemical attacks in August outside Damascus that the West blamed on Assad forces.One diplomat revealed that Prince Bandar had on that occasion angrily said Riyadh no longer considered the United States to be its principal ally and that it would instead be seeking support from France and other powers. The influential powerbroker was appointed intelligence chief in 2012. His last public assignment was a failed attempt in December to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon his support for Assad. Experts underlined Prince Bandar’s encouragement to radical Islamists in Syria, which they said increased security threats already posed to the kingdom by Saudi jihadists. “Prince Bandar’s aggressive Syria approach highlighted the gap between the expectations he set and Saudi Arabia’s intelligence and operational capabilities,” said Emile Hokayem, senior fellow for regional security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Running a vast and complex effort to help bring down a foreign regime supported by Iran and Russia was simply beyond Riyadh’s ability,” he said.Saudi Arabia’s goal is especially difficult due to the “reluctance of its main Western partner and the conflicting agendas of other important regional players such as Turkey and Qatar,” ( Turkey and Qatar have been assisting the killers in every way possible, so, I am not buying any of this 'conflicting agendas') he added. Although the Arab heavyweight has supplied the rebels with “arms and rebels,” Hokayem said, it had to deal with armed groups that are “dangerous and undisciplined”. The Damascus government, on the other hand, enjoys strong support from Iran, which “could count on organised and welltrained proxies and allies,” such as Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement, he added. Diplomats indicated in February that the kingdom had sidelined Prince Bandar from the Syrian dossier, assigning it to Interior Minister Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, known as the kingdom’s iron fist in the fight against Al-Qaeda.Soon afterwards Riyadh announced tougher punishment for Saudi Islamists fighting abroad, warning that they could spend 20 years behind bars. “The ballooning number of Saudi jihadists in Syria with probable negative consequences for the Saudi regime-and the setbacks suffered there contributed to a rethinking and consequently a reshuffling in Riyadh,” argues Hokayem. Saudi analysts insist however that replacing Prince Bandar does not mean a shift in the Saudi position towards the Syrian conflict. “There is no change. Saudi Arabia wants the fall of Bashar al-Assad,” stressed columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “There is no such thing as the politics of Bandar. There is government policy as well as directives given by King Abdullah that any intelligence chief would implement,” he said. —AFP
There is definitely some sort of internal conflict ongoing in Saudi Arabia.
The elites in Saudi Arabia should be concerned about the wild eyed/brains fried fighters that may come home. This has nothing to do with the US and everything to do with some internal conflicts. That's how I see it. How about you?

Don't miss !!!  The Narcotic Farm- A documentary
I found it most interesting. Hoping to read some constructive comments..

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Lavrov press conference in Geneva after agreement with USA (with link to Kerry's press conference)

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 15:16

Important:make sure to also listen to the press conference by John Kerry gave in another room (to signal that the US and Russia are really enemies I suppose) at the same time.  Click here to listen to it.  The video is choppy and "jumps", blame the US State Department or YouTube, not me.  If I get a clean one I will post a link to it here below.
Categories: Blogroll feed

"Ukraine deal"? Maybe. But the instanity sure continues...

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 13:34
I am trying to make sense of what is going on.  But so far, this looks like more of the total, absolute terminally insane chaos which we saw in the first 2 days of the Ukrainian civil war.  See for yourself:

First a deal between the the USA and Russia (-: well, officially they seriously refer to it as the Ukraine, EU, US, Russia agreement :-) is announced.  Specifically, the deal is on "de-escalation".

So far, so good.

Then, in a BBC post, I read this pearl:
Mr Kerry said the extent of the crisis had been highlighted in recent days by the "grotesque" sending of notices to Jews in eastern Ukraine, demanding that they register themselves as Jewish.Again, even though this is an obscene, literally polar, 180 degree, misrepresentation of the target, it is also interesting.  The fact that the Ukies were killing each other is irrelevant, think of it like a few dead bugs on your windshield, but if GOD FORBID there might be ANY sign of Jews being not killed, not tortured, not beat up by bats or lynched by a mob, but just forced to register as such, they TOTAL PANIC must ensue, this is clearly a PLANETARY EMERGENCY REQUIERING AN IMMEDIATE WORLDWIDE MOBILIZATION!!!! (yes, this must be written all in caps, if not - you are an anti-Semite).  So Kerry just had to act and by its action, no doubt, the USA will prevent another "Holocaust of 6 million Jews" (here the quotation marks are essential because Hitler's mass murder must *only* be referred to as "Holocaust" and absolutely must include the absolutely obligatory figure of 6 millon, if not - you are an anti-Semite).

And, of course, the fact that the only Nazis in the Ukraine are those of the US and EU supported illegal regime makes no difference at all.  After all, they really don't care one bit about the life or well-being of any Jew (or Anglo for that matter) at all.  For the US any murdered or mistreated Jew is nothing more than a pretext for intervention, a good thing, really (at least in their sick minds).

To cap it all off, I then saw this:
Kiev: Military operation in Ukraine southeast to go on despite Geneva agreementDespite calls for a peaceful dialogue in the document on Ukraine adopted in Geneva, the coup-imposed Ukrainian Foreign Minister said it will not affect the “anti-terrorist” operation in the East of the country and the troops will remain there.   Soon after the Geneva document, adopted at a four-side meeting between Ukraine, the US, the EU and Russia, was published, Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa said Kiev is not bound by its recommendations.    According to Deshchytsa cited by RIA Novosti, “the troops in the East of the country are carrying out a special operation and can remain where they are.” So much for de-escalation I suppose.

I suppose that as long as these anti-terrorist forces continue murdering Russian-speaking civilians and refrain from listing Jews, that is kosher from the USA's point of view.

So you will forgive me if I am overtaken by a powerful wave of positive emotions at the news that some kind of deal was struck.

Give me a couple of hours to find out what the hell is really going on and I will come back to you with hopefully a halfway decent SITREP (-: caps not mandatory here, but that is the convention :-)


The Saker
Categories: Blogroll feed

The Narcotic Farm- A documentary

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 10:40
Let's see.... connecting the dots
Pharmaceutical experimentation without consent-
MkUltra-with it's roots in the second world war and Operation paperclip. The CIA
The LSD experimentation in the '60's? Way before that.
The birth of the so called Hippie Culture?  The Laurel Canyon Scene predating Haight- Ashbury
Timothy Leary-Tune In, Turn on, Drop out.
Roll all that into this very interesting little documentary

Categories: Blogroll feed

Ranchers vs. Regulators: The Clark County Range War

freedominourtime - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 03:32
 Truth, Justus, and the American Way: Cliven Bundy invites a five-year-old to try on a cowboy hat.
Bunkerville, Nevada
War came to the Western Range that April, a conflict pitting the forces of order and respectability against a restive band of extremists accused of cheating the government of what it was due. The prohibitively stronger side consisted of regulatory agencies allied with powerful non-governmental organizations determined to control the land and expel small private interests who made productive use of it. The unyielding demands of the political elite were met with the unflinching defiance of rural ranchers, leading to talk of a “range war.”
Eventually the ranchers exhausted the patience of the government, which deployed dozens of heavily armed Regulators to the county under orders to put down the rebellion. This would mean arresting – or shooting – anybody who resisted. Rather than submitting, the rebels – with the support of the county sheriff and the aid of several veterans of the most recent war – mobilized to confront the threat. Citizens coalesced into a militia and rode out on horseback to confront the invaders at their staging area.
To the consternation of the government and the respectable media, the rebels held their ground, forcing the Regulators to retreat. 
This, in broad outline, is the story that unfolded at an overpass outside Bunkerville, Nevada on April 12, when hundreds of citizens – confronting paramilitary Regulators who were prepared to gun them down – compelled the BLM to return hundreds of cows the agency had stolen from the family of rancher Cliven Bundy to punish him for failing to pay grazing fees the agency had imposed on him without legitimate authority. 
This act of government-licensed cattle rustling was carried out by "contact cowboys"* who were aided by a paramilitary force of roughly 200 people from the Bureau of Land Management, which is, from a constitutional perspective, a bastard agency. 
(All Bunkerville photo credits: Scott Watson.) Through what must be considered an act of Providence, no lives were lost on April 12. 
A bloodier version of the same story played on on the same day 122 years ago in Wyoming's Johnson County: Hundreds of citizens surrounded the TA Ranch, which was the base of operations for dozens of gunmen who had been deputized by the state government, provided with a roster of troublesome local ranchers, and ordered to execute every man whose name was inscribed on the kill list.
In both cases, the aggressors – the BLM and federal comrades in Bunkerville, a corporatist clique called the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in Johnson County – claimed to be acting in the name of the law, which for them was digested to a single arrogant claim: “The land is ours because we say it is.”
Human lives were lost in Wyoming's Johnson County War. So far there have been no human casualties in the BLM's range war against the family and property of rancher Cliven Bundy. To this point, the invaders have had to be content with one assault with a deadly weapon (the Taser attack onAmmon Bundy), an act of aggravated assault on a pregnant woman, and the slaughter of a still-unknown number of the Bundy family's cattle coupled with extensive damage to their property.
“I have certain rights there – range improvements and so forth,” Cliven Bundy told me during an interview near the site of the April 12 standoff. 
Although the grazing areas are considered public lands, he continued, “I did have private property there, and there was damage. What the law would do here – they [the Feds] have four Metro [police] officers out there twenty-four hours a day protecting their `property.' A few days ago, though, I had almost 400 cattle out there [under BLM control] and they didn't give a damn about that property.”
At least one bull was shot while securely penned, and an unspecified number of other cattle were killed. In addition, Cliven pointed out, “They tore up water lines and cut water tanks in two.”
“The damage is very extensive,” Cliven's son Ryan told me, holding a complaint he was filing with the Clark County Sheriff's Office. “There were 200 BLM people out there, and they all had off-road vehicles, in addition to the contract cowboys [hired by the Feds to confiscate the cattle] and they have just tromped this ground. Roads meant nothing to them. First they widened the roads with heavy equipment, and then they didn't stay on the roads. They would expect a normal person never to overturn a stone, but these guys have just ravished this land.”

In addition to wrecking the range improvements that the Bundy family was legally entitled to make, the BLM Regulators didn't spare the abode of the incomparably precious desert tortoise, whose preservation was the stated rationale for driving cattle ranching into near-oblivion in Clark County.
“We found several places where their trucks have caved in tortoise dens,” Ryan Bundy told me, his voice laden with weary disgust. “Talk about hypocrisy.”
The BLM was forced to withdraw its armed Regulators without firing a shot on April 12. But the agency has made clear its intention to continue its efforts to drive Bundy – the last of Clark County, Nevada's cattle ranchers – from range land the federal government illegally claims as its own.

“Well, it's not over,” insisted Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who working in concert with his son Rory (a Clark County Commissioner and quondam gubernatorial candidate) and former Reid land-use adviser Neil Kornze (who was approved as BLM director on April 8) has played a central role in the effort to uproot the Bundy family from their land. “We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it.”
“We believe in a country in which we are subject to laws and you can't just ignore the laws we don't like,” sniffed Rory Reid. “I think clearly if state and local prosecutors look at this more closely, they're going to find that he broke the law and he should be prosecuted.”
After the retreat on April 12, the BLM sent four ominous-looking certified letters to the Bundy home.
Hereditary commissar Rory Reid. “I've not opened them,” Cliven Bundy explained to me, a subtle smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Reports have been put in circulation that the BLM – under the influence of the Reid dynasty – may eventually induce the Sheriff's Office to raid the Bundy family's home. 
Cliven has said that if the Sheriff is issued a warrant signed by judge of appropriate jurisdiction, he will turn himself in. 
Volunteers acting as private peace officers stationed along checkpoints leading to the Bundy home told me that if the Sheriff's office presents a valid warrant, they will do nothing to interfere – but that a SWAT-style raid would lead to trouble.
Cliven isn't burdened with any illusions about the kind of people who are seeking to shut down his ranch.
When Cliven and his sons went out to inspect the damage to the range land, they found “a pit – about fifty feet long, thirty feet wide, and ten feet deep. About a third of it was full of something. We know there were [cattle] body parts sticking out of it.”
“It was a mass grave,” concluded Cliven, grimly. “Let me tell you something – if they hadn't backed off [on April 12] they would have had mass human bodies.”
No lives were lost in the Battle of Bunkerville, but the Feds and their allies clearly see the withdrawal as a tactical retreat, and the wary peace that currently prevails as a fermata, rather than a coda, in the conflict. The Johnson County War of 1892 illustrates what could happen if the federal campaign against the Bundys becomes a literal range war.
The first victim in the elite's onslaught against homesteaders and ranchers in Wyoming was a reformed prostitute named Ellen Watson, more commonly known as as “Cattle Kate.” Amid murky accusations of cattle rustling, Watson and her husband, James Averill, were lynched in 1889, three years before open warfare erupted along the Powder River.  
Buffalo, Wyoming, circa 1890. At the time, a growing segment of the Wyoming population were seeking alterations to the state's range laws, which had been written by, and on behalf of, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. The Association, for its part, was trying to minimize its losses following the collapse of a speculative bubble in the cattle industry during the 1880s.
In the decade leading up to the invasion of Johnson County, wrote Asa Shinn Mercer in his turn-of-the- 20thCentury expose The Banditti of the Plains, “a craze for cattle company investments was created in the East and also in the British Isles. Soon the bulk of holding passed into the hands of corporations and high-salaried officials took charge of the business, living luxuriously in club house in the various towns and trusting the real management of herds and ranches to subordinates … frequently without practical experience.”
The lure of supposedly easy profits in the cattle industry proved irresistible to pampered children of privilege, whose dreams of empire-building in the American West were fueled by such works as Cattle Raising on the Plains of North Americaby Prussian nobleman and Colorado cattle mogul Baron Walter von Richthofen. “There is not the slightest amount of uncertainty in cattle raising,” the Baron assured his fellow elitists
The parvenus and dilettantes who overran Wyoming included “the black sheep sons of European noblemen and wealthy youngish adventurers from New York, businessmen from Paris and Edinburgh, Scotland,” observes historian Hal Herring. “The Anglo-Beef conglomerate, one of the world's largest cattle companies, was formed in an office in foggy London, its investors toasting the vast profits to coming from an unimaginably raw land across the Atlantic.”
One inevitable result of the elite onslaught was a culture clash between the Europeans steeped in feudal conceits and traditions and the incorrigibly individualistic knights of the plains.
“The English referred to cowboys as `cow servants,'” Herring points out, “and the classic Western tale was born of the English lord, a newly arrived landowner, who rode up to a neighboring ranch and asked the ranch foreman if his `master' was at home.”
“The son-of-a bitch hasn't been born yet,” came the cowboy's laconic and thoroughly unamused reply.
Until the late 1880s, the elitists who were represented in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association – and who controlled the state government – were content to allow actual cowboys to do the work, while the harvested the profits. During the boom, a growing number of cowboys acquired sufficient capital to obtain herds and homestead un-apportioned land within what historian Helena Huntington Smith described as “an empty paradise of waving grass – a cowman's paradise with the Indians out but the cowmen not yet in.”
This arrangement worked “very well while the markets ruled high,” Asa Mercer wrote in his memoir of the period. However, some of the well-connected eastern cattle companies began to undermine the market by rounding up “culls” and elderly steers that were “unfit for beef” and selling them to feeders at inflated prices, an arrangement that “tickled the avarice of the Eastern or foreign shareholders and prevented a careful investigation of the methods employed.” Mercer described this as “wholesale robbery.”
The speculative cattle bubble likewise led to the over-crowding of available grazing land, which left “the ranges crowded and the grass eaten until the winter food was too short to carry the stock through the cold weather.”
Depletion of grazing areas accelerated during the drought of 1886, which was immediately followed by an abnormally severe winter. This “caused an excessive mortality among all classes of cattle and reduced the calf crop to fully one half” in Wyoming herds, Mercer recalled. To meet contracts, the elite-operated companies expanded the practice of “robbing the herd” by sending inferior quality beef cattle to Chicago. This likewise had predictable consequences: Beef prices plummeted more than half – partially because a correction in inflated prices was overdue, but also because of “the generally poor condition of the range shipments in consequence of overstocking and the resulting scarcity of feed.”
At this point in the classic boom-to-bust cycle, the correct approach would be to allow over-grown, inefficient cattle corporations to fail and allow smaller producers to rebuild the cattle market.
This was precisely what the entrenched interests responsible for that catastrophe wanted to avoid. Accordingly, aided by the mercenary press, the establishment cattle cartel generated a propaganda campaign blaming that collapse on “rustlers,” whose alleged depredations were aided and protected by an incorrigible public. Johnson County was depicted as a hotbed of rustler activity.
The cartel had become entrenched immediately after Wyoming was given territorial status in 1868. Representatives of “Eastern and foreign cattle syndicates” dominated the legislature, Mercer insisted, and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association “virtually shaped the territorial policy.... Legislative enactments first assumed form the the executive councils of the association and through its social prestige were popularized with the masses, even before adoption of laws.”
In 1891, the cartel-dominated legislature passed a measure creating the “Board of Livestock Commissioners” with a broad mandate to “protect the livestock interests of the state from theft and disease.” To that end the commissioners were instructed to appoint “stock inspectors” authorized to impose fines and to conduct both seizures and arrests. This most likely led to the assassination-style killings of ranchers John Tisdale and Orley Jones by a secretive squad of "inspectors." 

Rancher Nate Champion, a redoubtable and widely respected man, offered eyewitness testimony that the murderer was an inspector named Joe Elliott, who was indicted and bound over for trial.
This exercise of legitimate judicial authority against the Stock Growers Association's interests prompted the oligarchy to escalate its campaign to annihilate its opposition.  The cartel began a concerted press campaign through major newspapers in eastern cities “to make their readers believe that a reign of terror existed in half a dozen counties in the state that could only be overcome by a resort to arms....”
It was for that purpose that the Commission recruited a group of “Regulators” who arrived in Cheyenne on April 2, 1892, in a Pullman train car – its windows blacked out. Their mission, as described to them by their commander, Major Frank Wolcott, was to execute warrants calling for the summary execution of cattle rustlers, whose names were inscribed on a “kill list.” Each lethal “warrant service” would earn the trigger-puller a $50 commission to supplement their salary of $5 a day – a very lucrative arrangement at a time when the standard ranch hand's wage was $25 a month.
Their wagons groaning beneath a supply of ammunition sufficient “to kill every inhabitant of Wyoming,” the death squad -- numbering roughly 50 men -- lit out for the KC Ranch to cross the first two names from their list – Nick Ray and Nate Champion, the latter having earned his spot by testifying against Elliott. After taking the ranch's cook and a visiting cowboy prisoner, the Regulators laid siege to the ranch, killing Ray immediately.
Champion sold himself dearly, holding off dozens of heavily armed, ruthless men for an entire day.
“They are shooting at the house now,” a preternaturally composed Champion recorded in a journal that should be regarded as a masterpiece of stoic literature. “[T]hey have just got through shelling the house again like hail. I heard them splitting wood. I guess they are going to fire the house tonight. I think I will make a break when night comes, if alive.”
As Champion predicted, the The Regulators eventually employed what would now be called the “Waco Protocol.”
“The house is all fired,” wrote Champion in his terse, fatalistic final entry. “Goodbye, boys, if I never see you again.”
Shortly before 9:00 on evening of April 8, the invaders flushed Champion from his burning home and gunned him down. They proceeded to the next target, a homestead known as the TA Ranch.
Champion had noted in his journal that “If I had a pair of glasses I believe I would know” some of the invaders who eventually murdered him. His neighbor, a journalist named Jack Flagg, had a similar thought when he rode by the ranch during the siege. Flagg wasn't aware that his name was on the kill list. That fact was abruptly made known to him when one of the Regulators sent rounds in his direction. Flagg hastened to the nearby town of Buffalo, where he told Johnson County Sheriff Red Angus about the assault on Champion's settlement.
While the Sheriff assembled his posse, the city's leading merchant, a transplanted Scotsman named Robert Foote, assumed the role of Paul Revere, dashing through the streets of Buffalo urging residents to arm themselves and “take a side.” Over the next three days, recalls Helena Huntington Smith in her definitive book The War on Powder River, “The streets were filling with armed men from the nearer ranches, while riders were sent to distant parts of the country for help to repel the murders.”
On April 11, the spontaneously organized citizens' militia arrived at the TA Ranch to engage the invaders. Snipers took up positions and trained their gun sights on the main ranch house. Several members of the militia cobbled together an assault vehicle they called the "Ark." Under covering fire from snipers they advanced on the enemy, hurling improvised explosive devices into the building.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Association, a non-governmental organization controlled by politically connected cattle interests, urged Acting Governor Amos Barber to intervene. Barber sent a frantic telegram to President Benjamin Harrison describing the citizen uprising as a threat to national security:
“An insurrection exists in Johnson County, in the state of Wyoming, in the immediate vicinity of For McKinney, against the government of said state.... I apply to you on behalf of the state of Wyoming to direct the United States troops at Fort McKinney to assist in suppressing the insurrection.” By April 12, the citizen militia had taken control of the TA Ranch, and the Regulators were pinned helplessly inside the stable. On the following day, Colonel Robert T. Van Horn and the 6thCavalry arrived on the scene, no doubt to the relief of the Regulators and their employers. 
That relief rapidly gave way to consternation when Van Horn deferred to Sheriff Angus, recognized the legitimacy of the citizen revolt, and made arrangements for the Regulators to surrender.
Colonel Van Horn treated “the armed citizenry with the utmost respect, while making it clear that the fighting had to stop,” Herring recounts. “To the surprise of the cavalry, as soon as Van Horn assured the citizens that the Regulators would be arrested and taken to Fort McKinney, the impromptu militia swiftly disbanded.”
Although Major Wolcott insisted on surrendering to Van Horn, claiming that he would fight to the death rather than surrendering to Sheriff Angus, he disarmed his despondent mercenaries and went peaceably to the stockade at Fort McKinney. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association retained enough political clout to arrange the release of Wolcott and his Regulators without facing criminal charges. But the Association – which was already reeling from its financial losses – quickly lost its stranglehold on Wyoming politics.
Within a few years, the elite-connected cattlemen retired from an industry for which they were manifestly unsuitable, abandoned a state they had nearly destroyed, and found other ways to inflict misery on humanity. While isolated conflicts continued to flare up in the range lands until the second decade of the 20th Century, Wyoming was left to manage its own affairs – until the heirs of the elite interests behind the WSGA devised a new rationale for land-grabbing: Environmental protection.
“This isn't about protecting turtles – it's about controlling the land,” declared Red Bear, an Apache Indian from St. George Utah, who told me that he had come to Bunkerville “to stand in defense of freedom.” He described to me how he had been confronted by a BLM official while walking on the range.
“He told me that I had to leave, because I had `no right to be on the property,'” Red Bear said, emitting a disgusted chuckle over the armed functionary's severe irony deficiency. 
“To a Native, that's a very old story, and it's the same one we're seeing here in Bunkerville today. The people behind this are driven by greed and capable of great violence, and it's happening everywhere in the country. I came here – all of these people came to Bunkerville – to tell the government and the people working with them that it stops here.” 
Dum spiro, pugno! 
*In the original version of this article I reported -- based on previous accounts -- that the BLM-supervised confiscation of Bundy's cattle was carried out by Cattoor Livestock, a firm in Nephi, Utah that has done contract work for the agency in the past. According to Sue Cattoor, The contractors were Shayne Sampson and Cameron Warner." I regret the erroneous earlier report, and extend my apologies to the Cattoor firm. 
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Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail

kennysideshow - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:12

New York Judge: Jurors can hear Imam praise US and Mossad 9/11 perps.

An Egyptian Islamic preacher, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, statements that "everybody was happy" when the World Trade Center was hit by airplanes can be heard by a jury sitting just blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, a judge ruled Tuesday.

 "Anybody who tell (sic) you he was not happy, they are hypocrites, for the Muslim Nation."

When asked whether he approved of the Cole attack, Mustafa responded: "Of course. I agree with it."

The Israeli/Mossad U.S.S.Cole attack?

More predictive programming from good ole Matt Drudge?

(cue the laugh track) Separatists flew the Russian flag on armored vehicles taken from the Ukrainian army on Wednesday, humiliating a Kiev government operation to recapture eastern towns controlled by pro-Moscow partisans.

My own Senator Bob Corker writes an editorial -
U.S. must defend Ukraine from Russia. Notice how that when it comes to warmongering, most Repubs and Dems are on the same side. As much as I don't want the guy back in our state, leaving him in DC all these years does deprive a village of its idiot.
To place the coup in Ukraine in historical context, this is at least the 80th time the United States has organized a coup or a failed coup in a foreign country since 1953. That was when President Eisenhower discovered in Iran that the CIA could overthrow elected governments who refused to sacrifice the future of their people to Western commercial and geopolitical interests. Most U.S. coups have led to severe repression, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, corruption, extreme poverty and inequality, and prolonged setbacks for the democratic aspirations of people in the countries affected. The plutocratic and ultra-conservative nature of the forces the U.S. has brought to power in Ukraine make it unlikely to be an exception.

You don't own your land. You only rent it until someone wants to take it away from you. BLM threatens Henderson Ranch in Texas for massive land grab.

And don't forget that most if not all of the illegal 'voluntary' federal income tax on labor goes to pay interest on odious debt to the Federal Reserve. A sweet deal for a very few that needs to end.

Sometimes when you manufacture explosives, shit happens. Rio Ammunition located next to Accurate Energetic Systems , known locally as Accurate Arms, near Buckshort, TN has a mishap. 4 injured in explosion. Update: 1 dead in the explosion

Michael Bloomberg may be happy. A few less shotgun shells on the market, at least for a little while. Good thing Accurate Arms is OK. They make some heavy stuff for the war machine which of course Bloomy endorses.

Bloomberg has announced that he is 'investing' $50 million in a gun control scheme for a grassroots network to organize voters on gun control. He's trying to pay back those who helped him amass his fortune and keep them safe from armed Americans.

Being proud of his 'work,' Bloomberg has this to say:
"I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close." That's what's called chutzpah.

Tupperware Makes a Comeback: “You can put your weed in there.”

Dang it..... missed out again. The 2014 U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver is officially sold out

George Soros wants to own the legal marijuana world.

Crime may be down in Denver this year but some outlets like to scream unproven allegations, never missing an opportunity to demonize the plant as it's legalization is a sign of the end of the world.
Denver mom shot to death after husband allegedly consumed marijuana edibles, began hallucinating

Rapper cuts off his own penis and jumps from a second story balcony...and lives. 'Nuff said about that. Forget I even put this here.

The US government was a deadly animal abuser at the Bundy ranch. Where's PETA? Did they not get permission to investigate and expose?
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
        --Immanuel Kant

"The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different."
General Motors has hired Kenneth Feinberg to do damage control. He has a lot of experience in that and I bet he don't come cheap. 

The first Sunday after the full moon following the March Equinox.
Easter was originally (and still is) a celebration of the fertility of the earth, renewed each springtime. The egg, the chick, the rabbit, the flowers, are all fertility symbols (and much older than the Christian symbol of the resurrected god). Its celebration has often been marked by sexual exuberance, as is still prominent in the pre-Lenten Carneval and Mardi Gras festivals and the phallic symbolism of the May pole and the cross.

Long before Jesus, many peoples associated this festival with the coming back to life of the god of fertility (Tammuz - see Ezek 8:14, Adonis, Osiris, Perseus, Orpheus), who had been dead in the underworld during the winter. Even the name by which Christians still celebrate the festival is a corruption of the name of the ancient fertility goddess Ishtar or Ashtoreth (whose name also survives in the name of one of the books of the Old Testament, the only Bible book that contains no reference to God - the Book of Esther).

The Christian church, because it could not eradicate the celebration of this popular festival, reinterpreted it and assigned to it a new meaning, but was unable to erase completely its original significance. Undoubtedly current attempts by Christians will have no more success. The egg and the rabbit, the phallic pole or cross (the real symbols of the festival) will continue to be loved and celebrated as long as we can marvel at the new life which the spring brings.GM has hired Kenneth Feinberg

Read more at: has hired Kenneth Feinberg

Read more at:
Happy genetically modified toxic Easter!

Looking back..... 

17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir offers a flower to soldiers during the Pentagon anti-war protest in 1967.

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Measles outbreak traced to fully vaccinated individual

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:37
This is not the first time I have blogged on this topic .There have been cases of polio vaccines spreading polio. Flu vaccines can also spread the flu and the rotavirus vaccine can also spread the virus through feces expression
 Never mind the fact that rotavirus vaccine in Canada and the US is contaminated with Pig DNA
 More on these subjects here- Rotavirus vaccines: Problems with Pig virus contamination & conflicts of interest  & GSK Rotavirus vaccine contaminated with Pig virus

** -The Virus & the Vaccine- Cancer causing monkey virus & contaminated polio vaccine**
That book is highly recommended!

But let's get back to news regarding the measles outbreak from a vaccinated individuals spreading to other vaccinated individuals- blowing all the claims made by vaccine makers sky high

be afraid
Measles outbreak- Science mag
Get the measles vaccine, and you won’t get the measles—or give it to anyone else. Right?  WRONG! Well, not always. A person fully vaccinated against measles has contracted the disease and passed it on to others. The startling case study contradicts received wisdom about the vaccine and suggests that a recent swell of measles outbreaks in developed nations could mean more illnesses even among the vaccinated. "Received Wisdom" Or big pharma claims?

 That’s why a fully vaccinated 22-year-old theater employee in New York City who developed the measles in 2011 was released without hospitalization or quarantine.  And based on incorrect assumptions passed down to us from drug companies the hospital released the woman, didn't quarantine her and she went on to infect four other people. Two with immunization records and two had shown signs of having had measles previously.
But like Typhoid Mary, this patient turned out to be unwittingly contagious. Ultimately, she transmitted the measles to four other people, according to a recent report in Clinical Infectious Diseases that tracked symptoms in the 88 people with whom “Measles Mary” interacted while she was sick. Surprisingly, two of the secondary patients had been fully vaccinated. And although the other two had no record of receiving the vaccine, they both showed signs of previous measles exposure that should have conferred immunity.
We should not assume that vaccine are a one size fits all and that they are not without a whole host of their own problems

A closer look at the blood samples taken during her treatment revealed how the immune defenses of Measles Mary broke down. As a first line of defense against the measles and other microbes, humans rely on a natural buttress of IgM antibodies. Like a wooden shield, they offer some protection from microbial assaults but aren’t impenetrable. The vaccine (or a case of the measles) prompts the body to supplement this primary buffer with a stronger armor of IgG antibodies, some of which are able to neutralize the measles virus so it can’t invade cells or spread to other patients. This secondary immune response was presumed to last for decades.
By analyzing her blood, the researchers found that Measles Mary mounted an IgM defense, as if she had never been vaccinated. Her blood also contained a potent arsenal of IgG antibodies, but a closer look revealed that none of these IgG antibodies were actually capable of neutralizing the measles virus. It seemed that her vaccine-given immunity had waned.
If vaccines fail to confer immunity does it make sense to push more vaccination as a solution?
What is that definition of insanity? Oh yes, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
 What do the outbreaks of contagious diseases amongst the populace tell us?
About ourselves as a species? About our society? 

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Personal announcement: blog switching to universal time

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:59
Dear friends,

With almost 20'000 readers literally spread all over the world, I have decided to follow a very good suggestion posted by 'anonymous' and switch this blog's timestamps to universal time aka Zulu time aka GMT.  Sticking to the one I previously used (EST) is really inadequate and parochial.  Also, since most of the world does not use the stupid AM/PM convention, I will be using the so-called "military time" in which 10AM is 10:00 and 10PM becomes 22:00.  This is much more logical.

I hope you don't mind and take the time to adapt to this small change.

Kind regards,

The Saker
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Listening to Yulia, thinking about al-Sahhaf

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:28
I have been listening to a long monologue by Yulia Timoshenko on the Ukrainian TV and I am left speechless.  Here is what she says: (summary, not exact quote)
The Russians have sent in their agents to attack the authorities in the eastern Ukraine and seize the weapons caches to then give them to their sympathizers.  What the Russians want is to scare us to accept their plan: to turn the Ukraine into a Russian colony.  We have to form a new military, a parallel army of volunteers which will beat them back.  Then we will negotiate with Putin from a position of force.  Our new military will never allow the occupants to get to Kiev.  We will engage in a pubic advertisement campaign to ask for volunteer contributions to pay for it.  We have to be strong!!OMG - I don't know whether I should howl of laughter or sob in despair about that kind of crazy nonsense.  From her tone and choice of metaphors, she has gone completely hysterical.  The scary thing is that nobody dared to tell her that he entire plan is not absolutely crazy and laughable, but simply a non-starter: you cannot create a armed ex-nihilo in days, week or months.  It takes *years* and *a lot* of *money* to do that.

I think that the freaks in power are either completely insane, or totally out of touch with reality, or they are liars who know that they are lying, but who are getting something from it.

Frankly, listening to Yulia on Ukie TV I thought that she is much, MUCH more ridiculous than Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf and Saddam Hussein with their delusions about a "Mother of All Battles".


The Saker
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Ukraine SITREP April 16, 10:50 EST (Ukrainian civil war day 2)

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:50
It is still a little early to call this day over, especially considering the time it takes for the information to seep out of the eastern Ukraine and make it to the Internet.  Furthermore, we have to be extremely cautious with the news not only because truth is the first casualty of war or because all the information sources have a vested interest in getting out the "right" information "correctly" presented, but because today, just as yesterday, the main characteristic of the situation in the Ukraine is complete, total, chaos.

With these caveats in mind, we can still say the following with a strong degree of certitude:

Something really amazing happened today in Kramatorsk.  It appears that a column of Ukrainian paratroopers entered the city unopposed, some of them put Russian flags on their Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), others Saint George ribbons.  When they made it to the city center they were greeted by the civilians who brought them flowers and food.  Then, some of them apparently left, possibly on their IFV though that is still unclear to me.  It appears certain that 6 IFV of the BMD-2 types (Airborne IFV) were given to the local self-defense forces.  It is unclear to me what happened to the crews.  Some reports say that they purchased civilians clothes and returned to their base, but that makes absolutely no sense.  Strictly speaking, handing over their IFV to "terrorists" in a "battle situation" could get them summarily executed on the spot.  At the very least this should land them in front of a court martial.  So my guess is that the crews either deserted completely, or stayed around and join the locals.  What is certain is that the local defense forces now have 6 armored vehicles armed with the formidable 30mm 2A42 multi-purpose auto-cannon which can tear into pretty much anything short of a main battle tank.  The BMD-2 is also *ideal* for urban combat: relatively compact, well armored, highly mobile and with that formidable gun (which can shoot armor piercing rounds), it is just about the best kind of vehicle to use inside a city (it also has a machine gun and a guided anti-tank weapon).

By the way, these units came from the same 24th Airborne Brigade I mentioned yesterday, probably one of the few more or less well trained units in the entire Ukrainian military.  

Another less noticed event was an attempt by unidentified paramilitaries to attack or break through one of the checkpoints near the city.  The attack failed, the number of casualties is still undetermined.  The locals blame the Right Sector thugs for this one.

All the other info coming out of the eastern Ukraine are just rumors and it makes no sense to repeat it here, much less so use it as a basis for making conclusions.

What appears to be pretty certain is that nothing major happened today, most definitely no big combat operations.  If yesterday was chaos with local violence, today seems to be only chaos, which is not a bad sign I suppose.

Finally, this "just in" from RT.  Unverified, by consistent with what we know:
Reports from Slavyansk say that the army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city for an “anti-terrorist operation” are leaving en masse. Some troops are openly voicing support for the eastern Ukrainians, while others are speaking out against a war. According to Interfax, citing local self-defense activists, some 300 Ukrainian troops agreed to lay down their weapons and “go home” following negotiations in Slavyansk. If that is so, this might be the beginning of the end for the "anti-terrorist" operation.   Why?  Because enough of the military switches sides, or at least lays down arms or refuses to obey, no other force can challenge it.  The Paratroopers can easily make minced meat out of any police, SWAT, SBU or even regular military unit.  They could even hold their ground against an armored attack (holding ground is what these paratroopers are trained for).  If the 24th Airborne Brigade switches sides (which has not happened yet!!), then that is the end of the entire "anti-terrorist" operation.  But this is a big "if" and we should not assume something about the entire brigade just on the basis of what one single company did.

Stay tuned, I will try to keep you posted,

The Saker
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