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Games Road Pirates Play

freedominourtime - 2 hours 32 min ago

David Conner, a 43-year-old resident of Redding, California, will spend at least three years in a government cage in Idaho because a State Trooper in Oregon spied an open can of Monster energy drink in Conner’s rental car. 
The presence of that foul but perfectly legal concoction, Trooper Ryan Mills insisted, is an “indicator” of criminal activity. The trooper also considered it suspicious that Conner was making a long trip in a rented car during the middle of the week. Owing to his “experience and training,” Mills insisted during his January 22nd testimony in Conner’s trial, he simply knew that Conner “wasn’t just driving to grandma’s house.” 
When Conner didn’t consent to a search, Mills said that he would call a K-9 handler to conduct a drug sweep of the car. Ten minutes later the officer told Conner that “there’s no local dog available” and wrote him a citation for driving on a suspended license. 
Rather than either impounding the car or having Conner contact a friend to drive it away – as Oregon law requires – Mills let him continue eastward on I-84. About fifteen minutes later Conner was ambushed just inside the state line by Idaho State Troopers Jason Cagle and Scott Tulleners, who acted on an “Attempt to Locate” call informing them that Conner was operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license. 
Neither Cagle nor Tulleners actually observed any suspected criminal activity on Conner’s part. The only “evidence” in their possession consisted of double hearsay – Mills’ original report relayed to them second-hand through ISP Trooper Justin Klitch, whom Mills had contacted via cellphone. 

Mills conducted that back-channel conversation with an officer outside his jurisdiction while ignoring repeated radio calls from his own dispatcher. In doing so he altered the purpose of the stop – without probable cause – from traffic enforcement to drug interdiction. He artificially prolonged Conner’s detention while making arrangements for him to be stopped in a state with more draconian drug laws and a more permissive official attitude toward police misconduct.
The initial traffic stop occurred in the early morning hours of March 5, 2014 on the freeway just outside of Ontario, Oregon. While lurking in the freeway median, Mills saw a Red Nissan Ultima pass a large Semi trailer. In his trial testimony, Mills claimed to have “visually” confirmed that the Nissan was traveling at 70 miles an hour in a 65 MPH zone.
After noticing the unwelcome visual signature of a tax feeder in his rearview mirror, Conner pulled onto an off-ramp, leaving a buffer zone of about four feet on the driver’s side of the car. Rather than following standard procedure, Mills approached the vehicle from the passenger side, which allowed him an unimpeded view of the car’s interior. That choice may be unusual for a routine traffic stop, but makes perfect sense if the objective is to contrive “reasonable suspicion” to justify a search of the vehicle.
The trooper’s performance during the encounter was a masterpiece of sociopathic manipulation, coaxing information from his detainee through an interrogation disguised as a casual conversation. 
Within seconds of approaching the car, Mills spotted a beverage cooler in the seat next to Conner.
“Is it just water in that cooler?” asked Mills asked. “No alcohol, or anything like that?”This question – like all of the others posed by the trooper in a voice oozing affected geniality -- was seen by the detainee as an opportunity to cooperate, rather than an invitation to self-incrimination. Like too many others in similar situations, Conner didn’t appreciate the trouble he made for himself by acting on that invitation.  
“There’s some Monster energy drink in there,” Conner volunteered, unaware of the fact that Mills and others in his disreputable occupation had been trained to pretend that consumption of an energy drink by a motorist is an “indicator” of drug smuggling.
All Conner was legally required to provide were his driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. He was under no obligation to answer any of the questions posed by Mills or consent to a search of his person or vehicle. Yet within minutes Mills extracted detailed information about the starting point of Conner’s trip, his destination (both the city and specific neighborhood), his occupation, his friends and associates, and his family background. 
Everything Mills said or did was intended to “build the stop” by devising an excuse to search the vehicle. Every supposedly innocuous detail wrung from Conner was presented by Mills during his January 22 testimony as justification the subsequent warrantless search of the car by his comrades in Idaho.
After briefly questioning Conner, Mills returned to his cruiser, ostensibly to run Conner’s license and registration. His actual purpose was to arrange a drug sweep of Conner’s vehicle. This probably explains why the trooper ignored two replies from his dispatcher while after turning up the radio in his cruiser so as to mask his back-channel cellphone conversation with ISP Trooper Klitch.
Two minutes later, Mills asked Conner to step out of the vehicle, which is never a good thing. He also continued the interrogation, which was even worse.
“Do you have any luggage?” Mills began. “Are you carrying any illegal drugs or large sums of cash?”
When Conner – who, once again, did himself no favors by talking to the officer– replied in the negative, Mills made the inevitable demand for a “consent” search of the vehicle. 
David Conner during a break from his trial. “How come you don’t give me the ticket and let me go?” a plaintive Conner asked after denying permission. “Is it because I’m from California?”
Replying that“I’m not going to sit and debate” the matter, Mills declared: “At this point I’m going to get ahold of a drug dog” – which was what he had planned to do from the moment he decided to stop the vehicle.
For about ten minutes Conner was left seething in his car. Roughly seventeen minutes into the stop, Mills’ dispatcher finally succeeded in getting his attention, informing him that Conner’s license had been suspended over a five-year-old unpaid traffic ticket.
A few minutes later, Mills – this time in the company of a second officer who has never been identified – approached the car again to inform Conner that he was receiving a “warning” for speeding, and a citation for driving without a valid license.
Under Oregon state law, Mills was required to act in a “community caretaking function” by preventing an unlicensed driver from operating a vehicle on public roads.  A 2005 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in a case out of Oregon decrees that “The state has the right to allow the driver to drive away with the vehicle only if he or she is able to do so in compliance with all regulations intended to ensure the vehicle’s safe operation.” (Emphasis added.)
Conner was less than a half-hour from his destination. It wouldn’t have been difficult to arrange for a friend to take over driving duties. If this didn’t work, Mills would have the option of calling for a tow operator to impound the vehicle. A subsequent custodial inventory would have found Conner’s luggage, which included a mummy-style sleeping bag in which he had concealed a 13-gallon kitchen trash bag containing a substantial quantity of marijuana.  

A custodial inventory is not a search for criminal evidence. Opening either the suitcase or the sleeping bag, or subjecting them to a drug sweep, would have required a search warrant. In the event his car had been impounded, Conner would most likely have taken his luggage with him. Under an Oregon Court of Appeals ruling handed down two years earlier, Mills would have had no authority to prevent Conner from taking his possessions with him, or to search it without a warrant once it had been removed from the impounded vehicle.
In 2009, an Oregon man named Christopher Ray Dimmick was stopped by a police officer who impounded his car after the driver produced an invalid insurance card. When Dimmick tried to retrieve a backpack from the rear of the vehicle, the officer refused to let him take it. A search of the backpack discovered a digital scale, paraphernalia, and several bags containing drug residue.
Dimmick filed a motion to suppress the drug evidence as the product of an illegal search. The Oregon Court of Appeals agreed that “the backpack and the evidence found therein should have been suppressed” and reversed the conviction arising from that discovery.
Conner admits that he was transporting marijuana. In California, he has a medical marijuana prescription issued by Dr. Howard Kerr Ragland allowing him to possess up to ten pounds of processed cannabis. That fact would avail him nothing in Oregon – where possession of several pounds of pot is still treated as a felony – or in Idaho, where marijuana use is seen as a practice akin to communing with the Devil.
If Trooper Ryan Mills had followed Oregon law, however, Conner would have escaped that encounter with little more than a fortified commitment to avoid answering a police officer’s questions.
Mills, however, made the cynical calculation that his diligent service of the lucrative prohibition racket would extenuate his violation of a law supposedly intended to protect public safety.
“I’m giving you a warning on your speed and giving you a citation for no operator’s license or suspended in California,” Mills told Conner, who was both relieved and puzzled. The driver was informed he had “an optional court appearance on April 9th at 10:00 a.m. at the Malheur County Justice Court. You’re not required to show up.”

After explaining how Conner could pay the extortion note without the hassle of a hearing, Mills handed the driver the paperwork.
“Take care,” the trooper said by way of a farewell, pivoting on his heel and striding back to his cruiser.
“I just wasn’t really sure of what was going on,” Conner recalled to me shortly after his trial. “I had no knowledge of the suspension [and] thought he would have warned me not to drive if I was not supposed to.”

After Conner drove away, Mills – once again using his personal cellphone – contacted Klitch to spring the trap.
As previously reported in this space, Trooper Klitch, who is attached to the High Desert Drug Enforcement Task Force, is a veteran road pirate of some accomplishment. He is also facing a lawsuitfor a pretext stop based on license plate profiling that led to the abduction and harassment of an innocent senior citizen named Darrien Roseen in early 2013
With the lawsuit pending against him -- and at least one other being prepared -- Klitch was reassigned to desk duty at the time of Conner’s arrest. He has since been transferred from patrol duty and is now employed as an ISP detective.
Klitch relayed the information from Mills to his colleagues Jason Cagle and Scott Tulleners, who were lounging in their respective patrol cars by the side of I-84 near the Middleton exit. Upon spotting the Red Nissan the two predators assumed pursuit vectors, tailgating Conner until he pulled into a service station.  Officer Cullen and "K-9 Officer."Officer Chris Cullen from the Parma Police Department, who had also been contacted by Klitch, quickly arrived with a drug-detecting dog named Bosco. The canine “immediately alerted to the trunk of Conner’s vehicle,” Tulleners wrote in his incident report.
Six Ziploc bags containing suspected marijuana were confiscated from the rental car. Conner was arrested and offered an invitation to become a snitch.
 “They went right after me, promising that they could make the whole thing disappear if I were willing to cooperate with the DEA, informing on people and setting up buys,” Conner told me. “I wasn’t interested, and told them I would only be speaking with an attorney.”The effort to browbeat Conner into becoming an informant continued once he was taken to jail.
“The intake deputy at the jail said to me, `How much were you caught with?’” Conner related to me. “I knew that I was being video-recorded, and I said I would only talk to a lawyer. So that officer and a couple of others tried to intimidate me, telling me that I would get `special treatment’ if I didn’t cooperate.”
Conner was able to raise bail the following day and leave the jail without enduring any further abuse. The “special treatment” was inflicted by Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor.
The DA initially offered Conner a deal in which he would serve a fixed sentence of one year in exchange for a guilty plea. That offer was revoked when Conner filed a motion to suppress the results of the search after his “driving without privileges” citation was thrown out by Justice of the Peace Margie Mahony after she watched the dashcam video.
Since the initial traffic stop was invalid, the evidence eventually obtained was the proverbial fruit of the poisoned tree. Furthermore, even if Mills’ traffic stop had been legitimate, there was no probable cause to justify the one Mills had arranged on the Idaho side of the border. In his affidavit, ISP Trooper Scott Tulleners claimed that he had personally “observed” Conner break the law. This was a lie: As Tulleners admitted in his narrative, “Prior to stopping the vehicle, Oregon State Police informed us that the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle was suspended in California and also that the drive exhibited several indicators of trafficking controlled substances.” Trooper Cagle poses with the loot. Third-hand “knowledge” isn’t the product of direct observation; it’s actually more akin to rumor. When cross-examined in Conner’s trial, neither Trooper Tulleners nor Trooper Cagle could state specifically which of them had “observed” Conner breaking the law, or which of them first heard about his suspended license.
When Conner’s attorney pointed out that the officers were retailing hearsay, Judge Bradly Ford parried that objection with a meandering and unfocused ruling that meant, in substance, “It’s good enough for Canyon County.”
By that time, Ford had already ruled against Conner’s motion to suppress the drug evidence for the same reason. Conner’s trial was little more than an exercise in validating a pre-determined outcome: If he wouldn’t cooperate with the DA’s office, Conner was going to be convicted of possessing five pounds of marijuana – and the state would not be required to prove every element of that offense.
Under Idaho law, possession of more than five pounds of marijuana carries a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison with a three-year mandatory minimum. If Conner had cooperated with the DA, Taylor was willing to stipulate that he had been caught with just underfive pounds of pot. When Conner insisted on asserting his rights, that amount suddenly increased to just over five pounds. 
The amount of marijuana used in the prosecution depends entirely on the interests of the prosecutor. 
The variable weight of the evidence used against Conner reflects a cunningly wrought ambiguity in Idaho law: The prosecutor wasn’t required to prove that Conner was actually in possession of five pounds of marijuana, but only that the tested portion extracted from the five pounds of “leafy substance” contained THC.
In her January 23 testimony, forensic investigator Keri Hogan recalled that the test sample she extracted weighed one-tenth of a gram. This minuscule amount was sufficient for a “qualitative analysis” of the material, she insisted. When asked during cross-examination why she didn’t conduct a quantitative analysis – that is, try to determine how much of that five-pound haul contained THC – Hogan replied that the Idaho crime lab doesn’t have a procedure for quantitative testing anywhere in the state.”
This systemic imprecision confers a significant advantage on the prosecutor: A cooperative defendant caught with fifty pounds of suspected marijuana can be offered a deal below the five-pound threshold, and one who intransigently defends his rights can be threatened with the theft of fifteen years of his life.  
It should also be acknowledged that the state crime lab that produces those conveniently imprecise test results employed technicians whoroutinely violated “policies and protocols” dealing with drug evidence over aperiod of several years, according to an internal audit conducted by the StatePolice in 2011. In some instances, lad technicians concealed drugs from auditors; in one particularly horrifying episode, an ISP scientistordered a large supply of GHB – the so-called “date rape drug” – and concealedat least some of it from inspectors
The Appellate Public Defender’s Office estimated that more than 1,000 drug cases – including many that had resulted in conviction and imprisonment – were affected by the scandal. Yet during Conner’s trial the prosecution insisted that the crime lab was irreproachable and its findings incontestable. 

During Conner’s trial, the assistant DA and prosecution witnesses repeatedly recited the familiar mantra about the “training and experience” of the investigating officers to justify the intuitive leaps and procedural shortcuts that resulted in Conner’s arrest. 
Troopers Cagle and Tulleners both testified that they had undergone extensive training through anarcotics enforcement consulting firm called Desert Snow.  Although both Mills and Klitch also testified about their extensive training and experience, neither specifically mentioned Desert Snow – but the routines they employed in their videotaped encounters make it clear that they were taught the same catechism. 
  Desert Snow was founded in 1989 by former California Highway Patrol Officer Joe David. Thanks in no small part to a steady stream of federal subsidies and consulting fees paid by police agencies, Snow now enjoys a seigneurial lifestyle any drug lord would envy, including a yacht and a vacation condo in Cabo San Lucas.

In 2004, with the help of grants provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Desert Snow established an unofficial police intelligence system called the Black Asphalt Electronic Networking and Notification System, which is accessible only to “registered law enforcement personnel.”
“Black Asphalt [serves] as a social hub for a new brand of highway interdictors, a group that one Desert Snow official has called `a brotherhood,’” reported the Washington Post. “Among other things, the site hosts an annual competition to honor police who seize the most contraband and cash on the highways. As part of the contest, Desert Snow encouraged state and local patrol officers to post seizure data along with photos of themselves with stacks of currency and drugs.”
This helps explain why Idaho State Troopers Cagle and Tulleners made a point of posing with the marijuana they had seized from Conner's rental car.
Winners of that annual Road Pirate competition “receive Desert Snow’s top honorific: Royal Knight,” continued the Post. “The next Royal Knight will be named at a national conference hosted in Virginia Beach” in March.   The whole point of drug interdiction, explains Desert Snow marketing director Roy Hain (a former Kane County, Illinois Sheriff’s deputy) is to “pull in expendable cash hand over fist.”
“The drug trade has proven to be recession proof,” Hain exulted in his pseudonymously published book In Roads: A Working Solution to America’sWar on Drugs. “Americans have the assets to capitalize on this industry and handsomely support public services during times of strife.” Money confiscated through the government-licensed larceny called “asset forfeiture” can be spent on “just about anything under a law enforcement agency’s roof.”
America’s freeways are arties through which flow unimaginable amounts of money that can be diverted into law enforcement agencies, writes Hain. 
“The same techniques used by those very few drug trafficking interceptors for detecting bulk drug distribution can be used to interdict the laundering of drug cash,” he insists. All that is necessary is for police departments to pay Desert Snow to tutor their officers regarding the “identifiable and predictable profiles” of people who are carrying contraband or large amounts of cash – and to convince judges and juries that drug interdiction officers possess a Jedi-level facility for assessing the hidden thoughts and motivations of the people they encounter.  
Wouldn't a Skull and Crossbones be more appropriate?“Desert Snow urges police to work toward what are known as `consensual encounters’ – beginning with asking drivers whether they mind chatting after a warning ticket has been issued,” observes the Post account. “The consensual chat gives police more time to look for indicators and mitigates later questions in court about unreasonably long traffic stops. They’re also instructed in how to make their stops and seizures more defensible to judges.
Desert Snow training sessions include units on “roadside conversational skills” and “when and how to seize currency.” The use of catch-and-release tactics involving officers in multiple jurisdictions also appears to be part of the Desert Snow curriculum.
In April of last year, reported the Post, a California Highway Patrol officer stopped a woman from Kentucky whose car was “littered with food wrappers and energy drinks.” Using the same grooming tactics Ryan Mills employed to draw David Conner into a self-incriminating conversation, the California officer learned that the woman had visited California to attend a funeral. Skeptical of that story, the officer asked the woman why she didn’t fly. Not satisfied with her answer, the trooper let her go – but used the Black Asphalt system to post her driver’s license number and a BOLO report (“be on the lookout”) to officers nation-wide. 
David Conner’s arrest was a textbook application of the Desert Snow model: A “highway interdictor” conducts a pretext stop, uses his practiced patter to engage in a “consensual encounter,” collects a few “indicators” to expand the stop into a drug search, and then sends out an intuition-based alert about the driver to fellow predators in another state. 
Once the case winds up in court, the Desert Snow alumni invoke their “training and experience” to trump objections about misconduct or violations of due process.
This routine will occasionally encounter difficulty when it is performed in front of a judge burdened with a modest respect for the Bill of Rights. The prosecutor in David Conner’s case had the tremendous advantage of presenting it before a judge in Canyon County, where the Fourth Amendment appears to be extinct.
Shortly before the trial ended, the prosecutor requested a jury instruction forbidding the panel to consider the legality of the traffic stop in Idaho. Judge Ford dutifully recited that instruction to the jury, which delivered the foreordained verdict.
“After the verdict was announced, two of the jurors apologized to my attorney,” Conner recalled to me. “They said that they really wanted to vote for acquittal because of the conduct of the police officers, but that they had to follow the judge’s instructions.”That claim is untrue, of course – but it was good enough for Canyon County.
In an interview prior to the trial, Conner made it clear that he considered the trial a mere formality -- a prelude to at least three years behind bars waiting for his appeal to run its course. By the time he is up for parole, it's possible that Idaho will have joined several neighboring states in relaxing its Sharia-grade anti-marijuana laws.
Until then, Klitch, Cagle, Tulleners and their comrades will continue to prey upon Gem State motorists in search of cash and other valuables that can be plundered -- or contraband that can be seized in pursuit of a Desert Snow "Royal Knight" award, or some similarly trite bauble. 
Anybody driving a car bearing a license plate issued by a state with a less draconian marijuana law is fair game for a pretext stop; anybody found in possession of energy drinks can expect to be subjected to a "drug sweep." Every traffic stop will follow the "consensual encounter" script provided by Desert Snow, with the officer seeking to seduce the unwitting driver into a compromising conversation.
People who find themselves on the receiving end of such treatment should understand that they cannot win at the games road pirates play -- and shut up. If they choose to offer any reply to an officer's questions, one perfectly suitable response would be: "You should know better than to ask, and I certainly know better than to answer."

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What was the real nationality of the "Ukie" soldier?

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 22:40
Since you asked for it,  here is a very informal poll just for entertainment purposes to let you guess the true nationality of the "Ukie" solider recently seen in Mariupol: (FYI, my vote: UK)

What was the real nationality of the "Ukie" soldier? USA UK Canada Australia New Zealand Ireland Other? free polls
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Glorification of terrorism: a teenager prosecuted in France because of a cartoon on Facebook

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 20:22
by numerama, 17/1/2015
Translated by Jenny Bright for Tlaxcala

A 16 year-old teenager in France was indicted for glorifying terrorism after he published a cartoon representing a character with the Charlie Hebdo journal, hit by bullets, with an accompanying ironic comment.

The current situation is, to say the least, paradoxical. Last weekend, following the terrible attacks that took place right in the middle of Paris, large rallies were held throughout the country to denounce terrorism and to remind the world of France's commitment to the fundamental principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
But since last week, it has become clear that a stiffening is taking place in France with the appearance of dozens of lawsuits based on the “defense or glorification of terrorism” offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros (or 7 years in prison and 100,000 euros fine if the Internet is involved, because the latter is now an aggravating circumstance).

For example, midweek, the Associated Press identified 54 legal proceedings running on that ground, sometimes with other grievances held against those arrested. In some cases, the judgment has already been made: fifteen months imprisonment for this Ardennes inhabitant, three months imprisonment for this one living in Toulon or a year imprisonment for this Nanterre inhabitant.

The number of cases has since increased. Le Monde listed 70 in an article published a few hours after that of the AP.


Lately, a young man of 16 was arrested and placed in custody. France 3 indicates that on Thursday, the teenager was presented before a juvenile judge to decide if he should be indicted for glorifying terrorism. For its part, the Public Prosecutor’s Department for minors of the city of Nantes asked the next day for his release on bail until the Court hearing.

His fault? Having published on his Facebook profile "a cartoon representing a character with the Charlie Hebdo journal, hit by bullets, accompanied by an ironic commentary" the TV channel explained.

[Here is the cartoon, as published by Norman Finkelstein, and which was widely pubished on the Net]


The multiplication of procedures for glorification of terrorism poses the question of the limits of freedom of expression, which seems to be getting cracked down on since the attacks. A situation that alarms many non-governmental organisations such as the League of Human Rights, which fears the reflex of drastic security measures, and Amnesty International.

“Freedom of expression does not have favourites. Now is not the time for knee-jerk prosecutions, but measured responses that protect lives and respect the rights of all” explains the NGO, which fears that some arrests made ​​in the heat of emotion and firmness in fact violate freedom of expression.

Because although everyone may agree to defend freedom of expression when it's all plain sailing into the wind, we should not forget that it also applies to messages that may be unpleasant or revolting. “If we do not believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we do not believe in it at all[1]” explains philosopher Noam Chomsky.
Does this mean that we must stand idly by? No, of course not. Some cases likely deserve legal punishment if there is anything to punish (especially if other grievances are included in the procedure). But the emotion aroused by the attacks raises fears of a general lack of discernment that does not contribute to the administration of justice in good conditions

[1] Interview by John Pilger on BBC's The Late Show, November 25, 1992. See also : “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.” Noam Chomsky, in Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992.
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Foreigners in Ukraine- Swedes with Azov battalion & American Mercs. Indeed!

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 18:25
We are always getting so called news about Russian troops in Ukraine. Unfounded of course. I can't see any reason for Russia to send troops into Ukraine, myself.

So let us speak and read of the foreigners in Ukraine, fighting alongside the Ukie fighters.
Some of you may have seen the American masquerading as a Ukrainian soldier at Saker's blog?
I will embed that video at the bottom of this post. However, let's take a look at one recently deceased, Swede, obviously a neo nazi or skin head of some sort- "volunteering" in Ukraine- Yah, I laugh. This guy was no 'volunteer'. He is clearly part of the NATO irregulars.
Check him out, readers, check him out!
Swedish volunteer with Azov Battalion dies in car accident
Dies in car accident? Two links to source- First and Second
(the second link is necessary because it provides us with the full text of the original Kyiv Post article)

Leo Sjöholm, 31, served in the Azov Battalion during the war between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbas.Yup, that's your kind hearted volunteer, do gooder. Just wanting to help and all that drivel!
Leo Sjöholm, a 31-year-old Swedish volunteer with the Azov Battalion, was killed in a car accident near the city of Berdyansk in Zaporizhya Oblast while on military duty on Jan. 8. This guy is no volunteer- He has been in Ukraine since Maidan! Recall the brutal thugs present at Maidan? Our 'volunteer' was one of them.

 Leo Sjöholm, a 31-year-old Swedish volunteer with the Azov Battalion, was killed in a car accident near the city of Berdyansk in Zaporizhya Oblast while on military duty on Jan. 8.Azov has a special subdivision of 15 foreign volunteers, Sweden’s Sjöholm and Mikael Skillt were among them. Skillt still serves there. Having come to Ukraine during the latest stage of the EuroMaidan RevolutionPrior to joining Azov, Sjöholm went through studies at Volunteer Military Organization in Sweden and served at French Foreign Legion. In Azov, he was teaching military courses, while also was studying Ukrainian.
The French Foreign Legion- chock full of sickos and psychos
The world contains more misfits, sadists, masochists, and people who enjoy fighting than we sometimes like to suppose. How else can one explain the fact that the French Foreign Legion is heavily overrecruited?  Many legionnaires took a masochistic pleasure in an unhappy life. Most men who enlist in their own national armies are no more and no less mercenaries than legionnaires.Leo's mother was none the less very proud of her son?!

In case you have doubts about Swedish Neo-nazis in Ukraine? :Swedish Neo-Nazis fighting in Ukraine
"They are not fighting for a democratic Ukraine," Anton Shekhotsov, a Ukrainian political scientist who researches right extremist movements in Europe, told Sveriges Radio (SR).  "Their vision of Urkaine is a fascist dictatorship."A Fascist Dictatorship?
How strange that the so called democratic west stands behind these terrible individuals as they inflict unimaginable suffering on civilians- Of course, it's not really strange at all.

Now, about that very American sounding Ukrainian soldier?

From the Vineyard


 Speaking of foreigners in  the Ukraine..........................

Can't forget about Greece

Greece: Exit Polls Indicate Big Win for Syriza
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Putin's counter-intuitive 8 point peace plan for the Ukraine

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 16:35
There is a lot of speculation about Putin's end goal.  They range from "Putin wants ton conquer the Ukraine and then Moldova, the Baltic States and (who knows?) even Poland" to "Putin's wants to back-stab Novorussia and sell it in exchange for Crimea".  And these are not just empty speculations, because your assessment of what is happening today will largely depend on what you believe Putin's end goal is.  For example, if you believe that "Putin is about to sell-out" theory, then the Minsk agreement is just the first phase in a general surrender of Novorussia to the Nazis.  But if you believe that Putin's end-goal is to regain control all (or most) of the Ukraine, then the Minsk agreements are just a way to keep the junta at bay while giving it the time to commit economic suicide before striking.  So what is Putin's end goal?

Putin's 8 point peace plan:

The Ukrainian newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli, UA, has recently published a fascinating article entitled "Blood Topography" which made a detailed analysis of the line of separation agreed upon in Minsk and whether it should have included the Donetsk Airport or not (it placed the airport on the Novorussian side).  But at the end of the article, the author, Tatiana Silina, writes that according to her sources, Putin's real peace plan for the Ukraine is composed of all of the following elements:
  1. The federalization of the Ukraine (even if under another label such as "de-centralization").
  2. A special status for the LNR and DNR which would include the creation of a purely local political authority not subordinated to Kiev.
  3. A full budgetary autonomy.
  4. Full freedom to chose the official language
  5. Full cultural freedom
  6. The right to "chose the vector of economic integration"
  7. The Ukraine must be declared a neutral state
  8. All of the above must be explicitly stated in the Ukrainian Constitution.  
Tatiana Silina added "Putin's methods may have changed, but not his goal: to attach the Ukraine to Russia".

Now here is where it gets really interesting.  Consider this: how is it that Silina begins by listing 8 goals which (apparently) are designed to separate the Donbass as much as possible from the Ukraine and then concludes that these goals are designed to attach the Ukraine to Russia?  This is a crucial question, so let me repeat it again:

Why does separating the Donbass from the rest of the Ukraine attach the Ukraine to Russia?

The second question is not less important, and it flows from the first one

Why does Putin not simply demand the full secession of the Donbass or even its reunification with Russia?

To understand, let's us make a simple but crucial thought experiment.  First, let's consider if the Donbass fully secedes from the Ukraine and joins Russia and then compare it with Putin's solution.

Novorussian secession:

We assume that Kiev agrees with this (out of political, economic or even military necessity).  The Donbass follows Crimea's example and pretty soon becomes the southwestern region of the Russian Federation.  The first obvious consequence is that he war stops and that the rump-Ukraine becomes much more unitary.  Having lost the potential support of Crimea (gone!) and the Donbass (gone!), other "trouble" regions (Odessa, Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhie, Chernigov, Kharkov) soon basically give up any notion of resisting Kiev and those who cannot accept a Nazi junta are forced to either shut up or relocate ("encouraged" by the Ukie-Nazi slogan "suitcase - train station - Moscow").  Furthermore, the regime at this point will say that Russia betrayed the Ukraine whose sovereignty she had promised to guarantee when the Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons and that joining NATO is the only way to preserve the rest of the country.  The population will mostly agree.  There is no Russian language constituency left, so Ukrainian becomes the only language, the Russian language media disappears.  The multi-billion effort to rebuilt the Donbass becomes "Russia's internal problem" while the US and EU "aid" is directed only at the comprador elites of the rump Ukraine (aka "privatization" and "opening up of the economy").  This new Ukraine completes the NATO encirclement of Russia from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Novorussian autonomy inside the Ukraine:

Formally, de jure, the Donbass remains part of the Ukraine and thus it remains represented at the state level: the Rada.  Because the LNR and DNR are free to chose their vector of economic development (i.e. join the trade union with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia), they begin to have a "gravitational pull" on the entire Ukrainian economy.  There us *much* more money made in lucrative contracts with Russia then there is by trying to sell something to the EU.  The Russian language and culture remain vibrant in Novorussia and the effects of that are felt throughout the Ukraine.  In contrast, the Ukrainian language becomes the "dialect of the loser", the sign of the pauper.  And because the Ukraine remains constitutionally neutral, NATO simply cannot get in.  The economies of all the regions listed above (Odessa, Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhie, Chernigov, Kharkov) become more and more dependent on the "Novorussian special economic zone".  Since the West has nothing to offer economically, it can only rely on the west-Ukrainian minority to promote the Empire's interests, which is wholly inadequate to counter the effect of the political and economic power of the eastern Ukraine.

Which of these two scenarios make more sense to you?

The first one basically hands over the Ukraine to the Empire and while the second one uses Novorussia as an unbreakable tether tying the rest of the Ukraine to Novorussia and Russia.  In other words, Tatiana Silina is absolutely correct "Putin's methods may have changed, but not his goal: to attach the Ukraine to Russia".  

The fact is that to truly (de jure) cut-off Novorussia from the rest of the Ukraine is tantamount to hand over the rest of the Ukraine to Uncle Sam and his EU puppets.  Keeping a nominally unitary Ukraine with the Donbass de facto independent makes it possible for Russia to "reel in" the entire Ukraine.  And since there can be no safety or security for either the Donbass or Russia with a NATO run Nazi regime in power in Kiev, regime change and the full de-nazification of the entire Ukraine is the only viable long term solution to this conflict.  That goal can only be achieved if Novorussia remains nominally part of the Ukraine.

The Saker
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Greece: Exit Polls Indicate Big Win for Syriza

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 14:35
Because we can't forget about Greece!
The latest and a relink.

The Latest!-Exit polls signal big Syriza win

 The polls indicate that Syriza took between 36% and 38% of the total vote, with the ruling New Democracy party a distant second with 26%-28%.
It is unclear whether Syriza has enough votes to govern the country alone.
Syriza's Alexis Tsipras has pledged to renegotiate Greece's debt arrangement with international creditors. He has also vowed to reverse many of the austerity measures adopted by Greece since a series of bailouts began in 2010. The result is being closely watched outside Greece, where it is believed a Syriza victory could encourage radical leftist parties across Europe. The exit polls suggested Syriza had won between 148 and 154 parliamentary seats. They need 151 seats for an outright majority. 'Historic victory'  Syriza hailed the exit polls as "a return of social dignity and social justice".
"What's clear is we have a historic victory that sends a message that does not only concern the Greek people, but all European peoples," spokesman Panos Skourletis told Greek television.
Syriza supporters in Athens greeted the exit polls with jubilation Relink from a 2011 post-
Debtocracy- Greece's "Debt Crisis"  
Debtocracy International Version by ThePressProject
 Unfortunately Syriza wants to keep the Euro- I would prefer each nation goes back to it's own- But, that's a story for another day. Here is hoping Syriza is not just an Obama- hope/change illusory party. 
Oh and btw- The commercial from the EU that opens this video? Watch the video and you will understand my reference.  As if the EU has any real concern or issue with that aspect of the  abuse of humanity!
Odious Debt

All of our governments incur illegitimate debt. All of them. Canadian. American. France. UK. German. Etc., That is the very core of private central banking. 
Every dollar is odious debt.
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Short news items

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 13:45
  • Poroshenko claims that a Novorussian artillery spotter was arrested in Mariupol and that soon he will give evidence to the world.  Why such a spotter would be needed for fixed targets in unclear.
  • In the meantime, Russia TV said that the initial information about a single strike was wrong, there were three strikes, one at 0900, then one at 1300 and the last one around 1330.
  • FortRuss has published a translation of an interesting article describing what a Russian military attack on the Ukrainian forces would look like.  I am not so sure that Russia would go to the bother of using such advanced technologies against the Ukrainian military, but she could.
  • For the latest map (high res and in English) of combat operations as of yesterday, see here.
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Hungary: Next Stop on the Putsch Express

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 13:14
Submitted by Andrew Kahn for Voice of América
(Twitter @akahnnyc)

Once is a conspiracy theory. Twice is a coincidence. Thrice gets people wondering. Four times and the polished denials begin as conspiracy theory has become neoliberal reality.

So it is in the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet regions. Yugoslavia, Croatia, Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine. And where next? The number has gone way beyond four - the time of polished denials. To deny the conspiracy is meaningless at this point for it is not merely a conspiracy shrouded in the minds of tin-hat quacks but it is in the open for all to see; that is, whoever wishes to open their eyes to what is happening.

Were the choice words of Victoria Nuland not enough? Was the feting of John McCain by Ukrainian fascists not enough? Or the continuous duplicity in the words of any official tasked with parroting the lines of democracy devised by the most undemocratic geopolitical Machiavellis? When duplicity and hypocrisy mix in the cauldron of Washington's witches' brew being stirred in Brussels' kitchen and served at tables in Tbilisi, Kiev, Grozny, and now Budapest.

And why Budapest? Why now? Why Hungary? Perhaps George Soros sees his days being numbered and he has saved his country for last. A collusion with the elites to rule his own country. Rather ironic that the NATO operations for liberty are now knocking on the door of Mr. Soros' country. Or, perhaps, less conspiratorial - for who wants to peddle in conspiracies? - it is simply the latest salvo in the war to prolong the life of a dying United States-NATO hegemon.

One wonders whether the denizens of think tanks in Europe and the United States lay their heads down at night and count Russians and Chinese and any member of the Global South jumping over rapidly shrinking stacks of US dollars and Euros. One Russian Nationalist, Two Chinese Communists, Three Iranian Scientists. Like a drumbeat they see the alliance of Russia and China, Russia and its former allies, China and Africa, Iran and South America - the world with itself, devoid of a cowering pandering to the dictates of the post-WW2 leaders of freedom. Perhaps they see this as their eyes close on feather down pillows. They see this and they know the nightmare is nigh. A pill they need. A pill called Putsch that is branded and copyrighted with its own bold imprint on the pill - "Civil Society Democracy".

But I digress...why Hungary? Just a few years ago, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was going to become the darling of Washington. He was a right-leaning centrist of sorts whose views on immigrants would make Republican xenophobes proud but was sufficiently in agreement with the European Union and global capitalism when it came to economics and foreign policy. He was our buddy who could be counted on to serve as a bulwark against a possibly rising Russia under Vladimir Putin. But time passed and we find ourselves in the mid-20teens with the European Union in free-fall, wracked by a collapsed economy and Western European nations caught between liberal nebbishes and xenophobic rightists. And as time passed, Prime Minister Orban cleverly decided to see which way the winds were blowing and they were blowing towards the Kremlin. Center-right governments in Europe are being outflanked on their Right yet still slavishly remain within the EU paradigm - a suicide wish when farther-right populism is rightfully (if from the wrong ideological rationale) calling them out as puppets of Brussels. Public support for austerity is not that fashionable among blue-collar workers in Europe it should be noted and Orban was attuned to this.

So whether from a desire to stay in power or an actual interest in helping his right-leaning Christian-minded constituency that had been left to rot by Europe in the new post-Soviet world of liberalism, Orban decided to shift from ally of the West alone to hedging his bets between the West and Russia. Yet 2012 may have been the turning point when he left puppet status and he spurned IMF demands (more on this later) and began growing closer to President Putin who by this time had become the ultimate thorn in the side of NATO. A resurgent Russia was always being countered by the West - whether in Chechnya or Georgia - but the game had suddenly intensified with President Putin deciding that Syria would not be lost, Crimea would be re-unified with Russia and Russia would stand up once again to the West.

This move by Orban to become part of the Russian orbit - defined as any country that does not swallow any fact-free attacks on Russia - marked him for targeting. Not only was Orban talking to Russia and attempting to navigate a non-aligned course but he was supportive of the boogeyman South Stream pipeline that Russia was planning - a pipeline that would navigate territory not controlled outright by the West. For a former Communist country to put this red flag in front of the West was, of course, verboten. Nevermind that Hungary had every economic reason to be non-aligned and find economic benefit from wherever it could in the face of EU collapse. In realpolitik, non-aligned means sleeping with the enemy - the Russian Bear.

Some may see Hungary's moves - both its warming relations with Russia and support for the South Stream pipeline - as meaningless but for the United States every little country, every little leader, every little rebel group that opposes hegemony is a threat to be dealt with whether they are true rebels or are former allies like Orban who are now merely asking for some economic wiggle-room outside of IMF and Brussels dictates. And if there is really an honest questioning as to whether one country looking to have Russia as an economic partner is considered a threat one needs only to see the fate of the other Viktor - Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine.

Indeed, even before Orban's moves towards Russia, it was his steps in regards to the banking industry that first set the international world - or at least the "world" as defined by the borders of Europe and the United States - on its head.

At the end of 2011, the Hungarian Parliament voted in favor of banking changes which would place the national bank under closer control of the elected government with the vice presidents of the bank to be selected by the prime minister as opposed to appointment by the Bank's president. It should be noted clearly that this was a 293-4 vote and not merely a party-line vote dominated by Orban's Fidesz Party. When complaints are made by Hungarian opposition that Orban was taking dictatorial control remember this 293-4 number. Additionally approved at that time was a merger between the national bank and its financial regulator - essentially, Hungary had decided that the Bank would be under civilian control as opposed to an "impartial" leader which, as we recognize, is often determined not by impartiality but rather by subservience to international Capital's wishes.

It was at this time the European Central Bank (ECB) began voicing concerns about the "independence" of the Hungarian National Bank and in the previous year of 2010, Orban did not renew a previous standby loan from the IMF, "opting instead for market financing and to keep the IMF out of government economic policies"i.

For Western Capital, this was clearly a slap in the face and a troubling sign that Hungary under Viktor Orban would use the IMF as it suited them as opposed to other way around. Orban had decided that taxes on the banking sector as well the nationalization of private pension funds was more important than renewing IMF standby loans.

The usual key words are being bandied about by the guardians of democracy. Orban is destroying civil society, cracking down on NGOs, opposing liberal democracy and he is becoming a dictator. Of course, no small reason for this Western claptrap is Orban’s decision to spurn IMF suggestions to cut pensions and remove a tax on banks. Again, one must recall that Orban is not anti-IMF by nature – having been negotiating with the IMF – but realizes that at a certain point, manure is simply manure. As he noted in 2012 in regards to IMF loan conditions he spurned: the deal “contains everything that is not in Hungary's interests.”ii This was followed in 2013 by the head of Hungary’s Central Bank, Gyorgy Matolcsy, writing a letter to IMF head Christine Lagarde and telling her to shutter the IMF’s Budapest office as its services were no longer needed.iii Hungary would fully repay its IMF loan with a bold “Adios” on the final check.

In a 2013 article in the New York Times, it notes, regarding the then-newly appointed National Bank Director Gyorgy Matolcsy:

There is also concern among economists that Mr. Matolcsy will seek to emulate the economic stimulus

known as quantitative easing used by the U.S. Federal Reserve or Bank of England - essentially, a way

of pumping money in the economy. That, economists warn, could prove perilous in a small country

like Hungary that cannot finance itself without foreign capital.iv

In essence, in the name of banking freedom and independence, the European Union, IMF and ECB were looking to keep their own monopolistic control over Hungary and perpetuate a master-servant dynamic that they promulgate and enforce with an iron fist in most of the developing and post-Soviet world. Hungary's decision to break from this was seen by the West (a grouping that should not be seen as including its stepchildren in Eastern and Central Europe) as tantamount to revolt. As the New York Times article hinted at, Hungary was looking for self-reliance and had begun to chart a course that would not lead to IMF loans or independent loans from Western European countries that it was in the process of politely spurning.

Not only was Hungary moving to economic independence - despite protestations that it was losing independence - but Hungary had made a conscious decision, as noted before, to be non-aligned in the rapidly deteriorating relations between the West and Russia. Strategically placed near Russia and within the region of an expanding NATO, this too was not to be accepted. The NATO encirclement of Russia could not be allowed to hit a roadblock with a pesky right-populist government in Hungary.

So it is that Viktor Orban has gone from reportedly praising U.S. Senator John McCain in 2008 as a "national hero in the most original sense of this expression" to John McCain now speaking of Hungary under Orban as "a nation that’s on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-Fascist dictator”.v

Warming relations with Russia, taxes on banks, nationalizing pension funds, spurning the IMF, traditionalist morality…all left for Orban to do to antagonize his former allies would be to send troops to support Hezbollah or some such effrontery.

Now there is never a country or leader who tries to break free of neoliberal policies and align with the enemies of Western freedom that is not marked for regime change for lack of a more diplomatic term. So it is that the question arises as to who in Hungary would take up the mantle as the reformer who will save Hungary from running headfirst – and intentionally - down the path to an illiberal democracy. In the words of Orban himself:

“…the new state that we are building is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state. It does not deny foundational values of liberalism, as freedom, etc.. But it does not make this ideology a central element of state organization, but applies a specific, national, particular approach in its stead.”vi

This is the point where it gets difficult for the United States and Brussels. Finding a neoliberal apparatchik in Hungary will be a wee bit harder than it was in Ukraine. While Ukraine had neoliberals who had no qualms about using fascist muscle and US State Department funds to gain power, Hungary is not so simple. Hungary has fascists in the form of the surging Jobbik Party that is pushing Orban from the right, a Fidesz Party of which Orban is a member that is charting a self-proclaimed illiberal path, a Socialist Party that barely registers 10% support and several minor parties with minimal support.

The likely attempt at this point will be a cobbled-together coalition of Fidesz officials who will bought back to support right-leaning liberal policies that Orban once supported, “reformed for the camera” Jobbik blue collar voters, apolitical but corruption-opposing college students, random members of the nebulously-defined civil society and most valuably capitalist technocrats to round out the bit. Blue collar workers as the goon squads fighting for a dystopic utopia where civil society’s technocrats will rule with a punch to the buttocks of the workers in the name of fiscal responsibility. Welcome back IMF.

Enter the Two Vs – Zsolt Varady and Gabor Vago – one the entrepreneur and the other the technocrat-politician.

To begin with, we have Mr. Varady, the capitalist tech entrepreneur and founder of the now-defunct Hungarian social media website If his name means nothing to you, etch it in your mind as his name was quietly making the rounds in reports on Hungarian protests in early 2015.

Politically, Mr. Varady came to (im)maturity this past October in his novel lawsuit against every Hungarian political party for the crime of “creating and maintaining a tax system that compels enterprises to commit tax fraud and tax evasion”. No real complaints with the dismantling of social welfare programs following the collapse of the socialist bloc. No. Simply a lawsuit blaming political parties for forcing corporations into tax fraud and evasion. Of all the complaints that could be laid before the feet of successive Hungarian governments, Mr. Varady decided on this.

Mr. Varady noted that his purpose in filing the legal proceedings - which he notes are merely “of secondary importance {to}…the related PR” was to improve “tax-paying morale”vii “To achieve an optimum tax system the state should be radically reformed. I cannot do that alone,” he says. “We need the support of considerable sections of society. The activities of civil society can serve the much needed umbrella for these messages.viii To paraphrase: Business doesn’t like Orban’s taxes so the working class which we will call “civil society” will serve our interests by being the democratic face for our plans to change the tax code in support of a minority.

Strike one in favor of Mr. Varady in the eyes of the West and IMF. Reform the tax code. Yet what of his political plans? Is he an idealist who wants to push a political agenda that may eventually conflict with foreign support for an Orban putsch? Well not at all. Indeed, he promotes as his next step in politicking the creation of “a website that helps people in civil society organization” which will be funded by “crowd-funding” and, here’s the kicker: “Perhaps we can also receive assistance from foreign foundations and probably émigré Hungarians will also chip in.”ix

One can see the wheels turning in Mr. Varady’s eyes. He of the recent “civil society” protests in Hungary. He of the white knight status who can step into the void as the bridge between all the necessary groups to bring democracy to Hungary and freedom from fascism to civil society. The strategy of street protest led by “civil society” is classic for who can oppose the desires of civil people? But keep his above comment in mind. “We” - meaning his class of neoliberal entrepreneurs seeking help from “foreign foundations” – “need the support of considerable sections of society” who will be the “umbrella for these messages”. Yes my friends, the pictures of civil society will be broadcast while the true agenda will be hidden. The goal, as Mr. Varady notes will be “new foundations” led by “teams of experts that are competent in their respective fields and are committed”x otherwise known as malleable technocrats.

Mr. Varady will be the counterpoint to Orban. An unelected Western-friendly gentleman simply looking to aid civil society against an elected modern-day “Mussolini” as Newsweek so appellated him.xi Mr. Varady will reverse the so-called “Putinisation of Hungary” and return ill-defined liberal democracy to the nation.

Lest anyone question Mr. Varady’s bona fides in being ready for the struggle, he has set the stage for force to be used by noting, despite lack of concrete examples, that “the Establishment” (read: the Orban government) “only understands the language of force”.

Not to be outdone by Mr. Varady is Gabor Vago, the fresh-faced but apparently politics-weary technocrat who bolted from the Politics Can Be Different (LMP) Party in early 2014 after alleged intra-party power struggles. Similar to Mr. Varady, his is a belief that politics is apparently déclassé and that a non-partisan movement is required. Anti-politics is the modus operandi of such civil society figures and one that plays perfectly into the hands of outside influences which will use the feint of anti-politics to push what ultimately becomes a purely economic-political putsch.

Many of the same talking points used by Mr. Varady were echoed by Gabor Vago in an interview with the business weekly Figyelo. Speaking of a December protest that he organized, Mr. Vago noted that the protest which included a punk concert - which he referred to as a “meta message” – was held for the purpose of promoting “a shift in the attitude of the tax authority”xii while using the protestors free-floating discontent as the muscle/street voice of the protest.

Mr. Vago, when asked about the next step replied: “Emphasis should gradually shift onto building communities…With time those micro communities can form a network.”xiii Perhaps based on his former political background, Mr. Vago was less circumspect than Mr. Varady in terms of speaking of the need for “power”. When queried regarding this issue he answered: “True, a change would require power. But that will only become a relevant question later.” When asked “When” he replied: “Perhaps within a year, perhaps in three or seven years’ time. One has to wait until the opportune moment.”xiv

As noted before, the amalgam protest movement requires technocrats and as Mr. Vago noted, without using the word “technocrat”:

Any change of elites would require the participation of experts. We need the support of people who took part in the transition [from Communism to the multi-party system] but not necessarily as politicians. People who have proved their talent in whatever field and think that the present regime is not viable. People who think their integrity puts them at a disadvantage and wish to turn Hungary into a country where you can be honest and competitive at the same time. Building from grass roots does not mean that we only organize ourselves in student clubs and romkocsma (alternative art pubs). We wish to approach people in all walks of life, ranging from top managers to unskilled rural workers.xv

In the same interview he was questioned as to how these groups will be coordinated:

Q: During the demonstrations against the Internet tax you were pleased to have involved young people who had been unaffected by politics until then. But only a few weeks on, only a fraction of those young people took to the streets. How can you involve people in long-term processes that hardly have any affinity to politics?

A: We need to identify the opinion leaders in existing groups and train them how to run such communities. Once we have won those opinion leaders, they will bring along their friends and the friends of friends. Demonstrations as such are not our ultimate goal, instead, to shape a democratic political community throughout Hungary.xvi

In essence, there will be a politico-technocrat elite overseeing the organization and release into society of nebulously-defined “opinion leaders” who will train people to run civil society “communities”. In theory it sounds wonderful – civil society having its rights. Yet rhetoric aside, the track record of Western-backed democratic upheavals needs to be viewed. The picture, as we know, is not too pretty of a sight whether in Georgia, Ukraine or elsewhere in the region.

Hungary is next in line for “democratic change” brought by the winds of the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy mixed with a touch of destabilization tactics from the CANVAS playbook of Srda Popovic.xvii

The question as to whether Hungary will meet the wrath of Washington and Brussels is not so much “if”, but “when”.

Once is conspiracy theory. Twice is coincidence. And now it has become reality.

viii Ibid.
ix Ibid.
x Ibid.
xiii Ibid.
xiv Ibid.
xv Ibid.
xvi Ibid.
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Check out this "Ukrainian" fighter

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 23:47
Check out this video shot today in Mariupol following the artillery strike which killed and wounded scores of people.  A Ukrainian journalist approaches what she believe is a Ukrainian solider (he is in Ukrainian uniform and has an AK on this back) and asks him "tell me, what happened here?".

You can listen to his reply by yourself.  No translation needed.

The Saker

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Assault on the New Terminal combat footage 16-18 January "Donbas under fire" documentary [eng sub]

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 19:22
This documentary has some amazing footage of the combats at the airport, including night combat.  Absolutely amazing & highly recommended.

The Saker

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A most unpleasant thing to post

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 14:25
Dear friends,

While I often post stuff I don't agree with, this time around I am going to post something which I find most disturbing, but which I strongly believe has to be aired.

As you might have heard, the mayor of Pervomaisk, Evgeny Ischenko, has been shot.  Some (many?) are accusing Plotnitsky, just as in the case of Batman. I am not taking sides here, but I find the following video very disturbing because it does show something weird: Plotnitsky seemingly praising Ischenko and the footage of the latter absolutely infuriated by Plotnitsky and Zakharchenko.  Notice that Ischenko also speaks some nonsense, for example when he praises Cossack units and their commanders when, in reality, Cossack forces are, by and large, 2nd rate and are not trusted with any critical sectors.  The folks who made the video, FallenUSSoliders, clearly have a fixation on Jews, they also buy into the "Russian oligarchs" betraying Novorussia narrative, but you don't have to agree with that to notice that two fierce opponents of Plotnitsky have been recently killed and that regardless of whether this is true of not there are plenty of folks in Novorussia who feel not only betrayed by Russia, but even attacked by the Kremlin or Russian oligarchs.  Here is the video:

Okay, just to make things clear: I am not endorsing this version, nor am I blaming Plotnitsky, Zakharchenko or anybody else.  I am just saying that this version is gradually acquiring more and more traction and that his is very bad for Novorussia.  Personally, I think that Plotnitsky should resign until he can clear his name because regardless of whether is is to blame for what is going on, he is clearly not a consensus figure and many key figures do not trust him.  As for Zakharchenko, who apparently is far more popular, he needs to sit down with the "opposition" and try to achieve a broad consensus in specific key issues.  For example, Zakharchenko has now declared a) that the ceasefire is over and b) the the Minks agreements are de-facto dead.  Okay - he said it. Nobody made him.  Now stick to it even if the Kremlin is unhappy about it.  One of Zakharchenko's key roles is to be an effective representative of the Novorussian interests before Putin (who has first and foremost Russian, not Novorussian, interest to defend, as it should be) but for that he also needs to convince his people, the Novorussians, that he is not Putin's puppet but their leader.

There is a prefect precedent for this: contrary to what the doubleplusgoodthinking AngloZionist propaganda says, Hezbollah is not Iran's puppet at all.  The relationship between Iran and Hezbollah is one of partners and allies, even if clearly one partner is bigger and more powerful then the other.  And, yes, Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah are followers of Ali Khamenei, but the Iranians are wise enough to always treat Hezbollah as a respected friend, not a puppet.  Putin and Zakharchenko need to follow that mode as at the end of the day, it yields a far stronger alliance then the subservient "puppet - puppeteer" model (normally used by the USA and West Europeans).

One more thing: I don't know where the authors of this video got the idea that Plotnitskii is a Jew, but I found no evidence of that. 

Anyway, I am posting all this just to make a simple point: there are problems inside Novorussia and in the relationship between Russia and Novorussia which greatly weaken the good side and which can be exposited by the Nazis.  Perceptions matter and if these issues are not addressed, things will just get worse.

The Saker
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Just an "honest" mistake this time? Maybe

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 13:15
By now most of you would have heard about the artillery strike on the civilian outskirts of Mariupol.  The Nazis blamed the Novorussians, who denied it.  Turns out the locals saw it all and even filmed it.  Bottom line is this: this appears to be an "honest" mistakes, meaning that the Ukrainians were probably trying to hit the advancing Novorussians but that their salvo came in short (Ukie artillerists do not exactly have a reputation of being snipers...).  Here is a map sent to me this morning by a friend:

On the ground, it looked like this:

Ugly and scary, for sure.  And horrible for those who were hit, but what is forgotten in this story is that this is what Donetsk has been suffering every day and what Gorlovka is getting hit by daily, but in truly massive amounts.  And, unlike in Mariupol, Donetsk and Gorlovka are getting hit like that deliberately.

What the events in Mariupol do show, however, is that regardless of the expertise and caution taken by Novorussian artillery (it is considered very skilled as it always aims at precision strikes at Ukrainian positions in order to prevent the latter from hitting the Novorussian civilians), there are major risks in an operation to take a city like Mariupol.  If this time around it was probably just an "honest" mistake (to the degree that the word "honest" can be used for junta forces), the next time around it could be a deliberate SBU false flag.  For example, imagine this:

You are Poroshenko or Nalivaichenko and you asked the USA and the EU to declare the Novorussians "terrorists".  And then, for some reason, both the USA and the EU declined to do so (they did decline).  How would you go about proving them wrong?  The MH-17 and the recent civilian bus false flags failed, those pesky westerners still don't want to declare 7 million people as terrorists, so what would you do about it?


So the risk is real and huge.  So far, the Novorussians have played their hand very well, but their offensive on Mariupol has me nervous all for the same reasons as the first time around.  At least now they are moving in slowly and making darn sure that their lines of supply remain open and secure.  Still, this is a very dangerous situation and the events this morning show that even an "honest" Ukie mistake can be immediately turned into political ammunition to flame anti-Russian hysterics in the West.

The Saker
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A short course in Ukrainian history

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:07
Check out this three-part short "History of the Ukraine" video series by Jimmie Moglia, an Italian author living in the USA (check out his website too: Your Daily Shakespeare and the section on Historical Videos).  Very good series, enjoy!

The Saker

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A key day in the Ukrainian Conflict?

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 20:14
by Alexander Mercouris

This may turn out to be a critical day in the evolution of the Ukrainian conflict.

1. The Russian Security Council met today. We do not (obviously) have a full account but Putin's website has provided some details.

Strikingly, Putin referred to the junta as "official Kiev" and not "the Ukrainian government" or "the Ukrainian side". He also referred to the two east Ukrainian republics as "the Donetsk People's Republic" and "the Lugansk People's Republic".

This is the closest Putin has yet come to since Poroshenko's election in implying that the junta is not the legitimate authority in the Donbass and that the two NAF republics are.

2. Putin also pointedly referred to "criminal orders" coming from "official Kiev".

3. Putin has also had a telephone conversation with Lukashenko, who is a key partner in relation to the Ukrainian conflict. Again we have scarcely any information about what was discussed but Putin will have wanted to ensure that Lukashenko remains on board. I expect a phone call to Nazarbayev shortly.

4. We now know from comments made by Shuvalov at Davos that Beijing is being consulted all the time. The key point about what happened at Davos is that Shuvalov made it absolutely clear that Russia will not submit to sanctions and Kostin of VTB gave a very clear warning against any attempts to exclude Russian banks from the SWIFT payments system. The Financial Times has a good summary of the comments Shuvalov and Kostin made and I attach it below.

5. The Russian Justice Ministry meanwhile has formally banned a number of Ukrainian organisations including Right Sector. Some of us are surprised that they had not been banned already.

6. Zakharchenko has said that the Minsk Memorandum no longer applies. This is not the same document as the Minsk Protocol, which was the original ceasefire agreement that was agreed on 5th September 2014. Rather, it is the technical follow-up document that purported to set out the ceasefire line and which provided for the withdrawal of heavy weapons, which was agreed on 19th September 2014. Neither the Minsk Protocol nor the Minsk Memorandum have ever been implemented. By saying the Minsk Memorandum no longer applies Zakharchenko has freed the NAF to pursue offensive operations, which is currently what it is doing.

7. Lastly, Zakharchenko has also again been saying that the DPR's/LPR's decision to secede from the Ukraine is final.

Now it may be that all these discussions and conversations and comments are uncoordinated and do not in total amount to anything. Perhaps there has been no change in Russian policy. However they do look like a hardening of position and perhaps give clues that the Russians have at least for the moment given up hope of the diplomatic approach. They also suggest a preparation for a battening down of the hatches in case another round of sanctions is on the way.

From the Financial Times:

One of Russia’s top bankers on Friday warned that excluding the country from the Swift banking payment system would be tantamount to “war”.

The suggestion that Russia could be shut out of Swift triggered widespread alarm in Moscow’s financial community when it was floated by western politicians last summer. Russia’s banks rely heavily on the Belgium-based payments system for both domestic and international payments. However, the move was at the time considered too punitive a sanction, being described by one adviser as “the nuclear option”.

Speaking at a panel in Davos on Friday Andrei Kostin, chief executive of VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, said: “If there is no Swift, there is no banking . . . relationship, it means that the countries are on the verge of war, or they are definitely in a cold war.”

“The next day, the Russian and American ambassadors would have to leave the capitals,” he added.

Mr Kostin’s comments highlight how the west’s sanctions regime is creating a sense of anger and defiance among the Russian political and business elite.

“The more you press Russia, I do not think the situation will change,” he said, pointing out that the country was moving to reduce its reliance on western payment systems such as Swift.

“We have already created a domestic alternative to the Swift system . . . and we need to create alternatives internationally.”

He drew attention to efforts under way between Russia and China to create a separate platform of their own, outside western control.

Igor Shuvalov, Russia’s deputy prime minister, echoed this theme. “We are developing our eastern vector,” Mr Shuvalov declared, pointing out that although efforts to build links with China had been under way before the crisis, they had dramatically intensified since sanctions started, as Russia looked for alternatives to the west.

Mr Shuvalov said that the so-called Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were ready to help each other in a financial crisis too. “Large Chinese investors are coming to us,” he said.

The “pivot to Asia” has become a key part of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy since the breakdown in relations with the west over Ukraine. While several flagship deals have been signed, such as the $400bn contract to supply Russian gas to China for 30 years last May, few Russian policy makers or businesspeople believe China can save the Russian economy from a painful recession.

“The present situation looks like it is softer than [the 2008-09 financial crisis] but we are going into a long crisis situation and it may be protracted,” Mr Shuvalov said.

But he added that foreign pressure would not succeed in changing the political leadership of the country.

“We will survive any hardship in the country — eat less food, use less electricity,” he said.

Alexei Kudrin, the respected former finance minister, predicted Russia could see capital outflows of $90bn this year after a record $151bn in 2014. “We should clearly understand the price we are paying for sanctions,” he said.
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Novorussian SITREP January 23

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 15:14
Over the past 48 hours not much has changed.  


The airport is confirmed fully in Novorussians hands and the main combats are in the towns of Peski, Avdeevka, Krasnogorovka and Marinka which are shown in black on the map below:

Combats to protect DonetskIn all these locations the Novorussian Armed Forces are on the offensive in order to push back the Ukrainian Repression Forces.  If the Novorussian succeed in booting the Junta forces out of these cities they will have to operate an important retreat as the terrain behind these cities open steppes were the Ukrainian artillery cannot hide.  In other words, if the Novorussians take these town the terror attacked on Donetsk will stop.


Gorlovka is still being hammered by the Ukrainian artillery which has resumed using cluster munitions.


The Novorussian artillery regularly conducts strikes against the outskirts of the city were the Ukrainians have dug in.

The big news of the day is political: Zakharchenko has declared that the Novorussians are done taking prisoners and that they have no more interest in prisoner exchanges (which exchanged Ukrainian prisoners not for Novorussian soldiers, but for random citizens, criminal and even mentally retarded people).

In the meantime, the Minister of Defense of the Donetsk Republic has declared that 597 bodies have been recovered from the Donetsk Airport and that more are under the rubble.  Keep in mind that what the Ukrainians like to call a "brigade" is usually a battalion-size force, about 600-800 men.  In other words, it is quite possible that the entire 93rd "Zhitomir" Brigade whose commander was taken prisoner by the Novorussians has basically ceased to exit.

I would argue that it is quite possible that the Ukrainian front might break down and that the Novorussians could liberate a good part of historical Novorussia. 

As for Poroshenko, he still promises a unitary Ukraine, only one official language and a total war against the "terrorists".

Regardless of the Kremlin's efforts to cool down the situation, I don't see any reason at all for the combats to stop.  And since Voentorg is working at full capacity, there is a good chance that Moscow is still pretending that a negotiated solution can be found when, in reality, the Kremlin has already decided that no negotiated outcome is possible, at least not with the freaks currently in power in Kiev.

The Saker
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False flags and how to start a 'colour revolution' in Argentina

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 09:34
by Mario

How it starts:

1987–88 Iran signed three agreements with Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission. The first Iranian-Argentine agreement involved help in converting the U.S. supplied Tehran Nuclear Research Centre (TNRC) reactor from highly enriched fuel to 19.75% low-enriched uranium, and to supply the low-enriched uranium to Iran.

December 1992: The US Embassy in Buenos Aires informs the Argentine government that a continuation of the Iran-Argentine nuclear cooperation agreement is not acceptable to Washington.

In March 1992 the Israel Embassy and in July 1994 the Jewish AMIA building blew up, allegedly caused by car bombs.

Independent Argentine investigations and the initial Charles Hunter (FBI) report shows that both explosions, based on the surrounding damage, is inconsistent with the alleged car bomb theory.

Contrary to all material evidence, the Israeli government and thereafter Washington pressure President Carlos Saul Menem to insist that the alleged car bombs were placed by Iranians in cooperation with Hezbollah.

The judicial process ends nowhere until President Nestor Kirchner appoints judge Nisman in 2005 to start a fresh investigation. Nisman has close contacts with the US Embassy, US attorneys dealing with anti-terrorism investigations and some members of Argentine's SIDE (Intelligence Secretariat).

In 2013 Nisman instructs Interpol to issue warrants against a myriad of notable Iranians and a Lebanese:

- Hashemi Rafsanjani, then President of Iran
- Ali Akbar Velayati, then Foreign Minister
- Ali Fallahijan, then Chief of Intelligence
- Mohsen Rezai, then Commander of the Revolutionary Guard
- Imad Mougnieh, Chief of the External Security Service of Hezbollah
- Ahmed Vahidi, then Commander of the "Al Quds" (Jerusalem) Forces
- Mohsen Rabbani, former diplomatic representative in Argentina
- Ahmad Ashagri, former diplomatic representative in Argentina
- Hadi Soleimanpour, former Ambassador of Iran in Argentina."

President Cristina de Kirchner expressed several times her disbelieve in the Iranian connection (some US officials have publicly questioned whether there was evidence for Iranian involvement [James Cheek]) and used Washington's recent opening of consultations with Iran as an opportunity to negotiate an Iran-Argentine "truth commission" to be made up of five independent judges, none of whom will be from the two countries.

The opposition and the Jewish lobby challenged this agreement.

Finishing touch:

There will be elections in Argentina soon and Cristina de Kirchner cannot be re-elected and there is a wide polarization of candidates contesting the mandate, but the polls show that Kirchner's supported Scioli could win on the second round.

Enter Judge Nisman: He files a complaint that President Cristina de Kirchner had conducted secret negotiations with Iran through non-diplomatic channels, offering to cover up the involvement of Iranian officials (dropping the Interpol warrants) so Argentina could start swapping grain for much-needed oil from Iran. He orders the freezing of all assets of Cristina de Kirchner.

The complaint is based on “alleged evidence” given by (Stiuso who allegedly had good contacts with MOSSAD) the recently fired boss of counter-intelligence of SIDE and other obscure agents.

The opposition media circulates this complaint widely, ignoring the official statement of Interpol that there was never a request from the Argentine government to drop warrants against the Iranians.

The complaint has no legal base if there was an “intend” to cover up. Argentine law penalizes the act and not the intend, this is being ignored again by the opposition media.

The day judge Nisman is invited by the opposition to appear in Congress, he is found dead in his apartment.

While Nisman's complaint would not have lasted few days, his death (suicide or not) will elevate him as a victim of Government conspiracy, the media will insist on this.

Social networks did quickly convert the “Je suis Charlie” to 'Yo soy Nisman' and public demonstrations are being organized daily and numbers are increasing.

Missing still is somebody from the US Embassy distributing cookies. 
Note from the Saker:
For context, please see:
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