Spy Games 932


Russia has its GRU in addition to its KGB (now FSB and SVR). The UK has its Defence Intelligence in addition to its MI6 and GCHQ. Much less high profile, Defence Intelligence is more analytical than operative – as indeed is GRU, Skripal was an analyst.

Defence Intelligence had its proudest modern moment when it refused to endorse MI6’s pack of lies on Iraqi WMD, and earned the hatred of MI6 and of Blair and Straw as a result. This was confirmed by the Chilcot report which stated that MI6 even actually hid some of the intelligence material from the Defence Intelligence Service to prevent their rubbishing it.

I hope you will forgive me for pointing out that the opposition of the Defence Intelligence to the Blair Dirty Dossier was first revealed in my memoir Murder in Samarkand, a decade before the Chilcot report confirmed it. It was one of the many reasons Straw attempted to block publication, and one of the many things revealed in my memoir – including of course the UK’s complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition – which the government claimed to be untrue, but in due course has been proved to be 100% accurate. As it should be, as Murder in Samarkand only recounts things I personally witnessed first hand.

As this is the last day of Banned Books Week, I hope you might further forgive me (and I know I am pushing it) if I mention my prequel to Murder in Samarkand, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo. I view it as a much better book, and I was bitterly disappointed when my publisher, who had bravely defied the government lawyers over Murder in Samarkand, backed down and pulled the publication of The Catholic Orangemen due to libel threats from mercenary commander Tim Spicer. It thus became a Banned Book. I privately printed and sold 1,000 copies, and as technology advanced more recently made it available on print on demand. (I know, Amazon…) But it remains a real regret it has reached so few people. You are welcome to download it entirely free here.
Anyway, after that lengthy advertorial let me get back to the DIS. DIS remain rather more attached to the truth than MI6, so when Defence Minister Gavin Williamson tweeted out a thrilled endorsement of Bellingcat’s work on Colonel Chepiga, DIS urgently advised that he delete it. Which he did.

Which is not to say DIS are sure it is not Chepiga; rather they believe – as would anyone with half a brain – that the Bellingcat photo falls a long way short of proof. The British security services have been unable to stand up the ID with facial recognition technology. The experts are describing the Boshirov/Chepiga identification as “possible”.

I have this information from an impeccable Whitehall source, who told me there is a concern in the security services that runs like this. They genuinely believe Boshirov and Petrov are GRU agents and the would-be assassins. (I judge that my source themself believes the security services really do think this). Bellingcat, while they are sometimes fed security service material, did not in fact get fed the Chepiga material by the CIA or MI6, whether or not through a cutout. The security services are worried the Chepiga ID may be a blind alley fed to Bellingcat’s sources by the FSB. If the UK government endorses it, this could be followed by the Russians producing Chepiga and apparently discrediting the entire British narrative.

Hence the fact no charge has been laid against Chepiga, and the charges are still in the name of “Boshirov”, plus the fact that no British minister or official has named Chepiga, with only the fool Williamson stepping out of line and being slapped down.

Please note I am not endorsing the views and beliefs of the British intelligence services; I am reporting them.

Russia is fascinating at the moment. Komsomolskaya Pravda reports Ministry of Interior identification experts unofficially endorsing the Chepiga/Boshirov identity. Now there is no way these experts in the Ministry of the Interior – who would not be hard for the authorities to single out – would have done that for Komsomolskaya Pravda without an official nod. Either the Russians are indeed egging on the British into a false identification, or some inter-agency rivalry is afoot in Russia. This follows on the very open report in Kommersant – which is very close to Putin – that opinion was divided in Chepiga’s home village.

None of which brings us an awful lot closer to the truth of what happened in Salisbury, which I suspect is a great deal more complicated than any official narrative. But it is a fascinating peek into a shadowy world most people never see inside, with which I was once familiar.


932 thoughts on “Spy Games

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  • Matt

    BREAKING: Dr. Hassan Ugail, Professor of Visual Computing at the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford, has used his world-class face matching algorithms they even use AI), to successfully match the photo of Chepiga provided by Bellingcat and “Boshirov”s passport photo provided by the British!

    Following a press enquiry, we ran a few of our face matching algorithms on the photo of Anatoliy Chepiga and that claimed to be of Ruslan Boshirov. The results are conclusive. They are indeed the same person.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Doe5EjIX4AA7E7P.jpg

    https://twitter.com/ugail/status/1047008933045592064

    Dr. Ugail is no amateur. His principal research interest is in the area of Visual Computing. Back in my Image Processing class at Uni, we had to read/watch some of this guy’s stuff.

    • Andrew H

      Bollocks (And if you read my other posts you will see that I am not on the conspiracy theory side)

    • Andrew H

      Just to be clear about what is wrong with your “The results are conclusive”.

      Firstly you don’t have a database of 70 millions male Russian photos that you have checked this against – and determined Chepiga is the closest and only match. [And even if you did – there would still be serious problems in the science, without getting into probability distributions regarding how many other people were a fairly close match].

      Is this the kind of matching that you would consider to suitable for use in court? (the equivalent of DNA?). Something that can be used without any other corroborating evidence to identify someone “conclusively”. [Fingerprints on their own are really only sufficient to make a determination if you have previously narrowed down the suspect list to some reasonable number]. The whole methodology is flawed and to start labelling this as conclusive proof is great if you yourself don’t mind to be arbitrarily convicted of a crime based on the decision of some “flawless” software and “smart” algorithm.

    • Yeah, Right

      Meaningless. Utterly meaningless.

      I have always kept an open mind about the similarities of that “passport photo of Chepiga” precisely because I consider it obvious that Eliot Higgins can not vouch for the authenticity of the “passport application form” that the photo came from.

      If it is a fake then the forger is perfectly capable of inserting a 10-years-old photo of Boshirov into it, and that is limited only by the resourcefulness of the forger in sourcing such a photo.

      The two photos match?
      Well, blow me over with a feather.

      As revelations go it is meaningless if that passport application is a itself a forgery, precisely because a forger can insert ANY photo he wants into that form.

    • Andrew H

      A second and more serious problem with Dr Urgail’s unprofessional statement is that he has far too great a financial conflict of interest to be offering any kind of opinion on this. (possible contacts related to face recognition software, future work as “expert witness” in trials etc – what if he is right – the implications are obvious).

    • squirrel

      Interesting, I think the possibility that they are the same must be taken seriously.

      What the devil is going on?

      • Yeah, Right

        I think that someone forged a “passport application form” and included in it a photograph of Boshirov that was taken a decade ago.
        That forged form found its way to “The Insider-Russia” either because they forged it or they believed it to be genuine.
        The Insider then gave that bogus application form to Eliot Higgins with a quite “Trust us, it’s genuine”.

        Bellingcat then ran with it, which of necessity meant that they had to backtrack through open-source material to come up with a plausible path to get to that “passport application form” that isn’t “Well, it just fell in our lap, you know how it is”.

        My own suspicion is that “The Insider-Russia” is a Ukrainian front organization who are stitching Higgins up.
        But I am open to the idea that Russian FSB is stitching up The Insider, which then means they are stitching up Higgins.

        But it is important to hold this distinction in your head:
        a) IF Eliot Higgins directly hacked that Russian database THEN he can vouch for the authenticity of that photo.
        b) IF Eliot Higgins was handed that form by a 3rd party THEN he can not directly vouch for its authenticity.

        That’s important because this is true:
        IF (a) then we can legitimately argue about whether or not that is a photo of a younger Boshirov
        IF (b) then that argument is hollow, precisely because we can’t really know where that photo came from.

        Make sense?

    • Igor P.P.

      Worth reading about the method he used: https://mobile.twitter.com/ugail/media/grid?idx=7
      The method is apparently highly experimental and what it exactly does is shrouded in mystery: Google turns up nothing when searching for this article. If it cannot be intependently tested for false positives it is useless for identification purposes. BTW, he’s done it “following a press inquiry” 😉

    • Spencer Eagle

      Doubtless the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford will soon be receiving a research grant for their efforts.

    • N_

      Amateurs often do things better than “professionals”, because they do them because they enjoy them, not because they get paid to do them. That the word “amateur” is often used derogatorily in Britain indicates just what an “I think whatever Sir tells me because I’m scared to do otherwise” country Britain is.

      Of course those three photos are of the same person. We don’t need any stinking “experts” to tell us. The following words say a lot about the tweeting professor: “the photo of Anatoliy Chepiga and that claimed to be of Ruslan Boshirov”. Talk about taking the piss!

      Does a lot of work for the police, does he? If so, and if he exposes himself any more, defence lawyers might start filing appeals.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Your comment is sublime ! Professionals do it for Money. That is the only aspect I find valid. Too often I see slipshod work, short cuts, assumptions, and duplicity from “professionals” and I am loathe to trust them whether medics, lawyer or accountants or anyone else who thinks their opinion is sacrosanct “dum ex cathedra loquitur”.

        Human beings can be extraordinarily disappointing when their ethical standards are low.

    • bj

      Of course they match.

      They have been selected from a large pool to match.

      I call circular reasoning.

  • Matt

    Several more updates:

    Yanukovich’s former bodyguard wrote to Court today asking to be interrogated in relation to Chepiga’s role. We don’t know what Yanukovich’s former bodyguard wants to share about Chepiga. But it’s kind of unlikely his statement will be “Your honour, I requested to be heard because I have never seen this man”.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoiCSXaXkAI-tzD.jpg

    Bellingcat found a photo (read their newest article for more info) of Chepiga on the “Wall of Heroes” at DVOKU:

    https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/comparison.png

    The official Eastern District Military newspaper reported Chepiga’s *Hero of the Russian Federation* award a month after it was issued, quoting proud General Gryzlov, provost of the military academy:

    https://twitter.com/christogrozev/status/1046655218165919744

    A reporter for a local media outlet from Blagoveshchensk city, “Teleport 2001”, was taken on a tour of DVOKU, Chepiga’s military school. His guide told him that two of the alumni became Heroes of Russia for the 2014 “events in Crimea”:

    http://www.teleport2001.ru/news/2015-12-09/72552-amurskie-geroi-izvestnye-i-taynye.html

    Here is the list of Heroes of Russia on DVOKU military school website. It says that two of the heroes, awarded for Crimea, are secret. Both Chepiga and Popov are on the list, but – unlike the others – with no description of their “heroic” deeds:

    http://www.dvocu.ru/index/alleja_geroev/0-36

    The Russian journalist behind the Skripal scoops says Chepiga received the *Hero of the Russian Federation* award from Putin for evacuating Yanukovych to Russia:

    https://hromadske.ua/posts/pidozriuvanyi-v-otruienni-skrypalia-ahent-hru-chepiha-boshyrov-vyvozyv-z-ukrainy-yanukovycha-zhurnalist

    A 5th media outlet has found people who knew Chepiga. Novaya Gazeta found three of Chepiga’s comrades from his military unit. Two of them said they weren’t sure if they were the same person (they hadn’t seen him since 2006). Another said he knows it’s him by their same voice. But all three confirmed that Chepiga is a ‘Hero of Russia’ – decorated for his role in 2014 annexation of Crimea, just like Bellingcat had originally hypothesized.

    https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/10/01/78025-za-chto-chepige-dali-geroya-rossii-novaya-nashla-troih-sosluzhivtsev-polkovnika-iz-dela-skripaley?utm_source=novaya&utm_medium=tw&utm_campaign=regular

    • Yeah, Right

      Not sure how to break this to you, Matt.

      But you and Bellingcat are arguing that both Chepiga and Popov were secretly awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation.

      But go to Bellingcat’s latest breathless expose and examine the “before” photo of that wall “photo dated July 2014”
      Notice the last photo on that bottom row – the thickset soldier with no neck.

      That’s Popov, the man who you appear to believe is as mysterious as Chepiga.

      You see it even better in the third of those four increasingly-closeup photos: the name Popov (Попов) is clearly visible.

      So the school thought nothing of putting up a photo of Popov as soon as he had need awarded a HoRF, even though you claim Popov is as mysterious as Chepiga.

      How odd.

      Even more odd is to look again at that 3rd photo and compare Chepiga’s photo with all the other photos on that wall – the red boundary is much thicker, the yellow caption is much larger (and a different shade of yellow) and it appears to be laminated in a way that makes it far shinier.

      You’d almost think it had been photoshopped in….

        • isa

          It is the only picture that has a reflection visible on both original and tidied up as if you took a picture of a framed picture or of a laminate plastified document like an ID card or a passport. Furthermore, everyone else is in uniform and Chepiga or whoever he is is wearing a normal suit.

          Does not look genuine to me at all.In fact , It is so bad that frankly either Bellingcat thinks people are too stupid or someone is having him on.

      • Igor P.P.

        I don’t think frame alignment or thickess are significant. But there are other odd things that may be.
        1. Background of the photo looks edited out. It is unlikely to be a photo for a document: too little face and too much body. Perhaps it was difficult to make the face look natural with the original background so it was removed. All other color photos have a background.
        2. Face color is unnatural, very reddish. This suggests that it was not a solo portrait: the color balance was affected by other objects in the photo. Perhaps it was a group photo, or one taken in a casual environment.
        3. Body proportions are unusual: head is very small.

      • Matt

        It is impossible for the photo to have been photoshopped, and this is easy to prove.

        The photo itself was uploaded to a Russian social network on June 26, 2017:

        https://ok.ru/profile/475421179769/album/856276858233/856276895865

        A photo of the same spot take from a different angle was uploaded to DVOKU’s website on April 9, 2016:

        http://dvoku.mil.ru/upload/site31/document_images/GhQLfcf9fg.jpg

        Not to mention this photo from July 2014 that shows the same spot but with Chepiga’s photo missing. This proves that the spot was indeed empty, so regardless of the reason for Chepiga’s photo being out of order, we know for a fact that the spot was left deliberately blank:

        https://017qndpynh-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/without.png

        There are other photos showing the same spot from another angle. In order to believe that all these photos photoshopped, you would have to also prove that MI6 found a time machine, managed to hack into DVOKU’s website, and simultaneously hacked into a Russian social media website.

        Doubtful.

    • Igor P.P.

      “Novaya gazeta” stuff is interesting. If he did indeed have high-ranking relatives it would explain how he could become a colonel in such an age with such an attitude. Which is the biggest factual problem with Chepiga, IMO.

    • N_

      I haven’t been following the Viktor Yanukovych trial. Did former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s work for him get mentioned? Manafort’s problem is that unlike Yanukovych he hasn’t fled the country.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Manafort seems to have parked $60 million of Deripaska’s money and Deripaska’s wife had a grandfather called Boris Yeltsin who seems to have been drunk enough to lose hundreds of millions of IMF funds. The murky world of Semyon Mogilevich and Kolomoisky and Viktor Pinchuk and Dmytro Firtash and Rinat Akhmetov is not one I care to penetrate.

    • kbbucks

      “‘Hero of Russia’ – decorated for his role in 2014 annexation of Crimea”
      – what did he get decorated for, security at a polling station??? lol

      • Paul Greenwood

        Since Russia had a lease (albeit not as long at the $2000/yr Perpetual Lease on Guantanamo) for its bases on Crimea paid for with big discounts on Russian gas for Ukraine it is hard to speak of “annexation”

        Annexation is what West Germany did to GDR in 1990

  • Radar O’Reilly

    More ‘boring’ American Skripal stuff, a court case against the Pentagon , no less.

    http://dailycaller.com/2018/10/02/stefan-halper-pentagon-spygate/

    The conservative watchdog group is seeking ONA records related to Lovinger’s security clearance, which was revoked months after the 12-year ONA veteran began raising questions about the contracts.

    Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton questioned whether the Pentagon was aware that Halper was spying on the Trump campaign.

    “Americans want to know if the Defense Department was working with the corrupt FBI, DOJ and other Obama agencies to spy on Donald Trump in an attempt to destroy his reputation,” Fitton said in a statement. “Our new lawsuit against the Defense Department will help determine to what extent the it was helping to finance any Spygate targeting of President Trump.”

    • Paul Greenwood

      Yes because Loving question a $1 million payment to Halper from DoD Budgets under Obama and was fired for red-flagging items in the accounts

  • Gary Littlejohn

    On 2nd October, the Guardian had Luke Harding report on a book by the BBC reporter Mark Urban that is soon to be published.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/02/sergei-skripal-initially-did-not-believe-russia-tried-to-kill-him-book

    So this makes it easier to understand why the BBC was so reticent about commenting on Mark Urban’s conversations with Skripal before the Salisbury incident. I have no idea how the authorities persuaded Sergei Skripal that he had been attacked, but I note that Rob Slane on Blogmire.com has reminded us that Yulia Skripal has said in her communications that she wishes to return to Russia soon. So he rightly concludes that this probably means that she is not convinced that Russia is behind this alleged attack.

    • Tony

      A more salient point would be , if Skripal was still supportive of his Russian homeland , why would he willingly be part of a spy swap . Does it give credence to earlier reports that he was routinely in contact with the Russian embassy and was looking to return home to Russia

      • Igor P.P.

        You may as well ask why he became a traitor. I’d think it’s money and comfort, pure and simple.

        • Tony

          I dont disagree on his motivation for spying, it is the actual persons involved in the spy swap that appears irrational.

      • Keith McClary

        “willingly be part of a spy swap”
        IIRC, they showed up a the prison without advance notice and took him to the plane.

    • Mark Spencer

      Some quotes from the article describing Urban’s book:

      “The poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal was initially reluctant to believe the Russian government had tried to kill him, according to a new book, and despite selling secrets to MI6 was an “unashamed Russian nationalist”.

      When Skripal woke five weeks later from a coma, he faced some “difficult psychological adjustments” – not least the fact that he was at first reluctant to recognise he had been the target of a Kremlin “murder plot”.

      Against all predictions, doctors managed to save his and his daughter’s life using “novel therapies”.

      Urban discovered that Skripal spent much of his day watching Russia’s Channel One, a pro-Kremlin state broadcaster. He adopted “the Kremlin line in many matters”, the journalist writes, “even while sitting in his MI6-purchased house”, especially over Moscow’s fraught relations with Ukraine.

      Skripal, a former paratrooper, supported Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and referred disparagingly to Ukrainians as “simply sheep who needed a good shepherd”. Skripal also refused to believe Russian troops had entered eastern Ukraine covertly, saying that if they had, they would have quickly reached the capital, Kiev.

      The book does not answer the key question as to why Skripal’s former organisation – the GRU – tried to kill him shortly before Russia’s presidential vote. ”

      I wonder if the “novel therapies” applied to Skripal had anything to do with his “difficult psychological adjustments” and “reluctance to recognise he had been the target of a Kremlin “murder plot” “… Also very telling that he’s not even been trusted by his British handlers with a public statement…

      Berezovsky was also murdered in Britain after reportedly writing an apologetic letter to Putin:
      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/10017713/Vladimir-Putin-Boris-Berezovsky-wrote-two-letters-asking-for-forgiveness.html

      Is it possible Skripal was targeted precisely due to his pro-Russian stance and possible regrets about his defection?

      • N_

        Urban discovered that Skripal spent much of his day watching Russia’s Channel One, a pro-Kremlin state broadcaster.

        I can hear some Tory c***s in MI6 and the media thinking

        “We recruit this guy, he betrayed a large number of GRU agents, we help him by getting him out of prison after only a very short period of six years, less time than George Blake, we even let his daughter come and see him, we give the ungrateful borscht-quaffing sod a house in Salisbury, we give him free health treatment when he gets ill, and after all this, after all this help from his betters, from people who were born knowing about Henley and Buckingham Palace garden parties, he sits there in a plebby NHS hospital, at our expense, watching – can you believe it? – not any edifying queen and country material broadcast by the freedom-loving BBC, but a Russian state broadcaster! While I have to pay my gardener £500 for a week’s work! This ‘Skripal’ guy or whatever the foreigner calls himself is bloody lucky we didn’t put a surprise in his drip.”

  • Willem

    I was reading Craig’s prequel online but received a 404 error today, unfortunately… Glitch? Or something else?

  • James Oliver

    Matt, you are speaking to people who don’t understand the concept of reasonable doubt. Just try asking them what WOULD convince them that the Russian State were involved in the use of a Chemical Weapon (which they seem to no longer deny). You will quickly be able to pick holes in any theory of what would convince them I can assure you. They lack any reason at all.

    • Sarge

      James, as a man of deep reason, please explain why the British government does not share your faith in Bellingcat’s revelation.

    • sc

      Pretending a thing is proved and disparaging people who disagree is a simple and often effective technique. ‘OMG you don’t even understand THAT’ will shut people up quite often.

      But when you can’t actually see the evidence, you base your response to an assertion on how much you trust the people making it. And our Establishment has lost a lot of trust recently over Iraq and other things.

    • Borsht

      Sarge & SC bellingcat is background noise…. have you seen the CCTV footage after the attack yet? Nope, I didn’t think so….. you should wait to see the staff the security services have yet to serve you. Running innocently from the scene? Just imagine?

      I thnk as Putin is so p!ssed off with his sh!te spies he may well send them back to the UK to let them clear their own names!

      Anyway as James has asked, do you have any idea what evidence might convince you that any of the denials from Russia aren’t valid?

      • sc

        I’m not determined that anyone is responsible or not responsible. Especially since what actually happened is unclear. And claiming to have seen convincing stuff that the public hasn’t seen is ridiculous. How could that convince anyone?

        I would prefer my own country acted in a more open and honest way. How can you have a democracy when you have no idea what the government is actually doing? What are you voting on the basis of? Sometimes secrecy is necessary no doubt, but it should be kept to a minimum. Though, I would have been more convinced if the original statement from Theresa May simply said ‘we have evidence that we can’t release’ rather than all this ‘only Russia had a motive, Only Russia could possibly have made that poison’ stuff.

        I would also prefer it had been treated as simple attempted murder and investigated by police, without jumping to conclusions and releasing unlikely stories. And they could go to court with actual evidence and have it checked. Justice seen to be done. Way to go.

  • Sharp Ears

    $38 billion from the US to Israel. Yes that’s $38 billion.

    ‘Two years after President Barack Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the 10-year military funding deal went into effect on Monday, with the start of the new fiscal year. Netanyahu welcomed the deal as the means to tackle the threat from the Islamic Republic, after the State Department noted that the package is aimed to protect Israel against “all potential regional adversaries”, but foremost from the “Iranian regime’s sponsorship of terrorist groups”.

    ‘Unwavering support’ against ‘Iranian aggression’? Israel welcomes record $38bn US military aid
    https://www.rt.com/news/440177-israel-us-military-aid-package/

    It’s obscene. Think how that money could be spent for good works. And of course none of it will be used on weapons for the attacks on Syria or Gaza.

    • Hatuey

      More welfare for the biggest welfare queens in the United States, the arms industry. The American people getting ripped off as usual, taken for complete mugs.

      Instead of giving zionists free weaponry, every adult American could have a new car every year. The only down side is that they wouldn’t get to enjoy watching Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel.

      Of course, us dumb Brits aren’t in any position to criticise. What would we be willing to give up in return for the suffering our arms trade causes?

      What’s really amazing is that ordinary people don’t make the connection. They don’t look at the body bags and think “we paid for that…” It would stop in an instant if they didn’t pay for it though.

      Ordinary people genuinely believe their politicians are out to help the world and alleviate suffering. It’s remarkable really. They wonder how much good the world should expect from them.

      Charity begins at home. I wish it was so.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Best part of it is US gives Forgivable Loans to Israel to buy hardware. Israel negotiates to modify hardware and “improve it to Israeli spec” and the US pays Israel to do so. So Israel makes its own version of the F-35 – which started life as a Soviet Yak-141 until Lockheed bought the design –

        Wikipedia: “To sweeten the deal, Lockheed Martin said it would buy parts and systems for the F-35 from Israeli companies at a cost of $4 billion.”

        “Defense officials had argued that the purchase would be funded entirely by the military aid the United States gives Israel. ”

        “The US has agreed to reciprocal purchases of equipment from Israel’s defense industries totaling between $4 billion and $9 billion”

        ” Israel’s guarantees of more than US$4B of aerospace work in exchange for their purchase of 20 F-35s valued at US$2.7B, without any other industrial investment in the program has caused aerospace analysts to question what benefits countries who have invested in the F-35 program will receive. Norway, Denmark and Italy have all expressed concerns that the industrial benefits from the program may be insufficient to justify participation”

    • Charles Bostock

      Sharp Ears

      That’s 38 billion over the next 10 years – one should not give people the impression it’s for just 1 year.

      After having established that it’s nobody else’s business to tell the United States how to spend the taxpayers’ dollars (just as it is not the US’s business to ) tell the UK how much or how little to spend on the NHS. let’s look at some other figures. How about UNRWA funding?

      Over only the 10 year period from 2008 to 2017 the total United States contribution to UNRWA was over 3 billion dollars. To that have of course to be added contributions from the European Union (slightly but not much less than the US contributions) and from other donors (figures from the UNRWA website). So one can easily double that 3 billion figure for that 10 year period. That gives at least 6 billion dollars, and that’s just for 2008-2017. But of course UNRWA has been around since 1950, so God only knows how much UNRWA has received, at today’s money values, in the 68 years between 1950 and today.

      And to what result ????

      Not very much – or, better, zilch, nada, bubkis – when one looks at the following facts pertaining to Palestinian refugees:

      **Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

      ** UNRWA services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. The DESCENDANTS of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children, ARE ALSO ELIGIBLE FOR REGISTRATION [emphasis added]. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.

      ** Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The remaining two thirds live in cities and towns of the host countries as well as in the environs of the above-mentioned refugee camps.

      Contrast that pretty poor picture with the results of United States aid to the State of Israel! Israel: a country more than capable of defending itself and a relatively prosperous first world country which used US aid wisely and for the betterment of conditions overall. The refugees: still stuck in their camps (thanks in no small measure to the machinations of their politicians and neigbouring Arab regimes), the hapless dupes of those who held out the prospect of a return which was never on the cards.

      • Paul Greenwood

        a country more than capable of defending itself and a relatively prosperous first world country

        That is simply not true. Without US military aid Israel would be bankrupt. Israel has not enough manpower to sustain any lengthy war. It has a poorly trained Army using the Russian Tsarist system of NCOs rather than Western analogues. It has very poorly trained combat troops who are no match for Hezbollah.

        Israel is simply non-viable without the USA. It is too small geographically and its population too small and it has no defensible boundaries. Israel exists by getting Western technology cheaply and retailing it to Russia, Turkey and China violating Western patents.

        Now that Syrian Air Defences are integrated into Russian C3I Systems we shall see just how many aircraft Israel can afford to lose by irritating Russia.

      • J

        “After having established that it’s nobody else’s business to tell the United States how to spend the taxpayers’ dollars”

        Except perhaps, taxpayers in the US.

        And we can’t have them labouring under the impression that their hard earned tax dollars are being spent shooting unarmed children, unarmed women, unarmed men, unarmed humanitarian aid workers, unarmed medics, unarmed doctors and unarmed journalists, or on extrajudicial murder, on good old fashioned ethnic cleansing, on burning and cutting down hundreds of ancient olive groves, on bulldozing Palestinian settlements in Palestine, on stealing Palestinian homes and redistributing those homes to European and American settlers, on bombing civilian neighbourhoods more or less at random, on shelling children, women, men and pensioners, on air strikes against children, women, men, on incarcerating children, women and men for spurious crimes, on beating young men to death with the butts of very expensive rifles, on expensive and comprehensive blockading of small enclaves indefinitely, to destroy the will of those who refuse to accept settler colonialism or the theft of their land, water, soil and of their homes etc etc etc etc

  • Yeah, Right

    For what it is worth……
    https://meduza.io/feature/2018/09/27/polkovnik-gru-geroy-rossii-byl-v-chechne-kazhetsya-zhurnalisty-uznali-kto-takoy-ruslan-boshirov

    Google Translate: “Roman Dobrokhotov , editor-in-chief of The Insider, said he didn’t know how the personal data of Boshirov and Petrov was obtained. According to him, this information was given to the publication by the Bellingcat research group, and he “did not violate any laws.” The “Project”, in turn, reported that a file with a photo of “Boshirov” from the information system “Russian Passport” was sent to editorial mail; the publication did not specify who sent it.”

    If I read that correctly then The Insider is running a million miles away for confirming the authenticity of that “passport application form”.
    Not only is Dobrokhotov denying that The Insider hacked the database, but he is insisting that Bellingcat didn’t hack it either: Eliot Higgins received that form via mail.

    I’m saying it again: Bellingcat can NOT vouch for the authenticity of the “passport application form”, which in turn is the sole source of that photo of “Chepiga”. Now you have The Insider insisting that they can’t vouch for it either.

    I’m getting more and more confident that it is a forgery, and that Higgins has been played.

    • John Goss

      “I’m getting more and more confident that it is a forgery, and that Higgins has been played.”

      What again!. Let’s see. There’s MH17. Then there are all the staged chemical weapons attacks filmed by the white helmets. Now the Chepiga bollocks. Higgins is a bozo. Or he will do anything for money.

      • J

        Higgins himself works directly for the Atlantic Council. They pay his mortgage.

        “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

  • S

    Off topic: On the media manipulation front, I wanted to point out that Plymouth University has suspended their Conservative association due to racist behaviour. There is an article buried in the Mail, but the Guardian and BBC are not reporting it (yet).

    • Hatuey

      Racism and anti-semitism were on the political right. That’s where these things were born and it’s where they live. It puzzled me during the summer when Corbyn was getting lashed that nobody really pointed this out.

      • jake

        Find a Scotsman who puts sugar on his porridge and he’ll explain the NTS Fallacy to you.

        • S

          I don’t think anyone has ever claimed that there is zero racism among labour voters. So I’m not sure NTS applies.

          When a Labour association comes out with photos like the Plymouth conservative ones, and when they’re also not covered in the media, then you may have a point.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Universities used to be academic institutions before John Major turned them into kindergartens

      • Rhys Jaggar

        I worked in academia from 1990-1997 and Major did nothing to make Universities kindergartens.

        One thing they did do was abolish slave labour for PhD students, my generation being abused and three years later salaries were nearly trebled. They were still only £8,000 a year, but on that you could eat and be housed. My group chose between eating and socialising every week. By 1995 stipends had risen to £12,000.

        It does have to be said that training programmes went from sink or swim neglect to infantilising mothering for no better reason that most academics knew nothing about empowerment through training. I was lucky to learn that overseas on a gap year aged 18, which is how I could diagnose the problems. Bottom line is, highly intelligent 21 year olds can go from helpless babes to self-directed, self-confident researchers within six months or less if mentoring is appropriate. It would be amazing if they could not, being in the top 5% of the age cohort.

        There is a lot of nonsense talked about who did what in academia.

        Mostly it is about what academics did or did not do themselves….

        • Tatyana

          Edited translation. I’m no expert in military terms, sorry. My comments are in brackets and between asterisks, like this : (*hello, world!*)

          Degrees of idiocy.

          I wouldn’t comment on it, if it didn’t concern me. But I’m getting really annoyed with it. Perhaps I’m getting more interested in politics. The last two weeks, the media and the Internet is noisy. “Screaming Cats”, “BBC”, “Insiders” and others joyfully broadcast that the suspect in the Skripale case is Ruslan Boshirov, who is also a fan of (*church*) spiers, Colonel A. Chepiga, Hero of Russia.

          What relation to me? Simple. I myself am a graduate of the DVOKU (*FarEast higher military college for commanders*) and I served in 14 obsSpN (*separate guards brigade for special purposes*). And Lieutenant Chepiga was my subordinate.

          Did Tolik (*diminitive fo Anatoliy*) love to let the gas out? Noone among us is sinless. Especially if one eats much of peas being on a mission. I will not compare faces, nor will I say they are photoshopped or something of that kind. I prove that correspondents “conducting an investigation” are stupid (*stronger word used*) and lack of professionalism. Once they say Tolik was born in Nikolaevka, next time they say it was in Berezovka.

          Mind the epic phrase “played a key role in the Chechen war.” [email protected] it, it was not the commander of the group, e.g Moltenskoy or Bakhin, but the lieutenant … the lieutenant, who played the key role! I was a major at the time, when Chepiga was my subordinate. I did not play any role, and the commander of the group of “green graduates” (* unexperiened men*) is already [email protected] key figure !! Awesome. Yet, what do they say about 14 obsSpN? The military unit number 74854, earlier number 20662. [email protected] morons .. (Lavrov). Number 20662 has always belonged to the Khabarovsk detachment, which was normally part of the brigade. Allegedly colleagues wrote: “He was assigned to the brigade headquarters in Ussuriysk, and from there to Khabarovsk.”

          (*it is all lies and sh-t*) Chepiga got an appointment to the 2nd Battalion in Ussuriysk. And the first mission he fought with this battalion. In 2003 he was transferred to Khabarosk, I no longer served in the brigade by this time.

          Some [email protected] Egor Maksimov, a glossy correspondent, calls the DVOKU an Academy. It’s so nice, of him, for sure. But the DVOKU has always been and remains a college, it has never teached the “GRU employees”, as the “investigators” broadcast.

          There is no Tolik in the picture from Dargo region, which they broadcast in all vidioes. They just drew a square aroung a man, who is ensign technician (*lower military man from technical support*) and called him Tolik.

          In his native village, a resident identified him… (*curse words*). My “village” neighbors constantly identifie me in every Chechnya reportage, and even in Syria and even a couple of times in Kirkorov’s videos. (*Kirkorov is a pop-singer*).

          The further you read the more you get, the Hero Medal was given for Ukraine or for the Crimea! After all, according to the “investigators”, there were no (*russians*) officially in Syria in 2014. Mind you, they are not embarrased by he fact that our radio intelligence centers ARE there since the days of the Soviet Union! How do you like the fact, that in 2014 we had to withdraw them urgently so that the equipment and people would not fall under the “ISIS”. Chepiga is, by the way, graduate from VDA, he is an arabist (*arabic languages linguist*), he was good in the languages. Now you guess, what was Tolik awarded the Hero Medal for? And why is he now not up to the hype and the stench that has risen?

          The man is doing his job, and he is an obstacle for someone, to keep “negotiating processes in the mainstream of democracy”. He had his all hair gray in 2014 already. Regardng hisvmanner of conversation, Tolik is impulsive with a correctly set (*literature pronunciation standard*) very competent speech in disputes, and he confirmed everything with facts and logic. I do not know who was shown on TV, I do not care. As well as the “investigators” do not care that there ARE photos of A. Chepigia on the DVOKU website; unfortunately, these photoes don’t resemble the person at least, so they got from the Internet the first available.

          He was noticed in 2014 on the Ukraine border, [email protected] it! One could notice me also, you know, ‘cos I live in the Rostov region. Oh yes, 14 brigade was also noticed. Noone cares that from 2014, when ukrozamesy (*strange things from ukrainian side*) began, according to the General Headquarters plan, all SPN brigades are on duty at the border and coordinated in the territories of another district.
          (*sarcastic*) This is not a measure to cover the state border, this is [email protected] aggression, and the “democratic community” is [email protected] blind to see that we ARE at home. And these creatures (*nvestigators*) are getting on the guy’s parents, live call from the BBC are [email protected]

          link for proofs http://www.dvocu.ru/photo/10-6?photo=374
          Well, the photo is really bad

  • Rob Royston

    If Col. Chepiga is still in active service and these pictures that try and prove he is Boshirov are not like him, only like Boshirov, then the Russians could find no better way to protect him than to keep feeding the UK with further embellishments to the nonsense that they want to believe.

    • Tatyana

      I think Petrov and Boshirov are civilians, because GRU officer would not go for RT interview with his face open, with his bare hands leaving fingerprints on all surfaces in TV studio, yet with a weak legend they visited Salisbury for tourism. As if they intended to see some old English church but failed to do so because of bad weather.
      These facts above fit in ordinary civilian way of doing. Skripals murderers would have invented a more plausible story.

  • Clark

    My apology to anyone who can’t access Craig’s book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo. The copy Craig linked to is hosted on my ‘web space’, which isn’t proper hosting, it’s just a freebie that comes with my ‘phone and broadband service from Plusnet. I expect the download limit has been exceeded; it’s only 100 megabyte or something. I’ll try to get it back on-line, but it’ll probably be quicker to find a copy elsewhere.

  • JMF

    It’s a superb read, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo. No wonder the world seems to be going mad with leaders like this.

    • Paul Greenwood

      I watched the first Star Wars movie – it was fun. It is now just so banal and beyond parody trying to create an Alternate Reality place of simply Fantasy

  • Sharp Ears

    O/T No wonder profits at Tesco are up. Lady Porter must be pleased at that news although strangely the share price has fallen.
    ‘ The group said pre-tax profits for the six months to 25 August were 2% higher than the same period last year at £564m, with UK like-for-like sales up 2.3%’

    I have just been overcharged £6 on two items in my shopping compared to the prices displayed on shelf labels! After a short time in the ‘Customer’ queue, £6 was refunded rather ungraciously and with no actual apology. So watch out.

      • Sharp Ears

        Suggest you get lost if you have nothing better to do than to drop your acid comments.

        Or perhaps you could make a contribution.

    • N_

      @Sharp Ears – So they “forgot” about their “double the difference” policy? Sometimes they stick the notice about this in a place where few people will see it, and they never draw it to your attention. If you mention it, though, they usually abide by it – and you will probably get even more ungraciousness, as if you’ve got one over on them.

  • Sharp Ears

    A leading member of the CFoI, Theresa May, came onto the stage dancing to Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ to uproarious applause. Excruciating stuff. After a jokey reference or two to her voice going last year and having spent all night glueing up the backdrop (who writes her stuff Ed?) she then launched into a teary segment on WW1 remembrance.

    Now a tirade on Corbyn comparing him to Kinnock and Callaghan and his anti-semitism, They are really worried about him aren’t they.

    Off. Off.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Yes it was like some school performance with an unpopular teacher taking the stage. It was hardly worthy of a major political party in government addressing key disasters they have perpetrated over the past 8 years; or explaining why Thatcherism de-industrialising the nation made it impossible to remain in a trading bloc where the major intra-bloc trade is industrial goods not services.

      In 1980s Thatcher made the EEC no longer viable for UK and failed to use the Single European act to prise open the Services Sector in EU countries which are beautifully cosseted by non-tariff barriers

    • IrishU

      Were you expecting to enjoy the PM’s speech? If not, why tune in?

      As for who ‘writes her stuff’, Tim Shipman reports that Keelan Carr wrote the majority of it with contributions from Alex Dawson, JoJo Penn and Gavin Barwell – the PM’s Chief of Staff.

      On balance the speech and delivery was probably the best since the PM spoke outside Downing Street on assuming office but then that is a rather low bar. Exactly the same as the praise heaped on Jeremy Corbyn last week (‘Best speech as Leader’ etc) both leaders have suffered from turgid speeches delivered in the most uncharismatic fashion imaginable.

      I think the Tories are right to be worried about Corbyn but not as much as the English middle class and the DUP should be!

      • Paul Greenwood

        I wanted to see if she she could rise above mediocrity. Frankly the last time there were people in HoC who could carry a speech it was Michael Foot, Enoch Powell, Ian Paisley……..long gone are the days of Lloyd George and Nye Bevan.

        A speech should be able to sway an audience without a microphone

        • IrishU

          Agreed Paul. As much as I detest the politics of Paisley Snr, he could deliver a speech.

        • Brian c

          Obama was a wonderful speechmaker. Stirring stuff. Shame about what he actually delivered.

          • IrishU

            Tremendous orator. From the highs of Obama to the seemingly bottomless depths of the current President.

          • Paul Greenwood

            John Kennedy was the last US President with oratorical skills but he was an LSE grad

    • N_

      I’m waiting for the transcript. The speech got postponed twice. Did Rees-Mogg order her not to say the word “Chequers”?

      Will Tory MP James Duddridge’s announcement shortly before the speech that he has written to the 1922 chair expressing no confidence in Theresa May be followed by similar announcements after it?

      Duddridge is also a critic of Bercow. Before the end of the year, Bercow or his successor is likely to make an important “Speaker’s Ruling” regarding what is or is not acceptable as an amendment to a Brexit bill.

        • N_

          Thanks, @Sharp Ears.

          OMG, now I have to read it.

          A quick glance shows she dared to criticise Ian Bone! (He will be so chuffed!)

      • IrishU

        Yes I found it interesting that Chequers was not mentioned once, at least from viewing the speech – it may feature it in the transcript.

        I think the PM’s speech will probably have bought her some time and will halt any further letters to the 1922, at least in public. Duddridge was gambling on a poor speech or perfromance by the PM and sought to position himself as the public face of the ‘Sack Theresa’ campaign.

        As ever with the Brexit shitshow, it is a stay of execution and not a reprieve.

    • N_

      Did she make any reference to Ireland?

      Ireland shows that the options are WTO, Brexit In Name Only, or Remain.

        • N_

          I don’t have EFTA/EEA on the list because the Republic of Ireland will veto any agreement that does not include a customs union.

          • Paul Greenwood

            Republic of Ireland is heading for serious problems then……..and cannot sustain its low Corporate Tax model

      • Sharp Ears

        3. Ctrl + ‘F’ word search –

        ‘Or a deal that carves off Northern Ireland, a part of this country, effectively leaving it in the EU’s Custom’s Union.
        So, let us send a clear message from this hall today: we will never accept either of those choices.’

        ‘Our proposal is for a free trade deal that provides for frictionless trade in goods.
        It would protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the just-in-time supply chains our manufacturing firms rely on.
        Businesses wouldn’t face costly checks when they export to the EU, so they can invest with confidence.
        And it would protect our precious Union – the seamless border in Northern Ireland, a bedrock of peace and stability, would see no change whatsoever.
        No simple free trade agreement could achieve that, not even one that makes use of the very latest technology.

        ‘Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have what it takes: we have everything we need to succeed.
        And in 2022 we will put the best of British creativity and innovation, culture and heritage on show in a year-long festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
        Wherever I travel, I find a renewed interest in Britain.

        • IrishU

          ‘And it would protect our precious Union – the seamless border in Northern Ireland, a bedrock of peace and stability, would see no change whatsoever.’

          How can anyone fall for this nonsense? I am glad that Northern Ireland is causing such disruption to the Brexiteers but the total cackhandedness of it all has boosted Sinn Fein and their unification campaign. The dissolution of the Union should be a price too high for any Tory.

          Also did anyone read or hear Arlene Foster’s comments re. a customs border in the Irish Sea?

          ‘Our red line is blood red’ – such language is not accidential.

          Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/dup-leader-arlene-foster-our-red-line-is-blood-red-1.3650080

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        On Ireland and Scotland, May inevitably adopts her imperious, Matron knows best mode. “I will act in your best interests.” We voted Remain you stupid cnut!

        • IrishU

          Indeed – the Tory Party (and Labour given their half baked policy on Brexit) should be less imperious when it comes to Northern Ireland and Scotland. Brexit didn’t only fan the flames of English nationalism…

  • mike

    Maybot knows that the state broadcaster will go easy on her, as it has done since the day she took office.

    Michael Crick tweeted as much. From the horse’s mouth!

    Russia “launched a chemical attack on the streets of Britain” she said !

    Sowing the meme. Time to call Hans Blix.

    • Sharp Ears

      @MichaelLCrick
      23 hours ago
      If Number Ten is not careful it could soon look like the BBC has become the state broadcaster.

      He retweeted:
      The @10DowningStreet press office have granted @theresa_may interviews to 20 @BBCNews journalists during conference; none for @Channel4News or @5_News and there is solidarity across broadcasters that this is a dangerous precedent
      Ben de Peear

      Crick is wrong. The BBC IS the state broadcaster, not soon will become it.

  • A.C.Doyle

    The Tale of the Prime Minister and Russian Poison
    Part 1
    Once upon a time in a little house in Downing Street in the capital city of England there lived a Prime Minister called Mrs. Theresa May.
    Now the Queen of England was getting old didn’t really rule that much any longer, so the Prime Minister and the parliament did a lot of ruling over the English people instead.
    It was so that every morning, the Prime Minister would go to a mirror in a hidden room, look at her own reflection and utter the words:
    ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most astute political leader of them all’? Now the mirror was a special mirror with magic properties and it would always reply:
    ‘You, Prime Minister May. You are the most astute political leader of them all’. So the Prime Minister would be very happy to know how marvelous she was.
    A lot of time passed. Then, one day, she went to her magic mirror and said the words as usual:
    ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most astute political leader of them all?’ but there was silence. She repeated the question in an impatient tone. Finally the mirror began to answer:
    ‘. . . Er. well. It is not that easy to tell you this. It is a bit difficult but . . .’
    The Prime Minister interrupted in a thundering voice: ‘Get on with it and stop wasting my time. Tell me that I am the most astute political leader of them all’.
    The mirror answered hesitantly: ‘Well, it is not like that. I’m sorry to have to tell you. [long pause] Mr. Putin is the most astute political leader of them all’
    The Prime Minister was incensed: ‘What? Mr. Putin. How dare you say this?’
    The mirror replied in a trembling voice: ‘Just look at the facts. Look how Mr. Putin is handling the Olympic Games, the Russian presidential election, how he is helping to clear up the mess you and your allies made in Syria and how generally well respected he is. Look at the mess you are making. You can’t even get the Brexit sorted out and . . .’
    The Prime Minister was overcome with rage and would listen no longer. She stormed out of the room and immediately arranged a meeting with her Foreign Secretary.
    It turned out to be a very long meeting. They discussed all the problems of the English people, and all the problems with Europe and the Brexit and, above all, how jealous they were of Mr. Putin’s success. They tried to find to find ways of solving some of the problems and making the people of England once again happy with her rule and do something bad to Mr. Putin. This was very difficult and they started to get very weary.
    The Foreign secretary then ruffled his already ruffled hair a bit more and said: ‘What we need is a miracle, really a miracle’ and the Prime Minister agreed: ‘Yes, we need a miracle’.
    Now, suddenly something very strange happened. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary had known it, but saying the word ‘miracle’ three times there was a special magic combination and in a bright flash of light, two fairies appeared next to them, one with a pure white magic wand and one with a deep black magic wand.
    The white fairy said: ‘You have uttered the magic word “miracle” three times so you are granted three miracles. Think carefully about what miracles you want and use them wisely. Remember you have only three miracles’.
    So the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary began to tell to the two fairies all the problems they had just discussed. Both fairies agreed that these were indeed very big problems, and especially the situation with the Brexit was so bad that not even their strongest miracle could help. However, they thought they might be able to do something to make difficulties for their enemy Mr. Putin, so all four considered ways to make all the people in the world think that Mr. Putin was a very bad man.
    The Foreign Secretary remembered that Ukraine had a lot of success in blaming Russia for shooting down an airplane with lots of people in it and it made everyone very angry against Russia and thought that may be something to try.
    The white fairy immediately said: ‘that will not work again. Nobody’ll believe it a second time and, anyway, it then needed too many miracles the first time to make halfway believable’.
    The Prime Minister then recalled that a poisoning with a special radioactive poison was also a good trick and was easy to blame on Russia and nobody seemed to question what really happened.
    The fairies also thought that some special type of poison would indeed be a good idea although the radioactive poison would not be so easily believed a second time.
    The black fairy said she had a lot of experience with poisons and said that she once made a cake with EAT ME written on it in raisins. This had a special ingredient which would make the person eating it grow to the size of giant. If the person could be made to eat some in the house, they would grow so large that the house would come crashing down on them.
    The white fairy said scornfully “that is a ridiculous idea. Next you’ll be telling us about a white rabbit with a pocket watch”.
    The black fairy continued unperturbed: “OK. I did also once a poisoned apple for a wicked witch. That worked pretty well, that is until some interfering dwarves came along and put the victim in a glass box for a prince to find. I could make such a poison using a special Russian recipe then all the people would believe that Russia and Mr. Putin were to blame for the poisoning”
    The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were very pleased with this idea and asked the two fairies to organize this as the first miracle. The fairies agreed then waved their magic wands and left the room in a bright flash of light and went back to Fairyland.

    As they returned to Fairyland they came across a goblin who had his face covered by the palms of his hands and was muttering to himself. This goblin was the voice behind the magic mirror.
    ‘What’s wrong with you?’ the black fairy said, and the goblin replied: ‘That old hag. She is livid with me. But I had to tell her that she was no longer the most astute political leader of them all.’
    The white fairy said: ‘You fool. You‘ve brought this upon yourself with all that sycophantic claptrap you kept telling her. You should have warned here ages ago that she was no match for Mr. Putin. We’ve just seen her together with her court jester, that Foreign Secretary and heard about the big mess they are all in.’
    The black fairy added: ‘Anyway, she won’t be using her magic mirror in the near future, so you are spared that for some time. In the meantime, you can do a job for us just as soon as I have brewed some of my special poison’.
    So, some time passed before the black fairy was able to brew up some special Russian poison and she had now a good quantity in a sealed container which she marked “N” to identify it. She then summoned the goblin and told him to seek out a victim, a Russian who was not friendly with Mr. Putin in an area where there would be a lot of Russian tourists about, and spray him with some of the poison.
    The goblin went to the ancient English city of Salisbury and found a victim, an old Russian spy, sitting on a park bench and sprayed him with some of the black fairy’s poison, then returned immediately to Fairyland. On his return he went to speak the black fairy: ‘It is done. Oh and I think I may also have accidentally sprayed some poison also on a woman next to the victim’. The black fairy simply shrugged her shoulder and said ‘OK thank you.’

    • A.C.Doyle

      The Tale of the Prime Minister and Russian Poison
      Part 2

      Now the Prime Minister was in her house in Downing Street shuffling some papers around on her desk as usual. Then someone then entered the office to tell her some urgent news. That there had been a poisoning incident at a park bench in Salisbury involving an old Russian spy and his daughter and it appeared that the poison could be of a Russian type. The Prime Minister knew instantly that her dastardly scheme had succeeded and let out raucous cackle of delight. She then summoned her Foreign Secretary to plan how they would best use this information to turn everyone against Russia. They discussed what would be said in parliament and would be said to all the foreign governments about how bad Russia was and what would be said to all the newspapers and to the BBC.

      But there was just one thing troubling the Foreign Secretary. He had a copy of a secret Russian manual and had just read that Russians normally spread poison on door knobs and, to make the story even more believable, there should be poison on the front door knob of the Russian spy’s house. But how could this be done? They decided they would have to request another miracle, so they uttered the magic combination of words and, in a flash of light, the two fairies reappeared.
      ‘The plan has worked very well and we are very pleased but we need another miracle’ the Foreign Secretary said and explained that a trace of the poison should also be found on the front door knob of the victim’s house. The black fairy simply said ‘will do.’ The white fairy reminded them that they would have only one remaining miracle. With that the fairies waved their magic wands and returned in a flash to Fairyland. The black fairy then summoned the goblin and told him to spray a bit of poison on the door knob of the spy’s house, which he dutifully did.

      Now this plan was going very well. Lots of people believed how bad the Russians and Mr. Putin were and were making all sorts of threats against Russia. The newspapers and BBC were full of all sorts of anti-Russian articles and stories. Lots of Russian diplomats were thrown out of England. The leader of the opposition was branded a traitor for asking any questions about this. Allies of England were also very upset with Russia and also threw out diplomats. The military leaders in England were promised much more money because of the Russians and the people in Salisbury showed there anger that Russia had used such a strong poison in their city.
      As time went on, more information and evidence appeared which confirmed the guilt of the Russians and the people began to say again what a wonderful Prime Minister they had and how they appreciated her leadership skills and began to forget about all the problems of Brexit. Happily, whenever the Prime Minister had a problem, there was always some new information about the bad Russians to help the people forget about these problems.
      Of course, Mr. Putin said that this poisoning incident in Salisbury was nothing to do with Russia, but the plan that the Prime Minister made was so good that no one believed him.

      As time went on, however, one problem with this plan began to show up. All the people of Salisbury were told how very strong this Russian poison was and how bad the Russians were about spreading it all around the place (even though we know that the goblin was really quite careful). They saw lots of people walking around in funny protection suits and were told stories that houses might have to be demolished because of this poison or that some cars had to be buried deep under the ground. Then some people started to think that they themselves may have been poisoned when actually they might have just a normal illness, or have eaten some bad food, and the leading people of Salisbury began to worry that some mass hysteria might break out and they conveyed their thoughts to the Prime Minister.

      So the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary started talking together to solve this big problem. They considered how good it would be if the people now thought that all the poison had been found and that the remaining danger was very small because it might not be quite as strong as they first thought. They also believed that if the poison was to be found, it would make the people even angrier about the Russians and make the job of the hard working police much easier if they don’t have to search too hard for a murder weapon.

      They decided it would be a good idea to use their last miracle to solve that problem. So they uttered the magic combination of words and the two fairies appeared as usual in a flash of light. This time the two fairies were arguing with each other. ‘You messed that up, didn’t you? The victims appear in good health.’ the white fairy said. The black fairy responded ‘I don’t know what happened there. I agree the poison was not one of my best’.
      The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary assured the fairies that even though the poison didn’t fully work, that didn’t matter because it had the right political effect and went on to say about the need for the remaining poison to be found and also to demonstrate that it might not be as strong as they first thought. So they started discussing ideas.
      The black fairy suggested that they water down some and label the bottle “Russian Poison” and leave it outside a police station. ‘Nobody will believe that and now far too much time has passed since the spy was poisoned’ the white fairy replied and continued sarcastically ‘and anyway your poison would not need much watering down. Next I suppose you’ll be suggesting that we put it in a ginger bread house and leave a trail of bread crumbs leading to it’.
      The black fairy continued unperturbed:
      ‘OK. What about disguising the remaining poison as a perfume bottle then find a person who takes lots of medicines and alcohol who might forget a lot of things, then spray him with a little of the poison in his house and leave him and the police to work out a good story as to how he found the bottle.’
      The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were very happy with this idea but the white fairy wanted them to be sure that this was how the last miracle should be used and even recommended that they save the last miracle for the October Conservative party conference. But no, they were sure that the last miracle should be used for getting the poison found. The black fairy said she would instruct the goblin to carry out this last act. With that, and for the last time, the fairies waved their magic wands and disappeared in a flash of light.

      Dear reader, you know what happened next.

      Glossary:
      Brexit: An project to extract Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Economic Community.

      • Borsht

        Yep, a tale with fairies in it.
        You might want to hear Putins latest rant about it – the angry dwarf isn’t a happy “man”. I wouldn’t like to be one of his “highly trained”, “covert” “assassins” right now, I wouldn’t be happy, or any of the other comical dwarves either eh Vlad?

    • Hatuey

      Really great writing, even if I don’t like the subject matter.

      You should do a proper book.

      First class.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        Yes, like all the dirty work Mrs. May did to become PM while at the Home Office.

      • A.C.Doyle

        Thank you for that. Well it was actually quite easy because the official version of events lent itself to being woven into a fairy tale.

  • Charles Bostock

    I note that the PM’s conference speech has been mentioned but am surprised that Boris’s hasn’t. Why is that, I ask myself? Could it be because the policies he spoke about (I’m not referring to Brexit) might out-Corbyn Corbyn, or the greater benefit of the Conservative party (Party not “Partei by the way)?

    In any event, if I were the PM and wanted to remain that, I would not be happy. And if Boris’s future career takes the turn it just might, the commenters on here who like to slag off the PM will be very unhappy indeed.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Why don’t you talk about what Mrs.May had done to Gareth Williams, Gudrun Loftus, Steve Rawlings and the al-hillis wt. al,when Home Secretary, and has covered up as PM what British spooks and soldiers did in enhanced interrogation technics?

  • Sharp Ears

    If you wish to know how the Friends of Israel lobby groups in our political parties were set up, this essay gives that information in great detail and is a useful tool for reference.

    The UK’s pro-Israel lobby in context
    Tom Mills, Hilary Aked, Tom Griffin, and David Miller 2 December 2013
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/tom-mills-hilary-aked-tom-griffin-david-miller/uk’s-pro-israel-lobby-in-context

    I know of David Miller as one of the founder members of Spinwatch.
    Spinwatch is a project of Public Interest Investigations, a non-profit company incorporated in England and Wales. It is run by an editorial collective of journalists and academics with decades of experience in the policy fields it covers.
    http://spinwatch.org/index.php/about/who-we-are

    Good people and how we need them.

  • Borsht

    So if Skripal is such a “traitor to the motherland” then why let him go? Why hand him over to the UK? Why happily allow him to live in Salisbury even though he was passing further secrets to the UK Security Services?
    What should Putin have done about Skripal?
    Leave him alone? – – – Nope, doesn’t sound like it!

    • chris

      That’s why. Plus: Britain asked for Skripal.

      “Tonight the agents had their first taste of a new life in the country of their sympathy. The Russian 10, deported from New York on Thursday, landed at Domodedovo airport south of Moscow to an uncertain future. The four westward-bound agents touched down at Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire. It is thought that at least one of them, Sergei Skripal, a former informant for MI6, will stay in Britain.

      Among the 10 returned to Moscow tonight was Anna Chapman, a 28-year-old former Barclays Bank employee….”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jul/09/russian-spies-swap-us

      • Borsht

        Yes I know Chris, and thats why Vlad is upset with him I would guess? Anyway as a UK citizen I’m sure Vlad woin’t criticise him for help ing out his homeland will he?
        Why hasn’t Putin asked wher his old mate is anyway? His foreign secretary seems to think he’s been abducted by the UK police. Funny he never cared last year or the year before.

        • Herbie

          “Anyway as a UK citizen I’m sure Vlad woin’t criticise him for help ing out his homeland will he?”

          The UK is Skripal’s homeland?

          • Borsht

            He made his home in the UK didn’t he? Near a filling station in Salisbury apparently.

          • Herbie

            “He made his home in the UK didn’t he?”

            And you think that makes the UK his “homeland”.

            Obviously English isn’t your native language.

            That’s OK, but most languages will have a similar concept to “homeland”.

            Are you some sort of nomad, traveling people, kinda thing?

    • Agent Green

      Prisoner swap is the reason. That doesn’t alter the conviction for treason. Once a traitor, always a traitor.

      The West have just used Skripal to create a convenient false flag event.

      • Borsht

        I doubt you can call Skripal a traitor to the UK now he’s a citizen can you? As for the “false” flag event, you would think that Putin wouldn’t allow his citizens to get involved in such a set-up would you? These two clows even ifd they are now civilians will have a military history as conscripts eh? You would think Putin would be able to stop them being used in this way? Remove their pictures from Ruissian social media and prevent diplomats being repatriated from mostr of the western world? He sounds weak if he is allowing the UK to run rings around him and even the rest of the world? Even neo-neutral Sweden kicked some out. He must feel feeble!

    • Paul Greenwood

      He was traded at UK request in US swap of Dept S Illegals by USA. Russia knows that will have cost MI6 to persuade USA to do that deal

  • Borsht

    A Scoundrel!!! A Traitor? He’s a UK citizen now Vlad! Ha ha ha ha
    And you’ve proved your spies are useless, they cannot assassinate and even if they try, they fail and get identified/pictures plastered across the media. I suppose these two characters and the rest of their team aren’t traitors for failing their country?
    Bear in mind that the only CCTV and other footage is of these two clowns prior to the attack…… expect more embarrassment Vlad (the invader).

    https://tinyurl.com/y7cdwvtv

    • Agent Green

      Putin absolutely correct in his assessment of Skripal. He has just made a statement of fact.

      • Borsht

        I take it you agree Agent Green? Skripal should be left to leak secrets to the UK and not have any action taken against him? Well thats’ cleared that up.

        • Paul Greenwood

          Secrets from 1999 when Yeltsin was still President ? Hardly likely he was up to date by 2010 when he was traded.

      • Borsht

        I’m not sure that he can be a traitor, he is neither a Russian citizen and is probably being paid for his secrets for the UK govt (his government.
        He served his time apparently? so deserved his freedom in a free country.

        the fact Putin gave him up so easily probably means he has a follow up service, not a very reliable one. Nothing less than you’d expect from a country the size of 70 UK’s with just 2 times the population. There is a serious shortage of talent (and people) in Russia.

        • Herbie

          I see. He’s not a traitor because he served his time.

          Run that one by MI6 and let me know how you get on.

          “There is a serious shortage of talent (and people) in Russia.”

          There’s plenty of talent in Russia. How do you think Israel became so big in the hi-tech sector.

        • Paul Greenwood

          I’m not sure that he can be a traitor,

          Who George Blake ?
          Klaus Fuchs ?

          Who are you talking about ?

          Putin did not give him up……Medvedev pardoned him

  • Sharp Ears

    I have just read of the tragic death of a man when a window from a block of luxury flats fell on him from several storeys above.

    The flats have been built by Berkeley Homes, Tory donors incidentally, and some remain for sale. I checked the price and availability for a 2 bedroom flat. None were available at a price of £2m or below on their slider. I was told ‘Sorry there are no properties matching your criteria at this time.’

    Between £2.7m-£6.25m, five were available.

    The Corniche
    21 Albert Embankment SE1 7TJ
    £2,700,000 – £6,250,000
    https://www.berkeleygroup.co.uk/developments/london/albert-embankment/the-corniche

    But Treeza has said that the JAMS should not worry. Brexit will end austerity.

    In the night, I listened to Ian Goldin on the World Service – about the crash in 2008 and its effects and aftermath. Ten years on and the difference between the rich and the poor is even more grotesque than it was in 2008.

    Five episodes. Episode 1 – Authority and Trust
    The Compass,
    After the Crash Episode 1 of 5 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csxhjk
    In 2008 the world financial system had a heart attack. Gripped by panic, banks stopped lending, cash ran out and the world came to the edge of a financial precipice. As millions of people lost their jobs and as the shock that started in Wall Street reverberated around the world, the crisis led to a collapse of the Greek, Spanish, Icelandic and other economies.
    Professor Ian Goldin looks at the origins of the crash and he examines how it affected our trust in authorities and experts. He travels to New York to talk to some of the world’s leading academics including Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs and Adam Tooze and he hears from a former Lehman Brothers employee about the final days of the troubled business whose collapse led to the financial crisis.
    Presenter: Ian Goldin
    Producer: Ben Carter
    (Photo: Two employees of Christie’s auction house manoeuvre the Lehman Brothers corporate logo in London
    Credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

    Austerity and Consequences
    The Compass,
    After the Crash Episode 2 of 5 (the one I listened to) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csxhjl
    Did Governments’ handling of the 2008 financial crisis – when some chose to implement austerity and some didn’t – make things better or worse? Ian Goldin, professor of Globalisation and Development at Oxford University, visits Illinois in the US to find out how people were affected by the collapse in the housing market. He also talks to Christine Lagarde – the head of the International Monetary Fund – about how austerity measures were implemented in Europe. And Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Minister of Finance in Nigeria, talks about how the crisis was felt in Africa.

    Episode 3 next Wednesday and so on.
    Presenter: Ian Goldin
    Producer: Ben Carter
    (Photo: Child with banner, Credit: Getty Images)

    Next crash?

  • Doug Scorgie

    My opinion: the Skripals were willing actors in the Toxic Dagger exercise. They were not poisoned. Sturgeon died of a drug overdose. Her partner, Rowley, is being paid and/or coerced to say and do as he is told. The Skripals are alive and well; somewhere.

    • Borsht

      Wow Doug, I didn’t realise Sturgeon was involved, she actually supported the UK govt stance on this too!

    • Republicofscotland

      “Sturgeon died of a drug overdose. ”

      Wow, that’s news to me, maybe with Theresa May appointing a Famine minister pre-Brexit, she thought she’d end it all.

      Unless of course Doug you meant Sturgess? Of course you did, now do a wee Theresa dance. ?

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Who would take up the job of Republican election strategist for the rapidly approaching Mid terms? Every one of them screaming at Trump to STFU about Cristine Blasey Ford and the orange buffoon can’t resist the urge for instant affirmation at his latest “daddy needs love rally”.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/03/flake-trump-mockery-of-kavanaugh-accuser-appalling-864659

    Dumb as a bag of bolts. Sure it gets a good reaction from the gathered faithful but the neutral voters and soft Republicans across America will see the edited highlights on TV and witness a infinitely self entitled, rich male elite attack a lone woman.

    • Herbie

      “A trial in absentia or no trial at all will bring out the full picture”

      How would “no trial at all” bring out the full picture?

      I doubt there’ll be any trial worth the name, as I expect all they have to present in evidence is some garbage from Bellingcat.

      • Brian O'Blivion

        Your not the quickest are you Herbie? If there is no trial to be had, the evidence ceases to be sub-judice. Durrr!

    • Borsht

      Yep, the bits in red.
      Hilarious that Snowden is a Hero but Skripal is a traitor. Vlad is very very very angry, You wouldn’t want him as your boss and you failed to kill his target would you?

      • Herbie

        “Hilarious that Snowden is a Hero but Skripal is a traitor”

        Snowden is a traitor to the US, isn’t he. That’s what they keep telling us.

        And Skripal is a traitor to the Russian Federation.

        It’s not that complicated, but you’re having serious difficulty processing even those two small pieces of information.

        Explains the nonsense you’ve been peppering the board with.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Borsht October 3, 2018 at 17:25
        How can you equate the two? Snowden exposed wrongdoing in the US government and ‘security services’, as a duty to his country and his conscience.
        Skripol exposed undercover agents, putting their lives in danger, for cash.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Snowden reported on Illegal Spying AGAINST population of USA and UK by their own government agencies

    • FobosDeimos

      Putin lost his usual prudence by indulging in this absolutely ill-advised tirade. On the one hand he acts almost like a Buddhist monk when lamenting the “unfortunate chain of events” that led to the Israelis downing an IL-20 with 15 people on board, but then he explodes in insults when referring to a guy that the Russian government pardoned eight years ago? Very upsetting. I imagine that Yulia Skripal must not be feeling comfortable right now, is she was planning to ho back home. This statement by Putin plays right into the hands of those who have accused him personally of ordering the Skripal hit. Very unfortunate.

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