Gdansk 1781


Writing about your personal demons for the public is seldom a good idea, and it is a particularly bad idea when you are starting at 3.40am as they are haunting you. We are spending Hogmanay in the beautiful city of Gdansk. It is my first time here for over twenty years, but the city has remarkable memories for me.

In November 1994 I was newly arrived as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw when a fatal fire occurred at the famous shipyard, in a hall being used for a rock concert tied in to a MTV transmission. The fire doors were all padlocked shut, and the heat had reached such intensity that a flash fire had occurred right across the hall. Miraculously only five people had died immediately, but hundreds had been horrifically burnt or suffered fume inhalation and the hospitals were completely overwhelmed.

Within hours of the fire I was dispatched to Gdansk by our dynamic Ambassador and found myself on a train heading North with only a Motorola mobile phone the size of a large brick (1994) and a phone number for DFID, in those days a part of the FCO and known as ODA. I roused from his London bed the official in charge of emergency assistance, Mukesh Kapila, and he instructed me to get a list from the medical authorities of all the supplies required. He explained that major burns required large volumes of consumables by way of ointments and special gauzes and bandages.

Arriving in Gdansk I very soon discovered that the victims were dispersed round several hospitals and there was no central authority able to produce a list of requirements. Poland was still in the early stages of a shock transition from communism and elements of administration were shaky at the best of times, let alone in a large scale emergency. The only way to make any progress was for me physically to go to every hospital and every concerned ward, buttonhole the doctors there and ask them what they needed.

To say they were swamped would be ridiculous understatement. Victims were everywhere, very many critical, and in some places bleary-eyed doctors literally had nothing – creams, bandages, painkillers, saline drips all exhausted. Meeting many doctors, when I told them I could get anything sent out instantly, the reaction ranged from angrily incredulous to massive bear hugs.

It was of course difficult. In 1994 Polish medical practice differed quite sharply from British. There were language barriers; my as yet basic Polish lacked medical vocabulary. And I had to keep interrupting incredibly busy people. But after the first couple of hospitals I was able to extrapolate and phone through to Mukesh the most obviously urgent items, and by the end of the day I was clutching 16 handwritten lists and could sit down to consolidate them.

But I have not described to you what it was like to go round those wards. I really cannot – it was indescribable. Horribly disfigured people screaming and writhing in pain, begging and pleading for any relief, even asking to die. And the worst thing is, they were all teenagers – the average age seemed about 16. One image I shall never forget was of a girl sitting bolt upright in bed, looking calm, and I recall thinking that at least this one is OK. But I had seen her right profile and as I passed her, the left side of her face was literally skeletal, with a yellow blob for an eye, no skin and just the odd sinew attached to the bone. Her calm was catatonic.

But in a way still worse were two girls who looked perfectly healthy, lying on top of their beds apparently in an untroubled sleep. The doctor told me that they were already brain dead, having inhaled cyanide gas from the combustion of plastic seating. The mother of one of them was there and she pleaded with me to tell the doctor not to turn off the ventilator; the poor woman was crazed with grief and pulling at her hair, which was dyed red. I can still recall every detail of the faces of both mother and her still daughter.

I called in every day for a week or so and sat with the mother a few minutes, in silence. Then one day they were gone; the doctors had switched off the ventilator.

Andrze Kanthak, our Honorary Consul, was a fantastic support and worked extremely hard throughout this period – but as we walked together into the first ward, Andrze simply fainted straight out at the sight of it all. That evening we had hardly finished consolidating my 16 lists and sending them off to Mukesh when news arrived that the first shipment of most urgent supplies was arriving at Gdansk airport, and we dashed off there with a lorry from the City Council.

It was a bitter disappointment. Customs refused to release the medicines until duty had been paid and, still worse, everything would need to be checked and certified by the food and drug administration, which could take weeks. All my fury at the self-satisfied officials was of no avail, and we returned temporarily baffled.

A phone call now came that DFID had chartered a flight to arrive the next day with 20 tons of medical supplies, so the situation was now critical. Walesa was now President and I suggested we contact his office, but Andrze advised we should rather recruit Father Jankowski.

Jankowski was the parish priest in Gdansk who had been integral to the Solidarnosc movement, and at that time he wielded enormous political influence. His home was extraordinary for a parish priest – literally palatial – and when I met him there the next day he readily agreed to help. He came to the airport with us as the chartered cargo flight arrived, and supervised the loading into the council lorries which I dispatched to the various hospitals. A tall imposing figure in a flowing black cassock, the customs officials who had blocked us obeyed him without question.

Things calmed down over the next few days, Mukesh Kapila himself came out, and the hospitals once supplied performed brilliantly. Astonishingly, from hundreds of cases of severe and extensive burns, with scores in intensive care, we lost nobody except the two girls who were already brain dead, bringing the final death toll to seven. The incredible survival rate was viewed as a miracle, and perhaps it was, but it was a miracle assisted by some fantastic doctors, by Mukesh Kapila and his staff, by Father Jankowski, by Andrze Kanthak and by the Secretary of Gdansk Council whose name (Janowski?) has slipped my mind, embarrassingly as the experience made us firm friends for a long while.

But I am afraid to say the personal impact on me was quite severe. It is no secret that I struggle against bipolar disorder, and the sheer horror of those days in the wards undoubtedly triggered me for quite a while. I also suffered recurrent nightmares for more than a decade, about the horrific burns but also about the brain dead child and the mother tearing her hair. Worse than the nightmares were the waking flashbacks, not so much visual as emotional, experiencing the feeling of it happening again.

When I got back to the Embassy nobody was very interested in what I had been doing. I was ticked off for returning a day late and also for not obtaining much media publicity for the UK’s role. I have written before that one of my frequent duties in Poland was to conduct high profile visitors around the concentration camps, a visit all British politicians wish to make. Those places filled me with horror, which resonated on the same emotional frequency as the Gdansk trauma. Those frequent visits made my time in Poland difficult to me, which is a shame as it is a delightful country and people.

Back here now as a tourist, with my family and at a festive time, no troubling memories are assailing me. I find I can now be proud of what we did, rather than ashamed at my emotional reaction afterwards. And I can’t quite tell you why, but I felt it should be recorded.

Finally, it is worth noting that this Gdansk experience was one of a number which led me immediately to understand that the famous BBC report on “Saving Syria’s Children” was faked. The alleged footage of burns victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.

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1,781 thoughts on “Gdansk

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  • freddy

    From Fox (sorry)

    Ret Army Col Douglas MacGregor gets it right?

    We’ve stayed in Syria because its lining the pockets in politicians who have invested real money into companies that profit from the war. We HAD to get out quickly because there were 10’s of thousands of Turkish troops ready to attack the Kurds in N. Syria. Putin has been playing both sides. POTUS has put Putin in a pickle because now he has to decide between the Turks or Iran/Syria.

    I think there’s a problem and you’ve got to remember that most of your senior officers are products of the Clinton/Bush/Obama era so they have a lot invested in this. Remember that the people who live in the 7-zip codes in and around Washington DC have all become millionaires as a result of their investment in these failed operations.

    So you put the two together and you have a lot of resistance to ending something that’s being profitable for them, it hasn’t been profitable for the American people. It’s been a disaster. Trillions of dollars in debt over the last 17 years, thousands of people killed and wounded and for what? The answer is not much.

    People know once we leave Syria, once we get completely out of Iraq, once we get completely out of Afghanistan it’s over. President Trump is going to do that. That’s very clear. This pause is just that, it is a pause. We had to get out of northern Syria quickly. The reason for that is simply there were tens of thousands of Turkish troops poised to attack the Kurds, the terrorists who have been attacking Turkey in northern Syria. We got the Syrian government to go in there, we got out. Now we have created an enormous problem for Mr. Putin. Because Mr. Putin has cultivated the Turks, Mr. Putin has also cultivated his Iranian and Syrian allies. He’s got to make a choice – does he allow the Turks into Syria? Then he loses his position with the Syrians and the Iranians. So the notion that Mr. Putin has somehow or another won something is absurd. This has been a very clever move on the part of the president.

    The truth is that by getting out of the way, we have eliminated the consensus that was holding these various diverse partners together. There is no reason why the Turks, the Russians, the Iranians should cooperate at all and that’s a good thing.

    • Wikikettle

      The Kurds have had to go back cap in hand back to the government of Syria. Their NATO ‘allies’ have used them and now said goodbye. The general is trying to put a good face on it. The fact is that Russia tells Turkey, Iran and even Israel what they can do and not do. NATO has tried and failed to break up Syria. Turkey has failed to use its proxy Jihadists to overthrow Assad. Syria has an enormous task ahead to consolidate and rebuild. No doubt the vultures will still hang high in the thermals, waiting. Turkey is an unreliable partner for the Russians. Putin should cancel the S400 sale. I really wish China helps the Russians with troops and finance. The problem for NATO and Turkey is what to do with all their Jihadists in Idlib. Reading the Intercept, it seems the jihadists as long ago as 2015 have been used in Ukraine, The general is wrong, there was never a consensus between Syria, Iran and Russia on the one hand and Turkey on the other. He and NATO would of course like a fall out to keep chaos going. Disgusting.

      • Wikikettle

        No doubt NATO will ship out their proxy Jihadists to Ukraine and Libya. The problem is that these geezers are capable of turning against their old supporters, Saudia Arabia, Gulf States, US, UK, France, Canada and Australia……so shall you reap……

        • nevermind

          Why do we call them jihadis when they are mercenaries/knights for hire.

          We invented, financially supported and preached a political islam in the madrassas of Pakistan, all to oppose the mujahedins and the Taliban who send the Russians packing like they send the British empire back home in the 19th century.

          Afghanistans rare earth deposits, a key to efficient energy generation from non fossile diverse technologies.
          33%of UK energy needs generated by alternative energies was the headline this week, and we haven’t really started yet.

          We should not build Sizewell B+C, less dangerous(terrorist/military target) and without longterm environmental concerns, need for reprocessing, an expensive undertaking full of risks, means to generate alternative energies are still in their infancy and an exciting prospect for modern cross industrial engineers to come.

          Lets take back control over energy generation andnd send french/chinese/japanese nuclear power liabilities home, as well of the offshore registered frackers who demand protection and public services/attention for their environmental destruction of the water bearing strata, without paying a penny for it.

          The scope to develop alternative energy generation units in villages coastal towns and on our roofs, from wave wind and the sun, from differences in temperatures and much more

          Here is a thought biscuit…
          what would it take to transmit energy, high and low, without any wires or cables…
          ,

          • Blunderbuss

            “Here is a thought biscuit…
            what would it take to transmit energy, high and low, without any wires or cables”

            Nicola Tesla thought of that a long time ago. There are differing opinions on whether he succeeded.

          • Wikikettle

            Indeed, there is so much a new deal government can do to regenerate the economy with clean technology. Generate jobs, engineering and actually make things ! Our fiat, casino, corrupt politicians, preach patriotism, yet have almost destroyed our/their own country. Less is more. Where are the leaders to lead by example ? Live simpler and healthier lives. Consume less. Eat less meat. Remove nuclear power and bombs. Invest in public transport and new rural trains and bus services. So much to do at home ! Yet we build bases overseas and pretend we are still a global power.

    • giyane

      freddy

      Ret Army Col Douglas MacGregor :

      ” There is no reason why the Turks, the Russians, the Iranians should cooperate at all and that’s a good thing. ”

      There is a very good reason why these three are co-operating and IMHO NATO is in total denial of the fact that Russia has totally defeated NATO in Syria, both in military and moral terms.

      Erdogan is an unprincipled mercenary who is hated by all sides. He has decided that Trump hates him because of the failed coup and he has hopped into bed with Putin for safety. Erdogan found out that he cannot put his army anywhere Russia doesn’t want him to put them without Russia bombing his tanks. Whoops.

      Iran’s role in the Middle East is to keep the Saudis busy for the West. Obama’s sanction lifting has topped up their coffers and weaponry, but every time the US gives Iran more lead against the Saudis, they realise they’ve made everything worse for their own interests so they bring Iran to heel. Iran has also jumped into bed with Putin because they are scared of the Saudi-Israel alliance.

      I know it’s difficult for Trump and May to concede defeat but no amount of drivel composed by arseholes from the British Foreign Office or retired, and highly respected, Colonels from the US, can write out the fact of USUKIS Syrian and therefore world wide defeat. Trump has eliminated nothing, except some hurt pride at being the POTUS when his predecessors and their bonkers policies have left him on the losing side.

    • Dungroanin

      The Turks are not going into Syria without full US backup, which would actually require MORE US involvement.

      It has been Putins match for ages… it was just a few more usless moves for the fukus trying to somehow get him to make a error. Russian chess masters aren’t known for doing that.

    • Deb O'Nair

      I watched it (not on your recommendation I might add). A story that has been repeated hundreds of thousands of times throughout the country without too much deviation from the film’s script. My favourite part was the Scottish fella berating the police for dragging Blake off into custody “What’s that f*cking bald c*nts name, Ian Duncan Smith?”

    • Andyoldlabour

      @Sharp Ears,

      A brilliant, heart wrenching film and very close to the truth.
      We watched it when it first came out and we were both unemployed at the time. At the end of the film there were a lot of people who had been visibly moved by it.

  • Charles Bostock

    Well, it’s not the end of the weekend yet, but today’s events in France have given the lie to the claims of certain political analysts and government propagandists (and even some commenters on here who claim special knowledge of all matters French**) that the “gilets jaunes” movement had run out of steam and was dying on its feet.

    Far from it, it seems.

    And this despite the increasingly frantic attempts by the French state to throttle the movement. The methods employed by the French state include detaining some of the perceived leaders on fake charges, the indiscriminate use of force and lots of black propaganda to the effect that the “gilets jaunes” are subversives, anti-semites, racists, anarchists, etc.

    One of course assumes that the state will not go to the same lengths as it did back in 1961, when the police killed several hundred Algerian demonstrators in Paris and threw their bodies into the Seine, but the various methods being used at present show rather clearly that the French state needs no lessons in repression from anyone. In fact, it appears to get away with being the most repressive state in Western Europe.

    Those who continually run down Britain should look carefully at what goes on in France with a view to redirecting their righteous anger and virtue-signalling!

    ___________________

    ** these people display the remarkable ability to criticise Britain for “x” while overlooking exactly similar offences or misdeeds in France. The only explanation which offers itself is that phenomenon George Orwell was pleased to call “transferred nationalism”.

    • bj

      Cannot argue with most of what you said.
      Which surprises me so, that I wonder if it’s not a quote from somewhere.

    • Laguerre

      3500 demonstrators apparently. That’s a state-overturning number, is it? They’d be lost in Trafalgar Square. They’re certainly rather more persistent than I thought, but even the French are getting fed up. No-one wants to get poorer, which is the only consequence possible. After all, Brexit and the Gilets Jaunes are almost identical phenomena, with a slightly different manifestation. Getting poorer is what you Brexiters want, and you are going to succeed in your wish, I imagine.

      • Xavi

        What are you talking about? The yellow vests are protesting government policies that are making them poorer. The same policy formula that has reduced Germany to being the most unequal society in the eurozone and which helped produce phenomena like Brexit and Trump.

      • Charles Bostock

        ” Getting poorer is what you Brexiters want, and you are going to succeed in your wish, I imagine.”

        That is the second time you have called me a Brexiteer. I have already told people twice on this blog that I am not. Third time lucky, Laguerre : I am not a Brexiteer.

        Do you have a memory problem or are you just an inveterate smearer?

    • JOML

      Charles, I’ve read “there’s going to be a yellow vest protest in London on 15th January, and rumour has it that it’s going to be a big one.”
      If this is true, it will be interesting to compare the British authorities’ reaction with what’s happening in France. I suspect it will be similar, with both the British and French having form for oppression.

      • Charles Bostock

        I believe there is far less need for a “gilets jaunes” movement in the UK. One of the reasons being that in societal terms the state is seen as far less oppressive in the UK than it is in France and its decisions (to take just two examples : rulings in the social security field; decisions concerning the environment) much more open to (successful) challenge.

        I do wonder why some people on here appear to have appointed themselves as spokesmen for the current French government, it’s probably just transferred nationalism.

          • Laguerre

            Britain is a far more controlled society than France. I’m surprised you don’t understand even that very simple point.

          • Charles Bostock

            I understand it very well, Laguerre. The difference between you and me is that I tell it how it is. But of course I don’t suffer from the phenomenon known as “transferred nationalism”.

          • Charles Bostock

            “Britain is a far more controlled society than France.”

            I should say far more self-controlled, Laguerre.

            As regards both people and governments.

          • Laguerre

            You don’t even understand Britain, CB. Not surprising for an English exceptionalist.

      • Goodwin

        I hope if the British yellow vests are as violent as some of the “gilets jaunes”, those nasty controlling British authorities royally kick the sh*t out of them.

    • Xavi

      It’s true, cultural memory of 1961 and its long coverup by the state is one of the main reasons why France has the most alienated and radicalized Muslim population in Europe.

      • giyane

        Xavi

        If you are comparing the diaspora Muslims in the UK with the diaspora Muslims in France, you would have to take into account their countries of origin and their colonising countries, and the extent of assimilation between them over long periods of time as well as what has happened in the years since.
        I know nothing about Muslims in France but in the UK Brits got to know the Asians of the sub-continent and vice versa. We know their buttons and they know ours. The Brits have used Islamist radicalisation for centuries against Russia which is possibly a vent for radicalisation. France and Russia have a more civilised relationship with eachother than us brits.

        Since I am relatively new to both Britain, my great-great-grandparents having fled France as Huguenots, and Islam , to which I fled from the abomination of Thatcherism 20 years ago, I find it hard to comment. in summary , Islam is better than Britain and Britain is better than France. I don’t like the British Islamist components which I regard as neither British nor Islamic. In my mind they are a big waste of time and energy, and a barrier to the spread of Islam across the cultural membrane to the best of British society.

        Oh, this soapbox has finally collapsed. no problem, I’ll stick it on the woodburner. over and out.

      • Charles Bostock

        Tony

        You are asking that because some of my views are unexpected and therefore surprise you. But you should not be surprised. Unlike most regulars, I am neither an obsessive, nor the slave to any particular political or ideological take, nor a fan of conspiracy theories, nor a disgruntled oldie needing an outlet and like-minded virtual company. Moreover, I’m rather good at identifying fraudulent posters. When you consider that, on top of all, that I have a wicked sense of humour and the ridiculous and am extremely intelligent, well-informed and well-read then nothing I write should ever surprise you!

        • Deb O'Nair

          For such an intelligent and well read person it’s a shame that you did not place the commas correctly in that last sentence because it appears to undermine your point.

        • Republicofscotland

          “I am neither an obsessive, nor the slave to any particular political or ideological ”

          Charles.

          Surely you couldn’t have kept a straight face whilst typing in the above? I know I didn’t have one on reading it.?

        • King of Welsh Noir

          Charles

          It may or may not be true that you are younger than the majority of posters on here. But it is certain that some of the former incumbents of the ‘Habbabkuk’ Avatar have been getting on a bit in years. In particular I remember one who talked a bit too excitedly about a ‘tea dance’ he was going to attend and the young ladies whose company there he hoped to enjoy. Who under 70 even knows what a ‘tea dance’ even is?

    • Tom

      It all sounds very like the White Helmets to me – and we know who was running them. The Yellow Vests looks like another of the CIA’s regime change coups dressed up as a popular uprising. The same goes for Brexit, probably.

  • Charles Bostock

    Still on matters French : when the US, Britain, etc seek to throw OUT of office various unpleasant (and in many cases murderous) dictators in foreign lands by military intervention, they get a lot of stick from various people. And, indeed, on here as well.

    But the French keep a (sometimes substantial) military presence in numerous African countries (former colonies), whose primary role appears to be to keep various unpleasant dictators IN office. The fact that those unpleasant dictators are pro-French and help maintain French political and economic interests in their countries is surely entirely coincidental.

    Why does this appear to attract so little attention, let alone criticism, among the the armchair strategists, pundits, denouncers of colonialism and post-colonialism and virtue signallers?

    • bj

      I don’t share your disdain for armchair strategists, pundits, denouncers of colonialism and post-colonialism and virtue signallers”.
      (Whilst –oddly enough– you belong to them).

      That’s democracy in action.
      Better such than ‘the state’ and its minions feeding us our opinions.
      (There’s a slogan in there).

      In short: here’s to the Armchair Pundit.

      • Charles Bostock

        bj

        I think I go in for very little of the four phenomena you’ve picked me up for compared to most of the regulars on here. Do a post or word count 🙂

    • JohninMK

      The French military are there for a deeper and much more important reason than appears on the surface.

      When their colonies won their liberation it was not the full independence that we gave most of ours. They remained and remain bound to the Bank of France. France has complete control over their financing and extracts interest and other fees. How much this is worth to France is classified but it is believed to be in the many Euro100 millions a year. This is one of the reasons why the French have never totally pulled their forces from these countries.

      It is also the reason the French were desperate to eliminate Ghaddifi who was offering to refinance all those countries using his oil wealth, so cutting the French revenue stream. No way was that to be allowed to happen, as he and his fellow countrymen found out as Libya turned from the richest country in Africa to one of the poorest.

      • Charles Bostock

        If correct that is truly deplorable.

        Did the much-reviled Brits (by some on here) do the same with their former African colonies I wonder?

        • Jo1

          It was the French AF which shot on Gaddafi’s convoy while their presence in Libya was solely to enforce a “no-fly zone”.

          • Charles Bostock

            If that is correct then it puts posters who are both pro-Gaddafi and pro-French into a bit of a hole, doesn’t it. A Nanterre hole as it’s known by some.

          • Deb O'Nair

            That was because Sarkozy wanted Gadaffi dead due to the €5 million loan he received from Gadaffi to fund his 2007 campaign. Two birds with one stone; Sarkozy doesn’t have to pay the loan back and he won’t have to worry about embarrassing revelations from an imprisoned Gadaffi.

      • michael norton

        France also require yellow cake from its African former colonies.
        France would collapse, without yellow cake.
        nearly 90% of French electricity comes from nuclear.
        No Uranium is mined in France.

        • michael norton

          There is only one hundred years of Uranium left for the planet, that’s if we no longer make nuclear weapons and also do not increase the amount consumed by reactors.
          France has to transition away from Uranium or buy up very large parts of the world’s dwindling resource.

      • Node

        They remained and remain bound to the Bank of France. France has complete control over their financing …

        Yes, the Bank of France controls those former colonies. However France neither owns nor controls the Bank of France. The private bankers who own the Bank of France control BOTH France and its former colonies.

        • JohninMK

          Thanks, I forgot about that part. I assume that the owners of the BoF are the same as the Fed in the US and extract the same benefits i.e usury secured on the tax base.

    • Tony

      There is a very good recent article on Off Guardian adressing this very issue. You see, Charles, it requires the effort to read the alternative media to inform oneself about such stuff. The graun, indy, et al don’t touch such painful truths with a large barge pole.

      • Charles Bostock

        I do not need to read Off Guardian or other similar alternative media to know what I know and to help me formulate what I write.

        • John A

          No, you clearly, but will no doubt deny, get your orders from the Integrity Initiative.

  • michael norton

    It seems that the Isolation of Syria is ending.
    It is no longer being said that Assad is a butcher, that Assad must go.
    The government of Syria is being called a government, no long the Regime.
    Several Gulf countries are re-opening their embassies in Damascus, Gulf money is going to be made available for rebuilding.
    The Kurds are about to jump into bed with the government of Syria.
    Happy 2019

      • Charles Bostock

        Assad has merely gained a new lease of life.

        But as you will know, Laguerre (since you are a great expert on all matters Middle Eastern), that Arab dictators and assorted strongmen don’t last for ever and tend not to die in their beds. In fact, they tend to get overthrown, sooner or later, by their own oppressed subjects or by their own militaries.

        (Compare and contrast what happens to Israeli Prime Ministers…)

        • Deb O'Nair

          “Compare and contrast what happens to Israeli Prime Ministers”

          What, that they tend to leave office under a cloud of corruption allegations?

        • SA

          Charlie
          “….assorted strongmen don’t last for ever and tend not to die in their beds. In fact, they tend to get overthrown, sooner or later,”

          The great majority of Arab dictators have long dynasties as in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , the various sheikhdoms and emirates none of whom have been overthrown by thier loyal subjects and many have died in their beds. Those are the ones who are our favoured dictators. Next time you generalise please be a bit more specific.

    • Tony

      Not only is this fantastic for Syria, it’s heartening for the resistance in the West. The deep state has suffered a major defeat. We need to keep the momentum going.

  • Charles Bostock

    @ Tatyana

    I’ve read your long series of posts with considerable interest and I do like your style and approach, it’s very well done. “Chapeau!” as one might have exclaimed in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg. And I also admire the width of your knowledge of both Russia and the West, it puts many other perhaps more amateur contributors to this blog to shame.

    But what I really wanted to ask you was the following.

    I’ve been reading an admirable little opus called “Russie, reformes et dictatures 1953-2016” by a French academic (if Russian descent) called Andrei Kozovoi. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Anyway, he recounts the following joke (of circa 2010) about President Putin (my translation):

    “A man goes along a queue of cars standing in a traffic jam along one of Moscow’s main avenues. He taps on the window of one of them and says “Terrorists have taken Vladimir Putin hostage, they’re demanding a ransom of 10 million dollars otherwise they’re threatening to douse him in petrol and burn him alive. Everyone needs to contribute – how about you?”. The driver answers “I can stump up a jerrycan!”.

    So my question is : do people still make jokes in puiblic about President Putin in 2019? Is that widespread? And could you perhaps share a couple with us?

    Many thanks!

    • bj

      The problem with that joke is that it is universal, non-specific.

      Substitute May, Macron or Merkel for Putin and the effect stays.

    • Tatyana

      Hi, Charles. Thanks for your compliments and for your question.
      bj is correct, the joke is old and universal.
      One can find it here with comments that the same joke was about Yanukovich and Euromaidain in Ukraine.
      https://pikabu.ru/story/politicheskiy_anekdot_156662

      Jokes about Putin are mostly about his electoral promises (not fulfilled), about Alina Kabaeva (his supposed girl-friend), about unpopular pension reform, about his long presidential term, about his relations with oligarchs and Medvedev, about government not daring to say a word against his decesions, and many many jokes abot brave Putin mocking american president (Obama and Trump).

      Here is one:
      “Ivan complains to his wife:
      – This time we have some kind of unfortunate Putin. The previous ones were much better – one made Chechnya a peaceful place, another had Crimea returned. And this … wants to steal our pension, prices are rising …
      – Do not worry, Vanechka, – the wise spouse has consoled him. – God willing, the next Putin will be better.”

      And another, parody on advertising slogan:
      “Elect Putin 4 times and get 1 Medvedev free”

      Trump being Putin’s agent 🙂 nice nice christmas video joke by Sputnik. “Gift Happens”
      https://sputniknews.com/viral/201812241070972546-russian-meddling-joke-video/

      • Charles Bostock

        Thanks very much for the info, Tat, and the couple of examples. Please also thank your team on my behalf , they done good 🙂

        • Tatyana

          I cannot express my dissapointment with your last sentence, Charles.
          Despite I had been told and warned many times, but I still was hoping to have good conversation with you here.

          You are free to have any opinion on me, as I said.
          But me, also, am free to ignore you from now on.

          Vaya con Dios.

          • Isa

            excellent Tatyana. And also the most effective way of dealing with the Charles of this life ?

          • Tatyana

            The moral of the story, before perfomance is over 🙂

            Emotional imprints that we get in childhood, we remember them very long. E.g. a man saying there are cute kittens over there and you step aside the pavement to look over the bush. As you can easily guess, no kittens, but something resembling a wrinkled piece of strange leather cloth appears before your eyes. And a man is glad and joyful and proud of what he had done.
            Now, when grown up and seen some samples of male anatomy, I realise there was nothing there to be proud of. And that his joy doesn’t even relate somehow to me or my trust in people.
            It is just his perveted way to have fun. Not my problem.

            Bring down the curtain.

    • John Goss

      The problem with that joke is it is alternative humour. As I think Les Dawson put it regarding alternative comedy “It’s alternative to being funny”. Anyway, keep trying.

      • John Goss

        Sorry, Tatyana that was for Charles Bostock who I suspect buttered you up (as we say) hoping for a string of funny anti-Putin jokes so he can say “Look, this is what the Russians really think about Putin.” You should know by now his xenophobic hatred towards the Russian people.

        By the way, did he ever apologise for claiming you were somebody pretending to be a Russian? Xenophobes rarely apologise. They just continue with their unmitigated bigotry trying to score points. You don’t have to tolerate him you know.

      • Tony

        Well, humour works quite differently around the world John. But I witnessed Les Dawson on a chat show once, having a couple of leading (at the time) alternative comedians eating out of his hand. It was an education for both of then.

      • Tom Welsh

        No “joke” that involves anyone being deliberately burned alive can possibly be funny. And the only reason I can imagine why anyone might think it funny is a boiling, vitriolic intensity of hatred that I can’t imagine feeling for anyone.

        No one is all good or all bad; and most politicians are mainly rather boring inadequate people.

        As it happens, Mr Putin strikes me (and many others) as the greatest statesman on the world stage today. He is kind, decent, thoughtful and religious. He also seems to have a deep and genuine respect for law and treaties.

  • Dungroanin

    Syria/US/Russia/Israel
    It just gets funnier and it’s only the first week of the year.

    “F*ck you,” said General Abdi, as the Kurds continue to negotiate:
    Syrian Kurdish leaders aim to secure a Russian-mediated political deal with President Bashar Assad’s government regardless of U.S. plans to withdraw from their region, a senior Kurdish official told Reuters..”
    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/01/syria-turkey-fails-in-idleb-is-unwilling-to-take-the-northeast.html#more

    Fine reporting on how Putin has won the game by MoA

    • Dungroanin

      Also part of the same MoA article:

      ‘The Astana agreement between Russia and Turkey over Idleb stipulated that HTS would be pushed back 15 miles from the government held areas. The M4 and M5 highways would be reopened to traffic for government traffic. Turkey was supposed to implement and guarantee those points. Not one of these points has been achieved. The Turkish soldiers stationed in six observation posts around Idleb governorate are hostages to HTS. As Turkey failed to deliver on its promises Syria and Russia have all rights to ignore the agreement, attack HTS and to liberate Idleb.’

      So how are the II/IoS Russia trolls hanging?

    • John Goss

      I made mental observations when I cycled through Turkey in 2000. By English standards Turkey is quite barren but between the border (I entered through Bulgaria) and Istanbul nearly every copse and wooded area appeared to be occupied by military camps. It was really difficult for me to find somewhere to pitch my tent and mostly I stayed in hotels. Why any country would want to invade another is beyond rational thought. But barren places seem to be all the rage for modern warfare. Is there something beneath the ground?

      I met some very pleasant men in Turkey who were helpful to me. People are much the same in all countries is my experience – good and bad. Incidentally my details will not appear on any UK census for the year 2000 because I was not here.

  • bj

    “The Guardian’s typically public and outspoken editor-in-chief Kath Viner has all but disappeared since the story was published on November 27. Since then, she stopped tweeting entirely except to commemorate the November 30 death of a Guardian columnist. Harding has also tweeted just once since then.”

    • Dungroanin

      Do they turn to dust when exposed to light?

      I’m going to have to invest in a daylight bulb torch.

  • Sharp Ears

    ‘Two British special forces soldiers have been seriously injured in an Islamic State attack in Syria, the BBC understands.

    British special forces are believed to be operating in Syria but the Ministry of Defence would not confirm this.

    Social media reports said the two British soldiers were attacked by a missile near the town of Deir al-Zour.’

    BBC News – Two British soldiers injured in Islamic State attack in Syria
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46772412

    Of course if you believed the lying Tories, the UK has no military operating in Syria. The two were evacuated by the US. The US are not present in Syria either!

    • Dave

      Its an interesting report, because it admits to British soldiers being in Syria, illegally, but presumably to show the IS franchise still exists in Syria, hence still a threat requiring a British (US) presence, to stop knife attacks in London!!!

    • Stonky

      ‘Two British special forces soldiers have been seriously injured in an Islamic State attack in Syria, the BBC understands…

      A year ago it would have been “the Assad regime” attacking them with “barrel bombs” or “chemical weapons”.

      But hey. In order to keep the gravy train running, the warmongers narrative has to evolve with the times…

      • JohninMK

        Local reports suggest that 5-7 Brits were admitted to a field hospital in the Omar oil field, with two very serious. In the same incident the result of an ISIS attack in Sha’afa, a YPG soldier, possibly female, was killed.

        With that number of casualties from a single ATGM it looks like an UKSF vehicle (a Bushmaster Escapade?) was hit, similar to French SF Aravis near Raqqa in 2017. The Bushmaster has been in service with British Special Forces since 2008, when 24 were purchased for use by the 22nd Special Air Service (22 SAS) in Iraq, with the Escapade being an upgraded version.

        Sha’afa was the location of a Coalition airstrike last November that apparently killed 60 civilians and is in the area east of the Euphrates, south of Deir, where ISIS are probably making their last stand. That is unless, like Raqqa, the US lets a large convoy of them out to say al-Tanf. The Syrians/Iraqis estimate in the order of 1500-2000 are in the pocket currently under assault from an invigorated SDF effort, the SAA crossing the river and Iraqi units from over the border.

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          Thanks for relaying the local report. The scant report on the BBC News site has been expunged. Still there if you burrow down through World – Middle East. Jeez that was quick. Perhaps we weren’t supposed to find out at all?

  • Sharp Ears

    I saw it in a cinema. When it ended there was a silence and then you could hear a quiet sobbing. Some had tears streaming down their faces as we emerged into the daylight.

    Perhaps Ms Rudd saw it too. Are the Tories running scared?

    Threat of revolt forces rethink of ‘catastrophic’ universal credit
    Amber Rudd delays vote on roll-out of new benefit to 3 million people, saying system must ‘work for every claimant’
    5 Jan 2019

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/05/amber-rudd-to-delay-universal-credit-roll-out-pilot-study

      • Charles Bostock

        There’s a whole tribe of people – the Loaches and Pilgers of this world – who have made a good living out of people’s misery.

        • Tony

          If Jon Pilger’s motivation was ‘a good living’, he would be tempering his journalism so that it could still get published in the msm. How much lower are you going to go Charles?

          • Charles Bostock

            I want to keep up with the crowd on here, Tony. That means that I can go a lot lower still.

          • Charles Bostock

            Tony

            Pilget’s been more of a book scribbler than a journalist for ages now. His books apparently sell well enough, I’m told.

          • Charles Bostock

            You appall quite easily, I fear. This blog is no place for the sensitive and the emotionally fragile.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “You appall quite easily”

            On the contrary. Your comment is appalling because it is disingenuous, nasty and spiteful and not because of any personal feeling I have towards it.

          • Deb O'Nair

            Just to elucidate the point; If you made an offensive comment towards an ethnic or religious group which I was not a member of I could point out that the comment was offensive without being personally offended. Perhaps you should try and understand better the syntax of the English language.

          • Charles Bostock

            Something tells me I touched a raw nerve (or two) with my observation about the Pilger/Loach camarilla.

            But what I said was true, wasn’t it, and the phenomenon goes much wider, of course. Take, for example, the avalanche of books telling people about how terrible the 2008 crisis was and how it led to austerity and even impoverishment for the many. Many of the authors have done rather well from the sales. And hey, why not? Even the most rabid of anti-free-marketeers should not be begrudged his share of any profitable enterprise going!

          • Blunderbuss

            If Bostik is working for Integrity Initiative, he’s not doing a very good job for his masters. Perhaps they will sack him.

          • Tony

            No Charles. What you said about Jon Pilger was lies. Jon Pilger is long past doing his journalism for the money. And if you were anything other than an obnoxious troll you would have apologised for your faux pas.

      • Dave

        A key element of Universal Credit was make the irresponsible poor more responsible in the management of their finances. So weekly payments were replaced with monthly payments and rent money was paid to tenant rather than landlord, compounded by late payments when circumstances changed. Well meaning in principle, but resulted in the money being spent early and rent not paid and increasing debt.

        • Deb O'Nair

          I don’t agree that making people more responsible was the drive behind paying rent directly to claimants. The rent was paid directly knowing that people would be driven into rent arrears and homelessness through the sanctions regime. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that if your living allowance part of UC is stopped then you will simply start using the unsanctioned rent element to pay for food etc. This puts the financial burden onto local authorities and away from the DWP, whose only solution to sanction imposed poverty is the foodbank and the hardship loan regime which is usually paltry and which has to be repaid once the sanction is finished, thereby extending the length of poverty beyond the sanction period. No one who get’s sanctioned under UC avoids rent arrears.

  • Sharp Ears

    Before Theresa May appears on Marr, Mrs Gove aka Sarah Vine who scribbles for the Heil, is reviewing the papers. She is pushing for May’s ‘deal’ to be accepted.

    YCNMIU

    • Dave

      Well I did wonder at Gove’s support for Leave, as he is a neo-con who once admitted to “loving Blair”. I appreciate the issue cuts across many different creeds, but thought he was siding with Leave to sabotage Leave, perhaps proved by his betrayal of Boris becoming Conservative leader and May’s Deal is Brexit in name only.

      • michael norton

        Gove is a clever weasel.
        You have pinned him correctly.
        Like May they wish to deliver a none brexit.

        • Tony

          Almost correct. They want their non-brexit deal not to be delivered, so that the only way forward will be a second referendum (they will keep on voting until they get it right) which remain will win because the msm have relentlessly been telling us for the last two years that brexit will eat our babies.

      • Laguerre

        Gove is simply an agent of Murdoch, a foreigner intervening in British politics. He does what Murdoch tells him to.

        • Deb O'Nair

          Who can forget the temper tantrum he threw when parliament voted down Cameron’s attempt to bomb the people of Syria in the name of defending the people of Syria, he was spitting blood at those who averted yet another illegal war and foreign policy debacle.

  • michael norton

    A Brexiteer backbencher has revealed that there is huge momentum building behind a no deal Brexit after dismissing any chances of Theresa May’s beleaguered Brexit deal passing in Parliament.

    Very good news, I hope they get rid of Theresa may as soon as possible, her aim is to leave us shackled to the corpse of the E.U.

    • Dungroanin

      I disagree Michael.

      Her aim. The Tory aim. The brexiteers aim.
      Has always been the same.
      A ‘No Deal’ brexit.
      Ensuring freedom from common regulations and legal oversight by the independent CJEU.
      A WTO rules replacement as an excuse to cover the real intention – a direct US/UK tie up!
      The WTO signed upto by Major in 1994 – without a vote in parliament OR a referendum.
      A WTO with opaque tribunals!
      Tribunals so over worked and unloved that even the US has had enough of trying to ‘fix’ them because the Chinese and others are a lot more sophisticated than the Anglo imperialists ever thought ‘foreigners’ could be – even 30 years ago.
      The US fallback is to withdraw from WTO and engage in arm wrestling with individual countries on bilateral basis for the next 30 years probably!
      And that means the hard brexit WTO gambit is a dead man walking – even before next weeks ‘vote’.

      So our only choice by default by the Tories and brexiteers will be the one they planned for for decades.

      A BILATERAL with the USA.
      Game over.

      The whole scenario has been gamed to get that Anglo- Saxon Imperial past set onto it’s future course of managed decline – watch as the 5 eyes are forced onto one mutant head.
      But like Frankensteins megalomania and his monster, it is a DOOMED course.

      The best course for most of the British PEOPLE (not the white supremacist aristos and financiers and the servile yeomanry -‘Tommy’, its purported master sergeant) is to change the enablers of the current plans.
      That means a sweeping change in the ‘servants’ of these plans- from the lowly oxbridge civil ones in the various offices of state, to the old families, security and defence power holders and their brethren in the MSM (who are howling non-stop at JC in the media above and below the line)

      That choice exists for real for the first time since the 60’s and Harold Wilson.

      It is the Corbynite Labour party and its million members who are the largest grassroots party in Europe. A party not in thrall to the large donations from private offshore plutocrats.
      Just like the other actual grass roots organisations across Europe.
      WE – can change Europe and the reality of a democratic planet in these next few months.

      It starts by having a GE and letting the people decide.

      Every sinew is stretched to breaking point as the status quo managers contort themselves in avoiding that GE, that alternative Government that would set humanities future on this planet.

      • giyane

        Dungroanin

        Miss Haversham has an inability to adapt emotionally, a strange phenomenon resulting from emotional repression we have had the good fortune not to experience ourselves. May, Fox, Williamson, Redwood, and these blousy Tory females like cadswallops features who I wouldn’t even click on wiki to try to understand, could all come from the same emotional incapacity to adapt to change. We should pity them because they are not representative of either business people nor normal politicians,

        My gut feeling is that the Tories will ditch them all very soon. pity can only carry you so far as you watch a small clique of people so utterly unable to let go. But when that same tiny clique is trying to take you over a precipice , rather than face their demons, their inner fear of embracing a new idea, I really don’t think most Blue Tories or even Red Tories will allow it to happen.

        You may well be right about this tiny speck of humanity’s long-term plans, but are we really going to lock ourselves into the mind-set of a Miss Haversham.? It’s actually impossible. The only beneficiary of 4 weeks of delay has been Mrs May’s thus being able to remain in emotional rigor mortis for a few short days. we’ll wake up in a few days time and find it was all a horrible nightmare. Please.

        • Dungroanin

          G.
          You know about the well laid plans of mice and man being subject to forces. That is at the root of the 4 week delay. There is a lot of making it up as they go along going on … that is not how they are set up to function.

          An anomaly in the latest 20 year multi century grand design has occured at one of the geographical loci of its empire.

          One that cannot be mitigated by deploying extreme violence so close to home (as in 1963 in the US). This is not Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran or the still benighted Africa and other places – this is Britain.

          While the prospect of a genuine member nominated political leadership isn’t a problem in places that can be destroyed – the prospect of a freshly elected Corbynite Labour manifesto, with sufficient majority of uncontrollable MPs to implement it, has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works of the grand plan.

          May & co are just cogs who should have happily moved on to the opposition benches or retired to their personal never ending wheat fields to run through (Like Cameron&co and Blair&co) leaving their NuLabInc partners to do their bit again in Government – except their hubris got them. Corbyn was elected. Twice. And almost destroyed their grip in the snap election. The establishment has to remain in stasis until they can get back in control by hook or crook. Trezza is ordered to remain at her post – and she hates Corbyn for being the reason. It is obvious everytime she has to face him. She would never be able to handle a one on one debate with him, that is why it was cancelled.

          Brexit went to plan. Trump went to plan. Christine at the IMF is ready to run with the latest New New World Order Plan. But … JC.

          Our human duty is to RESIST the grand plan. Or be just another cog in it.

      • Tony

        You’re plain wrong Dungroanin. Everything May has done since she ascended to power has been done to saboaqge brexit. She will almost certainly achieve the remit she was given. I hope you will come back and apologise for your wild misinterpretations when we are still in the EU next year. But I suspect you won’t.

        • Dungroanin

          Let’s see and the only way we will still be in the EU is if we have a GE. It isn’t long to wait now. See my response to Giyane above for my opinion.

    • Republicofscotland

      “Very good news, I hope they get rid of Theresa may as soon as possible, her aim is to leave us shackled to the corpse of the E.U.”

      We’re both looking for a no deal now for different reaons Michael. You want to be done with Brussels and I want to be done with Westminster.

      Maybe we’ll get our wish.

  • Martinned

    #Facepalm

    Just as I thought I was reading an interesting and not-at-all embarrassing post, I got to the final paragraph… Really?

    • Stonky

      Just as I thought I was reading an interesting and not-at-all embarrassing post, I got to the final paragraph… Really?

      I understand the feeling Martin. Just as I thought I was reading a really interesting and not-at-all embarrassing post, I got to your first sentence.

      #Facepalm

  • Isa

    II- White helmets meeting , it is relevant to note that the white helmets were evacuated July 2018 and that the meeting by Integrity Initiative was also held in July 2018.

    • giyane

      Isa

      The white helmets were not brought here for their own safety, but because of the risk of them being caught and debriefed by Russ in Syria. Similarly Moazzam Begg was re-arrested after he had been doing research which could have blown the lid on MI6’s nasty tricks.

      The whole Syria story of the British war against the Syrian people is a busted flush, and damage limitation is impossible. Hence the need to publicise special forces being killed by Islamic state yesterday, to sow the illusion that Britain is an enemy of Islamic State, and to provide a pretext for British continuing presence in Syria.

      Yes, they really do think we’re that stupid.

      • Republicofscotland

        Unlike the Boer’s Assad has the backing of a big nation state in Russia. I’d imagine that the Great Satan (USA) and its minions will be bitterly disappointed that they couldn’t enforce a regime change by proxy or other in Syria.

        If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that as long as you have the backing of a major player in the world such as North Korea has with China, then your nation state has a chance of resisting such changes.

        Assad is by no means a good guy or a fair and just leader. But that doesn’t mean that the Great Satan and its obedient minions has the right to remove him for their own benefit, under the guise of bringing peace and democracy to Syrians.

        • Charles Bostock

          “Assad is by no means a good guy or a fair and just leader.”

          I love the “by no means”.

          But you are progressing, I suppose 🙂

          • Isa

            Charles , atypically for me , I’m going to post a reply to your frantic off topic posting .

            you come on thread and type a bellicose or contrary comment or more that you know will get people to stop what they’re discussing and reply to you . Your comment to Tatiana was plain rude , for instance .

            To other posters, my advice would be to ignore the contrary posts when these are made with that clear intent .

            I won’t engage with you again as frankly i find you slightly irritating and pompous , which of course is what you aim at in this forum .

            I shall continue to exercise my scroll without reading when I see your posts . I don’t like distractions and fait divers which is what your posts are .

      • Isa

        Agree . I was amused with that piece of info yesterday . Never mind that both the U.K. and USA armed these terrorists and protected them until recently . They bet on people’s lavk of focus and goldfish memories .

  • Garth Carthy

    @Charles Bostock: “There’s a whole tribe of people – the Loaches and Pilgers of this world – who have made a good living out of people’s misery.”

    What a spiteful comment.
    Oh, and Charlie…If ANYONE makes a good living out of people’s misery, it is the tribe of the super-rich elite Neo-Conmen and women who exploit everyone else in their greed and selfishness.
    If John Pilger and Ken Loach really wanted to make a good living, they would join the mainstream media like so many disgusting so-called journalists who sell their souls to the highest bidder.

  • Tatyana

    Dear everyone, today is orthodox Christmas Eve 🙂 I’m not religious, nevertheless it is good time to feel how beautiful our world is. Time for generousity, forgiveness, gratitude and love.

    I’ve got much good emotions in me tonight, if I don’t share it with you, I could burst out 🙂
    Ladies and Gentlemen, come closer, take as much as you wish, don’t forget to take an extra portion and pass it on 🙂
    —-
    *Don’t worry about emptying the source, I generate happiness and love round-the-clock.

    **Song for you
    https://youtu.be/LnSYihRoGA4

    • bj

      Tatyana, your ‘inclusive’ happiness is very contagious.
      It’s a great gift — thank you!

      • Tatyana

        Republicofscotland ))) I’m too old for being ‘Miss’ anything.
        Though, I understand why he abdicated the throne – he is 49 and she is 25, love, honeymoon, that all…
        Good for them

        • Republicofscotland

          Oh Tatyana, you’re an old romantic at heart, however, with regards to the king and his beauty queen wife. I’d say lust on his behalf, and financial security on her’s, is a more realistic prospect. ?

          • Tatyana

            I see nothing wrong when a young woman falls in love with a man, who is adult, rich, a king of an exotic country, experienced lover must he be. She may think not of finance, but of her dreams which easily may come true. I don’t know if she loves dresses and jewelry, or loves visiting new places and meeting interesting people, maybe she loves opera and museums?

            Anyway, she is young and pretty and she is russian. It means she knows how to make her man happy, how to be attentive, how to show that she really appreciates his efforts (highly likely she has no modern feministic self over-value ideas). It is honest partnership, where every party gets what it wants.

            Modern marriages are made on free will, a couple is a couple untill they both want to be a couple. I wish them to enjoy their time together.

          • Republicofscotland

            Forgive me Tatyana, I can be an old cynic at times, who am I to spoil your thoughts on romanticism.

            I’m sure your lovely version of events is probably the way it panned out. ?

          • Tatyana

            As to me, I would always feel this disbalance in financial status, I think.
            Who am I to judge? No one king had ever proposed to me 🙂
            But I can easily understand how attractive this man can appear for a young girl. Well educated, has manners, knows how to romance a woman 🙂

          • King of Welsh Noir

            Tatyana wrote: ‘I see nothing wrong when a young woman falls in love with a man, who is adult, rich, a king of an exotic country…’

            Speaking as a ‘King of an exotic country’ I heartily endorse this sentiment.

          • Dungroanin

            Another typical Russian joke?

            “she is russian. It means she knows how to make her man happy, how to be attentive, how to show that she really appreciates his efforts (highly likely she has no modern feministic self over-value ideas)”
            Wow! Wtf ???

            Is that from a Robbie Williams song? Or a 90’s mail order bride catalogue?
            I mean really? We are nearly in the 3rd decade of C21st.

    • Tatyana

      Oh oh it is happy time 🙂
      Intended to visit Crimea, but the weather is bad, snow storm there. Our son is spending his school vacations with my mom.
      Me and my husband desided to say in the city, as if we are young and free 🙂
      Made shelves in my new working place. Visited a Czech bar yesterday, had tasty food and Krusovice beer.

      Tradition is to spend todays evening with godfathers and godmothers, but we have none here.
      Prepared ‘tajin’ dish for this evening, orient meal of chicken, rice, apples and quince, hot and spicy.
      Will have it with wine later tonight.

      Oh, it is blessed happy time!
      And we still have two holidays left before working days!

  • Republicofscotland

    I’m sure this trumpet blowing propaganda from the HJS on just how poweful Britain is around the globe, will get the Empire 2.0 zombies all moist and salivating.

    This is the same right wing think tank that claimed in the British government mouthpiece newspaper the Times, that China and Russia were undermining the UK through Scotland.

    Jeez these British forces websites love to spin, spin, spin to the suckers out there.

    https://www.forces.net/news/britain-worlds-second-biggest-power-says-report

    • Tom Welsh

      Well, China obviously has the world’s biggest and strongest economy. And Russia, besides having more and better natural resources than any other country, is able to destroy the whole of the USA or the UK (or both) utterly in about half an hour.

      So Britain can’t be better than third – which I suppose would push the USA down to fourth.

    • D_Majestic

      RoS-a beneficial pastime is finding out how many of our ‘Parliamentarians’ are members of the Henry Klaxon Society. I did it a couple of years ago. It was an eye-opener, to say the least.

  • Goatboy

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/30/syrian-white-helmets-canada-exile

    I am not convinced that they all went to Canada. I have already written to my MP/MSP to ask that they do all they can to get some answers out of the government. This is of great public interest given the potential threat to our own security down the line.

    The real role of the White Helmets must be established. If they are agents helping to fight a proxy war it will play very, very badly for the West (assuming the revelation gets any airtime!). Their whole Russophobic narrative may prove to be a house of cards. If so, the White Helmets and the Skripal affair are near the bottom of last years pile. Some pressure needs to be applied to see what happens.

  • Sharp Ears

    It was a gladdening sight to see the large pile of unsold Sunday Times in their polythene wrappers in the supermarket just now. £2.70 each!

    _____
    Ref the proprietior, here is the wrinkled old lizard on holiday with Jerry in Barbados. Warning. He’s topless!

    https://goo.gl/images/Rs7eeX

      • michael norton

        The Stolen Golan,
        will one day be returned to Syria under the eyes of the United Nations, they have passed several motions accepting it is Syrian.
        The United Nations mainly only does what America wants.
        One day America may want the Stolen Golan to be returned to Syria, how long can we hold our breath?

      • Dungroanin

        Share price indicates there is some long term deal in the offing – Syrians have been dealing with invaders over millenia.

  • Charles Bostock

    Yesterday, one of this blog’s experts on matters French attempted to belittle the “gilets jaunes” movement as follows :

    “3500 demonstrators apparently. That’s a state-overturning number, is it? They’d be lost in Trafalgar Square.”

    Imagine my surprise when the TV station “France 24” – no enemy of the French state – informed viewers just now that the number of “gilets jaunes” on the streets on Saturday was estimated at 50.000!

    Should we believe the government- friendly “France 24” or the equally government-friendly poster of yesterday?

  • able

    It seems many here viewed “I, Daniel Blake” as a documentary, rather than a work of misery porn for the smug middle classes. Oh but it’s based on real life events, they tell us. So is Braveheart.

    • Sharp Ears

      @16.04 Were you actually ‘able’ to read Crag Murray’s review of the film with quotes from Ken Loach and the scriptwriter?
      https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/05/i-daniel-blake/

      In the meantime, try this harrowing report about an ex ambulance worker, unemployed through illness, driven to desperation.

      Universal Credit dad-of-three tried to kill himself while on phone to DWP
      Dean Lovell-Payne, 52, took a massive overdose in September 2018 after having to endure almost three months without receiving any benefits at all
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-dad-three-tried-13799086

      • able

        Lives in £1200/month accommodation. Has ‘pet insurance’. Off work since 2011 with “global nerve and joint pain”. Pull the other one. I’m not buying it even with the compo face.

    • Republicofscotland

      I suppose, watching old saddle bag faced Queen Lizzie a billionaire sitting in front of her gold piano, telling us all to pull together in these tough times, is the pinnacle of surrealism, in this completely f*cked up union that we call the UK.

    • Goatboy

      Dear Able, have you ever signed on? Have you ever signed on during this period of ‘austerity’? I can assure you that this film is pretty accurate. What it doesn’t show is the additional knock on effect of employers who prey on the desperate situation. A relative of mine recently had to fork out £100 for steel toe capped boots and overalls only to be told at the end of the first week that there was actually only a job for one of the two that was hired. He frequently has had to cancel his weekend visit from his son (2 per month) in order to accept work only to receive a text telling him that his shift has been cancelled (he had to get 2 connecting buses to get home leaving him no money to live on for the rest of the weekend). I could go on. We need far more films like IDB before people could even get close to realizing the special form of misery that austerity breeds.

    • flatulence'

      The ‘not a documentary’ line seems to be pumped out by the regime bots all over the place. Actually, from my experience at least, this dramatisation was nauseatingly accurate. Having already been living off credit cards for the best part of a year while miserably failing at starting our own business, we caved and went to sign on, we then went 5 months with nothing. This was 10 years ago. First they tried telling us we hadn’t sent the paperwork. But we had sent everything recorded delivery, so eventually, after going round in condescending circles MANY times, they said they’d misplaced our paperwork. Did we get get any back dated support, did we fuck, no sympathy, no apology. We were lucky that we still had credit cards available, and luckier still that we were able to come back from it in a position to pay them off. The compulsory CV workshop was particularly degrading. It doesn’t matter how good and polished your CV already is. Be hanging on every word, or be ridiculed. You’re treated like scum, and you feel like scum. Problem is, they’re just doing their job. Some people become particularity sadistic and vile in those positions though. Our (me and my other half) relationship broke down and I tried to kill myself. Not hard enough obviously, but good job really because nothing motivates you like waking up from that kind of nightmare. We held each other together and made the business work, and now it’s doing nicely. No thanks at all to the state. If they had their way we’d either be dead or in the gutter. I cringe at the thought of someone with a heart condition going through that, but poor mental health in that situation will be rife and exacerbated, even if there was no issue beforehand.

      • able

        “Having already been living off credit cards for the best part of a year while miserably failing at starting our own business, we caved and went to sign on, we then went 5 months with nothing. ”

        Why didn’t you get a job instead of forcing everyone else to pay for your failure?

          • able

            Well, why not? If you fail to get a business off the ground then you should take up employment rather than expect everyone else to pay your way.

          • flatulence'

            I fail to see how us living off credit cards to avoid signing on for as long as possible was us forcing “everyone else to pay for our failure”. Isn’t that quite the opposite? As for the support we did eventually receive while looking for work; I’ve been working since I was 12. Had already put more into the system before signing on than I was given, and certainly paid it back many fold since. The way we went into business was not sensible and we had no way of turning back, (for anyone wanting to start a business, try and start as a hobby first for god sake!) but I don’t really care what you think ‘able’, Jo1 is spot on, and you are precisely one of those vile people I alluded to.

          • flatulence'

            I should just clarify, we were hardly sat on our hands while ‘living off credit cards’. We were working 100+hrs a week, think my record was a 27hr day, physical stuff too, manually moving and working tonnes of timber everyday. It just wasn’t paying enough… Yet.

            We’d quit our jobs, moved to a new area and house with a big mortgage to start our business, and got the mother in law living with us. We were all-in and people depended on us. We were/are idiots (especially me). We rushed into it full of beans and wearing rose tinted spectacles and we could/should have done much differently with the benefit of hindsight.

          • flatulence'

            Cheers Clark. When the missing paperwork happened, we both thought “imagine how many people they’re doing this to”, and the Blake thing was just sickeningly familiar. And too familiar to be mere coincidence. I dread to imagine the amount of people that have been ruined or killed in this toxic environment. Toxic for the few publicised ‘scroungers’ apparently living the life of Riley, and toxic for the poor, fallen on hard times, or otherwise sick or disabled. Look at the figures for how much is paid in fraudulent welfare claims, compared to the amount lost through tax avoidance etc. https://www.revk.uk/2017/11/tax-avoidance.html Yet the priority is chasing down these welfare fraudsters, at least tarring everyone who needs help with the same brush, at worst, killing them, or otherwise destroying them and their families.

            Sorry to drone on but that reminds me. Things haven’t changed. The system is still against the little guy, keeping them down or finishing them off. Last year one of our guys (we have employees nowadays!) suffered something like a stroke and was off long term sick. Bigger business would have had him and his area of work assessed and dismissed him as incapable and alterations impractical. Easy peasy for an HR dept. We knew he’d be screwed at the worst possible time if we did this. He would have been left with no income, and then he would have been assessed as capable for work in a different environment. He was kept without diagnosis in a nightmarish limbo for 6 months (bad enough and another story) and told he couldn’t work by his doctors. Just like Blake. Keeping him on (off sick), cost us something like £8k in the end, more is set backs, something that is entirely what welfare is meant to be there for, for him at least, but he would have been fucked, and we would have been as moral as the lovely ‘able’ here. (Turns out our guy has some form of early onset MS, but is now back to work with us, happy, positive and getting treatment. Although he is on some strange diet the poor bastard.)

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Has anyone mentioned the escape room tragedy near Gdansk which is even more troubling than where Craig is holidaying? Over 1,000 places exist in Poland, and none of them had even required inspections!

  • Charles Bostock

    I have just read a brilliant insight into the essence and modus operandi of “RT” by Maxine Audinet of the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

    In translation, it goes as follows :

    “Russian “soft power” as practiced through the medium of RT takes the form not of attempting to make Russia more attractive in the eyes of Westerners but of delegitimising liberal democracies by over-emphasising divisions in their societies”

    That definition also goes a long way to explaining the popularity of RT as a source of information for various superannuated malcontents and “transferred natonalists”.

    • bj

      The only superannuated malcontent here is you.
      Over Israel and its crimes, that is.

      If you’re a “transferred nationalist” — who knows.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Seems to me that RT has hit the nail on both scores, especially delegitimizing liberal democracies when the US is stuck with deep state Trump. Britain with Terrible Theresa, France with Macron, and Germany with a fatally wounded Merkel aka ANITA,

    • Republicofscotland

      Brilliant? In whose opinion, yours? well, you’re entitled to that. However to single out RT, when other countries have their own state propaganda channels as well only enforces your position.

      Like the Westminster grievance monkey’s, you’re just a bit miffed that RT puts their propaganda across a bit better than say Britain’s, or the USA’s or Israel’s.

      • Charles Bostock

        “Brilliant? In whose opinion, yours? ”

        Of course in mine – who else’s do you think? I’m not on here as a mouthpiece for the opinions of others, RoS.

        • Republicofscotland

          “who else’s do you think? I’m not on here as a mouthpiece for the opinions of others”

          You’ve stumped me there “Charles”, I have a million and one witty ripostes to the above, but I just can’t settle on one, so I’ll leave at that.

          • giyane

            The troll is completely relaxed by the re-arrival of archetypal Victorian poverty, accompanied by archetypal feudal threats from the baron overlords of universal credit.

            He or she can smell the restoration of archetypal Neanderthal power where you just club whoever you like on the with a treetrunk, after the ECJ has been removed.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ giyane January 6, 2019 at 20:23
            The ECJ didn’t do much about Catalonia, and I doubt they will when Micron cracks down on the ‘Yellow Jackets’.

    • Sharp Ears

      Thought I would look them up. Enough said.

      ‘Networks and international influence
      Ifri works in partnership with its counterparts on a regular basis ; the RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, the Council On Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA), the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), the French-Korean Foundation, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für auswärtige Politik, and others.
      Ifri is also based in Brussels since March 2005 with its new office: Ifri Bruxelles organizes about 30 events each year. ‘ Wikipedia

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