Venezuela Seeks Russian Help Against American Cyberattacks

Dear Readers:

Twenty years ago a serial killer butchered and dismembered his victim in plain sight of the whole world.  Then looked around to see the reaction.  Nobody said anything.  Nobody did anything.  Nobody was punished.  Some people even cheered.  Bolstered by this effect, the serial killer then proceeded on a spree, knocking off victims one by one, while the world watched, somewhat dazed and still in denial….

The start of a 20-year killing spree…

As we approach the 20th anniversary (24 March, 1999) of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the Russian government Upper Chamber (Senators) has adopted a resolution condemning that war of aggression against a sovereign country.  And also pointing out, rightfully so, that the world’s failure to punish NATO’s crime just led to more and more crimes and wars of aggression against sovereign states:  Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Venezuela; and with a whole list of other nations lined up like rubber ducks in a shooting gallery:  Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China.  Since Russia (already under attack economically, but not yet militarily) is a bit further down the list, then she has a bit more time to prepare for the worst.  And unlike June of 1941, it won’t be just tanks and planes coming at her; for sure, it will be those, but also a whole slew of other weapons, some of them invisible.

For example, in the news today I have this piece about the ongoing Financial War being waged against Russia (and Venezuela).   Namely, Visa and Master Card have put a block on the credit cards of customers of a Russian bank called EvroFinance MosNarBank.  On the territory of the Russian Federation, if you keep your money in that bank, and if you have one of those cards and swipe it into an ATM, you won’t be able to get your money.  Why?  Because that particular bank is under American sanctions.  The Americans “suspect” that bank of having dealings with the Venezuelan State-owned oil company PDVSA.  Should a sovereign Latin American nation be allowed to extract and sell its own oil, and store the revenues in a bank of its choosing, without the permission of the United States — O horrors, that can’t be allowed!

In this case, the punishment is not too horrible, and the remedy is relatively painless:  The bank in question will get rid of Visa/Mastercard and replace with a different set of financial services.  Congratulations, Visa/Mastercard, you just lost a bunch of paying customers!

A more serious threat is the possibility of cyber-attack against a nation’s essential infrastructure:  Water, food, electricity, fuel, etc.  That is, as Shakespeare might say, the cruelest cut of all.  The Americans are already testing this vicious brand of warfare (some would call genocide) on the guinea pigs people of Venezuela.  But, callous as this sounds, Venezuela’s misery is Russia’s opportunity.  Opportunity to get a close look at how the enemy operates; opportunity to develop counter-weapons; opportunity to beef up defenses and prepare for the inevitable Anschlag.

So I have this piece from Vesti.  The headline reads:

Venezuela Will Request Assistance From Russia In Researching the Causes of the Energy Collapse

President Maduro will ask Russia (and also China) to help his government find the causes of the collapse of the electrical energy grid.  [And hopefully not just find the causes, but also fix the problem!]

Maduro: Trying to cope with this attack.

Maduro informed the world of this in his Twitter feed.  Maduro mentioned that these particular nations (Russia and China) have a lot of experience defending from cyberattacks.  Which Maduro believes (and most certainly, correctly) is the immediate cause of the current crisis.

[To be sure, there may be other “root” causes such as aging infrastructure and the gnawings of rodents and so on, but that happens everywhere, and can be dealt with on a routine basis, so long as people don’t have to deal with a whole other layer of criminal sabotage!]

One will hope that Russia and China will rush to offer assistance and remedies.  Not just to be good guys, either, or good friends; but also in their own self-interest.  Since, as I mentioned, they are also on the hit-list for similar tactics, possibly in the near future.

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Marco Rubio Blames German Dam For Venezuela Power Outage

Dear Readers:

In his tweet (better catch it now before he takes it down), U.S. Senator (and murderous War Criminal) Marco Rubio gloats about the power outage in Venezuela:

“D’oh!”

“Today another transformer explosion at the German Dam in Bolivar State caused another massive blackout.  The result?  Critically ill patients have died, the Caracas metro remains out of service & few if any flights have arrived at or departed from Caracas in over 20 hours.”

Putting aside the fact that Rubio himself has been leading the charge to oust Maduro; and that this self-proclaimed “Follower of Christ” is, with all certainty, himself responsible for concocting most of these crimes and dirty tricks against the Venezuelan people; what struck people most about Rubio’s tweet is its sheer ignorance.

For example, there is no such thing as a German Dam in Venezuela, as a schoolchild could have discovered, using basic internet resources.  Knowledgeable people on Twitter rushed to correct Rubio.  As the Russian press reported, a Spanish-language journalist named German Dam (yes, that’s his actual name) had reported on the blackout.  Just guessing here, but it seems like Rubio, while pleasuring himself on Venezuelan misfortunes, must have read a google-translated version from Spanish to English, in which the name got garbled into an adjective-noun combination.  Wonder what that says about Rubio’s supposed bi-lingual capabilities?  (Recall that Rubio strives to gain Hispanic brownie points from the Cuban diaspora, as a supposed refuge, even though his family left Cuba before Castro took over the government.)

The journalist Dam himself corrected Rubio on his Twitter feed:  “My name is German Dam, I am one of the journalists who published this information.”

This, once again, speaks to the strange combination of extreme criminality and extreme ignorance, as exhibited by the American political elite.  Mafioso Rubio is such an ignorant fool, he makes Tony Soprano look like Kierkegaard. One would hope that Rubio’s constituents would recoil in revulsion and vote him out of office at the next opportunity; but, alas, the American Senate is set up in such a way that it is highly unlikely, if not completely impossible, to remove a person from that pig’s trough, once they have settled in.

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Russian Space Program Needs More Gagarins – Part II

Dear Readers:

Today finishing up this historical/opinion piece by Konstanin Merinov, posted on Yury Gagarin’s birthday.  As I mentioned before, Merinov poses the question:  “What would Gagarin himself think of our current situation in the space arena?  As a temporary setback or a chronic illness?”  The rest of the post is dedicated to this question.  Merinov obviously believes that the contemporary Russian space program leaves much to be desired.  And on the end of the pitchfork, of course, would be Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian politician who heads that program.  Many of us, over the years, have appreciated Rogozin’s acerbic wit, and his unquestioning patriotism.  But is he actually doing a good job at RosKosmos?  That is the question here.  Merinov himself seems to believe that Rogozin is not the problem.  Rogozin is trying to deal with the problem.

The 108 minutes which constituted man’s first voyage into outer space, shook the world to its core.  That event took place on April 12, 1961.  Fast-forward 58 years, and there is talk of space-tourism:  RosKosmos is floating the idea of having paying tourists repeat Gagarin’s flight.  Rogozin:  “We are considering letting people fly around the Earth on the Gagarin route, after a short training period.”  This would be a one-day  excursion, the tourists would fly around the Earth on a Soyuz rocket, but without a visit to the Space Station.

Gagarin himself never got to fly on a Soyuz.  He was the understudy for Vladimir Komarov, whose flight on Soyuz-1 ended tragically on April 24, 1967.  Komarov was the first human being to fly into space twice, and also the first human being to die in a space accident.  His death shook the cosmonaut corps, but also pointed out the need to be more rigorous in the pre-flight checklist.  A year after this tragedy, Gagarin himself died in an aviation accident; he was only 34 years old.

Despite these setbacks, the Soyuz program was successful on the whole.  Soyuz missions still carry people and materials up to the Space Station.

So What Went Wrong?

After his historic flight, Yury Gagarin shared his plans with the world:  “I want to dedicate my life, my work, my thoughts and emotions to this new science, occupying myself with the conquest of space.  I would like to visit Venus, to see with my own eyes what lies beneath those clouds, I would like to visit Mars and see if there really are canals.”

Yury Alexeevich!  Almost 58 years have passed since your historic flight, and during those years no Soviet or Russian cosmonaut has set foot on the surface of another planet.  We didn’t even make it to the Moon, let alone Mars.

So far it’s been nothing but talk.  Five years ago, back in 2014, Dmitry Rogozin — at the time the Deputy Prime Minister — claimed to have settled the “conceptual foundation” of the new space strategy:  “We must resolve three strategic goals:  Broaden our presence in low-orbits; develop (освоение) and colonize the Moon and the area of the lunar orbit; start preparing for our development of Mars and other objects of the solar system.”

Rogozin shows off his model rockets to a dubious-looking Putin.

Rogozin added, in his essay, that “All the major technical achievements which we possess today, were accomplished by Soviet builders, scientists, technologists, engineers and workers,” and this is a true statement.

Take the P-7.  The very first multi-stage rocket and the grandmother of the “Soyuz” family.  This hard-working rocket has been serving the cosmonauts for more than 60 years.  Not every technical achievement can boast such a long life.  And to this day, various versions of the Soyuz carry crews and equipment up to the Space Station.  Today’s cosmonauts, unlike Komarov, pilot Soyuz-es featuring reliable safety systems.  Our rocket engines the RD-180 and RD-181 are sold to the United States.

However, as Rogozin wrote five years ago, “Our competitors are already setting us back on our heels.  To be more precise, they have already crushed us.”  And this is also a true statement.  A new meme haunts the Russian internet:  “Forgive us, Yura!”

Rogozin is driven into madness by this, but for the sake of truth one must admit that Russia is losing the game to the United States and China, even on the market for space-flight services.  For the past 7 years now, Russia has not been able to dispatch to the Space Station the multifunctional laboratory module “Nauka”.  And nothing has been happening with the plan to build a new spaceship called “Federation”.  Which, by the way, Rogozin wants to change the name, because in Russian Федерация (“Federatsia”) is a feminine noun, and he wants something more masculine sounding.

American astronaut Steven Swanson, left, training with Russian cosmonauts, in 2014.

Meanwhile, the USA has been using our “Soyuz” rockets since 2011 to transport their astronauts to the Space Station, while working feverishly on their own version of a pilot-able spaceship.  And their first test has been a success:  the 7-man spaceship called Crew Dragon, created by Elon Musk’s company, completed an automated flight to the Space Station, docked, undocked, and flew back down, to land in the Atlantic Ocean.  This experiment was a great success.  And, by the way, it is Musk’s SpaceX company, with its Falcon-type carriers, which is pushing Russia out of the space-services market.  This fact was confirmed in an official report of the Russian government.

To be sure, Rogozin does not see a critical lag between Russia and NASA, in the technology arena.  Responding to a question on Twitter, he wrote:  “There is no critical lag.  There is a certain loss of momentum in the development cycle over the past 10-12 years.”  However, Rogozin believes that the lag could become critical if Russia doesn’t get its act together and move to the newer rocket technology.

As for the Moon:  Russia does in fact have a program to go there.  The estimate is around the year 2040.  Previously Rogozin had promised to start sending equipment to the moon in 2021.  Rogozin’s fervor was somewhat checked by Prime Minister Medvedev, who tersely recommended that Rogozin occupy himself with the regular business of RosKosmos and stop babbling on about Russians flying off to various celestial bodies in the near future.

Merinov ends his piece with this quote from Hero of the Soviet Union, Cosmonaut Vitaly Sevastyanov“If today we were able to use intelligently all the possibilities of our cosmonautics, then it would pay for itself, as well as giving much to our Fatherland.  Nowadays we specially need people of the Gagarin ilk.”

Posted in Space, Science and Technology | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Russian Space Program Needs More Gagarins – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today I have this historical/opinion piece by Konstanin Merinov, posted on March 9, the birthday of Yury Gagarin.  If Gagarin were still alive, he would be 85 years old!  Merinov’s piece is a celebration of Gagarin’s extreme coolness, along with a criticism of the contemporary Russian space program, headed by Dmitry Rogozin.  In his very first paragraph Merinov poses the question:  “What would Gagarin himself think of our current situation in the space arena?  As a temporary setback or a chronic illness?”

Monument to Gagarin in his home town of Gzhatsk

Up until that fateful day, April 12, 1961, Gagarin’s life differed very little from the normal life of young Soviet men born in the post-war years:  School, college or technical institute, perhaps a military school.  Yury was born near, and had gone to school in, the town of Gzhatsk (now renamed “Gagarin”) in the Smolensk region.  Gzhatsk itself has an interesting history:  Under the Tsars Peter the Great and Catherine the Great it had a special status as a “staging area” or  “landing zone” where grain was loaded onto barges for shipment along the Gzhat River to Moscow.  Little did this town know, that some centuries in the future, its most famous son was to embark on a space-barge and travel a good deal farther than Moscow!

Marshal Vershinin

After finishing Middle School in Gzhatsk, Yury attended several technical institutions, learning various trades.  In the city of Chkalov (Orenburg) he attended military pilot school and rose to the rank of Lieutenant.  Still nothing that unusual.  But then everything changed on March 7, 1960.  On that day, Marshal of Soviet Aviation, Konstantin Andreevich Vershinin ordered fighter-pilot Yury Gagarin to enlist in the Cosmonaut Training Center.

One thing led to another:  Yury Gagarin was picked to be the world’s first human being to leave the Earth’s gravity and fly into space.  Gagarin possessed the necessary traits:  Unquestioning patriotism.  An unshakable faith in the success of the mission.  Splendid health.  Incurable optimism.  Flexibility of thought and a healthy curiosity.  Boldness and decisiveness.  Accuracy.  Great work ethic.  Self-control.  Simplicity.  Modesty.  A great human warmth of personality, and attentiveness to the people around him.  Those are the undisputed Gagarinesque characteristics.  It was precisely this type of man who was required for the first flight, according to the Cosmonaut Training Center Director, Evgeny Anatolievich Karpov.

Future cosmonauts Gagarin and Tereshkova receive training in radio communications.

On April 5, 1961, Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, organizer and manager of the cosmonaut training, wrote in his diary:  “So, who is it to be?  Gagarin or Titov?  I have a few days to make this final decision.  It is difficult to decide, which one [of these two men] to send to certain death; and equally difficult to decide, which of these equally worthy men to turn into a world celebrity, immortalizing his name throughout all of world history.”  Lordy, what a keen and perceptive remark!  And so prophetic, but fortunately only for the second clause.

On April 9 Kamanin called Gagarin and Titov into his office.  He informed them of his decision.  Gagarin was overjoyed.  Titov frowned and took offense.

General Nikolai Kamanin (right), along with Cosmonaut Tereshkova

Gagarin fully understood his own helplessness inside the Vostok rocket.  The entire flight was automated.  Not only does this not detract from his heroism, it compounds it.  Yury wrote to his wife Valentina:  “I fully believe in the technology.  It will not betray me.  But you know, sometimes on an even spot, a person can simply fall and break their neck.  Here too something might just happen.  But I don’t believe it will!”

Gagarin’s successful flight brought to fruition the second clause of Kamanin’s perceptive prophecy, when he was trying to decide whom to pick for this historic flight.  Giddy from success, Kamanin wrote in his diary these apocalyptic phrases:  “The centuries will pass, mankind will colonize the solar system; and on every planet where man lives, the name of Yury Gagarin will never be forgotten.  Yury Gagarin:  the first discoverer of the cosmos, and the first citizen of the Universe!”

Not everybody was thrilled with Gagarin’s success.  The Americans were quite peeved, they couldn’t believe that the Soviets had beat them into space.  “This is a national scandal,” wrote the New York Post.  Indeed, but the world has seen the worm turn several times since then.

Next:  From the Titans of yesteryear to the Pygmies of today:  Where did the Russian space program go wrong?

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Arab Emirate Figure Skater Competes in Russia

Dear Readers:

Today I have this human interest story from the world of sports.  The reporter is Vladimir Zaivy.  Currently the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk (which is way out there in Siberia) is hosting the 2019 Winter Universiade.  This is an international competition, a sort of Winter Olympics for college students.  In 2013 the Executive Committee of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) in Brussels, elected Krasnoyarsk as the host city for the 2019 venue.  Events include Alpine and Cross-country skiing, Snowboarding, Curling, Hockey, and Figure Skating.

The opening ceremony on March 2 was hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The torch was lit by legendary Russian athlete Svetlana Khorkina.  The slogan of the games is “Real Winter”, appropriate for a Siberian city!  The official mascot is a Siberian dog of the “Laika” breed, a symbol of “loyalty, friendliness, joy and unbrided energy”.  The athletes from all over the world are being housed in college dormitories and other residential complexes.

The games will be closed this coming Tuesday, March 12, with all the pomp of the torch being put out, and so on. All great fun and a wholesome endeavour!

One of the participants is 23-year-old Zahra Lari, who is the subject of this profile.  According to her wiki page, Zahra is the first figure skater from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to ever compete internationally.  Born in Abu Dhabi to an Arab father and an American mother who had converted to Islam, Zahra fell in love with figure skating after watching the Disney movie Ice Princess.  (Full disclosure:  I have also seen this movie, and it is completely ludicrous!  If you want to watch a more realistic figure-skating movie, then go see Blades of Glory instead!)

Unfortunately, Zahra was not able to start taking ice-skating lessons until the age of 13, which is relatively “old” in figure-skating years.  Yes, they do have ice rinks in Abu Dhabi, she trains at a place called Zayed Sports City.  According to her wiki, Zahra had to overcome some initial resistance on the part of her father, who is a strict Muslim.  But not to worry, she doesn’t wear the skimpy dresses nor flash her legs, you would never see her doing the “Tuktamysheva” strip-tease on the ice; no, Zahra skates her programs in full Shariah get-up, including the hijab.  Despite her late start, Zahra is apparently talented, she has all the flexibility needed, wonderful “extension”, and is able to land a triple-loop jump, no easy feat!

As the first citizen of her country, ever, to compete in an international sports competition, Zahra has a lot of pressure riding on her performance.  In her interview with the RT reporter, Zahra laid out what she hopes to achieve, and how she sees the development of the sport in her homeland.  What follows is a straight translation of the interview:



What are your impressions of the Winter Universiade?

I am, of course, delighted to be performing here.  I am the first athlete from the Emirates who has ever competed at these winter games.  Usually my fellow-countrymen compete during the summer!  Never before in winter.

Do you like Krasnoyarsk?

It’s a beautiful city.  There is a nice atmosphere here, but it is very cold.  Everybody I have met at the games, are very pleasant people.

When you step out onto the ice, you will be achieving, all at once, several firsts…

Yes, I will be the first athlete from the UAE at the Winter Universiade, the first figure skater from my country, and also the first to perform in a hijab!

As an athlete from the UAE, have you encountered any hurdles?

The biggest problem for us, is not having enough rinks.  There is only one specialized ice surface in Abu Dhabi.  The other ice surface is designated exclusively for hockey.  And that’s all there is in the UAE.  Therefore it is understandable why I would be the first athlete from the Emirates [to compete internationally].  And when you are the first one to do something, then one always encounters difficulties.

Does the government provide you with assistance?

Absolutely.  And it also assists other young women who are trying to achieve something similar.  Any woman can become her country’s ambassador in the world of sports.

What is your goal at the Universiade?

To skate my program as best as I am able, and to improve on my previous results.  As for the future, I hope to compete at the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Who is your favorite figure skater?

The Russian girl, Medvedeva.  I love the way she skates, the boldness that she shows out on the ice.  She loves her sport, and gives her all to it.  Evgeniya says to all figure skaters, that all athletes experience difficulties and obstacles.  But the main thing is to love what you’re doing.  And then one can achieve good results.

For whom did you root at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang?  For Evgeniya Medvedeva, or for Alina Zagitova?

Zagitova is a wonderful athlete who trains many hours a day.  They both deserved the gold.

What kind of skating competitions do they have in the UAE?

FMBA Trophy Figure Skating, Abu Dhabi, 2018

The FBMA Trophy:  Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Trophy.  Last year they hosted athletes from 28 countries.  More and more people want to watch the competition, but this type of sport [figure skating] is still new to the UAE.  We are hoping to invite more competitors, along with our own athletes.  In addition to that, we have conducted national competitions already four times.  In all of the UAE there are around 100 girls involved in figure skating.  Of course, not all of them are at the world level yet, but this is just the beginning.  I would like to see successive generations of girls get involved in sports, like I do.

How do people in your homeland react to your figure skating?

They encourage me, and they approve of it.  They really want me to compete in the Winter Olympics.  I get a lot of support in the social media.  People recognize me in the stores and say nice things to me.  I believe in myself, but without this social support (as well), it would be harder.

Do you have personal fans?

Yes, at every competition there are people who root for me.  And not just regular people in the audience, but also my figure-skating competitors!  They come up to me and encourage me to continue skating.  This is why I hope to go to the Olympics and achieve higher scores.  When I went to Japan for the Asian Winter Games, there were a lot of fans rooting for me.  I also have supporters here in Russia, and not only in Krasnoyarsk.

Do you get messages from Russian fans?

Yes, they write to me, that they live nearby and support me.

How are you training for the Universiade?

Zahra’s Russian coach, Alexandra Ievleva

My (local) coach Alexandra Ievleva is helping me to iron out my program.  For example, on March 2 we worked on just basic exercises, nothing complicated, since we had only just arrived the evening before.

Have you prepared any special tricks for the Universiade?

I will attempt a triple loop jump in my program, I hope to complete it successfully and nail my landing.  Recently I have been making certain mistakes, but I am hoping to correct them once I am back in Abu Dhabi, after the Universiade, so that I don’t repeat these mistakes in the future.

Would you want to compete in other competitions in Russia?

If there are opportunities to do so, yes.  They have some very big competitions here, Russia is amazingly strong in this sport.  I hope to return some day.  Maybe I can even train here in the summer.  That would be a huge experience for me.

What is the hardest thing about your training, and what is your favorite element?

As opposed to competitions, the training sessions themselves always give me satisfaction.  The competitions are wrought with tension.  But the warm-up sessions before the start are always interesting to me.  The hardest thing for me was to get used to the weather, the snow, the local scenery.  Competing is always tough for me, and not just here, at the Universiade.  But on the other hand, I always feel great at every event.  I am very proud of the UAE heraldry on my uniform.

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Russian Parliament Adopts Blatant Censorship Law

А судьи кто? —
За древностию лет
К свободной жизни их вражда непримирима,
Сужденья черпают из забытых газет
Времён Очаковских
и покоренья Крыма.
But who are these judges?
Since ancient times
They have been irreconcilably hostile to freedom.
They get their opinons from old
Newspapers, from Ochakov’s time,
When we conquered Crimea.

(Chatsky’s rant, from Griboedov’s ГОРЕ ОТ УМА)

Dear Readers:

Today I have this story from Interfax.  The Russian Duma (or Parliament) today (Thursday March 7) adopted what is basically a media censorship law.  Ostensibly this law protects the (very fragile) public against “fake news” and other horrors, such as disrespecting national symbols!

You can’t make fun of the 2-headed spitting turkey any more…

The proposed legislation went through 3 readings before the final wording was adopted.  The vote was not unanimous, though.  Fortunately, there are still a few hardy souls out there who believe in Freedom of Speech.  Deputies from the Communist Party; from Zhirinovsky’s Party; and from the “Just Russia” Party either voted against the law, or abstained.  The final tally was 78 nays versus 322 yays.  Since the legislation was proposed and supported by United Russia, which operates pretty much like a one-party government, then the outcome was completely predictable.

During the debate, Opposition Deputies declared that they were not opposed to the righteous struggle against “Fake News”, they are just worried about censorship.  And indeed, even a child can see that modern “democratic” governments, including Russia, are using the “fake news” issue to candy-coat their attempts to control political opinion on the internet.

Indeed, Deputy Alexei Kurinny from the Communist Party noted the “fluidity of the formulations” threatening this or that legal action against non-compliers.  He speculated that “an order could come” from on high, as to which “information” being touted is fake.

Indeed, who is to be the Decider of which news is fake, and which is authentic?  As Griboedov’s Chatsky once asked, “Who is to be the judge?”

Who Is To Blame?

Well, we actually know who the judges are, and whom we shall blame for this monstrous attack against freedom of speech:  United Russia Senators Andrei Klishas (his name sounds like a cliché); and Liudmila Bokova; along with Duma Deputy Dmitry Vyatkin.

Liudmila Bokova: “I will be the judge of what is fake and what is real.”

All of these people, by the way, especially the so-called Senators, are completely illegitimate, in my humble opinion.  After bringing down the much-more democratic system of the Soviet representatives, these bourgeois upstarts set up this monstrously undemocratic bi-cameral system which partially apes the American 2-chamber legislative branch.  All part of the plan to set up a crusty governing elite that cannot be removed by the people; all the better to offer free rein to the voracious capitalist class.  Boo hiss!  And the worst part of this legislation is not even the attack against fake news.  The “fake news” bit is just the lure.  No person in their right mind wants to see a liar yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.  So innocent dupes will go along with the entire package, which also punishes honest people, for examples, bloggers, for  “disrespect”.  Disrespect towards what?  Well, towards “state symbols”, for example.  Would that include the fake-tsarist double-headed eagle, or the fake tricolor Russian flag, which the Yeltsinites borrowed from the самозванец Alexander Kerensky?

Nor the one-third-invisible Kerensky flag…

I’m not even joking here:  The bill will lay out fines up to one and a half million Rubles for DISOBEYING.  And that’s serious money, even by the standards of the inflated Russian currency.  To be sure, the public is assured that only wrong-doers will be punished:  Those who sow panic or misinformation leading to public calamities.  But again, I think most of us smart people (and cynics) know where that slippery slope leads…  Next thing you know, some innocent blogger like myself will be making fun of the Russian flag, calling it a Kerensky flag, or something like that, and The Powers That Be will get all huffy and puffy…  And speaking of the Russian tricolor, who designed that monstrosity anyhow?  What kind of idiot would put the white strip on the top, where it can’t even be seen half the time, especially against a white background?  Sheeeshhh.

Posted in Breaking News | Tagged | 7 Comments

Russian Pranksters Punk Elliott Abrams

Dear Readers:

Those Russian telephone pranksters have been at it again!  This time they punked American war-monger Elliott Abrams.   Abrams was previously known, and not beloved, for his role in the Central American death squads of the 1980’s, under President Ronald Reagan.  And more recently as President Trump’s “Special Representative for Venezuela”, where he hopes to achieve the overthrow of socialism and the theft of Venezuelan oil.  (And probably more death squads.)

Unfortunately for Abrams, he was captured on tape being, not only a war-monger but also an ignorant fool.

“So, I’ll just lay out my evil schemes…”

So, the pranksters did what they always do, and it’s amazing how many people still fall for this gag:  They phoned Abrams pretending to be somebody else and got him to say things that normally he would not say if he knew he was being overheard.  It’s pure entrapment, and it’s always funny when it happens to somebody who is fundamentally evil.

The pranksters are Vladimir Kuznetsov (aka “Vovan”) and Alexei Stolyarov (aka “Lexus”).  On this occasion they were pretending to be the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer.  Maurer belongs to the Swiss People’s Party, and is known as an aggressive populist.  He actually had nothing to do with this prank.

“Hello, this is Ueli. Please excuse my Russian accent. I have a cold.”

The faux-Ueli phoned Abrams on February 19 to let him know about some suspicious Venezuelan accounts in the Swiss bank of Limpopo.  (The pranksters have used “Limpopo” before.  It’s the name of an actual river in South Africa, but in Russian children’s books, it was used as the name of a fake African country where Doctor Aibolit works.)  So, “Ueli” is worried that the Limpopo accounts are being used by the Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, to stash money for himself and his cronies.  Not to mention the accounts of Venezuelan oil companies such as PVDSA, attempting to hide their oil revenues from its rightful owners, the Unites States of America!

Elliott Abrams responded to this shocking news by demanding that these accounts in the Limpopo Bank must be blocked forthwith.  He was worried that the money might escape before it can be turned over to the “legitimate” Venezuelan President chosen by the U.S., namely Juan Guaidó.  Instead of thanking “Ueli” for his proactive phone call, Abrams then proceeded to threaten the poor fellow:  Switzerland must freeze these accounts immediately, he barked over the phone.  If you don’t comply, then the U.S. will launch legal actions against Bern.  Poor trembling “Ueli” assured Abrams that he will freeze the accounts, just as soon as the U.S. forwards him the necessary documentation.  He also requested a personal meeting with Guaidó, which Abrams promised him he would get.

Doctor Aibolit also keeps his money in Swiss banks.

After they hung up from the phone call, the pranksters sent to Abrams and Carlos Vecchio (Guaidó’s Ambassador to the U.S.) a list of people whom the fake “Ueli” supposedly found to have accounts in the Swiss bank.  These are Venezuelan citizens whose accounts must be frozen immediately, and also certain foreigners whose money is subject to American sanctions.  The names on the pranksters list included such Russian celebrities (and Oppositionists) as:  Ksenia Sobchak, Dmitry Bykov, and Mark Feigin.  Also included, as a broad hint, was the Swiss bank known as Lexus Vovanial Bank Ltd.  A bank wherein, they assured Abrams, Maduro hides his hoard.

Abrams is such an ignorant fool, that he didn’t even catch that broad hint.  (All he had to do was google “Lexus Vovan”.  Instead, he was quite pleased with himself, and with the list of victims that he had been given.  He forwarded the list to the American Finance Ministry, which proceeded to get to work on it.  Carlos Vecchio was also quite happy, he promised to keep this matter top secret and only inquired, when he might be given control over these blocked accounts.

Carlos Vecchio: Bet on the wrong horse.

In the following days Vecchio continued to contact Lexus-Vovan, to ask if “Maurer” had uncovered Maduro’s Swiss bank accounts.  “Maurer” informed him that he had found a fund called “NurlanBaidilda Ltd” Tender First which contains Maduro’s personal hoard!  Unfortunately, due to legal concerns, he is not able to block this account.

Despite warnings not to publicize this information, Vecchio immediately contacted Bloomberg and gave an interview on this theme.  He also posted on Twitter about this “NurlanBaidilda” fund, and tens of thousands of people read these tweets.

A couple of weeks go by, Abrams and Vecchio still haven’t figured it out.  The pranksters hook up with Abrams for one more phone call and ask him bluntly if he is going to invade Venezuela.  Abrams says no, the U.S. is not really planning to invade Venezuela.  (It’s a bluff, apparently.)

So, that’s the basic summary of what happened.  Here is the video of the first phone call, along with a transcript, in Russian.  Oh, wait, I just realized that the original phone call is actually in English, so I don’t need to translate.  Here it is, in English.

Hearing the voices of these people, one appreciate, in all its glory, the characteristics of the modern American ruling elite:  a combination of sheer Arrogance, Ignorance and brazen Criminality!

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