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The new Cold War has begun - let us embrace it with relief!

Considering the relative lull which seems to be taking place in the Ukraine, this might be a good time to look at the impact which the dramatic developments in the Ukraine have had upon the internal political scene in Russia and what that, in turn, could mean for the international (dis)order. In order to do that, I would like to begin by a short summary of a thesis which I have already mentioned in the past (for a discussion please see here, here, here and here):

Setting the Russian part of the stage

First, some bullet-style reminders on topics previously covered on this blog:
  1. There is no real Parliamentary opposition in Russia. Oh, not at all because "Putin is a dictator" or because "Russia is not a democracy", but simply because Putin has brilliantly managed to either co-opt or defang any opposition. How? By using his personal authority and charisma to promote an agenda which the other parties could not openly oppose. Formally, opposition parties do, of course, still exist, but they completely lack credibility. This might eventually change with the new Law on Political Parties.
  2. The only "hard" opposition to Putin in modern Russia are the various openly pro-US individuals (Nemtov, Novodvorskaia, etc) and their associated movements and parties. At best, they represent something in the range of 5% (max!) of the population.
  3. Putin did a "judo move" on his real opponents (more about them later) by using the strongly "presidential Constitution" adopted in 1993 to basically concentrate all the power in his hands.
  4. The *real* "opposition" to Putin and his project can only be found *inside* the Kremlin, the "United Russia" party and some influential figures. I refer to this real opposition as the "Atlantic Integrationists" (AI) because their key aim is to integrate Russia into the AngloZionist worldwide power structure.
  5. The *real* power base of Putin is in the Russian people themselves who support him personally, the All-Russian People's Front, and in the group which I call the "Eurasian Sovereignists" (ES) whose primary aims is to develop a new, multi-polar, world order, to to break free from the current AngloZionist controlled international financial system, to re-orient as much of the former USSR as possible towards an integration with the East, and to develop of the Russian North.

Treasure Chest

IMF chief Christine Lagarde: Ukraine's economy would have collapsed without Russian aid

© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Pesnya
Christine Lagarde
Ukraine's ailing economy would have collapsed without Russia's financial help, the head of the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that the Eastern European country's economy had hit a wall last year and was heading for disaster when Russian bailout money averted a catastrophe.

"Without the support that they were getting from this lifeline that Russia had extended a few months ago, they were heading nowhere," Lagarde said in an interview broadcast on the US PBS channel.

Russia made a crucial decision to invest a hefty $15 billion in Ukrainian eurobonds late last year, disbursing the first tranche of $3 billion in December. Moscow and Kiev also agreed to steeply cut gas prices for Ukraine in an effort to boost the country's ailing economy.

But the cash injections and discounts were frozen following a coup amid violent protests in February that led to far-right parties gaining key positions in the new government.

The IMF chief confessed that Ukraine had been cut off from international financial markets. She stressed that IMF money comes at a price, meaning Ukraine was expected to do what it had to do to reform its economy, including making some hard choices.

"It's an economy that needed reforms, that needed profound transformation of its fiscal policy, of its monetary policy, and of its policies on energy," Lagarde said.

The Washington-based fund said last week it had signed a binding accord with Ukraine, under which Kiev was to receive $14 to $18 billion in standby credit in exchange for painful economic reforms. Ukraine expects to get a total of $27 billion in the next two years.

Info

India election: Most likely winner of Indian elections intends to act independently from Washington

© Flickr.com/narendramodiofficial/cc-by-sa 3.0
Narendra Modi
Indian politicians hit the campaign trail for a final day Saturday before the start of a marathon nine-phase election, expected to vault the Hindu nationalist opposition to power. The front-pages of Indian newspapers are full of Narendra Modi's photos, who is the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, carrying the party's slogan: "Time for a Change, Time for Modi." The BJP headed by Narendra Modi displays intent to act independently from Washington.

Indian politicians had their last chance to woo voters Saturday with the next day being an official campaign break before the first stage of voting kicks off in the far-flung northeast on Monday, AFP reports.

Indian opinion polls point to a strong win by Modi, 63, a tea-stall owner's son and a charismatic politician with a booming voice, who promised to revive the country's once red-hot economy.

Modi, elected three times as chief minister of the prosperous western state of Gujarat, has been rapidly increasing his hold on the BJP's national apparatus, sidelining the party's old guard.

Chess

Japan orders to shoot down any new North Korea ballistic missile

© Vesti.ru
Japan has ordered a destroyer in the Sea of Japan to strike any ballistic missiles that may be launched by North Koreain the coming weeks after Pyongyang fired a Rodong medium-range missile over the sea, a government source said on Saturday.

According to the Reuters report citing an unidentified government source, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera issued the order on Thursday, but did not make it public in order to avoid putting a chill on renewed talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang, the first in more than a year, local media reported earlier.

"The defense minister made the order from April 3rd through to the 25th to prepare for any additional missile launches," the source said.

Muffin

Kerry stops pretending and gives up on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

© Reuters / Stringer
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the Obama administration will reassess its role in attempting to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine after the latest round of discussions proved to be all but fruitful.

Speaking to reporters from Rabat, Morocco amid his latest tour overseas, Kerry said that the most recent attempts from the United States to find common ground between leadership in the Middle East have failed.

Reporting from Morocco, the Associated Press said Kerry appeared "visibly downbeat" as he disclosed to journalists the results of the State Department's latest attempt to find an answer to the long-standing issues between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Both sides said last year that they'd reach an agreement by the end of April 2014, but Sec. Kerry said this week that a negotiation between parties is nowhere as near as the White House had hoped. Israel had initially agreed to release a group of Palestinian prisoners, but earlier this week rescinded that promise, prompting discussions to deteriorate even further. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded on Tuesday by saying his nation would seek greater recognition from the United Nations, much to the chagrin of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"They say they want to continue," the AP quoted Kerry as saying of both leaders. "But we are not going to sit there indefinitely. This is not an open-ended effort. It's reality check time."

Comment: Had Kerry been sincere in wanting to broker a peace deal, he would at the very minimum had told Israel in no uncertain terms to stop bulldozing Palestinian homes and to stop the illegal settlements on Palestinian land.


Cell Phone

Probably faked: Conversation released where Russian ambassadors 'joked about annexing Scotland', closing American fast food companies operating in Ukraine

© Alamy
A leaked recording purporting to be of envoys joking about adding Scotland, Alaska and Venice to Russia's conquest of Crimea is the latest salvo in the war of dirty tricks over Ukraine The conversation features two voices said to be Igor Chubarov, the ambassador to Eritrea, and Sergei Bakharev, the ambassador to Zimbabwe and Malawi
The war of dirty tricks over the Ukraine crisis escalated on Friday with the leak of a conversation purporting to be of two Russian ambassadors joking about adding Scotland, Alaska, and Venice to Russia's conquest of Crimea.

The expletive ridden conversation posted on Youtube features two voices said to be Igor Chubarov, the ambassador to Eritrea, and Sergei Bakharev, the ambassador to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The voice labelled as Mr Chubarov's congratulates Mr Bakharev on persuading Zimbabwe to back Russia's position on Crimea at the UN, and goes on to joke about telling a European diplomat about future conquests.

"We've got Crimea, but that's not ----ing all, folks. In the future we'll take you ----ing Catalonia, Venice, as well as Scotland and Alaska," the voice says.

The pair go on to add Miami and London to their hit list, noting that "Miamiland' is ----ing 95 percent Russian citizens."

The YouTube posting follows the leaks of at least two embarrassing conversations involving European and American officials that US officials have blamed on the Russian intelligence services.

Comment: Assuming for a moment that they are genuine, the remarks of the two Russian ambassadors may have been in poor taste, there is a grain of truth in the fact that Scotland or any other country would probably get a better deal from Russian affiliation than from the European Union and the IMF.

But it's very unlikely that they are authentic. Unlike the damning Nuland and Ashton tapes implicating the US and EU in a fascist coup d'etat in Ukraine, the Russians haven't acknowledged that these are real.


Mr. Potato

BBC slammed for false coverage of climate change

Image
© PressTV
A UK parliamentary committee has released a damning report, criticizing the state-run British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for its unbalanced and false coverage of climate change.

The report by the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee found that the BBC had used unqualified experts instead of scientists to give their views on the issue.

In addition, the committee said the BBC's use of climate lobbyists has blurred the lines between scientific facts and belief-based opinions.
Committee chair Andrew Miller said it was "disappointing that the BBC does not ensure all of its programs and presenters reflect the actual state of science in its output," adding, BBC's news teams, including Radio 4's Today program "continue to make mistakes in their coverage of climate science by giving opinions and scientific fact the same weight."

Comment: Why does the BBC treat us like morons over climate change? says The Daily Telegraph, UK...


Briefcase

$6 Billion unaccounted for at State Department

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© Fiscal Times
The State Department has no idea what happened to $6 billion used to pay its contractors.

In a special "management alert" made public Thursday, the State Department's Inspector General Steve Linick warned "significant financial risk and a lack of internal control at the department has led to billions of unaccounted dollars over the last six years.

The alert was just the latest example of the federal government's continued struggle with oversight over its outside contractors.

The lack of oversight "exposes the department to significant financial risk," the auditor said. "It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file. It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect its interests, and, in tum, those of taxpayers."

Chess

Don't Poke the Bear: Russia tightens squeeze on Ukraine with gas price rise

© Reuters/Dmitry Astakhov/Ria Novosti
Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) meets with Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller in Moscow, April 3, 2014
* Price discount was agreed before political crisis
* Gazprom says Ukraine's gas debt is $1.7 billion
* Naftogaz chief to visit Moscow this week

Russian natural gas producer Gazprom announced a more than 40 percent increase in the price of gas for Ukraine on Tuesday, stepping up economic pressure on Kiev in its crisis in relations with Moscow.

Price rows have in the past led to cuts in Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and decreases in onward deliveries to Europe, but this time the financial blow to Kiev is set to be cushioned by a new International Monetary Fund loan package.

Comment: Since the elected president of Ukraine has been ousted by the NATO/U.S. coup and replaced by same with a fascist dictatorship, there's no reason for Moscow to keep promises made with the previous president. Plus the new regime has agreed to IMF's "financial rescue".


Dollar Gold

President Obama + one-day visit to Brussels = $1.5M hotel bill

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© The Hotel
In late March, President Obama took a week-long trip through Europe which included a stop of less than 24 hours in Brussels, Belgium for meetings with the European Union and NATO. The president stayed at The Hotel, a twenty-seven story hotel in the center of the city. The estimated cost for the president's stay, including about two weeks for an advance team, was $1,522,646.36.