Thursday, May 31, 2007

You are sooooo busted - pt1

"Would you like a polonium spritzer with that?"

A friend of mine called me up this morning (cheers John) to tell me that I really should turn on
BBC News 24 to watch its headline story

It was, of course, Andrei Lugovoi, the man charged with poisoning Alexander Litvinenko, giving his frankly remarkable press conference.

My chum was thoughtful enough to appreciate that there’s nothing quite like watching a live feed before the editors get a chance to step in and the specialist correspondents have an opportunity to present the edited material in its ‘correct’ context

My chum is also aware that I maintain a particular interest in what goes on in Russia as the result a series of frankly remarkable business trips I made there a few years ago.

And what I saw was the tail end of the purest expression of kleptocracy I have ever seen in the Northern Hemisphere

Without rehashing the story of the oligarchs here, the country had been robbed blind and ownership of anything of any value had been transferred to a small band of crooks. All thanks to Boris Yeltsin’s quite staggeringly corrupt government and the assistance of hordes of Western economic advisers who maintained that the only way to save Russia was to destroy Russia.

Once the assets had been stolen, a fairly crude accounting trick that involved selling their output to offshore holding companies at knock down prices meant that the state’s share of the revenue from those assets approximated to something like fuck all.

Low-income earners couldn’t afford to pay any tax. Higher incomes earners didn’t have to. Middle income earners ended up footing all the bills. That was, at least, until there were hardly any middle income earners left.

Russia was broke

In spite of Western portrayals of the recently deceased Boris Yeltsin as being some kind of flawed hero of the Russia people, most of the people, aside from tourists, visiting his body weren’t paying their respects they were just checking to make sure the fucker was really dead

Yup, he's definitely not breathing...

Anyone wishing to study a highly compressed, edited highlight version of how globalisation works when totally unrestrained could do worse than study what happened to Russia in the 1990s

And it is worth studying. It's the Future

(as an aside, I didn't develop my views about untrammelled globalisation and klepto-capitalism sitting at a keyboard - I've seen the results first hand and they lick donkey nuts, big time)

Policemen weren’t being paid. Teachers weren’t being paid. You could sense that for a time there was a real, and very dangerous, prospect of the entire, very large, very heavily-armed, country breaking down completely

And then Putin came along

Without holding up Putin as any kind of paragon of virtue and to cut a long story short, Putin was given power by the people who were looting Russia and then, for reasons known only to Putin, he turned around and fucked them.

Which goes a long way to account for Putin's continuing popularity in the Russia, in spite of what the Western media, rather feebly, try to imply

Putin is clearly far from stupid and realised that there was no way he could take back the assets stolen by the Oligarchs without having to face some serious global repercussions.

On top of that, some of the smarter oligarchs realising which way the wind was blowing started selling large chunks of their stolen Russian holdings and exchanging them for Western assets. In money laundering parlance this is known as the ‘layering’ stage. A process which the British establishment has a long and distinguished record of bending over backwards to facilitate, Russian mobsters being no exception.

So, at first sight, Putin was stuck. Russia had been robbed of its most productive resources and unless Putin was prepared to expand the role of the Russian government to include British football club ownership he had a problem.

Only he didn’t have a problem. The thing about oil fields and aluminium mines is that you can’t physically move them out of the country. All Putin had to do was tax the shit out of their land value.

Problem solved

And he is starting to (this link is well worth a read)

So, as long as Putin or someone like Putin is in charge of the Russian government the net profitability of those resources for their thieving, scumbag owners (now Western as well as indigenous oligarchs) is severely reduced.

Basically, Putin has to go...



paul said...

All ushered in by bongo's pal

I need a crash course in Economics. Bobby S. suggested I meet Professor Jeffrey Sachs at Harvard. He is Elvis of Economics and Development.

CV: cratering an entire economy, cutting life expectancy in half,culling the population

Still we all make mistakes and must 'move on'

Stef said...

OMG I realised Nobo was a tool but until read through that diary I couldn't have begun to imagine how much of one

Who could have?

President Clinton--Even his staffers refer to him as Elvis. He's got that Southern twang and he doesn't need much sleep. I like him. I don't normally hang with people that tall. The U2ers have gotten to know him over the years. He has almost total recall and from his Sunday school roots, a moral compass for the important things...Taking the high ground in Bosnia while Europe prevaricated. In Northern Ireland he was the glue. The list goes on and I can forgive, for the moment, the fact that America runs the world like it's a company."

btw Who says Bobby S.'s mate Jeff S. made a mistake?

paul said...

I'm sure he forgave president elvis for bombing the Al Shifa Pharmaceutical Plant as a distraction when caught up to his nuts in monica's guts.

Maybe he left his compass there

Wolfie said...

Jeffrey Sachs is the fucking anti-christ.

Stef said...

I hear that Bono speaks very highly of him

paul said...

The annoying thing is that after all the help we in the west have given them, modernising their economy, surrounding them them with military bases etc. they still persist in acting like their some kind of sovereign power with their own military and resources. This has our rulers scratching their heads:
Just what does it take to kill these bastards off?
The turn of the tide against putin's russia makes it plain that we have had enough and some people(s) just never learn.
Perhaps the war on terror will go the way of the war on drugs, just become part of the (authoritarian) furniture and elements in the west are itching to get back to a nice cold war.
Question time is often a good indicator of the official mood. Last time I watched, the tiny but awful scribbler Martin Amis was gravely informing us of our moral duty to destroy Iran.
This week Simon schama (who seemed to exhibiting signs of late onset tourette's)earnestly warned us that russia is sliding into an odious dictatorship. An audience member seemed very concerned that the russians were 'holding us to ransom' over gas and oil supplies. God dammit, are we going to put up with the great bear's paw on the spigot of our lifestyles?
No one pointed out that that is what what they're supposed to do according to the fairy tales of international trade.

Stef said...

astonishingly well put

whilst Schama was doing his piece on Russia sliding back into barbarity it was necessary to restrain the Mrs from lobbing things at the television. As well as having spent some time in the FSU, she also hails from NZ and consequently has a strong allergic reaction to millionaire lefty luvvy cunts

Obviously, if Schama were actually in the room I would have been handing her shit to throw at him as efficiently as I could

Stef said...

Of course what didn't get discussed was the actual meat of the question i.e. could yesterday's accusation of a secret service conspiracy against Putin possibly be true

It goes without saying, even though the British media has started to, that the suggestion that MI6 - the UK's external intelligence agency - might be recruiting intelligence agents to work against foreign governments is an an outrageous and baseless conspiracy theory

paul said...

Let's get this straight, we're the good guys, not them.
The stout yoemanry of our secret services are no match for the bottomless guile of iranians/russians or anybody else.

paul said...

Britain continues fight to extradite Lugovoi as security sources dismiss his claim as a 'smokescreen'.

What about a swap?
Russia's chief prosecutor has sent a new request to the UK for the London-based Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky to be extradited.

Stef said...

From that Guardian piece you just linked to

"Some Russian analysts said Mr Lugovoi's claims were unconvincing. "I got the impression that someone else had written his statement for him. It was not a very successful defence strategy," Stansilav Belkovsky, the head of Moscow's National Strategic Institute, told Russia Today."

And after 30 seconds Googling 'Belkovsky Berezovsky'

"We all have drunk Berezovski's cognac. In reality, practical non drinking karate-kid, girl named Olga, one of my body-guards, have saved about half a bottle. Later, I have finished that historical bottle together with a King of Russian PR: Stanislav Belkovski: that very man who by order of Berezovski have created "Edinstvo" in 1999 and in 2003 started attack on "YUKOS"

Presumably they don't have access to Google at the Guardian

paul said...

Sounds like he's the elvis of oligarchic public relations

Anonymous said...

Al Shifa - nauseating. After the bombing, the owner of the plant attempted to get some sort of redress in the US courts ... so they sequestered his assets. Like Neimoller's poem - we didn't do anything.

As to the press announcement - I caught two follow up reports on BBC Radio 5 Lies (er, live). The first one interviewed a former Yeltsin aid who fled to London as an impartial observer; the second report quoted Goldfarb, again, as an impartial source (really!!).

Fascinating how thick 'n' shallow yer average journo must be ... they must have a 1 mm depth of understanding of everything.

paul said...

Well if you approach reporting as anything other than a collection of discrete, transient events, it all gets a bit confusing and upsetting for the readers, let alone the journalists.

As the doorknob said to alice:

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction

Anonymous said...

Another story that has bugged me for a while - the Al Shiva mention brought it to mind.

The story that doesn't sit right is the cloggy chemical trader who sold thiodiglycol to Eye-Rack and was subsequently jailed by one of the pretend-independent courts (read John Laughland for more analysis) for war crimes (or crimes against humanity).

The story raised a couple of points; firstly most bulk chem traders (in my experience) are thick. They don't know what they're selling other than it can get them a profit; in other words, a patsy for the picking.

The other point refers to the chemistry; or more specifically the plant required to do the chemisty. Now, find and follow the logic closely: the plant needed to transform thiodiglycol to sulphur mustard is the same as that needed to prepare thiodiglycol from simpler starting materials (I can draft and post a process outline if anyone is interested). So, the purchase of the watched compound must have been based on the fact that they had plant to convert it to sulphur mustard but this plant could also be used to prepare thiodiglycol from not watched simpler starting materials (eg NaSH, EtOH, chloroethanol). So, why was it purchased?

Again, if they had plant to make the poison from the watched starting material; they could've used that plant to make the purchased starting material from not watched compounds. If they didn't have plant, why bother buying it?

Tony said...

So. Much. To. Read.

If you want to read even more, much more, of slightly related stuff, I stumbled up this:

Seems interesting, alas, I have my problems following every little detail...

Stef said...

so did I...