Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Putin’

Clinton Corruption Update for March 15, 2017

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Beware the Ides of March! Also beware the Clinton Family (and their fixer functionaries John and Tony Podesta), who keep refusing to fade from public sight:

  • Less than half of the projects undertaken by the Clinton Global Initiative have been completed.
  • So what do you do when you have a potentially useful and informative piece, but don’t trust the source? Report it with a caveat, namely that this comes from Infowars: “Russian Bank Docs Show How Putin Laundered Money to Hillary & Podesta“:

    Congress may want to examine concrete evidence showing Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Hillary Clinton and John Podesta for a long time before the mainstream media goes even more overboard trying to fabricate a tie between Putin and President Donald Trump.

    The money trail hunt begins with a document Infowars has obtained from the Russian Central Bank “Registry of Significant Control,” known generally as the “RSC Registry.”

    This document traces the ownership of Metcombank, a relatively small Russian-domiciled bank located in the Russian Ural Mountains, to ownership by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin.

    As we shall see this document provides evidence of the circuitous path the Russian government has been using since Hillary Clinton was secretary of state to make large financial payments to John Podesta and to the Clinton Foundation.

    As the RSC Registry makes clear, Vekselberg has been paying Clinton and Podesta through a complicated money laundering scheme involving Metcombank in Russia, with payments tracing back to the Renova Group, a Russian-based energy and investment international conglomerate also owned by Vekselberg.

    Evidently some of the money flowing to Podesta is coming via the previously mentioned Joule Unlimited:

    In the summer of 2011, while he was advising then-Secretary Clinton on State Department policy, John Podesta joined the board of three Joule entities: Joule Unlimited, a small Massachusetts-based energy company; its holding company, Joule Global Holdings, N.V., which was based in the Netherlands; and Joule Global Stichting, which appears to be the ultimate controlling entity.

    Podesta, it turns out, has been paid an undisclosed amount, starting in 2011, for serving on the executive board of Joule Unlimited that he neglected to report to regulatory authorities in the U.S., as well consulting fees from the Wyss Foundation, a group controlled by Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, an investor in Joule Energy.

    In an Aug. 2016 report entitled “From Russia with Money,” the Government Accountability Institute noted that Podesta consulted for a foundation run by one of the investors in Joule Energy, Hansjörg Wyss, who in turn was a major Clinton Foundation donor.

    Podesta was evidently paid $87,000 by the Wyss Foundation in 2013, according to federal tax records.

    The GAI report also documented the Wyss Charitable Foundation has given between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    Some of the information here is new (or at least new to me), while other bits accord with what we already know about Podesta ties to Putin. I would still like to see external verification from a more reliable source for the new information.

  • “In pushing its Manchurian-candidate-Trump narrative, the media fail to mention the much deeper ties of Democratic lobbyists to Russia. Don’t worry, the media seems to say: Even though they are representing Russia, the lobbyists are good upstanding citizens, not like the Trump people. They can be trusted with such delicate matters.”

    The media’s focus on Trump’s Russian connections ignores the much more extensive and lucrative business relationships of top Democrats with Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies. Thanks to the Panama Papers, we know that the Podesta Group (founded by John Podesta’s brother, Tony) lobbied for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. “Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior U.S. intelligence official. According to a Reuters report, Tony Podesta was “among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.” Among these was the European Center, which paid Podesta $900,000 for his lobbying.

    That’s not all: The busy Podesta Group also represented Uranium One, a uranium company acquired by the Russian government which received approval from Hillary Clinton’s State Department to mine for uranium in the U.S. and gave Russia twenty percent control of US uranium. The New York Times reported Uranium One’s chairman, Frank Guistra, made significant donations to the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for one speech from a Russian investment bank that has “links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.” Notably, Frank Giustra, the Clinton Foundation’s largest and most controversial donor, does not appear anywhere in Clinton’s “non-private” emails. It is possible that the emails of such key donors were automatically scrubbed to protect the Clinton Foundation.

    Let’s not leave out fugitive Ukrainian oligarch, Dymtro Firtash. He is represented by Democratic heavyweight lawyer, Lanny Davis, who accused Trump of “inviting Putin to commit espionage” (Trump’s quip: If Putin has Hillary’s emails, release them) but denies all wrongdoing by Hillary.

  • Indeed, Sberbank confirmed it hired Tony Podesta, elder brother of John Podesta, to get various Obama-era sanctions lifted.
  • There’s just one tiny little problem: “Democratic super lobbyist Tony Podesta failed to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) when he agreed to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.”
  • Lot’s of people in Hillary Clinton’s campaign met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Five Clinton-Russia Bombshells Progressives Yawned Over.” Including much already covered here, although I might have missed this one: “Ian Telfer, the head of the Russian government’s uranium company, Uranium One, made four foreign donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation, as the New York Times reported.”
  • “The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.”
  • “FBI Quietly Releases Batch #7 of Clinton Investigation Notes and Interviews.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Illegal fundraiser for the Clintons made secret tape because he feared being ASSASSINATED over what he knew – and used it to reveal Democrats’ bid to silence him.” Caveat the first: This is on Johnny Chung, Bill Clinton fundraiser back in 1996, who shows up in Year of the Rat, so it’s not exactly breaking news. Caveat the second: Daily Mail. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • But as long as we’re there, here’s a brief overview of the Clinton’s China connections. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • It’s time to investigate the Clinton Foundation. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why won’t the Trump State Department look for Hillary’s emails? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “State Department Inspector General officials edited out passages of a high-profile report in 2013 that could have embarrassed Hillary Clinton just days before she quit President Obama’s Cabinet.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Judicial Watch sues for information on Bill Clinton’s plane meeting with Loretta Lynch. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Not a surprise: Former Hillary Clinton Staffers Are Driving the Anti-Trump Resistance Movement:

    Three of the five top strategists behind the March are key Clinton staffers: De’Ara Balenger, Meredith Shepard and Sarah Sophia Flicker. And three lower-level Women’s March staffers (Mariam Ehrari, Hannah Rosenzweig and Caitlyn Ryan) were essential members of Clinton’s extended campaign staff.

    Balenger was Huma Abedin’s right-hand woman, reporting directly to Clinton’s top deputy and closest friend. Before joining Clinton’s campaign, she worked directly with disgraced State Department aide Cheryl Mills, who was at the center of Clinton’s private email server controversy, and was accused of wielding the power of the State Department to benefit the Clinton Foundation’s top donors.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • The media keeps pimping Chelsea Clinton.
  • Although by “the media,” more often than not it’s The Hill doing the pimping:

    She is not a thing. Stop trying to make her a thing. She is not going to be the Savior of the Democratic Party, because no one wants to vote for a Clinton anymore. Everyone is tired of the Clintons. You can’t find any buzz about any of them outside of Peter Daou’s timeline, and that has devolved into pretty much just openly weeping at this point.

    It’s incredibly difficult to take a news site that constantly posts Chelsea Clinton’s every thought as news serious. The Hill is little more than a joke right now pushing a punchline no one finds funny.

  • Russian Ambassador to Turkey Shot Dead

    Monday, December 19th, 2016

    This could be what people call “a pretty big deal“:

    The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been badly wounded in an armed assault in Ankara according to Turkish press. According to CNN Turk man opened fire in the air then fired twice at the ambassador, who was shot in the back. It is reported that police is still exchanging fire with the attacker.

    The attack took place at the opening of the “Russia through Turks’ eyes” photo exhibition, Turkish NTV news channel reports, and adds that there is information that three other people are injured.

    Karlov was immediately rushed to a hospital after the assault, according to Turkish media. The ambassador is reported to be in a critical state.

    Russian Embassy in Ankara has not issued an official statement concerning the assault yet. However, soon after the news emerged, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian Foreign Ministry would soon issue a statement. The attack comes just a day before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s planned visit to Moscow for Syria talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.

    No word yet on who is responsible for the attack. The Islamic State’s a good candidate, but if the Turkish government announces the PKK was behind it, there’s a 99% chance it’s a false flag operation.

    Let’s hope it’s not a “Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo” big deal…

    Update: The attacker evidently shouted “Allah Akbar” during the attack which is far more Islamic State than PKK.

    Karlov was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored photo exhibition in the capital when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.

    CNN Turk reported that the gunman entered the gallery with a police ID and opened fire on the ambassador as he made a speech. CNN Turk is reporting that a brief hostage situation has ended after special forces entered the building, adding that Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu is at the scene.

    Haaretz also offers this photo of the attacker:

    More Russian looking than Middle Eastern, and a bit on the light-skinned side for a Chechen.

    Update 2: The Russian ambassador has died. Not the sort of things those cheerful, forgiving, happy-go-lucky sorts in the Kremlin are inclined to sweep under the rug…

    Update 3: “Turkish security officials identified the attacker as Mert Altıntas, who had graduated from İzmir Rüştü Ünsal Police Academy in 2014.” Also: “He said something about ‘Aleppo’ and ‘revenge’.”

    Update 4: Holy fark! Footage of the shooting:

    Update 5: Evidently assassin Mert Altıntas has himself been slain. Graphic-ish pics in Tweet that follows:

    Update 6: Turkey’s Foreign minister is flying to Moscow of Syria talks. Meanwhile, Russian capo Vladimir Putin isn’t sounding overly belligerent over the assassinations. “This murder is clearly a provocation aimed at undermining the improvement and normalization of Russian-Turkish relations, as well as undermining the peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria.” Notably absent from Putin’s statement: the phrases “Casus belli,” “glass parking lot” and “sew the earth with salt.”

    The Panama Papers’ Clinton-Putin Connection Part 2

    Saturday, April 9th, 2016

    It turns out that there’s another Clinton-Putin collection revealed by the Panama Papers in the form of ubiquitous Clinton toady Sydney Blumenthal:

    Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian billionaire and former prime minister of the Caucasus state, is also named in the Panama Papers, which is believed to be the largest leaks of financial documents in history. A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ivanishvili appeared in the Hillary Clinton email dump through her longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal.

    Blumenthal, who played a middle-man role for Clinton, passed along a memo from Ivanishvili ahead of the 2012 Georgian elections. Ivanishvili was head of the Georgian Dream party, which successfully ousted then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a U.S. ally.

    Snip.

    According to Blumenthal’s email, [former Clinton ambassador to Germany John] Kornblum was “working with the political party in Georgia opposing Saakashvili.”

    Kornblum made the case that the U.S. should consider distancing itself from Saakashvili. He also asserted that the regime was cracking down on opposition parties, such as the Ivanishvili-controlled Georgian Dream coalition.

    “There is a real chance Saakashvili could lose,” Kornblum wrote. “He is doing everything possible to avoid that indignity, including harassing Georgian Dream in ways described in the letters.”

    “If Saakshvili clearly steals the election, there could be public discontent, violence and maybe a ‘wag the dog’ scenario with Russia,” he added.

    In a memo passed to Blumenthal through Kornblum, Ivanishvili urged Clinton to support Georgian Dream.

    “The first step back to the path of democracy must be an open and fair election that offers the hope of a peaceful transfer of power,” Ivanishvili wrote. “Recent polls suggest that Georgian Dream can make this happen, if the authorities give democracy a chance.”

    Yes, because “peaceful democracy” and “Putin stooges” go together so well. And who wouldn’t want to ally with an America whose Secretary of State is willing to intervene in local elections on behalf of their political enemies?

    Of course, betraying allies and comforting enemies has pretty much been the modus operandi of Obama/Clinton/Kerry foreign policy.

    It is unclear if Blumenthal was paid for connecting Kornblum and Ivanishvili to Clinton. It is also unclear whether Ivanishvili directed Kornblum or Blumenthal to reach out to Clinton. Additionally, it is unclear how Clinton responded to the memos.

    But as Gawker reported, attorneys with expertise in the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which governs foreign lobbying, say that Blumenthal and Kornblum should have registered as lobbyists.

    Blumenthal frequently emailed Clinton with items ranging from political gossip to in-depth intelligence briefings gleaned from his deep reservoir of intelligence community sources. He lobbied heavily on behalf of a company called Osprey Global Solutions, which sought contracts in post-Gaddafi Libya.

    And this is not the last time that Blumenthal will be mentioned here this weekend…

    The Panama Papers:
    The Clinton-Putin Connection

    Friday, April 8th, 2016

    Among my first thoughts when the Panama papers scandal broke was “How soon until until this is tied to the Clintons?”

    The answer seems to be about four days:

    The revelations of the so-called Panama Papers that are roiling the world’s political and financial elites this week include important facts about Team Clinton. This unprecedented trove of documents purloined from a shady Panama law firm that arranged tax havens, and perhaps money laundering, for the globe’s super-rich includes juicy insights into how Russia’s elite hides its ill-gotten wealth.

    Almost lost among the many revelations is the fact that Russia’s biggest bank uses The Podesta Group as its lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Though hardly a household name, this firm is well known inside the Beltway, not least because its CEO is Tony Podesta, one of the best-connected Democratic machers in the country. He founded the firm in 1998 with his brother John, formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, then counselor to President Barack Obama, Mr. Podesta is the very definition of a Democratic insider. Outsiders engage the Podestas and their well-connected lobbying firm to improve their image and get access to Democratic bigwigs.

    Which is exactly what Sberbank, Russia’s biggest financial institution, did this spring. As reported at the end of March, the Podesta Group registered with the U.S. Government as a lobbyist for Sberbank, as required by law, naming three Podesta Group staffers: Tony Podesta plus Stephen Rademaker and David Adams, the last two former assistant secretaries of state. It should be noted that Tony Podesta is a big-money bundler for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign while his brother John is the chairman of that campaign, the chief architect of her plans to take the White House this November.

    Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image—leading Moscow financial institutions not exactly being known for their propriety and wholesomeness—and specifically to help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector.

    It’s hardly surprising that Sberbank sought the help of Democratic insiders like the Podesta Group to aid them in this difficult hour, since they clearly understand how American politics work. The question is why the Podesta Group took Sberbank’s money. That financial institution isn’t exactly hiding in the shadows—it’s the biggest bank in Russia, and its reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Nobody acquainted with Russian finance was surprised that Sberbank wound up in the Panama Papers.

    though Sberbank has its origins in the nineteenth century, it was functionally reborn after the Soviet collapse, and it the 1990s it grew to be the dominant bank in the country, today controlling nearly 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets and employing a quarter-million people. The majority stockholder in Sberbank is Russia’s Central Bank. In other words, Sberbank is functionally an arm of the Kremlin, although it’s ostensibly a private institution.

    Snip.

    John and Tony Podesta aren’t fooling anyone with this ruse. They are lobbyists for Vladimir Putin’s personal bank of choice, an arm of his Kremlin and its intelligence services. Since the brothers Podesta are presumably destined for very high-level White House jobs next January if the Democrats triumph in November at the polls, their relationship with Sberbank is something they—and Hillary Clinton—need to explain to the public.

    So in summary: Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager is a registered lobbyist for Vladimir Putin.

    The Clintons generate corruption and conflict of interest the way bees make honey…

    Putin and the Panama Papers

    Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

    Here’s a potentially huge scandal that’s just unfolding now:

    An unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents, called the “Panama Papers”, has revealed the hidden financial dealings of some of the world’s wealthiest people, as well as 12 current and former world leaders and 128 more politicians and public officials around the world.

    More than 200,000 companies, foundations and trusts are contained in the leak of information which came from a little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama called Mossack Fonseca, whose files include the offshore holdings of drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders – and wrongdoing galore.

    The law firm is one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, which can be legally used to hide the ownership of assets. The data includes emails, contracts, bank records, property deeds, passport copies and other sensitive information dating from 1977 to as recently as December 2015.

    It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.

    There’s 2.6 terrabytes of data released, including Donald Trump’s favorite Russian dictator:

    The most extraordinary allegations in the archive revolve around Putin’s closest associates, including Sergey Roldugin, a close friend since the late 1970s when Putin was a young KGB agent.

    Roldugin is a cellist for the St Petersburg orchestra, yet his name appears as the owner of offshore companies that have rights to loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A Russian news service report in 2010 disclosed that he owned at least three per cent of Bank Rossiya, Russia’s most important bank.

    When Mossack Fonseca helped open a bank account in Switzerland on behalf of Roldugin, the application form asked if he had “any relation to PEPs (politically exposed persons) or VIPs.”

    The one-word answer was, “No.” Yet, Roldugin is godfather to Putin’s daughter Mariya.

    “Roldugin is, by his proximity to a serving head of state, clearly an exposed person,” Mark Pieth, a former head of the Swiss justice ministry’s organized crime division, told the ICIJ team.

    The documents show how in 2008 a company controlled by Roldugin had influence over Russia’s largest truck maker Kamaz, joining with several other offshore companies to help another Putin insider acquire majority control of the company. They wanted foreign investment, and German carmaker Daimler later that year bought a 10 per cent stake in Kamaz for $250 million.

    The offshore company that connects many Putin loyalists is Sandalwood Continental Limited in the British Virgin Islands. Roldugin was a shareholder until 2012, as was Oleg Gordin, a little-known businessman whom incorporation documents describe as linked to “law enforcement agencies.”

    The files also mention a company co-owned by Putin friend Yury Kovalchuk, the largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya. Kovalchuk was among those targeted by US sanctions in 2014 in retribution for Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Another friend, Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s judo partner and a billionaire construction mogul, openly obtained companies through Mossack Fonseca. The US Treasury Department, when sanctioning him in 2014, suggested that the oligarch acted on behalf of “a senior official.”

    That was widely believed to mean Putin, whose fingerprints were not on any offshore company.

    The fact that Putin is lining the pockets of himself and his cronies is hardly shocking, but having concrete proof of it is a different thing altogether.

    Strangely, the web page for the papers run by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists‎, doesn’t seem to have any Americans fingered by the papers yet. There’s a good chance that could change.

    Developing…

    So What The Hell Is Going On in Syria?

    Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

    The problem with doing an update on Syria is that I’m not sure anyone knows what the hell is going on there.

    The motivations of the major local players are clear: Assad wants to survive and maintain power, while his paymasters in Iran want to back him and the Shia against the Islamic State and other Sunni groups. The Islamic State wants to establish its brutal medieval caliphate over first Mesopotamia and the Levant, then the entire Ummah, then the entire world, exterminating Shia and subjugating Christians and Jews to dhimmitude along the way. The Saudis want to back Sunnis (possibly including the Islamic State). The Kurds just want to survive. Etc.

    However, what Barack Obama and Vladamir Putin want is considerably less clear.

    Obama, after royally screwing Iraq by pulling U.S. troops out after Bush had largely stabilized it (at great expense in money and lives), seems to want to fight a pretend air war against the Islamic State and a pretend insurgency against Assad in order to keep reporters from asking him about it, thus kicking the can down the road for the next President to deal with. (Then again, perhaps this gives Obama too much credit. Maybe, like Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to give the Falklands back, Obama screwed up Iraq just for the pure leftish joy of undoing the achievements of a conservative leader he loathed…)

    What does Putin want to accomplish in Syria? Prop up a military equipment-buying client state in Syria? Support a more important client state in Iran? Give Obama a black eye? Keep Russians distracted from domestic economic woes with military adventurism abroad? Make Russia the dominate political power in the Middle East, filling the vacuum Obama left with America’s withdrawal and betrayal of regional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia? Actually destroy the Islamic State? Take the Shia side in a the wider Sunni-Shia conflict?

    Here are some links on Syria:

  • Zero Hedge sees the beginnings of a regional war.

    If Russia ends up bolstering Iran’s position in Syria (by expanding Hezbollah’s influence and capabilities) and if the Russian air force effectively takes control of Iraq thus allowing Iran to exert a greater influence over the government in Baghdad, the fragile balance of power that has existed in the region will be turned on its head and in the event this plays out, one should not expect Washington, Riyadh, Jerusalem, and London to simply go gentle into that good night.

    Sure enough, some experts now predict Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey will move to counter Russia militarily if Moscow continues to rack up gains for Assad.

  • Andrew McCarthy comes out against U.S. intervention:

    The Syrian mess has gotten messier because Vladimir Putin, with all the unpredictability of the morning sun, has invaded Syria on behalf of Assad and Putin’s more important ally Iran — Assad’s longtime string-puller. The Russian strongman’s claimed purpose is to fight the Islamic State — a pretext no more real than was the supposed need to protect indigenous Russian populations that Putin cited in invading Georgia, Crimea, and Eastern Ukraine.

    Putin, with China’s indulgence, is obviously attempting to fortify a sphere of anti-American influence across the Middle East. Anti-Americanism in this Islamic-supremacist region long predates Putin, of course. What has changed is that the United States is governed by a man of the hard Left — a president who is sympathetic to the Islamist narrative about American imperialism, ambivalent at best about American power, and determined to diminish America’s regional commitments, and thus American influence.

  • Disclaimer: Newsweek.

    The move provides a foothold in a part of the world that the Soviet Union was kicked out of four decades ago. At a moment when the United States appears to be washing its hands of the increasingly bloody and chaotic region, it gives Russia an expanding military presence in the Mediterranean on the doorstep of a NATO ally (its newly established airfield at Latakia in eastern Syria sits just 75 miles from the border with Turkey), and the gambit may yet serve as leverage with the West as Putin seeks to get out from under economic sanctions imposed as a result of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.

  • Vladimir S. Patton.
  • “Putin’s policy is ugly — Russian airstrikes produced immediate reports of civilian casualties — but effective for its purpose. Obama’s policy is high-minded and prudent, but it has been painfully ineffective.”
  • And there are already reports that Russian planes have already violated Turkey’s airspace. And remember that Turkey is still a member of NATO…
  • The pathetic failure of the Pentagon’s efforts in Syria indicate that if anything, this culture of self-congratulation and failure [in Obama’s Department of Defense] is getting more entrenched.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • The problem for America is that a logical Middle East policy is impossible as long as Obama is President and Kerry is Secretary of State.

    Can Putin achieve long-term victory in Syria where Obama’s fecklessness couldn’t? Maybe. Can Iran and Russia together crush the Islamic State? If Russia wanted to commit serious ground combat forces (think Operation Iraqi Freedom), probably, but that would be an exceptionally expensive move that would spread Russian forces dangerously thin elsewhere. But considering that does not appear to be Russia’s immediate goal, which seems to be crushing the Free Syrian Army and allied forces in Western Syria, expect the war against the Islamic State to drag out indefinitely.

    Except for the Kurds (which Obama’s feckless policies have refused to adequately support), the Syrian Civil War is bad guys vs. bad guys all the way down. Assad surviving, or a long-running war between Russia and the Islamic State, are far from the worst possible outcomes…

    “The left is why they leave the left”

    Friday, September 18th, 2015

    When you start grabbing a third pull quote from a piece is when you realize that it needs a post of its own. Such is the case with this Nick Cohen piece on why Jeremy Corbyn’s election has finally forced him to leave the left. Though centered on UK politics, much of it applies to the social justice warrior/victimhood identity politics left in this country as well.

    The shift of left-wing thought towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic has been building for years. I come from a left-wing family, marched against Margaret Thatcher and was one of the first journalists to denounce New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism — and I don’t regret any of it. But slowly, too slowly I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.

    Snip.

    In 2007 I tried to make amends, and published What’s Left. If they were true to their professed principles, my book argued, modern leftists would search out secular forces in the Muslim world — Iranian and Arab feminists, say, Kurdish socialists or Muslim liberals struggling against reactionary clerics here in Britain — and embrace them as comrades. Instead, they preferred to excuse half the anti-western theocrats and dictators on the planet. As, in their quiet way, did many in the liberal mainstream. Throughout that period, I never heard the BBC demanding of ‘progressives’ how they could call themselves left-wing when they had not a word of comfort for the Iraqi and Afghan liberals al-Qaeda was slaughtering.

    The triumph of Jeremy Corbyn has led to What’s Left sales picking up, and readers acclaiming my alleged prescience. Grateful though I am, I cannot accept the compliment. I never imagined that left-wing politics would get as bad as they have become. I assumed that when the criminally irresponsible Blair flew off in his Learjet, the better angels of the left’s nature would re-assert themselves.

    What a fool I was.

    Snip.

    The fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care.

    Snip.

    The half-educated fanatics are in control now. I do not see how in conscience I can stay with their movement or vote for their party. I am not going to pretend the next time I meet Owen Jones or those Labour politicians who serve in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet that we are still members of the same happy family. There are differences that cannot and should not be smoothed over.

    I realise now what I should have known years ago. The causes I most care about — secularism, freedom of speech, universal human rights — are not their causes. Whatever they pretend, when the crunch comes, they will always put sectarian unity first, and find reasons to be elsewhere.

    Read the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

    LinkSwarm for September 11, 2015

    Friday, September 11th, 2015

    It’s the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and thanks to the super-genius foreign policy ofthe Obama Administration, radical Islam is more powerful than ever before!

  • The Islamic State attacks the Kurds with mustard gas Hey Obama: Big, bright red line here! What are you going to do about that? Nothing, eh? Just going to keep up your just-for-show pretend-war against the Islamic State?
  • The thermocline of truth at the Pentagon: “More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials.”
  • Mark Steyn: “Since I last appeared in Copenhagen, some three-quarters of those I shared the stage with that day have been shot at, firebombed or forced to retire from public life and go into hiding.”
  • If you hit a pedestrian in China, do you: A. Stop to render aid, B. Flee the scene or, C. Back over again to make sure they’re dead?
  • “The policies of Jeremy Corbyn, the old-fashioned socialist on course to be elected leader of the U.K.’s Labour Party, are wrong not because they’re left-wing, but because they’re delusional.”
  • Thanks to the Magic Power of Socialism(TM), in Venezuela there’s no justice like mob justice. (Hat tip Instapundit.)
  • Could Putin be undone by a European court rulings?
  • How Bush43 helped keep Russia from invading the rest of Georgia in 2008.
  • Islamic attack leaves leaves 30 dead in Cameroon.
  • Jihad kills 10 in Tajikistan, U.S. embassy shut.
  • “Tunisia is experiencing psychopath drain.”
  • Muslims riot in Rotherham. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Believe it or not, Republicans actually have the demographic edge in 2016.
  • Abilene cop killed in home.
  • This sounds super, super, super, super, super, super dumb.
  • After a long hibernation, Blue Dot Blue has awakened from her deathless slumbers.
  • Dwight has a pretty swell memorial to Oliver Sacks up.
  • Lawfully use your legal firearm to protect your foster kids in Nevada? Watch your kids get taken away.
  • Liberal writer discovers America. “I spent the night at the Chateau Motel & Liquor Store, which is a brilliant business idea that absolutely needs to come east.” #Merica (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Here is the only important fact versus the hyperbolic claims about aspartame and health: There’s a correlation between sugar consumption and health problems. There’s no link between artificial sweeteners and health.”
  • The ghost homes of Japan. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Texas most-wanted sex-offender caught.
  • Creeper in Williamson County:

    Deputies are searching for a man that allegedly injured a 12-year-old girl at a Williamson County park over the weekend.

    It happened Saturday, Sept. 5 at around 5:50 p.m. on the Rattan Creek Park Trail, west of Parmer Lane at Dallas Drive. Investigators say the girl was walking on the trail at a bridge near where two paths intersect when she was approached by an adult male from the south. The Sheriff’s Office says he made several comments regarding the child’s beauty, saying she appeared older than she was, and asked various questions about her and any companions.

    The suspect grabbed the child by the arm, tight enough to cause minor injury. He let go when one of the child’s friends approached them, and walked away from the trail, heading north into the woods, investigators say.

    The subject was described as a white male, approximately 6’0″, with a slim to medium build, short brown hair, and believed to be in his late 30s. He was last seen wearing a white tank top, blue jeans, and had a large tattoo (possibly Old English text) on his left shoulder, extending down to his chest. The suspect was described as having unusually long fingernails.

    If this suspect is observed in the area, you are asked to call the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jason Waldon at (512) 244-8631 or jwaldon@wilco.org or after hours (512) 864-8302.

    Read More at: http://www.keyetv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Deputies-Searching-For-Man-That-Injured-Child-At-WilCo-Park-202903.shtml

    Keep an eye out…

  • The Shooter in Her Cooter.
  • A Look At Russia’s New T-14 Armata Tank

    Thursday, August 20th, 2015

    Last week was almost Russian Tank Week on BattleSwarm, but a plethora of news intervened (like Vladimir Putin intervening in the affairs of neighboring states).

    But one interesting tidbit I didn’t get to was the fact that Russia has introduced a new generation of tanks (and mechanized fighting vehicles more generally, all based off the same base platform).

    So is the new Russian T-14 Armata main battle tank something to worry about, or does the M1A2 Abrams retain clear technological superiority?

    To my very, very outsider eyes, the answer is somewhere in-between.

    First the description from Jane’s:

    The T-14 is Russia’s first truly new tank design since the T-72, designed in the early 1970s. Based on the Armata Universal Tracked Platform, the T-14’s most attention-grabbing feature is its unmanned turret, with all of the MBT’s three crew (commander, driver, gunner) seated in a well-protected crew compartment at the front of the hull.

    Notably, the unveiled turret dispels suggestions the MBT would be armed with a coaxial 30 mm cannon, in addition to its 2A82A 125 mm main gun. Indeed the pre-production vehicles paraded by Russia feature neither a 30 mm cannon nor a coaxial machine gun (MG) armament as expected, although the production vehicles might eventually feature the dual 30 mm cannon/7.62 mm MG.

    Although the T-14’s turret features a large bustle, it remains unclear whether this features the autoloader/weapon-handling system for the MBT’s main gun or serves another purpose (meaning the T-14 would retain the vulnerable hull-mounted carousel system present in previous Russian MBTs). Some reports also indicate Russia has not entirely abandoned its ambitions to arm Armata with a 152 mm main gun. If this is the case, it could explain why the T-14’s unmanned turret has an unusually high profile relative to the position of the 125 mm main gun, with the turret possibly designed to incorporate growth potential up to the 152 mm calibre.

    T-14 is armed with a remote-controlled turret (RCT) armed with a 7.62 mm PKTM MG, with the unit also functioning as the commander’s independent sight. The gunner’s sight is mounted to the left side of the main gun and shielded by a two-piece armoured door to protect it from small arms fire. A barrel reference unit is mounted above the base of the 2A82A main gun, which notably lacks a fume bore extractor (which would be superfluous given the turret is unmanned). Metrological, satellite communications, GLONASS, datalink, and radio communications antennae are fitted on the roof of the turret.

    The MBT’s turret is literally covered in a variety of launcher and sensor systems understood to be linked to a new APS system, which some reports call ‘Afghanit’. At the base of each side of the turret are five large and fixed horizontally arrayed launch tubes covering the 120° frontal arc of the turret. These bear a strong resemblance to the launchers for the earlier Drozd and Drozd-2 APS, which fired a hard-kill 107 mm unguided projectile armed with a high-explosive-(HE) fragment warhead to defeat incoming anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs).

    The T-14 is also fitted with four sets of smaller-calibre launchers, with each unit armed with 12 launch tubes. Two horizontally trainable launcher units are fitted on either side of the top of the turret, while two apparently fixed and vertically facing launcher units are recessed into the top of the tank’s turret.

    It is unclear whether this second system fires hard-kill (ie warheads) or soft-kill (ie anti-infrared/laser-obscuring smoke) munitions, or a combination of the two. It is also unclear if the vertically mounted units are fireable, or simply storage for reload units for the two trainable launchers. One limitation of the Drozd systems were that they provided no protection against threats emanating from above the tank, so mounting the fixed launchers vertically could be one way to provide protection against top-attack threats.

    Providing warning and guidance for the APS system are two types of sensors mounted around the T-14’s turret. Two large sensors, believed to be electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR)-based laser warning receivers, are angularly mounted on the front of the turret providing 180° coverage, while four smaller sensors (covered but believed to be radars) are mounted around the turret providing 360° coverage.

    Armata features a notably different hull design to the T-72/90. One striking difference is the road wheels, which are of a different design to the T-72/90’s, while the Armata features seven road wheels, to the six of the previous MBT designs, with the drive wheel at the rear. This is similar to the T-80 MBT family, which also has chassis with seven smaller road wheels.

    It is not known whether Armata is equipped with a gas-turbine or a diesel engine [given how the Russian chain of command swore off gas-turbine engines after the T-80’s performance in the first Chechen war, probably diesel. -LP] , but the T-14’s powerpack is mounted at the rear of the MBT, with two internal fuel tanks mounted on either side, and exhausts also mounted on either side. Day/night cameras are mounted around the T-14’s turret to provide situational awareness, while a forward-looking EO/IR (FLIR) system is mounted on the front of the hull for the driver. The driver’s hatch has no periscopes. When driving buttoned-down, the driver may be in a reclined position, using a set of periscopes mounted on a second hatch directly behind him.

    NII Stali is understood to have designed a new form of steel armour for the Armata family. Speaking to TASS, a NII Stali representative said the “steel armour alloy, named 44S-sv-Sh [44S–], is approved by the Armata’s developer. The alloy’s operational testing has been started and it can be used in prospective vehicles’ parts”. The use of the 44S-sv-Sh steel in Armata is intended to provide protection at a similar level to STANAG 4569 (first edition) Level 5. The high level of 44S-sv-Sh’s protection is ensured by the short-grained material structure, the optimised legation process and the special heat processing. The steel has also been designed to maintain its characteristics in very cold conditions.

    The Armata design is also understood to utilise explosive reactive armour (ERA) within its base design (rather than the appliqué ERA tiles seen on previous Russian MBTs), with views from above the MBT showing a distinctive tiled pattern indicative of ERA on the top of the vehicle’s chassis and turret. Although what appear to be ERA tiles are present on the turret roof, much of the sides of the turret appears to be just a thin cladding covering the various APS and sighting systems rather than armour. Appliqué armour (unclear if passive or ERA, or both) is fitted to the forward two thirds of the T-14’s sides, while the rear third is protected by bar armour to provide clearance for the T-14’s exhausts.

    Here’s a picture of the front by way of NPR:

    I’m not going to get into the electronics/sensor/packages, since it’s all devil-in-the-details stuff impossible to evaluate at this point. (The active protection system could be very interesting, but there’s no way of knowing how it stacks up to Israel’s Trophy or the still-under-development U.S. Quick Kill.)

    The big reasons I think the M1A2 retains overall superiority:

  • “NII Stali is understood to have designed a new form of steel armour for the Armata family.” Unless this new steel armor has radically improved properties, it seems unlikely to be even as effective against HEAT and/or kinetic penetrating rounds as the Chobham ceramic composite armor used by the M1 and British Challenger tanks, now into (at least) its third generation.
  • I do not like the shape of that turret. At all. Way too high profile, though up-gunning to a 152mm cannon (which I’m skeptical they can do effectively, even with this huge turret) might make it a more acceptable trade-off. (Early T-14 mocks showed a radically low profile turret that evidently turned out to be a pipe dream.) The degree to which the turret bulges out over the side and rear seems like shot traps. That flat section to the right is evidently a gunner sight, which looks like it’s just asking to be targeted. (Then again, the T-72 used this weird stacked bulging steel plate system to provide “non-ractive reactive armor”, which might alleviate the problem some.)
  • Not seeing any detailed information on the Russian fire control system for the main gun. If there were radically improvements you would expect more crowing and demonstrations to the press for the export market, which I haven’t seen. Since the M1A1 was achieving kills against Soviet armor at the extreme range of its fire control system back during Desert Storm, I’d need a lot of evidence to be convinced the Russians have caught up, and so far I don’t see any.
  • That said, there are a number of interesting features on the T-14:

  • The fully automated turret. It’s no surprise that the Russians went in this direct, since the T-72 already used an autoloader. (There were persistent rumors that the T-72’s autoloader had a nasty tendency to rip off crewmen’s arms, but the consensus out on the web seems to be that this is probably untrue.) With the constant march of progress there’s no reason you couldn’t have a reliable auto-loader, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see future American tanks take this direction.
  • The 125mm smoothbore cannon, which should theoretically outgun the 120mm on the M1A2. (Cue Nigel Tufnel: “Well, it’s 5 bigger, innit?”)
  • The top speed is reportedly higher than the Abrams, somewhere in the 50 MPH range, which seems quite likely, given that the Abrams is the heaviest modern MBT in current service. However, the T-14 engine may have some reliability concerns:

  • Integrated reactive armor: Probably a net plus. Like the TUSK package for the Abrams, I suspected this was developed in response to specific experience with asymmetrical urban warfare (in Russia’s case in Grozny, where the T-80 performed very poorly). While I have my doubts that the T-14 can defeat modern two-phase top attack anti-tank missiles like Javelin, it’s probably more than adequate for defeating the average Joey Jihad RPG. The concern is that while reactive armor certainly increase vehicle survivability, it’s very hard not to let it increase fratricidal lethality to nearby friendly infantry. Then again, Russian military doctrine has always had a callous attitude toward infantry casualties…
  • Maybe the integrated roof launcher array can defeat top attack anti-tank missiles like Javelin and RPGs. Hard to gauge effectiveness without seeing how it performs in actual combat.
  • I like the wide access door at rear, which reminds me of the rear doors Israel designed to the Merkava after the experience of running out of ammo during the Yom Kippur War. (I’m less wild about the high, relatively exposed positions for the gas tanks at the rear of the vehicle, something the bar armor only partially alleviates. But it might be an acceptable tradeoff.)
  • All this assumes that significant numbers of the T-14 actually get built, given that Russia has cancelled at least two separate tank programs (Black Eagle and the T-95) to follow on to the T-72/T-80, and that their economy is really biting the yak in the wake of the oil price collapse and Ukraine sanctions. But the shared Armata platform probably helped reduce development and production costs, and I suspect it will get put into production, as a big new main battle tank seems like exactly the sort of thing Vladimir Putin likes seeing built.

    This is just a quick overview based on limited information. Those with more information and/or deeper subject knowledge are welcome to sound off in the comments.

    Update: Missed this Jane’s update on the T-14’s armor.

    The base armour on the new tank consists of metal-ceramic plates. Novosibirsk-based company NEVZ-Ceramics has already launched serial production of this product, according to Andrey Nikitin, the head of the company’s armoured ceramics bureau. “We finished the trials this year and the elements revealed their declared capability,” he said.

    Nikitin said the new metal/ceramic armour provides one-and-a-half times more resistance than fully metal systems.

    LinkSwarm for October 31, 2014

    Friday, October 31st, 2014

    Happy Halloween!

  • This week’s example of Democratic elected official defrauding a non-profit comes to you from Philadelphia congressman Chaka Fattah.
  • Democratic Representative Alan Grayson, the 17th richest man in congress, has cut off funds to estranged wife, and now both she and her kids are on welfare.
  • Former Obama champion Tina Brown now says he makes women feel unsafe.
  • Secret Service investigator into prostitution scandal resigns after his own prostitution scandal.
  • Marine veteran father banned from school after objecting to his daughters history assignment to “list the benefits of Islam.”
  • The war in Ukraine has cemented Putin’s dictatorship in Russia.
  • On the other hand, the ruble is crashing, despite rate hikes.
  • How’s that Chicago model working out?

  • High and trying to grab a cop’s gun is no way to go through life, son. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Michael Brown no longer walks among the living…
  • Japan may have a low murder rate, but as the follow chart from this piece on “haunted” apartments shows, their suicide rate dwarfs our murder and suicide rate combined.

  • Texas Tech student admits to filing false sexual assault charges. Under California’s new kangaroo courts, the student falsely accused would have already been convicted and expelled by now. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Fund managers are the fish in the game. They can’t leave the table.
  • Interesting piece on GamerGate. “The feminism of male demonization and female victimhood has become an insidious force that, despite its faux-progressive trappings, stands in the way of genuine equality. Whatever its flaws, GamerGate is a politically diverse movement of cultural resistance to this brand of toxic feminism. For that, it deserves at least two cheers.”
  • Dear Ridley Scott: Moses did not wear scale armor.
  • Links to this and previous years’ Fark scary story thread.
  • Now that’s what I call shag carpeting.