28 November 2015

The downing of the Russian Sukhoi-24: what Russians say

Somebody at the Lenta.ru site decided to prepare a collection of all their articles related to the shootdown of the Russian plane. After browsing through the list of headlines, I have realized that they tell a story by themselves, without clicking through to the articles.

I have selected a few of the headlines, sorted by publication date and time, in hope that the reader will be able to complete the gaps and to see the picture, while keeping in mind that:

  • The headlines reflect what the Russians say and not necessarily what they think.
  • The times on the articles are these of publication and not always reflect the real time of an event or response.
  • Remarks added only where it's necessary (in my opinion)
November 24, 2015

11:49 [Russian]MoD announced the crash of a Russian jet in Syria.
         (The first "official" version - downed by ground fire of unexplained origins)
14:46 Nato calls for an urgent meeting in relation to the downing of the plane
15:22 Media reports that the head of Russian diplomatic mission is summoned to the Turkish FM
15:53 Putin calls the shootdown "a stab in the back"
15:57 Putin promises serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relationships
16:29 Turkish military attache summoned to Russian MoD
16:49 Putin says that the SU-24 was targeting militants of Russian extraction
17:18 Russian MoD tells about the circumstances of the shootdown
         (The Turkey's role in the downing of the jet surfaces after Putin's remarks)
17:25 Erdogan calls an urgent meeting of Turkish security council 
17:27: Davutoglu states the Turkish rights when is borders are crossed
17:57 Lavrov [Russian FM] cancels his visit to Istanbul after the incident
19:36 Turkish authorities report on their work aimed to free the captured pilots
19:58 Ankara will try to minimize the damage to its relationships with Moscow after the demise of SU-24
20:03 Syrian militants declare that they destroyed a Russian helicopter
20:55 Obama pointed out to Moscow the problems related to military actions near Turkish borders
21:08 Russian MoD promised protection to their bombers in Syria by fighter jets
21:09 General Staff announced the deaths of a pilot and a Marine
21:41 Russia will stop its military cooperation with Turkey
22:05 Ankara says it didn't have information of the Sukhoi belonging to Russia
22:20 Russian tourism authority forbids marketing of Turkish tourist packages

November 25, 2015

00:01 Media learns that Turkey doesn't have proof that Russian planes violated its airspace
04:46 Media learns that one of the pilots was rescued
09:55 Medvedev accuses Turkey of helping Daesh
10:07 Russian food authority forbids import of Turkish poultry
11:43 Anti-aircraft system S-400 will be deployed at Khmeimim airbase
12:02 Russian helicopter was destroyed by American missile that came from Turkey
13:43 Kremlin doubts the possibility of fighting terrorism with Turkey
14:22 Turkey expressed its condolences re downing of Sukhoi
15:02 Turkish embassy in Moscow attacked
15:55 Moscow says no intention to go to war with Turkey
21:05 German military says the Russian planes were attacked over Syrian territory
21:19 Washington calls Moscow to start a dialog with Ankara
23:00 Turkish General Staff publishes recording of calls to the Russian planes
23:15 Holland calls for help to prevent the damage to Russian-Turkish relationships

November 26, 2015

00:01 Turkish General Staff declares readiness to exchange information on the incident
03:38 Media learns of plans to increase the [Russian] air force group in Syria
05:37 NATO Secretary General calls for a review of safety rules in Europe
14:17 Media tells about deployment of S-400 system
(Notice the time between the decision and the start of deployment. Hmm...)
14:23 Putin regrets the lack of apology from Turkey
15:14 Medvedev describes the food embargo on Turkey
16:04 Erdogan promises to continue downing planes the will invade Turkish airspace in the future
16:24 Russian declare that the [gas pipeline] Turkish Stream project is being frozen
17:18 Erdogan announces he is not willing to apologize for the incident
19:22 The S-400 system [in Syria} is declared operational
(This is surely an all time record of Russian military efficiency)
20:09 Erdogan tells about his failure to talk to Putin about the downing of Sukhoi-24
21:07 Erdogan offers Putin a meeting

November 27, 2015

00:47 [Russian] Foreign Ministry denies that Erdogan tried to call Putin
02:44 Davutoglu states the Turkish intention to reduce the tension in their relationships with Russian
08:41 Erdogan stated the consequences of [possible] use of S-400 against Turkish planes
10:23 Turkish air force will avoid flying over Syrian territory
12:41 Kremlin tells about the failed attempts of Erdogan to call Putin
16:01 Kremlin explains the unwillingness of Putin to talk to Erdogan
17:00 Commander of [Russian] air force calls the attack on Sukhoi-24 and act prepared in advance
19:34 The commander of Russian Air and Space Force declared the location of Turkish F-16 at the time of the attack on Sukhoi-24

November 28, 2015

13:09 Iraqi politician tells about Daesh oil smuggling into Turkey
13:32 Turkish foreign ministry recommends that Turkish citizens avoid unnecessary travel to Russia
15:07 Kremlin calls a possibility of Bosphorus strait's closure "apocalyptic scenario"

And a stray (but still related) news item, purely for comic effect:

Participants of a demo in Athens burn Turkish and USA flags.

27 November 2015

Hey, don't touch out brats! For your weekend pleasure.

Our kids are really the best and the dearest we have, this is a commonplace, besides being true (unless, of course, grandkids come into the picture, but that's another story altogether).

So, instead of carping about many faults and fouls our kids inherited and improved upon, let's just relax and smile a bit upon their shenanigans, why don't we.

University of Missouri law students, who evidently cut class the day the First Amendment was taught, wrote a social-media policy that included this: “Do not comment despairingly [disparagingly?] on others.”
Wesleyan created a “safe space,” aka a house, for LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM students (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf—, Polyamorous, Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism).
Another Washington State teacher, in her syllabus for “Women & Popular Culture,” warned that students risk “failure for the semester” if they use “derogatory/oppressive language” such as “referring to women/men as females or males.”
There is much more where the above came from, so take your time to savor and to enjoy.

Terrorism can't be Muslim. How about denial? Nah, just a river somewhere...

This is an amazing, must see show. Can't tell more. Enjoy.

And more:

French Muslims Claim Paris Attack Was a Conspiracy By "Magical Shape-Shifting Jews"

26 November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all our American friends.

(Still cannot find one funnier than that and no time for a good search).

25 November 2015

US State Department: is it a shelter for terminal idiots?

Disclaimer: the author of this post doesn't harbor any warm thoughts about the main protagonists of the current conflict. Neither Turkey, descending into the hell of Islamism and grinding Kurds under its military boot, nor Russia, carpet bombing areas where the enemies of the bloody Assad's regime are supposed to hide, should expect any sympathy from anyone.

This post is about the amazingly low IQ requirements the US administration has for its State Dept employees. Of course, a fish rots from the head down, as the current chief of this august institution conclusively proved.

But it seems that at this stage we can safely conclude that the rot has spread over the whole fish. And it doesn't need an FDA quality control expert to conclude that the fish stinks and should be disposed of in a safe manner.

The story starts with an (initially strange to me) headline on a Russian news site:

Russian Foreign Ministry advised to remember forever the State Department announcement re SU-24
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has commented on her Facebook page on the statement of her colleague from the US State Department, made regarding the incident with the Russian Su-24.

"Remember these words. Remember forever. And I will never forget. I promise you, "- she wrote.
The article helpfully provided a link to the State Dept transcript of the daily press briefing by one Mark C. Toner.
QUESTION: Turkoman forces in Syria said they killed the two Russian pilots as they descended in parachutes.


QUESTION: Turkoman forces are supported by Turkey and are fighting against the Syrian Government, they are part of the rebel force there. Do you consider these rebels to be a moderate force in Syria?

MR TONER: So a couple of thoughts, one – or a couple points: One is we’ve seen conflicting views, as I think Said just mentioned. We’ve also seen that one pilot may not have been killed. If these were – if these Turkoman were actually the – being attacked by these Russian strikes, they have every right to defend themselves.
(Emphasis on the last sentence mine).

Now you understand the outrage of the Russian spokesperson, I am certain. Now you also understand how I feel, without any sympathy to one of the warring sides in this specific situation.

You can also easily understand how we here, in our troubled neck of the woods, feel about this outfit, that sees itself entitled to sit in judgement (moral judgment included) over everything we say and everything we do, while being populated by the morons like the two mentioned in this post).

So there.

President Obama and the intelligence reports: go figure

I mean for you, my dear reader(s) to figure it out, because I surely can't. On one hand, POTUS wants to get to the bottom of the discrepancies between the rosy reports he apparently got from the military on Al Qaeda, Daesh etc.

President Barack Obama said Sunday he has told top military officials that he wants them to “get to the bottom” of whether intelligence assessments about Islamic State have been skewed or distorted before reaching the White House.
One of the concerns raised by some lawmakers is that if the Pentagon was providing overly rosy assessments of the efforts to combat Islamic State militants, it might have prevented the White House from taking more-aggressive actions to defeat the terror network. Mr. Obama said, though, that the news he has gotten about Islamic State from intelligence agencies hasn’t been a “wonderfully rosy, glowing” portrait.
On the other hand, some people say:
Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson claimed that she has sources who say President Barack Obama has “closed his mind” to some intelligence reports with which he disagrees.

Wednesday on NewsmaxTV’s “Steve Malzberg Show,” Attkisson asserted that Obama “does not necessarily listen to the people with whom they disagrees. He seems to dig in. … He is facing formidable opposition on this particular point.”
Why have I got a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach reading these two news items?

Maybe because it looks to me that President Barack Obama is looking for... what would be the right word in this case? Oh yes, a scapegoat?

But I leave it for you to figure out.

And thanks in advance.

24 November 2015

How did you sleep this night, Mr Erdogan?

Yeah, Vladimir Vladimirovich is royally pissed off. And quite obviously:
'Russian President Vladimir Putin has bitterly condemned the downing of a Russian jet on the Turkey-Syria border. 
He described it as a "stab in the back" committed by "accomplices of terrorists".'
Notice that the first official Russian version was that the plane was shot down by the ground fire from Syrian territory. This quote changes it all. Not "terrorists" anymore but their "accomplices". The finger is pointed at Turkey now - directly and unequivocally.

Since the Syrian strife started, the Moscow-Ankara relationships were strained. The downing of the Russian jet was the last straw. And no, Putin will not do anything drastic immediately, it is not the good ole KGB colonel's style. He will bide for the right moment.

And the wannabe caliph could take it to the bank...

The Israeli Museum: Night over Germany.

About 50 pictures of the German avant-garde artists from the period between WW I and WW II presented. As one who usually does his best to forego the blight of the audio guide, I was bending over almost 50 times to read the short blurbs telling about the artists and the fate of their works. During the Nazi time a lot of their masterpieces ended up in the specially created exposition of "Degenerate art". And a lot was destroyed, being considered decadent and degenerate.

Besides getting a creaking back, I realized that the fate of these artists or, rather, of their work (most have emigrated - but not all), is eerily similar to that of many Russian painters, writers, composers etc, whose work was banned, destroyed or forbidden. Although the Nazis murdered less of their artists, I have to add.

And, by the way, the "politically correct" artwork as approved by the Nazi regime was no less eerily similar to that approved by Stalin's art connoisseurs. As close as twins.

And - a result of simple arithmetic - the German artists were somewhat luckier than their Soviet counterparts. At least, their travail lasted only about 12 years (well, a bit more, given the aftermath of the war). At the time when Soviet oppression of the arts continued for 70 years, give or take. Still somewhat not totally over, if you ask me.

Horst Strempel's "Nacht über Deutschland" (Night over Germany)
This painting gave its name to the exposition.

The photograph of the painting was "borrowed" from the blog post of Ein Berliner, Briefly.

23 November 2015

Be still, my heart!

No comments.

22 November 2015

Hummus, Islamophobia and a politically correct way to eat a taco

From time to time the goddess of Political Correctness throws a juicy morsel in my direction. This one is even more than a morsel - this is a whole enchilada dish. Well, perhaps missing a few beans, but let's not complain.

As you know, the PC folks have become tough on the issue of cultural appropriation (shame on you if you are unfamiliar with the term, but go to the link in this case). Apparently cultural appropriation these days spread its wings over the PC ways to munch your food. No, I don't mean drooling or eating with your mouth open - rather saying some rudely un-PC words while consuming whatever you happen to be consuming.

This fascinating article (I would even call it "field guidance" in deference to you know who), written by a feminist, author and (obviously) a politically correct food connoisseur Rachel Kuo is certain to set your brain cells right in the ways of consuming your food without blurting out some horrible, P-Incorrect and hurtful to minorities words. Especially if you are one of the "dominant culture" privileged species used to oppress brown, black and otherwise colored people. PC Deity forbid if you dare use the word "authentic" - which is worse than anathema to Ms Kuo and points to your trait of... I shudder at the mere thought... your cultural appropriation. Here comes a (small) part of the PC food consumption theory:
When food gets disconnected from the communities and places its from, people can easily start forgetting and ignoring historical and ongoing oppression faced by those communities.

America has corporatized “Middle Eastern food” like hummus and falafel, and some people might live by halal food carts, but not understand or address the ongoing Islamophobia in the US.

Folks might love Mexican food, but not care about different issues such as labor equity and immigration policy that impact members from that community.
I hope you are beginning to see the ray of light now. Let's try to practice together, in terms that might be simpler to you.
  • When you eat hummus and falafel - keep your mouth shut and think about Islamophobia. You can write on your napkin the word "Islamophobia", but do it correctly, not "IslamAphobia" and not "IslamoFobia", you hear?
  • When stuffing yourself with tacos, think about all these downtrodden Mexican laborers crossing the border between you know what and you know where, risking their lives and freedom. 
  • When you are sinking your teeth into a schnitzel and don't know what the heck you should be thinking to be PC, at least try to remember Wilhelm Tell. Or the rat-catcher of Hamelin, fer PC sake!
  • When shtupping your face with gefilte fish, spare a thought to the Palestinian children whose Zionist oppressors deny them same opportunity. 
  • And chew with your mouth closed, for crying out loud!
Etc. I hope that by now you got the drift. If not, it is a re-education school for you, with proper field guidance and work in the rice fields - to get some sense of agricultural solidarity in you when you scarf risotto in an Italian restaurant next time.

All in all, I strongly advise that you read the whole article and imbue yourself with the right approach to taking your food - or else.

I have only one remark to make and one question to ask. First the remark. Apparently, Ms Kuo, while clearly being in the front of the PC culinary revolution, herself is still not 100% imbued with... well, with all that a really 100% PC feminist thinker must be fully imbued with. The proof, from that same article:
Often, when we talk about “ethnic” food, we’re not referring to French, German, or Italian cuisine, and definitely not those Ikea Swedish meatballs.
This was shockingly unexpected. Why would a fully PC thinker lay into a food item produced by a minority nation? Why is that Swedish meatballs, a beloved dish of so few, is being derided? And what does Ms Kuo, in her heart of hearts, really think about lutefisk? I shudder at the thought of a possible breach of all PC canons.

And a question, regarding this sentence:
In seeking “authentic” food, we’re hoping for a truly immersive experience into another culture.
To be totally truthful, when I am seeking food, “authentic” (PC deity forbid) or not, I am more concerned with my chances to let that food to immerse itself inside me. To borrow the term, I want to wrap myself around that food, no matter the culture. Only if I am out of my mind with hunger, may I allow part of the food to immerse me - like in that picture above. So please explain that apparent contradiction, Ms Kuo.

And bon appetit!

In related news: I Sometimes Don't Want to Be White Either
There was a time in my 20s when everything I learned about the history of racism made me hate myself, my Whiteness, my ancestors... and my descendants. I remember deciding that I couldn't have biological children because I didn't want to propagate my privilege biologically.

Hat Tip: Greg.

20 November 2015

Why our fight is not their fight: ruminations of a pessimist

This post is an attempt to answer the question that is so frequently raised by many Israelis and friends of Israel. Its typical form could be presented by this cartoon:

There is no single answer to this question, but let's first take a look at the immediate aftermath of the Paris massacre. Heads of states, various organizations and even the outspoken supporters of their own versions of Islamist terrorism (such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad) denounced the barbaric bloodshed. Our own Bibi joined the chorus with his typical response:
He said: “I have been arguing for years that Islamic terror is attacking Israel and other countries because it simply wants to destroy us.”

Netanyahu also argued that an “attack on any of us needs to be seen as an attack on all of us.”
Notice, please, that I am not saying that Bibi is wrong in what he is saying, not at all. It is just that this attempt to appeal to the world's conscience fell on deaf ears (again, I should add, and again). It is only one of the uncounted times that Bibi's attempt to hitch our wagon to that of the enlightened world in its fight against the Islamist terror didn't resonate at all.

Of course, Bibi wasn't alone in this attempt. Many good people shouted at the world: here we are, we live this in our daily lives, the terror is here 24/7 - why don't you listen, we can tell you a lot about it. But hardly anyone listens. Which causes some of us to become indignant. Sometimes our indignation has a comically provincial aspect:
French media is reporting extensively about events held worldwide in identification with the country's grief following Saturday's terrorist massacre in Paris. However, solidarity events in Israel have not been reported on...
The person who has written these lines should really relax. Not everything is about Israel.
Screaming and shouting that it happens to us too doesn’t change that. Neither does giving the world a big mother of an “I told you so” or “Welcome to our life.”

Give those killed on Friday night the respect that they deserve – as victims of terror. And then find a way for the world to see all victims of terror on equal terms.
Find a way, says the author of this, otherwise fine, article. Much easier said than done.

The world, which is supposed "to see all victims of terror on equal terms", has an interesting way to respond to massacres - at least as far as Israel and Jews are concerned. Even after the Paris bloodbath, where the perpetrators announced themselves and their goals quite clearly, the conspiracy theorists and the leftists presented a united front. At least as far as their pointing to the culprit behind the massacre. It took only a few hours for the deliciously demented Veterans Today (no link will be provided) to declare another "false flag" operation by Mossad. It took a bit more for the grievously demented British Greens spokesman to finger a Rotschild in the stew.

The chorus of European leftist political dignitaries, echoing the above sentiments, albeit in a more politically correct way, wasn't far behind. Started by a Swedish thinker, seconded by a Dutch pol, amplified by a British one, the Irish - the list probably goes on, but my disgust level prevented me from further digging.

So the more uniform response of the Muslim part of the world with its insidious claim that Daesh (ISIS) is a creation of Mossad/CIA/... shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. After all, the following shows quite well the essence of the world's skewed perception:

Indeed, in the reality where hundreds (sometimes thousands) of Muslims are murdered by their fellow Muslims daily, where wars rage all over the Arab countries, it is clear that one single priority item must be stated and put on the table. With the tacit support from the enlightened Western world, whose understanding we are so touchingly seeking.

Of course, there are some Jews that are ready to turn this issue on its head, such as the inimitable Gideon Levy, saying in a casual display of racism (neither he nor his editor spotted):
Even the kidnapped Nigerian girls interest it [the world] more.
Or an American/Israeli youngster, drilling to what he perceives as a core issue:
And yet, as J.J. Goldberg has pointed out in the Forward, the Israeli military intelligence community believes that the recent uptick in violence is a result of tension over the Temple Mount, Israel’s failure to adequately resolve the case of the murder of the Dawabshe family in the West Bank, and a general feeling of economic and political frustration, especially among Palestinian youth. A sense of hopelessness.
Apparently this youngster doesn't knows a lot about the almost 90 years of the Al Aqsa libel and its bloody history. Not at all, but he is ready to repeat the "accepted wisdom". When even the not especially friendly to Israel BBC summarizes the recent wave of terrorism quite succinctly:
The surge in violence began in September when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex. Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.
But let's go back to Bibi and his unsubtle call for the world's understanding and unity in the face of terror. There are several good reasons why this call falls on deaf ears.
  • The Western world is rudderless and almost paralyzed, facing the Islamists' onslaught. The Western world hasn't a unified and coherent strategy for dealing with this blight, let alone time for sympathy to the rest of the planet with its uncounted trouble points, where the terror is doing its deathly business.
  • The world is tired of Israel and its problems. As it was said, quite well: "The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide." Not many care about history, the rights of a victor, the reasons for that occupation - the world just doesn't want to see or hear the news about another flare-up in this troubled corner.
  • Our Hasbarah proved to be a dismal failure. Granted, it fights against insurmountable odds - the sheer quantity of Arab and other Muslim supporters of the other side, unconstrained by any requirements of truthfulness or legality and enjoying the infusion of petrodollars. However, the ways the Hasbarah is managed and the style it uses (see under "Bibi") sucks in a major way.
  • The rabidly anti-Israeli left, hand in hand with openly antisemitic far right doing their "good work" wherever possible, using any opportunity to bash Israel for its real and invented ills.
  • The antisemitism, of course. I don't like to use this as an all-around explanation for the anti-Israeli sentiments, and it definitely isn't one. But to exclude it from the list will be a mistake. Our troubles are certainly a cause for some people's delight.
It is time to understand that nothing we can say will make the world sit up and listen. Not the clumsy entreaties, nor all too frequent mentions of Holocaust, nor the obvious but useless parallels, nor incessant and thus useless complaints about antisemitism.

We should cherish our friends, fight our enemies, be true to both and not expect miracles.

18 November 2015

John Kerry - he really is a moron, after all

Usually I try to avoid cursing heads of states and other dignitaries... oh well, what the heck happened to me today? I don't really try, especially not in a jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, hair-raising case of an inanity like this one.

"In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test," Kerry said, according to a State Department transcript. "There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that."
Emphasis as in the original.

This is the person that defines your foreign policy, America.

17 November 2015

Kogalymavia flight from Sharm El Sheikh disaster: the investigation is over, the response coming

The end of the investigation part was clear and unequivocal:

An IED (Improvised Explosive Device) with capacity of up to one kilogram of TNT exploded on board the A321 in flight ," said the head of service [FSB]. According to Bortnikov, traces of explosives of foreign manufacture were found in the wreckage of the ship.
The single action item demanded by Putin was no less unequivocal:
President's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Putin, after hearing the report of the head of the FSB Alexander Bortnikov on the terrorist attack on board a Russian A321, ordered the Russian special services to find those responsible for the crash of the plane and eliminate 'all these people.'
Since FSB and its predecessors are not known for their overindulgence in finesse, a lot of scalps, including these of totally unrelated folks, will be brought home.

Update: Egypt, however, doesn't concur with the bomb version.
As the country's prime minister, Arif Ismail said, Cairo will take into account the input from the Russian experts during their investigation of the causes of the crash, and if confirmed, will cooperate with Moscow in apprehending criminals. However, at this point, stressed Ismail, Egyptian investigators did not find evidence of crime in the crash. Moreover, Egypt's Interior Minister Abdel Ghaffar said that the investigation did not reveal security breaches at the airport.
Of course, Egypt and Russia have incompatible preferences for the outcome of the investigation. Egypt is facing a disaster for its tourist industry if the bomb version is confirmed. Russia, all in all, prefers the bomb version that allows its leader(s) to ride the favorite Russian image of the external enemy (Daesh in this case).

The true definition of "Islamophobia" - attribution issue resolved

Islamophobia - a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons.
This pithy and sufficient definition of the term was ascribed to the great and late Christopher Hitchens.

Apparently the attribution is wrong - not that it matters much, compared to the overall quality of the job.

Religion and the state of your bowels. Or is it religious state of your bowels?

Doesn't matter, everything will be illuminated shortly, but not before you read, enjoy and distribute as widely as possible this delightful essay by one and only Akaky Akakievich.