Former CIA agent Philip Agee: President Truman invented Soviet/Russian threat to justify militarizing economy

From Space4Peace Blogspot

By Bruce Gagnon
February 16, 2015

…I had the great fortune to meet Agee twice – the first time organizing a speaking event for him in Orlando in the 1990’s that drew folks from across Florida.  The second time I visited his home in Hamburg, Germany in 1995 while on a speaking tour against NASA’s Cassini plutonium launch.

Agee is one of my heroes – he was a man of true conscience who left the CIA after serving for about a dozen years in Latin America.  He was determined to publish a book exposing the wicked work of the CIA and after a difficult four-year period he was able in 1974 to release his book entitled Inside the Company.

From that day on, Agee was marked by the CIA as its enemy.  He was hunted, arrested, threatened, expelled from country after country (often illegally) and sometimes prosecuted.  He tells this riveting story in the 1987 book entitled On the Run.  This is the book Agee gave me when I visited him in 1995 and began rereading last night.

…When I visited Agee in Hamburg he took me on a walking tour of parts of the city…We had fascinating discussions about his life-long efforts to expose the crimes of the CIA. He was a very humble and ordinary guy and I really grew to admire him tremendously.

In his later years Agee moved to Cuba and started a travel business to help people make the trip to that ‘forbidden nation’.  He died there in 2008.

Agee was truly in the mold of Ellsberg, Snowden, Manning and other such remarkable whistle blowers.

In On the Run Agee wrote:

I would try to show how our [CIA] operations help sustain favorable operating conditions for US-based multi-national corporations.  These conditions, together with political hegemony, were our real goals.  So-called liberal democracy and pluralism were only means to those ends.  “Free elections” really meant freedom for us to intervene with secret funds for our candidates.  “Free trade unions” meant freedom for us to establish our unions.  “Freedom of the press” meant freedom for us to pay journalists to publish our material as if it were the journalists’ own.  When an elected government threatened US economic and political interests, it had to go.  Social and economic justice were fine concepts for public relations, but only for that.

http://space4peace.blogspot.com/2015/02/remembering-philip-agee.html

America is regressing into a developing nation for most people

From AlterNet

A new book reveals that the U.S. is becoming two distinct countries, with separate economies, politics and opportunities.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
April 22, 2017

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.” But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.

In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, professor emeritus of economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear: America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations and fates.

Two roads diverged

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology and electronics, the industries that largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies and count themselves lucky to be Americans.

The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.

The two sectors, notes Temin, have entirely distinct financial systems, residential situations and educational opportunities. Quite different things happen when they get sick or when they interact with the law. They move independently of each other. Only one path exists by which the citizens of the low-wage country can enter the affluent one, and that path is fraught with obstacles. Most have no way out.

The richest large economy in the world, says Temin, is coming to have an economic and political structure more like a developing nation. We have entered a phase of regression and one of the easiest ways to see it is in our infrastructure: our roads and bridges look more like those in Thailand or Venezuela than the Netherlands or Japan. But it goes far deeper than that, which is why Temin uses a famous economic model created to understand developing nations to describe how far inequality has progressed in the United States. The model is the work of West Indian economist W. Arthur Lewis, the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in economics. For the first time, this model is applied with systematic precision to the U.S.

The result is profoundly disturbing.

In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration: check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.

In the developing countries Lewis studied, people try to move from the low-wage sector to the affluent sector by transplanting from rural areas to the city to get a job. Occasionally it works; often it doesn’t. Temin says that today in the U.S., the ticket out is education, which is difficult for two reasons: you have to spend money over a long period of time, and the FTE sector is making those expenditures more and more costly by defunding public schools and making policies that increase student debt burdens.

Getting a good education, Temin observes, isn’t just about a college degree. It has to begin in early childhood, and you need parents who can afford to spend time and resources all along the long journey. If you aspire to college and your family can’t make transfers of money to you on the way, well, good luck to you. Even with a diploma, you will likely find that high-paying jobs come from networks of peers and relatives. Social capital, as well as economic capital, is critical, but because of America’s long history of racism and the obstacles it has created for accumulating both kinds of capital, black graduates often can only find jobs in education, social work, and government instead of higher-paying professional jobs like technology or finance— something most white people are not really aware of. Women are also held back by a long history of sexism and the burdens — made increasingly heavy — of making greater contributions to the unpaid care economy and lack of access to crucial healthcare.

How did we get this way?

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Gallup CEO releases report on U.S. economy, tells forum– “We are not in a recovery” (VIDEO)

gallupcover

Gallup Report: No Recovery: An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline
http://www.compete.org/reports/all/3241

Download report: http://www.compete.org/storage/reports/gallup_norecovery_final_report_120516.pdf

From C-SPAN
December 9, 2016
U.S. National Competitiveness Forum, Morning Session — Part 1

https://www.c-span.org/video/?419835-2/2016-national-competitiveness-forum-morning-session-part-1
James “Jim” Clifton Chair and CEO Gallup
Speech: 29:57 – 53:20
Transcript:

— Please welcome the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, Mr. Jim Clifton.

James Clifton: Deborah, congratulations and thank you for having Gallup be a part of this important 30th anniversary. And congratulations on the great contributions you’ve made not only in business and industry and also to our country.

We were asked to make a report to talk a little about productivity and m more specifically about growth. I don’t want to go through the report because you can read it yourself. We have a slide deck with one slide. I’ve never done a slide presentation before but I have one slide and I do refer to it as my deck.

I want to take a little bit of a different angle on it, a leadership angle on what we’ve done. The guy that founded our company was a guy named Dr. George Gallup. He was more of an academic than an entrepreneur, but he usually makes that real good list, not the Time Magazine list with chefs and that kind of stuff, but the one with George Washington and Franklin and that kind of thing. He loved democracy so much. He said, “If democracy is about the will of the people, somebody should go and find out what that will is.” He would always report that to Washington. He said, “If you are wrong,” that’s what he worried about, “If you’re wrong about the will of the people, when you make policies and you lead, and you ‘re wrong about that premise, the more you lead, the worse you make things.” What a wonderful mission. I was thinking about how that applied to right now and about growth. Because let me just ask you: are we in a recovery? Because it’s a debate. Are we in a recovery?

I don’t think I can say this in front of this group but I didn’t actually know what productivity was. I know what GDP is, and I have some opinions about that. I know that 2.5% is a lot better than where we are now — 1.5% or 1.7%. I know we need 2.5% to break even with the amount of costs we have. And when we are at 1.7%, you are slowly going broke.

I also looked into…If you said, “What’s the right amount of GDP to have?” I don’t think this board will like this, but I don’t know what the right number is. Can you go up to 8? Can you have 9%? What do we need?

The biggest moment in the history of human development of the last few thousand years was between 1850 and 1950, in the United States of America, we overwhelmed the world. Now, we are 25% of all the money. Here‘s a good question. What was GDP during that time series? You know what the answer is? 3.75.

Think about how big those differences are. How do we boom? 3.75 over a time series of 10 years. How do you go broke? You have a time series of we have now, about 1.5 or 1.7. You have to be somewhere above 2.5%. I didn’t know that.

The next thing I learned was that GDP is not the best method. If you take the population of economists – both right leaning, left leaning, moderate, whatever it is — they say the best measure is actually GDP per capita. I didn’t know that. I started thinking maybe it would be GDP per worker would be good. You can’t do that, because sometimes you have fewer people in the workforce if too many drop out, you have it inflate….

You have to do GDP for the whole population. People at home, good for them. They use the economy. too. So do babies. So the best number that you can use. And so that’s the number that Gallup and the council and my team of economists chose to use. We went back 50 years.

We determined that was the single best metric to determine if we are in a recovery.

But now, remember, if we’re in a recovery, I looked the word up. I was on a flight back from Frankfort, Deborah. I was thinking about this. They bring all the newspapers. I had the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. i found an article in every single paper on the front page that referred to America’s recovery. That seems like a very important article to me. So, I looked up recovery. It means you have been sick and you are getting better. You’re recovering, so that’s what it means. You wouldn’t think I had to look that up but I did. Going back to Dr. Gallup’s point, if we are in a recovery, that suggests totally different activities than if we are not in a recovery. If we are in a recovery, kind of get your hands off the wheel and tweak it a little bit and keep nudge teeing in the right direction. If we’re in decline, that means that you‘ve got to shake everything up. You need turn-around. That gets back to you better get your premises right. If we are wrong, the more we lead, the more we ruin the country.

So here is my deck, my one slide deck. [Slide is the chart on the report’s front cover] This is 50 years of GDP per capita in the United States. Can you look at that and see a recovery? 

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To understand why Russians love Putin, you should look back to his first term — a businessman’s tale

From Fort Russ

Feb 24th
PREFACE by Tatzhit
I translated three short stories that capture very well what Russians think about Putin. To put them in context, I have included my thoughts on the subject in the small “postscriptum” section below. Read my ramblings, or draw your own conclusions.

The first story is written from a first-person perspective, and describes how Russia was before Putin, what he changed, and what people learned from it. Essentially, it explains why even profit-minded businessmen, suffering from economic problems and unimpressed with Russia’s foreign policy, continue to support the current government because of the hard lessons of the 90s.

The other two pieces are from a satirical author, one written about the time when Putin took power, and the other about him later, as the “Tsar”. These two are quite over the top, but I think there is a big grain of truth in them as well – if not about the real Putin, then about the popular view of him.

===
#1: A Businessman’s Story
I remember Perestroika well. Marlboro cigs for 1.50 appeared at our supermarket, and we smoked them enthusiastically, sitting in the gazebo at the neighboring playground. The taste of them was magical – far, far better than the Soviet “Kosmos” for 0.70. The future as adults was no longer certain, but also seemed magical through the smoke, like in an American movie. It took me many years to realize why we thought that…

And then everybody was suddenly into politics. Intellectuals all started hating on long-dead Stalin, the Communists refused to compromise, popular newspapers constantly published this or that “historic discovery”. When I returned from the army and saw people standing in lines for some crap cigs from Bulgaria, which were rationed to boot, I first found myself feeling [as a character in a bad comedy, and not Hollywood movie]. But even then, I still did not understand.

That happened later – I stepped into adult life, and understood how politics works.

At one point, watching dumb mugs on TV struggle under the weight of arrogance and inability to form coherent sentences became unbearable. How can those “democrats” run the country, if they can’t even organize their own thoughts? By the time Yeltsin’s tanks shelled their Parliament, I already wasn’t interested – politics turned into a murky sideshow which only occasionally had some effect in real life.

Meanwhile, real life went into full “rat race” mode, chasing money above all, with brief breaks to celebrate small “victories”, ridiculous by today’s standards.

Strolling across flea markets, filled with brand-name clothes all of a sudden. Flashing across night-time roads on my first “beamer”. Endless ruins moving past the train windows, [the country’s factories and infrastructure – sold to murky investors for pennies on the dollar, and immediately scrapped for a quick buck] stretching all the way from Moscow to St. Pete.

It would be wrong to say that we weren’t [celebrating freedom]. After all, freedom is when rules and restrictions disappear, right? There was even a children’s book like this – “A holiday of Disobedience”, [about children who were left to do as they please by their parents, and how short-lived their euphoria was]. That’s exactly what happened – after the official dismantling of the state, it slowly disappeared from people’s heads. Nobody was left to establish order, and the rules were set by those who have managed to steal something big, or bribe their way into government positions.
The whole country played Cowboys and Indians. There was no law enforcement – except those men in blue uniforms who existed solely to collect bribes on highways, and pass almost all of their loot higher up the ladder. Everyone lied and stole. Some guys were dodging the draft, some were stealing from their jobs, nobody I knew paid any taxes.

Yes, a lot of it started back when USSR went off track. But in Soviet times, people still obeyed most laws. They went to official jobs, had apartments they legally owned, etc. Yes, even back then some people bought stuff on the black market and could pay a bribe for a driver’s license exam, but those who did that were a tiny minority. Slightly more people nicked stuff from work, but in general they took something insignificant. Most people could honestly think of themselves as good, upstanding citizens. Plus the “real men” of the WWII generation were still around.

And then, in a few years, the whole country and all its inhabitants became lawless and illegitimate. Getting a fake stamp in your Social Security or visa paperwork became a common thing. You could pay off anyone – the judge, the fire department, the EPA. Businesses completely ignored the government and produced fake financial statements with unbelievable numbers, which worked because the tax collectors knew everything, and were overlooking it for a small sum. “Business raiders” – those who made money by illegally taking over and looting businesses – were heroes on TV. Kids in kindergartens didn’t play Cops vs Robbers – just Robbers vs Robbers [1].

And I was an integral part of this lawlessness. I fudged our accounting books and didn’t think anything of it. I paid wages under the table and casually handed out bribes when I needed to register our semi trucks or buy off a tax inspector. I was kicking out contractors that used my shops to sell their own goods. I smuggled in everything, without a second thought – importing legally did not make sense, we would not be able to compete. I even drove around a car that was imported illegally, and simply bought it back for $100 each time it was impounded. I laundered money via fictional companies, and created legal entities using the identities of hobos from the street. Put forged stamps on forged invoices. I moved cash by the trash bag, and even bought an illegal handgun just in case. I was friends with the mafia guys who were protecting my business, and tagged along when they had “matters to discuss” with rivals.

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Ukraine on the brink of a nuclear disaster; Ukrainian saboteurs nearly caused another Fukushima

  1. When Ukrainian terrorists blew up power lines to Crimea last month (to punish Crimeans for seceding from Ukraine), the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant was “one millimeter away from an emergency.” Nuclear reactors require grid electricity to keep reactor cores and fuel rods cool. Without it, they will overheat, explode, and meltdown, just like Fukushima.
  2. Ongoing gas and coal shortages in Ukraine and the resulting electricity blackouts threaten the nuclear power plants in Ukraine every day.
  3. Necessary preventative maintenance, including replacing worn parts at the plants, is not being done or is delayed, creating a dangerous situation.

From Fort Russ

In the coming year the world will observe a sad date, the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion. Could it happen again?

Pavel SHIPILIN,

In Экспресс Газета, December 15, 2015

Translated from Russian by Tom Winter, December 25, 2015

Come January 1, Europe will start draining the last juice from the “Square.” Few gave noted the fact that cutting the power lines to de-energize Crimea nearly led to fatal consequences at the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant, which is located in the Mykolaiv region, – an accident on a Chernobyl scale. A miracle saved us all: workers at the station succeeded in a few hours to restore the electricity to the security system. [Nuclear power plants produce electricity, but they need a constant supply of it to avoid meltdown, as in Fukushima, for instance — tr.]

For nearly two years now Ukraine has been teetering on the brink of default, techno disaster, popular revolt. And every time that there is a miracle, and the dire predictions don’t come true, a cure is declared – a victory over Russia, over the elements with the unpredictable laws of nature, over the skeptics. But in the end – common sense.

Last winter was surprisingly warm. As if the one who is responsible for the top temperature, specifically decided to lull the already careless Ukrainian government. Today it is once again assuring the public: there is enough gas — unless there’s a problem.

And it may be right – if a miracle happens again. Experts also warn that if the miracles do not happen, and the temperature in the apartments can’t be maintained at least at + 14 ° C, a catastrophe is imminent. Pipes will burst; heat and electricity will go off-line. In response, experts are declared fear-mongering pessimists. After all, last year they said the same thing – they warned and frightened, backing up arguments with some tricky formulas incomprehensible to the ordinary Maidanists.

There is only one thing: for the power system go off line for decades, would need only a couple of weeks really severe frosts – lower than -15 – 20 ° C. At least at night.

Such cold weather is rare, but still it happens. This is what experts are always taking into account, because no one of them can confidently forecast, but a technological disaster in the middle of winter – is inevitably a tragedy with deadly outcomes. Therefore, the gas must be redundant and not “just enough.”

The lack of gas and coal can lead to accidents in which the entire metropolitan area will be without heat and light. Unfortunately, the amateurs in Kiev may well make a more global catastrophe whose consequences will impact not only the public, but residents of neighboring countries. We are talking about the atomic energy plant.

There are four of them in Ukraine – a total of 16 units. That is 16 potential nuclear bombs. Experts say that it’s thanks to a miracle that new Chernobyls haven’t yet happened.

Vasili Volga, Ukrainian politician and nuclear-energy specialist: “What happened when these, so to speak, “activists” brought down the power lines? Immediately the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant lost a huge amount of electricity, which the system has to have. According to the accounts of shift managers, the guys were on one millimeter away from an emergency. Only the dedicated work of the station staff prevented it.” A state of emergency was miraculously avoided. But Kiev have provided us all with new problems connected with nuclear power. As Vasily Volga spelled out, the specific operation of nuclear power plants requires precise timing of preventive maintenance. Otherwise, every time there is a risk of accidents on the scale of Chernobyl. “As for the core of the nuclear reactor and all the systems and mechanisms that serve it, we just can’t say,” You know, we do not have money just now, and you work, the way you have, and we’re putting off scheduled preventive maintenance.”

“If it clearly states that the gasket in the main centrifugal pump should be changed after a year, then it should be changed after a year.” All the systems and mechanisms that are around Ukrainian nuclear reactors, are produced either in Ukraine or in Russia. Today, due to the rupture of relations, there have been huge time lapses, when scheduled preventive maintenance at nuclear power plants has not been carried out. They know about this in Kiev, but are silent about the problem, because in order to solve it, you have to call Moscow. Or they do not realize how dangerous it is to finance nuclear power on installments.

The eternal question of our Svidomy opponents is why we are so keenly interested in Ukrainian affairs, instead of dealing with our own problems, has a simple answer: because you’re close. Because your refugees are with us. Because thanks to Maidan our trade and economic relations, which made both our countries stronger, have been disrupted. Not to mention the friendship and kinship between our people. Finally, because your problems are directly linked to our own. After all, Kiev does not pay its debts and yet asks worldwide for offensive weapons. It is understandable that systemic problems come up here and there – Ukraine has no money. However, there is one more miracle in Ukraine – for the second year it has managed to avoid a default. A fact the talking heads and the Kiev politicians proudly remind us of. Moreover, on December 8, the IMF decided that even a default can not be an obstacle to Ukraine getting more credit [!].

That is, the entire civilized world, led by the United States, has defended the winners of Maidan. Pessimists and “Moscalis” again notwithstanding. That’s where the real win lay. Let us, however, remember how many loans have been promised and how many have been issued: The European Union promised in 2015 to provide $1.8 billion., USA – $2 billion. Nearly one billion promised to other countries on a bilateral basis. From the IMF, Ukraine was to receive $10 billion. The World Bank has promised to lend $500 million for injection of gas into underground storage [just like in Los Angeles, where over 2000 residents have been evacuated due to leaking methane gas?], but recently began to doubt that this would happen.

So actually this year, Ukraine has received less than half of the promised amounts, two tranches of 6.7 billion from the IMF. Catastrophically short. All other potential lenders under one pretext or another have not fulfilled promises. No one is sure that Ukraine pays debts.

However, the decision of the International Monetary Fund to continue the lending program says that global players will not desist until that unfortunate country undresses to the skin. Kiev will receive new loans so it can pay the old ones — weights hung around the neck of future Ukrainian generations.

“Square” optimists nailed it: declaring a default is not allowed. They will kill Ukraine. The problem can be solved only if nenka* learn how to produce and sell their products, filling the budget with the taxes of successful entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens. But there are practically no prospects.

From 1 January, 2016 a free trade area (FTA) will be in full force between Ukraine and the European Union. Where previously only Ukrainian duty-free goods were sold, now, the direction of trade changes – European goods crossing the Ukrainian border also will not be surrounded by cushioning duties.

To protect its market Russia will put up a customs barrier starting next year. Therefore, in Kiev, they very much expect compensation in Brussels. And Yatsenyuk’s regime has received signals that there will be compensation. We have heard rumors that the EU will allocate $ 600 million. Not much, but at least something.

However, recently the European Union dropped its promises. “We will say frankly, already since we agreed on an FTA, it was no secret that after the introduction, the Russian Federation could act in response, whether we like it or not. And there was plenty of time to prepare for this,” said the European Commissioner Johannes Khan, cynically.

The year and a half that the FTA has been acting in one direction – from east to west, has demonstrated very feeble opportunities for the Ukrainian economy. The miracle did not happen – trade with the West simply collapsed, and was not able to compensate for the loss of the Russian market.

And it’s not working, of course – it was not for this that the Ukrainians were lured to the Association Agreement, to lose money. Come January 1, Europe will begin to receive attachments back. As is customary in the civilized world, ten times over, sucking the last juices out of the colony.

Now Johannes Hahn can afford to speak plain, without hints. In Ukraine there is no way back – just to the economic abyss a millimeter away. Or maybe it is not. ______________________________

*Ukrainian slang term for Ukraine. I’ve been getting used to it. — Tr.

http://www.fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/12/ukraine-on-brink-of-nuclear-disaster.html

Ukrainian economist: Best solution is to flee Ukraine

From Fort Russ

October 8th, 2015 –
By: Ekatirina, cont.ws –

Translated for Fort Russ by Paul Siebert –

An economist urged Ukrainians to flee from the country: those who stay will envy those who left – they are facing hunger and cold

It is an open secret that Ukraine is facing cold and hunger. All summer Kiev was busy fighting for power, plotting and scheming, continuing military operations in Donbass, completely forgetting that summer is followed by autumn, and then by winter and cold.

One of the Ukrainian economists Kuhar said that it would be difficult times for those who would stay in Ukraine this winter. There is only one half of the necessary gas supplies in gas storage tanks, the country’s economy and its budget are in decline and rapidly deteriorating. The population is not able to pay taxes. Those who stay in Ukraine this winter will envy those who have left.

Ukraine has passed the point of no return, the country is facing cold and hunger in the coming winter, as well as an offensive of the Donbass militia. This was announced on the TV channel “Russia” by the former member of the Party of Regions Oleg Tsarev, who is one of the leaders of the pro-Russian uprising.

“I think that Ukraine is doomed. I think that the point of no return has already been passed … When with “criminal” Yanukovych the GDP growth was 3%, then after him it very quickly dropped to zero, then minus 3%, and now it is minus 6% officially. But realistically, economists believe that it is minus 25% today.

We expect a repetition of the tragedy we experienced during the collapse of the Soviet Union, perhaps, much worse. What lies ahead of Ukraine is hunger, cold and humanitarian disaster”, – said Oleg Tsarev.

Why do people have to flee from home in order to survive and not to freeze, because their country is run by idiots. One wise man once said: “If the army of lions is led by a sheep it is sure to lose to the army of sheep run by a lion”. This is why our country has lost on all counts, because it is run by a herd of sheep.

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/10/ukrainian-economist-best-solution-is-to.html

The complete degeneration of Ukraine’s system

September 29th, 2015

Lug-info – translated for Fort Russ by Paul Siebert

Political analyst Aleksei Blyuminov: “Complete degeneration of the Ukrainian management structure”

* Fort Russ translates for you an eye opening and compelling interview with Blyuminov on the actual and critical situation in Ukraine – highly recommended *

00000

Lug-Info – Aleksei, what is happening in the Ukrainian politics today?

– The country is steadily sinking into a systemic governmental and parliamentary crisis. Formally, the coalition in the parliament has not disintegrated yet, but everyone understands that there are forces that lead the parliament to early re-elections. Poroshenko is resisting in every way he can, eager to formally preserve the coalition. But the party of Lyashko has already abandoned it.  Now the faction of Timoshenko is next in line.

Lug-Info – In your opinion, who benefits from this?

– Oligarch Igor Kolomoisky is behind all this, if we consider domestic beneficiaries who want to grab their piece. Regarding foreign beneficiaries – this is more complicated, because Ukraine is under external control. If the parliament is dissolved, it means that this decision was agreed to in Washington. If Washington does not want early perturbations and it is satisfied with Poroshenko, then the dissolution of the parliament will not take place. It will be maintained half alive for some time: a month, two, three, four – for as long as it is needed.

Lug-Info – Can we assert that the leader of the far-right “Freedom” party Tyagnibok has been “sent packing”?

– It is difficult to say at the moment. We remember that after Mukachevo Poroshenko was shouting angrily threatening to punish those involved, but no one was arrested, everyone escaped in the woods. In the conflict near the Parliament in Kiev on August 31 it is the same story: the Pechersk court in Kiev will decide whether to arrest Shwaika (former Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine, member of the “Freedom” party). In the coming days we will see how serious are the Prosecutor General, the police, etc. in relation to the “Freedom” party.

Lug-Info – In general, how do you assess the political situation in Ukraine?

– The political situation is absolutely unstable. There are no “fodder reserves” that could maintain stability. Roughly speaking, earlier, for example, under Yanukovych, this stability could be maintained by two things: the first – the legitimate state apparatus, and the second – the availability of some money. Now, both are missing. There are a lot of people who can toss grenades at the prosecutor’s office, and there is no money to cajole them.

Going back to the main problem – the regime is under external control, so all flames of instability are to be artificially extinguished. For example, there was a source of instability in the form Kolomoisky – he was removed after the mediation of the US Ambassador. There was a similar source of instability in the form of Nalyvaychenko: he was also removed. Therefore, external overseers are helping Poroshenko to keep the situation under control and consolidate his regime. Obviously, it cannot last forever, but as long as the Americans are interested in some kind of stability, they will not allow the spread of destabilizing tendencies.

Lug-Info – How important is the factor “of people returning from the front?”

– According to the association of owners of firearms (they are lobbying for legalization of the process), Ukraine is the largest supplier of illegal weapons to the EU. There have been some known attempts to smuggle multiple-launch rocket systems “Grad” across the country to Chernovtsi in order to sell them in Romania. We see that in all conflicts in Ukraine, including Mukachevo, heavy weapons are used. In Kiev, grenade explosions are heard and soon, in all probability, howitzers will be available. In spite of this, a more or less “glossy cover” of Ukraine is maintained yet.

Lug-Info – What about the situation in the Ukrainian economy?

– The economy is dead. According to the official data, the GDP has contracted by 12.5%. This demonstrates that the main branches of industry, which produced income: metallurgy, machine-building, chemistry, etc. – are in deep crisis. What more or less is still functioning to some degree is tied to the agricultural sector and exports through the port of Odessa. That is why, by the way, it is such a contested asset. Even lenders admit it.

Standard& Poor’s rating agency predicts that a default is inevitable. Not such a long time ago a technical default was admitted. But at the same time, due to political considerations, the same lenders say that they will continue to lend to Ukraine despite the fact that its economy is dead. Clearly, this is a purely political decision – to keep the bankrupt regime afloat. It cannot go on for a long time, but for some period they will be able to drag on.

Lug-Info – How will it look like?

– Without external credit borrowings Kiev is unable to form the budget for 2016. For this reason, Natalia Yaresko (Finance Minister) urges the Parliament to vote for all the conditions attached by the lenders as a package, blackmailing the deputies that otherwise default is inevitable. These conditions demand more severe cuts in all social programs, forcing the population to tighten their belts even more. Without this even the agreement about forgiving Ukraine 20% of its debt will not come into effect. But this debt write-off is not a victory. This means credit bondage, only delayed in time. Only the payment of the principal will be stretched for four years while the interest will be charged anyway. But this money will have to be returned by other people. Neither Yatsenyuk nor Yaresko will remain in their positions by then. However, it will be impossible to avoid a technical default. The government will have to impose a moratorium on debt payments in September and October. It is also necessary to return three billion dollars to Russia while Moscow made it clear that it is not going to forgive Ukraine’s debt.

Lug-Info – What is happening in the “social sphere”?

– In the social sphere there is a systematic reduction, squeezing, tightening of all social programs starting from the Chernobyl victims, pensioners, benefit recipients, and children of war. For example, in Kiev the categories of people who use public transportation for free have been significantly reduced. Only those people who have the so called “Kievite’s cards” have such a privilege. But this is a very small group. All other persons, including a huge number of migrants living in the capital of Ukraine illegally, do not have these preferential rights.

– And what about the prices?

– The prices are rising. On the one hand, the authorities caused the collapse of imports, on the other hand, exports crumbled as well. As a result, on paper the budget has reached equilibrium that is called deflation. In addition, without any sanctions and blockades, the assortment of goods in shops has been significantly reduced. For example, in the past there used to be 15 types of yogurt or mayonnaise, but now there are only three. What remains is the cheapest goods. There is no sense to sell expensive ones in mass retail stores.

Lug-Info – You mentioned the migrants. What is life like for refugees?

– Refugees from Donbas have no rights. There is a regime of internal segregation. Formally – you’re a citizen of Ukraine, you have a passport. But you need to be registered as a temporary migrant and receive a huge number of certificates. There are many problems when children go to a kindergarten or school. People also face domestic segregation when housing is not rented to people from Donetsk or Lugansk. I talk to many people, and I have a lot of examples. Plus, there are problems with employment records. In fact, people find themselves outside the legal environment. They periodically organize meetings in order to be legalized, to be given accommodation. If you have some financial reserves – you can rent an apartment, but if not …

– How do you assess the situation with the frozen conflict?

– With frozen conflicts there are no prospects to speak of, because the freezing does not provide a solution but postpones it indefinitely. In the hope that something will change under the influence of some external factors. We realize that the war may end only with a victory of one of the sides, it cannot end with a compromise. It is not possible. Compromise is a truce; it is not the end of the war. The simplest example: Some elements in Ukraine are enraged over the buying of coal from the enemy territory, from Donbas. In fact, these supplies should be legalized. Without this coal power plants will be stopped. The supplies of coal at the Ukrainian thermal power stations are left for only two weeks. That is, energetic collapse can occur at any moment. And the situation is becoming more precarious.

– Can you make any forecasts?

– Actually, it is difficult to make predictions. I personally see only one option – the end of the war. There are two examples of ending wars: the Vietnamese one, when a society is tired of the war and urges authorities to make peace and end the hostilities. And the second one is a military defeat of the enemy. Regardless of the scenario of solving the conflict, it will have different beneficiaries. It should be understood that the current regime in Kiev will never allow federalization of Ukraine. And there is no leverage to force it into it – Minsk agreements are brazenly flaunted by the Kiev regime.

– It seems that everything depends on the resources, including those resources received from the outside?

– From the perspective of an ordinary person who cannot rely on anything, yes. In Ukraine, the situation is worse than in Donbas. Donbas receives convoys with humanitarian aid, volunteers are collecting money. No one will deliver humanitarian aid to an ordinary poor Ukrainian. He has been left alone; there is nothing he can count upon.  He is lucky if he has relatives who can feed him or make money transfers. We also understand that in Donbas, for obvious reasons, in many cases utilities are not paid for, but no one has been evicted.

Lug-Info – Let’s go back to the refugees. Will they come back?

Those ones who are not able to settle somewhere, will look for possibilities to return. People, who are able to integrate in the Ukraine with some success, are unlikely to return. In general, the situation in the country is depressing. We are witnessing a complete degradation of the Ukrainian management structure.

In Ukraine, the Emergency Situations Ministry has been broken up. We have seen three waves of lustration. Thousands of people have been fired. They have been replaced by people from the street. And the results are obvious for anyone: peat bogs are burning, they cannot extinguish them. The system has been destroyed: lack of people, lack of professional skills, and lack of equipment. In normal times any environmental disaster would be overcome within two – three days. Now fires are raging in the Chernobyl forest. It is impossible to breathe with smoke billowing in the streets.

Another example. The police is being disbanded. Seasoned veterans are gone. They are replaced with 22-24 year old boys, with no experience at all, but with huge ambitions. At the same time we see an explosion of street crime: robberies, stabbings, hooliganism. Nobody is dealing with street crime. In front of a camera traffic violation fines are ostentatiously written to a high-ranking bishop or some politician. But this is a facade, and behind the facade …. Some foreigner comes to Ukraine, makes some photographs and goes back to write a book about the success of Ukraine’s reforms. He will not delve into crime statistics. He will make a selfie with a policeman dressed in the second hand American uniform – second hand from Texas Rangers, with American chevrons replaced by Ukrainian – that is all. The usual Saakashvili-style. Total window-dressing in everything …

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/09/ukraine-complete-degeneration-of-system.html