Voices from Russia

Thursday, 5 September 2013

US Senators Backing Syria Strike Got More Cash from Defence Contractors Than Sceptics Did

00 Dirty Money Breeds Dirty Politics. 09.12


On Thursday, the American technology magazine Wired reported that key US Senators backing military action against Syria received, on average, 83 percent more campaign cash from the US defence industry than those who voted against the strike. Wired reported that the 10 members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted Wednesday to authorise a punitive strike against Syrian government targets over an apparent chemical weapons attack received an average of 72,850 USD (2.42 million Roubles. 75,800 CAD. 79,200 AUD. 55,300 Euros. 46,600 UK Pounds) from defence contractors over a five-year span compared to an average of 39,770 USD (1.32 million Roubles. 41,400 CAD. 43,300 AUD. 30,200 Euros. 25,400 UK Pounds) received by the seven members who voted no. The figures in the report came from data collected in 2007-12 by the Center for Responsive Politics, a respected Washington-based campaign finance watchdog group, and analysed by Maplight, a California-based group tracking money in politics.

Critics have long accused the US defence industry of using its deep pockets to influence lawmakers in Washington and benefiting from American military operations abroad. The funds cited in the analysis, commissioned by Wired, came from political action committees and employees of defence and intelligence firms, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin. In total, the 17 members of the Senate committee received just over 1 million USD during the five-year period. The 10-7 vote by the Senate committee means that the measure now goes to the full Senate for debate and a vote. The House Foreign Affairs Committee began debate on a similar resolution; the measure’s expected to have a tougher time winning backing there then it did with the Senate committee.

The bills under discussion would permit US President Barack Obama to order a limited US military strike against Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August; the Obama administration says it believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried it out. The operation approved by the Senate committee wouldn’t exceed 90 days and would involve no American troops on the ground for combat operations. The full Senate must approve it when it reconvenes next week and by the 435-member House of Representatives as well before it can go to Obama for his signature. According to the report, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee member who received the most defence cash during the five-year span is Senator John McCain, a hawkish Republican from Arizona and fierce Kremlin critic, who garnered 176,000 USD (5.86 million Roubles. 183,000 CAD. 191,400 AUD. 133,500 Euros. 112,500 UK Pounds) in defence industry financing.

5 September 2013



Editor’s Note:

John McCain also got funding from the Georgian government or its agents (so did his “foreign policy advisor” Randall Scheunemann)… one can see where his anti-Russian orientation comes from. I’d remind Orthodox people that Mr McCain told Russophobic whoppers at the time of the South Ossetia War… and that his clueless running mate Sarah Palin echoed him (Orthodox people should take note that John Whiteford still supports Ms Palin… an indication of his abysmal ignorance and lack of support for the Orthodox homelands). It’s no surprise that Mr McCain’s firmly in the pocket of the defence industry… it proves that the biggest and highest-paid prostitutes are on Capitol Hill, not at the Cottontail Ranch… ‘nuff said!



A Distant War Echoes in Local Church: Worries Arise Over Possible Consequences of American Attack on Syria


St George Antiochian Orthodox Church, founded by Syrian immigrants on South Dove Street in 1933, is a microcosm encompassing the nation’s debate over a possible American military strike against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds of civilians outside Damascus last month. Wahid Albert, 52, of Schenectady NY, said, “It’s not our war, and I don’t think we should be in it at all”. He left Syria in 1980, earned a civil engineering degree at the University of Buffalo, and joined St George parish when he settled here in 1984.

The fighting puts Syria’s Christian minority in a vulnerable position, stoking fears among family members who belong to St George. Albert said, “I worry that there’ll be a slaughter of Christians in Damascus by al-Qaeda-led rebels if the USA sends a strike”. His mother and sister live together in a Christian neighbourhood in the Syrian capital, where he said they’re afraid to go outside because of the fighting. Two weeks ago, a rebel-fired mortar round struck 100 yards from their house, killing four people and injuring more than 30. Members of his wife’s family also live in that area, and mortar attacks are common. Albert urged them to flee to the safety of a second home in the mountains.

Since a popular uprising began in March 2011 that was part of the so-called Arab Spring, the conflict between Syrian rebels and the Assad government has been deadlocked. US President Barack Obama is trying to marshal support in Congress and internationally for a strike against the Assad régime for its alleged use of chemical weapons. Fr Gregory DesMarais, the pastor of St George, which has about 140 members, said, “We’re deeply worried about the situation in Syria and the ripple effect an American strike would have throughout the region. Americans are largely ignorant of what’s going on there”. A parishioner who’s on vacation on the border of Syria and Lebanon wrote on the church’s Facebook page recently, “I can hear the bombs at night”. Christians are about 10 percent… compared with about 90 percent Muslims… of Syria’s population of 25 million. However, historically, the Assad régime was tolerant and protective of the Christian minority. In turn, Christians supported the government even in the face of evidence that the régime fired rockets loaded with the nerve agent Sarin/GB to kill his own citizens {here, the reporter repeats stale American black propaganda lies… caveat lector: editor}.

Albert and his family members in Damascus don’t find the chemical weapons evidence credible. He said, “We believe the attack was staged. Assad could’ve lobbed a Scud missile and killed a lot more people than with a chemical weapon. It doesn’t pass the stink test”. Parishioner Fayez Abed of Troy NY has been distraught since he learned that family members witnessed a gruesome killing by rebels at a recent Christian wedding. He says that eyewitnesses told him that rebels raided the ceremony and that they slit the throats of the bride and groom inside the church. Fr Gregory said, “Fayez is outraged and very emotional about it”. On Friday, Fr Gregory will open the church for a daylong programme of prayer and reflection on the crisis in Syria. There will be morning matins, afternoon hours of prayer, and vespers in the evening. The parish will offer a day of prayer and fasting on 14 September for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Sectarian violence isn’t new in Syria. The St George parish founders fled oppression in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. In Albany, they worked as labourers and settled in the ethnic melting pot of the South End. A dozen or so families first met for worship in each other’s homes just off Second Avenue starting in the 1920s. The men pooled money won at weekly card games and built a little red brick church in 1956 near Bishop Maginn High School. The women got together on Friday nights to prepare communal feasts of baba ghanouj, hummus, tabbouleh, kibbe, lamb kebabs, and other Middle Eastern dishes. For most of its 80-year history, the clergy served liturgy in Arabic, and golden icons of saints decorated the church’s interior.

In recent decades, the congregation diversified to include Lebanese, Ethiopians, Egyptians, and Palestinians. The tangle of regional conflicts in their homelands and the strong pull of nationalism threatened to tear apart the congregation, but the centre held. National flags that once flew in the parish hall during coffee hour after the Sunday liturgy are gone, along with the rancour and clannish hostility the displays fuelled. Fr Gregory said, “It took a long time for this parish to get past that nationalistic behaviour, but we’re a good example of dealing with our differences and coming together as one to worship”. Sunday services are now conducted in English, although parishioners are invited to repeat the Our Father in Arabic or Amharic, a language of Ethiopia. Fr Gregory observed, “It’s a tip of the hat to our ethnic makeup”.

As Albert expressed fear for his family’s safety in Damascus, he recalled a happy childhood spent in the cradle of Christianity where his late father, who lived in the USA and served as an Army Reservist in World War II, had returned because his wife was homesick, saying, “I went to a high school on the road to Damascus where St Paul was converted to Christianity”. Albert’s daughter, one of his three children, all in their 20s, called off plans to live in Syria. He said, “They can’t understand what happened to the beautiful country where we used to spend summers when they were young. They want to know where that Syria went”.

4 September 2013

Paul Grondahl

Albany Times Union


Editor’s Note:

Where did that Syria go? You can find the answer “inside the Beltway”, on Capitol Hill, in Langley’s marbled halls, and in the boardrooms of rapacious American corporations. The evil in America has to cease… we’ve been a rogue nation long enough.


Pavel Datsyuk, Asked about Russia’s Anti-Gay Law: ”I’m Orthodox, and That Says It All”

00 Pavel Datsyuk. Detroit Red Wings. 05.09.13


The Eurotwins often seem like they’re thinking the same thing on the ice. However, when it comes to hot-button political issues, maybe not so much. Last week, Henrik Zetterberg ripped Russia’s law banning “homosexual propaganda”, saying, “It’s unbelievable that it can be this way in this time, especially in a big country like Russia”. Today, his Detroit Red Wings teammate Pavel Datsyuk seemed to take a different stance on the issue, without coming right out and saying it. Asked about the swirling controversy in his homeland, Datsyuk said, “I’m Orthodox, and that says it all”, according to sports.ru hockey reporter Igor Eronko. Now, we simple sport folk aren’t terribly well-versed in Orthodox ideology, but simple Google searches seemed to confirm our suspicion that Pav doesn’t agree with Z.

22 August 2013

James Jahnke

Detroit Free Press


American Catholic Bishops Oppose Strike on Syria

00 Bomb in Damascus. 05.12


On Thursday, according to American media sources, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a letter to US President Barack Obama, in which they called upon him not to conduct a military operation in Syria. The letter said that the US government should “work urgently and tirelessly” with other countries to put an end to the Syrian conflict. The bishops condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but at the same time pointed up that Pope Francisco Bergoglio and Middle Eastern Christian leaders urged the international community to avoid military action. The USCCB letter noted, “They’ve made ​​it clear that military intervention would be counter-productive, it’d exacerbate an already-dangerous situation, and it’d have negative consequences”.

5 September 2013



Editor’s Note:

John Boehner screams that he’s a down n’ dirty Catholic. Well, his bishops have made it clear that his warmongering stance on Syria is evil and beyond the pale. Is he going to repent and change his tune, or, is he going to persist on the hellbound trail? Only time will tell us… Mr Boehner’s past doesn’t give one grounds for optimism, does it? After all, he’s one of the best-paid prostitutes for the insurance lobby…

Oh, one last thing… is the USCCB going to pull the sacraments from Mr Boehner for his warmongering and opposition to single-payer healthcare in obstinate and stubborn defiance of many Vatican declarations on these topics? It’s only fair (especially, since Mr Boehner made noises about “pro-abortion” politicians… the shoe does pinch when it’s on your foot, doesn’t it, Mr Boehner?).


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