Voices from Russia

Sunday, 28 May 2017

“Sincerely Held Belief” Is a Slippery Slope to Theocracy

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There’s a serious issue with Christian paranoia in North America. We hear Christians complaining about being denied religious freedom, and demanding special rights, beyond the rights of other citizens. Just now, we have a trial in British Columbia, in Canada, on the rights of one particular religious group, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – Fundamentalist. Their deeply held religious belief is that God ordained polygamy and that they should observe it. It seems likely the courts will announce that we can’t honour such a religious “right” because it’s contrary to Canadian civil law. We don’t see a single other religious body standing up for and defending the right of this Church to exercise this deeply held religious belief freely.

However, let’s look a bit further. Follow the arguments and make a list of the “rights” that the state denies Christians in North America, aside from being forbidden to make animal (or human) sacrifices. The rights that certain Christian bodies demand aren’t the right to assemble and worship according to their doctrines, and live their lives according to their doctrines! Not at all. Neither Canada nor the USA has ever infringed those rights. The rights that these particular Christians demand are all… every one of them… the right to deny others their rights and freedoms; the right to persecute, humiliate, and denigrate those who don’t share their doctrine and understanding of life. They stop short of demanding the right to kill blasphemers or to burn witches and perceived heretics at the stake. However, all the rights they claim they are denied have to do with persecuting others, denying others of equal rights with them, the right to subvert the Constitution (in America) or the Charter (in Canada).

In other words, such Christians demand special extra-constitutional rights for themselves, and those rights include attempting to destroy other people’s lives and to persecute those who don’t share their doctrines and understandings. All religious bodies have the right to assemble, read their holy books, and follow their religious practises, so long as those doctrines and religious practices don’t harm others or deprive others of their legal rights. If we believe in our particular Word of God, this gives us no rights to attack, spread hate about, persecute, or attempt to destroy the lives of other who have a different “Word of God” such as the Quran, which they equally deeply and sincerely believe to be the direct “Word of God”.

However, neither Muslims nor others have the right to do those things to those who believe that the Judeo/Christian Bible is the express “Word of God”. Moreover, neither we nor Muslims have any right whatsoever to persecute and destroy the lives of or denigrate those who either understand those Holy Books differently that one or another denomination, or who don’t accept their authority at all. To try to convert people is natural. To try to bully, coerce, and take over the government to force people by law to obey one religion or another is clearly just a form of Ego-Fascism. Compelling outward compliance and not converting the hearts of others seems to me to be utterly opposed to Christ Jesus and the Holy Apostles, that’s shameless and unworthy of the name “Christian”.

11 May 2017

Lazar Puhalo

Facebook

Editor:

Christianity is NOT under attack in the USA or Canada. Actually, some claim “rights” that don’t exist. For instance, many Orthodox parishes have made their parish halls places of public accommodation. That is, they rent them out to outsiders, to generate income. If you make your hall into a place of public accommodation, and not a parochial closed venue, then, you must follow the laws regarding places of public accommodation. You can’t allow some to rent the facility and deny it to others based on “sincerely held” beliefs. You must either open it to all comers or keep it as a closed venue. That’s the law in a secular state, and I believe that law to be a good one. Churches shouldn’t be in business… they have more important fish to fry. However, the lure of “easy money” seduces many. We shouldn’t be making our parish halls public banqueting facilities. I’d note that the Catholics don’t do so… they’re right in so doing.

Another so-called “right” is for public officials to refuse to carry out public duties. A civil marriage is NOT a sacramental marriage. A civil marriage is a legal arrangement… not a Mystery of the Church. Can a Christian carry out a “gay marriage?” If one is the public official responsible for such, you must. It isn’t a sacramental action… it’s nothing but a civil contract. Can you disagree with such publicly? Of course, that’s what free speech is all about… but you must also carry out your official duties to the secular state. That’s what many Christian people did in the Sov times. They did right. If a Christian doesn’t feel right in performing such an action, they should deputise a subordinate who’s willing to do it. That protects them… they uphold their duty under the law and uphold the dictates of their conscience, too. What one can’t do is to make a showy self-serving protest… we all know what the Apostle said about loud clashing cymbals, don’t we? Deputise someone and be done with it. That’s the ticket… it upholds conscience and denies the godless a chance to attack Christians and their faith. As the Apostle said, we must be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. I’d say that it’s time for serpentine doves… self-inflicted splashy “martyrdom” isn’t Christian, after all…

BMD

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

When Disinformation is Truth: Dems and Progressives Jump into Bed with Neocons to Demonise Russia

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“The downside of playing chicken with a nuclear-armed Russia is the end of life as we know it”.

The anti-Russian McCarthyism that has spread out from the USA to encompass the EU, Canada, and Australia has at its core an implicit recognition that neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy have failed. Recently, when I asked a European journalist why this anti-Russian hysteria took root among mainstream European political parties, he answered with a question:

Do you think they can run on their success in handling the recession and the refugees?

In other words, European voters are angry about the painful economic conditions that followed the Wall Street crash of 2008 and the destabilising surge of immigrants fleeing from Western “régime-change” wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan. Therefore, like the Democratic Party that doesn’t want to engage in a soul-searching self-examination about Donald Trump’s victory, the European “establishment” parties need a handy excuse to divert criticism… that excuse is Russia, a blame-shifting that allowed them to slough off nearly every recent criticism of establishment government officials as “Russian disinformation”. It doesn’t even matter anymore that the criticism may be factual. Today, they deem even truthful information “Russian disinformation” or Russian-inspired “fake news”.

We saw that in the Canadian mainstream media’s denunciations of Consortiumnews.com for running an article that pointed out that Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland misrepresented her family history to white-out her maternal grandfather’s role editing a Nazi newspaper in Poland that demonised Jews and justified the Holocaust. Virtually every mainstream outlet in Canada rallied to Freeland’s side when she dismissed our article as Russian disinformation. Only later did a few newspapers grudgingly acknowledge that our story was true and that Freeland knew it was true. Nevertheless, the attacks on us continued. They labelled us “Russian disinformationists”, with no evidence needed to support the slander and no defence allowed. Although it’s arguably a small example, the Freeland story reflects what is happening across the Western MSM. The MSM dismisses almost every independent-minded news article that questions the establishment narratives on international affairs as “Russian propaganda”. The few politicians, academics, and journalists who don’t march in the establishment’s parade are “Moscow stooges” or “Putin apologists”.

The Russian Resistance

This anti-Russian hysteria began some years ago when President V V Putin made it clear that Russia would no longer bow to dictates from Washington and Brussels. Russia bristled at the encroachment of NATO on its borders, rejected the neoconservative agenda of “regime change” wars in Muslim countries, and resisted the US-backed putsch ousting the Ukraine’s elected president in 2014. However, the anti-Russian frenzy gained unstoppable momentum with the 2016 US election. The shocking upset of their presidential choice, Hillary Clinton, by the boorish and buffoonish Donald Trump horrified Democrats, liberals, and neoconservatives. After this bitter defeat, the losers looked for scapegoats rather than order up a serious autopsy on how they lost to the “unelectable” Trump, i.e, by choosing a corporate candidate associated with neoliberal economics and neoconservative war policies. Blaming Russia became the easy excuse that could unify the various pro-Clinton camps. Therefore, the Obama administration… in an unprecedented step… sought to poison the well for its successor by having the US intelligence community put out evidence-lacking allegations about Russian “meddling” in the US election to elect Trump.

The promoters of this Russia-did-it narrative merged with the “#Resistance” movement to do whatever was necessary to push Trump out of office. It didn’t seem to matter to them that they had very little evidence that the Russians actually did meddle in the election. The chief claim was that the Russians gave WikiLeaks the Democratic emails revealing the DNC’s sabotage of Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign and the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta exposing the contents of Clinton’s hidden speeches to Wall Street and some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation. WikiLeaks denied getting the material from the Russians, but… more to the point… there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, as even Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman acknowledged. The WikiLeaks disclosures also weren’t a major factor in Clinton’s defeat, which she primarily blamed on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation of her using a private email server while Secretary of State. Still, the absence of evidence didn’t deter Democrats, liberals, and neocons from spinning a vast Russian conspiracy theory that ties together Trump’s past business dealings in Russia with the notion that somehow Putin foresaw that Trump would become US President, an eventuality that nearly every American pundit considered impossible as recently as last year. However, sceptics of the Trump/Russia conspiracy… if they dare note that Putin would need the world’s best Ouija board to foresee Trump’s victory… must then prove that they are not “Russian propaganda/disinformation agents” for having these doubts.

New McCarthyism and Maddow

Given the emergence of this New Cold War, I suppose it made sense that we’d soon have a New McCarthyism, although it may have come as a surprise that the liberals and the MSM are leading this witch-hunt, albeit with important assistance from neocons, who’ve long engaged in smearing the patriotism of anyone who doubted their geopolitical genius. Remember back in 1984 when US Ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick, an early neocon, denounced traitorous Americans who “blame America first”. However, it appears now that their hatred of Trump blinds so many liberals (and even progressives) that they haven’t thought through the wisdom of their new alliance with the neocons… or the fairness of smearing fellow Americans as “Putin apologists”.

Meanwhile, MSM news organisations have abandoned even the pretence of professional objectivity in their propagandistic approach toward anything related to Russia or Trump. For instance, I’d defy anyone reading New York Times’ coverage of Russia to assess it as fair and balanced when it’s clearly snarky and sneering. It also turns out that this New McCarthyism is profitable for its leading practitioners. On Monday, the New York Times reported that ratings for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow are soaring with her frequent anti-Russian rants. It wrote:

Now, rattled liberals are surging back [to network television], seeking catharsis, solidarity, and relief.

The NYT cited a Kentucky woman who explained why she became a devotee of Maddow:

She’s always talking about the Russians!

Frankly, for the past dozen years, I’ve wondered about Maddow. I first heard her on the radio in August 2005 when she was a summer fill-in at Air America reporting on President George W Bush’s Katrina fiasco, which she partly blamed on the deployment of Louisiana National Guard units to Iraq so they couldn’t help evacuate flooded New Orleans. It was clear that Maddow was talented and her excoriation of the Iraq War was on point, although… by summer 2005… it didn’t require a huge amount of journalistic courage to slam Bush over the Iraq War. As I watched, her career rose through a regular Air America gig, to her show on MSNBC, and then to stardom as an anchor on the network’s election coverage, I always wondered whether she’d put her lucrative corporate acceptance at risk and go against the grain at a tough journalistic moment. Now, Maddow’s behaviour in becoming a modern-day MSM Joe McCarthy put my doubts to rest. She’s riding high in the ratings by keeping her whip-hand coming down hard on the bash-Russia steed. She’s putting her career and her politics ahead of journalism. Like so many other Democrat/liberal/neocon activists, Maddow not only ignores the evidentiary gaps in the Russia-did-it conspiracy theory, but she seems oblivious to the dangers of her opportunism. By stirring up this McCarthyistic frenzy, she and her “never-Trump” allies make a rational policy toward a nuclear-armed Russia nearly impossible. Thus, she contributes to the real risk of a hot war with Russia that could lead to the annihilation of life on the planet.

Thin-Skinned Trump

One of the bitter ironies here is that Trump’s critics correctly noted that his thin-skinned temperament made him unfit to possess the nuclear button, but they now egg him on into a mano-a-mano confrontation with Putin. If Trump doesn’t get the better of Putin in every situation, Trump faces renewed pummelling for “selling out” to the Russians. Already, neocon Senator Lindsey Graham declared:

2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.

If Trump doesn’t go along, he will face battering from the likes of Maddow, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and pretty much every MSM news outlet. Therefore, Trump may have no political choice but to get tough. However, what happens when Putin pushes back? In the past when I’ve made this point about the recklessness of Russia-bashing, they’ve told me that I’m being alarmist, that “kicking Russia in the ass” and baiting Trump to join in the kicking won’t lead to a nuclear war, that the Russians aren’t that stupid. Yeah, let’s hope not. On the upside of this anti-Russia strategy, the anti-Trump activists insist it is the most promising route to get rid of Trump, which they view as justifying almost any action. It’s not for them to prove that Trump did conspire with Putin to rig the US presidential election; it’s enough to raise the suspicion and use it to push for Trump’s impeachment.

As someone who’s covered national security scandals since the 1980s, I’m familiar with the kind of evidence needed to make serious allegations. For instance, when Brian Barger and I wrote the first story about Nicaraguan Contra drug trafficking in 1985 for the AP, we had about two-dozen sources plus documents. Most of the sources were insiders… i.e., inside the Contra movement and inside the Reagan administration… who described how they ran the operation. We had this evidence before we made any public accusation. In the case of the Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, the US intelligence community presented almost no evidence of Russian “hacking”. It admits that it has no evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russians. As far as we know, no one has found an insider who can describe how this alleged conspiracy occurred. That isn’t to say that some evidence might not eventually surface that confirms the Russia-Trump suspicions, but that’s true of all conspiracy theories. Who knows, maybe Joe McCarthy was right about all those Communists inside the US Government secretly working for the Kremlin? Maybe, he did have a real list of names. That’s what “witch hunts” are all about… investigations designed to prove a point whether true or not.

In this current case, however, the downside isn’t “just” the destruction of people’s careers and a few imprisonments. The downside of playing chicken with a nuclear-armed Russia is the end of life as we know it. At such a moment, journalists and politicians should demand the highest standards of proof, not no proof at all. Sometimes, I envision the argument that I’d hear as the mushroom clouds begin rising over US and Russian cities. If not incinerated in the first moments of the cataclysm, the “smart” people of the US MSM (and their liberal and neocon allies) would insist that it wasn’t their fault… it was someone else’s fault, blame-shifting to the end. Therefore, as the Democrats and liberals join with the neocons in launching this New McCarthyism over Russia… with people like Maddow leading the charge… what’s arguably the most depressing fact is that there appears to be no Edward R Murrow, an MSM journalist with a conscience, anywhere on the horizon.

13 March 2017

Robert Parry

Consortium News

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/13/when-disinformation-is-truth/

Aleksei Zhuravko on the Ukrainian-Canadian FTA: Canada Continues to Help the Fascist Ideology Grow in the Ukraine

Aleksei Zhuravko is a tight bro with “Texas” Bentley… what better recommendation do you need?

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Junta chieftain Poroshenko wrote this on Facebook:

This is an important day for relations between the Ukraine and Canada. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his coöperation and dedication to the strengthening of relations with the Ukraine. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Chrystia Freeland, formerly Minister of Trade, and now Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. The free world is confident in the future, they support the Ukraine’s positions. Signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Canada recognises the progress of our country on the path of reform. It’s a symbol of confidence in the principles and values of the way that we do business in the Ukraine today, [standards] we formed according to the best standards and practises. Therefore, the ratification and subsequent entry into force of an FTA with Canada will be an important signal to our international partners and potential investors worldwide.

Aleksei Zhuravko, former Peoples Deputy in the Ukrainian Verkhovnaya Rada, noted:

Poroshenko solved nothing with this FTA between the Ukraine and Canada. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now in the hands of people who don’t know how to carry on correct political discourse with other countries. This isn’t to their credit. After all, Canada always supported the neo-Fascists [in the Ukraine], [so they support the] current fascist régime. Furthermore, you know very well that Canada has a museum of these murderers, of the scumbags [who make up the] fascist régime. Therefore, Canada continues to help fascist ideology grow in the Ukraine.

14 March 2017

KhAN Kharkov News Agency

https://nahnews.org/988030-aleksei-zhuravko-o-zst-kanada-prodolzhaet-fashizaciyu-ukrainy

Editor:

This is an act of desperation on the part of the junta… only two countries support the junta wholeheartedly… the USA and Canada. In the first, career operatives in the DoD, State Department, and the CIA want to use the fascist junta to weaken Russia’s geostrategic position. In the second, Canadians of Galician Uniate descent wield electoral power in Western Canada. That is, Trudeau is pandering to a domestic political pressure group, not responding to real-world realities. With extreme misgiving, Poroshenko is trying to hold onto to power in any way that he can. Most people in Eastern Europe (especially, in the former USSR) believe that the junta is a dead duck. I agree with that. What’s going on now is meaningless political kabuki. I’d say that the junta members had best prepare their ways to the exit… otherwise, the relatives of their victims will point an AK at their heads and gladly pull the trigger.

Payback IS a motherfucker…

BMD

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Chrystia Freeland’s Granddad was Indeed a Nazi Collaborator… So Much for Russian Disinformation

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The news conference on Monday by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was interesting not for the announcement that Canada was extending its training mission to the Ukraine but for the questions and answers about the minister’s grandfather. There have been a number of articles circulating about Freeland’s Ukrainian grandfather Michael Chomiak and his ties to the Nazis. Some of those articles have appeared on pro-Russian websites. Freeland, who strongly supports the Ukraine and is a major critic of Russia’s seizure of the Crimea, suggested to journalists that the articles about her grandfather were part of a Russian disinformation campaign (The Russian government sees Freeland as virulently anti-Russian and placed her on their travel ban). Freeland told reporters after they raised questions about the articles about her grandfather:

American officials have publicly said, and even Angela Merkel has publicly said, that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilise Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada.

The Globe and Mail also reported that an official in Freeland’s office denied the minister’s grandfather was a Nazi collaborator. In addition, those in the Canadian-Ukrainian community dismissed the claims were outright. Paul Grod, president of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress told the Globe and Mail:

It’s the continued Russian modus operandi that they have. Fake news, disinformation, and targeting different individuals. It’s just so outlandish when you hear some of these allegations… whether they are directed at Minister Freeland or others.

Well, it actually isn’t so outlandish. Michael Chomiak WAS a Nazi collaborator. What are the sources for the information that Freeland’s grandfather worked for the Nazis? For starters, The Ukraine Archival Records held by the Province of Alberta. It has a whole file on Chomiak, including his own details about his days editing the newspaper Krakivski Visti. Chomiak noted he edited the paper first in Kraków in Poland and then in Vienna. The reason he edited the paper in Vienna was because he had to flee with his Nazi colleagues as the Russians advanced into Poland (the Russians tended to execute collaborators well as SS members).

So what was the Krakivski Visti? The Nazis seized it, like a number of other publications, from their Jewish owners and then operated them as propaganda outlets. Here is what the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum has to say about Krakivski Visti and a similar newspaper, Lvivski Visti, both publications associated with the Nazi régime:

The editorial boards carried out a policy of soliciting Ukrainian support for the German cause. It was typical, within these publications, to not to give any accounts of the German genocidal policy, and largely, the editions resorted to silencing the mass killing of Jews in Galicia. Ukrainian newspapers presented the Jewish Question in light of the official Nazi propaganda, corollary to the Jewish world conspiracy. In 1943 and 1944, both Lvivski Visti and Krakivski Visti hailed the German-approved formation of the 14th Waffen SS Division Galichina, composed of Ukrainian volunteers.

So much for Russian disinformation. On Wednesday the Globe and Mail reported:

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland knew for more than two decades that her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was the chief editor of a Nazi newspaper.

8 March 2017

David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/chrystia-freelands-granddad-was-indeed-a-nazi-collaborator-so-much-for-russian-disinformation

Editor:

The Galician Uniates are the diehard nationalists in the Ukraine. Firstly, the fact that they were under Habsburg and Polish rule cut them off for centuries from their fellows in Malorossiya. Secondly, the semi-Polish creole spoken in Galicia isn’t common… most “Ukrainians” speak Russian or Surzhik (a dialect more biased towards Russian than “Ukrainian”). Thirdly, Galicia is the Dogpatch of the Ukraine… it’s the poorest and most backwards region (the abject poverty of the region is what led so many to emigrate). It has NOTHING in common with Cossacks, yet Uniates prance about in Cossack costume… there’s only one problem… ALL Cossacks are anti-Uniate to the bone. If the Cossacks caught Poles or Muslims… they’d let them live and go home. If they caught Uniates, they killed them on the spot as traitors to Holy Rus and its faith.

The notional Ukraine is sinking and all of Freeland’s soldiers and all of Freeland’s money won’t put Humpty back together again.

Here’s another interesting take on l’Affaire Freeland from the Jewish POV

BMD

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