Wednesday, 1 April 2015

John Key - behind the facade

Who Can Trust John Key?
By Robert Amsterdam

In the past few days, we have heard further revelations regarding the illegal activities of New Zealand’s spying agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). According to reports by journalists Nicky Hager and Ryan Gallagher, of the New Zealand Herald and The Intercept respectively, the GCSB has again engaged in surveillance that transcends its mandate, apparently with the awareness and backing of the Prime Minister John Key.

We have sadly become used to governments behaving like criminals when it comes to mass surveillance, but what is interesting in this case is the ways that spying powers are abused for private agenda instead of public interest.

According to the revelations, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser was in the running for the role of Director General of the World Trade Organisation in 2013. Leaked documents show that during Groser’s bid, the GCSB targeted his competitors for the post using the National Security Agency’s (NSA) XKEYSCORE surveillance program. This was presumably done to gain an advantage for Groser’s candidacy, one that ultimately failed.

According to legislation governing the GCSB’s powers, the bureau’s objective is to contribute to the national security of New Zealand, the international relations and wellbeing of New Zealand, and the economic well-being of New Zealand. 4 

None of these areas are addressed by the use of the GCSB’s surveillance powers for the personal gain and cv-boosting of a senior politician.

The fact that Prime Minister John Key was the head of the GCSB at the time of this surveillance, and Key’s subsequent attempts to brush it off through transparent attacks on the integrity of reporters, once again demonstrate his utter contempt for the law. Taking into account the GCSB’s past record of violations, including the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom, and that it has spied on other Pacific islands officials and anti-corruption campaigners, and it is impossible to trust the Prime Minister when he insists that the GCSB operates within its legal limitations.

As highlighted by Professor Jane Kelsey, the lies and deceit take on an added significance in light of the secret negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a free trade deal that threatens the country’s sovereignty over its trade and many other areas of its economy.

When governments feel that they can use mass surveillance tools for whatever project they choose, how long will it be before National’s top financial supporters begin requesting intelligence on business competitors? After all, the U.S. government has already been caught using surveillance against Google, Petrobras, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), among others.  It’s no wonder that Mr. Key feels he should enjoy impunity to use surveillance beyond legal limitations.

Given these facts, the question is how can New Zealanders trust Key’s Government when it has clearly demonstrated that, when convenient, it has no issues disregarding the law and placing personal and commercial interests over the public interest?

Such a breach of public trust requires a serious response to hold this government accountable to the law.

Robert Amstedam and Glenn Greenwald interviewed

Obama: Actions speak louder than words

Have some Greenies,like Bill McKibben and his friends from Wall Street been trying to tell you that Barack Obama is serious about climate change?

Actions speak louder than words

Barack Obama gives Shell go-ahead to drill for oil in Alaskan Arctic
Anglo-Dutch oil giant to return to the Chukchi Sea in search for oil despite concerns for the environment

The damaged Royal Shell Dutch drilling barge Kulluk is loaded onto the transport ship XRK in Unalaska, Alaska
Shell's Kulluk drilling rig ran aground in the Arctic Photo: AP

31 March, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell has received the go-ahead from the US government to restart a controversial oil exploration campaign in the Alaskan Arctic despite fears over the risk to the environment.

The Department of the Interior approved the Anglo-Dutch oil major’s request to return to the Chukchi Sea within the Arctic circle. It comes just three years after Shell’s last attempt to find oil in the region floundered when its Kulluk drilling rig ran aground.

"The Arctic is an important component of the Administration's national energy strategy, and we remain committed to taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas leasing and exploration offshore Alaska," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

This unique, sensitive and often challenging environment requires effective oversight to ensure all activities are conducted safely and responsibly.”

Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will now consider Shell's exploration plan and perform an environmental assessment on it, which could take at least 30 days.

Shell said in a statement on Tuesday night: “Today’s Record of Decision reaffirms Lease Sale 193 and clears the way for the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management to conclude its review and make a decision on our Revised Chukchi Sea Exploration Plan. The execution of that plan remains contingent on achieving the necessary permits, legal certainty and our own determination that we are prepared to explore safely and responsibly.”

The company spent $5bn (£3bn) in its last failed search for oil in Alaska but the company believes that the region’s vast untapped reserves warrant the potential financial and environmental risks of returning.

Despite the slump in oil prices to levels around $50 per barrel, operators are prepared to continuing searching for crude in the Arctic. According to estimates by energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, the region, straddling territory belonging to Russia, the US, Norway, Greenland and Canada, may hold as much as 166bn barrels of oil equivalent.

Shell’s plan for the Chukchi may involve using two rigs to reach production of around 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, roughly half the UK’s current output of oil from the North Sea. Tapping oil and gas reserves held under the Arctic will be vital to meeting expected global energy demand beyond 2040.

According to the International Energy Agency, total energy demand will increase by 37pc over the next 25 years and without new reserves the world could face a catastrophic shortfall in oil and gas.

However, the decision by President Barack Obama’s administration to sanction Shell’s plans in Alaska has drawn immediate criticism from environmental lobby groups.

It’s an indefensible decision,” said Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Ian Duff. “The Arctic is melting rapidly because of climate change. But instead of seeing it as a warning, Shell sees profit. It wants to drill for more of the stuff that caused the melting in the first place. And all the evidence shows Shell can’t drill safely in the Arctic. The extreme conditions means it’s when, not if, a spill will happen.”

Drilling in the Arctic is complicated by ice, which in some areas can last for around six months. The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has said there is a 75pc chance of “one or more large spills” happening.

The decision to permit Shell back into Alaska could also trigger a rush by other nations to tap their Arctic resources.

Canada is watching Shell’s plans closely. Imperial Oil wants to drill on the Canadian side of the Beaufort Sea by the end of the decade. In Russia, state-run Rosneft and Gazprom have a monopoly to explore the country’s vast Arctic continental shelf, but work has been slowed by Western sanctions aimed at forcing the Kremlin to back down over its support of separatists in Ukraine

A Greenpeace activist covers the logo of the Shell oil company to protest against the heading of the an icebreaker for Shell's Arctic oil drilling project in the north of Alaska in 2012.
A Greenpeace activist covers the Shell logo in May 2012. Photograph: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty 

The Guardian mentioned it the other day but without mentioning Obama’s name. Doesn’t really fit their current narrative.

Liberals like George Monbiot are still delivering exactly the same messsage as they were 20 years ago when I first discovered him.

This is from 3 weeks ago


More on Antarctica

Another all encompassing show from Gary Null and the good prof' explaining the watering down of the information flow to us plebs who they don't want to spook with the truth of our predicament.Guy McPherson features from the 40 min mark but the whole show is very good.
---Kevin Hester

This is an excellent interview within a short period of time. 

In it Gary Null provides one of the best explantions of the disconnect between what the UN public policy documents of the IPPC are saying (and what the public is told) and what the very same authors are saying on a private basis - that things are worse than dire, but the power-that-be do not want to panic the Great Unwashed, and so lie.

I can recommend listening to this show, not only for the dialogue between Gary and Guy, but also for the wonderful information (that I rarely get to hear), that Gary gives on healthy life choices and the reality behind vaccination

Listen to Guy's interview from the 40 minute mark.

Guy McPherson and Gary Null discuss rapid climate change

The conservatism of climate change assessment and how we might face the potential extinction of western civilization and humanity in an awakened manner, with Guy McPherson. 

Dr. Guy McPherson is a professor emeritus of Natural Resources, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.  He has specialized in forest resources, energy decline and climate change and their economic consequences. In the past he has also taught at Texas A&M and University of California at Berkeley.

Having become disillusioned with the American university environment and academia, and after attempts by university officials to silence his outspokenness about the human causes of climate change, Guy abandoned his tenured position as a full professor for ethical reasons of conscience. He is the author of several books, the latest co-written with Carolyn Baker entitled “Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind.”  He is also the co-host of the radio program Nature Bats Last heard every Tuesday evening at 8 pm Eastern on the Progressive Commentary Hour.  His website is

As if on spec, the following news came my way just before listening to the show.

Iceberg B-33 Calves near 

Pine Island Glacier

February 17, 2015, Suitland, MD — On February 16th 2015, the National Ice Center (NIC) named a new iceberg that calved from an ice-shelf near Pine Island Glacier in Pine Island Bay.

B-33 is located at 7501’11” South, 10448’38” West, in the Amundsen Sea. The iceberg measures 11 nautical miles on its longest axis and 2 nautical miles on its widest axis. Analyst MST1 Tyson confirmed B-33 using the Radarsat-2 image shown below.

Iceberg names are derived from the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally sighted. The quadrants are divided counter-clockwise in the following manner:

A = 0-90W (Bellingshausen/Weddell Sea)
B = 90W-180 (Amundsen/Eastern Ross Sea) C = 180-90E (Western Ross Sea/Wilkesland) D = 90E-0 (Amery/Eastern Weddell Sea)

When first sighted, an iceberg’s point of origin is documented by the NIC. The letter of the quadrant, along with a sequential number, is assigned to the iceberg. For example, C-19 is sequentially the 19th iceberg tracked by the NIC in Antarctica between 180-90E (Quadrant C).

The National Ice Center is a tri-agency operational center represented by the United States Navy (Department of Defense), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce), and the United States Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security). The National Ice Center mission is to provide the highest quality strategic and tactical ice services tailored to meet the operational requirements of U.S. national interests and to provide specialized meteorological and oceanographic services to United States government agencies

This relates to an earlier break-off of an iceberg the size of Singapore

Information is that iceberg B-334 has also broken off

Iceberg B-34Found in the Amundsen Sea

March 6, 2015, Suitland, MD—On March 6, 2015, the National Ice Center (NIC) discovered a new iceberg that meets the criteria for naming and tracking by the NIC. This particular iceberg is believed to have calved from the Getz Ice Shelf and is named B-34. B-34 is located at 74°12’ South, 129°31’ West, in the Amundsen Sea. Iceberg B-34 measures 15 nautical miles on its longest axis and 5 nautical miles on its widest axis. Analyst Chris Readinger located B-34 using MODIS imagery shown below.

Iceberg names are derived from the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally sighted. The quadrants are divided counter-clockwise in the following manner:

A = 0-90W (Bellingshausen/Weddell Sea)
B = 90W-180 (Amundsen/Eastern Ross Sea) C = 180-90E (Western Ross Sea/Wilkesland) D = 90E-0 (Amery/Eastern Weddell Sea)

When first sighted, an iceberg’s point of origin is documented by the NIC. The letter of the quadrant, along with a sequential number, is assigned to the iceberg. For example, C-19 is sequentially the 19th iceberg tracked by the NIC in Antarctica between 180-90E (Quadrant C).

The National Ice Center is a tri-agency operational center represented by the United States Navy (Department of Defense), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce), and the United States Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security). 

The National Ice Center mission is to provide the highest quality strategic and tactical ice services tailored to meet the operational requirements of U.S. national interests and to provide specialized meteorological and oceanographic services to United States government agencies.

This is the article mentioned by Gary in the intereview

Congress Turns its Back on Global Warming
Ground Zero” Moves to Antarctica
Robert Hunziger

16 March 2015

Peru’s Quelccaya Ice Cap (alt. 17,950 ft.), the world’s largest tropical ice cap, will likely lose another 400-600 feet of ice before the final presidential nominating debates in March/April 2016. All of which brings to mind, wouldn’t it be interesting to ask the prospective presidential nominees this question: What are the implications of Antarctica suddenly becoming “ground zero” for global warming?

Apart from dumbfounded stares, their boilerplate answer will likely be: “I am not a scientists, the climate always changes, blah, blah, blah.” Rumor has it Republican operatives came up with these clever rejoinders at one of their confabs in ultra-secretive preparation for capturing or cratering the presidency, depending. Some Democrats may fall back on the same rote answer, but probably not.

Furthermore, there is good reason for the Arctic to be conjoined with Antarctica for “ground zero status.” According to NSIDC, Arctic sea ice during the winter of 2014-2015 in March has ominously hit such low levels that it could set a seasonal low record, if it persists. Hopefully, excessive loss of ice this upcoming summer does not turn lose too much methane (CH4), a potential lights-out scenario within current lifetimes.

Beyond the twin biggies of Antarctica and the Arctic, glaciers spoil most of the world’s population rotten. After all, billions of people simply turn on faucets, ship goods on rivers, generate electricity, and irrigate crops at no expense because of free water. That’s right, it is free because of nature’s bountiful glacial water towers. It’s the deal of a lifetime!

But, in time, it may be too good to be true. Glaciers are suffering devastating blows because of global warming! However, it’s doubtful that any of the presidential office-seekers are aware of this upcoming calamity. After all, they’re way too busy raising money to think about melting glaciers, honestly!

Anyway, the candidates should bone up on the issue, just to sound smart, because glaciers store 75% of the world’s freshwater.

Still, whenever grilled about the issue, the candidates will likely opt out by saying “I am not a scientist, blah, blah, blah”. So, maybe the question should be framed this way: “Does heat melt ice?”
Answer: Yes.

Massive Threat

The world has never faced such a predictably massive threat to food production as that posed by the melting mountain glaciers of Asia. China and India are the world’s leading producers of both wheat and rice—humanity’s food staples… 

[Furthermore] according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], the Himalayan glaciers are receding rapidly and many could melt entirely by 2035,” Lester R. Brown, Melting Mountain Glaciers Will Shrink Grain Harvests in China and India,” Earth Policy Institute.

According to Yao Tandong, a leading glaciologist in China, “If this melting of glaciers continues… [It] will eventually lead to an ecological catastrophe.”
In 2014, the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported the Tibetan glaciers experienced the most intense heat in 2,000 years. Indeed, seventy percent (70%) of the glaciers at the headwaters of the commercially active Lancang River, the “Danube of the East,” are gone, melted away, Glaciers on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Melting Fast,, Oct. 21, 2011.

In certain regions of Peru’s Quelccaya Ice Cap the melt rate is 600 feet per year or 40 times faster than a few decades ago, threatening loss of electricity (Peru is 76% hydropower), irrigation, and drinking water.

Melting glaciers are an icon of anthropogenic climate change,” according to Ben Marzeion, Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Innsbruck, et al, Attribution of Global Glacier Mass Loss to Anthropogenic and Natural Causes, in Science 22, Vol. 345, no. 6199, August 2014.

Marzeion’s study found unambiguous evidence of very sharp increases in anthropogenic ice loss over just the past few decades. His evidence runs in parallel with cumulative buildup of CO2 emissions now at 400 ppm, the February 2015 monthly average at Mauna Loa.

Beware, according to very recent “preliminary data” from Earth System Research Laboratory at Mauna Loa, as of March 14th, CO2 registered 402.28 ppm, this is +2.28 ppm in just a couple of weeks versus an average annual rate of change of +2.11 ppm ever since 2005-2014. Is it a troublesome trend spiking up? Nobody wants to see that happen! Nobody!

Ground Zero 85% of World’s Ice

Still, the really, really big news is this: “Parts of Antarctica are melting so rapidly it has become “ground zero of global climate change without a doubt,” says Harvard geophysicists Jerry X. Mitrovica, et al, The Big Melt: Antarctica’s 
Retreating Ice May Re-Shape Earth, Associated Press, Feb. 27, 20 15.

Antarctica has been the subject of controversial statements by “certain parties,” claiming the ice is expanding. Evidently, “certain parties” rely upon “surface evidence” and only “look east,” thus ignoring the western region and ignoring: 

Down below, where the ice meets the water, Harvard geophysicist Dr. Mitrovica discovered an altogether different story. “Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans… 130 billion tons of ice per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations.”

Not only that: “’Temperatures [in Antarctica] rose 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) in the last half century, much faster than Earth’s average,” says Ricardo Jana, a glaciologist for the Chilean Antarctic Institute, evidence various latitudes are seriously heating up!

A few years back, scientists figured Antarctica as a whole was in balance, neither gaining nor losing ice. Experts worried more about Greenland; it was easier to get to and more noticeable, but once they got a better look at the bottom of the world, the focus of their fears shifted. Now scientists in two different studies use the words ‘irreversible’ and ‘unstoppable’ to talk about the melting in West Antarctica. Ice is gaining in East Antarctica, where the air and water are cooler, but not nearly as much as it is melting to the west,” Ibid.

Accordingly, ice scientist Ian Joughin, University of Washington states: “Now I would say it’s less of a wild card and more scary than we thought before.”
NASA ice scientist Eric Rignot says the melting “Is going way faster than anyone had thought. It’s kind of a red flag. What’s happening is simple physics. Warm water eats away at the ice from underneath…The world’s fate hangs on the question of how fast the ice melts,” Ibid.

Argo floats, 3,300+ worldwide, measure heat content in the oceans, accordingly, the Journal of Geophysical Research says the oceans carry a considerable load of the planet’s heat. Antarctica is proving it.

Catastrophe Hinges on Antarctica (altogether with the Arctic)

Worldwide ice melt is setting records, left and right, surprising scientists year-over-year, for example, the recent research in Antarctica surprised scientists. In fact, science cannot keep up with the speed of melt. Ipso facto, what does this say about the prospects for Antarctica? Ask the presidential candidates… no, no, no scratch that. Again, what does the tantalizing speed of worldwide melt say about Antarctica’s prospects?

Scientists have long worried that the West Antarctic ice sheet is a place where climate change might tip toward catastrophe,” Warren Cornwall for National Geographic, Warming Seas Drive Rapid Acceleration of Melting Antarctica Ice, National Geographic News, Dec. 4, 2014.

Melting Antarctic glaciers that are large enough to raise worldwide sea level by more than a meter are dropping a Mount Everest’s worth of ice into the sea every two years,” according to a new study: Tyler C. Sutterley, et al, West Antarctic Melt Rate Has Tripled, American Geophysical Union, Dec. 2, 2014. Remarkably, cascading ice tripled!

A second recent study, Sunke Schmidtko, et at, Multidecadal Warming of Antarctic Waters, Science 5, Vol. 346 no. 6214, Dec. 5, 2014 explains the accelerating ice melt. Warm ocean water is melting the floating ice shelves that hold back the glaciers, further confirmation the oceans have been absorbing much of Earth’s heat.

Those two pieces of new research were issued just before officials of the World Meteorological Organization announced 2014 as the “warmest”/hottest year on record.

Current predictions of sea level rise may understate the risk because they don’t accurately take into account shoaling of warm water in the Antarctic, says Sarah Gille, an oceanographer at the University of California, San Diego.

According to glaciologist Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University, historical studies have shown that ice sheets can remain stable for centuries or millennia and then switch to a different configuration, suddenly. “If another sudden switch happens in West Antarctica, sea level could rise a lot, so understanding what is going on at the grounding lines is essential,” Ker Than, Friction Means Antarctic Glaciers More Sensitive to Climate Change Than We Thought, Caltech, March 10, 2015.

Congress turns its back on Global Warming

Considering the widely held belief in the halls of Congress that humans are not behind climate change, if it’s not anthropogenic global warming, then, what is it?

Inasmuch as Congress does not have a serious interest in understanding or investigating the global warming issue, it’s difficult to gain much intelligence from America’s most prominent class of leadership, ahem. Congressional disinterest is unambiguous, evidenced by no renewable energy plan, none whatsoever, not even a “trial balloon.”

Since Congress is totally clueless in the face of the biggest worldwide melt down in modern history, hopefully America’s presidential aspirants will provide some fresh ideas at their upcoming debates. For sure, they must have strong leadership qualities if they are running for president.

After all, sooner or later anthropogenic glacial loss will become the hottest political issue the world has ever witnessed, and then some. Somebody’s gotta start prepping!

Speaking of which, according to The Washington Post, January 21, 2015, Republicans are now in control of both houses: “Climate-Change Skeptics Cruz and Rubio Now Help Oversee Nation’s Climate Science.”

Hmm, those two will be in the debates.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at

It Was Warmer in Antarctica Than in New York City Last Week — and That's Not Even the Bad News
By Meredith Hoffman

It Was Warmer in Antarctica Than in New York City Last Week — and That's Not Even the Bad News

31 March, 2015

If you lived in the many parts of the United States and Europe last week and were in need of a reprieve from persistent, frigid temperatures, you would have found relief in the most unlikely of places.

Part of Antarctica hit a record high of 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit last Tuesday, the hottest ever reported, according to the climate monitor OGIMET.

By comparison, Washington DC was 46 degrees, New York City reached 45 degrees, and the temperature in London topped 50 degrees.

While scientists warn not to draw conclusions from a single weather event, the temperature record hues closely to more alarming, long-term trends in the southern continent.

Antarctica's floating ice shelves have recently decreased by as much as 18 percent in some spots over the last 18 years, says a new study, published in the journal Science. As the oceans have warmed, they've spurred more of the frozen mass to become water, researcher Fernando Paolo told VICE News.

"There is evidence that the amount of warm ocean water reaching the ice shelves has increased, so more warm water under these is causing the melt," Paolo, a PhD candidate with UC San Diego's Scripps Institute of Oceanography, told VICE News. "And there is a lag in the response time of the environment. So, even if conditions changed now, 20 years from now the environment will still be reacting this way."

And the findings indicate that sea levels are certain to continue rising, Doug Martinson, a professor with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, told VICE News.

"You could stop global warming tomorrow but that doesn't matter from this perspective because there's already so much heat stored in the ocean, it'll keep coming up and melting the ice," Martinson, who was not involved in Paolo's study, told VICE News.

The study, which advanced previous research on Antarctica's ice mass, compiled 18 years of continuous data starting in 1994, and found that the bulk of melt occurred between 2003 and 2012, Paolo noted.

"We could see there was an acceleration of loss," Paolo said of the ice mass. 

"Another important thing we were able to see was that some of the ice shelves have a large fluctuation of gain and loss in volume over time. So, if you look at a shorter period, you won't see the trend."

Air temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula — where the record high was documented last week — have been found to further affect ice melt there, Paolo said, so such steamy weather could certainly cause more reason for concern.

"On the Antarctic Peninsula we have a weather station so we know the weather is responsible for changes," Paolo said.

Still, one or two extremely hot days cannot be directly attributed to global warming, said Hugh Ducklow, also a professor with Lamont-Doherty. He warned of drawing too many conclusions from the 63.5-degree weather.

"I don't believe that you can attribute any isolated event to global warming. This is just like saying the next 100-degree day or next hurricane in NYC is due to global warming," Ducklow told VICE News. "A warmer climate could increase the likelihood of occurrence of hot days, but the individual events are not 'caused' by global warming."

And regardless of the air temperature, the ocean's conditions actually have a far stronger impact on the melting ice and rising sea levels, Martinson explained.

"The heat contained in water is thousands of times stronger than the heat of the atmosphere," Martinson said of the sea's ability to dissolve Antarctic ice.

"Heat is absorbed in the ocean like a sponge, and a good amount of that heat is coming up. Where it comes up it melts underside of the ice shelves," Martinson said, warning that the phenomenon could push the sea level dangerously high. "I don't like to say 'doomsday scenario' but this is sort of pointing toward it."

Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter: @merhoffman

Greenland's Melting Glaciers - VICE

In this episode, Shane Smith travels to Greenland with climate scientist Jason Box to investigate why the glaciers are melting, and how the resulting rise in sea level will devastate our world sooner than expected. Then VICE goes to Pakistan, where millions of men, women, and children work as bonded laborers in brick kilns. 

Kiev wants war : the view from Novorossia

Pepe Escobar on What He Saw in Rebel East Ukraine
  • "I saw refugees on the Russian side of the border, [...] whose kids, when they first came to the shelter, would duck under tables when they heard a plane in the sky."
  • "I saw whole families holed up in fully decorated Soviet-era bomb shelters too afraid to go out even by daylight, traumatized by the bombings orchestrated by Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operations”.
  • "I saw a modern, hard-working industrial city at least half-empty and partially destroyed but not bent, able to survive by their guts and guile with a little help from Russian humanitarian convoys."
And yet unconquered

31 March, 2015

This article originally appeared at Asia Times

I’ve just been to the struggling Donetsk People’s Republic. Now I’m back in the splendid arrogance and insolence of NATOstan.

Quite a few people – in Donbass, in Moscow, and now in Europe – have asked me what struck me most about this visit.

I could start by paraphrasing Allen Ginsberg in Howl – “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”.

But these were the Cold War mid-1950s. Now we’re in early 21st century Cold War 2.0 .

Thus what I saw were the ghastly side effects of the worst minds of my – and a subsequent – generation corroded by (war) madness.

I saw refugees on the Russian side of the border, mostly your average middle-class European family whose kids, when they first came to the shelter,  would duck under tables when they heard a plane in the sky.

I saw the Dylan of Donetsk holed up in his lonely room in a veterans’ home turned refugee shelter fighting the blues and the hopelessness by singing songs of love and heroism.

Dylan of Donetsk

I saw whole families holed up in fully decorated Soviet-era bomb shelters too afraid to go out even by daylight, traumatized by the bombings orchestrated by Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operations”.

Soviet-era bomb shelter

I saw a modern, hard-working industrial city at least half-empty and partially destroyed but not bent, able to survive by their guts and guile with a little help from Russian humanitarian convoys.

I saw beautiful girls hangin’ out by Lenin’s statue in a central square lamenting their only shot at fun was family parties in each other’s houses because nightlife was dead and “we’re at war”.

Donetsk girls by Lenin’s statue

I saw virtually the whole neighborhood of Oktyabrski near the airport bombed out like Grozny and practically deserted except for a few lonely babushkas with nowhere to go and too proud to relinquish their family photos of World War II heroes.

Bombed out Oktyabrski neighborhood

I saw checkpoints like I was back in Baghdad during the Petraeus surge.

I saw the main trauma doctor at the key Donetsk hospital confirm there has been no Red Cross and no international humanitarian help to the people of Donetsk.

Oktyabrski neighborhood, bombed hospital

I saw Stanislava, one of DPR’s finest and an expert sniper, in charge of our security, cry when she laid a flower on the ground of a fierce battle in which her squad was under heavy fire, with twenty seriously wounded and one dead, and she was hit by shrapnel and survived.

I saw orthodox churches fully destroyed by Kiev’s bombing.

I saw the Russian flag still on top of the anti-Maidan building which is now the House of Government of the DPR.

I saw the gleaming Donbass arena, the home of Shaktar Donetsk and a UFO in a war-torn city, deserted and without a single soul in the fan area.
I saw Donetsk’s railway station bombed by Kiev’s goons.

I saw a homeless man screaming “Robert Plant!” and “Jimmy Page!” as I found out he was still in love with Led Zeppelin and kept his vinyl copies.

I saw a row of books which never surrendered behind the cracked windows of bombed out Oktyabrski.

I saw the fresh graves where the DPR buries their resistance heroes.

I saw the top of the hill at Saur-mogila which the DPR resistance lost and then re-conquered, with a lone red-white-blue flag now waving in the wind.

Top of the hill at Saur-moglia

I saw the Superman rising from the destruction at Saur-mogila – the fallen statue in a monument to World War II heroes, which seventy years ago was fighting fascism and now has been hit, but not destroyed, by fascists.

The superman statue rising from the destruction at Saur-mogila

I saw the Debaltsevo cauldron in the distance and then I could fully appreciate, geographically, how DPR tactics surrounded and squeezed the demoralized Kiev fighters.

I saw the DPR’s military practicing their drills by the roadside from Donetsk to Lugansk.

I saw the DPR’s Foreign Minister hopeful there would be a political solution instead of war while admitting personally he dreams of a DPR as an independent nation.

I saw two badass Cossack commanders tell me in a horse-breeding farm in holy Cossack land that the real war has not even started.

I did not see the totally destroyed Donetsk airport because the DPR’s military were too concerned about our safety and would not grant us a permit while the airport was being hit – in defiance of Minsk 2; but I saw the destruction and the pile of Ukrainian army bodies on the mobile phone of a Serbian DPR resistance fÑŠighter.

I did not see, as Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe international observers also didn’t, the rows and rows of Russian tanks and soldiers that the current Dr. Strangelove in charge of NATO, General Breedhate, sees everyday in his exalted dreams invading Ukraine over and over again.

And I did not see the arrogance, the ignorance, the shamelessness and the lies distorting those manicured faces in Kiev, Washington and Brussels while they insist, over and over again, that the entire population of Donbass, traumatized babushkas and children of all ages included, are nothing but “terra-rists”.

After all, they are Western “civilization”-enabled cowards who would never dare to show their manicured faces to the people of Donbass.

So this is my gift to them.

Just a howl of anger and unbounded contempt.

Donbass: ‘The war has not started yet’
Pepe Escobar

Cossack commanders - featured in the first part of the column. (Photo: Vanya Savicevic)

31 March, 2015

Two top Cossack commanders in the People's Republic of Donetsk and a seasoned Serbian volunteer fighter are adamant: the real war in Donbass has not even started.

It’s a spectacular sunset in the People’s Republic of Donetsk and I’m standing in the Cossack ‘holy land’ - an open field in a horse-breeding farm - talking to Nikolai Korsunov, captain of the Ivan Sirko Cossack Brigade, and Roman Ivlev, founder of the Donbass Berkut Veterans Union group.

Why is this Cossack ‘holy land’? They take no time to remind me of the legendary 17th century Cossack military hero Ivan Sirko, a.k.a. “The Wizard”, credited with extra-sensory powers, who won 55 battles mostly against Poles and Tatars.
Only three kilometers from where we stand a key battle at a crossroads on the ancient Silk Road called Matsapulovska Krinitsa took place, involving 3,000 Cossacks and 15,000 Tatars.

Now, at the dawn of the Chinese-driven 21st century New Silk Road - which will also traverse Russia – here we are discussing the proxy war in Ukraine between the US and Russia whose ultimate objective is to disrupt the New Silk Road.

Commander Korsunov leads one of the 18 Cossack brigades in Makeevka; 240 of his soldiers are now involved in the Ukrainian civil war – some of them freshly returned from the cauldron in Debaltsevo. Some were formerly part of the Ukrainian Army, some worked in the security business. Korsunov and Ivlev insist all their fighters have jobs, even if unpaid – and have joined the Donetsk People’s Republic army as volunteers. “Somehow, they manage to survive.”

What’s so special about Cossack fighters? “It’s historical – we’ve always fought to defend our lands.” Commander Korsunov was a miner, now he’s on a pension – although for obvious reasons he’s receiving nothing from Poroshenko’s Kiev set up; only support from the Berkut group, the Ministry for Youth and Sports of the People’s Republic, and humanitarian food convoys from Russia.

Korsunov and Ivlev are convinced Minsk 2 will not hold; fierce fighting should resume “in a matter of weeks.” According to their best military intelligence, Kiev’s army, after the recent IMF loan, was allocated no less than $3.8 billion for weapons.

Checkpoint in Donetsk. (Photo: Pepe Escobar)
Checkpoint in Donetsk. (Photo: Pepe Escobar)

After Odessa”, they say – a reference to the massacre of civilians in May last year - Ukraine as we know it “is finished”. So what would be the best political solution for Donbass? Their priority is “to free all Ukraine from fascism.” And after victory, referenda should be held in all regions of the country. “People should vote for what they want; whether to remain in Ukraine, whether to align with Europe, or with Russia.” This implies advancing towards Western Ukraine across hostile territory; “We’re ready for five, seven years of war, it doesn’t matter.”

So even if a political solution might be possible on a distant horizon, they are preparing for a long war. The EU is “mistaken” to treat them as separatists and even terrorists. As for those elusive Russian tanks and soldiers relentlessly denounced by NATO, where are they? Hiding in the bushes? They laugh heartily – and we’re off to a countryside Cossack banquet.

Kiev wants war

Serbian fighter Dejan “Deki” Beric – a hero of the People’s Republic army, already decorated with 10 medals - fully shares the assessment of the Cossack commanders: “The real war has not started yet.”

There are 20 Serbs – all with extensive battle experience - fighting alongside the Donbass brigades. “Deki” has just returned from a secret hardcore recon mission, infiltrating enemy territory just to conclude they are bringing in fresh soldiers, bringing new technicians, and are awash with new weapons. Minsk 2 is about to the shredded to pieces.

Deki” shows absolutely harrowing personal footage shot with his mobile phone of the People’s Republic victory at the now fully destroyed Donetsk airport; the main scene (not fully uploaded to YouTube) starts with soldiers laughing, chatting and smoking and pans to dozens of scattered, lifeless bodies of Kiev’s forces.

Burying the dead: a hero of the People's Republic of Donetsk in Saur-mogila. (Photo: Pepe Escobar)
Burying the dead: a hero of the People's Republic of Donetsk in Saur-mogila. (Photo: Pepe Escobar)

Deki” confirms that even before last summer Kiev might have had no less than 20,000 dead. The absolute majority of soldiers he encountered were too scared to fight; in the Debaltsevo cauldron, “they didn’t even try to fight.”

Less than two weeks ago Ukrainian Prime Minister “Yats”, cherished pal of the American Queen of Nulandistan Victoria “F**k the EU”, made no mistake war is inevitable: “Our goal is to regain control of Donetsk and Lugansk.” Of course such a wide-ranging threat is possible only when you’re sure of total support from the IMF and NATO – financial and military arms from the US government. Not to mention Capitol Hill.

NATO has no proper intel agency of its own. NATO’s military intel is gathered by American, Brit or German agents – thus politically manipulated. That’s why NATO’s current Dr. Strangelove, Gen. Breedlove – call him Breedhate – is able to relentlessly spew out the same nonsense about “columns of Russian equipment - primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops” invading Ukraine over and over again, even as OSCE observers insist they have never seen them. And neither did this columnist.

Contrary to the assessment of both Cossack commanders and “Deki”, this concise analysis contends that neither side – Kiev or the Donbass armies – is about to launch a full offensive anytime soon. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of Donetsk is turbo-charging the political front. Foreign Minister Alexander Kofman – who confirms he’s having political discussions with members of some EU countries - says there are plans for a wide-ranging meeting in May, leading to the possible set up of an Institution of Unrecognized Nations which could include a lot of participants, from Donetsk and Lugansk to Catalonia and the Basque country.

And Kofman is adamant. He’d rather see the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as an independent country, not as part of Russia. But first, the war Kiev – and Washington - are so obsessed on winning has to end.

Pepe Escobar traveled to Donetsk at the invitation of German-based media project Europa Objektiv.