Hey, I get hundreds of e-mails from you all everyday, but I live at the poverty level on Social Security Disability. I'm also a veteran who has been waiting almost 6 years to get knee replacement surgery from the VA, so my life consists of me sitting at home, in extreme pain everyday and nothing else, and you wonder why 22 veterans a day commit suicide. Fucking help me, as you have all your rich wall street guys who can help you all, but quit bugging the shit out of me every single day for money---I DON"T HAVE ANY TO GIVE YOU ALL! PERIOD!
Monday, July 28, 2014
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Russia's swashbuckling military intelligence unit is full of assassins, arms dealers, and bandits. And what they pulled off in Ukraine was just the beginning.
BY Mark Galeotti | JULY 7, 2014
There are two ways an espionage agency can prove its worth to the government it serves. Either it can be truly useful (think: locating a most-wanted terrorist), or it can engender fear, dislike, and vilification from its rivals (think: being named a major threat in congressional testimony). But when a spy agency does both, its worth is beyond question.
Since the Ukraine crisis began, the Kremlin has few doubts about the importance of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence apparatus. The agency has not only demonstrated how the Kremlin can employ it as an important foreign-policy tool, by ripping a country apart with just a handful of agents and a lot of guns. The GRU has also shown the rest of the world how Russia expects to fight its future wars: with a mix of stealth, deniability, subversion, and surgical violence. Even as GRU-backed rebel groups in eastern Ukraine lose ground in the face of Kiev's advancing forces, the geopolitical landscape has changed. The GRU is back in the global spook game and with a new playbook that will be a challenge for the West for years to come.
Recent years had not been kind to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, the Glavnoe razvedyvatelnoe upravlenie (GRU). Once, it had been arguably Russia's largest intelligence agency, with self-contained stations -- known as "residencies" -- in embassies around the world, extensive networks of undercover agents, and nine brigades of special forces known as Spetsnaz.
By the start of 2013, the GRU was on the ropes. Since 1992, the agency had been in charge of operations in the post-Soviet countries, Russia's "near abroad." But Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have seen it as increasingly unfit for that purpose. When the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's domestic security agency, was allowed to run operations abroad openly in 2003, one insider told me that this was because "the GRU doesn't seem to know how to do anything in our neighborhood except count tanks." (It may not even have done that very well. Putin regarded the GRU as partly responsible for Russia's lackluster performance in the 2008 invasion of Georgia.) There was a prevailing view in Moscow that the GRU's focus on gung-ho "kinetic operations" like paramilitary hit squads seemed less relevant in an age of cyberwar and oil politics.
Political missteps also contributed to the GRU's diminished role. Valentin Korabelnikov, the agency's chief from 1997 to 2009, seemed more comfortable accompanying Spetsnaz assassination teams in Chechnya than playing palace politics in Moscow. His criticisms of Putin's military reforms put him on the Kremlin's bad side too. Korabelnikov was sacked in 2009 and replaced with soon-to-be-retired Col. Gen. Alexander Shlyakhturov, who, within two years, was rarely seen in the GRU's headquarters due to his bad health. In December 2011 the GRU welcomed its third head in nearly three years, Maj. Gen. Igor Sergun, a former attaché and intelligence officer with no combat experience and the lowest-ranking head of the service in decades. By the end of 2013, the Kremlin seemed to be entertaining the suggestion that the agency be demoted from a "main directorate" to a mere directorate, which would have been a massive blow to the service's prestige and political access.
In many ways, a demotion for the GRU seemed inevitable. Since 2008, the GRU had suffered a savage round of cuts during a period when most of Russia's security and intelligence agencies' budgets enjoyed steady increases. Eighty of its hundred general-rank officers had been sacked, retired, or transferred. Most of the Spetsnaz were reassigned to the regular army. Residencies were downsized, sometimes even to a single officer working undercover as a military attaché.
What a difference a few months can make. What the Kremlin had once seen as the GRU's limitations -- a focus on the "near abroad," a concentration on violence over subtlety, a more swashbuckling style (including a willingness to conduct assassinations abroad) -- have become assets.
The near-bloodless seizure of Crimea in March was based on plans drawn up by the General Staff's Main Operations Directorate that relied heavily on GRU intelligence. The GRU had comprehensively surveyed the region, was watching Ukrainian forces based there, and was listening to their communications. The GRU didn't only provide cover for the "little green men" who moved so quickly to seize strategic points on the peninsula before revealing themselves to be Russian troops. Many of those operatives were current or former GRU Spetsnaz.
There is an increasing body of evidence that the so-called defense minister of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic, Igor Strelkov, whose real name is Igor Girkin, is a serving or reserve GRU officer, who likely takes at the very least guidance, if not orders, from the agency's headquarters. As a result, the European Union has identified him as GRU "staff" and has placed him on its sanctions list. Although the bulk of the insurgents in eastern Ukraine appear to be Ukrainians or Russian "war tourists" -- encouraged, armed, and facilitated by Moscow -- there also appear to be GRU operators on the ground helping to bring guns and people across the border.
It was only when the Vostok Battalion appeared in eastern Ukraine at the end of May that the GRU's full re-emergence became clear. This separatist group bears the same name as a GRU-sponsored Chechen unit that was disbanded in 2008. This new brigade -- composed largely of the same fighters from Chechnya -- seemed to spring from nowhere, uniformly armed and mounted in armored personnel carriers. Its first act was to seize the administration building in Donetsk, turfing out the motley insurgents who had made it their headquarters. Having established its credentials as the biggest dog in the pack, Vostok began recruiting Ukrainian volunteers to make up for Chechens who quietly drifted home.
Alexander Khodakovsky, a defector from the Security Service of Ukraine, subsequently announced that he was the battalion's commander. But this only happened a few days after the seizure of the Donetsk headquarters. The implication is that the battalion was originally commanded by GRU representatives. Vostok appears intended not so much to fight the regular Ukrainian forces -- though it has -- but rather to serve as a skilled and disciplined enforcer of Moscow's authority over the militias if need be.
The Vostok Battalion makes Moscow's strategy clear: The Kremlin has no desire for outright military conflict in its neighbors. Instead, the kind of "non-linear war" being waged in Ukraine, which blends outright force, misinformation, political and economic pressure, and covert operations, will likely be its means of choice in the future. These are the kinds of operations in which the GRU excels.
After all, while Moscow is not going to abandon its claims to being a global power, in the immediate future Russia's foreign-policy focus will clearly be building and maintaining its hegemony in Eurasia. These are also the areas where the GRU is strongest. For example, in Kazakhstan, whose Russian-heavy northern regions are a potential future target for similar political pressure through local minorities, the GRU is the lead intelligence provider, as its civilian counterpart, the SVR, is technically barred from operating in Kazakhstan or any of the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States by the 1992 Alma-Ata Declaration.
The combination of these factors means that the GRU now looks far more comfortable and confident than it did a year ago. Kiev outed and expelled a naval attaché from the Russian Embassy as a GRU officer, and Sergun, the GRU's head, made it onto the list of officials under Western sanctions. But neither of these actions has done the agency any harm. If anything, they have increased the GRU's prestige.
Talk of downgrading the GRU's status is conspicuously absent in Moscow circles. The agency's restored status means it is again a player in the perennial turf wars within the Russian intelligence community. More importantly, it means that GRU operations elsewhere in the world are likely to be expanded again and to regain some of their old aggression.
The GRU's revival also demonstrates that the doctrine of "non-linear war" is not just an ad hoc response to the particularities of Ukraine. This is how Moscow plans to drive forward its interests in today's world. The rest of the world has not realized this now, even though Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov spelled it out in an obscure Russian military journal last year. He wrote that the new way of war involves "the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures … supplemented by military means of a covert nature character," not least with the use of special forces.
This kind of conflict will be fought by spies, commandos, hackers, dupes, and mercenaries -- exactly the kind of operatives at the GRU's disposal. Even after the transfer of most Spetsnaz out of the GRU's direct chain of command, the agency still commands elite special forces trained for assassination, sabotage, and misdirection, as Ukraine shows. The GRU has also demonstrated a willingness to work with a wide range of mavericks. In Chechnya, it raised not just the Vostok Battalion but other units of defectors from guerrillas and bandits. The convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout is generally accepted to have been a part-time GRU asset too. The GRU is less picky than most intelligence agencies about who is cooperates with, which also means that it is harder to be sure who is working for them.
NATO and the West still have no effective response to this development. NATO, a military alliance built to respond to direct and overt aggression, has already found itself at a loss on how to deal with virtual attacks, such as the 2007 cyberattack on Estonia. The revival of the GRU's fortunes promises a future in which the Cold War threat of tanks spilling across the border is replaced by a new kind of war, combining subterfuge, careful cultivation of local allies, and covert Spetsnaz strikes to achieve the Kremlin's political aims. NATO may be stronger in strictly military terms, but if Russia can open political divisions in the West, carry out deniable operations using third-party combatants, and target strategic individuals and facilities, it doesn't really matter who has more tanks and better fighter jets. This is exactly what the GRU is tooling up to do.
Original article located here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/07/putins_secret_weapon_military_intelligence_gru_ukraine
Photo by VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Sir Nicholas Winton who organized the rescue and passage to Britain of
about 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian children destined for the Nazi
death camps before World War II in an operation known as the Czech
Kindertransport. This video is the BBC Programme "That's Life" aired in
1988. The most touching video ever.
Sir Nicholas Winton is a humanitarian who organized a rescue operation that saved the lives of 669 Jewish Czechoslovakia children from Nazi death camps, and brought them to the safety of Great Britain between the years 1938-1939.
After the war, his efforts remained unknown. But in 1988, Winston’s wife Grete found the scrapbook from 1939 with the complete list of children’s names and photos. This is a clip of a video where Sir Nicholas Winton is sitting in an audience of Jewish Czechoslovakian people who he saved 50 years before.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
"The Poor Have It Easy? Yup, Conservatives Are Giant Jerks & ClueLESS. Who Is Surprised?"
Author: Gloria Christie June 29, 2014 8:42 pm
Poverty is simple. Poor people don’t try hard enough to help themselves and like the good “easy” welfare life.
Democrats don’t get Republicans’ views on poverty. They might as well be speaking Romanian or Ukrainian for that matter. So how about a bit of translation?
In Republicanland there is a village of hyper-lazy people, aka The Lazies. They live in someone else’s house, eat their food, sleep until noon and lay around the rest of the day taking drugs or indulging in some other form of entertainment.
Most of us know someone like that both Democrats and Republicans. The Lazies are too lazy to pick a party – the kid who never wants to leave home or the spoiled sister who sits around eating bon-bons (whatever those are) while her husband works all day and cleans house and the kids all night. We resent them. We have to work, why don’t they? We despise them. After all, lazy people are kind of disgusting. And in a way, we envy them. It would be nice to stay home once in a while. Who doesn’t wish they could get out from under all that responsibility once in a while? And let someone else do the cooking and cleaning!
But Republicanland draws KIS. Not the rock group. No the “Keep It Simple” crowd. Life is busy. There isn’t enough time for family, work and home let alone getting ahead in life and dealing with childhood diseases. So the simple party messages are good. They are easy to remember and sound plausible. They are also convenient lies built upon a shaky foundation of rotten statistics.
That allows lies to run rampant across the Republicanland countryside.
- Welfare costs $1 trillion. I know, because the Cato Institute tells me so. If the more accurate figure is $212 billion, who is going to quibble?
- The reason people are poor is that all poor people are lazy. They all have character flaws. If the government would just kick them out, they would have to get a job.
- Big government is an all-consuming monster throwing the people’s money all over the place. And don’t want to hear that poverty programs are 90-95% efficient programs with minimal overhead costs – even though they are.
- Free stuff makes people complacent. It is just too disgusting to look too deeply into the poverty pot where the food doesn’t last until the end of the month, the car breaks down and can’t be replace and “never enough” means “never good credit.” And it is too disturbing to believe most people wouldn’t want to live in poverty given the choice.
The problem in Republicanland is that poverty is not simple. It can’t be broken down into “the poor have it easy” and “a lack of effort” causes poverty.
Those who have the real power know that it is wiser to have their minions fighting amongst themselves that with them. So it behooves those in power to have Republicans and Democrats going at it tooth and nail.
What if both parties turned to the real source of their economic strife? What if they figured out how to deal with those who squeeze every spare cent (and half-cent fraction) out of the economy:
- Who caused the housing bubble to burst?
- Who is undermining the unions?
- Who siphoned off all the business and union retirement packages?
- Who is responsible for the low-end and high-end influx of foreign workers?
- Who is pricing education out of the reach of most American kids?
- Who is forcing the minimum wage down to the low-end of the pool?
- Who is convincing the public that it is okay for them to work 30 hours more per week for a salary than it was three or four decades ago?
- Who exported all the good jobs and called it NAFTA and is trying for the same deal in the Pacific?
- Who changed the bankruptcy laws to benefit everyone but the person filing?
- Who let a stunning infrastructure wither and die when no one was looking?
- Who thought up contracting out government and business jobs to strip off all benefits?
- Who is creating the sound-bite simple lies like, “If you work hard, you’ll get somewhere,” or Trickle-down Economics works?”
In the “Leave It To Beaver” age, employees trusted their company to take care of them if they worked hard. When that changed and companies were out for companies, employees were slow to divest themselves of that lie. Maybe it’s time to figure out more. So we can explain it to the Republicans.
There is public agreement that the U.S. economic system unfairly favors powerful interests, and even more Americans believe that large corporations in this country are too powerful. But on both issues, Business Conservatives offer strongly dissenting views; they are the only typology group in which a majority sees the economic system as fundamentally fair.
Overall, the public has long been split over government assistance to the poor and needy. Yet while attitudes about the social safety net generally divide the right from the left, the Next Generation Left stand out among Democratically-oriented groups for their opposition to increased assistance to the needy if it means adding to the nation’s debt.
Overall, 62% of Americans say this country’s economic system “unfairly favors powerful interests,” compared with just 34% who think the system “is generally fair to most Americans.” There is variance in opinions about economic fairness among Democratically-oriented groups. For instance, while 88% of Solid Liberals say the economic system is unfair, only about half (51%) of the Faith and Family Left agree.
Yet Business Conservatives are the only group – on the right or left – in which most believe the economic system is fair to most people. Fully 67% say the economic system is fair to most Americans, and 47% of Steadfast Conservatives agree. Among the GOP-leaning Young Outsiders, just 29% think the system is fair while more than twice as many (69%) do not.
As their name implies, Business Conservatives also have much more positive views of major corporations than do other Americans. Fully 57% think that the largest companies do not have too much power; no more than one-in-four in other typology groups share this view. Even among Steadfast Conservatives, 71% say large corporations are too powerful.
However, there is greater agreement among the two conservative groups about whether corporate profits are appropriate: Majorities of both Business Conservatives (86%) and Steadfast Conservatives (62%) say “most corporations make a fair and reasonable amount of profit.” This view is shared far less widely among other typology groups: Majorities of Solid Liberals (80%), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (79%), and Young Outsiders (66%) say corporations “make too much profit.” But the Faith and Family Left and Next Generation Left are more divided; a narrow majority of the Faith and Family Left (54%) and half of the Next Generation Left (50%) say corporate profits are excessive.
Not only do Business Conservatives have the most positive views of corporations, they also are more likely than other typology groups to say that Wall Street helps more than hurts the U.S. economy. But in this case, they are joined by a 56% majority of the Next Generation Left.
Overall, 45% say Wall Street helps the U.S. economy more than it hurts, while about as many (42%) say it hurts the economy more than it helps. Views of Wall Street have improved since 2012, when more saw it as having a net negative than net positive impact (48%-36%).
Majorities of Business Conservatives (74%) and the Next Generation Left (56%) think that Wall Street does more to help the economy. The most negative views of Wall Street’s effect on the economy come from Solid Liberals (56% hurt more than help) and Hard-Pressed Skeptics (54%). The three other groups have more divided views of Wall Street’s impact.
Government Aid to the Poor
Views of government aid to the poor are much more polarized along partisan lines than attitudes about the fairness of the economic system. Groups on the right overwhelmingly believe government aid to the poor does more harm than good, while those on the left say it has a positive impact.
Fully 86% of Steadfast Conservatives and Young Outsiders, along with 80% of Business Conservatives, say government aid to the poor does more harm than good by making people too dependent on government assistance. Majorities in the three Democratically-oriented groups, as well as the Democratic-leaning Hard-Pressed Skeptics, express the opposite view—that government aid to the poor does more good than harm because people can’t get out of poverty until their basic needs are met.
However, while most of the Next Generation Left (68%) support government aid to the poor in principle, they balk at the costs to the federal government. Overall, 56% say that the government can’t afford to do much more to help the needy, while fewer (39%) say the government should do more to help the needy even if it means going deeper into debt.
By contrast, majorities of Solid Liberals (83%), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (66%) and the Faith and Family Left (58%) all say the government should do more to help needy Americans even if it results in more debt.
Views of Poverty and the Poor
The public is split in their views of whether government aid to the poor is justified: While 44% say the poor “have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return,” about as many (47%) believe poor people “have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently.”
Wide majorities of Steadfast Conservatives (86%) and Business Conservatives (77%) say poor people have it easy; they are joined in this view by 81% of the Republican-leaning Young Outsiders. By contrast, 86% of Solid Liberals think the poor have hard lives and that benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently; 71% of Hard-Pressed Skeptics agree. Smaller majorities of the Faith and Family Left (62%) and the Next Generation Left (54%) also say this.
There is a similar pattern in opinions about why a person is poor: Overall, 50% say it is more often because of circumstances beyond an individual’s control; 39% think a lack of effort is more to blame. Majorities of Steadfast Conservatives (61%), Business Conservatives (58%) and Young Outsiders (56%) say a lack of effort is more often to blame for why a person is poor.
Among Democratically-oriented groups, 86% of Solid Liberals and 62% of the Faith and Family Left say that the poor have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently; 71% of Hard-Pressed Skeptics also express this view. But the Next Generation Left are more conflicted in their views: About as many say a lack of effort is usually to blame for why a person is poor (42%) as say poverty is the result of circumstances outside of one’s control (47%).
Does Hard Work Lead to Success?
Americans continue to offer broad support for the idea that hard work leads to success in this country. Nearly two-thirds of the public (65%) say most people who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard, while just 32% say hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.
However, majorities of two typology groups – Hard-Pressed Skeptics and Solid Liberals – reject the American ideal that hard work is all it takes to succeed.
Hard-Pressed Skeptics face the most difficult financial circumstances of all the typology groups and 65% say hard work is no guarantee of success, compared with just 32% who say most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard.
Solid Liberals are a relatively affluent group, but by a 67%-29% margin, they also do not believe that hard work can guarantee success for most people.
Across the five other typology groups, at least three-quarters say most people who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard. The Democratically-oriented Faith and Family Left and Next Generation Left are about as likely to hold this view as the three Republican-oriented groups.