Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scrapyard Ukrainia

 The figure of 40 000 armored fighting vehicles has been used to describe what the armed forces of Ukraine inherited from the old Soviet Western Army Group, when the USSR fragmented in 1992. Obviously more tanks than Germany started, or ended, the Second war with, was a few too many for any nation not threatened by an armored onslaught.

 So, for the better part of 20 years what they couldn't peddle to African fighters (or to resupplying new found US allies in Iraq and Afghanistan)  the Ukraine mothballed in gigantic tank parks.  Thank goodness the Ukraine had developed a fairly robust 'refurbishment' for export industry.

  Until this year Ukraine wasn't threatened by anything much worse than the utilities being turned-off for lack of payments. But things change and so, when a threat from Moscow was detected, the Ukraine went into overdrive to mobilize its armed forces - to "defend" itself, and to "defend" itself by putting down an separatist movement in the eastern part of the country. It didn't take long for the natives there to begin to block Ukrainian tank columns, but when they didn't stop,  burning AFV's became more and more common place. In fact, as time passed and actual fighting worsened, they became 'normal'.

 The 'active war' ended in a welter of destruction as 'Russians' attacked and destroyed numerous concentrations of Ukrainian vehicles leaving burned and rusting hulks spread over the better part of two eastern regions.

This past year has made that refurbishment industry probably Ukraine's only real 'growth' sector, aside from flags, politics, entertainment and Public utilities. Sadly the 'new production' centres of the east have largely been removed from the economic picture for the foreseeable future. But that hasn't stopped Kyiv from trying. A recent 'independence day parade' featured the latest models rolling off the assembly line, down the parade route and off to battle in the east. Some of these fell victim to increasingly well-armed rebels in the great August pay-back.

Scrapyard EUkrainia

Cleaning up after all this will cost as least as much as was spent doing it. and unless the price of steel rises significantly retrieving and scrapping the detritus of battle will cost more than the junk is worth. 

There's another object lesson about the value of modern war in all this. It sure isn't like the 'glory' of grandad's day - except to the recruiters. But it is a profit-taking opportunity to savvy investors in the right place at the right time with the right junk to peddle .... as always.

Bowling for Ebola

This thoroughly nasty affliction has made a reappearance in Africa with every sign that this time the benefits of modern communications will share the wealth with the whole world. A previous outbreak in central Africa during the 80's served only to point out the nature of the disease and the potential it had as a people killer. Military germ warfare experts were immediately interested. This time, unless they're directed toward disease control, the same sort of experts were among the first deployed to the sites involved. But this time seems to be different.

Although the world seemed as interested this time as it had been last time, the outbreak of disease got well out of control long before it was noticed. Possibly because of recent disturbances and changes to the  social milieu in these places, the 'missionary clinic' system that worked so well to isolate, if not to treat and stop, the last instance, didn't seem to work, or might have been (in the case of west Africa) missing in action. Church groups which in previous times might have formed the first line of defense may have been superceded by NGOs with less 'long-term' perspectives, or, in the 'free market' aspect of things, nothing at all.

What is interesting to me is that it happened again at all. Ebola is rooted in the practice of eating, or acquiring, "bush meat' - animals foraged for food in the African wild. It is thought that an ebola-like illness is endemic in some populations of apes and monkeys used as food by 'primitive' Africans. It strikes me that, if this is a 'new' development twenty years seems long enough a period to educate people about the dangers of the practice and the effects and symptoms of the disease.  When a sore throat and head ache result in somebody bleeding from body orifices and dying, even the most primitive people would notice. It probably wouldn't take overly long for the problem to become known, resulting in the kind of  'quarantine' that 'primitive' people have applied to the contagious for millennia.

Perhaps in these more enlightened times that natural barrier to epidemic has been breached by a misplaced concern for human rights.

We know that the hospital 'protocols' in regard to transmitted infection - being re-learned after the 'panacea epoch' of anti-bacterials, are challenged by viral diseases like Ebola. And if the trained front-line professionals get sick first, who is to replace them?

Prognosticators are describing a 'gets worse, before it gets better' scenario and the head of the World Bank has already started to consider the costs involved should the disease break out in 'advanced societies'.

One thing that seems apparent is that, barring the  planned destruction of disease centers and threatened populations by military force, all the trillions we've wasted lately on bang-bang  and boom-boom pale to insignificant waste in consideration that one fifth that amount might have moved 'primitive' societies well beyond the need to hunt bush meat.

 That the world is as unprepared as it was before is also surprising. Ebola cold be a cutting edge military weapon. But all such weapons must be developed in such a way that the user isn't as affected by them as the target. So since the last outbreak I would imagine that military labs at least would have been working on immunization schedules. Many such virus-based diseases, like polio, have been attenuated by vaccine development. Such vaccines and treatments must have been in the works as some successful ones were available to the first western victims. Survivors might be a source of useful anti-bodies, and in one case those have been used.

One of the interesting asides in this is the news that a vaccine for ebola has been 'shelved' for the past 15 years. Development of that was stopped after  tests indicated it was effective on monkeys. Now it's being 'rushed through development'  to test it on humans, But that will take some time.  In the meantime local doctors are hoping to use blood serum from recovered victims.

Western governmental sources are cautioning against a 'stupid' response to the outbreak. At the same time those sources seem to be thoroughly out of touch with the front line which has bobbled, and now admits 'mishandling' the original out break.  New cases demonstrate a seemingly cavalier attitude to the potential for a mass break-out as exposed people seem free to travel (in the latest instant on a cruise ship) while official sources caution that the 'incubation period' for ebola - thought to be 21days - might be significantly longer. Next they'll be finding that, like AIDS, the disease can be transmitted before the carrier actually feels any  ill effects. That would make airport temperature scans akin to chasing the horse twenty minutes after it has exited the corral.

What's most scary is that, for all our 'knowledge', we seem to know little at all. Or at least to know too little to say ' Ebola is nothing to worry about'.  It might very well be the 'big one' they've been expecting for so long - mishandled, we could make it so.

Perhaps even more concerning is the amount of international inertia about providing resources to Africa and the fact that 'ebola stories' seem to have become 'yesterday's news'  and much less 'emotional' issues for the mainstream media.

Anyhoo Akbar!

Homegrown terror has struck at the 'heart of Canada's democracy'. And in the aftermath, Canada's real democrats are preparing some 'very sound' steps to keep us all free. The first step is a serious funding increase for CSIS and the RCMP and probably for a 'new' security organization to 'fill the gaps' that CSIS and the RCMP seem to feel are 'wide open', namely on the internet.

Just last week the head of CSIS and the 'big stick' of the RCMP with the Minister of War,  Mr. Blarney, were comfortably ensconced before some parliamentary committee , reporting on the state of state security. There were 'areas of concern', they noted, but nothing that was 'beyond them'. They were still there when some ''radicalized" Quebecois ran over two soldiers at a Strip Mall in St. Jean, Que.

After that attack, the state security organs were quick off the mark to decry the 'self-radicalization' that resulted in 'terror attacks'. But once again, they were 'on it', having had the 'perp' in their sights and under observation for 'quite some time'. It's just unfortunate they weren't told of his jihadi plans, or watching him the day he did it. Some 80 such 'radicals were similarly in their sights, we were told - not to frighten, simply to inform.

 Then a 'gentleman of the streets' with what could be jihadi delusions of grandeur, or mental issues, shot a soldier guarding the War Memorial in Ottawa. He hen followed-up with what was described as a 'shooting spree' in the Houses of Parliament. That 'spree' resulted in one parliamentary guard shot in the foot, the shootist shot dead and the Sargent-at-Arms of the House of Commons probably in line for the Medallion of Fortitude, or whatever Canada calls its security-level VC.

Oh, and a 'world class' police security operation.

That truly put the wind up State Security - for they had to admit they hadn't the foggiest about what was going on.  US security even told them who the shootist was - apparently based on a photo that went up, and then down again, on an "Isis-related twitter account". It seems that the shooter may have stolen a rifle and ammo from a visit to his Aunt last week, for, according to  everybody, his police records and other proclivities would have banned him from gun ownership eternally, in Canada anyway. After he stole the gun he then must have posed for a selfie of himself holding it. If he didn't practice with it somewhere, the shooting of the guard might be classed as accidental, for he held that gun in a way that, if fired, could hurt someone, likely himself.

(The photo, above, which appeared on Canadian media within an hour of the incident and was attributed to “an ISIS twitter account”, now is being claimed to have been taken, at the cenotaph, during the incident, by a "tourist",  and forwarded to 'security'.
It was disseminated to emergency services to assist apprehension of the assailant. From there it was, apparently, forwarded to foreign intelligence  (the US identified the shooter)  and leaked to the press. Police are investigating how the leak occurred and by whom.)

Updated security cam ( quite a bit of it for low security Canada) is appearing. It shows the shooter arriving by car (his own) before the legislature, scattering a covey of parliamentarians and doing a windsprint up to the main driveway where he hijacks a limo and speeds off to the centre entrance, by now pursued by two RCMP units.

He 'dumps' the limo and sprints into the building, just ahead of the pursuing police, where we are told,  he had a 'firefight' with the door security, shooting one guard in the foot. He then 'escaped' down a hallway in a flurry of shots. He took up a hidden position in a nook by the parliamentary library door. At that point video shows security advancing down the hall toward him. In the meanwhile the Sargent-at-Arms of the legislature, a dignified looking ex-RCMP gent, hearing the shots, exited his office near the library with his service pistol in hand. Warned of the gunman's location, he took position on the other side of a pillar forming the 'nook'. It was reported that he could see the barrel of the gunman's Winchester protruding past the pillar. Diving to the floor, we are told, the Sargent rolled onto his back discharging his pistol and dropping the shooter. He then emptied his clip into the man, as other personnel appeared to join him in the fusillade. The video ended with the Sargent at Arms looking very cool indeed, pistol still in hand entering the Caucus chamber to inform the government that the assailant was dead.

The parliament building remained in lockdown until after sunset and the gunman's corpse was removed later in the evening. Work crews worked overnight to clean up and mask some significant damage from gunshots.

Parliament resumed its business on Thursday morning after a suitable dignified visit and photo-op at the War Memorial. A man was arrested by police for 'interfering with a police investigation' by crossing the yellow tape, much as the Prime Minister and his wife did. The Sargent at Arms was regaled to a thunderous standing ovation and a desktop-slamming by the grateful politicos. He was visibly moved by the tribute.

No doubt the impending legislation - which has been in the works for some time, will save us all from internet piracy if it does nothing else.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's All Over .... but for the Shooting

The great Ukrainian adventure takes a rest. If nothing else, here's a 'landmark' for the 'propaganda' it has produced. Here are some:


        Saur Mogila monument

 And Afterward

The war Memorial on a the greatest height of land outside Donetsk became the focal point of bitter fighting after the Kyiv forces closed in on that city. The Monument was shelled and taken by the Ukrainians,  It was then shelled and retaken by the 'rebels' at the end of August, just as things were 'going south' for the 'good guys.

It is now a monument to the Civil War of 2014.

Grads at Saur Mogila

Slava Eukrainia!

Saur Mogila - finale?

Along with Saur Mogila are the corpses and the scrap metal.

After the 'liberation' of Slavyansk unmarked graves were discovered, the dead in which were described, by Kyiv forces  as being executed by the 'terrorists'. Three particular members of an evangelical church were so described as "being killed for their flashy cars". Mass arrests of rebel 'sympathizers' were also recorded. and an Ukrainian 'pol' (Oleh Lyashko) traveled to the city to personally 'arrest' the chief of police, for treachery.

Global Research: War Crimes

Donetsk continues to be a center focus for the unresolved ceasefire, with rebel forces continuing to try to winkle Ukrainian forces out of the airport and the Kyiv forces harassing the city and its environs with random shell fire. Since the ceasefire more than 30 civilians have been killed in, or near, Donetsk and the airport fighting has taken the lives of between 10's and 100's (depending who's telling) of  military personnel. The airport facilities have, for all intents and purposes, been destroyed.

In abeyance - a permanent political solution, Ukraine's fuel crisis, war crimes charges on both sides and the resolution of the  MH17 atrocity.