Streetwise Professor

March 22, 2014

Further Thoughts on Whether Gunvor is Done For

Filed under: Commodities,Economics,Energy,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 4:19 pm

A couple of stray thoughts regarding the Gunvor story.

First, virtually all of the oil trade (and the global commodities trade generally) is done in dollars.  Gunvor needs dollar financing to carry out its trading.  Anything done in dollars puts the provider of the dollar finance in the crosshairs of a panoply of US regulators.

Case in point is RBS, which paid $100 million in settlements to the Fed and the New York Department of Financial Services for violating sanctions on Iran, Burma, Sudan, and Cuba.  One law firm concluded:

A lesson that foreign financial institutions and other multinational companies should draw from these cases is that they continue to face significant risk if they engage in any business related to parties or countries (particularly Iran, Cuba and Sudan) that are restricted under US economic sanctions provisions, even if their activities may have appeared to be lawful at the time.  Such activities create risk when they have even a minimal nexus with the United States, including clearing financial transactions in US dollars, furnishing financial services through institutions in the United States, processing payments through foreign branches of US financial institutions, or knowingly relying on services provided by US persons anywhere in the world to facilitate, participate in, approve, or support restricted transactions.

Foreign persons providing a variety of financial services, including banking, money remittance, insurance, reinsurance, investment, foreign exchange, mortgages and secured transaction/letter of credit services, should recognize the inherent US enforcement risk in concealing or intentionally omitting identifying information from payment messages involving a sanctioned country, entity or person, when the transaction has some nexus to the United States or US persons (including US dollar exchange).  Deceptive activity also formed the basis for part of the recent settlement against Weatherford International Ltd. (see our advisory on Weatherford). [Emphasis added.]

To reiterate.  A “minimal nexus” with the US puts a foreign financial institution at risk when it deals with a sanctioned entity.

Here is an Economist piece on how the US uses merely touching a dollar as a basis for aggressive prosecution.  Here is the Telegraph screeching about how the US has extracted billions of dollars in settlements from British banks for engaging in transactions in dollars.

The basic issue is that any transactions done in US dollars, even between foreign entities, have a US bank involved at some point to process the dollar transactions.  You do a deal in dollars with a US-sanctioned entity, you are at huge risk of prosecution.

The implication is that even if Gunvor deals only with non-US banks, as long as it deals in dollars, if the firm becomes a sanctioned entity anyone who is on the other side of the dollar transaction is at risk.  FUD is most acute with any transaction that touches the dollar.  And you can’t engage in the international oil trade (or commodities trade generally) without dealing in dollars.

Second, a somewhat related issue. Let’s say that Törnqvist really did buy out Timchenko’s shares.  Let’s say he didn’t pay with a note.  Where can Timchenko stash the cash? Paying in Euros or CHF could perhaps avoid the problems discussed above, but even so, what western financial institution wants to take Timchenko’s money?  Even Sberbank might have some reservations.

 

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48 Comments »

  1. SWP, been following all of your posts.

    You may have already seen this, you probably have:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/russia-sanctions-could-backfire-104905.html?ml=m_t3_2h#.Uy4WfNsvD3B

    Here’s something that occurs to me – even if Putler succeeds in “de-offshorerizatsiya”, even if money comes back to the Rasha, what would it be invested in, and why would they expect a return?

    At any moment, the psychopath Vlad Dracul Putler could take it away. And where would any return on investment come from?

    To expand this just a little bit, on Friday, March 21, on the Savik Shuster show in Ukraine (link is 3s.tv), Yulia Tymoshenko pointed out, quite rightly, that one would have to be crazy to get intertwined with Putler.

    There are repeated on again, off again, trade wars. Various products get “banned” for “health reasons” by the Rasha.

    Then, of course, there is the matter of sending provocateurs and “little green men” – the Ukrainian term of the “non-military military” that invaded from the Rasha.

    Ukraine, of course, has had its own huge corruption problems, including parking money in Cyprus and elsewhere.

    But why would anyone want to park money in the Rasha, especially when Putler threatens to expropriate assets, not only of “foreign” companies, but also Rashan companies?

    The poor, poor Rashan oligarchs, seems to me, are between a rock and a hard place.

    Sanctions from the west, which are indeed having their effect, with more to come, and “sanctions” from Putler.

    Comment by elmer — March 23, 2014 @ 8:18 am

  2. Well looks like another victory for Putin may well turn into a running wound.

    In addition I was amused to read about the reaction of Russian mothers in Crimea to the news that their sons would have to serve in Chechnya….

    But anyway here is the article on the costs of annexing Crimea

    Capital flight from Russia reached $35 billion in the first two months of this year, Russian Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev said this week.

    That outflow has only increased in recent weeks and by the end of the first quarter, it could exceed the $65 billion capital-flight figure recorded for all of 2013, analysts say.

    This trend — and other factors including likely international sanctions, the falling value of the ruble, and the costs of integrating Crimea into the Russian economy — could tip the sluggish Russian economy into recession.

    “The sum of these factors — the decline in investment and a slowdown in consumer demand — in my view will mean that the economy is on the edge of a recession,” says Kirill Tremasov, an economist with Nomos-Bank in Moscow. “Although you can still hear predictions from government bureaucrats that the economy might grow by 2 or 3 percent, I think these predictions are completely unfounded.”

    The ruble lost about 6 percent of its value in the second half of 2013, and that fall has accelerated to an additional 10 percent so far this year. As a result, the Russian Central Bank has intervened strongly in the currency market and has raised its base interest rate from 5.5 percent to 7 percent. The last time the bank made such a dramatic change in interest rates was shortly before the government’s default in August 1998.

    Slight Growth Potential

    Natalya Orlova, the chief economist at Alfa-Bank in Moscow, is concerned about the developments, but still sees some economic growth. “In February we saw a higher-than-expected growth in domestic consumption. Therefore, overall, we are predicting some GDP growth this year. It could be about 1 percent,” she says. “Of course, we really need to see the March figures, which will show us the indirect effect that raising interests rates is having on the economy.”

    Aleksei Devyatov, chief economist of the Uralsib Kaptial investment house, agrees with the 1 percent growth prognosis. However he worries that further erosion of investor confidence “will put considerable pressure on the Russian economy.” He notes that investors “will view Russia has a country of growing risk” and that will result in higher borrowing costs throughout the economy.

    Partly because of the declining ruble, corporate debt in Russia — about one-third of which is denominated in dollars — has increased by about 10 percent.

    The fall of the ruble can have unpredictable consequences, analyst Tremasov says, because the exchange rate is constantly in the public’s mind. “This is the basic, psychological factor by which people judge whether there is a crisis in the country or not. Stocks might fall, bonds might fall, but this doesn’t particularly worry average citizens. The Russian population doesn’t invest much in securities,” he explains. “But absolutely everyone is watching the ruble-dollar exchange rate.”

    A Question Of Resources

    The incorporation of Crimea into the Russian economy will be a further significant drag on growth, analysts say. Before the annexation, Russia’s budget was slightly in deficit, according to Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. Already, 74 of Russia’s now 85 regions take more from the federal budget than they contribute, and Crimea is expected to join the ranks of the most heavily subsidized.

    About 560,000 of the region’s 2 million people are pensioners, many of them military veterans with enhanced benefits. In addition, there are roughly 200,000 state-sector employees in the region, meaning that over 40 percent of the peninsula’s population is directly dependent on budget spending.

    “Overall the present state of Crimea, by our analysis, makes it about an average subsidized Russian region — it is about at the same level as, say, the North Caucasus, Tuva, or Buryatia,” says Karen Vartapetov, an analyst at the Moscow office of the Standard & Poor’s rating agency. “That is, by its average income, pensions, and per capita GDP, it roughly corresponds to those regions.”

    Vartapetov says the “minimal estimate” of the direct budget subsidies for the Black Sea peninsula, even without the tax breaks and special subsidies that have been discussed in recent weeks, would be about $1.1 billion annually.

    He adds, however, that the resources in Russia’s Reserve Fund and National Welfare Fund are sufficient to meet this burden. But using these resources to subsidize Crimea could prompt difficult queries from other Russian regions.

    About 15 Russian regions have debts that are near the legal maximum of 100 percent of revenues, Vartapetov notes. “The federal authorities are going to have a hard time explaining to the regions who are in such dire financial straits why they are not getting any help, while some new subject of the federation is,” he adds.

    In the last week, two leading international ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, reduced Russia’s rating from “stable” to “negative.” Both agencies, in their announcements, cited worries about the possibility of broad economic sanctions being imposed against Russia by western countries.

    http://www.rferl.mobi/a/russia-crimea-annexation-economy-weak/25306162.html

    Comment by Andrew — March 23, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  3. Basically correct — the scope and depth of US Export Controls is breathtaking for anyone concerned with extraterritorial law. And longstanding — at least since 1790, US exporting has been a “privilige”, not right.

    I am trained as part of my dayjob to avoid my co. running afoul of these laws.
    GECs like Cuba/Iran/Syria, HRCs like N.Korea, Sudan, etc and the fine-pointed “Denied Parties List” are all targets.

    “Facilitating foreign trade” covers banking, but AFAIK London has escaped (up until recent EU sanctions on Iran) as a non-US person. They offer USD-denominated bank accounts (petro/eurodollars) and service by clearing any USD checks/xfrs between themselves or via their NYC balances to clear others. In theory, the NYC banks should deny any controlled transactions, but they don’t see any due to the netting in London. All they see is “Barkley’s pay HSBC $$$”.

    Slamming Iran-style sanctions on Russia would take EU&GB cooperation, neither of which is forthcoming. The US could flip out and put London banks on the “Denied Parties List” but it would have to put them all on, and this would kill world trade until a new clearing center could be set up (not NYC, most likely London in Euros).

    Comment by Robert in Houston — March 23, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  4. @elmer. You are right. The oligarchs have their money outside Russia precisely because it is not secure from expropriation if it is inside Russia. The truly strange thing is that Putin’s recent behavior makes them all the more anxious to get their money out (hence the predictions of huge capital outflows) but it is now at some risk in the West. A rock and a hard place indeed.

    For this reason, I suggest a discriminatory strategy. Play divide and conquer. Focus on those in Putin’s direct clique (Timchenko, Yakunin, the Rotenburgs) and Russian state companies (especially Rosneft and Gazprom). Don’t move to touch most of the money held by others-but keep a close eye on it. This will lead to capital flight from Russia, undermine Putin’s de-offshorerizatsiya strategy, but put his own money and those of his closest cronies and state corporations at risk.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 23, 2014 @ 11:55 am

  5. The more effective Western sanctions, the more likely expropriation by Putin to cover his liquidity shortages. The more Russian oligarchs realize this situation, the more likely the are to engineer a coup to resolve it. Gotta be fun watching this jar full of tarantulas. Putin would be almost done for, but for some powerful friends at the Oval Office and at whatever the shape Merkel’s office has.

    Comment by Ivan — March 23, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

  6. Breaking news: UK and France send their elite troops to liberate Crimea. News at 11pm.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPIOzS5XVUw

    Comment by vlad — March 23, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

  7. Ivan, you sound like a really brilliant strategist thinker. Would you like to play chess with my cat over chess.com?

    Comment by vlad — March 23, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

  8. Well, the British and French did win the Crimean war, Sevastapol Naval dockyard was destroyed after the Russians lost at the Alma, Balaclava (they did fail to reach the port which was the operation’s objective and the Heavy Brigade and 93rd gave the Russians a good hiding), Inkermann and Terchenaya, and a severe siege. Compared to the British and French, Russian casualties were truly appaling and the defeat was a severe humiliation for Russia.

    Comment by Andrew — March 23, 2014 @ 10:16 pm

  9. > Well, the British and French did win the Crimean war

    Good for them! It is important for the Western Christian countries to help Muslims defeat Greek Orthodox Christians. The 1999 rape of Serbia was the latest such act.

    But if the British and French did win the Crimean war, why is it Russian now? What was the purpose that the British and French had there? Just to kill as many Russians as possible, using superior rifles, for the joy of it?

    Comment by vlad — March 23, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

  10. NBC takes the warmongering provocateur to task:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-transcript-march-23-2014-n59966

    DAVID GREGORY: I spoke earlier to Mike Rogers, Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He was in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.

    DAVID GREGORY:

    I want to touch on a couple of other areas quickly. On the issue of the N.S.A. surveillance and Edward Snowden, when you were last on this program, Chairman, you were very pointed, suggesting that he may have had help from the Russians, that Edward Snowden may have been a Russian spy, may be a Russian spy. He’s called that absurd. No new details have come to light on this. Were you irresponsible in making such a charge without having specific evidence to back it up? To just sort of float that out there?

    MIKE ROGERS:

    Well, first of all, I see all the intelligence and all the evidence from everything from his activities leading up to this event to very suspicious activity during the event. And so when you talk to the folks who are doing the investigation, they cannot rule it out.

    So here’s what we know, David. We know today no counterintelligence official in the United States does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the N.S.A. contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services. We believe he is. I certainly believe he is today. So now we all agree that he’s under the influence of Russian intelligence services today.

    For the investigators, they need to figure out well, when did that influence start. And was he interested in cooperating earlier than the timeline would suggest. So you’re talking to a guy who stole information, who is now in the arms of intelligence services saying, “Well, gosh, whatever you guys say is absurd. Only I can define the truth.” That’s ridiculous on its face.

    I do believe there’s more to this story. He is under the influence of Russian intelligence officials today. He is actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.

    DAVID GREGORY:

    But what is the evidence that he is under that influence? As he has pointed out, why go to Hong Kong? When he originally got to Russia, he was stranded in the airport. That’s no way to treat a spy, he has pointed out. So you’re arguing a lot, but where’s the evidence to suggest that he’s actually under the influence of a foreign intelligence agency?

    MIKE ROGERS:

    Well, again, today, we believe he’s under the influence and every counterintelligence official believes that. You won’t find one that doesn’t believe today he’s under the influence of Russian intelligence services. That we can all agree on. It’s when did that start that there is– I think there is really good evidence. In this case, as the more we look into this, I think the more you’re going to find that that date gets further and further away from his story. Matter of fact, I don’t believe the story he tells about both the airport or his activities in Hong Kong are accurate.

    It just gets more complicated and as I said he’s clearly in Moscow, under the influence of intelligence services for a country that is expanding its borders today using military force. I think there’s a lot more questions that need to be answered here.

    DAVID GREGORY:

    We’re going to leave it there. Chairman Rogers, thank you as always.

    His latest lies are here:

    MIKE ROGERS: I will tell you that the Ukrainians passionately believe that he will be on the move again in Ukraine, especially in the East. I talked to an individual who was kidnapped by the Russians, he believes (he “believes” but doesn’t know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). His ear was cut off, he had nails put in his hand in a crucifix type of position in order to get a confession from him that the Americans were behind the upheaval in Ukraine.

    And this is who we’re dealing with (yes, we’re dealing with top US officials purposefully lying about Snowden and Russia, trying to start WWIII). So they took over Crimea, you see that they’ve taken over another base yet today. And it certainly appears by everything that Ukrainian intelligence officials believe, certainly U.S. intelligence officials believe that Putin is not done in Ukraine. And so it is very troubling. We see him moving forces in the South in a position where they could take the southern region over to Moldova in the Ukraine. And we see that he’s actually working what they call “soft power.” So he’s got intelligence officials spread out all over the country causing problems in Ukraine. I do think that we have to, as Americans, have to take a tough stand with our European partners. There are things that we can do that I think we’re not doing. I don’t think the rhetoric matches the reality on the ground. You can do noncombatant-military aid in a way that allows them to defend themselves. (yes, “a bunch of Ukrainians running around with guns on their side” (as the US State Department lovingly called them) will defeat the Russian military, as long as the US taxpayers pay their hard-earned money to some US weapons manufacturer to ship to Ukraine)(never mind that almost half of the soldiers in the Ukrainian army want Russia to win).

    MIKE ROGERS: If he crosses into the Baltics with military units, that is more than troubling. That means that the country of Georgia is likely to have been more further invaded than it already is. It means that he’s taken land in the Ukraine, the southern and eastern portions of Ukraine before I think he would do the Baltics. So if it gets to the Baltics, we have allowed people who want to be free, who want to be independent, who want to have self-determination, and we’ve turned our back and walked away from them. The world did that once, and it was a major catastrophe (is he talking about the tragedy of the Iraqi people circa 2003 – 20124?).

    Comment by vlad — March 23, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

  11. That’s 2014

    Comment by vlad — March 23, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

  12. http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/mike-rogers-unable-to-provide-evidence-that-edward-snowden-is-under-russian-influence-65178/

    Mike Rogers unable to provide evidence that Edward Snowden is under Russian influence

    Tags: Congressman Mike Rogers Edward Snowden NSA surveillance Snowden a Russian spy

    On January 19, 2014, Republican congressman and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers went on Meet the Press and made the following statement: “Let me just say this, I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don’t think that’s a coincidence…I think there are some interesting questions we have to answer that certainly would lend one to believe that the Russians had at least in some part something to do with Snowden’s theft of NSA files.”

    Comment by vlad — March 23, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

  13. A typical American commercial, started with the Super Bowl in February, portraying Russian civilians as murderers and gangsters:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Z4TQKGXbE

    Comment by vlad — March 24, 2014 @ 12:07 am

  14. @vlad, you sound like my cat’s attempt to program an AI bot to spew pieces out of TASS database. The A part more or less works, the I – not so much.

    Comment by Ivan — March 24, 2014 @ 12:34 am

  15. As a true believer of the Sovok “planned” “economy”, @Vlad, even when commenting, always prefers quantity at the coast of quality. :)

    Comment by Dixi — March 24, 2014 @ 2:36 am

  16. He probably was not authorised to disclose sensitive information, often done to protect sources.

    And the superbowl commercial seems fine to me. I remember all those Russian ‘volunteers’ trailing along in the wake of the Russian army in 2008. Gun happy looters and rapists.

    The IFFC report was pretty condemning of that lot of savages.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2014 @ 9:33 am

  17. By the way, it’s Putin that’s warmongering now.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2014 @ 9:34 am

  18. Actually Vladislav, it was the unprovoked Russian attack on a Turkish fleet off Sinope, without cause or declaration of war, resulting in the murder of thousands of Turkish sailors, and a Russian invasion of Turkish posessions in Wallachia, that started the war. The aim of the invasion of the Crimea was not territorial, but to destroy the naval base at Sevastopol and protect Ottoman sovereignty, particularly to prevent Russia from taking Constantinople, which was one of their stated aims. Once the destruction of the Russian Black Sea fleet and it’s base was completed, and Russia had signed a treaty demilitarizing Crimea for a set period, the allies withdrew. This was despite the fact the ethnic Tatar majority had no desire to live under Russian rule (then as now…)

    It does seem to bear similarity to Kosovo, with slavs killing non slavs in an unprovoked manner, then whining for years after getting defeated.

    By the way, Russians are not Greek Orthodox, nor are the Serbs. They are Russian and Serbian Orthodox. Furthermore, the Russian Orthodox Church is somewhat unpopular with the othet members of the Orthodox Communion, their claims to have given the other Churches the gospel particularly rile the Greek abd Antiochian dioces, their support of ethnic cleansing does not endear them to any of the other Churches.

    Also note, during the war in Abkhazia the Russian government was quite happy to arm a mostly Moslem minority, the Apsu, against fellow Orthodox Christians, the Georgians. Most of that minority now claim to be Orthodox, but in the 90s they claimed to be Moslems ‘like their north Caucasian kin’ they are, however, mostly still adherents to their ancient pagan religion, and will profess whatever religion will gain them the most at any given time.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  19. That should read ‘It was the Russian invasion of Wallachia that started the Crimean war’ as the Sinope battle occurred after the Turks had declared war in response to the Russian invasion of their Danube provinces.

    An interesting fact was that the Russians expected the Orthodox subjects of those areas to rebel against the Turks in support of their invasion.

    This they singularly failed to do.

    Perhaps they had seen what had happened to fellow orthodox Georgians under Russian rule at the time. Banning of their language from education, a policy of Russification, dismemberment of their ancient Church, theft of religious and secular historical treasures, imposition of serfdom, and the usual attempts by Russia to eradicate local culture.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

  20. If not for Russia, Georgians would have been extinct 200 years so.

    Comment by So? — March 24, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

  21. @So? Perhaps this is something of an irony, but yours was the nineteen thousandth comment on SWP. Thanks for your interest, even if that interest is often devoted to busting my chops :-P

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 24, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

  22. No So? I doubt it.

    It is interesting that Russian oppression in west Georgia was so bad it took the Geotgians only a couple of years to adk their Muslim neighbors, with whom they had been fighting on and off for only a few hundred years, for aid to drive out the Russians.

    Don’t believe everything your Russian ultranationalist friends tell you, or that you read in the soviet encyclopedia. The reality is that the Georgiand had more religious freedom and autonomy under the Turks, than they did under the Russians.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

  23. “Actually Vladislav, it was the unprovoked Russian attack on a Turkish fleet off Sinope, without cause or declaration of war”

    Like Nelson did to the Danish fleet at Copenhagen.

    Comment by PailiP — March 25, 2014 @ 2:29 am

  24. So? Perhaps this is something of an irony, but yours was the nineteen thousandth comment on SWP.

    Great! What do I win?

    Thanks for your interest, even if that interest is often devoted to busting my chops

    I’m but a harmless gadfly (unlike some other keyboard warriors here. They are out for blood. Literally!).

    Comment by So? — March 25, 2014 @ 3:09 am

  25. Don’t believe everything your Russian ultranationalist friends tell you, or that you read in the soviet encyclopedia. The reality is that the Georgiand had more religious freedom and autonomy under the Turks, than they did under the Russians.

    You should have been left to the Ottomans then.

    Comment by So? — March 25, 2014 @ 3:11 am

  26. It would have been better than the prison of nations. Russia showed little but brutality towards Georgians in both the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Of course you worship Russia be it communist or the current nationalist whorehouse. Why do you pollute Berkeley, when you could be back in the promised land?

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  27. Yes PailiP, but the British were only destroying the fleet to stop Napoleon from gaining it.

    They had no desire to occupy Copenhagen or annex it.

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

  28. > He probably was not authorised to disclose sensitive information, often done to protect sources.

    Aha. He was not authorised to disclose sensitive information, but he decided to disclose it anyway by claiming that Snowden had worked for the FSB from the start, without giving a shred of evidence. Very believable.

    I?f you believe that then you should also believe that it was not UNA/UNSO but President Obama who hired those snipers that killed 100+ demonstrators in Maidan. FSB has iron-clad proof but they are “not authorised to disclose sensitive information”. :-)

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  29. http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2006/07/mike-rogers-michigans-most-corrupt-and.html

    There are two Mike Rogers in the House. Both are right wing Republicans. One is from the heart of Alabama’s Buy Bull Belt and the other is from a moderate central Michigan district encompassing the heavily Democratic Lansing area and heavily Republican Livingston County (white refugees from Detroit). If I asked you to guess which of these two was more of an extremist and fanatic, you’d have to say Mike Rogers from Michigan to be correct. When it comes to issues involving the well-being of the middle class, DMI has each scoring a zero and assigns each an F rating. But when you examine their records more deeply, you find that Michigan Mike is not just the most extreme right wing congressman from the state of Michigan, you find his 3.81 Progressive Punch score is one of the most abysmal of any congressman anywhere. Michigan Mike is one of the most reactionary and least moderate of any congressman regardless of political party with a voting record very much mirroring out-and-out kooks like J.D. Hayworth and John Doolittle on a scale of extremism).

    But the truly destructive nature of Rogers’ tenure as the 8th congressional district’s representative in Congress is far worse than just his voting record would indicate. Rogers’ grotesque role in the Republican Culture of Corruption goes way beyond the tainted funds he has received from crooks like DeLay, Boehner, Blunt and Team Abramoff (around $50,000). Rogers is one of the most bought-off politicians by Big Business of any congressman of either party. And he serves their interests well– much to the detriment of his central Michigan constituents.

    Although Michigan Mike has led a jihad against any government oversight of the gas and oil industries, always votes to give them huge taxpayer subsidies, and fanatically fought all attempts to stop gasoline price gauging– for which the oil and gas industries have rewarded him with over $150,000 in legal bribes– an even more egregious and repulsive role Mike has claimed for himself is as affordable health care’s worst enemy in the entire Congress. But after greedily taking nearly $300,000 in legal bribes from Big Pharma and HMOs, is this a shock to anyone?

    Put aside for a moment that Rogers has been an hysterical opponent of the kind of stem cell research being urged by Nancy Reagan and put aside for a moment that Rogers led the battle to pass the Corporate-written National Uniformity for Food Act (H.R. 4167) which interferes with the right of more progressive and enlightened state governments from putting warning labels on questionable packaged food. Instead, let’s look at Rogers’ repulsive and disgraceful role in denying his own constituents the right to affordable health care. More in the pocket of the for-profit-regardless-of-consequences Corporate Health Care Industry than anyone else in the House of Representatives, Rogers has taken it upon himself to viciously attack anyone who urges Congress to do something effective about solving the Health Care crisis in this country. When his own Michigan constituents, mostly the poor and elderly, started looking for less expensive prescription medicines in nearby Canada, it was Rogers who led the way to criminalize this. McCarthy-like, he violently berates and smears congressional witnesses urging universal health care or anything that would interfere with the billions and billions of dollars of profits made by the Pharmaceutical industry that had been making him rich and powerful with their “generosity.” (Ironically, while he was fighting like his life depended on it to deprive Michigan residents of affordable health care, he was also voting against– one of only two congressmen from Michigan to do so– John McCain’s amendment to outlaw torture by U.S. personnel.) Mike Rogers is a very, very disturbed man; many who have watched him say sociopathic. He doesn’t belong in public office.

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

  30. It’s more likely that Yanukovich was behind the snipers than anything else. After all there is plenty of film of Berkut shooting AKs into the crowd.

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

  31. BTW Vlad, I see you’ve changed your name, slightly this time, did you get banned again?

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  32. No, Andrew, unlike LaRussophobe, Craig has enough intelligence and dignity not to ban normal people.

    BTW, how’s your friend LaRussophobe these days? As I recall, she was fired by the Jamestown Foundation and ordered to abandon her blog. She started a new one, but it was getting no comments at all. She claimed that her new “job” was to tweet.

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

  33. Ukraine’s most dangerous criminal is dead.

    http://delyagin.ru/news/77326-sobake-sobachjia-smert-sashko-bilogo-pristrelili-v-rovno-ego-podelniki-po-demokraticheskoj-revolyutcii.html#.UzD-LbLNIao.facebook

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

  34. So?>> You should have been left to the Ottomans then.

    Andrew> It would have been better than the prison of nations.

    Aha. You advocate the same genocide against Georgians as the one the Ottomans perpetrated on Armenians and facilitated by your own Brits who prevented Russia from protecting Armenians?!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

    Armenian Genocide
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Armenian Genocide[7], also known as the Armenian Holocaust, was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. It took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert.[10][11] The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians, the Greeks and other minority groups were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy.[12][13][14] It is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides,[15][16][17] as scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians,[18] and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.[19] The word genocide was coined in order to describe these events.[20][21]

    After the conclusion of the 1877–78 Russo-Turkish War, the Armenians began to look more toward the Russian Empire as the ultimate guarantors of their security. Nerses approached the Russian leadership during its negotiations with the Ottomans in San Stefano and in the eponymous treaty, convinced them to insert a clause, Article 16, stipulating that the Russian forces occupying the Armenian-populated provinces in the eastern Ottoman Empire would withdraw only with the full implementation of reforms.[36] Great Britain was troubled with Russia’s holding on to so much Ottoman territory and forced it to enter into new negotiations with the convening of the Congress of Berlin in June 1878. Armenians also entered into these negotiations and emphasized that they sought autonomy, not independence from the Ottoman Empire.[34]:38 They partially succeeded, as Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin contained the same text as Article 16 but removed any mention that Russian forces would remain in the provinces; instead, the Ottoman government was periodically to inform the Great Powers of the progress of the reforms.

    The next day, 20 April 1915, the Siege of Van began when an Armenian woman was harassed, and the two Armenian men who came to her aid were killed by Ottoman soldiers. The Armenian defenders protected the 30,000 residents and 15,000 refugees living in an area of roughly one square kilometer of the Armenian Quarter and suburb of Aigestan with 1,500 ablebodied riflemen who were supplied with 300 rifles and 1,000 pistols and antique weapons. The conflict lasted until General Yudenich of Russia came to their rescue.[45]

    Reports of the conflict reached then United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, Sr. from Aleppo and Van, prompting him to raise the issue in person with Talaat and Enver. As he quoted to them the testimonies of his consulate officials, they justified the deportations as necessary to the conduct of the war, suggesting that complicity of the Armenians of Van with the Russian forces that had taken the city justified the persecution of all ethnic Armenians.

    Hundreds of eyewitnesses, including the neutral United States and the Ottoman Empire’s own allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, recorded and documented numerous acts of state-sponsored massacres. Many foreign officials offered to intervene on behalf of the Armenians, including Pope Benedict XV, only to be turned away by Ottoman government officials who claimed they were retaliating against a pro-Russian insurrection.[16]:177

    The Russian Empire’s response to the bombardment of its Black Sea naval ports was primarily a land campaign through the Caucasus. Early victories against the Ottoman Empire from the winter of 1914 to the spring 1915 saw significant gains of territory, including relieving the Armenian bastion resisting in the city of Van in May 1915. The Russians also reported encountering the bodies of unarmed civilian Armenians as they advanced.[112] In March 1916, the scenes they saw in the city of Erzerum led the Russians to retaliate against the Ottoman III Army whom they held responsible for the massacres, destroying it in its entirety.[113]

    Due to the weak central government and Tehran’s inability to protect its territorial integrity, no resistance was offered by the mostly Islamic Persian troops when, after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the extreme northwest of Persia, Islamic Turks invaded the town of Salmas in northwestern Persia and tortured and massacred the Christian Armenian inhabitants.[120]

    The earliest example of the Armenian genocide on art was a medal issued in St. Petersburg, signifying Russian sympathy for Armenian suffering. It was struck in 1915, as the massacres and deportations were still raging. Since then, dozens of medals in different countries have been commissioned to commemorate the event.[209]

    The paintings of Armenian-American Arshile Gorky, a seminal figure of Abstract Expressionism, are considered to have been informed by the suffering and loss of the period.[213] In 1915, at age 10, Gorky fled his native Van and escaped to Russian-Armenia with his mother and three sisters.

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

  35. Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-American painter, who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian Genocide.[1]

    In 1915 Gorky fled Lake Van during the Armenian Genocide and escaped with his mother and his three sisters into Russian-controlled territory. In the aftermath of the genocide, Gorky’s mother died of starvation in Yerevan in 1919. Arriving in America in 1920, the 16-year old Gorky was reunited with his father, but they never grew close.

    In the process of reinventing his identity, he changed his name to “Arshile Gorky”, claiming to be a Georgian noble[3] (taking the Georgian name Arshile/Archil), and even telling people he was a relative of the Russian writer Maxim Gorky.[4]

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  36. http://en.itar-tass.com/world/725278

    Kiev describes Right Sector leader’s statement as threat to stability

    KIEV, March 26, 1:02 /ITAR-TASS/.

    Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh’s statement, which contains a threat to avenge Right Sector activist Alexander Muzychko, killed in a shoot-out with law enforcers on Tuesday, “is lawless and threatens stability in all regions of Ukraine”, Viktoria Syumar, deputy secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), said at a meeting with journalists on Tuesday.

    Ukraine’s Right Sector leader Yarosh to run for presidency

    “Any threats addressed to the the Head of the Interior Ministry, any threats to use force are lawless and jeopardize stability in all regions of Ukraine, including that in Kiev, irrespective of the whereabouts of the Right Sector,” she said, adding that “a special investigation will be carried out” into the fact of Muzychko’s death.

    Earlier Tuesday, Yarosh demanded resignation of the Interior Minister and arrest of those members of the special unit Sokol (falcon), who were involved in the detention of Muzychko who is known as “Sashko Bilyi”.

    The details of the operation aimed at apprehending Muzychko on the outskirts of the city of Rovno were given on Tuesday at a press conference by Vladimir Yevdokimov, Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of the Interior. He said members of the organized-crime group (OCG) had committed crimes in the territory of Rovno Region and in several other regions. On March 8, investigators initiated criminal proceedings against Muzychko under the provisions of Ukraine’s Criminal Code article envisaging responsibility for rowdy behaviour, as well as for threats or violence against law enforcers. On March 12, Muzychk was put on a wanted list.

    Yevdokomov said that during the special operation to apprehend and neutralize OCG members, the personnel of Sokol a special unit of the Interior Ministry’s regional directorate, the job of which is to provide security support to operational search activities apprehended Muzychko’s bodyguards who were armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles and Makarov pistols. Myzychko himself sought to flee and opened fire on militiamen. One member of the special unit was wounded. The unit personnel had to use firearms.

    Yevdokimov also pointed out that signs of a crime listed in Article 257 (banditry) were perceived in the actions of the detained OCG members. “Facts of lawless actions are galore,” Yevdokimov emphasized.

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

  37. Of course the Armenians fail to mention they rebelled against a government that had given them most favored minority status in the late 19th c, with special privileges in trade and parliament.

    The Turkish reaction to this perceived treason was no different to that meted out to Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Volga Germans, Meshkians etc. It was brutal and excessive, but it should also be remembered that the Armenians comitted huge crimes against humanity of their own, against the non Armenians in the areas that fell under their control.

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

  38. And the Turks should definitely be made to admit it was a genocide.

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

  39. But the big difference is that Russia comitted many more genocides in the 19th and 20th centuries, and even into the 21st.

    Chechnya springs immediately to mind. Abkhazia, South Ossetia…

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2014 @ 10:52 pm

  40. Andrew, why am I not surprised to read your praise of a heinous genocide… Does your own New Zealand’s treatment of the aboriginal people during the conquest also get you all happy and excited?

    Comment by vlad — March 25, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

  41. Andrew> I fondly remember your insistence that the Russian soldiers giving the Nazi salute entering Georgia were not Russian

    I don’t recall any pictures of “the Russian soldiers giving the Nazi salute entering Georgia”. Are you referring to these pictures:

    http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/61264000/jpg/_61264170_61264169.jpg

    http://www.agentia.org/imagini-articole/nemtii-vor-o-noua-rasa-ariana-modificata-genetic-8052.jpg

    http://upload.rb.ru/upload/photo/177877.jpg

    http://americathebeautifulconspiracy.com/images/obama%20salute.jpeg

    http://blog.tompappalardo.com/images-blog/nazi-bush2.jpg

    http://revolution-news.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/oleg-tyanhybok.jpg

    Or maybe, Andrew, you were referring to this picture of your prince:

    http://cdn.motinetwork.net/motifake.com/image/demotivational-poster/0805/jerks-prince-harry-nazi-costume-jerk-jerks-demotivational-poster-1210666310.jpg

    Comment by vlad — March 26, 2014 @ 1:37 am

  42. Or this one:

    http://blog.tompappalardo.com/images-blog/nazi-bush.jpg

    Comment by vlad — March 26, 2014 @ 1:39 am

  43. Or this king of yours:

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/episodes/britains-nazi-king/

    Was a member of the British royal family in cahoots with the Nazis? Recently declassified FBI files expose a surprising twist in the legacy of Edward VIII. In 1941, President Roosevelt had the Duke of Windsor investigated for suspicion of sympathizing with Nazi Germany. What the investigation found was an astonishing plot to put Edward VIII on Britain’s throne as Hitler’s Nazi puppet. Under different circumstances, could this relationship have changed history as we know it?

    Comment by vlad — March 26, 2014 @ 1:42 am

  44. almost king

    Comment by vlad — March 26, 2014 @ 1:44 am

  45. Vlad, I wasn’t praising it.

    Of course your reading comprehension is as sub par as usual.

    You can see Russian soldiers giving a nazi salute in this video during the Russian invasion of Georgia 2008.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bRHSlSTVkFs

    What genocide in New Zealand? Do you mean the musket wars of the pre colonisation period when tribes like Ngapui killed tens of thousands in the north island in the early 19th century after aquiring muskets from unscrupulous traders, the majority of whom were Russian, in exchange for items such as shrunken heads. A clue, the largest collection of which is in the hermitage in St Petersburg, or do you mean the land wars from 1840’s to 1870s when around 400 British imperial, colonial volunteer, and Queenite Maori along with 2000 kingite (rebel Maori) died in a period of nearly 30 years?

    You are a know nothing Vlad.

    Comment by Andrew — March 26, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

  46. Andrew> What genocide in New Zealand?

    It took me 1 second to google for “genocide new zealand”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori_people
    Today, in spite of the difficulties and genocide that Moriori faced, Moriori culture is enjoying a renaissance

    > You are a know nothing Vlad.

    LOL. Apparently I know more about your own little faraway country than you do. Or else, you think that the Aborigines deserved genocide as much as Armenians did in your opinion.

    Comment by vlad — March 26, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

  47. well, Andrew, I see that the Kremlinoid troll control center is trying to give our own little Kremlinoid troll tons of pink fuzzy monkeys to look at to divert attention away from Supreme Fascist Vlad Dracul Putler, the Bare Shirted One, and Firt Hero of the Rasha.

    so here it is – New Zealand tribe killing a New Zealand tribe, from Wikipedia:
    ———————————————————
    A council of Māori elders was convened at the settlement called Te Awapatiki. Despite knowing of the Māori predilection for killing and eating the conquered, and despite the admonition by some of the elder chiefs that the principle of Nunuku was not appropriate now, two chiefs — Tapata and Torea — declared that “the law of Nunuku was not a strategy for survival, to be varied as conditions changed; it was a moral imperative.”[86] A Māori survivor recalled: “[The Maori] commenced to kill us like sheep…. [We] were terrified, fled to the bush, concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies. It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed – men, women and children indiscriminately.” A Māori conqueror explained, “We took possession… in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people. Not one escaped…”[87]

    ——————————————————————————————————-

    This sounds exactly like what Putler is trying to do in Crimea and Ukraine.

    The new joke going around Ukraine is:

    “I have stopped speaking Russian, not because I am afraid that Ukrainians will try to beat me up, but because I am afraid that Putler will come and try to “protect” me”

    Another one:

    Putler walks up to the border of Finland, where the border guard asks his name.

    “Vlad Dracul Putler”

    The border guard asks him: “Occupation?”

    Putler replies – “no, just visiting”

    Comment by elmer — March 27, 2014 @ 7:43 am

  48. > This sounds exactly like what Putler is trying to do in Crimea and Ukraine.

    So, your contention, elmer, is that it was the “evil” Maori who came to New Zealand from another continent, slaughtered the native Anglo-Saxon tribes, and stole their land?

    And what land did we, Jews, steal to justify Nazis’ and OUN’s Holocaust?

    Comment by vlad — March 31, 2014 @ 11:20 am

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