John Helmer: How the Russian Economy Looks If You Aren’t Wearing NATO Night-Fighting Goggles


Yves here. Notice that Russia is close to being an autarky and the sanctions appear only to have made it more so. Ooops.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

If your enemy is waging economic war on you, it’s prudent to camouflage how well your farms and factories are doing. Better the attacker thinks you’re on your last legs, and are too exhausted to fight back.  A new report on the Russian economy, published by Jon Hellevig, reveals the folly in the enemy’s calculation.

Who is the audience for this message? US and NATO warfighters against Russia can summon up more will if they think Russia is in retreat than if they must calculate the cost in their own blood and treasure if the Russians strike back.  That’s Russian policy on the Syrian front, where professional soldiers are in charge.   On the home front, where the civilians call the shots,  Hellevig’s message looks like an encouragement for fight-back – the economic policymaker’s equivalent of a no-fly zone for the US and European Union.  It’s also a challenge to the Kremlin policy of appeasement.

Hellevig (right), a Finnish lawyer and investment analyst,  has been directing businesses in Russia since 1992. His Moscow-based consultancy Awara has published its assessment of Russian economic performance since 2014 with the title, “What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger.” The maxim was first coined by the `19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He said it in a pep talk for himself. Subsequent readers think of the maxim as an irony.  Knowing now what Nietzsche knew about his own prognosis but kept secret at the time,  he did too.

Hellevig’s report can be read in full here.

The headline findings aren’t news to the Kremlin. It has been regularly making the claims at President Vladimir Putin’s semi-annual national talk shows;  at businessmen’s conventions like the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF);  and in Kremlin-funded propaganda -– lowbrow  outlets like Russia Today and  Sputnik News, and the highbrow Valdai Club. A charter for a brand-new outlet for the claims, the Russian National Convention Bureau, was agreed at the St. Petersburg forum last month. Government promotion of reciprocal trade and inward investment isn’t exceptional for Russia; it is normal practice  throughout the world.

The argument of the Hellevig report is that the US and NATO campaign against Russia has failed to do the damage it was aimed to do, and that their propaganda outlets, media and think-tanks are lying to conceal the failure. Small percentage numbers for the decline in Russian GDP and related measures are summed up by Hellevig as “belt-tightening, not much more”.  Logically and arithmetically, similarly small numbers in the measurement of the Russian recovery this year ought to mean “belt expanding, not much more.” But like Nietzsche, Hellevig is more optimistic. Here’s what he concludes:

  • “Industrial Production was down merely 0.6%. A handsome recovery is already on its way with an expected growth of 3 to 4% in 2017. In May the industrial production already soared by a promising 5.3%.”
  • “Unemployment remained stable all through 2014 – 2016, the hoped-for effect of sanctions causing mass unemployment and social chaos failed to materialize.”
  • “GDP was down 2.3% in 2014-2016, expected to more than make up for that in 2017 with 2-3% predicted growth.”
  • “The really devastating news for ‘our Western partners’ (as Putin likes to refer to them) must be – which we are the first to report – the extraordinary decrease in the share of oil & gas revenue in Russia’s GDP.”
  • “In the years of sanctions, Russia has grown to become an agricultural superpower with the world’s largest wheat exports. Already in the time of the Czars Russia was a big grain exporter, but that was often accompanied with domestic famine. Stalin financed Russia’s industrialization to a large extent by grain exports, but hereby also creating domestic shortages and famine. It is then the first time in Russia’s history when it is under Putin a major grain exporter while ensuring domestic abundance. Russia has made an overall remarkable turnaround in food production and is now virtually self-sufficient.”
  • “Russia has the lowest level of imports (as a share of the GDP) of all major countries… Russia’s very low levels of imports in the global comparison obviously signifies that Russia produces domestically a much higher share of all that it consumes (and invests), this in turn means that the economy is superbly diversified contrary to the claims of the failed experts and policymakers. In fact, it is the most self-sufficient and diversified economy in the world. Our argument that Russia’s economy is the most diversified in the world is easily proven by World Bank statistics on the share of imports of goods and services as a percentage of the GDP. This is illustrated by Chart 17, which compares the levels of import of Russia with a sample of countries.” Hellevig also urges using his purchasing power parity measure (PPP) of real output and goods flows rather than a nominal measure based on devalued currency exchange rates.

  • “We predict Russia to push through the 4 trillion level in 2017 and overtake Germany by 2018 to become the world’s fifth biggest economy.”

David Low’s cartoon in the London Evening Standard of October 31, 1939, two months after the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed, and after Poland was invaded. Germany is now tied by the US and NATO to the Ukraine, and the guns are drawn openly. Not even guarded rapprochement between Germany and Russia is possible; there is no significant political support for it among German voters.


Click on first link above to continue reading.

The Mask Has Come Off the B.S. Trump Witch Hunt about Russian Election Meddling

NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard


Exclusive: A founding Russia-gate myth is that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Russia hacked into and distributed Democratic emails, a falsehood that The New York Times has belatedly retracted, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry (Updated on July 1 with new NYT deception)

The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.

On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to a June 25 article that had repeated the false claim, which has been used by Democrats and the mainstream media for months to brush aside any doubts about the foundation of the Russia-gate scandal and portray President Trump as delusional for doubting what all 17 intelligence agencies supposedly knew to be true.

In the Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

However, on Thursday, the Times – while leaving most of Haberman’s ridicule of Trump in place – noted in a correction that the relevant intelligence “assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazonand

Continue reading at link above.

Clown Soiree June 26

It was a good show, good feedback for all the clowns, I myself was overwhelmed with some things that were said to me.  It was very nice to perform in a real theater, the New England Youth Theater on Flat St. in Brattleboro.

I had a really amusing experience at the get together at the Whetstone Bar afterward.  Before the show, I was really late and in a panic to get to the theater, and I had forgotten my prop cactus at home.  So I went to the Coop, where cacti are sometimes on sale, to see if they would lend me one for the show.   A gentleman named Tony, who had really enjoyed the show, confessed at the Whetstone to having seen me in my pajamas and pilot’s helmet liner (most of my clown Barclay’s costume) at the Coop, and thinking to himself “Goddamn Vermonters are too damn lazy to change out of their pajamas!”

One of those great moments to be a clown.

An Addict May OD Because of a Unique Environment, Not Size of Dose

Solving the heroin overdose mystery: how small doses can kill

Shepard Siegel

is a distinguished university professor of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.


Heroin, like other opiates, depresses activity in the brain centre that controls breathing. Sometimes, this effect is so profound that the drug user dies, and becomes yet another overdose casualty. Some of these victims die because they took too much of the drug. Others die following self-administration of a dose that appears much too small to be lethal, but why? This is the heroin overdose mystery, and it has been known for more than half a century.

There was a heroin crisis in New York City in the 1960s, with overdose deaths increasing each year of the decade. There were almost 1,000 overdose victims in New York City in 1969, about as many as in 2015. The then chief medical examiner of New York, Milton Helpern, together with his deputy chief, Michael Baden, investigated these deaths. They discovered that many died, not from a true pharmacological overdose, but even when, on the day prior, the victim had administered a comparable dose with no ill effects. Helpern, Baden and colleagues noted that, while it is common for several users to take drugs from the same batch, only rarely does more than one user suffer a life-threatening reaction. They examined heroin packages and used syringes found near dead addicts, and tissue surrounding the sites of fatal injections, and found that victims typically self-administered a normal, usually non-fatal dose of heroin. In 1972, Helpern concluded that ‘there does not appear to be a quantitative correlation between the acute fulminating lethal effect and the amount of heroin taken’.

It was a science journalist, Edward Brecher, who first applied the term ‘overdose mystery’ when he evaluated Helpern’s data for Consumer Reports. Brecher concluded that ‘overdose’ was a misnomer. ‘These deaths are, if anything, associated with “underdose” rather than overdose,’ he wrote.

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Subsequently, independent evaluations of heroin overdoses in New York City, Washington, DC, Detroit, and various cities in Germany and Hungary all confirmed the phenomenon – addicts often die after self-administering an amount of heroin that should not kill them.

Continue reading at link above.


Grenfell Tower

Did you all notice that Grenfell was a large steel tower that burned with a much larger and hotter fire for many many more hours than the World Trade Center, yet it did not fall or collapse……

The WTC remains unique in history as the only professionally constructed steel towers to fall after a short fire affected only a small part of the buildings.

Which might lead a sane person to consider the many eyewitness testimonies about the explosions they heard both before and after the jets flew into the buildings…….

Interesting Putin Quote

Russia and the U.S. don’t have any significant ideological differences, but we do have fundamental cultural differences. Individualism lies at the core of the American identity, while Russia has been a country of collectivism. One student of Pushkin’s legacy has formulated this difference very aptly. Take Scarlett O’Hara from ‘Gone With The Wind’, for instance. She says: “I’ll never be hungry again.” This is the most important thing for her. Russians have different …. ambitions – more of the spiritual kind. It’s more about your relationship with God. We have different visions of life. That’s why it’s very difficult to understand each other, but it’s still possible.

– Vladimir Putin