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Post Skripal Poisoning: Will UK Retaliate Against Russia?
Created by John Eipper on 03/11/18 3:17 PM

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Skripal Poisoning: Will UK Retaliate Against Russia? (Istvan Simon, USA, 03/11/18 3:17 pm)

When commenting on John Heelan's post of March 8th, JE asked how you deliver a nerve agent without being poisoned yourself.

This was answered by the way Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam was murdered. Two women approached Kim Jong Nam. One stood in front of him while the other attacked him from behind holding a cloth with the poison over his face. She must have worn protective gear so that she was not poisoned herself.

Here is more detailed information:


In the case of Sergei Skripal, this abhorrent reckless, ruthless, brazen political crime, it is bad enough that he was attacked, but it is even more shocking that his presumably completely innocent 33-year-old daughter, who probably had done nothing to harm Russia at all, was callously attacked as well. Certainly the policeman who was a first responder to help the Skripals and got himself seriously poisoned and is gravely ill, did not do anything to harm Russia.

This reckless lack of respect for human life of completely innocent people cannot be tolerated. I sure hope that the threat of a proper response by Boris Johnson will be forceful and definitive and discourage the Russian government from ever engaging in such brazen actions ever again on foreign soil.

The fact that nothing was done after the Alexander Litvinenko case, and the other suspicious attacks on Putin's "enemies" on British soil, only shows that Putin needs to be taught a severe lesson that he will never forget, and be taught what he can and what he cannot do.

I sure hope that this time her Majesty's Government will act forcefully. Further, the response should not be constrained to the UK alone. Other nations must act in solidarity and punish the Russian government as well. Only by making such actions very very expensive for Putin will he put a stop on this brazen intrusions on the sovereignty of other democratic and powerful countries, including ours.

The following article is illuminating about the kind of poison that was probably used:


JE comments:  Boris Johnson has mentioned England's possible boycott of the soccer World Cup, set to be held in Russia starting in June.  Poland, Australia, and Japan have already hinted they would join the English protest.

(A boycott from the American team--ouch!--is already a certainty.)

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  • Skripal Poisoning: Will UK Retaliate Against Russia? (Nigel Jones, UK 03/12/18 3:30 AM)
    I wish I could share Istvan Simon's confidence that Britain will respond robustly to the latest murderous attack on UK soil by Russia.

    I live a few miles from the scene of the attempted assassination in Salisbury, and the latest news is that 500 members of the general public who were in the vicinity of the victims have been advised to wash their clothes lest they be contaminated by nerve gas. This is a whole week after the attack. It is also rumoured that two Russian staff members at the restaurant where Skripal and his daughter ate just before falling ill have mysteriously disappeared. Doubtless they are already in Moscow.

    Unfortunately the West as a whole--and Britain in particular under the woefully weak leadership of our laughably useless Prime Minister, T. May--seem utterly unable to stand up to the increasingly aggressive provocations of Putin's Russia.

    As a result, not only Putin, but other dictatorial regimes round the world--Iran, Erdogan's Turkey, and of course North Korea--are taking advantage of the weakness and disunity of the freer world.

    How gloriously imbecilic does Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" thesis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union look now. In fact precisely the opposite of his prediction has happened: Liberal democracy is in full retreat, dictatorial authoritarianism on the march.

    Why has FF still got a job?

    JE comments: Fukuyama long ago retracted his "End of History" thesis--which as we've seen on WAIS, was often misinterpreted and oversimplified in the first place.

    The Salisbury pub/restaurant, Zizzi, has a PR catastrophe on its hands.  What can you tell us about the place, Nigel?  The website says it's "temporarily closed."  No surprise about that.

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  • Skripal Poisoning: How Should the UK Respond? (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/12/18 3:50 AM)
    Regarding the Skripal case, I am working on it almost 24/7 and must say that nothing is clear yet.

    By some barely noticeable indicators, we can assume that this is the work of either the SVR or GRU, but this still has to be proved. The most difficult part is to figure out the reason. The second problem is to determine how it was done.

    But responding to Istvan Simon's post of 11 March, I would ask Istvan to think and tell us what he personally would do in this situation if he were the prime minister of Great Britain.

    JE comments: We should heed Boris Volodarsky's first sentence, and remember that nothing has been proven. Still, the Skripal case has a clear Putinian "signature."  For starters, how easy would it be for non-state actors to procure a nerve agent?

    As for British responses, what about setting up a rival World Cup in the UK?  This would be a major embarrassment for Putin, especially after his country's banning from the 2018 Winter Olympics.  (I'm sure, ahem, the US team would be happy to participate.)

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    • How Should UK Retaliate for Skripal Poisoning? (Istvan Simon, USA 03/13/18 12:59 PM)
      Boris Volodarsky (March 12th) asked me what I would do as Prime Minister of the UK about the attempted murder of Skripal and his daughter and the reckless endangerment of over 500 innocent bystanders, one of whom, the policeman who attempted to help the Skripals, is himself in grave danger of losing his life or perhaps suffering terrible consequences for the rest of his life, if he survives.

      I am not privy to any details of the investigation, so my conclusions are merely that of an observer without inside knowledge. As such, it seems to me that there would be no motive for anyone to commit such reckless and horrendous acts except for the Russian government. If I were Prime Minister of the UK I would of course know a lot more than I do.

      So back to Boris's question. Her majesty's Government has several options on what to do:

      1. Retaliation:  This would involve the assassination or attempted assassination in Russia or wherever they may be at any time in the future of the people involved in the case. That would certainly include the direct perpetrators of these crimes, and of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko as well. It should include their superiors as well who ordered these dastardly acts.

      2. I'd have ordered the stopping of the agents who perpetrated these crimes from leaving the UK so they could respond in UK law enforcement and UK courts for their crimes, and help identify their superiors who ordered the crimes. Even Malaysia did better than the UK, in that they detained everyone involved in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam. It is unbelievable that Her Majesty's Government with all the surveillance that exists in the UK could not arrest the assassins of Litvinenko or the attempted assassins of Skripal and his daughter before they left the UK.

      3. Issue international arrest warrants for all identified as involved in all these cases.

      4. Expulsion of all Russian "diplomats" involved in the case. I'd also consider breaking diplomatic relations with Russia.

      5. Seize and freeze Russian assets in the UK. Order the partial use of these assets as compensation to the survivors of the victims of these crimes.

      6. Ordering severe economic sanctions that would hit the Russian government and oligarchs closely associated with the Russian government directly.

      7. Ask other governments friendly to the UK to act in solidarity and take similar actions themselves.

      I do not consider staying away from sporting events in Russia an adequate response, unless they involve many countries acting in solidarity.

      JE comments:  Solution #1 strikes me as barbaric, and could be interpreted as an act of war.  (Since he may have ordered the hits, are you going to "take out" Putin himself?)  I like option #5:  hit 'em in the pocketbook.  But won't the London financiers raise a hue and cry about losing the Russian money?

      Today's huge diplomatic bombshell:  Trump told his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, "you're fired."  What are WAISdom's thoughts?

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      • Retaliation for Skripal Poisoning? Response to Istvan Simon (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/14/18 3:47 AM)
        I thoroughly enjoyed Istvan Simon's post of 13 March. No joke; thank you, Istvan.

        One thing I feel confident about: Her Majesty will think twice before appointing you her Prime Minister, although just between us I do not know what she found in Mrs May.

        Now to your points:

        1. Assassinations in retaliation would not only be terrorism, this is certain war. I am especially excited at the prospect of seeing all "their" superiors assassinated, including of course those who "probably" gave orders. What the hell, all of them plus their parliament, which surely supported this decision as they did with Georgia in 2008, the Crimea in 2014 and Eastern Ukraine.

        2. Arresting the assassins is not possible because (a) even in the Litvinenko case I am not sure anyone knows who did it. All claims about Lugovoy and Kovtun have absolutely no grounds, believe me. (b) Those involved with Mr Skripal and his daughter are not identified, so you won't reach them whoever they are. But they are surely not in the UK.

        3. Arrest warrants have been issued, but...

        4. Breaking diplomatic relations with Russia would automatically presume breaking diplomatic relations with the UK. Just think for a moment what can follow. (Although after point 1, these are trifles.)

        5. If the UK confiscates Russian assets, the same will be done with British assets--and this is a lot.

        6. They have been trying to do sanctions for some time already, but...

        7. Getting other nations to join the sanctions is a very difficult job. What countries do you mean--Germany, France, EU in general after Brexit? New Zealand? Russia will be terribly frightened.

        Adding to JE's worries about London financiers and real estate moguls, they will probably also lose their pants. And many people could lose their lives. Some have already.

        No, no, I am afraid you still have to try hard to win a place at number 10 Downing Street.

        JE comments:  Boris, isn't video surveillance ubiquitous in the UK?  Even the tranquil campus of Adrian College is watched by dozens of cameras.  I am surprised that in the Skripal case, they cannot check the footage and identify the culprits.

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        • Surveillance in UK and Skripal Case (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/15/18 4:19 AM)
          John E asked me on March 14th: "Isn't video surveillance ubiquitous in the UK? I am surprised that in the Skripal case, they cannot check the footage and identify the culprits."

          My answer is as follows:

          Video surveillance is indeed omnipresent in the UK. During the Litvinenko investigation I explained to SO15 (Scotland Yard, Special Operation anti-terror) officers that they are always taking the wrong course of action, thinking a bird can be caught by chasing her. There are hundreds of people who are scanning the footage day and night and there were enough CCTV cameras in Salisbury. The problem is they are looking in the wrong direction because they compare Skripal's poisoning with that of Kim's half-brother in the Malaysian airport. In academic circles, it is known as pattern thinking. In most situations like we have now, this is wrong.

          JE comments:  Given that they know the day and approximate hour of the Skripal poisoning, I wouldn't think it would take hundreds of agents very long to uncover something on the videos.  Boris, have you heard any confirmation of the rumor circulating in Salisbury (per Nigel Jones) that two Russian employees of Zizzi have disappeared?  The restaurant has since re-opened, according to its website.  It might be interesting to drop in for a gawk, but would you want to eat there?

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        • Surveillance in UK...and Another Suspicious Death (John Heelan, UK 03/15/18 5:02 AM)
          JE asked on March 14th: "Isn't video surveillance ubiquitous in the UK?"

          Yes, it is! It has been estimated that each of us Brits appears some 300 times per day on CCTV video records, not counting the number of times our vehicles appear on Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems of motorways and local roads.

          By the way, another Russian exile who was close friends with the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky has been found dead in his London home, according to friends. Nikolai Glushkov, 68, was discovered by his family and friends late on Monday night. The cause of death is not yet clear. One of his friends, the newspaper editor Damian Kudryavtsev, posted the news on his Facebook page.

          JE comments:  I hope Boris Volodarsky will comment on this latest incident.  Is this yet another suspicious death, or had Glushkov's natural "time" just come?  Either way, if I were a Russian oligarch on the outs with Putin, I'd avoid the UK altogether.

          Re:  video surveillance.  My 92-year-old aunt recently received a letter from the state of Maryland, accusing her of driving through a toll booth without paying--on her motorcycle!  (Auntie still drives, but on four wheels.)  So much for the infallibility of technology.

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          • "Pattern Thinking" and the Skripal Case (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/17/18 7:43 AM)

            Below are my comments on John Eipper's and John Heelan's posts of 15 March:

            It is indeed a rather time-consuming and laborious effort of a large group of people to check all video footage in town for some time period.  Indeed, to my mind, it is Sisyphean labour.

            Today I had a long session with the team from The Times trying to explain that. To begin with, neither the time nor the place of poisoning have been established so far. As I mentioned in my recent post, they have started working from a wrong assumption and continue to do it ("pattern thinking," as I mentioned before), having as an example a murder case in the Malaysian airport. In the highly developed and experienced world of the Russian murder machine, assassinations are not done in this way. You cannot simply come to the Zizzi restaurant and get deliberately poisoned by a Slavic-looking waiter as well as you cannot drop by the Millennium Bar and get your teacup laced with polonium.

            No, this is not possible in the professional world because the assassins are not hooligans or bandits or idiots. For professional assassins trained by the secret service, to kill a person is to do their job correctly, according to the books. While they must never get caught, they should always think about the deniability so that the state that has sent them and stands behind them could never been caught red-handed and there should always be a place for doubts. So whatever the rumours, whether there were Russian waiters in the Italian restaurant in Salisbury or not, it does not matter. Skripal and his daughter were not poisoned there.

            Regarding the murder of Nikolai Glushkov, whom I knew personally, it is already in all media, at least British and Russian. To my mind, it has a direct link to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter--the latter, to my mind, was an accidental victim. About Glushkov, something like that already happened on 24 November 2006, days after Sasha Litvinenko died--former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar was poisoned in Ireland. Then and now, the world media immediately concentrated on the new victim forgetting the previous case.

            "This is what," one journalist asked me, "the Murder Incorporated?"

            "No," I said, "a professional way to do business. Besides, no one will ever establish it was the work of the Russian agents."

            But let us see what the police say.

            JE comments:  So Glushkov was murdered just to distract the authorities from Skripal?  This is an intriguing--and most disturbing--theory.  Police say that Glushkov died from "compression to the neck."

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            • Update on Skripal Poisoning, Investigation (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/18/18 4:59 AM)
              Further to my previous posts, here are some more details on the Skripal investigation:

              According to the Met deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu, about 400 witnesses have given statements, 762 possible pieces of evidence have been collected and about 4,000 hours of CCTV have been examined.

              "This is an extremely challenging and complex investigation and we currently have around 250 exceptionally experienced and dedicated specialist officers from the counter-terrorism network working around the clock on this case," he said. "They are making good progress in what is a painstaking investigation that is likely to be ongoing for weeks, if not months."

              JE comments:  Meanwhile, the Skripals remain in "critical" condition.  Boris, can you tell us about the pathology of nerve-agent poisoning?  Is it something you can recover from, in the commonly understood sense?

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              • Skripal Update: Nerve Gas and Its Pathology (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/19/18 12:17 PM)
                Having in mind that the Skripals have been reported to remain in "critical" condition since 4 March and no any other information has ever leaked about them, John E asked an extremely important question: "Boris, can you tell us about the pathology of nerve-agent poisoning? Is it something you can recover from, in the commonly understood sense?"

                Here is some official information. The nerve agents take their toll on the body by disrupting electrical signals throughout the nervous system and the effects are fast and dramatic. Victims find it increasingly hard to breathe. Their lungs produce more mucus which can make them cough and foam at the mouth. They sweat, their pupils constrict, and their eyes run. The effects on the digestive system trigger vomiting. Meanwhile the muscles convulse. Many of those affected will wet themselves and lose control of their bowels. At high doses, failure of the nerves and muscles of the respiratory system can kill before other symptoms have time to develop.

                I guess every WAISer can make his or her own conclusion, provided last Sunday (18 March) was exactly two weeks since the Skripals were rushed to hospital (she--by airlift, he--by an ambulance). And I stress it is a small provincial Salisbury hospital that usually takes care of elderly people or an occasional accident.

                JE comments:  I'll have to conclude from the above that the prognosis for the Skripals is grim.  The latest theory on how the nerve agent was delivered:  through the air vents of the Skripals' BMW.

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                • Skripal Case: I Know the Salisbury Hospital Well (Nigel Jones, UK 03/20/18 4:51 AM)
                  Oddly enough, I have personal experience of the very hospital that Boris Volodarsky describes as the "small provincial Salisbury hospital" where Sergei and Yulia Skripal are being treated for nerve agent poisoning. Even more coincidentally, both experiences were of the kind Boris characterised as "care of elderly people and the occasional accident."

                  My partner's octogenarian mother died there last July, and three years previously I was treated for a cracked rib sustained from falling off a bicycle. Care on both occasions--despite the disdain generally held for Britain's free National Health Service--was exemplary.

                  A more famous patient there a few years ago was Madonna, during her brief stint as an English country lady while married to the film director Guy Ritchie. On that occasion the hospital's whole Accident and Emergency department was closed while Madge discussed her treatment with her regular New York physician in a long Trans-Atlantic phone call.

                  She was treated for minor injuries sustained by falling from a horse--a gift from Sting's spouse Trudie Styler: All were then local residents.

                  Regarding the condition of the Skripals, the Sunday Times reported two days ago that both were "close to death." Neither is expected to survive.

                  JE comments:  I first learned of the Skripal poisoning from Nigel Jones, for whom this is very much a local story.  Is the Press camped outside the Salisbury hospital, or has everyone gone home?  Either way, the news updates on the Skripals' condition are surprisingly few.

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                • Further Thoughts on How the Skripals Were Poisoned (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/20/18 7:52 AM)
                  About how the nerve agent was delivered in the Skripal case, there are many theories.

                  After seeing Skripal's car, the American newspapers suggested he was poisoned through the air vents of his BMW. The Telegraph thought that Yulia Skripal brought the container with the nerve agent, recently identified as "Novichok," in her luggage from Moscow. The Sun believed there was a mini-drone sprinkling poison like an agricultural machine. 

                  In short, plenty of ideas but none of them is close to reality, because this is not how the professional "hit" is carried out.

                  I certainly have my own theory (and it is going to appear in print soon), but I cannot of course be sure whether it is the only option. Anyway, if any member of the WAISdom has any suggestion--I can promise it will be carefully considered. Usually WAISers have plenty of extraordinary ideas. I sometimes regret that not one of us has written A Brief History of Time.

                  JE comments:  Or more to the point, why didn't we press-gang Stephen Hawking into WAIS?

                  Micro-drone killings are the stuff of thriller films, but one can be sure spymasters everywhere are doing their drone R & D.  Boris, have there been any high-level assassinations carried out this way?  (I don't mean the huge and expensive drones, American-style, but tiny ones with poison or similar.)

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        • Retaliation for Skripal Poisoning? Response to Boris Volodarsky (Istvan Simon, USA 03/19/18 2:48 PM)
          Boris Volodarsky's response (March 14th) to my post on possible UK retaliation for the Skripal poisoning was inelegant and perhaps not WAISworthy.

          Boris says that he is confident that Her Majesty will think twice before appointing me her Prime Minister. Well, all I have to say about this flippant remark, is that:

          1. I was not campaigning for the job, nor would I be eligible, as I am not a UK citizen.

          2. That Boris should have thought twice before writing such an insulting sentence in a WAIS post, particularly when I merely answered a question that he had posed specifically to me.

          3. That her Majesty's Government has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats, which was one of my options, so maybe I am not doing so badly after all.

          4. That my Option 1, retaliation, may be terrorism, as Boris says, but then what does he call the assassination of Litvinenko, and attempted assassination of Skripal and his daughter, and the reckless endangerment of the lives of 500 UK residents through an extremely potent and dangerous nerve agent?

          5. That breaking diplomatic relations with Russia of course means that Russia would break diplomatic relations with the UK, so Boris, there is no need to state the obvious.

          6. That freezing Russian assets would ensue freezing of British assets in Russia. Again this is an obvious counterpoint.

          7. Regarding the Litvinenko case, Boris, I do not believe you at all. Clearly there was plenty of evidence to indict Lugovoy and Kovtun, and Russia's subsequent actions in protecting them from extradition is both highly suspicious and further evidence of their probable involvement. Mind you, in civilized countries, as the UK undoubtedly is, an indictment is not the same as a conviction. This is perhaps a subtle point that escapes Putin, so if extradited Lugovoy and Kovtun could well be cleared in a fair trial in which their attorneys would have plenty of opportunity to present their defense.

          8. Regarding solidarity from other countries, Boris is right that this is hard to obtain. Nonetheless, initial reactions to the attempted assassination, followed by a suspicious death of another Putin opponent, were encouraging.  These reactions were a reminder that the UK is not alone, even after Brexit. Incidentally, along these lines, the UK should pass a Magnitsky act, something that the Kremlin is definitively very afraid of, as its involvement in Trump's election clearly shows.

          9. Finally let me flip Boris's question back at him: What would you do, Boris, as PM to discourage Putin from ever doing this again?

          Let us just see if Her Majesty would be more inclined to name Boris PM than me.

          JE comments:  A very naive UK civics question from ol' JE:  doesn't your party have to win an election before you become Prime Minister?  (Confirmation from the monarch is just a formality...right?)

          Although I'm sure Boris Volodarsky meant no offense with his comments, I should remind WAISers that the tone of a post is easily misconstrued.  When WAISing, it's best to avoid irony and overt sarcasm, even gentle teasing.

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          • Retaliation for Skripal Poisoning? The Options are Few (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 03/21/18 3:59 AM)

            Answering Istvan Simon’s post of 19 March, I first of all want to assure Istvan that my comments were in no way meant to be offensive.  Rather it was a bit of friendly teasing and joking, and I am very sorry that Istvan understood them the way he did.

            To start with the premiership, I am not a politician, so exactly like Istvan, will not be eligible for the PM job. And even if I were, I would not like to be the prime minister of any country, even such a beautiful, lawful, traditional and democratic one like Great Britain, which I truly love.

            More to the point, the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats was perhaps the right move, although we remember that there were more in similar cases--for example, Oleg Lyalin, September 1971, when 105 Soviet officials were expelled, or Oleg Gordievsky, 35 expulsions.  By contrast, as a counter measure after the Litvinenko poisoning, only four junior Russian "diplomats"/intelligence officers had to leave Britain.

            In what concerns the poisonings of Sasha Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal (plus his daughter), this is certainly not terrorism but individual assassinations of the Kremlin opponents outside of Russia--in full conformity with the Russian law adopted in July 2006, I have to add. And I assure you that there was no "reckless endangerment of the lives" of British citizens, let alone 500 or so. The only known victim is one British policeman from Wiltshire, which, no doubt, is very unfortunate. Others--about two hundred--who supposedly visited the Italian restaurant and the Mills pub were advised to wash their clothes, just in case. I, however, agree that both venomous agents--an unknown poison in the Litvinenko case that contained extremely dangerous Po-210 salt, and an unknown nerve agent in the Skripal case that reminds one of the very potent Russian binary chemical weapon of the "Novichok" class--are very hazardous.  The latter is virtually unknown in the West.

            I also fully agree with Istvan that there were all grounds to indict Lugovoy and perhaps even Kovtun, as both were in this or that way present on the crime scene, and at least one of them, Lugovoy, was certainly involved in the operation although without any doubt unwittingly in what concerns actual poisoning, but here Russia is acting according to its constitution that forbids the extradition of Russian citizens.

            Regarding possible political steps that may "discourage Putin from ever doing that again," I honestly do not see any. Perhaps full solidarity of the Free World, to which Russia does not belong and probably never will, may help to temporarily limit the Kremlin’s everlasting desire to murder its opponents wherever and whoever they are. But, as we all know, Russian has been involved in such activities from October 1917 and to this day practically non-stop and in most of the cases, let us say until the second half of the Cold War, the West was completely silent so maybe something will change now, although I doubt it will be the statements of Mr Corbyn who, unlike Istvan and myself, has a real chance of becoming the British prime minister.

            So was the public put at risk during the Skripal operation?  Health officials said on March 8 that 21 people had initially been treated
            for possible exposure to the nerve agent.
            By the end of last week, the officials said they had contacted 131 people
            who might have come into contact with the substance. But only three people
            remain in a serious or critical condition; the Skripals and Detective
            Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was one of the first to attend to the victims. DS Bailey is also known to have gone to Mr Skripal’s house,
            suggesting he may have been exposed to the poison there. Two other
            officers, PC Alex Way and PC Alex Collins, also attended to the Skripals on
            the bench at the Maltings but do not appear to have had any health issues.
            Public Health England insisted the “immediate risk to those affected is
            extremely low."

            JE comments:  Boris, your coverage of the Skripal case has been excellent.  When time allows, could you send an overview of the 2006 Russian law?  I must certainly contain wording other than "the regime reserves the right to murder its critics and political enemies, regardless of where they may be."

            And for that matter, why do these attacks seem to happen only in the UK?

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            • Jeremy Corbyn: PM-in-Waiting? (John Heelan, UK 03/21/18 12:38 PM)
              Boris Volodarsky wrote on 21 March about "Mr Corbyn who...has a real chance of becoming the British prime minister."

              Hopefully not! The hard-left activist group Momentum is gradually infiltrating local constituency Labour Parties, Trades unions and senior policy-making committees of the Labour Party, using faux-democratic Trotskyist "French Turn" tactics.

              More worrying, it has started to reveal its Stalinist (Putin-esque?) teeth by threatening to arrange the deselection of local parliamentary candidates that refuse to commit to supporting Corbyn's policies post-election. We have already lived through the mismanagement of previous UK Labour governments after 1945 (especially the trades union-dominated policies of the '70s and '80s), and that of Blair (who is still ducking and dodging potential criticism by the Chilcott Inquiry on the launch of the Iraq War).

              Already the Corbyn team has revealed the weakness of its fiscal plans.

              JE comments: And Corbyn is especially quick to downplay Russian involvement in the Skripal affair.  Here's a piece from yesterday's Independent:


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              • Alexander Nix Scandal (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 03/22/18 5:03 AM)

                When commenting the passionate comment of John Heelan (21 March), our wise moderator JE attached an article from the British newspaper The Independent, which quotes from Alexander Nix, ousted Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica:

                "There are things that don't necessarily need to be true. As long as they are believed."

                The newspaper reports this statement in a rather defamatory way, but frankly I found it extremely realistic, especially from my experiences in Italy (but not only).

                In history and in politics (and love?), things do not need to be true as long as they are believed.

                Frankly, it has been this way since the earliest times. Unfortunately the average person believes that his or her side is telling the truth while believing that one's adversary is telling falsehoods.

                By the way, Putin cannot be compared with "Uncle Joe" Stalin.  One is an authoritarian nationalist (a necessary enemy), the other was a bloodthirsty communist dictator (a necessary ally and then a necessary enemy).

                JE comments:  But which one is bloodthirsty, and which one is the authoritarian nationalist?

                Returning to Nix, who was recently, well, nixed from Cambridge Analytica:  wasn't he supposed to mine Facebook and other social media for political shenanigans?  The biggest "shame on you" might be for Zuckerberg, who allowed his website to be hacked for political ends.  Or do I misunderstand?

                And what about Trump's America First?  Couldn't he find a US company to do his shady data-mining?

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                • Nix Scandal; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/23/18 12:47 PM)

                  Gary Moore writes:

                  Re: Eugenio Battaglia (March 22) and JE's apt comment:

                  True, there is nothing earthshakingly
                  new in the cynical remark video-recorded from Alexander Nix, the now-notorious
                  social media manipulator at Cambridge Analytica, who patiently explained:
                  "There are things that don't necessarily need to be true. As long
                  as they are believed."

                  Earthshaking? I mean, did Mussolini really
                  have to get the trains to run on time, as long as people believed they were?
                  And on the same terrain, did Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI)
                  really have to get all those souls out of purgatory in exchange for
                  handsome indulgence payments, if people believed they were?

                  So what's new with Nix? Well, there's the power of technological change
                  behind his happy sociopathy. But then also it was techno-gadgetry (the
                  hidden video camera) that ratted him out. And so (returning to the terrain)
                  is Lorenzo Valla's challenge still much the same: Courage, ye fighters
                  for truth. For even if nobody can say what ultimate truth is, it's sometimes
                  not quite so hard to show what is and is not a lie.


                  JE comments:  I've been thinking all day about the best Variety-inspired Nix headline:  Slick Tricks Deep-Six Nix?  Anybody got a better one?

                  "Happy sociopathy"--that's a brilliant way to put it, Gary.

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                  • Another Nix Fix (John Heelan, UK 03/24/18 7:25 AM)
                    John E asked for suggestions on Variety-inspired Alexander Nix headlines. His suggestion: "Slick Tricks Deep-Six Nix."

                    How about "Nixed Slipping Facemask Suckers Zucker"?

                    JE comments:  Who's next with the Nix Shtick?  I hope to assemble a list...of at least six.

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                    • Gary Moore Adds to the Nix Mix (John Eipper, USA 03/25/18 5:20 AM)
                      Gary Moore sends this suggestion for a Variety-inspired Alexander Nix headline:

                      Sick Nix Tricks Kicked, Fixed?

                      JE comments:  There's gotta be a Nix Flick in the making--picture the intrigue, the hubris, and the public's love of a good comeuppance.  Working title:  Licks for Nix.

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            • Skripal Poisoning Update: Three Victims (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/08/18 5:16 AM)
              The Skripals had a cat and two guinea pigs, but in spite of advice from a veterinary, the police sealed them inside the house and they starved to death.

              JE comments: Animal-lovers everywhere (and everywhere in WAISworld) are horrified.  (WAIS Deputy Editor Goska the Cat is quaking next to me as I write this.)  However, I suspect the Skripal pets would have been destroyed in any case, because of possible nerve-gas contamination.  If so, I would place the blame for the deaths firmly on the assassins, not the British police.

              Who is making much hay of the kitty-cavy tragedy?  The Russians:


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  • Retaliation for Skripal Poisoning? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 03/13/18 7:54 AM)
    Oh, my goodness, after reading Istvan Simon's post of March 11th, I realized that the latest act from the terrible, abhorrent, reckless, ruthless, brazen criminal devil Putin goes against Good itself. I am terribly scared and I do not know where to safely hide.

    Anyway, as my contribution I promise to re-read the publications of the great peacemaker Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928-2017).

    A few consideration, however, can be made:

    1) The culprit of the Skripal poisoning has not yet been found, much less indicted or convicted.

    2) I have no liking for traitors, no matter what their nationality.

    3) If I am not mistaken, when Mossad killed five Iranian scientists (see "Spies against Armageddon" by Dan Rirv and Yessi Melman), nobody in the West raised a fuss.

    4) The CIA and US drones kill at will all around the world, without regard for civilians. We should also not forget the other useless wars which killed innocents. This was not two deaths, but hundreds of thousands or even more.

    5) It seems that the Empire in order to function needs an enemy, and a devilish one of course.

    Who knows, maybe Trump will be the saviour of Europe, as after his new customs wars, most of Europe (except UK and Poland?) may wake up and finally build a "New Europe" and reject its colonial status. This would include inviting the US troops to leave along with their nukes, which after all have been placed in Europe in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    JE comments: This is a classic "and you lynch African-Americans" response from Eugenio Battaglia, but Eugenio is correct that the Skripal case has not been solved.  Still, the incident has the unmistakable Putin "signature"--so much that if you seek to murder a Russian person in the UK, wouldn't poison be the best method, to throw the authorities off your scent?

    Istvan Simon has offered his suggestions for retaliation.  Stay tuned.

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