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UPDATE: Russian economy continues to strengthen in October

The Russian economy continues its slow rebound from recession in October, though the pace of recovery continues to be held back by the Central Bank’s harsh counter inflation strategy.

Alexander Mercouris

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Russia’s economy continued to strengthen in October, with industrial output 5.8% higher than in September (the biggest rise since April) and inflation falling to an annual rate of 6.1% (below market expectations).  Inflation at the end of November will probably be below 6%.  Both manufacturing and services PMI were in positive territory 52.40 and 52.70 respectively).

Meanwhile Russia continues to be in line for a record grain harvest this year of around 106 million tonnes. 

This reflects an across the board strengthening of the Russia’s whole agriculture sector, which is growing at an annual rate of around 3%. 

The country in a few years has managed to become self-sufficient in pork and poultry where it was previously a big importer, and it should soon be self sufficient in beef as well, at which point it will have become entirely self-sufficient in all meat products.

The transformation in Russia’s agriculture sector has enabled the country to cut food imports by 10% this year from those of the previous year.  Russia this year for the first time in its history is set to overtake the US to become the world’s biggest exporter of wheat, and it has also become a net exporter of certain other food products such as chicken meat. 

The days when Russian consumers bought chicken legs imported from the US (known locally as “Bush’s legs”) are gone.  In the words of Russian Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev

“To compare, ten years ago food import exceeded export volumes four times, and now export volume is only 1.5 time lower than import volume. Export growth is due to the increased supply of wheat (by 32%) and sunflower oil (by 15%)”.

Tkachev has predicted that if government support for the agricultural sector remains at current levels, then by 2020 the value of the country’s food exports will equal that of its food imports. 

With Russian agri-businesses now investing heavily in increasing food and vegetable output (the main food products Russia is still importing), the country looks set in the 2020s to become a major food exporter, with Russian Prime Minister Medvedev predicting that food exports will soon become Russia’s second biggest foreign currency earner after energy exports.

Tkachev’s comment about the importance of government support being necessary to ensure the continued growth of Russia’s agricultural sector is undoubtedly what lies behind Putin’s gnomic comment of a few days ago that even if Western sanctions on Russia are lifted, Russia will drag its heels as long as it can before it lifts the retaliatory ban it imposed on food imports from the EU. 

RT reports Putin saying

“We really did it responsibly and, in fact, used the short-sighted decisions that had been applied in regard to our country by our so-called partners, who introduced the sanctions.”

(bold italics added)

In truth for Russia’s agricultural sector EU sanctions have been an unqualified boon, with the counter sanctions weaning the country off imports at a speed that seems to have surprised even the Russian government, whilst providing a major boost for domestic production.

Though the Russians doubtless will drag their heels on lifting the counter sanctions, my opinion is that the country’s agricultural sector has now gained sufficient critical mass that it will continue to grow rapidly even once sanctions are lifted.  Moreover by prohibiting the growth in Russia of GM foods the Russians authorities are helping this process along by successfully fostering the idea amongst many Russians that their own food is healthier and better than food imported from the West. 

With Russia now even successfully producing reasonable substitutes for expensive imported cheeses like Parmesan, the days when it was possible to write pieces about Russians lamenting the disappearance of imported cheese are all but gone.

It is conventional in the West to think of Russia as a land of boring food, of food queues and of food shortages, and this image of the country once contained much more than a grain of truth.  However when travelling to Russia today the impression on the contrary is of great variety in food and above all of abundance

As I have discussed many times previously, by far the single biggest constraint on growth is the Central Bank’s single minded focus on its counter inflation policy, which aims to bring the annual rate of inflation by the end of 2014 down to 4%.

What this has meant in practice is sky high real interest rates – the highest by far of any major economy – and falling real incomes, as short term growth is being sacrificed to bring down inflation. 

With the government now committed for the next three years to a policy of fiscal consolidation aimed at extinguishing the budget deficit by 2020, there is no countervailing fiscal stimulus to offset the Central Bank’s emphasis on inflation reduction, which is why growth is slow.  The result is that even as the country exits recession living standards continue to fall, a fact which however  as I have discussed previously – is something which the Central Bank almost certainly privately welcomes because it increases the economy’s competitiveness and reduces inflation by depressing demand, even as it prevents the economy from growing.

At some point however interest rates will fall as inflation falls to the Central Bank’s target, and with Central Bank Chair Nabiullina predicting that the remaining foreign debt owed by Russian banks will have been paid off by the end of 2017 conditions in the economy for a return to higher sustained growth (around 4% per annum) in the 2020s are being put in place.  If oil prices recover more quickly, then of course growth might even come sooner though as a consequence of the deliberate policy of the government the importance of the oil price to the state of the economy is diminishing.

In the meantime the fall in investment is levelling off, the exchange rate of the rouble has stabilised, and foreign direct investment in the Russian economy in anticipation of its future expansion is growing again.

This is the state of the Russian economy today.  In some areas such as agriculture the results of government policy are already bearing fruit.  In others such as industry and manufacturing it remains very much a work in progress.  However talk of the economy being a basket case or in any sort of crisis is nonsense.

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Every dirty Democrat trick shows in bid to oust Kavanaugh

American democracy truly is mob rule now, and the mob is stupid, with no one taking a moment to truly consider the situation.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The most amazing thing about what is ostensibly the last minute “Hail Mary” smear campaign by the left against Judge Brett Kavanaugh is how utterly transparently partisan it is. Let’s look at the list of tactics used thus far in this very dirty escapade:

  • Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein sat on this allegation for three months, until after the confirmation hearings were over (and after no other barnstorming tactic during the confirmation hearings worked against the nominee).
  • The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is a registered Democrat, and a feminist. RT notes that she appears to have a strong interest in politics.
  • Reports of “death threats” against Dr. Ford have been reported. This is a common feature of any anti-Trump attack, to relate him to some sort of “right-wing” radicalism. This radicalism does not exist among conservatives, but the media is determined to say otherwise.
  • Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, naturally, believes Ford’s story.
  • Every Democrat senator is in agreement that this matter should table the confirmation vote. Some Republicans were at first but appear to be backing away.
  • A woman Democrat senator,  Mazie Hirono, went on record telling men to “shut up and step up.” It seems abundantly clear that this assumes that there can only be one “step” that the men are expected to do. A second lady senator , Patty Murray of Washington, gave all men a warning against stepping off the plantation by saying “Women are watching.”
  • The Senate Republicans offered a chance for Dr Ford to testify on Monday. She refused, but now she is offering to come “next Thursday” – this is ten days later, past the October 1 start date of the US Supreme Court, and closer to the November Midterm elections.

We interrupt this list to make this point. The issues at hand are threefold.

First, the Democrats and other left-wing activists are terrified that they will lose the “Warren Court”, which is the name of the Supreme Court Justice who was a major left-wing judicial activist that enabled the Court to “legislate from the bench” along liberal policy lines since 1969. If Kavanaugh comes in, even if President Trump is somehow magically removed from office, his mark will remain on the Court for at least a generation. Of course, the removal of President Trump is predicated on the Democrats regaining control of the House, which actually looks somewhat likely if polling data is to be believed, and of course a Democrat Senate. (The actual tiny caveat that the President has done absolutely nothing which warrants impeachment will not be taken into consideration. He is to be eliminated. That is Democrat point number one, and make no mistake.)

Second, if the Judge is confirmed, it will look great on the President’s achievement list and energize his voter base even more than it already is. The result could be that the Senate expands its Republican majority, and gains Trumpian conservatives in its ranks, which would likely help the President continue his really great agenda. A defeat in the House that holds or expands GOP, again with Trumpian conservatives, would solidify this, and make it more difficult to stop Trump’s re-election and further solidification of reforms in 2020.

Third, and probably even more important, is that the possibility of a third seat getting vacated on the Court in the time period between now and 2024 is relatively high. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest Justice on the Court, and she is a raving liberal. If she retires (which she promises not to do), or if she is retired by the processes of old age, Trump can score a three-peat and get a third constitutionalist justice into the Court and that will signal the closure of one of the biggest avenues of liberal activism.

To return to the list, some of the further characteristics that make this situation patently obvious are these:

  • As reported in The Duran, the smear job is looking a bit ragged around the edges as time goes by. President Trump called Dr Ford’s bluff by saying he is interested in having her come to testify and that it would be “unfortunate” if she didn’t do so. Ford’s response was as shown above, to try and delay this testimony.
  • The Hollywood “sisterhood” is on record defending Dr Ford. For them, she’s right. She said Kavanaugh did this, so she is right. And why? Because she is a woman, a feminist and a Democrat. She is one of them. It would very interesting to know if the sisterhood would stand behind a conservative woman raising such a concern against a Democrat, but we have President Clinton to show how well that all went.

This by no means concludes the list of characteristics, but as noted earlier here, anyone that does even just a little critical thinking about this can see that this issue is no moral outrage, it is strictly partisan hackery, making use of the greatest weapon against conservative men put in use over the last fifty years – the sexual allegation from a woman, who must always be believed, because the woman is always right. 

The unfortunate truth is that this tactic works. It works because most men are actually gentlemen. We honor women, and we are taught to defer to them in America, because that is what a gentleman does. Feminism takes this characteristic of men, especially in modern times who really want to make sure they treat the ladies right, and it throws it back in their face in contempt. It is so bad it even has a physiological effect on men, who are now marrying less, and having fewer kids. There are even physiological changes that result from this abuse.

Further, there is an appalling lack of critical thinking in our society. The British news site, The Independent offers a poll with questions about the Kavanaugh case. The astonishing lack of critical thinking is clearly evident as the reader votes his or her thought and then sees the results for that question. Going through the questions and observing their responses can be very illuminating.

Dr Ford is demanding an FBI investigation, but she has no date, time or location attached to the incident she accuses now-Judge Kavanaugh of perpetrating. Rush Limbaugh did a great job at showing just how absurd this demand actually is, given these glaring areas of non-knowledge and we include some of that transcript below:

What would happen, let’s say — I don’t know — in the last 10 years up to last week if any woman had walked into any FBI office in the country and said the following: “Hi. I’m here to report that I was abused 35 years ago. I was — I was — I was at a party. Uh, I was 15, a little bit to drink, and a 17-year-old guy pushed me down on top of a table and laid on top of me. And then — and then and then I think — I think — a friend came in and did something and anyway they left and I was left locked in the room. And I want to you to investigate.”

Do you think if somebody shows up at an FBI office with that story, if they show up in person with that story, that the FBI is gonna give it any time whatsoever? The agents are gonna look at each other with kind of wary eyes and they’re gonna crack silent jokes to one another. I’m not kidding. You take this out of the realm of a letter to a crazed, partisan United States senator, Dianne Feinstein, and just move this into the victim walking into an FBI office, “It was 35 years, 34 years. I’m not sure where. But I know that when I was 15, I was at a party, and some guy jumped on top of me.”

So let’s say the FBI agent decides to actually take this further and in a very respectful way says, “Well, Miss, were you raped or injured?”

“Uh, no, not really.”

“Did you report this or tell anyone at the time, 36, 35 years ago?”

“Uh, no.”

“What year was this, again, that this happened?”

“Uhhh, I’m not — I’m not sure. I think it was 1982.”

“Where did this happen?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know. I was so traumatized; I don’t remember any of it. I just remember some guy jumping on me and I was drunk and — and I don’t know. But I want you to investigate it.”

“Okay. Ma’am, were there any witnesses?”

“Just the one friend of his that pushed him off, and then they left before he could do anything.”

What would the FBI do with this, if that scenario happened in one of their field offices? I will tell you what they would do: Zip, zero, nada. And the reason for bringing it up this way is to try to shine some kind of a different light on this and try to put this kind of allegation in some kind of context. The president is handling this in a quite fascinating way. He’s saying, “I hope she shows up. I want to hear what she has to say. I really hope she shows up. I’m very interested in what she has to say. We all are. And if she shows up and if she’s credible, why, then we’re gonna have to do something about that.”

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Russian Hierarch explains Ukrainian issue in detail (VIDEO)

A Russian Orthodox Hierarch explores the incursion of earthly politics into the life, pastoral activity and needs of the Orthodox Church.

Seraphim Hanisch

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RT’s “Worlds Apart” interview program recently interviewed Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), a hierarch who heads the Department of External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The Duran has covered the crisis in Ukraine surrounding the activity of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, of Constantinople, intended to create a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This effort falls completely outside the normal and authorized operating procedures of the Orthodox Church, but to the lay listener it is difficult to understand what the fuss really is all about.

Metropolitan Hilarion and Oksana Boyko do an excellent job with both the answers, but more importantly, the questions, since Ms. Boyko asks the questions that someone who knows nothing about the Church might ask. This situation is completely about politics and not about the true work of the Church, and Met. Hilarion answers these questions very completely and thoroughly.

One of the really interesting points that Met. Hilarion makes is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch seeks to bring about the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from these four groups:

  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (which is canonical and which has not requested self-rule, called autocephaly
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church “Kyiv Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko, which is a completely schismatic group. This group, and Filaret, are leading the charge.
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church – another schismatic group that is not in communion with Filaret’s church
  • The Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine – and this is truly interesting, because this group is not even Orthodox, but is an Eastern Rite group under the Pope of Rome, and is in fact Roman Catholic.

The notion of bringing together such a disparity of groups is stunning to the Metropolitan, and yet he understands the motives of the men driving this idea, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Filaret Denisenko.

While the United States is not mentioned in this interview in any prominent sense, it should be noted that this move also does have strong US support as the American political leadership has been advocating for the Poroshenko government in an effort to continue to surround and isolate Russia. As we have noted elsewhere, this series of moves may well create more problems for Russia, by design.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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