The Propaganda Game

The politics and Propaganda of Professor Stephen Cohen

It has been a year now since the Euromaidan protests helped bring down the government over corruption charges. Despite calls for unity, Ukraine quickly dissolved into a low level conflict with high level international stakes. Tragic as it may be, with (though likely under-reported) nearly 5400 deaths, according to the United Nations, that still makes Ukraine’s 45.5 million people far s safer than the United States with more than 17,000 homicides. By scale it certainly isn’t close to the nearly 200 thousand killed in Bosnia, 50,000 killed on all sides during the Kosovo conflict. In fact, it is nominally worse than the 1000 or so killed in the short-lived Russo-Georgian conflict of 2008-09. What Ukraine is, instead is a crime, a fact concealed deftly by propagandists such as the pro-Russian apologist Professor Stephen Cohen.

In my book, “A Tragic Fate: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Flight 17 and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation,” (2015) I detail the superpower race for control of strategic oil and gas reserves, driven by short-sighted economic imperatives. In the United States and Russia, both government officials and their respective media concealed or misrepresented from the beginning the true nature of the Ukrainian crime. While the Right in this country is blinded jingoistic rhetoric and partisan disdain for Barack Obama, the Left has been fooled into assumptions of a Nazi-led government in Kiev, conspiracy tales around the downing of MH-17 in July, as well as historic and ethnic paradigms driving the conflict. Chief among those propagandists duping the Left is Princeton Professor Stephen Cohen.

Cohen is a contributor to the nation and virtually the only guest regarding Ukraine and Russia on the Thom Hartmann Show and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now. This morning Chen brushed past the issue of US and Russian complicity in the Ukraine crisis over their mutual competition for oil and gas reserves, coincidentally located precisely where the fighting is occurring, and instead laid out the historical and ethnic argument for Russia’s intervention and interest in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. “A Tragic Fate,” shows that the historic and ethnic argument is in fact an excuse, a distraction to hide the real crime. Certainly, as an elite academic, Cohen, a frequent guest on RT (Russia Today), Moscow’s version of FOX, with ties to Russian President Putin, has at the very least access to the same sources sighted in “A Tragic Fate.”

The characterization of conflicts in Ethnic and historical false narratives contributed to the Nazi excuse for invading neighbors under the ruse of protecting ethnic Germans, or in reclaiming territory. It is a fundamental propaganda tool in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and characterizes ever genocide in history. In Bosnia and Kosovo propagandists on all sides frequently explained or excused war crimes in terms of historical and ethnic narratives. An often and all too lazy foreign press, particularly in the West, are all too happy to accept those narratives because, as I was told by a well-known local network journalist at the height of the Bosnian conflict, it fits with a simple good guy-bad guy story that is easy to report.

That laziness and ignorance is not as simple and innocent as it may seem. Behind the scenes propagandists connected to or loyal to the parties of a conflict, as well as a myriad of public and private voices with their own interests are vying for the public’s attention. The press, which in between the weekend weather report and what to shop for and where, slips in those carefully crafted headlines, selling you cartoonish good guy-bad guys stories. Ukraine is no different, and it seems that the Prof. Cohen is in the business of selling; it appears that the Leftwing media is buying. As for the Rightwing media, they just believe the world is one big tribal football game.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “Shoot Down: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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A Tragic Fate: Excerpt from the Book

A TRAGIC FATE: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation, by WC Turck is currently available as an e-book on Amazon.com

Trust. This is not a conspiracy book, nor does it shy away from indictments or an objective exploration of glaring and alarming questions that remain. And there are many. But, we live in a cynical age in which the message from government, corporations, pranksters and the insipidly ignorant can reach millions as never before. It is a world that trades humanity for marketing and truth for messaging. These forces can and routinely do manipulate the truth and audiences in ways and in numbers never before imagined. And they do it without conscience, certainly to sow confusion and misinformation, and most often simply for profit.
JCOVER
In the early 20th century leaders like the Soviet dictator Josip Stalin and other Communist leaders routinely edited dissidents or former colleagues whom had fallen from favor from photographs. The method was terribly crude and always obvious. Now we have the technology and craftsmanship to photoshop with uncanny precision whole new realities. It is simple and almost seamless to place a person in Idaho onto the rings of Saturn with little or no ability, but the viewer’s penchant for reason and sanity to discern whether or not he is actually standing upon those rings at the far side of the solar system.

This is also not a nationalist or propaganda screed. The reader searching for accusations of neo-fascism by the interim Ukrainian government, warnings of an awakening Russian bear under Putin threatening the free world or the moral superiority of the United States and the West will be sorely disappointed. Fanciful conspiracies about bombs placed by Mossad agents on board the plane, or that MH-17 is really the lost flight 370, tales of rogue Zionists or the Illuminati are the laziest form of intellectual masturbation. They have no place here. The greatest tragedy to emerge, as the reader will find, is a failure on many levels of many governments and people.

This is also not an indictment of conspiracy theorists. I know many, and I know many to be good friends and neighbors. Those wishing to impugn all believers in conspiracy as tin foil wearing sods are themselves delusional and/or misinformed. There is ample reason to believe in conspiracies. There is ample reason people often gravitate to conspiracy theories as well, aside from the slickly marketed PR and propaganda efforts of individuals and groups. Conspiracies exist. The CIA, the NSA, the security services and corporate boardrooms the world over are forms of conspiracies. Many view the banking crisis of the first decade of the 21st Century as a conspiracy. The housing and foreclosure crisis in the United States was very definitely a conspiracy. And by parceling truth and parsing words to their citizen’s governments engage in and feed conspiracy believers.

Some belief in conspiracy is healthy and necessary. Too much is fiction and dangerous to civil society. The line between the two is nebulous and ever-changing. This book does not seek to explore or exploit that line.

Still, it must be noted that we live in an age in with Truth is malleable and lies are truth. It is a line, once crossed, that we can never return to. In the absence of truth we are only left with pain, and the pain of others, whose priority must be negotiated. In reality, with the death of truth, we have become truth. We have become our own truth. In defending our island of truth we must negotiate a compromise with the truths of others. In that common ground we can begin to tear away the inhuman waste of cynicism.

There is a difference in rendering the truth and inventing it. Modern journalism, degraded as lawyerism, marketing, advocacy and propaganda has so degraded the quality of news as to call into question everything. That would potentially be a good thing in a world of a properly educated and skeptical populace, but here and now the garbage in garbage out adage unfortunately holds true.

Still, rendering the truth as accurately as possible must remain the ultimate standard. We are all witnesses to history, and if we render the present incorrectly what handicap or legacy do we create for the future? What does that do for the history of our time yet to be written?

First and paramount to this narrative is respect and compassion for the victims and their families. To that end it was the circumstances of their deaths which define the story. It is our nature to see ourselves in their place as a means of understanding and learning. That gives their lives added value. Their story has value because they have value. The passengers, crew and families were victims and as such they deserve and we all should demand justice. We would wish the same were we sitting in those seats high above eastern Ukraine that July afternoon ourselves. At the very least, that justice should come in the form of accuracy and sincerity.

The narrative relies on competent and rational media sources, direct photographic and video evidence collected and archived from the very beginning of the disaster. It also relies upon the author’s own experience and knowledge. The author comes to this with nearly 20 years in the airline business and the first hand experience of war. With a ready disdain for authority, a healthy skeptical nature and a distrust of media and governments, each fact, piece of evidence and report is filtered through that perspective. It was perspective that served the author while moving across that fractured entities of what was once Yugoslavia, and across war-torn frontlines.

The author readily admits a disdain for authority, especially in this circumstance. Authority pre-supposes rank, hierarchy, and by default control, submission and censorship. This book follows wholeheartedly the advice to writers by the late Serbian writer Danilo Kis,

“Believe you are more powerful than generals, but do not use them as a measuring rod.
Do not team up with anyone, the writer stands alone.
Do not believe in prophets, for you are a prophet.
Do not be a prophet: your power is doubt.
Do not seek moral justifications for those guilty of betrayal.
Study the thought of others, then reject it.
Do not imagine that writers are the “conscience of humanity”: you have seen too many scoundrels among them.
Do not let anyone tell you that you are a nobody: you have seen that warlords fear poets.
Grant no favors to princes and warlords.
Do not be tolerant out of good manners.
If you cannot say the truth, say nothing…”

The intention was to collect the evidence as thoroughly as possible and present it in a compelling way. The intention is not to move the reader to one political or ideological point of view, but to move the reader closer to their own humanity and to humanity in general. A terrible crime was committed in the skies above eastern Ukraine, and someone ought to be held to account for that.

Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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MH-17: Reconstruction of a Disaster

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming investigation into the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine. This reconstruction is based upon credible and verifiable news sources from around the planet…

Inside the cabin, the stewards and flight attendants were busy with meal service. The passengers were contented with in-flight entertainment. The flight so far has been routine, even mundane. There were still more than 8 hours remaining to Kuala Lumpur. The passengers were thinking of their final destination, making connections, seeing loved ones, business meetings and sleeping in their own beds again.

Far below, others are animated for war. Ten miles to the south of quiet little Hrabove a convoy of military vehicles rumbled through the town of Snizhne, one of them was recognized as a SA-11 surface to air BUK missile launcher. A June 29th post by the rebels bragged about being in possession of at least one captured BUK missile system after overrunning an airbase.

Local reports put the convoy in the town around lunchtime. Atop the tracked vehicle four missiles, each18 feet long, were unmistakable for a group of Associated Press journalists covering the war. A man in fatigues cautioned the journalists against filming before the convoy rumble west out of town. Dressed in desert camouflage, unlike the rebel soldiers green uniforms, he spoke with a distinctive Russian accent.

Movements of the missile launcher that day are confirmed in eyewitness statements, video and photographs. In November 2014 the Bellingcat Group of investigative journalists published a detailed inquiry of the vehicle and its movements. That report can be found at www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Origin-of-the-Separatists-Buk-A-Bellingcat-Investigation1.pdf

The missile launcher and its crew, now near the town of Torez, as well as their command and control support were expectant of an enemy incursion. They were blinded by that perspective, which betrays a complete and criminal negligence at every level in the chain of command. If Russia, in fact, supplied the vehicle then the responsible authorities share substantial culpability for allowing trigger happy, irresponsible and ill-trained rebels such a dangerously sophisticated weapon.

Initially the crew filed a flight plan which would have taken them farther to the south at an altitude of 35,000 feet. Instead they were diverted north, ostensibly for thunder storms brewing to the south, and ordered to 33,000 feet for traffic. Slowing to 490 knots, MH-17 descended 2,000 feet.

In June, despite safety assurances, both British Airlines and Lufthansa decided against risking East Ukrainian airspace. Emirates suspended flights to Ukraine altogether, according to Reuters. As pointed out in a previous chapter the routine of war balanced against marketing and business concerns, it had become normal business practice for International airlines to fly over war zones simply to save money on fuel.

Ukraine was no different. Commercial airlines regularly flew over Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars there, comfortable that insurgent forces lacked the capability to threaten them. When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced: Ai-ya-fyatla-yoy-katl) erupted in 2010 disrupting air travel between North America and Europe and ground more than 100,000 flights, the cost to airlines and more than 6 million stranded passengers was in the tens of millions of Dollars. The costs to the bottom line are powerful drivers in the equation when left to airlines alone.

While indications are abundant and clear that the rebels assumed the incoming aircraft was a Ukrainian military transport there seems to have been a blatant disregard for protocols which would have allowed them to identify the plan as civilian. Visually it may have proved difficult, even with binoculars, to make a proper identification but the BUK system hardly relies on antiquated technology for identification. But while NATO member countries rely on the International Friend or Foe, IFF, the BUK radar has its own IFF system. According to HIS Jane’s Missiles and Rockets editor Doug Richardson:

“Although it has it own Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, this is only able to establish whether the target being tracked is a friendly aircraft. It is the electronic equivalent of a sentry calling out “Who goes there?” If there is no reply, all you know is that it is not one of your own side’s combat aircraft. It would not give you a warning that you were tracking an airliner.”

The BUK’s acquisition radar, deployed some thirty miles to the southwest in the village of Styla, allowed the rebel fighters to identify, track and target the aircraft. Whether they believed they were once again targeting a Ukrainian transport, or simply took advantage of a ready target remains unclear. Protocols, IFF, known civilian over flights, flight path, altitude, command structure and time on target removes the specter of the accidental and indicates at the very least negligence if not intention.

Once launched the fate of MH-17 was sealed. The system is highly accurate. According to Army-Technology.com, in association with Defense and Security Systems International the BUK Air Defense Missile System maintains a high kill rate at target:

A single missile can destroy tactical aircraft and helicopters with a probability between 0.9 and 0.95, while the kill probability against tactical ballistic missiles ranges between 0.6 and 0.7. The missile can operate continuously for one day with refueling and has a tear-down time of five minutes. The missile can destroy tactical ballistic missile within the range of 20km and can kill cruise missiles at 100m altitude and within the range of 20km. It has maximum target g-load of 10g and can destroy aerodynamic targets with a maximum speed of 830m/s flying at an altitude between 0.015km and 25km, and within 3km to 45km range. The missile system can operate in temperatures up to ± 50°C and wind speeds up to 30m/s. Its maximum operating altitude above sea level is 3,000m.

“A bird is flying to you,” a spotter told a rebel commander for pro-Russian separatists in Horlivka 15 miles west of the crash sight. He is identified as Igor Bezlor, a mercurial man and a typical character to be found in any conflict who is all too ready to rationalize any moral and ethical transgression to war. In temperament and stature Bezlor reminds one of the late Serbian thug and warlord Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic. His features are pallid and severe, an obligatory cigarette ever present and a black cap that seems costume-like.

“Reconnaissance plane or a big one?” asks Bezlor, from his regional headquarters in nearby Gorlovka.

There is no indication from the rebels that they were firing at anything other than a single target. They are very clearly heard discussing the size of the aircraft. If, in fact, there was a shadowing aircraft below or near the 777 the Buk radar would have indicated, and the battery would have had the capability of hitting both. The rebel leaders in those recordings have never officially acknowledged nor denied their authenticity.

On the ground at around 1:20 that afternoon residents of Torez recalled hearing loud explosions. Rostislav Grishin, a 21-year-old prison guard remembered hearing “two powerful blasts in a row.” The time must be viewed as subjective, though with a forward velocity and possibly one working engine, at least for a time, the descent would have been rapid; certainly faster than a simple freefall.

“First there was one, but then after a minute, a minute and a half, there was another discharge. I raised my head and within a minute I could see a plane falling through the clouds.” The two powerful blasts Grishin heard were undoubtedly the nearby launch of the missile followed by the detonation as the missile found its intended target.

The launch would have been powerful and thundering, followed by the long tearing crrrraaacckkk as the missile streaked skyward. Smoke and dust from the launch would have consumed briefly the massive vehicle. The roar of the launch, as recalled by a number of witnesses, carried for several miles in the rolling hills around Torez and Snizhne.

The 9M317 missile required a radar lock to steer it to the target. It is an awesome weapon when launched, a solid fuel rocket with a total burn time of about 15 seconds that finds it target at speeds of up to Mach 3 four times faster than MH-17 was travelling. A rebel Operator steered the missile in flight until the missiles own onboard system locked onto the airliner. For the crew on MH-17 and the passengers there would have been no warning as the missile streaked skywards at better than 2000 feet per second.

“Malaysian one seven,” instructs the ATC controller, “due traffic proceed direct Romeo November Delta.”

“Romeo November Delta, Malaysian one seven,” Mh-17 replied. The UTC time was 13:16:56. It was the last transmission from the aircraft.

The missile is designed to detonate within 65 feet of its target. From video and photos of the wreckage it is likely that the missile did not strike the aircraft directly. A direct impact wouldn’t have been necessary. With a 154 pound high explosive fragmentation warhead an explosion anywhere near the aircraft would have been devastating. What is certain is that the explosion was instantly catastrophic to the 777.

The missile raced up at the aircraft, passing underneath MH-17’s flight path from right to left at three times the speed of sound. Just below and behind where Captain Wan Amran sat the missile exploded with a blinding flash, probably within 20 to 40 feet of the aircraft and likely above the farm fields between the villages of Tymofiivka and Orlovo-Ivanivka. At the controls, opposite Wan Amran, Eugene Choo Jin Leong would have had no warning and no opportunity to react.

One hour and fifty-six minutes after takeoff Malaysian Airlines flight 17 disappeared from radar screens. It was 9:20am in Washington D.C.

Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.

CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Ukraine War, MH-17 and XL Keystone pipeline

Throughout the winter and spring of 2014 that so-called anti-Obama Press resounded with base and insulting comparisons and contrasts about the two leaders. Charles Krauthammer called Putin and Obama mismatched in favor of President Putin. The level of commentary from sources such as FOX News and others descended quickly from there. Broadcasters gleefully talked about Putin’s manliness in contrast to Obama in the most obtuse and latently homo-erotic manner. Talk host Sean Hannity, with KT McFarland gushed Vladimir Putin’s “rock-hard abs.”

Another site put it this way:

On one hand you have the former KGB agent, Putin, who is seen as an uber masculine machine and a picture of physical strength and stamina. Photos have surfaced on the internet with him (shirtless) riding on the back of a horse and a photo shopped grizzly bear in the wild; an image that would suggest he’s a real manly man. He is a proud Russian with a large ego and is precise about what he says and means and does what he says he will do. On the other hand, you have Obama, the former community organizer who is seen as a mom-jeans-wearing “Steve Urkel” type. Instead of horses and bears, he prefers a Daisy 3 speed bike and a safety helmet as his means of transportation…http://clashdaily.com/2014/03/putinobama-phenomenon-james-bond-vs-steve-urkel/

Former Republican Presidential candidate Allen West even went so far as to demean the first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance in comparison to Putin’s wife: “Putin married this soft-spoken beauty…Obama…..well….”

But it may all have been a ruse, or at least a broader effort to delude or confuse the public about what was really at play over Ukraine. At the very least criticism of the Obama administration seemed designed to make broader arguments in support of the Keystone XL pipeline debate in the United States and to shift European dependence on Russian gas with dependence on American gas, or at the very least Ukrainian gas which was more and more under nominal, if not direct, US control. In early March Fox contributor and big-energy advocate KT McFarland offered Obama advice on dealing with Putin and the Russians.

“We can do what we did in the 1980s,” she said, “push down the price of oil, in this case by fracking and use our abundance of natural gas resources that we’ve had just in the last few years and start selling them to Europe. What would that do for Putin? If he can’t have high oil prices and high gas prices to Europe, he can’t meet payroll. If the cost per barrel goes below a hundred dollars per barrel Putin is in trouble…”

McFarland was referring to manipulations in the market and a collapse of quotas under OPEC in 1985 that had a devastating impact on the Russian economy, which was emerging as the world’s biggest oil and gas producer at the time. For McFarland, who regularly blusters about the so-called “free market” unburdened by government interference and regulations, the statements seemed a glaring contradiction.

It was already obvious, as the world reacted to Russia’s annexation efforts of Crimea, in early 2014 that the Russian Ruble was Putin’s Achilles heel. It was too closely dependent on oil, of which the total Russian economy was dependent. That would have been obvious to the Obama administration as well. Just three days after McFarland’s remarks Businessweek published an article connecting Ukraine and the viability of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Soon after Senator Mary Landrieu, democrat and chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, began making the case that the pipeline would offer a solution to Europe’s gas worries.

On March 27th, in the wake of Washington’s first round of sanctions on prominent Russian individuals, many connected directly to Russia’s energy concerns, Landrieu released a statement following passage of a bill authorizing $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine:

“Today’s vote to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy is a good first step toward helping the millions of Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans affected by the tyrannical ambitions of Vladimir Putin. I am committed to bolstering this effort. As Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, I will continue my work to increase domestic energy production and make the US a global leader in energy exports. America can and should be an energy superpower that helps our allies across the globe. One of Putin’s greatest weapons is the gas that Russia produces and sells to countries like the Ukraine and Lithuania. By entering the market and giving these nations someplace else to buy gas, we will break the stranglehold of despots like Putin, who use their energy stockpiles to crush the freedoms of neighboring nations. The last thing President Putin and his cronies wants is competition from the United States of America in the energy race, and I look forward to playing a leading role to bring energy security and independence to America and its democratic allies around the world to advance the cause of freedom. ”

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 98-2. A strong case can be made that the Ukrainian people were not the primary reason for the vote.

That spring, on nervousness regarding Russian troop concentrations on the Ukraine border, the Crimea and disruptions in oil helped drive the price of oil to around an average of$105 per barrel. The price dropped, unseasonably, and with additional concerns over Islamic State successes in Iraq and Syria to under $95 a barrel; odd given the inherent emotional uncertainty in investors who generally reacted on far less than the market was facing during the summer of 2014. Regardless, the weakness in the oil market was great news for the US public and helped to spur consumer spending. It also benefitted Halliburton, already actively engaged in Ukraine, making its stocks more attractive and accessible to investors.


CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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The Case Against an Oil-based Economy

Sean Hannity in his propaganda screed the other day was unequivocal. He has, in the past few months been involved in “getting America back to work,” on his radio show and FOX News network. In reality it has been a commercial for tar sands and fracking. Revolution and Beer in a series of shows with environmental activist Dr Lora Chamberlain, and in an earlier blog showed that the promise of high paying jobs in North Dakota’s Bakken Oil fields was a dangerous illusion.

We brought to you the voices of people currently working there on the lack of housing, and what was available was going for confiscatory prices. Hannity’s Shangri-oil in North Dakota had made life dangerous for women, bred crime, caused significant pollution and left many stranded and destitute in the winter-harsh climes of the North West. Still Hannity and others claimed there was a near endless supply of jobs in excess of $100 thousand per year salaries. On his show this week, despite his industry guests saying that most jobs started at $30-40,000, he kept quoting jobs at $90,000 or more, in a pitch that would make a school-yard crack dealer blush. Then he said something even more obscene, but true: That the US is an oil-driven economy.

I couldn’t argue, because, sadly it is true, and that is not a good thing. In fact for our economy, for stability and for our future it is more than just potentially disastrous, it is disaster in which the clock is already ticking. The economics are simple, and there are glaring and recent examples that prove that eventuality.

Recently the Dutch Safety Board released preliminary findings on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine in July. The report fell far short, and left more questions than answers. It also did not provide a backdrop to the disaster and the significant geopolitical and economic issues that contributed to the shooting down of a commercial airliner and the loss of all 298 on board. But those factors are significant and involve a superpower land grab for oil and gas concerns in eastern Ukraine-site of the bitterest fighting- and the Crimea. In a previous piece Revolution and Beer detailed much of that oil and gas rush, and named names. See “Obama’s missteps as tension mounts between NATO and Moscow. An excerpt from the upcoming book, “A TRAGIC FATE: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation” by Revolution and Beer’s WC Turck.”

The Russian economy is almost solely based on oil and gas, by most estimates around 70%, which is an astounding and frightening number. Their budget depends on a barrel price of around $114. The current price, as of this writing for a barrel of Brent Crude is about $97/barrel. A tactic of the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia- targeting primarily oil and gas concerns, has been to force down the cost of oil in order to strangle the Russian economy. Putin has replied by stoking military action as the one card he has to play in order to shock the market, maintain a modicum of insecurity and keep the prices as high as possible. In the short term the big oil and gas concerns in the West will suffer, but in the long term they will reap untold rewards. Russian firms and banks, and the whole of the Russian economy is on a long slow slide to insolvency because of the state of its infrastructure, a lack of technical capability and reliance on oil and gas.

But to a lesser extent the US economy is far too dependent on oil and gas as well. That dependency, as reserves and supplies mature, peak and decline will drag the US economy down as well. It also leaves us vulnerable to manipulation from foreign threats. No rational industry analyst believes that the US could ever supply its entire domestic and oil needs at current usage. Everyone agrees that oil and gas are finite resources that eventually will run out, or at the very least become cost prohibitive as research and extraction costs far outpace profits. It is also true that, at current technology, green energy alone could not support the US energy and transportation needs fully. Of course the argument to that is that in 1987 current technology could not support modern cellphone technology.

Green tech, most especially electric vehicles, and solar and wind power could currently offset a significant portion of the country’s needs at current technology. The effort must be, for all of those who believe that the country faces significant threats from abroad, must acknowledge that a preeminent reliance on oil is a virtual gun to the head of the nation. Reliance on renewable sources of energy, and in research to expand the availability and reliability of renewable is the only thing that will ultimately protect us from being blackmailed, or having our economy collapsed. The benefits resonate far beyond the growing threats to the nation, and include a boom in green jobs and a benefit to our environment. One is a short-sighted view by those simply interested in profits and those looking for long term viable solutions.

It is all rather like the squirrel in autumn who collects nuts without building an adequate nest through the winter, and the squirrel who collects enough nuts while also building an adequate nest that will protect it and its offspring from a harsh winter. It is really a rather simple lesson

CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Dutch Safety Board Report on the Crash of Malaysian Flight 17: An incomplete record.

Ahead of Tuesdays DSB report on the MH-17 shoot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, WC Turck,’s upcoming book, “A Tragic Fate: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation,” fills in the gap, here with the only complete re-creation of the tragic events that day. The following is an excerpt based on hundreds of sources, thousands of photographs, videos and more than 300 hours of investigation:

It is, in the first confusing and shocking hours and days, tainted by the hate and propaganda of war and the insipid ignorance of social media, that the fertile ground for conspiracy theories and innuendo are created. Innocuous, misinterpreted or ill-informed early reports become fertilizer for conspiracies. But it is reports like the one from Malaysia’s Airlines director of operations, Izham Ismail, responding to claims that weather led to the change in MH-17’s flight plan, replied that he had no reports from the pilot to suggest that was the case, which help feed speculation.

Inside the cabin, the stewards and flight attendants were busy with meal service. The passengers were contented with in-flight entertainment. The flight so far has been routine, even mundane. There were still more than 8 hours remaining to Kuala Lumpur. The passengers were thinking of their final destination, making connections, seeing loved ones, business meetings and sleeping in their own beds again.

Far below them others are animated for war. The missile launcher and its crew, now near the town of Torez, as well as their command and control support were expectant of enemy incursion. They were blinded by that perspective, which betrays a complete and criminal negligence at every level in the chain of command. If Russia in fact supplied the vehicle the responsible authorities share substantially in culpability for allowing trigger happy, irresponsible and ill-trained rebels such a dangerously sophisticated weapon.

While fewer flights than normal flew through Ukrainian airspace in the month leading up to July 17, according to Mikael Robertsson, co-founder of flight tracking website Flightradar24, two other aircraft were present within 10 minutes flight time of MH-17. The presence of civilian over flights could not have been unknown to the rebels.

At a press conference following the crash, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that “MH17’s flight path was a busy major airway, like a highway in the sky. It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft… MH17 flew at an altitude that was set and deemed safe by local air traffic control, and it never strayed into restricted airspace. The flight and its operators followed the rules. But on the ground, the rules of war were broken.”

Ukrainian authorities had earlier prohibited aircraft from operating at 32,000 feet or below, just a thousand feet below the altitude that MH-17 was flying. That still placed it well within range of the BUK Missile battery now operating near Torez.

In June, despite assurances both British Airlines and Lufthansa decided against risking East Ukrainian airspace. Emirates suspended flights to Ukraine altogether, according to Reuters. As pointed out in a previous chapter the routine of war balanced against marketing and business concerns, it had become normal business practice for International airlines to fly over war zones simply to save money on fuel.

Ukraine was no different. Commercial airlines regularly flew over Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars there, comfortable that insurgent forces lacked the capability to threaten them. When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced: Ai-ya-fyatla-yoy-katl) erupted in 2010 disrupting air travel between North America and Europe and ground more than 100,000 flights, the cost to airlines and more than 6 million stranded passengers was in the tens of millions of Dollars. The costs to the bottom line are powerful drivers in the equation when left to airlines alone.

The dilemma begs a wider question, however, as to whether we are becoming far too cavalier with regards to war. In the wake of the Cold War and its international alignment, more or less, there was at least greater control over the proliferation of sophisticated weapons of war. It is a good thing that international market economics, to a degree, is less incumbent upon those old and obsolete structures. In the post-Cold war era, however, commerce and proliferation in weapons, such as the system that brought down MH-17, has become virtually unrestricted.

The collapse of nation states, regional instability and wars around the globe finds buyers for new and ever more terrible weaponry. Following the Malaysian Airlines disaster there has been little if any substantive discussion about limiting the proliferation of such weapons. The saddest aspect of all of this is that the avoidable and unnecessary deaths of 298 people might simply prove a demonstration of weapons capabilities, making it more attractive to despots, madmen and warlords.

Through banks of full gray and white clouds 33,000 feet below, embattled Ukraine appeared peaceful as a geometric patchwork of farms and towns elegantly carved with the telltale green of rivers and fertile tributaries. The distance and humidity near the surface deepened hues and softened lines until the land took on the character of a pastel rendering.
Somewhere just outside Snizhne, according to radio intercepts the Buk’s crew was alerted to an incoming aircraft. While indications are abundant and clear that the rebels assumed the incoming aircraft was a Ukrainian military transport there seems to have been a blatant disregard for protocols which would have allowed them to identify the plan as civilian.

Visually it may have proved difficult, even with binoculars, but the BUK system hardly relies on antiquated technology for identification. But while NATO member countries rely on the International Friend or Foe, IFF, the BUK radar has its own IFF system. According to HIS Jane’s Missiles and Rockets editor Doug Richardson:

“Although it has it own Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, this is only able to establish whether the target being tracked is a friendly aircraft. It is the electronic equivalent of a sentry calling out “Who goes there?” If there is no reply, all you know is that it is not one of your own side’s combat aircraft. It would not give you a warning that you were tracking an airliner.”

The Buk’s acquisition radar, deployed some thirty miles to the southwest in the village of Styla, allowed the rebel fighters to identify, track and target the aircraft. Whether they believed they were once again targeting a Ukrainian transport, or simply took advantage of a ready target remains unclear. Protocols, IFF, known civilian over flights, flight path, altitude, command structure and time on target removes the specter of the accidental and indicates at the very least negligence if not intention.

Once launched the fate of MH-17 was sealed. The system is highly accurate. According to Army-Technology.com, in association with Defense and Security Systems International the BUK Air Defense Missile System maintains a high kill rate at target:

A single missile can destroy tactical aircraft and helicopters with a probability between 0.9 and 0.95, while the kill probability against tactical ballistic missiles ranges between 0.6 and 0.7. The missile can operate continuously for one day with refuelling and has a tear-down time of five minutes. The missile can destroy tactical ballistic missile within the range of 20km and can kill cruise missiles at 100m altitude and within the range of 20km. It has maximum target g-load of 10g and can destroy aerodynamic targets with a maximum speed of 830m/s flying at an altitude between 0.015km and 25km, and within 3km to 45km range. The missile system can operate in temperatures up to ± 50°C and wind speeds up to 30m/s. Its maximum operating altitude above sea level is 3,000m.

The BUK system wasn’t a truck with a couple of drunk rebels roaming the countryside in search of a target. Even paired down to a smaller unit, as it may have been on that warm July day, it would have consisted of several vehicles and several operators. It had proved itself more than capable against combat aircraft and requires only about 5 minutes to set up and deploy. It can be ready to move in another five minutes after firing a missile or missiles, making it a very versatile and competent weapon of war.

What isn’t in contention is that a missile was launched, and that it was fired by someone on the rebel side. The shot was intentional.

Credible witnesses place the large and unmistakable BUK vehicle entering the neighboring town of Torez only 4 miles due south of Hrabove and just six miles (10 kilometers) west of Snizhne. Three days earlier, on the 14th a BUK system was credited with the downing of a Ukrainian Antonov-26 flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet over the town of Izvaryne outside Donetsk. Two days later above the town of Amvrosiivka, 10 miles southwest of Snizhne a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter was shot down.

“A bird is flying to you,” a spotter told a rebel commander for pro-Russian separatists in Horlivka 15 miles west of the crash sight, identified as Igor Bezlor, a mercurial man and a typical character to be found in any conflict who is all too ready to rationalize any moral and ethical transgression to war. In temperament and stature Bezlor reminds one of the late Serbian thug and warlord Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic. His features are pallid and severe, an obligatory cigarette ever present and a black cap that seems costume-like.

“Reconnaissance plane or a big one?” asks Bezlor, from his regional headquarters in nearby Gorlovka.

Bezlor, who goes by the non de guerre of “Bes,” or “demon” in Russian, reportedly was a former undertaker sacked from his job for theft. He never once disputed the authenticity of the recordings. Many of those recordings have been verified and supported by other rebels. That is backed up by the initial communications and Bezlor’s own initial tweet that indicates quite clearly that the rebels believed they had downed a Ukrainian aircraft.

As for the possibility of mistaken identity? There is no indication from the rebels that they were firing at anything other than a single target. They are very clearly heard discussing the size of the aircraft. If, in fact, there was a shadowing aircraft below or near the 777 the Buk radar would have indicated, and the battery would have had the capability of hitting both. The observation being that the rebel shooters were either eager to satisfy their commanders, and in that regard had no other perspective other than one of war. In their mind, most likely, they were tracking what they believed to be an enemy aircraft, just exactly as the released recordings reveal. The rebel leaders in those recordings have never officially acknowledged nor denied their authenticity.

The unfolding tragedy was becoming eerily similar to the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3, 1988, 26 years earlier. It seems that, like the USS Vincennes crew, which reported mistaking flight 655 for an incoming F-14 fighter, the rebels likely mistook MH-17 for an incoming Ukrainian warplane. There are other eerie similarities as well. There were 298 passengers and crew, with 50 children on board MH-17. Iran Air 655 held 290, with 66 children. Both were destroyed by surface to air missiles. In both incidents there were no survivors.

The order to fire was given, and the order was followed, apparently without question. The missile launched. There would have been no warning, no indication of the rebel missile already streaking skyward towards the aircraft at more than 2,000 feet per second. For the crew of MH-17 view from the flight deck is notoriously limited in the best of circumstances. The flight crew would have been just as surprised as anyone on board. There is a certain comfort in that realization.

On the ground at around 1:20 that afternoon residents of Torez recalled hearing loud explosions. Rostislav Grishin, a 21-year-old prison guard remembered hearing “two powerful blasts in a row. The time must be viewed as subjective. “First there was one, but then after a minute, a minute and a half, there was another discharge. I raised my head and within a minute I could see a plane falling through the clouds.” The two powerful blasts Grishin heard were undoubtedly the nearby launch of the missile followed by the detonation as the missile found its intended target.

The launch would have been powerful and thundering, followed by the long tearing crrrraaacckkk as the missile streaked skyward. Smoke and dust from the launch would have consumed briefly the massive vehicle. The roar of the launch, as recalled by a number of witnesses, carried for several miles in the rolling hills around Torez.

The 9M317 missile required a radar lock to steer it to the target. It is an awesome weapon when launched, a solid fuel rocket with a total burn time of about 15 seconds that finds it target at speeds of up to Mach 3 four times faster than MH-17 was travelling. A rebel Operator steered the missile in flight until the missiles own onboard system locked onto the airliner. For the crew on MH-17 and the passengers there would have been no warning as the missile streaked skywards at better than 2000 feet per second.

The missile is designed to detonate within 65 feet of its target. From the wreckage it is difficult to say with certainty that the missile struck the aircraft directly. A direct impact wouldn’t have been necessary. With a 154 pound high explosive fragmentation warhead an explosion anywhere near the aircraft would have been devastating. What is certain is that the explosion was catastrophic to the 777.One hour and fifty-six minutes after takeoff Malaysian Airlines flight 17 disappeared from radar screens. It was 9:11am in Washington D.C.

The missile raced up at the aircraft, passing underneath from right to left at three times the speed of sound. Just below and behind where Captain Wan Amran sat the missile exploded with a blinding flash, probably within 20 to 40 feet of the aircraft and almost directly above the town of Rozsypne. At the controls, opposite Wan Amran, Eugene Choo Jin Leong would have had no warning and no opportunity to react.

Evidence indicates that the flight deck, and first and business class cabins, bore the brunt of the explosion as thousands of pieces of Shrapnel shredded the nose and cockpit of the plane. A surviving section of the fuselage from the flight deck, with portions of the window frame, shows significant scorching and substantial shrapnel damage, including a massive hole more than a foot in diameter. The edges of that remaining piece of fuselage point to terrible damage done to the front and nose of the aircraft, which by itself would have been enough to doom the aircraft and passengers. It should be noted here that the apparent shrapnel wounds are entrance points and that no exit points have been found, which would indicate an external explosion, and that the integrity of the fuselage was breached by the decompression of the aircraft caused by the missile detonation and not a bomb as some have wrongly theorized.

The debris field is telling, and allows for a reconstruction of the moments after the explosion. The cockpit and much of the forward compartment would come to rest in and around Rozsypne. Much of the rest of the aircraft continued for another several kilometers. Indications are the aircraft began to break up immediately. Fully a third, or more than 100, of the passengers were ejected from the aircraft.

More deadly shards of steel sliced through the aircraft along its length, though the front of the craft bore the brunt. A piece of the overhead storage bins from the business class section found in a tree exhibit a number of possible shrapnel marks. A section of wing revealed what appeared to be shrapnel gouges as well. Still the damage, enough damage, had been done.

The nose tore away. The aircraft was hammered sideways, the port engine likely incapacitated or diminished, the starboard engine screaming as the plane began to turn over. Monstrous and incapacitating G-forces tore at the aircraft and the bodies within. The aircraft twisted, engines sputtering and began breaking up. The wings, engines and mid-section remained intact. A section of fuselage would fall within a thousand yards, the tail section nearby. All of them would come to rest more or less perpendicular to the line of flight.

Severe G-forces can lead to so-called gray outs caused by a lack of blood flow to the eyes, or blackouts and unconsciousness as the head is robbed of blood and oxygen. In centrifuge tests, absent fear and surprise, and far less violent g-forces than the passengers of MH-17 would have experienced, 50% of trained pilots loss sight and consciousness. In those tests pilots lost consciousness for between 5-15 seconds after G-forces were diminished, followed by another 5-15 seconds of severe disorientation. Tolerance for the effects of G-forces varies from individual to individual, depending upon height, weight, age, training and on health. The G’s the passengers would have experienced alone, not including the effects of severe oxygen deprivation, extreme cold, shock or blunt force trauma, and punishing winds in excess of an F5 tornado would have been debilitating and, in most instances, fatal for anyone on board.

Within the cabin a foggy daylight would have appeared suddenly from the front of the plane and in places where the red-hot shards of rocket casing pierced the fuselage, spreading quickly as the highly pressurized tube began tearing itself apart. It would have been the last thing, without any cognoscente understanding, the passengers would have physically perceived. Many likely succumbed to what has been deemed the ultimate whiplash, capable of separating the spine from the skull and causing instant death. A number of victims appeared to exhibit deep red collar line bruising. Death at 33,000 feet is shocking and violent, but mercifully quick.

The flight data recorder marked the moment disaster struck MH-17: Explosive decompression! Debris appears to show evidence that the starboard side of the aircraft buckled and ripped from the force of that sudden and violent decompression on the port side.

Unconscious or already deceased, passengers were flung from the aircraft into the abyss, many still strapped in their seats. The violence of that moment evident in the numbers of bodies found stripped completely of clothing. Dozens remained within what remained of the aircraft as it plummeted towards Hrabove. Several of the bodies, at least from photographic evidence, were so badly mutilated that they may have been victims of the initial blast, or were partly ingested into the failing engines. One of those bodies was recovered still wearing part of a flight attendant’s green uniform. The wounds are far different from dozens of those who fell or were scattered across the countryside, indicating different fates.

Just 45 miles and 10 minutes flight time behind MH-17, was SQ351, a Singapore Airlines flight out of Copenhagen. An Air India 787 flight 113, with 126 passengers, departing Delhi for Birmingham approaching from the opposite direction was just 25kms, or 4 minutes away. It is worth noting here why these aircraft were also not targeted, flying roughly the same route and at the same altitude, if in fact the rebel radar command and control mistook MH-17 for an enemy aircraft, why did they not make the same assumption at other aircraft following relatively closely? The BUK system was more than capable of managing multiple targets.

There was little fire, save for that initial explosion. The lack of oxygen, air temperature and speed either prevented or curtailed immediate fire. In the video of the initial explosion notable is the lack of smoke trailing from the sky. The video seems to show a light shadowy trail, but nothing more significant.

From any vantage point from Hrabove south to Pelahivka and west to Rozsypne the scene would have taken on a nightmarish cast. Witnesses were caught by surprise. “It was falling over my garden,” described one villager, “and it turned drastically and started falling in that direction.”

Oleg Georgievich, 40, a miner from Hrabove and a rebel fighter, feared the town was under attack.

“Aircraft have been flying over daily,” he told the New York Times.

Georgievich said that he heard a whistling sound, then saw part of the aircraft’s fuselage and bodies falling from the sky. Another witness described seeing the plane falling to pieces from the cloud bank with pieces flying “in all directions.”

Katya, 64, told News.au she was napping when she was awakened by “an enormous bang like an earthquake”. Katya’s son-in-law Alexander told her Flaming aircraft parts had fallen from the sky, scorching the fence around his farm and burning his grapevines.

Parts of the aircraft, cargo, luggage and bodies tumbled earthward. For the worst of it, the sickening and heart wrenching sounds as they landed, falling among woods and fields, upon roads and roof tops, many victims still strapped in their seats, would have only lasted a few moments. Those sounds partly lost to the earth shaking roar, described by katya, as the largest section of plane, including the engines and wings, exploded at the outskirts of Hrabove. Sadder still, like a ghostly repose to the dead, as thick black smoke rose and drifted with the wind, clothing, some torn from falling bodies fluttered earthward for some time.

CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Obama’s misteps as tension mounts between NATO and Moscow. An excerpt from the upcoming book, “A TRAGIC FATE: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation” by Revolution and Beer’s WC Turck

One could not concoct a better scenario for conspiracy and intrigue. The scope and spectrum of the international impact bespeaks the integration of world markets with politics and the micro dynamics of men killing men on an obscure battlefield. The sheer timing of events that Thursday, July 17th 2014 is the stuff of conspiracy, and could not have come together more precisely. Immediately it called to mind the curious and still unexplained activity in the stock market immediately prior to September 11, 2001, when massive bets were made that United Airlines and American Airlines stocks would drop. Stocks sank precipitously for both airlines, which had each lost 2 aircraft in the September attacks.

The problem with history is most often the failure of proper perspective. The trouble with conspiracy or at least the appearance of conspiracy, sometimes is a consequence of a lack of true context, or that it is simply an intentional tool for partisanship. Which isn’t to negate the fact that true conspiracies do occur, and in the aggregate that may well prove true for the tragedy surrounding the shooting down of MH-17. Setting that aside for the moment, what is critical is a consolidation, as best as can be amassed of the context, the events and the human scope of a terrible tragedy and perhaps a criminal act of war.

At the very least, the tragedy indicts all of the parties involved in the conflict. It indicts the Russians and their Ukrainian separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine. While the West may be blamed for missing or even exploiting Russia’s territorial anxieties, Russia cannot simply pander to those anxieties if they expect to interact equitably on the international stage.

Russia is as complex and filled with contradictions as any nation or individual, but basic assumptions can be drawn. These descriptors are illustrative in gaining some understanding of the Russian heart and mind. It is in that understanding that the gaps to building strategies, finding solutions and overcoming issues like the current crisis in Ukraine may be bridged.

There is an exuberant pride tempered by melancholy and stoicism and deepened by the fatalistic resignation to hardship, rooted by a strong and linear traditional heritage. Russia is, by and large, a patriarchal society, with hardly more than a generation, at the time of the MH-17 incident, since the end of the Cold War and opening of the Berlin Wall.

The population of Russia itself, plagued by emigration, poverty, low birth rates and alcoholism has been in decline since that period. Life expectancy for men has remained relatively stagnate since 1959. An April 2012 article in Forbes noted that while Moscow has more billionaires than London and New York, that nearly 20 million Russians lived below the poverty line. Percentage wise in comparison to the United States, the basic number same about the same, however, the standards in either country are much different.
There is a rejection by Russians of the notion of a once great nation broken by the West, and yet that notion nonetheless haunts that rejection. For many Russians the question of who actually won and lost the Cold War is a deeply arguable point. _h0_w628_m6_otrue_lfalse

What all of this argues is that the West has consistently misread and misunderstood Russia and the Russian mind, to the detriment of true progress between nations. In Ukraine, despite the lofty slogans and machinations of democratic principles and sovereignty, Russia feels more than compelled to maintain its interests and security.

The Russians have also acted every bit as bullishly as the West in pursuit of interests outside its own borders, especially with countries it shares a border with. With Ukraine, and the lusty appeal of oil and gas riches in Crimea, the stakes for Russia could not be higher. Add to that an ethnic Russian constituency in strategically import regions of Ukraine and Crimea and the mix becomes volatile. When Russian forces moved into Ukraine on August 29th, 2014 in support of rebel forces fighting Ukrainian forces in key coastal towns on the Sea of Azov, the ultimate strategy was nakedly transparent. The move would consolidate Russia’s direct control over the Sea of Azov, and provide unfettered access to Ukraine along a key road.

From the start of the crisis in Ukraine the West acted out of a mixture of short-sighted greed and fundamental ambivalence to the Russian perspective. Russia acted like a dog chasing a not-too-distant bone. Caught in the middle, on the ground and in the skies are civilians.

In August 1999, former President Clinton met then Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s handpicked successor for the first time. Yeltsin, the son of a mining engineer. Like his predecessor, Yeltsin understood that rebuilding the fracturing Soviet economy was a lost cause without fundamental political and social reforms. Yeltsin was a true reformer, and championed the cause of battling government corruption. His decision to pick a young and politically astute former KGB agent named Vladimir Putin was hardly a rash or ill-informed action for the ailing reformer, Yeltsin. Putin’s record as he rose through the ranks of Russia’s volatile politics reflected at once one of reform, strength and vision.

Clinton noted in his memoir, My Life, that “Putin presented a stark contrast to Yeltsin. Yeltsin was large and stocky; Putin was compact and extremely fit from years of martial arts practice. Yeltsin was voluble; the former KGB agent was measured and precise. I came away from the meeting believing that Yeltsin had picked a successor who had the skills and capacity for hard work necessary to manage Russia’s turbulent political and economical life better than Yeltsin could, given his health problems; Putin had the toughness to defend Russia’s interests and defend Yeltsin’s legacy.”

The final point is debatable, but Putin had a tough uphill battle to defend or reform a system and society far different from the West. In the vacuum created by the collapse of the Soviet system, corporatism and a rise of an exceedingly wealthy and powerful oligarchy wrested control of the economy and with it the reigns of true power. By 2008, according to Forbes, there were 87 billionaire’s in Russia, with a net worth of half a trillion Dollars. Despite Putin’s efforts at reforms, poverty remains an issue, while the quality of life of the average Russian has stagnated or declined. Former defense secretary Robert gates summed up in a January 2014 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt his perception of Putin’s shortcomings:

“I think Putin is bad for Russia. And I think right now, it’s the Russians that are paying the greatest cost for him being in power, and he potentially could be president of Russia until 2024. And his refusal to open the country up politically, his refusal to encourage, and provide predictability for foreign investment, his regard of all the natural resources as a kind of a natural patrimony, so not any encouraging foreign investment there, and frankly, stealing from Western companies by expropriating what they’ve invested. Russia just has a number of problems. I think that former President Medvedev, who is now again the prime minister, had a pretty good idea what was wrong with Russia and what needed to be done to fix it. But Putin pushed him out of the way. And my own view is, as I say in the book, is Putin’s a man of the past. He’s all about lost glory, lost empire, lost power. And he’s, while he will cooperate with us in certain areas, and one example is he did let the sanctions on Iran go through the U.N. He did agree not to provide the S-300, very advanced air defense system, to the Iranians. And he did let our military equipment go across the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Afghanistan. Even with all that, he’s not going to miss an opportunity to embarrass us or create problems for us.”

But the fact that Medvedev could be brushed aside by Putin is evidence that is was not the right leader to reign in the oligarchs, battle rampant crime and corruption and satisfy flagging Russian national pride as their patriarchal icon. That speaks to Gate’s over simplification that Putin is a man of the past; about lost glory, lost empire, lost power. In national security, national pride and ego are equally important components. Likewise they are critical to forging a national focus, whether political, social or economic, and that is the key to Putin’s power and perspective.

But the blame is hardly all on the West’s side. Putin also has shown a fundamental ignorance of the Western perspective. From the short-term gains of defense spending and arms sales to exports of gas and oil, while Putin has used these as rudimentary peasant-like marketplace tools to maintain or wield power. He seems not to understand or care that the West, and particularly the Obama administration, convolutes vague notions of freedom with unfettered or predatory market economics. Russian banks are bludgeon tools to the state run defense and oil concerns, spinning their wheels in a bid with China and other nations to create a new monetary alternative, or simply keep the Ruble afloat with the burden of 21st Century oil and gas realities around its neck.

The Russian market reforms of the 1990s saw the privatization of certain sectors of the economy. The exceptions were in defense and oil, which remained solidly, strategically and predictably in the state’s hands. It belies several differences, socially, economically and politically from the West and the United States. The first is that Russia and its economy are ties to the production, refining and sale of oil and gas far more than the US. An estimated 40% of Europe’s gas needs are pipelined from Russia through Ukraine, and some 70% of the country’s exports are oil and gas. A correlation can be made between the rise of oil prices since the mid 1990s and the precipitous rise of Russia’s gross domestic product, GDP. When, following US led sanctions in the wake of the downing of MH-17, Putin remarked that they did not even consider the vast oil and gas reserves in the Crimea region, even the average observer would have believed it a work of fiction.

That, for a nation so animated historically over the vehement, often blind defense of its borders, as in the cases of KAL 902 and 007, the near monopolistic dependence on oil and gas exports is a supreme and potentially disastrous liability. It is that weakness which the Obama administration sought to exploit with sanctions beginning in the winter 2014 over Crimea, and mounting that summer over MH-17, Russian military incursions and rebel support in eastern Ukraine.

At a fundraiser for her eventual 2016 presidential bid, Hillary Clinton was quoted in the Long Beach Press Telegram that Putin’s actions in Crimea sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s, All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying, They’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people,’ and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

Nor is Putin, as the hawkish Arizona Senator John McCain described on FOX News in August, a thug with aspirations of reawakening the Russian bear.

Both were ridiculous statements. What Vladimir Putin is not is Hitler and he is not a thug. Crimea is not Czechoslovakia or the Sudetenland. But Putin also cannot be absolved of violations of international law. The recognition of sovereign national borders is a tenant of 21st Century international stability. There can be no dispute that Russia and Putin have failed to adequately respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine in a grab for oil, gas and strategic resources, but then neither has the West. In the case of Ukraine, both Russia and the West are guilty of violating international law with respect to Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence. Putin’s willingness to use the cover of so-called ethnic and national sympathizes is cynical and antithetical to the interests of Russia and its people. Sadly, he is left with few options.

Still, the lessons of history cannot be ignored. The sanctions and pressure from the US and the West may have enlivened many of those old Russian anxieties. Vladimir Putin, who entered the KGB in the dangerous years of the mid-1980s would not have been immune from pervasive, even obsessive fears of a US-led first strike against the Soviet Union. There are indications some of those old Russian fears about outside threats began to surface with Putin. Germany’s Bild Newspaper reported on a telephone conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Obama in which she reportedly wondered whether Putin was “still in touch with reality.”

By July Merkel seemed to have amended those views, which may revealed a moment of frustration for the German leader. Meeting before the World Cup soccer finals in Brazil on July 13th, days before the shoot down, there seemed some small movement towards progress. Spokesman for Putin, Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that both leaders had “stressed the necessity to urgently resume the work of a contact group on Ukraine, possibly in the format of a video conference. It is their common opinion that, in order for the contact group to resume its work, a ceasefire needs to be declared as soon as possible.”

Additional blame in the Ukraine crisis must be leveled directly at the Press. It was natural that the Russian press would side with Putin. In the United States the growing crisis became something far less predictable. A partisan, decidedly anti-Obama American press helped to stir a substantial component of egotism which became a part of the impasse and competition between Obama and Putin, and by extension; the US and Russia. The effect was to convolute the facts of what was happening in Ukraine and to undermine the public’s opportunity to understand the stakes involved in the crisis.

Throughout the winter and spring of 2014 that so-called anti-Obama Press resounded with base and insulting comparisons and contrasts about the two leaders. Charles Krauthammer called Putin and Obama mismatched in favor of President Putin. The level of commentary from sources such as FOX News and others descended quickly from there. Broadcasters gleefully talked about Putin’s manliness in contrast to Obama in the most obtuse and latently homo-erotic manner. Talk host Sean Hannity, with KT McFarland described Vladimir Putin’s “rock-hard abs.” One site put it this way:

On one hand you have the former KGB agent, Putin, who is seen as an uber masculine machine and a picture of physical strength and stamina. Photos have surfaced on the internet with him (shirtless) riding on the back of a horse and a photo shopped grizzly bear in the wild; an image that would suggest he’s a real manly man. He is a proud Russian with a large ego and is precise about what he says and means and does what he says he will do. On the other hand, you have Obama, the former community organizer who is seen as a mom-jeans-wearing “Steve Urkel” type. Instead of horses and bears, he prefers a Daisy 3 speed bike and a safety helmet as his means of transportation…http://clashdaily.com/2014/03/putinobama-phenomenon-james-bond-vs-steve-urkel/

Former Presidential candidate Allen West even went so far as to demean the first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance in comparison to Putin’s wife: “Putin married this soft-spoken beauty…Obama…..well….”

But it may all have been a ruse, or at least a broader effort to delude or confuse the public about what was really at play over Ukraine. At the very least criticism of the Obama administration seemed designed to make broader arguments in support of the Keystone XL pipeline debate in the United States and to shift European dependence on Russian gas with dependence on American gas, or at the very least Ukrainian gas which was more and more under nominal, if not direct US control. In early March Fox contributor and big-energy advocate KT McFarland offered Obama advice on dealing with Putin and the Russians.

“We can do what we did in the 1980s,” she said, “push down the price of oil, in this case by fracking and use our abundance of natural gas resources that we’ve had just in the last few years and start selling them to Europe. What would that do for Putin? If he can’t have high oil prices and high gas prices to Europe, he can’t meet payroll. If the cost per barrel goes below a hundred dollars per barrel Putin is in trouble…”

McFarland was referring to manipulations in the market and a collapse of quotas under OPEC in 1985 that had a devastating impact on the Russian economy, which was emerging as the world’s biggest oil and gas producer at the time. For McFarland, who regularly blusters about the so-called “free market” unburdened by government interference and regulations, the statements seemed a glaring contradiction.

It was already obvious, as the world reacted to Russia’s annexation efforts of Crimea, in early 2014 that the Russian Ruble was Putin’s Achilles heel. It was too closely dependent on oil, of which the total Russian economy was dependent. That would have been obvious to the Obama administration as well. Just three days after McFarland’s remarks Businessweek published an article connecting Ukraine and the viability of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Soon after Senator Mary Landrieu, democrat and chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, began making the case that the pipeline would offer a solution to Europe’s gas worries.

On March 27th,, in the wake of Washington’s first round of sanctions on individuals, many connected directly to Russia’s energy concerns, Landrieu released a statement following passage of a bill authorizing $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine:

“Today’s vote to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy is a good first step toward helping the millions of Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans affected by the tyrannical ambitions of Vladimir Putin. I am committed to bolstering this effort. As Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, I will continue my work to increase domestic energy production and make the US a global leader in energy exports. America can and should be an energy superpower that helps our allies across the globe. One of Putin’s greatest weapons is the gas that Russia produces and sells to countries like the Ukraine and Lithuania. By entering the market and giving these nations someplace else to buy gas, we will break the stranglehold of despots like Putin, who use their energy stockpiles to crush the freedoms of neighboring nations. The last thing President Putin and his cronies wants is competition from the United States of America in the energy race, and I look forward to playing a leading role to bring energy security and independence to America and its democratic allies around the world to advance the cause of freedom. ”

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 98-2. A strong case can be made that the Ukrainian people were not the primary reason for the vote.

That spring, on nervousness regarding Russian troop concentrations on the Ukraine border, Crimea and disruptions in oil helped drive the price of oil to around an average of$105 per barrel. The price dropped, unseasonably, and with additional concerns over Islamic State successes in Iraq and Syria to under $95 a barrel; odd given the inherent emotional uncertainty in investors who generally reacted on far less than the market was facing during the summer of 2014. The weakness in the oil market was great news for the US public and helped to spur consumer spending. It also benefitted Halliburton, actively engaged in Ukraine, making its stocks more attractive and accessible to investors.

The price per barrel of oil is a key factor here, for both Russia and the US. Russia budget’s its economy based on an average per barrel cost for oil of around $114. Below that, given their near monopolistic reliance on oil, the effects of lower oil costs begin strangling the economy very quickly. The effect is opposite that of Europe and, in particular, the United States, in which a drop in oil prices can have a benefit to the economy, particularly on the consumer side. Russia’s best card to play in that dangerous game was to maintain heightened tensions and the threat of direct military intervention in Ukraine, which is exactly what happened at the end of August. In part on rising tensions, reports of Russian regulars fighting in Ukraine and Kiev’s fears of a full scale conflict, the price of crude oil had climbed above $103 per barrel.

The downing of MH-17 changed everything. And there is reason to believe that the Russian leadership was just as shocked by the tragedy as the rest of the world. That eve3ning, meeting with economic advisors he released a statement, which was translated by the Associated Press:

You know that a terrible event occurred today in the sky over Ukraine, an awful tragedy — a civilian plane was killed, 285 people, according to preliminary information, were killed.
On behalf of the Russian leadership and the Russian government, we express condolences to the bereaved families, the governments of those countries whose nationals were on that plane. I ask you to honor their memory.
In this regard, I want to note that this tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.
I have already given instructions to the military departments to provide all necessary assistance in the investigation of this crime. And I also ask the government of the Russian Federation through the available civilian agencies that have the capability to do everything for a thorough investigation of this event. We will do everything — everything that depends on us, anyway — in order that the objective picture of what happened is part of the public domain here, in Ukraine and in the rest of the world. This is an absolutely unacceptable thing, and no one has the right to let this pass without the appropriate conclusions and without all of us having objective information about the incident.

But what other consequence could the use of violence and force by both the US-backed Kiev government and the Russian-backed rebels have? MH-17 was a tragedy waiting to happen.

Regardless of who fired the missile the US and Russian leadership had created the environment which allowed the tragedy to take place. All the parties to the conflict had been distracted in the rush for resources and in the folly of what amounted to a national pissing contest that no one was concerned for the safety of international civilian air travel. The airlines placed their trust in authorities whose facilities and priorities lay elsewhere. What appeared at first appeared to be an open window for peace, from those casual discussions between Chancellor Merkel and Putin in Brazil, and which might have prevented the destruction of MH-17, had been extinguished in the blink of an eye.

By late August those strains were showing once more. As Ukrainian forces pressed their assaults in the east and against Luhansk and Donetsk. While government forces appeared to advance in the north east, Russian-backed rebels had suddenly opened up a new front along the northern coast on the Sea of Azov. Putin’s statements on the 29th appeared defiant, but betrayed a growing pressure for the Russian leader as he compared Ukrainian military actions against Luhansk and Donetsk to the Nazi siege of Leningrad during the Second World War.

“Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure,” Putin said. “It sadly reminds me the events of the Second World War, when German fascist … occupiers surrounded our cities.”

The statement was imprudent; theatre for ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and for the folks at home. It also illustrates that pillar of Russian national identity and its inherent insecurity forever mired in a past defined through centuries of invasion. It may be an oversimplification in the Russian mind, but what becomes culture and heritage for any nation is of a history and choosing all its own.

As the current figurehead of that culture and history, there are differing views of Vladimir Putin. They are all subjective. What is not in dispute is that he is Russian, and his prime motivation will be towards the security and prosperity of his homeland, and to that task he seems singularly focused.

CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Europe, Ukraine, Gas and the superpower sandwich. A new rant from the FILTHY PUNDIT (He ought to have his mouth washed out with soap)

Did Europe just become the bitch to the United States over the issue of gas exports from Russia? That’s how things are beginning to look as winter approaches and the disruption of gas from Russia amid the Ukraine crisis could lead to higher fuel costs and crash the EU’s already sluggish climb out of recession. Yesterday a semi-fossilized Senator John McCain said that he is working on a plan to alleviate Europe’s gas concerns within 2 years. Russia and the US have been using Ukraine’s strife in a gas and oil grab. The US targets the gas rich northeast region and Russia got huge reserves off the Crimean Black Sea coast. They could give a shit for Ukraine’s independence of the glorious ascendency of ethnic Russians in Crimea. It is about the oil. It’s always about the oil. The US could care less about Russian trade, which this country can piss away in a day of spending, but to the Europeans, particularly for winter heating gas that trade is sort of important. Unless you think its a good thing to freeze off some old Euro-grandmas? The US has pushed trade sanctions hard, using the emotion of the crash of MH-17 to drill it home and turn Europe from an emerging power broker and player in the Ukraine issue into a beggar unsure whether to kick the dead of the Malaysian crash and fuck over Ukraine’s EU aspirations by sucking Russian dick over gas to protect its economy, or if it should bend over and take it in the ass from the United States and hope for a half-hearted reach-around, likely by McCain. Either way, for the Europeans, and the Ukrainians, being trapped in the middle between to bigger and more powerful pimps like Russia and the US means eventually you are going to have to blow someone. Now how is that for cogent analysis of complex international and geo-political topics?

CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Excerpt from my new book “Shoot Down, and the real story behind America’s intervention in Ukraine

The Maidan Square protests in the winter and spring of 2014 were transformative to Ukraine’s political, cultural and economic fabric, and one thing was fully evident from the start: Russia and the United States were in it as adversaries from the start. In truth, despite the bravery and passion of the vast majority of anti-government protesters and activists on both sides were being manipulated. The proxies of Russia and the United States were extremists who co-opted events and who encouraged violence, drawing the protest in Maidan from an initiative against political corruption and Russian interference in Ukrainian politics towards civil chaos seemingly constructed for the benefit of two antagonistic and historically competitive powers. Ukraine, in truth had little or no opportunity for reconciliation, coalition, negotiation or an exploration for charting the country’s future course. 19_CRASH3_r_W
Reaction to the protests opened the door to the possibility of exploitation. It seems clear that, at least from available evidence that both the United States, Russia and to a lesser degree the EU found ample opportunity. Public sentiment regarding the protests was sharply divided, with the country almost evenly split between supporting and not supporting the protests. By March Ukrainians supporting the Euromaidan protests approached 60%. But the population of Ukraine, including ethnic Russians in the East and in Crimea among the protesters was not as evenly represented. On February 6th a Kiev Post poll found that some 55% were from the western portion of the country, 24% from central Ukraine and 21% from the eastern portion of the nation.

The protests themselves were really rather benign and straightforward. What began in the late Autumn of 2013 over a refusal by Yankovych to sign association with the European Union. As part of that agreement the EU expected democratic reforms, including the controversial imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko for abuse of power with regards to gas deals between Ukraine and Russia. The proceedings were suspect from the start. According to a report in Germany’s Deutsche Welle, there were allegations of a young and inexperienced judge being appointed by Yanukovych, setting off a firestorm amid the negotiations between the EU and Ukraine. After clashes with police and escalating measures meant to end the protests the battle lines were drawn between the government and protesters.

From the start both Russia and the United States were deeply invested and more in the events unfolding in Ukraine. Audiences in both countries and Europe were fed alternative narratives on the protests, while behind the scenes not so subtle manipulation continued apace. Russia stopped the import of goods from Ukraine, a significant blow to the economy of Ukraine. By the time the protests began in November 2013 Ukrainian industrial production had slid by almost 6%, coupled with a nearly 2% fall from the previous year.

Seeing an opportunity, Ukrainian billionaire businessman and Foreign and Trade minister, Petro Poroshenko was boastful about the role his television network played in the protests. On December 11th, the same day Russia countered an EU loan offer of $10 billion USD with $15 billion without the EU’s required regulation changes, Poroshenko’s network broadcast and interview with the US State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland and EU diplomat Catherine Ashton.

Mrs. Nuland was the wife of Robert Kagan, it should be noted, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, which advises and makes recommendations on foreign policy to congress, diplomats and the president of the United States. It was here, in 1947 that the term “containment,” with regards to American policy towards the Soviet Union was coined; a policy that seems to still be a component of the relationship between Russia and the US. Kagan also co-founded The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) with conservative commentator former Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. PNAC advocates a position of prominence with the US as the world’s preeminent superpower, and was influential in America’s invasion of Iraq in 2004, ostensibly to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a PNAC member, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who was a driving architect behind that war, and who, in a PNAC paper titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” infamously wrote of the need for a ”catastrophic and catalyzing event— like a new Pearl Harbor.”

What that reveal is a systemic and institutionalized perspective with regard to narrow national interests. That narrow perspective was evident on both the American and Russian sides. Russia and the West abandoned diplomacy and started playing the angles. The angles all point to oil and gas.

But it appears that Europe was less fixated on wrestling for strategic resources and more concerned with stability, particularly as the world emerged grudgingly from a severe and prolonged global recession. Struggling economies like Greece and Moldova would severely impacted, their anemic recoveries threatened, halted or reversed. While falling on the side of Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy Europe refrained from the aggressive momentum of the United States, and often seemed to resist that momentum. Adding additional weight was the specter of a replay of the 2009 gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia which cut off badly needed Russian gas to Europe, which was resolved in an agreement between Putin and Tymoshenko, leading to her imprisonment on abuse of power charges.

The United States appeared to be losing patience over European intransigence. In early February a conversation between Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked to the media. There is a smaller contextual concern over the recording, part of a larger and broader discussion, which was obviously intended to embarrass the Americans, but the larger context remains, reproduced here in part:

Nuland: I think Yats(enyuk) is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch (Kiev Mayor and one of three opposition leaders Vitaly Klitschko) and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk, it’s just not going to work.
Pyatt: Yeah, no, I think that’s right. OK. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?
Nuland: My understanding from that call – but you tell me – was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context a… three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it?
Pyatt: No. I think… I mean that’s what he proposed but I think, just knowing the dynamic that’s been with them where Klitschko has been the top dog, he’s going to take a while to show up for whatever meeting they’ve got and he’s probably talking to his guys at this point, so I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it before they all sit down and he explains why he doesn’t like it.
Nuland: OK, good. I’m happy. Why don’t you reach out to him and see if he wants to talk before or after.
Pyatt: OK, will do. Thanks.
Nuland: OK… one more wrinkle for you Geoff. [A click can be heard] I can’t remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?
Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.
Nuland: OK. He’s now gotten both Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.
Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. And again the fact that this is out there right now, I’m still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych (garbled) that. In the meantime there’s a Party of Regions faction meeting going on right now and I’m sure there’s a lively argument going on in that group at this point. But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast. So let me work on Klitschko and if you can just keep… we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.
Nuland: So on that piece Geoff, when I wrote the note [US vice-president’s national security adviser Jake] Sullivan’s come back to me VFR [direct to me], saying you need [US Vice-President Joe] Biden and I said probably tomorrow for an atta-boy and to get the deets [details] to stick. So Biden’s willing.

That winter, amid Nuland’s controversial remark, 44 year old Hunter Biden, son of then Vice President Joe Biden was in discussions with the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings Ltd., based out of Limassol Cyprus, according to Businessweek, engages in a broad spectrum of gas and oil exploration and production. In May of that year it was announced that Biden had been appointed to Burisma’s board, which drew attention and immediate criticism around the globe. The timing was certainly notable and advantageous to US energy interests which had been deeply invested in Ukraine for some time. The U.S. energy firm Vanco won a contract to extract gas from the Black Sea in 2007. Initially the deal was approved by Yanukovych, but then later cancelled by his predecessor, Yulia Timoshenko.

And while the Obama administration insisted there was nothing untoward in Biden’s appointment it is curious that Burisma is controlled by a close confidant of Viktor Yanukovych, Wall Street Journal, and former government official, Nicholai Zlochevsky. In a press conference following the appointment, White house Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens, and where they work does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president.” Carney added that there was no connection between Biden’s appointment to Burisma and US Policy.

While there were no accusations of illegality, for an ethical and perhaps even moral standpoint it raises strong concerns. But the United States, which has often been criticized for unfairly furthering its economic interests in pursuit of its ever growing energy demands, was playing a duplicitous game. The issue here was one of access, and that multiple lines of access directly between energy strategy, the Obama administration and Ukraine can be clearly and distinctly distinguished. Biden, the son of a sitting American Vice President was at the table of Ukraine’s energy concern in a time of war, with access to the highest levels of power in both governments. Meanwhile a second American also joined Burisma. His name, Devon Archer, a former partner of Biden’s at Washington D.C. based equity firm Rosemont Seneca partners. The company is half owned by Rosemont Capital a private equity firm founded by Devon Archer and Secretary of State John Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz.

“The primary problem here is the fact that Hunter Biden has set up a financial arrangement with someone who might have business pending before this administration,” Craig Holman, an ethics expert with Public Citizen, a Washington-based government watchdog group told the Associated Press.
Furthermore, the appearance of an incestuous relationship between Ukrainian energy concerns and the administration risked damaging American credibility with regard to the growing crisis. It appeared to be only the latest and most aggressive step in a rush to secure and control gas deposits in the region.

Adding fuel to that flame was the deal between Kiev and the US-based Chevron in 2013 to extract Shale gas in Western Ukraine, and a failed deal by ExxonMobil to extract gas in the Black Sea. In the United States there was hardly any mention of hunter Biden’s appointment.

In June 2014 Hunter Biden, sporting an American flag lapel pin attended the inauguarion of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine’s new president, telling the new leader, billionaire and businessman that “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

The announcement of targeted sanctions by the United States seemed intended in disrupting Russian efforts in exploiting exploration and drilling. It comes as quite a coincidence that the coveted and embattled eastern regions also boast substantial gas reserves. Among the companies holding permits to develop gas fields in the Dneiper-Donetsk region is Burisma. The embattled city of Slavyansk rests upon the Yuzivska shale gas deposit, estimated at more than 4 trillion cubic meters, which In May 2012, Shell, owned jointly by great Britain and the Netherlands won the competition to develop. 40 miles to the southeast lies the field where MH-17 will ultimately come to rest.

CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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An early excerpt from my upcoming book on the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 of Ukraine

The following is preliminary and some of the details will change as new information comes to light. This, however is the best recreation of events that terrible day to date. The narrative is dedicated to the memory of the victims of Flight MH-17.

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It rained that morning. It was humid, the clouds breaking through the morning as the heat rose above the rolling hills and fields around Hrabove, or Grabovo (field of briars) Ukraine. To the south the sky threatened rain. Fat, high clouds caught a strong afternoon sun, paining them a silvery hue among patches of cerulean blue sky.
This is an embattled land, its history honed by the Mongol invasions, the terror of the Nazi occupation, the catastrophe of the Soviets and now civil war. Hitler’s army passed this way on its way to Stalingrad, now Volgograd a further two hundred miles to the east. The people here, as people do in much of the Slavic world wear history like a vestment; a certain and yet intangible spice that flavors everything, but which melts away to the touch. It is a character of life, and one few Americans can relate properly to. It informs a particular fatalism, and ambivalence. It is a unique quality to a people who have woven a purposely idealized history replete with irony and the mysticism of Eastern Orthodoxy.
There isn’t much to the town, which was founded in the 15th Century, save for the heritage of the 1,000 or so people who live there. In the 2001 census most identified as Ukrainian, with only 22% identifying as Russian speaking. Whether that remains true under the current environment is a point of conjecture best argued by the people of Hrabove. While doubtful the population has changed, with the conflict likely attitudes changed.
The town’s most prominent structure in the Holy Trinity Church near the center of town, with its gleaming crosses of gold atop the green shingled steeple and oriental dome. When the town fell under German occupation in the Second World War Christian orthodox worship, banned under Soviet authorities was permitted. After the war Soviet authorizes converted the church to a dance hall, and nearly leveled it until local intervened to prevent its destruction.
Just to the north lies the Hrabivske reservoir, with its high banks spotted with banks of small woods. The town draws much of its water from this reservoir. Below an ancient Kurgan, or Tatar mound the reservoir narrows bending eastward, bending as the muddy Mius River through woods and fields of golden wheat and oceans of fattening sunflowers. The river and reservoir marks the boundary line between Luhans’ka oblast to the north and the Donetsk oblast, or district, of which Hrabove is a part.
Ten miles to the south a convoy of military vehicles rumbled through the town of Snizhe, one of them was recognized as a SA-11 surface to air BUK missile launcher. Local reports put the convoy in the town around lunchtime. Atop the tracked vehicle 4 18 foot missiles were unmistakable for a group of Associated Press journalists covering the war. A man in fatigues cautioned the journalists against filming before the convoy rumble west out of town. Dressed into desert camouflage, unlike the rebel soldiers green uniforms, he spoke with a distinctive Russian accent. The journalists noted the time was 1:05pm. Later an anonymous source would indicate to the AP that the unit may have been based in President Yanukovich’s hometown of Yenakiieve. Supporting the launcher some thirty miles away near the village of Styla a Kupol mobile radar had been deployed in support of the battery.
At approximately 4:15pm, local time, roughly two hours after departing AMS, MH-17 neared the Russian border, a scant 50KMs east. Any concerns the crew might have had in flying over the warzone would have dissipated quickly once beyond that line. The line between disaster and routine now was measured in moments.
Initially the crew had filed a flight plan which would have taken them farther to the south at an altitude of 35,000 feet. Instead they were diverted north, ostensibly for thunder storms brewing to the south, and ordered to 33,000 feet for traffic. Slowing to 490 knots, MH-17 descended 2,000 feet. It is, in the first confusing and shocking hours and days, tainted by the hate and propaganda of war and the insipid ignorance of social media, that the fertile ground for conspiracy theories and innuendo are created. Innocuous, misinterpreted or ill-informed early reports become fertilizer for conspiracies. Which is not to say that conspiracies never take place, but in proper historical analysis and investigation truth is easily a victim of rumor, propaganda and imagination. But it is reports like that from Malaysia’s Airlines director of operations, Izham Ismail, responding to claims that weather led to the change in MH-17’s flight plan, replied that he had no reports from the pilot to suggest that was the case.
It must also be noted that despite claims that the Buk’s command and control and fire team were animated and expectant of enemy incursion, it shows at the very least a complete and criminal negligence at every level in the chain of command. If Russia in fact supplied the vehicle the responsible authorities share substantially in culpability for allowing trigger happy, irresponsible and ill-trained rebels such a dangerously sophisticated weapon. While fewer flights than normal flew through Ukranian airspace in the month leading up to July 17, according to Mikael Robertsson, co-founder of flight tracking website Flightradar24, two other aircraft were present within 10 minutes flight time of MH-17. At a press conference following the crash Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai that “MH17’s flight path was a busy major airway, like a highway in the sky. It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft… MH17 flew at an altitude that was set and deemed safe by local air traffic control, and it never strayed into restricted airspace. The flight and its operators followed the rules. But on the ground, the rules of war were broken.”
Ukrainian authorities had earlier prohibited aircraft from operating at 32,000 feet or below, just a thousand feet below the altitude that MH-17 was flying. That still placed it well within range of the Buk Missile battery now operating near Torez. In June, despite assurances both British Airlines and Lufthansa decided against risking East Ukrainian airspace. Emirates suspended flights to Ukraine altogether, according to Reuters. As pointed out in a previous chapter the routine of war balanced against marketing and business concerns, it had become normal business practice for International airlines to fly over war zones. Ukraine was no different. Commercial airlines regularly flew over Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars there, comfortable that insurgent forces lacked the capability to threaten them. When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced: Ai-ya-fyatla-yoy-katl) erupted in 2010 disrupting air travel between North America and Europe and ground more than 100,000 flights, the cost to airlines and more than 6 million stranded passengers was in the tens of millions of Dollars.
The dilemma begs a wider question, however, as to whether we are becoming far too cavalier with regards to war. In the wake of the Cold War and its international alignment, more or less, there was at least greater control over the proliferation of sophisticated weapons of war. It is a good thing that international market economics, to a degree, is less incumbent upon those old and obsolete structures. In its way, however, commerce and proliferation in weapons, such as the system that brought down MH-17 has become virtually unrestricted. The collapse of nation states, regional instability and wars around the globe finds buyers for new and ever more terrible weaponry. Following the Malaysian Airlines disaster there has been little if any substantive discussion about limiting the proliferation of such weapons. The saddest aspect of all of this is that the avoidable and unnecessary deaths of 298 people might simply prove a demonstration of a weapons capabilities, making it more attractive to despots, madmen and warlords.
Through banks of full gray and white clouds 33,000 feet below embattled Ukraine appeared peaceful as a geometric patchwork of farms and towns elegantly carved with the telltale green of rivers and fertile tributaries. The distance and humidity near the surface deepened hues and softened lines until the land took on the character of a pastel rendering.
Somewhere just outside Snizhe, according to radio intercepts the Buk’s crew was alerted to an incoming aircraft. While indications are abundant and clear that the rebels assumed the incoming aircraft was a Ukrainian military transport there seems to have been a blatant disregard for protocols which would have allowed them to identify the plain as civilian. Visually it may have proved difficult, even with binoculars, but the Buk system hardly relies on World War 2 era technology for identification.
The Buk’s acquisition radar, which was likely deployed some thirty miles to the southwest in the village of Styla allowed the rebel fighters to identify, track and target the aircraft. Whether they believed they were once again targeting a Ukrainian transport, or simply took advantage of a ready target remains unclear. Equipped with IFF, identification Friend or Foe, there should have been indications this something other than a military aircraft. Protocols, IFF, known civilian over flights, flight path, altitude, command structure and time on target removes the specter of the accidental and indicates at the very least negligence if not intention.
According to Army-Technology.com, in association with Defense and Security Systems International the Buk Air Defense Missile System maintains a high kill rate at target:
A single missile can destroy tactical aircraft and helicopters with a probability between 0.9 and 0.95, while the kill probability against tactical ballistic missiles ranges between 0.6 and 0.7. The missile can operate continuously for one day with refuelling and has a tear-down time of five minutes. The missile can destroy tactical ballistic missile within the range of 20km and can kill cruise missiles at 100m altitude and within the range of 20km. It has maximum target g-load of 10g and can destroy aerodynamic targets with a maximum speed of 830m/s flying at an altitude between 0.015km and 25km, and within 3km to 45km range. The missile system can operate in temperatures up to ± 50°C and wind speeds up to 30m/s. Its maximum operating altitude above sea level is 3,000m.
The Buk system isn’t a truck with a couple of drunk rebels roaming the countryside in search of a target. Even paired down to a smaller unit, as it may have been on that warm July day, it would have consisted of several vehicles and several operators. It had proved itself more than capable against combat aircraft. It requires only about 5 minutes to set up and deploy, and can be ready to move in another five minutes after firing a missile or missiles, making it a very versatile and competent weapon of war.
What isn’t in contention is that a missile was launched, and that it was fired by someone on the rebel side. The shot was intentional.
Credible witnesses place the large and unmistakable Buk vehicle entering the neighboring town of Torez only 4 miles due south of Hrabove and just six miles (10 kilometers) west of Snizhne. Three days earlier, on the 14th a Buk system was credited with the downing of a Ukrainian Antonov-26 flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet over the town of Izvaryne outside Donestsk. Two days later above the town of Amvrosiivka, 10 miles southwest of Snizhne a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter was shot down.
“A bird is flying to you,” a spotter told a rebel commander for pro-Russian separatists in Horlivka 15 miles west of the crash sight, identified as Igor Bezlor, a mercurial man and a typical character to be found in any conflict who is all too ready to rationalize any moral and ethical transgression to war. In temperament and stature Bezlor reminds one of the late Serbian thug and warlord Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic. His features are pallid and severe, an obligatory cigarette everpresent and a black cap that seems costume-like.
“Reconnaissance plane or a big one?” asks Bezlor, from his regional headquarters in nearby Gorlovka.
“I can’t see behind the clouds,” the spotter replies. “It’s too high.”
Bezlor, who goes by the non de guerre of “Bes,” or “demon” in Russian, reportedly was a former undertaker sacked from his job for theft. He never once disputed the authenticity of the recordings. Many of those recordings have been verified and supported by other rebels. That is back up by the initial communications and Bezlor’s own initial tweet that indicates quite clearly that the rebels believed they had downed a Ukrainian aircraft.
The order to fire was given, and the order was followed, apparently without question. The missile launched. There would have been no warning, no indication of the rebel missile already streaking skyward towards the aircraft at more than 2,000 feet per second. The view from the flight deck is notoriously limited in the best of circumstances. The flight crew would have been just as surprised as anyone on board. There is a certain comfort in that realization.
On the ground at around 4:20 that afternoon residents of Torez recalled hearing loud explosions. Rostislav Grishin, a 21-year-old prison guard remembered hearing “two powerful blasts in a row. The time must be viewed as subjective. “First there was one, but then after a minute, a minute and a half, there was another discharge. I raised my head and within a minute I could see a plane falling through the clouds.” The two powerful blasts Grishin heard were undoubtedly the nearby launch of the missile followed by the detonation as the missile found its intended target.
The launch would have been powerful and thundering, followed by the long tearing crrrraaacckkk as the missile streaked skyward. Smoke and dust from the launch would have consumed briefly the massive vehicle. Carried in the rolling hills around Torez, the sounds of the launch, as recalled by a number of witnesses, carried for several miles.
The 9M317 missile required a radar lock to steer it to the target. It is an awesome weapon when launched, a solid fuel rocket with a total burn time of about 15 seconds that finds it target at speeds of up to Mach 3. Operator steered the missile in flight until the missiles own onboard system locked onto the airliner. For the crew on MH-17 and the passengers there would be no warning as the missile streaked skywards at better than 3000 feet per second.
The missile is designed to detonate within 65 feet of its target. From the wreckage it is difficult to say with certainty that the missile struck the aircraft directly. A direct impact wouldn’t have been necessary. With a 154 pound high explosive fragmentation warhead an explosion anywhere near the aircraft would have been devastating. What is certain is that the explosion was catastrophic to the 777. At around 14:15 GMT, an hour and fifty-six minutes after takeoff Malaysian Airlines flight 17 disappeared from radar screens. It was 9:11am in Washington D.C.
The missile raced up at the aircraft, passing underneath from right to left at three times the speed of sound, four times faster than the aircraft was travelling. Just below and behind where Captain Wan Amran sat at the controls the missile exploded with a blinding flash. Initial evidence indicates that the flight deck and first and business class cabins bore the brunt of the explosion as thousands of pieces of Shrapnel shredded the front and underside of the plane. A surviving section of the fuselage from the flight deck, with portions of the window frame, shows significant scorching and substantial shrapnel damage, including a massive hole more than a foot in diameter. The edges of that remaining piece of fuselage point to terrible damage done to the front and nose of the aircraft, which by itself would have been enough to doom the aircraft and passengers. It should be noted here that the apparent shrapnel wounds are entrance points and that no exit points have been found, which would indicate an external explosion, and that the integrity of the fuselage was breached by the decompression of the aircraft caused by the missile detonation and not a bomb as some have wrongly theorized.
More deadly shards of steel would have sliced through the aircraft along its length, though the front of the craft bore the brunt. A piece of the overhead storage bins found in a tree exhibit a number of shrapnel marks. A section of wing revealed what appeared to be shrapnel marks. Still the damage, enough damage, had been done. The aircraft was hammered sideways, the port engine likely incapacitated or diminished, the starboard engine screaming as the plane began to turn over, monstrous and incapacitating G-forces tearing at the aircraft and the bodies within.
Severe G-forces can lead to so-called gray outs caused by a lack of blood flow to the eyes, or blackouts and unconsciousness as the head is robbed of blood and oxygen. In centrifuge tests, far fear and less violent g-forces than the passengers of MH-17 would have experienced, 50% of trained pilots loss sight and consciousness. In those tests pilots lost consciousness for between 5-15 seconds after G-forces were diminished, followed by another 5-15 seconds of severe disorientation. Tolerance for the effects of G-forces varies from individual to individual, depending upon height, weight, age, training and on health. The G’s the passengers would have experienced alone, not including the effects of severe oxygen deprivation, extreme cold, shock or blunt force trauma, would have remained debilitating for anyone on board.
The flight data recorder marked the moment disaster struck MH-17: Explosive decompression. Those words conjure all sorts of nightmarish images. The decompression through the entire aircraft would have been stunning all along the length of the cabin. It was as if a giant had smashed the aircraft broadsides with a great sledgehammer. At that altitude few if any would have any chance at all to react. The sudden storm of pummeling debris, sub-arctic cold, lack of oxygen and punishing winds, far in excess of an F5 Tornado, would have rendered passengers unconscious almost instantly.
Indications are the aircraft began to break up immediately. Within the cabin daylight would have appeared suddenly from the front of the plane and in places where the red-hot shards of rocket casing pierced the fuselage, spreading quickly as the highly pressurized tube began tearing itself apart. It would have been the last thing, without any cognoscente understanding, the passengers would have physically perceived. Most likely died quickly if not instantly. Those who might have held out would have lasted no more than a few seconds. Death at 33,000 feet is shocking and violent, but mercifully quick.
Unconscious or deceased, passengers were flung from the aircraft into the abyss, many still strapped in their seats. Dozens remained within what remained of the aircraft as it plummeted towards Hrabove. Several of the bodies, at least from photographic evidence, were so badly mutilated that they may have been victims of the initial blast, or were partly ingested into the failing engines. One of those bodies was recovered still wearing part of a flight attendant’s green uniform. The wounds are far different from dozens of those who fell or were scattered across the countryside, indicating different fates.
In a cattle pasture outside Hrabove the right rear door frame and several other pieces of the aircraft’s skin fell. One of those pieces still bore the Malaysian Airlines registration 9M-MRD The horizontal tail landed in a wheat field a few hundred yards south of town. Part of a wingtip landed nearby in a small pond. The forward cargo floor landed nearly five miles away on the outskirts of the town of Petropavlivka. First class, marked “Row 2” overhead bins bearing shrapnel marks were found in a tree across from the Petropavlivka village hall.
Just 18 miles and 4 minutes flight time behind MH-17, was SQ351, a Singapore Airlines flight out of Copenhagen and Air India flight 113, with 126 passengers, departing Birmingham for Delhi. It is worth noting here why these aircraft were also not targeted, flying roughly the same route and at the same altitude, if in fact the rebel radar command and control mistook MH-17 for an enemy aircraft, why did they not make the same assumption at other aircraft following relatively closely? The Buk system was more than capable of managing multiple targets.

WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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