I expect this means that from now on Randall Munroe will be described on slashdot as "a raging leftoid" or some similar label.
I expect this means that from now on Randall Munroe will be described on slashdot as "a raging leftoid" or some similar label.
When I woke up, all my muscles were on fire. We would have had to turn the ship around today, and in fact that's what was scheduled, except for the meteors and the drama that followed.
Destiny was sleeping peacefully. I got up, thankful that we weren't at Earth gravity but wishing we had turned around for deceleration then, because they have it plotted so that you start the journey close to the planet you're leaving's gravity, and reach your destination close to that planet's gravity. We were at half Earth gravity now and it would gradually be lowering to Mars' gravity.
The girls didn't like half Earth gravity, they were going to hate Mars. I guess these girls were being well paid or something, they sure were paying me good. Except that from what I'd learned about these women they probably just promised free drops. Drops were the addicts' only motivation, only goal, only thing that mattered to them.
God but my muscles were all on fire. I sat down on the couch and had the robot make a cup of shitty coffee, my legs hurt. I had it bring me water and Naproxin and drank the lousy coffee. Yech. Why can't they program those damned things to make drinkable coffee? I should have went to college and learned programming.
I only drank half of the nasty brew and hauled myself painfully to the shower. A hot shower would do wonders for my aching muscles.
The hot water felt as good as the coffee had tasted bad. I took a really long one. It helped ease the pain, and the pill had started working some, too.
I took one sip of the remaining cold, nasty coffee and started a pot. Damned stupid robots.
I was just pouring a cup when Destiny came in. "John!" she said. "You look like hell!"
"I feel like hell. All that damned climbing yesterday nearly killed me. And I still have to check the instruments and inspect the boat."
"You did inspection yesterday. I thought inspections were weekly?"
"Yeah, normally, but yesterday wasn't the least bit normal. I have to inspect that busted generator since it would have cooled enough by now, and the other one, too, since it's working harder now that there's only one."
"Well, at least I don't have to inspect cargo today. Want to watch a movie later?"
"Sure. Isn't it almost time to check your instrumentation?"
"Yeah, it is." I kissed her. "See you in a while."
I went towards the pilot room, which was really just outside my quarters. Yesterday I'd been wishing for a bicycle, today I was wishing for a cane.
All the readouts were normal except one ï½ air pressure in the port generator was twenty kilopascal low. That wasn't a good sign at all, I was going to need a suit and tether in case a bulkhead blew while I was in there.
I noted the log and stopped by our cabin... heh, "our cabin," how about that? Anyway I stopped to fill a bug mug and summon a medic.
Medics are robots that look kind of like narrow tables with padded tops and appendages to measure bodily functions and administer medicine. Planetside they called them "gurneys" but everything is named different on a boat. Like port and starboard.
I sat on the medic and ordered it to the port generator and got another robot on the fone to fetch the suit from the starboard hold where Destiny had gone out the airlock.
After I'd suited up and tethered, the difference in pressure made it hard to get the hatch open. I tried a crowbar and couldn't even make it hiss. So I lowered the pressure where I was and the door popped open by itself. I took a floater with me to hunt for the leak.
A floater is just a small balloon filled with helium with a small counterweight to make it gravity neutral. It goes where the air goes.
I found where the air was escaping and patched it. Why can't they program robots to do that? Stupid robots, they could act as maids and medical doctors and all sorts of other functions but the damned things can't patch a hole or make a decent cup of coffee. At least they're cheap.
The pressure was slowly rising so I sat on the medic and waited until it matched the rest of the ship so I could get out of the room. I hadn't needed the suit, but left it on just to keep my ears from popping.
The gauge said pressure was normal so I tried the hatch. It opened easy, so I took off the suit and gave it to a robot and rode the medic back to my rooms.
I was dying of thirst, even after downing that big glass of water when I took the naproxin. I said something to Destiny about it when I got back, taking another pill and drinking more water.
She laughed. "You're dehydrated, dummy. You told me yesterday you thought you were going to drown in your suit from sweating. You probably need electrolytes, too."
"And I'm hungry, I just didn't feel like eating when I got up. You hungry?"
"I could eat. Robot eggs okay or do you want me to cook?"
"No, robots cook okay as long as it doesn't involve coffee. How do you want your eggs?"
"Ham and cheese omelette is okay, maybe with some hash browns."
"Okay. Robot, a ham and cheese omelet, a Denver omelette, two hash browns and toast. No coffee!"
Them damn robots suck at coffee, and they can't patch a hole at all. I'm glad they can cook.
Included in those replies, though, was a a genuine you-win-the-internet-with-that-hyperpolic-nonsense reply. Not that this kind of conservative nonsense is new here, but the enthusiasm with which it was shared - even this late in the discussion - was impressive. The new user behind this has written only around 2 dozen comments to date, the oldest dating to last August.
I will say though, he made me laugh so hard at his nonsense that I felt compelled to reply. So I guess he trolled me fairly well.
If Obamacare's insurance reforms break the market, that calculus still won't change: Most people will still have insurance they like, and they will not be willing to give it up in order to solve problems in the individual market -- which now covers about 5 percent of the population and is expected to ultimately cover something over that. Even if the individual market functionally disappears, most people will still be covered, and most politicians will be unwilling to endorse a program that takes away what they have. There is no path to single payer from even a spectacular Obamacare implosion -- for the same reason that there was no path to single payer before Obamacare was passed.
Ironically, single payer seems much more plausible if the system succeeds. One possible path along which the health-care law could develop is that more and more employers dump folks onto the exchanges, breaking the link between employment and insurance for millions of Americans. If that happens but other problems remain -- such as rising premiums -- then you can imagine a series of reforms that ultimately leads to single payer, probably starting with a public option. Employers would probably still provide supplemental health insurance as a benefit, the way some do in the U.K., but it would be a relatively cheap add-on, not a huge portion of your compensation package.
So dash your hopes and allay your fears. An Obamacare failure would be bad in many ways, and it would mean significant changes for the insurance market. But we're not getting the National Health Service anytime soon.
I started the long walk back to the pilot room wishing again for a bicycle or something.
A robot wheeled past. Hell, I should just flag down a robot. But, of course there was a reason for not having transportation; I remembered the climb up the boat when the whores locked me out and how tiring it was. A body needs exercise and the most I was going to get on a boat with two-thirds gravity was walking.
Destiny and Tammy were in the commons with a few other women; I say "women" because these were acting halfway civilized, despite their lack of clothing.
"Done already?" Destiny asked.
"No," I sighed. "Trouble. One of the generators blew out and we're off course again. I just saw you and thought I'd say 'hi', I can't stay. Too much damned work."
"what do you have to do? How long will it take?"
"I don't know. When I get us back on course I have to see what the robots are doing with the generator."
"How bad is it?" Tammy asked. "How many generators are there?"
"Only two. I wish this was an old tub, they originally had just one fission generator and got retrofitted with fusions. If our other generator dies it's batteries.
"We're late. But there isn't much chance of losing both generators. We'll be okay. But speaking of generators, I gotta go." I kissed Destiny and headed to the generator.
It had cooled enough for the robots to go in to work, but was a bulkhead removed from where a human could tolerate it. I had two more engines I hadn't checked off so I inspected them. Of course, if there was anything wrong I'd have been clueless.
The repair robots said the generator was shot.
I walked past the commons to my quarters, Destiny and Tammy weren't in there although there were a few unclothed whores. Damn, ladies, put some pants on!
Destiny and Tammy were in my living room drinking coffee. As I walked in, Destiny said "John, you're damned lucky Tammy's here."
As I'd suspected. "You're supplying the drops," I said, sitting down.
"The whores would have killed us without them."
"How much you got?"
"Enough to get to Mars?"
"Don't worry. I know my chemistry, I know how much they need."
I said "don't give any to the bitches in confinement."
"You don't know what you're talking about. With drops they're harmless. Take them away, and well, it isn't pretty."
I was confused. "What can they do locked up?"
"They're liable to suicide."
Crap. Losing cargo is a pretty bad thing.
"Crap! Damn but I'm glad you're here. I'm going to suggest to the company that they send someone like you on all these runs."
She laughed. "The company wouldn't want to spend the money necessary. The bean counters know how much loss is acceptable."
Destiny said "I made coffee."
"Thanks, but after the day I've had I want a beer."
"I'm still trying to wake up," she said.
"Yeah, you napped for a couple of hours after you went for a stroll outside. I would have thought the oxygen would have woke you up."
"Actually it put me to sleep."
Where the hell was that robot with my beer? "Robot! Beer, damn it, are you deaf?" A robot rolled over with my beer. I'm glad this boat has the older robots. The newer ones talk, and it's annoying as hell. If I want output from the computer I'll use my fone or tablet.
Tammy said she had whores to study and excused herself. The robots made dinner and we watched some really dumb old movie from a couple hundred years ago, laughing all the way through it although they say when it was made, it was meant to be serious.
Then we went to bed. I hoped tomorrow would be less stressful. My muscles all ached from the walking and climbing, I was going to be in pain the next day.
To Be Continued...
I've hardly logged on to the internet at all this past week, too busy correcting a mistake software houses frequently do: Trying to rush a project out the door. The fact is, I'm tired of The Paxil Diaries, but I don't want to ship a flawed piece of crap.
The first copy had a messed up cover; my printer's "cover generation wizard" has an interface almost as bad as GIMP. I fixed it and ordered a corrected copy, and a day later as I was converting the
Number three showed up bright and early Thursday morning. I started going over it with a fine toothed comb. Almost halfway through and I started to think I'd be able to release it. The weather got really nice so I decided to read it in Felber's beer garden.
I discovered I was far better at proofreading when I've had a few beers than sober. When I'm sober what the words are saying distracts me from the words themselves, and I read too fast and miss errors.
It was full of errors, many of them whoppers. I marked them drinking, and finished correcting this morning while sober and sent for copy #4. It may be available in a couple of weeks depending on if I find more errors when it comes. I'll upload the book's HTML and PDF versions as soon as I decide I can release it.
Meanwhile, I can get back to Mars, Ho! this week.
You'd have to consider that the Constitution guarantees the right to free speech and wonder about transitive principles - where's the free money?
And if the US Government can confiscate money as taxes, aren't they suppressing free speech rights?
However, I will point out something else they should be paying attention to at this stage. They want the POTUS out no matter the cost, but the clock is not in their favor. We are down to about 31 months to the 2016 election (where of course Obama cannot run, conspiracy theories be damned).
The last time a POTUS was forced out was of course Watergate. If we look at the timeline on that, we see that the investigation on that started February 1973. Nixon resigned the following August; roughly 18 months later.
If the government of today is so bloated and overgrown (from the standard conservative mantra) then there is no reason to expect that an investigation could bring about a resignation in less time than it did in 1972-1973. If it even took twice as long, then the clock has already ran out for the conservative dream scenario of forcing Obama out.
Not that they would let reality get in the way, though. And obviously budgets are not important when there is a president waiting to get thrown out of the white house, right?
I encourage all to dive in and see just how stupid a conservative can make himself look in one discussion. I wasn't even planning to reply to his comment, but I was the 4th word of it so I figured I'd at least try to familiarize him with the situation. From there, hilarity ensues as:
he uses no facts, whatsoever, to try to make a grand statement (strike one!)
I point out that he did that, and clarify the matter so he can take another swing at it
He then attempts to make one fact, but completely misses the point because he's too angry to read(strike two!)
I then use his actual words to show that he's a liar (strike three!)
He then tries to play fast and loose with the English Language to avoid having to admit to being wrong (already past strike three, but still swinging!)
I point out that he just fell on his face again (really, go back to the dugout!)
He then returns to the usual MO of just accusing anyone who disagrees with him of "lying" (can you strike out twice if you refuse to leave after strike three and miss three more times?)
For bonus points, feel free to go back and count the number of times that he was reduced to slinging silly insults at me, rather than actually dealing with the matter at hand. Extra thanks to smitty for this one. I don't think he intended to make pudge look like a buffoon (not that it's hard) but he ended up dong it nonetheless. Perhaps this is why pudge doesn't come around here very often any more?
(One last edit. After constructive criticism of my style from JC I'm going to lead this with a quote from a part of a post I made previously that sums up why Eich was unsuitable to be CEO without all the "It's not about X", "Hate campaign", and other stuff that is totally right but makes it all TL;DR. Original post after the -----, you don't have to read it any more)
It's not about what you think, it's about how you treat other people and how you deal with being, quite legitimately, associated with a set of actions (whatever the motive) that many find offensive. We would not be here today had Eich not, two years ago, thought this was a good thing to write:
Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: no.
about people who might possibly think he has animosity about gays because he donated, twice, totalling $1,000, after it became obvious what the nature of the campaign was, to an organization that repeatedly ran TV ads claiming married homosexuals were a danger to children.
That was a particularly dumb thing to write. It's something most of us feel sometimes when we're under attack, but that's kinda why the job of CEO doesn't go to just about anyone. There are so many useful positions Eich could have gone to, why-oh-why did they make him CEO?
(Just three additional notes: First, I've reposted this because the original was open to everyone, and it turned out the same illiterate idiots who've insisted that questioning Eich's handling of revelations of his donations to an active hate campaign is the same thing as wanting him fired for his opinion are now trolling my journal. So, regretfully, I'm deleting the old JE. Second: this was originally written before Eich resigned. Some minor updates since this was originally published: additional line about "what Slashdotters believe", and removal of comment about other Mozilla board members resigning as this appears to have been misrepresented by media. Finally: actually the situation is worse than described below. In the below I presumed Eich hadn't known exactly what he donated to, thinking it was a generic pro-Prop 8 campaign. It turns out Eich knew it was a hate campaign before he made his donations. This significantly changes the relevence of "Strike 2" below.)
Let's get a few things out of the way first.
There is no issue with Eich's private views, and to a certain extent even his opposition to "gay marriage", however backward and unreasonable such a position might be. It is not about whether he supported Prop 8, whether his name appeared on any petitions in favor of it, or whether he voted for it - again, however unreasonable and backward and pathetic such a position might be.
The problem is this.
I remember the pro-Prop 8 campaigns. Those campaigning for Prop 8 did not focus exclusively on a small set of arguments focussed entirely on some kind of practical, or even religious, argument in favor of Prop 8.
The campaigns themselves were, objectively, homophobic and bigoted. They smeared. They lied. Dog whistles about "protecting our children" (couched with plausable deniability type justifications along the lines of "If it doesn't pass, children will think gay marriages are normal" - uh, right..) were common, as one obvious example.
And Eich donated money to that.
And having basically co-funded a campaign whipping up hate against 5-10% of Mozilla's workforce, he's now in charge of them.
That's strike one.
Strike two is that he's never acknowledged that this was ever a problem. My reading, both of his 2012 "explanation" (which lacks any justifications, it's more a "Don't call me a bigot, you're a bigot" type piece of crap we usually hear from right wing nuts caught with their heads in white hoods) and his current "Let bygones by bygones, of course I'll be nice to the gheys that's Mozilla policy!" comments) is that he's pointedly refused to distance himself from the campaigning he co-funded. No "I never had any problems with gay people and I was disappointed to see how the funds I donated were used", let alone support for groups combatting homophobia.
So... what happens next?
Firefox is Firefox. It's the world's best browser, albeit one that has suffered many knocks over the last few years both with its well documented issues with memory and reliability, and the user interface changes that continue to blur the line between it and its competitors. People aren't switching from Firefox to Chrome because they want Chrome for the most part, they're just switching because Firefox is becoming Chrome anyway, leaving no compelling reason to stick with it during the periods Firefox is especially unstable.
A political boycott of the browser is unfortunate and I'm not entirely sure it would be effective. At the same time, there's a feeling of powerlessness one has a result of this.
Moreover, there is an education problem within the community that's obvious from reading and engaging in the discussions on the subject. The same points come up over and over again:
- The equation of Eich's personal views with his public actions, as if all public actions have a shield if they're rooted somewhere in a personal view somewhere, no matter how slimy or despicable.
- The assumption that criticism of generic support for Prop. 8 is the same as criticism of specific campaigns for Prop. 8 that were objectively hate campaigns, with many refusing to believe any of the campaigns that were pro-Prop 8 contained hate propaganda.
- The failure to recognize that necessary and required qualifications for leadership include a requirement that mutual respect should exist between leader and lead.
- A failure to recognize the special role of a CEO within an organization
- An obsession with supporting those accused of homophobic actions because of some perceived disagreement with "Political Correctness", regardless of context.
I have a gut feeling that if Eich had donated $1,000 to a campaign calling for the re-enslavement of blacks, a campaign which used dog-whistles like "Welfare" et al, we'd still be having this conversation. Really. I do.
Eich is, objectively, not qualified for the Mozilla CEO job. I know some people say "Well, look at all his other qualities", and I'm sure they're right and great and all, but a blind man can know the rules of the road and the layout of New York City like the back of his hand but I still wouldn't want him driving a bus there. It is difficult to get good people some times, but you have to be patient. Good CEOs need to be good figureheads, they need to be respected inside and outside the organization. Eich isn't. Maybe one day he will be.
Greystone. Known CIA proxy.
"Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Bustros sparked an interreligious firestorm when he suggested that Israel was 'using Scripture' to continue its occupation of Palestinian territory. The Archbishop then questioned the biblical idea of a "promised land" set aside by a specific group of people.
"We Christians cannot speak of the promised land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people," Bustros continued. "This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people -- all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.""
I had sympathy for Eich, despite wanting him to exit the Mozilla CEO position. We're a community of people with no social graces and the idea that someone might end up having their career choices limited beause their lack of human interaction skills - or so I thought - seemed depressing and obvious. To recap, Eich's stone-age views on equality weren't what bothered me so much as his failure to adequately handle the consequences of $1,000 in donations to an actual hate campaign.
That evaporated today. Eich knew exactly what he had donated to before he made the donation. Here's the link. And here's the money quote:
This is the campaign to which Eich contributed. It's proper to note that his two donations of $500 each came on Oct. 25 and 28, days before the Nov. 4 vote and well after the style of the TV campaign was established.
Quoting Eich, defending himself in his "I'm not a bigot, you're a bigot, so there, I win" post of 2012: (My bolding)
Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: âoenoâ.
If deliberately, intentionally, funding a campaign that calls gays and gay marriage a danger to children isn't evidence of animosity against gays, what the hell is?
It had been my previous position that Eich had simply mishandled the situation. He'd obviously made some donations, but I'd assumed he was telling the truth in claiming there was no animosity or homophobia on his part. I reconciled the two by assuming he didn't know that the funds he donated would be used in the way they were. I criticized him for not distancing himself from the campaign he donated to after it became apparent it was a hate campaign, not simply a pro-Prop 8 campaign. I said this was evidence of poor judgement.
This appears to have been a mistake on my part. The truth appears to be uglier.
By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News
25 March 14
If the US State Department's Victoria Nuland had not said "Fuck the EU," few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington's man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style "destabilization campaign" that brought down Ukraine's monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
"Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what heâ(TM)s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator," laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. "It used to be the CIA doing these things," he tells Democracy Now. "I know that for a fact." Now it's the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy.
A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books â" "The Haze of Propaganda" and "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine." Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.
On Planet McGovern â" or my personal take on it â" realpolitik rules. The State Department controls the prime funding sources for non-military intervention, including the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which Washington created to fund covert and clandestine action after Ramparts magazine and others exposed how the CIA channeled money through private foundations, including the Ford Foundation. State also controls the far-better-funded Agency for International Development (USAID), along with a growing network of front groups, cut-outs, and private contractors. State coordinates with like-minded governments and their parallel institutions, mostly in Canada and Western Europe. State's "democracy bureaucracy" oversees nominally private but largely government funded groups like Freedom House. And through Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, State had Geoff Pyatt coordinate the coup in Kiev.
The CIA, NSA, and Pentagon likely provided their specialized services, while some of the private contractors exhibited shadowy skill sets. But if McGovern knows the score, as he should, diplomats ran the campaign to destabilize Ukraine and did the hands-on dirty work.
Harder for some people to grasp, Ambassador Pyatt and his team did not create the foreign policy, which was â" and is â" only minimally about overthrowing Ukraine's duly elected government to "promote democracy." Ever since Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office, Washington and its European allies have worked openly and covertly to extend NATO to the Russian border and Black Sea Fleet, provoking a badly wounded Russian bear. They have also worked to bring Ukraine and its Eastern European neighbors into the neoliberal economy of the West, isolating the Russians rather than trying to bring them into the fold. Except for sporadic resets, anti-Russian has become the new anti-Soviet, and "strategic containment" has been the wonky word for encircling Russia with our military and economic power.
Nor did neoconservatives create the policy, no matter how many progressive pundits blame them for it. NED provides cushy jobs for old social democrats born again as neocons. Pyatt's boss, Victoria Nuland, is the wife and fellow-traveler of historian Robert Kagan, one of the movement's leading lights. And neocons are currently beating the war drums against Russia, as much to scupper any agreements on Syria and Iran as to encourage more Pentagon contracts for their friends and financial backers. But, encircling Russia has never been just a neocon thing. The policy has bi-partisan and trans-Atlantic support, including the backing of America's old-school nationalists, Cold War liberals, Hillary hawks, and much of Obama's national security team.
No matter that the policy doesnâ(TM)t pass the giggle test. Extending NATO and Western economic institutions into all of a very divided Ukraine had less chance of working than did hopes in 2008 of bringing Georgia into NATO, which could have given the gung-ho Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilli the treaty right to drag us all into World War III. To me, that seemed like giving a ten-year-old the keys to the family Humvee.
Western provocations in Ukraine proved more immediately counterproductive. They gave Vladimir Putin the perfect opportunity for a pro-Russian putsch in Crimea, which he had certainly thought of before, but never as a priority. The provocations encouraged him to stand up as a true Russian nationalist, which will only make him more difficult to deal with. And they gave him cover to get away with that age-old tool of tyrants, a quickie plebiscite with an unnecessary return to Joseph Stalin's old dictum once popular in my homestate of Florida: "It's not the votes that count, but who counts the votes."
Small "d" democrats should shun such pretense. Still, most journalists and pollsters on the scene report that â" with the exception of the historic Tatar community â" the majority of Crimeans want to join the Russian Federation, where they seem likely to stay.
Tensions will also grow as the US-picked interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk â" our man "Yats" â" joins with the IMF to impose a Greek, Spanish, or Italian style austerity. Hard-pressed Ukranians will undoubtedly fight back, especially in the predominantly Russian-speaking east. According to Der Spiegel, a whopping three quarters of the people there do not support the coup or government. What a tar patch! A domestic conflict that could split Ukraine in two will inevitably become even further embroiled in the geo-strategic struggle between Russia and the West.
On Planet Snyder, as in most Western media, these realistic considerations make absolutely no difference. Ideology rules, masked as idealism. Fine sounding abstractions fill the air. Ukrainians are making their own history. They are acting with great courage. They are seeking the rule of law and their rightful place in "European Civilization." They are defending "sovereignty" and "territorial integrity." Russians remain vicious. Big bad Vlad is the new Hitler. He is seeking his own Eurasian empire (as opposed to NATO's), which could soon include parts of Moldova, Belarus, and Kazakhstan that the West needs like a "lok in kop," a hole in the head. And those watching in the West must abandon what Snyder calls "our slightly self-obsessed notions of how we control or don't control everything."
"It was a classic popular revolution," proclaims the professor. An undeniably popular uprising against "an unmistakably reactionary regime."
Writing in The Nation, Professor Stephen Cohen shreds Snyder's argument. My concern is more pointed. Popular uprisings deserve our support or opposition depending on who comes to control them and to what ends. As McGovern puts it, "The question is: Who took them over? Who spurred them? Who provoked them for their own particular strategic interests?"
Detailed evidence provides the answers. For all the courage of the Ukrainian minority who took to the barricades, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and his team spurred the protests in Kiev and exercised extensive â" though never complete â" control over them. Tactically, Pyatt and his fellow diplomats showed unexpected skill. Strategically, they should have stayed home.
Revolution on Demand
Arriving in the Ukrainian capital on August 3, Pyatt almost immediately authorized a grant for an online television outlet called Hromadske.TV, which would prove essential to building the Euromaidan street demonstrations against Yanukovych. The grant was only $43,737, with an additional $4,796 by November 13. Just enough to buy the modest equipment the project needed.
Many of Hromadske's journalists had worked in the past with American benefactors. Editor-in-chief Roman Skrypin was a frequent contributor to Washington's Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and the US-funded Ukrayinska Pravda. In 2004, he had helped create Channel 5 television, which played a major role in the Orange Revolution that the US and its European allies masterminded in 2004.
Skrypin had already gotten $10,560 from George Soros's International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), which came as a recommendation to Pyatt. Sometime between December and the following April, IRF would give Hromadske another $19,183.
Hromadske's biggest funding in that period came from the Embassy of the Netherlands, which gave a generous $95,168. As a departing US envoy to the Hague said in a secret cable that Wikileaks later made public, "Dutch pragmatism and our similar world-views make the Netherlands fertile ground for initiatives others in Europe might be reluctant, at least initially, to embrace."
For Pyatt, the payoff came on November 21, when President Yanukovych pulled back from an Association Agreement with the European Union. Within hours Hromadske.TV went online and one of its journalists set the spark that brought Yanukovych down.
"Enter a lonely, courageous Ukrainian rebel, a leading investigative journalist," writes Snyder. "A dark-skinned journalist who gets racially profiled by the regime. And a Muslim. And an Afghan. This is Mustafa Nayem, the man who started the revolution. Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine."
All credit to Nayem for his undeniable courage. But bad, bad history. Snyder fails to mention that Pyatt, Soros, and the Dutch had put Web TV at the uprising's disposal. Without their joint funding of Hromadske and its streaming video from the Euromaidan, the revolution might never have been televised and Yanukovych might have crushed the entire effort before it gained traction.
For better or for worse, popular uprisings have changed history long before radio, television, or the Internet. The new technologies only speed up the game. Pyatt and his team understood that and masterfully turned soft power and the exercise of free speech, press, and assembly into a televised revolution on demand, complete with an instant overdub in English. Soros then funded a Ukrainian Crisis Media Center "to inform the international community about events in Ukraine," and I'm still trying to track down who paid for Euromaidan PR, the website of the Official Public Relations Secretariat for the Headquarters of the National Resistance.
Orange Revolution II
Preparing the uprising started long before Pyatt arrived in country, and much of it revolved around a talented and multi-lingual Ukrainian named Oleh Rybachuk, who had played several key roles in the Orange Revolution of 2004. Strangely enough, he recently drew attention when Pando, Silicon Valley's online news site, attacked journalist Glenn Greenwald and the investor behind his new First Look Media, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Trading brickbats over journalistic integrity, both Pando and Greenwald missed the gist of the bigger story.
In 2004, Rybachuk headed the staff and political campaign of the US-backed presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko. As the generally pro-American Kyiv Post tells it, the shadowy Rybachuk was Yushchenko's "alter ego" and âoethe conduitâ to the State Security Service, which "was supplying the Yushchenko team with useful information about Yanukovych's actions." Rybachuk went on to serve under Yushchenko and Tymoshenko as deputy prime minister in charge of integrating Ukraine into NATO and the European Union. In line with US policy, he also pushed for privatization of Ukraine's remaining state-owned industries.
Despite US and Western European backing, the government proved disastrous, enabling its old rival Yanukovych to win the presidency in the 2010 election. Western monitors generally found the election "free and fair," but no matter. The Americans had already sowed the seeds either to win Yanukovych over or to throw him over, whichever way Washington and its allies decided to go. As early as October 2008, USAID funded one of its many private contractors â" a non-profit called Pact Inc. â" to run the "Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms" (UNITER). Active in Africa and Central Asia, Pact had worked in Ukraine since 2005 in campaigns against HIV/AIDS. Its new five-year project traded in bureaucratic buzzwords like civil society, democracy, and good governance, which on the public record State and USAID were spending many millions of dollars a year to promote in Ukraine.
Pact would build the base for either reform or regime change. Only this time the spin-masters would frame their efforts as independent of Ukraine's politicians and political parties, whom most Ukrainians correctly saw as hopelessly corrupt. The new hope was "to partner with civil society, young people, and international organizations" â" as Canada's prestigious Financial Post later paraphrased no less an authority than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
By 2009, Pact had rebranded the pliable Rybachuk as "a civil society activist," complete with his own NGO, Center UA (variously spelled Centre UA, Tsenter UA, or United Actions Center UA). Pact then helped Rybachuk use his new base to bring together as many as 60 local and national NGOs with activists and leaders of public opinion. This was New Citizen, a non-political "civic platform" that became a major political player. At the time, Pact and Soros's IRF were working in a joint effort to provide small grants to some 80 local NGOs. This continued the following year with additional money from the East Europe Foundation.
"Ukraine has been united by common disillusionment," Rybachuk explained to the Kyiv Post. "The country needs a more responsible citizenry to make the political elite more responsible."
Who could argue? Certainly not Rybachuk's Western backers. New Citizen consistently framed its democracy agenda as part of a greater integration within NATO, Europe, and the trans-Atlantic world. Rybachuk himself would head the "Civil Expert Council" associated with the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Committee.
Continuing to advise on "strategic planning," in May 2010 Pact encouraged New Citizen "to take Access to Public Information as the focus of their work for the next year." The coalition campaigned for a new Freedom of Information law, which passed. Pact then showed New Citizen how to use the law to boost itself as a major player, organize and train new activists, and work more closely with compliant journalists, all of which would seriously weaken the just-elected Yanukovych government. Part of their destabilization included otherwise praiseworthy efforts, none more so than the movement to "Stop Censorship."
"Censorship is re-emerging, and the opposition is not getting covered as much,â Rybachuk told the Kyiv Post in May 2010. He was now "a media expert" as well as civic activist. âoeThere are some similarities to what Vladimir Putin did in Russia when he started his seizure of power by first muzzling criticism in the media.â
One of Rybachuk's main allies in "Stop Censorship" was the journalist Sergii Leshchenko, who had long worked with Mustafa Nayem at Ukrayinska Pravda, the online newsletter that NED publicly took credit for supporting. NED gave Leshchenko its Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellowship, while New Citizen spread his brilliant exposÃ©s of Yanukovych's shameless corruption, focusing primarily on his luxurious mansion at Mezhyhirya. Rybachuk's Center UA also produced a documentary film featuring Mustafa Nayem daring to ask Yanukovych about Mezhyhirya at a press conference. Nothing turned Ukrainians â" or the world â" more against Yanukovych than the concerted exposure of his massive corruption. This was realpolitik at its most sophisticated, since the US and its allies funded few, if any, similar campaigns against the many Ukrainian kleptocrats who favored Western policy.
Under the watchful eye of Pact, Rybachuk's New Citizen developed a project to identify the promises of Ukrainian politicians and monitor their implementation. They called it a "Powermeter" (Vladometer), an idea they took from the American website "Obamameter." Funding came from the US Embassy, through its Media Development Fund, which falls under the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Other money came from the Internews Network, which receives its funding from the State Department, USAID, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and a wide variety of other government agencies, international organizations, and private donors. Still other money came from Soros's IRF.
New Citizen and its constituent organizations then brought together 150 NGOs from over 35 cities, along with activists and journalists like Sergii Leschchenko, to create yet another campaign in 2011. They called it the Chesno Movement, from the Ukrainian word for "honestly. " Its logo was a garlic bulb, a traditional disinfectant widely believed to ward off evil. The movement's purpose was "to monitor the political integrity of the parliamentary candidates running in the 2012 elections."
This was a mammoth project with the most sophisticated sociology. As expected, the Chesno monitoring found few honest politicians. But it succeeded in raising the issue of public integrity to new heights in a country of traditionally low standards and in building political interest in new areas of the country and among the young. The legislative elections themselves proved grim, with President Yanukovych's Party of the Regions taking control of parliament.
What then of all New Citizen's activism, monitoring, campaigning, movement-building, and support for selective investigative journalism? Where was all this heading? Rybachuk answered the question in May 2012, several months before the election.
"The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a massive peaceful protest that worked," he told Canada's Financial Post. "We want to do that again and we think we will.â
He Who Pays the Piper
Rybachuk had good reason for his revolutionary optimism. His Western donors were upping the ante. Pact Inc. commissioned a financial audit for the Chesno campaign, covering from October 2011 to December 2012. It showed that donors gave Rybachuk's Center UA and six associated groups some $800,000 for Chesno. PACT, which regularly got its money from USAID, contributed the lion's share, $632,813, though part of that came from the Omidyar Network, a foundation set up by Pierre and his wife.
In a March 12th press release, the network tried to explain its contributions to Rybachuk's Center UA, New Citizen, and the Chesno Movement. These included a two-year grant of $335,000, announced in September 2011, and another $769,000, committed in July 2013. Some of the money went to expand Rybachuk's technology platforms, as New Citizen explained.
"New Citizen provides Ukrainians with an online platform to cooperatively advocate for social change. On the site, users can collectively lobby state officials to release of public information, participate in video-advocacy campaigns, and contribute to a diverse set of community initiatives," they wrote. "As a hub of social justice advocates in Kiev, the organization hopes to define the nationâ(TM)s 'New Citizen' through digital media."
Omidyar's recent press release listed several other donors, including the USAID-funded Pact, the Swiss and British embassies, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Soros's International Renaissance Foundation. The Chesno Movement also received money from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Figures for fiscal year 2013 are more difficult to track. Washington's foreignassistance.gov shows USAID paying PACT in Ukraine over $7 million under the general category of "Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance." The data does not indicate what part of this went to Center UA, New Citizen, or any of their projects.
What should we make of all this funding? Some of it looks like private philanthropy, as back in the days when the CIA channeled its money through foundations. Was the Soros and Omidyar money truly private or government money camouflaged to look private? That has to remain an open question. But, with Rybachuk's campaigns, it makes little difference. USAID and other government funding dominated. The US Embassy, through Pact, coordinated most of what Rybachuk did. And, to my knowledge, neither Soros nor Omidyar ever broke from the State Department's central direction.
Strategic Containment, OK?
When Ambassador Pyatt arrived in Kiev, he inherited Pact and its Rybachuk network well on its way to a second Orange Revolution, but only if they thought they needed it to win integration into Europe. That was always the big issue for the State Department and the Ukrainian movement they built, far more telling than censorship, corruption, democracy, or good governance. As late as November 14, Rybachuk saw no reason to take to the streets, fully expecting Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union at a November 28-29 summit in Vilnius. On November 21, Yanukovych pulled back, which Rybachuk saw as a betrayal of government promises. That is what "brought people to the streets," he told Kyiv Post. "It needed to come to this."
Euromaidan would become a "massive watchdog," putting pressure on the government to sign the association and free trade deal with the EU, he said. "We'll be watching what the Ukrainian government does, and making sure it does what it has to do."
That is where the State Departmentâ(TM)s second Orange Revolution started. In my next article, I'll show where it went from there and why.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."
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