Russia vs Ukraine: The Infographic

Curious how Ukraine, which with its population of 44 million and size of 603,628 square km makes it the largest single country entirely in Europe, stacks up against Russia? The following infographic should answer some questions regarding the (im)balance of power.

Caption Contest: Ukraine On The Line

As the West Wing tweeted earlier, the White House released this photo of president Obama on the phone with Russian president Putin. Because there is always a professional photographer handy when the fate of a nation is on the line, so to speak.

The Greatest Propaganda Coup Of Our Time?

There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.  What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.

Obama And Putin Held Phone Conversation

"On the initiative of the US, a phone call took place between Vladimir Putin and the President of the US, Barack Obama. Under discussion were the various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine. In response to the concern expressed by Barack Obama regarding the possible use of Russian armed forces in the Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew attention attention to the provocative, criminal acts of the ultranationalist elements, in effect encouraged by the present authorities in Kiev. The Russian president stressed the existence of real threats to the lives and well-being of Russian citizens and numerous compatriots located in the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin underscored that should the violence spread further to the eastern regions of the Ukraine and the Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population living there."

Ukraine's Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert

In a stunning 24 hours, it now appears that Russia and the Ukraine are one formal announcement away from a state of war. From moments ago, as reported by Bloomberg:

  • UKRAINE ACTING PRESIDENT PUTS ALL FORCES ON FULL COMBAT ALERT

And this, as reported by the NYT, virtually assures the escalation to a hot war, as some provocation, somewhere will certainly take place: "a Ukrainian military official in Crimea said Ukrainian soldiers had been told to “open fire” if they came under attack by Russia troops or others."

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013

A few days ago, we reported that, seemingly out of the blue, the city of Rome was on the verge of a "Detroit-style bankruptcy." " And just as expected, yesterday Rome was bailed out. What is certain is that this year will not be the last one Rome is bailed out either. In fact, it will continue getting rescued for years to come because contrary to the propaganda, the Italian economy continues to get worse with every passing month, yields on Italian bonds notwithstanding. Ansa reports that in January the Italian unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9%, and that "reducing Italy's "shocking" rate of unemployment must be the government's highest priority, Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday." How, by pretending everything is ok, kicking the Roman can and hoping things improve by bailing out anyone that is insolvent? Putting 2013 in perspective, this is the year when according to national statistical agency Istat, some 478,000 jobs were lost in Italy in 2013, the worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, with an average annual jobless rate of 12.2% last year.

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Russian Flags Hoisted Across East Ukraine

Even as Russia has officially deployed its military to the Ukraine, its unofficial involvement in The Crimean was well known for days. A much more notable development would be if protesters in the pro-Russian eastern part of the country were to seize control of the second largest city in the Ukraine, Kharkiv, located just miles from the Russian border as this would quickly give Russia a foothold into the east of the nation with the tactical escalation abilities such a takeover would entail. Which is why the following clip of pro-Russian protesters storming the city administration in Kharkiv is of importance: should Ukraine lose control of the city, or is forced to use troops against the people, it would be just the pretext Russia needs to "defend" citizens in this part of the country, the same argument it used for military intervention in the Crimean.

Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The Gas

All the dominoes are tumbling now. Moments after the Russian upper house of parliament approved the decision to use Russian troops in the Ukraine as expected, Ukraine's acting president called an emergency meeting of security chiefs according to his spokeswoman. Oleksander Turchinov summoned his Security Council after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought parliamentary approval to deploy Russian forces in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. At this point the biggest and perhaps final wildcard is whether NATO does or does not get involved. If it does, and if Russia does not back off - which it has clearly telegraphed it won't - futures may be looking at a limit down open on Sunday.

Putin To Use Military In Ukraine

Current US foreign policy in a nutshell: Barack Obama tells Vladimir Putin "there will be costs" if Russia invades Ukraine. What does Putin do? He invades Ukraine. Only this time it's official: AP reports that the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked parliament for permission to use the country's military in Ukraine. Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine's strategic region of Crimea. RIA further adds, the military use is virtually assured as it was leaders of Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament who first called Saturday on President Vladimir Putin to stabilize the situation in Crimea and protect Russian citizens.  The leader of Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, said the use of military force in the former Soviet nation could be justified after the opposition swept into power in Kiev last weekend.

How Facebook Exploits Underage Girls In Its Quest For Ad Revenue

Let’s move on to the third piece of the puzzle. The routine exploitation of the weakness and most gullible members of society, teenage girls. The crazy thing here is not that some random selection of underage girls are being led to click on ads that direct them to adult video cam sites and dangerous dietary supplements, but that they represent the primary demographic clicking on these ads. This story from the Wall Street Journal is sure to make your blood boil no matter who you are, but particularly if you are a parent with young children.

Fortress Loses Millions On Bitcoin Investment

Readers will recall that back in October, when the only way for Bitcoin seemed up, none other than the head of sophisticated hedge fund/private equity megafund Fortress Group, Michael Novograts, recommended buying Bitcoin:  "I have a nice little Bitcoin position,” Novogratz said. "Enough that I’m smiling that it doubled... Put a little money in Bitcoin...Come back in a few years and it’s going to be worth a lot." Or, you can come back in a few months and now that the momentum euphoria is over and done with, watch it be worth far less.

New Spy Technology To Spawn Oil Revolution

The future of oil exploration lies in new technology--from massive data-processing supercomputers to 4D seismic to early-phase airborne spy technology that can pinpoint prospective reservoirs. Oil and gas is getting bigger, deeper, faster and more efficient, with new technology chipping away at “peak oil” concerns.  Hydraulic fracturing has caught mainstream attention, other high-tech developments in exploration and discovery have kept this ball rolling. Oil majors are second only to the US Defense Department in terms of the use of supercomputing systems, which find sweet spots for drilling based on analog geology. These supercomputing systems analyze vast amounts of seismic imaging data collected by geologists using sound waves.

Officers Of 76th Russian Shock Troops Division Operating In Ukraine

Everyone is curious who those unmarked men in unforms that have been seen in youtube clips from the Crimea are. Courtesy of Russian blogger Lev Shlosberg who writes for the newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya, we now have an answer: according to him they are the officers of the 76th Chernihov (Pskov) Storm Troops Division and have slowly dispersed across key choke points in Ukraine.

Obama To Deliver Statement On Ukraine At 4:45 PM - Live Stream

Well that was quick:

  • OBAMA SAYS ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’ BY RUSSIAN MILITARY MOVEMENTS
  • OBAMA SAYS "THERE WILL BE COSTS" FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN UKRAINE
  • OBAMA SAYS "UKRAINE PEOPLE DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DETERMINE THEIR OWN FUTURE"
  • OBAMA SAYS HE COMMENDS RESTRAINT OF UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT
  • OBAMA SAYS BIDEN HAS SPOKEN WITH PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE
  • OBAMA SAYS U.S. SUPPORTS UKRANIAN SOVERIGNTY

And... that's it: no statement on what if anything the US will do if Russia keeps its presence there and continues piling troops and equipment.