The NYT’s Grim Depiction of Russian Life

As a top propaganda outlet pushing the New Cold War, The New York Times paints life in Russia in the darkest hues, but this one-sided depiction misses the reality of the increasingly vibrant country that Gilbert Doctorow sees.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Our five-week stay at our home in the Russian countryside was approaching its conclusion when I got an email from a friend in France asking me to comment on an article in The New York Times entitled “Russia’s Villages, and Their Way of Life, Are ‘Melting Away’.”

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

The article surely met the expectations of its editors by painting a grim picture of decline and fall of the Russian countryside in line with what the author sees as very unfavorable demographic trends in the Russian Federation as a whole. The fact that his own statistics do not justify the generalization (a net population loss of a few thousand deaths over live births in 2016 for a population of 146 million) does not get in the way of the paint-by-color canvas.  Nor does the author explain why what he has observed in a village off the beaten track in Northwest Russia, in precisely the still poor region of Pskov, gives an accurate account of country life across the vast territory of Russia, the world’s largest nation-state.

As the author notes, the main source of income from the land of the town he visited was – in the past – linen. That cultivation turned unprofitable and was discontinued. Consequently, the able-bodied part of the population has been looking for employment and making their lives elsewhere (a process internal migration common all over the world, including the United States).

The author fails to mention that linen production is not a major agricultural indicator in Russia today, whereas many other crops are booming. Linen goes into the lovely traditional handicraft tablecloths and napkins sold to tourists at riverboat landings, and that is the extent of demand.

I could respond to the overriding portrait of countryside decay in the Times article by drawing on my observations a year ago from the deck of one of those riverboats navigating the canals and rivers connecting St. Petersburg and Moscow. From that deck and from the experience of walking around the little picturesque towns where we made stops, I understand that growing domestic Russian tourism has pumped financial resources into historic centers, like Uglich. They are coming alive, with infrastructure improvements and reviving trade.

But tourist sites are not going to be representative of the country at large, either. So I will instead use two sources of information that I am confident have greater relevance to the issue at hand. The first, and surely the most politically significant, comes from a couple of family friends who for nearly 50 years have spent summers at a parcel of land deep in the hinterland, 280 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg, close to regional industrial center of Pikalyovo, (Leningradskaya Oblast) with its train station along the line linking the northern capital to Vologda.

My Own Eyes

The second source is my own experience in and around our property in Orlino, a hamlet numbering 300 inhabitants in the Gatchina district, also Leningradskaya Oblast, but 80 kilometers due south of St. Petersburg.

A busy tourist scene in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Robert Parry)

The homesteads around Pikalyovo were always hard to get to, with very poor local roads. There was no commercial infrastructure, so the bold and determined vacationers coming here had to bring most provisions for their stay with them. They were rewarded for their efforts by the produce grown in their gardens and by foraging for berries and highly desirable boletes and other wild mushrooms in the surrounding forests.

When the Soviet Union collapsed and the Russian economy followed suit in the 1990s, the Pikalyovo region suffered the kind of economic misery and population loss that the Times describes today in the Pskov region. Our friends saw that normal folks left, and the concentration of drunkards and thieves rose proportionately. The theft of anything of value in common space became acute when scrap metal scavengers pulled up kilometers of electrical cables for their copper content, leaving swathes of the district temporarily without electricity.

Pikalyovo came to the attention of national news during the 2008-2009 financial crisis when its three main industrial enterprises shut down, causing widespread misery. The best known of these enterprises, a clay processing plant owned by the oligarch Oleg Derispaska’s conglomerate Basic Element, caused a major scandal when state television carried reports on how the factory had not paid its employees for months while the boss was seeking and obtaining government assistance with repayment and rescheduling of his foreign loans. In the spring of 2009, there were protest demonstrations in Pikalyovo that resulted in both Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin personally entering the dispute to pressure Deripaska to do the right thing.

The economic woes of the regional economic hub did nothing to improve the living conditions in nearby hamlets like the one where our friends have their parcel. Our friends started cutting back on their visits and missed a year or two altogether. All of this would seem to confirm the storyline of the Times reporter, but the latest word from Volodya and Tamara overturns the storyline completely.

A Revival

A few weeks ago, our friends decided to go back to the property to prepare it for sale. They had had enough, they thought. However, once there, they discovered things were definitely looking up. A newly completed 35 kilometer highway makes their settlement much more accessible.

In May 2016, Russian marchers honoring family members who fought in World War II. (Photo from RT)

But, more importantly, the neighbors have changed – for the better. A retired colonel moved in a couple of years ago and started raising pigs, cows and chickens, offering meat, eggs and dairy products for sale, thereby ending our friends’ need for brought-in provisions. His example attracted others. New and dynamic settlers are putting into practice the “return to the land” trend that is an undeniable feature of current Russian social life. Our friends have decided not to sell, and to spend more time on their property.

In legal terms, the parcel of land my wife owns in the hamlet of Orlino (population 300) is categorized as a “subsistence farm.” The nature of the farming to be done there even features in the plan attached to the cadastral registry: the 700 square meters where the house was built facing the “Central Street” can be used for fruit trees and vegetable garden; the back field of another 700 square meters is allocated for potatoes, cabbage and similar crops.

In the vernacular, however, together with the two-story planed log house we built here five years ago, the property is considered a “dacha,” a summer residence. Nearly one in two urban Russian households has a dacha.

Young people think of dachas as weekend getaway locations to hold a barbecue for friends and family. If they have a feeling for Russian traditions, it is where they take their Saturday banya, or sauna in dedicated outhouses heated by wood burning stoves and then socialize over a beer. Older folks and pensioners find this frivolous. In their view, the dacha is not so much a place to idle time away as it is a place of honest toil, working the land and communing with nature. And even some of the younger generation buys into the concept of growing their own organic foods on their land, thus getting along without industrially farmed supermarket produce, whether domestic or imported.

One hundred years ago, Orlino was populated mostly by wealthy merchants whose businesses were in the extended district. They lived here year-round in substantial houses, some of which have survived to this day. To the back of the houses, what were essentially barns were built on, and there they kept some small livestock. No one in Orlino today keeps chickens, pigs, goats, not to mention cows.  But they do till the land with great enthusiasm and look after their fruit trees and red berry shrubs.

The notion of subsistence farming suggests border-line poverty. But Orlino was never poor, and its residents are not indigent today. Oldsters whose pensions are inadequate are supported by their children or nephews/nieces’ families living in the local towns, in the district capital of Gatchina 50 kilometers away, or even in St. Petersburg. In return, these relatives visit in the summer to spend some days of vacation and take advantage of the large lake on the edge of the hamlet, which is lovely for swimming or boating when the weather is cooperative.

Good Use of Land

The notion of subsistence farming also suggests tough practicality. But making good use of the land does not exclude aesthetic pleasures, and every parcel of land in the hamlet is decorated by flower beds showing great ingenuity and effort.

Some of the estimated 12 million Russians who took part in Immortal Regiment parades across the country over three days in May 2016. (RT photo)

Similarly, in the last year the Orlino farmers have all gone the way of their brethren across Russia and invested in greenhouses made of pre-formed polycarbonate walls, most commonly resembling hoops in profile. Here they put in tomatoes, cucumbers and other highly prized vegetables for their dining table which do not do well in the short growing season of the North, and in the very adverse climatic conditions which were exemplary this year in terms of cool temperatures and incessant rains. Given the expense of these greenhouses, the investment is not so much economically justified as it is a point of pride in self-sufficiency and green-thumb skills.

Electricity is the only utility that spells dependency for Orlino residents. Otherwise, each household has its own well, its own septic tank system, its own gas cylinder for the cooking stove and its own supply of birch logs for a wood-burning stove that is the mainstay of heating.

Many households have cars. The most recent arrivals, being by far the most prosperous, often have four-wheel-drive utility vehicles. This is a valuable benefit given the deplorable condition of many local roads. But then there is a significant minority who depend on the local bus system to get around. It is cheap, runs to schedule and gets you from point A to point B without fuss. The hamlet has a couple of grocery stores, so that staples are always available within easy walking distance.

An Economic Hub

For luxuries, there is the town of Siversk 10 kilometers away. Numbering perhaps 10,000 people, it is the local economic hub, with several factories, including a manufacturer of good quality upholstered furniture.

Russians taking part in an Immortal Regiment march on May 9, 2017.

Siversk has a train station with hourly connections to Gatchina and St. Petersburg. It also has several supermarkets run by major national retail chains, so that you will find exactly the same product assortment as in St. Petersburg or Moscow. And there are a number of high quality specialty food stores and at least one bakery which is indistinguishable from what you might find in Vienna or Frankfurt

In the not so distant past, even urban Russians had not much interest in salads or in fish. Chicken legs or sausages or pork cutlets for the barbecue were what folks shopped for as main courses.  Now even our Siversk stores offer pre-packaged mixed lettuce salads or rucola coming from greenhouse complexes in Greater St. Petersburg.

And the leading fish store offers not only salmon steaks from Scandinavian producers, but several varieties of delicacy fish from Europe’s largest fresh water lake, situated 50 kilometers to the east of St. Petersburg. Still more impressive is the assortment of fish coming down each day from Murmansk: excellent flounder and superb gorbusha, a wild salmon usually considered to be a Pacific Ocean variety but also available in the waters north and west of Siberia. For those with deeper pockets, the fish vendor in little Siversk occasionally offers a fresh sterlet, the magnificent 1 kilogram-size representative of the sturgeon family that is farmed on the Volga in Astrakhan, far to the South.

I offer these observations from shopping to make the following point about the Russian country life as I see it: a lively economy with a population growing ever more sophisticated and aspiring to the good life.

The Lower Strata

When I shared these thoughts with my friend in France, he shot back: what about the lower strata of society? How are they faring?

My ready response draws on my five-year acquaintance with our “average Joe” neighbor in Orlino, Sergei. When we settled here five years ago, he drilled our artesian well, installed the electric pump and all sanitary plumbing in our house. Now he winterizes the house each year and keeps an eye on the property when we are away, for compensation to be sure, but more out of friendship, because he has other, more lucrative sources of income as a subcontractor or day worker on local construction projects. There is a lot of work of this kind now that Orlino’s fallow fields are slowly being converted into housing estates.

Sergei is a master of several building trades. He also drives a tractor. He is mechanically gifted.

Sergei is about 55, the father of a grown son and daughter, the grandfather of two. When we first met, he was living in an apartment in a multi-unit wooden house dating back 60 or 70 years that was neither comfortable nor attractive. In the past three years he has realized a long time dream and built for himself a two-story cement block house, now clad in siding. The interior space is perhaps 250 square meters. When you pass it from the road, in a row of several other very substantial recent houses, you would place it as solidly upper-middle class. And next to his house Sergei has put up a very fine and large greenhouse. Beyond that is an extensive field of splendid potatoes and vegetables.

To be sure, the second story of Sergei’s house still needs work and he and his wife live now only on the ground floor. Moreover, the investment of all spare cash into the house has scuttled other needs. When Sergei’s ancient Toyota pick-up finally rusted into irreparable condition, he found himself without motorized transport. Until further notice, until he can put together the down payment for a new vehicle, he gets around town on a bicycle.

Sergei is no fool. He gripes about local corruption and terrible roads. But on the whole he is satisfied with his lot and optimistic about the future. Any belt-tightening that has been made necessary by Western sanctions he takes in his stride. He is resolutely patriotic.

I realize full well that the observations taken from my personal experience of the Russian countryside and from the experience of close friends is anecdotal and so not statistically significant. But then neither are the observations of The New York Times reporter.

Russia is a vast land and you can pretty much find what you are looking for there. Nonetheless, the gross economic statistics published by Rosstat are upbeat and fully contradict the notion of a country in decline, including its rural component.

Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. His forthcoming book is Does the United States Have a Future?

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124 comments for “The NYT’s Grim Depiction of Russian Life

  1. August 7, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Rental housing in the US is so unaffordable for many Americans that people are renting rooms and/or going to homeless shelters, every US city and some towns have people standing by thoroughfares panhandling, people are sleeping in cars, and NYT chooses to focus on the Russian way of life?

    That’s the sole intent, to deflect attention away from the sorry state of the USA. The NYT writers live in their bubble for cushy salaries. The US crash is coming, and it was coming before this Russia nonsense. The blame is not on Trump, but on a system that began failing its citizens with Reagan and consummated the failure through Obama. As Malcolm X said, “The chickens have come home to roost.”

    • john wilson
      August 7, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Yes Jessica, and things regarding housing are pretty desperate over here in the UK as well. In London they have now started a form of ‘ethnic cleansing of the poor who have no homes and can’t afford to rent anything. These people are now being dispatched to other towns many miles away where housing rental is cheaper (but not much). The few poor people remaining in London who are needed as servants and serfs, are packed into hideous tower blocks like the Grenfell Tower which went of fire recently killing many families. They are packed into these terrible places like animals with no concern for safety, hygiene or amenities. The Yankee media (and we stupid British) just love to run down the Russians in any way they can. I recall they used to scoff and ridicule the Russian Mere space station, but as I once pointed out to some idiot who was deriding the Mere space station, that the Mere space station had been up there for ten years whilst the Yanks had nothing up there at all !

      • george Archers
        August 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

        Let’s not forget, actual USA moon landing back in the 60;s was fake.Play golf on the moon surface and Americans bought it whole.Even 911 attacks were self imposed to attack 7 middle east countries.Americans are dumb!

        • Pierre Anonymot
          August 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

          Americans certainly are below the intellectual poverty level, but the rest of your suggestions are below that. Fantasy and conspiracy are 2 different things.

      • Yuri
        August 9, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        Doesn’t it make you wonder, John, that in 1969, 50 years ago, they landed on the Moon, while today they can’t even get to outer space without russians. That’s, of course, if one believes it….

    • Typingperson
      August 7, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Bingo!!

    • Nancy
      August 8, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Another motivation for this type of article is the continued demonization of Russia under Putin. As you noted, the U.S. has more than enough misery for the hypocritical New York Times to be concerned about.

    • David A Hart
      August 9, 2017 at 10:31 am

      I agree, and I would urge everyone to read and distribute this article by Andrew Bacevich, who traces the history of our malcontented-ness and lays out a program worthy of study and discussion, based on the simple question “What’s the point of being an American?” He continues,

      “In my view, the point of being an American is to participate in creating a society that strikes a balance between wants and needs, that exists in harmony with nature and the rest of humankind, and that is rooted in an agreed upon conception of the common good.” He then invites Americans to begin a discussion about this premise, and states 10 actions that he thinks would help us in our endeavor to answer this question, acknowledging that his readers may not totally agree with his ideas, but urging us to use them as a basis for honest debate. This is definitely worth reading.

      https://www.thenation.com/article/trump-is-not-the-problem/

    • barney
      August 10, 2017 at 3:36 am

      The NYT covers America’s ills pervasively. I know I read it 365 days a year. When you bash the NYT you are buying into the reactionary alt right idiotic world view.

      • Sal
        August 12, 2017 at 12:17 am

        The New York Slimes( aka New York Times) made enough mistakes than you to knock the socaled alt-right. They have been the purveyor of fake news often. Now they twist anything that Pres Trump does that’s good, and amplify on some of his mistakes.
        It’a already of public record that the NYT have been instrumental in CIA concocted false flags to justify a war whether justifiable of not. But to blame the “alt-right,” then you’re getting into a conspiracy theory unsubstantiated, instead of fact, much less a conspiracy fact.

        Thank you Gilbert Doctorow for you observations. Way too often some broad brush paint everything to fit their narrative. As we know, that kind of tactic never goes well. NEIL MacFARQUHAR was probably triggered by some negativity about something Russian politically, but connected to something in his own country to use to tie into someone he doesn’t like. Now he probably feels good about himself after he’s gotten a small audience of lazy ignorant snowflakes agreeing with him.

  2. Realist
    August 7, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Just finished reading the same article at Russia Insider. Russia is a huge country with half the U.S. population. Life in these villages sounds a lot like life on the Western frontier when America was still largely unsettled (except by the natives from whom we stole the land). The lifestyle described in these little hamlets sounds like it would appeal to many Americans who have fled the cities, looking for paradise in the Rocky Mts, the high plains or the desert southwest. The preppers would love the natural environs, the remoteness, the challenge to work the land using your own hands and opportunity to leave your mark. Living in remote Russia seems not quite as austere as life in the Alaskan bush, which is the subject of several current TV programs in America, and obviously attractive to many individualistic settlers. There is a much better probability of surviving nuclear Armageddon when there aren’t any big cities, military bases or industrial centers nearby, if that is a concern in the face of current American global military aggression. If you know how, as most of these Russians described in the piece seem to, you should be able to maintain a subsistence living off the land for years. You can go back to the cities when you retire, hopefully in peace, or help to rebuild them if America succeeds in creating the war it seems to want. Hell of a way to judge a lifestyle but Washington forcibly puts these ideas in your mind because of its bellicose ravings. I wish these people well. May they enjoy their tranquil existence and hopefully not have it disrupted by more American-generated chaos and destruction.

    • Realist
      August 7, 2017 at 8:35 am

      This piece has caused me to recollect a series of articles written a year or two ago by Dmitri Orlov on surviving the collapse of Western civilisation when it comes. As I recall, he opined, giving lots of well-considered reasons, that your best chance of surviving and regrouping to reconstruct our society would be in settings like Russian Siberia, Canada and Alaska. He has always recommended learning survival skills needed to subsist on what you can grow, catch, preserve and construct yourself from resources at hand. How many Americans, even living out in the ‘burbs, could grow their own vegetables and provide for their own meat and clean water when the infrastructure collapses. Most of us have lost those skills, even to use on camping trips. There’ll be no freeze dried meals that cook up fast after conveniently adding water that you draw from a pump at the park or brought with you in plastic bottles. In the article at least, it sounds like Russians have got the edge in preserving these skills.

      • Typingperson
        August 8, 2017 at 12:32 am

        I’m all for post-nuclear survival, but how about in a less cold climate? I don’t want to move to Siberia, Alaska or Canada. Brrr. Can I survive dipshit USA holocaust in the Carribean? ???

        Also, how much time have I got? Should I cash in my IRA and live large in the Bahamas for the next few years before USA nukes us all? ???

        Praying for McCain to drop dead soon from his brain tumor. God willing.

        Very angry and depressed to be a USA-Ian right now. Country I once loved.

        • Realist
          August 8, 2017 at 1:53 am

          Buck up, TP, global warming will solve the climate problem for you in the Northern latitudes.

          It may have been Dmitri Orlov or perhaps the Saker–both Russians–who picked these key survival centers, maybe because they are familiar with coping in such a setting. Like you, I would not be keen on colonising the sub-arctic.

          True, there are many “out of the way” locations in sub-Saharan Africa and equatorial South America, but there are also many native peoples in each place with whom you would have to compete (or cooperate, if you could). If you’re a Yank in a future world mostly obliterated by Yankee hegemons you might not feel welcome everywhere. They say the Bush family invested extensively in land in Paraguay for when the SHTF. Probably most of their friends in the aristocracy did as well. Lots of actual real Nazis there and in Argentina who fled after WWII. It’s out of the way but developed, like New Zealand, another favorite investment location for the rich and well connected. Costa Rica is nice but maybe too close to the radioactive fallout sure to envelope the United States and north temperate latitudes. The Bezos’s and Suckerbergs have invested in entire Pacific islands. Plus they have their ginormous yachts to get there. You will not be allowed in unless you are on the guest list.

          • bob
            August 8, 2017 at 2:06 am

            Actually, the Saker is a former Swiss military officer.

          • Realist
            August 8, 2017 at 2:36 am

            Of Russian and Dutch parentage, who self-identifies as Russian, though he has lived in Florida for more than 20 years.

            His name is Andrei Raevsky.

    • DFC
      August 7, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      This NYT article is PURE ETHNOCENTRISM produced by elite, EFFETE authors living in the DEEP BUBBLE.

      I am an expat (former east coast urban dweller) that lives in an extremely rural and poor region of Latin America. When visitors and friends arrive from from US cities, they don’t last a week here. Having to use wood to cook and heat, wool sweaters to keep warm, hauling water to bathe, limited electricity and connectivity, with all the day’s activities set around the setting and rising sun, is a complete horror to them. Yet, the village is happy and the people are great. All neighbors know one another and regularly visit and help out. The quality of life here is way more healthy than most burned out, drug addled towns in the United States. These NYT authors would never have survived in Colonial America, yet benefit from everything those colonists built. Life here is similar to but a vast improvement over how humans have lived for thousands of years. The “horrific conditions” they describe in Russia are very similar to what we experience on a daily basis and I can tell you most people living here would never trade what they have now for an apartment in New York City. LOL!

      • backwardsevolution
        August 7, 2017 at 4:54 pm

        DFC – a criticism that Henry David Thoreau used to get was that he “didn’t want to work”. But, as you point out, you DO work, and very hard. It’s just a different kind of work. Good luck to you, DFC.

        • DFC
          August 7, 2017 at 9:19 pm

          Hi Backwards. I would recommend that everyone get an opportunity to live out of the United States for a period of time, as a wake up call and truly understand the way the majority of people live in the world. We have most of what the United States has, but it is always one or two steps removed. For instance if you want chicken, french fries and salad for dinner, the day will start by finding the chicken, digging the potatoes and harvesting the lettuce. Eggs don’t naturally come in cartons either! lol.

          Probably the most interesting thing I have noticed, is how minimal the Immigration system is in the United States. Here we are called ALIENS, have to prove to the government that we can FINANCIALLY SUPPORT OURSELVES (not a chance of anything free from the government), and if you want to become a citizen, you must demonstrate to the government why you will be an ASSET TO THE COUNTRY. Furthermore, if you COMMIT A CRIME (not infractions) you are DEPORTED. OVERSTAYING A VISA means HUGE FINES and also the possibility of having to leave. We don’t have the RIGHT TO VOTE either. An ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSING will pretty much end your prospects of residency in the country. If you want a driver’s licence, the EXAM IS SPANISH, and there is a SPANISH LANGUAGE MINIMAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENT that all drivers must demonstrate. We also must prove yearly that we are PAYING TAXES and stay in REGULAR CONTACT with immigration officials. After a period that averages 10 YEARS, in which you DEMONSTRATE EXEMPLARY BEHAVIOR, you are eligible to apply for CITIZENSHIP.

          I suppose all of these requirements would be considered “discriminatory” or “racist” in the United States. If I made that charge here, about their system, I would be laughed at.

          • backwardsevolution
            August 7, 2017 at 9:41 pm

            DFC – “For instance if you want chicken, french fries and salad for dinner, the day will start by finding the chicken, digging the potatoes and harvesting the lettuce. Eggs don’t naturally come in cartons either! lol.”

            Oh, that really puts it into perspective. IOW, you have to work, and work hard. Well, good for you! I’ll bet you’re in great shape and healthy. You are so right that none of us have any idea about living off the land.

            And what you say about the immigration system is bang on! You mean you actually have to prove that you won’t be a burden, that you’re actually going to contribute to the country? What? Such a novel idea! Of course that’s the way it should be, and it should be a long period of time before you are able to apply for citizenship. That means you take it seriously, that it means something to you.

            Everyone should try getting into Thailand or almost all of Asia. No can do. You can’t even buy land in most of those countries (only condos). Only citizens (people with a stake in the country) can own land. Again, that is as it should be. These countries don’t sell out.

            We are absolutely ridiculous here. It really is laughable. Thank you for your wonderful post.

            Cheers, DFC.

          • qualtrough
            August 8, 2017 at 1:54 am

            Ditto for Thailand and most countries in Asia that I am aware. Few nations tolerate the scoffing of immigration laws that is a feature of present day USA.

          • Realist
            August 8, 2017 at 2:31 am

            You mean to say a key element in the plot of the classic movie “Dark Passage” starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall would be nigh impossible? That is, a man on the run, accused of multiple murders in the United States (though innocent) could not simply travel unimpeded through several Latin American countries all the way to the Peruvian coast whereupon he meets up with his lover, also known to the authorities for abetting his escape from the law? You mean to say that resourceful Americans with enough dinero cannot simply choose whatever faraway exotic land they wish to make their personal sanctuary? You’re telling me that Hollywood has been lying all along. You can’t just buy an over-the-counter ticket minutes before flight time and flit away to a whole new life? Well, another American dream balloon popped!

            [Sarcasm: I actually know you can’t]

  3. noz
    August 7, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Thank you for this article, it was a nice read. And definitely more positive than all the bad news I read everyday :)

  4. August 7, 2017 at 8:31 am

    A gently declining population is the mark of a modern and socially advanced country.

    Education leads to smaller families and is the step toward an advanced nation with a gently declining population.

    My impression is a large enough portion of Americans are anti science and anti education to put the US in decline.

    • August 7, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Garrett, …Your point is well taken. I believe education is the key to a sustainable civilization. We can readily observe that Russia and Eastern Europe have curtailed the influx of mass migration whereas their Western counterparts have profited from it in times of prosperity, only to cruelly reverse that stance and exploit it as an issue when the economic bubble bursts. Neoliberal ideology readily maintains the myth that a third world population explosion can be sustained through scientific advances in mega-agriculture. It is a formula for overpopulation,famine and disease. Education is the key but, unfortunately the perpetrators are too busy profiteering to learn that they and their families could also be the victims of their greed.
      https://crivellistreetchronicle.blogspot.com/2016/09/pandoras-legacy-despair-hope.html

  5. Joe Tedesky
    August 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I swear publications such as the NYT purposely try, and use their brilliant reporters, to show to the world just how ignorant and stupid they are. Why doesn’t the Times compare Russia of today to the Russia of the Yeltsin years? Like in the Yeltsin days when America’s Wall Streeters helped steal everything there was to steal from the Russian people.

    The bigger picture for me, is how all of a sudden our American media has decided to print, and broadcast, only what the feel they can spin to some high negativity status of the Russians with never a word about anything good about the people, or life in the Kremlin. Putin is a thug, but yet in his speeches I always hear a leader who wants to partner with the U.S., but this he does to no avail. In fact, if all of your reading and research, has brought you to believe otherwise than what the anti-Russian American media reports as fact, then you are a ‘Putin apologist’. Why in America we even have a name for such traitorous talk. So screw anything you learned from a book, or any other publication you read somewhere where Russians are good people, or their leader is a honest broker, because that’s just not being American enough, for the likes of the Zio-Neocon order who now runs this new way of living the American dream.

    I read an article which states that inside this Russia-Iran-N Korea sanctions bill, is language aimed at shutting down various media outlets. First RT and Sputnik, then the Duran and Russia Insider, then publications such as consortiumnews and others such as Paul Craig Roberts, are supposedly on the chopping block. I bring this up hoping that possibly one of you who read what I am writing here might know more about this, and may share your knowledge of what is inside this unwanted and stupid sanctions bill.

    • fudmier
      August 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Tedesky’s contest: “fake news vs bogus propaganda!

      Highly competitive oil and gas situation differentiates RUSSIAN owned oil&Gas business from American:Israeli owned/controlled oil&gas businesses. Private use of government designed to force EU consumers to purchase higher priced oil and gas. A private game of oil and gas being played on a government owned ball field

      Problem: Russia “pipeline transport costs PTCs” are relatively cheaper than LNG (liquefied natural gas) by ship transport costs. Businesses at Sabine Pass, Houston, Tx for example transport LNG products to EU and of course the US oil fracking businesses c/n profitably compete if prices are not at least $40 a barrel).

      Russia’s Nord II pipeline..a game changer <=war crowd expectation failed (intercept Russian oil and gas pipeline transport into Europe at Ukraine): Russia circumvents Ukraine, constructs pipeline; delivers cheap gas&oil by pipeline directly into Germany..

      Sanctions seek to prevent Russian Oil&Gas customers from buying cheaper Russian Gas. US sanctions are not well received in Europe, b/c EU is getting Russian gas & oil at $18/ equivalent barrel and US sanctions crowd demand Europeans pay $40/ equivalent barrel; to be accomplished by outlawing cheaper Russian oil and gas (The numbers are my assessment). To pay for these subsidies nearly every domestic social support budget in America will be cut to the bone and nearly every military associated budget will be increased (war party GUNS OR BUTTER for Americans).

      New forms of federal subsidies: economic sanctions, confiscatory and exclusionary banking, war, anti-Russian media distributed propaganda, and regime change provide USA oil and gas profiteers support This is how I see it.. anyone see if differently.

      • irina
        August 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm

        Where are all the people so outraged over the US leaving the Paris Accords,
        when it comes to the US shipping our fracked natural gas and coal halfway
        around the world, to areas with much closer access to energy resources ?

        Why aren’t they similarly outraged at such an environmentally expensive
        (among other things) situation ?

        • August 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm

          Irina,…good question! I believe Donald Trump has become a convenient lightning rod to deflect their animosity from the neoliberal/neoconservative cabal that stands to profit from deteriorating U.S./Russia relations.

        • backwardsevolution
          August 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm

          irina – great point! It’s the same one I make when I write about globalism. “It’s good for you,” they say. Yeah, how is shipping goods halfway around the world good for the environment?

          The U.S. companies are using precious energy to get to the natural gas and coal, and then they’re using more energy to get it to Europe. In what world is this good practice? This energy should be used where it’s found – locally – and sparingly at that!

          Good post, irina.

          • Joe Average
            August 7, 2017 at 8:14 pm

            backwardsevolution,

            your comment reminds me of one of my most recent mistakes.

            “Yeah, how is shipping goods halfway around the world good for the environment?”

            Usually when it comes to buying fruit* or vegetables, I’m buying those that are produced in Germany. If available I’ll rather buy locally produced ones than others that had been grown in the far north, etc. About a month ago I needed some onions. Whilst in the super market I saw a net (1 kg) for a reasonable price. Below the price tag on the shelf a description said “German product”. The label on the net also indicated that the onions had been grown not far away by a German farmer. So, what could go wrong buying these onions? Well, when I arrived at home and had a second (closer) look at the label on the packaging I discovered some fine print that said: produced in New Zealand. The German farmer had imported them, packaged them in a way that it tricked people into believing they were home grown and delivered them to the market.

            * I’m referring to fruit and vegetables that can grown locally. On rare occasions when I’m buying something that’s been grown outside of the season I’ll try to pick the product from a farmer located nearest to where I am (rather Spain or Netherlands than South America).

          • Realist
            August 7, 2017 at 9:16 pm

            No kidding! They really can’t come out that far ahead on the energy balance sheet when they must expend energy to drill wells to obtain precious water from local aquifers, to pump the water at high pressure down drill holes, to synthesize the fracking chemicals that accompany the wasted water, to store the radioactive waste that comes up with the slag in the used fracking water, to liquefy the recovered methane, to ship it half way round the world on special cargo ships, and to construct new infrastructure so the specially-built transport vessels can dock and deliver their loads. Then it must be stored at high pressure, potentially dangerous and energy consuming. Burning LNG to generate electricity still releases CO2 to the atmosphere. How much energy was utilised and how much CO2 was released in all the steps itemised above, unless it all came from solar, wind or nuclear (and even those require an investment of energy and money if not carbon)? It’s crazy. Paranoid countries like Poland would be much better off financially, and so would the earth’s environment, burning locally mined coal, of which they have in great abundance in Silesia.

          • backwardsevolution
            August 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm

            Joe Average – I’ve had that happen to me too. You think you’re buying local apples, and then you look closer and see they’re from South Africa! I read somewhere that the average piece of fruit travels some 1,500 miles to its destination. Can you believe that?

            And the other day some bloggers were bragging about how they’re buying a tube of toothpaste from Amazon, and it’s delivered to their doorstep. What? Then they realize they’re out of something else, and another order is put into Amazon. Now, I’m sure most stuff is shipped out from a local warehouse, but still, it appears that people are just abusing it. Think of all the extra energy that’s just wasted.

            So Walmart put all of the Mom and Pop small operations out of business, and now Amazon is putting pressure on Walmart because people are too lazy to go to the store. When is this going to end? I mean, even Henry VIII, if he came back in a time capsule, would not really believe his eyes at how we’re living.

            Cheers, Joe Average.

          • Joe Average
            August 11, 2017 at 2:24 pm

            backwardsevolution,

            whatever new trend arises in the US finds its way to Germany as well – some delays.

            Several years ago Walmart tried to enter the German market, but had to withdraw again. We’ve got our own Mega-Malls that helped crush local Mom and Pop stores. Before Amazon managed to enter the German market with food and consumable article delivery some local chain (REWE) already had some refrigerated trucks roaming the streets. The only difference between both concepts is that Amazon uses postal services, whilst the local chain employed its own trucks. Especially in cities and suburban areas that’s an absurdity. In many of those areas most people can get (far more than) basic items within walking distance. I doubt that Amazon or any other comparable service can gain traction and operate with profits. Most people I’ve been talking to want to see, feel and smell the groceries they’re buying. Even with packaged goods many people want to decide for themselves which package to buy – leaving damaged boxes in the shelves.

            Maybe half a year ago I had read an article on ZH (I guess Bloomberg and Forbes ran similar reports) that researchers estimate that a quarter to a third of all Malls (Walmart, K-Mart, …) will close in the near future. Probably some similar trends will make their way over here as well. The really small Mom and Pop stores that got replaced by the bigger ones are see a revival in some areas of inner cities. Once those stores were called Tante-Emma-Laden (which literally translates into Aunt Emma Store), now people jokingly call them Onkel-Ali-Laden (literally translated: Uncle Ali Store), because many of the owners are of Turkish roots. I suspect that in (remote) rural areas the amount of mobile food stores (in trucks) will surge and new companies will appear.

            Aside from Henry VII probably most people of the past will shake their heads in disbelief about the condition of our societies.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Your detail fudmier helps, I believe, to support my comment…right?

        The problem with this Russia-Iran-N Korea sanctions bill, is it offends to a severe degree our U.S. relationship with our EU/NATO allies. The sanctions bill, also hurts American businesses who may have had an opportunity to do some business with Russia, and with the uncertain future plight of the working class American, that this type of avoidance to do business with specific countries doesn’t help to employ the many Americans who could use some full time work.

        Iran wants to buy 100 Boeing passenger planes, which estimates range somewhere as high as 100,000 American jobs which could be a result of Boeing being able to accept the Iranian purchase order, but due to these sanctions the order Iran has will no doubt go to the Russians instead.

        You see Russia has taken their military knowledge, and incorporated it into their passenger plane manufacturing, and come up with the MS21 airliner. I would not be surprised that this cooperative arrange between Russia’s military and civilian aerodynamic engineers, helps their defense budget out enough to keep their operating cost down in the defense department, as also this conjuncture will provide profit for the airliner manufacturer, and in the end of this collaboration it helps to defray the defense industries budget, as well.

        The final curtain may fall on America, as it continues to reign supreme, but all the while pushes the very people we need to succeed away from America’s better interest, and where this worldly community who is learning how to live outside of the American dream, will succeed without the U.S. as it’s leader. This may not be all that bad, considering how the U.S. has proven time and time again, how it can’t be trusted with such highly responsible authority.

        • Abz
          August 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm

          Interesting the thing about the airlines.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 7, 2017 at 5:26 pm

        fudmier – “Anyone see it differently?” Nope, you have it right. These sanctions were all about sidelining Russia in order to promote U.S. oil/gas corporations, most of whom will hide their profits in offshore tax havens.

        Ordinary Americans get to pay for the debt incurred by the increased military spending needed to pull this off, yet they won’t see the benefits from fair taxation of these corporations.

        They are hoping these sanctions will cripple and bankrupt Russia, bring it to its knees, like a siege. Hard to keep up with military advancements when you’re trying to feed your people, which would allow the U.S. to get ahead militarily. If they can bring Russia down, that would get rid of Putin and allow multinational corporations free rein to loot Russia (just like they did in the 90’s).

        • Apollonius
          August 8, 2017 at 2:09 pm

          Sanctions will not cripple and bankrupt Russia, they will make it stronger. It will diversify russian economy, make it more resilient. After crisis of 90s, that will be just a little bump on the road for Russia. She is full of talented and intelligent people, they will adapt to almost anything. What is very important too, Russia today is not politically divided, maybe for the first time since 18th century. In order to develop more, Russia needs only one thing : peace and stability. Will she have it? Nobody knows.

      • MaDarby
        August 7, 2017 at 8:35 pm

        Yah, I’ll mostly go along. It is Imperial power acting imperially.

        What I don’t like much if practically every commentator left right or whatever keep saying “New Cold War” but this is quite different. During the cold war the US was not buildoing new naval bases on Russia’s borders as they are in Ukraine now. The clod war didn’t have missal batteries in Poland and across the Baltics. Things are more immediate than during the cold war it’s more dangerous than that now.

      • Typingperson
        August 8, 2017 at 1:35 am

        War is the ultimate US govt subsidy, courtesy of us taxpayers, for the US oil n gas biz + Israel. Economic sanctions = economic war.

    • Realist
      August 7, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      This was the “beauty part” of the article, Joe, which was run on several blogs. I read it on Zero Hedge and Russia Insider. Long made short, if the agencies want to, they can interpret our reading these blog articles as seditious acts and charge you with transacting with “the enemy,” with dire consequences for you. McCain is proud of playing a major role in writing this bill, just as I’m sure he revels in the Patriot Act which was prepared long before 9-11 ever happened as its pretext.

      “…if the Russian government and RT are opposed to sanctions and you operate a website that also takes a line in opposition to Russia sanctions are you not doing the work of Russian intelligence? Are you not seeking to influence your readers in a manner that Russian intelligence would want? Are you not “engaging in transactions” even over the airwaves?

      And after this second wave you can be sure there will be a push to move on other alternative media that has nothing to do with Russia but that opposes US interventionist foreign policy: ZeroHedge, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul Institute, ConsortiumNews, etc.

      Crazy, you say? Don’t forget: this war against us already started last year when the Washington Post ran a front page article accusing all of the above of being Russian agents!

      What would be next? Do you read any of these alternative news sites? Do you pass along articles that oppose US sanctions policy toward Russia? You are engaging in transactions. You will be subject to “sanctions” as described in the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which is now the law of the land.”

      • Realist
        August 7, 2017 at 5:35 pm

        Wait, it gets worse. From Sputnik news today, congressman directly threatens SOS Tillerson to act against “Russian propaganda” or else:

        “Posing an ultimatum to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US lawmakers are hinting that Congress will create a specific strategy to combat “Russian propaganda campaigns” if the State Department fails to do so.
        “I urge you to come up with a strategy and work with Congress to implement it at once,” New York Representative Eliot Engel, ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Tillerson. “Otherwise, the House and Senate will look for legislative alternatives to direct the administration to treat the threats of Russia and [Daesh] with the seriousness they deserve.”

        Sent on Friday but revealed to the public Monday, Engel’s letter was prompted by reports that Tillerson was uneasy about using the nearly $80 million Congress has allocated to fight alleged misinformation from Moscow, instead opting to make amends.
        Currently, $60 million earmarked for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center is at the Pentagon and another $19.8 million has been left untouched at the State Department, Politico reports. The Global Engagement Center is a unit that replaced the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication in 2016, and is “charged with coordinating US counterterrorism messaging to foreign audiences,” according to its site. Though Tillerson’s team has indicated they want to avoid spending money wastefully, the $60 million will be reabsorbed on September 30 if it isn’t transferred, officials told Politico.
        “It seems again that this Administration just isn’t getting the message about Russia, so let me put it plainly: Russia is not America’s friend,” Engel stressed. “President Putin attacked American democracy.”

        Amusing, now “the threat of Russia” is equated with “Daesh.” How insane can these people get? I swear, somebody put LSD in the Washington water supply.

        Congressman Engel, YOU are not America’s friend. In fact, YOU and your fellow thugs in the U.S. Congress are a threat to all humankind. Absolutely anything to bring down Trump is justified, right? Incinerate the world… but we nailed Trump!

        • backwardsevolution
          August 7, 2017 at 6:45 pm

          Eliot Engel – “Engel was born in the Bronx, the son of Sylvia (née Bleend) and Philip Engel, an ironworker. His grandparents, of Ukrainian Jewish background, immigrated from the Russian Empire. […] Engel is a supporter of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Wiki

          He’s not the only one doing this, but it just makes you wonder who these people are really acting on behalf of.

          I think Washington, D.C. should be the capital of Israel. (sarc)

        • DFC
          August 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm

          “Hi Realist” to add to your “it gets worse” – I would like to remind everyone what drove Japan to begin World War II:

          How Oil led to Pearl Harbor

          Few people realize that it was oil — the shortage of oil — that precipitated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

          In the summer of 1941, before leaving for Placentia Bay, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had ordered a freeze on Japanese assets. That measure required the Japanese to seek and obtain licenses to export and pay for each shipment of goods from the United States, including oil.

          This move was most distressing to the Japanese because they were dependent on the United States for most of their crude oil and refined petroleum products. However, Roosevelt did not want to trigger a war with Japan. His intention was to keep the oil flowing by continuing to grant licenses.

          Roosevelt had a noose around Japan’s neck, but he chose not to tighten it. He was not ready to cut off its oil lifeline for fear that such a move would be regarded as tantamount to an act of war.

          That summer, while Roosevelt, his trusted adviser Harry Hopkins and U.S. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles were attending the shipboard conference off Newfoundland and Secretary of State Cordell Hull was on vacation at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, the authority to grant licenses to export and pay for oil and other goods was in the hands of a three-person interagency committee.
          It was dominated by Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson, whom one historian described as the “quintessential opportunist of U.S. foreign policy in 1941.”

          Acheson favored a “bullet-proof freeze” on oil shipments to Japan, claiming it would not provoke war because “no rational Japanese could believe that an attack on us could result in anything but disaster for his country.”

          With breathtaking confidence in his own judgment, and ignoring the objections of others in the State Department, Acheson refused to grant licenses to Japan to pay for goods in dollars. That effectively ended Japan’s ability to ship oil and all other goods from the United States.

          Acheson’s actions cut off all American trade with Japan. When Roosevelt returned, he decided not to overturn the “state of affairs” initiated by Acheson, apparently because he feared he would otherwise be regarded as an appeaser.

          Once Roosevelt perpetuated Acheson’s trade embargo, the planners in Japan’s imperial military headquarters knew that oil to fuel their fleet, as well as rubber, rice and other vital reserves, would soon run out.

          Read the rest here: http://www.salon.com/2013/12/05/oil_led_to_pearl_harbor/

          That Bill that Congress passed, and that Trump was powerless to stop, will essentially begin strangling Russia economically, as happened to Japan. At first Russia will seek other allies, like China, Germany, North Korea, Iran, etc, but if things worsen, I would remind everyone how this ended up last time, with NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 8, 2017 at 12:32 am

            That was great.

          • Realist
            August 8, 2017 at 1:11 am

            And feckless Donald Trump will get the blame, if there are any survivors to cast blame, rather than Barack Obama for STARTING the entire fiasco with Russia in the Maidan, and Hillary Clinton for compounding it after she sought retribution and exoneration following her election loss. So much tied into the egos of less than a handful of talking apes.

          • irina
            August 8, 2017 at 1:26 am

            Fortunately, unlike Japan, Russia has a LOT of natural resources,
            and (when motivated) a naturally resourceful population base.

        • Dave P.
          August 8, 2017 at 4:42 pm

          Realist – Congressman Eliot Engel warning Secretary of State Tillerson to get his act together on Russia or else. Congress working on to shut down RT, Sputnik News, and other sites like this afterwards. The Ruling Power Structure is very afraid that the news in these outlets is going to cause some kind of incurable viral infection in the simple minds of the Americans! I bet, after all this hysteria about Russia-gate perpetrated by The Ruling Establishment, probably more than ninety five percent people in the country do not know what these outfits like RT, Sputnik News, and this site are. In my own home, my wife does not know anything about it. PBS, MSNBC, and CNN are her sources of information.

          Fifty years ago, I could not have imagined even in my dreams that the Country will come to the State it is in now – complete intellectual, moral, and spiritual death of the Country.

        • Gregory Herr
          August 8, 2017 at 5:56 pm

          Someone needs to pull Engels up for air long enough to explain that the threat of Daesh has been taken seriously….by Russia. And to good effect. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good bed wetting there Engels…”propaganda” is soooo scary.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 7, 2017 at 5:39 pm

        IOW, you’re going down, Joe! “You’re here to see Joe Tedesky? Yes, here he is, No. 543210. He’s in the political prisoner’s wing. Oooooh, I see here he’s not doing too well. Apparently he’s fallen multiple times, oddly only incurring bruising to the head area. He’s been put in solitary confinement for his own safety. Let me ring up and see if he’s still comatose.”

        We’re playing with fire, Joe.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 7, 2017 at 10:30 pm

          I’ll bang on the wall 3 times when I have something important to say. I’ll bang on the wall 2 times if I have nothing to say. 1 wall bang means the guards are coming…. what did John McCain do?

          Actually in the end a humorous comment, may just be all we have left to recall our common brotherly affiliation. Another way of looking at it, is when, or if our freedoms of speech and thought are finally destroyed down to nothing, then it’s time to leave this experiment in democracy, because the mythology has ended. In fact, my time served in the military, was my wanting to help keep the freedoms I thought we always had. 911 took away our freedoms to invest and travel in privacy, and at the rate this is all going ‘the year of Fake News & RussiaGate’ will be the events remembered to our leading up to losing all the other rights, we all thought we once had.

          Thanks Realist & backwardsevolution, you gave me a lot to think about, and a ton of reason to go underground, but see you here same time same place….. Joe

    • exiled off mainstreet
      August 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      The fact that, as appears to be widely documented, they are even thinking of shutting down outlets which don’t follow their controlled view is only “legal” if courts no longer follow the rule of law or constitutional government. At that point, it has fully degenerated to the establishment of some form of fascism or other totalitarianism, rendering their claim of supporting “democracy” ridiculous.

  6. Michael Kenny
    August 7, 2017 at 10:24 am

    What’s far more interesting than the claims made either in the NYT article or by Mr Doctorow, none of which any of us can verify, is Mr Doctorow’s defensive reaction. At first glance, it looks like “he says versus he says”, but in fact, the two versions don’t actually differ all that much, although I’m sceptical of Mr Doctorow’s implied claim that Pskov is the only poor region in Russia. Both authors point to rural decline and Mr Doctorow points to the slow transformation of villages into holiday homes for outsiders (not least himself!). One assumes the retired colonel is raising pigs because his military pension is so pitifully small that he can’t live on it. He also points to living conditions that would be regarded as extraordinarily primitive by the standards of Western Europe, even in the remotest villages: no piped water, no piped gas, no central heating. And that in a region he presents as prosperous by the standards of rural Russia. As for the cars, I would guess that most are elderly, second-hand German vehicles, as solid as tanks but certainly not signs of prosperity as we understand that term in the rest of Europe. The buses are probably elderly German minibuses. Frankly, I am not convinced. If nothing else, Mr Doctorow’s total and unflinching support for Putin and all his works in article after article makes him an unreliable witness. I find it hard to believe that the NYT reporter blundered into the one and only poor district in what is otherwise a land of milk and honey.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 7, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Michael, with all do respect, I have found that it is us, us Americans who are living in an American made bubble. All to often, in fact almost always, when I was serving my duty in the US Navy, I found things in these foreign lands we visited to be all together different than what our common thoughts were about these foreign people. The foreigners who were suppose to hate us often almost always were the nicest people God could have put on this earth. The living conditions in these foreign lands, were no less substandard than you would find in Chicago or Reading Pa.. After all was said and done, I came to the belief that we Americans have been conditioned, and conditioned only to believe that we are the one and only exceptional and indispensable human beings on earth, and that’s just not true.

      Michael it’s always interesting to read your comments. You sound like the typical kool-aid drinker. Which brings me to wonder how you could be so isolated in your traveling through this life you are living. Doesn’t it make you at least a little bit curious to want to know why everyone in the world now hates the USA?

      • mike k
        August 7, 2017 at 11:48 am

        Joe, our friend is not just drinking the kool-aid – he has turned into it! Beware of drinking in his ideas, they are all kool-aid.

        • hyperbola
          August 7, 2017 at 3:19 pm

          Are you sure? My only direct contacts are with Russian tourists in Europe – here I would back up Joe Tedesky’s comments about friendly people. Here is an assessment from Britain.

          Deconstructing Russophobia | OffGuardian
          https://off-guardian.org/2016/06/16/deconstructing-russophobia/

          Immagine that Vladimir Putin were not a murderous autocrat and kleptocrat who has spent his fourteen years in power living up to his KGB past and dragging Russia ever back towards Communist autocracy, illiberalism, and expansionism. Imagine that instead he were one of the greatest leaders that Russia has had, whose policies have helped produce a massive rise in living standards and life expectancy, recuperation of national pride, and enforcement of the rule of law, who has tackled kleptocrats and gangsters wisely and well, whose foreign policy has on balance been realistic, diplomatic, and conducive to peace, who has presided over a country of which the human rights record is considerably better than that of the United States and in which civil rights are improving, and who richly deserves the steady support of 65% – currently at a Ukraine-related high of 83% – of the population that he possesses. It is my understanding that the reality is closer to the second scenario than the first – and I may note that I say this as someone with no ethnic, financial, professional or political ties to Russia whatsoever. It follows that I am not a Russian expert – but nor am I, on the other hand, parti pris. I am a friendly, distanced observer of the country…..

          • backwardsevolution
            August 7, 2017 at 11:29 pm

            hyperbola – great link. Thanks for posting.

          • Dave P.
            August 8, 2017 at 5:17 pm

            hyperbola – An excellent article. Thanks for the posting.

    • irina
      August 7, 2017 at 11:16 am

      You missed quite a few points about ‘living conditions’. There is absolutely nothing ‘primitive’ about having a well instead of
      ‘piped water’. Anything which can be provided onsite diminishes dependency on larger systems. Ditto with ‘piped gas’ — did
      you miss the sentence about wood heat ? (The portable propane tanks are used for cookstoves). This is very similar to how
      we live, in the ‘suburbs’ of the second largest city in Alaska (Fairbanks).

      The most important point of this article is the emphasis by residents on growing and putting up their own food. That is very
      different from the United States. If ‘prosperity’ means living in an apartment in a big urban center and being totally dependent
      on many different supply (and waste removal) streams, then many of us would much rather be far less ‘prosperous’ and more
      self-sufficient. This does require extended skill sets such as that of Sergei, who sounds a great deal like my husband. These
      are not, generally speaking, skills learned in a modern educational setting but rather through mentoring. Not very many young
      people in the United States have access to this sort of ‘can-do’ role model anymore, but I’m guessing quite a few Russians do.

      • August 7, 2017 at 4:22 pm

        Subsistent farming and barter economies are often cash poor but may be wealthy.

    • Gilbert Doctorow
      August 7, 2017 at 11:30 am

      you are doing an awful lot of guessing. don’t guess. don’t take my word for it. get yourself on an airplane and see for yourself if the issue is worth your reading and sending in comments
      .
      the notion that life is primitive because you don’t have city water or city sewage is plain silly. our indoor Danfoss water pump drawing on our artesian well gives us better pressure in our shower in the dacha than I have in Brussels, or than you probably have where you live. we have a dishwasher, we have a washing machine. we have satellite television (free, by the way, with Russian satellites carrying Euronews and the BBC plus France 24). and while we don’t have Netflix, we can buy the latest CD sets and watch them in the dacha.

      I doubt you can afford the latest models 4×4 that drive past our house.

      as I say, go see for yourself. in the meantime think twice about offering unfounded disparaging remarks based on hunches..

      • Skip Scott
        August 7, 2017 at 4:27 pm

        Thank you Mr. Doctorow. Michael Kenny is our resident troll and he never responds to rebuttals. Don’t feel bad, he makes disparaging remarks on every article this site offers. As a retired merchant seaman, I have seen a bit of the world. Most people are good people, and the bad ones come in all ethnic groups, races, and religions. Your article shines a light on the orchestrated propaganda that the NYT and other MSM outlets spew every day. It is a shame we can’t find you a wider audience. One of our commenters (Lin Cleveland) says we have been sequestered into a sound-proof free speech zone.

        • backwardsevolution
          August 7, 2017 at 9:12 pm

          Skip – “Michael Kenny is our resident troll and he never responds to rebuttals.” And his only concern is Ukraine, and he hates Russia.

      • August 7, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        Thank You. Mr. Doctorow. So many Americans are so brainwashed
        that they just cannot be educated about the Real World.
        They are victims of Mass Lobotomy.

    • August 7, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Go see for yourself. There’s too much yakity-yak and too much thinking about it. Go see for yourself. It is a beautiful country, and even more beautiful than the place are the people.

      Just posted: http://www.siberianbridges.org/2017/08/06/my-summer-in-chita-12-at-the-dacha/

      You are welcome to view all the posts from my summer (soon over) in the eastern Siberian city of Chita. This geographically remote capital has its own problems–with remoteness, with top down governance, with brain drain to Moscow/St Petersburg, with climate change, with an economy based in large part on Chinese purchase of natural resources (an imbalance), and trade rather than manufacturing, though mineral extraction–its strongest economic point–is increasing, and the region’s national important gold mine is reopened. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the situation here in Chita is a real improvement on the final days of the Soviet era and the horrible days of the Yeltsin era. You don’t have to be a fan of Putin–and not one I met on this visit liked his administration’s domestic policies, though they were all glad for his foreign ones–to acknowledge the better state of infrastructure in general, the sharp reduction in drinking, the improvement in the mortality rate, the sharp increase in having babies, the construction of personal homes, improvements on apartments and dachas, even the huge number of a wide range of restaurants (requiring disposable income) that simply weren’t there 15 years ago–all signs of a society improving, not going down the tubes.

      (We’ve got to get over ourselves and learn how to make friends. It has been my 28 year experience going there that my friends in Siberia are just waiting for the wonderful opportunity to see us.)

      • backwardsevolution
        August 7, 2017 at 11:46 pm

        Thomas Dickinson – thanks for that lovely post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  7. mike k
    August 7, 2017 at 10:24 am

    The simple life close to nature is not as grim as our ‘you must have this or that to be happy” culture would have us believe. I live in the forest, crap in a bucket (it goes on the compost pile). We get our water off the roof, and store it in a cistern. We burn wood for heat, and grow some of our own food. We have rural electric electricity, but in the not infrequent power outs, we get by quite well with oil lamps and candles. When you get used to living more simply, it becomes quite normal and acceptable, and in many ways enjoyable. All the social pressures to have this and that become irrelevant.

    • Gilbert Doctorow
      August 7, 2017 at 11:34 am

      bravo!
      we also have an outhouse, just in case. as you say, rural electricity supply can be tricky, as for example when there are electrical storms.
      normal people take pleasure in what they can do for themselves…

      • exiled off mainstreet
        August 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        Thank you for an excellent article. I hope you decided not to sell.

      • Zachary Smith
        August 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm

        I’ve had to use outhouses, and I don’t care for them a bit. Badly ventilated, or ventilated all too well, depending on the season and other ‘conditions’. Insects were always a problem – especially stinging ones. So if I ever need one, I’m at least going to build a modern model.

        Waterless Solar Composting Toilet System

        h**p://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/composting-toilet

        If forced to use one of the old-style for a while, I’d locate a heavy duty open front toilet seat to install over the hole. The advantage of these is that in freezing weather a person can slip a heavy wool sock over each ‘arm’ of the thing and have a definite improvement of comfort. I’d also have a candle lantern, a box of matches, and TP stored in a metal cookie can. Nobody can really appreciate toilet paper unless they’ve previously tried the color pages of a Sears catalog.

        EDIT: I don’t have a bird, but for the first time I’ve thought of a good use for the NYT and WP propaganda sheets.

  8. Lois Gagnon
    August 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

    According to the US corporate press, living off the land as humans have done successfully for eons is backward and primitive. Only corporate culture is considered “normal” when of course they have it exactly backwards, but that is the mind trick psychopaths use to manipulate their victims. Reality is always turned upside down.

  9. mike k
    August 7, 2017 at 11:51 am

    The American Dream is to have more of everything. The very thought of having less of anything frightens them.

    • mike k
      August 7, 2017 at 11:54 am

      What will we do when we have acquired everything, spent all the resources of the Earth, trashed them, and are left with nothing?

  10. delia ruhe
    August 7, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Perhaps Mr. MacFarquhar of NYT wrote a depressing article about Russia in the hope of taking his mind off the haunting images of America’s sacrifice zones.

  11. Steve
    August 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    One thing you will never see in the NY Times Rag are articles about the inner cities or the murder of so many by police. Or the enormous problem indigenous peoples face every day while the NY Times fat cat owners wallow in luxury. The hopelessness of drug addiction both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. The huge number of permanently unemployed in the US now pushing up to 3 or 4 million or more while the government lies about unemployment.
    To the NY Times and its backers and cronies TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR instead publishing trash which if not wholly untrue certainly colors everything with the same NY Times brush of misery. And what about China that has lifted hundreds of millions from abject poverty to a much higher standard of living something never done before in human history.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    August 7, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Et tu Bill?

    Unreal. Over at Commondreams there is a lengthy prominently featured piece by the otherwise very good Bill Moyers that purports to document all of Trump’s “ties to Russia!”

    Does Bill not realize he’s playing directly into the hands of the warmongering militarist-Zio imperialists in Washington? Does Bill not realize that circulating Russophobic drivel is leading the world to nuclear brinksmanship?

    Off the top of my head I’ve come up with a quick little checklist of otherwise decent liberal-minded commentators and intellectuals who have been championing Russia-gate and fomenting anti-Moscow hysteria over about the last year. Thus far I’ve come up with:

    Moyers
    R. Maddow (probably the worst offender)
    Michael Moore
    Barbara Lee
    Mother Jones mag.
    John Lewis
    and a few others I’m forgetting at the moment

    • August 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Drew, what do you mean by describing Moyers as “otherwise very good”
      and the other Liberal moronic Witch-Hunters as “otherwise very decent”??? Rachel Maddow is a psychopath, Michael Moore in his own words “I Love Hillary”, is a total FOOL, and all of these Liberals are
      disgusting, vomit-inducing handmaidens of FASCISM.

      • Drew Hunkins
        August 7, 2017 at 6:20 pm

        I understand your frustration, but the fact remains that they’ve advocated terrific positions on domestic inequality and class politics on the home front. But yes, regarding the Russophobia, they’re totally aligned with the disgraceful John McCain, Lyndsey Graham and the other fascist filth.

        • backwardsevolution
          August 7, 2017 at 7:24 pm

          Drew – I’ve found that anybody who lies, consistently and blatantly, can never be trusted, not even when their lying is beneficial to you. Because at some point they will show their true colors and you (not you specifically) will be lied about and tossed aside.

          Most of these people have a hidden agenda which we’ve been lucky to have caught a glimpse of lately. The Internet is exposing them in all their glory.

          The U.S. is owned by a foreign country, the one country who refuses to register as a foreign agent. The media and the politicians are owned by them, along with Hollywood, academia, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, a good deal of the judiciary.

          • Drew Hunkins
            August 8, 2017 at 12:47 am

            Valid points all, backwards. It’s all so dispiriting at times.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 8, 2017 at 12:59 am

          What is most distressing, is the watching of the select forces who are hard at work to subvert the current sitting president, and take complete control of foreign, and domestic policies. Forget Trump, Trump could be anybody sitting in the Oval Office. The point is, is that between the media and every Democrate to certain Republicans like McCain & Graham, and let’s not forget the spy agencies are at this moment in time taking control of the American government. I think, unless Trump got a hidden ace up his sleeve, I think that the Shadow Forces having out gunned and maneuvered the Russia-Gate narrative enough into the overall picture so much so, as these efforts have now marginalized Trump’s power down to a considerably small size…but, hey it’s the Donald, but also ask yourself ‘what if it were another sitting president?’

    • Dave P.
      August 7, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      It seems like that Bill Moyers , Michael Moore and others like them either hate Trump so much or have been co-opted by The Establishment in this dirty business of Russia-Gate and other schemes to bring down Trump. Also, I think that they have lived near and benefited from The Establishment in many ways, for so long now, that they have become like them.

      • Drew Hunkins
        August 8, 2017 at 12:48 am

        That very well could be.

    • Drew Hunkins
      August 8, 2017 at 12:52 am

      I forgot Robert Reich. He’s never one to let a chance to Kremlin bash slip through his mitts.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 8, 2017 at 3:13 am

        Drew – and Elizabeth Warren bashes Russia too. I thought she would have known better, but apparently not.

        • Realist
          August 8, 2017 at 6:52 am

          They are all afraid. They KNOW that a coup has been ongoing, that a witch hunt is ongoing, that sacrificial lambs beyond Trump will be grabbed and sacrificed. These punks didn’t live through the 1930’s in Germany, but they’ve at least vaguely heard the history. They would all rather be war criminals than victims. They are not going to stand up for anyone’s rights or liberties if it means they lose a darned thing in the way of status, power, money or security. I can’t believe that these jackals are not intelligent and aware enough to know exactly what is going on and what their own role in it is. They’ve curried a lot of favors and sucked a lot of dcik over the years to get where they are. They will not give it up to save a bunch of lives they have no use for, that benefit them nothing and may cost them clout, in the Middle East, in Ukraine or even in Iowa.

          • Dave P.
            August 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm

            Realist – Yes, you are right on the mark about everything you wrote about these politicians. Just about everybody in Washington is afraid to challenge or say anything contrary to these Russia Gate Lies. Heavens forbid, mention one good thing about Russia! They know they will be stripped off everything – status and power they worked so cunningly to grab. With the exception of a very few, there is not a brave soul left out there in Washington – truly Orwellian World of Yes Party Men to raise their hands when called upon.

  13. Andrew Nichols
    August 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    My last few trips to the USA shocked me for the amt of genuine third world type poverty I observed in rural towns and on the fringes of some of its major cities. Will the NYT be doing a similar series on this?

    • August 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Andrew, Don’t Hold Your Breath !!!!
      The New York Times is George My Brother’s “Ministry of Truth”,
      the Brainwashing Organ of the System which George asked
      his readers to Imagine: A Boot Crushing A Human Face Forever.

    • irina
      August 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      One has to wonder if, in Russia, people line up in the predawn dark to wait for hours for basic
      medical treatment (provided by volunteers) in — animal stalls, etc. at State Fairgrounds.

  14. Lisa
    August 7, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Yesterday, strolling on the internet, I came across some delightful “flashmob” videos – from Russia. I love this phenomenon in any country and provide here a link to some entertainment, to lighten up the serious discussion. It happens in an electronic store. The anti-Russian viewers would certainly “assume” that it is all staged, the good clothing on the customers and personnel, the abundance of the products etc.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwsAEK7xQDY

    And another one, from a food store in Kaliningrad. (The mountains of fresh fruit are “probably” brought in just for the film – right, Russia-gaters?)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8nvPjKMDh0
    The most hilarious moment is when a guard comes in and chases away the singers – and joins the chorus – he was one of them!

    Ok, now the good and very worthy discussion can continue.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 7, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      Lisa – thank you so much for that. I smiled the whole time I was watching those two videos. What beautiful voices! And, you’re right, Russia appears to be doing just fine. If they are smart (which I know they are) and pull together, they can show the whole world!

      Thanks, Lisa.

      • Realist
        August 8, 2017 at 7:32 am

        Americans also know nothing about life in North Korea, yet we KNOW we hate them… because they are obviously an “existential threat” to us… and they undoubtedly “hate our freedoms”… and are basically just a bunch of primitives.

        Yet artistic performances like this take place there:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2tPm7QNgBA

        The girls look happy and inspired in this and similar performances you will notice in additional links. Some are sung in foreign languages (I recognise “Moskau” sung in German) along with sexy dance routines that one could easily mistake for “Western decadence. (Now Michael Kenny will chime in and say it’s all pretend. They know they will be taken out and shot if they mess up in these obvious propaganda performances.)

        • Lisa
          August 9, 2017 at 9:02 am

          This is getting a bit off-topic, but as Realist mentioned North Korea, I enclose a link to a BBC documentary on the life of an American defector to North Korea in 1962. “Crossing the Line”. He lived there until his death in 2016, left two sons who serve in the NK Army.
          No heroes in the film, he himself is even a bit disgusting, but he is a victim of his tragic childhood and youth, fed up with life and Army, the Korean war, and walks across the line from South to North Korea. Meet James Dresnok:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GwBVMgPUH4

          The comments under the video are mainly full of hate towards the traitor, some show understanding to the man’s bizarre fate.

    • GMC
      August 9, 2017 at 6:56 am

      That was a great video. I have never seen a gang or group of teens that are out of line – in all the years being in RU- since 08. Nor have I ever seen any hint of a police state and I have been stopped at vehicle stops now and then – never a problem with the police. The markets here are full of local foods from fruits/veggies to meats. Bread is about 25 to 45 cents depend. and we bought 10 kilo of tomatoes for jarring for 5 bucks today . Our utilities are about 40- 45 bucks a month – gaz, water, electricity. Wifi is 9 bucks a month Cable 5 bucks. Of course its harder on the locals when the economy is bad { as anywhere in the world} but I see no homeless. I’ve traveled around RU every summer and stay in Crimea. Spasibo

  15. Broos
    August 7, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    We are the country in decline; raping the rest of the world for resources. Report THAT, Gray Madam !

  16. Sam F
    August 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    The zionist mass media propaganda against Russia shows that the zionists are traitors, seeking gains for Israel at enormous cost to the US. Their hatred shows that Russia may be the best ally of the people of the US, perhaps even instrumental in relieving the US of MIC/zionist tyranny. Perhaps the Russia-gate investigations will reveal how Russia could help defeat US oligarchy and restore democracy. We would owe them eternal gratitude for that.

    • Tomk
      August 7, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      All have long ago forgotten the “dancing Mossad agents” filming the planes going into the Towers on 911….Let loose by Bush….The question was if they let it happen or made it happen…they definitely knew it would happen, the film in their cameras was destroyed by “Justice” lol the “Justice Department” can anyone say that with a straight face?–that fact shows you how corrupt every part of the USA is “Law” Enforcement, Congress, the top of the Military–they all know….–Mueller was the “fixer” at the FBI who shut down any probe of the massive malfeasance there and in the CIA and the “Intelligence” Agencies–reports of terrorist types learning to fly but not land passenger jets squashed or worse….–Mr. “Integrity”–his reward is to get Trump’s scalp for the Deep State and reverse the election results as his “son” Comey stated he conspired to get him in….and do a JFK on him without a bullet….

  17. Joe Average
    August 7, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Mr. Doctorow,

    you wrote that “Electricity is the only utility that spells dependency for Orlino residents. …” As you stated in your article Russia has caught up with Western countries in many aspects.

    On a side note: If someone knows where to look, you’ll also find pictures and videos (yep, there are Russian vloggers as well) of modern Russia. Not that long ago the “propaganda bullhorn” RT featured an interesting documentary about a local coffee roasters (admittedly founded by a foreigner, but locals caught up on that aspect as well) in Novosibirsk.

    Now let me get to the topic that caused me to write this comment: electricity. As stated above, you pretty much get every item in Russia that’s available in Western countries, too. This applies to photovoltaic cells and batteries as well. So, if your basic need is some electricity for light, charging mobile phones and maybe operating a laptop (no gaming machine), then photovoltaic may be the way to go.

    • Joe Average
      August 7, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      P.S.: If you need running a gaming machine, you’ll have to buy a few more cells.

  18. wholy1
    August 7, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    NY Slimes – IGNORE

  19. mark
    August 7, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts. We’re ‘Mericans. We live in our own little fantasy world and create our own reality. We created Walter Mitty. Remember Jessica Lynch. An army private in a truck that was shot up by a few Iraqi stragglers in 2003. The truck overturned and she was left unconscious with a broken leg. They left her at a local civilian hospital, where they reset her leg. A doctor from the hospital told advancing ‘Mericans and told them to pick her up whenever they wanted. Instead they put on a great show of “rescuing” her, with tanks ands troops dashing from corner to corner and aircraft thundering overhead, with CNN and massed media on hand to film every scripted minute. Then we were told that Lynch had fought off hundreds of Iraqis single handed till she was eventually overrun. No doubt the woman did her job. But a fantasy version had to be created. This isn’t a case of deliberate lying. It’s just that ‘Mericans have a very tenuous grip on reality. Like Hillary Clinton “under heavy sniper fire” in Yugoslavia. The “snipers” were well scrubbed local children presenting her with bouquets of flowers. Like the Russia hacking. Facts are irrelevant, a la Karl Rove. They believe what they want to believe. Same as the Hollywood film showing a ‘Merican destroyer boarding a sinking U boat to capture an Enigma coding machine. This actually happened, except that it was a BRITISH destroyer. It’s just the same tenuous grip on reality. They will believe whatever fairy stories most pander to their vanity.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 7, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      mark – “Facts are irrelevant. They believe what they want to believe.” Really good post, Mark.

  20. mark
    August 7, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Another thing – over here in London the average house price is now £1,500,000. A million people get their food from charity food banks. When I was a kid, I went to a fairly ordinary secondary school that was completely free. It’s still there but it now costs £10,000 a year. They more than doubled the national debt to £1.7 trillion in 5 years to bail out the bankers. There is a yawning chasm between a tiny gilded elite and the great mass of people. Public services – armed forces/ police/ fire brigade/ health service/ education have been slashed and are on the verge of collapse. But don’t worry – we can buy The Guardian and laugh at those “primitive” Russians.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      mark – all that liquidity forced into the system by world central banks (China especially, but Saudi Arabia, U.S., Europe, Japan, etc.) started chasing assets, forcing prices back up again. All this money has forced up the prices of housing, cars, education, you name it. All intentionally manufactured and engineered. It is disgusting! The poor suffer while the country is sold off to the highest bidder. Mark Carney and the politicians should be delicately placed on London Bridge, if you know what I mean.

  21. Typingperson
    August 8, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Thank you for writing this piece, Mr. Doctorow. Very educational.

    Haven’t read the comments yet. A few thoughts: The writer goes to a poor region of Russia to proclaim that Russia is poor, and getting poorer. And more depopulated. Hmmm.

    I actually waded thru the NYT piece before commenting, even tho I no longer read the NYT, because it’s such a ridiculous Zionist, pro-war, anti-Russia propaganda rag, btw. (After reading it daily for more than 20 years.)

    –The writer could just as easily have written a similarly gloom n doom piece on the USA Rust Belt, post-NAFTA. Gone to a small town in Ohio where auto-manufacturing is dead, offshored, and the kids have fled for the cities. And opioid epidemic has taken over. He doesn’t mention spike in drug use out in the poor, abandoned burgs of Russia, interestingly. Perhaps cause it doesn’t exist? That’s a USA thing.

    –I just read a travel story in Bloomberg on visiting big Chinese cities. It made the point that as China has grown more developed and prosperous, the young people have headed for the big cities, where the jobs and opportunity are. Leaving depopulated rural hamlets behind.

    Somehow this did not lead the Bloomberg writer to conclude that China is on the brink of collapse. To the contrary, in fact!

    Sounds like what is happening in Russia as well. Backed up by author’s admission that Russians who go urban are keeping their houses in hamlets as rural retreats / dachas. In other words, they can afford to maintain an urban residence as well as their erstwhile rural homestead. Sounds good!

    Nope! That’s bad, sayeth the NYT.

    Again, I stopped reading NYT several years ago. Too much intellectually dishonest–ok, lying and inaccurate–propaganda such as this.

    –Also, no mention in the NYT piece of USA-backed looting of Russia in the 1990s, after USA rigged the election for compliant drunk Yeltsin. Destroyed the economy and caused great hardship for the average Russian. USA investors / banksters and Jewish Russian oligharchs made out like bandits. (Oddly, 11 out of the 12 top Russian oligharchs were Jewish–and Zionist–based on what I’ve read.)

    Putin put a stop to that. So he’s vilified by USA. But of course.

    Again, NYT is no longer a paper I trust or respect. Intellectually dishonest propaganda. Sad!

    • backwardsevolution
      August 8, 2017 at 12:47 am

      Typingperson – good post, and good for you for laying it to rest. The word must have gone out at the Council for Foreign Relations meeting to lie and lie big, people won’t notice. Ah, but people do.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 8, 2017 at 1:05 am

      Yeah Typingperson, the NYT reporting tells more about what’s bad about the NYT, than it says anything about what’s wrong with Russia.

      Also, I wonder what Triple A has to say about Russia?

  22. MarcB
    August 8, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I’m not American, and just to clarify i can see from an outsiders perspective why the Neocons, and the Liberal,right wing Democratic party elite want to either bend him to their will or stymie whatever weak impulses at curbing the excesses of empire he may originally have….. but the Tone of many comments here and on other posts on Consortium news, strikes me as incredibly naively pro trump…. to me and almost everyone i know he appears like any other bigoted power hungry corrupt oligarch… who is carrying on business as usual….
    Your establishment wants to be rid of trump because he is an unpredictable imbecile who cant therefore be trusted with their interests… okay so he drops the odd truth bomb i’m incredulous that so many Americans and not just Americans ,my own 17 year old Daughter and most of her friends believe that Trump is well intentioned, that he is some kind of messiah who will save us from a third world war…..
    To me from where i sit its preposterous ….

    Does anyone here genuinely believe that if trump weren’t being muzzled and hampered by the “Deep State” that he would be acting any differently , morally with the interests of humanity at heart ?… its not just looming war with Russia that concerns humanity…. its the American empire itself which seems like a juggernaut.. unstoppable and out of control… your economy is propped up by War, extortion and un payable trillions in debt … trump is increasing that debt …. pentagon budget case in point … why are you all so charmed by if not enamored of a coarse , erratic narcissist ?
    Where is the proof that he would otherwise save the world???
    Is Putin any different? As far as i’m concerned the political establishment cant change from within because Governments lie conquer and destroy they always have and always will….. it makes no difference who is in power, Trump is born to rule, lie steal and cheat like Obama, Clinton ,Bush and every other mouthpiece for corporate power…..wait a minute he’s your gangster warlorld he won the election and ought therefore not to be undermined … he won fair and square.
    You all decry American exceptionalism trump is its perfect embodiment … he encapsulates it with perfection.

  23. John
    August 8, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Wait! People are moving to the city! Farms are being converted to suburbs! Rural areas are in distress! That is crazy, thank god it can’t happen here. We would be doing those poor russians a favor by destroying their country.

    • Large Louis de Boogeytown
      August 8, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Apparently china has the same problem – except they build massive empty cities, too.

      The US on the other hand turns its cities into urban wasteland. Somebody should compare the ‘rustbelts’.

  24. StopTheBSplease
    August 8, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    This year the Russian government banned-

    The sharing of a photoshopped picture of Putin as a “gay clown”

    Apr 5, 2017 – Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown

    The use of VPNs

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that prohibits technology that provides access to websites banned in Russia, the government’s website showed on Sunday

    Great country there.

    • Zachary Smith
      August 8, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      It’s a real shame those Ruskies behave so badly. Say, if you’ve been following Consortium News – or even reading some news sites – you’ll have noticed that Congress is trying very hard to make it illegal to protest Israel’s murders and thefts and generally acting like a juvenile delinquent nation.

      Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is a way for people to non-violently protest the Israeli treatment of Palestinians in a manner similar to the boycott of apartheid South Africa in the 20th century. BDS is supported by such orgs as Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Peace. US senators have recently proposed a bipartisan measure, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), that will make such boycott a felony with up to 20 years of imprisonment. The ACLU, while not supporting a boycott, has come out in opposition to this bill since it would “punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs”.

      When my recent neighbors had their house stolen from them by a big bank, they lost everything, and the family disintegrated. That banker class bunch of thefts amounted to trillions of dollars, and not a single one of them was prosecuted.

      I have zero medical privacy, zero telephone privacy, and zero computer privacy. My every move is monitored by devices tracking my vehicle and the electronics I carry.

      If I were to attempt to get on an airplane, I’m subject to being thoroughly groped by people who may or may not be perverts. I may have to drop my drawers in public, and to be thoroughly humiliated by some pinhead with a little authority.

      Speaking of pinheads, if a Peace Officer in the US of A decides you need killing and proceeds to act on that belief, the longest odds are that nothing whatever will happen to him. Or her. On the other hand, you have a 100% chance of becoming and remaining dead.

      Great country here, hey?

    • Joe Average
      August 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      StopTheBSplease,

      do you remember all the fuss about a caricature of Obama using toothpaste with watermelon flavor?

      The US doesn’t need to enact laws. If Jerry Holbert wouldn’t have apologized, he probably would’ve faced a boycott by employers. Public shaming / Social shaming works in similar ways. Is that any better?

  25. Large Louis de Boogeytown
    August 8, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Keep watching Saturday Night Live for the ‘true story’ on almost anything – including what things are like in Russia. Imagine being so terrified by tyranny that you suffer in silence. The faster we invade the better for the poor Russians.

    • Skip Scott
      August 9, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Too many Doritos will fry your brain, Large Louis. Get off the couch, move around a little, and get some oxygen into your brain. When it’s time to invade Russia, maybe you’ll be in good enough shape to lead the charge.

  26. Anonymous
    August 8, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    We just returned from a trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. The people seemed upbeat, and were friendly and helpful everywhere we went. The impression we had is that the mood in Russia is very positive. We were amazed at the cleanliness of the streets, trains, subways, roads. Buildings in both cities were renovated and well-maintained, the food was terrific, people were out walking in the streets late at night without any concern for safety, We took a high-speed train between St. P and Moscow and were very favorably impressed by the courtesy and professionalism of the crew. There’s vibrant cultural life in both cities, with theater, opera, etc. Ballet season was over for the summer. Granted we did not visit rural areas, and our impressions are of course anecdotal. But we have visited countries where the populace seemed disgruntled and things appeared grim. Not the case for Russia, just the opposite.

  27. Evangelista
    August 8, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    For legitimate assessment of how everyday life in Russia stands today, I would suggest, for someone able to visit and settle in residential area for a period of time, a few weeks, minimum, better, months, to a couple of years, to start with Anton Checkhov’s vignettes of life short-stories, then comparing the essentially timeless, human elements.

    For viewing village life, particularly how the poorer people are living and getting along I would suggest a start from Checkhov’s 1886 “A Day In The Country”. It has three protagonists, an adult and two children. I would look for how their equivalents are living today; if they have homes or do not, if they eat better, live better, have better prospects. Who such ones might look to for care and comfort, medical, educational needs, when those might arise, and so forth.

    In the U.S.A., after a rise to and through a ‘golden age’, from the era of societal improvement and education programs initiated in the Roosevelt era through the 1960’s, into the 1970’s, maybe through those to early 1980’s, the lots of the equivalents to those in that particular Checkhov story rose, and their life prospects improved. But today those like them are back down to what can be defined a technological-age equivalent, where the nature that features in the Checkhov vignette is reduced, chemical applications and industrial agriculture having combined to put off limits and make deadly what has not been killed, controlled and paved.

    In Russia during the 1990s the villages and rural areas were reduced, with the rest of the ex Soviet Empire, to almost equivalent to the conditions Checkhov presented in the story, but have been arising again as Putin policies have interfered with the new owner-classes’ efforts to return wealth distribution to approximately what it was in th Empire days, before the 1905 through 1920 Revolution. From outside, today, it appears that with the blessings of ‘The West’s’ economically suicidal sanctions the improvements, fo the everyday Russian, if not always and entirely for the economically measured, who bask in the eyes of the polling and statisticating, has been accelerating; more for more to do, more appreciation for local and in-nation contribution, and so on. Making work and making work appreciated, with having it provide satisfactions, are essentials in building up, improving in any culture and any situation and any conditions. If one measures those I suspect that in most areas of Russia today the people would appear to be, first, pleased with themselves, and so doing well.

    Opposite of the U.S.A., which, today, is looking forward toward its due version of a “Collapse of the Nineties”. .

    • Lisa
      August 9, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Evangelista, as you recommend, I have actually lived in a residential area, in a Moscow suburb, for a great part of the year between 1972-1982. Or no, the first years were spent in a university student house. But I hesitate to start telling about it, the story would be much longer than Mr Doctorow’s article. However, I would say that one can find facts to support any belief about the Russian life, 1) that the citizens live a rather normal life, with joys and sorrows, like everywhere, 2) that there are many restrictions and limitations due to the “vicious” government.

      One remark about the “gay situation” (I don’t understand why this has become a major issue): Russian society holds a more conservative view on the family than the California “liberals”. That is their right and not a reason to terrorize them. Homosexualism is NOT a crime in Russia. Many of the US allies keep similar, even more harsh traditions, but it is no problem (Saudi-Arabia).

      Unfortunately, I have visited Russia rather seldom after the great transformation in 1991, last time in 2004, but keep frequent contact (skype, e-mails) with people over there. They are very free to travel anywhere and do more travelling in Europe, Africa, USA than I do. They urge me to come and see how attractive Moscow has become. It is common to have a dacha (summer house, often winter-equipped as well), and they enjoy growing fruit and vegetables, as a hobby. These country houses are often inherited from some grandparent, who had a traditional Russian log house. They are either kept and modernized or replaced by new brick houses.

  28. August 9, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Who in their right mind would believe the New York Crimes about *anything*?

  29. Pierre Anonymot
    August 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I remember when all of our shoes were made in New England, when Waterbury, CT was the center of the brass industry, and the entire region was alive and energetique. So where did it go? China? Japan? Taiwan? No, not at all. It all moved to Georgia where labor was cheap, leaving all of the once-rich New England states strewn with closed factories and poor people (as they still are.) THEN they all went to Asia.

    New England has never recovered. Atlanta did by jumping into being a Silicon Valley subsidiary, but I spent 5 months last year in drug & crime ridden Savannah and the only prosperous thing there is a big real estate operation posing as a for-profit, second-rate art school.. The NYT has indeed become a Hillary/LGBT bubble where lots of CIA and government press releases are rewritten and published as news.

    So there’s profit for a few in going to war. with Russia? War is the New American Dream. What else is new?

  30. August 10, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I have a friend who, 24 years ago, founded a unique non-profit called “Siberian Bridges” (http://www.siberianbridges.org/) focused on cooperative ventures with an area of Siberia. This summer my friend has been writing wonderfully of his various travel experiences spending the summer in Chita and of the various aspects of life in Siberia generally at http://www.siberianbridges.org/2017/08/06/my-summer-in-chita-12-at-the-dacha/ His last missive is all about Russian “dachas” and very much confirming Doctorow’s experience, down to the beautiful flower covered yards.

  31. sid_finster
    August 11, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Sounds about like my experience of Russian life down of the farm. Ukrainian as well, for that matter.

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