Monthly Archives: November 2020

december 2020

Standard

December 2020

Former Soviet Union roundup

Executive Business Briefing

RUS KAZ AZ

RUSSIA

WHO and Russia

In May 2020 Russia was beginning to loosen lockdown. The government mounted a campaign to convince the public that the government’s policy for dealing with coronavirus had been superb. The Kremlin bragged about the low number of deaths.

Deputy PM Golikova said Russia’s number of deaths per capita was 7.5 lower than the world average.

Other data tell a different story. Rosstat published statistics and research that showed that coronavirus deaths appear to be been hugely underreported.

Some officials privately told EU diplomats that they had no faith in the official data. The government still said its handling of coronavirus was superior to that of Western countries.

WHO said it had no complaints about the way Russia dealt with coronavirus. The head of WHO in Russia is Melita Vujnovic. She is not Russian. WHO has been consistent in saying this since May 2020. In November Dr Vujnovic said that WHO broadly accepted Russian data on coronavirus deaths.

Some have criticized WHO for endorsing dubious official data. WHO has also lauded Russian healthcare.

Healthcare in the regions is poor compared to Moscow. Many doctors were scathing about the government’s ill-preparedness for the second wave.

Alexey Raksha worked for Rosstat. He was fired for doubting the official data. He attacked WHO for signing off on what he said was falsified data.

WHO has been accused of being too pro-Beijing as well.

WHO has to avoid irking governments. It also relies on governmental donations. Do not bite the hand that feeds you. 20% of its funding is from governments. The US stopped funding WHO under Trump. This made WHO even more desperate to win the good graces of other countries.

Governments have the right to shut WHO offices. Turkmenistan for example would not let WHO officials in for months.

Russia does not want WHO to be reformed. The government likes things the way they are.

IMF advises Russia to prolong coronavirus support package

On November 25 the IMF praised Russia’s handling of the economic fallout from coronavirus. The IMF suggested that the government show greater liberality in social support spending. 

The IMF said that Russia’s fiscal conservatism had put it in a healthier position to cope with the crisis than most countries. The government stressed the importance of saving foreign currency and reducing debt. The IMF noted that the Russian recovery is jeopardized by the abrupt rise in coronavirus cases. The second wave is twice as bad as the first.

The IMF suggested that the government provide financial support for individuals and businesses that are struggling due to coronavirus. Raising unemployment benefit was recommended. 

2 million people were laid off in 2020. Unemployment is officially 6.3%. This is regarded as an understatement of the true figure.

Tax deferrals, writing off state backed loans for companies and giving emergency support to businesses are all proposed by the IMF.

SMEs lament that they received little financial support from the government. They do not usually get cheap loans from the state. The bureaucracy required to get one is nightmarish.

Russia’s economic support package is about 4% of GDP. In EU countries it is over 10% in most cases.

The IMF suggested that Russia reduce the interest rate. Otherwise the recovery will be very sluggish. The interest rate is at 4.25%: the lowest ever.

Growth has been an average of 1.5% per annum in recent years. The economy shrunk 4% in 2020 thus far. The IMF estimates it will rebound by 2.5% in 2021 if current policies continue. 

The USD 360 billion National Projects could raise Russia out of slow growth: said the IMF. These are infrastructure projects.

Biden and Russia

What can Russia expect from President Elect Biden? Biden will assume office on January 20. Moscow views him as straightforwardly hostile. It will be Obama Mark 2. Remember Obama came to office vowing to ‘press the reset button’ on relations with Russia as relations between the US and Russia had reached a low point under George W Bush. Almost every US President since FDR has come to office trying to improve relation with Russia or its predecessor. Most of them have found that relations have gradually disimproved.

Biden cannot change sanctions at will. Sanctions are within the purview of Congress. Even when the Republicans had both houses sanctions were tightened. The Democrats retain the House of Representatives. They might gain the US Senate. But without Trump there will be less restraint in Congress.

Biden shephered the Jackson-Vanik Amendment through Congress in the 1970s. That restricted trade with the USSR. Biden also helped implement sanctions against Iran almost 20 years ago. Over the last 20 years he helped remove sanctions against Russia and then reintroduce them.

A Biden Administration will probably end sanctions against Iran. Biden was instrumental in negotiating the Iran Deal that Trump ended despite Iran scrupulously abiding by it. The new sanctions against Iran have been a failure. It has hurt Iran badly. But Iranian troops are still in Iraq and Syria. The country is still helping rebels in Yemen. The Iranians have 12 times more enriched uranium than they did when the US was honoring its promises. The US might learn the lesson that sanctions can backfire.

As relations with Iran improve and there is more oil on the market this will be bad news for Russia. World oil prices will go. Iran will have less reason to assist Russia.

In October 2020 the UN arms embargo on Iran ran out. Russia has been able to sell weapons to Iran since then. The Iranians cannot afford to purchase much.

Biden might not end sanctions entirely. He would probably relax some of them. The US used to grant exceptions to some countries allowing them to purchase Iranian oil without facing penalties from the United States.

As president Joe Biden will probably restore the trade agreement with China. That will be good news for the economies of both countries. China will need more energy to power its factories. That will be welcome for Russia and other former USSR countries that sell oil, gas and coal to the Chinese.

The US is trying to restrict Chinese access to technology. Trump signed executive orders about the telecommunications sector. These included measures against Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies. Chinese investment causes suspicion in the US Government. The FBI is looking out for Chinese hackers and moles.

Biden cares about human rights and Trump did not. Joe Biden might try to introduce sanctions against China due to the end of democracy in Hong Kong and the detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. These sanctions would probably target top bureaucrats and not the whole economy.

Joe Biden is said to consider Russia more aggressive than China. Therefore, the US will probably pivot more towards containment in Eastern Europe.

Biden cares about Ukraine, cybersecurity, Syria and human rights. He is likely to clash with Russia on all of these.

The US has not so far introduced new sanctions because of the poisoning of Alexey Navalny. That might change under Biden. There is EU list of sanctioned Russian officials. The US might adopt this list for travel bans and asset freezes.

The 1991 the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control Act was passed. This act could be used to limit Russia’s sovereign debt. But it is improbable that the US do this.

The previous ratcheting up of sanctions has been occasioned by disputes such as over Syria or the Salisbury Affair.  Unless a new dispute arises the US will probably not increase sanctions greatly unless something like that recurs.

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) is a piece of legislation that could be used against the Russian Federation. DASKA could be deployed to impose severe sanctions. However, the US is aware that in hurting the US it hurts itself.

The Magnitsky Act could be use to extend sanctions on human rights issues. These are aimed only at select individuals especially in the FSB, SVR, GRU or politicians.

The US will still be against Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany. The US could put current sanctions against the pipeline’s construction into law. Biden will not be able to do this alone.

The decades long unfriendly rivalry between the US and Russia will continue. Biden will be more predictable than his inexperienced and volatile predecessor.

Russia opposes anti-pollution measures in the Arctic

With the vastest land area in the world and hydrocarbons accounting for most of GDP, Russia is largely indifferent to environmentalism. But there is mounting pressure for Russia to clean up its act in the Arctic.

In the last few years Russia has become the biggest producer and transporter of LNG. Its projects are very large scale, technologically advanced and pricey.

Russia is changing over to LNG in the Arctic. This is made more difficult due to depending heavily on heavy fuel oil (HFO). HFO is also called bunker fuel or mazut. This is dense and resembles tar. It is also very polluting.

The Russian business community is dubious about expansion of mazut in the Arctic. There is a worldwide effort to prohibit the use of mazut in the Arctic. Russia is trying to weaken this law.

Some politicians and scientists warn that mazut could be disastrous and the country needs to move away from it.

The Northern Sea Route is open in the Arctic for more of the year due to global warming. Since 2017 traffic on this route went up 430%.

LNG is the bulk of cargo on this route. The country is investing in gas infrastructure. However, the country is still using HFO in the Arctic.

In November Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to find a solution to HFO. HFO is ever more expensive to manage. Business is moving money away from mazut to LNG.

The Director of Gazprom Neft’s downstream business unit said that the company wants to move away from HFO entirely as soon as this is practicable. The company wishes to implement the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ban on HFO’s use in the Arctic.

Russia’s main energy companies are spending on new LNG technology to help them move away from HFO.

Gazprom co-owns an LNG plant with Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi. It is called Sakhalin 2. It is a floating storage and regasification  unit.

In August 2020 the government gave the go ahead to Novatek’s idea of a floating LNG thermal power plant in Chukotka.

At the far end of the Northern Sea Route, Murmansk, Novatek is constructing an offshore LNG base. The company owns 50% of Yamal LNG. That plant includes 15 ships which operate year round. Novatek wants to create a USD 12 billion fleet of up to 50 icebreakers. They would serve Yamal and Gydan.

 Using and transporting HFO has been outlawed in the Antarctic ocean for years. Some say that the Arctic also needs to be kept safe from mazut spills.

The International Maritime Organization wants the ban to apply to the Arctic too as of July 2024. There would be some exceptions allowing certain ships to use HFO until 2029. Russia is adamant that this must be allowed.

Gazprom Neft’s statements show that Russian business is willing to abandon HFO by 2024. However, exemptions will make the ban harder to enforce. These would allow 84% of the current mazut use to continue. The International Council on Clean Transportation said that black carbon emissions would be cut by only 5% by 2029.

Russian companies in the Arctic are reducing mazut usage. But some are against the ban. Some in the Central Marine Research and Design Institue have called for mazut use to continue as normal. The ban on mazut is said to be a Western ploy to prevent Russia making the most of the Arctic.

Some ethnic minorities in the Arctic oppose the ban. It could make their jobs untenable. They inhabit the most remote and inhospitable regions in the world. The cost of supplying them with necessities could rise dramatically if the ban is implemented.

In the rest of the world there is a consensus about the need to outlaw mazut. The Clean Arctic Alliance is behind the mazut ban.

  Oil spills in the Arctic are particularly are dreadful. Russia has experienced this. HFO cannot be cleaned up. Mazut emulsifies on the surface of water. In cold temperatures is skinks. It can be transported by the currents to warmer climates where it comes to the surface and lands on the coast.

LNG infrastructure construction indicates that Russia now accepts that a prohibition on HFO is the new dispensation.

Some say that Russia’s use of HFO will slow economic growth in the Fra North. But HFO is cheap and effective. The long term benefits of switching away from it have not convinced everyone.

 

Russia will vaccinate minks

On November 23 it was reported that minks will be vaccinated against coronavirus. In the EU an outbreak of coronavirus in mink led to a massive cull. 

The Agricultural Authority is testing a coronavirus for mink. It is not proven that the disease can pass from mink to people. Mink are important for the Russian fur industry. Fur coats are crucial in such a cold climate. Fur is a major export. 

The human vaccine in Russia will be rolled out in 2021. 

Russian Military vaccinating itself

On November 27 troops started to be vaccinated against coronavirus. There are 500 000 military personnel. The target is 80 000 to be vaccinated by December 31. Putin and the defense minister have already been vaccinated.

Other high risk groups such as medical staff and teachers will also be vaccinated first.

Nornickel report

A report about the Nornickel was published revealing design faults, mismanagement and rising global temperatures all contributed to the oil spill. The report was commissioned by Nornickel. It concluded that this worst ever oil spill in the Arctic. The report said that the disaster was ”inevitable.”

The Environmental Resources and Management Group wrote it. Nornickel commissioned them. The oil spill took place at Norilsk, Siberia.

21 000 tons of oil flowed into the ground and rivers. A diesel tank fell over.

The report said that Norilsk had not heeded warning signs for years. The company tried to satisfy inspectors rather than actually being safe. The company did not consider the impact of a spill.

Norilsk was fined USD 2 billion. The company is figthing the scale of the fine.

The report said that the warm temperature disturbed the weak structure supporting the tank. It was poorly installed.

Norilsk believed that if a spill occurred it would be manageable. This was wrong. The chance of a spill was gravely underestimated.

The safety wall around the tank was inadequate. There were no containment booms available to stop the spread of the spill.

Nornickel says it has learnt its lesson. The company has vowed to clean up the damage. This will take years.

.

Divorce of the century

 Farkhad Akhmedov is an Azerbaijan-Russian billionaire.  The 69 year old oil and gas billionaire is getting sued by his wife for non-payment for alimony. His divorce battle is being fought in a London court. Tatiana Akhmedova claims she is owned GBP 453 million but has only been given GBP 5 million. The divorce settlement was made by the English High Court in 2016. It was the UK’s largest ever alimony.

Temur Akhmedov is Tatiana’s son. Tatiana Akhmedova is bringing a lawsuit against Temur Akhmedov. Temur was born in the United Kingdom. He was given a GBP 30 million apartment in London at the age of 19. Temur, aged 27, has been accused by his mother of helping his father hide assets.

Tatiana Akhmedova has sought an order to freeze Temur Akhmedov’s assets. The High Court granted an order for a team of 9 to search Temur’s residence for evidence. The search team seized several items including computers. Temur has spoken to the British media about the anguish the family feud has caused.

Tatiana Akhmedova has lawsuits against her ex-husband going in five other countries.

Tatiana is seeking a stake in the family private jet, an Aston Martin, shotguns, a GBP 115 million art collection including an Andy Warhol.  They are squabbling over Luna a superyacht worth GBP 350 million. It has a spa, two heliports, a submarine and a missile detection system. The yacht is in Dubai.

It is rumored that Farkha Akhmedov has offered his ex-wife GBP 100 million to drop all claims. But she is not doing so.

Temur is a commodities trader. He told the Daily Mail newspaper that he last met his mother in February 2020 and failed to convince her to compromise.

Burford Capital is a litigation finance company on Tatiana’s side. It will gain some of the GBP 453 million when she receives it. Burford Capital has been involved in the case since 2018.

In 2018 Burford gave Mrs Akhmedova GBP 18 million in expectation of a payout from her once she receives her full alimony.

Temur has an apartment at One Hyde Park. That is the UK’s priciest apartment block. Farkhad bought it in 2012.

Farkhad believes that a UK court should have no jurisdiction over the divorce of two Russians who married in Russia. He has refused to comply with the court’s rulings. He has been held in contempt of court. He faces arrest if he comes to the United Kingdom.

Tatiana married aged 17. Her family moved to London in 1993. They owned two properties worth well over GBP 28 million each in the UK and a house on the French Riviera.

UKRAINE

Pro Trump lobbyists might be kicked out

In 2017 SMW Partners was hired by two of the richest clients in the former USSR. The company was to lobby the US Government. One of them was a Ukrainian Ihor Kolomoisky and the other was Russian controlled pipeline Nord Stream 2 exporting gas to the EU. Gazprom owns it.

SMW Partners was founded in 2017 by John Sweeney who was part of the Trump transition team. The company 7 other clients that year. It earned USD 1.2 million.

Sweeney was a Republican politician in New York. In 2021 his work might disappear.

Companies that did well because they were close to Trump will lose out.
Lobbyists are often superannuated politcians. There is a revolving door. Defeated politicians become lobbyists. If they are re-elected then they leave lobbying.

Those who have left Congress are now banned from lobbying their former colleagues for at least a year. The same applies to senior White House staff.


The Lobbying Disclosure Act obliged lobbyists to register. Lobbyists have to disclose who they lobby for and what they lobby on.

Many pro-Trump lobbyists were lobbying virgins in 2017. Some made a mint through their connections to him.

In 2019 Trump signed a law putting sanctions on ships laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Sweeney tried to prevent these sanctions.

Avenue Strategies was founded in 2016. It was registered by Corey Lewandoswki (Trump campaign manager) and Barry Bennett (campaign advisor). They sought business in Albania and Kosovo but did not get contracts. But Lewandowski never registered as a lobbyist.

Avenye Strategies was hired in 2018 to lobby on behalf of Yulia Tymoshenko. Two Paths paid Avenue USD 65 000 a month for five months. Two Paths was a shell company working for Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko later denied knowledge of the contract. It was ended prematurely.

The Azeri American Institute (AAI) hired Avenue Strategies in 2019 to lobby for Azerbaijan. It paid USD 40 000 for a few months. The AAI had no website. It was registered in Ohio by Mike Flanagan a former politician. Who financed AAI is unknown.

Chartwell Strategy Group was set up in 2017 by David Tamasi. He had been a Trump fundraiser. It lobbied for Georgia and Kosovo.

The lobbyists who were close to Trump are expected to fold in 2021. They mostly had no experience prior to 2017. The Democrats detest them and mainstream Republicans do not respect them.

Azerbaijan hired Podesta as a lobbyist. It later switched to Ballard Partners DC. The form was founded by Brian Ballard. Azerbaijan only used the firm for 6 months. Ballard had people with links to both major parties as its employees.

BELARUS

Belarus presidential challenger charged with embezzlement

On November 24 Viktor Babaryko. Babaryko was running to be president until June when he was arrested.

The KGB has been investigating Belgazprombank which Babaryko headed. He is accused of laundering dirty money and taking bribes. The bank is the local version of Gazprombank. 

Several of Babaryko’s co-accused have pleaded guilty. Babaryko has not. He is said to be embezzled and laundered USD 60 million. Babaryko’s defenders why it took years for the KGB to notice this if the allegations are true. They say that the prosecution is a bogus political prosecution. Babaryko is 57 and has been in banking for decades. 

Belarussian protestors baffle police

On November 29 protests in Minsk adopted a new tactic. Instead of congregating in the city center they gathered in several different suburbs. This was called the march of the neighbors. The police were confused and lacked the numbers to close down all protests at once. 250 arrests were made.

ARMENIA

Closer cooperation with Russia needed

Prime Minister Pashinyan said on November 23 that the country must work more closely with Russia. This statement came just after Azerbaijani troops moved into land vacated by the Armenian forces pursuant to the peace agreement. Pashinyan had a meeting with the Russian Defense Minister on November 23.

Pashinyan said that his country needs to work in close concert with Russia on technology and economically. He came to office in May 2020 trying to reduce dependence on Russia.

Russian troops moved into Aghdam on November 21.

After the conflict

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 9 after six weeks of fighting over the self-proclaimed republic. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan will regain control of three districts that have been controlled by the separatists since the 1990s.

Around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have deployed in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh under the terms of the deal and Shoigu said Saturday they had secured the return of 7,000 refugees to the disputed territory who were displaced during the recent fighting.

“For us, the main thing is to prevent bloodshed,” Shoigu said Saturday. He was part of a major Russian delegation in Yerevan that also included Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov described the visit as a signal of Russia’s “support” for Armenian authorities, who have come under growing pressure from the opposition for ceding territory to Azerbaijan.

Armenia replaced its defense minister Friday in an effort to placate demonstrators who stormed government buildings after the deal was announced and have taken to the streets almost daily since.

Lavrov said that “attempts to question this agreement both domestically and internationally are unacceptable.”

Several thousand people gathered again in Yerevan Saturday to voice their opposition to the deal and demand Pashinyan’s resignation.

The prime minister was responsible for “a crisis of dignity in our society, a social, moral and economic crisis,” former rights ombudsman in Nagorno-Karabakh Ruben Melkonyan said at the rally.

“Only after Pashinyan leaves can we find our dignity again and get back on our feet,” he added.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev later Saturday thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin personally for Moscow’s role in brokering the ceasefire when the Russian delegation visited Baku.

“We also welcome the active negotiations between Russia and Turkey on the creation of a monitoring center to control the ceasefire regime,” he said.

Azerbaijan has been pushing for its close ally Turkey to play a central role in the implementation of the agreement, after Ankara was widely accused of supplying mercenaries from Syria to bolster Baku’s army during the fighting.

Russia has insisted that Turkish troops would not be involved in the peacekeeping mission, saying representatives from Ankara would instead oversee the truce from monitoring stations in Azerbaijan.

“The Azerbaijani army won a glorious victory and we are moving on to a political settlement of the conflict,” Aliyev said.

Separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding districts captured the territory and claimed independence following a post-Soviet 1990s war that left around 30,000 dead.

Their claim was not recognized internationally, however, even by Armenia.

As part of the peace accord, Armenia agreed to return 15 to 20 percent of Nagorno-Karabakh territory captured by Azerbaijan in recent fighting, including the historic town of Shusha.

Super advanced course lesson 15. Rudyard Kipling

Standard

Super advanced course lesson 15

RUDYARD KIPLING

In 1865 Rudyard Kipling was born at Mumbai, India. His mother was a Scotswoman born in South Britain. His father was an Englishman named Lockwood Kipling. Mr and Mrs Kipling had gone on dates to Rudyard Lake in the United Kingdom. They named their firstborn after this Staffordshire beauty spot.

Lockwood Kipling was Professor of Drawing at the Sir Jamsetjee College in Mumbai. The college was founded by a Parsee businessman and philanthropist.

Rudyward was nursed by a Portuguese nanny. The family had several Indian servants. Rudyard learnt Hindi from them.

Although Rudyard’s maternal grandfather was a Methodist minister the Kiplings were Anglicans. Rudyard was not especially religious.

When Rudyard was little he and his sister were sent back by ship to the United Kingdom. They were lodged with a woman in Southsea. She was paid to bring them up. Rudyard and his sibling found the woman uncongenial and severe. They missed their parents.

Rudyard’s aunt wed Mr Alfred Baldwin. Alfred Baldwin’s son was Stanley Baldwin. The Baldwins were a very wealth ironmongering family. Rudyard’s cousin Stanley went to Harrow School which was one of the grandest in the British Empire. Rudyard was envious of this. The Kiplings were the poor relations.

When Rudyard was 13 he went to the Service College at Westward Ho! He was bright but only medium good at games. Rudyard wanted to go to university. Only about 2% of boys went to university at the time. His family could not afford for him to go to Oxford or Cambridge. He would not win a scholarship because he was not gifted at Latin and Greek. He does not seem to have even considered provincial universities.

At 16 Rudyard left school. His father had arranged a job for him in India. The boy sailed to the Subcontinent that he had not seen for 12 years. He docked at Mumbai. He took the train to Lahore. The journey lasted 4 days. He arrived and met his mother for the first time in 12 years. She was elated to see him but horrified at his moustache. She insisted that he shave it off.

The Civil and Military Gazette was Rudyard’s employer. He was a very able journalist. At 17 he became editor of the newspaper.

There is a cannon permanently located outside a museum in Lahore. The museum was known to Rudyard as the Wonder House. The cannon is known as Zam Zameh. It featured in Kipling’s novel Kim. Kim is the eponymous protagonist of the novel. Kim was an orphan. It is clear that Rudyard identifies with Kim.

Rudyard branched out into fiction and prose. His writings sold well. He soon became wealthy. He was able to resign his editorship. Rudyard made his living through his quill.

India was to remain the locale for many of Rudyard’s stories. He crisscrossed the Subcontinent. He wrote Plain Tales from the Hills.

Rudyard had flirted with anti-imperialism in his teens. By his mid 20s he was a passionate imperialist. He never once wavered in that. He assumed that Whites in general and Britons in particular were born to rule. Rudyard asserted that European races had a civilising mission in other continents.

Kipling wrote the Jungle Book. It is a series of animal stories set in India. A boy named Mowgli features in it. He is an orphan. Psychoanalysts says that he represents Kipling who felt an orphan when sent away from his parents. Various animals stand in as the boy’s parents. But the jungle is beset with jeopardy. There are some stories in the Jungle Book which feature people. It often mentions ‘the Mohammedan servant beat his daughter.’

At 26 Rudyard met a 29 year old American named Caroline. They fell in love and wed. Within a year a daughter was born. In 1897 their son John was born. A little later they had their second daughter Elsie.

The young family lived in Vermont for a while. Rudyard was thrilled by the landscape. Plentiful snow was also a welcome novelty for him.

Rudyard was aghast at the anglophobia of the American press. He wanted to two nations to be allies.

The family briefly travelled to China and Japan. They then settled in the United Kingdom.

Rudyard purchased a London flat by Charing Cross Station. He also bought an estate in Sussex named Bateman’s. Soon after the Kipling’s returned to the UK their elder daughter died of an illness.

Rudyard told tales to his offspring. He wrote these down as the Just So Stories. These were explanatory stories such as ‘How the elephant got his trunk’ and ‘how the camel got his hump.’ These are not proper biological explanations. They are childlike and mythical stories.

Mr Rudyard Kipling wrote poems about British soldiers in India. These were the Barrack Room Ballads. He penned Gunga Din about an Indian water carrier for the British Army. He also wrote a poem about three British soldiers in the Subcontinent entitled Soldiers Three. The three personas are a Cockney, a Yorkshireman and an Irishman.

By the dawn of the 20th century Rudyard was the best known living British author. He was widely appreciated in the USA.

The South African War erupted in 1899. Kipling became a partisan of the British cause. He defended some highly contentious policies.

Rudyard Kipling was egregiously blinkered. He never seemed to believe that his nation had aggressed others or ever behaved unjustly to its colonies.

In 1900 the Kaiser of Germany sent a telegram to his troops in China. He ordered his men to behave like ‘Huns’ as in days of old. The Huns were notorious for their barbarism. The German Emperor commanded his men to show no quarter and to be as wantonly destructive as possible. The German Army razed many edifices even when there was no military rationale for doing so.

Rudyard Kipling was appalled at what the Kaiser had said. He castigated the Germans for their unbridled bloodlust and needless vandalism. He became a confirmed germanophobe. He popularised the use of ‘hun’ as a term of opprobrium for Germans. Rudyard considered that the Second Reich represented a mortal peril to the Second Reich. By contrast, he heartily admired the French. Rudyard regarded France and the United Kingdom to be the standard bearers of civilisation. He called for an alliance between the two nations. This was unfashionable at the time.

In 1910 George V became king. The king was a close friend of Kiplings. Rudyard often motored to Windsor Castle to visit the monarch.

John Kipling, son of Rudyard, went to Wellington College. This school was founded in 1852 in homage to the Duke of Wellington. The college was for the sons of army officers. By the time John Kipling attended it the school was not just for boys from military families. Rudyard was keen that his only son serve in the armed forces.

Rudyard went around the United Kingdom demanding that the country adopt a posture of defence. He wanted the armed forces beefed up. He called for conscription. Rudyard lambasted the Liberal Government for its limp wristedness on this issue. He was horrified that Britain was so ill-prepared for the war that he felt was unavoidable.

A convinced anti-socialist: Rudyward became a vociferous Conservative. He was an inveterate opponent of Home Rule for Ireland. He said that prior to the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland the people of the island had engaged in little more than bovine thievery. He visited Hibernia and disliked the architecture of the cottiers. He liked the north of the country and empathised with the Protestant descendants of 17th century English and Scotch migrants.

In 1912 Rudyard published a poem entitled Ulster 1912. He wrote that Home Rule would be cataclysmic and would unleash all manner of crime. He suggested that Catholics in Ireland detested Protestants. His poem was too much even for some unionists.

At pro-conscription meetings people asked Rudyard what about his son? If it was the bounded duty of every Britannic youth to enlist in His Majesty’s Forces then what about John?

The war broke out in 1914. Rudyard pulled his son out of Wellington. He had the 17 year old go before the Royal Navy Board to see if he could be accepted to train for a commission as an officer. The boy passed with flying colours except when it came to his eyesight. He wore glasses. Without them he was myopic. He failed the medical on those grounds alone.

Having tried the Royal Navy the Kiplings tried the British Army. The army refused to accept John on the grounds that he was as blind as a bat without his spectacles. Kipling went to see his old friend Earl Roberts of Kandahar. The retired general had been Colonel of the Irish Guards. Lord Roberts was dying but still carried some sway. He cajoled the Irish Guards into offering John Kipling the chance to train for a commission despite his disability.

John trained as an officer. He was commissioned. He went to the front aged 17. It required special permission to go to a combat zone below the age of 18. Within 6 weeks he was missing in action.

Rudyard and his wife Carrie did all they could to find him. They travelled to the front line. They used all their high level contacts. They spoke to the Red Cross. They examined 6 000 photos of British Prisoners of War in German hands. All to no avail. They wondered if he had been wounded and lost his mind. They toured hospitals for British soldiers who had sustained head injuries and had forgotten who they were. For 18 months they search. Once they found a young man whom they thought was John. Eventually they realised that this young man was not their son.

The Kiplings interviewed Irish Guardsmen from John’s company. Eventually they met a Dubliner who had seen John die. The couple finally accepted that their son was dead.

Kipling worked in propaganda. He was jingoistic and convinced of the rectitude of the war. He was appalled at the inefficiency and incompetence with which the war was fought.

Rudyard was asked by the War Graves Commission to help them. What should they put on their war memorials? He chose a quotation from the Bible, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus: Their Name Liveth Forevermore. Rudyard also picked the dedication on cenotaphs: The Glorious Dead. On the tombstones of unidentified soldiers he said it should read: A Soldier of the Great War/ Known Unto God.

The Irish Guards commissioned Rudyard to compose a regimental history. He undertook this labour of love out of devotion to his fallen son. The two volume history is one the most acclaimed of the genre.

After the war Rudyard became despondent. His work took a darker tone. He became cynical about the First World War. He wrote from the perspective of young men who had been killed in the war: ‘If they ask why we died/ Tell them because our father lied.’

Rudyard was an ardent anti-communist. He loathed the Labour Party as Bolshevik in disguise. Nevertheless his work was published in Russia.

When the Amritsar Massacre occurred Kipling defended it as justified. He did not donate money to the perpatrator of the crime. It was the sort of atrocity that Kipling excoriated Germany for.

In 1926 the General Strike occurred. Kipling was dead against it.

By the 1930s Kipling was infirm. He was less productive. His surviving daughter wed but was childless.

On 18 January 1936 Rudyard died. King George V died two days later. People said that the king’s trumpeter (Kipling) had gone just before him.

Rudyard’s corpse was cremated at Golders Green. His ashes are interred in Westminster Abbey at Poets’ Corner.

Kipling remains one of the most widely read authors of any language. The breadth and scope of his ouevre finds few parallels. He penned reportage, commentary, children’s literature, official histories, poesy and novels.

The reputation of Kipling has declined over the decades. He fell out of fashion when his imperialism and his racist attitudes became unpopular.

John Kipling’s body was not identified at the time. An Irish Guards lieutenant was buried with the inscription that Kipling had suggested: A Soldier of the Great War/ Known Unto God. Decades after Rudyard’s death it was figured out that this man was John.

================

  1. When was Kipling born?
  2. In what city was Kipling born?
  3. What country is that in?
  4. What was Lockwood’s job?
  5. What job did Rudyard’s grandfather do?
  6. Why did Kipling grow up without his parents?
  7. What school did he go to?
  8. What job did he get at 16?
  9. Why did he not attend university?
  10. Who was his wife?
  11. How many children did they have?
  12. Name his son?
  13. Which foreign land did they live in?
  14. What did Rudyard think of imperialism? Five marks
  15. Which school did John go to?
  16. What did Rudyard think of Germany?
  17. Was he friends with the king?
  18. What party did Rudyard back?
  19. Why was it hard for John to join the military?
  20. What happened to John aged 18?
  21. What did Kipling say should be on the gravestone of unidentified soldiers?
  22. When did Kipling die?

meghan markle

Standard

miscarriage

grief. sympathy . sorrowful. lugubrious. doleful.

anguish. angst . heartache,. tristful.

privacy? stigmatic? not shameful. many speak about it. others keep it confidential

relive the trauma. bury it. do not dwell on it. milk it

different reacitons. indifference. relief

move forward. wallow in self pity

feeling sorry for herself. self dramatisation

abortion. attitudinally anomolous

foetus not a human. unborn baby is not alive. why care? cells connected to body. toenails./ indifference. morally neutral

why happily kill a more developed baby yet mourn another? this baby has no rights. can be wilfully poisined or cut up alive.

a dream of senia

Standard

I was wandering around Moscow. took a boat up a canal. got out and decided to walk back on the towpath. the weather was fine. There had been several other people on the boat. It was a nondescript area of the city. I reminisced about moscow yesterday.

I penned an essay. my redaction was perused by senia. she is the one who caused me incalculable grief many year ago. In this case she was only mildly critical. I took it well. She was morose and spofte spoken. I chatted to nodsy car yesternight in real life. She had given me some of her wisdom on my scribblings. Nodsy is often sour like Senia. She was v pleased to chew the fat with me. But pater was wtaching a doc on Anne Boleyn and told her toc ome away and watch the goggle box. so fater a few mins Nodsy did so. she tried to call back. missed hr.

what dose senia signify? grief and woe. a desire to exact vengeance. paths not taken and cardinla errors.

a dream of beastie

Standard

I was in the windy city. not sure why i was there. I do sometimes consider revisitng for the sake of filming historic sites. I was reminsicing about mermaid yesterday. was going voer my flagging mentally yesternight.

windy city represents fear for me. perhaps I considerd oing there for the purpose of analyss. I consider georgia and enemy land as places to eb a visitant.

I was om BSB. not sure why. I wamnyed to get out of there.w as nervpus. could nbe in deep trouble. I saw beastie in the corridor. I tried to brass it out – avert mu gaze and walk right past rosa klebb . it worked

I saw great white sharks jumping out of the water mouths agape. petrifyuing. what peril do they represent? jeopardised myslef in some regards.

dreams of the easter rising

Standard

I was in a tall building in dublin on the top floor. I spoke to another brown haired irishman with a mostache. a bit older than mysef. he was slender, chipper and courteous. this soft spoken chap was in a volunteer uniform. easte rising was beginning. I think he had a rifle. he was totally unthretaneing.w e wer on opposite sides. they would have lower floors of the buulding. he was the only one there. the fight was about to begun but there wa sno tension. it was as though he was tranquilly explaining the rule of a game. did he turn into countess markievicz or did I? If this happened it did not seem curious.

Later I saw myself on the flowe rfloors. looking u around the staircase. by angles in between the staircase and the floor I could see to the upper floor. if there were fighters there they could be shot through these gaps. v tricky to manage

later I was speaking to the PM of enw zealamd/ she was mixed blood – maoir and paheka. had wed at 20 to someone dhe did not love. splotu up from her husband and with her boyfriend now this was reodlent of TED ta;k I saw about a mixed rac women grpowing up in a chirsitna cult in NZ last noght. I had eldied her with jacinda arden.

there was anotyher part to the dream. in some lonbnby slim young white men in dark suits and white shirts appreched me. asked if I wanted a law firmm trainigncontract. was unsur ewhthee to take it. shoudl I ? DO a dgree in it first? Gaive that up nstead/ When di I have to decide.? The offer was oen for a month. that pathway has tempted me. But it has its drawbacks. will probably not go down that road.

Pronunciation exercises

Standard

Vowels and diphthongs

see/siː/
ihappy/ˈhæpi/
ɪsit/sɪt/
ebed/bed/
æcat/kæt/
ɑːfather/ˈfɑːðə(r)/
ɒgot/ɡɒt/ (British English)
ɔːsaw/sɔː/
ʊput/pʊt/
uactual/ˈæktʃuəl/
too/tuː/
ʌcup/kʌp/
ɜːfur/fɜː(r)/
əabout/əˈbaʊt/
say/seɪ/
əʊgo/ɡəʊ/
my/maɪ/
ɔɪboy/bɔɪ/
now/naʊ/
ɪənear/nɪə(r)/ (British English)
hair/heə(r)/ (British English)
ʊəpure/pjʊə(r)/ (British English)
   

================

Trump options narrow as Michigan backs Biden win

Donald Trump has had a fresh setback in his bid to overturn his loss in the US election as Michigan lawmakers indicated they would not seek to undo Joe Biden’s projected win in the state.

Two Republican legislators pledged to follow “normal process” in validating the vote after a White House meeting.

Earlier on Friday, Georgia dealt the US president another blow by certifying Mr Biden’s razor-thin margin of victory.

The Democrat is set to take office on 20 January as the 46th US president.

Mr Biden’s victory in the Electoral College system, which determines who becomes president, is projected to be 306 to 232 – far above the 270 he needs to win. His lead in the public vote overall stands at more than 5.9 million.

Mr Trump, who has had few public appearances since the 3 November vote, on Friday again falsely claimed victory. “I won, by the way,” he said, while making an announcement on drug pricing.

He has made allegations of widespread electoral fraud, without providing any evidence.

His Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused the media and Democrats of hypocrisy.

“While in 2016 President Trump became the duly elected president, many sought to undermine him, discredit him, de-legitimise him and deny his victory. There were no calls for unity, there were no calls for healing,” she said.

“So while every legal vote is counted let us not forget the inexcusable transition, or lack thereof, that President Trump had to endure in 2016 and for years into his presidency.”

What is the president’s next move?

After a string of court defeats in his efforts to challenge the election results, Mr Trump’s team is hoping to convince legislatures controlled by his fellow Republicans in key states to ignore the outcome and declare Mr Trump the victor, according to multiple US media outlets.

Mr Trump has also expressed interest in inviting legislators from Pennsylvania, another battleground won by Mr Biden, to the White House, a senior campaign official confirmed to the BBC’s US partner, CBS News.

But he has no such meetings currently listed on his public schedule for this weekend, and counties in the Rust Belt state, along with Michigan, are due to certify their vote totals on Monday. 

It is seen as highly unlikely that the president’s team would be able to flip Michigan and Pennsylvania.