Why Thailand is Buying Russian Helicopters

November 17, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Beginning in 2011, the Kingdom of Thailand began replacing aging US helicopters not with newer US-built models, but with Russian and Italian systems instead.

This includes Russian Mi-17 medium twin-turbine transport helicopters and several AgustaWestland AW149's and AW139's (for transporting VIPs).

According to a January 2019 article in Jane's 360:
The RTA [Royal Thai Army] already operates five Mi-17V-5 platforms. In March 2008 the service ordered the first three such rotorcraft from Russia, which were delivered in March 2011, followed by the remaining two in November 2015 under a contract signed in July 2014. 

The article also noted that 2 more have recently arrived in Thailand, bringing the total number up to 7:
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has received two more Russian-made Mil Mi-17V-5 ‘Hip-H’ medium transport helicopters, an RTA source told Jane’s on 8 January.
Russia's embassy in Bangkok would note during the delivery of several Mi-17's in 2015 that:
This model of the famous Russian MI-17 helicopter can be used not only for transportation purposes but also in combat circumstances as well as for civil needs, in particular for rescue operations and forest fire extinguishing.
Indeed, far from just new toys resulting from a military spending spree as US-backed opposition figures in Thailand claim, Russian-built Mi-17s have already been seen in action, most notably during the spectacular cave rescue incident last year where 12 children and their football coach made it out of flooded caves alive.

Mi-17's could be seen bringing in heavy equipment and other supplies to aid in search and rescue operations, just as Russian representatives had promised they could. The rescued children were also in fact flown to safety on Thailand's Mi-17's.

While these initial 7 Mi-17's sound insignificant, it should be noted that Thailand operates only 12 US-built UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. While it has a much larger number of much older US-built UH-1 and UH-212 Huey helicopters (78 and 51 respectively) only 20 UH-1's are being modernised along with 48 UH-212's.

Interestingly enough, the resources needed to upgrade Thailand's aging US helicopter fleet was so extensive it prompted Thai policymakers to look into and eventually decide to begin transitioning over to Russia's Mi-17, using funds from the upgrade programme to do so.

Defense Industry Daily would report in its January 2019 article, "Thais Go Russian, Buy Mi-17 Helicopters – Now to Pay with Rubber," that (my emphasis):
The Bangkok Post reports that Russia had offered to sell Mi-17s to Thailand at 168 million baht each in 2006, but the price has gone up. The first 3 helicopters will now cost 950 million baht, with another 50 million baht for pilot training and ground equipment (1 billion baht currently = $29.1 million). The other 3 helicopters will reportedly be paid for by funds diverted from the Huey upgrade program.
The article would also quote Thai representatives regarding cost and performance considerations over buying more US helicopters versus new Russian alternatives:
“We are buying three Mi-17 helicopters for the price of one Black Hawk. The Mi-17 can also carry more than 30 troops, while the Black Hawk could carry only 13 soldiers. These were the key factors behind the decision.”
This should hardly come as a surprise and is about more than just shifting geopolitics.

Even the US Agrees: Russian Helicopters are Better 

The US itself in the midst of its now 2 decade-long occupation of Afghanistan even at one point began buying Russian Mi-17's to equip the Afghan military to save money both in initial purchases and maintenance as well as in terms of training mechanics and pilots.

The Washington Post in a 2013 article titled, "Congress fuming over U.S. purchase of Russian helicopters for Afghanistan," would claim:

By the end of 2016, Afghanistan’s air force is due to have 86 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. Most of them will have been purchased by the United States from Rosoboronexport, the same state weapons exporter that continues to arm the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
The article also admits:
The Pentagon says that there is no better, cheaper helicopter than the Mi-17 to operate in Afghanistan’s desert expanses and high altitudes, and that it is the aircraft the Afghans know best.
Later, a purely politically-motivated transition toward US-built UH-60 Blackhawks precipitated predictable problems, as Defense News would report in its 2018 article, "Afghans are switching from Russian to US helicopters, but senators are concerned over the approach," noting:
As the Afghans transition from the Mi-17 to the UH-60, several operational challenges have cropped up regarding the Black Hawk’s capability related to the Mi-17. 

The IG report said that the Black Hawk does not have the lift capacity comparable to Mi-17s and is unable to take on some of the larger cargo an Mi-17 carries, which requires two UH-60s to carry the load of one Mi-17. 

Additionally, the Black Hawks can’t fly at the same high elevations as an Mi-17. As a result, the former cannot operate in remote areas of the country.
UH-60 Blackhawks cost 2-3 times as much as Mi-17's, with less lift and a much smaller passenger and cargo capacity while being unable to perform across the same extensive environments as Mi-17's.

Karma: British "White Helmets" Co-Founder Dead in Turkey

November 15, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - Former British military officer James Le Mesurier suspected of ties to MI6 and the co-founder of the so-called "White Helmets" front was found dead this month in Turkey from an apparent fall from his residence.

The Western media wasted no time linking it to claims Russia had recently made that he was an intelligence asset involved in sowing instability worldwide - attempting to portray Russia as somehow likely responsible for Le Mesurier's death.

Not a Rescue Org 

In actuality, the "White Helmets" were an extension of Western armed and funded terrorist organizations operating in Syria with the "White Helmets" specifically serving the purpose of war propagandists thinly disguised as "rescue workers" or local "civil defense."

They found themselves repeatedly at the center of alleged chemical attacks the US accused the Syrian government of - indicating their likely involvement in carrying out false flag operations - many of which may have actually killed real people.

The deceptive manner in which the "White Helmets" operated has already been extensively exposed and their credibility rendered moot - not least because the terrorist organizations they augment are nearing extinction - surrounded in Syria's northern governorate of Idlib.

Dead Spook: Cui Bono? 

Le Mesurier's continued existence as the co-founder of a now irrelevant propaganda arm to a defeated proxy army makes no difference to Syria and its Russian allies.

Le Mesurier's continued existence - however - did pose the perpetual threat of the knowledge he had of covert US operations in Syria including the use of the "White Helmets" in staging chemical attacks and other atrocities and their role in manipulating international organizations like the OPCW eventually becoming public.

It is obvious that his death - whatever the cause - benefited the US and UK which backed him and his faux humanitarian relief organization - meaning that whatever secrets he harbored are now taken to the grave with him.

Work for Horrible People, Meet a Horrible End

Finally, let Le Mesurier's ignominious end serve as a warning for those serving the agenda of global aggressors particularly in the targeting and destruction of a sovereign nation like Syria.

Even upon death, the establishment that bank rolled him and propped him up used his corpse as a prop in their public relations campaigns. The truth of his death may never emerge. With the possibility that he was terminated by his own employers - pause for thought will hopefully reverberate across the peripheral operations created to prop up and promote the "White Helmets."

If someone like Le Mesurier can find himself at the end of his uselessness and likely disposed of by his own employers - what of a former-underwear salesman-turned-war propagandists for NATO or armies of compromised academics?

Anyone who finds themselves in possession of facts and willfully distorts them for profit in the employ of nations willing to lie to promote death and destruction on a global scale cannot possibly believe they are ever safe or will perpetually be more useful alive than dead. Regardless of the actual cause of Le Mesurier's death - he most certainly is more useful to the system that created him and whom he served dead than remaining alive with 8 years of secrets liable to spill out.

Like a gang member working for a violent Central American drug cartel - imagining that you'll serve horrible people involved in a horrible cause and somehow live your life out happy, healthy, and to blissful old age is a fantasy. But perhaps being able to indulge in fantasy is the only way ordinary people can bring themselves to serve enterprises like violent drug gangs or global hegemons in the first place.

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From Legos to Rockets: Technology is Disrupting Western Monopolies

November 15, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - At first glance the Danish toy company Lego doesn't seem to have much to do with paradigm shifts in technology. Yet a recent incident illustrates the march forward of modern technology and the threat it poses to not only well-established but inflexible companies like Lego, but to entire industries and their collective impact on global economics.

Clinging to Antiquated Business Models

Lego has recently mounted an intellectual property (IP) crusade against 3D designers sharing Lego-style creations on free online 3D model libraries. People download these designs and 3D print them out. It should be pointed out that many of these designs are highly unique and are not merely replicas of products Lego sells.

Some online 3D model libraries immediately capitulated to Lego's legal notices to take down the various designs.

One online 3D model library, MyMiniFactory, not only initially ignored the take-down notices, it created a contest challenging designers to come up with an alternative modular building block system (like Legos) that would  be open source and free for others to download or base new designs off of. The alternatives developed will also be free from Lego's aggressive IP crusade.

ALL3DP, a 3D printing news website, reported in a recent article that:
The "OGEL" beyond the brick competition is a playful dig at Lego, which recently sent infringement notices to popular maker hubs like Cults and MyMiniFactory.
Lego will most certainly survive the OGEL competition but the fact it pursued an aggressive legal campaign alienating enthusiastic fans of its products suggests 3D printing technology may have been at least perceived as eating into Lego's profits or impeding future growth.

Without doubt technology like 3D printing, especially as it improves and is more widely adopted, will pose as a growing problem for companies like Lego who produce relatively easy products to replicate. Lego's instinct to attack rather than adapt is a mistake repeated by many companies who refuse to accept waves of change.

Technology Transforms Industry Dynamics  

Before 3D printing, the Internet and file sharing transformed the media industry.

Movie studios and recording companies still claim to be making large profits after waging their own very aggressive legal wars and undergoing a painful, awkward transformation to adapt, but the fact is the Internet and file sharing has forever changed markets, consumer behavior, and the respective market shares of once prominent and uncontested media titans.

Yes, big-media is still making profits but the percentage of those profits versus the vastly expanded media market the Internet made possible is relatively smaller. It is a market where individuals can just as easily promote themselves and reach millions as any large studio. Big-media still has a large piece of pie, but the whole pie itself is much larger with many more people getting their own piece.

For-Profit vs. For-Purpose 

As technology transforms different industries, large companies will have to accept that profitability and market share will shrink and the notion of perpetual growth for the sake of growth is no longer feasible. Profits are obviously important for a business but a business model that places purpose first will thrive as long as it is achieving that purpose and is profitable.

Such reformation will (and does) attract investors. These are investors who believe in the purpose of the company rather than see the company merely as a target to be strip mined until exhausted, discarded and moved on from.

Western corporations, having enjoyed supremacy in both profitability and market share, now face a growing number of similar businesses within their industries springing up not only in China but in virtually every developing nation as well. They face shrinking market shares, stagnant profits and stalled growth and because these three metrics define their purpose, they are panicking.

American auto companies, for example, who exist to maximize profits for their investors and just so happen to make cars as a means of doing this, should probably have been out of business years ago. Government bailouts have kept them alive artificially. But as nations around the globe begin making their own cars, the goal of perpetually expanding profits and market shares will no longer be feasible (and some can easily argue for Detroit, it already isn't).

Newcomers leveraging the latest in manufacturing technology will not only shrink incumbents' market shares, they will also outcompete them in a variety of ways.

A car company like Elon Musk's Tesla has a purpose; to make affordable electric vehicles and to spur the adoption of EV's worldwide. The company needs to make profits to survive and thrive, but Tesla's purpose has been put first. Tesla can and does brag about profitability when it reaches various milestones, but it demonstrably doesn't seek to achieve these metrics for expansion's and profit's sake, and especially so at the expense of Tesla's purpose.

Each Tesla car model released is the result of groundbreaking research and development and a leap ahead of previous models, unlike Detroit which basically sells the same model of car for years at a time with mainly cosmetic changes made annually for marketing purposes.

BOLIVIA COUP: U.S. Regime Change Operations Explained

November 14, 2019 (21st Century Wire TV)

Yesterday Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned from office, even though he had won his country's elections. Upon closer examination, this crisis has all the elements of a US regime change operation - done in successive steps, and designed to install a US-friendly and US compliant regime in La Paz, and the same template has been used all over the world. How did this happen? UK Column News co-hosts Mike Robinson and Patrick Henningsen have some answers, as they bring you the early week’s headlines from around the world. (This is a clip of the full news program broadcast on Nov 11, 2019). MORE OF OUR NEWS & ANALYSIS HERE: https://21stcenturywire.com/ SUPPORT OUR INDEPENDENT MEDIA OUTLET: https://21wire.tv/membership/plans/

US is the Source of, Not "Solution" to Syrian War

November 12, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - After the supposed US "withdrawal" from Syria - Western media outlets have causally reported on US troops now preparing to occupy Syria's oilfields east of the Euphrates River.

Articles include carefully selected "experts" who avoid any mention of how illegal or indefensible the presence of US forces in Syria is to begin with, let alone any mention of "why" US troops are preparing to "claim" Syria's natural resources.

The Guardian in its piece, "US plans to send tanks to Syria oil fields, reversing Trump troop withdrawal – reports," illustrates a voluntary dereliction of due diligence in investigating or questioning Western actions in Syria.

One is left to assume what the US would claim as its excuse for remaining in Syria - likely based on a narrative of denying terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) and their affiliates access to resources to "fund" their return to the region.

The most obvious and sustainable solution would be to transfer control of Syria's oilfields to Syria itself. Syria has overcome terrorist organizations in all areas Damascus has now restored order to, and with the restoration of its oilfields and related industries, would be in an even better position to both rebuild the nation and defend against the very elements who destroyed it in the first place.

But this assumes that the US is interested in preventing the resurgence of terrorist organizations in the region - ignoring the fact that the US deliberately created them in the first place and deliberately used them to both trigger, then fuel the Syrian war from its very beginning in 2011.

The US is the Source of Syria's War 

As early as 2007, real journalists warned of US plans to bolster opposition groups linked to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda in a bid to undermine Iran and its ally Syria.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, "The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?," would provide an ominous, but crystal-clear warning of what awaited both Syria and the wider region.

Hersh would warn:
The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
The article would mention the Muslim Brotherhood by name and described specific US support under what was then the Bush administration already being funnelled to the group in Syria.

The Brotherhood is an extremist front with direct ties to Al Qaeda and who were at the epicenter of the supposed "Arab Spring" in 2011. From 2011 onward - then under the Obama administration - US support continued in the form of both financial and military aid.

Articles like the New York Time's, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," would admit to billions of dollars worth of arms from the US flowing into Syria to fuel the destructive war.

Despite Western media claims that the Syrian conflict was being fought between the government and "moderate rebels," the US State Department itself admitted that within the first year of fighting, Al Qaeda had already established a dominate position on the battlefield.