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Snopes for CIA in al-Sham, Onion for State in Russia?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- perhaps it's time we took the evident upside-downness of the world more upside-down-seriously ]
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icon of St Vladimir Putin

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I’ve run across death by crucifix twice this week, once in an episode of Sons of Anarchy, and once in what purported to be an image of a Christian girl repeatedly raped and gruesomely killed by ISIS — but which turned out to be an anti-Islamic propaganda piece photo-shopped from a promotional video by Canadian special effects artist Remy Couture, who was apparently looking to improve the “realistic” quality of horror movies — Snopes ferreted out the details

It might be good if CIA inserted Snopes in ISIS-held territory, to verify stories like this one, from Niqash:

war of flags: extremists in mosul disguise civilian houses to fool air strikes

Abu Omar decided to leave his house in Mosul and take his family to other accommodation. The reason? A member of the Sunni Muslim extremist group known as the Islamic State climbed onto the roof of his home recently and planted one of the group’s distinctive black flags there. The flag makes his family and his home a target for allied air strikes, Abu Omar, as he wished to be known for security reasons, told NIQASH.

But when his family tried to leave, they were shocked to find that fighters from the Islamic State, or IS, group told them that they couldn’t leave.

At a meeting in Abu Omar’s house in the Al Arabi neighbourhood of Mosul, he says he feels sure that his family will be killed now.

Sadly, Abu Omar and his family are not the only ones to get a black IS flag on their property. There are dozens of other families who are facing a similar situation around Mosul.

If true, this is a curious abuse of the “black banners from Khorasan” about which I’ve frequently posted. If untrue, it’s an interesting propaganda smear that might just give the “caliphate” ideas… but who, at this distance, can tell?

Snopes could be a real asset in situations like this ..

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To be honest, hwoever, it would take a select group of reporters from the Onion working for State’s hashtag diplomacy unit to beat the one-woman campaign to recognize Vladimir Putin as a saint — see the icon at the head of this post.

The story is told thus in a recent Time magazine blog-post:

According to Der Spiegel, a sect of the Russian Orthodox Church based in the village of Bolshaya Elnya believes Putin is a reincarnation of St. Paul. The similarity apparently lies in the fact that Paul the Apostle persecuted Christians before sainthood, just as Putin did some unrighteous things as a Soviet KGB officer.

Led by Mother Fotina, who considers herself a reincarnation of Joan of Arc, the female followers in the village spread out prayer mats at a homemade altar in a functional three-story brick building – called the Chapel of Russia’s Resurrection – and pray for the success of their (political) patron saint.

“God has appointed Putin to Russia to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ,” said Fotina. “He has the spirit of a czar in him…Every day we’ve prayed for him to return to the Kremlin.”

And once again, BTW, we get that “end times” theme cropping up..

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Photographic enantiodromia at the Zaynab shrine?

Friday, September 20th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron -- in recognition that Photoshop is a weapon that can turn enemies into friends, at least within Photoshop! ]
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How to describe this? It’s a DoubleQuote in Two Tweets from Phillip Smyth in which [Almost] the Same Photo of a Guy with an Israeli Rifle Poses on Both Sides of the Conflict around the Sayyida Zaynab Shrine in Southern Damascus:

So the guy in the original photo does a bit of an enantiondromia thanks to Photoshop…

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For some in depth reading:

  • On the Shia side of things, see Phillip Smyth‘s Hizballah Cavalcade posts at Jihadology.
  • For the same on the Sunni side, see Aymenn Al-Tamimi‘s Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril series, also on Jihadology.
  • And for both and all else, well, there’s always Aaron Zelin‘s Jihadology itself!
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    WYSIWYG

    Friday, January 18th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- what you see is what you get: WYSIWYG -- and possibly also TEOTWAWKI ]
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    See buildings, walls, handrails, reflections, rows of windows, and people he’s walking past vanish and reappear as a man dressed for mountain climbing sets out into a blizzard of snow, video snow and special effects…

    Hat-tip — Shlok Vaidya.

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    We knew that Iran could photoshop extra rockets into a widely distributed news image –

    and that Russian dissidents could makeover Kirill as his friend Putin

    But the video above, with it’s vanishing and reappearing everythings? Simple — it’s a stunning portrayal of just what patience and skill can manage with video tampering using Photoshop CS5 or the like. Hence — this may also be the time to announce TEOTWAWKI. The end of the world as we know it. As we believe we know it.

    You only need one of those effects, remember, to fake out a geopolitical tipping point…

    Watcher, beware.

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    But then there’s my friend Howard Rheingold, who points out that our whole world is a constructed reality:

    We habitually think of the world we see as “out there,” but what we are seeing is really a mental model, a perceptual simulation that exists only in our brains. …

    Cognitive simulation — mental model-making — is what humans do best. We do it so well that we tend to become locked into our own models of the world by a seamless web of unconscious beliefs and subtly molded perceptions. And computers are model-making tools par excellence, although they are only beginning to approach the point where people might confuse simulations with reality.

    That’s a quote from his piece in Brenda Laurel‘s 1990 classic Art of Human-Computer Interface Design — and it seems to grow more prescient by the day!

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    Three topics, at least somewhat related, we can maybe talk about later:

  • Who it was that spread the word about the Innocence of Muslims trainer.
  • The disputed Muhammad al-Durrah incident at the Netzarim junction. And
  • Zero Dark Thirty.

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