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Rich Pickings

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — my laptop keyboard is malfunctioning — my fault — but thanks to MS on-screen keyboard, I’m able to post here ]
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How’s this for a DoubleQuote?

I thought I was getting a wee bit tired of screen-grabs from items in my FB, Twitter and newsfeeds, but this one caught me by surprise — too good to miss!

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And then there were others:

Alex Jones admitting to psychosis as the explanation for his — extremely profitable, until Twitter banned him this week — conspiracy theories, when his earlier excuse was that he was an entertainer, just kidding.. that too was striking and worth capture.

Firing squad was one of those five-star ***** instances that I’d want to include in any definitive collection of best war metaphors..

And a few more:

That last screen-grab, as you’d have learned from the sound-track, features three inset images for three black churches burned..

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This one’s important:

Designating a state actor a terrorist organization goes against most definitions of terrorism, which apply the term to non-state actions only, thereby making the compilation of stats for all sorts of comparative purposes, an already difficult task, even more troublesome — for an excellent overview by the leading authority on terrorism definition, see Alex Schmid, The Revised Academic Consensus Definition of Terrorism

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L’affaire Nielsen:

Neal Katyal, who wrote the Special Counsel rules:

Then there’s

President Trump:

Get rid of judges ..
Say.. say, Judge, I an’t do it ..

Then:

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Hardball:

Chris Matthews:

He comes off as a football owner who keeps changing managers .. or coaches

Eating their own..

You start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying..

And:

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All In:

You’re Fired!

Chris Hayes:

One big part of the reason that Donald Trump is our President is because a good number of people believe that the TV character Donald Trump was a real thing, thanks to the years he spent on national TV on our parent network of course, building up a reputation as a successful, self-made tough tycoon, not afraid to make the tough calls when the tough calls needed calling..

Most of us now know that the reality show Trump is not quite the reality we got. And as we saw yet again today, when it came time to deploy that famous tag-line, there seems to be some stage-fright ..

There has been so much turnover in just over two years of the Trump administration that the Washington Post was compelled to produce this graphic, which looks like a game of chutes, ladders, and people who will never get their reputations back:

It’s been 01 day since a high-profile departure from the Trump administration

And so forth..

m 55 Michelle Goldberg:The conventional language of American politics are just not up to describing ..

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Rachel Maddow:

Quite a DoubleQuote, Rachel!

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And from Velshi, 4/9/2019:

— a sequence on what Trump has offered at the altar of Netanyahu, to help with his election:

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BTW, FB:

I think that does it.net

Lt Christopher Hasson and religion, also Breivik, Rudolph

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — calling Hasson a “domestic terrorist” is a good first step, noting that he’s fulfilling Breivik’s hope that his manifesto will train others is a second, and checking out his religious ideas would be a third ]
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I’ve seen a fair amount of coverage of Lt. Hasson as a domestic terrorist, focusing on his weaponry, his target database, and his dream of killing “almost every last person on the earth” — but nothing taking explicit note of his views on religion.

The New York Times reported him as saying:

Please send me your violence that I may unleash it onto their heads. Guide my hate to make a lasting impression on this world. So be it.

That phrasing struck me as strange, being the only part of his writings addressed to a second party. In context, however, it seems likelynto be a form of prayer — it is immediately preceded by one of the very few religious references in the document:

Gun rights people will never rise, need religious to stand up.

Coming immediately after that, it strikes me that “Please send me your violence .. Guide my hate ..” certainly could and perhaps should be read as prayers. Their address to a second party seems like a tell to me.

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The only other religious reference I saw in Hasson’s writings as the court provided them followed immediately on the question, “Who and how to provoke???” And reads:

New idea this weekend, R/E orthodox as a way to influence?

I take that to be a reference to Russian / Eastern Orthodoxy. Other meanings for “R/E” I’ve seen include “Real Estate”, “Retained Earnings” and “Revolutionary/Evolutionary” — none of which make any sense in the context followed by “orthodox”.

Further, Hasson thought of Russia as a resistant to the values he despised, writing:

Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism. Exclusive of course the muslim scum. Who rightfully despise the west’s liberal degeneracy….

It seems to me he likely shares Anders Breivik’s general “cultural Christianity” if not Christianity itself — and given the well-documented closeness of Putin and Patriarch Kirill, and their general joint approach melding religious and patriotic ideation, and indeed Church and State together, it would make sense that Hasson “Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes” would include his viewing Orthodoxy, at least in its Russian form, as a bulwark against “the west’s liberal degeneracy”.

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I checked with Anders Breivik’s Manifesto, which Hasson studied with care, following many of Breivik’s instructions, and didn’t find any suggestion that Orthodoxy was Breivik’s preferred form of Christianity for the purposes of resisting degeneracy. In fact his instructions for citizens of his revised western culture include the section title, “Convert to Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant)”, with the further explanation:

Every individual is to accept baptism, the ritual act by which one is admitted to membership of the Christian Church, as a member of the particular Church in which the baptism is administered.

Orthodoxy is named in that section title before Catholicism and Protestantism, but I don’t think that proves much of anything. In another section, describing the origin of the St George cross as a Templar emblem, Breivik writes:

Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Eastern Catholic Churches.

— a pretty comprehensive list of “high” churches – but not one that prioritizes one over the others.

I’d also note that Hasson briefly references with approval the writings of Eric Rudolph, the anti-abortion activist and Olympic Park bomber, who described his faith thus:

I was born a Catholic, and with forgiveness I hope to die one.

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All in all, there’s not much in the court papers of a religious nature, but the one real hint we have seems to point to Putin and the Patriarch as powerful allies in his white supremacist fight.

I have a huge dose of chyrons and a great ouroboros

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — chyrons as news haiku, and various news and docu screengrabs ]
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I’ve described chyrons — those verbal banners in the bottom third or fifth of a TV news screen — as the newsperson’s haiku. Headlines have long served a similar purpose, with their writers, seldom the authors credited with the articles in question, preferring puns to emphasis — puns, the “lowest form of wit” as they are sometimes mistakenly termed, James Joyce qv.

Chyrons, now — shorter than most headlines, and therefore tighter in their demands — are an art-form that sometimes calls forth subtlety and wit. I love them, not least because they’re visual verbals.. combining the eye-catching quality of the visual with the point-making clarity of the verbal — a double hit.

Here, then, from today’s haul of yesterday’s chyrons:

That’s the killer — a major war. Here are two more for context:

And let’s not forget ISIS:

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Here’s a sporting metaphor — I suppose I should say, both literal and figurative?

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Two versions of Roger Stone‘s fight:

And Dems fighting words, with flying without a pilot as a bonus:

CNN for a change, and the tax returns — so many, many fights!

Back to MSNBC:

Comic strip!

And an MRI instance, medicin aat its most inquisitive:

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Okay, a screengrab from the documentary on the Oslo and Otoya terrorist actions by Anders Breivik, 22 JulyBreivik as network cog and Knight Templar:

Oh hell, let’s close with two grabs from another docu, Evil Genius, first episode, the first grab noting the way a scavenger hunt was part of the bank-heist murder:

And the second demonstrating the route the scavenger hunt was designed to take, marked on the map in red — note the arrow at the end of the trail landing up where it had started — a clear and fascinating image of ouroboros:

Too good to miss! And that’s it for now..

Coming at Putin-Trump from an oblique angle

Friday, February 1st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — a kleptocratic analysis ]
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There’s a different take on what liberals take to be the narrative Mueller will finally spell out (and Trump dispute) in its full Dostoevskian despair and glory: it’s to be found in Masha Gessen‘s New Yorker piece, The Trump-Russia Investigation and the Mafia State:

What we are observing is not most accurately described as the subversion of American democracy by a hostile power. Instead, it is an attempt at state capture by an international crime syndicate. What unites Yanukovych, Veselnitskaya, Manafort, Stone, WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange, the Russian troll factory, the Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos and his partners in crime, the “Professor” (whose academic credentials are in doubt), and the “Female Russian National” (who appears to have fraudulently presented herself as Putin’s niece) is that they are all crooks and frauds. This is not a moral assessment, or an attempt to downplay their importance. It is an attempt to stop talking in terms of states and geopolitics and begin looking at Mafias and profits.

Just to ensure we don’t think she’s arrived at her conclusion via a hint from Mueller, Gessen specifically notes:

I’m not invoking the Mob because Stone encouraged an associate to behave like a character from “The Godfather Part II,” as detailed in his indictment.

To wit:

On multiple occasions, including on or about December 1, 2017, STONE told Person 2 that Person 2 should do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’ before [U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] in order to avoid contradicting STONE’s testimony. Frank Pentangeli is a character in the film The Godfather: Part II, which both STONE and Person 2 had discussed, who testifies before a congressional committee and in that testimony claims not to know critical information that he does in fact know.

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Nope, she’s on a different tack entirely — has been since the very beginning:

From the first allegations, in July, 2016, of Russian meddling in the U.S. election campaign to the arrest of President Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone last week, many of us who write about Russia professionally, or who are Russian, have struggled to square what we know with the emerging narrative. In this story, Russia waged a sophisticated and audacious operation to subvert American elections and install a President of its choice—it pulled off a coup. Tell that to your average American liberal, and you’ll get a nod of recognition. Tell it to your average Russian liberal (admittedly a much smaller category), and you’ll get uproarious laughter. Russians know that their state lacks the competence to mount a sophisticated sabotage effort, that the Kremlin was even more surprised by Trump’s election than was the candidate himself, and that Russian-American relations are at their most dysfunctional since the height of the Cold War. And yet the indictments keep coming.

If that piques your interest as it piqued mine — by all means read Ms Gessen‘s piece in its entirety. Me, about now I’d be very interested in Ambassador McFaul‘s take.

And Julia Ioffe‘s.

Forget religion, it’s all politics!

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos ]
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Holy Athos

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Forget religion, it’s all politics!

Thee title of the Guardian piece, which came to me via my admired scholar friend Michael Robinson, is Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos. Michael pointed it my way because “holy Mount Athos” — not because “Ukraine-Russia tensions”.

Nevertheless, forget religion, it’s all politics! (a popular refrain in our secular-dominant world)..

“Ukraine is an independent country and deserves its own church,” Makarios told the visiting Belarusians, who nodded dubiously. His view is not shared by all: a Ukrainian monk based at Makarios’s cell, Father Agafon, had a different opinion, calling those Ukrainians in favour of an independent church “splitters and heretics” and saying the Ukrainian church should remain under the control of Moscow.

and:

Although most of the monks on Athos are Greek, for many Russians, as well as Ukrainians and Belarusians, a pilgrimage to Mount Athos has become almost like an Orthodox version of the Islamic hajj, seen as a spiritual must for any true believer. Oligarchs and government elites particularly like the peninsula, with its difficult-to-obtain permits and air of a VIP club. In the weeks prior to the Guardian’s visit, Makarios said he had hosted a Belarusian army general, a number of Ukrainian MPs and several rich Russians at his austere cell.

Makarios’ austere breakfast, btw, is coffee and nuts — for the visiting generals, MPS and rich folk, too..

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Forget religion, it’s all violence and strategy!

With a meeting in Kiev on Saturday set to formally proclaim the church’s independence, some are predicting violence if Kiev tries to seize church property from the Moscow patriarchy.

Subtitle of the piece:

Orthodox church’s decision to make Ukrainian branch independent of Russia causes schism and predictions of violence

and:

M:alofeev blamed the Americans for the turmoil, claiming that “Pyatt is trying to stir up the same things he did in Ukraine” in Greece. He also claimed Bartholomew’s entourage was “infiltrated with CIA agents” and said the decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian church could lead to violence in Ukraine and Athos to split with the ecumenical patriarch.

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Forget religion, it’s all money!

One Russian who has been particularly active on Athos is Konstantin Malofeev, a businessman known as the “Orthodox oligarch”, who is currently on EU and US sanctions lists for his alleged role in funding the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

and:

He insisted that most of Athos was united in its loyalty to the ecumenical patriarch, but conceded that the feeling was not unanimous. “There are some monks who just love Russian money,” he said with a sigh.

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Forget religion, it’s quintessentially religion..

For centuries, Orthodox men have come to Mount Athos, a closed peninsula in northern Greece, to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world. The only entrance is by boat, and women are strictly forbidden to set foot on the territory. Male pilgrims, after receiving a special permit, can visit to confess and seek counsel from the 2,000 monks at the 20 monasteries and smaller “cells” dotted along the hilly shoreline. It is one of the holiest sites of Orthodoxy, the eastern form of Christianity that split with Catholicism in the 11th century.

Monks enter Athos “to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world,” okay?

Athos runs on Byzantine time, an archaic system in which the clocks are reset each day at sunset, and it uses the Julian calendar, rendering Athos 13 days behind the rest of the western world. At sunset the monasteries shut their gates and a stillness settles on the peninsula until the bells ring for morning liturgy.

“People come here to try to be saints, and leave the difficulties of the world behind,” said Father Porfirius, a 27-year-old Greek monk. “The hardest part is to kill your will. We try to destroy it, to get to the level of obedience of Jesus Christ.”

Patriarch vs Patriarch (with Putin Plus):

All is not well in Orthodoxy currently, with a split linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine causing a schism and dark talk of violence among the various Orthodox churches. Bartholomew of Constantinople, known as the ecumenical patriarch and the “first among equals” of the Orthodox patriarchs, agreed in October to give autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox church, essentially making it an independent church. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian church, which regards Ukraine as its domain, responded furiously and announced a split from the ecumenical patriarch.

and:

Kirill has banned Russians from taking holy communion in the churches of Athos, calling any priests who bless the ecumenical patriarch schismatics, leading to a dilemma for those Russians who want to visit.

Schism is about as bad as it gets within Christianity. The Pope and the Patriarch are currently trying, with some little success, to heal a schism between Catholics and Orthodox which began as a dispute over a clause in the major credal statement — the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed — which broke the two major branches of the Church, east and west, apart in 1054. That’s more than a millennium of strife between brothers whose savior prayed at the end of his life [John 17.22-23]:

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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Okay, kudos to Guardian writer Shaun Walker for knowing the importance of religious reporting of issues that also have economic, strategic, political aspects!

And let’s conclude with a link to this related Orthodox prayer page:

:Concerning the Orthodox Prayers for the Union of All and the Prayer in St. John 17
Excerpts from Ecumenism: A Movement for Union or a Syncretistic Heresy?
by Bishop Angelos of Avlona


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