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It’s how we / they roll

Friday, May 1st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron – neither am I a biker, nor encased in armor ]
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SPEC DQ how we roll

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The Army puts on a heavy metal tour of Eastern Europe for Mr Putin

  • Three American armored convoys today converged in Czech Republic’s capital on tour of Eastern Europe
  • Vehicles have traveled more than 1,000 miles through Poland and the Baltic States as warning to Putin
  • Countries in the region are nervous after Russian annexation of Crimea and military unrest in the area
  • The Dragoon Ride convoy began in three separate branches; one in Talinn, Estonia, one in Vilnius, Linthuania and one in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland.

    **

    An ultra-nationalist Russian biker gang is invading Europe, and Poland isn’t happy

    Not many motorbike groups can claim to have a head of state as a supporter, but the case of Russia’s Night Wolves is an exception. President Vladimir Putin has publicly embraced the group, and after Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, the Night Wolves were quick to parade through Crimea’s streets.

    Their next ride, however, will be less trouble-free. After the group announced that it was planning a ride through Europe to celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, Poland denied the bikers access to the country. Many eastern Europeans saw something else in the ride: a ridiculing of the victims of the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

    Originally, the group wanted to travel from Russia to Berlin, passing through Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria and imitating the conquest of the Soviet Union from more than half a century ago, according to AFP. Rally organizer Andrei Bobrovsky told the French news agency that the main goal of the trip was “to pay respect to those killed on WWII battlefields in the struggle against Hitler’s Nazis.”

    **

    Image sources:

  • Libya 360, US Dragoon Ride through Eastern Europe
  • US Convoy March is ‘Shocking Spectacle Fitting Imperialistic Ambitions’
  • Washington Post, Putin rides with the Night Wolves
  • An ultra-nationalist Russian biker gang is invading Europe, and Poland isn’t happy
  • Sunday surprise: a couple of apocalyptic footnotes

    Sunday, April 26th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — because they don’t deserve posts of their own, but I can’t resist posting them anyway ]
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    Krasheninnikov prophecies about antichrist and mark of the beast:

    Russian Orthodox adolescent Vyatcheslav Krasheninnikov said the following.

  • Airplanes that go down are hit by demons because they need the airspace to fight Jesus.
  • Dinosaurs live under our level. They will get out through sinkholes and lakes.
  • There will be hole to the abyss in China with radiation.
  • With blood transfusion, sins transfer.
  • Boiled water is dead.
  • Scientists will make a device that will allow people to see demons in the dark.
  • Icons of Jesus will be on the nose of airplanes: similar in submarines.
  • So much for Russia. In the US, meanwhile…

    President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner said:

    Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now, that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean, Lincoln, Washington, they didn’t do that.

    **

    There are plenty of serious things to be said about apocalypses secular and sacred — but the end of the world is also an endless source of the quirkiest imaginative leaps and punchlines.

    i though Scott in particular might enjoy the prediction about the noses of airplanes and submarines…

    Trolls not Elves: a Putinesque Christmas

    Monday, March 30th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a factory for words — ugh! ]
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    Troll factory

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    In American folklore, a Christmas elf is a diminutive creature (elf) that lives with Santa Claus in the North Pole and acts as his helper.

    Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty has a fasacinating account in which One Professional Russian Troll Tells All. I’m gonna quote that piece extensively without putting it in blockquotes, since it has blockquotes, italics and illustrations of its own. Between the double asterisks immediately below and the double asterisks following them, then, you won’t find my words but those of RFE/RL, drawn in two gobbits from their piece.

    Here’s the skinny on how it works, followed by the part that really caught my interest, dealing (obliquely) as it does with the Putin and the Patriarch theme.

    **

    RFE/RL: So what did your department do?

    Burkhard: Our department commented on posts. Every city and village in Russia has its own municipal website with its own comments forum. People would write something on the forum — some kind of news — and our task was to comment on it. We did it by dividing into teams of three. One of us would be the “villain,” the person who disagrees with the forum and criticizes the authorities, in order to bring a feeling of authenticity to what we’re doing. The other two enter into a debate with him — “No, you’re not right; everything here is totally correct.” One of them should provide some kind of graphic or image that fits in the context, and the other has to post a link to some content that supports his argument. You see? Villain, picture, link.

    [ .. ]

    RFE/RL: Does the Villain have a role in such assignments?
     
    Burkhard:
    If something is pro-Putin, the Villain will have doubts. For example, for Orthodox Christmas, Putin went to Mass at an ordinary village church outside Voronezh and there was sweetness and light all around. A story gets posted along the lines of, "How wonderful, how marvelous, how great, what an amazing man he is." But the Villain disagrees: "OK, come on, Putin went to Voronezh to boost his popularity with the public." To which we answer, "What's the matter with you, what popularity are you talking about? Yes, he's popular, but he doesn't need popularity, he just wants to meet with ordinary people." That's a funny example.

    Next Assignment

    Topic: Build a positive attitude toward the domestic policies of Vladimir Putin; the president personally celebrated Christmas with ordinary Russians.
     
    Keywords: president rf, putin news, putin policies, christmas, vladimir putin
     
    Again, the assignment begins with a post published on a LiveJournal account. The post about Putin is prefaced by a fragment from a poem by Marina Tsvetayeva, "It's a sin to soar over a golden-domed chapel and not to pray in it," which in this context seems to take on a double meaning. 

    Christmas unites!
     
    The blessed holiday of the Nativity is upon us. And on such a miraculous day, which unites all citizens of Russia — no matter whether you're a believer or, as they say, "unchurched" — on the way to the Lord, the Russian president VP was, as always, with the people! Where else but in the provinces, far away from the urban hustle and bustle, is it possible to really experience this holy day? So this year Vladimir Putin visited the village church in honor of the Holy Virgin, located near Voronezh in the village of Otradnoye. And on such a holiday, one of the main holidays in Russia (and in the entire Christian church), at such a difficult time the president was with the people and congratulated all the clerics and faithful parishioners!

    On the Barnaul forum, the Link Troll kicks things off with praise and a link to a December 31 vesti.ru article, Putin Congratulates Obama And Reminds Him Of The Principles Of Mutual Respect.

    "Great article! By the way, the president of Russia, also congratulated the American president, the German chancellor, and other Western politicians on New Year's Eve. He's to be commended for expressing his peaceful intentions and conducting normal policy — something that's hard to get from Barack Obama."

    The Villain Troll appears incensed:

    "And what did you find that was so totally amazing in his Christmas message??? I don't understand!!! Vladimir Putin is an ordinary person!! So what if he's the president?? If I get on TV and wish everyone a nice Christmas, will you write a nice article about me too??? Finally we've found something to talk about!"

    The Picture Troll posts a photo of Putin at the church and retorts:

    "This is idiotic! Putin is our president. And it's really great that he went to a village church to congratulate everyone on the holiday. Christmas is a miracle. I envy the congregation. I would have loved to have been there on that great holiday."

    .

    Elsewhere, on the Yekaterinburg forum, the Villain Troll attacks Putin's Christmas appearance as a stunt aimed at distracting the public from the country's massive economic woes:

    "Give your neighbor a sack of buckwheat this year!! Now that's a good deed!!! Vladimir Putin represents everything that awaits us in the future!! He just went to pray for his ass and ask for forgiveness. He's driven the country straight to hell, and now what can he do??? Pray, and that's it!"

    The Picture Troll issues a stern reprimand, illustrated with a bucolic photo from the scene:

    "Good lord, your language! Christmas is a blessed holiday, and here you are swearing. It's not worth it. There's enough buckwheat for everyone, our country will survive the anti-Russian sanctions, no problem. So I congratulate everyone on a blessed holiday and wish everyone peace and goodness. Especially YOU!"

    .

    And thus the troika spends the day sweeping through 35 forums. 

    **

    Oh, well — or Ah, hell:

    SPEC social media manipulation UK US

    Sources:

  • British army creates team of Facebook warriors
  • Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
  • And as JM Berger and Jonathan Morgan have exhaustively documented, terrorists do it too.

    New Article: “Who Lost Russia?” at The Chicago Progressive

    Monday, March 30th, 2015

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

    I have a new piece up at The Chicago Progressive:

    Who Lost Russia?

    If you are old enough to remember the iconic moment when Boris Yeltsin climbed on a tank on CNN and defied leaders of a KGB coup and then watched seventy years of Soviet communism swiftly collapse, you are old enough to know that Russia did not ever need to become our enemy again. And Russia, whose siloviki regime of President Vladimir Putin is absurdly threatening Denmark with nuclear war, sponsoring insurgents in Ukraine and flirting with fascism at home, officially regards the United States as the main enemy. It did not have to be this way. A question that should be asked, not by historians but by American citizens of their leaders, a question that is not being asked by our media:

    “Who lost Russia?”

    There is plenty of blame to go around – and we should not be shy about admitting our share….

    and

    ….The Russian state, moreover, is hollow. Were Putin to die tomorrow or become seriously ill, there’s no assurance of an orderly transition of power to a legitimate successor. Or even that Russia would, in the medium term, not begin to disintegrate as did the Soviet Union before it. The world can ill-afford the emergence of a Weimar Russia, isolated, deeply hostile but politically unstable and bristling with the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons….

    Read the rest here, at The Chicago Progressive.

    The battle flags of religion

    Sunday, March 29th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — vexilla regis prodeunt, comparative version ]
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    Two recent examples of religious iconography on the battle field.. from the Badr Brigade, outside Amerli, Iraq:

    badr brigade

    and from Pro-Russia fighters near the eastern Ukrainian city of Starobeshevo:

    Christ flag

    **

    The Vexilla regis is a hymn written by Venantius Fortunatus to welcome the procession bringing a fragment of the True Cross to St Radegunda‘s convent in Poitiers: the first line translates to “The banners of the king go forth”.

    Here it is, illustrated with battle flags flown by Catholic and Royalist troops during the War in the Vendée:

    **

    Sources:

  • Iraq
  • Ukraine

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