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Archive for March, 2015

The paradoxical roles of luxury cars in the lives of the women of IS

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — not particularly anxious to own a BMW — but did I once win a Rolls for a night of Bach at the Hollywood Bowl ]



  • Belfast Telegraph, Jihadi brides with BMW M5s
  • Dabiq, issue #8 p.34, The Twin Halves of the Muhajirin
  • So we’re somewhat fond of the Dunya after all, ladies?

    And now, the “Most Dangerous” finalists

    Monday, March 30th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a man vs machine contest, with the betting shops favoring.. ]

    The semi-finals have been conducted, contested and concluded, with judges Elon Musk:

    and The Republicans:


    The final round is upon us.

    In a definitive Man vs Machine match to be adjudicated by The Turn of Events, we shall see whether artifical intelligence, slouching towards Bethlehem, is more dangerous than the sitting President, suffering under — or perhaps liberated by — the two-term limit on his office..

    Who or what will win the Most Dangerous of All belt, and end-of-the world cash prize that goes with it?

    According to noted statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight..

    Trolls not Elves: a Putinesque Christmas

    Monday, March 30th, 2015

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

    Troll factory


    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?
    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


  • 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….


    ….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.

    Break it Down Show – LTG Daniel P. Bolger

    Monday, March 30th, 2015

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

    Friend of ZP, Pete Turner and his partner Jon interview LTG Daniel P. Bolger, author of Why We Lost, at The Break it Down Show:

    The General’s Account – With Daniel P. Bolger 

    This is a great episode, a “must listen” event – insurgency, accountability, the GRU, the Taliban, counterinsurgency theory, ISIS, Boko Haram, strategy, “powerpoint generals”, ” the Fulda Gap Model”, ” we are the most irresponsible superpower in any era that I am aware of” and…..More!

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