Your news highlights

What happens when I’m overwhelmed with work and too many news stories to write individual posts on each one? News roundup, of course!

Russia predictably vetoes resolution on UN MH17 tribunal

I know my readers are probably already heard the news yesterday about Russia vetoing the UNSC resolution to create a tribunal on the matter of MH17. Yeah I know, this is really strange, what with all the official Russian statements that called for an investigation, and Russian state media, the Russian Ministry of Defense, and the Investigative Committee all making public presentations claiming to have evidence that Ukraine downed the passenger flight. Sure, those stories change rapidly and often contradict each other, but they always seem so confident in their case that we’re all shocked to think that Russia wouldn’t want to pillory Ukraine in an international tribunal.

What the reader may not know, however, is that yesterday also saw the release of two brand new MH17 alternate theories, each claiming to have hard evidence that has been verified by absolutely no one.  Even better- these theories not only contradict Russia’s Su-25 hypothesis, whereby MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian air-to-air missile in spite of all hard evidence to the contrary, but one of them even refutes both that and the Ukrainian Buk SAM story.

Lifenews, owned by a die-hard Putin supporter whose son prefers to live in Brooklyn, floated a new theory about a bomb being on the plane. Once again, a Russian “expert” claims to have intercepted radio traffic that “proves” this.

Even better was the hilarious “intercepted phone call” of a CIA agent posing as a BBC correspondent who is heard talking about arranging the shoot-down of MH17 with a Buk. That story was out by the Russian military channel Zvezda, but someone posted an English-language press release on a free press release site, complete with a transcript of the alleged phone conversation and even an audio file for extra hilarity. Marvel at the porno-quality acting.

So who was the culprit? None other than David Stern. No, not the former chairman of the NBA. David L. Stern, secret agent extraordinaire. The “conversation” sounds like some high school freshman’s short story assignment, complete with loads of clunky exposition and info dumps. I’m also pasting one line from the transcript which stands head and shoulders above the others:

X: Have you met with Ukrainian “warriors”? (laughs)

Question for the dipshit that wrote this, who may be posing under the name “Caleb Gilbert.” Why the quotation marks around “warriors?”  This is a transcript of a phone call. Was he making air quotes? Maybe (sarcastic tone) would have been better, but you can’t have quotes in a phone call, moron. And while I’m giving you pointers, work on your exposition. People don’t tell each other things they already know. Secret agents aren’t going to be bantering about all those convenient details in the clear. May I suggest Writing Fiction for Dummies?  Anyway, this obviously contradicts the Russian government’s latest claim that it was a SU25, possibly with an Israeli missile.

On that last note, have you ever noticed how Jewish themes keep appearing in these conspiracy theories? Russian anti-Maidan groups claiming that Ukraine’s leaders have Jewish heritage, David L. Stern, an Israeli missile… It’s almost like they’re implying something sinister about Jews or something.

Forget it. All you have to know is that we now have two more “alternative” hypotheses, including one that is totally new. Why oh why won’t the mainstream media listen to the “Russian side?”

Sputnik pushes the boundaries of idiocy

Sputnik News pushes the envelope of stupidity by publishing “news” about a twin barreled assault rifle that is “NATO’s Worst Nightmare.” I guess it can be likened to a nightmare in the sense that like a bad dream, the AO-63 isn’t real. It was designed, yes, and not in the 60’s as the article claims, but it ended up getting rejected by the Russian military- in the 80’s.

That’s right, Sputnik News is reporting on a rifle that for all intents and purposes doesn’t exist and will never be used by the Russian military, and calling this NATO’s worst nightmare. I don’t even know where to begin with this:

Better firepower, accuracy and repeatability – these are the qualities Russian armorers tried to bring together in the AO-63 twin-barrel assault rifle, this country’s best known of its kind. It was never mass-produced though.

That’s the sub-headline right there. That alone tells us this isn’t a story.

Developed in the 1960s and produced by the Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building (TsNIITochMash), the AO-63 prototype was utterly unique in its approach to voluminous fire, utilizing an over-under, double-barreled configuration.

That’s interesting how it was developed in the 1960’s for a round that didn’t exist until the early 70’s.

It was capable of fully automatic fire, chambered for the 5.45 x 39mm round. Using two barrels it was capable of a whopping 6,000 rpm in a two-round burst and 850 rpm in sustained fire.

That sounds impressive, except when you remember two things: The first is that this means you burn through ammunition more quickly. In WWII the Germans fielded one of the fastest-firing machine guns ever made, the MG42. That was a belt-fed machine gun, however. Even then it ate up ammunition within seconds.

The other reason why this rate of fire is a problem is heat. Modern machine guns have quick-change barrels to deal with this. That assault rifle wouldn’t. Theoretically you could design one with a quick change barrel but why would you? Don’t fix what isn’t broken and don’t give the rifleman more shit to carry.

It also says the barrels were over and under, which makes me wonder about the accuracy of the thing. It would be great in close quarters maybe, but it seems there’d be a substantial difference in aim once you get beyond 50 meters.

The AO-63 assault rifle was briefly part of the project Abakan trials in the mid-1980s, in search of a more accurate alternative for the standard issue AK-47.

For fuck’s sake, Sputnik. You’re in Russia. You could easily find out that the AK-47 was long out of use at that time. Even before the AK74 came along, the USSR had been using the modernized AKM.

Its main downside stemmed from its complexity of construction and assembly, which eventually pushed the army to choose the the easier-to-build AN-93, better known as the AN-94 Abakan.

Yeah that and the utter absurdity of the concept. As for the AN-94, this was an impressive weapon but Russia had been talking about replacing the AK74M with this thing since about 2000-2001, and I think they only officially declined it around 2012. As far as I know most troops still use the AK74M.

The AO-63 twin-barrel assault rifle which instilled so much fear in the hearts of NATO intelligence analysts never entered service, making way for simpler and more traditional designs.

Uh yeah…Where’s the evidence that NATO intelligence analysts ever expressed any fear or worry about this experimental weapon? If I had been in their shoes and someone told me about a double-barreled assault rifle, my reaction would be: “Huh? Why would you build that?”  It’s got that much going against it.

Even though the AO-63 was never produced, the need for a weapon capable of firing twice as many rounds per minute as a conventional one is still existent and Russian armorers are hard at work to come up with a wonder weapon of the future…

I’ve seen no evidence that this need exists. I also don’t see how a double-barreled assault rifle, or any assault rifle for that matter, could be a “wonder weapon.” But even if Russia does make some real wonder weapons, they can’t really afford them.

I think things like Sputnik News is a good example how Russia’s decision to wage a propaganda offensive leads to a total abandonment of any sort of quality. The Russian media will hire anyone who speaks English, if even that, and they put out pretty much anything because they have told themselves that confusion and saturation are a viable strategy. All this really does is make Russia look insane to the rest of the world.

The problem with lowering the quality like this is that the lower you go, the dumber the people it appeals to. If they argue that this kind of thing gets more views and is thus more pervasive, then they’re right, hands down. But it’s the quality of the audience that counts, and anyone with minimal critical thinking skills finds a lot of this material laughable.


What in the Actual Fuck is This?

A lot of my readers come from Reddit when someone links to one of my articles. But just the other day I found this. If this subreddit is a parody, it’s beautiful. If it’s not- God help us all. I mean look at this:


I don’t even know where to begin with that. This falls under the label of “not even wrong.” If this isn’t a parody, I’m sure some dipshit at the troll factory in St. Petersburg is convinced this is really effective.

In fact, looking at this and other examples of English-language Kremlin propaganda, I’m wondering if the line of reasoning behind this ever-decreasing quality is similar to that used by those who engage in those “Nigerian” 419 email scams. People will read those emails and laugh, baffled at how anyone could possibly fall for such a poorly written hook. But that’s just it- scammers send out waves of spam that is purposely aimed at the lowest common denominator.

Think about it- suppose they write a message with perfect spelling and grammar, complete with detailed explanations and sources about why they need to get all this money out of their country. It may be enough to convince someone to respond, but if they had to be convinced, it means they’ve got some measure of skepticism. Since these scams take a long time to pull off, there’s a danger of wasting time and effort if the person starts asking questions down the line. So the solution is you write something to appeal to the dumbest people out there. Anybody stupid enough to reply with interest is unlikely to ask any questions down the line.

Of course Russian propaganda isn’t aimed at scamming anyone out of money, but they do seem to have an interest in getting independent bloggers, writers, journalists, and activists to propagate their narratives and regurgitate their talking points. Some of these folks made their entire career off of just taking whatever side is saying the opposite of their own government, but a lot of them do care about credibility or respectability, and obviously people who can get beyond the whole “my country right or wrong” mentality have to possess some critical thinking skills. For the former reason, these people may be somewhat useful to the Kremlin, but they can also be unreliable, failing to repeat those talking points they don’t agree with or criticizing the Russian government at times. Abby Martin is a perfect example of this- useful, but too unreliable as  a mouthpiece due to a pesky thing all Russian propagandists hate known as principles.

So what you do is put out even dumber propaganda, so the people you hook repeat your bullshit without question, even if it just means sharing it all over Facebook. This person attracts others like them. At the very least, you have advantage in numbers.

Anyway, that’s just a hypothesis. There’s no way I can verify it, though others might investigate. At least it would explain a lot.

14 thoughts on “Your news highlights

  1. Sohryu_L

    >As for the AN-94, this was an impressive weapon but Russia had been talking about replacing the AK74M with this thing since about 2000-2001, and I think they only officially declined it around 2012. As far as I know most troops still use the AK74M.

    I think they trialled the AK-12 and the AEK-971 (as A-545 and A-762) only last year before sending it to active units for evaluation.

    Those guns have yet to show up in Donbass, though.

    1. Callum Carmichael

      One wonders why. I mean, the Russian/Soviet army has been talking about replacing the AK-74 since it was introduced, practically, but they’ve never done it. And really, why would they? The AK-74M and its variants work just fine. With a few simple modifications, they can bolt on any scopes or lasers or grenade launchers they need. The weapon doesn’t have any big problems with accuracy or recoil or reliability and is fairly lightweight and ergonomic. What would they get out of spinding millions a new gun that works maybe slightly better?

      I guess too many of the RFAF procurment people play Call of Duty and get a little “kit envy”.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I used to be an AN-94 fan and all the reviews I read about it were impressive. I suspect the problem was probably its size. It always looked big and bulky and when I recently saw one in Tula that was confirmed. Also they claimed it was as simple or simpler than the Kalashnikov but I’ve seen the exploded diagrams and I was skeptical.

        In any case, if they wanted to improve accuracy they’d need a professional army where every gets real marksmanship training.

        And as for the AK, they ought to fix the ergonomic issues with it. This is where the AR shines through because of its early failures. Failure forces you to revise and improve. The AK always worked, so its problems, few though they may have been, weren’t resolved, at least in Russia and the USSR. The only AK variant I know of with a bolt hold open is the Zastavas from Yugoslavia.

      2. Callum Carmichael

        I’ll confess that I did like the way the AK-12 disassembled (but then I was trained on an a C7-A2 AR clone in the Canadian Army so maybe I’m biased) but I hated the rest of the gun.

        I would think a bolt hold-open would be a fairly easy modification to make without needing a whole new gun.

        But yeah, the training thing is kinda what I was getting at. If they had a better trained, not-tortured-one-year-conscrip army, they could probably go back to the SVT-40 and still do better than they do now.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I think in the US there might be mods that give your AK a bolt hold-open. But my biggest beef was the feed system. Yeah, I know, with practice it’s really easy and you can train yourself to do it very quickly, but the thing with the AR and anything with a magazine well is that NO training is necessary. Rectangle goes into rectangle-shaped hole. Done.

      4. Callum Carmichael

        I dunno, a lot of HK guns use the same mag catch and it seems to work. There are some definite advantages to the STANAG if you want to reload really fast though. That said, I did notice an annoying trend in the C7 to refuse to feed on a full mag unless you tuned the whole thing on its side and slapped the bottom of the mag like it owed you money. Might just have been shitty old springs.

      5. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Most of those AR problems are from shitty mags. Now that Pmags are popular in the US military(at least from what I’ve seen in pictures), I’m sure failure to feed issues have been drastically reduced.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Dafuq did I just see? I actually did watch that Art of the Tactical Carbine and I was a bit miffed that they never explained the instructors’ qualifications. Their prone position is totally different than what I was taught since long before I got in the army. Then again, things may have changed.

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