European Leaders- Man Who Starts War and Denies Involvement Is Reliable Partner in Ending War

PARIS– French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel see Russian President Vladimir Putin as a legitimate and reliable negotiating partner in resolving the conflict he started in Ukraine at Monday’s Normandy format meeting in Paris. Despite denying any involvement in the war initiated by Kremlin-backed mercenaries, many of whom were Russian citizens, Putin insists on being a party to the negotiations to end a conflict which he also insists his country has nothing to do with.

“I’m confident that Mr. Putin, who still claims his country is not a party to this conflict, is beyond a shadow of a doubt a legitimate, good-faith negotiator who can play an essential role in bringing peace,” a spokesman for Macron said.

“Even though we know he’s actually responsible for starting the war, any student of foreign relations knows that indulging delusional revanchist dictators in their version of events is the first stepping stone toward a lasting peace,” said a spokeswoman from the German Foreign Ministry.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin denies any involvement in the Donbas conflict, yet insists on being party to the talks to end them. For some reason legitimate Western leaders and intellectuals accept this as normal. 

The talks were dubbed the “Normandy” format after leaders from Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia met on the sidelines of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II. Some historians have sought to compare and contrast that monumental conflict with the current situation.

“What we see happening in Ukraine’s Donbas is very different from the Second World War,” said Georgetown International Relations Professor Arnold Sickert.

“Hitler began the war by staging a false flag attack on German targets that he blamed on the Polish. Britain and France didn’t buy this pathetic ruse, and thus they declared war on 3 September 1939. But if they had been like today’s European leaders, they might have tacitly acknowledged Hitler’s claims and demanded that both sides of the conflict come to the negotiating table and hammer out a peace deal, with most of the onus being on Poland. It’s only good modern diplomacy.”

When asked about whether Putin should be allowed to be a party to the negotiations while simultaneously denying any involvement in the war, Sickert emphasized that “the only way you stop a war is by endlessly catering to the regime that started in until it hopefully gets bored and leaves whatever country it invaded.”

Still, there are few hopes that this most recent Normandy meeting will present any major steps toward ending the conflict that has killed over 13,000 people since 2014. Just days before the scheduled talks, pro-Russian separatist forces launched a number of attacks on Ukrainian military positions, showing that they have no shortage of arms or ammunition despite claims they are not controlled by Moscow.

A few commentators have suggested that the practice of acquiescing to Putin’s narratives on the conflict and treating him as a reliable negotiator might actually be the cause of the ongoing conflict. Western leaders, highly-educated diplomats, and think tank academics have dismissed such opinions as  “not serious,” however.

The Russia Without BS Guide to Disinformation

Are you tired of being angry about things that aren’t actually happening? Are you tired of losing friends on social media because you keep posting bullshit stories from shady news sites based in some Balkan country? Well today you’re in luck, because after years of working in the field of counter-disinformation I’m finally presenting you with my list of tips for being less of a gullible rube online, or the guide to disinfo for short. 

I shouldn’t have to tell readers this, but these are general rules of thumb and if one or even a few of these points apply to a certain news item it doesn’t necessarily mean it is fake or misleading. Everything must be weighed on the merit of its evidence. There is no magic formula that makes it possible to determine fact from fiction or disinformation. Likewise, there is no source of news that is 100% reliable and accurate every time. 

The TRUTH!

Tip number one- if you see a news source, article, or video  that prominently features the word “truth” in its title, you should be suspicious. This is doubly so if you see it written in all-caps. One real-life example comes from an RT program called Truthseeker, which became the basis for one of the Russian broadcasters’ many sanctions by the British regulator Ofcom after they repeated the infamous “crucified boy” story from the war in Ukraine. Also, Russia’s propagandist and sex tourist Graham Phillips also ran a now-defunct personal blog called The Truthspeaker, which if you’re familiar with even a fraction of his work, tells you everything you need to know. Exercise similar caution with headlines or video titles that contain something like “The TRUTH about…” 

The reason this is suspicious is because if someone has done actual investigative work and they stand behind it, there’s already an automatic implication that the information is true. To understand the problem with overuse or inappropriate use of the term truth, just consider the following scenario: 

A person was supposed to deliver something to your office at a certain time and they are both late and the delivery is wrong. The person has a long explanation as to why this happened, and while they are giving it they pepper their speech with phrases like “believe me,” “trust me,” and “I’m telling you the God’s-honest truth.” Would you believe that person? Most rational people would say no or at least say that behavior is a major red flag. 

The corollary to this is if the story uses the word “lie” to refer to whatever narrative it is attacking. If a narrative is a lie, the article or video should be able to explain, in detail, why it is false or otherwise misleading. 

People Are Doing X…

One particularly annoying recipe for often unreliable clickbait stories is outrage fuel that is about “people” supposedly expressing their own outrage at something else, usually something innocuous. This is typically aimed at conservative audiences and will most often be about “college students” or “social justice warriors” supposedly getting “offended” by something seemingly trivial. These stories play to conservative identity politics about how they are thick-skinned, common sense-having, tough people while their opponents are limp-wristed, oversensitive, whiny snowflakes (yet they’re also somehow antifa super-soldiers about to launch a new civil war any day now). The Russian propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik are also fond of such tactics, usually aimed at right-wing audiences in the West.

The problem with such stories is that, assuming they’re not entirely fabricated, they are typically based on a handful of social media posts, often on Twitter. Is there any proof these tweets are representative of any significant demographic? How many followers do those Twitter users actually have? Do their tweets even match the sentiments found in the story’s headline or copy? A really good example of how a tiny number of tweets can turn into “The SJWs are TRIGGERED by X” was tackled by the Youtuber Shaun, who debunked a fake outrage story about leftists supposedly being up in arms about a trailer for the game Doom: Eternal

A similar theme in this genre is “those college kids,” whereby we hear that spoiled, entitled, over-sensitive college kids are supposedly screeching with rage about something happening on campus. Right-wing grifters have made a killing off of this theme, which appeals equally to boomers as well as white millennial males who say dumb shit like “I was born in the wrong era.” It’s also been a boon to Never-Trump conservative columnists who find few outlets for their right-wing politics now that the field is dominated by defending Trump in scandal after scandal. 

In reality, most of “those college kids” stories are in fact bullshit. Trigger warnings and safe spaces? Just another moral panic. No-platforming speakers? An actual detailed examination of the phenomenon finds that conservative student organizations often protest or request to disinvite speakers on political grounds, something you never hear about in “campus free speech” pieces. Moreover, the fact that students, right or left, protested a speaker or tried to have them disinvited often doesn’t mean they were successful. More often than not, “PC Campus Crybabies Protest Speaker Who Offends Them” stories could be more accurately distilled as “Some Customers of an Institution Voice Their Objection to a Speaker They Disagree With.” Of course if they were worded that way, people would quickly see how non-newsworthy they are. 

For more examples of campus free-speech grifting, check out Robert Evans’ Behind the Bastards podcast, which did a special episode on this subject. Or for a good video on the related term “cancel culture,” check out Cody Johnston’s Some News. 

The Mainstream Media Won’t Show This! 

Grifters love to hook rubes by convincing them they’re offering them esoteric, forbidden knowledge “they” don’t want you to know about. This comes in a lot of different forms, but the general idea is that this person or outlet is offering you a look behind the curtain and if you want to be a “free-thinker” unlike all those “sheeple” out there, you’ll listen to them. 

First of all, the term “mainstream media” is ill-defined. What exactly is “mainstream” anyway? Sure, it could be large media outlets, but is the BBC mainstream in the United States, for example? Russia’s RT loves to bash the “mainstream media,” but it is yet another state-owned media enterprise in a country where the state controls most major media outlets (and heavily restricts independent ones). 

When confronted with “mainstream media isn’t covering X,” the first thing to do is run to Google and type whatever “X” is in the search bar. If the story is actually accurate and newsworthy, chances are major outlets have reported on it, and they have probably done a better job than the people who claimed they weren’t covering it. If the only results that come up are tabloids, government media outlets from authoritarian states, or sites with names like “The TRUTH Defender,” it’s probably bullshit. 

Sure, sometimes there might be important stories that aren’t on the network evening news or they are just blurbs in the paper, but the fact that a particular story isn’t front page news or the news anchor doesn’t give you an in-depth rundown of the ideological variations between the major Syrian opposition groups each evening doesn’t mean the mainstream media is trying to cover something up. There’s a difference between headline news and investigative stories. Yeah, as it turns out if you want to be informed about something you’ll actually have to read, a lot. Someone on TV or running a blog (yeah, including this one) can’t just spoonfeed you an understanding of complex events. Plus, there might be a logical reason why an outlet focuses more on one event in a certain place and not a similar event in a different place.

In any case if you were really serious about understanding some complex issue like a war or the politics of a foreign country you’re not going to be looking at your newsfeed or cable news; you should be reading books by recognized experts in the field. 

Sources

As a corollary to the above, grifters who overuse the term mainstream media derisively often try to cultivate the idea that certain sources can be automatically trusted on anything, while others can be dismissed out of hand, specifically any source they designate as “mainstream.” Russian media often uses a variant of this whereby bad media that’s unfair to Russia labeled “Western media,” and of course you can’t trust Western media to report the truth! This labeling seems to convince some people because the West is portrayed as this US-led hegemony and Russia’s posited as opposing it. But consider that there are also plenty of non-Western media outlets which report on things like Russia’s role in MH17 or the Skripal poisoning. Are Al Jazeera or Daily Sabah “Western” now? In reality, “Western media” in the Russian press typically means “media reporting things that contradict the narratives of the Kremlin, foreign ministry, defense ministry, etc.” Same goes for “mainstream media,” “corporate media,” etc. These labels say nothing about the quality of the outlet’s reporting or the veracity of any individual story. 

The idea that there are sources you can consistently trust on everything and those you should dismiss all the time is, to say the least, naive. You have to look at the outlet’s reputation, how they’ve responded when they got something wrong, and how thorough their reporting on a topic is. And even then, that’s just one source of news. It’s not necessarily going to make you informed on certain topics. 

Another reason the dismiss “mainstream media” approach is bullshit is because virtually every individual or outlet who does this inevitably ends up citing the same mainstream media they regularly dismiss in their stories or basing entire stories around the idea that “even the mainstream media is acknowledging this!” Either they are acknowledging what the truth-to-power writer is claiming, which thus contradicts their claims about media coverups on that topic, or they are misrepresenting what the outlet they’re citing actually said. Even in the latter case, they’re still attempting to cite a source they would otherwise dismiss were it not for the idea that a major outlet reporting on something gives them credibility. And that’s just it- they do this because they know that no matter what you say about not trusting “mainstream media,” a part of you still trusts that enough to give more credence to them as a source. 

Russian state media does this all the time with their term “Western media.” They know that their domestic audience doesn’t trust them, so while they’ll dismiss any Western media outlet’s negative reporting on the Kremlin regime, they’ll often enthusiastically cite “Western media” whenever it appears to go along with what their messaging. Of course this often means turning some obscure blogger into “Western media.” In fact, in one case they took something of mine that had been reported in The Guardian and twisted the meaning considerably before presenting it as a “Western journalist” attacking other “Western journalists” on their Russia reporting.

Identity Politics

A tell-tale sign of bullshit is when you get the feeling that the article is trying to say something about  your personal identity depending on whether you agree or disagree. Does the outlet or the author of one of their pieces imply that you’re a truthseeking free thinker if you believe their version of an event, as opposed to a mindless member of the “sheeple” if you don’t? Perhaps you’re not “patriotic” if you take the wrong side in the article, or maybe you too are a censorious, fragile snowflake if you think maybe those college students had a point when they protested against something? 

If the answer is yes to any of that- it’s most likely a manipulation tactic. Obviously if it’s an opinion piece that sort of thing is more appropriate, but not in a news story. 

Politically Correct/Incorrect

If you see these words invoked unironically, increase the skepticism. These terms don’t mean anything. For example, in the manufactured outrage over Colin Kaepernik, nobody attacked Kaepernik’s critics for being PC snowflakes. Nor did the people who typically proclaim themselves politically incorrect praise him for also being politically incorrect. Opponents of same-sex marriage didn’t get labeled as politically correct when in fact their position was basically the definition of that until relatively recently. 

In short, this is just a snarl phrase where PC = bad and un-PC = good, cold hard truth (often not true at all). 

When In Rome – Leave

This one may seem oddly specific, but bear with me. Any time you see some American commentator saying our country is about to “fall like the Roman Empire,” that’s a fairly good sign you shouldn’t pay attention to them. Doubly so if they attribute that fall to “decadence.” Most likely that person’s sum total of knowledge on Rome amounts to having seen Gladiator once or twice. The decline of the Roman Empire was a long and extremely complex process that was due to many factors, and typically the “collapse” they’re thinking of is only the fall of the Western Empire, while the Eastern one continued on for nearly another thousand years. 

In short, “aMeRiCa iS lIkE rOmE” is an example of stuff that sounds smart to stupid people, much like “we’re a republic, not a democracy!”or “the Nazis were socialists!” 

Constant Complaining About ‘Bias’

This one is pretty straightforward- if an outlet is constantly complaining about other outlets being “biased,” it is probably biased itself in favor of a particular point of view. American conservative media is a major offender here. Anything not reporting their version of a story, no matter how idiotic or fabricated it is, is “biased.” This is a nice way of actually avoiding the need to provide evidence for your claims and explain why the other claims are false. 


Terribly sorry, but reality tends to have a certain bias. The Earth is round. Vaccines save lives. Trump is objectively a moron. Russia shot down MH-17 and poisoned the Skripals. Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons multiple times. To take just one of those examples, that of MH17, it is a matter of comparing what has basically been one, more or less unchanging narrative of events (Russia shot it down), to numerous, changing, often impossible or mutually exclusive alternative explanations. Perhaps if the Russian side had decided to carefully craft one alternative narrative and present evidence only for that explanation, they might have produced something worthy of serious consideration. But alas, they deliberately decided on a strategy of simultaneously promoting dozens of easily-debunked fake stories even as the debris was still smoldering. Nobody made them do that; nobody put a gun to their heads and told them to put out a stream of bullshit via multiple channels. Therefore there’s no bias in saying they have zero credibility on that topic and people aren’t unfairly biased against them for not trusting what they say about it.

Eric Garland: Time For Some Descent Into Madness!

So yeah- Eric Garland is still a thing, apparently. He calls himself a “Strategic Intelligence Analyst” these days, and turns out he has some strong opinions on Bernie Sanders.

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Yeah. There’s a lot to unpack there, but it’s probably better to just chuck the whole suitcase into an incinerator instead. I have no idea how to respond to that other than to point out that Bernie Sanders did in fact release 10 years of tax returns, and while I’m haven’t browsed them all myself, I’m fairly confident there’s nothing about receiving massive payments from the GRU in them.

Naturally Garland’s bizarre statements provoked some negative feedback, which of course he’s convinced is coming from the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency. That’s when things got even weirder.

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Let’s just get this out of the way- Vladimir Putin has never had any sisters. He was his parents’ third son, the two brothers that preceded him both died in childhood in the 30’s. Garland’s bizarre, frankly sick scenario here sounds like descriptions of what goes on in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons.

I’ve got to be honest, I’m now starting to wonder at this point whether Garland is still funny or whether he’s actually going to pose a danger to himself or others. What does it say when a man can go on Twitter and write like Dril without actually being Dril, i.e. just a type of performance artist? Are we supposed to laugh or be horrified? I’m not sure anymore.

 

Special thanks to a reader for producing the cover image for today’s piece  -J.K. 

Admiral Kuznetsov Converted to Submarine

SEVEROMORSK– Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, will be converted to an “advanced, high-tech submarine.” This announcement contradicted earlier reports that the carrier would be scrapped after suffering damage during an incident involving a floating dry-dock.

“Western media has always laughed at our aircraft carrier, but we are the ones who laugh last,” said Captain Igor Kostyakov, a spokesman with the Russian Northern Fleet.

“All this time the Kuznetsov was undergoing trials to become the first working submarine aircraft carrier since the Second World War.”

According to Kostyakov, two incidents in 2016 when aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, thought to be due to technical problems aboard the carrier, were actually “special landing trials.”

“Obviously aircraft based on a submersible carrier must be able to land in conditions when the deck is awash. That’s what they were training.”

The Admiral Kuznetsov was the target of much ridicule online when it left Russia for the eastern Mediterranean in 2016 in order to take part in Russia’s assistance to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Most of the criticism centered around its long cloud of smoke that could often be seen for miles around. The carrier was also implicated in several more serious incidents besides the aforementioned aircraft losses.

In January 2017, the carrier was implicated in the crushing of four endangered pandas in Madrid. Ten days later, it was suspected in a supermarket robbery in Malaga. The Russian Ministry of Defense has denied all charges.

Kremlin Admits Past Five Years Was Elaborate April Fools’ Day Joke

MOSCOW– In what may be called one of the most elaborate pranks in history, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that the past five years of Russian foreign policy had been a “massive April Fools’ joke” at a briefing on Monday.

“Andy Kaufman has got nothing on us,” Peskov said, tears streaming down his face as he clearly struggled to contain his laugher.

“The look on your faces this whole time- priceless! Absolutely priceless!”

Over the next two hours, Peskov revealed how Putin and other members of his government and security apparatus plotted to play what they called “the greatest prank of all time” on the West. Summarizing the plan, Peskov explained that it would begin first with the annexation of the Crimea, then a war in Ukraine, and finally a host of various international scandals and incidents over the following five years. The events themselves, however, were not the most important part of the plan.

“Of course starting wars and poisoning people in other countries, in and of themselves, are really just acts of aggression and assassination,” Peskov explained.

“The real prank, the thing that made the whole five-year affair so hilarious, was that we planned to just stupidly deny everything despite overwhelming evidence that we were guilty. To that end, we harnessed the entire state media apparatus.”

Peskov then broke down laughing as he recounted the ways in which some independent media outlets and commentators in the West actually took Russia’s denials seriously, even as the Kremlin knew its deliberate lies were “totally idiotic.”

“Can you believe there were- there are people in the West who after all these years seriously believe we didn’t shoot down MH17?” Peskov asked reporters.

“There are. There really are. The Ukrainian military had zero reason to fire at a single plane flying at that altitude, from east to west, while they were fighting a war against an enemy with no air force whatsoever. And yet despite that, and despite the fact that we must have put out no fewer than two dozen different stories, many of which blatantly contradicted each other, some of your citizens still bought it! And they thought they were the clever skeptics who don’t fall for government lies!”

Peskov again broke down laughing after that point and needed to take a few minutes to regain his composure before moving onto the topic of Syria.

“Syria was another one where your gullible audiences totally fell for the flimsiest lies. Remember how many times in 2018 our Ministry of Defense said it knew that the White Helmets and possibly Western special forces were about to stage a fake chemical attack? Did you ever get suspicious when that never happened? What kind of idiot would you have to be to believe something that stupid?  Sure, the false flag to bring Western intervention could have made sense that one time in 2013, but after that, two, three times? Come on? You’d have to be the dumbest imbecile in the world to believe that!”

According to Peskov, “only a total, utter moron” could believe the claims and denials of the Russian government.

“Bellingcat had us dead to rights on the identity of the Salisbury poisoning culprits,” he said.

“If we had been telling the truth about these two men, we had the perfect opportunity to totally discredit those Bellingcat nerds forever. And yet despite the fact that we never even attempted this and instead kept spinning more and more unbelievable alternative theories about the poisoning, so many of your self-proclaimed media skeptics totally believed our side! Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious!”

Putin’s spokesman also told reporters that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the encouragement of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, even treated the prank like a type of competition, whereby different Russian embassies around the world would compete for whose official Twitter account could “tweet the dumbest thing” and still have followers believing them.

“The competition was fierce, but our embassy in the U.K. won ever year, hands down,” Peskov said.

When asked if the revelation of this five-year prank meant that Russia would pull its forces out of Ukraine and apologize for incidents such as the downing of MH17 and the Salisbury poisonings, Peskov said it would not.

 

Russia Mulling Switch to ‘Western Cyrillic’ in Bid to Popularize Language Abroad

MOSCOW– Russia’s State Duma is currently proposing a historic language reform bill that would see the Russian language switch from Cyrillic to what they are calling “Western Cyrillic.” The new alphabet is based on the way Cyrillic often appears in advertising and art in the West, particularly in the United States. Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin explained the basis and rationale for the new alphabet in an address to the legislative body on Friday.

“Westerners apparently think the letter ‘ya’ is an R, and that our letter ‘D’ is an A- well soon they could be right,” Volodin said.

To demonstrate how the new alphabet would work, Volodin presented slides of various advertisements, book covers, t-shirts, and video game cases in order to explain how words would be pronounced in the new alphabet. One example was the cover of the book Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs―A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder

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Cover of Once Upon a Time in Russia, which Duma Chairman Volodin claims is a good example of why the alphabet needs to change

“In our current alphabet, this cover would be very confusing to read,” Volodin said.

“As a Russian speaker, your mind wants to read ‘Oisye Uroi a Time Ii Yaussia.’ With the new alphabet, however, what the Westerners call ‘those backwards N’s or backwards R’s’ will actually be N’s and R’s.”

The new alphabet was designed at Moscow State University’s linguistics department, whose researchers scoured the internet for Western media containing examples of faux-Cyrillic to use as a basis for new letters. At times different Cyrillic letters have been used to replace Latin ones, which means that linguists sometimes have to debate which replacement is more common and therefore more suitable. Many examples come from the 1980’s, however, even recent media can be useful, such as the promotional material for HBO Films The Romanovs, and the very popular FX series The Americans.

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In the current Russian Cyrillic alphabet, this would read “The Amyeyaisans,” but if the new language reform passes, it will be read as it appears in English

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Unfortunately not all examples are salvageable. This name shown in the film The Bourne Identity cannot be corrected in any was as to be pronounceable by a human being.

So far it isn’t clear whether Vladimir Putin will approve the new reform should it pass the State Duma. However, Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently hinted that the Russian President could see the reform as a way to secure his historical legacy.

“This would be the biggest reform of the Russian language since the Bolshevik Revolution,” Peskov said.

“We could finally start to improve our relations with the rest of the world. Instead of telling them they’re writing our language incorrectly, we’d essentially be telling them they were right all along, and that our Cyrillic alphabet is really just a funny looking equivalent to their Latin alphabet- nothing more.”

During the same briefing, Peskov showed reporters a slide to demonstrate how President Putin’s name would be written in the new alphabet: “VLДDIMIЯ РЦТIИ.”

Bandera, Shukhevych Had ‘Intense Sexual Relationship’ -Viatrovych

KYIV– Head of Ukraine’s Institute and National Memory and beloved writer of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) young adult fiction series Volodymyr Viatrovych dropped a bombshell on fans on Thursday when he announced that two of his biggest characters in the franchise had what he called “An intense sexual relationship.”

“Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych- all the fans who really pay attention knew what was going on there,” Viatrovych said, adding that the new plot point was “canon.”

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So far reactions from the fanbase have been mixed over what they call Viatrovych’s latest “retcon” to the series.

Dasha Ponomarenko, a 22-year-old student from the city of Lviv, said that she see’s the change as mostly positive.

“I mean sure, it’s great that he’s giving his main characters more progressive values that fit 21st century Ukraine,” she said.

“But just once it would have been nice to see things like this in the story rather than Viatrovych just saying them after the fact on Twitter.”

Oleh Kolysnik, 19, said he wasn’t against the changes, but that he didn’t really see evidence for the relationship between the two in the material he’d read in school.

“Relationships have to have build-up, chemistry, ” he said.

“You can’t just drop that on the die-hard fans who pay attention to every detail without laying the groundwork.”

Some were not pleased with the revelation, however. Yaroslav Tereshchenko, 18, is a member of the National Corps, one of the most rabid fan-clubs for Viatrovych’s work.

“This is nonsense,” Tereshchenko said at a recent event for fan-fiction writers who write their own stories based on the characters in Viatrovych’s fitional universe.

“Neither Stepan Bandera, nor Roman Shukhevych, were homos. This just shows how Viatrovych is ruining his own work due to pressure from the Marxist SJWs (“Social Justice Warriors”)!”

According to Tereshchenko, fan-fiction writers often “ship” different characters, a term meaning to put two characters in the story into a romantic relationship even if this isn’t in the text. However, he expressed his anger at Viatrovych for declaring this allegedly new relationship to be “canon,” making it an official part of the fictional universe’s history.

In the past Viatrovych was praised for introducing progressive values to some of his characters. For example, long after the OUN series was finished, Viatrovych changed many key points in the story to reduce needless violence and make some characters more positive. For example, he declared certain parts of Ukrainian Insurgent Army leader Roman Shukhevych’s backstory, such as the part where he spends time in Belarus fighting for Nazi Germany, to be “non-canon” and part of a “dream sequence” that did not actually happen.

Viatrovych said that most of the replies to his latest retcon tweet thread have been “overwhelmingly positive,” but he also reminded fans that while he encourages them to imagine his characters however they like, as the author and their creator, his word is final when it comes to what happened or didn’t happen in his fictional universe.

Welcome to Camp Reality!

Post dedicated to John, who came up with the name Camp Reality.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re from an authoritarian country whose dictatorial leaders rob the population of the nation’s natural wealth, squirreling it away in Western banks and real estate. It’s so bad that you had to leave your homeland. But, as it turns out, the regime you fled publicly attacks the United States and blames economic problems on being “surrounded by enemies?” Now, every time you try to explain the plight of your people to American leftists who are in many cases fighting for the same social justice you’d like to see in your country, you’re accused of being a secret millionaire, billionaire, or a dupe of the CIA. You try to explain why the sources they are using are worthless and you suggest other info, but they act as though their access to internet makes their opinion equal to yours, even if they’ve never had so much as a passport. Is there anything you can do? NOW THERE IS! 

You can recommend your friends take a very special summer vacation to Camp Reality (TM)! At Camp Reality, they won’t be able to hide from the truth using the internet and confirmation bias to pick sources of information which confirm their worldview. No, here at Camp Reality, they’ll get the most realistic hands-on experience of living under a 21st century authoritarian kleptocratic regime! Inspired by the groundbreaking work on racism by Jane Elliot, Camp Reality teaches people who live in the privileged West who like to live vicariously through countries, regimes, and people they may never have encountered in person what it’s actually like to live under those regimes they have deemed to be “anti-imperialist” simply due to public rhetoric and propaganda.

After signing an extremely detailed 45-page legal waiver which temporarily suspends any rights they might have under their own government, entrants to the camp will have their choice of three different “difficulty levels” based on three different types of real-world authoritarian regimes.

 

Level 1: Easy Mode

This mode is designed to replicate conditions in a 21st century soft dictatorship, specifically the Russian Federation. In the early days you’ll experience chaos as corrupt officials and police either fail to protect your property or actively help criminal groups. After week one, attendees may breathe a sigh of relief when a new leader promises to bring stability. All seems well and you’re prospering until you start to realize that the old gangsters have just been replaced by new ones, and now the state becomes more and more overbearing. Eventually the “economy” starts to decline, the leader changes the constitution so he doesn’t have to leave office, and suddenly you can be facing criminal charges for sharing a joke on social media. If you speak out, you’ll be deemed a traitor who hates your country, often by simulated leaders whose own simulated family members live in luxury in Europe. Hopefully your business doesn’t get raided by someone connected or wiped out when the leader starts a needless war and invents “counter-sanctions” in response to the sanctions he provoked with his own short-sighted actions.

Level 2: Hard Mode

This mode is modeled after countries like Venezuela. Your leader endlessly rants about “Yankee imperialism” while his cronies skim money out of the state oil company and stash it away in Yankee banks and real estate. After a while, the store shelves are empty and you’ll spend at least one whole week trying to scrounge for food. You’ll get a chance to tell simulated Western social media users about the conditions in your country, only to be told that you’re just some “millionaire who lost his land” or a dupe of the CIA calling for military intervention for “regime change.” These people will then bombard you with articles from “your” country’s state media and the state media outlets of government friendly regimes to tell you what’s really happening.

Level 3: NIGHTMARE! 

This mode is based on Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime. We ask that attendees choosing this mode please read the legal waiver very thoroughly and wear comfortable, NON-FLAMMABLE clothing.

After surviving attending Camp Reality, your friends and family members will have learned a valuable lesson in empathy and how social justice without internationalist solidarity can often be a slippery slope to fascism. But don’t take our word for it, read these testimonials from actual attendees of Camp Reality!

“Since I came of age around 2003, I used to compare every international crisis to the Iraq invasion of that year. After attending Camp Reality, I learned that not every regime the US government criticizes is really just trying to fight for its people against the influence of transnational corporations. As it turns out, some regimes really do just suck, and criticism from the US government isn’t the same as openly advocating for a massive invasion as the Bush administration clearly did in late 2002 to early 2003!”    -Carla, 32,  Hard Mode

 

“I used to think the only reason Western media was so critical of Putin is because he made Russia strong again and he opposed NATO. After spending a month in a simulated regime modeled after Putin’s I realized that NATO encirclement was really just an excuse for authoritarian measures and for why my country lagged behind Europe despite massive wealth in natural resources. I also learned that when I posted about this online, I was accused of being a traitor and a Western agent even though I really just wanted to see my country succeed. I think the best touch was how when I brought up problems, people would tell me about something terrible in America as though that had any relevance to the issue I was trying to discuss. It’s the same thing I used to do online!”   –Ryan, 26, Easy Mode

 

“Oh God! Oh God! I…I…I can’t….I don’t even…Who, who are you? Am I safe? Is this safe?!”    –Meghan, 28, NIGHTMARE!

So why delay? Tell your insufferably edgy little shit of a cousin to put their money where their mouth is today and send them to CAMP REALITY!

Sample Chapter from Triggered: A Novel

Justin Whitington, former US Marine Corps Special Forces Tier-one operator and a politically incorrect, devoted non-denominational Protestant Christian, approached the registrar’s office of Alinsky College of Liberal Arts. He’d been dreading this moment for months now. Although he was a highly decorated combat veteran with many missions under his belt, he had been unjustly driven out of the nation’s top elite joint special operations unit simply because he once referred to the enemy as “Islamic terrorists” within earshot of the newly appointed PC Officer. Luckily, his illustrious combat record enabled him to avoid getting the dishonorable discharge that PC officer Gerald “Commissar” Weinberg had pushed for so militantly. But discharge aside, Whitington had to enter the job market, and while it was clearly booming under a Republican controlled White House and Congress, getting a job with a decent salary to support a mortgage and 2.5 children still required higher education. After all, those low-paying starting jobs were just for teenagers who wanted to develop their work ethic and make some extra pocket money to supplement their allowance. Raising the minimum wage for those jobs would lead to unemployment!

Alinsky College hadn’t been his first pick. Not by a long shot. But he didn’t have time to waste applying to Ivy League schools and besides, he heard they had fairly decent STEM programs. Naturally, STEM fields are the only useful degrees one should ever get; Justin knew this well. Thus he decided to get into mechanical engineering so he could maybe one day realize his dream of designing an assault rifle that can readily fire 5.56x45mm M855 NATO, Soviet-bloc 7.62x39mm, and 7.62x51mm NATO with the flick of a switch. But that was a long way ahead. First, Justin had to get through the hardest part- dealing with the university staff.

As he approached the registrar’s desk he saw the student clerk looked precisely as he assumed she would. Her hair was bright blue, she had several piercings, and she had thick-rimmed hipster glasses. Her t-shirt read “I (HEART) ABORTIONS” on it, and around her neck hung a necklace with a pentagram on it instead of a cross. Clearly a worshiper of the Earth Mother Goddess or some pagan mumbo jumbo like that, Justin thought. Before he approached to introduce himself, he was already navigating the ideological minefield of the conversation he’d been dreading all week.

He was sure that upon introducing himself in his deep, manly voice, she would take one look at his traditionally masculine, very heterosexual appearance and deem him to be toxic cis-het white male patriarchy scum. In any other situation, he’d easily either defeat his detractors with violence if they were male, with facts, logic, and debate if they were hysterical females (and they always are, right?). But this obviously gender-confused radical was the gatekeeper to the higher education Justin needed, so he had no choice but to be as polite and diplomatic as he could.

“Good morning, ma’am,” Justin began.

Ma’am?!” the clerk replied with a flash of white-hot hatred in her eyes. “Did you just…assume my gender, you toxic masculine white cis-het male scum? You don’t even know my pronouns!

Justin couldn’t believe it- it was going exactly as he predicted. All those memes he read on Facebook about these rabid liberal Marxist Social Justice Warriors were totally right! Fox News was right too! These SJW snowflakes were so entrenched in the higher education system that you couldn’t even to the most mundane administrative task without dealing with them! What a terrible turn of events for our Republic! The Founding Fathers must be turning in their graves. Justin thought that; he thought that the Founding Fathers had to have been turning in their graves. Because they would be upset.

“Look I’m really sorry, I just made that assumption because you look like the female side of the two genders and…” Justin tried to explain but the very unfeminine “woman” behind the counter wasn’t having any of it.

“Excuse me, but there aren’t only two genders. There are at least 74 genders! Our gender scientists feel that is the truth, and all truths are equally valid according to post-modernist Cultural Marxism!”

But that’s wrong! Justin thought. Facts don’t care about people’s feelings, and Cultural Marxism led to the deaths of 1 billion people in the 20th century. If people had cared more about facts and not feelings, maybe Josef Stalin and Hitler, who was a socialist because he was head of the National Socialist party, wouldn’t have existed. But once you start allowing political correctness, there’s no telling how many innocent people could be killed.

Justin was going to say some words to that effect but then he held his tongue. He knew this was just another obstacle he had to get over to achieve his goal of getting a higher education. He silently prayed to Jesus Christ for wisdom and guidance and then spoke again.

“I recognize whatever gender identity you may have as totally valid and real, I just want to sign up for courses so I can get my engineering degree,” he said, calmly and serenely.

The clerk fumed at him a little more, but then sighed and began typing on her computer.

“Name?” she asked, her bitterness still evident in her tone.

“Justin Whitington,” he answered.

Clearly this feminist SJW had never dealt with someone who wouldn’t play her game. Her fingers moved rapidly about the keyboard and-

*BANG!!!*

Suddenly the glass doors behind Justin burst open and there stood four black clad, masked “men” who were very skinny and spindly and effeminate yet somehow menacing at the same time. They were armed with chains, bike locks, and protest signs that said “ISLAMIC STATE REFUGEES DESERVE ASYLUM AND WELFARE!” One of them, the most limp-wristed and spindly of the group, pointed at Justin.

“There’s the toxic masculine fascist!” he exclaimed.

Fascist!” the rest screamed in unison.

Nazi!” the obvious ringleader of the group screamed, his effeminate voice cracking from the strain.

“Excuse me,” gentlemen, Justin began. “But did you know the term Nazi comes from National Socialist German Workers Party, meaning they were socialists and left-wing? And I, of course, am not a socialist because I believe in liberty and small government! Clearly you are mistaken.”

The leader seemed a bit confused. Obviously he was another SJW who never studied history and valued feelings over facts.

Gentlemen?” the skinny ringleader replied. “Did you just assume our genders?

Great, here we go again, Justin thought. But this time it was different. The ringleader began swinging his bike lock chain and the other masked thugs fanned out. Justin had been in enough bar fights to know what was coming. He didn’t know why these spindly little soy-boys thought they’d stand a chance against him, seeing as how he’d taken out tough tattooed MS-13 gangmembers by the dozen with nothing more than his bare fists, but who ever accused Cultural Marxist SJWs of having common sense, right?

“I see where this is going,” Justin said. “And I’ve got to warn you about one thing.”

“Oh yeah, fascist cis-het scum? What’s that?”

There’s no safe space from me, punk!” 
To be continued?! 

The Foreigner’s Guide to Appropriate Protests by Some White Leftist From Brooklyn

Hey there, foreigner! I saw on Twitter that you’re having a demonstration. That’s great! It’s good to express your dissatisfaction with your government. I do that all the time on Twitter, and if we ever had a really revolutionary protest movement I’d probably definitely go. But here’s the thing- there’s a big difference between you and I.

See, I’m an American citizen. I’m a true dissident, speaking truth to power (i.e. posting) and battling Yankee imperialism from within the belly of the beast as Che called it. You, on the other hand, are a foreigner, most likely a resident of a country whose regime isn’t on the best terms with my government. Yes, we talk about being internationalists who care more about the poor oppressed people of the world unlike those neocons, shitlibs, and alt-right neo-Nazis who for some unknown reason keep supporting the same governments we defend,  but the reality is that this little issue of citizenship makes all the difference in the world.

If we in America are upset with our government, we have a right to protest. We live in a developed country and we are highly educated because we have Noam Chomsky and podcasts. You, on the other hand, are most likely living in a crucial square on the geopolitical chessboard, and that means that no matter how dire your grievance must seem, you first need to take into account our political system and our country’s foreign policy before you go out into the streets and cause trouble.

See, you might think you’re protesting because your leader and his friends and family siphon off the natural wealth of your country while arresting and sometimes torturing people for criticizing their behavior, but check this out: Did you ever consider that maybe your leaders are actually your legitimate, democratically elected governments, and the only real reason you think they’re bad is because our government says they are? Yeah, wild, I know, but if you had the brain capacity to understand books like Manufacturing Consent and Killing Hope, you too would understand that there are many “regimes” in the world which, contrary to the mainstream corporate media that only regurgitates US State Department talking points, are in fact demonized simply because they put the interests of their own citizens above those of the hegemonic US military-industrial complex. Also, it’s possible your country has oil, so the US just wants to take your oil. If your country doesn’t have significant oil reserves, then they most likely want to build a pipeline across your country and your government is refusing, probably on ecological grounds.

How do you know if your government is truly terrible or just maligned by American corporate elites? Well I’ve got good news- we’ll tell you! Yes, though the sum total of our international experience typically amounts to Spring Break in Mexico or possibly Amsterdam for the true globetrotters among us, we are experts in geopolitics and we will be sure to determine which side in your country’s dispute is worthy of support based on whatever official statements from US officials happen to grace the headline stories that we skim off our news feeds. To be honest, until recently the process would be much easier. We’d just skim the news until we found John McCain’s smiling mug next to the self-proclaimed leaders of some protest movement. That was all we needed to determine that said movement was in fact a US-organized coup against a legitimate government resisting imperialism. Nowadays, we actually have to read a few official statements, but don’t worry- we’re happy to help.

The most important thing to remember is that before you organize your protest movement, you need to clear it with a white leftist in the US or, failing that, Canada or the UK. Otherwise, you risk launching what we will have no choice but to designate as a US-backed coup against a government we have decided is  leftist. And if you’re going against a leftist government, you must be far-right. It’s pretty simple. So make sure you’ve consulted with us first so you can hopefully obtain our permission to be legitimate protesters like us, as opposed to mindless dupes of the CIA.

Now I’m sure you have some questions, so just because we in the left believe in a borderless world (save for sovereign anti-imperialist states who are forced to maintain strict border controls because imperialism) and internationalism, as an act of solidarity we will answer a limited number them.

Q: My government has never had a free or fair, competitive election in decades, and the lack of accountability has led to billions of dollars of our nation’s natural wealth being siphoned off by the ruling class and their cronies, much of it being stashed in your country. Anyone who tries to speak up against this gets arrested or harassed. Some have even been killed. Isn’t that enough to justify our protest movement? 

A: You’d think that, but no. I mean sure, if our government here in the US or some other leading industrialized country did even a fraction of that, we’d definitely have a protest march and post a lot of memes about our grievances, but you don’t live here, in the belly of the beast of US global hegemony.

You need to give us a chance to Google your country, skim the Wiki article, and then check our trusted sources of information like RT, Telesur, Jacobin, and The Real News in order to determine if all those things you say are actually happening, or if you’re actually just being duped by the CIA into thinking those things are happening in your country. We know it’s very possible that you don’t know what’s really happening in your country because you listen only to mainstream Western corporate media like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC, NPR, RFERL, Al Jazeera, SkyNews, AFP, AP, Reuters, CBC, etc. If you listened to real, independent news sources like RT, you’d know what’s really happening or not happening in your country.

Q: Do I have to get permission from a white person? 

A: Well that’s the best bet if you want to get the approval of podcasters. But if you cannot find any white leftist, feel free to address a person of color so long as they have been raised in their Western country nearly all their life. You don’t want to slip up and accidentally seek permission from say, a “refugee” or emigrant who, based on our determination, may just be a CIA plant or some exiled billionaire masquerading as a fry cook.

Q: Do you really think you know what’s going on in my country more than we do? 

A: Look, we may never have been to your country. We may not speak the language. We may not have read anything about it beyond daily headlines and the Wiki article. But we understand something you don’t- our Western governments. And that’s what really matters- our leaders, our politics.

What do you think has more explanatory value? The things you see on your poor-ass streets everyday? The headlines in your newspapers written in weird alphabets consisting of backwards R’s or squiggly little lines? Or, the sum total of Cold War history as told by intellectual giants like Noam Chomsky, William Blum, Seymour Hersh, and Michael Parenti? You have to look at the big picture. You have to consider history. We can determine the political trajectory in your country far better than you can simply by flipping to the relevant chapter in Killing Hope. If something happened in the past, it must repeat exactly the same way every time, because that’s definitely how history and dialectics work.

Q: But I don’t think you understand. We are really poor here. The wealth inequality is unbelievable. We have a lot of things in common since I hear you guys talking about the same problems in your country.

A: Whoa, hold up there, comrade! We have little in common. For example, suppose I do some googling and find out that your country has state-provided universal healthcare. We have nothing like that here in the States. Suppose I do some more checking and found that from the time your country got full independence, infant mortality and life expectancy have gradually improved. Clearly you need to be happy with what you have.

Q: But our government has been imposing austerity measures on us for many years now. Isn’t that the same thing you people complain about?

A: They may be austerity measures, but it’s totally different. See it’s entirely possible that your government is only imposing those measures for your own good, because it is resisting US hegemonic imperialism. How can you know for sure? You can’t. We can. That’s why you need to consult with us first.

Q: What if we apply to you for legitimacy but you decide that our government is legitimate? Do we still have to go on suffering in poverty? 

A: Yes, I’m afraid so. The only possible alternative is inevitable US military intervention and occupation. It’s not easy to suffer in silence, but look at it this way- you’re opposing US imperialism!

Q: Shouldn’t you maybe, listen to people’s lived experience? I see you guys talking about that from time to time.

A: Oh sorry, that whole lived experience, listen to X marginalized group stuff only applies to people in our country. We’re happy to listen to people from your country give their opinions, for example your president, your prime minister, some other government officials, your state news presenters and the people they interview. These are clearly trustworthy sources. But we can’t just listen to anybody from your country. They could be paid by the CIA for all we know.

Q: No offense, but this all sounds well, kinda racist.

A: Impossible! I can’t be racist! I’m a leftist! I support BLM and Antifa! Why can’t you people just understand that we in the West have your best interests at heart?! I know my country has done so many terrible things to your country and I don’t want the CIA convincing a bunch of local ignorant people to rise up against its legitimate government! Don’t you realize that no matter how terrible you think your government is, US intervention will only make it worse?

wounded_civilians_arrive_at_hospital_aleppo

The consequences of not getting permission from the Western left first: These Syrians didn’t get our blessing to revolt against Bashar al-Assad. We made our calculations based on a few statements of the Obama administration and determined that this uprising was in fact caused by the US, and the resistance, such as all the people in this photo, were nothing but CIA-armed jihadists. 

Well that’s all we have time for in this guide, so to wrap up, remember- before you get out in the streets, did you make sure to vet your organization with Western, preferably white American leftists? The cost of not-doing so can be dire. You don’t want to be labeled as fascist dupes of the CIA, do you? So think before you revolt, and be sure to get our blessing before you get out in the streets.