Next, K: A Novel, by Ted O’Connell (Santa Fe Writers Project, 2020)

Met the author at the just-concluded AWP Book Fair, and it was grand. Turns out he read self’s short stories in college. (Therefore, self is old. Now her secret’s out!!!! LOL)

Seriously, it was exciting. He even mentioned a book report he did on self’s work. And his teacher was DIANA ABU-JABER.

From the back cover:

  • Professor Francis Kauffman has unwittingly landed himself in prison where he’s faced with an insurmountable task: execute a fellow inmate. Charged with igniting a political insurrection among his students at a university in Beijing, Kauffman is sent to the notorious Kun Chong Prison, where his existence grows stranger by the hour as he struggles with the weight of his imprisonment and his incurable need to write about it in a place where art is forbidden, and the inmates must act as executioner.

Opening sentence of this (dystopian) novel:

  • “I don’t know why we don’t eat with the other prisoners on the first floor.”

Wow, Ted! Very cool opening!

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge (CMMC), Last Week of March 2022: SPRING

Cee Neuner:

  • Your topic this week is March Spring or Autumn Season. In the southern hemisphere Autumn has just started and in the northern hemisphere Spring is coming into full swing most places. Feel free to post either season.

Self created a collage of photos where the color green (color of spring!) appears. Most were taken at the just concluded AWP annual conference, the first in-person conference since 2019:

Conclusions (Thus Far) from Reading We Are Bellingcat

Self is about 3/4 of the way through.

It is becoming quite clear that the scale of Russian disinformation in the months leading up to November 2020 was designed with one aim in mind: to sink Hillary Clinton. And Comey’s coming up with the e-mail angle in July 2020 — could that have been any better timing? Comey was a dupe — whether a deliberate dupe or an accidental dupe, who can say. But a dupe, nevertheless.

Recently, during the hearings for Judge Jackson’s nomination to the SCOTUS, the matter of child pornography was brought up repeatedly by Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz.

There were very strong echoes to the Hillary is a pedo and Joe Biden is a pedo line.

Do the GOP have pedo on the brain, or what?

Now, after reading this far in We Are Bellingcat, I now know why the GOP line is always calling a political opponent a pedo. Because it is undisputedly a line. A line they have been given. A line they all parrot like obedient children. None of it was arrived at by independent thinking. That is why it is always the same: pedophilia and child pornography.

None of them truly believe that Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden are pedos, but it’s a mark of their allegiance to the party line, to say it out loud. A mark of their loyalty.

The next GOP Senator who starts the Biden is a pedo line, you’ll know that person is utterly compromised.

Stay tuned.

How Novichok A234 Entered Salisbury, England

Two Russian intelligence officers allegedly carried the chemical weapon in a backpack, strolling through the heart of a peaceful English cathedral city on 4 March 2018. Upon reaching Sergei Skripal’s house in Salisbury, they allegedly drew out a container, aimed its nozzle at the front door and sprayed.

We Are Bellingcat, p. 155

“Firewall of Facts”: We Are Bellingcat, p. 151

“We all need to stay alert to disinformation techniques. If you imagine that digital natives, those who grew up with the internet, are equipped to handle this environment, you are wrong. A Stanford study from 2016, which tested thousands’ of American students’ ability to spot fakery online, reported that young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak. In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation. Some 82 percent of middle-school students could not tell a news story from an advertisement.

“The Swedes have developed teaching materials to educate kids about fake news, online propaganda and doctored imagery. Teenagers in Ukraine — perhaps the country most assaulted by propaganda trolls — are taking classes on media literacy to good effect: students who participated in a pilot programme were twice as alert to hate speech and 18 per cent better at spotting fake news. In Denmark, ‘Trolls in Your Feed’ is a publication for high-school kids, part of a push there against Russian disinformation. Classes, including cautionary study of false news reports, are working their way into school curricula in parts of the United States.”

Photographing Public Art # 21: Wangechi Mutu

Self loves the challenge, Photographing Public Art, co-hosted by Marsha Ingrao and Cee Neuner.

The current theme is: WOMEN IN PUBLIC ART.

Last June, there was an exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor of the work of Wangechi Mutu. Self had never heard of this artist before; the exhibit was a revelation. Here are some of the pieces that were on exhibit:

Wangechi Mutu Exhibit, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, June 2021

Another Wangechi Mutu Piece from last June’s exhibit at the San Francisco Legion of Honor

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC): EARTH

This week’s CFFC theme is EARTH.

Next week’s theme is FIRE.

For Earth, self decided to share a photo of her backyard, taken two weeks ago. In spring, her garden is at its best: all her fruit trees are in bloom, the backyard is the greenest it will be all year.

This year, she discovered a new yellow flower, growing where she had never seen it before. Thank you to Cee who told her that flower is called ‘African Flag’. There is an official (i.e. scientific) name but she’ll have to look back to a previous post to find it.

Cyber-Dominance: We Are Bellingcat, pp. 76 – 77

Self apologizes for going so so slowly through this book, but it continues to enthrall.

General Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, recalled a turning point for American intel back in the mid-1990s, when espionage officials faced a question: try to dominate cyberspace, or to dominate the information sphere generally, including diplomacy, public affairs, disinformation, and more? ‘We had a sharp debate, and we finally decided that we’re probably in the cyber-dominance business,’ he recalled. ‘Now the important punchline here is that the Russians went to door number two. The Russians went to not just cyber-dominance, but information-dominance.

We Are Bellingcat, pp. 76 – 77

We Are Bellingcat, pp. 42 – 43: “2.2 kilograms of the nerve agent sarin”

That this nerve agent was used at all, against civilian targets in the eastern and south-western suburbs of Damascus, was a war crime. Consulting online reference material, the author identified the weapons carrying the sarin as “a Soviet 140mm M14 artillery rocket . . . only the warhead had been damaged, suggesting that this had not been packed with high explosives. According to reference material, the potential warhead of the M14 was a chemical payload: 2.2 kilograms of the nerve agent sarin.”

@bellingcat today (28 March 2022): “Bellingcat can confirm that three members of the Ukrainian delegation attending peace talks between Ukraine and Russia on the night of 3 – 4 March 2022 experienced symptoms consistent with poisoning with chemical weapons.”

@bellingcat today: “Three members of the negotiating team retreated to an apartment in Kyiv later that night and felt initial symptoms — including eye and skin inflammation and piercing pain in the eyes — later that night. The symptoms did not abate until the morning.”

Weekend Sky: Philadelphia from 34 Floors Up

Check out some gorgeous skies on Hammad’s Weekend Sky Challenge!

This view of Philadelphia faces the Delaware River and the Ben Franklin bridge. New Jersey is just on the other side.

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