Body armor vs. field expedient weaponry

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Barrel-chested German slingshotter Jörg tests surplus police body armor against random weapons he has bought or devised:

This is what the Internet is for.

Sci-Fi Movies as Pulp Books

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Tim Anderson has started a series of hardboiled detective book covers based on modern sci-fi movies — The Matrix, Alien, and Blade Runner:

Blade Runner fits the hardboiled style perfectly.

(Hat tip to Boing Boing.)

Simulation Training and the Stress of Post-Shooting Interviews

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Police officers faced with a realistic training scenario undergo plenty of stress — and plenty more when they talk about it later:

Last October, under Lewinski’s direction, and with coordination by Branch Board representative Dave Blocksidge, 48 male and female volunteers from London’s armed response teams, SWAT unit and diplomatic protection group were fitted with heart-rate monitors by Justin Dixon, head of the exercise physiology lab for the Met force.

Divided into teams of 3 and armed with Glock 17s loaded with Simunition blanks, they were assigned one team at a time to participate in the same scenario: an armed robber had been shot and was in a hospital setting; they were to respond to his bedside as a protection-and-containment unit.

As each team entered a simulated hospital lobby, filled with patients and visitors, they unexpectedly witnessed a verbal altercation in progress between a receptionist and a man who claimed to be the brother of the wounded bandit. He was adamantly insisting on seeing the suspect; the receptionist was standing firm that no visitors were allowed.

The male role-player kept escalating the situation, even grabbing the receptionist if that’s what it took to provoke the officers to intervene. (This was so realistically staged that during one enactment when Lewinski was playing the receptionist, he was dragged across a desk and broke his glasses!)

As officers responded to calm the conflict, another “brother” of the armed robber unexpectedly popped out of a room off the lobby, wielding a sawed-off shotgun and holding a female hostage. He fired Simunition blasts out of both barrels into the floor, then pointed the gun at the officers and started to make loud demands that his wounded brother be freed.

As soon as officers responded–invariably by shooting and controlling him–the scenario ended. (Interestingly, the volunteers were highly enough trained that even though they had never worked together before, each team automatically split its areas of responsibility so that while 2 officers dealt with the receptionist squabble one stayed alert to the surrounding environment. “As a result,” Lewinski recalls, “the response to the suspect with the shotgun was so fast he never got a chance to fully voice his demands.”)

Immediately after the scenario, the officers, still wearing their heart monitors, were divided into different groups. Some conferred with other team members on what they had just experienced, which Lewinski says is standard after-action practice on London Met. Others were not permitted to confer. Then each of these groups was further divided. Some wrote reports of the incident and some were interviewed.

The interviews were conducted by trained investigators who had undergone refresher sessions on cognitive interviewing techniques before the scenario. Again, cognitive interviewing, a specialized technique in which all an officer’s senses are explored in an effort to enhance memory of a stressful experience, is standard practice on London Met, Lewinski says. (The refresher training, in this case, was provided by Dr. Amina Memon, a psychologist with the University of Glasgow and a recognized expert on that interviewing style.)

Finally, the officers were subjected to aerobic fitness tests during which Dixon measured their pulse rates and oxygen levels.

The two major findings:

  1. Pulse rates among the officers spiked to 160 bpm once the shooting started. “That’s roughly double the normal heart rate for a reasonably fit person,” Lewinski says.
  2. During the post-scenario interviews, when participants were asked to recall details of the threat encounter, heart monitors recorded jumps in the officers’ pulse rates up to 135 bpm, about 60% of their maximum heart rate.

Erik Scott

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I had somehow missed the story of Erik Scott until a recent Reason piece mentioned it:

Erik Scott, a 1994 U.S. Military Academy grad with an MBA from Duke University, was shopping when a Costco employee noticed a handgun in his waistband and called a supervisor. Scott, a medical device salesman, explained the gun was registered and he had a concealed carry permit, but the employee said Costco’s policy forbids firearms, although it posts no signs at entrances and doesn’t mention the ban in membership applications.

The employee then told a manager, who notified a private security guard, who called police, saying a customer was acting erratically.

As Erik Scott walked to the exit, more than a dozen police cruisers rolled up. Officers jumped out, yelled conflicting commands at Scott — “Get on the ground!” “Drop your weapon!” “Keep your hands up!” — and then shot him within two seconds of issuing those commands, Scott says, citing dispatch recordings.

Mosher, who shot and killed a citizen in 2006, shot him twice, and Mendiola and Stark shot him five times in his back, after he fell, Scott says.

Police didn’t take possession of Costco’s video until five days later, but the segments of the shooting were found to be corrupted.

The same day as the shooting, the Public Administrator, a former Vegas officer, and a police officer used a locksmith to gain entry to Erik’s condo, where they confiscated a West Point saber mounted in a shadow box and a pistol he kept in a drawer, logging those items in police reports.

But after the search was conducted, the family realized two other handguns were missing and not logged in police reports. Scott contends the cops wanted a second gun, because they claimed Erik pulled a gun on them, prompting them to fire. But that story didn’t gibe with a report medics had written for their employer, American Medical Response, saying the gun was still on Erik, when he was placed inside the ambulance. Medics gave the gun to police, and photos of the shooting scene taken by police show a handgun and a phone on the pavement, after the pavement had been washed of blood, Scott says.

Police later claimed Erik was carrying two guns: one found by medics and a second he had drawn on officers. “He never carried a second gun,” his father says. Scott notes it would have been easy for police to learn about his son’s other guns, because Erik’s permit in his wallet listed all the guns he was licensed to carry.

“Everyone who testified [at the coroner’s inquest] said he was unremarkable and didn’t pose a threat,” Scott says.

But evidence at the inquest showed Erik had been taking pain killers — for a back injury, his doctor testified — leading authorities to depict him as a drug abuser, Scott says.

Girls Are As Athletic As Boys

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Girls are as athletic as boys, a recent study says — if you take the terms quite literally and limit yourself to self-selected swimmers:

Researchers from Indiana University analyzed data from more than 1.9 million swim meets, registered with the organizaton USA Swimming. The meets they studied, all 50-yard freestyle events, included both boys and girls between the ages of six and 19, broken up into age groups. They found no gender difference in the performance of six to eight-year-olds and a negligible difference between 11 and 12-year-old boys and girls. Around puberty — ages 13 to 16 — the accelerated growth and muscle development of many boys meant they began to surpass the performance of female counterparts.

Anatomy of a Knockout

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

James LaFond studied 250 knife fights for his book The Logic of Steel.

When the FBI called him soon after 9/11, he assumed they’d found a copy of his book in some terrorist’s hotel room. Instead, they wanted him to research the Anatomy of a Knockout for them:

Apparently, after some fat crack-head died of heart failure while being choked, the DOJ basically told the FBI [and by extension the other law-enforcement agencies around the country] to go back to beating people until they submit. Tom requested an incapacitation study, and I did my best. [... ] Look, what follows is just a bunch of percentages.

LaFond studied 1675 acts of violence compiled between June 1996 and May 2000, and a third ended in incapacitation as a result of impact (not exhaustion or choke) — a KO.

A few points stand out. First, throwing and stomping are very effective, because street fights are on a hard street — and because those techniques only come into play when the victim’s overwhelmed. Second, sucker punches are really effective.

Post-apocalyptic bureaucracies

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Eric Crampton imagines a zombie version of The Wire, where we  follow the free-market think-tank types, the bureaucracy, a vigilante crew, and the zombies at the start of the zombie apocalypse and then suggests how post-apocalyptic bureaucracies would behave:

Council declares a “Red Zone” for the worst zombie-affected areas of town. Residents have to evacuate their (still very defensible) homes. But they make no provision for alternative housing arrangements while insisting on strict enforcement of all the pre-zombie regulations that kept housing in short supply. Higher income people leave town; lower income people start living in far less defensible cars, tents, and garages, with predictably bad results.

Local hoteliers complain of lost custom from the zombie outbreak. Council sends the Mayor out on a tourism promotion campaign to encourage more people to come to the infected city. The results are, well, you guessed it.

Government bars schools from excluding zombie-infected-but-still-living-and-certainly-contagious children. Local teachers’ unions rally not against the regulation but instead against the publication of league-tables that would tell parents which schools had the worst infection rates.

The vigilante crews that kill zombies are brought up on charges because the zombies still count as people under the law. The Government passes legislation under urgency allowing zombie-killing, but only under fairly stringent licensing guidelines demanded by a coalition partner ensuring that tapu is respected. Anybody who wants to kill a zombie has to get a certificate that they’ve completed relevant tikanga training. You have to fly to another city for training because the normal Council training facility is overrun by zombies.

The Department of Conservation modifies their 1080 poison traps with “extra brain flavouring” to knock out the zombies. Environmental campaigners lobby to stop them because the new traps also attract endangered snails; the government proposes partial privatization of DoC. The lobby group opposes the latter part because it doesn’t go far enough, and opposes the former part because it crowds out private zombie-eradication service providers.

Overseas scientists come up with a virus that kills only zombies. As it was constructed using genetic modification techniques, the Greens oppose its use in New Zealand. Eventually, some farmers get fed up with the bureaucracy and import it on their own. But because they don’t do a great job in dispersing it, it only knocks the zombies back for a few weeks before new and resistant zombies lurch forward.

Working-Memory Training

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Numerous studies provide evidence for the general intellectual benefits of working memory training:

In reviews of the training literature, Shipstead, Redick, and Engle (2010, 2012) argued that the field should treat recent results with a critical eye. Many published working memory training studies suffer from design limitations (no-contact control groups, single measures of cognitive constructs), mixed results (transfer of training gains to some tasks but not others, inconsistent transfer to the same tasks across studies), and lack of theoretical grounding (identifying the mechanisms responsible for observed transfer). The current study compared young adults who received 20 sessions of practice on an adaptive dual n-back program (working memory training group) or an adaptive visual search program (active placebo-control group) with a no-contact control group that received no practice. In addition, all subjects completed pretest, midtest, and posttest sessions comprising multiple measures of fluid intelligence, multitasking, working memory capacity, crystallized intelligence, and perceptual speed. Despite improvements on both the dual n-back and visual search tasks with practice, and despite a high level of statistical power, there was no positive transfer to any of the cognitive ability tests.

How Not to Ruin a Swimming Prodigy

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

In almost every field — athletic, academic, or artistic — the current experts started their training at a young age with a kindly local teacher or coach, then moved on to a more rigorous instructor, and then moved on to a nationally recognized instructor as they entered adulthood.

Benjamin Bloom’s Developing Talent in Young People documents this pattern in piano, tennis, swimming, sculpture, math, and research neurology.

Missy “the Missile” Franklin, the 17-year-old world champion in the 200-meter backstroke, has followed a different path, sticking with her original “starfish” coach, Todd Schmitz, whose emphasis has been on not ruining his swimming prodigy:

For years, Franklin’s parents have been urged to move their child to California, Texas or Florida to train with coaches whose swimmers have won enough Olympic hardware to fill a vault. The Franklins decline to identify the sources of such pressure, in part because they say it is well meaning.

The Franklins believe they already happened upon the ideal coach for their daughter. Schmitz, who earns a salary of about $70,000 a year, arrives at the pool around 5 each morning and during the school year leaves most evenings at 7.

His work ethic and passion for coaching were apparent when he swam at Metro State, where after practice he hung around to write down that day’s routine and ask about the philosophy behind it. “That’s rare,” said Andy Lehner, ex-coach of Metro State’s now-defunct swim team. “Most kids after practice are pretty focused on what their next meal is going to be.”

As a coach, however, Schmitz stands out for a devotion to rest and play. No less important than his swimmers’ splits is whether they are having fun inside and outside the natatorium. At practice, if the kids seem spent, he’ll end the workout midway through and start a game of water polo. “He’s a fun loving kid, he laughs with them, he plays loud music,” said D.A. Franklin, Missy’s mother.

Schmitz’s swimmers also go through a structured dry land practice twice a week that focuses on building core strength and athleticism. “Looking at a black line all day, every day gets awfully dull,” he said.

Even when it comes to improving form—something other coaches regard as a strict science—Schmitz believes in the art of play. Sometimes, in fact, he orders his charges into the deep end for a session of vertical kicking, with the aim of lifting their torsos out of the water.

“A lot of this is about simply playing around in the water,” he said. “That’s what kids do naturally, and the play engages the mind and gives the swimmer the tools to figure out the right way to move their body.”


When Missy first joined the Starfish, the Stars’ youngest group, Schmitz says her strokes were hardly Olympian, and she didn’t care much for practice. When the workout board called for 50-yard sprints, Missy sometimes sat out one for each one she swam.

But from the outset she took pleasure in reaching the wall first. At age 12 she broke three national age group records in one meet. As she moved from the Starfish group to the adolescent division of the Colorado Stars, Schmitz followed her, with the club’s board promoting him to head coach in 2008.

Many coaches with a prodigy in their stable would choose to increase her workouts to test her potential. But in the view of Schmitz, the biggest danger for Franklin and for all his swimmers is burnout. So even as Franklin broke record after record, Schmitz treated her like everyone else her age in his elite group. That was the equivalent of owning a Ferrari and driving the speed limit.

This meant that Franklin would swim two hours a day, five or six days a week, with an average of roughly 4,000-5,000 yards per day—less than half the yardage logged by top college swimmers. In the summer, he doesn’t hold Saturday morning practices, giving Franklin and all of his other swimmers a weekend-long break from the pool.

“The last thing I want to do is for them to get to the end of the summer and feel like all they’ve done is swim,” he said.

Even in the run-up to the Olympic trials, Franklin usually takes off two days a week. One recent week, Schmitz told Franklin to skip practice to get ready for her boyfriend’s prom. Working with Schmitz, Franklin says she has come to believe that balance is as important to her success as stroke improvement.

North Korean Labor Camps

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

When our Slovenian guest mentioned this Vice piece on North Korean labor camps, I didn’t realized it was about North Korean labor camps in Siberia:

Diagnosed with Plague

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The bubonic plague hasn’t completely disappeared, even from the US, where seven cases are diagnosed in an average year, primarily in the southwest.

I don’t know why an Oregon man would try to take a dead rodent from the mouth of a stray cat, but he did, the cat bit him, and now he’s been diagnosed with plague:

The plague bacteria cycles through rodent populations without killing them off; in urban areas, it’s transmitted back and forth from rats to fleas. There’s even a name for it, the “enzootic cycle.”

The bacteria thrive in forests, semi-arid areas and grasslands, which plague-carrying rodents from wood rats to rock squirrels call home.

Once a coin flip with death, the plague is now easier to handle for humans in the U.S. The national mortality rate stood at 66 percent before World War II, but advances in antibiotics dropped that rate to its present 16 percent.

Central Oregon health officials don’t blame the cat.

“The reality is that, in rural areas, part of the role of cats is to keep the rodent population controlled around our homes and barns” said Karen Yeargain of the Crook County Health Department.

The Prineville man, who is in his 50s, remained in critical condition Friday at a Bend hospital. His illness marks the fifth case of plague in Oregon since 1995.

State public health veterinarian Dr. Emilio DeBess said the man was infected when he was bitten by the stray his family befriended. The cat died and its body is being sent to the CDC for testing.

Reading and Exercise Appear Similarly Beneficial

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

A recent Sociology of Health and Illness paper finds that reading and exercise appear similarly beneficial in terms of BMI — and this leads to a befuddled analysis:

The study uses survey data from 17 nations, most of which are in Europe. In each country, a representative sample of the population was asked not only about height and weight, but also about time spent in a variety of activities. These included reading, going to cultural events, socializing with family and friends, attending sporting events, watching TV, going shopping, and exercising.

A scale that measures interest in ideas, art, and knowledge — by surveying the amount of time spent reading, attending cultural events, going to movies, and using the Internet — is associated as strongly as exercise with a lower body-mass index, or BMI (a measure of weight relative to height). In other words, reading and exercise appear similarly beneficial in terms of BMI.

In contrast, people participating in other activities such as watching TV, socializing, playing cards, attending sporting events, and shopping have higher average BMI. Although time spent reading and time spent watching TV both expend few calories, one is associated with lower weight, and the other with higher weight.


More highly educated people tend to both read more and weigh less. Perhaps knowledge gained from schooling gives insight into the importance of proper weight for good health. In addition, mastering difficult coursework in college can help build confidence in one’s ability to reach difficult goals – including managing weight.

The data for 17 nations examined in the study did not allow for accurate measurement of family income. Yet, it’s reasonable to think higher income helps maintain body weight in several ways, such as allowing consumers to buy expensive fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats rather than cheaper starchy and fatty products.

That said, the association between BMI and reading and related activity can still be found even after controlling for education and other measures of socioeconomic status.

Perhaps the key is that groups sharing similar intellectual and cultural interests likely also share common lifestyles for health. It makes sense that members of a social network will share many ideals, and some of those ideals may relate to health and body weight. (See this article for another take on the importance of friends and families in fighting obesity.)

Among groups that most enjoy reading and cultural events, a healthy lifestyle and thinness may bring respect, while unhealthy behavior and being grossly overweight may bring criticism, even shame. If reading and related cultural interests lead to social networks of like-minded people, peer influence may help in maintaining or losing weight.

I’m sure it’s the esoteric knowledge of diet and exercise that the young members of the cultural elite had revealed to them in college — knowledge that has been hidden from the masses to keep them ignorant and pliable. They must never learn that a 44-ounce soft drink is bad for them, or they will challenge our power!

Paying More for Walkable Neighborhoods

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Brookings Institute researchers Christopher Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo have created a five-tiered scale of walkability for metropolitan neighborhoods and analyzed just how much more people will pay for walkability:

Looking at the Washington, D.C., region, they’ve calculated that moving from a Level 1 to a Level 2 walkable neighborhood (from a non-walkable place to a slightly less non-walkable one), you will wind up paying $301.76 a month more in rent for a similar home. If you’re really moving up in the world – from, say, that car-dependent exurb to a Georgetown flat – that means the premium to live in a walkable urban community may run you as much as $1,500 a month.


For each step up this walkablity ladder (which was constructed using both Walk Score and the Irvine Minnesota Inventory of urban design dimensions linked to walkability), a store is likely to boost its retail sales by 80 percent, in part thanks to all this sidewalk traffic. The value of your home is likely to go up by $81.54 per square foot. Average rent per square foot of office space, meanwhile, goes up $8.88. (These are all, by the way, correlations, not causal explanations, although Leinberger expects that urban researchers will prove that link eventually.)

The Glacially Slow Conquest of Scurvy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Seth Roberts looks at the glacially slow conquest of scurvy:

In a paper called “Innovation and Evaluation” (gated), Frederick Mosteller, a professor of statistics at Harvard, noted how long it took. In 1601, James Lancaster, a sea captain, did an experiment involving four ships on a long voyage. Men on one ship got lemon juice, men on the other three ships did not. The men given lemon juice were far less likely to get scurvy. In 1747, James Lind, a doctor, compared six purported cures for scurvy. Lemons and oranges (one cure) were much better than the other five (as Lind expected). In 1795 the British Navy started using citrus juice regularly and wiped out scurvy on their ships. In 1865, the British Board of Trade recommended citrus juice for commercial ships. It took more than 200 years for a simple and effective remedy — discovered before Lancaster — to spread widely.

Why is this relevant today?

The sailors at risk of scurvy did not control what they ate. The people who controlled what they ate never got scurvy. Sure, the people who controlled what sailors ate did not want them to get scurvy (high rates of scurvy were a big problem) but they also had other concerns. The lesson I draw from this story is do not let anyone else (doctor, expert, etc.) solve your health problems for you. Sure, other people, as part of their job, will sell you something, provide advice, write a prescription, provide therapy, do surgery, whatever. It might work. They want to help you — the more they help you, the better they look, the more business they attract. But it is entirely possible, this bit of history teaches, that they are slow on the uptake or have conflicts of interest and a much better solution is available.

It’s time we got scared

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The good thing about evil dictators, Alexander Boot says, is that they make no secret about their evil plans. The bad thing is that we don’t listen:

Neither Lenin nor Hitler ever bothered with subterfuge. The international socialist Lenin created Komintern, a giant subversive organisation run out of Moscow and explicitly devoted to deliver the world into Soviet concentration camps. Both Lenin and his accomplices, such as Trotsky and Bukharin, openly talked and wrote about world revolution as their desideratum, effectively declaring war on the West. The West’s reaction? Massive financial and technological support of the Bolshevik regime, eventually enabling Stalin to build a formidable military machine. That juggernaut was only a few weeks away from rolling over Europe, when Hitler’s pre-emptive attack pushed it back. When the machine was cranked up again, it could only gobble up half of Europe, something that upset Stalin no end.

Nor did the national socialist Hitler conceal his murderous plans, as any reader of Mein Kampf will confirm. The West’s reaction? Massive support of the Nazi regime, first ignoring its threat and then failing to deal with it early enough, say after the militarisation of the Rheinland, when Hitler could have been stopped dead at relatively little cost. The results of the Western tendency towards appeasement are well known. But the lessons of it aren’t well learned.

In strategic terms, the Putin regime today is roughly where Nazi Germany was in 1936 — at the accelerated stage of a rearmament programme. In addition to physical weapons, this includes metaphysical ones: propaganda aimed at creating the right frame of mind both in the country and its potential adversaries, in this instance NATO. Weapons are the domain of the Defence Ministry; propaganda is mostly the responsibility of the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service), formerly known as the KGB First Directorate charged with dealing with the West.

Both have spoken in the last few months, in a forthright manner that distinguishes those who know their cause is just. The propaganda bit came in a 32-minute video clip put together by the Russian Institute for Strategic Research (known as RISI in Russian or RISS in English) and shown on Russian television on 13 March, 2012. The RISI, whatever its official status, is an SVR think tank, and it’s run by Gen. Leonid Reshetnikov, until 2006 head of the SVR Analysis Department. In those days his name was different, but then what’s in a name? He is still doing the same job, with a few added responsibilities.

For those of you who understand Russian, I do suggest you watch this bit of shrill war propaganda. Others will have to rely on my digest of it, and I’ll stick close to the text, adding a few parenthetic remarks of my own.

The gist is that the West has always tried to destroy Russia because it was terrified by her growing might. It was the West, specifically America, that engineered the 1917 February Revolution that put an end to the monarchy. It was a dastardly Wall Street abetted by Britain that, using the German General Staff as a clearance house, financed the subsequent Bolshevik takeover.

It was the West that falsely accused the Soviets of unprecedented atrocities when its own record, specifically during the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, was no better. In the interests of scholarly integrity the clip doesn’t hold the United States directly responsible for those outrages, rather implying that all Western countries are tarred with the same historical brush, and have been since the Middle Ages.

[Just to keep the record straight, the Inquisition carried out about 30,000 death sentences in the 400 years it was in business. The Soviets murdered over 60 million of their own citizens between 1917 and 1987 (Source: Prof. RJ Rummel’s book Lethal Politics, 1990). Both figures are reprehensible, but the latter is 2,000 times more so, if my arithmetic serves.]

When the Soviet Union grew too strong for America’s comfort, explains the clip, she bribed Gorbachev, Yeltsyn, liberals, democrats, liberal democrats, oligarchs, emphatically including Boris Berezovsky, and other traitors into destroying the country and breaking it up into 15 feeble fragments. It then bribed them further into putting in place liberal reforms that brought Russia to her knees, fostering starvation, unemployment, homelessness, stray children and civil conflicts responsible for killing up to 600,000 people. [‘Up to’ are fraught words, covering in this instance the range from one to 600,000, but then the Russians’ actuarial techniques are notoriously vague when it comes to human lives.]

Now the West is worried by Russia’s growing strength under her great national leader Putin, and it’s trying to undermine her as best it can. Specifically, it finances and organises all those White Ribbon demonstrations against Putin, as proved by video sequences showing opposition leaders walking in the general direction of the US Embassy. [If it’s true that the Embassy can organise rallies involving hundreds of thousands, then my hat’s off to it. But, considering its rather limited resources and a long history of incompetence in such matters, perhaps the metaphorical hat should remain perched on my head.]

The West, according to the RISI, would dearly love to bomb Russia into docility or, preferably, the Middle Ages. Direct proof for such intentions isn’t offered, while the indirect variety supposedly comes from NATO’s action in Iraq, Serbia and Lybia, where not only poor Saddam, Milosevich and Col. Gaddafi but even the Colonel’s little grandchildren were brutally murdered. [Contextually, by the Americans and, by association, Russian liberals.] Russia’s friends Chavez and Assad are also under mortal threat. Yet the West can’t bomb Russia, considering her growing military muscle under Putin.

The video then reels off a few numbers, such as Russia’s GDP that under Putin has grown 10-fold [a parallel increase in world prices of hydrocarbons, Russia’s chief export, isn’t mentioned] and her military expenditure that has been increased by a similar proportion. The latter achievement is then illustrated by sequences, showing missile launches, and a few pieces of hard data. Apparently, Putin’s army is about to receive 60 new AA systems, 90 new types of warplanes and uncountable new missile systems, including those with a range of 5,500 km and those armed with 15 MIRVs.

The whole tone of the film is indistinguishable from Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s or Brezhnev’s war propaganda, and the nice xenophobic touches create just the right atmosphere. The Russians are implicitly told to be wary of the West and, above all, to support the Putin regime that won’t let the West get away with its sharp practices and murderous intentions.

Of course, just because it’s propaganda doesn’t mean it’s necessarily false…