Russia bares its teeth . . .

From USA Today:

NATO officials said on Friday that Moscow has sent Russian-manned artillery units into Ukraine in recent days and was using them to shell Ukrainian forces as part of a "major escalation" of Russian involvement in the disputed region.


Can we stop pretending now?

Free Hogs story on Kindle

This special Hogs Birthday short story is free for the next five days. You can download it here.

'A stain on the human race'

ISIS summed up:

ROCHESTER, NH —The grieving parents of journalist James Wright Foley are haunted by their son’s gruesome death at the hand of an Islamic State terrorist.
“He met the most horrific end and it haunts me how much pain he must have been in and how cruel this method of execution is,” said his brokenhearted dad, John, who started sobbing as he spoke outside their home with his wife, Diane, and their son Michael.
“They are a stain on the human race,” he said. “It’s just awful. There simply isn’t enough being done. If more was done, then Jim would be here right now.”

NY Post story. (One of many.)
Everything that's wrong with branding . . .

. . . or maybe pop culture, in one easy-to-loathe moment.

From the NY Times:
Unsure of how best to freshen the musty franchise, the studio commissioned market research, which to its delight found that Lassie retained an 83 percent “brand awareness” among Americans; words like “loyal,” “hero” and “heartwarming” were most often associated with the character.
“We realized that Lassie has an authenticity that makes her a merchandising holy grail,” Mr. Francis said.


(Nice pun in the headline: Lassie as Salesdog: One More Trip to the Well.)
ISIS finances

For those looking for more information about ISIS, Patrick B. Johnston and Benjamin Bahney have published a summary of their findings on the group's finances, estimating that they are currently taking in some $1 million a day.

From the piece, in the NY Times:

...[The group's] money came mostly from protection rackets that extorted the commercial, reconstruction, and oil sectors of northern Iraq’s economy. The group also made considerable money through war itself, plundering millions of dollars from local Christians and Shiites, whom ISIS views as apostates.
We believe that ISIS will remain financially solvent for the foreseeable future. A conservative calculation suggests that ISIS may generate a surplus of $100 million to $200 million this year that it could reinvest in state-building.

The View series, mentioned below, shows ISIS the way it wants to be portrayed - which is scary enough. Imagine what it looks like to the people on the ground when the cameras are gone.